Narrative of an expedition undertaken for the exploration of the country lying between Rockingham Bay and Cape York, by William Carron

No. II.

Capt. Dobson’s Statement.

Proceeded on the 2nd October last to Port Albany, to meet Mr. Kennedy’s exploring party, and to supply it with provisions. We arrived at Port Albany on the 27th October, and remained there till the 23rd December, when, in consequence of a signal, I went on shore, and learnt from Jackey Jackey the death of Mr. Kennedy, and the unfortunate fate of the expedition; and in consequence of this information we made preparations, and the next day we weighed anchor and sailed to Shelbourne Bay. Jackey informed us that Pudding-pan Hill, between Albany Point and Shelbourne Bay, was where Mr. Kennedy had left the three sick men; on proceeding there Jackey said it was not there, but on a hill like it further down; on arriving at Shelbourne Bay Jackey recognised the hill; we landed early in the morning, and fell in with the natives, and went inland, but could not get through the scrub; we came back to the beach and found a canoe, with the cloak produced in it; on the afternoon previous I thought I saw two natives on the beach, with cloaks or blue shirts on; we then pulled further on, and landed again, and went about six miles inland, but Jackey could not cross the track Mr. Kennedy had taken; he recognised the hill where the camp was, and said we might reach it tomorrow. At starting, Jackey said it would not take us long, and we, took no food with us. After a consultation, we agreed to return to the vessel, believing, from the cloaks on the natives, that the men must have perished. We then pursued our way to Weymouth Bay, and rescued Mr. Carron and Goddard. We brought with us what instruments we could from the camp — they were not many — as Mr. Carron was hardly in a state to tell me what was there. We then consulted and determined to come on at once to Sydney, as from what Jackey told us it was thought useless to return to look for the men at Shelbourne Bay. I should have returned to the camp at Weymouth Bay to save everything, but for the hostility of the natives, who surrounded us in great numbers, and as soon as we had left the camp rifled it.

Dr. Vallack’s Statement.

A full account of proceedings taken by the Ariel, from the time of Jackey’s arrival at Cape York, on the 23rd December, 1848, up to the time of her departure from Weymouth Bay, on the 31st December, 1848, being a copy from my journal.



Saturday, 23rd December, 1848. — About eight o’clock A.M., Captain Dobson called down to me, saying that he thought Mr. Kennedy was arrived, as there was a black on shore with a shirt on and trousers. On going upon deck, the captain had left in the dingy for the main land, where the black was standing, I observed with the glass and the naked eye, the black first standing, then walking very lame, then sitting down on a rock on the main land. The dingy made there, and took him on board. It turned out to be Jackey, of Mr. Kennedy’s party, who looked very haggard and told a woeful tale. After being on board I wished to take down depositions, fearing anything might happen to him from over-excitement. Depositions were taken, before which he became faint, and a glass of wine revived him, which lie told us afterwards, made him “budgeree”, (that is well again.) I consulted with the captain as to what should be done, and it was immediately determined upon to leave Port Albany with all possible speed, to save the surviving parties at Pudding-pan Hill and Weymouth Bay, three men at the former place, and the rest at the latter. It being necessary to take the sheep with us, they were all but three shipped in the evening, and prompt orders given for the vessel to be got ready for a start in the morning the first thing. In the mean time I went on shore with the captain to get the bullock in to kill, Barrett, as well, on horseback, and we found it was impossible to get him in he was so wild, he was therefore shot at the far and south end of the island, with the intention of bringing as much as possible of the carcass away. It getting late in the evening, however, none was taken away, nor is there time now to do so, and to do also an act of duty and humanity to the yet living human beings.

Sunday, 24th December. — Before ten A.M., a dead calm; at turn of tide or rather before, weighed anchor, but the tide took us towards Cape York a mile; the tide now turned, and a gentle breeze took us through the strait. The breeze continued, and at sundown we anchored five miles south of Cape Shadwell, Mount Adolphus bearing N.N.W., seven leagues; employed during the day conversing with Jackey, taking down in pencil what he had to say, changing the subject now and then by speaking of his comrades at Jerry’s Plains. I did so as he told me what kept him awake all last night was thinking about Mr. Kennedy. Saw three native fires on our voyage here, one on this south end of Albany Island, one between it and here, and one on shore abreast of us.

