The Life of Captain Matthew Flinders
by Ernest Scott
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On May 26th, the Investigator left the Nore for Spithead to wait further orders. She was provided, by the Admiralty itself, with a chart published by J.H. Moore, upon which a sandbank known as the Roar, extending from Dungeness towards Folkestone, between 2 1/2 to 4 miles from land, was not marked. On the evening of the 28th, in a perfectly calm sea, and at a time when, sailing by the chart, there was no reason to apprehend any danger, the ship glided on to the bank. She did not suffer a particle of injury, and in a very short time had resumed her voyage. If Flinders had said nothing at all about the incident, nobody off the ship would have been any the wiser. But as the Admiralty had furnished him with a defective chart, and might do the same to other commanders, who might strike the sand in more inimical circumstances, he considered it to be his duty to the service to report the matter; when lo! the Admiralty, instead of censuring its officials for supplying the Investigator with a faulty chart, gravely shook its head, and made those "severe remarks" about Flinders, which induced Sir Joseph Banks to admonish him so paternally in the letter already quoted. The Investigator had, it seemed to be the opinion of their Lordships, struck the sand, not because it was uncharted, but because Mrs. Flinders was on board between the Nore and Spithead! Flinders' letter to Banks, June 6th, stated his position quite conclusively:

"Finding so material a thing as a sandbank three or four miles from the shore unlaid down in the chart, I thought it a duty incumbent upon me to endeavour to prevent the like accident from happening to others, by stating the circumstances to the Admiralty, and giving the most exact bearings from the shoal that our situation would enable me to take, with the supposed distance from the land. It would have been very easy for me to have suppressed every part of the circumstance, and thus to have escaped the blame which seems to attach to me, instead of some share of praise for my good intentions. I hope that it will not be thought presumptuous in me to say that no blame ought to be attributed to me...The Admiralty do not seem to take much into consideration that I had no master appointed, who ought to be the pilot, or that having been constantly employed myself in foreign voyages I cannot consequently have much personal knowledge of the Channel. In truth, I had nothing but the chart and my own general observations to direct me; and had the former been at all correct we should have arrived here as safe as if we had any number of pilots."

It is significant of Flinders' truth-telling habit of mind that when he came to write the history of the voyage, published thirteen years later, he did not pass over the incident at the Roar, though he can hardly have remembered as agreeable an event for which he was blamed when he was not wrong. But perhaps he found satisfaction in being able to write that the circumstance "showed the necessity there was for a regulation, since adopted, to furnish His Majesty's ships with correct charts." A natural comment is that it is odd that so obviously sensible a thing was not done until an accident showed the danger of not doing it. The blame temporarily put upon Flinders did no harm to his credit, and was probably merely an oblique form of self-reproach on the part of the Admiralty.

The Investigator arrived at Spithead on June 2nd, but did not receive final sailing orders till more than another month had elapsed. "I put an end, I hope, to our correspondence for some months, concluding that you will sail immediately," wrote Sir Joseph Banks in June, "and with sincere good wishes for your future prosperity, and with a firm belief that you will, in your future conduct, do credit to yourself as an able investigator, and to me as having recommended you." The true spirit of friendship breathes in those words, the friendship, too, of a discerning judge of character for a younger man whom he respected and trusted. The trust was nobly justified. Flinders undertook the work with the firm determination to do his work thoroughly. "My greatest ambition," he had written some weeks previously (April 29),"is to make such a minute investigation of this extensive and very interesting country that no person shall have occasion to come after me to make further discoveries." It was with that downright resolve that Flinders set out, and in that spirit did he pursue his task to its end. It was not for nothing that this man was the nautical grandson of Cook.

Sailing orders arrived from London on July 17th, and on the following day the Investigator sailed from Spithead. Mrs. Flinders was at this time residing with her friends in Lincolnshire. She had been ill from fretful disappointment when forbidden to sail with her husband, but had recovered before they parted. Many a weary, bitter year was to pass before she would see him again; years of notable things done, and of cruel wrongs endured; and then they were only to meet for a few months, till death claimed the brave officer and fine-spirited gentleman who was Matthew Flinders.

From the correspondence of these weeks a few passages may be chosen, as showing the heart-side of a gallant sailor's nature. He wrote to his wife in June: "The philosophical calmness which I imposed upon thee is fled from myself, and I am just as awkward without thee as one half of a pair of scissors without its fellow," an image for separation which may be commended to any poet ingenious enough to find a rhyme for "scissors." The following is dated July 7th: "I should not forget to say that the gentle Mr. Bauer seldom forgets to add 'and Mrs. Flinders' good health' after the cloth is withdrawn, and even the bluff Mr. Bell does not forget you...Thou wilt write me volumes, my dearest love, wilt thou not? No pleasure is at all equal to that I receive from thy letters. The idea of how happy we MIGHT be will sometimes intrude itself and take away the little spirits that thy melancholy situation leaves me. I can write no longer with this confounded pen. I will find a better to-morrow. May the choicest blessings of Heaven go with thee, thou dearest, kindest, best of women."

This one was written from the Cape in November: "Write to me constantly; write me pages and volumes. Tell me the dress thou wearest, tell me thy dreams, anything, so do but talk to me and of thyself. When thou art sitting at thy needle and alone, then think of me, my love, and write me the uppermost of thy thoughts. Fill me half a dozen sheets, and send them when thou canst. Think only, my dearest girl upon the gratification which the perusal and reperusal fifty times repeated will afford me, and thou wilt write me something or other every day. Adieu, my dearest, best love. Heaven bless thee with health and comfort, and preserve thy full affection towards thy very own, Matthew Flinders."

To return from these personal relations to the voyage: Some days before the Investigator reached Madeira, a Swedish brig was met, and had to receive a lesson in nautical manners during war-time. The incident is reported by seaman Samuel Smith with a pretty mixture of pronouns, genders and tenses: "At night we was piped all hands in the middle watch to quarters. A brig was bearing down upon our starboard bow. Our Captn spoke her, but receiving no answer we fired a gun past his stern. Tacked ship and spoke her, which proved to be a Swede."* (* Manuscript, Mitchell Library: "Journal of Samuel Smith, Seaman, who served on board the Investigator, Captain Flinders, on a voyage of discovery in the South Seas." The manuscript covers 52 small quarto pages, and is neatly written. Some of Smith's dates are wrong. It may be noted here that Smith, on his return from the voyage, was impressed in the Downs and retained in the Navy till 1815. He died at Thornton's Court, Manchester, in 1821, aged 50. He was therefore 30 years of age when he made this voyage.)

Flinders was, it has been said, the nautical grandson of Cook. How thoroughly he followed the example of the great sailor is apparent from the lines upon which he managed his ship and governed his crew. This is what he was able to write of the voyage down to the Cape of Good Hope, reached on October 16th: "At this time we had not a single person in the sick list, both officers and men being fully in as good health as when we sailed from Spithead. I had begun very early to put in execution the beneficial plan first practised and made known by the great Captain Cook. It was in the standing orders of the ship, that on every fine day the deck below and the cockpit should be cleaned, washed, aired with stoves, and sprinkled with vinegar. On wet and dull days they were cleaned and aired, without washing. Care was taken to prevent the people from sleeping upon deck or lying down in their wet clothes; and once in every fortnight or three weeks, as circumstances permitted, their beds, and the contents of their chests and bags were opened out and exposed to the sun and air. On the Sunday and Thursday mornings, the ship's company was mustered, and every man appeared clean-shaved and dressed; and when the evenings were fine the drum and fife announced the forecastle to be the scene of dancing; nor did I discourage other playful amusements which might occasionally be more to the taste of the sailors, and were not unseasonable.

"Within the tropics lime juice and sugar were made to suffice as antiscorbutics; on reaching a higher latitude, sour-krout and vinegar were substituted; the essence of malt was served for the passage to New Holland, and for future occasions, on consulting with the surgeon, I had thought it expedient to make some slight changes in the issuing of the provisions. Oatmeal was boiled for breakfast four days in the week, as usual; and at other times, two ounces of portable broth, in cakes, to each man, with such additions of onions, pepper, etc., as the different messes possessed, made a comfortable addition to their salt meat. And neither in this passage, nor, I may add, in any subsequent part of the voyage, were the officers or people restricted to any allowance of fresh water. They drank freely at the scuttled cask, and took away, under the inspection of the officer of the watch, all that was requisite for culinary purposes; and very frequently two casks of water in the week were given for washing their clothes. With these regulations, joined to a due enforcement of discipline, I had the satisfaction to see my people orderly and full of zeal for the service in which we were engaged; and in such a state of health that no delay at the Cape was required beyond the necessary refitment of the ship."

How wise, considerate, and farseeing this policy was! It reads like the sageness of a gray-headed veteran. Yet Flinders had only attained his 27th birthday precisely seven months before he reached the Cape on this voyage. He had learned how men, as well as ships, should be managed. "It was part of my plan for preserving the health of the people to promote active amusements amongst them," he said of the jollity on crossing the line; and we can almost see the smile of recollection which played upon his lips when he wrote that "the seamen were furnished with the means and the permission to conclude the day with merriment." Seaman Smith, who shared in the fun, tells us what occurred with his own peculiar disregard of correct spelling and grammatical construction: "we crossd the equinocial line and had the usuil serimony of Neptune and his attendance hailing the ship and coming on board. The greatest part of officers and men was shaved, not having crossd the line before. At night grog was servd out to each watch, which causd the evening to be spent in merriment."

