May 29 – June 4, 2011: Issue 8 

Above: Picture No: a3461013 Opp. p. 90. `View in Broken Bay New South Wales. March 1788' (Lion Island in distance).
Below: Picture No: a3461014 Opp. p. 93. `SW. Arm of Broken Bay New South Wales from an Island at the Entrance. Sepr 1789' . Both courtesy Mitchell Library, NSW.

Above: Picture  a3461015   Opp. p. 92. `North Arm of Broken Bay New South Wales from an Island at the entrance Sepr 1789' Courtesy Mitchell Library, NSW.

Below: Picture No: a3461010 Opp. p. 65. `Entrance of Port Jackson 27 Janury 1788'
Bottom: Picture No: a3461011 Opp. p. 70. `First interview with the Native Women at Port Jackson New South Wales'  Both coiurtesy Mitchell Library, NSW.

Pittwater Online News, 2011.

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 William Bradley's 1788 Exploration Of Broken Bay, Pitt Water and the Hawkesbury

William Bradley (1757?-1833) was First Lieutenant on the ship, Sirius, captained by John Hunter. In his twenties, Bradley was great-nephew of the Astronomer Royal and son of a mathematics master and excelled in navigation. Contained in his journal are 22 meticulously drawn charts which record a series of early survey expeditions in the colony and voyages on the Sirius. He was also a water colour drawer and gives us insights into how our area looked prior to settlement and the construction of buildings. He returned to England in 1892.

Two days after reaching Port Jackson, Bradley accompanied John Hunter to survey and chart Sydney Harbour and commenced the naming of various Harbour landmarks, including Bradley’s Point (now Bradley’s Head).

Over the next three months he accompanied Arthur Phillip on exploratory trips, to Broken Bay, Manly Cove and the upper reaches of the Parramatta River. Of note in the below extracts from his journal during his trip to explore Broken Bay is that some of the crew were recovering from smallpox. Our own Pittwater Council's website notes that in 1788-1790 many of our local Custodians died of this disease, perhaps infected by those on this ship?
From: Between April 1789 and 1790 many died of diseases, to which they had no resistance; Pittwater Council website.:

