Thursday 3 November 1836

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

Novr 3rd The favourable breeze continuing, about 4 o’clk this morng I rose & went on Deck to watch the appearance of the shore of Kangaroo Island, & Yorke’s Peninsular [sic] at the South. The morng was exceedingly fine – the sun rose without a cloud, excepting one remarkable for its fleecy delicacy which by one of our artists was denominated a “Cashmere Cloud” from its resemblance to the fine & white wool of my favourite goats. As I watched the changing shore & reflected on the years of anxiety & labour which I had devoted to this enterprise, the alternations of hope & chagrin, which I had suffered as the prospect of its accomplishment appeared near or distant, the degree of success which had at length been attained, & withal the Providential protection which “He who holds the waters in the hollow of His Hand” had been pleased to extend to us, my varied emotions almost subdued me, and I was by no means sorry to retreat to a part of the ship, where undisturbed I cd watch the progress of the vessel. About 11 o’clk Nepean Bay opened to us, and all eyes were directed to the shore in the expectation of seeing our fellow-Colonists. At length we observed 3 vessels at anchor in the Bay: upon which, signals were hoisted & the guns fired. These were answered from the ships, & the shore, and presently a boat put off which in due time brought to us Mr Samuel Stephens, the Company’s Colonial Manager. He had not been on board many minutes when an accident happened, which might have ended calamitously. One of his boat’s crew (a valuable man named Thomas) who had resided in the Island some years, fell overboard & rapidly drifted astern! Fortunately he was an excellent swimmer, & having an oar in his hand, with great care he supported himself in the water; a few minutes sufficed to lower a boat & in less than 5 minutes he was safely in it. On congratulating him on the favourable termination of his accident he feared nothing for the water, but his dread was of sharks, which infest the Bay, & which are larger here than any I have before heard of – it is not uncommon to catch them of a length from 16 to 18 ft —  Before deciding where to take up our temporary residence, until the arrival of the Governor, Brown & I thought it expedient to see Col Light, who was then surveying at Cape Jervis. We accordingly sent for Capt Lipson (the Harbour Master) & who we understood was in the Colonel’s confidence, & in the evening he rowed from the “Cygnit” to us. From him we learned that a most enchanting country had been discovered at Cape Jervis, with which Col Light was so much pleased as to be almost fixed in its favour, but that its superior advantages to Kangaroo Island were not the only cause of the removal of the depôt from the Island; the conduct of Mr Stephens being his chief motive.


Everything which I have observed, & the report received from others not connected with Mr S. goes to prove that Kangaroo Island may be made a flourishing settlement. The harbour of Nepean Bay may be said to be perfect – secure from all winds and will allow of the entrance of vessels much larger that the “Africaine”, requiring the expenditure of but little money or labour to make excellent landing places. Capt Duff speaks in the very highest terms of the anchorage (sand & mud) & is so much pleased with the facilities afforded for shipping that as a S. Australian land proprietor, he says he would be content to have his section placed adjacent to this Bay. The land is so thickly wooded that the clearing of it would require a deal of labour & cost a considerable sum. The timber is not large, & is serviceable therefore only for rafters, for roofs, fencing, & purposes of that kind.


The most beautiful shrubs are to be found everywhere upon the Island, & some are made to contribute to the use of man. Amongst them are the Tea-tree & the Currant Tree: the first of which is already used by some of the emigrants & the last affords a fruit, about the size of a red-currant, having the same sharp flavour. The fruit & blossom are upon it at the same time. In wandering with H. among the partially cleared brushwood, we one day fell upon a Hut – one room of about 12 ft square, inhabited by 2 men & a woman – a native of Van Dieman’s Land, of most forbidding appearance. The men were run-away Sailors, who had never approached the Company’s settlement with a view to obtaining employment. One of them sternly ordered the woman to get some tea & make it. She accordingly cut off a branch of the tree, and put it into the pot, thus obeying the mandate of her lord. The taste of this decoction was not disagreeable. The sea-shore abounds with shells around the whole of the Bay – some minute but others of the large kind. There is also on the shore iron-stone in great abundance the conformation of which is curious; resembling in many places a tessellated pavement, at other times like broken bottles of a foot or 18 inches diameter. Lime stone is also common, & I picked up a piece of pure chalk, & some quartz in small crystals xxxx No birds have been procured, though we saw black swans, pelicans & a beautiful blue bird, name unknown. Kangaroos are not to be procured but there is opossum of a small kind, also a small species of Kangaroo (called Walibi). The emigrants landed from the “Africaine” have been busy putting up their tents, no place of any kind having been prepared for their reception. No religious service has been performed on the Island since the landing of the first expedition – now nearly 3 months. The opinion which the sealers (Stephen & Lipson) give of the pedestrian party succeeding in reaching the settlement are very discouraging – nay, fearful! All agree in saying it is impossible but that they should be lost in the woods & unless very fortunate in finding water, would be starved to death. With a degree of folly hardly to be imagined they refused to take from the boats fresh water which had been provided for them, thus they wd in a few hours be suffering from thirst to be quenched only in such pools as might be left from the winter rains. On hearing this statement we thought it advisable to send after them, & an agreement was made with 3 sealers & a native woman to go in search of them, & they immediately started on their expedition. Reliance is chiefly placed on the sagacity of the native woman, who is distinguished for her skill in tracking.

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