15 November 1769
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15 November 1769

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Joseph Banks



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in Falconer's Dictionary of the Marine
15 November 1769

Wednesday, 15th In the evening I went in the Pinnace and landed upon one of the Island that lies off of the South head of the Bay, with a View to see if I could not discover any sunken rocks or other dangers lying before the entrence of the bay as there was a pretty large swell at this time. The Island we landed upon was very small yet there was were upon it a Village the Inhabitants of which received us with very friendly,    this little Village was laid out in small oblong squares and each pallisaded round, The Island afforded no fresh water and was only accessible on one side, from this I concluded that it was not choose for any conveniencey it could afford them but for its natural strength —

At 7 AM weigh'd with a light breeze at West and clear weather, and made sail out of the Bay steering N.E. for the Northeastermost of a number of Islands lying off the North Point of the Bay, these Islands are of various extent and ly scattered to the N, NW in a parallel diriction with the Main as far as we could see. I was at first afraid to go within them thinking that there was no safe Passage.   but I afterwards thought that we might and I would have attempted it but the wind comeing to the NW prevented it; so that we was were obliged to Stand out to sea. At Noon was in the Latitude of 36°..46' So The northermost Island above mentioned bore North distant half a League, the Court of Aldermen SBE SEBS distt 6 Leagues and the Bay Saild from ^which I have named Mercury Bay, on accot of the observn be[ing] made there SWBW distant 6 Miles. Great part of the land adjoining to the place where we lay is called by the Natives          others parts have distinct names to them selves but I have choose this for the whole Bay because of its more easy pronunciation but I have preserved all the others in the Plan of the Bay

The ^Mercury Bay of                          lies in the Latitude of 36°..47' So and in the Longitude of 184°.. 4' Wt from the Meridion of Greenwich. but its Longitude will be more accurately determined from the Observation of the Transit of Mercury This Bay ^it lies in SW between 2 & 3 Leagues.    there are several Islands lying both to the Southward and northward of it and a small high Island or Rock in the Middle of the entrance    Within this Island the depth of water doth no where exceed 9 or 8 fathom - The best anchorage is in a sandy bay which lies just within the south head, in  4  5 and 4 fm bringing a high tower rock which lies without the head in one with the head, or just shut in behind it; here it is very convenient Wooding and watering, and ^in the River are an immence quantity of Oysters and other small shell fish, and this is the only thing it is remarkable fore and hath occasioned my giving it the name of Oyster River —

But the Snugest and safest place for a Ship to lay in that wants to stay here any time is in the River at the head of the Bay and where there are every conveniency the place can afford. To sail ^up and into it keep the south shore all the way on board. As we did not learn that the Natives had any name for this River I have calld it the River of Man groves because of the great quantity of these trees that are found in it — The Country on the SE side of this River and Bay is very barren produceing little else but Fern and such other Plants as delight in a poor - soil. The land on the NW side is pretty well cover'd with Wood, the soil more fertile and would no doubt produce the necessarys of life was it cultivated    however thus much must be said againest it, that it is not near so rich and fertile as the lands we have seen to Southward, and the same may be said of its Inhabitants who altho pretty numerous are poor to the highest degree when compar'd ^to others we have seen.   they have no plantations but live wholy on Fern roots and fish,  their Canoes are mean and without ornament, and so are their houses or hutts    and in general every thing they have about them.   This may be owing to the frequent wars in which they are certainly ingaged, strong proofs of this we have seen, for the people who resided near the place where we wooded and who slept every night in the open air place'd themselves in such a manner when they laid down to sleep as plainly shewed that it was necessary for them to be always upon their guard. They do not own subjection to Teeratu the Arree Earee de hi: but say that he would kill them was he to come a mong them,   they confirm the custom of eating their enimies so that this is a thing no longer to be doubted. I have before observed that ^many of the people about this ^bay had no fix'd habitations and we thought so then, but have sence learnt that they have strong holds or Hippa's as they call them, which they retire to in time of danger —

We found thrown upon the Shore in several places in this Bay quantities of Iron Sand which is brought down out of the Country by almost every little frish water brook.   this proves that there must be of that ore not far inland — Neither the Inhabitants of this place or any other where we have been know the use of Iron, or set the least Value upon it, prefering the most trifleing thing we could give them to a nail or any sort of Iron tools. Before we left this Bay we cut out upon one of the trees near the watering place, the Ships Name, date &Ca and after displaying the English Colours I took formal posession of the place in the name of His Majesty —

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