Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/128

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THE RELIANCE AND THE TOM THUMB

named after Henry Hacking, a pilot who had indicated its whereabouts, having come near it "in his kangaroo-hunting excursions." The two young explorers spent the better part of two days in examining the neighbourhood; and anyone who has had the good fortune to traverse that piece of country, with its grassed glades, its timbered hillsides, its exquisite glimpses of sapphire sea and cool silver river, its broken and diversified surface, rich with floral colour—for they saw it in early autumn—can realise how satisfied they must have felt with their work. After a nine days' voyage, they sailed out of Port Hacking early on April 2nd, and, aided by a fine wind, drew up alongside the Reliance in Port Jackson on the evening of the same day.

The Reliance was an old and leaky ship. She had seen much service and was badly in need of repairs. "She is so extremely weak in her whole frame that it is in our situation a difficult matter to do what is necessary," wrote Hunter to the Secretary of State. Shipwrights' conveniences could hardly be expected to be ample in a settlement that was not yet ten years old, and where skilled labour was necessarily deficient. But she had to be repaired with the best material and direction available, for she was the best ship which His Majesty's representative had at his disposal. The Supply was pretty well beyond renovation. She was American built, and her timbers of black birch were never suitable for service in warm waters. Shortly after the discovery of Port Hacking, Hunter set about the overhauling of the vessel that was at once his principal means of naval defence, his saluting battery, his official inspecting ship, his transport, and his craft of all work. He wanted her especially just now, for a useful piece of colonial service.

The Governor had received intelligence from Major-General Craig, who had commanded the land