16th September 1770

[Off South Coast of Timor]
Light breezes from the North-East by East, with clear weather, except in the morning, when we had it cloudy, with a few small Showers of Rain. Steer'd along shore South-West and South-West by West until 6 o'Clock in the morning, when we steer'd West-South-West, and at 9, West, at which time we saw the Island Rotte right ahead.

At Noon we were in the Latitude of 10 degrees 39 minutes, Longitude 235 degrees 57 minutes; the South end of Timor bore North-North-West, distant 5 or 6 Leagues; the Island of Rotte extending from South 75 degrees West to North 67 degrees West, and the Island of Anaboa as Dampier calls it, or Seman* (* Semao. This island lies off the Dutch settlement of Koepang or Concordia in Timor; but Cook was right in supposing he would have received but a cold reception there. The Dutch discouraged any visits at their outlying settlements. Rotte is a large island lying off the south-west end of Timor.) as it is called in the Charts, which lies of the South end of Timor, bore North-West. Course and distance sail'd since Yesterday noon South 55 degrees 15 minutes West, 67 Miles. Dampier, who has given us a large and, so far as I know, an Accurate discription of the Island of Timor, says that it is 70 Leagues long and 16 Broad, and that it lies North-East and South-West. I found the East side to lie nearest North-East by East and South-West by West, and the South end to lie in the Latitude 10 degrees 23 minutes South, Longitude 236 degrees 5 minutes West from Greenwich. We run about 45 Leagues along the East side, which I observed to be free from Danger, and, excepting near the South end, the Land which bounds the Sea is low for 2, 3, or 4 Miles inland, and seem'd in many places to be intersected with Salt Creeks. Behind the low land are Mountains, which rise one above another to a considerable height.

We continually saw upon it smoakes by day and fires by night, and in many places houses and plantations. I was strongly importuned by some of my Officers to go to the Dutch settlement at Concordia, on this Island, for refreshments; but this I refused to comply with, knowing that the Dutch look upon all Europeans with a Jealous Eye that come among these Islands, and our necessities were not so great as to oblige me to put into a place where I might expect to be but indifferently treated.

Joseph Banks Journal
Trade rather fresher than yesterday. Soon after breakfast the small Island of Rotte was in sight and soon after the opening appeard plain which at last convincd our old unbeleivers that the Island we has so [long?] been off was realy Timor. Soon after dinner we passd the Streights. The Island of Rotte was not mountanous or high like Timor but consisted of Hills and vales: on the East End of it some of our people saw Houses but I did not: the North side had frequent sandy beaches near which grew some few of the Fan Palm, but the greatest part was coverd with a kind of brushy trees which had few or no leaves upon them. The opening between Timor and the Island calld by Dampeir Anabao we plainly saw which appeard narrow. Anabao itself lookd much like Timor, only was rather less high: we saw on it no signs of cultivation, but as it was misty and we were well on the other side of the streights, which we judgd to be 5 Lgs over, we saw it but very indifferently. Off the Western end of it was a small low sandy Island coverd with trees; before night however we had left all behind us.

About 10 O'Clock a Phaenomenon appeard in the heavens in many things resembling the Aurora Borealis but differing materialy in others: it consisted of a dull reddish light reaching in hight about 20 degrees above the Horizon: its extent was very different at different times but never less than 8 or 10 points of the compass. Through and out of this passd rays of a brighter colourd light tending directly upwards; these appeard and vanishd nearly in the same time as those of the Aurora Borealis, but were entirely without that trembling or vibratory motion observd in that Phaenomenon. The body of it bore from the ship SSE: it lasted as bright as ever till near 12 when I went down to sleep but how much longer I cannot tell. 

Sydney Parkinson Journal
On the 16th, in the morning, we had a brisk trade-wind from the east, and a view of the island of Rotté, which lies off the south end of Timor, and passed between it and Anamaboo, which lies to the S. W. of Timor. Both these islands were much lower than Timor; neither did they appear so fertile. We saw no houses, smoke, or cultivated land upon them, but many palms of a kind we were not acquainted with. We had a fine brisk trade-wind this day, but no soundings; latitude, by observation, was 10°24’, about four or five leagues from the southermost part of Timor. In the night, between ten and eleven o’clock, before the moon was up, we saw a remarkable phaenomenon, which appeared in the south quarter, extending one point west, and two east, and was about twenty degrees high, like a glow of red rising from fire, striped with white, which shot up from the horizon in a perpendicular direction, alternately appearing and disappearing.

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