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The History of Australian Exploration from 1788 to 1888 by Ernest Favenc

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Produced by Col Choat.

The History of Australian Exploration from 1788 to 1888.

Complied from State Documents, Private Papers and the
most authentic sources of information.
Issued under the auspices of the Government of the
Australian Colonies.


Ernest Favenc.

Turner and Henderson






A complete history of the exploration of Australia will never be written.
The story of the settlement of our continent is necessarily so intermixed
with the results of private travels and adventures, that all the
historian can do is to follow out the career of the public expeditions,
and those of private origin which extended to such a distance, and
embraced such important discoveries, as to render the results matters of
national history.

That private individuals have done the bulk of the detail work there is
no denying; but that work, although every whit as useful to the community
as the more brilliant exploits that carried with them the publicity of
Government patronage, has not found the same careful preservation.

To find the material to write such a history would necessitate the work
of a lifetime, and the co-operation of hundreds of old colonists; and,
when written, it would inevitably, from the nature of the subject, prove
most monotonous reading, and fill, I am afraid to think, how many
volumes. The reader has but to consider the immense area of country now
under pastoral occupation, and to remember that each countless
subordinate river and tributary creek was the result of some extended
research of the pioneer squatter, to realise this.

Since the hope of finding an inland sea, or main central range, vanished
for ever, the explorer cannot hope to discover anything much more
exciting or interesting than country fitted for human habitation. The
attributes of the native tribes are very similar throughout. Since the
day when Captain Phillip and his little band settled down here and tried
to gain the friendship of the aboriginal, no startling difference has
been found in him throughout the continent. As he was when Dampier came
to our shores, so is he now in the yet untrodden parts of Australia, and
the explorer knows that from him he can only gain but a hazardous and
uncertain tale of what lies beyond.

But, in this utter want of knowledge of the country to be explored, where
even the physical laws do not assimilate with those of other continents,
lies the great charm of Australian exploration. It is the spectacle of
one man pitted against the whole force of nature--not the equal struggle
of two human antagonists, but the old fable of the subtle dwarf and the
self-confident giant.

When the battle commenced between Sturt and the interior, he was, as he
thought, vanquished, though in reality the victor.

In the history of exploration are to be found some of the brightest
examples of courage and fortitude presented by any record. In the
succeeding pages I have tried to bring these episodes prominently to the
fore, and bestow upon them the meed of history.

In compiling this book I have had the sympathy of many gentlemen, both in
this and the neighbouring colonies, and my best thanks are due to them,
especially as, owing to it, I have been able to make the work perfectly
authentic, and I trust, a thoroughly reliable work of reference.

SYDNEY, 1888.




Part I
Rumours of the existence of a Southern Continent in the Sixteenth
Century--JAVE and JAVE LA GRANDE--Authentic Discoveries and visits of
the early Navigators--Torres sails between New Guinea and Terra
Australis--Voyage of the DUYFHEN in 1606--Dirk Hartog on the West Coast,
his inscribed plate--Restored by Vlaming--Afterwards by Hamelin--Nuyts on
the South Coast--Wreck of the BATAVIA on Houtman's Abrolhos--Mutiny of
Cornelis--Tasman's second voyage--Dampier with the Buccaneers--Second
Voyage in the ROEBUCK--Last visit of the Dutch--Captain Cook--Flinders;
his theory of a Dividing Strait--Plans for exploring the Interior--His
captivity--Captain King--Concluding remarks.

Part II
The Continent of Australia--Its peculiar formation--The coast range and
the highest peaks thereof--The coastal rivers--The inland rivers--
Difference of vegetation on the tableland and on the coast--Exception to
the rule--Valuable timber of the coast districts--Animals common to the
whole continent--Some birds the same--Distinct habits of others--The
Australian native and his unknown origin--Water supply--Upheaval.


Chapter I [1788-1803]

Expeditions of Governor Phillip--Mouth of the Hawkesbury found in Broken
Bay--Second expedition and ascent of the river--Expedition of Captain
Tench--Discovery of the Nepean River--Lieutenant Dawes sent to cross the
Nepean, and to try to penetrate the mountains--Attempt by Governor
Phillip to establish the confluence of the Nepean and Hawkesbury--
Failure--The identity settled by Captain Tench--Escaped convicts try to
reach China--Captain Paterson finds and names the Grose River--Hacking
endeavours to cross the Blue Mountains--The lost cattle found on the
Cow Pastures--Bass attempts the passage of the range--Supposed settlement
of a white race in the interior--Attempt of the convicts to reach it--
James Wilson--His life with the natives--Discovery of the Hunter River
by Lieutenant Shortland.

Chapter II [1813-1824]

The great drought of 1813--The development of country by stocking--
Blaxland, Lawson, and Wentworth cross the Blue Mountains--Reach
the head of coast waters and return--Surveyor Evans sent out--Crosses the
watershed and finds the Macquarie River--Construction of road over the
range--Settlement of Bathurst--Visit of Governor Macquarie--Second
expedition under Evans--Discovery of the Lachlan River--Surveyor-General
Oxley explores the Lachlan--Finds the river terminates in swamps--Returns
by the Macquarie--His opinion of the interior--Second expedition down the
Macquarie--Disappointment again--Evans finds the Castlereagh--Liverpool
Plains discovered--Oxley descends the range and finds Port Macquarie--
Returns to Newcastle-Currie and Ovens cross the Morumbidgee--Brisbane
Downs and Monaroo--Hume and Hovell cross to Port Phillip--Success of
the expedition.

Chapter III [to 1830]

Settlement of Moreton Bay--Cunningham in the field again--His discoveries
of the Gwydir, Dumaresque, and Condamine Rivers--The Darling Downs, and
Cunningham's Gap through the range to Moreton Bay--Description of the
Gap--Cunningham's death--Captain Sturt--His first expedition to follow
down the Macquarie--Failure of the river--Efforts of Sturt and Hume to
trace the channel--Discovery of New Year's Creek (the Bogan)--Come
suddenly on the Darling--Dismay at finding the water salt--Retreat to
Mount Harris--Meet the relief party--Renewed attempt down the Castlereagh
River--Trace it to the Darling--Find the water in that river still
salt--Return--Second expedition to follow the Morumbidgee--Favourable
anticipations--Launch of the boats and separation of the party--Unexpected
junction with the Murray--Threatened hostilities with the natives--Averted
in a most singular manner--Junction of large river from the North--Sturt's
conviction that it is the Darling--Continuation of the voyage--Final
arrival at Lake Alexandrina--Return voyage--Starvation and fatigue--
Constant labour at the oars and stubborn courage of the men--Utter
exhaustion--Two men push forward to the relief party and return with

Chapter IV [to 1836]

Settlement at King George's Sound--The free colony of Swan River
founded--Governor Stirling--Captain Bannister crosses from Perth to King
George's Sound--Explorations by Lieutenant Roe--Disappointing nature of
the interior--Bunbury, Wilson, and Moore--Settlement on the North
Coast--Melville Island and Raffles Bay--An escaped convict's story--The
fabulous Kindur River--Major Mitchell starts in search of it--Discovery
of the Namoi--The Nundawar Range--Failure of the boats--Reach the Gwydir
River of Cunningham--The KARAULA--Its identity with the Darling--Murder
of the two bullock-drivers--Mitchell's return--Murder of Captain Barker
in Encounter Bay--Major Mitchell's second expedition to trace the course
of the Darling--Traces the Bogan to its junction with that river--Fort
Bourke--Progress down the river--Hostility of the natives--Skirmish with
them--Return--Mitchell's third expedition--The Lachlan followed--Junction
of the Darling and the Murray reached--Mitchell's discovery of Australia

Chapter V [to 1841]

Lieutenants Grey and Lushington on the West Coast--Narrow escape--Start
with an equipment of Timor ponies--Grey wounded by the natives--Cave
drawings--Return, having discovered the Glenelg--Grey's second
expedition--Landed at Bernier Island, in Shark's Bay, with three
whale-boats--Cross to borne Island--Violent storm--Discovery of the
Gascoyne--Return to Bernier Island--Find their CACHÉ of provisions
destroyed by a hurricane--Hopeless position--Attempted landing at
Gautheaume Bay--Destruction of the boats--Walk to Perth--Great
sufferings--Death of Smith--Eyre and the overlanders--Discovery of Lake
Hindmarsh--Exploration of Gippsland--Eyre's explorations to the
north--Discovery of Lake Torrens--Disappointment in the country bordering
on it--Determines to go to King George's Sound--Repeated attempts to
reach the head of the Great Australian Bight--Loss of horses--Barren and
scrubby country--Final determination to send back most of the party--
Starts with overseer and three natives--Hardship and suffering--Murder of
the overseer by two of the natives--Eyre continues his journey with the
remaining boy--Relieved by the MISSISSIPPI whaler--Reaches King George's

Chapter VI [to 1846]

Explorations around Moreton Bay--Development of the Eastern Coast--The
first pioneers of the Darling Downs--Stuart and Sydenham Russell--The
Condamine River and Cecil Plains--Great interest taken in exploration at
this period--Renewed explorations around Lake Torrens--Surveyor-General
Frome--Death of Horrocks, the first explorer to introduce camels--Sturt's
last expedition--Route by the Darling chosen--Poole fancies that he sees
the inland sea--Discovery of Flood's Creek--The prison depôt--Impossible
to advance or retreat--Breaking up of the drought--Death of Poole--Fresh
attempts to the north--The desert--Eyre's Creek discovered--Return and
fresh attempt--Discoveries of Cooper and Strzelecki Creeks--Retreat to
the Depôt Glen--Final return to the Darling--Ludwig Leichhardt the lost
explorer--His great trip north--Finding of the Burdekin, the Mackenzie,
Isaacs and Suttor--Murder of the naturalist Gibert--Discovery of the Gulf
Rivers--Arrival at Port Essington--His return and reception--
Surveyor-General Mitchell's last expedition--Follows up the Balonne--
Crosses to the head of the Belyando--Disappointed in that river--Returns
and crosses to the head of the Victoria (Barcoo)--The beautiful Downs
country--First mention of the Mitchell grass--False hopes entertained
of the Victoria running into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Chapter VII [to 1854]

Kennedy traces the Victoria in its final course south--Re-named the
Barcoo--First notice of the PITURI chewing natives--Leichhardt's second
Expedition--Failure and Return--Leichhardt's last Expedition--His
absolute disappearance--Conjectures as to his fate--Kennedy starts from
Rockingham Bay to Cape York--Scrubs and swamps--Great exertions--Hostile
natives--Insufficiency of supplies provided--Dying horses--Main party
left in Weymouth Bay--Another separation at Shelburne Bay--Murder of
Kennedy at the Escape River--Rescue of Jacky the black boy--His pathetic
tale of suffering--Failure to find the camp at Shelburne Bay--Rescue of
but two survivors at Weymouth Bay--The remainder starved to death--Von
Mueller in the Australian Alps--Western Australia--Landor and Lefroy, in
1843--First expedition of the brothers Gregory, in 1846--Salt lakes and
scrub--Lieutenant Helpman sent to examine the coal seam discovered--Roe,
in 1848--His journey to the east and to the south--A. C. Gregory attempts
to reach the Gascoyne--Foiled by the nature of the country--Discovers
silver ore on the Murchison--Governor Fitzgerald visits the mine--Wounded
by the natives--Rumour of Leichhardt having been murdered by the
blacks--Hely's expedition in quest of him--Story unfounded--Austin's
explorations in Western Australia--Terrible scrubs--Poison camp--
Determined efforts to the north--Heat and thirst--Forced to return.

Chapter VIII [to 1861]

A. C. Gregory's North Australian expedition in 1855-56, accompanied by
Baron Von Mueller and Dr. Elsey--Disappointment in the length of 'the
Victoria--Journey to the Westward--Discovery of Sturt's Creek--Its course
followed south--Termination in a salt lake--Return to Victoria River
--Start homeward, overland--The Albert identified--The Leichhardt
christened--Return by the Burdekin and Suttor--Visit of Babbage to Lake
Torrens--Expedition by Goyder--Deceived by mirage--Excitement in
Adelaide--Freeling sent out--Discovers the error--Hack explores the
Gawler Range--Discovers Lake Gairdner--Warburton in the same
direction--Swinden and party west of Lake Torrens--Babbage in the Lake
District--His long delay--Warburton sent to supersede him--Rival claims
to discovery--Frank Gregory explores the Gascoyne in Western Australia
--A. C. Gregory follows the Barcoo in search of Leichhardt--Discovery
of a marked tree--Arrival in Adelaide--The early explorations of M'Dowall
Stuart--Frank Gregory at Nickol Bay--Discovers the Ashburton--Fine
pastoral country--Discovers the De Grey and Oakover Rivers--Turned back
by the desert--Narrow escape.

