Part 2 out of 8
As soon as the party had started I gave the overseer the bearings and
distances to be pursued; while I proceeded to the cone named Hurd's peak
by Oxley, but by the natives Tolga. It was distant about four miles from
our line of route. A low ridge of quartz rock extends from the Goobang to
this peak the base of which consists of chlorite slate, and its summit of
squarish pebbles of quartz, with the angles rounded, associated with
fragments of chlorite slate. There was just convenient room on it for the
theodolite and, as it afforded a most satisfactory and commanding view,
well suited for the purpose of surveying, it seemed to have been aptly
named after a distinguished geographer. Many points of a distant range
now appeared on the north-western horizon in the direction of Oxley's
Mount Granard, and the ridge of Bolloon (towards the great lake
Cudjallagong) seemed not very distant. I took angles on all the points
and then hastened to overtake the party, which I did after they had
travelled about nine miles. At fourteen miles we made the banks of the
Lachlan, and encamped by the side of it on the edge of a plain in
latitude 33 degrees 4 minutes 38 seconds South, longitude 147 degrees
East. Judging by the relative position of Hurd's peak etc., I supposed it
might have been about this place that Oxley's party crossed to the right
bank of the river on his return towards Wellington valley. No traces
however were discovered by us here of the first explorers of the Lachlan.
The night had been mild and clear and the sun rose in a cloudless sky. We
traversed plains of firmer surface than those crossed on the previous
day. So early even as nine o'clock the heat was oppressive.
SNAKE AND BIRD.
On one of these plains I witnessed an instance of the peculiar
fascination attributed to the serpent race. A large snake, lying at full
length, attracted our attention and I wished to take it alive, but as
Roach, the collector, was at a distance, some time elapsed before
preparations were made for that purpose. The ground was soft and full of
holes, into one of which it would doubtless have disappeared as soon as
it was alarmed. The rest of the party came up yet, unlike snakes in
general, who glide rapidly off, this creature lay apparently regardless
of noise, or even of the approach of the man, who went slowly behind it
and seized its head. At that moment a little bird fluttered from beside a
small tuft within a few feet of the snake and, it seemed, as the men
believed, scarcely able to make its escape.
When we were near the spot on which we intended to encamp a native
pointed out to me a small hill beyond the river where, as he informed me,
Mr. Oxley and his party had encamped before he crossed the Lachlan. It
was called by this native Gobberguyn. We pitched our tents a little
higher than that hill where a favourable bend of the river met my line of
route. The cattle were much fatigued with the day's work although the
distance did not exceed eleven miles. It was in my power however to give
them rest for a day or two as the grass was tolerably good on that part
of the riverbank, and I was within reach of Mount Granard, a height which
I had long been anxious to examine, as well as the country to be seen
from it. Among the usual grasses we found one which I had not previously
seen and which proved to be a new species of Danthonia.*
(*Footnote. Danthonia pectinata, Lindley manuscripts; spica simplici
secunda pleiostachya pectinata foliis multo longiore, palea inferiore
villosissima; laciniis lateralibus membranaceis aristae aequalibus.)
RIDE TO MOUNT GRANARD.
I set off early for Mount Granard, followed by six men on horseback and a
native named Barney who was also mounted. We rode at a smart pace on a
bearing of 280 degrees across thirty miles of soft red sand in which the
horses sank up to their fetlocks, and we reached the foot of the hill a
little before sunset.
SCARCITY OF WATER THERE.
Throughout that extent we neither saw a single watercourse nor discovered
the least indication of water having lodged there during any season. At
eleven miles from the camp we crossed a low ridge of granite (named
Tarratta) a hopeful circumstance to us as promising a primitive range of
hills between the Darling and Lachlan, and because in a crevice of this
granite our aboriginal guide found some water. The desert tract we
crossed was in other respects unvaried except that, in one place, we
passed through four miles of a kind of scrub which presented difficulties
of a new character. The whole of it consisted of bushes of a dwarf
species of eucalyptus, doubtless E. dumosa (A. Cunningham) which grew in
a manner that rendered it impossible to proceed, except in a very sinuous
direction, and then with difficulty by pushing our horses between stiffly
grown branches. Where no bushes grew the earth was naked, except where
some tufts of a coarse matted weed resembling Spinifex impeded the
horses, but seemed to be intended by Providence to bind down these desert
sands. We saw blue ranges on our right, and I hoped that before we
ascended Mount Granard we should cross some watercourse coming from them;
but nothing of the kind appeared and, after traversing a dry sandy flat,
we began to ascend. Finding myself separated from the summit, after we
had climbed some way, by a deep rocky ravine, and being in doubt about
obtaining water, I sent the people with the horses to encamp in the
valley to which that ravine opened, with directions to look for water
while daylight lasted.
VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT.
Meanwhile I proceeded to the summit with one of the men and the native. I
arrived there and, just before the sun went down, obtained an
uninterrupted view of the western horizon; but the scene was inconclusive
as to the existence of such a dividing range as I hoped to see. Ridges
and summits appeared abundantly enough, but they were not of a bold or
connected character, and I did not obtain upon the whole a better idea
than I previously had respecting the extension of that singular group of
hills to the westward. I stood upon the best height however for carrying
on my angles in that direction. To the eastward I saw Hurd's Peak and
Bolloon, also Goulburn's and Macquarie's ranges, Mount Torrens, and Mount
Aiton of Oxley. The last hill appeared alone on the horizon, in a
south-south-east direction as shown in his map. But the most commanding
point was Yerrarar, the highest apex of Goulburn range, forming with
Bolloon and this station an almost equilateral triangle of about 30 miles
The features before us terminated rather abruptly towards the south like
cliffs of tableland, and seemed to mark out the basin of the Lachlan; but
beyond those parts overlooking Mr. Oxley's route I could obtain no view,
although I perceived that I might from Yerrarar.
Having completed my work as the sun was setting I hastened to the valley,
and learnt that the party had discovered neither water nor grass. Barney
the native had nevertheless obtained both when with me at the top of the
mountain; and therefore, although it was dark and we were all fatigued,
yet up that rocky mountain we were compelled to go with the horses, and
encamp near the summit beside a little pool of water which had been
well-known to Barney at other times. On this elevated crest the air was
surprisingly mild during the night for, although I slept in my clothes
and on the ground, I enjoyed its freshness as a great relief from the
oppressive heat of the day. Our singular bivouac on the summit, which I
had so long wished to visit, was adorned with a strange-looking tree,
probably Casuarina glauca.
Next morning I had an opportunity of surveying the hills around me more
at leisure, and I noted down their various names from the lips of Barney
for that desolate region, where neither a kangaroo nor a bird was to be
seen or heard, was poor Barney's country, that lonely mountain his home!
I learned that the only water in these deserts was to be found in the
crevices of rocks on such hills as this; and I thus understood the cause
of the smoke I observed last year arising from so many summits when I
looked over the same region from a hill on its northern limits. Perhaps
within thirty miles around there was no other water, and the bare top of
a mountain was certainly one of the last situations where I should have
thought of seeking for it.
We descended after I had completed my survey from a hill which perhaps no
white man will again ascend; I may however add, for the information of
those who may be disposed to do so, that the well is on the crest of a
ridge extending north-west from the principal summit, and distant
therefrom about 200 yards. I had brought provisions for another day as I
originally intended to examine the course of the Lachlan above Mount
Torrens; but having seen enough from this hill to satisfy me on that
point we retraced our steps to the camp.
This day I halted as well to rest the horses as for the purpose of
observing equal altitudes of the sun and protracting my survey.
ASCEND BOLLOON, A HILL BEYOND THE LACHLAN.
Leaving the party encamped I crossed the Lachlan and rode eight miles due
south to Bolloon which proved to be the highest cone of a low ridge
situated within the great bend of this river. I found it a valuable
station for continuing my chain of triangles downwards, as from it Mounts
Cunningham and Allan, Hurd's Peak, Peel's and Goulburn ranges, Mount
Granard, etc. are all visible. We passed some lower hills belonging to
the same chain, and of which the basis seemed to be the prevailing
ferruginous sandstone. In my return to the camp I found the dogs had
killed an emu.
NATIVES REFUSE TO EAT EMU.
It is singular that none of the natives would eat of this bird; and the
reasons they gave were that they were young men, and that none but older
men who had gins were allowed to eat it; adding that it would make young
men all over boils or eruptions. This rule of abstinence was also rigidly
observed by our interpreter Piper.
Late in the night I was awoke by one of the watch firing a pistol at a
native dog which had got close to the sheepfold. At the same moment a
sheep leaped out and, having been at the first alarm pursued by our dogs,
it was worried in the bed of the river. The native dog having howled as
it escaped was supposed to have been wounded. To prevent such occurrences
in future and as this arose from a neglect of my original plan, the two
fires of the men's tents were ordered to be again placed in such
positions as threw light around the sheepfold, which was of canvas
fastened to portable stakes and pegs. (See plan of camp, Volume 1.)
We left this camp (named Camarba) and continued our journey around the
great bend of the Lachlan at which point (4 1/2 miles from our camp) the
low ridge of Kalingalungaguy closed on the river. This ridge is a
remarkable feature, extending north and south, and I expected to see some
tributary from the north entering the river here; but we crossed on the
east side of the ridge only a wide, dry and grassy hollow, which was
however evidently the channel of a considerable body of water in times of
flood, as appeared by marks on the trees which grew along the banks. All
were of the dwarf box kind, named goborro by the natives, a sort of
eucalyptus which usually grows by itself on the lower margins of the
Darling and Lachlan, and other parts subject to inundation, and on which
the occasional rise of the waters is marked by the dark colour remaining
on the lower part of the trunk. In the bed of the Lachlan at the junction
of the channel near Kalingalungaguy I found quartz rock.
MR. STAPYLTON OVERTAKES THE PARTY.
We had not proceeded far beyond that ridge when Mr. Stapylton overtook
the party, having travelled in great haste from Sydney to join us as
second in command, in compliance with my letter of instructions sent from
Buree. Mr. Stapylton was accompanied by two stockmen, having left his own
light equipments at Cordowe, a station above Mount Cunningham. On the
plains which we crossed this day grew in great abundance that beautiful
species of lily found in the expedition of 1831, and already mentioned
under the name of Calostemma candidum,* also the Calostemma luteum of Ker
with yellow flowers.
(*Footnote. Volume 1. C. candidum; floribus centralibus subsessilibus,
articulo infra medium in pedicellis longioribus, corona integerrima.)
