Project Canterbury

Thirty Years in Tropical Australia

By the Right Reverend Gilbert White, D.D.
Bishop of Willochra

London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1918.

Chapter XII. The Roper River (1907)

IN the year 1907 I left Thursday Island with the Rev. A. R. Ebbs, secretary of the Church Missionary Association of Victoria, in our Mission ship the Francis Pritt, to see if we could find a site for a Mission station on the Roper River, which enters the Gulf of Carpentaria on its western side. We left on Saturday morning, June 15. The weather was extraordinarily calm for the time of the year. There was hardly any wind, and we drifted out with the tide so slowly that it was nearly 10 P.M. before we had passed Booby Island. Then we met with a heavy swell from the south-west and a breeze from the south-east, causing a nasty lumpy sea which continued all night and next day; but after breakfast we managed to hold service on deck for the crew, though it cannot be honestly said that the singing was a great success. I continue with entries from my diary:

"7.30 P.M., June 18. Off Chasm Island on the northwest coast Groote Island. This is the first instant that I have been able to write, or indeed think, very connectedly since Saturday morning, and I must explain how we come to be anchored here under Chasm Island instead of being on our way to the mouth of the Roper, a hundred miles to the south. By about midday on Sunday the sea was very high though the wind was not high enough to account for it. On Monday morning the wind increased to a gale and the seas became mountainous, but the Pritt behaved splendidly after being closely reefed down, and ran 125 miles from midday on Sunday to midday on Monday. The weather was too bad to take observations, and the wind so violent that it was probable that with our shortened sail we should be unable to make our destination, so I suggested to Captain Noelke that he should make for the north end of Groote Island, some thirty miles north of our course, where we might possibly find shelter from the fierce south-easterly, which was making even some of the crew sea-sick and reducing the passengers to a state of mental chaos. I was well enough to sit from time to time by the steersman and watch the skill with which he met the huge walls of water that came rushing up, towering above us and apparently bent on destroying us, though under the skilled hand the Pritt climbed a mountain here and dived through a valley there, always eluding the full shock till one came to have almost a contempt for the ease with which the puny skill of man baffled their efforts. Yet some of them were cunning too. Now they would seem to pass by and then suddenly shoot up a deluge of water drenching the usually only dry spot over the stern, now jumping up unseen under the bows and smothering the vessel in spray. But it was too wet to stay much on deck, and the cabin had to be closely fastened down with a tarpaulin over skylight and hatch, so that it may be imagined that three days of stifling heat and darkness, even with an occasional excursion to the raging deck, did not tend to raise the spirits. The barometer went up to 30'21 and stayed there steadily. In fact it is there still, to the confusion of other unhappy travellers in the Gulf; for a high barometer means a southerly gale. Monday was a terrible night. Sea after sea broke over the ship, for it is more difficult to avoid them at night, and the wind howled with a perfect frenzy. At dawn the captain said that something must go, even with our closely reefed sails, and so took in our big sail altogether. The gale grew worse and worse. No sights at all could be taken, and though the log said we had run 142 miles it seemed incredible, reefed down and shortened as we had been. The wind and sea grew worse and worse. We did not know where we were. Melancholy sat on the faces of the crew, some of whom were still sea-sick and none quite sure what was going to happen, as the captain said that at dark there would be nothing for it but to beat out again from the supposed direction of the land into what promised to be a yet wilder night than the last. Mr. Ebbs and I had a little meeting for prayer for divine guidance, and he had just come up for his first visit of recovery to the deck, and was sitting perched with me at the stern about four o'clock when he called my attention to two sea-birds. I called John Wesley's attention to them and he looked keenly about, and a few moments later pointed out a little island about eight miles to the south-west, an outlier of Groote Island. It was a critical moment, only a couple of hours to dark, and an anchorage to be found in a raging gale.

"Captain Noelke was equal to the occasion, and up went the foresail again, and we simply flew along as close hauled as we could be to the wind at the rate of at least nine or ten knots. It was a close shave, as there was no possibility of anchoring under the first part of the island that we came to, and we had to go some twenty miles from where we first sighted land before the captain found, in the dark, a sheltered spot in fifteen fathoms of water, close in under Chasm Island, over which we heard the wind howling in baffled rage. No one had had much to eat since leaving Booby Island, and the first question was, 'What shall we have for tea?' and it was unanimously decided in favour of fried onions and sausages! I felt proud of the Francis Pritt, and thankful to Almighty God Who had brought us safely from the storm to the haven, for the gale was so fierce that, unable to carry sail, we might have been blown away to the northward, with no harbours of refuge, had we not just sighted the island in the nick of time. I did not forget how many had been praying for protection and direction for us. It should be mentioned for future guidance that one should not again take the course we took, as it involves too great danger of being blown north by a gale. One ought rather to go down the Queensland coast sufficiently to get a safe slant of wind, and then in any gale refuge could be sought under Maria Island or, if that were missed, under Groote Island, with certainty of making it. I think every one on board, even John Wesley's little puppy dog shut up in the after hatch, was as glad to get into safety as we were.

