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Title: William Bradley's Voyage to New South Wales
Author: William Bradley (edited by Colin Choat)
eBook No.: 1901251h.html
Language: English
Date first posted:  December 2019
Most recent update: May 2022

This eBook was produced by: Colin Choat


Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia Licence.

William Bradley's Voyage to New South Wales

edited by

Colin Choat

Published 2019


The cover image shows the Governor's House at Sydney, Port Jackson, 1791


William Bradley's Journal, open at page 123, showing one of the water colour sketches.
Courtesy of State Library of New South Wales


This ebook is based on a transcript of William Bradley's Journal, December 1786 — May 1792, compiled 1802, prepared by the State Library of New South Wales

A Project Gutenberg Australia version of the transcript can be found at Bradley's listing at Project Gutenberg Australia. The present ebook builds on that version to provide a more readable book, without most abbreviations and without archaic spelling. In the journal many nouns were capitalised, as was common usage at the time. Most are not capitalised now, as it is not common usage to do so. Further, minor changes in sentence structure have occasionally been made to improve readability.

Sun and Moon: Throughout the journal, symbols are often used to denote the sun and moon, where they are used in taking readings of latitude and longitude. "Sun" is shown in the journal as a circle with a period at the centre. "Moon" is shown as a crescent symbol. When used in this way in the journal, the words are shown in square brackets in this ebook.

As a matter of interest, Arthur Bowes Smyth, who also travelled to Australia as part of the First Fleet, noted in his journal, on 23 December 1787, that "the method of reckoning time at sea is the reverse of what they do on shore. From 12 o'clock at noon of one day to 12 at noon the next is a day, whereas on shore they reckon from midnight to midnight." This accounts for the fact that, on many occasions, Bradley records the pm details of the day, before the am details.

The many inconsistencies in the presentation of readings of latitude and longitude have been altered to provide a standardised format which can be used in Google maps. For example, 2254'S, 4319'W finds Rio de Janeiro if pasted into the "Search Google Maps" box. Note, however, that seconds of degrees (") do not seem to be supported by Google Maps. Nor are the words "latitude" and "longitude" or abbreviations thereof accepted in the "Search Google Maps" box. When used, no result is returned.

Bradley was inconsistent in his presentation of daily dates. His text has been retained, however date headers have been added in this ebook, to allows the reader to see at a glance the date of each entry as indicated by Bradley.

I have set out to produce a readable version of the journal and trust that you will enjoy it. If you want a verbatim transcript, or to view page images, you must go to State Library of NSW web site, via the links below.

Colin Choat
December 2019

Readers might also be interested in checking out:

Source documents relating to

[* See Appendix for details.]

are from the State Library of New South Wales

The Library also provides details of the journal and the circumstances of the Library's acquisition thereof.


December 1786
January 1787
February 1787
March 1787
April 1787
May 1787
June 1787
July 1787
August 1787
September 1787
October 1787
November 1787
December 1787

January 1788
February 1788
March 1788
April 1788
May 1788
June 1788
July 1788
August 1788
September 1788
October 1788
November 1788
December 1788

January 1789
February 1789
March 1789
April 1789
May 1789
June 1789
July 1789
August 1789
September 1789
October 1789
November 1789
December 1789

January 1790
February 1790
March 1790
April 1790
May 1790
June 1790
July 1790
August 1790

February 1791
March 1791

Account of the different kinds of timber in Port Jackson
Account of the Bounty by Lieutenant Bligh

March 1791 (Cont.)
April 1791
May 1791
June 1791
July 1791
August 1791
September 1791
October 1791
November 1791
December 1791

January 1792
February 1792
March 1792
April 1792
May 1792

Appendix—documents included in bound Journal

Images from the Journal

These watercolours are bound or hinged into William Bradley's Journal, 'A Voyage to New South Wales, 1786-1792,' at the page indicated above the image. They were probably painted some years after the events depicted as the entire journal seems to be a fair copy made ca. 1802.*

[* State Library of New South Wales]

1. 'Sirius, Supply and Convoy: Needle Point ENE 3 miles. Hyaena in Company. 13 May 1787.'
2. 'Santa Cruz on the SE side of Teneriffe; Sirius and Convoy in the Roads, June 1787. The Peak Showing in a gap between two other mountains.'
3. 'Villyanon, Convent del Gloria to the Aqueduct. Rio Janeiro 1787.'
4. 'In Rio Janeiro, looking towards the entrance. 1787.'
5. 'City of St. Sebastians, Rio Janeiro: Sirius and Convoy at anchor, 1787.'
6. 'View of a fortified bay on the eastern side the entrance of Rio Janeiro.'
7. 'Fortified Bay on the western side the entrance of Rio Janeiro, Coast of Brazil.'
8. 'Cape Town, Table Mountain etc. Sirius and Convoy in Table Bay, November. 1787.'
9. 'Botany Bay. Sirius and convoy going in: Supply and agent's Division in the Bay. 21 January 1788.'
10. 'Entrance of Port Jackson 27 January 1788.'
11. 'First interview with the native women at Port Jackson, New South Wales.'
12. 'Sydney Cove, Port Jackson. 1788.'
12a. 'William Bradley's Map of Sydney Cove. State Library of New South Wales'
13. 'View in Broken Bay, New South Wales. March 1788.'
14. 'SW. Arm of Broken Bay New South Wales from an island at the entrance. September 1789.'
15. 'North arm of Broken Bay New South Wales from an island at the entrance September 1789.'
16. 'A View in upper part of Port Jackson; when the fish was shot.'
17. 'View in Port Jackson from the South Head leading up to Sydney; Supply sailing in.'
18. 'Ice passed November 25. 1788. 5730'S, 28800'E. In the Sirius.'
19. 'Ice islands through which the Sirius sailed, December 14, 1788, off Cape Horn.'
20. 'Taking of Colbee and Bennelong. 25 November 1789.'
21. 'Part of the reef and landing places, Sydney Bay. Sirius and Supply endeavouring to work out of the Bay. March 19 1790.'
22. 'Part of the reef in Sydney Bay, Norfolk Island, on which the Sirius was wrecked. 19 March 1790.'
23. 'Phillip and Nepean Islands. Justinian and Surprise standing into Sydney Bay. 23 August 1790.'
24. 'Governor's House at Sydney, Port Jackson 1791.'
25. 'Port Hunter, Duke of York's Island, May 1791.'
26a. 'NE side of Hummock Island, off southern end of Mindanoo, August 1791.'
26b. 'NE side of Pulo Sanguy. S4E, S60W. August 1791.'
27. 'Water spouts off the coast of Java near Batavia. 24 September 1791. Waakzamheydt.'
28a. 'Batavia.'
28b. 'Onrust in Batavia Bay.'
29. 'James's Valley, St. Helena 1792.'

Other Images, not made by Bradley.

30. The "Cuffnells" (not part of the First Fleet) at the Motherbank, painted in 1796, by R. Dodd.

31. The First Fleet entering Port Jackson, January 26, 1788, lithograph by Edmund Le Bihan.

32. Plan of Port Jackson, 1788, drafter by John Hunter.

33. Sydney Cove, 1788, National Library of Australia map


Sydney Cove, 1788. National Library of Australia, map

William Bradley's Voyage to New South Wales

September — December 1786

[Page 1]

page 1

[An image of page 1 of Bradleys mamuscript journal.]

According to previous advertisements, tenders were received for transports to carry convicts to Botany Bay on the coast of New South Wales and taken up the 12th of September 1786 in five vessels measuring about 300 tons more than advertised for.

The Berwick store ship about that time was taken into dock at Deptford, it being intended that she should be fitted as a man of war for this expedition.

The Grantham packet was purchased into the service to be employed as a tender, but on examination was found very rotten and totally unfit for the voyage, in consequence of which, the Supply navy transport was ordered to Deptford and fitted in lieu of the Grantham.

Three ships measuring 990 tons were also taken up as store ships and stowed under the direction of Captain Tier, agent for transports in the river.

25 October 1786

The 25th of October. The Berwick store ship was commissioned and named the Sirius. Captain Phillip, the intended Governor of the

[Page 2]

new colony, was appointed to the command of her. The Supply was also commissioned and the command of her given to Lieutenant H. L. Ball.

28 October 1786

The 28th. The Sirius, having a few hands, began rigging etc., from which to the 8th of December we were employed getting ready for sea, which was much retarded by bad weather and unavoidable delays in being furnished with some part of the stores. The provisions with which we were supplied were of the best quality. Wheat, sugar, essence of malt, mustard seed and other articles usually supplied in long voyages, we were also furnished with, and an unlimited order for officers stores.

5 December 1786

Tuesday, December 5. Captain Hunter came on board and, on the same day, the officers had directions from Captain Phillip to receive his orders for carrying on the duty.

9 December 1786

The 9th we sailed down the river and moored the same afternoon in Long Reach, just off Purfleet. We received our guns, powder etc. here and were ready with a pilot on board, the 15th, to proceed at the shortest notice.

15 December 1786

The 15th. Two of the transports passed us bound to the port where their proportion of convicts were to be embarked. The three store ships also passed, bound to the Motherbank*, the place of rendezvous.

[* Motherbank: A shallow sandbar off the north-east coast of the Isle of Wight in England. It lies in the Solent between Cowes and Ryde. (Wikipedia)]

21 December 1786

The 21st. Another of the transports passed. There now remained only two at Gallions (Alexander and Lady Penryhn*) both of which were to take in their proportion of convicts from the hulk at Woolwich and from Newgate and the Sirius detained at Long Reach to escort them.

[* Bradley's spelling is Lady Penrhyne.]

[Page 3]

Some alterations were found necessary to be made to the securities already fitted in those ships, from the representation of the officer commanding the party of marines on board the Alexander. It was also judged necessary to make some alterations in the handcuffs.

27 December 1786

On the 27th, these ships were again reported ready but were detained, as no orders had been yet given to discharge any convicts from the hulks to these transports.

The Board of longitude furnished the following instruments for the use of the voyage and new colony:

These instruments Captain Phillip gave a receipt for, promising to return them to the board (the dangers of the sea and other unavoidable accident excepted) at his return, or a receipt from such officer as may supersede him in the command. Lieutenant Dawes of the marines, a volunteer for the Botany Bay Detachment, having been introduced to Dr. Maskelyne, the Astronomer Royal, was acknowledged a proper person to make such observations on shore as might be judged of use.

[Page 4]

24 December 1786

The 24th. The Supply anchored in Long Reach.

By order of the King in Council, the admiralty were to appoint a second captain to the Sirius, with the rank of post captain and pay of a sixth rate with four servants, with full power to command her in absence of the principal captain, but nevertheless subject to his control and orders. In consequence of this, Captain John Hunter was appointed second captain of the Sirius, bearing date 15th December.

January 1787

In the beginning of January, a ship of 350 tons was taken up, the first tonnage being found very insufficient.

4 January 1787

January 4th. Orders were received at Woolwich for the convicts to be embarked on board the Alexander but some of them, being in a deplorable situation from disease, could not be received. A part of the women convicts were put on board the Lady Penrhyn. These ships were still detained, not having their full proportion of convicts on board.

13 January 1787

13th. The Supply sailed for the Nore.

18 January 1787

The 18th. We received orders to proceed to Portsmouth with the Alexander and Lady Penrhyn as soon as they joined us. These orders were pleasing to us, and particularly so, as the situation of the Sirius with respect to her being kept in constant readiness for sea, while lying off Purfleet, was rendered very precarious being subject, in light winds and calm thick weather (which we had much of), to have vessels driving on board us every tide.

[Page 5]

We had several foul of us, one of which carried away the spritsail yard, which was the only damage we received from them. The Supply had her bowsprit carried away by a large ship falling on board her and which was the cause of her being ordered to the Nore.

19 January 1787

The 19th. It was discovered that some of the convicts on board the Alexander had got their handcuffs off. What they could promise themselves from such an attempt appears strange, as it would have been impossible for any of them to have effected their escape, with the guard and precautions used on board that ship, had they all been loose in the place of their confinement. They were handcuffed two together, or had chains on. Those that were handcuffed were never separated, but obliged to move together upon all occasions.

Between decks, in which these people were confined, was guarded by a strong bulk head abaft ,with loop holes and filled with nails, marine sentinels at the hatchway where a ladder was put down occasionally and, when down, particularly attended by those sentinels. A guard boat also was constantly attending those ships after sunset while at Gallions.

21 January 1787

The 21st. An officer was sent from the Sirius to the Alexander, (whose mast heads we could see over the land), to order a signal by which we might be informed when the remainder of the convicts were embarking and also a signal to let us know when the Alexander was going to get under weigh. The intention of these signals was that the Sirius might be unmoored, ready to join them as they came down.

[Page 6]

25 January 1787

25th. Orders were received to proceed to Portsmouth with the Alexander and Lady Penrhyn, without waiting for them to complete their number of convicts. The wind setting in at east prevented those ships from joining us immediately, as ordered. The Lady Penrhyn joined us the 28th and went on to Gravesend, having occasion to stop there.

29 January 1787

The 29th. The Alexander passed us and proceeded to Gravesend where they had likewise occasion to stop.

30 January 1787

Tuesday, 30th. We sailed from Long Reach and passed the Alexander and Lady Penrhyn. They, not being ready, were ordered to follow us to the Nore as soon as possible. In the afternoon we moored at the Nore in twelve fathoms water. Nore light NW by W, Minster Church SW. Here the Supply joined us from the Little Nore.

February 1787

1 February 1787

February 1st. The transports joined us. The complement of women convicts had been completed (104) while at Gravesend.

2 February 1787

2nd. The weather was so very unsettled and thick that we could not move until 11am when it, clearing away with a breeze at WSW, sailed immediately, the Supply armed tender, Alexander and Lady Penrhyn transports in Company. It soon falling calm, we anchored between the east buoy of the Oaze and west buoy of the Mouse, at the entrance of the Nubb Channel, in 9 fathoms water.

3 February 1787

The 3rd at 7am weighed and made sail with the wind at SW and ran through the Queen's Channel, as soon as the tide flowed sufficiently.

[Page 7]

It blowing very strong and it being impossible to get into the Downes before night, we anchored in Margate Road.

4 February 1787

Sunday, 4th. At 5am weighed and made sail. At 11 anchored in the Downes. The wind setting in at SW, moored the ship.

5 February 1787

The 5th. The wind at SE, made the signal and unmoored. The Lady Penrhyn got under sail and, passing near us, asked permission to go out and bring too off the foreland, which was granted on account of her heavy sailing. At 11am we weighed with the Supply and Alexander but the wind coming to the southward and the flood tide made, we were obliged to anchor again in the Downes. The Lady Penrhyn did not return on our coming to an anchor, although near enough to see the signal plainly.

6 February 1787

The 6th. The wind being fixed at SW and the weather having a bad appearance, moored the ship and made every preparation to ride out a gale of wind which came, as expected, and blew very strong all the 7th.

11 February 1787

Sunday, 11th. It again blew a gale of wind at SSW. The best bower* anchor came home; the ship did not bring up until both anchors were ahead. We had a cable and half on the best bower at the time, which gave us reason to suppose that our anchors were not sufficient for the ship or she would not have started with such a scope of cable when most of the merchant ships held fast.

[* Bower anchors: each of two anchors carried at a ship's bow, formerly distinguished as the best bower (starboard) and small bower (port).]

13 February 1787

Tuesday, 13th. The gale abated and the wind came to WNW. Hove up the small bower and got everything ready to proceed, whenever the wind should favour us.

15 February 1787

The 15th. The wind backed to the SW and by noon blew a hard gale of wind.

[Page 8]

From that quarter we were again under the necessity of giving the ship a large scope of cable and striking everything close down. Several ships drove this day, and the Houghton East Indiaman very near us, which obliged us to veer away 2 cables and let go the small bower to check the ship from falling on board her on the weather side. The Houghton took the first opportunity of the tide, making strong to windward to heave both her anchors up and give us a clear birth.

17 February 1787

Saturday, 17th. Moderate weather at daylight. Unmoored and got everything ready for sailing, the moment the wind should favour us.

18 February 1787

Sunday, 18th. Wind at NW, moderate breeze. Weighed and made sail but, the wind coming to WSW, anchored again.

19 February 1787

19th. Moderate breeze at NW. At 4am weighed and stood out of the Downes. H.M.* armed tender Supply and Alexander transport in company. At 11, the tide being done and falling calm, anchored off Dungeness. The lighthouse WS 3 or 4 miles. By the mean of 23 good observations taken in the Downes, I make the latitude of the southern foreland 5112'N.

[* H.M. His/Her Majesty's.]

20 February 1787

20th. At 3pm the tides making to the weatherward, weighed with a light breeze at NW, which increased and veered to the northward as the evening came on. At 6, passed Dungeness and at daylight saw Beachy Head, NE by N 6 miles. At noon, latitude by observation, 5032', Beachy Head NE, 4 leagues.

21 February 1787

21st pm. Wind variable with thick weather. AM at 9 saw the Isle of Wight. The weather cleared up with a moderate breeze at NE.

22 February 1787

Thursday, 22nd. At 2pm anchored at the Motherbank and moored immediately. Found the Scarborough and Lady Penrhyn transports and the 3 store ships lying here.

The Cuffnells at the Motherbank

The "Cuffnells" (not part of the First Fleet) at the Motherbank, painted in 1796 by Robert Dodd. (Wikipedia

[Page 9]

23 February 1787

Friday, 23rd. The Prince of Wales transport arrived.

While we lay in the Downes we found it necessary that some alteration should be made in the hawse pieces* as the cables had formerly worked on the spar deck with the windlass and now on the gun deck with a messenger. The shipwrights came on board to make those necessary alterations.

[* Hawse pieces: In a wooden ship, the timbers which form the bow, usually parallel to the stem and through which the hawse holes are cut. They are strengthened in the general construction of the ship by the breast hooks.]

24 February 1787

The 24th. A party of marines embarked on board, as did those belonging to the Supply, and that part of the detachment for the Scarborough transport.

March 1787

2 March 1787

Friday, March 2nd. 210 convicts arrived at Portsmouth in waggons under a guard of Light Horse, but it blowing a gale of wind at SW they could not be taken off to the transports. They were carried on board the Gorgon lying in Blockhouse Hole, under charge of the guard ships boats. Sunday morning it became moderate. They were taken to the Motherbank in sailing lighters belonging to the dock yard and put on board the Alexander and Scarborough transports.

8 March 1787

The 8th. We received 3 anchors in lieu of the bowers and spare anchor, which we had before found very insufficient to ride the ship in a gale of wind.

9 March 1787

The 9th. camp equipage* for 660 tents were received and distributed to the different ships.

[* Camp equipage: Equipment required to set up camp, including poles, mallets, hooks, etc.]

15 March 1787

The 15th. the Friendship transport arrived from Plymouth and the Charlotte the next day, both which had taken their proportion of men and women convicts at Plymouth.

[Page 10]

The greater part of the convicts on board the Alexander having been embarked near 8 months and being rather sickly, it was judged necessary that she should be smoked and whitewashed. For this purpose two decked lighters were furnished from the dock yard to receive such of the convicts as it was necessary to remove while it was doing.

23 March 1787

The 23rd. The Essex hulk was ordered to be fitted to receive those convicts, but the Alexander, being well cleaned, whitewashed, smoked and sponged with oil of tar, and the sick recovering fast, it was not judged necessary to use a hulk or even to keep both lighters, one of which was returned and the other kept for the their being whitewashed, which number was so trifling that this lighter was also returned as soon as most of the Alexander's sick had recovered.

24 March 1787

The 24th. Our Complement of seamen was filled up with volunteers from the guard ships.

April 1787

7 April 1787

April 7. Lord Hood hoisted his Flag on board the Triumph in Portsmouth harbour. Saluted ditto with 13 guns. About this time we were supplied with two cwt* of portable soup in addition to the proportion allowed the ship (50 lb), which altogether was but a small allowance for such a voyage, but small as it was, even that was not allowed by the Sick and Hurt Board until an order for that purpose was obtained from the Admiralty. Fresh beef was supplied for the convicts and wine allowed for such of the sick as the surgeon might judge necessary.

[* Cwt = Hundredweight. One English cwt. weighs 112 lbs. (pounds).]

[Page 11]

An additional proportion of vinegar was allowed to all the ships and a quantity of oil of tar.

May 1787

3 May 1787

May 3rd. Two men convicts and 36 women, with 2 children, arrived at Portsmouth and were immediately embarked.

7 May 1787

May 7th. Captain Phillip arrived at Portsmouth. He brought with him a timekeeper made by Mr. Kendal and a sextant, both furnished by the Board of Longitude for the use of the voyage. The timekeeper was sent by an officer to the Royal Academy at Portsmouth, and left in charge of Mr. Bayley the head master.

10 May 1787

The 10th. We were paid 2 months advance and the signal made to prepare for sailing.

11 May 1787

The 11th. Waiting only for a wind to carry the ships to sea, an officer was sent to bring on board the timekeeper, the rate of its going determined by Mr. Bayley. The 3 days which he had it, it lost 1",38' per day.

The precautions necessary to prevent the timekeeper from being let down were ordered by Captain Phillip who, with Captain Hunter or Mr. Dawes, were always to be present at the winding it at noon. And it was ordered to be the duty of the lieutenant who brought 12 o'clock to see it done and the officer who relieved him was not to take charge of the deck until he was informed that it was done. The sentinel at the cabin door was also ordered to plant himself inside the cabin, on hearing the bell ring at noon, and not to go out to be relieved until he was told, or saw, that the timekeeper was wound up by one of the officers. The management of the timekeeper for keeping the longitude by it was given to Lieutenant Dawes of the Marines.

[Page 12]

12 May 1787

Saturday, 12th. His Majesty's ship Hyaena, Captain DeCourcy, joined us at the Motherbank, being ordered under our Command, and to accompany us a certain distance. Unmoored and weighed with a breeze at SE, working to the eastward to get round St. Helens before night, but the wind failing us toward the evening and the eastern tide done, we were obliged to anchor at Spithead. The Convoy anchored as they could between the Motherbank and Spithead.

13 May 1787

Sunday, 13th. At 4am wind at SE, weighed and made sail to the Westward within the Isle of Wight, in company His Majesty's ship Hyaena, armed tender Supply with 6 transports, and 3 store ships under convoy. At 9 were through the Needles, St. Catharines open, and bearing SE. At Noon St. Albans Head N25W, distant 6 miles.

Botany Bay Establishment

Governor: His Excellency Arthur Phillip Esquire
Lieutenant-Governor: Robert Ross Esquire
Judge Advocate: David Collins
Surgeon General: John White
Surgeon Assistant: William Balmain
Surgeon Assistant: D. Considen
Surgeon Assistant: Thomas Arundale
Surveyor of Lands: Augustus Alt
Chaplain: Reverend Johnson
Commissary: Andrew Miller
Provost Martial
Parson's Clerk
Judge Advocates Clerk

[Page 13]


'Sirius, Supply & Convoy: Needle Point ENE 3 miles. Hyaena in Companny. 13 May 1787'

H:M:S: Sirius, Establishment, Officers and Men

Captain: Arthur Phillip Esq.    1
2nd Captain: John Hunter Esq.   1
             {William Bradley
Lieutenants: {Phillip G. King   3
             {George W. Maxwell
Master: Micah Morton            1
Lieutenant  Marines: W.m Dawes  1
Surgeon: George B. Worgan       1
Purser: John Palmer             1
boatswain: Thomas Brooks        1
Gunner: Peter Ross              1
Carpenter: Charles Parker       1
Masters Mates                   3
Midshipmen                      9
Surgeon's Mates                 2
Captains Clerk                  1
Master at Arms                  1
Corporal                        1
Armourer                        1
Armourer's Mate                 1
Cook                            1
Cook's Mate                     1
Pursers Steward                 1
Sailmaker                       1
Sailmaker's Mate                1
Coxswain                        1
boatswains Mates                3
Gunners Mates.                  2
Quarter Gunners                 4
Carpenters Mates                3
Carpenters Crew                 6
Quarter Masters                 6
Seamen                         75
Widows Men                      3
Marines, Non-commissioned}
and Private}                   28
Complement =                  160

boatswain's Wife                1
Seaman's Wife                   1

[Page 14]

His Majesty's Armed Tender, Supply, Establishment

Surgeon boatswain

Contracted Transports, Lieutenant Shortland Agent

[Table not reproduced — see original journal.]

Proportion of Men for these ships were, 6 men and a Boy to the 100 tons.

[Page 15]

Establishment Marines Botany Bay

[Table not reproduced — see original journal.]


Lieutenant Watts of the Navy: To take command of the Lady Penrhyn when discharged.
Zachary Clark: Clerk and agent to the Contractor in England for the Voyage.
Altree and Smith: Volunteers on speculation.
Mrs. Johnson: Parsons wife.
Broughton: Surgeon's servant.*

[* William Broughton came to New South Wales in the First Fleet as a servant to Surgeon John White. Australian Dictionary of Biography>.]


Men 561. women 192. children 13. = 766

[Page 16]

Distribution of the Marines and convicts

[Table not reproduced — see original journal.]

[Page 17]

14 May 1787

The 14th. At noon, latitude observed 498'N and longitude by the timekeeper 342'W. Start point bore NE by N, 5 leagues. Spoke to the convoy to enquire if they had left any one behind. Found that the 3rd mate of the Charlotte, the Provost Martial and 5 of the crew of the Fishburne were left behind.

15 May 1787

The 15th. At noon, were off Plymouth Sound. In the evening saw a frigate standing towards us, but being little wind she did not get near enough to speak to us. Nothing material happened until the 21st on which day the Hyaena parted company for England. During the time she was with us she performed every service that a ship could do, to admiration, and had the heaviest sailing ship of the convoy in tow a great part of the time.

This same day the irons were ordered to be taken off the convicts, except any whose ill behaviour made it necessary by way of punishment to have them kept on. This lenient step towards making those unhappy wretches comfortable was very ill received on board the Scarborough, two of the convicts belonging to her being brought on board the Sirius the same evening for mutinous behaviour. They were severely punished and sent on board the Prince of Wales transport, heavily ironed. Since leaving Spithead we had only a day or two unpleasant pleasure and thought ourselves very fortunate in getting so soon and well clear of the land. Latitude 4750'N longitudee 1214'W, when the Hyaena parted Company.

26 May 1787

Friday, 26th. Latitude 4224'N longitude by [sun] [indecipherable word] 1130'W. Variation 2030'W.

[Page 18]

Had the wind from the NE quarter which ran us the length of Madeira.

29 May 1787

Tuesday. 29th. The Supply ahead made the signal for seeing land which was at first supposed to be Porto Sancto, but as we came in with it, found it to be the Deserters and the weather so thick that the island of Madeira could not be seen as we passed.

The Deserters are generally spoken of as the third, after the island of Madeira and Porto Sancto, and as a barren rock. There are 3 island Deserters, two of considerable height and 3 miles extent. The other, a small one, lies nearer Madeira. There is a passage between these islands, as also between them and Madeira, which is 6 or 7 leagues to the north and west of them. The Northmost Deserter we observed in latitude 3227'N, longitude by timekeeper 1635' W, variation 18W.

31 May 1787

The 31st. Made the Salvages bearing SW by S. We found the situation of this island very different from what is laid down in the chart: By a good meridian observation we made the latitude of this island 3012'N and longitude by timekeeper 1556'W. This island has some high land on it and when it bore West a high round hill was over the middle of the island. By calculation from angles taken and a base by the ship's run, I make the length of this island 1.8 mile in a N70W direction, true bearing. We saw 4 rocks to the NW of it which can only be spoken of as rocks above water though they are some height. I have seen them in passing to the westward when the large island could not be seen through the haze. We passed to the eastward at about 4 leagues.

June 1787

[Page 19]


'Santa Cruz on the SE side of Teneriffe; Sirius & convoy in the roads. The Peak showing in a gap betweeen two other mountains'

The NE wind left us the day before we made the Salvages in latitude 3219'N, longitude 1630'W and hauled round to the W and SW, which winds continued to the 2nd of June when it again favoured us and at 5am saw the island of Teneriffe bearing SW by S. The weather being hazy, the peak did not show itself.

3 June 1787

The 3rd. At 7pm anchored and moored in Santa Cruz road with the Supply and convoy in 13 fathoms, east point of the Bay (La Rocquet point and by some taken for Punta de Nago) N78E.

Franciscan Church with a very remarkable white steeple S73W. The fort to the southward of the Town SW, peak WSW. Off shore about a mile, we found the ground all round us a sandy bottom, yet we used the precaution of buoying up the cables. In making Teneriffe to the SW of you, and the weather hazy, you will not see the peak, but fall in with Punta de Nago, a very high land making in a steep bluff, off which are several high ragged rocks, which show themselves as you come well in with the land.

We steered close in with this point and run from it WSW, compass 12 miles, as near as we could estimate. As we sailed along the land we shut in Punta de Nago with Antekara Point and Antekara Point with La Rocquet Point, before we got into the anchoring ground. Antekara Point is just opening with La Rocquet when NE by N by compass. La Rocquet Point, from our anchoring birth in the road, makes in a ragged bluff, with a little sugar loaf topped rock just open without it. I would recommend anchoring so far in as to shut the other points in, for clear ground.

[Page 20]

Before we anchored, the master of the port, accompanied by several officers, came on board to make the necessary enquiries. Next day Captain Phillip, with the Officers of the squadron and garrison, waited on the Governor, who returned the visit two days after, on board the Sirius. This island has a very ragged appearance and at first sight might be supposed to be incapable of producing anything. There are many spots well cultivated in the island and very productive, besides the vineyards. The season was very unfavourable for us to get supplies of fruit—grapes not ripe, oranges, lemons etc. very scarce, as was every kind of fruit except figs. We were tolerably supplied with fresh beef and poultry, and wine, very good.

The road of Santa Cruz is on the SE side [of] the island, and is open to the S and SE winds which makes it very dangerous to lay there in the winter season, when those winds prevail. We had the breeze fresh from the sea in the day, and off the land early in the evening, while we lay there. There is a stone pier run out for the purpose of shipping, or landing goods and is the only safe landing place near the town. To the Southward of the pier there are some windmills which show very conspicuous coming in from the sea.

[Page 21]

The water for shipping is conveyed to the pier, were we filled in the boat with a hose (sic). This water comes from the same rivulet that supplies the town, to which it is brought a considerable distance along the rocks, in spouts open at the top, on an easy descent, just allowing the water a free passage. They are led across several deep gullies and everywhere supported with posts to prevent their being carried away by the great torrents that rush down in the rainy season.

The latitude observed on board the Sirius was 2830'N and the longitude by timekeeper 1616'W. The peak we estimated to be in 2818'N, 1631'W.

The country above the city of Santa Cruz rises more gradually than any of this part of the coast, which is chiefly very high ragged mountain. In the part that we anchored in, the peak showed itself between two of the highest hills and was, by us, supposed to be a part of one of them, until a very clear morning convinced us of its being the peak. It bore WSW by compass. There are two small batteries near the pier and some others scattered along the coast, by which the road is secured.

They are making great progress in their silk and woollen manufactories. Many poor are supported by subscription and employed in these houses of industry. The silk is entirely the produce of the islands. The wool is imported from Europe, which they mix with that of the Canary Islands. They also make tape, coarse cloths from flax imported from Holland, chiefly.

[Page 22]

7 June 1787

7th of June. Being the Festival of Corpus Christi, the boats belonging to the transports were ordered not to land, that this religious ceremony might not be interrupted by the enormities which English seamen are too apt to commit in foreign ports. This festival is kept on the Thursday next after Trinity Sunday. The religious observance of carrying the Host is, on this day, kept with great pomp and solemnity in all Roman Catholic countries and is announced early in the morning by ringing the bells of all the convents, monasteries and churches in the town.

Several of the officers of our squadron went on shore to see the procession, which assembled at 10 o'clock at a particular church where, after having performed mass, the host, or consecrated wafer (which, on certain festivals and other occasions, they offer up as a host or sacrifice for the sins of mankind), enclosed in a glass case, is taken down from a little recess over the altar and delivered to the priest, who is to carry it through the whole of the procession.

A canopy is held over it by four other priests and, the congregation having arranged themselves in the order in which they are to parade the town, the military guard, officers of state and the dignitaries of the church, lead the procession in great solemnity out of the church, at which instant the guns begin firing from the forts, martial music playing, etc. Those people who did not attend mass, appear at their windows and doors. Even the sick are brought to the window and if any principal person, the procession stops opposite to the house of the sick, holding up the host, say a few prayers, and proceed.

[Page 23]

When they have paraded the streets of the town, they return to the church and, having placed the host from whence it was taken, they all repair to their respective houses and pass the remainder of the day cheerfully. It is required of every person passing through the street at the time the host is going by, that they kneel and uncover their head, the latter of which is always expected from a foreigner.

10 June 1787

Sunday, 10th. Sailed from Santa Cruz and, after being becalmed two days between Teneriffe and Gran Canaria, had the wind from NW to NE. During these two days we had the peak clear, several times. The peak is, by some, said to be a volcano and frequently to issue stones etc.

An Officer who had resided in Santa Cruz a considerable time, informed me that nothing but smoke had come from it for several years and that at very distant intervals. The perpendicular height is computed by Dr. Heberden at 15,396 feet. It is not safe at all seasons to ascend the peak. The best time is in the months of July and August, the snow at the foot being then mostly dissolved. No one belonging to our squadron went to it. The oblique height is reckoned at 15 miles.

The officer before mentioned also informed me that Oratavia, situated on the west side of the island, was originally a great place of trade and principal sea port but, from an earthquake in 1704, the port was filled up and the anchoring ground left was scarcely such as would afford security for one ship.

[Page 24]

The town of Oratavia now stands on the spot where the ships formerly anchored.

The ships that go there are now obliged to keep in constant readiness to clear the land if the wind should come on shore, there not being any shelter. The island of Teneriffe is reckoned 50 miles in length and 25 broad. As we sailed to the southward along the island, the town of Candelaria opened to us. It is near the sea and by strangers may be mistaken for Santa Cruz, if they fall in to the southward in making the island. It is not so large, nor is there a church in it, so conspicuous as that of St. Franciscan in Santa Cruz.

It may also be known by the bearings of the peak, if you see it. The peak over the southern part of Santa Cruz is WSW and over Candelaria W by compass. The land about and to the southward of Candelaria is not so ragged as it is all about and to the northward of Santa Cruz.

The Marquis of Branceforte, brigadier in the Spanish Service, is the present governor, an Italian, and very much esteemed for his great benevolence and many other excellent virtues.

15 June 1787

June 15th. At noon crossed the Tropic of Cancer and had the sun in the zenith at nearly the same instant. Thermometer then at 74. The NE trade seemed to be fixed.

17 June 1787

17th. A large ship passed us to the northward, but not near enough to distinguish what she was.

[Page 25]

18 June 1787

18th. In the evening, drawing near the Isle of Sal, shortened sail and kept the Supply ahead. In AM, soon after daylight, saw the island of Sal bearing SW by S and passed along the east side of it.

19 June 1787

19th at 2pm Saw the island of Bona Vista, at 4. The southern end of it bore due west 6 or 7 mile. We passed along the east side of it within a mile and half of the reef. Brought to* in the evening, not having run for the night to the Isle of May. In falling in with these islands (the weather is generally hazy) Sal may be known from Bona Vista by the high sugar loaf hill on the northern end of it which, being situated toward that end of the island, remains fixed as you run along the east side, whereas in Bona Vista the highest land forms a similar sugar loaf and, being towards the middle of the island, travels along the other land as you pass it.

[* Bring to: to cause a boat to come to a standstill. Usually written as "brot too" in the journal.]

We saw the reef off this island break very furiously and sailed along the east side of it within 1 miles of the breakers. They appear to run from the land, off the white sandhills, and when the highest sugar loaf bears WS you are nearly abreast the northern part of them. They extend some miles along the coast, apparently at the distance of 3 miles from the shore.

People who have fallen in with this reef differ as to the situation of it. Some place it off the NE and others off the SE part of the island. The bearing before mentioned, of the high sugar loaf, WS, appeared to us in a line with the northern part of the breakers.

[Page 26]

Several ships have narrowly escaped being wrecked upon this reef, some from mistaking the island and others from supposing it did not lay so far from the shore.

The northern end of Sal is in the latitude 1650'N and the southern end 1640'N, longitude by timekeeper 2302'W. Variation observed 1130'W. Southern end of Bona Vista, by good observation on board the Sirius, 1559'N and 2302'W by the timekeeper.

19 June 1787

The 19th. At daylight saw the Isle of May, the S end NW by W 4 miles. At 4pm the southern end of Bona Vista bore N78W per compass 6 mile, from which we ran SW by S 37 mile and then brought to with our head off shore. After making sail and running 2 mile W by S saw the Isle of May as before mentioned.

In passing the Isle of May you may run close along the east side of it and steer over west or WS per compass for St. Iago, which course carried us in with that island, about 2 leagues to windward Port Praya Bay. The latitude of the southern end of May, reduced back from the next noon, is 1509'N and 2307'W.

At 10am saw the island of St. Iago. In running along the coast of it to Port Praya, there is the appearance of a bay, but it cannot be mistaken for Port Praya when the direction of the coast is attended to. The land from the east point of Praya Bay to the northward lays nearly NNE and the whole land which opens to the westward of this point W by S or WS per compass.

About noon were standing in for Port Praya Bay when, on hauling round the reef off the East point of the Bay, just within it and had the fort open, were taken aback.

[Page 27]

The convoy in a cluster round us, no true wind blowing, but catspaws from every point of the compass and a heavy swell setting in upon the shore, which circumstances altogether rendered our getting in with the convoy very hazardous from the danger of falling on board each other in such a swell as well as that of being near the eastern reef.

It was therefore judged most safe to endeavor to get the convoy from the land into the true wind, which was done in about 2 hours and we again proceeded with a fresh breeze at east.

Standing in for the east point of Praya Bay, the W point will show itself as will the W end of the island. As you draw near the eastern reef, Quail Island will show itself, as will the fort, which stands on a high rock and is on with Quail Island, when bearing northern by compass, on which bearing a high round hill will partly be over both. There are reefs which generally show off both points of the bay. It is generally recommended to keep close in with the land, until you open the reef of the W point of the bay and then haul close round the eastern reef. Bring the flagstaff NW or NWN, the east point E by S and the outer point SW by W, from 10 to 7 fathoms water. It is not safe to lay in this bay during the winter months. So early as August, Capt Wallis had very bad weather. Observed the latitude of Port Praya, on board the Sirius, 1454', northern longitude by the Timekeeper 2340'W.

23 June 1787

[Page 28]

23rd in latitude 948'N, longitude 2300'W. Lost the NE trade and had frequent squalls, variable winds with heavy rain, thunder and lightening.

25 June 1787

By the 25th it seemed to have quite blown itself out. The wind varying NE to SE, SW and frequently NW. Then variable winds continued to the 28th when it fixed between the S and SW, then in 729'N, 2141'W.

29 June 1787

29th am. Saw a large ship to windward who bore down to us and hoisted Portuguese colours. Found her to be a ship from Lisbon bound to the coast of Brasil.

30 June 1787

30th pm. After dark, a devil fish was hooked, as he lay on the surface of the water. Before he could be hoisted in, 3 very large sucking fish were soon on him, one of which was struck and got in and was the largest I ever saw. It was 2ft. 9in. long. It being dark when this monster was got in, he was kept on the quarter deck all night, but was dead as soon as out of the water, from having had several harpoons etc. stuck in him.

July 1787

1 July 1787

In the morning, 2 sucking fish 7 inches long and quite white were taken from within him, out at his mouth, perfectly alive. When this fish was opened there was not anything found in his stomach or intestines nor had he any teeth. He had 5 gills on each side, evenly and oppositely placed, within which those white sucking fish had fixed themselves. The belly of this fish was white, the back dark brown and much resembling a large skate. He had two horns projecting from the upper part of the head, just over his eyes. Some of the people eat of this fish but it was not thought good.

[Page 29]

Dimensions Large Sucking Fish

[Table not reproduced — see original journal.]

From the 29th June to the 1st of July had the winds chiefly from the SW with frequent squalls, heavy rains etc., which obliged us to keep on to the eastward.

2 July 1787

July 2nd, pm. The wind came to south, tacked and stood to the westward. We found, by the timekeeper, a very strong easterly current for some days past. The Portuguese ship which had sailed in company until now, parted, not being able even to keep up with our heavy sailing Convoy.

5 July 1787

July 5th. The wind again coming to the SSW and SW obliged us to stand to the eastward. From this prospect of our making a tedious passage, the crews, marines and convicts on board the transports were put to an allowance of 3 pints of water per day.

6 July 1787

The 6th, am. Saw a sloop standing to the westward.

7 July 1787

The 7th. The wind again coming to the southward, we stood to the westward. We had been forced so far to the eastward as 1822'W when between the parallel of 9 and 5N, by variable winds, before we got what might any way be called the SE trade, which this day came on at south and S by E.

[Page 30]

In the evening, spoke to the sloop, from London bound to Falkland Islands, 12 weeks from England and 5 from the Isle of May. They had been 3 weeks between the parallels of 9N and 5N with S and SW winds.

8 July 1787

Sunday, 8th. Saw a large ship coming down before the wind. She hoisted Portuguese Colours and passed to the eastward without passing near enough to speak to her.

11 July 1787

11th. An albacore was struck that weighed 80 lb. and several smaller. We examined this and several other albacores and bonetta and in both found the white appendage to the heart (which is generally allowed to be the reason for the albacore having that name) exactly the same, and not the heart as supposed by seamen in general. It is closely connected to the heart, which is considerably large and of a dull reddish colour.

12 July 1787

12th. The master of the Lady Penrhyn transport brought on board three of his people who had been guilty of mutiny in refusing to steer the ship as directed by the master, by which means she was very far to leeward out of her station. They were kept on board the Sirius and three men sent in lieu to assist in working that ship.

15 July 1787

15th. At 5pm crossed the Equinoctial Line in longitude 26W, variation of the Compass 550'W, being now much favoured by having the SE trade well to the eastward and a prospect of making a quicker passage than could be supposed when the allowance of water was reduced. It was this day increased to 2 quarts per day.

[Page 31]

27 July 1787

27th. Observed the Supply and one of the transports heave to suddenly and half an hour afterwards make sail. The Supply informed us that the Alexander had lost a man overboard.

28 July 1787

28th pm. Blew strong from the ESE and continued to the 29th am, when we again had the usual moderate weather and the wind from E to NE. This day we changed the variation from west to east latitude at the time the observation giving east variation was taken, lat. 1830'S, long. E32W, variation 001'E.

August 1787

2 August 1787

August 2nd. Spoke to a Portuguese brig bound to Rio Janeiro.

3 August 1787

3rd at 3pm. Saw Cape Frio, west per compass 12 leagues. The NE winds, which had favoured since the 29th ultimo did not fail us until we got under the land to the westward of Cape Frio, which we did by midnight, when it became light and variable and, as usual in these climates, alternately inclining from the land and sea. By the preceding meridian observation, we make the Cape in 2300'S and by the timekeeper 4144'W.

The Cape, as we take it, is the outer point of the island making in a saddle and which lies to the southward a short distance off the point on the mainland, which the Portuguese call the Cape. The coast to the northward lies NNW and round Cape Frio it lays nearly east and west more than 20 leagues to Rio Janeiro, the land bold all the way, but the bottom is not clear in many parts near the shore.

[Page 32]

It is recommended to keep to the southward until you are past a large bight formed by the Cape Island and the land to the NW, into which there is often so strong a set as to make it dangerous. At noon latitude observed 2314'S, Cape Frio NE by EE 12 leagues, western extreme WN, about 5 leagues from the land abreast of us, and saw the land about the harbour distinctly.

4 August 1787

4th. In the evening light airs from the land. We lay to all the night endeavouring, as the wind varied, to keep her head to the westward. We had from 42 to 47 fathoms water, oaze with shells and one cast 47 fathoms fine sand, very black. Our distance from the shore as near as we could estimate was 4 leagues. At noon, latitude observed 2317'S, sugar loaf at the entrance of Rio Janeiro NW by WW per compass 8 or 9 leagues.

5 August 1787

Sunday, 5th. The false sugar loaf WNWW 4 or 5 leagues, had 36 fathoms sand and shells. Brought to for the night about 5 miles from the land. Sounded every hour, 34, 33, 34 fathoms sand and shells. At daylight found that we had drifted considerably to the eastward and scarce any inshore to the northward, from which the soundings appear to run regular from the shore.

6 August 1787

Monday, 6th. At 9pm anchored with the convoy about 5 mile without the entrance of Rio Janeiro, in 13 fathoms water. Found the sounding regular, when anchored. The island Raze S by WW. Sugar loaf NWN. The 2 Payas in one NE by E and Corkavada WS by compass.

[Page 33]

The harbour is easily found when the land is sufficiently clear to see the making of it. As you sail to the westward you will see a sugar loaf hill sloping to the westward and trenching away to the eastward. This piece of land lies a small distance to the eastward of the entrance. The land to the westward is very remarkable and that near the western extremity is a very high overhanging mountain, called Corkavada, and is about 2 leagues to the westward of the entrance. If the weather is clear you will see, lying without it, Rodondo, an island round at top and may be seen a great distance in clear weather. It is S by W 7 miles from the entrance of Rio Janeiro.

