Part 7 out of 8
to the westward; and when I at length obtained a glimpse of the country
towards the coast the features of the earth could scarcely be
distinguished from the sky or sea, although one dark point looked more
like a cape than a cloud and seemed to remain steady. With my glass I
perceived that water lay inside of that cape and that low plains extended
northward from the water. I next discovered a hilly point outside of the
cape or towards the sea; and on descending the hill to where the trees
grew less thickly I obtained an uninterrupted view of the whole piece of
water. As the sun went down the distant horizon became clearer towards
the coast and I intersected at length the two capes; also one at the head
of the bay and several detached hills. I perceived distinctly the course
of the Exe and Arundell rivers and a line of mangrove trees along the low
shore. In short I at length recognised Port Phillip and the intervening
country around it at a distance afterwards ascertained to be upwards of
fifty miles from Indented Head, which proved to be the first cape I had
seen; that outside (at A) being Point Nepean on the east side of the
entrance to this bay. At that vast distance I could trace no signs of
life about this harbour. No stockyards, cattle, nor even smoke, although
at the highest northern point of the bay I saw a mass of white objects
which might have been either tents or vessels. I perceived a white speck,
which I took for breakers or white sand, on the projecting point of the
north-eastern shore. (B.) On that day nine years exactly I first beheld
the heads of Port Jackson, a rather singular coincidence. Thus the
mountain on which I stood became an important point in my survey, and I
gave it the name of Mount Macedon, with reference to that of Port
Phillip.* It had been long dark before I reached the base of the mountain
and picked out a dry bit of turf on which to lie down for the night.
(*Footnote. Geboor is the native name of this hill, as since ascertained
by my friend Captain King, and it is a much better one, having fewer
letters and being aboriginal.)
The morning was cloudy with drizzling rain, a circumstance which
prevented me from re-ascending a naked rock on the north-eastern summit
to extend my observations over the country we were about to traverse. I
found decomposed gneiss at the base of this hill.
RETURN TO THE CAMP.
While returning to the camp we saw great numbers of kangaroos but could
not add to our stock of provisions, having neither dogs nor a rifle with
us. I found on my arrival at the camp that the boat-carriage having been
made once more serviceable, the party was quite ready to move forward in
The day being Sunday and the weather unfavourable, as it rained heavily,
the barometer having also fallen more than half an inch, I made it a day
of rest for the benefit of our jaded horses, notwithstanding our own
short rations. I was also very desirous to complete some work on the map.
CONTINUE OUR HOMEWARD JOURNEY.
A clear morning: I buried another letter for Mr. Stapylton, informing him
how he might best avoid the mud; and then we proceeded along the highest
points of the ground, thus keeping clear of that which was boggy, and we
found the surface to improve much in this respect as we receded from the
base of the higher range. We crossed some fine valleys, each watered by a
running stream; and all the hills consisted of granite. The various
rivulets we crossed fell southwards into one we had seen in a valley on
our right which continued from the base of the mountain, and this rivulet
at length entered a still deeper valley in which there was very little
wood, the hills on the opposite side being uncommonly level at the top.
In this valley a fine stream ran northward, being undoubtedly the
Barnard, or first river crossed by us on our way to Mount Macedon. We
succeeded in finding a ford, but although it was deep a greater
difficulty to be overcome was the descent of our carts to it, so abrupt
and steep-sided was the ravine in which the Barnard flowed.
WATERFALL OF COBAW.
When we had effected at length a descent and a passage across, having
also established our camp beyond this stream, I rode up the bank towards
a noise of falling water, and thus came to a very fine cascade of upwards
of sixty feet. The river indeed fell more than double that height, but in
the lower part the water escaped unseen, flowing amongst large blocks of
granite. I had visited several waterfalls in Scotland, but this was
certainly the most picturesque I had witnessed; although the effect was
not so much in the body of water falling, or the loud noise, as in the
bold character of the rocks over and amongst which it fell. Their colour
and shape were harmonized into a more complete scene than nature usually
presents, resembling the finished subject of an artist, foreground and
all. The prevailing hues were light red and purple-grey, the rocks being
finely interlaced with a small-leaved creeper of the brightest green. A
dark-coloured moss, which presents a warm green in the sun, covered the
lower masses and relieved and supported the brighter hues, while a
brilliant iris shone steadily in the spray, and blended into perfect
harmony the lighter hues of the higher rocks and the whiteness of the
torrent rushing over them. The banks of this stream were of so bold a
character that in all probability other picturesque scenery, perhaps
finer than this, may yet be found upon it.
SINGULAR COUNTRY ON THE BARNARD.
The geological character of the adjacent country was sufficiently
striking--the left bank consisted of undulating hills and bold rocks of
granite; the right of trap-rock in the higher part, and presented a
remarkable contrast to the other, from the perfectly level character of
the summits of adjacent hills, as if the whole had been once in a fluid
state. Some of these table hills were separated by dry grassy vales of
excellent soil. Further back the rugged crests of a wooded range of a
different formation rendered the level character of this ancient lava or
vesicular trap more obvious. The hills behind consisted in the higher
parts of a felspathic conglomerate and clay-slate dipping to the
The country looked fine to the south and also northward, or down the
stream. By keeping along a winding valley we ascended without
inconvenience between these curiously scarped trap hills.
We found the trees on the low range much broken like those near Mount
Macedon, and the ground strewed here also with withering boughs, the
result apparently of the same storm, the destructive effects of which we
had noticed on the trees there.
CROSS THE CAMPASPE.
Beyond the clay-stone range we entered on another open and grassy tract
where trap-rock again appeared; and at four miles and a half we descended
into a grassy ravine in which we found another river flowing northward;
this being apparently the second river crossed in my ride to Mount
Macedon and which I now named the Campaspe. It was difficult to find in
this stream any fordable place where the banks could be approached by the
carts, one side or the other always proving too steep; but at length we
succeeded. Strata of clay-slate inclined almost perpendicularly to the
horizon projected at parts of the left bank, and over this clay-slate I
found trap-rock. Beyond the Campaspe we crossed plains and much open
land. At length on descending a little from a sort of table the trap was
no longer to be seen, and we entered a wood where sandstone seemed to
predominate, the strata dipping to the south-west. Fine grassy slopes
extended through this forest, which was also so open that we could see
each way for several miles. A rich variety of yellow flowers adorned the
verdure among which the Caladenia and Diuris aurea, and also a large
white Anguillaria, were very abundant.
AN ENGLISH RAZOR FOUND.
Piper found at an old native encampment a razor, and I had the
satisfaction of reading on the blade the words "Old English" in this wild
region, still so remote from civilised man's dominion! In the afternoon a
remarkable change took place in the weather, for we had rain with an
easterly wind, the thermometer being at 68 degrees. We encamped on a
chain of deep ponds falling to the northward; reeds grew in them and we
endeavoured to catch cod-perch but without success, probably because the
natives of the country were too expert fishers to leave any in such
ASCEND MOUNT CAMPBELL.
At two miles on we reached the summit of the range near Mount Campbell
which had partly bounded my view eastward from Mount Byng. A slight scrub
grew on this range but not so thickly as to be impervious to carts; and
after crossing it, as well as a succession of lower ridges, a good valley
at length appeared on the left, while another which was very wide and
green lay before us. At the further side of this and under another range
ran a deep mountain stream which was joined a little lower down by one
from the valley on the left: thus by following this stream I might have
turned the range, but it was not too steep to be crossed, and I required
some angles with the surrounding hills and the country before us. We
ascended it therefore and comparatively with ease; and from amongst the
trees on a hill I saw and intersected more points than I expected to see;
even Mount Macedon was visible and, to the eastward, summits which I was
almost certain lay beyond the river Goulburn. The descent from this ridge
to the eastward was rather steep; but we immediately after entered an
open forest in a valley which led very nearly in the direction of my
The adjacent forest consisted of large trees of ironbark, the first of
that species of eucalyptus that we had seen for a considerable time. This
tree was then in flower, and we found in a large canoe at an old native
encampment a considerable quantity of the blossoms, which had not been
long cut. Piper explained the purpose for which these flowers had been
gathered by informing me that, by steeping them a night in water, the
natives make a sweet beverage named bool.
VALLEY OF THE DEEGAY.
The whole of this day's journey (fourteen miles) was along the same
valley that we had entered yesterday. The deep bed of a stream, then
containing a chain of ponds only, pursued a meandering course through it.
We saw in this valley a pair of cockatoos with the scarlet and yellow
top-knot. (Plate 23.) We had not been long encamped when intelligence was
brought me by Piper that a party of natives were following our track, and
soon after, Burnett and he having gone out to encourage them to come up,
seven, including an old man and two boys, approached and I hastened out
to meet them that they might not sit down too close to our camp. They
told us the creek watering this long valley was named Deegay.
NATIVES EXCHANGE BASKETS FOR AXES.
Three of them carried very neatly-wrought baskets, and I gave two
tomahawks in exchange for two of the baskets, and then making signs that
it was time to sleep I returned to my tent, hoping that they would go to
THEY LINGER ABOUT OUR CAMP.
On looking out however some time after, I found that two had walked
boldly up to our fires, while the others continued to cower over a few
embers at the spot where I left them; the evening being very cold and
stormy. Piper, who at first seemed much disposed to make friends of these
people, had found that his endeavours to conciliate strange natives were
as usual in vain, and was now going about sword in hand, while three of
the strangers seemed desirous to assuage his anger by telling him a long
yarn. The other, who was the old man, was casting a covetous eye on all
things around the camp. When I went out they retired to the group, but
long after it had become quite dark there they still sat, having scarcely
any fire and evidently bent on mischief.
EFFECT OF FIREWORKS, ETC.
I really was not sorry then to find that they still continued, for I had
made arrangements for having a little amusement in that case, although
their object in lingering there was nothing less than to kill us when
asleep. Accordingly at a given signal Burnett suddenly sallied forth
wearing a gilt mask and holding in his hand a blue light with which he
fired a rocket.* Two men concealed behind the boat-carriage bellowed
hideously through speaking trumpets, while all the others shouted and
discharged their carabines in the air. Burnett marched solemnly towards
the astonished natives who were seen through the gloom but for an instant
as they made their escape and disappeared forever; leaving behind them
however rough-shaped heavy clubs which they had made there in the dark
with the new tomahawks we had given them, and which clubs were doubtless
made for the sole purpose of beating out our brains as soon as we fell
asleep. Thus their savage thirst for our blood only afforded us some
hearty laughing. Such an instance of ingratitude was to me however a
subject of painful reflection. The clubs made in the dark, during a very
cold night, with the tomahawks I had given them, enabled me to understand
better what the intentions of the natives had been in other similar
cases; and I was at length convinced that no kindness had the slightest
effect in altering the disposition and savage desire of these wild men to
kill white strangers on their first coming among them. That Australia can
never be explored with safety except by very powerful parties will
probably be proved by the treacherous murder of many brave white men.**
(*Footnote. The use of these masks, which I on several occasions
displayed with success, was first suggested to me by Sir John Jamison.)