At nine miles we crossed some granite rocks, evidently a part of the
ridge of Tarratta, thus exhibiting a uniformity in the granite with the
general direction of other ridges, which is about north-north-east. The
strike is between north and north-east; the dip in some places being to
the west, and in others to the east, at great inclinations. The ridge of
Kalingalungaguy consists of quartz, clay-slate, and the ferruginous
sandstone, but I observed in the bed of the river a trap-dyke extending
to the Bolloon ridge. Of the few low hills about the Lachlan it may be
observed that they generally range in lines crossing the bed of that
river. Mount Amyot is a ridge of this sort, being connected to the
southward with Mount Stewart and Nyororong; and to the northward with the
high ground separating the Bogan from the Goobang; the latter creek also
forcing its way through the same chain on its course westward. Mounts
Cunningham, Melville, and the small hills about them on each bank belong
to another system of ridges of similar character, but more broken up; and
the range of Kalingalungaguy with that of Bolloon form a third, also
intersected by the river.
OF THE PLAINS IN GENERAL.
The plains appear to be divided into several stages by these cross
ridges, which may have shut up the water of high floods in extensive
lakes during the existence of which the deposits formed the surface of
the present plains. Loose red sand also constantly forms low hills on the
borders of these plains; and it seems to have been derived from the
decomposition of the sandstone, and may be a diluvial or lacustrine
deposit. Blue clay appears in the lowest parts of the basin, and forms
the level parts of the plain, with concretions of marl in thin layers.
This has every appearance of a mud deposit; but its depth is greater than
the lowest part visible in the channel of the river. The parallel course
of small tributaries joining rivers, which seem to be the middle drain of
extensive plains, may have been marked out during the deposition of the
sedimentary matter as tributaries, on entering the channel of greater
streams, immediately become a portion of them; hence it is, the general
inclination being common to both, that such tributaries do not cross
these sediments of floods now termed plains in order to join the main
channel or river now remaining.
CHARACTER OF THE GOOBANG AND BOGAN.
Thus the Goobang, on entering the valley of the Lachlan, pursues a
parallel course until the ridge from Hurd's peak confines the plain on
the west and turns the Goobang into the main channel. The Bogan, on the
opposite side of the high land, may be said to belong to the basin of the
Macquarie, although it never joins that river, but merely skirts the
plains which, below Cambelego, may be all supposed to belong to the
original bed of the Macquarie. Throughout its whole course of 250 miles
the left bank of the Bogan is close to low hills, while the right adjoins
the plains of the Macquarie. The basin of the Macquarie, as shown by its
course near Mount Harris and Morrisset's ponds, falls northward, but that
of the Darling to the south-west. It is not at all surprising therefore
that the course of a tributary so much opposed, as the Macquarie is, to
that of the main stream, should spread into marshes: still less that, on
being at length choked with the deposit filling up these marshes, it
should work out for itself a channel less opposed to the course of the
main stream. Duck creek appears to be now the channel by which the floods
of the Macquarie join the Darling, and in a course much more direct than
that through the marshes. Hence the Bogan also, being still less opposed
to that of the Darling, finally enters that river without presenting the
anomaly of an invisible channel. In like manner, at a much lower point on
the Darling, the course of the little stream named Shamrock ponds, so
remarkable in this respect, may be understood. This forms a chain of
ponds, or a flowing stream, according to the seasons, between the plains
on the left bank of the Darling, and the rising grounds further to the
eastward: but instead of crossing the plains to join the main channel
this supposed tributary, after approaching within one or two miles of the
Darling where its plains were narrow, again receded from it as they
widened, and finally disappeared to the left where the plains were broad,
so that its junction with the Darling has not even yet been discovered.
On this principle the channel of the Lachlan, as soon as it enters the
plains belonging to the basin of the Murrumbidgee, may be sought for on
the northern skirts of these plains, although its floods may have been
found to spread in different channels more directly towards the main
At 12 1/4 miles we crossed a dry and shallow branch of the river, and at
14 1/2 miles we at length reached the main channel, and encamped where a
considerable pond of water remained in it, surrounded by abundance of
good grass. In this hole we caught some cod-perch (Gristes peelii).
I sent back three men with two horses to bring on the light cart of Mr.
Stapylton, intending to await its arrival (which I expected would be in
five days) at the end of this day's journey. It was my object to encamp
as near as possible to Regent's Lake without diverging from the route
which I wished to follow with the carts, along the bank of the Lachlan.
WANT OF WATER IN THE RIVER.
For this purpose it was desirable to gain a bend of that river at least
as far west as the most western portion of the lake, according to Mr.
Oxley's survey. This distance we accomplished and more; for we were
obliged to proceed several miles further than I intended, and along the
bank of the river, because no water remained in its bed, until Mr.
Stapylton found a good pond where we encamped after a journey of 16 1/4
miles. Notwithstanding such an alarming want of water in the river, we
saw during this day's journey abundance in hollows on the surface of the
plains; a circumstance clearly evincing that this river, as Mr. Oxley has
truly stated, is not at all dependent for its supply on the rains falling
here. The deep cracks on the plains, so abundant as to impede the
traveller, seemed capable of absorbing not only the water which falls
upon them, but also any which may descend from the low hills around.
During our day's journey I found grey porphyry, the base consisting
apparently of granular felspar with embedded crystals of common felspar
and grains of hornblende.
The night had been unusually warm, so much so that the thermometer stood
during the whole of it at 76 degrees (the usual noonday heat) and so
parching was the air that no one could sleep. A hot wind blew from the
north-east in the morning, and the barometer fell 4/10 of an inch; there
were also slight showers.
CUDJALLAGONG OR REGENT'S LAKE.
Leaving Mr. Stapylton in charge of the camp I went with a small mounted
party to Cudjallagong (Regent's lake) which I found to be nine miles to
the east-south-east of our tents. We passed by the place where
Cudjallagong creek first leaves the river and by which this lake is
The uniformity of breadth and width in this streamlet and its tortuous
course were curious, especially as it must lead the floods of the Lachlan
almost directly back from the general direction of their current to
supply a lake. Thus the fluviatile process seemed to be reversed here,
the tendency of this river being not to carry surface waters off, but
rather to spread over land where none could otherwise be found, those
brought from a great distance. The particular position of this portion of
depressed surface being so far distant from the general course of the
river and the communication between it and the river by a backwater so
shallow and small, the lake can only receive a small share of the river
deposits and this only from the waters of its highest floods. We found
the "noble lake" (as it appeared when discovered by Mr. Oxley) now for
the most part a plain covered with luxuriant grass; some water, it is
true, lodged on the most eastern extremity, but nowhere to a greater
depth than a foot. Innumerable ducks took refuge there and also a great
number of black swans and pelicans, the last standing high upon their
legs above the remains of Regent's lake. We found the water perfectly
sweet even in this shallow state. It abounds with the large freshwater
mussel which was the chief food of the natives at the time we visited it.
DEAD TREES IN IT.
On its northern margin and a good way within the former boundary of the
lake stood dead trees of a full-grown size which had been apparently
killed by too much water, plainly showing, like the trees similarly
situated in Lake George and Lake Bathurst, to what long periods the
extremes of drought and moisture have extended, and may again extend, in
this singular country.
ROCKS NEAR IT.
That the lake is sometimes a splendid sheet of water was obvious in its
line of shores. These were overhung on the south-western side by rocky
eminences which in some parts consisted of a red calcareous tuff
containing fragments of schist; in others, of trap-rock or basalt which
was very hard and black. The opposite shore was lower, with water-worn
cliffs of reddish clay. By these cliffs and the beaches of drifted sand
under them, we perceived that the prevailing winds in all times of high
flood came from the south-west; the north-east side being very different
from the opposite, which was free from sand and bore no such marks of
TRAP AND TUFF.
At two places the banks are so low that in high floods the water must
flow over them to the westward and supply, as I supposed, Campbell's
lake, called Goorongully, and that to the north-east of Regent's lake.
Upon the whole it appeared that the trap which originally elevated the
western shore had either partially subsided, or that it was connected
with a crater or cavity of which the only vestige is this lake. The
calcareous conglomerate was unlike any rock I had seen elsewhere,
consisting in part of a tuff resembling the matrix of the fossil bones
found in limestone fissures. It is also worthy of notice that it appears
in some low undulations which extend from the lake to the river, and that
the channel conveying the waters to the lake lies in a hollow between
On first approaching the lake we saw the natives in the midst of the
water, gathering the mussels (unio). I sent Piper forward to tell them
who we were, and thus, if possible, prevent any alarm at our appearance.
It began to rain heavily as we rode round; and although detached parties
of gins on the south shore had taken fright, left their huts and run to
the main camp, I was glad to find, when we rode up, that they remained
quietly there, under cover from the heavy rain. These huts or gunyas
consisted of a few green boughs which had just been put up for shelter
from the rain then falling. The tribe consisted of about a hundred.
The females and children were in huts at some distance from those of the
men. A great number sat huddled together and cowered down under each
gunya, their skinny limbs being so folded before their bodies that the
head rested upon the knees. Among the faces were some which, being
hideously painted white (the usual badge of mourning) grinned horribly;
and the whole was so characteristic a specimen of life among the
aborigines that the heavy rain did not prevent me from making a sketch.
While I was thus employed the natives very hospitably made a fire in a
vacant gunya, evidently for the purpose of warming poor Barney, our
guide, who seemed miserably cold, having no covering except a jacket,
The men were in general strong, healthy, and muscular, and among them was
one who measured six feet four inches, as we afterwards ascertained at
our camp. My chief object in visiting the lake was to cultivate a good
understanding with these natives in the hopes that one of them might be
induced to accompany me down the Lachlan. The facility with which Piper,
then at a distance of 200 miles from his native place, Bathurst,
conversed with these people showed that their dialects are not so varied
as is commonly believed; and I had little doubt that he would be
understood, even on the banks of the Darling.
THEIR ACCOUNT OF THE COUNTRY LOWER DOWN. OOLAWAMBILOA.
He ascertained from one of these natives of Regent's lake that after
eight of our daily journeys, according to his comprehension, the bed of
the Lachlan would contain no water, and that we must go to the right
across "the middle," as Piper understood, reaching in four days more a
lagoon called Burrabidgin or Burrabadimba: that there I must leave the
carts and go with the native on horseback; and that in two days'
travelling at the rate we could then proceed, we should reach
Oolawambiloa, a very great water. They also said that water could be
found in the bush at the end of each of those four days' journey by one
of their tribe who would go with us and who had twice been at the great
water. All this news made me impatient to go on; but we had to remain a
day or two for the light cart. It rained heavily during the whole
afternoon; nevertheless a body of these natives accompanied us back,
keeping pace with our horses.
GAIETY OF THE NATIVES.
Each carried a burning torch of the resinous bark of the callitris, with
the blaze of which these natives seemed to keep their dripping bodies
warm, laughing heartily and passing their jokes upon us, our horses and
particularly upon our two guides of their own race, Piper and Barney, who
seemed anything but at home on horseback with wet clothes dripping about
These natives were of a bright copper colour, so different from black
that one had painted his thighs with black chequered lines which made his
skin very much resemble the dress of a harlequin.
