Part 3 out of 6
A short distance to the south-west of our camp, is a range of round
hills, of moderate height, covered with grass, and thinly timbered with
box and other species of eucalyptus, resembling the ironbark. These hills
are composed of huge blocks of coarse granite, with a stiff soil, and
appear to stretch a long distance to the west.
Mr. Kennedy returned this morning, having explored the country for about
forty miles, over which he thought we might travel safely. There being
plenty of grass however at the camp, and the men no better, he determined
to defer our advance till Monday.
Being Sunday, prayers were read at eleven o'clock.
Early this morning we prepared to start, but Luff and Douglas being
seized with a fit of ague, we were compelled to stop. Although our horses
had all the way had abundance of feed, they began to grow very
thin--several of them very weak, and one getting very lame, from bad
feet. The sheep also had fallen away very much, which I attributed to the
wet journey they had had; being almost always wet, from crossing rivers
Mr. Kennedy and three others roamed this morning to some distance from
the camp, when they were followed by a tribe of natives, making
threatening demonstrations, and armed with spears; one spear was actually
thrown, when Mr. Kennedy, fearing for the safety of his party, ordered
his men to fire upon them; four of the natives fell, but Mr. Kennedy
could not ascertain whether more than one was killed, as the other three
were immediately carried off into the scrub.
Luff and Douglas now began to get better, but being still unable to walk,
we could not break up our camp.
We started early this morning, and crossed two creeks with narrow belts
of scrub on each side, running north-east. I have little doubt these
creeks run into the river we crossed on the 8th of June. The banks of the
second creek were nearly twenty feet high, so that we were obliged to
lower down the carts into its bed by means of ropes and pulleys, fastened
to the branches of the trees which overhung the creek. The horses were
got into the creek with a great deal of difficulty, then harnessed to the
carts, and we proceeded along the bed of the creek till we arrived at a
spot where the banks on the opposite side were not so steep. At this
place by harnessing six horses to each of the carts, we managed to get
them all out of the creek without any accident. The bed of the creek was
composed of granite pebbles. We encamped on the northern side of it, the
soil being a strong clayey loam, well covered with grass two or three
feet high, so thick that it was difficult to walk through it. The country
here was hilly open forest-land, with a high range before us, running
north-east. The trees were principally Moreton Bay ash, box, and another
species of eucalyptus, resembling the common ironbark, but with long
narrow leaves. I also found a magnificent species of Grevillea, with fine
pinnatifid silvery leaves, and beautiful racemes of orange-coloured
flowers; also another tree belonging to the same natural order, rivalling
the Grevillea in the beauty of its flowers, producing an abundance of
cream-coloured blossoms, on compound, terminal racemes. In the scrub by
the side of the creek, I found a most beautiful Scitamineos plant, the
foliage, root, and habit of which resembled Hedychium. The beauty of the
plant consisted in its large, stiff, shining bracteae, which continue to
grow after the small pink blossoms have fallen. The bracteae are about
half an inch broad at the base, slightly curved inwards, and tapering to
a point. The heads of the flowers, resembling a pineapple in shape and
size, and of a beautiful crimson colour, are produced on the top of a
strong flower-stem, 18 inches high, and they will retain their shape and
colour a month after being cut. This plant appears to be very local in
its habits, as I only caught sight of it by the side of three creeks, and
always in moist, shady places. I obtained seeds, and also packed some of
its fleshy, tuberous roots in a tin case.
We saw but few wallabies; and not one kangaroo or emu had as yet been
seen by any of the party. The country was not open enough for them to
We started at daylight, proceeding over open forest ground covered with
long grass, very thick and luxuriant. Travelling was rendered still more
difficult by the large logs of dead wood which strewed the ground in
every direction, and which much impeded the progress of the carts. We
camped by the side of a creek, with a narrow belt of scrub on the
south-east side, but apparently a wide extent of it on the other. This
creek had a large sandy bed; with large Castanospermums, Tristanias, and
Sarcocephali growing on its banks, which were rather steep. It had a very
tortuous course, coming from south-west and turning east a little below
our camp, which was in a bend of the creek.
We were employed nearly all this day in cutting through very thick scrub
on the other side of the creek. Whilst doing so we had to cross several
other smaller ones, all turning east, and in the evening we camped on a
small patch of open forest land, covered with long coarse grass, and
large blocks of coarse granite rock jutting out here and there.
This being Sunday we halted for the day, and prayers were read at eleven
July 10 and 11.
We continued throughout these days cutting through belts of scrub and
crossing small creeks, running from the west and north-west, and turning
east. During the latter day we were visited by a small tribe of natives,
who appeared very friendly and did not stop long. I found a large
quantity of Castanospermum seeds in one of the creeks, apparently put
there to steep by the natives, who use them for food. They informed me
that they steep them in water for five days, and then cut them into thin
slices and dry them in the sun; they are then pounded between two large
stones, and the meal being moistened with water is baked on a flat stone,
raised from the ground a few inches, with a small fire burning beneath. I
afterwards saw some of the meal baked, but it was not very palatable.
July 12 and 13.
Our journey still continued through scrub, intersected by small creeks,
which we had to cross, and by patches here and there of open forest
ground, covered with long grass, the soil a stiff loam. We were not able
to make much progress, travelling on the average from three to five miles
a day. We were compelled to cut away the scrub, and the banks of some of
the creeks, before we were able to cross them, and frequently obliged to
run a creek up and down some distance before we could find a place where
it was passable at all.
We started very early this morning, and commenced travelling over very
uneven ground, full of small hillocks, and having the appearance of being
frequently inundated, the grass growing very high and luxuriantly over
it. Owing to the irregularities of the surface the axletree of one of our
carts gave way this day. We were forced to leave the cart and harness
behind, and load the horses with the spare pack-saddles we had brought
with us, covering the load of each horse over with a piece of tarpaulin.
We travelled on till dusk, when we arrived at a small creek, overgrown
with grass, which we imagined we should cross with little difficulty; but
the carts were set fast in the mud, and some of the horses got bogged. We
were forced to carry the loading of our carts and saddle-horses over on
our shoulders, a task of no small difficulty and labour, the mud giving
way up to the knee at every step. The horses were then safely taken
across, and we lifted out the carts and carried them to the other side,
finding that it was useless to attempt to draw them out. It was ten
o'clock at night before we had got the things over, and as soon as we had
partaken of our late dinner we made a large fire to dry our clothes,
which had become completely saturated by the labours of the day.
Mr. Kennedy arrived at the determination this day, to leave the carts
behind at this camp, as they caused so much extra labour and delay in
Sunday, we halted, and had prayers read at eleven o'clock.
We got up early, and prepared all the loads ready for starting, but we
were obliged to leave many things behind, that would have been very
essential to the successful prosecution of all the objects of the
expedition; my specimen box, a cross-cut saw, pickaxes, and various other
articles which it was considered were too heavy to be carried on
horseback. We however took good care that not an ounce of provisions of
any description should be left behind. The sugar and tea were more
compactly packed than heretofore, and the packages in which they had
formerly been carried were left behind. Near this camp a large swamp
extended south-westward, but it was clear of scrub, containing nothing
but Melaleucas of moderate size.
Having loaded the horses, we started at eight o'clock this morning, in
good hope and high spirits, rejoicing to have got rid of one great
impediment to our progress. The blacks regarded us with curious interest
as we proceeded on our way, forming a train of twenty-six horses,
followed by the sheep, and Mitchell occasionally sounding a horn he had
brought with him.
We all felt the inconvenience of leaving the carts behind, and I in
particular. I was now obliged to make two strong bags to fit my specimen
boards, and to hang them over a horse's back, one bag on each side, a
very inconvenient method, as it rendered them liable to much damage going
through the scrub. The sheep at this time had grown very thin and poor,
not averaging more than thirty pounds when skinned and dressed; they had,
however, become so habituated to following the horses that they cost us
very little trouble in driving them.
After travelling about six miles through open forest land we camped near
a creek on the skirts of a thick scrub.
We were cutting through scrub all day, skirting numerous small creeks
which we met with here, most of them running to the eastward. The soil
was rather stiff, and indicated a rocky formation, blocks of granite
projecting from it in various directions.
July 20, 21, and 22.
During these three days we travelled over an irregular, mountainous
country, intersected by numerous creeks, running in every direction, but
all of them with belts of scrub on each side. We sometimes crossed the
same creeks two or three times a day, owing to the tortuous directions
they took, and our clothes were kept wet all the day; some of them too
had very steep banks, which presented another obstacle to the progress of
our horses. Between the creeks, small patches of open forest land
intervened, with large blocks of rock scattered over them; most of the
creeks had a rocky bottom, and were running to the eastward.
Sunday, we had prayers read as usual at eleven o'clock, and halted for
We resumed our journey through the same description of country, cutting
through scrub, and occasionally travelling through open land, timbered
principally with Moreton Bay ash, box, and flooded-gum, and covered with
very long grass. We crossed two creeks running to the northward, on the
side of the last of which we camped. We were here compelled to shoot one
of our horses, which had fallen lame. During the week we had made very
little progress, being forced to turn in every direction to avoid the
deep gulleys, and the scrub which invariably prevailed in the bends of
the creeks. A tribe of natives visited us at this camp, and appeared very
friendly; they did not stop with us long. I saw to-day several trees of
the white-apple, as we called it, and which I have before described.
We entered the scrub on the side of the creek, and proceeded along its
banks with difficulty, being obliged to cut our way through, but it grew
less dense after we had skirted the creek a short distance. We found the
creek to be the branch of a river, which here divided, one branch running
to the south-east (by which we had camped yesterday)the other running
east. It is rocky, and shallow where it divides, but grows deeper in its
course towards the coast. It is about two hundred yards wide, and its
banks are overhung with trees on each side. After following it about a
mile up, it grew much more shallow and narrow, and had a rocky bottom.
On the opposite side were patches of open forest ground, but they did not
extend to any distance. After skirting the river about three miles, we
crossed it in a shallow place, the bed of it being composed of blocks of
water-worn granite. The impediment offered by these blocks rendered it
very difficult for our horses to pass, although the water was only from
one to three feet deep. Several of the horses fell in crossing this
river; the one carrying my specimens fell three times, and my specimens
and seeds received much damage, if they were not entirely spoiled.
The river here runs from the north-west. We crossed it and entered the
scrub, but not being able to get through it before dark, we tied our
horses to trees, and slept by them all night.
We were cutting through scrub nearly all day, and having recrossed the
river, cut our way to the top of a high hill, which we could not avoid.