Chapter IX [to 1861]

Across the continent, from south to north--M'Dowall Stuart's first
attempt to reach the north coast--Native warfare--Chambers' Pillar--
Central Mount Stuart--Singularfootprint--Sufferings from thirst--
Aboriginal Freemasons--Attack Creek--Return--Stuart's second departure--
The Victorian expedition--Costly equipment--Selection of a leader--Burke,
and his qualifications for the post--Wills--Resignation of Landells--
Wright left in charge of the main party--Burke and Wills, with six
men, push on to Cooper's Creek--Delay of Wright--Burke's final
determination to push on to the north coast--Starts with Wills and two
men--Progress across the continent--Arrival at the salt water--Wills'
account--Homeward journey--The depôt deserted--Resolve to make for Mount
Hopeless--Failure and return--Wills revisits the depôt--Kindness of the
natives--Burke and King start in search of the blacks--Death of
Burke--King finds Wills dead on his return--Wright and Brahe visit the
depôt--Fail to see traces of Burke's return--Consternation in
Melbourne--Immediate despatch of search parties--Howitt finds
King--Narrow escape of trooper Lyons--Stuart in the north--Hedgewood
scrub first seen--Discovery of Newcastle waters--All attempts to the
north fruitless--Return of Stuart.

Chapter X [to 1863]

Stuart's last Expedition--Frew's Pond--Daly Waters--Arrival at the
Sea--The flag at last hoisted on the northern shore--Return--Serious
illness of the Leader--The Burke relief Expedition--John M'Kinlay--Native
rumours--Discovery of Gray's body--Hodgkinson sent to Blanche Water with
the news--Returns with the information of King's rescue by Howitt--
M'Kinlay starts north--Reaches the Gulf coast--Makes for the new
Queensland settlements on the Burdekin--Reaches the Bowen River in
safety--Mystery of the camel's tracks--Landsborough's expedition--
Discovery of the Gregory River--The Herbert--Return to the Albert depôt--
News of Burke and Wills--Landsborough reduces his party and starts home
overland--Returns by way of the Barcoo--Landsborough and his critics--His
work as an Explorer--Walker starts from Rockhampton--Another L tree
found on the Barcoo--Walker crosses the head of the Flinders--Finds the
tracks of Burke and Wills--Tries to follow them up--Returns to
Queensland--Abandonment of the desert theory--Private expeditions--
Dalrymple and others.

Chapter XI [to 1870]

Settlement formed at Somerset, Cape York, by the Queensland
Government--Expedition of the Brothers Jardine--Start from Carpentaria
Downs Station--Disaster by fire--Reduced resources--Arrive at the coast
of the Gulf--Hostility of the blacks--Continual attacks--Horses mad
through drinking salt water--Poison country--An unfortunate camp--Still
followed by the natives--Rain and bog--Dense scrub--Efforts of the two
brothers to reach Somerset--Final Success--Lull in exploration--Private
parties--Settlement at Escape Cliffs by South Australia--J. M'Kinlay sent
up--Narrow escape from floods--Removal of the settlement to Port
Darwin--M'Intyre's expedition in search of Leichhardt--His death--Hunt in
Western Australia--False reports about traces of Leichhardt--Forrest's
first expedition--Sent to investigate the report of the murder of white
men in the interior--Convinced of its want of truth--Unpromising
country--Second expedition to Eucla--The cliffs of the Great
Bight--Excursion to the north--Safe arrival at Eucla.

Chapter XII [to 1875]

The first expeditions of Ernest Giles--Lake Amadens--Determined attempts
to cross the desert--Death of Gibson--Return-Warburton's expedition--
Messrs. Elder and Hughes--Outfit of camels--Departure from Alice
Springs--Amongst the glens--Waterloo Well--No continuation to
Sturt's Creek--Sufferings from starvation--Fortunate relief from death
by thirst--Arrive at the head of the Oakover--Lewis starts to obtain
succour--His return--Gosse sent out by the South Australian Government--
Exploring bullocks--Ayre's rock--Obliged to retreat--Forrest's expedition
from west to east--Good pastoral country--Windich Springs--The Weld
Springs--Attacked by the natives--Lake Augusta--Dry country--Relieved by
a shower--Safe arrival and great success of the expedition--Ernest
Giles in the field--Elder supplies camels--The longest march ever
made in Australia--Wonderful endurance of the camels--The lonely
desert--Strange discovery of water--Queen Victoria's Spring--The march
renewed--Attacked by blacks--Approach the well-known country in Western
Australia--Safe arrival--Giles returns overland, north of Forrest's
track--Little or no result--Great drought--The western interior.

Chapter XIII [to 1884]

Further explorations around Lake Eyre--Lewis equipped by Sir Thomas
Elder--He traces the lower course of the Diamantina--Expedition to
Charlotte Bay under W. Hann--A survivor of the wreck of the
MARIA--Discovery of the Palmer--Gold prospects found--Arrival on the east
coast--Dense scrub--Return--The Palmer rush--Hodgkinson sent out--Follows
down the Diamantina--Discovery of the Mulligan--Mistaken for the
Herbert--Private expedition--The Messrs. Prout--Buchanan--F. Scarr--The
QUEENSLANDER expedition--A dry belt of country--Native rites--A good game
bag--Arrival at the telegraph line--Alexander Forrest--The Leopold
Range--Caught between the cliffs and the sea--Fine pastoral country
found--Arrival at the Katherine--The Northern Territory and its future.

Chapter XIV [to 1888]

The exploration of the Continent by land almost completed--Minor
expeditions--The Macarthur and other rivers running into Carpentaria
traced--Good country discovered and opened up--Sir Edward Pellew Group
revisited--Lindsay sent out by the S.A. Government to explore Arnheim's
Land--Rough country and great loss of horses--O'Donnell makes an
expedition to the Kimberley district--Sturt and Mitchell's different
experiences with the blacks--Difference in the East and West Coasts--Use
of camels--Opinions about them--The future of the water supply--
Adaptability of the country for irrigation--The great springs of
the Continent--Some peculiarities of them--Hot springs and mound springs.


Chapter XV
Maritime Discoveries

Chapter XVI
Captain Cook compared to former Visitors--Point Hicks--Botany Bay-First
natives seen--Indifference to Overtures--Abundant flora--Entrance to Port
Jackson missed--Endeavour on a reef--Careened--Strange animals--Hostile
natives--A sailor's devil--Possession Island-Territory of New South
Wales--Torres Straits a passage--La Perouse--Probable fate discovered by
Captain Dillon--M'Cluer touches Arnheim's Land--Bligh and Portlock--Wreck
of the Pandora--Vancouver in the south--The D'Entrecasteaux
quest--Recherche Archipelago--Bass and Flinders--Navigation and
exploration extraordinary--The Tom Thumb--Bass explores south--Flinders
in the Great Bight--Bass's Straits--Flinders in the Investigator--Special
instructions--King George's Sound--Lossof boat's crew--Memory
Cove--Baudin's courtesy--Port Phillip--Investigator and Lady Nelson on
East Coast--The Gulf of Carpentaria and early Dutch navigators--Duyfhen
Point--Cape Keer-Weer--Mythical rivers charted--Difficulty in recognising
their landmarks--Flinders' great disappointment--A rotten ship--Return by
way of West Coast--Cape Vanderlin--Dutch Charts--Malay proas,
Pobassoo--Return to Port Jackson--Wreck of the Porpoise--Prisoner by the
French--General de Caen--Private papers and journals
appropriated--Prepares his charts and logs for press--Death--Sympathy by
strangers--Forgotten by Australia--The fate of Bass--Mysterious
disappearance--Supposed Death.

Chapter XVII
The French Expedition--Buonaparte's lavish outfitting--Baudin in the
Géographe--Coast casualties--Sterile and barren appearance--Privations of
the crew--Sails for Timor--Hamelin in the Naturaliste--Explores
North-Western coast--Swan River--Isle of Rottnest--Joins her consort at
Coepang--Sails for Van Dieman's Land--Examination of the South-East coast
of Australia--Flinders' prior visit ignored--French names
substituted--Discontent among crew--Baudin's unpopularity--Bad food--Port
Jackson--Captain King's Voyages--Adventures in the Mermaid--An extensive
commission--Allan Cunningham, botanist--Search at Seal Islands for
memorial of Flinders' visit--Seed sowing--Jeopardy to voyage--Giant
anthills--An aboriginal Stoic--Cape Arnhem and west coast
exploration--Macquarie Strait--Audacity of natives--Botanical results
satisfactory--Malay Fleet--Raffles Bay--Port Essington--Attack by
natives--Cape Van Dieman--Malay Teachings--Timor and its Rajah--Return to
Port--Second Voyage--Mermaid and Lady Nelson--East Coast--Cleveland
Bay--Cocoa-nuts and pumice stones--Endeavour River--Thieving
natives--Geological formation of adjacent country--Remarkable
coincidences--Across Gulf of Carpentaria--Inland excursion--Cambridge
Gulf--Ophthalmia amongst crew--Mermaid returns to port.

Chapter XVIII
King's Third Voyage--Early misadventures--Examines North-West coast
closely--The Mermaid careened--Unforeseen result--Return to Sydney--The
Bathurst--King's Fourth Voyage--Last of the Mermaid--Love's
stratagem--Remarkable cavern--Extraordinary drawings--Chasm
Island--South-West explorations--Revisits his old camp--Rich
vegetation--Greville Island--Skirmish at Hanover Bay--Reminiscence of
Dampier--His notes on the natives and their mode of living--Cape
Levêque--Buccaneers' Archipelago--Provisions run out--Sails for the
Mauritius--Survey of South-West re-commenced--Cape Chatham--Oyster
Harbour anchorage--A native's toilet--Seal hunt--Friendly
intercourse--Cape Inscription--Vandalism--Point Cloates not an
island--Vlaming Head--Rowley Shoals--Cunningham--Botanical
success--Rogers Island closely examined--Mainland traced further--An
amazing escape from destruction--Relinquishment of survey--Sails for
Sydney--Value of King's work--Settlement on Melville Island--Port
Essington--Colonisation--Fort building--A waif--Roguish
visitors--Garrison life--Change of scene--Raffles Bay--Dismal
reports--Failure of attempt.

Chapter XIX
Cruise of H.M.S. Beagle--Passengers Grey and Lushington--Swan
River--Northern coast survey commenced--Supposed channel at Dampier's
Land non-existent--Lieutenant Usborne accidentally shot--King's
Sound--Effects of a rainy season--Point Cunningham--Skeleton of a native
found--New discoveries--Fitzroy River explored--Exciting incident--Boat
excursion to Collier Bay--Swan River--Native steward "Miago"--Amusing
inspection--Meeting with the explorers at Hanover Bay--Lieutenant Grey's
description of native tribes--Miago's memory--Fremantle--Needed
communication--Beagle at Hobart Town--Survey work at Cape
Otway--Exploration of northwest coast--Reminiscences of
colonisation--Discovery of the Adelaide River--A serious comedy--Port
Essington and Clarence Straits--Harbour of Port Darwin named--The
Victoria River--Extravagant hopes--Land party organized--Captain Stokes
speared--Return to Swan River--Beagle again North--Examination of Sweer's
Island--Flinders and Albert Rivers discovered--Inland navigation--Gun
accident--Native mode of burial--Fallacious Theorising--The Beagle's
surveying concluded--Maritime exploration closes.

