John Lort Stokes.

Discoveries in Australia, Volume 2 Discoveries in Australia; with an Account of the Coasts and Rivers Explored and Surveyed During the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, in The Years 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43. By online

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Online LibraryJohn Lort StokesDiscoveries in Australia, Volume 2 Discoveries in Australia; with an Account of the Coasts and Rivers Explored and Surveyed During the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, in The Years 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43. By → online text (page 1 of 35)
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DISCOVERIES IN AUSTRALIA;

WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE

COASTS AND RIVERS

EXPLORED AND SURVEYED DURING THE

VOYAGE OF H.M.S. BEAGLE,

IN THE YEARS 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43.

BY

COMMAND OF THE LORDS COMMISSIONERS OF THE ADMIRALTY.

ALSO

A NARRATIVE OF CAPTAIN OWEN STANLEY'S VISITS

TO THE

ISLANDS IN THE ARAFURA SEA.

BY

J. LORT STOKES,

COMMANDER, R.N.


VOLUME 2.


LONDON:
T. AND W. BOONE, 29, NEW BOND STREET.

1846.


CONTENTS OF VOLUME 2.


CHAPTER 2.1.

Leave Port Essington.
Clarence Strait.
Hope Inlet.
Shoal Bay.
Ian for Observations.
Explore a new Opening.
Talc Head.
Port Darwin.
Continue Exploration.
Mosquitoes and Sandflies.
Nature of the Country.
Its parched appearance.
Large ant's nest.
Return to Shoal Bay.
Visit from the Natives.
Remarks.
Their teeth perfect.
Rite of Circumcision.
Observations on the Migrations of the Natives.
Theory of an Inland Sea.
Central Desert.
Salt water drunk by Natives.
Modes of procuring water.
Survey the harbour.
Natives on a raft.
Anecdote.
Bynoe Harbour.
Well.
Brilliant Meteors.
Natives on Point Emery.
Their surprise at the well.
Importance of water.
Anecdote.
Languages of Australia.
Specimens.
Remarks.
Leave Port Darwin.
Tides.
Squall.
Visit Port Patterson.
Leave.
Examine opening to the south-west.
Table Hill.
McAdam Range.
Adventure with an Alligator.
Exploring party.
Discovery of the Victoria.
Ascend the river.
Appearance of the Country.
Fitzmaurice River.
Indian Hill.
The Beagle taken up the river.


CHAPTER 2.2.

Exploration of the Victoria.
First appearance of Sea Range.
Curiosity Peak.
Appearance of Country from.
Whirlwind Plains.
Encounter with an Alligator.
His capture and description.
Cross Whirlwind Plains.
White and black ducks.
Kangaroos.
Enter hilly country.
Meet the boats.
Thunderstorm.
Carry boats over shoals.
New birds.
Reach Hopeless.
Progress of boats arrested.
Reconnoitre the river.
Prospect from View Hill.
Preparation for pedestrian excursion.
Leave Reach Hopeless to explore the upper part of the river.
Native village.
Squall.
Mussel Bend.
Meet Natives.
Successful fishing.
Party distressed.
Thirsty Flat.
Tortoise Reach.
Singular appearance of the ranges.
Effect of the great heat.
One man knocked up.
Approach of natives.
Preparation for defence.
Appearance of the natives.
Move further up the river.
Emu Plains.
Select position for night quarters.
Upward course of the Victoria.
Commence return.
Kangaroo shot.
Wickham Heights.
New Tortoise.
Lucky Valley.
Race was with a native.
Meet his tribe.
They make off.
Hard day's work.
Quarters for the night.
Return to Reach Hopeless.


CHAPTER 2.3. VICTORIA RIVER.

Proceed down the river from Reach Hopeless.
Meet watering party.
One of the men deserts.
Kangaroo shooting.
The writer left to complete survey of river.
Silk cotton-tree.
Fertility of Whirlwind Plains.
Attempt of one of the crew to jump overboard.
Reach the Ship.
Suffer from sore eyes.
Lieutenant Emery finds water.
Geological specimens.
Bird's Playhouse.
Tides.
Strange weather.
Range of Barometer.
Accounted for by proximity of Port Essington.
Hurricane.
Effects of the latter.
Dreary country behind Water Valley.
Fruitless attempt to weigh ship's anchors.
Obliged to slip from both of them.
Proceed down the river.
Complete survey of Main Channel.
Visit south Entrance Point of river.
Discover a number of dead turtles.
Cross over to Point Pearce.
Mr. Bynoe shoots a new finch.
The Author speared.
Pursued by natives.
Escape.
Flight of natives.
Armed party pursue them.
Night of suffering.
General description of the Victoria.
Gouty-stem tree and fruit.


