February 1791

February.6th. 1791. At daylight a Sail was discover'd to the SW which proved to be the Supply from Port Jacksonview facsimile

at which place she had been 3 months before Governor Phillip thought proper to send her for that information so necessary for him, it was now 11 months since our misfortunes had brought us to a miserable & uncertain state & altho' there were Ships that could have returned after releiving the Island in August last, time enough to have saved the Season to China, it was not thought necessary to remove the Sirius's Ships Company, or to have any return from the Island altho' the last accounts of us were that not a Cask of Provision was at that time saved from the wreck but that some had been lost in making the attempt. The Supply made a tolerable passage to Batavia, discover'd a shoal off the Coast of New South Wales No. end of it in Latitude 21°:24'so. Longitude 159°:24′Et.& passed to the No.ward of it; They made the East part of that Land named by Mr Shortland New Georgia & pass'd along the East Coast of it till Squally Weather obliged them to leave it steer to the No.ward; They arrived at Batavia the of July soon after which Mr. King sailed in a Dutch Packet with dispatches for England. Lieut. Ball took on board as much Provisions as the Supply could store & hired a Dutch Snow which was also loaded & sailed soon after the Supply from Batavia, She arrived safe, was clear'd & ready to sail when the Supply left Port Jackson: The Season while the Supply was at Batavia view facsimile

was very unhealthy, several of her People died there; & Lt. Fowell who was sent to conduct the third Vessel to Port Jackson died on board the Supply soon after she sailed, He having been taken on board her as the only chance of saving his life when the Fever attack'd him, One of the Midshipmen was left in his stead; The whole of the Crew belonging to the Dutch Vessel also died & left only the Commander who had to get Hands to man his Vessel a second time. They brought some account of a War between Great Britain & Spain but by no means circumstantial or, from good Authority.

Saturday.12th: PM. Captain Hunter with the Officers & Crew of the Sirius embarked on board the Supply & sail'd immediately for Port Jackson, where we arrived the 26th

Directions &c. for Ships going to Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island is situated in 29° :03′ So.Latd. & 168° :02′ Et.Longde. is 5 miles in Length Et. & Wt. & about 3 No. & So.. Three miles to the So.ward of Norfolk Island is Phillip Isd, about a Mile & 1/4 in length & 1/2 Mile in breadth, there is a high Sugarloaf Peak runs up from the So. side of it which may be seen as far as the highest part of Norfolk Island, between there is a smaller Island called Nepean Island about 1/2 mile from the Et. point of Sydney Bay, which is situated on the So. side of Norfolk Island & where the Settlement was made in March 1788; This Bay is shelter'd somewhat by Nepean & Phillip Islands from the Et. & view facsimile

SE winds, but the ground is very bad for Anchoring, that which is clear of Rocks being loose sand & Coral that a Ship would find it difficult to Ride in a fresh breeze of Wind; There is a Reef of Clay & Coral extends along the Bay which dries from 1/2 ebb to 1/2 flood, the outer part more than half a Cable's length from the shore, through this Reef just to the Wt.ward of the Flagstaff are is the channel leading to the landing places which is nothing but a Gully through between the end of this Reef which dries all the way from the Et point of Sydney the Bay & Rocks just below the surface to the westward of it, round this point of the Reef one passage runs in through the Coral Reef in an angle to the Flagstaff & is the safest channel being shelter'd by the Pt. of the Reef when round it & those stones which had hitherto render'd it dangerous for Boats at low water being removed; The other channel is straight in from the end of the Reef, through broken parts of the Coral Reef to the Wt.ward of the Flagstaff & in the narrowest part is not room for a 6 sand Cutters Oars, which together with its being exposed to a second Surf after having passed the end of the Reef makes it very dangerous & it was much more so before a middle Rock (which Boats could not pass over at low water) was removed by the Sirius's People at the same time they clear'd the other Channel; There is always an Outset in both Passages & sometimes so strong that I have seen a Boat with 6 Oars several minutes without being able to get ahead, It is generally strongest just as the view facsimile

