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Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia
by Thomas Mitchell
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4TH AUGUST.—We had still so much westing to make, in order to hit the head of the Gulf, that I was disposed to follow up the new river in any direction that did not take us much to the S. The river, however, was soon found to come from the S.W. and S., so that I was obliged to cross it. I then travelled W. through open forest three miles, which brought us to undulating ground. I then turned to the W.N.W., and proceeded over ground equally open and favourable for the passage of our carts. At length, a hard ferruginous conglomerate rock, projected from the surface, and clumps of thick brigalow grew on some of the summits. On one piece of rising ground, I found a mass of rocks, a few feet higher than the rest, and from it I perceived a continuation of the slightly elevated flattopped range, to the southward and westward. A somewhat higher but similar sort of range appeared in the east, beyond a very broad and level woody country, through which it was probable that our first-found river still pursued a northerly course. Beyond that flat, and further to the eastward, the same hills already seen were still visible, and others northward of them, just like them. There was a high summit beyond all these bearing about E. I could not discover any satisfactory line to follow in the country thus partially visible, and as the sun was near the horizon, I only continued, to go forward to a valley wherein I hoped to have found water, but was disappointed, the soil being too sandy and absorbent. There we nevertheless encamped, in Lat. 22 deg. 19' 45" S. On this day's journey, I saw two of the rose-coloured paroqueets of the Barwan, none of these birds having been seen by any of the party since we crossed the Culgoa. A fragrant stenochilus, with leaves smelling exactly like mint, was found this day, and a splendid banksia in flower, also a new MELALEUCA.[*] Thermometer, at sunrise, 23 deg.; at noon, 58 deg.; at 4 P.M., 63 deg.; at 9, 29 deg.; with wet bulb, 18 deg..

[* M. TAMARISCINA (Hook. MSS.); ramosissima ramulis gracillimis copiose excavatis e foliis delapsis, foliis rameis remotis parvis ovatis acuminatis appressis, ramulinis minutissimis squamaeformibus convexis obtusis imbricatis immersis, capsulis circa ramos spicatis parvis globosis.—A very singular MELALEUCA, somewhat allied to M. HUGELII, Endl.: but extremely different in the very minute squamiform leaves of the copious slender branchlets, from which they fall and leave the bleached slender branchlets full of little pits or cavities in which the leaves had been, as it were, sunk.]

5TH AUGUST.—The last-found river not having answered my expectations, we had come quite far enough from the one we had previously followed, which still might have turned N.W., where we wished it to go; although I confess the prospect was by no means promising. The doubt was still to be removed, and, after a night passed without water, the earliest dawn saw us again going forward, in a direction a little to the eastward of N. It was only after pursuing that line for seventeen miles, that we again found the river, unchanged in character, and still running northerly. This was a trying day for our animals, as they could not be watered until long after it was dark; a brigalow scrub, full of much fallen timber, having retarded and impeded the carts so that they could not be got to the water sooner. Nor had this been possible, even then, but for the fortunate circumstance of our having the light of a nearly full moon. I had preceded the party by some miles, accompanied by Yuranigh, the rest following my horse's tracks, and I had thus passed through the four miles of scrub, and reached the river early in the day. On returning, we found the party in the midst of this scrub, and succeeded in guiding it, even by moonlight, to the pond at which we had watered our horses during the day. Many dry hollows of indurated mud appeared, as usual, in the brigalow we had passed through; and we endeavoured to lead the carts, as much as possible, through these hollows, in order to avoid the dead logs, many of which we were obliged to cut, before the carts could pass. Many deep impressions of natives' feet appeared in these clay hollows; also the tracks of emus. Yuranigh showed me several tracks where a native had been following a kangeroo's track; and he told me of a certain method adopted by the natives of killing the kangeroo during wet weather,—which is, to pursue the track, following it up day after day, until they overtake the animal, which, on being so incessantly followed, becomes at length so defenceless, that one native can despatch it with a tomahawk. According to the barometer, it appeared that this river was not now much higher above the level of the sea, than the Bogan or the Balonne. Still it spread into many channels and isolated ponds; the latter being sometimes in good grassy land, apart from the brigalow. Nothing could be more sterile than the surface where the brigalow grew; but the first indication of the river was an open space covered with luxuriant grass, and we had to ride two miles along this, before Yuranigh and I could find the river, having been guided to it chiefly by some smoke of the natives. At the first place we approached, we found two ponds of excellent water, under the shining boughs of lofty Yarra trees. Latitude, 22 deg. 10' 15" S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 39 deg.; at noon, 64 deg.; at 4 P.M., 61 deg.; at 9, 36 deg.;— with wet bulb, 28 deg.. (LXVII.)

6TH AUGUST.—I gave the jaded cattle a day's rest, and the men thus had an opportunity to screw up and repair their carts.

7TH AUGUST.—The brigalow scrub obliged me this day to travel along the river banks, upon which I found it pleasant to go, as they proved open and grassy. Large lagoons and reaches of water appeared in the scattered channels. At length, a deep broad reach, brim full of pure water, glittered before us. Clouds of large ducks arose from it, and larger water-fowl shrieked over our heads. A deep receding opening appeared to the northeast, as if our river had been either breaking off in that direction, or met with some important tributary from that side. I continued to travel northwest, passing through some fine open forests. The character of the country seemed changed. The grass was of a different kind, and a refreshing breeze from the north-east seemed to "smell of water," as Yuranigh expressed it. The dense line of Yarra trees appeared still to be continuous on the right, and the more I travelled westward, the more I was convinced that we still had the river at hand. We did at length approach its banks after a journey of ten miles, when we found this was a river FROM the west appearing fully as deep and important as the one we had been following, and containing ponds of water. This new tributary from the west, left no room to hope that the channel we had been pursuing would turn westward—on the contrary, it became but too probable that below the junction of this river, the channel would turn towards the N. E. It could not well be doubted that this went to the eastern coast; but, to remove all doubt, as Yuranigh was of a different opinion, I sent Corporal Graham with him up the newly-found river, to ascertain whether it did not come from the north-west, in which case we could not expect that the other it joined would go in that direction. Their report on returning, only rendered it necessary that I should take a ride forward next morning. They said this river came from the S. W., and at two miles higher, had a very narrow channel. Lower down, it was found to join the main channel, which, below the junction, still continued northward. There, we found a beautiful new Grevillea.[*] The STENOCHILUS PUBIFLORUS formed a willow-leaved shrub about twelve feet high, and in the sandy bed of the river was an EUPHORBIA very near E. HYPERICIFOLIA, but with narrower leaves, and the ovary pubescent not glabrous. The DODONOEA VESTITA, with its hairy foliage and large shaggy fruits, clothed the sandstone surface back from the river.[**] Latitude, 22 deg. 2' 15" S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 30 deg.; at noon, 78 deg.; at 4 P.M., 77 deg.; at 9, 55 deg.;—with wet bulb 49 deg.. (LXVIII).

[* G. MITCHELLI (Hook. MSS.); appresso-subsericesa, foliis pinnatifidis bipinnatifidisque, laciniis angustissime linearibus elongatis marginibus arcte reflexis subtus concoloribus, racemis elongatis secundis densifloris, floribus subverticillatis, perianthiis pedicellisque tomentosis, folliculis oblique ovatis tomentosis sessilibus, stylis glabris.—Allied to G. CHRYSODENDRON, Br., but the segments of the leaves are narrower, not golden-coloured beneath: the flowers are entirely secund: a splendid species.]

[** D. VESTITA (Hook. MSS.); tota densissime pilosa, foliis pinnatis pinnis oppositis 4—5-jugis cuneatis apice lunulato-emarginatis vel incisis, rachi articulata articulis obovatis, capsulis profundis tetrapteris villosissimis.]

8TH AUGUST.—With two men and Yuranigh, I proceeded first, northward by compass, for some miles, when I emerged from scrub, upon fine open downs covered with a crop of excellent grass. The soil was soft and rich, the grass PANICUM LOEVINODE. Small clumps of Acacias were strewed over these downs, which were very extensive, and from them I saw several rather high hills to the eastward, terminating abruptly over a low country to the northward. Supposing that the main channel would there turn round to the eastward, I proceeded north-west to examine the country. I soon entered a thick scrub of rosewood and other Acacias. I remarked the CALLISTEMON NERVOSUM, previously seen (July) with rich crimson flowers, forming a large tree, in the dry open forest, with perfectly green spikes; also, on the branches of Eucalypti, a beautiful orange coloured LORANTH. The soil was rich, yielding, and rather bare of vegetation. Nodules of variegated limestone, or marble, appeared on the surface, showing that the improvement in the soil was owing to a change in the rocks under it. Again emerging on open plains, the country seemed to fall northward, which induced me to ride again in that direction, thinking we might meet with some river either coming from the N. W. or leading there. The open plains terminated upon a hollow full of trees, growing, as was very evident, on a lower surface. The hollows resembled those of brigalow scrub, and we soon found this tree in full possession of them. Dry channels, leading in various directions between N. W. and E. engaged my attention throughout the afternoon: indeed, they seemed interminable. At length, we detected some continuity in the hollows, leading towards the N.N.E. Yarra trees at length appeared in it, abundance of grass on the banks, and deep dry ponds. Two crows hovering over one, raised our hopes that it contained water, as we also perceived a line of green vegetation over the margin. It was deep and full of water. Here, about 4 P. M., we were thus enabled to water our horses, and continue our ride independently of finding more water that evening. We next perceived an open forest hill on our right; but, on examining the country from it, we saw no immediate indications of the river. On reentering the brigalow scrub, the continuity of ponds was very indistinct, and I at length lost it, as it seemed, on its turning off to the eastward, a direction in which I was unwilling to follow it at that time. I threaded the mazes of another chain of hollows, which turned in various directions between N. W. and 20 deg. N. of E., the latter being the general course. During this unsatisfactory sort of exploration, night overtook us, where the dry and naked clay presented neither grass nor water. Our horses had come thirty miles, and it was only after considerable search, in the dark, that I found a grassy spot for our horses, and where we tied them up, and lay down to pass the night.

9TH AUGUST.—We saddled them as soon as day broke, and proceeded again into the scrub; but the hollows took no longer any continuous channel, and I again travelled N. W., in which direction I entered upon a plain. Thence I perceived a low flat, and a line of trees beyond it, very much resembling those of a river, and towards this I hastened, and found the river we had followed so far, unchanged in character. The scattered ponds, and nearly northerly course, were legible proofs of its identity. We watered our horses and took some breakfast, after which, while engaged laying down our route, one of the men observed some natives looking at us from a point of the opposite bank. I held up a green bough to one who stood forward in a rather menacing attitude, and who instantly replied to my signal of peace by holding up his bommareng. It was a brief but intelligible interview; no words could have been better understood on both sides; and I had fortunately determined, before we saw these natives, to return by tracing the river upwards. Our horses had been turned loose, the better to allow them to make the most of their time while we breakfasted. Graham got them together while I was telegraphing with the natives, some of whom I perceived filling some vessel with water, with which they retired into the woods. We saddled, and advanced to examine their track and the spot they had quitted, also that they might afterwards see our horses' tracks there, lest our green bough and subsequent return might have encouraged them to follow us. Yuranigh was burning the mutton bones we had picked; but I directed him to throw them about, that the natives might see that we neither eat their kangaroos nor emus. I found the course of the river very straight, but rather more than it had been, to the eastward of north. In some parts of the channel, lay deep reaches of water, fully a mile long; at other places, shallow hollows quite dry, seemed to be the only channel for the river's currents. We avoided brigalow scrubs, and passed the night on a grassy part of the bank, about ten miles back from the farthest point we had reached that morning.

10TH AUGUST.—Early in the morning a moist breeze blew from the north, with low scud not very high above the trees. Higher clouds drove as rapidly from the westward. The extremely moist air was a great novelty to us there. About 9 A.M., the sky was wholly overcast; but it finally cleared up, and the day was cool. We reached the camp about 3 P.M., having hit the river on which it was situated, two miles lower. There I found, to my surprise, that its channel was very deep and full of water, being broader than that of the main river. I was, therefore, inclined to explore its sources by proceeding upwards next day, as the direction of the northerly stream, did not promise much. The camp had just been visited by seventeen natives, apparently bent on hostile purposes, all very strong, several of them upwards of six feet high. Each of them carried three or four missile clubs. They were headed by an old man, and a gigantic sort of bully, who would not keep his hands off our carts. They said, by signs, that the whole country belonged to the old man. They pointed in the direction in which I had gone, and to where Mr. Stephenson happened to be at the time, down in the river bed; and then beckoned to the party that they also should follow or go where I had gone, or leave that place. They were received very firmly, but civilly and patiently, by the men, and were requested to sit down at a distance, my man Brown, being very desirous that I should return before they departed; thinking the old man might have given me some information about the river, which he called "Belyando." But a noisy altercation seemed to arise between the old chief and the tallest man, about the clubs, during which the latter again came forward, and beckoned to others behind, who came close up also. Each carried a club under each arm, and another in each hand, and from the gestures made to this advanced party, by the rest of the tribe of young men at a distance, it appeared that this was intended to be a hostile movement. Brown accordingly drew out the men in line before the tents, with their arms in their hands, and forbade the natives to approach the tents. "Nothing damps the ardour of troops so much," says General Lloyd, "as an unexpected obstacle at the moment of attack," and these strong men stood still and looked foolish, when they saw the five men in line, with incomprehensible weapons in their hands. Just then, our three dogs ran at them, and no charge of cavalry ever succeeded better. They all took to their heels, greatly laughed at, even by the rest of their tribe; and the only casualty befell the shepherd's dog, which biting at the legs of a native running away, he turned round, and hit the dog so cleverly with his missile on the rump, that it was dangerously ill for months after; the native having again, with great dexterity, picked up his club. The whole of them then disappeared, shouting through the woods to their gins. It was remarkable that on seeing the horses, they exclaimed "Yerraman," the colonial natives' name for a horse, and that of these animals they were not at all afraid, whereas they seemed in much dread of the bullocks. That these natives were fully determined to attack the white strangers, seems to admit of no doubt, and the result is but another of the many instances that might be adduced, that an open fight, without treachery, would be contrary to their habits and disposition. That they did not, on any occasion, way-lay me or the doctor, when detached from the body of the party, may perhaps, with equal truth, be set down as a favourable trait in the character of the aborigines; for whenever they visited my camp, it was during my absence, when they knew I was absent, and of course must have known where I was to be found. The old man had very intelligibly pointed out to Brown the direction in which this river came, I. E. from the S. W., and I therefore abandoned the intention of exploring it upwards, and determined to examine how it joined, and what the character of the river might be, about and below that junction, in hopes I might still obtain an interview with the natives, and learn something of the country to the north-west. Thermometer, at sunrise, 59 deg.; at noon, 82 deg.; at 4 P.M., 81 deg.; at 9, 62 deg.;— with wet bulb, 59 deg..

11TH AUGUST.—Crossing this river at a favourable spot near our camp, we travelled on, eleven miles, and encamped early, on a fine reach of the main river. Here I had leisure to lay down my late ride on paper, and to connect it with the map; whereupon I concluded, with much regret, that this river must be either a tributary to, or identical with, that which M. Leichardt saw joining the Suttor in latitude 21 deg. 6' S., and which he supposed to come from the west. It had supplied me with water across three degrees of latitude, and had gradually altered its course from N.W. to about 30 deg. E. of N. In my ride I had traced it to 21 deg. 30' of latitude south, and no high land had appeared, as I expected, to the northward, at all likely to turn its course towards the west. I found the height of its bed, moreover, to be so little above the sea (not much more than 600 feet), that I could no longer doubt that the division between eastern and western waters was still to the westward; and I arrived at the following conclusions:—

1st. That the river of Carpentaria should have been sought for to the westward of all the sources of the river Salvator.

2nd. That the deepest indentation as yet discovered of the division of the waters, was at the sources of that river, and corresponded with the greatest elevation indicated by the barometer (about 2500 feet); and, 3dly. That there, I. E. under the parallel of 25 deg. S., the highest spinal range must extend westward, in a line of truncated cones, whereof Mount Faraday appeared to be one.

I accordingly determined to retrace our wheel-tracks back to the head of the Salvator, and to explore from thence the country to the north-west, as far as our stock of provisions and the season would permit. I had marked my camps by Roman letters cut deep in sound trees, and at this, I left the number LXIX. cut under the initials of the colony, N.S.W.; this being the number marked from the Culgoa. We had, at least, laid out a good carriage road from the colony to a river in M. Leichardt's route; which road, as far as we had marked it with our wheels, led through pastoral regions of much greater extent than all the colonists now occupied. At this farthest point traced by our wheels within the Tropics, the plants were still known to botanists, but with some interesting exceptions. We here found the CASSIA HETEROLOBA in flower; also the burr plant, CALOTIS CUNEIFOLIA of Brown; the PITTOSPORUM LANCEOLATUM of A. Cunningham, a shrub with yellow flowers and narrow willowy leaves; and the beautiful laurel-leaved GEIGERA LATIFOLIA was still conspicuous among the forest trees. But here also we found a very fine new species of STENOCHILUS[*], a new pine-leaved DODONOEA, allied to the D. PINIFOLIA of Swan River[**], and a most singular hard-leaved shrub, with spiny foliage resembling five pointed stars, proved to be a new species of LABICHEA.[***] Thermometer, at sunrise, 36 deg.; at noon, 71 deg.; at 4 P.M., 70 deg.; at 9, 35 deg.;—with wet bulb, 30 deg..

[* S. PUBIFLORUS (Benth. MS.) foliis lanceolato-linearibus elongatis integerrimis apice subuncinato novellis ramulisque tomentellis mox glabratis, calycis foliolis lanceolatis, corollae pubescentis inferne attenuatae laciniis oblatis infima breviter soluta.—This agrees pretty well with Brown's short diagnosis of S. LONGIFOLIUS, as well as with Cunningham's specimens so named; but those have no corolla, which Brown also had not seen, and his is a south coast plant. (Another new species with leaves like this, but very different flowers, was gathered by Sir T. Mitchell in his former expedition.)]

[** D. ACEROSA (Lindl. MS.); foliis tenuibus acerosis subfalcatis glandulosis, corymbis axillaribus paucifloris folio brevioribus, capsulis tetrapteris alis apice rotundatis.]

[*** L. DIGITATA (Benth. MS.) ramulis tomentellis, foliis subsessili bus, foliolis 3-5-digitatis lineari-oblongis spinoso-mucronatis coriaceis reticulatis terminali caeteris vix majore, antheris parum inaequalibus conformibus.]

12TH AUGUST.—I reluctantly ordered my men, (who believed themselves on the high-way to Carpentaria,) to turn the horses' heads homewards, merely saying that we were obliged to explore from a higher point. The track already marked out by our party advancing, was so much easier for the draught animals, as requiring less driving, that they arrived at an early hour again at the river they formerly crossed, and travelled with ease three and a half miles further back to a lagoon, on the banks of which the grass was good, and where we therefore now encamped. The track of the large feet of the natives showed they had followed us this morning, from our camp of yesterday; and a fragment of burning wood they had dropped, showed that they had this day met us in the scrub as we returned, and had gone out of our way. Even to the lagoon, their track along our route was also plainly visible. I was now, apparently to them, at their request, leaving the country; and we should soon see if their purpose in visiting our camp was an honest one, and whether their reasonable and fair demand, was really all they contemplated on that occasion. Thermometer, at sunrise, 37 deg.; at noon, 70 deg.; at 4 P.M., 71 deg.; at 9, 65 deg..

13TH AUGUST.—We continued back, along the old track, to beyond Camp LXVII. I then took the direction of the camp two stages back, in order to avoid the great detour formerly pursued; the camp without water, and the thick brigalow. All these we successfully avoided, passing over fine open forest land, and encountering no brigalow. We found the river on our left when we required it, and encamped on a plain near the water, and distant only a few miles from the camp two journies back from LXVII. I was guided by the bearing of 10 deg. E. of N. We found much of the grass on fire, and heard the natives' voices although we saw none. We crossed some patches of dry swamp where the clods had been very extensively turned up by the natives, but for what purpose Yuranigh could not form any conjecture. These clods were so very large and hard that we were obliged to throw them aside, and clear a way for the carts to pass. The whole resembled ground broken up by the hoe, the naked surface having been previously so cracked by drought as to render this upturning possible without a hoe. There might be about two acres in the patch we crossed, and we perceived at a distance, other portions of the ground in a similar state. The river had, where we made it, a deep wellmarked channel, with abundance of clear water in it, and firm accessible banks. It was still, however, enveloped in a narrow belt of brigalow. The shepherd having most imprudently taken the sheep to water when it was near sunset, lost his way in the scrub, and could not be found all night. Some thought he had fallen into the hands of the aborigines who were closely watching us; and it was obvious that had they got possession of our sheep, they could have annoyed us very seriously, or indeed, destroyed the whole party. The night was very dark, the sky having been overcast. Thermometer, at sunrise, 56 deg.; at noon, 61 deg.; at 4 P.M., 60; at 9, 60.

14TH AUGUST.—Drizzling rain this morning with an easterly wind, and high barometer, reminded me of the coast rains of Sydney. At dawn, I sent Yuranigh with one of the men, both being mounted, in search of the shepherd, and they returned with him and the sheep about 8 A. M. He had been found in full march to the eastward, where he never could have fallen in with the party. His track, circling in all directions, had soon been come upon by Yuranigh in the scrub. We then proceeded, and still found a way clear of brigalow, which, once or twice during the day, seemed almost to surround us. At about seven miles from where we had encamped, we crossed the first discovered tributary from the S. W., and at a mile further on, we fell in with our old track, travelled two miles more along it, and then encamped beside a fine reach of the river. The drizzling rain continued, and I hoped the ponds at the higher range, towards which we were returning, might be replenished by still heavier rain. An unpleasant smell prevailed every where this day, resembling that from a kitchen sewer or sink. Whether it arose from the earth, or from decayed vegetable matter upon it, I could not form any opinion; but it was certainly very different from the fragrance produced by a shower in other parts of New South Wales, even when it falls only on sunburnt grass. It was equally new and unaccountable to Yuranigh. Two proteads, probably GREVILLEAS, were found here.[*]

[* The one with singularly thick, firm, and rigid leaves, a foot long, linear attenuated at each extremity, pubescenti-sericeous, striated: the other with white acerose leaves pinnated in two pairs. Both were large forest trees, neither in flower nor in fruit.]

15TH AUGUST.—We continued to return along the old track until we arrived at Camp LXV., taking the direction of the river's general course, (7 deg. E. of S.). I travelled along its banks several miles, endeavouring to cut off a detour we had previously described. The river, however, obliged me to go so far to the westward, that I met with my former track, about midway between the two camps. We soon left that track, crossing a strip of brigalow and a rich grassy plain; beyond which, I found the river, and encamped about 3 P.M., when the rain again came on, the morning having been, until then, fair, although the sky was cloudy and overcast. Thermometer, at sunrise, 57 deg.; at noon, 64 deg.; at 4 P.M., 66 deg.; at 9, 60 deg.;— with wet bulb, 58 deg..

16TH AUGUST.—The sky still clouded, seemed to promise rain in the country to which we were returning. We came to the channel of the main river, after proceeding about three miles in the direction of a turn in our route beyond next camp. The channel here was broad, and occasionally filled with a good body of water. The bed was sandy, and in it grew a tree with thin loose white bark, resembling that of the mimosa or tea- tree of the colony; some of these trees were of large dimensions. There also grew, in the sandy bed of this river, a new white-flowered MELALEUCA, resembling M. ERICIFOLIA, but with long mucronate leaves[*]; and, in the scrubby bank the STENOCHILUS BIGNONIOEFLORUS formed a willow- like shrub fifteen feet high. We again came came upon our track where I intended to hit it, although we had been retarded by brigalow scrub. We thus left Camp LXIV. on the left, and finally again pitched our tents at that of LXIII. Thermometer, at sunrise, 58 deg.; at noon, 65; at 4 P.M., 63 deg.; at 9, 63 deg.;—with wet bulb, 57 deg..

[* M. TRICHOSTACHYA (Lindl. MS.); folsaepius oppositis linearibus planis utrinque acutissimis, spica terminali laxiuscula rachi pilosa, calyce glabro dentibus herbaceis, phalangibus polyandris ungue petalis breviore.]

17TH AUGUST.—The ground was covered in many parts with a lichen, the product of the late rain, and which had no root in, nor attachment to, the soil, but could be collected in handfuls, and lay quite loose in heaps, or rather in a thick layer. I could not comprehend the origin of this singular vegetable production, which might then have been gathered in any quantity. The day was cool, cloudy, and pleasant. Fine round clouds driving still from the eastward, with a high barometer (for this of Bunten stood seven millimetres higher, than it did when we had been formerly encamped on the same ground). On recrossing the great river from S. W., we found more of the pea with large pods, it seemed to grow only on the dry sand of the river bed. This was a most interesting river, and I could have wished much to have explored it upwards, had the state of my horses and provisions permitted. On its banks we had discovered various rare trees and plants seen by us nowhere else; and the pea just mentioned, which had, as Mr. Stephenson thought, valuable qualities as a laxative medicine. The bed of the river was broad and sandy; the banks were quite clear of brigalow or other scrubs, level, open, and in most parts covered with luxuriant anthistiria and wild indigo. We arrived in good time, the way being good, at Camp LXII., and there again established ourselves for the night. It was an excellent spot for the purpose, having plenty of water in rocky ponds, and abundance of grass, half green. The wind lulled, and heavy clouds of stratus appeared in the east, towards evening. Some stars were afterwards visible, and about 9 P. M., a wind from the S.E. suddenly arose, but no rain fell. Thermometer, at sunrise, 55 deg.; at noon, 71 deg.; at 4 P. M., 74 deg.; at 9, 68 deg.;—with wet bulb, 62 deg..

18TH AUGUST.—The mercurial column was lower this morning, and the sky was overcast. No wind could be felt from any quarter. We moved off, at our usual hour, 7 A. M. About nine, the western portion of the sky seemed loaded with rain; the wind suddenly arose from S. W., and a heavy rain began to fall steadily, to my great joy. The soil consisted of clay, which clogged the wheels, nevertheless, we arrived, without much delay, at a large lagoon, not much more than a mile short of Camp LXI., and there, of necessity, encamped. The rain continued without intermission until the evening, turning the surface around our tents into mud, almost knee deep. Still I rejoiced in the prospect the rain afforded, of water in the remaining part of our journey; the grand object of which was still to be accomplished, namely, the discovery of an interior river, flowing towards the Gulf of Carpentaria. Thermometer, at sunrise, 51 deg.; at noon, 54 deg.; at 4 P. M., 53 deg..

19TH AUGUST.—The soft clay was still impassable, but the sun shone brightly in the morning, and was likely soon to put a crust upon the earth. The wind continued, however, in the same quarter, the S. W., and I had thus a little leisure to mature my plan of farther exploration in that interesting country, to the westward of the vale of Salvator Rosa. I had ascertained that the whole of that fine country so named, and all the gullies falling towards it, were on the seaward side of the dividing range, if range there was. That, southward of the high ground under the parallel of 24 deg. or 25 deg., the fall of waters and of the whole country was towards the south; whereas, northward of that parallel, the fall was so decidedly in the very opposite direction, or northward, that the river we had just explored extended across three degrees of latitude, descending from a mean elevation of at least 2000 feet, to one of only 600 feet above the sea. No river of any importance came from the westward; those we had seen, coming from S. W. What then could be supposed, but that the water-shed on that side was not far distant? Nor was it less reasonable to expect to find beyond it, the heads of a river or rivers leading to the Gulf of Carpentaria. In that nook, where it seemed that the spinal range extended westward in the elongated direction of this great island, and there probably separated from whatever high land extended northward and formed a limit to the basin of the Belyando, was therefore, to be sought the solution of this important geographical question; one result of which would probably be, the discovery of a river falling towards the north-west, to enter the Gulf of Carpentaria. The exploration of the country to which we were returning was, therefore, of the most momentous interest; and although our cattle were tired, and our time and provisions almost exhausted (the sun being likely to approach the tropic line before we could return to it), I was determined to carry the exploration so far, with whatever means could be spared from the party, even had it been necessary to have travelled on foot, or to have lived, like a native, on opossums, in order to investigate that point. Thermometer, at sunrise, 45 deg.; at noon, 63 deg.; at 4 P. M., 63 deg.; at 9, 47 deg.;—with wet bulb, 44 deg..

20TH AUGUST.—Heavy clouds promised more rain, but a crust had been formed on the surface which enabled us to proceed. The day cleared up, and we encamped within two miles of Camp LX.; much of the ground passed over having been sandy and dry. We now found water in every hollow, a great blessing brought by the rain, and affording some prospect of relief from one great difficulty for some time to come. At 10 minutes past 10 P.M. a very extraordinary meteor alarmed the camp, and awoke every man in it. First, a rushing wind from the west shook the tents; next, a blaze of light from the same quarter drew attention to a whirling mass, or revolving ball of red light, passing to the southward. A low booming sound, accompanied it, until it seemed to reach the horizon, after which a sound like the report of a cannon was heard, and the concussion was such that some tin pots, standing reversed on a cart-wheel, fell to the ground, and the boat on the dray vibrated for some minutes. The sky was very clear. Fahrenheit's thermometer 46 deg..

21ST AUGUST.—Following our former route, the track led us through hollows, formerly clear of the fallen brigalow, but now rendered impassable by water, a new impediment. I was, however, most thankful for the glorious abundance of that element, the want of which had hitherto confined my route, and retarded the exploration of the country. We cheerfully sought round-about ways to avoid these new ponds. Our journey was accomplished very satisfactorily, having made two cuts to avoid the former camp (LX.), which formed an angle in the route, and much bad brigalow near Camp LIX., where we again encamped, for the sake of a piece of good grassy plain near it. The weather was most pleasant, temperate, and Englishlike, though we were still within the tropics. A sweet breeze blew from the S. W., and the degree of temperature was between 50 deg. and 60 deg. of Fahrenheit, the most agreeable, I believe, of any, to the human frame. There was abundance of water, and young grass was daily growing higher; many trees were also beginning to blossom. We were retiring, nevertheless, RE INFECTA, from these tropical regions, and I was impatient to arrive at the great range once more, to resume my explorations. At this camp, we found a plant, which was a wild carrot, tasting exactly like parsley. The men did not like to eat it, from the effects they had recently experienced from eating the large pea already mentioned—violent vomiting and purging; but I had no doubt whatever, that this carrot would have been found a good vegetable. The GEIJERA PARVIFLORA again attracted attention, by the strong pungent odour of its long narrow leaves; and we here observed the EREMOPHILA MITCHELLII, in the form of a shrub, from ten to twelve feet high. Its wood was remarkable from a perfume like roses.

22D AUGUST.—The morning was beautiful, our way plainly marked and sufficiently open, although it led wholly through a scrub for twelve miles. Flowers, the product of the late rain, were beginning to deck the earth, and water lodged in every hollow. We arrived early at Camp LVIII., and encamped 300 yards beyond it, to be nearer to a plain of good grass. Thermometer, at sunrise, 25 deg.; at noon, 69 deg.; at 4 P. M., 72 deg.; at 9, 43 deg.;— with wet bulb, 40 deg..

23D AUGUST.—The route back to the next camp went too far to the westward; and I therefore endeavoured to make a direct cut back to it. We thus encountered much scrub, and twice crossed the river. A bank, or berg, of water-worn pebbles, appeared on the west side of the river; and, to the eastward, a hill was visible amongst the trees. The river channel was full of water, and seemed to have been even running, with the late rain. The whole journey was through scrub; but this was chiefly of rosewood, which is not nearly so formidable an impediment as brigalow. We encamped on the river bank before we got so far as Camp LVII., at a spot where there was grass, the ground generally about that camp being very bare, although a fresh spring was observable, which would soon alter the case. At this camp I found, on a very low bush with a small leaf, splendid specimens of the fruit of a CAPPARIS, in a dry state, containing seeds. A crop of young fruit appeared also on the same bushes. This must be a very different species from the C. MITCHELII; the bush seldom exceeding the height and size of a gooseberry bush, although the fruit was larger than that of the tree CAPPARIS, and of a more uniform size and spherical shape. It seemed to grow only within the tropic. Thermometer, at sunrise, 28 deg.; at noon, 73 deg.; at 4 P. M., 75 deg.; at 9, 44 deg.;—with wet bulb, 41 deg..

24TH AUGUST.—The fine grassy plain had afforded better food for our horses and cattle, than they had seen for some time. Keeping along its eastern side, I continued to travel until I fell in with our former track; and in passing Camp LVII., I caused the letter T to be cut above the letters N.S.W., to distinguish it as our first camp within the line of Capricorn. I left the intertropical regions with feelings of regret; the weather had favoured our undertaking, and water had become abundant. The three last mornings had been frosty; the thermometer having stood on these mornings at 25 deg., 28 deg., and 29 deg., respectively. Many interesting trees and shrubs were just putting forth buds, of which we might never be able to gather the flower for the botanist. We travelled from Camp LVII., along our old track, to Camp LVI., in latitude 23 deg. 31' 36" S.; and there again set up our tents, having been exactly one month in the interior of tropical Australia. A pigeon this day arose from her nest in the grass near our route, and Yuranigh found in it two full fledged young ones. These being of that sort of pigeon preferable to all others for the table, GEOPHAPS SCRIPTA, we took this pair in hopes it might be possible to bring them up, and, perhaps, to obtain from them a domestic brood. This bird seemed to have the shortest beak of all the pigeon tribe, and flew more clumsily than others. It had three streaks of white about the head, assimilating it to the poultry class; and in building on the ground, it afforded another indication of its resemblance to our domestic birds. The flesh is very white, firm, yet tender. It is, perhaps, the most delicate of all birds. Thermometer, at sunrise, 29 deg.; at noon, 75 deg.; at 4 P.M., 76 deg.; at 9, 46 deg.;—with wet bulb, 42 deg..

25TH AUGUST.—The former route to this camp having been very crooked from following the course of the river amongst brigalow scrub, I set out on the bearing of the next camp, and reached it by travelling in a straight line, without much impediment, having found tolerably open ground. The blue summits of mountains appearing again above the trees, were welcome to our eyes; and Mounts Beaufort and Mudge reminded me of the Persian proverb, "The conversation of a friend brighteneth the eyes." We encamped a mile on, from Camp LV., for the sake of better grass than we had left formerly at that camp. The hills adjacent consisted of gravel; and amongst the large water-worn pebbles, of which it consisted, I found basalt and trachite, neither of which rocks had been detected by me amongst the gravel of the basin of the Darling. Thermometer, at sunrise, 48 deg.; at noon, 76 deg.; at 4 P.M., 77 deg.; at 9, 52 deg.;—with wet bulb, 47 deg..

26TH AUGUST.—After cutting off an angle in the old track, and so shortening the way about a mile, we pursued it back to Camp LIV.; which spot we again occupied for the night. The horses were leg-weary; but I could spare no time for rest, otherwise than by making the daily journies short, until we could return to the foot of the dividing ranges. One of the young pigeons was found nearly dead this morning; but Yuranigh, by chafing and warming it by the fire, soon recovered it. The thermometer had been as low as 38 deg.; but the birds had been kept in a box well covered with wool, and also by canvas. On the hill, southward of this camp, I found one tree, of the remarkable kind mentioned, as having been first seen by Mr. Stephenson, near Mount Mudge. Thermometer, at sunrise, 37 deg.; at noon, 80 deg.; at 4 P.M., 81 deg.; at 9, 44 deg.;—with wet bulb, 40 deg..

27TH AUGUST.—On reaching a difficult place for the passage of carts along the rocky margin of the river, we took a new direction, more to the right, crossing the clear hill, from which, on the 23d July, I had a view of the mountains to the eastward. Then descending, we came upon plains of firm clay, whereon grew some trees of ACACIA PENDULA. The rock in the hills seemed calcarious, and on a detached slab of ferruginous sandstone, I saw a more perfect specimen of ripple marks than I had ever seen elsewhere, except on the sea-beach.

I had now an opportunity of observing, in the hills forming a low range on my right, or to the westward, that their stratification dipped toward the east, at an angle of about 25 deg. with the horizon; on which side those slopes did not exceed that angle, whereas on the westward, they presented abrupt, precipitous sides, each terminating in two steep sides, forming an angle at the highest point. We encamped on a fine plain on the east side of that range, but westward of the river (beyond which lay our former route), and we found water in a lagoon a quarter of a mile eastward of our camp; also, in a mountain rivulet two miles south of the camp, coming from near Mount Beaufort, and some, very clear, was found in a rocky gully immediately westward of our camp. Still, the bed of the main channel was dry, and we had been obliged to seek for the water before it was found in these several directions. Thermometer, at sunrise, 41 deg.; at noon, 79; at 4 P.M., 82 deg.; at 9, 48 deg.;—with wet bulb 39 deg..

