Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/143

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

On the evening of Sunday, December 3, 1797, at six o'clock, Bass's men rowed out of Port Jackson heads and turned south. The night was spent in Little Bay, three miles north of Botany Bay, as Bass did not deem it prudent to proceed further in the darkness, the weather having become cloudy and uncertain, and things not having yet found their proper place in the boat. Nor was very much progress made on the 4th, for a violent wind was encountered, which caused Bass to make for Port Hacking. On the following day, "the wind headed in flurries," and the boat did not get further than Providential Cove, or Watta-mowley, where the Tom Thumb had taken refuge in the previous year. On the 7th, Bass reached Shoalhaven, which he named. He remained there three days, and described the soil and situation with some care. "The country around it is generally low and swampy and the soil for the most part is rich and good, but seemingly much subject to extensive inundation." One sentence of comment reads curiously now that the district is linked up by railway with Sydney, and exports its butter and other produce to the markets of Europe. "However capable much of the soil of this country might upon a more accurate investigation be found to be of agricultural improvement, certain it is that the difficulty of shipping off the produce must ever remain a bar to its colonisation. A nursery of cattle might perhaps be carried on here with advantage, and that sort of produce ships off itself." Bass, a farmer's son, reared in an agricultural centre, was a capable judge of good country, but of course there was nothing when he saw these rich lands to foretell an era of railways and refrigerating machinery.

On December 10th the boat entered Jervis Bay, and on the 18th Bass discovered Barmouth Creek (probably the mouth of the Bega River), "the prettiest little model of a harbour we had ever seen." Were it not