Chapter XX
Nationality of the first finders of Australia--Knowledge of the
Malays--The bamboo introduced--Traces of smallpox amongst the natives in
the north-west--Tribal rites--Antipathy to pork--Evidence of admixture in
origin--Influence of Asiatic civilisation partly visible--Coast
appearance repelling--Want of indigenous food plants--Lack of intercourse
with other nations--Little now left of unexplored country--Conclusions
respecting various geological formations--Extent of continental
divisions--Development of coastal towns--Inducements for
population--Necessity of the first explorings--Pioneer squatters'
efforts--First Australian-born explorer--Desert theory exploded--Fertile
downs everywhere--Want of water apparently insurmountable--Heroism of
explorers--Inexperience of the early settlers--Grazing possible--Rapid
stocking of country--The barrenness of the "Great Bight"--Sturt, the Penn
of Australia--Results--Mitchell's work--Baron von Mueller's researches--A
salt lake--Stuart first man across the continent--Burke and Wills'
heroism--Services of McKinlay and Landsborough--John Forrest's
journeys--Camel expedition by Giles--The Brisbane Courier
expedition--Further explorations--Stockdale at Cambridge Gulf--Carr-Boyd
and O'Donnell open good country in Western Australia--Work done by
explorers--Their characteristics--Conclusion.


The Pandora Pass
Death of Surveyor-General Oxley
List of Men Comprising Sir Thomas Mitchell's Party in 1846
Richard Cunningham's Fate
Cave Drawings
Smith, a Lad of Eighteen, Found Dead, May 8th, 1839
Eyre's Letters
Extract of Letter from Major Mitchell
Extract of a Letter from Mr. Walter Bagot
The Last Letter Received from Dr. Leichhardt
The Nardoo Plant
The Finding of John King
Poison Plants

Index of Names, Dates and Incidents

Chronological Summary

MAPS AND FAC-SIMILES (Not included in this eBook)

Exploratory Map of Australia
Dauphin Map
Map of Tasman's Track, 1644
Captain Flinders' Letter to Sir J. Banks
Map of Australia in 1818
Extract from Letters--E. J. Eyre, Sir G. Gipps and Sir Thomas Mitchell
Fac-simile of Signatures
Fac-simile of Cave Paintings and Drawings, discovered by
Lieutenant George Grey, 1838


Part I

Rumours of the existence of a Southern Continent in the Sixteenth
Century--JAVE and JAVE LA GRANDE--Authentic Discoveries and visits of
the early Navigators--Torres sails between New Guinea and Terra
Australis--Voyage of the DUYFHEN in 1606--Dirk Hartog on the West Coast,
his inscribed plate--Restored by Vlaming--Afterwards by Hamelin--Nuyts on
the South Coast--Wreck of the BATAVIA on Houtman's Abrolhos--Mutiny of
Cornelis--Tasman's second voyage--Dampier with the Buccaneers--Second
Voyage in the ROEBUCK--Last visit of the Dutch--Captain Cook--Flinders;
his theory of a Dividing Strait--Plans for exploring the Interior--His
captivity--Captain King--Concluding remarks.

The charm of romance and adventure surrounding the discovery of hitherto
unknown lands has from the earliest ages been the lure that has tempted
men to prosecute voyages and travels of exploration. Whether under the
pretext of science, religion or conquest, hardship and danger have alike
been undergone with fortitude and cheerfulness, in the hope of being the
first to find things strange and new, and return to civilized communities
with the tidings.

In the days of Spain's supremacy, after the eyes of Europe had been
dazzled with the sight of riches brought from the New World, and men's
ears filled with fairy-like tales of the wondrous races discovered, it
was but natural that the adventurous gallants of that age should roam in
search of seas yet to be won.

Some such hope of finding a land wherein the glorious conquests of Cortes
and Pizarro could be repeated, brought De Quiros on a quest that led him
almost within hail of our shores. What little realization of his dreams
of cities rich with temples, blazing with barbaric gold, inhabited by
semi-civilized people skilled in strange arts he would have found in the
naked nomads of Terra Australis, and their rude shelters of boughs and
bark we now know; and perhaps, it was as well for the skilful pilot that
he died with his mission unfulfilled, save in fancy. His lieutenant,
Torres, came nearer solving the secret of the Southern Seas, and, in
fact, reports sighting hills to the southward, which--on slight
foundation--are supposed to have been the present Cape York, but more
probably were the higher lands of Prince of Wales Island. In all
likelihood he saw enough of the natives of the Straits to convince him
that no such rich pickings were to be had, as had fallen to the lot of
the lucky conquerors of Mexico and Peru. He came across none of the
legendary canoes from the land of gold, deep laden with the precious
metal, nor sandy beaches strewn with jewels, to be had for the gathering.
He puts on record what he thought of the islanders in the few terse
words, that they were "black, naked and corpulent," beyond that, they do
not seem to have impressed him.

Apparently they, on their part, were not impressed at being informed that
they were thenceforth subjects of the King of Spain, for their dislike to
Europeans appears to have increased as the unfortunate Dutch captains,
Carstens and Poole, afterwards found to their cost. Even the gracious act
of His Holiness the Pope in partitioning these unknown lands between
Spain and Portugal did not meet with the favourable consideration at
their hands that it deserved.

The jealousy with which the maritime nations of Europe guarded their
discoveries from each other has been the means of putting great
difficulties in the way of tracing out the early traditions of the great
South Land. The domineering Spaniard looked upon the Portugese navigator
as a formidable rival in the race for trade; and the sturdy Hollander
they regarded as a natural enemy and a rebel. The generous emulation of
fellow-workers in the cause of scientific discovery was unknown, and the
secrets of the sea were scrupulously kept.

On behalf of Dutch reticence, it may be said that the cause of the
merited hatred they bore to Spain was still too fresh in their memory to
allow them to divulge anything that might possibly benefit a Spaniard.

Sir William Temple, ambassador at the Hague in the time of Charles II.,
gives it as his opinion that "a southern continent has long since been
found out." He avers that, according to descriptions he has gathered, "it
is as long as Java, and is marked on the maps by the name of New Holland,
but to what extent the land extends either to the south, the east, or the
west, none know." He states, that he has heard it said among the Dutch
that their East India Company "have long since forbidden, and under the
greatest penalties, any further attempts at discovering that continent,
having already more trade than they can turn to account, and fearing some
more populous nation of Europe might make great establishments of trade
in some of these unknown regions, which might ruin or impair what they
already have in the Indies."

But although no documentary evidence has been brought to light, proving
beyond all doubt the certain discovery of the South Land in the sixteenth
century, we find on the old charts of the world various tracings
indicating a knowledge of the existence of this continent, which would
appear to have been derived from other than fabulous sources.

A shadowy claim to the honour of being the first discoverer of Terra
Australis has been advanced on behalf of the Frenchman Gonneville, who
sailed from Honfleur in 1503, on a voyage to the East Indies. He is said
to have doubled the Cape of Good Hope, and being driven by stress of
weather into an unknown sea, found a land inhabited by friendly people,
with whom he stayed some time, being accompanied back to France by one of
the king's sons who was desirous of studying the precepts of
Christianity. The general belief, however, is that it was probably
Madagascar whereon De Gonneville landed.

Another claim, based upon the authority of an ancient map, is put forward
for the noted Portugese navigator Magalhaens, when in the service of the
Emperor Charles V. of Spain; but there is little appertaining to the
arguments advanced on behalf of this belief to render it credible.

In some of the old charts, dating back to the middle of the sixteenth
century, a large country south of Java is portrayed, which from its
position appears to be intended for the conjectural South Land. In all
these maps the outlines of this TERRA INCOGNITA are so nearly identical
that it is evident various hydrographers drew their inspirations from the
same sources. The annexed tracing is a copy of a portion of one of the
most ancient of these maps; the original was presented to the British
Museum by Sir Joseph Banks in 1790. It is most carefully drawn, the coast
line being elaborately filled in with names in French, and it is
embellished with drawings of animals and men, being also ornamented with
two shields bearing the arms of France. The map is undated, but was
probably designed in the latter part of the reign of Francis L, for his
son, the Dauphin, afterwards Henry II.

It has been alleged that Captain Cook was guided by these charts to the
eastern shore of New Holland, and the similarity of some of the names
thereon, such as COSTE DES HERBAIGES, and COSTE DANGEROUSE, to names
given by him, has been pointed out. This allegation, however, will not
stand criticism. Botany Bay, for instance, is about the last place that
any one would select to bestow such a name on as COSTE DES HERBAIGES,
which name would signify a rich and fertile spot, certainly not such a
desolate place as Botany Bay was in Captain Cook's time. Captain Tench,
one of the survey party sent there in 1789, writes in his journal:--"We
were unanimously of the opinion that had not the nautical part of Mr.
Cook's description been so accurately laid down, there would exist the
utmost reason to believe that those who have described the contiguous
country had never seen it. On the side of the harbour, a line of sea
coast more than thirty miles long, we did not find two hundred acres
which could be cultivated." Any approximation then in position between
Botany Bay and the fabulous COSTE DES HERBAIGES must be considered as

The generally received opinion of this and the other charts is, that Java
(JAVE) is fairly well laid down, and that Great Java stands for the
supposed South Land. Plausible as this theory reads, it is, however, open
to objection. If it be accepted, and the narrow strait the river GRANDE
be looked upon as that portion of the Indian Ocean dividing Java from the
north-west coast of Australia, any resemblance to the present known shape
of our continent is very hard to trace, unless after a most distorted
fashion. If, however, we make the necessary allowances for the many
errors that would creep in from one transcription to another, and look
upon JAVE and JAVE LA GRANDE as one continent intersected by a
mediterranean sea, we have a fair, if rude, conception of the north coast
of Australia. Moreover, let the reader imagine a south coast line drawn
from BAYE PERDUE on the east to HAVRE DE SYLLA on the west, doing away
with the conjectural east and west coast continuations south of those
points; the deep inlet between JAVE and JAVE LA GRANDE standing for the
Gulf of Carpentaria, a very passable outline of the whole continent is
obtained. And it is more than probable that this view was originally
suggested by this map, and from it sprang the belief current, even to the
beginning of this century, that an open passage existed from the west
coast, either into the Gulf of Carpentaria, or to the head of Spencer's
Gulf. The other maps give no more information than this one, and the
identity of their origin is obvious. One, however, has been found in the
British Museum the features of which are different. It is a rough copy of
an old map showing the north west portion of a continent to the south of
"Java Major." It bears a legend in Portugese, of which the following is a
translation:--"Nuca Antara was discovered in the year 1601 by Manoel
Godinho Eredia, by command of the Viceroy Ayres de Soldanha." This would
point to a Portugese discovery of Australia immediately preceding the
Dutch one.

In Cornelius Wytfliet's "Descriptionis Ptolemaicae Augmentum," Louvain,
1598, the following passage is to be found:--

"The Australis Terra is the most southern of all lands; it is
separated from New Guinea by a narrow strait; its shores are hitherto
but little known, since, after one voyage and another, that route has
been deserted, and seldom is the country visited unless when sailors
are driven there by storms. The Australis Terra begins at two or three
degrees from the equator, and is maintained by some to be of so great
an extent that if it were thoroughly explored it would be regarded as
a fifth part of the world."

The above is so vague and suppositious that it would scarcely be worth
quoting, were it not for the singular mention of the narrow strait
separating Australis Terra from New Guinea; for at this time Torres had
not sailed through the straits, nor was the fact of his having done so
known to the world until the end of the eighteenth century, when
Dalrymple discovered his report amongst the archives of Manila, and did
justice to his memory.

In 1605, Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, having for his second in command Luis
Vaez de Torres, sailed from Callao with two well-armed vessels and a
corvette. After the discovery of several islands, they came to a land
which Quiros supposed to be the continent he was in search of, and
therefore named it Australia del Espiritu Santo. "At one hour past
midnight," says Torres, in his account of the voyage, "the CAPITANA"
(Quiros' vessel) "departed without any notice given to us, and without
making any signal." This extraordinary conduct was supposed to be the
result of discontent and mutiny amongst the sailors, an outbreak having
already taken place which was not quelled quite so firmly as Torres
advocated. After vainly waiting for many days, Torres set sail, and first
ascertaining that it was only an island where they had been anchored, he
made his way by the dangerous south coast of New Guinea to Manila, where
he arrived in 1607.