MR. STAPYLTON SURVEYS THE LAKE.
Mr. Stapylton proceeded with a party to make a survey of Cudjallagong
lake and creek, an operation which could be accomplished with less
inconvenience as that gentleman's equipment could not come up to us until
He extended his survey to the small lake to the north-east, the first
discovered by Mr. Oxley and named by him Campbell's lake. Mr. Stapylton
found only a grassy plain without a drop of water. By an opening from
Cudjallagong lake he proceeded to another likewise seen by Mr. Oxley. It
had also become a verdant plain, nevertheless I thought it was necessary
to distinguish it on my map by its native name of Goorongully, as Mr.
Oxley had not supplied any to it.
The sky had continued overcast although no rain fell after the evening of
the 13th. This day however the wind changed from north-west to west and
the sky became clear.
PIPER OBTAINS A GIN.
The surveying party returned from the lake by midday; and with it came
also Piper, my aboriginal interpreter, who had gone there chiefly with
the view of obtaining a gin, a speculation which I thought rather
hazardous on his part; yet, strange to say, a good strong woman marched
behind him into our camp, loaded with a new opossum-skin cloak, and
various presents, that had been given to Piper with her. How he contrived
to settle this important matter with a tribe to whom he was an utter
stranger could not be ascertained; for he left our party on the lake by
night, going quite alone to the natives, and returned from their camp in
the morning followed by his gin. To obtain a gin at Cudjallagong was the
great ambition of most of the natives we had left behind, among whom were
two, friends of Piper, whom I compelled to return, and who were most
anxious to accompany us that they might obtain wives at this place.
ASCEND GOULBURN RANGE.
The morning was beautifully clear and I set out for the summit of
Goulburn range, named Yerrarar, fourteen miles distant from the camp. The
country we rode over was so thinly wooded that the hill was visible
nearly the whole way. The soil was good and firmer than the common
surface of the plains, the basis being evidently different, consisting
rather of trap than of the sandstone so prevalent elsewhere. At exactly
halfway we passed a hill of trap-rock, connected with a low range
extending towards still higher ground nearer Regent's lake, on the
eastern side. This was the first trap-rock I had seen besides that of the
lake during our whole journey down the Lachlan.
VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT.
On the summit I found hornstone and granular felspar. The whole of
Goulburn range consisted also of the same rock. It was rather
light-coloured, partially decomposed, and lay in rounded nodules and
boulders which formed however ridges across the slopes of the ground,
tending in general 12 or 14 degrees East of North. The hills were
everywhere rocky, so that the ascent cost us nearly an hour, and we were
forced to lead our horses; but it was well worth the pains for the summit
afforded a very extensive prospect. The most interesting feature in the
country was Regent's lake which, although fifteen miles distant, seemed
at our feet, reflecting like a mirror the trees on its margin; and on the
other side we looked into the unknown west, where the horizon seemed as
level as the ocean. In vain I examined it with a powerful telescope, in
search of some remote pic; only a level and thinly wooded country
extended beyond the reach even of telescopic vision.
With the spirit-level of my theodolite I found that the most depressed
part extended about due west by compass, a circumstance which first made
me imagine the Lachlan might have some channel in that direction.
Of the Mount Granard range I could see and intersect only that remarkable
cape-like point which was also the high land visible to the westward from
Mount Granard itself, being named Warranary by Barney. Closer to the
summit on which I stood were various ranges besides that of which it was
the highest point, but even this was not, strictly speaking, a range, for
it consisted on the southward of different masses, separated by portions
of low, level country.
A NEW CORREA.
I recognised many of my stations, such as Mount Cunningham, Bolloon,
Hurd's Pic, Mount Granard, etc. and having taken all the angles I could
with the theodolite, and gathered some specimens of a curious new
correa,* and a few bulbs of a pink-coloured amaryllis which grew on the
summit,** we descended and, just as it became quite dark, reached the
camp where I found that the men had arrived with Mr. Stapylton's light
cart, although his own horse, having strayed at Cordowe, did not
(*Footnote. Resembling C. rupicola of Cunningham, but with larger and
shorter flowers, and differently shaped leaves. Young shoots were covered
with a white down which easily rubbed off. C. leucoclada, Lindley
manuscripts; ramulis albo-tomentosis gracilibus, foliis ovato-oblongis
obtusissimis petiolatis supra glabris scabriusculis subtus tomentosis,
floribus subsessilibus, corolla campanulata quadrifida, calyce cupulari
(**Footnote. Calostemma carneum, Lindley manuscripts; foliis...tubo
perianthii limbo subaequali, corona truncata dentibus sterilibus nullis,
umbellis densis, pedicellis articulatis exterioribus longioribus. Flowers
North arm of the Lachlan.
Leave the Lachlan to travel westward.
Natives from Warranary.
Course down the Lachlan resumed.
Extensive ride to the westward.
Night without water.
Continue westward, and south-west.
Deep cracks in the earth.
Search for the Lachlan.
Cross various dry channels.
Second night without water.
Reedy swamp with dead trees.
Route of Mr. Oxley.
Dry bed of the Lachlan.
Find at length a large pool.
Food of the natives discovered.
Horses knock up.
Scenery on the Lachlan.
Character of the different kinds of trees.
Return to the party.
Dead body found in the water.
A rainy night without shelter.
A new guide.
Branches of the Lachlan.
A native camp.
A widow joins the party as guide.
The Balyan root.
Reach the united channel of the Lachlan.
Natives' account of the rivers lower down.
Mr. Oxley's lowest camp on the Lachlan.
Slow growth of trees.
A tribe of natives come to us.
Mr. Oxley's bottle.
Barney in disgrace.
A family of natives from the Murrumbidgee.
Inconvenient formality of natives meeting.
Rich tints on the surface.
Improved appearance of the river.
Dead trees among the reeds.
Visit some rising ground.
Difficulties in finding either of the rivers or any water.
Search for the Murrumbidgee.
A night without water.
Heavy fall of rain.
Two men missing.
Reach the Murrumbidgee.
Natives on the opposite bank.
They swim across.
Afraid of the sheep.
Their reports about the junction of the Darling.
Search up the river for junction of Lachlan.
Course of the Murrumbidgee.
Tribe from Cudjallagong visits the camp in my absence.
Caught following my steps.
Piper questions them.
NORTH ARM OF THE LACHLAN.
We proceeded along the right bank of the Lachlan, crossing at five miles
a small arm or ana-branch* which had been seen higher up diverging from
the river, and flowing towards the north-west by Mr. Oxley. The local
name of it is Yamorrima. Beyond this watercourse Cannil plains extend and
were more grassy than plains in general. I observed a small ridge of
trap-rock near the river. We crossed soon after the base of Mount
Torrens, also a hill of trap; and a continuation on this bank of the
Lachlan of the Goulburn range. Mount Torrens is however only an elongated
hill. The trap-rock reappears in some lower hills further northward, of
which Mount Davison is the highest and most eastern.
(*Footnote. See Footnote below.)
Beyond Mount Torrens we entered the region which lies to the westward of
the Macquarie range, and found several new plants, especially a very
pretty Xerotes, with sweetly perfumed flowers, being a good deal like X.
leucocephala, but with the leaves filamentous at the edges, and the male
spikes interrupted.* We encamped on a deep pond at a bend of the Lachlan
named Gonniguldury. I learnt from the old native guide who accompanied us
from Regent's lake that they call those ponds of a river which never dry
up quawy, a word which proved to be of use to us in descending the
Lachlan. At this camp I found, by a careful observation of alpha and beta
Centauri, that the magnetic variation was 8 degrees 56 minutes 15 seconds
(*Footnote. X. typhina, Lindley manuscripts; acaulis, foliis longissimis
angusto-linearibus margine laevibus filamentosis basi laceris, capitulis
omnibus cylindraceis lanatis foemincis simplicibus masculis interruptis.)
We continued along the riverbank passing quawys of various names as they
were pointed out by our guide. We crossed the skirt of an extensive plain
(Eeoappa) which brought in view just ahead of us a low ridge named
Wallangome. At 8 1/2 miles we found the river close under the southern
extremity of this hill, and its rocks so obstructed our passage that we
were delayed an hour in clearing a way. I ascended that point nearest the
river and determined its position by taking angles on various heights
already laid down in my map such as Granard, Yarrarar, Mount Torrens,
etc. The hill itself consisted chiefly of quartz rock, but at its base
were water-worn blocks of quartzose sandstone containing pebbles of
quartz, and they seemed to be the principal rock in the bed of the
As we proceeded a low rocky ridge or extremity from Wallangome extended
upwards of a mile along the river. Soon after we had passed a bend called
Taralago we crossed the southern limits of a plain of which the local
name is Nyaindurry, being bounded on the north-west by an isolated hill
named Moriattu. After passing successively two similar points of the
river we reached that of Gooda, where we encamped, the latitude observed
being 33 degrees 23 minutes 3 seconds South.
Mr. Stapylton, with overseer Burnett and the natives, had gone forward
early in the morning towards the hills near this place in pursuit of wild
cattle, which were said to abound near it. The tracks we perceived were
old, and although the other party had found many that were newer they
returned without having seen any of these wild animals. It appeared that
a herd of such cattle had got together about Macquarie's range, then only
a short way ahead of us, and I saw no objections to the overseer's
killing one or two, as he wished to do, in order that we might feed our
native guides without drawing so largely as we were otherwise compelled
to do on our own stock of provisions. This was a fortunate day for us in
regard to plants. Besides several curious kinds of grass,* a splendid
blue Brunonia was found on Wallangome. Its colour surpassed any azure I
had ever seen in flowers, the tinge being rather deeper than that of the
turquoise. We also obtained the seed so that I hoped this plant, which
seemed hardy enough, might become a pleasing addition to our
The flowers are nature's jewels.**
(*Footnote. Lappago racemosa, W. and Aristida ramosa, R. Br.)
(**Footnote. Croly's Gems.)
The pink lily* was also found, as on Yerrarar, amongst rocks, but growing
in rich red soil. We gathered a number of the bulbs, being very desirous
to propagate this plant, which differs from the common white amaryllis
and others belonging to the plains not only in colour, but also in the
absence from their corona of intermediate teeth. We again found here the
new Xerotes, having the flower in five or six round tufts on the blade.
The flowered blades drooped around, radiating from the centre, while
those without flowers stood upright, giving to the whole an uncommon
appearance; the flower had a very pleasant perfume.
