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DISCOVERY]
959
AUSTRALIA

quite as unfavourable as Pelsaert’s. He described it as barren and sterile, and almost devoid of animals, the only one of any importance somewhat resembling a raccoon—a strange creature, which advanced by great bounds or leaps instead of walking, using only its hind legs, and covering 12 or 15 ft. at a time. The reference is, of course, to the kangaroo, which Pelsaert had also remarked and quaintly described some sixty years previously.

During the interval elapsing between Dampier’s two voyages, an accident led to the closer examination of the coasts of Western Australia by the Dutch. In 1684 a vessel had sailed from Holland for the Dutch possessions in the East Indies, and after rounding the Cape of Good Hope, she was never again heard of. Some twelve years afterwards the East India Company fitted out an expedition under the leadership of Commander William de Vlamingh, with the object of searching for any traces of the lost vessel on the western shores of New Holland. Towards the close of the year 1696 this expedition reached the island of Rottnest, which was thoroughly explored, and early the following year a landing party discovered and named the Swan river. The vessels then proceeded northward without finding any traces of the object of their search, but, at the same time, making fairly accurate charts of the coast-line.

The great voyage of Captain James Cook, in 1769-1770, was primarily undertaken for the purposes of observing the transit of Venus, but he was also expressly commissioned to ascertain “whether the unexplored part of the Cook. southern hemisphere be only an immense mass of water, or contain another continent.” H.M.S. “Endeavour,” the vessel fitted out for the voyage, was a small craft of 370 tons, carrying twenty-two guns, and built originally for a collier, with a view rather to strength than to speed. Chosen by Cook himself, she was renamed the “Endeavour,” in allusion to the great work which her commander was setting out to achieve. Mr Charles Green was commissioned to conduct the astronomical observations, and Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Solander were appointed botanists to the expedition. After successfully observing the transit from the island of Tahiti, or Otaheite, as Cook wrote it, the “Endeavour’s” head was turned south, and then north-west, beating about the Pacific in search of the eastern coast of the great continent whose western shores had been so long known to the Dutch. On the 6th of October 1769 the coast of New Zealand was sighted, and two days later Cook cast anchor in Poverty Bay, so named from the inhospitality and hostility of the natives.

After voyaging westward for nearly three weeks, Cook, on the 19th of April 1770, sighted the eastern coast of Australia at a point which he named after his lieutenant, who discovered it, Point Hicks, and which modern geographers identify with Cape Everard.

The “Endeavour” then coasted northward, and after passing and naming Mount Dromedary, the Pigeon House, Point Upright, Cape St George and Red Point, Botany Bay was discovered on the 28th of April 1770, and as it appeared to offer a suitable anchorage, the “Endeavour” entered the bay and dropped anchor. The ship brought-to opposite a group of natives, who were cooking over a fire. The great navigator and his crew, unacquainted with the character of the Australian aborigines, were not a little astonished that these natives took no notice of them or their proceedings. Even the splash of the anchor in the water, and the noise of the cable running out through the hawse-hole, in no way disturbed them at their occupation, or caused them to evince the slightest curiosity. But as the captain of the “Endeavour” ordered out the pinnace and prepared to land, the natives threw off their nonchalance; for on the boat approaching the shore, two men, each armed with a bundle of spears, presented themselves on a projecting rock and made threatening signs to the strangers. It is interesting to note that the ingenious wommera, or throw-stick, which is peculiar to Australia, was first observed on this occasion. As the men were evidently determined to oppose any attempt at landing, a musket was discharged between them, in the hope that they would be frightened by the noise, but it produced no effect beyond causing one of them to drop his bundle of spears, of which, however, he immediately repossessed himself, and with his comrade resumed the same menacing attitude. At last one cast a stone towards the boat, which earned him a charge of small shot in the leg. Nothing daunted, the two ran back into the bush, and presently returned furnished with shields made of bark, with which to protect themselves from the firearms of the crew. Such intrepidity is certainly worthy of passing notice. Unlike the American Indians, who supposed Columbus and his crew to be supernatural beings, and their ships in some way endowed with life, and were thrown into convulsions of terror by the first discharge of firearms which they witnessed, these Australians were neither excited to wonder by the ship nor overawed by the superior number and unknown weapons of the strangers. Cook examined the bay in the pinnace, and landed several times; but by no endeavour could he induce the natives to hold any friendly communication with him. The well-known circumstance of the great variety of new plants here obtained, from which Botany Bay derives its name, should not be passed over. Before quitting the bay the ceremony was performed of hoisting the Union Jack, first on the south shore, and then near the north head, formal possession of the territory being thus taken for the British crown. During the sojourn in Botany Bay the crew had to perform the painful duty of burying a comrade—a seaman named Forby Sutherland, who was in all probability the first British subject whose body was committed to Australian soil.

After leaving Botany Bay, Cook sailed northward. He saw and named Port Jackson, but forbore to enter the finest natural harbour in Australia. Broken Bay and other inlets, and several headlands, were also seen and named, but the vessel did not come to an anchor till Moreton Bay was reached, although the wind prevented Cook from entering this harbour. Still sailing northward, taking notes as he proceeded for a rough chart of the coast, and landing at Bustard and Keppel Bays and the Bay of Inlets, Cook passed over 1300 m. without the occurrence of any event worthy of being chronicled, till suddenly one night at ten o’clock the water was found to shoal, without any sign of breakers or land. While Cook was speculating on the cause of this phenomenon, and was in the act of ordering out the boats to take soundings, the “Endeavour” struck heavily, and fell over so much that the guns, spare cables, and other heavy gear had at once to be thrown overboard to lighten the ship. As day broke, attempts were made to float the vessel off with the morning tide; but these were unsuccessful. The water was rising so rapidly in the hold that with four pumps constantly going the crew could hardly keep it in check. At length one of the midshipmen suggested the device of “fothering,” which he had seen practised in the West Indies. This consists of passing a sail, attached to cords, and charged with oakum, wool, and other materials, under the vessel’s keel, in such a manner that the suction of the leak may draw the canvas into the aperture, and thus partially stop the vent. This was performed with great success, and the vessel was floated off with the evening tide. The land was soon after made near the mouth of a small stream, which Cook called, after the ship, the Endeavour river. A headland close by he named Cape Tribulation. The ship was steered into the river, and there careened and thoroughly repaired. Cook having completed the survey of the east coast, to which he gave the name of New South Wales, sighted and named Cape York, the northernmost point of Australia, and took final possession of his discoveries northward from 38° S. to 10½° S., on a spot which he named Possession Island, thence returning to England by way of Torres Straits and the Indian Ocean.

The great navigator’s second voyage, undertaken in 1772, with the “Resolution” and the “Adventure,” is of less importance. The vessels became separated, and both at different times visited New Zealand. Captain Tobias Furneaux, in the “Adventure,” also found his way to Storm Bay in Tasmania. In 1777, while on his way to search for a north-east passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Cook again touched at the coast of Tasmania and New Zealand.