Explorations in Australia
by John Forrest
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30th. Travelling about North 212 degrees East magnetic for fourteen miles, over samphire flats, with thickets intervening, we reached a fine grassy spot, with water in granite rocks, called Gnookadunging. Continuing about south for two and a half miles, passed another small grassy spot called Ginbinning; thence in about the general direction of North 210 degrees East magnetic. For about eleven and a half miles, over an immense sand-plain, running as far as the eye could reach to the North-West and South-East, we camped in the centre of it at a spring called Manginie, a sheep station belonging to Mr. James Church. Towards the end of the day Bailey's horse Tommy fairly gave in, and we had great difficulty in getting him to camp, which Mr. Hamersley and I did not reach until an hour after dark. The night was cloudy, and I was unable to get any observations, but luckily at daybreak obtained meridian altitudes of Jupiter, which placed Manginie Spring in South latitude 30 degrees 21 minutes.

31st. Steering about South-South-West for thirteen miles, we reached Cooroo Springs—a fine grassy spot in winter—where we camped, the horses being very tired. For the first seven miles over scrubby sand-plains; thence to Cooroo, over grassy country, with spearwood thickets intervening. Tommy shot a kangaroo this afternoon, which was very acceptable, having had only damper and tea for several days past.

August 1st (Sunday). Rested at Cooroo Springs. All very busy putting our ragged clothes in as good repair as possible. By meridian altitudes of sun, Lyrae (Vega), 32 degrees 15 minutes. Read Divine Service. Jemmy has not yet overtaken us, so I conclude he has changed his mind, and does not intend following us. We are now about nine miles from Clarke's homestead, which bears about South-South-East.

2nd. Travelling about South-South-East for nine miles over grassy country, with York gums, etc., we reached the hospitable residence of Mr. Clarke, where we were very kindly received, and stayed a short time to hear the news. Resuming for eighteen miles along the road to Newcastle, we passed Mr. Donald Macpherson's, where I obtained some rations, and pushed on six miles farther, and bivouacked one mile south of Badgy-Badgy, with very short feed for our horses.

3rd. Travelling along the road towards Newcastle for twenty-six miles, we camped one mile past Byen, and about sixteen miles from Newcastle.

4th. Reached Newcastle at eleven o'clock, and had just time to report the safe return of the expedition before the mail left.

5th. After handing over all the horses provided by the different settlers to their respective owners, and bidding farewell to Mr. George Monger (who intends proceeding to York), I left Newcastle in company with Mr. M. Hamersley and Tommy Windich, leaving Morgan and remainder of equipment to follow with the cart which had been brought to Newcastle by Ward and C. Adams. Reached Baylup at 4 p.m.

6th. Made an early start; reached Guildford at twelve o'clock, where we rested an hour. Then resuming, reached Perth at 4 p.m., and reported personally the results of the expedition, having been absent 113 days, in which time I travelled by computation over 2000 miles.

I now beg to make a few remarks with reference to the main object of the expedition, which was the discovery of the remains of the late Dr. Leichardt and party.


In the first place, Mr. Frederick Roe was informed by the native Weilbarrin, that two white men and their native companions had been killed by the aborigines, thirteen days' journey to the northward, when he was at a spot called Koolanobbing, which is in south latitude about 30 degrees 53 minutes, and longitude about 119 degrees 14 minutes east. Mr. Austin lost eleven horses at Poison Rock (nine died, and two were left nearly dead), which is in latitude 28 degrees 43 minutes 23 seconds south, and longitude about 118 degrees 38 minutes east, or about 130 miles from Koolanobbing, and in the direction pointed to by the natives. I therefore imagine it to be very probable that the whole story originated from the horses lost by Mr. Austin at Poison Rock, as I am convinced the natives will say anything they imagine will please. Again, the account given us at Mount Churchman, on May 5th, appeared very straightforward and truthful. It was very similar to that related to Mr. Roe; but, on questioning the natives, they at last stated there were neither men nor guns left, only horses' remains, and pointed towards Poison Rock. Further, the native who gave all the information to Mr. Monger was one of our party. His tale, as related by Mr. Monger, also appeared very straightforward and truthful, that white men had been killed by the natives twenty years ago; that he had seen the spot, which was at a spring near a large lake, so large that it looked like the sea as seen from Rottnest, eleven days' journey from Ningham or Mount Singleton, in a fine country. The white men were rushed upon while making a damper, and clubbed and speared. He had often seen an axe which formed part of the plunder. All this appears feasible and truthful enough in print; but the question is, Of what value did I find it? Upon telling Jemmy what Mr. Monger stated he told him, he said he never told him that he had seen things himself, but that he had heard it from a native who had seen them, thus contradicting the whole he had formerly stated to Mr. Monger. Moreover, the fine country he described we never saw, what a native calls good country being where he can get a drink of water and a wurrong; and if there is an acre of grassy land they describe it as a very extensive grassy country! This I have generally found the case. As a specimen of the untruthfulness of these natives, I may quote that my native Jemmy, who was a first-rate fellow in every other respect, stated to Mr. Monger and myself at York, that there was a large river like that called the Avon at York, to the eastward, knowing at the time he would be found out to be telling a falsehood. He even told Mr. George Monger, before leaving Newcastle, to buy hooks, in order to catch the fish that were in the river, and concluded by stating that we would have great difficulty in crossing it, as it ran a great distance north and south. Almost every evening I questioned and cross-questioned him respecting this river; still he adhered to what he first stated! It may well be imagined how disappointed we were on reaching the spot to find only a small brook running into a salt marsh, with water in winter, but dry in summer.

With reference to the country travelled over, I am of opinion that it is worthless as a pastoral or agricultural district; and as to minerals I am not sufficiently conversant with the science to offer an opinion, except that I should think it was worth while sending geologists to examine it thoroughly.


It now becomes my most pleasing duty to record my entire satisfaction with the manner in which all the members of the expedition exerted themselves in the performance of their respective duties. To Mr. George Monger and Mr. Malcolm Hamersley I am indebted for their co-operation and advice on all occasions. I am also deeply indebted to Mr. Hamersley for collecting and preserving all the botanical specimens that came within his reach, as well as the great trouble and care taken with the store department, placed under his immediate charge. To probation prisoner David Morgan my best thanks are due as the shoeing smith, as well as acting cook for the party the whole time. Of Tommy Windich (native) I cannot speak too highly, being very useful in collecting the horses, as well as a first-class huntsman, and really invaluable as a water finder. Accompanying me on many trying occasions, suffering often from want of water, he showed energy and determination deserving of the highest praise. Jemmy Mungaro was also a first-class bushman, and invaluable as a water finder. He was in many ways useful, and very obedient. His great failing was that he exaggerated—no tale ever losing anything in his charge. Nevertheless, I have many things to thank him for, and therefore he deserves praise.

In conclusion, sir, allow me to thank you for your kindness and advice, which has greatly supported me in this arduous undertaking. I much regret that an expedition which was so efficiently equipped, and on which I was left so free to act, has not resulted in more direct benefit to the colony, to satisfy many who are not capable of appreciating the importance of such explorations.

I have, Sir, etc.,


Leader of Expedition.

The Honourable Captain Roe, R.N., Surveyor-General.

So far as the mystery on which the fate of Leichardt is involved was concerned, my expedition was barren of results; but the additional knowledge gained of the character of the country between the settled districts of Western Australia and the 123rd meridian of east longitude, well repaid me, and those of the party, for the exertions we had undergone.


Shortly after my return I received an official communication from Mr. Barlee, the Colonial Secretary at Perth, announcing that his Excellency the Governor, with a view to mark his sense of the value of my services as leader of the expedition, had sanctioned the payment to me of a gratuity of 50 pounds. Mr. Monger and Mr. Hamersley each received 25 pounds; Morgan, the probation prisoner, who had done good service in the expedition, especially in looking after the horses, was promised a remission of a portion of his sentence. Tommy Windich and Jemmy Mungaro, the natives, had each a single-barrel gun, with his name inscribed—presents which they highly valued.

So ended the first of my expeditions; and a very short time elapsed before I was called upon to undertake a longer, more hazardous, and more important journey.



A new Exploration suggested. Proposal to reach Adelaide by way of the South Coast. The experience derived from Eyre's Expedition. Survey of Port Eucla. Official Instructions. The Start. Dempster's Station near Esperance Bay. The Schooner at Port Eucla. Journal of the Expedition.