Mr. Stapylton conducted the party forward while I went to the summit of
Moriattu with the theodolite. Thence I saw Mount Granard, Yerrarar, and
Mount Torrens, also the various points which I had intersected from
Wallangome. A level plain appeared to extend southward in the midst of
the groups of ridges composing Macquarie and Peel's ranges. Coccaparra, a
range very abrupt on the eastern side, appeared to be Macquarie's range
of Oxley, and an elevated extremity of it, near the river, I took to be
Mount Porteous, and of which the local name is Willin.* To the northward
the most remarkable feature was a line of plains similar to those beside
the main channel of the river, and they appeared to border a branch from
it, which extended in a western direction under the base of a small hill
named Murrangong, and far beyond it. The hill on which I stood was the
most perfectly isolated that I had ever seen, low level ground
surrounding it on every side. It consisted of a variety of the same
quartz rock as Wallangome, but contained pebbles of laminated compact
felspar. This hill was abrupt and rocky on the west and north-west sides,
the best ascent being from the south-east.
(*Footnote. Willi, an opossum)
We overtook the party after it had crossed some extensive plains, where
we observed a species of solanum, the berries of which our native guides
gathered and ate.* Overseer Burnett made another search this day on
Coccaparra range for the wild bullocks; the party fell in with a herd but
it kept at a great distance and got off into scrubs. Their bedding places
and paths were numerous, and it thus appeared that the number of these
animals was considerable. We gathered on Coccaparra and Mount Porteous
several bulbous plants of a species quite new to me, the root being very
large. There also we found a remarkable acacia, having long upright
needle-like leaves among which a few small tufts of yellow flowers were
sparingly scattered.** We encamped on a pond of the river named
Burrabadimba, after travelling fifteen miles.
(*Footnote. S. esuriale, Lindley manuscripts; caule humili suffruticoso,
aculcis subulatis tenuibus in apice ramulorum et costa, foliis
lineari-oblongis obtusis subrepandis utrinque cinereis stellato-pilosis,
pedunculis subtrifloris, calycibus campanulatis pentagonis 5-dentatis
stellato-pilosis corollis tomentosis multo brevioribus.)
(**Footnote. This proved to be the rare A. quadrilateralis of De
LEAVE THE LACHLAN TO TRAVEL WESTWARD.
After proceeding some miles on this day's journey our Cudjallagong guide
pointed in a west-north-west direction as the way to Oolawambiloa.
Leaving therefore the Kalare or Lachlan, near a great bend in its general
course which below this (according to Mr. Oxley's map) was south-west, we
followed the route proposed by my native friend as it was precisely in
the direction by which I wished to approach the Darling. The universal
scarcity of water had however deprived me of every hope that any could be
found in that country, at a season when we often sought it in vain, even
in the bed of one of the large rivers of the country. Our guide however
knew the nature of our wants, and also that of the country, and I eagerly
followed him towards a hill, the most distant and most westerly on the
At sunset we halted full twenty miles short of that hill, beside the bed
of a small river, resembling in capacity and the nature of its banks that
of the Bogan; but to the manifest consternation of our guide we could
find no water in it, although some ponds had been only recently dried up.
This watercourse, he informed me, was the same which I had seen passing
by Murrangong, but he said it did not return its waters to the Lachlan, a
circumstance which I could not understand. Booraran was the name he gave
it. He went with some of our people in the dark and found a few quarts of
water two miles beyond it, but our cattle were obliged to pass the night
without any. The barometer had been falling for several days and the wind
arising suddenly at 9 P.M. brought a misty mass of cloud which began most
providentially to drop upon us, to the great relief of our thirsty
cattle. This day we found on the plains a new species of Sida with small
yellow flowers, very fragrant, and on a long stalk.* In the woods I
observed a eucalyptus of a graceful drooping character, apparently
related to E. pilularis and amygdalina.
(*Footnote. S. fibulifera, Lindley manuscripts; incano-tomentosa,
pusilla, diffusa, foliis ovato-oblongis obtusis dentatis basi cordatis,
stipulis longissimis setaceis, pedunculis axillaribus aggregatis
filiformibus petiolis longioribus, calycibus lanatis corolla parum
brevioribus, fructu disciformi convexo tomentoso, coccis monospermis.)
NATIVES FROM WARRANARY.
A rainy morning. Some strange natives approached from the woods while I
was looking at the country beyond the dry channel, in the direction in
which our guide still wished us to proceed (about west-north-west). They
were grave and important-looking old men, and each carried a light. They
called out to me in a serious tone "Weeri kally," words which I too well
understood, meaning simply no water. I took my guide to them, but he
still seemed in doubt about the scarcity.
COURSE DOWN THE LACHLAN RESUMED.
It was necessary not to depend on uncertainties on such a point, and I
therefore lost no time in shaping our course again towards the nearest
bend of the Lachlan, which we reached after travelling nine miles in the
rain, and we encamped beside a pond or quawy named Buree. I considered
this day's journey to be the first deviation from the most direct line of
route towards that part of the Darling where my last journey terminated.
It was evident that in common seasons the country I wished to traverse
was not without water, our guide having suggested it as the way to
Oolawambiloa (a name always referring to a great abundance of water). I
considered it necessary now to ascertain, if possible, and before the
heavy part of our equipment moved further, whether the Lachlan actually
joined the Murrumbidgee near the point where Mr. Oxley saw its waters
covering the country; or whether it pursued a course so much more to the
westward as to have been taken for the Darling by Captain Sturt. Near the
Lachlan at this place the Anthericum bulbosum occurred in abundance, and
the cattle seemed to eat it with avidity.
On the bank of the river a new species of rosella appeared amongst the
birds, and several were shot and preserved as specimens.
EXTENSIVE RIDE TO THE WESTWARD.
I proceeded westward accompanied by five men and an aboriginal guide, all
mounted on horseback. My object was to obtain, if possible, some
knowledge of the final course of the Lachlan; and secondly to ascertain
how far the hills to the north-west of our camp ranged beyond that very
remarkable feature, resembling a cape or promontory and named Warranary,
which marked the extent of our sight and knowledge at that time. This
point was in a direct line between the camp we then occupied on the
Lachlan and the lowest part of the Darling attained during the former
journey, and we had just fallen back from want of water; a circumstance
likely to compel me to follow the Lachlan downwards, at least if it could
be ascertained thus early that this river could not possibly be the
supposed Darling of Sturt. In case it proved otherwise I thought it not
improbable that, at the end of two days' journey westward, I might fall
in with the Lachlan, and if I could find water in it at such a point
under any circumstances, I considered that a position so much advanced
would be equally favourable, either for reaching the junction of the
Murray or the upper Darling. Should I succeed in reaching the Lachlan at
about sixty miles west of my camp I might be satisfied that it was this
river which Captain Sturt took for the Darling, and then I might seek
that river by crossing the range on the north. Whereas, should I find
sufficient reason to believe that the Darling would join the Murray, I
might continue my journey down the Lachlan until I reduced the distance
across to the Darling as much as the scarcity of water might render
We traversed fine plains of greater extent than I had ever seen before,
and in general of more tenacious surface. They were in many parts covered
with salsolaceous plants, but I found also a kind of grass which I had
not previously noticed; and a curious woolly plant with two-spined fruit,
belonging to the genus Sclerolaena of Brown.* I looked in vain however
for the continuation of the range to the northward. The cape
before-mentioned first rose to a considerable height over the horizon,
but as we proceeded it sunk so as to be just visible behind us, bearing
at the point where we lay down for the night 31 degrees East of North.
The continuation of the range, as we now saw, receded to the north-west;
so that the horizon of these plains continued unbroken save by the
cape-like point of Warranary.
(*Footnote. S. bicornis, Lindley manuscripts; caule lanato ramoso, foliis
linearibus succulentis glabris, calycibus solitariis bispinosis lana alba
A flight of the cockatoo of the interior, with scarlet and yellow
top-knot, passed over our heads from the north-west.
The intense interest of this day's ride into a region quite unknown urged
me forward at a good pace, having a horizon like that of the sea before
and around us, and being in constant expectation of seeing either some
distant summit or line of lofty river-trees; all the results of the
journey depending on whether it should be the one or the other. Neither
however, as already stated, appeared, and the sun went down on the
unbroken horizon; nor could the native discern from the top of the
highest tree any other objects besides the lofty yarra trees of the
Lachlan, at a vast distance to the south-west by south. During the ride
many a tree and bush rose on the horizon before us and sunk on that we
left behind. We saw five emus together which did not run so far from us
as usual but stood at a little distance to gaze on our advancing party.
In a strip of scrub consisting of Acacia longifolia and lanceolata and
some other graceful shrubs I found a new species of correa, remarkable
for its small, green, bell-shaped flowers, and the almost total absence
of hairiness from its leaves.*
(*Footnote. C. glabra, Lindley manuscripts; ramulis incanis, foliis
ovalibus obtusis in petiolum angustatis glabris subtus punctatis, corolla
brevi campanulata tomentosa 4-dentata calyce truncato cupulari triplo
NIGHT WITHOUT WATER.
Near this scrub we saw also many pigeons and parrots; which strengthened
our hopes of finding water, which hopes however were disappointed, and we
at length tied our horses' heads to the trees in a bit of scrub, and I
lay down on a few boughs for the night under the cover of a gunya or
bower which, on such occasions, was set up by Woods in a very short time.
(See Volume 1.)
Dew had providentially fallen during the night and it proved in some
measure a substitute for the want of water to our horses. It was also
highly favourable to the object of our tour in affording a refraction
when the sun rose, so that Coccaparra (Macquarie's range) appeared above
the horizon and enabled me to determine our distance from it to be sixty
miles. Still even this refractive state of the air brought no hills in
view to the north or north-west, a circumstance which surprised me and
afforded additional reason for supposing that the Lachlan might not unite
so soon as had been imagined with the Murrumbidgee.
CONTINUE WESTWARD, AND SOUTH-WEST.
This may require explanation. The course of rivers is in general
conformable to the direction of ranges or the position of those hills
which bound the valley or basin, however extensive, in which they flow.
As this range fell off to the north-west, opposite to where the course of
the Murrumbidgee had continued south-west, it was less probable that the
Lachlan would unite with the main stream there than if the range had
approached, or had even continued parallel to it.
I was disappointed in not finding sufficient water for our use remaining
on the surface after the late rain; and although the country appeared
declining to the westward, and we saw more pigeons and recent marks of
natives, I was reluctantly obliged at length to bend my steps
south-westward and afterwards south. The country we traversed was one
level plain whose extent westward we neither knew nor could discover, and
for some hours during this day's ride scarcely a bush was visible.
Clumps of trees of the flooded box, or marura of the natives, appeared
occasionally in and about the many hollows in the surface; and, on the
isolated eminences of red sand, callitris trees grew, always hopeless
objects to persons in want of water. These patches of sand however were
not numerous, and never rose more than a few feet above the common
surface, which in general consisted of clay more or less tenacious. Parts
of it were quite naked; but others bore a crop of grass about three years
old which probably sprang up after the last thorough drenching of the
DEEP CRACKS IN THE EARTH.
