The Rapid left the river Thames on 4 May, and arrived in Antechamber Bay, Kangaroo Island, on 19 August. The Cygnet left England on 24 March, 1836, with Messrs Kingston, Finniss, Symonds, Neale, Cannan, and Hardy, all of the Surveying Department. She touched at Rio, and did not reach Nepean Bay until 11 September. I [...]
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William Light (1786-1839) was born 27 April 1786 in Malaya. He was the second son of Captain Francis Light and Martinha Rozells, a Portuguese Eurasian. William Light spent his early years in Penang, but at age six was sent to England to be educated by his father’s friend, Charles Doughty. In 1799, at the age [...]Read more about the William Light
Journal Entries written by: William Light
Wednesday 17 August 1836
Thursday 18 August 1836
Made the land to the eastward of Encounter Bay; sandy shore, exactly as described by Flinders. At midnight, sounded in 35 fathoms.
Friday 19 August 1836
a.m. Fine weather, tacking to windward all the first part, the land being in sight from daylight; p.m. at four, light winds; Cape Willoughby S. By W. halfW., distant about three miles. At six, bore up for Antechamber Bay; at seven, wind dying away; half past seven, calm, and the vessel drifting near the rocky [...]
Sunday 21 August 1836
21 August -Early part, hoisting out the surveying boat; at half past eight, observed a boat coming from the westward; at ten, a whale-boat came along side, with Mr S. Stephens and Captain Martin of the John Pirie; at three p.m., sent the gig on shore with Mr Pullen and Mr Woodforde; some spots of [...]
Monday 22 August 1836
22 August-At half past six, got under way with a light breeze from the westward; at two p.m., came to an anchor about two miles from the point chosen by Mr Stephens for the South Australian Company’s Stores. I went on shore at a little sandy bay, where Mr Beare and a few others had their tents pitched. The ground here was much covered by small trees, the soil moist, and many shrubs growing with great luxuriance, perhaps from the late rains; no fresh water was to be found here, and the settlers had to depend for their supply, I believe, on Mr Stephens, who had to send across the bay four miles for it.
Tuesday 23 August 1836
23 August-Very bad weather, nothing done.
Wednesday 24 August 1836
24 August-Went on shore with Mr Woodforde, and walked to Mr Stephens’s settlement; almost the whole distance thickly covered with small trees and scrub,the soil was moist, and looked in some parts tolerably good.
Thursday 25 August 1836
25 August-Rain almost the whole day; employed on board.
Friday 26 August 1836
26 August-The same weather.
Saturday 27 August 1836
27 August-Light rain most part of the day; went on shore and took some angles.
Sunday 28 August 1836
Monday 29 August 1836
29 August-Fresh breezes and squally; went in the A class of net fishing boats used on the Thames estuary. The Rapid’s boat was built specially for the Colonization Commissioners by W.T. Gulliver of Wapping hatch-boat to examine the northern side of the bay, distant about four miles from Kingscote. There is a well of fresh water here, dug in the sand, close to high water mark, which supplies the settlers at Kingscote. The country here is low, and the soil appeared much better than that we had seen before; and altogether, it struck me that a settlement might be formed here at some future period, to great advantage.
Tuesday 30 August 1836
30 August-Employed in ascertaining the extent of the shoal, which runs from the northern side of the bay to the southward.
Wednesday 31 August 1836
31 August-Went to examine a fresh water river, about three miles to the southward and eastward; being low water, we could not approach for a long time sufficiently near to find the mouth of it, and a whole day was nearly lost. I at last, as the tide served, was enabled to enter it in [...]
Thursday 1 September 1836
1 September-Fresh breezes and squally; went on shore to take some angles, but owing to the weather could effect nothing.
Friday 2 September 1836
2 September-Too hazy for any observations.
Saturday 3 September 1836
3 September-Bad weather all day, and nothing done.
Sunday 4 September 1836
Monday 5 September 1836
5 September-The Duke of York being on the point of sailing, employed all day writing my reports to the Commissioners.
Tuesday 6 September 1836
6 September-Making arrangements for our departure from Nepean Bay, went on shore to engage one of the sealers.
Wednesday 7 September 1836
7 September-At half past eight, light airs and fine, got under way for Gulf St Vincent; at half past three, becalmed, with no prospect of a breeze; came to an anchor outside the shoal.
Thursday 8 September 1836
8 September-Very light airs; at six got under way, and stood for the N.W. bluff; at thirty minutes p.m. came to an anchor in ten fathoms, a beautiful little valley in view. At two, I went on shore, and was enchanted with the appearance of the whole. A fine stream of fresh water ran through the middle of the valley into the sea, and the soil was rich beyond expectation; my hopes were now raised to a pitch I cannot describe. I walked up one of the hills, and was delighted to find that as far as I could see, all around, there was an appearance of fertility, and a total absence of those wastes and barren spots, which the accounts I received in England had led me to expect.
Friday 9 September 1836
9 September-Being so much pleased with my excursion yesterday, I determined on running the brig more in shore, and remaining here some days; we therefore got under way, and ran into seven fathoms water; at nine, sent four tents on shore, but it took us nearly till dark before we could land all that was [...]
Saturday 10 September 1836
10 September-Fresh breezes and fine weather, very cold air. Employed all day examining the valley.
Sunday 11 September 1836
Monday 12 September 1836
12 September-Heavy rain with strong gusts of wind; could do nothing in the survey.
Tuesday 13 September 1836
13 September-Fresh breezes and squally, with hard rain; being anxious to get on with my work, Mr Pullen and I sallied forth, but the weather was so thick and boisterous we could do very little.
Wednesday 14 September 1836
14 September-Light breezes and very cold.Employed in taking angles.
Thursday 15 September 1836
15 September-Fine weather, employed in surveying. My servant, Cooper, who had volunteered to go to Encounter Bay, returned with a tribe of natives, who soon became intimate with our men. Having now spent as much time as I could well spare in this little paradise, I made preparations for returning on board; and at two p.m., sent the surveying instruments on board, and at four embarked myself, leaving Messrs Pullen, Claughton and Jacob, and the men on shore, to embark the following day with the tents, &c. The natives were engaged to remain and take care of our garden.
Friday 16 September 1836
16 September-We did not get all on board before two p.m., and from the variable winds and dark cloudy weather coming on, I did not think it right to get under way.
