Phillip Parker King.

Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia Performed between the years 1818 and 1822 — Volume 1 online

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and the examination of the great bay of Van Diemen.

Upon rounding the North-West Cape, we had been unfortunate in losing our
anchors, which very much crippled our proceedings, and prevented our
prosecuting the examination of the coast in so detailed a manner as we
otherwise might have done; for we possessed no resource to avail
ourselves of, if we had been so unfortunate as to get on shore. A series
of fine weather, however, on the first part, and a sheltered coast with
good anchorage on the latter part of the voyage, enabled us to carry on
the survey without accident; and nearly as much has been effected with
one anchor as could have been done had we possessed the whole. It
prevented, however, our examining the bottom of Exmouth Gulf, and our
landing upon Depuch Island. The latter was a great disappointment to us,
on account of the following description which M. Peron gives of the
island, in his historical account of Baudin's Voyage, from the report of
M. Ronsard, who visited it.

"Au seul aspect de cette ile, on pouvoit deja pressentir qu'elle etoit
d'une nature differente de toutes celles que nous avions vues jusqu'a ce
jour. En effet, les terres en etoient plus hautes, les formes plus
prononcees: a mesure qu'on put s'en rapprocher, la difference devint plus
sensible encore. Au lieu de ces cotes uniformement prolongees, qui
n'offroient aucune pointe, aucun piton, aucune eminence, on voyait se
dessiner sur cette ile des roches aigues, solitaires, qui, comme autant
d'aiguilles, sembloient s'elancer de la surface du sol. Toute l'ile etoit
volcanique; des prismes de basalte, le plus ordinairement pentaedres,
entasses les uns sur les autres, reposant le plus souvent sur leurs
angles, en constituoient la masse entiere. La s'elevoient comme des murs
de pierre de taille; ailleurs, se presentoient des especes de paves
basaltiques, analogues a ceux de la fameuse Chaussee des Geans. Dans
quelques endroits on observoit des excavations plus ou moins profondes;
les eaux des parties voisines s'y etoient reunies, et formoient des
especes de fontaines, dans chacune desquelles nos gens trouverent une
tres-petite quantite d'excellente eau ferrugineuse. Dans ces lieux plus
humides, la vegetation etoit plus active; on y remarquoit de beaux
arbustes et quelques arbres plus gros, qui constituoient de petits
bosquets tres-agreables; le reste de l'ile, avec une disposition
differente, offroit un coup d'oeil bien different aussi: parmi ces
monceaux de laves entassees sans ordre, regne une sterilite generale; et
la couleur noire de ces roches volcaniques ajoutoit encore a l'aspect
triste et monotone de cette petite ile. La marche y est difficile, a
cause des prismes de basalte qui, couches horizontalement sur le sol,
presentent leurs aretes aigues en saillantes et dehors."

M. Peron then quotes M. Depuch's (the mineralogist to the expedition)
report: "La couleur de ce basalte est d'un gris tirant sur le bleu; sa
contexture est tres-serree, son grain fin et d'apparence
petro-silicieuse; de petites lames brillantes et irregulierement situees
sont disseminees dans toute la masse; il ne fait aucune effervescence
avec les acides, et n'affecte pas sensiblement le barreau aimante; sa
partie exterieure a eprouve une espece d'alteration produite par les
molecules ferrugineuses: cette decomposition n'atteint pas ordinairement
au dela de 3 ou 4 millemetres de profondeur."

M. Peron then continues M. Ronsard's report: "M. Ronsard croit devoir
penser, d'apres la conformation generale et la couleur de la partie du
continent voisine, qu'elle est d'une nature semblable et volcanique.
C'eut ete, sans doute un objet d'autant plus important a verifier, que,
jusqu'alors, nous n'avions rien pu voir de volcanique sur la Nouvelle
Hollande, et que depuis lors encore, nous n'y avons jamais trouve aucun
produit de ce genre; mais notre commandant, sans s'inquieter d'une
phenomene qui se rattache cependant d'une maniere essentielle a la
geographie de cette portion de la Nouvelle Hollande, donna l'ordre de
poursuivre notre route."

(*Footnote. Peron Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres Australes volume 1
page 130.)

The rise of the tide was found by the French officer who landed upon it
to be at least twenty-five feet, which fact of itself was sufficient to
have induced us to examine into the cause of so unusual a circumstance;
for the greatest rise that we had hitherto found was not more than eight
or nine feet.