"Next morning, 19th, it was blowing as hard as ever, making rough water even under the shelter of the island. We got up anchor about 7 A.M., and stood south-east by Winchelsea Island, almost to Connection Island, from which we ran back on the other tack, and anchored at noon in four-fathom water and well sheltered under North-West Bluff, the north-west point of Groote Island. A reef runs out about half a mile to the west of the Bluff, which is a fine mass of cliff rising sheer out of the water. After dinner I landed with Mr. Ebbs, John, and Jimmy. We walked a mile along the beach to the west, saw a few tracks of natives and one recent fire. We then struck inland through some thick scrub interspersed with open forest towards the foot of the hill, but could only get through with difficulty. I searched well for water, but could only find one small spring, almost dry, just through the scrub to the right of the Bluff, but the ground was damp in many places. I left some flour and tobacco under a large rock, and after a delightful bathe in the sea we returned on board about 4.30 P.M., bringing with us, alas, a large consignment of flies. The barometer showed little sign of improvement, and we were glad to be in retirement. Even in this sheltered spot while we were ashore our large new enamel washing-basin was caught up by the wind and whirled overboard before it could be saved. We had a quiet night, and sailed at 9.30 A.M. the following morning.

"June 20. Running between Connection Island and Groote Island. Though the barometer was still very high, 30'22, the wind had much moderated, and we were able to set all sail again for the first time. As we ran down the coast we noticed several signal fires. The wind was contrary, and we had to beat all the way against a fresh breeze. There is a good channel with eight fathoms of water between Connection and Groote Island. The west coast of the island is low with a sandy foreshore and low wooded ranges behind. It seems to be rather poor country. At the south-western corner of the island a peninsula of low sandy hills runs out about four miles to the westward, and under it we found excellent anchorage in four-fathom water with soft bottom about half a mile from shore and about three miles to the northeast of a little round islet off the point of the peninsula. We saw several natives on shore, and two came off in a fine dug-out canoe which they propelled with powerful strokes. They were large, well-made men in splendid condition, but understood no word of English except the magic word 'Tabak.' We found from John Wesley, who includes some knowledge of Malay among his accomplishments, that the few words they used were Malay. They asked for rice in Malay, and we gave them some. I gave them some tobacco and flour, and then motioned to them to cast off the line we had thrown them as they were in danger of swamping. Soon after we anchored, a little after sunset and too late to go ashore. I noticed in the canoe only shell bailers and a flat stone containing a few burning sticks. This is a splendid refuge in southerly or easterly weather, being completely sheltered and with plenty of water. It is about sixty miles north-east of the Roper River mouth.