CHAPTER 2.4. VICTORIA RIVER TO SWAN RIVER.

Leave Point Pearce.
Error in position of Cape Rulhieres.
Obtain soundings on supposed Sahul Shoal.
Discover a shoal patch on it.
Ascertain extent of bank of soundings off the Australian shore.
Strange winds in Monsoon.
See Scott's Reef.
Discover error in its position.
Make Depuch Island.
Prevalence of westerly winds near it.
Sperm whales.
Tedious passage.
Death and burial of the ship's cook.
Anecdotes of his life.
Good landfall.
Arrival at Swan River.
Find Colony improved.
Hospitality of Colonists.
Lieutenant Roe's account of his rescuing Captain Grey's party.
Burial of Mr. Smith.
Hurricane at Shark's Bay.
Observations on dry appearance of Upper Swan.
Unsuccessful cruise of Champion.
Visit Rottnest.
Fix on a hill for the site of a Lighthouse.
Aboriginal convicts.
Protectors of natives.
American whalers.
Miago.
Trees of Western Australia.
On the safety of Gage Roads.


CHAPTER 2.5.

Sail from Swan River.
Search for the supposed Turtle-dove Shoal.
Approach to Houtman's Abrolhos.
Find an anchorage.
View of the Lagoon.
Guano.
Remnants of the wreck of the Batavia.
Pelsart Group.
Visit the Main.
Geelvink Channel.
Enter Champion Bay.
Appearance of the Country.
Striking resemblance of various portions of the coast of Australia.
Leave Champion Bay.
Coast to the northward.
Resume our examination of the Abrolhos.
Easter Group.
Good Friday Harbour.
Lizards on Rat Island.
Coral formation.
Snapper Bank.
Zeewyk Passage.
Discoveries on Gun Island.
The Mangrove Islets.
Singular Sunset.
Heavy gale.
Wallaby Islands.
Flag Hill.
Slaughter Point.
Observations of Mr. Bynoe on the Marsupiata.
General character of the reefs.
Tidal observations.
Visit North Island.
Leave Houtman's Abrolhos.
General observations.
Proceed to Depuch Island.
Drawings on the rocks.
Native youth.
New bird and kangaroo.
Effects of Mirage.
Examine coast to the Turtle Isles.
Geographe Shoals.
Number of turtles.
Bedout Island.
Scott's Reef.
Approach to Timor.
Pulo Douw.
Scene on entering Coepang Bay.
Surprise of Swan River native.
Visit to the Resident.
His stories.
Fort Concordia.
Second visit to the Resident.
The Timorees.
Arrive at Pritie.
Description of the country.
Muster of the shooting party.
Success of the excursion.
The Javanese Commandant.
Character of the Timorees.
Dutch settlement in New Guinea.
Leave Coepang.
Island of Rottee.
Tykal Inlet.
Inhabitants of Polo Douw.


CHAPTER 2.6.

Sail from Rottee.
Search for shoal.
Dampier's Archipelago.
Examination of coast.
Strange weather.
Natives.
Passage between Delambre and Huiy Islands.
Proceed to Montebello Isles.
Description of them.
Barrow's Island.
Tryal Rocks.
New kangaroo.
Abundance of turtle.
New wallaby.
Sail for Swan River.
Find Ritchie's Reef.
Islands between Barrow's and North-West Cape.
Table of soundings.
Swan River Native.
Anchor under Rottnest.
Vocabulary.
Erect beacons.
Bad weather.
Habits of a native dog.
Geological observations.
Sail from Swan River.
Error in position of Cape Naturaliste.
King George's Sound.
Appearance of Bald Head.
Princess Royal Harbour.
Origin of settlement.
Town of Albany.
Salubrity of climate.
Excursion into interior.
Course a kangaroo.
Pitfalls.
Herds of kangaroos.
Rich country.
The Hay River.
Return to Albany.
Departure for South Australia.
Discover an Island.
Death of a seaman.
Position of Neptune Isles.
Kangaroo, Althorp and Quoin Islands.
Holdfast Road.
Adelaide.
Description of country.
Governor Gawler's policy.
Visit the Port.
Mr. Eyre's expedition.
Hardships of Overlanders.
Cannibalism.
Meet Captain Sturt.
Native schools.
System of education.
Sail for Sydney.
Squalls.
Error in coast.
Bass Strait.
Arrive at Sydney.


