Page:The Visit of Charles Fraser to the Swan River in 1827.djvu/35

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


weathered Cape Leeuwin, and on the 5th arrived off Rottnest Island, a place described by the French as being a terrestial paradise[1] but we found it a barren place, not possessing the slightest inducement for anyone to settle, the whole island being almost entirely composed of sand, covered with brushwood. There is a vast number of the small species of kangaroo on this island. The next day we sailed toward the Swan River, an distant about ten miles, and came to anchor, off the mouth of the river distant three miles. We sent a boat into the river, and on its return the crew gave us an unfavorable account of the entrance, there being a bar of sand and rocks, with scarcely sufficient water for a boat to pass over in safety, but immediately over this bar they got into deep water, having from 4 to 10 fathoms[2]. They shot several black swans, a remarkable bird found in great numbers there. This bird is about the size of the white swan, and perfectly black, with the exception of the quill feathers at the tip of the wings, which are white. The bill, legs, and eyelids are red, and they fly in flocks. They are rather gross, but otherwise good eating. The next day (Wednesday) we proceeded to the island of Berthollet (Carnac), when we moored ship. This island is a mere mass of rock, intersected here and there with brushwood, the resort of sea birds, breeding here in vast numbers, every part of it being covered with holes similar to a rabbit warren. The next day (Thursday, March 8) being fixed for the expedition up the river, the first gig and cutter were ordered to hold themselves in readiness. At 8 o'clock they accordingly started from the ship, the boats being victualled for a fortnight and well armed. The object of this was to proceed, if possible, to the source of the river, to examine the banks, the depth of water, to fix on an eligible spot for a settlement, to ascertain the productions of the country, the nature of the soil, and the practicability of forming a harbor for shipping; and I am happy to state that our expectations are fully realised, and that our report has given so much satisfaction to the Governor that an immediate settlement is to be formed there. The boats proceeded about twenty[3] miles up the river the first day, when they were prevented going further by meeting with the flats, that here extended themselves the whole width of the river, and one and a-half (1½) miles in length. They were reduced to the necessity of taking everything out of the boats, and landing them on one of the many islands that are formed in this part of the river by the floods, and to drag the boats over by main force, there not being sufficient water to float the gig. In doing this the party were above their knees in mud, and obliged to walk over extensive beds of oyster shells, which lacerated their feet very much. The next day (Friday), however, they got the boats over and

  1. Rottnest Island was not called by the French a terrestial paradise, but a very correct description of the island which is diversified by hill, valley, and salt lakes, was given by them.
  2. Immediately over the bar the depth of water was about three or four fathoms, and this was followed by a number of sandbanks, some of which, near the railway bridge, still exist.
  3. Really twelve miles.