We passed Cape Frio at the distance of 6 miles and steered W by S by Compass, ran 12 leagues and shortened sail. This course rather carried us off the shore than in with it. When you have run this distance, or before, you will see two islands (Maricas), off which the ground is foul and very unsafe to anchor near. These islands are the first you meet with on the coast between Cape Frio and Rio Janeiro. Some of the land you pass has much the appearance of an island, but is not. As you proceed to the westward and after seeing Rodondo, you will see another island close to it (Raze) which although not seen so soon as Rodondo, it lays to the eastward of it. It is generally recommended to steer for those islands, particularly if going in with Rio Janeiro after dark.

[Page 34]

By preserving sight of one of them, you may anchor in a good road within those islands in 13 fathoms clear sandy bottom, bringing Raze south or S by W of you, and not more than 2 miles from it. You will then be about 5 miles from the harbour and in a situation that will enable you, in case of bad weather coming on, to lead out to sea if the wind should be such as would not admit of running for the harbour, which lies from Raze NE 6 or 7 miles.

There are several islands lying without the harbour, between all of which are passages, and between Raze and Rodondo a very good one of 2 miles, steep too on both sides, and between Rodondo and a rock just off it is a passage for small vessels.

There is also a passage between Paya and Maya Islands on the east side the bay and usually left on the starboard hand. The Sugar Loaf* is just on the opening between these islands when bearing NW by WW or WNW and, if under a necessity, a ship may with safety run right through in for the Sugar Loaf; but unless pressed it would be imprudent.

[* Now called Sugarloaf Mountain]

As you generally have sea and land breezes, the best pilotage is to run well in with Rodondo and Raze and, having opened the harbour, steer for it. You have good anchoring ground and regular soundings within the island Raze.

6 August 1787

Monday, 6. At daylight, an officer was sent into the harbour to the Viceroy to inform him who we were and the occasion of our calling at this Port. At 11 he returned. The Viceroy very readily consented to our being supplied with every necessary for the use of the convoy and convicts etc.

[Page 35]

7 August 1787

Tuesday, 7th at 1pm. The sea breeze set in. Weighed and stood in for the harbour. The master of the port came on board. It being little wind we did not get off the east point of the entrance, on which stands Santa Cruz Fort, until past 5. We saluted that fort with 13 guns which was immediately returned with an equal number. At 7, came to in 17 fathoms with the Supply and convoy off the city of St. Sebastians.

As you steer in for the harbour, the water shoals gradually to 7 and 6 fathoms, just without and nearly opposite the east point of the entrance, when it deepens suddenly to 18 and 20 and keeps from 20, 18 to 16 as you sail up to St. Sebastians.

Ships generally go higher up and haul round the island of Cobras which lies just off the NE end of the town. It is well fortified and has stores houses on it for the use of heaving down and refitting ships. If necessity should require it, a ship may pass between the Sugar Loaf and the island that lays just without it (Catumduba) as likewise to the westward of Square Island which lies on the entrance and is a fortified rock. This channel is very narrow, having a reef running from the west point of the island and all foul ground. It is most advisable in all cases, when it can be done, to use the direct passage from the island Raze into the harbour, for safety, propriety and expedition.

[Page 36]

8 August 1787

Wednesday, 8th. Captain Phillip, accompanied by the officers of the squadron and garrison, paid respects to the Viceroy. They were received with much kindness. The Viceroy, contrary to the usual custom, ordered that all the English officers might be permitted to go wherever they thought proper without being subject to those restrictions complained of by Captain Cook in his first voyage and others who have visited Rio Janeiro.


'In Rio Janeiro, looking towards the Entrance. 1787'

9 August 1787

9th. Captain Phillip and Mr. Dawes went to look at a room which had been granted for the purpose of making the necessary observations for the timekeeper etc., but it not being thought proper for the purpose, Captain Phillip obtained leave from the Viceroy to make use of an island (Enradas) lying to the NE of the town, which spot being approved, a tent was erected on the 11th and on the 12th, the instruments landed and fixed under the direction of Mr. Dawes.

13 August 1787

The 13th. The Timekeeper was sent to the tent and all boats belonging to the transports strictly forbidden landing on that island.

17 August 1787

17th. The Portuguese astronomers who are employed determining the situation of the principal places along the coast, and in the country, visited our observatory.

Town of St. Sebastian by them is in      2254'13"S, 4319'W
Town of St. Sebastian by Our timekeeper  2254'10"S, 4244'W
Town of St. Sebastian [sun] and [moon]
   on boardd Sirius                           4346'W
Cape Frio by them                        2256'00"S, 4144'W
ditto the south point of the Cape Island by us
                                         2300'00"S, 4144'W Timekeeper
Cape Island [sun] and [moon] Sirius          4240'WB

[Page 37]


'Villyanon, Convent del Gloria to the Aqueduct. Rio Janeiro 1787'


'City of St. Sebastians, Rio Janeiro: Sirius & Convoy at Anchor. 1787'

21 August 1787

21st. Being the birthday of the Prince of Brazil, the Portuguese flag was hoisted on board the Sirius. On this day it is the custom for all the military to pay respects to the Viceroy and a general salute from all the forts. Captain Phillip, with the English Officers, paid the compliment of observing this custom and by a Royal Salute from the Sirius when their forts saluted.

The very kind behaviour of the Viceroy and the great attention we received from the officers in general, was quite sufficient to make every English officer in that port rejoice at having an opportunity of showing respect to him and them. The guard boat attended our squadron, apparently as matter of form. The transports' boats were even permitted to land in any part of the harbour or bay without being followed or in the smallest degree restricted by them.

Water is well supplied and brought to the wharf fronting the palace in pipes and led though spouts to the boat, from which you fill with a hose. Fresh beef and every refreshment to be found in the climate, we were here supplied with. The yams I think exceed those of any other country I have ever seen. Oranges astonishingly plenty and so very cheap, that the people in the guard boat would frequently amuse themselves with throwing some hundreds to the convicts in the different transports, from their boat.

The Health of the convicts, which was very little impaired during this part of the voyage, was soon perfectly established by being amply provided with fresh provisions, vegetables and very frequently fruit was given them. Fourteen only died since leaving England, the greater part of which was embarked in the river, and such objects as could not have been supposed would have lived, had they remained in England.

[Page 38]


'Fortified Bay on the west side the entrance of Rio Janeiro coast of Brazil'

We have proofs already of the great neglect in fitting the ship. Decks and upper works so leaky as to make it necessary to employ caulkers on board. The skirting boards over the copper were so badly secured as to have been washed off on both sides. While the ship was on the heel to fix other skirting boards, we took the opportunity of driving 2 bolts and 2 spike nails, of the white composition, 12 inches below the wale and laid them over with copper, to try if the copper would make any impression on this composition.

31 August 1787

31st. Mr. Morton, master of the Sirius, was invalided, having received a hurt on the passage from Teneriffe which rendered him for a time incapable of duty. This was a real loss to the ship, he being an attentive, active and experienced man and well qualified for the station. Mr. Seally and Mr. Rotton, two of the master's mates, were also invalided. Their Health being in so bad a state as to make it necessary, and there being an English ship bound to London, they had a good opportunity of returning to England. Mr. Kelty a master in the navy and serving as mate on board one of the store ships was appointed master of the Sirius.

[Page 39]


'View of a Fortified Bay on the east side the entrance of Rio Janeiro'

September 1787

1 September 1787

1st. Being ready for sea, the astronomical instruments were got on board. The rate of the timekeeper was determined by 12 days observations, losing 2"28' per day.

4 September 1787

4th. Captain Phillip, with the officers, took leave of the Viceroy and on the 4th at daylight weighed and made sail with a light breeze from the northward. At 7 and before we were the length of Santa Cruz, that fort saluted us with 21 guns which last and great mark of respect was immediately returned with the same number from the Sirius. This was no doubt a return to the compliment which we paid them on the Prince of Brazil's birthday. When we were without the harbour the master of the port left us. Plants of almost every kind the country produced were procured for Captain Phillip, amongst which were the cochineal, coffee jalup, citron, tobacco, cocoa, oranges of different sorts, limes, sweet lemons, bananas, guavas, and seeds of those that were not so easily removed in trees or plants.

Soon after we left the harbour we saw two sail, tacked and stood toward them. The Supply spoke the nearest, a Portuguese ship from Oporto bound to Rio Janeiro, sailed in June, had no other news than that of the Viceroy being superseded in the Government of the Brazil and that the arrival of the new Viceroy might be daily expected.

5 September 1787

5th at 4pm. Took our departure from the Sugar Loaf at the entrance of Rio Janeiro, bearing NWW per compass 5 or 6 leagues.

[Page 40]

Bearings etc. taken going in and out, by Compass.

False Sugar Loaf on the western most Marica Island        WNWW
True Sugar Loaf, ditto                                    N78W
Marica Islands in one                                     NE by N
islands Raza and Rodondo in one                           WSWW
Raze just open to the southward of Rodondo                WSW
Corkavada is between Rodondo and Raze when Rodondo is     WNWW
Corkavada coming on with Rodondo                          NW by WW
Maricas just opening of the East most Payas               ES
Rodondo half way between the Sugar Loaf and island off it SSW.

6 September 1787

To the 6th. We had light variable breezes, when it fixed at E and NE with a fresh gale, which carried us into 26S and 39W; then changed to SW in a very hard squall with heavy rain.

Thunder and lightening at 2am the 8th from which time until the 20th had favourable winds, frequently shifting from N, NW to SW and S and sometimes blowing strong.

20 September 1787

20th. In latitude 32S 25W. Had the wind from SE to E.

23 September 1787

On the 23rd wind NNE and N from which point it blew strong several hours and suddenly shifted to the SW after we had got further to the southward. From the 23rd we had the wind alternately NW and SW, with short intervals of light breezes from the SE, if we got anything to the northward, which we lost again by keeping more to the southward. A convincing proof I think that keeping to the southward is the best chance of making a passage to the eastward.

October 1787

[Page 41]

1 October 1787

Monday, 1st: At 8am passed the Meridian of Greenwich in latitude 3440'S.

6 October 1787

6th am. The Alexander, making the signal to speak us, brought to her boat. The master of her and one of the marine officers came on board. We found that some part of the crew of that ship had leagued themselves with the convicts to furnish them with materials to endeavor to effect an escape at the Cape of Good Hope and that one of them had already furnished them with an iron crow for the purpose. However impossible it might be for them to execute any plan of that nature, it was judged proper by Captain Phillip that the ringleader and 3 others of the Crew should be removed on board the Sirius, which was immediately done and 4 seamen sent in lieu to the Alexander to assist in working her. The convict who endeavoured to escape at Teneriffe was the projector of the plan. He was then very heavily ironed and now stapled down to the deck. One of the convicts, whose life was in danger on board the Alexander, having given information of their plan, was removed to the Scarborough.

13 October 1787

Saturday, 13th, pm. The Supply was ordered ahead during the night, it being then intended to run in for the land all night, but the wind increasing and coming dead upon the shore, it was thought best to bring to until daylight, when we again made sail and at sunrise saw the Cape of Good Hope, SE by E 10 leagues. The wind favouring us, we anchored and moored in Table Bay with the Supply and convoy the same evening.

Green Point    N45W
Lions Rump     S85W
Wharf          S32W
Robben Island  N8W to N2W, in 6  fathoms water
Best bower to the NE, small bower to the SW, 1 mile from the Cape Town.

[Page 42]

An officer was sent to the Governor, who assured us that we should be supplied with everything wanting as far as it could be done, but that the opinion of the council must be had before he could answer the whole of our demand. The Governor assured the officer that our salute should be returned gun for gun by the fort. This was required in consequence of its having been customary here for the Governor to order an Indiaman in the bay to take up salutes. At sunrise, saluted the fort with 13 guns which was answered by the same number from the Fort.

16 October 1787

16th. Captain Phillip, accompanied by the officers, paid respects to the Governor, who shortly after returned the compliment at the house where Captain Phillip lived, and invited all the English officers to dine with him the next day.

17 October 1787

17th. Eight of the main deck guns were struck down in the hold and the deck cleared for the reception of cattle, for which purpose stalls, etc. were built fore and aft the deck, just leaving room to work the cables.

[Page 43]

In consequence of Captain Phillip having written to the Governor to say that if he had not an immediate answer concerning the supplies for us, that he must take such steps as would enable us to proceed without them, an order was given the 23rd to supply all our demands. All the staves, hoops etc. were now collected from the different ships in addition to those of the Sirius, that as much water, flour, spirits and every article for the people and cattle might be taken as could possibly be stowed.

25 October 1787

25th. A Danish Indiaman arrived from China. She left 2 French king's ships at Macao that had been on discoveries out round Cape Horn among the islands, and had then returned from the northward as far as they could penetrate.

28 October 1787

28th. The women convicts on board the Friendship were removed on board the Charlotte, Prince of Wales and Lady Penrhyn and those cabins which they occupied were fitted for sheep.

November 1787

1 November 1787

1 November. Arrived the Ranger East India packet from England. Sailed in August, brought an account of our having a fleet of observation ready, under the command of Commodore Leveson Gower, and that affairs in Europe were in a very unsettled state occasioned by dissentions in Holland.

6 November 1787

The 6th. This Packet sailed for Bengal.

Saturday, 10th. The cattle and everything being on board, unmoored and dropped farther out into the Bay, as did most of the convoy.

13 November 1787

13th. At 2pm weighed and made sail, Supply and convoy in company with a fresh gale from the southward. At 6, spoke to the Kent of London, 4 months from England; had been whaling in St. Helena Bay.

[Page 44]

As we ran out to the northward of Roban Island, we passed a shoal part of it in 7 fathoms, the Borrowdale at the same time a Cable's length within us. While we lay in Table Bay, fresh provisions, loaves and vegetables were supplied every day to the seamen, marines and convicts.

The quantity of cattle etc. taken on board the Sirius was that of the Governor, there only being a bull, a bull calf, 3 cows and 2 rams on board her of the public stock, the other part of which was on board the Fishburne, Borrowdale and Friendship and was only 40 sheep, 1 Ram, 26 sows, 2 boars and 4 goats. The Lady Penrhyn had on board 1 stallion, 3 mares and their colts and were all again with foal. The Golden Grove was appropriated to the use of other individuals.

The following is an account of a Malay who, just before our arrival, had thrown the whole of Cape Town into the utmost confusion by running amuck.

This horrible desperado was a native of Batavia and a person of some consequence among his countrymen, but was banished to the Cape of Good Hope for some crime which he had committed, and because the Governor would not permit him to return to Batavia he became exasperated with revenge and in order to enable himself to put it into execution, he worked himself up into a frenzy by smoking opium, then armed himself with a variety of weapons, rushed forth in the dusk of the evening and killed or wounded every man who was unfortunate enough to fall in his way.

[Page 45]

He stabbed the sentinel at the gate of the company's gardens and, taking his post, waited in expectation of seeing the Governor come out, who narrowly escaped the fate intended for him by its falling on another person who accidentally came that way. On being pursued, he fled with incredible swiftness to the Table Mountain where he remained two days, still raging from the effects of opium and defeated every person who was sent to take him alive. For two days none dare stir from within doors, neither master nor slave, for the Governor had given an order, as the most likely manner of destroying him should he appear in the town, that whatever Malay was seen was to be killed by the soldiers.

On the evening of the second day he was taken alive on the Table Mountain, doing much injury in resisting those who took him. He was taken immediately to the place of execution, where he suffered a lingering and horrid death. He was broken alive on the wheel, his head and limbs were severed from his body and distributed in different parts of the country.

He killed 14 inhabitants and double that number badly wounded. It was remarked that his madness fell only on men. Women passed him unhurt and it was as extraordinary as unfortunate that, amongst those which his rage destroyed, were some of the most deserving and promising young men in the town. This madness is called at Batavia running amuck, and has happened there several times, but was the first instance ever known at the Cape.

[Page 46]


'Cape Town, Table Mountain etc. Sirius & Convoy in Table Bay, November, 1787'

The Government of the Cape is vested in a Governor and Council together with a Court of Justice. The members of the Council are the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Commanding Officer of the Troops and four of the Council. With these, all regulations for the management of the colony originate and from them all orders and decrees issue.

The Council of Justice is composed of the Fiscal and 12 Members. The Fiscal, who is the first officer of justice, is independent. He hears all causes and prescribes all punishments. He has people under his directions who constantly patrol the streets armed, for the apprehending of all disorderly persons. Every 14 days offences are tried. The punishments inflicted here are breaking upon the cross, upon the wheel, impalements, flogging to that degree that death is frequently the effect of its severity. Over the door of a small wooden house, wherein are kept the instruments of execution, is the following inscription, in Latin:

"Happy is the man whom other men's misfortunes make wary."

In this town are two churches, one for the Calvinists the other for the followers of Martin Luther. In the former is a neat and handsome organ. The women sit in chairs in the body of the church, the men in pews round the sides. Marriage ceremonies are performed on Sunday only and the parties dressed in black.

[Page 47]

13 November 1787

13th at 7pm. Took our departure from the Lions Rump, bearing S39E, 6 leagues. The wind continuing at south and S by E obliged us to stand on to the westward. The rate of the timekeeper by observations during our stay in Table Bay was determined at losing 3",17' per day.

It is generally recommended to ships sailing from Table Bay to go out to the northward of Robben Island, as there is frequently a strong set down upon the rocks which lie off the SE side of it and, being very liable to get becalmed under the high land on the south side of Table Bay, it is thought dangerous to attempt that passage unless the wind is well to the northward of east.

Going into Table Bay, it is best to keep well to the southward to prevent being driven down on those rocks. You may haul close round Green Point in 7, 6 or 5 fathoms water. After you pass Green Point, if the wind should be from SE, you must be cautious not to stand very far over on the NE side of the Bay, there being a great deal of foul ground and shoal water on that shore. There is much foul ground in the Bay, which may easily be avoided, unless a great number of ships are in the Bay.

[Page 48]

You must pass the outermost fort before you have clear ground and, when the Sugar Loaf* is half way between that and the New Fort, you may anchor in any depth under 12 fathoms clear ground. The berth I would choose for a large ship, is the Sugar Loaf, directly over the New Fort in 8 or 9 fathoms water. There is good anchorage under Robben Island, should you be going in the northern passage and be baulked by a shift of wind etc.

[* In the 17th century the peak was known as Leeuwen Kop (Lion's Head) by the Dutch, and Signal Hill was known as Leeuwen Staart (Lion's Tail), as the shape resembles a crouching lion or a sphinx. The English, in the 17th Century, called the peak Sugar Loaf. (Wikipedia)]

15 November 1787

Thursday, 15. The wind coming to the westward of south at 9 am. Tacked and stood to the eastward but in a few hours, it backing again to S by E and SSE, obliged us again to stand to the westward. Went to an allowance of 2 quarts of water per day each man.

This day, Captain Phillip made known his intentions of proceeding to Botany Bay in the Supply when we were to the eastward of the Cape of Good Hope and that one of the lieutenants of the Sirius should go with him. This was proposed to me and immediately accepted, but Captain Hunter objecting to the first lieutenant being taken out of the ship, Captain Phillip ordered the second lieutenant to be ready to accompany him.

19 November 1787

Monday, 19th. Being calm all day, the luggage of Captain Phillip etc. was put on board the Supply as were eleven artificers belonging to the Sirius, that everything might be ready when the Governor should leave the Sirius. We received 9 Men from the Supply.

[Page 49]

20 November 1787

20th. Officers and ships' companies put to an allowance of three pints of water per day. AM at 8, after being calm, a breeze sprung up at NNE which at last enabled us to steer to the eastward, after having been carried into the longitude of 10E by S and SE winds, without having it once in our power to stand to the eastward more than 2 hours. A great number of whales, several close alongside the ship.

25 November 1787

Sunday, 25th, am. Made those ships signals that were to proceed ahead. At 11, Captain Phillip, Lieutenant King, and Lieutenant Dawes, of the marines, belonging to the Sirius, went on board the Supply, to which ship the timekeeper was removed from the Sirius. Major Ross, with the adjutant, went on board the Scarborough transport which ship, with the Friendship, was to proceed under the command of Lieutenant Shortland, Agent of Transports, in the Alexander.

At noon they all parted company leaving the Sirius to follow with the heavy sailing ships (3 Transports and 3 Store ships). Latitude 3847'S, Longitude 2553'E. Timekeeper 2236'E.

26 November 1787

Next day at noon the Supply was in sight from the masthead bearing SE by E and the Agent's Division, SE 6 mile. Finding that we had been carried considerably to the northward, we altered the course to the southward and in the afternoon the Supply and agent's Division were out of sight.

December 1787

8 December 1787

Saturday December 8th. Lat. 4021'S, Long. 5307'E. Had 3212'W variation which was the greatest we had.

[Page 50]

13 December 1787

The 13th. Crossed the Meridian of Kergulans Land in latitude 4058'S and the 16th about noon, that of St. Paul's in latitude 4108'.

Between the Cape of Good Hope and these islands we kept the parallels of 39, 40 and 41 as we approached, from an idea of preserving clear weather by not running near either of those islands. In this we were very successful, not having any fogs and very little thick weather and continued fair wind, shifting frequently from SSW to W, NW and N and sometimes blowing strong for a few hours. In general, a steady fresh gale.

19 December 1787

Wednesday, 19th. The wine being out, our allowance was ordered a quart of grog and a quart of water per day.

23 December 1787

Sunday, 23rd. Saw a sea otter. He followed the ship a considerable time. The haze round the horizon this afternoon had much the appearance of land being near; a.m. a great number of whales were seen about the ship.

31 December 1787

31st. Expecting to have strong winds as we approached the land. Bent a new foresail, fore and main top sails, which was not done a day too soon. The new year came in with a hard gale at WNW, which lasted only a few hours. In the space of half an hour, while the squalls were violent, the barometer rose and fell 8 times, from 29.36 to 29.63.

January 1788

[Page 51]

5 January 1788

January 5th. Having had several very good sets of observations of the [sun] and [moon] and supposing they would be the last before seeing the land, at 4pm made signal for the convoy to come our stern and observe the longitude [we were] in, by observation; 13530'E, the longitude at noon, was shown to them.

This night a luminous appearance or substance was seen, and very different from what I ever heard of being noticed by any one. They resemble lights floating on the surface of the water and disappear when turned, as the sea washed over them. They keep the same appearance when close alongside, as at a distance. Several of them passed close to us as the ship ran through them, and were seen on the surface more than a mile ahead. We endeavoured, without success, to get some of them. They immediately got the name of Purser's Lanthorns*.

[Lanthorn: archaic spelling of lantern.]

6 January 1788

Sunday, 6. At 11pm the Aurora Australis was very bright, with many beautiful red streamers which appeared to run from about 45 of altitude to the clouds that were in that part of the horizon. It was seen very faint some nights before.

8 January 1788

Tuesday, 8th. At half past 1pm saw Van Diemen's Land. We were only 8 weeks from the Cape of Good Hope and since the 23rd of November, on which day we regained the meridian of that cape after having been forced 9 to the windward, we had scarce an hour foul wind; but even this good fortune was not enough to preserve the cattle on board the Sirius, which were so badly provided for as to be nearly starved. Three of the cows calved on the passage, the whole of which died. The cows having scarce sufficient to keep themselves alive, could not support the young. One of the cows, big with calf, also died before we made the land.

[Page 52]

At 2pm saw the Mewstone, N36E by compass, 4 or 5 leagues. We were in latitude 4404'S and stood in NE. At 4 passed the Mewstone about 6 mile to the southward of it. At 5 saw the Eddystone to the eastward of Swilly. The whole space between those rocks appeared from the mast head to be full of broken water and some tops of rocks showing themselves above the surface. We stood on for the South Cape and passed it at 2 or 3 mile distance. We now steered ENE and passed to the northward of Swilly at 9 or 10 miles distance. We made the Mewstone within 5 miles, as laid down by Captain Cook. By the mean result of all the observations taken on board the Sirius, by Captain Hunter and myself, we reduce the point of this land, as follows:

Table of data

Mewstone      4348'S, 14625'E } Variation of the compass, 530'E.
South Cape    4342'S, 14653'E }

Swilly Point  4354'S, 14703'E } A bed of rocks, some show just above
Eddystone     4353'S, 14709'E } the surface: between the two high rocks.

The point of the South West Cape we were at a loss to determine, but concluded it must be that which makes like the Ramhead of Plymouth and particularly so from the situation of the Mewstone.

Between the South West and South Capes we saw many islands, high rocks and the appearance of harbours, from the double landmarks behind the coast and the islands lying off it.

[Page 53]

One, particularly when the Mewstone bore N14E by compass, seemed to be formed by low land to the westward making in a bluff, and has the appearance of an island with a very remarkable rock just open of it, bearing northern.

As we passed along, the same appearance of a harbour continued, although the bearings of the Mewstone and rock, before mentioned, had been altered some points. As we got to the eastward of it, the low bluff island appeared to be very near, or a part of the west side of the harbour which it formed and two small islands were seen lying off what might be termed the entrance of the bay which, from the double lands, seemed to branch off in two arms, one to the NE and the other NW.

We much lamented it not being in our power to determine this, or ascertain the situation of the points of land with each other by keeping close in shore, which one could have done, as we had the wind, but having a convoy of heavy sailing ships with us it would have been dangerous.

This appearance of a harbour, which we so particularly noticed, lies to the westward of the peaked hill and appears to be formed on the east side by the land, under a remarkable ragged high hill to the westward of the peak. When that hill bears from NNE to N and when it bears NW the whole appearance of the bay is shut in by a point projecting from the land to the westward.

The land in general is moderately high, the coast rocky and apparently steep too. The country inland from the South West Cape appears barren.

[Page 54]

We did not see a tree between it and the land about the South Cape, the top part of which, and all the land to the eastward, is covered with trees thick together, some growing a considerable height before they branch.

The coast about the South Cape is a dark rock and, towards the pitch of it, has a large notch which shows when you are to the westward of it. There appears, just to the eastward of this point, another projecting point covered with trees, but the land between falling rather to the northward, I set down the first as the South Cape of Van Diemens Land, a little to the westward of which is a very remarkable white patch in the rocks near the sea.

The peaked hill is also a good mark for knowing the South Cape, but I do not know a better, than that there are not any high trees on the hills to the westward of it, that we could see.

The wind continued westerly all day, very fresh, and fell little wind in the evening at 10. It was variable mostly between the northern and east. We had luckily got to the eastward of Swilly when the westerly wind left us and, being well in with the main land, were enabled to carry the convoy clear to the eastward of all danger from the rocks of Swilly and the Eddystone, both of which we saw the next morning at daylight, both in one bearing WSW 4 or 5 leagues.

As we passed along the shore after dark fires were seen to the eastward of, and about, the South Cape, and between the South and South West Capes. We saw snow on the high peaked hill as we passed.

[Page 55]

9 January 1788

Wednesday, 9th. At 7am the wind changed in a hard squall with thunder and lightening and blew strong some hours, from the westward.

10 January 1788

Thursday, 10th. The weather cleared up with a fine breeze at west. We had a very heavy cross swell. AM the weather very squally and unsettled, wind frequently shifting, NNW and WSW. Latitude at noon, 4338'S Longitude 14931'E.

11 January 1788

11th at half past 7pm. The wind shifted in a very heavy squall in which the Golden Grove split her top sails and the Prince of Wales carried away her mainyard. This squall was violent and came on with remarkable loud thunder and strong lightening with very heavy rain. It lasted half an hour. The weather then became clear with a moderate breeze of wind from NW to SW. At 7am it suddenly came on to blow strong and near noon was modest and clear, settled weather again, 4219'S, 13027'E.

12 January 1788

Saturday, 12th, pm. Moderate and clear weather. At 11 it was calm and in less than half an hour, it suddenly blew strong from the SW with severe lightening. AM, near noon, it fell. Little wind, with fine serene, clear weather. 4117'S, 15043'E.

13 January 1788

Sunday, 13th. The wind coming to the W and N obliged us to stand off to the eastward. The weather moderate until 10pm then blowing hard and very squally from the NW. AM, continued to blow strong with frequent squalls. Lat. 4000'S Long. 15122'E.

14 January 1788

Monday, 14th, pm. At 4 it became moderate, the wind shifted to SW with clear weather. AM, light breezes and clear weather. At noon, Lat. 3810'S. Long. 15109'E.

[Page 56]


'Botany Bay. Sirius & convoy going in: Supply & Agent's Division in the Bay. 21 Janry 1788'

15 January 1788

Tuesday, 15. Clear weather. At 1pm had several good observations of the [sun] and [moon], the mean of which gave 15248'E, and of those taken by Captain Hunter, 15244'E, which was 1 to the eastward of account since leaving Van Diemen's Land. We suppose this was occasioned by a strong set from between the Schouten Islands and Point Hicks, from which we had a great sea and think it probable that there may be either a straight or a deep Gulf. Wind NE and N. Lat. 3739'S Long. 15147'E.

16 January 1788

Wednesday, 16th. Hazy weather with a fresh gale at N with which we stood off and on the shore, endeavouring to preserve a moderate distance from the shore, not thinking it safe to go near with the convoy until well to the northward. AM, fair weather with a moderate breeze at NNW. 3739'S. 15129'E. at Noon

17 January 1788

Thursday, 17th. Light variable winds and calm with frequent heavy rains, thunder and lightening. At noon, clear weather with variable light airs. 3719'S 15145'E.

18 January 1788

Friday, 18th, pm. At 6, A breeze sprung up from SE. AM at 8, hauled in to endeavour to make the land before night. 3548'S 15136'E.

19 January 1788

Saturday, 19th. Fresh breezes from the SE at 7pm. Brought to, not having made the land. AM moderate and clear. At daylight saw the land bearing W by N. At 10 were abreast of some remarkable white sand hills, having much the appearance of white cliffs. At noon were in 3430'S. Saw red point (so named by Captain Cook) with a small island on with it WN, 4 leagues.

[Page 57]

The round hill mentioned by Captain Cook, as like the crown of a hat, bore W by N, the northern extreme of land N 10 leaguess.

A very remarkable clump of trees, like those on Portsdown, were seen at noon N by W. Red point may very readily be known by Captain Cook's remarks, viz. the round hill a little to the northward of it; but it is necessary to observe that there are two islands near it and that the land to the northward of the red land forming the point, is very white.

20 January 1788

Sunday, 20th. At 2pm saw the white cliffs mentioned by Captain Cook to be 10 miles to the southward of Botany Bay. I do not altogether think it a certain mark for knowing when you are near Botany Bay, there being many white sand hills that show like cliffs, coming up the coast. The land from these white cliffs, to the northward, is tolerably even.

At 4, saw the entrance of Botany Bay appearing in the middle of land, that showed like an island lying a small distance from the shore. We saw the neck of land by which it is joined to the other land when 8 or 9 miles to the southward of the entrance of Botany Bay. It has a sandy beach, the shore covered with wood. In the sandy beach is the appearance of a gully or opening.

The land about the entrance of Botany Bay appears in hummocks and rocky and, with a glass, Point Solander, the south point of the bay, may be seen like a perpendicular notch cut in the rocks, near the middle of the land, like an island.

[Page 58]

Those cliffs, 10 miles to the southward of Botany Bay, make in 5 cliffs as you come near abreast of them, and the Portsdown clump of trees is on the northernmost of them, when bearing west, soon after which that clump loses its remarkable appearance.

At sunset, the entrance of Botany Bay bore N.19W, 7 or 8 mile. Shortened sail and made the signal for the convoy to pass in succession, within hail. They were ordered to be very attentive during the night and to keep their stations strictly, when we made sail in the morning.

21 January 1788

21st am. At daylight made sail for the bay with a moderate breeze at SE and when within about 2 miles of the south head saw the Supply in the bay and soon after the 3 transports that had been dispatched under the command of the agent.

The master of the Supply came on board as we approached the entrance. He informed us that they had only been arrived two days, and the agent one day before us and the heavy ships. At 8, anchored with the convoy in Botany Bay and moored immediately.

Point Solander SSE} in 8 fathoms water.
Cape Banks ESE    }

We found that the Governor had, without much difficulty, met some of the natives on the northern side of the Bay and, after convincing them of his good intentions, they received some trifling presents from him which they handed to each other without much concern.

[Page 59]

They were quite naked and had much the appearance of being well disposed toward us. We saw eight of them setting on the rocks as we came into the bay. They called to us. Some of them walked along the shore and others kept setting on the rocks. The boats met with natives in every part of the bay but no women had yet been seen.

Captain Hunter went on board the Supply to the Governor and with him visited the south shore, taking a guard of marines with them. Near the place the Governor landed at, we saw several of the natives, in small parties of two, three and five together, frequently advancing and again retreating. The Governor advanced by himself and laid down some presents for them, then retired. One of the natives immediately advanced, picked it up and handed it to the others, apparently pleased. By noon we saw that our people and the natives were mixed together. The boat crews amused themselves with dressing the natives with paper and other whimsical things to entertain them, with which they were pleased for the moment.

Monday, 21st, pm. An officer and party of men were sent from the Sirius to clear away to a run of water on the south side of the bay. The natives were well pleased with our people until they began clearing the ground at which they were displeased and wanted them to be gone. At sunset, when the boats left the shore, several of the natives came down to the water side and then went to their huts.

[Page 60]

Mr. King returned, having been up an inlet on the south side, 5 miles. He found the country something better than what it was round the bay but not any water. Mr. King, seeing some natives on a point of land, backed the boat to them to endeavour to have some intercourse with them. One of the natives threw a spear at which all the rest seemed much displeased, after which they came close to the boat and were quite friendly.

They expressed a wish to know whether the people in our boat were men or women and made themselves understood by bringing some of their women down, pointing to themselves, our people and the women alternately. As the men were entirely naked, they were immediately satisfied in this particular by one person in the boat, which served to convince them all were the same.

The natives that appeared on the northern side the bay expressed the same wish of knowing whether our people were men or women. After being satisfied on that head, one of them ran in amongst the bushes, made himself a belt of grass and came dancing out with it round his waist with leaves hung over it. They were much inclined to steal any kind of cloth or covering and did steal some bags which were sent on shore for hay.

[Page 61]

AM, at daylight. The Governor, Captain Hunter, the master of the Sirius and Supply went in the long boat and 2 cutters, to look into Port Jackson, not finding any situation at Botany Bay fit for settling and particularly, from ships in the bay being so much exposed to the sea in bad weather, as to render their situation very dangerous.

Mr. King and Mr. Dawes were again sent up the inlet to determine as near as they could the extent of it. Major Ross attended the operations on shore and, as our settling here was not yet determined on, it was not judged proper to land any of the convicts, but the necessary works were carried on by the marines and seamen.

Two of the seamen on the northern shore, straggling into the woods without arms or anything to protect themselves, sailor like, met with some natives, men, women and children who were very friendly, met them without fear and eagerly accepted of a jacket which one of the sailors gave them. They were all entirely naked.

22 January 1788

22nd. Clearing the ground on the south side the bay it appeared worse the lower we went down and, in digging a sawpit, the whole depth of it was little else but sand, and swamps all round. Some dogs were seen with the natives that came amongst us.

When the seine was hauled this evening, several of the natives were by, and when they saw the quantity of fish brought on shore at once were much astonished, which they expressed by a loud and long shout. They took some of the fish, which the officer permitted, and ran away directly.

[Page 62]

Some of the officers going to that part of the wood to which they retreated, occasioned them to stop and make signs that they did not like to be followed, on which they were left to themselves to walk off with their fish. We met with more success with the seine than before, in a cove round the point, just within Bare Island. In this cove we found better water and easier to be got at, than any place we had yet tried.

Mr. King and Mr. Dawes returned, after having been, by their account, about 12 miles up the Western inlet, without being able to determine how much further it ran.

AM. None of the natives appeared on the south side, but a great number on the northern shore. They struck the fish, as the seine was hauled ashore, with their spears, and ran off with them, sensible that what they had done was wrong.

23 January 1788

23rd, pm. A black man was landed among the working party with whom the natives were much pleased and they seemed astonished that he did not understand them. They wished him to stay with them and followed the boat that he was in, as far as they could. As the boat left the shore they retired, apparently as well satisfied as if the man of their own complexion had remained with them.

A great number of rats were seen and a flying squirrel. The natives we met with here were of the middle size. Men wore their beards long, their hair much clotted with dirt. They appear a straight, well limbed people and very active.

[Page 63]

The weapons they had with them were either a spear, a lance for striking fish, or a club. Most of those we had seen have lost one of their fore teeth, apparently drawn or punched out, and although few were seen with the bone or stick across the nose, as mentioned by Captain Cook, they had, most of them, the hole through the nose. They all expressed great curiosity as to our sex. Having our beards shaved and being clothed, they could not tell what to take us for.

24 January 1788

24th, pm. The Governor, with the boats, returned from the northward, having discovered Port Jackson to be an exceeding fine harbour with many coves all forming inner harbours, the soil far preferable to that at Botany Bay and in some parts a good soil, and well supplied with water. These discoveries at once determined the Governor to remove the ships as soon as possible and proceed himself in the Supply immediately, for which purpose a proportion of convicts and guard of marines were ordered to go with the Supply.

AM. At daylight, two strange sail appeared in the offing, which prevented the Governor proceeding in the Supply, he wishing to first know what they were. The wind blowing strong off the land, they lost ground every tack and were too far out for a boat to venture to them. We perceived their colours to be French, at their nearest approach.

[Page 64]

25 January 1788

Friday, 25th. The transports were reported ready to proceed with the Sirius. The French ships were out of sight at 6 o'clock. We received the timekeeper from the Supply where it had unfortunately been let down on the passage to this place.

AM. The Supply got under sail with two long boats. At 6 the signal was made for the convoy to get under weigh, which most of them did. The flood tide ran so strong that they fell to leeward on which the signal was made to anchor. The Supply, after having made several tacks in the entrance of the bay, finding the tide too strong, bore away and came in again. At 9 she weighed, at 10 made the signal and weighed with the convoy but, coming on very thick and the Golden Grove having parted her cable, at noon made the signal and anchored again, the Supply clear, without the heads.


The First Fleet entering Port Jackson. Lithograph by Edmund Le Bihan. (Wikipedia

26 January 1788

Saturday, 26th, pm. The weather too thick to move the convoy. AM, at daylight, fine weather with a moderate breeze at SE. The French ships standing in for the bay. An officer was sent on board of them, found them to be the Boussole and Astrolabe, French King's ships on discoveries. Had been to the northward, and called at Kamschatka and China, last from the Navigators Islands.

As soon as the tide made out of the bay, weighed with the convoy. At noon, working out of the bay.

[Page 65]


'Entrance of Port Jackson, 27 Janury 1788'

27 January 1788

Sunday, 27th. At 1pm were clear of the bay and steered for Port Jackson. At 3, seeing that all the convoy were out, made sail and at 4 were within the heads of Port Jackson, up which harbour we ran about 5 miles and anchored at the entrance of the cove in which the Supply was lying, and where the marines and convicts that came in here were encamped. The convoy all anchored in and off the cove before dark.

The entrance of Port Jackson is about 10 miles to the northward of Botany Bay and is some distance within the northern extreme of land in sight when without the bay. The best mark to know when you draw near it, coming from the southward, is some remarkable sandhills over a sandy bay, 2 or 3 miles to the southward of the South Head. The shore from this bay to the South Head is high rocky cliffs.

28 January 1788

Monday, 28th. All the carpenters and artificers belonging to the Sirius, and convicts, were employed clearing away the ground round the encampment. AM, went with Captain Hunter, the master, and one of the midshipmen, about surveying the harbour.

On a point of land in the lower part of the harbour, between Middle Head and Bradley Point, we saw several of the natives on the upper part of the rocks, who made a great noise and waved to us to come on shore. There being a great surf we could not land at the point we wished which, they observing, pointed to the best place to land and came down unarmed to meet us.

[Page 66]

We, of course, landed unarmed, taking care that arms were ready for us at a moment's notice.

Having some angles to measure from this point, two of the officers went to the outer point of the rocks for that purpose. The others remained with the natives, who were all much disposed to good humour and pleased with us.

On our landing, we observed some women at the place the men came down from. They would not come near us, but peeped from behind the rocks and trees. When the boats put off, the men began dancing and laughing and when we were far enough off, to bring the place the women were at in sight, they held their arms extended over their heads, got on their legs and danced until we were some distance, then followed us upon the rocks as far as the boats went along that shore.

In course of the forenoon we went to a cove within the inner South Head (Camp Cove), where we were cordially received by 3 men, who left their women sitting in a canoe at the other end of the beach. We made a fire on shore and dined in the boats. While our people were cooking the dinner, the natives were amongst them playing, looking at the boat, manner of cooking etc. and were without any weapons the whole time. They laid their spears down on the sand between the women and the place they met us at. When we left them and rowing towards the point where the women were, they* got out of the canoes and ran into the woods. The men followed us along the shore*.

["they" = the women? Bradley refers to "a canoe" ealier in the paragraph. Ed.]

[Page 67]

29 January 1788

Tuesday, 29th. Landed on a point forming the NW or middle branch, to which we were followed by several of the natives, along the rocks, having only their sticks which they use in throwing the lance, with them. A man followed at some distance with a bundle of lances. They pointed with their sticks to the best landing place and met us in the most cheerful manner, shouting and dancing. The women kept at a distance near the man with the spears. This mark of attention to the women in showing us that, although they met us unarmed, they had arms ready to protect them, increased my favourable opinion of them very much. Some of these people, having pieces of tape and other things tied about them, we conclude them to be some of those people whom the Governor had met here before. These people mixed with ours and all hands danced together.

From here we went to Grotto Point, moored the boats for the night and made a tent fore and aft the longboat, in which we all slept.

AM. Went over to Shell Cove and left this branch, taking it as reported by those who examined it when the boats first came into this harbour. As we left this branch we met several canoes with one man in each of them. They had so much confidence in us as to come close alongside our boats. After fixing the place of the rock and extent of the shoal water round it, we went into the north arm.

[Page 68]

As we were going in to the first cove on the east side, called Spring Cove, we were joined by 3 canoes with one man in each. They hauled their canoes up and met us on the beach, leaving their spears in the canoes. We were soon joined by a dozen of them and found three amongst them with trinkets etc. hanging about them, that had been given to them a week before by the Governor on his first visit to this place.

Our people and these mixed together and were quite sociable, dancing and otherwise amusing them. One of our people combed their hair, with which they were much pleased. Several women appeared at a distance, but we could not prevail on the men to bring them near us.

We had here an opportunity of examining their canoes and weapons. The canoe is made of the bark taken off a large tree of the length they want to make the canoe, which is gathered up at each end and secured by a lashing of strong vine which runs amongst the underbrush. One was secured by small line. They fix spreaders in the inside. The paddles are about 2 feet long in shape like a pudding stirrer. These they use, one in each hand, and go along very fast, setting with their legs under them and their bodies erect and, although they do not use outriggers, I have seen them paddle through a large surf without oversetting or taking in more water than if rowing in smooth water. From their construction they are apt to leak when any weight is in them.

[Page 69]

The man nearest that part of the canoe where the water lies, heaves it out behind him with a piece of wood in the hollow of his hand, still keeping his body erect as when rowing. They are by far the worst canoes I ever saw or heard of. I have seen some so small as 8 feet long and others twice that length. In these canoes they will stand up to strike fish at which they seem expert.

The lances which they had here with them were one sort about 12 feet in length with 4 barbed prongs made of bone and fastened on to the prong by a stiff gum. These 4 prongs are secured to the stick and spread equally, about a foot in length. A smaller one, of the same kind, and one with a single stick barbed at and above the point.

The long spears are indented at the end, for to receive a peg which is fixed on a stick, 2 or 3 feet long and which they apply to throw the lance any considerable distance. The other end of this stick has a sharp, hard shell fixed on it which serves for opening shell fish, getting them off the rocks and various other purposes.

The Governor's plan with respect to the natives, was, if possible, to cultivate an acquaintance with them without their having an idea of our great superiority over them, that their confidence and friendship might be more firmly fixed. We could not persuade any of them to go away in the boat with us.

[Page 70]


'First interview with the native women at Port Jackson New South Wales'

Having occasion to measure another base line, we landed at the upper part of the northern arm for that purpose. While we were about it, 2 of the natives came down, seemed pleased to meet us and were much astonished at what we were doing. These people passed on to the place where our fire was and mixed with our people. They were neither of them armed.

Soon after, and as we were going along the beach, a man and a very old woman met us. They stopped with us a short time and then walked on to the place our people were at. This was the first woman that came among us. She appeared feeble with old age, very dark and ugly. We could, not from her, judge what the younger ones might be, but we had now some hopes that, by the old woman coming to us, the others who we saw on the beach close by the woods would allow us an interview.

As we approached them they ran away and as soon as we retired they showed themselves again and had a party of very stout armed men near them. We used many entreaties without effect. The ladies still kept their distance.

When we had done what we had to do, we returned to the boat, leaving two of the officers on shore with the people who were cooking, that nothing improper might be done by them as we had now many of the natives assembled about us and armed and several more coming along the beach. Two muskets were handed to our people on shore and the other arms kept ready in the long boat. These people all came among us and laid their lances down on the beach.

