PRODUCTION NOTES: —Italics in the book have been changed to to upper case in this eBook. —Footnotes have been placed in brackets  within the text. —A number of tables have been omitted or rendered incomplete. These are indicated in the eBook at the point at which they occurred in the book. —Plates and maps in the book have not been reproduced. A list of plates forms part of the Table of Contents. There were 2 maps included in the book. These indicated the extent of Eyre's journeys.
JOURNALS OF EXPEDITIONS OF DISCOVERY INTO CENTRAL AUSTRALIA AND OVERLAND FROM ADELAIDE TO KING GEORGE'S SOUND IN THE YEARS 1840-1: SENT BY THE COLONISTS OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA, WITH THE SANCTION AND SUPPORT OF THE GOVERNMENT: INCLUDING AN ACCOUNT OF THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE ABORIGINES AND THE STATE OF THEIR RELATIONS WITH EUROPEANS.
by EYRE, EDWARD JOHN (1815-1901)
TO LIEUT.-COLONEL GEORGE GAWLER, K.H. M.R.G.S. UNDER WHOSE AUSPICES, AS GOVERNOR OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA, THE EXPEDITIONS, DESCRIBED IN THE FOLLOWING PAGES, WERE UNDERTAKEN, THESE VOLUMES ARE RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED, AS A TRIBUTE OF GRATITUDE FOR HIS KINDNESS AND RESPECT FOR HIS VIRTUES, BY THE AUTHOR.
In offering to the public an account of Expeditions of Discovery in Australia, undertaken in the years 1840-1, and completed in July of the latter year, some apology may be deemed necessary for this narrative not having sooner appeared, or perhaps even for its being now published at all.
With respect to the first, the author would remark that soon after his return to South Australia upon the close of the Expeditions, and when contemplating an immediate return to England, he was invited by the Governor of the Colony to remain, and undertake the task of re-establishing peace and amicable relations with the numerous native tribes of the Murray River, and its neighbourhood, whose daring and successful outrages in 1841, had caused very great losses to, and created serious apprehensions among the Colonists.
Hoping that his personal knowledge of and extensive practical experience among the Aborigines might prove serviceable in an employment of this nature, the author consented to undertake it; and from the close of September 1841, until December 1844, was unremittingly occupied with the duties it entailed. It was consequently not in his power to attend to the publication of his travels earlier, nor indeed can he regret a delay, which by the facilities it afforded him of acquiring a more intimate knowledge of the character and habits of the Aborigines, has enabled him to render that portion of his work which relates to them more comprehensive and satisfactory than it otherwise would have been.
With respect to the second point, or the reasons which have led to this work being published at all, the author would observe that he has been led to engage in it rather from a sense of duty, and at the instance of many of his friends, than from any wish of his own. The greater portion of the country he explored was of so sterile and worthless a description, and the circumstances which an attempt to cross such a desert region led to, were of so distressing a character, that he would not willingly have revived associations, so unsatisfactory and so painful.
It has been his fate, however, to cross, during the course of his explorations, a far greater extent of country than any Australian traveller had ever done previously, and as a very large portion of this had never before been trodden by the foot of civilized man, and from its nature is never likely to be so invaded again, it became a duty to record the knowledge which was thus obtained, for the information of future travellers and as a guide to the scientific world in their inquiries into the character and formation of so singular and interesting a country.
To enable the reader to judge of the author's capabilities for the task he undertook, and of the degree of confidence that may be due to his impressions or opinions, it may not be out of place to state, that the Expeditions of 1840—1 were not entered upon without a sufficient previous and practical experience in exploring.
For eight years the author had been resident in Australia, during which he had visited many of the located parts of New South Wales, Port Phillip, South Australia, Western Australia, and Van Diemen's Land. In the years 1836, 1837, 1838, 1839, and 1840 he had conducted expeditions across from Liverpool Plains in New South Wales to the county of Murray, from Sydney to Port Phillip, from Port Phillip to Adelaide, and from King George's Sound to Swan River, besides undertaking several explorations towards the interior, both from Port Lincoln and from Adelaide.
To the knowledge and experience which were thus acquired, the author must ascribe the confidence and good opinion of his fellow-colonists, which led them in 1840 to place under his command an undertaking of such importance, interest, and responsibility; and to these advantages he feels that he is in a great measure indebted, under God's blessing, for having been enabled successfully to struggle through the difficulties and dangers which beset him, in crossing from Adelaide to King George's Sound.
With this explanation for obtruding upon the public, the author would also solicit their indulgence, for the manner in which the task has been performed. The only merit to which he can lay claim, is that of having faithfully described what he saw, and the impressions which were produced upon him at the time. In other respects it is feared that a work, which was entirely (and consequently very hastily) prepared for the press from the original notes, whilst voyaging from Australia to England, must necessarily be crude and imperfect. Where the principal object, however, was rather to record with accuracy than indulge in theory or conjecture, and where a simple statement of occurrences has been more attended to than the language in which they are narrated, plainness and fidelity will, it is hoped, be considered as some compensation for the absence of the embellishments of a more finished style, or a studied composition, and especially as the uncertainty attending the duration of the author's visit to England made it a matter of anxious consideration to hurry these volumes through the press as rapidly as possible. There is one circumstance to which he wishes particularly to allude, as accounting for the very scanty notices he is now able to give of the geology or botany of the country through which he travelled; it is the loss of all the specimens that were collected during the earlier part of the Expedition, which occurred after they had been sent to Adelaide; this loss has been irreparable, and has not only prevented him from ascertaining points about which he was dubious, but has entirely precluded him from having the subjects considered, or the specimens classified and arranged by gentlemen of scientific acquirements in those departments of knowledge, in which the author is conscious he is himself defective. In the latter part of the Expedition, or from Fowler's Bay to King George's Sound, the dreadful nature of the country, and the difficulties and disasters to which this led, made it quite impossible either to make collections of any kind, or to examine the country beyond the immediate line of route; still it is hoped that the passing notices which are made in the journal, and the knowledge of the similarity of appearance and uniform character, prevalent throughout the greater portion of the country passed through, will be quite sufficient to give a general and correct impression of the whole.
To Mr. Gray of the British Museum, the author is particularly indebted for his valuable contribution on the Natural History of the Southern coast of Australia, and to Mr. Gould, the celebrated Ornithologist, his thanks are equally due, for a classified and most interesting list of the birds belonging to the same portion of the continent.
To Mr. Adam White, of the British Museum, he is also indebted for an account of some new insects, and to Dr. Richardson, for a scientific and classified arrangement of fish caught on the Southern coast, near King George's Sound. The plates to which the numbers refer in the last-mentioned paper, are the admirable drawings made from life, by J. Neill, Esq. of King George's Sound, and now lodged at the British Museum. They are, however, both too numerous and too large to give in a work of this description, and will probably be published at some future time by their talented author.
For the account given of the Aborigines the author deems it unnecessary to offer any apology; a long experience among them, and an intimate knowledge of their character, habits, and position with regard to Europeans, have induced in him a deep interest on behalf of a people, who are fast fading away before the progress of a civilization, which ought only to have added to their improvement and prosperity. Gladly would the author wish to see attention awakened on their behalf, and an effort at least made to stay the torrent which is overwhelming them.
It is most lamentable to think that the progress and prosperity of one race should conduce to the downfal and decay of another; it is still more so to observe the apathy and indifference with which this result is contemplated by mankind in general, and which either leads to no investigation being made as to the cause of this desolating influence, or if it is, terminates, to use the language of the Count Strzelecki, "in the inquiry, like an inquest of the one race upon the corpse of the other, ending for the most part with the verdict of 'died by the visitation of God.'"
In his attempt to delineate the actual circumstances and position of the natives, and the just claims they have upon public sympathy and benevolence, he has been necessitated to refer largely to the testimony of others, but in doing this he has endeavoured as far as practicable, to support the views he has taken by the writings or opinions of those who are, or who have been resident in the Colonies, and who might therefore be supposed from a practical acquaintance with the subject, to be most competent to arrive at just conclusions.
In suggesting the only remedy which appears at all calculated to mitigate the evil complained of, it has studiously been kept in view that there are the interests of two classes to be provided for, those of the Settlers, and those of the Aborigines, it is thought that these interests cannot with advantage be separated, and it is hoped that it may be found practicable to blend them together.
The Aborigines of New Holland are not on the whole a numerous people; they are generally of a very inoffensive and tractable character, and it is believed that they may, under ordinary circumstances, almost always be rendered peaceable and well-disposed by kind and consistent treatment. Should this, in reality, prove to be the case, it may be found perhaps, that they could be more easily managed, and in the long run at a less expense, by some such system as is recommended, than by any other requiring means of a more retaliatory or coercive character. The system proposed is at least one which by removing in a great measure temptation from the native, and thereby affording comparative security to the settlers, will have a powerful effect in inducing the latter to unite with the Government in any efforts made to ameliorate the condition of the Aborigines; a union which under present or past systems has not ever taken place, but one which it is very essential should be effected, if any permanent good is hoped for.
To Mr. Moorhouse the author returns his best thanks for his valuable notes on the Aborigines, to which he is indebted for the opportunity of giving an account of many of the customs and habits of the Adelaide tribes.
To Anthony Forster, Esq. he offers his warmest acknowledgments for his assistance in overlooking the manuscripts during the voyage from Australia, and correcting many errors which necessarily resulted from the hurried manner in which they were prepared; it is to this kind supervision must be ascribed the merit—negative though it may be—of there not being more errors than there are.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.
