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Bass in the Famous Whaleboat Voyage.
The Discovery of the Shoalhaven River.
By , FRED. J. BROOMFIELD.
GEORGE BASS, the Lincolnshire
suigeon of H B M S Eohance. was a very careful observer, and an acute reasoner of the inductive t}pe But, indeed, m these particulars he shared with all the old mariners, for each and ever} one of them possessed a lemarkable duectness of vision, combined with a good capacity for desenbing the things seen ' Of Kiama it has been illitciatnely said by some eaily admirct that it is ' famous for its beauty, its but tei, its basalt, and its ' Blow Hole ' " Bass thus describes the 'Blow Hole" when he was "obliged to stop in a small bight a little south of Alovvrio ' (the native designation of the Wollongong district) -
'The points of land here aie basaltic, and, on looking around amongst the black rocks, scatteted ovei a hollow, circular space behind the shoie, 1 found a hole, of 2oft or 30ft in diamctci, into which the sea îushed by a subteiraneous pas safce, with a most tiemendous noise '
But Bass was cagot to examine more e osel the coast he had but cursonly sun e}ed in the company of his friend, Hinders, on the brief passage south waids ni the tiny Tom lliunib To this projected voyage, we find in the quaint official language of the period a reference m a despatch from Gqvetnot Hunter to Sccretai} Nepean, dated September J,
He (Suigeon Bass) was desuous of tiacing the coast along m the boat, and to mai c what observations he might be able lelativc to haibouis oi anchorage 1 fitted out a good whaleboat for him, victual d her, and man'd to his wish He went southward along the coast and, on nnding when he had got the length of Cape Howe that the shoie lucbn'd west ward, he continued to trace it along until he carne to a steep and high pio montory ' (Wilson's Promontoiy), 'in
lit tilde 39 dc-ueos S"
lo the Duke of Poitland, Secretar} of State, among whose multiple duties was
the administration of the Affairs of the Colonies," Governor Hunter had alieady
"Whilst this whaleboat was absent I had occasion to send the Colonial Schooner to the southward to take on board the remaining property saved from the wreck of the ship S}dno} Cove and to take the crew from the island she had been cast upon I sent in the schooner Lieut Hinders in order to give bun an opportunity of making what ob tcivationg he could amongst those islands, and the discovery which was made there bl lum and Mi Hamilton, the master of the w recked ship, shall be annexed to tho=p of Mi Bass in one chait, and for warded lo }oui Grace herewith, bv which I picsume it will appear that" the land called Van Diemen's and generally sup posed to be the southern promontory of this counti} i a group of islands sepai alec! fiom its southern coast by a strait"
It will bo seen from the tenor of his ] xcelloncv's despatches to the noble head of the Colonial branch of the War Depaitment how great a value he placed on the joint and individual sei vices , of two explorers and geographers
such a« were Ba«« and Phndcrs
The Famous Whaleboat
rPHJ vv h dobo it vo}a"i hid i bl,; le
suit in inlliieiieiiig the futiiu de vclopment of the South Coast, for in this wolds of Governor nuntci", Bass "ex ilorod cicrj accessible placo until lie carno as fal as the toutherninoit pal ti
of thiB coast, seen by Captain Cook ' Again, " He coasted the greatest part of the way, and sedulously examined eveiy inlet along the shore, which does not in these parts afford a single harbour fit to admit even a small vessel, except a bay called JarviáS Bay ' AVith six seamen and six weeks provision!,, Bass set out fiom Port Jackson in i whale
boat on Sundaj, December % 1797, being then, accoidtng to a personal reference U years of age On 5th instant he passed the Five Islands (Wollongong, 01
'Alowne"-as the district was termed by the natnes), Ijing off nat Hill (Mount Keira), just sunset, but on Oth instant ho went into a bight and j anchoied-probably somewhat north of
what is now Kiama He wrote in his log of the vojago -"The shore of tins bight, and also for some distance on each side of it bears evident maiks of volcan'c fne Seveial of the little heads and points arc of n basaltic nature, some lnegulai, others columnar basáltica Upon landing I perceived neal the extremity of one of the heads the rocks lying scat- tered about m a »eiy irregular mannet, and upon examination it appealed that a volcanic eruption had formerly taken place there The earth for a consider- able distante round, in a form approach- ing that of a oircle seemed to have given way, and it was now a green slope " This was the site of the famous "blowhole" of Kiama, to »vhich reference has been already made "Nothing can be said as to the soil for the easternmost part of the Blue Mountains comes to the sea here " 'J his range is non know n as the Illawilla Range, and nins in i noilh cisteily duection from Kangaloon to the coastline near Coalcliff, the scene of the first tlisco»eij of coal in Australia On December 7 Bass notes in his ¡og -" At lip issed Long Nose Point, to tile Bonth ward of which the coast bight backs con siderablj to the westward, and forms ii long baj, tihose southern extrenutj is terminated at Cape St Geoige" Long Nose and RciWoints were the last names bestowed by Captaifj Cook on his north waul vovage, befoie ho made his anchor- age in Botany Bay