28TH AUGUST.—The cattle were well refreshed by the grass on the plain: a fresh growth was now apparent in it. We continued to travel due southward over the plain, and through a brigalow scrub beyond it, until we crossed, for the last time, the little river that had led us so far astray. Just beyond it, we joined our old track, at about five miles short of Camp LIII., to which we proceeded, and where we again encamped, although the pond we formerly found there had dried up. We afterwards found a good supply, at a lagoon about half a mile lower down; from which a little dog of mine (called Procyon), had come out wet, and so made it known to us. Thermometer, at sunrise, 40 deg.; at noon, 81 deg.; at 4 P.M., 76 deg.; at 9, 49 deg.;— with wet bulb, 41 deg..

29TH AUGUST.—Continuing along the old track, we this day quitted the basin of the Belyando, and ascended those grassy slopes, and that range, which I had formerly taken to be the water-shed of the coast rivers. We thus crossed to the basin of another eastern river, the Nog; and, in quitting that of the Belyando, I have to observe, that like most other Australian rivers, it maintained a peculiar character throughout its course, with great uniformity, even after it received tributaries apparently larger than itself. All these lapsed into the same concatenated line of ponds; at one place, spreading amidst brigalow scrub, at another, forming one well-defined deep channel. For the formation of ponds, and the retention of water, in so dry a climate, we see here something between the ordinary character of rivers, and artificial works which man must construct, when population may spread into these regions. The fallen timber of the brigalow decays very slowly, and is not liable to be burnt, like most other dead wood in open forests, because no grass grows amongst the brigalow, as in open forests. The accumulations of dead logs become clogged with river rack and the deposit of floods; to which floods these heaps present obstructions, forcing the waters into new channels, and, in their progress, scooping out new ponds, and completing the embankment of dead logs; which thus form natural dams and reservoirs to hold, under the shade of the brigalow trees, more water for a longer time than any single river channel could retain, however sluggish its course. Thus it was, that during a season of unusual drought, we had found abundance in this river's course, across nearly 31/2 degrees of latitude. The fallen brigalow presents awkward obstructions to wheel carriages; and, as the river spreads into broad plains, and is very favourable to the growth of brigalow, the difficulty of travelling along this river is greatest, where its waters are most scattered. Experience has taught us, in such cases, to endeavour to follow the river channel as closely as possible (the general course being very straight); and thus, open grassy spots and small plains are frequently met with, beyond which nothing could be distinguished, and from which it is safest to go forward in the known general course of the chain of ponds. We again encamped under Mount Mudge, where I perceived that a projecting portion of white rock on the summit, had fallen since I had stood upon it; and that the avalanche of rock had strewed the woody side of the mountain with white fragments down to the very base. In the sheltered ravine below, a curious new CASSIA formed a shrub six feet high.[*] Thermometer, at sunrise, 39 deg.; at noon, 70 deg.; at 4 P.M., 82 deg.; at 9, 56 deg.;—with wet bulb, 50 deg..

[* C. ZYGOPHYLLA (Benth. MS.) glabra vel pube tenuissima subcanescens, foliolis unijugis linearibus planis crassis, glandula inter foliola parva depressa, racemis petiolo brevioribus 2-4-floris.—Near C. NEMOPHILA Cunn.; but there appear never to be more than one pair of leaflets, the plant is smoother, the leaflets longer, and the glands different.]

30TH AUGUST.—The old track guided the party, while I preceded it to sketch one or two landscapes. A fine breeze blew from the northward, and goodly clouds seemed to promise rain. I completed my drawings before the arrival of the carts; and on their coming up I conducted them to a spot where we encamped, on the left bank of the creek, or opposite to camp LI., being resolved to seek a better and more direct way to the plains, than that down the bed of Balmy Creek, which we formerly found so difficult. As soon as I had chosen a spot for the tents, I took a ride, accompanied by Mr. Stephenson and Yuranigh, to explore the ravines eastward of that of Balmy Creek, and which led in a more direct line towards the plains of the Claude. We found the precipices in this direction much lower. After riding a few miles, we could ride up one of the points, and following the ridge we had ascended (which was thickly covered with brigalow), we at length got to an open forest, and once more saw the open plains before us. In returning, I selected, with Yuranigh's able assistance, a smaller valley, by which I hoped to succeed in conducting the carts next day, so as to avoid the ascent of the brigalow range. The barometer at this camp had fallen ten millimetres lower than the point at which the mercury stood formerly at the adjacent camp (marked LI.). By the side of the water-course, we found the ACACIA DORATOXYLON and also the ACACIA CONFERTA. The valley was gay with the ultramarine blue flowers of a new species of HOVEA[*]; and on rich soil we saw also the PODOLEPIS ACUMINATA? D. C. A shrub with long curved leaves and singular zigzag stems, was ascertained to be the ACACIA MACRADENIA, a very striking new species; and on Balmy Creek we found also a new BOSSIOEA, with deep red flowers.[**] Thermometer, at sunrise, 59 deg.; at noon, 83 deg.; at 4 P.M., 81 deg.; at 9, 62 deg.; with wet bulb, 54 deg..

[* H. LEIOARPA (Benth. MS.) fruticosa, foliis anguste oblongis sublanceolatisve integerrimis subtus reticulatis pubescentibus, venis primariis obliquis, pedicellis in pedunculo brevissimo axillari subgeminis calyce longioribus, calyce adpresse tomentoso, legumine glaberrimo.—Not unlike some forms of H. LANCEOLATA, but readily distinguished, besides the shorter leaves, by the smooth fruit and the veins of the leaves, which diverge from the midrib at a very acute instead of a right angle.]

[** B. CARINALIS (Benth. MS.) ramulis teretibus puberulis foliosis, foliis subsessilibus subcordato-ovatis acutiusculis puberulis, pedicello calyce paullo breviore, corollae alis vexillo longioribus carina multo brevioribus.—The same remarkable proportion of the petals may be seen in an unpublished species gathered by Fraser on the Brisbane river.]

31ST AUGUST.—Some heavy showers fell during the night, and in the morning the sky was wholly overcast. We crossed various formidable gullies, and travelled some way down the bed of Balmy Creek, then ascending by the valley through which I yesterday penetrated in my ride, we travelled southward in a tolerably direct line through the valley up to its highest heads, from one of which we contrived to draw up carts and drays along three traverses, formed by nature on the face of a rocky slope. Above this, we found a plateau of flowering shrubs, chiefly new and strange, so that Mr. Stephenson was soon loaded like a market gardener. He had found in the hollow of the little gulley by which we ascended a variety of ACACIA DECORA with leaves shorter that usual; the CASSIA ZYGOPHYLLA, a very curious new species; and the BERTYA OLEOEFOLIA, a shrub three feet high, with green flowers. On the top of the plateau grew a singular dwarf shrub, loaded with yellow flowers, and covered by strong sharp leaves resembling the curved blade of a penknife. It has been ascertained by Mr. Bentham to be an Acacia, referable to his ACACIA TRIPTERA. A little upright bush, with glandular leaves smelling strongly of thyme, proved to be a new PROSTANTHERA.[*] The beautiful ACACIA DECORA appeared as a shrub four feet high; the DODONOEA NOBILIS was just forming its fruit; the DODONOEA VESTITA was also there; the white flowered MYOPORUM CUNNINGHAMI with its viscid branches, formed a bush about four feet high: PITTOSPORUM LANCEOLATUM was a shrub about three feet high, with yellow flowers; and here we met in abundance with the beautiful TECOMA OXLEYI, a kind of Bignonia, loaded with yellowishwhite flowers.

[* P. ODORATISSIMA (Benth. MS.) viscoso-puberula foliis linearibus sublanceolatisve obtusissimis paucidentatis integrisve crassis ad axillas fasciculatis, floribus paucis axillaribus subsessilibus, calycis labiis integris inferiore minore, antherarum calcare longiore loculum superante.—Near P. ASPALATHOIDES: leaves two or three lines long, remarkably thick. Calyx strongly ribbed. The specimens found were past flower, having only a few fragments remaining of the corolla and stamens. The whole plant appears very viscid and retains when dry a very strong smell of thyme.]

There ended all our troubles with the sandstone gullies, for we soon entered open forests, and crossed a grassy valley gently sloping to the eastward, in whose bosom we found a fine deep rocky pond. Beyond that valley we arrived at open downs of the richest soil, and of an extent not to be embraced by the eye at any one point of view. The finest sorts of grass were fast springing up, and curious herbs were beginning to shoot from the rich alluvium in the vallies. We encamped on these downs, about ten miles from our former camp by the Claude, XLIX.