Up to the preceding year popular knowledge concerning the South Land must
be looked upon as being mixed up with much that is both doubtful and
hazardous. We now, however, reach the period which may be regarded as the
beginning of the authentic history of the discovery of New Holland. In
1606 the yacht DUYFHEN sailed from Bantam, and, coasting along the
south-west shore of New Guinea, her commander unknowingly crossed the
entrance of Torres Straits, and continued his voyage along the eastern
side of the Gulf of Carpentaria, under the impression that it was part of
the same country. They sailed nearly to latitude 14 degrees south, when
want of provisions and other necessaries compelled them to turn back.
Cape Keer-Weer (Turn Again) they named the furthest point reached by them.
Their report of the country was most unfavourable. They described it as
being "for the greatest part desert, but in some places inhabited by
wild, cruel, black savages, by whom some of the crew were murdered, for
which reason they could not learn anything of the land or waters as had
been desired of them."

The name of the captain of the DUYFHEN--the Columbus of the south--has
not been preserved. Ten years after this visit, in 1616, Captain Dirk
Hartog, in command of the ship ENDRACHT, from Amsterdam, discovered the
west coast of Australia. He left a tin plate on an island in Dirk
Hartog's Roads bearing the following inscription:--

"Ao 1616, den 25sten October, is hier vangecommen het schip de ENDRACHT
van Amsterdam, den Oppercoopmen Gilles Mibais van Luyck; schipper Dirk
Hartog, van Amsterdam, den 27sten, dito t' zeijl gegaen na Bantam, den
Ondercoopman Jan Stoyn, Opperstierman Pieter Dockes, van Bil, Ao 1616."

[Translation.--On the 25th October, arrived here the ship Endraght of
Amsterdam; the first merchant, Gilles Mibais, of Luyck; Captain Dirk
Hartog; of Amsterdam; the 27th ditto set sail for Bantam; undermerchant
Jan Stoyn, upper steersman, Pieter Dockes, from Bil, Ao, 1616.]

Captain Vlaming, of the ship GEELVINK, found this plate in 1697, and
replaced it with another, on which he copied the original inscription,
and added to it as follows:--

"1697. Den 4den Februaij is hier vangecommen het schip de GEELVINK van
Amsterdam, den Commandeur schipper, Williem de Vlamingh, van Vlielandt,
Adsistent Joan van Bremen, van Coppenhage; Opperstierman Michiel Blom van
Estight, van Bremen. De Hoecker de NYPTANG, schipper Gerrit Collaert van
Amsterdam; Adsistent Theodorus Heermans van de; d`Opperstierman Gerrit
Gerritz, van Bremen, 't Galjoot t' WESELTJE, Gezaghabber Cornelis de
Vlamingh van Vlielandt; Stierman Coert Gerritz, van Bremen, en van hier
gezeilt met ons vloot den 12do voorts net Zuijtland te ondersoecken en
gedestineert voor Batavia."

[Translation.--On the 4th of February, 1697, arrived here the ship
GEELVINCK, of Amsterdam; Commandant Wilhelm de Vlamingh, of Welandt;
assistant, Jan van Bremen, of Copenhagen; first pilot, Michiel Bloem van
Estight, of Bremen. The hooker, the NYPTANGH, Captain Gerrit Collaert, of
Amsterdam, Assistant Theodorus Heermans, of the same place; first pilot,
Gerrit Gerritz, of Bremen; then the galliot WESELTJE, Commander Cornelis
de Vlaming, of Vlielandt; Pilot Coert Gerritz, from Bremen. Sailed from
here with our fleet on the 12th, to explore the South Land, and
afterwards bound for Batavia.]

In 1801, the boatswain of the NATURALISTE found this plate half buried in
sand, lying near an oaken post to which it had been nailed. Captain
Hamelin, with rare good taste, had a new post made, and the plate erected
in the old spot. Another outward bound ship, the MAURITIUS, touched on
the west coast in 1618, and discovered and named the Willems River, near
the Northwest Cape, probably the present Ashburton. The LEEUWIN
(Lioness), visited the west coast in 1622, and the well-known reef of
Houtman's Abrolhos was so-called after Frederick Houtman, a Dutch
navigator of distinction who, however, never personally visited
Australian shores. The next navigator to the South Land met with an
untimely end. In the year 1623, Governor Coen dispatched two yachts, the
PERA and the ARNHEM, on a voyage of discovery. Landing on the coast of
New Guinea, Captain Jan Carstens, of the ARNHEM, and eight of his crew
were murdered by the natives, but the vessels proceeded, and touched upon
the north coast of New Holland, west of the Gulf of Carpentaria, still
known as Arnhem's Land. A river, the Spult, is here laid down in the old
charts, in the vicinity of the present Liverpool River, and there is also
another opening marked the "Speult," on the eastern side of the Gulf,
since determined to be the Endeavour Strait of Captain Cook,

At Arnhem's Land the yachts parted, the Pera continuing the voyage alone.
Crossing the head of the Gulf she followed the course of the DUYFHEN, and
passing Cape Keer-Weer, made as far south as 17 degrees, where the
Staaten River is laid down. Their report was also unfavourable, and is
summed up in the official dispatches of the company, thus:--"In this
discovery were found everywhere shallow waters and barren coasts, islands
altogether thinly peopled by divers cruel, poor, and brutal nations, and
of very little use to the Dutch East India Company." Pera Head, in the
Gulf, is another memorial of this voyage.

Now came the turn of the south coast of New Holland. In 1627, Captain
Pieter Nuyts, in his ship the GULDE ZEEPARD, accidentally touched on the
south coast. He followed it along for seven or eight hundred miles, and
bestowed on it the name of Pieter Nuyts' Land. The VIANEN sighted the
west coast in 1628, and kept in sight of it for some two hundred miles,
reporting "a foul and barren shore, green fields; and very wild, black,
barbarous inhabitants."

The wreck of the BATAVIA on Houtman's Abrolhos, in 1629, is one of the
most tragic incidents in early Australian history. The BATAVIA, commanded
by Commodore Francis Pelsart, was separated from her consorts by a storm,
and during the night of the 4th of June struck on the rocks of Frederick
Houtman. The crew and passengers were landed on one island, and two small
islets in the neighbourhood, and the ship broke up. No fresh water was
found, and Pelsart sailed in one of the boats in search of some on the
mainland. He was unsuccessful, and finally steered for Batavia.
Meanwhile, a terrible scene of riot and murder was enacted. Jerome
Cornelis, the supercargo, headed a mutiny, and those refusing to join his
band were in part cruelly assassinated. One company however, on one of
the islets, in charge of Weybehays defended themselves valiantly, finally
taking Cornelis prisoner. Fresh water was found, and the two hostile
camps awaited the reappearance of Pelsart. The design of the mutineers
had been to surprise Pelsart on his return, capture his vessel, and sail
away on a piratical cruise. The determined front shown by Weybehays and
his party, who, although unarmed, had twice defeated them with some
slaughter, disarranged their plans.

When the SARDAM, with Pelsart on board, hove in sight of the Abrolhos,
the smoke rising from the islands assured the captain, who was naturally
tormented with anxiety, that some, at any rate survived. To their
surprise, a boat came off to meet them, pulled by men dressed in rich
uniforms, made from the silks and stuffs that had formed part of the
BATAVIA'S cargo. Pelsart's suspicions were at once aroused, knowing as he
did, that insubordination had &hewn itself even before his departure.
These men were ordered to come on board unarmed, with the alternative of
being sunk, and Weybehays coming off at the same time, they had no choice
but to obey, and the whole of the mutineers were soon in irons. After
recovering most of the treasure, with the exception of one chest,
containing eight' thousand rix dollars, a consultation was held as to the
fate of the murderers. It was unanimously decided that, having in view
the overcrowded state of the ship, and the temptation presented by the
recovered treasure, the presence of such turbulent spirits on board would
be dangerous to the safety of the company. Therefore, it was thought best
to try the offenders there and then, instead of taking them to Batavia.
This was done, and the sentences at once carried into effect. Two men,
however, were condemned to the more lingering punishment of being
marooned on the mainland, there to meet a cruel death at the hands of the
savages. These two blood-stained criminals were the first Europeans to
leave their bones in Australia, an unhappy omen of the future. According
to the instructions issued to Tasman, on his second voyage, he was
directed to "enquire at the continent thereabout" (i.e., the
neighbourhood of the Abrolhos) "after two Dutchmen, who, having by the
enormity of their crimes forfeited their lives, were put on shore by the
Commodore Francisco Pelsart, if still alive. In such case, you may make
inquiries of them about the situation of those countries, and if they
entreat you to that purpose, give them passage thither." He was also
instructed to recover, if possible, the chest of rix dollars.
Unfortunately Tasman's journal has never been discovered, and it is not
known how he fared on his mission.

Captain Gerrit Tomaz Poole sailed from Banda in 1636, with the yachts
KLYN, AMSTERDAM, and WESEL, to meet his death on the New Guinea coast, in
the same place that had been fatal to Carstens, and in a like manner. The
supercargo took charge, and prosecuted the voyage, revisiting Arnhem's

A name familiar to all is that of Abel Janz Tasman. In 1644, after his
discovery of Van Dieman's Land, he was sent out on a second voyage of
exploration. His instructions were: "To discover whether Nova Guinea is
one continent with the Great South Land, or separated by channels and
islands lying between them, and also whether that New Van Dieman's Land"
(Arnhem's Land) "is the same continent with these two great countries, or
with one of them." He was also directed to search for the strait between
New Guinea and New Holland, in a large opening said to exist in that
locality. Apparently, this portion of his instructions was, for some
reasons, not thoroughly carried out.

Although Tasman's journal of this voyage has never been found, we have
pretty good evidence that he safely accomplished it. Dampier, in his
volume of voyages, mentions having in his possession a chart laid down by
Tasman, and an outline copy of the same was inlaid in the floor of the
Groote Zaal, in the Stadhuys in Amsterdam. The annexed tracing is from a
fairly authenticated copy of Tasman's map, with the discoveries of former
navigators attached, soundings being given along that portion of the
north-west coast that would have embraced Tasman's proposed track. Many
of the names still retained in the Gulf of Carpentaria are significant of
Tasman's visit. Vanderlin Island, after Cornelis Van der Lyn; Sweer's
Island, after Salamon Sweers; Maria Island, after his supposed
sweetheart, Maria Van Dieman; and Limmen Bight, after his ship, the
LIMMEN. This chart may be looked on as being the first one to give a
reliable and good outline of the Australian coast as then known--namely,
from Endeavour Strait, in the extreme north, to the eastern limit of
Pieter Nuvt's Land, on the south. The two placer, where "Ffresh" water is
marked would be the Batavia River, near Cape York, and the present
Macarthur River, at the head of the Gulf, the well defined headlands
shown there having been resolved by Captain Flinders into a group of
islands, now known as the Sir Edward Pellew Group. Tasman's ships were
the LIMMEN, the ZEEMEUW, and the tender DE BRAK.

The first Englishman to land on New Holland was William Dampier in 1688.
In very bad company, namely, a crew of buccaneers who left Captain Sharpe
and travelled across the Isthmus of Darien, he visited the west coast of
New Holland, where they remained over a month refitting and cleaning
their ship. Dampier does not seem to have been on the best of terms with
his shipmates, for some difference of opinion arising as to the final
destination of their voyage, he "was threatened to be turned ashore on
New Holland for it, which made me desist, intending, by God's blessing,
to make my escape the first place I came near." His notes on this
occasion refer chiefly to the natives seen, whose personal appearance and
habits he considers alike equally disgusting and repulsive.

Towards the end of the year 1696, William de Vlaming, in search of the
RIDDERSCHAP, a missing ship supposed to have been wrecked on the coast of
New Holland, came to the Great South Land. He found and named the Swan
River, this being the first mention ever made of black swans, two
specimens of which were captured and taken to Batavia. At Dirk Hartog's
Road, he found, as before-mentioned, the tin plate left by that captain,
and after a careful examination of the coast so far as the North-west
Cape, left for Batavia.

