Australian Access Federation

You are here: Home Corpora Corpus of Oz Early English 1-058 (Original)

1-058 (Original)

Item metadata
author,male,Flinders, Matthew,25 addressee
Narrative Discourse
Word Count :
Plaint Text :
Private Written
Flinders, 1799
Document metadata

1-058.txt — 26 KB

File contents

July 8th
Monday. We weighed with a moderate Westerly Breeze, and at eleven oClock, passed between the Heads, when we set all sail & steered to the Northward along the Coast At seven in the evening took a departure from the south part of Cape Three Points, bearing WBN five miles. At two in the morning made the land to Leeward, which obliged us to keep farther out.
Tuesday 9th.
Our distance from the land, at day light was about four miles. It was rather low, and fronted with long, low, white, sandy beaches. Three lumps which I supposed to be Black Head seemed to lay at a considerable distance from the Coast, but it is no doubt connected by low, intermediate land.
At half past seven we sounded but got no ground with fourteen fathoms, at half a mile distance from a small reef of black rocks, which run off from a sugar loaf like point. There are two low, and therefore dangerous rocks which lay at S20°E three or four miles, and SE about two miles from this sugar loaf point. Captain Cook passed this part of the coast in the night and therefore did not see the rocks, but they require to be particularly looked out for, by any Vessel coming near the land. The latitude of the point is about 32°, 27' So. Cape Hawke lays N1° or 2°E from it and the intermediate coast is mostly beach, but divided at intervals by short stony heads.
We got ground with ten fathoms, at half a mile distance from the shore of Cape Hawke. The two Hillocks mentioned by Capt. Cook stand upon the pitch of the Cape, and are covered with brush down to the low cliffs. The strata in these cliffs lay 40 or 50 degrees from the horizontal line.
At noon the observed latitude was 32°,7',34" So; the north extreme which afterwards proved to be one of the Three Brothers, but now made like any island, bore N10°E; and Cape Hawke S5° W seven miles. [2] From the Cape, the coast falls back, forming a kind of double bay. The land is low and rises but very gradually ridge over ridge inland to a moderate heighth. The Country looked pleasant enough from the sea, but the trees appeared small and mixed with brushwood.
We kept along the low shore at four or five miles distance, with a light southwesterly breeze till half past seven, when the latitude [indecipherable] was 31°,51'. The southernmost of the Three Brothers then bore N W B N and should be in about 31°,43' or 44 south. They have been described "as remarkably large and high", but they did not appear so to me. They are sloping hills and their conspicuousness seems principally to arise from the lowness of the neighbouring land. It is necessary to remark here, that their form & situation in Capt. Cook's chart, are erroneous; the latter differing even 20' of latitude from the account of them in the voyage. A little south of these hills, the coast falls back into a bight; the head of which could not be discerned, for its being nearly dark. There may probably be a small inlet here. At eight P:M: when the outermost hill bore N W 1/2° W we got ground with 35 fathoms and at midnight with 55 having continued our course along the shore; but at daylight found ourselves much farther off and to the southward of our expected situation.
Wednesday 10th.
The observed latitude at noon 31°,37',48" being 33' south of the log and nearly the whole of this difference must have arisen since eight oClock on the last night. The extreme land in sight [bore] NNW1/4W from the mast head and the easternmost of the Three Brothers bore S60°W: our distance from the nearest shore was about five or six leagues. This extraordinary current I attributed to our greater distance off the coast; for in the preceding twenty four hours when we were close in shore, the difference between the observation and the log, was 8' in our favour.
This morning we found, that the Sloop had sprung a very bad Leak which admitted as much as water as kept one pump constantly going. [3] By its coming on suddenly, I judged, that it could not be occasioned by any straining of the Vessel. It was however a serious cause of alarm; and the Maize, with which, the sloop had been before loaded, was now continually choaking up the pumps. Having a fresh breeze from the southward of West, we got tolerably well in with the land by sunset; at which time, the same north extreme seen at noon, bore N19°W. and the easternmost of the Brothers S40°W. At ten oClock the hummock which had been the north extreme, bore NW three miles, in which situation we had thirty five fathoms with a sandy bottom.
Thursday 11th.
Our distance from the land at daylight, was four miles. It is low near the sea and skirted by a sandy beach; but rises almost immediately to a moderate heighth; it is well cloathed with timber and diversified by irregular and somewhat steep hills & vallies. The Solitary Isles were soon after in sight. The principal of these Isles are five in number, extending from 30°,14' to 29°,58' south; and the outer & northernmost is seven or eight miles off shore. There are as many more smaller ones laying close in.
