On the top of Richmond Hill we shot a hawk, which fell in a tree. Deedora offered to climb for it and we lent him a hatchet, the effect of which delighted him so much that he begged for it. As it was required to chop wood for our evening fire, it could not be conveniently spared; but we promised him that if he would visit us on the following morning, it should be given to him. Not a murmur was heard; no suspicion of our insincerity; no mention of benefits conferred; no reproach of ingratitude. His good humour and cheerfulness were not clouded for a moment. Punctual to our appointment, he came to us at daylight next morning and the hatchet was given to him, the only token of gratitude and respect in our power to bestow. Neither of these men had lost his front tooth.
Which I ever undertook in the country I am describing was in July 1791, when Mr. Dawes and myself went in search of a large river which was said to exist a few miles to the southward of Rose Hill. We went to the place described, and found this second Nile or Ganges to be nothing but a saltwater creek communicating with Botany Bay, on whose banks we passed a miserable night from want of a drop of water to quench our thirst, for as we believed that we were going to a river we thought it needless to march with full canteens.
On this expedition we carried with us a thermometer which (in unison with our feelings) shewed so extraordinary a degree of cold for the latitude of the place that I think myself bound to transcribe it.
Monday, 18th July 1791. The sun arose in unclouded splendor and presented to our sight a novel and picturesque view. The contiguous country as white as if covered with snow, contrasted with the foliage of trees flourishing in the verdure of tropical luxuriancy*. Even the exhalation which steamed from the lake beneath contributed to heighten the beauty of the scene. Wind SSW. Thermorneter at sunrise 25 degrees. The following night was still colder. At sunset the thermometer stood at 45 degrees; at a quarter before four in the morning, it was at 26 degrees; at a quarter before six at 24 degrees; at a quarter before seven, at 23 degrees; at seven o’clock, 22.7 degrees; at sunrise, 23 degrees, after which it continued gradually to mount, and between one and two o’clock, stood at 59.6 degrees in the shade. Wind SSW. The horizon perfectly clear all day, not the smallest speck to be seen. Nothing but demonstration could have convinced me that so severe a degree of cold ever existed in this low latitude. Drops of water on a tin pot, not altogether out of the influence of the fire, were frozen into solid ice in less than twelve minutes. Part of a leg of kangaroo which we had roasted for supper was frozen quite hard, all the juices of it being converted into ice. On those ponds which were near the surface of the earth, the covering of ice was very thick; but on those which were lower down it was found to be less so, in proportion to their depression; and wherever the water was twelve feet below the surface (which happened to be the case close to us) it was uncongealed. It remains to be observed that the cold of both these nights, at Rose Hill and Sydney, was judged to be greater than had ever before been felt.