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We are indebted to the polite attention of an officer of H. M. Surveying Brig Beagle for the subjoined interesting ob- servations made during the Beagle's late visit to Bass' Straits. To the general reader the information cannot fail to be interesting, while to the sailor and the mercantile world generally it must be of the utmost importance:-
From the directions accompanying the charts now extant, it would appear that the currents run strong about Cape Howe and the entrance of the Straits, but although we had no observation for three days, by allowing a set of half to three quarters of a mile due south, our position was within three miles when making the land. The soundings are of great benefit to a vessel passing through the Straits to the westward, the water decreasing gradually from about half-way to Cape Howe, with fine sandy bottom. From Kent's Group, which are high and ter-
minate in steep bluffs, the depth increases and is not so regular until you have passed Rodondo Island and approach the northern shore, when soundings are again useful in hazy weather, but as the land is moderately high and steep to off the pro-
jecting points, the depth of water is seldom under twenty fathoms close in. From Cape Schanck which is the termination of the range and has a small rock off it a cable's length ; the coast is considerably
lower, with small hillocks of good soil covered with verdure, stretching as far as Point Nepean ; this with Point Lons- dale, forms the entiance to Port Phillip. A reef of rocks extends off each of these Points to the distance of half a mile, narrowing the channel very considerably. The best mark for sailing in, is, to bring a dark patch of bushes on the beach of Swan Point land on with, or a little open of Shortland Bluff, and run in on that bearing until the flat topped hill about seven miles to the westward is just clear of Point Lonsdale, then run towards the banks of Point Swan, or along the south shore where the anchorage is good in any part. The tide in the narrows at the entrance runs at the rate of two knots, and causes a heavy rip with the ebb and a fresh southerly wind. The soil we found to be exceedingly good both on Point Nepean and the opposite shore, the latter particularly, has the appearance of a park kept in good condition but no water was found.
From Port Phillip we coasted along towards Cape Otway, from one to four miles off shore. The country appears tolerably good in the interior, sloping downs terminating in bold cliffy projec- tions, with small sand bays between until abreast of Cape Patton ; thence there is a sudden change to high well-wooded hills reaching close to the shore. These hills run towards Cape Otway becoming gradually lower in the vicinity of the Cape, indeed it may be said that Cape Otway is the termination of this range of hills. About two miles E. N. E. from Cape Otway (which is a bluff headland of about 400 feet) there is a low sandy point, off which a few rocks extend to the S. E. to the distance of half a mile ; there are no other dangers that we saw along this coast, but there is no sheltered anchorage for vessels. A small stream of water was seen on the south side of a rocky point, a few miles south of Cape Patton. We were surprised to find a neat looking cottage on some rising ground, on the S. E. side of a bay be- tween New Year's Islands and the Main.
On landing we found it to be the residence of a Captain Smith, who had settled there about three years ago with his sons and two labourers, whom we observed on the Northern Island engaged in collecting the Mutton Bird and its eggs for the
family's consumption. Captain Smith had named the bay Port Franklin, after the present Governor of Van Dieman's Land. Capt. S. had preferred this bay
because it afforded the best anchorage ; Port Franklin scarcely deserves the name of a Port although it affords tolerable anchorage being only exposed to the N.
and N. E. winds. There is water in
abundance on the east of these Islands and convenient landing at all times ; a vessel can anchor in safety in ten fathoms about half a mile from the shore, bring-
ing the north end to the northernmost island to bear N N. W.
On the west side of King's Island, is a deep bay on the north side of a cliffy point miles from the south ex- tremity of the island, with a mixed bot- tom of sand and clay and good anchorage
in about sixteen fathoms. Between these bays the land is moderately high, sloping gradually towards the coast, which is much cut up by the heavy sea that is constantly rolling on the shore ; many scattered rocks lie off it, and about the centre of the island off a projecting point there are breakers stretching out to the extent of four miles. Between the bay of Seals and the deep bay above alluded to, the coast is bolder and more cliffy falling gradually towards the extreme point which terminates in a low flat ledge of rocks with
a few sand hillocks on it. The tide runs
strong off this point and for some miles off has the appearance of heavy breakers ; judging by its appearance from the shore a vessel might come within a mile and a half of the extreme point without danger.
Seal Bay is situated on the east side of this point, and affords a tolerable an- chorage with south-westerly winds, but if more southerly than S. W. a tumbling sea sets in. There is no danger in enter- ing this Bay except from a sunken rock about half a cable's length S. W. from the Seal Rocks, which may be passed on either side. The water shoals gradually towards the sandy beach in the depth of the Bay. A small vessel might with safety lie sheltered by the point with the wind as far as S. S. E. The small sized kangaroo abound on this Point. The coast for several miles towards the N. E. presents alternately rocky points and small sandy bays, fronted by numerous outlying rocks and thickly-wooded hills from 300 to 500 feet in height and reach- ing close to the coast, this, indeed, is the general feature as far as Sea Elephant Bay, about half way up the east side of the Island, in which there is good an- chorage in 7 fathoms with a sandy bottom.
From King's Island we proceeded in the direction of the Hunters' Isles. About _ miles from the S. E. point of King's Island are Reid's Rocks, which are exceedingly dangerous, the northern being the only one visible, it is about half a mile long, and stretches S. E. and N. W., forming a sort of saddle, not more than 20 feet above the sea ; the rest are just awash with the sea breaking on them at a furious rate; the cluster extends about two miles from the highest one. It would be dangerous in the ex- treme for a vessel to attempt to approach these rocks, unless she could command a strong breeze, for should it fall calm and the vessel get drifted among them, the
slightest chance would not remain for a single soul escaping to tell the tale.
Between Barren and Three-Hummocks
Islands there is a sandy Bay, on the west side of the latter, and anchorage in four fathoms ; there is abundance of wood
and fresh water obtainable on these is- lands, and excellent anchorage off both as far to the south as the extreme of the latter; from thence, as two small islands are approached, shoals and sand banks be- gin to make their appearance, and stretch into the shore of Van Dieman's Land. There is a settlement formed near Cape Grim, a branch of the Van Dieman's Land Agri-
cultural Company, whose principal estab- lishment is at Circular Head, which is doing exceedingly well ; the cattle and sheep were thriving, and the crops pro- mising fair. The passage to the south- ward of Barren Island is strewed with
clusters of rocks, both above aand at the surface of the water, and though at the south end of Barren Island, the depth is upwards of twenty fathoms, it appears any thing but an inviting place for a ves- sel to pass through. The Hummock Island is nearly covered with an almost impenetrable brushwood, nevertheless we succeded in finding a fresh water lake of about a mile in circumference, situated at the back of a long sandy beach, on the
N. W. side of the island. We also dis- covered the wreck of a foreign built ves-
sel, of about 100 tons burthen, on the beach, off which the ship anchored. From the appearance of the channel be- tween Robins Island and Van Dieman's Land, it seems to be shallow, and only navigable for boats or small craft. The general appearance of the island is low with grassy, sandy hills, but in shore, off Cape Guyton, (the eastern point of
Robins' Island,) is a well wooded ridge of hills about 400 feet in height. With the
exception of the bank stretching off the N. E. part of the island, nothing seems to prevent a vessel standing within half a mile of the shore ; the anchorage is good any where along the east side of
the island. The main coast from thence towards Circular Head, is low, and sandy ; at the northern extreme a, stormy ledge runs off about half a mile, from the shade, on which the ship grounded ; in rounding the point, close under the north side of the Circular Head is a sandy bay, in which anchorage is to be obtained in 7 fathoms. This remarkable and ap- propriately named Headland, is situated on the east side of a promontory, jutting
out from the main land of Van Dieman's
Land, and almost separated from it by narrow creeks, making their way into the low connecting Isthmus. It is a steep, cliffy precipice, about feet high, nearly level at the top, and thickly wooded. On each side of it are two sandy bays, where vessels may anchor sheltered from westerly winds ; but, with the wind at 'all from the eastward, no vessel of any burden would be in safety The land slopes gradually ; forms a head to the northward, and terminates in a low rocky projection, off which are sunken rocks, to the distance of a mile or more. A good berth should be given to this point, on rounding, as the sound- ings are irregular, and d» not indicate the approach to danger. On a hill over the north side of the bay, is situated the town of Flyfield, the establishment of the
Van Dieman's Land Company, under the superintendence of a Mr. Curr ; it consists of about ninety persons, and is formed for the sole purpose of Agricul-
ture, the profits being reaped by the Company alone. It was pleasing indeed, to see the condition of the colony; every thing appeared of the best description
the ground in the neighbourhood of the
town is only partially cleared, but neat- ness and arrangement every where meet the eye. The only thing that did no seem in unison, was the extensive scale of the superintendent's house and gar- dens, with a park adjoining, in which we observed several deer feeding
The river Tamar is difficult of ac-
cess owing to the rapid tides setting directly across the banks, and the pilot should be always in readiness to board a vessel when about a mile from the entrance.
