Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/136

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cxiv
[Prior Discoveries.
INTRODUCTION.

Bass.
1798.

of the boat, and the continuance of strong winds, kept Mr. Bass thirteen days in Western Port. His sketch of it has since been superseded by the more regular examination of ensign Barralier, copied into the chart, where its form, situation, and extent will be best seen. The land upon its borders is, generally, low and level; but the hills rise as they recede into the country, and afford an agreeable prospect from the port. Wherever Mr. Bass landed, he found the soil to be a light, brown mould, which becomes peaty in the lowest grounds. Grass and ferns grow luxuriantly, and yet the country is but thinly timbered. Patches of brush wood are frequent, particularly on the eastern shore, where they are some miles in extent; and there the soil is a rich, vegetable mould. The island (since called Phillip Island) which shelters the port, is mostly barren, but is covered with shrubs and some diminutive trees.

Mr. Bass had great difficulty in procuring good water, arising, as he judged, from unusual dryness in the season; and the head of the winding creek on the east side of die port, was the sole place where it had not a brackish taste. The mud banks at the entrance of the creek may be passed at half tide by the largest boats; and within it, there is at all times a sufficient depth of water.

No more than four natives were seen, and their shyness prevented communication; the borders of the port, however, bore marks of having been much frequented, but the want of water seemed to have occasioned a migration to the higher lands. Kanguroos did not appear to be numerous; but black swans went by hundreds in a flight, and ducks, a small, but excellent kind, by thousands; and the usual wild fowl were in abundance.

The seventh week of absence from Port Jackson had expired, by the time Mr. Bass was ready to sail from Western Port; and the reduced state of his provisions forced him, very reluctantly, to turn the boat's head homeward.

Jan. 18. At daylight, he sailed with a fresh wind at west, which

increased to a gale in the afternoon, with a heavy swell from the