(**Footnote. A distressing instance of this hostility towards the whites
on the part of the aborigines has since occurred not far from the very
spot where I wrote the above portion of my journal. Our line of route
soon became the high road from Sydney to Port Phillip, and it appears by
the Sydney newspapers (see Appendix 2.3) that the natives attacked a
party of fifteen men proceeding with cattle into these recently explored
regions. Although the whites had firearms the blacks killed seven of
them, leaving another so severely wounded that his recovery was deemed
hopeless. The winding swamp where this sudden attack by aboriginal
natives took place is marked Swampy River on the map, and from the
assembling of such a number at that point, exactly midway between the
Murrumbidgee and Port Phillip, therefore the most remote from settled
parts, and especially from the SUDDENNESS of that attack, the reader may
imagine the perilous situation of my party on the Darling and the lower
part of the Murray where, had any such attack but commenced successfully,
it is extremely improbable that any white man would have returned to the
The windings of the creek were this day more in our way as we proceeded
along the valley and, when in doubt whether it would be best for our
purpose to cross this channel or one joining it there from the south, I
perceived a small hill at no great distance beyond, upon which I halted
the party and ascended, when I saw that several ranges previously
observed were at no great distance before us. In these ranges a gap to
the south-east seemed to be the bed of the river which I knew we were
approaching, and which I therefore concluded we should find in the low
intervening country. Westward of the gap or ravine stood a large mass
which I thought might be the Mount Disappointment of Mr. Hume.
ARRIVAL AT, AND PASSAGE OF, THE GOULBURN.
On returning to the party we crossed the channel of the Deegay; but at
less than a mile further we were obliged to pass again to the right bank
at a point where its course tended northward. Soon after recrossing it we
met with a broad dry channel or lagoon, with lofty gum trees of the yarra
species on its borders, a proof that the river was at hand; and on
advancing three-quarters of a mile further we made the bank of the
Goulburn or Hovell, a fine river somewhat larger than the Murrumbidgee.*
Its banks and bed were firm; the breadth 60 yards; the mean depth as
ascertained by soundings being somewhat more there than two fathoms. The
velocity was at the rate of 100 yards in three minutes, or one mile and
240 yards per hour; the temperature of the water 54 degrees Fahrenheit.
After having ascertained that this river was nowhere fordable at that
time I sought an eligible place for swimming the cattle and horses across
and immediately launched the boat. All the animals reached the opposite
bank in safety; and by the evening every part of our equipment except the
boat-carriage was also across.
(*Footnote. This river has been unfortunate in obtaining a variety of
names and therefore less objection can be made to my preference of the
aboriginal which I ascertained through Piper to be Bayunga. We already
have a river Goulburn in New South Wales.)
In this river we caught one or two very fine cod-perch, our old friends
Continue through a level forest country.
Ascend a height near the camp, and obtain a sight of snowy summits to the
Reach a swampy river.
A man drowned.
Pass through Futter's range.
Impeded by a swamp among reeds.
Junction of the rivers Ovens and King.
Ascend granitic ranges.
Lofty mass named Mount Aberdeen.
Reach the Murray.
The river very difficult of access.
A carriage track discovered.
Passage of the river.
Party returning to meet Mr. Stapylton.
A creek terminating in a swamp.
Rugged country still before us.
Provisions nearly exhausted.
Cattle tracks found.
At length reach a valley leading in the desired direction.
Obliged to kill one of our working bullocks.
By following the valley downwards, we arrive on the Murrumbidgee.
Write my despatch.
Piper meets his friends.
Native names of rivers.
CONTINUE THROUGH A LEVEL FOREST COUNTRY.
Having buried on the left bank another letter of instructions for Mr.
Stapylton according to certain marks as previously arranged with him, we
mounted our boat on the carriage (which had been brought across early in
the morning) and continued our journey. I expected to find a ford in this
river but, considering the swollen state in which it then was, I
instructed Mr. Stapylton to remain encamped on the left bank until the
boat should return from the Murray, as beyond that river we were not
likely to have further occasion for it. Our way on leaving the Bayunga
was rather intricate, being amongst lagoons left by high floods of the
river. Some of them were fine sheets of water, apparently much frequented
by ducks and other aquatic birds.
LEVEL FOREST COUNTRY.
At exactly 2 1/2 miles from the river we reached the outer bank or berg,
and resumed at length the straight course homewards, for I there found a
level forest country open before me, through which we travelled about
eight miles in a south-east direction. We then encamped near some
waterholes which I found on our right, in the surface of a clay soil and
close to a plain extending southward. The wood throughout the forest
consisted of the box or goborro species of eucalyptus and we crossed,
soon after first entering it, a small plain. At 3 1/2 miles from the last
camp on this line, the low alluvial bed of the river with a deep lagoon
in it as broad as the river itself appeared close to us on the left; and
as I had seen some indications of the Bayunga on the other side also, or
to our right, it was obvious that we had just met with this river at one
of its most western bends, an object I had in view in following down the
Deegay from the westward. The forest country traversed by the party this
day was in general grassy and good and, as it was open enough to afford a
prospect of about a mile around us, we travelled on in a straight line
with unwonted ease and facility.
We continued our journey homeward through a country of the same character
as that seen yesterday, at least for the first five miles, when we came
at length to a chain of deep ponds, the second we had encountered that
morning. In the bank of this I found a stratum of alluvium; but beyond it
the soil was granitic, and banksia was seen there for the first time
after crossing the river. At 7 1/4 miles we met with another chain of
large ponds, and at 9 miles a running stream flowing to the north-west.
After passing over various other chains of ponds we encamped at the end
of 14 1/2 miles near the bank of a running stream in which were also some
deep pools and which, from some flowers growing there, were named by the
men Violet Ponds.
Having turned my course a little more towards the east in order to keep
the hills in view, chiefly for the more convenient continuance of the
survey, we passed through a country abundantly watered at that time, the
party having crossed eight running streams besides chains of ponds in
travelling only 14 miles. Towards the end of the day's journey we found
ourselves once more on undulating ground, and I at length perceived on my
right that particular height which, at a distance of 80 miles back, I had
selected as a guiding point in the direction which then appeared the most
open part of the horizon, this being also in the best line for reaching
the Murrumbidgee below Yass. It was the elevated northern extremity of a
range connected with others still more lofty which arose to the
south-east. We crossed some undulating ground near its base on which grew
trees of stringybark, a species of eucalyptus which had not been
previously seen in the forests traversed by us in our way from the river.
We next entered a valley of a finer description of land than that of the
level forest; and we encamped on the bank of a stream which formed deep
reedy ponds, having travelled 14 miles.
As soon as I had marked out the ground for the party I proceeded towards
a hill which bore east-south-east from our camp and was distant from it
about 5 1/2 miles. On our way an emu ran boldly up, apparently desirous
of becoming acquainted with our horses; when close to us it stood still
and began quietly to feed like a domestic fowl so that I was at first
unwilling to take a shot at the social and friendly bird. The state of
our flour however, and the recollection of our one remaining sheep
already doomed to die, at length overcame my scruples, and I fired my
carabine but missed. The bird ran only to a little distance however, and
soon returned at a rapid rate again to feed beside us when, fortunately
perhaps for the emu, I had no more time to spare for such sport and we
ASCEND A HEIGHT NEAR THE CAMP, AND OBTAIN A SIGHT OF SNOWY SUMMITS TO THE
The top of the hill was covered thickly with wood, but I saw for the
first time for some years snowy pics far in the south-east beyond
intermediate mountains also of considerable elevation. There was one low
group of heights to the northward, but these were apparently the last,
for the dead level of the interior was visible beyond them to the
north-west. Further eastward a bold range extended too far towards the
north to be turned conveniently by us in our proposed route; but under
its high southern extremity (a very remarkable point) its connection with
the mountains on the south appeared very low, and thither I determined to
proceed. One isolated hill far in the north-western interior had already
proved a useful point and was still visible here. I also saw the distant
ranges to the eastward beyond the proposed pass just mentioned, and some
of these I had no doubt lay beyond the Murray. The hill and range I had
ascended consisted of granite, and the country between it and our camp of
grassy open forest land.
We passed over a country of similar description and well watered
throughout the greater portion of this day's journey. In some parts the
surface consisted of stiff clay retaining the surface water in holes, and
at ten miles we crossed an undulating ridge of quartz rock; two miles
beyond which we encamped near a stream running northward.
REACH A SWAMPY RIVER.
At 3 1/4 miles we came to a river of very irregular width and which, as I
found on further examination, spread into broad lagoons and swamps
bordered with reeds. Where we first approached it the bank was high and
firm, the water forming a broad reach evidently very deep. But both above
and below that point the stream, actually flowing, seemed fordable and we
tried it in various places, but the bottom was everywhere soft and
A MAN DROWNED.
The man whom I usually employed on these occasions was James Taylor who
had charge of the horses and who, on this unfortunate morning, was fated
to lose his life in that swampy river. Taylor, or Tally-ho, as the other
men called him, had been brought up in a hunting stable in England, and
was always desirous of going further than I was willing to allow him,
relying too much, as it now appeared, on his skill in swimming his horse,
which I had often before prevented him from doing. I had on this occasion
recalled him from different parts of the river, and determined to use the
boat and swim the cattle and horses to the other side, when Tally-ho
proposed to swim over on a horse in order to ascertain where the opposite
bank was most favourable for the cattle to get out. I agreed to his
crossing thus wherever he thought he could; and he rode towards a place
which I conceived was by no means the best, and accordingly said so to
him. I did not hear his reply, for he was just then riding into the
water, and I could no longer see him from where I stood on the edge of a
swampy hole. But scarcely a minute had elapsed when Burnett, going on
foot to the spot, called out for all the men who could dive, at the same
time exclaiming "the man's gone!" The horse came out with the bridle on
his neck just as I reached the water's edge, but of poor Tally-ho I saw
only the cap floating on the river. Four persons were immediately in the
water--Piper, his gin, and two whites--and at six or eight minutes at
most Piper brought the body up from the bottom. It was quite warm and
immediately almost all the means recommended in such cases were applied
by our medical attendant (Drysdale) who, having come from
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, had seen many cases of that description. For three
hours the animal heat was preserved by chafing the body, and during the
whole of that time the lungs were alternately inflated and compressed,
but all without success. With a sincerity of grief which must always
pervade the breasts of men losing one of their number under such
circumstances, we consigned the body of poor Taylor to a deep grave, the
doctor having previously laid it out between two large sheets of bark. I
was myself confounded with the most heart-felt sorrow when I turned from
the grave of poor Tally-ho, never to hear his bugle blast again.* It was
late before we commenced the passage of this fatal river which, although
apparently narrow, we could only cross in the same manner in which we had
passed the largest, namely, by swimming the cattle and horses, and
carrying every article of equipment across in the boat. We effected even
thus however the passage of the whole party before sunset; and then
encamped on the opposite bank.
(*Footnote. How this man could have died in the water in so short a time
we did not understand, but it was conjectured that he had received some
blow from the horse, until we were subsequently informed when on the
Murrumbidgee by a person there who knew Taylor that he was subject to
fits, a fact which satisfied us all as to the sudden manner of his
As we proceeded the broad swampy bed of this river or morass appeared on
our right for a mile, the country being still covered by an open forest
of box, having also grass enough upon it. At eight miles we approached
some low hills of clay-slate, and I ascended one to the southward of our
route from which I recognised a sufficient number of previously observed
points to enable me to determine its relative position and theirs. On
this hill I found the beautiful Brownonia which we had seen before only
on Macquarie range beside the Lachlan. We here also met with the rare
Spadostylis cunninghamii, whose heart-shaped glaucous leaves so much
reminded us of the European euphorbias that it would have been mistaken
for one of them if it had not been for its shrubby habit and bright
yellow pea flowers.
PASS THROUGH FUTTER'S RANGE.
The country crossed beyond this hill was first undulating then hilly, and
at length became so much so that it was necessary to pick a way for the
carts with much caution. Nevertheless we at length succeeded in crossing
this range also at its lowest part where the hill to the northward of it,
already mentioned as the end of a range, bore nearly north. On reaching
the head of this pass the prospect before us, after winding through such
a labyrinth of hills, was agreeable enough. One fertile hollow led to an
open level country which appeared to be bounded at a great distance by
mountains; and I concluded that I should find in this extensive valley
the rivers King and Ovens. Keeping along the verdant flat (which was
watered by a good chain of ponds) we encamped about a mile and a half
beyond the pass, and I then named that feature above it Futter's range
after a successful and public-spirited colonist of New South Wales.
IMPEDED BY A SWAMP AMONG REEDS.
We had not proceeded more than half a mile in the general direction I
proposed for our route when a reedy swamp compelled me to turn northward
and, after travelling in that direction about a mile and a half, we found
the swamp on our right had produced a small stream running nearly on a
level with the plain. Its banks were soft and boggy, and beyond it we saw
through the trees extensive tracts covered with reeds. I was soon
compelled by the rivulet to deviate from my intended route even to the
westward of north until, at 10 1/2 miles, on meeting with a chain of
ponds falling to the eastward, I turned north-east, which bearing, at
less than a mile forward, again brought us upon the stream running from
the swamp but which was here flowing between firm banks and forming ponds
of some magnitude. We forded it with difficulty by crossing at two
points, that we might not break too much the soft earth over which it
flowed by the passage of all in one place.
JUNCTION OF THE RIVERS OVENS AND KING.
At two miles further on we met with another stream of less magnitude
flowing also to the north-west and at about a mile beyond it we reached
the bank of the Ovens, fortunately just below the junction of a rather
smaller stream which I took to be King's river.
The two united formed a noble stream finely breaking up the dead levels
of the surrounding plains which indeed, where we approached it, formed
its highest bank and were there twenty-three feet above the water.
No time was lost in launching our boat, and we effected a passage and
encamped on the opposite bank before sunset, having driven all the cattle
and horses safely across also, although with considerable difficulty from
the steepness of the banks and softness of the soil at the water's edge
on the side where they got to land.
This morning the river had fallen three inches; its temperature was 59
degrees (of Fahrenheit) the current flowing at the rate of 1 1/4 miles
per hour; the mean depth two fathoms; and the width, where measured, 47
yards; the breadth of the river King at the junction being nearly as
much. The right bank to the distance of a mile and a half from the river
was low and alluvial, and intersected by narrow watercourses and lagoons.
On the alluvial flat where we crossed it stood a small isolated hill,
between which and the higher ground still farther back water was running,
apparently from a swamp, but as soon as we crossed this we reached firm
ground and travelled on an open forest plain for nearly eight miles.
ASCEND GRANITIC RANGES.
We then came upon a hill of granite, and from its summit I perceived that
we were already on the northern extremities of the high ranges we had
seen from the westward. After travelling some miles along the summits of
ridges in order to reach their connection with another range more to the
northward, I ascertained, on crossing the highest part of a second ridge,
that its northern slopes were very steep and rocky. A hill of
considerable height lay before us and therefore, as soon as I had
selected a spot for our camp in a little intervening valley, I hastened
to it, certainly in doubt how we should extricate the carts from the
rocky fastnesses before us. That summit afforded a commanding view of the
country beyond the granitic range, and I perceived that it was low to a
considerable distance northward, while the ranges beyond that extensive
basin seemed of no great elevation to the westward or north-west, and all
terminated on the level interior country where the horizon was broken by
only one remarkable hill which, as I afterwards learnt, was named Dingee.
In that direction I saw also open plains along which I thought I could
trace the line of the Ovens. In the lower country before me I hoped to
find the Murray, according to the map of Messrs. Hovell and Hume, which
in the two rivers we had recently passed seemed wonderfully correct.
LOFTY MASS NAMED MOUNT ABERDEEN.
I again recognised in the south and south-east some of the snowy peaks
formerly noticed, and I named the most lofty mass Mount Aberdeen. Beyond
what I considered to be the course or bed of the Murray there appeared
some steep ranges, to avoid which I chose a course more to the northward
than I should otherwise have pursued in my way towards Yass. Before I
returned to the camp I sought and succeeded in finding and marking out, a
line of route by which the carts could be conducted across these rocky
ranges and down to the lower country beyond them. On that range we found
a handsome blue flower which I had previously seen growing abundantly on
Bowral range near Mittagong within the present colony. We found in these
valleys abundance of good grass.
We descended from the higher range without difficulty, and then crossed
several low ridges of quartz and clay-slate extending westward; some
flats of good land lay between these ridges and, at about 6 miles, we met
with a creek or chain of ponds. At 13 1/2 miles we entered a rich plain
terminating northward at a low but remarkable hill which I had observed
from the mountains.
REACH THE MURRAY.
The grass grew luxuriantly on this plain and after crossing and passing
through the forest beyond it I recognised with satisfaction the lofty
yarra trees and the low verdant alluvial flats of the Murray. No one
could have mistaken this grand feature; for the vast extent of verdant
margin with lofty trees and still lakes could belong to no other
Australian river we knew of. On descending the berg or outer bank which
was sloping and grassy, I found the still lagoons so numerous that I
could not, without very great difficulty and after a ride of nearly an
hour, obtain a sight of the flowing river. I found it at length running
bank-high and still of greater width than any other known Australian
THE RIVER VERY DIFFICULT OF ACCESS.
The water was then just beginning to pour over its borders into the
alluvial margins by which I had approached it; and on the opposite side
the border consisted of a reedy swamp, evidently impassable and unfit for
a landing-place. In no direction could I find access for our carts to the
running stream. Deep and long winding reaches of still water shut me out,
either from the high berg or bank at one part, or from the flowing stream
at another. Returning from the river in a different direction I found, in
a situation where I had nearly gained as I imagined the high bank after
riding a mile, that a deep reach still separated me from that high bank
which I then saw was beyond it, so that in order to return to the carts I
was obliged to retrace my steps for several miles. Having got round at
length I ascended the hill before mentioned for the purpose of taking
some angles, and I found that it consisted of granite, the component
parts being white quartz and felspar and black mica. I named this
remarkable feature, probably the lowest hill of granite on the Murray,
Mount Ochtertyre. I had sufficient daylight left to conduct the party
over part of this hill to a portion of the riverbank accessible then to
carts by fording only one lagoon. The velocity of the Murray at the spot
where we could thus approach its border exceeded that of any other river
we had previously crossed, being at the rate of 2 1/2 miles per hour.
At daylight this morning the boat was sent across with Burnett and Piper,
who landed to examine the ground within the reeds on that bank; and they
ascertained it was so intersected by various deep lagoons that we could
no longer hope to pass that way. I next went down the river in the boat
and found at about a mile and a half below our camp a place where I
thought we might effect a passage. This point was under a steep bank of
red earth on the opposite shore where the river seemed to be encroaching.
A CARRIAGE TRACK DISCOVERED.
We landed and endeavoured to ascertain by looking for cattle marks
whether any stations were near; and having heard that the flocks of the
settlers already extended to the Murray we proceeded northward, eager to
discover the tracks of civilised men. The wheels of a gig drawn by one
horse and accompanied by others were traced by Piper, but the impressions
were several months old. We walked as far as a spacious plain at some
distance from the river without seeing any more recent tracks; and we
were at length convinced that no station extended then in the immediate
neighbourhood. The left bank between the spot where our camp then was and
the crossing-place which I had selected was low though apparently firm;
but on landing and returning along it I met with several narrow channels
into which water was then flowing from the river and which afterwards
cost us considerable trouble to cross with our carts.
PASSAGE OF THE RIVER.
That part of the bank which I had selected for driving the cattle into
the river, that they might swim over, was soft and boggy, but in the
opposite shore where they were to go out we cut in the firm clay at the
base of the red cliff before mentioned a landing-place and path with
picks and spades, so that the cattle on reaching that side could pass
along the foot of the cliff to a lower part of the bank adjacent. After
all other obstacles had been surmounted and the best portion of the day
had been spent in conducting the party to within a short distance of this
place my horse unexpectedly sunk in what had appeared to be firm ground.
This impediment the party however overcame by cutting down some brush and
small trees, and opening a lane through which we at length contrived to
bring the cattle forward to the bank. It was near sunset before they
could be driven into the water; yet we finally succeeded in forcing the
whole to swim to the other side that evening with the exception of one
bullock which, having got bogged, was smothered in the mud on the first
rush of the others into the water. The landing of some of these animals
on the opposite bank was attended with difficulty for they did not all
make for the proper place, some turning towards the bank they had left
and endeavouring to re-ascend it much lower down where the banks were
either too soft or inaccessible: others swimming straight down the stream
turned to parts of the opposite bank which they could not climb. With
these last I was prepared to contend, having taken my station in the boat
to watch such contingencies; and by dragging the foremost of those who
had swum back across the river by the horns, and those which had arrived
at the wrong place out with ropes; we succeeded at length in forcing all
that had floated too far down to land on the right bank. But the greater
number had got out higher up the river upon some fallen portions of the
red cliff instead of taking the path we had cut under it; and the footing
there was so slight that, as they crowded on each other, groups fell,
from time to time, back into the river. The last part of the operation
was therefore to row towards these, when Woods, who was in the boat, soon
induced one of the bullocks well-known to him to take the path, upon
which all the rest followed until they reached the grassy flat where
others more fortunate than themselves were already feeding. At the close
of this laborious day I encamped on the right bank, leaving still on the
other side however a small party in charge of the horses and carts. The
day was extremely hot and the full and flowing river gave an unusual
appearance of life and motion to the desert whose wearisome stillness was
so unvarying elsewhere. Serpents were numerous and some were seen of a
species apparently peculiar to this river. Here they invariably took to
it, and one beautiful reptile in particular, being of a golden colour
with red streaks, sprang from under my horse's feet and rode upon the
strong current of the boiling stream, keeping abreast of us and holding
his head erect, as if in defiance and without once attempting to make
off, until he died in his glory by a shot from Roach.
The first half of this day was required for the passage of the horses one
by one; and for taking the carts across. We left the boat carriage on the
left bank and sunk the boat in a deep lagoon on the right bank, to remain
there until the party should return to the spot with a stock of
provisions for Mr. Stapylton. Here the last mountain barometer, which had
been carried in excellent order throughout the journey, lost mercury so
copiously that I could not hope to use it any more, time being then too
valuable to admit of delay; and thus my list of observations terminated
on the Murray. I supposed that the intense heat of the sun to which the
instrument had been exposed when tied to a tree for some hours after the
tents had been struck had contracted the leathern bag so much as to
loosen it from the edges of the cylinder, and thus formed openings
through which the mercury had escaped. The breadth of the Murray was 80
yards at the place where we crossed it and the mean depth was 3 1/2
fathoms. At length I saw with great satisfaction my party on the right
bank of this great river; having now no other stream to cross until we
reached the Murrumbidgee where we might consider ourselves at home.
PARTY RETURNING TO MEET MR. STAPYLTON.
Just at this time Archibald McKane, a carpenter, came forward and
proposed to return with any two of the men and the native Tommy to meet
the party coming after us upon the Goulburn; and to construct there such
rafts of casks and other gear as might enable Mr. Stapylton to cross that
river and the Ovens and so come forward to the Murray; an arrangement
which would render it unnecessary for me to send back any cattle or the
boat as intended. I was much pleased with the proposal of McKane and,
Tommy Came-last being also willing to return, I appointed John Douglas, a
sailor and most handy man, and Charles King, a man who feared nothing, to
accompany McKane. Full rations were issued to the four and, having given
them a letter for Mr. Stapylton, the little party returned towards the
houseless wilds, when we left the Murray to continue our journey
homewards. Although we did not set off before one o'clock we this day
travelled fourteen miles, but did not encamp till long after sunset. The
scarcity of water compelled us to travel thus far, for none had been seen
except one small muddy pool until I reached the valley where we encamped,
and even there we found little more than enough for ourselves and cattle.
After travelling five miles over tolerable land we crossed a range of
very fine-grained granite consisting of felspar, quartz, and small
particles of mica and having a very crystalline aspect. This range was a
branch from a higher mass on our right. At seven miles we crossed the
shoulder of a hill whence I intersected others to the right. This also
consisted of fine-grained granite, similar to that of the other hill, but
it was not so red and had fewer spangles of mica.
A CREEK TERMINATING IN A SWAMP.
At eight miles we came to a chain of deep ponds which seemed a tributary
to some greater water, as indicated by the yarra trees and flats before
us, apparently covered with verdure. On advancing into these flats
however we found them soft and swampy, being so very wet and so covered
with dead trees that we were obliged to retrace our steps and turn
eastward, thus crossing to a higher bank altogether east of the chain of
ponds; and along this we proceeded without seeing any further continuance
of the deep serpentine channel, full of water, which appeared to
terminate there. That woody swamp seemed very extensive and was the only
instance met with in the course of our travels of the termination of a
stream in a swamp, although I understood subsequently that this was the
fate of various minor brooks descending towards that part of the interior
plains. We found there a curious black-headed grass which proved to be of
the carex genus. At 11 1/2 miles we arrived at a running stream, its
course being northward; and at 15 1/2 miles we reached a very fine little
rivulet flowing between grassy banks twenty-five feet high, the soil
consisting of a red earth similar to that on the interior plains and the
banks of the Murray.
MOUNT TRAFALGAR. RUGGED COUNTRY STILL BEFORE US.
At five miles we were abreast of a pointed hill which I ascended and
named Mount Trafalgar in honour of that memorable day. From it I obtained
a view of the country before us, and I perceived in the direction of our
intended route some high cone-shaped hills. A ridge extended from them to
the westward, but its height seemed gradually to diminish in that
direction, although it presented two very abrupt and remarkable hills
whose steepest side being towards the north overlooked as I supposed the
spacious basin of the Murrumbidgee. One solitary mount appeared much
farther to the westward and was also steep-sided towards the north. On
descending I shaped my course towards the hollow where the ridge could be
most easily crossed. At 8 3/4 miles we met with some good ponds of water
and beyond them the winding channel of a smaller watercourse falling
southward from the range already mentioned. After crossing and recrossing
this channel and its various branches we at length gained the crest of
the range, and I directed the party to halt while I hastened to a conical
summit on the left, apparently the highest and most pointed of those
previously observed. It consisted of syenite and from it I obtained a
very extensive view to the northward, but yet could not see any
favourable opening in the direction in which I wished to reach the
Murrumbidgee: on the contrary as we reduced our distance from home the
obstacles to our reaching it seemed to increase.
PROVISIONS NEARLY EXHAUSTED.
Our provisions had been counted out to a day, and any delay beyond the
time required to cross that country at our usual rate of travelling might
have been attended with great inconvenience. Mr. Stapylton's party, then
so far behind, were depending upon us for supplies; while a labyrinth of
mountains, entirely without roads or inhabitants, was to be crossed in a
limited time with carts before any such supplies could be obtained and
sent back. Some high and distant mountains appeared to the eastward, and
in the west I intersected the hills I had previously seen which were now
much nearer to us. On returning from the hill to the party we descended
from the range into some flats of good open land where a solitary
kangaroo became an object of intense interest now that our provisions
were exhausted. The week was out for which the last of our stock had been
issued in very small rations; and although most of the men had
endeavoured to make this very reduced week's allowance to last them nine
days no mutton remained, nor could it well have been preserved during
such hot weather. This kangaroo would have been therefore a most welcome
addition to our store; but we had no dogs and I was so anxious as to
venture a shot at too great a distance and to our great disappointment it
escaped. We finally encamped in a valley which fell to the right or
eastward, near some good ponds, and after performing a journey of upwards
of 15 miles. I found near the hill I first ascended in the morning a new
kind of grass with large seeds.*
(*Footnote. Danthonia eriantha, Lindley manuscripts; panicula
subcoarctata lanceolata, spiculis sub-4-floris gluma laevi multo
brevioribus, palea exteriori laevigata basi apiceque villosissima,
aristis lateralibus subulatis debilibus intermedia brevioribus, foliis
setaceis vaginisque patentim pilosis, collo barbato.)
Soon after we set out this morning we approached a range of barren hills
of clay-slate on which grew the grass tree (xanthorrhoea) and stunted
eucalypti. On ascending this range I perceived before me a deep ravine,
and beyond it hills less promising than even these which were
sufficiently repulsive to travellers with wheel-carriages. Turning
therefore from that hopeless prospect towards the eastward, we crossed
the head of a valley falling to the right, and after a somewhat tortuous
course we gained the highest part of a range beyond it, from which a
grassy vale descended on the opposite side towards the north-east. This
vale turned to the left after we had followed it 2 1/4 miles and we next
crossed a ridge of quartz rock.
CATTLE TRACKS FOUND.
Beyond the ridge the natives found some old cattle tracks and this
intelligence very much pleased and encouraged the men.
At two miles farther on we came upon a little rivulet flowing to the
westward through a good grassy valley, and it was joined about the place
where we came upon it by one coming from the south. The stream washed the
base of a lofty mountain which I ascended while the people were passing
our carts, cattle, and equipment across the rivulet which I named after
my trusty follower Burnett.* The mountain consisted of granite and was so
smooth that I could ride to its summit. The weather was boisterous and
the country which that height presented to my view seemed quite
inaccessible, at least in the direction of the colony where:
Hills upon hills and alps on alps arose.
(Footnote. See figure with the fowling-piece in Plate 17 Volume 1.)
IMPEDIMENTS IN THE ROUTE.
The only valley of any extent which could be seen was that watered by the
rivulet below, and this extended, as I have stated, to the westward, a
direction in which we could not follow it with any prospect of either
getting nearer home or reaching a cattle station. Our provisions were
exhausted, while the rocky fastnesses of a mountain region still
threatened to shut us out from the Murrumbidgee, a river on whose banks
we hoped to meet with civilised people once more and which, according to
the map, was almost within our reach. Again and again I examined the
mountains with my glass, and only discovered that they were numerous and
all ranging towards the north-west, a direction right across our way to
the Murrumbidgee. I could indeed trace among the hills in the north the
grand valley through which the river flowed, but the intervening ranges
seemed to deny any access to it from this side. I was determined however
to find some valley likely to lead us into that of the Murrumbidgee, and
although it could only be looked for beyond that mountain range, our
route had been so good and so direct thus far, from the very shores of
the southern ocean, that I could not despair of crossing the
comparatively small space occupied by these mountains; and I descended
the hill firmly resolved to continue our course in the same direction as
we best could. I found on reaching the foot that, to the delight of the
men, more cattle marks had been discovered in the valley, and in one
place Piper pointed out a spot where a bullock had been eaten by the
natives. Following the little stream upwards I at length placed our camp
in a grassy valley near its head and then, on riding forward, I found
that no obstruction existed to our progress with the carts on the
following day for at least several miles.
The hills we ascended offered much less impediment than I had reason to
apprehend when I surveyed them at a distance, but they became at length
so steep-sided and sharp-pointed that to proceed further, even by keeping
the crests of a range, seemed a very doubtful undertaking: to cross such
ranges was still more difficult while the principal chain, which led to
the south-east, appeared equally impracticable even had its direction
been more favourable.
AT LENGTH REACH A VALLEY LEADING IN THE DESIRED DIRECTION.
Drizzling rain came on and prevented me from seeing far beyond the point
we had reached when I at length halted the party and, taking Piper with
me, descended into a valley before us in order to ascertain its general
direction and whether the carts might not pass along it. We found in this
valley the tracks not of cattle only but of well shod horses: we also
discovered that it opened into extensive green flats and, its direction
being northerly, I hastened back and conducted the party into it by the
best line of descent I could find, although it was certainly very steep.
Having got safe down with our carts we found excellent pasturage, the
cattle marks being very numerous and at length quite fresh, even the
print of young calves' feet appeared, and all the traces of a numerous
WILD CATTLE SEEN.
In short cattle tracks resembling roads ran along the banks of the chain
of ponds which watered this valley; and at length the welcome sight of
the cattle themselves delighted our longing eyes, not to mention our
stomachs which were then in the best possible state to assist our
perceptions of the beauty of a foreground of fat cattle. We were soon
surrounded by a staring herd consisting of at least 800 head, and I took
a shot at one; but my ball only made him jump, upon which the whole body,
apparently very wild, made off to the mountains.
OBLIGED TO KILL ONE OF OUR WORKING BULLOCKS.
Symptoms of famine now began to show themselves in the sullenness of some
of the men, and I most reluctantly allowed them to kill one of our poor
working animals, which was accordingly shot as soon as we encamped and
divided amongst the party.
BY FOLLOWING THE VALLEY DOWNWARDS, WE ARRIVE ON THE MURRUMBIDGEE.
The valley preserved a course somewhat to the westward of north, and I
now felt confident that by following it downwards we should reach the
Murrumbidgee without meeting further impediment. This unexpected relief
from the hopeless prospects of the drizzling morning was infinitely more
refreshing to me than any kind of food could possibly have been, even
under such circumstances.
As we continued our journey downwards the waterholes in the chain of
ponds became small and scarce, while we found the cattle-tracks more and
more numerous. No change took place in the character of the valley for
nine miles; but I recognised then at no great distance the hills which on
the 22nd I had supposed to lie beyond the Murrumbidgee. On riding to a
small eminence on the right I perceived the dark umbrageous trees
overshadowing that noble river, and close before me the rich open flats
with tame cattle browsing upon them, or reclining in luxuriant ease, very
unlike the wild herd. The river was flowing westward over a gravelly
bottom, its scenery being highly embellished by the lofty casuarinae,
whose sombre masses of darkest green cover the water so gracefully and
afford both coolness and shade. Now we could trace the marks of horsemen
on the plain; and as we travelled up the river horses and cattle appeared
on both banks. At length we discovered a small house or station and a
stockyard. On riding up to it an old man came to the door, beating the
ashes from a loaf nearly two feet in diameter. His name was Billy Buckley
and the poor fellow received us all with the most cordial welcome,
supplying us at once with two days' provisions until we could send across
the river for a supply. Just then several drays appeared on the opposite
side, coming along the ROAD from Sydney, and these drays contained a
supply from which Mr. Tompson the owner accommodated me with enough to
send back to meet Mr. Stapylton on the banks of the Murray.
WRITE MY DESPATCH.
Having pitched my tent close by the house of my new friend Billy, I wrote
a brief account of our proceedings to the government while my horses were
permitted to rest two days preparatory to my long ride to Sydney.
PIPER MEETS HIS FRIENDS.
Piper's joy on emerging from the land of Myalls (or savages) was at least
as great as ours, especially when he met here with natives of his
acquaintance--"CIVIL blackfellows," as he styled them, bel (not) Myalls.
He was at least a Triton among the minnows, and it was pleasant to see
how much he enjoyed his lionship among his brethren. Little Ballandella
had been taken great care of by Mrs. Piper and was now feasted with milk
and seemed quite happy.
NATIVE NAMES OF RIVERS.
I learnt from the natives we found here their names for the greater
rivers we had passed, and of some of the isolated hills. Everywhere the
Murray was known as the Millewa; but I was not so sure about Bayunga, a
name which I had understood to apply to the Goulburn, Hovell or Ovens.
A STOCK-KEEPER'S HOSPITALITY.
When Billy Buckley, who was only a stockkeeper at that station, saw my
party arrive and was at length aware who we were, he came to me when
enjoying a quiet walk on the riverbank at some distance from his house,
carrying in his hand a jug of rich milk and a piece of bread which I
afterwards learnt, with dismay, had been baked in butter. I felt bound in
civility to partake of both, but the consequence was an illness which
very much interfered with my enjoyment of that luxuriant repose I had
anticipated in my tent, under the shade of the casuarinae on the brink of
the living stream.
Appearance of the country on the Murrumbidgee.
The Gap, an inn.
Soil and rocks.
Limestone caverns there.
County of St. Vincent.
Vast subsidence on a mountain there.
Wild country through which it flows.
Arrive at the line of great road.
Ford of the Nepean.
Arrive at Sydney.
General remarks on the character of the settled country.
Fires in the woods.
Necessity for cutting roads.
Proportion of good and bad land.
Description of Australia Felix.
Mr. Stapylton's report.
The aboriginal natives.
My mode of communicating with Mr. Stapylton.
Survey of the Murrumbidgee.
Arrival of the exploring party at Sydney.
The two Tommies.
Character of the natives of the interior.
Habits of those of Van Diemen's Land the same.
Mode of climbing trees.
Females excluded from superstitious rites.
Bandage or fillet around the temples.
Striking out the tooth.
Painting with red.
Raised scars on arms and breast.
Cutting themselves in mourning.
Authority of old men.
Females carrying children.
Its probable origin.
Shield or Hieleman.
Skill in approaching the kangaroo.
Modes of cooking.
Brightly shone the sun, the sky was dressed in blue and gold and "the
fields were full of star-like flowers, and overgrown with joy,"* on the
first day of my ride homeward along the green banks of the Murrumbidgee,
having crossed the river in a small canoe that morning. Seven months had
elapsed since I had seen either a road or a bridge although during that
time I had travelled over two thousand four hundred miles. Right glad was
I, like Gilpin's horse, "at length to miss the lumber of the wheels," the
boats, carts, specimens, and last but not least, Kater's compasses. No
care had I now whether my single step was east or north-east, nor about
the length of my day's journey, nor the hills or dales crossed, as to
their true situation, names, or number, or where I should encamp. To be
free from such cares seemed heaven itself, and I rode on without the
slightest thought about where I should pass the night, quite sure that
some friendly hut or house would receive me and afford snugger shelter
and better fare than I had seen for many a day.
(*Footnote. Remains of Peter Corcoran. Blackwood's Magazine.)
APPEARANCE OF THE COUNTRY ON THE MURRUMBIDGEE.
We had arrived on the Murrumbidgee seventy-five miles below the point
where that river quitted the settled districts and ceased to form a
county boundary. I found the upper portion of this fine stream fully
occupied as cattle-stations, which indeed extended also, as I was
informed, much lower down the river; and such was the thoroughfare in
that direction that I found a tolerable cart road from one station to
another. I passed the night at the house of a stockman in charge of the
cattle of Mr. James Macarthur, and I was very comfortably lodged.
With the Murrumbidgee still occasionally in view we pursued the road
which led towards Sydney. Each meadow was already covered with the lowing
herds for which it seemed to have been prepared; and the traces of man's
industry were now obvious in fences, and in a substantial wooden house
and smoking chimney, usually built in the most inviting part of each
cattle run. All the animals looked fat and sufficiently proved the value
of the pasturage along this river. Steep and rugged ridges occasionally
approached its banks and, in following the beaten track, I this day
crossed acclivities much more difficult for the passage of
wheel-carriages than any we had traversed throughout those uncultivated
wastes, where even the pastoral age had not commenced.
The scenery at various points of the river seen this day was very
beautiful; its chief features consisting of noble sheets of water,
umbrageous woods, flowery meadows, enlivened by those objects so
essential to the harmony of landscape, cattle of every hue.
The gigantic and luxuriant growth of the yarra eucalyptus everywhere
produced fine effects; and one tree in particular pleased me so much that
I was tempted to draw it, although the shades of evening would scarcely
permit; but while thus engaged I sent my servant forward to look for some
hut or station that I might remain the longer to complete my drawing.
I arrived long after dark at a cattle-station occupied by a
superintendent of Mr. Henry O'Brian, near Jugion Creek on the right bank
of the Murrumbidgee, and there passed the night. Two considerable rivers
join this creek from the mountainous but fine country to the southward,
one being named the Coodradigbee, the other the Doomot. The higher
country there is granitic although, on both rivers, limestone also
abounds in which the corals seem to belong to Mr. Murchison's Silurian
system. Favosites, Stromatopora concentrica, Heliopora pyriformis, and
stems of crinoidea are found loosely about the surface. There is also a
large rock of haematite under Mount Jellula.
The road led us this day over some hilly country of a rather poor
description, but the beautiful flower Brunonia grew so abundantly that
the surface exhibited the unusual and delicate tint of ultramarine blue.
I was tempted once more to forsake the road in order to ascend a range
which it crossed in hopes of being able to see, from some lofty summit
thereof, points of the country I had left, and thus to connect them by
means of my pocket sextant with any visible points I might recognise of
my former trigonometrical survey. It was not however in my power to do
this satisfactorily, not having been able to distinguish any of the
Towards evening I drew near Yass Plains and was not a little struck with
their insignificance as compared with those of the south. A township had
been marked out here, and the comfortable establishments of various
wealthy colonists evinced, by their preference of these plains, that they
considered them the best part of a very extensive district.
THE GAP, AN INN.
Mr. Cornelius O'Brien had invited me to his house and afterwards
furnished me with a supply of provisions for my party; but I carried my
own despatches, and a much shorter route led to the left by which I could
divide the way better in continuing my ride to the Gap, a small inn where
I arrived at a very late hour, the road having been soft, uneven, and
wholly through a dreary wood.
