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August 1788

August 12th. Celebrated the Prince of Wales's birthday. The men of war fired a royal salute, and all the officers in the colony, civil and military, dined with the governor. The evening was spent in making bonfires, and testifying such other demonstrations of joy as could be shewn in this country. The weather is now very wet and cold, and has been so for the last six weeks. Several mornings we have had a hoar frost, and a few distinct pelicles of ice were formed on shallow spots of water; the thermometer frequently as low as the freezing point.

16th. A convict who had been out gathering what they called sweet tea, about a mile from the camp, met a party of the natives, consisting of fourteen, by whom he was beaten, and also slightly wounded with the shell-stick used in throwing their spears; they then made him


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strip, and would have taken from him his clothes, and probably his life, had it not been for the report of two musquets; which they no sooner heard than they ran away. This party were returning from the wood with cork, which they had been cutting, either for their canoes or huts; and had with them no other instruments than those that were necessary for the business on which they were engaged, such as a stone hatchet, and the shell stick before mentioned. Had they been armed with any other weapons, the convict would probably have lost his life.

That which we call the sweet tea is a creeping kind of vine, running to a great extent along the ground; the stalk is not so thick as the smallest honey-suckle; nor is the leaf so large as the common bay leaf, though something similar to it; and the taste is sweet, exactly like the liquorice root of the shops. Of this the convicts and soldiers make an infusion which is tolerably pleasant, and serves as no bad succedaneum for tea. Indeed, were it to be met with in greater abundance it would be found very beneficial to those poor creatures whose constant diet is salt provisions. In using it for medical purposes,


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I have found it to be a good pectoral, and, as I before observed, not at all unpleasant. (See plate annexed.) We have also a kind of shrub in this country, resembling the common broom, which produces a small berry like a white currant, but in taste more similar to a very sour green gooseberry. This has proved a good antiscorbutic; but I am sorry to add that the quantity to be met with is far from sufficient to remove the scurvy. That disorder still prevails with great violence, nor can we at present find any remedy against it, notwithstanding that the country produces several sorts of plants and shrubs which, in this place, are considered as tolerable vegetables, and used in common. The most plentiful is a plant growing on the sea shore, greatly resembling sage. Among it are often to be found samphire, and a kind of wild spinage, besides a small shrub which we distinguish by the name of the vegetable tree, and the leaves of which prove rather a pleasant substitute for vegetables.

22d. His Excellency Governor Phillip, Lieutenant George Johnston, his Adjutant of Orders, Lieutenant Cresswell of the Marines, myself, and six soldiers, landed in Manly Cove, in order to examine the coast to Broken Bay. At a


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short distance from the shore, we saw sixteen canoes, with two persons in each, and in some three, employed in fishing. They seemed to take very little notice as we passed them, so very intent were they on the business in which they were engaged. On our landing, we saw sixty more of the natives, about two hundred yards distant from us. Some of them immediately came up to us, and were very friendly. A black man who carried our tents gave two of them a stocking each, with which they seemed much pleased; and, pointing to the naked leg, expressed a great desire to have that also clothed. The morning was so cold, that these poor wretches stood shivering on the beach, and appeared to be very sensible of the comfort and advantage of being clothed.

We sent back our boats, and proceeded northward along the coast about six miles, where we were forced to halt for near two hours, until the tide had run out of a lagoon, or piece of water, so as to admit of its being forded. While we were detained here an old native came to us, and, in the most friendly manner, pointed out the shallowest part of the water we had to cross; but the tide ran with too much rapidity at that time for us to attempt it. After we


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had waded through, one of our company shot a very fine duck, which we had dressed for supper, on a little eminence by the side of a cabbage tree swamp, about half a mile from the run of the tide. Here the whole party got as much cabbage, to eat with their salt provisions, as they chose. While we had been detained by the tide, several natives were on the opposite side, who also pointed out to us the shoalest water, and appeared, by their signs and gestures, to wish us very much to come over; but, before the tide was sufficiently low, they went away. One of them wore a skin of a reddish colour round his shoulders. Near the place where we pitched our tent, we saw several quails exactly like those in England. I fired four or five times at them, but without success, as my shot was too large.

23d. As soon as the dew was off the grass, we began our march, and about twelve o'clock fell in with the south branch of Broken Bay: but finding the country round this part very rugged, and the distance too great for our stock of provisions, we returned to the sea shore, in order to examine the south part of the entrance into the bay. This, like every other part of the country we have seen, had a very indifferent aspect. From the entrance


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of Port Jackson to Broken Bay, in some places from fifty to a hundred, in others to two hundred yards distant from the sea, the coast indeed is very pleasant, and tolerably clear of wood; the earth a kind of adhesive clay, covered with a thick and short sour grass.

All along the shore we met the natives, who seem to have no fixed residence or abode, but, indiscriminately, whenever they meet with a hut, or, what is more common, a convenient excavation or hole in the rocks, take possession of it for the time. In one of their huts, at Broken Bay, which was constructed of bark, and was one of the best I had ever met with, we saw two very well made nets, some fishing lines not inferior to the nets, some spears, a stone hatchet of a very superior make to what they usually have, together with two vehicles for carrying water, one of cork, the other made out of the knot of a large tree hollowed. In this hut there were two pieces of coarse linen, which they must have obtained from some of our people, and every thing about it bespoke more comfort and convenience than I had observed in any other. A little way from it we fell in with a large party of natives, whom we supposed to be the proprietors;


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they were armed with spears and stone hatchets. One of the latter they very earnestly wished to exchange for one of ours. Though we would readily have obliged them, it was not in our power to comply with their wishes, as we had only a sufficient number wherewith to cut wood for our own fires. However, notwithstanding our refusal, they parted from us without appearing at all dissatisfied.

As we proceeded along the sandy beach, we gathered some beans, which grew on a small creeping substance not unlike a vine. They were well tasted, and very similar to the English long-pod bean. At the place where we halted, we had them boiled, and we all eat very heartily of them. Half an hour after, the governor and I were seized with a violent vomiting. We drank warm water, which, carrying the load freely from our stomachs, gave us immediate relief. Two other gentlemen of the party ate as freely of them as we had done, without feeling the smallest inconvenience or bad effect. About this place we got some rasberries; but they had not that pleasant tartness peculiar to those in Europe.

24th. We returned by the same passage, along the coast,


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without seeing any objects worth notice, until we came to a convenient spot to encamp for the night, where there was great plenty of cabbage trees and tolerable water; a circumstance, as I have already observed, not generally to be met with in this country except on the sea coast, and even there by no means in abundance.

While soup was making of some birds we had lately killed (which proved very good), and every thing was getting ready for the night, the governor, the two other gentlemen, and myself, took our guns and ascended a hill just above us. From this eminence we saw the southern branch of Broken Bay, which ran far into the country. During our return, we picked up, in the distance of about half a mile, twenty-five flowers of plants and shrubs of different genera and species, specimens of which I have transmitted to Mr. Wilson, particularly the Red Gum Tree (see Plate annexed). On the spot where we encamped the grass was long, dry, and sour, and in such abundance, that we set it on fire all around, for fear the natives should surprise us in the night by doing the same, a custom in which they seem always happy to indulge themselves.

25th. We set off early in the morning to look at the


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branch of Broken Bay which we had seen the evening before, and were led to it by a path not very much frequented. At the head of this branch we found a fresh-water river, which took its rise a little above, out of a swamp. Such is the origin and source of every river we have yet discovered in this country, though few, when compared to those in any other part of the world. It is very extraordinary that, in all this extensive tract, a living spring has not yet been explored. On this river we saw many ducks and teal. Mr. Cresswell shot one of the latter, and I shot one of the former. They were both well tasted, and good of their kind. At the head of this branch we found the country rough and impassable. Having followed the course of the river to its origin, we that day returned to Manly Cove, where we surprised two old men, an old woman, a grown-up girl, and thirteen children, in a hut. When the children saw us approach, they all gathered themselves closely together around the girl; they cried, and seemed much terrified. The old men showed such dislike to our looking at them that the governor and the rest of the party withdrew to some little distance to dine. Some of the children, on seeing all the party gone but


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myself and another gentleman, began to laugh, and thus proved that their fears had vanished. When we joined the rest of the party, the old man followed us in a very friendly manner, and took part of every kind of provision we had, but he ate none of it in our sight. The women and children stood at some distance, and beckoned to us when the men, of whom they seemed to stand in very great dread, had turned their backs.