ORIGIN OF THE EXPEDITION—CONTEMPLATED EXPLORATION TO THE WESTWARD—MEETING OF THE COLONISTS, AND SUBSCRIPTIONS ENTERED INTO FOR THAT PURPOSE—NOTES ON THE UNFAVOURABLE NATURE OF THE COUNTRY TO THE WESTWARD, AND PROPOSAL THAT THE NORTHERN INTERIOR SHOULD BE EXAMINED INSTEAD—MAKE AN OFFER TO THE GOVERNOR TO CONDUCT SUCH AN EXPEDITION—CAPTAIN STURT'S LECTURE—INTERVIEW WITH THE GOVERNOR—ARRANGEMENT OF PLANS—PREPARATION OF OUTFIT—COST OF EXPEDITION—NAME A DAY FOR DEPARTURE—PUBLIC BREAKFAST AND COMMENCEMENT OF THE UNDERTAKING
FIRST NIGHT'S ENCAMPMENT WITH PARTY—REFLECTIONS—ARRIVAL AT SHEEP STATION—RE-ARRANGEMENTS OF LOADS—METHOD OF CARRYING FIRE-ARMS—COMPLETE THE NUMBER OF THE PARTY—THEIR NAMES—MOVE ONWARDS—VALLEY OF THE LIGHT—EXTENSIVE PLAINS—HEAD OF THE GILBERT—SCARCITY OF FIREWOOD—GRASSY WELL-WATERED DISTRICTS—THE HILL AND HUTT RIVERS—INDICATION OF CHANGE GOING ON IN APPEARANCE AND CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY, TRACEABLE IN THE REMAINS OF TIMBER IN THE PLAINS AND IN THE OPENINGS AMONG SCRUBS—THE BROUGHTON—REEDY WATERCOURSE—CAMPBELL'S RANGE—COURSE OF THE BROUGHTON
CHAPTER III. SPRING HILL—AN AGED NATIVE DESERTED BY HIS TRIBE—RICH AND EXTENSIVE PLAINS—SURPRISE A PARTY OF NATIVES—ROCKY RIVER—CRYSTAL BROOK—FLINDERS RANGE—THE DEEP SPRING—MYALL PONDS—ROCKY WATER HOLES—DRY WATERCOURSE—REACH THE DEPOT NEAR MOUNT ARDEN—PREPARE FOR LEAVING THE PARTY—BLACK SWANS PASS TO THE NORTH—ARRIVAL OF THE WATERWITCH
CHAPTER IV. MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR GETTING UP STORES FROM THE WATERWITCH—LEAVE THE PARTY—SALT WATERCOURSE—MOUNT EYRE—ASPECT OF THE COUNTRY—LAKE TORRENS—RETURN TOWARDS THE HILLS—NATIVE FEMALE—SALINE CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY—MOUNT DECEPTION—REACH THE EASTERN HILLS—LARGE WATERCOURSES—WATER HOLE IN A ROCK—GRASSY BUT HILLY COUNTRY—RUNNING STREAM—ASCEND A RANGE—RETURN HOMEWARDS—DECAY OF TREES IN THE WATERCOURSES—SHOOT A KANGAROO—ARRIVE AT THE DEPOT—BURY STORES—MAKE PREPARATIOUS FOR LEAVING—SEUD DESPATCHES TO THE VESSEL
CHAPTER V. BREAK UP THE ENCAMPMENT—ARRIVE AT DEPOT POOL—GEOLOGICAL CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY—BAROMETERS OUT OF ORDER—ADVANCE TO RECONNOITRE—ASCEND TERMINATION HILL—SURPRISE NATIVE WOMEN—THEY ABANDON THEIR CHILDREN—INEFFECTUAL SEARCH FOR WATER—RETURN TOWARDS MOUNT DECEPTION—BROKEN CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY—FIND WATER—THE SCOTT—REJOIN THE PARTY—WATER ALL USED AT THE DEPOT—EMBARRASSING CIRCUMSTANCES—REMOVE TO THE SCOTT—RECONNOITRE IN ADVANCE—BARREN COUNTRY—TABLE-TOPPED ELEVATIONS—INDICATIONS OF THE VIOLENT ACTION OF WATER—MEET NATIVES—REACH LAKE TORRENS—THE WATER SALT—OBLIGED TO RETURN—ARRIVAL AT DEPOT—HOSTILE DEMONSTRATIONS OF THE NATIVES.
CHAPTER VI. CAUSE OF HOSTILITY OF THE NATIVES—WELL SUNK UNSUCCESSFULLY—OVERSEER SENT TO THE EAST—THE SCOTT EXAMINED—ROCK WALLUBIES—OVERSEER'S RETURN—ANOTHER VISIT TO LAKE TORRENS—BOGGY CHARACTER OF ITS BED—EXTRAORDINARY EFFECTS OF MIRAGE AND REFRACTION—RETURN TO THE CAMP—SUPPLY OF WATER EXHAUSTED—LEAVE THE DEPOT—THE MUNDY—THE BURR—MOUNT SERLE—LAKE TORRENS TO THE EAST—MELANCHOLY PROSPECTS
CHAPTER VII. EXCURSION TO THE NORTH-EAST—TRACE DOWN THE FROME—WATER BECOMES SALT—PASS BEYOND THE RANGES—COCKATOOS SEEN—HEAVY RAINS—DRY WATERCOURSES—MOUNT DISTANCE—BRINE SPRINGS—MOUNT HOPELESS—TERMINATION OF FLINDERS RANGE—LAKE TORRENS TO THE NORTH AND TO THE EAST—ALL FURTHER ADVANCE HOPELESS—YOUNG EMUS CAUGHT—REJOIN PARTY—MOVE BACK TOWARDS MOUNT ARDEN—LOSS OF A HORSE—ARRIVE AT THE DEPOT—PLANS FOR THE FUTURE—TAKE UP STORES—PREPARE FOR LEAVING
CHAPTER VIII. PROCEED TO THE WESTWARD—CHANNEL OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN LAKE TORRENS AND SPENCER'S GULF—BAXTER'S RANGE—DIVIDE THE PARTY—ROUTE TOWARDS PORT LINCOLN—SCRUB—FRUITLESS SEARCH FOR WATER—SEND DRAY BACK FOR WATER—PLUNDERED BY THE NATIVES—RETURN OF DRAY—DENSE SCRUB—REFUGE ROCKS—DENSE SCRUB—SALT CREEK—MOUNT HILL—DENSE SCRUB—LARGE WATERCOURSE—ARRIVE AT A STATION—RICH AND GRASSY VALLEYS—CHARACTER OF PORT LINCOLN PENINSULA—UNABLE TO PROCURE SUPPLIES—ENGAGE A BOAT TO SEND OVER TO ADELAIDE—BUY SHEEP
CHAPTER IX. BOY SPEARED BY THE NATIVES—ANOMALOUS STATE OF OUR RELATIONS WITH THE ABORIGINES—MR. SCOTT SAILS FOR ADELAIDE—DOG BOUGHT—MR. SCOTT'S RETURN—CUTTER WATERWITCH SENT TO CO-OPERATE—SEND HER TO STREAKY BAY—LEAVE PORT LINCOLN WITH THE DRAY—LEVEL SANDY COUNTRY CLOTHED WITH BRUSH AND SHRUBS—SALT LAKES—MOUNT HOPE—LAKE HAMILTON—STONY COUNTRY—LOSE A DOG—BETTER COUNTRY—WEDGE HILL—LAKE NEWLAND—A BOAT HARBOUR—MOUNT HALL—REJOIN PARTY AT STREAKY BAY—SINGULAR SPRING—CHARACTER OF COUNTRY—BEDS OF OYSTERS
CHAPTER X. COUNTRY BETWEEN STREAKY BAY AND BAXTER'S RANGE—ITS SCRUBBY CHARACTER—GAWLER RANGE—MOUNT STURT—ASCEND A PEAK—SALT LAKES—BEAUTIFUL FLOWER—ASCEND ANOTHER BILL—MOUNT BROWN SEEN—EXTENSIVE VIEW TO THE NORTH—LAKE GILLES—BAXTER'S RANGE
CHAPTER XI. EMBARK STORES—PARTY LEAVE STREAKY BAY—DENSE SCRUB—POINT BROWN—SINGULAR WELL—PROCESS OF CHANGE IN APPEARANCE OF COUNTRY—DIG FOR WATER—FRIENDLY NATIVES—EXTRAORDINARY RITE—NATIVE GUIDES—LEIPOA'S NEST—DENIAL BAY—BEELIMAH GAIPPE—KANGAROO KILLED—MORE NATIVES—BERINYANA GAIPPE—SALT LAKES—WADEMAR GAIPPE—SANDY AND SCRUBBY COUNTRY—MOBEELA GAIPPE—DIFFICULTY OF GETTING WATER—MORE NATIVES—GENUINE HOSPITALITY—SINGULAR MARKS ON THE ABDOMEN—NATIVES LEAVE THE PARTY—FOWLER'S BAY—EXCELLENT WHALING STATION.
CHAPTER XII. LAND THE STORES AND SEND THE CUTTER TO DENIAL BAY—PARTY REMOVE TO POINT FOWLER—LEAVE THE PARTY—BEDS OF LAKES—DENSE SCRUB—COAST SAND-DRIFTS—FRUITLESS SEARCH FOR WATER—DISTRESS OF THE HORSES—TURN BACK—LEAVE A HORSE—FIND WATER—REJOIN PARTY—SEND FOR THE HORSE—COUNTRY AROUND DEPOT—TAKE A DRAY TO THE WESTWARD—WRETCHED COUNTRY—FALL IN WITH NATIVES—MISUNDERSTAND THEIR SIGNS—THEY LEAVE US—VAIN SEARCH FOR WATER—TURN BACK—HORSE KNOCKED UP—GO BACK FOR WATER—REJOIN THE DRAY—COMMENCE RETURN—SEARCH FOR WATER—DRAY SURROUNDED BY NATIVES—EMBARRASSING SITUATION—BURY BAGGAGE—THREE HORSES ABANDONED—REACH THE SAND-DRIFTS—UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPTS TO SAVE THE HORSES—SEND FOR FRESH HORSES—SEARCH FOR WATER TO NORTH-EAST—RECOVER THE DRAY AND STORES—REJOIN THE PARTY AT DEPOT NEAR POINT FOWLER—RETURN OF THE CUTTER
CHAPTER XIII. FUTURE PLANS—REDUCE THE NUMBER OF THE PARTY—SEND THE CUTTER TO ADELAIDE—REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR—MONOTONOUS LIFE AT CAMP—REMOVE TO ANOTHER LOCALITY—GEOLOGICAL CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY—FLINT FOUND—AGAIN ATTEMPT TO REACH THE HEAD OF THE BIGHT—REACH THE SAND-HILLS, AND BURY FLOUR—FRIENDLY NATIVES—EXHAUSTED STATE OF THE HORSES—GET THE DRAY TO THE PLAIN—BURY WATER—SEND BACK DRAY—PROCEED WITH PACK-HORSE—OPPRESSIVE HEAT—SEND BACK PACK-HORSE—REACH THE HEAD OF THE BIGHT—SURPRISE SOME NATIVES—THEIR KIND BEHAVIOUR—YEER-KUMBAN-KAUWE—THEIR ACCOUNT OF THE INTERIOR
CHAPTER XIV. PROCEED TO THE WESTWARD—CLIFF'S OF THE GREAT BIGHT—LEVEL NATURE OF THE INTERIOR—FLINTS ABOUND—RETURN TO YEER-KUMBAN-KAUWE—NATIVES COME TO THE CAMP—THEIR GENEROUS CONDUCT—MEET THE OVERSEER—RETURN TO DEPOT—BAD WATER—MOVE BACK TO FOWLER'S BAY—ARRIVAL OF THE CUTTER HERO—JOINED BY THE KING GEORGE'S SOUND NATIVE—INSTRUCTIONS RELATIVE TO THE HERO—DIFFICULTY OF FIXING UPON ANY FUTURE PLAN—BREAK UP THE EXPEDITION AND DIVIDE THE PARTY—MR. SCOTT EMBARKS—FINAL REPORT—THE HERO SAILS—OVERSEER AND NATIVES REMAIN—EXCURSION TO THE NORTH—A NATIVE JOINS US—SUDDEN ILLNESS IN THE PARTY—FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR LEAVING THE DEPOT