Saturday 17 September 1836
17 September-Calm and fine; at nine, Messrs Pullen, Claughton, Jacob and Woodforde (surgeon) landed to walk to Yankalilla. I went in my gig to examine an inlet about two miles to the northward, where I appointed a meeting with these gentlemen, desiring Mr Field to get under way and proceed to Yankalilla as soon as he could. On landing at this little inlet, which I shall call Finniss Valley, I found a little cove fit to moor a vessel of 70 or 90 tons, in any weather, but there is only room for one; and there is a beautiful stream of fresh water running into the sea, where a boat may approach to within fifty yards of a good spot for filling water casks. On joining my shipmates on the rising ground above, we beheld a valley three times as extensive as the last, and equally rich in soil; there is abundance of wood all the way, yet not so thick but that agriculture might be pursued without the trouble of clearing. From this we walked to Yankalilla, over undulating ground of good quality, and wooded in the same manner as before mentioned; passing several little runs of water which are dry in summer, sometimes edging our way down to the sea-at others, bending inland, mounting and descending as the ground presented itself: but having just landed, we were all quite satisfied when the walk was over. At two p.m., I went on board and sent the tents on shore.
Sunday 18 September 1836
18 September-Sunday, calm and cloudy, employed all the early part in sending necessary things on shore; at half past ten, went myself; being Sunday, we worked only as absolutely necessary; rain all night.
Monday 19 September 1836
19 September-Employed surveying on the plain.
Tuesday 20 September 1836
20 September-Out surveying, and walked up the valley; running in a south-easterly direction, between very high hills. I was enchanted with this spot, it put me in mind of some of the orchards in Devonshire, and I found it plentifully supplied with fresh water. From this valley we ascended the hills, crossed over to the seacoast, and returned to our tents; the whole distance fine soil.
Wednesday 21 September 1836
21 September-Very warm; out surveying. The flies this day for the first time appeared in swarms and were dreadfully annoying.
Thursday 22 September 1836
22 September-Rainy and foggy weather; having seen as much as I wished of this beautiful plain, at eleven a.m. I returned to the brig; the rest of the day employed in getting things on board.
Friday 23 September 1836
23 September…Felt some disappointment at the appearance of the land, as it looked so luxuriant from the ship; we could find no fresh water; a lake of some extent on the high ground above the beach proved, on reaching it, to be salt. Although the ground we went over was not so good as the rest we had seen, yet the country a few miles inland appeared the same as that we had left…
Saturday 24 September 1836
24 September-At eight a.m. light breezes with rain; at half past eight got under way, found our anchor broke nearly asunder in the shank, and we had neared the shore very much before the ship got way on her; at ten o’clock fresh breezes and hazy; at noon the weather clearer; at half past four [...]
Sunday 25 September 1836
25 September … I left the ship to examine what appeared to us a considerable inlet; the water shoaled very gradually, and about half a mile from our supposed inlet it became very shallow, and soon after the boat grounded. Seeing this could not be Jones’s harbour, which I was intensely anxious about, I resolved on returning to the A sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. brig and running higher up the Gulf, but on getting on board, Mr Hill, A merchant ship’s officer next in rank below the first mate; also known as a ‘second officer’. second mate , told me he had seen from the masthead a river to the southward of considerable breadth…
Monday 26 September 1836
26 September… After going some distance and finding it did not accord with Captain Jones’s description of the harbour he discovered, I determined on running higher up the Gulf…
Tuesday 27 September 1836
27 September…we came to anchor in three fathoms, about four miles from the shore, latitude 34°31′ south. From this position we could distinctly see the head of the Gulf as laid down by Flinders, and the opposite shore-nothing could look much worse, mangroves and very low swampy looking ground seemed to surround this bight. I now despaired of ever finding the beautiful harbour described by Captain Jones, but the jolly-boat with Mr Field was sent in shore to see if anything like an inlet could be found…
Wednesday 28 September 1836
28 September…; I was now full of hope that Jones’s harbour was at last found, and at one p.m. came to an anchor in our former berth, to await the arrival of Messrs Pullen and Claughton… At one p.m. Mr Pullen returned, reporting his entrance into the northern channel, &c.; no fresh water was seen, and the channel, though broad and deep at first, was reduced to A fathom is a measure of depth in the imperial system. One fathom is equal to six feet or 1.83 metres. one fathom water a short distance from the mouth. He further stated that there were two separate channels, thus forming two islands. This was so different to the account given by Jones that I felt a great disappointment…
Friday 28 October 1836
28 October-Light breezes and rainy.Employed building a store-house. The air very cold all day and night.
Friday 30 September 1836
30 September…At the end of this reach, a large inlet appeared, still keeping a southerly direction; but as I was anxious to examine to the eastward, we ran about one mile in that direction, when another creek appeared in a line with Mount Lofty; into this I bent my course, with the strong hope of finding it prove the mouth of some fresh water stream from the mountains… I landed for the purpose of tracing on shore the source or direction of this creek, but the swamp and mangroves checked me entirely, therefore I returned to the A class of net fishing boats used on the Thames estuary. The Rapid’s boat was built specially for the Colonization Commissioners by W.T. Gulliver of Wapping hatch-boat , which being now afloat, we got under way; and having now fully persuaded myself that no part of this harbour could be that described by Captain Jones, I resolved on returning to the A sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. brig , to run down the coast again, and see if by any chance we could have missed so desirable a shelter; but my mind was so impressed with the capabilities of this place, that it was my determination, should we be fortunate enough to discover the other, to return again to this as soon as I had made the first necessary survey…
Saturday 1 October 1836
1 October…Running down the coast, I was enchanted with the extent of the plain to the northward of the Mount Lofty range; and as we had very little wind, our progress was slow, and consequently more time for observation; all the glasses in the ship were in requisition. At length seeing something like the mouth of a small river, and a country with trees so dispersed as to allow the sight of most luxuriant green underneath, I immediately stood in for it, and at fifteen minutes past four p.m. came to an anchor in three and a half A fathom is a measure of depth in the imperial system. One fathom is equal to six feet or 1.83 metres. fathoms in mud and weeds, about one and a half miles from the mouth of the river…
Sunday 2 October 1836
2 October-Strong gales and a heavy sea; down top-gallant yards, and struck topgallant masts, blowing hard all day. At eight p.m. more moderate; midnight, moderate.
Monday 3 October 1836
3 October… at nine went on shore to examine the plains. And as two of my officers had said that they saw from the main-top something like a large river, only two miles from us to the southward, I resolved to walk there, and desired Mr Field to get under way and anchor the A sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. brig at the mouth – as should this prove to be the long-sought-for harbour of Jones, I could run the brig in and carry on the survey there. And at this place from the same point, our party consisted of Messrs Pullen, Claughton, Woodforde, a gardener named Laws, with a spade, and the gig’s crew; the latter were desired to pull along shore, and stop at the mouth of the river. Messrs Claughton, Woodforde and Laws kept some way inland to examine the soil as they went along, while Pullen and myself kept along the beach. Thus prepared not to miss the river, we proceeded, but about two miles off, we found nothing but a rather wide indenture of the coast, and were also surprised at the brig’s not anchoring, we therefore walked on about five miles further, and finding nothing like a river, returned to where we landed. Mr Field seeing distinctly our movements on shore, came back to the former anchorage – and at four p.m. we all returned on board. I was much gratified at the report Laws gave me of the soil, he being a good judge. It was, he said, excellent, and the further inland he was certain it would be still more so.
