Quotes from the diaries
Eastern gales delayed Bass' return. The boat lay in Sealer's Cove, whilst he occupied the time in examining Wilson's Promontory. The height of this vast cape, though not such as would be considered extraordinary by seamen, is yet strikingly so from being contrasted with the low, sandy land behind it; and the firmness and durability of its structure make it worthy of being, what there was reason to believe it, the boundary point of a large strait, and a corner stone to the new continent. It is a lofty mass of hard granite, of about twenty miles long, by from six to fourteen in breadth. The soil upon it is shallow and barren; though the brushwood, dwarf gum trees, and some smaller vegetation, which mostly cover the rocks, give it a deceitful appearance to the eye of a distant observer.
A round hillock, very much like the Ramhead going into Plymouth Sound.
There arose many large smokes from behind the beach; probably from the sides of lagoons.
At daylight in the morning we discover'd a Bay which appeared to be tolerably well shelter'd from all winds, into which I resolved to go with the Ship, and with this View sent the Master in the Pinnace to sound the Entrance while we keept turning up with the Ship, having the wind right out. In the P.M. wind Southerly and Clear weather, with which we stood into the bay. Saw, as we came in, on both points of the bay, several of the Natives and a few hutts; Men, Women , and Children on the S. Shore abreast of the Ship, to which place I went I went in the Boats in hopes of speaking with them, accompanied by Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander and Tupia.
As we approached the Shore they all made off, except 2 Men who seem'd resolved to oppose our landing. As soon as I saw this I order'd the boats to lay upon their Oars, in order to speak to them; but this was to little purpose, for neither of us nor Tupia could understand one word they said.
We found here a few small huts made of the Bark of Trees, in one of which are 4 or 5 small children with whom we left strings of beads, etc. - After searching for fresh water without success, except a little in a Small hole dug in the sand, we embarqued, and went over to the N. point of the bay, where in coming in we saw several people; but when we landed now there were nobody to be seen.
01.05.1770 The woods are free from underwood of every kind, and the trees are at such a distance from one another that the whole Country, or at least great part of it, might be Cultivated without being obliged to cut down a single tree. In the woods between the Trees Dr. Solander had a bare sight of a Small Animal something like a Rabbit, and we found the Dung of an Animal which must feed upon Grass, and which, we judge, could not be less than a Deer; we also saw the Track of a Dog, or some such like Animal.
An excursion into the woods showed that they were free from underwood of every kind, and the trees are at such distances from one another that the whole Country, or at least a great part of it, might be cultivated without being obliged to cut down a single tree.
In December, Mr. George Bass obtained leave to make an expedition to the southward; and he was furnished with a fine whale boat and six weeks provisions by the governor, and a crew of six seamen from the ships. He sailed Dec. 3., in the evening; but foul and strong winds forced him into Port Hacking and Watta-Mowlee. On the 5th, he was obliged to stop in a small bight of the coast, a little south of Alowrie. The points of land there are basaltic; and on looking round amongst the burnt rocks scattered over a hollowed circular space behind the shore, Mr. Bass found a hole of twenty-five or thirty feet in diameter; into which the sea washed up by a subterraneous passage.
Bass passed a long sloping projection which I, Matthew Flinders, have called Point Bass, lying about three leagues south of Alowrie. Beyond this point, the coast forms a sandy bay of four or five leagues in length, containing two small inlets; and the southernmost being accessible to the boat, Mr. Bass went in and stopped three days. This little place was found to deserve no better name than Shoals Haven
indicated, but not named by captain Cook, had been entered by lieutenant Richard Bowen; and to the north, Port Stephens had lately been examined by Mr.C.Grimes, land surveyor of the colony, and by captain W.R.Broughton of H.M. ship Providence; but the intermediate portions of the coast, both to the north and south, were little further known than from captain Cook's general chart; and none of the more distant openings, marked but not explored by that celebrated navigator, had been seen.
In Mr.George Bass, surgeon of the Reliance, I had the happiness to find a man whose ardour for discovery was not to be represented by any obstacles, nor deterred by danger; and with this friend a determination was formed of completing the examination of the east coast on New South Wales, by all such opportunities as the duty of the ship, and procurable means, could admit.
We sailed out of Port Jackson early in the morning of March 25, and stood a little off to sea to be ready for the sea breeze. On coming in with the land in the evening, instead of being near Cape Solander, we found ourselves under the cliffs of Captain Cook's Hat Hill - the top of which looked like the crown of a hat -, six or seven leagues to the southward, whether the boat had been drifted by a strong current. Not being able to land, and the sea breeze coming in early next morning from the northward, we steered for two small isles, six or seven miles further on, in order to get shelter; but being in want of water, and seeing a place on the way where, though the boat could not land, a cask might be obtained by swimming, the attempt was made, and Mr. Bass went ashore. Whilst getting off the cask, a surf arose further out than usual, carried the boat before it to the beach, and left us there with our arms, ammunition, clothes, and provisions thoroughly drenched, and partly spoiled. but it was late in the afternoon before every thing was rafted off, and we proceeded to the islets. It was not
possible to land there; and we went on to two larger isles, lying near a projecting point of the main, which has four hillocks upon it presenting the form of a double saddle, and proved to be Captain Cook's Red Point. The cause of the point being called red, escaped our notice. The isles were inaccessible as the others; and it being dark, we were constrained to pass a second night in Tom Thumb, and dropped out stone anchor in 7 fathoms, under the lee of the point.
In the morning, we steered along the shore; and saw eight or nine miles from the south point of Bateman's Bay, a small opening like a river running south-westward. It was here that Mr. Bass found a lagoon with extensive salt swamps behind it. At noon, the east point of the opening bore N. ¼ W. seven miles, and the top of Mount Dromedary was visible about the haze.