CHAPTER XV. RETURN OF MR. SCOTT IN THE HERO—MR. SCOTT AGAIN SAILS FOR ADELAIDE—COMMENCE JOURNEY TO THE WESTWARD—OPPORTUNE ARRIVAL AT THE SAND-HILLS—LARGE FLIES—TAKE ON THE SHEEP—LEAVE THE OVERSEER WITH THE HORSES—REACH YEER-KUMBAN-KAUWE—JOINED BY THE OVERSEER—TORMENTING FLIES AGAIN—MOVE ON WITH THE SHEEP—LEAVE OVERSEER TO FOLLOW WITH THE HORSES—CHARACTER OF COUNTRY ALONG THE BIGHT—SCENERY OF THE CLIFFS—LEAVE THE SHEEP—ANXIETY ABOUT WATER—REACH THE TERMINATION OF THE CLIFFS—FIND WATER
CHAPTER XVI. GO BACK TO MEET THE OVERSEER—PARTY ARRIVE AT THE WATER—LONG ENCAMPMENT—GEOLOGICAL FORMATION OF THE CLIFFS—MOVE ON AGAIN—DIG FOR WATER—TRACES OF NATIVES—SEND BACK FOR WATER—PARROTS SEEN—COOL WINDS FROM NORTH-EAST—OVERSEER RETURNS—CONTINUE THE JOURNEY—ABANDON BAGGAGE—DENSE SCRUBS—DRIVEN TO THE BEACH—MEET NATIVES—MODE OF PROCURING WATER FROM ROOTS
CHAPTER XVII. HORSES BEGIN TO KNOCK UP—COMPELLED TO FOLLOW ROUND THE BEACH—TIMOR PONY UNABLE TO PROCEED—GLOOMY PROSPECTS—OVERSEER BEGINS TO DESPOND—TWO MORE HORSES LEFT BEHIND—FRAGMENTS OF WRECKS—WATER ALL CONSUMED—COLLECT DEW—CHANGE IN CHARACTER OF COUNTRY—DIG A WELL—PROCURE WATER—NATIVE AND FAMILY VISIT US—OVERSEER GOES BACK FOR BAGGAGE—DISASTROUS TERMINATION OF HIS JOURNEY—SITUATION AND PROSPECTS OF THE PARTY
CHAPTER XVIII. GO BACK WITH A NATIVE—SPEAR STING-RAYS—RECOVER THE BAGGAGE—COLD WEATHER—OVERSEER RECONNOITRES THE CLIFFS—UNFAVOURABLE REPORT—DIFFERENCE OF OPINION AS TO BEST PLANS FOR THE FUTURE—KILL A HORSE FOR FOOD—INJURIOUS EFFECTS FROM MEAT DIET—NATIVE BOYS BECOME DISAFFECTED—THEY STEAL PROVISIONS—NATIVE BOYS DESERT THE PARTY—THEY RETURN ALMOST STARVED—PARTY PROCEED ONWARDS TO THE WESTWARD—CLIFFS OF THE BIGHT—COUNTRY BEHIND THEM—THREATENING WEATHER—MURDER OF THE OVERSEER
DESCRIPTION OF SOME NEW AUSTRALIAN ANIMALS, BY J. E. GRAY, ESQ. F.R.S. CATALOGUE OF REPTILES AND FISH, FOUND AT KING GEORGE'S SOUND, BY DEPUTY ASSISTANT COMMISSARY—GENERAL NEILL. THE REPTILES NAMED AND ARRANGED BY J. E. GRAY, ESQ., AND THE FISH BY DR. RICHARDSON DESCRIPTION AND FIGURES OF FOUR NEW SPECIES OF AUSTRALIAN INSECTS, BY ADAM WHITE, ESQ. M.E.S. DESCRIPTION OF TWO NEW INVERTEBRATED ANIMALS FROM AUSTRALIA, BY J. E. GRAY, ESQ. F.R.S. DESCRIPTION OF SOME NEW AUSTRALIAN LEPIDOPTEROUS INSECTS, BY EDWARD DOUBLEDAY, ESQ. F.R.S. etc. LIST OF BIRDS KNOWN TO INHABIT SOUTHERN AUSTRALIA, BY JOHN GOULD, ESQ. F.R.S.
LIST OF PLATES—VOLUME I.
Tenberry, with Wife and Child, drawn by G. Hamilton Departure of the Expedition drawn by G. Hamilton Opossum-hunting at Gawler Plains Native Graves Wylie (J. Neil) Plate I.—New Toads and Frogs Plate II.—New Frogs and new Bat Plate III.—New Insects Plate IV.—New Cray-fish Plate V.—New Shells Plate VI.—New Butterflies
CONTENTS OF VOLUME II.
CHAPTER I. THE CAMP PLUNDERED—NIGHT OF HORRORS—PROCEED ON TO THE WESTWARD—THE BOYS FOLLOW US—THEY ARE LEFT BEHIND—FORCED MARCHES—DESERT COUNTRY—BANKSIAS MET WITH—TRACES OF NATIVES—TERMINATION OF THE CLIFFS—FIND WATER
CHAPTER II. REFLECTIONS UPON SITUATION—WATCH FOR THE ARRIVAL OF THE NATIVE BOYS—THEIR PROBABLE FATE—PROCEED ON THE JOURNEY—FACILITY OF OBTAINING WATER—KILL A HORSE FOR FOOD—SILVER-BARK TEA-TREE—INTENSE COLD—FIRST HILLS SEEN—GOOD GRASS—APPETITE OF A NATIVE—INJURIOUS EFFECTS OF UNWHOLESOME DIET—CHANGE IN THE CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY—GRANITE FORMS THE LOW WATER LEVEL—TREE WASHED ON SHORE—INDISPOSITION
CHAPTER III. HEAVY ROAD—A YOUNG KANGAROO SHOT—GRASSY COUNTRY—POINT MALCOLM—TRACES OF ITS HAVING BEEN VISITED BY EUROPEANS—GRASS-TREES MET WITH—A KANGAROO KILLED—CATCH FISH—GET ANOTHER KANGAROO—CRAB HUNTING—RENEW THE JOURNEY—CASUARINAE MET WITH—CROSS THE LEVEL BANK—LOW COUNTRY BEHIND IT—CAPE ARID—SALT WATER CREEK—XAMIA SEEN—CABBAGE TREE OF THE SOUND—FRESH WATER LAKE—MORE SALT STREAMS—OPOSSUMS CAUGHT—FLAG REEDS FOUND—FRESH WATER STREAMS—BOATS SEEN—MEET WITH A WHALER
CHAPTER IV. GO ON BOARD THE MISSISSIPPI—WET WEATHER—VISIT LUCKY BAY—INTERVIEW WITH NATIVES—WYLIE UNDERSTANDS THEIR LANGUAGE—GET THE HORSES SHOD—PREPARE TO LEAVE THE VESSEL—KINDNESS AND LIBERALITY OF CAPTAIN ROSSITER—RENEW JOURNEY TO THE WESTWARD—FOSSIL FORMATION STILL CONTINUES—SALT WATER STREAMS AND LAKES—A LARGE SALT RIVER—CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY
CHAPTER V. LARGE WATERCOURSE—LAKE OF FRESH WATER—HEAVY RAINS—REACH MOUNT BARREN—SALT LAKES AND STREAMS—BARREN SCRUBBY COUNTRY—RANGES BEHIND KING GEORGE'S SOUND ARE SEEN—BRACKISH PONDS—PASS CAPE RICHE—A LARGE SALT RIVER—CHAINS OF PONDS—GOOD LAND—HEAVILY TIMBERED COUNTRY—COLD WEATHER—FRESH LAKE—THE CANDIUP RIVER—KING'S RIVER—EXCESSIVE RAINS—ARRIVAL AT KING GEORGE'S SOUND, AND TERMINATION OF THE EXPEDITION—RECEPTION OF WYLIE BY THE NATIVES
CHAPTER VI. CONCLUDING REMARKS
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.
CHAPTER I. PRELIMINARY REMARKS—UNJUST OPINIONS GENERALLY ENTERTAINED OF THE CHARACTER OF THE NATIVE—DIFFICULTIES AND DISADVANTAGES HE LABOURS UNDER IN HIS RELATIONS WITH EUROPEANS—AGGRESSIONS AND INJURIES ON THE PART OF THE LATTER IN GREAT DEGREE EXTENUATE HIS CRIMES
CHAPTER II. PHYSICAL APPEARANCE—DRESS—CHARACTER—HABITS OF LIFE—MEETINGS OF TRIBES—WARS—DANCES—SONGS
CHAPTER III. FOOD—HOW PROCURED—HOW PREPARED—LIMITATION AS TO AGE, etc.
CHAPTER IV. PROPERTY IN LAND—DWELLINGS—WEAPONS—IMPLEMENTS—GOVERNMENT—CUSTOMS—SOCIAL RELATIONS—MARRIAGE—NOMENCLATURE
CHAPTER V. CEREMONIES AND SUPERSTITIONS—FORMS OF BURIAL—MOURNING CUSTOMS—RELIGIOUS IDEAS—EMPIRICS, etc.
CHAPTER VI. NUMBERS—DISEASES—CAUSE OF LIMITED POPULATION—CRIMES AGAINST EUROPEANS—AMONGST THEMSELVES—TREATMENT OF EACH OTHER IN DISTRIBUTION OF FOOD, etc.
CHAPTER VII. LANGUAGE, DIALECTS, CUSTOMS, etc.—GENERAL SIMILARITY THROUGHOUT THE CONTINENT—CAUSES OF DIFFERENCES—ROUTE BY WHICH THE NATIVES HAVE OVERSPREAD THE COUNTRY, etc.
CHAPTER VIII. EFFECTS OF CONTACT WITH EUROPEANS—ATTEMPTS AT IMPROVEMENT AND CIVILIZATION—ACCOUNT OF SCHOOLS—DEFECTS OF THE SYSTEM
CHAPTER IX. SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT OF SYSTEM ADOPTED TOWARDS THE NATIVES 458
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EXPLANATION OF THE PLATES OF NATIVE ORNAMENTS, WEAPONS, IMPLEMENTS, AND WORKS OF INDUSTRY
LIST OF PLATES.—VOL. II.
Distribution of flour at Moorunde, G. Hamilton Arrival at King George's Sound, J. Neill Plate I.—Native Ornaments Kangaroo Dance of King George's Sound, J. Neill Woodcut of a Standard used in the Dances performed by day Plate II. Native Weapons Plate III. Native Weapons Plate IV. Native Implements Plate V. Native Works of Industry Mode of disposing of the Dead of the Lower Murray Murray River at Moorunde Plate VI. Miscellaneous Native Articles 1. Head of war spear of the North Coast, barbed for 3 feet, total length 9 1/2 feet. 2. Head of fish spear of the North Coast, barbed for 18 inches, total length 8 3/4 feet. 2. Head of spear of the North Coast, barbed for 18 inches, total length 8 3/4 feet. 4. Head of war spear of the North Coast, with head of quartz, 6 inches, total length 9 1/2 feet. 5. Head of war spear of the North Coast, with head of slate, 6 inches, total length 9 1/2 feet. 6. Two handed sword of hard wood, North Coast, 3 1/2 feet. 7. Throwing stick of North Coast, 3 feet 1 inch. 8. Throwing stick of North Coast, very pliant, 3-16ths of an inch only thick, 3 feet 6 inches. 9. Broad short throwing stick, 2 feet 2 inches. 10. An ornament of feathers for the neck. 11. Five Kangaroo teeth in a bunch, worn round the neck. 12. A net waistband or belt, from Murray River, 8 feet long 6 inches wide. 13. Plume of feathers tied to thin wand, and stuck in the hair at dances—New South Wales. 14. War club. 15. War club. 16. Bag of close net work. 17. Band for forehead of Swan's down. 18. Root end of a kind of grass, used as pins for pegging out skins. 19. Sorcerer's stick. 20. Sorcerer's stick.
JOURNAL OF EXPEDITIONS IN CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AUSTRALIA IN 1840.
ORIGIN OF THE EXPEDITION—CONTEMPLATED EXPLORATION TO THE WESTWARD—MEETING OF THE COLONISTS AND SUBSCRIPTIONS ENTERED INTO FOR THAT PURPOSE—NOTES ON THE UNFAVOURABLE NATURE OF THE COUNTRY TO THE WESTWARD, AND PROPOSAL THAT THE NORTHERN INTERIOR SHOULD BE EXAMINED INSTEAD—MAKE AN OFFER TO THE GOVERNOR TO CONDUCT SUCH AN EXPEDITION—CAPTAIN STURT'S LECTURE—INTERVIEW WITH THE GOVERNOR, ARRANGEMENT OF PLANS—PREPARATION OF OUTFIT—COST OF EXPEDITION—NAME A DAY FOR DEPARTURE—PUBLIC BREAKFAST AND COMMENCEMENT OF THE UNDERTAKING.
Before entering upon the account of the expedition sent to explore the interior of Australia, to which the following pages refer, it may perhaps be as well to advert briefly to the circumstances which led to the undertaking itself, that the public being fully in possession of the motives and inducements which led me, at a very great sacrifice of my private means, to engage in an exploration so hazardous and arduous, and informed of the degree of confidence reposed in me by those interested in the undertaking, and the sanguine hopes and high expectations that were formed as to the result, may be better able to judge how far that confidence was well placed, and how far my exertions were commensurate with the magnitude of the responsibility I had undertaken.
I have felt it the more necessary to allude to this subject now, because I was in some measure at the time instrumental in putting a stop to a contemplated expedition to the westward, and of thus unintentionally interfering with the employment of a personal friend of my own, than whom no one could have been more fitted to command an undertaking of the kind, from his amiable disposition, his extensive experience, and his general knowledge and acquirements.
Upon returning, about the middle of May 1840, from a visit to King George's Sound and Swan River, I found public attention in Adelaide considerably engrossed with the subject of an overland communication between Southern and Western Australia. Captain Grey, now the Governor of South Australia, had called at Adelaide on his way to England from King George's Sound, and by furnishing a great deal of interesting information relative to Western Australia, and pointing out the facilities that existed on its eastern frontier, as far as it was then known, for the entrance of stock from the Eastward, had called the attention of the flock-masters of the Colony to the importance of opening a communication between the two places, with a view to the extension of their pastoral interests. The notes of Captain Grey, referring to this subject, were published in the South Australian Register newspaper of the 28th March, 1840. On the 30th of the same month, a number of gentlemen, many of whom were owners of large flocks and herds, met together, for the purpose of taking the matter into consideration, and the result of this conference was the appointment of a Committee, whose duty it was to report upon the best means of accomplishing the object in view. On the 4th, 7th, and 9th of April other meetings were held, and the results published in the South Australian Register, of the 11th April, as follows:—
OVERLAND ROUTE TO WESTERN AUSTRALIA.
At a Meeting of the Committee for making arrangements for an expedition to explore an overland route to Western Australia, held the 7th of April, the Hon. the Surveyor-general in the chair, the following resolutions were agreed to:—
That a communication be made to the Government of Western Australia, detailing the objects contemplated by this Committee, and further stating that the assistance of the Government of this province has been obtained.
That a communication be made to the Hon. the Surveyor-general, the Hon. the Advocate-general the Hon. G. Leake, Esq. of Western Australia, with a request that they will form a committee in conjunction with such settlers as may feel interested in the same undertaking, for the purpose of collecting private subscriptions, and co-operating with this committee.
Resolved, that similar communications be made to the Government of New South Wales, and to the following gentlemen who are requested to act as a committee with the same power as that of Western Australia: Hon. E. Deas Thomson, Colonial Secretary; William Macarthur, Esq.; Captain Parker; P. King, R.N.; Stuart Donaldson, Esq.; George Macleay, Esq.; Charles Campbell, Esq.
That this Committee would propose, in order to facilitate the progress of the expedition, that depots be formed at convenient points on the route; that it is proposed to make Fowler's Bay the first depot on the route from Adelaide, and to leave it to the Government of Western Australia to decide upon the sites which their local knowledge may point out as the most eligible for similar stations, as far to the eastward as may appear practicable.
That a subscription list be immediately opened in Adelaide to collect funds in aid of the undertaking.
That R. F. Newland, Esq., be requested to act as Treasurer to this Committee, and that subscriptions be received at the Banks of Australasia and South Australia.
E. C. FROME, Chairman. CHAS. BONNEY, Secretary.
The Committee again met on the 9th April—the Hon. the Assistant Commissioner in the chair. It was resolved that the following statement head the subscription list:—
Several meetings having taken place at Adelaide of persons interested in the discovery of an overland route to Western Australia, and it being the general opinion of those meetings that such an enterprise would very greatly benefit the colonists of Eastern, Southern, and Western Australia, it was determined to open subscriptions for the furtherance of this most desirable object under the direction of the following Committee:
G. A. Anstey, Esq. John Knott, Esq. Charles Bonney, Esq. Duncan M'Farlane, Esq. John Brown, Esq. David McLaren, Esq. Edward Eyre, Esq. John Morphett, Esq. John Finniss, Esq. Chas. Mann, Esq. J. H. Fisher, Esq. R. F. Newland, Esq. Lieutenant Frome, Dr. Rankin. Esq. Surveyor-general G. Stevenson, Esq. O. Gilles, Esq. F. Stephens, Esq. Captain Grey W. Smilie, Esq. J. B. Hack, Esq. T. B. Strangwaya, Esq. G. Hamilton, Esq. Capt. Sturt, Ass. Com. Ephraim Howe, Esq. John Walker, Esq.
The very great importance of the undertaking as leading to results, and in all probability to discoveries, the benefits of which are at present unforeseen, but which, like the opening of the Murray to this Province, may pave the way to a high road from hence to Western Australia, will, it is hoped meet with that support from the public which undertakings of great national interest deserve, and which best evince the enterprise and well-doing of a rising colony.
That Captain Grey, being about to embark for England, the Committee cannot allow him to quit these shores without expressing their regret that his stay has been so short, and the sense they entertain of the great interest he has evinced in the welfare of the colony, and the disinterested support he has given an enterprise which is likely to lead to such generally beneficial results as that under consideration.
CHAS. STURT, Chairman. CHAS. BONNEY, Secretary.
LIST OF SUBSCRIPTIONS RECEIVED YESTERDAY.
The Government of South Australia 200 pounds His Excellency the Governor (absent at Port Lincoln) and the Colonists 349 pounds 10 shillings
Such was the state in which I found the question on my return from Western Australia. All had been done that was practicable, until answers were received from the other Colonies, replying to the applications for assistance and co-operation in the proposed undertaking.
Having been always greatly interested in the examination of this vast but comparatively unknown continent, and having already myself been frequently engaged in long and harassing explorations, it will not be deemed surprising that I should at once have turned my attention to the subject so prominently occupying the public mind. I have stated that the principal object proposed to be attained by the expedition to the westward, was that of opening a route for the transit of stock from one colony to the other—nay it was even proposed and agreed to by a majority of the gentlemen attending the public meeting that the first party of exploration should be accompanied by cattle. Now, from my previous examination of the country to the westward of the located parts of South Australia, I had in 1839 fully satisfied myself, not only of the difficulty, but of the utter impracticability of opening an overland route for stock in that direction, and I at once stated my opinion to that effect, and endeavoured to turn the general attention from the Westward to the North, as being the more promising opening, either for the discovery of a good country, or of an available route across the continent. The following extract, from a paper by me on the subject, was published in the South Australian Register of the 23rd May, 1840, and contains my opinion at that time of the little prospect there was of any useful result accruing from the carrying out of the proposed expedition to the Westward:—
"It may now, therefore, be a question for those who are interested in the sending an expedition overland to the Swan River to consider what are likely to be the useful results from such a journey. In a geographical point of view it will be exceedingly interesting to know the character of the intervening country between this colony and theirs, and to unfold the secrets hidden by those lofty, and singular cliffs at the head of the Great Bight, and so far, it might perhaps be practicable—since it is possible that a light party might, in a favourable season, force their way across. As regards the transit of stock, however, my own conviction is that it is quite impracticable. The vast extent of desert country to the westward—the scarcity of grass—the denseness of the scrub—and the all but total absence of water, even in the most favourable seasons, are in themselves, sufficient bars to the transit of stock, even to a distance we are already acquainted with. I would rather, therefore, turn the public attention to the Northward, as being the most probable point from which discoveries of importance may be made, or such as are likely to prove beneficial to this and the other colonies, and from which it is possible the veil may be lifted, from the still unknown and mysterious interior of this vast continent."
On the 27th I dined with His Excellency the Governor, and had a long conversation with him on the subject of the proposed Western Expedition, and on the exploration of the Northern Interior. With his usual anxiety to promote any object which he thought likely to benefit the colony, and advance the cause of science, His Excellency expressed great interest in the examination of the Northern Interior, and a desire that an attempt should be made to penetrate its recesses during the ensuing season.
As I had been the means of diverting public attention from a Western to a Northern exploration, so was I willing to encounter myself the risks and toils of the undertaking I had suggested, and I therefore at once volunteered to His Excellency to take the command of any party that might be sent out, to find one-third of the number of horses required, and pay one-third of the expenses. Two days after this a lecture was delivered at the Mechanics' Institute in Adelaide, by Captain Sturt, upon the Geography and Geology of Australia, at the close of which that gentleman acquainted the public with the proposal I had made to the Governor, and the sanction and support which His Excellency was disposed to give it. The following extract is from Captain Sturt's address, and shews the disinterested and generous zeal which that talented and successful traveller was ever ready to exert on behalf of those who were inclined to follow the career of enterprise and ambition in which he had with such distinction led the way.
"Before I conclude, however, having drawn your attention to the science of geology, I would for a moment dwell on that of geography, and the benefit the pursuit and study of it has been to mankind. To geography we owe all our knowledge of the features of the earth's surface, our intercourse with distant nations, and our enjoyments of numberless comforts and luxuries. The sister sciences of geography and hydrography have enabled us to pursue our way to any quarter of the habitable and uninhabitable world. With the history of geography, moreover, our proudest feelings are associated. Where are there names dearer to us than those of the noble and devoted Columbus, of Sebastian Cabot, of Cook, of Humboldt, and of Belzoni and La Perouse? Where shall we find the generous and heroic devotion of the explorers of Africa surpassed? Of Denham, of Clapperton, of Oudeny, and of the many who have sacrificed their valuable lives to the pestilence of that climate or to the ferocity of its inhabitants?—And where shall we look for the patient and persevering endurance of Parry, of Franklin, and of Back, in the northern regions of eternal snow? If, ladies and gentlemen, fame were to wreathe a crown to the memory of such men, there would not be a leaf in it without a name. The region of discovery was long open to the ambitious, but the energy and perseverance of man has now left but little to be done in that once extensive and honourable field. The shores of every continent have been explored—the centre of every country has been penetrated save that of Australia—thousands of pounds have been expended in expeditions to the Poles—but this country, round which a girdle of civilization is forming, is neglected, and its recesses, whether desert or fertile, are unsought and unexplored. What is known of the interior is due rather to private enterprise than to public energy. Here then there is still a field for the ambitious to tread. Over the centre of this mighty continent there hangs a veil which the most enterprising might be proud to raise. The path to it, I would venture to say, is full of difficulty and danger; and to him who first treads it much will be due. I, who have been as far as any, have seen danger and difficulty thicken around me as I advanced, and I cannot but anticipate the same obstacles to the explorer, from whatever point of these extreme shores he may endeavour to force his way. Nevertheless, gentlemen, I shall envy that man who shall first plant the flag of our native country in the centre of our adopted one. There is not one deed in those days to be compared with it, and to whoever may undertake so praiseworthy and so devoted a task, I wish that success, which Heaven sometimes vouchsafes to those who are actuated by the first of motives—the public good; and the best of principles—a reliance on Providence. I would I myself could undertake such a task, but fear that may not be. However, there is a gentleman among us, who is auxious to undertake such a journey. He has calculated that in taking a party five hundred miles into the interior, the expense would not be more than 300 pounds and the price of ten horses. At a meeting held some time ago, on this very subject, about half that sum was subscribed.—His Excellency the Governor has kindly promised to give 100 pounds, and two horses—and I think we may very soon make up the remainder; and thus may set out an expedition which may explore the as yet unknown interior of this vast continent, which may be the means, by discovery, of conferring a lasting benefit on the colony—and hand down to posterity the name of the person who undertakes it."
On the same day I received a note from the private secretary, stating that the Governor wished to see me, and upon calling on His Excellency I had a long and interesting interview on the subject of the expedition, in the course of which arrangements were proposed and a plan of operations entered into. I found in His Excellency every thing that was kind and obliging. Sincerely desirous to confer a benefit upon the colony over which he presided, he was most anxious that the expedition should be fitted out in as complete and efficient a manner as possible, and to effect this every assistance in his power was most frankly and freely offered. In addition to the sanction and patronage of the government and the contribution of 100 pounds, towards defraying the expenses, His Excellency most kindly offered me the selection of any two horses I pleased, from among those belonging to the police, and stated, that if I wished for the services of any of the men in the public employment they should be permitted to accompany me on the journey. The Colonial cutter, WATERWITCH, was also most liberally offered, and thankfully accepted, to convey a part of the heavy stores and equipment to the head of Spencer's Gulf, that so far, the difficulties of the land journey to that point, at least, might be lessened.
I was now fairly pledged to the undertaking, and as the winter was rapidly advancing, I became most anxious to get all preparations made as soon as possible to enable me to take advantage of the proper season. On the first of June I commenced the necessary arrangements for organizing my party, and getting ready the equipment required. To assist me in these duties, and to accompany me as a companion in the journey, I engaged Mr. Edward Bate Scott, an active, intelligent and steady young friend, who had already been a voyage with me to Western Australia, and had travelled with me overland from King George's Sound to Swan River.
Meetings of the colonists interested in the undertaking were again held on the 2nd and 5th of June, at which subscriptions were entered into for carrying out the object of the expedition; and a brief outline of my plans was given by the Chairman, Captain Sturt, in the following extract from his address.
"The Chairman went on to state, that Mr. Eyre would first proceed to Lake Torrens and examine it, and then penetrate as far inland in a northerly direction as would be found practicable. With regard to an observation which he (the Chairman) had made on Friday evening, regarding this continent having been formerly an archipelago, he stated, that he was of opinion that a considerable space of barren land in all probability existed between this district and what had formerly been the next island. This space was likely to be barren, though of course it would be impossible to say how far it extended. He had every reason to believe, from what he had seen of the Australian continent, that at some distance to the northward, a large tract of barren country would be found, or perhaps a body of water, beyond which, a good country would in all probability exist. The contemplated expedition, he hoped would set supposition at rest—and as the season was most favourable, and Mr. Eyre had had much personal experience in exploring, he had no doubt but the expedition would be successful. The eyes of all the Australasian colonies—nay, he might say of Britain—are on the colonists of South Australia in this matter; and he felt confident that the result would be most beneficial, not only to this Province, but also to New South Wales and the Australian colonies generally—for the success of one settlement is, in a measure, the success of the others."
An advertisement, published in the Adelaide Journals of 13th June, shewed the progress that had been made towards collecting subscriptions for the undertaking, and the spirited and zealous manner in which the colonists entered into the project. Up to that date the sum of 541 pounds 17 shillings 5 pence had been collected and paid into the Bank of Australia.
Having now secured the necessary co-operation and assistance, my arrangements proceeded rapidly and unremittingly, whilst the kindness of the Governor, the Committee of colonists, my private friends and the public generally, relieved me of many difficulties and facilitated my preparations in a manner such as I could hardly have hoped or expected. Every one seemed interested in the undertaking, and anxious to promote its success; zeal and energy and spirit were infused among all connected with it, and everything went on prosperously.
In addition to the valuable aid which I received from his Excellency the Governor, I was particularly indebted to Captain Frome the Surveyor-general, Captain Sturt the Assistant-commissioner, and Thomas Gilbert, Esq. the Colonial storekeeper, for unceasing kindness and attention, and for much important assistance rendered to me by the loan of books and instruments, the preparation of charts, and the fitting up of drays, etc. etc.
Captain Frome, too, now laid me under increased obligations by giving up his own servant, Corporal Coles of the Royal Sappers and Miners, upon my expressing a wish to take him with me, and the Governor sanctioning his going.
This man had accompanied Captain Grey in all his expeditions on the North-west coast of New Holland—and had been highly recommended by that traveller; he was a wheelwright by trade, and being a soldier was likely to prove a useful and valuable addition to my party; and I afterwards found him a most obliging, willing and attentive person.
To the Governor and to the Committee of colonists I owe many thanks, for the very flattering and gratifying confidence they reposed in me, a confidence which left me as unrestricted in my detail of outfit and equipment, as I was unfettered in my plan of operations in the field. This enabled me to avoid unnecessary delays, and to hasten every thing forward as rapidly as possible, so that when requested by the Governor to name a day for my departure I was enabled to fix upon the 18th of June.
Having already done all in their power to forward and assist the equipment and arrangement of the expedition, the Governor and Mrs. Gawler were determined still further to increase the heavy debt of gratitude which I was already under to them, by inviting myself and party to meet the friends of the expedition at Government House on the morning of our departure, that by a public demonstration of interest in our welfare, we might be encouraged in the undertaking upon which we were about to enter—and might be stimulated to brave the perils to which we should shortly be exposed, by a remembrance of the sympathy expressed in our behalf, and the pledge we should come under to the public upon leaving the abode of civilised man, for the unknown and trackless region which lay before us.
On the 15th of June I attended a meeting of the Committee, and presented for audit the accounts of the expenditure incurred up to that date. On the 16th I had a sale of all my private effects, furniture, etc. by auction, and arranged my affairs in the best way that the very limited time at my disposal would permit.
The 17th found me still with plenty of work to do, as there were many little matters to attend to at the last, which the best exertions could not sooner set aside.
Mr. Scott, who ever since the commencement of our preparations, had been most indefatigable and useful in his exertions, was even still more severely tasked on this day; at night, however, we were all amply rewarded, by seeing every thing completely and satisfactorily arranged—the bustle, confusion, and excitement over, and our drays all loaded, and ready to commence on the morrow a journey of which the length, the difficulty, and the result, were all a problem yet to be solved.
In the short space of seventeen days from the first commencement of our preparations, we had completely organized and fully equipped a party for interior exploration. Every thing had been done in that short time men hired, horses sought out and selected, drays prepared, saddlery, harness, and the thousand little things required on such journeys, purchased, fitted and arranged. In that short time too, the Colonists had subscribed and collected the sum of five hundred pounds towards defraying the expenses, exclusive of the Government contribution of 100 pounds.
Unfortunately, at the time the expedition was undertaken, every thing in South Australia was excessively dear, and the cost of its outfit was therefore much greater in 1840, than it would have been any year since that period; nine horses (including a Timor pony, subsequently procured at Port Lincoln) cost 682 pounds 10 shillings, whilst all other things were proportionably expensive. After the expedition had terminated and the men's wages and other expenses had been paid, the gross outlay amounted to 1391 pounds 0 shillings 7 pence:—of this
Amount of Donation from Government was 100 00 00 Amount of Subscriptions of the Colonists 582 04 09 Sale of the Drays and part of the Equipment 28 00 00 Amount paid by myself 680 15 10 ————— Total 1391 00 07
In addition to this expenditure, considerable as it was, there were very many things obtained from various sources, which though of great value did not come into the outlay already noted. Among these were two horses supplied by the Government, and three supplied by myself, making with the nine bought for 682 pounds 10 shillings, a total of fourteen horses. The very valuable services of the cutters "HERO" and "WATERWITCH," were furnished by the Government; who also supplied all our arms and ammunition, with a variety of other stores. From my many friends I received donations of books and instruments, and I was myself enabled to supply from my own resources a portion of the harness, saddlery, tools, and tarpaulins, together with a light cart and a tent.
June 18.—Calling my party up early, I ordered the horses to be harnessed, and yoked to the drays, at half past nine the whole party, (except the overseer who was at a station up the country) proceeded to Government House, where the drays were halted for the men to partake of a breakfast kindly provided for them by His Excellency and Mrs. Gawler, whilst myself and Mr. Scott joined the very large party invited to meet us in the drawing room.
The following account of the proceedings of the morning, taken from the South Australian Register, of the 20th June, may perhaps be read with interest; at least it will shew the disinterested spirit and enterprising character of the colonists of South Australia, even at this early stage of its history, and especially how much the members of our little party were indebted to the kindness and good feeling of the Governor and colonists, who were anxious to cheer and stimulate us under the difficulties and trails we had to encounter, by their earnest wishes and prayers for our safety and success.