We found a patch of open ground on the hill, with grass for our horses
and sheep. The trees growing on the hill were casuarinas, and acacias,
with a few box-trees. Here we camped and tethered our horses, for fear
they should fall down the steep bank of the river. At the foot of the
hill, on the opposite side of this river, the rocks were of great height,
and almost perpendicular. The river runs through a range of hills coming
from the eastward, joining a very high range, over which our journey now
lay. This range is composed of a dark-coloured granite, very hard; near
the water was a vein of talc schist, running north-west and south-east.
On the top of the hill we found large pebbles of quartz.
This morning, having loosed our horses from the tether, one of them fell
down from the hill upon a ledge of hard rock at the edge of the river, a
descent of thirty feet; he was so much injured by the fall that he died
during the day. We came down the hill through the scrub towards the
mountains, and camped but a short distance from where we rested the
previous evening. We were now at the foot of the range.
Mr. Kennedy proceeded to explore the range, to ascertain the best spot to
cross it, it being covered with thick scrub. It runs from the southward
and turns eastward. I dug up a piece of ground here near the edge of the
scrub, and sowed seeds of cabbage, turnip, rock and water melons,
parsley, leek, pomegranate, cotton, and apple pips.
I here found a beautiful orchideous plant, with the habit of Bletia
tankervilliae, flowering in the same manner, with flower-stems about
three feet high, and from twelve to twenty flowers on each stem. The
sepals were much larger than those of Bletia, and of a rich purple
colour; the column yellow, with a spur at the base of the flower about
three-fourths of an inch long. I packed some of its thick fleshy roots in
a tin case. I also here obtained specimens of a beautiful Hovea, with
long lanceolate leaves, a much finer shrub than H. celsii. Also a species
of Hibiscus, with rough palmate leaves, large bright sulphur-coloured
flowers, with a rich purple spot at the base of each petal, the stamens
and stigma bright red, the blossoms when fully expanded eight inches in
circumference; the plant has a very erect habit. Also another Hibiscus,
with obcordate tomentose leaves, and pink flowers; both these last were
very handsome shrubs. The trees on the open ground were casuarinas and
flooded-gums, with a few Balfourias. Although we had a very difficult
task before us--the ascent of the hills-our spirits did not fail us; but
the horses began to look very poor and weak, although they had always had
plenty of grass.
Early this morning Mr. Kennedy, Jackey, and four others left the camp,
and began clearing a way up the mountain. They remained out the whole of
Mr. Kennedy and his party returned to the camp, having determined on a
route by which we should proceed up the mountain. Mr. Kennedy spoke very
highly of Jackey, and thought him one of the best men of the party for
cutting away scrub and choosing a path; he never seemed tired, and was
very careful to avoid deep gullies.
We started early this morning, and proceeded up a spur of the range, in a
north-westerly direction, but could not get so far as they had cleared.
We managed to get twenty-three horses and their loads up to a flat place
on the range, but, after several efforts, being unable to drive or lead
the other horse up, we left him tied to a tree in the scrub. We found him
all right the next morning, but as there was nothing but scrub before us,
Mr. Kennedy thought it prudent to send the horses back to where there was
grass and water for them, whilst some of the party cleared a path. After
we had entered the scrub, we crossed a small creek, running rapidly, and
which joined another running from the north-eastward, and which at their
junction, form the river we had been camped at for the last few previous
The creeks ran over precipitous rocky falls, and it was Mr. Kennedy's
opinion, that all the creeks we have met with on this side (coast side)
the range, run into the swamps, and there spread, and gathering again,
form into channels and run into Rockingham Bay. There is a large tract of
land opposite Rockingham Bay which is occupied by swamps, intersected by
patches of open ground, and a few peaked hills. The swamps extend about
forty-five miles, to about 145 degrees 20 minutes east longitude. It
seemed that a great deal of rain had fallen over this country, and it
rained at intervals all the time we were in the vicinity of Rockingham
Bay--from the 21st May to the middle of August. It was Mr. Kennedy's
opinion that the rainy season occurred very late this year. The whole
peninsula seemed to fall from the east towards the west.
Mitchell, Dunn, and myself, took the horses and sheep to grass and water,
and having hobbled the former, we made ourselves a small hut with
saplings, and covered it with a small tarpaulin. We divided the night
watch into three parts, being four hours each.
We mustered the horses morning and evening, and drove the sheep close to
the fire, having one of our kangaroo dogs chained up beside them, and the
other one with the sheep dog loose. We were apprehensive that the natives
might attack us.
Shortly after we had mustered the cattle this morning, seven or eight
natives appeared at the edge of the scrub, in the direction from which we
had come. Just as they approached, an Australian magpie perched upon a
tree, and I shot it to show the effect of our firearms. On hearing the
report of the gun they all ran into the scrub, and we saw them no more.
On all occasions it was Mr. Kennedy's order--not to fire on the blacks,
unless they molested us. I was anxious on this occasion not to let the
natives know how few we were, and was glad to send them away in so quiet
a manner. One of our sheep died this day, and as we had lost several
before, and had but little to employ us, we opened it to see if we could
ascertain the cause of its death. We found its entrails full of water.
Our party was now divided into three bodies: Mr. Kennedy, Jackey, and
four others, clearing a way up the mountain; Niblett and three others
guarding the stores; whilst myself, Dunn, and Mitchell, had charge of the
sheep and horses. It was necessary, therefore, for us to keep a good
lookout, and two of us watched together.
Early this morning a man came down to help us with the horses and sheep.
We loaded our horses, with the exception of one, which was too weak and
too much bruised from falling to travel. We turned him toward the open
ground, and having packed our horses went on till dark, when we tied our
horses to a tree and lay down for the night beside them, although it
rained all night. We had each of us a water can which held five pints,
which we filled, and our two water kegs, at the foot of the range,
fearing we might not find water in the journey over.
At daylight we were afoot and breakfasted, and started immediately after.
We travelled up the hills all day, but made very little progress, owing
to the great labour of clearing, and the numerous steep ascents we met
with. We fortunately found water in a low place, and with difficulty
lighted a fire, everything being saturated with rain. We then laid down
and endeavoured to sleep, but were unable to do so from the number of
small leeches which attacked us. I was obliged to get up several times in
the night, and in the morning I found myself covered with blood.
We started at daylight, although it was raining, and continued to do so
all day; about six o'clock in the evening we reached a small river,
running rapidly over rocks, and deep in some places. Its course was
north-easterly, but it turned north, a little below where we first came
upon it. We camped by the side of it, it being too late to cross,
although there was open forest ground on the other side. The open ground
on the coast side of the range was considerably lower than that on the
other, the highest part of our track being, according to Mr. Kennedy's
barometrical observations, upwards of two thousand feet above the level
of the sea. The soil was a strong loam of a dark colour, owing to the
admixture of a great deal of decomposed vegetable matter; rock projected
in many places, and in those parts where the rocks were near the surface,
Callitris (cypress pine) grew. In the deeper soil were large trees of the
genera Castanospermum, Lophostemon, and Cedrela, mingled with Achras
australis, Calamus (climbing palm), Seaforthia, Dicksonia, Osmunda, large
shrubs of Alyxia; several very interesting Orchideae were also found in
this place. We also discovered a great many snails, with very large
shells of a greyish colour. One I found on the bushes with an
operculum--this I gave to Wall.
This morning we took the sheep and horses to a spot in the river where
the current was not so strong, and drove them across. The sheep followed
the horses like dogs. We then cut down three small straight trees, and
made a bridge across a deep channel which ran between two rocks which
projected out of the water, across which we carried our stores on our
backs. All the things were got over before dark, after which we made a
large fire to dry ourselves, having been wet to the waist all day.
Niblett, who had been very unwell for three or four days, was taken much
worse to-day. The position of our camp here was about 17 degrees 48
minutes South latitude, 145 degrees 20 minutes East longitude. We this
day crossed the range, and prepared to commence our journey on the other
We remained this day at the camp to give the horses a rest after their
harrassing journey over the range.
Proceeding about five miles over uneven open forest ground, with isolated
blocks of rock, we camped by a chain of rocky waterholes. The trees
growing here were casuarina, box, apple-gum, and ironbark.
Sunday. Prayers as usual at eleven o'clock.
Complaint was made to Mr. Kennedy of the waste and extravagant use of the
flour and sugar by Niblett, who had the charge of the stores. Mr. Kennedy
immediately proceeded to examine the remainder of the stores, when he
found that Niblett had been making false returns of the stores issued
weekly. Up to this time Mr. Kennedy, Niblett, and Douglas (who waited on
Mr. Kennedy) had messed together, apart from the other ten. Niblett took
charge of the ration for the smaller mess, and usually cooked it himself,
the ration being taken out weekly from that weighed for the whole party.
Besides issuing a larger ration to his own mess, Niblett had taken a
great deal from the stores for himself.
On finding this out, Mr. Kennedy requested me to take charge of the
stores, and issue them to the cook for the week, and from this date we
all messed together. We had at this time about seven hundred pounds flour
left. Everything was weighed in the presence of the whole party before I
took charge, and I always weighed out every week's ration in the presence
of the cook and two other parties. At this camp it was found necessary to
reduce our ration to the following scale per week; fifty pounds flour,
twelve pounds sugar, two and three-quarter pounds tea, and the sheep as
before--one every second day. After the ration was cooked, it was divided
by the cook at every meal. We this day burned our sheepfold to lighten
our loads a little.
We were cutting through scrub nearly all day, and crossed several small
creeks running westward. This day the horse carrying my specimens had
become so poor and weak that he fell five different times, and we were
obliged to relieve him of his load, which was now placed on one of Mr.
Kennedy's horses; but we soon found that even without a load he could not
travel. We took off his saddle, bridle, and tether rope, and left him
behind on a spot of good grass, where plenty of water was to be found.
The country here had a rugged and broken appearance; huge blocks of rock
were lying on the open ground, sometimes one irregularly placed on the
top of another, and of curious shapes. The hills as well as the valleys
were generally covered with good grass, excepting in the scrub. On some
of the hills the rocks were shivered into irregular pieces, and displayed
crystals of quartz, small laminae of mica, and occasionally hornblende.
This evening we camped by the side of a fine casuarina creek, coming from
the north-east. Immediately over our camp its waters ran over a very hard
trap-rock of a black colour, the soil a stiff loam.
We travelled on for the most part of this day over irregular, barren,
stony ridges, and gullies, intersected by numerous small creeks, and
abounding in rocky holes, all containing plenty of water.