[Page 71]

The old woman made herself very comfortable and was with us from our first meeting with her. She and her companions expressed a wish to know whether we were men or women. These people wanted every thing from us that they saw us make use of or that we had about us. We did not give them anything, in hopes of bringing the women among us by keeping what articles we had to give them and signified to the men that we would give all to the women if they would come from the woods where they were sitting looking at us.

30 January 1788

30th, pm. This scheme at last succeeded, for as we left the beach to dine in the boats, which lay close to, the women came, having a party of armed men with them who had each a green bough in his hand which they waved as they advanced. They came near us and sat down amongst our other visitors. The party of armed men stood by them and never laid down their spears.

We made signs to them, that if they would stay, we would bring them ashore some things, which we showed to them. We took every precaution to prevent improprieties being committed by ordering the people out of the small boat and Captain Hunter, with the 3 officers, went in her from the longboat to go on shore, leaving the muskets in the longboat loaded, in case their might be occasion to use them. As we approached the shore the women retired, on which we immediately put back to the longboat, making the same signs as we had done before.

[Page 72]

An old man then called to the women and the greatest part of them returned and came to the old man who walked close down to the waterside as we approached. The armed men with the boughs posted themselves together just by, and every one of the men now took up their spears and kept them poised ready for throwing, standing close to the edge of the beach and rocks when the boat landed. The old man came to the side of her and wanted the things which we had held out to the women, to take to them, which we refused and signified to them that we must give the things to the women ourselves.

The old man, finding us determined, spoke to the women and one of them came in to the water to the side of the boat. We ornamented this naked beauty with strings of beads and buttons, round her neck, arms and wrists. She appeared rather frightened, although she affected a laugh and seemed pleased with her presents. When she retired, several of the other women came to the side of the boat, attended by the old man. We ornamented these the same as the first.

Some came without fear, others trembling and laughing, hesitating before they would come, and some just near enough to reach the things. Two of them could not be persuaded to come within 2 or 3 yards of the boat. To those we threw some things and gave the old man some for them. The whole of this time the men who kept their lances ready were silent and attentive to what was doing. Two men were placed on a separate rock, we supposed to keep a look out upon the long boat.

[Page 73]

After having disposed of our trifling presents we went off to the long boat. As soon as we put off, the men held their spears carelessly and began shouting, laughing and dancing. We counted 72, besides women and children. This was more than twice the number ever yet seen together before, either in this harbour or Botany Bay.

The men we met with here were, in general, stout and well limbed. The women, excepting the very old woman, were young and in general shorter than the men, very straight limbed and well featured, their voice a pleasing softness. They were all entirely naked, old and young.

The men had their beards long and very bushy. Their hair hangs about their heads, clotted with dirt and vermin. Some of them had the teeth of some animal, and pieces of bone, stuck in their hair with gum. They are so dirty that it is hard to tell the real colour of their hides, which I think is nearly black. Their noses are somewhat flat and all those that we noticed had a hole bored, through which they sometimes put a stick or small bone, but of all this party only one wore it.

Most of these men had lost one of the fore teeth and their skins are much scarred — not like those commonly seen from wounds. This, as well as the loss of a particular tooth, is a custom observed amongst them, that we cannot yet learn the reason for. They walk very upright and very much with their hands behind them. Most of the spears this party had were a single hard sharp pointed stick secured, as the others, with gum, to a long and light stick 12 or 16 feet in length, and a single barbed spear. The former they threw at a mark, tolerable exact, 60 yards.

[Page 74]

They use a throwing stick which is about 3 feet long with a kind of peg secured on one end, which they apply to the end of the spear. Keeping hold of the other end of the throwing stick, they steady the spear and direct it with the forefinger and thumb. This stick being applied, increases its velocity very much. Several of these men were marked with streaks of red and white, particularly the armed party that came from the woods with the women.

We saw two huts, a little from one part of the beach, but their residence we find chiefly under the shelving rocks. The afternoon being far gone, we left these people earlier than we should have otherwise done, that we might sound about the lower part of the harbour as we returned to the ships.

February 1788

2 February 1788

Saturday, 2nd February. We did not meet with any natives again until this day. At daylight saw several canoes in the cove we were surveying. They all fled, some out of the cove and others up to a cove (Lane Cove). We could not by any means get these people near us. Having occasion to go to the bottom of the inner cove where several of them had gone with their canoes, they thought we were following them and pushed up a creek to avoid us.

3 February 1788

Sunday, 3pm. In a cove to the NW, 3 miles above the ship, we saw several natives, some sitting round a fire. Others were just landing with their canoes.

[Page 75]

The moment they perceived us, they ran off in great confusion and hurry, not taking time to make the canoes fast or haul them ashore. These people had a dog with them. We found muscles on the fire, others in their canoes and some dropped between both. Their fright was so great that they went off without taking their fishing lines, spears or anything with them. These we suppose to be of the number who fled up the harbour when we arrived. We left strings of beads, cards, pieces of cloth etc. about their fire and in the canoes and were very particular not to move any one of their things.

4 February 1788

Monday, 4th, am. As we proceeded up the harbour, the natives all fled in their canoes as far and as fast as they could. About 4 mile higher than where the ship lay, the country was open and improved. The farther we went up, and in most places, not any underwood, grass very long.

4th, pm. Followed many openings to the NW and passed a narrow channel into a wide space which would not be in our power to survey before night. There was assembled up here an astonishing number of the natives, all armed.

Flats on which the boats might ground in this channel, and put us much in their power. Not having any people but the boats crews with us, and being 8 miles from the ship, Captain Hunter thought that taking the necessary precautions would employ too many of our people for us to go on with the plan we were prosecuting. We therefore returned and moored the boats for the night at Dawes Island.

[Page 76]

5 February 1788

5th, am. Went into the SW branch. Found it terminates in snug coves, surrounded with mangroves, rather shoal water.

5th, pm. Returned to the ship. At daylight, having a guard of marines, proceeded to the upper part of the harbour again, passed several natives in the coves as we went up and some on shore near the place where we left the beads and other things, who followed along the rocks calling to us. We landed to cook our breakfast on the opposite shore to them (Breakfast Point).

We made signs to them to come over and waved green boughs, soon after which 7 of them came over in two canoes and landed near our boats. They left their spears in the canoes and came to us. We tied beads etc. about them and left them our fire to dress their muscles, which they went about as soon as our boats put off.

At noon, we were far enough to see the termination of the harbour as far as navigable for ships, being all flats above us with narrow passages that we supposed might run a considerable distance but very shoal. As we returned to the ship we saw natives in almost every part of the harbour, in small parties. In one of the coves we found a piece of a cake which appeared to be made of the wild fig. We saw them chiefly in small parties and, to appearance, have not any fixed habitation, moving about the harbour as they find will afford them the best means of subsistence in the north arm.

[Page 77]

I suppose them to be a people inhabiting that part of the harbour. This I judge from the number of women and children that were with them and the appearance of their being governed by a chief, from the attention they paid to the old man at our interview with the women. The party of armed men being selected and painted on the foreheads and breast, and their being with the women when they first appeared, shows that they were for their protection and favours my opinion. We did not see anything of the kind in any other part of the harbour or notice that one man held himself superior to any other.

6 February 1788

Wednesday, 6th. The survey of the harbour was finished in as accurate a manner as the time would admit of, yet in a place so very extensive it is possible for rocks to be hidden and holes of deep water near the bluff lands to be, without our being able to get exactly on them.

The entrance of the harbour is about 10 miles to the northward of Botany Bay. The best mark to know when you draw near it coming from the southward, is some remarkable sand hills over a sandy bay. These sand hills are near 3 mile to the southward of the entrance and from the point of this sandy bay, the shore is all rocky cliffs to the inner south head. As you approach the entrance from the southward, the heads have an unfavourable appearance.

[Page 78]

As you sail into the opening between the outer heads, which is near 2 miles across, steep too on both sides, you will see on the south shore a point off which is a small reef made by the fallen rocks, and breaks as far out as any danger can be (and a steep rocky head to the WNW called Middle Cape as it separates the branches.)

As you pass this point, or inner South Head, the harbour opens to the SW in which reach of the harbour, and more than a third over from a sandy cove on the south shore, formed by a remarkable green point, is a rock which dries at half ebb and a flat round it of considerable extent.

There is a bar of clear flat sand all the way from this rock to the inner south Head, with 3 fathoms at low water. It is not very broad and when past it you have deep water between the rock and the south shore, the marks for which channel are the inner northern and south heads on. The marks for the Rock are the outer point of the northern head just on with the inner south head and the green point, on with a remarkable gully seen over the land to be close to the outer south head.

In passing to the westward of the rock you will go over a flat which extends from the shoal of the rock over to the next point above the middle cape. There is 4 and 4 fathoms on it and shoals gradually to 3 towards the shoal which is a little distance. Above the rock you may cross in 3 fathoms. As soon as past the point above middle cape you have deep water and may anchor or work from shore to shore. There is no danger afterward that we could discover.

[Page 79]

As you sail through this reach of the harbour, which lays SW by S by compass, you will see two islands which, before you get the length of the harbour, will open W or WS of you round a projecting point, and a white rocky small island show itself right in the stream of the harbour. You may pass on either side of it and about half a mile higher up is the cove where the settlement is fixed, off both points of which is a small ledge which dries at low water, the greater part of it. The shore round both sides of the cove is steep too.

With a leading wind I would recommend steering in for the land of the middle cape which lays nearly WNW by compass from the inner south head, and keep that shore on board until above the rock. The northern arm has good clear ground and depth of water. The harbour is navigable for ships 12 miles east and west and the branches extend 6 miles north and south. It is one continuation of harbour within harbour, formed by snug coves with good depth of water and fresh water in many of them. Those coves above where the ships lay were surrounded by mangroves and had mud flats at the bottom. Those below had sandy beaches, most of them.

The entrance is in latitude 3350'S longitude 15126'E. The flag staff at the settlement 3351'S and 15120'E. Variation of the compass 1030'E. Tide flows full and changes past 8 and rises from 5 to 8 feet, much influenced by the winds.

We found fish aplenty although the harbour is full of sharks. There is a great quantity of shell fish in the coves that have mud flats at the bottom.

[Page 80]

Oysters were very large. We found wild spinage, samphire and other leaves of bushes which we used as vegetables. An island near a mile below the settlement was granted for the use of the Sirius to make a garden of.

7 February 1788

Thursday, 7th, pm. The lightening which had been frequent, and very severe since our arrival, was particularly so this evening. A tree was struck and shivered near the encampment. Six Sheep, one lamb and one hog that were near the tree were killed by the same lightening and others much scorched. The sentinel on post near the tree was knocked down and lost his sight. The thunder squalls for the last three nights were excessively severe.

8 February 1788

Friday, 8th, am. Being the morning appointed for reading the Governor's commission etc., all the officers attended. At the hour appointed, the convicts were collected and the marines formed under arms. The commission was then read by the judge advocate, and the other public authorities, by which the settlement was to be governed.

Besides the civil law, according to the method used in England, another court for the trial of capital crimes was established by Act of Parliament. This court is called a Court of Criminal Judicature, to be composed of the Judge Advocate and 6 officers of His Majesty's Forces by sea and land, the majority of whose opinions to be the sentence, if not touching life or limb, in which case 5 of the 7 must concur in opinion, before sentence can be given.

[Page 81]

The Governor has the right of approving all sentences and mitigating punishments and of granting pardon.

8th, am. Two natives came to the camp. The Governor gave a hatchet and several other things, but could not persuade them to stay. A kangaroo was killed which was the first we had brought in.

9 February 1788

Saturday, 9th, pm. The captain of the Astrolabe came round from Botany Bay to pay respects to Governor Phillip and to leave the French commodore's dispatches for Europe, to go by our transports. We found that they had been obliged to fire on the natives at Botany Bay, to keep them quiet. We also learnt from them that they had lately suffered much loss at the Navigator's Islands, from some offence having been given to the natives.

They took the opportunity of their longboat being aground to close on them with clubs while others threw stones and forced them from the shore to two small boats, which they luckily had with them, or all must have fallen. They fired and killed many of the natives but were obliged to retreat with the loss of the captain of the Astrolabe, 7 other officers and 4 of their people, and many others badly wounded. They broke the boat to pieces in their savage frenzy.

11 February 1788

Monday, 11th. A Criminal Court of Judicature was held on three convicts, whose sentence was immediately put in execution after being read to them.

[Page 82]

12 February 1788

Tuesday, 12th. A boat belonging to the Sirius, being up the harbour, found 4 convict women straggling about the rocks, one of whom made her escape into the woods and no doubt perished.

13 February 1788

Wednesday, 13th. Several kangaroo were seen and a bird resembling the ostrich.

14 February 1788

Thursday, 14th. Twenty of the natives came to the Governor's farm. On seeing the sheep they exclaimed, "kangaroo." They would not come nearer the camp. In the morning the Supply sailed for Norfok Island, with Lieutenant King, a master's mate, surgeon's mate and 4 artificers belonging to the Sirius and 9 men and 6 women convicts.

Mr. King had some sheep, hogs, poultry, seed and plants, with tools and implements for clearing and cultivating the ground.

15 February 1788

Friday, 15th. The Governor went with three boats, marined and armed, up the harbour, taking the first lieutenant and master with him. We were some distance up the harbour before any of the natives were seen. The first party of them were 8, sitting under a hollow rock round a fire. One of the men stood up and spoke to us. The rest did not appear to be the least disturbed as they neither moved nor spoke. We stopped at a neck of land to breakfast and we were soon met there by a native, armed.

He laid down his spear as soon as he joined us, and had more curiosity than any we had before met with. He examined everything very attentively and went into all our boats from one to the other.

[Page 83]

In the long boat he sat down and, with the help of one of the people, he contrived to manage an oar, though very awkwardly. The Governor gave this man a hatchet and a looking glass which, when he looked into, he looked immediately behind the glass to see if any person was there, and then pointed to the glass and the shadows which he saw in the water, signifying they were similar.

Another man joined us soon after and a third was laying off in a canoe. Wanting to see him get out of the canoe, we enticed him on shore. He had a stone, slung by way of an anchor, which he let go just as the canoe took the ground. He stepped one leg out of the canoe, keeping the weight of his body in its centre, until he had foot hold of the shore to remove it to that leg. In this manner he landed without any risk of oversetting the canoe. We next proceeded up to the beginning of the flats, where we landed and went 2 or 3 miles into the country, found the trees a considerable distance apart and the soil, in general, good; grass very long and no underwood.

16 February 1788

16th. At 1pm returned to the boats and, after dinner, went in the smallest boat over the flats, past a mangrove island and followed a creek some distance to the westward, when it branched away to the NW and SW which last we followed 4 miles as near as we could judge.

The lake, or drain, is very shoal, and where we stopped was entirely filled up with fallen trees from both sides. The water falling fast, we had barely time to get down boats which, when we first returned to the ship, a marine was missing in the woods.

[Page 84]


'Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, 1788'


'William Bradley's Map of Sydney Cove.
State Library of New South Wales'

AM. In a cove where our people were hauling the seine, the natives, men and women, joined them and assisted, for which they had some fish given them and were very thankful.

17 February 1788

Sunday, 17th, am. The marine that lost himself came in. He met with several of the natives, who were all very friendly. They wanted his musket, but did not offer to take it by force when he refused to let them have it. He saw a great number of kangaroo, one of which he killed and brought to the camp with him.

Three people belonging to the French ships came over from Botany Bay. They met with but few of the natives. We found that the natives at Botany Bay had been endeavouring to steal several things from them, which obliged them to fire on them once or twice.

18 February 1788

Monday, 18th. Several of the natives appeared on the points of land near where the ship lay. The fishing boat coming past them put ashore and gave them some fish which they eagerly accepted.

19 February 1788

Tuesday, 19th. Governor Phillip removed from the ship and took up his residence on shore.

AM. Several of the natives came down the harbour and kept in a bay near the ship. Seven of them in 4 canoes passed through the cove between the Sirius and transports and went close past one of our boats with great confidence.

[Page 85]

One of them landed on the east point of Sydney Cove to meet some of our people who were there. From this they went to our Garden Island and found means to steal two iron shovels and a pick axe. The pick axe, the gardeners obliged them to bring back and lay it, themselves, in the very spot they had taken it from. The shovels they escaped with, but not without their skin being well peppered with small shot.

19 February 1788

Wednesday, 20th. Several canoes passed the ship, in which were women and children. They stayed all night on a point close to the ship and then went down the harbour.

21 February 1788

Thursday, 21st. Having had a great deal of dry, hot weather it was observed that several of the streams of fresh water had stopped and others run very slow. Some of the officers of the Boussole came from Botany Bay to visit the Governor. They inform us that the natives are exceedingly troublesome there and that wherever they meet an unarmed man they attack him.

23 February 1788

Saturday, 23. A general muster of the convicts discovered that 9 men and 1 woman were still missing. The woman is the same that ran into the woods the 12th when our boat took her 3 companions straggling. This afternoon the left arm and hand of a white man or woman floated past the ship; had the appearance of having been a considerable time in the water.

[Page 86]

25 February 1788

Monday, 25th. Our fishing boat met with a great number of canoes in the cove where they went to haul the seine, in several of which were women fishing, who felt no kind of interruption from our boat being amongst them.

26 February 1788

Tuesday, 26th. Captain Hunter went to Botany Bay in the longboat to visit the French officers.

27 February 1788

27th. Three convicts were condemned to death by a criminal court for stealing provisions from the store. The allowance to the convicts had been this day increased and they were receiving such addition at the time the theft was committed. One of them was executed the same afternoon and the others reprieved twenty-four hours.

28 February 1788

Thursday, 28th. The weather was such that our boat could not get out of Botany Bay. Captain Hunter walked over with some of the French Officers. At 6 in the evening the criminals who had been reprieved were taken to the place of execution. They were pardoned on condition of being banished from the settlement.

29 February 1788

29th. The same criminal court met again to try the rest of the criminals. One was admitted king's evidence, 2 condemned to death and 1 acquitted for stealing wine from the contractor. Another was sentenced to death for stealing provisions from one of the other convicts.

At 4 their sentences were read to them and they were taken to the place of execution where, instead of meeting the fate they deserved, they received an extraordinary mark of the Governor's lenity. He pardoned them on condition of their being banished from the settlement and one he reserved to be the common executioner.

[Page 87]

March 1788

1 March 1788

Saturday, 1 March. The long boat returned from Botany Bay. The French ships had launched their boats, which they had built in lieu of those destroyed at Navigators Isles, and proposed sailing in a few days.

2 March 1788

Sunday, 2nd. At daylight the Governor, with his cutter, accompanied by the first lieutenant of the Sirius in her long boat and the master in one of the transport's long boat, with a party of marines in addition to the boats' crews, left for the purpose of examining Broken Bay, victualled for seven days.

The long boat in which the master was, proved so very heavy and unhandy, that we waited in Spring Cove until she came up with us and cleared her. The Governor took the master into his boat and sent back that longboat. We were met in this cove by several of the natives. A woman who was fishing in a canoe, landed with very little persuasion. She was excessively ugly and very big with child. There being many women fishing in their canoes about the cove, the Governor did not give anything to the men.

None of the other women came ashore, but all came alongside our boats with their canoes. The men kept on the beach. The generality of this party of women were old, ugly and ill-shaped. The Governor here exchanged a straw hat for a spear which, when he was taking it to our boat, another of them took hold of it, on which the man who had the hat ran to him and explained that it had been exchanged. He let it go and seem pleased.

[Page 88]

At 8. Went out of Port Jackson. When off the harbour, the heads of Broken Bay are within the northern extreme of land. The south head is fifteen miles to the northward of the North Head of Port Jackson, round which head the coast forms a deep bight and has a cove, or bend, where a boat may shelter.

From this the beach [the land] runs about three miles to the northward to a reef of rocks, which break some distance out, and round which is a bight with a long sandy beach, on which close round this reef of rocks a boat may land, if caught upon the shore and not able to reach either of the harbours.

All round this bight the natives appeared on the high land, from this there did not appear to be any shelter for boats in any of the sandy bays. As we passed the sandy bay next to the south head of Broken Bay, we were met by three canoes, having 1 man and 5 women in them. They came alongside of our boats quite familiarly. The Governor pushed over to the northern shore in the cutter.

The tide set so strong to the southward, that it was with difficulty the long boat could get round the south head. As the evening closed, we lost sight of the cutter and as we approached the northern shore of Broken Bay we made signals, by flashing of powder, and saw lights immediately after, on the northern shore, to which we rowed and found to be the natives lights.

[Page 89]

We then hauled off and fired a musket, which was immediately answered, and we soon saw the cutter and at 9 at night moored the boats in a cove on the northern side of the bay, off which the surf broke violently.

When the cutter first landed, they were met by a great number of the natives, men, women and children. The men were all armed with spears, clubs, stone hatchets and wooden swords. They were all very friendly and, when the long boat landed, were without arms. We passed the night in this cove on board the boats, everybody.

3 March 1788

Monday, 3rd. At daylight we went into the northern branch of the harbour, which has a shoal and narrow entrance, just within which we stopped. Found the natives familiar. They had several huts here which were merely small sticks placed against each other and covered over with bark. In these huts were several women, old and young. They were much terrified at first, but soon were composed and familiar on having presents made them. They had several crayfish about these huts.

As we proceeded up this branch, after passing a very shoal flat and two or three coves, we found the set out so strong that we could not pull ahead through between two projecting points, on which we landed in a cove adjacent. Here we were met by several natives, men and women, who all came freely about us.

All the women we met with in this bay, 2 only excepted, had lost two joints of the little finger on the left hand, which custom, like others, we are at a loss to account for. It was supposed by some to be the pledge on the marriage ceremony, or on their having children.

[Page 90]

I cannot agree in that opinion as one of the exceptions was an old woman who had had children and the other a young woman who had not.

[Page 90]


'View in Broken Bay New South Wales, March 1788'

The others, who had all been subject to this custom, were of both descriptions, old and young. This was not observed at Port Jackson as a custom among them but noticed in some and supposed to have been done by accident. We found most of the women had the hole bored through the nose, the same as the men. When the tide had slackened, we pushed up and found several small inlets between mangroves, on one of which islands we stopped and pitched the tents. Had very hard rain all the morning

4 March 1788

Tuesday, 4th, pm. While the tents and clothes were drying, some of the natives landed and were easily kept at a proper distance from the clothes. A crab was caught and proved very good.

am At daylight proceeded up and found it to be an extensive and very shoal piece of water, too much so for the boats to go over the flats without the risk of being left dry on the ebb tide. We found natives all the way up. Not being able to determine the extent of this piece of water, we returned to the cove in which we first stopped, where we found a straw hat and some strings of beads, which favours the opinion of their not having any fixed residence, as nothing of that kind had been given them here and several were both at Port Jackson and at Botany Bay. After staying a short time here we went over to the south side of the bay into the SW arm, off which is an island.

[Page 91]

We moored the boats about three miles up this branch. We had heavy rain, thunder and lightening all night.

5 March 1788

Wednesday, 5th, am. Followed the SW arm up to the head and found several coves and good depth of water all the way up, which I suppose to be about seven miles. We left two openings to the southward, without looking into them, and left this arm without examining a large opening to the NW, out of it about a mile and half above the island.

We went into the south arm and were caught suddenly by a thunder squall and had much difficulty in getting in.

In a cove just within the entrance we were met by an old man and boy. He had a stone in his hand, which he laid down as he came towards us. He showed us the best landing place, brought us a stick of fire and some water, signifying to us that the rain was very cold. We gave them fish and the Governor exchanged some things for spears. This man was but little scarred about the body.

6 March 1788

Thursday, 6pm. Continuing to rain we secured everything for the night. The old man was with us until the evening.

am Went up this arm and saw several of the natives in every cove. The old man and boy followed us round to one of the coves and showed us water. We stopped in a cove on the east side about three miles up. Several women in canoes were fishing, two of them came ashore, the one an old and ugly, the other a young woman, tall, and was the handsomest woman I have seen amongst them.

She was very big with child. Her fingers were complete, as were those of the Old Woman.

[Page 92]


'North arm of Broken Bay, New South Wales, from an island at the entrance, September, 1789'

One of the women made a fishing hook while we were by her, from the inside of what is commonly called the pearl oyster shell, by rubbing it down on the rocks until thin enough and then cutting it circular with another. She shaped the hook with a sharp point, rather bent in, and not bearded or barbed.

In this cove we met with a kernel, which they prepare and give their children. I have seen them eat it themselves. They are a kind of nut growing in bunches somewhat like a pine top, and are poisonous without being properly prepared, the method of doing which we did not learn from them. Hard rain the greatest part of these 24 hours.

7 March 1788

Friday, 7. We were at the upper part of the south arm and found in every part of it very good depth of water, except a flat at the entrance from the east point two thirds of the way over, between which and the western shore is a channel with three fathoms at low water, and that depth close to the rocks. The land on the east side of this arm is, in general, good and clear. On the west side all rocks, and thick woods.

AM. Left the southern arm and went again into the SW arm to look into that opening to the NW. Found but few of the natives in it. We landed on an island about two miles up this branch, on which we secured everything for the night. Got a great quantity of mullet in the seine, from which we called it Mullet Island.

There is long flat to the SE and a reef of rocks, round which is the bay for hauling the seine. We found some huts on the island, but only three natives came to us this evening.

[Page 93]


'S.W. Arm of Broken Bay, New South Wales, from an island at the entrance, September, 1789'

8 March 1788

Saturday, 8, am. Several of the natives came to us, painted very whimsically with pipe clay and red ochre, both of which is plenty on the island. The pipe clay is just under the sand on the beach, round the rocks.

We followed this branch up to the NW some distance, found openings to the northward and NW and on the west side of this opening to the NW there appeared to be an island with passages round it on both sides; but we only examined that opening to the NW above Mullet Island, which was found to be very shoal, that to the northward not having more than six feet water across the entrance, just within the points forming it, prevented our looking farther into it. About noon, having finished our superficial examination, which was much hindered by constant heavy rains, we returned to a cove at the outer part of the south arm. to be ready to go out of the Bay.

9 March 1788

Sunday, 9th, pm. The old man and boy came to us as before, with several more of the natives. They had many things given to them but that did not keep them from stealing. After dark the old man took an iron spade and was going off with it. He was seen from the longboat, pursued and brought back with it by one of the people on shore. The Governor chastised him for it, which so enraged him that he run off and very soon returned with his party, all with their spears ready to throw, when a musket was fired which made them stop and a second musket drove them away for the night.

[Page 94]

AM. At daylight, the old man and his companions came to us just the same, as if nothing had happened, and without arms. About 6 o'clock we left Broken Bay and got into Spring Cove in Port Jackson at 11.

10 March 1788

Monday, 10th, pm. Landed in a cove above Spring Cove and in Camp Cove, in which last we saw several of the natives who ran away, all but two. Those stayed on the beach and one of them showed us the marks on his body where he had been beat and also cut on the shoulder by the people who landed here from two boats. He made signs to us that the barbed spear had been jabbed several times into his shoulder. About 6 (pm) returned to the ship.

An emu had been shot while we were away and proved very good eating. Some of the convicts, straggling into the woods, met with several of the natives. A quarrel ensued. Who were the aggressors is hard to say, but the convicts were, some of them, wounded and one since dead. One of the seamen belonging to the Lady Penrhyn transport, who had been missing some days, was found in the woods by a man employed shooting for the Governor. He had been stripped of all his clothes, not able to stand and scarce sensible.

[Page 95]

11 March 1788

Tuesday, 11th. Were informed by the man encamped to get greens for the sick, that the French ships were sailed from Botany Bay.

13 March 1788

Thursday, 13th. The Governor met the officers on the subject of grants of land. They were informed that it was not in his authority to do it. Pieces of ground, for gardens and for feeding their stock, he allowed for present use, but not as grants of land.

16 March 1788

Sunday, 16th. Some of the natives came to a place where a party of the convicts had been left to cut rushes and, finding them unarmed, wanted to steal their tools. Being opposed they threw their spears at the convicts, which they very wisely picked up and broke to pieces. When they had thrown all their spears and saw them all broken to pieces, they threw a few stones and ran away. One of the convicts was wounded.

17 March 1788

Monday, 17th. A man employed shooting for the Governor had been 5 days absent. He reported, on his return, that he had been taken a considerable distance into the country by the natives, that he had killed a kangaroo which they took from him, broiled it and ate it all together.

19 March 1788

Wednesday, 19th. The Supply arrived from Norfolk Island having left Mr. King with the people and stores there and the jolly boat belonging to the Sirius. On their passage to Norfolk Island they discovered an island in latitude 3136'S and longitude 15900'E. Lieutenant Ball named it Lord Howe Island*. They arrived off Norfolk Island and landed on the NE side of it.

[* Spelled "Lord Howes Island" in the journal.]

[Page 96]

March 1788 [Previous day stated to be 19th March. A few paragraphs hence is the 20th March. These interim dates seem to refer to incidents on norfolk Island.]

The 2nd inst. A surge of the sea washed one of their people from a rock where he was standing and was drowned. It was supposed he had been drawn under a shelving rock as they could not see anything of the body. They could not find any place on this side of the island where the provisions and stores could be landed.

On the 6th they were landed on the south side of the island where there is a small gully through a reef, which dries at half tide, that will just admit a boat and is very dangerous when any swell is on the shore. They had much bad weather during the passage and the prevailing wind SE. They found part of the bones of a very large whale above high water mark.

Pigeons and other birds they found plenty, upon the island. The Supply called at Lord Howe Island on her return and got several turtle. The soil on the island appeared good and there were found a great quantity of ground birds which were very good and easily taken.

20 March 1788

Thursday, 20th. Captain Meridith, up the harbour, met several of the natives on the land opposite to Dawes Island. They were very familiar and had many things from him, but after he left them, dropping his boat along the shore, a spear was thrown that passed near him. He levelled his musket at which they, perceiving, got behind the trees. He fired a ball among them, on which they shouted but did not all run away.

[Page 97]

A convict, who had been out to gather greens with another convict, returned having met with a party of the natives, who beat him severely with their throwing sticks and then let him go. The other escaped through a thick brush which the natives don't like to get into.

An eagle was shot measuring seven feet from wing to wing, the feathers black and white. A very beautiful bird was shot by one of the officers, that seemed to partake of two species; the head and upper part of the body the parrot, the lower part and feet that of the pigeon.

23 March 1788

Sunday, 23. An Officer was sent to Botany Bay for the purpose of seeing if any ship was there and how the natives were disposed. He did not see any vessel there. He met a great number of natives, who were all friendly.

A shark was caught this day, thirteen feet long and six and a half round. After his jaws were taken out they passed over the largest man in the ship without touching. The liver gave us twenty-six gallons of oil. He had four hooks cut from within him, besides that which caught him.

24 March 1788

Monday, 24th. Lieutenant Dawes, of the marines, a corporal and 8 privates, were lent from the Sirius to do duty on shore, the battalion being weakened by sickness.

25 March 1788

Tuesday, 25th. The people employed making bricks were met by some of the natives, who threw stones at them and ran away. This day the Scarborough, Lady Penrhyn and Charlotte transports were discharged. Being clear, these ships, by contract, are allowed two months pay from their being cleared, on account of their having a voyage to China to perform, as also an additional sum on the ton to the other transports, on account of their being discharged and not kept in pay until their return to England.

[Page 98]

27 March 1788

Thursday, 27th. Several canoes passed down the harbour, one of which stopped to fish between the ship and the shore, with two women in her. They remained until near sunset, but would not come to the ship.

29 March 1788

Saturday, 29th. Several men, women and children were fishing abreast the ship, where they kept all day and landed on a point of land near us in the evening.

30 March 1788

Sunday, 30. Natives as yesterday. On our boat going towards them, they paddled to the shore and ran into the woods and came out again as soon as our boat left them. We did not interrupt them again. They stayed to the 2nd April and then went two coves higher up. This party consisted of seventeen canoes with thirty people in them. Some of our officers were on shore, on a point which they passed near. One canoe landed and had some baize given them. The other canoes all lay off.

The surgeon wounded and brought down a crow in their sight and endeavoured to get the canoes to land, by waving the wounded bird to them. Finding that they would not land, the surgeon threw the bird toward them which, having recovered itself, flew away and joined some others that were in a tree close by. This uncommon circumstance, which could not appear to them short of our having power to give and take life, astonished them so much that they remained quite silent some time and then all joined in a loud exclamation of wonder.

[Page 99]

April 1788

3 April 1788

Thursday, 3rd. Another party came up the harbour and occupied the caves etc. which the former had left. [Our] boat went to them with pieces of cloth etc. The women all ran into the woods, the men remained and met our boat. They had several things given them among which was a shirt. One of them put it on. This new skin he seemed much pleased with, but appeared to be deprived of the use of his limbs while within it. They could not be prevailed on to come to the ship.

4 April 1788

Friday, 4th. Natives as yesterday and the former party fishing higher up in sight of the ship.

6 April 1788

Sunday, 6th. Some of the officers went to Botany Bay. There was no ship there. They found that the inscription which had been painted on a board and fixed on a tree, near the place the French Abb who died was buried, while those ships were at Botany Bay, was torn down by the natives. The inscription was not so much defaced but that it was copied by one of the gentlemen and the same ordered by Governor Phillip to be engraved on a piece of copper and nailed in the place the other had been taken from.

[Page 100]

10 April 1788

Thursday, 10th. The Governor and party being in that part of the harbour round middle cape, found an entrance round a long sandy point into a very extensive piece of water, which branched away in three directions and good depth of water, after having passed over the flat at the entrance.

13 April 1788

Sunday, 13th. The Governor went down the harbour to visit the coves in the lower part of it. He crossed the neck from the northern cove and found, at the end of the beach at the back of it, a piece of stagnate brackish water.

14 April 1788

Monday, 14th. Captain Hunter traced the northernmost branches of the Middle Harbour, to endeavour to know if they had any communication with that piece of water found yesterday. The northernmost branch was found to end in a flat, dry at low water, and about two miles above it a large run of fresh water. This day two natives landed on the point of the cove where the observatory is fixed, but could not be persuaded to go into camp.

15 April 1788

Tuesday, 15th. The Governor and party were landed in the northern cove, for the purpose of going some distance into the country and to examine that piece of stagnate water beforementioned.

16 April 1788

Wednesday, 16th. A boat went to the northern cove to bring this party back should they return. While the boat was laying there we walked across the neck, where some canoes were just landing, which they did with ease although a very great surf was running. They met us and walked over with us to the place where our boat was laying. They stayed with us half an hour. Several women appeared at a distance but would not come to us.

[Page 101]

17 April 1788

Thursday, 17th. Lieutenant Ball, with some of the Governor's party, crossed the branches of Middle Harbour and returned to the northern shore opposite to Sydney Cove. They left the Governor at the northernmost branch leading to a large run of water, up which they meant to go the next day. Mr. Ball found all the country he crossed to be a jumble of rocks and thick woods, except one small spot about a mile to the NW of the place he came to.

18 April 1788

Friday, 18th. Went up the northern branch of the Middle harbour to meet the party, which we did just below the flats. The Governor had traced the run of water some miles and found the country, in general, rocks and woods. The piece of water near the sea they found to be a stagnate pool into which the sea breaks over the shore in bad weather.

19 April 1788

Saturday, 19th. Some canoes landed on Garden Island, had some things given to them and went away immediately.

20 April 1788

Sunday, 20th. Some officers went to Botany Bay and a boat was sent without the heads of the harbour, from a report having been made to the Governor that distant guns had been heard. The officers and boat returned in the evening. Nothing at Botany Bay, or to be seen in the offing.

21 April 1788

Monday, 21st. Captain Hunter, with the officers who had before assisted him, went with two boats to survey the branches of the middle harbour.

Port Jackson, 1788

Plan of Port Jackson, 1788, draftet by John Hunter. From (The Voyage of Governor Phillip. The Heads are on the right edge of the plan.

[Page 102]

22 April 1788

Tuesday, 22nd. On a point where we landed, found the earth thrown up in the manner of a grave, which we turned up and found the ashes of some deceased person and, by the burnt wood laying near it, we suppose it to have been consumed on that spot. The ashes appeared to be heaped together on the surface of the ground and covered with earth. Some pieces of bones were found not quite consumed, but too much so to know what part of the body they belonged to. From a greater quantity of the ashes at one end than at the other, I suppose the body to have been laid at length before the fire is applied to the pile, and conclude that they dispose of the dead in the same manner. Saw very few of the natives.

23 April 1788

Wednesday, 23rd. Examined all the northernmost branch and moored the boats below the flats leading up to the large run of water. Passed several of the natives on, and fishing off, the Middle Cape.

24 April 1788

Thursday, 24th. As the tide flowed we went over the flats in the small boat and found many winding reaches with holes of two and three fathoms water in some of them. As we went up we saw one old man setting upon the rocks by his canoe. At about half flood we got nearly up to the fresh water in the boat. When we returned we found the old man with our people. They entertained him with dancing, combing his hair and beard and showed him how to smoke a pipe. Two or three whiffs perfectly satisfied that part of his curiosity and set him coughing.

[Page 103]

We gave him roasted oysters which he ate as fast as he could get them and, on giving him a bunch of them roasted, he opened them with his thumb as easy as we could with a knife. He got into the long boat and examined every part of her attentively. All the natives in this part of the harbour, except the old man, were very shy and would not come near us. We did not find any huts; they were in caves formed by shelving rocks. At the outer part they make a fire which serves both for roasting their fish and giving them heat during the night.

25 April 1788

Friday, 25th. A boat was sent to the upper part of the harbour to attend the Governor who, with a party of officers and marines, had been landed there on the 22nd to make an excursion to the westward. Some officers, who had been at Botany Bay, returned. In going there they crossed from the upper part of the SW arm to the NW branch of Botany Bay, which they found but a very short distance across a swamp.

They met several of the natives, all very friendly. One party which they met at the close of the evening showed them a hut, making signs for them to sleep there. They also brought them fire and water and came to visit them in the morning. This night five sheep were killed by some animal.

27 April 1788

Sunday, 27th. Officers visited Botany Bay; no ship there. They met the natives in great numbers along the shore of the upper part of the bay, where they slept near a large party of them.

[Page 104]

The natives were very friendly, gave the officers fish and remained the night near them and parted in the morning, very friendly. There were many women and children amongst them.

28 April 1788

Monday, 28th. The marines, who were with the Governor, returned. A small boat was detained up the harbour, to examine a lake which runs to the westward above the flats. The Governor had been several miles into the country, all of which was found to be a clear open country and good soil. They found a channel up the lake to a large run of water, where there was a kind of slate found in great quantities.

29 April 1788

Tuesday, 29th. The carpenter was employed fixing new skirting boards under the whales* and while the ship was on the heel for that purpose, the white composition bolts and nails which had been driven for experiment at Rio Janeiro were examined and found to be very much decayed, being eaten into by [indecipherable word] copper. Some of the iron bolts in the butts were also examined and found but little touched.

[The gunwale is the top edge of the hull of a ship or boat. Originally the structure was the "gun wale" on a sailing warship, a horizontal reinforcing band added at and above the level of a gun deck to offset the stresses created by firing artillery. Wikipedia]

30 April 1788

Wednesday, 30th. At one haul of the seine we caught fish enough to serve the ships company, hospital, battalion and great part of the convicts.

May 1788

2 May 1788

Friday, 2nd May, am. A convict was executed for robbing a tent and some other convicts who had been guilty of theft, were flogged at the tree while the other was hanging over their heads, to endeavor, if possible, to strike these abandoned wretches with terror.

[Page 105]

4 May 1788

Sunday, 4th. Some of the officers, sailing in one of the boats, met with several of the natives, who they mixed with and were very sociable. The natives gave them fish and they shaved the natives in return, which they appeared much pleased with. Several women, peeping behind the trees, came forward at times and were ordered back by the men.

5 May 1788

Monday, 5th. A party of seamen from the Sirius were employed hutting the women convicts. The Lady Penrhyn transport sailed for China.

6 May 1788

Tuesday, 6th. The Scarborough transport sailed for China and the Supply for Lord Howe Island.

Thursday, 8th. The Charlotte transport sailed for China.

9 May 1788

Friday, 9th. An officer went up the harbour with proper people to examine the slate up the creek above the flats. It was found to be a kind of rock and slate together and not fit to work into slate for covering a house or other use.

10 May 1788

Saturday, 10th. Many natives, men and women, about our fishing boat. A shark followed this boat on her coming up the harbour. He got hold of the blade of one of the oars and when shook from that he went to the rudder and did not quit it until he was struck with the tiller. The fish caught for several days past has been very trifling, which we suppose to be occasioned by the cold weather.

[Page 106]

11 May 1788

Sunday, 11th. Officers at Botany Bay [found] no ship there. They painted, on some conspicuous rocks near the entrance, that the settlement was made at Port Jackson. They met with a great number of the natives [who were] very friendly. During the night the natives kept a continual noise and appeared to keep a good look out.

Three emus were seen between Port Jackson and Botany Bay but not within shot. A boat down the harbour met with several of the natives who appeared to be very hungry. They had not any fish with them and ate the salt meat which our people gave them.

12 May 1788

Monday, 12th. A party went up the harbour to the lake or creek running to the NW above the flats. We went about 3 miles up, to a very fine run of water. The country on both sides [was] pleasant and the ground apparently fit for opening, with far less trouble than any in the other parts of the harbour, and the soil good. A little above the part where the fresh water meets the tide is the place supposed would produce slate, but had been found on examination not fit for working. We tried it as coal, without success. Found a great number of cranes and other birds about and above the flats, all very shy.

15 May 1788

Thursday, 15th. Some of the officers [went] shooting up the Middle Harbour. On their return [they] landed in a cove where they saw some natives, to whom they gave the birds they had.

[Page 107]

18 May 1788

Sunday, 18. A party visited some of the coves down the harbour, where some of the natives were seen. They were all friendly. They seemed to be very badly off for food, not having any fish. At another cove where we landed, an old woman with a child remained with the men who met us. They had two fires under a very large hollow rock. We did not find any fish with these people. They were, most of them, chewing a root much like fern. We passed close to two men on a rock, who were so intent upon fishing that they did not notice us, nor did they strike a fish the whole of the time that we were near them.

19 May 1788

Monday, 19th. Several natives were seen on a point of land just above the ship. About noon four canoes with men and women in them passed up the harbour.

22 May 1788

Thursday, 22. A black swan was killed which measured six feet three inches from wing to wing, all black except just the tip of the wings, which were white. Two of the convalescent convicts were sent out to get greens for the hospital. They were met by a party of the natives about a mile from the camp. The natives attacked them, first by throwing stones, which they were returning, when they used their spears. One of the convicts escaped with a barbed spear broke in him, entering at the small of the back, and was obliged to be cut out. He reported that the other convict was killed and that the natives had stripped him and taken the body away with them.

[Page 108]

23 May 1788

Friday, 23rd. Some canoes landed at Major Ross Garden up the harbour. They stole a jacket and several other things which were afterwards found in one of the canoes by some of the convicts who followed them along the shore to the next cove, where they landed, and we have reason to suppose that one of the natives was murdered by them, but the proof could not be got. They were dismissed without coming before a criminal court. Lieutenant Dawes was this day discharged from the Sirius to the Battalion.

24 May 1788

Saturday, 24th. Went to the South Head, observed the latitude 3350'43"S, and Captain Hunter 3351'07"S. Saw several women fishing in canoes without the head. They noticed us immediately and made a great noise. We threw them a handkerchief over the precipice which we saw them take up and throw by in one end of the canoe. Two canoes came alongside the Sirius with little persuasion, but the natives would not come on board. They had fish, bread, beef and pork given to them, all of which they ate with an eagerness that convinced us they must have been very hungry. They remained alongside our boat some time and were shaved, which seemed to please them much. They afterwards landed abreast of the ship and stayed there all day.

[Page 109]

A calf at the Governor's farm was found wounded by a spear.

25 May 1788

Sunday, 25th. A hat, shirt and piece of a jacket were found in the woods and known to have belonged to the convict who was reported by his wounded companion to have been stripped and killed. The hat and jacket had marks of spears having passed through them.

The Supply returned from Lord Howe Island. They were very unfortunate in not getting any turtle and losing one of her anchors there. The Scarborough, Charlotte and Lady Penrhyn transports were all at Lord Howe Island while the Supply was there. The Scarborough and Charlotte sailed from thence together and the Lady Penrhyn by herself.

27 May 1788

Tuesday, 27th. A kangaroo was killed which weighed 140 lbs., the largest yet met with. His length from head to tail 7ft. 3in.; of the tail 3ft 4in.; circumference of the tail at the rump 17 in.; fore legs 1 ft.; hind legs 2ft. 7in.

28 May 1788

Wednesday, 28th. Went to the North Head to observe the latitude but it blew too hard to make an accurate observation. We landed in Spring Cove and found it an easy walk to the North Head. The land about the North Head is sandy ground between the top of the rocks, covered with a variety of brush wood and shrubs, some of which have very pretty blossoms.

[Page 110]

On our return to Spring Cove, we observed a cave in which there was a man and a little girl. They were so intent upon the motions of our people on the beach, that they did not see us until we were close upon them. The man was not the least alarmed but the child was exceedingly terrified and clung round the old man, endeavouring to hide herself from us. The girl's fingers were complete. We gave the man several birds which were shot. He just plucked a few of the feathers, broiled and ate the birds, bones, guts and all, except a part of the head and the feet.