At the Cape the seams were re-caulked, and the ship gave less trouble on the voyage across the Indian Ocean than she had done on the run south. She left False Bay on November 4th. The run across the Indian Ocean was uneventful, except that the ship ran foul of a whale apparently sleeping on the water, and "caused such an alarm that he sank as expeditiously as possible"; and that an albatross was captured which, "being caught with hook and line it had its proper faculties and appeared of a varocious nature."* (* Smith's Journal, Mitchell Library manuscripts.) On December 6th the coast of Australia was sighted near Cape Leeuwin.


It will be necessary to devote some attention to the French expedition of discovery, commanded by Nicolas Baudin, which sailed from Havre on October 19th, 1800, nearly two months before the British Admiralty authorised the despatch of the Investigator, and nine months all but two days before Flinders was permitted to leave England.

The mere fact that this expedition was despatched while Napoleon Bonaparte was First Consul of the French Republic, has led many writers to jump to the conclusion that it was designed to cut out a portion of Australia for occupation by the French; that, under the thin disguise of being charged with a scientific mission, Baudin was in reality an emissary of Machiavellian statecraft, making a cunning move in the great game of world-politics. The author has, in an earlier book* endeavoured to show that such was not the case. (* Terre Napoleon (London, 1910). Since that book was published, I have had the advantage of reading a large quantity of manuscript material, all unpublished, preserved in the Archives Nationales and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. It strengthens the main conclusions promulgated in Terre Napoleon, but of course amplifies the evidence very considerably. The present chapter is written with the Baudin and other manuscripts, as well as the printed material, in mind.) Bonaparte did not originate the discovery voyage. He simply authorised it, as head of the State, when the proposition was laid before him by the Institute of France, a scientific body, concerned with the augmentation of knowledge, and anxious that an effort should be made to complete a task which the abortive expeditions of Laperouse and Dentrecasteaux had failed to accomplish.

Moreover, if Bonaparte had wished to acquire territory in Australia, he was not so foolish a person as to fit out an expedition estimated to cost over half a million francs,* and which actually cost a far larger sum, when he could have obtained what he wanted simply by asking. (* Report of the Commission of the Institute manuscripts, Bibliotheque Nationale, nouveaux acquisitions, France 9439 page 139.) The treaty of Amiens was negotiated and signed while Baudin's ships were at sea. The British Government at that time was very anxious for peace, and was prepared to make concessions—did, in fact, surrender a vast extent of territory won by a woful expenditure of blood and treasure. It cannot be said that Australia was greatly valued by Great Britain at the time. She occupied only a small portion of an enormous continent, and would certainly not have seriously opposed a project that the French should occupy some other portion of it, if Bonaparte had put forward a claim as a condition of peace. But he did nothing of the kind.

If we are to form sound views of history, basing conclusions on the evidence, we must set aside suspicions generated at a time of fierce racial antipathy, when it was almost part of an Englishman's creed to hate a Frenchman. Neither the published history of Baudin's voyage, nor the papers relating to it which are now available for study—except two documents to which special attention will be devoted hereafter, and which did not emanate from persons in authority—afford warrant for believing that there was any other object in view than that professed when application for a passport was made to the Admiralty. The confidential instructions of the Minister* of Marine (* Manuscripts, Archives Nationales BB4 999, Marine. I have given an account of this important manuscript, with copious extracts, in the English Historical Review, April, 1913.) to Baudin* leave no doubt that the purpose was quite bona fide. (* Fleurieu to Forfait, manuscripts, Bibliotheque Nationale, nouveaux acquisitions, France 9439 page 137.) "Your labours," wrote Forfait, "having for their sole object the perfecting of scientific knowledge, you should observe the most complete neutrality, allowing no doubt to be cast upon your exactitude in confining yourself to the object of your mission, as set forth in the passports which have been furnished. In your relations with foreigners, the glorious success of our arms, the power and wisdom of your government, the grand and generous views of the First Consul for the pacification of Europe, the order that he has restored in the interior of France, furnish you with the means of giving to foreign peoples just ideas upon the real state of the Republic and upon the prosperity which is assured to it." The men of science who had promoted the voyage were anxious that not even a similitude of irregularity should be permitted. Thus we find the Comte de Fleurieu, who drew up the itinerary, writing to the Minister urging him to include in the instructions a paragraph prohibiting the ships from taking on board, under any pretext, merchandise which could give to a scientific expedition the appearance of a commercial venture, "because if an English cruiser or man-of-war should visit them, and find on board other goods than articles of exchange for dealing with aboriginal peoples, this might serve as a pretext for arresting them, and Baudin's passport might be disregarded on the ground that it had been abused by being employed as a means of conducting without risk a traffic which the state of war would make very lucrative."

The question of the origin and objects of the expedition is, however, an entirely different one from that of the use which Napoleon would have made of the information collected, had the opportunity been available of striking a blow at Great Britain through her southern colony. It is also different from the question (as to which something will be said later) of the advantage taken by two members of Baudin's staff of the scope allowed them at Port Jackson, to "spy out the land" with a view of furnishing information valuable in a military sense to their Government.

The instructions to Baudin were very similar to those which had been given to Laperouse and Dentrecasteaux in previous years, being drafted by the same hand, and some paragraphs in an "instruction particuliere," show that the French were thoroughly up-to-date with their information, and knew in what parts of the coast fresh work required to be done.* (* "Projet d'itineraire pour le Commandant Baudin; memoire pour servir d'instruction particuliere." Manuscripts, Archives Nationales, Marine BB4 999.)

Nicolas Baudin was not a French naval officer. He had been in the merchant service, and, more recently, had had charge of an expedition despatched to Africa by the Austrian Government to collect specimens for the museum at Vienna. War between France and Austria broke out before he returned; and Baudin, feeling less loyal to his Austrian employers than to his own country, handed over the whole collection to the Museum in Paris. This action, which in the circumstances was probably regarded as patriotic, brought him under the notice of Jussieu, the famous French botanist; and when the South Sea expedition was authorised, that scientist recommended Baudin as one who had taken an interest in natural history researches, and who had given "a new proof of his talent and of his love for science by the choice of the specimens composing his last collection, deposited in the museum." The Minister of Marine minuted Jussieu's recommendation in the margin: "No choice could be happier than that of Captain Baudin,"* and so he was appointed. (* Manuscripts, Bibliotheque Nationale, nouveaux acquisitions, France 9439 page 121.) He was by no means the kind of officer whom Napoleon would have selected had his designs been such as have commonly been alleged.

Two ships of the navy were commissioned for the service. Under the names La Serpente and Le Vesuve they had been built with a view to an invasion of England, contemplated in 1793.* (* Manuscripts, Bibliotheque Nationale, nouveaux acquisitions, France 9439 report of de Bruix to the Minister.) They were re-named Le Geographe and Le Naturaliste on being allotted to a much safer employment. Both were described as solidly built, good sailers, and easy to control; and the officer who surveyed them to determine whether they would be suitable reported that without impairing their sea-going qualities it would be easy to construct upon their decks high poops to hold quantities of growing plants, which it was intended to collect and bring home. On these ships Baudin and his selected staff embarked at Havre, and, a British passport being obtained under the circumstances already related, sailed south in October.

If Baudin had been the keen and capable commander that those who secured his appointment believed him to be, he should have discovered and charted the whole of the unknown southern coast of Australia, before Flinders was many days' sail from England. The fact that this important work was actually done by the English navigator was in no measure due to the sagacity of the Admiralty—whose officials procrastinated in an inexplicable fashion even after the Investigator had been commissioned and equipped—but to his own promptness, competence and zeal, and the peculiar dilatoriness of his rivals. Baudin's vessels reached Ile-de-France (Mauritius) in March, 1801, and lay there for the leisurely space of forty days. Two-thirds of a year had elapsed before they came upon the Australian coast. But Baudin did not even then set to work where there was discovery to be achieved. Winter was approaching, and sailing in these southern seas would be uncomfortable in the months of storm and cold; so he dawdled up the west coast of Australia, in warm, pleasant waters, and made for Timor, where he arrived in August. He remained in the Dutch port of Kupang till the middle of November—three whole months wasted, nearly eleven months consumed since he had sailed from France. In the meantime, the alert and vigorous captain of the Investigator was speeding south as fast as the winds would take him, too eager to lose a day, flying straight to his work like an arrow to its mark, and doing it with the thoroughness and accuracy that were part of his nature.

The French on board Le Geographe and Le Naturaliste were as unhappy as their commander was slow. Scurvy broke out, and spread among the crew with virulence. Baudin appeared to have little or no conception of the importance of the sanitary measures which Cook was one of the earliest navigators to enjoin, and by which those who emulated his methods were able to keep in check the ravages of this scourge of seafaring men. He neglected common precautions, and paid no heed to the counsel of the ship's surgeons. As a consequence, the sufferings of his men were such that it is pitiful to read about them in the official history of the voyage.