As soon as we had dined, and refreshed ourselves, the governor, by himself, went down to them, and distributed some presents among them, which soon gained their friendship and confidence. By this time sixteen canoes, that were out fishing, came close to the spot where we were, and there lay on their paddles, which they managed with wonderful dexterity and address; mimicking us, and indulging in their own merriment. After many signs and entreaties, one of the women ventured to the governor, who was by himself, and, with seemingly great timidity, took from him some small fishing lines and hooks, articles which they hold in great estimation. This made her less fearful; and in a little time she became perfectly free and unrestrained. Her conduct influenced many others


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who came on shore for what they could procure. Many of them were painted about the head, breast, and shoulders, with some white substance. None of those who were thus ornamented came on shore, till by signs we made them understand that we intended to offer them some presents; and even then only one of them ventured. To this person Lieutenant Cresswell gave a white pocket handkerchief, with which she seemed much pleased. Every gentleman now singled out a female and presented her with some trinkets, not forgetting, at the same time, to bestow gifts upon some of her family, whom she took considerable pains to make known, lest they should fall into the hands of such as did not belong to her. It was remarked that all the women and children, (an old woman excepted) had the little finger of the left hand taken off at the second joint, the stump of which was as well covered as if the operation had been performed by a surgeon.

While we were thus employed among the women, a body of men came out of the woods with a new canoe, made of cork. It was one of the best we had observed in this country, though it fell very short of those


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which I have seen among the American or Musquito-shore Indians, who, in improvements of every kind, the Indians of this country are many centuries behind. The men had also with them some new paddles, spears, and fish-gigs, which they had just been making. They readily showed us the use of every thing they had with them. Indeed they always behave with an apparent civility when they fall in with men that are armed; but when they meet persons unarmed they seldom fail to take every advantage of them.

Those females who were arrived at the age of puberty did not wear a covering; but all the female children and likewise the girls wore a slight kind of covering before them, made of the fur of the kangaroo, twisted into threads. While we went towards the party of men that came out of the woods with the new canoe, all the women landed, and began to broil their fish, of which they had a large quantity. There seemed to be no harmony or hospitality among them. However, the female to whom I paid the most attention gave me, but not until I asked her for it, some of the fish which she was


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eating. She had thrown it on the fire, but it was scarcely warm.

Many of the women were strait, well formed, and lively. My companion continued to exhibit a number of coquettish airs while I was decorating her head, neck, and arms with my pocket and neck handkerchiefs, which I tore into ribbons, as if desirous of multiplying two presents into several. Having nothing left, except the buttons of my coat, on her admiring them, I cut them away, and with a piece of string tied them round her waist. Thus ornamented, and thus delighted with her new acquirements, she turned from me with a look of inexpressible archness.

Before the arrival of the boats, which was late, the natives pointed to a hawk, and made signs to us to shoot it. It had alighted upon an adjoining tree, and the governor desired that I would bring it down. The report of the gun frightened them very much. Some ran away; but on perceiving that no harm was intended against them, they returned, and were highly pleased to see the hawk presented by the governor to a young girl, who appeared


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to be the daughter of the most distinguished amongst them.

While the boats were preparing for our reception, an old woman, perfectly grey with age, solicited us very much for some present; and, in order to make us comply, threw herself, before all her companions, into the most indecent attitudes.

The cocks wain of the boat informed us that while he was waiting for our return, the day before, two parties of the natives met, and commenced hostilities against each other. The man thus described the manner in which this encounter was carried on. A champion from each party, armed with a spear and a shield, pressed forwards before the rest, and, as soon as a favourable opportunity offered (till which he advanced and retreated by turns), threw his spear, and then retired; when another immediately took his place, going through the same manoeuvres; and in this manner was the conflict carried on for more than two hours. The boats crew and two midshipmen, who saw the whole of the proceeding, perceived that one of the natives walked off with a spear in his side. During the engagement, the women belonging to them, who stood


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at some distance, discovered strong marks of concern, and screamed loudly when any of the combatants appeared to be wounded. As the boat was returning close along shore, a spear was thrown at the people by some of the natives, who were lurking behind the trees and rocks. It was hurled with such force, that it flew a considerable way over the boat, although we were between thirty and forty yards from the shore.

It was late in the evening before we arrived in Sydney Cove; and as soon as the governor landed he was informed that a gold mine had been discovered, near the entrance of the harbour, by a convict. During his excellency's absence, the convict had made this discovery known to the lieutenant governor and the judge advocate; for which he said that he hoped and expected to have his freedom, and a pecuniary reward. The gentlemen to whom he applied answered that they could not promise to grant his request until he should have put them in possession of the mine; but that they were well assured that the governor would bestow on him a proper recompence, after sufficient proof of the discovery. A boat was, in consequence, ordered from the Sirius, to carry him and Captain Campbell down to the