A kangaroo was killed, that was found to have a spear broken in him, a proof that the natives seek other food besides fish.

30 May 1788

Friday, 30th. Observed the latitude at the south Head 3350'42"S and Captain Hunter 3351'09"S. Saw several of the natives on the high land. They were gathering a kind of fruit which they soaked in water and sucked.

On our return to the cove where we landed we found a native in a tree gathering a fruit of the size of a small pine and of a beautiful pale yellow. He got it by fixing a four-pronged spear over the stalk and twisting them off. It had a sweet taste. We found two children, a boy and a girl, near the tree in which the man was. The children did not appear frightened when we took hold of them. The girl's fingers were complete, as were the boy's teeth.

[Page 111]

When the man had got a good quantity of this spongy fruit he, with the children, walked along the beach and sat down by the side of a pool of fresh water, to which place we followed him.

They ate, or rather sucked, the whole of what they had gathered, frequently dipping them in the water. They then returned to the place where we first met with them. They eagerly accepted of a gull which we gave them.

On our return to the Sirius, we found that some of the natives had been alongside and examined the outside of the ship with great attention, particularly the figure*. They appeared to be the same that visited the ship some days before, as they had been shaved. They landed at the observatory point, stopped a short time and went up the harbour.

[* Figure = Figurehead(?)]

Captain Campbell, going to the SW arm with boats to bring down rushes for thatching his house, on landing at the place where two convicts had been left with a tent for the purpose of cutting those rushes, found the tent but not the men. Finding some blood near the tent, he followed it to the mangrove bushes, where they found both men dead and lying at some distance from each other. One of them had three spears in him and one side of his head beat in. The other man had no apparent wound but a blow on the forehead.

31 May 1788

Saturday, 31st. The Governor, with a party, went to the place where the two men had been killed by the natives. The boat returned, leaving them in a natives path which they meant to follow until they met with the natives.

[Page 112]

The officer who was in the boat called at the Lieutenant Governor's farm as he returned and was there informed that a convict had killed one of the natives some days before, by cutting him across the belly with his knife.

I have no doubt that, this native having been murdered, occasioned their seeking revenge and proved fatal to those who were not concerned. They have attacked our people when they have met them unarmed, but that did not happen until they had been very ill treated by us in the lower part of the harbour and fired upon at Botany Bay by the French.

June 1788

1 June 1788

Sunday, 1st June. The Governor and party returned by land to Sydney Cove. He had followed the path to the NW arm of Botany Bay, met with a party of armed natives of two hundred and ten. The Governor and one of their principal people met unarmed. One of the natives advanced to show a wound which he had received in the shoulder, apparently with an axe. They were all friendly. The women showed every disposition to be very familiar. A quantity of dried fish was found among these people and bones which, from the size, were supposed to belong to the kangaroo. Orders were this day given, that no party under six armed men were to go into the woods, on account of the natives being so numerous.

4 June 1788

Wednesday, 4th. Being the first birthday of the King* to be celebrated in this new colony, the Sirius and Supply saluted the rising and setting sun and, at the usual hour, 1pm, with twenty-one guns each.

[* George III (4 June 1738-29 January 1820). Wikipedia]

[Page 113]

When the Sirius and Supply had finished at 1 o'clock, the transports, all except the Alexander, which ship wore the agent's pendant, saluted one after the other with five guns each.

At the Governor's house, after dinner, the county in which Port Jackson is situated was named Cumberland, boundaries of which is Broken Bay to the northward and Botany Bay to the southward as far in land as a range of mountains seen from Port Jackson to the westward.

The extent of the territory of New South Wales is from Cape York, or northern point of the Coast, to the South Cape of Van Diemen's Land and as far west as 135 degrees of east longitude from Greenwich.

11 June 1788

Wednesday, 11th. Went to the North Head to observe the latitude, had a very good observation 3349'23"S, Captain Hunter 3349'6"S.

On the pitch of the North Head we saw a man immediately under the overhanging cliff. On our calling to him, he answered and made signs where the road was to come down. The rocks under the cliff appear to be a large flat, with deep water close to the edge of it.

On our return we were joined by two men and two boys, of about fourteen years old. They laid down their spears and made signs for us not to fire our muskets. They had a quantity of shell fish in a net which had been taken out of the shell. These they offered to us, eating one themselves at the same time. We tasted and returned them. They walked to the cove with us and then went along on the rocks up the north arm.

[Page 114]

Several parties were sent in quest of the bull and cow which belonged to the settlement, they having been missing some days. One of the convicts having absented himself about the same time, it was supposed he had driven them away. These parties were continued for several days without success, in all directions.

14 June 1788

Saturday, 14th. The Governor made known his intention of sending the Prince of Wales transport to England. This ship had been fitting for sea several days and was said to be going to Norfolk Island until the question was asked by Captain Tench.

A convict was poisoned by eating some fruit which he got in the woods.

20 June 1788

Friday, 20th. Seven canoes passed through the cove within the Sirius; 20 men, 12 women and 1 child. The child was carried upon one of the men's shoulders as he passed. In a cove down the harbour an old man was found nearly dead, with some young men and women with him. He was lying on his back [and] appeared worn out with age. They had a fire on each side of him to keep him warm.

21 June 1788

Saturday, 21st. A kind of fruit had been discovered here, a pure acid, and [was] found very good in scorbutic cases. As we had several people down with the scurvy, a party was employed to get those berries.

[Page 115]

22 June 1788

Sunday, 22nd. A shock was felt about 4 in the afternoon, which much astonished all who noticed it. The weather [was] calm and very clear and of moderate heat, thermometer at 58, the water perfectly smooth. This shock was distinctly felt on board the ships in the cove and by several people on shore, who supposed it to be the shock of an earthquake. It was not noticed on board the Sirius, which ship lay just off the cove, in the stream.

23 June 1788

Monday, 23rd. The convict who had been supposed to have driven the cows away was brought in and tried the next day for a robbery he had committed before he absented himself, and was sentenced to death, as was another convict for robbing one of the officer's tents.

25 June 1788

Wednesday, 25th. Several canoes came down the harbour and passed within the ship. Some of the men came alongside. We gave them some fish and several other things. They were much pleased and gave us some oysters in return. These people seemed to suffer much from the cold.

About half an hour before noon, those two men under sentence of death were executed.

27 June 1788

Friday, 27th. A flying fox was killed that measured three feet from wing to wing. This was the first met with.

July 1788

1 July 1788

Tuesday July 1st. It having blown a gale of wind dead upon the shore for 48 Hours, we went down the harbour to get on the high land of one of the heads to look round that part of the harbour which is exposed to the sea, for any broken water or foul ground that may show itself in so great a sea.

[Page 116]

We found the swell too great to attempt landing near the Middle Head as we intended. We went to a cove near the land of the South Head and walked over to the sea face near the South Head, where we had a good view of the sea and of all that part of the harbour open to it. Could not see the least appearance of any foul ground except the rock marked in the chart and which was seen when the boats first visited this harbour, and that shoal did not appear of greater extent than we had before determined it. If the flat round this rock was not a perfect smooth bottom, I am confident that with the sea that was running it would break.

7 July 1788

Monday, 7th. A considerable party of the natives were met with about 2 miles from the Camp.

Tuesday, 8th. Went down to one of the lower coves and walked over to the sand hills which are given as a mark for a ship coming from the southward to know when they are near to Port Jackson. We found a good path over the neck of land, and [it is] not half an hour's walk.

10 July 1788

Thursday, 10th. The Governor's fishing boat met a great number of the natives in the lower part of the harbour, as they were hauling the seine. The people gave fish to all the natives, but they were not satisfied with that. They closed upon the people employed in the boat and took what they pleased, their musket happening to be left in the boat.

[Page 117]

11 July 1788

Friday, 11th. One of the people killed a male and female kangaroo and took a young one alive, which was sent on board the Alexander transport to go to England.

14 July 1788

Monday, 14. The Alexander, Prince of Wales, Borrowdale and Friendship transports sailed for England under the direction and command of Lieutenant Shortland, agent for transports. These ships were all in a distressed state when they sailed, both as to sickness, want of provisions and furniture. We made a party to the South Head to see them off the land.

They had a fresh gale from the SW and were soon out of sight, steering to the northward. On our return we went into Camp Cove where we found a man and two children who appeared to be starving. We gave them salt beef which [they] eagerly took and ate immediately. Whilst the boats remained in the cove, the man went into the woods and brought in a root which he roasted [and] beat it with a stone which he frequently wet with his mouth. When it was properly prepared he gave it to the children to eat.

The man had many sores about him and was really a miserable object. The boy and girl appeared to be about 5 or 6 years of age. The boy's teeth were complete as were the girl's fingers. We saw several women fishing near the cove, but they would not land. We had two seines with us, both of which were hauled several times without one fish being taken. Some birds were shot, all of which were given to the old man and his children.

[Page 118]

17 July 1788

Thursday, 17. Boards of direction were sent to Botany Bay to be fixed on Bare Island, which is near the entrance, so that any ship that may arrive there would be informed that we were at Port Jackson. This party met with but few of the natives. One of our boats down the harbour had several stones thrown at her on landing. A musket fired at them set them off. The Supply sailed for Norfolk Island with provisions and stores.

18 July 1788

Friday, 18. Several of the women convicts met with a party of the natives in a cove where they were employed. The natives did not appear to notice the difference of dress but soon found which sex they were of.

27 July 1788

Sunday, 27th. Convicts gathering greens for the use of the sick were attacked by the natives. One of them got clear and ran into camp leaving his companion to do the best he could for himself. He was soon found by a marine who happened to be near, but not before he was wounded by a spear which passed through one side of his face to his neck.

28 July 1788

Monday, 28. A sailor straggling into the woods met several of the natives who threw stones at him and followed him when he attempted to run away. He, with great presence of mind, stopped and presented a stick at them in manner of a musket, at which they stopped, and by that means he got away clear of them.

August 1788

[Page 119]

7 August 1788

August 7. The Lieutenant-Governor's house, which was a building of stone and several feet above the ground, gave way with the heavy rains and fell to the ground.

10 August 1788

Sunday, 10th. Two kangaroo were killed at one shot. They were in the act of propagating the species which, from the construction of their generative parts, they perform with their rumps to each other.*

[In the journal, the paragraph above was struck through, with a single slanting line.]

15 August 1788

Friday, 15th. Fourteen canoes passed, going down the harbour. Twelve of them had a man in each, the other two empty and towed by them.

16 August 1788

Saturday, 16th. Several canoes went up the harbour.

17 August 1788

Sunday, 17th. The Governor and Captain Hunter went down the harbour with two boats and the first lieutenant and master up the harbour with two boats, to examine all the coves and collect as near as possible the number of canoes and natives then about the harbour. These were met with 67 canoes, 94 men, 34 women and 9 children.

All those that we met with in the upper part of the harbour were very friendly and one party of them which we met with took the shellfish off their fire and brought us to eat. Those met with in the northern arm of the harbour were not so friendly, for while speaking with the boat in which Captain Hunter was, a spear was thrown which passed about six feet right over the midships of the boat. They immediately ran away and were followed by the charge in one of the muskets which, luckily for them, happened to be only loaded with small shot.

[Page 120]

Some time after this, when the two boats had joined and were passing the same place, several women came down and used every endeavor to entice the boats to land. As we were coming down the harbour the master shot a fish of 1 lb weight, in a branch of a high tree, which we got and ate. This fish was in the claws of a large hawk which, when fired at, dropped the fish and flew away.


'A View in upper part of Port Jackson, when the fish was shot.'

18 August 1788

Monday, 18. A canoe with three men in her followed our fishing boat up the harbour and came alongside the ship, but could not be persuaded to come on board.

19 August 1788

Tuesday, 19. The Governor, with a party, landed at the bay nearest the sand hills, to walk along the shore to Botany Bay.

20 August 1788

Wednesday, 20th. They returned, met many natives and, on a part of the coast near Botany Bay, was the remains of a whale which had been thrown ashore, apparently a considerable time since. On this, the natives were then feasting.

21 August 1788

Thursday, 21st. Several natives passed through Sydney Cove and landed with two canoes on the west point. Whilst these people engaged the attention of the officer on one side, the rest went round and, seeing a goat on the other side, killed it with a spear and made off with it in a canoe towed by one of the others. They were pursued, but not until it was too late, either to recover the goat or discover the thief.

22 August 1788

Friday. 22. The Governor landed in the northern arm to go to the northward.

[Page 121]

Met a great number of natives there with fifty canoes.

24 August 1788

Sunday, 24. Two boats were sent down to attend the Governor in case of his return. They found a great number of the natives in the cove, where they lay with the boats. They observed several small parties join those who were first seen. The women came to the waterside and used every means to entice our boats to land. When the boats had been there about an hour, the men formed into two parties and fought some time with spears and using oval shields. Some fought with clubs and sticks. When they began, the women and children screamed and ran about seemingly much frightened and some of them came close down upon the beach off which the boats lay. Some spears were thrown at our boats and fell so near them as to be picked up.

One of the officers was of opinion that this was a sham fight, from their holding frequent parlies and only one seen to fall. At sunset when the boats left the cove, they set up a loud and apparently contemptuous shout and came close to the water side, except a party of very tall stout men, who remained among the long grass and had the appearance of being chosen either as a guard for the women or a reserved party. In this branch of the harbour we have experienced that they have hostile intentions when they suppose our people in their power. There were about two hundred of them collected together during the time the boats stayed in the cove, and all armed with spears and clubs.

[Page 122]

This day a convict was examined who said he had discovered a mine, which had some gold in it, but for some time would not tell where it was, unless he was promised pardon and a sum of money. Finding that he could not obtain it, he said he would show any officer the Lieutenant-Governor might send with him, where it lay.

25 August 1788

Monday, 25th. Captain Campbell went with the convict to the spot where he expected to find the mine. The man led him away to the land about the South Head and found means to escape through the bushes. He returned to the camp by noon telling the Lieutenant Governor that Captain Campbell was at the mine and wished a guard to be sent to him. It was 4 o'clock before Captain Campbell got into camp, at which time the convict could not be found.

In the evening the Governor returned, soon after which this convict, the gold finder, surrendered himself, saying it was his intention to divert the time until the return of the Governor and that to him he would declare everything. In the mean time he was punished with fifty lashes for his conduct respecting Captain Campbell and then sent with another officer, who had orders given him in the man's presence to put him to death if he offered to escape or play any more tricks.

Soon after the boat left Sydney Cove he declared to the officer that the ore produced was the work of his own hands from brass, copper and a guinea mixed with it in a composition which he had prepared for that purpose and that he had hopes of selling a considerable quantity of it to the transports when they might be just on sailing, and that he had not made any discovery, but was persuaded by the woman who lived with him to do it.

[Page 123]


'View in Port Jackson from the South Head leading up to Sydney; Supply sailing in.'

26 August 1788

Tuesday, 26th. The Supply arrived from Norfolk Island. Whilst she was at that island (August 6) a boat which had been ordered to lay just within the point of the reef in case of an accident happening to the Supply's boat then coming in, was carried out by the strength of the outset so far as to oblige them to pull across the swell to regain the landing place, in effecting which the surf rose suddenly on her, the consequence of which was [that] the boat [was] lost.

Mr. James Cunningham, mate of the Sirius, one seaman belonging to the Sirius, one to the Supply and one convict were drowned. The other man who was in the boat, a convict, saved himself by swimming through one of the channels through the reef.

The accounts of the produce of the island are very favourable and flattering to the settlement. The pines are said to be fit for all purposes and of sufficient size to mast a first rate(?) with the stick. There are several other kinds of wood besides the pine, with which the island abounds.

[Page 124]

Mr. King, the Commandant, is so sanguine as to expect that in the course of three years the island would support itself. Landing is very difficult and frequently dangerous, sometimes altogether impracticable for days and weeks together. The boat in which Mr. Cunningham was lost was before overset on the same reef and one marine belonging to the Sirius drowned.

September 1788

1 September 1788

September 1. A convict at Major Ross's farm was wounded by a spear being thrown at him from behind a tree by a native, who ran away immediately.

It had been determined that the Sirius should visit some of the islands near the settlement. Every preparation was made for the voyage, but early in this month her destination was altered, it appearing that a considerable quantity of the vegetable part of the provisions in the settlement was damaged and that the produce of grain was likely to be very small, great part of the seed not producing anything.

In consequence of this, it was thought necessary that the Sirius should land some of her guns, heavy stores and provisions, reserving a sufficient proportion for a passage to the Cape of Good Hope at which place it was intended she should take in as much as could be stowed of such articles as were most wanted in the settlement, where they would be distressed for some articles if a supply did not arrive in the course of the ensuing season.

[Page 125]

The latter end of September, 1 midshipman, 2 seamen, 1 corporal and 5 private marines belonging to the Sirius, 20 men and 12 women convicts were put on board the Golden Grove transport to proceed under the direction of the master of the Supply to Norfolk Island, to be left there, in addition to those people already on that island, with Mr. King taking twelve months provisions of all species, for the whole number of people.

October 1788

1 October 1788

October 1st. The Sirius and Golden Grove dropped down the harbour, and in the night the Golden Grove sailed for Norfolk Island.

Having passed part of a summer and one winter in New South Wales, I shall give a collected account of the natives etc. before we quit Port Jackson, from occurrences which have, in the course of that time, come within my certain knowledge. In the course of the last month, the natives appear to be very numerous and the fish to come in great quantities into the harbour, from which circumstance I still support the opinion of their not having any fixed residence and that the fish, as well as considerable part of the natives, incline to the northward during the winter.

[Page 126]

What has been experienced lately in several instances of meeting with the natives, has occasioned me to alter those very favourable opinions I had formed of them, and however much I wished to encourage the idea of their being friendly disposed, I must acknowledge, now convinced, that they are only so when they suppose we have them in our power or are well prepared by being armed.

Latterly they have attacked almost every person who has met with them that has not had a musket and have sometimes endeavoured to surprise some who had. We have also experienced that they have great cunning, which was twice particularly shown in stealing a goat each time. This they effected by a part of them engaging the attention of those who they supposed might interrupt them, whilst others speared the animal and put it into a canoe and paddled away directly and by the time the animal could be missed they had been gone too long to follow them with any chance of success.

The musket now seems to be the only thing to keep them in awe, which when they notice we have, and they are disposed to come among us, they are familiar and friendly. That some of them have been killed by musket balls, both at Port Jackson by our people and at Botany Bay by the French I have not the least doubt.

The instruments and weapons that I have seen are spears, some with four prongs three, two and single, for fishing, the points of all which are barbed with shell or bone secured to its respective prong with stiff gum.

[Page 127]

The single one is generally barbed at the point and at several parts above it in the same manner. They are seldom without a spear, which they use as an offensive weapon.

The sharp pointed end is made of very hard wood, two or three feet in length and tapered to a point. I never saw any of those barbed. This is secured, as are the prongs of the fishing spear, to a long and light stick which they find about the low gum trees and which they make to the length they want by lashings and gum at the different parts where they join it, generally from eighteen to twelve feet in length. I have seen them add a joint to the fishing spear by letting one part into the other and use it immediately.

I think the spear may be easily avoided if you see the man who is going to throw it. In two or three instances when they have attacked our people, their spears were taken up and broken as fast as thrown. Those convicts who were killed were either surprised, or held a contest with them until surrounded. They no doubt endeavour to be assured that those whom they mean to treat unfriendly are not provided with fire arms before they make an attempt and those boats at which they have thrown stones and spears appeared to them unprepared, but twice they experienced that the people in the boats were perfectly ready although the muskets where not shown until it was necessary to fire on them.

For short distances, and commonly in striking fish, they throw the spear by hand, but other times they use a stick about three feet long, with a peg at one end, which is applied to the end of the spear. Then balanced, they just steady the spear with a finger and thumb and apply the force of the arm to the stick on which they spear is poised.

[Page 128]

They throw it from sixty to ninety yards. I have seen them throw it very true at sixty yards. On the other end of the throwing stick is fixed a shell which they use in getting shellfish from the rocks and various other purposes as we would a knife or chisel.

They use targets made from the bark of the gum tree and have some [targets] of the outside part of the tree itself, when the tree has been burned inside, which is here a very common practice for getting the opossum etc. out of them, or some purpose we are yet unacquainted with. I have seen their shields or targets with the points of spears broken in them and some holes which had the appearance of the spear or pointed part of it having passed through.

It was noticed by the officers who were in our boats in the northern arm of the harbour and present at a real or sham fight among the natives, that they use the target for security against the spear. The other instruments of war which I have seen are the club, wooden sword and scimitar.

The club is three or four feet long, of very hard and heavy wood of different shapes. Some are pointed so that they may be used to make a charge with, as well as to give a very violent blow.

The sword is somewhat of the shape of the common hanger, with the handle, or hilt, carved so as to give them a good hold of it.

[Page 129]

It is made of very hard wood, smooth and sharp at both edges, coming to a tolerable sharp point. They are from 2 to 3 feet long and as many inches, or more, broad.

The scimitar is of the same hard wood, of a curve, with two handles to it and appears to be used to repel the blow of the club or sword and, from its construction, will as well as fend off a blow, occasionally give a very heavy one.

The implements or tools which we found among them are very miserable tools indeed, and they do not appear to have one which is not absolutely necessary for furnishing the means of subsistence to themselves, which appears to be their only care.

The stone hatchet is made of a hard stone, much like flint, sharpened at the edge, secured to a stick about 2 feet long by fixing it with gum and lashing, and is a miserable blunt tool.

The adze is made of the same stone and secured to a stick in a similar manner as the hatchet, but of shape somewhat like our carpenter's adze, but one hundred strokes with it would not do the same execution as one with ours.

They use a wedge of the same kind of stone, with a junk of wood for a mallet or maul. These tools appear all to be used in providing the canoe and shields from the trees which, with such wretched implements, is a work of great labour. They cut the bark round to the length they want and enter the wedges, leaving it in that state some time, before they take it off altogether.

[Page 130]

Many of them have been met with and several times seen at work on the canoe and shield. Some have been considerably above the reach of any man. They notch the trees to enable them to get up for this and other purposes.

The canoes we met with are by far the worst I ever heard of, being nothing more than a piece of bark gathered up and lashed at both ends, with spreaders of small sticks inside by way of thwarts. I have seen them from 10 to upwards of 20 feet in length and observe that, when employed fishing, have seldom more than two people in them. When moving their station I have seen 4, and once 6, in a canoe. We never met with any that had outriggers or any kind of sail. We have met with them without the harbour between Port Jackson and Broken Bay when there has been a great swell on the shore.

They row with paddles in shape like a pudding stirrer about two or three feet long, which they use, one in each hand, and take the stroke alternately. As one hand comes aft, the other is applied forward. I have noticed them, when in a great hurry, apply both at the same time, which occasions them to stoop forward. At other times they sit perfectly upright and are very expert in preserving the equilibrium so necessary to prevent over-setting.

[Page 131]

The men sit upon their heels with their legs under them and their feet stuck out behind them. The women sit with their knees up to their chin and their feet crossed before them. They all sit in the bottom of the canoe with their face forward and they have generally fern and some sea weed under them and under the fire, which they are scarce ever without, in the middle of the canoe.

When men and women are in the same canoe I have always observed that the woman sat forward and the man abaft. The women sitting forward have their backs to the fire which occasions many of them to be marked, which appeared to us at first like that of their having been severely scourged.

Having fire in the canoe I take to be for the purpose of getting fire when they land and for warmth, more than that of dressing food in the canoe. I have seen them broil fish in the canoe once or twice when alongside the Sirius, but in general they put all that was given to them among what they had before got themselves. We never yet got an opportunity of seeing the method they use to produce fire and from their always carrying it about with them suppose it to be a difficult process or a work of labour and time.

The young children in the canoes are sometimes laid across the mother's lap, setting between her knees and sometimes on the men's shoulders, holding fast by his head, neither of which prevents either man or woman from using both paddles.

[Page 132]

From the wretched construction of these canoes, they take in a great deal of water, which they throw out with a flat stone or slate. Taking it in the hollow of the hand, they throw the water out behind them without getting up in the canoe. This, for the time, prevents the person who is baling from using both paddles.

This method of freeing the canoe is very hurtful to them. As they apply the edge of the stone, every time, to touch the bottom of the canoe, that part wears away and, when into a hole, they patch up with gum and sometimes use the leaves of the cabbage trees with it, but from these holes enlarging they are frequently obliged to lay the canoe by before the other parts are decayed.

They get in and out with great ease, though it is not without great difficulty and attention that any one of us can, without over-setting. When they land at the rocks, they lay the canoe alongside of them, keeping fast by a piece of line. When at a beach, or mud flat, they haul the canoe ashore after them or heave a stone overboard with a fishing line fast to it, as soon as they take the ground, to prevent their driving off. They frequently haul their canoes up upon the rocks at those places, where the shelving rocks afford themselves shelter.

In the summer the sea seems to furnish the natives good subsistence, fish being then in great plenty in and about the harbours, among which are the jew fish, snapper, mullet, mackerel, whiting, dory, rock cod, leather jackets and various others, some of a species which had never been seen by any of us. There are great numbers of the sting ray and shark, both of which I have seen the natives throw away when given to them and often refuse them when offered.

[Page 133]

We met with several fish that seemed to partake of the shark, the upper part being that of the skate or other flat fish, with the back fins and tail of the shark. This kind of mixed breed is also found among the beasts and birds. The quadrupeds, the dog excepted, partake of the kangaroo and opossum, many having the false belly and hind legs and feet similar to those of the kangaroo. The birds frequently partake of the parrot.

The natives strike fish with their barbed spears, from the rocks, and sometimes from the canoe in which they stand up. In general, we observe the canoe occupied by the women, who fish with hook and line, which I never noticed any of the men to use, or that the women use the spear. The line appears to be made from the inside bark of the cabbage tree. It is made of two strands, well twisted and strong. Their hooks seem to be made both from the claws of birds and the inside of a shell resembling the pearl oyster shell. From the latter I have seen a hook made. They rub it down on the rocks until fit for their purpose and then shape the hook in a curve with a sharp shell or stone.

We found vast quantities of oysters and other shell fish in the harbour and oysters of an amazing size in the uppermost coves. At Broken Bay we saw several very fine cray fish and one tolerable size crab, but did not ever meet with either at Port Jackson.

[Page 134]

For a considerable time after our arrival it was supposed that the food of the natives was entirely fish, but the winter convinced us that if they had not some other resource, great numbers of them must perish. As it is, they are very hard put to it when the fish is scarce. We have been several days together, without getting half a bucket of fish with the seine, and having met some of the natives in a most deplorable situation for want of food in the winter months. At those times they will eat anything and have been seen to take up the carcase of a sheep that had been thrown overboard as eagerly as if the animal had been just killed. I have several times met with small parties of them seeking roots and spongy substances which grow on some of the trees and yield a small seed and sweet juice which the birds feed on. The fern and some other roots they prepare by moistening and beating between two stones, a considerable time before they use it.

There is no doubt but they lay wait for the kangaroo and birds. Many of the trees are notched, that has not had a canoe taken from them, from which I suppose they get into these trees to seek or wait for anything that may come in their way. About the open ground where the kangaroos frequent, we have met with a kind of hunting wigwam, consisting of two sides made of bark over some small sticks, just meeting each other and open at both ends. In the sides they have a hole or two to look out. The dogs hunt the kangaroo, we have proof of, by one being shot close at the heels of a kangaroo.

[Page 135]

In an excursion made to Botany Bay, near the sea coast, many of the natives were found feasting on the remains of a whale that had been thrown on shore by the sea. They have no idea of dressing fish any other than by laying it on the fire. One of them, very eager to steal a fish which he saw in a pot at our fire in one of the coves, put his hand in to snatch it out but the water being just boiling, he let the fish go and appeared to be much surprised.

We found a kind of wild fig and notice that the natives use it. They also use a nut which grows in clusters to the size and shape of the top of the pine. One of the convicts was poisoned by eating them. In what manner the natives prepare them I do not know, but I tasted some at Broken Bay and thought them good.

We never met with the smallest appearance of any kind of cultivated ground. We found wild spinach, samphire and parsley and small quantity of sorrel and wild celery, all of which, with the leaves of several kinds of bushes, were used by us for want of better vegetables, which were not yet supplied from the garden, as will appear from our whole stock of vegetables on board the Sirius for her intended voyage was a dozen heartless cabbages and as many young broccoli plants, and those the produce of the Governor's Garden.

[Page 136]

Soon after our arrival a berry in appearance like an unripe currant was found in many parts of the harbour. A very strong, pure acid and of infinite use in removing the scurvy from those on board who had been attacked by that disease. We also found a plant which grew about the rocks and amongst the underwood entwined, the leaves of which, boiled, made a pleasant drink and was used as tea by our ship's company. It has much the taste of liquorice and serves both for tea and sugar and is recommended as a very wholesome drink and a good thing to take to sea.

The quadrupeds we met with here, were the dog, of the common size much resembling the jackal. The kangaroo, which is an animal we have reason to suppose is not known in any other country, are of a dun and reddish fox colour. The fur on the young ones is tolerable good. The body of this animal seems to be of a peculiar structure, narrow shoulders, the fore legs small and short, having 5 toes on each foot or paw, regularly placed, the middle the longest. This animal is very large and strong about the loins, the hind legs long and of great strength. They seldom use the fore feet in moving, but bound along with great swiftness upon the hind legs, in doing which the tail, which is large and powerful, affords them much assistance. They have but 3 toes on the hind feet, one large long one with a very strong nail on it, this is between the 2 others, which are smaller than those of the fore feet and 1 of those has a double nail, which I never heard of being met with in any other animal, and in this is general in the vast number shot. There never was one exception.

[Page 137]

[They also differ from other animals in having the testes situated before the penis, which comes out through the external orifice of the anus. The female has but one external orifice within which is seated the parts necessary for propagation. It is not ascertained whether they bring forth the young in the false belly, or whether in the same manner as other animals, and afterwards put it into the false belly to nourish it.]

[* In the journal, the text in brackets was struck through with a single wavy line.]

The teats are situated in the false belly and the young one has been found fixed on the teat when just formed and not half the length of a man's finger. The young ones of considerable size have been found and killed in the false Belly.

The kangaroo have been killed from the smallest size to that of 160 pounds weight, the dimensions of which were from the head to the tail 7 feet 3 inches; of the tail 3 feet 4 inches; fore legs 1 foot 3 inches; hinder legs 2 feet 9 inches; the tail at the root 18 inches in circumference. The head is much the shape of the horse's head, small and rather longer, ears which turn right round and hear the least noise. Windy weather is reckoned best for shooting them, the woods being then in motion and making a noise, [which] prevents them hearing the approach of any person. We think the meat very good, having been so long without other fresh provision, but in any other situation I cannot think it would be esteemed as such.

[Page 138]

We found great numbers of the opossum, squirrels, rats of various kinds, many of which partake of the kangaroo, the hind legs and tail being similar, and the females of the opossum having the false belly. The flying fox, or large bat, is common here as are flying squirrels. The birds we met with here are gulls of many kinds, black swans, eagles, hawks, crows, cranes, curlew, heron, bustards, quails, cockatoos, parrot, and parakeets of beautiful plumage. We found but few pigeons and met with a great variety of small birds, extremely beautiful, and some of the birds most unaccountably partaking of the parrot in some degree.

The ostrich and emu have been seen and one emu killed, which was allowed to be very fine eating and the best bird in the country on account of its size.

Many kinds of snakes were met with and lizards, iguanas, terrapins and centipedes of an incredible length. One which was justly called a millipede measured two feet six inches in length and was taken on Garden Island. The ants and mosquitos we found very troublesome. Of the former we saw a great variety. The sting of the large white ant is very painful.

The natives that we met with during our stay at Port Jackson and visiting Broken and Botany Bays, were in general of the middle stature, very active, but do not appear to be that strong, robust people which savages are usually found to be. There is a great sameness in their features, noses rather flat, voice of the men harsh.

[Page 139]

The women have remarkable soft voices and the younger women much expression in their countenances. They are very dark and keep their skins so dirty that it is hard to tell the true colour of them. Their hair is clotted with dirt and full of vermin, and as they never wash themselves unless by chance or accident, the beauty which many of them, from regularity of features and pleasing countenances, would be allowed to have, is destroyed.

The men wear their beards long. Their hair, which is full of dirt and vermin, they wear loose, or rather, clotted with both, and sometimes ornamented with the teeth, claws etc. of animals stuck in their hair with gum. Several of them have been shaved by our people and one party, after having gone through this operation, came alongside the ship again in a few days making signs that they wished to have it repeated.

We never could prevail on any of them to come on board, although they would frequently run all over our boats. Of the whole number I ever saw or met with, there were only two who were not entirely naked and those seemed to be lame, the one an old woman, the other a young boy. Some of the women I have seen with a string tied loose about their necks. The men have many large scars about their bodies which they signified to us was done by a sharp shell, but on what account we could not discover.

[Page 140]

The men having lost one of their front teeth is, except in a few instances, a general custom, as is that of the women losing two joints of the little finger on the left hand.

All these customs we are yet at a loss to account for, but that they are not a badge of disgrace or infamy is evident from being so general and that they are fond of showing them to us when we notice it. One of them in a party I fell in with, up the harbour, took a deal of pains to show us the difference between the ornamental scars and those from the wounds of the spear. He had three of them in his body.

The inside part of the nose between the two nostrils, being bored, appears to be common, but not general in both sexes. They thrust a bone or stick through it at times, but are very seldom found wearing it there. Several have been met with very whimsically, painted with red ochre and pipe clay, both which we find plenty of. They are great thieves, which is common among savages.

In many places we found straggling huts, but I never saw more than 8 or 10 together. These are, if possible, more wretched than their canoes. They are made with small boughs, or rather sticks, covered in a miserable manner with bark and leaves of the cabbage tree. Their height will not admit of entering without stooping or crawling in. They appear to live chiefly in the caves and hollows of the rocks, which nature has supplied them with, the rocks about the shore being mostly shelving and overhanging, so as to afford a tolerable retreat to these miserable creatures.

[Page 141]

And frequently after passing a whole day in search of food without being able to procure as much as would make half a reasonable meal, they make a fire at the outer part of these dismal holes which throws a heat in, but so hard pressed are these poor devils in the winter, that from the hours we have seen them fishing with a light in the canoe, they are frequently without two hours rest to themselves.

Hunger is so pressing a call that they cannot quit their endeavours to satisfy it for any other enjoyment. In heavy rains I have seen the women hold a piece of bark over their heads so as to throw the rain clear of them, but I never notice the men make any difference, only that they are not so active in the rain and appear to be cramped.

To speak of the virtue of the ladies of this country, I believe no one in the colony can boast of having received favours. Whether they are bound by any tie, or their connections made by promiscuous intercourse is hard for us to determine, it has been generally observed that the men are very jealous of the women being among us when we happen to fall in where they are, and that the women are kept at a distance when we do not come unaware upon them, and a guard with several lances, always ready for their protection, has been usually found.

They are very impatient to revenge an affront, and very soon forget injuries, or any offence that has been given to them.

[Page 142]

There has been two hundred of them met with together about Botany Bay but, except that and the northern arm of Port Jackson, they are seldom seen more than twenty or thirty and, frequently, two and three together. That large body of them met with at Botany Bay had a quantity of dried fish with them, which was the only time that anything of the kind had been seen.

It has been suggested by a convict who absented himself and remained some days in the woods, that the natives were cannibals, and that he had seen a party of them eat the flesh of one who they had killed. The authority is not good, yet I think that the circumstance of their taking one of the convicts into the woods with them, after having killed and stripped him, favours the man's report; and that but a short time before he was executed for the robbery that induced him to absent himself, he affirmed the truth of his report. This expedient of flying to the woods for shelter has been tried by several of them and they have found that they have been obliged to return and be hanged or suffer the most shocking death; that of being starved.

We have every reason to suppose that they burn the dead, from the number of graves we have opened and seen. In those which were opened, we found the ashes, with many pieces of bone not quite consumed. The ashes appear to be thrown together and covered with earth until raised, much as those commonly met with.

[Page 143]

It was the appearance that led us first to open one which we met with newly made. They do not appear to observe any kind of religion.

The land on that part of the coast which we fell in with is moderately high and the sea face rocky, with many sandy beaches between the projecting points. Some parts appeared barren, others pleasant downes, particularly that about the white cliffs to the southward of Botany Bay, which we called Portsdown, from a remarkable clump of trees on it.

The land over the sandy bays is, in general, woody, as is a very considerable part of the higher lands. A great distance inland from the coast about Port Jackson are a chain of very high mountains, towards which many excursions have been planned but none yet executed.

Towards the upper part of Port Jackson the country opens and is covered with long grass growing under the trees. There are some spots of clear ground round Port Jackson but none of considerable extent until near the head of it, from which, along by the flats and creeks, it improves and near the fresh water at the top of the creek it is a fine open country and good soil.

[Page 144]

To this part, which is called Rose Hill and is about twelve miles above Sydney Cove, it is intended early in the present month to detach a captain and company of marines, with a proportion of convicts, for the purpose of clearing and cultivating that part of the country, which will no doubt be of great use to the Settlement.

The wood for building is not very good. The gum tree grows very large, but the grain is so short that it is neither strong nor durable. There is a kind of pine and a bastard kind of mahogany, all of which are used. The latter makes tolerable good furniture.

The stock brought to Port Jackson has turned to little account, the sheep nearly all dead, the bull and cows missing, either killed by the natives or run wild in the woods. Hogs, which appear to thrive the best, will be lost for want of food, before grain can be raised for their support. The cabbage tree affords good food while it lasts, but there is great difficulty in getting it. All kinds of poultry thrive very well and goats particularly well. The great want is grain to support the stock.

To speak of the seasons and weather, from our partial trial of both I have observed that the weather is generally unsettled at new and full moon, at which times, on our first arrival, we had tremendous thunder squalls. The wind frequently changes suddenly to the southward in a strong gust and generally blows hard afterwards. We have remarked also that lightning to the southward is an indication of such strong winds coming, but I have frequently known them to come on in a sudden gust, without a moment's warning or any apparent alteration in the heavens. In moderate fair weather, the land and sea breezes are regular and fresh.

[Page 145]

We found very great and sudden changes in the degree of heat. A shift of wind would rise or lower the thermometer 14 in less than ten minutes on board the Sirius and, on shore, considerably more. We observe a change in the face of the country as the winter approaches, although the trees are not stripped of their leaves, there being a constant succession, which we also found in the vegetable production of the woods. But during the winter, neither the grass or the trees have the fine green appearance as on our first arrival. We found a very great variety of shrubs which had beautiful bloom but scarce any smell in them.

The progress made in the new settlement, or what the colony may promise from its present state, I cannot pretend to judge of, further than that I think the quantity of ground cleared is very inconsiderable.

2 October 1788

2nd. Sailed for the Cape of Good Hope. We left the Supply at Port Jackson, with the Fishburne and Golden Grove transports, both of which it was supposed would be cleared and sail for England in November. We had a fresh gale southerly, which soon gave us a good offing.

3 October 1788

3rd. At noon, we were thirty-seven leagues to the eastward of Port Jackson, a strong gale southerly, which continued to the 6th. When in 3522'S, 15651'E it hauled round to the east and NE.

8 October 1788

8th. Blew a Strong gale at NE and at noon came to the northward.

[Page 146]

It was this day determined to pursue the route to the eastward round Cape Horn, as the most certain passage from what had been experienced by others in high southern latitude getting to the westward, and particularly as the ship had sprung a leak the day we sailed from Port Jackson and was thought the more unfit to beat against the westerly winds.

From the 8th to the 11th, wind and weather very changeable, then a strong western gale promised a good run to the eastward.

13 October 1788

13th. We passed the South Cape of New Zeeland at forty leagues distance.

16 October 1788

16th. In latitude 51S, 176E, we again met with SE and E winds, with fine settled weather. These winds continued to the 22nd, veering from SE to E and NE, by which we were enabled to make some small progress to the eastward, although in six days it was only as many degrees of longitude.

23 October 1788

23rd. A Fresh gale sprung up from the westward and continued to the 30th in 5338'S, 20345'E, weather mostly fair.

30 October 1788

30th. It fell calm. We had a great quantity of birds about the ship. In the evening a breeze sprung up which was very variable and the weather unsettled.

31 October 1788

31st. Saw several divers, small gulls and two sea otters.

November 1788

2 November 1788

November 2nd. In 5518'S, 214E saw several whales, small gulls and pintado birds*. This day the wind fixed to the northward and continued to the 6th, hazy and rain, with some intervals of fair weather.

[*The Cape Petrel.]

6 November 1788

At noon the 6th, in 5611'S.

[Page 147]


'Ice passed November 25, 1788. In 5730'S, 28800'E. in the "Sirius."

In 22730'E, the wind again came to the eastward with a clear serene sky. Several pintado birds and gulls were constantly about the ship. Three pintado birds were caught with hook and line, over the stern. As soon as they were taken they threw up a quantity of an oily substance. We frequently observed them to feed on some floating matter, which appeared to us to be what might come from the fish, and float about upon the surface.

9 December 1788

9th. The wind again favoured us and blew strong, with hail and snow.

18 December 1788

18th. We were under a necessity of putting a stop to the serving of essence of malt, having been supplied with so small a quantity, part of which was kept at Port Jackson, and the quantity remaining was now not sufficient for those who were attacked with the scurvy.

20 December 1788

20th. Several porpoises, striped black and white, were about the ship and a great quantity of gulls and many pintado birds.

22 December 1788

22nd. At noon, in 5717'S, 28010'E, saw an island of ice. In the course of the day passed several more. Many whales and a variety of gulls about the ship.

24 December 1788

24th. Had very hazy weather, with hail and snow. Passed between several islands of ice. Gulls and pintado birds and a sea otter about the ship.

25 December 1788

25th. Passed several very large and high islands of ice; had frequent squalls of hail and snow.

AM. Soon after daylight, several flocks of ducks and one of geese flew over the ship to the northward.

[Page 148]

At noon we were, by observations of the sun and moon, taken at 8 am exactly in the longitude of Cape Horn and, by the meridian observation, 10 leagues south of it. We hauled in NE by N.

26 December 1788

The 26th at 6pm. Made the land on the south coast of Terra del Fuego, or the islands off it, from N by W to WNW then in 5608'S. I take the western extreme of land to be that about Cape Horn. On making this land the dead reckoning was between 3 and 4 to the eastward. We took a fresh departure from the latitude and longitude observed.

The timekeeper was near a degree to the eastward of the observations and had been so the three last sets. It appeared to be full as much on making the land, but not having an opportunity of determining exactly which point of land was Cape Horn it was continued by the same rate allowed, on leaving Port Jackson.

We have some reason to suppose that the cold weather to the southward might affect the timekeeper as, during the winter months at Port Jackson, the rate of losing increased to 7" per day and before we sailed had regularly come back to 4".77, at which it was fixed. We have always kept the result of the lunar observations carried on, by the daily difference of longitude or, as often as the weather would permit, given by the timekeeper between the times of those observations. We observed the variation of the compass off Cape Horn 2500'E. As we approached Cape Horn we kept the parallel of 5630'S to see if the island called Diego Ramirez was, or was not, there to be found. There is not any island so situated. It was clear enough for us to see land seven or eight leagues, the whole day.

[Page 149]

We conclude that in the old charts it is misplaced and that it is Barnevells Isle which is near the shore in Captain Cooks chart. In the volume of Dr. Hawkesworth, which relates to that part of Captain Cooks first voyage, is a chart which calls an island Diego Ramirez, laying S, or S by W, from Cape Horn in 5630'S.

After passing Cape Horn the wind, which had been blowing strong for several days from the SW and NW, changed and became variable W, fine moderate weather.

December 1788

From this to the 1st of December had mostly northern and easterly winds, with very unsettled weather, frequently squally with very thick fog and rain, sometimes light breezes and suddenly blowing strong. Many ice islands, gannets, gulls and one ice bird about the ship. Passed a great quantity of sea weed.

9 December 1788

9th. The wind came to the westward and blew strong, with fair weather. To the 13th the weather very unsettled and a great number of ice islands in all directions.

[Page 150]


'Ice islands through which the Sirius sailed December 14 1788, off Cape Horn.'

13 December 1788

13th. We passed a very high one [ice island] which, by the ships run as a base and the angles measured, was found to be three miles in length. This day one of the seamen died of scurvy, which was now getting ahead very fast. The sick list increased to thirty and the whole ship's company appears to be tainted with that disease. It is not to be wondered at, when it is considered that they had been now more than a year without any supply of fresh provisions or vegetables.

14 December 1788

14th. The wind settled in the SW quarter, in 4949'S and the sun very near the southern tropic. Water froze at the scuttle butt on the quarterdeck.

15 December 1788

15th. In 4830'S had many squalls of hail and snow. Ice islands all around the compass, some of which had large patches of black on them, as if they had been accumulated along the shore and froze snow and earth together.

16 December 1788

16th. Among the ice islands we passed this day, many had black patches as before mentioned and one of them a large remarkable projecting part of a beautiful dark blue. Ice islands still surround us and some whales were seen.

17 December 1788

17th. It blew strong from the NW, several ice islands continually in sight and a great number of whales, gulls and pintado birds.