Two more of our horses fell several times this day; one of them being
very old, and so weak that we were obliged to lift him up. We now made up
our minds for the first time, to make our horses, when too weak to
travel, available for food; we therefore killed him, and took meat enough
from his carcass to serve our party for two days, and by this means we
saved a sheep. We boiled the heart, liver, and a piece of the meat to
serve us for our breakfast next day. We camped in the evening in the
midst of rocky, broken hills, covered with dwarf shrubs and stunted
gumtrees; the soil in which they grew appearing more sandy than what we
had yet passed on this side of the range. The shrubs here were Dodonaea,
Fabricia, Daviesia, Jacksonia, and two or three dwarf species of acacia,
one of which was very showy, about three feet high, with very small
oblong, sericeous phyllodia, and globular heads of bright yellow flowers,
produced in great abundance on axillary fascicles; also a very fine
leguminous shrub, bearing the habit and appearance of Callistachys, with
fine terminal spikes of purple decandrous flowers, with two small
bracteae on the foot-stalk of each flower, and with stipulate, oval,
lanceolate leaves, tomentose beneath, legumes small and flattened, three
to six-seeded, with an arillus as large as the seed; these were flowering
from four to twelve feet high. There was plenty of grass in the valleys
of the creeks. To the South-West on the hills the grasses were Restio,
Xerotes, and a spiny grass, which neither the horses nor the sheep would
This morning we commenced to prepare our breakfast of horse-flesh. I
confess we did not feel much appetite for the repast, and some would not
eat it at all; but our scruples soon gave way beneath the pangs of
hunger, and at supper every man of the party ate heartily of it, and
afterwards each one claimed his share of the mess with great avidity. The
country to the north and north-west--the course we intended to
pursue--looking very rugged and broken, we were discouraged from
proceeding further this day, as the weak state of our horses prevented us
making almost any progress. We therefore camped by the side of a small
rocky creek, winding through the mountains in all directions.
Shortly after starting this morning we crossed a creek, running
south-west, with a few arborescent Callistemons growing out of the rocks
here and there. The horse which Mr. Wall had been riding had grown so
weak that it was unable to travel, even with nothing to carry but the
saddle. As we were passing along the side of a hill, he fell and rolled
down into a gully. Being quite a young horse we thought he might regain
strength, and did not like to kill him, so we left him and proceeded to
find a good place for camping, which we did after travelling about four
miles in the north-west direction, by the side of a fine river, with
steep reedy banks, lined with large casuarinas and flooded-gum trees, and
abundance of grass growing in the valley of the river. At this camp the
feet of our horses were all carefully examined by Costigan, who was a
blacksmith: it was also his duty to mark the number of each of our camps
on some adjacent tree.
Wall rode back to see if he could bring up the horse we had left behind,
but on reaching the spot found him dead; one of our kangaroo-dogs had
also stopped behind by the horse, being unable to follow us to the camp.
We had the good luck to succeed in catching several fish in the river,
and, what was better, shot a fine wallaby, which saved us another sheep.
We had all along been particularly unfortunate in getting anything from
the bush to add to our mess, not having been able either to shoot or
catch anything for some time past except a few pigeons and two or three
The river by which we were camped was running west by south: below our
camp it was not nearly so wide as at the spot where we came upon it.
Where it turned through the hills its banks were rocky and steep, and the
bed narrow, but running rapidly. The hills here, as well as the valley of
the river, were well covered with grass. The position of the camp was
about 17 degrees 30 minutes south latitude, 145 degrees 12 minutes east
August 20, 21, and 22.
During the whole of these three days we travelled over undulating open
land, wooded pretty thickly with stringy-bark, box, and apple-gum,
interspersed with occasional sandy flats, producing a broad-leafed
Melaleuca, and a pretty species of Grevillea, with pinnatifid, silvery
leaves. Neither the Melaleuca nor the Grevillea grew more than twenty
feet high. On the flats we found a great number of ant-hills, remarkable
for their height and size; they were of various forms, but chiefly
conical, some of them rose ten feet high. From the appearance of the
ant-hills I should take the sub-soil to be of a reddish clay.
We camped by the side of a creek running to the westward, with rather a
broad bed, and steep banks of strong clay. There was no water in the
creeks except in holes.
A tribe of natives, from eighteen to twenty in number, were seen coming
down the creek, each carrying a large bundle of spears. Three of our
party left the camp and went towards them, carrying in their hands green
boughs, and making signs to the blacks to lay down their spears and come
to us. After making signals to them for some minutes, three or four of
them laid down their spears and approached us. I went back to the camp
and fetched a few fish-hooks, and a tin plate marked with Mr. Kennedy's
initials; having presented them with these they went away and appeared
quite friendly. Shortly after we had camped, Goddard and Jackey went out
for the purpose of shooting wallabies; they parted company at the base of
a hill, intending to go round and meet on the other side, but missing
each other, Jackey returned to the camp without his companion. To our
great alarm Goddard did not return all night, although we kept up a good
fire as a beacon to show him where we were camped, and fired a pistol
every five minutes during the night.
Three of our party, accompanied by Jackey, rode to the spot where the
latter had left Goddard on the previous day, intending, if possible, to
track him, and succeeded in doing so for some distance to the eastward,
but then coming to some stony ground, they lost the track.
They returned in about six hours, hoping to find him at the camp, but
were disappointed. We now began to fear that our companion was lost, and
poor Jackey displayed great uneasiness, fearing that he might be blamed
for leaving him, and repeatedly saying that he did not wish Goddard to
leave the camp at all, and that he had waited for him some time on the
opposite side of the hill, where they were to meet. Four fresh horses
were saddled, and Jackey, with Mr. Kennedy, Wall, and Mitchell, were just
on the point of starting to renew the search, when to our great joy we
observed him at a distance, approaching the camp. It would have been
sadly discouraging to the whole party to have lost one of our companions
in so wild and desolate a spot. We made but a short stage to-day in a
northerly direction, and camped by the side of a creek running west by
south, which, with the last two creeks we had passed, we doubted not,
from the appearance of the country, ran into the river we had crossed on
the 20th instant. The country appeared to fall considerably to the
westward. All the rivers and large creeks we had seen on this side the
range (that crossed on the 10th instant) rose in or near the coast range,
and appeared to run westerly across the peninsula into the Gulf of
Although few of them appeared to be constantly running, yet there is an
abundance of water to be found in holes and reaches of the rivers and
creeks. Where there was any scrub by the side of the creeks, it was
composed principally of the climbing palm (Calamus), Glyceria, Kennedya,
Mucuna, and a strong growing Ipomoea, with herbaceo-fibrous roots and
palmate leaves; and in a few places bamboos were growing.
The trees were, Eugenias, Terminalias, Castanospermums, with two or three
kinds of deciduous figs, bearing large bunches of yellowish fruit on the
trunks. Although we frequently partook of these figs I found they did not
agree with us; three or four of the party who frequently ate a great
quantity, although advised not to do so, suffered severely from pain in
the head and swelling of the eyes. The forest trees on the ironstone
ridges were stringy-bark, and on the grassy hills box, Moreton Bay ash,
and a tree belonging to the natural order Leguminosae, with axillary
racemes of white apetalous flowers, long, broad, flat, many-seeded
legumes, large, bipinnate leaves, leaflets oval, one inch long, and
having dark fissured bark; on the flat stiff soil grew ironbark,
apple-tree, and another species of Angophora, with long lanceolate
leaves, seed vessels as large as the egg of a common fowl and a smooth
This day being Sunday we had prayers at eleven o'clock. We saved the
blood of the sheep we had killed for today's food, and having cut up the
heart, liver, and kidneys, we mixed it all with a little flour and boiled
it for breakfast. By this means we made some small saving, and it was a
dish that we were very fond of. We saved all the wool that we could get
from our sheep, for the purpose of stuffing our saddles, a process which
was frequently required, owing to the poor condition of our horses.
We started early this morning, but had not travelled far when one of our
horses fell from weakness; we placed him on his legs four times during
the day, but finding the poor animal could not walk, we shot him and took
sufficient meat from him with us to last us two days. After making but a
short stage, over ironstone ridges, covered with stringy-bark, and loamy
flats, producing Melaleucas and Grevilleas, we camped beside a small
creek, in the sandy bed of which there was no water, but from which we
soon obtained some by digging a hole about two feet deep. We afterwards
found there was plenty of water in the creek higher up to the eastward.
We were obliged to leave another horse behind us this morning as he was
quite unable to travel. We camped by the sandy bed of a very broad river,
with water only in reaches and holes. There is, however, evidently a
great deal of water running here occasionally, as the bed of the river
was six or seven hundred yards wide, with two or three channels. The
flood-marks on the trees were fifteen feet high; it has a north-easterly
course; its bed was composed in places of large blocks of granite and
trap-rock, which was very difficult to walk upon, being very slippery.
Fine melaleucas were growing on each side, which with their long
pendulous shoots and narrow silvery leaves, afforded a fine shade from
the heat of the sun. There was plenty both of grass and water for the
horses, but most of them continued to grow weaker.
August 30 and 31.
The country was very mountainous and so full of deep gullies, that we
were frequently obliged to follow the course of a rocky creek, the
turnings of which were very intricate; to add to our difficulties, many
of the hills were covered with scrub so thickly that it was with much
difficulty that we could pursue our course through it. We had intended to
have kept along the bank of the river, thinking it might lead us to
Princess Charlotte's Bay, and although unable to do so, we did not as yet
lose sight of the river altogether.
All this day we continued travelling over very uneven country, full of
precipitous rocks and gullies, until we came to a bend of the river: we
now followed it in its tortuous course through the rocks, till we came to
a flat country where its channels were divided by high green banks, on
which were growing large drooping tea-trees (melaleucas); growing on
these I found a beautiful species of Loranthus, with large fascicles of
orange coloured flowers, the leaves cordate, and clasping the stem. On
the hills I found a Brachychiton, with crimson flowers; the tree had a
stunted growth, with deciduous leaves. I collected as much of the gum as
I could, and advised the others to do the same; we ate it with the
roasted seeds, but were unable to find much of the gum or of the seeds.
We travelled over uneven rocky ground, and crossed several gullies, and
camped by the bed of a river, at a spot where there were fine reaches of
water, full of Nymphaea and Villarsia. There was plenty of good grass in
the valley of the river, which was not very wide here, but on the hills
many parts had been recently burned, and the grass was just springing up.
Sunday. We had prayers at eleven o'clock, and afterwards, during the day,
we shot a small emu and a kangaroo. Being camped by the side of the
river, we were able to catch a few fish, which were a most acceptable
change to us.
The country through which we had passed for the last two days consisted
of a good stiff soil, well covered with grass, openly timbered and well
September 4 and 5.
The country continued much the same, making travelling most difficult and
laborious. We were now in the vicinity of Cape Tribulation. While
traversing the bed of the river, in which we were in many places obliged
to travel, we passed two very high peaked hills to the westward.
We now found the river beginning to run in all directions through the
hills, over which it was impossible to travel. We were consequently
forced to keep the bed of the river, our horses falling every few
minutes, in consequence of the slippery surface of the rocks over which
they were obliged to pass--consisting of dark granite.