The hills at the back of this group of islands, which Commodore Baudin
called L'Archipel Forestier, recede from the coast in the shape of an
amphitheatre, which made me suppose that the coast trended in and formed
a deep bay; but this still remains to be ascertained, and we quitted the
place with much regret: for it unquestionably presented a far more
interesting feature than any part that we had previously seen.

On our passage to the north coast we saw the Imperieuse and Clerke's
Shoals, and also discovered a third, the Mermaid's.

On the north coast we found some deep bays and excellent ports, and at
the bottom of the great bay of Van Diemen we discovered several rivers,
one of which we ascended for forty miles. The thickly-wooded shores of
the north coast bore a striking contrast to the sandy desert-looking
tract of coast we had previously seen, and inspired us with the hope of
finding, at a future time, a still greater improvement in the country
between the two extremes.

Mr. Cunningham made a very valuable and extensive collection of dried
plants and seeds; but, from the small size of our vessel, and the
constant occupation of myself and the two midshipmen who accompanied me,
we had neither space nor time to form any other collection of Natural
History than a few insects, and some specimens of the geology of those
parts where we had landed.

Visit to Van Diemen's Land, and examination of the entrance of Macquarie
Anchor in Pine Cove and cut wood.
Description of the Trees growing there.
Return to the entrance, and water at Outer Bay.
Interview with the Natives, and Vocabulary of their language.
Arrive at Hobart Town, and return to Port Jackson.

1818. December.

The construction of the charts of the preceding voyage, together with the
equipment of the vessel, fully occupied me until the month of December;
when, having some time to spare before we could leave Port Jackson on our
second voyage to the north coast, in consequence of its being the time
when the westerly monsoon prevails, I acquainted His Excellency the
Governor of my intention of surveying the entrance of Macquarie Harbour,
which had lately been discovered on the western coast of Van Diemen's
Land. To make my visit there as useful as possible to the colony, a
passage was offered to Mr. Justice Field, the Judge of the Supreme Court,
who was at that time about to proceed to Hobart Town to hold his court;
and as it was probable that his business would terminate about the time
of our return, it was arranged that the Mermaid should also convey him

December 24.

We left Sydney Cove on the 24th December.

December 25.

But did not clear the heads of the port until eight o'clock on the
following morning, when we sailed with a fresh wind from the North-East.

Red Point was passed soon after noon, at the back of which some of the
lately settled farms in the Five Island District were plainly
distinguished. The hills here recede from the coast, and form an
amphitheatre of rich grazing land, on which is the Lake Alowrie and Tom
Thumb's Lagoon of Captain Flinders.

Off Red Point, so named by Captain Cook (but which by the natives is
called Illawarra), are five small rocky islands. This group gives a name
to the district, which has proved a valuable acquisition to the colony.

About ten miles to the southward of Red Point the hills again approach
the coast; which then becomes steep and thickly wooded, until near to
Shoal Haven; when they again fall back, and form another large tract of
low country, which as yet is little known.

December 27.

On the 27th after sunset we passed Cape Howe and crossed the entrance of
Bass Strait with a heavy gale from the South-West.

1819. January 1.

At daylight on the 1st of January Schouten Island, on the east coast of
Van Diemen's Land, was seen; before dark Cape Pillar made its appearance.

January 2.

And at two o'clock the next afternoon the Mermaid was anchored off Hobart

On our arrival I learnt that a part of my object had been already
accomplished by a Mr. Florance, who had just returned from a partial
survey of Macquarie Harbour; but upon examining his chart I found it to
be merely a delineation of its coastline; without noticing the depth of
water or any of the numerous shoals which crowd the entrance of this
extraordinary harbour.

January 10.

As the most essential part therefore remained still to be performed, we
left Hobart Town on the 10th of January, and passed through
D'Entrecasteaux Channel; which is by the colonists at the Derwent
improperly called The Storm Bay Passage. By eight p.m. we were abreast of
the South Cape, when the wind veered round to the North-West, and
compelled us to stand to the southward.

January 12.

At daylight on the 12th we were abreast of the range of hills, one of
which Captain Flinders had named Mount Dewitt; and our course was held
parallel to the shore with a fresh breeze from South-South-East and fine
weather. Soon after noon we passed Point Hibbs; and at four o'clock
hauled round the point of land which forms the western head of the outer
road of Macquarie Harbour, which I named Cape Sorell, in compliment to
the Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land. Between this Cape and Point
Hibbs the coast is very rocky, and ought not to be approached. Off the
Cape, at the distance of a quarter of a mile, is a detached rock on which
the sea continually breaks.

