Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/93

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
South Coast.]



on Dec. 5, 1792, about twenty-eight leagues to the north-west of Cape Chatham.[1] The coast, from the South-west Cape to the longitude of Termination Island, was explored by the admiral, with all the minuteness that the state of the weather could permit; and he was, generally, able to keep the shore closer abord than captain Vancouver had done, and to supply the deficiencies in his chart. The broken land to the north of Termination Island was found to be conformable to what Nuyts had laid down: it made part of a very extensive group of islands, one of which afforded timely shelter to the French ships on Dec. 9, from a gale which had arisen at southwest.

They remained a week at this anchorage, whilst the naturalists explored the surrounding country, and the surveyors examined such of the islands as were visible from the ships. Seals, pinguins, and some kanguroos were seen; but no fresh water, accessible to shipping, could any where be found; the country within their reach being sandy and sterile. From Dec. 17 to 24, the ships were occupied in coasting eastward, along the outskirt of the group of islands, and then found it to terminate at 2½° of longitude from its commencement. The main land at the back of the islands had been generally visible, but at too great a distance for the precise form of the coast to be ascertained, or to allow of fixing the positions of, or even seeing, many of the inner islands and reefs.

This group is the first of the two marked upon the chart of Nuyts; and admiral D'Entrecasteaux praises the general accuracy of the Dutch navigator, in that "the latitude of Point Leeuwin, and of the coast of Nuyts' Land, were laid down with an exactness, surprising for the remote period in which they had been discovered."

This liberal acknowledgment renders it the more extraordinary,

  1. When the Investigator sailed, the journal of M. Labillardiére naturalist in D'Entrecasteaux's expedition, was the sole account of the voyage made public: but M. de Rossei one of the principal officers, has since published the voyage from the journals of the rear-admiral, and it is from this last that what follows is extracted.