18 December 1788

18th. The wind frequently shifted in squalls from NSW to NW to NSE.

[Page 151]

The weather very unsettled. At noon, the wind fixed at WSW and blew a hard gale of wind, which continued to the 19th in the evening, when it became moderate and the wind, veering to the SW, cleared up the weather. This evening the variation of the compass was observed 0004'E. Position 4534'S, 34032'E. We passed a great quantity of seaweed and many ice islands.

21 December 1788

21st. One ice island only was seen which was the last we met with. When we passed it, our position was 4416'S, 34332'E.

This, the longest day in the southern hemisphere, was excessively cold. We first met with ice islands November 23rd, in 3717'S, 28010'E*, so that we were twenty-eight days floating with these lumps of misery in sight and run 836 leagues through between them, which was frequently rendered very dangerous from the thick fogs which we had much of, after passing Cape Horn.

[* In the journal, Bradley always refers to measurements of longitude as "degrees east." By convention, the prime meridian, which passes through the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, England, was allocated the position of 0 degrees longitude. The longitude of other places is measured as the angle east or west from the prime meridian, ranging from 0 degrees at the prime meridian to +180 degrees eastward and -180 degrees westward. In the next paragraph we see that, because Bradley referred to measurements as 0 to 360 degrees east, when he arrived at the Meridian of Greenwich he needed to "drop 360 degrees of longitude and begin East longitude again." Wikipedia.]

We have been twelve hours sometimes without being able to see one mile round the ship. No particular occurrence happened until the ever memorable 25th, on which day at noon we arrived at the Meridian of Greenwich, having, since last passing it sailed east round the South Pole. We therefore drop 360 of longitude and begin east longitude again, repeating Thursday, 25th December, to make our time correspond with that at Greenwich. In this voyage we have had two Christmas days and it being leap year, 367 days in the year. What few, if any, navigators can boast of.

[Page 152]

The wind continued in the NW and SW quarters.

29 December 1788

29th, 11pm. A large meteor with an apparent ball of fire of a conic shape was seen to the NW. It rose five degrees above the horizon and continued to a minute in sight, falling or setting 4 points to the northward of its bearing first noticed. The whole space in that quarter, of a deep reddish yellow, for two minutes before the glare disappeared.

As we drew near the Cape of Good Hope we found a very strong NW current and the wind hauled round, SSW, S to SE.

January 1789

1 January 1789

Thursday January 1st. Having had some very good observations of the [sun] and [moon], we stood in for the land until 12 at night, then off until 2am and at 4 saw the tableland S by E 13 leagues.

At Noon, ditto. S by E 8 leagues, wind variable.

By [sun] and [moon ] the preceding day brought on by timekeeper, SSE 7 leagues. The timekeeper, on making the land, appeared to be 1 degree too far to the eastward.

2 January 1789

Friday, 2nd, 4pm. Finding we could not weather Robben Island, we bore away and at 5 Anchored on the NE side of it in 9 fathoms. Flag at the fort W, northern end of the island NW. Southern end, SW by W off shore of a mile. An officer was sent on shore to the island but the commandant not speaking English, and would not allow the slaves who could to come up, very little information could be got.

[Page 153]

He ordered bread, many sorts of fruit and vegetables to be put into our boat for the use of the sick and very politely requested, if we had not an immediate opportunity of getting up to Table Bay, that we could accept, as a testimony of his good wishes, all that his garden could afford. The fruit and vegetables which he sent to out boat afforded a very seasonable relief to those poor wretches who were in the last stage of the scurvy and, with the knowledge that we were now within reach of the means of reliefs, saved several of their lives.

We had forty men not able to move and ten who kept watch that were deprived of the use of one arm or leg with the scurvy. The whole ship's company were weak and affected by the disorder in some degree. We lost three men, the passage of two of them just as we came in with the land.

At daylight next morning, weighed and made sail up to Table Bay, where we moored at 10 o'clock. We found a Dutch frigate and several merchant ships of different nations but not one English among the whole. An officer from the Dutch frigate came on board to pay respects for his captain to the English man of war. This compliment and the great hospitality we received from the commandant of Robben Island was very different to what we experienced on our passage out last year, which alteration we were at a loss to account for until the return of the officer who had been sent to wait on the Governor, when we heard of the changes in Europe and the new alliances that had been made.

[Page 154]

We had not the least account of any of our transports which sailed from Port Jackson for England near three months before we did.

4 January 1789

Sunday, 4th. The sick were landed, a house without the town toward the Lions Rump being hired for that purpose.

5 January 1789

Monday, 5th. A Dutch ship arrived from Rio de Janiero. They informed us that two of our transports, the Prince of Wales and Borrowdale were there when she sailed. The Prince of Wales had lost her bowsprit. The master and great part of the people were dead and the rest in such a state that when the harbour master went on board her, he was obliged to take his boat's crew to get her into an anchor. The Borrowdale did not arrive there for some time after the Prince of Wales, nor had she suffered so much.

7 January 1789

Wednesday, 7. In a strong SE gale our best bower cable parted. We brought up immediately with the sheet.

11 January 1789

Sunday, 11th. Having stanched [the flow of] all the salt water and got all the lumber and weight out of the ship, that was to be landed, heeled ship to examine the leaks. Found a large bolt hole, the bolt having been eaten entirely through. We found two other spike nail holes through the skirting boards. We plugged and secured them all and we found the ship did not make much water afterwards.

19 January 1789

Monday, 19th. A Dutch frigate arrived from Batavia, which had been thirty-seven days out. They informed us that the Alexander transport, Lieutenant Shortland, agent, was there.

[Page 155]

He, with the Alexander and Friendship, persevered in the passage to the northward, when the Prince of Wales and Borrowdale parted company off Port Stephens.

In the straights of Macassar they were in so distressed a situation from sickness as to be under the necessity of sinking the Friendship, that with both crews they might be able to navigate the Alexander and when she arrived at Batavia the Dutch frigate that gives us this account sent an officer and people on board her to furl the sails and secure the ship. They continued on board with some people from an English eastindiaman, to refit the rigging, and while their own miserable crew were landed for their recovery. When this ship left Batavia the Alexander was fitted ready for sea and waited only for the recovery of her people.

27 January 1789

Tuesday, 27th. Came in a Portuguese ship, that had been blown out of this bay and kept at sea five weeks in a wretched situation, having but few of the crew on board when she drove to sea and four hundred slaves, all sickly, and of which they did not bring in one hundred again.

February 1789

3 February 1789

Tuesday, 3rd February. A brig, much like a man of war, passed between Green Point and Robben Island, hauled in for the bay, then bore up and ran to sea to the northward of Robben Island.

6 February 1789

Friday, 6th. A large French ship passed through the bay in the same manner as the brig had done.

[Page 156]

11 February 1789

Wednesday, 11th. Had accounts from a Dutch ship from Rio de Janiero, that the Borrowdale and Prince of Wales transports were both ready for sea and at single anchor the middle of December.

18 February 1789

Wednesday, 18th. The Alexander arrived. We found, by Lieutenant Shortland, that the accounts given by the Dutch frigate correspond with his account of their distresses.

Lieutenant Shortland discovered a dry sand bank with a shoal of considerable extent and an island, on the coast of New South Wales. The sand bank he fixes in 2920'S, 15848'E, which he called Middleton's Shoal. The island he fixes in 2810'S, 15950'E, lies from the shoal, by their run, N35E, 97 miles. This he named Sir Charles Middleton's Island.

19 February 1789

Thursday, 19th. The Haspy, South Sea whaler, arrived. She left England in October. By her we hear that there had not any transport been taken up New South Wales, but that they only waited for the accounts of our arrival in that country.

20 February 1789

Friday, 20th. Having taken in as much of those articles as were most wanted at Port Jackson, as the ship could stow, at 10 am weighed and made sail. At noon were hauling out round the north end of Robben Island.

March 1789

From which [20th February] to the 10th of March, we had unfavourable winds. We also experienced very strong and strange currents, for until 5th they ran to the NW and when in 40S, 20E they took a turn and set with greater force to the E and SE.

[Page 157]

5 March 1789

The 5th. The weather was very unsettled and fog banks very like two islands. It came on to blow a gale of wind suddenly at S and continued between S and ESE to the 9th.

10 March 1789

The 10th. The weather cleared up with a fresh gale at SW in 4152'S, 2211'E and but little current by the timekeeper.

12 March 1789

The 12th. It fell calm, after which a fresh gale sprung up at NE and blew a hard gale of wind.

15 March 1789

On the 15th it shifted to NW in a heavy squall. The wind continued between NNE, SW and W to the 7th April, with few and short intervals of SW winds, which usually came after heavy rain with the NW winds. During this time we had very unsettled weather with some hard gales, violent squalls and a very high, confused sea.

22 March 1789

The 22nd of March it blew so hard and the sea so high and irregular that, although the wind was abaft the beam, the ship could not bear the reefed foresail. This obliged us to bring too under the balanced mizzen for some hours, until the sea became more regular.

April 1789

7 April 1789

7th. Had moderate breezes from the NNW and NNE with clear weather.

11 April 1789

The 11th. The weather became squally with fog and rain.

16 April 1789

16th. Fair weather for a few hours enabled us to get some good observations of [sun] and [moon] and a meridian altitude for the latitude, five minutes after which a thick fog came on again, and continued to the 19th with very unsettled weather, sometimes calm, then blew very strong a few hours and fell calm again.

[Page 158]

19 April 1789

The 19th. A hard gale of wind came on suddenly at SW and on the 20th came to the southward and blew with such violence that we could not carry either of the reefed courses this day. We were so unfortunate as to have three storm staysails give way at nearly the same time, that we had only the balanced mizzen left.

21 April 1789

The 21st. Knowing that we were settling down upon the land and being doubtful of clearing it as the wind came to SSE, we set the reefed foresail before night, in case of falling suddenly in the swilly. We passed this night in the most anxious situation but saw nothing.

22 April 1789

22nd. Soon after noon the double reefed mainsail was set, the wind being dead upon the shore, and blew with great violence with thick rain. At 3pm saw the land on the lee bow, the weather too thick to make out what part of the coast it was, and not being able to weather it, we wore, in hopes of clearing the land to the westward. The ship was already much pressed with sail, yet in our situation it was necessary to make more, to beat clear either to the westward or eastward, to effect which, one reef was let out of the mainsail, the balance taken off the mizzen and the close reefed fore and main topsails set over the single reefed courses, and all hands stationed ready, whatever might happen, as first to fall in with the land to the westward could not weather it and had just room to wear clear. It was very dark, violent squalls with heavy rain. The hand of providence now interfered.

[Page 159]

The ship lay two points higher, standing to the estward, than she did before on the same tack, which gave us some small degree of hopes that we should clear the land.

At 2am we again fell in with the land to the eastward, about a point before the lee beam. We had no alternative, being close under it, but to push on with our only chance. This proved a most fortunate circumstance, for had we seen it on the lee bow so near us we should have wore and then all hands must have perished. This land was no sooner abaft the beam than the ship broke off those two points which had enabled her to reach to windward of it at about two miles distant, but how near we passed to those rocks lying off it we are ignorant of, as breakers could not be distinguished from that of the sea, which was all a breach to the horizon.

This point of land appeared to be Tasmans Head, for we saw the land on to the northward as we passed it, from which it appears that that point which we could not weather standing to the westward, was the South Cape of Van Diemen's land.

We passed to windward of Maria's Islands and saw them twice. During the whole of the time, from our first seeing the land until clear of Maria's Islands, the ship was so pressed as to keep the pumps constantly going. The sea washed away the figurehead and a part of the cutwater. In the situation the ship was in all night, it was really pleasing to find the whole ship's company, with confidence in their officers and a just sense of their danger, particularly attentive and cheerfully alert.

[Page 160]

Soon after we had passed Maria's Islands, it fell little wind for some hours and then blew again with great violence. We found that the knees on which the security of the bowsprit in part depended, were started and worked considerably. We therefore got all the weight from the bowsprit and some additional securities to it.

27 April 1789

To the 25th we had very unsettled weather, this and the 26th. Moderate light breezes which continued to 7pm of the 27th, when it suddenly came on a gale of wind with thunder, lightening and heavy rain. At noon, moderate weather.

28 April 1789

28th. To 6pm light breezes with rain wind variable. At 7 blew strong and came on as suddenly as the last evening. The wind in the night shifted frequently W to N, and a great confused sea.

29 April 1789

29th. The gale continued with frequent and heavy squalls at W and NW. Much lightening in the night.

30 April 1789

30th am. The weather became moderate and fair, wind northerly.

May 1789

1 May 1789

May 1st: At 5pm it again came on to blow very hard at N and shifted to SW at 2 am, in a violent squall and severe lightening. At noon, moderate.

2 May 1789

2nd. Fresh gales from SW to WNW with frequent hard squalls.

3 May 1789

3rd. Towards the evening, fell. Little wind and calm at times.

4 May 1789

4th. Calm until 5pm then suddenly come on a fresh gale at ENE. Much lightening during the night.

5 May 1789

5th. Steady fresh gale from ENE to SE with fair weather.

[Page 161]

6 May 1789

6th. Coming on to blow very strong from the southwward. We, at noon, fell in with the land to leeward of Port Jackson. The North Head bore S50W, distant 10 leagues. Found the timekeeper [? 1 ] degree to the westward.

7 May 1789

7th. Wind continued to the southward. The ship fell to leeward.

8 May 1789

8th. At 4pm fell calm. At 10, a breeze from the land enabled us to stand along shore to the southward until 6am when the wind again came to the southward. At noon, after tacking twice, we were reaching in for the North Head of Port Jackson

9 May 1789

9th. Falling to leeward of the North Head we made a trip with success and at 3 passed between the Heads. At 6, anchored in Sydney Cove where we found the Supply.

We found that a native man had been taken by force by Lieutenant Ball, commander of the Supply, for the Governor, it not being possible to persuade any of them to come amongst us. He was for some time kept with an iron about his leg and, when on board the Supply going down the harbour, he jumped overboard, but was taken up and prevented from joining his countrymen and old companions who were near. He was so well reconciled to his situation when we arrived that he was allowed to walk about by himself. His irons were taken off.

[Page 162]

When an old man and his child were brought up to Sydney Cove with the small pox out on them, soon after this old man, another native man was found in the same situation, with a child laying by him, both of which were brought up to the hospital. The native at the Governor's (Arrabanoo) met them without fear of the disorder, by which it was then supposed that he was ignorant of that disorder, or that he had had it and was recovered. The two men died before we arrived, but the children were then on the recovery.

From the great number of dead natives found in every part of the harbour, it appears that the small pox had made dreadful havoc among them. We did not see a canoe or a native the whole way coming up the harbour and were told that scarce any had been seen lately except laying dead in and about their miserable habitations, whence it appears that they are deserted by their companions as soon as the disorder comes out on them, and those who are attacked with this disorder left to shift for themselves. We judge this from their having been found not buried, in every part of the harbour. Some have been found with a child laying dead close to them and some, who have apparently used their utmost exertions to get at water, having been found laying dead between a cave and a run of water.

[Page 163]

How this disease came among them, or whether they were strangers to it before is doubtful. The two children, before mentioned, recovered soon after our arrival and were placed, the boy with the surgeon at the hospital, He was about seven years of age, and the girl, about thirteen, was put under the charge of the parson's wife.

A party of marines was discharged from the Sirius to complete the battalion, which had been reduced during our absence, by 6 having been executed together for robbing the provisions store, 1 killed in a quarrel with other Marines and 3 lost in the woods and perished. Captain Shea we also found had been dead a considerable time.

The Golden Grove transport, in her passage to Norfolk Island in October 1788, discovered a shoal of considerable extent and which we suppose, from the account of its situation, to be the same that Mr. Shortland discovered and named Middletons Shoal in July last and gave an account of at the Cape of Good Hope.

18 May 1789

18th. Arrabanoo, the native of the Governor, died of the small pox, which it is supposed he caught from the native children. He was taken ill about the time of their recovery. He was a great loss, being quite familiarized and very happy, quite one of the Governor's family, and had got some of our language as well as communicated much of theirs. He was remarkably good tempered and had he lived would no doubt have been of infinite use to us.

[Page 164]

19 May 1789

19th. A party from the Sirius went to Rose Hill, to which place a company of marines and considerable numbers of convicts had been detached in October last, for the purpose of cultivating that part of the country. Their situation is pleasant, the soil good, the country open and promises much to the success of the colony. It is 12 miles above Sydney Cove and 4 from the flats, from which a creek runs up, navigable for barges or lighters, observing the tides. We met with 6 canoes as we went up and saw the same number of fires as we returned in the cove, just below the flats.

June 1789

2 June 1789

June 2nd. Twenty canoes passed Sydney Cove, going down the harbour. This was the first time any number of them had been seen together since the small pox having been among them.

6 June 1789

Saturday, 6th. The Supply sailed for Norfolk Island with an officer and additional number of marines and provisions for that island. The Governor and Captain Hunter went to the northward to trace those parts of Broken Bay which had been left unexamined. The master of the Sirius and a midshipman was were round with two boats to meet the party who walked over.

11 June 1789

Thursday, 11th. A native man was met with at Botany Bay who had just recovered from the small pox. He had a child with him and made signs that the mother of it had died of that disease.

[Page 165]

17 June 1789

Wednesday, 17th. The Governor and party returned from Broken Bay. In the branch running to the NW out of the SW arm they discovered that an opening round an island, which had not been examined before, led to a fresh water river up which they went about twenty miles from the island at the mouth of it, when they were obliged to return for want of provisions to enable them to proceed.

When they gave up their pursuit they had 6 fathoms water and made use of it both for drinking and cooking. They met with but few natives and found some that died of the small pox laying near the path between Port Jackson and Broken Bay.

In a Cove of the southern arm they met with a woman who had just recovered but was so reduced and weak that she could not accompany her companion who ran away on the boat coming in near where they were. This poor creature crawled in among the long grass to hide herself and was by chance found in that situation. After having received every relief that could be given her, she became familiar as her fears subsided, but was not to be found when the boats came away. By Captain Hunter's Observation, taken near the inner South Head of Broken Bay, it appears to be 15 miles to the northward of Port Jackson.

19 June 1789

Friday, 19th. The Sirius went over to the cove on the northern side of the harbour, to be cleared and refitted for the purpose of examining the ground tier* and strengthening her upper works with riders.

[Page 166]

[* ground tier: the lowest tier of articles stowed in a ship's hold. Merriam-Webster. Perhaps it may also refer to the lowest storage area in the hold. Ed.]

In the night, 3 of the natives appeared on the shore near the ship, where they remained a short time and went away. They did not speak and we observed them creeping along to avoid making any noise. This appeared to be a visit of curiosity to see who they had near them.

20 June 1789

Saturday, 20th. In Spring Cove 70 of the natives were seen in one party by our fishing boat.

25 June 1789

Thursday, 25th. The Governor went to Rose Hill in consequence of receiving information of a large piece of water being discovered some distance to the Westward of Rose Hill but, he being anxious to pursue his discovery of the river in Broken Bay, left this for the present.

29 June 1789

Monday, 29th. The Governor, Captain Hunter and party went to Broken Bay to trace the river to its source. The master, as before, went round to meet this party in the South Arm with three weeks' provisions.

30 June 1789

Tuesday, 30th. An officer returned from a visit to those at Rose Hill. During his stay there, they made a party to the westward, eighteen or twenty miles, when they were obstructed by water, which they found to be fresh and apparently a part of a very considerable river. They found natives there who had traps for catching ducks, great quantities of which were seen. They also had snares for taking opossums and other animals.

[Page 167]

This part of the River, which Captain Tench fell in with, bore nearly west from Rose Hill, estimated distance eighteen miles. It is conjectured to be a part of that river which the Governor is now gone to trace. They did not observe any tide but a constant set to the NE by N, in which direction the branch they fell in with lay. Its breadth they reckon about eighty fathoms and, to appearances, deep water. Captain Tench attempted crossing it in an old canoe which was found there, but was obliged to give it up by her filling. The banks appeared very high and as if they were subjected to great torrents in the rainy season. In this excursion they met with level, open country for some miles and the grass was short, so as not to be troublesome in walking.

Near the banks, on the eastern side, they found a party of natives sitting round a fire broiling a kangaroo rat. They all ran away as soon as they discovered any person near them. Amongst other things found there was a piece, made of the skins of small animals sewed or laced together. Some part was of the opossum skin, the rest of some animal, the fur much superior. These were curiously carved on the inside, every skin having a different pattern and the whole formed a piece that, it was supposed, they might use to cover a child with.

[Page 168]

The needle they use was found. It is a hard piece of wood much in the size and shape of a small bodkin, with which they make holes (it not having an eye) to receive the thread, which was found, and appears to be the sinewy fibres from the tail of some small animal.

July 1789

7 July 1789

Tuesday, 7th. A second party returned from Rose Hill, after having visited the river that had been discovered to the westward. Some small distance lower down than the former party had been they supposed it to be fordable, but did not venture on account of a strong set and a fall with it. One of the party crossed it in an old canoe, buoyed up with bundles of reeds and the wild fig tree, which they found would swim. They found wild yams on both sides of the river.

14 July 1789

Tuesday, 14th. Finding that the Governor was in the north arm, we sent a boat for him and his party. On this boat landing, to the utter astonishment of all in her, they saw the sailmaker who had been missing three days, going about the hill close to the ship. Saturday afternoon he lost himself and wandered into the woods. Parties were sent in all directions each day to look for him, to no purpose, and boats along the shore Monday and Tuesday, on which days guns were fired on board the Sirius to direct him to the ship.

[Page 169]

The guns on Tuesday morning being heard by the Governor's party in the lower part of the harbour, they supposed the cause to be a man lost and in their walk towards Middle Harbour to look for a boat, found the print of a man's foot with a shoe on, which served to convince them that they had judged right and determined them to search for him.

They fired a volley of muskets and soon after, by a single musket, which being repeated on both sides, they soon came within hail and, calling to the lost man to stand still, they soon found him. His joy on seeing them was such that for some time he was like an idiot.

This man experienced a most singular deliverance from perishing in the woods. He had not more than half a dozen charges of powder when he left the ship and no provisions. Although he tried to fire his musket until he wore the flint to a stump, he could not get it to go off, only at night to get a fire to rest by. From this circumstance alone he was enabled to answer the Governor's party when they first began firing volleys for him. Then he again had the same good fortune, his gun not missing fire on either of these occasions and his stock of ammunition just sufficient for those purposes.

[Page 170]

The Governor returned the same evening to Sydney Cove. They had traced all the branches of the river, which they discovered in their last visit to Broken Bay. About 3 mile within the entrance of the river it branched away to the South six or seven miles, in which were other inconsiderable and shoal branches from this.

The main river ran some miles, then taking a SW direction and branching away to the northward, which branch was extensive but shoal water. Captain Hunter observed the latitude three miles below that, past where it was too shoal for the boats to proceed, to be 3321'S. The main channel to the SW took many windings, following which until they got into very shoal water with very large hard stones, of which the natives make their hatchets etc., and at the beginning of the falls they found themselves at the foot of a hill which they ascended. Captain Hunter observed the latitude on it 3337'S. The Governor named it Richmond Hill.

As they proceeding up the river, the trees had much the appearance of there being great torrents in a rainy season. Grass, mud and pieces of timber were found in them, measured thirty feet from the surface of the river to that of the tree, where they had been lodged in the great freshes or torrents. This river, by Captain Hunter's estimated distances following the course of the main river, runs fifty-five miles to Richmond Hill, which is by ditto twenty-seven miles west and by observation two miles south of the inner south head of Broken Bay. This river, the Governor named the Hawkesbury.

[Page 171]

16 July 1789

Thursday, 16th. The boats returned from Broken Bay. They met with a man woman and child. The woman was the same that they met with before in the south arm, just recovering from the small pox, who was now quite recovered of the disease, but one of her legs was contracted. This family would have been taken by force, but the wind not being fair, the officer in the boat did not think it a proper opportunity.

31 July 1789

Friday, 31st. The parson and the native girl went down the harbour to endeavour to have an interview with the natives. They met with a party of them, some of whom the girl said were her relations. She told them how well she was treated, that she had recovered by the care taken of her and that she was very happy. She used every persuasion to get one or more of them to return with her, but to no purpose.

August 1789

2 August 1789

Sunday August 2nd. The Surgeon General, with the native boy, went about the harbour for the same purpose. They soon met with a party of the natives who knew the boy, but they could not prevail on any (of them) to come with them. The boy was much inclined to join the naked tribe.

[Page 172]

8 August 1789

Saturday, 8th. The Supply arrived. Having landed the party of marines, stores etc. at Norfolk Island, she proceeded in search of Middleton's Shoal, and the island discovered by Mr. Shortland, but did not meet with either, after having passed over their situation, as given by him. Nor did they meet with that shoal seen by Mr. Blackburne in the Golden Grove and was supposed to be part of that which Mr. Shortland had named Middleton's Shoal.

10 August 1789

Monday, 10th. The carpenter, with a part of the crew only, came on board to examine into and repair the ship's defects, for which purpose she had long since been cleared.

18 August 1789

Tuesday, 18th. A party went down the harbour to take a native, if a good opportunity afforded. They met with several in the northern arm and found them very friendly. They did not take much notice of the native boy who accompanied the party, nor the boy of them. They were a considerable time with them but had not an opportunity of taking one.

27 August 1789

Thursday, 27th. Captain Hunter went by the sea coast to Broken Bay, to examine the Bays etc. between Port Jackson and it. Two boats were sent round with the first lieutenant to meet them and proceed on the survey of Broken Bay. At 2 in the afternoon the boats arrived at Broken Bay, and met Captain Hunter there the next morning. During our stay in the southern arm, only three of the natives were met with, and but few other seen.

September 1789

8 September 1789

Tuesday September 8th. Having surveyed the bay, south and south west arms, up to near the entrance of the Hawkesbury, returned to Port Jackson. Broken Bay is easily known when to the southward of it.

[Page 173]

By the land of the South Head, which forms a high round bluff to the sea from a low neck, and when the entrance of the bay is well open, another bluff head will show itself, round which is the south arm. As you approach the entrance, an island which lies in the bay and off the south and south west arms, will appear, and very high toward the sea. This is the mark to lead you into either of those arms. Passing to the southward of the island, the SW arm lays from it, about SWW by compass, and the south arm nearly south.

The South Arm has fresh water in several of the coves. There is a flat at the entrance which extends more than two thirds of the channel, over from the east point, between which and the west shore is three fathoms at low water and shoaling very gradually on the bank.

Going into this arm, steer in for the west point keeping the land forming the east point, or inner South Head, open until well over on the west shore, which keep on board until the north head of the bay comes on with the inner south head. Then you may haul over to the eastward. After passing this flat there is not anything found that will take a ship up in the fair way up to the arm, or into any of the coves, that a ship may choose a birth as may be most convenient.

Just within the inner south head, Captain Hunter observed the latitude 3335'S and at the upper part of the southern arm 3341'. This arm the Governor has named Pittwater*.

[* Bradley has Pitt Water.]

[Page 174]

There is a middle ground with less than three fathoms on it in some parts, near the entrance(or outer part) of the SW arm. There is good room on both sides. It shoals gradually to the middle ground. When near it, the eastern side is deepest water and best channel, as you are landlocked on that side when abreast of the middle ground. There is a rock which lays a small distance off the point, forming the arm above two little sandy bays, which you avoid by not opening the north head of the bay with the eastern end of the island, until the length of that point. Then, by keeping it just open, you avoid the middle ground to the eastward. The water near the shore on the eastern side is deep.

When you are the length of the north point, forming a branch to the NW out of this arm, you are above the middle ground and may anchor where you please in this arm, in which are several branches and coves forming very good harbour, with good depth of water and fresh water in several of the coves. The branch leading to the NW has a large flat near half way over from the northen shore to which, in the channel up, it shoals gradually to three feet.

As you come into this branch an island will show itself to the NNW about two miles up. There is a flat round to the southward and eastward, some parts of which dry at low water, but there is a very good channel round the northern part of it and when to the northward and westward of this island the opening leading to the Hawkesbury River will show itself to the westward, between two islands which form the entrance of it, in going to which you leave two large openings to the northward. These are large pieces of water but too shoal for anything except boats.

[Page 175]

The rive Hawkesbury, following the course of the main channel is, by Captain Hunter's estimated distance, fifty-five miles to the falls, near the foot of Richmond Hill, on which Captain Hunter observed latitude 3337'S and, near the top of a shoal branch of the river leading to the norethward, 3321'S, which is some miles to the northward of any part of the northern arm of the bay, as examined by our boats.

The north arm of Broken Bay is very shoal, with a large flat laying off the entrance of it, on which the sea breaks a considerable distance out, except in very fine weather. It is only fit for boats, through a very narrow channel and frequently dangerous.

The bay, except that part on the northern side just mentioned, appears to be clear ground with regular soundings in behind both the rocky points at the southern end of the sandy beaches. In the bay is good shelter for boats in any weather, or for small vessels to push for if caught in the bay and not able to reach the S or SW arms. I think either of these bights far more safe than to attempt the northern arm. By Captain Hunter's observation, the entrance of Broken Bay is sixteen miles to the northward of Port Jackson

[Page 176]

The coast between forms several bights, two of which a boat might shelter in if caught upon the shore and could not reach either of the harbours. The one is round the North Head of Port Jackson, between the high cliffs and the sandy beach. The other is in that bight off which is a reef of rocks about three miles to the northward of Port Jackson. Going along the shore to and from Broken Bay twice in the boats, I observed that the flood set to the southward and the ebb to the northward regular. We observed the tides at Broken Bay to be nearly the same as at Port Jackson.

15 September 1789

Tuesday, 15th. A party went to visit the river to the westward of Rose Hill. They found that the freshes had been very great and marks of its rising near thirty feet. The course of the stream, when they left it, they supposed to be seven knots.

20 September 1789

Sunday, 20th. Captain Hunter, with the masters of the Sirius and Supply, went to Botany Bay to survey it.

24 September 1789

Thursday, 24th. The purser of the Sirius, being down the harbour to get cabbage tree, was met by some natives who took an opportunity of stealing his axes and running away. On being pursued, they left two children behind them. These were taken to the boat, very soon pacified, and even went to sleep in the boat. One was seven or eight, the other not more than two years old.

[Page 177]

Some considerable time after this, the men appeared again and were given to understand that they should not have the children until they brought back the axes. They, after some hesitation, fetched the axes and took the children. They did not seem to care about the eldest but were very anxious about the little one.

26 September 1789

Saturday, 26th. The man usually employed shooting, for the ship, when near the middle harbour was suddenly attacked by the natives with stones. He did not see them until a stone passed close to his head. Looking round he saw three of them with clubs and spears advancing toward him. He gave them the contents of his musket which then was loaded with small shot. This they did not mind, only by standing still, and gave a shout. In a very short time he saw fifty of them had got together and were advancing towards him with spears and clubs, making a great noise. He was now well prepared, having loaded with large buck shot while they were collecting. He stood his ground to receive them, letting them advance to within about fifty yards, and fired among the thick of them. Two fell and the others ran off immediately, taking their two dead or wounded companions with them. The man, being alone, did not follow them.

30 September 1789

Wednesday, 30th. Captain Hunter returned from Botany Bay, having surveyed the bay and taken an eye sketch of the branches, all except that to the NW which they only traced a few miles. They met but few natives and those were all friendly.

[Page 178]

In some of the caves, skeletons of some and loose bones of others were found, who had no doubt died of the small pox, by their bodies not having been removed.

October 1789

5 October 1789

Monday, 5th October. A vessel of twelve tons was launched, which was the first built in the country. Her construction was that of the lighter and of an easy draught of water, for the purpose of carrying stores and provisions over the flats to Rose Hill.

7 October 1789

Wednesday, 7. The Governor went to Rose Hill to trace a piece of water near it, supposed by those who first fell in with it, to communicate with the NW Arm of Botany Bay.

10 October 1789

Saturday, 10. He returned. He fell in with a fresh water river about four miles from Rose Hill to the southward and which had many windings. They followed the course of it down on one side of the banks, not having a boat, as far as the gullies, which they were obliged to walk round, would admit of. They found a rise of four feet where the water was fresh and some distance below that part they met the salt water, which had every appearance of communicating with Botany Bay or, a small distance to the southward of it, with the sea.

[Page 179]

But this, for want of a boat, they could not ascertain, being upon the forked part of a branch, at one part of which a kangaroo was closely pursued by the greyhound that they had with them. The kangaroo took to the water. The dog followed and got hold of the kangaroo, which attacked the dog and tore him so much, that one of the people was obliged to go in and cut the kangaroo's throat, to save the dog.

31 October 1789

Saturday, 31st. The Sirius, Supply, battalion and convicts put to two-thirds allowance of provisions.

November 1789

7 November 1789

Saturday November 7th. Having repaired the defects of the Sirius, completed her bottom and fixed the necessary riders, we went over to Sydney Cove where the repairs to the upper works could be more conveniently done.

8 November 1789

Sunday, 8th. Mr. Hill, one of the mates, having been absent since Thursday, and finding that he had left Sydney Cove early Friday morning and landed on the north shore to walk round to the cove where the ship was refitting, we concluded some accident had happened to him. Several parties were sent to the north shore, with boats up and down the harbour, to endeavor to meet with him. guns were fired on board the Sirius every two hours from daylight until eight at night, all to no purpose.

9 November 1789

Monday, 9. Parties and boats as yesterday without success.

Tuesday, 10th. Parties etc. continued. One of the boats was attacked by the natives in the northern arm. These people had met the boats crew and been some time together, quite friendly.

[Page 180]

Soon after the natives left them, they were surprised with several spears flying among them and, not a native to be seen at that moment, they soon appeared and were advancing toward the boat. When a musket ball was fired among them they stopped, which gave the people time to get out of their reach with the boat. None of our people were hurt although the spears passed through amongst them.

11 November 1789

Wednesday, 11th. The Supply sailed for Norfolk Island with convicts and provisions for that place.

12 November 1789

Thursday, 12th. We left off firing guns. The parties and boats all returned without meeting with the smallest trace of the unfortunate young man who, there is scarce a doubt, had been killed by the natives, many of them at that time being about the north shore.

15 November 1789

Sunday, 15th. A man belonging to the Supply, who had left her before she sailed and ran into the woods, gave himself up. He had been absent eleven days. He heard all our guns but, his intentions not being to return just then, he did not avail himself of so favourable an opportunity of directing himself back, but after this he was reduced to the necessity of returning to take the punishment awaiting him or perish in the woods.

[Page 181]

21 November 1789

Saturday, 21st. The Sirius' fishing boat was attacked by the natives in one of the lower coves, just as they were leaving the shore. Four musket balls were fired before the natives retreated. Their spears passed over and in the boat; one struck in her and broke. Very luckily, they all passed clear of the people in the boat. Another boat was also attacked this day, laying at a grapnel off a point of the northern arm. Several spears were thrown, on which the people moved farther off. A great number of natives then appeared. The women came close to the rocks and used every wanton lure to entice our people to land. When the women came forward, a party of men were observed to walk away, no doubt to be ready for an attack if our people had been so improvident as to land. This artifice having been practised by them before, the people were well aware of it.

25 November 1789

Wednesday, 25th. Governor Phillip, judging it necessary that a native should be taken by force, no endeavor to persuade them to come among us having succeeded, I was ordered on this service, having the master, two petty officers and a boat's crew with me, in one of the Governor's boats.

As we went down the harbour we got some fish from the boats that lay off the northern arm fishing, and proceeded up the arm in which we saw a great number of natives on both sides, and several landed on the beach at the north cove, hauling their canoes up after them.

[Page 182]

As we got near the upper part of the north cove, we held two large fish up to them and had the good luck to draw two of them away from a very large party by this bait. These people came around the rocks, where they left their spears and met us on the beach near the boat and at a distance from their companions sufficient to promise success without losing any lives. They eagerly took the fish. Four of the boats crew were kept in the boat, which was winded and backed close to the beach where the two natives and the rest of our people were. They were dancing together when the signal was given by me and the two poor devils were seized and handed into the boat in an instant.


'Taking of Colbee & Bennelong. 25 November 1789'

The natives, who were very numerous all round us, on seeing us seize those two, immediately advanced with their spears and clubs, but we were too quick for them, being out of reach before they got to that part of the beach where the boat lay. They were entering on the beach just as everybody was in the boat and, as she did not take the ground, we pulled immediately out without having occasion to fire a musket.

The noise of the men crying and screaming, of the women and children, together with the situation of the two miserable wretches in our possession, was really a most distressing scene. They were much terrified, one of them particularly so. The other frequently called out to those on shore apparently very much enraged with them.

[Page 183]

They followed the boat on both sides as far as the points of the cove and then returned to the beach. We saw them take up the two fish which their two unfortunate friends dropped, on being seized. On our landing at Sydney Cove we were met by Nanbarry, the native boy, who was much pleased and called them by name, Colbee and Bennelong. Colbee, we have frequently heard spoken of by the boy as a great warrior and a leading man among them.

They were taken to the Governor's house, where they were soon met by Abooroo, the native girl. she called them by name, the same as the boy had done, and was quite frantic with joy. They were assured by these children that they would be well treated and thereafter allowed to return to their friends, but all that could be said or done was not sufficient to remove the pang which they naturally felt at being torn away from their friends, or to reconcile them to their situation.

It gave me great satisfaction to find by the children that neither of them had wife or family who would feel their loss, or to be distressed by their being taken away. It was by far the most unpleasant service I ever was ordered to execute. These people were shaved, washed and clothed. An iron shackle was put on one leg, with a rope made fast to it, and a convict charged with each of them. They were very sullen and sulky, continued so several days, yet it did not by any means affect their appetite, if we may judge from the quantity they now eat, which is beyond everything incredible. Twelve pounds of fish does but little towards satisfying them for one meal.

[Page 184]

They made several attempts to get away by gnawing the rope in the night but, being unacquainted with the securities on doors and windows, they might have as well remained fast. When their keepers awoke, they found them groping about the room to find an opening by which they might escape.

December 1789

1 December 1789

Tuesday, December 1. The first lieutenant and master of the Sirius were sent to examine the NW branch of Botany Bay. On the 5th they returned. They had found it to be a creek of about eight miles length to the north-west, with a winding shoal channel, which ended in a drain to a swamp, all salt water.

Saw several natives in small parties. They would not come near us. On our return, we landed in a bay about three miles to the northward of Botany Bay. The wind was fresh and a considerable swell right on the shore, yet we landed smooth at the beach where there is a fine run of water. The inner parts of this bay are open from SE by S to ESE, the water shoaling gradually with soft bottom to the beach. The inner points which break the sea off are about a cable or cable and a half across and five fathoms water mid channel. Within the outer point is 7 fathoms, from which it runs up rather more than half a mile to the NW and is a very good place for a boat to stop, in going along the shore and night coming on, or a contrary tide coming on.

9 December 1789

Wednesday, 9th. Lieutenant Dawes, with a party, went to Rose Hill for the purpose of penetrating to the westward towards the mountains.

[Page 185]

Saturday, 12th. Notwithstanding that the two natives had got themselves loose several times and were prevented from escaping, Colbee this evening got away by the very same means which had before been detected. The man who had charge of him was severely punished for his neglect, and the man who had charge of Bennelong was now chained by the wrist, the other end being fastened to the shackle on Bennelong's leg, instead of a rope which was before used. Bennelong was nearly loose when the other was missed and in a minute more would have been after him. He was much alarmed, no doubt expecting punishment, or to be put to death.

In the course of two or three days he became quite composed, and seemed reconciled better to his situation than before. He came on board the Sirius without the smallest apprehensions for his safety. He looked with attention at every part of the ship and expressed much astonishment, particularly at the cables.

17 December 1789

Thursday, 17. Mr. Dawes and party returned. They found it impracticable to get near the mountains in the direction which they went.

22 December 1789

Tuesday, 22. The Supply arrived from Norfolk Island. She brought very favourable accounts of the crops of corn. She called at Lord Howe Island, with very little success in getting turtle.

27 December 1789

Sunday, 27th. Mr. King, second lieutenant of the Sirius, being established by the Governor as commandant at Norfolk Island, was discharged from the ship and Mr. Maxwel, third lieutenant, being insane, was invalided. Mr. Newton Fowell and Mr. Henry Waterhouse were appointed to act as second and third Lieutenants.

January 1790

[Page 186]

8 January 1790

January 8th. The Supply sailed for Norfolk Island with convicts and provisions.

20 January 1790

Wednesday, 20th. A look out post was established at the South Head. Captain Hunter, with a party, went to that station.

29 January 1790

Friday, 29th. The first lieutenant, with a party, went to the South Head to relieve the look out post. Black kangaroos were seen about there.

31 January 1790

Sunday, 31st. Caesar, a notorious convict, a native of Madagascar, delivered himself up to the officer at Rose Hill. He had been absent since the 22nd of December, when he ran off with a canoe from Garden Island and on the 23rd paid them a visit in the night and stole a musket, which he dropped in a garden at Rose Hill, a few nights since, being closely pursued.

The account he gives of his subsisting himself so long a time was that where he saw a party of natives with anything on, or about their fire, that he frightened them away by coming suddenly on them and swaggering with his musket, then helped himself to whatever they had left. In this manner he made out very well without ammunition, sometimes robbing gardens. When he lost the musket he found it impossible to subsist himself. He was then attacked by the natives and wounded in several places and escaped from a party of them through a very thick brush, when he surrendered himself.

February 1790

[Page 187]

3 February 1790

Wednesday, 3rd. The Governor and Bennelong visited the look out post. Bennelong being now well reconciled, generally accompanies the Governor in little excursions. He threw a spear on the South Head, against a strong wind, ninety-eight yards, which was considerably farther than I ever noticed before. In their return to Sydney Cove they saw some women on a point of land near Rose Bay, to which they rowed, and threw them a jacket and several other things. Among this party was a woman whom Bennelong was very fond of, (Barangaroo) and with whom he had much conversation. He wanted her to come to the boat, telling her that he was fast by the leg and could not get to them. They learned from these women that Colbee was then fishing on the other side of the hill and that he could not get the shackle from his leg.

7 February 1790

Sunday, 7. Nanbaray (the native boy) was at the look out post on a visit. This day, among other amusements, he went through the ceremony of a burial, which he did by first digging a grave, putting into it a quantity of dry sticks. The body was laid at length in green brush, which he tied at both ends and placed it upon the dry sticks, then piled sticks over it above the surface of the ground and signified that they set fire to the pile and threw ashes and earth all together, leaving the ground in shape of the grave usually met with. That part of the ceremony of lighting the fire he was obliged to omit, not being strong enough to get it.

[Page 188]

He showed us the manner in which it was done by two sticks, one placed horizontally. The other, pointed, is applied to this which, by constant friction, makes a small hole through which fire is communicated to some very dry stuff placed under for that purpose. It appears to be rather tedious and laborious.

10 February 1790

Wednesday, 10th. A sail was seen in the offing, which was soon known to be the Supply. She, falling in to leeward of Port Jackson, bore away for Botany Bay.

12 February 1790

Friday, 12. The Supply arrived at Port Jackson. She left a party on Lord Howe Island, in her passage to Norfolk Island, for the purpose of getting turtle. She took the people off in her return. They did not get any turtle.

14 February 1790

Sunday, 14th. The Sirius was ordered to be got ready for sea, it being judged that the state of the colony with respect to provisions was such as made it necessary that she should be sent for supplies, to relieve it, and China was determined as a proper place for that purpose. Some days after, this plan was changed and it was judged necessary to divide the people in the settlement. Norfolk Island was fixed on to remove the Lieutenant-Governor with his part of the Battalion and convicts.

It was therefore ordered that the Sirius and Supply should take those people to Norfolk Island and return to Port Jackson after which, if there was not a ship arrived from England, the Sirius was to go to China as before resolved on. The Governor and one of the mates, with 6 people, took charge of the look out post.

March 1790

[Page 189]

2 March 1790

Tuesday, 2 March. Having got the provisions and stores on board for Norfolk Island, we went out of Sydney and anchored in the stream.

3 March 1790

Wednesday, 3rd. Received on board the Sirius Major Ross, 4 lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 2 drums and 20 private marines. The Supply received 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 2 sergeants, 2 Corporals and 26 privates.

4 March 1790

Thursday, 4th. Received on board the Sirius 96 men and 65 women convicts with 23 children, the surgeon and assistant, who were appointed to Norfolk Island. The Supply received 20 men and 2 women convicts and 3 children.

5 March 1790

Friday, 5th. Sailed with the Supply in company but, the weather being squally and very unsettled, we came to in the lower part of the harbour.

6 March 1790

Saturday, 6. Wind fresh from the southward. Sailed out of Port Jackson, Supply in company.

8 March 1790

The 8th. We found by observation for the latitude and timekeeper, that the current had set us 38 of latitude to the Northward and 49 of longitude to the eastward. Weather moderate, wind southerly.

9 March 1790

Tuesday, 9th. At 1pm saw Lord Howe Island, Mt.Gower NE by E 23 leagues. Mt. Gower and Mt. Lidgbird with these bearings make in two round hills with a space between them and in clear weather Ball's Pyramid lying to the SE of Mt. Gower may be seen nearly at as great a distance in a peak. The land which joins the two mountains is not to be seen until much nearer, 15 or 16 leagues, and the low land of the island not until within 6 or 7 leagues. Found a current which set us this day 16 N and 49 of longitude E. The Supply stood into the bay to try if any turtle could be got.