Immediately on my return to Perth a new expedition was suggested by Dr. Von Mueller, whose anxiety for the discovery of Leichardt was rather increased than abated by the disappointment experienced. He proposed that I should start from the upper waters of the Murchison River with a light party and provisions for six months, and endeavour to reach Carpentaria. He thought, not only would such an expedition almost certainly find some traces of the lost explorer, but probably would make geographical discoveries of the highest interest and importance. In a paper in the Colonial Monthly he argued that:

"While those who searched after traces of the lost party did not solve the primary objects of their mission, their labours have not been without importance to geographical science. The course of one traveller connected the southern interior of Queensland in a direct route with the vast pastoral depressions about Lake Torrens; the researches of another explorer, bent on ascertaining Leichardt's fate, unfolded to us a tract of table country, now already occupied by herds and flocks, not less in length than that of Sweden and Italy...We should bear fully in mind how a line in Leichardt's intended direction would at once enable the squatters of North-East Australia to drive their surplus of flocks and herds easily across to the well-watered, hilly and grassy country within close proximity to the harbour of the north-west coast."

I should have been well satisfied to undertake an expedition in the proposed direction, starting from the head of the Murchison, and trying to connect my route with that of Mr. A. Gregory's down Sturt Creek; but the difficulty of obtaining funds and lack of support caused the project to be set aside or at least delayed. Mr. Weld, then Governor of Western Australia, who always heartily supported explorations, was in favour of an attempt to reach Adelaide by way of the south coast, and offered me the command of an expedition in that direction.

I readily accepted the offer, and at once busied myself with the necessary preparations, but was far from being insensible to the difficulties of the undertaking. Of the route nothing was known except the disastrous experience of Mr. Eyre in 1840 and 1841. His remarkable narrative—interesting to all concerned in the history of explorations or in the records of energy, courage, and perseverance under the most discouraging circumstances—might have acted as a warning to future explorers against endeavouring to follow in his track. The fearful privations he endured, his narrow escape from the most terrible of all forms of death, were certainly not encouraging; but his experience might often be of service to others, pointing out dangers to be avoided, and suggesting methods of overcoming difficulties. At any rate, I was not deterred from the attempt to trace once more the coast of the Great Bight, and to reach the sister colony by that route. Eyre had not discovered any rivers, although it was possible that he might have crossed the sand-bars of rivers in the night. The difficulties he laboured under in his almost solitary journey, and the sufferings he endured, might have rendered him unable to make observations and discoveries more practicable to a better equipped and stronger party, while the deficiency of water on the route appeared to offer the greatest impediment. We were not, however, deterred from the attempt, and on the 30th of March, 1870, we started from Perth on a journey which all knew to be dangerous, but which we were sanguine enough to believe might produce considerable results.

That we were not disappointed the result will prove. Indeed, the difficulties were much fewer than we had been prepared to encounter; and in five months from the date of departure from Perth we arrived safely at Adelaide, completing a journey which Mr. Eyre had been more than twelve months in accomplishing.


My party was thus composed: I was leader; the second in command was my brother, Alexander Forrest, a surveyor; H. McLarty, a police constable; and W. Osborne, a farrier and shoeing smith, these with Tommy Windich, the native who had served me so faithfully on the previous expedition, and another native, Billy Noongale, an intelligent young fellow, accompanied us.

Before I enter upon the details of my journey it may be useful to state as briefly as possible the efforts made to obtain a better acquaintance with the vast territory popularly known as No Man's Land, which had been traversed by Eyre, and afterwards to summarize the little knowledge which had been obtained.

In 1860 Major Warburton—who afterwards, in 1873 and 1874, succeeded in crossing the northern part of the great inland desert, after enduring great privations—contrived to reach eighty-five miles beyond the head of the Bight, and made several journeys from the coast in a north and north-westerly direction for a distance of about sixty miles. Traces of Eyre's expedition were then visible. The holes he had dug in search of water twenty years before were still there, and the records of his journey were of great value as guiding Warburton's movements. His experience of the nature of the country amply confirmed that of the previous explorer. He found the district to the north to be a dreary waste, destitute of food and water. Rain seldom fell, and, when it did, was immediately absorbed by the arid soil. Bustards and moles were the only living creatures. To the north-west there was a little grass, but the tract showing verdure was very small in extent, and beyond it was again the scorched, barren, inhospitable desert.

Two years afterwards other explorations were attempted, and especially should be noted Captain Delessier's. He was disposed to think more favourably of the nature of the country. The enterprise of squatters seeking for "fresh fields and pastures new," to whom square miles represent less than acres to graziers and sheep farmers in England—is not easily daunted. They made a few settlements; but the scanty pasturage and the difficulty of obtaining water, by sinking wells, in some instances to the depth of over 200 feet, have been great drawbacks.


It might naturally be inquired why no attempts were made to reach the coast of the Great Bight by sea? Why so much suffering has been endured when a well-equipped vessel might have landed explorers at various points and been ready to afford them assistance? In his explorations to the north of Western Australia, Mr. F. Gregory had a convenient base of operations in the Dolphin, a barque which remained on the coast. It might seem that similar aid could have been afforded to Warburton and others who attempted to trace the south-coast line. But for hundreds of miles along the shores of the Bight no vessel could reach the shore or lie safely at anchor. Long ranges of perpendicular cliffs, from 300 to 400 feet high, presented a barrier effectually forbidding approach by sea. About 1867, however, an excellent harbour was discovered about 260 miles to the west of Fowler's Bay. The South Australian Government at once undertook a survey of this harbour, and Captain Douglas, President of the Marine Board, the officer entrusted with this duty, reported in the most favourable terms. The roadstead, named Port Eucla, was found to afford excellent natural protection for shipping. There was, however, the less encouraging circumstance that it was situated a few miles to the west of the boundary of the colony, and consequently Western, and not South, Australia was entitled to the benefit of the discovery.

It was evident that Port Eucla, which Captain Douglas carefully surveyed by taking soundings and observing bearings, was the key to the exploration of this vast portion of the continent. But, notwithstanding the propositions made to the Government of Western Australia by the York Agricultural Society for equipping an exploring party, nothing was done until the beginning of 1870, when the Governor determined on equipping an overland party intended to make its way, keeping as far inland as possible, to Eucla, where assistance and supplies would await them. It was this expedition which I was selected to command. The following copy of official instructions will show the object of the exploration and the preparations made to insure a fair prospect of a successful result:—


Colonial Secretary's Office, Perth,

March 29th, 1870.


His Excellency the Governor, confiding in your experience, ability, and discretion, has been pleased to entrust to your charge and leadership an overland expedition, which has been organized for the purpose of exploring the country between the settled portions of this colony and the Port of Eucla, situated near its east boundary.

Your party will consist of the following six persons, well armed, and provisioned for two months, namely, yourself as leader; Mr. Alexander Forrest, your brother, as second in command; H. McLarty, a police-constable, third in command; W.H. Osborne, farrier, etc.; and two reliable natives, one of whom will be your former well-tried companion, Windich. An agreement to serve under you on the expedition in the above capacities will be signed by each European named previous to starting.

Ample stores and supply of provisions have been prepared for your use, and a suitable coasting vessel (the schooner Adur) is engaged, under an experienced commander, to convey them where required, and to be at your disposal in aiding the operations of the expedition.

It is desirable the party should start from Perth as soon as all arrangements have been completed, and take the most convenient route to Esperance Bay, where men and horses can be recruited, further supplies from the coaster laid in, and a fresh start made for Eucla so soon as the first winter rains may lead to a prospect of the country being sufficiently watered.

About 120 miles to the eastward of the station of Messrs. Dempster, at the west end of Esperance Bay, lies Israelite Bay, under some islands, in front of which there is said to be anchorage. That being the nearest known anchorage westward of Eucla, it appears to offer a convenient spot whence fresh supplies might be drawn from your coaster with which to prosecute the remaining 300 miles; but this arrangement as to an intermediate place of call will be liable to modification, after consulting on the spot with the Messrs. Dempster, who are well acquainted with that part of the coast.

Between Israelite Bay and Eucla the route should be as far from the coast as circumstances and the nature of the country will admit.

At Eucla all the remaining provisions and stores that may be required should be landed, and the coaster despatched on her return to Fremantle with a report of your proceedings.

After recruiting at Eucla, five or six days might be employed with advantage in exploring the country to the northward, care being taken to place in security, by burying in casks or otherwise, such provisions, etc., as might not be necessary for the northern excursion.

On returning to Eucla from the north, the expedition is to make a final start overland for Adelaide, by such route as you may deem advisable. The Surveyor-General is of opinion that via Port Lincoln, and thence to Adelaide by steamer, would be the preferable route; but of this you will be the best judge, after receiving information from the various out-stations you will pass. Before leaving South Australia, you will dispose of your horses and such remaining stores and provisions as may not be further required, retaining all instruments and such pack-saddles and other articles of outfit as you may deem worth preserving for future service.

On arriving at Adelaide you will report yourself to his Excellency the Governor, and avail yourself of the first favourable opportunity of returning to Perth with your party, and with the remains of your outfit, either by any vessel about to proceed direct to the Swan, or by the earliest mail-steamer to King George's Sound. On application to his Excellency, Sir James Fergusson, you will be furnished with such means as may be necessary to defray your expenses from South to Western Australia, as well as during your stay in the former colony.