"June 21. After breakfast I landed with Mr. Ebbs, John Wesley, and Sam. Three natives came out in the canoe, but seeing us prepare to start, made for the shore and landed before us. Where we landed there was a high sand-ridge above the beach, then a hollow, and then a higher ridge. A number of natives showed on the ridge, watching us uneasily. They wear a string round the waist with a small bunch of threads about nine inches long. I left the rest of the party with the boat and walked towards the ridge. One man waited for me, but the others disappeared over the ridge. We walked up to the top of the first ridge and saw that the rest had retreated to the second ridge. When my companion saw this, and that the rest of our party were advancing from the boat his courage failed him, and to my great regret they all ran for their lives. We followed along the sand-ridges for about a mile to the east, finding many tracks of natives, to a large clump of shea-oaks on the beach, where we found fish-spears with a double wooden prong with carved wooden barbs, and several home-made fishing-lines; the only hook we saw had been made out of a large nail. Between the shea-oaks and the sea was a hole in the sand about two feet deep, just above high-water mark, containing fresh water. About a quarter of a mile inland we found the main camp, which had contained probably about forty persons. We found a neatly tied up parcel of opossum fur, a dilly-bag with two wooden knitting-needles, round which the work was neatly twisted, some feather and string ornaments, and several throwing-sticks. These latter are simply a short round stick with a peg for the spear, very inferior to the elaborate woomeras of the western coast of the Gulf. We found some Malay calico and three gin bottles marked 'Rotterdam.' I left tobacco, a bag of flour, some fish-hooks, and knives. A little way inland we found swampy country with pandanus-trees, the ground being soft and damp though we did not actually see any water. On our return to the place we had landed at we thoroughly enjoyed a bathe after our long tramp over the sandhills, for we went some way inland to get a better view. Before going off we had a closer look at the canoe. It was cut out of a single tree and was nineteen feet in length, with a freeboard of nine inches, rising sharply at prow and stern to eighteen inches, the stern being about four inches across; altogether a very serviceable boat. I brought away one of the three paddles, leaving a couple of knives and some fish-hooks in return. It was four feet six inches in length, with a long blade like an ordinary oar. We got back on board about noon, quite ready for dinner. In the afternoon the barometer for the first time showed symptoms of a fall. After tea the dinghy was got in and securely lashed down on deck in anticipation of a rough day to-morrow, and when Mr. Ebbs and I came on deck, about half-past seven, after saying Evensong, the captain said that the blacks were hanging round in the canoe again. I got the glasses and soon saw that she was empty and drifting and would soon be lost in the darkness. Orders were given to secure her, and in a few moments the dinghy was unlashed and got overboard, and the wandering canoe captured, taken ashore, and left well up on the beach, though the men found it a heavy job to carry her up. I was most thankful that she drifted so comparatively close to us and that she was seen, as the natives would have thought that we had taken or destroyed her.

"June 22. Sailed at 6 A.M. Wind and sea fresh. Sighted Maria Island, which is very high, at 12.30 P.M., and anchored close up under the land in two-fathom water at 4 P.M. Mr. Ebbs and I landed with one of the boys and shot a couple of plover. The island is covered with low bush and is about five miles long. We walked some distance along the beach and found a fine bay about two miles to the south-west. There seemed to be nothing on the island except birds, and they evidently saw few visitors. We had some difficulty in finding the bar of the river, which is almost out of sight of land, but did so finally.

"June 24. After a quiet night we woke to a light breeze and calm sea, and started at 6 A.M. Sailed slowly over the bar, on which we had nine feet of water, but there cannot be much over five feet at low-water spring tides. At the first beacon we had twelve feet, increasing farther in to eighteen feet and twenty feet. As we got to the mouth of the river the breeze almost died away, and for about an hour we had to tow the ship with the dinghy to give her steerage way, but after that a good breeze sprang up and we ran quickly up the river for twenty miles to a point where there is a small piece of bank about ten feet high. Here we found Mr. Macaulay, the police officer at the Roper, awaiting us in his boat. He had been five days coming down the seventy miles of river from the station, as they could only make progress when wind and tide were suitable. He had three aboriginals with him, one being Bob the Pilot, son of Old Bob the Pilot. We welcomed him warmly and, waiting till he got his things packed, took his boat in tow, and continued our progress up the river for another twelve miles, when, about 4.30 P.M., we noticed some natives on the north bank and anchored. Mr. Ebbs, Mr. Macaulay, and I went ashore, and found Old Bob the Pilot and a small camp of natives, to whom I presented a bag of flour and some tobacco, pointing out our Mission flag and telling them that it would return next year. I tried to explain the nature of the proposed Mission, but it was hard to get them to understand. We walked about a mile to look at the camp, a very primitive sort of affair. On the way Old Bob, who is intelligent and speaks fairly good English, tried hard to comprehend my business. Was I taking tucker for the police? Or for the station? Or was I looking for the copper stone? I told him I had simply come to see him and other blackfellows. He smiled incredulously, and I fear did not take in very much of my attempted explanation of the raison d'ĂȘtre of Christian missions. However, he gratefully accepted an offer of medicine for his inflamed eyes, and promised us store of crabs and mudfish for the morrow. We returned on board for tea, and felt much thankfulness that the first stage of our journey had been so successfully accomplished.

"June 25. A day of very slow progression. The river winds constantly in every direction, and we were over nine hours in creeping up about eighteen miles. We anchored at 7.30 P.M., soon after passing Harold's Bluff, near a little round island. Bob the Pilot was of great service to us in pointing out dangers. All the country up to this point is very poor, being flats liable to flood and with little water. At our anchorage here the water in the river is quite fresh. From what I learn from Mr. Macaulay much harm has been, and is being, done the natives by the Malay proas which visit the coast during the north-west season. They come without reporting anywhere, carry off the native women and supply the men with drink.