December 25th, Monday. — At daylight in the morning a dead calm, and the hottest day we have had, the sun was so glaring that the altitude could not be taken. At about a quarter before ten A.M. a light breeze came on and we left our anchorage, the breeze increased a little, before eleven; saw what appeared to be an island at first; on nearing, found it to be a canoe, about fifteen feet long, with seven or eight natives in it, shearing about, sometimes in one direction, some. times in another. After a little we heard them calling out, “paoud,” “whappee,” “chauca,” some of them standing up. I named to the captain that I thought they must be from Cape York, from their words, and that it would be at least desirable to glean information from them, if possible, concerning Mr. Kennedy. The captain said, “We will not call out ‘pound,’” (which means peace) but occasionally the words “chauca,” “biskey,” were called out from the ship. They from this drew close to the vessel, very wary, however, in doing so. Jackey was placed in the fore-top, and word came that Jackey knew all those fellows, that they were the party who speared Mr. Kennedy. One black was allowed to come on board, and whilst he was partly in the ship, word came to me b y Parker (a seaman), that Jackey wanted to speak to me. On going to Jackey, he said, “‘That fellow,” pointing to the one named, “is the fellow that speared Mr. Kennedy; I gave him a knife, keep him, bale let him go. All those fellows threw spears at Mr. K.” This native was immediately secured. He struggled hard, and it was as much as three men could do to secure him. The other blacks in the canoe now jumped overboard, and observing now that the native secured had a part of a bridle round his arm, and a piece of sinew, or tendon of a horse, and Jackey being so positive as to identity, it was determined to examine the canoe, and an order was given to fire over their heads, whilst they (the blacks) were endeavouring to recover the canoe. The ship’s long-boat was sent after the canoe, but in the meantime the blacks had recovered it, and a hard chase took place, the blacks paddling away towards the shore. The boat overhauled them, when a shot was fired from the boat, and as the boat closed upon them I saw the blacks jump overboard again, and afterwards the ship’s boat bring back the canoe. During this time several shots were fired over them, and near them, from the ship. The boat returned in about twenty minutes from the time of leaving, with the canoe. Barrett said to me when alongside that he was speared, and that he had shot the black who had speared him, and who was now in the canoe nearly dead. It appears that one black had stuck to his canoe, and on the ship’s boat nearing it, had thrown a spear into Barret’s arm, and was on the eve of throwing another at him, when Barrett shot him. I went into the canoe, and examined the black, and found the ball had gone through his body, entering on the one side and coming out on the other side. The ball must have gone through the stomach, from its direction. He was now dying — nearly dead. The canoe was chopped up, and, with the black, disappeared a short time afterwards. I dressed Barrett’s wounds, three of them, of a triangular shape, in the lower and fleshy part of the fore arm. From the canoe was brought the leg part of a pair of trowsers, three spears, a piece of iron of a saddle, hooks and lines, &c.; and a piece of moleskin was taken off the native’s leg, which Jackey says was part of his trowsers, which he tied round Mr. Kennedy’s head when he buried him, Jackey being sure that they had dug up Mr. K. I observed at the time that the native was nearly on board, the moment he and they saw Jackey, they looked at each other as if every thing was not right. Previously to their jumping overboard, when Jackey showed the native the spear wound over his eye, he would quickly turn away and not look him in the face. Whilst the native was being secured, after being removed to the fore part of the vessel, a mutton bone with meat was offered him which he grappled at and ate voraciously, saying, “paoud, paoud.” The wind increased and was fair, and Jackey pointed out a hill ahead of us which he said was like Pudding-pan Hill, near which the three men were left. This Hill was Pudding-pan Hill, according to the Chart. As we neared Pudding-pan Hill, Jackey said, that is not the place, that he had been mistaken, and, on continually looking at it, he became the more confirmed and positive, and said it was no use whatever to land there, but that we must go further on; we passed the hill; in the meantime, the captain and I consulted as to what should be done, knowing this was the only Pudding-pan Hill on the chart; but Jackey, who had been placed on the fore-top, became more and more positive, saying at length, “Do you think I am stupid? — Mr. Kennedy sent me from the camp to look out the coast, so that I might know it again when I came back in the ship, and I will tell you when we come to it, the ship must go on that way further,” pointing to the south. Proceeding on, towards evening, off Hannibal Bay, saw numerous native fires, and in one spot I observed about forty natives. Before sun-down a canoe was making off to us, but after sun-set we gradually lost sight of it, and some time after this we anchored.

