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12 July, 1770


On 12 July, 1770, James Cook wrote “At 2 oClock in the AM the Yawl came on board and brought 3 turtle and a large skeat [skate] and as their was a probability of succeeding in this kind of fishery I sent her out again after breakfast. About this time 5 of the natives came over and stay'd with us all the forenoon, there were 7 in the whole 5 Men a woman and a boy, these two last stay'd on the point of sand on the other side of the River about 200 Yards from us, we could very clearly see with our glasses that the woman was as naked as ever she was born, even those parts which I allways before now thought Nature would have taught a woman to conceal were uncover'd”.


Joseph Banks wrote “Indians came again today and venturd down to Tupias Tent, where they were so well pleasd with their reception that three staid while the fourth went with the Canoe to fetch two new ones; they introduc’d their strangers (which they always made a point of doing) by name and had some fish given them. They receivd it with indifference, signd to our people to cook it for them, which was done, and they eat part and gave the rest to my Bitch. They staid the most part of the morning but never venturd to go above 20 yards from their canoe. The ribbands by which we had tied medals round their necks the first day we saw them were coverd with smoak; I suppose they lay much in the smoak to keep off the Musquetos. They are a very small people or at least this tribe consisted of very small people, in general about 5 feet 6 in hight and very slender; one we measurd 5 feet 2 and another 5 feet 9, but he was far taller than any of his fellows; I do not know by what deception we were to a man of opinion, when we saw them run on the sand about ¼ of a mile from us, that they were taller and larger than we were. Their colour was nearest to that of chocolate, not that their skins were so dark but the smoak and dirt with which they were all casd over, which I suppose servd them instead of Cloths, made them of that colour. Their hair was strait in some and curld in others; they always wore it croppd close round their heads; it was of the same consistence with our hair, by no means wooly or curld like that of Negroes. Their eyes were in many lively and their teeth even and good; of them they had compleat setts, by no means wanting two of their fore teeth as Dampiers New Hollanders did. They were all of them clean limn’d, active and nimble. Cloaths they had none, not the least rag, those parts which nature willingly conceals being exposd to view compleatly uncoverd; yet when they stood still they would often or almost allways with their hand or something they held in it hide them in some measure at least, seemingly doing that as if by instinct. They Painted themselves with white and red, the first in lines and barrs on different Parts of their bodies, the other in large patches. Their ornaments were few: necklaces prettyly enough made of shells, bracelets wore round the upper part of their arms, consisting of strings lapd round with other strings as what we Call gymp in England, a string no thicker than a packthread tied round their bodies which was sometimes made of human hair, a peice of Bark tied over their forehead, and the preposterous bone in their noses which I have before mentiond were all that we observd. One had indeed one of his Ears bord, the hole being big enough to put a thumb through, but this was peculiar to that one man and him I never saw wear in it any ornament. Their language was totaly different from that of the Islanders; it sounded more like English in its degree of harshness tho it could not be calld harsh neither. They almost continualy made use of the Chircau, which we conceivd to be a term of Admiration as they still usd it when ever they saw any thing new; also Cherr, tut tut tut tut tut, which probably have the same signification. Their Canoe was not above 10 feet long and very narrow built, with an outrigger fitted much like those at the Islands only far inferior; they in shallow waters set her on with poles, in deep paddled her with paddles about 4 feet long; she just carried 4 people so that the 6 who visited us today were obligd to make 2 embarkations. Their Lances were much like those we had seen in Botany bay, only they were all of them single pointed, and some pointed with the stings of sting-rays and bearded with two or three beards of the same, which made them indeed a terrible weapon; the board or stick with which they flung them was also made in a neater manner. After having staid with us the greatest part of the morning they went away as they came. While they staid 2 more and a young woman made their appearance upon the Beach; she was to the utmost that we could see with our glasses as naked as the men”.

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