From Timor Baudin sailed for southern Tasmania, arriving there in January, 1802, and remaining in the neighbourhood till March. There was no European settlement upon the island at that time, and Baudin described it as a country "which ought not to be neglected, and which a nation that does not love us does not look upon with indifference."* (* Baudin to the Minister of Marine, manuscripts, Archives Nationales BB4 995 Marine.) A severe storm separated Le Geographe from her escort on March 7 and 8, in the neighbourhood of the eastern entrance of Bass Strait. Le Naturaliste spent some time in Westernport, making a survey of it, and discovering the second island, which Bass had missed on his whaleboat cruise. Her commander, Captain Hamelin, then took her round to Port Jackson, to solicit aid from the Governor of the English colony there. Meanwhile Baudin sailed through the Strait from east to west. He called at Waterhouse Island, off the north-east coast of Van Diemen's Land, misled by its name into thinking that he would find fresh water there. The island was named after Captain Henry Waterhouse of the Reliance, but Baudin, unaware of this, considered that it belied its name. "It does not seem," he wrote, "to offer any appearance of water being discoverable there, and I am persuaded that it can have been named Water House only because the English visited it at a time when heavy rains had fallen."* (* Baudin's Diary, manuscripts, Bibliotheque Nationale: "Je suis persuade qu'on ne l'a nomme Wather House que par ce que les Anglais qui l'ont visite y auront eu beaucoup de pluie.") Baudin passed Port Phillip, rounded Cape Otway, and coasted along till he came to Encounter Bay, where occurred an incident with which we shall be concerned after we have traced the voyage of Flinders eastward to the same point.


We now resume the story of Flinders' voyage along the southern coast of Australia, from the time when he made Cape Leeuwin on December 6th, 1801.

That part of the coast lying between the south-west corner of the continent and Fowler's Bay, in the Great Australian Bight, had been traversed prior to this time. In 1791 Captain George Vancouver, in the British ship Cape Chatham, sailed along it from Cape Leeuwin to King George's Sound, which he discovered and named. He anchored in the harbour, and remained there for a fortnight. He would have liked to pursue the discovery of this unknown country, and did sail further east, as far as the neighbourhood of Termination Island, in longitude 122 degrees 8 minutes. But, meeting with adverse winds, he abandoned the research, and resumed his voyage to north-west America across the Pacific. In 1792, Bruny Dentrecasteaux, with the French ships Recherche and Esperance, searching for tidings of the lost Laperouse, followed the line of the shore more closely than Vancouver had done, and penetrated much further eastward. His instructions, prepared by Fleurieu, had directed him to explore the whole of the southern coast of Australia; but he was short of water, and finding nothing but sand and rock, with no harbour, and no promise of a supply of what he so badly needed, he did not continue further than longitude 131 degrees 38 1/2 minutes east, about two and a half degrees east of the present border line of Western and South Australia. These navigators, with the Dutchman Pieter Nuyts, in the early part of the seventeenth century, and the Frenchman St. Alouarn, who anchored near the Leeuwin in 1772, were the only Europeans known to have been upon any part of these southern coasts before the advent of Flinders; and the extent of the voyage of Nuyts is by no means clear.

Flinders, as we have seen, laid it down as a guiding principle that he would make so complete a survey of the shores visited by him as to leave little for anybody to do after him. He therefore commenced his work immediately he touched land, constructing his own charts as the ship slowly traversed the curves of the coast. The result was that many corrections and additions to the charts of Vancouver and Dentrecasteaux were made before the entirely new discoveries were commenced. In announcing this fact, Flinders, always generous in his references to good work done by his predecessors, warmly praised the charts prepared by Beautemps-Beaupre, "geographical engineer" of the Recherche. "Perhaps no chart of a coast so little known as this is, will bear a comparison with its original better than this of M. Beaupre," he said. His own charts were of course fuller and more precise, but he made no claim to superiority on this account, modestly observing that he would have been open to reproach if, after following the coast with an outline of M. Beaupre's chart before him, he had not effected improvements where circumstances did not permit so close an examination to be made in 1792.

Several inland excursions were made, and some of the King George's Sound aboriginals were encountered. Flinders noted down some of their words, and pointed out the difference from words for the same objects used by Port Jackson and Van Diemen's Land natives. An exception to this rule was the word used for calling to a distance—cau-wah! (come here). This is certainly very like the Port Jackson cow-ee, whence comes the one aboriginal word of universal employment in Australia to-day, the coo-ee of the townsman and the bushman alike, a call entered in the vocabulary collected by Hunter as early as 1790.

The method of research adopted by Flinders was similar to that employed on the Norfolk voyage. The ship was kept all day as close inshore as possible, so that water breaking on the shore was visible from the deck, and no river or opening could escape notice. When this could not be done, because the coast retreated far back, or was dangerous, the commander stationed himself at the masthead with a glass. All the bearings were laid down as soon as taken, whilst the land was in sight; and before retiring to rest at night Flinders made it a practice to finish up his rough chart for the day, together with his journal of observations. The ship hauled off the coast at dusk, but especial care was taken to come upon it at the same point next morning, as soon after daylight as practicable, so that work might be resumed precisely where it had been dropped on the previous day. "This plan," said Flinders, "to see and lay down everything myself, required constant attention and much labour, but was absolutely necessary to obtaining that accuracy of which I was desirous." When bays or groups of islands were reached, Flinders went ashore with the theodolite, took his angles, measured, mapped, and made topographical notes. The lead was kept busy, making soundings. The rise and fall of the tides were observed; memoranda on natural phenomena were written; opportunities were given for the naturalists to collect specimens, and for the artist to make drawings. The net was frequently drawn in the bays for examples of marine life. Everybody when ashore kept a look out for plants, birds, beasts, and insects. In short, a keenness for investigation, an assiduity in observation, animated the whole ship's company, stimulated by the example of the commander, who never spared himself in his work, and interested himself in that of others.

As in a drama, "comic relief" was occasionally interposed amid more serious happenings. The blacks were friendly, though occasionally shy and suspicious. In one scene the mimicry that is a characteristic of the aboriginal was quaintly displayed. The incident, full of colour and humour, is thus related by Flinders:

"Our friends, the natives, continued to visit us; and an old man with several others being at the tents this morning, I ordered the party of marines on shore, to be exercised in their presence. The red coats and white crossed belts were greatly admired, having some resemblance to their own manner of ornamenting themselves; and the drum, but particularly the fife, excited their astonishment; but when they saw these beautiful red and white men, with their bright muskets, drawn up in a line, they absolutely screamed with delight; nor were their wild gestures and vociferation to be silenced but by commencing the exercise, to which they paid the most earnest and silent attention. Several of them moved their hands, involuntarily, according to the motions; and the old man placed himself at the end of the rank, with a short staff in his hand, which he shouldered, presented, grounded, as did the marines their muskets, without, I believe, knowing what he did. Before firing, the Indians were made acquainted with what was going to take place; so that the volleys did not excite much terror."

Seaman Smith was naturally much interested in the aboriginals, whose features were however to him "quite awful, having such large mouths and long teeth." They were totally without clothing, and "as soon as they saw our tents they run into the bushes with such activity that would pawl any European to exhibit. Because our men would not give them a small tommy-hawk they began to throw pieces of wood at them, which exasperated our men; but orders being so humane towards the natives that we must put up with anything but heaving spears." Furthermore, "they rubbd their skin against ours, expecting some mark of white upon their's, but finding their mistake they appeared surprised."

Pleasures more immediately incidental to geographical discovery—those pleasures which eager and enterprising minds must experience, however severe the labour involved, on traversing portions of the globe previously unknown to civilised mankind—commenced after the head of the Great Bight was passed. From about the vicinity of Fowler's Bay (named after the first lieutenant of the Investigator) the coast was virgin to geographical science. Comparisons of original work with former charts were no longer possible. The ship was entering un-navigated waters, and the coasts delineated were new to the world's knowledge. The quickening of the interest in the work in hand, which touched both officers and men of the expedition, can be felt by the reader of Flinders' narrative. There was a consciousness of having crossed a line separating what simply required verification and amplification, from a totally fresh field of research. Every reach of coastline now traversed was like a cable, long buried in the deep of time, at length hauled into daylight, with its oozy deposits of seaweed, shell and mud lying thick upon it.

Contingent upon discovery was the pleasure of naming important features of the coast. It is doubtful whether any other single navigator in history applied names which are still in use to so many capes, bays and islands, upon the shores of the habitable globe, as Flinders did. The extent of coastline freshly discovered by him was not so great as that first explored by some of his predecessors. But no former navigator pursued extensive new discoveries so minutely, and, consequently, found so much to name; while the precision of Flinders' records left no doubt about the places that he named, when in later years the settlement of country and the navigation of seas necessitated the use of names. Compare, for instance, in this one respect, the work of Cook and Dampier, Vasco da Gama and Magellan, Tasman and Quiros, with that of Flinders. Historically their voyages may have been in some respects more important; but they certainly added fewer names to the map. There are 103 names on Cook's charts of eastern Australia from Point Hicks to Cape York; but there are about 240 new names on the charts of Flinders representing southern Australia and Tasmania. He is the Great Denominator among navigators. He named geographical features after his friends, after his associates on the Investigator, after distinguished persons connected with the Navy, after places in which he was interested. Fowler's Bay, Point Brown, Cape Bauer, Franklin's Isles, Point Bell, Point Westall, Taylor's Isle, and Thistle Island, commemorate his shipmates. Spencer's Gulf was named "in honour of the respected nobleman who presided at the Board of Admiralty when the voyage was planned and the ship was put in commission," and Althorp Isles celebrated Lord Spencer's heir.* (* Cockburn, Nomenclature of South Australia, (Adelaide 1909) page 9, is mistaken in speculating that "there is a parish of Althorp in Flinders' native country in Lincolnshire which probably accounts for the choice of the name here." Althorp, which should be spelt without a final "e," is not in Lincolnshire, but in Northamptonshire.) St. Vincent's Gulf was named "in honour of the noble admiral" who was at the head of the Admiralty when the Investigator sailed from England, and who had "continued to the voyage that countenance and protection of which Earl Spencer had set the example." To Yorke's Peninsula, between the two gulfs, was affixed the name of the Right Hon. C.P. Yorke, afterwards Lord Hardwicke, the First Lord who authorised the publication of Flinders' Voyage. Thus, the ministerial heads of the Admiralty in three Governments (Pitt's, Addington's and Spencer Perceval's) came to be commemorated. It may be remarked as curious that a naval officer so proud of his service as Flinders was, should nowhere have employed the name of the greatest sailor of his age, Nelson. There is a Cape Nelson on the Victorian coast, but that name was given by Grant.