[Page 190]

10 March 1790

Wednesday, 10th, pm. Passed through between Balls Pyramid and Mt. Gower, they bear from each other S51E and N57W by compass 5 or 6 leagues distant. To the southward of the pyramid, which is a very high inaccessible peaked rock, are several rocks which show above water. Between Lord Howe Island and the Pyramid is a clear passage. We had soundings near Mt. Gower but none before or after. We found a very strong current setting through to the NE.

Bearings taken by Compass.

North point of the island and south end of the
Admiralty Rocks                                          N62E
North point of the island and eastmost of the
Admiralty Rocks                                          N31E
Mount Gower NNE 3 miles had 26 fathoms coral and shells
Pyramid from Mt. Gower                     S51E 5 or 6 leagues
Two mountains in one                                     N20E
Do. opening                                              N11E
Mount Gower and small rock just off it                   NWW
Eastmost small island open                               N11W
Backland toward the northern end open N43W. Most of
the Admiralty Rocks are then open without it.

From good meridian observation and good altitudes for the timekeeper, only 3 days out of Port Jackson when its rate was determined on our sailing, we make Mount Gower, the southern end of Lord Howe Island, to lay in 3135' southern latitude, longitude by the timekeeper 15912'E, and by [sun] and [moon] 15851'E. Variation of the compass. 930'E.

[Page 191]

13 March 1790

After leaving Lord Howe Island we did not find any current until we came near the stream of Norfolk Island, when we again found a strong easterly current. We made Norfolk Island Saturday, 13th at 2 am. Brought to at 4 and made sail in for the island at daylight. As we came in with Sydney Bay, south side of the island, saw the signal that there was no landing. The Supply was sent to see if landing was good in Balls Bay on the east side of the island. Lieutenant Ball could not land, but backed the boat in so as to throw a letter on shore to the commandant. We then went round to the northern side of the island and found landing practicable at low water in Cascade Bay.

14 March 1790

Sunday, 14. Landed the marines and men convicts early in the afternoon and the next morning the Lieutenant-Governor and part of the women convicts in Cascade Bay, by backing the boat in, from which they jump on a rock, one at a time, keeping the boat on her oars and frequently obliged to pull out several times before a boat load can be landed. The rock on which you land cannot pass from after half flood, it being separated from the shore and there being always a surge upon it. The shore would be dangerous crossing after half flood or until half ebb. This rock being detached, and steep too, makes safe landing in southerly winds. The rock for landing lies to the eastward of the stony beach, some distance.

[Page 192]

15 March 1790

Monday, 15th. The wind coming to the eastward, we had drifted so far to leeward that it was a considerable time before we could get the ship far enough to windward for the boats to reach the landing place. About noon we landed the remainder of the women convicts and thought ourselves exceeding fortunate in having made so good a passage and having had so good an opportunity of landing so great a number of people. But the most difficult part yet remained, that of landing the provisions and stores for them and which could only be done in Sydney Bay, where the settlement is made. While off Cascade Bay we made the landing place, by several observations in latitude, 2902', longitude 16802'E by timekeeper.

16 March 1790

Tuesday, 16th. Coming on a gale of wind at east, bore away and ran under the lee of the island. Sent on board the Supply as much provisions as she could stow, that no time might be lost in getting it landed should the Supply have an opportunity of getting into Sydney Cove before the Sirius, which was reasonable to suppose she would, from her superiority in sailing and working.

17 March 1790

Wednesday, 17th. It blew very strong from the eastward. We were beating up under a press of sail, but could not reach Sydney Bay before the evening, when it would be too late, and too much wind, to send a boat. The Supply at noon was well in with the Bay.

[Page 193]

18 March 1790

Thursday, 18th. The gale increased with very heavy squalls. The Supply got far enough in to send a boat on shore, on the return of which Mr. Ball bore away and informed us that landing was dangerous and as the weather had a very bad appearance, he recommended standing off as the night came on, which we did under the reefed foresail and storm staysails. We lost sight of the Supply in the night. At noon we were about ten leagues to the leeward of Phillip Island.

19 March 1790

Friday, 19th, pm. The gale moderated. We made what sail the ship would bear to endeavour to beat up to Norfolk Island. In the night the wind coming to the SE enabled us to fetch so far to windward as to have Norfolk Island on the lee bow at daylight, am. At 9, standing close in with Phillip Island, saw the Supply under Norfolk Island. the signal being up on shore for good landings and that longboats might land, stood in for Sydney Bay, out reef topsails. Steered close in with the southerly point of Nepean Island, wore and brought to, main topsail to the mast, with the ship's head to the SSW. Out boats, loaded one of them with provisions and sent her away.

While we were loading the other, Mr. Ball hailed from the Supply, then on our lee bow, and waved his hat towards a reef of sunken rocks which lay off the west point of Sydney Bay.

[Page 194]


'Part of the reef & landing places Sydney Bay; Sirius & Supply endeavouring to work out of the Bay. March 19 1790'

We sent the boat away half loaded, filled the main topsail, set the foresail and mainsail to make a trip to windward. The Supply could not weather these rocks. She tacked and passed just clear under our weather bow. Lieutenant Ball hailed and said we were both too near in. At this moment the wind shifted two points to the southward. We could not weather the reef.

The wind baffled and baulked the ship in stays. She missed and fell off. Hauled the after sails and paid her round upon her heel and hauled our wind on the starboard tack, out first reef mizzen topsail, and set the driver to endeavour to fetch through between Nepean Island and the east point of Sydney Bay, as the only chance of saving the ship.

[Page 195]


'Part of the Reef in Sydney Bay, Norfolk Island, on which the "Sirius" was wrecked. 19 March 1790.'

Anchoring when the ship missed stays would have been unavoidable destruction, the bottom being full of spiral rocks, the lee part of the bay and the shore inaccessible. The ship settled in upon the shore, shoaled the water to 5 fathoms. Put the ship in stays. When she, getting fresh stern way right in upon the shore, cut away the small bower anchor, let go the topsail, halyards etc., but before the cable could check her, she struck violently on the reef which lays along parallel to the shore in Sydney Bay and some distance from it.

The carpenter almost immediately reported the ship bulged and 7 feet water in the hold. The quartermaster, then attending in the main hold, called up that the water was flowing in fast.

Cut away all the masts. The ship, by the heavy surf which broke over her, was thrown well in upon the reef. It being impossible to hold an idea of getting her off again, everybody was employed getting provisions, as it could be got at, on the gun deck and securing it there.

Lieutenant Ball came as near the ship in his boat as he could, to ask if the Supply could be of any use. Captain Hunter told him No! that the Sirius was gone and desired him to take care of the Supply.

The surf increasing in the evening and the weather having a bad appearance, Mr. King, who had now been more than 2 years on the island, signified to us that it would be dangerous to remain in the ship all night.

We got a hawser from the ships quartermaster. To the shore by means of a cask floating a small rope through the surf, which the people on shore got hold of and hauled the end of the hawser on shore. We got a heart on it for a traveller and fixed hauling lines, by which the people belonging to the island hauled a part of the ships company ashore though the surf to the reef, from which they crossed to the shore in a small boat employed inside the reef for that purpose.

[Page 196]

The reef being covered at half flood and night coming on, more than half of the ship's company were left on board. As the tide flowed, the cable checked her so much that at high water her situation was altered three or four points more, in and out. She struck violently at high water time, but at low water lay quiet.

21 March 1790

Sunday, 21st, am. At daylight began to get more of the people on shore, the surf still very high, and the tide rose too much for those on the reef to work before all the people could be removed from the ship.

At 3pm all the people were got on shore, in which we were so fortunate as not to lose a life. Several were so near drowned as to be quite senseless for a time. Although we had all escaped from shipwreck with our lives, yet our situation with respect to provisions was alarming and very precarious, it being doubtful whether any could be saved or not.

In the morning, Lieutenant Ball came over from Cascade Bay. He informed us that both Friday and Saturday the tide set to the westward the whole of each day except about 2 hours, a circumstance he had never met with before at this island. On the contrary we had always been given to understand that the ebb set to the eastward and ran 9 hours and that the flood was only a drain to the westward and ran about 3 hours.

[Page 197]

To this unaccountable change in the current usually found we attribute the first cause of the ship being lost, for it was more than 2 hours ebb or eastern tide when we brought to with the ships head SSW. In full assurance that we had a strong weather tide we stood nearer in than we should otherwise have done before we brought to. One boat was loaded and sent away before we observed her settle in upon the shore.

22 March 1790

Monday, 22nd. We got over from Cascade Bay 3 tierces* of pork and 8 barrels of flour which was all the provisions the Supply could spare us, and even this in our situation was an object. We had now landed near 400 people and scarce any of the provisions, when the unfortunate accident happened. The timekeeper was saved and sent aboard the Supply. AM martial law was proclaimed and half allowance of provision ordered.

[* tierce: a cask, or vessel, holding 42 wine gallons.]

23 March 1790

Tuesday, 23. The master and mates, with a gang of hands, got on board to get ready for sending provisions on shore. The Supply came off Sydney Bay but the surf was too high to send the people who were to embark in her. She bore away and ran to leeward to Cascade Bay.

24 March 1790

Wednesday, 24, pm. Made an unsuccessful attempt to get a cask of provisions on shore.

AM. Sent over to Cascade Bay where they embarked on board the Supply for Port Jackson, the second and third lieutenants, 4 midshipmen, 1 surgeon's mate, 23 seamen and 2 marines. Mr. King, the late commandant on this island, also went on board the Supply, to proceed to Port Jackson. This forenoon we were fortunate enough to get 18 casks of provisions on shore.

[Page 198]

25 March 1790

Thursday, 25th, pm. The Supply sailed for Port Jackson, this and the following days until the 28th. We had good enough in getting provisions from the ship and several other articles of consequence.

28 March 1790

Sunday, 28th, am. Very heavy surf. The small bower cable parted. The surf hove the ship further in upon the reef and, not having anything to keep her bow steady, she complained very much. The master, who was on board, expected that she would part at high water. It was the next low water time before those on board could venture to come on shore which they, with great difficulty, did without the loss of any.

29 March 1790

Monday, 29th. Surf very high. At high water the surf hove the ship's head round in upon the reef and further in upon it bodily. This made it necessary to get a hawser with a traveller to the bow of the ship and to cut the bridle port so as to allow of cask and large articles of stores going out, which was done the 30th, the surf being more moderate.

April 1790

14 April 1790

From which day to the 14th of April we were employed from half ebb to half flood getting on shore every article of stores belonging to the ship and the colony that could be got at. Sixteen half barrels of powder were also got on shore. The remainder, being spoiled, was started into the sea in the magazine.

[Page 199]

The situation of the ship being bulged, fore and aft, many of the beams fallen and the lower deck given way, the sheet and best bower cables were left on board and many other stores, it being impossible to remove them without cutting so much through the deck and beams as to render the attempt dangerous. With the quantity of provisions which we had been so fortunate as to save, there appeared, on a survey, to be in the settlement 14 weeks at half allowance.

Parties were allowed to go for birds: for the seamen, marines and convicts twice a week each, and limited not to bring more than a proportion of 3 for each man. These birds are very numerous and burrow in the ground about the hills, particularly about Mount Pitt, which is the highest land in the island. It was the practice before we came to dig them out of their holes in the day time, but the people now take them as they settle in the evening and early part of the night and, were they not restricted, they could bring away almost any number.

These birds are nearly the same as the English puffin or Manks Puffin as described in Brooks' Natural History, found on the Isle of Man and Scilly Isles, and is the size of a tame pigeon. The colour on the upper parts is brown or black and, on the under, brown and white, legs black. The bill is narrow and black, about an inch and half in length, the upper chap is crooked at the point like that of a cormorant and at the base there is a bald skin in which the nostrils are placed.

[Page 200]

The wings are long and the tail is a palm in length. It feeds at sea and although such incredible number settle on the hills to get into their holes at the approach of night, a great number has been taken in the daytime, by being dug out with a grubbing hoe or brought our by terrier dogs. They lay but one egg, which is larger than that of the common hens. They are said to be in and about this island from March to August. When the young are ready to fly they all go off together, about which time another sort is said to come, but not in such numbers.

These birds are a great resource to us. They enable us to go with the cultivation of the land for the crops, which we must soon depend on if we are not relieved and which, I fear, will not keep us without feeling pangs of extreme hunger.

Fish (with which the sea abounds) is too precarious to be considered as any resource, on account of the surf, it being impossible to keep a boat for that purpose at any other part of the island except at Sydney Bay, in which is a reef from the east point to the bight on the west side, which is dry at half tide but no landing on it with a boat.

There are two small gullies in the reef, close to each other, that will just admit a boat (in one of which there is not breadth for a common six-oared cutter's pass) and that only when there is but very little surf on the reef. It is frequently many days together that the boats cannot go out and is, unless very smooth, always dangerous.

[Page 201]

I shall collect into a separate table from the general one of weather etc., an account of the surf from the time of our being wrecked to the time of our happy deliverance whenever it comes, and bring it in course with leaving the island, distinguishing the days on which the boat could go out for fish (and no opportunity is lost), and those of high surf to prevent it.

20 April 1790

Tuesday, 20th. Half a pound weight of salt provisions were ordered to be deducted from the week's allowance and parties allowed to get birds every day to make up the deficiency.

22 April 1790

Thursday, 22nd. Went out in the cutter to sound round Nepean Island. Between it and the east point of Sydney Bay found a rock about mid channel, or rather nearer the island, with only 2 fathoms on it at low water and another not so much as 1/3 over from the east point of Sydney Bay with 3 fathoms on it, both which were seen to break some days before. Between these rocks is nine fathoms, then 5 and nine again. It appears to be all foul and very uneven bottom from more than mid channel around to the north east part of the land, forming the east point of Sydney Bay. The passage through, if a ship should be obliged to it, is to keep the island close on board, but I do not by any means recommend it as a safe passage.

[Page 202]

There is a very dangerous reef off the south east part of Nepean Island, which lies nearly south east from it about a half mile to the outer rock, on which the sea only breaks in bad weather or great swell. We passed between this and a rock, dry at low water, and had 8 fathoms crossing the ledge and 12 on each side about a quarter of a mile from the island.

May 1790

2 May 1790

Sunday, May 2nd. The birds taken at Mount Pitt being found very sufficient to supply every person, orders were given not to shoot any birds on the island during the continuance of the Mount Pitt birds.

14 May 1790

Friday, 14th. A council was held by the Lieutenant-Governor and all the commissioned officers, to take into consideration the present reduced state of the provision store and to consult upon what measures were most proper to be pursued in order to preserve life until such time as we might be relieved by some supplies arriving, and bring the season round that we may expect some relief from the crops which the ground, already cleared and clearing, may produce.

All which, having been duly considered, the ration of provisions was reduced to the following quantity: 3lb of flour, 1 lb of salt beef or 17 oz. of pork, and 1 lb of rice or calavances per week to each man and woman. To children more than 1 year old, half the aforementioned ration and to children under 1 year 1 lb of flour and 1 lb of rice per week. At which allowance there remain in store 17 weeks flour, 16 beef and pork together, and 21 of rice and calavances together.

[Page 203]

The parties for birds were now increased and allowed to bring in as many as they thought proper, there not yet appearing to be the smallest decrease in the numbers.

22 May 1790

Saturday, 22nd. A practice being made known, which several of the people going for birds had, of destroying them for the sake of the egg, after they had taken as many birds as they as they wanted to carry away, and leave the birds laying about so as to become a nuisance round the hills, the parties were not allowed to go out until 3 in the afternoon and to return by 10 at night.

These birds were now so plenty that the people could get as many as they wanted and the practice of destroying and throwing away the bird having been put a stop to, they seldom brought in any but those with the egg in them, letting the other go again after taking them. Our people generally return about 8 o'clock loaded. They have between 3 and 4 miles to go for them to Mount Pitt and the hills about it.

[Page 204]

June 1790

1 June 1790

Tuesday. June 1. Went out to sound between Nepean Island and the east point of Sydney Bay, about those rocks which I was on with the boat the 22nd of last month. Found a flat with 5 fathoms round the rock nearest the island and discovered the bottom to be full of spiral rocks or large stones laying on a flat coral bed. These rocks lie just at the edge of a bed of rocks which appear to spread nearly over to Nepean Island. The sounding very irregular, on the rock next to Point Hunter 3, and on that nearest Nepean Island only 2 fathoms. I crossed the channel and found the bottom very uneven and all rocky, and although I had not less then 5 fathoms, except on those rocks beforementioned, I think it probable that in many parts there may be much less, from the rippling of the tide and from the breakers which we see in bad weather.

I also went along by the island to try for a passage. The sounds within half a cables length of it are more regular than any other part of the Channel, 7 and 6 fathoms, but the tide making very strong prevented my being able to determine whether there was a safe passage through or not. The Supply has gone through but I think it rather dangerous. The rocks which are known are so small that many of the same kind may have as yet been passed over without being noticed.

2 June 1790

Wednesday, 2nd. A large patch of level ground about 2 miles to the westward, which was said could easily be cleared, was fixed on as an elligible situation to detach some people to for that purpose.

4 June 1790

Friday, 4th. At noon, the detachment of marines fired 3 volleys in honour of the Day.

15 June 1790

Tuesday, 15. The fishing boat was suddenly overtaken by a gale of wind, that she could not reach the landing place in Sydney Bay or land, if she could have got to windward, which obliged them to run under the lee of the island.

[Page 205]

Our people were sent over and had the good luck to save the boat by hauling her up in Balls Bay, on the east end of the island.

17 June 1790

Thursday, 17. A captain and company of marines and a party of convicts were detached to the ground lately discovered, for the purpose of cleaning it for cultivation. It was named Charlotte's Field.

23 June 1790

Wednesday, 23. The Coble was launched from Balls Bay and brought round. This was the first day that it was practicable on account of the surf, since the day that she was obliged to run to leeward of the island.

24 June 1790

Thursday, 24th. Got some empty casks from the ship. She was found to be bulged the whole way fore and aft on both sides and the keel broke right up into the after hold

29 June 1790

Tuesday, 29th. The fishing business was given into charge of the officers and people belonging to the Sirius, that the two crews of convicts kept for the Coble might be turned to cleaning ground. We also made hooks and lines for carrying it on with. The birds at Mount Pitt are yet taken in the usual quantities without appearing to have diminished in their numbers, which has already far surpassed everything we can have an idea of, but the Divine Hand of Providence. Fish we have been very badly off for this month, being mostly high surf.

[Page 206]

July 1790

19 July 1790

Monday, 19th. The reduced state of the provisions store made it absolutely necessary that the issuing of salt provisions, however small the ration, should be stopped while any birds were to be had.

August 1790

3 August 1790

August, 3. The Lieutenant-Governor assembled the council for the purpose of determining on the best plan, in our distressed situation, to secure to ourselves the means of subsistence, until we may be relieved by the arrival of some ship. The birds now became scarce, and the young being nearly ready to fly, are about to leave the island. A reduction of provisions to 2lb of flour and 1 pint of rice per week was judged necessary to take place on Saturday the 7th following.

It having been as practice for some people to abscond from their work and take to the woods living by plunder, and the section of the Articles of War relating to Martial Law being established not affecting the lives of such people without their having robbed or plundered being fully proved, it became absolutely necessary from the situation we were reduced to, that a law should be established, deeming such as quitted their work and were absent one week, to be outlawed and to be put to death if met with, or if brought in to be punished with death on a proof of their having been absent one week.

[Page 207]

4 August 1790

The 4th. The appearance of a ship to the eastward and working up towards the island, filled every soul with a most heart felt pleasure and extravagant joy, some crying some laughing, running about like people without reason. Parties were sent to Balls Bay and Cascade Bay, not doubting but a boat would land there. But after standing close in with Cascade Bay about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, she bore away and made sail to the northward.

The gloom with which the island was now overspread, our feelings on this disappointment cannot be expressed by words. Such a sudden change almost threw everybody into a state of despondency. The only idea that could be suggested' to rouse and give us hopes' was that there were ships at Port Jackson and that this ship might have been ordered to show herself off the island, but the commander of her not having any intercourse with us when he could so easily have done it, and without loss of time, is I think unpardonable and not worthy the character of a man but rather that of a brute.

This disappointment had a very bad effect on the working people, who now considered themselves as without a hope of relief and, the birds being scarce, impressed the idea of distress more fully on their mind. The idea of there having been arrivals at Port Jackson was encouraged by all the officers, yet it had but little effect on the lower class.

[Page 208]

7 August 1790

Saturday, 7th. At daylight a sail being seen to the southward again filled us with a sudden joy and hopes of being speedily relieved from the gloomy prospects now before us. This was the day appointed for reading the proclamation beforementioned respecting a new law and and further reductions of provisions, but it was deferred, a ship being in sight, although at too great a distance for a boat to reach her:

8 August 1790

Sunday, 8th. At 3pm a boat was sent out to the ship in the offing. The boat was scarce without the reef when they saw another ship coming close round the island and to which they went.Found her to be the Surprise transport form Port Jackson with convicts and provisions for this island, that the ship in the offing was the Justinian, also with provisions, and that the ship that passed was the Lady Juliana which ship had been cleared at Port Jackson and dispatched on her voyage to China. The Justinian and Surprise being also chartered for China, we are yet without an opportunity of being removed form Norfolk island. Besides these ships, the Neptune and Scarborough had arrived at Port Jackson and although all these arrivals were in the beginning of June and in the course of the same month, it was not judged necessary to send relief to the unfortunate on Norfolk island until the 27th July and 1st August on which days the Justinian and Surprise left Port Jackson.

[Page 209]

The reason for their having been so long detained seems only to be known to our very humane Governor, who no doubt must have felt much for the distressed situation of the five hundred inhabitants on Norfolk island. If we even allow him to possess only those feeling which a reasonable being would have for a fellow creature, it is unaccountable what could have kept him from relieving us sooner. These transports, besides provisions, stores and convicts, brought out part of the Forest Rangers an independent corps raised for the protection of the colony in New South Wales.

We are informed that the Gorgon was very soon expected at Port Jackson with the new Lieutenant-Governor and the remainder of the Forest Rangers, provisions, stores etc. The marines are to be relieved by this corps and we are informed by the Governor that the fficers and company of the Sirius are also to return to England in the Gorgon.

The Guardian, a new 44-gun ship, commanded by Lieutenant Riou, which sailed from England in September '89, with provisions and stores, and very amply supplied with every necessary for the settlement, had taken a great quantity of cattle and other articles on board at the Cape of Good Hope and proceeding on her voyage, in lat. 44 south and long. 44 east unfortunately run upon a piece of drift ice from an ice island which she struck on her bow. The Ice overset and as she passed struck her abaft, carrying away the rudder and part of the stern post.

[Page 210]

In this situation, which was thought impossible for her to keep above water long, she was deserted by part of the officers and crew who, having permission, took to the boats. The long boat, in which was the master, was taken up by a French ship, which ship the Justinian spoke with. The account they gave of the Guardian was that she had foundered. This circumstance induced the master of the Justinian to push for New South Wales, with touching at the Cape of Good Hope, supposing the colony was much distressed.

By letters received from Lieutenant Riou we find that the Guardian was brought into the Cape and, after laying some time, was hauled on shore in Table Bay. We also hear that the Supply sailed from Port Jackson the 17th of April for Batavia, at which place a ship was to be hired to take in provisions for the relief of the settlement, that she was ordered to call at Norfolk island but not to lose more than 5 days in doing it. We conclude that the strong easterly winds, which at that time prevailed, prevented Lieutenant Ball from making the island.

The Governor has, by these ships, ordered spars for masts to be got ready against the arrival of the Gorgon, which are intended to be taken in her to England for trial at the Kings Dock Yards. The 1st lieutenant of the Sirius was sent on board on one of these ships and a midshipman on board the other to assist them with the knowledge our own misfortunes had given us of the place.

17 August 1790

The 17th. A cutter belonging to the Sirius, with Provisions and convicts in, was thrown upon the reef by a sudden surf. The boat instantly went to pieces.

[Page 211]


'Phillip & Nepean islands. Justinian & Surprise standing into Sydney Bay. 23 August 1790'

Two seamen, one convict man, three women and one child were drowned. Clearing these ships was rendered very tedious by the surf, until the 22nd. When the weather settled moderate and but little surf on the 27th, they were both cleared. The same day martial law was discontinued, the cause for which it was judged necessary being done away by the supply of provisions landed from the two ships. Whole allowance was now issued.

30 August 1790

Monday, 30th pm. The Surprise sailed for China and at 11am the Justinian. The island being now relieved and at full allowance of provisions, every public work went on in the usual way according to the directions given by Major Ross, who had a detached party about 2 miles to the westward of Sydney Bay, building huts etc. for the reception of people who were to be sent there to cultivate that part of the island.

A person who had been sent for the purpose of manufacturing the flax was settled at Cascade Bay, at which part of the island there was little else done, although by far the most eligible part for settling the hills surrounding the valley first cultivated by Mr. King, employed the other labouring people.

February 1791

[Page 212]

6 February 1791

February, 6th. At daylight a sail was discovered to the SW which proved to be the Supply from Port Jackson, at which place she had been 3 months before Governor Phillip thought proper to send her for that information so necessary for him. It was now 11 months since our misfortunes had brought us to a miserable and uncertain state and although there were ships that could have returned after relieving the island in August last, time enough to have saved the season to China, it was not thought necessary to remove the Sirius's ships company, or to have any return from the island, although the last accounts of us were that not a cask of provision was, at that time, saved from the wreck but that some had been lost in making the attempt.

The Supply made a tolerable passage to Batavia, discovered a shoal off the Coast of New South Wales north end of it in latitude 2124'S, 15924'E and passed to the northward of it. They made the east part of that land named by Mr. Shortland New Georgia and passed along the east coast of it until squally weather obliged them to leave it and steer to the northward.

They arrived at Batavia the [no date in journal] of July soon after which Mr. King sailed in a Dutch packet with dispatches for England. Lieutenant Ball took on board as much provisions as the Supply could store and hired a Dutch snow which was also loaded and sailed soon after the Supply from Batavia. She arrived safe, was cleared and ready to sail when the Supply left Port Jackson.

[Page 213]

The season while the Supply was at Batavia was very unhealthy. Several of her people died there and Lieutenant Fowell, who was sent to conduct the third vessel to Port Jackson, died on board the Supply soon after she sailed, he having been taken on board her as the only chance of saving his life when the fever attacked him. One of the midshipmen was left in his stead. The whole of the crew belonging to the Dutch vessel also died and left only the commander who had to get hands to man his vessel, a second time. They brought some account of a war between Great Britain and Spain, but by no means circumstantial or from good authority.

12 February 1791

Saturday 12th, pm. Captain Hunter, with the officers and crew of the Sirius, embarked on board the Supply and sailed immediately for Port Jackson, where we arrived the 26th.

Directions etc. for ships going to Norfolk island. Norfolk island is situated in 2903'S, 16802'E, is 5 miles in length, east and west, and about 3, north and south. Three miles to the southward of Norfolk island is Phillip island, about 1 miles in length and mile in breadth. There is a high sugarloaf peak runs up from the south side of it, which may be seen as far as the highest part of Norfolk island. Between there is a smaller island called Nepean island, about mile from the east point of Sydney Bay, which is situated on the south side of Norfolk island and where the settlement was made in March 1788.

[Page 214]

This Bay is sheltered somewhat by Nepean and Phillip islands from the E and SE winds, but the ground is very bad for anchoring, that which is clear of rocks being loose sand and coral that a ship would find it difficult to ride in a fresh breeze of wind. There is a reef of clay and coral extends along the bay which dries from ebb to flood, the outer part more than half a cable's length from the shore. Through this reef, just to the westward of the flagstaff, is the channel leading to the landing places, which is nothing but a gully through between the end of this reef which dries all the way from the east point of the bay and rocks just below the surface to the westward of it. Round this point of the reef one passage runs in through the coral reef in an angle to the flagstaff and is the safest channel, being sheltered by the point of the reef when round it and those stones which had hitherto rendered it dangerous for boats at low water being removed.

The other channel is straight in from the end of the reef, through broken parts of the coral reef to the westward of the flagstaff and in the narrowest part is not room for a 6 sand (sic) cutter's oars, which together with its being exposed to a second surf after having passed the end of the reef makes it very dangerous and it was much more so before a middle rock (which boats could not pass over at low water) was removed by the Sirius's people at the same time they cleared the other channel. There is always an outset in both passages and sometimes so strong that I have seen a boat with 6 oars several minutes without being able to get ahead.

[Page 215]

It is generally strongest just as the reef begins to be covered, or when the surf is high and beats over the eastern part of it, there being a large space of water between the flagstaff and east point within the reef, which forces itself at these times over that part of the reef that dries to the flagstaff and forms a passage to the landing place through which it runs out like a sluice.

From the knowledge I have of this circumstance, I think it but common justice to the memory of Mr. Cunningham, who was drowned in this passage, to declare that the reflection cast on him in a book published by Stockdale and said to be compiled from papers furnished by the public boards, is not only unjust, but that he lost his life using his utmost endeavours to obey the orders of Mr. King the commandant, which were an impossibility to effect, instead of not attending to them as is so shamefully and falsely represented in that publication.

There is no danger in approaching Norfolk island, or those adjacent from the sea, there not being anything laying more than a mile from the Shore. Ships coming to this island with west, south west or southerly winds scarce ever meet with an opportunity of landing in Sydney Bay on their arrival. It would be much better for a ship to wait a smooth time (which frequently happens for several days together) than to risk a boat when the surf is high at times, although smooth at intervals.

[Page 216]

In general there is landing in Sydney Bay with the wind from the south east round to the northward to west, but when to the southward of west or south east, very seldom. Sometimes the surf rises without any apparent cause. I have seen a very heavy surf when the wind has been two days off the land after its rising. When there is no landing in Sydney Bay there is generally smooth water in Cascade Bay, about a mile round the NE end of the island. The landing is on a black rock standing out from, but joining, the shore and steep too, a little to the eastward of a kind of stoney beach composed of very large stones. To this rock the boats back in. Here people and small packages may be landed, and I think the landing of provisions very practicable by fixing a derrick in the black rock, which is of sufficient base, and making a rowling way from it to the valley at the beach where the flax manufactory is carrying on and where a store could be built to receive it until it could be conveyed over to the general store.

If this was done a ship would never long be detained as she could be clearing on one side of the island or the other. Sydney and Cascade Bays are the only places where provisions or stores can be landed, but people may, at times, be landed in Balls Bay, which is to the southward of the NE point of the island. At Duncombe Bay, which is between Cascade Bay and the NW point of the island and at Ansons Bay which is situated round a point about a mile to the southward of the NW point, from either of these it would be impossible to remove stores or provisions, on account of the perpendicular hills that surround them.

[Page 217]

The ground off the north side of the island is much clearer of rocks than off the south side. A ship may lay safely and smooth with SW or S winds off Cascade or Duncombe Bay and by anchoring prevent being driven away to the eastward. There is also good anchoring ground to the NE of Nepean island, the flagstaff on with Point Hunter in 14 fathoms, mud and sand and is the only muddy bottom I know about the island.

There is a reef off the west point of Sydney Bay running SE by S from near a mile from the shore to the outer sunken rocks which, being just below the surface at low water, it always breaks, unless the sea is uncommonly smooth. The tides in general are equal each way. Flood runs to the SW by S and ebb to the NE by S. Ebbs and flows very regular by the shore and is high water full and change before 8 o'clock. The tide makes two hours sooner on the Norfolk island shore than in the stream or over by Phillip island.

We have experienced that the tides are subject to unaccountable turns, sometimes running the greatest part of the day to the SW and sometimes the contrary. Although this but very seldom happens it makes it necessary for the safety of a ship that she should bring too and lay the tide before she comes into the bay within a line drawn from the outer rocks of the reef off the west point to the south part of Nepean Island. Seven fathoms is full near enough to come to the back of the reef in the most favourable time.

[Page 218]

The SE and S winds are baffling, frequently shifting several points, particularly when close over to Norfolk Island, which should be attended to, for if a ship cannot lay up SSW the eastern tide will heave her in upon the shore. The west side of the bay is full of rocks and not safe for a ship to go farther over than to bring the two flagstaffs in one.

There is a bed of rocks to the westward of the little bay in Nepean Island and more than a cable's length from it, on some parts of which there is not more than 3 fathoms at low water. This lies much in the way coming into the bay from the eastward and makes it dangerous for a ship to go within the island unless the wind is steady and off the shore, or a strong weather tide, as there is not any safe passage between Nepean Island and the east point of Sydney Bay, the whole being a bed of rocks on several of which is only 3, and on two of them only 2 fathoms at low water and probably many more not yet discovered. I have crossed this channel several times and kept sight of the bottom all across, by which alone I was enabled to find the top of those rocks, which are so small that they might be passed over unnoticed in a boat rowing across and, keeping the lead going in the usual way, the middle is all a rocky flat of 5 fathoms with rocks or stones rising from and laying upon it.

[Page 219]

Within less than a cable of the island is the part I would recommend if a ship should be under a necessity of attempting it. The Supply has been through, but that was before any dangers were discovered in it. She was fortunate enough to pass clear of all. Going through between Phillip and Nepean Islands, take care of a reef which runs off to the eastward of the south end of Nepean Island about a of a mile to the outer sunken rock between which, and the outer part of the reef that dries at low water, is a passage with 8 and 10 fathoms through which a ship may go, but unless pressed I would recommend going round it, which you do by keeping the western extreme of Norfolk Island open to the southward of Nepean Island until you open the points of Balls Bay, when you may haul round to the NE.

The marks for this outer sunken rock are the two points of Balls Bay on and the bluff on the SE part of Nepean island. Sight on with the dry reef. It breaks in bad weather and has 10 fathoms close round it. There are several ragged rocks running out from that part of Phillip Island opposite to Sydney Bay, one of which is but just above the surface and lies farther from the island than the others. They are steep too, and deep water round them. SSE mile from the west end of Phillip Island is a little rock above water, from which all round the south side of the island appears to be foul ground.

[Page 220]

There are sunken rocks off the NE point of Norfolk Island which do not always break. They lay NE from it about of a mile and 20 fathoms just without it. It is necessary to give it a good birth in hauling round for Cascade Bay. There is sounding 30 and 40 fathoms some miles round Norfolk Island. In Sydney Bay, the flood runs SW by S, ebb NE by N. On the east and west ends southward, ebb to the northward as the land lies, and on the north side nearly west and east. The flood sets strong over the NE end of Phillip Island and along by the shore as the land lies, the ebb the same over the west end.

Between the islands the tides are very strong. It flows before at full and change rises 6 or 7 feet and makes 2 hours sooner on the Norfolk Island shore than in the stream, or by Phillip Island.

A ship may water in Sydney Bay very well with small casks particularly if the island boats are used for that purpose.

Norfolk Island is a very healthy situation as will appear from there having been only 3 natural deaths since it was first settled in March 1788. The casual deaths are 2 killed by trees falling on them and 14 drowned, at which time a small party was sent under the command of Lieutenant King of the Sirius, since which time the number of inhabitants have been continually increasing by draughts from Port Jackson and in March 1790 the Lieutenant Governor, with 2 companies of marines and 200 convicts, were sent there, and Lieutenant King removed. After the Sirius was wrecked, the number of people on the island was 507 and in August following, 200 more were sent from Port Jackson.

[Page 221]

The soil is in most parts good and by those who are judges, from having been long used to farming, said to be capable of producing anything. The ground has been much infested with the caterpillars which run over it, clearing all before them, and particularly this last season, when the crops were scarce seed corn for the ground.

The pines which are in size equal to any in the world, are said to be, by the carpenters, of very bad quality. Not having any terpentine in the tree [they] will never be fit for masts. What little terpentine they have is between the bark and the tree. The body of the tree has a moisture like water all through it, which makes it very heavy and when that water is drained from it, they think the wood of no substance. However we have cut down and left there a top mast and topsailyard for a 74 gun ship, a 32 gun frigate, and a sloop of war, and a rough spar ready to be taken to England for trial as ordered. In getting those 7 spars, 34 trees were cut down, 27 of which proved defective. It makes good plank for flooring, etc.

There are several other kinds of wood on the island, a great variety of the fern tree and great quantities of the palm cabbage.

[Page 222]

The birds, which so providentially afforded us subsistence from March until August, when relief arrived from Port Jackson, cannot again be expected for some years, from the vast number of eggs and young birds that were destroyed and the ground in which they burrowed being torn up, but for a small number of inhabitants the birds may always be a resource in case of accident happening to a ship with supplies or other failure.

I do not think that fish can ever be considered as a resource to trust to, from the danger and difficulty of getting them and the scarcity of them in the winter season, during August, September.

October and until the latter end of November, we did not get fish, the boat returning several times without one and whilst the Justinian and the Surprise were about the island from the 4th to the 30th of August there was not a fish caught on board either of them, although they tried on every side of the island. They are very plenty in the summer season, mostly of the snapper kind. Many sharks are met with and during the months of July and August several whales were about and between the islands. The number of people on Norfolk Island after we embarked were as follows;

Officers, marines and free people  93
Men convicts                      227
Women convicts                    245
children of ditto                  62

Total                             627

[Page 223]

The ground cleared at Norfolk Island when we left it was 130 acres, from the best accounts I could get, including gardens, private and public. Tobacco thrives very well as does the plaintain and sugar cane. The vines were just beginning to bear this season. The ground is certainly capable of producing everything usually found in the same climate and although the crop of corn belonging to the public failed the last season, there were some remarkable fine crops on the ground belonging to some of the officers who had followed the same plan as had been at first adopted, which was not the case with that belonging to the government. However, the whole of that failure is laid to the caterpillars.

The island is very well watered, except just at the west and north west end, and there, in the summer season, the runs or streams are quite dried up. At all the other parts of the island it has never failed. It rises from springs in different parts of the island, one of which takes its course through the valley first cleared and empties itself in a little bay formed by the east part of Sydney Bay.It passes under ground and forces itself up through a hole in the rocks (which dry at low water) a fathom deep. Neither Phillip or Nepean Islands have any water on them, from which circumstance and the great difficulty of landing on them, they are of no other use to Norfolk Island than that of breaking the sea from Sydney Bay in SE or E winds. The whole three taken together do not contain more that 16 square miles which is but a small spot for the purpose that government have sent so many people to.

[Page 224]

A table for the surf at the landing place in Sydney Bay, Norfolk Island, showing the days of good landing and those of high surf to prevent it, between 19 March 1790 and 12 February 1791

[Table not reproduced — see original journal.]

[Page 225]


'Governor's House at Sydney, Port Jackson, 1791'

It was the 22nd before we made Lord Howe Island, which we passed 15 leagues to the northward of, at which distance the land joining the two mountains is just seen. We had very unsettled weather, arrived at Port Jackson the 26th, where we found the Dutch snow laying, and that there had not been any arrivals from England since those ships that arrived last June, chartered for China, in consequence of which, and having been particularly disappointed at not yet seeing the Gorgon who was to have sailed immediately after those ships, the Governor had detained the Dutch snow and entered into a contract with the master of her to carry the officers and crew of the Sirius to England.

We found that the natives had lately become familiar, several of them staying chiefly in the camp, and at the Governor's. Bennelong had, sometime since, made his escape and joined his old friend, Colbee, and other companions. Early in September the Governor, hearing that Bennelong and Colbee had been seen in Collins Cove in the northern arm, went down there and, after passing some time in the most familiar and friendly manner, was suddenly wounded with a spear, the particulars of which occurrence I take from Lieutenant Waterhouse who was present at the time and saw the whole transactions. His words are:

[Page 226]

On Tuesday, 7th September ultimo, I went down the harbour with the Governor and Captain Collins to the look out post at the South Head at which place the Governor marked out the ground and gave directions for building a column, or landmark, for ships coming in from the sea, and was returning up the harbour when a boat that was coming up from Collins Cove (after having landed a party who were going to Broken Bay) made signals to speak with us. On their coming up, the coxswain informed the Governor that the gentlemen going to Broken Bay had had a long conference with Colbee and Bennelong in Collins Cove, that they had enquired for every person whom they knew and particularly for the Governor, that Bennelong had sent him a piece of whale and said he would return with the Governor if he would go down to him. In consequence of which the Governor went immediately to the look out post, it being the nearest place, and got everything that he thought would be acceptable and frunished themselves with 4 muskets and a pistol [and] went down into Collins Cove. In our way down we found that only two of the muskets could be fired, both of which were loaded, as was the pistol. When we got into Collins Cove, we saw several natives assembled round a fire opposite to a whale that had been thrown ashore. The Governor stood up and asked (in the native tongue) where was Bennelong. He [Bennelong] answered immediately that he was there. He [the Governor] told him that he was the Governor, his father, which name Bennelong had desired to call him by, while living with him.

[Page 227]

The Governor, after desiring Captain Collins and me to stay by the boat and have the muskets ready, stepped out and advanced up the beach with his hands and arms open. They did not seem much inclined to come down, however the Governor persevered and followed them into the woods until out of our sight and had a parley with some of them, One of whom (found afterwards to be Bennelong) repeatedly called him Governor and Father, after which and having shook hands together, the Governor returned to the boat and took a man up with him with some wine, beef and bread and some presents. On his holding up the bottle, one of them called out wine and repeated several English words. Two of them came forward and received the things and one of them drank some wine. In a short time the Governor came again to the boat, told Captain Collins what he had done, but that Colbee or Bennelong was not there, and asked Captain Collins to walk up with him, desiring me still to remain by the boat. As they went up I frequently heard a man on the right of them call out Bennelong, and told him of something he had observed as we kept the boat on her oars, which might reasonably occasion some mistrust as the same precaution was observed when they were forcibly taken away and in the same cove where the boat was now laying. Shortly afterwards a man came to me, said that Bennelong and Colbee were there, and that Bennelong had enquired for me and that the Governor desired that I would come up, which I immediately did.

[Page 228]

On my getting up the bank I perceived several of the natives on each side and eight or ten in the front all armed with spears, except Colbee and Bennelong with whom the Governor appeared to be in earnest conversation. I went up to them, but did not know Bennelong until he was pointed out to me. I then recollected him very well and we shook hands. I asked him several questions alluding to circumstances that had happened while he lived with us, which he perfectly understood and both him and Colbee asked me several. Bennelong, at the time the Governor was up, had a remarkable good spear, which he asked for. Bennelong either could not, or would not, understand him but took the spear and laid it down in the grass, during all which time perfect harmony subsisted. The natives appeared now to be closing round us, of which the Governor took notice and said he thought we had better retreat. There were then 19 armed men near us and many more that we could not see. The Governor then assured Bennelong he would return in two days and bring with him the clothes he used to wear and 2 hatchets, which they are remarkably fond of, one for Colbee and one for himself, with which they seemed much pleased and often repeated it that it might not be forgot. Just as we were going, Bennelong pointed out and named several of the natives that were about us, one in particular to whom the Governor presented his hand and advanced towards him, at which he seemed frightened, and seized the spear that Bennelong had laid down in the grass and immediately threw it with great violence.

[Page 229]

All those who were near retreated with great precipitation. The spear struck the Governor, entered the right shoulder and went through about 3 inches, just behind the shoulder blade, close to the back bone. I immediately concluded that he was killed and supposed there was not a chance for any of us to escape. I turned round to run for the boat as I perceived Captain Collins running that way and calling to the people in the boat to bring muskets up. The Governor also attempted to run, holding the spear with both hands to keep the end off the ground, but owing to the length of it, the end took the ground and stopped him short. I suppose it was 12 feet long. He then begged me, for God's sake, to haul the spear out, which I immediately stopped to do, when I recollected that I should only haul the barb into his flesh again which we knew to be an inch long. I then determined on breaking it off and bent it down for that purpose, but owing to its length could not do it. I then bent it upward but could not break it. Just at this instant another spear came and grazed the skin off between the thumb and forefinger of my right hand. I own it frightened me and I believe added to my exertions, for the next sudden jerk it broke short off. Spears were then flying very thick, one of which I perceived fall close at Capt Collins feet as he was speaking to the boat crew. The Governor then fired a pistol which, with a musket that was fired by the sailors who had then got between the natives and us, enabled us to get down to the beach.

[Page 230]

The Governor was lifted into the boat, he being very faint. Captain Collins soon joined us with the boat crew, when we put off, and got up to Sydney within two hours, when the surgeons who were immediately sent for made us all happy by confidently assuring the Governor there were not any fatal consequences to be apprehended. The spear was then extracted and in 6 weeks he was able to get about again.


There are different opinions as to Colbee and Bennelong being accessary to this assault, which I cannot but mistrust was the case. However they were afterwards encouraged to come up to the camp, which was soon effected and now they are chiefly about the Governor's House with many more of their friends. Bennelong has a house built for him on the east point of Sydney Cove which he and his companions frequently visit. Notwithstanding this apparently friendly intercourse I cannot think they are to be trusted, from their having so frequently attacked those who they thought were not provided with fire arms and surprising and murdering some who had muskets. In one instance, soon after our arrival from Norfolk Island, Bennelong and his friends behaved very well in swimming off to a boat that had overset just off Sydney Cove. They brought the people, boat and everything belonging to her safe ashore and helped them to repair the boat and launch her again.

