Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/188

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
137
CIRCUMNAVIGATION OF TASMANIA

never succumbs to the common sin of travellers—writing to excite astonishment in the reader, rather than to tell the exact truth as he found it. He was by nature and training an exact man.

On the afternoon of November 3rd the sloop entered the estuary of the river Tamar, on which, forty miles from the mouth, now stands the fine city of Launceston. It was a discovery of first-class importance. Apart from the pleasure which they derived from having made it, the two friends were charmed with the beauty of their surroundings. They derived the most favourable impression of the quality of the land and its suitableness for settlement. They worked up the river for several miles, but time did not permit them to follow it as far as it was navigable. Thus they did not reach the site of the present city, and left the superb gorge and cataract to be discovered by Collins when he entered the Tamar again in 1804. The harbour was subsequently named Port Dalrymple by Hunter, after Alexander Dalrymple, the naval hydrographer.

The extent of the survey, with delays caused by adverse weather, kept the Norfolk in the Tamar estuary for a full month. On December 3rd her westward course was resumed. From this time forth Bass and Flinders were in constant expectancy of passing through the strait into the open ocean. The northern trend of the coast for a time aroused apprehensions that there was no strait after all, and that the northern shore of Van Diemen's Land might be connected with the coast beyond Westernport. The water was also discoloured, and this led Flinders to think that they might be approaching the head of a bay or gulf. But on December 7th the vigilant commander made an observation of the set of the tide, from which he drew an "interesting deduction." "The tide had been running