Tuesday 4 October 1836
4 October-Fresh breezes and fine; went on shore at nine a.m. to examine the plain. I cannot express my delight at seeing no bounds to a flat of fine rich-looking country with an abundance of fresh-water lagoons, which, if dry in summer, convinced me that one need not dig a deep well to give sufficient [...]
Wednesday 5 October 1836
5 October-Light breezes and fine. Having much to do in observing several bearings from the ship, for the purpose of constructing my hasty chart of this side of the gulf, I remained at anchor, and sent Messrs Claughton and Jacob to trace the river up if they could, until they found fresh water in it. At one a.m. these gentlemen returned, and said the river about four miles from the mouth was fresh, it was then a very narrow stream bending to the N.E., and appeared to have its source in the plains-a circumstance that led me to suppose that more of these lagoons existed in that direction; and as every appearance indicated that these lagoons would be dry in summer, I felt convinced that the torrents from the mountains must be the fountain from whence they were now filled. My previous observations at sea,which I remarked often to Mr Field before I saw this country, were that all the vapours from the prevalent south-westerly winds would rest on the mountains here, and that we should, if we could locate this side the gulf, be never in dread of those droughts so often experienced on the eastern coast of Australia. And I was now fully persuaded by the evidence here shown, as well as the repeated collection of clouds, and rain falling on the hills even at this season of the year.
Thursday 6 October 1836
6 October…At six, got under way to run down the coast, as the native woman on board said there was still a large river more to the southward, which we had passed in coming up…
Friday 7 October 1836
7 October-Strong breezes and cloudy. At eleven, the gale increasing, veered away fifteen fathoms more on each cable, and she held on well during the rest of the gale, which was most violent about noon. Toward evening, the gale moderated, but it was very squally throughout the night.
Saturday 8 October 1836
8 October-Very unsettled weather throughout the day; employed setting up topmast rigging and other jobs.
Sunday 9 October 1836
9 October-Still very unsettled weather; at noon calm, which lasted till eight p.m. Employed on board in writing, &c.
Monday 10 October 1836
…we proceeded down the coast in search of the river the native woman had mentioned. At half past one p.m. To ‘heave to’ is to reduce a ship’s sails and adjust them so they counteract each other and stop the ship making progress. It is a safety measure used to deal with strong winds. hove to abreast of the river, and sent Mr Pullen in the A light, narrow ship’s boat that could be rowed or sailed. gig to examine the entrance. At ten past two he returned, and reported his seeing a large river for some distance, but the bar of sand having such a surf over it that he was nearly upset. Again disappointed in my hopes of finding Jones’s harbour, I now felt fully convinced that no such thing could exist on this coast, at least as described by him. Captain Jones’s account says:
There are several other streams of fine water all along the eastern side of the Gulf St. Vincent. Sturt River is always open to the sea, but the others are closed by a bar of sand during the summer, through which the water filters. The inlet (mis-called by Sturt Sixteen-mile Creek) is a stream of fresh water, and is much deeper and wider than the rest. About fifteen or twenty miles north of this river, he discovered a fine harbour, sheltered by an island at its entrance; the southern passage through which he entered is about one mile wide, with three and a half to four A fathom is a measure of depth in the imperial system. One fathom is equal to six feet or 1.83 metres. fathoms water; he anchored here in three and a half A fathom is a measure of depth in the imperial system. One fathom is equal to six feet or 1.83 metres. fathoms , and remained a day and a night. He did not land on the main, but was on shore on the island, which is about three miles in circumference; it is sandy, but there is an abundance of fresh water on it, as well as some streams running into the harbour from the main land…
Tuesday 11 October 1836
…At a quarter to six got under way, light variable winds from the S.W. At noon we observed a boat coming towards us; at two p.m. hove to for the boat, which brought Mr Morphett and Mr Stephens. From these gentlemen we learned the arrival of the Cygnet at Nepean Bay, and that great part of the stores were already landed, and that the party had begun to hut themselves. I now resolved upon going into Rapid Bay, and after landing some stores there, to send the brig to Kangaroo Island, to fetch over the Assistant Surveyors, that they might be employed in the survey on this side of the Gulf, during my examination of Port Lincoln…
Wednesday 12 October 1836
Light airs from the eastward, and very fine weather; we all felt in high spirits, the air had a freshness quite exhilarating, and the idea of winter and gales being now over, we might set to work without any hindrances except what usually and unavoidably attend the commencement of such an undertaking…
Thursday 13 October 1836
13 October-Strong gales and a high sea. All the forenoon the ship pitched very much, but she held on well; at one p.m. it began to moderate, and by four we had fine weather. I went on shore, and we landed a few more things the same evening.
Friday 14 October 1836
14 October-Moderate breezes and cloudy. Employed all day getting things on shore and erecting a store tent.
Saturday 15 October 1836
15 October-The few remaining things left yesterday were landed early this morning. In the forenoon, I was employed in arranging the disposition of tents, &c. And the afternoon writing to the Commissioners, with a mind worn down with anxiety in consequence of such repeated bad weather checking our work, and the dread of having a host of emigrants out before I knew where to land them.
Sunday 16 October 1836
16 October-Fresh breezes and cloudy. At seven, the brig got under way, and reached over to the north-west; at eleven, the brig out of sight. All hands employed cutting wood, hut building, and various other jobs.
Monday 17 October 1836
17 October-Light breezes and fine, with cold air. At six, thermometer 52, noon 95, at two p.m. 105, at four 85, at six 62, at nine 52.
Tuesday 18 October 1836
18 October-Very sultry and unpleasant weather, at night pleasant weather.
Wednesday 19 October 1836
19 October-Light breezes and fine weather; employed in writing and drawing for the Commissioners.
Thursday 20 October 1836
20 October-Went with Messrs Pullen and Woodforde over the hills, to the next valley, and spent the day in looking over the country and taking a few angles.
Friday 21 October 1836
21 October-Employed these two days in my surveys of the coast, drawings, and reports. All this day changeable; at night hard rain.
Saturday 22 October 1836
22 October-Hard rain almost the whole day. At work on my chart.
Sunday 23 October 1836
23 October-Sunday. The Rapid arrived with Mr Kingston from Nepean Bay; employed this afternoon getting things on shore. Rain great part of the day, with strong breezes.
Monday 24 October 1836
24 October-Employed all day landing stores.
Tuesday 25 October 1836
25 October-Employed all day landing stores.
Thursday 27 October 1836
27 October-People employed in cutting wood for a store-house, and in various jobs.
Saturday 29 October 1836
29 October-Very sudden changes, hot and cold alternately, with showers. At five p.m. Captain Lipson and Mr Pullen arrived in the hatch-boat, from Nepean Bay. I wrote to Captain Rolls of the Cygnet to receive on board Captain Lipson and his family and proceed to Port Lincoln.