It had been my intention to land upon some of these islets, had it been possible and should any inducement present itself; but we neither saw Seal or Bird. They seemed to be covered with some short brush and two of them being lately burnt, proves that they are visited by natives. There is a general likeness amongst several of them, in that they appear almost separated into two unequal parts; but the largest of the isles is not more than one mile and a quarter in length. In the colour of the rock and in their general appearance they much resemble the small islands laying off Tasman's Head, and might with equal propriety be termed the Miserable, as well as the Solitary Isles. There is a patch of breakers between the two southernmost Isles, but we had fifteen and seventeen fathoms through, within them, altho' the water seemed to have a strong inclination to break in many places. [4] I think it would be dangerous for a ship to pass between any of them, till they are better known.
At noon the observed latitude was 29°,57',25" south, the northernmost islet bearing EBN or true East and a low sandy point at the northern extreme N3°E; our distance off shore was two or three miles & the soundings 10 fathoms upon a sandy bottom. The Country still retained the same woody, hilly, irregular, though not u[n] pleasing appearance; but in running along shore in the afternoon, its got manifestly worse, having more tendency to sand. The small projections that opened out, as we sailed along, often presented the delusive appearance of openings behind them; and we were the more inclined to entertain these hopes, as Capt. Cook passed along this part of the coast in the night. At half past two, a small island opened off from a low rocky point, behind which there is a small river running in to the SW, but the breakers seemed to extend mostly across the entrance. If there is any passage, it lays on the south side of the island.
At half past three, a peaked hill standing four or five miles inland, and more conspicuous than usual, bore true West; (see sketch No 1) Before 5, we stood in for what appeared to be an opening; and about dusk were in the entrance of a wide shoal bay [Actually the Clarence River estuary]. Our soundings were from five to three and half fathoms on the south side of the entrance, and the breakers extending from the low north point more than half way across, shewed that it was the deepest side. In standing onward the water shoaled to ten feet; upon which we wore; and on hauling up close to the south head, deepened to four four fathoms. Soon after,we anchored in two and a half fathoms on a hard, sandy bottom; the extreme of the South Head bearing EBN & the breakers from the north side NE: between these, we were exposed to the sea winds. [5] 
The objects that induced me to come into this bay [Clarence River estuary], were, that we might have daylight to run along the remaining part of the coast which Capt. Cook had passed in the night; and to ascertain a place of safety to run for, should the wind come dead on the coast, on our return. The leak was also a part of the inducement; for should this place turn out to be of consequence enough to be worth expending a few days in its examination and a convenient place offer itself for laying the Sloop on shore, I intended to get it stopped in the mean time. During the night, the ebb tide ran near two knots past the Sloop.
Friday 12th.
At day light in the morning I went upon the south head of the entrance and took bearings of the few remarkable objects that presented themselves. The Bay [Clarence River estuary] appeared from thence to be a large extent of shoal water, with channels somewhat deeper in different parts of it. The principal one seemed to be that in which the Sloop lay, which ran West along the south side of the bay till it turned round the west end of a middle shoal. This shoal is mostly dry at low water. We afterwards went up this channel in the boat: and round the shoals; but altho the tide ran very rapid, there were scarcely three fathoms any where; and in going toward some branches in the north part of the bay, were obliged to get out and drag the little boat over the sands into another channel, The north point of the entrance into this bay is only a projecting spit of sandy ground; for the water turns sharp round the point and runs to the northward nearly parallel with the coast line. Along this shore, there is a deeper channel but the swell from the sea seems to prevent the tide from making a clear passage out, for the channel becomes shoaler as it approaches the entrance. The tide having fallen so much as to preclude our return by the way we came, we were obliged to try this passage tho' it was at the risk of swamping the boat; for the ebb tide ran with with increased rapidity in this shoal water; and meeting the sea swell and southerly wind, the water broke at times all across from the north point to the middle shoal and made such a jumble that the Oars could scarcely be used. [6] In one minute however, the danger was past; for the velocity of the tide was such, as to carry the boat to windward against all obstacles. It was only necessary for us to keep the boat end on, to the sea, to prevent her from being filled.