It was dark before we reached an anchorage off the bar of the harbour;
having had to work against a strong South-South-East wind blowing
directly out. The anchorage was rather exposed to the North-West; but as
the weather had a settled appearance I was reconciled to remain for the
night, which turned out fine.

January 13.

At daylight the bar was sounded, and a buoy placed on its deepest part to
indicate the channel; on which, at that time of tide (about half-flood)
there was nine feet water: this was sufficient to allow us to pass it;
but in order to prevent delay, I caused the cutter to be lightened as
much as possible; and having reduced her draught to seven feet and a half
by emptying the water-casks, she was warped over the bar to an anchorage
between it and the entrance. As the cutter passed the shoalest part she
struck twice, but so lightly as to occasion neither damage nor delay.

January 13 to 16.

An anchorage was taken up in Outer Bay in order to sound the bar whilst
the weather was so favourable for the purpose, which employed us until
the 16th, when a westerly wind enabled us to enter the harbour; but, from
baffling winds and the ebbing tide, and the width of the entrance being
only seventy yards, we found a considerable difficulty in effecting it.
The anchor was dropped as soon as the cutter was inside, and she was
afterwards warped to a more convenient situation out of the strength of
the tide.

Here we remained during the evening, in order to obtain bearings from two
contiguous stations on the hills. Near one of them we found lying on the
rocks a bundle of garments, which, upon examination, were found to be of
colonial manufacture; they bore no marks of ever having been worn, and as
I afterwards found had been given by Mr. Florance to the natives; who,
disliking the confinement of clothes, had abandoned them as useless.

The next day we were employed in moving the vessel up the harbour to
Mount Wellington and in the examination of Channel Bay. In doing this a
brig passed us on her way out; she proved to be the Sophia of Hobart
Town, commanded by Mr. Kelly, the original discoverer of the place. He
had just procured a load of pine logs from Pine Cove at the North-East
corner of the harbour, and was now homeward bound. In the afternoon we
anchored off Round Head and Mr. Kelly came on board to assist me in
buoying and examining the channel, which bears his name in my plan, and
in which the deepest water in one part is but eight feet. In order that
the cutter might pass through this, for it was the only one that
communicated with the harbour, we were obliged to buoy it, since the
breadth was not more than thirty-five yards, and only six inches deeper
than the cutter's draught of water.

January 19 to 21.

While our people were at dinner, a party of natives came to the verge of
Round Head, and remained for some time calling to us. As soon as we had
dined, we landed, with the intention of communicating with them; they had
however left the place, and we returned on board without seeing them: the
following day, when I was away with the boat sounding the channels
towards Betsey's Island, they came down again, but seeing no boat near
the vessel they walked round to the Sophia, which was still at anchor
near Mount Wellington: we afterwards found that they had been induced to
go on board the brig, and were much pleased with their visit, and
gratified with the presents which Mr. Kelly gave them.

On the 21st with a breeze from the North-West we got under weigh and
passed through Kelly's Channel; but at eleven o'clock the wind fell, and
we were obliged to anchor upon the edge of the bank off River Point; we
had not, however, to wait long, for the breeze freshened up again, and we
arrived at Pine Cove in time to land and examine the place before sunset.

January 21 to 24.

On our way to the shore in our boat we disturbed two flights of black
swans who flew away at our approach. Having landed at the bottom of the
cove where the Sophia had obtained her cargo, we found the Huon
pine-trees, interspersed with many others of different species, growing
in great profusion, within three yards of the edge of the water, upon a
soil of decomposed vegetable matter, which in many parts was so soft that
we often suddenly sank ankle-deep, and occasionally up to the knees in
it: this swampy nature of the soil is to be attributed to the crowded
state of the trees; for they grow so close to each other as to prevent
the rays of the sun from penetrating to the soil.

The ground is also strewed with fallen trees, the stems of which are
covered with a thick coat of moss, in which seedlings of all the
varieties of trees and plants that grow here were springing up in the
prostrate stem of perhaps their parent tree; and it was not rare to see
large Huon pines of three feet in diameter rooted in this manner on the
trunk of a sound tree of even larger dimensions that had, perhaps, been
lying on the ground for centuries; while others were observed, in
appearance sound, and in shape perfect, and also covered with moss,
which, upon being trod upon, fell in and crumbled away.

The fructification of this tree, so called from the river, which was
named after Captain Huon Kermadie, who commanded L'Esperance under the
order of Admiral D'Entrecasteaux, never having been seen, its detection
was matter of much curiosity to Mr. Cunningham, who diligently examined
every tree that had been felled. It was, however, with some difficulty
that he succeeded in finding the flower, which was so minute as almost to
require a magnifying lens to observe it; it is a coniferous tree and was
supposed by Mr. Cunningham to be allied to dacrydium. Several saplings of
this wood were cut for studding-sail booms and oars, as also of the
Podocarpos aspleniifolia, Labillardiere; this latter tree is known to the
colonists by the name of Adventure Bay Pine, and grows on Bruny Island in
Storm Bay; but it is there very inferior in size to those of Pine Cove.

The Carpodontos lucida, or Australian snowdrop, of which Labillardiere
has given a figure in his account of Admiral D'Entrecasteaux's voyage,
was in full flower, and had a most beautiful appearance.

The following is a list of the several species of trees that grow in this
Cove, for which I am indebted to Mr. Cunningham:

COLUMN 1: Natural Orders, Jussieu.
COLUMN 2: Linn. Sex. Syst.
COLUMN 3: Name used by Colonists.
COLUMN 4: Ordinary Dimensions. Height in feet.
COLUMN 5: Ordinary Dimensions. Diameter at the Base.

Coniferae : Dacrydium sp.? : Huon Pine : 40 to 60 : 2 feet to 5 feet.

Coniferae : Podocarpos aspleniifolia, Labillardiere : Adventure Bay Yew,
or Pine : 40 to 50 : 12 to 16 inches.

Cunoniaceae : Weinmannia, sp. : Native Beech : 20 to 25 : 4 to 5 inches.

Amentaceae : Fagus : Native Birch : 40 : 12 to 14 inches.

Proteaceae : Cenarrhenes nitida. Labillardiere : Stinking Native Laurel :
20 to 25 : 8 inches.

Hypericineae : Carpodontos lucida. Labillardiere : Snowdrop Tree : 25 to
30 : 4 to 6 inches.

Mimoseae : Acacia melanoxylon. Brown. : Blackhearted Wattle, or Native
Ash : 40 : 8 to 10 inches.

Atherospermeae : Atherosperma moschata. Labillardiere : Sassafras : 30 to
35 : 5 to 8 inches.

Diosmeae : Zieria arborescens : Rue Tree : 12 to 16 : 3 to 4 inches.

Escalloneae Brown. : Anopteros glandulosa. Labillardiere : Rose Bay : 15
to 20 : 3 to 5 inches.

Annonaceae : Tasmania Australis. Brown. : Spice Bark, or Tasman's Bark :
20 to 25 : 4 to 6 inches.

January 21 to 24.

On the 24th, having nearly expended our time and having ascertained the
forms of the shoals and completed the soundings of the channels in the
entrance of this truly remarkable harbour, we left Pine Cove on our
return: having a favourable wind we ran through Kelly's Channel and
anchored in Outer Bay, between Entrance Island and the bar, in order to
complete our water at the stream that runs over the beach, and to obtain
some sights on the Island for the rates of the chronometers. On
anchoring, several natives were seen on the beach calling to us, but the
wind was too fresh to allow of our communicating with them that day.

January 25.

But early the next morning, our boat being sent on shore with our empty
baricas and some casks for water, our party was amicably received by a
tribe of natives, consisting of six men and four old women; they came
forward unarmed, but as we afterwards found, their spears were concealed
close at hand.

Some presents were distributed amongst them, of which the most valuable,
in their estimation, were empty wine-bottles, which they called moke,
this word was however used by them for water also, so that it was
doubtful whether the word meant the article itself or the vessel that
contained it. Our familiarity increased so rapidly that by the time that
we had dug two wells to receive the water which was flowing over the
beach, they had become very inquisitive, and made no hesitation in
searching our pockets, and asking for everything they saw. One of the
men, upon being detected in the act of pilfering a piece of white paper
from Mr. Cunningham's specimen box, immediately dropped it, and drew
back, much alarmed for fear of punishment, and also ashamed of having
been discovered; but after a few angry looks from us, the paper was given
to him, and peace was soon restored.

Our dog, being a subject of much alarm, was fastened to the stern of our
boat; a circumstance which prevented their curiosity from extending
itself in that direction, and thus our arms were kept in convenient
readiness without their knowledge.

As soon as our boats were loaded and we had embarked the natives retired
to a bush; behind which we observed the heads of several children and
young women. As many as sixteen were counted; so that this tribe, or
family, might be composed of from twenty-five to thirty persons, of which
we only saw six who were grown men.

They were stouter and better proportioned than the natives of New South
Wales; and, unlike them, their hair was woolly: the only covering in use
amongst them was a kangaroo-skin, which they wore as a cloak over their
shoulders. On the return of the boat after breakfast, they did not make
their appearance, and it turned out that they had crossed over to the
sea-side in search of shellfish; but on the boats going in the afternoon
for a third turn of water, two natives whom we had seen in the morning
came towards us: one of them submitted his head to the effects of Mr.
Cunningham's scissors, which had, much to their gratification and
delight, clipped the hair and beard of one of our morning visitors: a
slight prick on the nose was not ill-naturedly taken by him, and excited
a laugh from his companion.

During the day the following specimen of their language was obtained by
Mr. Cunningham: -

Arm : Yir'-ra-wig.
Nose : Me-oun.
Fingers : War'-ra-nook.
Eyes : Nam'-mur-ruck.
Elbow : Nam-me-rick.
Ear : Goun-reek.
Hair of the head : Pipe, or Bi-pipe.
Beard : Ru-ing.
Nipple : Ner-ri-nook.
Knee : None.
Toes : Pe-une.
Teeth : Kouk.
Tongue : Mim.
Neck : Treek, or Lan-gar-ree.
Navel : Wy-lune.
Fire : Lope.
A gull (or a bird) : Tir-ru-rar.
Toe-nails : Wan-dit.
Stone : Jal-lop, or Lone.
Kangaroo : Rag-u-ar.
Kangaroo-skin : Lan-num-mock.
Water, or a vessel to carry it in : Moke.
Yes : Wa-ak.
Come here, or come back : Ar-gar.


Banksia australis : Tan-gan.
Archistroche lineare : Ta-bel-lak, or Le-vi-lack.
Corrrea rufa : Nirr.
Mesembryanthemum aequilaterale : Nu-ick.
Acacia sophora : Gur-we-er.
Melaleuca : Rone.
A tree : Pill-i-a ere-wig.

January 26.

Early the next morning we sailed over the bar, though not without
grounding, for the wind being from the westward we were obliged to make
several tacks, by which we necessarily approached the edge of the banks;
this accident however did not detain us and by one o'clock we passed
round Cape Sorell.

January 29.

On the 29th at eight a.m. the Mewstone was passed and the wind being
fresh from South-West we rounded the South-East Cape at nine o'clock, and
at sunset we were off Cape Frederick Hendrick, which is the northern head
of Adventure Bay: between this and Quoin, or Sloping Island, we stood off
and on during the night. At daylight we entered the Derwent River and
anchored off Hobart town at seven o'clock in the morning.

1819. February 7.

Here we remained until the 7th of February on which day the judge
embarked and we left the place on our return to Port Jackson.

February 14.

On the 14th at dusk we passed Botany Bay, and it was dark when we were
abreast of Port Jackson; but, being sufficiently acquainted with the
place, and favoured by the wind, we did not hesitate to enter; and
anchored off Sydney Cove at nine o'clock in the evening.

Departure from Port Jackson, and commence a running survey of the East
Examinations of Port Macquarie and the River Hastings in company with the
Lady Nelson, colonial brig, and assisted by Lieutenant Oxley, R.N., the
Surveyor-general of the Colony.
Leave Port Macquarie.
The Lady Nelson returns with the Surveyor-general to Port Jackson.
Enter the Barrier-reefs at Break-sea Spit.
Discover Rodd's Bay.
Visit the Percy Islands.
Pass through Whitsunday Passage, and anchor in Cleveland Bay.
Wood and water there.
Continue the examination of the East Coast towards Endeavour River;
anchoring progressively at Rockingham Bay, Fitzroy Island, Snapper
Island, and Weary Bay.
Interview with the Natives at Rockingham Bay, and loss of a boat off Cape
Arrival off Endeavour River.

1819. February 15 to May 7.

Between the period of my return from the Derwent and the second week of
March we were prevented from making any preparation for our second voyage
to the North Coast by an unusual continuance of the heavy rains incident
to that season; which caused three floods on the Hawkesbury and Nepean
Rivers and did considerable damage to the ripening crops. This
unfavourable weather so retarded our equipment that it was the middle of
April before we were ready for sea; after which time we experienced
further detention from not being able to complete our crew.

May 8.

But at length we sailed from Port Jackson on the 8th of May.

As it was my intention to take the northerly passage through Torres
Strait, I proposed, in my way up the East Coast, to examine Port
Macquarie; and, in order that his Excellency the Governor might be
informed of the result of our proceedings as soon as possible, Lieutenant
Oxley, R.N., the Surveyor-general of the colony, accompanied me in the
Lady Nelson, colonial brig.

May 9.

By noon the following day the church of King's Town,* in Port Hunter, was

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