Sunday 30 October 1836
30 October-Very cold. Captain Lipson and Mr Pullen left at six p.m. to return to Nepean Bay; very cold all night, exceeding cold air.
Monday 31 October 1836
31 October-Employed all day in my hut constructing my chart, and the men all day in building a store-house. Very variable climate; at six exceedingly cold, at eight still colder, and cold all night.
Tuesday 1 November 1836
1 November-Calm and fine. The men employed constructing a store-hut – myself with chart.
Wednesday 2 November 1836
2 November-Employed all day in landing some stores from the Rapid, having determined on dividing the surveying party into two, one under Mr Kingston and the other under Mr Finniss, to make as many observations on this side the Gulf as possible during my absence at Port Lincoln or elsewhere, as I was perfectly satisfied as to the soil and extent of the country. Mr Kingston with the largest party, and Mr Gilbert with the greatest part of the stores, were directed to embark on board the Rapid for Holdfast Bay, and Mr Finniss to remain with his party at Rapid Valley; Mr Jacob taking charge of the stores for this party.
Friday 4 November 1836
4 November-The Rapid sailed for Holdfast Bay; I was obliged to remain at Rapid Valley, on account of the crowded state of my cabin, and intended going up in the A class of net fishing boats used on the Thames estuary. The Rapid’s boat was built specially for the Colonization Commissioners by W.T. Gulliver of Wapping. hatch-boat, which was hourly expected from Nepean Bay.
Saturday 5 November 1836
5 November-Employed in writing, drawing &c., and the men in building huts.
Sunday 6 November 1836
6 November-At four p.m. the Africaine, Captain Duff, arrived with Mr Gouger the Colonial Secretary, Mr Brown the Emigration Agent, and many other passengers. I went on board and found that the ship had touched at Nepean Bay, where hearing that I had ordered all the surveying party and stores to this part of the Gulf, they followed, imagining some very urgent reasons had induced me to take such a step, contrary to the instructions given in England, which were for the stores to remain at Nepean Bay. My reasons were sent home to the Commissioners very soon after. Mr Gouger was of course very anxious to know where we should settle – a question I was by no means prepared to answer; and the only thing I could do was to recommend his proceeding to Holdfast Bay for the present. This was not at all satisfactory, everyone in such circumstances being anxious not to move again after landing all his embarked property; I could only recommend this place as one from which they were the least likely to re-embark – stating strongly at the same time, that I could not guarantee permanent settlement there. To make the best of a doubtful case, both Mr Gouger and Mr Brown agreed to take their chance; and Captain Duff having very kindly offered me a passage, I embarked at ten a.m., on the 7th. After beating against northerly winds, we came to at six p.m. the following day (8 November), at Holdfast Bay, where we saw the Rapid at anchor. Mr Field and Mr Morphett came down to meet us before we anchored; the accounts given by these gentlemen, did not cheer the spirits of our newcomers although they were anything but unfavourable. I had to undergo a little torment, which I kept to myself, being still persuaded that the connection of these plains with the creek, their immense extent to the N.E., consequently towards the Murray, and the certain conviction in my own mind of the existence of plenty of rich soil, would, after a month or two of dissatisfaction, fully quiet any apprehensions now entertained by these gentlemen. And these surmises were more strongly impressed by the trip Messrs Field, Kingston, and Morphett had made a few miles inland, during which they had come to a fresh water river, much larger than any we had yet seen.
Wednesday 9 November 1836
9 November-Messrs Gouger and Brown, with Captain Duff and myself, guided by Mr Field, landed about two miles to the northward of the Creek at Holdfast Bay, to ascertain, if possible, the mouth of the river discovered by Messrs Kingston, Field and Morphett; and here I give a short extract of my letter written as soon as I got on board to the Commissioners:
We have this morning been looking for the mouth of the river and find it exhausts itself in the lagoons, these must either ooze through the sand into the sea, or be connected with the creek. I strongly suspect the latter, as the distance to the creek is small at this part, and the water in the upper part of the creek, where I grounded, was far from being salt. I feel more interested in this flat than ever, and have determined that a survey may be carried on here while I am in the other Gulf…
Thursday 10 November 1836
…I felt again quite broken with such repeated bad weather, blowing strong all night with a heavy swell and the ship pitching much.
Friday 11 November 1836
11 November-Fresh gales and heavy sea; at eight more moderate. Employed all day landing stores, &c. from the three ships but with much trouble on account of the high swell and surf; however, owing to the exertions of all employed, many heavy things were landed without accident; it blew hard again all night.
Saturday 12 November 1836
12 November-Still bad weather, and about noon one of the heaviest A squall is a sudden, sharp increase in wind speed. squalls we have yet had. I shall now give another extract of my letter to the Commissioners, of this date:
As various opinions are afloat as to the eligibility of the settlement here, I will now state my reasons in detail for the removal of the stores from Kangaroo Island, and the subsequent motions.
1st. I ought to have been sent out at least six months before anybody else, which would have given me time to settle emigrants or stores as they arrived.
2nd. Having seen so much beautiful country on this side [Gulf Saint Vincent, I was resolved on employing all the surveying gentlemen here, while I went round the other side and round Gulf Spencer, after which the site of the Capital would be fixed, and final arrangements made. The Rapid was therefore dispatched to Nepean Bay, and I went onshore in Rapid Valley to give up my cabin, and bring up some back work.
3rd. Hearing such lamentable accounts from our party at Nepean Bay from scarcity of water, I thought it best for the whole to come over, and for the want of another efficient officer I was obliged to divide the party into two instead of three; therefore the largest party, with Mr Kingston, should come to Holdfast Bay, and Mr Gilbert’s stores to accompany him also, Rapid Bay not having so good a beach for landing stores; and besides, should a gale come on, and a ship go on shore, all would be lost, whereas, at Holdfast Bay, lives and property in such a disaster would at least be saved, and most likely the ship also; had I a third party I would have landed them at Yankalilla. I could not make a store ship of the Cygnet to go from one part of the Gulf to another as stores might be wanted, from her inefficient sailing qualities, and her not being the kind of vessel required for such service.
4th. Looking generally at this place I am quite confident it will be one of the largest settlements, if not the capital of the new colony, the Creek will be its Harbour. Six months labour would clear a road down to it, and if not there is a hard, sandy beach the whole way, on which a mail coach might run. I next view the range of mountains going with a gradual slope into the plain where it ends altogether, and we see no other hills which gives me great hopes that this plain extends all the way to the Murray, and in spite of all the opinions on the subject now, I am positive there is quite enough of good rich land for every purpose; the low parts of this plain are covered with fresh water lakes, many of which are full of rushes, and in the winter a great part of the plain may be covered with water, but the ground rises gradually towards the mountains, and that part can never be flooded, and it has the same appearance that exists on the hills about Rapid Bay, the second valley, and other parts which are extremely rich. Much remains to be done also by proper management of the waters that have hitherto run in natural courses, by collecting them with proper dams, and conducting them through more eligible channels. This will I am sure be one of the finest plains in the world.