"June 26. Got under way early and ran over some very shallow flats. The water is quite fresh and the mangroves have been replaced by a great variety of trees. We kept going till 8 P.M., but only accomplished some twenty-five miles in all.

"June 27. Started at 6 A.M. towing the ship. Passed a very dangerous rocky corner just below wreck of Young Australian. The channel is narrow and the tide sweeps into a bight full of snags, which we with difficulty cleared by a few yards. It is far the worst place we have found on the river. The Young Australian was wrecked on a rock about three-quarters of a mile above here, some thirty years ago. Only the boiler and ironwork of the paddle-wheels now remain. We have just had a great excitement. The captain, who was steering, happened to look up at the main boom just over his head and saw a large tiger-snake making its way along it. There was a rush for marline-spikes and hammers, and with some difficulty the brute was killed. It must have come up the anchor-chain or the tow-rope1 of the dinghy in the night and ensconced itself in the furled sail. The sail had been loosed about half an hour previously, and it is most providential that no one was bitten. Fortunately the wind kept just strong enough to enable us to stem the tide, and the narrowing river, with snags all along each bank, required all the captain's skill in steering. About 4 P.M. we reached the bar of rocks which prevents further progress. It is not visible, and the river is only about a hundred feet wide at this point. Here Mr. Macaulay left us for the police station, which is four miles farther up the river, and I went ashore and shot a few parrots and a pigeon for our larder. It has taken us four days to come up from the bar outside the mouth, and I do not think that a sailing vessel can do it in much less time. It will probably take double that time to get down, but the captain is to do the worst part of this while we are away, and we are to ride down forty miles after him, as we wish him to take his own time in negotiating the dangerous places on the upper reaches.

"June 28. Before breakfast I went ashore and got from the natives a few spears with well-made quartzite heads. These heads come from the ranges to the W.S.W. After breakfast Mr. Ebbs and I rowed up the river about four miles to the police station, which is situated on the south bank just below a rocky bar which entirely blocks the river at this point and marks the end of tidal waters. Mr. Macaulay welcomed us, the other constable being away. The station boasts a small garden and a flock of about two hundred goats. After landing our goods we sent the boat back to the ship; and in the evening Mr. Macaulay kindly sent down a couple of goats. We found that unfortunately owing to the absence of men and horses it would be impossible to make a start on the following day, which was rather a disappointment.

"June 30. We did not start till 10.30 A.M., and so had time for service first. We crossed the river and went north-east to Knucky's Bluff on the Wilton. From here we followed the Wilton north for about eight miles, camping for dinner at the crossing. After dinner we crossed and travelled E.N.E. and N. over flat country, the first part of which was well watered. About dark we came to a creek where we intended to camp, but there was no water, and we went on for an hour and a half in the dark without coming to any sign of water. It was difficult work keeping the horses together in the dark, and the black boy who was supposed to be guiding us confessed that he had no idea of the way or where water was. There seemed every prospect of having to camp without it, when, changing our direction for about half a mile to the north, we blundered right on a small lagoon, to our infinite satisfaction. We got tea about 8 P.M., and afterwards said Evensong with difficulty by the light of pieces of burning bark. While we were riding along without any apparent prospect of finding water, I could not help re-echoing the hymn that so many congregations were, I knew, singing at that moment: "Lead, kindly Light "; and we were led.

"July 1. A very hard rough day. We got off at 9 A.M., and till 1 P.M. travelled down a well-watered creek running south-east. Finding we were far too much to the south we crossed the creek and struck north over the ranges. After a while we found a very old pad, supposed to be the old track from Lake Costello ten years ago to the Roper River at Rennie's Lagoon. Very rough travelling over the ranges, then down on to another creek, with narrow belt of fair grass alongside it. Ran it up for several miles, and camped 5 P.M. Distance about thirty miles, and as we did not stop for food or water we were rather tired, but refreshed by a bathe in the creek. Not a very good night, too tired to sleep very well.

