Page:The Visit of Charles Fraser to the Swan River in 1827.djvu/10

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

6

shores, that the British authorities, being alarmed, at last directed the occupation of King George's Sound, which was accordingly carried out on Christmas Day, 1826[1].

Following this event, the Governor of New South Wales directed Captain Stirling to take the Colonial Botanist with him, for the purpose of reporting on the suitableness of the Swan River neighborhood for a settlement.

The "Success," leaving Sydney on January 17, 1827, was accompanied by a cutter, named the "Currency," intended to be employed in coast survey, but which, meeting with mishaps, had to return to Port Jackson.

After a preliminary visit to Hobart, the "Success" arrived off Rottnest on the 5th of March, 1827; and, three days after, the ship's gig and cutter entered the Swan River for the purpose "of examining the banks, the depth of water, to fix on an eligible spot for a settlement, to ascertain the productions of the country, the nature of the soil, and the practicability of shipping." Considering the short time occupied in all this work (not a month in the whole territory), it can scarcely be said that anything like an exhaustive examination of the country was made, and certainly not one that would justify the laudatory terms that were afterwards used to attract the settlers. The report on which the colony was founded is not in the possession of the State, but a copy of a semi-official journal kept by Mr. Augustus H. Gilbert (clerk of the "Success") is preserved; and from a paper compiled on the botany of the Swan River, etc., by Mr. Charles Fraser, for his friend Dr. Hooker, and published in the first volume of the "Botanical Miscellany," in 1830, we learn much of the prevailing flora seen by the visitors.

Some slight mistakes were made such as calling the Red Gum (Eucalyptus calophylla) Angophora; but, taken in all, the description of a totally different series of shrubs to those common on the Eastern Coast of Australia, may be called fairly accurate. Mr. Fraser, in the course of his paper, says:—

"The soil on the South Head is a barren sand, producing a considerable variety of interesting plants, amongst which I observed


  1. General Darling sent Major Lockyer from Sydney, with a detachment of the 39th Regiment and a party of convicts, to King George Sound, numbering in all about 70 persons. They landed 25th December, 1826.