Page:The Visit of Charles Fraser to the Swan River in 1827.djvu/24

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swamp. The supply of water from underground springs into the river must be immense, for it is impossible that the springs at the source could furnish such a quantity of fresh water[1]. The tide at the entrance of the Swan River was not observed to rise above 2 feet, even at spring tides and at the source it was hardly observable.

"The climate during our stay was the most delightful I ever experienced, the thermometer seldom ranging above 85 deg.; the nights agreeably cool. The sea-breezes set in at two hours after sunrise, and cease at sunset, when they are immediately succeeded by the land-breeze, which, even in February[2], is so agreeable that, while surveying the river, we preferred sleeping in the open air to lodging in tents.

"The quantity of black swans[3], pelicans, ducks, and aquatic birds seen on the river was truly astonishing. Without any exaggeration, I have seen a number of black swans which could not be

  1. The river has a much longer course than was suspected for many years. It may be said to rise some distance to the east of Pingelly, and taking a northerly course flows through Beverley, York, Northam, and Newcastle, under the name of the Avon; from Toodyay it takes a westerly course, through the Darling Range, down to Guildford, etc.
  2. This is a serious mistake by Fraser, as the English party visited the Swan River in March, 1827—not February, as stated. The summer ends in March, while the temperature in February is the hottest in the year. The exact dates are as follow:— January 17: H.M.S. "Success" sailed from Sydney, and on the 27th anchored in the Derwent, in Van Diemen's Land. February 8: Left the Derwent, and on March 5 arrived off Rottnest Island, March 8: The first gig and cutter entered the Swan River, which was examined by the 14th; and, after another day spent by the gig in exploring the Moreau (Canning River), the remainder of the time, to March 20, was employed in surveying the islands of Rottnest, Buâche, and Berthollet. March 21: Stood to sea, and after examining Géographe Bay and Cape Naturaliste, anchored at King George Sound on April 2. April 4: Stood to sea, with a strong breeze from the S.W., and at 10 p.m. on the 15th anchored at Port Jackson.
  3. The black swan (Chenopis atrata) is not a true swan, but an allied form. It was first observed by Vlaming on January 5, 1697, when he named the river after them. It is not, however, exclusively confined to this part of Australia. These birds were nearly exterminated from the river, but having been obtained from other places are now again seen upon the waters of the Swan. Gould says :— "Our celebrated countryman and navigator, Cook, observed it on several parts of the coast. I may state that the black swan is generally distributed over the whole of the southern portion of Australia, the islands in Bass' Straits, and the still more southern country of Tasmania, wherever there are rivers, estuaries of the sea, lagoons, and pools of water of any extent. In some instances it occurs in such numbers that flocks of many hundreds may be seen together, particularly on those arms of the sea which after passing the beach-line of the coast expand into great sheets of shallow water, on which the birds are seldom disturbed either by the force of boisterous winds or the intrusions of the natives. In the white man, however, the black swan finds an enemy so deadly that in many parts, where it was formerly numerous, it has been almost, if not entirely, extirpated." Of pelicans, the only species found in the State (Pelecanus conspicillatus) is still to be seen on the river, while ducks frequent its reaches above Heirisson's Islands.