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'A TERRESTRIAL* PARADISE.' Extracts From Early Journals.
Many incidents of the- early 'days of Rottnest Island and the experiences there of explorers and pioneers were described in a paper entitled 'The Early Days of
Rottnest,' by Miss D. C. Cowan, which was read by Canon Burton at a meeting of the Western Australian Historical So ciety at the Karrakatta Club Hall last night. There was a large attendance. A vice-president of the society (Mr. G. P. Stevens) was in the chair. Quotations from the journals and diaries of De Vlaming, Peron and a dozen- or more persons who were associated with the island before the settlement of Western Australia, were included in the paper. One of the most interesting of these, ascribed to Vlaming, the Dutchman, -who visited the island in 1696, was as follows: — ''At mid day, in December, 1696. we saw the Isle of Girls (Isle des Filles) before us. and steered for it. Here it seems that Nature has spared nothing to render this isle de lightful above all other islands that I have ever seen . . . Thus I believe of so many people who .seek to make themselves happy there would be many who would despise the fortress, of our country to choose this, which* would appear to them a terres trial paradise . . . Our wood carters we sent every day to get wood and fresh herbs .... They fetched on board, myrrh, aloes and -other herbs.' Dr. Battye, in July, 1928, queried this translation, the paper stated, , and to some extent ? cleared up the mystery of the description, for inquiry in Batavia revealed that the French translator had misread the Dutch word for mist as 'meisje,' which means girl. The correct, rendering of De Vlaming's journal appeared to have b«en, 'We saw the Fog Island straight on.' Pos sibly Rottnest Island in the. month of December, 1696 was undergoing some of its extraordinary summer mirages, 'or the many bush fires on the mainland— defin-
itely mentioned- in one account of Vlam ing's journals— would explain why the' term 'Fog' or 'Mist' bland came to be used. Exploration by Datehmen. The paper stated that a claim had been made tha.t the discovery of the west coast of I Australia was due indirectly to the Dutch Commander Brouwer, who, in 1611, after he sailed from the Cape of Good Hope for Batavia, tried a new route. Instead of following the African coast northward and thence sailing eastward to Isdia and the islands, as was customary, he experi mented by. first sailing eastward for 4,000 miles and then . turning- northward. Brouwer's esperimental route eared 10 or 12' months, the voyage from Amsterdam taking only six,. months instead of the usual 16 to 18 months. The use of this new route soon afterwards led. to the dis covery of Shark Bay by Dirk Hartog, in 1616. Many other picturesquely garbed and equipped, Dutchmen, and some English men, followed in Brouwer's and HartogV wake. , ? ~ The French siiceedcd the Dutch in thr field of maritime and scientific research, and tne next definite record of Rottnest Island was that made during the visit of the Naturaliste, under Captain Hamelin, in 1801, when, .according to Mr. Glauert. of-(the Perth Museum, the French -natur- alist, M. Bailly. examined the island and identified the 'civet' cat of the Dutch navigators as* a small species of kangaroo. Mr. E. H. Stirling, speaking on behalf of Mr. J. Watson, an old. resident of the island, said that the early machinery for the .first lighthouse on Rottnest was con structed by the grandfather of Mr. A. Carson, who was at present 'on the literary staff of 'The West Australian.' The draw ings of the machines were sent to England to a friend of the late Mr. Carson's for the purpose of securing patent rights. Strange to say, the drawings were stolen,
and the machine was subsequently used in many of the lighthouses round the British coast. Mr. - Watson remembered the. machine, and he believed fhat it was at the present time working on an island off the coast .near Carnarvon. It was used at .Rottnest. Island for 60 years until a new lighthouse was constructed. The lantern of the old lighthouse was erected by Mr. Watson under contract to the Public Works Department. Mr. Watson received from Sir William Robinson his appoint ment as superintendent, of . the boys' re formatory on the island, which 'position he held for 25 years until the dosing of the institution. It was announced that -at the next meet ing of the society, on April 27, a -paper en titled 'T^ach Exploration of the West Australian Coast.' would be presented by the itev. P. U. Henn.