Infomotions, Inc.Expedition into Central Australia / Sturt, Charles, 1795-1869



Author: Sturt, Charles, 1795-1869
Title: Expedition into Central Australia
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): creek; australia; murray; south australia; interior; eastward; darling; lake torrens; natives; sand; miles
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Title: Expedition into Central Australia

Author: Charles Sturt

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EXPEDITION INTO CENTRAL AUSTRALIA

IN 2 VOLUMES. (both in this one eBook)


STURT, CHARLES (1795-1869)



PRODUCTION NOTES:
1. Notes have been placed in square brackets[] where indicated in
   the published text or at the end of the paragraph, as appropriate.
2. Italics in the published text have been capitalised in the eBook,
   with the exception of common and scientific names appearing in the
   appendices at the end of volume 2, which appear in the eBook as
   normal text.
3. Plates and maps have not been included. Plates to both volumess
   have been listed in the Table of Contents.
4. Errata have been corrected. Original text has been placed in
   the eBook between braces{}.



NARRATIVE OF AN EXPEDITION INTO CENTRAL AUSTRALIA PERFORMED UNDER THE
AUTHORITY OF HER MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT, DURING THE YEARS 1844, 5, AND 6,
TOGETHER WITH A NOTICE OF THE PROVINCE OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA IN 1847.


IN 2 VOLUMES.





TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE THE EARL GREY, ETC. ETC. ETC.


MY LORD,

Although the services recorded in the following pages, which your Lordship
permits me to dedicate to you, have not resulted in the discovery of any
country immediately available for the purposes of colonization, I would
yet venture to hope that they have not been fruitlessly undertaken, but
that, as on the occasion of my voyage down the Murray River, they will be
the precursors of future advantage to my country and to the Australian
colonies.

Under present disappointment it must be as gratifying to those who
participated in my labours, as it is to myself to know that they are not
the less appreciated by your Lordship, because they were expended in a
desert.

I can only assure your Lordship, that it has been my desire to give a
faithful description of the country that has been explored, and of the
difficulties attending the task; nor can I refuse myself the anticipation
that the perusal of these volumes will excite your Lordship's interest
and sympathy. I have the honour to be,

My Lord,

Your Lordship's
Most obedient humble servant,
CHARLES STURT.

London, November 21,1848.





NOTICE.

It might have been expected that many specimens, both of Botany and
Ornithology, would have been collected during such an Expedition as that
which the present narrative describes, but the contrary happened to be
the case.

I am proud in having to record the name of my esteemed friend, Mr. Brown,
the companion of Flinders, and the learned author of the "Prodromus Novae
Hollandiae," to whose kindness I am indebted for the Botanical Remarks
in the Appendix.

To my warm-hearted friend, Mr. Gould, whose splendid works are before the
Public, and whose ardent pursuits in furtherance of his ambition, I have
personally witnessed, I owe the more perfect form in which my
ornithological notice appears.

I have likewise to acknowledge, with very sincere feelings, the assistance
I have received from Mr. Arrowsmith, in the construction of my Map,
to whose anxious desire to ensure correctness and professional talent I am
very greatly indebted.

I hope the gentlemen whose names I have mentioned will accept my best
thanks for the assistance they have afforded me in my humble labours. It
is not the least of the gratifications enjoyed by those who are employed
on services similar to which I have been engaged, to be brought more
immediately in connection with such men.

London, November 21, 1848.




CONTENTS



VOLUME I.


CHAPTER I    CHARACTER OF THE AUSTRALIAN CONTINENT--OF ITS RIVERS--
             PECULIARITY OF THE DARLING--SUDDEN FLOODS TO WHICH IT IS
             SUBJECT--CHARACTER OF THE MURRAY--ITS PERIODICAL RISE--BOUNTY
             OF PROVIDENCE--GEOLOGICAL POSITION OF THE TWO RIVERS--
             OBSERVATIONS--RESULTS--SIR THOMAS MITCHELL'S JOURNEY TO THE
             DARLING--ITS JUNCTION WITH THE MURRAY--ANECDOTE OF
             MR. SHANNON--CAPTAIN GREY'S EXPEDITION--CAPTAIN STURT'S
             JOURNEY--MR. EYRE'S SECOND EXPEDITION--VOYAGE OF THE
             BEAGLE--MR. OXLEY'S OPINIONS--STATE OF THE INTERIOR IN 1828--
             CHARACTER OF ITS PLAINS AND RIVERS--JUNCTION OF THE
             DARLING--FOSSIL BED OF THE MURRAY--FORMER STATE OF THE
             CONTINENT--THEORY OF THE INTERIOR.

CHAPTER II   PREPARATIONS FOR DEPARTURE--ARRIVAL AT MOORUNDI--NATIVE
             GUIDES--NAMES OF THE PARTY--SIR JOHN BARROW'S MINUTE--REPORTS
             OF LAIDLEY'S PONDS--CLIMATE OF THE MURRAY--PROGRESS UP THE
             RIVER--ARRIVAL AT LAKE BONNEY--GRASSY PLAINS--CAMBOLI'S
             HOME--TRAGICAL EVENTS IN THAT NEIGHBOURHOOD--PULCANTI--
             ARRIVAL AT THE RUFUS--VISIT TO THE NATIVE FAMILIES--RETURN
             OF MR. EYRE TO MOORUNDI--DEPARTURE OF MR. BROWNE TO
             THE EASTWARD.

CHAPTER III  MR. BROWNE'S RETURN--HIS ACCOUNT OF THE COUNTRY--CHANGE OF
             SCENE--CONTINUED RAIN--TOONDA JOINS THE PARTY--STORY OF THE
             MASSACRE--LEAVE LAKE VICTORIA--ACCIDENT TO FLOOD--TURN
             NORTHWARDS--CROSS TO THE DARLING--MEET NATIVES--TOONDA'S
             HAUGHTY MANNER--NADBUCK'S CUNNING--ABUNDANCE OF FEED--SUDDEN
             FLOODS--BAD COUNTRY--ARRIVAL AT WILLIORARA--CONSEQUENT
             DISAPPOINTMENT--PERPLEXITY--MR. POOLE GOES TO THE RANGES--
             MR. BROWNE'S RETURN--FOOD OF THE NATIVES--POSITION OF
             WILLIORARA.

CHAPTER IV   TOONDA'S TRIBE--DISPOSITION OF THE NATIVES--ARRIVAL OF
             CAMBOLI--HIS ENERGY OF CHARACTER--MR. POOLE'S RETURN--LEAVE
             THE DARLING--REMARKS ON THAT RIVER--CAWNDILLA--THE OLD
             BOOCOLO--LEAVE THE CAMP FOR THE HILLS--REACH A CREEK--WELLS--
             TOPAR'S MISCONDUCT--ASCEND THE RANGES--RETURN HOMEWARDS--
             EAVE CAWNDILLA WITH A PARTY--REACH PARNARI--MOVE TO THE
             HILLS--JOURNEY TO N. WEST--HEAVY RAINS--RETURN TO CAMP--
             MR. POOLE LEAVES--LEAVE THE RANGES--DESCENT TO THE PLAINS--
             MR. POOLE'S RETURN--HIS REPORT--FLOOD'S CREEK--AQUATIC
             BIRDS--RANGES DIMINISH IN HEIGHT.

CHAPTER V    NATIVE WOMEN--SUDDEN SQUALL--JOURNEY TO THE EASTWARD--VIEW
             FROM MOUNT LYELL--INCREASED TEMPERATURE--MR. POOLE'S RETURN--
             HIS REPORT--LEAVE FLOOD'S CREEK--ENTANGLED IN THE PINE
             FOREST--DRIVE THE CATTLE TO WATER--EXTRICATE THE PARTY--STATE
             OF THE MEN--MR. POOLE AND MR. BROWNE LEAVE THE CAMP--PROCEED
             NORTHWARDS--CAPT. STURT LEAVES FOR THE NORTH--RAPID
             DISAPPEARANCE OF WATER--MUDDY CREEK--GEOLOGICAL FORMATION--
             GYPSUM--PUSH ON TO THE RANGES--RETURN TO THE CREEK--AGAIN
             ASCEND THE RANGES--FIND WATER BEYOND THEM--PROCEED TO THE
             W.N.W.--RETURN TO THE RANGES--ANTS AND FLIES--TURN TO THE
             EASTWARD--NO WATER--RETURN TO THE CAMP--MR. POOLE FINDS
             WATER--MACK'S ADVENTURE WITH THE NATIVES--MOVE THE CAMP.

CHAPTER VI   THE DEPOT--FURTHER PROGRESS CHECKED--CHARACTER OF THE
             RANGES--JOURNEY TO THE NORTH-EAST--RETURN--JOURNEY TO THE
             WEST--RETURN--AGAIN PROCEED TO THE NORTH--INTERVIEW WITH
             NATIVES--ARRIVE AT THE FARTHEST WATER--THE PARTY SEPARATES--
             PROGRESS NORTHWARDS--CONTINUE TO ADVANCE--SUFFERINGS OF THE
             HORSE--CROSS THE 28TH PARALLEL--REJOIN MR. STUART--JOURNEY TO
             THE WESTWARD--CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY--FIND TWO PONDS OF
             WATER--THE GRASSY PARK--RETURN TO THE RANG--EXCESSIVE HEAT--
             A SINGULAR GEOLOGICAL FEATURE--REGAIN THE DEPOT.

CHAPTER VII  MIGRATION OF THE BIRDS--JOURNEY TO THE EASTWARD--FLOODED
             PLAINS--NATIVE FAMILY--PROCEED SOUTH, BUT FIND NO WATER--
             AGAIN TURN EASTWARD--STERILE COUNTRY--SALT LAGOON--DISTANT
             HILLS TO THE EAST--RETURN TO THE CAMP--INTENSE HEAT--OFFICERS
             ATTACKED BY SCURVY--JOURNEY TO THE WEST--NO WATER--FORCED TO
             RETURN--ILLNESS OF MR. POOLE--VISITED BY A NATIVE--SECOND
             JOURNEY TO THE EASTWARD--STORY OF THE NATIVE--KITES AND
             CROWS--ERECT A PYRAMID ON MOUNT POOLE--PREPARATIONS FOR A
             MOVE--INDICATIONS OF RAIN--INTENSE ANXIETY--HEAVY RAIN--
             MR. POOLE LEAVES WITH THE HOME RETURNING PARTY--BREAK UP THE
             DEPOT--MR. POOLE'S SUDDEN DEATH--HIS FUNERAL--PROGRESS
             WESTWARD--THE JERBOA--ESTABLISHMENT OF SECOND DEPOT--NATIVE
             GLUTTONY--DISTANT MOUNTAINS SEEN--REACH LAKE TORRENS--
             EXAMINATION OF THE COUNTRY N.W. OF IT--RETURN TO THE DEPOT--
             VISITED BY NATIVES--PREPARATIONS FOR DEPARTURE AGAIN INTO THE
             NORTHWEST INTERIOR.

CHAPTER VIII LEAVE THE DEPOT FOR THE NORTH-WEST--SCARCITY OF WATER--FOSSIL
             LIMESTONE--ARRIVE AT THE FIRST CREEK--EXTENSIVE PLAINS--
             SUCCESSION OF CREEKS--FLOODED CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY--POND
             WITH FISH--STERILE COUNTRY--GRASSY PLAINS--INTREPID NATIVE--
             COUNTRY APPARENTLY IMPROVES--DISAPPOINTMENTS--WATER FOUND--
             APPEARANCE OF THE STONY DESERT--NIGHT THEREON--THE EARTHY
             PLAIN--HILLS RAISED BY REFRACTION--RECOMMENCEMENT OF THE SAND
             RIDGES--THEIR UNDEVIATING REGULARITY--CONJECTURES AS TO THE
             DESERT--RELATIVE POSITION OF LAKE TORRENS--CONCLUDING
             REMARKS.

CHAPTER IX   FLOOD'S QUICK SIGHT--FOREST FULL OF BIRDS--NATIVE WELL--
             BIRDS COLLECT TO DRINK--DANGEROUS PLAIN--FLOOD'S HORSE
             LOST--SCARCITY OF WATER--TURN NORTHWARD--DISCOVER A LARGE
             CREEK--BRIGHT PROSPECTS--SUDDEN DISAPPOINTMENT--SALT LAGOON--
             SCARCITY OF WATER--SALT WATER CREEK--CHARACTER OF THE
             INTERIOR--FORCED TO TURN BACK--RISK OF ADVANCING--THE
             FURTHEST NORTH--RETURN TO AND EXAMINATION OF THE CREEK--
             PROCEED TO THE WESTWARD--DREADFUL COUNTRY--JOURNEY TO THE
             NORTH--AGAIN FORCED TO RETURN--NATIVES--STATION ON THE
             CREEK--CONCLUDING REMARKS.


PLATES TO VOLUME I.

Chaining over the Sandhills
Sketch of the Route
Sunset on the Murray
Colonel Gawler's Camp on the Murray
Ana-branch of the Darling
Mus Conditor
Parnari
Lower put of the Rocky Glen
Geological formation of the Ranges
Put of the Northern Range
General appearance of the Northern Ranges at their termination
Native Village
The Depot Glen
Milvus Affinis
Water Hole
Red Hill, or Mount Poole
Mr. Poole's Grave
Lake Torrens
Pond with Fish
Native Well

* * * * *

Mr. Arrowsmith, has prepared a large Map of Captain Sturt's routes into
the centre of Australia, from the original protractions and other official
documents, now in his hands.

On this Map are delineated the whole of the details resulting from his
numerous route,--the dates marking his daily progress--the description
of the country--its dip-the depressed Stony Desert, which is probably the
great northern prolongation of the Torrens Basin of Mr. Eyre,--&c. &c. &c.

This Map in two sheets may be had in a cover, price 7 shillings.



VOLUME II.


CHAPTER I    REFLECTIONS ON OUR DIFFICULTIES--COMMENCE THE RETREAT--EYRE'S
             CREEK--PASS THE NATIVE WELL--RECROSS THE STONY DESERT--FIND
             ANOTHER WELL WITHOUT WATER--NATIVES--SUCCESSFUL FISHING--
             VALUE OF SHEEP--DECIDE ON A RETREAT--PROPOSE THAT MR. BROWNE
             SHOULD LEAVE--HIS REFUSAL TO DESERT THE PARTY--MR. BROWNE'S
             DECISION--PREPARE TO LEAVE THE CAMP--REMARKS ON THE CLIMATE--
             AGAIN LEAVE THE DEPOT--SINGULAR EXPLOSION--DISCOVER A LARGE
             CREEK--PROCEED TO THE NORTH--RECURRENCE OF SAND RIDGES--SALT
             WATER LAKE--AGAIN STRIKE THE STONY DESERT--ATTEMPT TO
             CROSS IT.

CHAPTER II   THE HORSES--ASCEND THE HILLS--IRRESOLUTION AND RETREAT--
             HORSES REDUCED TO GREAT WANT--UNEXPECTED RELIEF--TRY THE
             DESERT TO THE N.E.--FIND WATER IN OUR LAST WELL--REACH THE
             CREEK--PROCEED TO THE EASTWARD--PLAGUE OF FLIES AND ANTS--
             SURPRISE AN OLD MAN--SEA-GULLS AND PELICANS--FISH--POOL OF
             BRINE--MEET NATIVES--TURN TO THE N.E.--COOPER'S CREEK TRIBE,
             THEIR KINDNESS AND APPEARANCE--ATTEMPT TO CROSS THE PLAINS--
             TURN BACK--PROCEED TO THE NORTHWARD--EFFECTS OF REFRACTION--
             FIND NATIVES AT OUR OLD CAMP AND THE STORES UNTOUCHED--
             COOPER'S CREEK, ITS GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION.

CHAPTER III  CONTINUED DROUGHT--TERRIFIC EFFECT OF HOT WIND--THERMOMETER
             BURSTS--DEATH OF POOR BAWLEY--FIND THE STOCKADE DESERTED--
             LEAVE FORT GREY FOR THE DEPOT--DIFFERENCE OF SEASONS--
             MIGRATION OF BIRDS--HOT WINDS--EMBARRASSING POSITION--
             MR. BROWNE STARTS FOR FLOOD'S CREEK--THREE BULLOCKS SHOT--
             COMMENCEMENT OF THE RETREAT--ARRIVAL AT FLOOD'S CREEK--STATE
             OF VEGETATION--EFFECTS OF SCURVY--ARRIVE AT ROCKY GLEN--
             COMPARISON OF NATIVE TRIBES--HALT AT CARNAPAGA--ARRIVAL AT
             CAWNDILLA--REMOVAL TO THE DARLING--LEAVE THE DARLING--STATE
             OF THE RIVER--OPPRESSIVE HEAT--VISITED BY NADBUCK--ARRIVAL
             AT MOORUNDI.

CHAPTER IV   REMARKS ON THE SEASON--DRY STATE OF THE ATMOSPHERE--
             THERMOMETRICAL OBSERVATIONS--WINDS IN THE INTERIOR--DIRECTION
             OF THE RANGES--GEOLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS--NON-EXISTENCE OF ANY
             CENTRAL CHAIN--PROBABLE COURSE OF THE STONY DESERT--WHETHER
             CONNECTED WITH LAKE TORRENS--OPINIONS OF CAPTAIN FLINDERS--
             NO INFORMATION DERIVED FROM THE NATIVES--THE NATIVES--THEIR
             PERSONAL APPEARANCE--DISPROPORTION BETWEEN THE SEXES--THE
             WOMEN--CUSTOMS OF THE NATIVES--THEIR HABITATIONS--FOOD--
             LANGUAGE--CONCLUSION.


AN ACCOUNT OF THE SEA COAST AND INTERIOR OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA;
WITH OBSERVATIONS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS CONNECTED WITH ITS INTERESTS.

CHAPTER I    DUTIES OF AN EXPLORER--GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION OF SOUTH
             AUSTRALIA--DESCRIPTION OF ITS COAST LINE--SEA MOUTH OF THE
             MURRAY--ENTERED BY MR. PULLEN--RISK OF THE ATTEMPT--
             BEACHING--ROSETTA HARBOUR--VICTOR HARBOUR--NEPEAN BAY--
             KANGAROO ISLAND--KINGSCOTE--CAPT. LEE'S INSTRUCTIONS FOR
             PORT ADELAIDE--PORT ADELAIDE--REMOVAL TO THE NORTH ARM--
             HARBOUR MASTER'S REPORT--YORKE'S PENINSULA--PORT LINCOLN--
             CAPT. LEE'S INSTRUCTIONS--BOSTON ISLAND--BOSTON BAY--
             COFFIN'S BAY--MR. CAMERON SENT ALONG THE COAST--HIS REPORT--
             POSITION OF PORT ADELAIDE.

CHAPTER II   PLAINS OF ADELAIDE--BRIDGES OVER THE TORRENS--SITE OF
             ADELAIDE--GOVERNMENT HOUSE BUILDINGS AND CHURCHES--SCHOOLS--
             POLICE--ROADS--THE GAWLER--BAROSSA RANGE--THE MURRAY BELT--
             MOORUNDI--NATIVES ON THE MURRAY--DISTANT STOCK STATIONS--
             MOUNT GAMBIER DISTRICT--ITS RICHNESS--ASCENT TO MOUNT LOFTY--
             MOUNT BARKER DISTRICT--SCENE IN HINDMARSH VALLEY--PROPORTION
             OF SOIL IN THE PROVINCE--PASTORAL AND AGRICULTURAL--
             PORT LINCOLN--CLIMATE OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA--RANGE OF THE
             THERMOMETER--SALUBRITY.

CHAPTER III  SEASONS--CAUSE WHY SOUTH AUSTRALIA HAS FINE GRAIN--EXTENT OF
             CULTIVATION--AMOUNT OF STOCK--THE BURRA-BURRA MINE--ITS
             MAGNITUDE--ABUNDANCE OF MINERALS--ABSENCE OF COAL--SMELTING
             ORE--IMMENSE PROFITS OF THE BURRA-BURRA--EFFECT OF THE MINES
             ON THE LABOUR MARKET--RELUCTANCE OF THE LOWER ORDERS TO
             EMIGRATE--DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CANADA AND AUSTRALIA--THE
             AUSTRALIAN COLONIES--STATE OF SOCIETY--THE MIDDLE CLASSES--
             THE SQUATTERS--THE GERMANS--THE NATIVES--AUTHOR'S INTERVIEWS
             WITH THEM--INSTANCES OF JUST FEELING--THEIR BAD QUALITIES--
             PERSONAL APPEARANCE--YOUNG SETTLERS ON THE MURRAY--
             CONCLUSION.


MR. KENNEDY'S SURVEY OF THE RIVER VICTORIA


APPENDIX

ANIMALS
BIRDS
NO. I.  LIST OF SPECIMENS, AND THE NAMES OF THE VARIOUS ROCKS,
        COLLECTED DURING THE EXPEDITION
NO. II. LOCALITIES OF THE DIFFERENT GEOLOGICAL SPECIMENS,
        COLLECTED BY THE CENTRAL AUSTRALIAN EXPEDITION
BOTANICAL APPENDIX, BY R. BROWN, ESQ., D.C.L., F.R.S., F.L.S, &C.



PLATES TO VOLUME II.


View from Stanley's Range
Native Grave
Cooper's Creek
Geophaps plumifera
Strzelecki's Creek
Mr. Eyre's House at Moorundi
Piesse's Knob
King William Street, Adelaide
Port Adelaide
Mount Bryan
Murray River
Cinclosoma Cinnamoneus



ERRATA

Errata have been corrected. Original text has been placed in
the eBook between braces{}.


* * * * * * *





VOLUME I




PREFACE.



The prominent part I have taken in the furtherance of Geographical
Discovery on the Australian continent, and the attention, it will
naturally be supposed, I have paid to the subject generally, will lead
the reader perhaps to expect that I should, at the commencement of a work
such as this, put him in possession of all the facts, with which I myself
am acquainted, as to the character of those portions of it, which had
been explored, before I commenced my recent labours. This may reasonably
be expected from me by my readers, not only to enable them to follow me
into the heartless desert from which, it may still be said, I have so
lately returned, with that distinctness which can alone secure interest
to my narrative; but, also, to judge whether the conclusions at which I
arrived, and upon which I acted, were such as past experience ought to
have led me to adopt.

It has struck me forcibly that such information would undoubtedly be
desirable, not only to render my own details clearer, but to explain my
views, since I should exceedingly regret that any imputation of rashness
or inconsistency were laid to my charge; or if it was thought, I had
volunteered hazardous and important undertakings, for the love of
adventure alone.

The field of Ambition, professionally speaking, is closed upon the
soldier during the period of his service in New South Wales. Had it been
otherwise, however, no more honourable a one could have been open to me,
when I landed on its shores in 1826, than the field of Discovery. I
sought and entered upon it, not without a feeling of ambition I am ready
to admit, for that feeling should ever pervade the breast of a soldier,
but also with an earnest desire to promote the public good, and certainly
without the hope of any other reward than the credit due to successful
enterprise. I pretend not to science, but I am a lover of it; and to my
own exertions, during past years of military repose, I owe the little
knowledge I possess of those branches of it, which have since been so
useful to me.

It will not be deemed presumptuous in me, I trust, to express a belief
that the majority of my readers will find much to interest them in the
perusal of this work; which I publish for several reasons--firstly, in
the hope, that a knowledge of the extremities to which I was driven, and
of the unusual expedients to which I was obliged to resort, in order to
save myself and my companions from perishing, may benefit those who shall
hereafter follow my example; secondly, that as I published an account of
my former services, my failing to do so in the present instance might be
taken as evidence that I lacked the moral firmness which enables men to
meet both success and defeat with equal self-possession; and thirdly,
because, I think the public has a right to demand information from those,
who, like myself, have been employed in the advancement of geographical
knowledge. I propose, therefore, to devote my preliminary chapter to a
short review of previous Expeditions of Discovery on the Australian
continent, and so to lay down its internal features, that my friends
shall not lose their way.

I propose, also, to give an account of the state of South Australia when
I left it in May last, for, as the expedition whose proceedings form the
subject matter of these volumes, departed from and returned to that
Province, such an account appears to me a fitting sequel to my narrative.




TRAVELS IN AUSTRALIA



CHAPTER I.



CHARACTER OF THE AUSTRALIAN CONTINENT--OF ITS RIVERS--PECULIARITY OF THE
DARLING--SUDDEN FLOODS TO WHICH IT IS SUBJECT--CHARACTER OF THE MURRAY
--ITS PERIODICAL RISE--BOUNTY OF PROVIDENCE--GEOLOGICAL POSITION OF THE
TWO RIVERS--OBSERVATIONS--RESULTS--SIR THOMAS MITCHELL'S JOURNEY TO THE
DARLING--ITS JUNCTION WITH THE MURRAY--ANECDOTE OF MR. SHANNON--CAPTAIN
GREY'S EXPEDITION--CAPTAIN STURT'S JOURNEY--MR. EYRE'S SECOND
EXPEDITION--VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE--MR. OXLEY'S OPINIONS--STATE OF THE
INTERIOR IN 1828--CHARACTER OF ITS PLAINS AND RIVERS--JUNCTION OF THE
DARLING--FOSSIL BED OF THE MURRAY--FORMER STATE OF THE CONTINENT--THEORY
OF THE INTERIOR.

The Australian continent is not distinguished, as are many other
continents of equal and even of less extent, by any prominent
geographical feature. Its mountains seldom exceed four thousand feet in
elevation, nor do any of its rivers, whether falling internally or
externally, not even the Murray, bear any proportion to the size of the
continent itself. There is no reason, however, why rivers of greater
magnitude, than any which have hitherto been discovered in it, should not
emanate from mountains of such limited altitude, as the known mountains
of that immense and sea-girt territory. But, it appears to me, it is not
in the height and character of its hilly regions, that we are to look for
the causes why so few living streams issue from them. The true cause, I
apprehend, lies in its climate, in its seldom experiencing other than
partial rains, and in its being subject to severe and long continued
droughts. Its streams descend rapidly into a country of uniform equality
of surface, and into a region of intense heat, and are subject, even at a
great distance from their sources, to sudden and terrific floods, which
subside, as the cause which gave rise to them ceases to operate; the
consequence is, that their springs become gradually weaker and weaker,
all back impulse is lost, and whilst the rivers still continue to support
a feeble current in the hills, they cease to flow in their lower
branches, assume the character of a chain of ponds, in a few short weeks
their deepest pools are exhausted by the joint effects of evaporation and
absorption, and the traveller may run down their beds for miles, without
finding a drop of water with which to slake his thirst.

In illustration of the above, I would observe that during the progress of
the recent expedition up the banks of the Darling, and at a distance of
more than 300 miles from its sources, that river rose from a state of
complete exhaustion, until in four days it overflowed its banks. It was
converted in a single night, from an almost dry channel, into a foaming
and impetuous stream, rolling along its irresistible and turbid waters,
to add to those of the Murray.

There can be no doubt, but, that this sudden rise in the river, was
caused by heavy rains on the mountains, in which its tributaries are to
be found, for the Darling does not receive any accession to its waters
below their respective junctions, of sufficient magnitude to account for
such an occurrence. [Note 1. below]

[Note 1. The principal tributaries of the Darling, are the Kindur, the
Keraula, the Namoy, and the Gwydir. They are beautiful mountain streams,
and rise in the hilly country, behind Moreton Bay, in lat. 27 degrees,
and in longitude 152 degrees E.]

When, on the return of the expedition homewards the following year, some
two months later in the season than that of which I have just been
speaking, Oct. 1844, there had been no recurrence of the flood of the
previous year, but the Darling was at a still lower ebb than before, and
every lagoon, and creek in its vicinity had long been exhausted and
waterless. [Note 2. below] Now, it is evident, as far as I can judge, that
if the rains of Australia were as regular as in other countries, its
rivers would also be more regular in their flow, and would not present the
anomaly they now do, of being in a state of rapid motion at one time,
and motionless at another.

[Note 2. It may be necessary to warn my readers that a creek in
the Australian colonies, is not always an arm of the sea. The same term
is used to designate a watercourse, whether large or small, in which the
winter torrents may or may not have left a chain of ponds. Such a
watercourse could hardly be called a river, since it only flows during
heavy rains, after which it entirely depends on the character of the soil,
through which it runs, whether any water remains in it or not.]

A lagoon is a shallow lake, it generally constitutes the back water of
some river, and is speedily dried up. In Australia, there is no surface
water, properly so called, of a permanent description.]

But, although I am making these general observations on the rivers, and
to a certain extent of climate of Australia, I would not be understood to
mean more than that its seasons are uncertain, and that its summers are
of comparatively long duration.

In reference to its rivers also, the Murray is an exception to the other
known rivers of this extensive continent. The basins of that fine stream
are in the deepest recesses of the Australian Alps--which rise to an
elevation of 7000 feet above the sea. The heads of its immediate
tributaries, extend from the 36th to the 32nd parallel of latitude, and
over two degrees of longitude, that is to say, from the 146 degrees to
the 148 degrees meridian, but, independently of these, it receives the
whole westerly drainage of the interior, from the Darling downwards.
Supplied by the melting snows from the remote and cloud-capped chain in
which its tributaries rise, the Murray supports a rapid current to the
sea. Taking its windings into account, its length cannot be less than
from 1300 to 1500 miles. Thus, then, this noble stream preserves its
character throughout its whole line. Uninfluenced by the sudden floods to
which the other rivers of which we have been speaking are subject, its
rise and fall are equally gradual. Instead of stopping short in its
course as they do, its never-failing fountains have given it strength to
cleave a channel through the desert interior, and so it happened, that,
instead of finding it terminate in a stagnant marsh, or gradually
exhausting itself over extensive plains as the more northern streams do,
I was successfully borne on its broad and transparent waters, during the
progress of a former expedition, to the centre of the land in which I
have since erected my dwelling.

As I have had occasion to remark, the rise and fall of the Murray are
both gradual. It receives the first addition to its waters from the
eastward, in the month of July, and rises at the rate of an inch a day
until December, in which month it attains a height of about seventeen
feet above its lowest or winter level. As it rises it fills in succession
all its lateral creeks and lagoons, and it ultimately lays many of its
flats under water.

The natives look to this periodical overflow of their river, with as much
anxiety as did ever or now do the Egyptians, to the overflowing of the
Nile. To both they are the bountiful dispensation of a beneficent
Creator, for as the sacred stream rewards the husbandman with a double
harvest, so does the Murray replenish the exhausted reservoirs of the
poor children of the desert, with numberless fish, and resuscitates
myriads of crayfish that had laid dormant underground; without which
supply of food, and the flocks of wild fowl that at the same time cover
the creeks and lagoons, it is more than probable, the first navigators of
the Murray would not have heard a human voice along its banks; but so it
is, that in the wide field of nature, we see the hand of an over-ruling
Providence, evidences of care and protection from some unseen quarter,
which strike the mind with overwhelming conviction, that whether in the
palace or in the cottage, in the garden, or in the desert, there is an
eye upon us. Not to myself do I accord any credit in that I returned from
my wanderings to my home. Assuredly, if it had not been for other
guidance than the exercise of my own prudence, I should have perished:
and I feel satisfied the reader of these humble pages, will think as I do
when he shall have perused them.

An inspection of the accompanying chart, will shew that the course of the
Murray, as far as the 138 degrees meridian is to the W.N.W., but that, at
that point, it turns suddenly to the south, and discharges itself into
Lake Victoria, which again communicates with the ocean, in the bight of
Encounter Bay. This outlet is called the "Sea mouth of the Murray," and
immediately to the eastward of it, is the Sand Hill, now called Barker's
Knoll--under which the excellent and amiable officer after whom it is
named fell by the hands of the natives, in the cause of geographical
research.

Running parallel with its course from the southerly bend, or great N.W.
angle of the Murray, there is a line of hills, terminating southwards, at
Cape Jarvis; but, extending northwards beyond the head of Spencer's Gulf.
These hills contain the mineral wealth of South Australia, and
immediately to the westward of them is the fair city of Adelaide.

On gaining the level interior, the Murray passes through a desert country
to the 140 degrees meridian, when it enters the great fossil formation,
of which I shall have to speak hereafter. In lat. 34 degrees, and in
long. 142 degrees, the Darling forms a junction with it; consequently, as
that river rises in latitude 27 degrees, and in long. 152 degrees, its
direct course will be about S.W. There is a distance of nine degrees of
latitude, therefore, between their respective sources, and, as the
Darling forms a considerable angle with the Murray at this junction, it
necessarily follows, as I have had occasion to remark, that the two
rivers must receive all the drainage from the eastward, falling into that
angle. If I have been sufficiently clear in explaining the geographical
position and character of these two rivers, which in truth almost make an
island of the S.E. angle of the Australian continent, it will only remain
for me to add in this place, that neither the Murray nor the Darling
receive any tributary stream from the westward or northward, and at the
time at which I commenced my last enterprise, the Darling was the
boundary of inland discovery, if I except the journey of my gallant
friend Eyre, to Lake Torrens, and the discovery by him of the country
round Mount Serle. Sir Thomas Mitchell had traced the Darling, from the
point at which I had been obliged from the want of good water to abandon
it, in 1828, to lat. 32 degrees 26 minutes, and had marked down some
hills to the westward of it. Still I do not think that I detract from his
merit, and I am sure I do not wish to do so, when I say that his having
so marked them can hardly be said to have given us any certain knowledge
of the Cis-Darling interior.

More than sixteen years had elapsed from the period when I undertook the
exploration of the Murray River, to that at which I commenced my
preparations for an attempt to penetrate Central Australia. Desolate,
however, as the country for the most part had been, through which I
passed, my voyage down that river had been the forerunner of events I
could neither have anticipated or foreseen. I returned indeed to Sydney,
disheartened and dissatisfied at the result of my investigations. To all
who were employed in that laborious undertaking, it had proved one of the
severest trial and of the greatest privation; to myself individually it
had been one of ceaseless anxiety. We had not, as it seemed, made any
discovery to gild our enterprise, had found no approximate country likely
to be of present or remote advantage to the Government by which we had
been sent forth; the noble river on whose buoyant waters we were hurried
along, seemed to have been misplaced, through such an extent of desert
did it pass, as if it was destined thus never to be of service to
civilized man, and for a short time the honour of a successful
undertaking, as far as human exertion could ensure it, was all that
remained to us after its fatigues and its dangers had terminated, as the
reader will conclude from the tenour of the above passage; for, although
at the termination of the Murray, we came upon a country, the aspect of
which indicated more than usual richness and fertility, we were unable,
from exhausted strength, to examine it as we could have wished, and thus
the fruits of our labours appeared to have been taken from us, just as we
were about to gather them. But if, amidst difficulties and
disappointments of no common description, I was led to doubt the wisdom
of Providence, I was wrong. The course of events has abundantly shewn how
presumptuous it is in man to question the arrangements of that Allwise
Power whose operations and purposes are equally hidden from us, for in
six short years from the time when I crossed the Lake Victoria, and
landed on its shores, that country formed another link in the chain of
settlements round the Australian continent, and in its occupation was
found to realize the most sanguine expectations I had formed of it. Its
rich and lovely valleys, which in a state of nature were seldom trodden
by the foot of the savage, became the happy retreats of an industrious
peasantry; its plains were studded over with cottages and corn-fields;
the very river which had appeared to me to have been so misplaced, was
made the high road to connect the eastern and southern shores of a mighty
continent; the superfluous stock of an old colony was poured down its
banks into the new settlement to save it from the trials and vicissitudes
to which colonies, less favourably situated, have been exposed; and
England, throughout her wide domains, possessed not, for its extent, a
fairer or a more promising dependency than the province of South
Australia. Such, there can be no doubt, have been the results of an
expedition from which human foresight could have anticipated no practical
good.

During my progress down the Murray River I had passed the junction of a
very considerable stream with it [Note 3. The Darling], in lat. 34 degrees
8 minutes and long. 142 degrees. Circumstances, however, prevented my
examining it to any distance above its point of union with the main river.
Yet, coming as it did, direct from the north, and similar as it was to the
Darling in its upper branches, neither had I, nor any of the men then with
me, and who had accompanied me when I discovered the Darling in 1828, the
slightest doubt as to its identity. Still, the fact might reasonably be
disputed by others, more especially as there was abundant space for the
formation of another river, between the point where I first struck the
Darling and this junction.

It was at all events a matter of curious speculation to the world at
large, and was a point well worthy of further investigation. Such
evidently was the opinion of her Majesty's Government at the time, for in
accordance with it, in the year 1835, Sir Thomas Mitchell, the
Surveyor-General of the colony of New South Wales, was directed to lead
an expedition into the interior, to solve the question, by tracing the
further course of the Darling. This officer left Sydney in May, 1835, and
pushing to the N.W. gradually descended to the low country on which the
Macquarie river all but terminates its short course. In due time he
gained the Bogan river (the New Year's Creek of my first expedition, and
so called by my friend, Mr. Hamilton Hume, who accompanied me as my
assistant, because he crossed it on that day), and tracing it downwards
to the N. W., Sir Thomas Mitchell ultimately gained the banks of the
Darling, where I had before been upon it, in latitude 30 degrees. He then
traced it downwards to the W.S.W {S.S.W. in published text} to latitude
32 degrees 26 seconds. At this point he determined to abandon all further
pursuit of the river, and he accordingly returned to Sydney, in
consequence, as he informs us, of his having ascertained that just below
his camp a small stream joined the Darling from the westward. The
Surveyor-General had noticed distant hills also to the west; and it is
therefore to be presumed that he here gave up every hope of the Darling
changing its course for the interior, and of proving that I was wrong
and that he was right. The consequence, however, was, that he left the
matter as much in doubt as before, and gained but little additional
knowledge of the country to the westward of the river.

In the course of the following year Sir Thomas Mitchell was again sent
into the interior to complete the survey of the Darling. On this
occasion, instead of proceeding to the point at which he had abandoned
it, the Surveyor-General followed the course of the Lachlan downwards,
and crossing from that river to the Murrumbidgee, from it gained the
banks of the Murray. In due time he came to the disputed junction, which
he tells us he recognised from its resemblance to a drawing of it in my
first work. As I have since been on the spot, I am sorry to say that it
is not at all like the place, because it obliges me to reject the only
praise Sir Thomas Mitchell ever gave me; but I mention the circumstance
because it gives me the opportunity to relate an anecdote, connected with
the drawing, in which my worthy and amiable friend, Mr. Shannon, a
clergyman of Edinburgh, and a very popular preacher there, but who is now
no more, took a chief part. I had lost the original drawing of the
junction of the Murray, and having very imperfect vision at the time I
was publishing, I was unable to sketch another. It so happened that Mr.
Shannon, who sketched exceedingly well with the pen, came to pay me a
visit, when I asked him to try and repair my loss, by drawing the
junction of the Darling with the Murray from my description. This he did,
and this is the view Sir Thomas Mitchell so much approved. I take no
credit to myself for faithfulness of description, for the features of the
scene are so broad, that I could not but view them on my memory; but I
give great credit to my poor friend, who delineated the spot, so as that
it was so easily recognised. It only shews how exceedingly useful such
things are in books, for if Sir Thomas Mitchell had not so recognised the
view, he might have doubted whether that was really the junction of the
Darling or not, for he had well nigh fallen into the mistake of thinking
that he had discovered another river, when he came upon the Darling the
year before, and had as much difficulty in finding a marked tree of Mr.
Hume's upon its banks, as if it had been a needle in a bundle of straw.
Fortunately, however, the Surveyor-General was enabled to satisfy himself
as to this locality, and he accordingly left the Murray, and traced the
junction upwards to the north for more than eight miles, when he was
suddenly illuminated. A ray of light fell upon him, and he became
convinced, as I had been, of the identity of this stream with the
Darling, and suddenly turning his back upon it, left the question as much
in the dark as before. Neither did he therefore on this occasion, throw
any light on the nature and character of the distantinterior.

In the year 1837 the Royal Geographical Society, assisted by Her
Majesty's Government, despatched an expedition under the command of
Lieuts. afterwards Captains Grey and Lushington--the former of whom has
since been Governor of South Australia, and is at the present moment
Governor in Chief of New Zealand--to penetrate into the interior of the
Australian continent from some point on the north-west or west coast; but
those gentlemen were unable to effect such object. The difficulties of
the country were very great, and their means of transport extremely
limited; and in consequence of successive untoward events they were
ultimately obliged to abandon the enterprise, without any satisfactory
result. But I should be doing injustice to those officers, more
particularly to Captain Grey, if I did not state that he shewed a degree
of enthusiasm and courage that deserve the highest praise.

As, however, both Sir Thomas Mitchell and Capt. Grey [Note 4. Journals of
Expeditions of Discovery in North-West and Western Australia, during the
years 1837-8-9, by Captain George Grey.] have published accounts of their
respective expeditions, it may not be necessary for me to notice them,
beyond that which may be required to connect my narrative and to keep
unbroken the chain of geographical research upon the continent.

In the year 1838, I myself determined on leading a party overland from
New South Wales to South Australia, along the banks of the Murray; a
journey that had already been successfully performed by several of my
friends, and among the rest by Mr. Eyre. They had, however, avoided the
upper branches of the Murray, and particularly the Hume, by which name
the Murray itself is known above the junction of the Murrumbidgee with
it. Wishing therefore to combine geographical research with my private
undertaking, I commenced my journey at the ford where the road crosses
the Hume to Port Phillip, and in so doing connected the whole of the
waters of the south-east angle of the Australian continent.

In this instance, however, as in those to which I have already alluded,
no progress was made in advancing our knowledge of the more central parts
of the continent.

In the year 1839 Mr. Eyre, now Lieutenant-Governor of New Zealand, fitted
out an expedition, and under the influence of the most praiseworthy
ambition, tried to penetrate into the interior from Mount Arden; but,
having descended into the basin of Lake Torrens, he was baffled at every
point. Turning, therefore, from that inhospitable region, he went to Port
Lincoln, from whence he proceeded along the line of the south coast to
Fowler's Bay, the western limit of the province of South Australia.

He then determined on one of those bold movements, which characterise all
his enterprises, and leaving the coast, struck away to the N.E. for Mount
Arden along the Gawler Range; but the view from the summit of that rugged
line of hills, threw darkness only on the view he obtained of the distant
interior, and he returned to Adelaide without having penetrated further
north than 29 degrees 30 minutes, notwithstanding the unconquerable
perseverance and energy he had displayed.

In the following year, the colonists of South Australia, with the
assistance of the local government, raised funds to equip another
expedition to penetrate to the centre of the continent, the command of
which was entrusted to the same dauntless officer. On the morning on
which he was to take his departure, from the fair city of Adelaide,
Colonel Gawler, the Governor, gave a breakfast, to which he invited most
of the public officers and a number of the colonists, that they might
have the opportunity of thus collectively bidding adieu to one who had
already exerted himself so much for the public good.

Few, who were present at that breakfast will ever forget it, and few who
were there present, will refuse to Colonel Gawler the mead of praise due
to him, for the display on that occasion of the most liberal and generous
feelings. It was an occasion on which the best and noblest sympathies of
the heart were roused into play, and a scene during which many a bright
eye was dim through tears.

Some young ladies of the colony, amongst whom were Miss Hindmarsh and
Miss Lepson, the one the daughter of the first Governor of the province,
the other of the Harbour-master, had worked a silken union to present to
Mr. Eyre, to be unfurled by him in the centre of the continent, if
Providence should so far prosper his undertaking, and it fell to my lot,
at the head of that fair company, to deliver it to him.

When that ceremony was ended, prayers were read by the Colonial Chaplain,
after which Mr. Eyre mounted his horse, and escorted by a number of his
friends, himself commenced a journey of almost unparalleled difficulty
and privation [Note 5. Journals of Expeditions of Discovery into Central
Australia, and Overland from Adelaide to King George's Sound, in the years
1840 and 41, by E. J. Eyre, Esq.]--a journey, which, although not
successful in its primary objects, yet established the startling fact,
that there is not a single watercourse to be found on the South coast of
Australia, from Port Lincoln to King George's Sound, a distance of more
than 1500 miles. To what point then, let me ask, does the drainage of the
interior set? It is a question of deep interest to all--a question bearing
strongly on my recent investigations, and one that, in connection with
established facts, will, I think, enable the reader to draw a reasonable
conclusion, as to the probable character of the country, which is hid from
our view by the adamantine wall which encircles the great Australian
bight.

On this long and remarkable journey, Mr. Eyre again found it impossible
to penetrate to the north, but steadily advancing to the westward, he
ultimately reached the confines of Western Australia, with one native
boy, and one horse only. Neither, however, did this tremendous
undertaking throw any light on the distant interior, and thus it almost
appeared that its recesses were never to be entered by civilized man.

From this time neither the government of South Australia, or that of New
South Wales, made any further effort to push geographical inquiry, and
all interest in it appeared to have past away.

It remains for me to observe, however, that, whilst these attempts were
being made to prosecute inland discovery, Her Majesty's naval service was
actively employed upon the coast. Captain Wickham, in command of the
Beagle, was carrying on a minute survey of the intertropical shores of
the continent, which led to the discovery of two considerable rivers, the
Victoria and the Albert, the one situated in lat. 14 degrees 26 minutes
S. and long. 129 {139 in published text} degrees 22 minutes E., the other
in lat. 17 degrees 35 minutes and long. 139 degrees 54 minutes;
but in tracing these up to lat. 15 degrees 30 minutes and 17 degrees
58 minutes, and long. 130 degrees 50 minutes and 139 degrees
28 minutes respectively, no elevated mountains were seen, nor
was any opening discovered into the interior. Captain Wickham
having retired, the command of the Beagle devolved on Lieut. now
Captain Stokes, to whose searching eye the whole of the coast was more or
less subjected, and who approached nearer to the centre than any one had
ever done before [Note 6. below], but still no light was thrown on
that hidden region; and the efforts which had been made both on land and
by water, were, strictly speaking, unsuccessful, to push to any conclusive
distance from the settled districts on the one hand, or from the coast
into the interior on the other. Reasoning was lost in conjecture, and men,
even those most interested in it, ceased to talk on the subject.

[Note 6. Discoveries in Australia, and Expeditions into the Interior,
surveyed during the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, between the years 1837
and 43, by Captain J. Lort Stokes.]

It may not be of any moment to the public to be made acquainted with the
cause which led me, after a repose of more than fourteen years, to seek
the field of discovery once more. It will be readily admitted, that from
the part, as I have observed in my preface, which I had ever taken in the
progress of Geographical Discovery on the Australian continent, I must
have been deeply interested in its further developement.

I had adopted an impression, that this immense tract of land had formerly
been an archipelago of islands, and that the apparently boundless plains
into which I had descended on my former expeditions, were, or rather had
been, the sea-beds of the channels, which at that time separated one
island from the other; it was impossible, indeed, to traverse them as I
had done, and not feel convinced that they had at one period or the other
been covered by the waters of the sea. It naturally struck me, that if I
was correct in this conjecture, the difficulty or facility with which the
interior might be penetrated, would entirely depend on the breadth and
extent of these once submarine plains, which in such case would now
separate the available parts of the continent from each another, as when
covered with water they formerly separated the islands. This hypothesis,
if I may so call it, was based on observations which, however erroneous
they may appear to be, were made with an earnest desire on my part to
throw some light on the apparently anomalous structure of the Australian
interior. No one could have watched the changes of the country through
which he passed, with more attention than did I--not only from a natural
curiosity, but from an anxious desire to acquit myself to the
satisfaction of the Government by which I was employed.

When Mr. Oxley, the first Surveyor-General of New South Wales, a man of
acknowledged ability and merit, pushed his investigations into the
interior of that country, by tracing down the rivers Lachlan and
Macquarie, he was checked in his progress westward by marshes of great
extent, beyond which he could not see any land. He was therefore led to
infer that the interior, to a certain extent, was occupied by a shoal
sea, of which the marshes were the borders, and into which the rivers he
had been tracing discharged themselves.

My friend, Mr. Allan Cunningham, who was for several years resident in
New South Wales, and who made frequent journeys into the interior of the
continent as botanist to his late Majesty King George IV. and who also
accompanied Captain P. P. King, during his survey of its intertropical
regions, if he did not accompany Mr. Oxley also on one of his
expeditions, strongly advocated the hypothesis of that last-mentioned
officer; but as Mr. Cunningham kept on high ground on his subsequent
excursions, he could not on such occasions form a correct opinion as to
the nature of the country below him. His impressions were however much
influenced by the observations made by Captain King in Cambridge Gulf,
the water of which was so much discoloured, as to lead that intelligent
and careful officer to conclude, that it might prove to be the outlet of
the waters of the interior, and hence a strong opinion obtained, that the
dip of the continent was in the direction of that great inlet, or to the
W. N. W. I therefore commenced my investigations, under an impression
that I should be led to that point, in tracing down any river I might
discover, and that sooner or later I should be stopped by a large body of
inland waters. I descended rapidly from the Blue Mountains, into a level
and depressed interior, so level indeed, that an altitude of the sun,
taken on the horizon, on several occasions, approximated very nearly to
the truth. The circumference of that horizon was unbroken, save where an
isolated hill rose above it, and looked like an island in the ocean.

When I reached the point at which Mr. Oxley had been checked, I found the
Macquarie, not "running bank high," as he describes it, but almost dry;
and although ten years had passed since his visit to this distant spot,
the grass had not yet grown over the foot-path, leading from his camp to
the river; nor had a horse-shoe that was found by one of the men lost its
polish. In this locality there are two hills, to which Mr. Oxley gave the
names of Mount Harris and Mount Foster, distant from each other about
five miles, on a bearing of 45 degrees to the west of south. Of these two
hills Mount Foster is the highest and the nearest, and as the Macquarie
runs between them to the westward, it must also be closer than Mount
Harris to the marshes. I therefore naturally looked for any discovery
that was to be made from Mount Foster, and I according ascended that hill
just as the sun was setting. I looked in vain however for the region of
reeds and of water, which Mr. Oxley had seen to the westward; so
different in character were the seasons, and the state of the country at
the different periods in which the Surveyor-General and I visited it.
From the highest point I could gain I watched the sun descend; but I
looked in vain for the glittering of a sea beneath him, nor did the sky
assume that glare from reflected light which would have accompanied his
setting behind a mass of waters. I could discover nothing to intercept me
in my course. I saw, it is true, a depressed and dark region in the line
of the direction in which I was about to go. The terrestrial line met the
horizon with a sharp and even edge, but I saw nothing to stay my
progress, or to damp my hopes. As I had observed the country from Mount
Foster, so I found it to be when I advanced into it. I experienced little
difficulty therefore in passing the marshes of the Macquarie, and in
pursuing my course to the N. W. traversed plains of great extent, until
at length I gained the banks of the Darling, in lat. 30 degrees. S. and
in long. 146 degrees. E. This river, instead of flowing to the N. W. led
me to the S. W.; but I was ultimately obliged to abandon it in
consequence of the saltness of its waters. I could not, however, fail to
observe that the plains over which I had wandered were wholly deficient
in timber of any magnitude or apparently of any age, excepting the trees
which grew along the line of the rivers; that the soil of the plains was
sandy, and the productions almost exclusively salsolaceous. Their extreme
depression, indeed their general level, since they were not more than 250
or 300 feet above the level of the sea, together with their general
aspect, instinctively, as it were, led the mind to the conviction that
they had, at a comparatively recent period, been covered by the ocean. On
my return to the Blue Mountains, and on a closer examination of the
streams falling from them into the interior, I observed that at a certain
point, and that too nearly on the same meridian, they lost their
character as rivers, and soon after gaining the level interior,
terminated in marshes of greater or less extent; and I further remarked
that at certain points, and that too where the channels of the rivers
seemed to change, certain trees, as the swamp oak, casuarina, and others
ceased, or were sparingly to be found on the lower country--a fact that
may not be of any great importance in itself, but which it is still as
well to record. The field, however, over which I wandered on this
occasion was too limited to enable me to draw any conclusions applicable
to so large a tract of land as the Australian continent. On this, my
first expedition, I struck the Darling River twice, 1st, as I have stated
in latitude 30 degrees S. and in long. 146 degrees; and seconndly, in
lat. 30 degrees 10 minutes 0 seconds S., and in long. 147 degrees
30 minutes E. From neither of these points was any elevation visible to
the westward of that river, but plains similar to those by which I had
approached it continued beyond the range of vision or telescope from the
highest trees we could ascend; beyond the Darling, therefore, all was
conjecture.

At the close of the year 1829, I was again sent into the interior to
trace its streams and to ascertain the further course of the Darling. I
proceeded on this occasion to the south of Sydney, and intersecting the
Murrumbidgee, a river at that time but little known, but which Mr. Hume
had crossed, in lat. 35 degrees 10 minutes, and long. 147 degrees 28
minutes 30 seconds E., on his journey to the south coast, at a very early
period of discovery, and which thereabouts is a clear, rapid and
beautiful stream. I traced it downwards to the west to lat. 34 degrees 44
minutes, and to long. 143 degrees 5 minutes 0 seconds E. or thereabouts,
having taken to my boats a few miles above the junction of the Lachlan
with it, in lat. 34 degrees 25 minutes 0 seconds and in long. 144 degrees
3 minutes E.; having at that point left all high lands 200 miles behind
me, and being then in a low and depressed country, precisely similar to
that over which I had crossed the previous year. As on the first
expedition, so on the present one, I descended rapidly into a country of
general equality of surface; reeds grew in extensive patches along the
line of the river, but beyond them sandy plains extended, covered with
salsolae of various kinds. From the Murrumbidgee, I passed into the
Murray, the largest known river in Australia, unless one of greater
magnitude has recently been discovered by Sir Thomas Mitchell to the
north.

In lat. 34 degrees and in long. 142 degrees, I arrived, (as I have
already had occasion to inform my readers), at the junction of a very
considerable stream with the Murray. At this point, being then 200 miles
distant from the south coast in a direct line, I was less than 100 feet
above the level of the sea; circumstances prevented my examining this new
river however for many miles above its junction with the main stream, but
coming, as I have elsewhere remarked, direct from the north, and
possessing, as it did, all the character and appearance of the Upper
Darling, I had no doubt as to its identity; in which case no stronger
fact could have been adduced to prove the southerly fall or dip of the
interior as far as it had been explored. Proceeding down the Murray, I
reached at length the commencement of the great fossil formation, through
which that river flows. This immense bed rose gradually before me as I
pushed to the westward, until it gained an elevation of from 2 to 250
feet, but on my turning southward, it presented an horizontal and
undulating surface, until at the point at which the river enters the Lake
Victoria, it suddenly dipped and ceased. The lower part of this formation
was entirely composed of Serritullae, but every description of shell with
the bones and teeth of sharks and other animals, have subsequently been
found in the upper parts of the bed, the summit of which is in many
places covered with oyster shells so little changed by time, as to appear
as if they had only just been thrown in a heap on the ground they occupy.

The general appearance of the country through which I had passed, and the
numerous deposits of fine sand upon the face of it, like sea dunes, still
more convinced me, that, when the events which had produced such a change
in the physical structure of the continent took place, a current of some
description or other must have swept over the interior from the
northward; and that this current had deposited the great fossil bed where
it now rests; for I cannot conceive that such a mass and mixture of
animal remains could have been heaped together in any other way. From the
outline of this bed, it struck me that some natural obstacle or other had
checked the detritus, brought down by the current, as sand and gravel are
checked and accumulated against a log or other impediment athwart a
stream, presenting a gradual ascent on the side next the current and a
sudden fall on the other. Such, in truth, is the apparent form of the
great fossil bed of the Murray. This idea, which struck me as I journeyed
down the river, was strengthened, when at a lower part of it I observed a
ridge of coarse red granite, running across the channel of the river, and
disappearing under the fossil formation on either side of it. It appeared
to me to be probable that this ridge of granite might rise higher in
other places, and that stretching across the current as it did, that is
to say from west to east, the great accumulation of fossil and other
remains had been gradually deposited against it, forming a gradual ascent
on the northern side of the ridge, and a precipitous fall upon the other.

I have already observed that at a particular point the rivers of the
interior, which I had traced on my first expedition, appeared to lose
their character as such, and that they soon afterwards ceased in some
extensive marsh, the evaporation and absorption over such extensive
surfaces being greater than the supply of water they received. This point
is about 250 or 300 feet above the level of the sea, and if we draw a
line eastward, from the summit of the fossil formation, and prolong it to
the western base of the Blue Mountains, we shall find that it will pass
over the marshes of the several rivers falling into the interior, and
will strike these rivers where their channels appear to fail, as if that
had been the former sea-level.

The impressions I have on this interesting subject are clear enough in my
own mind, but they are difficult to explain, and I fear I have but ill
expressed myself so as to be understood by my readers. I only wish
however to record my own ideas, and if I am in error in any particular, I
shall thank any one of the many who are better versed in these matters
than myself to correct me.

I have stated in a former part of this chapter, that I undertook a
journey to South Australia in 1838. I advert to the circumstance again
because it is connected with the present inquiry. After I had turned the
north-west angle of the Murray, and had proceeded southwards to latitude
34 degrees 26 minutes (Moorundi), where Mr. Eyre has built a residence, I
turned from the river to the westward, along the summit of the fossil
formation, which, at the distance of a few miles, was succeeded by
sandstone, and this rock again, as we gained the hills, by a fine slate,
and this again, as we crossed the Mount Barker and Mount Lofty ranges, by
a succession of igneous rocks, of a character and form such as could not
but betray to a less experienced geologist even than myself the abundant
mineral veins they contained. On descending to the plains of Adelaide I
again crossed sandstone, and to my surprise discovered that the city of
Adelaide stood on the same kind of fossil formation I had left behind me
on the banks of the Murray, and it was on the discovery of this fact that
the probability of the Australian continent having once been an
archipelago of islands first occurred to me.

A more intimate acquaintance with the opinions of Flinders, as to the
probable character of the interior of the continent, from the character
and appearance of the coast along the Great Australian Bight; the
information I have collected as to the extent of the fossil bed, and my
own past experience, have led me to the following general conclusions.
That the continent of Australia has been subjected to great changes from
subigneous agency, and that it has been bodily raised, if I may so
express myself, to its present level above the sea; that, as far as we
can judge, the north and N.E. portions of the continent are higher than
the southern or S.W. parts of it, and that there has consequently been a
current or rush of waters, from the one point to the other--that this
current was divided in its progress into two branches, by hills, or some
other intervening obstacle, and that one branch of it, following the line
of the Darling, discharged itself into the sea, through the opening
between the western shores of Encounter Bay and Cape Bernouilli; that the
other, taking a more westerly direction, escaped through the Great
Australian Bight. From what I could judge, the desert I traversed is
about the breadth of that remarkable line of coast, and I am inclined to
think that it (the desert) retains its breadth the whole way, as it comes
gradually round to the south, thus forming a double curve, from the Gulf
of Carpentaria, on the N.E. angle of the continent, to the Great Bight on
its south-west coast; but my readers will, as they advance into my
narrative, see the grounds upon which I have rested these ideas. If such
an hypothesis is correct, it necessarily follows, that the north and
north-west coasts of the Continent were once separated from the south and
east coasts by water; and as I have stated my impression that the current
from the north, passed through vast openings, both to the eastward and
westward of the province of South Australia, it as necessarily follows,
that that province must also have been an island. I hope it will be
understood that I started with the supposition that the continent of
Australia was formerly an archipelago of islands, but that some
convulsion, by which the central land has been raised, has caused the
changes I have suggested. It was still a matter of conjecture what the
real character of Central Australia really was, for its depths had been
but superficially explored before my recent attempt. My own opinion, when
I commenced my last expedition, inclined me to the belief, and perhaps
this opinion was fostered by the hope that such would prove to be the
case, as well as by the reports of the distant natives, which invariably
went to confirm it, that the interior was occupied by a sea of greater or
less extent, and very probably by large tracts of desert country.

With such a conviction I commenced my recent labours, although I was not
prepared for the extent of desert I encountered--with such a conviction I
returned to the abodes of civilized man. I am still of opinion that there
is more than one sea in the interior of the Australian continent, but
such may not be the case. All I can say is, Would that I had discovered
such a feature, for I could then have done more upon its waters tenfold,
than I was enabled to accomplish in the gloomy and burning deserts over
which I wandered during more than thirteen months. My readers, however,
will judge for themselves as to the probable correctness of my views, and
also as to the probable character of the yet unexplored interior, from
the data the following pages will supply. I have recorded my own
impressions with great diffidence, claiming no more credit than may
attach to an earnest desire to make myself useful, and to further
geographical research. My desire is faithfully to record my own feelings
and impulses under peculiar embarrassments, and as faithfully to describe
the country over which I wandered.

My career as an explorer has probably terminated for ever, and only in
the cause of humanity, had any untoward event called for my exertions,
would I again have left my home. I wish not to hide from my readers the
disappointment, if such a word can express the feeling, with which I
turned my back upon the centre of Australia, after having so nearly
gained it; but that was an achievement I was not permitted to accomplish.




CHAPTER II.



PREPARATIONS FOR DEPARTURE--ARRIVAL AT MOORUNDI--NATIVE GUIDES--NAMES OF
THE PARTY--SIR JOHN BARROW'S MINUTE--REPORTS OF LAIDLEY'S PONDS--CLIMATE
OF THE MURRAY--PROGRESS UP THE RIVER--ARRIVAL AT LAKE BONNEY--GRASSY
PLAINS--CAMBOLI'S HOME--TRAGICAL EVENTS IN THAT NEIGHBOURHOOD--PULCANTI--
ARRIVAL AT THE RUFUS--VISIT TO THE NATIVE FAMILIES--RETURN OF MR. EYRE
TO MOORUNDI--DEPARTURE OF MR. BROWNE TO THE EASTWARD.


Entertaining the views I have explained in my last chapter, I wrote in
January, 1843, to Lord Stanley, at that time Her Majesty's principal
Secretary of State for the Colonies, tendering my services to lead an
expedition from South Australia into the interior of the Australian
continent. As I was personally unknown to Lord Stanley, I wrote at the
same time to Sir Ralph Darling, under whose auspices I had first
commenced my career as an explorer, to ask his advice on so important an
occasion. Immediately on the receipt of my letter, Sir Ralph addressed a
communication to the Secretary of State, in terms that induced his
Lordship to avail himself of my offer.

In May, 1844, Captain Grey, the Governor of South Australia, received a
private letter from Lord Stanley, referring to a despatch his Lordship
had already written to him, to authorise the fitting out of an expedition
to proceed under my command into the interior. This despatch, however,
did not come to hand until the end of June, but on the receipt of it
Captain Grey empowered me to organise an expedition, on the modified plan
on which Lord Stanley had determined.

Aware as I was of the importance of the season in such a climate as that
of Australia, I had written both to the Secretary of State, and to Sir
Ralph Darling, so that I might have time after the receipt of replies
from Europe, in the event of my proposals being favourably entertained,
to make my preparations, and commence my journey at the most propitious
season of the year, but my letter to Sir Ralph Darling unfortunately
miscarried, and did not reach him until three months after its arrival in
England. The further delay which took place in the receipt of Lord
Stanley's despatch, necessarily threw it late in the season before I
commenced my preparations for the long and trying task that was before
me. By the end of July, however, my arrangements were completed, and my
party organised, and only awaited the decision of Mr. John Browne, the
younger of two brothers who were independent settlers in the province,
whose services I was anxious to secure as the medical officer to the
expedition, to fix on the day when it should leave Adelaide.

On the 4th of the month (August), I saw Mr. W. Browne, who informed me
that his brother had determined to accept my proposals, and that he would
join me with the least possible delay; upon which I felt myself at
liberty to make definitive arrangements, and to direct that the main body
of the expedition should commence its journey on Saturday, the 10th. On
the morning of that day I attended a public breakfast, to which I had
been invited by the colonists, at the conclusion of which the party,
under the charge of Mr. L. Piesse (who subsequently acted as storekeeper)
proceeded to the Dry Creek, a small station about five miles from
Adelaide. At that place he halted for the night. Mr. Browne not having
yet joined me, I kept Davenport, one of the men, who was to attend on the
officers, with a riding horse for his use, and the spring cart (in which
the instruments were to be carried), for the purpose of forwarding his
baggage to the Murray, on the banks of which the party was to muster.

I have said that on the 10th of August I attended a public breakfast, to
which I and my party had been invited by the colonists, on the occasion
of our quitting the capital. I may be permitted in these humble pages to
express my gratitude to them for the kind and generous sympathy they have
ever evinced in my success in life, as well as the delicacy and
consideration which has invariably marked the expression of their
sentiments towards me. If, indeed, I have been an instrument, in the
hands of Providence, in bringing about the speedier establishment of the
province of South Australia, I am thankful that I have been permitted to
witness the happiness of thousands whose prosperity I have unconsciously
promoted. Wherever I may go, to whatever part of the world my destinies
may lead me, I shall yet hope one day to return to my adopted home, and
make it my resting-place between this world and the next. When I went
into the interior I left the province with storm-clouds overhanging it,
and sunk in adversity. When I returned the sun of prosperity was shining
on it, and every heart was glad. Providence had rewarded a people who had
borne their reverses with singular firmness and magnanimity. Their
harvest fields were bowed down by the weight of grain; their pastoral
pursuits were prosperous; the hills were yielding forth their mineral
wealth, and peace and prosperity prevailed over the land. May the
inhabitants of South Australia continue to deserve and to receive the
protection of that Almighty power, on whose will the existence of nations
as well as that of individuals depends!

Not having had time as yet to attend to my own private affairs, I was
unable to leave Adelaide for a few days after the departure of Mr.
Piesse. A similar cause prevented Mr. James Poole, who was to act as my
assistant, from accompanying the drays. On the 12th Mr. Browne arrived in
Adelaide, when he informed me that he had remained in the country to give
over his stock, and to arrange his affairs, to prevent the necessity of
again returning to his station. He had now, therefore, nothing to do but
to equip himself, when he would be ready to accompany me. When I wrote to
Mr. Browne, offering him the appointment of medical officer to the
expedition, I was personally unacquainted with him, but I was aware that
he enjoyed the respect and esteem of every one who knew him, and that he
was in every way qualified for the enterprise in which I had invited him
to join. Being an independent settler, however, I doubted whether he
could, consistently with his own interests, leave his homestead on a
journey of such doubtful length as that which I was about to commence.
The spirit of enterprise, however, outweighed any personal consideration
in the breast of that resolute and intelligent officer, and I had every
reason to congratulate myself in having secured the services of one whose
value, under privation, trial, and sickness, can only be appreciated by
myself.

The little business still remaining for us to do was soon concluded, and
as Mr. Browne assured me that it would not take more than two or three
days to enable him to complete his arrangements, I decided on our final
departure from Adelaide on the 15th of the month; for having received my
instructions I should then have nothing further to detain me. That day,
therefore, was fixed upon as the day on which we should start to overtake
the party on its road to Moorundi. The sun rose bright and clear over my
home on the morning of that day. It was indeed a morning such as is only
known in a southern climate; but I had to bid adieu to my wife and
family, and could but feebly enter into the harmony of Nature, as
everything seemed joyous around me.

I took breakfast with my warm-hearted friend, Mr. Torrens, and his wife,
who had kindly invited a small party of friends to witness my departure;
but although this was nominally a breakfast, it was six in the afternoon
before I mounted my horse to commence my journey. My valued friend, Mr.
Cooper, the Judge, had returned to Adelaide early in the day, but those
friends who remained accompanied us across the plain lying to the north
of St. Clare, to the Gawler Town road, where we shook hands and parted.

We reached Gawler Town late at night, and there obtained intelligence
that the expedition had passed Angus Park all well. I also learnt that
Mr. Calton, the master of the hotel, had given the men a sumptuous
breakfast as they passed through the town, and that they had been cheered
with much enthusiasm by the people.

On the 16th we availed ourselves of the hospitality of Mrs. Bagot, whose
husband was absent on his legislative duties in Adelaide, to stay at her
residence for a night. Nothing however could exceed the kindness of the
reception we met from Mrs. Bagot and the fair inmates of her house.

On the 17th we turned to the eastward for the Murray, under the guidance
of Mr. James Hawker, who had a station on the river. At the White Hut,
Mr. Browne, who had left me at Gawler Town, to see his sister at Lyndoch
Valley, rejoined me; and at a short distance beyond it, we overtook the
party in its slow but certain progress towards the river. At the Dust
Hole, another deserted sheep station on the eastern slope of the
mountains, I learnt that Flood, an old and faithful follower of mine,
whom I had added to the strength of the expedition at the eleventh hour,
was at the station. He was one of the most experienced stockmen in the
colonies, and intimately acquainted with the country. I had sent him to
receive over 200 sheep I had purchased from Mr. Dutton, which I proposed
taking with me instead of salt meat. He had got to the Dust Hole in
safety with his flock, and was feeding them on the hills when I passed.
The experiment I was about to make with these animals was one of some
risk; but I felt assured, that under good management, they would be of
great advantage. Not however to be entirely dependent on the sheep, I
purchased four cwt. of bacon from Mr. Johnson of the Reed Beds, near
Adelaide, by whom it had been cured; and some of that bacon I brought
back with me as sweet and fresh as when it was packed, after an exposure
of eighteen months to an extreme of heat that was enough to try its best
qualities. I was aware that the sheep might be lost by negligence, or
scattered in the event of any hostile collision with the natives; but I
preferred trusting to the watchfulness of my men, and to past experience
in my treatment of the natives, rather than to overload my drays. The
sequel proved that I was right. Of the 200 sheep I lost only one by coup
de soleil. They proved a very valuable supply, and most probably
prevented the men from suffering, as their officers did, from that
fearful malady the scurvy.

I had them shorn before delivery, to prepare them for the warmer climate
into which I was going. And I may here remark, although I shall again
have to allude to it, that their wool did not grow afterwards to any
length. It ceased indeed to grow altogether for many months, nor had they
half fleeces after having been so long as a year and a half unshorn.

I did not see Flood at the Dust Hole; but continuing my journey, entered
the belt of the Murray at 1 p.m., and reached Moorundi just as the sun
set, after a ride of four hours through those dreary and stunted brushes.

My excellent friend, Mr. Eyre, had been long and anxiously expecting us.
Altogether superior to any unworthy feeling of jealousy that my services
had been accepted on a field in which he had so much distinguished
himself, and on which he so ardently desired to venture again, his
efforts to assist us were as ceaseless as they were disinterested.
Whatever there was of use in his private store, whether publicly
beneficial or for our individual comfort, he insisted on our taking. He
had had great trouble in retaining at Moorundi two of the most
influential natives on the river to accompany us to Williorara (Laidley's
Ponds). Mr. Eyre was quite aware of the importance of such attachees, and
had spared no trouble in securing their services. Their patience however
had almost given way, and they had threatened to leave the settlement
when fortunately we made our appearance, and all their doubts as to our
arrival vanished. Nothing but jimbucks (sheep) and flour danced before
their eyes, and they looked with eager impatience to the approach of the
drays.

These two natives, Camboli and Nadbuck, were men superior to their
fellows, both in intellect and in authority. They were in truth two fine
specimens of Australian aborigines, stern, impetuous, and determined,
active, muscular, and energetic. Camboli was the younger of the two, and
a native of one of the most celebrated localities on the Murray. It bears
about N.N.E. from Lake Bonney, where the flats are very extensive, and
are intersected by numerous creeks and lagoons. There, consequently, the
population has always been greater than elsewhere on the Murray, and the
scenes of violence more frequent. Camboli was active, light-hearted, and
confiding, and even for the short time he remained with us gained the
hearts of all the party.

Nadbuck was a man of different temperament, but with many good qualities,
and capable of strong attachments. He was a native of Lake Victoria, and
had probably taken an active part in the conflicts between the natives
and overlanders in that populous part of the Murray river. He had
somewhat sedate habits, was restless, and exceedingly fond of the FAIR
sex. He was a perfect politician in his way, and of essential service to
us. I am quite sure, that so long as he remained with the party, he would
have sacrificed his life rather than an individual should have been
injured. I shall frequently have to speak of this our old friend Nadbuck,
and will not therefore disturb the thread of my narrative by relating any
anecdote of him here. It may be enough to state that he accompanied us to
Williorara, even as he had attended Mr. Eyre to the same place only a few
weeks before, and that when he left us he had the good wishes of all
hands.

In the afternoon of the day following that of our arrival at Moorundi,
Mr. Piesse arrived with the drays, and drew them up under the fine
natural avenue that occupies the back of the river to the south of Mr.
Eyre's residence. Shortly afterwards Davenport arrived with the light
cart, having the instruments and Mr. Browne's baggage. Flood also came up
with the sheep, so that the expedition was now complete, and mustered in
its full force for the first time, and consisted as follows of officers,
men, and animals:--

    Captain Sturt, LEADER.
    Mr. James Poole, ASSISTANT.
    Mr. John Harris Browne, SURGEON.
    Mr. M'Dougate Stuart, DRAFTSMAN.
    Mr. Louis Piesse, STOREKEEPER.
    Daniel Brock, COLLECTOR.
    George Davenport,) SERVANTS
    Joseph Cowley,   )
    Robert Flood, STOCKMAN.
    David Morgan, WITH HORSES.
    Hugh Foulkes,              )
    John Jones,                )
    ---- Turpin,               ) BULLOCK DRIVERS
    William Lewis, sailor,     )
    John Mack                  )
    John Kerby, WITH SHEEP.

11 horses; 30 bullocks; 1 boat and boat carriage; 1 horse dray; 1 spring
cart; 3 drays. 200 sheep; 4 kangaroo dogs; 2 sheep dogs.

The box of instruments sent from England for the use of the expedition
had been received, and opened in Adelaide. The most important of them
were two sextants, three prismatic compasses, two false horizons, and a
barometer. One of the sextants was a very good instrument, but the
glasses of the other were not clear, and unfortunately the barometer was
broken and useless, since it had the syphon tube, which could not be
replaced in the colony. I exceedingly regretted this accident, for I had
been particularly anxious to carry on a series of observations, to
determine the level of the interior. I manufactured a barometer, for the
tube of which I was indebted to Captain Frome, the Surveyor-General, and
I took with me an excellent house barometer, together with two brewer's
thermometers, for ascertaining the boiling point of water on Sykes'
principle. The first of the barometers was unfortunately broken on the
way up to Moorundi, so that I was a second time disappointed.

It appears to me that the tubes of these delicate instruments are not
secured with sufficient care in the case, that the corks placed to steady
them are at too great intervals, and that the elasticity of the tube is
consequently too great for the weight of mercury it contains. The
thermometers sent from England, graduated to 127 degrees only, were too
low for the temperature into which I went, and consequently useless at
times, when the temperature in the shade exceeded that number of degrees.
One of them was found broken in its case, the other burst when set to try
the temperature, by the over expansion of mercury in the bulb.

The party had left Adelaide in such haste that it became necessary before
we should again move, to rearrange the loads. On Monday, the 18th,
therefore I desired Mr. Piesse to attend to this necessary duty, and not
only to equalize the loads on the drays, and ascertain what stores we
had, but to put everything in its place, so as to be procured at a
moment's notice.

The avenue at Moorundi presented a busy scene, whilst the men were thus
employed reloading the drays and weighing the provisions. Morgan, who had
the charge of the horse cart, had managed to snap one of the shafts in
his descent into the Moorundi Flat, and was busy replacing it. Brock, a
gunsmith by trade, was cleaning the arms. Others of the men were
variously occupied, whilst the natives looked with curiosity and
astonishment on all they saw. At this time, however, there were not many
natives at the settlement, since numbers of them had gone over the Nile,
to make their harvest on the settlers.

On Monday I sent Flood into Adelaide with despatches for the Governor,
and with letters for my family, as well as to bring out some few trifling
things we had overlooked, and as Mr. Piesse reported to me on that day
that the drays were reloaded, I directed him, after I had inspected them,
to lash down the tarpaulines, and to warn the men to hold themselves in
readiness to proceed on their journey at 8 a.m. on the following
morning--for, as I purposed remaining at Moorundi with Mr. Eyre until
Flood should return, I was unwilling that the party should lose any time,
and I therefore thought it advisable to send the drays on, under Mr.
Poole's charge, until such time as I should overtake him. The spirit
which at this time animated the men ensured punctuality to any orders
that were given to them. Accordingly the bullocks were yoked up, and all
hands were at their posts at early dawn. As, however, I was about to
remain behind for a few days, it struck me that this would be a
favourable opportunity on which to address the men. I accordingly
directed Mr. Poole to assemble them, and with Mr. Eyre and Mr. Browne
went to join him in the flat, a little below the avenue. I then explained
to them that I proposed remaining at Moorundi for a few days after their
departure. I thought it necessary, in giving them over into Mr. Poole's
charge, to point out some of the duties I expected from them.

That in the first place I had instructed Mr. Poole to mount a guard of
two men every evening at sunset, who were to remain on duty until
sun-rise; that I expected the utmost vigilance from this guard, and that
as the safety of the camp would depend on their attention, I should
punish any neglect with the utmost severity. I then adverted to the
natives, and interdicted all intercourse with them, excepting with my
permission. That as I attributed many of the acts of violence that had
been committed on the river to this irritating source, so I would strike
the name of any man who should disobey my orders in this respect off the
strength of the party from that moment, and prevent his receiving a
farthing of pay; or whoever I should discover encouraging any of the
natives, but more particularly the native women, to the camp. I next drew
the attention of the men to themselves, and pointed out to them the ill
effects of discord, expressing my hope that they would be cheerful and
ready to assist one another, and that harmony would exist in the camp;
that I expected the most ready obedience from all to their superiors; and
that, in such case, they would on their part always find me alive to
their comforts, and to their interests. I then confirmed Mr. Piesse in
his post as store-keeper; gave to Flood the general superintendence of
the stock; to Morgan the charge of the horses, and to each bullock-driver
the charge of his own particular team. To Brock I committed the sheep,
with Kirby and Sullivan to assist, and to Davenport and Cowley (Joseph)
the charge of the officers' tents. I then said, that as they might now be
said to commence a journey, from which none of them could tell who would
be permitted to return, it was a duty they owed themselves to ask the
blessing and protection of that Power which alone could conduct them in
safety through it; and having read a few appropriate prayers to the men
as they stood uncovered before me, I dismissed them, and told Mr. Poole
he might move off as soon as he pleased. The scene was at once changed.
The silence which had prevailed was broken by the cracks of whips, and
the loud voices of the bullock-drivers. The teams descended one after the
other from the bank on which they had been drawn up, and filed past
myself and Mr. Eyre, who stood near me, in the most regular order. The
long line reached almost across the Moorundi flat, and looked extremely
well. I watched it with an anxiety that made me forgetful of everything
else, and I naturally turned my thoughts to the future How many of those
who had just passed me so full of hope, and in such exuberant spirits,
would be permitted to return to their homes? Should I, their leader, be
one of those destined to remain in the desert, or should I be more
fortunate in treading it than the persevering and adventurous officer
whose guest I was, and who shrank from the task I had undertaken. My eyes
followed the party as it ascended the gully on the opposite side of the
flat, and turned northwards, the two officers leading, until the whole
were lost to my view in the low scrub into which it entered. I was
unconscious of what was passing around me, but when I turned to address
my companions, I found that I was alone. Mr. Eyre, and the other
gentlemen who had been present, had left me to my meditations.

In the afternoon Kusick, one of the mounted police, arrived with
despatches from the Governor, and letters from my family. He had met
Flood at Gawler Town, whose return, therefore, we might reasonably expect
on the Friday.

Amongst the first purchases that had been made was a horse for the
service of the expedition, which had not very long before been brought in
from Lake Victoria, Nadbuck's location, distant nearly 200 miles from
Adelaide, where he had been running wild for some time. This horse was
put into the government paddock at Adelaide when bought, but he took the
fence some time during the night and disappeared, nor could he be traced
anywhere. Luckily, however, Kusick had passed the horses belonging to the
settlers at Moorundi, feeding at the edge of the scrub upon the cliffs,
and amongst them had recognised this animal, which had thus got more than
90 miles back to his old haunt. He had, however, fallen into a trap, from
which I took care he should not again escape; but we had some difficulty
in running him in and securing him.

Prior to the departure of the expedition from Adelaide, a considerable
quantity of rain had fallen there. Since our arrival at Moorundi also we
could see heavy rain on the hills, although no shower fell in the valley
of the Murray. Kusick informed us that he had been in constant rain, and
it was evident, from the dense and heavy clouds hanging upon them, that
it was still pouring in torrents on the ranges. We feared, therefore, and
it eventually proved to be the case, that Flood would not be able to
cross the Gawler on his return to us. He was, in fact, detained a day in
consequence of the swollen state of that little river, but swam his horse
over on the following day, at considerable risk both to himself and his
animal. He did not, in consequence, reach us until Saturday. In
anticipation, however, of his return on that day, we had sent Kenny, the
policeman stationed at Moorundi who was to accompany Mr. Eyre, up the
river in advance of us at noon, with Tampawang, the black boy I intended
taking with me, and had everything in readiness to follow them, as soon
as Flood should arrive. He did not, however, reach Moorundi until 5 p.m.
It took me some little time to reply to the communications he had
brought, but at seven we mounted our horses, and leaving Flood to rest
himself, and to exchange his wearied animal for the one we had recovered,
with Tenbury in front, left the settlement. The night was cold and
frosty, but the moon shone clear in a cloudless sky, so that we were
enabled to ride along the cliffs, from which we descended to one of the
river flats at 1 a.m. and, making a roaring fire, composed ourselves to
rest.

It may here be necessary, before I enter on any detail of the proceedings
of the expedition, to explain the general nature of my instructions, the
object of the expedition, and the reasons why, in some measure, contrary
to the opinion of the Secretary of State, I preferred trying the interior
by the line of the Darling, rather than by a direct northerly route from
Mount Arden.

As the reader will have understood, I wrote, in the year 1843, to Lord
Stanley, the then colonial minister, volunteering my services to conduct
an expedition into Central Australia. It appeared to his Lordship as well
as to Sir John Barrow, to whom Lord Stanley referred my report, that the
plan I had proposed was too extensive, and it was therefore determined to
adopt a more modified one, and to limit the resources of the expedition
and the objects it was to keep in view, to a certain time, and to the
investigation of certain facts. After expressing his opinion as to the
magnitude of the undertaking I had contemplated, "There is, however,"
says Sir J. Barrow, in a minute to the Secretary of State, "a portion of
the continent of Australia, to which he (Captain Sturt) adverts, that may
be accomplished, and in a reasonable time and at a moderate expense.

"He says, if a line be drawn from lat. 29 degrees 30 minutes and long.
146 degrees, N.W., and another from Mount Arden due north, they will meet
a little to the northward of the tropic, and there, I will be bound to
say, a fine country will be discovered. On what data he pledges himself
to the discovery of this fine country is not stated. It may, however, be
advisable to allow Mr. Sturt to realize the state of this fine country.

"This, however, is not to be done by pursuing the line of the Darling to
the latitude of Moreton Bay, which would lead him not far from the
eastern coast, where there is nothing of interest to be discovered, nor
does it appear advisable to pursue the Darling to the point to which he
and Major Mitchell have already been, for this reason. His preparations
will, no doubt, be made at Adelaide; from thence to the point in question
is about 600 miles, and from this point to the fine country, a little
beyond the tropic, is 700 miles, which together make a journey of 1300
miles. Now a line directly north from Adelaide, through Mount Arden, to
the point where it crosses the former in the fine country, is only 800
miles, making a saving, therefore, of 500 miles, which is of no little
importance in such a country as Australia.

"But Mr. Sturt assigns reasons for supposing that a range of mountains
will be found about the 29th parallel of latitude, and Mr. Eyre, whilst
exploring the Lake he discovered to the northward of the Gulf of St.
Vincent, Adelaide, notices mountains to the N.E., in about the latitude
of 28 degrees. Supposing, then, a range of mountains to exist about that
parallel, their direction will probably be found to run from N.E. to
S.W., which is that generally of the river Darling and its branches; and
in this case it may reasonably be concluded that these mountains form the
division of the waters, and that all the branches of the several rivers
(some of them of considerable magnitude) which have been known to fall
into the bays and gulfs on the W. and N.W. coasts, between the parallels
of 14 degrees and 21 degrees, have their sources on the northern side of
this range of mountains; but, even if no such range exists, it is pretty
evident, from what we know of the southern rivers, adjuncts chiefly of
the Darling, that somewhere about the latitudes of 28 degrees or 29
degrees the surface rises to a sufficient height to cause a division of
the waters, those on the northern side taking a northerly direction, and
those on the southern side a southerly one.

"To ascertain this point is worthy of a practical experiment in a
geographical point of view, as the knowledge of the direction that
mountains and rivers take, the bones and blood vessels of bodies
terrestrial give us at least a picture of the body of that skeleton. To
these Mr. Sturt will no doubt direct his particular attention, as
constituting the main object of such an expedition, and these, with the
great features of the country, its principal productions in the animal
and vegetable part of the creation, the state and condition of the
original inhabitants, will render a great service to the geography of the
southern part of Australia."

On this memorandum the Secretary of State observes, in a private letter
to Captain Grey, that came to hand before the receipt of Lord Stanley's
public despatch:--

"In considering Sir John Barrow's memorandum, enclosed in my public
despatch, you will see that a strong opinion is expressed against
ascending the Darling in the first instance, and in favour of making a
direct northerly course from Adelaide to Mount Arden. I do not wish this
to be taken as an absolute injunction, because I am aware that there may
be local causes why the apparently circuitous route may after all be the
easiest for the transport of provisions, and may really facilitate the
objects of the expedition. In like manner I do not wish to be understood
as absolutely prohibiting a return by Moreton Bay, extensive as that
deviation would be, if it should turn out that the exploration of the
mountain chain led the party so far to the eastward as to be able to
reach that point by a route previously known to Captain Sturt or to Major
Mitchell, more easily than they could return on their steps down the
Darling. What Captain Sturt will understand as absolutely prohibited, is
any attempt to conduct his party through the tropical regions to the
northward, so as to reach the mouths of any of the great rivers. The
present expedition will be limited in its object, to ascertaining the
existence and the character of a supposed chain of hills, or a succession
of separate hills, trending down from N.E. to S.W., and forming a great
natural division of the continent; to examining what rivers take their
source in those mountains, and what appears to be their course; to the
general lie of the country to the N.W. of the supposed chain; and to the
character of the soil and forests, as far as can be ascertained by such
an investigation as shall not draw the party away from their resources,
and shall make the south the constant base of their operations."

I presume, from the tenor of Sir John Barrow's memorandum, that he was
not fully aware of the insurmountable difficulties the course he
recommends presented. Valuing his judgment as I did on such an occasion,
and anxious as I was to act on the suggestions of the Secretary of State,
the strongest grounds could alone have made me pursue a course different
to that which had been recommended to me. Certainly the fear of any
ordinary difficulty would not have influenced me to reject the line
pointed out, but I felt satisfied that if Lord Stanley and Sir John
Barrow could be made aware of the nature of the country to the north of
Mount Arden, and the reasons why I considered it would be more
advantageous to take the line of the Darling, they would have concurred
in opinion with me. I would myself much rather have taken the line by
Mount Arden, since it would have been a greater novelty, and I would have
precluded the chance of any collision with the natives of the Darling,
more especially at that point to which I proposed to go, and at which Sir
Thomas Mitchell had had a rupture with them in 1836. The journeys of Mr.
Eyre had, however, proved the impracticability of a direct northerly
course from Mount Arden. Such a course would have led me into the
horseshoe of Lake Torrens; and although I might have passed to the
westward of it, I could hope for no advantage in a country such as that
which lies to the north of the Gawler Range. On the other hand, the
Surveyor-General of South Australia had attempted a descent into the
interior from the eastward, and had encountered great difficulties from
the want of water. Local inquiry and experience both went to prove the
little likelihood of that indispensable element being found to the north
of Spencer's Gulf. It appeared to me also that Sir John Barrow had
mistaken the point on the Darling to which I proposed going. It was not,
as he seems to have conjectured, to any point to which I had previously
been, but to an intermediate one. It is very true that if I had
contemplated pushing up the Darling to Fort Bourke, the distance would
have been 600 miles, and that, too, in a direction contrary to the one in
which I was instructed to proceed; but to Laidley's Ponds, in lat. 32
degrees 26 minutes 0 seconds S. and long. 142 degrees 30 minutes W., (the
point to which I proposed to go) the distance would have been a little
more than 300 miles. It was from this point that Sir Thomas Mitchell
retreated after his rupture with the natives in 1836; because, as he
himself informs us, he just then ascertained that a small stream joined
the Darling from the westward a little below his camp, and he likewise
saw hills in the same direction.

In consequence of the inhospitable character of the country to the north,
I had turned my attention to the above locality, and had been assured by
the natives, both of the Murray and the Darling, that the Williorara
(Laidley's Ponds) was a hill stream, that it came far from the N.W., that
it had large fish in it, and that its banks were grassy. It struck me,
therefore, that it would be a much more eligible line for the expedition
to run up the Darling to lat. 32 degrees 26 minutes, and then to trace
the Williorara upwards into the hills, with the chance of meeting the
opposite fall of waters, rather than to entangle myself and waste my
first energies amidst scrub and salt lagoons. As I understood my
instructions and the wishes of the Secretary of State, I was to keep on
the 138th meridian (that of Mount Arden) until I should reach the
supposed chain of mountains, the existence of which it was the object of
Lord Stanley to ascertain, or until I was turned aside from it by some
impracticable object. Lake Torrens being due north of Mount Arden would,
if I had taken that line, have been direct in my way, and I should have
had to turn either its eastern or its western flank. The
Surveyor-General, Captain Frome, had tried the former, but although he
went considerably to the eastward into the low and desert interior before
he turned northwards, he still found himself entangled in that sandy
basin, so that it appeared to me that I should do little more than clear
it on the course I proposed to take.

As the reader, however, will learn in the perusal of these pages, I was
wholly disappointed in the character of the Williorara. Where that
channel joins the Darling, the upward course of that river is to the
north-east; and as that was a course directly opposite to the one I felt
myself bound to take, I abandoned it and took at once to the hills. At my
Depot Prison, in lat. 29 degrees 40 minutes, and in long. 141 degrees 30
minutes E., I hoped that we had sufficiently cleared the north-east limit
of Lake Torrens; but when on the fall of rain we resumed our labours, we
measured 131 3/4 miles with the chain before we arrived on the shore of a
vast sandy basin, which I could not cross, and to the northward of which
I could not penetrate. Thus disappointed in my attempt to gain the 138th
meridian on a westerly course, as well as in my anticipation of finding
Lake Torrens connected with some more central feature, it appeared to me
that I could not follow out my instructions better than by attempting to
penetrate towards the centre of the continent on a north-west course, for
it was clear that if there were any ranges or any mountain chains
traversing the interior from north-east to south-west I should
undoubtedly strike them; but that if no such chains existed the proposed
course would take me to the Tropic on the meridian of 138 degrees, and
would enable me to determine the character of the interior, and more
central regions of the continent. In this attempt I succeeded in gaining
the desired meridian, but failed in reaching the Tropic. My position was
about 500 miles north of Mount Arden, 60 miles from the Tropic, and
somewhat less than 150 to the eastward of the centre of the Australian
continent. Forced back to my depot a second time, from the total failure
both of water and grass, in the quarter to which I had penetrated with
the above objects in view, having passed the centre in point of latitude,
I again left it on a due north course to ascertain if there were any
ranges or hills between my position and the Gulf of Carpentaria, as well
as to satisfy myself as to the character and extent of a stony desert I
had crossed on my last excursion. That iron region however again stopped
me in my progress northwards, and obliged me to fall back on a place of
safety. For fourteen months I kept my position in a country which never
changed but for the worse, and from which it was with difficulty that I
ultimately escaped; but as the minuter details of the expedition will be
given in the subsequent pages of this work, any mention of them here
would be superfluous. I shall only express my regret that we were unable
to make the centre or to gain the Tropic. As regards the objects for
which the expedition was fitted out, I hope it will be granted that they
were accomplished, and that little doubt can now be entertained as to the
non-existence of the mountain chains, the supposed existence of which I
was sent to ascertain. It would, however, have gratified me exceedingly
to have crossed into the Tropic, to have decided my own hypothesis as to
the fine country I ventured to predict would be found to exist beyond it.
My reasons for supposing which I thought I had explained in my first
letter to the Secretary of State, but as it would appear from an
observation in Sir John Barrow's memorandum, that I had not done so, I
deem it right briefly to record them here.

I had observed on my first expedition to the Darling, in 1828, when in
about lat. 29 degrees 30 minutes S. that the migration of the different
kinds of birds which visit the country east of the Darling during the
summer, was invariably to the W. N. W. Cockatoos and parrots that whilst
staying in the colony were known to frequent elevated land, and to select
the richest and best watered valleys for their temporary location, passed
in flights of countless number to the above-mentioned point. I had also
observed, during my residence in South Australia, that several of the
same kind of birds annually visited it, and that they came directly from
the north. I had seen the PSYTACUS NOVAE HOLLANDIAE and the SHELL
PARROQUET following the line of the shore of St. Vincent Gulf like
flights of starlings in England, and although intervals of more than a
quarter of an hour elapsed between the passing of one flight and that of
another, they all came from the north and followed in the same direction.
Now, although I am quite ready to admit that the casual appearance of a
few strange birds should not influence the judgment, yet I think that a
reasonable inference may be drawn from the regular and systematie
migration of the feathered races. Now, if we were to draw a line from
Fort Bourke to the W. N. W., and from Mount Arden to the north, we should
find that they would meet a little to the northward of the Tropic, and as
I felt assured of two lines of migration thus tending to the same point,
there could be little doubt but that the feathered races migrating upon
them rested at that point, for a time, so I was led to conclude that the
country to which they went would in a great measure resemble that which
they had left--that birds which delighted in rich valleys, or kept on
lofty hills, surely would not go into deserts and into a flat country;
and therefore it was that I was led to hope, that as the fact of large
migrations from various parts of the continent to one particular part,
seemed to indicate the existence either of deserts or of water to a
certain distance, so the point at which migration might be presumed to
terminate would be found a richer country than any which intervened. On
the late expedition, I accidentally fell into the line of migration to
the north-west, and birds that I was aware visited Van Diemen's Land
passed us, after watering, to that point of the compass. Cockatoos would
frequently perch in our trees at night, and wing their way to the
north-west after a few hours of rest; and to the same point wild fowl,
bitterns, pigeons, parrots, and parroquets winged their way, pursued by
numerous birds of the Accipitrine class. From these indications I was led
still more to conclude that I might hope for the realization of my
anticipations if I could force my own way to the necessary distance.

During our stay at Moorundi, the weather had been beautifully fine,
although it rained so much in the hills. A light frost generally covered
the ground, and a mist rose from the valley of the Murray at early dawn;
but both soon disappeared before the sun, and the noon-day temperature
was delicious--nothing indeed could exceed the luxury of the climate of
that low region at that season of the year, August.

We had directed Kenny, the policeman, and Tampawang, to bivouac in the
valley in which we ourselves intended to sleep, but we saw nothing of
them on our arrival there. The night was bitter cold, insomuch that we
could hardly keep ourselves warm, notwithstanding that we laid under
shelter of a blazing log. As dawn broke upon us, we prepared for our
departure, being anxious to escape from the misty valley to the clearer
atmosphere on the higher ground. At eight a.m. we passed the Great Bend
of the Murray, and I once more found myself riding over ground every inch
of which was familiar to me, since not only on my several journeys down
and up the river had I particularly noticed this spot, but I had visited
it in 1840 with Colonel Gawler, the then Governor of South Australia;
who, finding that he required relaxation from his duties, invited me to
accompany him on an excursion he proposed taking to the eastward of the
Mount Lofty Range, for the purpose of examining the country along the
shores of Lake Victoria and the River Murray, as far as the Great Bend.
It was a part of the province at that time but little known save by the
overlanders, and the Governor thought that by personally ascertaining the
capabilities of the country contiguous to the Murray, he might throw open
certain parts of it for location. Being at that time Surveyor-General of
the Province, I was glad of such an opportunity to extend my own
knowledge of the province to the north and northeast of Adelaide, more
especially as this journey gave me an opportunity to cross from the river
to the hills westward of the Great Bend. Not only was the land on the
Murray soon afterwards occupied to that point, but Colonel Gawler and I
also visited the more distant country on that occasion. Since my return,
indeed, from my recent labours, the line of the Murray is occupied to
within a short distance of the remoter stations of the colony of New
South Wales, and there can be no doubt but that in the course of a few
years the stock stations from the respective colonies will meet. I was
afraid, when I came the second time down the Murray, that I had
exaggerated the number of acres in the valley, but on further
examination, it appears to me that I did not do so; for as the traveller
approaches Lake Victoria the flats are very extensive, but more liable to
inundation than those on the higher points of the river, for being so
little elevated above the level of the water, especially those covered
with reeds, the smallest rise in the stream affects them. Lake Victoria,
although it looks like a clear and open sea, as you look from the point
of Pomundi, which projects into it to the south, is after all exceedingly
shallow, and is rapidly filling up from the decay of seaweed and the
deposits brought into it yearly by the floods of the Murray. No doubt but
that future generations will see that fine sheet of water confined to a
comparatively narrow bed, and pursuing its course through a rich and
extensive plain. When such shall be the case, and that the strength of
the Murray shall be brought to bear in one point only, it is probable its
sea mouth will be navigable, and that the scenery on this river will be
enlivened by the white sails of vessels on its ample bosom. I can fancy
that nothing would be more beautiful than the prospect of vessels,
however small they might be, coming with swelling sails along its
reaches. It may, however, be said, that it will be a distant day when
such things shall be realized. There is both reason and truth in the
remark; but Time, with his silent work, has already raised the flats in
the valley of the Murray, and as we are now benefiting by his labours, so
it is to be hoped will our posterity. However that may be, for it is a
matter only of curious speculation, nothing will stay the progress of
improvement in a colony which has received such an impulse as the
province of South Australia. As men retain their peculiarities, so, I
believe, do communities; and where a desirable object is to be gained, I
shall be mistaken if it is lost from a want of spirit in that colony.
Purposing, however, to devote a few pages to the more particular notice
of the state of South Australia, and the prospects it holds out to those
who may desire to seek in other lands more comforts and a better fortune
than they could command in their native country, I shall not here make
any further observation.

The morning, which had been so cold, gradually became more genial as the
sun rose above us, and both Mr. Eyre and myself forgot that we had so
lately been shivering, under the influence of the more agreeable
temperature which then prevailed.

As we turned the Great Bend of the Murray, and pursued an easterly
course, we rode along the base of some low hills of tertiary fossil
formation, the summits of which form the table land of the interior. We
were on an upper flat, and consequently considerably above the level of
the water as it then was. In riding along, Tenbury pointed out a line of
rubbish and sticks, such as is left to mark the line of any inundation,
and he told us, that, when he was a boy, he recollected the floods having
risen so high in the valley as to wash the foot of these hills. He
stated, that there had been no previous warning; that the weather was
beautifully fine, and that no rain had fallen; and he added that the
natives were ignorant whence the water came, but that it came from a long
way off. According to Tenbury's account, the river must have been fully
five and twenty feet higher than it usually rises; and judging from his
age, this occurrence might have taken place some twenty years before. As
we proceed up the Darling, we shall see a clue to this phenomenon. But
why, it may be asked, do not such floods more frequently occur? Is it
that the climate is drier than it once was, and that the rains are less
frequent? There are vestiges of floods over every part of the continent;
but the decay of debris and other rubbish is so slow, that one cannot
safely calculate how long it may have been deposited where they are so
universally to be found.

After passing the Great Bend, as I have already stated, we turned to the
eastward and overtook Mr. Poole at noon, not more than eight miles
distant. Some of the bullocks had strayed, and he had consequently been
prevented from starting so early as he would otherwise have done. The
animals had, however, been recovered before we reached the party, and
were yoked up; we pushed on therefore to a distance of nine miles,
cutting across from angle to angle of the river, but ultimately turned
into one of the flats and encamped for the night. We passed during the
day through some low bushes of cypresses and other stunted shrubs, but
they were not so thick as to impede our heavy drays, by the weight of
which every tree they came in contact with was brought to the ground. A
meridian altitude of Vega placed us in lat. 34 degrees  4 minutes 20
seconds S., by which it appeared that we had made four miles of southing,
the Great Bend being in lat. 34 degrees. Kenny and Tampawang had joined
the party before we overtook it, and Flood arrived in the course of the
afternoon. The cattle had an abundance of feed round our tents, and near
a lagoon at the upper end of the flat. The thermometer stood at 40
degrees at 7 p.m., with the wind at west.

On the morning of the 26th we availed ourselves of the first favourable
point to ascend from the river flats to the higher ground, since it
prevented our following the windings of the river and shortened our day's
journey. In doing this we sometimes travelled at a considerable distance
from the Murray--the surface of the country was undulating and sandy,
with clumps of stunted cypress trees, and eucalyptus dumosa scattered
over it. Low bushes of rhagodia, at great distances apart, were growing
on the more open ground; the soil, consisting of a red clay and sand,
only superficially covering the fossil formation beneath it. At 11 a.m.
we entered a dense brush of cypress and eucalypti growing in pure sand.
Fortunately for us the overlanders had cut a passage through it, so that
we had a clear road before us, but the drays sunk deep into the loose
sand in which these trees were growing, and the bullocks had a constant
strain on the yoke for six miles. We then broke into more open ground,
and ultimately reached the river in sufficient time to arrange the camp
before sunset, although we had 2 1/2 miles to travel on a S.W. course
before we found a convenient place to stop at. Our course during the day
having been S.S.E., we had thus been obliged to turn back upon it, but
this was owing to the direction the river here takes and was unavoidable.
At 6 p.m. the thermometer stood at 55 degrees of Farenheit, the barometer
at 30.000, and the boiling point of water by two thermometers with a
difference of 2 degrees 212 minutes and 214 minutes, respectively, our
distance from the sea coast being about 120 {180 in published text} miles
as the crow flies.

It was generally thought in Adelaide that having started so late in the
season, I should experience some difficulty in getting feed for the
cattle. From my experience, however, of the seasons in the low region
through which the Murray flows, I had no such anticipation. The only fear
I had, was, that we should be shut out from flats of the river by the
floods, as I knew it would be on the rise at the time we should be upon
it. To this point, however (and I may add, with few exceptions), we found
an abundance of feed, both along the line of the Murray and the Darling,
but at our present encampment our animals fared very indifferently, in
consequence of the poor nature of the soil. Our tents were pitched at the
northern extremity of a long flat, between the river and a serpentine
lagoon, which left but a narrow embankment between itself and the stream.
The soil of the flat was a cold white clay, on which there was scarcely
any vegetation, so that the cattle wandered and kept us about an hour
after our appointed hour of starting. There had been a sharp frost during
the night, and the morning was bitterly cold. At sunrise the thermometer
stood at 29 degrees, the dew point being 43 degrees, and the barometer at
29.700.

When we left this place, our course, for the first three miles, was along
the embankment separating the river from the lagoon, and I remarked that
although there was so little vegetation on the ground, there were some
magnificent trees on the bank of the river itself, which gradually came
up to the north-east. At three miles, however, our further course along
the flats was checked by the hills of fossil formation, which approached
the river so closely as to leave no passage for the drays between it and
them. We were, therefore, obliged to ascend to the upper levels, in doing
so we were also obliged to put two teams, or sixteen bullocks, to each
dray, and even then found it difficult to master the ascent.

