THE 20TH - On the 20th [10 January], as the Casuarina was to be ready to leave by night or, at the latest, by the following morning, I wrote these letters to Citizens Freycinet and Boullanger, our geographer.
The Commander etc. to Citizen Freycinet aboard the Casuarina
As soon as your ship is repaired, you are to set sail and proceed directly to an examination of the West coast of the first gulf, opposite which we are anchored and whose eastern coast is formed by the high land visible to East-North-East. We went up this gulf to the latitude of 34° 38' and from that point had a perfect view of the land from North to North-North-West. But we found the water so shallow then that it was not possible for us to stand in close enough to examine it well.
Your ship's small draught will make easier for Citizen Boullanger, our geographer, who is to accompany you, the work that remains to be done on this part, especially as it is not much and will not require a great deal of time, for you are not to concern yourself at all with the East coast, which was thoroughly explored by this ship.
You are, therefore, to proceed straight to the North upon leaving and so reach the head of the gulf as soon as possible. You will then come down it, coasting the Western side. You are not to go into less than 2 fathoms of water. This is imperative, and you will be personally responsible to the government for anything that happens if you do not obey the order. The West coast of this first gulf seemed to us to be generally low-lying and, in several places, formed by sand-dunes. You must examine it cautiously and take frequent soundings so as to avoid stranding yourself upon any sand-banks, for I am assured that several shoals are to be found there.
At the southern end of this first gulf the coast forms a projecting cape, and the entrance to a second gulf appears. You will then sight several islands and islets to the South and West. There are various channels amongst them which are practicable, but they require prudence. You will leave these islands to the South without losing any time, for their respective positions have been determined by us already. Once in the second gulf, you will proceed as you did for the first - that is, you will immediately make northing in order to reach the head of it. You are not to concern yourself with the East coast, for it is known to us. We were only able to reach the latitude of 34° l l' when sailing up it, but I think it extends further North, and this is what you must find out. The point at which we stopped and would have started again, had the bad weather not prevented us, is easy to recognise, being conspicuous on account of a water-level reef close in to the shore, over which the sea breaks heavily. According to the reckoning of our course between midday and three o'clock and the bearings that were taken of this danger then, its latitude would be 34° 8'. It seemed to us to be the highest point of a sandbank which is visible at low tide and over which the sea then breaks roughly. We were in 8 fathoms, sandy bottom, at about a league off shore.
The East coast of this second gulf is low and consists of more or less high sand-dunes; but further to North North-East, where we did not go, some high parts are visible, which I suspect are inland mountain peaks.
Once you are at the head of this gulf (provided, however, that you can reach it without danger and without going into less than 2 fathoms of water), you will begin coasting the West side on your return south, having taken bearines of the eastern part, startine from the reef I have mentioned. The western land looked extremely high to us and perhaps you may find something of interest there. Near the southern tip of this same coast must be the small port* in which Mr. Flinders stayed for a fairly long time. You are to examine it and Citizen Boullanger will survey it.
If you get an opportunity to replace your water, do not fail to do so; but nevertheless be careful not to spend more time on it than is necessary. Allowing for the contrarinesses of the season, I consider fifteen or eighteen days to be more than sufficient for the work that you have to do. I shall wait here for you until then, but 1 warn you that if you are not back within twenty days at the most, 1 shall set sail for the St. Peter and St. Francis islands where I have plenty of things to do. The impossibility of being able to replace my water does not allow me to wait for you any longer. Since the government did not ask me for the topography of a few sterile and unproductive parts of New Holland, but simply for knowledge of the coast, you are only to go ashore at the place where you are certain of being able to obtain water easily. If you should come upon some large openings, you are to return here before examining them, so that I may take the ship there. This will also apply if what we have judged to be peninsulast should be islands.
The course that I have indicated to you in these instructions is undoubtedly the shortest; nevertheless you must change or modify it according to the winds that you find, for I am presuming them just as favourable for going North as for returning South. You may, therefore, hold whichever course suits the winds best, whether you begin with the first or with the second of these two gulfs.
Since I am determined to set sail if you are not back by the specified time, you are to return here to make sure that I have gone before you proceed to the islands of St. Peter and St. Francis, whither I plan to go. This group of islands lies in 32° 31' of South latitude and 131° 25' of longitude. I shall make every effort to sight the mainland coast to the North which I was unable to reach the first time that I visited the South side of the islands. They are uninhabited, so if you should see some smoke, it will undoubtedly mean that we have lit a fire to indicate to you that we are in the neighbourhood or that we have passed by there. If, as I fear, I am unable to obtain water on that part of the coast, I shall proceed to King George Sound, of which you have a chart in the atlas of Vancouver's voyage. From there I shall head for Géographe Bay on the Leetiwin coast.
If you should find us no longer here, you are to leave immediately for the St. Peter and St. Francis islands, making westing in this same latitude, if the winds permit, in order to get out promptly from amongst all the islets, rocks and reefs which lie oil a too northerly course and which, as well as the mainland coast, we already know. You will not take my little boat. It would undoubtedly be lost if I left it with you. Furthermore, it is of absolutely no use to you and would only retard your progress or endanger your ship, which will set sail tonight or tomorrow morning at the latest. On your return you will give me a written report of your work and remarks.
Your fellow-citizen, (Signed) N.B.