CHAPTER 2.7.

Land Sales.
Unsettled boundaries.
New Zealand.
Hunter River.
Midnight alarm.
Ludicrous scene.
Changes in Officers of ship.
Leave Sydney.
Port Stephens.
Corrobory.
Gale at Cape Upstart.
Magnetical Island.
Halifax Bay.
Astonish a Native.
Description of country.
Correct chart.
Restoration Island.
Picturesque arrival.
Interview with the Natives from Torres Strait.
Their weapons.
Shoal near Endeavour River.
Discover good passage through Endeavour Strait.
Booby Island.
New birds.
The Painted Quail.


CHAPTER 2.8. GULF OF CARPENTARIA.

Leave Booby Island.
Eastern shore of Gulf.
Van Diemen's Inlet.
Exploration of.
Party of Natives.
Level country.
Tides.
Visit Bountiful Islands.
Description of them.
Sail for Sweers Island.
Investigator Road.
Natives.
Locusts.
Record of the Investigator's visit.
Dig a well.
Boats explore island and coast to the westward.
Sweers and Bentinck Islands.
Tides.
Take ship over to the main.
Another boat expedition leaves.
Ship proceeds to the head of the Gulf.
Discovery and exploration of Disaster Inlet.
Narrow escape.
Description of Interior.
Wild Fowl.
Explore coast to the eastward.
Inlets.
Discover the Flinders.
The Cuckoo.
Ascent of the river.
Night scene.
Burial tree.
Remarks.
Return to the ship.
Exploration of south-western part of Gulf.
Large inlets discovered.


CHAPTER 2.9. GULF OF CARPENTARIA.

Boat expedition.
Explore an opening.
Discovery of the Albert.
Natives.
Picturesque Scenery.
Hope Reach.
Birds and Fishes.
Upper Branch.
Beauty of the Landscape.
Land excursion.
The Plains of Promise.
Halt the party and proceed alone.
Description of the country.
Return down the Albert.
Mouth of River.
Arrive at Van Diemen's Inlet.
Find Mr. Fitzmaurice severely wounded.
General result of the survey of the Gulf.
Winds and Temperature.
Booby Island.
Endeavour Strait.
Reach Port Essington.


CHAPTER 2.10. INDIAN ARCHIPELAGO.

Leave Port Essington.
Dobbo Island.
Visit from the Schoolmaster.
Church.
Trade of the Arrou Islands.
Their productions.
Visit from Natives.
The Banda Group.
Penal Settlement.
Adventures of a Javanese.
Captain de Stuers.
Native dance and sports.
Nutmeg Plantations.
Mode of preserving the fruit.
Amboyna.
Visit a natural grotto.
Sail from Amboyna.
Island of Kissa.
Village of Wauriti.
Missionary establishment.
Serwatty Group.
Return to Port Essington.


CHAPTER 2.11. PORT ESSINGTON AND THE NORTH-WEST COAST.

Appearance of Settlement.
Effects of climate.
Native mother.
Trade in teeth.
Macassar Proas.
Lieutenant Vallack visits the Alligator Rivers.
Interview with Natives.
Prospects of Port Essington.
Lieutenant Stewart's Route.
Climate.
Remarks of Mr. Bynoe.
Harbour of refuge.
Sail from Port Essington.
Sahul Shoal.
Arrive at Coepang.
Timorees.
Sail for North-west Coast.
Strong winds.
Cape Bossut.
Exploration of North-west Coast.
View of Interior.
Birds.
Solitary Island.
Visit the Shore.
Amphinome Shoals.
Bedout Island.
Breaker Inlet.
Exmouth Gulf.
Arrive at Swan River.


CHAPTER 2.12.

Reported Harbour.
Set out for Australind.
The Grass-tree.
Correspondence with Mr. Clifton, etc.
Sail from Gage Road.
Examination of coast.
Reach Champion Bay.
Visit Mount Fairfax and Wizard Peak.
Arid nature of country.
Want of water.
Native Grave.
The Greenough river.
Natives.
Leave Champion Bay.
Koombanah Bay.
Naturaliste Reef.
Reach South Australia.
Port Adelaide.
Proposed Railroad.
Visit Mount Barker.
Encounter Bay.
Native fishing.
Return to Adelaide.
Sail from South Australia.
Portland Bay.
Squatters.
Tour in the interior.
Fertile country.
View from the Sugarloaf.
Visit Cape Bridgewater.
Sail for Hobart.
Liberality of Sir John Franklin.
Atmospheric changes.
Arrive at Sydney.