The sterility of the hills here is much relieved by the bunches of
beautiful large yellow flowers of the Cochlospermum Gossypium,
interspersed with the large balls of white cotton, just bursting from the
seed-vessels. I collected a bag full of this cotton, wherewith to stuff
our pack-saddles, as our sheep did not supply us with wool enough for
that purpose. On these hills, too, I saw a beautiful Calythrix, with pink
flowers, and two or three very pretty dwarf acacias. As Mr. Kennedy and
myself were walking first of the party, looking out for the best path for
the horses to travel in, I fell with violence, and unfortunately broke
Mr. Kennedy's mountain barometer, which I carried. I also bruised one of
my fingers very much, by crushing it with my gun.
September 7 and 8.
We continued following the river through its westward course, through a
very mountainous country. On the hills I saw a very handsome Bauhinia, a
tree about twenty feet high, with spreading branches covered with
axillary fascicles of red flowers, long broad flat legumes, pinnate
leaves, leaflets oval, about one inch long; an Erythrina, with fine
racemes of orange-coloured flowers, with long narrow keel, and broad
vexillum, leaves palmate, and three to five lunate leaflets, long, round,
painted legumes, red seeds; also a rose-coloured Brachychiton, with
rather small flowers, a deciduous tree of stunted habit, about twenty
feet high. We also passed narrow belts of low sandy loam, covered with
Banksias, broad-leafed Melaleucas, and the orange-coloured Grevillea I
have before spoken of. On these flats we again met with large ant-hills,
six to ten feet high, and eight feet in circumference; the land at the
base was of a reddish colour.
We had a fine view of the surrounding country from the top of a high
hill, in the midst of a range over which we passed. To the west and round
to the south the country appeared to be fine undulating forest land,
intersected by numerous creeks and small rivers falling considerably to
the westward, as in fact all the water had been running for some days
past. Doubtless there must be plenty of water in the holes and reaches of
these rivers and creeks at all seasons, but in the rainy season many of
them must be deep and rapid streams, as the flood-marks on the trees were
from fifteen to twenty feet high. The river along the course of which we
had been so long travelling varied in width from two hundred to eight
hundred yards. It has two, or, in some places, three distinct channels,
and in the flat country through which it passes these are divided by
large drooping melaleucas.
It is singular that the country here should be so destitute of game; we
had seen a few wallabies and some ducks, but were seldom able to shoot
any of them; we had not seen more than four or five emus altogether since
we started; a few brown hawks which we occasionally shot, were almost the
only addition we were enabled to make to our small ration. To-day we got
an iguana and two ducks, which with the water in which our mutton was
boiled, would have made us a good pot of soup, had there been any
substance in the mutton. Even thin as it was, we were very glad to get
it. The rivers also seemed to contain but few fish, as we only caught a
few of two different kinds, one of which without scales, resembled the
catfish, caught near Sydney;* the other was a dark thick fish with
(*Footnote. Plotosus macrocephalus.)
Finding that the river continued running to the westward, and not as we
had hoped towards Princess Charlotte's Bay, we left it and turned in a
northerly direction, travelling over very rocky ridges covered with
cochlospermums and acacias, interspersed with occasional patches of open
forest land, and strewed with isolated blocks of course granite
containing crystals of quartz and laminae of white mica. Prayers as usual
at eleven o'clock.
We had not seen natives for several days, but this night, whilst one of
the party was keeping watch, a short distance from the fire, about eleven
o'clock, he heard the chattering of the blacks. Three spears were almost
immediately thrown into the camp and fell near the fire, but fortunately
without injuring any of the party. We fired a few shots in the direction
from which the spears came; the night being so dark that we could not see
them. We entertained fears that some of our horses might be speared, as
they were at some distance from the camp, but fortunately the blacks
offered us no further molestation.
September 11 and 12.
We pursued our northern course, the ground becoming very rotten; by the
sides of small creeks in sandy flats were belts of broad-leafed
Melaleucas and Grevilleas. We met with scrubs of Leptospermum, Fabricia,
and Dodonaea. By the creeks, when the ground was sandy, we saw Abrus
precatorius, and a small tree about fifteen feet high, with bi-pinnate
leaves, the leaflets very small, with long flat legumes containing ten or
twelve black and red seeds, like those of Abrus precatorius, but rather
September 13 and 14.
Most part of these days we travelled over a country of stiff soil,
covered with iron-bark, and divided at intervals by belts of sandy
ground, on which grew Banksias, Callitris, and a very pretty Lophostemon,
about twenty feet high, with long narrow lanceolate leaves, and a very
round bushy top. By the side of the small streams running through the
flat ground, I saw a curious herbaceous plant, with large pitchers at the
end of the leaves, like those of the common pitcher-plant (Nepenthes
distillatoria). It was too late in the season to find flowers, but the
flower-stems were about eighteen inches high, and the pitchers would hold
about a wine-glass full of water. This interesting and singular plant
very much attracted the attention of all our party.
We here fell in with a camp of natives. Immediately they saw us they ran
away from their camp, leaving behind them some half-cooked food,
consisting of the meal of some seeds (most likely Moreton Bay chestnuts)
which had been moistened, and laid in small irregular pieces on a flat
stone with a small fire beneath it. We took a part of this baked meal,
leaving behind some fish-hooks as payment. In the camp we also found a
considerable quantity of Pandanus fruit, which grows very plentifully
here. Although, however, it is sweet and pleasant to the taste, I found
that the natives did not eat largely of it, as it possessed very relaxing
qualities, and caused violent headache, with swelling beneath the eyes.
Some narrow belts of land we passed here betrayed indications of having
been frequently inundated by fresh water. The ground was very uneven,
full of small hillocks which were hidden by long grass, which caused our
weak horses to fall very frequently.
This day we had better travelling, the soil becoming a strong greyish
loam; the forest land open and free from scrub, the trees principally
consisting of iron-bark, box, and the leguminous tree, with bi-pinnate
leaves, and dark fissured bark I have before alluded to. We saw here a
great many pigeons of various kinds; Mr. Wall shot one pair of Geophaps
plumifera, which he preserved; also a pair of small pigeons of a greyish
colour, with red round the eyes, which he considered new. I also saw a
large tree and obtained specimens of it, belonging to the natural order
Bignoniaceae, with terminal spikes of yellow flowers, and rough cordate
leaves; and a Proteaceous plant with long compound racemes of white
flowers, and deeply cut leaves, resembling a tree with true pinnate
leaves. The large-seeded Angophora mentioned by me before, also grew in
About ten o'clock we came upon the banks of a very fine river, with a
very broad bed, and steep banks on both sides. No doubt this was the
river we had seen to the eastward from our camp on the 9th instant. Mr.
Kennedy considered this stream to rise somewhere near Cape Tribulation,
and after running northward about thirty miles, to turn to the
south-west, the way it was running when we came upon it. In this place it
appeared a fine deep river, and we followed it in its south-west course,
at a short distance from its banks, for six or seven miles. The
south-east bank was, for the last three or four miles we traced it,
covered with a narrow belt of scrub, composed of Flagellaria, Jasminum,
Phyllanthus, and a rambling plant, belonging to the natural order
Verbenaceae, with terminal spikes of white, sweet-scented flowers. The
trees were principally Castanospermum, Melia, Rulingia, and
Sarcocephalus, and a beautiful tree belonging to the natural order
Bombaceae, probably to the genus Eriodendron, with large spreading
branches, which, as well as the trunk, were covered with spines. These
trees are from thirty to fifty feet in height, and produce large crimson
campanulate flowers, composed of five large stiff petals, about two
inches long; stamens numerous, all joining at the base, and divided again
into five parcels; the filaments are the same length as the petals; five
cleft stigma; large five-celled capsule, many-seeded cells, the seeds
being wrapped in a white silky cotton. This tree was deciduous, the
leaves being palmate, and grew on stiff soil: its large crimson flowers
attracted universal admiration.
We crossed the river at a spot where its banks were not so steep, and
where there was but from one to three feet of water; in some places the
bottom was sandy and in others rocky, but we could see rock only in the
bed of the river. We camped on the side of the river, on some recently
burned grass; five of the party went fishing a short distance up the
river, and caught a few fish. The country here to the west and the
south-west was open undulating forest land, which had been burned some
short time before, and the grass just growing again, formed beautiful
feed for our horses and sheep.
Towards evening about six or eight natives made their appearance, on the
same side of the river as our camp; when about two hundred yards from us
they shipped their spears in their throwing-sticks, and with other
warlike gestures gradually drew near to us, making a great noise,
doubtless thinking to frighten us. There being a wide deep gully between
the natives and our camp, we drew up along the edge of it, with our
firearms all ready to give them a warm reception should they endeavour to
approach to closer hostilities. We endeavoured to make them understand
that our intentions were friendly, and that we wished them to be
peaceable; but they seemed to construe our signals to make them
comprehend this, into indications of fear on our part; this increased
their courage, and strengthened their determination to drive us away if
possible, although they would not come within reach of our guns. We
however fired at them, and although none were hurt, they appeared much
frightened at the report of the firearms. They left us and went in the
direction taken by the five of our party who had gone fishing, and for
the safety of whom we began to be alarmed; our fears were increased, by
hearing the report of a gun a few minutes afterwards. It seemed they had
seen our party fishing by the side of the river, and instantly ran at
them, to attack them; but one of the party placed on the bank as a
lookout, fired at them as they came up, just as they were preparing to
throw their spears, on which they turned their backs, and took to flight
as fast as they could.
This morning after breakfast, Mitchell and myself took two horses and
re-crossed the river. We went about two miles back to a spot where I had
seen some Portulaca, intending to bring some of it back to the camp to
boil as a vegetable, it being the only description of food of the kind
that we had been able to obtain throughout our journey. We filled a bag
with it and returned to the camp, when I found half a damper, one meal's
bread had been stolen from the stores during my absence. This was not the
first theft of the kind that had been committed, and it was found
necessary to watch the provisions night and day. Mr. Kennedy was anxious
to discover the thief in this instance, as it was stolen in open daylight
while Mr. Kennedy himself was keeping a lookout in his tent, not twenty
yards from where the provisions were stolen; every man's load was
searched, but in vain, and Mr. Kennedy, knowing that a party left the
camp for the purpose of fishing a short distance up the river, and
another party a few yards down the river to wash some clothes--took
Jackey with him, who, by detecting some crumbs on the ground, discovered
that the damper had been eaten at the place where the clothes were
So careless were some of the party of the fatal consequences of our
provisions being consumed before we arrived at Cape York, that as soon as
we camped and the horses were unpacked, it was necessary that all the
provisions should be deposited together on a tarpaulin, and that I should
be near them by day and by night, so that I could not leave the camp at
all, unless Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Wall undertook to watch the stores. I was
obliged to watch the food whilst cooking; it was taken out of the boiler
in the presence of myself and two or three others, and placed in the
stores till morning.
