Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/135

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

Bass.
1798.

through this perilous night. On the 3rd, at six o'clock, the land was seen; and in the afternoon, whilst standing in to look for a place of shelter, a smoke and several people were observed upon a small island not far from the main coast. On rowing up, they proved to be, not natives, to Mr. Bass' great surprise, but Europeans. They were convicts who, with others, had run away with a boat from Port Jackson, in the intention of plundering the wreck of the Sydney Cove; and not being able to find it, their companions, thinking, their number too great, had treacherously left them upon this island, whilst asleep. These people were seven in number; and during the five weeks they had been on this desert spot, had subsisted on petrels, to which a seal was occasionally added. Mr. Bass promised to call at the island, on his return; and in the mean time, proceeded to the west side of the high main land, where he anchored, but could not get on shore.

Jan. 4. The wind being at north-east, he continued his course onward, steering W. N. W. round an open bay; and afterwards N. W. by W., as the coast generally trended. The shore consisted of long, shallow bights, in which the land was low and sandy; but the intermediate rocky points were generally steep, with a ridge of hills extending from them, into the interior, as far as could be distinguished. In the evening an inlet was discovered, with many shoals at the entrance; and the deep channel being not found till a strong tide made it unattainable, Mr. Bass waited for high water; he then entered a spacious harbour which, from its relative position to the hitherto known parts of the coast, was named Western Port. It lies, according to the boat's run, about sixty miles N. W. by W. ½ W. from Furneaux's Land; and its latitude is somewhere about 38° 25' south.[1] The time of high water is near half an hour after the moon's passage over the meridian, and the rise of tide from ten to fourteen feet.

The examination of this new and important discovery, the repairs

  1. The true latitude of the east entrance into Western Port, is about 38° 33' south.