Dampier now reappears on the scene in charge of the ROEBUCK--a ship sent
out by the English Government in 1699. His account of his voyage is very
minute and circumstantial, but he still retains his aversion to the
unfortunate natives, of whom he always speaks with the greatest scorn.
Some of his statements are slightly doubtful, to say the least of it, as,
for instance, one concerning the capture of a large shark, "in which we
found the head and bones of a hippopotamus, [Note, below] the hairy lips
of which were still sound and not putrified, and the jaw was also firm,
out of which we pluckt a great many teeth, two of them eight inches long
and as big as a man's thumb, small at one end and a little crooked, the
rest not above half so long."

[Note: M. Malte Brun calls him "the learned and faithful Dampier," and,
in corroboration of the hippopotamus story, mentions that Bailly, when
exploring the Swan River, "heard a bellowing much louder than that of an
ox from among the reeds on the river side, which made him suspect that a
large quadruped lay somewhere near him." It is remarkable that in the
several accounts of the early Dutch visits to the northern coast no
mention is made of alligators, although they are so common to all the
inlets and rivers of that region, the name CROCODILS EYLANDEN on one old
chart being the sole exception.]

Dampier disputes the accuracy of the "draught of Tasman's" that he had
with him in many particulars, and constantly advances his theory of the
existence of a strait dividing New Holland into two parts, probably
taking this idea, as before indicated, from the old map of the DAUPHIN.

In 1705, the ships VOSSENBACH, WAYER, and NOVA HOLLANDIA were sent out to
investigate the north coast, under the command of Martin van Delft. The
journals of the voyage have not been found, although a report of the
notable events that happened was laid before the Governor-General of the
East India Council. This was the last voyage of exploration undertaken by
the Dutch, and closes the history of the early discovery of New Holland.
The existence of the Southern Land was definitely established, and it
remained for the English and French nations to determine its size and
formation with accuracy, and fill up the gaps on the coast line.

Sixty-five years passed before Captain Cook sailed through the Endeavour
Strait, finally settling the question of the separation of this continent
from New Guinea, and during that period New Holland, so far as we know,
was unvisited.

The association of Captain Cook with this continent is too well-known to
need more than a passing reference in this introduction. He proved the
insularity of the South Land, and examined the long-neglected east coast.

In. 1777, Mons. de St. Alouarn anchored near Cape Leeuwin, but no details
of his visit have been preserved.

In 1791, Captain George Vancouver touched on the south coast, and gave
the name of King George's Sound to that well-known harbour; thence he
sailed eastward. In the following year Rear-Admiral Bruny
D'Entrecasteaux, in search of the hapless La Perouse, who so narrowly
missed appropriating New Holland for the French, made an elaborate survey
of part of our south coast.

Before the close of the century, Bass and Flinders--fit companions--had
commenced their daring exploits in the little TOM THUMB, and finally,
with the sloop NORFOLK, established the existence of the strait named
after the enterprising young surgeon.

In the year 1799, Flinders went north in the NORFOLK sloop, and followed
up Cook's discoveries in Moreton Bay. In 18oi he was appointed to the
INVESTIGATOR (formerly the XENOPHON), and sailed from Spithead on the
voyage which was to render him one of the leading figures in Australian

Reaching Cape Leeuwin he commenced his survey of the south coast,
discovering and naming the two Gulfs of Spencer and St. Vincent. The
former he at one time thought would lead him through the continent into
the Carpentarian Gulf. He reached Port Jackson in May, the year after he
left England, and active preparations were soon afterwards commenced to
prepare the ship for her long northern cruise.

In July, 1802, the INVESTIGATOR, with the LADY NELSON as tender, left
Sydney Cove; the object of the voyage being to thoroughly survey the
eastern and northern coasts. Flinders rounded Cape York, and after a
close examination of the Gulf of Carpentaria, which, like Spencer's Gulf
in the south, deluded him for a time with the false hope of affording an
inlet into the interior, brought his work to an end at Cape Wessel, in
consequence of the rotten state of his ship. He called at Coepang in
Timor, whence, after obtaining some supplies, he made for Port Jackson by
way of the west coast.

Throughout this cruise it is evident that Flinders was much impressed by
the notion advanced by Dampier, that New Holland (meaning the north-west
portion) was separated from the land to the south by a strait opening
north of Shark's Bay. "Unless," says Dampier, "the high tides and
indraught thereabout should be occasioned by the mouth of some large
river, which hath often low lands on each side of the outlet, and many
islands and shoals lying at its entrance; but I rather thought it a
channel or strait than a river." To quote the words of Flinders:--

"This opinion he supports by a fair induction from facts, and the opening
of twelve miles wide, seen by Vlaming's two vessels, near the same place,
and in which they could find no anchorage, strongly corroborated
Dampier's supposition."

Later information had demonstrated that the supposed strait could not
lead into the great ocean eastward, as the English navigator (Dampier)
had conjectured, but it was thought possible that it might communicate
with the Gulf of Carpentaria, and even probable that a passage existed
from thence to the unknown parts of the south coast beyond the Isles of
St. Francis and St. Peters.

"In the case of penetrating the interior of TERRA AUSTRALIS, either by a
great river, or a strait leading to an inland sea, a superior country,
and perhaps, a different race of people might be found, the knowledge of
which could not fail to be very interesting, and might prove advantageous
to the nation making the discovery."

This was the goal of Flinders' ambition, the vision that haunted him
always--the discovery of a mediterranean sea.

There being no ship in Port Jackson fit to continue the survey work left
uncompleted by the INVESTIGATOR, Flinders determined to return to
England, and obtain a suitable vessel from the Admiralty. He and
twenty-two of his men and officers embarked as passengers in the PORPOISE,
and left Port Jackson in company with the Batavian-bound ships CATO and

They sailed on the 10th of August, 1803, and on the night of the 17th,
the PORPOISE and CATO struck on a reef, and became complete wrecks. The
crews escaped to a sand-bank adjoining the reef, and here they were left
to their fate by the third ship, the BRIDGEWATER, the captain of which
vessel sailed away to Batavia, without any attempt being made to save

Discipline and order were, however, maintained on Wreck Reef Bank, as it
was called, and Flinders, who took command after the vessel struck,
proceeded to Sydney in the cutter, to obtain assistance for the remainder
of the crews, who were to employ the time in constructing two decked
boats from the timbers of the PORPOISE. This perilous voyage in an open
boat, Flinders accomplished safely, and returned in six weeks, with two
colonial schooners, the CUMBERLAND and the FRANCIS, and the ship ROLLA,
bound for Canton. The shipwrecked men were taken off the bank, and
Flinders started for England in the CUMBERLAND, a small schooner of but
twenty-nine tons. On his way homeward he was forced to put into the
Mauritius, to refit his little craft, before venturing round the Cape of
Good Hope; and on the pretext that the passport he carried did not afford
safe conduct to the CUMBERLAND, having been made out for the
INVESTIGATOR, he was detained a prisoner in the Isle of France for over
six years.

The conduct of General de Caen in this matter has been severely commented
on, as it was entirely due to his personal pique and jealousy in the
affair that this indignity was put upon Flinders. The generous
hospitality extended by the British settlement to the French navigators
at Port Jackson found no response in this rough specimen of a soldier of
the revolution, who throughout the period of Flinders' detention, treated
him with studied rudeness and unnecessary harshness.

For three months Flinders was kept close prisoner as a spy, and for
twenty months as an ordinary prisoner of war. Still during his captivity
in the Isle of France, his thoughts were constantly busied with projects
for the further exploration of the great southern continent he had lately
left. In addition to the chafing weariness of prolonged detention and
enforced inactivity, he was constantly haunted by the dread that the
French would, after examination of his papers, step in and forestall him
in the matter. In a letter to Sir Joseph Banks, dated March 20th, 1806,
[See fac-simile of original letter (not included in this eBook)] he
mentions this fear, and adding, that disappointment and deferred hope of
release have in no way damped his ardour in the cause of science,
advances for consideration a scheme for exploring the interior of
Australia. Though now, after more than eighty years of discovery have
given us an intimate knowledge of the nature of the difficulties he would
have encountered, we may smile at the somewhat crude notions of the
daring navigator, we cannot refuse to recognise that a good deal of
thoroughness was mixed up with his plan, simple as it reads. An incursion
of five hundred miles north and south, respectively, would without doubt,
if possible, have done much towards an earlier knowledge of the interior.

His dream of sailing up a deep estuary--some great water way--leading to
more fertile lands than those of the coast inhabited by a superior race
of natives, had vanished. As the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria
rounded his course from south to west, and from west to north, so the
picture his fancy had painted faded; and he found himself compelled to
fall back upon the conception of a mode of transit patriarchal in its

He writes:--

"With five or six asses to carry provisions (and they can be obtained
here), expeditions might be made into the interior of Australia from the
head of the Gulph of Carpentaria in 18 deg., and from the head of the
great gulph on the south coast in 32 deg., until the courses should
nearly meet, five hundred miles each way would most probably be
sufficient, since the country does not appear to be mountainous: a view
of my general chart will exemplify this. In case of being again sent to
Australia, I should much wish that this was a part of my instructions."
[Note: Referring to Flinders' scheme for exploring Australia, it may be
amusing to the reader to contrast it with one projected some years later
by M. Malte Brun. In his case, the amount of material the eminent
geographer considered necessary for the expedition is as excessive as
that of Captain Flinders' was simple. His method for exploring the
continent is this: "In order to determine these questions" (namely the
different theories propounded as to the nature of the interior) "it has
been proposed to send an expedition to penetrate the country from
Spencer's Gulf. For such an expedition, men of science and courage ought
to be selected. They ought to be provided with all sorts of implements
and stores, and with different animals, from the powers and instincts of
which they may derive assistance. They should have oxen from Buenos
Ayres, or from the English settlements, mules from Senegal, and
dromedaries from Africa or Arabia. The oxen would traverse the woods and
the thickets; the mules would walk securely among rugged rocks and hilly
countries; the dromedaries would cross the sandy deserts. Thus the
expedition would be prepared for any kind of territory that the interior
might present. Dogs also should be taken to raise game, and to discover
springs of water; and it has even been proposed to take pigs, for the
sake of finding out esculent roots in the soil. When no kangaroos and
game are to be found the party would subsist on the flesh of their own
flocks. They should be provided with a balloon for spying at a distance
any serious obstacle to their progress in particular directions, and for
extending the range of observations which the eye would take of such
level lands as are too wide to allow any heights beyond them to come
within the compass of their view. The journey might be allowed a year or
eighteen months, which would be only at the rate of four or five miles
per day. . . . The author of the present work" ("Universal Geography")
"has discoursed this project in conversation with the enlightened and
indefatigable traveller, M. Péron, who saw no insuperable obstacle to its
probability, except the existence of an immense ocean of sand occupying
the whole of the interior of the continent, which to him appeared
extremely probable."]

But Flinders was never fated to see the interior of Terra Australis,
either from the deck of a ship, or from any point of vantage; he surveyed
its shores, suggested the name it now bears--Australia, and left the work
of discovery, not even to this day quite completed, to other hands. But
though the name of Flinders has not received the world-wide recognition
that has been bestowed upon that of Cook, in Australia it should be
equally honoured. The land that witnessed his long labours and heroic
courage ought not to repay him with forgetfulness.

The crazy state of the INVESTIGATOR having compelled Flinders to
terminate his voyage abruptly, a considerable space of coast line was
still left on the north, and north-west, that had not been minutely
examined. Lieutenant Phillip King, between the years 1818 and 1822,
completed the survey left unfinished by Flinders, and the work of marine
exploration temporarily ceased.

In looking back over the early history of Australia, the apparently
careless manner in which the English became possessed of the whole of the
continent is very noticeable. Although the Dutch had so long been
acquainted with our shores, and the neighbourhood of their possessions in
Java would have afforded them greater facilities for exploration than
were held by any other nation, no attempt at colonisation was ever made
by them. The apparent poverty, both of the country and the natives,
offered the East India Company no inducement to extend their operations.
Still, in a vague kind of way, the Dutch claim to the western portion of
Australia was recognized. In the patent to the first governor at Port
Jackson, the western limit of New South Wales is fixed at 13.5 deg. E.
longitude, a position approximating to the boundary of New Holland as
fixed by the Dutch, whereby the country was divided into New Holland and
Terra Australis. This line of demarcation would bisect the present colony
of South Australia. In the early part of this century, the French
evidently considered that they had a well-founded claim, both to the
discovery and possession of the south coast, west of Nuyts' "Island of
St. Peters." The name of "Terre Napoleon" was given to it, Spencer's Gulf
becoming "Golfe Bonaparte," and the Gulf of St. Vincent "Golfe
Josephine." Malte Brun remarks:--

"The claims of the English have no fixed boundaries; they seem desirous
of confounding the whole of New Holland under the modern name which they
have given to the east coast, which was minutely explored by Captain
Cook. It is worthy of remark that the French geographers had, from a
comparison of the tracks navigated by Abel Tasman, previously concluded
on the existence and direction of this coast itself."

