The people who were to labour for the public had in general been but scantily fed, and this operated against any great exertions. The settlers were not fed any better; and though they had an interest in working with spirit, yet they always looked to be supplied from the public stores beyond the time allowed them; and were consequently careless, indolent, and poor: while the officer, from the hour he received his grant, applied himself with activity to derive a benefit from it; and it was not too much to say, that the independence of the colony was more likely to be attained through their exertions, than by any other means. To encourage them, therefore, was absolutely necessary to accelerate and promote the prosperity of the colony.
One woman and six men, whose terms of transportation had expired, were permitted to quit the colony in the William.
Some natives, who had observed the increasing number of the settlers on the banks of the Hawkesbury, and had learned that we were solicitous to discover other fresh-water rivers, for the purpose of forming settlements, assured us, that at no very great distance from Botany Bay, there was a river of fresh water which ran into the sea. As very little of the coast to the southward was known, it was determined to send a small party in that direction, with provisions for a few days, it not being improbable that, in exploring the country, a river might be found which had hitherto escaped the observation of ships running along the coast.
Two people of sufficient judgment and discretion for the purpose being found among the military, they set off from the south shore of Botany Bay on the 14th, well armed, and furnished with provisions for a week. They were accompanied by a young man, a native, as a guide, who professed a knowledge of the country, and named the place where the fresh water would be found to run. Great expectations were formed of this excursion, from the confidence with which the native repeatedly asserted the existence of a freshwater river; on the 20th, however, the party returned, with an account, that the native had soon walked beyond his own knowledge of the country, and trusted to them to bring him safe back; that having penetrated about twenty miles to the southward of Botany Bay, they came to a large inlet of the sea, which formed a small harbour; the head of this they rounded, without discovering any river of fresh water near it. The country they described as high and rocky in the neighbourhood of the harbour, which, on afterwards looking into the chart, was supposed to be somewhere about Red Point. The native returned with the soldiers as cheerfully and as well pleased as if he had led them to the banks of the first river in the world.