"July 2. Left 8 A.M. Travelled north, four or five miles, up very rough ranges, with fine permanent pools of water but little grass. Splendid country for blacks, of whom we saw many traces, but did not see any. Either they kept out of sight or were all away, as they were reported to be at a great corroboree on the Wilton. At last our road was blocked by an enormous mass of rock. We tried another, and it came to a precipice. Evidently there was no thoroughfare for horses, and it was clear that the old station could not be among the ranges, so I told Mr. Macaulay that, as the next certain thing ahead was the northern coast of Australia, I thought we had better turn back, which we did, having failed to find the old station, which was not astonishing as nothing is left but a few stones which once made a chimney, and a few posts, if not eaten by white ants. There are little patches of scrub in the ranges, plenty of mussels, fish, flying foxes, birds, etc., but absolutely no cattle country for more than a very few head of stock here and there. The only merit of the country is that it is well watered, with large permanent holes. We turned back about 9.15 A.M., and retraced our path over the weary ranges, getting clear of them, by travelling as fast as possible, about 1 P.M., when we thankfully camped for dinner on a creek. We made a short stage in the afternoon, and camped at 4.15 P.M. for fear of finding no water after leaving the creek. Night pleasant and not too cold.

"July 3. Started about 8 A.M. After a while I noticed that Tom, the black trooper who was supposed to be our guide, was travelling steadily south mile after mile, making apparently for the end of a range in the far distance. I thought it strange, and called Mr. Ebbs's attention to the fact, for I knew that our proper course back lay only a little to the south of west. About half an hour later I was not surprised to see him stop and admit that he was completely bushed. Mr. Macaulay now took the lead and changed the course to due west, and for three hours we made our way through thick scrubby country, which made travelling very difficult and view of any kind impossible, while there was considerable risk of losing the pack-horses. This country is utterly useless for any purpose. We were fortunately able to find a low place to cross the range, and gradually descending through the same dense dry country we came out on the Wilton about 1 P.M., and camped on a magnificent water-hole for dinner, very glad to have at length got clear of our difficulties. We crossed the Wilton, running it down nearly to the junction with the Roper, and got back to the police station. We saw plenty of old fires and signs of blacks, but not one could be seen. Mr. Macaulay says that he thinks they suspect us of an intention to arrest them for cattle killing, and take them in the Francis Pritt to Port Darwin. Of course in such rough country it would be impossible to see them if they did not want to be seen. Mr. Macaulay has been most courteous and obliging in helping us in every way. We must have travelled well over a hundred miles in the four days, and for the most part over different country going and returning.

"July 4. I was very glad of a day's rest from riding, but had a busy day. I had asked Mr. R., the manager of Hodgson Downs, about fifty miles distant to the south, to come over and see me, and soon after breakfast he arrived with Mrs. R., their little boy, and a cavalcade of four stockmen, twelve black boys, and the wives of four of them, and over a hundred horses, all, except Mr. and Mrs. R., on their way to remove the last of the cattle from the Arafura station.

"Mrs. R. has probably one of the most isolated homes of any white women in Australia. We were very glad to see them, and took a number of photographs of the outfit, which is to be absent for six months. Mr. R. gave us a great deal of useful information and advice on the subject of the proposed Mission station. The blacks he had were splendidly made men, and all most smart and clean. In the evening we had service, which was attended by eight whites and sixteen civilized blacks, a record gathering for the Roper River. We had a very hearty service, though the singing left something to be desired. Mr. R.'s small son, who speaks chiefly black-fellow language, took much interest in the preparations for service, and confided to his mother, 'I think that fellow-man make big corroboree to-night.' We had hoped to start for the boat to-morrow morning, but to our disappointment some of the necessary horses cannot be found, and we shall have to wait with what patience we may.

"July 5. Got some writing done in the morning. In the afternoon I walked a mile or two up the river. Scenery very pretty--large trees and fine stretches of water.

"July 6. Left the station at 10 A.M., and at four miles crossed the Wilton just above tidal water. Down the north bank of the Roper River through eight miles of very poor country. Another four miles of rather better country brought us to a fine lagoon known as Yalwarra or Rennie's Lagoon. A crescent-shaped lake over two miles long runs round the base of some low hills and is covered with beautiful white lilies. It is about half a mile from the river, and the land between is high above flood mark, level, and well grassed, and would make a fine site for a house. After lunch we followed on down the river for another four miles, past a second fine lagoon, and soon after we caught sight of Mount St. George, four miles off. This is a table mountain, about three miles in length and six hundred feet high, with steep red bastion-like cliffs. The approach to the mountain through an open park-like country (but with poor, coarse grass) is very beautiful, and at the foot of the cliffs is an encircling lake, on which we camped for the night about sunset, having travelled about twenty-four miles.

