Narrative of an expedition undertaken for the exploration of the country lying between Rockingham Bay and Cape York, by William Carron

Chapter 2

As I may now consider our expedition as fairly begun, it may, for the sake of clearness and arrangement, be advisable to continue my narrative in the form of a journal; detailing from day to day, the various occurrences which took place.

It must be remembered, however, that in narrating the particulars of our journey, I am obliged to trust largely to memory, and to very imperfect memoranda; and to these difficulties must I refer, in excuse for the defects, with which I am well aware this narrative abounds.

Up to the present time, the whole of the party, and especially its unfortunate leader, had remained in good spirits, and, buoyed up with sanguine hopes of success, were eager to set out on their pilgrimage of discovery.

June 5. — We breakfasted at an early hour this morning, and proceeded at once to harness our horses to the carts, three to each cart. The carts contained about seven hundred weight each. This business having been completed, and the pack-horses saddled and laded, we started at nine o’clock A.M., and proceeded along the beach. Mr. Kennedy and Jackey rode in front, followed by the three carts. Wall, riding one horse and leading two pack-horses, next Goddard, Douglas, Mitchell, and Dunn, leading three pack-horses, Niblet in the rear, riding one and leading two horses, followed by Carpenter driving the sheep, and myself on foot, carrying Mr. Kennedy’s mountain barometer, which he had given into my charge during the journey; and I was also to take the time for that gentleman, in his observations.

After travelling in this order about two miles, we came to a large river, emptying itself into Rockingham Bay. This river was about one hundred and fifty yards wide, and although the tide ran up it about a mile, fresh water was procurable from it considerably nearer the sea.

At nearly high-water I tasted fresh water on one side of the river, and salt on the other, and about two hours after high-water, there was no difficulty in obtaining plenty of excellent water on either side of the river, in different places. There is a great deal of fresh water running into the sea here. and at the same distance from the sea as the mouth of the river, it is in some places mixed with salt water, whilst in others it is quite fresh. The banks of this river are low and sandy, and a short distance above where we joined it, it is skirted on either side by a thick mangrove swamp. for the distance of about a mile, where it joins the fresh water swamps, covered with thick scrub. On my proceeding up the river, it became narrower in its channel as it approached the swamps, from which it appeared to be principally supplied. It had a tortuous course. and when I left it, was turning to the Westward.

A boat was sent to us by Captain Stanley, of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, to assist us in carrying our stores across, which we effected with some difficulty by ten o’clock, P.M., the horses and some of the sheep swimming across. while the remainder of the latter were taken in the boat.

We pitched Mr. Kennedy’s tent on sand, at the side of the river, and it being dark. and not knowing where to obtain water on that side of the river, I and five others recrossed it, and went back about three quarters of a mile, to a small creek running parallel to the beach. We filled our kegs, and returned to the camp in time to have supper by twelve o’clock, after which we rolled ourselves in our blankets, and. wearied by the fatigues we had undergone, slept soundly till daylight.

This was a very harassing day to us, as we were all constantly in the water, loading and unloading the boat. It is but just to state, that Captain Stanley, of the Rattlesnake, both in landing our horses and stores, and in crossing this river, rendered us every assistance in his power, and seemed throughout to take a strong interest in the expedition, and its object.

While landing our things at the other side the river, the natives assembled in great numbers about our luggage. As they appeared friendly, we permitted them to come within about 150 yards of our landing place; with some few we had a little difficulty, but for the most part they would sit down quietly as soon as a sign was made for them to do so.

June 6. — Early this morning Lieutenant Simpson, of the Rattlesnake, left us, he having stayed all night at the camp, and we were now left entirely to our own resources. We loaded our carts and pack-horses, and proceeded about three miles inland, but again finding it impossible to cross the swamps, we returned to the beach, and about dusk came to another river, also emptying itself into Rockingham Bay, about two miles south-west of the first we had to cross. This river was much wider than the first, being about two hundred yards wide where we crossed it near the mouth. At the mouth of this river is a sand-bank, over which the water is about four feet deep. Inside the bank the water is about ten feet deep. The tide flows up for about a mile; there appears to be a great quantity of fresh water discharged into the sea from this river, which, I think, is principally supplied from the swamps. These swamps lie at the foot of a high mountain range, and probably the rivulets descending from the range spread over the flat ground, and form channels by which they reach the sea. Fresh water can be obtained on either side the river very near the sea. I tasted fresh water on one side, salt in the middle. and slightly brackish on the other side, as we crossed over it. Small boats only can enter this river, on account of the sand-bank at the mouth. Its course turned to the south-west about two miles up. Its banks were sandy and barren, at least close to the river; on the north side of the river there is a mangrove swamp, extending some distance up the river; on the south side the banks are higher, and are covered with CASUARINAS and ACACIAS, the soil being sandy and pretty well covered with grass, the land slightly undulating, for about one and a-half or two miles up the river. It being too late to think of crossing the river to-night, we hobbled our horses, and having pitched Mr. Kennedy’s tent, slept on the sand till morning.

