Part 4 out of 8
channel. The banks of these watercourses on the plains, as I have
elsewhere observed, are the highest parts of the ground. This higher
ground appeared here to rise towards the west, along the banks of the
brook which, flowing also westward, seemed to run up hill.
ROCKS OF NUNDEWAR.
The soil was mixed with pebbles of vesicular trap, probably amygdaloid
with the kernels decomposed, and containing particles of olivine. There
were also pebbles of a quartzose conglomerate, and others of decomposed
porphyry, the base consisting of granular felspar, with crystals of
common felspar. It is not improbable that good millstones might be
obtained from the range of Nundewar. The grass was fortunately much
better here than at the last camp.
During the night a heavy thunderstorm broke over us, and was accompanied
by so much rain that the ground was too soft in the morning for us to
proceed. I accordingly halted till one o'clock. We then succeeded in
crossing the brook immediately above our encampment, and continued, first
southward to avoid a scrub, and then almost east. On a portion of open
ground the progress of the party was slow enough, but in an open kind of
scrub, where I hoped to have got on better, the ground proved to be still
less favourable, for water lay in hollows which at any season might have
been soft and were then impassable. The cattle at length could draw no
longer, the carts sinking to the axles; by attaching a double team
however and drawing each cart successively forward to our intended camp,
we effected the transit of the whole by sunset, and fixed our home for
the night on a hard bank of gravel beside Meadow Ponds, and to my no
small satisfaction, on the line of our former track. We had travelled
five miles only, but to hit this point, which was exactly at an angle of
that route, was a desideratum with me, and we had now before us a line of
marked trees leading homewards, and relieving me from all further anxiety
as to the line to be pursued.
The ponds were now united by a stream of beautifully clear water, and
were so far different from those we had left that morning in which the
water had a clayey or muddy colour. During this day's journey we killed a
snake measuring seven feet in length and eight inches in diameter; and
the fat of this reptile was considered a useful addition to a dish at
dinner. In the watercourse we found pebbles similar to those at the last
Proceeding at an early hour we now traversed, with satisfaction, the
scrub through which, during very hot weather, we had formerly been
obliged to cut our way. The ground beyond it was soft, and the labour
distressing to our jaded cattle. About three P.M. we encamped on a rising
ground where some water, which had fallen during the late rains, had
lodged in hollows, in sufficient abundance to satisfy our wants. In
respect to this essential article, indeed, the late rains had supplied
enough to leave me more at liberty in the choice of camps. From the site
selected here the view of the mountains to the eastward was rather fine,
especially as the ground sloped towards them. Behind us on the west was a
dense scrub; not the most pleasant of neighbours when savage natives were
CIVILITY OF THE TRIBE FIRST MET.
We traversed without much difficulty the plains where we had, on our
advance, halted to make certain repairs; and we next entered the scrub
where I had presented the tomahawk to the young native as a reward for
the confidence with which he had approached us, when the rest of his
tribe fell back. We had not advanced far beyond the scene of that
interview when I perceived a number of natives running before me along
our line of route. I hastened after them, when I perceived several men
advancing to meet me. They halted in a rather formal manner at some
distance, and I next came upon their spears which, with a stone hatchet,
had been laid across our track. There I alighted from my horse, and
proceeded slowly towards them on foot, inviting them as well as I could
to come forward, and which they accordingly did. Three men met me at
halfway. One of these seemed rather old, another was very stout and fat,
and the third had an intelligent countenance and thin person, but was so
thickly covered with the most raised sort of scarifications that I was
half inclined to think that the slightness of his frame might be partly
owing to the lacerations which covered it. Other members of the tribe
soon joined us, and as the carts by this time had arrived at the spears
on the ground I took one up and explained to the natives that the wheels
passing over would break them; still these strange people would not
remove them, and I concluded that this prostration of their weapons was
intended to make us acquainted with their friendly disposition towards
us. They began to call loudly to their gins, who stood assembled under a
large tree at some distance, and we plainly understood the invitation of
the men to visit these females. But our party was much more disposed to
fight than make love; and I have little doubt that by throwing a single
spear the natives would have pleased them more than by all the civility
they were evidently anxious to show us; so desirous were they, at that
time, to avenge the late murders--when even the odour of corruption still
hung like a pestilence about the articles recovered from the plundered
camp. The natives however PERHAPS out of pure cordiality in return for
our former disinterested kindness, persisted in their endeavours to
introduce us very particularly to their women. They ordered them to come
up, divested of their cloaks and bags, and placed them before us. Most of
the men appeared to possess two, the pair in general consisting of a fat
plump gin, and one much younger. Each man placed himself before his gins
and, bowing forward with a shrug, the hands and arms being thrown back
pointing to each gin, as if to say: Take which you please. The females on
their part evinced no apprehensions, but seemed to regard us beings of a
race so different without the slightest indication of either fear,
aversion, or surprise. Their looks were rather expressive of a ready
acquiescence in the proffered kindness of the men, and when at length
they brought a sable nymph vis-a-vis to Mr. White, I could preserve my
gravity no longer and, throwing the spears aside, I ordered the
bullock-drivers to proceed. I endeavoured to explain by gestures that two
of our party had been killed by their countrymen, and pointed to the
place so that, as Mr. White thought, they understood me. On seeing the
party again in motion most of the natives disappeared, one or two only
lingered behind trees, and it then occurred to me to offer them a small
iron tomahawk in exchange for that of stone which lay beside the spears.
I therefore sent Dawkins to them to make a bargain if he could, but on
going back he saw most of the natives running off with spears in their
hands, and could not make his object understood by those who remained.
The earth in this part of our old track had become very soft and,
although the surface undulated, it possessed a peculiar rottenness, so
that where the upper crust bore me on horseback the carts would suddenly
sink to the axle. The horses at length began also to sink through the
surface crust, and we were approaching a hollow which appeared likely to
be still worse, when our wheel-carriages at length got quite fast and
then, recollecting some gestures of the natives, I understood their
meaning. They had pointed forward along the way we were pursuing, holding
the hands as high as the breast as if to show how deep; and then to the
eastward, as if to say: that direction would be better. We were now
forced to retrace our steps, and in following the course indicated by the
natives we made a slight detour, and travelled over hard ground into our
old track again. This useful information given so kindly by these natives
convinced me that no treachery was intended, although among the men, who
had so recently buried their comrades, I believe a different opinion
No other impediment obstructed our progress through these woods, which
consisted of the ironbark species of eucalyptus, and we soon emerged on
the plains where the surface, being composed of clay, was found much the
best for travelling upon at that season, and altogether free from that
rottenness which, in some parts of the forest, had this day so greatly
impeded the party. We encamped on the ground which we had formerly
occupied at Lobster Pond.
During this and the two preceding days the party was tormented by a very
large species of mosquito which had not been previously seen on this
journey. They were most troublesome when the morning was growing warm.
Their colour was grey, and they had thin black parallel stripes on the
back. We met these tormenting insects on first entering the woods from
the plains. During the drought a smaller species had been troublesome at
night, as I had frequently experienced when obliged to sit, sextant in
hand, awaiting the passage of stars near the meridian. I found that the
burning a little bullock dung in my tent cleared it of all mosquitoes for
This morning we were early en route in hopes to reach the Namoi. I took
care to find again the tree which bore the yellow flowers; as it
certainly was rare, being the only one of the description seen throughout
the journey. Now however the flowers had given place to young fruit which
were of the size of an acorn, and grew on a long hooked stalk.*
(*Footnote. See Chapter 2.8 of next Journey for a description of this
In crossing the low ridge which separates the plains from the Namoi we
again toiled through very soft ground. It occurred chiefly on the sides
of slopes, and in the midst of forests of eucalypti, where I should have
expected the hardest kind of surface. We made the Namoi however in good
time; this being the first of our former stages which we had been able to
accomplish in one day since the wet weather commenced. The late rains had
produced no change in the waters of this river; a circumstance showing
perhaps that less had fallen in the south-east than on the plains where
we had been.
None of the kind of fish that we most prized (Gristes peelii) could now
be caught in this river, though abundance of that which the men commonly
called bream (Cernua bidyana) a very coarse but firm fish which makes a
groaning noise when taken out of the water; and here it may be observed
that the colour of the cod or Peel's perch was lighter, and that of the
eel-fish (tandanus) darker in the Karaula than in any other river.
REGAIN THE NAMOI.
A fine cool morning. I attempted to cut off a slight detour in our old
track by travelling nearer to the course of the Namoi; but a soft and
swampy flat soon compelled me to seek the former wheel-marks, and even to
proceed still nearer to the base of the hills, for the sake of hard
ground. We next travelled westward of our line, thus crossing an
excellent tract of country; and without further impediment we arrived on
Maule's creek, which we crossed with all our carts and equipment to
encamp on the left bank. The limpid stream was not much, if at all,
From this side of the country, now that smoke no longer obscured the
horizon, the outline of the great range was very bold, a lofty and very
prominent pyramid crowning the most elevated south-western extremity, and
forming as important a point for the survey of the country to the
south-west as Mount Riddell presents for that towards the north-west.
This point I named Mount Forbes after my friend Captain Forbes, 39th
Regiment, then commanding the mounted police in New South Wales. That
great range presents three principal heads, of which Mounts Riddell and
Forbes are the northern and southern, the central or highest being Mount
The party moved to the former encampment at Bullabalakit. In passing near
the place where we set up our tents on quitting the canvas boats, I
sought my buried specimens of rocks, and found that, for once, I had been
able to hide so that the natives could not find. The treasure however
consisted only of stones. My notes addressed to Mr. Finch, which I had
hidden in trees as we advanced, never escaped their notice, neither had
the provisions left for the use of my unfortunate courier Bombelli at the
camp we now again occupied been suffered to remain where we had
cautiously buried them. All the planks of sawn timber left at our old
saw-pit had been collected in a heap and partly burnt.
From the hill over the camp the view of the horizon was at length
unobscured by smoke, and I found it possible to connect the distant
points of the Nundewar range, with those then between us and the colony.
Many hills which I had not before seen to the eastward were also visible.
A heavy thundershower fell in the afternoon, and it was accompanied by a
violent gale of wind which blew down Mr. White's tent, and very
materially injured mine.
TWO STRANGERS ON HORSEBACK.
The party continued towards that portion of the Namoi at which we first
arrived on advancing into those desolate regions, and we passed our old
encampment beside The Barber's stockyard near Tangulda. After travelling
about eight miles we met Mr. Brown of Wallamoul and his stockman on
horseback. They had followed our track thus far on the information they
had received from the native, Mr. Brown, and were proceeding to examine
The Barber's stockyard. They informed us that our native guide confessed
to them that his dread of the savage natives had induced him to return.