Referring back to a previous remark, I would observe that the Murray
river is characterised by bold and perpendicular cliffs of different
shades of yellow colour, varying from a light hue to a deep ochre. These
cliffs rise abruptly from the water to the height of 250 and occasionally
300 feet. They occur first on one side of the river, and then on the
other, there being an open or a lightly-timbered flat on the opposite
side, with a line of trees almost invariably round it, especially along
the river. These flats are backed, at uncertain distances, by the fossil
formation, as by a natural inclosure--sometimes it rises perpendicularly
from the flats, but more generally assumes the character of sloping
hills. The cliffs occasionally extend, like a wall, along the river for
two or three miles, and look exceedingly well; but their constant
recurrence, at length fatigues the eye. At the point at which we had now
arrived this remarkable formation ceases, or, as we are going up the
river, I should perhaps be more correct if I said, begins. Above it a
long line of hills, broken by deep and rugged stony gullies, and with
steep sides, extends to the eastward (that also being the upward course
of the river). On gaining the crest of these hills we found ourselves, as
usual, on a flat table land, notwithstanding the broken faces of the
hills themselves. There was only a narrow space between them, and a low
thick brush of eucalyptus to the north. The soil was, as usual, a mixture
of clay and sand, with small rounded nodules of limestone. From this
ground, the view to the south as a medium point, was over as dark and
monotonous a country as could well be described. There was not a single
break in its sombre hue, nor was there the slightest rise on the visible
horizon; both to the eastward and westward we caught glimpses of the
Murray glittering amidst the dark foliage beneath us, but it made no
change in the character of the landscape.

We kept on the open ground, just cutting the heads of the gullies, and
advanced eight miles before we found a convenient spot at which to drive
the cattle down to water, and feed in the flats below, and into which it
appeared impracticable to get our drays. I halted, therefore, on the
crest of the hills, and sent Flood and three other men to watch the
animals, and to head them back if they attempted to wander. In the
afternoon we went down to the river, and on crossing the flat came upon
the dray tracks of some overland party, the leader of which had taken his
drays down the hills, notwithstanding the apparent difficulty of the
attempt. But what is there of daring or enterprise that these bold and
high-spirited adventurers will shrink from?

I had hoped that the more elevated ground we here occupied, would have
been warmer than the flats on which we had hitherto pitched our tents,
but in this I was disappointed. The night was just as cold as if we had
been in the valley of the Murray. At sunrise the thermometer stood at 27
degrees, and we had thick ice in our pails.

At five miles from this place, having left the river about a mile to our
right, we arrived at the termination of this line of hills. They
gradually fell away to the eastward and disappeared; nor does the fossil
formation extend higher up the Murray. It here commences or terminates,
as the traveller is proceeding up or down the stream. A meridian altitude
on the hill just before we descended, placed it in lat. 34 degrees 9
minutes 56 seconds, so that we had still been going gradually to the
south. At the termination of the hills, the Murray forms an angle in
turning sharp round to that point, and after an extensive sweep comes up
again, so as to form an opposite angle; the distance between the two
being 14 or 15 miles, and from the ground on which we stood the head of
Lake Bonney bore E. 5 degrees S., distant six miles.

On descending from these hills we fell into the overland road, but were
soon turned from it by reason of the floods, and obliged to travel along
a sandy ridge, forming the left bank of a lagoon, running parallel to the
river, into which the waters were fast flowing; but finding a favourable
place to cross, at a mile distant, we availed ourselves of it, and
encamped on the river side. In the afternoon we had heavy rain from the
west. During it, Mr. James Hawker, a resident at Moorundi, joined us, and
took shelter in our tents. He had, indeed, kept pace with us all the way
from the settlement in his boat, and supplied us with wild fowl on
several occasions.

We had showers during the night, but the morning, though cloudy, did not
prevent our moving on to Lake Bonney, distant, according to our
calculation, between four and five miles. To determine this correctly,
however, I ordered Mr. Poole to run the chain from the river to the lake.
We had seen few or no natives as yet; but expecting to find a large party
of them assembled at Lake Bonney, Mr. Eyre went before us with Kenny and
Tenbury, leaving Nadbuck and Camboli to shew us the most direct line to
the mouth of the little channel which connects Lake Bonney with the
Murray, at which I purposed halting. The greater part of our way was
through deep sandy cypress brushes, so that the cattle had a heavy pull
of it. We reached our destination at 1 p.m., where we found Mr. Eyre,
with eight or nine natives, all, who were then in the neighbourhood.

The back-water of the Murray was fast flowing into the lake, which
already presented a broad expanse of water to the eye. It was covered
with wild fowl of various kinds, and there were several patches of reeds
in which they were feeding.

As I purposed stopping for a day or two, to rest the bullocks, I directed
Mr. Poole to survey the lake, whilst I undertook to lay down the creek or
channel connecting it with the river, in which service I enlisted Mr.
Hawker, who had formerly been on the survey, and whose name I gave to the
creek on the completion of our work.

Lake Bonney is a shallow sandy basin, which is annually filled by the
Murray; and as it rises, so, to a certain extent, it falls with the
river, until at length, being left very shallow, it is soon dried up. The
Hawker being too small to discharge the water equally with the fall of
the river, has a current in it after the river has lowered considerably,
for which reason I thought, when I passed it on my second expedition,
that it had been a tributary; but such is not the case--Lake Bonney
receiving no water save from the Murray. To the south of it, or next the
river, the ground is low, grassy, and wooded; but on every other side the
lake is confined by a low sand hill, of about fifteen feet in height,
behind which there is a barren flat covered with salsolaceous plants, and
exactly resembling a dry sea marsh, if I may say so. The more distant
interior is alternate brush and plain, and exceedingly barren. The day
after we arrived, however, Tenbury, with the dogs, killed four large
kangaroos and as he saw many more, it is to be presumed that thereabouts
they are pretty numerous. The lake is ten miles in circumference.
Hawker's Creek, taking its windings, is nearly six in length. The
latitude of our camp was 34 degrees 13 minutes 42 seconds S.; its
longitude 140 degrees 26 minutes 16 seconds. On September 1st. the
thermometer, at 8 A. M. and at noon, stood at 48 degrees and 60 degrees
respectively; the barometer at 29.750, and the boiling point was 212
degrees nearly, thus indicating that we had risen but a few feet above
the level of the sea. We left Lake Bonney on the 3rd of September, and
crossing the bank of sand by which it is confined, traversed the flat
behind it for about three miles, when we ascended some feet, and entered
a low brush that continued for nearly nine miles, with occasional
openings in it to that angle of the river which is opposite to the one at
the end of the fossil formation.

Our camp at this place was on one of the prettiest spots on the Murray.
Our tents were pitched on some sloping ground, sheltered from the S.W.
wind. The feed was excellent, and the soil of better quality than usual.
We had a splendid view of the river, which here is very broad and flanked
on the right by a dark clay cliff, which is exceedingly picturesque. On
the opposite side of the stream there is an extensive, well wooded and
grassy flat of beautiful and park-like appearance. Altogether it was a
cheerful and pleasant locality, and we were sorry to leave it so soon.
Our observations placed us in lat. 34 degrees 11 minutes 12 seconds S.
and in long. 140 degrees 39 minutes 42 seconds E. From this point the
general course of the Murray is much more to the north than heretofore,
so that on leaving it we had more of northing in our course than anything
else. Some strange natives brought up our cattle for us, to whom I made
presents; but although so kindly disposed, they did not follow us.
Indeed, the natives generally, seemed to regard our progress with
suspicion, and could not imagine why we were going up the Darling with so
many drays and cattle. Our sheep had now become exceedingly tame and
tractable; they followed the party like dogs, and I therefore felt
satisfied that I had not done wrong in bringing them with me. We
travelled on the 4th, over harder and more open ground than usual, having
extensive polygonium flats to our right. There were belts of brush
however on the plains, the soil and productions of which were sandy and
salsolaceous. At 4 1/2 miles we struck a lagoon, and coming upon a creek
at 13 miles, we halted, although the feed was bad, as the cattle were
unable to get to the river flats in consequence of the flooded state of
the creek itself.

On the 5th we travelled through a country that consisted almost entirely
of scrub on the poorest soil. However, we were now approaching that part
of the river at which the flats (extensive enough) are intersected by
numerous creeks and lagoons, so that our approach to the Murray was
likely to be cut off altogether. At 3 1/2 miles we again struck the creek
on the banks of which we had slept, and as it was the point at which the
native path from Lake Bonney also strikes it, I halted to take a meridian
altitude, which placed it in 34 degrees 4 minutes 5 seconds S. We had
allowed our horses to go and feed with their bridles through the
stirrups, and were sitting on the ground when we heard a shot, and a
general alarm amongst them, insomuch that we had some difficulty in
quieting them, more especially Mr. Poole's horse. It was at length
discovered that one of that gentleman's pistols had accidentally gone off
in the holster, to the dismay of the poor animal. Fortunately no damage
was done.

After noon, we pushed on, and at a mile crossed a creek, where we found a
small tribe of scrub natives, one of whom had a child of unusual fatness:
its flesh really hung about it; a solitary instance of the kind as far as
I am aware. We then traversed good grassy plains for about two miles,
when we fell in with another small tribe on a second creek: our
introduction to which was more than ordinarily ceremonious. The natives
remained seated on the ground, with the women and children behind them,
and for a long time preserved that silence and reserve which is peculiar
to these people when meeting strangers; however, we soon became more
intimate, and several of them joined our train. Our friend Nadbuck was
very officious (not disagreeably so, however), on the occasion, and
shewed himself a most able tactician, since he paid more attention to the
fair than his own sex, and his explanation of our movements seemed to
have its due weight.

We soon passed from the grassy plains I have mentioned, to plains of
still greater extent, and still finer herbage. Nothing indeed could
exceed the luxuriance of the grass on these water meadows, for we found
on crossing that the floods were beginning to incroach upon them. These
were marked all over with cattle tracks, many of them so fresh that they
could only have been made the night before, but independently of these
there were others of older date. The immense number of these tracks led
me to inquire from the natives if there were any cattle in the
neighbourhood, when they informed me that there were numbers of wild
cattle in the brushes to the westward of the flats, and that they came
down at night to the river for water and food. The grass upon the plain
over which we were travelling was so inviting, that I determined to give
the horses and bullocks a good feed, and turning towards the river with
Mr. Eyre, I directed Mr. Poole and Mr. Browne to try the brushes with
Flood and Mack, for a wild bullock, whilst we arranged the camp. We
scarcely had time to do this, however, when Mr. Browne returned to inform
me that soon after gaining the brush they had fallen in with a herd of
about fifty cattle, out of which they had singled and shot a fine animal,
and that on his way back to the camp the dogs had killed a large
kangaroo. Upon this I sent Morgan with the cart to fetch in the quarters
of the animal, and desired the natives to go with him to benefit by what
might be left behind, and to feast on the kangaroo. The beast the party
had killed fully justified Mr. Browne's account of it, and its fine
condition proved the excellent nature of the pastures on which it had
fed. We had not killed many of the sheep, as I was anxious to preserve
them, since they had given us little or no trouble, so that I was led to
hope that by ordinary care they would prove a most valuable and important
stock.

We were here unable to approach the river, and therefore encamped near a
creek, the banks of which were barren enough; however, as we had stopped
for the benefit of the cattle it was of no consequence. But although on
this occasion they were absolutely up to their middles in the finest
grass, the bullocks were not satisfied, but with a spirit of
contradiction common to animals as well as men they separated into mobs
and wandered away; the difficulty of recovering them being the greater,
because of the numerous tracks of other cattle in every direction around
us. We recovered them, however, although too late to move that day, and
it is somewhat remarkable to record, that this was the only occasion on
which during this long journey we were delayed for so long a time by our
animals wandering. Had it not been for Tampawang, whose keen eye soon
detected the fresher tracks, we might have been detained for several
days.

As Mr. Browne had been on horseback the greater part of the day, I left
him in the camp with Mr. Poole, both having been after the cattle, and in
the afternoon walked out with Mr. Eyre, to try if we could get to the
river, but failed, for the creeks were full of water, and our approach to
it or to the nearer flats was entirely cut off. So intersected indeed was
this neighbourhood, that we got to a point at which five creeks joined.
The scene was a very pretty one, since they formed a sheet of water of
tolerable size shaded by large trees. The native name of this place was
"Chouraknarup," a name by no means so harmonious as the names of their
places generally are. We had not commenced any collection at this time,
there being nothing new either in the animals or plants, but I observed
that everything was much more forward on this part of the river than near
Lake Bonney, although there was no material difference between the two
places in point of latitude. A meridian altitude of the sun gave our
latitude 34 degrees 1 minutes 33 seconds S., and one of Altair 34 degrees
2 minutes 2 seconds S.

The night of the 6th Sept. was frosty and cold, and we had thick ice in
the buckets. We left our camp on a N. by E. course, at 8 o'clock on the
morning of the 7th, and at 4 miles struck the river, where its breadth
was considerable, and it looked exceedingly well. The flooded state of
the creeks however prevented our again approaching it for several days.
Shortly after leaving the river we turned more to the eastward, having
gained its most northern reach. About noon we fell in with a few natives,
who did not trouble themselves much about us, but we found that their
backwardness was rather the result of timidity at seeing such a party
than anything else. We traversed large and well-grassed flats almost all
day long, and ultimately encamped on the banks of a creek of some size,
opposite to our tents the floods had made an island, on which we put our
cattle for security during the night.

Mr. Eyre and I were again disappointed in an attempt to gain the banks of
the Murray, but we returned to the camp with a numerous retinue of men,
women, and children, who treated us to a corrobori at night. The several
descriptions which have been given by others of these scenes, might
render it unnecessary for me to give my account of such here; but as my
ideas of these ceremonies may differ from that of other travellers, I
shall trespass on the patience of my readers for a few moments to
describe them. However rude and savage a corrobori may appear to those to
whom they are new, they are, in truth, plays or rather dramas, which it
takes both time and practice to excel in. Distant tribes visiting any
other teach them their corrobori, and the natives think as much of them
as we should do of the finest play at Covent Garden. Although there is a
great sameness in these performances they nevertheless differ. There is
always a great bustle when a corrobori is to be performed, and the men
screw themselves up to the acting point, as our actors do by other means
than these poor creatures possess. On the present occasion there was not
time for excitement; our's was as it were a family corrobori, or private
theatricals, in which we were let into the secrets of what takes place
behind the scenes. A party of the Darling natives had lately visited the
Murray, and had taught our friends their corrobori, in which, however,
they were not perfect; and there was consequently a want of that
excitement which is exhibited when they have their lesson at their
fingers' ends, and are free to give impulse to those feelings, which are
the heart and soul of a corrobori.

We had some difficulty in persuading our friends to exhibit, and we owed
success rather to Mr. Eyre's influence than any anxiety on the part of
the natives themselves. However, at last we persuaded the men to go and
paint themselves, whilst the women prepared the ground. It was pitch
dark, and ranging themselves in a line near a large tree, they each lit a
small fire, and had a supply of dry leaves to give effect to the acting.
On their commencing their chanting, the men came forward, emerging from
the darkness into the obscure light shed by the yet uncherished fires,
like spectres. After some performance, at a given signal, a handful of
dry leaves was thrown on each fire, which instantly blazing up lighted
the whole scene, and shewed the dusky figures of the performers painted
and agitated with admirable effect, but the fires gradually lowering, all
were soon again left in obscurity.

But, as I have observed, for some reason or other the thing was not
carried on with spirit, and we soon retired from it; nevertheless, it is
a ceremony well worth seeing, and which in truth requires some little
nerve to witness for the first time.

We had now arrived at Camboli's haunt, and were introduced by him to his
wife and children, of whom he seemed very proud; but a more ugly partner,
or more ugly brats, a poor Benedict could not have been blessed with.
Whether it was that he wished to remain behind, for he had not been very
active on the road, or taken that interest in our proceedings which
Nadbuck had done; or that our praises of his wife and pickaninnies had
had any effect I know not, but he would not leave his family, and so
remained with them when we left on the following morning. The
neighbourhood of our camp was, however, one of great celebrity--since in
it some of the most remarkable and most tragical events had taken place.
It was near it that the volunteers who went out to rescue Mr. Inman's
sheep, which had been seized by the natives to the number of 4,000, were
driven back and forced to retreat; not, I would beg to be understood,
from want of spirit, but because they were fairly overpowered and caught
in a trap. The whole of the party, indeed, behaved with admirable
coolness, and one of them, Mr. Charles Hawker, as well as their leader,
Mr. Fidd, shewed a degree of moderation and forbearance on the occasion
that was highly to their credit. Here also was the Hornet's Nest, where
the natives offered battle to my gallant friend, Major O'Halloran, whose
instructions forbade his striking the first blow. I can fancy that his
warm blood was up at seeing himself defied by the self-confident natives;
but they were too wise to commence an attack, and the parties, therefore,
separated without coming to blows. Here, or near this spot also, the old
white-headed native, who used to attend the overland parties, was shot by
Miller, a discharged soldier, I am sorry to say, of my own regiment. This
old man had accompanied me for several days in my boat, when I went down
the Murray to the sea coast in 1830, and I had made him a present, which
he had preserved, and shewed to the first overland party that came down
the river, and thenceforward he became the guide of the parties that
followed along that line. He attended me when I came overland from
Sydney, in 1838, on which occasion he recognised me, and would sleep no
where but at my tent door. He was shot by Miller in cold blood, whilst
talking to one of the men of the party of which unfortunately he had the
charge; but retribution soon followed. Miller was shortly afterwards
severely wounded by the natives; and, having aneurism of the heart, was
cautioned by his medical attendant never to use violent exercise; but,
disregarding this, when he had nearly recovered, he went one day to visit
a friend at the gaol in which he ought to have been confined, and in
springing over a ditch near it, fell dead on the other side, and wholly
unprepared to appear before that tribunal, to which he will one day or
other be summoned, to answer for this and other similar crimes.

About a dozen natives followed us from our camp, on the morning of the
8th. We again struck the creek, on which we had rested, and which had
turned to our right at 2 1/2 miles on an east by south course, and
followed along its banks, until it again trended too much to the south.
We crossed alluvial flats of considerable extent, on which there was an
abundance of grass. Just at the point at which we turned from the creek,
we ascended a small sand hill, covered with the amaryllis, then
beautifully in flower. The latitude of this little hill, from which the
cliffs on the most northern reach of the Murray bore N. 170 degrees E.
distant four miles, was 33 degrees 57 minutes 11 seconds; so that the
Murray does not extend northwards beyond latitude 34 degrees 1 minutes or
thereabouts. We again struck the creek, the course of which had been
marked by gum-trees, at six miles, and were forced by it to the N.E., but
ultimately turned it and descended southwards to the river; but as we
were cut off from it we encamped on a lagoon of great length, backed by
hills of a yellow and white colour, the rock being a soft and friable
sandstone, slightly encrusted with salt. We had, shortly before we
halted, passed a salt lagoon in the centre of one of the grassy flats,
but such anomalies are not uncommon in the valley of the Murray. That
part of the river which I have described, from the point where we shot
the bullock to this lagoon, appeared to me admirably adapted for a cattle
station, and has since been occupied as such.

As I have observed, the lagoon on which we encamped was backed by hills
of 150 or 200 feet elevation, which were covered with thick brush wood.
The flat between us and these hills was unusually barren, and all the
trees at the side of the lagoon were dead. Whether this was owing to
there being salt in the ground or to some other cause, there was here but
little grass for the cattle to eat, so that, although they were watched,
twenty of them managed to crawl away, and we were consequently delayed
above an hour and a half after our usual hour of starting, and commenced
our day's journey wanting two of our complement, but we stumbled upon
them in passing through the brush, in which they were very comfortably
lying down. We travelled for about six miles through a miserable
undulating country of sand and scrub. At noon we were abreast of a little
sandy peak that was visible from our camp, and is a prominent feature
hereabouts. This peak Mr. Browne and I ascended, though very little to
our gratification, for the view from it was as usual over a sea of scrub
to whatever quarter we turned. The peak itself was nothing more than a
sandy eminence on which neither tree or shrub was growing, and the whole
locality was so much in unison with it, that we called it "Mount Misery."
After passing this hill, and forcing through some stunted brush, we
debouched on open plains and got once more on the overland road, which
was distinctly marked by a line of bright green grass, that was springing
up in the furrows the drays had left. This road took us to the edge of a
precipitous embankment, from which we overlooked the river flowing
beneath it. This embankment was 60 or 70 feet high, and presented a steep
wall to the river; for although the Murray had lost the fossil cliffs it
was still flanked by high level plains on both sides, and cliffs of 100
or 120 feet in height, composed of clay and sand, rose above the stream,
the faces of which presented the appearance of fretwork, so deeply and
delicately had they been grooved out by rains. The soil of this upper
table land was a bright red ferruginous clay and sand. The vegetation was
chiefly salsolaceous, but there was, notwithstanding, no want of grass
upon it, though the tufts were very far apart. If our cattle had fared
badly at our last camp, they had no reason to complain at this; for we
encamped on a beautifully green flat, about seven miles short of the
Rufus, and about eight from the nearest point of Lake Victoria. There
were now seventeen natives in our train, amongst whom was one of
remarkable character. This was "Pulcanti," who was engaged in, wounded
and taken prisoner at an affair on the Rufus, to which I shall again have
to allude.

Whilst the police were conveying this man handcuffed to Adelaide, he
threw himself off the lofty cliffs at the Great Bend into the river
beneath, and attempted to escape by swimming across it, but he was
recaptured and taken safe to Adelaide, where subsequent kind treatment
had considerable influence on his savage disposition. His attempt to
escape was of the boldest kind, and was spoken of with astonishment by
those who witnessed it, but so desperate an act only proved how much more
these people value liberty than life. I am sure that bold savage would
have submitted to torture without a groan; he was the most repulsive
native in aspect that I ever saw, and had a most ferocious countenance.
The thick lip and white teeth, the lowering brow, and deep set but sharp
eye, with the rapidly retiring forehead all betrayed the savage with the
least intellect, but his demeanour was now quiet and inoffensive.

Mr. Eyre again preceded us to the Rufus, with Kenny and Tenbury; for
although we had been disappointed in seeing any natives at Lake Bonney,
it was hardly to be doubted but that we should find a considerable number
at Lake Victoria.

We joined Mr. Eyre about noon at the junction of the Rufus with the
Murray, and which serves like Hawker's Creek as a channel of
communication between that river and the Murray. Here Mr. Eyre had
collected 69 natives, who were about to go out kangarooing when he
arrived. They had their hunting spears and a few waddies, but no other
weapons.

We had now arrived at Nadbuck's native place, and he left us to join his
family, promising still to accompany us up the Darling. A principal
object Mr. Eyre had in joining me had been to distribute some blankets to
those natives who, living in the distance, seldom came to Moorundi to
benefit by the distribution of food and clothing there. In the position
we now occupied we were flanked by the Rufus to our left, and had the
Murray in front of us. The ground in our rear and to our right was rather
bushy, and numerous Fusani, covered with fruit, were growing there; Lake
Victoria being about four miles to our rear also. Considering the spirit
of the natives on this part of the Murray, the position was not very
secure, as we were too confined; but I had no apprehension of any attack
from them, they having for some time shewn a more pacific disposition,
and against whom we were otherwise always well prepared. As soon,
therefore, as the tents were pitched, we walked together along the bank
of the Rufus to its junction with the lake, but not seeing any of the
native families we turned back, until observing some young men on the
opposite side of the channel we called to them, and one of them ferried
us over in a canoe. We had then a long round of visits to make to the
different families of the natives, since they were all encamped on the
eastern or opposite side of the Rufus.

The first huts to which we went happened to be that of our friend
Nadbuck, and he introduced us, as Camboli had done, to his wives and
children, of whom the old gentleman was very proud. We then visited
eleven other huts in succession, after which we returned to the place
where the canoe had been left, with twelve patriarchs, to whom Mr. Eyre
(wisely selecting the oldest) intended making some presents. We were
again ferried across the Rufus, the current setting strong into Lake
Victoria at the time, and had well nigh gone down in our frail bark, to
the infinite amusement of our Charon. We had just time, however, to reach
the bank and to get out of her when she went down.

It was at this particular spot that the natives sustained so severe a
loss when Pulcanti was taken. They got between two fires, that of Mr.
Robinson's party of overlanders, with whom they had been fighting for
three days; and a party of police who, providentially for Mr. Robinson,
came up just in time to save him from being overwhelmed by numbers.
Astonished at finding themselves taken in flank, the blacks threw
themselves into the Rufus, and some effected their escape, but about
forty fell, whose grave we passed on our way back to the camp.

The natives who accompanied us pointed out the mound to Mr. Eyre and
myself as we walked along, and informed us that thirty of their relatives
laid underneath; but they did not seem to entertain any feelings of
revenge for the loss they had sustained.

On the morrow, my worthy friend left me, on his return to Moorundi,
together with Kenny and Tenbury, and a young native of the Rufus. We all
saw them depart with feelings of deep regret; but Mr. Eyre had important
business to attend to which did not admit of delay.

A little before Mr. Eyre mounted his horse, I had sent Mr. Browne, with
Flood and Pulcanti, to the eastward, to ascertain how high the backwaters
of the Murray had gone up the Ana-branch of the Darling, since that
ancient channel laid right in our way, and I was anxious if possible to
run up it, rather than proceed to the river itself, as being a much
nearer line. In the afternoon Mr. Poole and I moved the camp over to the
lake, and on the following day I directed him to ascertain its
circumference, as we should be detained a day or two awaiting the return
of Mr. Browne.




CHAPTER III.



MR. BROWNE'S RETURN--HIS ACCOUNT OF THE COUNTRY--CHANGE OF
SCENE--CONTINUED RAIN--TOONDA JOINS THE PARTY--STORY OF THE
MASSACRE--LEAVE LAKE VICTORIA--ACCIDENT TO FLOOD--TURN NORTHWARDS--CROSS
TO THE DARLING--MEET NATIVES--TOONDA'S HAUGHTY MANNER--NADBUCK'S
CUNNING--ABUNDANCE OF FEED--SUDDEN FLOODS--BAD COUNTRY--ARRIVAL AT
WILLIORARA--CONSEQUENT DISAPPOINTMENT--PERPLEXITY--MR. POOLE GOES TO THE
RANGES--MR. BROWNE'S RETURN--FOOD OF THE NATIVES--POSITION OF WILLIORARA.


Lake Victoria is a very pretty sheet of water, 24 miles in
circumference {DIAMETER in published text}, very shallow, and at times
nearly dry. As I have previously observed of Lake Bonney, it is connected
with the Murray by the Rufus, and by this distribution of its waters,
the floods of the Murray are prevented from being excessive, or rising
above a certain height.

The southern shore of Lake Victoria is very picturesque, as well as the
line of the Rufus. The latter however is much wooded, whereas the S.W.
shore of the lake is low and grassy, and beautiful umbrageous trees adorn
it, in number not more than two or three to the acre. As Mr. Poole was
engaged near me, I remained stationary on the 13th, but on the following
day moved the camp seven miles to the westward, for his convenience. On
the 15th I again moved so as to keep pace with him, and was highly
delighted at the really park-like appearance of the scenery. This pretty
locality is now occupied as a cattle run, and must be a place of
amusement as well as profit.

We met Mr. Browne and Flood on their return to the camp from the journey
on which I had sent them, about an hour before we halted.

Mr. Browne informed me that the day he left me he rode for some miles
along the shore of the lake, and that after leaving it he encamped in the
scrub, having travelled about seventeen miles. The brush was very dense,
although there were open intervals; it consisted of trees and shrubs of
the usual kind, the soil was very sandy, and there was a good deal of
spinifex upon it.

The next day, still on a due east course (that on which he had travelled
from the lake), and at five miles from where he had slept, Mr. Browne
came on a salt lake, about 800 yards in circumference. A third of the bed
was under water, and half of the remainder was white with crystallized
salt, that glittered in the sun's rays, and looked like water at a
distance. At about five miles farther on there were two other lakes of
the same kind, but both were dry and without any salt deposits in their
beds. At five miles beyond these lakes Mr. Browne intersected the
Ana-branch of the Darling, which I had detached him to examine. To within
a short distance of the Ana-branch the country was similar to that
through which he had passed the day before, but on nearing it he crossed
an open plain. This old channel of the Darling had been crossed by Mr.
Eyre on a recent journey to the north, but at that time was dry. Where
Mr. Browne struck it the banks were rather high, and its course was N.W.
by W. It was about eighty yards wide, with a strong current running
upwards, caused by the back waters of the Murray. Its general course for
12 miles was N. by E. The country was very open, and high banks, similar
to those on the Murray, occurred alternately on either side. The channel
maintained the same appearance as far as Mr. Browne; rode and as he found
the waters still running upwards, he considered that the object of his
journey was attained, and that we should find no difficulty in pursuing
our route northwards along this new line. It may be necessary for me to
inform the reader that no water ever flows down the Ana-branch from the
north. When Mr. Eyre first arrived on its banks it was dry, and he was
consequently obliged to cross the country to the Darling itself, a
distance of between 40 and 50 miles. Pulcanti, the native I sent with Mr.
Browne, however, made a rough sketch of the two channels, by which it
appeared that the Ana-branch held very much to the eastward, in proof of
which he pointed to a high line of trees, at a great distance, as being
the line of the river Darling. Considering from this that, even if water
failed us in the Ana-branch, we should have no difficulty in crossing to
the main stream, and that however short our progress might be, it would
greatly curtail our journey to Laidley's Ponds, I decided on trying the
new route.

Mr. Browne saw a great many red kangaroos (foxy), some very young, others
very large; and he chased a jerboa, which escaped him. He also saw a new
bird with a black crest, about the size of a thrush.

The morning of the 14th had been cloudy, but the day was beautifully
fine; so that we had really enjoyed our march, if so it might be called.
From our tents there was a green and grassy slope to the shore of the
lake, with a group of two or three immense trees, at distances of several
hundred yards apart, and the tranquil waters lay backed by low blue
hills.

On the morning of the 15th the barometer fell to 27.672, the thermometer
standing at 56 degrees, at 8 a.m. The air was heavy, the sky dull, and
the flies exceedingly troublesome. All these indications of an
approaching change in the weather might have determined me to remain
stationary, but I was anxious to push on. I therefore directed Mr. Poole
to complete the survey of the lake, and at eleven moved the whole party
forward.

The picturesque scenery which had, up to this point, adorned the shores
of Lake Victoria ceased at two miles, when we suddenly and at once found
ourselves travelling on sand, at the same time amidst reeds. The rich
soil disappeared, the trees becoming stunted and low. As the travelling
was also bad, we went along the margin of the lake, where the sand was
firm, although marked with ripples like those left on the sea-shore by
the tide, between the water and a line of rubbish and weeds inside of us,
so that it appeared the lake had not yet risen so high as the former
year. We had moved round to its eastern side, which being its lea side
also, the accumulation of rubbish and sand was easily accounted for. We
traversed about eight miles of as dreary a shore as can be imagined,
backed, like Lake Bonney, by bare sand hills and barren flats, and
encamped, after a journey of thirteen miles, on a small plain, separated
from the lake by a low continuous sand ridge, on which the oat-grass was
most luxuriant. The indications of the barometer did not deceive us, for
soon after we started it began to rain, and did not cease for the rest of
the day, the wind being in the N.E. quarter.

It continued showery all night, nor on the morning of the 16th was there
any appearance of a favourable change. At nine a steady and heavy rain
setting in we remained stationary.

The floods in the Rufus had obliged us to make a complete circuit of the
lake, so that we had now approached that little stream to within six
miles from the eastward. Our friend Nadbuck, therefore, thinking that we
were about to leave the neighbourhood, rejoined the party. With him about
eighty natives came to see us, and encamped close to our tents;
forty-five men, sixteen women, and twenty-six children. I sent some of
the former out to hunt, but they were not successful.

Amongst the natives there were two strangers from Laidley's Ponds, the
place to which we were bound. The one was on his way to Moorundi, the
other on his return home. Pulcanti had given us a glowing account of
Laidley's Ponds, and had assured us that we should not only find water,
but plenty of grass beyond the hills to the N.W. of that place. This
account the strangers confirmed; and the one who was on his way home
expressing a wish to join us, I permitted him to do so; in the hope that,
what with him and old Nadbuck, we should be the less likely to have any
rupture with the Darling natives, who were looked upon by us with some
suspicion. I was, in truth, very glad to take a native of Williorara up
with me, because I entertained great doubts as to the reception we should
meet with from the tribe, on our arrival there, in consequence of the
unhappy occurrence that took place between them and Sir Thomas Mitchell,
during a former expedition; and I hoped also to glean from this native
some information as to the distant interior. Both the Darling natives
were fine specimens of their race. One in particular, Toonda, was a
good-looking fellow, with sinews as tough as a rope. It also appeared to
me that they had a darker shade of colour than the natives of the Murray.

Nadbuck turned out to be a merry old man, and a perfect politician in his
way, very fond of women and jimbuck (sheep), and exceedingly
good-humoured with all. He here brought Davenport a large quantity of the
fruit of the Fusanus, of which he made an excellent jam, too good indeed
to keep; but if we could have anticipated the disease by which we were
afterwards attacked, its preservation would have been above all price.
The natives do not eat this fruit in any quantity, nor do I think that in
its raw state it is wholesome. They appeared to me tol ive chiefly on
vegetables during the season of the year that we passed up the Murray,
herbs and roots certainly constituted their principal food.

I had hoped that the weather would have cleared during the night, but in
this I was disappointed. On the 17th we had again continued rain until
sunset, when the sky cleared to windward and the glass rose. We were
however unable to stir, and so lost another day. About noon Nadbuck came
to inform me that the young native from Laidley's Ponds, who was on his
way to Moorundi, had just told him that only a few days before he
commenced his journey, the Darling natives had attacked an overland party
coming down the river, and had killed them all, in number fifteen. I
therefore sent for the lad, and with Mr. Browne's assistance examined
him. He was perfectly consistent in his story; mentioned the number of
drays, and said that the white fellows were all asleep when the natives
attacked them amongst the lagoons, and that only one native, a woman, was
killed; the blacks, he added, had plenty of shirts and jackets. Doubtful
as I was of this story, and equally puzzled to guess what party could
have been coming down the Darling, it was impossible not to give some
little credit to the tale of this young cub; for he neither varied in his
account or hesitated in his reply to any question. I certainly feared
that some sad scene of butchery had taken place, and became the more
anxious to push my way up to the supposed spot, where it was stated to
have occurred, to save any one who might have escaped. I felt it my duty
also before leaving Lake Victoria to report what I had heard to the
Governor.

As the barometer fell before the rain, so it indicated a cessation of it,
by gradually rising. The weather had indeed cleared up the evening
before, but the morning of the 18th was beautifully fine and cool; we
therefore yoked up the cattle and took our departure from Lake Victoria
at 9 a.m. At first the ground was soft, but it soon hardened again.
Shortly after starting we struck a little creek, which trended to the
south, so that we were obliged to leave it, but we could trace the line
of trees on its banks to a considerable distance. We traversed plains of
great extent, keeping on the overland road until at length we gained the
river, and encamped on a small neck of land leading to a fine grassy
enclosure, into which we put our cattle. One side of this enclosure was
flanked by the river, the other by a beautiful lagoon, that looked more
like a scene on Virginia water than one in the wilds of Australia.

As we crossed the plains we again observed numerous cattle tracks, and
regularly beaten paths leading from the brushes to the river, to the very
point indeed where we encamped. The natives had previously informed us,
as far back as the place where we shot the first bullock, that we should
fall in with other cattle hereabouts; we did not however see any of them
during the day. Our tents were pitched on the narrow neck of land leading
to an enclosure into which we had turned our animals. It was so narrow
indeed that nothing could pass either in or out of it without being
observed by the guard, so that neither could our cattle escape or the
wild ones join them. It was clear, however, that we had cut off the
latter from their favourite pasture, for at night they were bellowing all
round us, and frequently approached close up to our fires. We had no
difficulty in distinguishing the lowing of the heifers from that of the
bullocks; of which last there appeared to be a large proportion in the
herd.

Some of our cattle were getting very sore necks, and our loads at this
time were too heavy for me to relieve them. Flood therefore suggested our
trying to secure two or three of the bullocks running in the bush. We
therefore arranged that a party should go out in the morning to scour the
wood, and drive any cattle they might find towards the river, at which I
was to be prepared to entice them to our animals. Accordingly Mr. Poole
and Mr. Browne, with Flood and Mack, started at sunrise. It was near
twelve, however, when Mr. Browne returned with Flood, who had met with a
sad accident, and had three of the first joints of the fingers of his
right hand carried off by the discharge of his fusee whilst loading. He
had incautiously put on the cap and was galloping at the time, but kept
his seat. Mr. Browne informed me they had seen a great many cattle, but
that they were exceedingly wild, and started off the moment the horsemen
appeared, insomuch that they could not turn them, and it was with a view
to drive them towards the river that Flood fired at them. However none
approached the camp. Mr. Poole returned late in the afternoon equally
unsuccessful. Mr. Browne dressed Flood's hand, who bore it exceedingly
well, and only expressed his regret that he should be of no use on the
Darling in the event of any rupture with the natives. I remained
stationary, as Mr. Browne thought it would be necessary to keep Flood
quiet for a day or two. On the following day we resumed our journey, and
reached the junction of the ancient channel of the Darling with the
Murray about 11. The floods were running into it with great velocity, and
the water had risen to a considerable height, so that many trees were
standing in it. I remained here until noon, when a meridian altitude
placed us in lat. 34 degrees 4 minutes 34 seconds. We then bade adieu to
the Murray, and turned northwards to overtake the party, which under
Nadbuck's guidance had cut off the angle into which we had gone. With the
Murray we lost its fine trees and grassy flats. The Ana-branch had a
broad channel and long reaches of water; but was wholly wanting in
pasture or timber of any size. The plains of the interior formed the
banks, and nothing but salsolae grew on them. We encamped at eight miles
from the junction, where there happened to be a little grass, but were
obliged to keep the cattle in yoke and the horses tethered to prevent
their wandering. As we advanced up the Ana-branch on the following day,
its channel sensibly diminished in breadth, and at eleven miles we
reached a hollow, beyond which the floods had not worked their way. Here
we found a tribe of natives, thirty-seven in number, by whom the account
we had heard of the massacre of the over-landers at the lagoons of the
Darling was confirmed. Nadbuck now informed me that we should have to
cross the Ana-branch and go to the eastward, and that it would be
necessary to start by dawn, as we should not reach the Darling before
sunset. Nadbuck had now become a great favourite, and there was a dry
kind of humour about him that was exceedingly amusing, at the same time
that his services were really valuable.

Toonda, on the other hand, was a man of singular temperament. He was
good-looking and more intelligent than any native I had ever before seen.
His habit was spare, but his muscles were firm, and his sinews like
whipcord He must indeed have had great confidence in his own powers to
have undertaken a journey of more than 200 miles from his own home. He
was very taciturn, and would rather remain at the officers' fire than
join his fellows.

The country we had passed through during the day had been miserable.
Plains of great extent flanked the Ana-branch on either side, on which
there were sandy undulations covered with stunted cypress trees or low
brush.

Flood had from the time of his accident suffered great pain; but as he
did not otherwise complain, Mr. Browne did not entertain any apprehension
as to his having any attack of fever.

On the morning of the 24th, the natives paid us an early visit with their
boys, and remained at the camp until we started. At the head of the water
they had made a weir, through the boughs of which the current was running
like a sluice; but the further progress of the floods was stopped by a
bank that had been gradually thrown up athwart the channel. Crossing the
Ana-branch at this point, we struck across barren sandy plains, on a
N.N.E. course. From them we entered a low brush, in which there were more
dead than living trees. At four miles this brush terminated, and we had
again to traverse open barren plains. At their termination we had to
force our way through a second brush, consisting for the most part of
fusani, acaciae, hakeae, and other low shrubs, but there were no
cypresses here as in the first brush. On gaining more open ground, the
country gradually rose before us, and a ferruginous conglomerate cropped
out in places. We at length began our descent towards the valley of the
Darling. The country became better wooded: the box-tree was growing on
partially flooded land, and there was no deficiency of grass. Mr. Browne
went on a-head with Toonda and Flood, whilst I and Mr. Poole remained
with the party. From the appearance of the country, however, I
momentarily expected to come on the river; but the approach to it from
the westward is extremely deceptive, and we had several miles of box-tree
flats to traverse before the gum-trees shewed their white bark in the
distance. We reached the Darling at half-past five, as the sun's almost
level beams were illuminating the flats, and every blade of grass and
every reed appeared of that light and brilliant green which they assume
when held up to the light. The change from barrenness and sterility to
richness and verdure was sudden and striking, and nothing certainly could
have been more cheering or cheerful than our first camp on the Darling
River. The scene itself was very pretty. Beautiful and drooping trees
shaded its banks, and the grass in its channel was green to the water's
edge. Evening's mildest radiance seemed to linger on a scene so fair, and
there was a mellow haze in the distance that softened every object. The
cattle and horses were up to their flanks in grass and young reeds, and
plants indicative of a better soil, such as the sowthistle, the mallow,
peppermint, and indigofera were growing in profusion around us. Close to
our tents there was a large and hollow gum-tree, in which a new fishing
net had been deposited, but where the owner intended to use it was a
puzzle to us, for it was impossible that any fish could remain in the
shallow and muddy waters of the Darling; which was at its lowest ebb, and
the current was so feeble that I doubted if it really flowed at all.
Whether the natives anticipated the flood which shortly afterwards
swelled it I cannot say, although I am led to believe they did, either
from habit or experience.

So abundant had been the feed that none of the cattle stirred out of
sight of the camp, and we should have started at an early hour, but for
the visit of an old native, the owner of the net we had discovered. It
was with some hesitation that he crossed the river to us, but he did so;
and as soon as he saw me he recognised me as having been in the boat on
the Murray in 1830, though fourteen years had passed since that time, and
he could only have seen me for an hour or two. He was not, however,
singular in his recollection of me, since one of the natives of the
Ana-branch also recollected me; and Tenbury, the native constable at
Moorundi, not only knew me the moment he saw me, but observed that a
little white man sat by my side in the stern of the boat, and that I had
something before me, which was a compass. There was a suspicious manner
about our visitor, for which we could not very well account; but it arose
from doubts he entertained as to the safety of his net, for after he had
seen that it had not been taken away, his demeanour changed, and he
expressed great satisfaction that we had not touched it.

We commenced our journey up the Darling at nine o'clock, on a course
somewhat to the westward {EASTWARD in published text} of north.
We passed flat after flat of the most vivid green, ornamented by clumps
of trees, sufficiently apart to give a most picturesque finish to the
landscape. Trees of denser foliage and deeper shade dropped over the
river, forming long dark avenues, and the banks of the river, grassed
to the water, had the appearance of having been made so by art.

We halted, after a journey of fourteen miles, on a flat little inferior
to that we had left, and again turned the cattle out to feed on the
luxuriant herbage around them.

The Darling must have been in the state in which we found it for a great
length of time, and I am led to infer, from the very grassy nature of its
bed, that it seldoms contains water to any depth, or length of time,
since in such case the grass would be killed. Its flats, like those of
the Murray, are backed by lagoons, but they had long been dry, and the
trees growing round them were either dead or dying.

With the exception of the tribe at the Ana-branch, and the old man, we
had seen no natives since leaving the Murray; but, from the reports we
had heard of the recent massacre of the overland party at Williorara, and
the character of the Darling blacks, I was induced to take double
precautions as I journeyed up the river, and had the camp so formed that
it could not be surprised. Two drays were ranged close to each other on
either side, the boat carriage formed a face to the rear, and the tents
occupied the front; thus leaving sufficient room in the centre to fold
the sheep in netting. The guard, augmented to six men, occupied a tent at
one angle. My own tent was in the centre of the front, and another tent
at the angle opposite the guard tent. So that it would have been
difficult for the natives to have got at the sheep (which they most
coveted), without alarming us. Still, although we had no apprehension of
the natives, both Nadbuck and Toonda were constantly on the watch, and it
was evident the former considered himself in no mean capacity at this
time. He put on an air of great importance, and shewed great anxiety
about our next interview with the natives; but Toonda took everything
quietly, and there was a haughty bearing about him, that contrasted
strangely with the bustling importance of his companion.

We here heard that there was a large encampment of natives about three
miles above us, but none of them ventured to our camp; nor, it is more
than probable, were the people aware of our being in the neighbourhood;
but our friend Nadbuck, as I have stated, was in a great bustle, and
shewed infinite anxiety on the occasion. Neither were his apprehensions
allayed on the following morning when we started. He went in advance to
prepare the natives for our approach, and to ask permission for us to
pass through their territory, but returned without having found them. Not
long afterwards it was reported that the natives were in front.

On hearing this the old gentleman begged of me to stop the party, and
away he went, full of bustle and importance, to satisfy himself. In a few
minutes he returned and said we might go on. We had halted close to the
brow of a gentle descent into a small creek junction at this particular
spot, and on advancing a few paces came in view of the natives, assembled
on the bank of the river below. Men only were present, but they appeared
to have been taken by surprise, and were in great alarm. They had their
spears for hunting, and a few hostile weapons, but not many; and
certainly had not met together with any hostile intention.

Some of the men were very good looking and well made, but I think the
natives of the Darling generally are so. They looked with astonishment on
the drays, which passed close to them; and I observed that several of
them trembled greatly. At this time Nadbuck had walked to some little
distance with two old men, holding each by the hand in the most
affectionate manner, and he was apparently in deep and earnest
conversation with them. Toonda, on the other hand, had remained seated on
one of the drays, until it descended into the creek. He then got off, and
walking up to the natives, folded his blanket round him with a haughty
air, and eyed the whole of them with a look of stern and unbending pride,
if not of ferocity. Whether it was that his firmness produced any effect
I cannot say, but after one of the natives had whispered to another, he
walked up to Toonda and saluted him, by putting his hands on his
shoulders and bending his head until it touched his breast. This Toonda
coldly returned, and then stood as frigid as before, until the drays
moved on, when he again resumed his seat and left them without uttering a
word. Nadbuck had separated from his friends, after having as it seemed
imparted to them some important information, and coming up to myself and
Mr. Browne, whispered to us, "Bloody rogue that fellow, you look after
jimbuck." The contrast between these two men was remarkable: the crafty
duplicity of the one, and the haughty bearing of the other. But I am led
to believe that there was some latent cause for Toonda's conduct, since
he asked me to shoot the natives, and was so excited that he pushed his
blanket into his mouth, and bit it violently in his anger. On this I
offered him a pistol to shoot them himself, but he returned it to me with
a smile. Of course it will be understood that I should not have allowed
him to fire it.

Two of the old men followed when we left the other natives, to whom I
made presents in the afternoon; but it is remarkable that many of them
trembled whilst we staid with them, and although their women were not
present, they hovered on the opposite bank of the Darling all the time.
We kept wide of the river almost all day, travelling between the scrub
and lagoons, but we had occasionally to ascend and cross ridges of loose
sand, over which the bullock-drivers were obliged to help each other with
their teams. There was not the slightest change in the character of the
distant interior, but the vicinity of the Darling was thickly timbered
for more than three-quarters of a mile from its banks, but the wood was
valueless for building purposes.

I was exceedingly surprised at the course of the river at this point. We
had gone a good deal to the eastward the day before, but on this day we
sometimes travelled on a course to the southward of east, and never for
the whole day came higher up than east by north. The consequence was,
that we proceeded into a deep bight, and made no progress northwards up
the river. At our camp it had dwindled to a mere thread, so narrow was
the line of water in its bed. Its banks were as even and as smooth as
those of a fortification, and covered with a thick, even sward. There was
no perceptible current and the water was all muddy; but the scenery in
its precincts was still verdant and picturesque, grassy flats with
ornamental trees succeeding each other at every bend of the stream.

The dogs killed a large kangaroo on the plains, the greater part of which
we gave to the natives, all indeed but a leg, which Jones, whose duty it
was to feed them, reserved for the dogs. Yet this appropriation excited
Toonda's anger. "Kangaroo mine, sheep yours," said he, threatening Jones
with his waddy; but he soon recovered his temper, and carried off his
share of the animal, subduing his feelings with as much apparent facility
as he had given vent to them.

About this time the weather had become much warmer, although we had
occasional cold winds. We started early on the morning of the 27th,
without the intention of making a long journey, because the bullocks had
been kept in yoke all night. We travelled for six miles over firm and
even plains, but soon afterwards got upon deep sand, through which the
teams fairly ploughed their way. I therefore turned towards the river,
and encamped on the first flat we reached, having run about ten miles on
an east-north-east course.

We here found the Darling so diminished in size, and so still, that I
began to doubt whether or not we should find water higher up. Its
channel, however preserved the appearance of a canal, with sloping grassy
sides, shaded by trees of drooping habit and umbrageous foliage, but the
soil of the flats had become sandy, and they appeared to be more subject
to inundation than usual.

About this time I regretted to observe that many of the bullocks had sore
necks, and I was in consequence obliged to make a different distribution
of them; an alternative always better if possible to avoid, as men become
attached to their animals, and part even with bad ones reluctantly.

On counting our sheep at this camp, I found that we had 186 remaining.
Toonda came as usual to take his share of one that had just been killed;
but I said, No! that, according to his own shewing, he had no claim to
any--thinking this the best way of speaking to his reason.

He seemed much astonished at the view I took of the matter, but on his
acknowledging himself in error, I forgave his recent ebullition and
allowed him his wonted meal; for, although I was always disposed to be
kind to the natives, I still felt it right to shew them that they were
not to be unruly. Neither is it without great satisfaction that I look
back to the intercourse I have had with these people, from the fact of my
never having had occasion to raise my arm in hostility agianst them.

The cattle fared well on the luxuriant grass into which they had been
turned when we halted, and as they had no inducement to wander, so they
were close to the camp at daybreak, and we started at 7 on an
east-north-east course, which at a mile we changed to a northerly one;
but soon afterwards finding that a pine ridge crossed our course, and
extended to the banks of the river, I turned to the north-west to avoid
it, but the country becoming generally sandy I again turned towards the
stream, and by going round the sandy points instead of over them,
lessened the labour to the cattle, although I increased the distance. We
were glad to find that the Darling held a general northerly course, or
one somewhat to the westward of that point, for we had during the last
three or four days made a great deal of easting, and I had thus been
prevented making the rapid progress I anticipated to Laidley's Ponds.

I had observed for more than twenty miles below us that the immediate
precincts of the river were not so rich in soil, or the flats so
extensive as at first; they now however began to open out, and assumed
the character and size of those of the Murray. The state of the two
rivers however was very different, for the Darling still continued
without breadth or current, (I speak of its appearance in lat. 33 degrees
43 minutes S.) whilst the Murray ever presents its bright and expanded
waters to the view.

We had communicated with a native tribe the day before that of which I am
now speaking, and again this day fell in with another, which we evidently
took by surprise. All the men had their spears, but on seeing us approach
they quietly deposited them under a tree. Amongst these people there was
another native who recognised me as an old acquaintance of fourteen
years' standing; but I began to doubt these patriarchs, to whom I
generally made a present for old acquaintance sake. This tribe numbered
forty-eight. All of them were handsome and well-made men, though short in
stature, and their lower extremities bore some proportion to their busts.

For the first time this day we observed a ferruginous sandstone in the
bed of the Darling, and saw it cropping out from under the sand hills on
the western extremity of the flats.

Shortly after leaving the natives we arrived at a small plain, where they
could only just have killed a kangaroo that was lying on the ground
partly prepared for cooking. On seeing it I ordered the dogs to be tied
up, and left it untouched. Indeed if I had been fortunate enough to kill
a kangaroo at this place, I would have given it to these poor people.
Three of them, who afterwards came to our camp, mentioned the
circumstance, and seemed to be sensible of our feelings towards them.
There can be no doubt but that the Australian aboriginal is strongly
susceptible of kindness, as has been abundantly proved to me, and to the
influence of such feeling I doubtlessly owe my life; for if I had treated
the natives harshly, and had thrown myself into their power afterwards,
as under a kind but firm system I have ever done without the slightest
apprehension, they would most assuredly have slain me; and when I assure
the reader that I have traversed the country in every direction, meeting
numerous tribes of natives, with two men only, and with horses so jaded
that it would have been impossible to have escaped, he will believe that
I speak my real sentiments. Equally so the old native, (to whom the net
we discovered in the hollow of a tree where we first struck the Darling
belonged), evinced the greatest astonishment and gratification, when he
found that his treasure had been untouched by us.

The flats of the Darling are certainly of great extent, but their verdure
reached no farther than the immediate precincts of the river at this part
of its course. Beyond its immediate neighbourhood they are perfectly
bare, but lightly wooded, having low and useless box-trees (the Gobero of
Sir Thomas Mitchell), growing on them. Their soil is a tenacious clay,
blistered and rotten. These flats extend to uncertain distances from the
river, and vary in breadth from a quarter of a mile to two miles or more.
Beyond them the country is sandy, desolate, and scrubby. Pine ridges,
generally lying parallel to the stream, render travelling almost
impracticable where they exist, whilst the deep fissures and holes on the
flats, into which it is impossible to prevent the drays from falling,
give but little room for selection. Our animals were fairly worn out by
hard pulling on the one, and being shaken to pieces on the other.

Some days prior to the 29th, Mr. Browne and I, on examining the waters of
the river, thought that we observed a more than usual current in it;
grass and bark were floating on its surface, and it appeared as if the
water was pushed forward by some back impulse. On the 28th it was still
as low as ever; but on the morning of the 29th, when we got up it was
wholly changed. In a few hours it had been converted into a noble river,
and had risen more than five feet above its recent level. It was now
pouring along its muddy waters with foaming impetuosity, and carrying
away everything before it. Whence, it may be asked, come these floods?
and was it from the same cause that the Murray, as Tenbury stated, rose
so suddenly? Such were the questions that occurred to me. From the
natives I could gather nothing satisfactory. We were at this time between
three and four hundred miles from the sources of the Darling, and I could
hardly think that this fresh had come from such a distance. I was the
more disposed to believe, perhaps, because I hoped such would be the
case, that it was caused by heavy rains in the hills to the north-west of
Laidley's Ponds, and that it was pouring into the river through that
rivulet.

The natives who had accompanied us from the last tribe left at sunset, as
is their custom, after having received two blankets and some knives.
Being anxious to get to Laidley's Ponds, I started early, with the
intention of making a long journey, but circumstances obliged me to halt
at six miles. We crossed extensive and rich flats the whole of the way,
and found as usual an abundance of feed for our cattle. It would perhaps
be hazardous to give an opinion as to the probable availability of the
flats of the Darling: those next the stream had numerous herbs, as
spinach, indigoferae, clover, etc., all indicative of a better soil; but
the out flats were bare of vegetation, although there was no apparent
difference in their soil. One peculiarity is observable in the Darling,
that neither are there any reeds growing in its channel or on the flats.

Our journey on the last day of September terminated at noon, as we
arrived at a point from which it was evident the river takes a great
sweep to the eastward; and Nadbuck informed me that by going direct to
the opposite point, where, after coming up again, it turned to the north,
we should cut off many miles, but that it would take a whole day to
perform the journey. I determined therefore to follow his advice, and to
commence our journey across the bight at an early hour the following
morning, the 1st of October. I availed myself of the remainder of the day
to examine the country for some miles to the westward, but there was no
perceptible change in it. The same barren plains, covered sparingly with
salsolae and atriplex, characterised this distant part of the interior;
and sandy ridges covered with stunted cypress trees, acaciae, hakeae, and
other similar shrubs, proved to me that the productions of it were as
unchanged as the soil.

As we had arranged, we broke up our camp earlier than usual on the 1st of
October, for, from what Nadbuck had stated, I imagined that we had a long
journey before us; but after going fifteen miles, we gained the river,
and found that it was again trending to the north. It had now risen more
than bank high, and some of its flats were partly covered with water. We
had kept a N.N.W. course the whole day, and crossed hard plains without
any impediment; but, although we kept at a great distance from the
stream, we did not observe any improvement in the aspect of the country.

Our specimens, both of natural history and botany, were as yet very
scanty; but we found a new and beautiful shrub in blossom, on some of the
plains as we crossed the bight; and Mr. Browne discovered three nests of
a peculiar rat, that have been partially described by Sir Thomas
Mitchell.

Mr. Browne was fortunate enough to secure one of these animals, which is
here figured. The nests they construct are made of sticks, varying in
length from three inches to three feet, and in thickness from the size of
a quill to the size of the thumb. They were arranged in a most systematic
manner, so as to form a compact cone like a bee-hive, four feet in
diameter at the base, and three feet high. This fabric is so firmly
built, as to be pulled to pieces with difficulty. One of these nests had
five holes or entrances from the bottom, nearly equi-distant from each
other, with passages leading to a hole in the ground, beneath which I am
led to conclude they had their store. There were two nests of grass in
the centre of the pyramid, and passages running up to them diagonally
from the bottom. The sticks, which served for the foundations of the
nests, were not more than two or three inches long, and so disposed as to
form a compact flooring, whilst the roofs were arched. The nests were
close together, but in separate compartments, with passages communicating
from the one to the other.

In a pyramid that we subsequently opened, there was a nest nearly at the
top; so that it would appear that these singular structures are common to
many families, and that the animals live in communities. The heap of
sticks, thus piled up, would fill four large-sized wheel-barrows, and
must require infinite labour. This ingenious little animal measures six
inches from the tip of the nose to the tail, which is six inches long.
The length of the head is two and a half inches, of the ears one and a
quarter, and one inch in breadth. Its fur is of a light brown colour, and
of exceedingly fine texture. It differs very little in appearance from
the common rat, if I except the length of its ears, and an apparent
disproportion in the size of the hind feet, which were large. The one
figured is a male, which I obtained from one of the natives who followed
us to the camp.

At this period of our journey the weather was exceedingly cold, and the
winds high. We were about 45 miles from Laidley's Ponds; but could not,
from the most elevated point, catch a glimpse of the ranges in its
neighbourhood. It appeared to me that the river flats were getting
smaller on both sides of it, the river still continuing to rise. It was
now pouring down a vast body of water into the Murray. There was,
however, an abundance of luxuriant pasture along its banks. Late in the
afternoon the lubras (wives) of the natives, at our camp, made their
appearance on the opposite side of the river, and Nadbuck, who was a
perfect gallant, wanted to invite them over; but I told him that I would
cut off the head of the first who came over with my long knife--my sword.
The old gentleman went off to Mr. Browne, to whom he made a long
complaint, asking him if he really thought I should execute my threat.
Mr. Browne assured him that he was quite certain I should not only cut
off the lubra's head, but his too. On this Nadbuck expressed his
indignation; but however much he might have ventured to risk the lubra's
necks, he had no idea of risking his own.

One of the natives who visited us at this place was very old, with hair
as white as snow. To this man I gave a blanket, feeling assured it would
be well bestowed; although a circumstance occurred that had well night
prevented my behaving with my usual liberality to the natives who were
here with us. The butcher had been killing a sheep, and carelessly left
the steel, an implement we could ill spare, under the tree in which he
had slung the animal: and it was instantly taken by the natives. On
hearing this, I sent for Nadbuck and Toonda, and told them that I should
not stir until the steel was brought back, or make any more presents on
the river. On this there was a grand consultation between the two. Toonda
at length went to the natives, who had retired to some little distance,
and, after some earnest remonstrances, he walked to the tree near which
the sheep had been killed, and, after looking at the ground for a moment,
began to root up the ground with his toes, when he soon discovered the
stolen article, and brought it to me. The thief was subsequently brought
forward, and we made him thoroughly ashamed of himself; although I have
no doubt the whole tribe would have applauded his dexterity if he had
succeeded.

The day was exceedingly cold, as the two or three previous ones had been,
but still the temperature was delightful. We travelled, on this day,
across the river flats, which again opened out to a distance of two or
three miles; the ground, however, was of a most distressing character,
and we had to cross several sandy points projecting into them, so that
the poor animals were much jaded. This, however, was only the beginning
of their troubles, for we were, in like manner, obliged to travel for
several successive days over the same kind of ground--land on which
floods have gradually subsided, and which has been blistered and cracked
by solar heat. Travelling on this kind of ground was, indeed, more
distressing to the cattle than even the hard pull over sand; for it was
impossible for the bullock-drivers to steer clear of the many fissures
and holes on these flats, and the shock, when the drays fell into any of
them, was so great, that it shook the poor brutes almost to pieces.

From this period to the 9th there was a sameness in our progress up the
Darling. On the 3rd we crossed a small creek, into which the waters of
the river were flowing fast; and which both Nadbuck and Toonda informed
us joined Yertello Lake, and that the Ana-branch was on the other side of
the lake. This explanation accounted to us for a statement made by
Toonda, shortly after he first joined us, that the Ana-branch hereabouts
formed a great lake. On the 4th a little rain fell, but not in such
quantity as to interfere with our travelling. On the 5th we passed a
tribe of natives, in number about thirty-four. We were again led by
Nadbuck across the country, to avoid the more circuitous route along the
river. We passed through a more pleasing country than usual, and one that
was better timbered and better grassed than it had been at any distance
from the river.

I have mentioned that Toonda was attended by a young lad, his nephew,
who, with another young lad, joined us at Lake Victoria. These two young
lads used to keep in front with myself or Mr. Poole, or Mr. Browne, and
were quite an amusement to us. This day both of them disappeared, not
very long after we passed the last tribe. On making inquiries I
ascertained, to my surprise, that they had been forcibly taken back by
three men from the last tribe, and that both cried most bitterly at
leaving the party. The loss of his nephew greatly afflicted poor Toonda,
who sobbed over it for a long time. We could not understand why the
natives had thus detained the boys; but, I believe, they were members of
that tribe, between which and a tribe higher up the river some ground of
quarrel existed. After the departure of these boys we had only three
natives with us, who had been with the party from Lake Victoria, i. e.
Nadbuck, Toonda, and Munducki, a young man who had attached himself to
Kirby, who cooked for the men. The latter turned out to be a son of old
Boocolo, a chief of the Williorara tribe, whom I shall, ere long, have
occasion to introduce to the reader. Mr. Browne, with the assistance of
Nadbuck, gathered a good deal of information from the natives then with
us, as to the inhospitable character of the country to the north-west of
the Williorara, or Laidley's Ponds, that agreed very little with the
accounts we had previously heard. They stated that we should not be able
to cross the ranges, as they were covered with sharp pointed stones and
great rocks, that would fall on and crush us to death; but that if we did
get across them to the low country on the other side, the heat would kill
us all. That we should find neither water or grass, or wood to light a
fire with. That the native wells were very deep, and that the cattle
would be unable to drink out of them; and, finally, that the water was
salt, and that the natives let down bundles of rushes to soak it up.

Such was the account the natives gave of the region into which we were
going. We were of course aware that a great deal was fiction, but I was
fully prepared to find it bad enough. From the opinion I had formed of
the distant interior, and from my knowledge of the country, both to the
eastward and westward of me, I had no hope of finding it good within any
reasonable distance.

Prepared, however, as I was for a bad country, I was not prepared for
such as the natives described.

It was somewhat strange, that as we neared the supposed scene of the
slaughter of the overlanders, we should fail in obtaining intelligence
regarding it; neither were the natives, who must have participated in it,
so high up the river as we now were, afraid of approaching us, as they
undoubtedly would have been if they had been parties to it. I began,
therefore, to suspect that it was one of those reports which the natives
are, unaccountably, so fond of spreading without any apparent object in
view.

As we approached Williorara the course of the river upwards was somewhat
to the westward of north. The country had an improved appearance as we
ascended it, and grass seemed to be more generally distributed over the
flats. We passed several large lagoons, which had already been filled
from the river, and were much pleased with the picturesque scenery round
them.

On the 7th Jones broke the pole of his dray, and Morgan again broke his
shaft, but we managed to repair both without the loss of much time--and
made about ten miles of northing during the day.

We hereabouts shot several new birds; and the dogs killed a very fine
specimen of the Dipus of Mitchell, but, unfortunately, in the scuffle,
they mangled it so much that we could not preserve it.

On the 8th the weather was oppressively hot, but we managed to get on
some fifteen miles before we halted.

Our journey up the Darling had been of greater length than I had
anticipated, and it appeared to me that I could not do better than reduce
the ration of flour at this early stage of the expedition to provide the
more certainly for the future. I accordingly reduced it to eight pounds a
week, still continuing to the men their full allowance of meat and other
things.

Nadbuck had assured me on the 9th that if the bullocks did not put out
their tongues we should get to Laidley's Ponds that day, but I hardly
anticipated it myself, although I was aware we could not be many miles
from them.

We had a great many natives in the neighbourhood at our encampment of the
8th, but they did not approach the tents. Their families generally were
on the opposite side of the river, but one man had his lubra and two
children on our side of it. My attention was drawn to him, from his
perseverance in cutting a bark canoe, at which he laboured for more than
an hour without success. Mr. Browne walked with me to the tree at which
he was working, and I found that his only tool was a stone tomahawk, and
that with such an implement he would hardly finish his work before dark.
I therefore sent for an iron tomahawk, which I gave to him, and with
which he soon had the bark cut and detached. He then prepared it for
launching by puddling up its ends, and putting it into the water, placed
his lubra and an infant child in it, and giving her a rude spear as a
paddle pushed her away from the bank. She was immediately followed by a
little urchin who was sitting on the bank, the canoe being too fragile to
receive him; but he evidently doubted his ability to gain the opposite
bank of the river, and it was most interesting to mark the anxiety of
both parents as the little fellow struck across the foaming current. The
mother kept close beside him in the canoe, and the father stood on the
bank encouraging his little son. At length they all landed in safety,
when the native came to return the tomahawk, which he understood to have
been only lent to him. However I was too much pleased with the scene I
had witnessed to deprive him of it, nor did I ever see a man more
delighted than he was when he found that the tomahawk, the value and
superiority of which he had so lately proved was indeed his own. He
thanked me for it, he eyed it with infinite satisfaction, and then
turning round plunged into the stream and joined his family on the
opposite bank.

We journeyed as usual over the river flats, and occasionally crossed
narrow sandy parts projecting into them. From one of these Mr. Poole was
the first to catch a glimpse of the hills for which we had been looking
out so long and anxiously. They apparently formed part of a low range,
and bore N.N.W. from him, but his view was very indistinct, and a small
cone was the only marked object he could distinguish. He observed a line
of gum-trees extending to the westward, and a solitary signal fire bore
due west from him, and threw up a dark column of smoke high into the sky
above that depressed interior. A meridian altitude placed us in latitude
32 degrees 33 minutes 0 seconds S., from which it appeared that we were
not more than eight or ten miles from Laidley's Ponds, but we halted
short of them, and received visits from a great many of the natives
during the afternoon, who came to us with their families, a circumstance
which led me to hope that we should get on very well with them. Poor
Toonda here heard of the death of some relative during his absence, and
had a great cry over it. He and the native who communicated the news sat
down opposite to one another with crossed legs, and their hands on each
other's shoulders. They then inclined their heads forward, so as to rest
on each other's breasts and wept violently. This overflow of grief,
however, did not last long, and Toonda shortly afterwards came to me for
some flour for his friend, who he said was very hungry.

As it appeared to me that we should have to remain for some time in the
neighbourhood of Laidley's Ponds, I had directed my inquiries to the
state of the country near them, and learnt both from Nadbuck and Toonda,
that we should find an abundance of grass for the cattle. I was not
however very well satisfied with the change that had taken place within a
few miles, in the appearance of the river, and the size of the flats,
these latter having greatly diminished, and become less verdant. On the
10th we started on a west course, but at about a mile changed it for a
due north one, which we kept for about five miles over plains rather more
than usually elevated above the river flats. From these plains the range
was distinctly visible, now bearing N. 10 degrees E., and N. 26 degrees
and 38 degrees W., distant 35 miles. It still appeared low, nor could we
make out its character; three cones marked its southern extremity, and I
concluded that it was a part of Scrope's Range. With the exception of
these hills there were none other visible from Laidley's Ponds.

The ground whereon we now travelled was hard and firm, so that we
progressed rapidly, and at five miles descended into a bare flat of
whitish clay, on which a few bushes of polygonum were alone growing under
box-trees. At about two hundred yards we were stopped by a watercourse,
into which the floods of the Darling were flowing with great velocity. It
was about fifty yards broad, had low muddy banks, and was decidedly the
poorest spot we had seen of the kind. This, Nadbuck informed me, was the
Williorara or Laidley's Ponds, a piece of intelligence at which I was
utterly confounded. I could not but reproach both him and Toonda for
having so deceived me; but the latter said he had been away a long time
and that there was plenty of grass when he left. Nadbuck, on the other
hand, said he derived his information from others, and only told me what
they told him. Be that as it may, it was impossible for me to remain in
such a place, and I therefore turned back towards the Darling, and
pitched my tents at its junction with the Williorara.

For three or four days prior to our arrival at Laidley's Ponds, the
upward course of the river had been somewhat to the west of north. The
course of Laidley's Ponds was exceedingly tortuous, but almost due west.
The natives explained to us that it served as a channel of communication
between two lakes that were on either side of it, called Minandichi and
Cawndilla. They stated that the former extended between the Darling and
the ranges, but that Cawndilla was to the westward at the termination of
Laidley's Ponds, by means of which it is filled with water every time the
Darling rose; but they assured me that the waters had not yet reached the
lake. It was nevertheless evident that we were in an angle, and our
position was anything but a favourable one. From the point where we had
now arrived the upward course of the Darling for 300 miles is to the
N.E., that which I was anxious to take, was to the W.N.W. It was evident,
therefore, that until every attempt to penetrate the interior in that
direction had proved impracticable, I should not have been justified in
pushing farther up the river. My hopes of finding the Williorara a
mountain stream had been wholly disappointed, and the intelligence both
Mr. Eyre and I had received of it from the Murray natives had turned out
to be false, for instead of finding it a medium by which to gain the
hills, I now ascertained that it had not a course of more than nine or
ten miles, and that it stood directly in my way. We were as yet ignorant
what the conduct of the natives towards us would be, having seen none or
very few who could have taken part in the dispute between Sir Thomas
Mitchell and the Williorara tribe in 1836. Expecting that they might be
hostilely disposed towards us, I hesitated leaving the camp, lest any
rupture should take place between my men and the natives during my
absence; much less could I think of fortifying the party in a position
from which, in the event of an attack, they would find it difficult to
retreat. I thought it best therefore to move the camp to a more distant
situation with as little delay as possible, and send Mr. Poole to visit
the ranges, and ascertain from their summit the probable character of the
N.W. interior.

Having come to this decision, I procured a guide to accompany that
officer to the hills, who accordingly started for them, with Mr. Stuart,
my draftsman, the morning after our arrival at the ponds. Some of the
natives had informed us that there was plenty of feed at the head of
Cawndilla Lake, a distance of seven or eight miles to the W.S.W.; but we
could not understand from them how far the waters of the Darling had
passed up the creek, although it was clear from what they said that they
had not yet reached Cawndilla. My instructions to Mr. Poole were framed
with a view to our removal from our present position nearer to the
ranges, and I therefore told him to cross the creek at the head of the
water, and if he should find grass there, to return to the camp, if not,
to continue his journey to the hills, and use every effort to find water
and feed. We had had a good deal of rain during the night of the 10th;
the morning of the 11th was hazy, with the wind at S.W., and there
appeared to be every prospect of continued wet. Under less urgent
circumstances, therefore, I should have detained Mr. Poole until the
weather cleared, but our movements at this time were involved in too much
uncertainty to admit of delay. I had hoped that the morning would have
cleared, but a light rain set in and continued for several days.

We had seen fewer natives on the line of the Darling than we had
expected; but as we approached Williorara they were in greater numbers.
Our tents were hardly pitched at that place, when, as I have observed, we
were visited by the local tribe, with their women and children, who sat
down at some little distance from the drays, and contented themselves
with watching our motions. I had tea made for the ladies, of which they
seemed to approve highly, and gave the youngsters two or three lumps of
sugar a-piece. The circumstance of the women and children thus venturing
to us, satisfied me that no present hostile movement was contemplated by
the men; but, not-withstanding that there was a seeming friendly feeling
towards us, there was a suspicious manner about them, which placed me
doubly on my guard, and caused me to doubt the issue of our protracted
sojourn in the neighbourhood.

I had several of the natives in my tent, and with Mr. Browne's assistance
questioned them closely as to the character of the country to the north
west, but we could gather nothing from what they said. They spoke of it
in terror, as a region into which they did not dare to venture, and gave
me dreadful accounts of the rocks and difficulties against which I should
have to contend. They agreed, however, in saying that there was both
water and grass at the lake; in consequence, I sent Mr. Browne with
Nadbuck to examine the locality on the morning of the 12th, as the
distance was not greater than from six to seven miles. He returned about
one P. M., and informed me that there was plenty of feed for the cattle,
and water also; but that the water was at least a mile and a half from
the grass, which was growing in tufts round the edge of the lake. It
appeared that the Williorara made a circuitous and extensive sweep and
entered Cawndilla on the opposite side to that of the river, so that he
had to cross a portion of the lake, and thus found that the floods had
not reached it. Mr. Browne also stated that the extent of the lake was
equal to that of Lake Victoria, but that it could at no time be more than
eighteen inches deep. It was indeed nothing more than a shallow basin
filled by river floods, and retaining them for a short time only. Immense
numbers of fish, however, pass into these temporary reservoirs, which may
thus be considered as a providential provision for the natives, whose
food changes with the season. At this period they subsisted on the
barilla root, a species of rush which they pound and make into cakes, and
some other vegetables; their greatest delicacy being the large
caterpillar (laabka), producing the gum-tree moth, an insect they procure
out of the ground at the foot of those trees, with long twigs like
osiers, having a small hook at the end. The twigs are sometimes from
eight to ten feet long, so deep do these insects bury themselves in the
ground.

Mr. Browne communicated with a tribe of natives, one of whom, a very tall
woman, as well as her child, was of a copper colour.

From the information he gave me of the neighbourhood of Cawndilla, I
determined, on the return of Mr. Poole, and in the event of his not
having found a better position, to move to that place; for it was evident
from his continued absence that he must have crossed the creek at a
distance from the lake, and not seeing any grass in its neighbourhood,
had pushed on to the hills. I was now anxious for his return, for we had
had almost ceaseless though not heavy rain since he left us. On the 12th,
the day he started, we had thunder; on the 13th it was showery, with wind
at N.W., and the thermometer at 62 degrees at 3 P. M., and the barometer
at 29.742; the boiling point of water being 211.25.

Assuming Sir Thomas Mitchell's data to be correct, my position here was
in long. 142 degrees 5 minutes E., and in lat. 32 degrees 25 minutes S.




CHAPTER IV.



TOONDA'S TRIBE--DISPOSITION OF THE NATIVES--ARRIVAL OF CAMBOLI--HIS
ENERGY OF CHARACTER--MR. POOLE'S RETURN--LEAVE THE DARLING--REMARKS ON
THAT RIVER--CAWNDILLA--THE OLD BOOCOLO--LEAVE THE CAMP FOR THE
HILLS--REACH A CREEK--WELLS--TOPAR'S MISCONDUCT--ASCEND THE
RANGES--RETURN HOMEWARDS--LEAVE CAWNDILLA WITH A PARTY--REACH
PARNARI--MOVE TO THE HILLS--JOURNEY TO N. WEST--HEAVY RAINS--RETURN TO
CAMP--MR. POOLE LEAVES--LEAVE THE RANGES--DESCENT TO THE PLAINS--MR.
POOLE'S RETURN--HIS REPORT--FLOOD'S CREEK--AQUATIC BIRDS--RANGES DIMINISH
IN HEIGHT.


Toonda left us on our arrival at this place, to go to his tribe at
Cawndilla, but returned the day Mr. Poole left us, with the lubras and
children belonging to it, and the natives now mustered round us to the
number of sixty-six. Nadbuck, who the reader will have observed was a
perfect lady's man, made fires for the women, and they were all treated
as our first visitors had been with a cup of tea and a lump of sugar.
These people could not have shewn a greater mark of confidence in us than
by this visit; but the circumstances under which we arrived amongst them,
the protection we had given to some of their tribe, and the kind
treatment we had adopted towards the natives generally, in some measure
accounted for this, nevertheless there was a certain restlessness amongst
the men that satisfied me they would not have hesitated in the
gratification of revenge if they could have mustered sufficiently strong,
or could have caught us unprepared.

It was clear that the natives still remembered the first visit the
Europeans had made to them, and its consequences, and that they were very
well disposed to retaliate. It was in this matter that Nadbuck's conduct
and representations were of essential service, for he did not hesitate to
tell them what they might expect if they appeared in arms. Mr. Poole was
short and stout like Sir Thomas Mitchell, and personally very much
resembled him; moreover, he wore a blue foraging cap, as, I believe, Sir
Thomas did; be that as it may, they took Mr. Poole for that officer, and
were exceedingly sulky, and Nadbuck informed us that they would certainly
spear him. It was necessary, therefore, to explain to them that he was
not the individual for whom they took him, and we could only allay their
feelings by the strongest assurances to that effect; for some time,
indeed, they were inclined to doubt what we said, but at length they
expressed great satisfaction, and to secure himself still more Mr. Poole
put on a straw hat. Nevertheless, there were manifestations of turbulence
amongst the younger men on several occasions, and they certainly
meditated, even though, for particular reasons, they refrained from any
act of violence.

The constant rain had made the ground in a sad state. There was scarcely
any stirring out of the tents into the tenacious clay of the flat in
which they were pitched; and the Darling, continuing to rise, overflowed
its banks, drove our cattle from their feed, and obliged us to send them
to a more distant point. In the midst of all this we were, on the 13th,
most agreeably surprised by the appearance of our friend Camboli, with
two other natives from Lake Victoria. Camboli brought despatches and
letters in reply to those I had sent from the lake. It is impossible to
describe the unaffected joy this poor native evinced on seeing us again.
He had travelled hard to overtake us, and his condition when he arrived,
as well as that of his companions proved that they had not spared
themselves; but neither of them shewed the same symptoms of fatigue as
Camboli. His thighs and ancles, and the calves of his legs were much
swollen, and he complained of severe pain in his back and loins; but he
was excited beyond measure, and sprang about with surprising activity
whilst his comrades fell fast asleep. "Papung," he exclaimed, meaning
paper or letters. "I bring papung to Boocolo," meaning me; "to Sacoback,"
meaning Doctor Browne; "and Mr. Poole, from Gobbernor," the Governor;
"Hugomattin," Mr. Eyre; "Merilli," Mr. Scott of Moorundi; "and Bullocky
Bob. Papung Gobbernor, Boocolo, Hugomattin." Nothing could stop him, nor
would he sit still for a moment. There were, at the fire near the tents,
a number of the young men of the Williorara tribe; and it would appear,
from what occurred, that they were talking about us in no friendly
strain. Certain it is that they made some remark which highly offended
our lately arrived envoy, for he suddenly sprang upon his feet, and,
seizing a carabine, shook it at them in defiance, and, pointing to the
tents, again shook it with all the energy and fearlessness of a savage,
and he afterwards told us that the natives were "murry saucy." The scene
was of a kind that is seldom if ever witnessed in civilized life.

The reader may be assured we took good care of him and his companions;
but his excitement continued, even after he had laid down to sleep; yet,
he was the first man up on the following morning, to cut a canoe for Mr.
Browne, who wished to cross the river, with a young lad of the name of
Topar, a native of the place, who had been recommended to me by Mr. Eyre,
a fine handsome young man, about eighteen years of age, and exceedingly
prepossessing in appearance; but I am sorry to say with very few good
qualities. He was a boy about eight when Sir Thomas Mitchell visited the
neighbourhood, and, with his mother, was present at the unfortunate
misunderstanding between his men and the natives on that occasion.

The bark was not in a fit state to be stripped from the tree, so that
Camboli had a fatiguing task, but he got the canoe ready in sufficient
time for Mr. Browne to cross the river and visit Sir Thomas Mitchell's
last camp, which I had intended doing myself, in order to connect it with
my own, if circumstances had not, at that time, prevented me.

Mr. Poole returned on the 15th, after an absence of four days and a half.
He informed me that he had crossed the creek, as I had imagined, where
there was little or no vegetation in its vicinity. He then took up a
north-west course for the hills, and rode over flats of polygonum for
nine miles, when he crossed the bed of a large lagoon; arriving at a
round hill, somewhat detached from the main range, at half-past one, and
searched about for water, but found none, neither could the native point
out any to him. He therefore descended to the plains, and encamped.

On the following morning Mr. Poole again crossed the hill he had ascended
the day before, but at half-past one changed his course for a high peak
on the same range, on the summit of which he arrived at 2 p.m.; but the
day was unfavourable, and the bearings from it consequently uncertain.
The following morning being clear he again ascended the hill, and took
the following bearings:--To the point of a distant range N. 54 degrees
W.; to a very distant cone, 00 or due north; to a peak in a distant
range, S. 40 degrees W.; to a lake, S. 20 degrees W.; and to another
distant range, S. 65 degrees W. The country between the ranges Mr. Poole
had ascended and the more distant ones, appeared to be flat, and covered
with brush and speargrass. There was an appearance of water between the
ranges, and they looked like islands in an immense lake. He did not think
he could have been deceived by the effect of mirage; but felt satisfied,
according to his own judgment, that he had seen a large body of water to
the N.W. Mr. Poole did not succeed in finding any convenient place to
which to remove the party, and his guide persisting in his statement that
there was no water in the hills, he thought it better to return to the
camp.

However doubtful I might have been as to the reality of the existence of
water in the direction to which Mr. Poole referred, it was clear that
there were other and loftier ranges beyond those visible from the river.
Taking everything into consideration, I determined on moving the camp to
Cawndilla, and on proceeding myself to the north-west as soon as I should
have established it in a secure place.

I was employed on the 16th in reporting our progress to the Governor, as
Nadbuck and Camboli were to leave us in the afternoon on their return to
Lake Victoria. Both were exceedingly impatient to commence their journey,
but when I came out with the bag old Nadbuck evinced great emotion and
sorrow, nor could we look on the departure of our old and tried guide
without regret. He had really served us well and faithfully, and if he
had anything to do in propagating the several reports by which we had
been deceived in our progress up the Darling, I believe it was with a
view to prevent our going into a country from which he thought we should
never return. We rewarded him as he deserved, and sent both him and his
companions away with provisions sufficient to last them during the
greater part of their journey, but we afterwards learnt that with the
improvident generosity of the savage, they had appointed to meet a number
of their friends in the bush, and consumed their whole supply before
sunset.

The weather had cleared, and as we were enabled to connect the Darling
with the hilly country, I directed Mr. Poole to measure a base line from
a point at the back of our camp to the westward. This base line ran along
the sandy ridge above the flats of Laidley's Ponds towards Cawndilla, so
that we had no detention, but left the Darling on the 17th.

The drays started early in the forenoon, but I remained until two, to
take some lunars with Mr. Browne. At that hour we rode along the dray
tracks, and at six miles descended into the bed of the lake, and crossing
a portion of it arrived at the camp at half-past five. The floods were
just crossing the dray tracks as we passed, and gradually advancing into
the basin. The ground was cracked and marked with narrow but deep
fissures into which the waters fell as they rolled onwards, and it was
really surprising to see the immense quantity these chasms required to
fill them.

Having taken leave of the Darling, it may be as well that I should make a
few general remarks upon it. The reader will have observed from my
description, that the scenery on the banks is picturesque and cheerful,
that its trees though of smaller size than those on the Murray, are more
graceful and have a denser foliage and more drooping habit, and that the
flats contiguous to the stream are abundantly grassy. I have described
the river as I found it, but I would not have the reader suppose that it
always presents the same luxuriant appearance, for not many months before
this period my persevering friend Mr. Eyre, on a journey up its banks,
could hardly find grass sufficient for his horses. There was not a blade
of vegetation on the flats, but little water in the river, and the whole
scenery wore a most barren appearance. Countries, however, the summer
heat of which is so excessive, as in Australia, are always subject to
such changes, nor is it any argument against their soil, that it should
at one season of the year look bare and herbless. That part of the
Darling between Laidley's Ponds and its junction with the Murray, a
distance of about 100 miles in a direct line, had not been previously
explored, nor had I time to lay it regularly down. I should say from the
appearance of its channel that it is seldom very deep, frequently dry at
intervals, and that its floods are uncertain, sudden, and very temporary.
That they rise rapidly may be implied from the fact that in two days the
floods we witnessed rose more than nine feet, and that they come from the
higher branches of the river there can be no doubt, since the Darling has
no tributary between Laidley's Ponds and Fort Bourke. I have no doubt but
the whole line of the river will sooner or later be occupied, and that
both its soil and climate will be found to suit the purpose both of the
grazier and the agriculturist. Be that as it may, I regretted abandoning
it, for I felt assured that in doing so our difficulties and trials would
commence.

Our camp at Cawndilla was on the right bank of the Williorara, about half
a mile above where it enters the lake. Without intending it, we
dispossessed the natives of the ground which they had occupied before our
arrival, but they were not offended. Our tents stood on a sand bank close
to the creek, and was shaded by gum-trees and banksias; behind us to the
S.W. there were extensive open plains, and along the edge of the basin of
Cawndilla, as well as to some distance in its bed, there was an abundance
of feed for our cattle: the locality would be of great value as a station
if it were near the located districts of South Australia.

The term Boocolo is I believe generally given to the chief or elder of
the tribe, and thus was applied by the natives to me, as chief of the
party. The boocolo of the Cawndilla tribe was an old man with grey hairs
and rather sharp features, below the ordinary stature, but well made and
active. Of all the race with whom I have communicated, his manners were
the most pleasing. There was a polish in them, a freedom and grace that
would have befitted a drawing-room. It was his wont to visit my tent
every day at noon, and to sleep during the heat; but he invariably asked
permission to do this before he composed himself to rest, and generally
laid down at my feet. Differing from the majority of the natives, he
never asked for anything, and although present during our meals kept away
from the table. If offered anything he received it with becoming dignity,
and partook of it without displaying that greedy voracity which the
natives generally exhibit over their meals. He was a man, I should say,
in intellect and feeling greatly in advance of his fellows. We all became
exceedingly partial to this old man, and placed every confidence in him;
although, as he did not understand the language of the Murray natives, we
gained little information from him as to the remote country.

The boocolo of Cawndilla had two sons; but as the circumstances under
which they were more particularly brought forward occurred on the return
of the expedition from the interior, I shall not mention them here; but
will conclude these remarks by describing an event that took place the
day after our removal from the Darling. The men who had been out chaining
left the flags standing after their work, and came to the camp. When Mr.
Poole went out the next morning he found that one of them had been taken
away. The natives, when charged with the theft, stoutly denied it, and
said that it had been stolen by one of the Darling tribe in returning to
the river. I therefore directed him, as he generally superintended the
issue of presents and provisions to the natives, to stop all further
supplies. The old boocolo failed in his endeavours to recover the flag,
and the natives who visited the camp were evidently under restraint. On
the following day the boocolo came to my tent, and I spoke angrily to
him. "Why," I asked, "has the black fellow taken that which did not
belong to him? I do not take anything from you. I do not kill your
kangaroos or take your fish." The old man was certainly much annoyed, and
went out of the tent to our fire, at which there were several natives
with whom he had an earnest conversation; this terminated by two of them
starting for the Darling, from whence, on the following day, they brought
back the flag and staff, which they said had been taken by three of the
Darling natives as they had stated already. Probably such was the case,
and we admitted the excuse.

The base line was completed on the 19th, and measured six miles. I was
anxious to have made it of greater length, but the ground would not admit
of it. The angles were necessarily very acute; but the bearings were
frequently repeated, and found to agree. I was the less anxious on the
point because my intention was to check any error by another line as soon
as I could.

The position we had taken up was a very favourable one, since being on
the right or northern bank of the creek, we were, by the flooding of the
lake, cut off from the Darling natives. I now therefore determined on
making an excursion into the interior to the N.W., to examine the ranges
seen by Mr. Poole, and to ascertain if, as he supposed, there was a body
of water to the westward of them. With this view I engaged Topar to
accompany us, and on the 21st left the camp, with Mr. Browne, Flood, and
Morgan, taking the light cart with our provisions and some water-casks.
During the recent rains the weather had been very cold, but excessive
heat succeeded it. The day before we started the thermometer rose as high
as 112 degrees during a violent hot wind; and certainly if the following
day had been equally warm we could not have proceeded on our journey.
Fortunately for us, however, the wind shifted to the S.W. during the
night, and the morning was cool and refreshing. I should have commenced
this trip two or three days earlier, but on the 20th we were surprised by
the reappearance of old Nadbuck, who had turned back with some natives he
met on the way to our camp, with letters from Moorundi. The old man was
really overjoyed to see us again. He said he had left Camboli well
advanced on his journey, and that he would have reached Lake Victoria
before he (Nadbuck) had reached us. Some of the letters he brought
requiring answers, I was unable to arrange for my intended departure on
the 19th. The 20th being a day of excessive heat, we could not have
ventured abroad; but as I have stated, on the 21st we commenced the
journey under more favourable circumstances than we had anticipated. The
old boocolo took leave of Mr. Browne and myself, according, I suppose, to
the custom of his people, by placing his hands on our shoulders and
bending his head so as to touch our breasts; in doing which he shed
tears. Topar, seated on the cart, was followed by his mother who never
expected to see him again. I had given Topar a blanket, which he now gave
to his parent, and thus set off with us as naked as he was born. I
mention this the more readily because I have much to detail to his
discredit, and therefore in justice, I think, I am bound to record
anything to his advantage. At a quarter of a mile from the camp we
crossed the little sand hill which separates the two basins of Cawndilla
and Minandichi, from which we descended into the flats of the latter, but
at a mile rose, after crossing a small creek, to the level of the great
plains extending between us and the ranges. Our first course over these
plains was on a bearing of 157 degrees to the west of south, or N.N.W.
nearly. They were partly covered by brush and partly open; the soil was a
mixture of clay and sand, and in many places they resembled, not only in
that but in their productions, the plains of Adelaide. A good deal of
grass was growing on them in widely distributed tufts, but mixed with
salsolaceous plants. The trees consisted of a new species of casuarina, a
new caparis, with some hakea, and several species of very pretty and
fragrant flowering shrubs. At twelve miles we changed our course to 135
degrees to the west of south, or N.W., and kept upon it for the remainder
of the day, direct for a prominent hill in the ranges before us.
[Note 7. Coonbaralba Station, No. 2.] The hills Mr. Poole had visited then
bore a few degrees to the east of north, distant from twelve to fourteen
miles, and were much lower than those towards which we were going,
continuing northwards. The country as we advanced became more open and
barren. We traversed plains covered with atriplex and rhagodiae, in the
midst of which there were large bare patches of red clay. In these rain
water lodges, but being exceedingly shallow they soon dry up and
their surfaces become cracked and blistered. From the point at which
we changed our course the ground gradually rose, and at 26 miles we
ascended a small sand hill with a little grass growing upon it.
From this hill we descended into and crossed a broad dry creek
with a gravelly bed, and as its course lay directly parallel to our own,
we kept in the shade of the gum-trees that were growing along its banks.
At about four miles beyond this point Topar called out to us to stop near
a native well he then shewed us, for which we might in vain have hunted.
From this we got a scanty supply of bad water, after some trouble in
cleaning and clearing it, insomuch that we were obliged to bale it out
frequently during the night to obtain water for our horses. This creek,
like others, was marked by a line of gum-trees on either side; and from
the pure and clean gravel in its bed, I was led to infer that it was
subject to sudden floods. We could trace the line of trees upon it
running upwards to the N.W. close up to the foot of the ranges, and down
southwards, until the channel seemed to be lost in the extensive flats of
that depressed region.

Topar called this spot "Murnco Murnco." As the horses had fared
indifferently during our stay, and he assured us there was a finer well
higher up the creek, we pushed on at an early hour the next morning,
keeping on the proper right bank of the creek, and having an open barren
country to the south, with an apparent dip to the south-west; to our
left, some undulations already noticed by us, assumed more the shape of
hills. The surface was in many places covered with small fragments of
white quartz, which together with a conglomerate rock cropped out of the
ground where it was more elevated. There was nothing green to meet the
eye, except the little grass in the bed of the creek itself, and a small
quantity on the plains.

At two miles on our former bearing Topar stopped close to another well,
but it was dry and worthless; we therefore pushed on to the next, and
after removing a quantity of rubbish, found a sufficiency of water both
for ourselves and the horses, but it was bitter to the taste, and when
boiled was as black as ink from the decoction of gum leaves; the water
being evidently the partial and surface drainage from the hills. We
stopped here however to breakfast. Whilst so employed, Topar's quick and
watchful eye caught sight of some smoke rising from the bed of the creek
about a mile above us. He was now all impatience to be off, to overtake
the party who had kindled it. Nothing could exceed his vehement
impetuosity and impatience, but this was of no avail, as the natives who
had probably seen our approach, kept in front of us and avoided a
meeting. We rode for five miles on our original bearing of 135 degrees to
the west of north, or N.W. the direct bearing of the hill for which we
were making, Coonbaralba. At five miles Topar insisted on crossing the
creek, and led us over the plains on a bearing of 157 degrees to the west
of north, thus changing his purpose altogether. He assigned as a reason
that there was no water in the creek higher up, and that we must go to
another place where there was some. I was somewhat reluctant to consent
to this, but at length gave way to him; we had not however gone more than
two and a half miles, when he again caught sight of smoke due west of us,
and was as earnest in his desire to return to the creek as he had been to
leave it. Being myself anxious to communicate with the natives I now the
more readily yielded to his entreaties. Where we came upon it there was a
quantity of grass in its bed, but although we saw the fire at which they
had been, the natives again escaped us. Mr. Browne and Topar ran their
track up the creek, and soon reached a hut opposite to which there was a
well. On ascending a little from its bed they discovered a small pool of
water in the centre of a watercourse joining the main branch hereabouts
from the hills. Round this little pool there was an unusual verdure. From
this point we continued to trace the creek upwards, keeping it in sight;
but the ground was so stony and rough, and the brush approached so close
to the banks that I descended into its bed, and halted at sunset after a
fatiguing day's journey without water, about which we did not much care;
the horses having had a good drink not long before and their feed being
good, the want of water was not much felt by them. Topar wished to go on
to some other water at which he expected to find the natives, and did not
hesitate for a moment in thus contradicting his former assertion. This
however I would not allow him to do alone, but Mr. Browne good-naturedly
walked with him up the creek, and at less than a mile came up on a long
and beautiful pond He informed me that it was serpentine in shape and
more than eighty yards long, but as there was no grass in its
neighbourhood I did not move to it. It was evident that Topar had
intended leading us past this water, and it was owing to his anxiety to
see the natives that we had now discovered it.

On the following morning I determined to take the direction of our
movements on myself, and after we had breakfasted at the long water-hole,
struck across the plains, and took up a course of 142 degrees to the west
of south for a round hill which I proposed ascending. Topar seeing us
determined, got into a state of alarm almost bordering on frenzy; he kept
shouting out "kerno, kerno," "rocks, rocks," and insisted that we should
all be killed. This however had no effect on us, and we continued to move
towards a spur, the ascent of which appeared to be less difficult than
any other point of the hills. We reached its base at 10 a.m., and had
little trouble in taking the cart up. On gaining the top of the first
rise, we descended into and crossed a valley, and ascending the opposite
side found ourselves on the summit of the range, the surface being much
less broken than might have been anticipated, insomuch that we had every
hope that our progress amongst the hills would be comparatively easy; but
in pushing for the one I wished to ascend, our advance was checked by a
deep ravine, and I was obliged to turn towards another hill of nearly
equal height on our left. We descended without much difficulty into a
contiguous valley, but the ascent on the opposite side was too rough for
the cart. We had pressed up it along a rocky watercourse, in which I was
obliged to leave Morgan and Topar. Mr. Browne, myself, and Flood, with
our horses reached the top of the hill at half-past twelve. Although the
position commanded a considerable portion of the horizon there was
nothing cheering in the view. Everything below us was dark and dreary,
nor was there any indication of a creek to take us on to the north-west.
We could see no gum-trees in that direction, nor indeed could we at an
elevation of 1600 feet above the plains distinctly make out the covering
of the ground below. It appeared to be an elevated table land surrounded
by hills, some of which were evidently higher than that on which we
stood.

The descent to the westward was still more pre cipitous than the side we
had ascended. The pass through which the creek issued from the hills was
on our left, Coonbaralba being between us and it, but that hill was
perfectly inaccessible; I thought it better therefore to return to sleep
at the water where we had breakfasted, with a view to running the creek
up into the ranges on the following morning. After taking bearings of the
principal objects visible from our station, we rejoined Morgan and
descended to the plains. There was a little water in the creek leading
from the hill I had at first intended to ascend, to the S.W., which was
no doubt a branch of the main creek. On our return we saw that beautiful
flower the Clianthus formosa, in splendid blossom on the plains. It was
growing amidst barrenness and decay, but its long runners were covered
with flowers that gave a crimson tint to the ground.

The principal object I had in view during the excursion I was then
employed upon, was if possible to find a proper position to which the
party might move; for I foresaw that my absence would be frequent and
uncertain, and although my men were very well disposed towards the
natives, I was anxious to prevent the chance of collision or
misunderstanding. I had now found such a position, for on examining the
water-hole I felt satisfied that it might be depended upon for ten days
or a fortnight, whilst the grass in its neighbourhood although dry was
abundant. Wishing, however, to penetrate the ranges by the gap through
which the creek issued from them, I still thought it advisable to
prosecute my intended journey up it. Accordingly on the 24th we mounted
our horses and rode towards the hills. A little above where we had slept
we passed a small junction from the westward, and at 7 miles entered the
gap, the Coonbaralba, on the bearing of which we had run across the
plains, being on our right. We had already passed several small
water-holes, but at the entrance of the gap passed some larger ones in
which the water was brackish, and these had the appearance of being
permanent. Topar had shewn much indignation at our going on, and
constantly remonstrated with us as we were riding along; however, we saw
two young native dogs about a third grown, after which he bounded with
incredible swiftness, but when they saw him they started off also. It was
soon evident, that both were doomed to destruction, his speed being
greater that that of the young brutes, for he rapidly gained upon them.
The moment he got within reach of the hindmost he threw a stick which he
had seized while running, with unerring precision, and striking it full
in the ribs stretched it on the ground. As he passed the animal he gave
it a blow on the head with another stick, and bounding on after the other
was soon out of our sight. All we knew further of the chase, was, that
before we reached the spot where his first prize lay, he was returning to
us with its companion. As soon as he had secured his prey he sat down to
take out their entrails, a point in which the natives are very
particular. He was careful in securing the little fat they had about the
kidneys, with which he rubbed his body all over, and having finished this
operation he filled their insides with grass and secured them with
skewers. This done he put them on the cart, and we proceeded up the pass,
at the head of which we arrived sooner than I expected. We then found
ourselves at the commencement of a large plain. The hills we had ascended
the day before trended to the north, and there was a small detached range
running perpendicular to them on our right. To the south there were
different points, apparently the terminations of parallel ranges, and
westward an unbroken line of hills. The creek seemed to trend to the
S.W., and in that direction I determined to follow it, but Topar
earnestly entreated us not to do so. He was in great consternation; said
here was no water, and promised that if we would follow him he would shew
us water in which we could swim. On this condition I turned as he
desired, and keeping along the western base of the main or front range,
took up a course somewhat obtuse to that by which I had crossed the
plains of Cawndilla. The productions on the ground were of a salsolaceous
kind, although it was so much elevated above the plains, but amongst them
there was not any mesembryanthemum. At about three miles we passed a very
remarkable and perfectly isolated hill, of about 150 feet in height. It
ran longitudinally from south to north for about 350 yards, and was bare
of trees or shrubs, with the exception of one or two casuarinas. The
basis of this hill was a slaty ferruginous rock, and protruding above the
ground along the spine of the hill there was a line of the finest hepatic
iron ore I ever saw; it laid in blocks of various sizes, and of many tons
weight piled one upon the other, without a particle of earth either on
their faces or between them. Nothing indeed could exceed the clean
appearance of these huge masses. On ascending this hill and seating
myself on the top of one of them to take bearings, I found that the
compass deviated 37 degrees from the north point, nor could I place any
dependance on the angles I here took.

At about nine miles the main range turned to the N.N.E., and Topar
accordingly keeping near its base changed his course, and at five miles
more led us into a pass in some respects similar to that by which we had
entered the range. It was however less confined and more open. Steep
hills, with rocks in slabs protruding from many parts, flanked it to the
south, whilst on its northern side perpendicular rocks, varying in height
from 15 to 20 feet, over which the hills rose almost as perpendicularly
more than 200 feet higher, were to be seen. Close under these was the
stony bed of a mountain torrent, but it was also evident that the whole
pass, about 160 yards broad, was sometimes covered by floods. Down this
gully Topar now led us, and at a short distance, crossing over to its
northern side, he stopped at a little green puddle of water that was not
more than three inches deep. Its surface was covered with slime and
filth, and our horses altogether rejected it. Some natives had recently
been at the place, but none were there when we arrived. I was exceedingly
provoked at Topar's treachery, and have always been at a loss to account
for it. At the time, both Mr. Browne and myself attributed it to the
machinations of our friend Nadbuck; but his alarm at invading the hilly
country was too genuine to have been counterfeited. It might have been
that Nadbuck and Toonda expected that they would benefit more by our
presents and provisions than if we left them for the interior, and
therefore tried by every means to deter us from going: they certainly had
long conversations with Topar before he left the camp to accompany us.
Still I may do injustice to them in this respect. However, whether this
was the case or not, we had to suffer from Topar's misconduct. I turned
out of the pass, and stopped a little beyond it, in a more sheltered
situation. Here Topar coolly cooked his dogs, and wholly demolished one
of them and part of the other. In wandering about the gorge of the glen,
Mr. Browne found a native well, but there was no water in it.

Our camp at Cawndilla now bore S.S.E. from us, distant 70 odd miles, and
having determined on moving the party, I resolved to make the best of my
way back to it. On the following morning, therefore, we again entered the
pass, but as it trended too much to the eastward, I crossed a small range
and descended at once upon the plains leading to the camp. At about 17
miles from the hills, Topar led us to a broad sheet of water that must
have been left by the recent rains. It was still tolerably full, and
water may perhaps be found here when there is none in more likely places
in the hills. This spot Topar called Wancookaroo; it was unfortunately in
a hollow from whence we could take no bearings to fix its precise
position.

We halted at sunset on the top of a small eminence, from which the hills
Mr. Poole had ascended bore E.N.E., and the hill at the pass N.W. We were
suddenly roused from our slumbers a little before daylight by a squall of
wind that carried away every light thing about us, hats, caps, etc. all
went together, and bushes of atriplex also went bounding along like so
many foot-balls. The wind became piercing cold, and all comfort was gone.
As morning dawned the wind increased, and as the sun rose it settled into
a steady gale. We were here about forty miles from Cawndilla, nor do I
remember having ever suffered so severely from cold even in Canada. The
wind fairly blew through and through us, and Topar shivered so under it
that Morgan gave him a coat to put on. As we seldom put our horses out of
a walk, we did not reach the tents until late in the afternoon, but I
never was more rejoiced to creep under shelter than on this occasion.

Every thing had gone on well during our absence, and Mr. Poole had kept
on the most friendly terms with the natives.

I should have mentioned, that, as we descended from the hills, the quick
eye of Topar saw a native at a great distance to our left, and just at
the outskirt of a few trees. We should have passed him unperceived, but I
requested Mr. Browne to ride up to and communicate with him. The poor
fellow had dug a pit, for a Talperos [Note 8. A native animal about the
size of a rabbit, but longer in shape.], big enough to hide himself in,
and as he continued to work at it, did not see Mr. Browne approach, who
stood mounted right over the hole before he called to him. Dire was the
alarm of the poor native when he looked up and saw himself so immediately
in contact with such a being as my companion must have appeared to him;
but Mr. Browne considerately retired until he had recovered from his
astonishment, and Topar, whom I sent to join them, coming up, he soon
recovered his composure and approached the cart. As we had prevented the
old man from securing his game, I desired Topar to give him the remains
of the dog; but this he refused to do. I therefore ordered Morgan to take
it from him, and told Topar I would give him an equivalent when we
reached the camp. This native did not seem to be aware that the Darling
was up, a piece of news that seemed to give him much joy and
satisfaction. I kept my promise with Mr. Topar, but he deserved neither
my generosity nor consideration.

Mr. Poole informed me that the fluctuations of temperature had been as
great at Cawndilla as with us; that the day before, the heat likewise had
been excessive, the thermometer having risen to 110 degrees, on the day
of our return it was down to 38 degrees.

The natives appeared really glad to see us again, for I believe they had
given us up for lost. My old friend shed tears when he embraced us, and
Nadbuck, who still remained with Toonda, shewed the most unequivocal
signs of joy.

Cawndilla bears about W.S.W. from the junction of the Williorara with the
Darling, at a distance of from six to seven miles. We broke up our camp
there on the 28th of October 1844, but, however easily Mr. Browne and I
had crossed the plains to the north-west, it was a journey that I felt
assured would try the bullocks exceedingly. The weather had again
changed, and become oppressively hot, so that it behoved me to use every
precaution, in thus abandoning the Darling river.

At early dawn Mr. Browne started with Flood, Cowley, and Kirby, in the
light cart, to enlarge the wells at Curnapaga, to enable the cattle to
drink out of them. Naturally humane and partial to the natives, he had
been particularly kind to Toonda, who in his way was I believe really
attached to Mr. Browne. This singular man had made up his mind to remain
with his tribe, but when he saw the cart, and Mr. Browne's horse brought
up, his feelings evidently overpowered him, and he stood with the most
dejected aspect close to the animal, nor could he repress his emotion
when Mr. Browne issued from the tents; if our route had been up the
Darling, I have no doubt Toonda would still have accompanied us, but all
the natives dreaded the country into which we were going, and fully
expected that we should perish. It was not therefore surprising that he
wavered, more especially as he had been a long time absent from his
people, and there might be objections to his leaving them a second time.
The real cause, however, was, I think, the overflowing of the Darling,
and the usual harvest of fish, and incessant feasting the natives would
have in consequence. Their god certainly is their belly, we must not
therefore be surprised that Toonda wished to partake of the general
abundance that would soon be at the command of his tribe, and probably
that his assistance was required. However his heart failed him when he
saw Mr. Browne mount his horse to depart, and he expressed his readiness
to accompany us to the hills, but no farther. The Boocolo's son had also
volunteered to go so far with his friend the cook: when therefore at 8
a.m. I followed Mr. Browne with the remainder of the party, he and Toonda
got on the drays. We took a kind leave of the Boocolo, who put his two
hands on my head, and said something which I did not understand. It was
however the expression of some kind wish at parting. The cattle got on
very well during the early part of the day, and at noon we halted for two
hours. After noon our progress was slow, and night closed in upon us,
whilst we were yet some distance from the creek. We reached the little
sand hill near it, to which we were guided by a large fire Flood had
kindled at midnight, for it appeared that the horses had given in, and
that Mr. Browne had been obliged to halt there. On leaving Cawndilla I
sent Mr. Poole to Scrope's Range, to verify his bearings, and to enable
Mr. Stuart to sketch in the hills, but he had not at this time rejoined
me. At early dawn on the 29th, I accompanied Mr. Browne to the wells,
leaving Mr. Piesse with the horse-cart and drays. We arrived there at
nine, and by twelve, the time when the oxen came up, had dug a large pit
under a rock on the left bank of the creek, which filled rapidly with
water. The horses however were still in the rear, and I was ultimately
obliged to send assistance to them. At 1 p.m. Mr. Poole and Mr. Stuart
rejoined us. Two of our kangaroo dogs had followed them from Cawndilla,
but one only returned, the other fell exhausted on the plains. Mr. Poole
informed me that he had seen, but lost sight of Flood's signal fire, and
had therefore slept higher up on the creek. The animals, but the cart
horses in particular, were still very weak when we left Curnapaga, on the
30th, nor is it probable we should have got them to the long water-hole
if we had not fortunately stumbled on another little pool of water in a
lateral creek about half way. After breakfasting here, we moved leisurely
on, and reached our destination at half-past five, p.m. Sullivan shot a
beautiful and new hawk (ELANUS SCRIPTUS, Gould), which does not appear to
extend farther south than where we here met it, although it wanders over
the whole of the north-west interior as far as we went. There were some
beautiful plants also growing in the bed of the creek; but we had
previously met with so few things that we might here be said to have
commenced our collection.

At this water-hole, "Parnari," we surprised three natives who were
strangers. They did not betray any fear, but slept at the tents and left
us the following day, as they said to bring more natives to visit us, but
we never saw anything more of them. They were hill natives, and shorter
in stature than the river tribes.

The day succeeding that of our arrival at Parnari was very peculiar, the
thermometer did not rise higher than 81 degrees, but the barometer fell
to 28.730 degrees, and the atmosphere was so light that we could hardly
breathe. I had hoped that this would have been a prelude to rain, but it
came not.

The period from the 1st to the 5th of November was employed in taking
bearings from the loftiest points of the range, both to the northward and
southward of us; in examining the creek to the south-west, and preparing
for a second excursion from the camp.

The rock formation of Curnapaga was of three different kinds. A mixture
of lime and clay, a tufaceous deposit, and an apparently recent deposit
of soapstone, containing a variety of substances, as alumina, silica,
lime, soda, magnesia, and iron. The ranges on either side of the glen
were generally varieties of gneiss and granite, in many of which feldspar
predominated, coarse ferruginous sandstone, and a siliceous rock with
mammillary hematite and hornblende. These, and a great mixture of iron
ores, composed the first or eastern line of Stanley's Barrier Range.

It will be remembered that in tracing up the creek on the occasion of our
first excursion from Cawndilla, that Topar had persuaded me, on gaining
the head of the glen to go to the north, on the faith of a promise that
he would take us to a place where there was an abundance of water, and
that in requital he took us to a shallow, slimy pool, the water of which
was unfit to drink. Mr. Browne and I now went in the direction we should
have gone if we had been uninfluenced by this young cub, and at less than
a hundred yards came upon a pretty little clear pool of water, that had
been hid from our view by a turn of the creek. What motive Topar could
have had in thus deceiving us, and punishing himself, is difficult to
say. On our further examination of the creek, however, there was no more
water to be found, and from the gravelly and perfectly even nature of its
bed, I should think it all runs off as fast as the channel filled. Whilst
I was thus employed, Mr. Poole and Mr. Stuart were on the ranges, and
both, as well as the men generally, continued in good health; but I was
exceedingly anxious about Mr. Browne, who had a low fever on him, and was
just then incapable of much fatigue; nevertheless he begged so hard to be
permitted to accompany me on my contemplated journey, that I was obliged
to yield.

I had been satisfied from the appearance of the Williorara, that it was
nothing more than a channel of communication between the lakes Cawndilla
and Minandechi and the Darling, as the Rufus and Hawker respectively
connect Lakes Victoria and Bonney with the Murray, and I felt assured
that as soon as we should leave the former river, our difficulties as
regards the supply of water for our cattle would commence, and that
although we were going amongst hills of 1500 or 2000 feet elevation, we
should still suffer from the want of that indispensable element. Many of
my readers, judging from their knowledge of an English climate, and
living perhaps under hills of less elevation than those I have mentioned,
from which a rippling stream may pass their very door, will hardly
understand this; but the mountains of south-east Australia bear no
resemblance to the moss-covered mountains of Europe. There that spongy
vegetation retains the water to give it out by degrees, but the rain that
falls on the Australian hills runs off at once, and hence the terrific
floods to which their creeks are subject. In the barren and stony ranges
through which I had now to force my way, no spring was to be found.
During heavy rains, indeed, the torrents are fierce, and the waters must
spread over the plains into which they descend for many miles; but such
effects disappear with their cause; a few detached pools only remain,
that are fed for a time by under drainage, which soon failing, the
thirsty sun completes his work, and leaves that proscribed region--a
desert.

Fully satisfied then that the greatest obstacle to the progress of the
Expedition would be the want of water, and that it would only be by long
and laborious search that we should succeed in gaining the interior, I
determined on taking as much as I could on my proposed journey, and with
a view to gaining more time for examining the country, I had a tank
constructed, which I purposed to send a day or two in advance.

The little pond of which I have spoken at the head of the pass, had near
it a beautiful clump of acacias of a species entirely new to us. It was a
pretty graceful tree, and threw a deep shade on the ground; but with the
exception of these and a few gum-trees the vicinity was clear and open.
Our position in the creek on the contrary was close and confined. Heavy
gusts of wind were constantly sweeping the valley, and filling the air
with sand, and the flies were so numerous and troublesome that they were
a preventative to all work. I determined, therefore, before Mr. Browne
and I should start for the interior, to remove the camp to the upper part
of the glen. On the 4th we struck our tents and again pitched them close
to the acacias. Early on the morning of the 5th, I sent Flood with Lewis
and Sullivan, having the cart full of water, to preserve a certain course
until I should overtake them, being myself detained in camp with Mr.
Browne, in consequence of the arrival of several natives from whom we
hoped to glean some information; but in this we were disappointed. Toonda
had continued with us as far as "Parnari;" but on our moving up higher
into the hills, his heart failed him, and he returned to Cawndilla.

At eleven, Mr. Browne and I took leave of Mr. Poole, and pursuing a
course of 140 degrees to the west of south, rode on to overtake the cart.
At about four miles from the camp we crossed a small ironstone range,
from which we saw Flood and his party nearly at the foot of the hill on
which I had directed him to move, and at which I intended to cross the
ranges if the place was favourable. In this, however, we were
disappointed, for the hills were too rugged, although of no great breadth
or height. We were consequently obliged to turn to the south, and in
going over the rough uneven ground, had the misfortune to burst our tank.
I therefore desired Lewis to stop, and gave the horses as much water as
they would drink, still leaving a considerable quantity in the tank, of
which I hoped we might yet avail ourselves. Although we had found it
impracticable to cross the ranges at the proposed point, Mr. Browne and I
had managed to scramble up the most elevated part of them. We appeared
still to be amidst broken stony hills, from which there was no visible
outlet. There was a line of gum-trees, however, in a valley to the
southwest of us, as if growing on the side of a creek that would in such
case be tributary to the main creek on which our tents were pitched, and
we hoped, by running along the base of the hills to the south and turning
into the valley, to force our way onwards. At about three and a half
miles our anticipations were verified by our arriving opposite to an
opening leading northwards into the hills. This proved to be the valley
we had noticed. A line of gum-trees marked the course of a small creek,
which passing behind a little hill at the entrance of the valley,
reappeared on the other side, and then trended to the N.W. Entering the
valley and pursuing our way up it, at two miles we crossed another small
creek, tributary to the first, and at a mile beyond halted for the night,
without having found water. Although there was a little grass on the
plains between the camp and the ranges, there was none in the valley in
which we stopped. Low bushes of rhagodia and atriplex were alone to be
seen, growing on a red, tenacious, yet somewhat sandy soil, whilst the
ranges themselves were covered with low brush.

The water had almost all leaked out of the tank when we examined it, so
that it was no longer of any service to us. On the morning of the 7th,
therefore, I sent Lewis and Sullivan with the cart back to the camp,
retaining Flood and Morgan to attend on Mr. Browne and myself.

When we started I directed them to follow up the creek, which did not
appear to continue much further, and on arriving at the head of it to
cross the range, where it was low, in the hope that they would strike the
opposite fall of waters in descending on the other side, whilst I went
with Mr. Browne to a hill from which I was anxious to take bearings,
although Lewis, who had already been on the top of it, assured me that
there was nothing new to be seen. However, we found the view to be
extensive enough to enable us to judge better of the character of the
country than from any other point on which we had yet been. It was
traversed by numerous rocky ridges, that extended both to the north and
south beyond the range of vision. Many peaks shewed themselves in the
distance, and I was enabled to connect this point with "Coonbaralba," the
hill above the camp. The ridge I had directed Flood to cross was
connected with this hill, and appeared to create a division of the waters
thereabouts. All however to the north or northwest was as yet confused.
There was no visible termination of the ranges in any direction, nor
could we see any feature to guide us in our movements.

The rock formation of this hill was a fine grained granite, and was in
appearance a round and prominent feature. Although its sides were covered
with low dark brush, there was a considerable quantity of oat-grass in
its deep and sheltered valleys. We soon struck on Flood's track after
leaving this hill, which, as Lewis had been the first to ascend, I called
"Lewis's Hill;" and riding up the valley along which the men had already
passed, at six miles crossed the ridge, which (as we had been led to
hope) proved to be the range dividing the eastern and western waters. On
our descent from this ridge we proceeded to the north-west, but changed
our course to north in following the cart tracks, and at four miles
overtook Flood and Morgan on the banks of a creek, the channel of which,
and the broad and better grassed valley through which it runs, we
ourselves had several times crossed on our way down, and from the first
had hoped to find it the main creek on the west side of the ranges.

At the point where we overtook Flood it had increased greatly in size,
but we searched its hopeless bed in vain for water, and as it there
turned too much to the eastward, for which reason Flood had stopped until
we should come up, we left it and crossed the low part of a range to our
left; but as we were going too much to the south-west, I turned shortly
afterwards into a valley that led me more in the direction in which I was
anxious to proceed. The country had been gradually improving from the
time we crossed the little dividing range, not so much in soil as in
appearance, and in the quality of its herbage. There was a good deal of
grass in the valleys, and up the sides of the hills, which were clear and
open on the slopes but stony on their summits. After proceeding about two
and a half miles, we got into a scrubby part of the hills, through which
we found it difficult to push our way, the scrub being eucalyptus dumosa,
an unusual tree to find in those hills. After forcing through the scrub
for about half a mile, we were suddenly stopped by a succession of
precipitous sandstone gullies, and were turned to the eastward of north
down a valley the fall of which was to that point. This valley led us to
that in which we had rejoined Flood, but lower down; in crossing it we
again struck on the creek we had then left, much increased in size, and
with a row of gum-trees on either side of it, but its even broad bed
composed of the cleanest gravel and sand, precluded the hope of our
finding water. At about a mile, however, it entered a narrow defile in
the range, and the hills closed rapidly in upon it. Pursuing our way down
the defile it gradually narrowed, the bed of the creek occupied its whole
breadth, and the rocks rose perpendicularly on either side. We searched
this place for water with the utmost care and anxiety, and I was at
length fortunate enough to discover a small clear basin not a yard in
circumference, under a rock on the left side of the glen. Suspecting that
this was supplied by surface drainage, we enlarged the pool, and obtained
from it an abundance of the most delicious water we had tasted during our
wanderings. Mr. Browne will I am sure bear the Rocky Glen in his most
grateful remembrance. Relieved from further anxiety with regard to our
animals, he hastened with me to ascend one of the hills that towered
above us to the height of 600 feet, before the sun should set, but this
was no trifling task, as the ascent was exceedingly steep. The view from
the summit of this hill presented the same broken country to our scrutiny
which I have before described, at every point excepting to the westward,
in which direction the ranges appeared to cease at about six miles, and
the distant horizon from S.W. to N.W. presented an unbroken level. The
dark and deep ravine through which the creek ran was visible below us,
and apparently broke through the ranges at about four miles to the W.N.W.
but we could not see any water in its bed. It was sufficiently cheering
to us however to know that we were near the termination of the ranges to
the westward, and that the country we should next traverse was of open
appearance.

I had hoped from what we saw of it from the top of the hill above us, on
the previous afternoon, that we should have had but little difficulty in
following down the creek, but in this we were disappointed.

We started at eight to pursue our journey, and kept for some time in its
bed. The rock formation near and at our camp was trap, but at about a
mile below it changed to a coarse grey granite, huge blocks of which,
traversed by quartz, were scattered about. The defile had opened out a
little below where we had slept, but it soon again narrowed, and the
hills closed in upon it nearer than before. The bed of the creek at the
same time became rocky, and blocked up with immense fragments of granite.
We passed two or three pools of water, one of which was of tolerable
size, and near it there were the remains of a large encampment of
natives. Near to it also there was a well, a sure sign that however deep
the water-holes in the glen might now be, there are times when they are
destitute of any. There can be no doubt, indeed, but that we owed our
present supply of water both at this place and at the Coonbaralba pass,
to the rains that fell in the hills during the week we remained at
Williorara.

Soon after passing the native camp, our further progress was completely
stopped by large blocks of granite, which, resting on each other,
prevented the possibility of making a passage for the cart or even of
advancing on horseback. In this predicament I sent Flood to climb one of
the hills to our left, to see if there was a leading spur by which we
could descend to the plains; but on his return to us he said that the
country was wholly impracticable, but that he thought we should see more
of it from a hill he had noticed about three miles to the north-east. We
accordingly left Morgan with the horses and walked to it. We reached the
summit after a fatiguing walk of an hour, but neither were we repaid for
our trouble, nor was there anything in the view to lead us to hope for
any change for the better. The character of the country had completely
changed, and in barrenness it far exceeded that through which we had
already passed. The line of hills extended from S.E. by S. to the
opposite point of the compass, and formed a steep wall to shut out the
level country below them.

One might have imagined that an ocean washed their base, and I would that
it really had been so, but a very different hue spread between them and
the distant horizon than the deep blue of the sea. The nearer plains
appeared of a lighter shade than the rest of the landscape, but there
were patches of trees or shrubs upon them, which in the distance were
blended together in universal scrub. A hill, which I had at first sight
taken to be Mount Lyell of Sir Thomas Mitchell, bore 7 degrees to the
east of north, distant 18 miles, but as our observations placed us in 31
degrees 32 minutes 0 seconds S. only, it could not have been that hill.
To the south and east our view was limited, as the distant horizon was
hid from our sight by higher ground near us, but there was a confused
succession of hills and valleys in those directions, the sides of both
being covered with low brush and huge masses of granite, and a dark brown
sombre hue pervaded the whole scene. We could not trace the windings of
the creek, but thought we saw gumtrees in the plains below us, to the
N.E., indicating the course of a creek over them. Some of the same trees
were also visible to our left (looking-westward), and the ranges appeared
less precipitous and lower in the same direction. We cast our eyes
therefore to that point to break through them, and returned to Morgan
with at least the hope of success. In the view I had just then been
contemplating, however, I saw all realized of what I had imagined of the
interior, and felt assured that I had a work of extreme difficulty before
me in the task of penetrating towards the centre.

On our return to the cart, I determined on again taking up my quarters at
the little rocky water-hole, and sending Mr. Browne and Flood to the
westward to find a practicable descent to the plains, before I again
moved from the glen.

In the evening, Mr. Browne went with Flood down the creek, but the road
was perfectly impracticable even for led horses, so that the only hope of
progressing rested on the success that might attend his endeavours on the
following day. He accordingly started with Flood at an early hour,
proposing to return by the way of the creek, if he should succeed in
finding a descent to the plains. I and Morgan remained in the glen. My
observations placed this well-remembered spot in lat. 31 degrees 32
minutes 17 seconds S.

I had plenty of occupation during my officer's absence, whilst Morgan was
engaged looking over the harness and filling up the water-casks. At four,
Mr. Browne returned, having succeeded beyond our most sanguine
expectations, not only in finding an uninterrupted descent to the plains,
but an abundance of water in the creek at the gorge of the glen; yet he
was of opinion that we should not find any water below that point, as the
creek there had a broad and even bed of sand and gravel. He said that the
aspect of the plains was better than he had expected to find them, and he
distinctly saw from the ranges, as he descended, the hills of whose
existence we had had some doubt the day before, bearing N.N.W. Thus,
then, fortune once more befriended our movements, by enabling us to push
on another day in advance, without being dependent on our own resources.
Morgan was too glad to empty the casks again, and to lighten the
cart-load, with which, on the morning of the 9th, we left the glen, and
gradually turned to the westward, until the hill we had walked to on the
7th, and which bore west by north from the place where we had left Morgan
with the cart, now bore W.N.W. Pushing up a narrow valley, we found
little difficulty in our way, and leaving the above hill somewhat to our
right, we gradually descended by a long and leading spur to the
Cis-Darling interior.

We could now look back on the ranges from the depressed region into which
we had fallen, nor could the eye follow their outline and glance over the
apparently boundless plain beyond them, without feeling a conviction that
they had once looked over the waters of the ocean as they then overlooked
a sea of scrub.

As soon as we had got well into the plains, we pursued a course of half a
point to the eastward of north, nearly parallel to the ranges, until we
reached the glen from which the creek issues, and formed our little camp
on its banks. The water however was not good, so that we were obliged to
send for some from a pool a little above us. In the bed of this creek we
found beautiful specimens of Solani, and a few new plants.

I halted at this place in consequence of the resolution I had taken to
push into the interior on the following morning. I was therefore anxious
that the horses should start as fresh as possible, as we could not say
where we should again find water.

The direction of the hills was nearly north and south, extending at
either hand to a distance beyond the range of vision or telescope. Our
observations here placed us in latitude 31 degrees 23 minutes 20 seconds
S., so that we were still nearly half a degree to the south of Mount
Lyell, and a degree to the south of Mount Serle. I had little prospect of
success, however, in pursuing a direct westerly course, as it would have
led me into the visible scrub there; on the other hand I did not wish to
move exactly parallel to the ranges, but, in endeavouring to gain a
knowledge of the more remote interior, to keep such a course as would not
take me too far from the hills in the event of my being obliged to fall
back upon them. We started on the 11th, therefore, on a N.N.W. course,
and on the bearing of the low hills we had seen to the westward, and
which were now distinctly visible. For the first five miles we travelled
over firm and open plains of clay and sand, similar to the soil of the
plains of the Murray. At length the ground became covered with fragments
of quartz rock, ironstone, and granite. It appeared as if M'Adam had
emptied every stone he ever broke to be strewed over this metalled
region. The edges of the stones were not, however, rounded by attrition,
or mixed together, but laid on the plains in distinct patches, as if
large masses of the different rocks had been placed at certain distances
from each other and then shivered into pieces. The plains were in
themselves of undulating surface, and appeared to extend to some low
elevations on our left, connecting them with the main range as outer
features; although in the distance they only shewed as a small and
isolated line of hills detached about eleven miles from the principal
groups, from which we were gradually increasing our distance. This outer
feature prevented our seeing the north-west horizon until we gained an
elevated part of it, whence it appeared that we should soon have to
descend to lower ground than that on which we had been travelling. There
was a small eminence that just shewed itself above the horizon to the
N.N.W., and was directly in our course, enabling us to keep up our
bearings with the loftier and still visible peaks on the ranges. We found
the lower ground much less stony and more even than the higher ground,
and our horses got well over it. At 4 p.m. we observed a line of
gum-trees before us, evidently marking the line of a creek, the upper
branch of which we had already noticed as issuing from a deep recess in
the range. At the distance we were from the hills, we had little hope of
finding water; on approaching it, however, we alarmed some cockatoos and
other birds, and observed the recent tracks of emus in the bed of the
creek. Flood, who had ridden a-head, went up it in search for water. Mr.
Browne and I went downwards, and from appearances had great hopes that at
a particular spot we should succeed by digging, more especially as on
scraping away a little of the surface gravel with our hands, there were
sufficient indications to induce us to set Morgan to work with a spade,
who in less than an hour dug a hole from which we were enabled to supply
both our own wants and those of our animals; and as there was good grass
in the creek, we tethered them out in comfort. This discovery was the
more fortunate, as Flood returned unsuccessful from his search.

The gum-trees on this creek were of considerable size; and many of the
shrubs we had found in the creek, at the glen, were in beautiful flower
in its broad and gravelly bed, along which the Clyanthus was running with
its magnificent blossoms; a situation where I certainly did not expect to
find that splendid creeper growing. It was exceedingly curious to observe
the instinct which brought the smaller birds to our well. Even whilst
Morgan was digging, and Mr. Browne and I sitting close to him, some
Diamond birds (Amandina) were bold enough to perch on his spade; we had,
in the course of the day, whilst passing over the little stony range,
been attracted to a low Banksia, by seeing a number of nests of these
little birds in its branches, and of which there were no less than
fourteen. In some of them were eggs, and in others young birds; so that
it appeared they lived in communities, or congregated together to breed.
But we had numberless opportunities of observing the habits of this
interesting little bird, whose note cheered us for months, and was ever
the forerunner of good, as indicating the existence of water.

We placed the cart under a gum-tree, in which the cockatoos we had
alarmed when descending into the creek had a nest. These noisy birds
(Plyctolophus Leadbeaterii) kept incessantly screeching to their young,
which answered them in notes that resembled the croaking of frogs, more
than anything else.

On the 11th we left the creek, well satisfied with our night's occupation
of it, as also, I believe, to the still greater satisfaction of our noisy
friends. For about two and a half or three miles there was every
appearance of an improving country It was open, and in many places well
covered with grass; and although at three miles it fell off a little,
still the aspect on the northern side of the creek was, to a considerable
distance, preferable to that on the south side. At 11 a.m. we gained the
crest of the little stony hill we had seen the day before to the N.N.W.,
and from it were enabled not only to take back bearings, but to carry
others forward. We were fast losing sight of the hills, whose loftier
summits alone were visible, yet we now saw fresh peaks to the north,
which satisfied me that they continued in that direction far beyond the
most distant one we had seen. From this circumstance I was led to hope
that we might fall on another creek, and so gradually, but surely, work
our way to the N.W.

On descending from the little hill, however, we traversed an inferior
country, and at two miles saw a few scattered Pine-trees. Shortly
afterwards, on breaking through a low scrub, we crossed a ridge of sand,
on which numerous Pine-trees were growing. These ridges then occurred in
rapid succession, separated by narrow flats only; the soil being of a
bright red clay covered with Rhagodiae, and having bare patches on them.
The draught over this kind of country became a serious hindrance to our
movements, as it was very heavy, and the day excessively hot, the horses
in the team suffered much. I therefore desired Morgan to halt, and, with
Mr. Browne, rode forward in the hope of finding water, for he had shot a
new and beautiful pigeon, on the bill of which some moist clay was
adhering; wherefore we concluded that he had just been drinking at some
shallow, but still unexhausted, puddle of water near us: we were, however
unsuccessful in our search; but crossed pine ridge after pine ridge,
until at length I thought it better to turn back to the cart, and, as we
had already travelled some 25 miles, to halt until the morning; more
especially as there was no deficiency of grass on the sand ridges, and I
did not apprehend that our horses would suffer much from the want of
water.

Whatever idea I might have had of the character of the country into which
we had penetrated, I certainly was not prepared for any so singular as
that we encountered. The sand ridges, some partially, some thickly,
covered with Pine-trees, were from thirty to fifty feet high, and about
eighty yards at their base, running nearly longitudinally from north to
south. They were generally well covered with grass, which appeared to
have been the produce of recent rains; and several very beautiful
leguminous plants were also growing on them. I did not imagine that these
ridges would continue much longer, and I therefore determined, the
following morning to push on. Our position was in lat. 30 degrees 40
minutes S. and in longitude 140 degrees 51 minutes E. nearly.

On the morning of the 12th we commenced our day's journey on a N.W.
course, as I had proposed to Mr. Browne. Flood had been about half a mile
to the eastward, in the hope of finding water before we rose, but was
disappointed; the horses did not, however, appear to have suffered from
the want of it during the night. On starting I requested Mr. Browne to
make a circuit to the N.E. for the same purpose, as we had observed many
birds fly past us in that direction; and I sent Flood to the westward,
but both returned unsuccessful. Nevertheless, although we could not find
any water, the country improved.

The soil was still clay and sand, but we crossed some very fine flats,
and only wanted water to enjoy comparative luxury. Both the flats and the
ridges were well clothed with grass, and the former had box-trees and
hakeas scattered over them; but these favourable indications soon ceased.
The pine ridges closed upon each other once more, and the flats became
covered with salsolaceous plants. The day was exceedingly hot, and still
more oppressive in the brushes, so that the horses began to flag. At 2
p.m. no favourable change had taken place. Our view was limited to the
succeeding sand hill; nor, by ascending the highest trees, could we see
any elevated land at that hour; therefore I stopped, as the cart got on
so slowly, and as the horses would now, under any circumstances, be three
days without water, I determined on retracing my steps to the creek in
which we had dug the well. I directed Mr. Browne, with Flood, however, to
push on, till sunset, in the hope that he might see a change. At sunset I
commenced my retreat, feeling satisfied that I had no hope of success in
finding water so far from the hills. Turning back at so late an hour in
the afternoon, it was past midnight when we reached the sand ridge from
which we had started in the morning; where we again stopped until dawn,
when proceeding onwards, and passing a shallow puddle of surface water,
that was so thick with mud and animalculae as to be unfit to drink, we
gained the creek at half-past 4 p.m. Mr. Browne and Flood joined us some
little time after sunset, having ridden about 18 miles beyond the point
at which we had parted, but had not noticed any change. The sandy ridges,
Mr. Browne informed me, continued as far as he went; and, to all
appearance, for miles beyond. The day we returned to the creek was one of
most overpowering heat, the thermometer at noon being 117 degrees in the
shade. I had promised to wait for Mr. Browne at the shallow puddle, but
the sun's rays fell with such intense effect on so exposed a spot that I
was obliged to seek shelter at the creek. It blew furiously during the
night of the 13th, in heated gusts from the north-east, and on the
morning of the 14th the gale continued with unabated violence, and
eventually became a hot wind. We were, therefore, unable to stir. The
flies being in such myriads around us, so that we could do nothing. It
is, indeed, impossible for me to describe the intolerable plague they
were during the whole of that day from early dawn to sunset.

On the night of the 14th it rained a little. About 3 a.m. the wind blew
round to the north-west, and at dawn we had a smart shower which cooled
the air, reducing the temperature to something bearable. The sun rose
amidst heavy clouds, by which his fiery beams were intercepted in their
passage to the earth's surface. Before we quitted our ground I sent Flood
up the creek, to trace it into the hills, an intention I was myself
obliged to forego, being anxious to remain with the cart. The distance
between the two creeks is about 26 miles, but, as I have already
described the intervening country, it may not be necessary to notice it
further. I was unable to take many back bearings, as the higher portions
of the ranges were enveloped in mist. We reached the glen at half-past 5
p.m., and took up our old berth just at the gorge, preparatory to
ascending the hills on the following day. Flood had already arrived
there, and informed me that he had not followed the creek to where it
issued from the ranges, but had approached very nearly, and could see the
point from which it broke through them. That he had not found any surface
water, but had tried the ground in many places, and always found water at
two or three inches depth, and that where the water was the most abundant
the feed was also the most plentiful.

As I had anticipated, we had heavy rain all night, and in the morning
continual flying thunder-storms. We started, however, at eight, and,
leaving the cart to push on for the rocky gully, Mr. Browne and I
proceeded to ascend some of the higher peaks, which we had not had time
to do in our advance. We accordingly turned into a narrow valley, in the
middle of which was the bed of a rocky watercourse, and on either side of
it were large clusters of the Clematis in full flower, that, mixed with
low bushes of Jasmine, sent forth a most delicious perfume. After winding
up this valley for about a mile and a half, we were stopped by a wall of
rock right across it, and obliged to turn back. We were, however, more
fortunate in our next attempt, and succeeded in gaining the summit of one
of the loftiest hills on the range, on the very top of which we found
large boulders of rocks, imbedded in the soil. They varied in size, from
a foot in diameter to less, and were rounded by attrition, just like the
rounded stones in the bed of a river, or on the sea shore. The hill
itself was of schistose formation, the boulders of different kinds of
rocks, and very sparingly scattered through the soil. We had scarcely
reached the summit of this hill, when it was enveloped in thick clouds,
from which the lightning flashed, and the thunder pealed close to us, and
crack after crack reverberated along the valleys. It soon passed away,
however, and left us well drenched, but the western horizon was still
black with clouds. From this hill we proceeded to another, which at first
sight I had thought was of volcanic origin, but proved to be like the
first, of schistose formation, and was covered with low scrub. About 2
p.m. we had finished our work, and the sun shone out. On looking back
towards the plains we now saw them flashing in the light of waters, and I
regretted that we had been forced to retreat before the rains set in.
However, seeing that the country was now in a fitter state to travel
over, I determined on returning with all speed, to give Mr. Poole an
opportunity to pass to the point where I had been, whilst I should move
the party over the hills. We struck across the ranges, direct for the
rocky gully, from the last hill we ascended, and rode past some very
romantic scenery, but I had not time to make any sketch of it. Flood and
Morgan had already arrived in the glen, and tethered out the horses in
some long grass. At this place we were about 38 miles distant from the
camp; but, as the cart could not travel so far in one day, I directed the
men to bring it up, and on the morning of the 18th left them for the
camp, with Mr. Browne, where we arrived at sunset. But little rain had
fallen during the day, still it was easy to foretell that it had not
ceased. The wind, for the last three days, had been blowing from the
N.W., but on the 19th flew round to the S.E., and although no rain fell
during the day, heavy clouds surrounded us. Considering, however, the
rapidity of evaporation in such a climate, and the certainty that the
rains would be followed by extreme heat, I was anxious that Mr. Poole
should proceed on his journey without delay, he accordingly prepared to
leave us on the 20th.

The reader will have inferred, from what I have said on the subject, that
my object at this particular time was to attain the meridian of Mount
Arden, as soon as circumstances should enable me. Had not this intention
influenced me, on my recent journey, I should have kept nearer to the
ranges; but I hoped, by taking a westerly course, that I should strike
the N.E. angle of Lake Torrens, or find that I had altogether cleared it;
added to this Mr. Eyre had informed me that he could not see the northern
shore of that lake; I therefore thought that it might be connected with
some more central body of water, the early discovery of which, in my
progress to the N.W., would facilitate my future operations. This was a
point whereon I was most anxious to obtain information; but, as my horses
were knocked up, it appeared to me, that Mr. Poole, with fresh horses,
would find no difficulty in gaining a distance sufficiently great to
enable me to act on the knowledge he might acquire of the distant
interior.

In my instructions to that officer therefore, I directed him to pursue a
general N.W. course, as the one most likely to determine the questions on
the several points to which I called his attention. "Should you," I said,
"reach the shores of Lake Torrens, or any body of water of unknown
extent, you will endeavour to gain every information on that head; but if
you should not strike any basin of either description, you will do your
uttermost to ascertain if a westerly course is open to us, after you
shall have reached lat. 30 degrees to enable me to gain the 138 degrees
meridian, as soon as circumstances will permit. Should the supply of
water which the recent rains will ensure for a time, be likely to fail,
or if the rains should not have extended so far as you would desire to
go, and your advance be thus rendered hazardous, it will be discretionary
with you to return direct to the camp, or turn to the eastward, and
proceed along the western flanks of the ranges, but you are on no account
to endanger either yourself or party by an attempt to push into the
interior, to a distance beyond that which prudence might reasonably
justify. Should you return along the ranges you will examine any creek or
water-course you may intersect, and bring me the fullest information as
to the supply of water and feed. Should you, on the other hand, discover
any very extensive sheet of water, you will, after ascertaining its
extent and direction, as far as your means will allow, return immediately
to the camp; as, in the event of our requiring the boat, many necessary
preparations will have to be made, that will take a considerable length
of time to complete, during which the examination of the country to the
north can be carried on with advantage.

"You will select the men you would wish to accompany you, and will
provide as well for your comfort as safety; for although these regions do
not seem to be inhabited at the present moment, at least in that part
from whence I have just returned, it will be necessary for you to be
always on your guard, even although no apparent danger may be near."

Mr. Browne had greatly recovered from his late indisposition, and as Mr.
Poole intimated to me that he had expressed his willingness to accompany
him, I had several reasons for giving my assent to this arrangement.

On the morning of the 20th it still continued to rain, insomuch that I
was anxious Mr. Poole should postpone his departure, but clearing up at
noon, he left me and proceeded on his journey. In the evening, however,
we had heavy and violent showers; all night it poured in torrents with
thunder and lightning, but the morning of the 21st was clear and fine. A
vast quantity of rain however had fallen. The creek was overflowing its
banks, and the ground in such a state that it would have been impossible
to have moved the drays. The temperature was exceedingly cold, although
the thermometer did not fall below 66 degrees at half-past 2 p.m. the
hottest part of the day. Such a temperature I am aware would be
considered agreeable in England, but in a climate like that of Australia,
where the changes are so sudden, they are more severely felt. Only a few
days before the thermometer had ranged from 108 degrees to 117 degrees in
the shade, thus at once causing a difference of 42 degrees and 51
degrees, and I am free to say that it was by no means agreeable. On the
22nd I commenced my advance over the ranges, although the ground was
hardly then in a condition to bear the weight of the drays. We were
indeed obliged to keep on the banks of the creek as they were higher and
firmer than the plains, but after all we only made seven miles and
halted, I had almost said without water, for notwithstanding the recent
rains, there was not a drop in the bed of the creek, nor could we get any
other than a scanty supply by digging; Jones, however, one of the bullock
drivers, found a shallow pool upon the plains to which the cattle were
driven.

On the way I ascended a small hill composed of mica slate, and on its
summit found two or three specimens of tourmaline. The boiling point of
water on this hill was 210 degrees, the thermometer stood at 70 degrees.

On the 25th we crossed the little dividing range connected with Lewis's
Hill, which last I again ascended to verify my bearings, as we had
erected three pyramids on the Coonbaralla range that were visible from
it. I also availed myself of the slow progress of the drays, to ascend a
hill at some little distance from our line, which was considerably higher
than any of those near it, and was amply rewarded for my trouble by the
extensive view it afforded.

Our specimens and collections were at this period exceedingly limited,
nor did there appear to be any immediate chance of increasing them. The
most numerous of the feathered race were the owls, (Strix flameus.) These
birds flew about in broad daylight, and kept the camp awake all night by
their screeching, it being at that time the breeding season. The young
birds generally sat on a branch near the hole in which they had been
hatched, and set up a most discordant noise about every quarter of an
hour, when the old ones returned to them with food.

On trying the thermometers, one on Lewis's Hill, and the other on the
Black Hill, I found that they boiled at 209 degrees and 208 degrees
respectively.

On the 26th Jones was unfortunate enough to snap the pole of his dray,
and I was consequently detained on the 27th repairing it. I was the more
vexed at the accident, being anxious to push over the ranges and gain the
plains, in order to prevent Mr. Poole the necessity of re-ascending them.
I felt satisfied that I should find a sufficiency both of water and feed
at the gorge of the Rocky Glen, to enable me to rest until more thorough
knowledge of the country could be gained, whilst by encamping at that
place I should save Mr. Poole a journey of 63 miles.

As we descended from the ranges I observed that all the water I had seen
glittering on the plains had disappeared; I found too that the larger
water-hole in the glen had rather fallen than increased during the rains.
The fact however was, that the under-drainage had not yet reached the
lower part of the gully.

We were now about 24 miles from the second creek Mr. Browne and I had
crossed on our recent excursion, and from Flood's examination of it
afterwards, I felt assured that unless a party was sent forward to dig a
large hole for the cattle I could not prudently advance any farther for
the present; but being anxious to push on, and hoping that the late rains
had increased the supply of water in the creek, I sent Flood on the 28th
with two of the men (Joseph and Sullivan) to dig a tank in the most
favourable spot he could select, and followed him with the drays on the
29th. Wishing however to examine the country a little to the westward, I
desired the men to keep on the plains about two miles from the foot of
the ranges, until they should strike the creek or Flood should join them,
and did not reach the encampment before eight o'clock.

Flood then told me that he had been to the place where he had before
found most surface water; but that, notwithstanding the rains, it was all
gone. He had tried the creek downwards, and had at length sunk a tank
opposite to a little gully, thinking that it might influence the
drainage. The tank was quite full, and continued so for two or three days
after, when, without any great call upon it from the cattle, it sensibly
diminished, and at length dried up, and we should have been obliged to
fall back, if in tracing up the little gully we had not found a pond that
enabled us to keep our ground. It often happened that we thus procured
water in detached localities when there was not a drop in the main
channels of the creeks. At this place the boiling point of the
thermometer was 212 degrees; thus bringing us again pretty nearly on a
level with the ocean, although we were at the time distant from it more
than 480 miles.

At this period we had frequent heavy winds, with a heated temperature:
yet our animals, if I except the dogs, did not suffer much. The sheep, it
is true, would sometimes refuse to stir, and assemble in the shade, when
on the march, whilst the dogs took shelter in wambut holes, and poking
their heads out, would bark at their charge to very little purpose. It
was evident, indeed, that the heat was fast increasing, and what we had
already experienced was only an earnest of that which was to follow.

Mr. Poole had now been absent thirteen days, and I began to be anxious
for his return. Our march to the second creek had again shortened his
homeward journey 70 miles, and as I felt assured he would cross the creek
at the point where we had dug the well, I stuck a pole up in it, with
instructions, and on the 2nd December he rode into the camp with Mr.
Browne, both much fatigued, as well as their horses. I had been engaged
the greater part of the day fixing the points for another base line, as I
was fearful that the angles of our first were too acute, and found that
the party had got back on my return to the camp.

Mr. Poole informed me that as soon as the weather cleared, after leaving
me on the range, he had pushed on. That on the 24th he left my cart
tracks as they turned to the N.W., and continued the N.N.W. course as I
had directed. On that day he encamped early at a good water-hole, as the
horses had travelled fast; the country thereabouts had become more open,
but water was exceedingly scarce. On this day he ascended a small
sandstone hill, from which some high peaks on the range bore S.S.E.

On the 26th he had not advanced 10 miles, when the pack-horse fell
exhausted by heat. Mr. Poole then consulted with Mr. Browne, and it was
thought better by both to travel at night, and they accordingly did so.
The country by moonlight appeared more open, and the water seemed to be
in greater abundance, as if much more rain had fallen thereabouts than to
the south. They continued a N.N.W. course until daylight, when they
halted, and Mr. Browne ascended a sand hill, from whence he saw peaks on
the range bearing to the north of east, and the Mount Serle range,
bearing due west, distant 50 miles. The latter circumstance induced Mr.
Poole, when he again resumed his journey, to change his course to west,
in the hope that as he had passed the 30th parallel he should find Lake
Torrens between himself and the ranges. Accordingly, on starting at 4
p.m. they went on that course, and halted at dawn on a swampy flat, under
a gum-tree. Mr. Poole subsequently ascertained that the swamp was the
head of a little creek falling into the Sandy Lake, where he afterwards
terminated his journey.

The country had now assumed a very barren appearance. At sunrise Mr.
Poole and Mr. Browne ascended another sand hill, from whence they again
saw the hills to the westward, seemingly very high and steep; but there
was no sign of an intermediate basin, the country towards the ranges
bearing a most sterile aspect. Here Mr. Browne saw a new pigeon, which
had a very singular flight.

On the afternoon of the 28th the party moved on a course of 10 degrees to
the south of west, down a leading valley, the country becoming still more
barren, the sand ridges quite bare, and only an occasional hakea on the
flats. At eight miles on the above course, and from the top of a sandy
ridge at the distance of two miles, they saw a sheet of water about a
mile and a half in length, in a sandy bed extending to the north, without
any visible termination. There was another sheet of water to the south of
this in the same kind of bed, connected with the larger one by a dry
channel. It appeared from the lay of the country that these sheets of
water were formed by drainage from the barren ranges from which Mr. Poole
calculated he was 15 to 18 miles distant. The lakes were about three
miles in length, taking the two together, the water was slightly
brackish, and in Mr. Poole's opinion they might during the summer season
be dry. He again ascended the sandy ridge and observed that he was
immediately opposite to three remarkable peaks, similar to those marked
down by Mr. Eyre. The party then turned homewards, and encamped on the
creek at the head of which they had slept the night before, where they
could hardly rest for the swarms of mosquitos. Pursuing their journey
towards the camp on the following morning, keeping some few miles to the
westward of their former line, they passed through a similar country. At
noon, on the 1st of December, they were still amongst the pine ridges;
after noon the country began to improve, and they rode across large
plains well grassed and covered with acacia trees of fine growth, but
totally destitute of water; they were in consequence obliged to tether
the horses all night. They reached the creek in which I had erected the
pole, early on the following morning, and there found the paper of
instructions informing them of the removal of the camp to within a mile
of where they then were.

It was evident from the result of this excursion, and from the high
northerly point Mr. Poole had gained, that he had either struck the lower
part of the basin of Lake Torrens or some similar feature. It was at the
same time, however, clear that the country was not favourable for any
attempt to penetrate, since there was no surface water. I felt indeed
that it would be imprudent to venture with heavily loaded drays into such
a country; but although I found a westerly course as yet closed upon me,
I still hoped that we should find larger waters in the north-west
interior, from the fact of the immense number of bitterns, cranes, and
other aquatic birds, the party flushed in the neighbourhood of the lakes.
Whence could these birds (more numerous at this point than we ever
afterwards saw them) have come from? To what quarter do they go? They do
not frequent the Murray or the Darling in such numbers, neither do they
frequent the southern portion of the coast. If then they are not to be
found in those localities, what waters do they inhabit in the interior?

On the 4th I sent Flood to the north in search of water, directing him to
keep at a certain distance from the ranges, with especial instructions
not to proceed beyond 60 or 70 miles, but in the event of his finding
water within that distance to return immediately to the camp. During his
absence I was abundantly occupied, and anxious that Mr. Poole and Mr.
Browne should have a little rest after their late journey. Both those
gentlemen were however too interested in the service in which they were
engaged to remain idle when they could be usefully employed. Mr. Poole
went out with me on the 5th and 6th to assist in the measurement of the
new base line I had deemed it prudent to run, for the purpose, as I have
said, of correcting any previous error. Mr. Piesse examined the pork, and
according to my instructions made out a list of the stores on hand, when
I found it necessary to make a reduction in the allowance of tea and
sugar, in consequence of the loss of weight. The former from 4 oz. to 3
oz. per week, the latter from 2 lb. to 1 1/2 lb.

The heat had now become excessive, the thermometer seldom falling under
96 degrees, and rising to 112 degrees and 125 degrees in the shade. The
surface of the ground never cooled, and it was with difficulty that we
retained any stones in our hands that had been exposed to the sun; still
we had not as yet experienced a hot wind. The existing heat was caused by
its radiation from the earth's surface and the intensity of the solar
rays.

The horses Mr. Poole had out with him, had suffered a good deal, and
considering that if the country should continue as heretofore, and we
should be obliged to hunt incessantly for water, we should require
relays, I thought it advisable to do away with the horse-team, as the
consumption of provisions now enabled me to divide the load the horses
had drawn equally amongst the bullocks. We finished the base line on the
7th, and I was glad to find that it was of sufficient length to ensure a
favourable result, it being rather more than 10 miles.

All drainage in the creek had now ceased, and we were therefore dependent
on the water in the gully, which, although invaluable as a present
supply, would soon have been exhausted, where our total consumption could
not have been less than from 1000 to 1100 gallons a day, for the horses
and bullocks drank a fearful quantity. Had Flood been unsuccessful in the
object of his journey, therefore, I should in the course of a few days
have been obliged to fall back, but he returned on the 7th, bringing news
that he had found a beautiful little creek, in which there were long deep
water-holes shaded by gum-trees, with an abundance of grass in its
neighbourhood. This creek he said was about 40 miles in advance, but
there was no water between us and it. He also confirmed an impression I
had had on my mind from our first crossing the Barrier Range, that it
would not continue to any great distance northwards; Flood said that from
what he could observe the hills appeared to be gradually declining, as if
they would soon terminate. He saw three native women at the creek, but
did not approach them, thinking it better not to excite their alarm.
These were the first natives we had seen on the western side of the
hills.

On the 9th we again moved forward, on a course a little to the eastward
of north, over the barren, stony, and undulating ground that lies between
the main and outer ranges. The discovery of this creek by Flood, so much
finer than any we had hitherto crossed, led me to hope that if the
mountains should cease I might fall in with other ranges beyond them
coming from the north-east, as forming the northwest slope of the valley
of the Darling. I was anxious, therefore, to examine the ranges as we
advanced, and leaving the party in Mr. Poole's charge, rode away to
ascend some of the hills and to take bearings from them to some
particular peaks, the bearing of which had already been taken from
different elevations; but from no hill to which I went could a view of
the south-west horizon be obtained, so much lower had the hills become,
and from their general aspect I was fully satisfied that we should soon
arrive at their termination. From the last point I ascended, as from
others, there was a large mountain bearing N.E. by N. from me, distant 50
or 60 miles, which I rightly judged to be Mount Lyell. It was a bold,
round hill, without any particular feature, but evidently the loftiest
connected with the Barrier Range. Mount Babbage bore N. by E. and was
only just visible above the dark scrubs between me and it. The teams were
keeping rather nearer the hills than Flood had gone, and were moving
directly for a line of trees apparently marking the course of a creek. On
my way to overtake the party, I met Mr. Browne and Flood on the plains,
with whom I rode back. As we crossed these plains we flushed numerous
pigeons--a pair, indeed, from under almost every bush of rhagodia that we
passed. This bird was similar to one Mr. Browne had shot in the pine
forest, and this was clearly the breeding season; there were no young
birds, and in most of the nests only one egg. We should not, however,
have encumbered ourselves with any of the young at that time, but looked
to a later period for the chance of being able to take some of that
beautiful description of pigeon home with us. The old birds rose like
grouse, and would afford splendid shooting if found in such a situation
at any other period than that of incubation; at other times however, as I
shall have to inform the reader, they congregate in vast flocks, and are
migratory.

Fortunately, at that part of the creek where the party struck it, there
was a small pool of water, at which we gladly halted for the night,
having travelled about 28 miles; our journey to Flood's Creek on the
following day was comparatively short. Flood had not at all exaggerated
his account of this creek, which, as an encouragement, I named after him.
It was certainly a most desirable spot to us at that time; with plenty of
water, it had an abundance of feed along its banks; but our tents were
pitched on the rough stony ground flanking it, under cover of some small
rocky hills. To the north-west there was a very pretty detached range,
and westward large flooded flats, through which the creek runs, and where
there was also an abundance of feed for the stock.

Although, as I have observed, the heat was now very great, the cereal
grasses had not yet ripened their seed, and several kinds had not even
developed the flower. Everything in the neighbourhood of the creek looked
fresh, vigorous, and green, and on its banks (not, I would observe, on
the plains, because on them there was a grass peculiar to such
localities) the animals were up to their knees in luxuriant vegetation.
We there found a native wheat, a beautiful oat, and a rye, as well as a
variety of grasses; and in hollows on the plains a blue or purple vetch
not unusual on the sand ridges, of which the cattle were very fond. In
crossing the stony plains to this creek we picked up a number of round
balls, of all sizes, from that of a marble to that of a cannon ball; they
were perfect spheres, and hollow like shells, being formed of clay and
sand cemented by oxide of iron. Some of these singular balls were in
clusters like grape-shot, others had rings round them like Saturn's ring;
and as I have observed, the plains were covered with them in places.
There can be no doubt, I think, but that they were formed by the action
of water, and that constant rolling, when they were in a softer state,
gave them their present form.

The day succeeding that of our arrival at Flood's Creek was one of
tremendous heat; but in the afternoon the wind flew round to the S.W.
from the opposite point of the compass, and it became cooler. On the
11th, I detached Mr. Poole and Mr. Browne, with a fortnight's provisions,
to the N.E. in search of water. It may appear that I had given these
officers but a short respite from their late labours; but the truth is
that a camp life is a monotonous one, and both enjoyed such excursions,
and when there was no necessity for other arrangements, as they evinced a
great interest in the expedition, I was glad to contribute to their
pleasures, and should have rejoiced if it had fallen to their lot to make
any new and important discovery.

My instructions to Mr. Poole on these occasions were general. To keep a
course somewhat to the eastward of north, but to be guided by
circumstances. I thought it better to give him that discretionary power,
since I could not know what changes might take place in the country.

I sent Flood at the same time to ride along the base of the ranges; but
desired him not to be absent more than three or four days, as I myself
contemplated an excursion to the eastward, to examine the country on that
side as I passed up it.

The reader will observe, that although slowly, we were gradually, and, I
think, steadily working our way into the interior. At that time I hoped
with God's blessing we should have raised the veil that had so long hung
over it, more effectually than we did. Up to that period we had been
exceedingly fortunate; nothing had occurred to disturb the tranquillity
of our proceedings; no natives to interrupt our movements; no want either
of water or grass for our cattle, however scarce the parties scouring the
country might have found it; no neglect on the part of the men, and a
consequent efficient state of the whole party. But time brings round
events to produce a change in all things; the book of fate being closed
to our inspection, it is only from the past that we discover what its
pages before concealed from us.




CHAPTER V.



NATIVE WOMEN--SUDDEN SQUALL--JOURNEY TO THE EASTWARD--VIEW FROM MOUNT
LYELL--INCREASED TEMPERATURE--MR. POOLE'S RETURN--HIS REPORT--LEAVE
FLOOD'S CREEK--ENTANGLED IN THE PINE FOREST--DRIVE THE CATTLE TO
WATER--EXTRICATE THE PARTY--STATE OF THE MEN--MR. POOLE AND MR. BROWNE
LEAVE THE CAMP--PROCEED NORTHWARDS--CAPT. STURT LEAVES FOR THE
NORTH--RAPID DISAPPEARANCE OF WATER--MUDDY CREEK--GEOLOGICAL
FORMATION--GYPSUM--PUSH ON TO THE RANGES--RETURN TO THE CREEK--AGAIN
ASCEND THE RANGES--FIND WATER BEYOND THEM--PROCEED TO THE W.N.W.--RETURN
TO THE RANGES--ANTS AND FLIES--TURN TO THE EASTWARD--NO WATER--RETURN TO
THE CAMP--MR. POOLE FINDS WATER--MACK'S ADVENTURE WITH THE NATIVES--MOVE
THE CAMP.


I was much surprised that the country was not better inhabited than it
appeared to be; for however unfit for civilized man, it seemed a most
desirable one for the savage, for there was no want of game of the larger
kind, as emus and kangaroos, whilst in every tree and bush there was a
nest of some kind or other, and a variety of vegetable productions of
which these rude people are fond. Yet we saw not more than six or seven
natives during our stay in the neighbourhood of Flood's Creek.

One morning some of the men had been to the eastward after the cattle,
and on their return informed me that they had seen four natives at a
distance. On hearing this I ordered my horse to be saddled, with the
intention of going after them; but just at that moment Tampawang called
out that there were three blacks crossing from the flats, to the
eastward, I therefore told him to follow me, and started after them on
foot. The ground was very stony, so that the poor creatures, though
dreadfully alarmed, could not get over it, and we rapidly gained upon
them. At last, seeing there was no escape, one of them stopped, who
proved to be an old woman with two younger companions. I explained to her
when she got calm, for at first she was greatly frightened, that my camp
was on the creek, and I wanted the blackfellows to come and see me; and
taking Tampawang's knife, which hung by a string round his neck, I shewed
the old lady the use of it, and putting the string over her head, patted
her on the back and allowed her to depart. To my surprise, in about an
hour and a half after, seven natives were seen approaching the camp, with
the slowness of a funeral procession. They kept their eyes on the ground,
and appeared as if marching to execution. However, I made them sit under
a tree; a group of seven of the most miserable human beings I ever saw.
Poor emaciated creatures all of them, who no doubt thought the mandate
they had received to visit the camp was from a superior being, and had
obeyed it in fear and trembling. I made them sit down, gave them a good
breakfast and some presents, but could obtain no information from them;
when at length they slunk off and we never saw anything more of them. The
men were circumcised, but not disfigured by the loss of the front teeth,
perfectly naked, rather low in stature, and anything but good looking.

On the 12th, about midnight, we had a violent squall that at once
levelled every tent in the camp to the ground. It lasted for about half
an hour with terrific fury, but gradually subsided as the cloud from
behind which it burst passed over us. A few drops of rain then fell and
cooled the air, when I called all hands to replace the tents. I was up
writing at the time, and of a sudden found myself sitting without
anything above me save the blue vault of heaven. My papers, etc. were
carried away, and the men could scarcely hear one another, so furiously
did the wind howl in the trees.

On the 13th I left the camp in charge of Mr. Piesse my store-keeper, and
with Mr. Stuart and Flood crossed the ranges to the eastward, intending
to examine the country between us and the Darling. Immediately on the
other side of the range there was a plain of great width, and beyond, at
a distance of between 50 and 60 miles, was a range of hills running
parallel to those near the camp. They terminated however at a bold hill,
bearing E.N.E. from me, it was evidently of great height; beyond this
hill there was another still higher to the north-east, which I believe
was Mount Lyell. The first portions of the plain were open, and we could
trace several creeks winding along them, but the distant parts were
apparently covered with dense and black scrub. Descending to the eastward
towards the plains we rode down a little valley, in which we found a
small pool of water; at this we stopped for a short time, but as the
valley turned too much to the north I left it, and pursuing an easterly
course over the plains halted at seven miles, and slept upon them, under
some low bushes. The early part of the day had been warm, with the wind
at N.E., but in the evening it changed to the south, and the night was
bitterly cold. On the morning of the 14th we were obliged to wrap
ourselves up as well as we could, the wind still blowing keenly from the
south. We travelled for more than five miles over grassy plains, and
crossed the dry beds of several lagoons, in which not very long before
there might have been water. At nine miles we entered a dense brush of
pinetrees, acacia and other shrubs growing on pure sand. Through this we
rode for more than 15 miles, to the great labour of our animals, as the
soil was loose, and we had constantly to turn suddenly to avoid the
matted and fallen timber. In this forest the temperature was quite
different from that on the plains, and as we advanced it became perfectly
oppressive. At about 15 miles we ascended a small clear sandy knoll, from
whence we had a full view of Mount Lyell. I had expected that we should
have found some creek near it, but the moment my eye fell on that naked
and desolate mountain my hopes vanished. We had now approached it within
five miles, and could discover its barren character. Although of great
height (2000 feet), there did not appear to be a blade of vegetation,
excepting on the summit, where there were a few casuarinae, but the pines
grew high up in its rugged ravines, and the brush continued even to its
base. I still however hoped that from the top we should see some creek or
other, but in this expectation we were also disappointed. The same kind
of dark and gloomy brush extended for miles all round, nor could we
either with the eye or the telescope discover any change. Again to the
eastward there were distant ranges, but no prominent hill or mountain to
be seen. One dense forest lay between us and them, within which I could
not hope to find water, and as we had been without from the time we left
the little creek in the ranges near the camp, I determined on retracing
my steps, my object in this journey having been fully gratified by the
results. The country through which we had passed was barren enough, but
that towards the Darling was still worse. I should, however, have pushed
on to Mount Babbage, which loomed large and bore a little to the eastward
of north; but I did not see that I should gain anything by prolonging my
journey. We were now about 56 miles from the camp, and there was little
likelihood of our finding any water on our way back; when we descended
from the hill, therefore, I pressed into the pine forest, as far as I
could, and then halted. On the following morning we crossed the plains
more to the north than we had before done. About 11 a.m. we struck a
creek, and startled a native dog in its bed which ran along the bank. In
following this animal we stumbled on a pool of water, and stopped to
breakfast. Wishing to examine the country there as far to the north as
possible on my way back, I passed over the northern extremity of the
ranges. They there appeared gradually to terminate, and a broad belt of
pine scrub from the westward stretched across the country, below me, to
the east, until it joined the forest, through a lower part of which we
had penetrated to Mount Lyell; but beyond this scrub nothing was to be
seen. On my return to the camp I examined the drays, and found that the
hot weather had had a tremendous effect on the wheels; the felloes had
shrunk greatly, and the tyres of all were loose. I therefore had them
wedged and put into serviceable condition.

The heat at this period was every day increasing, and it blew violently
from whatever point of the compass the wind came.

On the 17th I examined the stock, and was glad to find they were all in
good condition, the horses fast recovering from their late fatigues, the
cattle in excellent order, and the sheep really fat.

Mr. Stuart was generally employed over the chart, which now embraced more
than 80 miles of a hilly country, and I was happy to find that our angles
agreed.

As I have already observed, there were a great variety of the cereal
grasses about Flood's Creek, but they merely occupied a small belt on
either side of it. All the grasses were exceedingly green, and there was
a surprising appearance of verdure along the creek. Beyond it, on both
sides, were barren stony plains, on which salsolaceous plants alone grew.
About 13 miles to the westward the pine ridges commenced, and between us
and these were large flats of grassy land, over which the waters of the
creek spread in times of flood.

The white owl here appeared, like other birds, at noon-day; but there
were also numerous other night birds. Here too the black-shouldered hawk
collected in flights of thirty or forty constantly on the wing, but we
never saw them take any prey; nor, (although we invariably examined their
gizzards,) could we discover upon what they lived.

Our lunars placed us in long. 141 degrees 18 minutes 2 seconds E. and
lat. 30 degrees 49 minutes 29 seconds S. Up to this point we had
traversed nothing but a desert, which, as far as our examinations had
extended, was worse on either side than the line on which we were moving;
how much further that gloomy region extended, or rather how far we were
destined to wander into it, was then a mystery.

The heat now became so great that it was almost unbearable, the
thermometer every day rose to 112 degrees or 116 degrees in the shade,
whilst in the direct rays of the sun from 140 degrees to 150 degrees. I
really felt much anxiety on account of Mr. Poole and Mr. Browne, who did
not return to the camp until the 25th. So great was the heat, that the
bullocks never quitted the shade of the trees during the day, and the
horses perspired from their exertions to get rid of the mosquitos. On the
22nd the natives fired the hills to the north of us, and thus added to
the heat of the atmosphere, and filled the air with smoke.

At 7 a.m. on the morning of that day the thermometer stood at 97 degrees;
at noon it had risen 10 degrees, and at 3 p.m., the hottest period of the
day, it rose to 118 degrees in the shade. The wind was generally from the
E.S.E., but it drew round with the sun, and blew fresh from the north at
mid-day, moderating to a dead calm at sunset, or with light airs from the
west. A deep purple hue was on the horizon every morning and evening,
opposite to the rising and setting sun, and was a sure indication of
excessive heat.

On the 23rd I sent Flood and Lewis to the N.E., with instructions to
return on Christmas-day. At this time the men generally complained of
disordered bowels and sore eyes, but I attributed both to the weather,
and to the annoyance of the flies and mosquitos. The seeds were ripening
fast along the banks of the creek, and we collected as many varieties as
we could; but they matured so rapidly, and the seed-vessels burst so
suddenly that we had to watch them.

The comet, which we had first noticed on the 17th of the month, now
appeared much higher and brighter than at first. Its tail had a slight
curve, and it seemed to be rather approaching the earth than receding
from it.

On the morning of the 24th, about 5 a.m., I was roused from sleep by an
alarm in the camp, and heard a roaring noise as of a heavy wind in that
direction. Hastily throwing on my clothes, I rushed out, and was
surprised to see Jones's dray on fire; the tarpaulin was in a blaze, and
caused the noise I have mentioned. As this dray was apart from the
others, and at a distance from any fire, I was at a loss to account for
the accident; but it appeared that Jones had placed a piece of lighted
cowdung under the dray the evening before, to drive off the mosquitos,
which must have lodged in the tarpaulin and set it on fire. Two bags of
flour were damaged, and the outside of the medicine chest was a good deal
scorched, but no other injury done. The tarpaulin was wholly consumed,
and Jones lost the greater part of his clothes, a circumstance I should
not have regretted if he had been in a situation to replace them.

Flood returned on the 25th, at 2 p.m., having found water in several
places, but none of a permanent kind like that in the creek. He had
fallen on a small and shallow lagoon, and had seen a tribe of natives,
who ran away at his approach, although he tried to invite them to remain.

About an hour before sunset Mr. Poole and Mr. Browne returned, to the
great relief of my mind; for, with every confidence in their prudence, I
could not help being anxious in such a situation as that in which I was
placed, my only companions having then been many days absent. They had
nearly reached the 28th parallel, and had discovered an abundance of
water, but Mr. Poole was more sanguine than Mr. Browne of its permanency.

The first water they found at the commencement of their journey, was at a
distance of 40 miles and upwards, and as I felt assured we should have
great difficulty in taking the cattle so far without any, I sent Flood,
on the 26th, to try if he could find some intermediate pool at which I
could stop. Mr. Poole informed me that the ranges still continued to the
north, but that they were changed in character, and he thought they would
altogether terminate ere long.

He also reported to me that the day he left the camp he pursued a N.N.E.
course, skirting an acacia scrub, and that arriving at a small puddle of
water at 12 miles, he halted. That on the 12th he started at six, and
after travelling about three miles first got a view of distant ranges to
the north; he soon afterwards entered an acacia scrub, and at 15 miles
crossed a creek, the course of which was to the S.W., but there was no
water in it. At five the party reached the hills, the acacia scrub
continuing to within a mile of them; and as the day had been exceedingly
warm, Mr. Poole encamped in a little gully. He then walked with Mr.
Browne to the top of the nearest hill, and from it observed two lines of
gum-trees in the plains below them to the north, which gave them hopes of
finding water in the morning, as they were without any. Saw two detached
ranges bearing 320 degrees and 329 degrees respectively, and a distant
flat-topped hill, bearing 112 degrees from them, the country appearing to
be open to the north.

On the 13th, the party pushed on at an early hour for the gum-trees, but
found no water. Observed numerous flights of pigeons going to the N.W.
Traced the creek down for two miles, when they arrived at a place where
the natives had been digging for water; here Mr. Poole left Mr. Browne
and went further down the creek, when he succeeded in his search; but
finding, on his return, that Mr. Browne and Mack had cleared out the well
and got a small supply of water, with which they had relieved the horses
and prepared breakfast, he did not return to the water he had discovered,
but proceeded to the next line of gum-trees where there was another
creek, but without water in it; coming on a small quantity in its bed at
two miles, however, they encamped. A meridian altitude of Aldebaran here
gave their latitude 30 degrees 10 minutes 0 seconds S. On the following
morning Mr. Poole started on a W.N.W. course for a large hill, from
whence he was anxious to take bearings, and which he reached and ascended
after a journey of 22 miles. From this hill, which he called the Magnetic
Hill (Mount Arrowsmith), because on it the north point of the compass
deviated to within 3 degrees of the south point, he saw high ranges to
the north and north-east; a hill they had already ascended bore 157
degrees 30 minutes, and the flat-topped hill 118 degrees 30 minutes. From
the Magnetic Hill, Mr. Poole went to the latter, and ascended the highest
part of it. The range was rugged, and composed of indurated quartz, and
there was a quantity of gypsum in round flat pieces scattered over the
slopes of the hills. The country to the W. and W.N.W. appeared to be very
barren. The range on which they were was perfectly flat at the top, and
covered with the same vegetation as the plains below. From this point Mr.
Poole went to the north, but at 12 miles changed his course to the N.E.
for three miles, when he intersected a creek with gum-trees, and shortly
afterwards found a large supply of permanent water. Their latitude at
this point was 29 degrees 47 minutes S., and up to it no change for the
better had taken place in the appearance of the country. On Monday, the
15th, Mr. Poole ascended several hills to take bearings before he moved
on; he then proceeded up the creek to the north-west, and passed from
fifteen to twenty large water-holes. At about three miles, Mr. Poole
found himself on an open table land, on which the creek turned to the
west. He, therefore, left it, and at two miles crossed a branch creek
with water and grass. At 7 1/2 miles farther to the north crossed another
creek, followed it for a mile, when it joined a larger one, the course of
which was to the north-east. In this creek there were numerous large
pools of water. Crossing it, Mr. Poole ascended a hill to take bearings,
from which he descended to a third creek, where he stopped for the night.
On the following morning he continued his journey to the north, being
anxious to report to me the character of the ranges. At 12 miles over
open plains he intersected a creek trending to the eastward, in which
there was an abundant supply of water; but this creek differed from the
others in having muddy water, and but little vegetation in its
neighbourhood. Passed some native huts, and saw twenty wild turkeys. At
10 miles from this creek Mr. Poole struck another, the ranges being still
12 miles distant. The horses having travelled for the last 10 miles over
barren stony plains, had lost their shoes, and were suffering greatly.
Mr. Poole, therefore, stopped at this place, and on consulting with Mr.
Browne, determined to return to the camp without delay. Accordingly on
the following morning he rode to the hills with Mr. Browne, leaving Mack
with the other horses to await his return, and at 10 a.m. ascended the
range. The view from it was not at all encouraging. The hills appeared to
trend to the N.E., and were all of them flat-topped and treeless. The
country to the west and north-west was dark with scrub, and the whole
region barren and desolate. After taking bearings, Mr. Poole descended,
returned to the creek on which he had left Mack, and as I have already
stated, reached the camp on the evening of the 25th.

It will be obvious to the reader that the great danger I had to apprehend
was that of having my retreat cut off from the failure of water in my
rear; or if I advanced without first of all exploring the country, of
losing the greater number of my cattle. It may be said that my officers
had now removed every difficulty; but notwithstanding that Mr. Poole was
sanguine in his report of the probable permanency of the water he had
found, I hesitated whether to advance or not; but considering that under
all circumstances the water they had found would still be available for a
considerable time, and that it would enable me to push still further to
the north, I decided on moving forward at once; but the weather was at
this time so terrifically hot, that I hardly dared move whilst it
continued, more especially as we had so great a distance to travel
without water. I kept the party in readiness, however, to move at a
moment's notice. On the 27th we had thunder, but no rain fell, and the
heat seemed rather to increase than to decrease. On the 28th, at 2 p.m.,
the wind suddenly flew round to the south, and it became cooler. In hopes
that it would continue, I ordered the tents to be struck, and we left
Flood's Creek at half-past 4. As soon as I had determined on moving, I
directed Mr. Poole to lead on the party in the direction he thought it
would be best to take, and mounting my horse, rode with Mr. Browne and
Mr. Stuart towards the ranges, to take bearings from a hill I had
intended to visit, but had been prevented from doing in consequence of
the extreme heat of the weather. I did not, indeed, like leaving the
neighbourhood without going to this hill. The distance, however, was
greater than it appeared to be, and it was consequently late before we
reached it; but once on the top we stood on the highest and last point of
the Barrier Range; for although, as we shall learn, other ranges existed
to the north, there was a broad interval of plain between us and them,
nor were they visible from our position. We stood, as it were, in the
centre of barrenness. I feel it impossible, indeed, to describe the
scene, familiar as it was to me. The dark and broken line of the Barrier
Range lay behind us to the south; eastward the horizon was bounded by the
hills I had lately visited, and the only break in the otherwise
monotonous colour of the landscape was caused by the plains we had
crossed before entering the pine forest. From the south-west round to the
east northwards, the whole face of the country was covered with a gloomy
scrub that extended like a sea to the very horizon. To the north-west, at
a great distance, we saw a long line of dust, and knowing it to be raised
by the party, after having taken bearings and tried the point of boiling
water, we descended to overtake it. In doing this we crossed several
spurs, and found tolerably wide and grassy flats between them. Following
one of these down we soon got on the open plains, and about half-past
seven met Mr. Poole, who had left the party to go to a fire he had
noticed to the eastward, which he thought was a signal from us that we
had found water; but such had not been our good fortune.

I now halted the party until the moon should rise, and we threw ourselves
on the ground to take a temporary repose, the evening being cool and
agreeable. At 11 we again moved on, keeping a north course, under Mr.
Poole's guidance, partly over stony plains, and partly over plains of
better quality, having some little grass upon them, until 8 a.m. of the
morning of the 29th, when we stopped for an hour. As day dawned, Mr.
Poole had caught sight of the hill, as he thought, to the base of which
he wished to lead the party, and under this impression we continued our
northerly course at 9, until by degrees we entered a low brush, and from
it got into a pine forest and amongst ridges of sand. Mr. Poole had
crossed a similar country; but the sandy ridges had soon ceased, and in
the hope that such would now be the case he pushed forward until it was
too late to retreat, for the exertion had already been very great to the
animals in so heated and inhospitable a desert. In vain did the men urge
their bullocks over successive ridges of deep loose sand, the moment they
had topped one there was another before them to ascend. Seeing that they
were suffering from the heat, I desired the men to halt, and sending Mr.
Poole and Mr. Stuart forward with the spare horses and sheep to relieve
them as soon as possible, I remained with the drays, keeping Mr. Browne
with me. We had not travelled more than half a mile, on resuming our
journey, when we arrived at a dry salt lagoon, at which the sheep had
stopped. I here determined on leaving two of the drays, in the hope that
by putting an additional team into each of the others we should get on,
although before this we had discovered that Mr. Poole had mistaken his
object, and had inadvertently led us into the thickest of the pinery. The
drivers, however, advanced but slowly with the additional strength I had
given them, and it was clear they would never get out of their
difficulties, unless some other plan were adopted. I therefore again
stopped the teams, and sent Mr. Browne to the eastward to ascertain how
far the ridges extended in that direction, since Mr. Poole's track
appeared to be leading deeper into them. On his return he informed me
that the ridges ceased at about a mile and a quarter; in consequence of
which I turned to the north-east, but the bullocks were now completely
worn out and refused to pull. To save them, therefore, it became
necessary to unyoke and to drive them to water, and as Mr. Browne felt
satisfied he could lead the way to the creek, I adopted that plan, and
telling the men with the sheep to follow on our tracks, we left the
drays, at 6 p.m., taking two of the men only with us, and clearing the
sand ridges at dusk, entered upon and traversed open plains. We then
stopped to rest the cattle until the moon should rise, and laid down
close to them; but although we kept watch, they had well nigh escaped us
in search for water. At half-past ten we again moved on, and at midnight
reached a low brush, in which one of the bullocks fell, and I was obliged
to leave him. About two hours afterwards another fell, but these were the
total of our casualties. We reached the creek at 3 in the morning of the
30th, and rode to a fire on its banks, where we found Davenport and
Joseph with the cart; they had separated from Mr. Poole, who was then
encamped about a quarter of a mile to the westward of them, although
Davenport did not know where he was, nor had he found water. Our
situation would have been exceedingly perplexing, if Mr. Browne, who had
led me with great precision to this point, had not assured me that he
recognised the ground, and that as soon as day dawned he would take me to
the water. Just at this moment we saw another fire to the eastward, to
which I sent Morgan on horseback, who returned with Mr. Poole, when we
were enabled to give the poor animals the relief they so much required.

Having thus secured the horses and bullocks, I turned my attention to the
men in the forest, with regard to whom I had no occasion to feel any
alarm, as I had left ten gallons of water for their use, and strictly
cautioned them not to be improvident with it. However, as soon as he had
had a little rest, I sent Morgan with a spare horse for their empty casks
to replenish them. At 2 o'clock I sent Flood with four gallons of water
to the nearest bullock that had fallen. About 11 Brock came up with the
sheep all safe and well. Flood returned at 7, with information that the
bullock was dead, but night closed in without our seeing anything of
Morgan, and having nothing to eat we looked out rather anxiously for him.
The water on which we rested was at some little distance from the creek,
in a long narrow lagoon, but we had scarcely any shade from the intense
heat of the sun, the water being muddy, thick, and full of frogs and
crabs. I have observed upon the extreme and increasing heat that
prevailed at this time. Notwithstanding this, however, the night was so
bitterly cold that we were glad to put on anything to keep us warm. Our
situation may in some measure account for this extreme variation of
temperature, as we were in the bed of the creek which might yet have been
damp, as its surface had only just dried up; perhaps also from exposure
to such heat during the day we were more susceptible of the least change.
Be that as it may, certain it is that as morning dawned on this occasion,
when the thermometer stood at 67 degrees, we crept nearer to our fires
for warmth, and in less than six hours afterwards were in a temperature
of 104 degrees.

As we passed through the acacia scrub, we observed that the natives had
lately been engaged collecting the seed. The boughs of the trees were all
broken down, and there were numerous places where they had thrashed out
the seed, and heaped up the pods. These poor people must indeed be driven
to extremity if forced to subsist on such food, as its taste is so
disagreeable that one would hardly think their palates could ever be
reconciled to it. Natives had evidently been in our neighbourhood very
lately, but we saw none.

At this time I was exceedingly anxious both about Mr. Poole and Mr.
Browne, who were neither of them well. The former particularly complained
of great pain, and I regretted to observe that he was by no means strong.

About 10 o'clock on the morning of the last day of the year 1844, I was
with Tampawang at the head of the lagoon, trying to capture one of the
building rats, a nest of which we had found under a polygonum bush. We
had fired the fabric, and were waiting for the rats to bolt, when we saw
Morgan riding up to us. He stopped when he got to the water, and throwing
himself on the ground drank long at it. Seeing that he came without
anything for which he had been sent, I began to apprehend some
misfortune; but on questioning him I learnt that he had been at the
drays, and was on his return, when, stopping on the plains to let his
horses feed, he fell fast asleep, during which time they strayed, and he
was obliged to leave everything and walk until he overtook his horse near
the creek. He said the men had consumed all the water I had left with
them, and were in great alarm lest they should die of thirst; I was
exceedingly provoked at Morgan's neglect, more particularly as the
comfort of the other men was involved in the delay, although they
deserved to suffer for the prodigal waste of their previous supply. But
it is impossible to trust to men in their sphere of life under such
circumstances, as they are seldom gifted with that moral courage which
ensures calmness in critical situations. I made every allowance too for
their being in so hot a place, and it only remained for me to relieve
them as soon as I could. I sent the ever ready Flood for the casks and
provisions Morgan had left behind him, but it was necessarily late before
he returned; I then directed him to get up two teams of the strongest
bullocks, and with him and another of the men left Mr. Poole and Mr.
Browne to go myself to the pine forest for two of the drays. About seven
miles from the creek we met Lewis, who was on our tracks. He said he
apprehended that Morgan had lost himself, and that he came on to ensure
relief to the other men, who he said were suffering greatly from the want
of water. At 9 p.m. we rounded up the cattle until the moon should rise,
and made fires to prevent their escape. At 11 she rose, but it was behind
clouds, so that it was 12 before we could move on. About two miles from
the drays we saw Kirby wandering away from the track and called to him.
This man would infallibly have been lost if we had not thus accidentally
seen him. On reaching the party I found that Lewis had somewhat
exaggerated the state of affairs, still the men were bad enough, although
they had not then been 36 hours without water.

Notwithstanding that the moon had risen behind clouds, the first sun of
the new year (1845) rose upon us in all his brightness, and the
temperature increased as he advanced to the meridian. As Jones was with
the hindmost drays, I sent Sullivan on my horse with some water for him,
and ordered Flood to precede me with two of the drays along a flat I had
noticed as I rode along, by which they would avoid a good many of the
ridges. Sullivan returned with Jones about half-past ten, who, he told
me, so far from wanting water had given all I had sent him to the dogs.
As there were twelve bullocks to each dray I was obliged to give the
drivers assistance, and consequently had to leave Jones by himself in the
forest. I allowed him however to keep two of the dogs, and gave him four
gallons of water, promising to send for him in two days. I then mounted
my horse to overtake the teams, which by the time I came up with them had
got on better than I expected. But the heat was then so intense that I
feared the bullocks would drop. I therefore ordered the men to come
slowly and steadily on, and as I foresaw that they would want more water
ere long, I rode ahead to send them some. On my arrival at the creek I
was sorry to find both Mr. Poole and Mr. Browne complaining, and very
much indisposed. During the short time we had been at this spot, the
water in the lagoon had rapidly diminished, and was now not more than a
foot deep and very muddy. Fearing that the quality of the water was
disagreeing with my officers, I ordered a well to be dug in the bed of
the creek, from which we soon got a small quantity both clearer and
better. Having despatched Joseph with a fresh supply for the party with
the drays, I sat down to break my own fast which I had not done for many
hours. In speaking to Mr. Browne of the intense heat to which we had been
exposed in the pine forest, he informed me that the day had not been very
hot with them, the thermometer not having risen above 94 degrees at 2 p.m.

The drays reached the creek at 3 a.m. on the morning of the 2nd, both men
and cattle fairly worn out. I had hoped they would have arrived earlier,
but the men assured me that shortly after I left them the heat was so
great they could hardly move onwards. The ground became so heated that
the bullocks pawed it to get to a cool bottom, every time they stopped to
rest. The upper leathers of Mack's shoes were burnt as if by fire, and
Lewis's back was sadly blistered. The dogs lost the skin off the soles of
their feet, and poor Fingall, one of our best, perished on the road.

Amidst all the sufferings of the other animals the sheep thrived
exceedingly well under Tampawang's charge who was a capital shepherd.
Their fleeces were as white as snow, and some of them were exceedingly
fat. On the 3rd I sent Mr. Stuart to the Magnetic hill, Mount Arrowsmith,
to verify Mr. Poole's bearings, in consequence of the great deviation of
the compass from its true point, and also to sketch in that isolated
group of hills; but as he found the same irregularity in his compass, I
did not trust to the bearings either he or Mr. Poole had taken. The rock
of which that hill was composed is a compact sandstone, with blocks of
specular iron ore scattered over it, highly magnetic.

In the hope that a ride would do both my officers good, I sent them on
the 4th to trace the creek up, and to fix on our next halting place. I
also despatched Flood to the pine forest for the remaining drays, sending
an empty one to lighten the other loads; a precaution that proved of
great advantage, as the bullocks got on much easier than on the former
occasion, but the day also was much cooler.

Mr. Poole and Mr. Browne returned at 11 on the 5th, but I was sorry to
observe that Mr. Browne looked very unwell, and Mr. Poole continued to
complain. They had however succeeded in their mission, and as I was very
anxious to get them to better water, our lagoon being all but dry, I
determined on moving northward on the 7th.

Flood re-crossed the creek on the morning of the 6th, when the bullocks
completed a task of about 170 miles in eight days.

As I had determined on moving on the 7th, it became necessary to examine
the drays, and I was vexed to find that they wanted as much repair as
they had done at Flood's Creek. The men were occupied wedging them up,
and greasing them on the 6th, and finished all but that of Lewis, the
repair of which threw it late in the day on the 7th, before we proceeded
on our journey. Independently, however, of my anxiety on account of my
officers, several of the men were indisposed, and I was glad to break up
our camp and fix it in a healthier spot than this appeared to be.

We started at 5 p.m., but as we had only about eight miles to go, it was
not a matter of much consequence. We arrived at our destination at
10 p.m., but had some difficulty in finding the water, nor do I think we
should have done so if we had not been guided to it by the hoarse and
discordant notes of a bull-frog.

I had sent Mr. Stuart in the morning to some hills on our left, and Mr.
Browne had ridden in the same direction to collect some seeds of a purple
Hibiscus, and neither had joined the party when it reached the creek, as
soon therefore as the cattle were unyoked, I fired a shot which they
fortunately heard. Our collection of natural history still continued
scanty. A very pretty tree, a new species of Grevillia, out of flower,
however, and which I only concluded to be a Grevillia from its habit, and
the appearance of its bark, had taken the place of the gum-trees on the
creeks, and the jasmine was everywhere common, but, with the exception of
a few solani and some papilionaceous plants, we had seen nothing either
new or rare.

Of birds the most numerous were the new pigeon and the black-shouldered
hawk; but there was a shrike that frequented the creeks which I should
have noticed before. This bird was about the size of a thrush, but had
the large head and straight-hooked bill of its species; in colour it was
a dirty brownish black, with a white bar across the wings. Whilst we were
staying at Flood's Creek, one of these birds frequented the camp every
morning, intimating his presence by a shrill whistle, and would remain
for an hour trying to catch the tunes the men whistled to him. His notes
were clear, loud, metallic and yet soft; their variety was astonishing,
and his powers of imitation wonderful; there was not a bird of the forest
that he did not imitate so exactly as to deceive. I would on no account
allow this songster to be disturbed, and the consequence was that his
rich note was the first thing heard at dawn of day, during the greater
part of our residence in that neighbourhood.

We passed several native huts shortly after leaving the creek that were
differently constructed from any we had seen. They were all arched
elliptically by bending the bough of a tree at a certain height from the
ground, and resting the other end on a forked stick at the opposite side
of the arch. A thick layer of boughs was then put over the roof and back,
on which there was also a thick coating of red clay, so that the hut was
impervious to wind or heat. These huts were of considerable size, and
close to each there was a smaller one equally well made as the larger.
Both were left in perfect repair, and had apparently been swept prior to
the departure of their inmates.

On the 8th we started at 5 a.m., and reached our destination (a place to
which Mr. Poole had already been) at 11. We crossed barren stony plains,
having some undulating ground to our left, and the magnetic hill as well
as another to the south of it shewed as thunder clouds above the horizon.
On our arrival at the creek we found about 30 fires of natives still
burning, whom we must have frightened away. We did not see any of them,
nor did I attempt to follow on their tracks which led up the creek.

As I have already stated the fall of Flood's Creek was to the west. The
creek from which we had just removed, as well as the one on which we then
were, fell in the opposite direction or to the eastward, terminating
after short courses either in grassy plains or in shallow lagoons.

On the 9th I remained stationary, and thus gave Mr. Piesse an opportunity
to examine a part of our stores. He reported to me that the flour had
lost weight nearly 10 per cent., some of the bags not weighing their
original quantity by upwards of sixteen pounds. As the men had their full
allowance of meat, I thought it advisable, in consequence of this, to
reduce the ration of flour to 7 lb. per week, and I should be doing an
injustice to them if I did not give them credit for the readiness with
which they acquiesced in this arrangement.

The 10th of the month completed the fifth of our wanderings. We left our
position rather late in the day, and halted a little after sunset at the
outskirt of a brush, into which I was afraid to enter by that uncertain
light, and as the animals had been watered at a small creek we crossed
not long before, I had no apprehension as to their suffering. We started
at 4 a.m. on the morning of the 11th, and soon passed the scrub; we then
traversed open plains thickly covered in many places with quartz, having
crossed barren sandy plains on the other side of the scrub. We now found
the country very open, and entirely denuded of timber, excepting on the
creeks, the courses of which were consequently most distinctly marked.
Keeping a little to the eastward to avoid the gullies connected with some
barren stony hills to our left, we descended to the ground Mr. Poole had
fixed upon as our next temporary resting place. To the eye of an
inexperienced bushman its appearance was in every respect inviting; there
was a good deal of grass in its neighbourhood; the spot looked cheerful
and picturesque, with a broad sheet of water in the creek, which when Mr.
Poole first saw it must have been much larger and deeper; but in the
interval between his first and second visit, it had been greatly reduced,
and now presented a broad and shallow surface, and I felt assured that it
would too soon dry up. Convinced therefore of the necessity of exertion,
to secure to us if possible a supply of water, on which we could more
confidently rely, I determined on undertaking myself the task of looking
for it without delay. Both Mr. Poole and Mr. Browne were better, and the
men generally complained less than they had done. On Sunday, the 12th, we
had thunder with oppressive heat, but no rain. On Monday the wind, which
had kept with the regularity of a monsoon to the E.S.E., flew round to
the N.W., the thermometer at noon standing at 108 degrees in the shade.

From the period at which we left Flood's Creek we had not seen any hills
to the eastward, the ranges having terminated on that side. The hills we
had passed were detached from each other, and to the westward of our
course. The fall of the creek on which we were at this time encamped was
consequently to the eastward, but there was a small hill about five miles
to the E.N.E., under which it ran; that hill was the southern extremity
of the ranges Mr. Poole and Mr. Browne had lately visited.

I left the camp on the 14th of the month, in the anxious hope that I
should succeed in finding some place of more permanent safety than the
one we then occupied, for we could almost see the water decrease, so
powerful was the evaporation that was going on. I was accompanied by Mr.
Browne and Mr. Poole, with Flood, Joseph, and Mack; but Mr. Poole only
attended me with a view to his returning the next day with Mack, in the
event of our finding water, to which he might be able to remove during my
absence. We traced the creek upwards to the north-west, and at about four
miles came to another, joining it from the westward. There was no water,
but a good deal of grass about its banks, and it was evidently a
tributary of no mean consequence. Crossing this we traced up the main
creek on a more northerly course, having the Red Hill, subsequently
called Mount Poole, on our left. We were obliged to keep the banks of the
creek to avoid the rough and stony plains on either side. A little above
the junction of the creek I have noticed, we passed a long water-hole, at
which Mr. Poole and Mr. Browne had stopped on their excursion to the
north; but it was so much diminished that they could hardly recognise it.
The fact however shewed how uncertain our prospects were at this period.
The bed of the creek was grassy, but broad, level, and gravelly. At
almost every turn to which we came Mr. Poole assured me there had been,
when he passed, a large sheet of water; but not a drop now remained, nor
could we by scratching find the least appearance of moisture. Yet it was
evident that this creek was at times highly flooded, there being a great
accumulation of rubbish at the butts of the trees on the flats over which
its waters must sweep, and the trunks of trees were lodged at a
considerable height in the branches of those growing in its bed.
Following its general course for 14 miles, we were led somewhat to the
eastward of north, towards some hills in that direction, from which the
creek appeared to issue, and then halted for the night, after a vain
search for water. The Red Hill bore S. 47 degrees W., and some hills of
less elevation were seen more to the westward of it, but beyond the last
towards the north there were vast open and stony plains, destitute of
timber and with very little vegetation upon them. On the morning of the
15th, at 5 p.m., we traversed these plains on a north course, and at 11
miles struck the creek of which Mr. Poole had spoken as containing muddy
water, and found it precisely as he described. There were long
water-holes about twenty-five feet broad, and three or four deep; but the
water was exceedingly muddy. The banks were of a stiff, light-coloured
clay, without any vegetation either on them or the contiguous flats,
except a few bushes of polygonum growing under box-trees.

We here stopped to breakfast, although there was but little for the
horses to eat. We then proceeded on a north-east {SOUTH-EAST in published
text} course down the creek, keeping close upon its banks to avoid the
macadamized plains on either side. To our left there were some undulating
hills, and beyond them the summits of some remarkable flat-topped hills
were visible. After leaving the place where we had breakfasted, we did not
find any more water in the bed of the creek, but halted late in the
afternoon at a small lagoon, not far from it. This lagoon was surrounded
by trees; but like those of the creek its waters were muddy and not more
than 18 inches deep. Our latitude at this point was 29 degrees
14 minutes S., and our longitude 141 degrees 42 minutes E.; the variation
being 5 degrees 5 minutes E.

Not wishing to keep Mr. Poole any longer away from the party, I sent him
back to the camp on the 16th, with Mack, directing him to examine the
creek we had crossed on his way homewards; as it appeared to me to break
through some hills about three miles from its junction with the main
creek, and I thought it probable he might there find water. I also
directed him during my absence to trace the creek on which the camp was
established downwards, to ascertain if there was water in it below us.

In the mean time Mr. Browne and I pushed on for the ranges, which
presented a very singular appearance as we surveyed them from the lagoon.

The geological formation of these hills was perfectly new, for they were
now composed almost exclusively of indurated or compact quartz. The hills
themselves no longer presented the character of ranges, properly so
called, but were a group of flat-topped hills, similar to those figured
by Flinders, King, and other navigators. Some were altogether detached
from the main group, not more than two-thirds of a mile in length, with
less than a third of that breadth, and an elevation of between three and
four hundred feet. These detached hills were perfectly level at the top,
and their sides declined at an angle of 54 degrees. The main group as we
now saw it appeared to consist of a number of projecting points,
connected by semicircular sweeps of greater or less depth. There was no
vegetation on the sides either of the detached hills or of the projecting
points, but they consisted of a compact white quartz, that had been split
by solar heat into innumerable fragments in the form of parallelograms.
Vast heaps of these laid at the base of the hills, and resembled the
ruins of a town, the edifices of which had been shaken to pieces by an
earthquake, and on a closer examination it appeared to me that a portion
of the rock thus scaled off periodically. We approached these hills by a
gradual ascent, over ground exceedingly stony in places; but as we neared
them it became less so, the soil being a decomposition of the geological
structure of the hills. It was covered with a long kind of grass in
tufts, but growing closer together than usual. There were bare patches of
fine blistered soil, that had as it were been raised into small hillocks,
and on these, rounded particles, or stools, if I may so call them, of
gypsum rested, oval or round, but varying in diameter from three to ten
inches or more. These stools were perfectly flat and transparent, the
upper surface smooth, but in the centre of the under surface a pointed
projection, like that in a bull's eye in window glass was buried in the
ground, as if the gypsum was in process of formation.

On leaving the lagoon, we crossed the creek, riding on a north-east
course over stony plains, and at five miles struck another creek in which
we found a good supply of water, coming direct from the hills, and
continuing to the S.S.E., became tributary to the one we had just left. I
had taken bearings of two of the most prominent points on the ranges from
the lagoon, and directing Flood to go to one of them with Joseph, and
wait for me at the base, I rode away with Mr. Browne to ascend the other;
but finding it was much farther than we had imagined, that it would take
us out of our way, and oblige us to return, we checked our horses and
made for the other hill, at the foot of which Flood had already arrived.
The ascent was steep and difficult, nor did the view from its summit
reward our toil. If there was anything interesting about it, it was the
remarkable geological formation of the ranges. The reader will understand
their character and structure from the accompanying cut, better than from
any description I can give. They were, in fact, wholly different in
formation from hills in general. To the westward there was a low,
depressed tract, with an unbroken horizon and a gloomy scrub. Southwards
the country was exceedingly broken, hilly, and confused; but there was a
line of hills bounding this rugged region to the eastward, and
immediately beyond that range were the plains I had crossed in going to
Mount Lyell. From the point on which we stood there were numerous other
projecting points, similar to those of the headlands in the channel,
falling outwards at an angle of 55 degrees, as if they had crumbled down
from perpendicular precipices. The faces of these points were of a dirty
white, without any vegetation growing on them; they fell back in
semicircular sweeps, and the ground behind sloped abruptly down to the
plains. The ranges were all flat-topped and devoid of timber, but the
vegetation resembled that of the country at their base, and the fragments
of rock scattered over them were similar: that is to say, milky quartz,
wood opal, granite, and other rocks (none of which occurred in the
stratification of these ranges), were to be found on their summits as on
the plains, and in equal proportion, as if the whole country had once
been perfectly level, and that the hills had been forced up. Such indeed
was the impression upon Mr. Poole's mind, when he returned to me from
having visited these ranges. "They appear," he remarked, "to have been
raised from the plains, so similar in every respect are their tops to the
district below." Our eyes wandered over an immense expanse of country to
the south, and we were enabled to take bearings of many of the hills near
the camp, although there was some uncertainty in our recognition of them
at the distance of 40 miles. The Red Hill, however, close to the camp
bore south, and was full that distance from us. We could also see the
course of the creeks we had been tracing, ultimately breaking through the
range to the eastward and passing into the plains beyond. Behind us to
the north there were many projecting points appearing above the level of
the range. These seemed to be the northern termination of these hills,
and beyond them the country was very low. The outline of the projecting
points was hilly, and they were so exactly alike that it would have been
impossible to have recognised any to which we might have taken bearings;
but there were two little cones in a small range to the north upon which
I felt I could rely with greater certainty. They respectively bore 302
and 306 from me; and as they were the only advanced points on which I
could now keep up bearings, although in the midst of hills, I determined
as soon as I should have examined the neighbourhood a little more, to
proceed to them. From our first position we went to the next, a hill of
about 450 feet in height, perfectly flat-topped, and detached from the
main group.

In crossing over to this point the ground was stony, but there was a good
deal of grass growing in tufts upon it, and bare patches of blistered
earth on which flat stools of gypsum were apparently in process of
formation. Immediately to the left there were five remarkable conical
hills. These we successively passed, and then entered a narrow, short
valley, between the last of these cones and the hill we were about to
ascend. The ground was covered with fragments of indurated quartz (of
which the whole group was composed), in parallelograms of different
dimensions. The scene was like that of a city whose structures had been
shaken to pieces by an earthquake--one of ruin and desolation. The faces
of the hills, both here and in other parts of the group, were cracked by
solar heat, and thus the rock was scaling off. We were here obliged to
dismount and walk. The day being insufferably hot, it was no pleasant
task to climb under such exposure to an elevation of nearly 500 feet. We
had frequently to take breath during our ascent, and reached the summit
of the hill somewhat exhausted. The view was precisely similar to that we
had overlooked from the opposite point, which bore W. by N. from us.
Again the two little peaks were visible to the N.N.W., and after taking
bearings of several distant points, we descended, as I had determined on
returning for the night to the creek we had passed in the morning, and
tracing it into the hills on my way to the westward. Accordingly, on the
following morning we commenced our journey up it at an early hour, not
knowing where we should next find the water. At about six miles we had
entered a valley, with high land on either side, and at a mile beyond
reached the head of the creek, and had the steep brow of a hill to
ascend, which I thought it most prudent first to attempt on foot. Mr.
Browne and I, therefore, climbed it, and on looking back to the
north-east, saw there was a declining plain in that direction. Over the
level outline the tops of the projections of this range were to be seen
all exactly alike; but there was an open space to the north-east, as if
the fall of waters was to that point. There were also some low scattered
trees upon the plain, seeming to mark the course of a creek. Anxious to
ascertain if we had been so fortunate, I looked for a practicable line
for the horses to ascend, and having got them up the hill, we pushed
forward. On arriving at the first trees, there was a little channel, or
rather gutter, and a greener verdure marked its course along the plain to
the next trees. Gradually it became larger, and at last was fully
developed as a creek. After tracing it down for some miles, having stony
barren plains on both sides, we turned to look for the hill we had so
lately left, and only for a red tint it had peculiar to itself, should we
again have recognised it. We now pushed on in eager anticipation that
sooner or later water would appear, and this hope was at last gratified
by our arrival at a fine pool, into which we drove a brood of very young
ducks, and might, if we had pleased, shot the mother; but although a
roast duck would have been very acceptable, we spared her for her
children's sake. This was a nice pond, but small. It was shaded by
gum-trees, and there was a cavernous clay bank on the west side of it, in
which gravel stones were embedded. Here we staid but for a short time, as
it was early in the day. We had flushed numerous pigeons as we rode
along, and flights came to the water while we stopped, but were not
treated with the same forbearance as the duck. We shot two or three, and
capital eating they were. About 3, we had left the creek, as it
apparently turned to the eastward, and was lost on the plain, and
crossing some stony ground, passed between two little ranges. We then
found ourselves on the brow of a deep valley that separated us from the
little cones we purposed ascending. The side of it which trended to the
north-west was very abrupt and stony, and it was with some difficulty we
descended into it; but that done, we left Morgan and Flood with the cart,
and ascended the nearer peak.

From the summit of the highest of the cones we had a clear view round
more than one half of the horizon. Immediately at the base of the ranges
northwards, there was a long strip of plain, and beyond it a dark and
gloomy scrub, that swept round from S.W. to E., keeping equi-distant from
the hills, excepting at the latter point where it closed in upon them. On
the N.W. horizon there was a small low undulating range, apparently
unconnected with any other, and distant about 40 miles. No change had
taken place in the geological formations of the main range. The same
abrupt points, and detached flat-topped hills, characterised their
northern as well as the southern extremity. We had now however reached
their termination northwards, but they continued in an easterly direction
until they were totally lost in the dark mass of scrub that covered and
surrounded them, not one being of sufficient height to break the line of
the horizon. To the S.W. a column of smoke was rising in the midst of the
scrub, otherwise that desolate region appeared to be uninhabited. On
descending from the peak, we turned to the N.W. along the line of a
water-course at the bottom of the valley, tracing it for about four miles
with every hope of finding the element we were in search of in its green
bed, but we gained the point where the valley opened out upon the plains,
and halted under disappointment, yet with good grass for the horses. Our
little bivouac was in lat. 29 degrees 2 minutes 14 seconds S. The above
outline will enable the reader to judge of the character of the hills,
that still existed to the eastward of us, and the probability of their
continuance or cessation. I must confess that they looked to me as if
they had been so many small islands, off the point of a larger one. They
rose in detached groups from the midst of the plains, as such islands
from the midst of the sea, and their aspect altogether bore such a
striking resemblance to many of the flat-topped islands round the
Australian continent described by other travellers, that I could not but
think they had once been similarly situated.

On the 18th I passed into the plains until we had cleared the hills, when
we rode along their base on a course somewhat to the east of north. We
kept about half a mile from the foot of the ranges, with the brush about
three miles to our left, and a clear space between us and them. I had
been induced to take this direction in the hope that if there were any
creeks falling from the hills into the plains we should intersect them,
and accordingly after a ride of about seven miles we observed some
gum-trees, about two miles ahead. On a nearer approach we saw flights of
pigeons, cockatoos, and parrots winging round about them, and making the
air resound with their shrill notes. The anticipations these indications
of our approach to water raised, were soon verified by our arrival on the
banks of a small creek coming from the hills. Under the trees there were
two little puddles, rather than pools of water. The one had been reduced
to its last dregs, and smelt offensively, the other was very muddy but
drinkable, and such as it was we were most grateful for it. The horses
requiring rest here, I halted for the night, more especially as the day
was unusually hot, and as we could see the creek line of trees extending
to the N.W., towards the low range we had noticed in that direction from
the little peak, I determined therefore to run it down in the morning,
and to make for them, in the hope that something new would develop
itself.

On the other side of the creek from that on which we remained, there was
a new but unfinished hut. Round about it were the fresh impressions of
feet of all sizes, so that it was clear a family of natives must have
been engaged in erecting this simple edifice when we were approaching,
and that we must have frightened them away. Under this idea Mr. Browne
and I tried to find them, perhaps hid in some low brush near us, but we
could not. The plains were exceedingly open on both sides, so that they
must have seen us at a great distance, and thus had time for flight.

On the 19th we started at daylight, as I proposed if possible to gain the
hills before sunset, that being as much as the horses would do. Running
the creek down at three and a half miles we were again attracted by a
number of birds, pigeons, the rose cockatoo, the crested paroquet, and a
variety of others flying round a clump of trees at no great distance from
us, but they were exceedingly wild and watchful. We found a pool under,
or rather shaded by the trees, of tolerable size, and much better than
the water nearer to the hills. Close to it also, on a sloping bank, there
was another more than half finished hut from which the natives could only
just have retreated, for they had left all their worldly goods behind
them; thus it appeared we had scared these poor people a second time from
their work. I was really sorry for the trouble we had unintentionally
given them, and in order to make up for it, I fastened my own knife with
a glittering blade, to the top of a spear that stood upright in front of
the hut; not without hopes that the owner of the weapon seeing we
intended them no harm, would come to us on our return from the hills.

Below this water-hole the creek sensibly diminished. Crossing and
abandoning it we struck away to the N.W. At about half a mile we entered
the scrub, which had indeed commenced from the water, but which at that
distance became thick. We were then in a perfect desert, from the scrub
we got on barren sandy flats, bounded at first by sandy ridges at some
little distance from each other, but the formation soon changed, and the
sand ridges succeeded each other like waves of the sea. We had no sooner
descended one than we were ascending another, and the excessive heat of
so confined a place oppressed us greatly. We had on our journey to the
westward found an abundance of grass on the sand ridges as well as the
flats; but in this desert there was not a blade to be seen. The ridges
were covered with spinifex, through which we found it difficult to force
a way, and the flats with salsolaceous productions alone. There were no
pine trees, but the brush consisted of several kinds of acacia,
casuarina, cassia, and hakeae, and these were more bushes than shrubs,
for they seldom exceeded our own height, and had leaves only at the
termination of their upper branches, all the under leaves having dropped
off, withered by the intensity of the reflected surface heat. At one we
stopped to rest the horses, but mounted again at half-past one, and
reached the hills at 5 p.m. The same dreary desert extended to their
base, only that as we approached the hills the flats were broader, and
the fall of waters apparently to the east. The surface of the flats was
furrowed by water, and there were large bare patches of red soil, but
with the exception of a flossy grass that grew sparingly on some of them,
nothing but rhagodia and atriplex flourished.

