Thomas Keppel’s Diary

Diary of the Hon Thomas Robert Keppel

17 January 1827
Sailed on a three months cruise in company with a Tender commanded by Lieut Preston containing stores and provisions.

27 January 1827
Anchored in the Derwent River off Hobart Town Van Diemens Land. Went on several shooting expeditions & bagged lots of parrots & some quail. While at anchor off the river H.M. Ship Rainbow Captain the Hon Henry Bow arrived.

8 February 1827
Sailed for Black Swan River. Constant gales of wind. After the first week lost sight of our tender & ………… no more until our return to Sydney. He had lost his rudder & ………. Narrowly escaped being wrecked.

7 March 1827
Anchored 5 miles from the entrance to the Swan River. Three boats went up the river with Captain Stirling, Lt Belches, a Botanist *note, an artist whom we had brought with us from Sydney & two or three Midshipmen.
After ten days’ absence they returned having succeeded in reaching the source of the river & making plans and charts of the coast.
Suffered much from want of provisions & water. The latter we obtained by scratching holes in the sands after the ….. had ….. but it was barely fit to drink. We killed a number of seals & as food thought these not bad eating, but some found that they produced dysentery & fever.
There was an abundance of sharks of a large size.

21 March 1827
Commenced coasting to the Southward. Constantly saw the natives and occasionally sent a boat to communicate with them but they retired into the woods. On one occasion however we succeeded by …….. of presents to induce two of them to come on board. They had evidently never seen a European nor a ship before. We gave them part of an old …….. which they did not ….. to ….., but …….. …….. ………. a saw fish which we had just caught. We dressed them up in Marines clothes & gave then knives & beads. As soon as they landed the jackets were torn to pieces, & each one who was so fortunate to obtain a piece tied in around his neck. During the whole time we were on the coast we never saw a native woman excepting at Sydney. The natives wear no clothing, have large bushy heads of hair and are hideously ugly.
The average height of the Thermometer was 72 degrees, the extreme being 54 deg and 59 degrees of or 63o to 70o of Fahrenheit. I should have mentioned that we left on Garden Island, off the Swan River, one cow, two ewes in lamb & three goats. On this island we found a great number of iguanas; – capital eating.
The water birds were black swan, ducks, geese, white & black cockatoos, parrots & parroquets, pigeons, quails, hawks, eagles, etc.
NB Captain Stirling was so charmed with Swan River & reported so favourably of it to the Admiralty that Government determined on making it the site of a new colony & appointed him to act as Lieut Governor.

2 April 1827
Anchored in King George’s Sound where a settlement has been formed but which did not seem in a flourishing state.

3 April 1827
Sailed for Port Jackson.

* Mr Fraser