The men caught several large cod (Peel's perch) one of which weighed 13
pounds. The river remained unswollen.
As we continued our homeward journey Mr. Brown overtook us. He had found
various brands of his cattle on portions of hide about the stock-yard. He
assured me I should find no water at my old encampment where I intended
again to halt, for that he had passed the previous night there without
water. I however had the satisfaction to find as much as ever on the
rocky bed of the watercourse where it is not so liable to be absorbed.
ASCEND MOUNT WARROGA.
Having arrived early at this spot I again ascended the range, and
proceeded along its crests to one of the highest summits, named Warroga.
From this point I could at length recognise Mount Murulla, Oxley's Pic,
Moan, and other pinnacles of the Liverpool range, and with which I now
connected my last station upon the Namoi. From Ydire, a hill nearer the
camp, I also obtained, in returning, some observations, and one angle of
great value with Mount Forbes, much required for the purpose of mapping
the country we had explored. On the side of Warroga, we saw a very large
black wallaroo which sat looking at us with apparent curiosity.
Scurvy now began to affect the party. We endeavoured to counteract the
progress of this disease by plentiful issues of limejuice, and some
portable vegetable soups, but of the latter we had but a very small
supply. Dysentery did not alarm us much for The Doctor generally set the
patients to rights in eight and forty hours with something he found in
the medicine chest.
The morning was fine* when we again saw the plains of Mullaba on passing
through the gorge under Mount Ydire. As we travelled across the plains,
on which the young verdure, first offspring of the late rain, already
began to shoot, four emus were observed quietly feeding at no great
distance, apparently heedless of our party. I approached them with my
rifle, on a steady old horse, and found that this large quadruped,
however strange a sight, did not in the least alarm those gigantic birds,
even when I rode close up. I alighted, leveled my rifle over the saddle
and fired but missed, as I presumed, for the bird merely performed a sort
of pirouette, and then recommenced feeding with the others as before. I
had no means of reloading without returning to the party, but I was
content with discovering that these birds might be thus approached on
horseback for in general the first appearance of men, although miles
distant, puts them at once to their speed which, on soft loose earth,
perhaps surpasses that of a horse.
(*Footnote. "Felicissimos eran los tiempos" (the weather was fine) said
Cervantes, which words Smollett literally translated: "Happy were the
times." Both meanings would apply to our case then.)
The ford of Wallanburra was now our only separation from the christian
world. That once passed, we might joyfully bid adieu to pestilence and
famine, the lurking savage, and every peril of flood and field. Under the
sense of perfect security once more, and relieved from the anxiety
inseparable from such a charge, every object within the territory of
civilised man appeared to me tinged couleur de rose.
RE-CROSS THE PEEL.
The Peel was crossed without difficulty, and on the following morning,
leaving the party in charge of Mr. White, I commenced my ride homeward
through the woods, followed only by my man Brown; and on reaching
Segenhoe I forwarded to the Government my official despatch, announcing
the return of the party, and the result of the expedition.
On my arrival at Sydney I learnt that the life of the convict Clarke had
been spared, and that my report of the course of the Peel and the Namoi
coinciding, as notified in my first despatch, with his description of
these rivers, had encouraged the Government to place more confidence in
his story. It was now obvious however that the account of his travels
beyond Tangulda was little else than pure invention. I examined him in
the hulk at Sydney in the presence of the acting Governor, and was quite
satisfied that he had never been beyond the Nundewar range. Nevertheless
he persisted in his story of the river, and a party of mounted police
commanded by Captain Forbes of the 39th regiment repaired to the Namoi,
in search of a gang of bushrangers, but not without hopes of finding the
That active and enterprising officer reached the Gwydir in latitude 29
degrees 27 minutes 37 seconds South, longitude 150 degrees 5 minutes
East. Tracing upwards its course, or a branch of this river, he arrived
near the western extremity of the Nundewar range, and ascended the hill
named by him Mount Albuera. Being accompanied by a native of Bathurst, he
ascertained that the aboriginal name of the singular-looking hill forming
the western extremity of that range was Courada (the name of The Barber's
burning mountain) and his plains of Ballyran were found to be those
crossed by my party in returning from Snodgrass Lagoon.
This journey of discovery proved that any large river flowing to the
north-west must be far to the northward of latitude 29 degrees. All the
rivers south of that parallel, and which had been described by The Barber
as falling into such a river as the Kindur, have been ascertained to
belong wholly to the basin of the Darling.
The country we traversed was very eligible in many parts for the
formation of grazing establishments, as a proof of which it may be
mentioned that flocks of sheep soon covered the plains of Mulluba, and
that the country around The Barber's stockyard has, ever since the return
of the expedition, been occupied by the cattle of Sir John Jamieson. At a
still greater distance from the settled districts much valuable land will
be found around the base of the Nundewar range. The region beyond these
mountains, or between them and the Gwydir, is beautiful; and in the
vicinity, or within sight, of the high land, it is sufficiently well
watered to become an important addition to the pastoral capabilities of
New South Wales.
METEOROLOGICAL JOURNAL KEPT DURING THE EXPEDITION TO THE NORTH-WEST, AND
COMMENCED ON CROSSING LIVERPOOL RANGE, DECEMBER 5, 1831.
COLUMN 1: DATE.
COLUMN 2: WINDS, A.M.
COLUMN 3: WINDS, P.M.
COLUMN 4: CLOUDS, A.M.
COLUMN 5: CLOUDS, P.M.
COLUMN 6: THERMOMETER (IN THE SHADE), SUNRISE.
COLUMN 7: THERMOMETER (IN THE SHADE), NOON.
COLUMN 8: THERMOMETER (IN THE SHADE), 4 P.M.
COLUMN 9: THERMOMETER (IN THE SHADE), SUNSET.
COLUMN 10: REMARKS.
5 : North-west : North-west : Clear : Clear : 70 : 96 : 94 : 86 : Hot
6 : - : North-North-west : - : - : 64 : 95 : 98 : 90 : -.
7 : - : North-west : Cirrus : Nimbus : 84 : 92 : 96 : 84 : A.M., sultry,
P.M., thunder and showers.
8 : Calm : South-South-East : Cirro-cumulus : Sky clear : 68 : 81 : 90 :
78 : - PM., sultry.
9 : - : North-east : Clear : Clear : 60 : 89 : 90 : 88 : Towards evening
the wind unsettled.
10 : West-South-West : South : Nimbus : Rain : 70 : 68 : 66 : 64 : In the
morning cloudy, rain in the afternoon.
11 : Light North-North-East : South-South-West : Cumulus : Clear : 63 :
79 : 78 : 75 : Fine during the day.
12 : South-West : Calm : Cirro-cumulus : - : 60 : 88 : 76 : 70 : -.
13 : North-North-East : South-South-West : Cumulostratus : Cirrus, Nimbi
below : Clear : 68 : 85 : 78 : 66 : Thunder with light showers.
14 : Calm : South-West : Clear : Cirrus : 60 : 82 : 80 : 74 : Fine
15 : North-North-East : - : Cumulostratus : Cloudy : - : 62 : 80 : 80 :
66 : Overcast and cloudy.
16 : South-South-West : - : Clear : Clear : 52 : 80 : 72 : 60 : The day
clear and fine.
17 : South-West : Calm : - : - : 46 : 87 : 74 : 74 : -.
18 : North-West : North-West : - : - : 52 : 88 : 81 : 76 : -.
19 : West : South-West : - : Hazy : 46 : 84 : 80 : 70 : Strong winds from
20 : North-West : North-West : - : - : 46 : 92 : 84 : 74 : Hot wind.
21 : South-West : South-West : - : Clear : 45 : 84 : 82 : 70 : Fine
22 : Light North-West : North-North-West : - : - : 53 : 92 : 84 : 70 :
Close and sultry.
23 : North-West : Calm : - : - : 58 : 92 : 90 : 75 : -.
24 : South-West : - : - : - : 60 : 92 : 94 : 82 : Fine weather.
25 : North-West : - : - : Cirrostratus : 66 : 96 : 95 : 84 : Wind
26 : - : South-South-West : Cirrus : - : 68 : 96 : 94 : 86 : P.M. a
cooling South-west breeze.
27 : Calm : Light North-West air : Clear : Clear : 58 : 96 : 94 : 84 :
28 : - : Calm : - : Cirrus : 58 : 98 : 94 : 80 : Not a breath of wind.
29 : - : - : - : Nimbus : 56 : 94 : 91 : 83 : -.
30 : Light North-West airs : East-South-East : - : - : 54 : 93 : 87 : 78
: Thunder in the distance.
31 : Calm : Calm : - : - : 53 : 92 : 79 : 74 : Fine weather.
1 : North-West : West : - : - : 61 : 99 : 94 : 82 : Excessively sultry at
2 : - : North-West : Cumulostratus : Thunderclouds : 69 : 91 : 95 : 88 :
The breeze pleasantly cool from the North-west.
3 : - : Calm : Clear : - : 73 : 101 : 96 : 87 : - Distant thunder.
4 : - : North : Cirrus : - : 76 : 108 : 102 : 86 : Uncommon heat during
5 : North-North-East : North-west : - : Clear : 76 : 100 : 98 : 88 : Air
from the North-North-East cool and refreshing.
6 : North-west : Calm : Cirrus and Cumulostratus : Cloudy : 77 : 99.5 :
96 : 88 : Hot wind.
7 : West : - : Thunderclouds : Thunderclouds : 78 : 100 : 98 : 86 : A.M.,
light showers, PM., clearing off.
8 : North : North-West : Overcast : Overcast : 76 : 82 : 82 : 76 :
Overcast and threatening.
9 : East : North-east : - : - : 70 : 82 : 80 : 76 : -.
10 : South-East : East-South-East : Rain : Rain : 70 : 80 : 76 : 71 :
11 : South-South-East : South : - : - : 68 : 74 : 73 : 70 : Heavy rain
during the day.
12 : South-South-West : South-West : Thunderclouds : Thunderclouds : 70 :
86 : 72 : 69 : Thunder, with light showers at intervals.
13 : North : North-West : Cirrus : Clear : 71 : 91 : 92 : 71 : Fine
14 : North-East : - : Nimbus : Cirrus : 75 : 92 : 90 : 78 : -.
15 : North : North-East : Clear : - : 63 : 96 : 92 : 84 : -.
16 : - : North-North-East : Cirrus : Clear : 69 : 92 : 95 : 87 : -.