[Page 231]

Bennelong's sister and two children (who she swam to shore with) were in the boat when she overset. The Governor and those gentlemen who attend to the getting a vocabulary of the native language have made considerable progress in it, but many of the customs of these savages yet remain doubtful as to the cause.

March 1791

While we were at Port Jackson, I went with the Governor and a party to Bennelong's house on the east point of the cove to see a dance, according to previous notice given to Bennelong, who had assembled many of his friends for the purpose of entertaining us. They began soon after dark, having several small fires for the purpose of giving light. They placed us in a ring within which they were to perform. Their music was that of a man beating two sticks and singing to it and some of the women who did not dance, accompanied the music by beating on their thighs with the hollow of their hands. The dance began with the little boys and then the men joined in. They danced a variety of figures, all of which were observed to have regularity and good order in them, so much that if any of the fires were in their way they danced through them. The number that danced were 24 men, women and children. There were several more there and plenty of spears laying by them. After entertaining us about an hour and they supposed we were going, Bennelong asked if we would have one more dance, which was agreed to, and we then parted, several of the children returning with us.

[Page 232]

I also went to Rose Hill, of which I can say but little. The soil does not go any depth. A few inches in many parts goes into a perfect sand and it is but in small patches in any part that the soil is a foot deep. The return got from the last crop only bore the proportion of 5 to 2 that was sowed, which is only 2 for one. It is the opinion of some that it never will produce good crops of corn. The quantity of ground cleared at Rose Hill this 9th March, is

Land cleared for corn, 213 acres
Land for buildings, gardens etc., 80 acres
Area in three parks, 121 acres

Total 414 Acres

But it is to be observed that the trees are only cut down and removed, and the ground cleared and turned up with the roots of the trees remaining in it, that all the labour is with the grubbing hoe and spade. The plough cannot be used until the ground is more effectually cleared. There has been several excursions made into the country, all of which serve but to furnish as many proofs of the sterility of the inland parts of the County of Cumberland. The other parts of the coasts or country have not yet been examined.

Having an opportunity of getting a satisfactory account of His Majesty's Armed Vessel, the Bounty, from Lieutenant Bligh's letters to Governor Phillip, giving an account of their proceedings and loss of the said ship by being piratically taken possession of.*

[Bligh's account begins at page 233, after this account, relating to timber.]

In the Journal, the following section appears at this point:

[between Pages 232-233]

Account of the different kinds of Timber and the use it is fit for, in Port Jackson

No. 1. Gum Tree. The gum very dark; the wood white; fit for little but the fire, but very good for that.

2: Iron Wood. No gum in it; grows very tall and large all about; but near Rose Hill in particular; fit for large beams, girders, etc.; a very good timber for such large uses though very hard to cut and to work.

3. Corkwood. Called so because the bark is like cork; grows near the sea side, just within the harbour; none inland, not even so far as Sydney; it is a very good timber though very scarce; no gum in it; the largest that has been seen was about 2 feet diameter; fit for almost any purpose, but for boats and for light boarding in particular, such as doors etc.

4. The Peppermint Tree: So called because the leaves taste strongly like peppermint and give an oil, much like the oil of peppermint; would make very good and handsome furniture, but has not been at all used by us in buildings, because it does not run sufficiently long before it branches; there is some gum in it.

5. The Tea Tree. So called because a little of the leaves being put into the native tea gives it a pleasant spicy taste; works very easy and smooth; more fit for furniture than anything else; they are mostly unsound, though no gum in them.

6. The Swamp Mahogany: Grows in, or close to swamps; some of it turns out very good timber and perhaps all would if not very old; fit for furniture, or framing, such as doors etc.; the largest to be found is about 18 inches diameter; no gum in it to damage it at all.

7. The High Ground Mahogany: Grows on higher ground; is best wood for furniture of any in the country; it runs to about 2 feet diameter and sound; fit for doors, wainscots, door frames, etc.

8. Brown Barked Gum Tree: Exceeding good timber for large uses; grows in the kangaroo ground and about Rose Hill; to the height of 80 to 100 feet without a branch; some have been cut which were 9 or 10 inches diameter at about 80 feet from the base and quite sound; it is fit for very large beams etc., boards for flooring, door frames and for every use in common; no gum to hurt in it.

9. Blue Barked Gum Tree: But little different from that last mentioned, and nothing inferior in respect to size or use.

10. Turpentine Tree. So called because a very small quantity of a kind of turpentine is found between the bark and the timber; the largest from 3 to 4 feet in diameter at the base; fit for any kind of building uses, board, flooring etc.; no gum in it.

11. Pine Tree: So called for no other reason than that the leaves nearly resemble those of the pine tree; very good framing timber; also for laths, shingles, flooring etc.; no gum in it.

12. Honeysuckle Tree: Called so because it bears a flower which contains a great quantity of honey; Grown in sandy and rocky ground; has been used particularly for staves and felloes of wheels, wheelbarrows and some boards etc.; does not often grow to more than 10 to 12 feet high and from 1 to 2 feet diameter; very crooked; no gum in it.

[Page 233]

Account of the Bounty by Lieutenant Bligh

Bounty Armed Vessel:

I introduce here among my general memorandums, as it in some degree relates to the new colony and public service.

Cape of Good Hope, December 20th 1789

Sir, Having been so unfortunate as to lose His Majesty's Armed Vessel Bounty, I have transmitted to you an account of the failure of the voyage I had the honour to be entrusted with and also a description list of the pirates. I passed through Endeavor Strait in the latitude of 1030'S, between the Prince of Wales's Islands about which are a number of dangerous shoals. I saw but a few islands to the northward of me and I have reason to think that a tolerable fair passage may be found through to the westward about the latitude of 1000'S. I was to have explored this strait, which I should have done from the side of New Guinea. Coupang, in Timor, lies 12 miles to the NE of the SW part of the island in latitude 1012'S, longitude by my account 12545'E, but by the Dutch 1215'E. It is a safe and convenient road and affords good water which can be conveniently got. Other supplies are doubtful, but what cattle they can spare are tolerably good. It is a pleasant village situated on the sides of a fine river. The resident with four other people in the civil department and about 30 soldiers are the whole of the Europeans. The northside of the island is the most eligible way for a ship to come from the eastward. One ship trades here for the Dutch East India Company and is not allowed to lie in the road before the 10th of March.

[Page 234]

In April the easterly monsoon is set in and continues until the middle of October or beginning of November. The wind is however a little variable until December when the west monsoon is steady with rains as the east monsoon is in May with fine weather. The island Pamow gives good anchoring places in the west monsoon. Oranges, limes, breadfruit, fine coconuts, nancas, karambolas and other fruit are to be got at Timor. The horses are small and but few sheep or goats. No more rice or Indian corn is cultivated than is used. They have the mountain rice which does not require any more water than the common rain. There are some Portuguese settlements on the north part of the island, who are, from report, a very miserable set of people. I have thought it my duty to say so much of Timor as it is a place but little known and lies eligible for a stopping place if Endeavour Strait is found a safe route for shipping.

[Page 235]

To Captain Phillip, Commander In Chief,

Signed W.Bligh.

Botany Bay


Lieutenant Bligh's account of the Bounty.

Lieutenant W. Bligh presents the following account of the loss of His Majesty's Armed Vessel Bounty, unto His Excellency Arthur Phillip Esquire, etc. etc. etc.

On the 23rd of December 1787 I sailed from Spithead with H.M.S. Bounty under my Command for Otaheite, there to take on board the breadfruit plant for the West Indies. The burthen of the ship was nearly 215 tons; her extreme length on deck 90ft. 10in. and breadth from outside to outside of the bends 24ft. 3 in.; a flush deck and a pretty figurehead of a woman in riding habit. She mounted 4 four pounders and 10 swivels and her complement was:

1 Lieutenant and Commander, 2 master's mates, 1 gunmen mate,
1 master, 2 midshipmen, 1 carpenters mate, 1 boatswain, 1 clerk,
1 sailmaker, 1 gunner, 2 quartermasters, 1 armourer, 1 carpenter,
1 quartermaster's mate, 1 carpenter's crew, 1 surgeon,
1 boatswain's mate, 1 corporal, 24 able seamen

Total 45, one of which is a widow's man.
There was likewise a botanist and his assistant.

On the 23rd. of March 1788, I doubled Staten Land and attempted to make my passage round Cape Horn between the latitudes of 59 and 61, but I met with such dreadful tempestuous weather and high seas with hail and snow storms, that although I tried 30 days I could not accomplish it.

[Page 236]

I therefore, (as my people were getting ill and as I had the honour to have the most discretionary orders to do as I thought best for the voyage) determined to bear away for the Cape of Good Hope on the 23rd of April and repassed Staten Land the next day. On the 24th of May I anchored in False Bay and, having refitted and completed my stores and provisions, I sailed on the 1st of July, arrived at Van Diemen's Land 20th of August and after wooding and watering, I sailed from thence the 4th September.

On the 19th September, after having passed the south part of New Zealand, I discovered very dangerous rocky islets, never known before. They extend 3 miles east and west and 1 north and south. They lie from the traps off the south end of New Zealand, S89E, 146 leagues latitude of them in 4744'S, 17909'E. Called them Bounty Isles. I arrived at Otaheite the 26th of October and remained until the 4th April 1789, when I sailed with 1015 breadfruit plants and many other fruit kind, in all 774 pots, 39 tubs and 24 boxes. Observed in Totourah harbour, 1731'30"S, 21031'37"E. I anchored at Anamocka the 24th April and left it the 26th.

On the 28th a, little before sunrise, Fletcher Christian, who was mate of the ship, and officer of the watch with the ship's corporal, came into my cabin while I was asleep and, seizing, me tied my hands, assisted by others who were also in the cabin, all armed with muskets and bayonets. I was now threatened with instant death if I spoke a word.

[Page 237]

I, however, called for assistance and awakening every one, but the officers who were in their cabins were secured by centinels at their doors, so that no one could come to me. The arms were all taken possession of and I was forced on deck in my shirt with my hands tied behind my back and secured by a guard abaft the mizzen mast, during which the mutineers expressed much joy that they would soon again see Otaheite.

I now demanded of Christian the cause of such a violent act, but no other answer was given but hold your tongue sir, or you are dead this instant and, holding me by the line which tied my hands, he often threatened to stab me in the breast with a bayonet he held in his right hand. I however did my utmost to rally the disaffected villains to a sense of their duty, but to no effect.

The boatswain was ordered to hoist the launch out and while I was kept under a guard abaft the mizzen mast, the officers and men not concerned in the mutiny were ordered into the boat. This being done, I was told by Christian, Captain Bligh, your officers and men are now in the boat and you must go with them, and with the guard they carried me across the deck with their bayonets presented on every side. When making another effort, one villain said to the other, blow his brains out. I was at last forced into the boat and we were then veered astern, in all 19 souls. I was at this time 10 leagues from Tofoa the NW most of the Friendly Islands.

[Page 238]

The boatswain and carpenter, with some other, whilst the boat was alongside, collected several necessary things and water, and with some difficulty a compass and quadrant were got, but arms of no kind, nor any maps or drawings of which I had a valuable collection. The boat was very deep and much lumbered and in this condition we were cast adrift with about 28 gallons of water, 150 lbs of bread, 30 lb of pork, 6 quarts of rum and 6 bottles of wine. The day was calm, attended with light breezes and I got to Tofoa by 7 o'clock in the evening but found no place to land, the shore being so steep and rocky:

On the 30th I found landing in a Cove on the NW part of the island and here I remained in search of supplies until the 2nd of May when the natives, discovering that we had no fire arms, they made an attack upon us with clubs and stones, in the course of which I had the misfortune to lose a very worthy man (John Norton, quartermaster) and most of us hurt, more or less. Getting into our boat was no security, for they followed us in canoes loaded with stones, which they threw with much force and exactness. Happily, night saved the rest of us.

I had determined to go to Amsterdam in search of Poulahow, the King, but taking this transaction as a sample of their natural dispositions, there was little hopes to expect much from them, for I considered their good behaviour hitherto as owing to a dread of our fire arms and now, knowing that we had none, would not be the case and that supposing our lives were safe, our boat and every thing would be taken from us and thereby I should never be able to return.

[Page 239]

I was also earnestly solicited by all hands to take them towards home and when I told them no hopes of relief remained for us but what I might find at New Holland, until I came to Timor, a distance of 1200 leagues, they all agreed to live on one ounce of bread per day and a gill of water. I therefore, after recommending this promise forever to their memory, bore away for New Holland and Timor across a sea but little known and in a small boat deep loaded with 18 people, without a single map of any kind and nothing but my own recollection and general knowledge of the situation of places to direct us.

Unfortunately we lost part of our provisions, our stock now only consisted of 20 lbs of pork, 3 bottles of wine, 5 of rum and 150 lbs of bread and 28 gallons of water. I steered to the WNW, with strong gales and bad weather, suffering every calamity and distress.

I discovered many islands and at last on the 28 May, the coast of New Holland, and entered a break in the reef in latitude about 1250'S and longitude 14500'E. I kept on in the direction of this coast to the northward, touching at such places as I found convenient, refreshing my people by the best means in my power. These refreshments consisted of oysters and a few clams. We were greatly benefited by them and a few good nights rest. On the 4th of June I passed the north part of New Holland, steered for Timor and made it on the 12th, which was a happy sight for every one, particularly several who perhaps could not have existed a week or a day longer.

[Page 240]

I followed the direction of the south side of the island and on the 14th, in the afternoon, saw the island of Rotty and west part of Timor, round which I got that night and took a Malay on board to show me Coupang, where he informed me the Governor resided. On the next morning before day I anchored under the fort and about 11 o'clock I saw the Governor who received me with great humanity and kindness. Necessary directions were instantly given for our support and perhaps a more miserable set of beings were never seen. Thus happily ended, through the assistance of Divine Providence, without accident, a voyage of the most extraordinary nature that ever happened in the world. Let it be taken in its extent, duration and so much want of the necessaries of life.

The people who came in the boat were

John Fryer. Master
Thomas Haywood. Midshipman
Lawrnce Leebogue. Sailmaker
William Cole. Boatswain
John Hallett. Midshipman
Robert Tinkler. Able Bodied [Seaman]
William Peckover. Gunner
John Samuel. Clerk
John Smith. Able Bodied [Seaman]
William Purcell. Carpenter
Peter Linklater. Quartermaster
Thomas Hall. Able Bodied [Seaman]
Thomas D. Ledward. Acting Surgeon
John Norton. Do., Killed at Tofoa
Robert Lamb.Able Bodied [Seaman]
William Elphinstone. Master's Mate
George Simpson. Quartermaster's Mate
David Nelson. Botanist

The secrecy of this mutiny was beyond all conception, so that I cannot discover that any who were with me had the least knowledge of it, and the comparing this with the description list will show the strength of the pirates.

[Page 241]

I remained at Timor until the 20th of August when I sailed and arrived at Batavia the 1st of October, from whence I sailed in a Dutch packet on the 16th of October and arrived at the Cape of Good Hope 16th of December.

Signed W Bligh.
Lieut Commander.

Description list of the pirates remaining on board His Majesty's Armed Vessel Bounty on the 28th of April. 1789.

Fletcher Christian. Master's Mate. Aged 24 years. 5ft. 9in. high, very dark complexion, dark brown hair, strong made; a star tatooed on his left breast; backside tatooed; a little bow legged; he is subject to a violent perspiration in his hands, so that he soils anything that he handles.

George Stewart. Midshipman. Aged 23 years. 5ft.7in. high, good complexion, dark hair, slender made, narrow chested and long neck, on his left breast is tatooed a star and also one on the left arm on which is likewise tatooed a heart with darts, tatooed on the backside, very small features.

(Drowned when the Pandora was lost.)

Peter Heywood. Midshipman, aged 17 years, 5ft. 7in. fair complexion, light brown hair, well proportioned, very much tatooed and on the right leg is tatooed the legs of a man as the impression of that loin is, at this time he had not done growing. He speaks with the Isle of Man accent.

(Condemned Sept 18, 1792. Recommended for mercy. Pardoned 27 July [Oct] 1792)

[Page 242]

Edward Young. Midshipman aged 22 years. 5ft. 8ins, dark complexion and rather a bad look, dark brown hair, strong made, has lost several of his fore teeth and those that remain are all rotten, a small mole on the left side of the throat and on the right arm is tatooed a heart and dart through it, with EY underneath and the date of the year 1788 or 1789. We are not sure which.

Charles Churchill. ship's Corporal. Aged 30 years, 5ft. 10in. fair complexion, short light brown hair, baldheaded, strong made, the forefinger of his left hand crooked and the hand shows the marks of a severe scald, tatooed in several parts of the body.

(Made a Chief at Otaheite and murdered by Matthew Thompson at Otaheite.)

James Morrison, Best Mate, aged 28 years. 5ft. 8in. sallow complexion, long black hair, slender made, lost the use of the first joint of the forefinger on his right hand, tatooed with a star under his left breast and a garter round his left leg with the motto, Honi Soi, Qui Mal y Pense, has been wounded in one of his arms with a musket ball.

(Condemned 18 Sept. 1792 and recommended for mercy. Pardoned 20 October 1792.)

John Mills. Gunners Mate. Aged 40 years. 5ft. 10in. fair complexion, light brown hair, a strong raw boned man, a scar in his right arm pit occasioned by an abscess.

John Millward. Able Seaman, aged 22 years. 5ft. 5in. brown complexion, dark hair, strong made, tatooed under the pit of the stomach with a taoomy or breast plate of Otaheite.

(Condemned 18 September and executed 29 October 1792.)

Matthew Thompson. Able Seaman, aged 40 years. 5ft. 8in. very dark complexion, short black hair, slender made, has lost the joint of his great toe on the right foot, is tatooed.

(Killed by the natives and offered as a human sacrifice by the Otaheiteans for the murder of Churchill.)

[Page 243]

William Mickoy. Able Seaman, aged 25 years. 5ft. 6in. fair complexion, light brown hair, strong made, a scar where he has been stabbed in the belly, a small scar under his arm, is tatooed.

Matthew Quintal. Able Seaman, aged 21 years. 5ft. 5in. fair complexion, light brown hair, strong made, very much tatooed on the backside and other places.

John Sumner, aged 24 years, 5ft. 8in. fair complexion, brown hair slender made, a scar upon the left cheek and much tatooed.

(Drowned when the Pandora was lost.)

Thomas Burkitt, aged 26 years, 5ft. 9in. fair complexion, very much marked with the small pox, brown hair, well made and very much tatooed.

(Condemned September 18 Executed 29 October 1792.)

Issac Martin, aged 30 years, 5ft. 11in. sallow complexion, short brown hair, raw boned, tatooed on his left breast with a star.

William Muspratt, aged 30 years. 5ft. 6in. dark complexion, brown hair, slender made, very strong, black beard, scarred under the chin, tatooed in several places.

( Condemned September 18 1792. Remanded for the opinion of the 12 judges, 27 October 1792. Pardoned 10 February 1793.)

Henry Hilbrants. Aged 25 years. 5ft. 7in. fair complexion, sandy hair, very strong made, his left arm shorter than his right having been broke, is an Hanoverian and speaks bad English. He is tatooed in several places.

(Drowned when the Pandora was lost.)

Alexander Smith. Aged 22 years, 5ft. 5in. brown complexion, brown hair, strong made, pitted with the small pox, very much tatooed, scar on his right foot.

[Page 244]

John Williams, aged 25 years. 5ft. 5in. dark complexion, black hair, slender made, a scar on the back part of his head, is a native of Guernsey, speaks French, is tatooed.

Richard Skinner, aged 22 years, 5ft. 8in. fair complexion, light brown hair, very well made, scars on both ankles and on his right shin.

(Drowned when the Pandora was lost.)

Thomas Ellison, aged 17 years, 5ft. 3in. fair complexion, dark hair, strong made, got his name tatooed on his right arm and dated October 25th 1788.

(Condemned 18 September 1792, executed 20 October.)

William Brown, Botanist Assistant, aged 27 years, 5ft. 8in. fair complexion, dark brown hair, rather slender made, remarkable scar on one of his cheeks which contracts the eye lid and runs down to his throat, occasioned by the king's evil, is tatooed.

*Michael Byrne, aged 28 years, 5ft. 6in. fair complexion and is almost blind, plays the fiddle, has the mark of an issue on the back of his neck.

*Joseph Coleman, Armourer, aged 40 years. 5ft. 6in. fair complexion, grey hair, strong made, a heart tatooed on one of his arms. This man declared publicly to me when I was in the boat that he knew nothing of the transaction and begged of me to remember he told me of it, and that he was kept against his consent.

*Thomas McIntosh, Carpenter's Crew, aged 28 years, 5ft.6in., fair complexion, light brown hair, slender made, pitted with the small pox.

*Charles Norman, Carpenter's Mate, aged 26 yers, 5ft.9in. fair complexion, has a remarkable motion with his head and eyes. The two last are likewise deserving of mercy.

(*Acquitted — September 18 — 1792 —)

Signed. W Bligh. Lieutenant Commander

In the Journal, the following section appears at this point:

[between Pages 244-245]

The mutineers, after turning Captain Bligh adrift, made sail and steered for the island Tubai, at which place they had determined to fortify and settle themselves, but on their arrival, found themselves destitute of almost every necessary towards effecting their purpose. It was then agreed to go to Otaheite for those necessaries, making the best story they could to deceive the natives, in which they succeeded by telling that they had been at an island, where they had met their old friend Captain Cook, (who they had supposed was dead) and that he had kept Captain Bligh and all those who were with him, at Tubai, and sent Mr. Christian with the ship for what supplies they could grant.

They readily believed the story and were so overjoyed at hearing that Captain Cook was alive and again in that part of the world, that they furnished Christian with everything he wanted and even gave them a bull and cow. With these they again all went to Tubai and went on with every success towards settling; but soon quarrelling among themselves, Christian lost his authority and nothing was done. He then took their opinions, the majority of which were for going to Otaheite, to which place Christian carried them and afterwards left the island with the remainder and some natives of Otaheite and which is the last account gained of Christian by the Pandora.

Those who were left at Otaheite, built a schooner in which some of them had embarked under the direction of Morrison, the boatswain's mate, but soon, losing confidence in him, they again returned to Otaheite, where Churchill was made a chief by the natives and killed by Thompson in a quarrel, the consequence of which was that the natives killed Thompson and offered him up as a human sacrifice according to the custom used among them.

The people found at Otaheite by the Pandora and taken, together with the Schooner, were:

Peter Heywood. Midshipman.} Condemned 18 September 1792 and pardoned 27 October 1792
J. Morrison Boatswain's Mate.} Condemned 18 September 1792 and pardoned 27 October 1792
J. Millward.} Condemned 18 September 1792, executed 29 October 1792
T. Burkitt.} Condemned 18 September 1792, executed 29 October 1792
T. Ellison.} Condemned 18 September 1792, executed 29 October 1792
W. Muspratt.} Condemned 18 September 1792, respitted 27 October 1792, pardoned 10 February 1793
M. Byrne.} Acquitted 18 September 1792
Jos. Coleman.} Acquitted — 18 September. 1792
T. McIntosh} Acquitted 18 September 1792
C. Norman.} Acquitted 18 September 1792
G. Stewart. Midshipman.} Drowned when the Pandora was lost
J. Sumner.} Drowned when the Pandora was lost
H. Hillbrant.} Drowned when the Pandora was lost
Ro. Skinner.} Drowned when the Pandora was lost

Remained in the Bounty

F. Christian. Master's Mate.
E. Young. Midshipman.
J. Mills. Gunner's Mate.
W. Mickoy.
M. Quintal.
J. Martin.
J. Williams.
W. Brown.

[Page 245]

March. 1791 (cont.)

22 March 1791

March 22nd. The Supply sailed for Norfolk Island with a detachment of the New Corps to relieve the same north of the marines. A native boy who had been living sometime with the captain commanding this detachment embarked with him and was much pleased at the idea of the voyage. He is the first who has had confidence and courage enough to go to sea.

27 March 1791

Sunday 27th. Captain Hunter, officers and crew belonging to the Sirius embarked on board the Waczaamheydt Dutch snow and sailed down the harbour but, the wind failing, we anchored just within the Heads. His Majesty Armed Tender Supply was now the only vessel left in the colony.

The state of the numbers of people in the settlement is as follows:

Governor                   1
Staff                      8
Commissioned officers     14
Civil                      6
Non commissioned officers 24
Free men and women        16
Surgeon's mate             1
Men convicts             789
Drummers                   8
women convicts           203
Privates                 164
Children of ditto.        50
Wives of soldiers         36
Natives                    6
Children of ditto.        59
At Sydney and Rose Hill 1385                              1385

Soldiers on their passage to Norfolk Island and officers    24
A surgeon's mate and (8) 10 settlers from the "Sirius"      11
At Norfolk Island as before specified                      627
March  26th, 1791 -- Total                                2047

[Page 246]

List of births, marriages etc., since leaving England.


On the passage   15 |  0    | 44
Sydney          105 | 110   | 246 Of which 17 were hanged
Rose Hill         6 |  10   |   8
Norfolk Island    0 |   0   |  19 Of which 2 were killed by trees
                                  falling on them and 14 drowned.

28 March 1791

On Monday the 28th March we sailed out of the harbour with a light land breeze. As we stood off shore we saw the column, or landmark, on the South Head, to the distance of 6 leagues. Yet I think a stranger who did not exactly know where to look for it would not discover it at more than half that distance, except coming along the shore from the southward.

April 1791

We were to have called at Norfolk Island in our way to the northward, but were so unfortunate as to be driven to the southward 2 degrees by a series of contrary winds and bad weather, which prevented our making any progress to the northward until the 14th of April when the wind came to the south and, hauling round to the south east and east as we approached Norfolk Island, forced us 20 leagues to leeward of it when we crossed its parallel. This circumstance, together with that of the wind appearing to be steady and fixed at east, it was determined not to lose time in endeavouring to beat up to it, but proceed immediately on our voyage, intending to pass to the south and east of New Caledonia, but the wind continued so far to the east that, on the 23rd [April], we made the Isle of Pines and could not weather it.

[Page 247]

We stood off for the night, and in again at daylight and, finding that we could not get to windward of it, we bore away at 9 o'clock to run to the westward.

24 April 1791

Sunday, 24th. Standing along by the shore passed 5 low islands which seemed to be encircled by a reef. At past 2pm we hauled off without the outermost land then in sight, about 4 breakers were seen to the S by W and soon after to the SW and more to the west and seemed to be connected, having some small islands within it. We now discovered that we had mistaken the Isle of Pines for Queen Charlotte's Foreland and that we had got into the bight between the Isle of Pines and the shoals to the SW of it, the wind and a great swell setting right over them. Our situation was very dangerous;

We continued all night to work the ship with a great press of sail to keep her to windward, in which we succeeded so well as to be able to stretch along the reef at daylight and passed the south extremity of it at 10am at 3 miles distant. Near the south extremity is a considerable opening and smooth water within it, over which the reef was seen to the NW as far as the eye could reach from the masthead.

[Page 248]

We did not see breakers close home to the foreland, but some small islands showing themselves between it and the breakers which we saw, gave us reason to suppose that it is one extensive reef from that land running about SE by S 32 miles to the south extremity round which we passed, and lies from the highland of the Isle of Pines SW by S W by compass 29 miles and is in 2300'S, 16717'E, according to our longitude corrected. It is a very dangerous reef and appears to be on considerable breadth. The SE trade appeared steady with which we steered to the northward, giving the west side of New Caledonia a reasonable birth.

29 April 1791

On the 29th the trade* freshened into a gale with very squally weather in 2039'S, 16218'E, and continued, sometimes blowing very strong with much rain,

[*trade = trade winds. Wikipedia]

May 1791

5 May 1791

until the 5th May in 1156'S, 16358'E, at 8pm it suddenly fell calm and variable, light airs. After which we had moderate breezes with frequent squalls and variable winds. We passed between Queen Charlotte's Islands and the land discovered by Lieutenant Ball in the Supply last year without seeing either.

Our longitude when we passed the parellel of Gonont Island was nearly the same as Captain Carteret had fixed [for the] west coast of that island to lie in, our longitude being determined from observations taken some days before and after. I am inclined to think the error is likely to be with him and that he has placed them too far to the westward. How much is impossible for us to say, but it was observed that nearly about passing the parallel of those islands we had every indication of land being very near us to the eastward.

[Page 249]

9 May 1791

Monday 9th at 7 am. Saw land to the WNW which had the appearance of being an island. Soon after saw another to the eastward of it. At 9 bore away and stood towards them. At 10 saw 2 more islands and at noon another came open with the island first seen. they are very small islands, 5 in number, forming an irregular figure that 11 miles would circumscribe. We saw broken water between some of them but passed at too great a distance to ascertain whether they are all connected by a reef or not.

From our latitude we at first supposed this land to be Careteret's Island but we were soon satisfied that it could not be, from the extent of this little group and, to be more clear, we stood to the northward for Gower's Island and not meeting with it convinced us that this was a new discovery. The middle of the group is in 826'S, 16307'E by observation of the [sun] and [moon] taken the preceding day. They lie N14E, 50 leagues from the eastmost point of Ball's Maiden Land (discovered by him in the Supply last year). They are covered with trees of the palm and coconut and some large trees on one of them. We did not see the least appearance of inhabitants. Just to the northward of these islands we found a ripling like a race, through which we passed in a few minutes.

[Page 250]

12 May 1791

We steered from these islands WNW with a fine steady eastly wind and on Thursday 12th at 9am saw breakers on the starboard bow, immediately after which, saw the sea break nearly in the ship's wake, which shoal she must have passed over very close, the water being exceedingly smooth until near 9 o'clock it did not break when the ship passed it and it was but seldom that it did break afterward. Those on the bow were a continual foam of broken water and it appeared to be sand banks by the colour of the water round them. At half past 10 we were abreast of the northmost at 3 miles distance, when more breakers were seen on the larboard beam and abaft it, in two detached shoals. We could not clear these, or the others before seen, by hauling our wind on either tack. We therefore stood on our course and passed clear through.

How far they extend NE and SW we could not ascertain, their extent NW and SE is 7 miles by our run and the breadth of the channel through which we passed is 8 miles from shoal to shoal. We could not get any soundings 130 fathoms in passing through. The middle of this channel which is called Waakzamheydt Passage, from the name of the ship, lies in 652'S, 16106'E by [sun] and [moon], and is situated N52W, 51 leagues from the little group of islands discovered on the 9th. They are very dangerous shoals. Those to the northward of us broke in 6 detached parts and those to the southward in 2, one of which was an extensive range of broken water. They appear to be but little below the surface, steep too, and no part dry.

[Page 251]

14 May 1791

Steering on the same course WNW on Saturday 14th, at daylight. Saw land from NW to SE, appeared to be several islands. At 6, thirty two, including rocks above water, were counted from the masthead. At 7 there were 20 distinctly seen, small, low and well covered with trees. The largest island is about 4 miles in length east and west. Our course carried us along nearly parallel to them. At 9 another island was seen to the NNW of the westmost of those first seen. Some rocks were seen above water, but as we did not pass nearer than 9 miles we could not determine whether any of them were joined or surrounded by a reef:

About 10, we saw 6 canoes with sails coming from different parts of the land towards us. We still kept on our course, so that it was noon before any of them came up with us and then only one canoe with 9 people in it. They came close to the ship, but would not come on board. Some nails, beads etc. were thrown to them and they in return threw back pieces of coconuts. They were tall and stout. One of them was painted red over the face and appeared to be a chief or leading man. they were not provided with anything for trade, nor had they any weapons with them. Their hair, or long wool, was tied close upon the head as is the custom in many parts of the East Indies. They either had not any beards, or were close shaved.

[Page 252]

They wore ornaments round their necks, arms etc., the chief of which appeared to be hair plaited with bone and shells made fast to the ends. They wore ornaments also through the nose, and which we took to be hair plaited or twisted and put through on both sides so as to hang down as low as the lips. On the ends of some of these were fastened pieces of shells in imitation of teeth. They appeared to be very friendly disposed and wanted us to go to the islands. They were naked except for a piece of matting round the waist. Some of the gentlemen on board observed that they were tatooed but I noticed nothing but the marks of paint or dirt on any of their bodies.

The canoe I take to between 30 and 40 feet in length, very narrow, with an outrigger. The sides consisted of two planks laced or sewed together and brought to a point at both ends rather inclining downwards than rising. They use single paddles and have a lateen sail. They were about half an hour with us and some of the others close up when, the breeze freshening, we left them. These islands have every appearance of supplying the inhabitant very plentifully with the necessaries of life.

It is probable that these islands extend farther to the eastward, as the eastmost of those we saw was on the quarter and 7 leagues distant. When the first were seen at daylight, those which we saw and determined the situation of, extend from 518'S to 529'S and from 15914'E to 15936'E, by [sun] and [moon]. Variation of the compass 800'E.

[Page 253]

These islands lie NW by W 44 leagues from the shoals which we passed through [on] the 12th and might afford relief to any who may be so unfortunate as to get on those shoals, provided they could escape with their boats or otherwise, if the ship could not be removed. Whether this is a new discovery, or part of those islands seen by an American vessel bound to China in 1787, I am doubtful.

A great quantity of our water having leaked out owing to the badness of the casks we were furnished with at Port Jackson made it absolutely necessary that we should recruit it. We therefore steered for Cape St. George intending to water at one of the ports in the strait between New Britain and New Zealand that Captain Carteret had visited. We found the eastly winds very weak at this time.

14 May 1791

Wednesday 18th. At half past 8am saw land, which was soon discovered to be low islands covered with trees and from our situation they were the south easterly most of the 9 islands mentioned by Captain Carteret. At the same time we saw high land to the SW which had every appearance of forming a strait between the land discovered by Mr. Ball in the Supply and New Georgia of Lieutenant Shortland. We stood for the islands until within 3 miles of the southmost and then along by a reef which ran off W by S from it and seemed to surround the other islands in sight.

[Page 254]

They extend north 5 miles and WNW 8 miles from the southmost of them. The reef seemed to be a sandy spit with some rocks on it and dry in many parts and in one place between the southmost and westmost of these islands, just round the point of the spit along which we passed, there was an opening seen and the appearance of deep water and good shelter within it. We saw several of the natives on the dry sand and some canoes came out and made towards us, but the breeze freshening, they could not come up. These islands are small and have a beautiful appearance, being covered with coconuts and other trees, with sandy beaches to the water side.

19 May 1791

Thursday 19th. We steered W by S and WS along by the shore of New Georgia at the distance of 10 or 12 leagues, and which had the appearance of being islands. At 2am we passed the western extremity of the land seen at sunset at 5 leagues distance, sounded frequently 130 fathoms no ground. At 5am saw Sir Charles Hardy's Island, bearing N2W 5 leagues and land which had the appearance of being an island, S48E 6 leagues, which we conclude is the land mentioned by Captain Carteret, Winchelsea Island, and appears by our run and the angles taken, to be the same land we passed at 2am and had much the appearance of being a projecting point of the main land. When to the east of it, it is very high, running out to the northward in a low sandy point on which the sea breaks very high.

[Page 255]

We did not see any land to the southward of it. At 5am had several very good observations for the longitude by the moon and Aquila*, from which the latitudes observation, this and the preceding noon's, I fix the following places.

["by the moon and on Aquila"? -- Aquila: a constellation in the northern hemisphere represented by the figure of an eagle.]

[Table not reproduced — see original journal]

20 May 1791

Friday, 20th. At 6pm saw Cape St. George bearing N80E 7 leagues and the north extreme of New Ireland N26W. Hitherto, we had not met with any current to speak of, but this night bringing too off Cape St. George we were carried to the southward out of sight of it. At 6 am we again got sight of it and, the wind being favourable, we steered right in for it. Cape St. George, by our observations, is in 451'S, 15315'E which is only 6 miles to the eastward of that given in the New Requisite Tables and 56 miles to the east of Captain Carteret's [Island?]. We also found nearly the same difference between Captain Carteret's account of the 9 islands, Sr. Charles Hardy's and Winchelsea Islands.

[Page 256]

21 May 1791

Saturday, 21. The wind southerly with light breeze. AM stood for Gower's Harbour, but had so light a breeze the tide or current carried us so far to the westward, that when a fresh sea breeze came in from the SE by S we could not fetch it, but stood in for the land to leeward of it.

22 May 1791

Sunday, 22nd. At 2pm bore away for Carteret's Harbour, which port we unfortunately overshot. Having missed both harbours, we stood for the NW along the shore in hopes of finding a watering place. At 8 it fell calm and continued so with variable light airs until 2am the next day when a breeze sprung up from the SW and enabled us to get the length of the east point of the Duke of York's Island. Whilst we were thus becalmed, we did not observe a NW current setting through, but an equal tide as much one way as the other, and the same on both shores. We sent the boat along the shore of New Britain, Cape Bulbes and Cape Palliser to look for anchorage but they did not find any.

23 May 1791

Monday, 23rd am. At daylight, being off the NE part of the Duke of York's Island, sent the boat to examine the coast on the north side of it and look for water. Following with the vessel, the boat was met by a great number of the natives in their canoes. They were very friendly and exchanged some coconuts for pieces of iron hoop. Our people gave them 2 kegs to fill with water, which they returned with to them in a few minutes. They were very numerous all along the shore, walking along as the ship passed and the canoes accompanied the boat.

[Page 257]

We did not find anchoring ground until near the NW part of the island, where we followed the boat into a very fine cove where we anchored at noon in 25 fathoms. Natives very numerous and friendly. Some of them came on board.

24 May 1791

Tuesday, 24th pm. An officer was sent on shore to look for the watering place; found one in the SE bend of the cove. The natives were very numerous and all armed with spears, clubs or slings and nets full of stones. They walked into the water to meet the boat as we landed and seemed quite familiar, but as our party was going up into the wood with them they were met by an old man who insisted that they should return to the beach. This old fellow, appearing to have the control of the multitude and seeming to be much displeased, it was judged best to return on board. They all came to the waterside with us, the same as on our landing.

Soon after the boat returned, two guns were fired from the vessel into the woods. This occasioned those natives who were on board to jump overboard instantly and all the canoes pulled to the shore. Great numbers of the natives had assembled on the beach, several of them blowing a white powder out of their hands which appeared like smoke. This seemed to show displeasure and a degree of defiance. It was observed that the men who did it always advanced on the beach and blew it off towards the ship.

[Page 258]

Some of them in canoes, in passing the ship, did the same. They were blowing conchs and making a great noise all night and it appeared by their frequently calling to each other at different stations that they kept a look out upon us. At daylight, an armed party was sent on shore with the waterers and armed boat, to lay off and cover them. They found the natives troublesome and seemed to be much disposed to quarrel. They blew off the white powder in several of our people's faces.

25 May 1791

Wednesday 25th pm. The natives still continued to be very troublesome and at length threw some stones which struck the armed boat, on which a firing began from the boat and armed party on shore and several guns with round and grape were fired from the ship into the woods in different parts of the cove. The natives instantly fled, and when any of them came in sight they were fired at by the armed party, which effectively kept the watering place clear.

AM. At daylight we weighed and warped the ship over towards the watering place and moored with a hawser, head and stern, to keep our broadside to bear both on the watering place and that part of the beach where the natives had assembled. We fired some guns with round shot into the woods before our party landed. They were not the least interrupted. Many of the natives left this cove with their canoes, whilst others came in from the westward offering coconuts and, by signs, gave us to understand that it was not them that had behaved ill.

[Page 259]

No notice was taken of them. They soon went leisurely out of the cove. In all, parties of them were seen about the cove but not one appeared near the watering place.

26 May 1791

Thursday, 26th. In the evening, as soon as our people had left the shore, several of the natives came down on the beach near the watering place, with green boughs in their hands and unarmed, bringing coconuts and showing every sign of their earnest wishes to make peace. Others brought coconuts, plantains etc. and laid them down on the beach in two heaps and on the top of each was put a young dog with its legs tied. As soon as the boats came off, one of them was sent with an officer to receive their peace offering, and establish friendly intercourse with them;

On the officer's landing, he was presented with two long boughs about which were several plaited lines, made fast at the top and about half way down the stick, the bight hanging slack. When these were received they expressed great joy and immediately shouting a kind of song brought everything to the boats that had been laid in the two heaps on the beach and the two little dogs. In return they had a dog and bitch spaniel given to them, with which they were much pleased and, shouting a song, retired in small parties.

[Page 260]


'Port Hunter, Duke of York's Island, May 1791'

In the morning several of them came to the watering place but unarmed. They brought coconuts with them for our people and so much afraid of giving offence that they would scarce move or speak for some time without observing the countenances of our people to see if they were pleased. Several canoes came about the ship but very few coconuts or other useful articles could be procured. Some spears, slings etc. were exchanged for mere trifles. Iron they do not value.

27 May 1791

Friday 27th. The water being complete soon after noon, I had the boats to survey the cove. Having occasion to land near the water place, we were met by a great number of the natives who presented the bough the same as yesterday and then carried several coconuts to the boats. We returned on board about sunset and had only time just to survey the cove, without examing further to the westward, than to see that there was another cove and the appearance of a very good harbour round the west point of it.

AM. At daylight, sent the boats for a turn of water to fill all up. This morning several women came in canoes to the ship, which was now entirely surrounded by the natives of all descriptions, but very few useful articles were exchanged. At 9, a breeze springing up from the SE, weighed and stood out of the cove. The master of the transport, with his own officers, now took charge of navigating the vessel and of the respective watches, which had hitherto been done by Captain Hunter and the officers belonging to the Sirius.

[Page 261]

We were very unlucky in not having an opportunity of getting any observations for the longitude. We therefore determined it from those taken off Cape St. George, 15237'E, by observation. At anchor 408'S this cove lies within a mile of a small woody island forming the NW point of Duke of York's Island and is very convenient for a ship to stop at, coming through St. George's Channel, off the east point of the Bay, half a cable's length, is a reef of rocks running out from the shore, after passing which there is no danger. The soundings in the bay are 20 and 25 fathoms, muddy bottom by the lead, but the people fishing brought up several large pieces of coral rocks. There is another cove just round the west point of this which has good anchorage in it, and to the SW of that there is every appearance of a fine harbour.

Although we only got a few coconuts and yams, we saw that the island produced breadfruit, plantains, bananas, mangoes and several other fruits, very fine sugar cane, beetle nuts, the wild nutmeg, coconuts and yams in great abundance. They have hogs, dogs and poultry among them but we could not procure any of either. The men in general are stout and well made, long woolly hair and beards which most of them keep covered with a powder that appeared to us to be made from burnt coral. It is white when first used but the heat of the sun turns it to a reddish brown and in time takes great part of the hair off. the women that we saw were very diminutive and ugly.

[Page 262]

Both sexes go quite naked. They have a variety of ornaments which they wear chiefly about the neck and round the arms, consisting of bone, shell and the teeth of some animal. They are of very different complexions, some being quite black and others not darker than the malays. They appear to live in society, their huts being many of them close together. They have enclosures for their plantains etc. but as not one went into the country we only conjecture that it is in most parts cultivated and from the very robust appearance of the men, they no doubt live in plenty.

Some of the gentlemen planted indian corn, garavances, peas, pumpkins, melons and made them understand that the produce from them was good to eat, and the corn particularly so for their poultry. Their huts are not above 5 feet high with a small door and without any window. The floor is hard clay and very smooth and before each hut is a small clear plot. Their weapons are spears, clubs and slings, with which they throw stones. Spears and clubs they have a great variety of and appear to be used in close fighting. The sling is made of flax neatly twisted, each part about 4 feet long, of the size of a small fishing line. These are made fast to a kind of basket, 3 inches long and 1 broad, in which they put the stone. They carry nets filled with stones about with them they fish with spears, nets which are very neatly made and strong.

[Page 263]

They also use hooks and lines. We did not observe any of their spears, either for fishing or fighting, to be barbed. They show great ingeniousness in the workmanship of their canoes, weapons etc. being all neatly carved and ornamented. The bottom of the canoe is hollowed out of a tree, on which is a streak of 9 inches or a foot very neatly and securely on each side and brought to a point at both ends, on each of which is fixed (not very firm) a kind of ornamental prow, turning abruptly up, inclining inwards and coming in a curve to a point. They are of different lengths from 12 to 30 and 40 feet and none more that 16 inches in breadth. They have an outrigger which is neatly but not firmly fixed. The paddles are single blade which is broad and with which they row very fast. They are ornamented with carve work and paint. We did not observe that any of them used a sail.

28 May 1791

Saturday, 28th. Wind at SE, steered to the westward along by the shore of New Ireland at about 12 leagues distant. At 8am saw Sandwich Island, the latitude and longitude of the south coast of it I fix from observation, and bearing at noon, east point 258'S, 15026'E, west point 256'S, 15006'E.

29 May 1791

Sunday, 29th. At 3pm passed the western end of Sandwich Island. At 5 leagues distance, the length of the island east and west is 21 miles and does not appear to be more than 4 or 5 north and south. the coast of New Ireland is about 5 leagues from the north side of it.

[Page 264]

This island has every appearance of being equally fertile with Duke of York island, and considerably larger. There does not appear to be any danger about the shore, which seems to promise good shelter for shipping. We did not see any canoes. I suppose our distance and being directly to windward prevented their coming out to us. At 5 saw the west part of New Ireland and the islands laying off it and New Hanover, which we passed in the night at 7 leagues distance.