But neither Dutch nor French claims were ever seriously advanced, and the
whole of the continent and adjacent islands were ceded to the English in
much the same happy-go-lucky fashion that we recently let slip a large
portion of New Guinea. One cause of the apathy displayed was without
doubt the forbidding nature of the reports published by all the
navigators. The coast line had been examined, and the various inlets
followed up without any important or navigable river having been brought
to light, and the absence of fresh water streams in such a large
continent naturally led thinking men to the conclusion that the inland
slope was nothing but an arid desert, parched beneath a rainless sky. The
hot winds that had been experienced on the southern coast aided this
belief, and the natives when interviewed professed no knowledge beyond
the limits of their tribal hunting grounds. The little colony clustered
around Rose Hill, and on the shore of Sydney Cove, was shut in by the
gloomy gorges and unscaleable precipices of the Caermarthen Hills, that
stayed all progress to the westward, and the same frowning barrier had
been found to extend north and south.

Men's imaginations were exhausted in picturing the physical appearance of
the mysterious interior. Some thought it a vast level plain, where the
few and sluggish rivers were lost in shallow lakes, to disappear by
evaporation; others again, believed it to be an immense bed of sand where
no rivers formed, and the thirsty sands absorbed the scanty rainfall; and
many imagined an inland sea connected with the ocean by subterranean
outlets: one and all agreed in its inhospitable nature.

There was nothing hopeful nor inspiriting in the outlook to induce men to
attempt to penetrate this silent desert, save the love of adventure, and
the gratification of a laudable curiosity.

The convicts, who in efforts to regain their liberty, from time to time
made desperate attempts to escape, either perished miserably or, daunted
by the sterile nature of the land and the hostility of the natives,
returned to give themselves up, before reaching any distance from the
settlement. The work of exploration was toilsome and difficult, from the
lack of beasts of burden. Each member of the party had a heavy pack to
carry, and when to that was added the cumbrous firearms and ammunition of
those times, a day's journey was no light labour. The weary system of
counting the paces all day must have considerably added to the monotony
of the march. Two thousand and two hundred paces over good ground were
allowed to a mile. When too, nature had barred the way with an apparently
insurmountable range, it is not to be wondered at that the area of
explored country was not very widely extended during the first twenty
years of settlement.

In striking contrast to other portions of the world's surface that have
been slowly explored and examined by the European nations, Australia has
throughout retained a character of its own. From the coastal formation of
most lands, fair indications could be obtained of the character of the
interior. Large rivers gave evidence of a defined system of drainage, the
crests of snow-topped mountain ranges in the distance were proof of
whence these rivers sprang. The native tribes were of higher
intelligence, had a partial knowledge of what lay beyond their immediate
ken, and could show articles of barter and commerce that they had
obtained from more inland residents.

Australia was a silent and sullen blank, and for a century of exploration
nature has resisted, step by step, the encroachments on her stronghold,
making the invaders pay toll with many a gallant life.


The Continent of Australia--Its peculiar formation--The coast range and
the highest peaks thereof--The coastal rivers--The inland rivers--
Difference of vegetation on the tableland and on the coast--Exception to
the rule--Valuable timber of the coast districts--Animals common to the
whole continent--Some birds the same--Distinct habits of others--The
Australian native and his unknown origin--Water supply--Upheaval.

It was comparatively at a late period in the world's history when
Australia was opened up as a field for geographical research; but,
notwithstanding that the accumulated knowledge of centuries was thus
brought to bear upon it, the characteristic and unique formation of the
country set at naught all the approved deductions and theories of the
scientific world. A paradox, or, as a clever writer recently put it, "a
surviving fragment of the primitive world," with a nature contradictory
and inconsistent, as compared even with itself, cut off from the rest of
the globe, and left to work out the problem of its existence alone; no
wonder it was only after successive generations had toiled at it, that
Australia was, even in part, understood.

The interior of Australia is, as is well-known, an immense plain, having
an average height of fifteen hundred to two thousand feet, with a decided
tilt, or slope, towards the south-west. Round the foot of this tableland,
is a terrace of lower country, varying greatly in width. The river
systems of the coastal lands, lying between the sea and the foot of the
tableland, were easily understood and traced, that of the interior was
far more difficult.

Starting from Cape York, in the extreme north, and following down the
eastern coast, the edge of the tableland is formed of ranges, often of
considerable height, the gullies and spurs of which are mostly clothed
with scrub and jungle of tropical growth and luxuriance; amongst the
peaks of this range there are Distant Peak, 3,573 feet; Pieter Botte
Mountain, 3,311 feet; Grey Peak, 3,357 feet; and the Bellender Kerr
Hills, 5,433 feet high. Further south, the level is more uniform; the
isolated peak of Mount Elliott--which attains a height Of 4,075
feet--forming the exception, until further south again the elevations
approach to 4,250 feet. An average height of a little over two thousand
feet is then maintained until the border line of Queensland is reached,
and here--in Mount Lindesay--5,500 feet is met with. The New England
Range maintains this altitude in many peaks, including Mount
Seaview--from which point Oxley sighted the ocean-6,000 feet high. Still
to the south, the mountains on the border of the plateau keep up an
average of between three and four thousand feet until, at the south-east
extremity of our continent, the greatest height is attained in Mount
Kosciusko, falling some 700 feet short of the limit of perpetual snow,
its elevation being 7,308 feet.

To the westward, many of the peaks reach altitudes of over 5,000 and
6,000 feet, until the large depression is encountered through which the
great body of interior waters find their way to the sea by means of the
Murray Channel.

West of this gap, the edge of the tableland is broken, and depressed, the
highest crests of the coastal range rarely reaching to 3,000 feet in
height, and along the shore line, facing the Great Australian Bight, it
is almost non-existent.

On reaching the south-west corner of Australia, the elevated edge reforms
in the Russell and Darling Ranges, and trending northward, skirting the
coast, culminates in Mount Bruce, 4,000 feet above sea level. From hence,
the range following the sea line is broken, rugged and precipitous, but
of inconsiderable height, and when the centre of the Gulf of Carpentaria
is reached, it falls away into highlands and slopes, joining the eastern

On the great plateau encircled by this range, no elevations of any moment
are to be found; a kind of chain traverses the centre from north to
south, but though in places presenting a bold formation, the highest
altitude attained is in the Macdonnell Ranges--4,000 feet.

From the coastal range, the edge of the tableland, flow the rivers that
run direct to the sea on the seaward face; but in many instances a false
tableland occurs, the streams that drain which unite in forcing their way
through deep gorges to the lowlands of the coast. This false tableland is
conspicuous in the valley of the Upper Burdekin River on the east coast,
and on the head waters of the Fitzroy, The country drained by the top
tributaries of these rivers being only divided from the real tableland by
a gentle ascent, whereas the descent to the coast is steep and abrupt.
Most of the northern rivers, too, take their rise in a plateau that is
almost on a level with the great plain, but cut their way down to the sea
through gorges, instead of being lost in the interior.

It follows then, that the drainage and character of the terrace
surrounding the continent, keeping to natural and known laws was at once
understood, but the drainage of the plateau was more difficult to
comprehend, and it is now known to be confined to two river systems only,
first, that of the Darling and Murray, which rivers receive all the
waters flowing to the westward of the eastern coast range, and secondly,
the lake system further to the westward; the great salt lakes to the
north of Spencer's Gulf receiving Cooper's Creek and its many
tributaries, and also the Diamantina and Herbert; their waters being
dissipated by soakage and evaporation. Westward, again, there is little
doubt that no system exists, the level nature of the country and
intermittent rainfall shortening the existence of the creeks before they
have time to unite their flood waters in one large permanent channel.

The rivers of the eastern coast are the Kennedy, the Endeavour, the
Barron, the Burdekin with its many tributaries, the Clark, the Perry, the
Star, the Keelbottom, the Fanning, the Suttor (which last brings down the
united waters of the Cape and Belyando), and finally after passing
through the Leichhardt Range the Bowen, and the Bogie. The Fitzroy,
another river of many tributaries, the Mackenzie, the Isaacs, the Nogoa,
and the Dawson. Then come the Boyne, the Kolan, the Burnett (which
receives another Boyne), the Mary, the Brisbane, all in the Colony of
Queensland. On this coast in New South Wales, come next the Tweed, the
Richmond, and the Clarence; the Macleay, the Hastings, and the Hunter.
The Hawkesbury the Shoalhaven and the Clyde. The Snowy River, though
rising in New South Wales, discharges itself into the sea in Victorian
waters; thence we come to the Latrobe and the many minor streams that
flow into the ocean instead of into the great receiver the Murray. The
Glenelg and the Wannon. Then comes the Murray, the outlet of the inland
waters. Westward, the rivers of the coast become smaller and less
frequent, until at last they cease to exist; but on the western
shore--where the coast range once more reasserts itself--we find in
Western Australia, the Swan, the Irwin, the Greenough, the Murchison, and
the Gascoyne, the Ashburton, the Fortescue, the De Grey, and another
Fitzroy. On the north coast, we meet with the Victoria, the Daly, the
Adelaide, the Alligator, the Liverpool, the Roper, the Limmen Bight, the
Macarthur, the Robinson and the Calvert, the Albert--which is the outlet
for the Nicholson and the Gregory--the Leichhardt and the Flinders, the
Norman, the Gilbert, the Einesleigh, the Mitchell, the Archer, the
Jardine, and the Batavia, which brings us back to our starting point at
Cape York.

Now come the inland arteries, the streams running through the tableland
and feeding the Darling and the Murray. These are the Murrumbidgee, which
equals the Murray almost in importance, the Lachlan and the Darling,
which brings down the waters of a hundred streams, the Macquarie, the
Castlereagh, and the Bogan, the Namoi and Gwydir, the Dumaresque, the
Condamine, the Maranoa, the Moonie, and the Warrego. And falling into the
Murray itself, from the south are, the Ovens, the Goulburn, the Mitta
Mitta, the Campaspe and the Loddon.

The other rivers of' the inland slope are the Barcoo and Thomson, forming
Cooper's Creek, the Diamentina, the Burke and the Hamilton, the Herbert
or Georgina, and Eyre Creek, all these end in the flats and shallows of
the Great Salt Lake District.

The remaining watercourses to the westward cannot be classed in any way,
their course is apparently determined by local inequalities of the
surface, and although some are very considerable in appearance, their
flow is so brief that it is impossible to consider them as at all forming
parts of one system; the longest and most important is Sturt's Creek.

The coast country, meaning the land watered by the rivers first
enumerated, has the advantage over the tableland in the matter of
rainfall, and the rivers therefore possess more of the characteristics of
running streams, than the chains of isolated ponds that are known as
rivers in the inland slope. The climatic influence is especially
noticeable in the indigenous grasses and herbage of the two regions. Mr.
George Ranken, in one of his essays on Australian subjects ["The
Squatting System of Australia," by "Capricornus."] draws an excellent
picture of the reclamation and transformation of the forest primeval.

"The first comers in 1788, found before them, as their ships came to
anchor, sandstone bluffs covered with scraggy trees and heath-like
plants, with a bright blue sky above, and an elastic, buoyant atmosphere
around. As they went inland, they found an endless open forest, the
ground being clothed with a light, tufty grass, but it was the starved
outline of European woodland scenery, for the trees rose bare and
branchless from a thirsty soil, and the grass covered only half, the
surface of the earth. Except the grass, and that was thin enough, though
it grew everywhere, the country seemed poor in products, and looked as if
it were involved in a constant struggle between droughts and floods. They
would have judged it to be poor in capability also, if, on further
experience, a vitality had not appeared which seemed to electrify the
soil on the touch of colonisation. Imported animals, trees, and plants
lived and flourished among the dingy forests, which barely yielded food
enough for a few wandering savages.

