25th May 1770

[Off Cape Capricorn, Queensland]
In the P.M. had it calm until 5, when a light breeze sprung up at South-East, and we steer'd North-West as the land lay until 10, then brought too, having had all along 14 and 15 fathoms. At 5 A.M. we made sail; at daylight the Northermost point of the Main bore North 70 degrees West, and soon after we saw more land making like Islands, bearing North-West by North; at 9 we were abreast of the point, distant from it 1 mile; Depth of Water 14 fathoms. I found this point to lay directly under the Tropic of Capricorn, and for that reason call it by that Name. Longitude 209 degrees 0 minutes West. It is of a Moderate height, and looks white and barren, and may be known by some Islands which lie to the North-West of it, and some small Rocks one League South-East from it; on the West side of the Cape there appeared to be a Lagoon. On the 2 Spits which form the Entrance were a great Number of Pelicans; at least, so I call them. The most northermost land we could see bore from Cape Capricorn North 24 degrees West, and appeared to be an Island;* (* Hummocky Island.) but the Main land Trended West by North 1/2 North, which Course we steer'd, having from 15 to 16 fathoms and from 6 to 9, a hard sandy bottom. At Noon our Latitude by Observation was 23 degrees 24 minutes South; Cape Capricorn bore South 60 degrees East, distance 2 Leagues; a small Island North by East 2 Miles. In this Situation had 9 fathoms at the distance of 4 Miles from the Main land, which is here low and Sandy next the Sea, except the points which are moderately high and rocky; in land the Country is hilly, and affords but a very indifferent prospect.*

(* Between Bustard Bay and Cape Capricorn is Port Curtis, in which stands the small town of Gladstone. Cape Capricorn is the eastern point of Curtis Island, and to the northward is Keppel Bay, into which falls the Fitzroy River. Up the latter, 35 miles from the sea, is Rockhampton, the second largest town of Queensland. All this coast is encumbered with shoals, outside of which Cook had so far prudently kept. To seaward begins the long chain of islands and reefs known as the Great Australian Barrier, which stretches up to Torres Straits. Cook was unaware of their existence, as they were out of sight, but he became painfully acquainted with them later, where the reefs approach the land, and make navigation along the coast anxious work; but he here began to get into difficulties with the shoals which stretch off the coast itself.)

Joseph Banks Journal
Land in the morn rocky, varied here and there with reddish sand, but little wood was to be seen. In the evening it was calm, some few fish were caught. At night perceiving the tide to run very strong we anchord. No fires were seen the whole day.

We examind the orange juice and brandy which had been sent on board as prepard by Dr Hulmes directions. It had never been movd from the cag in which it came on board. About ½ of it had been usd or leakd out; the remainder was coverd with a whitish mother but otherwise was not at all damagd either to taste or sight when it came out of the cag, but when put into a bottle in 3 or 4 days it became ropey and good for nothing. On this we resolvd to have it evaperated immediately to a strong essence and put up in Bottles immediately.

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