Tuesday, 26th December, 1848. — At twenty minutes to six A.M., got under weigh with a light breeze; in the centre of Hannibal Bay, Risk Point ahead. In about ten minutes we struck on a coral reef, and soon got off again; we anchored this day in Shelbourne Bay, opposite where Jackey wished us to proceed to recover the three men; he was sure this was the place, seeing the mountain which Mr. Kennedy called Pudding-pan Hill, and other mountains there, which were wanting at the Pudding-pan Hill of the chart; he was perfectly confident as to this being the right place (it may be here stated that this hill is the very fac-simile of the Pudding-pan Hill of the chart.) In sailing in the bay we found the water getting very shallow, from three to four, and lastly, when we anchored, two and a-half fathoms, and this unfortunately, was a long way off from. the land, say three or four miles; after consultation with the captain and Jackey, our main guide, we determined on going on shore at the place pointed out by Jackey before daylight on the following morning; during this afternoon several fires, about five, were in sight along the coast in the bay, and not many natives seen; I saw five; after a time it had been determined who should be the party to go to recover the three men. The captain, Jackey, Barrett, Thomas (the sailor), and myself, formed the party. The evening was employed in getting our guns in good order for the morrow. The captain thought he observed on shore natives with wearing apparel on.

Wednesday, 27th December, 1848. — At three o’clock AM., the captain called me, and such had been the preparation last night that in a quarter of an hour we were in the longboat, steering for the shore, and just as daylight was peeping we were near the shore in shallow water, and a fire sprung up nearly in front of us a little way in from the beach. The boat struck on the ground, and we waded through the water for about a hundred yards or more knee deep. Jackey took the lead, the captain and I following, Barrett and Tom behind, and mounted the low scrubby cliff about two hundred yards from where we saw the fire. On we trudged through dense scrub inland for about an hour, When Jackey said we must go further up that way, pointing more in the south part of the bay; that is where I want to go, said he, and that we had better cross there in the boat and recommence the trip. We hailed the boat on reaching the coast, which was anchored off a little, and waded off to it. Having seen a great smoke last evening and apparently one this morning, some distance beyond where Jackey wished us to land, he was asked if we should go first to this native fire and camp, and see if they have anything there belonging to the three men, and Jackey said, yes. We proceeded there, a distance of about four miles to the southernmost part of the bay, and landed, but could discover only the remains of a bush fire and no camp; we now left this part and proceeded to exactly where Jackey pointed out on the beach, more in the central part of the bay, some three miles across, and landed, telling the men in the boat to anchor a little higher up to the north, where Jackey said we should come out at by-and-bye. We left word with the men in the boat that we may be away for three hours or more, and that we should fire a gun on our return, which was to be answered by them.

Jackey now was head and leading man in every sense of the word, and away we went in a westerly direction, for about, say, five or six miles; Jackey telling us to look out behind and all about for the blacks. After proceeding some four miles of the distance, we came to a creek where we stopped for a few minutes; Jackey was evidently tired, not recovered, and couldn’t walk fast, and although we went off at first at a good pace, Jackey was getting lame, and had been obliged to sit down three times on the journey. About two miles beyond this creek Jackey got up into a tree, and returned saying he could see the mountain near which the camp was, but that it was a long way off, that we could not get there to night, but that we must camp in the bush, and get there tomorrow. It here became necessary to pause. The ship was left with two hands only in her, anchored in shallow water, and the Captain said promptly that he could not proceed farther without great risk of losing the ship, either from its coming on to blow, or that natives may attack her in their canoes; (here I may say what has been omitted, viz., that in the early part of the morning we saw and examined a canoe close to where we first landed, and found part of a cloak in it, which Jackey immediately pronounced as belonging to the white men at the camp) and it was determined, well considering all circumstances, to return to the ship, which we did, coming out on the beach under mangroves, at the very spot we told Jackey to come out at on our leaving. We arrived at the ship at twelve minutes before four P.M. During our absence the men in the boat had seen on the beach from fifty to one hundred natives. We saw none. The day has been very hot, and we are in a fix, surrounded by reefs, and some little anxiety is existing as to how we shall get out again. We have determined to proceed to Weymouth Bay, and in so doing I have taken everything into consideration. We have eight men to attend to at Weymouth Bay. In all probability the three men here are dead, for when Jackey left them, Costigan was nearly dead, and Luff was very ill. The cloak taken from the canoe shows that the blacks have found their camp, and had we gone on there, which would have taken a day or two at least more, we should only have found, I verily believe, as Jackey says, “bones belonging to white fellows.” After getting on board, Jackey went to sleep, thoroughly done up. He fell asleep also in coming off in the boat.

