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of the voyage from Hobson's Bay to Carpentaria.

Letter from Commander Norman reporting the return of the H.M.C.S.S. Victoria,
from the Gulf of Carpentaria, together with reports and correspondence.

Melbourne: John Ferres, Government Printer.
Victorian Parliamentary Papers No. 108. 1862.

Departure, 3.00 pm, 4 August 1861.

2[?] August 1861.
Latitude: 18° 7' S; longitude: 153° E.
Steady trade-winds with fine weather. Lihou Reefs 65 miles distant.

Tuesday, 20 August 1861.
Weather changing ; 15° 46' S, 151° 35' E; thermometer 80° Fahr.

Friday, 30 August 1861.
Weather unsettled. A southerly set of current of 22 miles (14° 55' S, 149° 42' E).

Monday, 2 September 1861.
Strong gales, SE veering SSE. 12° 12' S, 144° 50' E.

Thursday, 5 September 1861.
Gale broke, and at 6.15 pm, anchored on Great Detached Reef, 18 fathoms, sandy bottom; 85 fathoms cable out. (NB: The course steered from noon, this day showed a current of two hours to northward. Noon 11° 31' S, 145° E.)

Saturday, 7September 1861.
Found convoy (the Firefly with the horses for Landsborough's expedition on board) wrecked on a coral-reef. Horses all saved but three.

Wednesday, 11 September 1861.
Barge of Victoria went adrift.

Sunday, 22 September 1861.
Engaged till this day lightening and getting off the Firefly, and reached Cairncross Island, east side of Cape York, against strong ebb-tide (peculiar to this season), which had landed barge unharmed after drifting masterless 60 miles (of course favoured by a still more rapid flood-tide).

Tuesday, 24 September 1861.
Noon, latitude: 10° 55'.

Thursday, 26 September 1861.
Noon, latitiude: 14° 34' S, longitude: 139° 46'; therm. 77½° Fahr.

Friday, 27 September 1861.
Winds light, easterly, and northing after 8 AM Anchored off Bountiful Island, and ascended Mount Flinders quite low. Soil of island sand or disintegrated sandstone, covered with rank, dry, wiry grass. By 29th had caught 126 turtle for jerking, &c., to save provisions.

Sunday, 29 September 1861.
At 4 pm anchored in Investigator Roads in 5 fathoms. The winds for the last three days had been north-east during the day, and southerly at night. At 1½ to 2 miles off various discoloured patches were rounded or passed, but no perceptible difference in the depths of soundings was found the water being of a very light colour generally makes the navigation rather exciting. The changes in the colour of the water this day have all the appearance of sand-shoals, or dangers of some kind, but nothing dangerous to navigation was met with on our way up the gulf. The depths found are generally very uniform, deepening from the eastern shore to 38 fathoms towards the middle of the gulf, with generally mud or sandy bottom; some few casts of rocky or hard bottom were found near latitude 12° 25' S, longitude 141° E, with some 18 to 24 fathoms, and for 35 miles in a SSW course.

29 September to 17 October 1861.
Engaged arranging for Mr Landsborough's departure, who left 16th November. Note that whole coast appears to be intersected with creeks and rivers for some miles. Entered (17th) what was supposed to he a channel, but proved to be the outlet of a river (supposed to be the Leichhardt)

17 October to 18 November 1861.
Nothing calling for remark except intense heat.

Wednesday, 20 November 1861.
Heat at 2 pm 104° in shade.

Friday, 29 November 1861.
Heat at 10.30 pm 107° !!!

Thursday, 5 December 1861.
Landed at 'Junction' (Albert River), the spot fixed upon for a depot on leaving Melbourne, and found the place had been some feet under water last tide, and that for miles the plains were then covered with salt-water, showing the place to be quite uninhabitable, with no fresh-water to be had for miles around. . . . . . . After we had passed two reaches going down, we were suddenly surprised by an ambuscade of natives on both sides. They were painted, and armed with long spears, womeras, and clubs ; but they were not fired at. Thermometer 98° to 109°.

Saturday, 7 December 1861.
Mr Walker arrived in the midst of a furious gale. At 10pm cleared up; light ESE wind. Thermometer at 2 am 70° Fahr.

Friday, 20 December 1861.
Mr Walker started on return journey.

Sunday, 29 December 1861.
At daylight visited the place of meeting marked [A], and found the nature of the country such that the tides overflowed it at the springs, with nothing but mud and mangrove in sight. About 22 miles further up, the river became more tortuous, and several sand-banks were passed, contracting the tide, which was running up strong. I continued on with the hope of reaching Burial Reach ; but, after going on to 1pm we stopped to dinner, when I landed, and found the country better, with grass, and water in plenty. Left again at 2.30pm, and proceeding 10 miles further, came to some cliffs on the eastern side (dark brown clay) 12 feet high. I had now come by estimation 35 miles up, and had not got to Burial Reach, or anything like it, by Stokes's description; no "grassy islands," or ''sloping banks down to the water's edge clothed with grass," but only mangrove and mud, and one or two sunken islands with the tops of mangrove a foot above water as we passed them, to indicate their position. The country around here is the best I have seen in the Gulf, and the grasses, of which there are varieties, very good, with the timber larger and looking more healthy than any part of the Albert. But, finding no traces of any one, and the upper part of the river here not agreeing with its description, I began to fear I must be in a wrong river, so I determined to start on the turn of tide, return to the ship, and make a further exploration of the coast to the eastward of this entrance. At 10.15pm started with the first of the tide downward, and in a dead calm, with much thunder and lightning all round the compass.