June 7. — As soon as we had breakfasted this morning, we prepared to cross, to assist us in which undertaking we contrived to construct a sort of punt by taking the wheels and axletrees off one of the carts. We then placed the body of the cart on a large tarpaulin, the shafts passing through holes cut for them, the tarpaulin tightly nailed round them. The tarpaulin was then turned up all round, and nailed inside the cart; by this means it was made almost water-tight. We then fastened our water-bags, filled with air, to the sides of the cart, six on each side, and a small empty keg to each shaft. We tied our tether ropes together, and made one end fast on each side the river, by which means our punt was easily pulled from one side to the other. By this contrivance we managed to get most of our things over during the day, and at night a party slept on either side, without pitching the tents.

June 8. — One party continued employed in getting the remainder of the things across the river, whilst the others went in search of the horses, which had rambled to some distance to seek for better grass. The grass had hitherto continued plentiful in places all the way. The horses were brought up to the river by eleven A.M., and were with some difficulty got across; after which they were hobbled, and we camped for the night near the beach, in good grass.

June 9. — Mr. Kennedy, with Jackey and three others, left the camp this morning for the purpose of ascertaining the most practicable route for our carts. During the day a great number of natives came around our camp, but appeared very friendly; they are a finer race of men than those usually seen in the southern districts of the colony, but their habits and mode of life seem very similar. They left us before dark, without making any attempt at plunder.

June 10. — Mr. Kennedy returned to the camp this evening; he still found the swamps were impassable, the water and mud lying on them in many parts, from three to four feet deep; there were patches of dry land here and there covered with good but coarse grass.

We saw here large flocks of black and white ducks, making a whistling noise similar to some I have seen near Port Macquarie; Mr. Wall shot three of them, and they were very good to eat, but they were not new, belonging to the genus LEPTOTARSIS.

June 11. — We started early this morning and proceeded along the beach for three or four miles, when we came to another river, similar in its character to the one we crossed on the 8th, with low sandy banks, and dry bushy land on each side. We unloaded and hobbled our horses, and prepared our punt as before.

Near to this spot we came to a native encampment, consisting of eighteen or twenty gunyahs, (huts) of an oval form, about seven feet long, and four feet high; and at the southern end of the camp, was one large gunyah, eighteen feet long, seven feet wide, and fourteen feet high. All of them were neatly and strongly built, with small saplings stuck in the ground, arched over, and tied together at the top with small shoots of the climbing palm, (CALAMUS,) which I have already described. They were covered with the bark of the large MELALEUCAS, which grow in the swamps, fastened to the saplings with palm shoots.

A small opening is left at one end, from the ground to the top, and the floors were covered with long dried grass. The natives being absent from the camp, I entered the large gunyah, and found in it a large shield of solid wood, two feet in diameter, convex on one side, and flat on the other.

The convex side was curiously painted red, in circular rings and crosses. On the flat side was a handle, cut out of the solid wood. In the same hut I found four wooden swords, three and a half feet long, and four inches broad, sharp at both edges, and thick in the centre, with a slightly curved round handle, about six inches long. They were made of very hard wood, and were much too heavy to wield with one hand. I also found a number of fishing lines, made from grass, with hooks attached of various sizes, made from muscle shells.

After I had carefully examined all these things, I left them where I found them. In the centre of the camp were four large ovens, for cooking their food. These ovens were constructed by digging a hole in the ground, about three feet in diameter, and two feet deep. The hole is then filled to within six inches of the top with smooth, hard, loose stones, on which a fire is kindled, and kept burning till the stones are well heated. Their food, consisting principally of shell and other fish, is then placed on the stones and baked.

There were no vessels in the camp in which they could boil anything, and it is my opinion, from what I afterwards saw of their habits, that their cookery is confined to roasting and baking.

In the camp were several large shells, for holding water, and some calabashes, made by taking out the inside of a gourd, which grows plentifully near the camp. These calabashes would hold from one to three pints each.

June 12. — This morning Taylor endeavoured to cross the river with the rope for working our punt, but although an expert swimmer, and very strong man, he was unable to do so, from the strength of the tide which was running out. We saw several natives fishing in the river from their canoes, which are about five feet long and one and a-half feet wide, made of bark, with small saplings tied along the side, and are paddled with small pieces of bark held in either hand. We made signs to them to come to us, with which three of them complied. We made them understand that if they would take our rope across, and make it fast to a dead tree on the other side of the river, we would give them a tomahawk. They consented to undertake the task, and after great exertion succeeded in performing it, and received their reward, with which they seemed quite satisfied and highly pleased. We succeeded in getting everything across this river by ten o’clock at night, for the moon being up we would not stop till we had done. Our horses we took about a quarter of a mile up the river, and they crossed where it was narrower and not so deep. Several natives, who had not yet seen our horses, assembled on the banks of the river to see them cross, and when they came out of the water commenced shouting to frighten them, continuing their noise for about twenty minutes. Seeing at length, however, that the beasts submitted to be led quietly along the beach, they came near the camp, and we made them a present of a few fish-hooks. They returned to their camp before sunset.

The river we crossed this day was not so deep as either of the former ones. There is, apparently, a sandbank across all the rivers emptying themselves into Rockingham Bay, near the mouth, and this one formed no exception to the rule. The tide runs up very strongly, I should think from a mile and a-half to two miles.

There is a mangrove swamp running up some distance on the northern side of the river, till it joins the fresh water swamps. There is not so much fresh water running out of this river as from the last, and fresh water is only procurable from the south side of the river, near to the swamp; it being impossible to penetrate the scrub on the northern side to obtain it. At low water the river is very shallow, with a muddy bottom.

June 13. — On our mustering this morning, Carpenter was missed from the camp. It was discovered that he had absconded during the night, carrying off with him a damper, weighing about eleven pounds, two pounds of tea, and ten pounds of sugar. We had breakfast as quickly as possible, and Mr. Kennedy sent four men on horseback, to scour the country around in search of him. They returned from an unsuccessful search, but had received intelligence from the blacks that he was not far off.

June 14. — A party went out early this morning, in search of Carpenter, and caught sight of him about two miles from the river, sharing his damper with the blacks. As soon, however, as he saw the party approaching, he decamped into the bush, and was again lost sight of. On coming up to the spot where he was seen, the bags in which he had carried away the tea and sugar, were found; the sugar was nearly consumed, but the tea appeared untouched.

In the evening Carpenter returned, and on begging Mr. Kennedy’s pardon, he was forgiven. Throughout the expedition he was of very little service, being, in fact, little better than an idiot.

This evening we saw a large alligator, rising to the surface of the water, close to our camp. He seemed about twenty feet long, and appeared to be attentively watching our sheep, which were feeding by the side of the river, on the DOLICHOS and IPOMEAS which were growing on the sand.

The natives here had a great many dogs, which, towards evening, rushed our sheep and drove them among the bushes in all directions. We had great difficulty in getting them together before dark.

June 15. — We proceeded inland two or three miles. to the edge of the fresh water swamps, and camped there. Mr. Kennedy went with a party into the swamps to ascertain if it were possible to make a road for the carts to pass through. Wall and myself went out collecting specimens.

I found a beautiful species of LORANTHUS, growing on acacia trees, and producing on its long pendulous shoots, abundance of beautiful scarlet flowers; the tube of the coralla was about two inches long, very short limbs, with long lanceolate glossy leaves. This most interesting parasite, covering the acacia trees, when in flower forms a most gorgeous sight; presenting a beautiful contrast to the dull foliage of the surrounding trees. I also found a scarlet passion flower, very beautiful, with three lobed glaneous leaves; and a NYMPHAEA, (water lily,) growing in the water holes and small creeks, producing large purple flowers, and pellate leaves; besides a number of other new and interesting plants.

Mr. Wall succeeded in obtaining a specimen of a beautiful little marsupial animal, resembling an opossum in form, but not larger than the common rat, the colour pure white, with very small black spots.

Mr. Kennedy and party returned in the evening, after having been in the water up to their knees all day. He reported that it was altogether impossible to make a road.

June 16. — Mr. Kennedy and party proceeded again this morning to enter the swamps, but in a different direction, in the hope of finding some spot where a road might be made, but returned with no better success. This day we killed the best sheep we had yet slaughtered; it weighed 53lbs., those we had previously killed weighed from 40 to 48lbs.; they did not keep fat, but up to this time we were enabled to fry all the meat, which mode of cookery was more speedy and convenient for us than boiling or any other way.

June 17. — We proceeded this evening along the edge of the swamps, crossing several small creeks. In many places the wheels of the carts sank to the axle-trees in consequence of the rottenness of the ground near the creeks. We camped, after travelling about five miles.