It was seldom that I could go to bed before nine or ten o'clock at night,
and I had to be up at four in the morning to see our tea made and
sweetened, and our breakfast served out by daylight. The meals we cut up
in thirteen parts, as nearly equal as possible, and one person touched
each part in succession; whilst another person, with his back turned,
called out the names of the party, the person named taking the part
touched. The scrupulous exactness we were obliged to practise with
respect to our provisions was increased by our misfortune in getting next
to nothing to assist our scanty ration; while the extreme labour to which
we were subjected increased our appetites. Two of the party always went
out at daylight to fetch the horses in, and it was necessary we should
start at early morning on account of the great heat in the middle of the
day. We always endeavoured to make a fair stage by ten o'clock, and then,
if in a convenient place, to halt: sometimes we were obliged to halt at
nine o'clock, but we started again generally about three or four o'clock
P.M., and travelled on till six.
Twelve or fourteen natives made their appearance at the camp this
evening, in the same direction as on the previous day. Each one was armed
with a large bundle of spears, and with boomerangs. Their bodies were
painted with a yellowish earth, which with their warlike gestures, made
them look very ferocious. The grass in the position they had taken up was
very long and very dry, quite up to the edge of the gully; they set it on
fire in three or four places, and the wind blowing from them to us, it
burned very rapidly. Thinking we should be frightened at this display
they followed the fire with their spears shipped, making a most hideous
noise, and with the most savage gestures. Knowing the fire could not
reach us, as there was nothing to burn on our side the gully, we drew up
towards them with our firearms prepared. They approached near enough to
throw three spears into our camp, one of which went quite through one of
our tents. No one was hurt, but a few of our party fired at them; we
could not tell whether any were wounded, as they disappeared almost
immediately. We kept three on watch this night for fear of the natives.
September 17 to 21.
Leaving the river, we turned north-west, and had occasionally fair
travelling over stiff soil, intersected by many creeks, most of them dry,
but were everywhere able to find water at intervals of a few miles. We
passed over some ironstone ridges, and rocky hills, covered with
Callitris, Cochlospermum, and Sterculias. On the stiff soil the trees
were ironbark, box, apple-gum, and some large acacias, with long
lanceolate phyllodia, and large spikes of golden-coloured flowers. The
grass here in the valleys between the hills had been burned, and was
grown up again about eight or ten inches high.
We crossed a creek running eastward, overhung by Melaleucas and
arborescent callistemons, with plenty of grass on both sides; the soil
appeared to become more sandy than that over which we had hitherto
We proceeded in our course, travelling over sandy ridges covered with
Eugenia, Exocarpus, and a very pretty Eucalyptus, with rose-coloured
flowers and obcordate leaves, and yellow soft bark, also a dwarfish tree
with dark green leaves, and axillary racemes of round monospermons, fruit
of a purple colour, with a thin rind of a bitter flavour; also a great
many trees of moderate size, from fifteen to twenty feet high, of rather
pendulous habit, oval lanceolate exstipulate leaves, loaded with an
oblong yellow fruit, having a rough stone inside; the part covering the
stone has, when ripe, a mealy appearance, and very good flavour. I
considered from its appearance it was the fruit which Leichhardt called
the nonda, which we always afterwards called it; we all ate plentifully
The weather for the last few days had been very hot, the thermometer
ranging in the shade from 95 to 100 degrees at noon; still there was
generally a breeze in the morning from the eastward, and in the evening
from the west. We camped by the same creek as on the previous day, but in
our present position it was running South-West, with several lagoons in
the valley, full of Nymphaea and Villarsia; our latitude here was 15
degrees 33 minutes south.
We crossed the creek and proceeded northward, till we camped by a dry
creek, from the bed of which we obtained water by digging. During the
day's journey, we passed over some flats of rotten honeycomb ground, on
which nothing was growing but a few stunted shrubs, and a blue herbaceous
plant belonging to the order Boragineae. We also passed over other sandy
flats covered with broad-leafed Melaleucas and Grevillias, and a few
Banksias. On these flats ant-hills occurred, and in their vicinity there
was seldom much grass. The grasses generally growing there were annual
kinds. It was Mr. Kennedy's opinion that the creek we crossed this
morning joined the river we left on the 16th, and formed the Mitchell,
although the country hereabouts did not resemble the banks of the
Mitchell, as described by Leichhardt; but the appearance of the country
varies so much every few miles, particularly to the westward, that it is
impossible to support an opposite opinion on this ground.
As three of the horses could not be found this morning, four men were
left behind to search for them while the rest of the party travelled on.
They had not come up with us at about four o'clock, and being anxious to
find water before dark, we proceeded along a narrow open valley covered
with long grass and large pandanus trees, skirted on each side by rather
scrubby forest land. At dark we reached a large waterhole. One of the men
left behind shortly arrived, and stated that the rest had halted for the
night. Mr. Kennedy being anxious to bring all the horses to water, and to
have the party together, sent me back to conduct them to the camp, which
I very soon did, even though it was dark, the track being very plain. We
collected a great many nondas to-day and baked some of them with our
bread, which was the only way we could eat them cooked; they were much
better fresh from the trees, but we found them rather astringent. Spring,
our best kangaroo dog, was unable to come up to the camp this day, being
overpowered by the heat of the sun, a circumstance we all regretted, as
he was a most excellent watchdog.
We travelled a good stage this morning before we found water--in a sandy
creek, where the country seemed to fall slightly to the north-east. We
still hoped to find a river running into Princess Charlotte's Bay.
We proceeded North-East over alternating sandy ridges and marshy flats;
the latter, though dry where we passed over them, presented the
appearance of being generally inundated. We camped by the side of a rocky
creek, containing very little water.
Just as we were about to start this morning, two natives, carrying a
bundle of reeds and a basket, passed within a short distance of our camp,
and seemed to take no notice of us. Our sheep were not to be found,
having rambled to a distance: although without a sheepfold, this was the
first instance in which the sheep had strayed; they generally remained by
the fire, towards which they were driven at night, till morning.
We had never seen a wild native dog during the journey. Our dog that we
had left behind came into the camp to-night, very much exhausted, having
travelled about thirty miles; he must have subsisted on nondas, as it was
impossible he could have caught anything, and we had seen him eat them
before. He died the following morning.
After travelling a short distance we crossed a small river running
eastward: for some distance down it, the water was brackish, and at
spring-tide the salt water came up to our camp; but we obtained good
water from a small lagoon near the camp. We proceeded over a large plain
well covered with good grass, the soil stiff clay. We proceeded about
five or six miles on this plain, turning westward towards a lagoon
surrounded by Stravadiums and a few very large palms. We hoped to find
water in it, but it was dry, and fearing we should not be able to reach
water before dark if we proceeded in this direction, we thought it better
to return to our camp.
We had prayers this day as usual on Sundays, at eleven o'clock. We saw
native fires at a distance to the north-east of our camp, but the natives
did not come near us. I went up what we fancied was the river by which we
had camped, but found it only a creek; but it had plenty of water in it
at this season. There were several small lagoons near it. There were
large drooping tea-trees (Melaleucas) growing on its banks, and large
palm trees, of the same kind as those I had seen in the plain the day
before, and which were by far the finest palms I had ever seen; the
trunks were not very high, from fifteen to thirty feet in height, but
very large in bulk, varying from six to eight feet in circumference: they
had large fan-shaped leaves, with slightly curved spines on the
footstalk. It is a dioecious palm, the female plants bearing an immense
quantity of round fruit, about the size of a greengage plum, of a purple
colour, and rather disagreeable flavour; the pulp covering the seed was
very oily, and not a leaf to be seen on any of the fruit-bearing plants;
the whole top consists of branches full of ripe and unripe seeds. Bushels
of seeds were lying beneath some of the trees, it seeming that but few
were eaten by birds or small animals. One of our party suffered severely
from eating too freely of them as they brought on diarrhoea. I measured
two or three of the leaves of the male plants, and those not of the
largest size, and found them to measure six feet in the widest part, and
four feet and half in the narrowest. These leaves were split by the wind
into segments of various widths. The grass growing to the westward of our
camp was not so high as that to the eastward, and appeared to consist of
a larger proportion of annual grasses, the perennial grass growing only
in tufts; near the river it was covered with an annual Ipomoea, of very
strong growth; the leaves and blossoms were withered, but I obtained
seeds. We shot three ducks to-day, and Wall killed a wallaby of a light
grey colour, long soft fur, and rather bushy tail; he thought it new, and
preserved the skin. I also obtained specimens of a beautiful plant, a
shrub about two feet high, with white sweet-scented blossoms, belonging
to the natural order Rubiaceae, and several other interesting plants.
Lately, however, my specimens had been very much spoiled, being torn from
the horse's back so frequently, that I grew disheartened to see all the
efforts I had made, made in vain, although I still took every method to
preserve them from injury.
This morning we proceeded across the plain, and when we had advanced
about two miles upon it, we discovered that the natives had set the grass
on fire behind us, and the wind blowing from the eastward, and the grass
growing thick and high, it rapidly gained upon us; we made all possible
haste to some burned ground which we had seen on Saturday, and reached it
only a few minutes before the fire. We were enveloped in smoke and ashes,
but fortunately no one was burned. The natives did not come near us,
although no doubt they watched us, and saw us proceeding to the part of
the plain that was burned. The plain extended a great distance to the
westward, and in crossing it one of our horses knocked up and could
travel no longer; Mr. Kennedy ordered him to be bled, and we not liking
to lose the blood, boiled it as a blood-pudding with a little flour, and
in the situation we were, we enjoyed it very much.
We killed the horse this morning as he was not able to stand, and dried
the meat to carry with us; we made a small stage of saplings on which to
dry the meat, which was cut off close to the bone as clean as possible,
and then cut in thin slices, and laid on the stage in the sun to dry, and
the sun being very hot, it dried well; the heart, liver, and kidneys were
parboiled, and cut up fine, and mixed with the blood of the horse and
about three pounds of flour; they made four puddings, with which, after
they had boiled about four hours, we satisfied our appetites better than
we had been able to do for some time: it was served up in the same manner
as our usual rations, in equal parts, and each man had a right to reserve
a portion of his mess till the next day, but very little was saved. Mr.
Kennedy found that it was even necessary to have the horseflesh watched
whilst drying, finding that two or three of the party had secreted small
quantities amongst their clothes; such precautions were quite necessary,
as well in justice to the whole of the party, as to keep up the strength
of all, which seemed to be very fast declining. At night we made a fire
to smoke the meat, and to destroy the maggots, which were very numerous
in it; we packed the meat in empty flour bags.
We proceeded northward over small sandy plains, covered with annual
grass, which was now very much withered, and through belts of dwarf bushy
Melaleucas and Banksias. We were not far from Princess Charlotte's Bay,
Jane's Table Land being in sight. We came to the side of a salt lagoon,
very nearly dry; we found it covered with salt, of which we took about 20
pounds, which was as much as we could carry, but even this was a very
seasonable help; we rubbed about two pounds of it into our meat. We
encamped by a small creek, but the water was brackish, and not being able
to find any other we were obliged to make use of it. One of our horses
was slightly hurt by a stump of a mangrove tree. All we got from the
horse we last killed was sixty-five pounds of meat.
October 5 and 6.
We travelled over sandy soil, but with little grass, meeting frequently
with salt lagoons, surrounded by various salsolaceous plants. Near the
edge of a saltwater creek we found a native camp, composed of about seven
or eight huts, curiously and neatly built of a conical form; all very
nearly of the same size, about five and a half feet in diameter at the
base, and six and a half feet high. They were made by placing saplings in
the ground in a slanting position, which were tied together at the top
and woven inside like wickerwork, with strips of small bamboo canes. The
whole was then covered with palm leaves, over which was a coating of
tea-tree bark, very neatly fastened by strips of cane. They were
substantially built, and would no doubt keep out the wet effectually.
They seemed to be occupied by the natives only in the rainy season, as,
from their appearance, they had not been inhabited for some time. I
entered one of them through a small arched opening of about twenty inches
or two feet high, and found three or four nets, made with thin strips of
cane, about five feet long, with an opening of about eight inches in
diameter at one end, getting gradually smaller for about four feet, where
there was a small opening into a large round sort of basket. These nets
were laid by the natives in narrow channels to catch fish, as well as in
the tracks of small animals, such as rats and bandicoots, for the purpose
of trapping them. There were also some pieces of glass bottle in the hut,
carefully wrapped in bark and placed in a very neat basket, made in the
shape of a lady's reticule. The glass is used by the natives in marking
themselves: all of them being scarred on the arms and breast, while some
were marked on the cheeks and forehead.
In the camp we thus discovered were small stone ovens, similar to those
we had found in the camp at Rockingham Bay, as well as one with a large
flat stone raised six or eight inches from the ground, and a fireplace of
loose stones beneath. Near to one of the tents was a large stone hollowed
out in the middle, and two or three round pebbles for pounding dried
October 7 and 8.
Flat sandy ground, with occasional patches of scrub, composed of bushy
Melaleucas, Hibiscus, Banksia, and several rambling plants, with a few
large palms scattered in places; there was not much grass, except at
This morning we came to a river, running into Princess Charlotte's Bay,
in latitude 14 degrees 30 minutes South, longitude 143 degrees 56
minutes. It was deep, and about 100 yards wide, the water salt, and the
tide was flowing up fast, and the banks were high. A few scattered
mangroves, and a leguminous tree, with rough cordate leaves, and large
one or two-seeded legumes, were growing on the banks. We were obliged to
turn southerly for a short distance, and found what we had fancied to be
a river to be only a small creek. We crossed it about twelve or fourteen
miles from the sea, but the water was brackish. The trees on the sandy
ground were broad-leafed Melaleucas, Grevilleas, and nondas, and by the
waterholes which we occasionally saw, were Stravadiums and drooping
Melaleucas. I also saw a species of Stravadium with racemes of white
flowers, much longer than the others, with leaves ten inches long by four
inches broad, and the trees thirty feet high. Keeping at a distance from
the sea-coast to avoid the saltwater creeks, and to obtain good grass for
our horses, we halted in the middle of the day, and were visited by a
great many natives, coming in all directions, and making a great noise.
They appeared to have been collecting nondas, as a great many of their
women were carrying large basketfuls away. After the women were out of
sight they made signs to us to go away. We got our horses together, and
endeavoured to make them friendly, but our entreaties were disregarded,
and the presents we offered them were treated with contempt. When we
found they would not allow us to come near them, we packed our horses and
prepared to start. They followed us at some distance, continually
throwing spears after us for some time; one was thrown into the thigh of
a horse, but fortunately not being barbed it was taken out, and the horse
was not much injured. We then rode after them in two or three directions
and fired at them, and they left us, and we saw no more of them.
To-day, when halting in a place where there was no water, but good grass,
a tribe of natives made their appearance, and appeared disposed to be
friendly. We carefully collected our horses, and shortly after the
natives drew near to us. We made them presents of a few fish-hooks and
tin plates, and made signs to them that we wanted water. Several of them
ran off, and in a few minutes returned with water in a vessel (if it may
be so called) composed of pieces of bark tied together at each end, and
they continued going backwards and forwards until they had brought enough
to fill our cans, besides what we drank. They left us quite quietly.
We proceeded along the creek by which we had encamped the night before;
the water was brackish. We attempted to go through some mangroves to the
beach, but did not succeed.
Jackey, Taylor, and myself took three horses, and tried to get to the
beach more to the northward than yesterday. We passed through a belt of
mangroves, where the ground was pretty firm, the tide coming up only
occasionally; we then proceeded along a sandy ridge to the northward,
when we found it succeeded by a saltwater lagoon, surrounded by
salsolaceous plants and mangroves, which it was impossible to get
through. We returned to our camp, and here Mr. Kennedy abandoned the
thought of going to the beach, as he felt sure H.M.S. Bramble (which was
to have met us at the beginning of August) would have gone; our journey
having occupied so much longer time than we could have possibly
anticipated. This consideration, combined with the great difficulty which
seemed likely to ensue in obtaining water and feed for our horses,
determined him to take a different direction.
We had prayers as usual this day, being Sunday, at 11 o'clock; today we
finished the consumption of all our sugar, except a very small quantity,
which was reserved for any particular case of sickness.
This morning a horse fell into a rocky waterhole, and finding it
impossible to get him out alive, we killed him, and cured the flesh as
before, drying it in the sun on a stage; the blood, heart, and liver
furnished us with a good day's food. Our meat being well dried by five
o'clock in the afternoon, we sprinkled some salt upon it, and put it in
bags for the convenience of carrying. We left one of our round tents, and
such other things as we could possibly spare behind us at the camp, as
our horses were now so weak they could not carry their loads.
October 17 and 18.
Our travelling was very uneven, our horses giving us continual trouble
from their frequent falls; we had a few narrow belts of scrub to cut
through, but they were not very thick.
Several of our horses were now quite unable to carry anything but the
saddle; we passed through open forest land, with a light soil, sub-soil
clay, with isolated blocks of granite rock scattered about. We encamped
by a rocky creek, with water in holes only; it ran westerly, and had
fresh green feed on each side, the grass having been burned shortly
before, and now growing up again.
We passed over a piece of stiff ground about two miles in extent, which
appeared to have been the scene of a devastating hurricane. It was
covered with fallen timber, which rendered it very difficult to cross.
The wind must have swept from the south-west to the north-east, and from
the appearance of the saplings which were growing from the stumps of some
of the trees which had been broken, this terrific storm appeared to have
taken place about two years ago. Not a tree had been left standing in the
part where we crossed, nor could we tell how far the devastation had
extended to the south-west; but the ground to the north and east being
swampy, and covered only with small Melaleucas and Banksias, the wind had
not taken much effect. Many of the trees in the middle of the fallen
timber measured two feet in diameter. Some were torn up by the roots, and
the trunks of others were snapped off at various heights from the ground.
The latitude of our camp here was 13 degrees 35 minutes South.
We killed another of our horses to-day, as he was too weak to stand.
We got our meat well dried to-day, and having smoked it a little, packed
it as before. Our stock of flour was now reduced to two hundred pounds
weight, and many of the men growing very weak, we were obliged to
increase our weekly ration a little. Three of the party, Douglas, Taylor,
and Costigan, were suffering from diarrhoea, in consequence of having
eaten too freely of the pandanus fruit. Their spirits began to fail them,
and they frequently complained despairingly to Mr. Kennedy that they
should never be able to reach Cape York. Although our horses were so very
weak, these men were obliged to ride, being quite unable to walk far at a
time. The country before us was very mountainous, but between the hills
we found plenty of grass and water: to the south the whole country
appeared to be on fire.
October 23 to 25.
We travelled during these days over a rocky mountainous country,
interspersed with deep gullies and creeks, fringed with belts of scrub.
In these scrubs I saw the white-apple and the crimson scitamineous plant
seen near Rockingham Bay; scattered over the country were a few cedar
trees and Moreton Bay chestnuts, and some very fine timber trees
belonging to the natural order Myrtaceae, upwards of sixty feet high, and
three to four feet in diameter, with fine straight trunks.
October 26 to 28.
We travelled over stony hills, the tops of which were occasionally
composed of white flint (?), with rusty veins running through it. On the
sides of the hills were broken rocks containing mica, hornblende, and
crystals of quartz. The grass on these hills had all been newly burned.
Sunday; prayers at eleven o'clock. We this day shot three small
wallabies, which were a great treat to us.
This day Luff was taken very lame, being seized with severe pain and
stiffness in the right leg; he was quite unable to walk, so we burned the
other two round tents to enable him to ride.
November 1 and 2.
We again had to kill a horse which was too weak, and disposed of it as we
had our former ones.
We were cutting through scrub all day, intersected by deep gullies and
rocky hills; we crossed a small river, with very uneven rocky bottom,
about three feet deep; where we crossed it, it was running southerly, and
as there had been a heavy storm a few days previously, the current was
rapid; five of our horses fell in crossing it--the one carrying my
specimens in a very bad place; we were obliged to cut the girths, and
before I could secure his load two bags of seeds were washed away; we
tied our horses to trees, and encamped in a thick bamboo scrub by the
side of the river.
This morning Jackey went to examine a scrub through which we wanted to
pass, and while out, shot a fine cassowary; it was very dark and heavy,
not so long on the leg as the common emu, and had a larger body, shorter
neck, with a large red, stiff, horny comb on its head; Mr. Wall skinned
it, but from the many difficulties with which he had to contend, the skin
was spoiled before it could be properly preserved.
We travelled a short distance to the top of a hill, from which Jackey had
seen grass from a tree. We were obliged to kill another horse to-day, and
cured the flesh as usual.
We were compelled to shoot two other horses to day, and as we had no
other means of taking the meat with us, we skinned one of them, and made
the skin into bags, in which we each carried a few pounds of meat on our
November 7 and 8.
We were travelling these two days over very rough rocky ground,
intersected with gullies and belts of scrub.
