LOWENDAL ISLAND and TRIMOUILLE ISLAND were seen by us, but not any vestige of HERMITE ISLAND, which the French have placed in their chart. From M. de Freycinet’s account, the two latter islands were seen at different times; and since Trimouille Island has a reef extending for five miles from its north-western extremity, as Hermite Island is described to have, there seems to be good reason to suppose that there is but one; had there been two, we should have seen it on passing this part in 1822.*
(Footnote. Vide volume 1.)
From the reasons mentioned in the narrative, there remains no doubt in my mind that Barrow’s Island, and Lowendal and Trimouille Islands (which the French called the Montebello Islands) are the long lost TRYAL ROCKS. The latitude and description answer very exactly; the longitude alone raises the doubt, but the reckonings of former navigators cannot be depended upon, and errors of ten or twelve degrees of longitude were not rare, of which many proofs might be found, by comparing the situations of places formerly determined with their position on the charts of the present time. Many old navigators were not very particular; and never gave the error of their account upon arriving at their destined port, either from shame or from carelessness and indifference.
A reef of rocks is said to exist in latitude 20 degrees 17 minutes 40 seconds, and longitude 114 degrees 46 minutes 6 seconds. They were seen by Lieutenant Ritchie, R.N., in the command of a merchant brig, as appears by an account published in the Sydney Gazette.
EXMOUTH GULF terminates the North-west Coast of Australia; it is thirty-four miles wide at its entrance (between the North-west Cape and Cape Locker) and forty-five miles deep. Its eastern side is formed by a very low coast, the particulars of which were not distinguished, for it is lined by an intricate cluster of islands that we could not, having but one anchor, penetrate among. In the entrance is Muiron Island, and two others, h and i; and within the gulf they are too numerous to distinguish: all the outer ones have been assigned correct positions to, as have all between Exmouth Gulf and Dampier’s Archipelago. The islets y and z are the outer ones of the group; between which and the western shore there is a space of fourteen miles in extent, quite free from danger, with regular soundings between nine and twelve fathoms on a sandy bottom. Under the western shore, which is the deepest, there are some bays which will afford anchorage; but the bottom is generally very rocky. In the neighbourhood of the Bay of Rest, the shore is more sinuous, and in the bay there is good anchorage in three and four fathoms, mud. Here the gulf is twelve miles across, and from three to six fathoms deep; but the eastern side is shoal and very low. The gulf then shoalens and narrows very much; and at fifteen miles farther terminates in an inlet, or, as has been subsequently conjectured, a strait communicating with the sea at the south end of the high land that forms the western side of the gulf, and which is doubtless the identical Cloates Island that has puzzled navigators for the last eighty years. It perfectly answers the descriptions that have been given; and the only thing against it is the longitude; but this, like that of the Tryal Rocks, is not to be attended to.