So parched however was the ground now, especially in those parts which
bore no vegetation, that it yawned in cracks too deep to be fathomed by
the length of my sabre and arm together.
The best ground for travelling was of a reddish colour, glossy and firm
with tufts of a species of atriplex upon it; a dwarf grass with large
seeds not seen elsewhere by me was springing up, apparently in
consequence of the late rains. This new vegetation did not grow near the
old grass, and was too thin and low to tinge the surface.* The dreary
look of the old grass in other parts, decayed and of the colour of lead,
could not be exceeded; roots and stalks being all dead and decayed like
(*Footnote. Panicum flavidum of Retz.)
Every blade drooped towards the north-east and showed plainly how
prevalent the south-west winds were on these open wastes. In a gloomy day
a wanderer lost upon them might have known his course merely by the
uniform drooping of those blades of grass towards the north-east.
SEARCH FOR THE LACHLAN.
After travelling ten miles south-west without perceiving any indication
of the river I directed our course southward and, after proceeding seven
miles in that direction, we came upon a hollow of Polygonum junceum so
full of wide and deep cracks that our horses were got across with
difficulty. It extended in a south-west direction towards some flooded
box-trees. The country beyond was better wooded, and at eleven miles we
at length approached a creek, and the large trees which enveloped it
looked like those of the river itself; but we saw none of the yarra or
white-trunked trees which always accompanied such waters and, although we
certainly found the channel of a considerable current, it was shallow,
quite dry, and full of Polygonum junceum.
I could hardly consider this a lateral branch of the river as I thought
that I had seen its head in some hollows which I crossed on the plains
the day before. After passing this channel however we descried a long
dark line of river-trees which, as our horses were getting tired, we were
now somewhat anxious to see and, the native perceiving smoke arising from
the woods there, I, at his request, altered my course to that direction
which was 30 degrees East of South.
THIRST OF BARNEY.
None of the party suffered so much apparently from the want of water as
Barney, our native friend. He rode foremost of the men with a tin pot in
his hand, his eyes fixed on remote distance and his mouth open, with the
lower lip projecting, as if to catch rain from the heavens. When we were
within two miles of those trees we found enough of rainwater in a shallow
hole to refresh our horses, but it was surrounded with such tempting
grass that the animals preferred the verdure to it. Barney drank as much
as he wished, and I advised the men to fill their horns, but the horses
soon trod the water into mud, and all expected to find plenty near the
smoke; a hope in which I was by no means sanguine.
CROSS VARIOUS DRY CHANNELS.
The first line of trees we crossed enclosed only a shallow channel,
overgrown with polygonum; and we in vain sought the natives although we
saw where portions of fire had been recently dropped.
Three miles further we perceived a more promising line of trees and smoke
arising from them also. There we found the yarra trees growing on a flat
with a reedy channel meandering amongst them. The fire arose from some
burning trees and grass; and there were huts of natives but no
Green bushes grew luxuriantly, and amongst them, in a romantic looking
spot, three separate graves had been recently erected. Still we could
perceive neither signs of water nor any of the natives who might have
told us where to find it. Crossing another small plain of firm ground we
came upon what seemed to be the main channel of the Lachlan, pursuing a
course to the west-north-west. It had not however above one-third of the
capacity of the bed above, but in every other respect it was similar.
Having in vain looked for a waterhole we hastened towards another line of
trees which we reached by sunset. It consisted of the yarra kind also,
but overhung what was only a hollow in the midst of a plain, although
evidently subject to inundation.
SECOND NIGHT WITHOUT WATER.
To find water there seemed quite out of the question; but we were
nevertheless obliged to halt, for the sun had set. Late in the night, as
we lay burning with thirst and dreaming of water, a species of duck flew
over our heads which, from its peculiar note, I knew I had previously
heard on the Darling. It was flying towards the south-west.
We proceeded on the bearing of 80 degrees east of south, towards the
nearest bend of a line of yarra river-trees. There we found, after riding
two miles, another diminutive Lachlan, precisely similar to the former,
but rather less: it was very sinuous in its course and full of holes, but
surrounded by green bushes with chirping birds; but it was too obvious
that these holes had been long, long dry. Thence I pursued a course 24
degrees North of East over naked ground, evidently subject at times to
inundation, towards other large trees; being anxious to cross all the
arms of the Lachlan before taking up its general course to guide us back
to our camp which lay then, by my calculation, 43 miles in direct
distance, higher up the river.
On this flat we passed a newly-raised tumulus, a remarkable circumstance
considering the situation; for I had observed that the natives of the
Darling always selected the higher ground for burying in; and it might be
presumed that, on this part of the Lachlan, the tribe (whose marks were
numerous on the trees) could find no heights within their territory.
REEDY SWAMP WITH DEAD TREES.
We found that this belt of river-trees enclosed a dry swamp only, covered
with dead reeds, amongst which stood a forest of dead yarra trees,
bearing well-defined marks of water in dark stained rings at the height
of about four feet on their barkless trunks. The soil was soft and rich
and, where no roots of reeds bound it together, it opened in yawning
cracks which were very deep. This dried up swamp was nearly a mile broad,
and beyond it we found firm open and good ground; some very large
eucalypti or yarra growing between it and the edge of the reeds.
ROUTE OF MR. OXLEY.
I was now satisfied that we had crossed the whole bed of the Lachlan; and
I thought Mr. Oxley's line of route might have passed near the spot where
I then stood; and that in a time of flood all the channels, save the one
next the firm ground, might easily have escaped his notice. Here our
horses began to be quite knocked up, chiefly from want of water; we
therefore dismounted and dragged them on, for I hoped by taking the
direction of Mr. Oxley's line of route, as shown on his map, that the
branches would soon concentrate in one united channel.
DRY BED OF THE LACHLAN.
At the end of four miles we found that junction had taken place, and the
bed of the river as broad and deep as usual, but it was everywhere dry. I
made the people lead the exhausted horses from point to point, while I
examined all the bends, for the course was very sinuous; still I saw no
appearance of water, nor even of any having recently dried up.
FIND AT LENGTH A LARGE POOL.
After proceeding thus about two miles, the chirping of birds and a tree
full of chattering parrots raised my hopes that water was near; and at a
very sharp turn of the channel, to the great delight of all, I at length
saw a large and deep pool. Our horses stood drinking a full quarter of an
hour; and during the time a duck dropped into the pond amongst them. The
poor bird appeared to have been as much overcome by thirst as ourselves
for, on the inconsiderate native throwing his boomerang, it was scarcely
able to fly to the top of the opposite bank. As the grass was good I
halted during the remainder of the day for the sake of our horses;
although the delay subjected us to another night in the bush. I made the
men sit down out of sight of the pond for a reason which I did not choose
to tell them; but it was that we might not, by our presence, deprive many
other starving creatures of a benefit which Providence had so bountifully
afforded to us.
On a large tree overlooking the pond, and which had already been deprived
by the natives of a considerable patch of bark, I chalked the letter M,
which the men cut out of the solid wood with their tomahawks. This being
the lowest permanent pond above the separation of the river into so many
arms, I thought that by such a mark of a white man the natives would be
more ready to point out the spot to any future traveller when required. I
found about the fires of the natives a number of small balls of dry fibre
resembling hemp, and I at first supposed it to be a preparation for
making nets, having seen such on the Darling.
FOOD OF THE NATIVES DISCOVERED.
Barney the native however soon set me right by taking up the root of a
large reed or bulrush which grew in a dry lagoon hard by, and by showing
me how the natives extracted from the rhizoma a quantity of gluten; and
this was what they eat, obtaining it by chewing the fibre. They take up
the root of the bulrush in lengths of about eight or ten inches, peel off
the outer rind and lay it a little before the fire; then they twist and
loosen the fibres, when a quantity of gluten, exactly resembling wheaten
flour, may be shaken out, affording at all times a ready and wholesome
food. It struck me that this gluten, which they call Balyan, must be the
staff of life to the tribes inhabiting these morasses, where tumuli and
other traces of human beings were more abundant than at any part of the
Lachlan that I had visited.
HORSES KNOCK UP.
We continued our route upwards along the right bank of the Lachlan on a
bearing of 36 degrees East of North taken from Mr. Oxley's map: and
coming to the river at nine miles we again watered our horses, and rested
them for they were very weak. After travelling fifteen miles one of them
rode by Woods, who carried the theodolite, knocked up when we were far
from the Lachlan. With some difficulty we however got it on until we
reached the river and, finding water, we halted for the day after a ride
of twenty-one miles.
SCENERY ON THE LACHLAN.
The scenery was highly picturesque at that part of the banks of the
Lachlan notwithstanding the dreary level of the naked plains back from
CHARACTER OF THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF TREES.
The yarra grew here, as on the Darling, to a gigantic size, the height
sometimes exceeding 100 feet; and its huge gnarled trunks, wild
romantic-formed branches often twisting in coils, shining white or light
red bark, and dark masses of foliage, with consequent streaks of shadow
below, frequently produced effects fully equal to the wildest forest
scenery of Ruysdael or Waterloo. Often as I hurried along did I take my
last look with reluctance of scenes forming the most captivating studies.
The yarra is certainly a pleasing object in various respects; its shining
bark and lofty height inform the traveller of a distant probability of
water, or at least of the bed of a river or lake; and being visible over
all other trees it usually marks the course of rivers so well that, in
travelling along the Darling and Lachlan, I could with ease trace the
general course of the river without approaching its banks until I wished
to encamp. The nature and character of several other species of the genus
eucalyptus were nevertheless very different and peculiar. The small kind,
covered with a rough bark and never exceeding the size of fruit trees in
an orchard and called, I believe, by Mr. Oxley, the dwarf-box, but by the
natives goborro, grows only on plains subject to inundation, and it
usually bears on the lower part of the trunk the mark of the water by
which it is at times surrounded. Between the goborro and the yarra there
seems this difference: the yarra grows only on the banks of rivers,
lakes, or ponds, from the water of which the roots derive nourishment;
but when the trunk itself has been too long immersed the tree dies; as
appeared on various lakes and in reedy swamps on the Lachlan. The goborro
on the contrary seldom grows on the banks of a running stream, but seems
to thrive in inundations, however long their duration. Mr. Oxley remarked
during his wet journey that there was always water where these trees
grew. We found them in most cases during a dry season, a sure indication
that none was to be discovered near them. It may be observed however that
all permanent waters are invariably surrounded by the yarra. These
peculiarities we ascertained only after examining many a hopeless hollow
where grew the goborro by itself; nor until I had found my sable guides
eagerly scanning the yarra from afar when in search of water, and
condemning any distant view of goborro trees as hopeless during that dry
season. In describing the trees which ornamented the river scenery I must
not omit to mention a long-leaved acacia whose dark stems and sombre
foliage, drooping over the bank, presented a striking and pleasing
contrast to the yarra trunks, and the light soil of the water-worn banks.