5th. If I had time to examine the other side of this Gulf, Port Lincoln, and Gulf Spencer, perhaps some better place might have been found for the stores; even then we should have wanted more men for their protection, as the natives on Yorke’s Peninsula and Gulf Spencer are represented much more hostile; when I say better place, I allude to the anchorage, and landing stores on a A lee shore is dangerous. It is a coast onto which the wind blows from the sea, presenting the danger that a ship will be blown onto shore. lee shore ; in other respects they cannot be better, having here plenty of wood and water, and for those who have stock there is plenty of good grass…
Sunday 13 November 1836
13 November-Employed landing stores, &c.
Monday 14 November 1836
Tuesday 15 November 1836
15 November-Ditto. Everything landed from the Rapid.
Wednesday 16 November 1836
16 November-Walked with Messrs Kingston and Brown to examine the plains, taking a south-easterly direction; we were much pleased with the appearance of the whole; at four p.m. returned on board, the weather looking bad, and the wind increasing fast from the westward; about six the Cygnet‘s Sailing ships carried various smaller boats for different purposes. A longboat was an open row boat accommodating eight to ten oarsmen that was capable of moving through high waves. long-boat in going from the shore to the ship unfortunately capsized in a A squall is a sudden, sharp increase in wind speed. squall , and went down; no lives were lost…
Thursday 17 November 1836
17 November-Still blowing fresh all day from the westward.
Friday 18 November 1836
18 November-The Cygnet‘s boats with the assistance of our jolly-boat raised the long-boat that went down on the 16th.
Saturday 19 November 1836
19 November-Employed on board arranging with Captain Duff to proceed to Hobart Town for stock, &c. The following is an extract from my letter of the same date to the Commissioners: I have also entered into an agreement with Captain Duff, to go to Hobart Town for sheep, oxen, &c. &c. The sheep to be fattened and killed here, and sold to all who are not entitled to rations, at a price fixed by Messrs Gouger, Brown, and Gilbert, those who are entitled to rations will get alternate days fresh and salt provisions. This measure I deem highly necessary for the welfare of the colony, for among our men, who have been seven months on salt provisions (and will be nine perhaps before the stock arrives) strong symptoms of scurvy appear-if any get the slightest scratch, he is not cured for a month or six weeks; and I am sorry to observe cases of sore feet and painful swellings occur too frequently. The oxen, withcarts cars complete, are very much wanted-no work can be carried on inland without them, they are indispensable; therefore I should not do my duty to omit sending for them. I am told, some are ordered from the Cape, but when will they arrive? And when they do, there will be work for treble their number-this can never be a loss to the Commissioners, for the purchasers of land will require them also, and for the present we cannot go on without them. In England and other countries where roads are made, houses are found for accommodation, &c. vehicles and animals are allowed for public duties, but in this country, no one knows how impossible it is to work without them, except those on the spot. The number I have sent for are as follows: 800 sheep for fatting and killing, 10 oxen with cars complete, such as are used by the government Surveying. Two men to take charge of the stock, to be engaged on their arrival here, at £3 a month with rations, and a prospect of future advancement as their conduct may deserve. The sale of fresh provisions will, I trust, nearly, if not fully, cover the expense of the ship’s freight. Having now settled everything for the present, I shall get under way and proceed for the creek, taking Mr Kingston with me, and there give him his line of operation, whence I shall proceed to Gulf Spencer, &c. and I am satisfied (if we find nothing better) whatever may appear now more eligible for individual comfort, a few years will make this plain the greatest and most wealthy settlement in the new colony.
Sunday 20 November 1836
20 November-Early part employed finishing our letters for England, at noon sent them on board the Africaine, and immediately after got under way for the creek… At six p.m. we came to anchor in the first reach in the creek, and all hands were overjoyed at the little A sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. brig’s berth, in so snug a spot in this hitherto unknown anchorage.
Monday 21 November 1836
21 November-Left the A sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. brig , in the A class of net fishing boats used on the Thames estuary. The Rapid’s boat was built specially for the Colonization Commissioners by W.T. Gulliver of Wapping. hatch-boat , with Messrs Kingston, Morphett and Pullen, to examine the southern reach, which I had before left unnoticed but here I will give a copy of my letter to the Commissioners:
Tuesday 22 November 1836
22 November-The harbour.
Gentlemen-I sent you my last report by the Africaine, on the 20th inst. I am now in hopes of seeing Captain Duff in Nepean Bay, before she sails for Hobart Town, that I may send this also. I could not leave this coast without looking once more at this harbour; the first impressions with regard to its being connected with the fresh waters grew stronger on my mind daily, therefore on leaving Holdfast Bay on the 20th inst. we steered at once for this beautiful anchorage, and ran the A sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. brig in, where we now lie at single anchor, with only twenty fathoms of chain out, in smooth water, although it is blowing a gale of wind from the S.W., with thick rainy weather.
…Mr Kingston accompanied me in the surveying boat to examine that creek taking a southerly direction which I had not had time before to look at carefully…
We were more than delighted to find it running into the plain at such a distance, and I am now more than ever persuaded that it is connected with the fresh water lakes; if not, it extends to within a couple of miles of them, and one of the finest little harbours I ever saw is now fairly known; we had, as you will see, three A fathom is a measure of depth in the imperial system. One fathom is equal to six feet or 1.83 metres. fathoms water, and very often four at dead low water, at five or six miles from where the A sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. brig was at anchor.
In the rough plan I send you I have put down all my views as to the Harbour and plain, and although my duty obliges me to look at other places first before I fix on the capital, yet I feel assured, as I did from the first, that I shall only be losing time. The eastern coast of Gulf Saint Vincent is the most eligible, if a harbour could be found that harbour is now found-more extensive, safe, and beautiful, than we could even have hoped for…I have never seen a harbour so well supplied with little creeks that would answer for ship building as this. We want some small craft sadly, from forty, fifty, sixty, or even one hundred tons; they would soon pay for themselves as the colony increases. A few horses are much wanted vehicles are absolutely necessary, work cannot go on without them.
Wednesday 23 November 1836
23 November-I have this day been taking more angles on shore to ascertain the direction of the harbour, but find they differ so little from the first that it is not worthwhile altering until an accurate trigonometrical survey commences. You are, I hope, aware that all my plans hitherto have been done from hasty angles by A precision instrument for measuring angles in the horizontal and vertical planes. theodolites , bearings by pocket compass, and in many cases estimated distances, for I have done them frequently alone and with interruption of bad weather; but I am quite sure they are more than sufficiently accurate to give you a better idea of the coast than any former chart, and quite enough for any ship to sail by. While employed on shore, I requested Mr Field to lay down a buoy at the end of each spit forming the mouth of this harbour-and I hope in a short time to be able to take all ships coming here into as beautiful and safe a harbour as the world can produce. We want a mud boat also to deepen the channel for large ships drawing more than seventeen feet water. If we consider these channels to have remained with three A fathom is a measure of depth in the imperial system. One fathom is equal to six feet or 1.83 metres. fathoms at high water for ages with the natural drainings from the land, a little human industry may render these parts as deep as the rest, particularly as they extend but a short distance. There is another and a stronger reason than all for this idea-I have observed the ebb tide runs much stronger than the flood, a proof that the harbour is supplied from more than the flowing of the sea. Yesterday in the gale, with twenty A fathom is a measure of depth in the imperial system. One fathom is equal to six feet or 1.83 metres. fathoms of cable, the ship rode to the tide the whole time with the wind right up.
