On or about Monday the 10th of March, the French ships sailed from Botany Bay, bound, as they said, to the northward, and carrying with them the most unfavourable ideas of this country and its native inhabitants; the officers having been heard to declare, that in their whole voyage they no where found so poor a country, nor such wretched miserable people. During their stay in Botany Bay, they set up the frames of two large boats which they brought out from Europe, to replace those they lost at Maouna, and on the north-west coast of America. We had, during their stay in this country, a very friendly and pleasant intercourse with their officers, among whom we observed men of abilities, whose observations, and exertions in the search after knowledge, will most amply illustrate the history of their voyage: and it reflected much credit on the minister when he arranged the plan of it, that people of the first talents for navigation, astronomy, natural history, and every other science that could render it conspicuously useful, should have been selected for the purpose.
We found after their departure the grave of the Abbe L. Receveur, who died but a short time before they sailed: he was buried not very far from the spot where their tents were erected, at the foot of a tree, on which were nailed two pieces of board with the following inscription:
Ex F. F. Minoribus
Physicus in Circumnavigatione Mundi
Duce D. de la Perouse
Obiit Die 17 Febr. Anno
Governor Phillip, on hearing that these boards had fallen down from the tree, caused the inscription to be engraven on a plate of copper, which was put up in place of the boards; but rain, and the oozing of gum from the tree, soon rendered even that illegible.
We continued to be still busily employed; a wharf for the convenience of landing stores was begun under the direction of the surveyor-general: the ordnance, consisting of two brass six-pounders on travelling carriages, four iron twelve-pounders, and two iron six-pounders, were landed; the transports, which were chartered for China, were clearing; the long-boats of the ships in the cove were employed in bringing up cabbage-tree from the lower part of the harbour, where it grew in great abundance, and was found, when cut into proper lengths, very fit for the purpose of erecting temporary huts, the posts and plates of which being made of the pine of this country, and the sides and ends filled with lengths of the cabbage-tree, plastered over with clay, formed a very good hovel. The roofs were generally thatched with the grass of the gum-rush; some were covered with clay, but several of these failed, the weight of the clay and heavy rain soon destroying them.
A gang of convicts was employed, under the direction of a person who understood the business, in making bricks at a spot about a mile from the settlement, at the head of Long Cove; at which place also two acres of ground were marked out for such officers as were willing to cultivate them and raise a little grain for their stock; it not being the intention of government to give any grants of land until the necessary accounts of the country, and of what expectations were likely to be formed from it, should be received.