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On this day ...
27 April - 14 May 1770

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James Cook
Joseph Banks

New Holland


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New Holland (continued)

The natives often reconnoitred us, but we could not prevail on them to come near us or to be social; for, as soon as we advanced, they fled as nimbly as deer, excepting at one time, when they seemed determined to face us: then they came armed with spears, having their breasts painted white; but, as soon as they saw our boat go off from the ship, they retreated. Constrained by hunger, they often came into the bay to fish; but they kept in the shallows, and as near as possible to the shore. In one of their houses, at the top of the bay, we had laid some nails, pieces of cloth, and various trinkets; and though the natives had been there in our absence, yet they had not taken any of them.

This bay is in latitude 34° 6, and makes a good harbour, being only two or three points open to the eastward; but the water is in general shallow; and it has several arms extending from it, which are also shallow. On these shallows we found a great number of rays, some shell-fish, and a few sharks. The rays are of an enormous size: one of them which we caught weighed two hundred and thirty-nine pounds, and another three hundred and twenty-six. They tasted very much like the European rays, and the viscera had an agreeable flavour, not unlike stewed turtle. These rays, and shell-fish, are the natives chief food.

The country is very level and fertile; the soil, a kind of grey sand; and the climate mild: and though it was the beginning of winter when we arrived, every thing seemed in perfection. There is a variety of flowering shrubs; a tree that yields gum; and a species of palm, [Borasus flabellifer,] the berries of which are of two sorts; one small, eaten by the hogs, and the other, as large as a cherry, has a stone in it; it is of a pale crimson colour, and has the taste of a sweet acid. We also found a species of Salvia Fortea.

We met with but one quadruped on the Island, which was about the size of a hare: we found also the skin of a snake, and saw a great number of birds of a beautiful plumage; among which were two sorts of parroquets, and a beautiful briquet: we shot a few of them, which we made into a pie, and they ate very well. We also met with a black bird, very much like our crow, and shot some of them too, which also tasted agreeably. From the number of curious plants we met with on shore, we called the bay Botany-Bay.

Having got on board a good stock of hay for our sheep, on the 6th of May we weighed anchor, and left this bay. On this day, Forbes Sutherland, a native of the Orkneys, who had departed this life, was carried on shore, and decently interred.

Having only moderate breezes from the N. and N.E. we made but little way till the 9th. In the evening of that day we saw two of the most beautiful rainbows my eyes ever beheld: the colours were strong, clear, and lively; those of the inner one were so bright as to reflect its shadow on the water. They formed a complete semicircle; and the space between them was much darker than the rest of the sky.

In latitude 32° 51, on the 10th, the land appeared considerably higher, and more broken, very sandy, and less fertile. We saw several clusters of islands; among which, it is probable, there may be some good harbours.

On the 11th, we passed high broken land, having several distinct peaks and hills, an extensive flat along the shore covered with pretty large trees, and a sandy beach. We saw also many snakes, and three remarkable hills, which we called The Three Brothers. Latitude 32° 2.

On the 14th, latitude 30° 22, the land appeared high, and well covered with wood; but, being three or four leagues from it, we could not distinguish many particulars upon it, though we saw clouds of smoke arise from different dis-tant parts of the country. The wind was very variable after our leaving the last bay, and we had some calms. The wind hangs mostly between the N. and E. on this coast, blows very gently, and then dies away to a stark calm; but this day we had a fresh breeze from the S.W.

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© Derived from the London 1773 edition printed for Stanfield Parkinson, pages 135 - 136, 2004
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