There is an excellent light house situated on the Low Head, 130 feet above the level of the sea, which being white, shews in good relief against the dark green behind, and serves to point out readily the entrance of the river; by night it exhibits a bright revolving light. The Heboe Reef, about W. by N. two or three miles from the low head, must be given a good wide berth, as in moderate weather it does not shew until close to it, and there is no buoy to point out the spot.
From Port Dalrymple we stood across direct for Port Phillip, and came to an- chor in Hobson's Bay, which affords toler- able anchorage so long as it does not blow strong between South and S.E. With the wind in this quarter, a short chopping sea quickly gets up, vessels of 300 tons
and under, may bring Point Gellibrand to bear S. by E. but even then boat com- munication is at times cut off Williams'
Town (off which this is the anchorage),
is situated on the North side of Point Gellibrand; at present it consists of about _ houses, including the Go-
vernment stores. Scarcity of fresh water is a considerable drawback to this becom-
ing a populous town, but as no vessels of burthen can pass up the river, it may in time become of consequence, and means
will be found to remedy the evil that now exists. The town of Melbourne is si- tuated on the right bank of the river Yarra Yarra, which empties itself into Hobson's Bay. We were highly gratified by our visit to the flourishing town of Melbourne. There is anchorage ground in the outer harbour of Geelong in 3½
fathoms, bringing Point Henry to bear West, distant about a mile. This exten- sive bay is much incommoded by flats running off the low northern shore ; the deepest channel is found by keeping the south shore aboard on your passage to Geelong, under the west end of Phillip Island, at the entrance of Western Port.
On again proceeding to sea, we exa-
mined more narrowly the coast towards Cape Schanck. We came to anchor, which we were agreeably surprised to find a much superior harbour than from our sailing directions we had been led to expect. We lay here for seven days,
during which it blew hard from all quar- ters, yet no inconvenience was felt. The ship lay perfectly quiet, and only once was there occasion to suspend the water- ing, and that only for a few hours. Our boats could at all times have communi- cated with the shore.
After passing Point Grant, which is a
cliffy head, with some detached rocks,
lying half a mile to the S.W. of it, the
island becomes lower, and covered with thick brush wood, sandy beaches, with small rocky projections from tbe general feature, and at low water some flat ledges
uncover to the distance of two cables
length from the shore. The opposite coast, running nearly parallel to Phillip Island, is higher and more cliffy, but gradually becomes lower as Sandy Point is approached, from hence it bends sud- denly away to the northward, and with the shore of French Island a deep inlet is formed. From abreast of Red Point, a
bank of sand, partially dry, extends eastward, and joins Sandy Point, nar- rowing the, channel to three quarters of a mile ; this bank is steep, and shews dis- tinctly, and as the tides, set along its side, there is little danger of getting on in working ¡n or out. There is also a bank that uncovers from the shore run- ning along the south side of French Island ; this also is steep, but from not shewing so distinctly, must be avoided There is a long mile of clear water be- tween it and Phillip Island, and as the latter may be approached within a quarter of it mile, all along there will be no ne- cessity for borrowings on those banks. Water was found by digging in the centre of a clump of bushes on the outer part of the point at the N.E. extremity of the island, which at high water became. an island, occasionally made the water brackish. No doubt better might have been found a short distance in shore, as there were abundance of shrubs and other indications of water in the neighbourhood. From Point Grant to the Pinnacle Rocks the coast is cliffy, and from one to two hundred feet high, with a few strangling
rocks a short distance from the shore. Thence to Cape Wollamai is a sandy bay with hillocks covered with verdure. No- thing appeared to prevent a vessel stand- ing in as far as ,a line between the ex- tremes of the island. Cape Wollamai, the S..E. extreme of Phillip Island, is a remarkable sloping headland, and may reidily be distinguished as being the boldest land near the sea coast, about this part. There is a narrow entrance to Western Port between it and the oppo- site point of the main land, but it is in tricate and difficult of access, both from the strength of tide and the flats that are off the shore on either side. The coast
from Cape Wollamai towards Cape pa- terson, is low and sandy, with grassy hillocks near the water, and. regular soundings at a moderate distance off the shore. Our business here being com- pleted, we again returned towards Port Phillip, and came to anchor in Hobson's Bay.