Having returned to the Sloop, I took the Sextant and artificial horizon on shore to the south head to observe for the latitude. The Sun being more than half an hour distant from the meridian, gave me time to examine three Native's huts that stood at a little distance: they were of a circular form, of about eight feet diameter. The frame was made of the stronger tendrils of vine crossing each other in all directions and bound together with strong wiry grass at the principal intersections. The covering was of bark of a soft texture, resembling the bark of what is called the Tea tree at Port Jackson; and so compactly laid in, as to keep out both wind & rain: the entrance is by a small avenue projecting from the periphery of the circle and does not go directly into the hut but turns sufficiently to prevent the rain from beating in. The heighth of the under part of the roof is about four & a half or five feet and those that I entered had collected a coat of soot from the fires which had been made in the middle of the huts. Those who have been in an Oven will have a tolerably exact idea of these habitations, but the sides of these are nearer to a perpendicular than those of ovens usually are. One of the three huts was a double one in this form containing two recesses with but one entrance, intended most probably for kindred families This hut would contain ten or fifteen people. Bongaree who was with me, admitted that they were much superior to any of the native houses he had before seen. He brought away a small hand basket made of some kind of leaf which would contain five or six pints of water and was nearly such as I have seen used at Coupang in the island Timor for carrying the toddy about in.
The meridional Altitude of the Sun gave the latitude of the entrance into the bay 29°,26', 28" south. There were many many white Cockatoos and Parroquets about this bay, as also crows whose notes were much more short & hasty than any I ever heard. [7] Numbers of Pelicans frequent the shoals and some Gulls and Redbills. The country itself is very sandy where we went on shore. The Palm-nut tree grows here which is the third kind of Palm mentioned by Capt. Cook as being produced in New South Wales. He says "it was found only in the northern parts" and as Bongaree who is tolerably well acquainted with the country as far as Port Stephens never saw or heard of it before, this is probably one of the most southern situations it will be found in. We found the individual nuts scattered about the fire places of the natives, and observed that the lower ends had been chewed and sucked in the same manner that artichokes are eaten; this method, on getting some that were ripe, we afterwards practised. The taste was rather pleasant at first but left an behind that scarcely tempted me to try a second. The eatable part astringency of the nut in this way is so small as to be scarcely worth the trouble of sucking it out from the fibres. The individual nut is about the size of a Walnut: within the outer skin there is a hard shell like cocoanut, and within this, two or perhaps more, almond-like kernels. The nut, as taken from the tree, is an assemblage of these set into a core and is, from the size of a man's two fists to that of his head; its size and the furrows or indentations upon the surface, struck me on the first view with its resemblance to the exterior form of the Bread-fruit, but perhaps a pine apple is a better object of comparison. The stem of the tree is short and none were seen of two feet or even eighteen inches in diameter. The branches do not ramify out into twigs, but keep their size to the extreme, where the leaves are produced surrounding the fruit: one or two smaller branches sometimes strike off from the main one and produce their leaves in the same way without fruit. The heighth of the tree altogether, may be from fifteen to twenty five or thirty feet Suckers or Branches shoot our from all heights below the fruit bearing branches and growing downwards along the stem, enter the ground & radicate; becoming not only roots but supporters to the tree. [8] I saw one that descended in this manner from considerably above where the large branches struck off from the stem. It was in low sandy situations that this tree was principally found. May not this fruit be the Mellori of the Nicobar Islands? The description given of it in the 3rd Volume of the Asiatic researches, seems to answer in every part as far as my examination went; for having no idea at the time of the value of the tree and being foreign to my pursuits, I did not pay particular attention to it. The method of cooking this fruit used by the natives of Nicobar is given in the description and may be found in the annual register for 1793.
As this Bay seemed to deserve but a very superficial examination I did not think it worth staying any longer and therefore got underweigh at one oClock, the tide being then rising by the shore, altho' the stream was still running out.
There was but ten feet in some parts of the entrance, and the wind dying away, we were obliged to get the sweeps out to prevent the SE swell from setting the Sloop amongst the breakers that lay off from the north side. At four oClock the south head bore SWBS. four miles when we sounded in seventeen fathoms & at sunset when it bore SSW1/2W: five miles, in 25 fathoms. Two other heads bore S:W:b:W: and W:bN: behind which there was some appearance of an inlet; and it is not improbable, but that there may be another entrance into the shoal bay behind one or other of these heads.
I can give no particular mark that will point out the situation of Shoal Bay but its latitude and the somewhat remarkably peaked hill that lays about four leagues to the southward of it. Was any vessel ever likely to visit it, it would be necessary to remark, that either of the two heads above mentioned might be mistaken for the south head of the bay.