The noise and bustle of the house was quite refreshing to one who had
dwelt so long in deserts, although it seemed to promise little
accommodation, for there had been races in the neighbourhood and horses
lay about the yard. Nevertheless the waiter and his wife cleared for my
accommodation a room which had been full of noisy people, and my horses
were soon lodged snugly in the stable. There indeed I perceived more room
than the house afforded, for while the guests were regaling within their
horses were allowed to lay about to starve outside, as if so many gypsies
had been about the place; no uncommon circumstance in Australia.
In the course of my ride this morning I recognised the poor scrubby land
about the southern boundary of the county of Argyle, which I had surveyed
in 1828. The wood on it is rather open, consisting of a stunted species
of eucalyptus, the grass, apparently a hard species of poa, affording but
little nourishment. Sandstone and quartz are the predominant rocks
although some of the most remarkable hills consist of trap.
Passing at length through a gap in a low ridge of granular quartz, we
entered upon Bredalbane plains, consisting of three open flats of grassy
land circumscribed by hills of little apparent height, and extending
about twelve miles in the direction of this road, their average width
being about two miles. Deringullen ponds arise in the most southern
plain, and are among the most eastern heads of the Lachlan. The plains
are situated on the high dividing ground or water shed between the
streams falling eastward and westward, and had probably once been lagoons
of the same character as those which still distinguish other portions of
this dividing ground.
The most remarkable of these is Lake George, about fourteen miles further
to the south, and which in 1828 was a sheet of water seventeen miles in
length and seven in breadth. There is no outlet for the waters of this
lake although it receives no less than four mountain streams from the
hills north of it, namely Turallo creek, whose highest source is fourteen
miles from the lake, Butmaro creek which arises in a mountain sixteen
miles from it, Taylor's creek from the range on the east, six miles
distant, and Kenny's creek from hills five miles distant. The southern
shore of this lake presents one continuous low ridge, separating its
waters from the head of the Yass river which would otherwise receive
them. The water was slightly brackish in 1828 but quite fit for use, and
the lake was then surrounded by dead trees of the eucalyptus measuring
about two feet in diameter, which also extended into it until wholly
covered by the water. In that wide expanse we could find no fish, and an
old native female said she remembered when the whole was a forest, a
statement supported pro tanto by the dead trees in its bed as well as by
the whole of the basin being in October 1836 a grassy meadow not unlike
the plains of Bredalbane.
It would be well worth the attention of a man of leisure to ascertain the
lowest part in the country around Lake George, at which its waters, on
reaching their maximum height, would overflow from its basin.
Several lagoons, apparently the remains of more extensive waters, occur
between Lake George and Bredalbane plains in the line of watershed as
already observed. These are named Tarrago, Mutmutbilly, and Wallagorong,
the latter being apparently a residuum of the lake which probably once
covered the three plains of Bredalbane.
SOIL AND ROCKS.
The quality of the soil now found in the patches of grassy land on the
margins of these lakes and lagoons depends on the nature of the high
ground nearest to them. The hills to the eastward of Lake George are
chiefly granitic. Ondyong point on its northern shore consists of
sandstone resembling that of the coal-measures; and the rock forming the
range above the western shores is of the same quality. The hills at the
source of Kenny's creek consist of trap, of which rock there is also a
remarkable hill on the southern side of Bredalbane plains; and these
plains are bounded on the north by a ridge of syenite, which here forms
the actual division between the sources of the rivers Lachlan and
The water in the smaller lagoons westward of Lake George is perfectly
sweet, and the pasturage on the plains adjacent being in general very
good, the land is occupied by several extensive grazing establishments.
On entering the valley of the river Wollondilly which waters Goulburn
plains, I was surprised to see its waters extremely low and not even
flowing. The poor appearance of the woods also struck me, judging by
comparison with the land in the south; and although the scantiness of
grass, also observable, might be attributed to the great number of sheep
and cattle fed there, I was not the less sensible of the more parched
aspect of the country generally.
Goulburn Plains consist of open downs affording excellent pasturage for
sheep and extending twenty miles southward from the township, their
breadth being about ten.
I reached at twilight the house of a worthy friend, Captain Rossi, who
received me with great kindness and hospitality. The substantial
improvements which he had effected on his farm since my last visit to
that part of the colony evinced his skill and industry as a colonist;
while an extensive garden and many tasteful arrangements for domestic
comfort marked the residence of a gentleman. Under that hospitable roof I
exchanged the narrative of my wanderings for the accumulated news of
seven months which, with my friend's good cheer, rendered his invitation
to rest my horses for one day quite irresistible.
A walk in the garden; a visit to the shearing shed; the news of colonial
affairs in general; fat pullets cooked a la gastronome and some good
wine; had each in its turn rare charms for me.
I had arrived in a country which I had myself surveyed; and the roads and
towns in progress were the first fruits of these labours. I had marked
out in 1830 the road now before me, which I then considered the most
important in New South Wales as leading to the more temperate south, and
I had now completed it as a line of communication between Sydney and the
southern coasts. This important public work on which I had bestowed the
greatest pains by surveying the whole country between the Wollondilly and
Shoalhaven rivers, had been nevertheless retarded nearly two years on the
representations of some of the settlers, so that the part most essential
to be opened continued still in a half finished state.*
(*Footnote. A petition had been got up in favour of another line said to
be more direct; and it is a remarkable fact that numerous signatures were
obtained even to such a petition, although it was found at last that the
line laid down after a careful survey was not only twelve chains shorter
than the other proposed but also avoided the steepest hills.)
The Shoalhaven river flows in a ravine about 1500 feet below the common
level of the country between it and the Wollondilly. Precipices
consisting at one part of granite and at another of limestone give a
peculiar grandeur to the scenery of the Shoalhaven river.
LIMESTONE CAVERNS THERE.
The limestone is of a dark grey colour and contains very imperfect
fragments of shells. We find among the features on these lofty riverbanks
many remarkable hollows not unaptly termed hoppers by the country people,
from the water sinking into them as grain subsides in the hopper of a
mill. As each of these hollows terminates in a crevice leading to a
cavern in the limestone below, I descended into one in 1828 and
penetrated without difficulty to a considerable depth over slimy rocks,
but was forced to return because our candles were nearly exhausted. A
current of air met us as we descended and it might have come from some
crevice probably near the bed of the river. That water sometimes flowed
into these caverns was evident from pieces of decayed trees which had
been carried downwards by it to a considerable depth. I looked in vain
there for fossil bones, but I found projecting from the side of the
cavern at the lowest part I reached a very perfect specimen of coral of
the genus favosites.
COUNTY OF ST. VINCENT.
The country to the eastward of the Shoalhaven river, that is to say
between it and the sea-coast, is very wild and mountainous. The higher
part including Currocbilly and the Pigeon house (summits) consists of
sandstone passing from a fine to a coarse grain, occasionally containing
pebbles of quartz, and in some of the varieties numerous specks of
decomposed felspar. The lower parts of the same country, according to the
rocks seen in Yalwal creek, consist of granite, basalt, and compact
felspar. Nearer the coast a friable whitish sandstone affords but a poor
soil, except where the partial occurrence of decomposed laminated felspar
and gneiss produced one somewhat better. This country comprises the
county of St. Vincent, bounded on one side by the Shoalhaven river and on
the other by the sea-coast. The southern portion of that county affords
the greatest quantity of soil available either for cultivation or
pasture; although around Bateman Bay, which is its limit on the south,
much good land cannot be expected as Snapper Island at the entrance
consists of grey compact quartz only, with white veins of crystalline
The country on the upper part of the Shoalhaven river comprises much good
land. The river flows there nearly on a level with the surface and
resembles an English stream. The temperature at the elevation of about
2000 feet above the sea is so low even in summer that potatoes and
gooseberries, for both of which the climate of Sydney is too hot, grow
luxuriantly. A rich field for geological research will probably be found
in that neighbourhood.
In a hasty ride which I took as far as Carwary in 1832, I was conducted
by my friend Mr. Ryrie to a remarkable cavern under white marble where I
found trap; a vein of ironstone of a fused appearance; a quartzose
ferruginous conglomerate; a calcareous tuff containing fragments of these
rocks; and specular iron ore in abundance near the same spot.
But still further southward and on the range separating the country at
the head of the Shoalhaven river from the ravines on the coast, I was
shown an antre vast which, for aught I know, may involve in its recesses
more of the wild and wonderful than any of the deserts idle which I have
VAST SUBSIDENCE ON A MOUNTAIN THERE.
A part of the surface of that elevated country had subsided, carrying
trees along with it to the depth of about 400 yards, and left a yawning
opening about 300 yards wide resembling a gigantic quarry, at the bottom
of which the sunken trees continued to grow. In the eastern side of the
bottom of this subsidence a large opening extended under the rock and
seemed to lead to a subterraneous cavity of great dimensions.
Taking leave of my kind host at an early hour, I continued my ride,
passing through the new township in which, although but few years had
elapsed since I had sketched its streets on paper, a number of houses had
already been built. The Mulwary Ponds scarcely afford sufficient water of
the supply of a large population there; but at the junction of this
channel with the Wollondilly there is a deep reach not likely to be ever
The road marked out between this township and Sydney led over a country
shut up, as already stated, between the Wollondilly and the Shoalhaven
rivers. These streams are distant from each other at the narrowest part
of the intervening surface about ten miles; and as each is bordered by
deep ravines the middle portion of the country between them is naturally
the most level, and this happens to be precisely in the direction most
desirable for a general line of communication between Sydney and the most
valuable parts of the colony to the southward.
At a few miles from Goulburn the road passes by the foot of Towrang, a
hill whose summit I had formerly cleared of timber, leaving only one
tree. I thus obtained an uninterrupted view of the distant horizon, and
found the hill very useful afterwards in extending our survey from
Jellore into the higher country around Lake George. This hill consists
chiefly of quartz rock. At its base the new line leaves the original cart
track which here crossed the Wollondilly twice. I now found an
intermediate road in use between the old track and my half-formed road
which was still inaccessible at this point for want of a small bridge
over Towrang Creek.
The Wollondilly pursues its course to the left, passing under the
southern extremity of Cockbundoon range, which extends about thirty miles
in a straight line from north to south, and consists of sandstone dipping
westward. Near the Wollondilly and a few miles from Towrang a quarry of
crystalline variegated marble has been recently wrought to a considerable
extent, and chimney-pieces, tables, etc. now ornament most good houses at
Sydney. This rock occurs in blocks over greenstone, and has hitherto been
found only in that spot.