I am to impress on you the advisability of endeavouring, by every means in your power, to cultivate friendly relations with the aboriginal inhabitants of the country you are about to traverse.

Such are briefly the general instructions by which it is intended you should be governed in conducting the expedition entrusted to your care and guidance; and I may add that the fullest confidence is placed in your energy, zeal, and discretion, for bringing it to a successful issue. The main objects of the undertaking are alone referred to; and, although a mode of accomplishing them is briefly alluded to, it is by no means intended to fetter your judgment in adopting such measures of minor details as may appear to you necessary for effectually carrying them out.

I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,



The Adur, chartered by the Government, was a vessel of thirty tons, owned by Mr. Gabriel Adams. It gives me much pleasure to express my thanks to him and to Mr. Waugh, the master, and to the crew of the vessel, for the important services they performed, and the zeal they exhibited in rendering me assistance, not only on board the vessel, but also on shore.

We started from Perth on the afternoon of Wednesday, the 30th of March, 1870. His Excellency the Governor accompanied us for about three miles on the Albany Road. We had fifteen horses, and provisions sufficient for the journey to Esperance Bay, a distance of about 450 miles, where, it was arranged, further supplies would await us. By the 5th of April we had reached Kojonup, travelling in a north-easterly direction, and then rested four days, leaving for Jerramungup on the 9th, and reaching it on the 13th. Our first day's journey brought us to Mr. Graham's homestead, near which we bivouacked; thence our route lay in an easterly direction, at first through good grassy country with jam and white gum trees and shea oaks, by way of Etticup, Martinup (where we bivouacked on the night of the 10th), and Nigalup, beyond which were scrubby sand-plains extending southwards towards the Stirling range. On the following night we camped near some granite rocks. The next day's journey extended to Koorarkup, where we again rested. Our rate of travel was from twenty to twenty-five miles a day, and already we began to experience inconvenience from want of water. A little stream, the Pallinup, was salt, and there were salt pools on the route between our last camping-place and Koorarkup, where we were now resting.

Around Jerramungup was rich grassy country, but beyond it we passed over scrubby undulating plains for about sixteen miles, camping, on the night of the 14th, on a small branch of the Fitzgerald River, near some granite rocks called Dwertup. At this spot there was water, but very little feed for the horses. My observations showed that we were in latitude 33 degrees 1 minute 15 seconds south.

From this point the progress will be best narrated by extracts from my Diary. A reference to the map will show that as yet we had not reached the track of Eyre, who had followed the coast to King George's Sound; but by the 16th of April we had reached his line of route.

April 15th. Travelled to the north of east, and at seven miles crossed the main branch of the Fitzgerald River; granite rocks in bed, and saltwater pools. After travelling over stony undulating country for twenty-one miles, camped on a small patch of feed, with water in some granite rocks, called Coombedup.

16th. Continuing easterly over rough stony country, crossing several brooks with salt pools of water in them, we reached the Phillips River, and, after a good deal of searching, found some fresh water in a small brook near the river. The immense pools in the Phillips were as salt as sea water. Distance travelled about twenty-five miles.


17th (Sunday). Did not travel. Went this morning, in company with McLarty, to the summit of a high hill in Eyre's Range, called Annie's Peak, which we reached after one and a half hour's hard climbing. It is the steepest hill I ever attempted to ascend. We had a splendid view of the sea—the first since leaving Perth—and I also obtained a fine round of angles and bearings. On our return, found Billy had shot five ducks, and Tommy soon returned with an emu. In the evening it very suddenly came on to thunder and lighten, and soon rained in torrents, and, as we were rather unprepared, we did not pass a very pleasant night.

18th. Just as we had collected the horses it commenced to rain in torrents; got under way, however, by 9 o'clock, steering in about an easterly direction over sandy, scrubby country, and at ten miles crossed a brook with salt pools in it, and afterwards reached a large river of salt water, which we followed about two miles, and then camped at a spring called Jerdacuttup. It rained in torrents the whole day, blowing hard from the southward, so that all were drenched when we halted.

19th. After travelling about twenty-three miles, in an easterly direction, we reached a salt lake, called Parriup, and camped. Procured water on some granite rocks near camp.

20th. Travelling nine miles, reached Mr. Campbell Taylor's station on the Oldfield River, and rested for the remainder of the day.

21st. After starting the party, with instructions to reach and camp on north side of Stokes' Inlet, distant about twenty miles, I went with Mr. Taylor to the mouth of the Oldfield River, in order to take bearings to East Mount Barren, but was disappointed, the weather being very hazy. Accompanied by a native of Mr. Taylor's, followed on the tracks, but, night setting in, we made the best of our way to where I expected to find the party, but could see nothing of them, and were obliged to camp for the night without food, and, what was worse, without a fire, having neither matches nor powder with us. Luckily I had a rug, by which means I fared much better than my companion, who had only a small kangaroo skin. As it blew and rained in torrents most of the night, our position can be better imagined than described.

22nd. Early this morning we were looking for the tracks of the party, but without success; finally we returned eight miles to the Margaret River, and, after a good deal of searching, found the tracks almost obliterated by the rain, and followed along them. Upon nearing Stokes' Inlet we met Tommy Windich looking for us, he having seen the tracks and last night's bivouac. He informed me that they had camped about four miles westward of the inlet, and we had therefore passed them in the dark last night. Made all haste to overtake the party; succeeded in doing so, after a great deal of trouble, one hour and a half after dark. Encamped on north side of Barker's Inlet, at a small well of water called Booeynup. We did justice to the supper, as we had not had anything to eat for thirty-two hours.

23rd. For the first nine miles over scrubby sand-plains, kangaroos very numerous, when we came into and skirted a chain of salt lakes and marshes. Continuing over generally low country, well grassed, for five miles, we reached and camped at the old homestead of the Messrs. Dempster, called Mainbenup.


24th (Sunday). Left camp in company with Billy Noongale, and proceeded to Esperance Bay, distant twenty-four miles. On getting in view of the Bay, was much disappointed to see no schooner lying at anchor, and felt very anxious for her safety. Was very kindly received by Mrs. Andrew Dempster; the Messrs. Dempster being away on Mondrain Island.

25th. Went several times up on the hill, looking out for the Adur, but was each time disappointed. On my return in the evening, found the party had arrived from Mainbenup, and had camped.

26th. Rained very heavily all last night. Shifted camp over one mile west of homestead to a sheltered spot, where there was feed and wood. No signs of the Adur.

27th and 28th. Rested at camp; the weather very stormy. The Messrs. Dempster returned from Mondrain Island this evening.

29th. Shifted camp back to the homestead, and camped in a sheltered nook near the Head. On ascending the Look-out Hill this evening, was rejoiced to espy the Adur near Cape Le Grand, making in for the Bay, and at 8 o'clock went off in Messrs. Dempster's boat, and had the great pleasure of finding all hands well. They had experienced heavy weather, but everything was dry and safe. I cannot find words to express the joy and relief from anxiety this evening; all fears and doubts were at an end, and I was now in a position to attempt to carry out my instructions.

The Messrs. Dempster, whose hospitality was so welcome, are good specimens of the enterprising settlers who are continually advancing the frontiers of civilization, pushing forward into almost unknown regions, and establishing homesteads which hereafter may develop into important towns. In ten days we had journeyed 160 miles, and had enjoyed a foretaste of the nature of the country through which we should have to make our way. Four days' rest recruited our energies, and the arrival of the Adur, with stores, gave all the party excellent spirits.

The last day of April was occupied with landing the stores required for immediate use, and the following day, being Sunday, we rested, and, observing the practice adopted in my previous expeditions, I read Divine Service to a somewhat larger congregation than I generally had around me.

The horses had suffered from sore backs, the result of saddles being stuffed with straw; and on the two following days we were all busy restuffing them with wool, and I set Osborn, the farrier, to work to widen and alter the iron-work, so as to make the saddles more comfortable and easy to the horses. From the 3rd to the 8th of May we remained at Mr. Dempster's, and I made a survey of his location, a tract of forty acres. On Saturday, the 7th, Mr. William Dempster left for Perth, and I had the opportunity of sending a report of our proceedings to that date to the Colonial Secretary, and also of forwarding private letters.


Sunday, the 8th, being our last day in Esperance Bay, was passed quietly, all attending Divine Service at Mr. Dempster's house; and on the following morning we prepared to start on the second stage of our journey. The Adur was to meet us again at Israelite Bay, about 120 miles to the eastward; and here I resume the extracts from my Diary:—

May 9th. After collecting the horses, we saddled up and started en route for Israelite Bay, where I had instructed the master of the Adur to meet us. Bidding good-bye to our kind friends at Esperance Bay, travelled along the north shore for about eleven miles, when we left the coast and steered towards Mount Merivale, and camped at a spring on South-East corner of a salt sake, Mount Merivale bearing North 60 degrees East magnetic; Frenchman's Peak North 150 degrees East magnetic, and Remarkable Island North 196 degrees East magnetic. The country for the last few miles is beautifully grassed, with numerous brackish streams running through. Commenced keeping watch this evening, two hours each, from 8 p.m. to 6 o'clock a.m. Marked a tree with the letter F. at our bivouac.

