The Passage from the Cape of Good Hope to Botany Bay.
We had hardly cleared the land when a south-east wind set in, and, except at short intervals, continued to blow until the 19th of the month; when we were in the latitude of 37 deg 40 min south, and by the time-keeper, in longitude 11 deg 30 min east, so that our distance from Botany Bay had increased nearly an hundred leagues since leaving the Cape. As no appearance of a change in our favour seemed likely to take place, Governor Phillip at this time signified his intention of shifting his pennant from the Sirius to the ‘Supply’, and proceeding on his voyage without waiting for the rest of the fleet, which was formed in two divisions. The first consisting of three transports, known to be the best sailors, was put under the command of a Lieutenant of the navy; and the remaining three, with the victuallers, left in charge of Captain Hunter, of his Majesty’s ship Sirius. In the last division was the vessel, in which the author of this narrative served. Various causes prevented the separation from taking place until the 25th, when several sawyers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and other mechanics, were shifted from different ships into the ‘Supply’, in order to facilitate his Excellency’s intention of forwarding the necessary buildings to be erected at Botany Bay, by the time the rest of the fleet might be expected to arrive. Lieutenant Governor Ross, and the Staff of the marine battalion, also removed from the Sirius into the Scarborough transport, one of the ships of the first division, in order to afford every assistance which the public service might receive, by their being early on the spot on which our future operations were to be conducted.
From this time a succession of fair winds and pleasant weather corresponded to our eager desires, and on the 7th of January, 1788, the long wished for shore of Van Diemen gratified our sight. We made the land at two o’clock in the afternoon, the very hour we expected to see it from the lunar observations of Captain Hunter, whose accuracy, as an astronomer, and conduct as an officer, had inspired us with equal gratitude and admiration.
After so long a confinement, on a service so peculiarly disgusting and troublesome, it cannot be matter of surprise that we were overjoyed at the near prospect of a change of scene. By sunset we had passed between the rocks, which Captain Furneaux named the Mewstone and Swilly. The former bears a very close resemblance to the little island near Plymouth, whence it took its name: its latitude is 43 deg 48 min south, longitude 146 deg 25 min east of Greenwich.
In running along shore, we cast many an anxious eye towards the land, on which so much of our future destiny depended. Our distance, joined to the haziness of the atmosphere, prevented us, however, from being able to discover much. With our best glasses we could see nothing but hills of a moderate height, cloathed with trees, to which some little patches of white sandstone gave the appearance of being covered with snow. Many fires were observed on the hills in the evening.