We had a moderate breeze all night from the SW and at ten oClock on Saturday. [9] 13 saturday morning Cape Byron bore N67°W three miles, and at this same time the Peak of Mount Warning was just topping over it. Capt. Cook observes that it bears NWbW from the Cape: the Bearings therefore, given in his voyage,are reduced from the magnetic to the true bearings.
At noon the latitude was 28°,32',12" south, being but 4' south of the Log. Mount Warning bore W8°N and Cape Byron S16°W. 7 or 8 miles. Towards the evening as we brought the Mount to bear more to the southward, it put on a Cocks-comb like appearance (see sketch of it No 2) We had hauled more off the shore soon after noon, to pass without the reef laying off Point Danger, the wind being from the eastward. At ten in the Evening the meridional altitude of Scorpionis, gave our situation to the northward of the reef, and finding no bottom either at eight oClock or at ten with forty five fathoms, we edged more away towards the land, and at day light kept well in finding the land to be at a considerable distance.
Sunday. 14
At ten in the morning we steered West for a large space where no land was visible; and seeing breakers off the south point of the opening, were satisfied that this was Moreton Bay. The breakers are occasioned by a small, flat, rocky island which lays north three or four miles from Cape Lookout. We passed between these and when the Point bore S5°E two & half miles, got ground with 20 fathoms, the bottom a blackish peppery sand. At noon Point Lookout bore SE three or three and half miles and the observed latitude being 27°:24':6" it raised some doubts whether this could be Moreton Bay, for Capt. Cook's latitude of the Point is 27°:6'. This however proved to be Point Lookout and its latitude must be about 27°:26' 3 / 4" south.
After steering half an hour longer upon a West Course, for an opening in the head of the bay, the water shoaled to four fathoms; and seeing breakers running out from the low sandy south side of the opening towards the middle of the Bay, we wore round and steered NE past the shoal water and then kept away along the shore for the northern extreme. [10] There appeared to be a very large extent of water within the opening, but I suspect there is no passage for a vessel this way. The country to the seaward is wretchedly sandy as was that which we sailed along in the afternoon. At dusk Cape Moreton bore West two or three miles, and the highest Glass House whose peak was just topping over the distant land had opened round it at W3° or 4° N. Two Haycock like hummocks distinct from any other land opened soon after a few degrees to the southward. We now hauled in round Cape Moreton to go into Glass House Bay [Moreton Bay] and when the extreme of the Cape bore south one mile and half struck soundings with fourteen fathoms upon a sandy bottom. Steering West, we carried eight fathoms till eight oClock, when having little wind, and that from the southward, we dropped the Anchor for the night, Cape Moreton bearing EbS two or three miles. In the Morning we made a trip over to the Glass Houses, the wind being from the South-westward, but getting into shoal water kept working to windward near the eastern shore till noon. The observed latitude then was 27°:00':29" south and Cape Moreton bearing.
Monday. 15 
E10° to N 2 or three miles will be in the same latitude allowing the variation to be 10° east. This differs 4 1/2' from its situation in Capt. Cook's voyage. At two oClock we bore away to go round the Shoal which had obliged us to tack in the morning, finding there was no passage between it & the Cape Moreton Shore. Some part of this Spit, is so near the surface of the water, that the swell from the sea broke upon it. We passed over the north point of the Shoal in a quarter less three fathoms, Cape Moreton then bearing East, six miles and a low sandy point on the west shore S41°W. The water deepened immediately to eight fathoms, but was very irregular afterwards between three and a half fathoms and thirteen. At eight in the evening we anchored in eleven fathoms, about two miles from the low sandy shore on the west side of the Bay [Moreton Bay]. [11] 
During the night I took two sets of distances of the star Fomalhaut east of the Moon's nearest and two of the star Antares west of the Moons farthest limb. The corresponding time by the watch being corrected by altitudes of the stars Altair & Achirnar, and compared with the lunars, gave the longitude of the Anchorage 153°:18':25" east of Greenwich, which being reduced to Cape Moreton by the Sketch will be 153°:30':50" east for its longitude. According to Capt. Cook the longitude of the Cape is 153°:32 S.