WILD COUNTRY THROUGH WHICH IT FLOWS.
The channel of the Wollondilly continues open and accessible for a few
miles lower down than this, but after it is joined by the Uringalla near
Arthursleigh it sinks immediately into a deep ravine and is no longer
accessible as above, the country to the westward of it being exceedingly
wild and broken. The scene it presented when I stood on the pic of
Jellore in 1828 and commenced a general survey of this colony was of the
most discouraging description.* A flat horizon to a surface cracked and
hollowed out into the wildest ravines, deep and inaccessible; their
sides, consisting of perpendicular rocky cliffs, afforded but little
reason to suppose that it could be surveyed and divided as proposed into
counties, hundreds, and parishes; and still less was it likely ever to be
inhabited, even if such a work could be accomplished. Nevertheless it was
necessary in the performance of my duties that these rivers should be
traced, and where the surveyor pronounced them inaccessible to the chain,
I clambered over rocks and measured from cliff to cliff with the pocket
sextant. Thus had I wandered on foot by the murmuring Wollondilly,
sometimes passing the night in its deep dark bed with no other companions
than a robber and a savage. I could now look back with some satisfaction
on these labours in that barren field. I had encompassed those wild
recesses; the desired division of the rocky wastes they enclosed had
really been made; and if no other practical benefit was derived we had at
least been enabled to open ways across them to better regions beyond.
(*Footnote. My predecessor in office had declared the operation to be
impracticable in such a country; but to this general survey I was pledged
on accepting my appointment in London. Two other commissioners for the
division of the territory were each receiving a guinea a day, but yet
could do nothing until this survey was accomplished; and I therefore set
about the work with the resolution necessary for the performance of what
was deemed almost impossible. Universal wood, impassable ravines, a total
absence of artificial objects, and the consequent necessity for clearing
summits as stations for the theodolite were great impediments; but I made
the most of each station when it had once been cleared by taking an exact
panoramic view with the theodolite of the nameless features it commanded.
The accompanying facsimile of a page of my field book includes the view
between north and north-west, taken for the above purpose from the summit
of Jellore, and extends over the ravines of the Nattai to the crest of
the Blue Mountains. Plate 38.)
THE NATTAI. MOYENGULLY.
In the numerous ravines surrounding Jellore the little river Nattai has
its sources, and this wild region is the haunt and secure retreat of the
Nattai tribe whose chief, Moyengully, was one of my earliest aboriginal
friends. (See Plate 39.)
Marulan, the highest summit eastward of Jellore, consists of ferruginous
sandstone, but in the country to the northward we find syenite and
trap-rock. Of the latter, Nattary, a small hill north-east from Towrang
and distant about four miles from it, is perhaps the most remarkable. The
elevation of the country there is considerable (being about one thousand
five hundred feet above the sea on the level part) and, except near the
Shoalhaven and Wollondilly rivers, not much broken into ravines. It
contains not only fine pasture land but also much good wheat land,
especially towards the side of the Shoalhaven river.
ARRIVE AT THE LINE OF GREAT ROAD. CONVICT WORKMEN.
At fourteen miles from Goulburn I came upon that part of my new line of
great road where the works had not been impeded by those for whose
benefit the road was intended;* and here I found that the iron-gangs had
done some good service. I had now the satisfaction of travelling along a
road every turn of which I had studied previous to marking it out after a
most careful survey of the whole country.
(*Footnote. One of the most palpable consequences of the interruption my
plan experienced was that it interfered with the prospects of an
innkeeper whose inn had already been half built of brick in anticipation
of the opening of the new line.)
On Crawford's creek I found that a bridge with stone buttresses had been
nearly completed. I had endeavoured to introduce permanent bridges of
stonework into this colony instead of those of wood, which were very
liable to be burnt and frequently required repair. We had among the
prisoners some tolerable stonecutters and setters but, until I had the
good fortune to find among the emigrants a person practically acquainted
with the construction of arches, their labours had never been productive
of much benefit to the public. The governor had readily complied with my
recommendation to appoint Mr. Lennox superintendent of such works; and on
entering the township of Berrima this evening I had the satisfaction at
length of crossing at least one bridge worthy of a British colony.
This town is situated on the little river Wingecarrabee, and was planned
by me some years before when marking out the general line of road. The
eligibility of the situation consists chiefly in the abundance and purity
of the water, and of materials for building with the vicinity of a small
agricultural population. I found here, on my return now, Mr. Lambie of
the road branch of my department, under whose immediate superintendence
the bridge had been erected. The walls of a gaol and courthouse were also
rising, and a site was ready for the church.
A remarkable range consisting chiefly of trap-rock traverses the whole
country between the Wollondilly and the sea in a south-east direction
extending from Bullio to Kiama. The highest part is known as the
Mittagong range and, in laying down the new line of road, it was an
object of importance to avoid this range. Bowral, the highest part,
consists of quartz or very hard sandstone.
On leaving Berrima the road traverses several low ridges of trap-rock and
then turns to the south-east in order to avoid the ravines of the Nattai;
for we again find here that ferruginous sandstone which desolates so
large a portion of New South Wales and, to all appearance, New Holland,
presenting in the interior desert plains of red sand, and on the eastern
side of the dividing range, a world of stone quarries and sterility. It
is only where trap or granite or limestone occur that the soil is worth
possessing, and to this extent every settler is under the necessity of
becoming a geologist; he must also be a geographer, that he may find
water and not lose himself in the bush; and it must indeed be admitted
that the intelligence of the native youth in all such matters is little
inferior to that of the aborigines.
The barren sandstone country is separated from the seashore by a lofty
range of trap-rock connected with that of Mittagong, and we accordingly
find an earthly paradise between that range and the seashore. The
Illawarra is a region in which the rich soil is buried under matted
creepers, tree-ferns and the luxuriant shade of a tropical vegetation
nourished both by streams from the lofty range and the moist breezes of
the sea. There a promising and extensive field for man's industry lies
still uncultivated, but when the roads now partially in progress shall
have connected it with the rest of the colony it must become one of the
most certain sources of agricultural produce in New South Wales.
The sandstone on the interior side extends to the summit of the trap
range and its numerous ravines occasion the difficulties which have
hitherto excluded wheel-carriages from access to the Illawarra.
To cross a country so excavated is impossible except in certain
directions, but the best lines these fastnesses admit of have been
ascertained and marked out in connection with that for the great southern
road, which ought to leave the present line at Lupton's Inn. I consider
this the most important public work still necessary to complete the
system of great roads planned by me in New South Wales; but I have not
had means at my disposal hitherto for carrying into effect this portion
of the general plan.
From Lupton's Inn Sydney bore north-east, yet I was obliged to turn with
the present road towards the north-west and to travel eleven miles over
unfavourable ground in a direction to the westward of north.
Having been engaged this day in examining the bridges and the work done
along the whole line, Mr. Lambie accompanying me, I did not reach the
house of my friend Macalister at Clifton until it was rather late, but at
any hour I could be sure of a hearty welcome.
The Razorback range is a very remarkable feature in this part of the
country. It is isolated, extending about eight miles in a general
direction between west-north-west and east-south-east, being very level
on some parts of the summit, and so very narrow in others, while the
sides are also so steep, that the name it has obtained is descriptive
FORD OF THE NEPEAN. CAMPBELLTOWN.
Around this trap-range lies the fertile district of the Cowpastures,
watered by the Nepean river. On proceeding along the road towards
Campbelltown we cross this river by a ford which has been paved with a
causeway, and we thus enter the county of Cumberland. Here trap-rock
still predominates, and the soil is good and appears well cultivated, but
there is a saltness in the surface water which renders it at some seasons
unfit for use. The line of great road as planned by me would pass by this
township (now containing 400 inhabitants) and the town might then
probably increase by extending towards George's river, a stream which
would afford a permanent supply of good water.
LIVERPOOL. LANSDOWNE BRIDGE.
Passing through Liverpool, which has a population of 600 inhabitants and
is situated on the left bank of George's river, I arrived at three miles
beyond that town at Lansdowne bridge, where the largest arch hitherto
erected in Australia had been recently built by Mr. Lennox. The necessity
for a permanent bridge over Prospect Creek arose from the failure of
several wooden structures, to the great inconvenience of the public, this
being really a creek rising and falling with the tide. The obstacle, and
the steepness of the left bank, which was considerable, have been
triumphantly surmounted by a noble arch of 110 feet span which carries
the road at a very slight inclination to the level of the opposite bank.
The bridge is wholly the work of men in irons who must have been fed, and
must consequently have cost the public just as much if they had done
nothing all the while; and it may be held up as a fair specimen of the
great advantage of convict labour in such a country when applied to
public works. The creek is navigable to this point and, stone being
abundant and of good quality on the opposite side of George's river, one
gang was advantageously employed in the quarry there while another was
building the bridge. Mr. Lennox ably seconded my views in carrying these
arrangements into effect. He contrived the cranes, superintended the
stone cutting, and even taught the workmen; planned and erected the
centres for the arches and finally completed the structure itself which
had been opened to the public on the 26th of January.
Before venturing on so large a work I had employed Mr. Lennox on a
smaller bridge in the new pass in the ascent to the Blue Mountains, and
the manner in which he completed that work was such as to justify the
confidence with which I suggested to the government this larger
ARRIVE AT SYDNEY.
At length I arrived at Sydney and had the happiness on terminating this
long journey to find that all the members of my family were well,
although they had been much alarmed by reports of my death and the
destruction of my party by the savage natives of the interior.
GENERAL REMARKS ON THE CHARACTER OF THE SETTLED COUNTRY.
Released from the necessity for recording each day's proceedings I may
now add a few general remarks on the character of the country traversed
in these various expeditions.
FIRES IN THE WOODS.
It has been observed that the soil in New South Wales is good only where
trap, limestone, or granite rocks occur. Sandstone however predominates
so much as to cover about six-sevenths of the whole surface comprised
within the boundaries of nineteen counties. Wherever this is the surface
rock little besides barren sand is found in the place of soil. Deciduous
vegetation scarcely exists there, no vegetable soil is formed for, the
trees and shrubs being very inflammable, conflagrations take place so
frequently and extensively in the woods during summer as to leave very
little vegetable matter to return to earth. On the highest mountains and
in places the most remote and desolate I have always found on every dead
trunk on the ground, and living tree of any magnitude also, the marks of
fire; and thus it appeared that these annual conflagrations extend to
every place. In the regions of sandstone the territory is, in short, good
for nothing, and is besides very generally inaccessible, thus presenting
a formidable obstruction to any communication between isolated spots of a
Land near Sydney has always been preferred to that which is remote,
though the quality may have been equal; yet throughout the wide extent of
twenty-three millions of acres only about 4,400,000 have been found worth
5 shillings per acre, and the owners of this appropriated land within the
limits have been obliged to send their cattle beyond them for the sake of
EMPLOYMENT OF CONVICTS.
