|John Oxley - Moreton Bay - November/December 1823|
Fresh winds from the southward and eastward. Sent all the water casks on shore, and preparing to examine the western shores of the Bay in the morrow.
I went on shore and examined the margin of the coast round Point Skirmish. Found plenty of cypress of large and useful dimensions and a good ornamental species of eucalyptus. The other trees were nearly similar in species to those in the vicinity of Port Macquarie, but were small and stunted. The soil, a poor, loose sand.
Obtained some of the root from the swamps, called by the natives bulwang, and used by them as bread. It is a species of fern, with a large tap-root for about two feet, which then, sending forth shoots, runs horizontally to a great distance from the parent stem. (Beaten and roasted, very palatable).
About 3 o'clock, we had the satisfaction to see a white man wading into the water from the point opposite, and on sending the boat for him, he proved to be John Finigan, whose actions, words and countenance showed how deeply he was overpowered by his sudden and unlooked deliverance.
His account of the wreck of the boat and their subsequent adventures perfectly coincided with the statement we had previously received from Pamphlet, and was somewhat clearer as to dates. His manner throughout was truly diverting, yet was perfectly original in his remarks and detail. His resignation under his sufferings and privations did high credit to the native simplicity of disposition which seemed a marked feature in his character. He spoke highly of his friend the King, and agreed with Pamphlet on praising the kind and humane treatment which they had received from the untutored beings who inhabit these shores. He quitted his companion Parsons three days after Pamphlet, being afraid from his wild language and threats that he would do him some bodily harm, as they were both reduced to the last extermity of hunger, not having seen any of their friendly natives for some days.
Finigan, soon after quitting Parsons, fell in iwht some who had seen him in Moreton Bay, and they would not suffer him to proceed northerly as was his wish, intimating to him that he would meet with people who would illuse him.
From his accound, and the day's journey they were to the north of Point Skirmish, it appears that he parted with Parsons on the banks of the south arm of Wide Bay - in a brush near which he saw some cedar trees growing, the water salt.
On the east coast of Moreton Island they saw a New Zealand canoe of large size, painted red, also a log of cedar with a staple in it. It is a singular circumstance that from the description given of the canoe it was recognised by a seaman on board as one that the Echo, south whaler, had procured in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, when he was there. The canoe being not only remarkable by its colour, but also its size and long, projecting head.
The Echo was wrecked about two years ago on Wreck Reek. Thus it would appear that some judgement may be formed as to the set of currents on this part of the coast. Out at sea, they appear to set strong to the southward, in shore to the north, and this corresponds with my own experience on this point and with that of Captain Flinders.
The men in the boat were deceived by these currents. Leaving Sydney at a period of the year when it is known the southerly currents prevail strongest, they at once conceived they must have been set in that direction, whereas not being in the stream of that current, they were set to the north, and they were only convinced to the contrary by their falling in with us. Finigan, however, declared he thought it very strange that if they were to the south, the weather should prove so extremely hot, and that instead of getting colder, as he afterwards knew it ought to do, as the winter season was advancing, it was rapidly getting warmer every day they sailed to the north, in which direction they imagined Sydney to be. Time, they had nothing to do with. What was it to men so situated? They had long forborne to keep any account. They, however, remembered the day of the month they had left Sydney, and up to a period of 101 days. Finigan asked the day of the week and being informed it was Sydney, uttered a shout, and, I am sure a heartfelt prayer of thanks to his Beneficent Creator for his deliverance.