1ST SEPTEMBER.—The morning clear and frosty; Thermometer 25 deg.. All prospects of rain had vanished "into thin air." The scene now around us was as different as could well be imagined, from that which surrounded us at the same hour yesterday. As we proceeded, we crossed a hill quite clear of trees, which commanded a view over an extent of similar country, large enough for a county. The broken summits, just appearing above the placid horizon of undulating downs, had formerly looked like a range to us, and were certainly highly ornamental to the scenery; but no stranger could have supposed these features to have been only the highest parts of such a broken sandstone country as that from which we had just emerged. The plains, or rather, I should say, downs, for they were nowhere level but everywhere gently undulating, were first seen in white streaks high above us, when we first perceived them through the scrubs. These downs consisted of the richest sort of black mould, on which grew luxuriantly, ANTHISTIRIA and PANICUM LOEVINODE. But the surface in general was loose, resembling that of a field after it had lain long in fallow. Herbs in great variety were just emerging from the recently watered earth, and the splendid morning did ample justice to the vernal scene. The charm of a beginning seemed to pervade all nature, and the songs of many birds sounded like the orchestral music before the commencement of any theatrical performance. Such a morning, in such a place, was quite incompatible with the brow of care. Here was an almost boundless extent of the richest surface in a latitude corresponding to that of China, yet still uncultivated and unoccupied by man. A great reserve, provided by nature for the extension of his race, where economy, art, and industry might suffice to people it with a peaceful, happy, and contented population.

These plains are much higher than the sandstone ravines, and the soil contains not only pebbles, but angular fragments of the knots and fibres of wood in a silicified state, and much encrusted with chalcedony. The component parts of the sandstone in the gullies resemble those of a sea beach. These fragments of fossil wood in rich soils of plains or downs above formations of sandstone, are found in various parts of Australia, and I have seen fossil wood from similar plains in Tasmania. The fossil wood of such plains has no appearance of having been exposed to fire. The ACACIA PENDULA grows on the skirts of them, and indicates a salsolaceous soil. These circumstances are obvious to everybody, but no geologist has yet explained to us the causes of such changes as may have produced that rich black mould, on which trees, now silicified, formerly grew; or these wide plains and downs of rich earth, above a red sandstone formation. One has called the interior of Australia a "dry seabottom;" but this phrase admits of no easy application to such cases as these. Fragments of a ferruginous conglomerate of water-worn pebbles, apparently identical with those in the basin of the Darling, in some places accompany these angular fragments of fossil wood. We found this day a new ERIOSTEMON allied to E. BREVIFOLIUM, with small knobby fleshy leaves[*]; also a fine new shrubby EURYBIA.[**] Scattered plants of BOSSIOEA RHOMBIFOLIA also appeared in the adjacent gullies; and LORANTHUS SUBFALCATUS (Hook), was parasitical on trees. We encamped on the margin of the rich plain N. of Camp XLIX, and about a mile distant from it, our draught oxen being very weak and leg-weary. Thermometer, at sunrise, 25 deg.; at noon, 67 deg.; at 4 P.M., 73 deg.; at 9, 44 deg.;—with wet bulb, 40 deg..

[* E. RHOMBEUM (Lindl. MS.); ramulis pubescentibus, foliis carnosis obtuse rhombeis revolutis subtus glabris, pedicellis terminalibus unifloris tomentosis foliis brevioribus, staminibus pilosis.]

[* E. SUBSPICATA (Hook. MS.); foliis linearibus obtusis supra glabris subtus ramisque albo-tomentosis, corymbis terminalibus spiciformibus, involucri squamis lineari-oblongis albis apice viridipunctatis.]

2D SEPTEMBER.—We recrossed the perfectly level plain formerly mentioned. We found, on reaching the Claude, that our bridge, then made, had been much damaged by a flood. The little river was still running, and it was cheering to learn thus, that rain had fallen at its sources, beyond which, I had still much to do. We lost no time in repairing our bridge, so that all things were got across safely. We ascended the undulating downs along our old track, and where many curious specimens of trees in flint, lay mixed with the rich black mould. I observed that no entire sections of trunks were cylindrical, all appearing to have been compressed so as to present a diameter of two to one. Yuranigh brought me one specimen which he said was "pine;" (Callitris), which so far confirmed what has hitherto been observed of the coniferous character of Australian fossil woods; but, from the appearance of other specimens, I am not at all convinced that these fossils are all of that description. I left these beautiful regions with feelings of regret, that the direct route to the gulf, could not be carried through them. I was rather at a loss for names of reference to these parts. I had given the name of Claude to the river; and it occurred to me, that the scenery of the Mantuan bard, which this painter has so finely illustrated with pastoral subjects, deserved a congenial name; and that this country might, therefore, be distinguished by that of the Mantuan Downs and Plains. About half-way through our former stage, I found water in ponds which had been formerly dry; and there we encamped, our animals being almost exhausted. It is one redeeming quality of brigalow scrub, that water is to be found within its recesses, at times when all other channels or sources are dry; the soil in which it grows being stiff, retentive, and usually bare of vegetation. Thermometer at sunrise, 28 deg.; at noon, 73 deg.; at 4 P.M., 78 deg.; at 9, 47 deg.;—with wet bulb, 42 deg..

3D SEPTEMBER.—Another morning worthy of "Eden in her earliest hour." The thermometer 31 deg. at day-break, with a little dew. The notes of the magpie or GYMNORHINA, resounded through the shady brigalow, and the rich browns and reddish greens of that prolific bush contrasted with its dense grey shades, were very beautiful. We found the Nogoa much in the same state as when we left it. No flood had come down the channel of that river. The tracks of the feet of many natives were visible along the old route, and bushes had been burnt all along the line; but it is remarkable that in no case had they injured or defaced the letters and numerals marked on trees at the various camps, nor disturbed our temporary bridges. We cut our way through a scrub of brigalow, thus passing camps XLVIII., XLVII., and XLVI., encamping at a short distance from the latter of these places. Thermometer, at sunrise, 31 deg.; at noon, 74 deg.; at 4 P. M., 75 deg.; at 9, 52 deg.; with wet bulb, 40 deg..

4TH SEPTEMBER.—The surrounding grass, and also the reeds in the lake, had been very extensively burnt along our former tracks, and a green crop was springing to the great gratification and refreshment of our cattle. Formerly this splendid valley appeared to be uninhabited, but this day, proofs were not wanting that it was too charming a spot of earth to be left so. In proceeding over an open part of the plains bordering the river, we perceived a line of about twelve or fourteen natives before they had observed us. Through my glass, I saw they were painted red about the face, and that there were females amongst them. They halted on seeing us, but some soon began to run, while two very courageously and judiciously took up a position on each side of a reedy swamp, evidently with the intention of covering the retreat of the rest. The men who ran had taken on their backs the heavy loads of the gins, and it was rather curious to see long-bearded figures stooping under such loads. Such an instance of civility, I had never before witnessed in the Australian natives towards their females; for these men appeared to carry also some of the uncouth-shaped loads like mummies. The two acting as a rear guard behaved as if they thought we had not the faculty of sight as well as themselves, and evidently believed that by standing perfectly still, and stooping slowly to a level with the dry grass, when we passed nearest to them, they could deceive us into the idea that they were stumps of burnt trees. After we had passed, they were seen to enter the brigalow, and make ahead of us; by which movement I learnt that part of the tribe was still before us. Some time afterwards, we overtook that portion when crossing an open interval of the woods; they made for the scrub on seeing us. Meanwhile columns of smoke ascended in various directions before us, and two natives beyond the river, were seen to set up a great blaze there. To the westward of the beautifully broken rocky woody range beyond Lake Salvator, a dense smoke also arose, and continued until evening; thus adding much sublimity to the effect of a gorgeous sunset, which poured its beams through the smoke between the rocky pinnacles, as I sat drawing the scene at my camp by the lake, two miles northward of XLV. Thermometer, at sunrise, 26 deg.; at noon, 67 deg.; at 4 P.M., 65 deg.; at 9, 39 deg.;— with wet bulb, 32 deg..

5TH SEPTEMBER.—The cooler air reminded us that we had returned to a more elevated region than that on the Belyando. This morning heavy clouds of cumulostratus promised more rain, and gave a cool day for the last effort of the jaded animals, which the driver doubted could not be driven much farther. I cut off all the roundabouts and steep pulls, where this could be done, by laying logs across such gullies as we were obliged to cross. We thus saw more of the river and its romantic scenery, which well deserved the name of a painter. No natives, nor columns of smoke, were seen this day; and I concluded that they concentrated the tribe yesterday, and had departed this morning. We finally took up a very snug position near the pyramids, in the very gorge of the mountain valley by which we had approached this country; camp XLVI. being within sight, and the swamp with the spring, at the foot of this hill on which we now encamped, as a camp of occupation during my intended absence, on an excursion with horses only, to the north-west. The genial influence of spring had already induced many plants to show their colours, which had formerly been passed by us unnoticed. In the sandy soil, grew the purple- flowered CHLOANTHES STOECHADIS; THE ACACIA CUNNINGHAMII; the pink- flowered CRYPTANDRA PROPINQUA; and a species of CALYTRIX; these two forming small shrubs, the latter from four to six feet high. A very handsome new BORONIA, with large white and red downy flowers, here first appeared in the open forest.[*] The rocks were partly covered with a small white-flowered shrub, which proved to be a new species of LEPTOSPERMUM allied to L. PUBESCENS, but perfectly distinct.[**] At the foot of them, was found the AOTUS MOLLIS, a little hoary bush, with yellow black flowers; a santalaceous plant like CHORETRUM, forming a tree fifteen or twenty feet high: the CALLITRIS GLAUCA or CUPRESSUS GLAUCA of ALL. CUNN. (in Hook. Herb.). A small tree, about twenty-five feet high, proved to be a new species of Acacia, or possibly a variety of A. CUNNINGHAMII, but handsomer, with larger phyllodia, longer spikes of flowers, and everywhere clothed with a soft velvety pubescence.[***] Thermometer, at sunrise, 33 deg.; at noon, 68 deg.; at 4 P. M., 64 deg.; at 9, 40 deg.;— with wet bulb, 31 deg..

