Journals of Two Expeditions into the Interior of New South Wales, by John Oxley


Part II.

No. IV.

Diary of Mr. Evans, Deputy Surveyor General, from the 8th, to the 18th of July 1818.

Wednesday, July 8. — Left Mount Harris about nine o’clock. For six miles the country tolerably good; afterwards, to the end of my day’s journey, it was alternately acacia pendula scrubs, and cypress brushes; the soil light, and full of holes; abundance of water, but, latterly, no grass. In the evening halted on the bank of a gully, having gone about twelve miles. Mount Harris bearing 8. 35. W.

July 9. — Set forward at eight o’clock, and continued travelling until five in the afternoon, chiefly through very thick brushes, consisting of various shrubs, with casuarina and dwarf box trees; the country nearly a marsh and almost impassable, so much so, that I had great difficulty in keeping my course, being the greater part of the day up to our knees in water.

I estimate my distance this day to be about fifteen miles, on a north-east course.

July 10. — The country worse than yesterday, being exceeding low and marshy, with many thick scrubs. About eleven o’clock it opened, being more thinly clothed with the acacia pendula: having travelled about ten miles, we arrived on the borders of a large apparent plain, on which I had proceeded about two miles, when we were suddenly stopped by deep water among reeds; from hence I could distinctly see Arbuthnot’s Range, the north end of which bore N. 101., and the other part connected by a low range bore from N. 108 to N. 112.

The country from north-west to north-east was open with the horizon, being covered with water and reeds, as far as the eye could distinguish; we saw immense numbers of wild ducks, many black swans, pelicans, and birds resembling the sea gannet: I altered my course to east, and shortly afterwards to south-east.

I estimate the distance travelled this day to be eighteen miles. Being rather late, we were much at a loss to find a place dry enough to sleep on: the north end of Arbuthnot’s Range bore N. 98.

July 11. — Finding our efforts to travel in any direction north of east useless, I altered my course for the north end of Arbuthnot’s Range. The country continuing nearly as yesterday, brushes and marshes alternately, having gone about twelve miles, the last quarter of a mile of which was at an almost imperceptible rise above the general level, I came to the edge of a river, the stream of which was thirty or fort yards wide, but the bed nearly one hundred yards, the banks being eight or nine feet high: I forded it in the middle of a very long reach bearing north and south, the stream clear, and running gently from the south, about three feet deep, over a fine sandy bottom. After crossing this river, I proceeded onwards about four miles, and halted on the edge of a brush, having travelled sixteen or seventeen miles.

July 12. — After proceeding about four miles, we crossed a small stream from the south-east; the country perfectly level, not a perceptible rise in any direction, save Arbuthnot’s Range: the space travelled over to-day was a complete marsh, the soil good, being clearly alluvial. It will be impossible for heavy loaded horses to walk over the country, traversed by us these last three days; the trouble we have had is more than can well be imagined. Travelled fifteen miles.

July 13. — A very cold morning, set off at sunrise: at the sixth mile arrived on an open plain, over which was rather better travelling than we had latterly experienced. Finding it unlikely that we should reach the range, at least in time to view the country from it, I thought it best, as I had no time to spare, to keep more southerly for a lofty eminence about two miles distant, and apparently of easy ascent: this mount afforded me a most extensive prospect. The south extreme of Arbuthnot’s Range bore south, the north extreme N. 20. E, then trends more easterly. Westerly of the hill on which I stood and the range, the country is a perfect level, without the slightest apparent rise or inequality; what I could see of the country to the south-east, appeared to be very broken and rugged, detached rocks projecting like pillars and pyramids, in various parts of the ranges; there was a number of native fires about the base of the range, and we saw plenty of kangaroos, for the first time since quitting Mount Harris: I also this day shot a new species of pigeon. The distance travelled, I suppose sixteen or seventeen miles.

July 14. — Set forward on my return to the tents in a south-west direction, and passed, for four or five miles, through a good open forest country, abounding with kangaroos: after passing that, the country altered for the worse, becoming low and wet: at twelve miles, we crossed a chain of ponds leading to the north.

Last evening we suspected that we had been watched by the natives. I saw some of them, and our resting-place was surrounded by their smokes; they however did not attempt to molest us. Stopped in an acacia pendula brush, having travelled about twenty miles.

July 15. — It came on to rain in the night, and continued all this day. Our journey was dreadfully bad and marshy; yet on the whole the country had a better aspect, not being so much overrun with the plant called atriplex as usual. On my track out, plains, brushes, indeed almost the entire surface was covered with it, until within a few miles of Arbuthnot’s Range. After going about three miles, we again fell in with and forded the river crossed on the 11th instant: it was here not quite so wide as when first seen, but deeper. Halted, having gone about ten miles.

July 16. — I altered my course from south-west to west, 80 degrees south, and had an extremely tedious and unpleasant day’s journey, through a wet and dreary country; continued rain. Travelled fifteen miles.

July 18. — Arrived at the hut about one o’clock, p.m., having travelled yesterday and to-day about thirty-seven miles.

(Signed) G. W. EVANS.

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