"abounds in the finest harbours imagineable" (Stirling)
By ROE, John Septimus; and John ARROWSMITH , 1838

Discoveries in Western Australia from documents furnished to the Colonial Office By J.S. Roe, Esq.r Surv.r Gen.l compiled by John Arrowsmith. May 31st 1838

Australasia & the Pacific Australia
  • Author: ROE, John Septimus; and John ARROWSMITH
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Ordered, but The House of Commons, to be Printed
  • Publication date: 6 August 1838
  • Physical description: Large folding engraved map on bank note paper with contemporary hand-colour in outline (490 by 580mm to the neatline), bound in 'Western Australia... 1. Copies of, or Extracts from, a Statistical Report of the Colony of Western Australia, which accompanied Sir James Stirling's Despatch of the 15 October 1837; - also, 2. The Land Regulations contained in the Appendix, addressed to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. 3. Copy of a Despatch from the Governor of Western Australia to Lord Glenelg, dated 3 December 1837'; folio, stabbed and sewn as issued, preserved in archival buckram-backed portfolio.
  • Dimensions: 340 by 220mm. (13.5 by 8.75 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 16750


Arrowsmith’s map first map relating the discoveries in Western Australia appeared in his ‘London Atlas’ of 1834. Seven states of the map are known, of which this is the sixth, with no change to the cartography, which shows the south-west region of the state, with five inset maps on the left-hand side of the main map of: Guildford, Augusta, Kelmscott, Perth and Fremantle. The original dedication to R.W. Hay and the plate number are erased. An additional marginal title ‘Statistical Report on Western Australia 1837’ appears top right, outside the neat-line.

On 2 May 1829 Captain C. H. Fremantle of the ‘Challenger’ took possession, at the mouth of the Swan River, of the whole of Australia which was not then included within the boundaries of New South Wales. Captain James Stirling, would arrive later, with other civil officials, including John Septimus Roe (1797 – 1878), in the store-ship ‘Parmelia’, proclaiming the foundation of the Swan River Colony on 18 June.

Roe thought he would be posted to the new colony in Western Australia for two years, however, he eventually stayed for forty. As Surveyor-General of the new colony, Roe was very influential in the development of Western Australia. “He made surveys of the sea approaches to the Swan River, surveyed the sites of Fremantle and Perth, and “with one sickly assistant” superintended the marking of the town lots and land taken up by the pioneer settlers. He was responsible for drawing up most of the land regulations” (Uren).

This map is based on Roe’s earliest surveys of the region, made between 1830 and 1832; but also shows the tracks of fellow explorers from 1829-1832, who are now commemorated by local landmarks and towns. The accompany report, serves as a detailed history of the colony from its inception, and is a glowing advertisement for emigration. At the time, the colonial population of Perth was counted at 590, with the whole of Western Australia at 2032.


British Foreign Office

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