In Spencer's Gulf we come upon a group of Lincolnshire place-names, for Flinders, his brother Samuel, the mate, Fowler, and Midshipman John Franklin, all serving on this voyage, were Lincolnshire men. Thus we find Port Lincoln, Sleaford Bay, Louth Bay, Cape Donington, Stamford Hill, Surfleet Point, Louth Isle, Sibsey Isle, Stickney Isle, Spilsby Isle, Partney Isle, Revesby Isle, Point Boston, and Winceby Isle. Banks' name was given to a group of islands, and Coffin's Bay must not be allowed to suggest any gruesome association, for it was named after Sir Isaac Coffin, resident naval commissioner at Sheerness, who had given assistance in the equipment of the Investigator. A few names, like Streaky Bay, Lucky Bay, and Cape Catastrophe, were applied from circumstances that occurred on the voyage. A poet of the antipodes who should, like Wordsworth, be moved to write "Poems on the Naming of Places," would find material in the names given by Flinders.

Interest in this absorbing work rose to something like excitement on February 20th, when there were indications, from the set of the tide, that an unusual feature of the coast was being approached. "The tide from the north-eastward, apparently the ebb, ran more than one mile an hour, which was the more remarkable from no set of the tide worthy to be noticed having hitherto been observed upon this coast." The ship had rounded Cape Catastrophe, and the land led away to the north, whereas hitherto it had trended east and south. What did this mean? Flinders must have been strongly reminded of his experience in the Norfolk in Bass Strait, when the rush of the tide from the south showed that the north-west corner of Van Diemen's Land had been turned, and that the demonstration of the Strait's existence was complete. There were many speculations as to what the signs indicated. "Large rivers, deep inlets, inland seas and passages into the Gulf of Carpentaria, were terms frequently used in our conversations of this evening, and the prospect of making an interesting discovery seemed to have infused new life and vigour into every man in the ship." The expedition was, in fact, in the bell-mouth of Spencer's Gulf, and the next few days were to show whether the old surmise was true—that Terra Australis was cloven in twain by a strait from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the southern ocean. It was, indeed, a crisis-time of the discovery voyage.

But before the gulf was examined, a tragedy threw the ship into mourning. On the evening of Sunday, February 21st, the cutter was returning from the mainland, where a party had been searching for water in charge of the Master, John Thistle. She carried a midshipman, William Taylor, and six sailors. Nobody on the ship witnessed the accident that happened; but the cutter had been seen coming across the water, and as she did not arrive when darkness set in, the fear that she had gone down oppressed everybody on board. A search was made, but ineffectually; and next day the boat was found floating bottom uppermost, stove in, and bearing the appearance of having been dashed against rocks. The loss of John Thistle was especially grievous to Flinders. The two had been companions from the very beginning of his career in Australia. Thistle had been one of Bass's crew in the whaleboat; he had been on the Norfolk when Van Diemen's Land was circumnavigated; and he had taken part in the cruise to Moreton Bay. His memory lives in the name of Thistle Island, on the west of the entrance to the gulf, and in the noble tribute which his commander paid to his admirable qualities. It would be wrong to deprive the reader of the satisfaction of reading Flinders' eulogy of his companion of strenuous years:

"The reader will pardon me the observation that Mr. Thistle was truly a valuable man, as a seaman, an officer, and a good member of society. I had known him, and we had mostly served together, from the year 1794. He had been with Mr. Bass in his perilous expedition in the whaleboat, and with me in the voyage round Van Diemen's Land, and in the succeeding expedition to Glass House and Hervey's Bays. From his merit and prudent conduct, he was promoted from before the mast to be a midshipman and afterwards a master in His Majesty's service. His zeal for discovery had induced him to join the Investigator when at Spithead and ready to sail, although he had returned to England only three weeks before, after an absence of six years.* Besides performing assiduously the duties of his situation, Mr. Thistle had made himself well acquainted with the practice of nautical astronomy, and began to be very useful in the surveying department. His loss was severely felt by me, and he was lamented by all on board, more especially by his messmates, who knew more intimately the goodness and stability of his disposition." (* In a letter to Banks from Spithead on June 3rd, 1801, Flinders had written: "I am happy to inform you that the Buffalo has brought home a person formerly of the Reliance whom I wish to have as master. He volunteers, the captain of the ship agrees, and I have made application by to-day's post and expect his appointmnt by Friday." The reference was evidently to John Thistle.)

Taylor's Isle was named after the young midshipman of this catastrophe, and six small islands in the vicinity bear the names of the boat's crew. It is a singular fact that only two of the eight sailors drowned could swim. Even Captain Cook never learnt to swim!

Before leaving the neighbourhood, Flinders erected a copper plate upon a stone post at the head of Memory Cove, and had engraved upon it the names of the unfortunates who had perished, with a brief account of the accident. Two fragments of the original plate are now in the museum at Adelaide. In later years it was beaten down by a storm, and the South Australian Government erected a fresh tablet in Memory Cove to replace it.

A thorough survey of Port Lincoln was made while the ship was being replenished with water. Some anxiety had been felt owing to the lack of this necessity, and Flinders showed the way to obtain it by digging holes in the white clay surrounding a brackish marsh which he called Stamford Mere. The water that drained into the holes was found to be sweet and wholesome, though milky in appearance. As the filling of the casks and conveying them to the ship—to a quantity of 60 tons—occupied several days, the surveying and scientific employments were pursued diligently on land.

The discovery of Port Lincoln was in itself an event of consequence, since it is a harbour of singular commodiousness and beauty, and would, did it but possess a more prolific territory at its back, be a maritime station of no small importance. Nearly forty years later, Sir John Franklin, then Governor of Tasmania, paid a visit to Port Lincoln, expressly to renew acquaintance with a place in the discovery of which he had participated in company with a commander whose memory he honoured; and he erected on Stamford Hill, at his own cost, an obelisk in commemoration of Flinders. In the same way, on his first great overland arctic journey in 1821, Franklin remembered Flinders in giving names to discoveries.

It was on March 6th that the exploration of Spencer's Gulf commenced. As the ship sailed along the western shore, the expectations which had been formed of a strait leading through the continent to the Gulf of Carpentaria faded away. The coast lost its boldness, the water became more and more shallow, and the opposite shore began to show itself. The gulf was clearly tapering to an end. "Our prospects of a channel or strait cutting off some considerable portion of Terra Australis grew less, for it now appeared that the ship was entering into a gulph." On the 10th, the Investigator having passed Point Lowly, and having on the previous day suddenly come into two-and-a-half fathoms, Flinders decided to finish the exploration in a rowing boat, accompanied by Surgeon Bell. They rowed along the shore till night fell, slept in the boat, and resumed the journey early next morning (March 11th). At ten o'clock, the oars touched mud on each side, and it became impossible to proceed further. They had reached the head of the gulf, then a region of mangrove swamps and flat waters, but now covered by the wharves of Port Augusta, and within view of the starting point of the transcontinental railway.

The disappointment was undoubtedly great at not finding even a large river flowing into the gulf. The hope of a strait had been abandoned as the continually converging shores, shallow waters, and diminishing banks made it clear, long before the head was reached, that the theory of a bifurcated Terra Australis was impossible. But as Flinders completed his chart and placed it against the outline of the continent, he might fairly enjoy the happiness of having settled an important problem and of taking one more stride towards completing the map of the world.

The Investigator travelled down by the eastern shore, once hanging upon a near bank for half an hour, and by March 20th was well outside. The length of the gulf, from the head to Gambier Island, Flinders calculated to be 185 miles, and its width at the mouth, in a line from Cape Catastrophe, 48 miles. At the top it tapered almost to a point. The whole of it was personally surveyed and charted by Flinders, who was able to write that for the general exactness of his drawing he could "answer with tolerable confidence, having seen all that is laid down, and, as usual, taken every angle which enters into the construction."

The next discovery of importance was that of Kangaroo Island, separated from the foot-like southern projection of Yorke's Peninsula by Investigator Strait. The island was named on account of the quantity of kangaroos seen and shot upon it; for a supply of fresh meat was very welcome after four months of salt pork. Thirty-one fell to the guns of the Investigator's men. Half a hundredweight of heads, forequarters and tails were stewed down for soup, and as much kangaroo steak was available for officers and men as they could consume "by day and night." It was declared to be a "delightful regale."

The place where Flinders is believed to have first landed on Kangaroo Island is now marked by a tall cairn, which was spontaneously built by the inhabitants, the school children assisting, in 1906. An inscription on a faced stone commemorates the event. The white pyramid can be seen from vessels using Backstairs Passage.* (* See the account of the making of the cairn, by C.E. Owen Smythe, I.S.O., who initiated and superintended the work, South Australian Geographical Society's Proceedings 1906 page 58.)

A very short stay was made at Kangaroo Island on this first call. On March 24th Investigator Strait was crossed, and the examination of the mainland was resumed. The ship was steered north-west, and, the coast being reached, no land was visible to the eastward. The conclusion was drawn that another gulf ran inland, and the surmise proved to be correct. The new discovery, named St. Vincent's Gulf, was penetrated on the 27th, and was first explored on the eastern shore, not on the western as had been the case with Spencer's Gulf. Mount Lofty was sighted at dawn on Sunday, March 28th. The nearest part of the coast was three leagues distant at the time, "mostly low, and composed of sand and rock, with a few small trees scattered over it; but at a few miles inland, where the back mountains rise, the country was well clothed with forest timber, and had a fertile appearance. The fires bespoke this to be a part of the continent." The coast to the northward was seen to be very low, and the soundings were fast decreasing. From noon to six o'clock the Investigator ran north thirty miles, skirting a sandy shore, and at length dropped anchor in five fathoms.

On the following morning land was seen to the westward, as well as eastward, and there was "a hummocky mountain, capped with clouds, apparently near the head of the inlet." Wind failing, very little progress was made till noon, and at sunset the shores appeared to be closing round. The absence of tide gave no prospect of finding a river at the head of the gulf. Early on the morning of the 30th Flinders went out in a boat, accompanied by Robert Brown, and rowed up to the mud-flats at the head of the gulf. Picking out a narrow channel, it was found possible to get within half a mile of dry land. Then, leaving the boat, Flinders and Brown walked along a bank of mud and sand to the shore, to examine the country. Flinders ascended one of the foot-hills of the range that forms the backbone of Yorke's Peninsula, stretching north and south upwards of two hundred miles.

At dawn on March 31st the Investigator was got under way to proceed down the eastern side of Yorke's Peninsula. The wind was contrary, and the work could be done only "partially," though, of course, sufficiently well to complete the chart. The peninsula was described as "singular in form, having some resemblance to a very ill-shaped leg and foot." Its length from Cape Spencer to the northern junction with the mainland was calculated to be 105 miles. On April 1st Flinders was able to write that the exploration of St. Vincent's Gulf was finished.

The general character of the country, especially on the east, he considered to be superior to that on the borders of Spencer's Gulf; and the subsequent development of the State of South Australia has justified his opinion. He would assuredly have desired to linger longer upon the eastern shore, could he have foreseen that within forty years of the discovery there would be laid there the foundations of the noble city of Adelaide, with its fair and fruitful olive-groves, vineyards, orchards and gardens, and its busy port, whither flow the wheat of vast plains and the wool from a million sheep leagues upon leagues away.

A second visit to Kangaroo Island was necessitated by a desire to make corrections in the Investigator's timekeepers, and on this occasion a somewhat longer stay was made. The ship arrived on April 2nd, and did not leave again till the 7th.

Very few aboriginals were seen upon the shores of the two gulfs, and these only through a telescope. At Port Lincoln some blacks were known to be in the neighbourhood, but the expedition did not succeed in getting into contact with them. Flinders scrupulously observed the policy of doing nothing to alarm them; and his remarks in this relation are characterised by as much good sense as humane feeling. Writing of a small party of natives who were heard calling but did not show themselves, probably having hidden in thick scrub to observe the boat's crew, he said:

"No attempt was made to follow them, for I had always found the natives of this country to avoid those who seemed anxious for communication; whereas, when left entirely alone, they would usually come down after having watched us for a few days. Nor does this conduct seem to be unnatural; for what, in such case, would be the conduct of any people, ourselves for instance, were we living in a state of nature, frequently at war with our neighbours, and ignorant of the existence of any other nation? On the arrival of strangers so different in complexion and appearance to ourselves, having power to transplant themselves over, and even living upon, an element which to us was impossible, the first sensation would probably be terror, and the first movement flight. We should watch these extraordinary people from our retreats in the woods and rocks, and if we found ourselves sought and pursued by them, should conclude their designs to be inimical; but if, on the contrary, we saw them quietly employed in occupations which had no reference to us, curiosity would get the better of fear, and after observing them more closely, we should ourselves risk a communication. Such seemed to have been the conduct of these Australians;* and I am persuaded that their appearance on the morning when the tents were struck was a prelude to their coming down; and that, had we remained a few days longer, a friendly communication would have ensued. The way was, however, prepared for the next ship which may visit this port, as it was to us in King George's Sound by Captain Vancouver and the ship Elligood; to whose previous visits and peaceable conduct we were most probably indebted for our early intercourse with the inhabitants of that place. So far as could be perceived with a glass, the natives of this port were the same in personal appearance as those of King George's Sound and Port Jackson. In the hope of conciliating their goodwill to succeeding visitors, some hatchets and various other articles were left in their paths, fastened to stumps of trees which had been cut down near our watering pits." (* The only occasion, I think, where Flinders uses this word. He usually called aboriginals "Indians.")

More wild life was seen at Kangaroo Island than in the gulf region. Thirty emus were observed on one day; kangaroos, as has been remarked, were plentiful; and a large colony of pelicans caused the name of Pelican Lagoon to be given to a feature of the island's eastern lobe. The marsupial, the seal, the emu, and the bag-billed bird that nature built in one of her whimsical moods, had held unchallenged possession for tens of thousands of years, probably never visited by any ships, nor even preyed upon by blacks. The reflections of Flinders upon Pelican Lagoon have a tinting of poetic feeling which we do not often find in his solid pages:

"Flocks of the old birds were sitting upon the beaches of the lagoon, and it appeared that the islands were their breeding places; not only so, but from the number of skeletons and bones there scattered it should seem that they had for ages been selected for the closing scene of their existence. Certainly none more likely to be free from disturbance of every kind could have been chosen, than these inlets in a hidden lagoon of an uninhabited island, situate upon an unknown coast near the antipodes of Europe; nor can anything be more consonant to the feelings, if pelicans have any, than quietly to resign their breath whilst surrounded by their progeny, and in the same spot where they first drew it. Alas, for the pelicans! their golden age is past; but it has much exceeded in duration that of man."

The picture of the zoological interests of Kangaroo Island is heightened by Flinders' account of the seals and marsupials. "Never perhaps has the dominion possessed here by the kangaroo been invaded before this time. The seal shared with it upon the shores, but they seemed to dwell amicably together. It not unfrequently happened that the report of a gun fired at a kangaroo, near the beach, brought out two or three bellowing seals from under bushes considerably further from the water side. The seal, indeed, seemed to be much the more discerning animal of the two; for its actions bespoke a knowledge of our not being kangaroos, whereas the kangaroo not unfrequently appeared to consider us to be seals." In the quotation, it may be as well to add, the usual spelling of "kangaroo" is followed, but Flinders invariably spelt it "kanguroo." The orthography of the word was not settled in his time; Cook wrote "kangooroo" and "kanguru," but Hawkesworth, who edited his voyages, made it "kangaroo."

The quantity of fallen timber lying upon the island prompted the curiosity of Flinders. Trunks of trees lay about in all directions "and were nearly of the same size and in the same progress towards decay; from whence it would seem that they had not fallen from age nor yet been thrown down in a gale of wind. Some general conflagration, and there were marks apparently of fire on many of them, is perhaps the sole cause which can be reasonably assigned; but whence came the woods on fire? There were no inhabitants upon the island, and that the natives of the continent did not visit it was demonstrated, if not by the want of all signs of such visits, yet by the tameness of the kangaroo, an animal which, on the continent, resembles the wild deer in timidity. Perhaps lightning might have been the cause, or possibly the friction of two dead trees in a strong wind; but it would be somewhat extraordinary that the same thing should have happened at Thistle's Island, Boston Island, and at this place, and apparently about the same time. Can this part of Terra Australis have been visited before, unknown to the world? The French navigator, Laperouse, was ordered to explore it, but there seems little probability that he ever passed Torres Strait.

"Some judgment may be formed of the epoch when these conflagrations happened, from the magnitude of the growing trees; for they must have sprung up since that period. They were a species of eucalyptus, and being less than the fallen tree, had most probably not arrived at maturity; but the wood is hard and solid, and it may thence be supposed to grow slowly. With these considerations, I should be inclined to fix the period at not less than ten, nor more than twenty years before our arrival. This brings us back to Laperouse. He was in Botany Bay in the beginning of 1788, and, if he did pass through Torres Strait, and come round to this coast, as was his intention, it would probably be about the middle or latter end of that year, or between thirteen and fourteen years before the Investigator. My opinion is not favourable to this conjecture; but I have furnished all the data to enable the reader to form his own opinion upon the cause which might have prostrated the woods of these islands."

The passage is worth quoting, if only for the interesting allusion to Laperouse, whose fate was, at the time when Flinders sailed and wrote, an unsolved mystery of the sea. Captain Dillon's discovery of relics at Vanikoro, in 1826, twelve years after the death of Flinders, informed the world that the illustrious French navigator did not pass through Torres Strait, but was wrecked in the Santa Cruz group.* (* See the author's Laperouse, Sydney 1912 pages 90 et sqq.) The fire, so many signs of which were observed on Kangaroo Island, was in all probability caused naturally in the heat of a dry summer.

Very shortly after leaving Kangaroo Island Flinders met one of the vessels of the French exploring expedition; and the story of that occurrence must occupy our particular consideration in the next chapter.


Flinders did not complete the examination of Kangaroo island. The approach of the winter season, and an apprehension that shortness of provisions might compel him to make for Port Jackson before concluding the discovery of the south coast, induced him to leave the south and west parts of the island, with the intention of making a second visit at a later time. Therefore, in the afternoon of Tuesday, April 6th, the anchor was weighed and he resumed the exploration of the mainland eastward from Cape Jervis, at the extremity of St. Vincent's Gulf. Wind and tide made against a rapid passage, and the east end of Kangaroo Island had not been cleared by eight o'clock on the following evening.

