This is all that appears to have been known of the North Coast,
1644 when Abel Jansz Tasman sailed upon his second voyage, in 1644; for the instructions to him say, that after quitting "Point Ture, or False Cape, situate in 8° on the south coast of New Guinea, you are to continue eastward, along the coast, to 9° south latitude; crossing prudently the Cove at that place. Looking about the high islands or Speult's River, with the yachts, for a harbour; despatching the tender De Braak, for two or three days into the Cove, in order to discover whether, within the Great Inlet, there be not to be found an entrance into the South Sea. From this place you are to coast along the west coast of New Guinea, (Carpentaria,) to the furthest discoveries in 17° south latitude; following the coast further, as it may run, west or southward. But it is to be feared you will meet, in these parts, with the south-east trade winds; from which it will be difficult to keep the coast on board, if stretching to the south-east; but, notwithstanding this, endeavour by all means to proceed; that we may be sure whether this land is divided from the Great Known South Continent, or not."
The Dutch had, by this time, acquired some knowledge of a part of the south coast of Terra Australis; of the west coast; and of a part of the north-west; and these are the lands meant by "the Great Known South Continent." Arnhem's, and the northern Van Diemen's Lands, on the North Coast, are not included in the
expression; for Tasman was directed "from De Witt's Land (on
- The Great Inlet or Cove, where the passage was to be sought, is the north-west part of Torres' Strait. It is evident, that a suspicion was entertained, in 1644, of such a strait; but that the Dutch were ignorant of its having been passed. The "high islands" are those which lie in latitude 10°, on the west side of the strait. Speult's River appears to be the opening betwixt the Prince of Wales' Islands and Cape York; through which Captain Cook afterwards passed, and named it Endeavour's Strait: This Speult's River cannot, I conceive, be the same with what was before mentioned under the name of The Spult.