17 : Calm : South-West : Cumulostratus : Thunderclouds : 71 : 95 : 102 :
88 : Fair weather.
18 : North-North-West : North : Cirrus above Cumulostratus : Cirrus : 72
: 94 : 97 : 86 : -.
19 : North : North-East : Cumulostratus : Cumulostratus : 77 : 97 : 96 :
88 : Hot wind.
20 : North-West : North-West : Clear : Clear : 76 : 94 : 91 : 84 : -.
21 : West-North-West : - : - : - : 74 : 94 : 97 : 86 : -.
22 : North-East : East : - : Thunderclouds : 74 : 97 : 92 : 82 : -.
23 : - : North-North-West : Overcast : - : 75 : 89 : 88 : 80 : Fine but
24 : East : East-South-East : Rain : Rain : 73 : 74 : 73 : 70 : Steady
25 : South-East : South-East : Overcast : Overcast : 68 : 82 : 81 : 68 :
26 : West-South-West : South-West : Cirrus above Cumulostratus : - : 58 :
84 : 78 : 62 : Clear fine weather.
27 : South-West : - : Cirrus : - : 61 : 85 : 88 : 80 : Fresh breeze.
28 : North-West : Light East-South-East : - : Clear : 64 : 85 : 86 : 78 :
29 : North-North-West : South-West : - : Cirrus : 66 : 86 : 84 : 78 : -.
30 : North-East : North-North-East : Cirrocumulus : - : 65 : 92 : 88 : 76
: Fine cool breezes.
31 : - : East-North-East : Overcast : - : 68 : 86 : 83 : 79 : -.
1 : East-North-East : - : Cirrus : - : 69 : 94 : 90 : 82 : -.
2 : North-East : North-East : - : - : 68 : 96 : 89 : 86 : -.
3 : North-North-East : East-North-East : Clear : Cumulus : 70 : 97 : 89 :
88 : Clear but sultry.
4 : East : East-South-East : Cumulus : - : 72 : 98 : 92 : 88 : -.
5 : North-East : North-East : Clear : Clear : 74 : 98 : 90 : 89 : -.
6 : Light North-East airs : - : - : - : 68 : 97 : 90 : 88 : -.
7 : East-North-East : - : - : - : 70 : 94 : 88 : 82 : -.
8 : South-South-East : South : Cirrus : Cumulus : 70 : 97 : 80 : 84 :
9 : South-East : South-East : Clear : Clear : 66 : 100 : 96 : 88 : A
10 : East-South-East : East-South-East : Cumulus : Cumulus : 68 : 97 : 94
: 84 : -.
11 : South-East : East : Clear : Cumulostratus : 63 : 92 : 93 : 85 : -.
12 : - : South-East : - : Clear : 65 : 97 : 101 : 86 : -.
13 : South-South-East : East : Cirrus : Overcast : 68 : 97 : 84 : 73 :
14 : East-South-East : - : Rain : Rain : 72 : 73.5 : 72 : 72 : Heavy
rains with strong squalls of wind.
15 : North-North-East : North : - : - : 74 : 76 : 75 : 72 : -.
16 : South-South-West : South-South-West : - : Cumulus : 73 : 76 : 77 :
72 : Changeable, the wind shifting in all quarters.
17 : North-West : - : Cirrus : Thunderclouds : 69 : 88 : 93 : 83 : Fair
18 : North : North-East : Cirrus above Cumulus : Cumulus : 68 : 90 : 95 :
80 : -.
19 : North-East : North-North-West : Cumulus : - : 72 : 96 : 100 : 83 :
20 : East : North-East : Showers : Thunderclouds : 69 : 88 : 93 : 83 :
A.M. showery and threatening rain.
21 : North-North-West : North-West : Cumulus : - : 72 : 93 : 98 : 83 :
22 : Calm : Calm : Cirrus above Cumulus : Clear : 69.5 : 94 : 96 : 83.5 :
23 : - : Light South Airs : Cumulus : Cumulus : 71 : 95 : 96 : 83 : Fine.
24 : Light South Airs : West : Cirrus : Cirrus : 72 : 93 : 88 : 82 : -.
25 : Calm : South : Cirrus above Cumulus : Thunderclouds : 71.5 : 95 : 96
: 83 : Light thundershowers.
26 : South-South-West : South-West : Cumulus : Cumulus : 69.5 : 76 : 74 :
70 : Fine weather but overcast.
27 : Light North-East : Light North-East : - : - : 66 : 82 : 84 : 72 : -.
28 : South : South : Cirrus above Cumulus : Cirrus above Cumulus : 59 :
88 : 87 : 80 : -.
29 : Calm : North-North-West : Overcast : Overcast : 69.5 : 83 : 80 : 72
: Cloudy, likely to rain.
JOURNAL OF AN EXPEDITION SENT TO EXPLORE THE COURSE OF THE RIVER DARLING,
BY ORDER OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT.
Supposed course of the Darling.
Mr. Dixon's survey of the Bogan.
Description of the boat carriage.
Number and description of the party.
Expedition leaves Parramatta.
My departure from Sydney.
Western part of Cumberland.
County of Cook.
The Blue Mountains.
Mounts Hay and Tomah.
Early attempts to trace it upwards.
Pass of Mount Victoria.
Advantages of convict labour.
Country of Mulgoey.
General arrangement of towns and villages.
The mountain road.
Vale of Clywd.
River Cox and intended bridge.
Plains of Bathurst.
Inconvenience of want of arrangement in early colonization.
Departure from Bathurst.
Road to Buree.
Arrival at the camp of the party.
SUPPOSED COURSE OF THE DARLING.
On returning to Sydney from the banks of the Karaula my attention was
immediately drawn to other duties, and especially to those of the
department of roads and bridges, which had also been placed under my
I did however entertain hopes that I should be permitted at a subsequent
period to continue my journey towards the north-west.
In May 1833 the local authorities were informed that His Majesty's
Government judged it expedient an expedition should be undertaken to
explore the course of the River Darling, and that this service should be
performed by the survey department.
Until that time I had understood the supposed course of the Darling to
have been sufficiently evident, but from the necessity for this survey
and circumstances which I had not, until then, fully considered, I began
to entertain doubts on that subject. It seemed probable, from the
divergent courses of the Macquarie and Lachlan, that these rivers might
belong to separate basins, and that the dividing ridge might be the very
elevated range which Mr. Oxley had seen extending westward between them.
It was obvious that this range, if continuous, must separate the basin of
the Darling from that of the river Murray.
MR. DIXON'S SURVEY OF THE BOGAN.
As a preliminary step towards the exploration of the Darling, Mr. Dixon
was sent, in October 1833, with instructions to trace the ranges between
the rivers Lachlan and Macquarie, by proceeding westward from Wellington
Valley. Instead however of doing this, Mr. Dixon first followed the
Macquarie downwards from Wellington Valley, and then crossing to the
Bogan, which flowed at that time bank-high, he followed the course of
this river for 67 miles, and finally returned without having seen any of
the high land between the Macquarie and the Lachlan which he had been
sent to investigate. A season so favourable for exploring that high land
did not occur for four years afterwards, but it was within that period,
and during a long-continued drought, that the two succeeding expeditions
were sent to ascertain the course of the Darling.
Preparations had been made for the departure of the expedition in the
month of March following, but my duties as a commissioner to investigate
claims to grants of land having been then urgent, the undertaking was
deferred until the next season.*
(*Footnote. A report had also been required of me by his Majesty's
government on the business of my department generally, and the duties
required under a commission for a survey and division of the Colony,
DESCRIPTION OF THE BOAT CARRIAGE.
In the meantime two light whale boats were built by Mr. Eager of the
dockyard at Sydney; and wood was cut for the felloes of wheels which
would be required for a boat-carriage and carts, and it was laid up to
season in the lumber yard at Parramatta.
In completing the equipment for the journey, in the following year, at
the same place, I was much indebted to the zealous assistance of Mr.
Simpson of the department of roads.
The boat-carriage was constructed according to a model made by my friend
Mr. Dunlop, King's Astronomer at Parramatta, and the plan of it will be
easily understood by the accompanying figure. One boat was made to fit
within the other, the thwarts of the larger, or outer one, being taken
out. The double boat thus formed was suspended on belts of canvas which
supported it buoyant and clear of the framework. Those parts of the
canvas of the carriage most liable to friction were guarded with
sheepskin and greased hide. The smaller boat was suspended within the
larger, also on canvas, so as to swing clear of the outer boat's sides;
and the whole was covered by a tarpaulin thrown over a ridge pole.
NUMBER AND DESCRIPTION OF THE PARTY.
Besides Mr. Richard Cunningham, who was attached to the expedition as
botanist, Mr. Larmer, a very young assistant surveyor, was appointed to
accompany me; the services of the other officers of the department being
required for duties within the settled districts.
The following men composed the party:
ALEXANDER BURNETT: Overseer.
ROBERT WHITING: Carpenter.
WILLIAM WOODS, JOHN PALMER, THOMAS JONES: Sailors.
JOHN SOUTER: Medical Attendant.
ROBERT MUIRHEAD, Charles Hammond, John Baldwin, Joseph Herbert, William
Thomas, Thomas Murray, Edward Gayton, Charles King: Bullock-drivers.
William Baldock: Groom.
JOSEPH JONES: Shepherd.
John Johnston: Blacksmith.
John Bulger: Shoemaker.
ANTHONY BROWN: Servant to Major Mitchell.
George Squires: Servant to Mr. Cunningham.
Thomas Reeves: Servant to Mr. Larmer.
Nine of these men (distinguished by italics) had been under my command on
my former expedition, and were consequently well acquainted with the
service. Their subsequent steady conduct also satisfied me as to their
eligibility for the contemplated journey.
EXPEDITION LEAVES PARRAMATTA.
At noon on the 9th March, 1835 I had, at length, the satisfaction of
seeing this party leave Parramatta with an equipment fit for the
undertaking. The boats appeared to swim very well in their carriage,
which was followed by seven carts, and as many packhorses, affording the
means of carrying provisions for five months. Two mountain barometers
were borne by two men, the only service required of them while
travelling. The whole party in motion towards the unknown interior, and
prepared for sea or land, was to me a most gratifying spectacle. The
cares of preparation were at an end, and I could still count on three
weeks of comparative leisure at Sydney, during which time I could arrange
the business of my office. The cattle station at Buree, where I intended
to commence operations, was distant 170 miles from Sydney, and as it was
necessary that the party should travel slowly in crossing the mountains
with the boat-carriage, and equally indispensable that the cattle should
rest some days after arriving at Buree; I calculated that the expedition
could not be ready to advance from that point in less than three weeks
from the time at which it left Parramatta.