10th. Travelled nearly due East for twenty-four miles, through scrubby, sandy country without timber. Remarkable bare granite hills studded in every direction. Camped at a spring on South-East side of granite hills, resembling a saddle. Passed Mount Hawes, leaving it a little to the north. From hill near camp, Mount Hawes bore North 295 degrees East magnetic, Mount Merivale North 278 degrees East magnetic, Frenchman's Peak North 243 degrees 30 minutes East magnetic, and the east side of Mondrain Island North 207 degrees 30 minutes East magnetic.

11th. The horses having strayed back on the tracks last night, we were delayed till 10 o'clock, when only eight of them were brought in. Sent Tommy in search of the remainder, and, after waiting until 3 o'clock for his return, my brother, Osborn, and Billy went with seven horses and loads; instructed to camp at the first place where there was feed and water, there being no feed at this camp. McLarty and myself waited until Tommy returned, which he did at sundown, having had to go back twenty-four miles to the bivouac of the 9th. There being scarcely any feed here, and it being too late to follow after the party, we tied up our horses for the night. Found it rather long hours watching, namely, about four hours each. By meridian altitude of sun, camp is in latitude 33 degrees 90 minutes 49 seconds South.

12th. Packed up and followed on the tracks of the party, and at ten miles found them camped on a branch of a creek which runs into Duke of Orleans Bay. Brackish streams plentiful: scrubby, sandy country. By meridian altitudes of sun and Arcturus, camp is in South latitude 33 degrees 51 minutes 35 seconds.


13th. Travelled in an easterly direction towards Cape Arid, passing at five miles a large creek, and at ten miles camped on a running brackish stream, which I named the Alexander. Scrubby open country most of the way. Shot a few ducks from thousands that are in these rivers.

14th. Continuing a little to the south of East for ten miles, crossed a large brook, and at fourteen miles reached another creek. Followed it up a mile and camped on east side of a large salt lagoon, into which the brook empties. Splendid green feed around camp, but no water. Went with Billy to look for some, and, after going a mile and a half East, struck the Thomas River, where we met two natives, quietly disposed, who showed us the water, and, after filling our canteens, returned with us to camp.

15th (Sunday). Shifted camp over to the Thomas River, one mile and a half, where there was plenty of water. Rained a little during the day. Grassy piece of country round camp—the first good feeding land seen since leaving Mount Merivale. About half a mile west of camp, Mount Ragged bore North 43 degrees 30 minutes East magnetic, Mount Baring North 53 degrees 15 minutes East magnetic, and South-West point of Cape Arid North 140 degrees 30 minutes East. By meridian altitude of sun, camp was in south latitude 33 degrees 50 minutes 7 seconds, and longitude about 123 degrees East. Billy shot five ducks this afternoon.

16th. Got an early start and steered nearly East, accompanied by the two natives, over scrubby sand-plains for about twenty-one miles. We camped near the sea, a few miles to the westward of Cape Pasley. Filled our canteens about two miles back from where we camped, from which point Mount Ragged bore North 11 degrees East magnetic, Cape Pasley North 110 degrees 30 minutes East magnetic, and South-East point of Cape Arid North 214 degrees East magnetic.

17th. Steering in an East-North-East direction for about nineteen miles, we camped near Point Malcolm, Mount Ragged bearing North 327 degrees East magnetic, and Point Dempster (Israelite Bay) North 35 degrees 15 minutes East magnetic. Hope to reach Israelite Bay to-morrow, as it is only sixteen miles distant. There was no water at Point Malcolm, but luckily we had filled our canteens. The wind was strong from the westward, accompanied with light showers all day. Tommy shot a kangaroo this evening, and the two natives who were travelling with us from the Thomas River did ample justice to the supper, literally eating the whole night.


18th. After starting the party, went in advance with Billy to prepare camp at Israelite Bay. When we reached it were delighted to find the Adur lying safely at anchor there; proceeding on board, found all well. Procured abundance of water by digging one foot deep in the sand-hills, and good feed a short distance from camp.

Our friends on the Adur were looking anxiously for us. We were two days behind the appointed time, and they feared some evil had befallen us, not taking into consideration the many delays incidental to such a journey through strange and difficult country as we had made. We had occupied ten days in reaching Israelite Bay since leaving Mr. Dempster's station, going an average of about twelve miles a day, which would be a slow rate of progress in a settled country, but which had sufficiently tried our horses, they being now in a very reduced condition from scarcity of feed. I resolved to stay at the camp for eight or ten days to recruit the horses, as there was good feed in the vicinity; and we re-stuffed and re-fitted the saddles and had the horses shod. I made a correct chart of the route from Esperance Bay, and found that the coast-line, as laid down in the Admiralty charts, was in many places incorrect.

On the 24th of May we determined to celebrate the Queen's birthday. All hands from the Adur came ashore, and I drew them up in line under the Union Jack, which was duly hoisted near the camp. We presented arms; sang God Save the Queen vigorously, and fired a salute of twenty-one guns, finishing with three cheers. I venture to record that our vocal efforts were as sincerely and heartily made in the Australian wilderness as any which rang that day in any part of her Majesty's wide dominions. We were all highly delighted—not only feeling that we had done our duty as loyal subjects, but other celebrations in more civilized places were forcibly recalled to memory.

I had fixed the 30th as the time for our fresh start, and we had enough to do in packing bags, and making general repairs and improvements in our outfit. Eucla Bay, the only other point at which we should be able to communicate with the coaster, was 350 miles to the east of Israelite Bay. The nature of the country was quite unknown, except so far as indicated by the not very encouraging record of Eyre's journey. We felt that we should inevitably have to encounter considerable difficulties, and perhaps even fail to reach Eucla. I deemed it right to give explicit directions to Mr. Waugh, the master of the schooner, so that, in the event of not meeting with us at the appointed place, he should have no difficulty as to the course to pursue, and to that end I gave him in writing the following instructions:—


Israelite Bay, 28th May, 1870.


It being my intention to start for Eucla on Monday, the 30th instant, I have the honour to direct you will be good enough to make arrangements for leaving this place on the 7th of June, wind and weather permitting, and sail as direct as possible for Port Eucla, situated in south latitude 31 degrees 43 minutes, and east longitude 128 degrees 52 minutes East.

You will remain at anchor in Port Eucla until the 1st September, long before which time I hope to reach and meet you there. No signs of myself or party appearing by that date, you will bury in casks under the Black Beacon, 400 pounds flour, 200 pounds pork, 100 pounds sugar, 10 pounds tea, and four bags barley, together with the remainder of our clothing on board. You will be careful to hide the spot of concealment as much as possible, or by any other means that may suggest themselves. Also you will bury a bottle containing report of your proceedings.

All these matters had better be attended to a day or two before, and on the 2nd of September you will set sail and return with all despatch to this place (Israelite Bay), where, if I have been obliged to return, I will leave buried a bottle at this spot (arranged by us yesterday), which will contain instructions as to your future proceedings.

No signs of our return being found here, you will sail for Fremantle, calling at Esperance Bay on your way.

On arriving in Fremantle, you will immediately report your return to the Honourable the Colonial Secretary, and forward him a report of your proceedings, after which your charter-party will have been completed.

These arrangements are chiefly respecting your proceedings in the event of our not reaching Eucla; and I may add that, although I have every hope of reaching there in safety, still it is impossible to command success in any enterprise, and I have to impress upon you the necessity of these instructions being carried out, as nearly as possible, to the very letter. Wishing yourself and crew a prosperous voyage, and hoping soon to meet you in Port Eucla,

I have, etc.,


Leader of Expedition.

Mr. R.B. Waugh,

Master of Schooner Adur.


On Sunday, the 29th of May, all hands came ashore to dinner. It was certainly a festive party under rather extraordinary circumstances, but it was heartily enjoyed. So far as we were concerned the future was more than usually uncertain; but there was no feeling of despondency, and we separated in the evening with mutual good wishes and hopes for the success of the expedition. I read Divine Service, and, situated as we were, a small party remote from civilization, I think we all felt more impressed than under ordinary circumstances would have been the case. We had rested for eleven days. Good food had restored the condition of the horses, and we rested in our camp in good spirits, ready for the work we were to begin on the following morning. My observations showed that we were in latitude 33 degrees 36 minutes 58 seconds South and longitude about 123 degrees 48 minutes East, the variation of compass from a number of azimuths being about 0 degrees 46 minutes westerly.

