I took possession of Port Phillip in form and manner laid down by His Majesty's instructions, a copy of which had been furnished by the Governor and Commander-in Chief of New South Wales, hoisting the United Colours of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland on board and on Point Paterson and discharging three volleys of small arms and artillery. And everyone was served a double allowance of grog.
The coutry surrounding Port Phillip has a pleasing, and in many parts a fertile appearance; and the sides of some of the hills and several of the vallies, are fit for agricultural purposes. It is in great measure a grassy country, and capable of supporting much cattle, though better calculated for sheep. The most common kinds of wood are the casuarina and eucalyptus, to which Mr. Grimes, surveyor-general of New South Wales who visited the Port in 1803, adds the banksia, mimosa , and some others; but the timber is rarely sound, and is not large.
In the woods are the kanguroo, the emu or cassowary, paroquets, and a variety of small birds; the mud banks are frequented by ducks and some black swans, and the shores by the usual sea fowl common in New South Wales.
At eleven o'clock, we bore away eastward to pass Cape Schanck, a cliffy head, with three rocks lying off, the outermost of which appears at a distance like a ship under sail. It is also an excellent mark for ships desiring to go into Western Port, of which it forms the west side of the pricipal entrance; but as there are many breakers and shoals on that side, which extend almost to mid-channel, it will be necessary to give the cape a wide berth, by keeping over to Phillip Island on the starboard hand. At noon, we steered for Point Grant, at the east side of the entrance into Western Port. We then steered eastward along the south side of Phillip Island, and passed a needle-like rock, lying under the shore. Cape Wollamai is the east end of the island, and forms one side of the small, eastern entrance to the port. Wollamai is the native name for a fish at Port Jackson, called sometimes by the settlers, light-horseman, from the bones of the head having some resemblance to a helmet; and the form of this cape bearing a likeness to the head of the fish, induced Mr. Bass to give it the name of Wollamai.
We ran south-eastward along the shore until sunset, when a steep head, supposed to be the Cape Liptrap of Captain Grant, was seen through the haze.
In the evening an inlet was discovered, with many shoals at the entrance; and the deep channel being not found till a strong tide made it unattainable, Mr. Bass waited for high water; he then entered a spacious harbour which, from its relative position to the hitherto known parts of the coast, he named Western Port. The examination of this new and important discovery, the repairs of the boat, and the continuance of strong winds, kept Mr. Bass thirteen days in Western Port. The Island (since called Phillip Island) which shelters the port, is mostly barren, but is covered with shrubs and some diminuitive trees.
At daylight, he sailed with a fresh wind at west, which increased to a gale in the afternoon, with a heavy swell from the south-west; and he sought shelter behind a cape since named Cape Liptrap by Captain Grant. Next morning, he ran over to the islands on the west side of Furneaux's Land; but was obliged to return to his former place of shelter, where a succession of gales kept him until 26th of January.
Flinders inserts here in his report about Bass' expedition: I have continued to use the term Furneaux's Land conformable to Mr. Bass' journal; but the position of this land is so different from that supposed to have been seen by captain Furneaux, that it cannot be the same, as Mr. Bass was afterwards convinced. At our recommendation governor Hunter called it Wilson's Promontory, in compliment to my friend Thomas Wilson, Esq. of London.
Besides captain Grant's Rodondo Isle, I distinguished five or six less conspicuous isles, lying along the south and west side of this remarkable head land: these are called Glennie's Isles. To the N. 88º E. from Rodondo, and distant about two leagues, was a small island which appears to have been one of the Moncur's Isles; and in steering south-eastward, we got sight of the Devil's Tower., and of the high island and rocks named Sir Roger Curtis' Isles. These names were given by captain Grant in 1800; but he was not the discoverer of the places to which they are applied. They are all laid down upon my chart of 1799, on the authority of Mr. Bass; and when it is considered that this enterprising man saw them from an open boat, in very bad weather, their relative positions to Wilson's Promontory will be thought surprisingly near the truth.
A reef is mentioned by captain Grant, as lying to the southward between Rodondo and Moncur's Isles; and a rock, level with the water, was seen in the same situation by the ships Cato and Castle of Good Hope, from which last it received the appropriate name Crocodile Rock.
To the strait which had been the great object of research, and whose discovery was now completed, governor Hunter gave, at my recommendation, the name of Bass Strait. This was no more than a just tribute to my worthy friend and companion, for the extreme dangers and fatigues he had undergone in first entering it in the whale boat, and to the correct judgement he had formed from various indications, of the existence of a wide opening between Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales.