A Voyage to Terra Australis
by Matthew Flinders
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Notes referred to in the book (*) are shown in square brackets ([]) at the end of the paragraph in which the note is indicated.

Italics are indicated by underscore characters (_) at the start and finish of the italicised words.

References to the charts have been retained though, of course, the charts are not present in the text only version of the ebook.

The original punctuation and spelling and the use of italics and capital letters to highlight words and phrases have, for the most part, been retained. I think they help maintain the "feel" of the book, which was published nearly 200 years ago. Flinders notes in the preface that "I heard it declared that a man who published a quarto volume without an index ought to be set in the pillory, and being unwilling to incur the full rigour of this sentence, a running title has been affixed to all the pages; on one side is expressed the country or coast, and on the opposite the particular part where the ship is at anchor or which is the immediate subject of examination; this, it is hoped, will answer the main purpose of an index, without swelling the volumes." This treatment is, of course, not possible, where there are no defined pages. However, Flinders' page headings are included at appropriate places where they seem relevant. These, together with the Notes which, in the book, appear in the margin, are represented as line headings with a blank line before and after them.



[Facsimile Edition, 1966]

TO The Right Hon. George John, Earl Spencer, The Right Hon. John, Earl of St Vincent, The Right Hon. Charles Philip Yorke, and The Right Hon. Robert Saunders, Viscount Melville, who, as First Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, successively honoured the Investigator's voyage with their patronage, This account of it is respectfully dedicated, by their Lordships' most obliged, and most obedient humble servant,

Matthew Flinders.

London, 20 May 1814.


The publication in 1814 of a voyage commenced in 1801, and of which all the essential parts were concluded within three years, requires some explanation. Shipwreck and a long imprisonment prevented my arrival in England until the latter end of 1810; much had then been done to forward the account, and the charts in particular were nearly prepared for the engraver; but it was desirable that the astronomical observations, upon which so much depended, should undergo a re-calculation, and the lunar distances have the advantage of being compared with the observations made at the same time at Greenwich; and in July 1811, the necessary authority was obtained from the Board of Longitude. A considerable delay hence arose, and it was prolonged by the Greenwich observations being found to differ so much from the calculated places of the sun and moon, given in the Nautical Almanacks of 1801, 2 and 3, as to make considerable alterations in the longitudes of places settled during the voyage; and a reconstruction of all the charts becoming thence indispensable to accuracy, I wished also to employ in it corrections of another kind, which before had been adopted only in some particular instances.

A variety of observations with the compass had shown the magnetic needle to differ from itself sometimes as much as six, and even seven degrees, in or very near the same place, and the differences appeared to be subject to regular laws; but it was so extraordinary in the present advanced state of navigation, that they should not have been before discovered and a mode of preventing or correcting them ascertained, that my deductions, and almost the facts were distrusted; and in the first construction of the charts I had feared to deviate much from the usual practice. Application was now made to the Admiralty for experiments to be tried with the compass on board different ships; and the results in five cases being conformable to one of the three laws before deduced, which alone was susceptible of proof in England, the whole were adopted without reserve, and the variations and bearings taken throughout the voyage underwent a systematic correction. From these causes the reconstruction of the charts could not be commenced before 1813, which, when the extent of them is considered, will explain why the publication did not take place sooner; but it is hoped that the advantage in point of accuracy will amply compensate the delay.

Besides correcting the lunar distances and the variations and bearings, there are some other particulars, both in the account of the voyage and in the Atlas, where the practice of former navigators has not been strictly followed. Latitudes, longitudes, and bearings, so important to the seaman and uninteresting to the general reader, have hitherto been interwoven in the text; they are here commonly separated from it, by which the one will be enabled to find them more readily, and the other perceive at a glance what may be passed. I heard it declared that a man who published a quarto volume without an index ought to be set in the pillory, and being unwilling to incur the full rigour of this sentence, a running title has been affixed to all the pages; on one side is expressed the country or coast, and on the opposite the particular part where the ship is at anchor or which is the immediate subject of examination; this, it is hoped, will answer the main purpose of an index, without swelling the volumes. Longitude is one of the most essential, but at the same time least certain data in hydrography; the man of science therefore requires something more than the general result of observations before giving his unqualified assent to their accuracy, and the progress of knowledge has of late been such, that a commander now wishes to know the foundation upon which he is to rest his confidence and the safety of his ship; to comply with this laudable desire, the particular results of the observations by which the most important points on each coast are fixed in longitude, as also the means used to obtain them, are given at the end of the volume wherein that coast is described., as being there of most easy reference.

The deviations in the Atlas from former practice, or rather the additional marks used, are intended to make the charts contain as full a journal of the voyage as can be conveyed in this form; a chart is the seaman's great, and often sole guide, and if the information in it can be rendered more complete without introducing confusion, the advantage will be admitted by those who are not opposers of all improvement. In closely following a track laid down upon a chart, seamen often run at night, unsuspicious of danger if none be marked; but some parts of that track were run in the night also, and there may consequently be rocks or shoals, as near even as half a mile, which might prove fatal to them; it therefore seems proper that night tracks should be distinguished from those of the day, and they are so in this Atlas, I believe, for the first time. A distinction is made between the situations at noon where the latitude was observed, and those in which none could be obtained; and the positions fixed in longitude by the time keepers are also marked in the track, as are the few points where a latitude was obtained from the moon.

It has appeared to me, that to show the direction and strength of the winds, with the kind of weather we had when running along these coasts, would be an useful addition to the charts; not only as it would enable those who may navigate by them alone to form a judgment of what is to be expected at the same season, but also that it may be seen how far circumstances prevented several parts of the coast being laid down so correctly as others. This has been done by single arrows, wherever they could be marked without confusion; they are more or less feathered, proportionate to the strength of wind intended to be expressed, and the arrows themselves give the direction. Under each is a short or abridged word, denoting the weather; when this weather prevailed in a more than usual degree a line is drawn under the word, and when in an excessive degree there are two lines. Single arrows being thus appropriated to the winds, the tides and currents are shown by double arrows, between which is usually marked the rate per hour.

On the land, the shading of the hills gives a general idea of their elevation, and it has been assisted by saying how far particular hills and capes are visible from a ship's deck in fine weather; this will be useful to a seaman on first making the land, be a better criterion to judge of its height, and those hills not so marked may be more nearly estimated by comparison. Behind different parts of the coast is given a short description of their appearance, which it is conceived will be gratifying to scientific, and useful to professional men. The capes and hills whose positions are fixed by cross bearings taken on shore or from well ascertained points in the track, as also the stations whence bearings were observed with a theodolite, have distinguishing marks; which, with all others not before in common use, are explained on the General Chart, Plate I.

To have laid down no more than the lands and dangers seen in the Investigator and other vessels under my command, would have left several open spaces, and obliged the seaman to have recourse to other charts where the difference of positions might have perplexed; the discoveries and examinations of former navigators which come within the sphere of each sheet, are therefore incorporated with, or added to mine, but so marked as to be distinctly known. In making the combination, alterations in their longitudes were frequently necessary to agreement; and that they might be made with every regard to accuracy, the charts of the former discoveries were compared with the astronomical observations, narratives, or manuscript journals, when such could be had, and the alterations introduced where there seemed to be the best authority. This has been done with the charts of the east coast of New South Wales, published by Mr. Dalrymple from the manuscripts, as it should appear, of captain Cook; and since it may be thought presumptuous in me to have made alterations in any work of so great a master, this case is selected for a more particular explanation.

Time keepers were in their infancy in 1768, when captain Cook sailed upon his first voyage, and he was not then furnished with them; his longitude was therefore regulated only by occasional observations of lunar distances and some few of Jupiter's satellites, which even in the present improved state of instruments and tables, require to be connected by time keepers before satisfactory conclusions can be drawn. Errors of greater or less magnitude were thence unavoidable; at Cape Gloucester, where I quitted the East Coast, my longitude was 201/2' greater than captain Cook's chart—at Cape York where the survey was again resumed, it was 581/2; and to incorporate the intermediate parts, it was necessary not only to carry his scale of longitude 201/2' more west, but also to reduce the extent of the coast. The chart was compared with the narrative and chart in Hawkesworth, and the log book of the Endeavour with them all; when it was found that reductions might be made in various places upon one or more of the above authorities, for differences between them were frequent and sometimes considerable, and in one instance alone a reduction of 12' in the chart was obtained. It is said in Hawkesworth (III, 202), "As soon as we got within side the reef (through Providential Channel) we anchored in nineteen fathom;" and afterwards (p. 204), that the channel, "bore E. N. E. distant ten or twelve miles." In the first chart the distance is 141/2 miles, and nearly the same in that which accompanies the narrative; but in the log book it is said to be 21/2 miles only, which corresponds with having anchored as soon as they got within the reef, and has been adopted. In some cases it was not easy to make a choice between these different authorities; but I have commonly followed the narrative and log book when they were found to specify with precision, and they generally produced such corrections to the chart as brought the longitudes of places nearer to my positions. Captain Cook's track in Plates XI. XII. and XIII. is laid down afresh from the log book; and many soundings, with some other useful particulars not to be found in the original chart, are introduced, for the benefit of any navigator who may follow the same route.

The reconstruction of the charts in the Atlas was done upon various scales, but that no error might escape unseen, the least was of ten inches to a degree of longitude; they were then reduced by Mr. Thomas Arrowsmith to four inches, this being thought sufficiently large for a general sailing scale; and each reduced sheet was scrupulously compared by me with the original before it went into the engravers hands, and the proof impressions with the drawing until no errors were found. To those who may read this voyage with a view to geographical information, a frequent reference to the Atlas is earnestly recommended; for many particulars are there marked which it would have been tedious to describe, and should any thing appear obscure in the narrative the charts will generally afford an elucidation.

From the general tenour of the explanations here given, it will perhaps be inferred that the perfection of the Atlas has been the principal object of concern; in fact, having no pretension to authorship, the writing of the narrative, though by much the most troublesome part of my labour, was not that upon which any hope of reputation was founded; a polished style was therefore not attempted, but some pains have been taken to render it clearly intelligible. The first quire of my manuscript was submitted to the judgment of a few literary friends, and I hope to have profited by the corrections they had the kindness to make; but finding these to bear more upon redundancies than inaccuracy of expression, I determined to confide in the indulgence of the public, endeavour to improve as the work advanced, and give my friends no further trouble. Matter, rather than manner, was the object of my anxiety; and if the reader shall be satisfied with the selection and arrangement, and not think the information destitute of such interest as might be expected from the subject, the utmost of my hopes will be accomplished.

* * *

N.B. Throughout this narrative the variation has been allowed upon the bearings, and also in the direction of winds, tides, etc.; the whole are therefore to be considered with reference to the true poles of the earth, unless it be otherwise particularly expressed; and perhaps in some few cases of the ship's head when variations are taken, where the expression by compass, or magnetic, may have been omitted.


TABLE OF CONTENTS. (For both volumes)






Preliminary Remarks: Discoveries of the Duyfhen; of Torres; Carstens; Pool; Pietersen; Tasman; and of three Dutch vessels. Of Cook; M'Cluer; Bligh; Edwards; Bligh and Portlock; and Bampton and Alt. Conclusive Remarks.



Preliminary Observations. Discoveries of Hartog: Edel: of the Ship Leeuwin: the Vianen: of Pelsert: Tasman: Dampier: Vlaming: Dampier. Conclusive Remarks.



Discovery of Nuyts. Examination of Vancouver: of D'Entrecasteaux. Conclusive Remarks.




Preliminary Observations. Discoveries of Tasman; of Cook; Marion and Furneaux. Observations of Cook; Bligh; and Cox. Discovery of D'Entrecasteaux. Hayes.


Preliminary Information. Boat expeditions of Bass and Flinders. Clarke. Shortland. Discoveries of Bass to the southward of Port Jackson; of Flinders; and of Flinders and Bass. Examinations to the northward by Flinders. Conclusive Remarks.




Appointment to the Investigator. Outfit of the ship. Instruments, books, and charts supplied, with articles for presents and barter. Liberal conduct of the Hon. East-India Company. Passage round to Spithead. The Roar sand. Instructions for the execution of the voyage. French passport, and orders in consequence. Officers and company of the Investigator, and men of science who embarked. Account of the time keepers.


Departure from Spithead. Variation of the compass. The Dezertas. Arrival at Madeira. Remarks on Funchal. Political state of the island. Latitude and longitude. Departure from Madeira. The island St. Antonio. Foul winds; and remarks upon them. The ship leaky. Search made for Isle Sable. Trinidad. Saxemberg sought for. Variation of the compass. State of the ship's company, on arriving at the Cape of Good Hope. Refitment at Simon's Bay. Observatory set Up. The astronomer quits the expedition. Rates Of the time keepers. Some remarks on Simon's Bay.


Departure from False Bay. Remarks on the passage to Terra Australis. Gravity of sea-water tried. Cape Leeuwin, and the coast from thence to King George's Sound. Arrival in the Sound. Examination of the harbours. Excursion inland. Country, soil, and productions. Native inhabitants: Language and anatomical measurement. Astronomical and nautical observations.


Departure from King George's Sound. Coast from thence to the Archipelago of the Recherche. Discovery of Lucky Bay and Thistle's Cove. The surrounding country, and islands of the Archipelago. Astronomical and nautical observations. Goose-Island Bay. A salt lake. Nautical observations. Coast from the Archipelago to the end of Nuyts' Land. Arrival in a bay of the unknown coast. Remarks on the preceding examination.


Fowler's Bay. Departure from thence. Arrival at the Isles of St. Francis. Correspondence between the winds and the marine barometer. Examination of the other parts of Nuyts' Archipelago, and of the main coast. The Isles of St Peter. Return to St. Francis. General remarks on Nuyts' Archipelago. Identification of the islands in the Dutch chart.


Prosecution of the discovery of the unknown coast. Anxious Bay. Anchorage at Waldegrave's and at Flinders' Islands. The Investigator's Group. Coffin's Bay. Whidbey's Isles. Differences in the magnetic needle. Cape Wiles. Anchorage at Thistle's Island. Thorny Passage. Fatal accident. Anchorage in Memory Cove. Cape Catastrophe, and the surrounding country. Anchorage in Port Lincoln, and refitment of the ship. Remarks on the country and inhabitants. Astronomical and nautical observations.


Departure from Port Lincoln. Sir Joseph Banks' Group. Examination of the coast, northward. The ship found to be in a gulph. Anchorage near the head of the gulph. Boat expedition. Excursion to Mount Brown. Nautical observations. Departure from the head, and examination of the east side of the gulph. Extensive shoal. Point Pearce. Hardwicke Bay. Verification of the time keepers. General remarks on the gulph. Cape Spencer and the Althorpe Isles. New land discovered: Anchorage there. General remarks on Kangaroo Island. Nautical observations.


Departure from Kangaroo Island. Examination of the main coast, from Cape Spencer eastward. The Investigator's Strait. A new gulph discovered. Anchorage at, and examination of the head. Remarks on the surrounding land. Return down the gulph. Troubridge Shoal. Yorke's Peninsula. Return to Kangaroo Island. Boat expedition to Pelican Lagoon. Astronomical observations. Kangaroo Island quitted. Back-stairs Passage. The coast from Cape Jervis, eastward. Meeting, and communication with Le Geographe. Remarks upon the French discoveries on the South Coast.


Examination of the coast resumed. Encounter Bay. The capes Bernouilli and Jaffa. Baudin's Rocks. Differences in the bearings on tacking. Cape Buffon, the eastern limit of the French discovery. The capes Northumberland and Bridgewater of captain Grant. Danger from a south-west gale. King's Island, in Bass' Strait: Anchorage there. Some account of the island. Nautical observations. New Year's Isles. Cape Otway, and the north-west entrance to Bass' Strait. Anchorage in, and examination of Port Phillip. The country and inhabitants. Nautical observations.


Departure from Port Phillip. Cape Schanck. Wilson's Promontory, and its isles. Kent's Groups, and Furneaux's Isles. Hills behind the Long Beach. Arrival at Port Jackson. Health of the ship's company. Refitment and supply of the ship. Price of provisions. Volunteers entered. Arrangement for the succeeding part of the voyage. French ships. Astronomical and nautical observations.


Of the winds and currents on the south coast of Terra Australis, and in Bass' Strait. Usual progress of the gales. Proper seasons for sailing eastward, and for going westward: best places of shelter in each case, with some instructions for the Strait.


Account of the observations by which the Longitudes of places on the north coast of Terra Australis have been settled.





Departure from Port Jackson, with the Lady Nelson. Examination of various parts of the East Coast, from thence to Sandy Cape. Break-sea Spit. Anchorage in Hervey's Bay, where the Lady Nelson joins after a separation. Some account of the inhabitants. Variations of the compass. Run to Bustard Bay. Port Curtis discovered, and examined. Some account of the surrounding country. Arrival in Keppel Bay, and examination of its branches, one of which leads into Port Curtis. Some account of the natives, and of the country round Keppel Bay. Astronomical and nautical observations.


The Keppel Isles, and coast to Cape Manifold. A new port discovered and examined. Harvey's Isles. A new passage into Shoal-water Bay. View from Mount Westall. A boat lost. The upper parts of Shoal-water Bay examined. Some account of the country and inhabitants. General remarks on the bay. Astronomical and nautical observations.


Departure from Shoal-water Bay, and anchorage in Thirsty Sound. Magnetical observations. Boat excursion to the nearest Northumberland Islands. Remarks on Thirsty Sound. Observations at West Hill, Broad Sound. Anchorage near Upper Head. Expedition to the head of Broad Sound: another round Long Island. Remarks on Broad Sound, and the surrounding country. Advantages for a colony. Astronomical observations, and remarks on the high tides.


The Percy Isles: anchorage at No. 2. Boat excursions. Remarks on the Percy Isles; with nautical observations. Coral reefs: courses amongst them during eleven days search for a passage through, to sea. Description of a reef. Anchorage at an eastern Cumberland Isle. The Lady Nelson sent back to Port Jackson. Continuation of coral reefs; and courses amongst them during three other days. Cape Gloucester. An opening discovered, and the reefs quitted. General remarks on the Great Barrier; with some instruction relative to the opening.


Passage from the Barrier Reefs to Torres' Strait. Reefs named Eastern Fields. Pandora's Entrance to the Strait. Anchorage at Murray's Islands. Communication with the inhabitants. Half-way Island. Notions on the formation of coral islands in general. Prince of Wales's Islands, with remarks on them. Wallis' Isles. Entrance into the Gulph of Carpentaria. Review of the passage through Torres' Strait.


Examination of the coast on the east side of the Gulph of Carpentaria. Landing at Coen River. Head of the Gulph. Anchorage at Sweers' Island. Interview with Indians at Horse-shoe Island. Investigator's Road. The ship found to be in a state of decay. General remarks on the islands at the Head of the Gulph, and their inhabitants. Astronomical and nautical observations.


Departure from Sweers' Island. South side of C. Van Diemen examined. Anchorage at Bountiful Island: turtle and sharks there. Land of C. Van Diemen proved to be an island. Examination of the main coast to Cape Vanderlin. That cape found to be one of a group of islands. Examination of the islands; their soil, etc. Monument of the natives. Traces of former visitors to these parts. Astronomical and nautical observations.


Departure from Sir Edward Pellew's Group. Coast from thence westward. Cape Maria found to be an island. Limmen's Bight. Coast northward to Cape Barrow: landing on it. Circumnavigation of Groote Eylandt. Specimens of native art at Chasm Island. Anchorage in North-west Bay, Groote Eylandt; with remarks and nautical observations. Blue-mud Bay. Skirmish with the natives. Cape Shield. Mount Grindall. Coast to Caledon Bay. Occurrences in that bay, with remarks on the country and inhabitants. Astronomical and nautical observations.


Departure from Caledon Bay. Cape Arnhem. Melville Bay. Cape Wilberforce, and Bromby's Isles. The English Company's Islands: meeting there with vessels from Macassar. Arnhem Bay. The Weasel's Islands. Further examination of the North Coast postponed. Arrival at Coepang Bay, in Timor. Remarks and astronomical observations.


Departure from Timor. Search made for the Trial Rocks. Anchorage in Goose-Island Bay. Interment of the boatswain, and sickly state of the ship's company. Escape from the bay, and passage through Bass' Strait. Arrival at Port Jackson. Losses in men. Survey and condemnation of the ship. Plans for continuing the survey; but preparation finally made for returning to England. State of the colony at Port Jackson.


Of the winds, currents, and navigation along the east coast of Terra Australis, both without and within the tropic; also on the north coast.

Directions for sailing from Port Jackson, through Torres' Strait, towards India or the Cape of Good Hope.

Advantages of this passage over that round New Guinea.




Departure from Port Jackson in the Porpoise, accompanied by the Bridgewater and Cato. The Cato's Bank. Shipwreck of the Porpoise and Cato in the night. The crews get on a sand bank; where they are left by the Bridgewater. Provisions saved. Regulations on the bank. Measures adopted for getting back to Port Jackson. Description of Wreck-Reef Bank. Remarks on the loss of M. de La Perouse.


Departure from Wreck-Reef Bank in a boat. Boisterous weather. The Coast of New South Wales reached, and followed. Natives at Point Look-out. Landing near Smoky Cape; and again near Port Hunter. Arrival at Port Jackson on the thirteenth day. Return to Wreck Reef with a ship and two schooners. Arrangements at the Bank. Account of the reef, with nautical and other remarks.


Passage in the Cumberland to Torres' Strait. Eastern Fields and Pandora's Entrance. New channels amongst the reefs. Anchorage at Half-way Island, and under the York Isles. Prince of Wales's Islands further examined. Booby Isle. Passage across the Gulph of Carpentaria. Anchorage at Wessel's Islands. Passage to Coepang Bay, in Timor; and to Mauritius, where the leakiness of the Cumberland makes it necessary to stop. Anchorage at the Baye du Cap, and departure for Port Louis.


Arrival at Port Louis (or North-West) in Mauritius. Interview with the French governor. Seizure of the Cumberland, with the charts and journals of the Investigator's voyage; and imprisonment of the commander and people. Letters to the governor, with his answer. Restitution of some books and charts. Friendly act of the English interpreter. Propositions made to the governor. Humane conduct of captain Bergeret. Reflections on a voyage of discovery. Removal to the Maison Despeaux or Garden Prison.


Prisoners in the Maison Despeaux or Garden Prison. Application to admiral Linois. Spy-glasses and swords taken. Some papers restored. Opinions upon the detention of the Cumberland. Letter of captain Baudin. An English squadron arrives off Mauritius: its consequences. Arrival of a French officer with despatches, and observations thereon. Passages in the Moniteur, with remarks. Mr. Aken liberated. Arrival of cartels from India. Applicatiou made by the marquis Wellesley. Different treatment of English and French prisoners. Prizes brought to Mauritius in sixteen months. Departure of all prisoners of war. Permission to quit the Garden Prison. Astronomical observations.


Parole given. Journey into the interior of Mauritius. The governor's country seat. Residence at the Refuge, in that Part of Williems Plains called Vacouas. Its situation and climate, with the mountains, rivers, cascades, and views near it. The Mare aux Vacouas and Grand Bassin. State of cultivation and produce of Vacouas; its black ebony, game, and wild fruits; and freedom from noxious insects.


Occupations at Vacouas. Hospitality of the inhabitants. Letters from England. Refusal to be sent to France repeated. Account of two hurricanes, of a subterraneous stream and circular pit. Habitation of La Perouse. Letters to the French marine minister, National Institute, etc. Letters from Sir Edward Pellew. Caverns in the Plains of St. Pierre. Visit to Port Louis. Narrative transmitted to England. Letter to captain Bergeret on his departure for France.


Effects of repeated disappointment on the mind. Arrival of a cartel, and of letters from India. Letter of the French marine minister. Restitution of papers. Applications for liberty evasively answered. Attempted seizure of private letters. Memorial to the minister. Encroachments made at Paris on the Investigator's discoveries. Expected attack on Mauritius produces an abridgment of Liberty. Strict blockade. Arrival of another cartel from India. State of the public finances in Mauritius. French cartel sails for the Cape of Good Hope.


A prospect of liberty, which is officially confirmed. Occurrences during eleven weeks residence in the town of Port Louis and on board the Harriet cartel. Parole and certificates. Departure from Port Louis, and embarkation in the Otter. Eulogium on the inhabitants of Mauritius. Review of the conduct of general De Caen. Passage to the Cape of Good Hope, and after seven weeks stay, from thence to England. Conclusion.


No. I.

Account of the observations by which the Longitudes of places on the east and north coasts of Terra Australis have been settled.

No. II.

On the errors of the compass arising from attractions within the ship, and others from the magnetism of land; with precautions for obviating their effects in marine surveying.

No. III.

General Remarks, geographical and systematical, on the Botany of Terra Australis. By ROBERT BROWN, F. R. S. Acad. Reg. Scient. Berolin. Corresp. NATURALIST TO THE VOYAGE.



View from the south side of King George's Sound. Entrance of Port Lincoln, taken from behind Memory Cove. View on the north side of Kangaroo Island. View of Port Jackson, taken from the South Head.


View of Port Bowen, from behind the Watering Gully. View of Murray's Islands, with the natives offering to barter. View in Sir Edward Pellew's Group—Gulph of Carpentaria. View of Malay Road, from Pobassoo's Island. View of Wreck-Reef Bank, taken at low water.



I. General Chart of TERRA AUSTRALIS and the neighbouring lands, from latitude 7 deg. to 441/2 deg. south, and longitude 102 deg. to 165 deg. east.

II. Particular chart of the South Coast, from Cape Leeuwin to the Archipelago of the Recherche.

III. Ditto from the Archipelago of the Recherche to past the head of the great Australian Bight.

IV. Ditto from the head of the great Australian Bight to past Encounter Bay.

V. Ditto from near Encounter Bay to Cape Otway at the west entrance of Bass' Strait.

VI. Ditto from Cape Otway, past Cape Howe, to Barmouth Creek.

VII. Particular chart of Van Diemen's Land.

VIII. Particular chart of the East Coast, from Barmouth Creek to past Cape Hawke.

IX. Ditto from near Cape Hawke to past Glass-house Bay.

X. Ditto from Glass-house Bay to Broad Sound.

XI. Ditto from Broad Sound to Cape Grafton.

XII. Ditto from Cape Grafton to the Isle of Direction.

XIII. Particular chart of the East Coast from the I. of Direction to Cape York, and of the North Coast from thence to Pera Head; including Torres Strait and parts of New Guinea.

XIV. A particular chart of the North Coast, from Torres' Strait to Point Dale and the Wessel's Islands, including the whole of the Gulph of Carpentaria.

XV. The north-west side of the Gulph of Carpentaria, on a large scale.

XVI. Particular chart of Timor and some neighbouring islands.

XVII. Fourteen views of headlands, etc. on the south coast of Terra Australis.

XVIII. Thirteen views on the east and north coasts, and one of Samow Strait.


Ten plates of selected plants from different parts of Terra Australis.


[Errors have been corrected in this ebook]


The voyages which had been made, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, by Dutch and by English navigators, had successively brought to light various extensive coasts in the southern hemisphere, which were thought to be united; and to comprise a land, which must be nearly equal in magnitude to the whole of Europe. To this land, though known to be separated from all other great portions of the globe, geographers were disposed to give the appellation of Continent: but doubts still existed, of the continuity of its widely extended shores; and it was urged, that, as our knowledge of some parts was not founded upon well authenticated information, and we were in total ignorance of some others, these coasts might, instead of forming one great land, be no other than parts of different large islands.

The establishment, in 1788, of a British colony on the easternmost, and last discovered, of these new regions, had added that degree of interest to the question of their continuity, which a mother country takes in favour, even, of her outcast children, to know the form, extent, and general nature of the land, where they may be placed. The question had, therefore, ceased to be one in which geography was alone concerned: it claimed the paternal consideration of the father of all his people, and the interests of the national commerce seconded the call for investigation.

Accordingly, the following voyage was undertaken by command of HIS MAJESTY, in the year 1801; in a ship of 334 tons, which received the appropriate name of the INVESTIGATOR; and, besides great objects of clearing up the doubt respecting the unity of these southern regions, and of opening therein fresh sources to commerce, and new ports to seamen, it was intended, that the voyage should contribute to the advancement of natural knowledge in various branches; and that some parts of the neighbouring seas should he visited, wherein geography and navigation had still much to desire.

The vast regions to which this voyage was principally directed, comprehend, in the western part, the early discoveries of the Dutch, under the name of NEW HOLLAND; and in the east, the coasts explored by British navigators, and named NEW SOUTH WALES. It has not, however, been unusual to apply the first appellation to both regions; but to continue this, would be almost as great an injustice to the British nation, whose seamen have had so large a share in the discovery, as it would be to the Dutch, were New South Wales to be so extended. This appears to have been felt by a neighbouring, and even rival, nation; whose writers commonly speak of these countries under the general term of Terres Australes. In fact, the original name, used by the Dutch themselves until some time after Tasman's second voyage, in 1644, was Terra Australis, or Great South Land; and when it was displaced by New Holland, the new term was applied only to the parts lying westward of a meridian line, passing through Arnhem's Land on the north., and near the isles of St. Francis and St. Peter, on the south: all to the eastward, including the shores of the Gulph of Carpentaria, still remained as Terra Australis. This appears from a chart published by THEVENOT, in 1663; which, he says, "was originally taken from that done in inlaid work, upon the pavement of the new Stadt-House at Amsterdam." * The same thing is to be inferred from the notes of Burgomaster WITSEN, in 1705; of which there will be occasion to speak in the sequel.

[* "La carte que l'on a mise icy, tire sa premiere origine de celle que l'on a fait tailler de pieces rapportees, sur le pave de la nouvelle Maison-de-Ville d'Amsterdam." Relations de divers Voyages curieux.—Avis.]

It is necessary, however, to geographical precision, that so soon as New Holland and New South Wales were known to form one land, there should be a general name applicable to the whole; and this essential point having been ascertained in the present voyage, with a degree of certainty sufficient to authorise the measure, I have, with the concurrence of opinions entitled to deference, ventured upon the re-adoption of the original TERRA AUSTRALIS; and of this term I shall hereafter make use, when speaking of New Holland and New South Wales, in a collective sense; and when using it in the most extensive signification, the adjacent isles, including that of Van Diemen, must be understood to be comprehended.

There is no probability, that any other detached body of land, of nearly equal extent, will ever be found in a more southern latitude; the name Terra Australis will, therefore, remain descriptive of the geographical importance of this country, and of its situation on the globe: it has antiquity to recommend it; and, having no reference to either of the two claiming nations, appears to be less objectionable than any other which could have been selected.*

[* Had I permitted myself any innovation upon the original term, it would have been to convert it into AUSTRALIA; as being more agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth.]

In dividing New South Wales from New Holland, I have been guided by the British patent to the first governor of the new colony, at Port Jackson. In this patent, a meridian, nearly corresponding to the ancient line of separation, between New Holland and Terra Australis, has been made the western limit of New South Wales; and is fixed at the longitude of 135 deg. east, from the meridian of Greenwich. From hence, the British territory extends eastward, to the islands of the Pacific, or Great Ocean: its northern limit is at Cape York; and the extremity of the southern Van Diemen's Land, is its opposite boundary.

The various discoveries which had been made upon the coasts of Terra Australis, antecedently to the present voyage, are of dates as widely distant, as are the degrees of confidence to which they are respectively entitled; the accounts, also, lie scattered through various books in different languages; and many are still in manuscript. It has, therefore, been judged, that a succinct history of these discoveries would be acceptable to the public; and would form an appropriate introduction to a voyage, whose principal object was to complete what they had left unfinished. Such a history will not only, it is hoped, be found interesting, but, from the occasions it will furnish to point out what remained to be done at the beginning of the nineteenth century, will satisfy a question which may be asked: Why it should have been thought necessary to send another expedition to explore the coasts of a country, concerning which it has been said, near thirty years ago—"It is no longer a doubt, that we have now a full knowledge of the whole circumference of this vast body of land, this fifth part of the world." * An expression, which the learned writer could have intended to apply only to the general extent of the new continent, and not to the particular formation of every part of the coasts; since the chart, which accompanies the voyage of which he was writing the introduction, represents much of the south coast, as being totally unknown.

[* Cook's third Voyage, Introduction. p. xv.]

In tracing a historical sketch of the previous discoveries, I shall not dwell upon such as depend upon conjecture and probability, but come speedily to those, for which there are authentic documents. In this latter, and solely important, class, the articles extracted from voyages, which are in the hands of the public, will be abridged to their leading heads; and the reader referred, for the details, to the original works; but in such articles as have either not appeared before, or but very imperfectly, in an English dress, as also in those extracted from unpublished manuscripts, a wider range will be taken: in these, so far as the documents go, on the one hand, and the limits of an introduction can allow, on the other, no interesting fact will be omitted.

Conformably to this plan, no attempt will be made to investigate the claims of the Chinese to the earliest knowledge of Terra Australis; which some, from the chart of Marco Polo, have thought they possessed. Nor yet will much be said upon the plea advanced by the Abbe PREVOST,* and after him by the President DEBROSSES,** in favour of Paulmier de Gonneville, a French captain; for whom they claim the honour of having discovered Terra Australis, in 1504. It is evident from the proofs they adduce, that it was not to any part of this country, but to Madagascar, that Gonneville was driven; and from whence he brought his prince Essomeric, to Normandy.

[* Histoire generale des Voyages. Tome XVI. (a la Haye) p. 7-14.]

[** Histoire des Navigations aux Terres Australes. Tome I. p. 102-120.]

Within these few years, however, two curious manuscript charts have been brought to light; which have favoured an opinion, that Terra Australis had really been visited by Europeans, nearly a century before any authentic accounts speak of its discovery. One of these charts is in French, without date; and from its almost exact similitude, is probably either the original, or a copy of the other, which is in English; and bears, with the date 1542, a dedication to the KING OF ENGLAND.* In it, an extensive country is marked to the southward of the Moluccas, under the name of GREAT JAVA; which agrees nearer with the position and extent of Terra Australis, than with any other land; and the direction given to some parts of the coast, approaches too near to the truth, for the whole to have been marked from conjecture alone. But, combining this with the exaggerated extent of Great Java in a southern direction, and the animals and houses painted upon the shores, such as have not been any where seen in Terra Australis, it should appear to have been partly formed from vague information, collected, probably, by the early Portuguese navigators, from the eastern nations; and that conjecture has done the rest. It may, at the same time, be admitted, that a part of the west and north-west coasts, where the coincidence of form is most striking, might have been seen by the Portuguese themselves, before the year 1540, in their voyages to, and from, India.

[* A more particular account of these charts, now in the British Museum, will be found in Captain Burney's "History of Discoveries in the South Sea." Vol. I. p. 379-383. An opinion is there expressed concerning the early discoveries in these regions, which is entitled to respectful attention.]

But quitting those claims to original discovery, in which conjecture bears so large a share, we come to such as are supported by undeniable documents. Before entering upon these, it is proper to premise, that, instead of following precisely the order of time, these discoveries will be classed under the heads of the different coasts upon which they were made: an arrangement which will obviate the confusion that would arise from being carried back from one coast to another, as must, of necessity, be the case, were the chronological order to be strictly followed.

The discoveries made in Terra Australis, prior to the Investigator's voyage, will, therefore, be divided into four Sections, under the following heads: 1. The NORTH COAST; 2. The WESTERN COASTS; 3. The SOUTH COAST; and, 4. The EAST COAST with VAN DIEMEN'S LAND. But the articles in the fourth Section, being numerous and more extensive, will be divided into two parts: PART I. will contain the early discoveries, and such of the later, as were made independently of the British colony in New South Wales; and PART II. those which were made in vessels sent from that colony; and which may be considered as a consequence of its establishment.




Preliminary Remarks: Discoveries of the Duyfhen; of Torres; Carstens; Pool; Pietersen; Tasman; and of three Dutch vessels. Of Cook; M'Cluer; Bligh; Edwards; Bligh and Portlock; and Bampton and Alt. Conclusive Remarks.


The late Hydrographer to the Admiralty, ALEXANDER DALRYMPLE, Esq., in his curious Collection concerning PAPUA, published, with a translation, a paper which furnishes more regular and authentic accounts of the early Dutch discoveries in the East, than any thing with which the public was before acquainted. This interesting paper was procured by the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Banks; and is a copy of the instructions to commodore ABEL JANSZ TASMAN, for his second voyage of discovery: It is dated January 29, 1644, from the Castle of Batavia, and signed by the governor-general ANTONIO VAN DIEMEN, and by Vander Lyn, Maatsuyker, Schouten, and Sweers, members of the council. The instructions are prefaced with a recital, in chronological order, of the previous discoveries of the Dutch, whether made from accident or design, in NOVA GUINEA, and the Great SOUTH LAND; and from this account, combined with a passage from Saris,* it appears, that—


On the 18th of November 1605, the Dutch yacht, the Duyfhen, was dispatched from Bantam to explore the islands of New Guinea; and that she sailed along, what was thought to be, the west side of that country, to 133/4 deg. of south latitude. "This extensive country was found, for the greatest part, desert; but, in some places, inhabited by wild, cruel, black savages; by whom some of the crew were murdered. For which reason they could not learn anything of the land, or waters, as had been desired of them; and, from want of provisions and other necessaries, they were obliged to leave the discovery unfinished: The furthest point of the land, in their map, was called Cape KEER-WEER," or Turn-again.

(ATLAS, Pl. I.)

The course of the Duyfhen, from New Guinea, was southward, along the islands on the west side of Torres' Strait, to that part of Terra Australis, a little to the west and south of Cape York; but all these lands were thought to be connected, and to form the west coast of New Guinea. Thus, without being conscious of it, the commander of the Duyfhen made the first authenticated discovery of any part of the great South Land, about the month of March 1606; for it appears, that he had returned to Banda in, or before, the beginning of June, of that year.


LUIS VAES DE TORRES, a Spanish navigator, was the next person who saw Terra Australis; and it is remarkable, that it was near the same place, and in the same year; and that he had as little knowledge of the nature of his discovery, as had the Duyfhen.

Torres was second in command to Pedro Fernandez de Quiros; when he sailed with three vessels, from the port of Callao in Peru, in the year 1605. One of the purposes of their expedition was to search for the TIERRA AUSTRAL; a continent which was supposed to occupy a considerable portion of that part of the southern hemisphere lying westward of America.

After the discovery of several islands, Quiros came to a land which he named AUSTRALIA DEL ESPIRITU SANTO, supposing it to be a part of the great Southern Continent; but this, on his separation from the admiral, Torres found could be no other than an island; and then continued his course westward, in prosecution of the research.

About the month of August 1606, and in latitude 111/2 deg. south, he fell in with a coast, which he calls "the beginning of New Guinea;" and which appears to have been the south-eastern part of the land, afterwards named Louisiade, by Mons. DE BOUGAINVILLE, and now known to be a chain of islands. Unable to pass to windward of this land, Torres bore away along its south side; and gives, himself, the following account of his subsequent proceedings.

"We went along 300 leagues of coast, as I have mentioned, and diminished the latitude 21/2 deg., which brought us into 9 deg.. From hence we fell in with a bank of from 3 to 9 fathoms, which extends along the coast above 180 leagues. We went over it along the coast to 71/2 S. latitude, and the end of it is in 5 deg.. We could not go further on for the many shoals and great currents, so we were obliged to sail S. W. in that depth to 11 deg.. S. latitude. There is all over it an archipelago of islands without number, by which we passed, and at the end of the 11th degree, the bank became shoaler. Here were very large islands, and there appeared more to the southward: they were inhabited by black people, very corpulent, and naked: their arms were lances, arrows, and clubs of stone ill fashioned. We could not get any of their arms. We caught in all this land 20 persons of different nations, that with them we might be able to give a better account to Your Majesty. They give much notice of other people, although as yet they do not make themselves well understood.

"We were upon this bank two months, at the end of which time we found ourselves in 25 fathoms, and in 5 deg. S. latitude, and 10 leagues from the coast. And having gone 480 leagues, here the coast goes to the N. E. I did not reach it, for the bank became very shallow. So we stood to the north." *

[* See the letter of Torres, dated Manila, July 12, 1607, in Vol. II. Appendix, No I. to Burney's "History of Discoveries in the South Sea;" from which interesting work this sketch of Torres' voyage is extracted.]

It cannot be doubted, that the "very large islands" seen by Torres, at the 11th degree of south latitude, were the hills of Cape York; or that his two months of intricate navigation were employed in passing the strait which divides Terra Australis and New Guinea. But the account of this and other discoveries, which Torres himself addressed to the King of Spain, was so kept from the world, that the existence of such a strait was generally unknown, until 1770; when it was again discovered and passed by our great circumnavigator Captain Cook.

Torres, it should appear, took the precaution to lodge a copy of his letter in the archives of Manila; for, after that city was taken by the British forces, in 1762, Mr. Dalrymple found out, and drew from oblivion, this interesting document of early discovery; and, as a tribute due to the enterprising Spanish navigator, he named the passage TORRES' STRAIT; and the appellation now generally prevails.

ZEACHEN. 1618.

ZEACHEN is said to have discovered the land of Arnhem and the northern Van Diemen's Land, in 1618; and he is supposed, from the first name, to have been a native of Arnhem, in Holland; and that the second was given in honour of the governor-general of the Indies.* But there are two important objections to the truth of this vague account: first, no mention is made of Zeachen in the recital of discoveries which preface the instructions to Tasman; nor is there any, of the North Coast having been visited by the Dutch, in that year: secondly, it appears from Valentyn's lives of the governors of Batavia, that Van Diemen was not governor-general until January 1, 1636.

[* Hist. des Navigations aux Terres Aust. Tome 1. p. 432.]


The second expedition, mentioned in the Dutch recital, for the discovery of the Great South Land, "was undertaken in a yacht, in the year 1617, with little success;" and the journals and remarks were not to be found. In January 1623, the yachts Pera and Arnhem, under the command of JAN CARSTENS, were despatched from Amboina, by order of His Excellency Jan Pieterz Coen. Carstens, with eight of the Arnhem's crew, was treacherously murdered by the natives of New Guinea; but the vessels prosecuted the voyage, and discovered "the great islands ARNHEM and the SPULT." * They were then "untimely separated," and the Arnhem returned to Amboina. The Pera persisted; and "sailed along the south coast of New Guinea, to a flat cove, situate in 10 deg. south latitude; and ran along the West Coast of this land to Cape Keer-Weer; from thence discovered the coast further southward, as far as 17 deg., to STATEN RIVER. From this place, what more of the land could be discerned, seemed to stretch westward:" the Pera then returned to Amboina. "In this discovery were found, every where, shallow water and barren coasts; islands altogether thinly peopled by divers cruel, poor, and brutal nations; and of very little use to the (Dutch East-India) Company."

[* In the old charts, a river Spult is marked, in the western part of Arnhem's Land; and it seems probable, that the land in its vicinity is here meant by THE SPULT.]


GERRIT TOMAZ POOL was sent, in April 1636, from Banda, with the yachts Klyn Amsterdam and Wezel, upon the same expedition as Carstens; and, at the same place, on the coast of New Guinea, he met with the same fate. Nevertheless "the voyage was assiduously continued under the charge of the supra-cargo Pieterz Pietersen; and the islands Key and Arouw visited. By reason of very strong eastwardly winds, they could not reach the west coast of New Guinea (Carpentaria); but shaping their course very near south, discovered the coast of Arnhem, or Van Diemen's Land, in 11 deg. south latitude; and sailed along the shore for 120 miles (30 mijlen), without seeing any people, but many signs of smoke."

TASMAN. 1644.

This is all that appears to have been known of the North Coast, when ABEL JANSZ TASMAN sailed upon his second voyage, in 1644; for the instructions to him say, that after quitting "Point Ture, or False Cape, situate in 8 deg. on the south coast of New Guinea, you are to continue eastward, along the coast, to 9 deg. south latitude; crossing prudently the Cove at that place. Looking about the high islands or Speult's River, with the yachts, for a harbour; despatching the tender De Braak, for two or three days into the Cove, in order to discover whether, within the GREAT INLET, there be not to be found an entrance into the South Sea.* From this place you are to coast along the west coast of New Guinea. (Carpentaria,) to the furthest discoveries in 17 deg. south latitude; following the coast further, as it may run, west or southward."

[* The Great Inlet or Cove, where the passage was to be sought, is the north-west part of Torres' Strait. It is evident, that a suspicion was entertained, in 1644, of such a strait; but that the Dutch were ignorant of its having been passed. The "high islands" are those which lie in latitude 10 deg., on the west side of the strait. Speult's River appears to be the opening betwixt the Prince of Wales' Islands and Cape York; through which captain Cook afterwards passed, and named it Endeavour's Strait. This Speult's River cannot, I conceive, be the same with what was before mentioned under the name of THE SPULT.]

"But it is to be feared you will meet, in these parts, with the south-east trade winds; from which it will be difficult to keep the coast on board, if stretching to the south-east; but, notwithstanding this, endeavour by all means to proceed; that we may be sure whether this land is divided from the Great Known SOUTH CONTINENT, or not."

The Dutch had, by this time, acquired some knowledge of a part of the south coast of Terra Australis; of the west coast; and of a part of the north-west; and these are the lands meant by "the Great Known South Continent." Arnhem's, and the northern Van Diemen's Lands, on the North Coast, are not included in the expression; for Tasman was directed "from De Witt's Land (on the North-west Coast,) to run across, very near eastward, to complete the discovery of Arnhem's and Van Diemen's Lands; and to ascertain perfectly, whether these lands are not one and the same island."

It is a great obstacle to tracing correctly the progress of early discovery in Terra Australis, that no account of this voyage of Tasman has ever been published; nor is any such known to exist. But it seems to have been the general opinion, that he sailed round the Gulph of Carpentaria; and then westward, along Arnhem's and the northern Van Diemen's Lands; and the form of these coasts in Thevenot's chart of 1663, and in those of most succeeding geographers, even up to the end of the eighteenth century, is supposed to have resulted from this voyage. The opinion is strengthened by finding the names of Tasman, and of the governor-general and two of the council, who signed his instructions, applied to places at the head of the Gulph; as is also that of Maria, the daughter of the governor, to whom our navigator is said to have been attached. In the notes, also, of Burgomaster Witsen, concerning the inhabitants of NOVA GUINEA and HOLLANDIA NOVA, as extracted by Mr. Dalrymple; Tasman is mentioned amongst those, from whom his information was drawn.


The President De Brosses* gives, from the miscellaneous tracts of Nicolas Struyck, printed at Amsterdam, 1753, the following account of another, and last voyage of the Dutch, for the discovery of the North Coast.

[* Hist. des Nav. aux Terres Aust. Tome I. page 439.]

"March 1, 1705, three Dutch vessels were sent from Timor, with order to explore the north coast of New Holland, better than it had before been done. They carefully examined the coasts, sand banks, and reefs. In their route to it, they did not meet with any land, but only some rocks above water, in 11 deg. 52' south latitude:" (probably the south part of the great Sahul Bank; which, according to captain Peter Heywood, who saw it in 180l, lies in 11 deg. 40'.) "They saw the west coast of New Holland 4 deg. to the eastward of the east point of Timor. From thence they continued their route towards the north; and passed a point, off which lies a bank of sand above water, in length more than five German miles of fifteen to a degree. After which, they made sail to the east, along the coast of New Holland; observing every thing with care, until they came to a gulph, the head of which they did not quite reach. I (Struyck) have seen a chart made of these parts."

What is here called the West, must have been the North-west Coast; which the vessels appear to have made somewhat to the south of the western Cape Van Diemen. The point which they passed, was probably this same Cape itself; and in a chart, published by Mr. Dalrymple, Aug. 27, 1783, from a Dutch manuscript (possibly a copy of that which Struyck had seen), a shoal, of thirty geographic miles in length, is marked as running off, from it; but incorrectly, according to Mr. Mc. Cluer. The gulph here mentioned, was probably a deep bay in Arnhem's Land; for had it been the Gulph of Carpentaria, some particular mention of the great change in the direction of the coast, would, doubtless, have been made.

From this imperfect account of the voyage of these three vessels, very little satisfactory information is obtained; and this, with some few exceptions, is the case with all the accounts of the early Dutch discoveries; and has usually been attributed to the monopolizing spirit of their East-India Company, which induced it to keep secret, or to destroy, the journals.

COOK. 1770.

The north coast of Terra Australis does not appear to have been seen by any succeeding navigator, until the year 1770; when our celebrated captain JAMES COOK passed through Endeavour's Strait, between Cape York and the Prince of Wales' Islands; and besides clearing up the doubt which, till then, existed, of the actual separation of Terra Australis from New Guinea, his more accurate observations enabled geographers to assign something like a true place to the former discoveries of the Dutch, in these parts. Captain Cook did not land upon the main; but, at Possession Island, he saw ten natives: "Nine of them were armed with such lances as we had been accustomed to see, and the tenth had a bow, and a bundle of arrows, which we had never seen in the possession of the natives of this country before." *

[* Hawkesworth's Voyages, Vol. III. page 211.]

Mc. CLUER. 1791.

At the end of the year 1791, lieutenant JOHN Mc. CLUER of the Bombay marine, in returning from the examination of the west side of New Guinea, made the Land of Arnhem, in longitude 1351/4 deg., east of Greenwich. He then sailed westward, along the shore, to 129 deg. 55'; when the coast was found to take a southern direction. The point of turning is placed in 11 deg. 15' south latitude; and is, doubtless, the Cape Van Diemen of the old charts, and the west extremity of the north coast of Terra Australis.

It does not appear that any other account has been given of this navigation, than the chart published by Mr. Dalrymple, in 1792. According to it, though lieutenant Mc. Cluer constantly had soundings, in from 7 to 40 fathoms; yet he was generally at such a distance from the land, that it was not often seen; and, consequently, he was unable to identify the particular points. No landing seems to have been effected upon the main; but some service was rendered to navigation, by ascertaining the positions of several small islands, shoals, and projecting parts of the coast; and in conferring a certain degree of authenticity upon the discoveries of the early Dutch navigators.

Lieutenant Mc. Cluer is the last person, who can strictly be said to have added to our knowledge of the north coast of Terra Australis, previously to the time in which the voyage of the Investigator was planned; but several navigators had followed captain Cook through Torres' Strait, and by considerably different routes: these it will be proper to notice; as their discoveries are intimately connected with the present subject.

BLIGH. 1789.

After the mutineers of the Bounty had forced their commander, lieutenant (now rear-admiral) WILLIAM BLIGH, to embark in the launch, near the island Tofoa; he steered for Coepang, a Dutch settlement, at the south-west end of Timor. In the way, he made the east coast of New South Wales, in about 121/2 deg. of South latitude; and, sailing northward, passed round Cape York and the Prince of Wales' Islands.

It was not to be supposed, that captain Bligh, under the circumstances of extreme distress, of fatigue, and difficulty of every kind, could do much for navigation and geography; yet, he took views and made such observations and notes, as enabled him to construct a chart of his track, and of the lands and reefs seen from the launch. And as captain Bligh passed to the north of the Prince of Wales' Islands, whereas captain Cook had passed to the south, his interesting narrative, with the accompanying chart, made an useful addition to what little was yet known of Torres'Strait.*

[* Bligh's "Voyage to the South Seas in H. M. Ship Bounty," page 218-221.]

EDWARDS. 1791.

CAPTAIN (now admiral) EDWARD EDWARDS of HIS Majesty's frigate Pandora, on his return from the island Taheity,* made the reefs of Torres' Strait, on Aug. 25; in about the latitude 10 deg. south, and two degrees of longitude to the east of Cape York. Steering from thence westward, he fell in with three islands, rather high, which he named MURRAY'S; lying in latitude 9 deg. 57' south, and longitude 143 deg. 42' east;** and some canoes, with two masts, were seen running within side of the reef which lay between the islands and the ship. This reef was of considerable extent; and, during the whole of August 26, captain Edwards ran along it to the southward, without finding any passage through. On the 27th, the search was continued, without success; but on the 28th, a boat was despatched to examine an opening in the reef; and the ship stood off and on, waiting the result. At five in the evening, the boat made a signal for a passage being found; but fearing to venture through, so near sunset, without more particular information, captain Edwards called the boat on board. In the mean time, a current, or tide, set the Pandora upon the reef; and, after beating there till ten o'clock, she went over it into deep water; and sunk in 15 fathoms, at daylight of the 29th.

[* Commonly written Otaheite; but the 0 is either an article or a preposition, and forms no part of the name: Bougainville writes it Taiti.]

[** In Plates I. and XIII. Murray's Islands are laid down according to their situations afterwards ascertained in the Investigator; and the reefs, seen by the Pandora, are placed in their relative positions to those islands.]

A dry sand bank was perceived within the opening, at the distance of four miles; and thither the boats repaired with the remaining officers and people; thirty-nine men having lost their lives in this melancholy disaster. This opening was ascertained to lie in latitude 11 deg. 24' and longitude 143 deg. 38'; and is represented as very practicable for ships.

Not being able to save any thing from the wreck, captain Edwards, almost destitute of provisions and water, set sail on Aug. 30, with his squadron of four boats; and steered for the north-east part of Terra Australis. No reefs, or other dangers, appear to have been encountered in the way to the coast; but in the course northward, along it, some islands and reefs were seen. From one part of the coast, two canoes with three black men in each, paddled hard after the boats; but though they waved and made many signs, it was not thought prudent to wait for them. At one of the York Isles, the natives, for some trifling presents, filled a keg of water for captain Edwards; but refused to bring down any more; and, soon afterward, they let fly a shower of arrows amongst the unfortunate sufferers. Happily no person was wounded; and the aggressors were put to flight, by a volley of musketry.

At the Prince of Wales' Islands, good water was found; and much alleviated the distress of captain Edwards and his people. They heard here the howling of wolves, (probably of wild dogs,) and "discovered a morai, or rather heap of bones. There were amongst them two human skulls, the bones of some large animals, and some turtle bones. They were heaped together in the form of a grave; and a long paddle, supported at each end by a bifurcated branch of a tree, was laid horizontally along it. Near to this, there were marks of a fire having been recently made; and the ground about was much footed and worn." *

[* See "A Voyage round the World in H. M. frigate Pandora," by George Hamilton, Surgeon; page 123, et seq.]

A few small oysters, a harsh austere fruit, resembling a plum, and a small berry of a similar taste to the plum, were all that could be found for food.

"There is a large sound formed here, to which," says Mr. Hamilton, "we gave the name of Sandwich's Sound; and commodious anchorage for shipping in the bay, to which we gave the name of Woy's Bay, in which there is from five to seven fathoms all round. Near the centre of the sound is a small, dark-coloured, rocky island."

Sept. 2. In the afternoon, captain Edwards passed out to the northward, with his little squadron, from amongst the Prince of Wales' Islands; and the same evening, by steering westward, cleared all the islands and reefs of Torres' Strait: on the 14th he reached Timor.

The track and discoveries of the Pandora, in Plate XIII. are taken from a chart published in 1798, by Mr. Dalrymple, upon the authority of one constructed by lieutenant Hayward; but it does not contain the track of the boats after the loss of the Pandora. This chart, and the account given by Mr. Hamilton, which, though more than sufficiently explicit upon some points, is very defective in what concerns navigation and geography; are all that appears to have been published of this voyage.


Neither the great extent of the reefs, to the eastward of Cape York, nor the loss of the Pandora, were known in 1792; when captain WILLIAm BLIGH came a second time to Torres' Strait, with His Majesty's ship Providence, and the brig Assistant commanded by lieutenant (now captain) NATHANIEL PORTLOCK. The objects of his mission were, to transport the bread-fruit plant from Taheity to the West Indies; and, in his way, to explore a new passage through the Strait; in both of which he was successful.

A chart of the discoveries made in Torres' Strait, was lodged, by captain Bligh, in the Admiralty Office; and is incorporated with other authorities, in Plate XIII. of the accompanying Atlas. No account of this voyage having yet been published; it is conceived, that the following brief relation of the passage through the strait, will be acceptable to the nautical reader; and, having had the honour to serve in the expedition, I am enabled to give it from my own journal, with the sanction of captain Bligh.

Aug. 31. Latitude at noon 9 deg. 25' south; longitude from fifteen sets of distances of the sun west, and star east, of the moon, taken on the 24th, 25th, and 26th, preceding, 145 deg. 22' and by time keepers, 145 deg. 23' east. No land seen since passing Louisiade the preceding day; but many birds and fish, and much rock weed. At dusk, having steered W. 1/4 S. 27 miles, breakers were seen ahead, at the distance of two miles; and the vessels hauled to the wind: no bottom at 94 fathoms.

Sept. 1. They bore away W. by S.; but hauled up gradually to South, on account of the breakers; and not being able to weather them, tacked to the N. E. At noon, latitude 9 deg. 37' south, longitude by time keepers, 144 deg. 59' east:* part of the reef, which was named after captain Portlock, seen in the N. N. W. from the mast head. At four o'clock, the vessels edged away round the north end of Portlock's Reef, which, at dusk, bore South, about two leagues; and the wind was then hauled for the night.

[* In Plate XIII. some small alterations are made in the longitudes given by captain Bligh's time keepers, to make them correspond with the corrected longitudes of the Investigator and Cumberland.]

Sept. 2. The breakers bore South, four or five miles; and captain Bligh steered westward: the Assistant leading. At noon, the latitude being 9 deg. 26', longitude, by time keepers, 144 deg. 23', other breakers were seen ahead, and the vessels hauled the wind to the southward; but finding another reef in that direction, with a dry bank upon it, they tacked to the N. E. at half past one; and got ground, for the first time, in 64 fathoms, coral bottom. During the following night, they stood off and on, constantly getting soundings.

No breakers were in sight in the morning of Sept. 3. At seven, a boat was sent ahead; and the vessels bore away after her to the N. W., in order to try the New-Guinea side of the Strait. At noon, their course was interrupted by a reef, which was named Bonds Reef, extending from W. N. W. to North, and distant four or five miles: observed latitude 9 deg. 6', longitude 144 deg. 13'. The north side of the Strait being judged impracticable, the wind was again hauled to the southward; and, at dusk, the vessels anchored in 37 fathoms, fine grey sand; five or six miles north of a reef, upon which was a dry bank, called Anchor Key. An island of considerable height, bearing S. W. by W. ten leagues, was then seen from the mast head: Captain Bligh gave it the name of Darnley's Island; and to the space between Portlock's and Bond's Reefs, by which the vessels had entered the Strait, that of Bligh's Entrance.

Sept. 4. A boat was sent to the S. S. W., and the vessels followed. Other high lands (Murray's Isles) were seen to the southward; and a reef with a sand bank on it, to the west. At noon, the latitude was 9 deg. 32' south, and longitude 143 deg. 59' east: Darnley's Island bore S. 74 deg. to 82 deg. W., four leagues; and the largest of Murray's Isles, S. 13 deg. to 21 deg. E.: the western reef was about three miles distant, but nothing was visible ahead in the S. by W. At four o'clock, the vessels anchored in 21 fathoms, sandy bottom; with Darnley's Island bearing N. 60 deg. W., three leagues. Betwixt a sand-bank, called Canoe Key, which bore S. 60 deg. W., two leagues, and a reef lying in the W. by S., there appeared to be a passage, which the boats were sent to examine.

On the 5th, boats were again sent to sound the passage. Several large sailing canoes were seen; and the cutter making the signal for assistance, the pinnace was sent to her, well manned and armed. On the return of the boats in the afternoon, it appeared, that, of four canoes which used their efforts to get up to the cutter, one succeeded. There were in it fifteen Indians, black, and quite naked; and they made signs which were interpreted to be amicable. These signs the officer imitated; but not thinking it prudent to go so near as to take a green cocoa-nut, which was held up to him, he continued rowing for the ship. A man, who was sitting upon the shed erected in the centre of the canoe, then said something to those below; and immediately they began to string their bows. Two of them had already fitted arrows, when the officer judged it necessary to fire in his own defence. Six muskets were discharged; and the Indians fell flat into the bottom of the canoe, all except the man on the shed: the seventh musket was fired at him, and he fell also. During this time, the canoe dropped astern; and the three others having joined her, they all gave chase to the cutter, trying to cut her off from the ship; in which they would probably have succeeded, had not the pinnace arrived, at that juncture, to her assistance. The Indians then hoisted their sails, and steered for Darnley's Island.

No boats could have been manoeuvred better, in working to windward, than were these long canoes by the naked savages. Had the four been able to reach the cutter, it is difficult to say, whether the superiority of our arms would have been equal to the great difference of numbers; considering the ferocity of these people, and the skill with which they seemed to manage their weapons.

September 6. Two boats were sent ahead; and the vessels followed them, between Canoe Key and the reef lying from it half a mile to the north. After running twelve miles beyond this narrow pass, they anchored in 13 fathoms; the latitude being 9 deg. 37', and longitude 143 deg. 41'. In the afternoon, they proceeded five miles further, to the N. N. W.; and Darnley's Island then bore S. 74 deg. to 55 deg. E. two leagues: except on the north side, this island appeared to be surrounded with reefs and sand banks to a considerable distance. In sailing from Canoe Key, the vessels had left, on the larbord hand, a long chain of reefs and banks; at the north-west end of which, were three low, woody islands: the nearest of these, bearing S. 41 deg. W. two or three miles from the anchorage, was named Nepean Island. The view to the northward, from W. by N. to E. by S., was free from dangers; but in every other direction there were reefs, islands, or dry banks.

This day, several canoes from Darnley's Island came off to both vessels. On approaching, the Indians clapped upon their heads, and exclaimed Whou! Whou! Whoo! repeatedly, with much vehemence; at the same time, they held out arrows and other weapons, and asked for toore-tooree! by which they meant iron.* After much difficulty, they were persuaded to come along-side; and two men ventured into the ship. They had bushy hair—were rather stout made—and nearly answered the description given of the natives of New Guinea.** The cartilage, between the nostrils, was cut away in both these people; and the lobes of their ears slit, and stretched to a great length, as had before been observed in a native of the Fejee Islands. They had no kind of clothing; but wore necklaces of cowrie shells, fastened to a braid of fibres; and some of their companions had pearl-oyster shells hung round their necks. In speaking to each other, their words seemed to be distinctly pronounced.

[* The name for iron at Taheity, is eure-euree, or ooree, orj, according to Bougainville, aouri.]

[** See a Voyage to New Guinea, by Captain Thomas Forrest.]

Their arms were bows, arrows, and clubs, which they bartered for every kind of iron work with eagerness; but appeared to set little value on any thing else. The bows are made of split bamboo; and so strong, that no man in the ship could bend one of them. The string is a broad slip of cane, fixed to one end of the bow; and fitted with a noose, to go over the other end, when strung. The arrow is a cane of about four feet long, into which a pointed piece of the hard, heavy, casuarina wood, is firmly and neatly fitted; and some of them were barbed. Their clubs are made of the casuarina, and are powerful weapons. The hand part is indented, and has a small knob, by which the firmness of the grasp is much assisted; and the heavy end is usually carved with some device: One had the form of a parrot's head, with a ruff round the neck; and was not ill done.

Their canoes are about fifty feet in length, and appear to have been hollowed out of a single tree; but the pieces which form the gunwales, are planks sewed on with the fibres of the cocoa nut, and secured with pegs. These vessels are low, forward, but rise abaft; and, being narrow, are fitted with an outrigger on each side, to keep them steady. A raft, of greater breadth than the canoe, extends over about half the length; and upon this is fixed a shed or hut, thatched with palm leaves. These people, in short, appeared to be dextrous sailors and formidable warriors; and to be as much at ease in the water, as in their canoes.

Sept. 7. The boats having found deep water round the north end of the three low islands, the vessels followed them; but anchored again, soon after noon, in latitude 9 deg. 31', and longitude 143 deg. 31'; being sheltered by the two western islands, named Stephens' and Campbell's, and the reefs which surround them. There were then no less than eight islands in sight, at different distances; though none further to the westward than W. S. W. All these, except Darnley's Island, first seen, were small, low, and sandy; but generally well covered with wood in the central parts.

On the 8th, the vessels steered westward, with the usual precautions. No land, or other obstruction, had been seen in that quarter; but, at ten o'clock, they were forced to haul the wind to the southward, their course being impeded by reefs; upon one of which, was Pearce's sandy Key. At noon, they had anchored in 15 fathoms, under the lee of Dalrymple's Island, the westernmost before seen; but two other islands were then visible in the S. by W.; and reefs extended from N.4 deg., to S. 55 deg. W., at the distance of three or four miles. The latitude here was 9 deg. 37'; and longitude, from six sets of distances of the sun and moon, 143 deg. 31'; but, by the time-keepers, 143 deg. 15' east.

Several canoes were lying upon the shore of Dalrymple's Island; but no natives could he distinguished from the ships. When the boats returned, however, from sounding, in the afternoon, they came out upon the beach; waving green branches and clapping upon their heads, in token of friendship. Boats were afterwards sent to them, and were amicably received; the natives running into the water to meet them, and some getting into one of the boats. They eagerly asked for toore-tooree; and gave in exchange some ornaments of shells, and a kind of plum somewhat resembling a jambo. When the boats pushed off from the shore, the natives followed into the water, and appeared anxious to detain them; but offered no violence. A moderately-sized dog, of a brown, chestnut colour, was observed amongst the party.

Sept. 9. The vessels steered after the boats, between the cluster of islands to the southward, and an extensive reef to the west; with soundings from 15 to 10 fathoms. At noon, the latitude was 9 deg. 48', longitude by timekeepers 143 deg. 6'; and two other islands came in sight to the westward. Before two o'clock, an extensive reef, partly dry, to which the name of Dungeness was given, made it necessary to heave to, until the boats had time to sound; after which, captain Bligh bore away along the north side of the reef, and anchored a mile from it, in 17 fathoms, hard bottom. In this situation, Dungeness Island, which is low and very woody, bore N. 64 deg. to 87 deg. W. three miles; and a small sandy isle, named Warriours Island, N. 6 deg. to 1 deg. W. four miles: this last appeared to stand upon the great western reef, and was surrounded with dry sands. Besides these, there were other low isles, called the Six Sisters, in sight, to the south-east; and a long, flat island, bearing S. 33 deg. to 46 deg. W. over the dry Dungeness Reef; in the west, also, there were islands visible, at a greater distance, and much higher, than the others. The Strait, instead of becoming clearer, seemed to be more and more embarrassed with dangers, as the vessels proceeded westward. The latitude of this anchorage was 9 deg. 501/2' south, and the longitude 142 deg. 55' east.

Sept. 10. The boats sounded the channel to the north-west, between Dungeness and Warriours Islands; and finding sufficient water, the vessels got under way, at noon, to follow them. There were many natives collected upon the shore of Dungeness Island, and several canoes from Warriours Island were about the brig. Presently, captain Portlock made the signal for assistance; and there was a discharge of musketry and some guns, from his vessel and from the boats. Canoes were also coming towards the Providence; and when a musket was fired at the headmost, the natives set up a great shout, and paddled forward in a body; nor was musketry sufficient to make them desist. The second great gun, loaded with round and grape, was directed at the foremost of eight canoes, full of men; and the round shot, after raking the whole length, struck the high stem. The Indians leaped out, and swam towards their companions; plunging constantly, to avoid the musket balls which showered thickly about them. The squadron then made off, as fast as the people could paddle without showing themselves; but afterwards rallied at a greater distance, until a shot, which passed over their heads, made them disperse, and give up all idea of any further attack.

In passing the deserted canoe, one native was observed still sitting in it. The other canoes afterwards returned to him; and, with glasses, signals were perceived to be made by the Indians, to their friends on Dungeness Island, expressive, as was thought, of grief and consternation.

No arrows fell on board the Providence; but three men were wounded in the Assistant, and one of them afterwards died: The depth to which the arrows penetrated into the decks and sides of the brig, was represented to be truly astonishing.

The vessels passed between Dungeness and Warriours Islands, with from 19 to 13 fathoms; and anchored, at four o'clock, under the lee of Dungeness Island and Reef. The passage to the westward then appeared clearer; three high islands, bearing from S. 60 deg. W. three leagues, to N. 76 deg. W. five leagues, forming the sole visible obstructions.

Sept. 11. Captain Bligh proceeded on his course to the W. N. W., and passed two islands, to which the descriptive names of Turtle-backed Island and the Cap were given; and, soon after noon, the vessels anchored in 7 fathoms, soft bottom. There was a dry sand bearing N. 63 deg. W. two or three miles; between which, and the third high island, called The Brothers, bearing S. 55 deg. to 69 deg. W. three miles, it was judged necessary for the boats to sound, before proceeding further. This anchorage was in latitude 9 deg. 43', and longitude 142 deg. 40'; and, besides the islands already mentioned, there was in sight a mountainous island, to which the name of Banks was given, bearing S. 43 deg. W., twelve or thirteen leagues; also Burke's Island, S. 13 deg. W. eight or ten leagues; and Mount Cornwallis, on another island, N. 29 deg. W. six or eight leagues; and from behind this last, to N. 7 deg. W., there extended a level land, which was supposed to be a part of the coast of NEW GUINEA.

Sept. 12. The vessels followed the boats to the westward; but were interrupted by reefs, and obliged to anchor again before noon. The water had shoaled gradually, and there was then only 6 fathoms: the bottom a coarse, coral sand. Two other islands were then in sight: a low one, named Turn-again Island, bore N. 53 deg. W. about four leagues; and Jervis' Island, which is rather high, S. 48 deg. W. nine leagues. A reef, with a dry sand upon it, extended from S. 7 deg. E. to 62 deg. W. four or five miles; another was distant three miles to the west; and a third bore N. 18 deg. W. five miles. The latitude of the anchorage was 9 deg. 41' south, and longitude 142 deg. 24' east.

A fresh gale from south-east did not allow the Providence and Assistant to proceed onward for three days. In the mean time, the passage between the reefs to the N. W., was sounded by the boats; and found to contain about 5 fathoms, regularly, upon hard ground. They were also sent to examine the passage round the southern reefs; and this being deeper, with a superior bottom, it was chosen as the preferable route.

Sept. 16. The vessels passed to windward of the southern reef; and steered south-westward, as it trended, in from 7 to 5 fathoms water, until half past noon; when they anchored in latitude 10 deg. 3', and longitude, by time-keeper, 142 deg. 14'. The sole direction in which the eye could range without being obstructed, was that whence the vessels had come; every where else the view was arrested by rocks, banks, and islands. The most extensive of these, was Banks' Island, extending from S. 14 deg. E. to 62 deg. W., two or three leagues; with a high hill upon it named Mount Augustus, which bore S. 4 deg. E:* Another large island, named Mulgrave's, extended from behind the last to a cluster of rocks, whose extreme bore W. 5 deg. N. The nearest land, bearing S. 24 deg. E., one mile and a half, was the north-westernmost of three small isles; and to this, the second lieutenant was sent, for the purpose of taking possession of all the islands seen in the Strait, for HIS BRITANNIC MAJESTY GEORGE III., with the ceremonies used on such occasions: the name bestowed upon the whole was CLARENCE'S ARCHIPELAGO.

[* This mountain, in latitude 10 deg. 12' south, longitude 142 deg. 13' east, was seen by captain Bligh from the Bounty's launch, and marked in his chart, (Voyage, etc. p. 220.) It appears to be the same island indistinctly laid down by captain Cook, in latitude 10 deg. 10', longitude 141 deg. 14'; and is, also, one of those, to which the term Hoge Landt is applied in Thevenot's chart of 1663.]

North Possession Island was found to be little else than a mass of rocks surrounded by a reef; but it was covered with a variety of trees and shrubs. Amongst them was a cluster of cocoa-nut trees, bearing a small, but delicious, fruit; and the tree bearing a plum, such as had been seen at Dalrymple's Island. Besides these, the botanists found the peeha and nono of Taheity; and two new plants, of the size of the common mulberry. One, of the class polyadelphia, bears a scarlet, bell-shaped flower, large as the China rose; the other was a species of erythrina, bearing clusters of butterfly-shaped flowers, of a light yellow, tinged with purple: both were entirely destitute of leaves, and their woods remarkably brittle.

There did not appear to be any fixed inhabitants upon Possession Island; but from a fire which had been recently extinguished, and the shells and bones of turtle scattered around, it was supposed to have been visited not many days before. The bushes were full of small, green ants; which proved exceedingly troublesome to those who had sufficient hardihood to penetrate their retreats. Another, and larger species of ant, was black; and made its nest by bending and fixing together the leaves, in a round form, so as to be impenetrable to the wet. These, and a small kind of lizard, were all the animals found upon the island.

Sept. 17. The boats led to the westward, steering for a passage between Mulgrave's and Jervis' Islands; but seeing it full of rocks and shoals, the vessels anchored a little within the entrance, in 10 fathoms, coarse ground; until the boats should sound ahead. The latitude here was 10 deg. 2', and longitude 142 deg. 03'. The flood tide, from the E. N. E., was found to set through between the islands, at the rate of four miles an hour; and the breeze being fresh, and bottom bad, the situation was considered to be very unsafe.

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