Sunday 6 November 1836

[, on board the wrote. | Read source notes.]

NOVEMBER 6.-This afternoon we set sail for the mainland, which we reached about 4 o’clock. We anchored in Rapid Bay, in front of the most beautiful prospect imaginable. We could see some tents on shore belonging to the surveying party. Colonel Light, commander of the Rapid, was stationed there, and soon afterwards came on board. A party from the vessel went on shore, and on their return gave a most enchanting account of the country which everywhere resembled a gentleman’s park – grass growing in the greatest luxuriance, the most beautiful flowers in abundance, and the birds of splendid plumage. They saw several of the natives, who the surveyors said were of great service to them. They introduced themselves by the names which had been given them, as Peter and Tom, and most of them spoke English. We all seemed to wish this part to be fixed on for the seat of government, but it was said that the anchorage was not good, and we must proceed to Holdfast Bay, about forty miles further. Accordingly, the next morning we left this delightful spot and sailed for Holdfast Bay.

But my greatest regret was in leaving Kangaroo Island before we had heard something respecting the young men, for whom we began now to be seriously alarmed, especially as we had ourselves made a slight experiment of the difficulties of travelling in the bush, which sufficiently convinced us that our fears were not without reason. We had all spent a day on Kangaroo Island, and during a walk which I took with my husband we entered the scrub, as it is called, and incautiously proceeded till we were so completely bewildered that we began to be uneasy lest we should not find our way out of the labyrinth, which seemed on all sides to be interminable, for nothing could be seen but the sky above us and the bushes around us. Nor could we tell which way to retrace our steps, as no path which we had passed through was discernible. At length, however, after advancing, as far as we could judge, about half a mile, we fortunately caught through a small opening in the brushwood a glimpse of the sea, and immediately made towards it, forcing our way through the bushes down a step hill till we reached the shore. But for this providential escape our adventure possibly might have terminated as fatally for us as for the young men who attempted to accomplish the rash undertaking of traversing what was, at least to them, an unknown country.· For at that time it was uninhabited even by natives, except a very few, who resided with one or two white men, who had been on the island for some years.

Now that this part of New Holland was to be made a British colony, the South Australian Company had a station on the island, including a large tent containing stores and provisions. This was situated near the shore, and all beyond the immediate vicinity was a wilderness as far as the eye could reach, thickly overgrown with trees and bushes. According to report, this was the general character of the island, and a passage through was extremely difficult, even to those accustomed to such travelling, and doubly so to inexperienced young men. That nothing might be omitted which was likely to apprise them of their danger and make them aware that others were on their track, large fires were kept burning on the highest eminences for several nights as signals which they might see at a distance. Guns were fired at intervals, which it was hoped they would hear, but it was all of no avail, and we were reluctantly obliged to quit the shores of Kangaroo Island without any information respecting them.

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