Reef begins to be cover'd, or when the Surf is high & beats over the Et.ern part of it, there being a large space of water between the Flagstaff & that) Et. pt. within the Reef, which forces itself at these times over that part of the Reef that dries to the Flagstaff & forms a passage to the landing place through which it runs out like a sluice; From the knowledge have of this circumstance, I think it but common Justice to the memory of Mr. Cunningham who was drowned in this passage to declare that the reflection cast on him in a Book publish'd by Stockdale & said to be compiled from papers furnished by the Publick Boards is not only unjust, but that he lost his life using his utmost endeavours to obey the Orders of Mr. King the Commandant which were an impossibility to effect, instead of not attending to them as is so shamefully & falsely represented in that Publication. There is no danger in approaching Norfolk Island or those adjacent from the Sea there not being anything laying more than 1/2 a Mile from the Shore; Ships coming to this Island with, West, SW or winds scarce ever meet with an opportunity of landing in Sydney Bay on their arrival: It would be much better for a Ship to wait a smooth time (which frequently happens for several days together) than to risk a Boat when the Surf is high at times altho' smooth at intervals. In general there is landing in Sydney Bay with the wind from the SE round to the No.ward to West. view facsimile

but when to the So.ward of West or SE very seldom. Sometimes the Surf rises without any apparent cause, I have seen a very heavy Surf when the wind has been two days off the land after its rising. When there is no landing in Sydney Bay there is generally smooth water in Cascade Bay about a Mile round the NE end of the Island, the landing is on a black rock standing out from but joining the shore & steep too, a little to the Et.ward of a kind of stoney beach composed of very large stones, to this Rock the Boats back in, Here People & small packages may be landed, & I think the landing of Provisions very practicable by fixing a Derrick in the Black Rock which is of sufficient Base & making a Rowling way from it to the Valley at the Beach where the Flax Manufactory is carrying on & where a store could be built to receive it till it could be convey'd over to the General Store: If this was done a Ship would never long be detained as she could be clearing on one side of the Island or the other. Sydney & Cascade Bays are the only places where Provisions or Stores can be landed, but People may at times be landed in Balls Bay which is to the So.ward of the NE Pt. of the Island, at Duncombe Bay, which is between Cascade Bay & the NW point of the Island & at Ansons Bay which is situated round a Point about a mile to the So.ward of the NW Point, from either of these it would be impossible to remove Stores or Provisions view facsimile

on account of the Perpendicular Hills that surround them. The ground off the N.side of the Island is much clearer of Rocks than off the So.side, A Ship may lay safely & smooth with SW or winds off Cascade or Duncombe Bay & by anchoring prevent being driven away to the Et.ward: There is also good Anchoring Ground to the NE of Nepean Island, the Flagstaff on with Pt. Hunter in 14 fms. Mud & sand & is the only muddy bottom I know about the Island. There is a Reef off the West Point of Sydney Bay running, SEbS from near 1/2 a mile from the shore to the outer sunken Rocks, which being just below the Surface at low water it always breaks, unless the Sea is uncommonly smooth; The Tides in general are equal each way, Flood runs to the SWbS & Ebb to the NEbS Ebbs & flows very regular by the shore & is high water Full & change 1/4 before 8 O'clock, The Tide makes two Hours sooner on the Norfolk Island shore than in the Stream or over by Phillip Island; We have experienced that the Tides are subject to unaccountable turns, sometimes running the greatest part of the day to the SW & sometimes the contrary, altho' this but very seldom happens it makes it necessary for the safety of a Ship that she should bring too & lay the Tide before she comes into the Bay within a line drawn from the outer Rocks of the Reef off the Wt. point to the So. part of Nepean Island 7 fm. is full near enough to come to view facsimile

the back of the reef in the most favourable time; The SE & So,ly winds are baffling, frequently shifting several points particularly when close over to Norfolk Island, which should be attended to, for if a Ship cannot lay up SSW the Et.ern Tide will throw heave her in upon the Shore: The West side of the Bay is full of Rocks & not safe for a Ship to go farther over than to bring the two Flag Staffs in one.

There is a bed of Rocks to the Wt.ward of the little Bay in Nepean Island & more than a Cables length from it, on some parts of which there is not more than 3 1/4 fathoms at low water, this lies much in the way coming into the Bay from the Et.ward & makes it dangerous for a Ship to go within the Island unless the wind is steady & off the shore, or a strong weather tide, as there is not any safe passage between Nepean Island & the Et. point of Sydney Bay the whole being a bed of Rocks on several of which is only 3 & on two of them only 2 fathom at low water & probably many more not yet discover'd; I have crossed this Channel several times & kept sight of the bottom all across, by which alone I was enabled to find the top of those Rocks, which are so small that they might be pass'd over unnoticed in a Boat rowing across & keeping the lead going in the usual way, the middle is all a Rocky flat of 5 fathom with Rocks or Stones rising from & laying upon it; Within less than 1/2 a Cable of the Island Is the view facsimile