We were obliged this morning to start without our breakfast, having no
bread baked, and being unable to find water. We followed the course of a
creek at the foot of a low range of hills running northward, the range
being to the westward. In the evening we found water in the creek.
We proceeded along the valley of the creek, which was very uneven, and
full of small hillocks. Near the spot where we camped a great number of
Pandanus trees were growing. On each side of the creek there were a few
scattered trees and a thick scrub to the westward. The soil was stiff,
with plenty of grass in the valley.
Mr. Kennedy, here, finding from the weak state of some of the men, that
it would be impossible for us to reach Cape York before our provisions
were exhausted, resolved to form an advance party, consisting of himself,
Jackey, Costigan, Luff, and Dunn.
We had but nine horses left, of which number it was proposed that they
should take seven, and proceed to Cape York as quickly as possible, to
obtain provisions for the rest of the party from the vessel waiting with
supplies for our homeward journey.
We proceeded along the valley a short distance, with the view of forming
our depot as near to Weymouth Bay as possible. We crossed the creek where
it turned eastward, on a kind of bank, which intercepted its course, up
to which, from the east, the tide came sometimes, so that on that side
the creek the water was brackish, but very good water was obtainable on
the other side the bank.
After we had camped, we killed our last sheep, and Mr. Kennedy proceeded
to the top of a high hill to view the country over which he would have to
pass. Shortly after his return to the camp several natives made their
appearance, to whom we made a present of a tin plate and a few
fish-hooks, which made them quite friendly. While they were looking at
us, a great many brown hawks came hovering over the camp. Wall and Jackey
shot fourteen or fifteen of them, in the presence of the natives, who
retired to the edge of the scrub, and seemed very much surprised to see
the hawks fall as soon as they heard the report of the guns. They went
into the scrub at dark, but a good watch was kept all night; though the
natives did not again make their appearance. One of our dogs killed a
young dog belonging to the natives during the night, which I afterwards
ascertained was eaten by Dunn, Luff, Costigan, and Goddard.
Sunday: prayers at eleven; Jackey and I went to the beach to see if we
could find any salt, as our stock was getting very low, but we could not
succeed in finding any.
This morning everything was prepared for the departure of Mr. Kennedy and
his party, and the last of our mutton was served out equally to each of
Mr. Kennedy gave me written instructions how to act during our stay at
Weymouth Bay, it being his intention to send for us by water, if
possible, as he expected to meet H.M.S. Bramble at Port Albany. He
calculated that he should be from ten to fifteen days before he reached
that place, and directed me to keep a sharp lookout from the hill for a
vessel; and should I see one, to hoist a flag on the hill. If the natives
were friendly I was to put a ball beneath the flag, and above it should
they be hostile. In the evening I was to fire three rockets, at intervals
of about twenty minutes.
The party left at the depot under my charge were eight in number. The
provisions consisted of two horses and twenty-eight pounds of flour, the
former being very poor and weak.
Not knowing whether he could send for us by water or not, Mr. Kennedy
directed me to make my provisions last at least six weeks, saying that it
was possible I might get relief fourteen days after his departure, and to
keep a very sharp lookout after that time.
I packed up all the dried meat we had left (75 pounds) and 18 pounds of
flour for Mr. Kennedy to take with him, and about one pound of tea was
divided between the two parties. These, with their firearms, and a few
necessaries of a light description, were all the party took with them.
Mr. Kennedy requested me to register the height of the thermometer during
my stay at the Bay. The whole of the party left at the camp were very
weak, Luff being the weakest man that proceeded with the party to Cape
Before leaving Mr. Kennedy told me that he expected to meet with some
difficulties for the first few days, from the nature of the country he
had seen from the hill. I did not mention this to the rest of the party,
for fear it might still further tend to depress their spirits, as three
or four of them even now seemed to despair of ever reaching our
destination. I did all in my power to keep them in good heart, but they
were saddened and depressed from long suffering.
We removed our camp back across the creek to the side of the high bare
hill on which I was to hoist a flag, and from which I could look out for
a vessel. It also afforded us a security from the natives, as we could
see them at a greater distance. The latitude of this camp was 12 degrees
35 minutes South.
And thus we settled down in the spot which was to be the burial place of
so many of our party--which was fated to be the scene of so much intense
suffering, and of such heart-sickening hope deferred. Wearied out by long
endurance of trials that would have tried the courage and shaken the
fortitude of the strongest, a sort of sluggish indifference prevailed,
that prevented the development of those active energies which were so
necessary to support us in our critical position. The duties of our camp
were performed as if by habit, and knowing how utterly useless complaint
must be, the men seldom repined aloud.
We killed the smallest horse early this morning, and had all the meat cut
up and on the stage to dry by nine o'clock. I made the blood, heart,
liver, kidneys, and tripe last us three days, as they would not keep
longer, and we mixed our allowance of flour with them. We had no salt to
season them with, as all our salt was required to put in the blood to
prevent it turning sour. The heat during this day was very great, the
thermometer at noon in the shade standing at 110 degrees. Douglas was
very weak. The natives came this afternoon, but did not stay long.
The natives this day brought us a few small pieces of fish, but they were
old and hardly eatable. I would not allow them to come near the camp, but
made signs to them to sit down at a distance, and when they had done so I
went to them and distributed a few fish-hooks. Douglas died this morning,
and we buried him at dusk when the natives were gone, and I read the
funeral service over him. He was the first of our party we had lost, and
his death, the sad precursor of so many more, cast an additional gloom
The natives came and brought some of their gins (women) with them. They
would only allow one of us at a time to go near them. The women wore very
neatly fringed girdles hanging loose about their loins, and shaded
themselves with large fan-palm leaves. The girdles were made of the
leaves of the Cordyline. Both men and women were very stout, strong,
well-made people--some of the men standing six feet high. They brought us
some fish, which they called mingii, but it was such as they would not
even eat themselves; also a kind of paste, made of different kinds of
leaves and roots, mixed with the inside of the roasted mangrove seeds,
all pounded up together, then heated over a fire in a large shell. This
paste they call dakiaa.* Although we did not much like the taste of the
paste, and it was very full of sand, we ate some of it as a vegetable.
(*Footnote. This is identical with the biyu of Cape York. See Volume 2.)
This morning about fifty or sixty natives, all strongly armed with
spears, made their appearance, and by their gestures and manner it was
quite evident they intended to attack us if opportunity offered. As we
always kept our firearms in readiness, we stood out in a line, with our
guns in our hands. I made signs to them to keep back, but they pretended
not to understand us, holding up pieces of fish, crying out mingii,
mingii (fish, fish) to induce us to come for them, but their designs upon
us were too transparent for that. They kept us standing a good while, for
I was anxious to refrain from firing on them if possible, and at length
they left us without any actually hostile demonstration. Being Sunday, I
read prayers to-day.
Taylor died this morning, and we buried him in the evening, by the side
of Douglas, and I read the funeral service over him.
About sixty natives came to the camp this morning, well armed with
spears, and pieces of fish, which they held up to us, to entice us to
come to them. We took no notice, however, of their invitations, but
preparing our firearms, we turned out. They were now closing round us in
all directions, many of them with their spears in their throwing-sticks,
ready for use--pointing them to their own necks and sides, and showing us
by their postures how we should writhe with pain when they struck us.
Then they would change their tactics and again endeavour to persuade us
that they meant us no harm, but they would not lay down their spears.
Some of them seemed inclined to go away, but others appeared determined
to attack us. After keeping us standing about an hour, eleven spears were
thrown at us. Three of my party then fired, slightly wounding one of
them, when they all immediately ran away as fast as they could. Some of
them, however, remained hovering in sight for some time after. Three of
the spears that were thrown fell short of us, the rest passing very
close, but fortunately no one was hurt; the three spears which passed us
were barbed with bone, and were very heavy.
Carpenter died this morning; the poor fellow did not suffer acutely on
the approach of death, but the animal energies were destroyed, and they
withered away one after another, without pain or struggle. At eleven
o'clock, being Sunday, I read prayers, and in the evening we buried our
late companion in the bed of the creek, and I read the funeral service
over him. The natives came again this morning, leaving their spears at a
distance, and brought us a few small fish; but remembering their former
treachery, we took very little notice of them and showed them they could
only expect kind treatment from us, so long as they themselves continued
peaceable. During the last few days we shot a few pigeons and parrots,
also a small blue heron.
We killed another horse this morning, and had the meat all cut up and on
the stage by nine o'clock, with all the appearance of a fine day to dry
it. But about eleven o'clock a heavy thunderstorm came on, and it rained
all day. I kept a fire burning near the stage all night.
We were very uneasy at the continued wet weather, as it threatened to
destroy the scanty remains of our provision, the flesh already beginning
to smell very badly.
It was raining heavily all day, and our meat became almost putrid.
This day a fresh breeze blew, and there was no rain; I cut up all the
meat that would hold together into thin slices, but a great deal of it
was quite rotten. The blood-puddings, tripe, feet, and bones, lasted us
till this day. I saved the hide of this horse for ourselves, the other I
had fed our dogs on; Mr. Kennedy having requested me to keep them alive
if possible, so that we had to spare a little from our scanty meals for
The wind was blowing strong from the south-east this morning. On going up
the hill in the afternoon I saw a schooner from the northward beating to
the southward. I supposed her to be the Bramble, as it was about the time
Mr. Kennedy had given me expectation of being relieved by water, and I
afterwards found I was right in this supposition.
I naturally concluded she had come for us; and full of hope and joy I
immediately hoisted a flag on a staff we had previously erected, on a
part of the hill where it could be seen from any part of the bay. We
placed a ball above the flag to put the crew on their guard against the
natives. We then collected a quantity of wood, and at dusk lighted a
fire, and kept it burning till about half-past seven or eight o'clock. I
then fired off three rockets one after the other, at intervals of about
twenty minutes. I also took a large pistol up the hill, and stood for
some time firing it as quickly as I could load it, thinking they might
perhaps see the flash of that, if they had not seen the rockets.
Early this morning I was up, straining my eyes to catch a view of the
bay, and at length saw the schooner standing in to the shore; and during
the forenoon a boat was lowered. I now made quite certain they were
coming for us, and thinking they might come up the creek in the boat for
some distance, I hastened down the hill, and began to pack up a few
things, determined to keep them waiting for our luggage no longer than I
could help. I looked anxiously for them all the afternoon, wondering much
at their delay in coming, until at last I went up the hill, just in time
to see the schooner passing the bay. I cannot describe the feeling of
despair and desolation which I in common with the rest of our party
experienced as we gazed on the vessel as she fast faded from our view. On
the very brink of starvation and death--death in the lone wilderness,
peopled only with the savage denizens of the forest, who even then were
thirsting for our blood--hope, sure and certain hope, had for one brief
moment gladdened our hearts with the consoling assurance, that after our
many trials, and protracted sufferings, we were again about to find
comfort and safety. But the bright expectancy faded; and although we
strove to persuade ourselves that the vessel was not the Bramble, our
hearts sank within us in deep despondency.
