Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia, by Thomas Mitchell

Preface.

“Admiring Nature in her wildest grace,”1 it has ever been the most attractive of the author’s duties to explore the interior of Australia. There the philosopher may look for facts; the painter and the poet for original studies and ideas; the naturalist for additional knowledge; and the historian might begin at a beginning. The traveller there seeks in vain for the remains of cities, temples, or towers; but he is amply compensated by objects that tell not of decay but of healthful progress and hope; — of a wonderful past, and of a promising future. Curiosity alone may attract us into the mysterious recesses of regions still unknown; but a still deeper interest attaches to those regions, now that the rapid increase of the most industrious and, may we add most deserving people on earth, suggests that the land there has been reserved by the Almighty for their use.

1 [Burns.]

In Australia, the great family of civilized man seems still at that early period between history and fable, upon which, even in “the world as known to the ancients,” the Roman poet had to look very far back:—

“Communemque priùs, ceu lumina solis et auras, Cautus humum longo signavit limite mensor.”2

2 [Ovid, Met. lib. i.]

The Journey narrated in this work was undertaken for the extension of arrangements depending on physical geography. It completes a series of internal surveys, radiating from Sydney towards the west, the south, and the north, which have occupied the author’s chief attention during the last twenty years; and, as on former occasions, it has enabled him to bring under the notice of men of science some of the earth’s productions hitherto unknown. He cannot sufficiently express his sense of obligation in this respect, to Mr. Bentham, Sir William Hooker, Dr. Lindley, and Professor De Vriese, for supplying the botanical matter and notes contained in this volume, and thus contributing to the general stock of human knowledge. It is also his pleasing duty to state, that during the long journey of upwards of a year, Captain P. P. King, R. N., kept a register of the state of the barometer at the sea side; and, in the midst of his important avocations, determined, by a very elaborate comparison of minute details, all the heights of localities herein mentioned.

The new geographical matter is presented to the public with confidence in its accuracy, derived as it is from careful and frequent observations of latitude; trigonometrical surveying with the theodolite, whereever heights were available; and, by actual measurement of the line of route. This route was connected, at its commencement and termination, with the trigonometrical survey of the colony; and, in closing on Mount Riddell, a survey extending two degrees within the tropics, the near coincidence of his intersections with that summit, as fixed by his survey of 1830, could not but be very satisfactory to the author.

The geological specimens collected during this journey have been deposited in the British Museum, and their original locality is shown on the maps by the numbers marked upon the specimens, so that they may be available to geologists; hence, in the progress of geological science, the fossils now brought from these remote regions will be accessible at any future time, and something known of the geology as well as of the geography of the interior. As Professor Forbes most readily undertook to describe the freshwater shells after the work had passed through the press, that portion of the collection also has thus been brought under the notice of geologists.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/mitchell/thomas/tropical/preface1.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:09