CHAPTER 2.13.

Exploration of Interior.
Twofold Bay.
Survey of Bass Strait.
Dangerous situation of the Beagle.
Kent and Hogan Groups.
Gipps Land.
Wilson's Promontory.
The Tamar.
Eastern entrance of Strait.
Steam communication between India and Australia.
New Guinea.
Straitsmen.
North coast of Tasmania.
Aborigines.
Port Phillip.
Directions for ships passing King Island.
Complete survey of Bass Strait.
Farewell to Sydney.
Moreton Bay.
The Comet.
State of Tasmania, or Van Diemen's Land.
Lighthouses in Bass Strait.


CHAPTER 2.14. AUSTRALIA TO ENGLAND.

Sail from Tasmania.
The South-west Cape.
Monument to Flinders.
Rottnest Island.
Lighthouse.
Penal Establishment.
Longitude of Fremantle.
Final departure from Western Australia.
Rodrigue Island.
Effects of a hurricane at Mauritius.
The crew and passengers of a foundered vessel saved.
Bourbon.
Madagascar.
Simon's Bay.
Deep sea soundings.
Arrival in England.
Take leave of the Beagle.
The Surveying service.

...


APPENDIX.
WINDS AND WEATHER ON THE WESTERN AND NORTHERN COASTS OF AUSTRALIA.
BY COMMANDER J.C. WICKHAM, R.N.


LIST OF CHARTS.

VOLUME 2.

VICTORIA RIVER.

GULF OF CARPENTARIA.

ALBERT RIVER.

PART OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA.

PORT ADELAIDE AND HOLDFAST BAY.


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

VOLUME 2.

MESSRS. FITZMAURICE AND KEYS DANCING FOR THEIR LIVES.
L.R. Fitzmaurice, del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.

FIRST APPEARANCE OF SEA RANGE.

HEAD AND FEET OF ALLIGATOR.

KILLING AN ALLIGATOR, VICTORIA RIVER.
G. Gore, del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.

WICKHAM HEIGHTS FROM TORTOISE REACH.

CAPTAIN STOKES SPEARED AT POINT PEARCE.
C. Martens, del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.

GOUTY-STEM TREE.

FRUIT OF GOUTY-STEM TREE.
Section of fruit, showing the manner in which the seeds are disposed.

VIEWS OF MORESBY'S RANGE, SEA RANGE, AND CAPE BEDFORD.
Moresby's Range, West Coast, latitude 28 degrees 50 minutes South.
Sea Range, Victoria River, North-west Coast, latitude 15 degrees 20
minutes South.
Cape Bedford, North-east Coast, latitude 15 degrees 10 minutes South.

ANCIENT DUTCH GUN.
Dutch Four-pounder, with moveable chamber.

NATIVE DRAWINGS.
Lithographic impression of the copies made by Captain Wickham of the
native drawings on Depuch Island. They have already appeared in the Royal
Geographical Journal Volume 12. The following list will convey to the
reader what the drawings are intended to represent.
1. A goose or duck.
2. A bird; probably the leipoa.
6. A beetle.
11. A fish over a quarter-moon; which has been considered to have some
reference to fishing by moonlight.
61. A native dog.
16. A native, armed with spear and wommera, or throwing stick, probably
relating his adventures, which is usually done by song, and accompanied
with great action and flourishing of weapons, particularly when boasting
of his prowess.
20. A duck and a gull.
34. A corrobory, or native dance.
65. A crab.
30. A native in a hut, with portion of the matting with which they cover
their habitations.
67. A kangaroo.
71. Appears to be a bird of prey, having seized upon a kangaroo-rat.
32. Shark and pilot-fish.

COEPANG FROM THE ANCHORAGE.
G. Gore, del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.

PASSING BETWEEN BALD HEAD AND VANCOUVER REEF.
G. Gore, del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.

ENTRANCE OF VAN DIEMEN'S INLET.
G. Gore, del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.

INTERESTING TREE.

BURIAL REACH, FLINDERS RIVER.
G. Gore, del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.

UPWARD VIEW OF HOPE REACH, ALBERT RIVER.
G. Gore, del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.