MY DEPARTURE FROM SYDNEY.
On the 31st of March I quitted Sydney on the important errand of
geographical discovery. My horse, which had been in training by Brown for
some weeks, seemed impatient of roads, and full of spirit, a pleasant
sensation at all times to the rider, and very congenial to the high
excitement of such an enterprise.
We soon arrived at Parramatta, where I obtained the loan of a good
chronometer from Mr. Dunlop at the observatory. Having noted various
important memoranda and suggestions, and partaken of an early dinner, I
bade my scientific and obliging friend farewell, and pursued my journey
along the western road.
WESTERN PART OF CUMBERLAND.
I arrived in a few hours at Emu ferry, on the river Hawkesbury, the
boundary there of the county of Cumberland. I had traversed the county in
its greatest width by this western route; and thus crossed by far the
best portion. Unlike the northern sandstone district, where the road
towards Wiseman's ferry could be made only by following one continuous
ridge, the surface being intersected by deep and precipitous ravines, we
were enabled here, the surface rock being trap, to travel along a
perfectly straight road over a gently undulating surface. The soil in
this district is good, consisting chiefly of decomposed trap. The land is
wholly in the hands of individuals, and, in a climate sufficiently moist,
would answer well for cultivation. The road passes near Prospect Hill,
which is the most conspicuous eminence in the county, and is cultivated
to the summit. The rich red soil derived from the subjacent trap-rock
produces crops as abundantly now as when it was first tilled, upwards of
thirty years ago.
Nearly the whole of the western portion of this county consists of soil
equally good; but it remains for the most part occupied by the original
wood. It is however very generally enclosed by substantial fencing, and
affords good pasturage. There is some rich alluvial land on both banks of
the Hawkesbury, and some of it, near this road, is let for as much as 20
shillings per acre.
The mansion of Sir John Jamieson, situated several miles above Emu,
commands an extensive view over that noble stream, the rich margins of
which are hemmed in, on the west, by the abrupt precipices of the Blue
mountains. The intermediate space beyond the ford is called Emu plains.
At the inn near this ford I passed the night, being desirous to cross the
Blue mountains next day.
At daybreak we crossed the river in the punt. The Hawkesbury is 130 yards
broad at this ferry, being the broadest freshwater stream known in
Australia before the discovery of the Murray.
COUNTY OF COOK.
We now entered the county of Cook, so named by me in considering that its
lofty summits must have been the first land that met the eye of the
celebrated navigator on his first approach to the eastern coast.
THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
Here again we meet with that precipitous, inaccessible kind of country
which distinguishes the sandstone formation, so extensive in Australia.
This arenaceous deposit, for a long time, confined the colonists within
the line of the Hawkesbury, and until the want of fresh pastures during
dry seasons compelled them to explore these rocky regions. One party
succeeded in penetrating the country to the westward by following the
continuous line of high land which separates the ravines of the valley of
the river Cox on one side from those which belong to the valley of the
Grose on the other. In this direction the road to the interior country
was accordingly opened by Governor Macquarie; and the ravines on each
side are too deep and precipitous to admit of any extensive alteration of
the line, although it has recently been much improved, especially in the
ascent to these mountains above Emu, and in the descent from them to the
interior country. These were the chief difficulties in making the
original road across this mountain mass, as the old passes of Lapstone
Hill and Mount York still testify. The upper region being once gained, it
presents considerable uniformity of feature, at least along the
connecting ridge. The rise is gradual from a height of about 1000 feet
above Emu plains to 3,400 feet, its maximum, near King's Tableland, 25
miles further westward.
This mass of sandstone is intersected by ravines, deep in proportion to
the height of the surface, until the profound depth of the valleys
adjacent to the Weatherboard Inn and Blackheath, enclosed by rocky
precipices, imparts a wild grandeur to the scenery, of a very uncommon
(*Footnote. Not less remarkable is the fact that the outlets or mouths of
these stupendous and extensive valleys on each side, are extremely
NARROW; as is evident on the general map of the colony. What can have
become of the matter so scooped out? See Chapter 3.15 Volume 2.)
ROADS AND ROCKS.
The whole mass consists of a coarse, ferruginous sandstone, composed of
angular or slightly worn grains of quartz cemented by oxide of iron.
There is scarcely a patch of land along the line of road fit for
cultivation. One solitary spot, rather better than the rest, has been
wisely appropriated for an inn, and at a point very convenient for
travellers, being about halfway across these mountains. This inn is about
2,800 feet above the sea, and the clouds and temperature give it the
climate of England. Potatoes of an excellent quality grow there, also
gooseberries; and a fire is as frequently agreeable as in the latitude of
52 degrees North.
MOUNTS HAY AND TOMAH.
The only summits which meet the traveller's eye above the common horizon
are Mounts Hay and Tomah, situated about twelve miles northward of the
road--the river Grose passing between them. These heights consist of
trap-rock and grey porphyry, and like Warrawolong,* are crowned with
(*Footnote. See above.)
Some idea may be formed of the intricate character of the mountain
ravines in that neighbourhood from the difficulties experienced by the
surveyors in endeavouring to obtain access to Mount Hay.
EARLY ATTEMPTS TO TRACE IT UPWARDS.
Mr. Dixon, in an unsuccessful attempt, penetrated to the valley of the
Grose, until then unvisited by any European; and when he at length
emerged from ravines in which he had been bewildered four days, without
reaching Mount Hay, he thanked God (to use his own words in an official
letter) that he had found his way out of them. (See the accompanying View
of the Grose; also a general view of the sandstone territory, in Volume 2
Mr. Govett was afterwards employed by me to make a detailed survey of the
various ramifications of these ravines by tracing each in succession from
the general line of road; and thus by a patient survey of the whole he
ascertained at length the ridge connected with Mount Hay, and was the
first to ascend it. Guided by Mr. Govett I was thus enabled to place my
theodolite on that summit. I found the scenery immediately around it very
wild, consisting of stupendous perpendicular cliffs, 3000 feet deep, at
the foot of which the silvery line of the Grose meanders through a green
valley into which neither the colonists nor their cattle have yet
penetrated. Having looked into this valley from the summit of Tomah also
in 1827, I was tempted soon after to endeavour to explore it by ascending
the river from its junction with the Hawkesbury near Richmond; but I had
not proceeded far in this attempt, accompanied by Major Lockyer and Mr.
Dixon, when we were compelled to leave our horses and, soon after, to
scramble on our hands and feet until, at length, even our quadrumanous
progress was arrested in the bed of the river by round boulders which
were as large as houses, and over or between which we found it impossible
The object which I had then in view, with the concurrence of the
Governor, was to carry the western road along the valley of the Grose,
and by cutting a tunnel of about a mile through a ridge at the head of
it, to reach the vale of Clywd, and so avoid the mountains altogether.
The ascent to them from Emu, and the descent from them at Mount York,
were both then extremely bad; so much so indeed, at the latter pass
especially, that a grant of land was publicly offered by the Government
to whoever could point out a better. Both these obstacles have since been
PASS OF MOUNT VICTORIA.
The pass of Mount Victoria, named by me after the youthful Princess and
opened by Governor Bourke in 1832, descends at an inclination of 1 in 15
(where steepest) and avoids the abrupt descent by Mount York.
ADVANTAGES OF CONVICT LABOUR.
The new road from Emu plains, which is still less inclined, has been made
during the government of Sir Richard Bourke, and relieves the Bathurst
teams from the difficulties of Lapstone hill, the ascent of which cost
them a whole day. The value of convict labour to a young colony is
apparent in these new passes, cut in many places out of the solid rock;
and this advantage will be permanently recorded in these works and others
now going forward in different parts of this mountain road, which must
finally make it one of the best in the colony.
COUNTRY OF MULGOEY.
The difference between the lower country on the Hawkesbury and the region
which I have endeavoured to describe is very striking. The rocks are also
different, for on the side of Cumberland they consist of trap, and on the
other or that of the mountains, of sandstone.
The course of the Hawkesbury above Emu plains presents a singular feature
in forcing its way through a very steep-sided ravine, and thus cutting
off a portion of the mountain mass after its channel has previously
bordered on the lower country of Cumberland where no such obstruction is
opposed to its waters, which might there pursue a more direct course to
the sea. The river takes this remarkable turn near the junction of the
Nepean, and there we find in the bed of the stream (at Cox's Basin) a
dark-coloured trap-rock, apparently containing steatitic matter, and
doubtless connected with one of the disturbing operations to which this
fractured country has been exposed.
Beyond the ferry the road crosses Emu plains, a level tract, here about a
mile in width, and intervening between the river and the base of the
mountains. This flat consists chiefly of gravel--composed of large
pebbles, for the greater part quartzose; and in sinking a well, a bed of
them was found in which many were nearly spherical.
A township has been marked out at the ascent of the new road, the
question as to the most eligible situation for a town on Emu plains
having led to the construction of the new pass. The growth of towns
depends very much on the direction of great roads, and must be more
certain, and the allotments consequently more valuable, when the most
eligible line of thoroughfare is ascertained and opened, in the first
instance. Such works of public convenience should precede, as much as
possible, the progress of colonisation. The plan at least should be well
considered before the capital, or the labour, which is the same thing, is
applied. Buildings and other improvements can then be commenced with
greatest certainty of permanent value.
GENERAL ARRANGEMENT OF TOWNS AND VILLAGES.
"Les depenses utiles sont economie," said Guibert, but in new countries
the economy will much depend on the permanent utility of works for which,
in most cases, the necessity should be foreseen. With the example of so
many old countries for our guidance, obstructions to the spread of
population in a new one should be removed, according to plans of general
arrangement, keeping in view the best distribution of towns with respect
to local advantages, and the best sites for all public buildings
requisite for the towns still in embryo. The most advantageous general
lines of direction should be ascertained for the roads--that the public
means may be applied with certainty to their substantial improvement by
removing obstructions and building bridges. On good roads there is
greater inducement to individuals to erect inns; and in well arranged
streets to build good houses--than where uncertainty as to the permanent
direction of the one, or irregularity in the plan or line of the other,
discourage all such undertakings.
It has been my duty to keep these objects in view as sole commissioner
for the division and appropriation of the territory of New South Wales;
and as head also of the department of roads and bridges I have, as far as
lay in my power, applied the means at my disposal, only to works of a
permanently useful character, guided as I have been in my judgment
respecting them by a general survey of the country.
THE MOUNTAIN ROAD.
