29th June 1836

South Atlantic
The Beagle crossed the Tropic of Capricorn for the sixth & last time. We were surprised & grieved by finding light northerly breezes, within limits generally occupied by a strong trade wind.

Not a lot, it seems, happening at sea at present, but very soon the Beagle stops at St. Helena and is driven by the prevailing winds/currents to Brazil.  So... much more to come as yet. (Roger R.)

18th June 1836


In the afternoon put to sea; our usual ill fortune followed us; first with a gale of wind, & then with scarcely any wind at all.

17th June 1836

Cape Town
Took a long walk with Mr Sullivan to examine several interesting features in the geology of the surrounding mountains.

16th June 1836

Cape Town
Returned to Simon's bay; the bad weather having set in caused our stay to be rather longer here than usual.

8th - 15th June 1836

Cape Town
During these days I became acquainted with several very pleasant people: With Dr A. Smith, who has lately returned from his most interesting expedition to beyond the Tropic, I took some long geological rambles. — I dined out several days, — with Mr Maclear (the astronomer), with Colonel Bell, and with Sir J. Herschel; this last was the most memorable event which, for a long period, I have had the good fortune to enjoy.

7th June 1836

Cape Town
At an early hour the next day we descended by Sir Lowry's pass, which like the last has been cut at much expence along the side of a steep mountain. From the summit there was a noble view of the whole of False Bay & of the Table mountain; & immediately below, of the cultivated country of Hottentot Holland. — The flat, covered with sand dunes, did not appear from the height of the tedious length, which we found it to be before reaching in the evening Cape town.

6th June 1836

Cape Town
My intention was to return by Sir Lowry Cole's pass, over the same chain of mountains but a little further to the South. Following unfrequented paths we crossed over an irregular hilly country to the other line of road. During the whole long day I met scarcely a single person, & saw but few inhabited spots or any number of cattle. A few Raebucks were grazing on the sides of the hills, & some large dirty white Vultures like the Condor of America slowly wheeled over the place where probably some dead animal was lying. There was not even a tree to break the monotomous uniformity of the sandstone hills. I never saw a much less interesting country. — At night we slept at the house of an English farmer.

5th June 1836

Cape Town
After riding about three hours, we came near to the French Hoeck pass. This is so called from a number of emigrant protestant Frenchmen having originally settled in a flat valley at the foot of the mountain: it is one of the prettiest places I saw in the colony. — The pass is a considerable work, an inclined road having been cut along the steep side of the mountain: it forms one of the principal roads from the low land of the coast to the mountains & great plains of the interior. We reached the foot of the mountains on the opposite or SE side of the pass a little after noon; here at the Toll-bar we found comfortable lodgings for the night. The surrounding mountains were destitute of trees & even of brushwood, but they supported a scattered vegetation of rather a brighter green than usual, the quantity however of white siliceous sandstone which every where protruded itself uncovered, gave to the country a bleak & desolate aspect.

4th June 1836

Cape Town
I set out on a short excursion to see the neighbouring country, but I saw so very little worth seeing, that I have scarcely anything to say. I hired a couple of horses & a young Hottentot groom to accompany me as a guide. he spoke English very well, & was most tidily drest; he wore a long coat, beaver hat, & white gloves! The Hottentots, or Hodmadods as old Dampier calls them, to my eye look like partially bleached negroes; they are of small stature, & have most singularly formed heads & faces. The temple & cheek bones project so much, that the whole face is hidden from a person standing in the same side position, in which he would be enabled to see part of the features of a European. Their hair is very short & curly.

Our first days ride was to the village of the Paarl, situated between thirty & forty miles to the NE of the Cape town. After leaving the neighbourhood of the town, where white houses stand as if picked out of a street & then by chance dropped down in the open country, we had to cross a wide level sandy flat totally unfit for cultivation. In the hopes of finding some hard materials, the sands have been bored along the whole line of road to the depth of forty feet. Leaving the flat, we crossed a low undulating country thinly clothed with a slight, green vegetation. This is not the flowering season, but even at the present time, there were some very pretty oxalis's & mesembryanthemums, & on the sandy spots, fine tufts of heaths. Even at this short distance from the coast, there were several very pretty little birds. — If a person could not find amusement in observing the animals & plants, there was very little else during the whole day to interest him: only here & there we passed a solitary white farm house.

Directly after arriving at the Paarl, I ascended a singular group of rounded granite hills close behind the village. I enjoyed a fine view from the summit; directly in front extended the line of mountains which I had to cross on the following morning. Their colors were grey, or partly rusty red, their outlines irregular but far from picturesque. The general tint of the lower country was a pale brownish green & the whole entirely destitute of wood-land. In the naked state of the mountains, seen also through a very clear atmosphere, I was reminded of Northern Chili, but the rocks there possess at least a brilliant colouring.