AM. At 5 saw the Portland Isles from N by W to NW and passed them steering W by S by compass at the distance of 4 miles from the southmost of them and which appeared to be near the middle of the group. It is situated in 238'S latitude. We saw 9 islands, all small and covered with trees. They extend east and west from 14910'E to 14906'E. It is necessary to observe that, from the constant cloudiness of the weather, those places since passing Cape St. George, which we have determined the situation of as near as circumstances would admit, may be liable to some error.

We found St. George's Channel a very clear good navigation and affords refreshments to those passing through without much loss of time. We found a regular tide until the length of Sandwich Island, where we found a strong westerly current which appeared to alter its direction to the northward between New Hanover and New Ireland.

[Page 265]

We did not see the appearance of any shoal all through the channel, nor could we ever get sounds, but just off and in the cove where we anchored. The shore of New Ireland is very mountainous and appears to be but thinly inhabited. New Britain is moderately high, covered with trees, appears to be cultivated and very full of inhabitants. Near the north point of New Britain are three hills or mountains, called by Captain Carteret the Mother and Daughters, from one of which a vast column of smoke almost constantly issued. We found the winds variable between Cape St. George and Sandwich Island.

30 May 1791

Monday, 30th. Squally unsettled weather. At 7am saw an island to the NW. At 9 saw 2 more, which at noon we discovered to join and form one large island.

31 May 1791

Tuesday, 31st. Moderate and fair weather. At 3pm saw a canoe with a sail standing out from the island first seen, but the ship being to windward, and a fresh breeze, we soon lost sight of her. At 4 this island bore north 7 miles, from which I fix its situation 219'S, 14752'E. It is about 1 miles in length and has a very beautiful appearance. The shore towards the west end, off which lies a reef, is rocky cliffs and to the eastward and top of the hills it is covered with trees, with some open patches delightfully green on the sides. As we stood on to the westward we saw another island. The wind being from the southward, [we] could not weather the large island. We brought to for the night and at daylight found ourselves nearly in the same situation as when we brought to.

[Page 266]

Many other islands were seen bearing from S25W round to the westward and northward to N23E, and the island we passed yesterday bore north 80E, 15 miles. Some canoes came off from the large island. At 8 we were within 4 miles of it and nearly calm. The canoes came near the ship but would not come alongside. I take them to be about 30 feet in length. They had a platform, or stage, in each, in the midships, which went out some distance on the outrigger on the larboard side and projected with a rising over the starboard side. There were people on these stages, besides those who paddled. The greatest number I saw in one canoe was 5 on the stage and 6 at the paddles. One of those on the stage had evidently the command of the canoe. They had bows and arrows with them, but we saw nothing hostile in their manner.

We had reason to suppose they had been visited before, from their signifying to us by signs that they wanted to exchange some things with us and one of them went regularly through the motions of shaving himself. These people were ornamented with shells and bones in rings round their arms and hanging about their necks. They had something about their waist which was supposed to be bow strings. The man who we supposed to command had his hair tied on the top of his head and was painted on the face and breast.

[Page 267]

They were near half an hour about the ship. A fresh breeze springing up from the southward with rain, they left us. We steered to the westward to get through between some of the islands but finding them very thick in that direction and some shoals showing themselves, we bore away to the NW for a passage between two islands that appeared to be clear.

June 1791

1 June 1791

Wednesday, 1st June. Modest breezes and showers of rain. PM. at 1, passed through between two of the islands (had no soundings) and saw a very extensive island to the westward. We steered WNW for the eastmost part of it and at daylight found it to be the NE point of a very large island, the north coast of which lay nearly east and west as far west as the eye could reach from the masthead. We did not see the appearance of any islands or rocks laying off the northward of it. The wind shifting to the WSW prevented our ranging along the shore. The extremes of this island seen, and some of the other islands, are determined by the latitude observed and longitude corrected, as follows.

[Table not reproduced — see original journal]

There are several islands laying to the ENE of these, the tops of which were only seen from the mast head.

[Table not reproduced — see original journal]

[Page 268]

This land comprehends a very extensive and beautiful country to appearance, and is divided into a numerous cluster of small islands, besides two of considerable extent, both of which appear to afford shelter for a ship. They appear to be full of people and are a part of those islands named by Captain Carteret, Admiralty Islands. He passed to the southward of the large island and did not see those which we sailed through, in passing to the northward.

3 June 1791

Wednesday, 3rd am. Saw 3 islands through which we passed and by angles taken, and the ship's run, I fix them in 133'S, 14534'E; 051'S, 14617'E; and 044'S, 14554'E. They appeared high but of no considerable extent.

6 June 1791

Monday, 6th. Crossed the line in 14448'E, longitude, variation of the compass, 500' easterly.

July 1791

12 July 1791

From this time to the 12th of July we had variable light breezes and a strong easterly current, which we found by lunar observations. Had set the ship 1021'E of the log in that time, sometimes going at the rate of 40 miles per day and at other times less. This very unfavourable circumstance, and with every prospect of its continuance, occasioned a consultation to determine what was best to be done.

[Page 269]

It was the general opinion that it was absolutely necessary that we should make the best of our way to Macao in China, circumstanced as we were with respect to provisions, which as now [had] become very short.

13 July 1791

The wind being at SW, we bore away on the 13th and steered to the northward. AM At 9, saw land. It appeared to be an island bearing N by W. Soon after, we saw 2 other islands to the NW by N. As we approached the first, we found that they were all three connected by a reef and dry sand bank, extending 7 miles in nearly a WNW direction and 3 miles in breadth. The eastmost of these woody patches, which at first appeared to be seperate islands, is about a mile in length and lies in 806'N, 14030'E, deduced from lunar observations taken two days before and 2 days after.

The two westmost patches are very small and close together and lie in 808'N, 14023'E. It breaks very heavy upon the sand all round, except just to the eastward of the two woody patches on the northside of the sand, where there appears to be a small opening. We passed the east point of this island at about 3 miles distant. Saw several of the natives come out of the wood to the beach, but did not see any of their canoes or habitations. We had an amazing number of birds and fish about the ship and many bonettas were caught.

[Page 270]

14 July 1791

Thursday, 14th.The wind hauling round to the east and northward we could not pass to the eastward of a group of the New Carolines which were near. We therefore ran close along to the southward of them, but it being thick rainy weather we did not see any of them until the 18th, when we discovered land and which proved to [be] the westmost of the Caroline Islands. At Noon they were seen to be 3 islands and a rock above water. The north part of the middle island, which is the largest and has some high land upon it, lies in 935'N, 13739'E, by observation of the moon and [stars]. At 10 the following evening, they are well covered with trees of which we had but an imperfect sight as we passed at 19 miles distance from the nearest;

19 July 1791

At half past 4, when the largest island bore S13W per compass, 24 miles, we came suddenly over a ledge of rocks, saw the bottom very plain and had 15 fathoms, but I think we were in less water before the lead was hove. This ledge appeared to extend to a considerable distance both to the north and south of us in a N by E and S by W direction. We stood on our course NW by W and in about 10 minutes had no soundings. I suppose it to be 2 or 3 cables length in breadth and every appearance of deep water round it. There was a considerable swell and had it communicated with the islands in sight, I think we should have seen breakers between us and the shore, of which there was no appearance all round.

[Page 271]

These islands are called Ladda in the old charts and are to SW of the groups called the New Carolines. It was now judged more eligible to alter our route and, instead of going to Macao, to go for the Port of Manilla. We accordingly shaped a course for Cape Espiritu Sancto.

24 July 1791

At the entrance of the channel leading to it, the wind favoured us until Sunday the 24th in 1157'N, 13127'E, when it came to the northward and then round to the westward with squally weather.

26 July 1791

The 26th. It increased to a strong gale with which we kept on the tack that would keep us most in with the land. The gale blew with great violence until the 29th with very heavy squalls. The weather cleared up with SSW wind and continued with moderate weather and a few squalls between SSW and W, of which changes we took every advantage, to get in with the land.

August 1791

3 August 1791

On the 3rd of August we found that the observation gave a degree to the southward of the log for the last two days and we saw the looming of the land to the westward.

We were in this situation 45 leagues from Cape St. Espiritu Sancto bearing N70W of us. The wind settled at SSW and SW, blowing a steady fresh gale, and although the strait leading to the port of Manilla was to leeward of us, and at so short a distance, it was now determined to beat to windward along the east side of St. John's and Mindanao and make the passage through the Strait of Macassar, which had before been deemed impracticable at the time that Macao [was] at first determined on.

[Page 272]

As we came near the east cost of the Phillipine Islands, found a strong southerly current which set from 25 to 50 miles per day, wind S and SW.

4 August 1791

Thursday, 4th August. Saw land to the WSW but at too great a distance to ascertain what part it was. We had variable light airs and calm all night. At daylight saw the land again to WSW, of considerable extent. We stood in W by N. I take the northmost part of this land to be the N or NE point of the island of St. John, stretching out to the northward in a low point from very high land.

This point, by our observations, is in 930'N, 12630'E, which situation nearly corresponds with the Dutch East India Directory but not with ours. We continue to work to the southward with great success. The current setting is more than 1 knot per hour to the southward. The weather was hazy and clouds hanging heavy over the land prevented our having a good view of it and ascertaining any of the projecting points or bays that may be there. A few miles to the southward of the NE point of St. John's is the appearance of an island laying near the shore and shelter behind it.

6 August 1791

Saturday, 6th. Had some good observations of the [sun] and [moon] from which, and the latitude at noon, I fix the situation of a projecting point running out to the northward and appeared to form a bay behind it, 741'N, 12628'E. We were abreast of it at 6 leagues distance. The north extreme of land then in sight bore NNW a low point, and the other Extreme S by W, high land.

[Page 273]

7 August 1791

Sunday, 7th. Clouds hung so heavy over the land that it could not be distinctly seen. Wind from the S by E to SW. Found the current had set us 51 miles to windward, these 24 Hours. At noon could just discern the land through the haze to the WSW.

8 August 1791

Monday 8th. Stood off to the SE until 8pm, then tacked and stood to the westward and at 6 am saw an island with a remarkable peak on it and low land to the westward. At noon it bore ESE 7 leagues from which I make its situation 533'N and longitude by ship's run from [sun] and [moon] yesterday 12635'E. Suppose it to be the island called Palmas in the old charts. Found the current had set us 32 miles to the southward these 24 hours.

9 August 1791

Tuesday 9th, am. Saw land to the WNW. We had light breezes from SSW to WSW. At daylight saw the south point of Mindanao and the islands laying off to the southward of it. The SE point then bore N2W, 9 leagues. Had very good observations of the [sun] and [moon] in the afternoon and of the [stars] on the opposite side in the evening. I fix the SE point of Mindanao (or middle point between that south point and Cape St. Augustine) in 600'N, 12549'E and Cape St. Augustine from Captain Carteret's run, 612'N, 12630'E. We did not find any current these 24 hours. The land of the south coast of Mindanao is very high, running down to those parts which appear to be projecting points and terminating in land of moderate height.

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10 August 1791

Wednesday, 10th. Moderate breezes with fair weather, wind southerly. We gained but little to the westward. AM at 9, finding that we could weather the islands, we bore away for a passage between the two eastmost of them, but on seeing breakers in the passage we stood back until the boat was got out and went ahead, when we followed her through.

11 August 1791

Thursday, 11th. Found the passage a very good and safe one, the reefs on both sides showing themselves and the depth of water 20 to 13 fathoms, rocky near the reef and muddy in the channel through which we passed. There is a reef laying some distance off the east side of the middle island along parallel to the shore which, being near the surface, always shows itself. There is also a reef laying half a mile or more from the eastmost of the islands running out to the ENE from it. The sea breaks very heavy on it and some of the rocks are above water. Several of the natives appeared on the middle island and retired as we approached.

We stood to the westward and tacked occasionally, as the wind favoured most. About 5pm, standing over for the largest of these islands, called by Captain Carteret Hummock Island, saw 2 canoes or boats coming towards us, with white flags which was answered by our hoisting a white flag at the ensign staff. One of them, a canoe, came alongside before dark, asked many questions concerning the vessel and her destination, and informed us that the Raja lived on the south side of the largest island, which they call Loorongo,

[Page 275]

and that he was appointed by the Dutch East India Company, from Ternate, to govern at these islands, the Dutch having established a trade with them, and that their small vessels frequently came with trade from Ternate, an island on the west side of Gilolo, where the Dutch have a settlement.

They asked for a paper with the ship's name, captain's name, where bound to etc. for the Raja, which was given to them and they went away well satisfied. Having Malays on board and a native of Ternate we understood each other perfectly by conversation. they were most of them clothed with jackets, trowsers etc. and armed with a cress or long dagger.

About 8 o'clock the others, who were in a large boat, came close up under the stern, asked many questions, said that they had things to sell, but that it being dark they would not dispose of any until the morning. They said that they would show us a good anchoring place and left us, steering over for the middle island where we should have followed, had not the wind prevented us. We, therefore, stood over towards Hummock Island, or Loorongo, in hopes of getting good anchorage there. When with 1 or 2 miles of the shore, got soundings, 80 fathoms, and at noon came to in 25 fathoms sand and shells, about of a mile from the shore abreast of us on the NE side of Loorongo.

The point of that island bore S38E and N86W
The Hummock SW
The middle island S49E to N40E
The north most of the 3 islands N37E
The south coast of Mindanao from N40W to N26E, about 5 leagues distance.

[Page 276]


26a. 'NE side of Hummock Island, off southern end of Mindanoo. August 1791'
26b.'NE side of Pulo Sanguy S4E, S60W. August 1791.'

Soon after we anchored, several of the natives came on board, appeared very well disposed and traded very fairly. Most of them had cresses by their sides.

12 August 1791

Friday, 12th, pm. A boat with some people of consequence came off with a Dutch flag flying. They brought an answer to the letter sent to the Raja last night and which mentioned that we could get wood and water, goats, poultry etc. but that they had but little rice or paddy to spare. They also brought on board what they called a pass, dated 1791, from the Dutch Company, authorising the Raja to govern these islands and the vessels trading here from Ternate. Several of the natives came on board but few articles were purchased this afternoon.

The boats were sent for a turn of water and returned before dark with a raft of 14 casks. They found it a very good watering place and convenient except just at low water, when the reef dries some distance off. The natives showed where to fill the water and then retired. AM, soon after sunrise several of the natives came off bringing many useful necessaries to trade with us. Poultry, sago, tobacco, honey, wax, sugar cane and various fruits were exchanged for cloth, iron, buttons, knives etc., in all which they dealt very fairly and honestly.

[Page 277]

Watering went on very well. Many of the natives brought fruit etc. to trade to the watering place and exchanged with our people for what things they had to give them. Our party on shore were not armed any part of the time.

13 August 1791

Saturday, 13th. The Raja came on board. He was saluted with 3 guns, as was the second in command when he came, and on their leaving the ship they were saluted by with a volley of small arms from the poop. An armed party having been previously stationed there in case these people might show any hostile intentions, which not appearing in the smallest degree, the muskets were discharged as a salute.

The Raja promised to come the next day and bring a sufficient quantity of rice and paddy for all our people. He had a present of a piece of silk given him by the master of the vessel. He was on board about an hour, in the course of which time he showed a paper signed by Captain Vanholm, Commodore of the State's Ships then employed in India, appointing him the King of these islands. Many useful necessaries were procured this day and 10 bags of paddy on the public account. AM. At daylight when the boat was towing a raft of casks on shore it came on to blow very fresh from the WSW by which several of casks were lost and we were prevented from completing our water.

[Page 278]

14 August 1791

Sunday, 14th, pm. It continuing to blow fresh from the WSW, it was judged necessary to go the sea before night with what water and refreshments we had procured. About 5 o'clock the Raja came on board, according to his promise, but instead of bringing the articles he mentioned yesterday, he only brought 20lb of rice, on which the commander of the vessel remonstrated and told him that he had broke his word and I have reason to think threatened him with confinement until those things were brought. He having declared that to be his intentions, but as their conversation was in the Malay language, what passed could not be well understood by us farther than by their actions.

The instant words arose which I supposed to be threats, an old man who stood near drew his cress, and would have immediately stabbed the commander of the vessel had not the Taja prevented him. The Raja then went to the ship's side, where his boat was, and several of his people coming in with their cresses drawn, he made a stand as if he meant an attack, but by this time several of the officers were armed and all hands coming aft with handpikes, capston bars etc. they made a very precipitate retreat throwing themselves over the quarter into their boat and some into the water. They immediately cut the boat adrift, the Raja himself, after throwing a spear into the ship, took an oar to endeavour to get the boat away from us.

[Page 279]

She was scarce astern of us when a strong party was collected on the poop at small arms, who kept up a very smart fire on them for some time. Every ball going through their awning of slit bamboo into the boat, great execution must have been done the whole of them except the Raja and one man being in the body of the boat, some were seen to fall in attempting to get to the oars and we have great reason to think that the Raja fell at one of the oars.

Some great guns were fired when they had got a little distance off, but only the grape shot struck the boat, the round shot going over her. The boat belonging to the ship was at this time returning from the shore with some goats and other articles, which one of the natives of some consequence had sent off as a present.

Our watering party were luckily all on board but unfortunately one of the Malays, who had been left to take care of some casks that had drifted on shore, was not thought of until it was too late, as there was a necessity for our going to sea immediately, night coming on, the ship having drove close to a reef and the lee tide nearly made against us and which would set us over the reef and only one little boat that we could have sent to the shore. We weighed and stood out to the eastward about 8 o'clock.

[Page 280]

The road in which we anchored is sheltered from the NE to the southward and westward to west, by the point of the island Loorongo and those laying near it. The bottom does not appear to be good holding ground as we drove without any sea setting in upon us. There is every appearance of good shelter in deep coves along the west side of the middle island, as also of as clear passage out from thence to the southward, but for want of a boat we could not ascertain either.

These islands afford plenty of goats, poultry sago, yams, sweet potatoes, honey and wax in great quantities, tobacco, sugar cane exceedingly large and fine, and all the fruits usually found between the tropics. We saw some nutmegs, but whether they got them from the Dutch or were the produce of the island we could not learn. They have turtle about these islands, the shell of which is an article of commerce. A ship might get every refreshment here, provided a friendly intercourse with the natives could be established.

Our anchorage lies in 526'N, 12512'E from a mean of 50 observations of the [moon] and [stars] on each side of her, from which and the bearings taken, I make the south point of Mindanao to lie in 540'N, 12508'E, the hummock on Hummock Island or Loorongo, 523'N, 12509'E, and the small islands the northmost of the three, 536'N, 12521'E. Variation of the compass 100'E.

[Page 281]

15 August 1791

Monday, 15th. Wind SW to south. Passed 5 islands to the westward of us, and saw more to the SW and one very large one to the SSW, before night. Between those two of the islands first seen there appeared to be a reef, but the distance we passed from the others prevented our being able to see whether they had any dangers about them. We had but little wind all night and at daylight found that the current had set us close up the islands and rocks laying about to the NW and NE of the large island.

About 11 we were set close in between two of the islands, hoisted a boat and sent her to examine the passage, and if they found it clear they were ordered to go on to the small island and try if anything was to be got there. We had drifted considerably within this island when a fresh breeze spring up. Made signal for the boat. She returned without having landed but was near enough to see several natives on the beach and that the island was covered with coconut and plantain trees and had the appearance of a little garden. Sounded 70 fathoms sand.

16 August 1791

Tuesday, 16th, pm. We had just got without this passage again when it [became] calm. We were carried along by the current to the westward, close along by the other small islands and had no soundings. About 12 the land wind came off with which we stood clear out to sea between the NW point of Point Sanguy, and an island laying about 9 miles to the northward of it. These islands, being covered with coconuts and plantains, have a beautiful appearance.

[Page 282]

We saw some canoes fishing but they did not regard us. In passing from Loorongo to Point Sanguy, we found a chain of small islands all in sight of each other. The situation of those that we saw are as follows:

[Table not reproduced — see original journal]

We had light breezes chiefly from SSE to SW and having clear weather and good observation every day for the longitude were able to determine our situation very near and found a little westerly current. We passed a great quantity of drift wood and some very large trees.

25 August 1791

Thursday, 25th. Saw the land and at noon the NW point of Celebes bore S by E, 11 leagues. The wind, when we had any, was chiefly from the SW. We had much calm and made but little progress. It was not until the 28th that we brought the NW point of Celebes to bear East of us. We then began to feel a southerly current though not very strong and considered ourselves as then entering the Strait of Macassar.

[Page 283]

From our situation at noon the last 4 days and the bearings taken I make the NW point of Celebes to lie in 119'N, 12102'E, and another point to the south and west of it and which has much the appearance of an island 109'N, 12035'E. We found the variation of the compass so trifling, that the compass would sometimes give a few miles east and sometimes west.

29 August 1791

Monday, 29th. A fresh breeze sprung up from the SSW with which we stood over towards the Borneo shore. The wind continued steady until 4am when it shifted to the westward in a heavy and sudden squall, blew strong for about an hour, and then settled in a moderate breeze at WSW, from which quarter we have mostly found the winds prevail even so far to the eastward as the New Carolines.

30 August 1791

30th at 6pm. Saw the east coast of Borneo bearing WSW 12 leagues and the Taba Island (the southmost) WNW 4 leagsues. We had then run 93 miles from the NW point of Celebes on nearly a West course, which differs considerably from Captain Carteret's run in the Swallow. At 10 am, saw both shores being then in latitude 100'N and which I take to be the narrowest part of the strait and which, by observations and bearings taken, I make 70 miles. The mountains show on both sides before you see the land of the sea coast. The wind, when we had any, was chiefly from the S to SW and sometimes light land winds for a few hours from the Celebes shore.

[Page 284]

September 1791

2 September 1791

We crossed the line September 2nd, in longitude 11925'E at 13 miles distance from an island laying under the line and close to the Celebes shore. Having light airs and calm, we made very little progress. On the 7th at noon saw a point on the Celebes shore bearing east 8 leagues, which was the southmost part of it that we saw and lies in 147'S, 11919'E by observation.

9 September 1791

The 9th. Standing over towards Borneo, at daylight saw breakers to the SW by W and an island behind them. At noon the sland bore WSW and was seen over a range of very heavy breakers, with some rocks showing above water, which I take to be the NE part of the shoals and from which we were then 3 miles. That part lays in 257'S, 11757'E. We could not ascertain the situation of the island, not knowing the distance it was at the back of the reef. It appeared to be surrounded with very dangerous shoals extending some miles both to the NW and SE of that part to which we were nearest. We had 35 fathoms sandy bottom 12 miles to the NE by E of them.

They are called the Triangles in the Dutch chart, but no notice seems to be taken of them in ours, unless they are there called the little Pater Nosters and then they are very erroneously placed. We crossed the whole of their extent in latitude in the day time 215'S to 231'S, as given by Captain Carteret at the distance of 10 to 18 leagues from the Celebes shore, without seeing anything and ran between 80 and 90 miles from Celebes before we saw the Triangles.

[Page 285]

We stood well across the straight several times between the Latitude of 1N and 2S and saw nothing of the Harig(?), Van Coe's Reef, Seven Islands, or the Little Pater Nosters, although we passed close to their intersections, as placed in the English Chart belonging to us. Nor are any of them marked in the Dutch charts belonging to the vessel, by which, and our not meeting with either of them, I think there are no such islands and shoals.

It is possible that the Little Pater Nosters, so called by Captain Carteret, may be a group of small islands and rocks laying under the Celebes shore.

We stood from the Triangles ES 35 miles and tacked, on seeing the appearance of a shoal ahead (which I believe was imaginary), and stood to the SW 58 miles, when we suddenly found ourselves in shoal water and saw the bottom very plain. We had 12 fathoms when the lead was hove and passed over a much shoaler part of it.

A dry sand bank was immediately seen from the mast head bearing NNE 6 miles, with very heavy breakers off it. The shoal over which we passed appears to be a spit running all the way from it, in an SSW direction, 6 or 7 miles. I suppose the shoal water to have extended a mile without us.

We stood on to the WSW and very soon had 20 fathoms. This shoal and sand bank is called Zealand in the Dutch charts and is not marked in our India Directory.

[Page 286]

It is a very dangerous shoal, being only a low sand bank of small extent. It lies in 335'S, 18701'E by [moon] and [stars] and bears from the Triangles S6E 38 miles. AM, at daylight saw land bearing WSWW 3 leagues which we soon discovered to be some small islands called the Brothers, laying off the large island Point Laudt on the SE end of Borneo. They bear from the shoal S84W 59 miles. After passing the spit to the southward of the sand bank we had 22 and 20 fathoms sand and mud all across to the Brothers and 17 when within 3 miles of them. They are in 341'S, 11702'E.

12 September 1791

Monday, 12th. We found that the swell and a strong indraught between Point Laudt and Borneo carried the ship in upon the shore that, laying up SW by S, we could not clear the land. We stood into 12 fathoms and then stretched off in hopes of getting out to the eastward of the Brothers again, which we could not accomplish until the 13th in the am, at noon on which day they bore WSW 16 miles so that we were again carried into the strait, after having supposed ourselves clear.

While between the Brothers and Borneo we found the sounding very regular from 20 to 12 fathoms, blue mud, at the distance of 7 to 2 leagues from the shore. The shore of Borneo appeared low and woody with many openings and some islands laying off between Point Laudt and Borneo. There is a hill which shows over the lowland and is the only high land that we saw between Point Laudt and a projecting point which we take to be the south point of Borneo, and it is a low woody point.

[Page 287]

We saw land without it to the SW which appeared to us to be islands, on one of which is two mountains or very high hills, exactly resembling each other. This was supposed by some to be the south point of Borneo. I think it doubtful which of the two is the south point, this last mentioned in 414'S, 11620'E or the low woody point beforementioned in 359'S, 11634'E.

14 September 1791

The 14th and 15th. We endeavoured to work up to the SW but lost ground, the wind inclining to the westward of south and a great swell running in upon the shore. We were then under a necessity of stretching out to the eastward as the only chance of getting far enough to the southward to weather the Brothers of south part of Borneo.

17 September 1791

We fell to the northward of the sand bank Zeelandt and, at 8 am the 17th, saw it bearing W by S 5 or 6 miles, from which I judge that we passed to the northward of it in the night at 5 or 6 miles distance, making an E by N or ENEE course from the Brothers and had from 17 to 25 fathoms across and 28 to 30 passing along to the eastward of it at 4 miles distance. The wind favouring us we stretched to the southward and had 30 fathoms at noon, the sand bank bearing N by E, 12 miles.

It is very low and appears to be just a heap of sand. We did not see anything like a bush upon it and it cannot be seen more than 6 or 7 miles from a ship's deck. There appears to be good soundings to it on all sides except the south, off which runs the spit that we passed over, and from the rocks that we then saw laying on the bottom and the irregular soundings, I think the south side should be passed with great caution and not within 7 miles.

[Page 288]

We were just a week from having passed it the first time and found the situation we had then fixed it in to correspond with our run this time from the Brothers and which is settled by several lunar observations.

18 September 1791

Sunday, 18th. At noon, in 403'S, 11748'E I consider ourselves clear of the Straight of Macasser in which we were 24 days from making the NW point of Celebes. I would not by any means recommend this passage for ships bound to the westward, the SW wind being so prevalent all through and, indeed, we found them at times as far to the eastward as St. George Channel and after passing through it we were forced to the northward of the Admiralty Islands by SW winds and after laying more than 4 weeks becalmed and swept away to the eastward by a current, the SW wind again prevailed with which we stood to the northward, had the easterly trade for a day or two in 9 latitude north and then found the SW monsoon met us again along to the southward of the New Carolines, coast of Mindanao, and through the Strait of Macasser. We saw many proas, all of which appeared to be for plunder as they never kept a steady course as if bound on any trade.

[Page 289]

Latitudes and longitudes: Stait of Maccaser:

NW point of Celebes                       119'N, 12102'E
To the eastmost part of Borneo seen by us W81W 133 miles
Taba islands southmost of them            129'N, 11917'E
lie from NW point of Celebes WN 105 miles
Land near the east point of Borneo        100'N, 11850'E
Opposite the Celebes shore                100, 12000'
A small island under the Celebes shore    000, 11938'
Southern part of Celebes seen             147S, 11919'
Triangles; NE part of the Shoals          257, 11757'
Sand bank, Zeelandt                       335, 11801'
Brothers                                  341, 11702'
Triangles to the Sand Bank.               S6E, 38 miles
Sand Bank to the Brothers.                S84W, 59 miles
Southern Pt of Borneo, Low woody point   {359'S, 11634'E
Southernmost Land; 2 remarkable hills    {414'S, 11620'E

19 September 1791

Monday, 19th, am. At 9 saw rocks under the ships bottom; sounded 10, 9, 12 fathoms; in a quarter of an hour had deep water again. Saw the shoal extend some miles to the NNW and SSE of us that to the southward appeared very shoal. That part which we passed over is in 436'S, 11719'E by [sun] and [moon] and no land in sight from the masthead

[Page 290]


'Water spouts off the coast of Java near Batavia, 24 Sepr 1791. "Waakzamheydt"'

20 September 1791

Tuesday, 20th. Saw land bearing from W by N to W by S 6 or 7 leagues, which we suppose to be Little Point Laudt. We saw a large and a small island, the SE part of which is in 453'S, 11616'E. We passed to the southward of them and had 25 fathoms, muddy bottom:

21 September 1791

Wednesday, 21st. At 12pm saw Solombo, NNW 3 or 4 miles. The soundings between little Point Laudt and it were from 25, 28, 20, 18 and 16 when abreast of Solombo, and soon after we passed in 32. I make the south side of Solombo 541'S, 11414'E by [sun] and [moon].

23 September 1791

Friday, 23rd. At saw Carimon Java bearing West 6 or 7 leagues. We passed to the southward of them at 4 or 5 leagues distance. Carimon Java appears to be a large island with 2 remarkable hills upon it, with several small islands laying off both to the eastward and westward and several rocks above water, scattered about the islands. The latitude of the middle of the south side of the large island is 551'S and longitude 11035'E. They are several miles in circuit.

24 September 1791

Saturday, 24th am. Soon after sunrise a very sudden change in the weather (which was clear and serene) took place. Clouds came very fast from over the land with several whirlpools all about, two of which passed very near the vessel. These were succeeded by tremendous water spouts which drove the water up as high as our lower mastheads in a foam all round them and, making a rapid progress along the water, two of these came very near us at which we fired 2 shot, without effect. They passed clear to leeward and in half an hour afterwards dispersed, when the weather cleared up again.

[Page 291]

25 September 1791

Sunday, 25th. At 5pm saw the land of Java W by S and the Boomkins NW 9 or 10 miles. They are two low islands laying about NNW and SSE of each other, covered with trees. There is a reef laying off to the northward of them on which is some rocks above water. We passed 8 miles to the southward of the innermost, the middle of the south side of which is in 555'N, 10837'E.

From Solombo to Carimon Java, is S8723'W, 219 miles
Carimon Java to the Boomkins, S8840'W, 118 miles
Boomkins to Carawary Point S8642'W, 87 miles

By our observations the Boomkins appear to be much misplaced in the directory, as are Solombo and Carimon Java, with respect to latitude.

26 September 1791

Monday, 26th. Passed several ships and vessels working along shore to the eastward. At sunset, saw Carawary Point S.55W, 4 or 5 leagues. The point next to the eastward of Carawang Point has some remarkable trees on it, which look like ships at an anchor and is a very good mark coming from the eastward along the coast of Java to know when you are near Carawary Point.

27 September 1791

Tuesday, 27th. at 5pm. Anchored in Batavia Road in 3 fathoms. Found several Dutch indiamen, 2 French ships and an English snow, belonging to Bombay, laying there.

Edam. N17E
Onrust N46W.
Church at Batavia S12E, 1 mile from the shore.

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28a. 'Batavia'
28b. 'Onrust' in Batavia Bay

We were 26 weeks from Port Jackson and arrived with the whole ship's company in good health. By the commander of the English snow we heard of the war in India and of the fleet fitted out in consequence of the dispute with Spain, of the Great Naval promotion, and that the Gorgon, with the Lieutenant-Governor for New South Wales, and the other ships for Port Jackson, were at the Cape of Good Hope in August last.

29 September 1791

Thursday, 29th. The vessel went to Onrust to be refitted for the voyage to Europe, and returned to Batavia the 12th October, on which day a squadron of Dutch men of war arrived.

October. 1791

15 October 1791

Saturday, 15th October. The Dutch master of the Waakzamheydt was turned out of her for insolent and other improper behaviour and his crew all previously discharged agreeable to the contract made between him and Governor Phillip. The English colours and pendant were hoisted, the ship being left to the direction of Captain Hunter. We had hitherto continued healthy but now began to feel the effects of the climate, which is certainly one of the worst in the world and had been particularly so these last 2 years. The number which have died at Batavia in that time is incredible and not to be ascertained with certainty.

[Page 293]

At Onrust, which may be considered their dockyard, where they heave their ships down and repair all defects, they have now only 200 carpenters and other artificers and labourers left out of 2,000 which were employed there 2 years ago. They have lost 1,800 on the island, besides the supplies of some few which every indiaman from Holland brings out with them for that purpose. The master carpenter told me that he was one of the only 5 European carpenters left alive there. We were told at Batavia on our arrival that the sickness was just then inconsiderable to what it had been and from what our officers saw, who lived ashore at Batavia, the mortality was then very great.

20 October 1791

Thursday, 20th am. Sailed from Batavia road but having some stores to take in at Onrust we anchored there about noon and on the 22nd at daylight sailed and stood out to the westward between Middleburg and Ontory Java. Not being able to weather the shoal point off Man Eaters Island, we anchored at noon in 4 fathoms sand and mud, the beacon on the spit bearing SW by W mile and Maneaters Island WSW. Sent the master to examine the channel, found it a very good one. We found the shoals had marks on them, but some being beacons, and others buoys we were sometimes a little at a loss but passed very well through by a Dutch chart which we got at Batavia. The next morning we weighed and stood to the westward with the land wind between Pulo Bay and Bantam Point.

[Page 294]

But not being able to weather St. Nicholas Point when the sea breeze came in, we anchored off it in 22 fathoms, the point bearing WSW 2 miles. While at anchor we found a strong westly current and at daylight weighed again, working to the SW through the Strait of Sunda.

25 October 1791

Tuesday, 25th pm. Spoke to an English ship from Bombay, bound to Batavia. By Her we heard that all was peace in Europe. A Dutch boat came on board soon after from Anger Point, with turtle etc. to sell. There was a Dutchman in her who brought a book to take an account of the ship's name etc. By examining this book for English ships that might have passed the strait lately, we found that the Leopard, Captain Blankett, with a small squadron and convoy from China amongst which were the 5 ships from Port Jackson, has passed this strait in April last. The wind fixing at SSE, we continued to work to windward through the strait, which we cleared the 26th, having Java Head ES 8 or 9 Leagues.

26 October 1791

At 6 am, the 26th, the weather became squally with rain and continued so until the 30th, in 10S latitude, when the SE trade appeared to be fixed and blew a steady fresh gale.

November 1791

1 November 1791

Tuesday, 1 November. At 3pm saw Cocos or Keelings Islands from N8W to N35W, about 5 leagues distance. At 4 the middle of them north 5 leagues from which I fix the situation of the south side of those islands 1203'S, 9820'Et by our account from Java Head.

[Page 295]

There are 3 distinct islands and some rocks above water with very heavy breakers all about them. They extend about 3 leagues east and west and are very dangerous, being so very low that they cannot be seen more than 5 leagues. We find their longitude nearly the same as given by Captain Hudson in Herbert's East India Directory but differ in latitude 13 miles. Probably he may have passed to the northward of them and given the latitude of the north side of them and, it being hazy when our observation was taken, there might be an error of 2 or 3 miles in that. We could not ascertain their extent north and south.

20 November 1791

The SE trade continued until the 20th November, between E by S and SSE, sometimes light and sometimes squally, but in general a steady fresh gale and fair weather.

18 November 1791

On the 28th it became rather variable, but chiefly from the NE to the SE and S.

December 1791

14 December 1791

December 14th at 4 am. In 3553'S, 2159'E got soundings 70 fathoms sand and mud, Cape Lagullas then bearing N5145'W, true bearing 36 leagues and had 27 west variation, from which situation we steered NW by W per compass 24 miles, NW 22 and had 53 fathoms sand and stones, then N by W 26 and had 60 fathoms coarse sand and stones then N by W 26 and had 60 fathoms coarse sand and broken shells.

15 December 1791

We then hauled in NNE at 5am the 15th and after running 10 miles saw the land from NNW to NNE off shore 6 or 7 leagues. We then steered NW 20 miles inclining in with the land to noon at which time we knew to be Cape Lagulhas, and bore N by W by compass 4 leagues and which by observation I make in latitude 3446'S, from which and taking its longitude 2015'E of Greenwich.

[Page 296]

The situation of the ship at 4am the 14th is reduced back by the log. Cape Lagulhas (the most southern part of the land forming it) is a low sandy point. The land moderately high behind it and coming from the SE has much the appearance of being a sandy beach in a bend of the coast which falls in a bight to the NE round it but as you come near the shore makes in a projecting point and is the most southern point of the whole coast. It may also be known by the Gunners Quoin which is a high hill about 4 leagues to the westward of it much resembling the Bill of Portland when to the eastward of westward of it, but loses its remarkable appearance when abreast of it. For a considerable distance both to the east and westward of Cape Laghulas, at the distance of 4 leagues from the shore, the water was of a green, muddy colour and appeared to be shoal, but as we did not heave the lead, can only judge from the appearance.

16 December 1791

16th December. At 8am passed the Cape of Good Hope at 7 or 8 miles distance with a fresh gale at SE. Saw the Bellows break very high.

17 December 1791

Saturday, 17th pm. Standing in for Table Bay, met the SE wind out of the bay so strong that it obliged us to anchor 2 miles to the northward of the proper anchorage.

[Page 297]

We saw an English ship of war and brig in the road. A boat from the ship soon informed us that it was the Providence sloop and assistant brig going to the Society Islands for the bread fruit plants. The Providence, commanded by Captain Bligh who, soon after his return to England, when forced away from the Bounty, was made Port Captain and these vessels fitted out for the same voyage. We found also that the Pitt indiaman was in the road bound to New South Wales. She had on board Major Grosse, the new lieutenant-governor of that territory, with part of his corp, and men and women convicts.

By meeting with these ships we got accounts from England to the latter end of July which, in our situation was very interesting. We heard that the Gorgon had sailed from the Cape last July and that the other ships for New South Wales had passed all well.

20 December 1791

We made several unsuccessful attempts to get up to the anchorage off the Cape Town and lost ground every time and on the 20th at 4pm it blew so violent that we found the ship would not ride with 2 anchors ahead and a whole cable upon each. We therefore cut and run out to sea (to prevent driving too near the north shore and then not be able to do it) to the northward of Robben Island and were so fortunate as to regain the bay and anchor off the Cape Town.

[Page 298]

22 December 1791

The 22nd, at 6pm. We stood in for bay with the signal of distress and had every assistance from the Providence and other ships, that could be given, and before dark got an anchor and cable from the shore with which we moored.

23 December 1791

Friday, 23rd. The Swan sloop of war arrived from England bound to the East Indies, sailed from England 23 September last. The same evening the Providence and assistant sailed on their voyage.

January 1792

12 January 1792

January 12th 1792. After having refitted the ship and waited several days for the recovery of the sick, we were under the necessity of leaving 5 of them at the hospital. The others were taken on board but by no means perfectly recovered. The wind being unfavourable it was the 18th before we could get to sea at noon, passing Robben Island.

Whilst we were at the Cape, we fitted the spare main topmast for a mizzen mast and got down the trysail mast and gaft as the vessel was in want of after sail. Having experienced that she was considerably over-masted, we reefed both the topmasts 4 feet and made some other necessary alterations for the security of the masts. We had the wind from the south to the SW until in the latitude of 23 when we got the SE trade which, in general, was moderate and fair weather.

[Page 299]


'James's Valley, St Helena, 1792'

February 1792

4 February 1792

Made the island of St. Helena the 4th of February and anchored off James's Valley at noon the same day.

In standing towards St. Helena, it is best to keep to the SE of the island before you get close in with it. It may be approached without fear. The only landing places are on the NW side of the island and the anchoring ground off the town being not more than one mile and the outer edge of the bank not more than two miles, it is necessary to keep the shore close aboard as you haul round the NE end of the island (Barn Point) which you may know coming from the SE by a very ragged hill on the east side and about a mile to the southward of it, with a small sugar loaf top and a look out house on it, where they hoist signal flags and show balls. Before you get the length of that hill, you will see the top of Sugar Loaf Hill with a flag and fort on it showing over the land between this look out and Barn Point. When you pass Barn Point, which you may do at a cable's length distance, haul close up for Sugar Loaf Point, which runs steep down to the sea from the fort before mentioned and is about 2 miles to the westward of Barn Point. It is necessary to keep close in with Sugar Loaf Point if the trade wind is fresh, otherwise I think not nearer than a mile as the wind baffles very much when the trade is not brisk. As you approach Sugar Loaf Point you open the road, which bears from it about SW by W per compass, between 2 and 3 miles.

[Page 300]

A small distance to the southward of Sugar Loaf Point is Rupert's Valley (or rather Gulley) off which you have anchorage if pressed to it. The hill forming this valley to the SW also forms James's Valley to the NE. It has a square fort near the water and another fort or battery on the top and is called Munden's Point. The anchoring ground is off James's Valley, 12 or 15 fathoms, and is a very good birth. You will then be rather more than of a mile from the beach. I would recommend always to moor, or steady with the stream, being subject to have strong flaws off the land and, between those flaws, baffling winds from all quarters. We found watering very convenient, there being a wharf and crane built farther out than that one formerly used for the purpose, and proper moorings laid down off it for a boat to go and lay with stoppers to veer in and haul out occasionally by stern and head ropes. The boat lays in deep water, and the crane, projecting well over the boat, the empty casks are got up and full ones struck over, with great ease and expedition. It very seldom happens that the surf is so great as to prevent watering, but that may always be seen. On coming in with Sugar Loaf Point it is necessary to send a boat ahead and inform the fort, which is near the water on the point, what ship it is, and they convey that information as to the nation, force, etc. by signals to James Valley.

[Page 301]

Captain Hunter was saluted with 11 guns on his going on shore and on embarking to go to sea. We found everything very scarce and dear except fish, occasioned by their having had two very dry seasons following. Variation observation, in the Road, 1530'W.

13-27 February 1792

Monday, 13th at 3pm. Sailed from St. Helena and passed to the westward of Ascension the 20th. We saw a ship in close but did not speak with her. We crossed the line the 27th of February, in 2218'W longitude.

March 1792

We kept the trade fresh until the 1st March when it became light and variable and sometimes squally before we got into the NE trade, which we did on the 5th of March in 509'N, 25W. We were carried to the Westward to 46 degrees of longitude and in the parallel of 28N latitude when, on the 30th March, the wind backed round to the E and SE and soon became variable, as generally found in the Western Ocean.

April 1792

8 April 1792

April 8th. Passed the meridian of Corvo, 31 leagues to the northward of it. Spoke [to] an American ship from Bristol, by whom we heard all was peace in England.

22 April 1792

Sunday, 22nd. At 4pm saw the Lizard, bearing N15E, 6 leagues, do. by last lunar observations N47E, 9 leagues. At 9am saw Portland, bearing NNE 4 or 5 leagues and at noon were nearly abreast of St. Albans, the weather very hazy over the land.

[Page 302]

23 April 1792

Monday, 23rd. At 1pm saw the Isle of Wight and took a pilot on board. At 5, passed the Needle Rocks and at 8 anchored in Portsmouth Harbour, off the Common Hard. Found Vice Admiral Roddam's flag flying on board the Duke, with the guardships belonging to the port, in the harbour.

27 April 1792

Friday, 27th. A court martial was held on board of the Brunswick to try Captain Hunter, the officers and crew of the Sirius, for the loss of the said ship, when it appeared that everything was done, that could be done, to save the ship.

May 1792

Captain Hunter, the officers and crew, were honourably acquitted and removed from the Waakzamheydt to the Admiral's ship, where they were paid off the 4th May 1792.


Appendix — Documents included in bound journal

The 460 images in the bound journal are made up as follows.
Only the text of pages 1 to 302 is included in this ebook.

The other images can be found at The State Library of New South Wales.

Details No. of Images Image Sequences SLNSW Image References
Journal pages (numbered 1 to 302) 302 1-302 797527-797828
Unnumbered pages after page 302:      
Table of the Variation of the compass between May 1787 and May 1792 5 303-307 797829-797833
Table of latitudes and longitudes of places as determined by observation 3 308-310 797834-797836
Journal of the Weather Situation each day at noon 138 311-448 797837-797974
Table of the Variation of the compass 4 449-452 797975-797978
Latitudes and longitudes 2 453-454 797979-797980
Account of the different kinds of timber and the use it is fit for in Port Jackson 4 455-458 797981-797984
Image of the cover of the journal 1 459 868572
Image of the journal open at page 123 1 460 868573
Total images 460    



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