After this butchery, for the poor animals suffered themselves to be shot in the eyes with small shot, and in some cases to be knocked on the head with sticks, I scrambled with difficulty through the brush wood, and over fallen trees, to reach the higher land with the surveying instruments; but the thickness and height of the wood prevented any thing else from being distinguished. There was little doubt, however, that this extensive piece of land was separated from the continent; for the extraordinary tameness of the kanguroos and the presence of seals upon the shore, concurred with the absence of all traces of men to show that it was not inhabited.
···Not being able to obtain a distinct view from any elevated situation, I took a set of angles from a small projection near the ship, named Kanguroo Head; but nothing could be seen to the north; and the sole bearing of importance, more than had been taken on board, was that of a high hill at the extremity of the apparently unconnected land to the eastward: it bore N.39º10' E., and was named Mount Lofty. The nearest part of that land was a low point, bearing N 60º E, nine or tem miles; but the land immediately at the back was high, and its northern and southern extremes were cliffy. I named it Cape Jervis, and it was afterwards sketched by Westall.
All the cliffs of Kanguroo Island seen to the west of the anchorage, had the appearance of being calcareous, and the loose stones scattered over the surface of Kanuguroo Head and the vicinity were of thAT substance; but the basis in this part seeemd to be a brown slate, lying in strata nearly horizontal, and laminae of quartz were sometimes seen in the interstices. In some places the slate was split into pieces of a foot long, like iron bars, and had a shining, ore-like appearance; and the strata were then further from the horizontal line than I observed them to be elsewhere.
A thick wood covered almost all that part of the island visible from the ship; but the trees in a vegetating state were no equal in size to the generality of those lying on the ground, nor to the dead trees standing upright. Those on the ground were so abundant, that in ascending the higher land, a considerable part of the walk was made upon them. They lay in all directions, and were narly of the same size and in the same progress towards decay; from whence it would seem that they had not fallen from age, nor yet been thrown down in a gale of wind. Some general conflagration, and there were marks apparently of fire on many of them, is perhaps the sole cause which can be reasonably assigned; but whence came the woods on fire? That there were no inhabitants upon the island, and that the natives of the continent did not visit it, was demonstrated, if not by the want of all signs of such visit, yet by the tameness of the kanguroo, an animal which, on the continent, resmbles the wild deer in timidity. Perhaps lightening might have been the cause, or possibly the friction of two dead trees in astrong wind; but it would be somewhat extraordinary that the same thing should have happened at Thistle's Island, Boston Island, and at this place, and apparently about the same time. Can this part of Terra Australis have been visited before, unknown to the woprld? The French navigator, La Pérouse, was ordered to explore it, but there seems little probability that he ever passed Torres' Strait.
This abundance of kanguroos makes hunting them profitable and easy; we succeeded in procuring twenty-seven which were taken on board alive, independently of those which were killed and eaten by the crew. This precious supply did not demand munitions nor fatigue; a single dog, named Spott, became our purveyor: bred by English fishermen for this kind of hunt, he killed them at once by tearing their jagular arteries. There was no at all necessary the presence and shouts of huntsmen to pull the victim away from certain death. With such a dog and with such a method of hunting, there can be no doubt that several persons could feed themselves very well on the island; at the same time one realizes that this innocent and weak race of kanguroos will be infallibly destroyed in a few years by several dogs of the type which I have discussed.
Among the many seals which populate the beaches of this island, one has, in particular, a newspecies of sea lions, which can be up to 3.2 m long. The fur of these animals is very short, very hard and very coarse; but its skin is dense and strong, and the oil prepared from its fat is as well as plentiful. In one or the other respect, the hunt of this amphibian offers valuable advantages. There are also other breeds of seals which are smaller and equally numerous, with good quality pelts.
At the entrance to Port Dache (Nepean Bay), one finds a large type of oyster which form their extensive banks; the flesh of this animal is tender and delicate. Our entomological collections produced 54 new kinds from 33 different families. There were many rich sponges and ascidia.
07.04.1802 The bay is perfectly sheltered from all southern winds; and as there were several spots clear of wood near the beach, it is probable that he kanguroos, and perhaps cassowaries, might be numerous. We did not stop to land, but got under way so soon as the bearings were taken, to beat out of the strait against the south-east wind; so little was gained, however, working all the day, that at eight in the evening the ship was still off the east end of Kanguroo Island.
This part of Investigator's Strait is not more, in the narrowest part, than seven miles across. It forms a private entrance, as it were, to the two gulphs; and I named it Backstairs Passage. The small bay where we had anchored, is called the Ante-chamber; and the cape which forms the eastern head of the bay and of Kanguroo Island, and lies in 35º 48' south and 138º 13' east, received the appellation of Cape Willoughby. Without side of the passage, and almost equidistant from both shores, there are three small, rocky islets near together, called thePages, whose situation is in latitude 35º 46½' east; these are the sole dangers in Back-stairs Passage, and two of them are conspicuous. ···