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Endeavour journal, 23 May 1770 (Series 03.637)

Notes: Page header reads: 'Bustard Bay'
Author: Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820
Date: 23 May 1770
Series title: Series 03: The Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks, 25 August 1768 - 12 July 1771
Frame numbers:
Transcript: 23. Wind blew fresh off the land so cold that our cloaks were very necessary in going ashore; as the ship lay a good way from the land we were some time before we got there; when landed however the sun recoverd its influence and made it sufficiently hot, in the afternoon almost intolerably so. We landed near the mouth of a large lagoon which ran a good way into the countrey and sent out a strong tide; here we found a great variety of Plants, several however the same as those we ourselves had before seen in the Islands between the tropicks and others known to be natives of the east Indies, a sure mark that we were upon the point of leaving the Southern temperate Zone and for the future we must expect to meet with plants &c . a part of which at least have been before seen by Europaeans. The Soil in general was very sandy and dry: tho it producd a large variety of Plants yet it never was coverd with a thick verdure. Fresh water we saw none, but several swamps and boggs of salt water; in these and upon the sides of the lagoon grew many Mangrove trees in the branches of which were many nests of Ants, one sort of which were quite green. These when the branches were disturbd came out in large numbers and revengd themselves very sufficiently upon their disturbers, biting sharper than any I have felt in Europe. The Mangroves had also another trap which most of us fell into, a small kind of Caterpiler, green and beset with many hairs: these sat upon the leaves many together rangd by the side of each other like soldiers drawn up, 20 or 30 perhaps upon one leaf; if these wrathfull militia were touchd but ever so gently they did not fail to make the person offending them sensible of their anger, every hair in them stinging much as nettles do but with a more acute tho less lasting smart. Upon the sides of the hills were many of the trees yeilding a gum like Sanguis draconis: they differd however from those seen in the last harbour in having their leaves longer and hanging down like those of the weeping willow, tho notwithstanding that I beleive that they were of the same species. There was however much less gum upon them; only one tree that I saw had any upon it, contrary to all theory, which teaches that the hotter a climate is the more gums exsude. The same observation however held good in the plant yeilding the Yellow gum, of which tho we saw vast numbers we did not see any that shewd signs of gum.

On the shoals and sand banks near the shore of the bay were many large birds far larger than swans which we judg'd to be Pelicans, but they were so shy that we could not get within gunshot of them. On the shore were many birds, one species of Bustard, of which we shot a single bird as large as a good Turkey. The sea seemd to abound in fish but unfortunately at the first hawl we tore our seine to peices; on the mud banks under the mangrove trees were innumerable Oysters, Hammer oysters and many more sorts among which were a large proportion of small Pearl oysters. Whither the sea in deeper water might abound with as great a proportion of full grown ones we had not an opportunity to examine, but if it did a pearl fishery here must turn out to immence advantage.

Those who stayd on board the ship saw about 20 of the natives, who came down abreast of the ship and stood upon the beach for some time looking at her, after which they went into the woods; we on shore saw none. Many large fires were made at a distance from us where probably the people were. One small one was in our [ ] neighbourhood, to this we went; it was burning when we came to it, but the people were gone; near it was left several vessels of bark which we conceivd were intended for water buckets, several shells and fish bones, the remainder I suppose of their last meal. Near the fires, for their were 6 or 7 small ones, were as many peices of soft bark of about the lengh and breadth of a man: these we supposd to be their beds: on the windward side of the fires was a small shade about a foot high made of bark likewise. The whole was in a thicket of close trees, defended by them from the wind; whether it was realy or not the place of their abode we can only guess. We saw no signs of a house or any thing like the ruins of an old one, and from the ground being much trod we concluded that they had for some time remaind in that place.