The narrative is now continued in extracts from my Diary:—

May 30th. After bidding good-bye to the crew of the Adur, and to the two natives we have had with us from the Thomas River, who were now at the end of their country and were afraid to come any further with us, we left Israelite Bay en route for Eucla, and steered in a northerly direction for about fifteen miles over salt marshes and clay-pans, with dense thickets intervening, destitute of grass. I was obliged to make for the coast, and, following it for about eight miles, we camped close to it, without water or feed, and tied up our horses in latitude 33 degrees 17 minutes 17 seconds by meridian altitude of Arcturus and a Bootes.

31st. Saddled up at dawn and continued along the beach for four miles; came to a large sand patch, and found abundance of water by digging one foot deep in the hollows. Camped on east side of the sand-hills, with first-rate feed for the horses. By meridian altitude of sun, camp is in latitude 33 degrees 13 minutes 46 seconds South.

June 1st. After starting the party, went with Tommy Windich to examine the country to the North-West, and then, travelling nine miles over salt marshes and samphire flats, with dense scrub intervening, we reached what is named on the Admiralty Charts The Front Bank, which, ascending, we found very steep and rough. At last, gaining the summit, the country receded to the north, level and thickly wooded, as far as the eye could reach. We travelled about four miles to the North-West, from where we ascended the range, and then climbed a tree to have a view of the country, which I found very level and thickly wooded with mallee. I therefore determined to turn east, and if possible, reach the party to-night. Accordingly, we reached the sea, and, following the tracks of the party, came up with them at about 10 p.m., encamped on North-East side of an immense sand-patch, about twenty-five miles from our last night's bivouac. There was abundance of water on the surface in the hollows of the sand-hills.

2nd. There being no feed near camp, saddled up and continued towards Point Culver for four miles and camped, with only some coarse grass growing on the white sand-hills for our very hungry horses. Found plenty of water by digging. This is a poor place for the horses: intend making a flying trip to the North-East to-morrow. By meridian altitude of sun and Arcturus, camp is in latitude 32 degrees 55 minutes 30 seconds south, and longitude 124 degrees 25 minutes east.

3rd. Started with my brother and Billy to examine the country to the North-East, and travelled in about a North-East direction for twenty-five miles over very level country, but in many places most beautifully grassed. We camped on a splendid flat, without water.


4th. Started at dawn and travelled in a southerly direction for nine miles, when we found a rock water-hole containing one gallon, and had breakfast. Continuing for four miles, we reached the cliffs, which fell perpendicularly into the sea, and, although grand in the extreme, were terrible to gaze from. After looking very cautiously over the precipice, we all ran back quite terror-stricken by the dreadful view. Turning our course westward along the cliffs, we reached camp at 5 o'clock, and found all well. We saw several natives' tracks during the day.

5th (Sunday). Rested at camp. Read Divine Service. Intend making preparations to-morrow for starting on Tuesday morning, and attempt to reach the water shown on Mr. Eyre's track, in longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East, 150 miles distant, by carrying thirty gallons of water with us and walking in turns, so as to have the horses to carry the water. Intend allowing each man one quart and each horse two quarts per day. Feel very anxious as to the result, as it will take five or six days; but it is the only resource left. After explaining my views to my companions, and pointing out the great probability of our meeting with small rock water-holes, was much relieved by the sanguine way in which they acquiesced in the plans, and the apparent confidence they placed in me.

6th. Filled the water-cans, and got everything ready for a start to-morrow morning.

7th. Started at 9 a.m., carrying over thirty gallons of water with us. One of the drums leaked so much that we left it at camp. Travelled along our outward tracks of the 4th, and camped at our former bivouac, with splendid feed, but no water for our horses.

8th. Started early, and steered about North-East through dense mallee thickets, destitute of grass or water, for eighteen miles. We came upon a small patch of open grassy land, and camped without water for our horses. This is the second night our horses have been without water, but the grass has been fresh, and they do not yet appear to have suffered much. Marked a tree at camp, F., 1870. My brother, I am sorry to say, left his revolver at our last night's bivouac, and did not notice it until this evening, when it was too far to send back to look for it. By meridian altitude of Arcturus, camp is in latitude 32 degrees 34 minutes 20 seconds south, and longitude 124 degrees 59 minutes east.


9th. Made an early start, steering North-East, and at one mile found a rock water-hole containing fifteen gallons, which we gave the tired, thirsty horses, and, continuing, chiefly through dense mallee thickets, with a few grassy flats intervening, for twenty-two miles, found another rock water-hole holding about ten gallons, which we also gave the horses, and, after travelling one mile from it, camped on a large grassy flat, without water for the horses. Our horses are still very thirsty, and have yet seventy miles to go before reaching the water in longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East. Am very thankful for finding the little water to-day, for if we had none, our situation would be somewhat perilous, and some of the horses would probably show signs of distress to-morrow. Latitude of camp, 32 degrees 20 minutes 35 seconds South by Arcturus, and longitude 125 degrees 16 minutes East.

10th. Steering East-North-East over generally open country, grassy flats, etc., thinly wooded, for twenty-one miles, found a small rock water-hole containing three gallons, which we put into our canteens. After travelling three miles further, camped on the edge of a grassy flat, and gave our horses half a gallon each from our canteens. Our horses appear fearfully distressed this evening. For the last ninety-six hours they have only had two gallons each. Latitude of camp 32 degrees 11 minutes 5 seconds South, longitude 125 degrees 37 minutes East.

11th. Found, on collecting the horses, that four were missing. Those found were in a sad state for want of water, and there was not a moment to lose. I therefore at once told Tommy to look for those missing, and, after saddling up, sent the party on with my brother, with instructions to steer easterly for nearly fifty miles, when they would reach the water in longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East. I remained behind to await Tommy's return, and, after an hour's awful anxiety, was rejoiced to see him returning with the ramblers. We lost no time in following after the party, and at two miles came to a water-hole they had emptied and given to the horses (fifteen gallons), and at five miles overtook them. After travelling ten miles, found another water-hole with fifteen gallons, which we also gave our horses, they being still very thirsty. At fourteen miles found a water-hole holding three gallons, which we transferred to our canteens; and at fifteen miles camped on a small but very grassy flat, close to which we found a water-hole of ten gallons, which I intend giving the horses to-morrow morning. Although the horses are still very thirsty, they are much relieved, and are willing to feed. We all felt tired from long, weary, and continued walking. By meridian altitude of Arcturus, camp is in latitude 32 degrees 13 minutes South, and longitude 125 degrees 51 minutes East.

12th (Sunday). After giving the horses the little water found by Tommy last evening, we struck a little to the south of east over generally grassy country, slightly undulating for three miles, when, being in advance, walking, I found a large water-hole with about 100 gallons of water in it. It being Sunday, and men and horses very tired, I halted for the day, as there was most luxuriant feed round camp. Our horses soon finished the water, and looked much better after it. Although now without water, we are in comparative safety, as the horses have had nearly sufficient. We are now only thirty-two miles from the water shown on Mr. Eyre's chart, in longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East. Latitude of camp 32 degrees 13 minutes 35 seconds South, and longitude 125 degrees 54 minutes East.


13th. Made an early start, and steering a little to the south of east, keeping straight for the water in longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East. At eighteen miles got a view of the sea, and beheld the sand-hills about fifteen miles ahead. Here we saw some natives' fires close to us. Approaching them, we came upon an old woman, and my brother and Tommy soon brought a man to bay. There were about twenty round us; they appeared very frightened. After detaining them half an hour, and treating them as kindly as possible, we bade them farewell and continued our journey. The natives were entirely naked. After we left the natives, we came to where the cliffs leave the sea, in longitude 126 degrees 12 minutes East. From here Point Dover was clearly visible, and I cannot express my feelings when gazing on the scene. To the westward, those grand precipitous cliffs, from 200 to 300 feet high, and Point Dover, near which Mr. Eyre's overseer was murdered, could easily be discerned; and while thinking over his hardships and miseries, we turned our faces eastward, and there saw, within a few miles, the water we so much needed. We then descended the cliffs and reached the sea shore, which we followed for about twelve miles, reaching the first sand-patch at about 10 o'clock p.m. There was good feed all around, but we could not, from the darkness, find any water. Gave our horses all we had with us, about fifteen gallons.


14th. This morning searched the sand-patches for water, without success; I therefore packed up and proceeded towards another large patch, four miles distant, going in advance with Billy. After we left, Tommy found a place used by the natives, where water could be procured by digging. He, however, followed after Billy and myself. On reaching the sand-patch we saw the place where water could be procured by digging; we also found sufficient to satisfy our horses on some sandstone flats. We were soon joined by the party, who were overjoyed to be in perfect safety once more, and we were all thankful to that Providence which had guarded us over 150 miles without finding permanent water. We soon pitched camp, and took the horses to the feed, which was excellent. Returning, we were surprised to see a vessel making in for the land, and soon made her out to be the Adur. Although the wind was favourable for Eucla, she made in for the land until within about three miles, when she turned eastward, and, although we made fires, was soon out of sight. I afterwards ascertained that they were not sure of their longitude, having no chronometer on board, and therefore wished to see some landmark.