I had tried the temperature of boiling water at the spot where we stopped
in the Rocky Glen, and found it to be 211 degrees and a small fraction;
and as we descended a little after leaving the creek, we could not have
been much above the sea level at one period of the day, although now more
than 450 miles from the coast. Our ascent to the top of the little range
was very gradual; its sides destitute alike of trees and vegetation,
being profusely covered with fragments of indurated quartz, thinly coated
with oxide of iron: when on the summit we could not have risen more than
120 feet. It extended for some miles to the N.E., apparently parallel to
the ranges from which we had come, whose higher points were visible from
it, but to the north and west the horizon was as level as that of the
ocean. A dark gloomy sea of scrub without a break in its monotonous
surface met our gaze, nor was there a new object of any kind to be seen
indicative of a probable change of country. Had other hills appeared to
the north I should have made for them, but to have descended into such a
district as that below me, seemed to be too hazardous an experiment at
this stage of our journey. I determined therefore to return to the main
range, and examine it to the north-east. I could not but think, however,
from the appearance of the country as far as we had gone, that we could
not be very far from the outskirts of an inland sea, it so precisely
resembled a low and barren sea coast. This idea I may say haunted me, and
was the cause of my making a second journey to the same locality; but on
the present occasion, as the sun had set, I retraced my steps to a small
flat where we had noticed a little grass, and tethering our horses out
laid down to rest.

The desert ridden through the day before, seemed doubly desolate as we
returned. The heat was intolerable, in consequence of a hot wind that
blew upon us like a sirocco from the N.W., and the air so rarified that
we could hardly breathe, and were greatly distressed. To our infinite
relief we got back to the creek at half-past two, after a ride of about
37 miles.

The first thing we did on arriving, was to visit the hut of the natives
to see if they had been there during our absence, but as my knife still
dangled on the spear, we were led to conclude they had not. On examining
the edifice, however, we missed several things that had been left
untouched by us, and from the fresh footsteps of natives over our own of
the day before, it was clear they had been back. The knife which was
intended as a peace-offering, seems to have scared them away in almost as
much haste as if we had been at their heels. There can be no doubt but
that they took it for an evil spirit, at which they were, perhaps, more
alarmed than at our uncouth appearance. Be that as it may, we departed
from the creek without seeing anything of these poor people.

At a little distance from the creek to the N.W., upon a rising piece of
ground, and certainly above the reach of floods, there were seven or
eight huts, very different in shape and substance from any we had seen.
They were made of strong boughs fixed in a circle in the ground, so as to
meet in a common centre; on these there was, as in some other huts I have
had occasion to describe, a thick seam of grass and leaves, and over this
again a compact coating of clay. They were from eight to ten feet in
diameter, and about four and a half feet high, the opening into them not
being larger than to allow a man to creep in. These huts also faced the
north-west, and each had a smaller one attached to it as shewn in the
sketch. Like those before seen they had been left in the neatest order by
their occupants, and were evidently used during the rainy season, as they
were at some little distance from the creek, and near one of those bare
patches in which water must lodge at such times. At whatever season of
the year the natives occupy these huts they must be a great comfort to
them, for in winter they must be particularly warm, and in summer cooler
than the outer air; but the greatest benefit they can confer on these
poor people must be that of keeping them from ants, flies, and mosquitos:
it is impossible to describe to the reader the annoyance we experienced
from the flies during the day, and the ants at night. The latter in truth
swarmed in myriads, worked under our covering, and creeping all over us,
prevented our sleeping. The flies on the other hand began their attacks
at early dawn, and whether we were in dense brush, on the open plain, or
the herbless mountain top, they were equally numerous and equally
troublesome. On the present occasion Mr. Browne and I regretted we had
not taken possession of the deserted huts, as, if we had, we should have
got rid of our tormentors, for there were not any to be seen near them.
From the fact of these huts facing the north-west I conclude that their
more inclement weather is from the opposite point of the compass. It was
also evident from the circumstance of their being unoccupied at that time
(January), that they were winter habitations, at which season the
natives, no doubt, suffer greatly from cold and damp, the country being
there much under water, at least from appearances. I had remarked that as
we proceeded northwards the huts were more compactly built, and the
opening or entrance into them smaller, as if the inhabitants of the more
northern interior felt the winter's cold in proportion to the summer
heat.

Our position at this point was in latitude 29 degrees 43 minutes S., and
in longitude 141 degrees 14 minutes E., the variation being 5 degrees 21
minutes East. I had intended pushing on immediately to the ranges, and
examining the country to the north-east; but I thought it prudent ere I
did this to ascertain the farther course of this creek, as it appeared
from observations we had just made that the fall of waters was to the
eastward. We accordingly started at daylight on the 20th, but after
tracing it for a few miles, found that it turned sharp round to the
westward and spread over a flat, beyond which its channel was nowhere to
be found. I therefore turned towards the ranges, and arriving at the
upper water-hole at half-past two, determined to stop until the
temperature should cool down in the afternoon before I proceeded along
the line of hills to the N.E., for the day had been terrifically hot, and
both ourselves and our horses were overpowered with extreme lassitude. At
a quarter past 3, p.m. on the 21st of January, the thermometer had risen
to 131 degrees in the shade, and to 154 degrees in the direct rays of the
sun. In the evening however we pushed on for about ten miles, and halted
on a plain about a mile from the base of the hills, without water.

On the 22nd we continued our journey to the north-east, through a country
that was anything but promising. Although we were traversing plains, our
view was limited by acacias and other trees growing upon them.
Notwithstanding that we kept close in to the ranges, the water-courses we
crossed could hardly be recognised as such, as they scarcely reached to a
greater distance than a mile and a half on the plains, before they spread
out and terminated. As we advanced the brush became thicker, nor was
there anything to cheer us onwards. In the afternoon therefore I turned
towards the hills, and ascended one of them, to ascertain if there was
any new object in sight, but here again disappointment awaited us.

The hills were more detached than in other places, and much lower. The
brush swept over them, and we could see it stretching to the horizon on
the distant plains between them. Excepting where the nearer hills rose
above it, that horizon was unbroken; nor were the hills, although
detached groups still existed to the north-east, distinguishable from the
dark plains round them, as the brush extended over all, and the same
sombre hue pervaded everything. I should still, however, have persevered
in exploring that hopeless region; but my mind had for the last day or
two been anxiously drawn to the state of the camp, and the straits to
which I felt assured it would have been put, if Mr. Poole had not
succeeded in finding water in greater quantity than that on which the
people depended when Mr. Browne and I left them. Having been twelve days
absent, I felt convinced that the water in the creek had dried up, and
thought it more than probable that Mr. Poole had been forced to move from
his position. Under such circumstances, I abandoned, for the time, any
further examination of the north-east interior, and turning round to the
south-west, passed up a flat rather than a valley between the hills, and
halted on it at half-past 6 p.m. On the 23rd, we continued on a
south-west course, and gradually ascended the more elevated part of the
range; at 2 p.m. reached the water-hole we discovered the day we crossed
the hills to the little peaks. Our journey back to the camp was only
remarkable for the heat to which we were exposed. We reached it on the
24th of the month, and were really glad to get under shelter of the
tents. All the water in the different creeks we passed in going out, had
sunk many inches, and as I had feared, that at the camp had entirely
vanished, and Mr. Poole having been obliged to dig a hole in the middle
of the creek, was obtaining a precarious supply for the men, the cattle
being driven to a neighbouring pond, which they had all but exhausted.

As the reader will naturally conclude, I was far from satisfied with the
result of this last excursion. It had indeed determined the cessation of
high land to the north and north-east; for although I had not reached the
termination of the ranges in the latter direction, no doubt rested on my
mind but that they gradually fell to a level with the plains. We had
penetrated to lat. 28 degrees 43 minutes S., and to long. 141 degrees 4
minutes 30 seconds; but had found a country worse than that over which we
had already passed--a country, in truth, that under existing
circumstances was perfectly impracticable. Yet from appearances I could
not but think that an inland sea existed not far from the point we had
gained. As I have already observed, the fall of all the creeks from
Flood's Creek had been to the eastward, and from what we could judge at
our extreme north, the dip of the country was also to the eastward. I
thought it more than probable, therefore, that we were still in the
valley of the Darling, and that if we could have persevered in a
northerly course, we should have crossed to the opposite fall of waters,
and to a decided change of country.

We had hitherto made but few additions to our collections. A new hawk and
a few parrots were all the birds we shot; and if I except another new and
beautiful species of Grevillia, we added nothing to our botanical
collections. The geological formation was such as I have already
described--a compact quartz of a dirty white. Of this adamantine rock all
the hills were now composed.

A remarkable feature in the geology of the hills we had recently visited
was, as I have remarked, that they were covered with the same productions
and the same stones as the plains below, of which they seemed to have
formed a part. Milky quartz was scattered over them, although no similar
formation was visible; of manganese, basalt, and ironstone, with other
substances, there were now no indications. None of these fragments had
been rounded by attrition, but still retained their sharp edges and
seemed to be little changed by time.

Mr. Poole informed me, that the day he returned to the party he proceeded
towards the little range I had directed him to examine; in which, I
should observe, both he and Mr. Browne thought there might be water, as
they had passed to the westward of it, on their last journey towards the
hills, and had then noticed it. Mr. Poole stated, that on approaching the
range he arrived at a line of gumtrees, under which there was a long deep
sheet of water; that crossing at the head of this, he entered a rocky
glen, where there were successive pools in stony basins, in which he
considered there was an inexhaustible supply of water for us; but that
although the water near the camp had dried up, he had been unwilling to
move until my return. The reader may well imagine the satisfaction this
news gave me; for had my officer not been so fortunate, our retreat upon
the Darling would have been inevitable, whatever difficulties might have
attended such a movement--for we were in some measure cut off from it, or
should only have made the retreat at an irreparable sacrifice of animals.
Mr. Poole had also been down the creek whereon the camp was posted, and
had found that it overflowed a large plain, but failing to recover the
channel, he supposed it had there terminated. He met a large tribe of
natives, amounting in all to forty or more, who appeared to be changing
their place of abode. They were very quiet and inoffensive, and seemed
rather to avoid than to court any intercourse with the party.

Foulkes, one of the bullock drivers, had had a sharp attack of illness,
but was in some degree recovered. In all other respects everything was
regular, and the stock at hand in the event of their being wanted.

I was exceedingly glad to find that the natives had not shewn any
unfriendly disposition towards Mr. Poole and his men; but I subsequently
learnt from him a circumstance that will in some measure account for
their friendly demonstrations. It would appear that Sullivan and Turpin
when out one day, during my absence, after the cattle, saw a native and
his lubra crossing the plains to the eastward, with some stones for
grinding their grass seed, it being their harvest time. Sullivan went
after them; but they were exceedingly alarmed, and as he approached the
woman set fire to the grass; but on seeing him bound over the flaming
tussocks, they threw themselves on the ground, and as the lad saw their
terror he left them and returned to his companion. No sooner, however,
had these poor creatures escaped one dreaded object than they encountered
another, in the shape of Mack, who was on horseback. As soon as they saw
him they took to their heels; but putting his horse into a canter, he was
up with them before they were aware of it; on this they threw down their
stones, bags, net, and fire-stick, and scrambled up into a tree. The
fire-stick set the grass on fire, and all their valuables would have been
consumed, if Mack had not very properly dismounted and extinguished the
flames, and put the net and bags in a place of safety. He could not,
however, persuade either of the natives to descend, and therefore rode
away. Mack happened to be with Mr. Poole at the time he met the tribe,
and was recognised by the man and woman, who offered both him and Mr.
Poole some of their cakes. Had the behaviour of my men been different,
they would most likely have suffered for it; but I was exceedingly
pleased at their strict compliance with my orders in this respect, and
did not fail to express my satisfaction, and to point out the beneficial
consequences of such conduct.

Mr. Poole having thus communicated with the natives, I was anxious to
profit by it, and if possible to establish a friendly intercourse; the
day after my arrival at the camp, therefore, I went down the creek with
Mack in the hope of seeing them. I took a horse loaded with sugar and
presents, and had every anticipation of success; but we were
disappointed, since the whole tribe had crossed the plains, on the hard
surface of which we lost their tracks. On this ride I found a beautiful
little kidney bean growing as a runner amongst the grass, on small
patches of land subject to flood. It had a yellow blossom, and the seed
was very small and difficult to collect, as it appeared to be immediately
attacked by insects.

The fact of the natives having crossed the plain confirmed my impression
that the creek picked up beyond it, and I determined on the first
favourable opportunity to ascertain that fact. It now, however, only
remained for me to place the camp in a more convenient position. To do
this we moved on the 27th, and whilst Mr. Browne led the party across the
plains, I rode on ahead with Mr. Poole to select the ground on which to
pitch our tents. At the distance of seven miles we arrived at the
entrance of the little rocky glen through which the creek passes, and at
once found ourselves on the brink of a fine pond of water, shaded by
trees and cliffs. The scenery was so different from any we had hitherto
seen, that I was quite delighted, but the ground being sandy was unfit
for us, we therefore turned down the creek towards the long sheet of
water Mr. Poole had mentioned, and waited there until the drays arrived,
when we pitched our tents close to it, little imagining that we were
destined to remain at that lonely spot for six weary months. We were not
then aware that our advance and our retreat were alike cut off.




CHAPTER VI.



THE DEPOT--FURTHER PROGRESS CHECKED--CHARACTER OF THE RANGES--JOURNEY TO
THE NORTH-EAST--RETURN--JOURNEY TO THE WEST--RETURN--AGAIN PROCEED TO THE
NORTH--INTERVIEW WITH NATIVES--ARRIVE AT THE FARTHEST WATER--THE PARTY
SEPARATES--PROGRESS NORTHWARDS--CONTINUE TO ADVANCE--SUFFERINGS OF THE
HORSE--CROSS THE 28TH PARALLEL--REJOIN MR. STUART--JOURNEY TO THE
WESTWARD--CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY--FIND TWO PONDS OF WATER--THE GRASSY
PARK--RETURN TO THE RANG--EXCESSIVE HEAT--A SINGULAR GEOLOGICAL
FEATURE--REGAIN THE DEPOT.


As the reader will have learnt from what I have stated at the conclusion
of the last chapter, we pitched our tents at the place to which I have
led him, and which I shall henceforth call the "Depot," on the 27th of
January, 1845. They were not struck again until the 17th of July
following.

This ruinous detention paralyzed the efforts and enervated the strength
of the expedition, by constitutionally affecting both the men and
animals, and depriving them of the elasticity and energy with which they
commenced their labours. It was not however until after we had run down
every creek in our neighbourhood, and had traversed the country in every
direction, that the truth flashed across my mind, and it became evident
to me, that we were locked up in the desolate and heated region, into
which we had penetrated, as effectually as if we had wintered at the
Pole. It was long indeed ere I could bring myself to believe that so
great a misfortune had overtaken us, but so it was. Providence had, in
its allwise purposes, guided us to the only spot, in that wide-spread
desert, where our wants could have been permanently supplied, but had
there stayed our further progress into a region that almost appears to be
forbidden ground. The immediate effect, however, of our arrival at the
Depot, was to relieve my mind from anxiety as to the safety of the party.
There was now no fear of our encountering difficulties, and perhaps
perishing from the want of that life-sustaining element, without which
our efforts would have been unavailing, for independently of the
beautiful sheet of water, on the banks of which the camp was established,
there was a small lagoon to the S.E. of us, and around it there was a
good deal of feed, besides numerous water-holes in the rocky gully. The
creek was marked by a line of gum-trees, from the mouth of the glen to
its junction with the main branch, in which, excepting in isolated spots,
water was no longer to be found. The Red Hill (afterwards called Mount
Poole), bore N.N.W. from us, distant 3 1/2 miles; between us and it there
were undulating plains, covered with stones or salsolaceous herbage,
excepting in the hollows, wherein there was a little grass. Behind us
were level stony plains, with small sandy undulations, bounded by brush,
over which the Black Hill, bearing S.S.E. from the Red Hill, was visible,
distant 10 miles. To the eastward the country was, as I have described
it, hilly. Westward at a quarter of a mile the low range, through which
Depot Creek forces itself, shut out from our view the extensive plains on
which it rises. This range extended longitudinally nearly north and
south, but was nowhere more than a mile and a half in breadth. The
geological formation of the range was slate, traversed by veins of
quartz, its interstices being filled with magnesian limestone. Steep
precipices and broken rugged gullies alternated on either side of this
creek, and in its bed there were large slabs of beautiful slate. The
precipices shewed the lateral formation with the rock split into the
finest laminae, terminating in sharp points. But neither on the ranges or
on the plains behind the camp was there any feed for the cattle, neither
were the banks of the creek or its neighbourhood to be put in comparison
with Flood's Creek in this respect, for around it there was an abundance
as well as a variety of herbage. Still the vegetation on the Depot Creek
was vigorous, and different kinds of seeds were to be procured. I would
dwell on this fact the more forcibly, because I shall, at a future stage
of this journey, have to remark on the state of the vegetation at this
very spot, that is to say, when the expedition was on its return from the
interior at the close of the year.

A few days after we had settled ourselves at the Depot, Mr. Browne had a
serious attack of illness, that might have proved fatal; but it pleased
God to restore him to health and reserve him for future usefulness. At
this time, too, the men generally complained of rheumatism, and I
suspected that I was not myself altogether free from that depressing
complaint, since I had violent pains in my hip joints; but I attributed
them to my having constantly slept on the hard ground, and frequently in
the bed of some creek or other. It eventually proved, however, that I had
been attacked by a more fearful malady than rheumatism in its worst
stage.

There being no immediate prospect of our removal, I determined to
complete the charts up to thepoint to which we had penetrated. I
therefore sent Mr. Stuart, on the 2nd February, to sketch in the ranges
to the eastward, and connect them with the hills I had lately crossed
over. I directed Lewis, who had been in the survey, to assist Mr. Stuart,
and sent Flood with them to trace down the creek I had noticed from
several of our stations on the northern ranges, as passing through a gap
in the hills to the eastward. They returned to the camp on the 4th, Mr.
Stuart having been very diligent in his work. Flood had also obeyed my
orders; but could find no water in the lower branches of the creek,
although there was so much in it nearer the hills. The party had fallen
in with a small tribe of natives, for whom Flood had shot an emu. Mr.
Stuart informed me that they were very communicative; but their language
was unknown to him. He understood from them that they intended to visit
the camp in a couple of days; but as I had some doubts on this head, and
was anxious to establish a communication, and induce them to return with
me to the camp, I rode on the 5th with Mr. Browne across the plain, at
the farther extremity of which they were encamped near a little muddy
puddle. Flood and Joseph in the light cart accompanied us.

Great as the heat had been, it appeared rather to increase than diminish.
The wind constantly blew from the E.S.E. in the morning, with the deep
purple tint to the west I have already had occasion to notice. It then
went round with the sun, and blew heavily at noon; but gradually subsided
to a calm at sunset, and settled in the west, the same deep tint being
then visible above the eastern horizon which in the morning had been seen
in the west. The thermometer ranged from 100 degrees to 117 degrees in
the shade at 3 p.m.; the barometer from 29.300 degrees to 29.100 degrees.
Water boiled at 211 degrees and a fraction; but there was no dew point. I
should have stated, that both whilst Mr. Browne and I were in the hills
and at the camp, there was thunder and rain on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th,
but the showers were too light even to lay the dust, and had no effect
whatever on the temperature.

The morning we started to pay a visit to the blacks was more than usually
oppressive even at daybreak, and about 9 it blew a hot wind from the N.E.
As we rode across the stony plain lying between us and the hills, the
heated and parching blasts that came upon us were more than we could
bear. We were in the centre of the plain, when Mr. Browne drew my
attention to a number of small black specks in the upper air. These spots
increasing momentarily in size, were evidently approaching us rapidly. In
an incredibly short time we were surrounded by several hundreds of the
common kite, stooping down to within a few feet of us, and then turning
away, after having eyed us steadily. Several approached us so closely,
that they threw themselves back to avoid contact, opening their beaks and
spreading out their talons. The long flight of these birds, reaching from
the ground into the heavens, put me strongly in mind of one of Martin's
beautiful designs, in which he produces the effect of distance by a
multitude of objects gradually vanishing from the view. Whatever the
reader may think, these birds had a most formidable aspect, and were too
numerous for us to have overpowered, if they had really attacked us. That
they came down to see what unusual object was wandering across the lonely
deserts over which they soar, in the hope of prey, there can be no doubt;
but seeing that we were likely to prove formidable antagonists, they
wheeled from us in extensive sweeps, and were soon lost to view in the
lofty region from whence they had descended.

When we reached the place where the natives had been, we were
disappointed in not finding them. They had, however, covered up their
fires and left their nets, as if with the intention of returning.
Nevertheless we missed them, and reached the tents late in the evening,
after a ride of 40 miles.

After my return from this excursion, I was busily employed filling-in the
charts; but the ink in our pens dried so rapidly, that we were obliged to
have an underground room constructed to work in, and it proved of
infinite service and comfort, insomuch that the air in it was generally
from 7 degrees to 8 degrees cooler than that of the outer air.

Our observations and lunars placed us in latitude 29 degrees 40 minutes
14 seconds S., and in longitude 141 degrees 30 minutes 41 seconds E.
Mount Hopeless, therefore, bore W. by S. {N.N.W. in published text} of us,
as we were still 7 miles to the north of it {25 MILES TO THE SOUTH OF IT
in published text}, the difference of longitude being about 110 {171 in
published text} miles, and our distance from the eastern shore of Lake
Torrens about 85 {120 in published text}. The result of our lunars,
however, placed us somewhat to the westward of the longitude I have
given; and when I came to try my angles back from the Depot to Williorara,
I found that they terminated considerably to the westward of Sir
Thomas Mitchell's position there. My lunars at Williorara, however,
had not been satisfactory, and I therefore gave that officer credit
for correctness, and in the first chart I transmitted to the
Secretary of State assumed his position to be correct. There was a
small range, distant about 20 miles to the westward of the stony range
connected with the Depot Creek. It struck me that we might from them
obtain a distant view of Mount Serle, or see some change of country
favourable to my future views. Under this impression, I left the camp on
the 7th of the month, with Mr. Poole and two of the men. The ranges were
at a greater distance than I had imagined, but were of trifling
elevation, and on arriving at them I found that the horizon to the
westward was still closed from my view, by rising ground that intervened.
I should have pushed on for it, but Mr. Poole was unfortunately taken
ill, and I felt it necessary to give him my own horse, as having easier
paces than the one he was riding. It was with difficulty I got him on his
way back to the camp as far as the upper waterhole, just outside the
Rocky Glen, at which we slept, and by that means reached the tents early
on the following morning. I had anticipated rain before we should get
back, from the masses of heavy clouds that rose to the westward, after
the wind, which had been variable, had settled in that quarter; but they
were dispersed during the night, and the morning of the 8th was clear and
warm. We had felt it exceedingly hot the day we left the camp--there the
men were oppressed with intolerable heat, the thermometer having risen to
112 degrees in the shade. We had not ourselves felt the day so
overpowering, probably because we were in motion, and it is likely that a
temporary change in the state of the atmosphere, had influenced the
temperature, as the eastern horizon was banded by thunder clouds, though
not so heavy as those to the westward, and there was a good deal of
lightning in that quarter.

I have said that I was not satisfied with the result of my last excursion
with Mr. Browne to the north. I could not but think that we had
approached to within a tangible distance of an inland sea, from the
extreme depression and peculiar character of the country we traversed. I
determined, therefore, to make another attempt to penetrate beyond the
point already gained, and to ascertain the nature of the interior there;
making up my mind at the same time to examine the country both to the
eastward and westward of the northern ranges before I should return to
the camp. Mr. Poole and Mr. Browne being too weak to venture on a
protracted excursion of such a kind, I took Mr. Stuart, my draftsman,
with me. I should have delayed this excursion for a few days, however,
only that I feared the total failure of the creeks in the distant
interior; I proposed, in the first place, to make for the last and most
distant water-hole in the little creek beyond the ranges. Thence to take
the light cart with one horse, carrying as much water as he could draw,
and with one man, on foot, to pursue a due north course into the brush. I
hoped by this arrangement to gain the 27th parallel, and in so doing to
satisfy myself as to the point on which I was so anxious. I selected a
fine young lad to accompany me, named Joseph Cowley, because I felt some
confidence in his moral courage in the event of any disaster befalling
us. On this occasion I had the tank reconstructed, and took all the
barrels I could, to enable me to go as far as possible, and the day after
I returned to the camp with Mr. Poole, again left it with Mr. Stuart,
Joseph, and Flood, in whose charge I intended to leave my horse during my
absence--during which I also proposed that Mr. Stuart should employ his
time tracing in the hills.

We reached the muddy creek at the foot of the hills at 2 p.m., after a
ride of 25 miles, over the stony and barren plains I have described, and
as the distance to the next water was too great for us to attempt
reaching it until late, we stopped here for the night. Some natives had
been on the creek in the early part of the day, and had apparently moved
down it to the eastward. The water had diminished fearfully since the
time we passed on our return from the north.

The day was cool and pleasant, as the wind blew from the south, and the
thermometer did not rise above 95 degrees.

We had not ridden four miles on the following morning, when we observed
several natives on the plain at a little distance to the south, to whom
we called out, and who immediately came to us. We stopped with these
people for more than two hours, in the hope that we should gain some
information from them, either as to when we might expect rain, or of the
character of the distant interior, but they spoke a language totally
different from the river tribes, although they had some few words in
common, so that I could not rely on my interpretation of what they said.
They were all of them circumcised, and all but one wanted the right front
tooth of the upper jaw. When we left these people I gave them a note for
Mr. Poole, in the faint hope that they would deliver it, and I explained
to them that he would give them a tomahawk and blankets, but, as I
afterwards learnt, they never went to the camp.

When Mr. Browne and I were in this neighbourhood before, he had some
tolerable sport shooting the new pigeon, the flesh of which was most
delicious. At that time they were feeding upon the seed of the rice
grass, and were scattered about, but we now found them, as well as many
other birds, congregated in vast numbers preparing to migrate to the
north-east, apparently their direct line of migration; they were
comparatively wild, so that our only chance of procuring any was when
they came to water.

On the 9th we slept at the water in the creek at the top of the ranges;
but, on the 10th, instead of going through the pass, and by the valley,
under the two little peaks, through which we had entered the plains on
the first journey, we now turned to the westward in order to avoid that
rugged line, and discovered that the creek, instead of losing itself in
the flat to the eastward, continued on a westerly course to our left; for
being attracted by a flight of pigeons, wheeling round some gum-trees, we
might otherwise have overlooked it; I sent Flood to examine the ground,
who returned with the pleasing information that the creek had reformed,
and that there was a pool of water under the trees, nearly as large as
the one we had just left.

I was exceedingly pleased at this discovery and determined to send Mr.
Stuart back to it, as it would place him nearer his work. We reached the
farthest water, from which we had the second time driven the poor native,
late in the afternoon, and on examining the hut, found he had ventured
back to it and taken away his traps; but the water in the creek was
almost dried up; thick, muddy, and putrid, we could hardly swallow it,
and I regretted that we had not brought water with us from the hills, but
I had been influenced by a desire to spare my poor horse, as I knew the
task that was before him, although the poor brute was little aware of it.
About sunset an unfortunate emu came to water, and unconsciously
approached us so near that Flood shot it with his fusee. This was a
solitary wanderer, for we had seen very few either of these birds or
kangaroos in these trackless solitudes.

On the morning of the 10th we were up early, and had loaded the cart with
69 gallons of water before breakfast, when Joseph and I took our
departure, and Mr. Stuart with Flood returned to the hills. I had
selected one of our best horses for this journey, an animal I had
purchased from Mr. Frew of Adelaide. He was strong, powerful, and in good
condition, therefore well qualified for the journey. I had determined on
keeping a general north course, but in the kind of country in which I
soon found myself it was impossible to preserve a direct line. At about
four miles from the creek the brush became thick, and the country sandy,
and at six miles the sand ridges commenced. Wishing to ease the horse as
much as possible, Joseph endeavoured to round them by keeping on the
intervening flats, but this necessarily lengthened the day's journey, and
threw me more to the eastward than I had intended. A noon I halted for
two hours, and then pushed on, the day being cool, with the wind as it
had been for the last three or four days from the south. Had the country
continued as it was, we might have got on tolerably, but as we advanced
it changed greatly for the worse. We lost the flats, on a general coating
of sand thickly matted with spinifex, through which it was equally
painful to ourselves and poor Punch to tread. We crossed small sandy
basins or hollows, and were unable to see to any distance. The only trees
growing in this terrible place were a few acacias in the hollows, and
some straggling melaleuca, with hakeae and one or two other common
shrubs, all of low growth; there was no grass, neither were the few herbs
that grew on the hollows such as the horse would eat. We stopped a little
after sunset, having journeyed about 22 miles, on a small flat on which
there were a few acacias, and some low silky grass as dry as a chip, so
that if we had not been provident in bringing some oats poor Punch would
have gone without his supper. A meridian altitude of Capella placed us in
lat. 28 degrees 41 minutes 0 seconds. Our longitude by account being 141
degrees 15 minutes E. When I rose at daylight on the following morning, I
observed that the horse had eaten but little of the dry and withered food
on which he had been tethered; however, in consequence of our tank
leaking, I was enabled to give him a good drink, when he seemed to
revive, but no sooner commenced pulling than he perspired most profusely.
We kept a more regular course than on the previous day, over a country
that underwent no change. Before we started I left a nine gallon cask of
water in a small flat to ease the horse, and as the water in the tank had
almost all leaked out, his load was comparatively light. Still it was a
laborious task to draw the cart over such a country. Fortunately for us
the weather was cool, as the wind continued south, for I do not know what
we should have done if we had been exposed to the same heat Mr. Browne
and myself had experienced on our return from the little stony ranges now
about 10 miles to the westward of us. A little before noon the wind
shifted to the N.E.; I had at this time stopped to rest the horse, but we
immediately experienced a change of temperature, and the thermometer
which stood at 81 degrees rose before we again started to 93 degrees, and
at half-past three had attained 119 degrees. We were then in one of the
most gloomy regions that man ever traversed. The stillness of death
reigned around us, no living creature was to be heard; nothing visible
inhabited that dreary desert but the ant, even the fly shunned it, and
yet its yielding surface was marked all over with the tracks of native
dogs.

We started shortly after noon, and passed a pointed sand-hill, from
whence we could not only see the stony range but also the main range of
hills. The little peak on which Mr. Browne and I took bearings on our
last journey bore 150 degrees, the pass through which we had descended
into the plains 170 degrees, when I turned however to take bearings of
the stony range it had disappeared, having been elevated by refraction
above its true position. It bore about N.W. 1/2 W., distant from eight to
nine miles. It was again some time after sunset before we halted, on a
small flat that might contain two or at the most three acres. There was
some silky grass upon it, but this I knew the horse would not eat,
neither had I more than a pint of oats to give him. Our latitude here was
28 degrees 22 minutes 0 seconds.

On the morning of the 13th we still pushed on, leaving, as before, a cask
of water to pick up on our return. I had been obliged to limit the horse
to six gallons a day, but where he had been in the habit of drinking from
25 to 30, so small a quantity would not suffice. We had not gone many
miles when he shewed symptoms of exhaustion, and rather tottered than
walked. He took no pains to avoid anything, but threw Joseph into every
bush he passed. The country still continued unchanged, sand and spinifex
were the universal covering of the land, and only round the edges of the
little flats were a few stunted shrubs to be seen. It was marvellous to
me that such a country should extend to so great a distance without any
change. I could at no time see beyond a mile in any direction. Several
flights of parrots flew over our heads to the north-west, at such an
elevation as led me to suppose they would not pitch near us; but not a
bird of any kind did we see in the desert itself. The day being
exceedingly hot I stopped at one, rather from necessity than inclination,
having travelled 12 or 14 miles. Both Joseph and myself had walked the
whole way, and our legs were full of the sharp ends of the spinifex, but
it was more in mercy to poor Punch than to ourselves that I pulled up,
and held a consultation with Joseph as to the prudence of taking the cart
any further, when it was decided that our doing so would infallibly lead
to Punch's destruction. According to my calculation we were now in
latitude 28 degrees 9 minutes 0 seconds or thereabouts. I had hoped to
have advanced some 60 miles beyond this point, but now found that it
would be impossible to do so. There was no indication of a change of
country from any rising ground near us, and as it was still early in the
day I resolved on pushing forward until I should feel satisfied that I
had passed into the 27th parallel; my reason for this being a desire to
know what the character of the country, so far in the interior from, and
in the same parallel as Moreton Bay, would be. I had intended tethering
Punch out, and walking with Joseph, but as he remonstrated with me, and
it did not appear that my riding him would do the horse any harm, I
mounted, though without a saddle, and taking our guns, with a quart of
water, we commenced our journey. We moved rapidly on, as I was anxious to
return to the cart whilst there was yet daylight, to enable us to keep
our tracks, but no material change took place in the aspect of the
country. We crossed sand-ridge after sand-ridge only to meet
disappointment, and I had just decided on turning, when we saw at the
distance of about a quarter of a mile from us, a little rounded hill some
few feet higher than any we had ascended. It was to little purpose
however that we extended our ramble to it. At about a mile from where we
left the cart, we had crossed two or three small plains, if pieces of
ground not a quarter of a mile long might be so termed, on which rhagodia
bushes were growing, and I had hoped that this trifling change would have
led to a greater, but as I have stated such did not prove to be the case.
From the top of the little hill to which we walked (and from which we
could see to a distance of six or eight miles, but it was difficult to
judge how far the distant horizon was from us), there was no apparent
change, but the brush in the distance was darker than that nearer to us,
as if plains succeeded the sandy desert we had passed over. The whole
landscape however was one of the most gloomy character, and I found
myself obliged to turn from it in disappointment. As far as I could judge
we passed about a mile beyond the 28th parallel. Our longitude by account
only being 141 degrees 18 minutes E. The boiling point of water was 211
degrees 75/100. The evening had closed in before we got back to the cart,
but our course was fortunately true, and having given poor Punch as
liberal a draught as reason would justify we laid down to rest.

It was with great difficulty that we got our exhausted animal on, the
following morning, although I again gave him as much water as I could
spare. His docility under urgent want of food was astonishing. He was in
fact troublesomely persevering, and walked round and round the cart and
over us as we sat drinking our tea, smelling at the casks, and trying to
get his nose into the bung holes, and implored for relief as much as an
animal could do so by looks. Yet I am satisfied that a horse is not
capable of strong attachment to man, but that he is a selfish brute, for
however kindly he may be treated, where is the horse that will stay, like
the dog, at the side of his master to the last, although hunger and
thirst are upon him, and who, though carnivorous himself, will yet guard
the hand that has fed him and expire upon its post? but, turn the horse
loose at night, and where will you find him in the morning, though your
life depended on his stay?

We reached the creek on the morning of the 14th, about half-past 10,
having still a gallon of water remaining, that was literally better than
the water in the muddy puddle from which we had originally taken it. I
had thought it probable that we might find either Flood or Mr. Stuart
awaiting our return, but not seeing any trace of recent feet I concluded
they were in the ranges, and as the distance was too great for the horse
to travel in a day, in his exhausted state, I pushed on at 4 p.m., and
halted on the plains after having ridden about 6 miles. It was well
indeed that I did so, for we did not gain the ranges until near sunset on
the following day. Our exhausted horse could hardly drag one leg after
the other, although he pricked up his ears and for a time quickened his
pace as he fell into the track of the cart coming out. Both Mr. Stuart
and Flood were astonished at the manner in which he had fallen off, nor
did he ever after recover from the effects of that journey.

Mr. Stuart had completed his work with great accuracy, and had filled in
the chart so much that he saved me a good deal of trouble. The 16th being
Sunday, was a day of rest to us all, but one of excessive heat. Mr.
Stuart had stationed himself in the bed of the creek, which sloped down
on either side, and was partially shaded by gum-trees. The remains of
what must have been a fine pond of water occupied the centre, and
although it was thick and muddy it was as nectar to myself and Joseph. I
was surprised and delighted to see that the creek had here so large a
channel, and Flood, who had ridden down it a few miles, assured me that
it promised very well. During my absence he had shot at and wounded one
of the new pigeons, which afterwards reached my house alive.

I had intended proceeding to the eastward on my return from the north,
but was prevented by the total failure of water. I therefore determined
to trace the creek down, in the hope that it would favour my advance with
the party into the interior. On the 17th, therefore, leaving Joseph to
take care of Punch, I mounted my horse, and with Mr. Stuart and Flood,
rode away to the westward. At first the creek held a course between S. W.
and W. S. W. occasionally spreading over large flats, but always
reforming and increasing in size. It ran through a flat valley, bounded
by sand hills, against which it occasionally struck. The soil of the
valley was not bad, but there was little or no vegetation upon it. At 15
miles we arrived at the junction of another creek from the south, and
running down their united channels, at three miles found a small quantity
of water in a deep and shaded hollow. It was but a scanty supply however,
yet being cleaner and purer than any we had for some time seen, I stopped
and had some tea. There was a native's hut on the bank, from which the
owner must have fled at our approach; it was quite new, and afforded me
shelter during our short halt. The fugitive had left some few valuables
behind him, and amongst them a piece of red ochre. From this point the
creek trended more to the north, spreading over numerous flats in times
of flood, dividing its channels into many smaller ones, but always
uniting into one at the extremity of the flats. At 21 miles the creek
changed its course to 20 degrees to the west of north, and the country
became more open and level. There were numerous traces of natives along
its banks, and the remains of small fires on either side of it as far as
we could see. It was, therefore, evident that at certain seasons of the
year they resorted to it in some numbers, and I was then led to hope for
a favourable change in the aspect of the country.

The gum-trees as we proceeded down the creek increased in size, and their
foliage was of a vivid green. The bed of the creek was of pure sand, as
well as the plains through which it ran, although there was alluvial soil
partially mixed with the sand, and they had an abundance of grass upon
them, the seed having been collected by the natives for food. At about 14
miles from the place where we stopped, the creek lost its sandy bed, and
got one of tenacious clay. We soon afterwards pulled up for the night, at
two pools of water that were still of considerable size, and on which
there were several new ducks. They must, indeed, have been large deep
ponds not many weeks before, but had now sunk several feet from their
highest level, and, however valuable to a passing traveller, were useless
in other respects, as our cattle would have drained them in three or four
days. From this place also the natives appeared to have suddenly
retreated, since there was a quantity of the Grass [Note 9. "Panicum
laevinode" of Dr. Lindley.] spread out on the sloping bank of the creek to
dry, or ripen in the sun. We could not, however, make out to what point
they had gone. The heat during the day had been terrific, in so much that
we were unable to keep our feet in the stirrups, and the horses perspired
greatly, although never put out of a walk.

It was singular that we had no moisture on our skin; the reason why,
perhaps, we were at that time much distressed by violent headaches.

At about a quarter of a mile below the ponds the creek spreads over an
immense plain, almost as large as that of Cawndilla. A few trees marked
its course to a certain distance, but beyond them all trace of its
channel was lost, nor was it possible from the centre of the plain to
judge at what point its waters escaped. The plain was surrounded by sand
hills of about thirty feet in elevation, covered with low scrub. When we
started in the morning we crossed it on a west course, but saw nothing to
attract our notice from the tops of the sand hills. We then turned to the
northward, and at about two miles entered a pretty, well wooded, but
confined valley, in the bottom of which we once more found ourselves on
the banks of the creek. Running it down in a north-west direction for
seven miles, we were at length stopped by a bank of white saponaceous
clay, crossing the valley like a wall. As we rode down the creek we
observed large plains of red soil, precisely similar to the plains of the
Darling, receding from it to a great distance on either side. These
plains had deep water-worn gutters leading into the valley, so that I
conclude the lateral floods it receives are as copious as those from the
hills. On arriving at the bank running across the channel there were
signs of eddying waters, as if those of the creek had been thrown back;
but there was a low part in the bank over which it is evident they pour
when they rise to its level. Mr. Stuart and Flood were the first to
ascend the bank, and both simultaneously exclaimed that a change of
country was at hand. On ascending the bank myself, I looked to the west
and saw a beautiful park-like plain covered with grass, having groups of
ornamental trees scattered over it. Whether it was the suddenness of the
change, from barrenness and sterility to verdure and richness, I know
not; but I thought, when I first gazed on it, that I never saw a more
beautiful spot. It was, however, limited in extent, being not more than
eight miles in circumference. Descending from the bank we crossed the
plain on a south course. It was encircled by a line of gum-trees, between
whose trunks the white bank of clay was visible. We crossed the plain
amidst luxuriant grass; but the ground was rotten, and the whole area was
evidently subject to flood. It was also clear that the creek exhausted
itself in this extensive basin, from which, after the strictest search,
we could find no outlet. On reaching the southern extremity of the plain,
we crossed a broad bare channel, having a row of gum-trees on either
side, and ascending a continuation of the clay bank, at once found
ourselves in the scrub and amidst barrenness again; and at less than a
mile, on a north-west course, beheld the sand ridges once more rising
before us. I continued on this course, however, for eight miles, when I
turned to the north-east, in order to cut any watercourse that might be
in that direction, and to assure myself of the failure of the creek.
After riding for five miles, I turned to the south, with the intention of
ascending a sand hill at some distance, that swept the horizon in a
semicircular form and was much higher than any others. Mr. Poole had
informed me that he noticed a similar bank just before he made Lake
Torrens, and I was anxious to see if it hid any similar basin from my
view; but it did not. Sand hills of a similar kind succeeded it to the
westward, but there was no change of country. Although we had travelled
many miles, yet the zigzag course we had taken had been such that at this
point we were not more than sixteen miles from the pools we had left in
the morning; and as the day had been intolerably hot, and we had found no
water, I determined on returning to them; but I was obliged to stop for a
time for Flood, who complained of a violent pain in his head, occasioned
by the intense heat. There was no shelter, however, for him under the
miserable shrubs that surrounded us; but I stopped for half an hour,
during which the horses stood oppressed by languor, and without the
strength to lift up their heads, whilst their tails shook violently.
Being anxious to get to water without delay, I took a straight line for
the water-holes, and reached them at half-past 6 p.m., after an exposure,
from morning till night, to as great a heat as man ever endured; but if
the heat of this day was excessive, that of the succeeding one on which
we returned to Joseph was still more so. We reached our destination at 3
p.m., as we started early, and on looking at the thermometer fixed behind
a tree about five feet from the ground, I found the mercury standing at
132 degrees; on removing it into the sun it rose to 157 degrees. Only on
one occasion, when Mr. Browne and I were returning from the north, had
the heat approached to this; nor did I think that either men or animals
could have lived under it.

On the 20th we again crossed the ranges, and after a journey of 32 miles,
reached the lateral creek at their southern extremity, where I had rested
on my former journey. There was more water in it than I expected to have
found; but it was nevertheless much reduced, and in a week afterwards was
probably dry. On the 21st we gained the Muddy Creek, but had to search
for water where only a few days before there had been a pond of more than
a third of a mile in length. Here, on the following day, I was obliged to
leave Flood and Joseph, as the wheels of the cart had shrunk so much that
we could not take it on. I should have gained the camp early in the day,
but turned to the eastward to take bearings from some hills intermediate
between Mount Poole and the Northern Range, as the distance between these
points was too great. Our ride was over a singularly rugged country, of
equally singular geological formation, nor can I doubt but that at one
time or other there were currents sweeping over it in every direction. At
one place that we passed there was a broad opening in a rocky but earth
covered bank. Through this opening the eye surveyed a long plain, which
at about two miles was bounded by low dark hills. Along this plain the
channel of a stream was as distinctly marked in all its windings by small
fragments of snow-white quartz as if water had been there instead. On
either side the landscape was dark; but the effect was exceedingly
striking and unusual. From the hills we ascended I obtained bearings to
every station of consequence, and was quite glad that I had thus turned
from my direct course. It was dark, the night indeed had closed in before
we reached the tents; but I had the satisfaction to learn that both Mr.
Poole and Mr. Browne were better, though not altogether well, and that
every thing had gone on regularly during my absence. On the following
morning, I sent Lewis and Jones with a dray to fetch the cart, and for
the next three or four days was occupied charting the ground we had
travelled over.

The greatest distance I went northwards on this occasion was to the 28th
parallel, and about 27 {17 in published text} miles to the eastward
of the 141st meridian. Our extreme point to the westward being
lat. 28 degrees 56 minutes, and long. 140 degrees 54 minutes.
From what I have said, the reader will be enabled to judge what
prospects of success I had in either quarter; for myself I felt
that I had nothing to hope either in the north or the east; for even
if I had contemplated crossing eastward to the Darling, which was more
than 250 miles from me, the dreadful nature of the country would have
deterred me; but such an idea never entered my head--I could not, under
existing circumstances, have justified such a measure to myself; having
therefore failed in discovering any change of country, or the means of
penetrating farther into it, I sat quietly down at my post, determined to
abide the result, and to trust to the goodness of Providence to release
me from prison when He thought best.




CHAPTER VII.



MIGRATION OF THE BIRDS--JOURNEY TO THE EASTWARD--FLOODED PLAINS--NATIVE
FAMILY--PROCEED SOUTH, BUT FIND NO WATER--AGAIN TURN EASTWARD--STERILE
COUNTRY--SALT LAGOON--DISTANT HILLS TO THE EAST--RETURN TO THE
CAMP--INTENSE HEAT--OFFICERS ATTACKED BY SCURVY--JOURNEY TO THE WEST--NO
WATER--FORCED TO RETURN--ILLNESS OF MR. POOLE--VISITED BY A
NATIVE--SECOND JOURNEY TO THE EASTWARD--STORY OF THE NATIVE--KITES AND
CROWS--ERECT A PYRAMID ON MOUNT POOLE--PREPARATIONS FOR A
MOVE--INDICATIONS OF RAIN--INTENSE ANXIETY--HEAVY RAIN--MR. POOLE LEAVES
WITH THE HOME RETURNING PARTY--BREAK UP THE DEPOT--MR. POOLE'S SUDDEN
DEATH--HIS FUNERAL--PROGRESS WESTWARD--THE JERBOA--ESTABLISHMENT OF
SECOND DEPOT--NATIVE GLUTTONY--DISTANT MOUNTAINS SEEN--REACH LAKE
TORRENS--EXAMINATION OF THE COUNTRY N.W. OF IT--RETURN TO THE
DEPOT--VISITED BY NATIVES--PREPARATIONS FOR DEPARTURE AGAIN INTO THE
NORTHWEST INTERIOR.


The three last days of February were cool in comparison to the few
preceding ones. The wind was from the south, and blew so heavily that I
anticipated rough weather at the commencement of March. But that rough
month set in with renewed heat, consequent on the wind returning to its
old quarter the E.S.E. There were however some heavy clouds floating
about, and from the closeness of the atmosphere I hoped that rain would
have fallen, but all these favourable signs vanished, the thermometer
ascending to more than 100 degrees.

When we first pitched our tents at the Depot the neighbourhood of it
teemed with animal life. The parrots and paroquets flew up and down the
creeks collecting their scattered thousands, and making the air resound
with their cries. Pigeons congregated together; bitterns, cockatoos, and
other birds; all collected round as preparatory to migrating. In
attendance on these were a variety of the Accipitrine class, hawks of
different kinds, making sad havoc amongst the smaller birds. About the
period of my return from the north they all took their departure, and we
were soon wholly deserted. We no longer heard the discordant shriek of
the parrots, or the hoarse croaking note of the bittern. They all passed
away simultaneously in a single day; the line of migration being directly
to the N.W., from which quarter we had small flights of ducks and
pelicans.

On the 5th of March I sent Mr. Browne to the S.W., to a small creek
similar to that in the Rocky Glen and in the same range, in the hope that
as we had seen fires in that direction he might fall in with the natives,
but he was unsuccessful.

On the 6th I sent Flood to the eastward to see if he could recover the
channel of the main creek on the other side of the plain on which Mr.
Poole had lost it; he returned the following day, with information that
at 25 miles from the Depot he had recovered it, and found more water than
he could have supposed. The day of Flood's return was exceedingly hot and
close, and in the evening we had distant thunder, but no rain.

In consequence of his report, I now determined on a journey to the
eastward to ascertain the character of the country between us and the
Darling, and left the camp with this intention on the 12th instant. I
should have started earlier than that day had not Mr. Poole's illness
prevented me, but as he rallied, I proceeded on my excursion, accompanied
by Mr. Browne, Flood, and another of the men. We observed several puddles
near our old camp on the main creek as we rode away, so that rain must
have fallen there though not at the Depot. After passing the little
conical hill of which I have already spoken, we traced the creek down
until we saw plains of great extent before us, and as the creek trended
to the south, skirting them on that side, we rode across them on a
bearing of 322 degrees or N.W.1/2 N. They were 7 or 8 miles in breadth,
and full 12 miles in length from east to west; their soil was rich and
grassed in many places. At the extremity of the plains was a sand hill,
close to which we again came on the creek, but without water, that which
Flood had found being a little more to the eastward. Its channel at this
place was deep, shaded, and moist, but very narrow. I was quite surprised
when we came to the creek where Flood had been to find so much water;
there was a serpentine sheet, of more than a quarter of a mile in length,
which at first sight appeared to be as permanent as that at the Depot.
The banks were high and composed of light rich alluvial soil, on which
there were many new shrubs growing; the whole vegetation seemed to be
more forward on this side of the hills than on that where the Depot was.
Just as we halted we saw a small column of smoke rise up due south, and
on looking in that direction observed some grassy plains spreading out
like a boundless stubble, the grass being of the kind from which the
natives collect seed for subsistence at this season of the year.

Early on the morning of the 14th March we again saw smoke in the same
direction as before, but somewhat to the eastward, as if the grass or
brush had been fired. In hopes that we should come upon some of the
natives on the plains, through which the creek appeared to run, I
determined on examining them before I proceeded to the eastward. We
accordingly crossed its channel when we mounted our horses after
breakfast, and rode at some little distance from it on a course of 80
degrees or nearly east, over flooded lands of somewhat sandy soil,
covered with different kinds of grass, of which large heaps that had been
thrashed out by the natives were piled up like hay cocks. At about two
and a half miles we ascended a sandy rise of about fifty feet in
elevation, whence we obtained bearings of the little conical hill at the
western termination of the plain, and of the hill we had called the Black
Hill. These bearings with our latitude made the distance we had travelled
33 miles. From the sand hill we overlooked plains of great extent to the
N.E.; partly grassed and partly bare, but to the eastward there was low
brush and a country similar to that we had traversed before the
commencement of the sandy ridges. There were low sandy undulations to be
seen; but of no great height. I now turned for the smoke on a bearing of
187 degrees, or nearly south, traversing a barren sandy level
intermediate between the sand hill and the plains now upon our right, at
length we entered upon the flooded ground, it was soft and yielding, and
marked all over with the tracks of the natives; at 7 miles arrived at a
large clump of gum-trees, and under them the channel of the creek which
we had lost on the upper part of the plains was again visible. It was
here very broad, but quite bare, except a belt of polygonum growing on
either side, which had been set on fire, and was now in flames. We were
fortunate enough soon after to find a long shallow sheet of water, in the
bed of the creek, where we rested ourselves. It was singular enough that
we should have pulled up close to the camp of some natives, all of whom
had hidden themselves in the polygonum, except an old woman who was fast
asleep, but who did not faint on seeing Mr. Browne close to her when she
awoke. With this old lady we endeavoured to enter into conversation, and
in order to allay her fears gave her five or six cockatoos we had shot,
on which two other fair ones crept from behind the polygonum and advanced
towards us. Finding that the men were out hunting, and only the women
with the children were present, I determined to stop at this place until
the following morning, we therefore unloaded the horses and allowed them
to go and feed. A little before sunset, the two men returned to their
families. They were much astonished at seeing us quietly seated before
their huts, and approached us with some caution, but soon got reconciled
to our presence. One of them had caught a talpero and a lizard, but the
other had not killed any thing, so we gave him a dinner of mutton. The
language of these people was a mixture between that of the river and hill
tribes; but from what reason I am unable to say, although we understood
their answers to general questions, we could not gather any lengthened
information from them. I gave the elder native a blanket, and to the
other a knife, with both of which they seemed highly delighted, and in
return I suppose paid us the compliment of sending their wives to us as
soon as it became dusk, but as we did not encourage their advances they
left us after a short visit. The native who had killed the talpero,
skinned it the moment he arrived in the camp, and, having first moistened
them, stuffed the skin with the leaves of a plant of very astringent
properties. All these natives were very poor, particularly the men, nor
do I think that at this season of the year they can have much animal food
of any kind to subsist on. Their principal food appeared to be seeds of
various kinds, as of the box-tree, and grass seeds, which they pound into
cakes and bake, together with different kinds of roots.

On the 15th we started at 7 a.m., and crossing at the head of the water,
pursued a south course over extensive flooded plains, on which we again
lost the channel of the creek, as, after winding round a little
contiguous sand hill, it split into numberless branches; but although the
plains hereabouts were well grassed, the soil was not so good as that on
the plains above them. At six miles we ascended a sand hill, from which
we could see to the extremity of the plain; but it had no apparent outlet
excepting to the E.S.E. I therefore proceeded on that course for three
miles, when we lost sight of all gum-trees, and found ourselves amongst
scrub. Low bushes bounded the horizon all round, and hid the grassy
plains from our view; but they were denser to the south and east than at
any other point. Mount Lyell, the large hill south, bore 140 degrees to
the east of north, distant between forty and fifty miles. A short time
after we left the grassy flats we crossed the dry bed of a large lagoon,
which had been seen by Mr. Poole on a bearing of 77 degrees from the
Magnetic Hill. In the richer soil, a plant with round, striped fruit upon
it, of very bitter taste, a species of cucumber, was growing. We next
proceeded to the eastward, and surveying the country from higher ground,
observed that the creek had no outlet from the plains, and that it could
not but terminate on them.

As I had no object in a prolonged journey to the south, I turned back
from this station, and retracing my steps to the water where we had left
the natives, reached it at half-past six. All our friends were still
there; we had, therefore, the pleasure of passing another afternoon with
them, during which they were joined by two other natives, with their
families, who had been driven in from the south, like ourselves, by the
want of water. They assured us that all the water in that quarter had
disappeared, "that the sun had taken it," and that we should not find a
drop to the eastward, where I told them I was going. All these men,
excepting one, had been circumcised. The single exception had the left
fore-tooth of his upper jaw extracted, and I therefore concluded that he
belonged to a different tribe. I had hoped to have seen many more natives
in this locality; but it struck me, from what I observed, that they were
dispersed at the different water-holes, there being no one locality
capable of supporting any number.

The low and flooded track I have been describing must be dreadfully cold
during the winter season, and the natives, who are wholly unprovided for
inclemency of any kind, must suffer greatly from exposure; but at this
time the temperature still continued very high, and the constant
appearance of the deep purple tint opposite to the rising and setting sun
seemed to indicate a continuance of it.

As our horses had had some long journeys for the last three days, we
merely returned to our first bivouac on the creek, when we left the
natives, with whom we parted on very good terms, and a promise on their
part to come and see us. On the 17th started at quarter-past six for the
eastward, with as much water as we could carry in the cart, as from the
accounts of the natives we scarcely hoped to find any. For the first five
miles we kept a course rather to the north of east, nearly E.N.E. indeed,
to round some sand-hills we should otherwise have been obliged to cross.
There were very extensive plains to our left, on which water must lie
during winter; but their soil was not good, or the vegetation thick upon
them. We could just see the points of the northern flat-topped ranges
beyond them. At five miles we turned due east, and crossed several small
plains, separated by sandy undulations, not high enough to be termed
ridges; the country, both to the south and east, appearing to be
extremely low. At about fifteen miles, just as we were ascending a sand
hill, Mr. Browne caught sight of a native stealing through the brush,
after whom he rode; but the black observing him, ran away. On this Mr.
Browne called out to him, when he stopped; but the horse happening to
neigh at the moment, the poor fellow took to his heels, and secreted
himself so adroitly, that we could not find him. He must, indeed, have
been terribly alarmed at the uncouth sound he heard.

A short time before our adventure with the native we had seen three
pelicans coming from the north. They kept very low to the ground, and
wheeled along in circles in a very remarkable manner, as if they had just
risen from water; but at length they soared upwards, and flew straight
for the lagoon where we had left the natives. With the exception of these
three birds, no other was to be seen in those dreary regions. Both Mr.
Browne and I, however, rode over a snake, but our horses fortunately
escaped being bitten; this animal had seized a mouse, which it let go on
being disturbed, and crept into a hole; it was very pretty, being of a
bright yellow colour with brown specks. Arriving at the termination of
the sand hills, we looked down upon an immense shallow basin, extending
to the north and south-east further than the range of vision, which must,
I should imagine, be wholly impassable during the rainy season. There was
scarcely any vegetation, a proof, it struck me, that it retains water on
its surface till the summer is so advanced that the sun's rays are too
powerful for any plants that may spring up, or that the heat bakes the
soil so that nothing can force itself through. There was little, if any
grass to be seen; but the mesembryanthemum reappeared upon it, with other
salsolaceous plants. The former was of a new variety, with flowers on a
long slender stalk, heaps of which had been gathered by the natives for
the seed. Of the timber of these regions there was none; a few gum-trees
near the creeks, with box-trees on the flats, and a few stunted acacia
and hakea on the small hills, constituted almost the whole. Water boiled
on this plain at 212 degrees; that is to say at our camp were we slept,
about two miles advanced into it, but the plain extended about five miles
further to the eastward. After crossing this on the following morning, we
traversed a country which Mr. Browne informed me was very similar to that
near Lake Torrens. It consisted of sand banks, or drifts, with large bare
patches at intervals: the whole bearing testimony to the violence of the
rains that must sometimes deluge it. We then traversed a succession of
flats (I call them so because they did not deserve the name of plains)
separated from each other by patches of red sand and clay, that were not
more than a foot and a half above the surface of the flats. At nine miles
the country became covered with low scrub, and we soon after passed the
dry bed of a lagoon, about a mile in circumference, on which there was a
coating of salt and gypsum resting on soft black mud. About a mile from
this we passed a new tree, similar to one we had seen on the Cawndilla
plain. From this point the land imperceptibly rose, until at length we
found ourselves on some sandy elevations thickly covered with scrub of
acacia, almost all dead, but there was a good deal of grass around them,
and the spot might at another season, and if the trees had been in leaf,
have looked pretty. We pushed through this scrub, the soil being a bright
red sand for nine miles, when we suddenly found ourselves at the base of
a small stony hill, of about fifty feet in height. From the summit we
overlooked the region round about. To the eastward, as a medium point, it
was covered with a dense scrub, that extended to the base of a range of
hills, distant about 33 miles, the extremities of which bore 71 degrees
and 152 degrees respectively from us. But although the country under them
was covered with brush, the hills appeared to be clear and denuded of
brushes of any kind. Our position here was about 138 miles from the
Darling, and about 97 from the Depot. My object in this excursion had
been to ascertain the characteristic of the country between us and the
Darling, but I did not think it necessary to run any risks with my
horses, by pushing on for the hills, as I could not have reached them
until late the following day, when in the event of not finding water,
their fate would have been sealed; for we could not have returned with
them to the creek. They had already been two days without, if I except
the little we had spared them from the casks. I had deemed it prudent to
send Joseph and Lewis back to the creek for a fresh supply, with orders
to return and meet at a certain point, and there to await our arrival,
for without this supply I felt satisfied we should have great difficulty
as it was in getting our animals back to the creek. We descended from the
hill therefore to some green looking trees, of a foliage new to me, to
rest for an hour before we turned back again. There were neither flowers
or fruit on the trees, but from their leaf and habit, I took them to be a
species of the Juglans. At sunset we mounted our horses and travelled to
the edge of the acacia scrub to give our horses some of the grass, and
halted in it for the night, but started early on the following morning to
meet Joseph. We reached the appointed place, about 10, but not finding
him there continued to journey onwards, and at five miles met him. We
then stopped and gave the horses 12 gallons of water each, after which we
tethered them out, but they were so restless that I determined to mount
them, and pushing on reached the creek at half-past 1, a.m. The animals
requiring rest I remained stationary the next day, and was myself glad to
keep in the shade, not that the day was particularly hot, but because I
began to feel the effects of constant exposure. Having expressed some
opinion, however, that there might have been water to the north of us, in
the direction whence the pelicans came, Mr. Browne volunteered to ride
out, and accordingly with Flood left me about 10, but returned late in
the afternoon without having found any. He ascertained that the creek I
had sent Flood to trace when Mr. Stuart went to sketch in the ranges,
terminated in the barren plain we had crossed, and such, the reader will
observe, is the general termination of all the creeks of these singular
and depressed regions.

We returned to the camp on the 21st, and from that period to the end of
the month I remained stationary, employed in various ways. On the 24th
and 29th we took different sets of lunars, which gave our longitude as
before, nearly 141 degrees 29 minutes, the variation of the compass being
5 degrees 14 minutes East.

The month of April set in without any indication of a change in the
weather. It appeared as if the flood gates of Heaven were closed upon us
for ever. We now began to feel the effects of disappointment, and watched
the sky with extreme anxiety, inso-much that the least cloud raised all
our hopes. The men were employed in various ways to keep them in health.
We planted seeds in the bed of the creek, but the sun burnt them to
cinders the moment they appeared above the ground. On the evening of the
3rd there was distant thunder, and heavy clouds to the westward. I
thought it might have been that some shower had approached sufficiently
near for me to benefit by the surface water it would have left to push
towards Lake Torrens, and therefore mounted my horse and rode away to the
westward on the 4th, but returned on the night of the 7th in
disappointment. Time rolled on fast, and still we were unable to stir.
Mr. Piesse, who took great delight in strolling out with my gun,
occasionally shot a new bird.

On the 4th the wind blew strong from the south; but although the air was
cooled, no rain fell, nor indeed was there any likelihood of rain with
the wind in that quarter. Still as this was the first decided shift from
the points to which it had kept so steadily, we augured good from it. On
the 7th a very bright meteor was seen to burst in the south-east quarter
of the heavens; crossing the sky with a long train of light, and in
exploding seemed to form numerous stars. Whether it was fancy or not we
thought the temperature cooled down from this period. On this day also we
had a change of moon, but neither produced a variation of wind or weather
of any immediate benefit to us. On the 14th we tried to ascertain the dew
point, but failed, as in previous instances. The thermometer in our
underground room stood at 78 degrees of Farenheit, but we could not
reduce the moist bulb below 49 degrees; nor was I surprised at this,
considering we had not had rain for nearly four months, and that during
our stay at the Depot we had never experienced a dew. The ground was
thoroughly heated to the depth of three or four feet, and the tremendous
heat that prevailed had parched vegetation and drawn moisture from
everything. In an air so rarified, and an atmosphere so dry, it was
hardly to be expected that any experiment upon it would be attended with
its usual results, or that the particles of moisture so far separated,
could be condensed by ordinary methods. The mean of the thermometer for
the months of December, January, and February, had been 101 degrees, 104
degrees, and 101 degrees respectively in the shade. Under its effects
every screw in our boxes had been drawn, and the horn handles of our
instruments, as well as our combs, were split into fine laminae. The lead
dropped out of our pencils, our signal rockets were entirely spoiled; our
hair, as well as the wool on the sheep, ceased to grow, and our nails had
become as brittle as glass. The flour lost more than eight per cent of
its original weight, and the other provisions in a still greater
proportion. The bran in which our bacon had been packed, was perfectly
saturated, and weighed almost as heavy as the meat; we were obliged to
bury our wax candles; a bottle of citric acid in Mr. Browne's box became
fluid, and escaping, burnt a quantity of his linen; and we found it
difficult to write or draw, so rapidly did the fluid dry in our pens and
brushes. It was happy for us, therefore, that a cooler season set in,
otherwise I do not think that many of us could much longer have survived.
But, although it might be said that the intense heat of the summer had
passed, there still were intervals of most oppressive weather.

About the beginning of March I had had occasion to speak to Mr. Browne as
to certain indications of disease that were upon me. I had violent
headaches, unusual pains in my joints, and a coppery taste in my mouth.
These symptoms I attributed to having slept so frequently on the hard
ground and in the beds of creeks, and it was only when my mouth became
sore, and my gums spongy, that I felt it necessary to trouble Mr. Browne,
who at once told me that I was labouring under an attack of scurvy, and I
regretted to learn from him that both he and Mr. Poole were similarly
affected, but they hoped I had hitherto escaped. Mr. Browne was the more
surprised at my case, as I was very moderate in my diet, and had taken
but little food likely to cause such a malady. Of we three Mr. Poole
suffered most, and gradually declined in health. For myself I immediately
took double precautions, and although I could not hope soon to shake off
such a disease, especially under such unfavourable circumstances as those
in which we were placed, I was yet thankful that I did not become worse.
For Mr. Browne, as he did not complain, I had every hope that he too had
succeeded in arresting the progress of this fearful distemper. It will
naturally occur to the reader as singular, that the officers only should
have been thus attacked; but the fact is, that they had been constantly
absent from the camp, and had therefore been obliged to use bacon,
whereas the men were living on fresh mutton; besides, the same men were
seldom taken on a second journey, but were allowed time to recover from
the exposure to which they had been subjected, but for the officers there
was no respite.

On the 18th the wind, which had again settled in the S.E. changed to the
N.E., and the sky became generally overcast. Heavy clouds hung over the
Mount Serle chain, and I thought that rain would have fallen, but all
these favourable indications vanished before sunset. At dawn of the
morning of the 19th, dense masses of clouds were seen, and thunder heard
to the west; and the wind shifting to that quater, we hoped that some of
the clouds would have been blown over to us, but they kept their place
for two days, and then gradually disappeared. These distant indications,
however, were sufficient to rouse us to exertion, in the hope of escaping
from the fearful captivity in which we had so long been held. I left the
camp on the 21st with Mr. Browne and Flood, thinking that rain might have
extended to the eastward from Mount Serle, sufficiently near to enable us
to push into the N.W. interior, and as it appeared to me that a W. by N.
course would take me abreast of Mount Hopeless, I ran upon it. At 16
miles I ascended a low range, but could not observe anything from it to
the westward but scrub. Descending from this range we struck the head of
a creek, and at six miles came on the last dregs of a pool of water, so
thick that it was useless to us. We next crossed barren stony undulations
and open plains, some of them apparently subject to floods; and halted at
half-past six, after a journey of between thirty and forty miles without
water, and with very little grass for our horses to eat. Although the
course we kept, had taken us at times to a considerable distance from the
creek, we again came on it before sunset, and consequently halted upon
its banks; but in tracing it down on the following morning we lost its
channel on an extensive plain, and therefore continued our journey to the
westward. At seven miles we entered a dense scrub, and at fifteen
ascended a sand hill, from which we expected to have had a more than
usually extensive view, but it was limited to the next sand hill, nor was
there the slightest prospect of a change of country being at hand. At
four miles from this position we came upon a second creek seemingly from
the N.E., whose appearance raised our hopes of obtaining water; but as
its channel became sandy, and turned southwards, I left it, and once more
running on our old course, pulled up at sunset under a bank of sand,
without anything either for ourselves or our horses to drink. During the
latter part of the evening we had observed a good deal of grass on the
sand hills, nor was there any deficiency of it round our bivouac; but,
notwithstanding that there was more than enough for the few horses we
had, a herd of cattle would have discussed the whole in a night. It was
evident from the state of the ground that no rain had fallen hereabouts,
and I consequently began to doubt whether it had extended beyond the
mountains. Comparing the appearance of the country we were in, with that
through which Mr. Browne passed for 50 miles before he came upon Lake
Torrens, and concluding that some such similar change would have taken
place here if we had approached within any reasonable distance of that
basin, I could not but apprehend that we were still a long way from it.

The horses having refused the water we had found in the creek, I could
hardly expect they would drink it on their return, so that I calculated
our distance from water at about 68 miles; and I foresaw that unless we
should succeed in finding some early in the day following, it would be
necessary for us to make for the Depot again. Close to where we stopped
there was a large burrow of Talperos, an animal, as I have observed,
similar to the rabbit in its habits, and one of which the natives are
very fond, as food. The sandy ridges appeared to be full of them, and
other animals, that must live for many months at a time without water.
Whilst we were sitting in the dusk near our fire, two beautiful parrots
attracted by it, I suppose, pitched close to us; but immediately took
wing again, and flew away to the N.W. They, no doubt, thought that we
were near water, but like ourselves were doomed to disappointment. During
the evening also some plovers flew over us, and we heard some native dogs
howling to the south-west. At daylight, therefore, we rode in that
direction, with the hope of finding the element we now so much required.
At three miles a large grassy flat opened out to view upon our right,
similar to that at the termination of the Depot creek. It might have
contained 1000 acres, but there was not at the first glance, a tree to be
seen upon it This flat was bounded to the S.W. by a sand bank, lying at
right angles to the sand ridges we had been crossing. The latter,
therefore, ran down upon this bank in parallel, lines, some falling short
of, and others striking it; so that, as the drainage was towards the
embankment, the collected waters lodged against it. After crossing a
portion of the plain we saw some box-trees in a hollow, towards which we
rode, and then came upon a deep dry pond, in whose bottom the natives had
dug several wells, and had evidently lingered near it as long as a drop
of water remained. It was now clear that our further search for water
would be useless. I therefore turned on a course of 12 degrees to the
north of east for the muddy water we had passed two days before, and
halted there about an hour after sunset, having journeyed 42 miles. We
fell into our tracks going out about four miles before we halted, and
were surprised to observe that a solitary native had been running them
down. On riding a little further however, we noticed several tracks of
different sizes, as if a family of natives had been crossing the country
to the north-west. It is more than probable that their water having
failed in the hills, they were on their way to some other place where
they had a well.

Although we had ourselves been without water for two days, the mud in the
creek was so thick that I could not swallow it, and was really astonished
how Mr. Browne managed to drink a pint of it made into tea. It absolutely
fell over the cup of the panakin like thick cream, and stuck to the
horses' noses like pipe-clay. They drank sparingly however, and took but
little grass during the night. As we pursued our journey homewards on the
following day, we passed several flights of dotterel making to the south,
this being the first migration we had observed in that direction. These
birds were in great numbers on the plains of Adelaide the year preceding,
and had afforded good sport to my friend Torrens; we also observed a
flight of pelicans, wheeling about close to the ground, as they had
before done to the eastward, as well as a flight of the black-shouldered
hawks hovering in the air. Our day's ride had been very long and
fatiguing, as the horses were tired, but we got relieved by our arrival
at the camp a little before sunset on the 25th: and thus terminated
another journey in disappointment. We regretted to find that Mr. Poole
was seriously indisposed. His muscles were now attacked and he was
suffering great pain, but, as the disease appeared inclined to make to
the surface, Mr. Browne had some hopes of a favourable change. Both Mr.
Browne and myself found that the sameness of our diet began to disagree
with us, and were equally anxious for the reappearance of vegetation, in
the hope that we should be able to collect sow-thistles or the tender
shoots of the rhagodia as a change. We had, whilst it lasted, taken mint
tea, in addition to the scanty supply of tea to which we were obliged to
limit ourselves, but I do not think it was wholesome.

The moon entered her third quarter on the 27th, but brought no change; on
the contrary she chased away the clouds as she rose, and moved through
the heavens in unshrouded and dazzling brightness. Sometimes a dark mass
of clouds would rise simultaneously with her, in the west, but as the
queen of night advanced in her upward course they gradually diminished
the velocity with which they at first came up; stopped, and fell back
again, below the horizon. Not once, but fifty times have we watched these
apparently contending forces, but whether I am right in attributing the
cause I will not say.

At this time (the end of April) the weather was very fine, although the
thermometer ranged high. The wind being steady at south accounted for the
unusual height of the barometrical column, which rose to 30.600. On the
night of the 20th we had a heavy dew, the first since our departure from
the Darling. On the morning of the 28th it thundered, and a dense cloud
passed over to the north, the wind was unsteady, and I hoped that the
storm would have worked round, but it did not. At ten the wind sprung up
from the south, the sky cleared and all our hopes were blighted.

Notwithstanding that we treated the natives who came to the creek with
every kindness, none ever visited us, and I was the more surprised at
this, because I could not but think that we were putting them to great
inconvenience by our occupation of this spot. Towards the end of the
month, it was so cold that we were glad to have fires close to our tents.
Mr. Poole had gradually become worse and worse, and was now wholly
confined to his bed, unable to stir, a melancholy affliction both to
himself and us, rendering our detention in that gloomy region still more
painful. My men generally were in good health, but almost all had
bleeding at the nose; I was only too thankful that my own health did not
give way, though I still felt the scurvy in a mitigated form, but Mr.
Browne had more serious symptoms about him.

The 10th of May completed the ninth month of our absence from Adelaide,
and still we were locked up without the hope of escape, whilst every day
added fresh causes of anxiety to those I had already to bear up against.
Mr. Poole became worse, all his skin along the muscles turned black, and
large pieces of spongy flesh hung from the roof of his mouth, which was
in such a state that he could hardly eat. Instead of looking with
eagerness to the moment of our liberation, I now dreaded the consequent
necessity of moving him about in so dreadful a condition. Mr. Browne
attended him with a constancy and kindness that could not but raise him
in my estimation, doing every thing which friendship or sympathy could
suggest.

On the 11th about 3 p.m. I was roused by the dogs simultaneously
springing up and rushing across the creek, but supposing they had seen a
native dog, I did not rise; however, I soon knew by their continued
barking that they had something at bay, and Mr. Piesse not long after
came to inform me a solitary native was on the top of some rising ground
in front of the camp. I sent him therefore with some of the men to call
off the dogs, and to bring him down to the tents. The poor fellow had
fought manfully with the dogs, and escaped injury, but had broken his
waddy over one of them. He was an emaciated and elderly man, rather low
in stature, and half dead with hunger and thirst; he drank copiously of
the water that was offered to him, and then ate as much as would have
served me for four and twenty dinners. The men made him up a screen of
boughs close to the cart near the servants, and I gave him a blanket in
which he rolled himself up and soon fell fast asleep. Whence this
solitary stranger could have come from we could not divine. No other
natives approached to look after him, nor did he shew anxiety for any
absent companion. His composure and apparent self-possession were very
remarkable, for he neither exhibited astonishment or curiosity at the
novelties by which he was surrounded. His whole demeanour was that of a
calm and courageous man, who finding himself placed in unusual jeopardy,
had determined not to be betrayed into the slightest display of fear or
timidity.

From the period of our return from the eastward, I had remained quiet in
the camp, watching every change in the sky; I was indeed reluctant to
absent myself for any indefinite period, in consequence of Mr. Poole's
precarious state of health. He had now used all the medicines we had
brought out, and none therefore remained either for him or any one else
who might subsequently be taken ill. As however he was better, on the
12th, I determined to make a second excursion to the eastward, to see if
there were any more natives in the neighbourhood of the grassy plains
than when I was last there. Wishing to get some samples of wood I took
the light cart and Tampawang also, in the hope that he would be of use.

Although the water in the creek had sunk fearfully there was still a
month's supply remaining, but if it had been used by our stock it would
then have been dry. Close to the spot where we had before stopped, there
were two huts that had been recently erected. Before these two fires were
burning, and some troughs of grass seed were close to them, but no native
could we see, neither did any answer to our call. Mr. Browne, however,
observing some recent tracks, ran them down, and discovered a native and
his lubra who had concealed themselves in the hollow of a tree, from
which they crept as soon as they saw they were discovered. The man, we
had seen before, and the other proved to be the frail one who exhibited
such indignation at our rejecting her addresses on a former occasion;
being a talkative damsel, we were glad to renew our acquaintance with
her. We learnt from them that the second hut belonged to an absent native
who was out hunting, the father of a pretty little girl who now obeyed
their signal and came forth. They said the water on the plain had dried
up, and that the only water-holes remaining were to the west, viz. at our
camp, and to the south, where they said there were two water-holes. As
they had informed us, the absent native made his appearance at sunset,
but his bag was very light, so we once more gave them all our mutton; he
proved to be the man Mr. Browne chased on the sand hills, the strongest
native we had seen; he wanted the front tooth, but was not circumcised.

In the evening we had a thunder storm, but could have counted the drops
of rain that fell, notwithstanding the thunder was loud and the lightning
vivid. We returned to the Depot on the 13th, and on crossing the plain
Mr. Browne had well nigh captured a jerboa, which sprang from under my
horse's legs, but managed to elude him, and popped into a little hole
before he could approach sufficiently near to strike at it. On reaching
the tents we had the mortification to find Mr. Poole still worse, but I
attributed his relapse in some measure to a depression of spirits. The
old man who had come to the camp the day before we left it, was still
there, and had apparently taken up his quarters between the cart and my
tent. During our absence the men had shewn him all the wonders of the
camp, and he in his turn had strongly excited their anticipations, by
what he had told them.

He appeared to be quite aware of the use of the boat, intimating that it
was turned upside down, and pointed to the N.W. as the quarter in which
we should use her. He mistook the sheep net for a fishing net, and gave
them to understand that there were fish in those waters so large that
they would not get through the meshes. Being anxious to hear what he had
to say I sent for him to my tent, and with Mr. Browne cross-questioned
him.

It appeared quite clear to us that he was aware of the existence of large
water somewhere or other to the northward and westward. He pointed from
W.N.W. round to the eastward of north, and explained that large waves
higher than his head broke on the shore. On my shewing him the fish
figured in Sir Thomas Mitchell's work he knew only the cod. Of the fish
figured in Cuvier's works he gave specific names to those he recognised,
as the hippocampus, the turtle, and several sea fish, as the chetodon,
but all the others he included under one generic name, that of "guia,"
fish.

He put his hands very cautiously on the snakes, and withdrew them
suddenly as if he expected they would bite him, and evinced great
astonishment when he felt nothing but the soft paper. On being asked, he
expressed his readiness to accompany us when there should be water, but
said we should not have rain yet. I must confess this old native raised
my hopes, and made me again anxious for the moment when we should resume
our labours, but when that time was to come God only knew.

It had been to no purpose that we had traversed the country in search for
water. None any longer remained on the parched surface of the stony
desert, if I except what remained at the Depot, and the little in the
creek to the eastward. There were indeed the ravages of floods and the
vestiges of inundations to be seen in the neighbourhood of every creek we
had traced, and upon every plain we had crossed, but the element that had
left such marks of its fury was no where to be found.

From this period I gave up all hope of success in any future effort I
might make to escape from our dreary prison. Day after day, and week
after week passed over our heads, without any apparent likelihood of any
change in the weather. The consequences of our detention weighed heavily
on my mind, and depressed my spirits, for in looking over Mr. Piesse's
monthly return of provisions on hand, I found that unless some step was
taken to enable me to keep the field, I should on the fall of rain be
obliged to retreat. I had by severe exertion gained a most commanding
position, the wide field of the interior lay like an open sea before me,
and yet every sanguine hope I had ever indulged appeared as if about to
be extinguished. The only plan for me to adopt was to send a portion of
the men back to Adelaide. I found by calculation that if I divided the
party, retaining nine in all, and sending the remainder home, I should
secure the means of pushing my researches to the end of December, before
which time I hoped, (however much it had pleased Providence to stay my
progress hitherto,) to have performed my task, or penetrated the
heartless desert before me, to such a distance as would leave no doubt as
to the question I had been directed to solve.

The old man left us on the 17th with the promise of returning, and from
the careful manner in which he concealed the different things that had
been given to him I thought he would have done so, but we never saw him
more, and I cannot but think that he perished from the want of water in
endeavouring to return to his kindred.

I have repeatedly remarked that we had been deserted by all the feathered
tribes. Not only was this the case, but we had witnessed a second
migration of the later broods; after these were gone, there still
remained with us about fifty of the common kites and as many crows: these
birds continued with us for the offals of the sheep, and had become
exceedingly tame; the kites in particular came flying from the trees when
a whistle was sounded, to the great amusement of the men, who threw up
pieces of meat for them to catch before they fell to the ground. When the
old man first came to us, we fed him on mutton, but one of the men
happening to shoot a crow, he shewed such a decided preference for it,
that he afterwards lived almost exclusively upon them. He was, as I have
stated, when he first came to us a thin and emaciated being, but at the
expiration of a fortnight when he rose to depart, he threw off his
blanket and exhibited a condition that astonished us all. He was
absolutely fat, and yet his face did not at all indicate such a change.
If he had been fed in the dark like capons, he could not have got into
better condition. Mr. Browne was anxious to accompany him, but I thought
that if his suspicions were aroused he would not return, and I therefore
let him depart as he came. With him all our hopes vanished, for even the
presence of that savage was soothing to us, and so long as he remained,
we indulged in anticipations as to the future. From the time of his
departure a gloomy silence pervaded the camp; we were, indeed, placed
under the most trying circumstances; every thing combined to depress our
spirits and exhaust our patience. We had gradually been deserted by every
beast of the field, and every fowl of the air. We had witnessed migration
after migration of the feathered tribes, to that point to which we were
so anxious to push our way. Flights of cockatoos, of parrots, of pigeons,
and of bitterns, birds also whose notes had cheered us in the wilderness,
all had taken the same high road to a better and more hospitable region.
The vegetable kingdom was at a stand, and there was nothing either to
engage the attention or attract the eye. Our animals had laid the ground
bare for miles around the camp, and never came towards it but to drink.
The axe had made a broad gap in the line of gum-trees which ornamented
the creek, and had destroyed its appearance. We had to witness the
gradual and fearful diminution of the water, on the possession of which
our lives depended; day after day we saw it sink lower and lower,
dissipated alike by the sun and the winds. From its original depth of
nine feet, it now scarcely measured two, and instead of extending from
bank to bank it occupied only a narrow line in the centre of the channel.
Had the drought continued for a month longer than it pleased the Almighty
to terminate it, that creek would have been as dry as the desert on
either side. Almost heart-broken, Mr. Browne and I seldom left our tents,
save to visit our sick companion. Mr. Browne had for some time been
suffering great pain in his limbs, but with a generous desire to save me
further anxiety carefully concealed it from me; but it was his wont to go
to some acacia trees in the bed of the creek to swing on their branches,
as he told me to exercise his muscles, in the hope of relaxing their
rigidity.

One day, when I was sitting with Mr. Poole, he suggested the erection of
two stations, one on the Red Hill and the other on the Black Hill, as
points for bearings when we should leave the Depot. The idea had
suggested itself to me, but I had observed that we soon lost sight of the
hills in going to the north-west; and that, therefore, for such a
purpose, the works would be of little use, but to give the men
occupation; and to keep them in health I employed them in erecting a
pyramid of stones on the summit of the Red Hill. It is twenty-one feet at
the base, and eighteen feet high, and bears 329 degrees from the camp, or
31 degrees to the west of north. I little thought when I was engaged in
that work, that I was erecting Mr. Poole's monument, but so it was, that
rude structure looks over his lonely grave, and will stand for ages as a
record of all we suffered in the dreary region to which we were so long
confined.

The months of May and June, and the first and second weeks of July passed
over our heads, yet there was no indication of a change of weather. It
had been bitterly cold during parts of this period, the thermometer
having descended to 24 degrees; thus making the difference between the
extremes of summer heat and winter's cold no less than 133 degrees.

About the middle of June I had the drays put into serviceable condition,
the wheels wedged up, and every thing prepared for moving away.

Anxious to take every measure to prevent unnecessary delay, when the day
of liberation should arrive, I had sent Mr. Stuart and Mr. Piesse, with a
party of chainers, to measure along the line on which I intended to move
when the Depot was broken up. I had determined, as I have elsewhere
informed the reader, to penetrate to the westward, in the hope of finding
Lake Torrens connected with some more extensive and more central body of
water; and I thought it would be satisfactory to ascertain, as nearly as
possible, the distance of that basin from the Darling, and in so doing to
unite the eastern and western surveys. I had assumed Sir Thomas
Mitchell's position at Williorara as correct, and had taken the most
careful bearings from that point to the Depot, and the position in which
they fixed it differed but little from the result of the many lunars I
took during my stay there. As I purpose giving the elements of all my
calculations, those more qualified than myself to judge on these matters,
will correct me if I have been in error; but, as the mean of my lunars
was so close to the majority of the single lunars, I cannot think they
are far from the truth. Be that as it may, I assumed my position at the
Depot to be in lat. 29 degrees 40 minutes 14 seconds S. and in long. 141
degrees 29 minutes 41 seconds E., the variation being 5 degrees 14
minutes East. Allowing for the variation, I directed Mr. Stuart to run
the chain line on a bearing of 55 degrees to the west of north, which I
intended to cut a little to the west of the park-like and grassy plain at
the termination of the creek I had traced in that direction. By supplying
the party with water from the camp, I enabled them to prolong the line to
30 miles.

On the 15th of June I commenced my preparations for moving; not that I
had any reason so to do, but because I could not bring myself to believe
that the drought would continue much longer. The felloes and spokes of
the wheels of the drays had shrunk to nothing, and it was with great
difficulty that we wedged them up; but the boat, which had been so long
exposed to an ardent sun, had, to appearance at least, been but little
injured.

As it became necessary to point out the drays that were to go with the
home returning party, I was obliged to break my intentions to Mr. Poole,
who I also proposed sending in charge of them. He was much affected, but,
seeing the necessity of the measure, said that he was ready to obey my
orders in all things. I directed Mr. Piesse to weigh out and place apart
the supplies that would be required for Mr. Poole and his men, and to
pack the provisions we should retain in the most compact order. On
examining our bacon we found that it had lost more than half its weight,
and had now completely saturated the bran in which it had been packed.
Our flour had lost more than 8 per cent., and the tea in a much greater
proportion.

The most valuable part of our stock were the sheep, they had kept in
excellent condition, and seldom weighed less than 55 lbs. or 65 lbs.; but
their flesh was perfectly tasteless. Still they were a most valuable
stock, and we had enough remaining to give the men a full allowance; for
the parties employed on detached excursions, could only take a day or
two's supply with them, and in consequence a quantity of back rations, if
I may so term them, were constantly accumulating.

Mr. Poole's reduced state of health rendered it necessary that a dray
should be prepared for his transport, and I requested Mr. Browne to
superintend every possible arrangement for his comfort. A dray was
accordingly lined with sheep skins, and had a flannel tilt, as the nights
were exceedingly cold, and he could not be moved to a fire. I had also a
swing cot made, with pullies to raise him up when he should feel disposed
to change his position.

Whilst these necessary preparations were being forwarded, I was engaged
writing my public despatches.

In my communication to the Governor of South Australia, I expressed a
desire that a supply of provisions might be forwarded to Williorara by
the end of December, about which period I hoped I should be on my return
from the interior. I regretted exceedingly putting her Majesty's
Government to this additional cost, but I trust a sufficient excuse will
have been found for me in the foregoing pages. I would rather that my
bones had been left to bleach in that desert than have yielded an inch of
the ground I had gained at so much expense and trouble.

The 27th of June completed the fifth month of our detention at the Depot,
and the prospect of our removal appeared to be as distant as ever; there
were, it is true, more clouds, but they passed over us without breaking.
The month of July, however, opened with every indication of a change, the
sky was generally overcast, and although we had been so often
disappointed, I had a presentiment that the then appearances would not
vanish without rain.

About this time Mr. Poole, whose health on the whole was improving, had a
severe attack of inflammation, which Mr. Browne subdued with great
difficulty. After this attack he became exceedingly restless, and
expressed a desire to be moved from the tent in which he had so long been
confined, to the underground room, but as that rude apartment was
exceedingly cold at night, I thought it advisable to have a chimney built
to it before he was taken there. It was not until the 12th that it was
ready for him. As the men were carrying him across the camp towards the
room he was destined to occupy for so short a time, I pointed out the
pyramid to him, and it is somewhat singular, that the first drops of
rain, on the continuance of which our deliverance depended, fell as the
men were bearing him along.

Referring back to the early part of the month, I may observe that the
indications of a breaking up of the drought, became every day more
apparent.

It was now clear, indeed, that the sky was getting surcharged with
moisture, and it is impossible for me to describe the intense anxiety
that prevailed in the camp. On the morning of the 3rd the firmament was
again cloudy, but the wind shifted at noon to west, and the sun set in a
sky so clear that we could hardly believe it had been so lately overcast.
On the following morning he rose bright and clear as he had set, and we
had a day of surpassing fineness, like a spring day in England.

The night of the 6th was the coldest night we experienced at the Depot,
when the thermometer descended to 24 degrees. On the 7th a south wind
made the barometer rise to 30 degrees 180 minutes, and with it despair
once more stared us in the face, for with the wind in that quarter there
was no hope of rain. On the 8th it still blew heavily from the south, and
the barometer rose to 30 degrees 200 minutes; but the evening was calm
and frosty, and the sky without a cloud. I may be wearying my reader, by
entering thus into the particulars of every change that took place in the
weather at this, to us, intensely anxious period, but he must excuse me;
my narrative may appear dull, and should not have been intruded on the
notice of the public, had I not been influenced by a sense of duty to all
concerned.

No one but those who were with me at that trying time and in that fearful
solitude, can form an idea of our feelings. To continue then, on the
morning of the 9th it again blew fresh from the south, the sky was
cloudless even in the direction of Mount Serle, and all appearance of
rain had passed away.

On the 10th, to give a change to the current of my thoughts, and for
exercise, I walked down the Depot creek with Mr. Browne, and turning
northwards up the main branch when we reached the junction of the two
creeks, we continued our ramble for two or three miles. I know not why it
was, that, on this occasion more than any other, we should have
contemplated the scene around us, unless it was that the peculiar
tranquillity of the moment made a greater impression on our minds.
Perhaps the death-like silence of the scene at that moment led us to
reflect, whilst gazing on the ravages made by the floods, how fearfully
that silence must sometimes be broken by the roar of waters and of winds.
Here, as in other places, we observed the trunks of trees swept down from
the hills, lodged high in the branches of the trees in the neighbourhood
of the creek, and large accumulations of rubbish lying at their butts,
whilst the line of inundation extended so far into the plains that the
country must on such occasions have the appearance of an inland sea. The
winds on the other hand had stripped the bark from the trees to windward
(a little to the south of west), as if it had been shaved off with an
instrument, but during our stay at the Depot we had not experienced any
unusual visitation, as a flood really would have been; for any torrent,
such as that which it was evident sometimes swells the creek, would have
swept us from our ground, since the marks of inundation reached more than
a mile beyond our encampment, and the trunk of a large gum-tree was
jambed between the branches of one overhanging the creek near us at an
altitude exceeding the height of our tents.

On the 11th the wind shifted to the east, the whole sky becoming suddenly
overcast, and on the morning of the 12th it was still at east, but at
noon veered round to the north, when a gentle rain set in, so gentle that
it more resembled a mist, but this continued all the evening and during
the night. It ceased however at 10 a.m. of the 13th, when the wind
shifted a little to the westward of north. At noon rain again commenced,
and fell steadily throughout the night, but although the ground began to
feel the effects of it, sufficient had not fallen to enable us to move.
Yet, how thankful was I for this change, and how earnestly did I pray
that the Almighty would still farther extend his mercy to us, when I laid
my head on my pillow. All night it poured down without any intermission,
and as morning dawned the ripple of waters in a little gully close to our
tents, was a sweeter and more soothing sound than the softest melody I
ever heard. On going down to the creek in the morning I found that it had
risen five inches, and the ground was now so completely saturated that I
no longer doubted the moment of our liberation had arrived.

I had made every necessary preparation for Mr. Poole's departure on the
13th, and as the rain ceased on the morning of the 14th the home
returning party mustered to leave us. Mr. Poole felt much when I went to
tell him that the dray in which he was to be conveyed, was ready for his
reception. I did all that I could to render his mind easy on every point,
and allowed him to select the most quiet and steady bullocks for the dray
he was to occupy; together with the most careful driver in the party. I
also consented to his taking Joseph, who was the best man I had, to
attend personally upon him, and Mr. Browne put up for his use all the
little comforts we could spare. I cheered him with the hope of returning
to meet us after we should have terminated our labours, and assured him
that I considered his services on the duty I was about to send him as
valuable and important as if he continued with me. He was lifted on his
stretcher into the dray, and appeared gratified at the manner in which it
had been arranged. I was glad to see that his feelings did not give way
at this painful moment; on my ascending the dray, however, to bid him
adieu, he wept bitterly, but expressed his hope that we should succeed in
our enterprise.

As I knew his mind would be agitated, and that his greatest trial would
be on the first day, I requested Mr. Browne to accompany him, and to
return to me on the following day. On Mr. Poole's departure I prepared
for our own removal, and sent Flood after the horses, but having an
abundance of water everywhere, they had wandered, and he returned with
them too late for me to move. He said, that in crossing the rocky range
he heard a roaring noise, and that on going to the glen he saw the waters
pouring down, foaming and eddying amongst the rocks, adding that he was
sure the floods would be down upon us ere long. An evident proof that
however light the rain appeared to be, an immense quantity must have
fallen, and I could not but hope and believe that it had been general.

Before we left the Depot Flood's prediction was confirmed, and the
channel which, if the drought had continued a few days longer, would have
been perfectly waterless, was thus suddenly filled up to the brim; no
stronger instance of the force of waters in these regions can be adduced
than this, no better illustration of the character of the creeks can be
given. The head of the Depot creek was not more than eight miles from us,
its course to its junction with the main creek was not ten, yet it was a
watercourse that without being aware of its commencement or termination
might have been laid down by the traveller as a river. Such however is
the uncertain nature of the rivers of those parts of the continent of
Australia over which I have wandered. I would not trust the largest
farther than the range of vision; they are deceptive all of them, the
offsprings of heavy rains, and dependent entirely on local circumstances
for their appearance and existence.

Having taken all our circumstances into consideration, our heart-breaking
detention, the uncertainty that involved our future proceedings, and the
ceaseless anxiety of mind to which we should be subjected, recollecting
also that Mr. Browne had joined me for a limited period only, and that a
protracted journey might injure his future prospects, I felt that it was
incumbent on me to give him the option of returning with Mr. Poole if he
felt disposed to do so, but he would not desert me, and declined all my
suggestions.

On the morning of the 16th I struck the tents, which had stood for six
months less eleven days, and turned my back on the Depot in grateful
thankfulness for our release from a spot where my feelings and patience
had been so severely tried. When we commenced our journey, we found that
our progress would be slow, for the ground was dreadfully heavy, and the
bullocks, so long unaccustomed to draught, shrunk from their task. One of
the drays stuck in the little gully behind our camp, and we were yet
endeavouring to get it out, when Mr. Browne returned from his attendance
on Mr. Poole, and I was glad to find that he had left him in tolerable
spirits, and with every hope of his gradual improvement.

As we crossed the creek, between the Depot and the glen, we found that
the waters, as Flood predicted, had descended so far, and waded through
them to the other side. We then rode to the glen, to see how it looked
under such a change, and remained some time watching the current as it
swept along.

On our return to the party I found that it would be impossible to make a
lengthened journey; for, having parted with two drays, we had necessarily
been obliged to increase the loads on the others, so that they sank deep
into the ground. I therefore halted, after having gone about four miles
only.

About seven o'clock p.m. we were surprised by the sudden return of
Joseph, from the home returning party; but, still more so at the
melancholy nature of the information he had to communicate. Mr. Poole, he
said, had breathed his last at three o'clock. This sad event necessarily
put a stop to my movements, and obliged me to consider what arrangements
I should now have to make.

It appeared, from Joseph's account, that Mr. Poole had not shewn any
previous indications of approaching dissolution. About a quarter before
three he had risen to take some medicine, but suddenly observed to Joseph
that he thought he was dying, and falling on his back, expired without a
struggle.

Early on the morning of this day, and before we ourselves started, I had
sent Mr. Stuart and Mr. Piesse in advance with the chainers, to carry on
the chaining. On the morning of the 17th, before I mounted my horse to
accompany Mr. Browne to examine the remains of our unfortunate companion,
which I determined to inter at the Depot, I sent a man to recall them.

The suddenness of Mr. Poole's death surprised both Mr. Browne and myself;
but the singular fairness of his countenance left no doubt on his mind
but that internal haemorrhage had been the immediate cause of that event.

On the 17th the whole party, which had so lately separated, once more
assembled at the Depot. We buried Mr. Poole under a Grevillia that stood
close to our underground room; his initials, and the year, are cut in it
above the grave, "J. P. 1845," and he now sleeps in the desert.

The sad event I have recorded, obliged me most reluctantly to put Mr.
Piesse in charge of the home returning party, for I had had every reason
to be satisfied with him, and I witnessed his departure with regret. A
more trustworthy, or a more anxious officer could not have been attached
to such a service as that in which he was employed.

The funeral of Mr. Poole was a fitting close to our residence at the
Depot. At the conclusion of that ceremony the party again separated, and
I returned to my tent, to prepare for moving on the morrow.

At 9 a.m. accordingly of the 18th we pushed on to the N.W. The ground had
become much harder, but the travelling was still heavy. At three miles we
passed a small creek, about seven miles from the Depot, at which I
intended to have halted on leaving that place. We passed over stony
plains, or low, sandy, and swampy ground, since the valleys near the
hills opened out as we receded from them. On the 19th I kept the chained
line, but in consequence of the heavy state of the ground we did not get
on more than 8 1/2 miles. The character of the country was that of open
sandy plains, the sand being based upon a stiff, tenacious clay,
impervious to water. With the exception of a few salsolae and atriplex,
the plains were exceedingly bare, and had innumerable patches of water
over them, not more than two or three inches deep. At intervals pure sand
hills occurred, on which there were a few stunted casuarina and mimosae,
but a good deal of grass and thousands of young plants already springing
up. As the ground was still very soft, I should not have moved on the
20th, but was anxious to push on. Early in the day, and at less than 18
miles from the hills, we encountered the sandy ridges, and found the pull
over them much worse than over the flats. The wheels of the drays sank
deep into the ground, and in straining to get them clear we broke seven
yokes. Two flights of swans, and a small flight of ducks, passed over our
heads at dusk, coming from the W.N.W. The brushes were full of the
Calodera, but being very wild we could not procure a specimen.

The chainers had no difficulty in keeping pace with us, and on the 26th
we found ourselves in lat. 29 degrees 6 minutes, having then chained 61
miles on a bearing of 55 degrees to the west of north, as originally
determined upon. Finding that I had thus passed to the south-west of the
grassy plain, I halted, and rode with Flood to the eastward; when at
seven miles we descended into it, and finding that there was an abundance
of water in the creek (the channel we had before noticed), I returned to
Mr. Browne; but as it was late in the afternoon when we regained the
tents, we did not move that evening, and the succeeding day being Sunday
we also remained stationary. We had halted close to one of those clear
patches on which the rain water lodges, but it had dried up, and there
was only a little for our use in a small gutter not far distant. Whilst
we were here encamped a little jerboa was chased by the dogs into a hole
close to the drays; which, with four others, we succeeded in capturing,
by digging for them. This beautiful little animal burrows in the ground
like a mouse, but their habitations have several passages, leading
straight, like the radii of a circle, to a common centre, to which a
shaft is sunk from above, so that there is a complete circulation of air
along the whole. We fed our little captives on oats, on which they
thrived, and became exceedingly tame. They generally huddled together in
a corner of their box, but, when darting from one side to the other, they
hopped on their hind legs, which, like the kangaroo, were much longer
than the fore, and held the tail perfectly straight and horizontal. At
this date they were a novelty to us, but we subsequently saw great
numbers of them, and ascertained that the natives frequented the sandy
ridges in order to procure them for food. Those we succeeded in capturing
were, I am sorry to say, lost from neglect.

On Monday I conducted the whole party to the new depot, which for the
present I shall call the Park, but as I was very unwilling that any more
time should be lost in pushing to the west, I instructed Mr. Stuart to
change the direction of the chained line to 75 degrees to the west of
south, direct upon Mount Hopeless, and to continue it until I should
overtake him. In this operation Mr. Browne kindly volunteered to assist
Mr. Stuart, as the loss of Mr. Piesse had so reduced my strength.

By the 30th I had arranged the camp in its new position, and felt myself
at liberty to follow after the chainers. Before I left, however, I
directed a stockyard to be made, in which to herd the cattle at night,
and instructed Davenport to prepare some ground for a garden, with a view
to planting it out with vegetables--pumpkins and melons. I left the camp
with Flood, at 10 a.m. on the above day, judging that Mr. Browne was then
about 42 miles a-head of me, and stopped for the night in a little
sheltered valley between two sand hills, after a ride of 28 miles. The
country continued unchanged. Valleys or flats, more or less covered with
water, alternated with sandy ridges, on some of which there was no
scarcity of grass.

We had not ridden far on the following morning when a partial change was
perceptible in the aspect of the country. The flats became broader and
the sand hills lower, but this change was temporary. We gradually rose
somewhat from the general level, and crossed several sand hills, higher
than any we had seen. These sand hills had very precipitous sides and
broken summits, and being of a bright red colour, they looked in the
distance like long lines of dead brick walls, being perfectly bare, or
sparingly covered with spinifex at the base. They succeeded each other so
rapidly, that it was like crossing the tops of houses in some street; but
they were much steeper to the eastward than to the westward, and
successive gales appeared to have lowered them, and in some measure to
have filled up the intervening flats with the sand from their summits.

The basis of the country was sandstone, on which clay rested in a thin
layer, and on this clay the sandy ridges reposed.

We overtook Mr. Browne about half an hour before sunset, and all halted
together, when the men had completed their tenth mile.

On the 1st of August we did not find the country so heavy or so wet as it
had been. It was indeed so open and denuded of every thing like a tree or
bush, that we had some difficulty in finding wood to boil our tea. In the
afternoon when we halted the men had chained 46 miles on the new bearing,
but as yet we could not see any range or hill to the westward.

About two hours before we halted Mr. Browne and I surprised some natives
on the top of a sand hill, two of them saw us approaching and ran away,
the third could not make his escape before we were upon him, but he was
dreadfully alarmed. In order to allay his fears Mr. Browne dismounted and
walked up to him, whilst I kept back. On this the poor fellow began to
dance, and to call out most vehemently, but finding that all he could do
was to no purpose he sat down and began to cry. We managed however to
pacify him, so much that he mustered courage to follow us, with his two
companions, to our halting place. These wanderers of the desert had their
bags full of jerboas which they had captured on the hills. They could not
indeed have had less than from 150 to 200 of these beautiful little
animals, so numerous are they on the sand hills, but it would appear that
the natives can only go in pursuit of them after a fall of rain, such as
that we had experienced. There being then water, the country, at other
times impenetrable, is then temporarily thrown open to them, and they
traverse it in quest of the jerboa and other quadrupeds. Our friends
cooked all they had in hot sand, and devoured them entire, fur, skin,
entrails and all, only breaking away the under jaw and nipping off the
tail with their teeth.

They absolutely managed before sunset to finish their whole stock, and
then took their departure, having, I suppose, gratified both their
appetite and their curiosity. They were all three circumcised and spoke a
different language from that of the hill natives, and came, they told us,
from the west.

