Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/82

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[Prior Discoveries.


nearer to the land, with the entrance of the lake or river bearing S. E. by E. The commodore afterwards went up this river, to the distance of fourteen or sixteen leagues, and caught some smelts, as also several black swans, of which two were taken alive to Batavia.[1]

Having clearly ascertained the latitude (of the ships at anchor, most probably,) to be 31° 43' south, and discovered a reef four geographic miles in length, and two miles from the shore, they sailed from thence on Jan. 13. The wind was from the southward; and whilst the ships steered N. by W., parallel to the coast, the boats ran along within them, to examine it more closely. On the 15th, the people from the boats reported that they had seen neither men nor animals, and very few trees; but had met with a reef near the shore, in 30° 17'; and many shoals, both under and above water.

Fires upon the land were seen from all the ships in the night of Jan. 16; and next day, a boat was sent with armed people; but they returned with nothing, except some sea-mews which had been caught upon the islands and shoals lying along the coast. On the 18th, the ships were in latitude 30° 30', and found the variation to be 9° 21' west; and the 20th, some small islands were seen, and shrubs observed on the main land. On the 23rd, they were near a steep head, in 28° 8', and sent a boat to the shore; but the high surf prevented landing. People were perceived walking on the downs, but at too great a distance to distinguish more than that they were of the common stature, black, and naked.[2] The boat got on shore soon afterward, when some brackish water was found; and having landed again on the 27th, the people saw some huts, as also the footsteps

of men, and some birds; but there was no other vegetation than

  1. This appears to be the first mention made of the black swan: the river was named Black-Swan River.
  2. It was near this place that captain Pelsert put the two Dutch conspirators on shore in 1629. Vlaming appears to have passed within Houtman's Abrolhos without seeing them.