At four o'clock on the afternoon of April 8th the sloop was making slow progress eastward, when the man aloft reported that a white rock was to be seen ahead. The attention of everybody on board was at once turned in the direction of the object. Very soon it became apparent that it was not a rock but a ship, which had sighted the Investigator, and was making towards her. As no sail had been seen for five months, and it seemed beyond all likelihood that another ship should be spoken in these uncharted seas, where there was no settlement, no port at which refreshment could be obtained, no possibility of trade, no customary maritime route, it may be imagined that there was a feeling of excitement among the ship's company. Flinders of course knew that the French had a discovery expedition somewhere in Australasian waters, and the fact that it had secured some months' start of him had occasioned a certain amount of anxiety before he left England. He was aware that it was protected by a passport from the British Government. The approaching vessel might be one of Baudin's; but she might by some strange chance be an enemy's ship of war. In any case, he prepared for emergencies: "we cleared for action in case of being attacked."

Glasses were turned on the stranger, which proved on closer scrutiny to be "a heavy-looking ship, without any top-gallant masts up." The Investigator hoisted her colours—the Union Jack, it may be remarked, since that flag was adopted by Great Britain at the beginning of 1801, before the expedition sailed. The stranger put up the tricolour, "and afterwards an English Jack forward, as we did a white flag."* (* Flinders relates the story of his meeting with Baudin, in his Voyage to Terra Australis, 1 188, and in letters to the Admiralty; and to Sir Joseph Banks, printed in Historical Records of New South Wales, 4 749 and 755. The official history of the French voyage was written by Francois Peron, and is printed in his Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres Australes, 1 324. But Peron was not present at the interviews between Flinders and Baudin. Captain Baudin's own account of the incident is related in his manuscript diary, and in a long letter to the French Minister of Marine, dated "Port Jackson, 10th November, 1802," both of which are in the Archives Nationales, BB4, 995, Marine. These sources have been compared and used in the writing of this chapter. Baudin's narrative is translated in an appendix.)

It has already been explained (Chapter 11) that Le Geographe, commanded by the commodore of the French expedition, separated from Le Naturaliste at the eastern entrance to Bass Strait on March 7th and 8th, and that Baudin sailed through the Strait westward. We take up the thread again at that point, and will follow Baudin until he met Flinders. He was between Wilson's Promontory and Cape Otway from March 28th to 31st, in very good weather. The most important fact relating to this part of his voyage is that he missed the entrance to Port Phillip. In his letter to the Minister of Marine, he described the Promontory and the situation of Westernport, and then proceeded to relate that "from the 9th to the 11th (of the month Germinal in the French Revolutionary calendar, by which of course Baudin dated events; equivalent to March 30 to April 1st) the winds having been very favourable to us, we visited an extensive portion of the coast, where the land is high, well-wooded, and of an agreeable appearance, but does not present any place favourable to debarkation. All the points were exactly determined, and the appearance of the shores depicted." That describes the Cape Otway country; and the part of the letter which follows refers to the land on the west of the Otway. There is no word of any port being sighted. The letter agrees with what Baudin told Flinders, that "he had found no ports, harbours or inlets, or anything to interest"; and Flinders was subsequently surprised to find that so large a harbour as Port Phillip had been missed by Baudin, "more especially as he had fine winds and weather."* (* Flinders to Banks, Hist. Rec. 4 755.) Nevertheless, when Peron and Freycinet came to write the history of the French voyage—knowing then of the existence of Port Phillip, and having a chart of it before them—they very boldly claimed that they had seen it, and had distinguished its contours from the masthead,* a thing impossible to do from the situation in which they were. (* Voyage de Decouvertes 1 316 and 3 115.)

The company on board Le Geographe were as excited about the ship sailing eastward, as were the Investigator's men when the reported white rock ahead proved to be the sails of another vessel. The French crew were in a distressingly sick condition. Scurvy had played havoc among them, much of the ship's meat was worm-eaten and stinking, and a large number of the crew were incapacitated. On the morning of April 8th some of Baudin's people had been engaged in harpooning dolphins. They were desperately in need of fresh food, and a shoal of these rapid fish, appearing and playing around the prow, appeared to them "like a gift from heaven." Nine large dolphins had been caught, giving a happy promise of enough meat to last a day or two, when the man at the masthead reported that there was a sail in sight. At first Baudin was of opinion that the ship ahead was Le Naturaliste, rejoining company after a month's separation. But as the distance between the two ships diminished, and the Investigator ran up her ensign, her nationality was perceived, and Baudin hoisted the tricolour.

The situation of the Investigator when she hove to was in 35 degrees 40 minutes south and 138 degrees 58 minutes east. The time was half-past five o'clock in the evening; the position about five miles south-west of the nearest bit of coast, in what Flinders called Encounter Bay, in commemoration of the event. Le Geographe passed the English ship with a free wind, and as she did so Flinders hailed her, enquiring "Are you Captain Baudin?" "It is he," was the response. Flinders thereupon called out that he was very glad to meet the French explorer, and Baudin responded in cordial terms, without, however, knowing whom he was addressing. Still the wariness of the English captain was not to be lulled; he records, "we veered round as Le Geographe was passing, so as to keep our broadside to her, lest the flag of truce should be a deception." But being now satisfied of her good faith, Flinders brought his ship to the wind on the opposite tack, had a boat hoisted out, and prepared to go on board the French vessel.

As Flinders did not speak French, he took with him Robert Brown, who was an accomplished French scholar. On board Le Geographe they were received by an officer, who indicated Baudin, and the three passed into the captain's cabin.

It is curious that Baudin, in his letter to the Minister of Marine, makes no reference to the presence of Brown at this interview, and at a second which occurred on the following morning. He speaks of inviting Flinders to enter his cabin, and proceeds to allude to the conversation which followed when they were "alone" ("nous trouvant seul"). But Flinders' statement, "as I did not understand French, Mr. Brown, the naturalist, went with me in the boat; we were received by an officer who pointed out the commander, and by him were conducted into the cabin," can have no other meaning than that Brown was present. He also says, further on in his narrative, "no person was present at our conversations except Mr. Brown, and they were mostly carried on in English, which the captain spoke so as to be understood." It may be that Baudin regarded Brown merely as an interpreter, but certainly his presence was a fact.

In the cabin Flinders produced his passport from the French Government, and asked to see Baudin's from the Admiralty. Baudin found the document and handed it to his visitor, but did not wish to see the passport carried by Flinders. He put it aside without inspection.

The conversation then turned upon the two voyages. Flinders explained that he had left England about eight months after the departure of the French ships, and that he was bound for Port Jackson. Baudin related the course of his voyage, mentioning his work in Van Diemen's Land, his passage through Bass Strait, and his run along the coast of what is now the State of Victoria, where he had not found "any river, inlet or other shelter which afforded anchorage." Flinders enquired about a large island said to lie in the western entrance to Bass Strait (that is, King Island), but Baudin said he had not seen it, and seemed to doubt whether it existed. Baudin observed in his letter that Flinders appeared to be pleased with this reply, "doubtless in the hope of being able to make the discovery himself."

Baudin was very critical about an English chart of Bass Strait, published in 1800. He found fault with the representation of the north side, but commended the drawing of the south side, and of the neighbouring islands. Flinders pointed to a note upon the chart, explaining that it was prepared from material furnished by George Bass, who had merely traversed the coast in a small open boat, and had had no good means of fixing the latitude and longitude; but he added that a rectified chart had since been published, and offered, if Baudin would remain in the neighbourhood during the night, to visit Le Geographe again in the morning, and bring with him a copy of this improved drawing, with a memorandum on the navigation of the strait. He was alluding to his own small quarto book of Observations, published before he left England, as related in Chapter 12. Baudin accepted the offer with pleasure, and the two ships lay near together during the night.

The story of the interviews, as related by the two captains, is not in agreement on several points, and the differences are not a little curious. Baudin states that he knew Flinders at the very beginning of the first interview, on April 8th: "Mr. Flinders, who commanded the ship, presented himself, and as soon as I learnt his name I had no doubt that he, like ourselves, was occupied with the exploration of the south coast of New Holland." But Flinders affirms that Baudin did not learn his name until the end of the second interview on April 9th: "At parting...on my asking the name of the captain of Le Naturaliste he bethought himself to ask mine; and finding it to be the same as the author of the chart which he had been criticising, expressed not a little surprise, but had the politeness to congratulate himself on meeting me." There may well have been some misunderstanding between the two captains, especially as Flinders did not speak French and Baudin only spoke English "so as to be understood," which, as experience teaches, usually means so as to be misunderstood. It is not very likely that Baudin was unaware of the name of the English captain until the end of the second meeting. While the interview of April 8th was taking place in the cabin, Flinders' boatmen were questioned by some of Le Geographe's company who could speak English, and Peron tells us that the men related the story of the Investigator's voyage.* (* Peron, Voyage de Decouvertes 1 323. Flinders also said that "some of his officers learnt from my boat's crew that our object was also discovery.") It is difficult to believe that Flinders' name would not be ascertained in this manner; equally difficult to believe that Captain Baudin would sustain two interviews with the commander of another ship without knowing to whom he was talking. In fact, Baudin had the name of Flinders before him on the Bass Strait chart which he had been criticising. It was a chart copied in Paris from an English print, and was inscribed as "levee par Flinders." Baudin in his letter to the Minister observed that he pointed out to Flinders errors in the chart "that he had given us." Flinders was of opinion that Baudin criticised the chart without knowing that he was the author of it. Baudin may have been surprised at first to learn that the Captain Flinders with whom he was conversing was the same as he whose name appeared on the chart; but his own statement that he knew the name at the first interview appears credible.