From the labour necessary to form lines of communication across such a
country, New South Wales still affords an excellent field for the
employment of convicts; and although some of the present colonists may be
against the continuance of transportation, it must be admitted that the
increase and extension of population and the future prosperity of the
country depends much on the completion of such public works. The dominion
of man cannot indeed be extended well over nature there without much
labour of this description. The prisoners should be worked in gangs and
guarded and coerced according to some well organised system. It can
require no argument to show how much more pernicious to the general
interests of mankind the amalgamation of criminals with the people of a
young colony must be than with the dense population of old countries,
where a better organised police and laws suited to the community are in
full and efficient operation, both for the prevention and detection of
crime; but the employment of convicts on public works is not inseparable
from the question of allowing such people to become colonists; and
whoever desires to see the noble harbour of Sydney made the centre of a
flourishing country, extending from the tropic to the shores of the
Southern Ocean, rather than one only of several small settlements along
the coast, will not object to relieve the mother country by employing her
convicts even at a greater expense than they cost the colonists at
present. Thus the evil would in time cure itself by preparing the country
for such accessions of honest people from home as would reduce the
tainted portion of its inhabitants to a mere caput mortuum.
NECESSITY FOR CUTTING ROADS.
With a well arranged system of roads radiating from such a harbour even
the sandstone wastes, extensive though they be, might be overstepped and,
the good parts being connected by roads, the produce of the tropical and
temperate regions might then be brought to one common market.
PROPORTION OF GOOD AND BAD LAND.
Where there is so much unproductive surface the unavoidable dispersion of
population renders good lines of communication more essentially
necessary, and these must consist of roads, for there are neither
navigable rivers nor in general the means of forming canals. This colony
might thus extend northward to the tropic of Capricorn, westward to the
145th degree of east longitude, the southern portion having for
boundaries the Darling, the Murray and the seacoast. Throughout the
extensive territory thus bounded one-third, probably, consists of desert
interior plains; one-fourth of land available for pasturage or
cultivation; and the remainder of rocky mountain or impassable or
unproductive country. Perhaps the greater portion of really good land
within the whole extent will be found to the southward of the Murray, for
there the country consists chiefly of trap, granite, or limestone. The
amount of surface comprised in European kingdoms affords no criterion of
what may be necessary for the growth of a new people in Australia.
Extreme differences of soil, climate, and seasons may indeed be usefully
reconciled and rendered available to one community there; but this must
depend on ingenious adaptations aided by all the facilities man's art can
supply in the free occupation of a very extensive region. Agricultural
resources must ever be scanty and uncertain in a country where there is
so little moisture to nourish vegetation. We have seen, from the state of
the Darling where I last saw it, that all the surface water flowing from
the vast territory west of the dividing range, and extending north and
south between the Murray and the tropic, is insufficient to support the
current of one small river. The country southward of the Murray is not so
deficient in this respect for there the mountains are higher, the rocks
more varied, and the soil consequently better; while the vast extent of
open grassy downs seems just what was most necessary for the prosperity
of the present colonists and the encouragement of a greater emigration
DESCRIPTION OF AUSTRALIA FELIX.
Every variety of feature may be seen in these southern parts, from the
lofty alpine region on the east, to the low grassy plains in which it
terminates on the west. The Murray, perhaps the largest river in all
Australia, arises amongst those mountains, and receives in its course
various other rivers of considerable magnitude. These flow over extensive
plains in directions nearly parallel to the main stream, and thus
irrigate and fertilise a large extent of rich country. Falling from
mountains of great height, the current of these rivers is perpetual,
whereas in other parts of Australia the rivers are too often dried up and
seldom indeed deserve any other name than chains of ponds.
Hills of moderate elevation occupy the central country between the Murray
and the sea, being thinly or partially wooded and covered with the
richest pasturage. The lower country, both on the northern and southern
skirts of these hills, is chiefly open, slightly undulating towards the
coast on the south, and is in general well watered.
The grassy plains which extend northward from these thinly wooded hills
to the banks of the Murray are chequered by the channels of many streams
falling from them, and by the more permanent and extensive waters of deep
lagoons. These are numerous on the face of the plains near the river, as
if intended by a bounteous Providence to correct the deficiencies of too
dry a climate. An industrious and increasing people may always secure an
abundant supply by adopting artificial means to preserve it and, in
acting thus, they would only extend the natural plan according to their
wants. The fine climate is worthy of a little extra toil, especially in
those parts at a distance from the surplus waters of the large rivers,
and in places considered favourable in other respects either for the
rearing of cattle or for cultivation.
In the western portion small rivers radiate from the Grampians an
elevated and isolated mass presenting no impediment to a free
communication through the fine country around its base. Hence that
enormous labour necessary to obtain access to some parts, and for
crossing continuous ranges to reach others by passes like those so
essential to the prosperity of the present colony, might be in a great
degree dispensed with in that southern region.
Towards the south coast on the south and adjacent to the open downs
between the Grampians and Port Phillip, there is a low tract consisting
of very rich black soil, apparently the best imaginable for the
cultivation of grain in such a climate.
On parts of the low ridges of hills near Cape Nelson and Portland Bay are
forests of very large trees of stringybark, ironbark, and other useful
species of eucalyptus, much of which are probably destined yet to float
in vessels on the adjacent sea.
The character of the country behind Cape Northumberland affords fair
promise of a harbour in the shore to the westward. Such a port would
probably possess advantages over any other on the southern coast; for a
railroad thence, along the skirts of the level interior country, would
require but little artificial levelling and might extend to the tropical
regions or even beyond them, thus affording the means of expeditious
communication between all the fine districts on the interior side of the
coast ranges and a sea-port to the westward of Bass Strait.
The Murray, fed by the lofty mountains on the east, carries to the sea a
body of fresh water sufficient to irrigate the whole country, which is in
general so level even to a great distance from its banks that the
abundant waters of the river might probably be turned into canals for the
purpose either of supplying deficiencies of natural irrigation at
particular places, or of affording the means of transport across the wide
The high mountains in the east have not yet been explored but their very
aspect is refreshing in a country where the summer heat is often very
oppressive. The land is in short open and available in its present state
for all the purposes of civilised man. We traversed it in two directions
with heavy carts, meeting no other obstruction than the softness of the
rich soil and, in returning over flowery plains and green hills fanned by
the breezes of early spring, I named this region Australia Felix, the
better to distinguish it from the parched deserts of the interior country
where we had wandered so unprofitably and so long.
This territory, still for the most part in a state of nature, presents a
fair blank sheet for any geographical arrangement whether of county
divisions, lines of communication, or sites of towns etc. etc. The growth
of a colony there might be trained according to one general system with a
view to various combinations of soil and climate and not left to chance
as in old countries or, which would perhaps be worse, to the partial or
narrow views of the first settlers. The plan of a whole state might be
arranged there like that of an edifice before the foundation is laid, and
a solid one seems necessary where a large superstructure is likely to be
built. The accompanying sketch of the limits which I would propose for
the colony of New South Wales is intended to show also how the
deficiencies of such a region might be compensated and the advantages
combined for the convenience and accommodation of a civilised and
industrious people. The rich pasture land beyond the mountains is already
connected by roads with the harbour of Sydney and the system, though not
complete, has been at least sufficiently carried into effect to justify
the preference of that town and port as a capital and common centre not
only for the roads, but for steam navigation around the coasts extending
in each direction about 900 miles. The coast country affords the best
prospects for the agriculturist, but the arable spots therein, being of
difficult access by land, his success would depend much on immediate
means of communication with Sydney by water and, on the facility his
position would thus afford of shipping his produce to neighbouring
(*Footnote. A new market for cattle and sheep has just opened on the
interior side by the establishment of the new colony of South Australia,
an event more fortunate for New South Wales than the most sanguine friend
of that colony could have foreseen. It is to be regretted however that
the colonists are so slow in availing themselves of such a market by the
direct line of road already traced by my wheels along the right banks of
the rivers Lachlan, Murrumbidgee and Murray, by which flocks and herds
may be driven to the new colony without any danger of their wanting water
or the necessity for their crossing any rivers of importance.)
It would be establishing a lasting monument of the beneficial influence
of British power and colonisation thus to engraft a new and flourishing
state on a region now so desolate and unproductive; but this seems only
possible under very extensive arrangements and by such means as England
alone can supply:
"Here the great mistress of the seas is known,
By empires founded, not by states o'erthrown." Sydney Gazette, January 1,
MR. STAPYLTON'S REPORT.
Mr. Stapylton met no difficulty in following my track through Australia
Felix with heavy wheel-carriages and worn out cattle, as appears by his
own account of his progress in the following report, which he forwarded
to me on his arrival at the Murrumbidgee.
Camp near Guy's Station,
Murrumbidgee, November 11.
I have the honour to inform you that in compliance with your directions
of the 18th of September last I quitted the depot near Lake Repose on the
3rd of October, and that I arrived at this station today. Our journey
towards the located country has been most prosperous. On the 17th of
October I reached the Goulburn, the numerous streams which intercepted
our progress thither having been overcome with rapidity and excellent
management on the part of the bullock-drivers. On the 23rd of the same
month the three men whom you sent back to me from the Murray arrived at
our encampment on the left bank of the Goulburn, and on the 25th the
passage was effected across it without an accident of any kind
whatsoever. On the 30th we encamped on the right bank of the Swampy river
having been again successful in the transit of stores and cattle, and on
the 2nd of November the party was established on the right bank of the
King. Here we unfortunately lost one bullock, a weak and lame animal. On
the 4th of November I made the Murray, and on the 5th, the provision
party not being arrived, I directed that the boat, which we found in the
contiguous backwater, should be got afloat, and on the evening of that
day we took up our position on the right bank of the river; the cattle,
horses, and equipment having been passed across in safety and in a manner
highly creditable to all the men employed. The boat-carriage (which as
well as the boat appeared to have remained untouched by the natives) was
brought off on the following morning which being Sunday I halted. On the
7th I resumed our journey and arrived as above-mentioned, the cattle and