[* B. ERIANTHA (Lindl. MS.); foliis pinnatis cum impari 1-3-jugis, foliolis glaberrimis linearibus retusis emarginatisque laevibus, pedunculis solitariis unifloris axillaribus foliis brevioribus, sepalis triangularibus glabris, petalis tomentosis, staminibus 8.]

[** L. SERICATUM (Lindl. MS.); foliis obovatis linearibus planis obtusis aveniis impunctatis utrinque sericeis, calycibus tomentosis dentibus acutis persistentibus.]

[*** A. LONGISPICATA (Benth. MS.) pube brevi mollissima vestita, ramulis elevato-angulatis, phyllodiis amplis falcatis utrinque angustatis subcoriaceis tenuiter striato-multinervibus nervis 3-5 validioribus, spicis elongato-cylindricis densis, calyce dentato corolla 2-3-plo breviore, ovario villoso.]



Chapter VII.

PREPARATIONS FOR A RIDE TO THE NORTH-WEST.—DESPATCH LEFT WITH THE PARTY STATING WHAT HAD BEEN DONE.—ASCEND EAST SHOULDER OF MOUNT PLUTO.— PASSAGE TO THE WESTWARD.—NAME OF THE WARREGASCERTAINED.—THE RIVER NIVE.—ITS COURSE TURNS SOUTHWARD.—CROSS A LOW RANGE.—PLAINS OF THE VICTORIA DISCOVERED.—EXTENSIVE DOWNS TRAVERSED.—RIVER SPREADS INTO VARIOUS CHANNELS.—TRIBUTARIES JOIN IT FROM THE N. E. OR RIGHT BANK.—THE RIVER ALICE.—NATIVE CAMP.—A TRIBE SURPRISED WHILE BATHING.—LOWEST POINT OF THE RIVER REACHED.—RETURN BY THE LEFT BANK.—TRIBUTARIES FROM THE SOUTH.—GOWEN RANGE.—ENTER OUTWARD TRACK.—PROVISIONS EXHAUSTED.— ASCEND WEST SHOULDER OF MOUNT PLUTO.—RETURN TO THE CAMP AT THE PYRAMIDS.—NEW PLANTS COLLECTED THERE DURING MY ABSENCE.

6TH AND 7TH SEPTEMBER.—It being necessary to rest and refresh the horses for a few days before setting out with the freshest of them, all being leg-weary, I determined to halt here four clear days; and during these two, I completed my maps, and took a few rough sketches of scenery within a few miles of the camp. The whole of the grass had been assiduously burnt by the natives, and a young crop was coming up. This rendered the spot more eligible for our camp, both because the young grass was highly relished by the cattle, and because no dry grass remained to be set fire to, which, in the case of any hostility on the part of the natives, is usually the first thing they do. Thermometer, at sunrise, 33 deg.; at noon, 68 deg.; at 4 P.M., 64 deg.; at 9, 40 deg.;—with wet bulb, 31 deg..

8TH AND 9TH SEPTEMBER.—I employed my time these two days in writing a despatch to the governor of New South Wales, giving a detailed account of my proceedings and discoveries down to the present time; that in the event of any misfortune befalling me or the very small party now to accompany me, this despatch should be forthcoming, as I intended to leave it at this depot camp. On the 8th, heavy clouds gathered over us, and a fine heavy shower fell, a circumstance most auspicious for our intended ride; but it was of brief duration; and, although the sky continued overcast even until the evening of the 9th, no rain fell, in sufficient quantity to fill the water-courses. It was, however, enough to produce dew for some mornings to come. Thermometer, at sunrise of the 8th, 53 deg.; at noon, 55 deg.; at 4 P. M., 57 deg.; at 9, 50 deg.;—with wet bulb, 46 deg.; and at sunrise of the 9th, 39 deg.; at noon, 77 deg.; at 4 P.M., 70 deg.; at 9, 52 deg.;—with wet bulb, 45 deg..

10TH SEPTEMBER.—I set out on a fine clear morning, with two men and Yuranigh mounted, and leading two pack-horses carrying my sextant, false horizon, and a month's provisions. Returning, still up the valley, along our old track to Camp XLIII., I there struck off to the S.W., following up a similar valley, which came down from that side. This valley led very straight towards Mount Pluto, the nearest of the three volcanic cones, which I had already intersected from various points. The other two I had named Mount Hutton and Mount Playfair. These three hills formed an obtuse-angled triangle, whereof the longest side was to the north-west, and, therefore, I expected that there the elevated land might be found to form an angle somewhat corresponding with the directions of the two shorter sides; in which case, it was probable that, to the westward of such an angle in the range, I might find what had been so long the object of these researches, viz., a river flowing to the Gulf of Carpentaria. We reached Mount Pluto, at the distance given by my former observations as far as could be ascertained by the mode of measurement I employed then; which was by counting my horse's paces. On ascending the mountain on foot, I found a deep chasm still between me and the western summit, which was not only the highest, but the only part clear of bushes. A thick and very thorny scrub had already so impeded my ascent, that the best portion of the afternoon was gone, before I could return to the horses; and I resolved, therefore, to continue my ride, and to defer the ascent and observation of angles from the summit, until my return from the unknown western country, which we were about to explore; the search for water that night being an object of too much importance to be longer deferred. We, accordingly, passed on by the southward and westward of the mountain, following a watercourse, which led first N. W., then north, and next E. of N.; to where it at length joined one from the west, up which I turned, and continued the search for water until darkness obliged us to halt. During that search for water, my horse fell with me into a deep hole, so concealed and covered with long grass, that we both wholly disappeared from those following; and yet, strange to say, without either of us being in the least hurt. We encamped where there was, at least, good grass; but—no water.

11TH SEPTEMBER.—Within 400 yards of the spot where we had slept, we found a small pond. The water was of that rich brown tint so well known to those with whom water is most precious, and to whom, after long custom, clear water seems, like some wines, to want body. Here we had breakfast, and we took also a bagful of water[*] with us. This timely supply relieved me from the necessity for following up the windings of some water-course; and I could proceed in a straight direction, westward. We passed, at first, through rather thick scrub, until, at length, I perceived a sharp pic before me, which I ascended. It consisted of trap rock, as did also the range to which it belonged, being rather a lateral feature thereof. Mount Hutton, Mount Pluto, and Mount Playfair, were all visible from it, as were also Mounts Owen and Faraday. The connections extended westward; for to the W.N.W. the broken cliffs at the head of the Salvator and the Claude, were not very distant, and these I was careful to avoid. A range immediately westward of this cone, was higher than it, and extended from Mount Playfair. To cross that range at its lowest part, which bore 26 deg. W. of S., was our next object. We found the range covered with brigalow and other still more impervious scrubs. On the crest, the rock consisted of clay ironstone. The centigrade thermometer stood, at noon, at 30 deg. 5' equal to 87 deg., of Fahrenheit; the height above the sea we made 2032 feet. Beyond this crest, we encountered a scrub of matted vines, which hung down like ropes, and pulled some of us off our horses, when it happened that any of these ropes were not observed in time in riding through the thicket. A very dense forest of young Callitris trees next impeded us, and were more formidable than even the vines. The day was passed in forcing our way through these various scrubs, the ground declining by a gentle slope only. We next found firmer soil underfoot, that where the Callitris scrub grew having been sandy, and we saw at length, with a feeling of relief, that only brigalow scrub was before us; we ascended gravelly hills, came upon a dry water-course, and then on a chain of ponds. Near one of these ponds, sate an old woman, beside a fire, of course, although the weather was very warm; and a large net, used for taking emus, hung on a brigalow bush close by. The men were absent, looking for food, as we partly conjectured, for little could Yuranigh make out of what she said, besides the names of some rivers, to which I could point with the hand. I was surprised to find that here, the name for water was "Narran," the name for it in the district of the Balonne being "Nadyeen," whereas the word for water amongst the tribes of the Darling is Kalli. That the "Narran" river and swamp are named from this language of tribes now dwelling much further northward, seems obvious; and, as the natives on the Darling know little of the "Narran" or its swamp, it may be inferred that there the migration of native tribes has been progressive from south to north; the highest known land in Australia being also to the southward of the Darling. The chain of ponds, according to the old woman, was named "Cunno," and ran into the "Warreg" which, as she pointed, was evidently the name of the river we had formerly traced downwards from near Mount P. P. King. I left the "Cunno," and plunged into the brigalow to the northward, thus crossing a slightly elevated range, where we found a little water-course falling N.N.W. By following this downwards, we found water in it, as twilight grew obscure, and gladly halted beside it for the night, in latitude 25 deg. S.

[* A thick flour-bag covered outside with melted mutton-fat.]