My ride along the mountain road presented no object worth describing; but
I have frequently found that the most dreary road ceases to appear
monotonous or long after we have acquired a knowledge of the adjacent
country. The ideas of locality are no longer limited like our view by the
trees on each side. The least turn reminds us that we are passing some
antre vast, or lateral ridge, occupying a place in the map which thus
determines our position. In crossing these mountains an extensive
knowledge of the localities relieved the monotony of the road to me and,
being inseparable from it in my mind, the digressions in this part of my
journal will, after this explanation, perhaps appear less objectionable.
Twilight overtook me as I was giving directions to Subinspector Binning
for the completion of the pass at Mount Victoria; and I halted for the
night at a small inn at its foot.
Although some heavy rain had fallen at Sydney and yesterday during my
ride across the mountains yet the grass in this valley, which at other
times had appeared green and abundant, was now parched and scanty. A
swampy hollow across which a long bridge had been erected was quite dry,
and the whole surface bore a brown and dusty aspect.
VALE OF CLYWD.
This lower country to which we had descended from Mount Victoria was
named by Governor Macquarie the Vale of Clywd from its supposed
resemblance to the valley of that name in Wales. It is enclosed by other
heights named Mount York and Mount Clarence, and is watered by a small
stream called the river Lett.*
(*Footnote. A name derived from rivulet, and a very good one, being
A wooden bridge has been erected across this stream and the site of a
village marked out on the bank opposite it. When such a spot has once
been determined on for the establishment of a town or village, and
divided into small allotments available to blacksmiths, wheelwrights,
coopers, innkeepers, etc. The land is no longer liable to be sold in a
section of a square mile, according to the land regulations. Much
attention is necessary during the progress of colonisation to prevent the
monopoly of the land in thoroughfares where water is to be had. The
convenience of the public and the encouragement of the mechanic, who is
indeed the pioneer of colonists, cannot be sufficiently studied in
affording facilities for the establishment of inns and the growth of
population along great roads.
The aspect of this valley is very different from that of the mountain
region, and equally so from that of the lower country on the Hawkesbury.
This change is obviously owing to the difference in the rock. Granite
appears here for the first time on this road; and we accordingly find
those bold undulations and that thinly wooded surface which usually
distinguish the formation in Australia. It is at this point in general
finely grained, but the felspar partly decomposed, with distinct crystals
of felspar unchanged.
From the pass of Mount Victoria I travelled to Bathurst by an entirely
new road, opened in a direction first recommended by me in 1827.
At fourteen miles from Mount Victoria is Farmer's Creek, so named after a
useful horse which fell there and broke his neck when I was surveying and
marking out the line of road. The formation of the descent to this
mountain stream was a work of considerable labour, and at that time
several gangs of prisoners in irons were employed upon it.
RIVER COX AND INTENDED BRIDGE.
Crossing Farmer's Creek near its junction with Cox's river the road is
continued for one mile along the right bank, to the site chosen for
throwing a bridge over this river. The ascent on the opposite side has
been cut, with unnecessary labour, through a point of the hill, and upon
this the gangs were then at work. The gangs of prisoners in irons were
lodged in a stockade which had been erected here and was guarded by a
detachment of the 17th regiment. The river Cox is at this point 2,172
feet above the level of the sea. It pursues its course through a wild
inaccessible mountain country, and joins the Warragamba about twenty
miles to the southward of Emu plains. This course of the Cox could be
traced by the surveyors only by scrambling on foot, or by following out
the several extremities of the mountain ranges which abut upon its rocky
Mount Walker overlooks that part of the Cox which is crossed by the new
line of road. The summit of this hill consists of a dark grey felspar. At
its base and in the bed of the river is trap, which appears to be the
principal rock of the country to some distance beyond the river.
The road reaches at three miles from the Cox a small brook, named
Solitary Creek, which waters a valley where an inn was then building.
This is the first rivulet falling towards the interior country, all the
other streams previously crossed by this road flowing to the eastern
coast; consequently the apparently low ridge between Solitary creek and
Cox's river is there part of what is termed the Coast Range, which
extends from Cape Howe to Cape York, across 33 degrees of latitude.
The road beyond Solitary creek winds around the side of Honeysuckle Hill,
a summit of considerable elevation, consisting of trap-rock. The country
beyond that hill is more open and favourable for road-making. An inn has
been built on a small flat, distant about twenty-three miles from Mount
Victoria, and about halfway between that pass and Bathurst.
The only remarkable feature on the remainder of this line is Stony Range,
distant from Bathurst fourteen miles. It is a ridge of high ground which
traverses the country from north to south and terminates on the Fish
river. The road crosses it at the very lowest part, and where the rock
consists of a dark grey felspar with grains of quartz. The soil is red
and rich, and bears trees of uncommon magnitude. The timber is found
useful by the inhabitants of the Bathurst district, who keep the sawyers
constantly at work there.
PLAINS OF BATHURST.
From Stony Range the plains of Bathurst appear in the distance to great
advantage; the eye of the traveller from Sydney having long sought, in
vain, for some relief from the prospect of so much waste mountainous
We reached the open plains of Bathurst, six miles from the settlement. I
arrived early at Mrs. Dillon's inn, where I took up my quarters, in order
that I might complete, with less interruption, a report which I was
instructed to make to the Governor from this place, respecting the state
of the works along the road.
My friend Rankin called and insisted on my accompanying him to his
residence at Saltram, which I accordingly did. The houses of the
inhabitants here are scattered over the extensive open country, and give
a most cheerful appearance to the plains of Bathurst. These fine downs
only a few years before must have been as desolate as those of a similar
character still are on the banks of the Namoi and Karaula. Peace and
plenty now smile on the banks of Wambool,* and British enterprise and
industry may produce in time a similar change on the desolate banks of
the Namoi, Gwydir, and Karaula, and throughout those extensive regions
behind the Coast range, still further northward--all as yet unpeopled,
save by the wandering aborigines, who may then, as at Bathurst now, enjoy
that security and protection to which they have so just a claim.
(*Footnote. Native name for the river Macquarie.)
INCONVENIENCE OF WANT OF ARRANGEMENT IN EARLY COLONIZATION.
The inconvenience of a want of plan for roads and streets is strikingly
obvious at Bathurst. A vast tract had indeed been reserved as a township,
but then, no streets having been laid out, allotments for building could
neither be obtained by grant nor purchase. The site for the town was
therefore only distinguished by a government house, jail, courthouse,
postoffice, and barracks; while the population had collected in 60 or 80
houses built in an irregular manner on the Sydney side of the river, and
at the distance of a mile from the intended site of the town. The
consequence of a want of arrangement became equally apparent in the line
of approach to the township, for the only road in use being very
indirect, and passing through a muddy hollow, named The Bay of Biscay,
could not be altered because the adjacent land had been granted to
individuals. Thus when the good people of Bathurst prayed in petitions
for delivery from their Bay of Biscay, and a dry and more direct line for
the road had been easily found and marked out, the irregular buildings
and private property lay in the way of the desired improvement. All these
inconveniences might have been obviated by due attention to such
arrangements in the first instance, when any plan was practicable;
whereas subsequently it has been found possible to remedy them only in a
limited degree. The streets having now been laid out a church and many
houses are in course of erection and a new road, leading over firm ground
to the site of the intended bridge, has been opened with the consent of
the owner of the property.
Part of the reserved land of the township has been given to
smallfarmers--a class very essential to the increase of population, but
by no means numerous in New South Wales, and least of all at Bathurst,
where the land is laid out chiefly in large sheep farms.
A bridge across the Macquarie has long been a desideratum. This river,
although in common seasons fordable, and in dry seasons scarcely fluent,
is liable, after heavy falls of rain in the mountains, to rise suddenly
to a great height, and cut off the communication between the public
buildings on the one side, and the peopled suburbs and great road from
Sydney on the other. The country beyond the Macquarie affords excellent
sheep-pasturage, the hills consisting chiefly of granite. A number of
respectable colonists are domiciled on the surrounding plains, and the
society of their hospitable circle presents a very pleasing picture of
pastoral happiness and independence.
DEPARTURE FROM BATHURST.
It was not until two o'clock that I could conclude my correspondence with
the road-making, land-measuring world, and join a very agreeable party,
assembled by my friend Rankin, to partake of an early dinner and witness
Mr. Rankin accompanied me in my ride that afternoon, and we reached at a
late hour the house of Charley Booth, distant about 25 miles from
Bathurst. Some years had elapsed since I first passed a night at
Charley's hut or cattle station, then a resting-place for whoever might
occasionally pass; and inhabited by grim-looking stockmen of whom
Charley, as my friend called him, seemed one. Now the march of
improvement had told wonderfully on the place. The hut was converted into
a house, in which the curtained neatness and good arrangement were
remarkable for such an out-station. Mr. Booth himself looked younger by
some years, and we at length discovered the source of the increased
comforts of his home in a wife whom he had wisely selected from among the
recently arrived emigrants.
ROAD TO BUREE.
Here I at length took leave of my friend to pursue a long and dreary ride
along the track which led to Buree. The wood consisted chiefly of those
kinds of eucalyptus termed box and apple-tree, forming a very open kind
of forest, the hollows being in general quite clear of trees. The farther
I proceeded westward the more the country exhibited the withering effects
of long drought.
The mountain mass of the Canobolas lay to the southward of my route; and
on crossing the lofty range which here divides the counties of Bathurst
and Wellington the summit was distant only four miles. The country in the
neighbourhood of that mass consists of trap and limestone, and is upon
the whole very favourable for sheep-farming. The region to the westward
of the Canobolas is still unsurveyed, being beyond the limits of the
ARRIVAL AT THE CAMP OF THE PARTY.
Before sunset I joined my men in the merry greene wood, and in my tent,
which I found already pitched on the sweet-scented turf, I could at
length indulge in exploratory schemes, free from all the cares of office.
Ascend the Canobolas.
Choose the direction of my route.
Ascend the hill north of Buree.
Encamp on the Mundadgery.
Cross a granitic range.
Cross Hervey's range.
First view of the interior.
Parched state of the interior country.
The dogs kill a kangaroo.
Steep descent to the westward.
Search for water by moonlight.
Encamp without any.
Follow a valley downwards and find water.
Lifeless appearance of the valleys.
Luxury of possessing water after long privation.
Ascend Mount Juson with Mr. Cunningham.
Enter the valley of the Goobang.
Meet the natives.
Springs on the surface of the plains under Croker's range.
Cross Goobang Creek.
The dogs kill three large kangaroos.
Wild honey brought by the natives.
Arrive at Tandogo.
Allan's water of Oxley.
Advantage of aboriginal names on maps.
Excursion with Mr. Cunningham.
Effects of a hurricane in the forest.
Encamp without water.