EXPLORATORY EXPEDITION TO THE CENTRE OF NEW HOLLAND
The arrangements for the expedition into the interior, undertaken by Mr. Eyre, having been completed, His Excellency the Governor and Mrs. Gawler issued cards to a number of the principal colonists and personal friends of Mr. Eyre, to meet him at Government House on the morning of his departure. On Thursday last accordingly (the anniversary of Waterloo, in which His Excellency and the gallant 52nd bore so conspicuous a part) a very large party of ladies and gentlemen assembled. After an elegant DEJEUNER A LA FOURCHETTE, His Excellency the Governor rose and spoke as nearly as we could collect, as follows:—
"We are assembled to promote one of the most important undertakings that remain to be accomplished on the face of the globe—the discovery of the interior of Australia. As Captain Sturt in substance remarked in a recent lecture, of the five great divisions of the earth, Europe is well known; Asia and America have been generally searched out; the portion that remains to be known of Africa is generally unfavourable for Europeans, and probably unfit for colonization; but Australia, our great island continent, with a most favourable climate, still remains unpenetrated, mysterious, and unknown. Without doing injustice to the enterprising attempts of Oxley, Sturt, and Mitchell, I must remark that they were commenced from a very unfavourable point—from the eastern and almost south-eastern extremity of the island—and consequently the great interior still remains untouched by them, the south-eastern corner alone having been investigated. As Captain Sturt some years since declared, this Province is the point from which expeditions to the deep interior should set out. This principle, I know, has been acknowledged by scientific men in Europe; and it is most gratifying to see the spirit with which our Colonists on the present occasion have answered to the claim which their position imposes upon them. Mr. Eyre goes forth this day, to endeavour to plant the British flag—the flag which in the whole world has "braved for a thousand years the battle and the breeze"—on the tropic of Capricorn (as nearly as possible in 135 degrees or 136 degrees of longitude) in the very centre of our island continent. On this day twenty-five years since, commencing almost at this very hour, the British flag braved indeed the battle, and at length floated triumphant in victory on the field of Waterloo. May a similar glorious success attend the present undertaking! Mr. Eyre goes forth to brave a battle of a different kind, but which in the whole, may present dangers equal to those of Waterloo. May triumph crown his efforts, and may the British flag, planted by him in the centre of Australia, wave for another thousand years over the pence and prosperity of the mighty population which immigration is pouring in upon us! Of the immediate results of his journey, no one, indeed, can at present form a solid conjecture. Looking to the dark side, he may traverse a country useless to man; but contemplating the bright side, and remembering that but a few years since Sturt, setting off on an equally mysterious course, laid the foundation for the large community in which we dwell, it is in reason to hope that Mr. Eyre will discover a country which may derive support from us, and increase the prosperity of our Province. I must express my gratification at the manner in which this enterprise, noble, let its results be what they may, has been supported by our colonists at large. It is a greater honor to be at the head of the government of a colony of enlightened and enterprising men, than at that of an empire of enslaved and ignorant beings in the form of men. I count it so. May the zeal which has been exhibited in the colony in the promotion of every good and useful work ever continue. Some ladies of Adelaide have worked a British Union Jack for Mr. Eyre. Captain Sturt will be their representative to present it to him. After that we will adjourn to the opposite rooms to invoke a blessing on the enterprise. All here, and I believe the whole colony, give to Mr. Eyre their best wishes, but to good wishes right-minded men always add fervent prayers. There is an Almighty invisible Being in whose hands are all events—man may propose, but it is for God only to dispose—let us therefore implore his protection."
"The Hon. Captain Sturt then received a very handsome Union Jack, neatly worked in silk; and presenting it to Mr. Eyre, spoke nearly as follows:—
"It cannot but be gratifying to me to be selected on such an occasion as this, to perform so prominent a part in a duty the last a community can discharge towards one who, like you, is about to risk your life for its good. I am to deliver to you this flag, in the name of the ladies who made it, with their best wishes for your success, and their earnest prayers for your safety. This noble colour, the ensign of our country, has cheered the brave on many an occasion. It has floated over every shore of the known world, and upon every island of the deep. But you have to perform a very different, and a more difficult duty. You have to carry it to the centre of a mighty continent, there to leave it as a sign to the savage that the footstep of civilized man has penetrated so far. Go forth, then, on your journey, with a full confidence in the goodness of Providence; and may Heaven direct your steps to throw open the fertility of the interior, not only for the benefit of the Province, but of our native country; and may the moment when you unfurl this colour for the purpose for which it was given to you, be as gratifying to you as the present."
"Mr. Eyre, visibly and deeply affected, returned his warmest thanks, and expressed his sense of the kindness he had received on the present occasion. He hoped to be able to plant the flag he had just received in the centre of this continent. If he failed, he should, he hoped, have the cousciousness of having earnestly endeavoured to succeed. To His Excellency the Governor, his sincere thanks were due for the promptitude with which so much effectual assistance to the expedition had been rendered. Mr. Eyre also begged leave to return his thanks to the Colonists who had so liberally supported the enterprise; and concluded by expressing his trust that, through the blessing of God, he would be enabled to return to them with a favourable report of the country into which he was about to penetrate.
"The company then returned to the library and drawing-room, where the Colonial Chaplain, the Rev. C. B. Howard, offered up an affecting and appropriate prayer, and at twelve precisely, Mr. Eyre, accompanied by a very large concourse of gentlemen on horseback, left Government House, under the hearty parting cheers of the assembled party."
Leaving Government House under the hearty cheers of the very large concourse assembled to witness our departure outside the grounds; Mr. Scott, myself, and two native boys (the drays having previously gone on) proceeded on horseback on our route, accompanied by a large body of gentlemen on horseback, and ladies in carriages, desirous of paying us the last kind tribute of friendship by a farewell escort of a few miles.
At first leaving Government House we had moved on at a gentle canter, but were scarcely outside the gates, before the cheering of the people, the waving of hats, and the rush of so many horses, produced an emulation in the noble steeds that almost took from us the control of their pace, as we dashed over the bridge and up the hill in North Adelaide—it was a heart-stirring and inspiriting scene. Carried away by the enthusiasm of the moment, our thoughts and feelings were wrought to the highest state of excitement.
The time passed rapidly away, the first few miles were soon travelled over,—then came the halt,—the parting,—the last friendly cheer;—and we were alone in the wilderness. Our hearts were too full for conversation, and we wended on our way slowly and in silence to overtake the advance party.
FIRST NIGHT'S ENCAMPMENT WITH PARTY—REFLECTIONS—ARRIVAL AT SHEEP STATION—RE-ARRANGEMENT OF LOADS—METHOD OF CARRYING FIRE-ARMS—COMPLETE THE NUMBER OF THE PARTY—THEIR NAMES—MOVE ONWARDS—VALLEY OF THE LIGHT—EXTENSIVE PLAINS—HEAD OF THE GILBERT—SCARCITY OF FIREWOOD—GRASSY WELL-WATERED DISTRICTS—THE HILL AND HUTT RIVERS—INDICATIONS OF CHANGE GOING ON IN APPEARANCE AND CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY, TRACEABLE IN THE REMAINS OF TIMBER IN THE PLAINS AND IN THE OPENINGS AMONG SCRUBS—THE BROUGHTON—REEDY WATERCOURSE—CAMPBELL'S RANGE—COURSE OF THE BROUGHTON.
June 18.—The party having left Adelaide late in the forenoon, and it being the first day of working the horses, I did not wish to make a long stage; having followed the usual road, therefore, as far as the little Parra, the drays were halted upon that watercourse (after a journey of about twelve miles), and we then proceeded to bivouac for the first time. For the first time too since I had engaged to command the expedition, I had leisure to reflect upon the prospects before me.
During the hurry and bustle of preparation, and in the enthusiasm of departure, my mind was kept constantly on the stretch, and I had no time for calm and cool consideration, but now that all was over and the journey actually commenced, I was again able to collect my thoughts and to turn my most serious and anxious attention to the duty I had undertaken. The last few days had been so fraught with interest and occupation, and the circumstances of our departure this morning, had been so exciting, that when left to my own reflections, the whole appeared to me more like a dream than a reality. The change was so great, the contrast so striking. From the crowded drawing room of civilized life, I had in a few hours been transferred to the solitude and silence of the wilds, and from being but an unit in the mass of a large community, I had suddenly become isolated with regard to the world, which, so far as I was concerned, consisted now only of the few brave men who accompanied me, and who were dependant for their very existence upon the energy and perseverance and prudence with which I might conduct the task assigned to me. With this small, but gallant and faithful band, I was to attempt to penetrate the vast recesses of the interior of Australia, to try to lift up the veil which has hitherto shrouded its mysteries from the researches of the traveller, and to endeavour to plant that flag which has floated proudly in all the known parts of the habitable globe, in the centre of a region as yet unknown, and unvisited save by the savage or the wild beast.
Those only who have been placed in similar circumstances can at all appreciate the feelings which they call forth. The hopes, fears, and anxieties of the leader of an exploring party, must be felt to be understood, when he is about to commence an undertaking which MUST be one of difficulty and danger, and which MAY be of doubtful and even fatal result.
The toil, care, and anxiety devolving upon him are of no ordinary character; everyday removes him further from the pale of civilization and from aid or assistance of any kind—whilst each day too diminishes the strength of his party and the means at his command, and thus renders him less able to provide against or cope with the difficulties that may beset him. A single false step, the least error of judgment, or the slightest act of indiscretion might plunge the expedition into inextricable difficulty or danger, or might defeat altogether the object in view. Great indeed was the responsibility I had undertaken—and most fully did I feel sensible of the many and anxious duties that devolved upon me. The importance and interest attached to the solution of the geographical problem connected with the interior of Australia, would, I well knew, engage the observation of the scientific world. If I were successful, the accomplishment of what I had undertaken would more than repay me in gratification for the toil and hazard of the enterprise—but if otherwise I could not help feeling that, however far the few friends who knew me might give me credit for exertion or perseverance, the world at large would be apt to reason from the result, and to make too little allowance for difficulties and impediments, of the magnitude of which from circumstances they could be but incompetent judges.
With such thoughts as these, and revolving in my mind our future plans, our chances of success or otherwise, it will not be deemed surprising, that notwithstanding the fatigue and care I had gone through during the last fortnight of preparation, sleep should long remain a stranger to my pillow; and when all nature around me was buried in deep repose I alone was waking and anxious.
From former experience in a personal examination of the nature of the country north of the head of Spencer's Gulf, during the months of May and June, 1839, I had learnt that the farther the advance to the north, the more dreary and desolate the appearance of the country became, and the greater was the difficulty, both of finding and of obtaining access to either water or grass. The interception of the singular basin of Lake Torrens, which I had discovered formed a barrier to the westward, and commencing near the head of Spencer's Gulf, was connected with it by a narrow channel of mud and water. This lake apparently increased in width as it stretched away to the northward, as far as the eye could reach, when viewed from the farthest point attained by me in 1839, named by Colonel Gawler, Mount Eyre. Dreary as had been the view I then obtained, and cheerless as was the prospect from that elevation, there was one feature in the landscape, which still gave me hope that something might be done in that direction, and had in fact been my principal inducement to select a line nearly north from Spencer's Gulf, for our route on the present expedition; this feature was the continuation, and the undiminished elevation of the chain of hills forming Flinders range, running nearly parallel with the course of Lake Torrens, and when last seen by me stretching far to the northward and eastward in a broken and picturesque outline.