15th. Dug two wells to-day, and found good water at seven feet from the surface. Lined them with stakes and bushes to keep them from filling in. In the afternoon we all amused ourselves shooting wattle-birds, and managed to kill fifteen.

16th. Dug another well and bushed it up, the supply from the two dug yesterday being insufficient, and obtained an ample quantity of splendid fresh water. By a number of observations, camp is in latitude 32 degrees 14 minutes 50 seconds South, and longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East, the variation of compass being about 1 degree 6 minutes easterly. The horses are improving very quickly, there being splendid feed round the sand-patches.

17th. Went with Tommy Windich for a walk eastward along the beach, and returned a little inland. Passed over some patches of beautiful grassed country. Saw a pine pole standing on one of the hummocks near the beach, probably erected by Mr. Eyre, as I am not aware of any one else having been here. We could not find any of his camps, however; doubtless the sand has long since covered them.

18th. Making preparations for a flying trip inland on Monday.

19th (Sunday). Read Divine Service. Every appearance of rain.

20th. Started this morning, in company with McLarty and Tommy Windich, to explore the country to the northward. The first twelve miles north was through very dense thickets and sandy hills, when we reached the cliffs, which we ascended with difficulty, and steering about North-North-East for the first three miles, through dense mallee thickets, we emerged into a generally grassy country, and travelled over beautifully-grassed downs. We camped at a rock water-hole of fifteen gallons, about twenty-five miles from main camp.

21st. Steering about north for one mile, we found a rock water-hole holding about thirty gallons; and continuing for thirteen miles over grassy plains, thinly wooded, the country became very clear and open, and at twenty-five miles there was nothing but plains, gently undulating, of grass and salt-bush in view. Far as the eye could reach to the North-West, North, and North-East, this clear and grassy country extended; and being now fifty miles from camp, with the prospect of finding water diminishing as we travelled northward, I determined to return. Accordingly struck South-West, and after travelling twelve miles found a small water-hole of three gallons, and camped for the night. Set watch as follows: myself 7 to 11, McLarty 11 to 3.30 a.m., and Tommy from 3.30 to 6 a.m. We found them rather long hours.

22nd. Saddled up at dawn, and steering southerly over clear, open, grassy plains for twenty-eight miles, we reached the cliffs, and rested an hour; after which we continued our journey and reached camp a little after dark, finding all well.


23rd. Made preparations for a start for Eucla to-morrow, and put everything in travelling order. During my absence, Osborn had got the horses' feet in order, and the pack-saddles had been overhauled, and repairs generally made. In looking round the camp, Tommy Windich found shoulder-blade of a horse, and two small pieces of leather. They no doubt belonged to Mr. Eyre's equipment, and, on reference to his journal, I find he was here obliged to kill a horse for food. In his journal he writes thus: "Early on the morning of the 16th April, 1841, I sent the overseer to kill the unfortunate horse, which was still alive but unable to rise from the ground, having never moved from the place where he had first been found lying yesterday morning. The miserable animal was in the most wretched state possible, thin and emaciated by long and continued suffering, and labouring under some complaint that in a very few hours, at the farthest, must have terminated its life." I cut off part of the shoulder-blade, and have since given it, together with the pieces of leather, to his Excellency Governor Weld.


24th. Started at 8.30 a.m. en route for Eucla. Steering in a North-North-East direction for fifteen miles, reached the cliffs, and after following along them two miles, found a large rock water-hole, but in an almost inaccessible spot. While I was examining the cliffs near, to find a place where we could get the horses up, Tommy heard a cooey, and after answering it a good many times, we were surprised to see two natives walking up towards us, unarmed. I approached and met them; they did not appear at all frightened, and at once began to eat the damper I gave them. We could not understand anything they said. I beckoned them to come along with us, which they at once did, and followed so closely after me as to tramp on my spurs. They pointed to water further ahead. After walking about a mile, four more natives were seen running after us, who, on joining, made a great noise, singing, and appearing very pleased. Shortly afterwards two more followed, making seven in all; all entirely naked, and every one circumcised. We found the water alluded to on the top of the cliffs, but, it being too late to get the horses up, we turned off to the southward half a mile, and camped on a small grassy flat, without water for the horses. The seven natives slept at our fire. We gave them as much damper as they could eat. They had not the least particle of clothing, and made pillows of each other's bodies, and resembled pigs more than human beings.

25th. The horses began to stray towards morning, and at 3 a.m. I roused Billy and brought them back. After saddling up, went to the cliffs, and with two hours' hard work in making a path and leading up the horses (two of which fell backwards), we managed to gain the summit. The seven natives accompanied us, and giving one of them the bag containing my rug to carry over to the water, I was surprised to see him trotting off with it. Calling Tommy, we soon overtook him and made him carry it back to the party. After giving our horses as much as they required from the fine water-holes, I motioned five of the natives to leave us and two to accompany us, which they soon understood, and appeared satisfied. Travelling in an East-North-East direction for twenty-one miles, over rich grassy table-land plains, thinly wooded, we camped on a very grassy spot, without water for our horses. By meridian altitude of Arcturus, camp is in latitude 31 degrees 52 minutes 30 seconds south, and longitude 126 degrees 53 minutes East.

26th (Sunday). Finding the two natives entirely useless, as we could not understand them, and had to give them part of the little water we carried with us, motioned them to return, which they appeared very pleased to do. Steering in an easterly direction for two miles, over downs of most luxuriant grass, we found a large rock water-hole holding over 100 gallons. It was Sunday, and all being tired, we camped for the day. In every direction, open gently undulating country, most beautifully grassed, extended. By meridian altitude of sun, camp is in latitude 31 degrees 53 minutes South. Read Divine Service. Tommy and Billy went for a stroll, and returned bringing with them two small kangaroos, (the first we have shot since leaving Israelite Bay) which proved a great treat. The natives also found a fine water-hole about a mile from camp. Gave the horses all the water at this place. Every appearance of rain.

27th. Made rather a late start, owing to some of the horses straying. Steered in an East-North-East direction, and at ten miles found a small waterhole, and at twenty-one miles another, both of which we gave our horses, and at twenty-four miles camped on a grassy spot, without water for our horses. For the first fifteen miles grassy, gently undulating, splendid feeding country extended in every direction, after which there was a slight falling off, scrubby at intervals. By meridian altitude of Arcturus, camp was in latitude 31 degrees 46 minutes 43 seconds South, and longitude 127 degrees 17 minutes East.

28th. Had some difficulty in collecting the horses, and made a late start, steering in about an East-North-East direction for the first five miles, over very grassy flats, etc., when it became more dense and scrubby until twenty miles, after which it improved a little. At twenty-four miles we camped on a grassy rise, without water, in south latitude 31 degrees 41 minutes, and longitude 127 degrees 40 minutes East. Our horses appeared distressed for want of water, the weather being very warm.


29th. Had to go back five miles to get the horses this morning. After saddling up, travelled in about an easterly direction for twenty-four miles, and camped on a grassy rise, close to a small rock water-hole. During the day, found in small rock-holes sufficient to give each horse about three gallons. The country was generally very grassy, although in some places rather thickly wooded. McLarty was very foot-sore from heavy and long walking. By meridian altitude of Arcturus, camp is in latitude 31 degrees 45 minutes South, and longitude 128 degrees 2 minutes East.

30th. Hearing the horses make off, I roused Billy and brought them back; they had gone two miles. Packed up, and steering in an east direction over generally very grassy country with occasional mallee thickets, for about twenty-two miles, we came to a splendidly-grassed rise, and found a fine rock water-hole on it, containing about 100 gallons, which our horses soon finished being fearfully in want, the day being very warm. We are now only thirty miles from Eucla. For the last two days McLarty has been so lame that I have not allowed him to walk—his boots hurting his feet.

July 1st. Made an early start, every one being in high spirits, as I told them they should see the sea and Eucla to-day. Travelling about east over most beautifully-grassed country, at five miles found a large water-hole, holding 100 gallons; but our horses, not being thirsty, did not drink much. This is the first rock water-hole we have passed without finishing since we left Point Culver. After ten miles reached the cliffs, or Hampton Range, and had a splendid view of the Roe Plains, Wilson's Bluff looming in the distance, bearing North 77 degrees 30 minutes East magnetic.