As we advanced the country became extremely barren, and surface water was
very scarce, and the open ground, entirely denuded of timber, wore the
most desolate appearance. If we had hitherto been in a region destitute
of inhabitants it seemed as if we were now getting into a more populous
district. About noon of the 2nd, as Mr. Browne and I were riding in front
of the chainers, we heard a shout to our right, and on looking in that
direction saw a party of natives assembled on a sand hill, to the number
of fourteen. As we advanced towards them they retreated, but at length
made a stand as if to await our approach. They were armed with spears,
and on Mr. Browne dismounting to walk towards them, formed themselves
into a circle, in the centre of which were two old men, round whom they
danced. Thinking that Mr. Browne might run some risk if he went near, I
called him back, and as I really had not time for ceremonies, we rejoined
the chainers, beng satisfied also that if the natives felt disposed to
communicate with us, they would do so of their own accord; nor was I
mistaken in this, for, judging, I suppose, from our leaving them that we
did not meditate any hostility, seven of their number followed us, and as
Mr. Browne was at that time in advance, I gave my horse to one of the men
and again went towards them, but it was with great difficulty that I got
them to a parley, after which they sat down and allowed me to approach,
though from the surprise they exhibited I imagine they had never seen a
white man before. They spoke a language different from any I had heard,
had lost two of the front teeth of the upper jaw, and had large scars on
the breast. I could not gather any information from them, or
satisfactorily ascertain from what quarter they came; staying with them
for a short time therefore, and giving them a couple of knives I left
them, and after following abreast of us, for a mile or two, they also
turned to the north, and disappeared.

The night of the 2nd August was exceedingly cold, with the wind from the
N.E. (an unusual quarter from which to have a low temperature) and there
was a thick hoar frost on the morning of the 3rd. Why the winds should
have been so cold blowing from that quarter, whence our hottest winds
also came, it is difficult to say; but at this season of the year, and in
this line, they were invariably so.

Near the flat on which we stopped on the evening of the 2nd there was a
hill considerably elevated above the others; which, after unsaddling and
letting out the horses, Mr. Browne and I were induced to ascend. From it
we saw a line of high and broken ranges to the S.S.W. but they were very
distant. At three and a half miles from this point we crossed a salt
water creek, having pools in it of great depth, but so clear that we
could see to the bottom; and wherever our feet sank in the mud, salt
water immediately oozed up. There were some box-trees growing near this
creek, which came from the north, and fell towards the ranges. At half a
mile further we crossed a small fresh water creek, and intermediate
between the two was a lagoon of about a mile in length, but not more than
three inches in depth. This lagoon, if it might so be called, from its
size only, had been filled by the recent rains; but was so thick and
muddy, from being continually ruffled by the winds, that it was unfit for
use. The banks of the fresh water creek were crowded with water-hens,
similar to those which visited Adelaide in such countless numbers the
year before I proceeded into the interior (1843). They were running about
like so many fowls; but, on being alarmed, took flight and went south.

The fresh water creek (across which it was an easy jump) joined the salt
water creek a little below where we struck it, and was the first creek of
the kind we had seen since we left the Depot, in a distance of more than
100 miles, and up to this point we had entirely subsisted on the surface
water left by the rains. The country we now passed through was of a
salsolaceous character, like a low barren sea coast. The sand hills were
lower and broader than they had been, and their sides were cut by deep
fissures made by heavy torrents. From a hill, about a mile from our
halting place on this day, we again saw the ranges, which had been
sighted the day before. South of us, and distant about a mile, there was
a large dry lagoon, white with salt, and another of a similar kind to the
west of it.

These changes in the character of the country convinced me that we should
soon arrive at some more important one. On the 4th we advanced as usual
on a bearing of 75 degrees to the west of south, having then chained 65
miles upon it. At about three miles we observed a sand hill in front of
us, beyond which no land was to be seen, as if the country dipped, and
there was a great hollow. On arriving at this sand hill our further
progress westward was checked by the intervention of an immense shallow
and sandy basin, upon which we looked down from the place where we stood.
The hills we had seen the day before were still visible through a good
telescope, but we could only distinguish their outlines; in addition to
them, however, there was a nearer flattopped range, more to the northward
and westward of the main range, which latter still bore S.S.W., and
appeared to belong to a high and broken chain of mountains. The sandy
basin was from ten to twelve miles broad, but destitute of water opposite
to us, although there were, both to the southward and northward, sheets
of water as blue as indigo and as salt as brine. These detached sheets
were fringed round with samphire bushes with which the basin was also
speckled over. There was a gradual descent of about a mile and a half, to
the margin of the basin, the intervening ground being covered with low
scrub. My first object was, to ascertain if we could cross this feature,
which extended southwards beyond the range of vision, but turned to the
westward in a northerly direction, in the shape in which Mr. Eyre has
laid Lake Torrens down. For this purpose Mr. Browne and I descended into
it. The bed was composed of sand and clay, the latter lying in large
masses, and deeply grooved by torrents of rain. There was not any great
quantity of salt to be seen, but it was collected at the bottom of
gutters, and, no doubt, was more or less mixed with the soil. At about
four miles we were obliged to dismount; and, tying our horses so as to
secure them, walked on for another mile, when we found the ground too
soft for our weight and were obliged to return; and, as it was now late,
we commenced a search for water, and having found a small supply in a
little hollow, at a short distance from the flag, we went to it and
encamped. The length of the chain line to the flag staff was 70 3/4
miles, which with the 61 we had measured from the Depot, made 131 3/4
miles in all; the direct distance, therefore, from the Depot to the flag
staff, was about 115 miles, on a bearing of 9 1/2 degrees to the North of
West or W. 3/4 N.

My object in the journey I had thus undertaken, was not so much to
measure the distance between the two places, as to ascertain if the
country to the north-west of Lake Torrens, on the borders of which I
presumed I had arrived, was practicable or not, and whether it was
connected with any more central body of water. It behoved me to ascertain
these two points with as little delay as possible, for the surface water
was fast drying up, and we were in danger of having our retreat cut off.
Whether the country was practicable or not, in the direction I was
anxious to take, it was clear that I could not have penetrated as far as
I then was, with the heavy drays, with any prudence.

To be more satisfied, however, as to the nature of the country to the
westward, I rode towards the N.E. angle of the Sandy Basin, on the
morning of the 4th, sending Mr. Stuart southwards, to examine it in that
direction; but, neither of these journeys proving satisfactory, I
determined on fixing the position of the hills in reference to our
chained line, and then return to the Depot, to prepare for a more
extensive exploration of the N.W. interior. I found the country perfectly
impracticable to the N.W., and that it was impossible to ascertain the
real character of this Sandy Basin. On the other side of it the country
appeared to be wooded; beyond the wood there was a sudden fall; and, as
far as I could judge, this singular feature must have been connected with
Spencer's Gulf, before the passage that evidently existed once between
them, was filled up.

On the 5th I ran a base line from the end of the chained line to the
north-west, on a bearing of 317 degrees, to the only prominent sand hill
in that direction, distant from the staff 5 1/2 miles, from the
extremities of which the ranges bore as follow:--


BEARINGS FROM THE FLAG STAFF AT THE TERMINATION OF THE CHAINED LINE.

To a bluff point in the main range     198.00
To the north point of the south range  188.40
To the north point                     182.50
To the highest point in south range    187.00
To the flat-topped hills               231.00
To the north-west point of the lake    283.00
To the south point                     158.00

BEARINGS FROM THE NORTH-WEST EXTREMITY.

To the bluff                           194.30
To the north point of south range      184.00
To the south                           183.00
To the flat-topped hills               176.30
To the north-west extremity of lake    275.00


The angles given by these bearings were necessarily very acute, but that
could not be avoided. With the bearings, however, from a point in our
chain line, 16 miles to the rear, they gave the distance of the more
distant ranges as 65 miles, that of the nearer ones as 33.

Our latitude, by altitudes of Vega and Altair, on the night of the 5th of
August, was 29 degrees 14 minutes 39 seconds, and 29 degrees 15 minutes
14 seconds; by our bearings, therefore, the flat-topped hills were in
lat. 29 degrees 33 minutes, and the bluff, in the centre of the distant
chain, where there appeared to be a break in it, in 30 degrees 10
minutes, and in long. 139 degrees 12 minutes.

Presuming our Depot to have been in lat. 29 degrees 40 minutes 10
seconds, and in long. 141 degrees 30 minutes E., and allowing 52 1/2
miles to a degree, our long. by measurement was 139 degrees 20 minutes E.
I had ascertained the boiling point of water at our camp, about 100 feet
above the level of the basin to be 212 75/100; which made our position
there considerably below the level of the sea: but in using the
instrument on the following morning in the bed of the basin itself, I
unfortunately broke it. As, however, the result of the observation at our
bivouac gave so unusual a depression, and as, if it was correct, Lake
Torrens must be very considerably below the level of the sea, I can only
state that the barometer had been compared with one in Adelaide by Capt.
Frome, and that, allowing for its error, its boiling point on a level
with the sea had been found by him to be 212 25/100.

On the 6th I left the neighbourhood of this place, and stopped at 16
miles to verify our former bearings. The country appeared more desolate
on our return to the camp than when we were advancing. Almost all the
surface water had dried up, or now consisted of stagnant mud only, so
that we were obliged to push on for the Park, at which we arrived on the
8th. On the 10th we completed the year, it being the anniversary of our
departure from Adelaide.

I found that every thing had gone on regularly in the camp during my
absence, and that the cattle and sheep had been duly attended to.
Davenport had also dug and planned out a fine garden, which he had
planted with seeds, but none had as yet made their appearance above the
ground.

The day after our return to the camp we were visited by two natives, who
were attracted towards us by the sound of the axe. They were crossing the
plain, and were still at a considerable distance when they observed
Davenport pointing a telescope, on which they stopped, but on my sending
a man to meet them, came readily forward. We were in hopes that we should
see our old friend in the person of one of them, but were disappointed;
nor would they confirm any of his intelligence, neither could they
recognise any of the fish in the different plates I had shewn him. In
truth, we could get nothing out of these stupid fellows; but, as we gave
them plenty to eat, they proposed bringing some other natives to taste
our mutton, on the following day; and, leaving us, returned, as they
said, with their father and brother, the latter a fine young lad. But
neither from the old man could we gather any information, as to the
nature of the country before us. These people were circumcised, like many
others we had seen, but were in no way disfigured by the loss of their
teeth or cuts. I can say as little for their cleanliness as for their
information, since they melted the fat we gave them in troughs, and drank
it as if it had been so much oil, emptying what remained on their heads,
rubbing the grease into their hair, and over their bodies.

I felt satisfied on mature reflection that if the country continued to
any distance either to the northward or westward, such as we had found it
on our recent journey, it would be highly imprudent to venture into it
with the whole party. Setting aside the almost utter impossibility of
pulling the drays over the heavy sand ridges by which our route would be
intersected, little or no surface water now remained. The ground was
becoming as dry and parched as it had been before the fall of rain. I
determined therefore before I again struck the tents to examine the
country to the north-west, and not incautiously to hazard the safety of
the party by leading it into a region from which I might find it
difficult to retreat. As soon therefore as I had run up the charts, I
prepared for this journey. Our position at the new Depot was in latitude
29 degrees 6 minutes 30 seconds, and in longitude 141 degrees 5 minutes 8
seconds, it therefore appeared to me if I ran on a bearing of 45 degrees
to the west of north, I should gain the 138th meridian about the centre
of the continent, and at the same time cross into the Tropics at the
desired point, and I felt certain that if there were any mountain chains
or ranges of hills to the westward of me connected with the north-east
angle of the continent I should be sure to discover them.

In preparing for this important journey, on which it was evident the
success of the expedition would depend, I took more than ordinary
precautions. I purposed giving the charge of the camp to Mr. Stuart.--I
had established it on a small sandy rise, whereon we found five or six
native huts. This spot was at the northern extremity of the Park, but a
little advanced into it. Immediately in front of the tents there was a
broad sheet of water shaded by gum-trees, and the low land between this
and the sand hills was also chequered with them. The position was in
every way eligible. The open grassy field or plain stood full in view,
and the men could see the cattle browsing on it, but I directed Mr.
Stuart never to permit them to be without one of the men as a guard, and
to have them secured nightly in the stockyard. In order to provide for
the further security of the camp, I marked out the lines, for the
erection of a stockade, wherein I directed Mr. Stuart to pitch one of the
bell tents. In this tent I instructed him to deposit the arms and
ammunition, and to consider it as the rallying point in the event of any
attack by the natives, in which case I told him his first step would be
to secure the sheep. I desired that the stockade might be commenced as
soon as I left, and that it should be built of palisades 4 1/2 feet above
the ground, and arranged close together. In such a fortification I
considered that the men would be perfectly safe, and as the stockyard was
in a short range of the carbines I felt the cattle would be sufficiently
protected.

I selected Flood, Lewis, and Joseph to accompany me, and took 15 weeks
provisions. This supply required all the horses but one, for although
they had so long a rest at the old Depot they were far from being strong,
since for the last three months they had lived on salsolaceous herbs, or
on the shoots of shrubs, so that although apparently in good condition
they had no work in them. My last instructions to Morgan were to prepare
and paint the boat in the event of her being required.




CHAPTER VIII.



LEAVE THE DEPOT FOR THE NORTH-WEST--SCARCITY OF WATER--FOSSIL
LIMESTONE--ARRIVE AT THE FIRST CREEK--EXTENSIVE PLAINS--SUCCESSION OF
CREEKS--FLOODED CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY--POND WITH FISH--STERILE
COUNTRY--GRASSY PLAINS--INTREPID NATIVE--COUNTRY APPARENTLY
IMPROVES--DISAPPOINTMENTS--WATER FOUND--APPEARANCE OF THE STONY
DESERT--NIGHT THEREON--THE EARTHY PLAIN--HILLS RAISED BY
REFRACTION--RECOMMENCEMENT OF THE SAND RIDGES--THEIR UNDEVIATING
REGULARITY--CONJECTURES AS TO THE DESERT--RELATIVE POSITION OF LAKE
TORRENS--CONCLUDING REMARKS.


On the morning of the 14th Mr. Browne and I mounted our horses, and left
the camp at 9 a.m., followed by the men I had selected, and crossing the
grassy plain in a N.W. direction, soon found ourselves amidst sand hills
and scrub.

As I have stated I had determined to preserve a course of 45 degrees to
the west of north, or in other words a north-west course, but the reader
will readily believe that in such a country I had no distant object on
which to rely. We were therefore obliged to take fresh bearings with
great precision from almost every sand-hill, for on the correctness of
these bearings, together with our latitude, we had to depend for our true
position. We were indeed like a ship at sea, without the advantage of a
steady compass.

Throughout the whole day of our departure from the camp we traversed a
better country than that between it and Lake Torrens, insomuch that there
was more grass. Sand ridges and flats succeeded each other, but the
former were not so broken and precipitous or the latter so barren, as on
our line to the westward, and about four miles from the camp we passed a
pool of water to our right. At five miles we observed a new melaleuca,
similar to the one I had remarked when to the north with Joseph, growing
on the skirts of the flats, but the shrubs for the most part consisted of
hakea and mimosae with geum and many other minor plants. For a time the
ridges were smooth on their sides, and a quantity of young green grass
was springing up on them. At nine miles we crossed some stony plains, and
halted after a ride of 26 miles without water.

On the 15th a strong and bitterly cold wind blew from the westward as we
passed through a country differing in no material respect from that of
the day before. Spinifex generally covered the sand ridges, which looked
like ocean swells rising before us, and many were of considerable height.
At six miles we came to a small pool of water, where we breakfasted. On
leaving this we dug a hole and let the remainder of the water into it, in
the hope of its longer continuance, and halted after a long journey in a
valley in which there was a kind of watercourse with plenty of water, our
latitude being 28 degrees 21 minutes 39 seconds. Before we left this
place we cut a deep square hole, into which as before we drained the
water, that by diminishing its surface we might prevent the too speedy
evaporation of it, in case of our being forced back from the want of
water in the interior, since that element was becoming more scarce every
day. We saw but little change in the character of the country generally
as we rode through it, but observed that it was more open to the right,
in which direction we passed several extensive plains. There were heaps
of small pebbles also of ironstone and quartz on some of the flats we
crossed. We halted at the foot of a sand hill, where there was a good
deal of grass, after a vain search for water, of which we did not see a
drop during the day. The night of the 17th, like the preceding one, was
bitterly cold, with the wind at S.W. During the early part of this day we
passed over high ridges of sand, thickly covered with spinifex, and a new
polygonum, but subsequently crossed some flats of much greater extent
than usual, and of much better soil, but the country again fell off in
quality and appearance, although on the whole the tract we had crossed on
our present journey was certainly better than that we traversed in going
to Lake Torrens. We halted rather earlier than usual, at a creek
containing a long pond of water between two and three feet deep. The
ground near it was barren, if I except the polygonum that was growing
near it. The horses however found a sufficiency to eat, and we were
prevented the necessity of digging at this point, in consequence of the
depth of the water. We observed some fossil limestone cropping out of the
ground in several places as we rode along, and the flats were on many
parts covered with small rounded nodules of lime, similar to those I have
noticed as being strewed over the fossil cliffs of the Murray. It
appeared to me as I rode over some of the flats that the drainage was to
the south, but it was exceedingly difficult in so level and monotonous a
region to form a satisfactory opinion. We saw several emus in the course
of the day, and a solitary crow, but scarcely any other of the feathered
tribe. There was an universal sameness in the vegetation, if I except the
angophora, growing on the sand hills and superseding the acacia.

On the 18th the morning was very cold, with the wind at cast, and a
cloudy sky. We started at eight; and after crossing three very high sand
ridges, descended into a plain of about three miles in breadth, extending
on either hand to the north and south for many miles. At the further
extremity of this plain we observed a line of box-trees, lying, or rather
stretching, right across our course; but as they were thicker to the S.W.
than at the point towards which we were riding, I sent Flood to examine
the plain in that direction. In the mean time Mr. Browne and I rode
quietly on; and on arriving at the trees, found that they were growing in
the broad bed of a creek, and were overhanging a beautiful sheet of
water, such as we had not seen for many a day. It was altogether too
important a feature to pass without further examination; I therefore
crossed, and halted on its west bank, and as soon as Flood returned, (who
had not seen any water,) but had ascertained that just below the trees,
the creek spreads over the plain, I sent him with Mr. Browne to trace it
up northward, the fall of the country apparently being from that point.
In the meantime we unloaded the horses, and put them out on better grass
than they had had for some time. On the opposite side of the creek, and
somewhat above us, there were two huts, and the claws of crayfish were
scattered about near them. There were also a few wild fowl and
Haemantopus sitting on the water, either unconscious of or indifferent to
our presence. This fine sheet of water was more than 60 yards broad by
about 120 long, but, as far as we could judge, it was shallow.

Mr. Browne returned to me in about three hours, having traced the creek
upwards until he lost its channel, as Flood had done on a large plain,
that extended northwards to the horizon. He observed the country was very
open in that direction, and had passed another pond of water, deeper but
not so large as that at which we had stopped, and surprised an old native
in his hut with two of his wives, from whom he learnt that there were
both hills and fish to the north.

Whilst Mr. Browne was away, I debated within myself whether or not to
turn from the course on which I had been running to trace this creek up.
The surface water was so very scarce, that I doubted the possibility of
our getting on; but was reluctant to deviate from the line on which I had
determined to penetrate, and I think that, generally, one seldom gains
anything in so doing. From Mr. Browne's account of the creek, its
character appeared to be doubtful, so that I no longer hesitated on my
onward course; but we remained stationary for the remainder of the day.

The evening of this day was beautifully fine, and during it many flights
of parrots and pigeons came to the water. Of the latter we shot several,
but they were very wild and wary. There was on the opposite side of the
creek a long grassy flat, with box-trees growing on it, together with a
new Bauhinia, which we saw here for the first time. On this grassy flat
there were a number of the water-hens we had noticed on the little
fresh-water creek near Lake Torrens. These birds were running about like
fowls all over the grass, but although they had been so tame as to occupy
the gardens and to run about the streets of Adelaide, they were now wild
enough.

Mr. Browne remarked that the females he had seen were, contrary to
general custom as regards that sex, deficient in the two front teeth of
the upper jaw, but that the teeth of the man were entire, and that he was
not otherwise disfigured. I was anxious to have seen these natives, and,
as their hut was not very far from us, we walked to it in the cool of the
afternoon, but they had left, and apparently gone to the N.E.; we found
some mussel shells amongst the embers of some old fire near it. Our
latitude at this point was 28 degrees 3 minutes S., at a distance of 86
miles from the Park.

We left on the morning of the 20th at an early hour, and after crossing
that portion of the plain lying to the westward, ascended a small conical
sand hill, that rose above the otherwise level summit of the ridge. From
this little sand hill we had our anticipations confirmed as to the low
nature of the country to the north as a medium point, but observing
another and a much higher point to the westward, we went to, and found
that the view extended to a much greater distance from it. The country
was very depressed, both to the north and northwest. The plains had
almost the character of lagoons, since it was evident they were sometimes
inundated, from the water mark on the sand hills, by which they were
partly separated from one another. Below us, on our course, there was a
large plain of about eight miles in breadth; but immediately at the foot
of the hill, which was very abrupt (being the terminating point of a
sandy ridge of which it was the northern extremity), there was a
polygonum flat. We there saw a beautiful parrot, but could not procure
it. The plain we next rode across was evidently subject to floods in many
parts; the soil was a mixture of sand and clay. There was a good deal of
grass here and there upon it, and box-trees stunted in their growth were
scattered very sparingly round about; but the country was otherwise
denuded of timber. There were large bare patches on the plains, that had
been full of water not long before, but too shallow to have lasted long,
and were now dry. We found several small pools, however, and halted at
one, after a journey of 17 miles, near some gum-trees.

The morning of the 20th was exceedingly calm, with the wind from the
west, but it had been previously from the opposite point. The channel of
the creek was broad, and we traced it to some distance on either hand,
but it contained no water, excepting that at which we stopped; but at
about two miles before we halted, Mr. Browne found a supply under some
gum-trees, a little to the right of our course, where we halted on our
return.

The Bauhinia here grew to the height of 16 to 20 feet, and was a very
pretty tree; the ends of its branches were covered with seed-pods, both
of this and the year before: it was a flat vessel, containing four or six
flat hard beans. I regretted, at this early stage of our journey, that
the horses were not up to much work, although we were very considerate
with them, but the truth is, that they had for about two or three months
before leaving the Depot, been living on pulpy vegetables, in which there
was no strength, they nevertheless looked in good condition. They had
become exceedingly tractable, and never wandered far from our fires;
Flood, however, watched them so narrowly that they could not have gone
far. Since the three days' rain in July, the sky was but little clouded,
but we now observed, that from whatever quarter the wind blew, a bank of
clouds would rise in the opposite direction--if from the east, in the
west, and vice versa--but these clouds invariably came against the wind,
and must consequently have been moving in an upper current.

On the 20th we commenced our journey early, that is to say, at 6 a.m.;
the sky was clear, the temperature mild, and the wind in the S.E.
quarter. We crossed plains of still greater extent than any we had
hitherto seen; their soil was similar to that on the flats of the
Darling, and vegetation seemed to suffer from their liability to
inundation. The only trees now to be seen were a few box-trees along
their skirts, and on the line of the creeks, which last were a perfectly
new feature in the country, and surprised me greatly. The tract we passed
over on this day was certainly more subject to overflow than usual. Large
flats of polygonum, and plains having rents and fissures in them,
succeeded those I have already described. At ten miles we intersected a
creek of considerable size, but without any water; just below where we
crossed its channel it spreads over a large flat and is lost. Proceeding
onwards, at a mile and a half, we ascended a line of sand hills, and from
them descended to firmer ground than that on which we had previously
travelled. At six miles we struck another creek with a broad and grassy
bed, on the banks of which we halted, at a small and muddy pool of water.
The trees on this creek were larger than usual and beautifully
umbrageous. It appeared as if coming from the N.E., and falling to the
N.W. There were many huts both above and below our bivouac, and
well-trodden paths from one angle of the creek to the other. All around
us, indeed, there were traces of natives, nor can there be any doubt, but
that at one season of the year or other, it is frequented by them in
great numbers. From a small contiguous elevation our view extended over
an apparently interminable plain in the line of our course. That of the
creek was marked by gum-trees, and I was not without hopes that we should
again have halted on it on the 21st, but we did not, for shortly after we
started it turned suddenly to the west, and we were obliged to leave it,
and crossed successive plains of a description similar to those we had
left behind, but with little or no vegetation upon them. At about five
miles we intersected a branch creek coming from the E.N.E., in which
there was a large but shallow pool of water. About a mile to the westward
of this channel we ascended some hills, in the composition of which there
was more clay than sand, and descended from them to a firm and grassy
plain of about three and a half miles in breadth. At the farther
extremity we crossed a line of sand hills, and at a mile and a half again
descended to lower ground, and made for some gum-trees at the western
extremity of the succeeding plain, on our old bearing of 55 degrees to
the west of north. There we intersected another creek with two pools of
water in it, and as there was also a sufficiency of grass we halted on
its banks.

The singular and rapid succession of these watercourses exceedingly
perplexed me, for we were in a country remote from any high lands, and
consequently in one not likely to give birth to such features, yet their
existence was a most fortunate circumstance for us. There can be no doubt
but that the rain, which enabled us to break up the old Depot and resume
our operations, had extended thus far, but all the surface water had
dried up, and if we had not found these creeks our progress into the
interior would have been checked. In considering their probable origin,
it struck me that they might have been formed by the rush of floods from
the extensive plains we had lately crossed. The whole country indeed over
which we had passed from the first creek, was without doubt very low, and
must sometimes be almost entirely under water, but what, it may be asked,
causes such inundation? Such indeed was the question I asked myself, but
I must say I could arrive at no satisfactory conclusion.

That these regions are subject to heavy rains I had not the slightest
doubt, but could the effect of heavy rains have produced these creeks,
short and uncertain in their course, rising apparently in one plain, to
spread over and terminate in another, for had we gone more to the
westward in our course than we did, it is probable we should never have
known of the existence of any of them. I was truly thankful that we had
thus fallen upon them, and considering how much our further success
depended on their continuance, I began to hope that we should find them a
permanent feature in the country.

About this period and two or three days previously, we observed a white
bank of clouds hanging upon the northern horizon, and extending from N.E.
to N.W. No wind affected it, but without in the least altering its shape,
which was arched like a bow, it gradually faded away about 3 p.m. Could
this bank have been over any inland waters?

At the point to which I have now brought the reader, we were in lat. 27
degrees 38 minutes S., and in long. 140 degrees 10 minutes by account,
and here, as I have observed, as in our journey to Lake Torrens, the N.E.
winds were invariably cold. On the 22nd we crossed the creek, and
traversed a large plain on the opposite side that was bounded in the
distance by a line of sand hills. On this plain were portions of ground
perfectly flat, raised some 12 or 18 inches above its general level; on
these, rhagodia bushes were growing, which in the distance looked like
large trees, in consequence of the strong refraction. The lower ground of
these plains had little or no vegetation upon it, but bore the appearance
of land on which water has lodged and subsided; being hard and baked in
some places, but cracked and blistered in others, and against the sides
of the higher portions of the plain, a line of sticks and rubbish had
been lodged, such as is left by a retiring tide, and from this it seemed
that the floods must have been about a foot deep on the plain when it was
last inundated. At 4 1/2 miles we reached its western extremity, and
ascending the line of sand hills by which it is bounded on that side,
dropped down to another plain, and at six miles intersected a creek with
a deep broad and grassy bed, but no water. A high row of gum trees marked
its course from a point rather from the southward of east to the
north-north-west. Crossing to the opposite side we ascended another sand
hill by a gradual rise, and again descended to another plain, at the
farther extremity of which we could indistinctly see a dark line of
trees. Arriving at these after a ride of six miles, we were stopped by
another creek. Its banks were too steep for the cart, and we consequently
turned northward and traced it downwards for four miles before we found a
convenient spot at which to halt. The ground along the creek side was of
the most distressing nature; rent to pieces by solar heat, and entangled
with polygonum twisted together. We passed several muddy water-holes, and
at length stopped at a small clear deep pond. The colour of the water, a
light green, at once betrayed its quality; but fortunately for us, though
brackish it was still tolerable, much better than the gritty water we had
passed. There was however but little vegetation in its neighbourhood, the
grass being coarse and wiry. Both on this creek and some others we had
passed, we observed that the graves of the natives were made
longitudinally from north to south, and not as they usually are from east
to west.

The evening we stopped at this place was very fine. We had descended into
the bed of the creek, and Mr. Browne and I were reclining on the ground,
looking at the little pond, in which the bank above was clearly
reflected. On a sudden my companion asked me if I had brought a small
hook with me, as he had taken it into his head that there were fish in
the pond. Being unable to supply his wants, he got a pin, and soon had a
rough kind of apparatus prepared, with which he went to the water; and,
having cast in his bait, almost immediately pulled out a white and
glittering fish, and held it up to me in triumph. I must confess that I
was exceedingly astonished, for the first idea that occurred to my mind
was--How could fish get into so isolated a spot? In the water-holes above
us no animals of the kind could have lived. How then were we to account
for their being where we found them, and for the no less singular
phenomenon of brackish waters in the bed of a fresh water creek? These
were exceedingly puzzling questions to me at the time, but, as the reader
will find, were afterwards explained. Mr. Browne succeeded in taking no
less than thirteen fish, and seemed to think that they were identical
with the silver perch of the Murray, but they appeared to me to be a
deeper and a thinner fish. Although none of them exceeded six inches in
length, they were very acceptable to men who were living on five pounds
of flour only a-week.

The night we stayed here was very dark, and about 11 p.m. the horses
which had been turned down the creek by Flood, rushed violently past our
fire, as if they had been suddenly alarmed. They were found at a distance
of five miles above us the next morning, but we could never discover why
they had taken fright. Their recovery detained us longer than our usual
hour, but at nine we mounted, and, crossing the creek at three-quarters
of a mile, ascended a hill, connected with several others by sandy
valleys, and saw that the creek, a little below where we crossed it,
turned to the west. We could trace its course, by the trees on its bank,
for several miles. From the hills we descended to a country of a very
different character from that which I have been describing. As we
overlooked it from the higher ground it was dark, with a snow-white patch
of sand in the centre; on traversing it we found that its productions
were almost entirely samphire-bushes growing on a salty soil.

The white patch we had seen from a distance was the dry bed of a shallow
salt lagoon also fringed round with samphire bushes, and being in our
course we crossed it. There was a fine coating of salt on its surface,
together with gypsum and clay, as at Lake Torrens. The country for
several miles round it was barren beyond description, and small nodules
of limestone were scattered over the ground in many places. After leaving
the lagoon, which though moist had been sufficiently hard to bear our
weight, we passed amidst tortuous and stunted box-trees for about three
miles; then crossed the small dry and bare bed of a water-course, that
was shaded by trees of better appearance, and almost immediately
afterwards found ourselves on the outskirts of extensive and beautifully
grassed plains, similar to that on which I had fixed the Depot, and most
probably owing, like them, their formation to the overflow of the last,
or some other creek we had traced. The character of the country we had
previously travelled over being so very bad, the change to the park-like
scene now before us was very remarkable. Like the plains at the Depot,
they had gum-trees all round them, and a line of the same trees running
through their centre.

Entering upon them on a north-west course, we proceeded over the open
ground, and saw three dark figures in the distance, who proved to be
women gathering seeds. They did not perceive us until we were so near to
them that they could not escape, but stood for some time transfixed with
amazement. On riding up we dismounted, and asked them by signs where
there was any water, to which question they signified most energetically
that there was none in the direction we were going, that it was to the
west. One of these women had a jet black skin, and long curling glossy
ringlets. She seemed indeed almost of a different race, and was, without
doubt, a secondary object of consideration with her companions; who, to
secure themselves I fancy, intimated to us that we might take her away;
this, however, we declined doing. One of the women went on with her
occupation of cleaning the grass seeds she had collected, all the time we
remained, humming a melancholy dirge. On leaving them, and turning to the
point where they said no water was to be found, they exhibited great
alarm, and followed us at a distance. Soon after we passed close to some
gum-trees and found a small dry channel under a sand hill on the other
side, running this down we came suddenly on two bough huts, before which
two or three little urchins were playing, who, the moment they saw us,
popped into the huts like rabbits. Directly opposite there was a shallow
puddle rather than a pool of water, and as Joseph had just met with an
accident I was obliged to stop at it. I was really sorry to do so,
however, for I knew our horses would exhaust it all during the night, and
I was reluctant to rob these poor creatures of so valuable a store, I
therefore sent Flood to try if he could find any lower down; but, as he
failed, we unsaddled our horses and sat down.

The women who had kept us in sight were then at the huts, to which Mr.
Browne and I walked. In addition to the women and children, there was an
old man with hair as white as snow. As I have observed, there was a sand
hill at the back of the huts, and as we were trying to make ourselves
understood by the women a native made his appearance over it; he was
painted in all the colours of the rainbow, and armed to the teeth with
spear and shield. Great was the surprise and indignation of this warrior
on seeing that we had taken possession of his camp and water. He came
fearlessly down the hill, and by signs ordered us to depart, threatening
to go for his tribe to kill us all, but seeing that his anger only made
us smile, he sat down and sulked. I really respected the native's
bravery, and question much if I should have shewn equal spirit in a
similar situation. Mr. Browne's feelings I am sure corresponded with my
own, so we got up and left him, with an intention on my part to return
when I thought he had cooled down to make him some presents, but when we
did so he had departed with all his family, and returned not to the
neighbourhood again. We had preserved two or three of the fish, and in
the hope of making the women understand us better, produced them, on
which they eagerly tried to snatch them from us, but did not succeed.
They were evidently anxious to get them to eat, and I mention the fact,
though perhaps telling against my generosity on the occasion, to prove
how rare such a feast must be to them.

As I had foreseen, our horses finished all the water in the puddle during
the night, and we left at seven in the following morning, taking up our
usual N.N.W. course, from which, up to this point we had not deviated. We
passed for about eight miles through open box-tree forest, with a large
grassy flat, backed by sand hills to the right. The country indeed had an
appearance of improvement. There was grass under the trees, and the
scenery as we rode along was really cheerful. I began to hope we were
about to leave behind us the dreary region we had wandered over, and that
happier and brighter prospects would soon open out, to reward us for past
disappointment. Mr. Browne and I even ventured to express such
anticipations to each other as we journeyed onwards. At eight miles
however, all our hopes were annihilated. A wall of sand suddenly rose
before us, such as we had not before seen; lying as it did directly
across our course we had no choice but to ascend. For 20 miles we toiled
over as distressing a country as can be imagined, each succeeding sand
ridge assumed a steeper and more rugged character, and the horse with
difficulty pulled the cart along. At 13 miles we crossed a salt lagoon
similar to the one I have described to the S.E. of the plains on which we
had last seen the natives, but larger. Near it there was a temporary
cessation of the fearful country we had just passed, but it was only
temporary, the sand ridges again crossed our path, and at five or seven
miles from the lagoon we pulled up for the night in a small confined
valley in which there was a little grass, our poor horses sadly jaded and
fatigued, and our cart in a very rickety state. We could not well have
been in a more trying situation, and as Mr. Browne, and Lewis (one of the
men I had with me), went to examine the neighbourhood from a knoll not
far off, while there was yet light, I could not but reflect on the
singular fatality that had attended us. I had little hope of finding
water, and doubted in the event of disappointment whether we should get
any of the horses back to the Fish-pond, the nearest water in our rear.
Mr. Browne was late in returning to me, but the news he had to
communicate dispelled all my fears. He had, he told me, from the summit
of the knoll to which he went, observed something glittering in a dark
looking valley about three miles to the N.W., and had walked down to
ascertain what it was, when to his infinite delight he found that it was
a pool of water, covering no small space amongst rocks and stones. It was
too late to avail ourselves, however, of this providential discovery; but
we were on our way to the place at an early hour. There we broke our
fast, and I should have halted for the day to repair the cart, but there
was little or no grass in the valley for the horses, so that we moved on
after breakfast; but coming at less than a mile to a little grassy valley
in which there was likewise water, we stopped, not only to give the
animals a day of rest, and to repair the cart, but to examine the
country, and to satisfy ourselves as to the nature of the sudden and
remarkable change it had undergone. With this view, as soon as the camp
was formed, and the men set to repair the cart, Mr. Browne and I walked
to the extremity of a sandy ridge that bore N.N.W. from us, and was about
two miles distant. On arriving at this point we saw an immense plain,
occupying more than one half of the horizon, that is to say, from the
south round to the eastward of north. A number of sandy ridges, similar
to that on which we stood, abutted upon, and terminated in this plain
like so many head lands projecting into the sea. The plain itself was of
a dark purple hue, and from the elevated point on which we stood appeared
to be perfectly level.

There was a line of low trees far away upon it to the N.E.; and to the
north, at a great distance, the sun was shining on the bright point of a
sand hill. The plain was otherwise without vegetation, and its horizon
was like that of the ocean. In the direction I was about to proceed,
nothing was to be seen but the gloomy stone-clad plain, of an extent such
as I could not possibly form any just idea. Ignorant of the existence of
a similar geographical feature in any other part of the world, I was at a
loss to divine its nature. I could not however pause as to what was to be
done, but on our return to the party prepared to cross it. I was fully
aware, before leaving the old Depot, that as soon as we got a few miles
distant from the hills, I should be unable to continue my angles, and
should thenceforth have to rely on bearings. So long as we were chaining
there was no great fear of miscalculating position; so far then as the
second Depot, it would not be difficult for any other traveller to follow
my course. From that point, as I have already stated, I ran on a compass
bearing of 25 degrees to the west of north, or on a N.N.W. course, and
adhered to it up to the point I have now led the reader, a new bearing
having been taken on some object still farther in advance from every sand
hill we ascended. This appeared to me to be the most satisfactory way of
computing our distances and position, for the latitude necessarily
correcting both, the amount of error could not be very great. I now
found, on this principle, that I was in latitude 27 degrees 4 minutes 40
seconds south, and in longitude, by account, 139 degrees 10 minutes east.

On reaching the cart I learnt that Lewis, while wandering about, had
stumbled on a fine sheet of water, in a valley about two miles to the
south of us, and that Joseph and Flood had shot a couple of ducks, or I
should have said widgeon of the common kind.

On the 26th I directed Flood to keep close under the sandy ridge, to the
termination of which Mr. Browne and I had been, and to move into the
plain on the original bearing of 25 degrees to the west of north until I
should overtake him; Mr. Browne and I then mounted and went to see the
water Lewis had discovered, for which we had not had time the previous
evening. It was a pretty little sequestered spot surrounded by sand
hills, excepting to the N.W. forming a long serpentine canal, apparently
deep, and shaded by many gum-trees; there were a numbers of ducks on the
water, but too wild to allow us within shot. Both Mr. Browne and I were
pleased with the spot, and could not but congratulate ourselves in having
such a place to fall back upon, if we should be forced to retreat, as it
had all the promise of durability for some weeks to come. We overtook the
drays far upon the plains, and continued our journey for twenty miles,
when I halted on a bare piece of sandy ground on which there were a few
tussocks of grass, and a small puddle of water. On travelling over the
plain we found it undulating, with shining hollows in which it was
evident water sometimes collects. The stones, with which the ground was
so thickly covered as to exclude vegetation, were of different lengths,
from one inch to six, they had been rounded by attrition, were coated
with oxide of iron, and evenly distributed. In going over this dreary
waste the horses left no track, and that of the cart was only visible
here and there. From the spot on which we stopped no object of any kind
broke the line of the horizon; we were as lonely as a ship at sea, and as
a navigator seeking for land, only that we had the disadvantage of an
unsteady compass, without any fixed point on which to steer. The
fragments covering this singular feature were all of the same kind of
rock, indurated or compact quartz, and appeared to me to have had
originally the form of parallelograms, resembling both in their size and
shape the shivered fragments, lying at the base of the northern ranges,
to which I have already had occasion to call attention.

Although the ground on which we slept was not many yards square, and
there was little or nothing on it to eat, the poor animals, loose as they
were, did not venture to trespass on the adamantine plain by which they
were on all sides surrounded.

On the 27th we continued onwards, obliged to keep the course by taking
bearings on any prominent though trifling object in front. At ten miles
there was a sensible fall of some few feet from the level of the Stony
Desert, as I shall henceforth call it, and we descended into a belt of
polygonum of about two miles in breadth, that separated it from another
feature, apparently of equal extent but of very different character. This
was an earthy plain, on which likewise there was no vegetation;
resembling in appearance a boundless piece of ploughed land, on which
floods had settled and subsided--the earth seemed to have once been mud
and then dried. It had been impossible to ascertain the fall or dip of
the Stony Desert, but somewhat to the west of our course on the earthy
plain there were numerous channels, which as we advanced seemed to be
making to a common centre towards the N.E. Here and there a polygonum
bush was growing on the edge of the channels; and some of them contained
the muddy dregs of what had been pools of water. Over this field of earth
we continued to advance almost all day, without knowing whether we were
getting still farther into it, or working our way out. About an hour
before sunset, this point was settled beyond doubt, by the sudden
appearance of some hills over the line of the horizon, raised above their
true position by refraction. They bore somewhat to the westward of north,
but were too distant for speculation upon their character. It was very
clear, however, that there was a termination to the otherwise apparently
boundless level on which we were, in that direction, if not in any other.
Our view of these hills was but transient, for they gradually faded from
sight, and in less than ten minutes had entirely disappeared. Shortly
afterwards some trees were seen in front, directly in the line of our
course; but, as they were at a great distance, it was near sunset before
we reached them; and finding they were growing close to a small channel
(of which there were many traversing the plain) containing a little
water, we pulled up at them for the night, more especially as just at the
same moment the hills, before seen, again became visible, now bearing due
north. To scramble up into the box-trees and examine them with our
telescopes was but the work of a moment, still it was doubtful whether
they were rock or sand. There were dark shadows on their faces, as if
produced by cliffs, and anxiously did we look at them so long as they
continued above the horizon, but again they disappeared and left us in
perplexity. They were, however, much more distinct on the second
occasion, and Mr. Browne made out a line of trees, and what he thought
was grass on our side of them.

There was not a blade of anything for our horses to eat round about our
solitary bivouac, so that we were obliged to fasten them to the trees,
only three in number, and to the cart. There was, however, a dark kind of
weed growing in the creek, and some half dozen stalks of a white mallow,
the latter of which Flood pulled up and gave to the horses, but they
partook sparingly of them, and kept gnawing at the bark of the trees all
night long.

In reference to our movements on the morrow, it became a matter of
imperative necessity to get the poor things to where they could procure
some food as soon as possible; I determined, therefore, to make for the
hills, whatever they might be, at early dawn. The night was exceedingly
cold, the thermometer falling to freezing point. At day-break there was a
heavy fog, so we did not mount until half-past six, when the atmosphere
was clearer, the fog having in some measure dispersed. We then proceeded,
and for the first time since commencing the journey turned from the
course 332 degrees, or one of N.N.W. to one due north, allowing 5 degrees
for easterly variation. My object was to gain the trees Mr. Browne had
noticed, as soon as possible, but did not reach them until a quarter to
ten. We then discovered that they lined a long muddy channel, in which
was a good deal of water, but not a blade of vegetation anywhere to be
seen. I turned back, therefore, to a small sandy rise, whereon we had
observed a few tufts of grass, and allowed the animals to pick what they
could. At this spot we were about a mile and a half from the hills, which
now stood before us, their character fully developed, and whatever hope
we might have before encouraged of the probability of a change of country
on this side of the desert, was at one glance dispelled. Had these hills
been as barren as the wastes over which we had just passed, so as they
had been of stone we should have hailed them with joy. But, no!--sandy
ridges once more rose up in terrible array against us, although we had
left the last full 50 miles behind, even the animals I think regarded
them with dismay.

From the little rising ground on which we had stopped, we passed to the
opposite side of the creek, which apparently fell to the east, and
traversing a bare earthy plain, we soon afterwards found ourselves
ascending one of the very hills we had been examining with so much
anxiety through a glass the evening before. It was flanked on either side
by other hills, that projected into and terminated on this plain, as
those we had before seen terminated in the Stony Desert; and they looked,
as I believe I have already remarked, like channel head-lands jutting
into the sea, and gradually shutting each other out. The one we ascended
was partly composed of clay and partly of sand; but the former,
protruding in large masses, caused deep shadows to fall on the faces and
gave the appearance of a rocky cliff to the whole formation, as viewed
from a distance.

Broad and striking as were the features of the landscape over which the
eye wandered from the summit of this hill, I have much difficulty in
describing them.

Immediately beneath was the low region from which we had just ascended,
occupying the line of the horizon from the north-east point, southwards,
round to the west. Southward, and for some degrees on either side, a fine
dark line met the sky; but to the north-east and south-west was a
boundless extent of earthy plain. Here and there a solitary clump of
trees appeared, and on the plain, at the distance of a mile to the
eastward, were two moving specks, in the shape of native women gathering
roots, but they saw us not, neither did we disturb them,--their presence
indicated that even these gloomy and forbidding regions were not
altogether uninhabited.

As the reader will, I have no doubt, remember, the sandy ridges on the
S.E. side of the Desert were running at an angle of about 18 degrees to
the west of north, having gradually changed from the original direction
of about 6 degrees to the eastward of that point. I myself had marked
this gradual change with great interest, because it was strongly
corroborative of my views as to the course the current I have supposed to
have swept over the central parts of the continent must have taken, i. e.
a course at right angles to the ridges. It is a remarkable fact that
here, on the northern side of the Desert, and after an open interval of
more than 50 miles, the same sand ridges should occur, running in
parallel lines at the same angle as before, into the very heart of the
interior, as if they absolutely were never to terminate. Here, on both
sides of us, to the eastward and to the westward, they followed each
other like the waves of the sea in endless succession, suddenly
terminating as I have already observed on the vast plain into which they
ran. What, I will ask, was I to conclude from these facts?--that the
winds had formed these remarkable accumulations of sand, as straight as
an arrow lying on the ground without a break in them for more than ninety
miles at a stretch, and which we had already followed up for hundreds of
miles, that is to say across six degrees of latitude? No! winds may
indeed have assisted in shaping their outlines, but I cannot think, that
these constituted the originating cause of their formation. They exhibit
a regularity that water alone could have given, and to water, I believe,
they plainly owe their first existence. It struck me then, and calmer
reflection confirms the impression, that the whole of the low interior I
had traversed was formerly a sea-bed, since raised from its sub-marine
position by natural though hidden causes; that when this process of
elevation so changed the state of things, as to make a continuous
continent of that, which had been an archipelago of islands, a current
would have passed across the central parts of it, the direction of which
must have been parallel to the sandy ridges, and consequently from east
to west, or nearly so--that also being the present dip of the interior,
as I shall elsewhere prove. I further think, that the line of the Stony
Desert being the lowest part of the interior, the current must there have
swept along it with greater force, and have either made the breach in the
sandy ridges now occupied by it, or have prevented their formation at the
time when, under more favourable circumstances, they were thrown up on
either side of it. I do not know if I am sufficiently clear in
explanation, finding it difficult to lay down on paper all that crowds my
own mind on this subject; neither can I, without destroying the interest
my narrative may possess, now bring forward the arguments that gradually
developed themselves in support of the foregoing hypothesis.

Although I had been unable to penetrate to the north-west of Lake
Torrens, that basin appeared to me to have once formed part of the back
waters of Spencer's Gulf; still I long kept in view the possibility of
its being connected with some more central body of water. Having however
gained a position so much higher to the north, and almost on the same
meridian, and having crossed so remarkable a feature as the Stony Desert
(which, as I suppose, was once the focus of a mighty current, to judge
from its direction passing to the westward), I no longer encouraged hopes
which, if realized, would have been of great advantage to me, or
regretted the circumstances by which I was prevented from more fully
examining the north-east and northern shores of Lake Torrens. I felt
doubtful of the immediate proximity of an inland sea, although many
circumstances combined to strengthen the impression on my mind that such
a feature existed on the very ground over which we had made our way. I
had assuredly put great credit on the statements of the solitary old man
who visited the Depot, but his information as far as we could judge had
turned out to be false; and I was half angry with myself for having been
so credulous, well aware as I was of the exaggerations of the natives,
and how little dependence can be placed on what they say.




CHAPTER IX.



FLOOD'S QUICK SIGHT--FOREST FULL OF BIRDS--NATIVE WELL--BIRDS COLLECT TO
DRINK--DANGEROUS PLAIN--FLOOD'S HORSE LOST--SCARCITY OF WATER--TURN
NORTHWARD--DISCOVER A LARGE CREEK--BRIGHT PROSPECTS--SUDDEN
DISAPPOINTMENT--SALT LAGOON--SCARCITY OF WATER--SALT WATER
CREEK--CHARACTER OF THE INTERIOR--FORCED TO TURN BACK--RISK OF
ADVANCING--THE FURTHEST NORTH--RETURN TO AND EXAMINATION OF THE
CREEK--PROCEED TO THE WESTWARD--DREADFUL COUNTRY--JOURNEY TO THE
NORTH--AGAIN FORCED TO RETURN--NATIVES--STATION ON THE CREEK--CONCLUDING
REMARKS.


Reflecting on the singular character of the country below me, as I stood
on the pointed termination of the ridge the party had just ascended, I
could not but think how fortunate it was we had not found it in a wet
state, for in such a case to cross it would have been impossible. I felt
assured indeed, from the moment we set foot on it, that in the event of
rain, while we should be in the more distant interior, return would be
altogether impracticable, but we had neither time to pause on, or provide
against, the consequences of any heavy fall that might have set in. I do
not think that this flashed across the minds of any of the party
excepting my own, who would not have been justified in leading men
forward as I was doing, without weighing every probable chance of
difficulty or success.

As the line of the sand ridges was nearly parallel to that of our course,
we descended to a polygonum flat, and keeping the ridge upon our left,
proceeded on a bearing of 342 degrees, or on a N.N.W. course, up a kind
of valley. Whilst thus riding leisurely along, Flood, whose eyes were
always about him, noticed something dark moving in the bushes, to which
he called our attention. It was a dark object, and was then perfectly
stationary; as Flood however insisted that he saw it move, Mr. Browne
went forward to ascertain what it could be, when a native woman jumped up
and ran away. She had squatted down and put a large trough before her,
the more effectually to conceal her person, and must have been astonished
at the quickness of our sight in discovering her. We were much amused at
the figure she cut, but as she exhibited great alarm Mr. Browne refrained
from following her; after getting to some distance she turned round to
look at us, and then walked off at a more leisurely pace. At the distance
of about four miles, the sandy ridge made a short turn, and we were
obliged to cross over to the opposite side to preserve our course. On
gaining the top of the ridge, we saw an open box-tree forest, and a small
column of smoke rising up from amongst the trees, towards which we
silently bent our steps. Our approach had however been noticed by the
natives, who no doubt were at the place not a minute before, but had now
fled. We then pushed on through the forest, the ground beneath our
horses' feet being destitute of vegetation, and the soil composed of a
whitish clay, so peculiar to the flooded lands of the interior. The
farther we entered the depths of the forest, the more did the notes of
birds assail our ears. Cockatoos, parrots, calodera, pigeons, crows,
etc., all made that solitude ring with their wild notes, and as (with the
exception of the ducks on the southern side of the Stony Desert) we had
not seen any of the feathered race for many days, we were now astonished
at their numbers and variety. About an hour before sunset we arrived on
the banks of a large creek, with a bed of couch grass, but no water. The
appearance of this creek, however, was so promising that we momentarily
expected to see a pond glittering before us, but rode on until sunset ere
we arrived at a place which had attracted our attention as we approached
it. Somewhat to the right, but in the bed of the creek, there were two
magnificent trees, the forest still extending back on either side.
Beneath these trees there was a large mound of earth, that appeared to
have been thrown up. On reaching the spot we discovered a well of very
unusual dimensions, and as there was water in it, we halted for the
night.

On a closer examination of the locality, this well appeared to be of
great value to the inhabitants. It was 22 feet deep and 8 feet broad at
the top. There was a landing place, but no steps down to it, and a recess
had been made to hold the water, which was slightly brackish, the rim of
the basin being also incrusted with salt. Paths led from this spot to
almost every point of the compass, and in walking along one to the left,
I came on a village consisting of nineteen huts, but there were not any
signs of recent occupation. Troughs and stones for grinding seed were
lying about, with broken spears and shields, but it was evident that the
inhabitants were now dispersed in other places, and only assembled here
to collect the box-tree seeds, for small boughs of that tree were lying
in heaps on the ground, and the trees themselves bore the marks of having
been stripped. There were two or three huts in the village of large size,
to each of which two smaller ones were attached, opening into its main
apartment, but none of them had been left in such order as those I have
already described.

It being the hour of sunset when we reached the well, the trees were
crowded with birds of all kinds coming for water, and the reader may
judge of the straits to which they were driven, when he learns that they
dived down into so dark a chamber to procure the life-sustaining element
it contained. The wildest birds of the forest were here obliged to yield
to the wants of nature at any risk, but notwithstanding, they were
exceedingly wary; and we shot only a few cockatoos. The fact of there
being so large a well at this point, (a work that must have required the
united labour of a powerful tribe to complete), assured us that this
distant part of the interior, however useless and forbidding to civilized
man, was not without inhabitants, but at the same time it plainly
indicated, that water must be scarce. Indeed, considering that the birds
of the forest had powers of flight to go where they would, I could not
but regard it as a most unfavourable sign, that so many had collected
here. Had this well contained a sufficiency of water, it would have been
of the utmost value to us, but there was not more than enough for our
wants, so that, although I should gladly have halted for a day, as our
horses were both ill and tired, necessity obliged me to continue my
journey, and accordingly on the 29th we resumed our progress into the
interior on our original course. At about a mile we broke through the
forest, and entered an open earthy plain, such as I believe man never
before crossed. Subject to be laid under water by the creek we had just
left, and to the effects of an almost vertical sun, its surface was
absolutely so rent and torn by solar heat, that there was scarcely room
for the horses to tread, and they kept constantly slipping their hind
feet into chasms from eight to ten feet deep, into which the earth fell
with a hollow rumbling sound, as if into a grave. The poor horse in the
cart had a sad task, and it surprised me, how we all at length got safely
over the plain, which was between five and six miles in breadth, but we
managed it, and at that distance found ourselves on the banks of another
creek, in the bed of which there was plenty of grass but no water. I was
however exceedingly anxious to give the horses a day's rest; for several
of them were seriously griped, and had either taken something that
disagreed with them, or were beginning to suffer from constant work and
irregularity of food. Mr. Browne too was unwell and Lewis complaining, so
that it was advisable to indulge ourselves if possible. I therefore
determined to trace the creek downwards, in the hope of finding water,
and at a mile came upon a shallow pond where I gladly halted, for by this
time several of the horses had swollen to a great size, and were
evidently in much pain.

After arranging the little bivouac our attention was turned to the
horses, and Mr. Browne found it necessary to bleed Flood's horse, to
allay the inflammatory symptoms that were upon him. Still however he got
worse, and no remedy we had in our power to apply seemed to do him good.
The poor animal threw himself down violently on the ground, and bruised
himself all over, so that we were obliged to fasten him up, but as there
appeared to be no fear of his wandering, at sunset he was allowed to be
loose. He remained near me for the greater part of the night, and was
last seen close to where I was lying, but in the morning was no where to
be found, and although we searched for a whole day, and made extensive
sweeps to get on his track we never saw him more, and concluded he had
died under some bush. This was the horse we recovered on the Murray, the
same that had escaped from the government paddock in Adelaide. The other
animals had in some measure recovered, and the additional day of rest
they got while we were searching for Flood's horse, enabled me to resume
my journey on the last day of August. Our course being one of 335 degrees
to the west of north, or nearly N.N.W., and that of the sandy ridges
being 340 degrees we necessarily crossed them at a very acute angle, and
the horses suffered a good deal. In the afternoon we travelled over large
bare plains, of a most difficult and distressing kind, the ground
absolutely yawning underneath us, perfectly destitute of vegetation, and
denuded of timber, excepting here and there, where a stunted box-tree was
to be seen. While on the sand hills, the general covering of which was
spinifex, there were a few hakea and low shrubs. On such ground as that
whereon we were travelling, it would have been hopeless to look for
water, nevertheless our search was constant, but we were obliged to halt
without having found any, and to make ourselves as comfortable as we
could. All the surface water left by the July rain had entirely
disappeared, and what now remained even in the creeks was muddy and
thick. It was indeed at the best most disgusting beverage, nor would
boiling cause any great sediment. Every here and there, as we travelled
along, we passed some holes scooped out by the natives to catch rain, and
in some of these there was still a muddy residuum; we moreover observed
that the inhabitants of this desert made these holes in places the best
adapted to their purpose, where if the slightest shower occurred, the
water falling on hard clay would necessarily run into them.

The circumstances under which we halted in the evening of the 31st of
August were very embarrassing. It was evident that the country into which
we were now advancing, was drier and more difficult than the country we
had left behind. It was impossible, indeed, to hope that the animals
would get on, if it should continue as we had found it thus far. There
were numerous high ridges of sand to the westward, in addition to those
on the plains, and so full of holes and chasms were the latter, that the
horses would soon have been placed hors de combat, if they had continued
to traverse them. Moreover, I could not but foresee that unless I used
great precaution our retreat would be infallibly cut off. Whatever water
we had passed, since the morning we commenced our journey over the Stony
Desert, was not to be depended upon for more than four or five days, and
although we might reckon with some certainty on the native well in the
box-tree forest, the supply it had yielded was so very small that we
could not expect to obtain more from it than would suffice ourselves and
one or two of the horses. Taking all these matters into consideration, I
determined on once more turning to the north for a day or two, in order
that by keeping along the flats, close under the ridges, I might get
firmer travelling for the cart, and in the expectation, that we should be
more likely to find water in thus doing, than by crossing the succession
of ridges. Accordingly, on the 1st of September, we started on a course
of 6 degrees to the west of north, or a N. 1/2 W. course, that allowing
for variation, being within 1 1/2 points of a due north course. On this
we went up the flat where we had slept. By keeping close to the ridges we
found, as I had anticipated, firmer ground, though the centre of the flat
was still of the worst description. There were a few small box-trees to
be seen as we passed along, but scarcely any minor vegetation. At about
nine miles we were attracted by the green appearance of some low
polygonum bushes, to which we went, and under them found two small
puddles of water, that we might easily have passed. They must have been
three feet deep after the rains, but were now barely five inches, and
about the size of a loo table. However, we had no choice, and as the
horse had suffered so much from the rickety motion of the cart, caused by
the inequalities of the ground, and there was a silky kind of grass
growing sparingly around, I stopped here for the rest of the day to
effect necessary repairs. When, however, we came to examine the wheels,
we found that so many of the spokes were shivered and had shrunk, that
Lewis got on but slowly, renewing only such as were found absolutely
useless; we were consequently detained at this point another day, but on
the 3rd resumed our journey up the flat, and at two miles crossed a small
sandy ridge into the opposite flat, and at five miles stopped at a second
ridge of some height for Lewis and Joseph, who were a good way behind
with the cart. On coming up, they informed us that they had fallen in
with a tribe of natives, twelve in number, shortly after starting, and
had remained some time with them. They were at a dirty puddle, such as we
had left, and were at no great distance from our little bivouac. Joseph
good-naturedly gave one of them his knife, but he could not understand a
word they said.

After crossing the sand ridge, we kept on the edge of the flats, as I
have said, for the sake of the horses. The ridges had now become very
long, and varied in breadth from a few hundred yards to a mile. Box-trees
were scattered over them, and, although generally bare, they were not
altogether destitute of grass or herbage; the ridges of sand, on the
contrary, still continued unbroken, and several were covered with
spinifex; but on the whole the country appeared to be improving, and the
fall of waters being decidedly somewhat to the eastward of south, or
towards the Stony Desert, I entertained hopes that we had crossed the
lowest part of the interior, and reached the southerly drainage. We were
again fortunate in coming on another pond at 20 miles, where we halted,
the country round about us wearing an improved appearance. Still our
situation was very precarious, and we were risking a great deal by thus
pushing forward, for although I call the hollows (in which we found the
water) ponds, they were strictly speaking the dregs only of what had been
such, and were thick, black, and muddy; but the present aspect of the
country led us to hope for a favourable change, and on the morning of the
4th we still held our northerly course up the flat, on which we had
travelled the greater part of the day before. As we advanced, it became
more open and grassy, and at three miles we found a small supply of very
tolerable water in the bed of a shallow watercourse. We had ridden about
ten miles from the place where we had slept, and Mr. Browne and I were
talking together, when Flood, who was some little distance a-head, held
up his hat and called out to us. We were quite sure from this
circumstance that he had seen something unusual, and on riding up were
astonished at finding ourselves on the banks of a beautiful creek, the
bed of which was full both of water and grass. The bank on our side was
twenty feet high, and shelved too rapidly to admit of our taking the
horses down, but the opposite bank was comparatively low.

Immediately within view were two large sheets of water around the margin
of which reeds were growing, but nevertheless these ponds were
exceedingly shallow. The direction of this fine watercourse was N. by W.
and S. by E., coming from the first and falling to the last point, thus
enabling us to trace it up without changing our own. A little above where
we intersected its channel two small tributaries join it, or, I am more
inclined to think, two small branches go from it; for we had apparently
been rising as we came up the valley, but more especially as the
direction from which they appeared to come (the S.W.), was almost
opposite to the course of the creek itself. On proceeding upwards we
observed that there were considerable intervals, along which the channel
of the creek was dry; but where such was the case, it was abundantly
covered with couch grass, of which the horses were exceedingly fond. We
passed several sheets of water, however, some of which had a depth of two
feet, although the greater number were shallow. After following it for
ten miles, we halted with brighter prospects, and under more cheering
circumstances than we had any right to anticipate; but, although the
creek promised so well, the valley on either side of it was more than
usually barren and scrubby, and was bounded in, as usual, by high ridges
of sand, that still continued to head us in unbroken lines, and were the
most prominent and prevailing feature of the interior; and although we
were now within two degrees of the Tropics, our latitude at this point
being 25 degrees 34 minutes 19 seconds, we had not as yet observed the
slightest change in the vegetation, or anything to intimate our approach
to a tropical country.

On the 5th we started on a course of 340 degrees, the upward course of
the creek. At two miles it turned to the N. E, but soon came round again
to N.W., and afterwards kept a general course of 10 degrees to the west
of north. Its channel gradually contracted as we advanced, and the
polygonum grew to the size of a very large bush upon its banks. At nine
miles we arrived at a creek junction from the S.W. and traced it over
grassy plains, on which some Bauhimia were growing, but finding that it
took its rise in a kind of marsh occupying the centre of the plain into
which it had led us, we turned away to the main creek. The country now
became more open, and tertiary limestone shewed itself on the plains, and
at a short distance from the creek a vein of milky quartz cropped out
near a pretty sheet of water. As we proceeded upwards sandstone traversed
its bed in several places; in some degree contracting its channel. A
short time before we halted we passed a very large and long sheet of
water, on which there were a good many wild fowl, so very shy, that
although the brush grew close to the banks of the creek, so as to favour
our creeping upon them, we could not shoot any.

Notwithstanding that the creek had thus changed its appearance from what
it was where we first came upon it (its waters being muddy with less
grass in its channel), we had no reason to suppose that it would
disappoint our hopes; we therefore resumed our journey on the morning of
the 6th, without any idea that we should meet with any check in the
course of the day. As the immediate neighbourhood of this creek had
become scrubby, we kept wide of it and travelled for 12 miles, on a
bearing of 340, over flats destitute of all manner of vegetation, but
thinly scattered over with the box, acacia and the Bauhimia. These flats
were still bounded on either side by high sandy ridges, covered with
spinifex, excepting on their summits, which were perfectly bare. The view
from them both to the eastward and westward was, as it were, over a sandy
sea; ridge after ridge succeeding each other as far as the eye could
stretch the vision. To the north the flat appeared to terminate at a low
sand hill bearing 335 degrees or N.N.W. 1/2 W.

When we again came on the creek, there was an abundance both of water and
grass in its bed, but just above, the channel suddenly turned to the N.E.
and in again keeping wide of it to avoid the inequalities of the ground,
we arrived at the little sand hill that had previously bounded our view,
and on ascending it, found that immediately beneath us, there was a clear
small lake, covered with wild fowl. The colour of the water immediately
betrayed its quality, and we found on tasting that it was too salt to
drink. An extensive grassy flat extended to the westward of the lake,
bounded by box-trees, and the channel of the creek still held its course
to the N.E. I could not therefore but suppose, that this was a junction
from that point, and therefore determined on passing to the opposite
side, in anticipation that I should again come on our old friend amidst
the trees. We accordingly crossed at the bottom of the little lake, and
in so doing found amidst the other herbage two withered stalks of millet.

The grassy woodland continued for several miles, and as it was evidently
subject to flood, we were in momentary expectation of seeing a denser
mass of foliage before us, as indicating the course of the creek, but we
suddenly debouched upon open plains, bounded by distant sand hills. There
was not now a tree to be seen, but samphire bushes were mixed with the
polygonum growing round about; as the changes however in this singular
and anomalous region had been so sudden and instantaneous, I still held
on my course, but the farther I advanced into the plains the more did the
ground betray a salt formation.

We halted an hour after sunset, under a sand hill about 16 miles distant
from the creek, without having succeeded in our search for water, for
although we passed several muddy pools at which the birds still continued
to drink they were too thick for our animals.

The prospect from the top of the sand hill under which we had formed our
bivouac, was the most cheerless and I may add the most forbidding of any
that our eyes had wandered over, during this long and anxious journey. To
the west and north-west there were lines of heavy sand ridges, so steep
and rugged as to deter me from any attempt to cross them with my jaded
horses. To the north and north-east a dark green plain covered with
samphire bushes (amidst which the dry beds of small salt lagoons, as
white as snow, formed a singular and striking contrast) was to be seen
extending for about eight miles. This plain was bounded by distant hills,
the bright red tops of which gleamed, even in the twilight. I was here
really puzzled what course to pursue, one only indeed was open to me--the
north--unless I should determine to fall back on the creek; but I thought
it better to advance, in the hope of being able to maintain my ground,
and with the intention of halting for a few days at the first favourable
point at which we should arrive, for my mind was filled with anxiety. It
had pained me for some time, to see Mr. Browne daily suffering more and
more, and although he continued to render me the most valuable
assistance, a gloom hung over him; he seldom spoke, his hands were
constantly behind him, pressing or supporting his back, and he appeared
unfit to ride. My men were also beginning to feel the effects of constant
exposure, of ceaseless journeying, and of poverty of food, for all we had
was 5 lbs. of flour and 2 oz. of tea per week; it is true we occasionally
shot a pigeon or a duck, but the wildness of the birds of all kinds was
perfectly unaccountable. The horses living chiefly on pulpy vegetation
had little stamina, and were incapable of enduring much privation or
hardship. No rain had fallen since July, nor was there any present
indication of a change. Much as I desired it, I yet dreaded having to
traverse such a country as that into which I was now about to plunge, in
a wet state. With a soil of stiff tenacious clay, already soft from the
moisture produced by the mixture of salt in it, I foresaw that in the
event of heavy rain, I should be involved in almost inextricable
difficulties, but there was no alternative.

On the morning of the 7th I sent Mr. Browne to the westward, to ascertain
the nature of the country, and if by any chance he could again find the
creek, and in case I had inadvertently mistaken the real creek for a
tributary, I myself pushed on to the north, in the hope of intersecting
it. Mr. Browne had not, however, been absent more than three-quarters of
an hour, when he returned to inform me that he had been stopped by a salt
creek, coming direct from the north, the bed of which was too soft for
him to cross. He said that its channel was white as snow, and that every
reed and blade of grass on its banks, was encrusted with salt. Under an
impression that as long as I should continue in the neighbourhood of, and
on a course nearly parallel to this creek, I could not hope for any
favourable change, I decided on crossing it, and with that view turned to
the west; but finding the bed of the creek still too soft to admit of our
doing so, I traced it upwards to the north, along a sandy ridge.

As Mr. Browne had informed me, its channel was glittering white, and
thickly encrusted with salt, nor was there any water visible, but on
going down to examine it in several places where the salt had the
appearance of broken and rotten ice, we found that there were deep pools
of perfect brine underneath, on which the salt floated, to the thickness
of three or four inches. The marks of flood on the side of the sand hill
shewed a rise of 12 feet above its ordinary level. At about a mile and a
half we descended the sand hill on which we had previously kept, and
ascended another, when we saw the basin of the creek immediately below
us, but quite dry, and surrounded by sand hills. Crossing just below it,
we proceeded on a course of 331 degrees over extensive plains, covered
with samphire, excepting where the beds of dry salt lagoons occurred. The
ground was spongy and soft, and the cart wheels consequently sank deep
into it. The plain was surrounded on all sides by sand hills, and that
towards which we were advancing appeared to run athwart our course
instead of nearly parallel to it as heretofore. On gaining the summit, we
found that other ridges extended from it in parallel lines, the ridge on
which we stood forming the head of the respective valleys. A line of
acacia, a species we had never found near water, was growing down the
centre of each, and the fall of the country seemed again to be to the
N.N.W.

Pushing down one of the valleys, the descent of which was very gradual,
and keeping on such clear ground as there was, the ridges rose higher and
higher on either side of us as we advanced, all grass and other
vegetation disappeared, and at length both valley and sand ridge became
thickly coated with spinifex.

At noon I halted, in the hope of obtaining a meridian altitude, but was
disappointed, as also at night, the sky continuing obscured. At half-past
two I pulled up, to consider whether or not it would be prudent to push
on any farther. I calculated that we were now 34 miles from the creek,
our only place of refuge. The horses had not tasted water from the early
part of the day before, and we could not reasonably expect to get back to
the salt lagoon under a day and a half. Our poor animals were not in a
condition to endure much fatigue, although by going on steadily we had
managed to get over a good deal of ground. It is, however, probable that
I should not have had much consideration for them on this occasion, if
other matters had not weighed on my mind and influenced my decision. My
men were all three unwell, and had been so for some days prior to this,
and Mr. Browne's sufferings were such that I hesitated subjecting him to
exertions greater than those he was necessarily obliged to submit to, and
by which I felt assured he would ultimately be overcome. The treacherous
character of the disease by which he had been attacked was well
understood. I had no hope of any improvement in his condition until such
time as he could procure change of food. So far from this I dreaded every
day that he might be laid prostrate as Mr. Poole had been, that I should
have to carry him about in a state of helplessness, and that he would
ultimately sink as his unfortunate companion had done. Had other
considerations, therefore, not influenced me, I could not make up my mind
to persevere, and see my only remaining companion perish at my side, and
that, too, under the most trying, I had almost said the most appalling
circumstances, for no one who has not seen the scurvy in its worst
character can form an idea of it. I could not run the risk of being
obliged to lay and leave one, in that gloomy desert, whose attention and
kindness to me had been uniform, and whose life I knew was valuable to
very many. The time has now passed, and I thank God that Mr. Browne, who
embarked in this expedition in reliance on my discretion, is now restored
to health and strength; but although he has regained his elasticity of
spirits, and would, I have no doubt, again encounter even the same risks,
he will yet remember Central Australia, and all that both of us there
suffered.

The question for me however was, how far I should be justified in pushing
forward under the almost certainty of inextricable embarrassment. I was
now within reach of water, but another fifteen miles would have put it
out of my reach; and though I felt I had the power, I did not see the
advantage of perseverance, with so many difficulties staring me in the
face. Our distance from the creek may appear to be short; but it will be
borne in mind that our horses had now been more than a year living upon
dry grass and salsolaceous plants; that from the time of our leaving the
Depot, they had been ridden from sunrise to sunset; and that at night
they had been tethered and confined to a certain range, within which
there was not sufficient for them to eat. They had already been too long
without water or food, and therefore that which would have been a
trifling journey to them under ordinary circumstances, under existing
ones was beyond their strength. Nevertheless, though thus convincing my
understanding, I felt that it required greater moral firmness to
determine me to retrace my steps than to proceed onwards.

Regarding our situation in its most favourable point of view, my
advancing would have been attended with extreme risk. If I had advanced,
and had found water, all would have been well for the time at least--if
not, the extent of our misfortunes would only have been tested by their
results. The first would have been the certain loss of all our horses,
and I know not if one of us would ever have returned to the Depot, then
more than 400 miles distant, to tell the fate of his companions to those
we had left there. On mature deliberation then, I resolved to fall back
on the creek, and as my progress was arrested in this direction, to make
that the centre of my movements, in trying every other point where I
thought there might be a chance of success.

I saw clearly indeed that there was no help for this measure. We had
penetrated to a point at which water and feed had both failed. Spinifex
and a new species of mesembryanthemum, with light pink flowers on a
slender stalk, were the only plants growing in that wilderness, if I
except a few withered acacia trees about four feet high. The spinifex was
close and matted, and the horses were obliged to lift their feet straight
up to avoid its sharp points. From the summit of a sandy undulation close
upon our right, we saw that the ridges extended northwards in parallel
lines beyond the range of vision, and appeared as if interminable. To the
eastward and westward they succeeded each other like the waves of the
sea. The sand was of a deep red colour, and a bright narrow line of it
marked the top of each ridge, amidst the sickly pink and glaucous
coloured vegetation around. I fear I have already wearied the reader by a
description of such scenes, but he may form some idea of the one now
placed before him, when I state, that, familiar as we had been to such,
my companion involuntarily uttered an exclamation of amazement when he
first glanced his eye over it. "Good Heavens," said he, "did ever man see
such country!" Indeed, if it was not so gloomy, it was more difficult
than the Stony Desert itself; yet I turned from it with a feeling of
bitter disappointment. I was at that moment scarcely a degree from the
Tropic, and within 150 miles of the centre of the continent. If I had
gained that spot my task would have been performed, my most earnest wish
would have been gratified, but for some wise purpose this was denied to
me; yet I may truly say, that I should not thus have abandoned my
position, if it had not been a measure of urgent and imperative
necessity.

After what I have said, the feelings with which, on the morning of the
8th, we unloosed our horses from the bushes, to which they had all night
been fastened, will easily be imagined. Just as we were about to mount, a
flight of crested parroquets on rapid wing and with loud shriek flew over
us, coming directly from the north, and making for the creek to which we
were going--it was a singular occurrence just at that moment, and so I
regarded it, for I had well nigh turned again. It proved, however, that
to the very last, we had followed the line of migration with unerring
precision. What would I not have given for the powers of those swift
wanderers of the air? But as it was I knew not how long they had been on
the wing, or how far it was to the spot where they had last rested.

We passed the salt lagoon about 10 a.m. of the 9th, and stopped at a
shallow but fresh water pond, a little below it, no less thankful than
our exhausted animals that we were relieved from want, and the anxiety
attendant on the last few days. On passing the lagoon we saw two natives
digging for roots, but did not disturb them. In the afternoon, however,
Joseph and Lewis saw twenty, who exhibited some unfriendly symptoms, and
would not allow them to approach. They were not armed, but carried red
bags. The food of the natives here, as in other parts of the interior,
appeared to be seeds of various kinds. They had even been amongst the
spinifex gathering the seed of the mesembryanthemum, of which they must
obtain an abundant harvest. The weather, a little before this time, had
been very cold, but was now getting warmer every day. As we had been
advancing northwards towards the Tropics, I was not surprised at this.
The sky also was clear, generally speaking, but we had observed for the
last two or three months that it was invariably more cloudy at the full
of the moon than at any other period.

As our recent journey proved that in going to the westward on the 5th
inst., we had wandered from the creek, and that instead of holding on in
that direction, it had changed its course considerably to the eastward of
north, I determined, after we should all have had a day of rest, to trace
the channel upwards, in order to satisfy myself as to what became of it.
On the 10th, therefore, Mr. Browne and myself with Flood, mounted our
horses, with the intention of tracing it up until we should have
ascertained to what point it led. We passed through some very pretty
scenery in the proximity of the lagoon where it was lightly wooded, with
an abundance of grass; and I could not help reflecting with how much more
buoyant and pleasurable feelings we should have explored such a country,
when compared with the monotonous and sterile region we had wandered
over. The transition however from the rich to the barren, from the
picturesque to the contrary, was instantaneous. From the grassy woodland
we had been riding through, we debouched upon a barren plain without any
vegetation, and after crossing a small channel, intersected a second much
larger, a little beyond it. Both creeks evidently traversed different
parts of a large plain to the north, to which they had no apparent inlet.
There was a long tongue of sand, rather elevated, and running up into the
plain, to the termination of which we rode, and then found ourselves, as
it were, in the centre of an area, that was of great extent, and appeared
to be bounded on all sides, excepting that by which we had entered, by
sand hills. Unconnected lines of trees marked the courses of the channels
traversing it in different directions, but as the evening had far
advanced, and my object had been rather to look round about me than to
make any lengthened excursion, we returned to our little bivouac, with
the intention of devoting another day to the fuller examination of the
neighbourhood.

On the following day I proceeded with the whole party to the westward,
anticipating that the salt formation existing to the north-west was
merely local, and that by thus turning a few degrees from the course on
which we had before gone, we should altogether avoid it. I should not,
however, have taken Joseph and Lewis with the cart, if I had not been
somewhat apprehensive that the natives might visit the camp during my
absence, and some misunderstanding be the consequence; for as we had
hitherto found the country to the westward worse than at any other point,
I was after all doubtful how far I should be able to push on.

We left the creek on a W. by N. course, the direction of the sandy ridges
being to the N.N.W., so that we were obliged to cross them successively.
I soon found that the country was infinitely worse than I expected. We
had scarcely passed a kind of marsh at some little distance from the
creek, when we once more crossed salty valleys, between high sandy
ridges. The wind blowing fresh from the south, peppered us with showers
of sand as we ascended the last, and carried the salt in the valleys like
drifting snow from one end of them to the other, filling our eyes and
entering the pores of the skin, so as to cause us much annoyance. Before
noon we had crossed eighteen of these sandy undulations, and were on the
top of another, having fairly tired the horses in the ascent, and I
consequently pulled up, to wait for the cart, but the heavy nature of the
country had so shaken it, that the men were obliged to stop; and on
examining the spokes of the wheels, I really wondered how they could have
got on so far, and expected that in another half mile every one of them
would be shaken out, and the cart itself fall to the ground. The spokes
had shrunk to such a degree that they did not hold in the felloes and
axles by more than two or three 10ths of an inch. I felt it necessary
therefore to turn back to the creek, to get new spokes of such wood as we
could procure, there not being a tree of any kind visible near us; but it
was late ere we got back to water, and once more took up our position on
the same ground we had quitted in the morning. The country we had passed
was certainly such as to deter me from making a second attempt in the
same quarter, and to confirm my impression that from some cause or other
the interior to the westward was worse than anywhere else. Lewis, the
moment we got back to the creek, set to work in good earnest, with
Joseph's assistance, to repair the cart, but it necessarily delayed us
longer than prudence would have allowed; in the meantime, however, we
were at least deriving benefit from rest.

On mature consideration, I thought the quarter in which we should have
most chance of success would be a course a little to the east of north,
for the day Mr. Browne and I rode up the creek it appeared to me that the
country was more open in that direction. I thought it better, however, to
make for the sandy tongue of land in the centre of the plain, in which
the creek appeared to take its rise, and to be guided by circumstances
both in the examination of that plain, and the course I should ultimately
pursue. The cart being fit for use on the morning of the 12th we again
left the creek, and at four miles on an east by north course arrived at
the sand hill to which I desired to go; from that point I proceeded to
the N.N.W., that appearing to be the general direction of the creek
upwards; but as there were lines of box-trees on both sides of us, those
to our left being denser than the right, I moved for them over a plain of
about five miles in breadth, but so full of cracks and fissures that we
had great difficulty in crossing it. Not-withstanding, however, that the
cart fell constantly into them, we got it safely over. Not finding any
water under or near the trees I turned a little to the north, keeping
wide of the creek; but, coming on its channel again at five miles, I
halted, because there happened to be a little grass there, and we were
fortunate enough, after some perseverance, to find a muddy puddle that
served the horses, however unfit for our use. From the appearance of the
plain before us, I hardly anticipated success in our undertaking. We had
evidently arrived near the head of the creek, and I felt assured that if
the features of the country here, were similar to those of other parts of
the interior, we should, between where we then were, and some distant
sand hills, again find ourselves travelling over a salt formation. The
evening had closed in with a cloudy sky, and the wind at W.N.W., and
during the night we had two or three flying showers, but they were really
in mockery of rain, nor was any vestige of it to be seen in the morning,
which broke with a clear sky, and the wind from the S.E.

As soon as morning dawned we saddled our horses and made for the head of
the plain, crossing bare and heavy ground until we neared the sand hills,
when observing that I was leaving the creek, which I was anxious to trace
up, we turned to the north-east for a line of gum-trees, but the channel
was scarcely perceptible under them, and we had evidently run it out.
There were only two or three solitary trees to be seen to the north, at
which point the plain was bounded by sand hills. To the S.E. there was a
short line of trees, from the midst of which the natives were throwing up
a signal smoke, but as it would have taken me out of my way to have gone
to them, I held on a N.N.W. course, and at the termination of the plain
ascended a sand hill, though of no great height. From it we descended a
small valley, the sides of which were covered with samphire bushes, and
the bottom by the dry white and shallow bed of a salt lagoon. From this
valley we passed into a plain, in which various kinds of salsolaceous
productions were growing round shallow salty basins. At a little distance
from these, however, we stumbled upon a channel with some tolerable water
in it, hid amongst rhagodia bushes, but the horses refused to drink. This
plain communicated with that we had just left, round the N.E. point of
the sand hill we had crossed but there were no box-trees on it to mark
the line of any creek or water; but the sand ridge forming its northern
boundary was very high, and contrary to their usual lay, ran directly
across our course, and as the ascent was long and gradual, so was it some
time before we got to the top. The view which then presented itself was
precisely similar to the one I have already described, and from which we
had before been obliged to retreat. Long parallel lines of sandy ridges
ran up northwards, further than we could see, and rose in the same manner
on either side. Their sides were covered with spinifex, but there was a
clear space at the bottom of the valleys, and as there was really no
choice we proceeded down one of them, for 12 miles, and then halted.

At this point the open space at the bottom of the valleys had all closed
in, and the cart, during the latter part of the journey, had gone jolting
over the tufts and circles of spinifex to the great distress of the
horse; grass and water had both failed, nor could I see the remotest
chance of any change in the character of the country. It was clear,
indeed, that until rain should fall it was perfectly impracticable; and
with such a conviction on my mind, I felt that it would only be
endangering the lives of those who were with me, if I persevered in
advancing. I therefore once more determined to fall back upon the creek,
there to hold my ground until such time as it should please God to send
us rain. We re-entered the plain in which the creek rises at 3 p.m., and
made for the trees, from whence the signal smoke was rising, and there
came on a tolerable sized pond of water, at which we stopped for a short
time, and while resting, ascertained that some natives were encamped at a
little distance above us; but although we went to them, and endeavoured
by signs and other means to obtain information, we could not succeed,
they either did not or would not understand us; neither, although our
manner must have allayed any fear of personal injury to themselves, did
they evince the slightest curiosity, or move, or even look up when we
left them. I cannot, however, think that such apparent indifference
arises from a want of feeling, for that, on some points, they possess in
a strong degree; but so it was, that the natives of the interior never
approached our camps, however much we might encourage them. On leaving
these people, of whom, if I recollect, there were seven, we tried to
avoid the distressing plains we had crossed in the morning, and it was
consequently late before we got to the creek and dismounted from our
horses, after a journey of about 42 miles. The 13th thus found us beaten
back by difficulties such as were not to be overcome by human
perseverance. I had returned to the creek with the intention of abiding
the fall of rain, and was not without hopes that it would have gladdened
us, for the sky about this time was very cloudy, and anywhere else but in
the low country in which we were, rain most assuredly would have fallen.
As it was, the clouds passed over us without breaking.

A lunar we here obtained placed us in longitude 138 degrees 15 minutes 31
seconds E., our latitude being 25 degrees 4 minutes 0 seconds S. Computed
from these data I deem I may fairly assume we were in 24 degrees 40
minutes 0 seconds S., and on the 138th meridian, when we stopped on the
8th; being then 470 geographical miles to the north of Mount Arden, about
350 from Mount Hopeless, and rather more than midway between the first of
those hills and the Gulf of Carpentaria. My readers will perhaps bear in
mind, that the object of this expedition was limited "to ascertaining the
existence and the character of a supposed chain of hills, or a succession
of separate hills, trending down from N.E. to S.W. and forming a great
natural division of the continent." I hope I do not take too much credit
to myself; if I say that I have set that question at rest; and that,
considering the nature of the country into which I penetrated, no such
chain can reasonably be supposed to exist. If, indeed, any mountains had
really been in the direction specified, it appears to me that I must have
discovered them, but, as far as my poor opinion goes, I think the sandy
ridges, both I and my readers have so much reason to hold in dread, are
as extensive on one side of the Stony Desert as the other. In truth, I
believe, that not only is such the case, but that the same region extends
with undiminished breadth even to the great Australian Bight, which
occupies a space along the south coast of the continent, as nearly as may
be of equal breadth with the sea-born Desert itself; and I cannot but
conclude that that remarkable wall, shewing a perpendicular front to the
ocean, but sloping inwards from the coast, was thrown up simultaneously
with the fossil bed of the Murray, during the time those convulsions, by
which the changes in the central parts of the continent, to which I have
already called attention, were going on. But I venture to give these
opinions with extreme diffidence; they may be contrary to general views
on the subject. I merely record my own impressions from what I have
observed, in the hope that I may assist the geologist in his inferences.
The ideas I would desire to convey are clear enough in my own mind, but I
must confess that I feel a great difficulty in placing them so forcibly
and so clearly before my readers as I could desire.



END OF VOLUME I





VOLUME II

TRAVELS IN AUSTRALIA




CHAPTER I.



REFLECTIONS ON OUR DIFFICULTIES--COMMENCE THE RETREAT--EYRE'S CREEK--PASS
THE NATIVE WELL--RECROSS THE STONY DESERT--FIND ANOTHER WELL WITHOUT
WATER--NATIVES--SUCCESSFUL FISHING--VALUE OF SHEEP--DECIDE ON A
RETREAT--PROPOSE THAT MR. BROWNE SHOULD LEAVE--HIS REFUSAL TO DESERT THE
PARTY--MR. BROWNE'S DECISION--PREPARE TO LEAVE THE CAMP--REMARKS ON THE
CLIMATE--AGAIN LEAVE THE DEPOT--SINGULAR EXPLOSION--DISCOVER A LARGE
CREEK--PROCEED TO THE NORTH--RECURRENCE OF SAND RIDGES--SALT WATER
LAKE--AGAIN STRIKE THE STONY DESERT--ATTEMPT TO CROSS IT.


To that man who is really earnest in the performance of his duty to the
last, and who has set his heart on the accomplishment of a great object,
the attainment of which would place his name high up in the roll of Fame;
to him who had well nigh reached the topmost step of the ladder, and
whose hand had all but grasped the pinnacle, the necessity must be great,
and the struggle of feeling severe, that forces him to bear back, and
abandon his task.

Let any man lay the map of Australia before him, and regard the blank
upon its surface, and then let me ask him if it would not be an
honourable achievement to be the first to place foot in its centre.

Men of undoubted perseverance and energy in vain had tried to work their
way to that distant and shrouded spot. A veil hung over Central Australia
that could neither be pierced or raised. Girt round about by deserts, it
almost appeared as if Nature had intentionally closed it upon civilized
man, that she might have one domain on the earth's wide field over which
the savage might roam in freedom.

I had traced down almost every inland river of the continent, and had
followed their courses for hundreds of miles, but, they had not led me to
its central regions. I had run the Castlereagh, the Macquarie, the
Lachlan, the Murrumbidgee, the Hume, the Darling, and the Murray down to
their respective terminations, but beyond them I had not passed--yet--I
looked upon Central Australia as a legitimate field, to explore which no
man had a greater claim than myself, and the first wish of my heart was
to close my services in the cause of Geography by dispelling the mists
that hung over it.

True it is that my friend Eyre had penetrated high up to the north of
Mount Arden, and there can be no doubt but that his ardent and chivalrous
spirit would have carried him far beyond the point he attained, if he had
not met unconquerable difficulties. I thought that a cooler and more
leisurely progress would enable me to feel my way into a country, whose
inhospitable character developed itself more the more it was penetrated.
I had adopted certain opinions, the correctness of which I was anxious to
test, and I thought the investigations I desired to make, were not only
worthy the pursuit of private ambition, but deserving the attention of
Her Majesty's Government. With these feelings I could not but be grateful
to Lord Stanley, for having entertained my proposition, and given me an
opportunity to distinguish myself. It is not because his Lordship is no
longer at the head of the Colonial Office, that I should refrain from
making my acknowledgments to him, and expressing the sense I entertain of
the obligation under which he has laid me. It so happened that the course
pointed out to me by Lord Stanley, and that in which I desired to go,
were the same, and I had hoped that in following up my instructions, I
should ultimately have gained the spot I so ardently desired to reach,
and to have left the flag of my native country flying over it.

The feelings then with which I returned to the creek after the failure of
our last attempt to penetrate to the north may well be imagined. I
returned to it, as I have said, with perhaps a sullen determination to
stand out the drought; but, on calm reflection, I found that I could not
do so. I could not indeed hide from myself that in the course of a few
days my retreat to the Depot would unavoidably be cut off if rain should
not fall. Looking to the chance of our being delayed until our provisions
should be consumed, and to the fact that we could not expect to get back
to the Depot in less than three weeks, and that I could not hope for any
amendment either in Mr. Browne or my men, so long as they were confined
to the scanty diet we then had. I determined on my return to the Park,
thence to take out fresh hands, and to make another attempt to penetrate
across the Desert in some other direction; but, as this measure, like our
detention at the Depot, would involve a great loss of time, I proposed to
myself again to divide the party, and to send Mr. Browne home with all
the men, except Mr. Stuart and two others. I saw no objection to such a
course, and certainly did not anticipate any opposition to it on the part
of my companion. I resolved then, with a due regard to his state, to
retrace my steps with all possible expedition; and, accordingly, directed
that everything should be prepared for our retreat on the morning of the
14th, for the sky had cleared, and all prospect of rain had again
vanished. Although we were here so close to the Tropic, the climate was
not oppressive. The general temperature after noon was 84 degrees, the
morning 46 degrees. The prevailing wind was from S.S.E. to E.S.E. and it
was invariably cold; at least we felt it so, and I regretted to observe,
that in Mr. Browne's case it caused a renewed attack of violent pains in
the muscles and joints, from which he had before been somewhat free. It
is also remarkable, that up to this distant point, no material change had
taken place in the character of the vegetation; with the exception of the
few trees and plants I have mentioned the herbage of these sterile
regions, and of the Darling were essentially the same, only with this
difference, that here they were all more or less stunted, whereas, in the
month of October, when we passed up the Darling, they were only just
flowering, now in the month of September they had ripened their seed.

Before we commenced our journey back to the Depot, I named this "Eyre's
Creek." No doubt it is an important feature in the country where it
exists. Like the other creeks, however, it rises in plains, and either
terminates in such or falls into the Stony Desert. There can be no doubt,
however, that to any one desiring to cross the continent to the north,
Eyre's Creek would afford great facilities; and if the traveller happened
fortunately to arrive on it at a favourable moment he would have every
chance of success.

For twelve miles below the salt lagoon there is not a blade of grass
either in the bed of the creek or on the neighbouring flats, the soil of
both being a stiff cold clay. We passed this ungenial line, therefore,
and encamped near a fine pool of water, where both our own wants and
those of our horses, as far as feed and water went, were abundantly
supplied.

In going along one of the flats, before we discovered the creek, Mr.
Browne and I had chased a Dipus into a hollow log, and there secured it.
This pretty animal we put into a box; but as it appeared to eat but
little grass, we gave it some small birds, which it always devoured at
night. Our dogs had killed one on the banks of the Darling, but had so
mutilated it, that we could not preserve it. We hoped, however, to keep
this animal alive, and up to the present time there was every chance of
our doing so. It was an exceedingly pretty animal, of a light grey
colour, having a long tail, feathered at the end, insectivorous, and not
marsupial. On the 16th we turned from the creek to the south, and passed
down the long flat up which we had previously come. On the following day
we passed several of the hollows scraped by the natives, and in one of
them found a little water, that must have accumulated in it from the
drizzly showers that fell on the night of the 8th, and which might have
been heavier here than with us. On the 19th we arrived at the creek where
Flood's horse was lost, but could not make out any track to betray that
he had been to water, and as there was not enough remaining in the pond
for our use, we crossed the plain, over which we had had so much
difficulty in travelling, and halted for a short time at the native well,
out of which numbers of birds flew as we approached. From the Box-tree
Forest we pushed on down the polygonum flat, where we had seen the native
woman who had secreted herself in the bush. A whole family was now in the
same place, but an old man only approached us. We were, indeed, passing,
when he called to us, expressly for the purpose of telling us that the
horse (Flood's) had gone away to the eastward. This native came out of
his way, and evidently under considerable alarm, to tell us this, and to
point out the direction in which he had gone, Our stock of presents being
pretty nearly exhausted, Mr. Browne, with his characteristic good nature,
gave him a striped handkerchief, with which he was much pleased. As it
was evident the poor horse had kept along the edge of the Desert, and as
he was a wandering brute, not caring for companions, it was uncertain to
what distance he had rambled, I did not, therefore, lose time by
attempting to recover him. We were all of us sure that he would not face
the Stony Desert, but he may still be alive, and wandering over that
sterile country. We stopped for the night on the long channel near the
sandy rise where we had before rested, about ten miles short of our camp,
and the trees on the muddy plain; and having effected our passage across
that plain and the Stony Desert, over which it was with extreme
difficulty that we kept our track, found ourselves on the 22nd, in the
little grassy valley, from which we had entered upon it; little water was
remaining, however, at the place where we had then stopped, so that I
sent over to the sequestered spot Lewis had discovered, but the water
there had entirely disappeared. Flood managed to shoot a couple of ducks
(Teal), of which there were four or five that flew away to the
south-east. These two birds were, I may truly say, a God-send, and I beg
to assure the reader they were uncommonly good.

From this valley we had to cross the heavy sand ridges which had so
fatigued our horses before, and I hardly expected we should find water
nearer than the Fish Pond. We therefore started early to get over the
distance as soon as possible, and, as on the outward journey, had a most
severe task of it. The ridges were certainly most formidable, although
they were not of such size as those from which we had retreated. At six
miles we crossed the salt lagoon, and late in the afternoon descended to
the box-tree forest before mentioned, having the grassy plains now upon
the left-hand side. The sandy ridges overlooked these plains, so that in
riding along we noticed some natives, seven in number, collecting grass
seeds upon them, on which alone, it appears to me, they subsist at this
season of the year. However, as soon as they saw us, they all ran away in
more than usual alarm, perhaps from the recollection of our
misunderstanding with Mr. Popinjay. Their presence, however, assured us
that there must be water somewhere about, and as on entering the plain,
more to the west than before, we struck on a track, I directed Mr. Browne
to run it down, who, at about half-a-mile, came to a large well similar
to that in the creek on the other side of the Stony Desert, but not of
the same dimensions. We had lost sight of him for some little time, when
suddenly his horse made his appearance without a rider, and caused me
great anxiety for the moment, for my mind immediately reverted to our
sulky friend, and my fears were at once raised that my young companion
had been speared; riding on, therefore, I came at length to the well,
down which, to my inexpressible relief, I saw Mr. Browne, who was
examining it, and who came out on my calling to him. There was not
sufficient water to render it worth our while to stop; but the well being
nine feet deep, shewed the succession of strata as follows: four feet of
good alluvial soil; three feet of white clay; and two feet of sea sand.

I should perhaps have been more particular in the description of our
interview with the old man and his family on the northern side of the
earthy plain. As I have stated, he called out to us, and in order to
discover what he wanted, I held Mr. Browne's horse, while he dismounted
and went to him. The old native would not, however, sit down, but pointed
to the S.E. as the direction in which, as far as we could understand, the
horse, "cadli" (dog), as he called him, the only large four-legged brute
of which he knew any thing, had gone. The poor fellow cried, and the
tears rolled down his cheeks when he first met Mr. Browne, and the women
chanted a most melancholy air during the time we remained, to keep the
evil spirits off, I suppose; but they had nothing to fear from us, if
they could only have known it. This confusion of tongues is a sad
difficulty in travelling the wilds of Australia. Both the old man and the
women wanted the two front teeth of the upper jaw, and as the former had
worn his down almost to a level with his gums like an old horse, he
looked sadly disfigured.

We halted about three miles short of the place at which we had before
stopped, but as Joseph followed some pigeons to a clump of trees across
the plain at about a mile distance, and there found a small pond of
water, we moved over to it, and remained stationary on the following day
to rest our wearied animals.

The 24th again saw us at the Fish Pond, where Mr. Browne again exhibited
his skill in the gentle craft, and caught a good dish of the finny tribe.
The mystery as to how these fish could have got into so isolated a spot,
was not yet cleared up, and I was really puzzled on the subject.

On the 27th, as we were crossing the country between the creeks, some
natives came in from the north and called out to us, in consequence of
which Mr. Browne and I rode up to them. They were in a sad state of
suffering from the want of water; their lips cracked, and their tongues
swelled. They had evidently lingered at some place or other, until all
the water, intermediate between them and the creeks had dried up. The
little water we had was not sufficient to allay their thirst, so they
left us, and at a sharp trot disappeared over the sand hill.

On the 29th our journey over the sandy ridges was very distressing. They
appeared to me to be much more numerous, and the valleys between them
much more sandy than when we first passed over them, and were thickly
covered with spinifex, although grass was also tolerably abundant in the
flats. At this stage of our journey, I was the only one of the party who
was not ill; Mr. Browne and all the men were suffering, added to which,
the men were fairly knocked up. Their labours were now, however, drawing
to a close, and I was only too thankful, that I retained my strength.

We had crossed the first or Strzelecki's Creek on the 29th, and had
halted that night without water. During it some of the horses broke loose
and wandered back; but Flood and Joseph soon overtook and brought them
back. We should have had a distance of 85 miles to travel without water,
but fortunately the precaution we had taken of digging wells in going
out, insured us a supply in one of them, so that our return over this
last long and dry tract of country was comparatively light, and we gained
the Park and joined Mr. Stuart at the stockade on the evening of the 2nd
of October, after an absence of seven weeks, during which we had ridden
more than 800 miles. Had it not been for the precaution of digging these
wells, I do not think that two or three of the horses would have reached
their journey's end. We only found water in one, it is true, but that one
was of the most essential service, inasmuch as it saved several of our
animals; and this is a point, I hope future travellers in such a country
will bear in mind. Mr. Browne found it necessary to put all the men on
the sick list, and their comrades made them as comfortable as they could,
after their late fatigues.

It was a great satisfaction to me to learn that everything had gone on
well at the camp during my absence; Mr. Stuart had a good report to make
of all. The cattle had been duly attended to, and had become exceedingly
tame and quiet. The sheep were in splendid condition, but their flesh had
a peculiar flavour--and that, too, not a very agreeable one, still their
value was unquestionable, for if we had been living on salt provisions,
it is more than probable that half of the party would have been left in
the desert. The practicability of taking a flock of sheep into the
interior, had now been fully proved in our case, at all events; but I am
ready to admit that they are, notwithstanding, a precarious supply, and
that unless great care be taken, they may be lost. The men, however,
appeared to consider them of far too great importance to be neglected,
and I think that when taken, they will for that very reason be well
looked after.

The stockade had been erected and really looked very well; it was built
just as I had directed, with the flag flying at the entrance. I availed
myself of the opportunity, therefore, to call it "Fort Grey," after his
Excellency the then Governor of South Australia.

Mr. Stuart informed me that a few natives only had visited the camp; but
that on one occasion some of them appeared armed, being as they said on
their way to a grand fight, four of their tribe having been killed in a
recent encounter. Only the day before, however, a party had visited the
camp, one of whom had stolen Davenport's blanket. He was pretty sure of
the thief, however, so we did not despair of getting it back again.

I observed that when we were on Eyre's Creek, the climate and temperature
were cool and agreeable. From that period the heat had considerably
increased, and the thermometer now ranged from 96 to 100 degrees. The
wind having settled in its old quarter the E.S.E., in this latitude was
not so cold as we had felt it in a more northerly one. Why it should have
been so, it is difficult to say: we know the kind of country over which
an E.S.E. wind must pass between the coast and the latitude of Fort Grey,
and could not expect that it should be other than hot, but we are
ignorant of the kind of country over which it may sweep higher up to the
north. Can it be that there is a large body of water in that quarter? We
shall soon have to record something to strengthen that supposition. About
this period the sky was generally cloudy, and, as I have before remarked,
in any other region it would have rained, but here only a few drops fell,
no signs of which remained half an hour afterwards; the barometer,
however, was very low, and it was not unreasonable to have encouraged
hopes of a favourable change.

On the 3rd the natives who had visited the camp before our return, again
came, together with the young boy who Davenport suspected had stolen his
blanket. He charged him with the theft, therefore, and told him not to
return to the tents again without it, explaining at the same time what he
had said, to the other natives. The boy went away before the rest, but
all of them returned the next day, and he gave up the blanket. On hearing
this, I went out and praised him, and as he appeared to be sorry for his
offence, I gave him a knife, in which I believe I erred, for we
afterwards learnt, that the surrender of the blanket was not a voluntary
act, but that he had been punished, and forced to restore it by his
tribe. I cannot help thinking, however, that if the theft had not been
discovered, the young rogue would have been applauded for his dexterity.

I had, during my journey back to the Depot, sat up to a late hour
writing, that no delay might take place in my intended arrangements on
our arrival at Fort Grey. In revolving in my own mind the state of the
country, I felt satisfied that, although the water had decreased
fearfully since the July rain, the road was still open for Mr. Browne to
make good his retreat, but it was quite uncertain how long it might
continue so. It was evident, indeed, that neither he nor myself had any
time to lose, but I waited for a few days before I broke the subject to
him, reluctant as I was to hasten his departure, and feeling I should
often have to regret the loss of such a companion. The varied reverses
and disappointments we had encountered together, and the peculiar
character of the expedition, had, as far as Mr. Browne and myself were
concerned, removed all restraint, and left to ourselves in that dreary
wilderness, we regarded each other as friends only, who were united in a
common cause, in the success of which we were almost equally interested.
I knew, therefore, that the proposal I was about to make would give him
pain; but I counted on his acquiescence, and as time would not admit of
delay, I availed myself of an opportunity that presented itself the third
day after our return, to break it to him.

