Page:The Visit of Charles Fraser to the Swan River in 1827.djvu/40

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36

for his legs. It was curious, also, to observe the natives put their fingers and rub them on our people's skin, and then look to see if anything came off, being fully persuaded they were painted. The natives opened their waistcoats, and laughed much when they observed that their breasts were the same color as their hands and faces. Our people secured several spears from them and parted good friends. We were employed from this time in surveying the islands of Rottnest, Buâche, and Berthollet, with the adjacent rocks, and the coast on each side of the river. I had almost forgot that we made two gardens about fifteen miles[1] up the river, and another on Buâche, and sowed several descriptions of garden vegetables and corn. We left on Buâche a cow, three goats, and three sheep with young, etc.

Our expectations of the advantages of a settlement at Swan River are now fully confirmed, and although it would be impossible for vessels of above ten tons burden to enter the river at any state of the tide in safety, at the present entrance, it would be practicable at small expense to cut a canal at about four miles[2] from the mouth of the river to the sea. The distance necessary to be cut is only one quarter of a mile, and would immediately lead into water of 12 fathoms[3] both in the river and in the sea. The land is rocky[4], and would afford excellent sides to the canal. The climate is most delightful, the soil is good, and in many places exceedingly rich, and capable of producing any of the European vegetables and fruits as well as tropical.

The prevailing botany of this place, as I have collected from Mr. Fraser, consists of the following genera, viz. :— Eucalyptus, Banksia, Dryandra, Casuarina, Leptospermum, and a species of Zamia. The hills near the beach immediately north of the entrance are sandy, but on proceeding two hundred yards the soil changes to a rich red loam, of very considerable depth[5], improving as the hills are ascended to the richest virgin loam, and capable of producing any crop. The hills continue of the same description for seven or eight miles, beyond which their character was not observed. The stony nature of these hills render them admirably adapted for the culture of the vine. The islands[6] on the flats are composed of a muddy deposit, evidently brought on by the floods; their banks are covered with thickets of Casuarina and Metrosideros and their centres with sub


  1. Eleven or twelve miles,
  2. Two miles.
  3. The deepest water in Rocky Bay and for some distance on the sea coast is only four fathoms. The greatest depth in the Swan is seventy feet near the Chine in Freshwater Bay, and not very far from Blackwall Reach. Although the coast is known to be rising, it is incomprehensible to account for such considerable discrepancies, both in the given depths and the distances. In another direction also, Stirling figured the height of some hills and mountains absurdly. Mount William he called 3,000 feet, nearly double its known altitude.
  4. Rocky Bay.
  5. Grossly exaggerated.
  6. Heirisson's Islands.