Again, Baudin was of opinion that at the first interview Flinders was "reserved"; whilst Flinders, on the other hand, was surprised that Baudin "made no enquiries concerning my business on this unknown coast, but as he seemed more desirous of communicating information I was happy to receive it." Reading the two narratives together, it is not apparent either that Flinders wished to be reserved or that Baudin lacked curiosity as to what the Investigator had been doing. The probable explanation is that the two men were not understanding each other perfectly.

At half-past six o'clock on the morning of April 9th Flinders again visited Le Geographe, where he breakfasted with Baudin.* (* Flinders does not mention this circumstance; but as he boarded Le Geographe at 6.30 in the morning and did not return to the Investigator till 8.30, Baudin's statement is not doubtful.) On this occasion they talked freely about their respective voyages, and, said the French commodore, "he appeared to me to have been happier than we were in the discoveries he had made." Flinders pointed out Cape Jervis, which was in sight, related the discovery of Spencer's and St. Vincent's Gulfs, and described Kangaroo Island, with its abundance of fresh food and water. He handed to Baudin a copy of his little book on Bass Strait and its accompanying chart, related the story of the loss of John Thistle and his boat's crew, and listened to an account which his host gave of a supposed loss of one of his own boats with a number of men on the east coast of Van Diemen's Land. Baudin intimated that it was likely that Flinders, in sailing east, would fall in with the missing Naturaliste, and he requested that, should this occur, the captain of that ship might be informed that Baudin intended to sail to Port Jackson as soon as the bad winter weather set in. Flinders himself had invited Baudin to sail to Sydney to refresh, mentioning that he would be able to obtain whatever assistance he required there. The interview was thoroughly cordial, and the two captains parted with mutual expressions of goodwill. Flinders and Brown returned to the Investigator at half-past eight o'clock.

Seaman Smith has nothing new to tell us concerning the Encounter Bay incident, but his brief reference is of some interest as showing how it struck a member of the Investigator crew, and may be cited for that purpose. "In the morning (9th April) we unmoord and stood for sea between Van Diemen's Land and New Holland. In the afternoon we espied a sail which loomd large. Cleared forequarters, not knowing what might be the consequence. On the ship coming close, our captn spoke her. She proved to be the Le Geography (sic) French ship upon investigation. Our boats being lowerd down our captn went on board of her, and soon returnd. Both ships lay to untill the next morning, when our captn went on board of her and soon returnd. We found her poorly mannd, having lost a boat and crew and several that run away. Her acct. was that they had parted compy with the Naturalizer (sic) on investigation in a gale of wind. Have been from France 18 months. On the 20th we parted compy."

Baudin sailed for Kangaroo Island, where his men enjoyed a similar feast to that which had delighted the English sailors a little while before. But the scurvy-stricken condition of his crew made the pursuit of exploration painful, and he did not continue on these coasts beyond another month. On May 8th he abandoned the work for the time being, resolving to pay a second visit to the region of the gulfs after he had refreshed his people. Sailing for Sydney, he arrived there on June 20th, in circumstances that it will be convenient to relate after describing the remainder of the voyage of the Investigator up to her arrival in the same port.


Flinders' actual discovery work on the south coast was completed when he met Baudin in Encounter Bay; for the whole coast line to the east had been found a short while before he appeared upon it, though he was not aware of this fact when completing his voyage. For about a hundred and fifty miles, from the mouth of the Murray eastward to Cape Banks, the credit of discovery properly belongs to Baudin, and Flinders duly marked his name upon the chart. Further eastward, from Cape Banks to the deep bend of the coast at the head of which lies Port Phillip, the discoverer was Captain Grant of the Lady Nelson. His voyage was projected under the following circumstances.

When Philip Gidley King, who in 1800 succeeded Hunter as Governor of New South Wales, was in England in 1799, he represented to the Admiralty the desirability of sending out to Australia a small, serviceable ship, capable of being used in shallow waters, so that she might explore bays and rivers. One of the Commissioners of the Transport Board, Captain John Schanck, had designed a type of vessel that was considered suitable for this purpose. She was to be fitted with a sliding keel, or centreboard, and was deemed to be a boat of staunch sea-going qualities, as well as being good for close-in coastal service. A sixty-ton brig, the Lady Nelson, was built to Schanck's plans, and was entrusted to the command of Lieutenant Grant. She was tried in the Downs in January, 1800, when Grant reported enthusiastically on her behaviour. She rode out a gale in five fathoms of water without shipping "even a sea that would come over the sole of your shoe." Running her into Ramsgate in a heavy sea, Grant wrote of her in terms that, though somewhat crabbed to a non-nautical ear, were a sailor's equivalent for fine poetry: "though it blew very strong, I found the vessel stand well up under sail, and with only one reef out of the topsails, no jib set, a lee tide going, when close hauled she brought her wake right aft and went at the rate of five knots."

Grant was ambitious to make discoveries on his own account, and did not lack zeal. He was a skilful sailor, but was lacking in the scientific accomplishment required for the service in which he aspired to shine. When at length he returned from Australia, King summed him up in a sentence: "I should have been glad if your ability as a surveyor, or being able to determine the longitude of the different places you might visit, was any ways equal to your ability as an officer and a seaman."

Grant left England early in 1800, intending to sail to Australia by the usual route, making the Cape of Good Hope, and then rounding the south of Van Diemen's Land. But news of the discovery of Bass Strait was received after the Lady Nelson had put to sea; and the Admiralty (April, 1800) sent instructions to reach him at the Cape, directing him to sail through the strait from the west. This he did. Striking the Australian coast opposite Cape Banks on December 3rd, 1800, he followed it along past Cape Otway, thence in a line across to Wilson's Promontory and, penetrating the strait, was the first navigator to work through it from the far western side. He attempted no survey, and shortness of water and provisions deterred him from even pursuing the in-and-out curves of the shore; but he marked down upon a rough eye-sketch such prominent features as Mount Gambier, Cape Northumberland, Cape Bridgewater, Cape Nelson, Portland Bay, Julia Percy Island, and Cape Otway. "I took the liberty of naming the different capes, bays, etc., for the sake of distinction," he reported to the Governor on his arrival at Sydney on December 16th.

It was in this way that both Baudin and Flinders were anticipated in the discovery of the western half of the coast of Victoria. The Investigator voyage had not been planned when the Lady Nelson sailed; and when Flinders was commissioned the Admiralty directed that Grant should be placed under his orders, the brig being used as a tender.

The baffling winds that had delayed Flinders' departure from Kangaroo Island on April 8th, 1802, continued after he sailed from Encounter Bay, so that he did not pass the fifty leagues or so first traversed by Le Geographe for eight tedious days. On April 17th he reached Grant's Cape Banks; on April 18th passed Cape Northumberland; and on the 19th Capes Bridgewater, Nelson and Grant. But the south-west gale blew so hard during this part of the voyage that, the coast trending south-easterly, it was difficult to keep the ship on a safe course; and Flinders confessed that he was "glad to miss a small part of the coast." Thick squally weather prevented the survey being made with safety; and, indeed, it was rarely that the configuration of the land could be distinguished at a greater distance than two miles. On the 21st Flinders noticed a subsidence of the sea, which made him conclude that he was to the windward of the large island concerning which he had questioned Baudin. He resolved to take advantage of a period when the close examination of the mainland had become dangerous to determine the exact position of this island, of whose whereabouts he had heard from sealers in 1799.

The south part of King Island had been found by the skipper of a sealing brig, named Reid, in 1799, but the name it bears was given to it by John Black, commander of the brig Harbinger, who discovered the northern part in January, 1801. Flinders was occupied for three days at King Island. On the 24th, the wind having moderated, he made for Cape Otway. But it was still considered imprudent to follow the shore too closely against a south-east wind; and on the 26th the ship ran across the water to Grant's Cape Schanck.

The details of these movements are of some moment, for the ship was nearing the gates of Port Philip. "We bore away westward," Flinders records, "in order to trace the land round the head of the deep bight." In view of the importance of the harbour which he was about to enter, we may quote his own description of his approach to it, and his surprise at what he found:

"On the west side of the rocky point,* (* Point Nepean.) there was a small opening, with breaking water across it. However, on advancing a little more westward the opening assumed a more interesting aspect, and I bore away to have a nearer view. A large extent of water presently became visible withinside, and although the entrance seemed to be very narrow, and there were in it strong ripplings like breakers, I was induced to steer in at half-past one; the ship being close upon a wind and every man ready for tacking at a moment's warning. The soundings were irregular, between 6 and 12 fathoms, until we got four miles within the entrance, when they shoaled quick to 2 3/4. We then tacked; and having a strong tide in our favour, worked to the eastward, between the shoal and the rocky point, with 12 fathoms for the deepest water. In making the last stretch from the shoal, the depth diminished from 10 fathoms quickly to 3; and before the ship could come round, the flood tide set her upon a mud bank and she stuck fast. A boat was lowered down to sound; and, finding the deep water lie to the north-west, a kedge anchor was carried out; and, having got the ship's head in that direction, the sails were filled, and she drew off into 6 and 10 fathoms; and it being then dark, we came to an anchor.

"The extensive harbour we had thus unexpectedly found I supposed must be Westernport; although the narrowness of the entrance did by no means correspond with the width given to it by Mr. Bass. It was the information of Captain Baudin, who had coasted along from thence with fine weather, and had found no inlet of any kind, which induced this supposition; and the very great extent of the place, agreeing with that of Westernport, was in confirmation of it. This, however, was not Westernport, as we found next morning; and I congratulated myself on having made a new and useful discovery. But here again I was in error. This place, as I afterwards learned at Port Jackson, had been discovered ten weeks before by Lieutenant John Murray, who had succeeded Captain Grant in the command of the Lady Nelson. He had given it the name of Port Phillip, and to the rocky point on the east side of the entrance that of Point Nepean."