The bimbel (or spear-wood) which grows on dry forest land, the pine-like
Callitris pyramidalis on red sandhills, and a variety of acacias in the
scrubs, generally present groups of the most picturesque description.
RETURN TO THE PARTY.
We continued towards the camp which I reached at about nine miles and
found that nothing extraordinary had occurred during my absence. The
overseer had been again to Coccoparra to hunt the wild cattle (by my
orders) yet, although he found a herd and put two bullets through one
animal, all escaped. The party thought to hem them in by driving them to
the foot of the range; but as soon as the cattle found themselves beset
they climbed, apparently without much difficulty, the abrupt rocky face
of the hills, throwing down on their ascent the large fragments and loose
stones that lay in their way and which, rolling down the declivities,
checked their pursuers until the bullocks, wounded and all, escaped.
DEAD BODY FOUND IN THE WATER.
The working cattle had little good grass at the camp, and another reason
I had for quitting it was the state of the waterhole. Even at first it
was small and the water had a slightly putrid taste, the cause of which
having been discovered, the water had become still less palatable. Piper,
our native interpreter, in diving for fish on the previous day had, to
his horror, brought up on his spear, instead of a fish, the putrid leg of
a man! Our guide (to the Booraran) had left the camp during my absence;
and it was said that he was aware of the circumstance of the body of a
native having been thrown into the hole; for he had abstained from
drinking any of the water.
I had still however a desire to reconnoitre the country to the southward
in hopes that I might see enough of its features to enable me to arrive
at some conclusion as to the final course of the Lachlan, and to arrange
our further journey accordingly.
I rode to Burradorgang, a saddle-backed hill bearing 117 degrees from our
camp and distant 19 miles. This hill I found to be the most western and
the last between the Murrumbidgee and the Lachlan. I only reached its
base with tired horses an hour before dusk. Just as I dismounted and
began to climb the rocks a drizzling rain came on from the north-west,
and it unfortunately first obscured that portion of the horizon which I
was most anxious to see.
VIEW FROM BURRADORGANG.
To the northward, eastward, and southward however it continued clear, and
the points visible in those directions fully occupied my attention until
the western horizon became distinct. I was at once enabled to identify
this hill with an angle observed when on the top of Yerrarar. Granard and
the principal summits of Peel's and Macquarie's ranges were visible and,
as the sky cleared I could see Warranary, that south-western extremity of
the Mount Granard range already mentioned, and which I was enabled by my
observations here to connect with the trigonometrical survey. But even
from this summit nothing could be observed beyond besides the
continuation of the range towards the north-west at an immense distance.
The object next in importance was the country between me and the
Murrumbidgee in a south-west direction. I expected that some kind of
ridge or hills above the common level would separate that river from the
Lachlan if the courses of both rivers continued to separate to any
considerable distance westward. But although I perceived a low ridge
extending towards the west from the most southern part of Peel's range I
also saw that it terminated in the low level of the plains at about 20
degrees West of South.
A RAINY NIGHT WITHOUT SHELTER.
Burradorgang, this last of hills, consisted of ferruginous sandstone like
all the others I saw further in the interior during the former journey. I
descended to its base just as darkness came on; and myself and the men
with me were forced to pass the night exposed to the wind and rain at a
place where nevertheless we could find no water for our horses.
The rain ceased some time before daybreak, but the weather continued
cloudy and, fogs hanging on the distant horizon, I was not tempted again
to ascend the mountain as I certainly should have done had the morning
been clear. We mounted and retraced our steps to the camp. The country
between this hill and the river consisted chiefly of soft red soil in
which grew the cypress-like callitris, also acacia, and the bimbel or
spear-wood.* It seemed to consist of a very low undulation, extending
from the hill into the great angle formed by the Lachlan, whose general
course changes near that camp from west to south-west. There was however
a tract extending southward from the river for about three miles, on
which grew yarra trees bearing the marks of occasional floods to the
height of a foot above the common surface. This ground was probably in
part under water when Mr. Oxley passed it, as he represents a swamp or
morass in his map within this bend of the river. I found on the low
tract, between Burradorgang and our camp, a new curious species of
solanum, so completely covered with yellow prickles that its flowers and
leaves could scarcely be seen.**
(*Footnote. The wood named bimbel by the natives grows with a shining
green lance-shaped leaf, and is in much request with them for the purpose
of making their spears, boomerangs, waddies, etc.)
(**Footnote. S. ferocissimum, Lindl manuscripts; caule herbaceo erecto:
aculeis confertissimis pugioniformibus arcuatis, foliis linearibus
obtusis utrinque praesertim subtus furfuraceo-tomentosis aculeatissimis,
pedunculis subtrifloris foliorum longitudine, calycibus inermibus.)
A NEW GUIDE.
On reaching the camp I found that Piper had fallen in with some natives,
one of whom, an old man, undertook to conduct us to the Murrumbidgee in
five days, assuring us that the Lachlan entered that river. This
information, the dry state of the country, and the knowledge I had
acquired of its principal features, determined me to follow the course of
the Lachlan; and in the event of its soon uniting with the Murrumbidgee,
to continue along the right bank of that river to its junction with the
Murray, then to leave the bulk of our equipment, the carts and most of
the cattle, and complete the survey of the Darling with a lighter party.
We moved down the Lachlan, travelling in my former track, and we pitched
our tents near the place where I had slept on the 26th, the cattle not
being able to go further, from the softness of the ground after the rain.
Following the same track, the party reached, at the distance of twelve
miles, an angle of the river named Curwaddilly, at which there was a good
pond, and here we encamped. From this point I obtained a bearing on
Burradorgang, and it was the lowest station on the river which could be
connected with my survey of the hills for, when Burradorgang sunk below
the eastern horizon, a perfectly level line bounded our view on all
Just as the party was leaving the ground a noise was heard in the rear,
and two shots were fired before I could hasten to the spot. These I found
had been inconsiderately fired by Jones our shepherd at a native dog
belonging to our new guide and which had attacked the sheep. This
circumstance was rather unfortunate, for our guide soon after fell
behind, alleging to the party that he was ill. I knew however where to
find water that day; and we proceeded to the fine pond which I was so
fortunate as to discover on the 24th ultimo after our horses had suffered
thirst for three days and two nights. Two young natives who had
accompanied us for some days undertook to find water for a couple of
journeys beyond this pond. The men caught in this friendly pool several
good cod-perch (Gristes peelii) a fish surpassing, in my opinion, all
others in Australia. As we crossed the plains this day I observed the
natives eating a plant which grew in the hollows and we found it, when
boiled, a very good vegetable.
BRANCHES OF THE LACHLAN.
We pursued a course nearly west for seven miles, having the Lachlan on
our left until we were stopped by a watercourse, or branch of the river,
which crossed our intended route at rightangles. Its banks were steep and
the passage of our waggons was consequently a work of difficulty, but the
best crossing place appeared to be just where it left the main channel.
Here accordingly we cut down the bank on each side with spades and filled
up the soft lowest part of the hollow with stumps and branches of trees,
and all of which being covered with earth from the sides, the carts were
got safely across after about half an hour's work. We soon however came
to another similar watercourse, but by the advice of the natives we
followed it to the northward, and we found that at a short distance it
branched into shallow hollows of polygonum which we traversed without
delay or difficulty. Soon after we had resumed our course by crossing
these hollows, we came upon the main channel which very much resembled
other parts of the Lachlan, only that it was smaller.
A NATIVE CAMP.
Piper's gin came to tell us that there was water ahead, and that natives
were there. We accordingly approached with caution and having found two
ponds of water we encamped beside them, the local name of the situation
A fire was burning near the water and at it sat a black child about seven
or eight years old, quite blind. All the other natives had fled save one
poor little girl still younger who, notwithstanding the appearance of
such strange beings as we must have seemed to her, and the terror of
those who fled, nevertheless lingered about the bushes and at length took
her seat beside the blind boy. A large supply of the balyan root lay near
them, and a dog so lean as scarcely to be able to stand, drew his feeble
body close up beside the two children as if desirous to defend them. They
formed indeed a miserable group, exhibiting nevertheless instances of
affection and fidelity creditable both to the human and canine species.
An old man came up to the fire afterwards with other children. He told us
the name of the waterholes between that place and the Murrumbidgee, but
he could not be prevailed on to be our guide.
A WIDOW JOINS THE PARTY AS GUIDE.
Subsequently however a gin who was a widow, with the little girl
above-mentioned, whose age might be about four years, was persuaded by
him to accompany us.
At this camp, just after I had inspected the horses and particularly
noticed one as the second best draught animal we had, I was requested by
the overseer to look at him again, both bones of his near thigh having
been broken by an unlucky kick from a mare. The horse had been with me on
two former expeditions, and it was with great regret that I consented to
his being shot. We were enabled to regale the old native with his flesh,
the men shrewdly giving him to understand through Piper that the horse
was with us what the emu was with them, too good a thing to be eaten by
young men. He seemed to relish it much and next morning we left him
roasting a large piece.
THE BALYAN ROOT.
The principal food of these inhabitants of the Kalare or Lachlan appeared
to be balyan, the rhizoma, as already stated, of a monocotyledonous plant
or bulrush growing amongst the reeds. It contains so much gluten that one
of our party, Charles Webb, made in a short time some excellent cakes of
it; and they seemed to me lighter and sweeter than those prepared from
The natives gather the roots and carry them on their heads in great
bundles within a piece of net. The old man came thus loaded to the fire
where the blind child was seated; and indeed this was obviously their
chief food among the marshes.
We proceeded nearly west according to the suggestion of our female guide.
We crossed, at a few miles from Combedyega, my track in the afternoon of
April 23rd; and soon after we entered on plains similar to those which we
had traversed that day:
The morn was wasted in the pathless grass,
And long and lonesome was the wild to pass.
REACH THE UNITED CHANNEL OF THE LACHLAN.
We saw however the river-line of trees on our left, and late in the day
we approached it. Here I recognised the Lachlan again united in a single
channel, which looked as capacious as it was above, the only difference
being that the yarra trees seemed low and of stunted growth. A singular
appearance on the bushes which grew on the immediate bank attracted my
attention. A paper-like substance hung over them in the manner in which
linen is sometimes thrown over a hedge; but on examination it appeared to
be the dried scum of stagnant water. This--marks of water on the trees
and the less water-worn character of the banks which were of even slope
and grassy--seemed to show that the current of the river during floods
here loses its force, and that the water is consequently slower in
subsiding than higher up the stream.
The course of the river was very tortuous, but still I in vain traced the
channel for water, even in the sharpest of its turnings, until long after
it was quite dark. We encamped at length near a small muddy hole
discovered with the assistance of our female guide, after having
travelled nineteen miles. I found the latitude of this camp to be 33
degrees 52 minutes 59 seconds, which was so near that of Mr. Oxley's
lowest point according to his book that I concluded we must be close to
it. Fortunately we found some natives at this waterhole who told us that
a long while ago white men had been encamped on the opposite side of the
Kalare, and that the place where they had marked a tree was not very far
distant, but that it had recently been burnt down. We saw today for the
first time on the Kalare the red-top cockatoo (Plyctolophus leadbeateri).
NATIVES' ACCOUNT OF THE RIVERS LOWER DOWN.
This morning it rained and, considering the long journey of yesterday, I
gave the cattle rest. Here the natives again told us of Oolawambiloa,
near a great river coming from the north, and only five days' journey
from where we should make the Murrumbidgee. They also told us that the
latter river was joined by another coming from the south before it
We had now therefore the direct testimony of the natives that the Darling
(for it could be no other) joined the Murray and that the river Lachlan
did not lose its channel here as supposed by Mr. Oxley, but that in five
days' journey further we might expect to trace it into the Murrumbidgee.
MR. OXLEY'S LOWEST CAMP ON THE LACHLAN.
The ground being very heavy the cattle in the carts proceeded but slowly
along the plains to the northward of the Lachlan; and while the party
followed Mr. Stapylton I went along the bank with the natives to visit
Mr. Oxley's last camp, which was not above a mile from that we had left.
On my way I crossed a bed of fine gravel, a circumstance the more
remarkable, not only because gravel was so uncommon on these muddy
plains, but because Mr. Oxley had also remarked that no stone of any kind
could be seen within five miles of the place. This gravel consisted of
sand and pebbles of quartz about the size of a pea. Our female guide, who
appeared to be about thirty years of age, remembered the visit of the
white men; and she this day showed me the spot where Mr. Oxley's tent
stood, and the root with some remains of the branches of a tree near it
which had been burnt down very recently, and on which she said some marks
SLOW GROWTH OF TREES.
Several trees around had been sawn and on two, about thirty yards west
from the burnt stump, were the letters WW and IW 1817. The tree bearing
the last letters was a goborro or dwarf box, and had been killed two
years before by the natives stripping off a sheet of bark; but from the
growth of the solid wood around the carved part it appeared that this
tree had increased in diameter about an inch and a half in seventeen
years; the whole diameter, including the bark, being sixteen inches. We
immediately dug around the burnt stump in search of the bottle deposited
there by Mr. Oxley, but without success. The gins said that he rode
forward some way beyond, and marked another tree at the furthest place he
reached. I accordingly went there with them, and they showed me a tree
marked on each side but, the cuttings being in the bark only, they were
almost grown out. It stood beside a small branch or outlet of the river,
which led into a hollow of polygonum. The natives also said that one of
Mr. Oxley's men was nearly drowned in trying to cross this but that they
got him out. They positively assured me that this was the farthest point
Mr. Oxley reached; and it seemed the more probable as during a flood the
deep and narrow gully extending between the river and the field of
polygonum must have then been under water, and a most discouraging
impediment to the traveller. I place this spot in latitude 33 degrees 45
minutes 10 seconds South; longitude 144 degrees 56 minutes East. The
natives further informed me that three white men on horseback who had
canoes (boats) on the Murrumbidgee had visited this part of the Lachlan
since, and that after crossing it and going a little way beyond, they had
A TRIBE OF NATIVES COME TO US.
In the evening, while a heavy shower fell, the natives who had come with
me gave the alarm that a powerful tribe was advancing with scouts ahead,
as when they mean mischief. We were immediately under arms and soon saw a
small tribe consisting chiefly of old men, women, and children,
approaching our party. They sat down very quietly near us, lighting their
fire and making huts without saying a word; and on Piper going to them we
soon came to a good understanding.
MR. OXLEY'S BOTTLE.
From them we learnt that, after the tree at Oxley's camp had been burnt
down, a bottle had been found by a child who broke it, and that it
contained a letter. This information saved us all further search,
although it had been my intention to halt next day and send back six men
to dig for the bottle; I had purposed also to have promised a full one in
exchange for it, if they had found it.
The chief of the new tribe had ordered a man to accompany us as guide,
but after going a mile or two he fell back and left us; and we were thus
compelled again to depend on the information of the gin for the situation
of water. I regretted exceedingly the defection of this envoy, by whose
means I hoped to have been passed from tribe to tribe.
The grass had improved very much on the banks of the Lachlan. A vast
plain of very firm surface extended southward, but not a tree was visible
upon it, while on our side the country was wooded in long stripes of
About seven miles from the camp the river, the general course of which
had been for several days about south-west, turned southward; and we came
in sight of Waljeers. The natives had for some days told us of Waljeers,
which proved to be the bed of a lake nearly circular and about four miles
in circumference. It was perfectly dry, but in wet seasons it must be a
fine sheet of water. As we approached its banks I observed that the
surface, which was somewhat elevated above the country nearer the river,
consisted of firm red soil with large bushes of atriplex,
mesembryanthemum, and other shrubs peculiar to that kind of surface,
which is so common on the left bank of the Bogan.
The whole expanse of the lake was at this time covered with the richest
verdure and the perfumed gale which:
fanned the cheek and raised the hair,
Like a meadow breeze in spring,
heightened the charm of a scene so novel to us. I soon discovered that
this fragrance proceeded from the plant resembling clover which we found
so excellent as a vegetable during the former journey.* A young crop of
it grew in scanty patches near the shores of the lake, and I recognised
it with delight, as it seems the most interesting of Australian plants.
The natives here called it Calomba and told us that they eat it. Barney
said it grew abundantly at Murroagin after rain. It seems to spring up
only on the richest of alluvial deposits, in the beds of lagoons during
the limited interval between the recession of the water and the
desiccation of the soil under a warm sun.** Exactly resembling new mown
hay in the perfume which it gives out even when in the freshest state of
verdure, it was indeed sweet to sense and lovely to the eye in the heart
of a desert country. When at sea off Cape Leeuwin in September 1827,
after a three months' voyage and before we made the land, I was sensible
of a perfume from the shore which this plant recalled to my recollection.
(*Footnote. Trigonella suavissima, Volume 1.)
(**Footnote. On leaving Sydney for this expedition I placed in charge of
Mr. McLeay, colonial secretary, the first specimen of this plant produced
by cultivation. It grew luxuriantly in a flower-pot from seeds brought
from the Darling where it was discovered. Volume 1.)
In the bed of Waljeers we again found the Agristis virginica of
Linnaeus,* and an Echinochloa allied to E. crusgalli, two kinds of very
rich grass; but most of the verdure in the middle of the bed consisted of
a dwarf species of Psoralea which grew but thinly.** Hibiscus was also
springing very generally. The bed of this lake had been full of the
freshwater mussel; and under a canoe (which I took away in the carts)
were several large crayfish dead in their holes. Dry and parched as the
bed of the lake then was, the natives found nevertheless live freshwater
mussels by digging to a substratum of sand. I understood that they also
find this shell alive in the same manner, in the dry bed of the Lachlan.
(*Footnote. See Volume 1.)
(**Footnote. The third species of Psoralea before referred to (March
19th). P. cinerea, Lindley manuscripts; herbacea, incana, foliis pinnatim
trifoliolatis, foliolis dentatis punctatis ovatis acutis intermedio basi
cuneato, racemo pedunculato denso multifloro foliis triplo longiore,
bracteis minimis ovatis acuminatis, calycibus pellucide pauci-punctatis,
caule ramisque strictis.)
This lake was surrounded by yarra trees similar to those on the banks of
the river; and within them was a narrow belt of slender reeds but no
bulrushes. On the western shore lay a small beach of sand. The banks were
in height about eight feet above the ordinary water-line of the lake; and
the greatest depth in the centre was about sixteen feet below that line.
The yarra trees distinguishing the margin continued to form a dense belt
extending westward from the northern shore; and the natives informed me
that these trees surrounded a much smaller lake named Boyonga which lay,
as they pointed, immediately to the northward of it.
On ascending the bank overlooking the western shore of Waljeers we found
that it also consisted of firm red soil with high bushes of atriplex,
etc., as on the opposite side. We next traversed a plain of the same
elevation but of firmer texture than any we had seen nearer the Lachlan.
The grass upon it was also good and abundant; and we found ourselves upon
the whole in a better sort of country than we had seen for weeks; but
still water was, if possible, scarcer than ever. After travelling about
seven miles beyond Waljeers we regained the banks of the Lachlan; but I
pursued its channel about two miles without finding a drop, and we
encamped finally without having any for the animals after travelling
upwards of sixteen miles.
BARNEY IN DISGRACE.
The grass was green and abundant and dew had fallen upon it during the
night; our cattle therefore had not fared as badly as on other nights of
privation; and were able to proceed. After we had left our former
encampment and the envoy had deserted us it occurred to me that our
friend Barney, who had accompanied us a long way, appeared rather too
anxious to have a gin. He had been busy, as I subsequently learnt, in
raising a hue and cry on the approach of the tribe we last met, in hopes
that we might quarrel with them, and that he might get one, in
consequence, on easy terms. I recollected that he reminded me of his
wants in this respect at the very moment these people were approaching. I
foresaw the mischief likely to arise from this readiness of Barney to
insult native tribes while under the wing of our party; and the
unfavourable impression he was likely to make on them respecting us if he
were allowed to covet their gins. I therefore blamed him for causing the
return of the guide who had been sent with us by that tribe, placed him
in irons for the night and, much as I liked the poor fellow as an
intelligent native, I thought it necessary to send him back this morning
in company with a mute young savage, also from Cudjallagong, who seemed
much inclined to become a follower of the camp. Our stock of provisions
could not be too carefully preserved and such followers, when beyond
their beat, might have had claims on it not to be resisted. There then
remained with us, besides Piper and his gin, two intelligent native boys,
each being named Tommy, together with The Widow and her child. The two
Tommies obtained new chronometrical surnames, being known in the party as
Tommy Came-first and Tommy Came-last. The former had been told plainly to
go back, upon which he was heard to say he should follow the party,
notwithstanding Majy's orders, as he could always find opossums in the
trees. I was pleased with his independence on being told this, and
allowed him to accompany the party as well as his friend Tommy Came-last,
whom he had picked up somehow in the woods.
A FAMILY OF NATIVES FROM THE MURRUMBIDGEE.
Our female guide maintained that there was a waterhole some miles onward
at Pomabil; and we accordingly proceeded in that direction, regaining
first the firm plains outside the trees growing on the river margin. We
reached the part to which she had pointed and she went forward to look
for the water but, on her calling out soon after that natives were there,
we advanced into the wood, when we observed smoke arising and natives
running away, pursued by The Widow. At length, perceiving that she stood
talking to them, we went up. The strangers consisted of a family just
come from the Murrumbidgee, and presented such a picture of the wild and
wonderful that I felt a strong desire to make a sketch of the whole
group. One man who was rather old being in mourning, as I was told, for
the death of a brother, had his face, head and breast so bedaubed with
white that he resembled a living skeleton; the others had large sticks,
snakes and other reptiles in their hands, but they were perfectly naked
and, crowding around him, presented a strange assemblage.
