Notwithstanding it was the anxious care of every one who could prevent it, that the venereal disease might not be introduced into the settlement, it was not only found to exist amongst the convicts, but the very sufferers themselves were known to conceal their having it. To stop this evil, it was ordered by the governor, that any man or woman having and concealing this disorder should receive corporal punishment, and be put upon a short allowance of provisions for six months.
Lieutenant Dawes of the marines was directed in public orders to act as officer of artillery and engineers; in consequence of which the ordnance of the settlement, and the constructing of a small redoubt on the east side, were put under his direction.
Mr. Zachariah Clark, who came out of England as agent to Mr. Richards the contractor, was at the same time appointed an assistant to the commissary; and the issuing of the provisions, which was in future to be once a week, was put under his charge.
In the course of this month a stone building was begun on the west side for the residence of the lieutenant-governor, one face of which was to be in the principal street of the intended town.
The governor, desirous of acquiring a knowledge of the country about the seat of his government, and profiting by the coolness of the weather, made during the month several excursions into the country; in one of which having observed a range of mountains to the westward, and hoping that a river might be found to take its course in their neighbourhood, he set off with a small party, intending if possible to reach them, taking with him six days provisions; but returned without attaining either object of his journey—the mountains, or a river.
He penetrated about thirty miles inland, through a country most amply clothed with timber, but in general free from underwood. On the fifth day of his excursion he had, from a rising ground which he named Belle Vue, the only view of the mountains which he obtained during the journey; and as they then appeared at too great a distance to be reached on one day’s allowance of provisions, which was all they had left, he determined to return to Sydney Cove.
In Port Jackson another branch extending to the northward had been discovered; but as the country surrounding it was high, rocky, and barren, though it might add to the extent and beauty of the harbour, it did not promise to be of any benefit to the settlement.
The governor had the mortification to learn on his return from his western expedition, that five ewes and a lamb had been destroyed at the farm in the adjoining cove, supposed to have been killed by dogs belonging to the natives.
The number of sheep which were landed in this country were considerably diminished; they were of necessity placed on ground, and compelled to feed on grass, that had never before been exposed to air or sun, and consequently did not agree with them; a circumstance much to be lamented, as without stock the settlement must for years remain dependent on the mother-country for the means of subsistence.