12TH SEPTEMBER.—At 7 A.M. the thermometer was 59 deg.; our height then above the sea has been ascertained to have been 1787 feet. Continuing to follow down the brigalow creek, we found that it joined a chain of ponds running N.E., and these we traced in the contrary direction, or upwards, as far as seemed desirable. We struck off from that water-course, first to the N.W., then to the W., arriving soon at a steep low ridge of clay ironstone, which was covered thick with brigalow. We crossed that low ridge, and, at a distance of about a mile and a half beyond, met another acclivity still more abrupt and stony. This we also ascended, and found upon it a "malga" scrub: the "malga" being a tree having hard spiky dry branches, which project like fixed bayonets, to receive the charge of ourselves, horses, and flour-bags; but all which formidable array we nevertheless successfully broke through, and arrived at the head of a rocky gully, falling N.W. Down this, however, we attempted in vain to pass, and in backing out we again faced the "malga," until, seeing a flat on the right, I entered it, and there fell in with the water-course again. It led us many miles, generally in a N.W. direction, and contained some fine ponds, and entered, at length, a little river, whose banks were thickly set with large yarra trees. The general course of this river was W.N.W., until it was joined by one coming from the N., and at the junction there was a deep broad pond of clear water. At this we watered our horses, and passed on to encamp under some rocky hills, three quarters of a mile to the N.N.W. of that junction, in latitude 24 deg. 52' 50" S. The temperature at noon this day, on the highest part of the ridge we crossed, was 84 deg.; the height there above the sea, 1954 feet; and at 3 P.M., in channel of water-course, the thermometer stood at 89 deg.; the height there above the sea being 1778 feet.

13TH SEPTEMBER.—At 7 A.M. the thermometer stood at 38 deg.; the height above the sea was found to be 1659 feet. I verily believed that THIS river would run to Carpentaria, and I called it the Nive, at least as a conventional name until the native name could be ascertained, in commemoration of Lord Wellington's action on the river of that name; and, to the tributary from the north, I gave the name of Nivelle. Pursuing the united channel downwards, we traversed fine open grassy plains. The air was fragrant from the many flowers then springing up, especially where the natives had burnt the grass. Among them were MORGANIA GLABRA; EREMOPHILA MITCHELLII; a singular little POLYGONUM with the aspect of a TILLOEA; two very distinct little FRANKENIAS[*], and a new scabrous HALORAGIS with pinnatifid leaves.[**] The extensive burning by the natives, a work of considerable labour, and performed in dry warm weather, left tracts in the open forest, which had become green as an emerald with the young crop of grass. These plains were thickly imprinted with the feet of kangaroos, and the work is undertaken by the natives to attract these animals to such places. How natural must be the aversion of the natives to the intrusion of another race of men with cattle: people who recognise no right in the aborigines to either the grass they have thus worked from infancy, nor to the kangaroos they have hunted with their fathers. No, nor yet to the emus they kill FOR their fathers ONLY; these birds being reserved, or held sacred, for the sole use of the old men and women!

[* F. SCABRA (Lindl. MS.); undique scabro-tomentosa, foliis linearibus margine revolutis non ciliatis, floribus solitariis pentameris, calycibus patentim pilosis. F. SERPYLLIFOLIA (Lindl. MS.); tomentosa hispida, foliis oblongis planis longe ciliatis, floribus solitariis subcapitatis pentameris, calycibus patentim hispidis.]

[** H. ASPERA (Lindl. MS.) caule angulato foliis fructuque scabris, foliis alternis oppositisque linearibus acutis apice pinnatifidis, floribus distanter spicatis monoicis pendulis, stigmatibus plumosis, fructu subgloboso.]

The river pursued a course to the southward of west for nine miles, but it turned afterwards southward, eastward, and even to the northward of E. After tracing it thus twenty-two miles, without seeing any water in its bed (which was broad, but every where choked with sand), we were obliged to encamp, and endure this privation after a very warm and laborious day. Where the natives obtained water themselves, quite puzzled Yuranigh, for we passed by spacious encampments of theirs, and tracts they had set fire to, where trees still lay smoking.

14TH SEPTEMBER.—The temperature at 7 this morning was 72 deg. of Fahrenheit; the height above the sea, of the river bed, as subsequently determined by Captain King, 1470 feet. With the earliest light, I had laid down my survey of this river, by which the course appeared to have turned towards the S.E. This not being what was desired, I took a direct northerly course through the scrub, towards a hill on the left bank, whence I had seen, on our way down, a rocky gap to the N.W. in a brigalow range. After a ride of eight miles, by which we cut off the grand curve in the river's course, we arrived at this hill. I hoped to have found water near the spot, in a sharp turn in the river which I had not examined, and near which, on the day before, I had seen two emus, under a bank covered with brigalow scrub. Nor was I disappointed, for after finding traces of a recent current into the river-bed at that point, I discovered, at less than a hundred yards up, a fine pond of precious OPAL—I mean not crystal, but that fine bluey liquid which I found always so cool and refreshing when it lay on clay in the shady recesses of brigalow scrubs, a beverage much more grateful to our taste than the common "crystal spring." Here, then, we watered our impatient horses, and enjoyed a wash and breakfast—the men (two old soldiers) being D'ACCORD in one sentiment of gratitude to a bountiful Providence for this water. Like "a giant refreshed with wine," we next set out for the gap to the north-west, and passed through an open brigalow scrub, ascending very gradually, during a ride of three miles, to where I at length could discover that the fall was in the other direction. At this point, I observed the barometer, which indicated our height above the sea to be 1812 feet. Fahrenheit's thermometer stood then (5 P.M.) at 86 deg.. The dry channel of a water-course had afforded us an opening through the scrub, and had also guided us to the highest part of the ground. The fresh prints of the feet of three men in the smooth bare sand, told us that the same natives whose track Yuranigh had seen in the river we traced yesterday, were now going in the same direction as ourselves, and just before us; for the smell of their burning fire-sticks, and even small portions of burning embers which had dropped, made this evident. The higher ground was flat, and on it the rosewood acacia grew amongst the brigalow. The rocky gap (in a ridge) was still distant at least three miles; the sun nearly set, and not a blade of grass visible amongst the brigalow bushes. But what was all this to the romantic uncertainty as to what lay beyond! With eager steps we followed a slight channel downwards; found that it descended more rapidly than the one by which we had ascended; that it also increased, and we were guided by it into a little valley, verdant with young grass, while yet the red sky over a departed sun shone reflected from several broad ponds of water. This seemed to us a charming spot, so opportunely and unexpectedly found, and we alighted on a fine grassy flat by the margin of a small lagoon, where stood a most graceful group of bushes for shelter or shade. After sunset, the sky was overcast with very heavy clouds; the air was sultry, and we expected rain.

15TH SEPTEMBER.—As soon as daylight appeared I hastened towards the gap, and ascended a naked rock on the west side of it. I there beheld downs and plains extending westward beyond the reach of vision, bounded on the S. W. by woods and low ranges, and on the N. E. by higher ranges; the whole of these open downs declining to the N. W., in which direction a line of trees marked the course of a river traceable to the remotest verge of the horizon. There I found then, at last, the realization of my long cherished hopes, an interior river falling to the N. W. in the heart of an open country extending also in that direction. Ulloa's delight at the first view of the Pacific could not have surpassed mine on this occasion, nor could the fervour with which he was impressed at the moment have exceeded my sense of gratitude, for being allowed to make such a discovery. From that rock, the scene was so extensive as to leave no room for doubt as to the course of the river, which, thus and there revealed to me alone, seemed like a reward direct from Heaven for perseverance, and as a compensation for the many sacrifices I had made, in order to solve the question as to the interior rivers of Tropical Australia. To an European, the prospect of an open country has a double charm in regions for the most part covered with primaeval forests, calling up pleasing reminiscences of the past, brighter prospects for the future—inspiring a sense of freedom, especially when viewed from the back of a good horse:—

"A steed! a steed! of matchless speede, A sword of metal keene—All else to noble minds is drosse, All else on earth is meane!" —OLD SONG.

I hastened back to my little party (distant a mile and a half from the gap), and immediately made them mount to follow me down the watercourse, which, as I had seen from the rock, would lead us into the open country. The little chain of ponds led westward, until the boundless downs appeared through the woods; a scene most refreshing to us, on emerging from so many thick scrubs. Our little river, after crossing much open plain, fell into another coming from E.S.E., and columns of smoke far in the N.W. showed that there was water, by showing there were inhabitants. The grass on these downs was of the richest sort, chiefly PANICUM LOEVINODE, and I was not sorry to recognise amongst it, SALSOLOE, and the ACACIA PENDULA, amongst the shrubs. As we followed the river downwards, the open downs appeared on the W.N.W. horizon as if interminable. This river, unlike that I had called the Nive, had no sand in its bed, which consisted of firm clay, and contained deep hollows, and the beds of long reaches, then, however, all dry, while abundance of large UNIO shells lay upon the banks, and proved that the drought was not of common occurrence. The general course of the river I found to be about W.N.W. true. We continued to follow it through its windings all day, which I certainly should not have done, but for the sake of water, as our progress downwards was thus much retarded. Towards evening, Corporal Graham discovered water in a small tributary coming from the S.E., while Yuranigh found some also in the main channel, where that tributary fell into it. We encamped on Graham's ponds, as this was called, and turned our horses loose on the wide plain, up to the knees in grass half dry, half green, that they might be the more fit "for the field to-morrow." The sky had been lowering all day, and the heat was intense; but during the night, the air was delicious for sleeping in, under heaven's canopy and protection.

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