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John MacGillivray
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 317 pages of information about Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Commanded By the Late Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S. Etc. During the Years 1846-1850..


Water the Ship. 
Vessel with Supplies arrives. 
Natives at Cape York. 
Description of the Country and its Productions. 
Port Albany considered as a Depot for Steamers. 
Sail from Cape York and arrive at Port Essington. 
Condition of the Place. 
History of the Settlement. 
Would be useless as a Colony. 
Leave Port Essington. 
Arrive at Sydney.

At length, on October 7th, we reached Cape York, and anchored in the northern entrance to Port Albany.  At daylight next morning two parties were sent in various directions in search of water.  I found no traces of natives in Evans Bay, but at another place, while digging in the bed of a watercourse, we were joined by a small party of them, one of whom turned out to be an old acquaintance.  They seemed to be quite at home in our company, asking for pipes, tobacco, and biscuit, with which I was fortunately able to supply them.  Indeed, a day or two before, some of them had communicated with the Asp in a most confident and friendly manner.  Had water been found near the best anchorage in Port Albany, it was Captain Stanley’s intention to have taken the ship there, but, as it appeared from the various reports, that Evans Bay was preferable at this time for watering, both as affording the largest supply, and the greatest facilities for obtaining it, the ship was accordingly removed to an anchorage off the south part of the bay, and moored, being in the strength of the tide running round Robumo Island.

Shortly after our arrival at Cape York, the two sets of old wells, dug by the Fly, were cleared out, and we completed water to seventy-five tons.  These wells are situated immediately behind the sandy beach—­they are merely pits into which the fresh water, with which the ground had become saturated during the rainy season, oozes through the sand, having undergone a kind of filtration.  At times a little surf gets up on the shore, but never, during our stay of three weeks, was it sufficient to interrupt the watering.


While the ship remained at Cape York, the Bramble, Asp, pinnace, and our second cutter, were engaged, under their respective officers, in the survey of Endeavour Strait and the Prince of Wales Channel, which they finished before we left, thus completing the survey of the Inner Route between Dunk and Booby Islands.  Previous to leaving for that purpose, the pinnace had been sent to Booby Island, for letters in the post office there, and some of us had the good fortune to receive communications from our friends in Sydney, which had been left by vessels passing through.  Most passing vessels heave-to off the island for an hour, the dangers of Torres Strait having been passed, and record their names, etc. in the logbook kept there, and by it we found, that with one exception, all this season had taken the Outer Passage, and most of them had entered at Raine’s Islet, guided by the beacon erected there in 1844, by Captain F.P.  Blackwood, of H.M.S.  Fly, thus demonstrating the superior merits of this passage over the other openings in the Barrier Reef, and the accuracy of the Fly’s survey.

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