During this period, notwithstanding the want of fresh provisions and vegetables, and almost constant exposure to the vicissitudes of a variable climate, disease rarely attacked us; and the number of deaths, was too inconsiderable to deserve mention.
Norfolk Island had been taken possession of, by a party detached for that purpose, early after our arrival. Few accounts of it had yet reached us. And here I beg leave to observe, that as I can speak of this island only from the relations of others, never having myself been there, I shall in every part of this work mention it as sparingly as possible. And this more especially, as it seems probable, that some of those gentlemen, who from accurate knowledge, and long residence on it, are qualified to write its history, will oblige the world with such a publication.
Transactions of the Colony from the sailing of the First Fleet in July, 1788, to the Close of that Year.
It was impossible to behold without emotion the departure of the ships. On their speedy arrival in England perhaps hinged our fate; by hastening our supplies to us.
On the 20th of July, the ‘Supply’ sailed for Norfolk Island, and returned to us on the 26th of August; bringing no material news, except that the soil was found to suit grain, and other seeds, which had been sown in it, and that a species of flax-plant was discovered to grow spontaneously on the island.
A survey of the harbour of Port Jackson was now undertaken, in order to compute the number of canoes, and inhabitants, which it might contain: sixty-seven canoes, and 147 people were counted. No estimate, however, of even tolerable accuracy, can be drawn from so imperfect a datum; though it was perhaps the best in our power to acquire.
In July and August, we experienced more inclement tempestuous weather than had been observed at any former period of equal duration. And yet it deserves to be remarked, in honour of the climate, that, although our number of people exceeded 900, not a single death happened in the latter month.
The dread of want in a country destitute of natural resource is ever peculiarly terrible. We had long turned our eyes with impatience towards the sea, cheered by the hope of seeing supplies from England approach. But none arriving, on the 2d of October the ‘Sirius’ sailed for the Cape of Good Hope, with directions to purchase provisions there, for the use of our garrison.
A new settlement, named by the governor Rose Hill, 16 miles inland, was established on the 3d of November, the soil here being judged better than that around Sydney. A small redoubt was thrown up, and a captain’s detachment posted in it, to protect the convicts who were employed to cultivate the ground.