The situation and excellence of the harbour, together with the sanguine expectation of finding a good country in the interior, induced the government of New South Wales to form a settlement there; and, accordingly, at the latter end of the year 1826, a party, consisting in all of fifty-two persons, was despatched under the command of Major Lockyer, of His Majesty's 67th regiment, for that purpose. The little expedition sailed on the 7th November, 1826; and after a tedious passage, arrived at its destination on the 25th December following.
From Captain Flinders' account of the place, it will be seen that besides the outer sound, there are two inner basins or harbours which are perfectly land locked, and offering every security for ships. The northern one, Oyster Harbour, is fronted by a bar of sand, on which there is not more than thirteen feet and a half at high water; and within it is so full of shoals–excepting at the entrance, and near Green Island, where small vessels may ride securely at their anchor or be moored to the shore–that there is scarcely water enough for a boat to approach the beach; the greater part being a bank that dries, or nearly so, at low water, excepting in the drains of two small rivers that fall into the head of the harbour, which are navigable for a few miles by small boats.
In the centre of Oyster Harbour is Green Island, a small islet upon which Vancouver sowed many garden seeds; but if they prospered they were probably destroyed by vermin, for future visiters could find no traces of them.
The shoal character of the shores of this harbour therefore offering no inducement to the new colonists to establish themselves in its neighbourhood, they determined upon occupying the shore of Princess Royal Harbour, situated at the back or west side of the sound, into which vessels of a considerable size might enter, and ride at their anchors, very close to the shore, in perfect security.
The party therefore encamped at the base of what they afterwards called Mount Melville. It is on the north side of the harbour, about a mile within the entrance, and close to the spot occupied by Captain Flinders in the year 1801. In many respects
- The number of the colonists, being at first on fifty-two persons, up to the period of departure of the author of this paper in October, 1829, had very little increased. The settlement consisted only of eight or ten buildings, some of which were brick nogged, others of turf, and others of wattle and plaster. The roofs were thatched with rushes or coarse grass. At the commencement it received the name of Frederick Town; but as the appellation has not been adopted in the official documents, it remains uncertain whether it will be continued. At one period, the settlement was expected to be abandoned, but the recent discovery of good land at Géographe Bay, and the favourable account of the interior afforded by Dr. Wilson, now render this improbable.