As we were sitting in the tent after dinner, with our tea still before
us, I said to him, "I am afraid, Browne, from what I have observed, that
you have mistaken the object for which I have returned to the Depot, and
that you have been buoying yourself up with the hope that it is done
preparatory to our return to Adelaide; for myself I cannot encourage any
such hope for the present, at least. So far indeed from this, I have for
some time been reflecting as to the most prudent course to be pursued
under our present circumstances; for, I would not conceal from you the
pain I have felt at the failure of our endeavours to penetrate farther
than we have been able to do into the interior, neither can I conceal
from myself the fact, that whatever our personal exertions, the results
of our labours have not been commensurate with our expectations, and that
however great our perseverance or however difficult the task we have had
to perform, the world at large will alone judge of its merits by its
success. In considering how we can yet retrieve our misfortunes, one only
step occurs to me, and whatever pain our separation may cost us, I am
sure, where the interests of the services call for it, you will readily
comply with my wishes. I propose, then, your return to Adelaide, with all
the party but three; that you should leave me five horses, and take with
you only such provisions as you may absolutely require upon the road. By
such an arrangement I might yet hold out against the drought, and
ultimately succeed in doing something to make up for the past." My young
friend was evidently unprepared for the proposition I had made. "You have
done all you were sent out to do," he observed, "why then seek to
penetrate again into that horrid desert? It is impossible that you can
succeed during the continuance of the dry weather. If you now go you will
never get back again; besides, have you," he asked, "made any
calculations as to the means both of provisions and carriage you will
require?" "That," I replied, "is for my consideration, but I have done
so, and it appears to me that both are ample." "Well," said Mr. Browne,
"it may be so, I do not know, but I can never consent to leave you in
this dreadful desert. Ask me to do anything else, and I will do it; but I
cannot and will not desert you." It was in vain that I assured him, he
took a wrong view of the matter. That, as I had sent Mr. Poole home to
increase my means, so I wished to send him, and that he would be
rendering me as valuable, though not such agreeable service, as if he
continued with me. "You know, Browne," I added, "that the eyes of the
geographical world are fixed on me, and that I have a previous reputation
to maintain; with you it is different. If I hoped to make any discovery I
would not ask you to leave me. Believe me, I would that you shared the
honour as you have shared the privations and anxieties of this desert
with me; but I entertain no such hope, and would save you from further
exposure. I have not seen enough of this dreary region to satisfy me as
to its present condition. How then shall I satisfy others? That Stony
Desert was, I believe, the bed of a former stream, but how can I speak
decidedly on the little I have observed of it. No! as we have been forced
back from one point, I must try another,--and I hope you will not throw
any impediment in the way. There is every reason why you should return to
Adelaide: your health is seriously impaired,--you are in constant
pain,--and your affairs are going to ruin; on all these considerations I
would urge you to comply with my wishes." Mr. Browne admitted the truth
of what I said, but felt certain that if he left, it would only be to
hear of my having perished in that horrid desert,--that my life was too
valuable to others to be so thrown away,--that he owed me too much to
forsake me, and that he could not do that of which his conscience would
ever after reproach him;--that his brother would attend to his interests,
and that if it were otherwise, it would be no excuse for him to desert
his friend,--that he would acquiesce in any other arrangement, but to
leave me he could not. "Well," I said, "I ask nothing unreasonable from
you, nothing but what the sternness of duty calls for; and if you will
not yield to friendly solicitations, I must order you home." "I cannot
go," he replied; "I do not care for any pecuniary reward for my services,
and will give it up: I want no pay, but desert you I will not." The
reader will better imagine than I can describe, such a scene passing in
the heart of a wilderness, and under such circumstances I may not state
all that passed; suffice it to say, that we at length separated, with an
assurance on Mr. Browne's part, that he would consider what I had
proposed, and speak to me again in the morning. The morning came, and
after breakfast, he said he had endeavoured to force himself into a
compliance with my wishes, but to no purpose;--that he could not leave
me, and had made up his mind to take the consequences. It was in vain
that I remonstrated, and I therefore ceased to importune him on a point
which, however much I might regret his decision, I could not but feel
that he was influenced by the most disinterested anxiety for my safety.
But it became necessary to make some other arrangements; I had already
been four days idle, and it was not my intention to let the week so pass
over my head. Mr. Browne was too ill to accompany me again into the
field. I sent, therefore, for Mr. Stuart, and told him to put up ten
weeks provisions for four men,--to warn Morgan and Mack that I should
require them to attend me when I again left the camp,--and to hold
himself and them in readiness to commence the journey the day but one
following; as I felt the horses required the rest I should myself
otherwise have rejected.

I then sent for Mr. Browne, and told him that I proposed leaving the
stockade in two days, by which time I hoped the horses would in some
measure have recovered from their fatigues,--that as he could not attend
me, I should take Mr. Stuart with two fresh men,--that in making my
arrangements I found that I should be obliged to take all the horses but
two, the one he rode and a weaker animal; to this, however, he would by
no means consent--entreating me to take his horse also, as he felt
assured I should want all the strength I could get.

No rain had as yet fallen, but every day the heat was increasing: the
thermometer rising, even thus early in the season, to 98 degrees and 100
degrees in the shade, and the wind keeping steadily to the E.S.E. The
country was so dry, and the largest pools of water had so diminished in
quantity, that I doubted whether or not I should be able to get on, since
as it was I should have to travel the first 86 miles without water, there
being none in any other direction to the north of us. Even the large
sheet in the first creek, to which I proposed going, had fearfully
shrunk. But what gave me most uneasiness, was the reduced state of water
on which the men and animals depended. From a fine broad sheet it was now
confined within the limits of its own narrow channel, and I felt
satisfied that if I should be absent many weeks, Mr. Browne would be
obliged to abandon his position. Foreseeing this contingency, I arranged
with him that in the event of his finding it necessary to retire, he
should fall back on the little creek, near the old Depot. That before he
finally broke up the camp, he should dig a hole in some favourable part
of the creek into which the water he might leave would drain, so as to
insure on my return as much as possible, and we marked a tree under which
he was to bury a bottle, with a letter in it to inform me of his intended
movements. Nothing could have been more marked or more attentive than Mr.
Browne's manner to me, and I am sure he saw me mount my horse to depart
with sincere regret; but the interval between the conclusion of these
arrangements and the day fixed on to resume my labours soon passed over,
although I deferred it to the 9th, in consequence of Flood's assuring me
that the horses required the additional rest.

I had, indeed, been the more disposed to postpone the day of my
departure, because I hoped, from appearances, that rain would fall, but I
was disappointed. On the 6th it was very close, and heavy clouds passed
over us from the N.E., our rainy quarter, towards the Mount Serle ranges,
but still no rain fell on the depressed and devoted region in which we
were. At eight, however, it rained slightly for about a quarter of an
hour, and the horizon was black with storm clouds; all night heavy
thunder rolled in the distance, both to the west and east of us; my ear
caught that joyful sound as I laid on my mattress, and I fervently prayed
that it might be the precursor of a fall.

I could not but hope, that, in the ordinary course of events, to revive
and to support nature, the great Author of it would have blessed the
land, desert as it was, with moisture at last, but I listened in vain for
the pattering of rain, no drops, whether heavy or light, fell on my tent.
The morning of the 7th dawned fair and clear; the sun rose in unshrouded
splendour; and crossed the heavens on that day without the intervention
of a cloud to obscure his disc for a moment. If then I except the rain of
July, which lasted, at intervals, for three days, we had not had any for
eleven months. Under the withering effects of this long continued
drought, the vegetable kingdom was again at a stand; and we ourselves
might be said to have been contending so long against the elements. No
European in that respect had ever been more severely tried.

The day before we commenced our journey to the north it was exceedingly
hot, the thermometer rose to 106 degrees in the shade, and thus early in
the season were we forewarned of what we might expect when the sun should
become more vertical. In the afternoon the old man who had visited us
just before we commenced our late journey, arrived in the camp with his
two wives, and a nice little girl about eleven, with flowing curly hair,
the cleanliness and polish of which would have done credit to the
prettiest head that ever was adorned with such. They came in from the
S.W., and were eagerly passing our tents, without saying a word, and
making for the water, when we called to them and supplied all their
wants. The poor things were almost perishing from thirst, and seized the
pannikins with astonishing avidity, when they saw that they contained
water, and had them replenished several times. It happened also
fortunately for them, that the lamb of the only ewe we had with us, and
which had been dropped a few weeks before, got a coup de soleil, in
consequence of which I ordered it to be killed, and given to the old man
and his family for supper. This they all of them appeared to enjoy
uncommonly, and very little of it was left after their first meal. The
old man seemed to be perfectly aware that we had been out, but shook his
head when I made him understand that I was going out again in the
morning.

I determined, on the journey I was about to commence, to run on a due
north course from the first "Strzelecki's Creek," as soon as I should
reach it, and to penetrate the interior in that direction as far as
circumstances might justify. As the reader will have concluded from the
observations I have made, it had occurred to me that the Stony Desert had
been the bed of a former stream, and I felt satisfied that if I was right
in that conclusion, I should certainly strike it again. My object,
therefore, was to keep at such a distance from my last course, as should
leave no doubt of that fact upon my mind; it appeared to me that a due
northerly course would about meet my views, and that if the Stony Desert
was what I supposed it to have been, I should come upon it about two
degrees to the eastward of where I had already crossed it. In pushing up
to the north I also hoped that I might find a termination to the sandy
ridges, although I could not expect to get into any very good country,
for from what we saw to the north it was evidently much lower than that
over which we had passed, and I therefore looked for a cessation of the
sandy ridges we had before been so severely distressed on passing.

I shook hands with Mr. Browne about half-past eight on the morning of the
9th of October, and left the depot camp at Fort Grey, with Mr. Stuart,
Morgan and Mack, taking with me a ten-weeks' supply of flour and tea. I
once more struck into the track I had already twice traversed, with the
intention of turning to the north as soon as I should gain Strzelecki's
Creek. As we rode over the sand-hills, they appeared as nothing to me,
after the immense accumulations of sand we had crossed when Mr. Browne
and I were out together. We stopped short of the flat in which we had
sunk the largest well on that occasion, to give the horses time to feed a
little before sunset, and not to hurry them too much at starting. The day
was exceedingly warm, and the wind from the N.E. A few heat-drops fell
during the night, but the short thunder shower at the Depot on the Sunday
did not appear to have extended so far as where we then were.
Nevertheless it would appear, that these low regions are simultaneously
affected by any fall of rain; for there can be no doubt as to that of
July having extended all over the desert interior, and the drizzling
shower we had at the head of the northern Eyre's Creek, just as we were
about to retrace our steps, having been felt the same day at the camp. I
have just said that the day had been exceedingly hot, with the wind from
the N.E., a quarter from whence we might naturally have expected that it
would have blown warm; but I would observe, that before Mr. Browne and I
passed the Stony Desert on our recent excursion, the winds from that
point were unusually cold, and continued so until after we had crossed
the Desert, and pushed farther up to the north, when they changed from
cold to heat. I will not venture any conjecture as to the cause of this,
because I can give no solution to the question, but leave it to the
ingenuity of my readers, who are as well able to judge of such a fact as
myself.

I would also advert to a circumstance I neglected to mention in its
proper place, but which may be as forcibly done now as at the time it
occurred. When Mr. Browne and I were on our recent journey to the north,
after having crossed the Stony Desert, being then between it and Eyre's
Creek, about nine o'clock in the morning, we distinctly heard a report as
of a great gun discharged, to the westward, at the distance of half a
mile. On the following morning, nearly at the same hour, we again heard
the sound; but it now came from a greater distance, and consequently was
not so clear. When I was on the Darling, in lat. 30 degrees, in 1828, I
was roused from my work by a similar report; but neither on that
occasion, or on this, could I solve the mystery in which it was involved.
It might, indeed, have been some gaseous explosion, but I never, in the
interior, saw any indication of such phenomena.

We were obliged to fasten up our horses to prevent them from straying for
water, and had, therefore, nothing to do but to saddle them on the
morning of the 10th, and started at six. Our journey the day before had
been 33 miles: this day we rode about 36, to the little muddy creek the
the reader will, I have no doubt, call to mind. In it, contrary to my
expectation, we found a small supply of water, though difficult to get;
and I halted at it, therefore, for the night, and reached the Strzelecki
Creek about half-past ten on the morning of the 11th, in which I was
rejoiced to find that the water was far from being exhausted. Turning
northwards up the creek, I halted about half-past one at the upper pool,
about seven miles from the first. As far as this point the lay of the
sand ridges was N.N.E. and S.S.W.

As Mr. Browne had stated to me, the country to the north was much more
open from the point at which we now were than to the west. A vast plain,
indeed, met the horizon in the first direction, and as we rode up it on
the 12th, we observed that it was bounded at irregular distances, varying
from three to six miles, on either side of us, by low sand hills. The
whole plain was evidently subject to flood, and the travelling in some
places was exceedingly heavy. We had ridden from early dawn until the sun
had sunk below the horizon, without seeing any apparent termination to
this plain, or the slightest indication of water. Just as it was twilight
we got on a polygonum flat; there being a little sand hill on one side of
it, under which I determined to stop for the night.

While the men were tethering the horses on the best part of the flat,
where there happened to be a little green grass, Mr. Stuart and I walked
up the sand hill; but in the obscure light then prevailing, we could not
see any thing distinctly. It appeared, however, that the country before
us was traversed by a belt either of forest or of scrub; there was a long
dark line running across the country, but we could not make out what it
was, so that we descended to our little bivouac full of hope, and anxious
for the morning dawn to satisfy ourselves as to what we had been looking
at. Day had scarcely broke when we were again on the hill; and as objects
became clearer, saw a broad belt of gum-trees extending from the
southward of east to the north-west. It was bounded on either side by
immense plains, on which were here and there ridges of sand, but at a
great distance from each other. There was another small sand hill distant
four miles, and an apparently high and broken chain of mountains was
visible to the N.E., distant more than 50 miles. The trees were not more
than three miles from us, and were denser and seemingly larger than any
we had seen; and although we could not see any water glittering amidst
the foliage, yet I could not but hope that we were on the eve of some
important discovery. There were likewise mountains in the distance, with
broken lofty peaks, exactly resembling the Mount Serle chain, and I
ventured to hope that I had at length found a way to escape from the
gloomy region to which we had been so long confined. Descending from our
position we pushed for a dark mass of foliage to the N.E., and shortly
after crossing the dry bed of a lagoon, found ourselves riding through an
open box-tree forest, amidst an abundance of grass. At half a mile
further we were brought up by our arrival on the banks of a magnificent
channel. There was a large sheet of water to our left, covered with wild
fowl. Flooded gum-trees of large size grew on its banks, and its
appearance was altogether imposing. I stood looking in admiration on the
broad mirror so close to me, and upon a sight so unusual; and I deeply
regretted at that moment that Mr. Browne was not with me to enjoy the
gratification of such a scene.

We dismounted and turned our horses out to feed on the long grass in the
bed of this beautiful creek, and whilst Morgan prepared breakfast, Mr.
Stuart and Mack took their guns and knocked over three ducks, that were,
I suppose, never used to be so taken in; but the remainder would not
stand fire long, and flew off to the eastward. As they passed, however, I
snatched up a carbine, and, without taking any aim, discharged it into
the midst of them, and brought one of their number down--the only bird I
had shot for many years.

After giving the horses a good feed and a good rest, I crossed the
channel of the creek to ascend the little hill I had seen from our
morning position, that by taking bearings of the distant ranges from
both, I might arrive at their approximate distance from me. From this
little hill the prospect was much the same as from the first, only that
the distant ranges seemed to be still higher, and there was a long line
either of water or mirage at their base, and we now appeared to be in a
belt of wood, for the hill on which we stood, rose in the midst of the
trees, and our eyes wandered over the tops of them to the distant plains.
We descended from it northwards, but had not gone half a mile, when we
were again stopped by another creek, still broader and finer than the
first. The breadth of its channel was more than 200 yards, its banks were
from fifteen to eighteen feet high, and it had splendid sheets of water
both above and below us. The natives, whose broad and well beaten paths
leading from angle to angle of the creek we had crossed on our approach
to it, had fired the grass, and it was now springing up in the bed of the
most beautiful green. I determined, therefore, to stay where I was until
the following day, to give my animals the food and rest they so much
required, and myself time for reflection. We accordingly dismounted, and
turned the horses out, and it was really a pleasure to see them in
clover.

The whole bed of the creek was of a vivid green, excepting where gravel
had been deposited in it, but the animals kept on the grass, close to the
water's edge. As we had approached the creek through a belt of wood, so
it extended on the other side for a considerable distance into the
plains, but the soil was not so good as in the neighbourhood of the first
channel we had crossed, since bushes of rhagodia were growing underneath
the trees, as indicative of a slight mixture of salt in the earth. The
appearance of the creek, however, embosomed as it was in wood, was very
fine, more especially the upward view of it, where there was a splendid
sheet of water, in the centre of which the branches of a huge tree
appeared reflected, the trunk being completely hid. About a quarter of a
mile above us a tributary joins the main branch from the eastward, that
when flooded must have a fall of three or four feet, and something of the
character of a Canadian rapid.

When I sat down beside the waters of the beautiful channel to which
Providence in its goodness had been pleased to direct my steps, I felt
more than I had ever done in my life, the responsibility of the task I
had undertaken. When I left the Depot I had determined on keeping a
northerly course into the interior, for the reasons I have already
assigned; but knowing the state of the country as I did, and the little
chance there was of finding water on its parched and yawning surface, I
now hesitated whether I should persevere in my first determination, or
proceed in the examination of this new feature, and of the mountain
ranges to the N.E. both of which I had every reason to hope would lead me
out of the present fearful desert into a better country. Any one perhaps
less experienced than myself in the treacherous character of the most
promising river of the Australian Continent, would have acted
differently. It would in all probability have occurred to them to trace
the creek, either upwards or downwards, in the hope of its leading to
something better. It was clear, however, that the first channel I had
crossed, was a branch only of that upon which I was resting, and by which
the plains I had traversed on approaching it were laid under water, and I
felt assured that if my conclusion as to the Stony Desert was correct, I
should derive no advantage in tracing the creek downwards, since I knew
it would either terminate in extensive grassy plains as I had found other
creeks to do, or be lost on the broad surface of the Stony Desert. Taking
every thing into consideration, I had resolved on turning to the
eastward, to examine the upward course of the creek, believing it more
than probable that it would lead me into the hills, but, as I was
weighing these things in my mind, the sky became suddenly overcast and a
thunder-storm passed over us, which for the short half hour it continued
was of unusual violence, filling all the little hollows on the plains,
and chequering them over with sheets of water. The road northwards being
thus thrown open to me, I returned to my original purpose, and determined
on the morrow to pursue a northerly course directly into the interior, in
the hope that ere the surface water left by the thunder-storm should be
dried up, I might reach such another creek as the one I was about to
quit, or find some other such permanent place of safety; leaving the
examination of the upper branches of the creek, and of the mountain
ranges to the period of my return. Accordingly on the morning of the
13th, we left our position, crossing to the proper right bank of the
creek, and breaking through the nearer box tree forest, traversed open
plains, the soil of which was principally sand, but there was an
abundance of grass upon them, and they were somewhat elevated above the
more alluvial flats near the creek. At 2 1/2 miles we crossed a large
tributary from the N.E., the main branch trended to the N.W., and we kept
the belt of trees in view as we rode along, during the greater part of
the day. At seven miles we descended a little from the grassy plains to a
flooded plain of considerable extent, but again rose from it to the sandy
level, and finding a small puddle of rain water at 36 miles I halted.

As I was about to trust entirely to the supply of water left by the
recent storm, and knew not to what distance it had extended, I felt it
necessary to take every precaution to insure our retreat. We worked,
therefore, by the light of the moon, and dug a square pit, into which we
drained all the water that remained after the horses had satisfied
themselves in the morning, but the quantity was so small that I scarcely
hoped to derive any advantage from it on our return; and it was really
the zeal of Morgan and Mack that induced me to allow them to finish it.
Warm as the weather had been at Fort Grey, the night was bitterly cold,
with the wind from the S.S.E. We left this, our first well, at early
dawn, riding across a continuation of the same grassy and sandy land as
that we had journeyed over the day before, only that it had many bare
patches upon it full of water, the undersoil being a red clay. The same
kind of tree we had seen to the eastward, between the old Depot and the
Darling, and which I had there taken to be a species of Juglans,
prevailed hereabouts in sheltered places.

The creek line of trees was was still visible to our left, so that it
must have come up a little more to the north. We crossed several native
paths leading to it: the impression of an enormous foot was on one of
them. At eight miles we descended to a flooded plain, scattered over with
stunted box-trees, the greater number being dead, and I may remark that
we generally found such to be the case on lands of a similar description;
a fact, it appears to me, that can only be accounted for from the
long-continued drought to which these unhappy regions are subject. These
flooded plains are generally torn to pieces by cracks of four, six, and
eight feet deep, of a depth, indeed, far below that at which I should
imagine trees draw their support; but the box-tree spreads its roots very
near the surface of the ground, having, I suppose, no prominent tap root,
and can therefore receive no moisture from such a soil as that in which
we so often found it in premature decay; the excess of moisture at one
time, and the want of it at another, must be injurious to trees and
plants of all kinds, and this circumstance may be a principal cause of
the deficiency of timber in the interior of Australia.

From the level, we ascended to sandy and grassy plains as before, but
they were now bounded by sandy ridges of a red colour, and partly covered
with spinifex. I really shuddered at the re-appearance of those solid
waves which I had hoped we had left behind, but such was not the case. At
six miles we arrived at the base, and ascending one of them, found that
it was flanked on both sides by others; the space between the ridges
being occupied by the white and dry beds of salt lagoons. The reader
will, I am sure, sympathise with me in these repeated disappointments,
for the very aspect of these dreaded deposits, if I may so call them,
withered hope. To whatever point of the compass I turned, whether to the
west, to the north, or to the east, these heart-depressing features
existed to damp the spirits of my men, and irresistibly to depress my
own; but it was not for me to repine under such circumstances, I had
undertaken a task, and in the performance of it had to take the country
as it laid before me, whether a Desert or an Eden. Still whatever moral
convictions we may have, we cannot always control our feelings. The
direction of the ridges was nearly north and south, somewhat to the
westward of the first point, so that at a distance of more than two
degrees to the eastward they almost preserved their parallelism. We rode
along the base of a ridge for about three miles, but as on ascending it
to take a survey, I observed that at about a mile beyond, it terminated,
and that the dry bed of the lagoon to our right passed into a plain of
great breadth immediately in front, the character and appearance of which
was very doubtful, and as it was now sunset, and we had journeyed upwards
of 34 miles, I halted for the night at another puddle, rather larger than
the last, but with sorry feed for the horses. At this place we dug our
second well, by moonlight, as we had dug the first, and laid down on the
ground to rest, fatigued, I candidly admit, both in mind and body.

The day had been exceedingly cold, as was the night, and on the following
morning with the wind at S.S.E., and a clear and cloudless sky, the
temperature still continued low. At about a mile from where we had
bivouacked, we arrived at the termination of the sandy ridge, and
descended into the plain I had been reluctant to traverse in the
uncertain light of evening. It proved firm, however, though it was
evidently subject to floods. Samphire, salsolae, and mesembryanthemum
were growing on it, and one would have supposed from its appearance that
it was a sea marsh. Mr. Stuart shot a beautiful ground parrot as we were
crossing it, on a bearing of 345 degrees, or little more than a N. and by
W. course. At 6 1/2 miles we ascended some heavy sandy ridges, without
any regularity in their disposition, but lying in great confusion.
Toiling over these, at seven or eight miles farther we sighted a fine
sheet of water, bearing N. and distant about two miles. At another mile I
altered my course to 325 degrees, to pass to the westward of this new
feature, which then proved to be a lake about the size of Lake Bonney,
that is to say from 10 to 12 miles in circumference. The ridge by which
we had approached it terminated suddenly and directly over it; to our
right there were other ridges terminating in a similar manner, with rushy
flats between them; eastward the country was dark and very low; to the
north there was a desert of glittering white sand in low hillocks,
scattered over with dwarf brush, and on it the heat was playing as over a
furnace. Immediately beneath me to the west there was a flat leading to
the shore of the lake, and on the western side a bright red sand hill,
full eighty feet high, shut out the view in that quarter. This ridge was
not altogether a mile and a half in length, and behind it there were
other ridges of the same colour bounding the horizon with edges as sharp
as icebergs.

I did not yet know whether the waters of the lake were salt or fresh,
although I feared they were salt. Looking on it, however, I saw clearly
that it was very shallow; a line of poles ran across it, such as are used
by the natives for catching wild fowl, of which there were an abundance,
as well as of hematops on the water. As soon as we descended from the
sand ridge we got on a narrow native path, that led us down to a hut,
about 100 yards from the shore of the lake.

As we approached the water, the effluvia from it was exceedingly
offensive, and the ground became a soft, black muddy sand. On tasting it
we found that the water was neither one thing or the other, neither salt
or fresh, but wholly unfit for use. Close to its margin there was a broad
path leading to the eastward, or rather round the lake; and under the
sand ridge to the west, were twenty-seven huts, but they had long been
deserted, and were falling to decay. Nevertheless they proved that the
waters of the lake were sometimes drinkable, or that the natives had some
other supply of fresh water at no great distance, from whence they could
easily come to take wild fowl, nor could I doubt such place would be the
creek.

Notwithstanding that the water was so bad, I tried several places by
digging, but invariably came to salt water, oozing through black mud, and
I there fore presumed that a good deal of rain must have fallen
hereabouts, to have tempered the water of the lake so much; which it
struck me would otherwise have been quite saline. From the point where we
first came down upon it, we traversed a flat beach covered with a short
coarse rush, having the high red sand hill, of which I have spoken, to
our left; before us a vast extent of low white sand, and to the eastward
an extremely dark and depressed country. I was really afraid of entering
on the scorching sands in our front, for we were now full 90 miles from
the creek, and it was absolutely necessary, before I should exceed that
distance, to find a more permanent supply of water than the wells we had
dug on our way out. In order to ascertain the nature of the country more
satisfactorily, however, I ascended the rugged termination of the sandy
ridge, close to which we had been riding, and was induced, from what I
then saw, to determine on a course somewhat to the west of north, since a
due north course was evidently closed upon me; for I now saw that the
country in that direction was hopeless, as well as in an easterly
direction; but although I stood full 80 feet above the lake, I could not
distinguish any thing like a hill on the distant horizon. To the
westward, as a medium point, there were a succession of sandy ridges,
similar to that on which I stood; but to the S.W. there seemed to be an
interval of plain. As the thunder storm had reached as far as the place
where we last slept, I did not doubt but that it had also reached the
lake, and on consideration determined to keep as northerly a course as
circumstances would permit, in pushing into a country in which I was
meeting new difficulties every hour. Descending, therefore, on a bearing
of 340 degrees, I went to a distance of six miles before coming to a
small puddle at which I was glad to halt, it being the only drinkable
water we had seen. Here we dug a third well, although, like the first,
there was but little chance of benefiting by it. It behoved me therefore
to be still more careful in increasing my distance from the creek, so
that on the morning of the 17th I thought it prudent to search for some,
and as the country appeared open to the south, I turned to that point in
the hope of success.

We crossed some low sand hills to a swamp in which there was a good deal
of surface water, but none of a permanent kind. We then crossed the N.W.
extremity of an extensive grassy plain, similar to those I have already
described, but infinitely larger. It continued, indeed, for many miles to
the south, passing between all the sandy points jutting into it; and so
closely was the Desert allied to fertility at this point, and I may say
in these regions, that I stood more than once with one foot on
salsolaceous plants growing in pure sand, with the other on luxuriant
grass, springing up from rich alluvial soil. At two miles and a quarter
from the swamp, striking a native path we followed it up to the S.W.,
and, at three-quarters of a mile, we reached two huts that had been built
on a small rise of ground, with a few low trees near them. Our situation
was too precarious to allow of my passing these huts without a strict
search round about, for I was sure that water was not far off; and at
length we found a small, narrow, and deep channel of but a few yards in
length, hid in long grass, at a short distance from them. The water was
about three feet deep, and was so sheltered that I made no doubt it would
last for ten days or a fortnight. Grateful for the success that had
attended our search, I allowed the horses to rest and feed on the grass
for a time; but it was of the kind from which the natives collect so much
seed, and though beautiful to the eye, was not relished by our animals.
The plains extended for miles to the south and south-east, with an aspect
of great luxuriance and beauty; nor could I doubt they owed their
existence to the final overflow of the large creek we had all along
marked trending down to this point. Such, indeed, I felt from the first,
even when I looked on its broad and glittering waters, would sooner or
later be its termination, or that it would expend itself, less usefully,
on the Stony Desert. As yet, however, there was no indication of our
approach to that iron region. The plains were surrounded on all sides by
lofty ridges of sand, and the whole scene bore ample testimony to the
comparative infancy, if I may so express myself, of the interior. We next
pursued a N.N.W. course into the interior, and soon left the grassy
plains, crossing alternate sand ridges and flats on a bearing of 346
degrees, the whole country having a strong resemblance to that between
Sydney and Botany Bay in New South Wales. On one of the ridges we
surprised a native, who ran from us in great terror, and with incredible
speed. About noon we crossed a plain, partly covered with stones and
partly bare, and at the further extremity of it passed through a gorge
between two sand hills into another plain that was barren beyond
description, with only salsolaceous herbs. It had large white patches of
clay on it, the shallow receptacles of rain water, but they were all dry.
The plain was otherwise covered with low salsolae, excepting on the
higher ground, on which samphire alone was growing. It was surrounded on
all sides by sand hills of a fiery red, and not even a stunted hakea was
to be seen. From this plain we again crossed alternate sand hills and
flats, the former covered with spinifex, the latter being quite denuded
of all vegetation; but one of the horses at last knocking up, I was
obliged to halt in this gloomy region, at the only puddle of rain water
we had seen since leaving the grassy plain. I was sure, however, from the
change that had taken place, and the character of the country around us,
that we were approaching that feature, the continuance of which, in order
to elucidate its probable origin, it had been a principal object in my
present journey to ascertain. I felt so convinced on this point, that I
could not have returned to Adelaide without having satisfied my mind on
the subject. I might, indeed, have had general ideas as to the past state
of the depressed interior, from what I had already seen of it; but the
Stony Desert was the key to disclose the whole,--and although I feared
again to tread its surface, its existence so far away to the eastward of
where I had first been on it, would at least tend to confirm my
impressions as to what it had been.

It was clear, indeed, from the character of the country through which we
had just passed, that we were again approaching the salt formation; more
especially when, from the highest ground near us, I observed its
generally dark aspect, and that there was the dry bed of a large salt
lagoon directly in our course. We here dug a fourth well: the water was
extremely muddy and thick, for the basin in which it was contained was
very shallow, and the wind constantly playing on its surface raised waves
that had stirred up the mud; but as there was more water than usual, I
hoped that by deepening, it might settle. This was nothing new to us, for
not only on our journey to Lake Torrens and to the N.W., had we subsisted
on similar beverage, but the water at the Depot at Fort Grey was half
mud, and perfectly opaque. However, it was a matter of necessity to
retain it here if possible, and we therefore took the best measures in
our power to do so.

On the 19th we resumed our journey on the former bearing, the wind
blowing keen from the south. At about a mile and a half we reached the
salt lagoon, as it appeared to be in the distance, but which proved to be
rather a flooded plain. It was about two miles broad, and three and
three-quarters long, and was speckled over rather than covered with salt
herbs. At this time, also, we had an immense barren plain to our left,
bounded all around, but more particularly to the north, by sand hills;
over these we toiled for nine miles, when at their termination the centre
of the plain bore 176 degrees to the east of north, or nearly south. At
five miles and a half further, having previously crossed a small stony
plain, succeeded by sand ridges and valleys, both covered with spinifex,
we ascended a pointed hill that lay directly in our course, and from it
beheld the Stony Desert almost immediately below our feet. I must
acknowledge, that coming so suddenly on it, I almost lost my breath. It
was apparently unaltered in a single feature: herbless and treeless, it
occupied more than one half of the visible horizon, that is to say, from
10 degrees east of north, westward round to south. As to the eastward, so
here the ridges we had just crossed abutted upon it, and as many of them
were lower than the line of the horizon, they looked like sea dunes,
backed by storm clouds, from the dusky colour of the plain.

After surveying this gloomy expanse of stoneclad desert we looked for
some object on the N.W. horizon upon which to move across it, but none
presented itself, excepting a very distant sand hill bearing 308 degrees,
towards which I determined to proceed. We accordingly descended to the
plain, and soon found ourselves on its uneven surface. There was a narrow
space destitute of stones at the base of the sand hill, stamped all over
with the impressions of natives' feet. From eighty to one hundred men,
women, and children must have passed along there; and it appeared to me
that this had been a migration of some tribe or other during the wet
weather, but it was very clear those poor people never ventured on the
plain itself.

Descended from our high position, we could no longer see the sand hill
just noticed, but held on our course by compass like a ship at sea, being
two hours and forty minutes in again sighting it; and reaching it in
somewhat less than an hour afterwards, calculated the distance at
thirteen miles. As we approached, it looked like an island in the midst
of the ocean; but we found a large though shallow sheet of water amongst
the stones under it, for which we were exceedingly thankful. From this
point we crossed to another sand hill that continued northerly further
than we could see, having the Desert on either hand. Our horses beginning
to flag, I halted at five on the side of the ridge, near a small puddle
that had only water enough for them to drink off at once.

The morning of the 20th was bitterly cold, with the wind at S.S.E., and I
cannot help thinking that there are extensive waters in some parts of the
in terior, over which it came: the thermometer stood at 42 degrees. We
started on a course of 335 degrees for a distant sandy peak rising above
the general line of the horizon. At a mile, one of the horses fortunately
got bogged in a little narrow channel just like that in the grassy plain;
I say fortunately, for we might otherwise have passed the water it
contained without knowing it, so completely was it shaded. In looking
along the channel more closely, we discovered a little pool about three
yards long and one broad, but deep. At this we breakfasted and watered
the horses, and then pushed on. The lodgment of this water had been
caused by local drainage, and was evident from the green feed round
about. Here again it appeared we had occasion to be thankful, for on this
supply I hoped we might safely calculate for a week at least, so that we
still held on our course with more confidence, keeping at the base of the
ridge, and passing an extent of five miles through an open box-tree
forest, every tree of which was dead. The whole scene being one of the
most profound silence and marked desolation, for here no living thing was
to be seen.

At nine miles we ascended the ridge, and from it the Desert appeared to
be interminable from N. to N.E., but a few distant sand hills now shewed
themselves to the eastward of the last mentioned point. We then descended
into a valley of sand and spinifex, and at four miles and a half ascended
an elevated peak in a sandy ridge lying in our way. From this, the view
to the north-west was over a succession of sand hills. The point we stood
upon, as well as the ridge, was flanked southwards by an immense plain of
red sand and clay, and to the N.E. by a similar but smaller plain.
Crossing a portion of the great plain, at four miles and a half we
ascended another peak, and then traversed a narrow valley crossing from
it into a second valley, down which we travelled for six miles.

At that distance it was half a mile in breadth, and there was a little
verdure near some gum-trees, but no water. As we were searching about, a
cockatoo, (Cacatua Leadbeateri) flew over the sand hill to our right, and
pitched in the trees; we consequently crossed to the opposite side and
halted for the night, where there was a good deal of green grass for the
horses, but no water in the contiguous valley.




CHAPTER II.



THE HORSES--ASCEND THE HILLS--IRRESOLUTION AND RETREAT--HORSES REDUCED TO
GREAT WANT--UNEXPECTED RELIEF--TRY THE DESERT TO THE N.E.--FIND WATER IN
OUR LAST WELL--REACH THE CREEK--PROCEED TO THE EASTWARD--PLAGUE OF FLIES
AND ANTS--SURPRISE AN OLD MAN--SEA-GULLS AND PELICANS--FISH--POOL OF
BRINE--MEET NATIVES--TURN TO THE N.E.--COOPER'S CREEK TRIBE, THEIR
KINDNESS AND APPEARANCE--ATTEMPT TO CROSS THE PLAINS--TURN BACK--PROCEED
TO THE NORTHWARD--EFFECTS OF REFRACTION--FIND NATIVES AT OUR OLD CAMP AND
THE STORES UNTOUCHED--COOPER'S CREEK, ITS GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION.


I had taken all the horses, with the exception of one, out with me on
this journey, and as they will shortly bear a prominent part in this
narrative, I will make some mention of them. My own horse was a grey--for
which reason I called him Duncan,--I had ridden him during the whole
period of my wanderings, and think I never saw an animal that could
endure more, or suffered less from the want of water; he was aged, and a
proof, that in the brute creation as well as with mankind, years give a
certain stamina that youth does not possess. This animal, as the reader
will believe, knew me well, as indeed did all the horses, for I had stood
by to see them watered many a time. Mr. Stuart rode Mr. Browne's horse, a
little animal, but one of great endurance also; Mack used a horse we
called the Roan, a hunter that had been Mr. Poole's. Morgan rode poor
Punch, whose name I have before had occasion to mention, and who,
notwithstanding subsequent rest, had not recovered from the fatigues of
his northern excursion. Besides these we had four pack horses:--Bawley, a
strong and compact little animal, with a blaze on the forehead, high
spirited, with a shining coat, and having been a pet, was up to all kind
of tricks, but was a general favourite, and a nice horse;--the other was
Traveller, a light chesnut, what the hunter would call a washy brute,
always eating and never fat;--the Colt, so called from his being young,
certainly unequal to such a journey as that on which he was taken;--and
Slommy, another aged horse. During the summer, Traveller had had a great
discharge from the nose, and I was several times on the point of ordering
him to be shot, under an apprehension that his disease was the glanders;
but, although the colt and my own horse contracted it, I postponed my
final mandate, and all recovered; however, he continued weak. At this
time they were unshod, and had pretty well worn their hoofs down to the
quick, insomuch that any inequality in the ground made them limp, and it
was distressing to ride them; but, notwithstanding, they bore up
singularly against the changes and fatigues they had to go through.

From a small rising ground near where we stopped in the valley, on the
occasion of which I am speaking, and in the obscure light of departing
day we saw to the N.N.W. a line of dark looking hills, at the distance of
about ten or twelve miles, but we could not discover tree or bush upon
them, all we could make out was that they were dark objects above the
line of horizon, and that the intervening country seemed to be as dark as
they were. The weather had changed from cold to hot, the wind having
flown from S. to the N.E., and the day and night were exceedingly warm. I
was sorry to observe, too, that the horses had scarcely touched the grass
on which, for their sakes, I had been tempted to stop, and that they were
evidently suffering from the previous day's journey of from 34 to 36
miles, that being about the distance we had left the water in the grassy
valley. Before mounting, on the morning of the 21st, Mr. Stuart and I
went to see if we could make out more than we had been able to do the
night before, what kind of country was in front of us, but we were
disappointed, and found that we should have to wait patiently until we
got nearer the hills to judge of their formation. About half a mile below
where we had slept, the valley led to the N.N.E., and on turning, we
found it there opened at once upon the Stony Desert; but the hills were
now hid from us by sandy undulations to our left, and even when we got
well into the plain we could hardly make out what the hills were. As we
neared them, however, we observed that they were nothing more than high
sand hills, covered with stones even as the desert itself, to their tops.
That part of it over which we were riding also differed from any other
portion, in having large sharp-pointed water-worn rocks embedded in the
ground amongst the stones, as if they had been so whilst the ground was
soft. There was a line of small box-trees marking the course of a creek
between us and the hills, and a hope that we should find water cheered us
for a moment, but that ray soon vanished when we saw the nature of its
bed. We searched along it for about half an hour in vain, and then turned
to the hills and ascended to the top of one of the highest, about 150
feet above the level of the plain. From it the eye wandered hopelessly
for some bright object on which to rest. Behind us to the south-east lay
the sand hills we had crossed, with the stony plain sweeping right round
them, but in every other direction the dark brown desert extended. The
line of the horizon was broken to the north-west and north by hills
similar to the one we had ascended; but in those directions not a blade
of grass, not a glittering spot was to be seen.

At this point, which I have placed in lat. 25 degrees 54 minutes and in
long. 139 degrees 25 minutes, I had again to choose between the chance of
success or disaster, as on the first occasion; if I went on and should
happen to find water, all for the time would be well, if not, destruction
would have been inevitable. I was now nearly 50 miles from water, and
feared that, as it was, some of my horses would fall before I could get
back to it, yet I lingered undecided on the hill, reluctant to make up my
mind, for I felt that if I thus again retired, it would be a virtual
abandonment of the task undertaken. I should be doing an injustice to Mr.
Stuart and to my men if I did not here mention that I told them the
position we were placed in, and the chance on which our safety would
depend if we went on. They might well have been excused if they had
expressed an opinion contrary to such a course, but the only reply they
made was to assure me that they were ready and willing to follow me to
the last. After this, I believe I sat on the hill for more than half an
hour with the telescope in my hand, but there was nothing to encourage me
onwards; our situation, however, admitted not of delay. I might, it is
true, have gone on and perished with all my men; but I saw neither the
credit nor the utility of such a measure. I trust the reader will believe
that I would not have shrunk from any danger that perseverance or
physical strength could have overcome; that indeed I did not shrink from
the slow fate, which, as far as I could judge, would inevitably have
awaited me if I had gone on; but that in the exercise of sound discretion
I decided on falling back. The feeling which would have led me onwards
was similar to that of a man who is sensible of having committed an
error, yet is ashamed to make an apology, and who would rather run the
risk of being shot, than of having the charge of pusillanimity fixed upon
him; but I have never regretted the step I took, and it has been no small
gratification to me to find that the Noble President of the Royal
Geographical Society, Lord Colchester, when addressing the members of
that enlightened body, in its name presenting medals to Dr. Leichhardt
and myself, for our labours in the cause of Geography, alluded to and
approved "the prudence with which further advance was abandoned, when it
could only have risked the loss of those entrusted to my charge."

We slowly retraced our steps to the valley in which we had slept, and I
stopped there for half an hour, but none of the horses would eat, with
the exception of Traveller, and he certainly made good use of his time.
The others collected round me as I sat under a tree, with their heads
over mine, and my own horse pulled my hat off my head to engage my
attention. Poor brute! I would have given much at that moment to have
relieved him, but I could not. We were all of us in the same distress,
and if we had not ultimately found water must all have perished together.
Finding that they would not eat, we saddled and proceeded onwards, I
should say backwards--and at 10 p.m. we were on the sand ridges. At the
head of the valley Traveller fell dead, and I feared every moment that we
should lose the Colt. At one I stopped to rest the horses till dawn, and
then remounted, but Morgan and Mack got slowly on, so that I thought it
better to precede them, and if possible to take some water back to
moisten the mouth of their horses, and I accordingly went in advance with
Mr. Stuart. I thought we should never have got through the dead box-tree
forest I have mentioned, however we did so about 11 a.m., and made
straight for the spot where we expected to relieve both ourselves and our
horses, but the water was gone. Mr. Stuart poked his fingers into the mud
and moistened his lips with the water that filled the holes he had made,
but that was all. We were yet searching for water when Morgan and Mack
appeared, but without the colt; fortunately they had descended into the
valley higher up, and had found a little pool, which they had emptied,
under an impression that we had found plenty; and were astonished at
hearing that none any longer remained. In this situation, and with the
apparent certain prospect of losing my own and Mr. Browne's horse, and
the colt which was still alive when the men left him, not more than a
mile in the rear, we continued our search for water, but it would have
been to no purpose. Suddenly a pigeon topped the sand hill--it being the
first bird we had seen--a solitary bird--passing us like lightning, it
pitched for a moment, and for a moment only, on the plain, about a
quarter of a mile from us, and then flew away. It could only have wetted
its bill, but Mr. Stuart had marked the spot, and there was water.
Perhaps I ought to dwell for a moment on this singular occurrence, but I
leave it to make its own impression on the reader's feelings. I was
enabled to send back to the colt, and we managed to save him, and as
there was a sufficiency of water for our consumption, I determined to
give the men a day of rest, and to try if I could find a passage across
the Desert a little to the eastward of north, and with Mr. Stuart
proceeded in that direction on the morning of the 24th; but at 3 p.m. we
were out of sight of all high land. The appearance of the Desert was like
that of an immense sea beach, and large fragments of rock were imbedded
in the ground, as if by the force of waters, and the stones were more
scattered, thus shewing the sandy bed beneath and betwixt them. The day
was exceedingly hot, and our horses' hoofs were so brittle that pieces
flew off them like splinters when they struck them against the stones. We
were at this time about sixteen or seventeen miles from the sand hill
where we had left the men. The Desert appeared to be taking a northerly
direction, and certainly was much broader than further to the westward,
making apparently for the Gulf of Carpentaria; nor could I doubt but that
there had once been an open sea between us and it. We reached our little
bivouac at 9 p.m. both ourselves and our horses thoroughly wearied, and
disappointed as we had been, I regretted that I had put the poor things
to unnecessary hardships. Perhaps I was wrong in having done so, but I
could not rest. Our latitude here was 26 degrees 26 minutes and our long.
by account 139 degrees 21 minutes. In the morning we crossed the
remaining portion of the Desert, as I had determined on making the best
of my way to the creek, and passing the sandy ridges reached our first
water (the 4th going out), about sunset or a little before. Water still
remained, but it was horridly thick, and in the morning smelt so
offensive that it was loathsome to ourselves and the animals. Our great,
indeed our only, dependence then was on the water in the little channel
on the grassy plain; at this we arrived late on the afternoon of the
25th. Another day and we should again have been disappointed: the water
on which I had calculated for a fortnight was all but gone. In the
morning we drained almost the last drop out of the channel. We were now
about 92 miles from the creek, without the apparent probability of relief
till we should get to it, for it seemed hopeless to expect that we should
find any water in the wells we had dug. Crossing the grassy plains on an
east-north-east course, we passed the salt lake about 10 a.m. to our
left, and ran along the sandy ridges between it and our encampment of the
15th, where we had made our second well, at 6 p.m., but it was dry and
the bottom cracked and baked.

I would gladly have given my poor horses a longer rest than prudence
would have justified, but we had not time for rest. At 8 we again
mounted, and went slowly on; and when darkness closed around us lit a
small lamp, and one of us walking in front led the way for the others to
follow; thus tracking our way over those dreary regions all night long,
we neared our last remaining well, 36 miles distant from the creek, just
as morning dawned. Objects were still obscure as we approached the spot
where our hopes rested, for our horses could hardly drag one foot after
the other. Mr. Stuart was in front, and called to me that he saw the
little trees under whose shade we had slept; soon after he said he saw
something glittering where the well was, and immediately after shouted
out, "Water, water." It is impossible for me to record all this without a
feeling of more than thankfulness to the Almighty Power that guided us.
At this place we were still 180 miles from Fort Grey; and if we had not
found this supply, it is more than probable the fate of our horses would
have sealed our own. As it was we joyfully unsaddled, and, after
watering, turned them out to feed. Singular it was that the well on which
we had least dependence, and from which we had been longest absent,
should thus have held out--but so it was. At 9 we resumed our journey,
there being about half a gallon a-piece for the horses just before we
started; but although this, and the short rest they had, had relieved
them, they got on slowly; and it was not until after midnight of the
27th, a.m. indeed of the 28th, that we reached the creek, with two short
of our complement of horses, the Roan and the Colt both having dropped on
the plains, but fortunately at no great distance, so that we recovered
them in the course of the day.

It will naturally be supposed that, arrived at a place of safety, we here
rested for a while; but my mind was no sooner relieved from one cause for
anxiety, than it was filled with another. If I except the thunder-storm
which had enabled me to undertake my late journey from the creek, no rain
had fallen, the weather had suddenly become oppressively hot, with a sky
as clear as ether. I had still the mountain range to the N.E. to examine,
and the upper branches of the creek, and in this necessary survey I knew
no time was to be lost. Indeed I doubted if my return to the Depot was
not already shut out, by the drying up of the water in Strzelecki's
Creek, although I hoped Mr. Browne still held his ground; but not only
was I anxious on these heads, but as to our eventual retreat from these
heartless regions. I would gladly have rested for a few days, for I was
beginning to feel weak. From the 20th of July, and it was now the last
day but two of October, I had been in constant exercise from sunrise to
sunset; and if I except the few days I had rested at the Depot, had slept
under the canopy of heaven. My food had been insufficient to support me,
and I had a malady hanging upon me that was slowly doing its work; but I
felt that I had no time to spare, and, as I could not justify indulgence
to myself, so on the 29th we commenced our progress up the creek, but
halted at six miles on a beautiful sheet of water, and with every promise
of success. In the course of the day we passed a singularly large grave.
It was twenty-three feet long, and fourteen broad. The boughs on the top
of it were laid so as to meet the oval shape of the mound itself, but the
trees were not carved, nor were there any walks about it, as I had seen
in other parts of the continent.

Before we commenced our journey up the creek, I determined to secrete all
the stores I could, in order to lighten the loads of the horses as much
as possible, for they were now almost worn out; but it was difficult to
say where we should conceal them, so as to be secure from the quick eyes
of the natives. At first I thought my best plan would be to dig a hole
and bury them, and then to light a fire, so as to obliterate the marks;
but I changed my purpose, and placed them under a rhagodia bush, a short
distance from the creek, and arranged some boughs all round it. In this
place I hoped they would escape observation, for there were one or two
things I should have exceedingly regretted to lose.

The weather had been getting warmer and warmer, and it had at this time
become so hot that it was almost intolerable, worse indeed than at this
season the previous year. The 30th was a day of oppressive heat, and the
flies and mosquitoes were more than usually troublesome. I have not said
much of these insects in the course of this narrative, for after all they
are secondary objects only; but it is impossible to describe the
ceaseless annoyance of these and a small ant. The latter swarmed in
myriads in the creek and on the plains, and what with these little
creatures at night, and the flies by day, we really had no rest. I
continually wore a veil, or I could not have attended to our movements,
or performed my duties. It is probable that being in the neighbourhood of
water they were more numerous, but here they were a perfect plague, and
in our depressed and wearied condition we, perhaps, felt their attacks
more than we should otherwise have done. We commenced our journey at
seven, and crossing the creek at three-quarters of a mile, ascended a
small sand hill upon its proper left bank. Where we had crossed the
channel was perfectly dry, but from the sand hill another magnificent
sheet of water stretched away to the southeast as far as we could see.

From this point the creek appeared to be bounded by forest land, partly
scrubby and partly grassed. To the south there were flats seemingly
subject to floods, and lightly timbered, and beyond these were low sand
hills. To the S.W. a high line of trees marked the course of a tributary
from that quarter. To the north the country was exceedingly sandy and
low, as well as to the east; and the direction of the sand ridges was
only 5 degrees to the west of north, so that from this point to our
extreme west they gradually alter their line 17 degrees, as in 138
degrees of longitude they ran 22 degrees to the west of north. I was not
able to take more than one bearing from the hill I had ascended, to a
remarkable flat-topped hill nearly N.E. I now crossed the creek on an
east course, and traversed sandy plains, and low undulations, there being
a tolerable quantity of grass on both; and at four miles changed the
route a little to the northward for a small conical sand hill, from which
the flat-topped hill bore 41 degrees, and from it some darker hills were
visible, somewhat more to the eastward, and as they appeared to be
different from the sand ridges, I again changed my course for them, and
crossing the bed of the creek at four miles, ascended a small stony range
trending to the eastward, the creek being directly at their base.
Following up its proper left bank I ascended another part of the range at
three miles and a half, from which the flat-topped hill bore 24 degrees,
and the last hill I had ascended 239 degrees. The channel of the creek
had been dry for several miles, but we now saw a large sheet of water
bearing due east, distant two miles, to which we made our way, and then
stopped. From the top of this range the creek seemed to pass over
extensive and bare plains in many branches, southward there were some
stony hills, treeless and herbless, like those nearer to us. I was fairly
driven down to the valley by the flies, as numerous on the burning stones
on the top of the hill as any where else, and I left a knife and a pocket
handkerchief behind me. Notwithstanding the magnificent sheet of water we
were now resting near, I began thus early to doubt the character of this
creek. It had changed so often during the day, at one place having a
broad channel, at another splitting into numerous small ones, having a
great portion of its bed dry, and then presenting large and beautiful
reaches to view, that I hardly knew what opinion to form of it; I also
observed that it was leading away from the hills and taking us into a low
and desolate region, almost as bad as that to the westward; however, time
alone was to prove whether I was right in my surmises.

In the afternoon two natives made their appearance on the opposite side
of the water, and I walked over to them, as I could not by any signs
induce them to come to us. They were not bad looking men, and had lost
their two front teeth of the upper jaw. To one I gave a tomahawk, and a
hook to the other, but when I rose to depart, they gave them both back to
me, and were astonished to find that I had intended them as presents.
Seeing, I suppose, that we intended them no injury, these men in the
morning went on with their ordinary occupations, and swimming into the
middle of the water began to dive for mussels. They looked like two seals
in the water with their black heads, and seemed to be very expert: at all
events they were not long in procuring a breakfast.

Notwithstanding the misgivings I had as to the creek, the paths of the
natives became wider and wider as we advanced. They were now as broad as
a footpath in England, by a road side, and were well trodden; numerous
huts of boughs also lined the creek, so that it was evident we were
advancing into a well peopled country, and this circumstance raised my
hopes that it would improve. As, however, our horses had no longer a
gallop in them, we found it necessary to keep a sharp look out; although
the natives with whom we had communicated, did not appear anxious to
leave the place as they generally are to tell the news of our being on
the creek to others above us.

On the 31st we started at 7 a.m., and at a mile and a half found ourselves
at the termination of the stony ranges to our left. They fell back to the
north, and a larger plain succeeded them. At two miles we crossed a small
tributary, and passed over a stony plain, from which we entered an open
box-tree forest extending far away to our left. At five miles and a half
we found ourselves again on the banks of the creek, where it had an upper
and a lower channel, that is to say, it had a lower channel for the
stream, and an upper one independently of it. In the lower bed there was
a little water, and we therefore stopped for a short time, the day being
exceedingly hot. While here we saw a native at some water a little lower
down, mending a net, but did not call to him. On resuming our journey we
kept in the upper channel, and had not ridden very far when we saw a
native about 150 yards ahead of us, pulling boughs. On getting nearer we
called out to him, but to no purpose. At the distance of about 70 yards,
we called out again, but still he did not hear, perhaps because of the
rustling of the boughs he was breaking down. At length he bundled them
up, and throwing them over his shoulder, turned from us to cross to the
lower part of the creek, when suddenly he came bolt up against us. I
cannot describe his horror and amazement,--down went his branches,--out
went his hands,--and trembling from head to foot, he began to shout as
loud as he could bawl. On this we pulled up, and I desired Mr. Stuart to
dismount and sit down. This for a time increased the poor fellow's alarm,
for he doubtless mistook man and horse for one animal, and he stretched
himself out in absolute astonishment when he saw them separate. When Mr.
Stuart sat down, however, he stood more erect, and he gradually got
somewhat composed. His shouting had brought another black, who had stood
afar off, watching the state of affairs, but who now approached. From
these men I tried to gather some information, and my hopes were greatly
raised from what passed between us, insomuch that one of the men could
not help expressing his hope that we were now near the long sought for
inland sea.

On my seeking to know, by signs, to what point the creek would lead us,
the old man stretched out his hand considerably to the southward of east,
and spreading out his fingers, suddenly dropped his hand, as if he
desired us to understand that it commenced, as he shewed, by numerous
little channels uniting into one not very far off. On asking if the
natives used canoes, he threw himself into the attitude of a native
propelling one, which is a peculiar stoop, in which he must have been
practised. After going through the motions, he pointed due north, and
turning the palm of his hand forward, made it sweep the horizon round to
east, and then again put himself into the attitude of a native propelling
a canoe. There certainly was no mistaking these motions. On my asking if
the creek went into a large water, he intimated not, by again spreading
out his hand as before and dropping it, neither did he seem to know
anything of any hills. The direction he pointed to us, where there were
large waters, was that over which the cold E.S.E. wind I have noticed,
must have passed. This poor fellow was exceedingly communicative, but he
did not cease to tremble all the while we were with him. After leaving
him, the creek led us up to the northward of east, and we cut off every
angle by following the broad and well beaten paths crossing from one to
the other. At three miles I turned to ascend a conical sand hill, from
whence the country appeared as follows: to the north were immense plains,
with here and there a gum-tree on them; they were bounded in the distance
by hills that I took to be the outer line of the range we purposed
visiting; to the eastward the ground was undulating and woody; and
southward, the prospect was bounded by low stony elevations, or a low
range. The course of the creek was now north-east, in the direction of
two distant sand hills. We now ran along it for seven miles, under an
open box-tree forest, varying in breadth from a quarter of a mile to two
miles; the creek frequently changed from a broad channel to a smaller
one, but still having splendid sheets of water in it. At length, as we
pushed up, it became sandy, and the lofty gum-trees that had ornamented
it, gradually disappeared. Nevertheless we encamped on a beautiful spot.

The 1st of November broke bright and clear over us. Started at seven, the
poor horses scarcely able to draw one leg after the other, the Roan
having worn his hoof down the quick was exposed and raw, and he walked
with difficulty. At a mile and a half we ascended an eminence, and to the
eastward, saw a magnificent sheet of water to which we moved, and at five
miles reached a low stony range, bounding the creek to the north; having
ridden along a broad native path the whole of that distance, close to the
edge of the above mentioned water. There were large rocks in the middle
of it, and pelicans, one swan, several sea-gulls, and a number of
cormorants on its bosom, together with many ducks, but none would let us
within reach. We next ran on a bearing of 75 degrees, or nearly east,
along a large path, crossing numerous small branches of the creek, with
deep and sandy beds, and occasionally over small stony plains. At noon we
were at some distance from the creek, but then went towards it. The
gum-trees were no longer visible, but melaleucas, from fifteen to twenty
feet high, lined its banks like a copse of young birch. We now observed a
long but somewhat narrow sheet of water, to which we rode; our suspicions
as to its quality being roused by its colour, and the appearance of the
melaleuca. It proved, as we feared, to be slightly brackish, but not
undrinkable. Near the edge of the water, or rather about four or five
feet from it, there was a belt of fine weeds, between which and the shore
there were myriads of small fish of all sizes swimming, similar to those
we had captured to the westward, in the fourth or O'Halloran's Creek.
Here then was not only the clue as to how fish got into that isolated
pond, but a proof of the westerly fall of the interior, since there was
now no doubt whatever, but that the whole of the country Mr. Browne and I
had traversed, even to the great sand hills on this side the Stony
Desert, was laid under water, and by the overflow of this great creek
filled the several creeks, and inundated the several plains that we had
crossed. By so unexpected a fact, was this material point discovered. The
Roan, at this time, could hardly walk, and not knowing when or at what
distance we might again find water, or what kind of water it would be, I
stopped on reaching the upper end of this pool, but even there it had a
nasty taste, nor were any fish to be seen; a kind of weed covered the bed
of the creek, and it looked like an inlet of the sea.

I was exceedingly surprised that we had not seen more natives, and
momentarily expected to come on some large tribe, but did not, and what
was very singular, all the paths were to the right, and none on the
southern bank of the creek.

The weather continued intensely hot, and the flies swarmed in hundreds of
thousands. The sky was without a cloud, either by day or night, and I
could not but be apprehensive as to the consequences if rain should not
fall; it was impossible that the largest pools could stand the rapid
evaporation that was going on, but I did not deem it right to unburden my
mind, even to Mr. Stuart, at this particular juncture.

On the morning of the 2nd of November the horses strayed for the first
time, and delayed us for more than two hours, and we were after all
indebted to three natives for their recovery, who had seen them and
pointed out the direction in which they were. It really was a distressing
spectacle to see them brought up, but their troubles and sufferings were
not yet over. The Roan was hardly able to move along, and in pity I left
him behind to wander at large along the sunny banks of the finest
water-course we had discovered.

Starting at 10 a.m. we crossed the creek, and traversed a large sandy
plain, intersected by numerous native paths, that had now become as wide
as an ordinary gravel walk. From this plain we observed a thin white line
along the eastern horizon. The plain itself was also of white sand, and
had many stones upon it, similar in substance and shape to those on the
Stony Desert, but there was, not withstanding, some grass upon it. A
little above where we had slept, we struck a turn or angle of the creek
where there was a beautiful sheet of water, but of a deep indigo blue
colour. This was as salt as brine, insomuch that no animal could possibly
have lived in it, and we observed water trickling into it from many
springs on both sides. At four miles when we again struck the creek,
after having crossed the plain, the water was perfectly fresh and sweet
in a large pool close to which we passed. Here again there were several
sea-gulls sitting on the rocks in the water, and a good many cormorants
in the trees, yet I do not think there were any fish in this basin; I
have no other reason for so thinking, however, than that we never saw
any, either swimming in the water or rising to its surface in the
coolness of evening on the sheets of fresh water. There might, however,
have been fish of large size in the deep pools of this creek, although I
would observe that I had two reasons for believing otherwise. The first
was, that, the meshes of the nets used by the natives, of which we
examined several hanging in the trees, were very small, and that among
the fish bones at the natives' fires, we never saw any of a larger size
than those we had ourselves captured, and it was evident that at this
particular time, it was not the fishing season. I was led to think, that
the water in which we noticed so many swimming about, was sacred, and
that it is only when the creek overflows, that the fish are generally
distributed along its whole line, that the natives take them. Certainly,
to judge from the smooth and delicate appearance of the weeds round that
sheet of water the fish were not disturbed.

We had been riding for some time on the proper right {LEFT in published
text} bank of the creek, but I at length crossed to the right and altered
my course to E.S.E., but shortly afterwards ran due east across earthy
plains covered with grass in tufts and very soft, but observing that I had
got outside of the native tracks, and that there was no indication of the
creek in front, I turned to the S.E. and at five miles struck a small
sandy channel which I searched in vain for water; I therefore left it,
crossing many similar channels still on a S.E. course; but observing
that they all had level sandy beds, I gave up the hope of finding
water in them and turned to the south, as the horses were not in a
condition to suffer from want. At about two miles I ascended a sand
hill, but could not see any thing of the creek; it was now getting
late and two of the horses were hardly able to get along. Had we
halted then, there was not a tree or a bush to which we could have
tethered our animals, anxious too to get them to water I turned to
the west, and at a mile got on a native path, that ultimately led me
to the creek, and we pulled up at a small pond, where there was better
feed than we had any right to expect.

We had hardly arranged our bivouac, when we heard a most melancholy
howling over an earthen bank directly opposite to us, and saw seven black
heads slowly advancing towards us. I therefore sent Mr. Stuart to meet
the party and bring them up. The group consisted of a very old blind man,
led by a younger one, and five women. They all wept most bitterly, and
the women uttered low melancholy sounds, but we made them sit down and
managed to allay their fears. It is impossible to say how old the man
was, but his hair was white as snow, and he had one foot in the grave.

These poor creatures must have observed us coming, and being helpless,
had I suppose thought it better to come forward, for they had their huts
immediately on the other side of the bank over which they ventured. We
gave the old man a great coat, as the most useful present, and he seemed
delighted with it. I saw that it was hopeless to expect any information
from this timid party, so I made no objection to their leaving us after
staying for about half an hour. Our latitude here, by an altitude of
Jupiter, was 27 degrees 47 minutes S.; our longitude by account 141
degrees 51 minutes E.

The plains we had crossed during the day were very extensive, stretching
from the north-west, to the south-east, like an open sea. They were
thinly scattered over with box-trees, and comprised hundreds of thousands
of acres of flooded grassy land. It is worthy of remark that none of
these plains existed to the south of the creek, in which quarter the
country was very barren, neither were there any native paths. We were at
this time in too low a position to see any of the mountain ranges of
which I have spoken. As the old native with the boughs had told us, the
creek led us to the southward of east, and consequently away from them,
and I feared that his further information would prove correct, and that
we should soon arrive at its commencement.

The morning of the 3rd of November was as cloudy as the night of the 2nd
had been, during which it blew violently from the N.W., and a few
heat-drops fell, but without effect on the temperature. One of the horses
got bogged in attempting to drink, and Mack's illness made it nine before
we mounted and resumed our journey up the creek, on a N.N.E. course, but
it gradually came round to north. At six miles we crossed the small and
sandy bed of a creek coming from the stony plains to the south, and
beneath a tree, near two huts, observed a large oval stone. It was
embedded in the ground, and was evidently used by the natives for
pounding seeds. We now proceeded along a broad native path towards some
gum-trees, having stony undulating hills upon our right. Underneath the
trees there was a fine deep pool in the channel of the creek, which had
again assumed something of its original shape; but as we were in an
immense hollow or bowl, and the view was very limited, I branched off to
the hills, then not more than half a mile distant. From their summit the
country to the south and south-west appeared darkly covered with brush;
to the west, there were numerous stony undulations; northward and to the
east were immense grassy plains, with many creeks, all making for a
common centre upon them. In the near ground to the south-east, the
surface of the country was of fine white sand, partly covered with
salsolaceous plants, with small fragments of stone, and patches of more
grassy land. There was no fixed point on which to take a bearing, nor
could we see anything of the higher ranges, now to the north-west of us.

In returning to the creek, we observed a body of natives to our left.
They were walking in double file, and approaching us slowly. I therefore
pulled up, and sent Mr. Stuart forward on foot, following myself with his
horse. As he neared them the natives sat down, and he walked up and sat
down in front of them. The party consisted of two chiefs and fourteen
young men and boys. The former sat in front and the latter were ranged in
two rows behind. The two chiefs wept as usual, and in truth shed tears,
keeping their eyes on the ground; but Mr. Stuart, after the interview,
informed me that the party behind were laughing at them and sticking
their tongues in their cheeks. One of the chiefs was an exceedingly tall
man, since he could not have measured less than six feet three inches,
and was about 24 years of age. He was painted with red ochre, and his
body shone as if he had been polished with Warren's best blacking. His
companion was older and of shorter stature. We soon got on good terms
with them, and I made a present of a knife to each. They told us, as
intelligibly as it was possible for them to do, that we were going away
from water; that there was no more water to the eastward, and, excepting
in the creek, none anywhere but to the N.E. I had observed, indeed, that
the native paths had altogether ceased on the side of the creek on which
we then were (the south or left bank), and the chief pointed that fact
out to me, explaining that we should have to cross the creek at the head
of the water, under the trees, and get on a path that would lead us to
the N.E. On this I rose up and mounting my horse, riding quietly towards
it, descended into the bed of the creek, in which the natives had their
huts, but their women and children were not there. The two chiefs and the
other natives had followed, but, the former only crossed the creek and
accompanied us. We almost immediately struck on the native path which, as
my tall friend had informed me, led direct to the N.E.

I was not at first aware, what object our new friends had in following or
rather accompanying us; but, at about a mile and a half, we came to a
native hut at which there was an old man and his two lubras. The tall
young man introduced him to us as his father, in consequence of which I
dismounted, and shook hands with the old gentleman, and, as I had no
hatchet or knife to give him, I parted my blanket and gave him half of
it. We then pro ceeded on our journey, attended as before, and at a mile,
came on two huts, at which there were from twelve to fifteen natives.
Here again we were introduced by our long-legged friend, who kept pace
with our animals with ease, and after a short parley once more moved on,
but were again obliged to stop with another tribe, rather more numerous
than the last, who were encamped on a dirty little puddle of water that
was hardly drinkable; however, they very kindly asked us to stay and
sleep, an honour I begged to decline. Thus, in the space of less than
five miles, we were introduced to four different tribes, whose collective
numbers amounted to seventy-one. The huts of these natives were
constructed of boughs, and were of the usual form, excepting those of the
last tribe, which were open behind, forming elliptic arches of boughs,
and the effect was very pretty.

These good folks also asked us to stop, and I thought I saw an expression
of impatience on the countenance of my guide when I declined, and turned
my horse to move on. We had been riding on a sandy kind of bank, higher
than the flooded ground around us. The plains extended on either side to
the north and east, nor could we distinctly trace the creek beyond the
trees at the point we had crossed it, but there were a few gum-trees
separated by long intervals, that still slightly marked its course. When
we left the last tribe, we rode towards a sand hill about half a mile in
front, and had scarcely gone from the huts when our ambassadors, for in
such a light I suppose I must consider them, set off at a trot and
getting a-head of us disappeared over the sand hill. I was too well aware
of the customs of these people, not to anticipate that there was
something behind the scene, and I told Mr. Stuart that I felt satisfied
we had not yet seen the whole of the population of this creek; but I was
at a loss to conjecture why they should have squatted down at such muddy
puddles, when there were such magnificent sheets of water for them to
encamp upon, at no great distance; however, we reached the hill soon
after the natives had gone over it, and on gaining the summit were hailed
with a deafening shout by 3 or 400 natives, who were assembled in the
flat below. I do not know, that my desire to see the savage in his wild
state, was ever more gratified than on this occasion, for I had never
before come so suddenly upon so large a party. The scene was one of the
most animated description, and was rendered still more striking from the
circumstance of the native huts, at which there were a number of women
and children, occupying the whole crest of a long piece of rising ground
at the opposite side of the flat.

I checked my horse for a short time on the top of the sand hill, and
gazed on the assemblage of agitated figures below me, covering so small a
space that I could have enclosed the whole under a casting net, and then
quietly rode down into the flat, followed by Mr. Stuart and my men, to
one of whom I gave my horse when I dismounted, and then walked to the
natives, by whom Mr. Stuart and myself were immediately surrounded.

Had these people been of an unfriendly temper, we could not by any
possibility have escaped them, for our horses could not have broken into
a canter to save our lives or their own. We were therefore wholly in
their power, although happily for us perhaps, they were not aware of it;
but, so far from exhibiting any unkind feeling, they treated us with
genuine hospitality, and we might certainly have commanded whatever they
had. Several of them brought us large troughs of water, and when we had
taken a little, held them up for our horses to drink; an instance of
nerve that is very remarkable, for I am quite sure that no white man,
(having never seen or heard of a horse before, and with the natural
apprehension the first sight of such an animal would create,) would
deliberately have walked up to what must have appeared to them most
formidable brutes, and placing the troughs they carried against their
breast, have allowed the horses to drink, with their noses almost
touching them. They likewise offered us some roasted ducks, and some
cake. When we walked over to their camp, they pointed to a large new hut,
and told us we could sleep there, but I had noticed a little hillock on
which there were four box-trees, about fifty yards from the native
encampment, on which, foreseeing that we could go no farther, I had
already determined to remain, and on my intimating this to the natives
they appeared highly delighted; we accordingly went to the trees, and
unsaddling our animals turned them out to feed. When the natives saw us
quietly seated they came over, and brought a quantity of sticks for us to
make a fire, wood being extremely scarce.

The men of this tribe were, without exception, the finest of any I had
seen on the Australian Continent. Their bodies were not disfigured by any
scars, neither were their countenances by the loss of any teeth, nor were
they circumcised. They were a well-made race, with a sufficiency of
muscular development, and stood as erect as it was possible to do,
without the unseemly protrusion of stomach, so common among the
generality of natives. Of sixty-nine who I counted round me at one time,
I do not think there was one under my own height, 5 feet 10 3/4 inches,
but there were several upwards of 6 feet. The children were also very
fine, and I thought healthier and better grown than most I had seen, but
I observed here, as elsewhere amongst smaller tribes, that the female
children were more numerous than the males, why such should be the case,
it is difficult to say. Whilst, however, I am thus praising the personal
appearance of the men, I am sorry to say I observed but little
improvement in the fairer sex. They were the same half-starved unhappy
looking creatures whose condition I have so often pitied elsewhere.

These were a merry people and seemed highly delighted at our visit, and
if one or two of them were a little forward, I laid it to the account of
curiosity and a feeling of confidence in their own numbers. But a little
thing checked them, nor did they venture to touch our persons, much less
to put their hands into our pockets, as the natives appear to have done,
in the case of another explorer. It is a liberty I never allowed any
native to take, not only because I did not like it, but because I am sure
it must have the effect of lowering the white man in the estimation of
the savage, and diminishing those feelings of awe and inferiority, which
are the European's best security against ill treatment. The natives told
us, that there was no water to the eastward, and that if we went there we
should all die. They explained that the creek commenced on the plains, by
spreading out their fingers as the old man had done, to shew that many
small channels made a large one, pointing to the creek, and they said the
water was all gone to the place we had come from; meaning, to the lower
part of it. On asking them by signs, if the creek continued beyond the
plains, they shook their heads, and again put their extended hand on the
ground, pointing to the plain. They could give us no account of the
ranges to which I proposed going, any more than others we had asked. On
inquiring, if there was any water to the north-west a long discussion
took place, and it was ultimately decided that there was not. I could
understand, that several of them mentioned the names of places where they
supposed there might be water, but it was evidently the general opinion
that there was none. Neither did they appear to know of any large waters,
on which the natives had canoes, in confirmation of the old man's
actions. On this interesting and important point they were wholly
ignorant.

The smallness of the water-hole, on which these people depended, was
quite a matter of surprise to me, and I hardly liked to let the horses
drink at it, in consequence. At sunset all the natives left us (as is
their wont at that hour), and went to their own encampment; nor did one
approach us afterwards, but they sat up to a late hour at their own camp,
the women being employed beating the seed for cakes, between two stones,
and the noise they made was exactly like the working of a loom factory.
The whole encampment, with the long line of fires, looked exceedingly
pretty, and the dusky figures of the natives standing by them, or moving
from one hut to the other, had the effect of a fine scene in a play. At
11 all was still, and you would not have known that you were in such
close contiguity to so large an assemblage of people.

When I laid down, I revolved in my own mind what course I should pursue
in the morning. If the account of the natives was correct, it was clear
that my further progress eastward, was at an end. My horses, indeed, were
now reduced to such a state, that I foresaw my labours were drawing to a
close. Mack, too, was so ill, that he could hardly sit his animal, and
although I did not anticipate any thing serious in his case, anything
tending to embarrass was now felt by us. Mr. Stuart and Morgan held up
well, but I felt myself getting daily weaker and weaker. I found that I
could not rise into my saddle with the same facility, and that I lost
wind in going up a bank of only a few feet in height. I determined,
however, on mature consideration, to examine the plain, and to satisfy
myself before I should turn back, as to the fact of the creek commencing
upon it. Accordingly, in the morning, we saddled and loaded our horses,
but none of the natives came to us until we had mounted; when they
approached to take leave, and to persuade us not to go in the direction
we proposed, but to no purpose. The pool from which they drew their
supply of water, was in the centre of a broad shallow grassy channel,
that passed the point of the sand hill we had ascended, and ran up to the
northward and westward; we were, therefore, obliged to cross this
channel, and soon afterwards got on the plains. They were evidently
subject to flood, and were exceedingly soft and blistered; the grass upon
them grew in tufts, not close, so that in the distance, the plains
appeared better grassed than they really were. At length, we got on a
polygonum flat of great size, in the soil of which our horses absolutely
sunk up to the shoulder at every step. I never rode over such a piece of
ground in my life, but we managed to flounder through it, until at length
we got on the somewhat firmer but still heavy plain. It was very clear,
however, that our horses would not go a day's journey over such ground.
It looked exactly as I have described it--an immense concavity, with
numerous small channels running down from every part, and making for the
creek as a centre of union; nor, could we anywhere see a termination to
it. Had the plain been of less extent, I might have doubted the
information of the natives; but, looking at the boundless hollow around
me, I did not feel any surprise that such a creek even as the one up
which we had journeyed, should rise in it, and could easily picture to
myself the rush of water there must be to the centre of the plain, when
the ground has been saturated with moisture.

The day being far advanced, whilst we were yet pushing on, without any
apparent termination to the heavy ground over which we were riding, I
turned westward at 2 p.m., finding that the attainment of the object I
had in view, in attempting to cross the plain, was a physical
impossibility. We reached the water, at which the blind native visited
us, a little after sunset, and were as glad as our poor animals could
have been, when night closed in upon us, and our labours.

On the 5th, we passed the old man's camp, in going down the creek,
instead of crossing the plains as before, and halted at the junction of a
creek we had passed, that came from the north, and along the banks of
which I proposed turning towards the ranges. On the morning of the 6th we
kept the general course of this tributary, which ran through an
undulating country of rocks and sand. Its channel was exceedingly
capacious, and its banks were high and perpendicular, but everything
about it, was sand or gravel. Its bed was perfectly level, and its
appearance at once destroyed the hope of finding water in it.

The ground over which we rode, was, as I have stated, a mixture of gravel
and rocks, and our horses yielded under us at almost every step as they
trod on the sharp pointed fragments. At eight miles we reached the outer
line of hills, as they had appeared to us in the distance, and entered a
pass between two of them, of about a quarter of a mile in width. At this
confined point there were the remains and ravages of terrific floods. The
waters had reached from one side of the pass to the other, and the dead
trunks of trees and heaps of rubbish, were piled up against every bush.

There was not a blade of vegetation to be seen either on the low ground
or on the ranges, which were from 3 to 400 feet in height, and were
nothing more than vast accumulations of sand and rocks. At a mile, we
arrived at the termination of the pass, and found ourselves at the
entrance of a barren, sandy valley, with ranges in front of us, similar
to those we had already passed. I thought it advisable, therefore, to
ascend a hill to my left, somewhat higher than any near it, to ascertain,
if possible, the character of the northern interior. The task of
clambering to the top of it however, was, in my then reduced state,
greater than I expected, and I had to wait a few minutes before I could
look about me after gaining the summit. I could see nothing, after all,
to cheer me in the view that presented itself. To the northward was the
valley in which the creek rises, bounded all round by barren, stony
hills, like that on which I stood; and the summits of other similar hills
shewed themselves above the nearer line. To the east the apparently
interminable plains on which we had been, still met the horizon, nor was
anything to be seen beyond them. Westward the outer line of hills
continued backed by others, in the outlines of which we recognised the
peaks and forms of the apparently lofty chain we first saw when we
discovered the creek. Thus, then, it appeared, that I had been entirely
deceived in the character of these hills, and that it had been the effect
of refraction in those burning regions, which had given to these moderate
hills their mountain-like appearance.

Satisfied that my horses had not the strength to cross such a country,
and that in it I had not the slightest chance of procuring the necessary
sustenance for them, I turned back to Cooper's Creek, and then deemed it
prudent to travel quietly on towards the place at which we first struck
it, and had subsequently left our surplus stores.

In riding amongst some rocky ground, we shot a new and beautiful little
pigeon, with a long crest. The habits of this bird were very singular,
for it never perched on the trees, but on the highest and most exposed
rocks, in what must have been an intense heat; its flight was short like
that of a quail, and it ran in the same manner through the grass when
feeding in the evening. We reached our destination on the evening of the
8th, and were astonished to see how much the waters had shrunk from their
previous level. Such an instance of the rapid diminution of so large a
pool, made me doubt whether I should find any water in Strzelecki's Creek
to enable me to regain the Depot.

As we descended from the flats to cross over to our old berth, we found
it occupied by a party of natives, who were disposed to be rather
troublesome, especially one old fellow, whose conduct annoyed me
exceedingly. However, I very soon got rid of them; and after strolling
for a short time within sight of us, they all went up the creek; but I
could not help thinking, from the impertinent pertinacity of these
fellows, that they had discovered my magazine, and taken all the things,
more especially as they had been digging where our fire had been, so
that, if I had buried the stores there as intended, they would have been
taken.

As soon as the natives were out of sight, Mr. Stuart and I went to the
rhagodia bush for our things. As we approached, the branches appeared
just as we had left them; but on getting near, we saw a bag lying
outside, and I therefore concluded that the natives had carried off
everything. Still, when we came up to the bush, nothing but the bag
appeared to have been touched, all the other things were just as we left
them, and, on examining the bag, nothing was missing. Concluding,
therefore, that the natives had really discovered my store, but had been
too honest to rob us, I returned to the creek in better humour with them;
but, a sudden thought occurring to Mr. Stuart, that as there was an oil
lamp in the bag, a native dog might have smelt and dragged it out of its
place, we returned to the bush, to see if there were any impressions of
naked feet round about it, but with the exception of our own, there were
no tracks save those of a native dog. I was consequently obliged to give
Mr. Stuart credit for his surmise, and felt somewhat mortified that the
favourable impression I had received as to the honesty of the natives had
thus been destroyed. They had gone up the creek on seeing that I was
displeased, and we saw nothing more of them during the afternoon; but on
the following morning they came to see us, and as they behaved well, I
gave them a powder canister, a little box, and some other trifles; for
after all there was only one old fellow who had been unruly, and he now
shewed as much impatience with his companions as he had done with us, and
I therefore set his manner down to the score of petulance.

At 10 a.m. on the 9th we prepared to move over to the branch creek, as I
really required rest and quiet, and knew very well that as long as I
remained where I was, we should be troubled by our sable friends, who,
being sixteen in number, would require being well looked after. Before we
finally left the neighbourhood, however, where our hopes had so often
been raised and depressed, I gave the name of Cooper's Creek to the fine
watercourse we had so anxiously traced, as a proof of my great respect
for Mr. Cooper, the Judge of South Australia. I am not conversant in the
language of praise, but thus much will I venture to say, that whether in
his public or private capacity, Mr. Cooper was equally entitled to this
record of my feelings towards him. I would gladly have laid this creek
down as a river, but as it had no current I did not feel myself justified
in so doing. Had it been nearer the located districts of South Australia,
its discovery would have been a matter of some importance. As it is we
know not what changes or speculations may lead the white man to its
banks. Purposes of utility were amongst the first objects I had in view
in my pursuit of geographical discovery; nor do I think that any country,
however barren, can be explored without the attainment of some good end.
Circumstances may yet arise to give a value to my recent labours, and my
name may be remembered by after generations in Australia, as the first
who tried to penetrate to its centre. If I failed in that great object, I
have one consolation in the retrospect of my past services. My path
amongst savage tribes has been a bloodless one, not but that I have often
been placed in situations of risk and danger, when I might have been
justified in shedding blood, but I trust I have ever made allowances for
human timidity, and respected the customs and prejudices of the rudest
people. I hope, indeed, that in this my last expedition, I have not done
discredit to the good opinion Sir C. Napier, an officer I knew not, was
pleased to entertain of me. Most assuredly in my intercourse with the
savage, I have endeavoured to elevate the character of the white man.
Justice and humanity have been my guides, but while I have the
consolation to know that no European will follow my track into the Desert
without experiencing kindness from its tenants, I have to regret that the
progress of civilized man into an uncivilized region, is almost
invariably attended with misfortune to its original inhabitants.

I struck Cooper's Creek in lat. 27 degrees 44 minutes, and in long. 140
degrees 22 minutes, and traced it upwards to lat. 27 degrees 56 minutes,
and long. 142 degrees 0 minutes. There can be no doubt but that it would
support a number of cattle upon its banks, but its agricultural
capabilities appear to me doubtful, for the region in which it lies is
subject evidently to variations of temperature and seasons that must, I
should say, be inimical to cereal productions; nevertheless I should
suppose its soil would yield sufficient to support any population that
might settle on it.




CHAPTER III.



CONTINUED DROUGHT--TERRIFIC EFFECT OF HOT WIND--THERMOMETER
BURSTS--DEATH OF POOR BAWLEY--FIND THE STOCKADE DESERTED--LEAVE FORT GREY
FOR THE DEPOT--DIFFERENCE OF SEASONS--MIGRATION OF BIRDS--HOT
WINDS--EMBARRASSING POSITION--MR. BROWNE STARTS FOR FLOOD'S CREEK--THREE
BULLOCKS SHOT--COMMENCEMENT OF THE RETREAT--ARRIVAL AT FLOOD'S
CREEK--STATE OF VEGETATION--EFFECTS OF SCURVY--ARRIVE AT ROCKY
GLEN--COMPARISON OF NATIVE TRIBES--HALT AT CARNAPAGA--ARRIVAL AT
CAWNDILLA--REMOVAL TO THE DARLING--LEAVE THE DARLING--STATE OF THE
RIVER--OPPRESSIVE HEAT--VISITED BY NADBUCK--ARRIVAL AT MOORUNDI.


By half past eleven of the 9th November we had again got quietly settled,
and I then found leisure to make such arrangements as might suggest
themselves for our further retreat. To insure the safety of the animals
as much as possible, I determined to leave all my spare provisions and
weightier stores behind, and during the afternoon we were engaged making
the loads as compact and as light as we could.

It was not, however, the fear of the water in Strzelecki's Creck having
dried up, that was at this moment the only cause of anxiety to me, for I
thought it more than probable that Mr. Browne had been obliged to retreat
from Fort Grey, in which case I should still have a journey before me to
the old Depot of 170 miles or more, under privations, to the horses at
least, of no ordinary character; and I had great doubts as to the
practicability of our final retreat upon the Darling. The drought had now
continued so long, and the heat been so severe, that I apprehended we
might be obliged to remain another summer in these fearful solitudes. The
weather was terrifically hot, and appeared to have set in unusually
early.

Under such circumstances, and with so many causes to render my mind
anxious, the reader will believe I did not sleep much. The men were as
restless as myself, so that we commenced our journey before the sun had
risen on the morning of the 10th of November, to give the horses time to
take their journey leisurely. Slowly we retraced our steps, nor did I
stop for a moment until we had got to within five miles of our
destination, at which distance we saw a single native running after us,
and taking it into my head that he might be a messenger from Mr. Browne,
I pulled up to wait for him, but curiosity alone had induced him to come
forward. When he got to within a hundred yards, he stopped and approached
no nearer. This little delay made it after sunset before we reached the
upper pool (not the one Mr. Browne and I had discovered), and were
relieved from present anxiety by finding a thick puddle still remaining
in it, so that I halted for the night. Slommy, Bawley, and the colt had
hard work to keep up with the other horses, and it really grieved me to
see them so reduced. My own horse was even now beginning to give way, but
I had carried a great load upon him.

As we approached the water, three ducks flew up and went off down the
creek southwards, so I was cheered all night by the hope that water still
remained at the lower pool, and that we should be in time to benefit by
it. On the 11th, therefore, early we pushed on, as I intended to stop and
breakfast at that place before I started for the Depot. We had scarcely
got there, however, when the wind, which had been blowing all the morning
hot from the N.E., increased to a heavy gale, and I shall never forget
its withering effect. I sought shelter behind a large gum-tree, but the
blasts of heat were so terrific, that I wondered the very grass did not
take fire. This really was nothing ideal: every thing, both animate and
inanimate, gave way before it; the horses stood with their backs to the
wind, and their noses to the ground, without the muscular strength to
raise their heads; the birds were mute, and the leaves of the trees,
under which we were sitting, fell like a snow shower around us. At noon I
took a thermometer, graduated to 127 degrees, out of my box, and observed
that the mercury was up to 125 degrees. Thinking that it had been unduly
influenced, I put it in the fork of a tree close to me, sheltered alike
from the wind and the sun. In this position I went to examine it about an
hour afterwards, when I found that the mercury had risen to the top of
the instrument, and that its further expansion had burst the bulb, a
circumstance that I believe no traveller has ever before had to record. I
cannot find language to convey to the reader's mind an idea of the
intense and oppressive nature of the heat that prevailed. We had reached
our destination however before the worst of the hot wind set in; but all
the water that now remained in the once broad and capacious pool to which
I have had such frequent occasion to call the attention of the reader,
was a shining patch of mud nearly in the centre. We were obliged to dig a
trench for the water to filter into during the night, and by this means
obtained a scanty supply for our horses and ourselves.

About sunset the wind shifted to the west, a cloud passed over us, and we
had heavy thunder; but a few drops of rain only fell. They partially
cooled the temperature, and the night was less oppressive than the day
had been. We had now a journey of 86 miles before us: to its results I
looked with great anxiety and doubt. I took every precaution to fortify
the horses, and again reduced the loads, keeping barely a supply of flour
for a day or two. Before dawn we were up, and drained the last drop of
water, if so it could be called, out of the little trench we had made,
and reserving a gallon for the first horse that should fall, divided the
residue among them. Just as the morning was breaking, we left the creek,
and travelled for 36 miles. I then halted until the moon should rise, and
was glad to see that the horses stood it well. At seven we resumed the
journey, and got on tolerably well until midnight, when poor Bawley, my
favourite horse, fell; but we got him up again, and abandoning his
saddle, proceeded onwards. At a mile, however, he again fell, when I
stopped, and the water revived him. I now hoped he would struggle on, but
in about an hour he again fell. I was exceedingly fond of this poor
animal, and intended to have purchased him at the sale of the remnants of
the expedition, as a present to my wife. We sat down and lit a fire by
him, but he seemed fairly worn out. I then determined to ride on to the
Depot, and if Mr. Browne should still be there, to send a dray with water
to the relief of the men. I told them, therefore, to come slowly on, and
with Mr. Stuart pushed for the camp. We reached the plain just as the sun
was descending, without having dismounted from our horses for more than
fifteen hours, and as we rode down the embankment into it, looked around
for the cattle, but none were to be seen. We looked towards the little
sandy mound on which the tents had stood, but no white object there met
our eye; we rode slowly up to the stockade, and found it silent and
deserted. I was quite sure that Mr. Browne had had urgent reasons for
retiring. I had indeed anticipated the measure: I hardly hoped to find
him at the Fort, and had given him instructions on the subject of his
removal, yet a sickening feeling came over me when I saw that he was
really gone; not on my own account, for, with the bitter feelings of
disappointment with which I was returning home, I could calmly have laid
my head on that desert, never to raise it again. The feeling was natural,
and had no mixture whatever of reproach towards my excellent companion.

We dismounted and led our horses down to water before I went to the tree
under which I had directed Mr. Browne to deposit a letter for me. A good
deal of water still remained in the channel, but nevertheless a large pit
had been dug in it as I had desired. I did not drink, nor did Mr. Stuart,
the surface of the water was quite green, and the water itself was of a
red colour, but I believe we were both thinking of any thing but
ourselves at that moment. As soon as we had unsaddled the horses, we went
to the tree and dug up the bottle into which, as agreed upon, Mr. Browne
had put a letter; informing me that he had been most reluctantly obliged
to retreat; the water at the Depot having turned putrid, and seriously
disagreed with the men; he said that he should fall back on the old Depot
along the same line on which we had advanced, and expressed his fears
that the water in Strzelecki's Creek would have dried, on the permanence
of which he knew our safety depended. Under present circumstances the
fate of poor Bawley, if not of more of our horses, was sealed. Mr. Stuart
and I sat down by the stockade, and as night closed in lit a fire to
guide Morgan and Mack on their approach to the plain. They came up about
2 p.m. having left Bawley on a little stony plain, and the Colt on the
sand ridges nearer to us, and in the confusion and darkness had left all
the provisions behind; it therefore became necessary to send for some, as
we had not had anything for many hours. The horses Morgan and Mack had
ridden were too knocked up for further work, but I sent the latter on my
own horse with a leather bottle that had been left behind by the party,
full of water for poor Bawley, if he should still find him alive. Mack
returned late in the afternoon, having passed the Colt on his way to the
Depot, towards which he dragged himself with difficulty, but Bawley was
beyond recovery; he gave the poor animal the water, however, for he was a
humane man, and then left him to die.

We had remained during the day under a scorching heat, but could hardly
venture to drink the water of the creek without first purifying it by
boiling, and as we had no vessel until Mack should come up we had to wait
patiently for his arrival at 7 p.m. About 9 we had a damper baked, and
broke our fast for the first time for more than two days.

While sitting under a tree in the forenoon Mr. Stuart had observed a crow
pitch in the little garden we had made, but which never benefited us,
since the sun burnt up every plant the moment it appeared above the
ground. This bird scratched for a short time in one of the soft beds, and
then flew away with something in his bill. On going to the spot Mr.
Stuart scraped up a piece of bacon and some suet, which the dogs of
course had buried. These choice morsels were washed and cooked, and Mr.
Stuart brought me a small piece of bacon, certainly not larger than a
dollar, which he assured me had been cut out of the centre and was
perfectly clean. I had not tasted the bacon since February, nor did I now
feel any desire to do so, but I ate it because I thought I really wanted
it in the weak state in which I was.

Perhaps a physician would laugh at me for ascribing the pains I felt the
next morning to so trifling a cause, but I was attacked with pains at the
bottom of my heels and in my back. Although lying down I felt as if I was
standing balanced on stones; these pains increased during the day,
insomuch that I anticipated some more violent attack, and determined on
getting to the old Depot as soon as possible; but as the horses had not
had sufficient rest, I put off my journey to 5 p.m. on the following day,
when I left Fort Grey with Mr. Stuart, directing Mack and Morgan to
follow at the same hour on the following day, and promising that I would
send a dray with water to meet them. I rode all that night until 3 p.m.
of the 17th, when we reached the tents, which Mr. Browne had pitched
about two miles below the spot we had formerly occupied. If I except two
or three occasions on which I was obliged to dismount to rest my back for
a few minutes we rode without stopping, and might truly be said to have
been twenty hours on horseback.

Sincere I believe was the joy of Mr. Browne, and indeed of all hands, at
seeing us return, for they had taken it for granted that our retreat
would have been cut off. I too was gratified to find that Mr. Brown was
better, and to learn that everything had gone on well. Davenport had
recently been taken ill, but the other men had recovered on their removal
from the cause of their malady.

When I dismounted I had nearly fallen forward. Thinking that one of the
kangaroo dogs in his greeting had pushed me between the legs, I turned
round to give him a slap, but no dog was there, and I soon found out that
what I had felt was nothing more than strong muscular action brought on
by hard riding.

As I had promised I sent Jones with a dray load of water to meet Morgan
and Mack, who came up on the 19th with the rest of the horses.

Mr. Browne informed me that the natives had frequently visited the camp
during my absence. He had given them to understand that we were going
over the hills again, on which they told him that if he did not make
haste all the water would be gone. It now behoved us therefore to effect
our retreat upon the Darling with all expedition. Our situation was very
critical, for the effects of the drought were more visible now than
before the July rain,--no more indeed had since fallen, and the water in
the Depot creek was so much reduced that we had good reason to fear that
none remained anywhere else. On the 18th I sent Flood to a small creek,
between us and the Pine forest, but he returned on the following day with
information that it had long been dry. Thus then were my fears verified,
and our retreat to the Darling apparently cut off. About this time too
the very elements, against which we had so long been contending, seemed
to unite their energies to render our stay in that dreadful region still
more intolerable. The heat was greater than that of the previous summer;
the thermometer ranging between 110 degrees and 123 degrees every day;
the wind blowing heavily from N.E. to E.S.E. filled the air with
impalpable red dust, giving the sun the most foreboding and lurid
appearance as we looked upon him. The ground was so heated that our
matches falling on it, ignited; and, having occasion to make a night
signal, I found the whole of our rockets had been rendered useless, as on
being lit they exploded at once without rising from the ground.

I had occasion--in the first volume of this work--to remark that I
should at a future period have to make some observations on the state of
the vegetation at this particular place; there being about a month or six
weeks difference between the periods of the year when we first arrived
at, and subsequently returned to it. When we first arrived on the 27th of
January, 1845, the cereal grasses had ripened their seed, and the larger
shrubs were fast maturing their fruit; the trees were full of birds, and
the plains were covered with pigeons--having nests under every bush. At
the close of November of the same year--that is to say six weeks
earlier--not an herb had sprung from the ground, not a bud had swelled,
and, where the season before the feathered tribes had swarmed in hundreds
on the creek, scarcely a bird was now to be seen. Our cattle wandered
about in search for food, and the silence of the grave reigned around us
day and night.

Was it instinct that warned the feathered races to shun a region in which
the ordinary course of nature had been arrested, and over which the wrath
of the Omnipotent appeared to hang? Or was it that a more genial season
in the country to which they migrate, rendered their desertion of it at
the usual period unnecessary? Most sincerely do I hope that the latter
was the case, and that a successful destiny will await the bold and
ardent traveller [Note 10. Dr. Leichhardt had started to cross the
Continent some time before.] who is now crossing those regions.

On the 20th I sent Flood down the creek to ascertain if water remained in
it or the farther holes mentioned by the natives, thinking that in such a
case we might work our way to the eastward; but on the 23rd he returned
without having seen a drop of water from the moment he left us. The deep
and narrow channel I had so frequently visited, and which I had hoped
might still contain water, had long been dry, and thus was our retreat
cut off in that quarter also. There was apparently no hope for us--its
last spark had been extinguished by this last disappointment; but the
idea of a detention in that horrid desert was worse than death itself.

On the morning of the 22nd the sky was cloudy and the sun obscure, and
there was every appearance of rain. The wind was somewhat to the south of
west, the clouds came up from the north, and at ten a few drops fell; but
before noon the sky was clear, and a strong and hot wind was blowing from
the west: the dust was flying in clouds around us, and the flies were
insupportable.

At this time Mr. Stuart was taken ill with pains similar to my own, and
Davenport had an attack of dysentery.

On the 23rd it blew a fierce gale and a hot wind from west by north,
which rendered us still more uncomfortable: nothing indeed could be done
without risk in such a temperature, and such a climate. The fearful
position in which we were placed, caused me great uneasiness; the men
began to sicken, and I felt assured that if we remained much longer, the
most serious consequences might be apprehended.

On the 24th, Mr. Browne went with Flood to examine a stony creek about 16
miles to the south, and on our way homewards. We had little hope that he
would find any water in it, but if he did, a plan had suggested itself,
by which we trusted to effect our escape. It being impossible to stand
the outer heat, the men were obliged to take whatever things wanted
repair, to our underground room, and I was happy to learn from Mr.
Stuart, who I sent up to superintend them, that the natives had not in
the least disturbed Mr. Poole's grave.

On the 25th Mr. Browne returned, and returned unsuccessful: he could find
no water any where, and told me it was fearful to ride down the creeks
and to witness their present state.

We were now aware that there could be no water nearer to us than 118
miles, i. e. at Flood's Creek, and even there it was doubtful if water
any longer remained. To have moved the party on the chance of finding it
would have been madness: the weather was so foreboding, the heat so
excessive, and the horses so weak, that I did not dare to trust them on
such a journey, or to risk the life of any man in such an undertaking. I
was myself laid up, a helpless being, for I had gradually sunk under the
attack of scurvy which had so long hung upon me. The day after I arrived
in camp I was unable to walk: in a day or two more, my muscles became
rigid, my limbs contracted, and I was unable to stir; gradually also my
skin blackened, the least movement put me to torture, and I was reduced
to a state of perfect prostration. Thus stricken down, when my example
and energies were so much required for the welfare and safety of others,
I found the value of Mr. Browne's services and counsel. He had already
volunteered to go to Flood's Creek to ascertain if water was still to be
procured in it, but I had not felt justified in availing myself of his
offer. My mind, however, dwelling on the critical posture of our affairs,
and knowing and feeling as I did the value of time, and that the burning
sun would lick up any shallow pool that might be left exposed, and that
three or four days might determine our captivity or our release, I sent
for Mr. Browne, to consult with him as to the best course to be adopted
in the trying situation in which we were placed, and a plan at length
occurred by which I hoped he might venture on the journey to Flood's
Creek without risk. This plan was to shoot one of the bullocks, and to
fill his hide with water. We determined on sending this in a dray, a day
in advance, to enable the bullock driver to get as far as possible on the
road, we then arranged that Mr. Browne should take the light cart, with
36 gallons of water, and one horse only; that on reaching the dray, he
should give his horse as much water as he would drink from the skin,
leaving that in the cart untouched until he should arrive at the
termination of his second day's journey, when I proposed he should give
his horse half the water, and leaving the rest until the period of his
return, ride the remainder of the distance he had to go. I saw little
risk in this plan, and we accordingly acted upon it immediately: the hide
was prepared, and answered well, since it easily contained 150 gallons of
water. Jones proceeded on the morning of the 27th, and on the 28th Mr.
Browne left me on this anxious and to us important journey, accompanied
by Flood. We calculated on his return on the eighth day, and the reader
will judge how anxiously those days passed. On the day Mr. Browne left
me, Jones returned, after having deposited the skin at the distance of 32
miles.

On the eighth day from his departure, every eye but my own was turned to
the point at which they had seen him disappear. About 3 p.m., one of the
men came to inform me that Mr. Browne was crossing the creek, the camp
being on its left bank, and in a few minutes afterwards he entered my
tent. "Well, Browne," said I, "what news? Is it to be good or bad?"
"There is still water in the creek," said he, "but that is all I can say.
What there is is as black as ink, and we must make haste, for in a week
it will be gone." Here then the door was still open,--a way to escape
still practicable, and thankful we both felt to that Power which had
directed our steps back again ere it was finally closed upon us; but even
now we had no time to lose: to have taken the cattle without any prospect
of relief until they should arrive at Flood's Creek, would have been to
sacrifice almost the whole of them, and to reduce the expedition to a
condition such as I did not desire. The necessary steps to be taken, in
the event of Mr. Browne's bringing back good tidings, had engaged my
attention during his absence, and with his assistance, that on which I
had determined was immediately put into execution. I directed three more
bullocks to be shot, and their skins prepared; and calculated that by
abandoning the boat and our heavier stores, we might carry a supply of
water on the drays, sufficient for the use of the remaining animals on
the way. Three bullocks were accordingly killed, and the skins stripped
over them from the neck downwards, so that the opening might be as small
as possible.

The boat was launched upon the creek, which I had vainly hoped would have
ploughed the waters of a central sea. We abandoned our bacon and heavier
stores, the drays were put into order, their wheels wedged up, their
axles greased, and on the 6th of December, at 5 p.m., we commenced our
retreat, having a distance of 270 miles to travel to the Darling, and
under circumstances which made it extremely uncertain how we should
terminate the journey, since we did not expect to find any water between
Flood's Creek and the Rocky Glen, or between the Rocky Glen and the
Darling itself. The three or four days preceding our departure had been
quite overpowering, neither did there seem to be a likelihood of any
abatement of the heat when we left the Depot. At 5 a.m. of the morning of
the 7th, having travelled all night, I halted to rest the men and
animals. We had then the mortification to find one of the skins was
defective, and let out the water at an hundred different pores. I
directed the water that remained in the skin to be given to the stock
rather than that it should be lost; but both horses and bullocks refused
it. During the first part of the night it was very oppressive; but about
an hour after midnight the wind shifted to the south, and it became
cooler. We resumed our journey at 7, and did not again halt until half
past 12 p.m. of the 8th, having then gained the Muddy Lagoon, at which
the reader will recollect we stopped for a short time after breaking
through the Pine forest about the same period the year before; but as
there was nothing for the animals to eat, I took them across the creek
and put them upon an acre or two of green feed along its banks. I
observed that the further we advanced southwards, the more forward did
vegetation appear; Mr. Browne made the same remark to me on his return
from Flood's Creek, where he found the grasses ripe, whereas at the Depot
Creek the ground was still perfectly bare.

About 3 a.m. we had a good deal of thunder and lightning, and at 7 the
wind shifted a point or two to the eastward of south. Notwithstanding the
quarter from which the wind blew, heavy clouds came up from the west, and
about 11 we had a misty rain with heavy thunder and lightning. The rain
was too slight to leave any puddles, but it moistened the dry grass,
which the animals greedily devoured.

On leaving the creek we kept for about eight miles on our old track, but
at that distance turned due south for two hills, the position of which
Mr. Browne had ascertained on his recent journey, and by taking this
judicious course avoided the Pine ridges altogether. We were, however,
obliged to halt, as the moon set, in the midst of an open brush, but
started again at day-break on the morning of the 9th.

Before we left the creek, near the Muddy Lagoon, all the horses and more
than one half of the bullocks had drank plentifully of the water in the
hides, in consequence of which they got on tolerably well. On resuming
our journey we soon cleared the remainder of the scrub, and got into a
more open sandy country, but the travelling on it was good; and at 20
minutes to two we halted within a mile of the hills towards which we had
been moving, then about 26 miles from Flood's Creek. Being in great pain
I left Mr. Browne at half-past three p.m., and reached our destination at
midnight. Two hours afterwards Mr. Browne came up with the rest of the
party. So we completed our first stage without the loss of a single
animal; but had it not been for the slight rain that fell on the morning
of the 8th, and the subsequent change of temperature, none of our
bullocks could have survived the journey thus far.

As it had occupied three nights and two days, it became necessary to give
both men and animals a day of rest. I could not however be so indulgent
to Mr. Browne or to Flood. The next place at which we hoped to find
water, was at the Rocky Gully at the foot of the ranges, distant 49
miles, if water failed us there, neither had Mr. Browne or Flood any
reasonable expectation that we should procure any until we gained the
Darling itself, then distant 150 miles. Mr. Browne was himself suffering
severely from attacks of scurvy, but he continued with unwearied zeal to
supply my place. On the 11th, at one p.m., he left me for the hills, but
before he started we arranged that he should return and meet me half way
whether he succeeded in finding water or not, and in order to ensure this
I proposed leaving the Creek on the 13th.

As Mr. Browne had informed me, we found the vegetation much more forward
at this place than we had hitherto seen it, still many of the grasses
were invisible, not having yet sprung up, but there was a solitary stool
of wheat that had been accidentally dropped by us and had taken root,
which had 13 fine heads upon it quite ripe. These Mr. Browne gathered,
and, agreeably to my wishes, scattered the seed about in places where he
thought it would be most likely to grow. There was also a single stool of
oats but it was not so fine as the wheat.