It was to this chain of hills that I now looked forward as the stepping-stone to the interior. In its continuation were centered all my hopes of success, because in its recesses alone could I hope to obtain water and grass for my party. The desert region I had seen around its base, gave no hope of either, and though the basin of Lake Torrens appeared to be increasing so much in extent to the northward, I had seen nothing to indicate its terminating within any practicable distance, in a deep or navigable water. True the whole of the drainage from Flinders range, as far as was yet known, emptied into its basin, but such was the arid and sandy nature of the region through which it passed, that a great part of the moisture was absorbed, whilst the low level of the basin of the lake, apparently the same as that of the sea itself, forbade even the most distant hope of the water being fresh, should any be found in its bed.
It was in reflections and speculations such as these, that many hours of the night of my first encampment with the party passed away. The kindness of the Governor and our many friends had been so unbounded; their anxiety for our safety and comfort so great; their good wishes for our success so earnest, and their confidence in our exertions, so implicit, that I could not but look forward with apprehension, lest the success of our efforts might not equal what our gratitude desired, and even now I began to be fearful that the high expectations raised by the circumstances of our departure might not be wholly realised.
We had fairly commenced our arduous undertaking, and though the party might appear small for the extent of the exploration contemplated, yet no expedition could have started under more favourable or more cheering auspices; provided with every requisite which experience pointed out as desirable, and with every comfort which excess of kindness could suggest, we left too, with a full sense of the difficulties before us, but with a firm determination to overcome them, if possible. And I express but the sentiments of the whole party when I say, that we felt the events of the day of our departure, and the recollection of the anxiety and interest with which our friends were anticipating our progress, and hoping for our success, would be cherished as our watchword in the hour of danger, and bethe incentive to perseverance and labour, when more than ordinary trials should call for our exertions. The result we were willing to leave in the hands of that Almighty Being whose blessing had been implored upon our undertaking, and to whom we looked for guidance and protection in all our wanderings.
June 19.—On mustering the horses this morning it was found, that one or two had been turned loose without hobbles, and being fresh and high fed from the stables, they gave us a great deal of trouble before we could catch them, but at last we succeeded, and the party moved on upon the road to Gawler town, arriving there (12 miles) about noon; at this place we halted for half an hour, at the little Inn to lunch, and this being the last opportunity we should have of entering a house for many months to come, I was anxious to give my men the indulgence. After lunch I again moved on the party for five miles, crossing and encamping upon, a branch of the Parra or Gawler, where we had abundance of good water and grass.
June 20.—Having a long stage before us to-day, I moved on the party very early, leaving all roads, and steering across the bush to my sheep stations upon the Light. We passed through some very fine country, the verdant and beautiful herbage of which, at this season of the year, formed a carpet of rich and luxuriant vegetation. Having crossed the grassy and well wooded ranges which confine the waters of the Light to the westward, we descended to the plain, and reached my head station about sunset, after a long and heavy stage of twenty miles—here we were to remain a couple of days to break up the station, as the sheep were sold, and the overseer and one of the men were to join the Expedition party.
The night set in cold and rainy, but towards morning turned to a severe frost; one of the native boys who had been sent a short cut to the station ahead of the drays, lost his road and was out in the cold all night—an unusual circumstance, as a native will generally keep almost as straight a direction through the wilds as a compass will point.
Sunday, June 21.—We remained in camp. The day was cold, the weather boisterous, with showers of rain at intervals, and the barometer falling; our delay enabled me to write letters to my various friends, before finally leaving the occupied parts of the country, I was glad too, to give the horses and men a little rest after the fatigue they had endured yesterday in crossing the country.
June 22.—As we still remained in camp, the day being dark and cloudy with occasional showers, I took the opportunity of having one of the drays boarded close up, and of re-arranging the loads, oiling the fire-arms, and grinding the axes, spades, etc.; we completed our complement of tools, tents, tarpaulins, etc. from those at the station, and had everything arranged on the drays in the most convenient manner, always having in view safety in carriage and facility of access; the best place for the fire-arms I found to be at the outside of the sides, the backs, or the fronts, of those drays that were close boarded.
By nailing half a large sheepskin with the wool on in any of these positions, a soft cushion was formed for the fire-arms to rest against, they were then fixed in their places by a loop of leather for the muzzle, and a strap and buckle for the stock; whilst the other half of the sheepskin which hung loose, doubled down in front of the weapons. between them and the wheel, effectually preserving them from both dirt and wet, and at the same time keeping them in a position, where they could be got at in a moment, by simply lifting up the skin and unbuckling the strap; by this means too, all danger or risk was avoided, which usually exists when the fire-arms are put on or off the drays in a loaded state. I have myself formerly seen carbines explode more than once from the cocks catching something, in being pulled out from, or pushed in amidst the load of a dray, independently of the difficulty of getting access to them in cases of sudden emergency; a still better plan than the one I adopted, would probably be to have lockers made for the guns, to hang in similar places, and in a somewhat similar manner to that I have described, but in this case it would be necessary for the lockers to be arranged and fitted at the time the drays or carts were made.
All the time I could spare from directing or superintending the loading of the drays, I devoted to writing letters and making arrangements for the regulation of my private affairs, which from the sudden manner in which I had engaged in the exploring expedition, and from the busy and hurried life I had led since the commencement of the preparations, had fallen into some confusion. I was now, however, obliged to content myself with such a disposition of them as the time and circumstances enabled me to make.—I observed the latitude of the station to be 34 degrees 15 minutes 56 seconds S.
June 23.—Having got all the party up very early, I broke up the station, and sent one man on horseback into Adelaide with despatches and letters. My overseer and another man were now added to the party, making up our complement in number. Upon re-arranging the loads of the drays yesterday, I had found it inconvenient to have the instruments and tent equipage upon the more heavily loaded drays, and I therefore decided upon taking an extra cart and another horse from the station. This completed our alterations, and the party and equipment stood thus:—
Mr. Eyre. Mr. Scott, my assistant and companion. John Baxter, Overseer. Corporal Coles, R.S. and M. John Houston, driving a three horse dray. R. M'Robert, driving a three horse dray. Neramberein and Cootachah, Aboriginal boys, to drive the sheep, track, etc.
We had with us 13 horses and 40 sheep, and our other stores were calculated for about three months; in addition to which we were to have a further supply forwarded to the head of Spencer's Gulf by sea, in the WATERWITCH, to await our arrival in that neighbourhood. This would give us the means of remaining out nearly six months, if we found the country practicable, and in that time we might, if no obstacles intervened, easily reach the centre of the Continent and return, or if practicable, cross to Port Essington on the N. W. coast.
About eleven I moved on the party up the Light for 8 miles, and then halted after an easy stage. As the horses were fresh and the men were not yet accustomed to driving them, I was anxious to move quietly on at first, that nothing might be done in a hurry, and every one might gradually settle down to what he had to perform, and that thus by a little care and moderation at first, those evils, which my former travelling had taught me were frequently the result of haste or inexperience, might be avoided. Nothing is more common than to get the withers of horses wrung, or their shoulders and backs galled at the commencement of a journey, and nothing more difficult than to effect a cure of this mischief whilst the animals are in use. By the precaution which I adopted, I succeeded in preventing this, for the present.
As we passed up the valley of the Light, we had some rich and picturesque scenery around us—the fertile vale running nearly north and south, backed to the westward by well wooded irregular ranges grassed to their summits, and to the eastward shut in by a dark looking and more heavily timbered range, beyond which rose two peaks of more distant hills, through the centre of the valley the Light took its course, but at present it was only a chain of large ponds unconnected by any stream; and thus, I believe, it remains the greater part of the year, although occasionally swollen to a broad and rapid current.
June 24.—The horses having strayed a little this morning, and given us some trouble to get them, it was rather late when we started; we, however, crossed the low ridges at the head of the Light, and entering upon extensive plains to the north, we descended to a channel, which I took to be the head of a watercourse called the "Gilbert."
Finding here some tolerably good water and abundance of grass, I halted the party for the night, though we were almost wholly without firewood, an inconvenience that we felt considerably, as the nights now were very cold and frosty. Our stage had been fourteen miles to-day, running at first over low barren ridges, and then crossing rich plains of a loose brown soil, but very heavy for the drays to travel over.
At our camp, a steep bank of the watercourse presented an extensive geological section, but there was nothing remarkable in it, the substrata consisting only of a kind of pipe clay.
June 25.—Upon starting this morning we traversed a succession of fine open and very grassy plains, from which we ascended the low ridges forming the division of the waters to the north and south. In the latter direction, we had left the heads of the "Gilbert" and "Wakefield" chains of ponds, whilst in descending in the former we came upon the "Hill," a fine chain of ponds taking its course through a very extensive and grassy valley, but with little timber of any kind growing near it. On this account I crossed it, and passing on a little farther encamped the party on a branch of the "Hutt," and within a mile and a half of the main course of that chain of ponds. Our whole route to-day, had been through a fine and valuable grazing district, with grass of an excellent description, and of great luxuriance.
We were now nearly opposite to the most northerly of the out stations, and after seeing the party encamp, I proceeded, accompanied by Mr. Scott, to search for the stations for the purpose of saying good bye to a few more of my friends. We had not long, however, left the encampment when it began to rain and drove us back to the tents, effectually defeating the object with which we had commenced our walk. Heavy rain was apparently falling to the westward of us, and the night set in dark and lowering.
In some parts of the large plains we had crossed in the morning, I had observed traces of the remains of timber, of a larger growth than any now found in the same vicinity, and even in places where none at present exists. Can these plains of such very great extent, and now so open and exposed, have been once clothed with timber? and if so, by what cause, or process, have they been so completely denuded, as not to leave a single tree within a range of many miles? In my various wanderings in Australia, I have frequently met with very similar appearances; and somewhat analogous to these, are the singular little grassy openings, or plains, which are constantly met with in the midst of the densest Eucalyptus scrub.
Every traveller in those dreary regions has appreciated these, (to him) comparatively speaking, oasises of the desert—for it is in them alone, that he can hope to obtain any food for his jaded horse; without, however, their affording under ordinary circumstances, the prospect of water for himself. Forcing his way through the dense, and apparently interminable scrub, formed by the Eucalyptus dumosa, (which in some situations is known to extend for fully 100 miles), the traveller suddenly emerges into an open plain, sprinkled over with a fine silky grass, varying from a few acres to many thousands in extent, but surrounded on all sides by the dreary scrub he has left.
In these plains I have constantly traced the remains of decayed scrub—generally of a larger growth than that surrounding them—and occasionally appearing to have grown very densely together. From this it would appear that the face of the country in those low level regions, occupied by the Eucalyptus dumosa, is gradually undergoing a process which is changing it for the better, and in the course of centuries perhaps those parts of Australia which are now barren and worthless, may become rich and fertile districts, for as soon as the scrub is removed grass appears to spring up spontaneously. The plains found interspersed among the dense scrubs may probably have been occasioned by fires, purposely or accidentally lighted by the natives in their wanderings, but I do not think the same explanation would apply to those richer plains where the timber has been of a large growth and the trees in all probability at some distance apart—here fires might burn down a few trees, but would not totally annihilate them over a whole district, extending for many miles in every direction.