"The farther they went, the greater contrast appeared, more drought and
better country; and in later times, as the last of enigmas, a change of
vegetation and climate seemed to follow the settler with his flocks and
herds. After a few years' feeding with stock, water has been found
permanently standing in country where it never stood before, and
sometimes the tufty herbage has changed into a sward. The flats that used
in one season to show a succession of swamps, and in another a surface of
bare dusty soil, rifted with yawning cracks, has often become good level
turf, intersected with runnels cut by the hoofs of the sheep and cattle."

The first invasion of the new territory across the range led to a
terrible feeling of disappointment; true, that on at once crossing the
crest of the watershed country was found, which being partly within the
influence of the heavier fall of rain, approached in every way the
perfection dreamt of by the explorers; but as progress inland was made, a
change was found to take place, and, above all, the familiar indigenous
grasses were lost, and replaced by what the settlers took to be nothing
but worthless weeds. All the now prized edible shrubs, such as the many
kinds of saltbush, the cotton-bush, &c., were amongst these despised
plants; and even the very stock did not take to them, until some years of
use had rendered them familiar. These drought-resisting plants were at
first supposed to be confined to the inner slope of the range, but the
extended exploration of the continent shows us that where the coast range
loses its character of a pronounced range, and is only represented by an
insignificant rise, the characteristics of the plain are continued right
down to within a short distance of the sea.

This is notably the case on the north, where the Flinders River and its
tributaries drain country that bears all the distinctive growth of the
interior. On the south coast, west of the Murray, this is also the case,
and in these parts, through the depression of the range, the climate is
much drier. On the eastern coast, however, the distinction between the
uplands and lowlands is strongly marked both in Queensland and New South
Wales, even in those cases where the rivers rise in uplands approaching
in elevation to the level of the tableland. The eastern coast of northern
Queensland is, from its situation and the superior height of the coast
range combined, the tropical garden of Australia, the luxuriant growth of
vegetation, taking the form of dense scrubs and jungles springing from a
deep, rich soil. These scrubs, of slightly varying character, form a
characteristic of the whole length of the eastern seaboard, and amongst
them we find much valuable timber. The cedar tree is one important
feature, and the kauri pine is found in one small tract in the north of

Further south, however, the trees grow to an enormous height in the
elevated forest lands. Victoria and Western Australia are particularly
noted for the giant growth of some of their trees. In Victoria the white
gum (EUCALYPTUS AMYGDALINA) has been found growing to a height of over
four hundred feet; the red gum (EUCALYPTUS ROSTRATA), and the blue gum
(EUCALYPTUS GLOBULUS) also attain a great size in our southern colonies.
In Western Australia the jarrah (EUCALYPTUS MARGINATA) and the karri
(EUCALYPTUS DIVERSICOLOR) have become noted in the world as being most
valuable hardwoods.

Right through the continent, from east to west, the box tree (EUCALYPTUS
MALLIODORA) is to be found. On the tableland the timber is altogether of
a different growth. The giants of the slopes of the seaward range are
replaced by low, stunted, and crooked trees, some of them, however,
possessing edible foliage. Most of the acacias are of this kind--the
ACACIA PENDULA or myall, the brigalow, the mulga, and yarran. The
CAESARIANSAE common all over Australia, under the name of the oak tree.

The difference between the products of the interior upland and the
coastal lowland is mainly induced by the difference of climate, those
grasses and herbs growing on the tableland, while repellent in appearance
and colour, compared to the richer herbage of the coast, possess
qualities that render them invaluable as fodder plants. Once let the
grasses of the coast lose their moisture from drought, and they become
sapless and worthless, but it is not so in the tableland. Months of dry
weather have no effect upon the fattening properties of the shrubs; the
stock, however, have to become used to feeding on them before their full
value is attained.

Amongst the fauna of Australia the distinction between coast and
tableland is not so well marked, most of the well-known species ranging
indifferently over the whole continent. In the kangaroos, differences in
size, colour and appearance can easily be detected in widely separated
localities, but they do not amount to anything very noticeable to the
ordinary observer. The smaller kinds, the wallaby and kangaroo rat, are
common everywhere on the continent. In birds, however, the difference is
great, the seeds and fruit on which some birds exist being only found in
either the coastal scrubs or lowland country, whilst many of the parrots
and pigeons of the interior could not live on the coast. So sharply is
the line drawn in some places, that on the dividing watersheds of the
east coast flocks of galar parrots and plain-pigeons will be found
feeding on the western slope of a ridge, but never by any chance crossing
on to the eastern.

Australia is rich in waders, and they are found all over the continent.
The beautiful jabiru, or gigantic crane, is equally at home in some
lonely waterhole in the far west and at the head of a coast swamp; so,
too, the GRUS AUSTRALIS, or native companion, and the quaint and
rich-plumaged ibis. The familiar laughing-jackass is to be found
everywhere, but his peculiar note differs somewhat in different parts; a
blackfellow from the south says that the laugh of the northern bird makes
him feel sick, whilst the northern native says the same of the southern
kingfisher. The great inland plains are the haunt of the flock-pigeon; in
countless myriads, these beautiful birds come at some seasons of the
year, and in the morning when flying in to the water they look like
distant clouds.

The fish of the tableland differ greatly from those of the coast. In some
of the inland lakes and permanent lagoons they are so fat as to be almost
uneatable, and at times so plentiful and easily caught that the
blackfellows scarcely trouble to get them, which is rarely the case
elsewhere. The Australian native is a man with an unknown history whether
he is an improvement on his remote ancestors or a degenerate descendant
it is impossible to form any idea.

Whoever they were they left nothing behind them, except this wandering
savage, and he has neither traditions nor customs that tell us anything
of the past. The language is a perfect confusion of tongues, and
dialects, words of similar sound and meaning are often found in places
hundreds of miles apart; in distinct tribes wherein the rest of the
language is altogether different. Their physique does not differ greatly.
Perhaps in the north an admixture of Malay blood gives a handsomer cast
to the features in individual cases, but the Australian native is
unmistakable wherever you meet him, north, south, east or west.

The geological formation of Australia is, as is well-known very old, one
third of the continent being desert sandstone with no marine fossils, but
although, scantily supplied with water on the surface, there is little
doubt of the immensity of the subterranean supply.

Water has been struck by boring five hundred and seventy-two feet, and
risen to within ten feet of the surface, and on the Kallara run at one
hundred and forty-four, where it rose twenty-six feet above the surface.
Water then, will probably be found almost anywhere at a depth of six
hundred feet, and a vast portion of the lightly watered plains of the
interior will be worked up to their fullest capabilities by means of

It is generally supposed that the first portion of Australia that rose
above the sea was the south-east corner where the largest and probably
the most active of our volcanoes existed; the rise of the whole continent
which subsequently took place would have then left the interior a shallow
inland sea, girt round with a broken chain of more or less active
volcanoes. In time, these grew extinct, the sea evaporated and we were
left with our present coast range, with its now lifeless peaks, and our
depressed inland plateau, with its saline flats and lakes.



Expeditions of Governor Phillip--Mouth of the Hawkesbury found in Broken
Bay--Second expedition and ascent of the river--Expedition of Captain
Tench--Discovery of the Nepean River--Lieutenant Dawes sent to cross the
Nepean, and to try to penetrate the mountains--Attempt by Governor
Phillip to establish the confluence of the Nepean and Hawkesbury--
Failure--The identity settled by Captain Tench--Escaped convicts try to
reach China--Captain Paterson finds and names the Grose River--Hacking
endeavours to cross the Blue Mountains--The lost cattle found on the
Cow Pastures--Bass attempts the passage of the range--Supposed settlement
of a white race in the interior--Attempt of the convicts to reach it--
James Wilson--His life with the natives--Discovery of the Hunter River
by Lieutenant Shortland.

As may be well supposed, the men who arrived in Australia in charge of
the first party of convicts had more pressing work on hand than devoting
their time to scientific exploration. Separated by half the world from
the source of their supplies, in charge of a body of criminals of the
most dangerous type, Arthur Phillip and his officers had no light task to
perform, and every credit must be given to the little band of pilgrims
who, beset by danger from within and without, brought the colony through
its infancy without any tragedy happening. Apparently, these early
adventurers were no whit behind travellers of the present day in bringing
back wonderful tales of their discoveries whenever they essayed a trip
into the unknown. One of the officers writes:--

"We found the convicts particularly happy in fertility of invention and
exaggerated descriptions; hence, large fresh-water rivers, valuable ores,
and quarries of limestone, chalk, and marble were daily proclaimed soon
after we had landed. At first we hearkened with avidity to such accounts,
but perpetual disappointments taught us to listen with caution, and to
believe from demonstration only."

Amongst these gentry was a convict named Daly, afterwards banged for
burglary, who distinguished himself by instigating the first gold
prospecting party in Australia. Having broken up a pair of brass buckles,
he mixed the fragments with sand and stones, and represented the result
as specimens of ore he had found. A party was sent out under his guidance
to examine the locality, but, needless to say, failed in the endeavour,
the perpetrator of the hoax confessing to it in the end, and suffering
the punishment common at that period.

The discovery of the Hawkesbury River, in the year following the
settlement, may be looked upon as the first effort emanating from the
colony to push exploration to any appreciable distance.

On the 6th of June, 1789, Governor Phillip, accompanied by a large party
in two boats, proceeded to Broken Bay. After spending some time without
result, they pulled into an inlet, and suddenly found themselves at the
entrance of a fresh-water river, up which they rowed twenty miles in a
westerly direction, but provisions failing, they turned back.

A second expedition was then undertaken, and this time the boats
penetrated between sixty and seventy miles, inclusive of the windings of
the river. Further progress was stayed by a fall. The party examined the
surrounding country, but opinions differed greatly as to its value; some
reporting rich and beautiful land, others low-lying flats subject to
floods. A hill close by the fall was ascended, and christened Richmond
Hill, and the river was named the Hawkesbury.

On the 26th of the same month, Captain Tench, then in charge of the
newly-formed outpost of Rose Hill, started on an expedition to the
westward. He was accompanied by Mr. Arndell, assistant-surgeon of the
settlement, Mr. Lowes, surgeon's mate of the SIRIUS, two marines, and a
convict. His relation of his trip is interesting, as being the earliest
record of land exploration, and also as containing the account of the
discovery of the Nepean River. An extract from his journal runs as

"I left the redoubt at daybreak, pointing our march to a hill distant
five miles, in a westerly or inland direction, which commands a view of
the great chain of mountains called the Caermarthen Hills, extending from
north to south farther than the eye can reach. Here we paused, surveying
'the wild abyss, pondering over our voyage.' Before us lay the trackless,
immeasurable desert in awful silence. At length, after consultation, we
determined to steer west and by north by compass, the make of the land
indicating the existence of a river. We continued to march all day
through a country untrodden before by an European foot. Save that a
melancholy crow now and then flew croaking overhead, or a kangaroo was
seen to bound at a distance, the picture of solitude was complete and
undisturbed. At four o'clock in the afternoon we halted near a small pond
of water, where we took up our residence for the night, lighted a fire,
and prepared to cook our supper-that was to broil over a couple of
ramrods a few slices of salt pork, and a crow which we had shot. At
daylight we renewed our peregrination, and in an hour after, we found
ourselves on the banks of a river nearly as broad as the Thames at
Putney, and apparently of great depth, the current running very slowly in
a northerly direction. Vast flocks of wild ducks were swimming in the
stream, but, after being once fired at, they grew so shy that we could
not get near them a second time. Nothing is more certain than that the
sound of a gun had never before been heard within many a mile of this

A short description of the hunting practices of the natives here follows,
and the explorer then continues:--

"Having remained out three days, we returned to our quarters at Rose Hill
with the pleasing intelligence of our discovery. The country we had
passed through we found tolerably plain, and little encumbered with
underwood, except near the riverside. It is entirely covered with the
same sort of trees as grow near Sydney; and in some places grass springs
up luxuriantly; other places are quite bare of it. The soil is various;
in many places a stiff, arid clay, covered with small pebbles; in other
places, of a soft, loamy nature; but invariably in every part near the
river it is a coarse, sterile sand. Our observations on it (particularly
mine, from carrying the compass with which we steered) were not so
numerous as might have been wished. But, certainly, if the qualities of
it be such as to deserve future cultivation, no impediment of surface but
that of cutting down and burning the trees exists to prevent its being

"To this river the Governor gave the name of Nepean (after Captain
Nepean, of the New South Wales corps). The distance of the part of the
river which was first hit upon from the sea coast is about thirty-nine
miles, in a direct line, almost due west."

