Book: A Source Book of Australian History
Author: Gwendolen H. Swinburne

A Source Book of Australian History By Gwendolen H. Swinburne

Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 242
Publication Date: 1919

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The Spaniard Torres was probably the first European to sight Australia (Cape Yorke); but Tasman was the first who consciously discovered the Great South Land. In his search for fresh fields for trade, he came upon Tasmania and New Zealand.

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Journal or description drawn up by me, ABEL JAN TASMAN, of a Voyage made from the town of Batavia in E. India for the discovery of the unknown Southland, in the year of our Lord 1642, the 14th of August. May God Almighty vouchsafe his Blessing on this work. AMEN.

Note.—Days reckoned from midnight to midnight. Longitude calculated from meridian of Peak of Teneriffe.

Item the 23rd Nov.—Good weather with a south-easterly wind and a steady breeze; in the morning, we found our rudder broken at top in the tiller hole; we therefore hauled to windward under reduced sail and fitted a cross beam to either side. By estimation the west side of Nova Guinea must be North of us.

Item the 24th do. Good weather and a clear sky. In the afternoon about 4 o'clock we saw land bearing East by North of us; at about 10 miles distance by estimation. The land we sighted was very high. Towards evening we also saw S.S.E. of us three high mountains, and to the N.E. two more mountains, but less high than those to southward. This land being the first we have met with in the South sea and not known to any European nation, we have conferred on it the name of Anthoony Van Diemenslandt, in honor of the Hon. Governor-General, our illustrious master, who sent us to make this discovery; the islands circumjacent so far as known to us, we have named after the Hon. Councillors of India.

Item 28th do. In the evening we came under the shore. There are under the shore some small islands one of which looks like a lion.

Item 29th do. In the morning were still near the rock which looks like a lion's head. Towards noon passed two rocks; the most westerly looks like Pedra Branca, which lies on the coast of China, the most easterly, looking like a high rugged tower, lies about 16 miles out from the mainland. Ran through between these rocks and the land. We came before a way which seemed likely to afford a good anchorage upon which we resolved to run into it. We again made for the shore, the wind and current having driven us so far out to sea that we could barely see the land.

Item 1st Dec. We resolved that it would be best and most expedient to touch at the land, the sooner the better; both to get better acquainted with the land and secure refreshment for our own behoof. About one hour after sunset we dropped anchorage in a good harbour, for all of which it behooves us to thank God Almighty with grateful hearts.

Item 2nd do. Early in the morning we sent our own pilot Major Francoys Jacobz in command of our pinnace manned with 4 musketeers and 6 rowers, all of them furnished with pikes and side arms together with the cockboat of the Zeehaen, with one of her second mates and six musketeers in it, to a bay situated N.W. of us at upwards of a mile's distance in order to ascertain what facilities (as regards fresh water, refreshments, timber and the like) may be available there. About three hours before nightfall the boats came back, bringing various samples of vegetables, which they had seen growing there in great abundance, some of them in appearance not unlike a certain plant growing at the Cabo de Bona Esperance, and fit to be used as pot-herbs; and another species with long leaves and brackish taste strongly resembling persil de mer or samphou. The pilot Major and second mate of the Zeehaen made the following report, to wit:

That they had rowed the space of upwards of a mile round the said point where they had found high but level land, covered with vegetation and not cultivated but growing naturally (by the will of God) abundance of excellent timber and a gently sloping watercourse in a barren valley; the said water though of good quality being difficult to procure, because the watercourse is so shallow that the water could be dipped with bowls only.

That they had heard certain human sounds, and also sounds resembling the music of a small trump or a small gong not far from them though they had seen no one.

That they had seen two trees about 2 or 2-1/2 fathoms in thickness measuring from 60-65 feet from the ground to the lowermost branches, which trees bore notches made with flint implements, the bark having been removed for the purpose; these notches forming a kind of steps to enable persons to get up the trees and rob birds' nests in their tops were fully five feet apart; so that our men concluded that the natives here must be of very tall stature or must be in possession of some sort of artifice for getting up the said trees. In one of the trees these notched steps were so fresh and new that they seemed to have been cut less than four days ago.

That on the ground they discovered the footprints of animals, not unlike those of a tiger's claws. They also brought on board a small quantity of gum, of a seemingly very fine quality, which had exuded from trees, and bore some resemblance to gum-lac.

That at one extremity on the point of the way they had seen large numbers of gulls, wild ducks, and geese, but had perceived none further inward though they had heard their cries, and had found no fish except different kinds of mussels forming small clusters in various places.

That the land is pretty generally covered with trees, standing so far apart that they allow a passage everywhere and a look-out to a great distance, so that when landing, our men could always get sight of natives or wild beasts unhindered by dense shrubbery or underwood, which would prove a great advantage in exploring the country.

That in the interior they had in several places observed numerous trees which had deep holes burnt into them at the upper end of the foot while the earth had here and there been dug out with the fist so as to form a fireplace; the surrounding soil having become as hard as flint through the action of fire.