On the second day after our arrival we again started, ran through the south channel and grounded on the north bank. The tide had just made up and was setting strongly across the bank, conse- quently the ship was not got off until the returning ebb. On regaining the sea we steered towards the north end of King's Island, carrying soundings of from forty to fifty-eight fathoms, deepening gradu- ally as we approached the north end of the island. The following morning we were abreast of New Year's Isles, and in the evening we came to an anchor near our former berth, in the S. W. Bay of King's Island. Daylight saw us under weigh steering for the Minerva or Bell's Rock, but the breeze being light our in- tention of setting at rest the point as to its existence was frustrated, for the flood tide carried us rapidly between Reid's Rocks and its assigned position. We had now a good opportunity of viewing these rocks ; they extend in a N. W. and S. E direction, and cover the space of
__ miles. The N. W. end is about 15 feet above the water, about half a mile in length, and when seen from the S. W.
appears low in the centre, in the form of a saddle. Due south from this is ano-
ther uncovered hump surrounded with breakers, but considerably smaller than the former. A, passage between these may probably exist, but except in a case of necessity it would be imprudent to run the risk. We saw no breakers to the northward of the largest rock, although tlie French charts exhibit many. Reid's Rocks appear to be the principal and perhaps the only danger to be avoided in passing through the Straits south of King's Island, and as the soundings are regular from _ to _ fathoms to within a mile of them, and the tides set rapidly among them ; it would be prudent even in the finest weather to approach with considerable caution. From these Rocks in a direction, and at a distance of about _ miles, is the Black Pyramid, having 24 fathoms soundings within a league of its east side. Passing about a mile to the southward of a cluster of rocks that lies off it, the course was held to the northward between it and Steep Head Island, with the view of ascertain- ing if a serviceable channel existed be- tween Cape Grim and Barren Island. It appeared that in case of necessity a passage might be found between Steep Head and Barren Island, but except un- der such circumstances it should not be attempted, as the whole space is strewed with rocks, among which the tide runs
from two to four knots, and being thrown out of its course by these scattered rocks causes heavy ripplings and eddies, in which a ship would become almost un- governable. The west side of Barren Island presents an uninviting appearance for shipping, it is moderately high, slop- ing gradually to the coast. Rocky pro- jecting Points, with innumerable detached rocks, form the general feature. There did not seem to be any danger that was not distinctly visible between it and the two black rocks. We passed through this channel between the northermost Black Rock and Albatross Island with regular soundings of from _ to _ fa- thoms, increasing quickly towards the latter, the flood tide set with us about two knots per hour.
After re-visiting Three Hummock Island and Circular Head,* we again stood across to King's Island, in 7 fathoms water, on the North side of the Sea Elephant Rock, between a reef extending off it to the N.E., and the opposite shore of King's Island. We had an opportunity of verifying the .......................................................... [continues below after footnote]
* The almost incredible size of the trees near Circular Head is well worthy of remark. Mr. Curr, the superintendent, mentioned having seen one thirty-six feet in girth, in the hollow of which six people had taken up their abode, and had suffi- cient room to sit round a table and enjoy their meals. Trees of from twenty to twenty-five feet girth were common in the immediate vicinity of the Establishment.