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place where he declared that the mine was situated. At their landing, he begged leave to withdraw a little, on some necessary occasion; when, instead of returning to Captain Campbell, he went back to the camp, and, waiting on the lieutenant governor and judge advocate, asserted that he had put Captain Campbell in possession of the mine, who had dispatched him over land for another officer and a proper guard. His account not being doubted, he was well fed and treated; and Lieutenant Paulden, with a guard and all necessary articles, was ordered to attend him to the place. But, before they could set out, to the great astonishment of all Captain Campbell arrived, and unravelled the whole of this extraordinary deception. This produced an unexpected revolution. Instead of receiving a reward for his golden discoveries, the impostor was immediately taken into custody, with two others, supposed to be concerned in carrying on the artifice. The next day he was examined, with great privacy and strictness; but, no satisfactory elucidation being obtained from him, he was ordered to be severely whipped. Subsequently to this punishment, of which he was prepared to expect a weekly repetition, between the intervals of hard labour, and to be


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loaded incessantly with heavy irons, during the time of his remaining in the colony, he most audaciously persisted in endeavouring to maintain the delusion, and declared that if an officer was sent with him he would show him the mine; adding that he was heartily sorry for what had happened. Accordingly, he was suffered to accompany Lieutenant G. Johnston, the Governor's Adjutant of Orders, to the place in question. Before the boat had reached its destination Mr. Johnston argued with him, yet not without protesting that if he either attempted to deceive him as he had imposed upon Captain Campbell or presumed to move five yards from him and his party, he would instantly order him to be shot. Finding that this officer was not to be trifled with, but seemed determined, he acknowledged that it was unnecessary to proceed any farther; that he was ignorant of the existence of any such mine, and that the specimens shown by him were only a composition of brass and gold, which he had filed down and melted. Mr. Johnston brought him back, when he was again examined, and ordered to be punished. It is needless to add that no further discovery was made. He is now at liberty. He is, however, obliged to wear a large R on


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his back. The man, whose name is Daily, appears insane; yet others cannot be persuaded that he is a lunatic, but are rather of opinion that he is a designing miscreant, and that time will disclose a deep-laid scheme, which he had planned for some purpose hitherto undiscovered. For my own part, I freely confess, that I cannot coincide with their sentiments. He was so artful as to circulate a report that he had sold several pounds weight of the ore to the master of the Golden Grove, and some of his seamen. This rumour was received with such credulity that, in consequence of the impression which it made, none of the sailors were suffered to leave the ship after a certain hour in the evening. In a word, so many ridiculous circumstances attended this affair, that to attempt a complete enumeration of them would prove not less difficult than uninteresting.

26th. The Supply arrived from Norfolk Island, after a long and rough passage. She had landed, but neither in apparent safety nor with facility, the stores which she carried to that place: and, upon the present occasion, I am sorry to add, that the hazard of landing and embarking from this little island is so very great that Mr. Cunningham, a midshipman of the Sirius (who resided on it with


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Lieutenant King, the superintendant), was lost, with three seamen, in a boat that was swamped by the surf, which on every part of the coast runs high, and beats against the shore with great violence; so that I much fear, from the difficulty of access, and its situation, it never will prove of any great consequence, although it promised some advantages, particularly in furnishing us with pine trees, which grow here to a size nearly equal to those of Norway. In the whole island there is not a harbour capable of admitting even so small a vessel as the Supply, and the anchorage on every part of the coast is equally bad.

The island produces a kind of gladiolus luteus, or iris palustris, of which, as may be seen by the specimens sent Mr. Wilson, exceeding good hemp is to be made, and which is to be procured in any quantity, the plants growing in great abundance throughout the whole island. The foregoing articles, were the island larger and more easy of access, with even a tolerable harbour, might, in any other country, be of the first consequence to a maritime nation. But, from every information which I have gained from the officers and crew of the Supply, the procuring of this beneficial acquisition is at present somewhat doubtful. The


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people settled upon it, when they can venture out, get great plenty of fish and, at certain seasons, turtle. In the island also are pigeons, as tame as domestic fowls; and the soil seems well adapted for the growth of all kinds of grain and vegetables. It produces a wild banana, or plantain tree, which, by cultivation, may assist the settlers as a succedaneum for bread: and I am not without hopes that we shall be able to make some additions from thence to such necessaries of life as may in time be produced here.

A few days since the natives landed near the hospital, where some goats belonging to the Supply were browsing, when they killed, with their spear, a kid, and carried it away. Within this fortnight, they have also killed a he-goat of the governor's. Whenever an opportunity offered, they have seldom failed to destroy whatever stock they could seize upon unobserved. They have been equally ready to attack the convicts on every occasion which presented itself; and some of them have become victims to these savages. I have already observed that they stand much in fear of a musquet, and therefore they very seldom approach any person by whom it is carried; and their apprehensions are almost equally great when they perceive a red garment.

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