Having been directed to seek for the wild cattle while in their neighbourhood, he reported, that about five or six miles from the place where we usually found them, he suddenly fell in with the most numerous herd that he had yet seen; in which he counted 170 very distinctly, and afterwards saw a few stragglers. It was some satisfaction to know that they were perfectly safe.
By the Francis, the governor received one of the animals on which the people had chiefly lived during their abode on Preservation Island. It was brought to him alive, but thin and faint for want of food, which, owing to its state of confinement on board the vessel, it would never take. It, however, appeared to recover on shore; and, although during the short time it lived, it was not observed to eat during the day, yet there was reason to think it was not so abstemious in the night. It was offered flesh; but this it would not touch, although it was supposed to visit the nests of the puffin which burrowed on the island.
This animal had been found to the southward and south-westward, by Wilson and his companions, who shot one, and, in their want of provisions, might be said to feast upon it. They observed, that it resembled pork in flavour, though not in colour, being red and coarse. It was very fat, as were the kangaroos which they found in the interior; differing in that point very widely from any kangaroos which had been before seen; not a particle of fat having ever been found on one of them.
The mountain natives named this new animal Wombat, and said it was good eating; but it was wholly unknown to those who were admitted into the settlement.
The men who, in the beginning of January last, had boarded and carried off the boat belonging to Owen Cavanagh, were heard of again. About the latter end of this month, a report was brought in, that a piratical boat was infesting the harbour of Broken Bay, and the Hawkesbury. The day following, the governor received a letter signed by these men, in which they professed to repent of their former conduct, and implored forgiveness. They said, they had been wrecked about 400 miles to the northward, when they with difficulty got on shore, saving as much of the remains of Cavanagh’s boat as enabled them to build a smaller, in which they had returned, and surrendered themselves to justice; pretending to have had their eyes opened to the danger with which attempts at desertion from the colony must ever be attended, and promising to convince the minds of their ignorant countrymen that every such attempt must be followed by inevitable ruin. The language of this letter was far above the capacity of any of the party; and the part of their story which related to their building a boat capable of carrying the whole number so great a distance wore very little appearance of probability. The truth was, they had by some means reached as far as Broken Bay, where they had been lurking about for