Australia Twice Traversed, by Ernest Giles

Chapter 5.5. From 23rd August to 20th September, 1876.

Depart for the south. Arrive at Beltana. Camels returned to their depot. The Blinman Mine. A dinner. Coach journey to the Burra-Burra Mines. A banquet and address. Rail to Adelaide. Reception at the Town Hall. A last address. Party disbanded. Remarks. The end.

Being among such good friends at the Peake, we naturally remained a few days before we left for Adelaide; nothing remarkable occurred on the road down. At Beltana the camels were returned to their depot. The Blinman Copper Mine is about thirty miles from there, and was then, the terminus of the mail coach line from Adelaide. The residents of the Blinman invited Alec Ross and myself to a dinner, presided over by my very good friend Mr. J.B. Buttfield, the Resident Police Magistrate. Then we all took the mail coach, and reached the Burra-Burra Copper Mines, on the evening of the next day. Here a banquet was held in our honour, at which a number of ladies attended, and I was presented with a very handsome address. The Burra Mines are a hundred miles from Adelaide.

Next day we took the train for the city. At the town of Gawler, or, as it used to be called, Gawlertown, twenty-five miles from the metropolis, a number of gentlemen were assembled to welcome us on the platform. Our healths were drank in champagne, and an address presented to me. Pursuing our journey, Adelaide was reached by midday. A number of people were waiting the arrival of the train, and when we alighted we were welcomed with cheers. Carriages were in attendance to take us to the Town Hall, where we were welcomed by Caleb Peacock, Esquire, the Mayor — who first invited us to refreshments, and then presented us to the citizens, who were crowded in the large hall. Mr. Peacock made a very eloquent and eulogistic speech, and presented me with a very handsome address on behalf of himself, the Corporation, and the citizens of Adelaide. The next day the party was disbanded, and the expedition was at an end.

A few closing remarks, I suppose I may make. We again joined the great family of civilised mankind; and if I have any readers who have followed my story throughout its five separate phases, I may account myself fortunate indeed. A long array of tautological detail is inseparable from the records of Australian, as well as any other exploration, because it must be remembered that others, who come after, must be guided by the experiences and led to places, and waters, that the first traveller discovers; and am I to be blamed if I have occasionally mixed up my narrative with an odd remark, anecdote, or imaginative idea? These, I trust, will not in my reader's opinion detract from any merits it may possess. I have collected many thousands of plants and hundreds of entomological and geological specimens; a great portion of the list of the former and all of the latter have unfortunately been lost, only a list of plants collected during my first and second expeditions now remains, which appears at the end of these volumes.

It is with regret I have had to record the existence of such large areas of desert land encountered in my travels in Australia. The emigrant, however, need have no fear on that account. The scenes of his avocations will be far removed from them. They are no more a check to emigration now than fifty years ago. As a final remark, I may say my former companion in the field, Mr. W.H. Tietkens, has just returned from a fresh exploration of the country in the vicinity of Lake Amadeus, and the report of his travels should be looked forward to with pleasure by all who take any interest in our Colonial dependencies.

If my narrative has no other recommendation, it may at least serve to while away a vacant hour, and remind my readers of something better, they have read before. It was not for what I had written, that I hoped to reap the good opinion of the world, but for what I have done, and that I have recorded. Any one who is sufficiently interested to read these pages, may well understand the trials and dangers that have beset my path. The number of miles of previously unknown country that I have explored reaches to the sum of many thousands. The time I expended was five of the best years of my life. As a recognition of my labours, I have received the Patron's Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society of London; and the late King Victor Emanuel sent me a decoration and diploma of Knighthood, of the Order of the Crown of Italy.

To a man accustomed to camels for exploration, the beautiful horse sinks into the insignificance of a pigmy when compared to his majestic rival, the mighty ship of the desert, and assuredly had it not been for these creatures and their marvellous powers, I never could have performed the three last journeys which complete my public explorations in Australia.

I have called my book The Romance of Exploration; the romance is in the chivalry of the achievement of difficult and dangerous, if not almost impossible, tasks. Should I again be called on to enter the Field of Discovery, although to scenes remote from my former Australian sphere, I should not be the explorer I have represented myself in these pages, if, even remembering the perils of my former adventures, I should shrink from facing new. An explorer is an explorer from love, and it is nature, not art, that makes him so.

The history of Australian exploration, though not yet quite complete, is now so far advanced towards its end, that only minor details now are wanting, to fill the volume up; and though I shall not attempt to rank myself amongst the first or greatest, yet I think I have reason to call myself, the last of the Australian explorers.

As a last remark, I may say the following lines may convey some of my real feelings towards:—

AUSTRALIA.

What though no hist'ries old,

Rest o'er that land of gold;

And though no bard has told

Tales, of her clime:

What though no tow'r display,

Man's work of other days;

And, though her sun's bright rays

In the old time;

Gleam'd on no mighty fanes,

Built by the toiling pains

Of slaves, in galling chains,

In the earth's prime.

Hers is a new bright land;

By God's divine command,

Where each industr'us hand,

Willing to toil;

What though no song records,

Deeds of her martial hordes,

Who made, with conquering swords,

Heroes sublime.

Gathers the fruits of peace,

Gathers the golden fleece,

And the fair earth's increase,

From the rich soil.

Hers is a flow'ry crown;

Science and Hope look down

On each new glitt'ring town,

Whose structures rise;

And to Time's latest age,

Hers shall, the brightest page,

Written by bard or sage,

Be, 'neath the skies.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 19:14