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Rare coastal profile of Middle Island the largest island in the Recherche Archipelago (Bay of Isles), by William Westall, artist on board Matthew Flinders seminal survey of the Australia on the Investigator. Flinders May 17.1803 ay one p.m: In the morning, a … Read Full Description
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Rare coastal profile of Middle Island the largest island in the Recherche Archipelago (Bay of Isles), by William Westall, artist on board Matthew Flinders seminal survey of the Australia on the Investigator.
Flinders May 17.1803 ay one p.m:
In the morning, a party of men was sent to kill geese and seals upon the rocky islets to the eastward, and another upon Middle Island to cut wood and brooms. There was now so much more surf upon the shores of the bay than in January of the former year, that we could not land at the eastern beach, behind which lies the salt lake; I therefore went with the master to the middle beach, and being scarcely able to get out of the boat from scorbutic sores, sent him to examine the lake and make choice of a convenient place for filling some casks; but to my surprise he reported that no good salt could be procured, although it had been so abundant before, that according to the testimony of all those who saw the lake, it would have furnished almost any quantity: this alteration had doubtless been produced by the heavy rains which appeared to have lately fallen. I caused a hole to be dug in a sandy gully, in order to fill a few casks of water, thinking it possible that what we had taken in at Timor might have been injurious; but the water was too salt to be drinkable, although draining from land much above the level of the sea. This may afford some insight into the formation of salt in the lake; and it seems not improbable, that rock salt may be contained in some part of Middle Island.
We remained here three days, cutting wood, boiling down seal oil, and killing geese; but our success in this last occupation was very inferior to what it had been in January 1802, no more than twelve geese being now shot, whereas sixty-five had then been procured. Mr. Douglas was interred upon Middle Island, and an inscription upon copper placed over his grave; William Hillier, one of my best men, also died of dysentery and fever before quitting the bay, and the surgeon had fourteen others in his list, unable to do any duty. At his well-judged suggestion, I ordered the cables, which the small size of the ship had made it necessary to coil between decks, to be put into the holds, our present light state permitting this to be done on clearing away the empty casks; by this arrangement more room was made for the messing and sleeping places; and almost every morning they were washed with boiling water, aired with stoves, and sprinkled with vinegar, for the surgeon considered the dysentery on board to be approaching that state when it becomes contagious.
From of Flinders hydrographic atlas, A voyage to Terra Australis…, sheet XVII, London : G. and W. Nicol, 1814.
Full title of the atlas;A Voyage to Terra Australis, undertaken for the purpose of completing the discovery of that vast country, and prosecuted in the years 1801, 1802, and 1803, in His Majesty’s Ship The Investigator and subsequently in the armed vessel Porpoise and Cumberland schooner.
William Westall (1781 - 1850)
Westall was a landscape artist born at Hertford, England. He was taught to draw by his elder half-brother Richard (1765-1836), a water-colour painter, Royal Academician and painting teacher to Princess Victoria. In 1799 he was admitted to the Royal Academy School, where he was studying when at 19 he was appointed landscape artist with Matthew Flinders' Investigator expedition to Australia, at a salary of 300 guineas. During the voyage he made a large number of pencil-and-wash landscapes in places visited by the Investigator and a series of coast profiles in pencil. When the Porpoise ran aground on Wreck Reef his sketches were 'wetted and partly destroyed' and, while Westall travelled in China, the drawings, regarded as part of the official record of the voyage, were taken by Lieutenant Robert Fowler to England. There, at the suggestion of Sir Joseph Banks, they were handed to Richard Westall to be 'restored to a proper state'. After spending some time in China and India Westall returned to London in February 1805 and sought access to the sketches to paint a picture for exhibition at the Royal Academy and showed a View of the Bay of Pines at the academy later in the year. In the summer of 1805 Westall went to Madeira and twelve months later to Jamaica. After returning to England he painted a series of water-colour views of the places he had visited and these were shown in a Brook Street gallery and at the Associated Artists' exhibition in 1808. Later he received commissions from the Admiralty to paint nine pictures to illustrate Flinders' A Voyage to Terra Australis … (1814), and was engaged by several London publishers to paint water-colours to be reproduced as aquatints.
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