FIRST VIEW OF THE PLAINS OF PROMISE, ALBERT RIVER.
G. Gore, del.

LAST VIEW OF THE PLAINS OF PROMISE, ALBERT RIVER.
G. Gore, del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.

APPROACH TO PORTLAND BAY.
Cape Nelson, Cape Grant, Lawrence Isles East-North-East nine miles.

DANGEROUS SITUATION OF BEAGLE.
A.J. Mason Sc.

DEVIL'S TOWER.
350 feet high, West, two miles.

KILLING A KANGAROO.
A.J. Mason Sc.

HUMMOCK ISLAND.
Highest part 400 feet, bearing South-East 20 miles.

...



JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY.


CHAPTER 2.1.

Leave Port Essington.
Clarence Strait.
Hope Inlet.
Shoal Bay.
Land for Observations.
Explore a new Opening.
Talc Head.
Port Darwin.
Continue Exploration.
Mosquitoes and Sandflies.
Nature of the Country.
Its parched appearance.
Large ant's nest.
Return to Shoal Bay.
Visit from the Natives.
Remarks.
Their teeth perfect.
Rite of Circumcision.
Observations on the Migrations of the Natives.
Theory of an Inland Sea.
Central Desert.
Salt water drunk by Natives.
Modes of procuring water.
Survey the harbour.
Natives on a raft.
Anecdote.
Bynoe Harbour.
Well.
Brilliant Meteors.
Natives on Point Emery.
Their surprise at the well.
Importance of water.
Anecdote.
Languages of Australia.
Specimens.
Remarks.
Leave Port Darwin.
Tides.
Squall.
Visit Port Patterson.
Leave.
Examine opening to the south-west.
Table Hill.
McAdam Range.
Adventure with an Alligator.
Exploring party.
Discovery of the Victoria.
Ascend the river.
Appearance of the Country.
Fitzmaurice River.
Indian Hill.
The Beagle taken up the river.

LEAVE PORT ESSINGTON.

Early on the morning of the 4th of September, 1839, the Beagle was once
more slipping out of Port Essington before a light land wind. We had
taken a hearty farewell of our friends at Victoria, in whose prosperity
we felt all the interest that is due to those who pioneer the way for
others in the formation of a new settlement. No doubt the hope that our
discoveries might open a new field for British enterprise, and contribute
to extend still more widely the blessings of civilization, increased the
sympathy we felt for the young colony at Victoria. There is always a
feeling of pride and pleasure engendered by the thought that we are in
any way instrumental to the extension of man's influence over the world
which has been given him to subdue. In the present instance, the success
of our last cruise and the state of preparation in which we were now in
for a longer one, caused us to take our departure from Port Essington in
far higher spirits than on the former occasion.

PASS THROUGH CLARENCE STRAIT.

We again shaped our course for Clarence Strait, the western entrance of
which was still unexamined. The wind, however, being light, we passed the
night in Popham Bay; and on leaving next morning, had only six fathoms in
some tide ripplings nearly two miles off its south point, Cape Don. We
passed along the south side of Melville Island, where a large fire was
still burning. Early in the evening we anchored in seven fathoms, to wait
for a boat that had been sent to examine a shoal bay on the North-West
side of Cape Keith. Green Ant Cliffs bore South-West two miles.

September 7.

Weighing at daylight we hauled up south, into the middle of the channel,
crossing a ridge of 5 1/2 fathoms; Ant Cliffs bearing West-South-West
five miles, and three or four from the shore. This ridge appears to be
thrown up at the extremity of the flats fronting the shore. On deepening
the water to 10 and 12 fathoms, the course was changed to West 1/2 South,
passing midway between North Vernon Isle and Cape Gambier, where the
width of the channel is seven miles, though the whole of it is not
available for the purposes of navigation, a long detached reef lying
three miles from the Cape, and a small one two miles from the North
Vernon Isle.* The tide hurried the Beagle past between these reefs with
some rapidity, the soundings at the time being 19 fathoms.

(*Footnote. These isles, three in number, lying quite in the centre of
the western entrance of the Strait, are fringed with extensive coral
reefs. There are, however, deep passages between them.)

Having cleared Clarence Strait, and found it to be perfectly navigable
with common precaution (which in a slight degree enhanced the value of
the discovery of the Adelaide) our course was directed for a bay to the
southward, which Captain King had not examined. A very refreshing cool
north-westerly seabreeze* had just succeeded a short calm. Passing four
miles from the western extremity of the Vernon Isles, we had irregular
soundings of ten and seven fathoms. The ripplings and discoloured water
are a warning that they should be approached with caution on this side.