part I would recommend if a Ship should be under a necessity of attempting it; The Supply has been through, but that was before any dangers were discover'd in it, she was fortunate enough to pass clear of all. Going through between Phillip & Nepean Islands, take care of a reef which runs off to the Et.wd. of the So. end of Nepean Id. about a 1/4 of a mile to the outer sunken Rock between which & the outer part of the reef that dries at low water is a passage wt. 8 & 10 fathom through which a Ship may go, but unless press'd I would recommend going round it, which you do by keeping the Wt.ern extreme of Norfolk Id. open to the So.ward of Nepean Id. until you open the Points of Balls Bay, when you may haul round to the NEt. The marks for this outer sunken Rock is the two points of Balls Bay on & the Bluff on the SE part of Nepean Id. sight on wt. the dry Reef, It breaks in bad weather & has 10 fathom close round it. There are several ragged Rocks running out from that part o! f Phillip Island opposite to Sydney Bay, one of which is but just above the Surface & lies farther from the Island than the others they are steep too & deep water round them: SSE 1/2 Mile from the Wt. end of Phillip Island is a little rock above water, from which all round the So. side of the Island appears to be foul ground. There are sunken Rocks off the NE Pt. of Norfolk Island which do not always break, they lay NE from it about 1/4 of a Mile & view facsimile

20 fm. just without it, It is necessary to give it a good birth in hauling round for Cascade Bay; There is sounding 30 & 40 fathoms some Miles round Norfolk Island. In Sydney Bay, The flood runs SWbS. Ebb. NEbN On the Et. & Wt. ends … So.ward. Ebb to the No.ward as the Land lies & on the No. side nearly West & East, The Flood sets strong over the NE end of Phillip Island & along by the shore as the Land lies, the Ebb the same over the Wt. end: Between the Islands the Tides are very strong; It flows1/4 before at full & change rises 6 or 7 feet & makes 2 Hours sooner on the Norfolk Island shore than in the Stream or by Phillip Island. A Ship may water in Sydney Bay very well wt. small Casks particularly if the Island Boats are used for that purpose. Norfolk Island is a very healthy situation as will appear from there having being been only 3 natural deaths since it was first settled in March. 1788 (The Casual deaths are 2 killed by Trees falling on them & 14 drown'd) at which time a small party was sent under the Command of Lieut. King of the Sirius, since which time the number of Inhabitants have been continually increasing by draughts from Port Jackson & in March. 1790 the Lieut. Governor with 2 Companies of Marines & 200 Convicts were sent there, & Lieut. King removed: After the Sirius was wreck'd the number of People on the Island was 507 & in August following 200 more were sent from Port Jackson. view facsimile

The soil is in most parts good & by those who are Judges from having been long used to Farming, said to be capable of producing anything, the Ground has been much infested with the Caterpillars which runs over it clearing all before them, & particularly this last Season, when the Crops were scarce Seed Corn for the Ground. The Pines which are in size equal to any in the World, are said to be by the Carpenters of very bad quality, not having any Terpentine in the Tree will never be fit for Masts; What little terpentine they have is between the bark & the tree, the body of the Tree has a moisture like water all through it, which makes it very heavy & when that water is drained from it, they think the wood of no substance: However we have cut down & left there a Top Mast & Topsailyard for a 74 Gun Ship a 32 Gun Frigate & a Sloop of War, & a rough spar ready to be taken to England for trial as order'd: In getting those 7 spars, 34 Trees were cut down, 27 of which proved defective: It makes good plank for Flooring &c.. There is several other kinds of wood on the Island, a Great variety of the Fern Tree & great quantities of the Palm Cabbage.

The Birds which so providentially afforded us subsistence form March until August, when releif arrived from Port Jackson cannot again be expected for some years, from the vast number of Eggs & young Birds that were destroyed & the ground view facsimile

in which they burrowed being torn up; But for a small number of Inhabitants the Birds may always a resource in case of accident happening to a Ship with Supplies or other failure.

I do not think that Fish can ever be consider'd as a resource to trust to, from the danger & difficulty of getting them & the scarcity of them in the Winter Season, during August, Sepr.

