The Logbooks of the Lady Nelson Part 13


The Logbooks of the Lady Nelson

The Logbooks of the Lady Nelson Part 13

"Wednesday, 7th September. Moderate breezes and cloudy: sail-maker making a main top-mast stay-sail. At 10 unmoored and made sail across the bay.

"Thursday, 8th September. Ditto weather, came to in the bay in 8 fathoms 1/2 past 3 breeze from the eastward, weighed and made sail up the Derwent: 6.30 came to in 8 fathoms above Stainforth's Cove.

"Friday, 9th September. Light breezes and cloudy weather: at 4 made sail for Risdon Cove: at 3 came to in the cove in 4 fathoms.

"Sunday, 11th September. At 8 came on board Captain Bowen from the Albion sent the longboat to a.s.sist in getting her into the Cove.

"Monday, 12th September. Sent some of the stores belonging to the colony on sh.o.r.e: the longboat a.s.sisting the Albion discharging.

"Tuesday, 13th September. Moderate and cloudy weather. Employed landing stores.

"Monday, 19th September. Struck lower yards and top-gallant mast. A.M.

Fresh breezes and squally, landed bricks for the colony.

"Tuesday, 20th September. Moderate breezes and cloudy. Supplied the colony with 1/2 a barrel of Powder and a bell.

"Thursday, 29th September. Getting ready for sea: 10.30 in long boat.

A.M. fresh breezes and cloudy with rain: 1/2 past 5 weighed and made sail down the Harbour: out longboat to tow, at 7 made sail in boat.

"Friday, 30th September. P.M. Strong gales with heavy squalls of rain: 1/2 past 1 a heavy gale from south-east bore up for Ralphes Bay.

", 1st October. A.M. Pleasant weather: up lower yards, set the rigging up, moored: at 7 weighed and made all sail down the river.

"Sunday, 2nd October. Let go the kedge the vessel drifting on Risdons Island, shortened sail: 1/4 before 12 a breeze from the north-west up kedge. Made sail down River Derwent.

"Tuesday, 11th October. P.M. Strong gales and clear weather: at 6 Pigeon House west 10 or 12 miles.

"Wednesday, 12th October. Strong gales and cloudy. At 10 saw a schooner to windward.

"Thursday, 13th October. Calm and cloudy: 1/4 before 8 strong gales with heavy squalls of rain. A.M. North Head 12 miles.

"Friday, 14th October. Moderate and cloudy with heavy swell from south-east: at 1 the Pilot came on board: 1/4 past 4 came to in the cove with best bower.

", 15th October. Light breezes and cloudy. Moored in Port Jackson.

"Thursday, 27th October. At 5 slipped the mooring and made sail out of the cove: at 10 the South Head, Broken Bay north-north-west 12 miles.

"Friday, 29th October. Saw a schooner to northward, at 5 hove to, spoke her, found her to be the Resource from Wreck Reef: at 10 came to in Broken Bay in 5 fathoms. Working up the river to Hawkesbury.

"Tuesday, 1st November. Moderate and clear weather. At 2 came abreast the Wash in 4 fathoms: moored. Down top-gallant yards, found the top-gallant yard sprung.

"Wednesday, 2nd November. Fresh and squally with thunder, lightning and rain: came on board carpenter to build a bulkhead forward for the corn.

"Friday, 4th November. Moderate and fair, at 4 furled sail. Hauled alongside wharf to take in the corn, received 710 bushels.

"Monday, 7th November. Light breezes and clear. Received 210 bushels of corn.

"Tuesday, 8th November. Light breezes and dark cloudy weather with heavy rain, thunder, and lightning. A.M. At 8 made ye signal for sailing with a gun. At noon strong breezes.

"Monday, 10th November. P.M. At 5 weighed and made sail: at 4 came to with the best bower in 3 fathoms.

"Friday, 11th November. P.M. Light breezes and clear: at 11 weighed and towed down the river. A.M. Calm and foggy: 1/2 past 3 came to in Sackville Reach in 2 1/2 fathoms.