The Discovery of the
AT a o'clock on the afternoon ol De
comber 7, 1707, Bass saw an opening in the bottom of the baj, and, judging it to be an inlet, ian down thcicto, but was i on aided bj finding only a blnl'on lagoon, v»ith a bar bieakmg all across Us mouth The whacboat was rowed there fore along the ba» towaids i looky pio jcctnig point that promised fan foi
ilfordmg shelter In an hour the point was mule, and a btnall ri»ei was found, into which the boat was io»ved lins little place," writes Bass "which deserves no bettei i name than Shoals lliven, for it is not propellj a liver, is very nu^ow it the entrance, the south side of which is foimed by the rocky point and the noilh by a breaking spit of sand that mrs out fiom a sandy point, within it widen", but the channel, though deep, s vety small, the greatoi part hemg filled up by shoals of mud and sand The countij lound it is in genet ii low md swamp», mel the soil for the most put 's neb md ¿ood, but seemingl» ninth subjeil ti extensive inundations llieie ti" lion eiei .it nix to eight miles bntk nom the head of the webt bl inch man» thousand acres di open ground which ncvci can be oieiilowcd whose soil is a nch vegetable mould llitbt exttns ve opciim.,» mus' foiincilj have hecu swamps, bjt now
filled up by repeated floodings and the annual decay of the vegetable growth. Patches and points of trees! the islands and points of the former swamps still
romain to show what the country has once been. The vicinity of that body of mountains which we call the Blue Mountains" (a mistake, however, of Bass's), "does not a little contribute to- wards keeping this part of the 'lowland wetter than it would otherwise be. From Long Nose Point they run inland about S.W., and form to the country hore as complete a barrier to thO|north and west as they do at Port Jackson to the south and west." Bass's "ShonlH naven" is now known as Crookhaven, the former title, or rather a modification of it, being conferred on the river, of which, as our explorer remarks:
"The ohannel being unequal to carry off the waters which descended from the high back land, the banks are overflowed, and the low country to the south, and west is inundated and fructified." Be- tween 25 and 30 years afterwards Alex- ander Berry and Hamilton nume remem- bered Bnss's very capable report on ¿'.io district, and turned it to profit.
The Shoalhaven of To-dayi
BASS, during his examination of
the country back of the arm, he called "Shoals Haven," fell in with a branch which, upon tracing it down to the sea, .he found to be the main stream of the barred lagoon that the whaleboat had attempted to enter, and failed so to do, notwithstanding the efforts of scl'en stalwart men. He found that this stream ran for about nine or ten miles . west- ward, until it struck upon the mountains lying south-west, and then entered them with high, rocky banks, similar to those of the Grose, the Tench (now known as the Nepean\¡ and George's Hivers, on the Sydney side of the Blue Mountains. The south bank of this arm Bass found to bo a "slip of 6oil," exactly resembling the banks of the Hawkesbury, while at its back lay the extensive plains to
which he had in his log, already re- ferred. With remarkable foresight lie
"However capable the soil of this coun-
try might, upon a more accurate^ investi- gation, be found to bo of agricultural improvement, certain it is that the diffi- culty of shipping off the produce must ever remain a bar to its colonisation. A nursery of cattle might, perhaps, be car- ried on here with advantage, and that sort of produce ships off itself."
Alexander Berry overcame Bais's ship- ping difficulty by cutting the first canal over constructed in Australia. In other respects, Surgeon Bass's estimate of the Shoalhaven district hi excellent. But, so far, he was only on the margin of his voyage, which did not stop on its out- ward conree until the intrepid young explorer bad aelded Western Port to his trophies of maritime discovery.
The great Norlh-Wost, with its inevit- able association with the famous Mounted Polico Force, provides inexhaustible nu towal for books appealing lo etho imagina- tion, and "Beyond the Outposts" (Hut- chinson), by Mr. James Jl. Hendry, cm rank with the best of them. It i? an adventure story, full of human interés1;, aud ¡Is scenes, mainly in Iho wilds of the River Mackensic, are done with re-