The practice of purchasing the crops of the settlers for spirits had too long prevailed in the settlement; and the governor thought it absolutely necessary, by all the means in his power, to put an end to it; for it was not possible that a farmer who should be idle enough to throw away the labour of twelve months, for the gratification of a few gallons of poisonous spirits, could expect to thrive, or enjoy those comforts which were only to be procured by sobriety and industry. From such characters he determined to withdraw the assistance of government, since when left to themselves they would have less time to waste in drunkenness and riot.
In the night of the 19th of this month some thieves broke into the house of William Miller, (a young man who, on account of his good behaviour, had been allowed to exercise the trade of a baker,) and stole articles to the amount of fifty-six pounds, mostly property not belonging to himself. Suspicion falling upon some people off the store, they were apprehended; but in the morning the greater part of what had been stolen was found placed in a garden where it could be easily discovered, and restored to the owner.
On the day following, the governor, with a small party, undertook a second excursion to the retreat of the cattle. A few days previous to the governor’s departure, Mr. Bass, the surgeon of the Reliance, and two companions, set off in an attempt to round the mountains to the westward; but having soon attained the summit of the highest, they saw at the distance of forty or fifty miles another range of mountains, extending to the northward and southward. Mr. Bass reported, that he passed over some very fine land, and he brought in some specimens of a light wood which he met with.
The governor was not long absent. He saw the cattle ranging as before, although not exactly in the same spot, in the finest country yet discovered in New South Wales, and ascended a hill which from every point of view had appeared the highest in our neighbourhood. He fixed, by means of an artificial horizon, its latitude to be 34 degrees 09 minutes S nine miles to the southward of Botany Bay. The height of this hill, which obtained the name of Mount Hunter, was supposed to be near a mile from the base; and the view from the summit was commanding, and full of grand objects, wood, water, plains, and mountains. Every where on that side of the Nepean, the soil was found to be good, and the ground eligible for cultivation. The sides of Mount Hunter, though very steep, were clothed with timber to the summit, and the ground filled with the Orchis root.
The knowledge derived from this excursion was, that the cattle had not been disturbed, and that they had increased; ninety-four were at this time counted.
About the same time the people of a fishing-boat returned from a bay near Port Stephens, into which they had been driven by bad weather, and brought in with them several large pieces of coal, which they said they found at some little distance from the beach, lying in considerable quantity on the surface of the ground. These people having conducted themselves improperly, while on shore, two of them were severely wounded by the natives, one of whom died soon after he reached the hospital.