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THE THREE SOUTHERN RIVERS—THE CLARENCE, THE RICHMOND,
AND THE TWEED.
Know ye the land of the cedar and vine,
I HAVE already stated, that in the year 1799, Lieutenant Flinders was despatched from Sydney, in a small Colonial vessel, by Governor Hunter, to examine two inlets to the northward, indicated by Captain Cook, but not explored. The following is an account of that part of his voyage, which records his discovery and partial examination of Shoal Bay, already referred to, extracted from Captain Collins' Account of the Colonies of Port Jackson and Norfolk Island, Vol. II.
p. 230 :
“ At half-past three," (August 11th, 1799,) peaked hill, standing four or five miles inland, and more conspicuous than usual, bore true west. Before five, the vessel stood in for what appeared to be an opening, and about dusk was in the entrance to a wide Shoal Bay; soon after which, she anchored in two and a-half fathoms on a hard sandy bottom.
6. The objects in view, that induced Mr. Flinders to enter this bay, were that he might have daylight to run along the remaining part of the coast, which had been passed by Captain Cook in the night, and to ascertain a place of safety to run for, should the wind come dead on the coast on his return.
“On examining this bay in his boat, he found it to be very shallow. The north point of the entrance into it was only a projecting spit of sandy ground. Having returned to the sloop about noon, he landed on the south head for the purpose of observing for the latitude, which, by a meridional altitude of the sun, he found 29° 26' 28", for the entrance into the Bay.
“ This bay not appearing to deserve more than a superficial examination, Mr. Flinders did not think it worth consuming much of his time, and therefore got under weigh at one o'clock in the afternoon of the 12th.
“ He could not give any particular mark that would point out the situation of Shoal Bay, except its latitude, and the somewhat remarkably peaked hill, lying about four leagues to the southward of it. Were any vessel ever likely to visit it, it would be necessary to observe that either of two heads, which bore from the vessel S.W. by W., and W. by N., behind which there was some appearance of an inlet, might be mistaken for the South Head of the Bay.”
It was not likely that any vessel from New South Wales would think of visiting Shoal Bay from choice, after this virtual sentence of condemnation pronounced upon it; and, accordingly, the noble river that empties itself into it remained unknown till it was accidentally discovered by some cedar-cutters from Sydney in the year 1838. Shortly thereafter, an expedition was planned by a few private individuals in Sydney, to explore the newly-discovered river, and to ascertain its capabilities; and S. A. Perry, Esq., the Deputy-Surveyor-General of the Colony, being invited to form one of the party, the following Report on the subject was submitted by that Officer to His Excellency the Governor, on his return :