October & till the latter end of November, we did not get Fish, the Boat returning several times without one & whilst the Justinian & the Surprise were about the Island from the 4th to the 30th of August there was not a fish caught on board either of them altho' they tried on every side of the Island. They are very plenty in the Summer Season mostly of the Snapper kind, many sharks are met with & during the Months of July & August several Whales were about & between the Islands. The No. of People on Norfolk Island after we re embarked were, as follows;

Officers, Marines & Free People  93 
Men Convicts . . . . . . . . . . .  227 
Women Convicts . . . . . . . . .  245 
Children of Do. . . . . . . . . . .  62 

627 Total

The Ground cleared at Norfolk Island when we left of it was 130 Acres from the best accounts I could get, including Gardens, Private & Public; Tobacco thrives very well as does the Plaintain & Sugar Cane, the Vines were just view facsimile

beginning to bear this Season; The Ground is certainly capable of producing every thing usually found in the same Climate & altho' the Crop of Corn belonging to the Public failed the last Season, there were some remarkable fine Crops on the ground belonging to some of the Officers who had followed the same Plan & as had been at first adopted which was not the case with that belonging to the Government however the whole of that failure is laid to the Catterpillars. The Island is very well water'd except just at the Wt. & NW end, & there in the Summer Season the runs or streams are quite dried up, at all the other parts of the Island it has never failed It rises from Springs in different parts of the Island One of which takes its course through the Valley first clear'd & empties itself in a little Bay formed by the Et. Pt. of Sydney Bay, it passes under ground & forces itself up through a hole in the Rocks (which dry at low water) a fathom deep. Neither Phillip or Nepean Islands have any water on them from which circumstance & the great difficulty of landing on them they are of no other use to Norfolk Island except than that of breaking the Sea from Sydney Bay in SE or Et.erly winds: The whole three taken together do not contain more that 16 Square Miles which is but a small spot for the purpose that Government been have sent so many People to.

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A Table for the Surf at the Landing Place in Sydney Bay Norfolk Island shewing the days of good Landing & those of High Surf to prevent it, between 19th March 1790 & 12 Febry. 1791

[Table not reproduced - please see original]

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It was the 22nd. before we made Lord Howes Island, which we passed 15 leagues to the No.ward of, at which dis'ce. the land joining the two Mountains is just seen; We had very unsettled weather, arrived at Port Jackson the 26th where we found the Dutch Snow laying & that there had not been any Arrivals from England since those Ships that arrived last June, charter'd for China; In consequence of which & having been particularly disappointed at not yet seeing the Gorgon who was to have sailed immediately after those Ships, the Governor had detained the Dutch Snow & enter'd into a Contract with the Master of her to carry the Officers & Crew of the Sirius to England.

We found that the Natives had lately become familiar; several of them staying cheifly in the Camp & at the Governors: Benallon had sometime since, made his escape & join'd his Old Friend Colbey & other Companions; Early in Sepr. The Governor hearing that Benallon & Colbey had been seen in Collins Cove in the No. Arm went down there & after passing some time in the most familiar & friendly manner was suddenly wounded with a Spear; the particulars of which occurrence I take from Lt. Waterhouse who was present at the time & saw the whole transactions; His words are

“On Tuesday 7th Sepr. Ulto. I went down the Harbour with the Governr. & Capt. Collins to the look out Post at the South Head at which view facsimile

place the Governor mark'd out the ground & gave directions for building a Column or Land mark for Ships coming in from the Sea & was returning up with the harbour when a Boat that was coming up from Collins Cove (after having land'd a party who were going to Broken Bay) made Signals to speak with us; on their coming up, the Coxswain inform'd the Governor that the Gentlemen going to Broken Bay had had a long conference with Colbey & Benallon in Collins Cove that they had enquired for every person whom they knew & particularly for the Governor, that Benallon had sent him a piece of Whale & said he would return with the Governor if he would go down to him; in consequence of which the Govr. went immediately to the look out post it being the nearest place & got everything that he thought would be acceptable & frunish'd themselves with 4 Musquets & a pistol; went down into Collins Cove. In our way down we found that only two of the musquets could be fired both of which were loaded as was the Pistol; when we got into Collins Cove, we saw several Natives assembled round a fire opposite to a Whale that had been thrown ashore; the Govr. stood up & ask'd (in the Native tongue) where was Benallon, he answer'd immediately that it he was there; He told him that he was the Governor, his Father, which name Benallon had desired to go call him by while living with him: The Governor after desiring Capt. Collins & me to stay by the Boat & have the Musquets view facsimile

