Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia eBook

Philip Parker King
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 567 pages of information about Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia.

In the month of December hot winds from the north-west will sometimes last for two or three days, and are almost always suddenly terminated by a gust of wind from the southward.  The most prevailing winds, during all seasons, are from the south, and are probably oftener from the eastward of that point than from the westward.  The current always sets to the southward, and has been found by us on several occasions to set the strongest during a South-East gale.  The general course of the current is in the direction of the coast, but this is not constant; for, between Port Stevens and to the southward of Port Jackson, it sometimes sets in towards it.  In a gale from the South-East in the month of December 1820, it must have been setting as much to the westward as South-West.  This should be attended to, particularly in south-easterly gales, and an offing preserved to provide against the wind’s veering to East-South-East and East by South, which is often the case; and then the current, setting upon the weather-bow, will place the vessel, in a dark night, in considerable danger.  The rate of the current is generally about one mile per hour, but it sometimes though rarely runs at the rate of nearly three knots.

To the eastward in the space between New South Wales and New Caledonia the current sets to the North-West, which carries a great body of water into the bight between the former and New Guinea; but as Torres Strait offers but a very inconsiderable outlet the stream is turned, and sets to the southward until it gradually joins the easterly current which, from the prevalence of westerly winds, is constantly running between Van Diemen’s Land and Cape Horn.

The tides in this interval are of little consequence and in few places rise higher than six feet at the springs, excepting where they are affected by local circumstances.

There are but few places of shelter upon the east coast between Port Jackson and Breaksea Spit:  Captain Flinders points out Broken Bay, Port Hunter for small craft, Port Stephens, Shoal Bay for vessels not exceeding fifty tons, and Glass House (Moreton) Bay.  There are however other anchorages that might be resorted to in the event of being thrown upon a lee shore, which are equally good with Port Hunter, Shoal Bay, and Glass House Bay.

There is an anchorage behind Black Head to the north of Point Stevens which Lieutenant Oxley discovered to be an island; Port Macquarie also affords shelter for small vessels; and on the north side of Smoky Cape there is good shelter from southerly or south-easterly winds:  but the whole of these, excepting Broken Bay, are only attainable by small vessels.  A large ship must keep an offing; and as the coast is not at all indented the wind must blow very hard, and the ship sail very badly, to be placed in danger.  Wide Bay however is a very good port, and affords a safe and secure shelter; the anchorage being protected by a reef which fronts it.

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Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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