In December, 1789, Governor Phillip dispatched a party, under Lieutenant
Dawes, of the Marines, accompanied by Lieutenant Johnson and Mr. Lowes,
to cross the Nepean and try to penetrate the range beyond. They
discovered a ford in the river, and crossing, proceeded in a westerly
direction. So rugged and difficult, however, did they find the country
that in three days they had only covered fifteen miles. At a bill that
they called Mount Twiss they turned back, having penetrated fifty-four
miles in a direct line from the sea coast.

In August, 1790, Messrs. Tench, Dawes, and Morgan explored south and west
of Rose Hill. They struck the Nepean higher up, nearer its source than on
the former occasion, and remained out seven days, penetrating to a
considerable distance in a south-west direction. Near the end of the same
month, the same party made an excursion to the north-west of Rose Hill,
and traced the Nepean to where it was first discovered by Tench's party
in 1789.

In April, 1791, Governor Phillip, attended by a large company, numbering
in all twenty-one persons, including two natives, set out on an
expedition from Rose Hill to determine the identity, or not, of the
Nepean and the Hawkesbury. On the 12th of the month they struck the
river, and followed it down for some distance, but did not accomplish the
object they had in view.

In the following month, however, Messrs. Tench, Dawes, and two soldiers,
again went out, and settled the vexed question.

About this time, although scarcely to be included in the tale of
exploration, a number of convicts made a desperate attempt to proceed
overland to China. They, however, only managed a very short stage of the
journey--namely, to Broken Bay. Here they were attacked by the natives,
and returned in a demoralised condition to Rose Hill and gave themselves

The impression these deluded men set out under was, that at a
considerable distance to the northward there was a large river which
separated this country from China, and when it was crossed they would
find themselves amongst a copper-coloured people, who would receive and
treat them kindly.

In 1793, Captain Paterson, who had already had some experience as an
African traveller, started on an expedition to the Caermarthen Hills (by
this time beginning to be known as the Blue Mountains), intending, if
possible, to cross the range, or at any rate, penetrate some distance
into it, He was accompanied by Captain Johnstone, and Messrs. Palmer and
Lang. The party was well equipped, and provisioned for six weeks. Pulling
up the Hawkesbury, they left the heavy boats at the fall that had
formerly stayed the progress of Governor Phillip, and taking two light
ones with them, they tried to ascend higher up the river. They managed to
reach ten miles beyond the furthest point ever before visited, and then,
their boats having suffered some damage, and there being a slight fresh
in the river, they returned. The highest part of the river where they
were they named the "Grose," and Paterson, who was a botanist, discovered
several new kinds of plants.

Another determined effort to cross the range that seemed to defy all the
attempts of the colonists was made by quarter-master Hacking, in 1794.
The party succeeded in pushing out twenty miles further than any European
had been, but their report was unfavourable. They reached the foot of the
range, and after climbing over some eighteen or twenty ridges, formed of
little else but precipitous rocks, they saw before them nothing but the
same savage and inaccessible country. Tier after tier of ranges rose in
view, divided by abrupt and impassable chasms and gorges. The only
natives they saw fled at their approach, and, saving for the presence of
some large red kangaroos, little sign of animal life was met with. Away
to both north and south, the same iron range could be traced, showing no
prospect of gap or pass, and they returned dispirited. The colonists now
began to look upon the Blue Mountains as their western limit, and the
extension of settlement in that direction was regarded as chimerical.

The cattle that had escaped from the settlement had, with their usual
instinct, wandered on until they had found suitable grazing land on the
Nepean, and there had settled down. When discovered they had thriven
well, and increased into a small herd. By the Governor's direction they
were left unmolested, being but occasionally visited, and their run
became known as the Cow Pastures.

Mr. Bass, the bold explorer of Bass Strait, in company with some other
gentlemen, visited these pasture lands in 1797, and from Mount Taurus, on
the Nepean River, took a straight course to the coast, where a whale boat
was sent to meet them. Their .experience was of the usual kind. After
leaving the fertile grazing lands appropriated by the cattle, they
crossed a succession of barren ridges, gradually growing worse and worse
until the sea was reached.

Bass had, before this, attempted to cross the range in 1796. His attempt
was of the same character as all the others, failure and disappointment
attending his steps, although the endeavour to obtain success was carried
through, as might be expected, with his usual untiring energy and
contempt for danger. It is sad to think that a career that opened so
brilliantly should have been doomed to close miserably in the mines of
South America.

Having become partially convinced that there was no high road to be found
between Port Jackson and the Chinese Empire, some of the convicts
(principally the Irish prisoners) became possessed with the notion that a
colony of white people existed three or four hundred miles in the
interior, south-west of the settlement. This tale, highly embellished,
was sufficient to inflame the imaginations of men condemned to servitude,
and panting for liberty. The existing rumour being found out by the
authorities, it proved on investigation that so far had this preposterous
legend gained ground that written instructions had been issued for
guidance to this Arcadia, accompanied with a paper having the figure of a
compass drawn on it. The Governor, wishing to save these foolish dupes
from the punishment and probable loss of life that would necessarily
ensue in carrying out such a wild project, wrote to a magistrate at
Parramatta the following instructions. He was to go to Toongabbie, where
most of these infatuated men were employed, and, knowing how impossible
it would be to reason them out of their belief, he was to inform them
that four picked men would be allowed to start out and satisfy themselves
of the impossibility of any show of success attending their search, and
that in order to ensure their safe return three experienced men would be
sent as guides with them.

On receipt of this information so many assembled that stricter measures
had to be taken, and sixteen of the number were arrested and sent to
Sydney for punishment. Four men were then selected by the malcontents
themselves, and were about to depart in search of the supposed colony
when a treacherous plot was discovered. A scheme was on foot for a
stronger party of convicts to abscond, and these meeting the explorers at
a pre-arranged spot, should there murder the guides, and having possessed
themselves of their weapons, the prisoners would be at liberty to
prosecute their researches alone. Four soldiers were added to the party
to resist any attempt of this sort, and on the 14th January, 1798, they
left Parramatta in search of El Dorada.

Amongst the men chosen to act as guides was one James Wilson, who had for
some time previously been living in the bush with the natives, and had
even submitted to his body being marked and scarred after their fashion.
On his return from this nomadic existence, he stated that he had
traversed the country for nearly one hundred miles in every direction
around the settlement, and discoursed at length upon having seen large
tracts of open country, and many strange birds and animals, unknown to
the settlers. His stories were for the most part discredited, but it was
thought that his experiences would be most useful to the party, and he
was therefore selected.

Ten days after the explorers left, the soldiers returned with three of
the delegates. On reaching the foot of the mountains, where it was
arranged that the soldiers were to leave the party and return home, these
three men were so thoroughly tired of their quest, and convinced of their
folly, that they had begged to be allowed to go back.

On the 9th February the remainder of the expedition reached Prospect Hill
more dead than alive. Wilson alone had kept heart, and managed to sustain
the flagging spirits of his companions sufficiently to enable them to
stagger in to the settlement.

Their report of the surroundings of the colony contained little more than
what was already known or guessed at. They described the country passed
over as alternating between barren, rocky ridges and spacious meadows.
Running creeks had been crossed, and they turned back on the bank of a
river which they described as being as large as the Hawkesbury, with
level country in view on the opposite side.

They had seen but few natives, and those they saw were clothed in skins
from head to foot. Amongst other novelties they had noticed the blue-gum
trees, the mountain wallaroo, which had drawn their attention from being
larger and fatter than those formerly familiar to them, a kind of
pheasant, as they described it, now known as the lyre-bird, a specimen of
which the brought back with them, and a kind of mole, the modern wombat,
one of which formed their last meal before reaching the settlement. These
accounts corroborated the former reports made by Wilson. This expedition
was, however, of not much service from a geographical point of view, from
the unreliability of the course kept.

The party also reported coming across a hill of salt, and in the month of
March, Henry Hacking was sent out to inspect it. He was accompanied by
Wilson and another man, who were supplied with provisions and directed to
penetrate as far into the country as their supplies would permit. Hacking
found that several veins of salt existed, and the two men stated that
they had succeeded in getting 140 miles S.W. by W. from Prospect Hill.
During their journey they had travelled over many varieties of country,
crossing a number of narrow creeks and rivers with which the land was
intersected. They passed through much promising country and much that was
unpromising. From the summits of some of the higher hills that they
ascended, they had extensive views to the westward, and as usual, saw
mountain rising upon mountain in that direction. They brought back
another specimen of the lyre-bird.

In the year '97 preceding this trip, some convicts had boarded and seized
a colonial-built boat, called the CUMBERLAND, during her passage to the
Hawkesbury. The crew were landed at Pitt Water, and making their way from
there overland gave information of the piracy. Two boats under Lieutenant
Shortland started in pursuit. One returned in a few days, but Shortland
with the other went as far north as Port Stephens without, however,
seeing anything of the pirates. His voyage was not by any means destitute
of result, as on his return he found a river; "into which he carried
three fathoms of water in the shoalest part of its entrance, finding deep
water and good anchorage within. The entrance of this river was but
narrow, and covered by a high rocky island, lying right off, so as to
leave a good passage round the north end of the island between that and
the shore. A reef connects the south part of the island with the south
shore of the entrance of the river. In this harbour was found a very
considerable quantity of coal of a very good sort, and lying so near the
water's side as to be conveniently shipped; which gave it, in this
particular, manifest advantage over that discovered to the southward.
Some specimens of this coal were brought up in the boat." In the
foregoing description, the Hunter River and the present harbour of
Newcastle will be easily recognised.

In July, of the year '99, Flinders was instructed by the Governor to
examine the two large openings marked by Cook on the east coast, namely,
Glass House Bay and Hervey Bay. Glass House Bay--now Moreton Bay--was so
called after some remarkable peaks that were visible on the north side.
These peaks Captain Flinders made an excursion to examine, and from the
summit of one obtained an extended view over the surrounding country,
nothing novel, however, being seen. At Hervey's Bay, too, the only
additional information gained, was of a nautical character, the natives
seeming to be the most interesting objects met with.

Wilson, whose career amongst the natives, and as an explorer is most
notable, now met his death in a sufficiently tragic, if appropriate,
manner. This man had served the term of his transportation, and both as a
convict and a free man had passed a great part of his time wandering
through the bush with the aboriginals. He had been suspected, justly or
unjustly, of prompting the blacks to attack the settlers; aiding them
with his knowledge of the habits of the whites, and the best season for
carrying out their designs. At any rate, his long intercourse with the
natives had rendered him careless of consequences, and a flagrant
violation of their customs led to his being speared.

During the governorship of Captain King, Ensign Barraillier came to the
front as an explorer. He was notably an accurate and painstaking
surveyor, and although his expeditions were circumscribed by the ever
present barrier of the Blue Mountains, he was evidently an indefatigable
worker in the cause of science. From a letter of Governor King's,
addressed to Sir Joseph Banks in May, 1803, we learn something of
Barraillier, and also of the petty private squabbles that prevailed
amongst the colonists, even in the highest quarters. Governor King

"As our maritime surveying is now turned over to Captain Flinders, who
has the LADY NELSON with him, by the Admiralty's direction, I had begun
making discoveries in the interior by means of Ensign Barraillier. He has
been one journey, and went twenty miles from the first range of hills,
till his further course was interrupted by a river running north, which
is a curious circumstance, being in the mountains. He described it as
wide as the Thames at Kingston. Some native iron he found, and also an
imperfect limestone, and the dung of an unknown animal. Samples of
everything he there found will be sent by the GREENWICH (whaler), and I
did hope to have been able to add something farther from another journey
he was about undertaking, and for which purpose I had established a chain

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