Soon after noon. land was in sight to the S. S. E., supposed to be the Point Dromedary of captain Cook's chart; but, to my great surprise, it proved to be an island not laid down, though lying near two leagues from the coast. The whole length of this island is about one mile and a quarter, north and south; the two ends are a little elevated, and produce small trees; but the sea appeared to break occasionally over the middle part. It is probably frequented by seals, since many were seen in the water whilst passing at the distance of two miles. This island, I was afterwards informed, had been seen in the ship Surprise, and honoured with the name of Montague.
At daylight Mr. Bass continued his course with a fair breeze. At seven he discovered Two-fold Bay; but unwilling to lose a fair wind, reserved the examination of it for his return. At five in the evening the wind came at S. S. W.; and he anchored under the lee of a point, but could not land.
A sea breeze from E. N. E. enabled him to continue onward; and at eleven, he bore away west, round Captain Cook's Cape Howe. In the evening he landed at the entrance of a lagoon, one mile north of captain Cook's Ram Head, in order to take in as much fresh water as possible; for it was to be feared that a want of this necessary article might oblige him to discontinue his pursuit, at a time when, from the coast being explored, it would become more than ever interesting.
By noon, Bass had reached Two-fold Bay; and having ascertained that Snug Cove, on its north-west side, afforded shelter for shipping, he steered northward, and passed Mount Dromedary soon after midnight.
At noon, the distance run from the Ram Head, by computation, was thirty or thirty-five miles. The furthest land seen by captain Cook, is marked at fifteen leagues from the Ram Head, and called Point Hicks; but at dusk, Mr. Bass had run much more than that distance close along the shore, and could perceive no point or projection which would be distinguishable from a ship.
This bay seem'd to be but very little shelter'd from the sea winds, and yet it is the only likely anchoring place I have yet seen upon this coast.
At daybreak, the shore was not more than three miles distant; it was moderately high and rocky, and at the back were many hummocky hills. At nine we came abreast of a smooth, sloping point, which from its appearance, and being unnoticed in captain Cook's chart, I named Green Cape. The shore is rocky and nearly straight, and well covered with wood; the Cape itself is grassy. On the south side, the coast trends west, three of four miles, into a sandy bight, and the southward to Cape Howe.
The bay seemed to be well stocked with fish; and our success with hook and line made us regret having no seine, for the hauling of which many of the beaches are particularly well adapted. It is not improbable that Two-fold Bay, like some of the open bays on the east coast of Africa, may be frequented by whales at certain seasons: of this I have no decisive proof; but the reef of rocks, called Whale Spit, received its name from the remains of one found there. The natives had taken their share; and the dogs, crows, and gulls were carrying away the rest.
I tried to beat up to the port in the night, being sufficiently well acquainted to have run up in the dark, had the wind permitted; but we were still to leeward in the morning, and Mr. Westall made a good sketch of the entrance. At one o'clock we gained the heads, a pilot came on board, and soon after three the Investigator was anchored in Sydney Cove. So soon as the anchor was dropped, I went on shore to wait upon his Excellency Philip Gidney King, Esq., governor of New South Wales, and senior naval officer upon the station; to whom I communicated a general account of our discoveries and examinations upon the South Coast, and delivered the orders from the Admiralty and Secretary of State.
We sailed out of Port Jackson on July 8; and next morning came in with a part of the coast, north of Port Stephens, which captain Cook had passed in the night. Off a projection which I called Sugar-loaf Point lie two rocks to the south-eastward. We passed between these rocks and the point, and kept close in with the shore as far to the north as the hills called Three Brothers by captain Cook - Three remarkable large high hills lying contiguous to each other - as they bore some resemblance to each other.
We sailed amongst the Solitary Isles, of which five were added to the number before seen; and the space from thence to twelve leagues northward having been passed by captain Cook in the night, I continued to keep close in with the coast.
We discovered a small opening like a river, with an islet lying in the entrance; and at sunset, entered a larger, to which I gave the name of Shoal Bay, an appellation which it but too well merited. It is difficult to be found, except by its latitude; but there is on the low land about four leagues to the southward, a small hill somewhat peaked, which may serve as a mark to vessels coming from that direction.
the point off which shoals lay
Forby Sutherland, a seaman was buried here.
At eleven o'clock, the south head of Broken Bay bore W. by N. three leagues; and Mr. Westall then made a sketch of the entrance, with that of the Hawkesbury River, which falls into it. The colonists have called this place Broken Bay, but it is not what was so named by captain Cook; for he says it lies in latitude 33º 42', whereas the southernmost point of entrance is not further than 33º 34' south. There is in captain Cook's latitude, a very small opening, and the hills behind it answer to his description of some broken land that seemed to form a bay, when seen at four leagues, the distance he was off; but in reality, there is nothing more than a shallow lagoon in that place. In consequence of this difference in position, Cape Three-points has been sought three or four leagues to the north of Broken Bay; whereas it is the North Head of the entrance into the bay itself which was so named, and it corresponds both in situation and appearance.
having discovered it on that saint's day
In the morning, he entered the prettiest little model of a harbour he had ever seen. Unfortunately it is but a novel; for although the shelter within be complete for small craft, yet the depth over the bar is too small, even for boats, except at high water, when there is eight or nine feet. This little place was named Barmouth Creek. The country round, so far as examined, is rocky and barren near the sea; and towards the head of the creek, it is low and penetrated by salt swamps.
At noon Pidgeon House bore W. by N. In the evening Mr. Bass stopped in a cove, which Point Upright shelters from northern winds; and he employed the next day in looking round the country. The vallies and slopes of the hills were found to be generally fertile; but there being nothing of particular interest in this place, it was quitted on the 15th,