Tuesday. 16
At daylight we again weighed to turn up the bay, the wind being still from the southward. Assisted by a strong flood tide, we made good progress, but in half an hour were obliged to tack having gotten into two and a half fathoms upon the edge of a large shoal. In stretching to the Southwest our soundings were various: it first deepened to seven, then gradually shoaled to two and a quarter; deepened to five, shoaled again to two and three quarters and then again deepened to five and six fathoms. Seeing an opening in the low western land, I wished to anchor near it, in order to examine it with the boat whilst the returning tide was running, but here again the water shoaled and obliged us to tack for deeper water to anchor in. At a quarter past eight dropped the Anchor in three and three and half fathoms; the opening bearing N50°W about five miles and the extreme of the land towards Cape Moreton N38 1/2 East. From a low sandy point which is called Point Skirmish in the sketch of Glass House Bay [Moreton Bay], we proceeded up the opening which proved to be a river leading towards the Glass House Peaks. These Peaks stand upon the low flat ground considerably within the mountains; and as far as I could judge, had every appearance of being volcanic. This was in some measure confirmed by the quantity of pumice stone laying at high water mark upon the eastern shore of the river, when we landed to see the nature and appearance of the country; the ebb tide which came very strong down the river not permitting us to proceed far up it. [12] Amongst the largest and most common trees, there was one which I had never seen at Port Jackson. The leafy parts afford a dark shade and bear some resemblance to a Pine: when cut, the wood smelt strongly of Turpentine, which it also exsuded from places where the Bark had been wounded. The external part of the wood is white, but the body of it is of a reddish brown; the bark somewhat resembles that of the tree called the iron bark at Port Jackson. The soil was every where sandy where we saw it. In returning to the sloop, we passed by a dry shoal laying off the mouth of the river. The deep channel into the river is between this shoal & Point Skirmish and there is from three to six fathoms in it. From the situation where the Sloop lay at this time, the bay had no appearance of closing round but seemed to promise a large river at its head and a communication with Moreton Bay , if not something more interesting. At 3 in the afternoon we got under weigh with a light northerly air to proceed up it. In passing over the edge of the shoal upon which we had anchored, the Sloop touched the ground, but the rise of the tide took her over into deep water in a few minutes, and we then steered South, carrying regular soundings with us from six to four and a half fathoms till dark and then anchored about three miles from the western shore in five fathoms upon a bottom which was soft & muddy, whereas heretofore, the ground had been always sandy. The extreme of the land near Cape Moreton N33 1/2° E and the highest Glass House N44 1/2° W. [13] 
Wednesday. 17th 
At daylight on Wednesday morning we again weighed and turned up with a southerly breeze, as long as the tide lasted. At half past ten oClock, anchored one mile and a half off a point that has red cliffs in it, in three and half fathoms. A little West of this Point I observed the latitude with the artifical horizon to be 27°:16':25" south. The bight which lays round the Point, is shoal with a muddy bottom; the land is low, but not so sandy as in the neighbourhood of the river. The rocks are a strongly impregnated Iron stone, with some small pieces of granite & chrystal scattered about the shore. From Red Cliff Point we pulled over to a green head about two miles to the westward, round which the bight is contracted into a river like form, but the greatest part of it is dry at low water. The wood that we collected at high water mark for our fire, proved to be Cedar and of a fine Grain.
A light sea breeze coming from the northward in the afternoon on our return on board, we got the Sloop underweigh, steering our course SEbS; the water gradually shoaled to two fathoms, and the breeze dying away at the same time, we pulled to the north eastward with the sweeps into two and a half and then anchored for the night upon a soft muddy bottom. The extreme near Cape Moreton now bore N21°E, and the farthest connected land now visible on the same side of the bay [Moreton Bay], ENE, which is not far from the latitude of the entrance from Moreton Bay : the shore to the S:W: was four or five miles distant.
Thursday 18th.
In the Morning there was a moderate breeze from the Southward and having a flood tide we got underweigh. [14] After running a little to the Northward to get into deeper water, we hauled up to pass between two islands of from three to four miles circuit, each. The northernmost one is the largest and appeared to be well covered with wood, probably the greater part of Mangrove, the Island being low almost with the water's edge. The foliage of the Trees upon the southern one was equally dark and luxuriant with this, but the interior part of the Island is higher. To the southward of this last also; there are two smaller Islands, nearly upon a level with the first, and covered with Wood; the southernmost one, however, is very small. In passing between the two first islands, our soundings were from seven and a half to four and a half fathoms, with a muddy bottom, and then increased to twelve fathoms; but shoaling again suddenly to three, we tacked to the westward a little before ten oClock. In this situation the entrance from Moreton Bay was open, the south side of it bearing N68°E. six or eight miles and the west side of what will now be Moreton Island bore N.2°.W. Another island, apparently larger than either of the four before mentioned, bore from the same place, S 55° to 34° E at the distance of about five miles.