Thursday 24 November 1836
At half past two, Messrs Kingston and Brown came on board, and I am, thank God, at last repaid for my former anxieties by finding the first impressions made on my mind of the plains and harbour so far realized. I cannot say how much I suffered (although I was determined not to allow individual feeling to hurt the future prospects of the colony) from the evident discontent experienced by all parties on my insisting on landing stores and all here; but I find now they have changed their minds, and think this is the place for the capital of a flourishing colony. I herewith enclose you Mr Kingston’s report:
24 November, 1836.
My Dear Sir – It affords me much sincere pleasure to be enabled to report to you that the branch of the harbour which we went up on Monday last, proves to be the embouchure of the fresh water river which I discovered the day after we had landed here, and which, as far as I have been able to see it, I am induced to believe, rises at the foot of Mount Lofty. I landed on Tuesday from the A class of net fishing boats used on the Thames estuary. The Rapid’s boat was built specially for the Colonization Commissioners by W.T. Gulliver of Wapping. hatch-boat , about a mile further north than we did the day previous, and proceeded as close to the banks as the mangroves would allow. About a quarter of a mile from where I landed, we crossed a creek from the eastward about fifteen yards wide and three feet deep; in the course of the day we crossed several other small ones, in all of which the water was salt. After proceeding on nearly a due southerly course, I found the water in the middle of the river nearly fresh (we had used much worse at Nepean Bay), and about a mile further perfectly so. Mount Lofty bearing E.50 S. I kept along the banks of the river, still running from the south, about two miles-when I think it had its source in the marshes, in which I found the river before alluded to, losing itself… [H]aving first crossed the river running down from Mount Lofty, my road for about six miles was across a plain of exceedingly fine land; I again traced the plain and then kept on its edge, being all along able to trace the course of the river through the reeds, until I found it again running through a regular bed. The river, although in parts shallow and much obstructed by fallen tea trees, would be navigable for flat-bottomed boats as far as the marshes, through which a regular communication with the upper part of it can easily be made. A very large body of water must come down the river in the winter, as in the upper part where the banks are thirty feet deep, there are evident marks of the floods reaching the top. I now feel assured that we have obtained sufficient information to convince the most sceptical of the great value and eligibility of these plains-possessing as they do, abundance of fresh water, an excellent harbour, with at least one river into it, which can easily be made eligible as a mode of communication between it and the plains.
Believe me, Sir,
Yours, most sincerely,
G. S. Kingston.
Friday 25 November 1836
25 November-We could not get under way this morning before eight o’clock, being calm. On reckoning up the quantity of bread left on shore at Rapid Bay, Mr Field calculates on their only having five days consumption of that article left, therefore I must go there and land some more for the party, and I [...]
Saturday 26 November 1836
26 November-Working to windward all the first part; at two p.m. came to an anchor in Rapid Bay; at six the hatch-boat left the ship with dispatches for England to go by the Africaine, now in Nepean Bay. Blowing strong all night from the eastward.
Sunday 27 November 1836
27 November-Employed landing bread, and I took the opportunity of accompanying Mr Finniss as far as the third range of hills, to examine that part of the country he was then surveying; I was delighted to find the tops of the highest hills composed of excellent rich soil, and quite moist.
Monday 28 November 1836
28 November-We could not get under way before two p.m. on account of the calm; at nine came to anchor in Nepean Bay, blowing very fresh.
Tuesday 29 November 1836
29 November-Remained at Nepean Bay weatherbound; our hatch-boat with Messrs Pullen and Morphett joined.
Tuesday 29 November 1836
29 November-Remained at Nepean Bay weatherbound; our hatch-boat with Messrs Pullen and Morphett joined.
Wednesday 30 November 1836
Thursday 1 December 1836
1 December-Light breezes and fine; at half past five got under way and worked up to Kingscote; the wind being still against us I resolved on getting some things we were in want of from the John Pirie. All the afternoon blowing fresh with very cold air.
Friday 2 December 1836
2 December-Calm; at eight fresh breezes and fine; got under way and proceeded for Port Lincoln, at five p.m.; at eight p.m. ditto and cold; at eleven passed Althorpe Islands; at midnight hove to.
Saturday 3 December 1836
3 December-At four a.m. made sail; at eight passed Wedge Island, with moderate breezes and fine weather, but a very great swell from the southward; at noon nearly calm, off Thistle Island; at three p.m. light baffling airs, and a very unpleasant swell; at five a breeze again from the eastward, which gave us hopes of getting in before dark, as the entrance to Port Lincoln was now quite apparent, and we were drawing the land At or towards the stern or rear of a ship. aft very fast, the bearings were Point Donington N .W., and the dangerous reef N.E. by E.; at six we were again baffled, and soon after the breeze died away; at seven we found we were going To be any distance behind a vessel. astern ; at eight the flood began to make, and we made a little progress; very light and variable winds all night.
Sunday 4 December 1836
4 December-After many shifts of wind, sudden gusts, and a great deal of trouble, we came to an anchor at ten a.m. in seven fathoms water, under Grantham’s Island; the Cygnet was seen at anchor in the bight of the Harbour; at eleven Captain Lipson came on board and remained with us about an hour; he spoke most highly of this harbour and the land, and thought there could be no doubt of its being the best situation for the capital. I certainly was much pleased to find we had so many good places in this part of the world, for should this prove the fittest place for the capital, still the eastern shore of Gulf Saint Vincent would always be an extensive corn and grazing country; however, it was determined we should go on shore together and examine it; we had strong gusts of wind with occasional rain all the afternoon. I will now insert a copy of my letter the Commissioners:
Brig Rapid, Port Lincoln,
5 December, 1836.
The necessity of getting fresh provisions increases daily: at Rapid Valley nine labourers out of fifteen are hardly able to do any thing from caused by scurvy scorbutic sores on their feet and ankles; another has a finger which I fear must eventually come off having pricked it with a fish bone; one of my boat’s crew on 26 November hurt his fingers between two pigs of ballast, and his hand is now so bad that I much fear he will suffer some months; and out of a small ship’s company there are five with swelled feet and ankles, besides a number at Holdfast Plain suffering from the same cause. These cases will, I hope, convince the Commissioners that I have only acted for the best in sending for fresh stock from Hobart Town.