Natives leave the party.
Cattle distressed for want of water.
Mr. Cunningham missing.
Desperate search for water.
At length find water on reaching by night the river Bogan.
Encamp on this river.
ASCEND THE CANOBOLAS.
Accompanied by two men carrying barometers and my theodolite I ascended
the mountain of the Canobolas, distant from Buree about twelve miles. I
was desirous of connecting the map of our intended journey with that
summit because it is a prominent point in my general survey of the
colony. It also commands an extensive view towards the country we were
about to explore; indeed the course of streams and direction of ranges
within thirty-five miles around this mass seemed only subordinate
features. The height of the mountain above the sea is, according to my
observations, 4461,6 feet, which is much higher than any of the Blue
Mountains. I sought in vain on their azure horizon in the east for the
many summits which I had ascended there; but could distinguish none save
Mount Lachlan, the position of which, having been well fixed, was however
sufficient for my purpose. From this elevated group of the Canobolas a
chain of heights of primary rocks extended into the interior; and the
base of the chain appeared to increase in width towards the west, as far
as the rivers on each side of it had been explored. These were the
Lachlan and Murrumbidgee on the south, and the Macquarie, Bogan, and
Darling on the north.
CHOOSE THE DIRECTION OF MY ROUTE.
I considered this high ground would afford the safest line of route in
the winter season to the low interior country; while the heights would
also enable me to extend my survey westward with more accuracy, as far as
they could be seen on this journey. From the summit I carefully
intersected every prominent point on the western horizon; and I chose for
the direction of my future route that part which, while it appeared to be
in continuation of the most elevated ground, yet had openings between
summits through which I judged the party might pass. To the southward I
already beheld Mr. Oxley's various hills, rising like so many islands,
from the otherwise level country on the Lachlan; and far in the
north-west the level blue horizon exactly resembled an open sea; while to
the westward the line of vision was broken by the summits of Croker's and
Harvey's ranges. After a careful reconnaissance of these and other still
more distant features the country seemed to me most favourable for a
passage on the bearing of 60 degrees west of north. In that direction
therefore I resolved to proceed; trusting that He, who led Israel like a
flock, would guide and direct our little party through the Australian
wilderness before us.
ASCEND THE HILL NORTH OF BUREE.
Early this morning I ascended the hill to the northward of the old
station, and took some angles for the purpose of determining the position
of the house at Buree, from which our measurement was to commence. The
party moved forward along a road still for the first 5 1/2 miles, when
this convenience would serve our purpose no longer, and we struck into
the pathless woods.
ENCAMP ON THE MUNDADGERY.
After travelling over some connected hills and marking the trees as we
proceeded we, at nine miles, reached the head of a chain of ponds falling
southward, which I named Dochendoras Ponds; and encamped beside them in
the valley of Mundadgery, where the pasturage was good. The whole country
traversed this day consisted of grassy open forest-land. We measured at
first with a perambulator from the house at Buree; but this got out of
order, upon which Mr. Larmer, with the chain and circumferenter,
continued the measurement. We took with us fifteen sheep from Buree, to
try whether this kind of livestock was available on such expeditions.
CROSS A GRANITIC RANGE.
While the teams were yoking I rode forward some miles to examine the
country, and I found a very good line for the party to ascend, precisely
in the desired direction. On returning about nine o'clock I put them in
motion, and by eleven we reached a granite formation, the whole country
previously passed consisting of trap or limestone. The granite formed the
crests of a range, and where it occurred I observed a remarkable change
in the vegetation, as well as in the scenery, which was much improved by
pine trees (Callitris pyramidalis) whose deep green contrasted
beautifully with the red and grey tinges of the granite rocks, while
their respective outlines were opposed to each other with equally good
effect. At twelve I rode to a bold summit of herbless granite whence I
observed the Canobolas, bearing north 122 degrees east, and took angles
on several hills.
Following the general bearing of 60 degrees west of north our route
extended along beautiful levels and easy slopes, while bold granitic
peaks, clothed with pine, rose on both sides. The grass was excellent
and, even in this remote region, we passed two flocks of sheep. At three
o'clock we arrived at the foot of a small pass, the ascent to which was
rather steep; and, while the cattle were toiling upwards, I went forward
in search of water, but found none in the valley beyond the pass. Having
ascended the next ridge I again obtained a bearing on the Canobolas (121
degrees east of north) and an angle with the Coutombals* (85 degrees 45
minutes). On returning I rode down the valley towards the south-east
where I met Mr. Cunningham who had found a good waterhole (apparently at
a spring) with a large rock in the centre. I accordingly conducted the
party to it, and we encamped about four P.M. Here we were joined by
Charles King, a men whose services I had taken some trouble to obtain,
and who gave me now a proof of his strength and fitness for such an
undertaking by coming from Emu plains, distant 145 miles, in little more
than two days. For this man I was indebted to Sir John Jamieson. The
above feat I thought deserved to be recorded, and I therefore gave his
name to the watercourse on which we had encamped. The party was now
complete, and I was glad to find that Dr. Souter, no longer a new chum,
was the best of good fellows with the other men. He had brought a flute
on which he played tolerably well, either after the acquisition of a
kangaroo, or when we had good water, or during any very serene evening.
(*Footnote. For an account of Wellington Valley near the Coutombals see
Appendix 2.4 to Volume 2.)
CROSS HERVEY'S RANGE.
As usual I proceeded some way in advance, marking the line of trees to be
followed by the party, and I was fortunate in finding an easier ascent
for our wheel carriages to the range before us than I had expected. On
descending the opposite side we entered a fine valley, well watered; and
which, had we known the country better, we might have reached on the
previous evening. We next travelled over fine forest land, and by keeping
some rocky hills, consisting of trap, on our right, we headed the deep
ravines and bold ranges which appeared to branch from them to the
northward. Thus we journeyed along very good ground, the slopes being
easy and unimpeded by timber.
FIRST VIEW OF THE INTERIOR.
At one o'clock I ascended a pic and obtained, for the first time since I
approached these ranges, an uninterrupted view of the country to the
westward of them. From this point I recognised several other hills
observed from the Canobolas, some of which did not appear very distant. A
square-topped eminence bearing west-south-west a great way off I supposed
might be Mount Granard; and a few other heights more to the westward
crowned what had hitherto appeared to be a flat horizon. I began to
discover however that, although apparently flat, this horizon consisted
of low ridges intersected by valleys, and I hoped to find among the
former one or two rocky points which might be available to my survey.
PARCHED STATE OF THE INTERIOR COUNTRY.
It was now evident that no rain had fallen in these interior regions
since the summer heat had parched the earth. We had passed today no water
except what we saw in the morning, although one green valley which we
noticed on our right soon after starting probably contained some.
THE DOGS KILL A KANGAROO.
A fine kangaroo was this day seen before us and immediately killed by the
dogs. Our journey was prolonged for the purpose of arriving at a
waterhole but we could not find one.
STEEP DESCENT TO THE WESTWARD.
At four o'clock a view of the country beyond the mountain range opened
before us; and, being anxious to gain the valley which lay at its foot, I
hastily effected a descent, although the ground was steep and rocky, in
hopes of finding water before it grew dark. Following the valley
downwards I succeeded, but not until sunset, in finding, in a crevice of
a rock, enough for the men.
SEARCH FOR WATER BY MOONLIGHT. ENCAMP WITHOUT ANY.
The carts were then three miles behind me, and although we sent by
moonlight for water for the party the poor cattle could not be watered,
and were consequently kept in their yokes all night to prevent their
straying in search of it.
Having examined the bed of the dry creek to some distance below the rock
where the water remained I found its course so sinuous, and its banks so
steep, the valley itself having no breadth, steep-sided hills closing on
the deep dry channel, so that it must have been almost impossible to
proceed that way with the party. I therefore determined to explore the
country more to the right, early next morning, expecting to find in that
direction a line of route by which we might be sooner extricated from
these sinuous valleys and hilly extremities. I hoped also that we should
thus reach some more united channel deep enough to retain a portion of
the waters of more favourable seasons.
FOLLOW A VALLEY DOWNWARDS AND FIND WATER.
I went forward (prima luce) and soon gained a low ridge, the rocky points
of which had obliged me to keep to the valley in seeking for water the
preceding evening. From this ridge I had the satisfaction of following
with my eye into the far distant level country a continuous valley, the
apparent outlet or channel of all these mountain torrents, and which, I
had no doubt, contained water. Having marked out the best passage I could
find to this point for the bullock teams I descended to the valley before
me and, after following it about four miles, the hollows in the dry bed
of the rivulet appeared moist.
LUXURY OF POSSESSING WATER AFTER LONG PRIVATION.
At two miles further I found water in the crevices of a rock, and a
little lower still abundance for the cattle in a large pond. After
watering my thirsty horse I galloped back with the encouraging tidings to
the party, and by eleven o'clock we had encamped beside the water, with
the agreeable certainty of obtaining breakfast, and with excellent
appetites for it.
LIFELESS APPEARANCE OF THE VALLEYS.
We had passed through valleys, on first descending from the mountains,
where the yellow oat-grass (or Anthisteria) resembled a ripe crop of
grain. But this resemblance to the emblem of plenty made the desolation
of these hopeless solitudes only the more apparent, abandoned as they
then were alike by man, beast, and bird. No living thing remained in
these valleys, for water, that element so essential to life, was a want
too obvious in the dismal silence (for not an insect hummed) and the
yellow hues of withering vegetation.
We had at length emerged from these arid valleys, and entered upon an
open and more promising country. Our boats and heavily laden carts had
crossed all the mountains in our way without any accident, and we had
water in abundance.
It is on occasions such as these that the adventurer has intervals of
enjoyment which amply reward him for laborious days of hardship and
privation. The sense of gratification and repose is intense in such
extreme cases, and cannot be known to him whose life is counted out in a
monotonous succession of hours of eating and sleeping within a house;
whose food is adulterated by spices, and sauces, intolerable to real
hunger--and whose drink, instead of the sweet refreshing distillation
from the heavens, consists of vile artificial extracts, loathed by the
really thirsty man with whom the pure element resumes its true value, and
establishes its real superiority over every artificial beverage.
ASCEND MOUNT JUSON WITH MR. CUNNINGHAM.
At seven o'clock I proceeded with Mr. Cunningham to the summit of a cone,
bare of timber, which I had observed from the Canobolas, and which bore
138 degrees east of north from our camp, distant about six miles. The
ascent was easy, and from the summit (on which Mr. Cunningham obligingly
erected a pyramid) I obtained many valuable angles with my theodolite on
the very distant hills which broke the western horizon. We found the
variation of the needle to be 8 degrees 40 minutes East. This hill I
named, at Mr. Cunningham's request, Mount Juson.
