19th February 1836

Syms Covington Journal
Doubled the southwest cape of Van Diemens land. Here we felt the cold.

17th February 1836

The Beagle stood out with a fair wind on her passage to K. George's Sound. The Gun-room officers gave a passage to England to Mr Duff of the 21st Reg.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
We sailed out of the picturesque Derwent, an arm of the sea extending inland many miles beyond Hobart Town, and thence worked our way southward round the Land of Van Diemen. We then steered westward, or as much so as the contrary winds would admit.

16th February 1836

[Modern New Norfolk]

The weather has been cloudy, which has prolonged our stay beyond what was expected. I went this day in a Stage Coach to New Norfolk. This flourishing village contains 1822 inhabitants. It is distant 22 miles from Hobart town; the line of road follows the Derwent. We passed very many nice farms & much Corn land. Returned in the evening by the same Coach.

12th - 15th February 1836

I had been introduced [to] Mr Frankland, the Surveyor General, & during these days I was much in his Society. — He took me two very pleasant rides & I passed at his house the most agreeable evening since leaving England. There appears to be a good deal of Society here: I heard of a Fancy Ball, at which 113 were present in costumes! I suspect also the Society is much pleasanter than that of Sydney. — They enjoy an advantage in there being no wealthy Convicts. — If I was obliged to emigrate I certainly should prefer this place: the climate & aspect of the country almost alone would determine me. — The Colony moreover is well governed; in this convict population, there certainly is not more, if not less, crimes, than in England.

Syms Covington Journal
Steam ferry-boats cross the river Derwent almost every hour of the day; that is from Hobart Town to Kangaroo Point, which is nearly opposite. Sixpence the fare; we went there during our stay though the ferries, made in the colony, crossed the river frequently.

A lighthouse IS situated on a small island in the river between the entrance and the place for shipping.

Hobart town now has 15,000 free subjects. Colonel G. Arthur superseded, Colonel William Sorell as Governor in May 1824, a post which he retains at this period. Van Diemen's Land, was in the first place, a penal colony for the Sister Colony, or New South Wales, in 1803 -- or a large jail, as it was termed -- until 1817 when Colonel William Sorell was appointed governor by our home government. On his arrival the population amounted to about 2000 souls, and depended on themselves and the Mother Country alone for every article of food and clothing. Under him every thing thrived in the island. At the close of his governorship, which was about seven years, the exports were large and valuable. Under him free emigration was greatly forwarded, under which policy he found the colony quickly thrived -- as before nearly all the population were convicts.

11th February 1836

I ascended Mount Wellington. I made the attempt the day before, but from the thickness of the wood failed. — I took with me this time a guide, but he was a stupid fellow & led me up by the South or wet side. Here the vegetation was very luxuriant & from the number of dead trees & branches, the labor of ascent was almost as great as in T. del Fuego or Chiloe, — It cost us five & a half hours of hard climbing before we reached the summit. — In many parts the gum trees grew to a great size & the whole composed a most noble forest. — In some of the dampest ravines, tree-ferns flourished in an extraordinary manner; — I saw one which must have been about twenty five feet high to the base of the fronds, & was in girth exactly six feet: — the foliage of these trees forming so many most elegant parasols created a shade gloomy like that of the first hour of night. — The summit of the mountain is broard & flat & is composed of huge angular masses of naked greenstone; its elevation is 3100 ft above the level of the Sea. — The day was splendidly clear & we enjoyed a most extensive view. — To the Northward the country appeared a mass of wooded mountains of about the same elevation & tame outline as the one on which we stood. To the South the intricate outline of the broken land & water forming many bays was mapped with clearness before us. — After staying some hours on the summit we found a better way to descend, but did not reach the Beagle till eight oclock, after a severe day's work.

Syms Covington Journal
The land is high and mountainous, Mt. Wellington the highest near town. I went up to the summit its summit, February 11th. From the town to the top is about eight or nine miles, I should suppose, but on very intricate roads. Its top is rugged, with low bushes and fresh water in small pools. The lake that is said to be there, is merely a small pool. Snipes are to be shot on summit occasionally or in season. The land here is much higher than at Sydney.

