Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/45

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North Coast: Torres' Strait.]
xxiii
INTRODUCTION.

Bligh and
Portlock
1792.

little value on any thing else. The bows are made of split bamboo; and so strong, that no man in the ship could bend one of them. The string is a broad slip of cane, fixed to one end of the bow; and fitted with a noose, to go over the other end, when strung. The arrow is a cane of about four feet long, into which a pointed piece of the hard, heavy, casuarina wood, is firmly and neatly fitted; and some of them were barbed. Their clubs are made of the casuarina, and are powerful weapons. The hand part is indented, and has a small knob, by which the firmness of the grasp is much assisted; and the heavy end is usually carved with some device: One had the form of a parrot's head, with a ruff round the neck; and was not ill done. Their canoes are about fifty feet in length, and appear to have been hollowed out of a single tree; but the pieces which form the gun-wales, are planks sewed on with the fibres of the cocoa nut, and secured with pegs. These vessels are low, forward, but rise abaft; and, being narrow, are fitted with an outrigger on each side, to keep them steady. A raft, of greater breadth than the canoe, extends over about half the length; and upon this is fixed a shed or hut, thatched with palm leaves. These people, in short, appeared to be dextrous sailors and formidable warriours; and to be as much at ease in the water, as in their canoes.

Sept. 7. The boats having found deep water round the north end of the three low islands, the vessels followed them; but anchored again, soon after noon, in latitude 9° 31', and longitude 143° 31'; being sheltered by the two western islands, named Stephens' and Campbell's, and the reefs which surround them. There were then no less than eight islands in sight, at different distances though none further to the westward than W. S. W. All these, except Darnley's Island, first seen, were small, low, and sandy but generally well covered with wood in the central parts.

On the 8th, the vessels steered westward, with the usual precautions. No land, or other obstruction, had been seen in that quarter;

but, at ten o'clock, they were forced to haul the wind to the south-