INCONVENIENT FORMALITY OF NATIVES MEETING.
I was anxious to learn from the principal personage the situation of the
water; but on this first meeting it was necessary, as usual on all such
occasions, to continue for some time patient and silent. This formality
was maintained very remarkably by the old man and Piper. In vain did I
desire the latter to ask him a question; each stood silent for a full
quarter of an hour about eight yards apart, neither looking at the other.
The female however became the intermediate channel of communication, for
both spoke alternately in a low tone to her. At length Piper addressed
the old man, raising his voice a little but with his head averted; and
the other answered him in the same way; until at length by slow degrees
they got into conversation. We were then informed that water was to be
found a mile or two on, and the old man agreed to guide overseer Burnett
and Piper to the place. I conducted the wheel-carriages along the firm
plain outside and, after proceeding more than 2 1/2 miles, I heard a shot
from Burnett, announcing his arrival at the water. I accordingly
proceeded with the party in that direction, and we encamped near the
river, amid the finest verdure that we had yet seen and after a journey
of nine miles. We were informed that the Lachlan contained water in more
abundance one or two days' journey lower down, and that the Murrumbidgee
was not far to the southward.
This day being Sunday I gave the cattle rest; but Mr. Stapylton went down
the river with two men to make sure of water at our next stage. They
found a pond at the distance of about eleven miles; the way to it being
over a fine hard plain covered with mesembryanthemum and salsolae. The
party saw a large kangaroo, the first observed on the banks of the
Lachlan during this journey. The old man and his family had proceeded
across to Waljeers in order to procure mussels, the object, as I
understood, of his journey from the Murrumbidgee.
We moved to the pond above-mentioned, named Yambarenga, and found near it
a number of large huts similar to those of the Darling. The water was
very green and muddy but the taste was good. The plain we traversed this
day exactly resembled the best of the ground on the Darling; and in some
places I observed the Quandang bushes,* having their branches covered
with a parasitical plant whose bright crimson flowers were very
(*Footnote. Fusanus acuminatus.)
(**Footnote. Loranthus quandang, Lindley manuscripts; incanus, foliis
oppositis lineari-oblongis obsolete triplinerviis obtusis, pedunculis
axillaribus folio multo bevioribus apice divaricato-bifidis 6-floris,
floribus pentameris aequalibus, petalis linearibus, antheris linearibus
basi insertis. Next L. gaudichaudi.)
THE MURRUMBIDGEE SEEN FROM THE LACHLAN.
South of the spot where we now encamped the ground, which consisted of
firm red clay, gradually rose; and from a tree Burnett observed the tall
yarras of the Murrumbidgee at a distance of about eight miles. The
latitude observed was 34 degrees 14 minutes 37 seconds South, longitude
144 degrees 25 minutes East.
A thick fog prevented the men from getting the cattle together as early
as usual. In the meantime I made a drawing of the native female and the
scenery around; and we finally left the encamping ground at a quarter
before eleven. The first part of this day's journey was over a rising
ground, on leaving which the country seemed as if it descended westward
into a lower basin, so that I took the river Lachlan which lay below to
be already the Murrumbidgee.
RICH TINTS ON THE SURFACE.
We next travelled over a fine hard plain covered very generally with
small bushes of a beautiful orange-flowered, spreading under-shrub, with
broad thin-winged fruit;* but the Mesembryanthemum aequilaterale grew
almost everywhere and seemed to take the place of grass. It crept over
the light red earth, ornamenting it with a rich variety of bright green,
light red, purple, and scarlet tints which, when contrasted with the dead
portions that were all of a pale grey colour, produced a fine harmonious
foreground, fit for any landscape. The plains were intersected by a small
wood of goborro (dwarf box) and after crossing this and keeping the lofty
yarra trees in view we found these trees at length growing on ground
which was intersected by hollows full of reeds, other parts of the
surface bearing a green crop of grass.
(*Footnote. Ropera aurantiaca, Lindley manuscripts; foliolis linearibus
obtusis succulentis petiolo aequalibus, petalis obovatis obtusissimis,
fructibus orbiculatis. November 1838: This Ropera has grown in the
gardens of the Horticultural Society at Chiswick and proves a pretty new
IMPROVED APPEARANCE OF THE RIVER.
The banks of the river bore here a very different aspect from any parts
which we had seen above; and I supposed that we were at length
approaching its junction with the Murrumbidgee. The bed was broader but
not so deep, and contained abundance of water at every turning. Ducks,
pigeons, cockatoos and parrots were numerous; and we had certainly
reached a better country than any we had yet traversed.
On a corner of the plain, just as we approached the land of reedy
hollows, I perceived at some distance a large, lonely hut of peculiar
construction, and I accordingly rode to examine it. On approaching it I
observed that it was closed on every side, the materials consisting of
poles and large sheets of bark, and that it stood in the centre of a plot
of bare earth of considerable extent, but enclosed by three small ridges,
the surface within the area having been made very level and smooth. I had
little doubt that this was a tomb but, on looking through a crevice, I
perceived that the floor was covered with a bed of rushes which had been
recently occupied. On removing a piece of bark and lifting the rushes, I
ascertained, on thrusting my sabre into the hollow loose earth under
them, that this bed covered a grave.
Tommy Came-first, who was with me, pronounced this to be the work of a
white man; but by the time I had finished a sketch of it The Widow had
hailed him from the woods and told him that it was a grave, after which I
could not prevail on him to approach the spot. I carefully replaced the
bark, anxious that no disturbance of the repose of the dead should
accompany the prints of the white man's feet. I afterwards learnt from
The Widow that the rushes within that solitary tomb were actually the
nightly bed of some near relative or friend of the deceased (probably a
brother) and that the body was thus watched and attended in the grave
through the process of corruption or, as Piper interpreted her account,
until no flesh remains on the bones; "and then he yan (i.e. goes) away!"
No fire, the constant concomitant of places of shelter, had ever been
made within this abode alike of the living and the dead, although remains
of several recent fires appeared on the heath outside.
DEAD TREES AMONG THE REEDS.
In the afternoon we came upon the river where rich weeds and lofty reeds
enveloped a soft luxuriant soil. The yarra, or bluegum, not only grew on
its banks, but spread over the flats; but I remarked that where the reeds
grew thickest most of the trees were dead; and that almost all bore on
their trunks the marks of inundation. These dead trees among reeds
suggest several questions: Were they killed by the frequent burning of
the reeds in summer? If so, how came they to grow first to such a size
among them? Or did excess of moisture or its long continuance kill them?
Are seasons now different from those which must have admitted of the
growth of these trees for half a century? Or have changes in the levels
of the deposits made by the larger rivers below, produced inundations
above, to a greater extent than they had spread formerly?
I was returning with the overseer from examining the country some miles
in advance of the carts, and with the intention of encamping where I had
left them halted, when I found the men had followed my track into some
bad ground. After extricating them from it I proceeded three miles
further to Bidyengoga, which we did not reach until dark. Water was found
in the bed of the Lachlan on our penetrating through a broad margin of
reeds towards some lofty yarra trees. Latitude 34 degrees 12 minutes 17
seconds South; longitude 144 degrees 18 minutes East.
VISIT SOME RISING GROUND.
Rising ground appeared on the horizon about four miles to the north-west,
and an intervening plain of firm clay covered with atriplex and salsolae
rose towards it from the very margin of the reedy basin of the river.
Although anxious to see the junction of the Lachlan and Murrumbidgee,
curiosity irresistible led me to the rising ground, while Mr. Stapylton
traced the supposed line of the Lachlan and the overseer conducted the
carts and party westward. Unlike the hills I had seen on the limits of
interior plains elsewhere, the ridge I now visited consisted of the same
rich loam as the plains themselves.
It was connected with other low ridges which extended in a north-western
direction into a country finely diversified with hill, dale, and patches
of wood, but in all probability at that time entirely without water. The
dry bed of a lake lay in a valley immediately north of the hills on which
I stood. A few trees of stunted appearance alone grew in the hollow. On
the top of this ridge I ate a russet apple which had grown in my garden
at Sydney, and I planted the seeds in a spot of rich earth likely to be
saturated with water as often as it fell from the heavens.
DIFFICULTIES IN FINDING EITHER OF THE RIVERS OR ANY WATER.
Southward I could see no trace of the Lachlan, and I hastened towards the
highest trees where I thought it turned in that direction. I thus met the
track of the carts at rightangles and galloped after them as they were
driving through scrubs and over heaths away to the westward. When I
overtook them I found that Mr. Stapylton had crossed over to them and
told Burnett to say to me that he had not seen the Lachlan.
SEARCH FOR THE MURRUMBIDGEE.
A row of lofty yarra trees appeared to the southward and, as I expected
to find the Murrumbidgee among them, I directed my course thither,
travelling to the westward of south as well as any appearance of water
would allow. We passed through a scrub which swarmed with kangaroos,
bronze-wing pigeons, and cockatoos; also by a rather singular hollow
resembling the bed of a dry lake, in which we found several grasses
apparently new and very beautiful,* together with a low but
wide-spreading bush which bore a fruit resembling a cherry in size and
taste, but with a more elongated stone.
(*Footnote. A Poa near P. australis, R. Br. and Bromus australis of R.
After descending into what I had thought was the bed of a river we found
unequal ground and saw, at a distance, patches of reeds, also lofty yarra
trees growing all about. On reaching the reeds we found they filled only
very slight hollows in the surface and, after passing through them, we
crossed another firm plain with atriplex and salsolae. No river was to be
seen, but another line of trees bounded this plain, exactly like those on
the banks of streams, and on reaching it I felt confident of finding
water; but on the contrary there was only an open forest of goodly trees
without the least indication of it.
A NIGHT WITHOUT WATER.
The sun had now set and I directed the people to encamp while I rode
forward in search of this river. Passing through a thick scrub I observed
another line of river trees, but I penetrated their shades with no better
success than before.
HEAVY FALL OF RAIN.
A dark and stormy night of wind and rain closed over us and,
notwithstanding the want of water which we were again destined to
experience, we got wet enough before we regained the camp. Mr. Stapylton
had arrived there before me without having seen either the Lachlan or the
Murrumbidgee in the course he had taken, and as the general bearings and
directions I had given him did not admit of his deviating too far from
the route of the carts he had been obliged to return unsuccessful. After
so long a day's journey the cattle were doomed to pass another night
yoked up, although surrounded by luxuriant pasture, for thus only could
we prevent them from straying in search of water. The rain however
moistened the grass on this as on three former occasions when we had
suffered the same privation; and the cattle were ordered to be loosened