"July 7. Left camp about 8 A.M. Very poor country for about four miles, the ranges coming in closely to the river, then the country opened out a little, and we passed several swamps and lagoons, but these all become salt at the end of a dry season, Mount St. George being the lowest permanent water on this side of the river--that is, over sixty miles from the sea. The lowest permanent water on the south bank is about ten miles farther down. At Yan Merri, about fourteen miles from Mount St. George, we passed a large swamp, the lowest fresh water on the river, but not really permanent. Here we found a small native village with grass mosquito-proof huts, and saw some natives who told us that the boat was about two miles farther down the river, where on arrival about 1 P.M. we found she had been waiting three days, having experienced great difficulty in getting over the flats off Garden Island even at high water. The crew had been luxuriating in ducks, and we found a plentiful supply for dinner.

"The tide turned about 3 P.M., so we said good-bye to Mr. Macaulay, with many thanks for his most valuable assistance, and set off on our homeward voyage. We made slow progress, and found the river very shallow in places, but by dark we had made eight miles and passed most of the bad corners. We anchored at dusk in fear of snags; after tea we had all the crew in to service and I told them all about our inquiries and researches on behalf of the Mission, in which they seemed much interested. A number of friends of Bob the Pilot accompanied us for some miles along the bank, headed by Old Bob the Pilot bearing a precious kerosine tin which the captain had presented to him.

"July 8. Off soon after 6 A.M. Made about ten miles, and passed the last of the rocks before the tide failed at 10 A.M. Anchored and landed through the thick mangrove on to big open plain with bare salt pan and patches of grass. Found fresh-water lagoon, but not permanent. Found Old Bob and his tribe, who had crossed the river higher up. Bob inquired as to how many months it would be before we returned, and announced his intention of coming to stay with us when we did.

"I found in the camp two hollow pelican bones carefully stowed away. Bob said that they were to carry poison in 'to mix with tucker of man you not like, all same as white man,' at which proof of high civilization he seemed much amused.

"Here we parted from Young Bob the Pilot, who had grown quite fat during his sojourn on board, and is really a fine-looking man. We are now about twenty-five miles from the mouth of the river.

"July 9. Soon after we got under way I shot an alligator on the bank. He gave several kicks and disappeared into the water. We made slow but steady progress, the river being now wide enough to beat, and had just enough light left to make the north head of the river. A dingo came down to the bank and howled at us, the only one we have seen or heard on this trip. The Pritt took eight days' actual travelling to descend the river.

"July 10. We sailed at 6 A.M., and beat out four miles to the inner side of the bar, but had to anchor in very shallow water as the tide was too low. The wind and sea were violent, and we passed a very unpleasant time, but fortunately had just enough water. At noon we made another start, and spent two hours beating out the two miles across the bar--wind, and sea, and tide all against us. The channel is very narrow, and on one side all, and on the other most of, the beacons are gone, so that everything has to be done by the lead, the water being so thick and muddy that it is impossible to see anything; the water would shoal sometimes a fathom quicker than the lead could be thrown, so it may be imagined that beating out under these circumstances was no joke, and every one heaved a sigh of relief when an extra half-fathom told us that we were well over the bar. It was well we got out when we did, without waiting for the tide to turn, as after we got out it blew harder than ever. The wind was due east, the direction in which we wanted to go, so we made little progress, but beat up as far as Maria Island, which we reached about an hour after dark, anchoring in still water--a great contrast to the continual buffeting of the day. We are looking forward to a rough time crossing, and so hope to make the most of our night's rest. There are various outlying reefs and rocks, which make it unsafe to proceed in the dark, so we can enjoy our quiet night with a clear conscience.

"July 15. I summarize the four last melancholy and unprofitable days. We left Maria Island at 7 A.M. on Thursday, and as soon as we got clear of the island ran into a heavy sea, which increased in violence as we got farther from the land. For three days it was impossible to stand, or to cook any proper food, and the deck was constantly swept by the sea. The binnacles broke loose, and we nearly lost both our compasses, and John Wesley with them, overboard. Several seas found their way below, and altogether we had a very miserable time. On Sunday, though the sea was still high, we were able to stay on deck and begin to enjoy life again; and the Monday morning, when we were some thirty miles south-west of Duyfhen Point, all was bright and pleasant again. From here fortune smiled upon us. We passed the Coen River at 6 P.M. and Booby Island at 9 A.M. the following morning, arriving at Thursday Island at 8 P.M., after a long wait for the tide."

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