", 12th November. Calm and hot sultry weather, 1/2 past 12 weighed and towed down the river.

"Sunday, 13th November. At 1 weighed and towed down the river, at 4 came to. A.M. Calm and cloudy weighed and made sail down the river.

", 19th November 1803. At 2 weighed and made sail down the river.

Up top-gallant yards, at 7 came to in Pitt's Water. A.M. Light breezes and cloudy. At daylight weighed and made sail: at 4 calm and cloudy: came to.

"Sunday, 20th November. P.M. Calm. At 1 a breeze from the north-east.

Weighed and made sail, at 2 all sail set, standing out of the Bay at 4 ditto weather: at 9 came to in Sydney Cove: furled sails and took in the moorings. A.M. Strong breezes and cloudy, down top gallant yards.

"Friday, 25th November. Employed receiving the wood and water. Delivering the iron and wine received for Norfolk Island and got ready to go to Port Phillip.


The log of George Curtoys ends on November 25th when he was taken ill and went on sh.o.r.e to the Naval hospital at Sydney. We hear little of his subsequent career, beyond that he retired from the Royal Navy and settled down at the island of Timor,* (* The Sydney Gazette (1814) says that the ship Morning Star, Captain Smart, brought the above news concerning Captain Curtoys to Sydney. Captain Curtoys' brig had left Surabaja for Timor three months before Captain Smart's arrival at that port.) becoming commander of a brig, which occasionally traded with Surabaja.




George Curtoys was succeeded in the command of the Lady Nelson by Acting Lieutenant James Symons, who, like himself, had come to New South Wales as a midshipman in H.M.S. Glatton under Captain Colnett. Symons afterwards served on board the Buffalo, and doubtless gained much knowledge of the Australian coast while he was in that ship. She is well known on account of her many pioneering voyages, and it is also recorded that her figure-head was the effigy of a kangaroo, and for this reason, on her first arrival in Sydney, she became an object of no little interest to the natives. Symons' appointment was somewhat hurriedly made, when, after Curtoys had been sent to sick quarters on sh.o.r.e, the ship Ocean arrived from Port Phillip. Her commander, Captain Mertho, brought important despatches to the Governor from Colonel Collins, who had been instructed by the British Government to form a settlement at that spot.

The establishment had been conveyed from England in two ships, H.M.S.

Calcutta, Captain Woodriff, and the Ocean, Captain Mertho.* (* The ships left England in April, 1803, and arrived at Port Phillip on the 7th and 8th of October.) Colonel Collins now reported that the site at Port Phillip, which he had originally chosen, was unsuitable, and asked King's permission to move the whole settlement to Tasmania.* (* Collins settled at what is now Sorrento. It is curious that no proper examination of the northern of Port Phillip was carried out by Colonel Collins. Had he done so, he must have found the Yarra.) His cousin, Mr. William Collins, who had accompanied him to Port Phillip, "in a private capacity," first volunteered to bring this despatch round to Sydney, and set forth in a six-oared boat. He was delayed by bad weather, and he and his party of six convict sailors were overtaken and picked up by the Ocean at Point Upright.

Governor King complied with Colonel Collins's request, and in replying to his letter acquainted him with the circ.u.mstances that had induced him to send Bowen with settlers to Hobart. At the same time he left Colonel Collins to decide whether he would move his people to that place or to Port Dalrymple on the northern of Tasmania. The Governor also gave orders for the Lady Nelson, then on the point of sailing to Norfolk Island, to be cleared of her cargo and to be made ready to sail with the Ocean back to Port Phillip. Two other ships--the colonial schooner Francis* (* This ship had been brought from England in frame in 1792, the Edwin was locally built, the property of Mr. Palmer, and commanded by Captain Stuart.) and the whaler Edwin--were also sent to render Colonel Collins all the a.s.sistance in their power.