On the 12th, at 2 p.m., Flood suddenly returned, bringing information
that Mr. Browne had unexpectedly found water in the lower part of a
little rocky creek in our way, distant 18 miles, and that he was gone on
to the Rocky Gully. On receiving this intelligence I ordered the bullocks
to be yoked up, and we started for the creek at which we had left the
cart on our outward journey, at 7 p.m. It was blowing heavily at the time
from the S.W. and large clouds passed over us, but the sky cleared as the
wind fell at midnight. We reached our destination at 3 a.m. of the 13th.
Here I remained until half-past six when we again started and gained the
Horse-cart Creek at half-past twelve. Here, as at Flood's Creek, we found
a large plant of mustard and some barley in ear and ripe, where few of
the native grasses had more than made their appearance out of the ground.

Stopping to rest the animals for half an hour, I went myself to the
little branch creek, on which the reader will recollect our cattle
depended when we were last in this neighbourhood, and where I had
arranged to meet Mr. Browne, who arrived there about half an hour before
me. He had again been successful in finding a large supply of water in
the Rocky Gully, and thought that rain must have fallen on the hills.

At 4 the teams again started, but I was too unwell to accompany them
immediately. I had in truth lost the use of my limbs, and from the time
of our leaving the Depot had been lifted in and out of the cart; constant
jolting therefore had greatly fatigued me, and I found it necessary to
stop here for a short time after the departure of the drays. At half-past
six however, we followed and overtook the party about five miles from the
gully, where we halted at 3 A M. of the 14th.

Mr. Browne had found a large party of natives at the water, who had been
very kind to him, and many of them still remained when we came up. He had
observed some of them eating a small acid berry, and had procured a
quantity for me in the hope that they would do me good, and while we
remained at this place he good-naturedly went into the hills and gathered
me a large tureen full, and to the benefit I derived from these berries I
attribute my more speedy recovery from the malady under which I was
suffering. We were now 116 miles from the Darling, and although there was
no longer any doubt of our eventually reaching it, the condition in which
we should do so, depended on our finding water in the Coonbaralba pass,
from which we were distant 49 miles. In the evening I sent Flood on ahead
to look for water, with orders to return if he succeeded in his search.
In consequence of the kindness of the natives to Mr. Browne I made them
some presents and gave them a sheep, which they appeared to relish
greatly. They were good-looking blacks and in good condition, speaking
the language of the Darling natives.

It was late on the 15th before we ascended the ranges; but, as I had only
a limited distance to go it was not of much consequence, more especially
as I purposed halting at the little spring, in the upper part of the
Rocky Gully, at which Morgan and I stopped on a former occasion, when Mr.
Browne and Flood were looking for a place by which we could descend from
the hills to the plains of the desert interior. Mr. Browne took the short
cut up the gully with the sheep; but when I reached the glen he had not
arrived, and as he did not make his appearance for some time I became
anxious, and sent after him, but he had only been delayed by the
difficulty of the road, along which he described the scenery as very bold
and picturesque.

We had not up to this time experienced the same degree of heat that
prevailed at the Depot. The temperature since the thunder on the 8th had
been comparatively mild, and on ascending the hills we felt a sensible
difference. I attributed it, however, to our elevated position, for we
had on our way up the country experienced the nature of the climate of
the Darling. We could not decidedly ascertain the fact from the natives,
but as they were at this place in considerable numbers, both Mr. Browne
and myself concluded that the river had not been flooded this year;
neither had the season been the same as that of the former year, for it
will be remembered that at the period the party crossed the ranges, a
great deal of rain had fallen, in so much that the wheels of the drays
sunk deep into the ground; but now they hardly left an impression, as
they moved over it; and although more rain might have fallen on the hills
than in the depressed region beyond them, it was clear that none had
fallen for a considerable length of time in this neighbourhood.

Mr. Browne saw five or six rock Wallabies as he was coming up the glen,
and said they were beautiful little animals. He remarked that they
bounded up the bold cliffs near him with astonishing strength and
activity; in some places there were basaltic columns, resting on granite,
200 and 300 feet high.

Flood returned at 4 a.m. having found water, though not of the best
description, in the pass. His horse had, however, drank plentifully of
it, so that I determined on pushing from that point to Cawndilla, hoping
by good management to secure the cattle reaching it in safety.

Considering the distance we had to go we started late, but the bullocks
had strayed down the creek, and it took some time to drive them over such
rugged ground.

I preceded the party in the cart, leaving Mr. Browne in charge of the
drays, and crossing the ranges descended into the pass two hours after
sunset. We passed a brackish pool of water, and stopped at a small well,
at which there were two native women. The party came up about two hours
after midnight, the men and animals being greatly fatigued, so that it
was absolutely necessary to remain stationary for a day. Our retreat had
been a most harassing one, but it admitted of no hesitation. Though we
had thus far, under the blessing of Providence, brought every thing in
safety, and had now only one more effort to make, Cawndilla was still
distant 69 miles, between which and our position there was not a drop of
water.

One of the women we found here, came and slept at our fire, and managed
to roll herself up in Mr. Browne's blanket, who, waking from cold, found
that his fair companion had uncovered him, and appropriated the blanket
to her own use. The natives suffer exceedingly from cold, and are
perfectly paralysed by it, for they are not provided with any covering,
neither are their huts of a solidity or construction such as to protect
them from its effects. About noon a large tribe joined us from the S.W.
and we had a fine opportunity to form a judgment of them, when contrasted
with the natives of the Desert from which we had come. Robust, active,
and full of life, these hill natives were every way superior to the
miserable half-starved beings we had left behind, if I except the natives
of Cooper's Creek. During the day they kept falling in upon us, and in
the afternoon mustered more than one hundred strong, in men, women, and
children. As they were very quiet and unobtrusive I gave them a couple of
sheep, with which they were highly delighted, and in return, they
overwhelmed our camp at night with their women.

I mentioned in a former part of this work, that Mr. Browne and I had
succeeded in capturing a Dipus, when journeying to the N.W. We had
subsequently taken another, and had kept them both for some time, but one
died, and the other springing out of its box was killed by the dogs. From
the habits of this animal I did not expect to succeed in taking it home,
but I had every hope that some Jerboas, of which we had five, would
outlive the journey, for they thrived well on the food we gave them. I
was, however, quite provoked at this place to find that two of them had
died from the carelessness of the men throwing the tarpauline over the
box, and so smothering them. The survivors were all but dead when looked
at, and I feared we should lose them also.

As the morning of the 19th dawned, and distant objects became visible,
the plains of the Darling gradually spread out before us. We commenced
our journey to Cawndilla at half-past 7, and travelled down the creek
until 2 p.m., when we halted for two hours during the heat of the day at
Carnapaga. At 4 we resumed our journey, and again stopped for an hour on
the little sand hill at the lower part of the creek, to enable the men to
take some refreshment. At quarter-past 8 we turned from the creek and
travelled all night by the light of a lamp, and at daylight were 18 miles
from Cawndilla. We had kept upon our former tracks, on which the cattle
had moved rapidly along, but they now began to flag. Mr. Browne was in
front of the party with Mr. Stuart, but he suddenly returned, and coming
up to my cart gave me a letter he had found nailed up to a tree by Mr.
Piesse. This letter was to inform me of his arrival on the banks of the
Williorara on the 6th of the month, of his having been twice on the road
in the hope of seeing us, and sent natives to procure intelligence of us,
who returned in so exhausted a state, that he had given up all
expectation of our being able to cross the hills. He stated that we
should find a barrel of water a little further on, together with a letter
from head quarters, but had retained all other letters until he should
see me; nevertheless, he had the gratification to tell me that he had
seen Mrs. Sturt the day before he left Adelaide, and that she was well.
About a mile further on, we found the barrel of water, and relieved our
suffering horses, and thus benefited by the prudent exertions of Mr.
Piesse. Nothing, indeed, appeared to have escaped the anxious solicitude
of that zealous officer to relieve our wants.

I reached Cawndilla at 9 a.m. and stopped on the banks of the Williorara
at the dregs of a water-hole, about six inches deep, it being all that
remained in the creek, but I was too much fatigued to push on to the
Darling, a further distance of seven miles, where Mr. Piesse then was.
The drays came up a little after noon; the cattle almost frantic from the
want of water. It was with difficulty the men unyoked them, and the
moment they were loose they plunged headlong into the creek and drank
greedily of the putrid water that remained.

Amongst the letters I now received was one from the Colonial Secretary,
informing me, that supplies had been forwarded to the point I had
specified, according to the request contained in my letter of July; that
my further suggestions had been acted upon, and that the Governor had
availed himself of Mr. Piesse's services again, to send him in charge of
the party: thus satisfied that he was on the Darling, I sent Mr. Browne
and Mr. Stuart in advance, to apprise him of our approach.

On their arrival at his camp Mr. Piesse lost no time in repairing to me,
and I shall not readily forget the unaffected joy he evinced at seeing me
again. He had maintained a friendly intercourse with the natives, and had
acquitted himself in a manner, as creditable to himself, as it had been
beneficial to me.

Mr. Piesse was the bearer of numerous letters from my family and friends,
and I was in some measure repaid for the past, by the good intelligence
they conveyed: that my wife and children were well, and the colony was in
the most flourishing condition,--since, during my absence, that
stupendous mine had been discovered, which has yielded such profit to the
owners--and the pastoral pursuits of the colonists were in an equally
flourishing condition. Mr. Browne, too, received equally glad tidings
from his brother, who informed him of his intention to meet the party on
its way homewards.

On the 21st I moved over to the Darling; and found a number of natives at
the camp, and amongst them the old Boocolo of Williorara, who was highly
delighted at our return.

Mr. Piesse had constructed a large and comfortable hut of boughs--which
was much cooler than canvass. In this we made ourselves comfortable, and
I hoped that the numerous and more generous supplies of eatables and
drinkables than those to which we had been accustomed would conduce to
our early restoration to health. I could not but fancy that the berries
Mr. Browne had procured for me, and of which I had taken many, were
beginning to work beneficially--although I was still unable to move. As
I proposed remaining stationary until after Christmas Day, I deemed it
advisable to despatch messengers with letters for the Governor, advising
him of my safety, and to relieve the anxiety of my family and friends.
Mr. Browne accordingly made an agreement with two natives, to take the
letter-bag to the Anabranch of the Darling, and send it on to Lake
Victoria by other natives, who were to be rewarded for their trouble. For
this service our messengers were to receive two blankets and two
tomahawks, and the bag being closed they started off with it. I had
proposed to Mr. Browne to be himself the bearer of it, but he would not
leave me, even now. In order, therefore, to encourage the messengers, I
gave them in advance the tomahawks they were to have received on their
return. Our tent was generally full of natives; some of them very fine
young men, especially the two sons of the Boocolo. Topar made his
appearance two or three days after our arrival, but Toonda was absent on
the Murray: the former, however, having been detected in attempting a
theft, I had him turned out of the tent and banished the camp. The old
Boocolo came daily to see us, and as invariably laid down on the lower
part of my mattrass.

On the 23rd I sent Mr. Stuart to verify his former bearings on Scrope's
Range, and Mr. Browne kindly superintended the chaining of the distance
between a tree I had marked on the banks of the Darling and Sir Thomas
Mitchell's last camp. This tree was about a quarter of a mile below the
junction of the Williorara, and had cut on it, (G. A. E., Dec. 24, 1843,)
the distance between the two points was three miles and 20 chains.

The 25th being Christmas Day, I issued a double allowance to the men, and
ordered that preparations should be made for pushing down the river on
the following morning. About 2 p.m. we were surprised at the return of
our two messengers, who insisted that they had taken the letter-bag to
the point agreed upon, although it was an evident impossibility that they
could have done so. I therefore evinced my displeasure and refused to
give them the blankets--for which, nevertheless, they greatly importuned
me. Mr. Browne, however, explained to the Boocolo why I refused, and
charged the natives with having secreted it somewhere or other. On this
there was a long consultation with the natives, which terminated in the
Boocolo's two sons separating from the others, and talking together for a
long time in a corner of my hut; they then came forward and said, that my
decision was perfectly just, for that the men had not been to the place
agreed upon, but had left the bag of letters with a tribe on the Darling,
and therefore, that they had been fully rewarded by the present of the
tomahawks. This decided opinion settled the dispute at once, and the
parties quietly acquiesced.

I had, as stated, been obliged to turn Topar out of my tent, and expel
him the camp for theft, but at the same time Mr. Browne explained to the
natives why I did so, and told them that I should in like manner expel
any other who so transgressed, and they appeared fully to concur in the
justice of my conduct. There is no doubt indeed but that they punish each
other for similar offences, although perhaps the moral turpitude of the
action is not understood by them.

The Darling at this time had ceased to flow, and formed a chain of ponds.
The Williorara was quite dry from one end to the other, as were the
lagoons and creeks in the neighbourhood. The natives having cleared the
river of the fish that had been brought down by the floods, now subsisted
for the most part on herbs and roots of various kinds, and on the
caterpillar of the gum-tree moth, which they procured out of the ground
with their switches, having a hook at the end. I do not think they could
procure animal food in the then state of the country, there being no
ducks or kangaroos in the neighbourhood, in any great quantity at all
events.

I thus early began to feel the benefit of a change of diet in the
diminished rigidity of my limbs, and therefore entertained great hopes
that I should yet be able to ride into Adelaide. The men too generally
began to recover from their fatigues, but both Mr. Browne and Mr. Stuart
continued to complain of shooting pains in their limbs. The party and the
animals however being sufficiently recruited to enable us to resume our
progress homewards, we broke up our camp at the junction of the
Williorara on the 26th of the month as I had proposed, under more
favourable circumstances than we could have expected, the weather being
beautifully fine and the temperature pleasant. When I was carried out of
my tent to the cart, I was surprised to see the verdure of that very
ground against the barrenness of which I had had to declaim the preceding
year; I mean the flats of the Williorara, now covered with grass, and
looking the very reverse of what they had done before; so hazardous is it
to give an opinion of such a country from a partial glimpse of it. The
incipient vegetation must have been brought forth by flood or heavy
rains.

We passed two tribes of natives, with whom we staid for a short time as
the old Boocolo was with us. Amongst these natives we did not notice the
same disproportion in the sexes as in the interior, but not only amongst
these tribes but with those of Williorara and Cawndilla, we observed that
many had lost an eye by inflammation from the attacks of flies. I was
really surprised that any of them could see, for most assuredly it is
impossible to conceive anything more tormenting than those brutes are in
every part of the interior.

On the 27th we passed two of our old encampments, and halted after a
journey of 16 miles in the close vicinity of a tribe of natives, about
fifty in number, the majority of whom were boys as mischievous as
monkeys, and as great thieves too, but we reduced them to some kind of
order by a little patience. The Darling had less water than in the
previous year before the flood, but its flats were covered with grass, of
which hundreds of tons might have been cut, so that our cattle speedily
began to improve in condition.

About this time the weather was exceedingly oppressive, and heavy
thunder-clouds hung about, but no rain fell.

Our journey on the 28th was comparatively short. We passed the location
of another tribe during the day, and recovered our letter-bag, which had
been left by our messengers with a native belonging to it. Here the old
Boocolo left us and returned to Williorara.

The last days of 1845 and the few first of 1846 were exceedingly
oppressive, and the heat was almost as great as in the interior itself.

On the 5th of January we crossed over from the Darling to its ancient
channel, and on the 6th Mr. Browne left for Adelaide. On the 8th I
reached Lake Victoria, where I learnt that our old friend Nadbuck had
been speared by a native, whose jealousy he had excited, but that his
wound was not mortal. He was somewhere on the Rufus, which I did not
approach, but made a signal fire in the hope that he would have seen it,
and, had they not been spoiled, I should have thrown up a rocket at
night. However Nadbuck heard of our return, and made a successful effort
to get to us, and tears chased each other down the old man's cheeks when
he saw us again. Assuredly these poor people of the desert have the most
kindly feelings; for not only was his reception of us such as I have
described, but the natives one and all exhibited the utmost joy at our
safety, and cheered us on every part of the river.

It blew very heavily on the night of the 10th, but moderated towards the
morning, and the day turned out cooler than usual. The lagoons of the
Murray were full of fish and wild fowl, and my distribution of all the
hooks and lines I had brought back enabled my sable friends to capture an
abundance of the former without going into the water, and they very soon
appreciated the value of such instruments.

On the 13th I left Mr. Piesse in charge of the party, and pushed on to
Moorundi, and arrived at the settlement, into which I was escorted by the
natives raising loud shouts, on the 15th. Here my kind friends made me as
comfortable as they could. Mr. Eyre had gone to England on leave of
absence, and Mr. Nation was filling his appointment as Resident.

On the 17th I mounted my horse for the first time since I had been taken
ill in November, and had scarcely left Moorundi when I met my good
friends Mr. Charles Campbell and Mr. A. Hardy in a carriage to convey me
to Adelaide. I reached my home at midnight on the 19th of January, and,
on crossing its threshold, raised my wife from the floor on which she had
fallen, and heard the carriage of my considerate friends roll rapidly
away.




CHAPTER IV.



REMARKS ON THE SEASON--DRY STATE OF THE ATMOSPHERE--THERMOMETRICAL
OBSERVATIONS--WINDS IN THE INTERIOR--DIRECTION OF THE RANGES--GEOLOGICAL
OBSERVATIONS--NON-EXISTENCE OF ANY CENTRAL CHAIN--PROBABLE COURSE OF THE
STONY DESERT--WHETHER CONNECTED WITH LAKE TORRENS--OPINIONS OF CAPTAIN
FLINDERS--NO INFORMATION DERIVED FROM THE NATIVES--THE NATIVES--THEIR
PERSONAL APPEARANCE--DISPROPORTION BETWEEN THE SEXES--THE WOMEN--CUSTOMS
OF THE NATIVES--THEIR HABITATIONS--FOOD--LANGUAGE--CONCLUSION.


Having thus brought my narrative to a conclusion I shall trespass but
little more on the patience of the reader. It appears to me that a few
observations are necessary to clear some parts, and to make up for
omissions in the body of my work. I have written it indeed under
considerable disadvantage; for although I have in a great measure
recovered from the loss of sight consequent on my former services, I
cannot glance my eye so rapidly as I once did over such a voluminous
document as this journal; and I feel that I owe it to the public, as well
as to myself, to make this apology for its imperfections.

There were two great difficulties against which, during the progress of
the expedition, I had to contend. The one was, the want of water; the
other, the nature of the country. That it was altogether impracticable
for wheeled carriages of any kind, may readily be conceived from my
description; and in the state in which I found it, horses were evidently
unequal to the task. I cannot help thinking that camels might have done
better; not only for their indurance, but because they carry more than a
horse. I should, undoubtedly, have been led to try those animals if I
could have procured them; but that was impossible. Certain however it is,
that I went into the interior to meet with trials that scarcely camels
could have borne up against; for I think there can be no doubt, from the
facts I have detailed, that the season, during which this expedition was
undertaken, was one of unusual dryness; but although the arid state of
the country contributed so much to prevent its movements, I question
whether, under opposite circumstances, it would have been possible to
have pushed so far as the party succeeded in doing. Certainly, if the
ground had been kept in a state of constant saturation, travelling would
have been out of the question; for the rain of July abundantly proved how
impracticable any attempt to penetrate it under such circumstances would
have been.

It is difficult to say what kind of seasons prevail in Central Australia.
That low region does not, as far as I can judge, appear to be influenced
by tropical rains, but rather to be subject to sudden falls. That the
continent of Australia was at one time more humid than it now is, appears
to be an admitted fact; the marks of floods, and the violence of torrents
(none of which have been witnessed), are mentioned by every explorer as
traceable over every part of the continent; but no instance of any
general inundation is on record: on the contrary the seasons appear to be
getting drier and drier every year, and the slowness with which any body
exposed to the air decomposes, would argue the extreme absence of
moisture in the atmosphere. It will be remembered that one of my bullocks
died in the Pine Forest when I was passing through it in December, 1844.
In July, 1845, when Mr. Piesse was on his route home from the Depot in
charge of the home returning party, he passed by the spot where this
animal had fallen; and, in elucidation of what I have stated, I will here
give the extract of a letter I subsequently received from him from India.
Speaking of the humidity of the climate of Bengal, he says: "It appears
to me that heat alone is rather a preservative from decomposition; of
which I recollect an instance, in the bullock that died in the march
through the Pine scrub on the 1st of January, 1845. When I passed by the
spot in the following July, the carcase was dried up like a mummy, and
was in such a perfect state of preservation as to be easily recognised."

No stronger proof, I apprehend, could have been adduced of the dryness of
the atmosphere in that part of the interior, or more corroborative of the
intensity of heat there during the interval referred to; but the singular
and unusual effects it had on ourselves, and on every thing around was
equally corroborative of the fact. The atmosphere on some occasions was
so rarified, that we felt a difficulty in breathing, and a buzzing
sensation on the crown of the head, as if a hot iron had been there.

There were only two occasions on which the thermometer was noticed to
exceed the range of 130 degrees in the shade, the solar intensity at the
same time being nearly 160 degrees. The extremes between this last and
our winter's cold, when the thermometer descended to 24 degrees was 133
degrees. I observe that Sir Thomas Mitchell gives the temperature at the
Bogan, in his tent at 117 degrees and when exposed to the wind at 129
degrees; but I presume that local causes, such as radiation from stones
and sand, operated more powerfully with us than in his case. Whilst we
were at the Depot about May, the water of the creek became slightly
putrid, and cleared itself like Thames water; and during the hotter
months of our stay there, it evaporated at the rate of nearly an inch a
day, as shewn by a rod Mr. Browne placed in it to note the changes, but
the amount varied according to the quiescent or boisterous state of the
atmosphere. It will readily be believed that in so heated a region the
air was seldom still; to the currents sweeping over it we had to
attribute the loathsome and muddy state of the water on which we
generally subsisted after we left that place, for the pools from which we
took it were so shallow as to be stirred up to the consistency of
white-wash by the play and action of the wind on their surfaces. During
our stay at the Depot the barometer never rose above 30.260, or fell
below 29.540.

From December, 1844, to the end of April of the following year, the
prevailing winds were from E.N.E. to E.S.E., after that month they were
variable, but westerly winds predominated. The south wind was always
cold, and its approach was invariably indicated by the rise of the
barometer.

The rain of July commenced in the north-east quarter and gradually went
round to the north-west; but more clouds rose from the former point than
from any other. The sky generally speaking was without a speck, and the
dazzling brightness of the moon was one of the most distressing things we
had to endure when out in the bush. It was impossible indeed to shut out
its light which ever way one turned, and its irritating effects were
remarkable.

It will be observable to those who cast their eyes over the chart of
South Australia that the range of mountains between St. Vincent's Gulf
and the Murray river runs up northwards into the interior. In like manner
the ranges crossed by the Expedition also ran in the same direction. The
Black Rock Hill, so named by Captain Frome, is in lat. 32 degrees 45
minutes and in the 139th meridian, and is the easternmost of the chain to
which it belongs. Mount Gipps on the Coonbaralba range is in lat. 31
degrees 52 minutes and in long. 141 degrees 41 minutes, but from that
point the ranges trend somewhat to the westward of south, and
consequently, may run nearer to that (of which the Black Rock Hill forms
so prominent a feature) than we may suppose, but there is a distance of
nearly 150 miles of country still remaining to be explored, before this
point can be decided. Nevertheless, it is more than probable the two
chains are in some measure connected, especially as they greatly resemble
each other in their classification. They are for the most part composed
of primary igneous rocks, amongst which there is a general distribution
of iron, and perhaps of other metals. The iron ore, however, that was
discovered during the progress of the Expedition, of which Piesse's Knob
is a remarkable specimen, was of the purest kind.

It was, as has been found in South Australia, a surface deposit,
protruding or cropping out of the ground in immense clean blocks. This
ore was highly magnetic; the veins of the metal run north and south, the
direction of the ranges, as did a similar crop on the plains at the S.E.
base of the ranges. Generally speaking there was nothing bold or
picturesque in the scenery of the Barrier Range, but the Rocky Glen and
some few others of a similar description were exceptions. As the Barrier
Range ran parallel to the coast ranges, so there were other ranges to the
eastward of the Barrier Range, running parallel to it, and they were
separated by broad plains, partly open and partly covered with brush. The
general elevation of the ranges was about 1200 feet above the level of
the sea, but some of the hills exceeded 1600. Mount Lyell was 2000; Mount
Gipps 1500; Lewis's Hill 1000: but the general elevation of the range
might be rather under than over what I have stated. It appears to me that
the whole of the geological formation of this portion of the continent is
the same, and that all the lines of ranges terminate in the same kind of
way to the north, that is to say, in detached flat-topped hills of
compact or indurated quartz shewing white and abrupt faces. So terminated
the Coonbaralba Range, and so Mr. Eyre tells us did the Mount Serle
Range, and so terminated the range we saw to the westward of Lake
Torrens.

That they exhibit evidences of a past violent commotion of waters, I
think any one who will follow my steps and view them, will be ready to
admit.

That the range of hills I have called "Stanley's Barrier Range," and that
all the mountain chains to the eastward and westward of it, were once so
many islands I have not the slightest doubt, and that during the primeval
period, a sea covered the deserts over which I wandered; but it is
impossible for a writer, whatever powers of description he may have, to
transfer to the minds of his readers the same vivid impressions his own
may have received, on a view of any external object.

From the remarks into which I have thus been led, as well as those which
have escaped me in the course of this narrative, it will be seen that the
impressions I had received as to the past and present state of the
continent were rather strengthened than diminished, on my further
knowledge of its internal structure.

It is true, that I did not find an inland sea as I certainly expected to
have done, but the country as a desert was what I had anticipated,
although I could not have supposed it would have proved of such boundless
extent.

Viewing the objects for which the Expedition was equipped, and its
results, there can, I think, be no doubt, as to the non-existence of any
mountain ranges in the interior of Australia, but, on the contrary, that
its central regions are nearly if not quite on a sea level, and that the
north coast is separated from the south as effectually as if seas rolled
between them. I have stated my opinion that that portion of the desert
which I tried to cross continues with undiminished breadth to the Great
Australian Bight, and I agree with Captain Flinders, in supposing that if
an inland sea exists any where, it exists underneath and behind that
bank, (speaking from seaward). It would, I think, be unreasonable to
suppose that such an immense tract of sandy desert, once undoubtedly a
sea-bed, should immediately contract; considering, indeed, the sterile
character of the country to the north of Gawler's Range, to the westward
of Port Lincoln, and along the whole of the south coast of Australia,
nearly to King George's Sound, I must confess I have no hope of any
inland fertile country. I am aware it is the opinion of some of my
friends that the Stony Desert may communicate with Lake Torrens. Such may
have been and still may be the case--I will not argue the contrary, or
answer for the changes in so extraordinary a region. I only state my own
ideas from what I observed, strengthened by my view of the position I
occupied, when at my farthest north; we will therefore refer to that
position, and to the position of Lake Torrens, and see how far it is
probable, that a large channel, such as I have described the Stony
Dessert to be, should turn so abruptly, as it must do to connect itself
with that basin; the evident fall of the interior, as far as that fact
could be ascertained, being plainly from east to west.

The western shore of Lake Torrens, as laid down by Mr. Eyre, is in 137
degrees 40 minutes or thereabouts. Its eastern shore in 141 degrees of
longitude. Its southern extremity being in lat. 28 1/2 degrees. My
position was in 138 degrees of long. and 24 degrees 40 minutes of
latitude. I was therefore within 20 miles as far to the westward of the
westernmost part of Lake Torrens, and was also 250 geographical miles due
north of it. To gain Lake Torrens, the Stony Desert must turn at a right
angle from its known course, and in such case hills must exist to the
westward of where I was, for hills alone could so change the direction of
a current, but the whole aspect of the interior would argue against such
a conclusion. I never lost sight of the probability of Lake Torrens being
connected with some central feature, until my hopes were destroyed by the
nature of the country I traversed, nor do I think it probable that in so
level a region as that in which I left it, there is any likelihood of the
Stony Desert changing its direction so much as to form any connection
with the sandy basin to which I have alluded. Nevertheless it may do so.
We naturally cling to the ideas we ourselves have adopted, and it is
difficult to transfer them to the mind of another. In reference however
to what I had previously stated, I would give the following quotation
from Flinders. His impressions from what he observed while sailing along
the coast, in a great measure correspond with mine when travelling
inland, the only point we differ upon is as to the probable origin of the
great sea-wall, which appeared to him to be of calcareous formation, and
he therefore concluded that it had been a coral reef raised by some
convulsion of nature. Had Capt. Flinders been able to examine the rock
formation of the Great Australian Bight, he would have found that it was
for the most part an oolitic limestone, with many shells imbedded in it,
similar in substance and in formation to the fossil bed of the Murray,
but differing from it in colour.

"The length of these cliffs from their second commencement is 33 leagues,
and that of the level bank from New Cape Paisley, where it was first seen
from the sea, no less than 145 leagues. The height of this extraordinary
bank is nearly the same throughout, being nowhere less by estimation than
400 feet, not anywhere more than 600. In the first 20 leagues the rugged
tops of some inland mountains were visible over it, but during the
remainder of its long course, the bank was the limit of our view.

"This equality of elevation for so great an extent, and the evidently
calcareous nature of the bank, at least in the upper 200 feet, would
bespeak it to have been the exterior line of some vast coral reef, which
is always more elevated than the interior parts, and commonly level with
high water mark. From the gradual subsiding of the sea, or perhaps from
some convulsion of nature, this bank may have attained its present height
above the surface, and however extraordinary such a change may appear,
yet when it is recollected that branches of coral still exist, upon Bald
Head, at the elevation of 400 feet or more, this supposition assumes a
degree of probability, and it would farther seem that the subsiding of
the waters has not been at a period very remote, since these frail
branches have yet neither been all beaten down nor mouldered away by the
wind and weather.

"If this supposition be well founded, it may with the fact of no other
hill or object having been perceived above the bank in the greater part
of its course, assist in forming some conjecture as to what may be within
it, which cannot as I judge in such case, be other than flat sandy plains
or water. The bank may even be a narrow barrier between an interior and
the exterior sea, and much do I regret the not having formed an idea of
this probability at the time, for notwithstanding the great difficulty
and risk, I should certainly have attempted a landing upon some part of
the coast, to ascertain a fact of so much importance."

Had there been any inland ranges they would have been seen by that
searching officer from the ocean, but it is clear that none exists; for
Mr. Eyre in his intercourse with the natives, during his journey from
South Australia to King George's Sound, elicited nothing from them that
led him to suppose that there were any hills in the interior, or indeed
that an inland sea was to be found there; even the existence of one may
reasonably be doubted, and it may be that the country behind the Great
Australian Bight is, as Captain Flinders has conjectured, a low sandy
country, formed by a channel of 400 or 500 miles in breadth, separating
the south coast of the continent from the west and north ones. Although I
did not gain the direct centre of the continent there can be very little
doubt as to the character of the country round it. The spirit of
enterprise alone will now ever lead any man to gain it, but the gradual
development of the character of the yet unexplored interior will alone
put an end to doubts and theories on the subject. The desert of Australia
is not more extensive than the deserts in other parts of the world. Its
character constitutes its peculiarity, and that may lead to some
satisfactory conclusion as to how it was formed, and by what agent the
sandy ridges which traverse it were thrown up. I would repeat that I am
diffident of my own judgment, and that I should be indebted to any one
better acquainted with the nature of these things than I am to point out
wherein I am in error.

It remains for me, before I close this part of my work, to make a few
observations on the natives with whom we communicated beyond the river
tribes. Mr. Eyre has given so full and so accurate an account of the
natives of the Murray and Darling that it is needless for me to repeat
his observations. I would only remark that I attribute our friendly
intercourse with them to the great influence he had gained over them by
his judicious conduct as Resident Protector at the Murray. I fully concur
with him in the good that resulted from the establishment of a post on
that river, for the express pur pose of putting a stop to the mutual
aggression of the overlanders and natives upon each other. I have
received too many kindnesses at the hands of the natives not to be
interested in their social welfare, and most fully approved the wise
policy of Captain Grey, in sending Mr. Eyre to a place where his
exertions were so eminently successful.

In another place I may be led to make some remarks on the condition of
the natives of South Australia, but at present I have only to observe
upon that of the natives of the distant interior with whom no white man
had ever before come in contact.

If I except the tribe upon Cooper's Creek, on which they are numerous,
the natives are but thinly scattered over the interior, as far as our
range extended. The few families wandering over those gloomy regions may
scarcely exceed one hundred souls. They are a feeble and diminutive race
when compared to the river tribes, but they have evidently sprung from
the same parent stock, and local circumstances may satisfactorily and
clearly account for physical differences of appearance. Like the tribes
of the Darling and the Murray, and indeed like the aborigines of the
whole continent, they have the quick and deep set eye, the rapidly
retiring forehead, and the great enlargement of the frontal sinus, the
flat nose and the thick lip. It is quite true that many have not the
depression of the head so great, but in such cases I think an unusual
proportion of the brain lies behind the ear. In addition, however, to the
above physiognomical resemblances, they have the same disproportion
between the upper region of the body and the lower extremities, the same
prominent chest, and the same want of muscular development, and in common
with all the natives I have seen, their beards are strong and stand out
from the chin, and their hair the finest ornament they possess, only that
they destroy its natural beauty by filth and neglect, is both straight
and curly. Their skins are nearly of the same hue; nor did we see any
great difference, excepting in one woman, whose skin was of a jet black.
Two young women, however, were noticed who had beautiful glossy ringlets,
of which they appeared to be exceedingly proud, and kept clean, as if
they knew their value. Both Mr. Browne and myself observed a great
disparity of numbers in the male and female children, there being an
excess of the latter of nearly two to one, and in some instances of a
still greater disproportion.

This fact was also obvious both to Mr. Stuart and myself in the tribe on
Cooper's Creek, in which the number of female children greatly exceeded
that of the male, though there were more adult men than women. The
personal appearance of the men of this tribe, as I have already stated,
was exceedingly prepossessing--they were well made and tall, and
notwithstanding that my long-legged friend was an ugly fellow, were
generally good looking. Their children in like manner were in good
condition and appeared to be larger than I had remarked elsewhere, but
with the women no improvement was to be seen. Thin, half-starved and
emaciated they were still made to bear the burden of the work, and while
the men were lounging about their fires, and were laughing and talking,
the women were ceaselessly hammering and pounding to prepare that meat,
of which, from their appearance, so small a proportion fell to their
share. As regards the treatment of their women, however, I think I have
observed that they are subjected to harsher treatment when they are
members of a large tribe than when fewer are congregated together. Both
parents are very fond of and indulgent to their children, and there is no
surer way of gaining the assistance of the father, or of making a
favourable impression on a tribe than by noticing the children.

I think that generally speaking the native women seldom have more than
four children, or if they have, few above that number arrive at the age
of puberty. There are, however, several reasons why the women are not
more prolific; the principal of which is that they suckle their young for
such a length of time, and so severe a task is it with them to rear their
offspring that the child is frequently destroyed at its birth; and
however revolting to us such a custom may be, it is now too notorious a
fact to be disputed.

The voices of the natives, generally speaking, are soft, especially those
of the women. They are also a merry people and sit up laughing and
talking all night long. It is this habit, and the stars so constantly
passing before their eyes, which enables them to know when they are
likely to have rain or cold weather, as they will point to any star and
tell you that when it shall get up higher then the weather will be cold
or hot.

These primitive people have peculiar customs and ceremonies in their
intercourse with strangers, and on first meeting preserve a most painful
silence; whether this arises from diffidence or some other feeling it is
difficult to say, but it is exceedingly awkward; but, however awkward or
embarrassing it may be, there can be no doubt as to the policy and
necessity of respecting it. The natives certainly do not allow strangers
to pass through their territory without permission first obtained, and
their passions and fears are both excited when suddenly intruded upon. To
my early observation of this fact, and to my forbearing any forced
interview, but giving them time to recover from the surprise into which
my presence had thrown them, I attribute my success in avoiding any
hostile collision. I am sure, indeed, whatever instances of violence and
murder may be recorded of them, they are naturally a mild and inoffensive
people.

It is a remarkable fact that we seldom or ever saw weapons in the hands
of any of the natives of the interior, such as we did see were similar to
those ordinarily used by natives of other parts of the continent. Their
implements were simple and rude, and consisted chiefly of troughs for
holding water or seeds, rush bags, skins, stones, etc. The native
habitations, at all events those of the natives of the interior, with the
exception of the Cooper's Creek tribe, had huts of a much more solid
construction than those of the natives of the Murray or the Darling,
although some of their huts were substantially built also. Those of the
interior natives however were made of strong boughs with a thick coating
of clay over leaves and grass. They were entirely impervious to wind and
rain, and were really comfortable, being evidently erections of a
permanent kind to which the inhabitants frequently returned. Where there
were villages these huts were built in rows, the front of one hut being
at the back of the other, and it appeared to be a singular but universal
custom to erect a smaller hut at no great distance from the large ones,
but we were unable to detect for what purpose they were made, unless it
was to deposit their seeds; as they were too small even for children to
inhabit. At the little hut to the north of the ranges, from which the
reader will recollect we twice frightened away a poor native, we found a
very large spear, apparently for a canoe, which I brought to the camp.
This spear could not possibly have been used as a weapon, for it was too
heavy, but on shewing it subsequently to some natives, they did not
intimate that it was a canoe spear.

It may be thought that having been in the interior for so many months I
ought to have become acquainted with many of the customs and habits of
the people inhabiting it, but it will have been seen that they seldom
came near us.

The custom of circumcision generally prevailed, excepting with the
Cooper's Creek tribe, but you would meet with a tribe with which that
custom did not prevail, between two with which it did.

As regards their food, it varies with the season. That which they
appeared to me to use in the greatest abundance were seeds of various
kinds, as of grasses of several sorts, of the mesembryanthemum, of the
acacia and of the box-tree; of roots and herbs, of caterpillars and
moths, of lizards and snakes, but of these there are very few. Besides
these they sometimes take the emu and kangaroo, but they are never so
plentiful as to constitute a principal article of food. They take ducks
when the rains favour their frequenting the creeks and lagoons, exactly
as the natives of other parts of Australia do, with nets stuck up to long
poles, and must procure a sufficiency of birds during the summer season.
They also wander among the sand ridges immediately after a fall of rain,
to hunt the jerboa and talperoo, (see Nat. Hist.,) of which they procure
vast supplies; but all these sports are temporary, particularly the
latter, as the moment the puddles dry up the natives are forced to
retreat and fall back on previous means of subsistence.

With regard to their language, it differed in different localities,
though all had words common to each respectively. My friend Mr. Eyre
states, that they have not any generic name for anything, as tree, fish,
bird; but in this, as far as the fish goes, I think he is mistaken, for
the old man who visited our camp before the rains, and who so much raised
our hopes, certainly gave them a generic name; for placing his fingers on
such fish as he recognised, he distinctly mentioned their specific name,
but when he put his fingers on such as he did not recognise, he said
"Guia, Guia, Guia," successively after each, evidently intending to
include them under the one name. With respect to their religious
impressions, if I may so call them, I believe they have none. The only
impression they have is of an evil spirit, but however melancholy the
fact, it is no less true that the aborigines of Australia have no idea of
a superintending Providence.

In conclusion: I have spoken of Mr. Browne and Mr. Piesse throughout my
narrative, in terms such as I feel they deserved. I should be sorry to
close its pages without also recording the valuable and cheerful
assistance I received from Mr. Stuart, whose zeal and spirit were equally
conspicuous, and whose labour at the charts did him great credit. To
Flood I was indebted for having my horses in a state fit for service,
than whom as a person in charge of stock, I could not have had a better;
and I cannot but speak well of all the men in their respective
capacities, as having always displayed a willingness to bear with me,
when ever I called on them to do so, the fatigues and exposure incidental
to such a service as that on which I was employed.

Before closing my narrative I would make a few observations on the
conduct of such an Expedition as the one the details of which I have just
been giving.

It appears to me then that discipline is the first and principal point to
be considered on such occasions; unless indeed the leader be implicitly
obeyed it is impossible that matters should go on regularly. For this
reason it is objectionable to associate any irresponsible person in such
an undertaking. When I engaged the men who were to accompany me, I made
them sign an agreement, giving me power to diminish or increase the
rations, and binding themselves not only to the performance of any
particular duty, but to do everything in their power to promote the
success of the service in which they were engaged, under the penalty of
forfeiture of wages, in whole or part as I should determine. I deemed it
absolutely necessary to arm myself with powers with which I could
restrain my men even in the Desert, before I left the haunts of civilized
man, although I never put these powers in force,--and this appears to me
to be a necessary precaution on all such occasions. Equally necessary is
the establishment of a guard at night, for it is impossible to calculate
on the presence of natives--they may be close at hand, when none have
been seen or heard during the day. Had Dr. Leichhardt adopted this
precaution his camp would not have been surprised, nor would he have lost
a valuable companion. Equally necessary is it to keep the stock, whether
horses or bullocks, constantly within view. In all situations where I
thought it probable they might wander I had them watched all night long.
Unless due precaution however is used to ensure their being at hand when
wanted, they are sure to wander and give ceaseless trouble.

As regards the consumption of provisions, I had both a weekly and a
monthly statement of issues. In addition to this they were weighed
monthly and their loss ascertained, and their consumption regulated
accordingly, and I must say that I never found that the men were disposed
to object to any reasonable reduction I made. I found the sheep I took
with me were admirable stock, but I was always aware that an unforeseen
accident might deprive me of them, and indeed they called for more
watchful care even than the other stock. The men at the Depot were never
without their full allowance of mutton. It was only the parties out on
distant and separate services who were reduced to an allowance scarcely
sufficient to do their work upon.

The attention of a Leader is no less called to all these minutiae than
his eye and judgment to the nature of the country in which he may happen
to be. I would observe that in searching for water along the dry channel
of a creek, he should watch for the slightest appearance of a creek
junction, for water is more frequently found in these lateral branches,
however small they may at first appear to be, than in the main creek
itself, and I would certainly recommend a close examination of them. The
explorer will ever find the gum-tree in the neighbour hood of water, and
if he should ever traverse such a country as that into which I went, and
should discover creeks as I did losing themselves on plains, he should
never despair of recovering their channels again. They invariably
terminate in grassy plains, and until he sees such before him he may rest
assured that their course continues. Should the traveller be in a country
in which water is scarce it will be better for him to stop at any he may
find, although early in the day, than to go on in the chance of being
without all night, and so entailing fatigue on his men.

I trust that what I have said of the natives renders it unnecessary for
me to add anything as to the caution and forbearance required in
communicating with them. Kindness gains much on them, and their friendly
disposition eases the mind of a load of anxiety--for however confident
the Leader may be, it is impossible to divest the minds of the men of
apprehension when in the presence of hostile natives. He who shall have
perused these pages will have learnt that under whatever difficulties he
may be placed, that although his last hope is almost extinguished, he
should never despair. I have recorded instances enough of the watchful
superintendence of that Providence over me and my party, without whose
guidance we should have perished, nor can I more appropriately close
these humble sheets, than by such an acknowledgment, and expressing my
fervent thanks to Almighty God for the mercies vouchsafed to me during
the trying and doubtful service on which I was employed.





AN ACCOUNT OF THE SEA COAST AND INTERIOR OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA
WITH OBSERVATIONS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS CONNECTED WITH ITS INTERESTS.




CHAPTER I.



DUTIES OF AN EXPLORER--GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION OF SOUTH
AUSTRALIA--DESCRIPTION OF ITS COAST LINE--SEA MOUTH OF THE
MURRAY--ENTERED BY MR. PULLEN--RISK OF THE ATTEMPT--BEACHING--ROSETTA
HARBOUR--VICTOR HARBOUR--NEPEAN BAY--KANGAROO ISLAND--KINGSCOTE--CAPT.
LEE'S INSTRUCTIONS FOR PORT ADELAIDE--PORT ADELAIDE--REMOVAL TO THE NORTH
ARM--HARBOUR MASTER'S REPORT--YORKE'S PENINSULA--PORT LINCOLN--CAPT.
LEE'S INSTRUCTIONS--BOSTON ISLAND--BOSTON BAY--COFFIN'S BAY--MR. CAMERON
SENT ALONG THE COAST--HIS REPORT--POSITION OF PORT ADELAIDE.


No mariner ever shook the reefs from his sails, on the abatement of the
storm, under the fury of which his vessel had been labouring, with more
grateful feelings than those with which I turn from the dreary and
monotonous wastes I have been describing, to the contemplation of fairer
and more varied scenes. My weary task has been performed, and however
uninteresting my narrative may have proved to the general reader, I would
yet hope, that those who shall hereafter enter the field of Australian
discovery, will profit from my experience, and be spared many of the
inconveniences and sufferings to which I was unavoidably exposed. They
may rest assured, that it is only by steady perseverance and unceasing
attention, by due precaution and a mild discipline, that they will
succeed in such an undertaking as that in which I was engaged. That
unless they are fortunate enough to secure such an assistant as I had in
Mr. Browne, their single eye must be over every thing, to study the
features of the country through which they are passing, to keep their
horses and cattle always within view, to prevent disputes in their camp,
and to husband their provisions with the utmost care, to ascertain from
time to time the quantity they may have on hand, and to regulate their
consumption accordingly. Few difficulties present themselves to the
explorer in journeying down a river, for that way is smooth before him;
it is when he quits its banks, and traverses a country, on the parched
surface of which little or no water is to be found, that his trials
commence, and he finds himself obliged to undergo that personal toil,
which sooner or later will lay him prostrate. Strictly speaking, my work
should close here. I am not, however, unmindful of the suggestion I made
in my Preface, that a short notice of South Australia at the close of my
journal would not be out of place.

In the following pages, therefore, it is proposed to give some account of
that province, from whence, as the reader is aware, I took my departure,
before commencing my recent labours. Its circumstances and prospects
have, I know, of late, been frequently brought before the public, but, I
trust, nevertheless, that my observations will carry something of
novelty, if not of interest, and utility with them.

South Australia, then, the youngest of the colonies that have been
established round the shores of the Australian Continent, is situate, as
its name would imply, upon its southern coast. It extends from the 132nd
to the 141st degree of longitude east from Greenwich, and runs up
northwards into the interior to the 26th parallel of latitude. The
district of Port Phillip bounds it on the east, for which reason, the
fixing of the eastern boundary line between those two fine provinces has
of late been a point of great interest and importance. Mr. Tyers, an able
and intelligent officer, was employed by the Government of New South
Wales, primarily to determine the longitude of the mouth of the Glenelg,
and from his triangulations and observations it would appear that the
141st meridian falls on the coast about a mile and a half to the eastward
of it. Subsequent observations, taken by Captain Stokes, in command of
Her Majesty's surveying ship, the Beagle, differ slightly from the result
of Mr. Tyers' observations, but they prove beyond doubt, the care and
accuracy with which the latter officer carried on his survey. The point,
has since, I believe, been finally recognised by the governments of
Sydney and Adelaide, and the boundary line been marked to the distance of
123 miles from the coast. The party employed in this useful undertaking,
however, was obliged to relinquish it for a time, in consequence of heavy
rains; but it is not probable that any dispute will hereafter arise on
the question. If the line could have been extended to the Murray river,
it would have been as well, but the desert country beyond it is valueless
to civilised man. Taking it for granted, then, that the S.E. angle of the
province of South Australia has been fixed, we shall in the first
instance proceed along its sea line, and notice any thing worthy of
observation, before we enter into a detail as to the character of the
country itself.

From the mouth of the Glenelg the coast of South Australia trends to the
westward as far as Cape Northumberland in long. 140 degrees 37 minutes
and in lat. 38 degrees; [Note 11. The reader will be good enough to bear
in mind that the Longitudes in this work are all east of Greenwich, and
that the Latitudes are south.] from Cape Northumberland it turns to the
N.N.W., keeping that general direction for more than 100 miles. Between
the last mentioned Cape and Cape Morard des Galles in lat. 36 1/2 degrees,
there are several bays, two only of which, Rivoli Bay, immediately to the
north of Cape Lannes, and Guichen Bay, a little to the south of Cape
Bernouilli, have more particularly drawn the attention of the local
Government, rendered necessary in consequence of the rapid settlement of
the back country. Recent surveys have enhanced the value of these two
bays, and townships have been laid out at each. That at Rivoli bay being
called Grey Town, that of Guichen bay Robe Town. At the latter, there is
a resident magistrate and a party of mounted police. Many allotments have
been sold in both towns, and although the bays offer but little
protection to large vessels, they are of great importance to the colonial
trade and to the settlers occupying the beautiful and fertile country in
the neighbourhood of Mounts Gambier and Shanck. From Cape Morard des
Galles, a low dreary and sandy beach extends for five leagues beyond the
sea mouth of the Murray, a distance of more than 100 miles. This beach,
which varies in breadth from one to three miles, conceals the waters of
the Coorong, and the depressed and barren country beyond it is completely
hid from view by the bright sand-hills on this long and narrow strip of
land.

The sea mouth of the Murray, famous for the tragical events that have
occurred near it, and which give a melancholy interest to the spot, is in
long. 138 degrees 56 minutes and in lat. 35 degrees 32 minutes. No one
could, I am sure, look on the foaming waters of that wild line of
sand-hills through which it has forced a channel, without deep feelings
of awe and emotion. Directly open to the Southern Ocean, the swell that
rolls into Encounter Bay, is of the heaviest description. The breakers
rise to the height of fifteen or eighteen feet before they burst in one
unbroken line as far as the eye can see, and as the southerly is the most
prevailing wind on that part of the Australian coast, it is only during
the summer season, and after several days of northerly wind that the sea
subsides, and the roar of breakers ceases for a time. The reader will
perhaps bear in mind that the channel of the Goolwa connects Lake
Victoria with Encounter Bay, the sea mouth of the Murray being the outlet
through which its waters are discharged into the ocean.

The channel of the Goolwa (now called Port Pullen, in compliment to an
officer of that name on the marine survey staff of the province, who
succeeded, after several disappointments, in taking a small cutter
through that narrow passage, and navigating her across the lake into the
Murray River, as high as the settlement of Moorundi) is to the westward
of the sea mouth as the Coorong is to the eastward. [Note 12. below]

[Note 12. The compliment thus paid to Mr. Pullen, who is now employed on
the expedition to the North Pole, in search of Sir John Franklin, by Col.
Gawler, the then Governor, was well merited, as a reward for the
perseverance and patience he had shewn on the occasion--for those only
who have been at the spot can form an idea of the disturbed and doubtful
character of the place, and the risk there must have been in the attempt
to enter such a passage for the first time.]

But although Mr. Pullen succeeded in getting into the Goolwa, it was only
under the most favourable circumstances, nor will the sea mouth of the
Murray ever, I fear, be available for navigable purposes. How far it may
be practicable to steamers, I would not hazard an opinion, nor is the
subject at the present moment one of much importance, for the country to
the eastward of the ranges is not yet sufficiently located to call for
such a speculation.

The sea mouth of the Murray is about the third of a mile in breadth, and
when the river is flooded a strong current runs out of it with such
rapidity, that the tide setting in at the same time causes a short and
bubbling sea. It took Captain Barker nine minutes and fifty-eight seconds
to swim across it on the fatal occasion on which he lost his life--but
he was obliged to go somewhat above the outlet, as the stream would
otherwise have carried him amidst the breakers. The western shore is very
low, but the eastern one is marked by a large sandhill, now called
Barker's Knoll, after that talented and amiable officer. From seaward,
nothing but a wild line of sand-hills meets the view, such as few
mariners would venture to approach, and through which fewer still could
hope to find a passage into the calmer waters of Lake Victoria, so
completely hidden is the entrance. It was only by patient watching
indeed, that Mr. Pullen seized the opportunity by which he entered the
Goolwa. He was not the first, however, who did so, as Captain Gill, the
master of a small cutter that was unfortunately wrecked on the strand at
some distance to the eastward of the outlet, was the first to come down
the Coorong in his boat, in which he ultimately reached Victor Harbour,
but he also had to remain three weeks under the sand-hills before he
could venture forth. Some years prior to this, however, Sir John
Jeffcott, the first judge of South Australia, and Captain Blenkensorf,
the head of the fishery, both found a watery grave in attempting to pass
from the Goolwa into Encounter Bay.

I speak more particularly on the point, however, because, in 1838, during
my first visit to the province, I went with a party of hardy seamen, with
the intention, if possible, of passing into the Goolwa from seaward. At
Encounter Bay, Captain Hart, who had the superintendence of the fishery
there, gave me his most experienced steersman, and a strong whale-boat.
In this I left Victor harbour for Freeman's Nob, a small rocky point in
the very bight of Encounter Bay, where I remained until three a.m. of the
next morning, when I started for the outlet under the most favourable
auspices. A northerly wind had been blowing off the land for several
days, and the sea was so tranquil that I had every hope of success. I had
five leagues to pull, and keeping about a mile from the shore, swept
rapidly along it. We were still about four miles from the inlet when the
sun rose over it, as if encouraging us onwards. On approaching it at low
water, I tried in vain to enter. The sea was breaking heavily right
across the entrance from one side to the other, and after several
ineffectual attempts to run in, I came to an anchor, close to the outer
line of breakers, hoping that the sea would subside at high water and
that we should then have less difficulty. We had not, however, been in
this position more than half an hour, when a heavy southerly swell set
in; from a deep blue the water became green, and the wind suddenly flew
round to the S.W. Before we could weigh and stand out from the shore,
several seas had broken outside of us, and in less than ten minutes the
whole coast, to the distance of more than a mile from the shore, was
white with foam, and it seemed clear that a gale was coming on. Under
these circumstances I determined on returning to the little harbour from
which we had started in the morning, but the wind being directly against
us, we made very little head. "We shall never get to the Nob," said Mr.
Witch, who had the steer oar, to me; "it blows too hard, Sir." "What are
we to do, then?" said I. "Why, Sir," he replied, "we must either beach or
run out to sea," "We will beach, then," I said; "it is better to try that
than to do any thing else." Mr Witch evinced some surprise at my
decision, but made no remark. "You had better select your place," I
observed, "and be careful to keep the boat's head well on to the seas."
"You need not fear me, Sir," said the hardy seaman; "I am accustomed to
such work. It looks worse than it really is." The sea, however, was now
breaking full a mile and a half from the shore, and in looking towards it
I observed a solitary horseman riding slowly along, as if watching our
movements. At length Mr. Witch said that he thought we were opposite to a
favourable spot, on which I directed him to put the boat's head towards
the shore, and to keep her end on as he went in. Round we flew, and in a
moment after we were running at railway speed on the top of a heavy wave.
"Steady, men," said Mr. Witch: "Steady all," and on we went; but looking
round him a moment after--"Back, all. Back, all," he cried. The men did
as they were ordered, and the boat's way was stopped. Her stern rose
almost perpendicularly over the prow, and the next moment fell into the
trough of the sea. The wave, transparent as bottle glass, rushed past us,
and topping, as it is called, burst at our very bow, in a broad sheet of
foam. "Give way, my lads," was the next order of the watchful steersman,
as he again cast his eyes behind him. "Give way, my lads. Give way, all."
"Steady, men," he called, as if doubtful of the result of the coming
wave. I thought I saw paleness on the face of the rowers, but they pulled
regularly and well, and a thundering sound soon told us we had escaped
the threatening sea that had come so rapidly up. I do not know if I am
doing justice to the occurrence. There was more of apparent than real
danger in it, and I myself was less nervous, because I had not long
before been accustomed to the heavy surf of Norfolk Island. It was,
however, a moment of great excitement. We had literally shot towards the
shore, and were now within fifty yards of it, when Mr. Witch said to me,
"Take care of yourself, Sir; we shall catch it at last."

I turned round, and saw a large roller close upon us, just on the point
of topping--I had scarcely time to stoop and give my back to it when it
came upon us, and I never had such a thump in my life. The boat was
filled in a moment and we were all thrown out--Mr. Witch, who had been
standing, was hurled to a great distance, but the men were up in a
moment, the water being about four feet deep, and with admirable
dexterity ran her on the beach. I do not remember ever having been in so
strong a breeze. The reader may form some idea of it when I assure him
that the wind rolled the boat over and over as if she had been as light
as a carpenter's chip, and the sand and pebbles came with such violence
in our faces, that we were obliged to retreat behind the sand hills until
it moderated.

It was my friend Mr. Strangways who had accompanied me from Adelaide,
whose figure we had seen on the beach, and he assured me that we seemed
to fly as we approached him.

The wind having apparently flown permanently round to the south, and it
being hopeless to expect that the sea would subside for many days, I
hauled the boat over the sand hills, and launching her in the Goolwa,
tried to row through the outlet to sea, but after remaining for eight
days, and having my boat four times swamped, I was forced to give up the
attempt as I had no time to spare. The distance between my outer and
inner points might have been a cable's length. In endeavouring to pass
out I shoaled to a quarter less one, having kept the lead constantly
going. I abandoned the task therefore under an impression that the outlet
was not navigable, yet Mr. Pullen succeeded in taking a small cutter into
the Goolwa with perfect safety. I cannot but conclude therefore that it
has a shifting bar, and that it will present difficulties to regular
navigation that will only be surmounted by a better knowledge of its
locality, and in all probability by artificial means.

From Freeman's Nob the coast line turns southwards to Rosetta Head, a
bold and prominent conical hill, from the summit of which the whalers
look for their game. Under the lea of Rosetta Head there is a small
harbour called Rosetta Harbour. It is separated by a rocky island called
Granite Island, and a reef that is visible at low water, and connects
Granite Island with the main land from Victor Harbour, so called after
H.M.'s ship Victor, when surveying in that quarter. Neither of these
harbours however are considered secure, although they are protected from
all but south-east winds.

It was in Rosetta Harbour, that during the early settlement of the Colony
the South Australian Company's ship South Australian, was driven on shore
and lost. The John Pirie, a strongly built schooner, also belonging to
the Company, had well nigh shared her fate. This little vessel was lying
astern of the Australian when she went ashore, with the reef close astern
of her. In this fearful position her anchors began to drag, and her
destruction appeared inevitable, when her commander, Captain Martin,
determined on attempting to take her over the reef, it being high water
at the time. He accordingly cut his cable, set his sails, and ran his
vessel on the rocks. Four times she struck and was heaved as often over
them, until at length she floated in the deeper water of Victor Harbour,
and found her safety under the lea of the very danger from which she
expected destruction. It was a bold resolve and deserved the success that
attended it. I always feel a pleasure in recording such events, not only
from feelings of admiration, but because they are examples for men to
follow when placed in equally hazardous circumstances, and shew that
firmness and presence of mind are equal to almost every emergency. The
anchorage in Victor Harbour is under the lea of Granite Island, but I
believe it is foul and rocky, and until both it and Rosetta Harbour shall
be better known, the seaman will enter them with caution. Encounter Bay
indeed, is not a place into which the stranger should venture, as he
would find it extremely difficult to beat out to sea with a contrary
wind. Still no doubt vessels may find refuge at these places from strong
west and south-west winds, but I have always understood that it is better
for a ship encountering a gale at the entrance of Backstairs Passage
rather to keep at sea, than seek shelter in any contiguous harbour.

There is room for two or three tolerably sized vessels in Victor Harbour,
which is in longitude 138 {188 in published text} degrees 38 minutes 0
seconds and in latitude 35 degrees 32 minutes, and in certain seasons of
the year it may be deemed secure, if it were not liable to other
objections, but I have heard it stated by an experienced seaman,
one whose intimate knowledge of this part of the coast of South
Australia is indisputable, that there is anchorage under the lea of
Freeman's Nob, and a small island off it, sufficient for two or
three vessels of 250 or 300 tons, altogether preferable to either
of those I have mentioned, as being more sheltered, and having better
holding ground--but we must not forget that it is deeper in the bay,
and there would consequently be a greater difficulty in beating out;
but the truth is that the importance and capabilities of these
harbours will only be developed as the wants of the colonists
render it necessary for them to have ports in this vicinity. When the
country to the eastward of the mountains shall be more thickly peopled,
and when the rich and fertile valleys of the Inman, the Hindmarsh and
Currency Creek, and the available country between the two last, be more
generally cultivated, and when the mines at the Reedy Creek and other
places are at full work, the want of a harbour at Encounter Bay will be
sufficiently apparent.

The principal whale fishery on the coast of South Australia is in
Encounter Bay, and has, I believe, of late years proved as advantageous a
speculation to those who have carried it on as could be expected; profits
are of course dependent on contingencies, as the nature of the season and
the number of whales that may visit the coast: but the fishery at
Encounter Bay has certainly been as successful as any other on the coast,
and would have been more so if the ground had not been intruded upon. As
a source of colonial industry, and as a proof of commercial enterprise, I
should regret to see this bold and hardy occupation abandoned. See
Appendix.

From Rosetta Head the line of coast again trends for a short distance to
the west, and forms, together with the opposite shore of Kangaroo Island,
the Backstairs Passage, or eastern entrance into St. Vincent's Gulf, of
which Cape Jervis is the N.W. point. It is here that the more important
navigation of the South Australian seas commences. The line of coast I
have already described is not sufficiently known to be approached by the
stranger without caution, nevertheless the several bays and harbours I
have mentioned may offer better shelter and greater convenience than I am
able to point out.

One of the first establishments, if not the very first, of the South
Australian Company was on Kangaroo Island, on the shores of Nepean Bay.
Here the town of Kingscote was laid out, and some very good houses built,
which are now falling to dilapidation and decay, since it has been
abandoned by the Company's servants for some years. Nevertheless
Kingscote is a very pretty sea-port town, and the harbour is undoubtedly
good. The bay is large enough to hold a number of ships, and is secure
from all winds, being almost completely land-locked. The water inside
moreover is smooth, since the bay is protected by a long spit of sand,
whereby the roughness of the outer sea does not affect it, and vessels
consequently lie there during heavy weather without any apparent motion.
It is to be regretted, that, with such advantages, Kingscote Harbour
should have any drawback, but when we have given credit for its
capabilities as a harbour, we have done all, and even as a harbour,
sailors are divided in opinion, whether or not American River, or a small
bay, five miles to the south-east of it, are not to be preferred. In
Nepean Bay there is a deficiency of water, which is not the case in
either of the last mentioned places. The soil is equally good in the
neighbourhood of all three, but Kingscote having been occupied, the
ground has been cleared of the dense brush that grew on it in a state of
nature, and some of the most productive gardens in the Province are to be
found there. It is astonishing what quantities of the finest onions are
sent from Kingscote, with other produce, to Adelaide. The island is,
however, so generally and so heavily covered with brushwood, that
although the soil is good in many places, it has been found impracticable
to clear. On the general character of Kangaroo Island, I would observe,
that, from the reports of those best acquainted with it, nine-tenths of
the surface is covered with dwarf gum-trees, or heavy low brush, that
there are no plains of any consequence, no harbours excepting those I
have already mentioned,--that water is generally scarce, and the best
land is most heavily wooded and perfectly impenetrable; but, if it is
thus useless and unavailable for pastoral and agricultural purposes,
Kingscote, being so short a distance from Adelaide, holds out every
inducement as a watering-place to those who, desiring change of air and
sea-bathing, would wish to leave the heated neighbourhood of the capital
during the summer months. It is a disadvantage to them that there are few
places on the shores of St. Vincent's Gulf, on which bathing places could
be established, but the change of air at Kingscote would be as great a
benefit as sea-bathing itself, for hot winds are not felt there, but a
cool and refreshing breeze is almost constantly blowing. As a
watering-place therefore, it may, one day or other, be of importance,
when the convenience of steam-boats shall render the passage from
Adelaide to Kangaroo Island, like a trip across the Channel. But it is to
be observed that whatever disadvantages the island may possess, its
natural position is of the highest importance, since it lies as a
breakwater at the bottom of St. Vincent's Gulf, and prevents the effects
of the heavy southerly seas from being felt in it. There is, perhaps, no
gulf, whether it is entered by the eastern or western passage, the
navigation of which is so easy as that of St. Vincent, and so clear of
dangers, that it can only be by the most fortuitous circumstances, or the
most culpable neglect, that any accident can befal a ship in its passage
up to Adelaide.

Anxious to make this portion of my work as useful as possible, and
feeling assured that the remarks I have hitherto made will only lead the
seaman to adopt those measures of precaution in approaching any of the
harbours and bays I have mentioned, our knowledge of which is still
limited, I shall here quote a passage from a small book of Sailing
Instructions for South Australia, published some years ago by Captain
Lee, an experienced mariner, for the guidance of commanders of vessels
bound to Port Adelaide. I shall only observe that, in running up the Gulf
it is extremely difficult to recognise the peak of Mount Lofty; but a
pile of stones has been erected upon it, which is easily visible through
a good telescope, and that the pilot station spoken of by Captain Lee as
being five miles from Glenelg has been abandoned, and the pilots now
board ships from the light vessel moored off the bar.

"Vessels from England bound to Port Adelaide, should, after leaving the
Cape of Good Hope, run to the eastward in 37 degrees or 38 degrees south
latitude, until they arrive in longitude 132 degrees east, when they may
haul to the northward, so as to get into latitude 36 degrees 25 minutes,
in longitude 135 degrees 30 minutes; then steer to the north-east, and
make Kangaroo Island, passing between which and a small island named
Althorpe's Island, they will enter Investigator's Straits. These Straits
form the western entrance to St Vincent's Gulf, and are so free from
danger, that it seems almost wonderful how any vessel can get on shore
without gross negligence. The only danger that can possibly affect a
vessel is the Troubridge Shoal, and this, by a little attention to the
lead, may be easily avoided, as on the south side of the shoal the water
deepens gradually from four to seventeen or eighteen fathoms. The shores
on the side of Kangaroo Island are bold and rocky, whilst on the north
side, on Yorke's Peninsula, they are low and sandy. In working up in the
night, stand no nearer to the north shore than nine fathoms, or to the
southward than twelve fathoms. You will have from sixteen to twenty
fathoms in the fair way--fine grey sand, mixed with small pieces of
shell. In working up St. Vincent's Gulf, you may stand to the eastward in
six fathoms, and towards the Troubridge Shoal in nine fathoms. The
prevailing winds are from the south-west to south-east, especially in the
summer months, when the sea breeze sets in about nine o'clock. The
strength of tide in the Gulf is very irregular, with a strong south-west
wind, the flood runs up at the rate of about two miles an hour, whilst
with a northerly wind it is scarcely perceptible. The anchorage in
Holdfast Bay is hardly safe in the winter months, as it is quite open to
north-west, west, and south-west winds, which, when blowing hard, raise a
short tumbling sea. The ground is a fine sand, almost covered with weeds,
so that when the anchor once starts, the weeds being raked up under the
crown, will in a great measure prevent its again holding. In the summer
months it may be considered a perfectly safe anchorage, if due caution is
exercised in giving the vessel cable in time. The best anchorage for a
large vessel is with the summit of Mount Lofty, bearing east in six
fathoms. A small vessel will lay better close in, just allowing her depth
of water sufficient to ride in.

"The pilot station for Port Adelaide is about five miles north of
Holdfast Bay. In running up keep in five fathoms, until abreast of the
flag-staff on the beach, when a pilot will come on board. It is always
high water in Port Adelaide morning and evening, and consequently low
water in the middle of the day. In the present state of the harbour, no
vessel drawing more than sixteen feet water ought to go into the port.
Several very serious accidents have befallen vessels in this port, for
which the harbour itself ought certainly to be held blameless."

"Vessels," he adds, "from Sydney, or from the eastward, bound to Port
Adelaide, having arrived at Cape Howe, should shape a course for Hogan's
Group in Bass' Straits, when off which, with a northerly wind, the best
passage through the Straits is between Redondo and Wilson's Promontory,
because should a gale of wind come on from the north-west, as it almost
invariably does commence in that quarter, they would have more drift to
the south-east than if they passed through near Kent's Group or Sir R.
Curtis's Island. It is also a great saving in distance. Having arrived
off King's Island, with a north wind, stand well out to the west or
south-west, so as to keep well to the southward of Cape Northumberland,
as the heavy gales from the north-west seldom last more than forty-eight
hours, when they veer to the south-west, and fine weather ensues. Being
abreast of Cape Northumberland, a south-west wind will be a favourable
wind to proceed to Adelaide. Steer directly for the east end of Kangaroo
Island, which you may pass at a distance of one mile; and if the wind is
from the south or south-east, you may then steer across Backstairs
Passage to Cape Jarvis; having arrived off which, proceed as directed
before: should the wind be strong from south-west or west-south-west,
keep Kangaroo Island close on board until abreast of Cape Jarvis, when
you will have the Gulf open. Should it be night time or thick weather,
and you have sighted Cape Willoughby at the entrance after passing that
Cape, steer north-west fifteen miles, and you may lay to or run up
north-east by east under snug sail until daylight. There are four rocks
at the entrance of this passage, called the Pages; with a beating wind,
you may pass on either side of them, but with a leading wind there is no
necessity to approach them at all, as it is best to pass close round Cape
Willoughby. Should the wind be so strong that a vessel could not carry
sufficient canvas to fetch through the passage, it would be better for a
stranger to stand out to the southward, rather than attempt to run into
Encounter Bay. The anchorage in Encounter Bay is close round Granite
Island, where a vessel may lay sheltered from all winds, save from
south-east. There are several good anchorages where a vessel may run to,
should she be caught in a gale of wind in Bass' Straits: one behind
Wilson's Promontory, the corner inlet of Flinders; another in Western
Port; two under King's Island, besides several on the Van Diemen's Land
side, as Circular Head, George Town, Preservation Island, &c., the whole
of which may be attained by a proper consideration of the chart; but it
is always better, provided a vessel has sufficient sea room, to keep at
sea than to run for an anchorage, as the sea will seldom hurt a good ship
properly managed, and she is always ready to take advantage of any change
that may take place.

"Should a gale of wind come on when a vessel is far to the westward of
King's Island, she may run for Portland Bay. In going in, you pass to the
eastward of the St. Lawrence Islands, and haul directly in for the land
west-north-west; keep along the south shore of the bay, at a distance of
one mile, until you see the flag-staff at Mr. Henty's; bring that to bear
west, and you will have six fathoms water about three-quarters of a mile
from shore."

From Cape Jarvis the coast line tends to the north along the eastern
shore of St. Vincent's Gulf. The scenery, as you turn the point, is
extremely diversified. Dark cliffs and small sandy bays, with grassy
slopes almost to the water's edge, succeed each other, backed by moderate
hills, sparingly covered with trees, and broken into numerous valleys.
Thus you pass Yankelilla, Rapid Bay, and Aldingis; but from Brighton the
shore becomes low and sandy, and is backed by sand hummocks, that conceal
the nearer country from the view, and enable you to see the tops of the
Mount Lofty Range at a distance of from eleven to twelve miles.

Port Adelaide, a bar harbour, is about nine miles from Glenelg, and
situate on the eastern bank of a large creek, penetrating the mangrove
swamp by which the shore of the Gulf is thereabouts fringed. This creek
is from ten to eleven miles in length. Its course for about two miles
after you cross the bar is nearly east and west, but at that distance it
turns to the south, and runs parallel to the coast; and there is an
advantage in the direction it thus takes, that would not be apparent to
the reader unless explained. It is, that, as the land breeze blows off
the shore in the evening, and the sea breeze sets in in the morning
vessels can leave the harbour, or run up to it as they are inward or
outward bound.

The landing-place of the early settlers was too high up the creek, and
was not only the cause of great inconvenience to the shipping, but of
severe loss in stores and baggage to the settlers; but at the close of
the year 1839, Mr. McLaren, the then manager of the South Australian
Company commenced and finished a road across the swamp to a section of
land belonging to his employers, that was situated much lower down the
creek, and on which the present Port now stands. The road, which is two
miles in length, cost the Company 12,000 pounds. It has, however, been
transferred to the local Government, in exchange for 12,000 acres of
land, that were considered equivalent to the sum it cost.

The removal of the Port to this place was undoubtedly a great public
benefit; and whatever perspective advantages might have influenced Mr.
McLaren on the occasion, he merited all due praise for having undertaken
such a work at a time when the Government itself was unable to do so.
Both the wharf and the warehouse belonging to the Company are very
creditable buildings, as is the Custom House and the line of sheds
erected by the Government; but the wharf attached to them is defective,
and liable to injury, from the chafing of the tide between the piers,
which are not placed so as to prevent its action. Mr. Phillips' iron
store is also one of a substantial description; but there was not, when I
left the province, another building of any material value at the Port.
Numerous wooden houses existed in the shape of inns, stables, etc.; but
the best of these were unfortunately burnt down by a fire a few days
before I embarked for Europe. Whether it is that a misgiving on the minds
of the public as to the permanency of the Port has been the cause of, and
prevented the erection of more substantial and better houses at Port
Adelaide, it is difficult to say; but any one might have foreseen, that
as the colony progressed, and its commerce increased, the Port would
necessarily have to be moved to some part of the creek where there was
deeper and broader water, for the convenience of the shipping. I felt
assured, indeed, that the removal of the Port would take place sooner
than was generally supposed. The following extract from the South
Australian Gazette of the 4th of December last, will prove that I judged
truly:--

"NEW ROAD TO THE NORTH ARM.--This road was commenced last Tuesday week;
and at the rate at which the work is progressing, will be completed
(except as regards the subsequent metalling and ballasting) within four
months from the present time. The line adopted is the one which was
proposed by Mr. Lindsay in 1840, as requiring less outlay in the original
construction than either of the other lines proposed. Taking Adelaide as
the starting point, the course will be either along the present Port Road
between Hindmarsh and Bowden as far as section No. 407, thence along the
cross track between that section and section No. 419 (preliminary), as
far as the southeast corner of Mr. Mildred's section, No. 421; then in a
straight line through the last named section and Mr. Gilles's, No. 2072,
after leaving which it passes through an opening in the sand-hills, and
then winds along the highest ground between the creeks, leaving the South
Australian Company's road about a mile on the left, till it joins the
main road or street running through section G. at the North Arm; or
through North Adelaide and along the road at the back of Bowden, parallel
with the main Port Road as far as Mr. Torrens' residence, to the
south-east corner of Mr. Mildred's section, thence through that section
as before. The soil of the so-termed swamp, or rather marsh, is of the
most favourable description for embanking and draining operations,
consisting at the part of the line where the work has been commenced, of
a good loam for the first spit, and then clay to the depth of eighteen
inches or two feet, resting upon a stratum composed for the most part of
shells of numberless shapes and sizes, which extends to the bottoms of
the drains (four feet), being the level of high water at spring tides,
and at about the same above the low-water level. The shelly stratum
continues below the bottoms of the drains to an uncertain depth. From the
commencement of the 'Swamp' to the Great Square or public reserve at the
junction of the North Arm with the main channel of the Creek, the
distance along the line of road is 4800 yards, or nearly two miles and
three-quarters. The breadth of the road between the ditches will be 114
feet, or between three and four times the breadth of the Company's road."

If there is anything more justly a subject of congratulation to the
Province than another, it is the commencement of the work thus notified.
The road is now, in all probability, finished, and that part of the creek
rendered available where these permanent improvements may be made,
without the fear of any future change; and when the shores of the North
Arm shall be lined by wharfs, and the more elevated portions of Torrens'
Island shall be covered with houses, few harbours will be able to boast
of more picturesque beauty. There was something dreary in sailing up the
creek with its dense and dark mangroves on either side, and no other
object visible beyond them save the distant mountains; but the approach
to the new Port will not fail to excite those pleasurable feelings in the
heart of the stranger which give a colouring to every other object.

The removal of the port to the proposed locality will bring it within
three miles of the bar, and will be of incalculable advantage to the
shipping, since there will no longer be any delay in their putting to
sea. The following letter, addressed by Captain Lipson, the
Harbour-master, to the Colonial Secretary, in reference to the
improvements that have been effected at the bar, will best explain its
present state, and the description of vessels it will admit into the
Port.


"Port, 6th July, 1847.

"SIR,--In answer to your letter of this day's date, requesting that I
would report to you, for the information of the Legislative Council, what
beneficial effects have been produced by the use of the mud barge in
deepening the bar at the entrance of Port Adelaide, since the
commencement of its operation, in the year 1845, up to the present date,
also what additional depth of water, if any, has been obtained by the
work alluded to.

"I have the honour to state, that at the commencement of the colony, her
Majesty's storeship 'Buffalo' was brought out by the then governor,
Captain Hindmarsh, to be detained here nine months for the protection and
convenience of the colonists. It was, therefore, much wished to have her
inside the bar; but after attending and carefully watching successive
spring-tides, it was given up as impracticable, she drawing fifteen feet.
The Governor then appointed a board to examine the bar, consisting of the
masters of the 'Buffalo,' 'John Renwick,' and another, who, in their
report, stated as their opinion, that no vessel above 300 tons ought to
be brought into the harbour; however, last week two vessels exceeding 600
tons have been brought up to the wharf. But the most beneficial effect is
now felt from a ship being able to cross the outer bar so much sooner on
the tide than before, thereby having sufficient time to take her round
the bar, and, if moderate, to beat up and anchor at the North Arm the
same tide. Ships may now be brought in on the springs in winter, drawing
seventeen or eighteen feet, as the time of high water is in the day, and
the wind generally fair to beat in, but not so in going out, from the
difficulty of reaching the bar at the time required, and the tide leaving
so quickly after the ebb is made great care is required; and I find it
unsafe to allow any vessel to load deeper than 15 or 16.6 inches at most.
With a tug, there would be less difficulty and danger in loading to 18
feet than there now is to 15.

"There is now three feet more water on the bar than there was previous to
its being deepened, and if the work be continued next summer, to enlarge
a cut which has been made, there will be five feet.

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

"THOMAS LIPSON, Harbour Master.
"The Honourable Colonial Secretary."

It is not clear to me, however, that the admission of larger class
shipping into the Port will be of any great advantage. I am led to
believe that ships of smaller tonnage than those drawing 16 to 17 feet,
have been found to be most convenient for the ordinary purposes of
commerce. However, it is evident, that if Captain Lipson continues the
same praiseworthy exertions he has hitherto used, he will deepen the bar
for vessels of any tonnage. Under existing circumstances, it may be as
well to state that any ship arriving off the bar when there is not
sufficient water on it for them to enter the port, will find good
anchorage all round the lightship, particularly a little to the westward
of it. The whole Gulf, indeed, from this point, may be considered as a
safe and extensive roadstead. As regards Port Adelaide itself, I cannot
imagine a securer or a more convenient harbour. Without having any broad
expanse of water, it is of sufficient width for vessels to lie there in
perfect safety, whether as regards the wind or the anchorage.

The head of St. Vincent's Gulf is in latitude 34 1/2 degrees. Between
that point and Port Adelaide, the shore is either lined by mangroves, or
is low and sandy. There are, nevertheless, several inlets similar to, but
much smaller than Port Adelaide, and other commodious anchorages for
small craft along it. The principal of these is the inlet connected with
the Gawler, of which I shall hereafter speak. York Peninsula forms the
western shore of St. Vincent's Gulf, and separates it from that of
Spencer. It is a long, low tongue of land--Cape Spencer, its southern
extremity, being in 35 degrees 17 minutes, and in long. 136 degrees 52
minutes. Though embracing a considerable area, the character of the
Peninsula is unfavourable to the growth of nutritive herbage; the surface
soil is a species of calcareous limestone, the rock formation of a
tertiary description, although, at the lower extremity, granite and trap
rock are known to exist. The surface of the country is undulating,
covered in many places by scrub, and the trees being very short-lived,
the whole is matted with dead timber, and difficult of access. A
deficiency of water renders York Peninsula still more unfavourable for
location; nevertheless, several sections of land have been purchased on
that part which is immediately opposite to Port Adelaide, and it is said
that indications of copper have been found there, a fact I should be
inclined to doubt. In 1840, a company applied for a special survey on the
shores of the Peninsula to the southward of Point Pearce, and gave the
name of Victoria Harbour to the locality; but the survey was subsequently
abandoned in consequence of the unfavourable character of the interior,
from the great deficiency of water.

If we except the results of a survey made by the late Lieut.-Governor,
Colonel Robe, of the upper part of Spencer's Gulf, during which, as is
the case in the same part of the neighbouring gulf, his Excellency found
convenient bays and inlets, but little is known of the eastern shore of
that splendid gulf, beyond this point. Double the size of St. Vincent's
Gulf, it runs up to the 32 1/2 parallel, and was at one time or other
very probably connected with Lake Torrens. The higher part is backed by a
range of mountains, the more prominent of which were named by Captain
Flinders--Mount Remarkable, Mount Browne, and Mount Arden. On the first
of these there were so many indications of copper, that a special survey
of 20,000 acres was taken by a company for the purpose of working any
lodes that might be found. The country round about Mount Remarkable is
stated to be exceedingly picturesque and good; so that independently of
any value it may possess as a mineral survey, it possesses both
agricultural and pastoral advantages. After passing the Mount Remarkable
Range, however, the country falls off in character. A dreary region
extends round the head of the Gulf, and, it is to be feared, to a much
greater distance. The description given by Mr. Eyre, and the reports of
those who have endeavoured to penetrate to the westward of Lake Torrens
both agree as to the sterile and inhospitable character of the remote
interior. Little improvement takes place in it on following down the
western shore of the Gulf. Several individuals, indeed, have perished in
endeavouring to take stock round the head of the Gulf to Port Lincoln,
either from the want of water, or from having wandered and lost
themselves amidst the low brush with which it is covered. The whole of
the country, indeed, lying to the westward of Spencer's Gulf is, as far
as I have been able to ascertain, of very inferior description. There
are, it is true, isolated patches of good land, and a limited run for
sheep, but the character of the country corresponds but little with the
noble feature for which Spencer's Gulf is so justly celebrated. In
reference to this magnificent basin, Captain Lee, from whom I have
already quoted, observes--

"The harbour of Port Lincoln, including Boston Bay, is situated near the
extremity of the Peninsula, which forms the west side of Spencer's Gulf
in the Province of South Australia, and from its great extent, and the
number of its safe anchorages, is capable of containing the largest
fleets, and as a depot, is not, perhaps, to be surpassed by any port in
the world. Vessels from England, bound to Port Lincoln, should run along
in about 35 degrees 20 minutes south latitude, until they arrive in 135
degrees 20 minutes east longitude, when they may haul up to the
north-east, and make Cape Catastrophe. After arriving near the Cape, they
may then shape a course to pass between it and Williams' Island. There
are strong tide ripplings here, which, to a stranger, would present the
appearance of reefs; but as the channel is perfectly clear, no danger
need be apprehended. Having passed through the channel, should night be
approaching, it would be advisable for a stranger to keep the main land
aboard, leaving another Island (Smith's Island), on the starboard hand,
and bring up in Memory Cove, a perfectly safe anchorage, in about five
fathoms, and wait for day-light. Proceeding then along shore to the
northward, he will arrive at Taylor's Island, which may be passed on
either side; after which he may run along shore at a distance of one
mile, until he arrives at Cape Donnington. This Cape may be known by its
having a small islet laying about half a mile from the point. Rounding
this islet, at half a cable's length, in about nine-fathoms' water, and
hauling to the westward, he will open the magnificent harbour of Port
Lincoln, stretching to the south-west as far as the eye can reach. Should
the wind be fresh from the south or south-west, it would be better if
bound to Boston Bay, to beat up between Boston Island and the promontory
of Cape Donnington. The shores are steep on both sides, so that a vessel
may stand close in on either tack. Should the wind be so strong as to
prevent a vessel beating in, she may run up under easy sail to a bay on
the north-east end of Boston Island, and bring up in seven fathoms
opposite a white sandy beach, three-quarters of a mile off shore. There
is also excellent anchorage at the entrance to Spalding Cove, bringing
the western point of the promontory of Cape Donnington to bear north by
east, and the northernmost of Bicker's Island west by north, you will lay
in seven fathoms, muddy bottom. Having arrived at Bicker's Island and
bound for Boston Bay, stand directly over to the westward, passing the
south end of Boston Island, until you open the bay, when you may choose a
berth according to circumstances, and in any depth from ten to four
fathoms.

"The positions of the various points and islands are so correctly laid
down on Flinders' chart, that the skilful navigator will at once know his
exact situation by cross-bearings.

"The anchorage in Port Lincoln itself is not so safe as in Boston Bay,
and more difficult of access, especially in the winter months, when the
winds are strong from the south-west, and in the summer months it is
quite open to the north-east. In working up, a vessel may stand close in
to the eastern shore, and to within half a mile of the western, but
should not attempt to pass between the two Bicker's Islands, as there is
a reef running from the northernmost island nearly across to the other.

"Vessels from Adelaide, bound to Boston Bay, after arriving at Althorpe's
Island, should shape a course so as to pass between the Gambier Islands
and Thistle's Islands. There is a small island bearing west five miles
from the south end of Wedge Island, the largest of the Gambier group,
which is not laid down in Flinders, which should be left on the starboard
hand. Bring the highest part of Thistle's Island to bear west, distant
about six miles, and in twenty-two fathoms water, and a north-west
half-west course will carry you through midway between the Horse-shoe
Reef and the rocks which lay off the north-west end of Thistle's Island,
and in the direct track for Cape Donnington. The passage between the
reefs is about three miles wide, and ought not to be attempted in the
night, as the tides set directly across the channel. There is very good
anchorage on the north-east side of Thistle's Island, well sheltered
three-fourths of the year. Bring the rocks before-mentioned to bear
north-north-west, and two remarkable sand hills south by west, and you
will lay in five fathoms, one mile off shore--north end Thistle's Island
west by south. Should the wind be so strong from southwest or
west-south-west, so that a vessel from the eastward cannot carry sail
sufficient to fetch up to Cape Donnington, or under Thistle's Island, it
would be advisable to bear up for Hardwick Bay; passing to the eastward
of Wedge Island, come no nearer to the shore of York's Peninsula than two
miles, until you arrive within five miles of Corny Point, when you may
haul in for that point, rounding it a distance of half a mile, you may
bring up in five fathoms, one mile from shore: Corny Point bearing west.
Vessels from Sydney, bound to Port Lincoln, may pass through Backstairs
Passage, and proceed according to the foregoing directions, or by keeping
well to the southward, pass outside Kangaroo Island, until they arrive in
longitude 136 degrees E., when they may shape a course either to pass
between Gambier's and Thistle's Islands, or else for Cape Catastrophe,
taking care to give the Neptune Islands a wide berth, and then proceed
according to either of the foregoing directions."

To this extract which refers exclusively to the navigation of Spencer's
Gulf, I may add, that Boston Island lies immediately opposite to the bay,
and that there are two channels of entrance round the island, through
which vessels of the largest size can pass with any wind or in any
weather, for the harbour is so sheltered by the headlands forming the
entrance, that the swell of the sea is broken before reaching it.

The high ground which almost surrounds Boston Bay, protects it in like
manner from the winds, more especially those coming from the west and
southwest, in which directions some of the hills attain the height of
several hundred feet.

The depth of water in the central parts of the Bay is about twelve
fathoms, varying from five to seven at the distance of less than a
quarter of a mile from the shore all round; whilst at Boston Point, where
the town of Boston has been laid out, there is a depth of two, three, and
four fathoms, at about a boat's length from the land. The bottom consists
in some places of mud, in others of shells and sand, so that the
anchorage is safe.

The tide sometimes rises seven feet, but that is considered a high tide,
the ordinary rise not being more than five; this depends, however, on the
outward state of the Gulf, and the quarter from which the wind may happen
to be blowing.

In the summer season, the land and sea breezes blow very regularly, for
three weeks or a month at a time. They are then succeeded by strong winds
from the south-west, that last for three or four days, and are sometimes
very violent. In winter these interruptions to the usual calm state of
the weather are more frequent, but the harbour is little influenced by
them; taking it altogether, indeed, as a harbour, it is unquestionably as
safe and commodious as any in the world, and it is deeply to be
regretted, that its position, of which I shall have to speak, and the
nature of the country behind it, should be any drawbacks to its becoming
one of the most important ports on the Australian Continent.

In the vicinity of Port Lincoln, the land is of very varied character. To
the west and south-west it is poor and scrubby, covered with a diminutive
growth of she oak (Casuarinae) or dwarf gumtrees (Eucalypti), or it is
wholly destitute of timber; but along the line of hills, stretching to
the north, at a short distance from the shores of the Gulf, there is an
improvement in the soil. The pasture is well adapted for sheep, and there
are isolated valleys in which the soil is very good and fit for
cultivation; but this kind of country only occupies a narrow strip of
about ten miles, and although tracts of available land have been found in
the interior, and it has been ascertained that water is not deficient, it
must still, I fear, be considered as a very inferior district. As regards
Port Lincoln itself, the inhabitants procure their water from a spring,
on the sea-shore, which is covered by every tide. This spring does not
appear to undergo any sensible diminution, even in the height of summer,
and is stated to be so copious, that it would yield a most abundant
supply.

It has been reported, that strong indications of the presence of copper
have been found in the neighbourhood of Port Lincoln, and this report may
be correct. The discovery of mines there, would at once raise the harbour
to importance, and make it the resort of shipping. Mines might be worked
at Port Lincoln with more advantage perhaps to the province, than where
they have been already in operation, for it admits of great doubt whether
the benefit from the distribution of wealth from mining speculations,
makes up for the interference of such speculations with other branches of
industry. Unless some local advantage, of the kind to which I have
alluded, should give this noble harbour an impulse however, it would
appear to have but little prospect of becoming a place of importance, for
although Spencer's Gulf penetrates so deep into the northern interior,
the country is altogether unprofitable, and although there is depth of
water sufficient for the largest ships to the very head of the Gulf, yet,
as far as our present knowledge extends, it is not probable that it will
be the outlet of any export produce. It is to be remembered, however,
that if there should be minerals in any abundance found on the Mount
Remarkable special survey--the ore must necessarily be shipped, from some
one of the little harbours examined by the Lieutenant-Governor during his
survey of that part of Spencer's Gulf--In such case, Port Lincoln will
be brought more immediately into notice.

From Port Lincoln, the shore of the Gulf still trends to the south, as
far as Cape Catastrophe, in lat. 35 degrees. It then turns with an
irregular outline to the N.N.W., and several bays succeed each other. The
first of these is Sleaford Bay, sometimes occupied as a whaling station,
but of no other importance. Coffin's Bay, almost immediately behind Port
Lincoln, is rather an inlet than a bay, and runs so far into the
interior, as to approach Boston Bay, to within 16 miles. Coffin's Bay is
exceedingly wide, and objectionable for many reasons, but as it is a
whaling station of some importance, and visited by numerous whalers, I
shall quote Captain Lee's remarks upon it, and give his directions for
going to it.


"This is a very large bay, perfectly secure from all winds, save from
north to east, but unfortunately a great portion of it is rendered
useless by the shallowness of the water. The best anchorage is with Point
Sir Isaac, bearing north-north-west, about one mile and a half from the
western shore in four or five fathoms. In working in with a southerly
wind, you may stand to the eastward until you bring the above point to
bear south-west by west, after which it would be better to make short
tacks along the western shore. You must be careful to keep the lead
going, as the water shoals from five and four fathoms to one and a half
at a single cast. This bay seems well adapted for a fishing station. The
inner part of the bay extends a long way back into the country, at least
thirty miles from Point Sir Isaac, and contains two or three secure
harbours and excellent anchorages, a new chart of which is in course of
publication.

"Vessels from Sydney bound to Coffin's Bay, should proceed as if bound to
Port Lincoln until arrived off the Neptune Islands, when they should
steer for Perforated Island, having passed which, steer for Point
Whidbey, giving it a berth of at least two miles. In running along shore
from Point Whidbey to Point Sir Isaac, come no nearer the shore than two
miles, until you get the latter point to bear east-south-east as the
rocks lay a long way from the shore. Having arrived at Point Sir Isaac
proceed as directed before.

"Althorp's Island is of moderate height, situated at the entrance of
Investigator's Straits; may be passed close to on the south side. Several
other islands and reefs lay between it and York's Peninsula, rendering
that passage highly dangerous.

"Wedge Island, one of the Gambier Group, may easily be known by its
wedge-like form, sloping from south-east to north-west. There are two
peaked rocks off the south-east end, one mile off shore, also a small
island, bearing west five miles from the south end, not laid down in
Flinders' charts.

"Thistle's Island, is low at each end but high in the middle, it lays in
a north-west and south-east direction. There are some rocks which lay off
the northern point about three miles, which being connected with the
island itself, forms a good anchorage behind, secure from all but north
and east winds, another good place for a fishing party. See Port Lincoln
directions.

"Neptune's Islands are low, three in number, and having numerous rocks
and reefs amongst them; ought not to be approached too closely, there
being generally a strong swell from the south-west, the sea breaks over
them with great violence.

"Liguanea Island is of moderate elevation, and may be passed on the south
side at a distance of two miles.

"Perforated Island, as its name imports, may be known by its having a
hole through it near the north end and close to the top of the island, it
may be passed close on any side. FOUR HUMMOCKS may easily be known from
their appearance answering to their name.

"Greenly Island, this is a peaked island, rather high, and may be seen
ten leagues off. There is another island laying south and by west, seven
miles, not laid down in Flinders', and two other reefs between them,
rendering the passage unsafe.

"Proceeding along shore to the northward you will fall in with Flinders'
Island. This is a large island, covered with wood, with plenty of fresh
water, possessing a secure anchorage on the northern side, and is
admirably adapted for a whaling station. In going on from the southward,
keep outside the top Gallant {GALL'S in published text} Island, and steer
directly for the north-east point, rounding which, you will open the
anchorage, and as there is no danger, but may be seen, you may choose
a berth according to circumstances.

"Waldegrave's Island, close to the main land, has good anchorage on the
northern side, secure from south-east and south-west winds.

"The shore, from Waldegrave's Island to Point Weyland is low and sandy.
There is a large body of water running in a direction parallel to the
coast, all the way from Point Weyland to the northward of Cape Radstock,
having an entrance at both points. It appears as if the action of the sea
from the south-west, had broken through the coast range and filled up the
valley immediately behind. Indeed the whole coast from Kangaroo Island to
as far to the north-west as has been visited by the author, bears evident
marks of the encroachments of the sea. In some places marked down as
small islands in Flinders', there are now only reefs, other places which
were formerly points of land, are transformed to islands."


In the year 1840, I was instructed by the then Governor of South
Australia, to send an officer of the survey in a small vessel, with a
supply of provisions for Mr. Eyre, who was at that time supposed to have
reached Fowler's Bay, during the first of his expeditions; I accordingly
selected Mr. John Cannan, in whose zeal and ability I had every
confidence. This officer left Port Adelaide the 9th September, 1840, with
instructions from me, in addition to the immediate object he had in view,
to survey such parts of the coast along which he was about to sail, as
had only been partially examined by Captain Flinders. Unfortunately it
was during the winter time, and the task I had assigned him would, I
knew, be attended with considerable risk in beating along that dangerous
and stormy coast. Mr. Cannan arrived at Streaky Bay on the 27th
September, but was disappointed in finding Mr. Eyre, or a letter he had
buried for him under Cape Bauer, he therefore proceeded to the
examination of the coast, as I had instructed him to do; and the
following extract from his report will not only enable the reader to
judge how he performed that service, but will give him the best
information as to the character of the several bays and inlets he
examined.


"I send you a chart of Streaky, Smoky, and Denial Bays, by which you will
be better able to judge of the capabilities of the harbours they contain,
than by any description I can give. I may mention however, that the
entrance to Smoky Bay, between the shoals of St. Peter's and Eyre's
Islands, is dangerous, for with any swell on the sea breaks right across.
In the inlet, on the west side of Denial Bay, there is a salt water creek
with two fathoms of water; and adjoining some high sand-hills, among
which we found fresh water by digging. Our vessel being the first, I
believe, that ever entered Smoky Bay, on finding an island at its
southern end, I named it after that enterprising traveller Mr. Eyre. I
also found an island and reef not laid down by Flinders, to the southern
of St. Francis Islands. There is also an island 10 miles west of the
rocky group of Whidbey's Isles, and about 12 miles from Greenly's Isles.
The captain of a French whaler also informed me, that a sunken rock lays
6 miles N.W., off Point Sir Isaac, on which the sea breaks in heavy
weather.

"The desert country surrounding these bays has been sufficiently
explored, and so correctly described by Mr. Eyre, as not to require to be
mentioned. The absence of any rise that can be called a hill, from Mount
Greenly to Mount Barren, the eternal limestone cliffs, the scarcity of
water and grass, surely prove this coast to be the most miserable in the
world, whilst the harbours are as good as could be wished for, and it
must be owing to the deficiency of charts, that whalers do not frequent
these bays, for there are generally two or three French or American
vessels in the neighbourhood during the season. I found no bones or
carcases of whales in Streaky, Denial, or Smoky Bays, but the shores of
Fowler's and Coffin's Bays, I found strewed with their remains. In the
latter place, Captain Rossiter, of the Mississippi shewed me his chart,
and told me there was no shelter for a vessel on this side of the Bight,
except at Fowler's Bay, and that was indifferent. The great extent of
smooth water at Denial and Streaky Bays, and a well of water on St.
Peter's, dug by a sealer who lived on it many months, afford more
advantages for fishing, and more especially to a shore party, than are to
be found any where else in the Province.

"From the general flatness of the country, it may be presumed that its
character does not alter for a great distance inland. I observed nothing
in the formation of the island, differing from the mainland, and I may
mention that the rocks of the isles of St. Francis presented the same
appearance as the Murray Cliffs."


It will appear from the above, that Mr. Cannan did not proceed farther to
the westward than Fowler's Bay, and that he did not therefore prolong his
survey to the western limits of the Colony, by a distance of about five
leagues, since the 132 degrees meridian falls on that coast a little to
the westward of Cape Adieu, and between 12 and 15 leagues from the bottom
of the Great Australian Bight.

Although some of the bays and harbours I have described in running along
its coast, are not so good as might be desired, yet it is evident that,
as a maritime country, South Australia is particularly favoured, not only
in having anchorage of the safest description, but also in possessing two
or three known harbours, capable of containing ships in any number or any
size, and as safe and capacious as any in the world. Looking indeed at
Port Adelaide, one cannot but admire its appropriate and convenient
position. Had such a harbour not existed there, the produce of that
fertile portion of the Province would hardly have been available to the
inhabitants in the shape of exports, so difficult would it have been to
have found another harbour of equal security, or of equal size, for the
commercial wants of the settlers. Added to this, it has the double
advantage of being close to the capital, being so easy of access, and in
so central a position, as to be able to communicate with the neighbouring
colonies with the greatest ease.

It will be remembered that I stated in the former part of my work, that
the remarkable wall forming the Great Australian Bight, was thrown up
simultaneously with the great fossil bed of the Murray.

As the principal object of the Expedition into Central Australia was to
ascertain the past and present structure of the Continent, I have been
led to allude to the subject again, in consequence of two or three
remarks in Mr. Cannan's letter, which has been quoted above, bearing
strongly upon it, and corroborative of the hypothesis I have entertained
as proving a striking uniformity in the rock formation of those two
localities. To those remarks I would beg to call the attention of my
readers. They will be found at the commencement and termination of the
last paragraph.




CHAPTER II.



PLAINS OF ADELAIDE--BRIDGES OVER THE TORRENS--SITE OF
ADELAIDE--GOVERNMENT HOUSE BUILDINGS AND
CHURCHES--SCHOOLS--POLICE--ROADS--THE GAWLER--BAROSSA RANGE--THE MURRAY
BELT--MOORUNDI--NATIVES ON THE MURRAY--DISTANT STOCK STATIONS--MOUNT
GAMBIER DISTRICT--ITS RICHNESS--ASCENT TO MOUNT LOFTY--MOUNT BARKER
DISTRICT--SCENE IN HINDMARSH VALLEY--PROPORTION OF SOIL IN THE
PROVINCE--PASTORAL AND AGRICULTURAL--PORT LINCOLN--CLIMATE OF SOUTH
AUSTRALIA--RANGE OF THE THERMOMETER--SALUBRITY.


Having, in the preceding chapter, run along the coast of South Australia,
and noticed such parts as have been sufficiently examined to justify our
observations, it remains for me to give an account of its interior
features, of its climate, soil, mineral, and other sources of wealth, and
lastly of its fitness as a colony for the peculiar habits of an English
population.

The city of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, stands on the
eastern shore of St. Vincent's Gulf, and is about six miles from the
coast. Any one landing either at the old or new port, and proceeding to
the capital for the first time, would perhaps be disappointed at the
description of country through which he would pass. It consists indeed of
extensive level plains, over the eastern extremity of which the Mount
Lofty Range is visible. They are bounded southwards by a line of trees,
marking the course of the river Torrens across them, but extend
northwards for many miles without any visible termination. Their monotony
however, is, at the present date, in some measure broken by belts of
wood, and the numerous cottages that have been built upon them, with
their adjoining corn-fields, have changed their aspect, and removed the
appearance of loneliness which they first exhibited. Still neither the
gloomy swamp over which the stranger has in the first instance to travel,
on landing at the Port--or the character of the plains themselves, are
calculated to raise his anticipations, as to the beauty or fertility of
the interior. The first town through which he will pass after leaving the
Port, is Albert Town, which has been laid out on the first available
ground near the swamp. When I left the colony in May last, several
tolerable buildings had been erected in Albert Town, but it was
nevertheless a wretched looking and straggling place, and will never
perhaps advance beyond its present state.

On his nearer approach to the capital the traveller will pass between the
villages of Boden and Hindmarsh, in both of which he will observe
numerous kilns of bricks. He will then enter on the Park Lands, by which
North and South Adelaide are separated from each other. On this land the
scene at once changes, and he will find himself riding through an open
forest, shading rich, alluvial, and grassy flats; and, strictly speaking,
will then be traversing the Valley of the Torrens. In May, 1847, there
were four bridges over that little river. The Company's bridge a little
above the city. The Frome bridge, a light wooden structure, built by the
sappers and miners, under the direction of Captain Frome, the
Surveyor-General, after whom it was called. The City bridge, constructed
of stone, but then incomplete, and a rude wooden bridge between Adelaide
and Hindmarsh, erected by an innkeeper, with a view of drawing the
traffic from the Port past his door. The City bridge, which was
undertaken by contract, promised to grace the approach to Adelaide, and
was intended to be the principal bridge to connect the north and south
portions of the city, as well as to form the chief line to the Port and
to the north. The occurrence of an unusual flood, however, in the latter
part of the year 1847 deprived the good citizens of Adelaide of these
necessary means of communication with the country on the right bank of
the Torrens, by the injury it did to them. The Company's bridge suffered
less than any other, but was so shaken as to be impassable for several
days. Aware, as I am, of the general character of the Australian streams,
and seeing no reason why the Torrens should differ from others, taking
into consideration, too, the reports of the natives as to the height to
which the river had been known to rise in former years, and the fact that
no rain had fallen since the establishment of the Colony to cause any
very great or sudden flood, it appeared to me, that the place selected
for the City bridge was too low. Ordinary floods so completely change the
channel of the river, and make such devastation in its bed, that it is
hardly to be recognised when the water subsides, so that unless the banks
are high, and the soil of which they may be composed stiff enough to
resist the impetuosity of the stream, I fear no bridge across the Torrens
will be permanently safe.

The position and ground chosen by the first Surveyor-General of South
Australia, as the site of its future capital is a remarkable instance of
the quick intelligence of that officer. For although he had but little
time to make his selection, a more intimate knowledge of the coast has
proved that no more eligible point could have been found. Fault has, I am
aware, been found with Colonel Light in this matter, but without just
grounds, I think, for in no other locality could the same quantity of
water have been found, or the same facility offered for the construction
of those reservoirs and other works so necessary to the health and
comfort of a large metropolis. A principal objection raised to the
situation of Adelaide is its distance from the Port, but that we must
remember is a disadvantage common to many other large and mercantile
cities. The Surveyor-General seems to have been fully aware of the
responsible duty that devolved upon him, and to have acted with great
judgment. Port Lincoln, indeed, is a splendid harbour, one with which
Port Adelaide, as far as size goes, cannot be compared, but having said
this nothing farther can be advanced in its favour, for it is not only
deficient in its supply of water, but the contiguous country is far from
rich, whereas Adelaide is backed by one of undoubted fertility.

