Extract From: N. J. B. Plomley ed. 'Friendly Mission, the Tasmanian journals and papers of George Augustus Robinson', Halstead Press for Tasmanian Historical Research Association, Hobart, 1966.
Important note: The material below is 'read only'. The text has been transcribed for reasons of personal interest only. It appears here without footnotes and may contain textual errors. Any reference and or citation must be to/from the 'journals and papers' in its hardcopy form. Friendly Mission (1966) is in the collections of most large public libraries. In addition, its first reprint (2008) has also recently become available.
Robinson's Journal 4 November 1830
Am, pleasant weather, light wind from the westward. Ordered the boat to be got ready. After the people had taken breakfast, packed up to go to Swan Island. Fear was entertained the people would not go in the boat, but I had no apprehension to the contrary. I knew delay was dangerous. I told them al to put on their trousers, as it would prevent them from running away. The boat's crew all went to launch the boat: I was displeased with them and told them whilst they were doing that the people might get off; told them to keep behind and when the people was on the beach we would soon launch her. Walked down to the boat, got in myself and called the people to come in. They did so and after they were all seated, ordered the boat to be launched. It was astonishing to me with what readiness my orders was complied with. Here was no force, no violence. no tying of hands, no muskets &c. I said come and they came, go and they went. It was feared we should not get out as the wind was ahead, but I said there was no alternative. Go they must, for I felt persuaded if the people remained ashore another night they would abscond. All the blankets and supplies, and the dogs, was left till the next time; brought some flour only. The boat being launched and being now afloat we was not long ere we got out of the river and was on our way to Swan Island. Now I began to feel more comfortable. Heavy swell. The tide runs very strong between this island and the main. In a short time landed at Swan Island, about five miles from the main. The boat got on a rock at landing, but soon got her off. Parish said it was extremely lucky, but what appeared to me the most agreeable was the natives being safe and secure. It was certainly the most singular and successful undertaking that could be conceived. The natives were now at liberty to roam about, no necessity to watch them.(Underline indicates change made in accordance with 'Supplement to Friendly Mission.' N.J.B. Plomley THRA Papers )
Swan Island is an assemblage of sand hills and some small plains, and is covered with fern and brush. Iris grass or wild parsley and the indigenous geranium is plentiful. Sea birds build on the island and the natives got hundreds of eggs of gulls, red bills, penguins &c. Parish, the coxswain. went with me to the east end of the island and in about two hours had caught twelve geese, fine birds, as large as an English goose. It was ludicrous to run after them through the fern, the whole ground filled with penguin and mutton bird holes, and the foot sinking into the holes down you must come. The geese would make to the sea and swim into the breakers, till at length being tired they would be washed on shore and we then would catch them. WOORRADY is quite pleased with this island. Soon as he could he began to pull the penguins out of their holes and to take their eggs-WOORRADY eats them but the eastern natives don't. This is a rookery of penguins and mutton birds. At night the penguins leave their holes and go to the sea, the male one night and the female another night, taking it in turn to feed their young. They have roads to their holes and they make a hideous noise when they are going out and coming home, and I apprehend they know each other by the noise as well as the roads they make. Saw several large yellow and black snakes; the island is infested with snakes, which feed on birds. Plenty of rats upon Swan Island, and pelicans frequent the island.
The boat went back to the main this afternoon. Ordered Parish to tell Stansfield to go to Georges River to the boat and to tell the coxswain to leave some flour there in the bush where I had stayed. Heavy rain during the night and strong westerly wind. I was without blankets or meat: nothing was brought except a little flour. The women went to dive for crawfish. Soon returned and said they had been chased by a large shark. Said that the women was sulky and that made the sharks come. LYGDUGEE said that a NEED.WON.NEE woman was eaten by the sharks. In conversation with the natives tonight. The fresh natives did not seem disposed to mirth, but this I knew would wear off. LUCKERRERMICTICWOCKENNER cried very much: I enquired the cause in the morning and was informed she fretted at her husband having another woman and that her husband struck her with a stick. I expressed my disapprobation at this conduct.