Descending the cliffs with difficulty, we followed along the foot of them, which was beautifully grassed, and, after travelling twelve miles, beheld the Eucla sand-hills. On my pointing them out, every heart was full of joy, and, being away some distance, I heard the long and continued hurrahs from the party! Eucla was all the conversation! I never before remember witnessing such joy as was evinced on this occasion by all the party. After travelling five miles further we camped close to the cliffs, at a small water-hole, Wilson's Bluff bearing North 85 degrees East magnetic, and the Delissier sand-hills North 90 degrees East magnetic. We might have reached Eucla this evening, but I preferred doing so to-morrow, when we could have the day before us to choose camp. We are now again in safety, Eucla being only seven miles distant, after having travelled 166 miles without finding permanent water—in fact, over 300 miles with only one place where we procured permanent water, namely, in longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East. I trust we all recognized with sincerity and thankfulness the guiding and protecting Father who had brought us through in safety. By observation, the camp was in latitude 31 degrees 42 minutes South.


2nd. Made an early start and steered straight for the anchorage, distant about five miles, having first ascended the range to have a view of the country, which was very extensive. Far as the eye could reach to the westward the Roe Plains and Hampton Range were visible; while to the eastward lay Wilson's Bluff and the Delissier sand-hills; and three miles west of them we were delighted to behold the good schooner Adur, riding safely at anchor in Eucla harbour, which formed by no means the least pleasing feature of the scene to our little band of weary travellers. Made at once for the vessel, and, on reaching her, found all well and glad to see us. She was anchored between the Red and Black Beacons. The latter had been blown down, but shall be re-erected. There being no water at the anchorage, moved on to the Delissier sand-hills, where we found water by digging two and a half feet from the surface. Camped on west side of the sand-hills. Landed barley, etc., from the boat. There was good feed for the horses under the Hampton Range, about a mile and a half distant.

The next day was Sunday. The crew of the Adur came ashore and dined with us, and, as usual, I read Divine Service. On the following morning I went aboard the schooner and examined the log-book and charts. We painted the Red and Black Beacons, and Mr. Adams having trimmed up a spar, we erected a flagstaff thirty-four feet high. I occupied myself the next day with preparing a report to be sent to the Colonial Secretary. My brother went off to the boat and brought ashore the things we required. We were busy on the following days packing up and shipping things not required for the trip to Adelaide, and I gave the master of the Adur instructions to sail with all despatch for Fremantle.

The following report, which I sent back by the Adur, describes the progress then made with somewhat more detail than in my Journal:—

Port Eucla, 7th July, 1870.


It is with much pleasure I have the honour to report, for the information of his Excellency the Governor, the safe arrival here of the expedition entrusted to my guidance, as also the meeting of the schooner Adur.

Leaving Esperance Bay on the 9th of May, we travelled in an easterly direction, over plains generally poorly grassed, to Israelite Bay (situated in latitude 33 degrees 36 minutes 51 seconds South, and longitude 123 degrees 48 minutes East), which we reached on the 18th May, and met the Adur, according to instructions issued to the master. Here we recruited our horses and had them re-shod, put the pack-saddles in good order, packed provisions, etc., and gave the master of the Adur very strict and detailed instructions to proceed to Eucla Harbour, and await my arrival until the 2nd of September, when, if I did not reach there, he was to bury provisions under the Black Beacon and sail for Fremantle, via Israelite and Esperance Bays. Everything being in readiness, on the 30th of May we left Israelite Bay en route for Eucla, carrying with us three months' provisions. Keeping near the coast for sixty miles, having taken a flying trip inland on my way, we reached the sand-patches a little to the west of Point Culver, in latitude 32 degrees 55 minutes 34 seconds South, and longitude 124 degrees 25 minutes East, on the 2nd of June.

On the 3rd went on a flying trip to the North-East, returning on the 4th along the cliffs and Point Culver. I found the country entirely destitute of permanent water, but, after leaving the coast a few miles, to be, in places, beautifully grassed. On the coast near the cliffs it was very rocky, and there was neither feed nor water. Finding there was no chance of permanent water being found, that the only water in the country was in small rocky holes—and those very scarce indeed—and the feed being very bad at Point Culver, I determined, after very mature consideration, to attempt at all hazards to reach the water shown on Mr. Eyre's track in longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East, or 140 miles distant.

In accordance with these arrangements, on the 7th day of June started on our journey, carrying over thirty gallons of water on three of our riding horses, and taking it in turns walking. Travelled about North-East for four days, which brought us to latitude 32 degrees 11 minutes South, and longitude 125 degrees 37 minutes East, finding, during that time, in rocky holes, sufficient water to give each horse two gallons. On the fifth day we were more fortunate, and were able to give them each two gallons more, and on the sixth day (the 12th June, Sunday) found a large rock hole containing sufficient to give them five gallons each, which placed us in safety, as the water in longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East was only thirty-two miles distant. Continuing, we reached the water on Tuesday, June 14th, and by observation found it to be in latitude 32 degrees 14 minutes 50 seconds South, and longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East, the variation of the compass being about 1 degree 6 minutes easterly.

The country passed over between Point Culver and longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East, was in many places beautifully grassed, level, without the slightest undulation, about 300 feet above the sea, and not very thickly wood. It improves to the northward, being clearer and more grassy, and the horizon to the north, in every place where I could get an extensive view, was as uniform and well-defined as that of the sea. On the route from Point Culver to longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East, we were from twenty to twenty-five miles from the sea.

Recruiting ourselves and horses till the 30th, I took a flying trip to the northward. For the first twelve miles from the sea was through a dense and almost impenetrable scrub, when we reached the cliffs, and after ascending them we came into the same description of level country that we travelled over from Point Culver, save that this was more open and grassy, and became still clearer as we proceeded north, until, at our farthest point north, in latitude 31 degrees 33 minutes South, and longitude 126 degrees 33 minutes East, scarcely a tree was visible, and vast plains of grass and saltbush extended as far as the eye could reach in every direction. We found a little water for our horses in rock holes. Returning, we reached camp on June 22nd. On the 23rd we were engaged making preparations for a start for Eucla. In looking round camp, Tommy Windich found the shoulder-blade of a horse and two small pieces of leather belonging to a packsaddle. The shoulder-blade is no doubt the remains of the horse Mr. Eyre was obliged to kill for food at this spot.

On June 24th started for Eucla, carrying, as before, over thirty gallons of water, and walking in turns. On the 25th found on the top of the cliffs a large rock hole, containing sufficient water to give the horses as much as they required, and on the 26th were equally fortunate. From the 26th to the 30th we met with scarcely any water, and our horses appeared very distressed, more so as the weather was very warm. On the evening of the 30th, however, we were again fortunate enough to find a water-hole containing sufficient to give them six gallons each, and were again in safety, Eucla water being only thirty miles distant. On the morning of the 1st day of July we reached the cliffs, or Hampton Range (these cliffs recede from the sea in longitude 126 degrees 12 minutes East, and run along at the average distance of twelve or fifteen miles from the sea until they join it again at Wilson's Bluff, in longitude 129 degrees East. They are very steep and rough, and water may generally be found in rock holes in the gorges. I, however, wished to keep further inland, and therefore did not follow them), and shortly afterwards we beheld the Wilson's Bluff and the Eucla sand-hills. Camped for the night near the Hampton Range, about five miles from Eucla Harbour, and on the 2nd July, on nearing the anchorage, discovered the schooner Adur lying safely at anchor, which proved by no means the least pleasing feature to our little band of weary travellers. Camped on west side of Delissier sand-hills, and found water by digging.

The country passed over between longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East, as a grazing country, far surpasses anything I have ever seen. There is nothing in the settled portions of Western Australia equal to it, either in extent or quality; but the absence of permanent water is the great drawback, and I do not think water would be procured by sinking, except at great depths, as the country is at least three hundred feet above the sea, and there is nothing to indicate water being within an easy depth from the surface. The country is very level, with scarcely any undulation, and becomes clearer as you proceed northward.

Since leaving Cape Arid I have not seen a gully or watercourse of any description—a distance of 400 miles.

The route from longitude 126 degrees 24 minutes East to Eucla was generally about thirty miles from the sea.

The natives met with appeared friendly and harmless; they are entirely destitute of clothing, and I think not very numerous.

Very little game exists along the route; a few kangaroos were seen, but no emus—an almost certain sign, I believe, of the scarcity of water.

The health of the party has been excellent; and I cannot speak too highly of the manner in which each member of the expedition has conducted himself, under circumstances often of privation and difficulty.

All our horses are also in splendid condition; and when I reflect how great were the sufferings of the only other Europeans who traversed this route, I cannot but thank Almighty God who has guarded and guided us in safety through such a waterless region, without the loss of even a single horse.

I am afraid I shall not be able to get far inland northward, unless we are favoured with rain. We have not had any rain since the end of April, and on that account our difficulties have been far greater than if it had been an ordinary wet season.

