One of these boats returned in a few days, without having seen any thing of them; but Lieutenant Shortland proceeded with the other, a whale boat, as far as Port Stephens, where he thought it probable they might have taken shelter; but on the 19th, having been absent thirteen days, he returned without discovering the smallest trace of them or the boat. His pursuit, however, had not been without its advantage; for on his return he entered a river which he named Hunter river, about ten leagues to the southward of Port Stephens into which he carried three fathoms water, in the shoalest part of its entrance, finding deep water and good anchorage within. The entrance of this river was but narrow, and covered by a high rocky island, lying right off it, so as to leave a good passage round the north end of the island, between that and the shore. A reef connects the south part of the island with the south shore of the entrance of the river. In this harbour was found a very considerable quantity of coal of a very good sort, and lying so near the water side as to be conveniently shipped; which gave it, in this particular, a manifest advantage over that discovered to the southward. Some specimens of this coal were brought up in the boat.
About this time a small decked long boat arrived from Norfolk island, and brought an account that the master of the American snow Mercury had landed there the remainder of the people who had been left by Captain Bampton in Dusky Bay. When the Endeavour was wrecked there about 20 months before*, the governor, not having any vessel at Port Jackson fit for such a purpose, had expressed a wish to the master of the snow, to this effect, when he was about leaving New South Wales. The master made no objection, only stipulating that he might be permitted to take from the wreck such stores as he might be in want of, but to this the governor could not give his sanction, leaving him only to make what terms he could with any of the people belonging to her whom he might find alive. This service he performed under many difficulties, and brought off all that now remained of these unfortunate people, amounting to 35 in number, and landed them at Norfolk Island.
[* Vide Vol I Ch. XXX Page 384, viz: ’By letters received from Mr. Bampton, who sailed from his place in the Endeavour in the month of September last, we now heard, that on his reaching Dusky Bay in New Zealand his ship unfortunately proved so leaky, that with the advice and consent of his officers and people she was run on shore and scuttled.’ and
Vol I Ch. XXX Page 388, viz: ’On the 17th the vessel built by the shipwright Hatherleigh at Dusky Bay arrived, with some of the people left behind by Mr. Bampton. They were so distressed for provisions, that the person who had the direction of the vessel could not bring away the whole; and it was singularly fortunate that he arrived as he did, for with all the economy that could be used, his small stock of provisions was consumed to the last mouthful the day before he made the land.’]