The Cygnet had been sent here from Gulf Saint Vincent with Captain Lipson, to await the arrival of the Governor, and I was sorry on our arrival yesterday at seeing the Cygnet at anchor alone, for I was full of hopes that by this time the Governor had arrived. It is very odd that every time I write I have to report the bad state of the weather; it has been blowing hard occasionally since 26 November, and now a perfect gale, with thick rainy weather. I am decidedly of opinion that Port Lincoln is no harbour for merchant ships; looking at it as a port for men of war well-manned, plenty of boats, &c. it is very well; it is capacious, and there is excellent holding ground, but the strong gusts of wind shifting all round compass renders the entrance not altogether so safe as the plan of it on paper would indicate. When Captain Lipson came here in the Cygnet, they had fine light easterly breezes all the way; we, however, found that coming into this harbour was more troublesome than anything we have met with since our arrival in South Australia.
Monday 5 December 1836
5 December-At eight a.m. we reached in between Boston Island and Cape Donington; at this moment the gusts of wind were so strong we were obliged To [take] in The topgallant mast (pronounced and sometimes written t’gallant) is the mast immediately above the topmast, or an extension of the topmast. See ships’ rigging for further discussion.top-gallant sails, lower the topsails on the caps, up courses, and downA triangular sail carried on a rope stay running between the foremast and the jib boom, an extension of the bowsprit. jib. A merchant vessel bound for this port not expecting anything like this after a long passage, may here have her rigging rather slack and not think it necessary to set it up before coming into so fine an harbour; a ship thus situated would have most certainly been dismasted, gone on shore, and on a rocky coast. Trading vessels coming here must anchor at least one mile from the shore, and then landing goods is by no means easy. I much doubt the safety of Gulf Spencer altogether, whether the season of the year was better when Flinders and the French navigators were here I cannot say, but from the little I have seen I think if this be the principal port many ships will be lost.
I will now compare the two Gulfs:
1st.The mouth of the Gulf has many obstructions by rocky Islands and Reefs, and during the prevalence of the westerly gales a most tremendous sea must be thrown there if we may judge by the high swell we had in crossing it in fine weather.
2nd. (Query) Can a strange ship, making Thistle Island, Wedge Island, or any other part just before dark, and a gale coming on, with thick weather, shape her course and run without danger into the Gulf? I say no, for the winds may, and most likely would shift from one direction to another baffle at the most critical part, that is, between two Islands; her safest plan therefore would be to run for Investigator’s Straits if she could fetch it, if not, she must lay to, and the flood tide in such case being much stronger, she might be drifted into a very unsafe situation. If unfortunately she should be driven upon any of the rocks or shoals it would be destruction to all.
3rd. Port Lincoln is certainly a fine capacious harbour, but a great part of it is open to the N.E. and the mouth of it is surrounded, as the chart will show, by islands and reefs, and if we had so much trouble in getting in, and sudden shifting gusts of winds at this season of the year, what may we expect in winter. The westerly gales that would bring a ship up to its mouth would prevent its getting in, when there, and she runs, as I said before, great risk of carrying away her masts.
4th. Merchant vessels after getting in must land their cargoes at a distance of one or two miles from the ships; and in blowing weather, would not be able to land them at all-and I believe it blows hard full half the year round. From what I have seen these two days here, nothing could have been landed even if lighters were prepared, therefore I have reason to say that in this port many days in the year would be entirely lost to trading vessels.
GULF SAINT VINCENT
1st. There are no obstructions whatever, and it is certainly much more sheltered from westerly winds than Gulf Spencer.
2nd. If a ship be bound to Gulf Saint Vincent she would make the land at the S.W. end of Kangaroo Island, or go the other passage, in either case a westerly gale coming on she is soon out of danger and under shelter. In the next place should the vessel be at the mouth of Gulf Saint Vincent when a gale comes on, she may steer right up the Gulf even in the night by compass, and the farther she goes the less sea she will have, and finally may let go her anchor in seven, six, five, four, or three A fathom is a measure of depth in the imperial system. One fathom is equal to six feet or 1.83 metres. fathoms water, where, if well found in ground tackle she will most likely ride out well (I speak this from experience), and should even the last disaster happen of going ashore, lives and property would be saved, and most likely the ship herself.
3rd. The harbour in Gulf Saint Vincent is long and more like a river, and sheltered from every wind. The heaviest gale from any quarter can never hurt; and when the entrance is properly buoyed down there is no difficulty whatever; but the material point in favour of this harbour is that in Gulf Saint Vincent there is no fear from any winds except westerly from N.W. to S.W., and these are all fair to run into the harbour with, the only fault is that ships must wait for the tide; but with two of the mud vessels for deepening channels, the shallow parts could easily be made free for ships drawing from 16 to 18 feet water, as they extend but a short distance, and over these shallow parts there is now three A fathom is a measure of depth in the imperial system. One fathom is equal to six feet or 1.83 metres. fathoms at high water, spring tides.
4th. In the harbour above Holdfast Bay a ship once in may lay alongside a wharf when it is erected, and until that time land her cargo in boats in perfectly smooth water, in the heaviest gale, and not one day lost in any season of the year.
Tuesday 6 December 1836
6 December-Went on shore with Captain Lipson, Mr Morphett, and Mr Pullen; Captain Lipson had before told me the land here was rich and abundant. We landed at the S.E. end of the port, and walked in a southerly direction for some distance, until we could plainly see the ocean; but I was much disappointed at finding nothing but hard rocks and she-oak. After looking about for some time, we descended into the plain at the head of the Gulf, and here we found some tolerable land, but only in small patches, and some pools of fresh water-high hills surrounding the plain, which might be about four miles in circumference, but in which I do not suppose there were a thousand acres of tolerable land; at the bight a sand runs out a long way, and on the southern side a bed of flat stone extends into the harbour for nearly half a mile. I was much disappointed altogether with the place; at five p.m. we returned on board. I must decidedly say it cannot be thought of as a first settlement; some years hence it may be made a valuable sea port, but can only be after the colony has increased considerably.
Wednesday 7 December 1836
7 December-It was my intention to have gone on shore this day and examine the other side of the port, but after looking attentively with a good glass and comparing the appearance of the country on both sides, I found them so exactly of the same nature that I determined on running for Spalding Cove, and search for fresh water. No settlement of any extent could be formed here for many years; the hills sloping down to the water’s edge, and the want of fresh water, are impediments that could not be got over without ruining the first settlers…
Thursday 8 December 1836
8 December-Blowing very strong; at half past four more moderate, sent a boat on shore to search for fresh water, but none was found.
Friday 9 December 1836
9 December–Moderate and cloudy… At ten we got under way, and meeting with almost as much trouble in getting out as we did in coming in, we were at last drifted so far to the southward as to oblige us to run for an anchorage under Taylor’s Island. (I insert here a short extract from my letter written this evening to the Commissioners.)