Established where it is, the city of Adelaide stands on the summit of the
first elevated ground, between the coast and the mountain ranges.

It is separated, as the reader will have learnt, by the valley of the
Torrens, and occupies the northern and southern slopes and brows of the
hills on either side. The view to the westward from the more elevated
parts of the city commands the whole of the plains of Adelaide, and St.
Vincent's Gulf; to the eastward, it extends over the rich and dark wooded
valley of the river, the lighter wooded country at the base of the Mount
Lofty Range, and the peaks and elevations of that beautiful mountain
chain.

South Adelaide is on flat ground and twice the size of the northern part
of the town. It has also been more extensively built upon, and is the
established commercial division of the city. The Government House and all
the public buildings and offices are in South Adelaide, and the streets
in the vicinity of the North Terrace, have assumed a regularity and
uniformity greater than any street in North Adelaide. Hindley and Rundle
streets, indeed, would do no discredit to any secondary town in England.
Every shop and store that is now built is of a substantial and ornamental
character, and those general improvements are being made which are the
best proofs of increasing prosperity and opulence.

There is scarcely any article of European produce that cannot be obtained
in Adelaide, at a very little advance on home prices, nor is it
necessary, or indeed advisable that Emigrants should overload themselves
in going out to any of the Australian Colonies. Experience, the best
monitor, leads me to give this advice, which, however, I am bound to say,
I did not adopt when I went out to New South Wales; but the consequence
was, that I purchased a great many things with which I could have
dispensed, and that I should have found the money they cost much more
useful than they proved.

King William Street divides Hindley from Rundle Street, and is
immediately opposite to the gate of Government House, which is built on a
portion of the Park lands, and is like a country gentleman's house in
England. It stands in an enclosure of about eight or ten acres; the
grounds are neatly kept, and there is a shrubbery rapidly growing up
around the House.

The Public Offices are at the corner of King William Street and Victoria
Square, facing into the latter. The building is somewhat low, but a
creditable edifice, to appearance at all events, although not large
enough for the wants of the public service.

I am not aware that there is any other public building worthy of
particular notice, if I except the gaol, which is a substantial erection
occupying the north-west angle of the Park land, but is too low in its
situation to be seen to advantage at any distance. Like Government House,
it was built with a view to future addition, but fortunately for the
colony, Government House is the first which seems to call for completion.

The number of Episcopalian Churches in Adelaide is limited to two,
Trinity Church and St. John's. The former was originally built of wood,
and may be said to be coeval with the colony itself. It has of late
however been wholly built of stone, and under the active and praiseworthy
exertions of Mr. Farrell, the colonial chaplain, an excellent and
commodious school-room has been attached to it.

Trinity Church stands on the North Terrace, and is a prominent object as
you ascend from the Park lands. St. John's is situated on the East
Terrace at a greater distance, but it has a commanding view of the Mount
Lofty Range, and the intervening plains. Perhaps considering that the
city has not extended much in the direction of East Terrace, it may be a
little too far for public convenience, but this is a question that admits
of doubt. It is a neat and unostentatious brick building, at which the
Rev. Mr. Woodcock performs service, whose exertions amongst the natives
in the West Indies have stamped him both as a christian and a
philanthropist. The two churches are calculated to hold about 1000
sittings, and the average attendance is about 900.

It may appear to the reader that the number of churches in Adelaide,
where there is a population of between 8000 and 10,000 souls, is not
sufficient, as is the case. Ere this however, a third church, to be
called "Christ's Church," will have been erected in North Adelaide, where
such a place of worship was much required. 500 pounds had been subscribed
for the purpose in December last, and it was confidently anticipated that
the further contributions of the colonists would enable the committee to
commence and finish it. The arrival of the Bishop on the 24th of the
above month, of which accounts have been received had given great
satisfaction, and his Lordship was to begin his useful ministry on the
following day (Christmas Day), by preaching at Trinity Church.

However few the Episcopalian churches in the capital of South Australia,
we cannot accuse the Dissenters of a similar want of places of public
worship, of which there are 9, the whole number throughout the province
being 31; whilst the number of churches is 6. The Congregational chapels
are calculated to accomodate 4700 communicants, the average attendance
being about 2300, and are, generally speaking, good looking and
ornamental buildings, and do no discredit to those who superintended
their erection, and approved the places.

There is a Roman Catholic Bishop of South Australia, but he had, during
the latter period of my residence in the province, been absent in Europe.
The Catholic Church stands on the West Terrace, and is, perhaps, in one
of the most healthy situations that could have been chosen. There is an
excellent school attached to the church, which is equally open to all
denominations of Christians, and is, I have understood, more numerously
attended than any other in the capital. The total number of
Sunday-schools in the province, in 1841, was 26, at which 617 boys and
582 girls attended. The average number of Sunday and other schools in
1845 was 55, at which 780 males and 670 female children attended.

In the year 1846, when His Excellency Colonel Robe laid the estimates on
the table of the Legislative Council, its attention was drawn to the
state of education and religion in the province, and after a long
discussion on the subject, a grant of 2s. per head was voted to the
different sects in aid of religion and education. It was left to the
ministers of the Protestant Church, and to the proper officers of the
other persuasions to appropriate the sum received by each, according to
the last census, as they deemed best, for the promotion of one or the
other of the above purposes, with the sole condition that they should
render an account yearly to the Council of the manner in which the
several sums had been appropriated. Yet this provision, which without
interfering in the slightest degree with any religious sect, gave to the
heads of each the greater power of doing good, caused very great
dissatisfaction. All I can say is, that it was an instance of liberal and
enlightened views of government, of which the Council of South Australia
in having set the example ought to be proud.

The Legislative Council of New South Wales has since, I believe, followed
its example, and I sincerely trust the good that is anticipated, will
result from this proof on the part of both Governments to raise the moral
and social character of the people.

In addition to the schools already noticed, there is a school for the
natives on the Park lands. At this school there were in 1847, thirty-five
boys and twenty-nine girls. The establishment being entirely under the
superintendence of the Government, is kept in the very best order; the
apartments are neat and clean, the master is patient and indulgent, and
if we could hope for any improvement in the moral and social habits of
the aborigines, it would be under circumstances so promising, but as I
propose, in another place, to make some observations on the natives
generally, it may not be necessary for me to add to the above remarks at
the present moment.

Of other public buildings not under the immediate controul of the
Government, the Bank of South Australia is certainly the first. It stands
on the North Terrace and is a prominent and pleasing object from whatever
point of view it is seen. There are, however, several other very
creditable buildings in different parts of the city.

Had the city of Adelaide been laid out in the first instance on a smaller
plan, it would now have been a compact and well-built town, but
unfortunately it was planned on too large a scale, and it will
necessarily have a straggling appearance for many years to come.

North and South Adelaide are, as I have already stated, separated from
each other by the valley of the Torrens, than which nothing can be
prettier. Its grassy flats are shaded by beautiful and umbrageous trees,
and the scenery is such as one could not have expected in an unimproved
state. The valley of the Torrens is a portion of the Park lands which run
round the city to the breadth of half a mile. Nothing could have been
more judicious than the appropriation of this open space for the
amusement and convenience of the public, and for the establishment of
those museums and institutions which tend so much to direct the taste,
and promote the scientific improvement of a people.

Beyond the Park lands, the preliminary sections, of 134 acres each,
extend to a certain distance--many of which have been laid out into
smaller sections, and the city is surrounded by numerous villages, few of
which add to its appearance. This certainly may be said of Thebarton,
Hindmarsh, Boden, and several other villages, but those of Richmond, and
Kensington, embosomed in trees, and picturesque in scenery, bear a strong
resemblance to the quiet and secluded villages of England.

In Hindmarsh, Mr. Ridley, whose mechanical genius has been of such public
utility, and whose enterprise is so well known, has established his steam
flour-mill, which is the largest in the province. In addition to this,
the South Australian Company has a steam-mill at the upper bridge; there
are several of a smaller size in the city, and the total number of
flour-mills in the Colony, including wind and water mills is twenty-two.

This general description of the capital of South Australia will perhaps
suffice to shew its rapid growth during the eleven short years since the
first wooden dwelling was erected upon its site.

It may be necessary for me to state that its peace and order are
preserved by a body of police, whose vigilance and activity are as
creditable to them as their own good conduct and cleanliness of
appearance; and whilst the returns of the supreme court, and the general
unfrequency of crime, prove the moral character of the working classes
generally, the fewness of convictions for crimes of deeper shade amongst
that class of the population from whose habit of idleness and drinking we
should naturally look for a greater amount of crime, as undoubtedly
proves the vigilance of the police. From the return of convictions before
Mr. Cooper the Judge, it is clear that the majority of those who have
been brought before him are men who have already suffered for former
breach of the laws, and who, having escaped from the neighbouring
Colonies, have vainly endeavoured to break themselves of former evil
habits. The eyes of the police are however so steadily kept on such men,
that they have little chance of escaping detection if they commit
themselves, and they consequently level their aim at those who encourage
them in vice, and who, in reality, are little better than themselves in
morals, as knowing that, in many instances, they will not dare to bring
them to punishment.

There are five principal roads leading from Adelaide; three into the
interior, and two to the coast. Of the three first, one leads to the
north, through Gawler Town, one as the Great Eastern Road leads to Mount
Barker and the Murray, and the third running southwards, crosses the
range to Encounter Bay. Of the roads leading to the coast, the one goes
to the Port, the other to Glenelg. In endeavouring to give a description
of the country, and enabling the reader to judge of it, I would propose
to take him along each of these roads, and to point out the character and
changes of the country on either side, for the one is peculiar and the
others are diversified. My desire is to present such a view of the colony
to the minds of my readers, as shall enable them to estimate its
advantages and disadvantages. I would speak of both with equal
impartiality and decision. The grounds of attachment I entertain for this
colony rest not on any private stake I have in its pastoral or mineral
interests, and I hope the reader will believe that my feelings towards it
are such as would only lead me to speak as it really and truly should be
spoken of. There is no country, however fair, that has not some drawback
or other. There are no hopes, however promising, that may not be
blighted; no prospects, however encouraging, that may not wither.
Unfitness for the new field of enterprise on which a man may
enter--unpropitious seasons, the designs of others, or unforeseen
misfortunes; one or more of these may combine to bring about results very
opposite from those we had anticipated. I would not therefore take upon
myself the responsibility of giving advice, but enter upon a general
description of the province of South Australia as a tourist, whose
curiosity had led him to make inquiries into the capabilities of the
country through which he had travelled, and who could therefore speak to
other matters, besides the description of landscape or the smoothness of
a road.

If we take our departure from Adelaide by the great Northern Road, we
shall have to travel 25 miles over the plains, keeping the Mount Lofty
Range at greater and less distances on our right, the plains extending in
varying breadth to the westward, ere we can pull up at Calton's Hotel in
Gawler Town, where, nevertheless, we should find every necessary both for
ourselves and our horses.

That township, the first and most promising on the Northern Road, is, as
I have stated, 25 miles from Adelaide; and occupies the angle formed by
the junction of the Little Para and the Gawler Rivers; the one coming
from south-east, and the other from north-north-east; the traveller
approaching from the south therefore, would have to cross the first of
these little streams before he can enter the town.

Still, in its infancy, Gawler Town will eventually be a place of
considerable importance. Through it all the traffic of the north must
necessarily pass, and here, it appears to me, will be the great markets
for the sale or purchase of stock. From its junction with the Little
Para, the Gawler flows to the westward to the shores of St. Vincent's
Gulf. It has extensive and well wooded flats of deep alluvial soil along
its banks, flanked by the plains of Adelaide--the river line of trees
running across them, only with a broader belt of wood, just as the line
of trees near Adelaide indicates the course of that river. If I except
these features, and two or three open box-tree forests at no great
distance from Albert Town, the plains are almost destitute of timber, and
being very level, give an idea of extent they do not really possess,
being succeeded by pine forests and low scrub to the north from Gawler
Town.

The Gawler discharges itself into a deep channel or inlet, which, like
the creek at Port Adelaide, has mangrove swamps on either side; still the
inlet is capable of great improvement, and the anchorage at its mouth, so
high up the gulf is safe, and if it were only for the shipment of goods,
for tran-shipment at Port Adelaide, Port Gawler as it is called, would be
of no mean utility, but it is probable that ships might take in cargo at
once, in which case it would be to the interest of the northern settlers
to establish a port there. Captain Allen and Mr. Ellis, two of the most
independent settlers in the province, are the possessors of the land on
both sides the Gawler, and I feel confident it is a property that will
greatly increase in value. The alluvial flats along this little stream,
are richer and more extensive than those of the Torrens, and they seem to
me to be calculated for the production of many things that would be less
successfully cultivated in any other part of the province. Apart,
however, from any advantages Gawler Town may derive from the facilities
of water communication, it will necessarily be in direct communication
with Port Adelaide, as soon as a road is made between them. At present
the drays conveying the ore and other exports are obliged to keep the
great northern line to within a few miles of the city, before they turn
off almost at a right angle to the Port; but there can be no doubt as to
the formation of a direct line of communication with the Port from Gawler
Town, if not of the establishment of a railway, ere many years shall
elapse, for not only are the principal stock stations of the province,
but the more valuable mines to the north of this town.

Up to this point the traveller does not quit the plains of Adelaide, the
Mount Lofty Range being to the eastward of him and the plains, bounded by
the mangrove swamps extending towards St. Vincent's Gulf. Generally
speaking, for their extent the soil is not good, but there are patches of
alluvial soil, the deposits of creeks falling from the hills, that are
rich and fertile. Yet, notwithstanding the quality of the soil, a great
portion of the Adelaide plains have been purchased and are under
cultivation. There is a great deficiency of surface water upon them, but
it is procurable by digging wells; and Mr. Ellis I believe has rendered
those parts of them contiguous to the Gawler available as sheep stations,
by sinking wells for the convenience of his men and stock; neither can
there be a doubt but that many other apparently unavailable parts of the
province might be rendered available by the adoption of similar means, or
by the construction of tanks in favourable situations.

This is a point it is impossible to urge too much on the attention of the
Australian stock holder. There is generally speaking a deficiency of
water in those Colonies, and large tracts of country favourable to stock
are unoccupied in consequence, but the present liberal conditions on
which leases of Crown lands are granted will make it worth the sheep
farmer's while to make those improvements which shall so conduce to his
prosperity and comfort.

In proof of this, I would observe that I had several capacious tanks on
my property at Varroville, near Sydney, for which I was indebted to Mr.
Wells the former proprietor, and not only did they enable me to retain a
large quantity of stock on my farm, when during a season of unmitigated
drought my neighbours were obliged to drive their cattle to distant parts
of the Colony--but I allowed several poor families to draw their supplies
from, and to water some of their cattle at my reservoirs.

Beyond Gawler Town the country changes in character and appearance,
whether you continue the northern road across the river, or turn more to
the eastward, you leave the monotonous plain on which you have journeyed
behind, and speedily advance into an undulating hilly country, lightly
wooded withal, and containing many very rich, if not beautiful valleys.
The Barossa Range and the districts round it are exceedingly pretty.
Here, at Bethany, the Germans who have fled from the religious
persecution to which they were exposed in their own country have settled,
and given the names of several places in their Fatherland to the features
around them. The Keizerstuhl rises the highest point in the Barossa
Range, the outline of which is really beautiful, and the Rhine that
issues from its deep and secluded valleys flows northwards through their
lands.

In this neighbourhood Mr. Angas has a valuable property, as also the
South Australian Company. Angas Park is a place of great picturesque
beauty, and is capable of being made as ornamental as any nobleman's
estate in England. The direct road to the Murray River passes through
Angas Park, but a more northerly course leads the traveller past the
first of those valuable properties to which South Australia is mainly
indebted for her present prosperous state. I mean the copper mines of
Kapunda, the property of Captain Bagot, who, with Mr. Francis Dutton,
became the discoverer and purchaser of the ground on which the principal
lode has been ascertained to exist. There has been a large quantity of
mineral land sold round this valuable locality, but although indications
of copper are everywhere to be seen, no quantity sufficiently great to
justify working had I believe been found up to the time I left the
Colony. As however I shall have to give a more detailed account of the
mines of South Aust ralia, it may not be necessary for me to speak of
them at length in this place.

Captain Bagot is anxious to establish a township in the vicinity of
Kapunda, and he will no doubt succeed, the very concourse of people round
such a place being favourable to his views.

Beyond this point to the north the coast range of Mount Lofty, which thus
far preserves a northerly direction, throws off a chain to the westward
of that point, but the main range still continues to run up into the
interior on its original bearing, rather increasing than decreasing in
height. Upon it, the Razor Back Mount Brian, to the south of which is the
great Burra Burra mine, and the Black Rock Hill, rise to the height of
2922, 3012 and 2750 respectively. On the more western branch of the
chain, Mount Remarkable, Mount Brown, and Mount Arden, so named by
Captain Flinders, form the principal features. This chain has been traced
by Mr. Eyre to Mount Hopeless, in lat. 29 1/2, and has been found by him
to terminate in the basin of Lake Torrens. The main range on the contrary
has only been followed up to lat. 32 degrees 10 minutes, beyond which
point it cannot extend to any great distance, as if it did, I should
necessarily have seen something of it during my recent expedition. It is
a remarkable fact that the further the northern ranges have been followed
up, the more denuded of trees they have become. Immense tracts of land,
through portions of which the Wakefield flows, rich in soil and abundant
in pasture, have scarcely a tree upon them. The scenery round Mount
Remarkable on the contrary is bold and picturesque, and much diversified
by woodland.

Here again the indications of copper were so abundant, that 20,000 acres
were taken as a special survey a short time before I left the Colony. The
occupation of this land will necessarily extend the boundaries of
location, but up to the period when the survey was taken, Mr. White,
formerly a resident at Port Lincoln, was the most distant stockholder to
the north.

Proceeding eastward from Angas Park, the road to the Murray river leads
through a hilly country of an inferior description, portions only of it
being occupied as sheep stations. From the brow of the last of these
hills, the eye wanders over the dark and gloomy sea of scrub, known as
the Murray belt, through which the traveller has to pass before he gains
the bank of the river or the station at Moorundi. He descends direct upon
the level plain over which he has to go, and after passing some pretty
scenery on the banks of a creek close to which the road runs, and
crossing an open interval, he enters the belt, through which it will take
him four hours to penetrate. This singular feature is a broad line of
wood, composed in the lower part of Eucalyptus dumosa, a straggling tree,
growing to an inconsiderable height, rising at once from the ground with
many slender stems, and affording but an imperfect shade. About the
latitude of 34 degrees the character of the Murray belt changes--it
becomes denser and more diversified. Pine trees on sandy ridges, Acacia,
Hakea, Exocarpi, and many other shrubs form a thick wood, through which
it is difficult to keep a correct course. Occasionally a low brush
extends to the cliffs overlooking the valley of the Murray, but it may be
said, that there is an open space varying in breadth from half a-mile to
three miles between the Murray belt and the river. It is a flat table
land about 250 or 300 feet above the level of the sea, the substratum
being of the tertiary fossil formation. The surface is a mixture of red
sand and clay, mixed with calcareous limestone in small rounded nodules.
The very nature of this soil is heating, and the consequence is that it
has little herbage at any one time. There is however a succession of
vegetation, especially during the spring months, which, from the fact of
the cattle being particularly fond of it, must I should imagine be both
sweet and nutritious.

Any one who has ever been on the banks of the Murray will admit that it
is a noble river. The description I have already given supersedes the
necessity of my dwelling on it here. In another place I shall have to
speak of it, not in a commercial point of view, but as a line of
communication between two distant colonies, and the important part it has
acted in the advancement of the province of South Australia. As a
commercial river, I fear it will not be of practical utility. To prove
this, it may be necessary for me to observe that the Murray runs for more
than five degrees of latitude through a desert. That it is tortuous in
its course, and is in many places encumbered with timber, and its depth
entirely depends on the seasons. The difficulties, therefore, that
present themselves to the navigation of the central Murray are such as to
preclude the hope of its ever being made available for such a purpose,
even admitting that its banks were located at every available point.
Moorundi, the property of Mr. Eyre, the present Lieutenant-Governor of
New Zealand, is ninety miles from Adelaide, and twenty-six from the N.W.
bend of the Murray. It is part of a special survey of four thousand acres
taken by Mr. Eyre and Mr. Gilles on the banks of the river, and in
consequence of its appropriate position, was selected by Captain Grey,
the then Governor of South Australia, as a station for a Resident
Magistrate and Protector of the Aborigines, to fill both which
appointments he nominated Mr. Eyre. There can be no doubt, either as to
the foresight which dictated the establishment of this post on the banks
of the Murray, or the selection of Mr. Eyre as the Resident. At the time
this measure was decided on, the feelings of the natives on the river
were hostile to the settlers. The repeated collisions between them and
the Overlanders had kindled a deep spirit of revenge in their breasts,
and although they suffered severely in every contest, they would not
allow any party with stock to pass along the line of the river without
attempting to stop their progress; and there can be no doubt but that, in
this frame of mind, they would have attacked the station next the river
if they had been left to themselves, and with their stealthy habits and
daring, would have been no mean enemy on the boundaries of location. The
character and spirit of these people is entirely misunderstood and
undervalued by the learned in England, and the degraded position in the
scale of the human species into which they have been put, has, I feel
assured, been in consequence of the little intercourse that had taken
place between the first navigators and the aborigines of the Australian
Continent. I have seen them under every variety of circumstances--have
come suddenly upon them in a state of uncontrolled freedom--have passed
tribe after tribe under the protection of envoys--have visited them in
their huts--have mixed with them in their camps, and have seen them in
their intercourse with Europeans, and I am, in candour, obliged to
confess that the most unfavourable light in which I have seen them, has
been when mixed up with Europeans.

That the natives of the interior have made frequent attacks on the
stations of the settlers I have no doubt; very likely, in some instances,
they have done so without any direct provocation, but we must not forget
their position or the consequences of the extension of boundaries of
location to the aborigines themselves. The more ground our flocks and
herds occupy, the more circumscribed become the haunts of the savage. Not
only is this the inevitable consequence, but he sees the intruder running
down his game with dogs of unequalled strength and swiftness, and
deplores the destruction of his means of subsistence. The cattle tread
down the herbs which at one season of the year constituted his food. The
gun, with its sharp report, drives the wild fowl from the creeks, and the
unhappy aborigine is driven to despair. He has no country on which to
fall back. The next tribe will not permit him to occupy their territory.
In such a state what is he to do? Is it a matter of surprise that in the
confidence of numbers he should seek to drive those who have intruded on
him back again, and endeavour to recover possession of his lost domain?
It might be that the parties concerned were not conscious of the injury
they were inflicting, but even that fact would not lessen the fancied
right of the native to repossess himself of his lost territory. Yet on
the other hand we cannot condemn resistance on the part of the white man;
for it would be unjust to overlook the fearful position in which they are
placed, and the terrible appearance of a party of savages working
themselves up to the perpetration of indiscriminate slaughter. No doubt
many parties have gone to take up stations in the interior, with the
honest intention of keeping on good terms with the natives, and who in
accordance with such resolution have treated them with hospitality and
consideration; but, it unfortunately happens that a prolonged intercourse
with the Europeans weakens and at length destroys those feelings of awe
and uncertainty with which they were at first regarded. The natives find
that they are men like themselves, and that their intrusion is an injury,
and they perhaps become the aggressors in provoking hostilities. In such
a case resistance becomes a matter of personal defence, and however much
such collisions may be regretted, the parties concerned can hardly be
brought to account; but, it more frequently happens, that the men who are
sent to form out-stations beyond the boundaries of location, are men of
bold and unscrupulous dispositions, used to crime, accustomed to danger,
and reckless as to whether they quarrel, or keep on terms with the
natives who visit them. Thrown to such a distance in the wild, in some
measure out of the pale of the law, without any of the opposite sex to
restrain their passions, the encouragement these men give to their sable
friends, is only for the gratification of their passions. The seizure of
some of their women, and the refusal to give them up, provokes hostility
and rouses resentment, but those who scruple not at the commission of one
act of violence, most assuredly will not hesitate at another. Such cases
are gene rally marked by some circumstances that betray its character,
and naturally rouse the indignation of the Government. If the only
consequence was the punishment of the guilty, we should rejoice in such
retributive justice; but, unfortunately and too frequently, it happens,
that the station belongs to a stockholder, who, both from feelings of
interest and humanity, has treated the natives with every consideration,
and discountenanced any ill-treatment of them on the part of his
servants, but whose property is nevertheless sacrificed by their
misconduct.

I have been unintentionally led into this subject, in the course of my
remarks on the policy of Captain Grey, in establishing the post at
Moorundi. The consequences have been equally beneficial to the settlers
and aborigines. The eastern out-stations of the province have been
unmolested, and parties with stock have passed down the Murray in perfect
safety. If any act of violence or robbery has been committed by the
natives, the perpetrators have been delivered up by the natives
themselves, who have learnt that it is their interest to refrain from
such acts; and instead of the Murray being the scene of conflict and
slaughter, its whole line is now occupied by stock-stations, and
tranquillity everywhere prevails.

About seventy {FIFTEEN in published text} miles below Moorundi is
Wellington, where a ferry has been established across the Murray, that
township being on the direct road from Adelaide to Mount Gambier, and
Rivoli Bay. A little below Wellington, Lake Victoria receives the waters
of the Murray, which eventually mingle with those of the ocean,
through the sea mouth.

The country immediately to the eastward of the Murray affords, in some
places, a scanty supply of grass for sheep, but, generally speaking, it
is similar in its soil and rock formation, and consequently in its
productions to the scrubby country to the westward. The line of granite I
have mentioned, in the former part of my work, as traversing or crossing
the Murray below Wellington, continues through the scrub, large blocks
being frequent amongst the brushes on a somewhat lower level than the
tertiary fossil limestone in its neighbourhood. Round these blocks of
granite the soil is considerably better, and there is a coating of grass
upon it, as far as the ground consists of the decomposed rock.

About sixty miles to the E.S.E. of Wellington is the Tatiara country,
once celebrated for the ferocity and cannibalism of its inhabitants, but
now occupied by the settlers, who have of late crossed the Murray in
considerable numbers to form stations there. The distance from Wellington
to the district of Mount Gambier, said to be the fairest portion of South
Australia, whether as regards its climate or its soil, is more than 200
miles. The first portion of the road, to almost the above distance, is
through a perfect desert, in which, excepting during the rainy season,
water is scarcely to be found, so that the journey is not performed
without its privation. After passing Lake Albert the traveller has to
journey at no great distance from the Coorong over a low country, once
covered by the waters of the ocean, the noise of whose billows he hears
through the silence of the night. The first elevation he reaches is a
continuation of the great fossil bed, through which the volcanic hills,
where he will ultimately arrive, have been forced up. Mount Gambier, the
principal of these, is about 40 miles from the Glenelg, and 50 from
Rivoli Bay. The country from either of these points is low for many
miles, but well grassed, of the richest soil, and in many places
abundantly timbered. Mount Gambier is scarcely visible until you almost
reach its base--nor even then is its outward appearance different from
other hills. On reaching its summit, however, you find youself on the
brink of a crater, standing indeed on a precipice, with a small sheet of
water of about half-a-mile in circumference, two hundred feet below you;
the water of which is as blue as indigo, and seems to be very deep; no
bottom indeed has been found at 50 fathoms. The ground round the base of
Mount Gambier is very open, and you may ride your horse along it
unchecked for many miles. At the lower parts, and at some distance from
it, the ground is moist, and many caverns have been found in which water
of the very purest kind exists, no doubt deposited in the natural
reservoirs by percolation from the higher ground. The whole formation of
the district, these capacious caverns, and the numerous and extensive
tea-tree swamps along the coast, plainly demonstrate that they are
supplied by gradual filtration, or find their way through the
interstices, or cells of the lava to the lower levels.

It is generally admitted that the greater part of the land in the
neighbourhood of Mount Gambier is equal to the richest soil, whether of
Van Diemen's Land or of Port Phillip, the general character indeed of
this district, and the fact of its being so much farther to the south
than Adelaide, its perpetual verdure and moister climate would lead to
the supposition that it is capable of producing grain of the very finest
quality, and there can, I think, be but little doubt that it will rival
the sister colonies in its agricultural productions, and considering the
nature of the soil is similar to that round the volcanic peaks in the
Mediterranean, it will also produce wine of a superior description.
Settlers both from the province of South Australia and neighbouring
colonies have vied with each other in securing stations in this fertile,
but remote district, and it would appear from the number of allotments
that have been purchased in the townships which have been established on
the coast that settlers are fast flocking to it.

From what has been stated it would seem that the district of Mount
Gambier is adapted rather for agricultural than pastoral pursuits, and
that it is consequently favourable for occupation by a rural population.
Tea-tree swamps (melaleuca) are a feature, I believe, peculiar to South
Australia, and generally indicate the presence of springs, and always of
moisture. The soil is of the very richest quality, and there is, perhaps,
no ground in the world that is more suitable for gardens, and as these
swamps are both numerous and extensive in the lower country, behind
Rivoli and Guichen Bays, this portion of the province promises equally
fair for the growth of those European fruits which are less
advantageously cultivated in the more northern parts of the province.

Returning to Adelaide, and proceeding from thence to the eastward, along
the great eastern or Mount Barker line, we cross, in the first instance,
the remaining portion of the plains lying between the city and the hills,
to the base of which the distance is about three miles, the whole is laid
out in farms, and is extensively and carefully cultivated. As you
approach the hills, the country becomes lightly wooded and undulating,
affording numerous sites for villas, on which many have already been
erected, both by settlers and the more opulent tradesmen. Individuals
indeed, residing in England, can form but a faint idea of the comforts
and conveniences they enjoy, at such a distance from their native
country. Being at sufficient elevation to catch the sea breeze, which
passes over the plains of Adelaide, without being felt, they have almost
the advantage of living near the sea coast, and the cool winds that sweep
down the valleys behind them, and constitute the land breeze, ensure to
them cool and refreshing evenings, when those dwelling at a lower
elevation are oppressed by heat. On the first rise of the mountains is
the Glen Osmond Lead Mine, which will be noticed hereafter. The Mount
Barker district being more numerously settled than most other parts of
the province, and being one of its most important and fertile districts,
more labour has been expended on the road leading into it, than on any
other in the colony. From the level of the Glen Osmond Mine, it winds up
a romantic valley, with steep hills of rounded form, generally covered
with grass, and studded lightly with trees on either side, nor is it,
until you attain the summit of the Mount Lofty range, that any change
takes place in the character of the hills or the vegetation, you then
find yourself travelling through a dense forest of stringy barks, the
finest of which have been levelled to the ground, with the axe, for the
purpose of being sawn into planks for building, or split into rails for
fencing. From Crafer's Inn, situated under the peak of Mount Lofty, the
road to Mount Barker passes through a barren country for some miles, and
crosses several steep valleys, in the centre of which there are rippling
streams; the summit of the ranges still continues to be thickly wooded,
the ground underneath being covered with shrubs and flowers of numberless
kinds and varied beauty. In illustration of this, I may observe, that the
first time I crossed the Mount Lofty range, I amused myself pulling the
different kinds of flowers as I rode along, and on counting them when I
reached Adelaide for the purpose of arranging them in a book, found that
I had no less than ninety-three varieties. The majority of these,
however, consisted of papilionaceous plants, and several beautiful
varieties of Orchideae. On descending to a lower level, after crossing
the Onkaparinga, the scenery and the country at once change, you find
yourself upon rich alluvial flats, flanked by barren rocky hills, the air
during the spring being perfumed by the scent of the Tetratheca, a
beautiful hill flower, at that time in splendid blossom, and growing in
profusion on the tops of the hills, mingled with the Chyranthera, with
its light blue blossoms; both these plants it has always appeared, are
well adapted for the edges of borders, but there are not many plants in
Australia that would be fit for such a purpose.

It does not appear necessary, in a work like this, to trouble the reader
with an account of every village or of every valley in the districts
through which I lead him; my object is to give a general and faithful
description of the country only, reserving the power of drawing attention
to any thing I may deem worthy of notice. Taking the district of Mount
Barker therefore in its full range, I would observe, that it is one of
the finest agricultural districts in the province. It abounds in very
many beautiful alluvial valleys, which, when I first crossed, had grass
that rose above the horses middles as they walked through it, and looked
luxuriant beyond description. These valleys are limited both in length
and breadth, but are level and clear; their soil is a rich alluvial
deposit, and the plough can be driven from one end to the other without
meeting a single obstacle to check its progress. Independently of these
valleys, there are other portions of good grazing land in the Mount
Barker district, but there are, nevertheless, very many stony ranges that
are entirely useless even to stock. The Mount Barker district may be said
to extend from the village of Nairne to Strathalbyn, on the River Angas,
the latter place being 15 miles from the shores of Lake Victoria. Within
the range of this district, there are also the villages of Hahansdorf and
Macclesfield, the former being a German village, at no great distance
from Mount Barker. Immediately to the north of the village of Nairne is
Mount Torrens, the river of that name has several branches to the
north-east of it as high up as Mount Gould. The first of the Company's
special surveys, and perhaps some of the finest soil in the province is
in this locality. The surveys on the sources and tributaries of the
Torrens are splendid properties, and the Company may well consider them
as amongst the most valuable of its acquisitions; beyond the heads of the
Torrens the country is more hilly and less available. There are,
nevertheless, isolated spots sufficiently large for the most comfortable
homesteads. From this point, a west-south-west course will soon lead the
traveller into the plains of Adelaide, and at less than 10 miles after
entering upon them, he will again find himself in the metropolis. Again
departing from it for the southern parts of the province, he will keep
the Mount Lofty range upon his left, and will really find some difficulty
in passing the numberless fences which now enclose the plains. The land
indeed in this line of road is more fenced than in any other direction, a
reason for this may be that the road runs nearer the base of the hills,
and the land is consequently better than that on the lower ground. Many
very excellent farms are to be found on the banks of the Sturt and the
Onkaparinga, on the latter of which the village of Noorlunga has been
established, at the point where the road crosses it. The Sturt has a
tortuous course, somewhat to the northward of west, and falls into the
gulf at Glenelg, after spreading over the flats behind the sand-hills at
that place. The direction of the road is parallel to that of the ranges,
or nearly south-south-west as far as the village of Noorlunga, when it
turns more to the eastward of south, for Willunga, which is 28 miles
distant from Adelaide. The banks of the Onkaparinga, above the crossing
place, are extremely inaccessible, insomuch that stock can hardly be
driven down to water for many miles above that point. The hills however
are rounded in form, grassy, and clear of trees, consequently well
adapted for grazing purposes. It was at Noorlunga, which is not more than
two miles from the gulf, and can be approached in boats, as high as the
bridge there, that Captain Barker first landed on the South Australian
shore. The country between it and Willunga is generally good, portions of
it are sandy and scrubby, but Morphett's Vale is a rich and extensive
piece of land, and I can well remember before it was settled seeing
several large stacks of hay that had been cut, as it then lay in a state
of nature. Willunga is close under the foot of the hills, which here,
trending to the south-south-west, meet the coast line extremity of the
Southern Aldinga plains. Close to this point is a hill, called Mount
Terrible, almost of a conical shape, over the very summit of this, in the
early stages of the colony, the road led to Encounter Bay; and I shall
not forget the surprise I experienced, when going to that place, on
finding I could not by any possibility avoid this formidable obstacle. On
the other side of Mount Terrible the country is very scrubby for some
miles, until, all at once, you burst upon the narrow, but beautiful
valley of Mypunga. This beautiful valley, which had scarcely been trodden
by the European when I first encamped upon it, was then covered with
Orchideous plants of every colour, amidst a profusion of the richest
vegetation. A sweet rippling stream passed within five yards of my
tent-door, and found its way to the Gulf about a mile below me to the
west. It was on the occasion of my going to the sea mouth of the Murray,
that I first stopped at this spot. Amongst the boat's crew I had brought
with me from Adelaide a young lad, of not more than twenty-one, who had,
for some weeks before, been leading a very hard life. At Mypunga he was
seized with delirium tremens, and became so exceedingly outrageous, that
I was obliged to have his feet and hands tied. In the morning he was
still as frantic as ever, but the policeman, under whose charge I had
placed him, having imprudently loosened the cord from his ankles, he
suddenly started upon his feet, and gaining the scrub, through which we
had descended into the valley, with incredible swiftness, secreted
himself amongst it. Nor could we, by the utmost efforts during that and
the succeeding day, discover his hiding place. I was accompanied by a man
of the name of Foley, a bushranger of great notoriety, who had been
captured by the Adelaide police, and was sent with my party in the hope
that his knowledge of the coast would be of use to me, but neither could
he discover the unfortunate runaway, who, there is no doubt, subsequently
perished. Beyond Mypunga, to the south, are the valleys of Yankalilla and
Rapid Bay, but very little, if in any respect inferior to the first
mentioned place. The country between them is, however, extremely hilly,
and contains some beautifully romantic spots of ground. The rock
formation of this part of the ranges is very diversified; the upper part
of Rapid valley is a fine grey limestone; a little to the southward veins
both of copper and lead have been discovered, and I have good reason for
supposing that quicksilver will one day or other be found in this part of
the province. At Willunga there is a small stream, which issues from a
valley close behind the township, and appears in former times to have
laid many hundred acres of the flats below under water. Their soil is
composed of the very richest alluvial deposit, and has produced some of
the finest crops of wheat in the province. Aldinga plains lie to the
south-west of Willunga, and are sufficiently extensive to feed numerous
sheep, but unavailable in consequence of the deficiency of water upon
them, and are an instance of a large tract of land lying in an
unprofitable state, which might, with little trouble and expense, by
sinking wells in different parts, be rendered extremely valuable. On
ascending the hills above Willunga, in following up the southern line of
road to Encounter Bay, it leads for several miles through a stringy-bark
forest, and brings the traveller upon the great sandy basin, between
Willunga and Currency Creek. This gloomy and sterile feature bears a
strong contrast to the rich and fertile valleys I have described, and is
really a most remarkable formation in the geology of the province. At an
elevation of between 600 and 700 feet this basin is surrounded on all
sides by rugged stony hills, excepting to the south and south-east, in
which direc tion it falls into the valley of the Hindmarsh and Currency
Creek respectively. Mount Magnificent, Mount Compass, and Mount Jagged,
rise in isolated groups in different parts of the basin, the soil of
which is pure sand, its surface is undulating, and in many parts covered
with stunted banksias, through which it is difficult to force one's way
in riding along. The Finniss rises behind Mount Magnificent, and is
joined by a smaller branch from Mount Compass, as it flows from the
eastward. At about 25 miles from Willunga the traveller descends into the
valley of Currency Creek, and finds the change from the barren tract over
which he has been riding as sudden as when he entered upon it from the
rich flats of Willunga. The valley of Currency Creek is not, however, the
same as those I have already described in other parts of the colony; it
is prettily wooded and grassy, but continues narrow for some distance
after you have entered it; a small running stream, with a rocky bed,
occupying the centre of the valley, which ultimately escapes from the
hills by a kind of gorge, and discharges itself into an arm of the
Goolwa. The extent of good land in Currency Creek is not very great, and
is bounded both to the north and south by barren scrub. Due south, at the
distance from 15 to 18 miles, is Encounter Bay, the country intervening
between the two points to the shores of the Goolwa is very level, the
soil is light but rich, and there appeared to me to be many thousand
acres that were adapted for agricultural purposes, better adapted indeed
than the richer soils. Whether that view be correct or not, the valleys
of the Inman and Hindmarsh immediately behind Encounter Bay would fully
make up for the want of agricultural land in this part of the province.
Hindmarsh valley is not of any great extent, but the soil is good, and
its scenery in my humble opinion surpasses any other I remember in South
Australia. I shall never, indeed, forget the beautiful effect of sunset,
on a fine bold mountain at the head of it, called the Black Hill. The
glowing orb was fast descending behind it to the west, and the Black Hill
was cast into deep shade, whilst the sun's rays shooting down two valleys
on either side gave the grass the appearance of young wheat. The extent
of arable land in the valley of the Inman is very considerable, but in
point of scenery bears no comparison with the first. I do not know
whether I have made it sufficiently clear that there is a high range at
the back of the coast hereabouts. If not, I would observe that it runs
uninterruptedly from Mount Lofty to Cape Jarvis. Opposite to Encounter
Bay it occupies nearly the centre of the promontory, and consequently
forms a division of the eastern and western waters, there being a
considerable breadth of barren stringy-bark forest between the heads of
the opposite valleys, here as on the higher parts of the ranges near
Mount Lofty, from the ascent of the great eastern road to the valley of
the Onkerparinga.

It is a remarkable fact, but one that I believe I have already adverted
to, that the farther north, towards the valley of the Wakefield, the more
denuded of timber the country becomes, until at last not a tree of any
kind can be seen. These extensive and open downs are, nevertheless, well
grassed, and covered with a profusion of orchideous plants. Whether,
however, there is any salt present in the soil, to check the growth of
the trees, it is impossible to say. Undoubtedly many of the ponds in the
Wakefield, as well as other parts of the province are brackish, but the
same denuded state of the country exists not any where else. These
districts are far too valuable to be overlooked, and are therefore
extensively occupied by cattle and sheep. My most worthy friend, Mr.
Charles Campbell, and my companion Mr. John Browne, and his brother, both
occupy the most distant stations to the north. Mr. Campbell has one of
the finest cattle runs in the province, and my comrade, I believe, is
perfectly satisfied with his run. The condition of their cattle and sheep
would at all events lead to the conclusion, that neither suffer from the
nature of the water they drink or the pasture on which they feed.

As regards the general appearance of the wooded portion of the province,
I would remark, that excepting on the tops of the ranges where the
stringy-bark grows; in the pine forests, and where there are belts of
scrub on barren or sandy ground, its character is that of open forest
without the slightest undergrowth save grass. The trees are more or less
numerous according to the locality, as well as more or less umbrageous, a
character they generally have on river flats, but the habit of the
eucalyptus is, generally speaking, straggling in its branches. In many
places the trees are so sparingly, and I had almost said judiciously
distributed as to resemble the park lands attached to a gentleman's
residence in England, and it only wants the edifice to complete the
comparison.

The proportion of good to bad land in the province has generally been
considered as divisible into three parts; that is to say, land entirely
unavailable--land adapted for pastoral purposes only, and land of a
superior quality. On due consideration, I am afraid this is not a correct
estimate, but that unavailable country greatly preponderates over the
other two. If, in truth, keeping the distant interior entirely out of
view, and confining our observations to those portions of the colony into
which the settlers have pushed in search for runs, we look to the great
extent of unavailable country between the Murray and the Mount Gambier
district, along the line of the Murray belt, and the extensive tracts at
the head of the Gulfs, we shall find that South Australia, from the very
nature of its formation, has an undue proportion of waste land. Those
parts, however, which I have mentioned as being unavailable, were once
covered by the sea, and could hardly be expected to be other than we now
see them, and it may, therefore, be questioned how far they ought to be
put into the scale. In this view of the matter, and taking the hilly
country only into account, the proportion of unavailable and of pastoral
land may be nearly equal; but that of the better description will still,
I think, fall short of the other two. Taking South Australia in its
length and breadth, the quantity of available land is, beyond doubt, very
limited, but I regard it as exceedingly good, and believe that its
capabilities have by no means been ascertained. I feel satisfied, indeed,
that necessity will prove, not only, that the present pastoral districts
are capable of maintaining a much greater number of stock upon them than
they have hitherto borne, but that the province is also capable of
bearing a very great amount of population; that it is peculiarly fitted
for a rural peasantry, and that its agricultural products will be
sufficient to support masses of the population employed either in its
mining or manufactures. In this view of the subject it would appear that
Providence has adapted the land to meet its new destinies, and that
nothing we can say, either in praise or censure of its natural
capabilities, will have the effect of concealing either the one or the
other, as time shall glide on.

On the better soils the average crop of wheat is rather over than under
twenty-five bushels to the acre. In many localities, and more especially
when the ground is first cropped, it exceeds forty; and on some lands,
once my own, in the Reed Beds, at the termination of the Torrens' river,
five acres, which I sold to Mr. Sparshott, averaged fifty-two bushels to
the acre. The Reed Beds may be said to be on the plains of Adelaide, and
their very nature will account to the reader for the richness of their
soil; but the soil of the plains is not generally good, excepting in such
places where torrents descending from the hills have spread over
portions, and covered them with an alluvial deposit to a greater or less
depth. The average crop of wheat on the plains does not exceed twelve or
fifteen bushels to the acre, and depends on the time when the hot winds
may set in. Barley on the light sandy soil of the plains is much heavier
than wheat.

In the description I have thus endeavoured to give of South Australia, I
have omitted any mention of the district of Port Lincoln, chiefly because
sufficient was not known of it when I sailed for England to justify my
hazarding any remark. Recent advices from the colony state that a
practicable line of route from Adelaide has been discovered along the
western shore of Spencer's Gulf, and therefore, the disasters that
overtook early explorers in that quarter, are not likely again to occur.
It is farther said, that the number of sheep now depastured on the lands
behind Port Lincoln, amounts to 70,000--a proof of the utility, if not
the richness of the country--as far, however, as I am aware, the soil
must be considered of an inferior description--in other respects, the
Port has advantages that will always render it an agreeable, if not
altogether a desirable residence. It appears to be gradually improving,
but the amount of its population is still low, not more than sixty. It is
frequented by American and other whalers, but the duties collected add
little to the revenues of the province. Port Lincoln, however, could
hardly now be abandoned, since there are considerable interests at stake
there. It has been stated that copper has been found in the interior, and
I see no reason why it should not exist in the mountain formation of the
Gawler Range, in such case an impulse will be given to the whole
district, that would even change its prospects, and increase the
mercantile operations of the province.

It does not appear to be the disposition of the English settlers to try
experiments on the growth of intertropical productions. It must be
admitted, however, that there are not many places in South Australia
where they could be cultivated with advantage; for although both the
plains of Adelaide and the valley of the Murray are warm in summer, the
frosts, which are sufficient to blight potatoes, would necessarily
injure, if they did not destroy, perennials, whilst in the hills the cold
is adverse to any plants the growth of a tropical climate, if we except
those which, as annuals, come to maturity in the course of a summer; but
the true reason why the growth of extraneous productions is neglected in
South Australia, is the expense consequent on the state of the labour
market--for no doubt many pursuits might be followed there that would be
remunerative. It is exceedingly difficult, however, to lead the pursuits
of a community out of their ordinary course, and it is only where direct
advantages are to be gained, that the spirit of enterprise and
speculation breaks forth.

The climate of South Australia is admirably adapted for the growth of
fruit trees of the hardier tropical kinds, for although the tenderer
kinds grow there also, they do not arrive at perfection. The loquat, the
guava, the orange, and the banana, are of slow growth, but the vine, the
fig, the pomegranate, and others, flourish beyond description, as do
English fruit trees of every kind. It is to be observed, that the climate
of the plains of Adelaide and that of the hills are distinct. I have been
in considerable heat in the former at noon, and on the hills have been in
frost in the evening. The forest trees of Europe will grow in the ranges,
but on the plains they languish; in the ranges also the gooseberry and
the currant bear well, but in the gardens on the plains they are admitted
only to say you have such fruits; the pomegranate will not mature in the
open air, but melons of all kinds are weeds. Yet, such trees as are
congenial to the climate arrive at maturity with incredible rapidity, and
bear in the greatest abundance. The show of grapes in Mr. Stephenson's
garden in North Adelaide, and the show of apples and plums in Mr.
Anstey's garden on the hills are fine beyond description, and could not
be surpassed in any part of the world--it may readily be imagined,
therefore, that the intermediate fruit trees, such as the peach, the
nectarine, the pear, the cherry, the greengage, and others, are of the
most vigorous habits. All of them, indeed, are standards, and the wood
they make during one season, is the best proof that can be given of their
congeniality to the soil and climate of the province.

There are in South Australia two periods of the year which are equally
deceptive to the stranger. The one is when the country is burnt up and
suffering under the effects of summer heat--when the earth is almost
herbless, and the ground swarms with grasshoppers--when a dry heat
prevails in a calm still air. The other when vegetation is springing up
under the early rains and every thing is green. Arriving at Adelaide
during the first period, the stranger would hardly believe that the
country, at any other season of the year, would be so clothed with
herbage and look so fresh; arriving at the other, he would equally doubt
the possibility of the vegetable kingdom being laid so completely
prostrate, or that the country could assume so withered and parched an
appearance; but these changes are common to every country under a similar
latitude, and it would be unjust to set them down to its prejudice, or
advantage.

The following mean of heat at 2 p.m. throughout the year, will give the
reader a correct idea of the range of the thermometer. I have taken 2
p.m. as being the hottest period of the day, and, therefore, nearest the
truth.


January   85       106 1/2    70
February  79        94        71
March     77       103 1/2    68 1/2
April     67 1/2    85        55 1/2
May       62        76        53
June      58        67        49
July      55        60        49
August    59        68        52
September 61        72 1/2    55 1/2
October   68 1/2    94 1/2    55
November  74        94        59
December  83       100        68


The west and south-west winds are the most prevalent, blowing for 130 or
140 days in the year. During the summer months the land and sea breezes
prevail along the coast, but in the interior the wind generally commences
at E.N.E., and going round with the sun settles at west in the afternoon.

I need not point out to the reader, that the above table only shews the
mean of the thermometer during a certain hour of the day; the temperature
during the night must necessarily be much lower; the coolness of the
night, indeed, generally speaking, makes up for the mid-day heat. There
are some days of the year when hot winds prevails, which are certainly
very disagreeable, if not trying. Their occurrence, however, is not
frequent, and will be easily accounted for from natural causes. They
sometimes continue for three or more days, during which time clouds of
dust fill the air, and whirlwinds cross the plains, but the dryness of
the Australian atmosphere considerably influences the feelings on such
occasions, and certainly produces a different effect upon the system from
that which would be produced at a much lower temperature in a more humid
climate; for, no doubt, it is to the united effects of heat and moisture,
where they more or less exist, that the healthiness or unhealthiness of a
country may be ascribed. In such countries, generally speaking, either
teaming vapours, or malaria from dense woods or swamps naturally tries
the constitution, but to its extreme dryness, and the absence of all
vegetable decay, it appears to me that the general salubrity of
South-east Australia is to be attributed. So rarified, indeed, is the
atmosphere, that it causes an elasticity of spirits unknown in a heavier
temperature. So the hot winds, of which I have been speaking, are not
felt in the degree we should be led to suppose. Like the air the spirits
are buoyant and light, and it is for its disagreeableness at the time,
not any after effects that a hot wind is to be dreaded. It is hot, and
that is all you can say; you have a reluctance to move, and may not rest
so well as usual; but the spirits are in no way affected; nor indeed, in
the ordinary transactions of business does a hot wind make the slightest
difference. If there are three or four months of warm weather, there are
eight or nine months of the year, during which the weather is splendid.
Nothing can exceed the autumn, winter, and spring of that transparent
region, where the firmament is as bright as it would appear from the
summit of Mount Blanc. In the middle of winter you enjoy a fire, the
evenings are cold, and occasionally the nights are frosty. It is then
necessary to put on warmer clothing, and a good surtout, buttoned across
the breast, is neither an uncomfortable nor unimportant addition. Having
said thus much of the general salubrity of the climate of South
Australia, I would observe, in reference to what may be said against it,
that the changes of temperature are sudden and unexpected, the
thermometer rising or falling 50 degrees in an hour or two. Whether it is
owing to the properties I have ascribed, that the climate of this place
as also of Sydney should be fatal to consumptive habits, I do not know,
but in both places I have understood that such is the case, and in both I
have had reason to regret instances. It has been said that influenza
prevailed last year in Adelaide to a great extent, and that it carried
off a great many children and elderly persons. An epidemic, similar in
its symptoms, may have prevailed there, and been severe in its progress,
but it hardly seems probable that the epidemic of this country should
have been conveyed through constant change of air, the best cure for such
a disease, to so distant a part of the world. With all its salubrity,
indeed, I believe it may be said, that South Australia is subject to the
more unimportant maladies like other countries, but that there are no
indigenous disorders of a dangerous kind, and that it is a country which
may strictly be called one of the healthiest in the world, and will, in
all probability, continue so, as long as it shall be kept clear of
European diseases.

Having thus endeavoured to give a description of the general character
and climate of this limited but certainly beautiful portion of the
Australian continent, without encumbering my description with any remark
on the principal and particular sources of wealth it possesses, which not
being usual, could not, or rather would not, have been considered
applicable. I hope the object I have had in view will be sufficiently
clear to the reader. I have endeavoured to point out with an impartial
pen, the real capabilities of the province, and the nature of those
productions which are most congenial to her soil. Without undue praise on
the one hand, or unjust depreciation on the other, it has been my desire
to present a faithful picture of her to my readers, and I hope it will
appear from what I have said, as is really and truly the case, that both
in climate and other respects it is a country peculiarly adapted to the
pursuits and habits of my countrymen. That its climate so far approaches
that of England, as to be subject to light and partial frosts, which
render it unfit for the cultivation of tropical productions, but make it
essentially an agricultural country, capable of yielding as fine cereal
grain as any country in the world, of whatever kind it may be--that at
the same time the greater mildness of the climate makes it favourable to
the growth of a variety of fruits and vegetables, independently of
European fruit trees and culinary herbs, which put it in the power of the
settler to secure the enjoyment of greater luxuries and comforts, than he
could possibly expect to have done in his own country, except at a great
expense, and that as far as the two great desiderata go, on which I have
been dwelling, it is a country to which an Englishman may migrate with
the most cheerful anticipations.




CHAPTER III.



SEASONS--CAUSE WHY SOUTH AUSTRALIA HAS FINE GRAIN--EXTENT OF
CULTIVATION--AMOUNT OF STOCK--THE BURRA-BURRA MINE--ITS
MAGNITUDE--ABUNDANCE OF MINERALS--ABSENCE OF COAL--SMELTING ORE--IMMENSE
PROFITS OF THE BURRA-BURRA--EFFECT OF THE MINES ON THE LABOUR
MARKET--RELUCTANCE OF THE LOWER ORDERS TO EMIGRATE--DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
CANADA AND AUSTRALIA--THE AUSTRALIAN COLONIES--STATE OF SOCIETY--THE
MIDDLE CLASSES--THE SQUATTERS--THE GERMANS--THE NATIVES--AUTHOR'S
INTERVIEWS WITH THEM--INSTANCES OF JUST FEELING--THEIR BAD
QUALITIES--PERSONAL APPEARANCE--YOUNG SETTLERS ON THE MURRAY--CONCLUSION.


It was my object in the last chapter, to confine my observations strictly
to the agricultural and pastoral capabilities of the province of South
Australia, which I thought I could not better do than by describing the
nature of its climate and soil, for on these depend the producing powers
of every country. In speaking of the climate, however, I merely adverted
to its temperature, leaving its seasons out of question for the time,
intending to close my remarks on these heads, by a short review of the
state of the agricultural and pastoral interests of the colony at the
present date.

It will be borne in mind that the seasons of Australia are the reverse of
our own; that when in England the ground is covered with snow, there the
sun is hottest, and that when summer heats are ripening our fruits, in
Australia it is the coldest season of the year, December, January,
February, and March being the summer months; June, July, August, and
September the winter ones. An experience of ten years has shewn that the
seasons of South Australia are exceedingly regular, that the rains set in
within a few days of the same period each successive year, and that
during the winter the ground gets abundantly saturated. This regularity
of season may be attributed to the almost insular position of the
promontory of Cape Jarvis, and may be said to be almost local, in
elucidation of which, I may refer to what I have stated in the former
part of my work, of the state of the weather in the valley of the Murray
when the expedition was proceeding up its banks in the month of August,
1844. For some time before there had been heavy rains in the hills, and
it was with some difficulty the drays crossed them. During our stay at
Moorundi, the ranges were covered with heavy clouds, and the mountain
streams were so swollen as to stop one of my messengers; but the sky over
the valley of the Murray was as clear as crystal, morning mists it is
true curled up at early dawn from the bosom of its waters, but they were
soon dissipated, and a sharp frosty night was succeeded by a day of
surpassing beauty.

The regularity, however, both in its commencement and in the quantity of
moisture that falls during the rainy season in the colony, enables the
agriculturist to calculate with certainty upon it, and the only anxiety
of the farmer is to get his grain into the ground sufficiently early, if
possible, to escape the first hot winds. In a region, portions of which
are subject, it must be confessed, to long continued drought, this is no
inconsiderable advantage, although South Australia is not singular in
this respect, for the rainy seasons in the Port Phillip districts are, I
believe, equally regular and more abundant, whilst the climate of Van
Diemen's Land almost approaches to that of England; neither, indeed,
fairly speaking, is South Australia more favoured than those of her
immediate neighbours in the quality of her soil. Van Diemen's Land is the
granary of the southern seas, and there is unquestionably a very great
proportion of the very best soil in the Port Phillip district.
Nevertheless that of South Australia has yielded a finer and a heavier
grain than has ever been produced in those colonies, but the reason of
this is, that with a naturally rich soil to work upon, the agriculturists
of South Australia have spared no pains in cultivating their lands, but
there can be no doubt that with equal care and attention both the
Vandemonians and the settlers of Port Phillip would produce an equally
fine sample. The farmers of South Australia have enhanced the value of
their colony by their energy and skill in cultivating it, and can boast
of having sent the finest sample of wheat to England that has ever been
exhibited in her market.

South Australia, in its length and breadth, contains about 300,000 square
miles, or in round numbers more than 190,000,000 acres. The limits of
location, however, do not exceed 4000 miles, or 7,000,000 acres. In this
area, however, a great portion of desert country is included, or such, at
least, as at the present moment is considered so. Of the more available
land, 470,000 acres have been purchased, but the extent of country
occupied by sheep and cattle stations is not known.

It may be necessary here to observe, that the returns of the land under
cultivation last year were published after I left the colony; but the
comparison between the two previous years will shew the increase and
decrease of the different grains, sufficiently to establish the progress
of agricultural pursuits in the colony. In the year 1845, the number of
acres of wheat sown was 18,848. In 1846 it was 26,135. Of barley, there
were in the former year 4,342 acres, in the latter only 3,490. Of oats,
there were 1,485 in the first year, which, in 1846, increased to 1,963.
It would thus appear, that the increase of cultivated land in the course
of one year amounted to between 6000 and 7000 acres, and that more than
400 agriculturists were added to the list of landed proprietors. The
necessary consequence of such extensive farming operations is that the
produce far exceeds the wants of the settlers, and that there is a
considerable surplus for exportation; the price of the best flour being
from 12 pounds to 13 pounds per ton, whereas for a short period in 1839
it was 120 pounds!!!

Whilst the agriculturists have been so earnest in the development of the
productive powers of the colony, another class of its inhabitants were
paying equal attention to its pastoral interests. The establishment of
stock stations over its surface followed its occupation, and a mild
climate and nutritive herbage equally contributed to the increase of
cattle and sheep that had been introduced. In 1844 the number of sheep
assessed was 355,700, in the following year that number had increased to
480,669, or an addition of 120,000. At the present moment there cannot be
far short of a million of sheep in the province, with an increase of
200,000 annually, at a moderate computation. The number of other kinds of
stock in the possession of the settlers, at the close of last year, was
as follows:--of cattle, 70,000; 30,000 having been imported during the
two previous years from New South Wales. The number of horses was
estimated at 5000, and of other smaller stock, as pigs and goats, there
were supposed to be more than 20,000.

It is impossible to contemplate such a prosperous state of things in a
colony that has only just completed the eleventh year of its existence,
without feeling satisfied that some unusually favourable circumstances
had brought it about. Had South Australia been as distant from the older
colonies on the continent as Swan River, the amount of stock she would
have possessed in an equal length of time, could not have amounted to a
tenth of what they now number. It is to the discovery of the Darling and
the Murray that South Australia owes the superabundance of her flocks and
herds, and in that superabundance the full and complete establishment of
her pastoral interests. I stated in the course of my preliminary
observations on the progress of Australian discovery, that when I was
toiling down those rivers, with wide spread deserts on either side of me,
I had little idea for what purposes my footsteps had been directed into
the interior of the Australian Continent. If I ever entertained even a
distant hope that the hilly country from which I turned back at the
termination of the Murray, after having floated on its broad waters for
eighty-eight days, might ever be occupied, I certainly never hoped that
the discoveries I was then making would one day or other prove of
advantage to many a friend, and that I was marking the way for thousands
of herds and flocks, the surplus stock of New South Wales, to pass into
the province of South Australia.

If then such consequences have resulted from enterprises, apparently of
almost as hopeless a character as the one from which I have so recently
returned, why, I would ask, should I despair, as to its one day or other
being instrumental in benefiting my countrymen. There may yet be that in
the womb of time which shall repay me for all I suffered in the
performance of that dreary task--when I shall have it in my power to say,
that I so far led the way across the continent as to make the remainder
of easy attainment, and under the guidance and blessing of Providence
have been mainly instrumental in establishing a line of communication
between its northern and southern coasts. I see no reason why I should
despair that such may one day be the case. The road to the point which
may be termed my farthest north is clear before the explorer. That point
gained, less probably than 200 miles--a week's journey with horses less
jaded than mine unfortunately were, and with strength less reduced--would
place him beyond the limits of that fearful desert, and crown his labours
with success. I believe that I could, on my old route, make the north
coast of Australia, to the westward of the Gulf of Carpentaria, before
any party from Moreton Bay. If it is asked what practical good I should
expect to result from such an undertaking, I would observe, that nothing
would sooner tend to establish an intercourse with the inhabitants of the
Malay archipelago, than the barter of cattle and sheep, that in truth
there is no knowing what the ultimate results would be. The Malays who
visit the northern coasts of Australia to collect the sea slug, have
little inducement to keep up an intercourse with our settlements in
Torres Straits, but there can be no doubt of their readiness to enter
into commercial intercourse with us, which, if Torres Straits are to be
navigated by steamers, would be doubly important.

When the stock from New South Wales was first brought down the Murray,
the journey occupied from three to four months. Latterly it did not take
half that time. In less than fifty days, from the Murray, on his way to
the north, the stock-holder would find that he had passed the centre, and
an equal number of days from that point would, it appears to me, take him
to his journey's end. This, however, would depend on the nature of the
country beyond where it is at present known, and the nature of the season
during which it was undertaken, but experience alone, as in the instance
of the journey down the Murray, would be the best guide and the best
instructor.

In the early part of the year 1840, I had occasion to address a number of
the colonists at the conclusion of a public entertainment and availed
myself of the opportunity to state that whatever prospects of success the
pastoral capabilities of the province appeared to hold out, I felt
assured it was to the mountains, the colonists would have to look for
their future wealth, for that no one who pretended to the eye of a
geologist could cross them as I had done, without the conviction that
they abounded in mineral veins. There is something, in truth, in the
outline and form of the Mount Lofty chain that betrays its character.
Rounded spurs, of very peculiar form, having deep valleys on either side,
come down from the main range, the general outline of which bears a
strong resemblance to that of the Ural chain.

In the year 1843, the first discovery of copper was made, but even this
was scarcely sufficient to rouse the colonists to a full sense of its
importance, and it was only by degrees, as other mines were successively
discovered, that the spirit of speculation burst forth, and the energies
of the settlers were turned for a time from their legitimate channels. A
short time before this, their circumstances had been reduced to the
lowest ebb. There was no sale for agricultural produce, no demand for
labour, the goods in the shops of the tradesmen remained unsold, and the
most painful sacrifices of property were daily made at the auction mart.
The amount of distress indeed was very great and severe, but such a state
of things was naturally to be expected from the change that had taken
place in the monetary affairs of the province. It was a change however
which few anticipated, and for which few therefore were prepared.

It is a painful task to advert to past scenes of difficulty and distress,
such at least I feel it to be, more especially where there is no
immediate object to be gained by a reference to them; let me therefore
turn from any inquiry into the causes which plunged South Australia into
difficulties that threatened to overwhelm her, to those which raised her
from them.

Notwithstanding the spirit and firmness with which the colonists bore
their reverses, there could not but be a gloom over the community where
every thing seemed to be on the brink of ruin. Men's minds became
depressed when they saw no relief in the present, and no hope in the
future. But Time, with a rapid wing, brought about changes that appear
permanently to have altered the circumstances of the colony, and to have
placed it at once as one of the most flourishing of the British
possessions. The first circumstance, I have understood, which partially
cheered the drooping spirits of the settlers, was a slight rise in the
price of wool, in the year I have mentioned. The discovery of the mines
following soon upon this, the sun of prosperity burst at once upon the
province, and gladdened every heart. From this period, mine after mine of
copper and lead continued to be discovered. Every valley and hill-top was
searched for hidden treasures, and the whole energies of the colonists
seemed to be turned to this new source of wealth. I was absent in the
interior when the Burra Burra mine was secured, but the excitement it
created had not subsided when I reached Adelaide.

I do not know whether the presence of mineral veins is indicated in other
countries as in South Australia by means of surface deposits. The opinion
I formed that ores would be discovered in the Mount Lofty ranges did not
rest upon the discovery of any such deposit myself, but on the peculiar
form of the hills, which appeared to me to have settled into their
present state from one of extreme fusion. The direction of the ranges
being from north to south, these deposits lie also in the same direction.
Those of iron are greater than those of copper, and it is impossible to
describe the appearance of the huge clean masses of which they are
composed. They look indeed like immense blocks, that had only just passed
from the forge. The deposits at the Burra Burra amounted, I believe, to
some thousand tons, and led to the impression that where so great a
quantity of surface ore existed, but little would be found beneath. In
working this gigantic mine, however, it has proved otherwise. I was
informed by one of the shareholders just before I left the colony, that
it took three hours and three-quarters to go through the shafts and
galleries of the mine. Some of the latter are cut through solid blocks of
ore, which glitter like gold where the hammer or chisel has struck the
rock, as you pass with a candle along them.

It would be out of place in me, nor indeed would it interest my readers,
were I to enter into a statistical account of the profits of the Burra
Burra mine. A general notice will convey every necessary information on
that head, and enable the public to judge as well of its value and
importance as if I entered into minuter details. It will give the reader
some idea of the scene of bustle and activity the Burra mine and road
must present, and the very great amount of labour it requires.

The quantity of ore sent weekly from the mine to the port is from 430 to
450 tons, employing from 150 to 160 drays, and more than double that
number of men. The total quantity of ore received at the port in December
last was 10,000 tons, the average value of which at 20 pounds per ton,
amounts to 200,000 pounds, and the price of shares, originally of
5 pounds, had, by last advices, reached 160 pounds.

Considering the gigantic scale of the Burra Burra mine, it was supposed
that few other mines would be found in the colony that would at all
approach it, that indeed, it had been the principal deposit, and that
whatever indications other mines might give, they would soon cease in
working, or produce so little as to be valueless. I confess that such was
my own opinion--surprised at the immense size of this magnificent mine, I
hardly thought it possible that in mountains, after all of limited range,
mines of great value would still be found, and that discoveries of new
mines were frequently taking place, and that too in situations where no
such feature would be supposed to exist. On York's Peninsula for
instance, immediately across St. Vincent's Gulf, opposite to Port
Adelaide, and directly on the sea shore, there are two sections, on which
copper ore is abundant. The position of this mine can at once be
determined by the reader, on a reference to the map. The land is very
low, and the rock formation, tertiary fossil, but the various and
anomalous positions in which copper is found in South Australia, baffles
all ordinary calculations--as likely to exist in the valley, as on the
hill--at the sea side as well as inland: there is not a locality in which
it may not be looked for and found.

The whole of the mountain chain indeed, is a mass of ore from one end to
the other, and it is impossible to say what quantity, or how many of the
richer metals will ultimately be found in a country through which the
baser metals are, without doubt, so abundantly diffused. The quantity of
gold hitherto discovered has not been important, but it is reasonable to
suppose, that where a small quantity has been found, large deposits must
be at no great distance. This gold however, like the baser metals of
South Australia, is very pure, there being few component parts mixed with
it.

From the various examinations of the hills that have at different times
been made, it would appear that precious stones, as well as metals, exist
amongst them. Almost every stone, the diamond excepted, has already been
discovered. The ruby, the amethyst, and the emerald, with beryl and
others, so that the riches of this peculiar portion of the Australian
continent may truly be said to be in their development only.

With such prospects before it, there can be but little doubt that the
wealth of South Australia will, one day or other, be very great, neither
can there be any doubt but that the discovery of the mines at the
critical period, made a complete revolution in the affairs of that
colony, and suddenly raised it from a state of extreme depression to one
of independence, even as an individual is raised to affluence, from
comparative poverty by the receipt of an unlooked-for legacy. The effect,
however, which the discovery had on its present prospects, and the effect
it must have on the future destinies of that colony, can hardly, it
appears to me, be placed to the credit of any ordinary process of
colonization. It has rather been in the shape of an unexpected auxiliary,
that this immense and valuable supply of ore has been brought to bear
upon its fortunes, for the condition to which the colony was reduced at
one time, was such, that it would have taken many years to have acquired
the appearance of returning prosperity, but the discovery of the mines
was like the coming up of a rear-guard, to turn the tide of battle, when
the main army had apparently been all but defeated. The assistance the
colony received was complete and decisive, and has seemingly placed her
beyond the hazard of failure or reverse: but, admitting the state of
depression to which it was reduced, and the length of time it would have
taken to bring about a healthy change, I yet believe, that the favourable
position of the province as regards its connection with the other
colonies, the character of its climate and soil, and the energies of its
inhabitants, would have ensured its ultimate success. Before the
depression in 1841, South Australia had become a pastoral country, in
consequence of the number both of cattle and sheep that had been
imported. In 1838, the city of Adelaide had scarcely been laid out, no
portion of it had yet been sold, when flocks and herds were on their way
to the new market, and from that period, even to the present, there has
been no cessation to their ingress--first of all, as I have stated, the
Murray, and then the Darling, became the high roads along which the
superfluous stock of Port Phillip and New South Wales were driven to
browse on South Australian pastures, and to increase the quantity and
value of her exports.

However low therefore the price of wool might have kept, the natural
increase of stock would still have gone on, and if we may judge from the
unflinching energies of the agricultural portion of the community, their
efforts to develop the productive powers of the soil, would rather have
been stimulated than depressed by the misfortunes with which they were
visited. I do them nothing more than justice when I assure the reader,
that settlers in the province from the neighbouring colonies, could not
help expressing their surprise at the state of cultivation, or their
admiration of the unconquerable perseverance, that could have brought
about so forward and creditable a state of things.

I have already stated that the general outline and form of the Mount
Lofty chain, bears a strong resemblance to the outline and form of the
Ural mountains. But it is of trifling elevation, running longitudinally
from north to south, with a breadth of from 15 to 20 miles. The
metalliferous veins crop out on the surface of the ground, preserving the
same longitudinal directions as the ranges themselves, and the rock in
which the ores are imbedded, generally speaking, is a compact slate. As
the Mount Lofty ranges extend northwards, so does the Barrier or Stanley
range, over which the recent expedition crossed on leaving the Darling;
no copper ores were found amongst those hills, but an abundance of the
finest ore of iron, running, as the out-croppings of the copper ores,
from north to south, and occurring in depressed as well as elevated
situations, the rock formation being very similar to that of the more
western ranges.

If we are to judge from these facts, it is very evident that strong
igneous action has influenced the whole, nor can I help thinking, from
general appearances, that the continent of Australia has been subjected
to a long subterranean process, by which it has been elevated to its
present altitude, and it appears to me that that action, though
considerably weakened, is still going on. The occurrence of two slight
shocks of earthquake felt at Adelaide, since the establishment of the
colony, would further strengthen this opinion.

The copper ores of South Australia fetch a higher price at the Swansea
sales than those from any other part of the world, not only because they
are intrinsically rich, but because they are generally composed of
carbonates, which are necessary to facilitate the smelting of the ores of
sulphuret of copper from Cuba and other places. The necessity for sending
the ores from Adelaide to some foreign port to undergo the process of
smelting, will probably exist for a considerable length of time; until
such time, indeed, as the electric process shall be found to answer on a
sufficiently large scale to be profitable, or, until smelting works are
established; but, the great difficulty to be apprehended in carrying on
such operations would be the want of fuel, which scarce even at the
present moment, would soon be more so--for there is not sufficient wood
in the vicinity of any of the mines to keep up the supply for such a
consumption as that which would be required; besides which, the cartage
of the wood, and the expenses attending its preparation for the furnace,
would materially diminish any profits arising from the smelting of the
ores. In such a view of the case I cannot but think that the
establishment of works at the mines will be found to be as unprofitable
to their proprietors as to the smelter, and that such works will only be
remunerative when carried on under more favourable circumstances--for it
would appear that coal is the only mineral South Australia does not
possess, and I am apprehensive that no bed of it will ever be found in
the colony. I have ever thought the geological formation of the country
unfavourable to the presence of coal, but, still, it is said to exist as
a submarine formation close to Aldingi Bay. The discovery of this mineral
in the province would immediately give to it, within itself, the means of
the most unbounded wealth, and would undoubtedly fill up the measure of
its prosperity to the brim.

By a late report of the Directors of the Burra Burra mine, it would
appear, that they had made several successful attempts to smelt the ore,
but, that the cost, having exceeded that of cartage to the port, and
freight, the process has been abandoned. Parties, however, had offered to
enter into an engagement to smelt the whole of the ore from the mine at
about Swansea prices; notwithstanding the unfavourable circumstances
under which such smelting would necessarily be carried on.

As I understand the nature of this arrangement, the ore will be smelted
at the mine, and the remuneration to the smelter will be between fifty
and sixty shillings per ton perhaps, by way of "return charges," or we
will say between sixty and seventy shillings, which is a sum exactly
equal to the cartage of the ore to the port. If then the Directors
abandoned their intentions, because they found they could not smelt at so
low a sum as the price of cartage and freight, how will the contractor
make it pay under more unfavourable circumstances? No doubt, if he should
find it remunerative, the shareholders of the Burra Burra would find it
still more so, and it would be the interest of the proprietors of the
larger mines to enter into similar engagements; but, on a due
consideration of this important subject, I am led to believe that to make
smelting works successful in South Australia, Companies must purchase the
ore, and carry it off to localities suitable for the operation. Such an
arrangement would still considerably increase the profits to the
proprietors of the mine, nor would there be any difficulty in determining
the value of the ore, by processes similar to those adopted at Swansea,
by which the interests of both parties are equally protected.

In the South Australian Register of the 27th of November of last year, it
is stated that a Mr. Hunt, one of the auctioneers in Sydney, offered for
sale thirteen tons of pure copper ore of colonial manufacture, from ore
the produce of the Burra Burra, in ingots weighing 80 lbs. each; the ore
having been smelted by Mr. James at Mr. Smith's foundry at Newtown. This
copper was however bought in at 80 pounds, the limit being 85 pounds
per ton.

It will give the reader some idea of the character of this prodigious
mine, and of the profits arising from it, to know, that during the four
months preceding the 23rd October, 1847, the directors declared and paid
three dividends, amounting to 200 per cent. on the subscribed capital,
and that the credits of the Association on the 30th September were
104,694 pounds 4 shillings 8 pence. The Burra Burra mine however is not
the only one of importance. Several others have of late been discovered,
and South Australia may be said to be a thriving country in every sense of
the word, and one in which those profitable interests will rapidly
increase.

We have hitherto been speaking of the mines of South Australia as the
sources of wealth, and as the sudden, if not the remote cause of the
prosperity of that province. It now becomes our duty to consider how far
the discovery of the mines has benefited or interfered with the other
branches of industry and sources of wealth; and as regards both these, it
must be admitted that their discovery has had an injurious effect. The
high rate of wages given by the proprietors of mines, not only to the
miners, but to all whom they employ, draws the labourers from every other
occupation to engage with them. The consequence has been a general want
of labourers throughout the whole colony, still more severely felt by
reason of the previous want of labour in the labour market. Every man who
could obtain sufficient money to purchase a dray and team of bullocks,
hurried to the mines for a load of ore to take to the port, and disdained
any ordinary employment when by carting ore he could earn 6 or 7 pounds in
a fortnight. The labourer was quite right in going where he received the
best remuneration for his services; but the consequences were in many
instances fatal to their former employers. Many farmers were unable to
put in seed or to cultivate their land; many, after having done so, were
unable to gather it, and had it not been for the use of Mr. Ridley's
machine, the loss in the crops would have been severely felt. Not only
did the farmers suffer, but the stock-holders, and the colonists
generally. The want of hands, indeed, was felt by all classes of the
community, since the natural consequence of the high wages given by the
mining proprietors to the men they employed, tended still more to depress
the labour market, and to increase the demand upon it by leading many of
the more frugal labourers to purchase land with the money they were
enabled to save. As landed proprietors they not only withdrew their
labour from the market, but in their turn became employers; but I feel
called upon to say at the same time, that equal distress was felt in the
neighbouring colonies for working hands, where no mines had been
discovered, and where they could not therefore possibly have interfered.

From what has been said of the province of South Australia, and setting
its mines entirely out of the question, the description that has been
given of its pastoral and agricultural capabilities, of its climate, and
of the prospects of success which present themselves to the intending
emigrant, it will naturally be inferred that the impression I have
intended to convey is, that, as a colony, it is most peculiarly adapted
for a British population, whether rural or other. The state of the colony
is now such, that the way of the emigrant in landing is straight before
him, for with honesty, sobriety, and industry, he cannot lose it. When I
stated, in a former part of my work, that I would not take upon myself to
give advice, which if followed, and not successfully, might subject me to
the reproach of any one, I referred to those who have similar means of
acquiring information to myself, and whose stakes, being considerable,
make the responsibility of giving advice the greater. With the lower
orders--the working classes--the case is different. They have not the
means of acquiring information on these matters, and it becomes the duty
of those who can promote their welfare to do so. I am quite aware that
there are many of my poor countrymen who would gladly seek a better home
than they possess at this moment, but who, clinging to the spot where
they were born, disheartened at the thought of abandoning their hearth,
and bound by early recollections to their native country, cannot make up
their minds to turn their backs on the companions of their youth, and the
haunts of their childhood.

Such a feeling undoubtedly claims our sympathy and respect. It is that
very feeling,--the love of Home,--the belief that they can no where be
happier, which has been the strength of England, and has given her sons
the heart to love, and the spirit to defend her. But the period however,
when those feelings were so strong, has passed away,--more general ones
have taken their place, and the circumstances of the times have so
changed, that neither hearth nor home have the same attractions; a
restlessness pervades the community, and a desire to escape from those
scenes, and that spot which they or their forefathers once thought the
most hallowed upon earth. But two circumstances have militated against
the migration of the rural population in this country, to the Australian
colonies, at all events.

The one has been an apprehension as to the length and nature of the
voyage; the other the expense, more especially to a family man. Had it
not been for these causes, the Australian colonies would not have had to
complain of the want of labour. The truth is, that the ignorance which
prevails in the inland counties as to any matters connected with foreign
parts, and the little means the labouring classes possess of defraying
their own expenses, has kept them, except in a few instances, from
seeking to go to that distant part of the world, which assuredly holds
out to them the brightest prospect, and is most like their own home. They
may however rest satisfied that the voyage to Australia is as safe as
that to New York, that it is far more pleasant as regards the weather,
and that little or no sickness has ever thinned the number of those who
have embarked for the Australian colonies. The expense of the voyage is
certainly greater than that of a passage to the Canadas, or to the United
States, but it is to be hoped that the means of transport will soon be at
their command. I would only in this place offer the remarks I
conscientiously think the case requires, as one who, having witnessed the
happiness of thousands in the land of which he is speaking, would gladly
be instrumental in opening the way for thousands more of his countrvmen
to the same happy destiny. Having been both to Canada and the Australian
colonies, if I were asked which of the two I preferred, I should
undoubtedly say the latter. I do not desire to disparage the Canadas by
this assertion, for I know that they have advantages in their soil and in
the magnificence of their rivers beyond comparison, but Australia, on the
other hand, has advantages over our transatlantic possessions, such as
her increased distance from England, cannot counterbalance. Her climate,
in the first place, is surpassing fine. There the emigrant is spared the
trouble of providing against the severities of a Canadian winter. That
season passes over his head almost without his knowledge, and the ground,
instead of being a broad sheet of snow, is covered with vegetation. Her
lands, unencumbered by dense forests, are clear and open to the plough,
or are so lightly wooded as to resemble a park, rather than a wild and
untouched scene of nature. Instead of having to toil with the saw and the
axe to clear his ground before he can cultivate it, and instead of
consuming a year's provisions before he can expect any return, he can
there run the plough from one end to the other of his enclosures, without
meeting a stone or a root to turn its point, and at once reap the produce
of the soil. These surely are advantages of no ordinary kind, and, if the
expense of a voyage to the Australian colonies is greater than that to
America, I cannot but think that the contingent expenses to which the
Canadian or Union emigrant is put, before he can consider himself as
finally settled down, must necessarily exceed those of the Australian.

As before observed, the aspect of South Australia, and indeed of many
parts of the neighbouring colonies, is essentially English. There, as in
England, you see the white-washed cottage, and its little garden stocked
with fruit trees of every kind, its outward show of cleanliness telling
that peace and comfort are within. To sever oneself from our kindred, and
to abandon the dwelling of our fathers, is a sacrifice of no imaginary
magnitude, whether we are rich or poor, and the prospects of reward
should be bright indeed to compensate for it. I conclude that it has been
to combat the reluctance in the lower orders to leave their homes, that
inducements too highly coloured in many instances, have been held out to
them, the consequence of which has been that many, whose expectations
were excited, suffered proportionate disappointment at the outset of
their career as emigrants. Convinced of the injurious tendency of such a
practice, and regarding it as a culpable and cruel mockery of
misfortunes, which, having been unavoidable, claim our best sympathies, I
should not have said so much as I have done on this important subject,
had I not felt justified in so doing. The reader may rest assured that to
the sober, the honest, and the industrious, the certainty of success in
South Australia is beyond all doubt. An individual with these qualities
may experience disappointment on landing, but he must recollect that this
is always a period of anxiety, and the circumstances in which he first
finds himself placed, may not come up to his expectations; his useful
qualities and regular habits cannot be immediately known, and we seldom
alter our condition, even for the better, without some trouble or
vexation.

I have, in the course of my remarks, in my recommendation of the
Australian colonies as being favourable to the views of emigrants, given
a preference to South Australia. I have done so because I am better
acquainted with its condition than with that of either of the other
settlements. Of it I have spoken as to what I know; but, of the others,
to a great extent, from hearsay. The character however of those colonies
needs no recommendation from me. As far as its pastoral and agricultural
capabilities go, I believe Port Phillip to be as fine a district as any
in the world. The advantages indeed of the Australian colonies must be
nearly equal, from the fact that the pursuits of their respective
inhabitants are so nearly the same. Local circumstances may give some
parts of the continent a preference over others, but, as points of
emigration there is little choice. The southern portions are not subject
to the withering droughts to which parts of the eastern coast are liable,
and may be preferred on that account, but still there are districts in
New South Wales as unexceptionable as any in Port Phillip or South
Australia.

It now remains to make some observations on the present state of society
in the last-mentioned colony; for it appears to me, that in order to give
a correct picture of it, some notice on that head is required. I think
too, I am the more called upon to do so, because many very mistaken
notions are held of it. As in most of Her Majesty's possessions, so in
South Australia, the Government officers form a prominent, and I may say,
distinct class. Colonel Robe, the late Governor of the province, made
Government House the seat of the most unmeasured hospitality, which he
exercised beyond the point to which there was any public call upon him.
His table was covered with every delicacy the season could afford, his
wines were of the very best, and there was a quiet but effective manner
about him, which gained universal esteem. As a soldier, he was
exceedingly particular in the order and appearance of his establishment,
nor was there anything wanting to complete the comfort of it. The number
of the colonists who assembled round him occasionally, was from 50 to 60;
on more public festive occasions they exceeded 300, and I may add, that
on both, the scene differed not in the slightest degree from that of
similar parties in this country, save that there was less of formality in
the interchange of friendly communications between the visitors. Except
also in giving a tone to society, and setting an irreproachable example
to the community, the officers of the Government are exceedingly retired,
their salaries are too limited to enable them to follow the example of
their chief.

They live quietly, and as gentlemen, are ever happy to see their friends,
but public parties are seldom given by any of them. Prudence indeed calls
upon them to refrain from those displays, which they cannot reasonably
afford, and the consequence was, that a warmer intimacy existed in their
quiet intercourse with each other, than could have sprung from more
formal entertainments.

The truth is, the salaries of the Government officers, bear no proportion
to the means of the majority of the settlers, who have risen into
affluence from a combination of circumstances, that have been
unprecedented in the history of colonization. There are few private
individuals in the province, who have not, at one time or other,
benefited by some speculation, but I am not aware that any one of the
Government officers have any private interests in the colony, if I except
the possession of a section or two of land, on which they have built and
reside, nor do I know that any of them have allowed a spirit of
speculation to interfere with public duties.

Amongst the leading or upper classes of society, there are many very
estimable persons. I do not mention names, but my recollection will bear
me back to the many happy days I have spent with them, and certainly any
one not desiring an extended circle of acquaintance could no where,
whether amongst gentlemen or the ladies, find individuals more worthy of
his regard or friendship than in the still limited society of South
Australia.

Many of the tradesmen having succeeded in business, or acquired an
independence from their interests in the mines, have retired, and live in
suburban residences, which they have built in well selected situations,
and with considerable taste. Attached to the customs of Home, many of the
citizens of Adelaide possess carriages of one kind or another, and are
fond of devoting their Sunday evenings to visiting places in the
neighbourhood. As regards the lower classes, I do not think there is in
any of Her Majesty's possessions, a greater amount of mechanical genius
and enterprise than amongst the mechanics of South Australia. I speak
confidently on this head, since I have had very many points referred to
me, which have long satisfied me of this fact.

There are many societies in South Australia, of which the lower orders
are members, all of them tending to promote social interests. The order
of Odd Fellows is prominent amongst these, and spreads a feeling
throughout all classes which cannot fail of doing good, for the charities
of this order are extensive, and it supports a well-attended school.
Taking then the lower orders of the province in the aggregate, they may
be said to be thoroughly English, both in their habits and principles.

In speaking of the upper classes I did not notice a portion of them
included under the denomination of the "Squatters." It is a name that
grates harshly on the ear, but it conceals much that is good behind it;
they in truth are the stockholders of the province, those in whom its
greatest interests would have been vested if the mines had not been
discovered. Generally speaking, the squatters are young men who, rather
than be a burthen on their families, have sought their fortunes in
distant lands, and carried out with them almost to the Antipodes the
finest principles and feelings of their forefathers. With hearts as warm
as the climate in which they live, with a spirit to meet any danger, and
an energy to carry them through any reverse of fortune, frank, generous,
and hospitable, the squatters of the Australian colonies are undoubtedly
at the head of their respective communities, and will in after days form
the landed, as they do now the pastoral interests, from whom every thing
will be expected that is usually required of an English country
gentleman. Circumstanced as they are at the present moment, most of them
leading a solitary life in the bush, and separated by such distances from
each other as almost to preclude the possibility of intercourse, they are
thus cut off as it were from society, which tends to give them feelings
that are certainly prejudicial to their future social happiness, but I
would fain hope that the time is coming round when these gentlemen will
see that they have it very much in their own power to shorten the
duration of many of the sacrifices they are now called upon to make, and
that they will look to higher and to more important duties than those
which at present engage their attention.

The views taken by the late Sir George Gipps of the state of society in
the distant interior of New South Wales is perfectly correct, nor can
there be any doubt but that it entails evils on the stock-holders
themselves which, on an abstract view of the question, I cannot help
thinking they have it in their power to lessen, or entirely to remove,
when an influx of population shall take place; but, however regular their
establishments may be, they cannot, as single men, have the same
influence over those whom they employ, or the settlers around them, as if
they were married; for it is certainly true, that the presence of females
puts a restraint on the most vicious, and that wherever they are,
especially in a responsible character, they must do good. I do not know
anything, indeed, that would more conduce to the moral improvement of the
settlers, and people around them, than that squatters should permanently
fix themselves, and embrace that state in which they can alone expect
their homes to have real attractions. That they will ultimately settle
down to this state there cannot, I think, be a doubt, and however
repugnant it may be to them at the present moment to rent lands, on the
occupation of which any conditions of purchase is imposed, I feel assured
that many of the squatters will hereafter have cause to thank the
Secretary of State for having anticipated their future wants, and enabled
them to secure permanent and valuable interests on such easy terms.
Nothing, it appears to me, can be more convincing in proof of the real
anxiety of Earl Grey for the well being of the Australian provinces than
the late regulations for the occupation of crown lands.

I believe I am right in stating that every word of those regulations was
penned by Earl Grey himself, and certainly, apart from local prejudices,
I am sure a disinterested person would admit the care and thought they
evince, and how calculated they are to promote the best interests of the
squatters, and the future social and moral improvement of the people
under their influence. There seems to me to run throughout the whole of
these regulations an earnest desire to place the stockholder on a sure
footing, and to remove all causes of anxiety arising from the precarious
tenure upon which they formerly held property.

There is another division of the population of South Australia I have
hitherto omitted to mention, I mean the German emigrants. They now number
more than 2000, and therefore form no inconsiderable portion of the
population of the province. These people have spread over various
districts, but still live in communities, having built five or six
villages.

The Germans of South Australia are quiet and inoffensive, frugal and
industrious. They mix very little with the settlers, and, regarded as a
portion of the community, are perhaps too exclusive, as not taking a due
share in the common labour, or rendering their assistance on occasions
when the united strength of the working classes is required to secure a
general good--as the gathering in of the harvest, or such similar
occasions. Their religious observances are superintended by different
pastors, all of them very respectable persons. The oldest of these is Mr.
Kavel, to whom the Germans look with great confidence, and hold in
deserved esteem. Many of the Germans have been naturalized, and have
acquired considerable property in various parts of the province, but very
few have taken to business, or reside in Adelaide as shopkeepers. The
women bring their market or farm produce into the city on their backs,
generally at an early hour of the morning, and the loads some of them
carry are no trifle. Here, however, as in their native country, the women
work hard, and certainly bear their fair proportion of labour. The houses
of the Germans are on the models of those of their native country, and
are so different in appearance from the general style, as to form really
picturesque objects. There is nowhere about Adelaide a prettier ride than
through the village of Klemzig, on the right bank of the Torrens, that
having been the first of the German settlements. The easy and unmolested
circumstances of these people should make them happy, and lead them to
rejoice that in flying from persecution at home they were guided to such
a country as that in which they now dwell, and I have no doubt that as a
moral and religious people, they are thankful for their good fortune, and
duly appreciate the blessings of Providence.

My anxiety to raise the character of the natives of Australia, in the
eyes of the civilized world, and to exhibit them in a more favourable
light than that in which they are at present regarded, induces me, before
I close these volumes, to adduce a few instances of just and correct
feeling evinced by them towards myself, which ought, I think, to have
this effect and to satisfy the unprejudiced mind that their general ideas
of right and wrong are far from being erroneous, and that, whatever their
customs may be, they should not, as a people, occupy so low a place in
the scale of human society, as that which has been assigned to them. I am
quite aware that there have been individual instances of brutality
amongst them, that can hardly be palliated even in savage life--that they
have disgusting customs--that they are revengeful and addicted to theft.
Still I would say they have redeeming qualities; for the first, I would
fain believe that the horrors of which they have been guilty, are local;
for the last, I do not see that they are worse than other uncivilized
races. Treachery and cunning are inherent in the breast of every savage.
I question, indeed, if they are not considered by them as cardinal
virtues; but, admitting the Australian native to have the most unbridled
passions, instances can be adduced of their regard for truth and honesty,
that ought to weigh in any general estimate we may form of their
character. No European living, not even Mr. Eyre, has seen so many of the
Aborigines of the Australian continent as myself; and that, too, under
circumstances when strife might have been expected; and no man certainly
has had less reason to complain of them. If my party has ever been
menaced by these people, if we have ever had their spears raised in
hundreds against us, it has been because they have been taken by
surprise, and have acted under the influence of fear. If I had rushed on
these poor people, I should have received their weapons, and have been
obliged to raise my arm against them, but, by giving them time to recover
from their surprise, allowing them to go through their wonted ceremonies,
and, by pacific demonstrations, hostile collisions have been avoided. If
I had desired a conflict, the inclination might have been indulged
without the fear of censure, but I saw no credit, no honour to be gained
by such a course, and I therefore refrained. I can look back to my
intercourse with the Australian aborigines, under a consciousness that I
never injured one of them, and that the cause of humanity has not
suffered at my hands;--but, I am travelling out of my proper course, and
beg the reader to excuse me, it is for him, I allow, not for me, to draw
such conclusions.

I have said, that I thought I could adduce instances of a regard for
justice and honesty that would weigh in favour of the Australian native.
As one instance, let me ask, if anything could have been more just, than
the feeling which prompted the native to return the blanket one of his
tribe had stolen from the camp on the banks of the Castlereagh, as
detailed in my former work, vol. i. page 141. The man who restored the
lost property was apprehensive of danger, from the fact of his having
come armed, and from his guarded and menacing attitude when the soldier
approached to ascertain what he wanted. Had he been the father of the
thief, we could only have said that it was a singular proof of honest
pride by a single individual, but such was not the case, the whole tribe
participated in the same feeling, for we learnt from them, that the thief
had been punished and expelled their camp. Could anything have been more
noble than the conduct of the native, who remained neuter, and separated
himself from them, when the tribes attempted to surprise my camp on the
Murrumbidgee, because I had made him presents as I went down that river,
vol. ii. page 212. On the other hand, could anything have been more just
than the punishment inflicted on the boy who stole my servant Davenport's
blanket at Fort Grey? as mentioned in the present work; or the decision
of the two sons of the Boocolo of Williorara, as regarded the conveyance
of our letter-bag to Lake Victoria? Here are broad instances of honesty
that would do credit to any civilized nation. Surely men, who can so
feel, should not be put lowest in the scale of the human race? It is true
that all attempts to improve the social condition of the Australian
native has failed, but where is the savage nation with which we have
succeeded better? The natives of New Zealand will perhaps be the only
instance, in modern times, of a barbarous race surviving the introduction
of civilization amongst them. Without venturing to compare the natives of
Australia, to a people so much superior, I would only claim for them a
due share of consideration. All I can say is that they have submitted to
our occupation of their country with a forbearance that commands our best
sympathies.

It will be borne in mind, that I have not here spoken of their personal
appearance. That that generally is against them, cannot be doubted. If
there is any truth in phrenology, they must have their share of the
brutal passions. The whole appearance of the cranium indeed, would lead
to the conclusion that they possess few of the intellectual faculties;
but, in a savage state, these are seldom called forth. They are,
nevertheless, capable of strong attachment, are indulgent parents, and
certainly evince a kindly feeling towards their relations, are
improvident and generous, having no thought for the morrow. On the other
hand, they are revengeful and crafty, and treat their wives with much
harshness, imposing on them the burthen of almost everything: that man
being considered the richest who has the greatest number, because he can
sit in his hut, and send them out to procure food.

I think it is agreed on all hands that the natives of Australia are
sprung from the same parent stock. Their personal appearance and customs,
if not their dialects, shew this. From what race they originally sprang
it is more difficult to determine, for there is not one of the great
families into which the human race has been divided, with which they may
properly be classed. With such features as they generally possess, in the
flattened nose, thick lip, and overhanging brow, one can hardly fancy
that they would be good looking, but I certainly have seen very good
looking men amongst them--I may say tribes, indeed, on the Darling for
instance, and on the Murrumbidgee, (see page 53, vol. ii. of my last
work.) The men on Cooper's Creek were fine rather than handsome.
Generally speaking, the natives have beautiful teeth, and their eye,
though deep sunk, is full of fire. Although their muscular development is
bad, they must have a very remarkable strength of sinew, or they could
not otherwise raise themselves, as they do, on so slender a footing in
climbing up the trees, and in many other occupations. I have read in
several authors that the natives of Australia have woolly hair. This is a
mistake; their hair is as fine and as curly as that of an European, but
its natural beauty is destroyed by filth and neglect. Nothing can prove
its strength more than the growth of their beards, which project from
their chins, and are exceedingly stiff.

In many places the natives have but a scanty and precarious subsistence,
which may in some measure account for the paucity of their numbers in
some localities. In many parts of the country in which I have been I feel
satisfied they can seldom procure animal food, as they would not
otherwise resort to the use of some things which no time could, I should
imagine, make palateable. Their dexterity at the chase is very great,
although in hunting the kangaroo they become so nervous that they
frequently miss their mark. I have seen them sink under water and bring
up a fish writhing on the short spear they use on such occasions, which
they have struck either in the forehead, or under the lateral fin, with
unerring precision. Still some of our people come pretty close to them in
many of their exercises of the chase, and the young settlers on the
Murray very often put them to the blush. At the head of them is Mr.
Scott, Mr. Eyre's companion, who has now succeeded him in the post at
Moorundi. There is not a native on the river so expert in throwing the
spear, in taking kangaroo or fish, or in the canoe, as he is. His spear
is thrown with deadly precision, and he has so mixed with the natives,
that he may be said to be one of themselves, having the most unbounded
influence over them, and speaking their language as fluently as
themselves. Mr. Scott is at the same time very firm and decided, and is
exceedingly respected by the settlers on the Murray. Under such
circumstances it is to be hoped he will emulate Mr. Eyre and effect much
good among his sable friends. Their devotion and attachment to him is
very remarkable, and every native on the Murray knows "Merrili," as he is
called.

One great cause of the deaths amongst the Aborigines is their liability
to pulmonary diseases from being constantly in the water. They are much
annoyed by rain, nor will any thing induce them to stir during wet
weather, but they sit shivering in their huts even in the height of
summer. There is no people in the world so unprovided against inclemency
or extremes of weather as they are. They have literally nothing to cover
them, to protect them from the summer heat or the winter's cold; nor
would any charity be greater than to supply these poor people with
clothing. A few blankets, a few Guernsey shirts, and woollen trowsers,
would be to them a boon of the first importance, and I would that my
voice in their favour could induce the many who are humane and charitable
here to devote a small portion of that which they bestow in works and
purposes of charity to think of these children of the desert. It is only
by accustoming them to comforts, and to implements which they cannot
afterwards do without, to supersede as it were their former customs, that
we can hope to draw them towards civilized man and civilization; for what
inducement has the savage with his wild freedom and uncontrolled will, to
submit to restraint, unless he reap some advantage?

The yearly and monthly distribution of blankets and of flour to the
natives at Moorundi is duly appreciated. They now possess many things
which they prefer to their own implements. The fish-hooks they procure
from the Europeans are valued by them beyond measure, since they prevent
the necessity of their being constantly in the water, and you now see the
river, at the proper season, lined by black anglers, and the quantity of
fish they take is really astonishing, and those too of the finest kinds.
I once saw Mr. Scott secure a Murray cod, floating on the top of the
water, that weighed 72lbs. This beautiful and excellent fish is figured
in Mitchell's first work. It is a species of perch, and is very abundant,
as well as several others of its own genus, that are richer but smaller;
the general size of the cod varying from 15lbs. to 25lbs.

The manners and customs of the natives have been so well and so
faithfully recorded by Mr. Eyre that I need not dwell on them here. My
views have been philanthropic, my object, to explain the manner in which
I have succeeded in communicating with such of them as had never before
seen Europeans, in order to ensure to the explorer, if possible, the
peaceable results I myself have experienced. There are occasions when
collisions with the natives are unavoidable, but I speak as to general
intercourse. I feel assured no man can perform his duty as an explorer,
who is under constant apprehension of hostility from the people through
whose country he is passing.

The province of South Australia could never at any time have been thickly
inhabited. There are some numerous tribes on the sea-coast at the head of
the Gulfs and in Encounter Bay, as well as on the Murray River, but with
the exception of a few scattered families on the northern hills, and in
the scrub, the mountain ranges are, and it appears to me have been,
almost uninhabited. There are no old or recent signs of natives having
frequented the hills, no marks of tomahawks on the trees, or of digging
on the flats. The Mount Lofty ranges, indeed, are singularly deficient of
animal life, and seem to be incapable of affording much subsistence to
the savage, however luxuriant and beneficial the harvest they now yield.

The Adelaide tribe is not numerous; they occupy a portion of the Park
lands, called the native location, and every encouragement has been given
them to establish themselves in comfort on it, but they prefer their wild
roving habits to any fixed pursuit. Nevertheless, they are variously
employed by the townspeople, in carrying burthens, in cutting up wood, in
drawing water, and similar occupations; and, independently of any
assistance they may receive from the Government, earn an immense quantity
of food from the citizens. The natives properly belonging to the Adelaide
tribe are all more or less clothed, nor are they permitted by the police
to appear otherwise, and as far as their connection with the settlers
goes, they are fast falling into habits of order, and understand that
they cannot do any thing improper with impunity.

The Murray tribe, as well as the tribes from the south, frequently visit
their friends near the capital, and on such occasions some scene of
violence or dispute generally ensues. Frequently the abduction of a
lubra, or of an unmarried female of another tribe, brings about a
quarrel, and on such occasions some angry fighting is sure to follow; and
so long as that custom remains, there is little hope of improvement
amongst them. The subject of ameliorating their condition is, however,
one of great difficulty, because it cannot be done without violating
those principles of freedom and independence on which it is so
objectionable to infringe; but when a great ultimate good is to be
obtained, I cannot myself see any objection to those restraints, and that
interference which should bring it about. There is nowhere, not even in
Sydney, more attention paid to the native population than in South
Australia, and if they stand a chance of improvement it is there. Whilst
every kindness is shewn to the adult portion, the children are under the
direct care of the Government. There is, as I have elsewhere stated, a
school, at which from thirty to forty boys and girls attend. Nothing can
be more regular or more comfortable than this institution. The children
are kindly treated, and very much encouraged, and really to go into it as
a visitor, one would be disposed to encourage the most sanguine
expectations of success. As far as the elementary principles of education
go, the native children are far from deficient. They read, write, and
cypher as well as European children of their own age, and, generally
speaking, are quiet and well behaved; but it is to be regretted that, as
far as our experience goes, they can advance no farther; when their
reason is taxed, they fail, and consequently appear to be destitute of
those finer qualifications and principles on which both moral feeling and
social order are based. It is however questionable with me whether this
is not too severe a construction to put on their intellect, and whether,
if the effect of ancient habits were counteracted, we should find the
same mental defect.

At present, the native children have free intercourse with their parents,
and with their tribe. The imaginations of the boys are inflamed by seeing
all that passes in a native camp, and they long for that moment, when,
like their countrymen, they will be free to go where they please, and to
join in the hunt or the fray. The girls are told that they are betrothed,
and that, at a certain age, they must join their tribe. The voice of
Nature is stronger even than that of Reason. Why therefore should we be
surprised at the desertion of the children from the native schools? But
it will be asked--What is to be done? The question, as I have said, is
involved in difficulty, because, in my humble opinion, the only remedy
involves a violation, for a time at all events, of the natural
affections, by obliging a complete separation of the child from its
parents; but, I must confess, I do not think that any good will result
from the utmost perseverance of philanthropy, until such is the case,
that is, until the children are kept in such total ignorance of their
forefathers, as to look upon them as Europeans do, with astonishment and
sympa