Page:History of West Australia.djvu/26

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16
WEST AUSTRALIA.


them away as of no more value. While a few of the relics, rusted and weather-beaten, lay on the surface, others some distance away had come within the range of sand-drifts and lay five and more feet beneath the surface. By digging, Mr. Broadhurst believes still more of these antique things may be unearthed. In his collection, most of which is now in the Perth Museum, are silver buttons for officers' capes, pieces of ordnance, fifteen flagon-shaped bottles, ten square (gin) bottles, an earthenware jar, lead sinkers, large numbers of clay pipes, copper fish-hooks, corroded knives, brass buttons, pieces of lock-flint, pistol bullets, two copper kettles, a glass demijohn, a lead ink-pot, coloured tumblers, wine-glasses, one silver coin of Philip IV. of Spain (1633), three copper coins of dates between 1702 and 1724, three large silver coins of Philip IV. of Spain, dated 1633 and 1638, one Chinese copper coin of the reign of Hon Lute of 335 years ago, various silver coins of various dates from Utrecht and Frizia and Zeeland, some copper coins of Hollandia and the East India Company, the British halfpenny of George I. (1720), remains of lignum vitae sheaves, several lumps of pitch (one lump still bearing the proportions of the barrel in which it was originally placed, found five feet beneath the surface), quaint Dutch inscribed tobacco boxes, two copper pieces of muskets (one inscribed "Kamer Zeeland" and the other "Cameer Zeeland"), spoons, curtain-rings, seaman's hanger-guard, razor handles, two shells for ordnance, one of them with black matter resembling powder adhering to it, and many other articles. They make a remarkable collection, and are the spoils of this Circe of the deep, gleaned from Dutch vessels she has wooed to her rocky sides. No more did the brave Dutch seek to fathom the mysteries of the Australian coast and country. They had well done their work, but though they had won no prizes here, they gained them in the islands north of these boundaries. So far as Australia is concerned, Dutch navigators have the glory of first making her considered by civilised peoples.

Dutch naval enterprise removed from Australia, she continued locked in the comparative unknown for many years. Her inhabitants wandered idly and ignorantly to and fro over the great continent, and pursued their simple way without molestation, and her wonderful latent wealth of soil, woodland, and mineral was nothing to them. After 1705 no navigator specially visited the coast until late in the century. In 1772 Captain De St. Alouarn, in the Les Gros Ventre, saw some parts of the coast, but the particulars are not published, and are of little importance. He is said to have anchored near Cape Leeuwin, where his visit is rendered immemorial by the naming of the St. Alouarn islands after him.

It is not our intention to refer to those famous navigators who thenceforward visited and founded parts of the Australian northern, eastern, and southern coasts, except so far as they have to do with Western Australia. The most notable of those, whose voyages we shall not describe, were Cook, McCluer, Bligh, Bass, Furneaux, Edwards, Bampton, Alt, and Marion. Captain Cook had planted the British flag on the eastern part of the continent before Western Australia was next visited. In the meantime no more was known of the west than that ascertained by Dampier and the Dutch. The next visitor was an Englishman, George Vancouver, who had served as midshipman under Cook. On the 1st April, 1791, Captain Vancouver left England on H.M.S. Discovery, accompanied by Captain Broughton on H.M.S. Chatham, bound for North-West America via the Cape of Good Hope and Australia. Vancouver sighted on the 26th September the southern coast near Cape Leeuwin by an island, which was thereupon named Chatham Island. He sailed near the coast, and on the 28th September anchored in King George the Third Sound, named by him. This sound, which is one of the prettiest among many beautiful harbours in Australia, greatly interested Vancouver. His journal portrays the scene as "agreeably variegated in form;" but the soil was more barren than fertile, yet with many spots capable of cultivation. He remained there several days, and found ample grass and woodlands and abundance of fresh water. The climate was healthy and the temperature agreeable. Of animals, the kangaroo was not scarce, while the woods were tenanted by numerous feathered tribes. The chief aquatic birds were black swans and wild ducks. Archibald Menzies, the naturalist and botanist on board the Discovery, searched the woods and uplands for choice specimens, and his search was not in vain. Vancouver left a bottle containing parchment at King George's Sound (found in 1800 by one Chas. Dixon, of the ship Elligood, whose voyage is not chronicled), and after enjoyable and useful study he sailed out on 10th October to further examine the coast to the east. Variable winds prevented his ranging close in shore, and hence his further report is of little interest. Vancouver lost sight of land in this part of the continent at Termination Island, off Esperance Bay. Several points were named by this navigator. Vancouver, it is believed, watered his ship on the island by the channel connecting Middleton Bay and Oyster Harbour. He there dug a well, which, although fallen in, still exists. It is covered with high reeds and shrubs, and over it Sir William Robinson, the Governor of Western Australia, caused to be erected in February, 1883, a wooden tablet, marking where Captain George Vancouver, RN., an illustrious navigator, watered His Majesty's ship "Discovery," in October, 1791.

The fate of La Perouse, the clever French navigator, who after many adventures left Botany Bay, on the east coast, in the ships Boussole and Astrolabe, to continue his discoveries, and who was never again seen alive by white men, was the cause of a French expedition in 1792. The ships La Recherche and L'Espérance, in charge of Rear-Admiral Bruny D'Entrecasteaux, left France, and on December 5, 1792, came within hail of the south coast at a point north-west of Chatham Island. This point was named D’Entrecasteaux Point. The expedition explored the coast to Termination Island, and kept closer to shore than Vancouver. They named some leading features of the coast, and praised the charts of Nuyts. They obtained good shelter from a storm on 9th December by one of the islands north of Termination Island. The naturalist, Monsieur Labillardière, exploited the islands, and the surveyors took soundings. No fresh water was obtained, but seals, penguins, and kangaroos were numerous. The surrounding islands were named the Archipelago of the Recherche. On January 3, 1793, they abandoned our coast and went further east.

In 1800 Lieutenant James Grant, in His Majesty’s brig Lady Nelson, saw part of the south coast while on his way to Sydney.

English naval glory in Australian waters was now in its hey-day, but the French were becoming strong competitors. English association with the Great South Land had fairly begun, and among the naval heroes the name of Matthew Flinders is not the least honoured. As with many great men, the life of Flinders was not altogether a happy one, and he had to pay an onerous penalty for his contribution to these explorations. In some respects he was not unlike Dampier; and his sage observations, carefully detailed research, and ability in describing his adventures, distinguish his useful books. He, too, was shrewd and painstaking, and he went out to meet obstacles and wrestled till he overthrew them. No labour frightened him so long as he could throw more light on these unknown regions. Perhaps he was a little too eager, but the dangerous situations he sailed into may be explained by his desire to