7th - 10th February 1836

During these days I took some long pleasant walks examining the geology of the country. The climate here is damper than in New S. Wales & hence the land is more fertile. Agriculture here flourishes; the cultivated fields looked very well & the gardens abounded with the most luxuriant vegetables & fruit trees. Some of the farm houses, situated in retired spots, had a very tempting appearance. The general aspect of the Vegetation is similar to that of Australia; perhaps it is a little more green & cheerful & the pasture between the trees rather more abundant. — One long walk which I took was on the opposite side of the Bay; I crossed in a Steam boat, two of which are constantly plying backwards & forwards. The machinery of one [of] these vessels was entirely manufactured in this Colony, which from its very foundation only numbers three & thirty years!

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
During a few days' stay in Sullivan Cove, the chief anchorage, we had opportunities of going to some distance into the country, and seeing things which led me to think that there is a more solid foundation for future prosperity in Van Diemen's Land than can be found near Sydney. Natural advantages are greater; and likely to increase as the country is cleared and inhabited — because rain is now almost too plentiful, though corn ripens well and is of excellent quality. As a convict colony, it of course partakes of the evils I have mentioned; but it does so in a far less degree, partly because the convicts sent there were of a less profligate and more reclaimable class than those landed at Sydney, and partly because an excellent local government restrained the licentious, and encouraged the moral to a far greater extent than was, or perhaps could be effected among the more numerous and dispersed population of Sydney and its environs.

5th February 1836

Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania)
After a six days passage, of which the first part was fine & the latter very cold & squally, we entered the mouth of Storm Bay: the weather justified this awful name. — This Bay should rather be called a deep Estuary, which receives at its head the waters of the Derwent. — Near its mouth there are extensive basaltic platforms, the sides of which show fine fa├žades of columns; higher up the land becomes mountainous, & is all covered by a light wood. — The bases of these mountains, following the edges of the bay, are cleared & cultivated; the bright yellow fields of corn & dark green ones of potato crops appear very luxuriant. Late in the evening we came to an anchor in the snug cove on the shores of which stands the capital of Tasmania, as Van Diemen's land is now called. — The first aspect of the place was very inferior to that of Sydney; the latter might be called a city, this only a town.

In the morning I walked on shore. — The streets are fine & broad; but the houses rather scattered: the shops appeared good: The town stands at the base of M. Wellington, a mountain 3100 ft high, but of very little picturesque beauty: from this source however it receives a good supply of water, a thing much wanted in Sydney. — Round the cove there are some fine warehouses; & on one side a small Fort. — Coming from the Spanish Settlements, where such magnificent care has generally been paid to the fortifications, the means of defence in these colonies appeared very contemptible. Comparing this town to Sydney, I was chiefly struck with the comparative fewness of the large houses, either built or building. I should think this must indicate that fewer people are gaining large fortunes. The growth however of small houses has been most abundant; & the vast number of little red brick dwellings, scattered on the hill behind the town, sadly destroys its picturesque appearance. — In London I saw a Panorama of a Hobart town; the scenery was very magnificent, but unfortunately there is no resemblance to it in nature. The inhabitants for this year are 13,826; in the whole of Tasmania 36,505. The Aboriginal blacks are all removed & kept (in reality as prisoners) in a Promontory, the neck of which is guarded. I believe it was not possible to avoid this cruel step; although without doubt the misconduct of the Whites first led to the Necessity.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
The Beagle anchored off Hobart Town (or Hobarton) on the 5th of February. The change of scene was as striking as a view of Gibraltar or Madeira after leaving the Downs. Comparatively speaking, near Sydney all was light-coloured and level; while in Van Diemen's Land we almost thought ourselves in another Tierra del Fuego. But this was only a first impression, on a blustering wet day. Fields of ripe corn, dotted, as it were, about the hilly woodlands, told us that the climate must generally be favourable; and the number of red brick cottages, thickly scattered about, though apparently at random, proved an extent of population incompatible with an unproductive place.

Syms Covington Journal
After a moderate passage anchored in the harbour of Hobart Town, February 5th.

The town is situated up the River Derwent on the slope of hill, and very much scattered about suburbs, and well cultivated. Here for the first time in four years I've had the pleasure of seeing the wheat in sheaves, etc. Here, as at Sydney, are great numbers of convicts, but this place, I think, is far preferable in every respect to Sydney. The harbour is fine, when at anchor ships being landlocked. A lighthouse is on a small island to the starboard hand going in. Here, as at Sydney, are hot winds.