ENTER THE VALLEY OF THE GOOBANG.
We returned to the camp at half-past two, when we found the party ready
to start; and accordingly we proceeded forward. Our journey was through
verdant vales, increasing in width as we followed the channel of the
stream we had traced from the mountain, and which now contained abundant
pools of water.
MEET THE NATIVES.
At length the sound of the native's hatchet was heard, and one came
forward to meet me. We learned from him that we were upon Buranbil creek,
and that its course was south-west towards the Calare, or Lachlan. The
range whence we came they called Warre (Croker's range of Oxley) and that
north of it Goobang (Harvey's range of the same) from which, as I was
also informed, a creek of similar name issued and flowed into the
The evening was beautiful; the new grass springing in places where it had
been burnt presented a shining verdure in the rays of the descending sun;
the songs of the birds accorded here with other joyous sounds, the very
air seemed alive with the music of animated nature, so different was the
scene in this well-watered valley from that of the parched and silent
region from which we had just descended.
The natives whom we met here were fine-looking men, enjoying contentment
and happiness within the precincts of their native woods. Their enjoyment
seemed derived so directly from nature that it almost excited a feeling
of regret that civilised men, enervated by luxury and all its concomitant
diseases, should ever disturb the haunts of these rude but happy beings.
The first native who came up to me was a fine specimen of man in an
independent state of nature. He had nothing artificial about him save the
badge of mourning for the dead, a white band (his was very white) around
his brow. His manner was grave, his eye keen and intelligent, and as our
people were encamping he seemed to watch the moment when they wanted
fire, and presented a burning stick which one of the natives had brought,
in a manner expressive of welcome, and an unaffected wish to contribute
to our wants. At a distance their gins sat at fires, and we heard the
domestic sound of squalling children. The scene assumed a more romantic
like a queen came forth the lovely moon
From the slow opening curtains of the clouds,
Walking in beauty to her midnight throne,*
and the soft notes of The Doctor's flute fell pleasingly on the ear while
the eye was equally gratified by the moonbeams as they shot from the
trees, amid the curling smoke of our temporary encampment. The cattle
were refreshing in green pastures. It was Saturday night, and next day
the party was to rest. We had reached in one month, from Sydney, the
plains leading to the Darling, having placed all the mountain ranges
behind us, and these reflections heightened our enjoyment of the scene
around us, and sweetened our repose.
(*Footnote. Croly's Gems.)
Accompanied by Mr. Cunningham and three men carrying my theodolite,
sextant, and barometer, I ascended a summit at the southern extremity of
Harvey's range, and which I had observed particularly from Mount Juson as
being the most eligible point to form, in connection with that range, a
base for extending the survey westward. This hill was clear of timber
and, as it commanded an uninterrupted view in that direction, I
intersected every point observed from Mount Juson. The highest summit of
Canobolas was just visible over the intermediate ranges and, what was
also of equal importance, that of the Coutombals. These ranges, already
mentioned in another place, consist of a group of lofty hills situated
about 12 miles to the South-South-West of Wellington valley and, being
connected with the general survey, enabled me here to fix this station
MOUNT LAIDLEY. SPRINGS ON THE SURFACE OF THE PLAINS UNDER CROKER'S RANGE.
As we returned across the lower country towards our camp we observed some
places unusually green, and found that this verdure was nourished by
springs, the water lying on the surface so that in a season when the beds
of almost all streams were dry we watered our horses on an extensive flat
of forest land. Such springs must be of very rare occurrence in this
country, for in the course of my journeys I had never before seen any.
The hill thus connected with the survey I named Mount Laidley.
CROSS GOOBANG CREEK.
The party moved off at half-past eight o'clock, and at half-past nine it
crossed Goobang creek, or chain of ponds. This channel contained some
deep pools, apparently proof against the summer drought. The Goobang has
its sources in the ravines between Harvey's and Croker's ranges, the
course being towards the Lachlan. In this and other tributaries of the
same river I observed that all the permanent pools were surrounded by
As we proceeded beyond the Goobang, chiefly in a north-west direction, we
found the country tolerably level and to consist of what in the colony is
termed open forest land. We crossed one or two eminences, but the carts
met with no impediment in a journey of fifteen miles.
The principal hill consisted of traprock, and was so naked that only one
or two trees of the Sterculia heterophylla grew upon it. The native name
for it was Pakormungor, and from its top I recognised Mounts Juson and
Laidley, and near me various low features which I had intersected from
those stations. The rock, in other places less elevated, consisted of
schist or slate in laminae, dipping to the east at an angle of 60
degrees. Some very rich ironstone also occurred on the surface.
THE DOGS KILL THREE LARGE KANGAROOS.
This day three large kangaroos were killed by our dogs, one of them
having been speared very adroitly during the chase by a native who
accompanied us from our last encampment.
From Pakormungor the country began to decline to the northward and, as we
descended into the basin of the Bogan, it improved in grass. The Acacia
pendula occurring here reminded me of the banks of the Namoi; and Mr.
Cunningham had a busy day in examining many interesting plants which he
had not previously seen on this journey.
We at length encamped on a lagoon to which the natives led us, and which
they named Cookopie.
WILD HONEY BROUGHT BY THE NATIVES.
We were now in a land flowing with honey, for our friendly guides, with
their new tomahawks, extracted it in abundance from the hollow branches
of the trees, and it seemed that, in the proper season, they could find
it almost everywhere. To such inexpert clowns, as they probably thought
us, the honey and the bees were inaccessible, and indeed invisible, save
only when the natives cut the former out, and brought it to us in little
sheets of bark, thus displaying a degree of ingenuity and skill in
supplying wants which we, with all our science, could not hope to attain.
Their plan was to catch a bee, and attach to it, with some resin or gum,
the light down of a swan or owl; thus laden the bee would make for its
nest in the branch of some lofty tree, and so betray its store of sweets
to its keen-eyed pursuers, whose bee-chase presented, indeed, a laughable
We continued in a west or south-west direction, passing Goonigal,* a
large plain on our right, near which there was a fine tract of open
forest land. The ground afterwards rose in gentle undulations, and was
covered with kangaroo grass;** the soil changing also from clay to a red
(*Footnote. This we found afterwards to be the native term for any
(**Footnote. Anthisteria australis.)
We next arrived at a creek, or chain of deep ponds, called Coogoorderoy,
which appeared to come from the south-south-west. Further on we passed
plains on our left of the same name; and at length we crossed a fine one,
the native name of which was Turangenoo. On the skirt of it was a hill
named Boorr, which we kept close on our left, crossing its lower
extremities, which were covered with a forest of ironbark eucalyptus, and
forest oaks or casuarinae.
ARRIVE AT TANDOGO.
At four o'clock we reached Tandogo, a fine creek of water descending from
the south, and flowing to the Bogan.
A hill to the north-west, I was informed, was named the Bugamel.
ALLAN'S WATER OF OXLEY.
I halted to lay down my survey, and connect it with that of Mr. Dixon of
the Bogan. At noon I found our latitude to be 32 degrees 45 minutes 30
seconds South and on making allowance for the difference between Mr.
Oxley's base (as to longitude) and my own, I supposed we were then upon
Allan's Water of Oxley.
ADVANTAGE OF ABORIGINAL NAMES ON MAPS.
In this instance, as in many others, the great convenience of using
native names is obvious. For instance, so long as any of the aborigines
can be found in the neighbourhood of Tandogo, future travellers may
verify my map. Whereas new names are of no use in this respect,
especially when given to rivers or watercourses by travellers who have
merely crossed them without ascertaining their course, or even their
sources, or termination. He alone should be entitled to give a name to a
river who explored its course or, at least, as much of it as may be a
useful addition to geography; and when a traveller takes the trouble to
determine the true place of hills or other features he might perhaps be
at liberty to name them also. The covering a map with names of rivers or
hills crossed or passed merely in traversing an unknown country, amounts
to little more than saying that so many hills and rivers were seen there;
and if nothing were ascertained further of the connections of the former,
or the courses of the latter, we derive from such maps little more
information than we had before; for that hills and rivers are to be seen
in any unknown part of a country is generally understood to be the case
before a traveller commences his journey. A future explorer determines
with much trouble the position of a river in the world's map. "This is my
river B---," says the man who crossed it first, or who, by merely
stumbling perhaps upon it, claims all the merit of its DISCOVERY, even
when circumstances may have forced him to proceed in that direction,
rather than that he was looking for what he found under the guidance of
any analogy, or series of observations.
In the afternoon I rode back to the hill of Boorr (seven miles) with the
theodolite, and I obtained some useful angles to various points of
Harvey's range, and on such few eminences as could be distinguished in
EXCURSION WITH MR. CUNNINGHAM.
Mr. Larmer went forward with the carts in a north-west direction while I
proceeded westward, accompanied by Mr. Cunningham, towards a hill which I
had intersected from Mounts Juson and Laidley, and which I expected to
find at about nine miles west by compass from our camp.
EFFECTS OF A HURRICANE IN THE FOREST.
We continued along an undulating ridge for about five miles, crossing
also a flat on which all the trees, for a considerable extent, had been
laid prostrate by some violent hurricane, making a very uncommon opening
in the forest through which we were accustomed to travel. The trunks lay
about due east, and all nearly parallel; thus recording a storm from the
west before which our tents must have gone like chaff before the wind,
and where shelter from the trees, not under them, might have been sought
for in vain.
At 7 1/2 miles we crossed a chain of small ponds falling to the north
(probably Coysgaime's ponds of Oxley) and about one mile further we
ascended the northern shoulder of the hill I was in search of. From the
summit I obtained angles on one or two hills to the south, which lay a
few miles off, but I could not recognise them as having been previously
We descended and proceeded northward through the dense woods, in the
midst of which, after estimating distances and time, I at length pulled
my rein, and observed to Mr. Cunningham that I hoped to fall in with Mr.
Larmer, or the track of the carts thereabouts.
ENCAMP WITHOUT WATER.
Just then I heard the crack of a whip, and we soon met Mr. Larmer at the
head of the party. I continued the route in the same direction until
after sunset, when we were obliged to encamp without reaching water.
Bulger however, with the assistance of the natives, found some, after the
rising of the moon, but not until he had been nearly three miles to the
northward in search of it. The cattle could not be watered there that
night as they had already travelled upwards of 15 miles.