Monday, 30 December 1861.
At 7.30am the storm having passed seaward, stood out of the river to the bar, and waited until turn of tide and north-west A or sea-breeze to fetch the ship, which we did at 3.30pm. On examining Stokes's book and chart with the first lieutenant, I found there could be no doubt of my having been up the Flinders, and that the difference in time of tide in seeing these places makes so much difference in their appearance. Stokes appears to have gone up and down at night. I passed from the first position [A] right up, by daylight.


Saturday, 11 January 1862.
Started at daylight in three parties to examine plains. These ape mud, mostly overflown at springtides, but some of the rises above high water-mark, and on one of these came upon the track of one horse and one man, with shoes or boots ; tracks led north, and were afterwards discovered leading south. In the afternoon went to examine camel-tracks at Station G of chart, where the country being higher assumes quite a different appearance, there being cliffs of brown clay 20 feet high, whose summits are clothed with acacia, box, gum and native wild plum. Tracks of camels could not be identified.

Tuesday, 21 January 1862.
Squally with rain, but much less wind from west-north-west.  Ordered the annual survey of all stores to be held, and in the afternoon proceeded in the gig to Bentinck island to try and get up a friendly feeling with the natives there. On closing in with the beach they came down, about 30 of them, men and boys, fully armed. Seeing they were hostilely inclined, I did not land, but proceeded further south away from them, and there landed, which was no sooner done than they were after us. On their corning up, tried to show them by every means that we were not come to do them harm, but to give them some presents, I at once did by giving them two tomahawks ; they then laid their arms down, but would not leave them for a moment, or come near us. Seeing they were so very suspicious, I thought it better to leave them for the present, and. did so, going over to Fowler's Island to look at it. I found it of a rocky formation of the same nature as up the Flinders River, with some good dark soil on the top, on which good grass was growing, but no timber but stunted mangrove, and no water fit for anything.

Thursday, 6 February 1862.
Landsborough returned from his exploration to south-west; had reached depot 19th January (v. postea), and was anxious to start south-east. No casualties.

Wednesday, 12 February 1862.
On landing, there being only two natives seen, with much persuasion I induced them to come near to receive the gifts, after they had been made to understand by signs and gestures that all was for them and their families. I ordered the boat's crew to go down to the boat, which was about 300 yards off from us, which they all did. I followed them myself about 10 minutes after, with my back to the two men, who had kept their spears in hand all the time. I had not got more than 25 or 30 yards from them, when a noise behind made me turn suddenly round, dropping at the same time my umbrella on my shoulder; as I did so I discovered both these treacherous savages in the act of poising a spear each; and stepping stealthily after me, not more than 10 yards off. My sudden discovery of their intended object by facing them, put them into confusion, and they stole away as if ashamed of being found out. Their wives and children have always been kept at a long distance, but nothing seemed treacherous in their behaviour further than that circumstance, and their not being inclined at any time to lay down their arms. I am now satisfied they are treacherous and bloodthirsty. After leaving them, they ran down and took charge of their boat and the presents, and seemed much delighted, judging by the noise they made. At 4.30 weighed and took our departure from the island, with the wind light from the north-west, and sultry weather. Latitude, at noon, 15° 55' S; longitude, 140° 4' 45" E. Thermometer, 95° in cabin; on deck in the sun, 130°; stokehole, 145°.

Monday, 17 February 1862.
At 6pm brought up under No. VIII. Island in 6½ fathoms water, with 50 fathoms of cable. On approaching the place to anchor, observed a danger not noted on the Chart or Strait Pilot.

Tuesday, 18 February 1862.
Fresh south-east gale with continued rain until 1pm. On examining the above shoal at daylight, and finding it to be a coral-reef, with only 18 inches water on it, of about 20 yards diameter, steep all round, and right in the fairway of any vessel anchoring at or passing this .island, to avoid the doubtful rocks to the eastward of it, directed Lieutenant Woods to survey and fix its position ; and the weather moderating in the afternoon, took two boats, the galley and the cutter, to look for the doubtful rock (Chilcott Rocks) to the eastward. At 5pm (low water) found them both, passing with galley over the northernmost, with only 18 inches of water. on it, and pulled up to the south one, which is about 150 yards  from it, north and south, and with 7 fathoms of water between them, and steep to all round. This I found was awash, and had a lump of broken dead coral on it, on to which the bowman held the boat while bearings were taken, which were found to agree in everyway with the position marked on the Admiralty Chart for the bank, with 1 fathom on it, and from which Chilcott Rocks bear about north true 150 yards.

Thursday, 27 February 1862.
Anchored in Port Denison.

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