We yesterday finished our scanty remnant of flour; and our little store
of meat, which we had been able to dry, could have but very little
nourishment in it. Goddard and I went to the beach and got a bag of
shellfish, but found it very difficult to get back to the camp through
the mangroves, we were in so weak a state.
This day I took Mitchell with me to the beach, and procured another bag
of shellfish. During the last few days we shot a very small wallaby and
three or four Torres Strait pigeons. These afforded us some relief, as
our horse-flesh was so very bitter, that nothing but unendurable hunger
could have induced us to eat it. A number of small brown beetles were
generated from it, which ate it, and we were also much annoyed by flies.
We all suffered more or less from bad eyes.
The natives visited us this morning, and brought with them a few pieces
of turtles' entrails and a few nondas. I gave them an old shirt and a
knife, the latter of which was highly prized by them. They call turtle
mallii, and the sun youmboll. Goddard had a fit of ague to-day, followed
We all of us had fits of ague this morning, and none of us could get up
till the afternoon, when, being Sunday, I read prayers.
The natives came this morning, and brought us a little vegetable paste,
and some pieces of turtles' entrails, with some sharks' liver. The latter
was fresh, but one could not eat it, as it all melted into a yellowish
oil, when boiled for a few minutes. I gave them a few fish-hooks, but
found it very difficult to get them to leave the camp.
This morning Mitchell was found dead by the side of the creek, with his
feet in the water. He must have gone down at night to get water, but too
much exhausted to perform his task, had sat down and died there. None of
us being strong enough to dig a grave for him, we sewed the body in a
blanket, with a few stones to sink it, and then put it into the brackish
The thermometer fell this morning and was broken. It was raining heavily
all day, and two bags of my seeds, and several other little things, were
washed out of the tent by the water which ran down the hill. We were all
very ill and weak.
It was raining this morning, and we remained in the tent. Hearing one of
our dogs barking, however, I went out and saw several natives with pieces
of fish and turtle, which I took from them, when they left us. The
natives also brought us some roasted nymphaea roots, which they call
dillii. During the last few days we shot seven pigeons. Wall and Goddard
used to go into the scrub and sit beneath a tree, to which they used to
come for berries to feed their young, and watching their opportunity,
Our kangaroo dog being very weak, and unable to catch anything, we
killed, and lived on him for two days. There was very little flesh on his
bones, but our dried meat was so bad, that we very much enjoyed the
remains of our old companion, and drank the water in which we boiled him.
The natives took a tin case from Wall whilst he was talking to them, he
not being able to resist them. My legs had swelled very much, and I was
able to walk but a very short distance.
The natives brought us a few pieces of fish and turtle, but both were
almost rotten; they also gave us a blue-tongued lizard, which I opened
and took out eleven young ones, which we roasted and ate. There was
nothing but scales on the old one, except in its tail.
We always equally divided whatever we got from the natives, be it what it
might; but they brought us very little that was eatable. I could easily
perceive that their pretended good feeling towards us was assumed for the
sake of fulfilling their own designs upon us. Although they tried to make
us believe they were doing all in their power to benefit us, their object
was to obtain an opportunity of coming upon us by surprise and destroying
us. They had at many times seen the fatal effects of our firearms, and I
believe that it was only the dread of these, that prevented them from
falling upon us at once, and murdering us. They were a much finer race of
men than the natives we had seen at Rockingham Bay, most of the men being
from five feet ten to six feet high. The general characteristics of the
race were different from those of the other aborigines I had ever seen,
and I imagined that they might be an admixture of the Australian tribes
and the Malays, or Murray Islanders. Some of them had large bushy
whiskers, with no hair on their chins or upper lips, having the
appearance of being regularly shaved. It would be almost impossible for
any class of men to excel these fellows in the scheming and versatile
cunning with which they strove to disguise their meditated treachery. In
fine weather I always had our firearms standing out for them to see, and
once or twice every night I fired off a pistol, to let them know we were
on the lookout by night as well as by day.
Niblett and Wall both died this morning; Niblett was quite dead when I
got up, and Wall, though alive, was unable to speak; they were neither of
them up the day previous. I had been talking with them both, endeavouring
to encourage them to hope on to the last, but sickness, privation, and
fatigue had overcome them, and they abandoned themselves to a calm and
listless despair. We had got two pigeons the day before, which in the
evening were boiled and divided between us, as well as the water they
were boiled in. Niblett had eaten his pigeon, and drank the water, but
Wall had only drank the water and eaten part of his half pigeon. About
eleven o'clock, as many as fifty natives, armed with spears, and some of
them painted with a yellowish earth, made their appearance in the
vicinity of our camp. There were natives of several strange tribes
amongst them. They were well aware that neither Niblett nor Wall was able
to resist them, if they did not know they were dead. They also knew that
we were very weak, although I always endeavoured as much as possible to
keep that fact from them. This morning when I made signs to them to lay
down their spears they paid no attention, with the exception of two, who
had been in the habit of coming very frequently to the camp. These two
came running up quite close to us, without their spears, and endeavoured
to persuade one of us to go across a small dry creek, for a fish which
another of the rascals was holding up to tempt us. They tried various
methods to draw our attention from the rest, who were trailing their
spears along the ground, with their feet, closing gradually round us, and
running from tree to tree, to hide their spears behind them. Others lay
on their backs on the long grass, and were working their way towards us,
unnoticed, as they supposed. Goddard and myself stood with our guns in
readiness and our pistols by our sides for about two hours, when I fell
from excessive weakness. When I got up we thought it best to send them
away at once, or stand our chance of being speared in the attempt, both
of us being unable to stand any longer. We presented our guns at the two
by our side, making signs to them to send the others away, or we would
shoot them immediately. This they did, and they ran off in all directions
without a spear being thrown or a shot fired. We had many times tried to
catch fish in the creek during our stay at Weymouth Bay, with our fishing
lines, but never could get as much as a bite at the bait.
As the evening came on, there came with it the painful task of removing
the bodies of our unfortunate companions who had died in the morning. We
had not strength to make the smallest hole in the ground as a grave; but
after great exertion we succeeded in removing the bodies to a small patch
of phyllanthus scrub, about four feet high, and eighty yards from the
tent. We then laid them side by side, and covered them with a few small
branches, and this was all the burial we were enabled to give them.
Goddard went into the scrub, and shot three pigeons. We ate one of them
at night, and the others we reserved till next day. Our bowels were
greatly relaxed, which was partly stayed by eating a few nondas, which we
The six weeks having expired, which Mr. Kennedy had led me to expect
would be the longest period we should have to wait, I now began to fear
the rainy season had set in, and filled the creeks to the northward, so
that his party had been unable to cross them, or that some untoward
accident had happened, which prevented us being relieved.
I did not quite despair, but I knew that we could not live long. Our shot
was almost consumed, not having more than eight or ten charges left, and
although we had plenty of ball, we were too weak to attempt to form any
plan to make shot. Our sole remaining companion, the sheepdog, I intended
to kill in a day or two, but he would not last long, as he was nothing
but skin and bone.
Early this morning we ate the two pigeons left yesterday, and boiled each
a quart of tea, from the leaves we had left; but we had not had any fresh
tea to put into the pot for some time. Goddard then went into the bush,
to try to get another pigeon or two, and if the natives made their
appearance, I was to fire a pistol to recall him to the camp. After he
had been gone, I saw natives coming toward the camp, and I immediately
fired a pistol; but before Goddard could return they came into the camp,
and handed me a piece of paper, very much dirtied and torn. I was sure,
from the first, by their manner, that there was a vessel in the Bay. The
paper was a note to me from Captain Dobson, of the schooner Ariel, but it
was so dirtied and torn that I could only read part of it.
For a minute or two I was almost senseless with the joy which the hope of
our deliverance inspired. I made the natives a few presents, and gave
them a note to Captain Dobson, which I made them easily understand I
wanted them to take to that gentleman. I was in hopes they would then
have gone, but I soon found they had other intentions. A great many
natives were coming from all quarters well armed with spears. I had given
a shirt to the one who had brought the note, and put it on him; but I saw
him throw down the note and pull off the shirt, and picking up his spear
he joined the rest, who were preparing to attack us. We were expecting
every moment to be attacked and murdered by these savages, our newly
awakened hope already beginning to fail, when we saw Captain Dobson and
Dr. Vallack, accompanied by Jackey and a man named Barrett (who had been
wounded a few days before in the arm by a barbed spear) approaching
towards us, across the creek. I and my companion, who was preserved with
me, must ever be grateful for the prompt courage with which these
persons, at the risk of their own lives, came to our assistance, through
the scrub and mangroves, a distance of about three miles, surrounded as
they were all the way by a large number of armed natives.
I was reduced almost to a skeleton. The elbow bone of my right arm was
through the skin, as also the bone of my right hip. My legs also were
swollen to an enormous size. Goddard walked to the boat, but I could not
do so without the assistance of Captain Dobson and Dr. Vallack, and I had
to be carried altogether a part of the distance. The others, Jackey and
Barrett, kept a lookout for the blacks. We were unable to bring many
things from the camp. The principal were, the firearms and one parcel of
my seeds, which I had managed to keep dry, containing eighty-seven
species. All my specimens were left behind, which I regretted very much:
for though much injured, the collection contained specimens of very
beautiful trees, shrubs, and orchideae. I could also only secure an
abstract of my journal, except that portion of it from 13th November to
30th December, which I have in full. My original journal, with a
botanical work which had been kindly lent me by a friend in Sydney for
the expedition, was left behind. We got safely on board the Ariel; and
after a very long passage, arrived in Sydney.
I am confident that no man could have done more for the safety of the
party than was done by Mr. Kennedy, nor could any man have exerted
himself more than he, in the most distressing circumstances of our
perilous journey. He walked by far the greater part of the distance,
giving his own horses for the use of the weak men, and the general
service of the expedition. I never rode but two hours all through the
journey, and that was on two successive days when we were in the vicinity
of Cape Sidmouth, and I was suffering from bad feet.
The unfortunate death of our brave and generous leader, deeply and
extensively as I know it to have been lamented, can have no more sincere
mourner than myself.
The tale of his sufferings and those of his party has already been read
and sympathised over by hundreds, and it would ill become me to add
anything to the artless narrative of the faithful and true-hearted
Jackey, who having tended his last moments, and closed his eyes, was the
first, perhaps the most disinterested, bewailer of his unhappy fate.