ready, stept out & advanced up the beach with his hands & Arms open, they did not seem much inclined to come down, however the Governor persever'd & follow'd them into the Woods 'till out of our sight & had a parley with some of them, One of whom (found afterwards to be Benallon) repeatedly called him Governor & Father after which & having shook hands together the Governor return'd to the Boat & took a Man up with him with some Wine, Beef & Bread & some presents; On his holding up the bottle one of them call'd out Wine & repeated several English words, two of them came forward & rec'd the things & one of them drank some Wine; In a short time the Governor came again to the Boat, told Capt. Collins what he had done, but that Colbey or Benallon was not there, & ask'd Capt. Collins to walk up with him, desiring me still to remain by the Boat; as they went up I frequently heard a man on the right of them call out Benallon & told him of something he had observed as we kept the Boat on her Oars (which might reasonably occasion some mistrust as the same precaution was observed when they were forcibly taken away & in the same Cove where the Boat was now laying) “Shortly afterwards a Man come to me, said that Benallon & Colbey were there & that Benallon had enquired for me & that the Governor desired that I would come up, which I immediately did: On my getting up the bank I perceiv'd several of the Natives on each side & view facsimile

"eight or ten in the front all arm'd with Spears except Colbey & Benallon with whom the Governor appear'd to be in earnest Conversation; I went up to them, but did not know Benallon until he was pointed out to me, I then recollected him very well & we shook hands, I ask'd him several questions alluding to circumstances that had happen'd while he lived with us, which he perfectly understood & both him & Colbey ask'd me several q. Benallon at the time the Governor was up had a remarkable good spear, which he ask'd for, but Benallon either could not or would not understand him but took the Spear & laid it down in the Grass, during all which time perfect Harmony subsisted. The Natives appear'd now to be closing round us, of which the Governor took notice & said he thought we had better retreat, there were then 19 arm'd Men near us & many more that we could not see; The Governor then assur'd Benallon he would return in two days & bring with him the Clothes he used to wear & 2 Hatchets (which they are remarkably fond of.) one for Colbey & one for himself with which they seem'd much pleas'd & often repeated it that it might not be forgot: Just as we were going, Benallon pointed out & named several of the Natives that were about us, one in particular to whom the Governor presented his hand & advanced towards him, at which he seem'd frighten'd, & seiz'd the Spear that Benallon had laid down in the Grass & immediately view facsimile

"threw it with great violence, all those who were near retreat'd with great precipitation; The Spear struck the Governor, enter'd the right shoulder ju & went through about 3 inches just behind the should blade close to the back bone; I immediately concluded that He was killed & supposed there was not a chance for any of us to escape I turn'd round to run for the Boat as I perceived C.Collins running that way & calling to the People in the Boat to bring Musquets up, The Governor also attempted to run holding the Spear with both hands to keep the end off the ground, but owing to the length of it, the end took the ground & stop'd him short (I suppose it was 12 feet long) He then beg'd me for God sake to haul the Spear out, which I immediately stop'd to do, when I recollected that I should only haul the barb into his flesh again which we knew to be an inch long, I then determin'd on breaking it off & bent it down for that purpose, but owing to its length could not do it, I then bent it upward but could not break it; just at this instant another Spear came & grazed the skin off between the thumb & forefinger of my right hand. I own it frighten'd me & I believe added to my exertions; for the next sudden jerk it broke short off; Spears were then flying very thick, one of which I perceiv'd fall close at Capt Collins feet as he was speaking to the Boat Crew; The Governor then fired a pistol, which with a Musquet that was fired by the Sailors who had then got between the Natives & us, enabled view facsimile

"us to get down to the beach. The Governor was lifted into the Boat he being very faint; Capt. Collins soon joined us with the Boat Crew, when we put off, & got up to Sydney within two hours, when the Surgeons who were immediately sent for made us all happy by confidently assuring the Governor there were not any fatal consequences to be apprehended, the Spear was then extracted & in 6 weeks he was able to get about again.”

There are different opinions as to Colbey & Benallon being accessary to this assault, which I cannot but mistrust was the case: However they were afterwards encouraged to come up to the Camp, which was soon effected & now they are cheifly about the Governors House with many more of their Friends; Benallon has a House built for him on the Et. point of Sydney Cove which he & his companions frequently visit; Notwithstanding this apparently friendly intercourse I cannot think they are to be trusted, from their having so frequently attack'd those who they thought were not provided wt. fire Arms & surprising & Murdering some who had Musquets. In one instance soon after our arrival from Norfolk Island, Benallon & his friends behav'd very well in swimming off to a Boat that had overset just off Sydney Cove, they brought the People Boat & every thing belonging to her safe ashore & helped them to repair the Boat & launch her again; Benallon's Sister . view facsimile

& two children (who she swam to shore with) were in the Boat when she overset. The Governor & those Gentlemen who attend to the getting a Vocabulary of the Native language have made considerable progress in it, but many of the Customs of these Savages yet remain doubtful as to the cause.