I was aware that I might have made the Bogan by proceeding more towards
the north; but I preferred the direct line of route, even at the risk of
encountering a scarcity of water. In the more northerly course we should
have entered a great bight of that river, whereas I was making for its
most southern bend, which was not only in the most direct line towards
Oxley's Tableland, but was also nearer the hills along which I was
desirous of working my survey.
ROCKS OF BENY.
We moved off at 8 o'clock, and at the distance of 3 1/4 miles we came
upon some curious rocks of red sandstone, forming the tops of a ridge
which extended North-North-East.
It is called Beny by the natives, and in a deep crevice there is a well,
the water of which, although at times apparently deep, had the previous
night been drained nearly to the bottom by a party of some tribe whose
fires still were burning.
NATIVES LEAVE THE PARTY.
The natives who accompanied us examined the traces of those who had fled
with considerable interest, and then fell behind our party and
From the highest of these rocks I obtained some good angles and bearings
on the hills I had seen on the day previous, and also on some of the
loftiest summits of Harvey's range.
CATTLE DISTRESSED FOR WANT OF WATER.
Our cattle, having had no water during the night, began to be distressed,
and I hurried forward, marking out the line, and we thus crossed, at five
miles beyond the rocks of Beny, the dry bed of what appeared to be
sometimes the channel of a considerable stream of water; its sides and
bottom were however then grassy; its depth and breadth very uniform,
while the general course appeared to be North-North-East but very
At four o'clock I had continued to mark the line. Being then six miles
beyond this channel, and anxious about finding water for the cattle, I
galloped forward three miles in search of the Bogan but without reaching
The sun of this very hot day was near setting by the time I met our
party, to whom I had hastened back. They had travelled two miles beyond
the dry creek which it was my intention now to trace downwards as fast as
possible, followed by all our animals, in hopes that it would lead to
MR. CUNNINGHAM MISSING.
While the men were unyoking the teams I was informed that Mr. Cunningham
was missing. The occasional absence of this gentleman was not uncommon
but, as he had left the party early in the day in order to join me, it
was evident, from his not having done so, that he had gone astray.
DESPERATE SEARCH FOR WATER.
At that moment I felt less anxiety on the subject, little doubting that
he would gain our camp before I returned from the forlorn search I was
about to make for water. Leaving Mr. Larmer with the rest of the party to
encamp there, I proceeded eastward towards the dry creek whose course I
soon intercepted, and I hurried the bullock-drivers along its bed
downwards until, after crossing many a hopeful but dry hole, they begged
that the cattle might be allowed to rest.
AT LENGTH FIND WATER ON REACHING BY NIGHT THE RIVER BOGAN.
Leaving them therefore I continued my search with the horses, still
following the channel, until I had the happiness of seeing the stars of
heaven reflected from a spacious pool. We had in fact reached the
junction of the creek with the Bogan. Having filled our kettles and
leather bottles we hastened back to where we had left the bullocks.
Leaving them to go forward and refresh, I set off at a venture on the
bearing of south-west by south, in search of our camp. After an hour's
riding the moon rose, and at length our cooey was answered. I had
previously observed, by the moon's light, the track left by my horse that
morning in the long dry grass, and verified it by some of my marks on the
trees. Would that Mr. Cunningham had been as fortunate! At that time I
did not doubt that I should find him at the camp; especially as we heard
no guns, it being a practice in the bush to fire shots when persons are
missing, that they may hear the report and so find the party. I then made
sure of a pleasant night's rest, as I was relieved from my anxiety
respecting the cattle.
ENCAMP ON THIS RIVER.
I had the pain to learn however on reaching the camp about eleven
o'clock, that Mr. Cunningham was still absent; and, what was worse, in
all probability suffering from want of water. I had repeatedly cautioned
this gentleman about the danger of losing sight of the party in such a
country; yet his carelessness in this respect was quite surprising. The
line of route, after being traversed by our carts, looked like a road
that had been used for years, and it was almost impossible to doubt then
that he would fall in with it next morning.
We continued to fire shots and sound the bugle till eleven o'clock. Our
cattle were then ready to drink again and, as Mr. Cunningham was probably
ahead of us, to proceed on our route to the Bogan without further delay
was indispensable, in order that we might, in case of need, make such
extensive search for him as was only possible from a camp where we could
We accordingly proceeded towards the Bogan, anxiously hoping that Mr.
Cunningham would fall in with our line, and rejoin the party in the
course of the day. After proceeding due north eight miles we came upon
the bed of this river; but, before I could find water in it, I had to
trace its course some way up and down. We at length encamped near a pond,
and night advanced, but poor Mr. Cunningham came not!
Search for Mr. Cunningham.
No traces to be seen.
Supposed to have met with an accident.
Souter and Murray sent back along the track.
My search South-South-West 40 miles.
Interview with two natives.
Range of porphyry.
Mr. Cunningham's track found.
Mr. Larmer and a party sent to trace it.
Mr. Cunningham's track followed for 70 miles, his horse found dead.
His own footsteps traced.
Mr. Larmer meets a tribe.
The footsteps traced into the channel of the Bogan.
Death of the Kangaroo.
Five natives brought to me with a silk handkerchief in their possession.
The party halt at Cudduldury.
Interview with the King of the Bogan.
Muirhead and Whiting sent to examine the dry channel of the river.
Search extended to the plains of the Lachlan.
Camp of Natives.
Pass the night in a hollow without water.
View towards Mount Granard.
A second night without water.
Awoke by the forest on fire.
Interview with three natives.
Roots of trees sucked by the natives.
Horses reach the camp with great difficulty.
Part of Mr. Cunningham's coat found.
SEARCH FOR MR. CUNNINGHAM.
After an almost sleepless night I rose early, and could relieve my
anxiety only by organising a search, to be made in different directions,
and getting into movement as soon as possible. The darkness of a second
night of dreary solitude had passed over our fellow-traveller under the
accumulated horrors of thirst, hunger, and despair!
It was most mysterious that he had not fallen in with our line of route
which was a plain, broad road since the passage of the carts; and had a
direction due north and south for ten miles. The last time he had been
seen was twelve miles back, or about two miles from the dry bed of the
creek (since named Bullock creek) where I changed the direction from
north-west by compass to due north, that I might sooner reach the Bogan,
for the sake of water. It was probable that in following my marked trees
without much attention he had not observed the turn I took there, and
that continuing in the same direction beyond the creek he had therefore
lost them, and had proceeded too far to the westward. This was the more
likely as the dry creek was on the eastward of our line; where, had he
gone that way, he must have found our cattle-tracks, or met with the
cattle. I therefore determined to examine myself the whole country
westward of our line for twelve miles back. I sent The Doctor and Murray
west by compass six miles, with orders to return in a south-east
direction till they intersected the route, and then return along it; and
I sent two other men back along the route in case our missing friend
might have been coming on in a weakly state that way. All three parties
carried water and provisions. I proceeded myself with two men on
horseback, first, seven miles in a south-west direction, which brought me
into the line Mr. Cunningham might have followed, supposing he had
continued north-west. The country I traversed consisted of small plains
and alternate patches of dense casuarina scrubs, and open forest land.
I seldom saw to less distance about me than from one to two miles, or at
least as far as that in some one direction. We continued to cooey
frequently, and the two men were ordered to look on the ground for a
In the centre of a small plain, where I changed my direction to the
south-east, I set up a small stick with a piece of paper fixed in it,
containing the following words:
These are my horse's tracks, follow them backwards, they will lead you to
our camp, which is north-east of you.
Having proceeded in the same manner seven miles to the south-east I came
upon our route where it crossed Bullock creek, and there I found the two
men who had been sent from the camp.
We then continued our search back along the west side of our route, the
party, which now consisted of five, spreading so as to keep abreast at
about 200 yards from each other, one being on the road.
NO TRACES TO BE SEEN.
We thus ascertained that no track of Mr. Cunningham's horse or of himself
appeared on the soft parts of our road; and although we retraced our
steps thus to where Murray, one of the men, said he saw Mr. Cunningham
the last time with the party, no traces could be found of him or his
horse. A kangaroo dog was also missing, and supposed to be with him.
Returning, we continued the search, and particularly to the westward of
Bullock creek, where the direction of our route had been changed; but I
was disappointed in all our endeavours to find any traces of him there,
although I enjoyed for some time a gleam of hope on seeing the track of a
horse near the bed of the creek, but it returned to our line, and was
afterwards ascertained to have been made by the horse of Mr. Larmer.
Although scarcely able to walk myself from a sprain (my horse having
fallen in a hole that day, and rolled on my foot) I shall never forget
with what anxiety I limped along that track, which seemed to promise so
well; yet we were so unsuccessful that evening, on the very ground where
afterwards Mr. Cunningham's true track was found, that I could no longer
imagine that our unfortunate fellow-traveller could be to the westward.
By what fatality we failed to discover the tracks afterwards found there
I know not; but as the sun descended we returned once more to the camp in
the hope that Mr. Cunningham might have reached it.
SUPPOSED TO HAVE MET WITH AN ACCIDENT.
That hope was soon disappointed, and I became apprehensive that some
accident had befallen him. Holes in the soft surface and yawning cracks
formed rather a peculiar feature in that part of the country; and as my
horse had fallen both on this day and the preceding, when at a canter,
and as Mr. Cunningham was often seen at that pace, it was probable that
he might have met with some severe fall, and lay helpless, not far,
perhaps, from where he had last been seen. The nights were cold, and I
was doubtful whether he could be still alive, so difficult was it to
account otherwise for his continued absence under all the circumstances.
SOUTER AND MURRAY SENT BACK ALONG THE TRACK.
After another night of painful anxiety the dawn of the THIRD day of Mr.
Cunningham's absence brought some relief, as daylight renewed the chance
of finding him, or of his finding us by our line, as he might have
endeavoured to retrace his steps on losing the party, or he might be on
our route still farther back than we had looked; but I was desirous that
the natives whom we had left at Beny might be sent in search. I
despatched the Doctor and Murray back along the line, the latter saying
that he knew where Mr. Cunningham had turned off the road. It was not
unlikely that the horse, if he had got loose, might have returned to
where he had last drunk water (20 miles distant) therefore they were
directed, if traces were not found nearer, to go so far back, and to
promise the natives, if they could meet with any, tomahawks, etc. if they
found the white man or his horse. No other course could be imagined. The
line of route, as already stated, was a beaten road, and extended north
and south. To the east of it and nearly parallel, at two or three miles
distance, was the dry channel (Bullock creek) which led to the Bogan; on
the north was our camp and the Bogan, whose general course was west, as
well as our intended route, circumstances both known to Mr. Cunningham.
Southward was the marked route, and the country whence we had come. Still
however I thought it so likely that he must have gone to the north-west