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.

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