It was characteristic of Flinders that he allowed no expression of disappointment to escape him, on finding that he had been anticipated by a few weeks in the discovery of Port Phillip. Baudin, it will be remembered, observed the satisfaction felt by his visitor in Encounter Bay, when he learnt that Le Geographe had not found King Island, because he thought he would have the happiness of being the first to lay it down upon a chart. In this he had been forestalled by Black of the Harbinger; and now again he was to find that a predecessor had entered the finest harbour in southern Australia. Disappointment he must have felt; but he was by no means the man to begrudge the success that had accrued to another navigator. He made no remark, such as surely might have been forgiven to him, about the determining accidents of time and weather; though it is but right for us to observe that, had the Investigator been permitted to sail from England when she was ready (in April, 1801) instead of being delayed by the Admiralty officials till July, Port Phillip, as well as the stretch of coast discovered by Baudin, would have been found by Flinders. That delay was caused by nothing more than a temporary illness of the Secretary of the Admiralty, Evan Nepean, whose name is commemorated in Point Nepean, one of the headlands flanking the entrance to the Port.

A perfectly just recognition of the real significance of Flinders in southern exploration has led to his name being honoured and commemorated even with respect to parts where he was not the actual discoverer. It is a function of history to do justice in the large, abiding sense, discriminating the spiritual potency of personalities that dominate events from the accidental connection of lesser persons with them. In that wider sense, Flinders was the true discoverer of the whole of the southern coast of Australia. He, of course, made no such claim; but we who estimate the facts after a long lapse of years can see clearly that it was so. Only the patching up of the old Reliance kept him in Sydney while Bass was creeping round the coast to Westernport. Only the illness of an official and other trifling causes prevented him from discovering Port Phillip. It was the completion of his chart of Bass Strait, based upon his friend's memoranda, that led the Admiralty to direct Grant to sail through the strait from the west, and so enabled him to be the first to come upon the coast from Cape Banks to Cape Schanck. It was only the delay before-mentioned and the contrary winds that hindered him from preceding Baudin along the fifty leagues that are credited to that navigator.

Thus it is that although not a league of the coastline of Victoria is in strict verity to be attributed to Flinders as discoverer, he is habitually cited as if he were. Places are named after him, memorials are erected to him. The highest mountain in the vicinity of Port Phillip carries on its summit a tablet celebrating the fact that Flinders entered the port at the end of April, 1802; but there is nowhere a memorial to remind anyone that Murray actually discovered it in January of the same year. The reason is that, while it is felt that time and circumstance enabled others to do things which must be inscribed on the historical page, the triumph that should have followed from skill, knowledge, character, preparation and opportunities well and wisely used, was fairly earned by Flinders. The dates, not the merits, prevent their being claimed for him. His personality dominates the whole group of discoveries. We chronicle the facts in regard to Grant, Baudin, Murray, and Bass, but we feel all the time that Flinders was the central man.

Not being aware of Murray's good fortune in January, Flinders treated Port Phillip as a fresh discovery, and examined its approaches with as much thoroughness as his resources would allow. At this time, however, the store of provisions was running low. The Investigator was forty weeks out from England, and re-equipment was fast becoming imperative. Her commander had felt the urgency of his needs before he reached Port Phillip. He had seriously considered whether he should not make for Sydney from King Island. "I determined, however, to run over to the high land we had seen on the north side of Bass Strait, and to trace as much of the coast from thence eastward as the state of the weather and our remaining provisions could possibly allow."

As related in the passage quoted above, Flinders at first thought he had reached Westernport, though the narrowness of the entrance did not correspond with Bass's description of the harbour he had discovered four years previously. But Baudin had told him that he found no port or harbour of any kind between Westernport and Encounter Bay. Consequently, it was all the more astonishing to behold this great sheet of blue water broadening out to shores overlooked by high hills, and extending northward further than the eye could penetrate. It was not until the following day, April 27th, that he found he was not in the port which his friend had discovered in the whaleboat. Immediately after breakfast he rowed away from the ship in a boat, accompanied by Brown and Westall, to ascend the bluff mountain on the east side which Murray had named Arthur's Seat. From the top he was able to survey the landscape at a height of a thousand feet; and then he saw the waters and islands of Westernport lying beneath him only a few miles further to the east, whilst, to his surprise, the curves of Port Phillip were seen to be so extensive "that even at this elevation its boundary to the northward could not be distinguished."

Next morning, April 28th, Flinders commenced to sail round the bay. But the wind was slight and progress was slow; with his fast diminishing store of provisions vexing his mind, he felt that he could not afford the time for a complete survey. Besides, the lead showed many shallows, and there was a constant fear of running the ship aground. He therefore directed Fowler to take the Investigator back to the entrance, whilst, on the 29th, he went with Midshipman Lacy, in a boat provisioned for three days, to make a rapid reconnaissance of as much as could be seen in that time. He rowed north-east nine miles from Arthur's Seat, reaching about the neighbourhood of Mornington. Then he crossed to the western side of the bay, and on the 30th traversed the opening of the arm at the head of which Geelong now stands.

At dawn on May 1st he landed with three of the boat's crew, for the purpose of ascending the highest point of the You-yang range, whose conical peaks, standing up purple against the evening sky, had been visible when the ship first entered Port Phillip. "Our way was over a low plain, where the water appeared frequently to lodge. It was covered with small-bladed grass, but almost destitute of wood, and the soil was clayey and shallow. One or two miles before arriving at the feet of the hills, we entered a wood, where an emu and a kangaroo were seen at a distance; and the top of the peak was reached at ten o'clock."

From the crest of this granite mountain he would command a superb view. Towards the north, in the interior, the dark bulk of Mount Macedon was seen; and all around lay a fertile, promising country, mile after mile of green pastures, as fair a prospect as the eye could wish to rest upon. There can be little doubt that Flinders made his observations from the flat top of a huge granite boulder which forms the apex of the peak. "I left the ship's name," he says, "on a scroll of paper deposited in a small pile of stones upon the top of the peak." He called it Station Peak, for the reason that he had made it his station for making observations. In 1912 a fine bronze tablet was fastened on the eastern face of the boulder on which Flinders probably stood and worked.* (* It is much to be regretted that this very laudable mark of honour to his memory was not effected without doing a thing which is contrary to a good rule and was repugnant to Flinders' practice. The name Station Peak was sought to be changed to Flinders' Peak, and those who so admirably occasioned the erection of the tablet managed to secure official sanction for the alteration by its notification in the Victorian Government Gazette. But nobody with any historical sense or proper regard for the fame of Flinders will ever call the mountain by any other name than Station Peak. It was his name; and names given by a discoverer should be respected, except when there is a sound reason to the contrary, as there is not in this instance. As previously observed, Flinders never named any discovery after himself. Honour him by calling any other places after him by all means; the name Flinders for the Commonwealth Naval Base in Westernport is an excellent one, for instance. But his names for natural features should not be disturbed.)

The boat was reached, after the descent of the mountain and the return tramp across the sodden flats, at three o'clock in the afternoon. The party were very weary from this twenty-mile excursion, a feat requiring some power of endurance, as one who has walked along the same route and climbed Station Peak several times can testify; and especially hard on men who were fresh from a long voyage. The party camped for the night at Indented Head, on the west side of the port, and on Sunday, May 2nd, they again boarded the Investigator.

The ship was anchored under the shelter of the Nepean Peninsula, nearly opposite the present Portsea. On the way back Flinders shot "some delicate teal," near the piece of water which Murray had called Swan Harbour, and a few black swans were caught.

Port Phillip has since become important as the seat of one of the great cities of the world, and its channels are used by commercial fleets flying every colour known to the trading nations. Scarcely an hour of the day goes by, but the narrow waters dividing the port from the ocean are churned by the propellers of great ships. The imagination sets itself a task in trying to realize those few days in May, 1802, when Flinders called it a "useful but obscure port" and when the only keels that lay within the bay were those of one small sloop at anchor near the entrance, and one tiny boat in which her captain was rowing over the surface and making a map of the outline. And if it is difficult for us to recapture that scene of spacious solitude, it was quite impossible for Flinders to foresee what a century would bring forth. He recognised that the surrounding country "has a pleasing and in many places a fertile appearance." He described much of it as patently fit for agricultural purposes. "It is in great measure a grassy country, and capable of supporting much cattle, though much better calculated for sheep." It was, indeed, largely on his report that settlement was attempted at Port Phillip in 1803. But it is quaint, at this time of day, to read his remark that "were a settlement made at Port Phillip, as doubtless there will be some time hereafter, the entrance could be easily distinguished, and it would not be difficult to establish a friendly intercourse with the natives, for they are acquainted with the effect of firearms, and desirous of possessing many of our conveniences."

Seaman Smith devotes a paragraph in his Journal to the visit to Port Phillip, and it may as well be quoted for its historical interest: "On the 28th we came to an anchor in a bay of very large size. Thinking there was a good channel in a passage through, we got aground; but by good management we got off without damadge. Here we caught a Shirk which measured 10 feet 9 inch in length; in girt very large. 29th the captn and boats went to investigate the interior part of the harbr for 3 days, while those on board imploy'd in working ship to get as near the mouth of the harbr as possible. May 2nd our boat and crew came on board. Brought with them 2 swanns and a number of native spears."

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