1788, March.
At 8. Went out of Port Jackson, when off the Harbour, the Heads of Broken Bay are within the N.o extreme of Land; the S.o Head is 15 Miles to the N.oward of the No Head of Port Jackson, round which head the Coast forms a deep bight & has a Cove or bend where a Boat may shelter from this the beach runs about 3 Miles to the N.oward to a reef of rocks which break some distance out & round which is a bight with a long sandy beach on which close round this reef of rocks a boat may land if caught upon the shore & not able to reach either of the Harbours: all round this bight the Natives appear'd on the high land, from this there did not appear to be any shelter for Boats in any of the Sandy Bays; as we passed the sandy bay next the S.o Head of Broken Bay, we were met by 3 Canoes having one Man & 5 Women in them, they came alongside of our Boats quite familiarly: The Governor push'd over to the N.o shore in the Cutter.
The tide set so strong to the S.oward, that it was with difficulty the Long boat could get round the S.o Head. As the evening closed we lost sight of the Cutter & as we approached the N.o shore of Broken Bay we made Signals by flashing of Powder & saw lights immediately after on the N.o shore to which we rowed & found to be the Natives lights, we then hauled off & fired a Musquet which was immediately answer'd & we soon saw the Cutter & at 9 at Night Moored the Boats in a Cove on the N.o side of the Bay off which the Surf broke violently: When the Cutter first landed, they were met by a great number of the Natives, Men, Women & Children, the Men were all armed with Spears, Clubs, Stone Hatchets & Wooden Swords, they were all very friendly & when the Long boat landed were without arms, we passed the night in this Cove on board the Boats every body.
Monday. 3rd: At day light went into the N.o branch of the Harbour which has a shoal & narrow entrance just within which we stoped, found the Natives familiar, they had several Huts here which were merely small sticks placed against each other & cover'd over with bark; In these Huts were several Women Old & young, they were much terrified at first, but soon were composed & familiar on having presents made them: they had several Cray fish about these Huts.
As we proceeded up this branch after passing a very shoal flat & two or three Coves, we found set out so strong that we could not pull ahead through between two projecting points, on which we landed in a Cove adjacent; Here we were met by several Natives, Men & Women who all came freely about us. All the Women we met with in this Bay two only excepted had lost two joints of the little finger on the left hand, which custom like others we are at a loss to account for: It was supposed by some to be the pledge on the Marriage Ceremony, or on their having Children, I cannot agree in that opinion as one of the exceptions was an Old who had had Children & the other a young woman who had not. The others who had all been subject to this Custom were of both descriptions, Old & Young. This was not observed at Port Jackson as a custom among them but noticed in some & supposed to have been done by accident. We found most of the women had the Hole bored through the Nose the same as the Men. When the Tide had slacken'd we pushed up & found several small inlets between Mangroves, on one of which Islands we stop'd & pitch'd the Tents; had very hard rain all the morning
Tuesday. 4th. PM While the Tents & Clothes were drying, some of the Natives landed & were easily kept at a proper distance from the Clothes; A Crab was caught & proved very good.
AM. At day light proceeded up, found it to be an extensive & very shoal peice of water, too much so for the Boats to go over the flats without the risk of being left dry on the Ebb tide. We found Natives all the way up. Not being able to determine the extent of this peice of water, we returned to the Cove in which we first stoped: where we found a Straw Hat & some strings of beads which favours the opinion of their not having any fixed residence as nothing of that kind had been given them here & several were both at Port Jackson & at Botany Bay; After staying a short time here we went over to the S.o side of the Bay into the SW arm off which is an Island, We moored the Boats about 3 Miles up this Branch, had heavy rain, Thunder & Light'ning all night.
Wednesday. 5th AM: Followed the sw. arm up to the head found several Coves & good depth of water all the way up which I suppose to be about 7 Miles, we left two openings to the S.oward without looking into them & left this Arm without examining a large opening to the NW out of it about a mile & half above the Island: We went into the S.o Arm were caught suddenly by a thunder squall & had much difficulty in getting in:
In a Cove just within the entrance we were met by an Old Man & Boy. He had a stone in his hand which he laid down as he came towards us, he shew'd us the best landing place, brought us a stick of Fire & some Water signifying to us that the rain was very cold, we gave them fish & the Governor exchanged some things for Spears, this Man was but little scar'd about the body.
Thursday. 6. PM. Continuing to rain we secured every thing for the night, the Old Man was with us till the evening.
AM. Went up this Arm, saw several of the Natives in every Cove, the Old Man & boy followed us round to one of the Coves & shew'd us water; We stop'd in a Cove on the E.t side about 3 Miles up, several women in Canoes were fishing two of them came ashore the one an Old & Ugly, the other a young woman tall & was the handsomest woman I have seen amongst them, she was very big with Child, her fingers were complete as were those of the Old Woman. One of the Women made a fishing hook while we were by her, from the inside of what is commonly called the pearl oyster shell, by rubbing it down on the rocks until thin enough & then cut it circular with another, shape the hook with a sharp point rather bent in & not bearded or barbed, in this Cove we met with a kernel which they prepare & give their Children, I have seen them eat it themselves, they are a kind of nut growing in bunches somewhat like a pine top & are poisonous without being properly prepared the method of doing which we did not learn from them. Hard rain the greatest part of these 24 Hours.
Friday. 7. Were at the upper part of the S.o Arm, found in every part of it, very good depth of water except a Flat at the entrance from the Et point 2/3 of the way over, between which & the W.tern shore is a Channel with 3 f.m. at low water & that depth close to the rocks, the Land on the E.t side of this Arm is in general good & clear, on the W.t side all Rocks & thick woods.
AM Left the S.oern Arm & went again into the SW Arm to look into that opening to the NW, found but few of the Natives in it: We landed on an Island about 2 miles up this branch, on which we secured every thing for the night, got a great quantity of Mullet in the Sein from which we called it Mullet Island(now Dangar Island) in Hawkesbury River, there is long flat to the SE & a reef of rocks, round which is the bay for hauling th Sein, we found some Huts on the Island, but only 3 Natives came to us this evening.
Saturday. 8. AM. Several of the Natives came to us, painted very whimsically with pipe Clay & red Ochre both which is plenty on the Island, the pipe clay just under the Sand on the beach round the rocks. We followed this branch up to the NW some distance, found openings to the N.oward & NW & on the W.t side of this opening to the NW,
there appear'd to be an Island with passages round it on both sides, but we only examined that opening to the NW above Mullet Island which was found to be very shoal, that to the N.oward not having more than 6 feet water across the entrance just within the points forming it prevented our looking farther into it: About Noon having finished our superficial examination which was much hinder'd by constant heavy rains, we returned to a Cove at the Outer part of the S.o Arm to be ready to go out of the Bay.
Sunday. 9th. PM. The Old Man & Boy came to us as before, with several more of the Natives, they had many things given to them but that did not keep them from stealing, after dark the Old Man took an Iron spade & was going off with it, he was seen from the Longboat, pursued & brought back with it by one of the people on shore: The Governor chastised him for it, which so enraged him that he run off & very soon returned with his party all with their Spears ready to throw when a Musquet was fired which made them stop & a second Musquet drove them away for the night.
AM. At day light, the Old Man & his Companions came to us just the same as if nothing had happen'd & without Arms: About 6 O'Clock we left Broken Bay & got into Spring Cove in Port Jackson at 11.


“A Voyage to New South Wales”, December 1786 – May 1792, by William Bradley William Bradley Journal: (Safe 1/14) Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW

Further Reading:

William Bradley Biography: