Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/133

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East Coast, & V.D.'s Land.]
cxi
INTRODUCTION.

Bass.
1797.

shore, and could perceive no point or projection which would be distinguishable from a ship: the coast continued to be straight, low, and sandy, similar to what had been passed in the morning. There arose many large smokes from behind the beach; probably from the sides of lagoons, with which, there was reason to think, the back country abounded.

The breeze continuing to be fresh and favourable, Mr. Bass ventured 1798. to steer onward in the night, and kept the shore close a-bord. At two in the morning, the increased hollowness of the waves made him suspect the water was becoming shallow; and he hauled off for an hour, until there was sufficient daylight to distinguish the land. It was still low, level, and sandy, and trended S. W. by W., nearly as the boat was steering. At seven o'clock, high land appeared at a considerable distance in the south-west; and the beach then trended in the same direction. It, however, changed soon afterward, to run nearly west; and Mr. Bass quitted it to keep on his course for the high land. The latitude at noon was 38° 41'; and the difference made from the noon before, upon the average course of S. W. by W;, makes the distance run 107 miles; which, added to the preceding thirty or thirty-five, gives the length of the beach from the Ram Head, to be about 140 miles.[1]

The high land extended from the bearing ,of S. W. by S. to W. N. W., and was distant in the latter direction two or three leagues. North of it there was a deep bight; and further eastward, two or three places in the Long Beach which had the appearance of inlets. To the south there were several rocky islets; and great numbers of petrels, and other sea-birds, were flying about the boat.

  1. But the latitude observed appears to be 8' or 10' too little; and if so, the length of the beach would be something more than 150 miles. It is no matter of surprise if observations taken from an open boat, in a high sea, should differ ten miles from the truth; but I judge that Mr. Bass' quadrant must have received some injury during the night of the 31st, for a similar error appears to pervade all the future observations, even those taken under favourable circumstances.