I intend despatching the Adur for Fremantle to-morrow. The charter-party has been carried out entirely to my satisfaction. With the assistance of the crew of the Adur I have repainted the Red and Black Beacons. The latter had been blown down; we, however, re-erected it firmly again. I have also erected a flagstaff, thirty feet high, near camp on west side of Delissier sand-hills, with a copper-plate nailed on it, with its position, my name, and that of the colony engraved on it.

We are now within 140 miles from the nearest Adelaide station. I will write to you as soon as I reach there. It will probably be a month from this date.

Trusting that the foregoing brief account of my proceedings, as leader of the expedition entrusted to my guidance, may meet with the approval of his Excellency the Governor,

I have, etc.,


Leader of Expedition to Eucla and Adelaide.

The Honourable the Colonial Secretary,

Perth, W.A.

We had now accomplished rather more than half the distance between Perth and Adelaide, but there was still a gap of 140 miles to be bridged over. We bade good-bye to our friends on board the Adur, and were now thrown entirely on our own resources. I resume the extracts from my Journal:—


July 8th. Started in company with my brother and Billy, having three riding horses and a pack horse, to penetrate the country to the northward. Travelled in a northerly direction for about twenty-seven miles, over plains generally well grassed, and then bivouacked. From the camp only plains were in sight, not a tree visible. Did not meet with a drop of water on our way, and, having brought none, we had to do without it. This season is too dry to attempt to cross these vast grassy plains, and I shall return to camp to-morrow—the attempt to get inland without rain only exhausting ourselves and horses to no purpose.

9th. After collecting the horses, which had strayed back on the tracks, we steered in a South-South-West direction, and reached camp a little after sundown. Did not find any water, except about half a gallon, during the two days, and, the weather being warm, the horses were in a very exhausted state when they reached camp. Found the Adur had left yesterday afternoon.

10th (Sunday). Rested at Eucla. Read Divine Service.

11th. Osborn busy with the shoeing. Went with Billy to Wilson's Bluff, and saw the boundary-post between South and Western Australia, placed by Lieutenant Douglas. Returned at sundown.

12th. Erected the flagstaff with the Union Jack flying, and nailed a copper plate to the staff, with the following engraved on it:—


From the flagstaff, Wilson's Bluff bore North 70 degrees 15 minutes East magnetic, and the Black Beacon North 246 degrees 20 minutes East magnetic, and it is situated in latitude 31 degrees 41 minutes 50 seconds South.

13th. There was a total eclipse of the moon in the morning. All busy preparing for a start for the Head of the Bight to-morrow. Buried a cask eight feet west of flagstaff, containing 100 pounds flour, 130 pounds barley, 16 new sets of horse-shoes, shoeing nails, etc. Nailed a plate on flagstaff, with DIG 8 FEET WEST on it. Took a ride to the Black and Red Beacons, to examine country round Eucla.

14th. Bidding farewell to Eucla and the Union Jack, which we left on the flagstaff, we started for the Head of the Bight, carrying over thirty gallons of water with us, and walking in turns. Ascended the cliffs without difficulty, and passed the boundary of the two colonies; then left the sea, and, steering in an East-North-East and North-East direction until a little after dark, camped on a grassy piece of country, without water for our horses. Distance travelled about twenty-six miles. By observation camp is in latitude 31 degrees 30 minutes 42 seconds South, and longitude 129 degrees 20 minutes East.


15th. Started at daylight, and travelled East-North-East for seven miles, when we bore East over generally level country, well grassed, but entirely destitute of water. We camped at sundown on a grassy rise, without water for our horses. Distance travelled, thirty-four miles. The horses have not had any water for two days, and show signs of distress. Intend starting before daylight, as there is a good moon.

16th. At 1 a.m. went with Billy to bring back the horses, which had again made off. After returning, saddled up, and at 4.50 a.m. got under way, steering a little to the south of east in order to make the cliffs, as there might be water in rock holes near them. At eighteen miles came to the sea, but could find no water. At thirty miles saw a pile of stones, and at thirty-three miles saw a staked survey line. Camped on a grassy piece of country, two miles from the sea. This is the third day without a drop of water for the horses, which are in a frightful state. Gave them each four quarts from our water-drums, and I hope, by leaving a little after midnight, to reach the Head of the Bight to-morrow evening, as it is now only forty miles distant. By observation, camp is in latitude 31 degrees 32 minutes 27 seconds South, and longitude 130 degrees 30 minutes East.

17th. Was obliged to get up twice to bring back the horses, and at four o'clock made a start. The horses were in a very exhausted state; some having difficulty to keep up. About noon I could descry the land turning to the southward, and saw, with great pleasure, we were fast approaching the Head of the Great Australian Bight. Reached the sand-patches at the extreme Head of the Bight just as the sun was setting, and found abundance of water by digging two feet deep in the sand. Gave the horses as much as I considered it safe for them to have at one time. I have never seen horses in such a state before, and hope never to do so again. The horses, which four days ago were strong and in good condition, now appeared only skeletons, eyes sunk, nostrils dilated, and thoroughly exhausted. Since leaving Eucla to getting water at this spot, a period of nearly ninety hours, they had only been allowed one gallon of water each, which was given them from our water-drums. It is wonderful how well they performed this journey; had they not started in good condition, they never could have done it. We all felt very tired. During the last sixty hours I have only had about five hours' sleep, and have been continually in a great state of anxiety—besides which, all have had to walk a great deal.


18th. This is a great day in my journal and journey. After collecting the horses we followed along the beach half a mile, when I struck North for Peelunabie well, and at half a mile struck a cart track from Fowler's Bay to Peelunabie. After following it one mile and a quarter, came to the well and old sheep-yards, and camped. Found better water in the sand-hills than in the well. There is a board nailed on a pole directing to the best water, with the following engraved on it:

G. Mackie, April 5th, 1865, Water [finger pointing right] 120 yards.

Upon sighting the road this morning, which I had told them we should do, a loud and continued hurrahing came from all the party, who were overjoyed to behold signs of civilization again; while Billy, who was in advance with me, and whom I had told to look out, as he would see a road directly, which he immediately did, began giving me great praise for bringing them safely through such a long journey. I certainly felt very pleased and relieved from anxiety, and, on reviewing the long line of march we had performed through an uncivilized country, was very sensible of that protecting Providence which had guided us safely through the undertaking.

19th. Steered in an easterly direction along an old track towards Wearing's well, as I intend going inland, instead of along the coast to Fowler's Bay. Travelled for sixteen miles through a barren and thickly-wooded country, sand-hills, etc. We camped on a small grassy flat, without water. Being now in the settled districts I gave over keeping watch, which we had regularly done since the 9th of May.

20th. Continuing for fifteen miles, we reached a deserted well called Wearing's; it was about 200 feet deep, and after joining all the tether-ropes, girths, bridle reins, halters, etc., we managed to get up a bucket full, but after all our trouble it was quite salt. We therefore continued our journey South-East for Fowler's Bay, and at four miles saw some fresh sheep tracks, and shortly afterwards saw the shepherd, named Jack, who was very talkative. He told us he had been to Swan River, and thought it was quite as good as this place. He also said there was a well of good water about eight miles further on. This was a pleasant surprise, the nearest well on my chart being sixteen miles distant: this was a new well sunk since the survey. We therefore pushed on, although our horses were very tired, and reached the well, where there was a substantial stone hut; met the shepherd, whose name was Robinson. He said he knew who we were, having heard about three months ago that we might be expected this way. He was as kind and obliging as it was possible to be in his circumstances. Had a difficulty in drawing water for the horses, the well being nearly 200 feet deep, and there was not a bite for the poor creatures to eat, except a few miles off. As it was now an hour after dark, I turned them out, and left them to do the best they could. The old shepherd kept talking most of the night, and said we looked more like people just come from Fowler's Bay than having come overland from Western Australia.

21st. The horses strayed off in many directions during the night, and they were not all collected till after noon, when we continued our journey for four miles, and finding a small piece of feed, we camped without water for the horses. Many of the horses were in a very critical state, and one was completely knocked up.

22nd. Again were delayed by the rambling of the horses until nearly noon, when we travelled along the road towards Fowler's Bay. After ten miles, watered the horses at a well called Waltabby, and two miles further on camped, with scarcely any feed for the horses. One of the horses completely gave in to-day, and we had great difficulty in getting him to camp. By meridian altitude of Arcturus, camp is in latitude 31 degrees 34 minutes 28 seconds South.


23rd. Although the feed was short, our horses did not stray, and after saddling up we continued along road for two and a half miles, and reached Colona, the head station of Degraves and Co., of Victoria, where we were most hospitably received by Mr. Maiden, the manager. At his desire camped, and turned out the horses on a piece of feed kept for his horses, and intend remaining over Sunday. We accepted his kind invitation to make ourselves his guests while we remained. He informed me that the South Australian Government had instructed the mounted trooper at Fowler's Bay to proceed to the Head of the Bight and give us every information and assistance in his power. I am glad we have saved him the journey.

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