Immediately beneath the hill on which I was standing the long village of the Paarl extended, all the houses were very tidy & comfortable & white-washed; there was not a single hovel. Each house had its garden & a few trees planted in straight rows, & there were many considerable vineyards being at this time of year destitute of leaves. The whole village possessed an air of quiet & respectable comfort.

3rd June 1836

Cape Town
In Cape town it is said the present number of inhabitants is about 15,000, and in the whole colony, including coloured people, 200,000. Many different nations are here mingled together; the Europ├Žans consist of Dutch, French & English, & scattered people from other parts. The Malays, descendants of slaves brought from the East Indian archipelago, form a large body; they appear a fine set of men; they can always be distinguished by conical hats, like the roof of a circular thatched cottage, or by a red handkerchief on their heads. — The number of Negroes is not very great, & the Hottentots, the ill treated aboriginals of the country, are, I should think, in a still smaller proportion. The first object in Cape town which strikes the eye of a stranger, is the number of bullock waggons; several times I saw eighteen & heard of twenty four oxen being all yoked together in one team;2 Besides these, in all parts waggons with four, six, & eight horses in hand, go trotting about the streets.— I have as yet not mentioned the well known Table mountain; this great mass of horizontally stratified sandstone rises quite dose behind the town to a height of 3500 feet; the upper part forms an absolute wall, often reaching into the region of the clouds. I should think so high a mountain, not forming part of a platform & yet being composed of horizontal strata, must be a rare phenomenon; it certainly gives the landscape a very peculiar, & from some points of view, a grand character.

2nd June 1836

Cape Town
In the morning I walked to a neighbouring hill to look at the town. It is laid out with the rectangular precision of a Spanish city; the streets are in good order & macadamized, & some of them have rows of trees on each side; the houses are all white-washed & look clean. In several trifling particulars the town has a foreign air; but daily it is becoming more English. There is scarcely a resident in the town, excepting among the lowest order, who does not speak some English; in this facility in becoming Anglefied, there appears to exist a wide difference between this colony & that of Mauritius. This however does not arise from the popularity of the English, for the Dutch, as the French at Mauritius, although having profited to an immense degree by the English government, yet thoroughly dislike our whole nation. In the country universally there is one price for a Dutchman, & another & much higher one, for an Englishman; nevertheless some few of the Dutchmen have lately sent their sons to England to learn a proper system of agriculture.

All the fragments of the civilized world, which we have visited in the southern hemisphere, all appear to be flourishing; little embryo Englands are hatching in all parts. The Cape Colony, although possessing but a moderately fertile country, appears in a very prosperous condition. In one respect it suffers like New South Wales, namely in the absence of water communication, and in the interior being separated from the coast by a high chain of mountains. This country does not possess coal, & timber, excepting at a considerable distance, is quite deficient. Hides, tallow & wine, are the chief export, & latterly a considerable quantity of corn. The farmers are beginning also to pay attention to sheep grazing, a hint taken from Australia. It is no small triumph to Van Diemens Land, that live sheep have been exported from a colony of thirty three years standing to this one, founded in 1651.

1st June 1836

Cape Town
There being nothing worth seeing here, I procured a gig & set out for the Cape town, which is 22 miles distant. Both of these towns are situated within the heads, but at opposite extremities of a range of mountains, which is joined to the mainland by a low sandy flat. The road skirted the base of these mountains: for the first 14 miles the country is very desert; & with the exception of the pleasure which the sight of an entirely new vegetation never fails to communicate, there was very little of interest. The view however of the mountains on the opposite side of the flat, brightened by the declining sun, was fine.

Within seven miles of Cape town, in the neighbourhood of Wynberg, a great improvement was visible. In this vicinity are situated all the country houses of the more wealthy residents of the Capital. The numerous woods of young Scotch firs & stunted oak trees form the chief attraction of this locality; there is indeed a great charm in shade & retirement after the unconcealed bleakness of a country like this. — The houses & plantations are backed by a grand wall of mountains which gives to the scene a degree of uncommon beauty. I arrived late in the evening in Cape Town, & had a good deal of difficulty in finding quarters: in the morning several ships from India had arrived at this great inn on the great highway of nations, & they had disgorged on shore a host of passengers, all longing to enjoy the delights of a temperate climate. There is only one good hotel, so that all strangers live in boarding houses — a very uncomfortable fashion to which I was obliged to conform, although I was fortunate in my quarters.