Thursday, December 28. — This has been a day of anxiety. We left a little after daylight, not without feelings of disappointment and dissatisfaction at not having been successful in rescuing the men, whom it was possible might be yet alive. We were surrounded by reefs, a light breeze, and fair depth of water-called out by the leadsman, 2, 2½, 2, 3 fathoms, until after some time we got into deeper water, and passed out of the Bay in safety. Not a fire had been seen on the shore all night, nor was there a native to be seen this morning from the vessel. We passed numerous islands, until the Piper Islands came in sight. We calculated upon making them for an anchorage, but a squall came on, and the wind shifted, and we were compelled to anchor at half-past seven P.M., in fifteen fathoms water, near a reef, Some native fires were seen on the coast today. I find the native on board understands and speaks the same language as the Port Albany blacks, and repeats all their names to me. He eats and drinks heartily, and lends apparently a most willing hand towards securing himself with the leather straps.

Friday, 29th December. — Left our anchorage at daylight, in the morning passed between the Piper Islands and Bald Head. When off Fair Cape saw a smoke on the shore, and three natives, who immediately disappeared in the scrub and were seen no more. On rounding the Cape it became a dead calm, and it was intensely hot; we saw a smoke and a large fire ahead of us. Jackey recognised the land and said the smoke was at the mouth of a river which Mr. K. and he had crossed after leaving the camp. The land where the camp and eight men were Jackey pointed out ahead of us, opposite to Weymouth Bay; a heavy squall and thunder storm with rain came on very suddenly, and beyond the mouth of the river, with the camping hill ahead of us, we came to an anchor, between two and three o’clock P.M.; could not see any flag-staff on the hill pointed out by Jackey, and which hill is very conspicuous and bald, nor could we see any symptom of living beings along the coast in the bay. It was too great a distance to land to-night, and the captain said if it came on to blow the boat could not be got back again. Employed the other part of the day in looking through the glass and with the naked eye to see the flag-staff and flag, or any other sign, (Jackey having informed us they would have a flag on the top of the hill,) but none was to be seen, not a native, and I have reason to believe every one of the eight have been sacrificed; it looks suspicious not seeing a native, for Jackey says they used to bring fish to the camp, and there were plenty of them. The captain is to take the ship in as near as possible to the hill, and it is determined to go on shore with the same party who assisted us at Shelbourne Bay, and go up to the camp to morrow well armed. All has this evening. a solemn, silent, inexpressible gloom; no rockets, no gun, no fire, tomorrow will tell a tale.

Saturday, 30th December, 1848. — At daylight this morning the ship was got under weigh, and sailed nearer in towards the hill which Jackey had pointed out as being the hill where “camp sit down,” and anchored in about two fathoms of water about half a mile off the land. Five canoes were now seen creeping off towards us from under the mangroves, with from five to ten natives in each, (there was yet no flag or any token of white people on the hill); the canoes gradually neared in a string, and one came cautiously alongside, making signs and saying “ferraman,” “ferraman,” “white man,” “white man,” and pointing towards Jackey’s mountain. We were at first doubtful whether they were disposed to be friendly or not, and afterwards seeing some children with them and one or two females, we concluded they were friendly disposed, and that they knew the parties at the camp. A few lines were written to the party at the camp, stating a vessel was in the bay, and the beaver, one of the natives, would take them to it. This was given to one of the natives in the first canoe, and Jackey, whom the natives recognised, beckoned and motioned to them to take the note to the camp. In the meantime the captain and I had determined as soon as the boat could be got ready, to proceed according to Jackey’s instructions to the camp. The boat left with our party, and Jackey directed us some distance off in the wake of the canoes, there being nothing but a mangrove swamp on the shore near us. We landed beside of a creek knee deep in water, among some mangroves. Here we got out of the boat, Jackey, the captain, Barrett, and myself, Tom, the sailor, who had accompanied us before, saying he could not go, that he had a bad leg. We were a little disappointed here, but said nothing, and proceeded, Jackey leading, myself, the captain, and Barrett following, through a mangrove swamp, for some considerable distance, all well armed. Getting out of the swamp we came upon a beautiful flat, and followed up a creek which Jackey said would lead up to the camp. After getting on (keeping a good look-out) for about two miles, Jackey doubled his pace, and all at once said with great emphasis, “I see camp.” “Well done, Jackey,” I think was exclaimed by all of us at the same moment. Jackey, still going on at a sharp pace, stopped for, a moment and said, “I not sure, I believe it is hole through tree,” and suddenly, with greater excitement than before, he exclaimed, “See two white fellows sit down, and camp.” We were now on one side of the creek: down the creek we went, and up on the other side in double quick time, and a scene presented itself. On the side of the hill, not two hundred yards from us, were two men sitting down, looking towards us, the tent and fire immediately behind them; and on coming up to them, two of the most pitiable creatures imaginable were sitting down. One had sufficient strength to get up; the other appeared to me like a man in the very last stage of consumption. Alas! alas! they were the only two left of the eight, the remainder having died from starvation. Whilst here we were considering what was best to be done, when natives in great numbers were descried watching our movements. Jackey said, “Doctor,” calling me aside, “now I tell you exactly what to do, you see those black fellows over there,” (and in pointing to them I saw a great number, some eight hundred yards away, peeping from behind trees,) “you leave him tent, everything, altogether there, and get the two white fellows down to the boat quick.” Jackey was exceedingly energetic, and grave as well. Getaway as quick as possible, was resounded by all, but what was to be done — two men almost dead to walk two or three miles. We looked over the tent, asked Carron for what important things there were, and each laid hold of what appeared to be of most value, the captain taking two sextants, other parties fire-arms, &c., &c. “Come along,” again and again Jackey called out, and the captain too, whilst they were half way down towards the creek, and Barrett and I loading ourselves. I took a case of seeds, some papers of Carron’s, a double gun, and pistol, which, together with my own double gun and brace of pistols, thermometer, and my pockets full of powder and shot, was as much as I could manage. Seeing Carron could not get along, I told him to put his hands on my shoulders, and in this way he managed to walk down, as far as nearly through the mangrove swamp, towards the water’s edge, when he could not in that way possibly get any further, and Barrett, with his disabled arm, carried him down to the edge of the water. Goddard, the other survivor, was just able to walk down, spoke, and looked exceedingly feeble. They were brought on board at noon, and attended to according to my instructions. Carron’s legs were dreadfully swollen, about three times their natural size, from adema. In the afternoon both reviving and thanking God for their deliverance. I was for some time afraid of Carron. At ten P.M. — they are both doing well, and, I trust, will be enabled to tell their own tale, which renders it unnecessary for me to write it down here. I told the captain to proceed direct on to Sydney. Jackey, Carron, and Goddard, and the captain, stating it would be running too great a risk to go to recover anything from the tent, moreover, with so small a party as the captain, Jackey, and myself, (Barrett really being unfit to go), and the sailors all refusing to go. I consider the captain deserves considerable credit for his actions throughout in exerting himself to rescue the survivors.

Sunday, December 31. — At daylight got under weigh and took our departure from Weymouth Bay for Sydney. Carron and Goddard were some considerable time in getting better; the former being subject to daily fits of ague, &c., &c.

Thursday, January 11, 1849. — The black native had made his escape during the night, whilst it was raining and blowing hard; we were at this time anchored about one and a-half or two miles from Turtle Reef, and a distance of eight miles from Cape Bedford, the nearest of the mainland; search was made on the reef, but no marks of him; a strong current was making towards Cape Bedford, and he might have taken that direction. Two large sharks were seen about the ship this morning; it is our impression the man can never have reached the land; the black was seen by Parker, on deck, at two A.M., whilst it was thundering, lightning, and raining, but was never seen afterwards.

Thursday, February 13, 1849. — Extracted part of a spear, an inch long, from Barrett’s arm.



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