The Lady Nelson left Sydney on Monday, November 28th, 1803. Among those who sailed with Lieutenant Symons was the well-known botanist, Mr. Robert Brown, late of H.M.S. Investigator, who wished to examine the neighbourhood of Port Phillip and also to visit Port Dalrymple in search of new plants.* (* Robert Brown, formerly an ensign in the Fifeshire Fencibles, was granted leave of absence to go with Captain Flinders in the Investigator.) The brig was singularly unfortunate in her pa.s.sage to Port Phillip. So rough was the weather on arriving in Ba.s.s Strait, that "after beating a fortnight against a south-westerly wind," she was eventually obliged to bear up for the Kent Group.* (* Robert Brown's Ma.n.u.script letters to Banks, describing the voyage, are preserved at the British Museum.) Twice she left her anchorage there in order to try to reach her destination, and twice she had to return to port again.

Meanwhile the Ocean, with Mr. William Collins and his sailors on board, arrived at Port Phillip on December 12th, and the Francis, bringing Governor King's despatches, on the following day.

On his way to Port Phillip, Mr. Rushworth, the Master of the Francis, in pa.s.sing Kent Group, had observed smoke rising from one of the islands, and being apprehensive for the safety of the Lady Nelson, he informed Colonel Collins of this fact. Accordingly, when Mr. William Collins sailed in the Francis for Port Dalrymple on the 24th, and with a view to reporting upon its suitability for a settlement, the Master was directed to call at the Group and ascertain who was on sh.o.r.e there. This he did, and he found the Lady Nelson still in the cove where she had sought refuge. Mr. Brown, during his enforced stay there, had explored all the islands of the group in search of botanical specimens, but he tells Banks that his collections were enriched by only "twelve new plants and nothing else." On her arrival the Francis was in a very leaky condition, so that at the suggestion of Mr. Collins she was sent back to Sydney, and the party appointed to survey Port Dalrymple was embarked in the Lady Nelson.

Two days later Lieutenant Symons sailed to Port Dalrymple, which he entered on January 1st, 1804, and where he remained until the 18th. A succession of gales made it quite impossible to put to sea after the survey of the had been completed. While the brig lay at anchor, Mr. Collins explored the River Tamar as far as One Tree Reach, and Mr.

Brown resumed his botanical researches; his letters show that he made several excursions into the inland country in order to examine its flora, which, however, he found disappointing. He writes to Banks: "The whole number of plants observed in this port did not much exceed 300, of which about 40 were new to me and, I believe, nondescript. From Port Dalrymple we had a short pa.s.sage to Port Phillip."

On January 21st, Colonel Collins was highly pleased at ascertaining the safety of the Lady Nelson, "of whose appearance," he writes to King, "I had for some time despaired." The account of Port Dalrymple, given by the surveying party, was favourable, but Colonel Collins had already decided that he could not do better than repair, with his establishment, to the Derwent. He came to this decision on account of some of the military at Port Phillip "manifesting an improper spirit," and he believed that on their joining the detachment of the New South Wales Corps at Hobart, then under Bowen, "a spirit of emulation would be excited and discontent checked."* (* See Historical Records of New South Wales volume 4, Collins to King.)

On January 25th all the settlers ordered to embark in the Lady Nelson went on board, and on Monday, 30th, in company with the Ocean, conveying Colonel Collins, she made sail out of Port Phillip Bay.* (* See Knopwood's Diary, edited by J. Shillinglaw, Melbourne. The Reverend R.

Knopwood was the Chaplain of Collins' establishment.) After a pa.s.sage of ten days, the brig anch.o.r.ed in Risdon Cove, the site of Bowen's settlement, the Ocean arriving a few days later. Colonel Collins did not think Risdon the most eligible spot for the purpose of a settlement, and he encamped "on the banks of a small but apparently constant stream, which empties itself into the second cove below Stainforth's Cove."

Collins named this place Sullivan's Cove,* (* After Mr. John Sullivan, Permanent Under Secretary for the Colonies.) "the settlement at Risdon remaining in every respect as he found it until Governor King's pleasure is known."* (* Brown's ma.n.u.script letter to Paterson.)

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