There is an extraordinary quantity of metal in this neighbourhood. We found the compass vary- ing as much as ten degrees, giving the variations something westerly instead of seven or eight de- grees to the east. Mr. Curr had observed the same, and he had found that a great change had taken place in the needle since the formation of the establishment. He first discovered it when erect- ing fences, and was much puzzled to account for it. In no otber part of Bass' Straits did we observe anything similar.
[continued]... position of some shoals laid down in the French chart, for when two leagues due east of the centre of the Sea Ele- phat Bay, we fell suddenly into 7 and 6 fathoms, and thence towards the rock the depth varied from ten to sixteen fathoms. Next morning was occupied in obtaining the necessary observations for fixing the position of this part, and as it proved the only tolerable anchorage, with easterly winds, on this side of King's Island, a brief description will not be it relevant here:-Sea Elephant Rock lies off a sandy projection from the centre of King's Island is about three-quarters of a mile in circumference, about 120
feet high, and is covered with a tough wiry grass. Off the Northern part is a rocky reef to the distance of a mile, apparently unconnected ; between the reef and the shore the soundings are everywhere decreasing gradually, from 10 fathoms over a clear sandy bottom ; towards the shore, near the reef, the ground is uneven, and a berth should be given the end on passing. A little North of the sandy point, jutting out towards Elephant Rock, is a salt water inlet, with two fathoms water in it, that, appears to be seen a considerable dis- tance inland, but as the entrance is too shoal to admit even a small boat, it is
rendered useless. About a mile due
South from the N. E. point of King's Island, is a small reef of rocks, lying singularly enough off the sandy beach, extending from the South part of Ele- phant Bay to this point. From hence to the N. W. extreme, the coast assumes a different aspect, tolerably high grassy sand hills, fronted by alternate rocky projections, and small sandy bays with clusters of straggling rocks, a cable's length froth the shore, form the general feature ; to the N. W. it is higher and more rocky. We next proceeded to examine the much-dreaded Harbingers and Navarin Rocks, situated on the North end of King's Island, but did not find any of them so formidable as had been supposed; the latter is a small cluster, of about a quarter of a mile in circumference, with from 30 to 40 fathoms close to their North, East, and West sides, and there is but little doubt that nothing lies between these rocks and the shore to impede a vessel's pro- gress. The Harbingers are similar to the Navarin Rocks, two small clusters lying N. E. and S. W. 1½ mile from each other, and miles from the N. W. point of King's Island. The Western one is always visible, but at times when the water is still the North-eastern cluster does not shew. The Beagle came within a short mile along the outside of these rocks, with from _ to _ fathoms water ; and between them, within a quarter of a mile from the Western, with not less than 27 fathoms, so that the danger is from the great depth in the immediate vicinity, giving no warning during the night or in thick weather; added to which, the strength of tide seems more than a knot per hour in the neighbourhood of these reefs.
IMPORTANT TO NAVIGATORS. - The ex-
istence of a shoal, lying in the way of vessels, proceeding from this port home- wards, round Cape Horn, through Bank's Straits, has been ascertained beyond a doubt. It lies S. E , by compass from the middle of Clarke's Island, about five miles distant, and has 12 feet water on it. There is a good channel between the shoal and Clarke's Island, which carries 12 fathoms. The shoal extends from ½ to ¾ of a mile east and west. This shoal is not laid down in any chart, from its dan- gerous position should be known by all parties navigating Bank's Straits. We are indebted for this information to Capt. M'Taggart, of the barque Socrates. -
The Indus sails for India this day, her passengers are Mr. Scott, Mr. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Gatenby, Captain Steel, Mr. and Mrs. Coghill, and two Misses Coghill.
H. F. M. Ship L'Artemise sailed for South America early yesterday morning A salute was fired from Dawes' Battery, about 6 A. M. and the vessel having her canvass well set, proceeded down the harbour with the wind from the N. W.
The Abercrombie has finished dis-
charging, and preparations made for smoaking her, the rats being so numerous
The Henry having finished discharg- ing, has hauled from Lamb & Co's., wharf, into Darling Harbaur.
The Avon is fast fitting out for the sperm fishery and will sail in about a fortnight.