June 26.—This morning brought a very heavy fog, through which we literally could not see 100 yards, when the party moved on to the "Hutt" chain of ponds, and then followed that watercourse up to the Broughton river, which was crossed in Lat. 33 degrees 28 minutes S. At this point the bed of the Broughton is of considerable width, and its channel is occupied by long, wide and very deep water holes, connected with one another by a strongly running stream, which seldom or never fails even in the driest seasons. The soil upon its banks however is not valuable, being generally stony and barren, and bearing a sort of prickly grass, (Spinifex). Wild fowl abound on the pools. On a former occasion, when I first discovered the Broughton, I obtained both ducks and swans from its waters, but now I had no time for sporting, being anxious to push on to the "reedy watercourse," a halting place in my former journey, so as to get over all the rough and hilly ground before nightfall, that we might have a fair start in the morning. I generally preferred, if practicable, to lengthen the stage a little in the vicinity of watercourses or hills, in order to get the worst of the road over whilst the horses worked together and were warm, rather than leave a difficult country to be passed over the first thing in the morning, when, for want of exercise, the teams are chill and stiff, and require to be stimulated before they will work well in unison. Our journey to-day was about twenty miles, and the last five being over a rugged hilly road, it was late in the afternoon when we halted for the night.
"The reedy watercourse," is a chain of water-holes taking its rise among some grassy and picturesque ranges to the north of us, and trending southerly to a junction with the Broughton. Among the gorges of this range, (which I had previously named Campbell's range,)[Note 1: After R. Campbell, Esq. M. C. of Sydney.] are many springs of water, and the scenery is as picturesque as the district is fertile. Many of the hills are well rounded, very grassy, and moderately well timbered even to their summits. This is one of the prettiest and most desirable localities for either sheep or cattle, that I have yet seen in the unoccupied parts of South Australia, whilst the distance from Adelaide by land, does not at the most exceed one hundred and twenty miles. [Note 2: All this country, and for some distance to the north, is now occupied by stations.] The watercourse near our camp took its course through an open valley, between bare hills on which there was neither tree nor shrub for firewood and we were constantly obliged to go half a mile up a steep hill before we could obtain a few stunted bushes to cook with. As the watercourse approached the Broughton the country became much more abrupt and broken, and after its junction with that river, the stream wound through a succession of barren and precipitous hills, for about fifteen miles, at a general course of south-west; these hills were overrun almost everywhere with prickly grass and had patches of the Eucalyptus dumosa scattered over them at intervals.
Up to the point where it left the hills, there were ponds of water in the bed of the Broughton, but upon leaving them the river changed its direction to the northward, passing through extensive plains and retaining a deep wide gravelly channel, but without surface water, the drainage being entirely underground, and the country around comparatively poor and valueless.
SPRING HILL—AN AGED NATIVE DESERTED BY HIS TRIBE—RICH AND EXTENSIVE PLAINS—SURPRISE A PARTY OF NATIVES—ROCKY RIVER—CRYSTAL BROOK—FLINDERS RANGE—THE DEEP SPRING—MYALL PONDS—ROCKY WATER HOLES—DRY WATERCOURSE—REACH THE DEPOT NEAR MOUNT ARDEN—PREPARE FOR LEAVING THE PARTY—BLACK SWANS PASS TO THE NORTH—ARRIVAL OF THE WATERWITCH.
During the night the frost had been so severe, that we were obliged to wait a little this morning for the sun to thaw the tent and tarpaulins before they would bend to fold up. After starting, we proceeded across a high barren open country, for about three miles on a W. N. W. course, passing close under a peak connected with Campbell's range, which I named Spring Hill, from the circumstance of a fine spring of water being found about half way up it.
Not far from the spring I discovered a poor emaciated native, entirely alone, without either food or fire, and evidently left by his tribe to perish there; he was a very aged man, and from hardship and want was reduced to a mere skeleton, how long he had been on the spot where we found him I had no means of ascertaining, but probably for some time, as life appeared to be fast ebbing away; he seemed almost unconscious of our presence, and stared upon us with a vacant unmeaning gaze. The pleasures or sorrows of life were for ever over with him: his case was far beyond the reach of human aid, and the probability is that he died a very few hours after we left him.
Such is the fate of the aged and helpless in savage life, nor can we wonder that it should be so, since self-preservation is the first law of nature, and the wandering native who has to travel always over a great extent of ground to seek for his daily food, could not obtain enough to support his existence, if obliged to remain with the old or the sick, or if impeded by the incumbrance of carrying them with him; still I felt grieved for the poor old man we had left behind us, and it was long before I could drive away his image from my mind, or repress the melancholy train of thoughts that the circumstance had called forth.
From the summit of Spring Hill, I observed extensive plains to the N. W. skirted both on their eastern and western sides, by open hills, whilst to the N. W. and N. E. the ranges were high, and apparently terminated in both directions by peaked summits on their eastern extremes; a little south of west the waters of Spencer's Gulf were distinctly visible, and the smokes ascending from the fires of the natives, were seen in many directions among the hills. After passing Spring Hill, we crossed some rich and extensive plains, stretching far away to the northward, and taking a nearly north and south direction under Campbell's range; in the upper part of these plains is the deep bed of a watercourse with water in it all the year round, and opposite to which, in lat. 33 degrees 14 minutes S, is a practicable pass for drays through Campbell's range, to the grassy country to the eastward.
June 27.—In crossing the southern extremity of these large plains, we came suddenly upon a small party of natives engaged in digging yams of which the plains were full; they were so intent upon their occupation that we were close to them before they were aware of our presence; when they saw us they appeared to be surprised and alarmed, and endeavoured to steal off as rapidly as they could without fairly taking to their heels, for they were evidently either unwilling or afraid to run; finding that we did not molest them they halted, and informed us by signs that we should soon come to water, in the direction we were going. This I knew to be true, and about three o'clock we were in front of a water-course, I had on a former journey named the "Rocky river," from the ragged character of its bed where we struck it.
We had been travelling for some distance upon a high level open country, and now came to a sudden gorge of several hundred feet below us, through which the Rocky river wound its course. It was a most singular and wild looking place, and was not inaptly named by the men, the "Devil's Glen;" looking down from the table land we were upon, the valley beneath appeared occupied by a hundred little hills of steep ascent and rounded summits, whilst through their pretty glens, flowed the winding stream, shaded by many a tree and shrub—the whole forming a most interesting and picturesque scene.
The bed of the watercourse was over an earthy slate, and the water had a sweetish taste. Like most of the Australian rivers, it consisted only of ponds connected by a running stream, and even that ceased to flow a little beyond where we struck it, being lost in the deep sandy channel which it then assumed, and which exhibited in many places traces of very high floods. Below our camp the banks were 50 to 60 feet high, and the width from 60 to 100 yards, its course lay through plains to the south-west, over which patches of scrub were scattered at intervals, and the land in its vicinity was of an inferior description, with much prickly grass growing upon it.
Upwards, the Rocky river, after emerging from the gorges in which we found it, descended through very extensive plains from the north-north-east; there was plenty of water in its bed, and abundance of grass over the plains, so that in its upper parts it offers fine and extensive runs for either cattle or sheep, and will, I have no doubt, ere many years be past, be fully occupied for pastoral purposes.
From our present encampment a very high and pointed hill was visible far to the N.N. W. this from the lofty way in which it towered above the surrounding hills, I named Mount Remarkable. Our latitude at noon was 33 degrees 25 minutes 26 seconds S.
A very beautiful shrub was found this afternoon upon the Rocky river, in full flower: it was a tall slender stalked bush, about six or eight feet high, growing almost in the bed of the river, with leaves like a geranium, and fine delicate lilac flowers about an inch and a half in diameter; here, too, we found the first gum-trees seen upon any of the watercourses for many miles, as all those we had recently crossed, traversed open plains which were quite without either trees or shrubs of any kind.
June 28.—This morning we passed through a country of an inferior description, making a short stage to a watercourse, named by me the "Crystal Brook;" it was a pretty stream emanating from the hills to the north-east, and marked in its whole course through the plains to the northward and westward by lines of gum-trees. The pure bright water ran over a bed of clear pebbles, with a stream nine feet wide, rippling and murmuring like the rivulets of England—a circumstance so unusual in the character of Australian watercourses, that it interested and pleased the whole party far more than a larger river would have done; this characteristic did not, however, long continue, for like all the streams we had lately crossed, the water ceased to flow a short distance beyond our crossing place.
The country below us, like that through which the Rocky river took its course, was open and of an inferior description, but I have no doubt that by tracing the stream upwards, towards its source among the ranges, a good and well watered country would be found; I ascertained the latitude by a meridian altitude at Crystal brook to be 33 degrees 18 minutes 7 seconds S.
The hills on the opposite side of Spencer's Gulf were now plainly visible, and one which appeared to be inland, I took to be the middle Back mountain of Flinders; between our camp and the eastern shores of the gulf, the land was generally low, with a good deal of scrub upon it, and nearer the shores appeared to be swampy, and subject to inundation by the tides.
June 29.—Upon moving from our camp this morning we commenced following under Flinders range. From Crystal brook, the hills rise gradually in elevation as they trend to the northward, still keeping their western slopes almost precipitous to the plains, out of which they appear to rise abruptly. Our course was much embarrassed by the gullies and gorges emanating from the hills, in some of which the crossing place was not very good, and in all the horses got much shaken, so that when we arrived at a large watercourse defined by gum trees, and in which was a round hole of water that had been on a former occasion called by me "The Deep Spring," I halted the party for the night and found that the horses were a good deal fatigued. Fortunately there was excellent food for them, and plenty of water. The place at which we encamped was upon one of the numerous watercourses, proceeding from the gorges of Flinders range. It had a wide gravelly bed, divided into two or three separate channels, but without a drop of water below the base of the hills, excepting where we bivouacked, at this point, there was a considerable extent of rich black alluvial soil, and in the midst of it a mound of jet black earth, surrounded by a few reeds. In the centre of the mound was a circular deep hole containing water, and apparently a spring: the last time I was here, in 1839 it was full to overflowing, but now, though in the depth of winter, I was surprised and chagrined to see the water so much lower than I had known it before. It was covered up too so carefully with bushes and boughs, that it was evident the natives sometimes contemplated its being quite dried up, [Note 3: In October 1842, I again passed this way, in command of a party of Police sent overland to Port Lincoln, to search for Mr. C. C. Dutton: the spring was then dried up completely.] and had taken this means as the best they could adopt for shading and protecting the water. On the other hand the numerous well beaten tracks leading to this solitary pool appeared to indicate that there was no other water in the neighbourhood. We saw kangaroos, pigeons and birds of various descriptions, going to it in considerable number. At night too after dark we found that a party of natives were watching also for an opportunity to participate in so indispensable a necessary, which having secured, they departed, and we saw nothing more of them. I observed the latitude at this camp to be 33 degrees 7 minutes 14 seconds S. and the variation 8 degrees 53 minutes E.