(*Footnote. The seabreeze prevailing from the westward through Clarence
Strait, the passage to Port Essington from the westward, during the
easterly monsoon, might be more easily made by passing through it,
instead of working along the north side of Melville Island.)

The mouth of a considerable inlet came in sight at the head of a bay as
we advanced towards it, steering South by East. This opening began to
appear of consequence as we drew near, although the singularly gradual
decrease in the soundings, on a sandy bottom materially diminished the
probability of its being the mouth of a river. Still, when we anchored as
near as we could approach, there remained a hope of its being so.

HOPE INLET. SHOAL BAY.

September 8.

Early in the morning Mr. Forsyth and myself started to explore the
opening. We soon discovered that it was nothing more than a shallow creek
at low-water. The tide here rising twenty feet, gave it the important
appearance it had yesterday evening. A tall clump of naked trees was
conspicuous at the east entrance point, towering above the insipid
mangrove shore. We gave it the name of Hope Inlet, to commemorate the
feelings it excited on its first discovery. From the south point of
Clarence Strait it is distant eleven miles, and the bay in which it lies,
from the shallow-water at the head of it, was called Shoal Bay.

The boat being provisioned for four days, we pushed on to explore another
opening above fifteen miles to the westward. The seabreeze setting in
early, we did not reach it till after dark, when we landed for
observations at a cliffy projection near the eastern entrance point: this
we found to be composed of a kind of pipeclay, mixed with calcareous
matter. We had some difficulty in landing, and then in scrambling up the
cliffs by the light of a lantern. If any of the watchful natives happened
at the time to be on the lookout, they must have stood fixed with
astonishment at beholding such strange persons, who at such a time of
night, with no ostensible object were visiting their shores.

EXPLORE A NEW OPENING.

September 9.

Before the veil of darkness was quite removed, we could faintly
distinguish the mouth of the opening; and the sight at daylight was most
cheering. A wide bay appearing between two white cliffy heads, and
stretching away within to a great distance, presented itself to our view.
Far to the southward, between the heads, rose a small table-topped hill.
As we pulled in towards the eastern entrance point, the river-like
appearance began to wear off, more land making its appearance towards the
head of the opening. On reaching this point Mr. Forsyth and myself
climbed up the cliff, whilst the breakfast was cooking. From the summit
we had a good view of the bay, and were delighted to find large openings
in the south-east and south-west corners of it. The table hill before
mentioned, stood on the point between them. To see the eastern part of
it, however, it was necessary to cross to the opposite point, where some
talc slate, pieces of which measured four inches in length, was found
imbedded in quartz. The point was called in consequence, Talc Head.

PORT DARWIN.

The other rocks near it were of a fine-grained sandstone: a new feature
in the geology of this part of the continent, which afforded us an
appropriate opportunity of convincing an old shipmate and friend, that he
still lived in our memory; and we accordingly named this sheet of water
Port Darwin. A few small bamboos grew on this head; the other trees were
chiefly white gums. I climbed to the top of one of them, and obtained
thence a view of another opening in the eastern part of the harbour. It
now being low-water, an extensive shoal was discovered, reaching from
abreast of Talc Head to the point separating the South-East and
South-West openings, an extent of nearly five miles. This somewhat
diminished the value of our discovery, as it limited the capabilities of
the bay as a harbour.

We now proceeded to explore the north-eastern and largest opening,
distant six miles from our station. A large islet and a reef left the
entrance only a mile wide. Expanding again, it formed two arms, one
running south, the other East-South-East, between small groups of
singular isolated haycock-shaped hills, about 250 feet high. Following
the latter, being the largest, we found that it soon curved round, taking
a southerly direction. A bank free from mangroves occurring in this bend,
we availed ourselves of it, as the day was closing in, to secure some
early stars for latitude and longitude. The intense pleasure afforded by
traversing water that had never before been divided by any keel, in some
measure compensated us for the annoyance from the mosquitoes and
sandflies, that took the opportunity of assailing us while in the
defenceless state of quiet necessary in making observations. Pushing out



Online LibraryJohn Lort StokesDiscoveries in Australia, Volume 2 Discoveries in Australia; with an Account of the Coasts and Rivers Explored and Surveyed During the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, in The Years 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43. By → online text (page 1 of 35)