Got under way to return to Gulf Saint Vincent and prosecute my survey there, for I have been considering much of this Gulf, and think it best to give it up entirely for the present, for should there be a good harbour and good soil higher up, yet the dangers that surround the entrance are too many for a new colony, if any other equally good can be found, and the prospects on the eastern side of Gulf Saint Vincent are so promising that I do not like losing more time here.
Saturday 10 December 1836
10 December-Calm and cloudy; at eight got under way with light variable winds, and not being able to fetch to the northward we stood for the southern channel, but the wind baffling so much, and seeing there was no chance of getting through before dark, perceiving also a long way in the offing rollers extending [...]
Sunday 11 December 1836
11 December First part strong breezes with vivid lightning to the westward; at five a.m. more moderate; got under way; at eight passed the rock off Thistle Island, and we discovered an extensive reef running from Grindall’s Island in a north easterly direction, not laid down in Flinders’ chart, and reaching across the very course I had intended to steer had we been driven from our anchorage in the night; we must all [have] perished had that happened, but Providence kept us safe in Memory Cove.
Monday 12 December 1836
12 December-Blowing very fresh; at half past four a.m. the wind increasing and weather looking bad, I did not like running for Rapid Bay, therefore made sail for Nepean Bay. At six, being off the end of the sand, hauled the wind, and began working in, and after hard beating, anchored off Kingscote at thirty minutes p.m. Found here the John Pirie and the Tam O’Shanter, the latter lately from England. At one, Mr Finke came on board, and brought us letters.
Tuesday 13 December 1836
13 December-Blowing a gale of wind all day.
Wednesday 14 December 1836
14 December-At eight a.m. got under way, the Tam O’Shanter in company; at six a.m., the Tam O’Shanter shaped her course for Holdfast Bay, and we stood in for Rapid Bay, to embark all things previous to running over to the western side.
Thursday 15 December 1836
15 December-Employed on shore, and sending things on board.
Friday 16 December 1836
16 December-At eleven a.m., having embarked everything, we got under way and stood over to the western side of the Gulf. At six, made the land out distinctly ahead, and on the The old term for the left hand side of a ship looking forward. The right hand side is starboard. To avoid mis-hearing an order, it is now referred to as ‘port’. larboard beam; but an opening between gave me hopes that some harbour might exist there, although all the information I had before collected from my man Cooper and others was contrary to any such thing, and very soon after we saw low barren-looking land connecting the two points before observed.
Saturday 17 December 1836
17 December-At daylight, Mount Lofty and the range of hills seen, fine weather, made all sail for Holdfast Bay, and at ten came to an anchor and went on shore to see our party, and hear from Mr Kingston if he had made any interesting discovery during my absence. That I may not appear to wish to conceal any part of my operations or my reasons for them, I here again insert a short extract from my letter to the Commissioners, dated this day:
The time now lost in much extra labour, and the arrival of many people from England, makes me anxious to find some place to locate the land purchasers and others; and from every answer to my enquiries of the sealers, as well as the practical view of the coast I had to the westward, I felt convinced I should never find anything more eligible than the neighbourhood of Holdfast Bay, I therefore steered at once for it, and at ten a.m. came to an anchor.
As for Encounter Bay I resolved on leaving that to a future period for the following reason. As much as Encounter Bay and Lake Alexandrina had been talked of in England, I never could fancy for one moment that any navigable entrance from the sea into the Lake could possibly exist, on looking at Flinders’ chart, and considering the exposed situation of that coast, open to the whole southern ocean, great danger must always attend the approaching it with fresh breezes; moreover the very circumstance of so large a Lake being there was a convincing proof to me that the Murray could not have a passage sufficiently deep or wide to discharge its waters into the sea. These ideas I mentioned in England, and often during our passage, but when I saw the sandy shore to the eastward of Encounter Bay from the Rapid as we stood over, beating against strong northerly winds, and seeing that this shore of sand was open to several thousand miles of the southern ocean, where S.W. winds prevailed during eight or nine months of the year, I was more than before convinced that no good and accessible harbour could exist, contrary to the general laws of nature. Deep and fine harbours, with good entrances on the sea coast, are only found where the shore is high, hard, or rocky; in other cases such harbours must be in large rivers or gulfs; sand alone can never preserve a clear channel against the scud of the sea, and particularly such as must inevitably be thrown on the coast about Encounter Bay. I was quite certain that even should such a thing as a harbour be there, contrary (as I said before) to the general laws of nature, yet no ship could make it exactly, and if she missed it there is no trifling on such a coast, and with a strong breeze from the southward or westward no one would dare to approach it. What then must ships do? They must go to Nepean Bay and wait for favourable weather to enter this harbour, in doing which a ship may lose two months of her time. I was also sure that on a low, sandy shore like that, there must be a bar and tremendous surf. When I reached Nepean Bay this idea was fully confirmed by the reports of the sealers, and some said there was no such thing as a harbour along the coast; I therefore thought I should be throwing away valuable time in examining there, and besides this, had I wished it, the frequent westerly winds would have prevented me.
Sunday 18 December 1836
At half past nine got under way for the harbour; at six we entered the first reach and came to anchor, and the Tam O’Shanter got under way for the harbour; about eleven she struck on the edge of the western sand spit, after passing the shallowest part, not being sufficiently to windward… On the 22nd, about four p.m. she was hove off, and both ships made sail for the higher part of the harbour, [I] preceding both ships in my A class of net fishing boats used on the Thames estuary. The Rapid’s boat was built specially for the Colonization Commissioners by W.T. Gulliver of Wapping. hatch-boat . It was really beautiful to look back and see two British ships for the first time sailing up between the mangroves, in fine smooth water, in a creek that had never before borne the construction of the marine architect, and which at some future period might be the channel of import and export of a great commercial capital. We anchored for the night about six p.m.; the Tam O’Shanter having taken the mud laid till about midnight, when the flood tide having floated her off, she passed us and brought up till daylight. Having now got both ships up the harbour, I shall leave my narrative of the maritime part of this expedition, and proceed to my work on shore.
Saturday 24 December 1836
Walked over the plain to that part of the river where Mr Kingston had pitched his tent, with a small party of the surveying labourers. My first opinions with regard to this place became still more confirmed by this trip; having traversed over nearly six miles of a beautiful flat, I arrived at the river, and saw from this a continuation of the same plain for at least six miles more to the foot of the hills under Mount Lofty, which heights trending to the sea in a south-westerly direction were there terminated about four or five miles south of the camp ground at Holdfast Bay, affording an immense plain of level and advantageous ground for occupation. Having settled some matters for future proceedings with Mr Kingston, I left him and returned to the brig at six p.m., to make arrangements for finally leaving the ship.
Wednesday 28 December 1836
l left the ship and pitched my tent near Mr Kingston’s at the side of the river. I heard of the Governor’s arrival, but having much to do, had not time to go to Holdfast Bay and meet him.
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