June 18. — This day was Sunday, and at eleven o’clock Mr. Kennedy assembled the whole party under the shade of some large trees and read prayers. This was a practice always persevered in when practicable, and unless for come very pressing reason, we uniformly set apart the Sabbath as a day of rest, such an interval from our toils being in fact absolutely necessary.

June 19. — Again Mr. Kennedy started this morning, accompanied by five men, into the swamps, determined, if possible, to find a road by which we might cross them, and get to the foot of the mountain ranges on the south. He remained out during this and the two following days. The natives appear to be very numerous in the neighbourhood of Rockingham Bay. There was an old camping place with twelve or fourteen old gunyahs near our camp, but it was not visited by the natives during our stay there. They generally came to look at us every day, but always kept at a distance; on some days we saw as many as from eighty to a hundred. The women and children always kept farther from us than the men; I think more from fear of our dogs and horses than of ourselves. The weather was cool, with showers occasionally during the day, and at night steady rain set in.

June 20. — The rain continued throughout the day.

June 21 and 22. — The rain still continued. Two of our horses were found bogged in a creek near the camp, but were soon released without injury; they had strayed into the creek to eat the aquatic grass, which is plentiful in almost all the creeks between the swamps and the sea. The soil here was rather stiffer than we had found it before, being a light sandy loam, and in places clayey. There were not so many shells to be seen, and what there were, were principally bivalves.

Mr. Kennedy returned this evening, and having again found it impossible to cross the swamps we were obliged to return to the beach, where the travelling was far better than among the trees. While travelling inland a man was always obliged to walk before the carts, to cut down small trees.

At this time we had only two meals per day; breakfast at daylight, and dinner when we had completed our day’s work, and camped. The time for dinner was therefore irregular, depending on the nature of the country over which we travelled. Some days we dined at one o’clock, on others not till dark. Whenever any birds were shot, they were boiled for supper; but as yet we had killed very few.

Mr. Kennedy appeared to be admirably fitted for the leader of an expedition of this character, in every respect.

Although he had innumerable difficulties and hardships to contend with, he always appeared cheerful, and in good spirits. Travelling through such a country as we were, such a disposition was essential to the success of the expedition. He was always diverting the minds of his followers from the obstacles we daily encountered, and encouraging them to hope for better success; careful in all his observations and calculations, as to the position of his camp, and cautious not to plunge into difficulties, without personal observation of the country, to enable him to take the safest path. But having decided, he pursued his deliberate determination with steady perseverance, sharing in the labour of cutting through the scrub, and all the harassment attendant on travelling through such a wilderness, with as much or greater alacrity and zeal than any of his followers. It was often grievous to me to hear some of the party observe, after we had passed over some difficult tract, “that a better road might have been found, a little to the right or to the left.” Such observations were the most unjust and vexatious, as in all matters of difficulty and of opinion, he would invariably listen to the advice of all, and if he thought it prudent, take it. For my own part, I can safely say, that I was always ready to obey his orders, and conform to his directions, confident as I then was, of his abilities to lead us to the place of our destination as speedily as possible.

June 23. — We started early this morning, and proceeded along the beach till we came to a small river, which was narrow and shallow, but the bottom being muddy, and it being low water, we diverged towards the sea, where the sand was firmer, and there crossed it with little difficulty, without unloading the packhorses or carts. The tide runs but a short distance up this river, and as far as it does run it is fringed with a belt of mangroves. The banks are muddy, and so soft that a man sinks up to his knees in walking along them.

A little above the mangroves the river divides into several small creeks, in swampy ground, covered with small MELALEUCAS so thickly, that although they are not at all bushy below, but have straight trunks of from three to five inches in diameter, and from ten to twenty feet high, a man can scarcely walk between them.

After crossing this river we again turned inland for a short distance, and camped by the side of a small river south of the last; with steep grassy banks on the north side, overhung by trestamas and arborescent callistemons.

On the south side grew mangroves, and the large blue-flowered ruellia seen at our first camp. The tide ran up to our camp, the fresh water coming from the north-west. There were plenty of water-holes in the valley, between the river and the higher sandy ground.

The grass here consisted principally of agrostis, near the river, where the land is occasionally inundated, and of uniola, a little further back, growing in tufts. On the sandy ridges, however, there was little else than XANTHORRHEA, XEROTES, and RESTIO (rope grass).

Here we saw a great many native companions (ARDEA ANTIGONE), and swamp pheasants (CENTROPUS PHASIANELLUS).

June 24th. — Mr. Kennedy and a party of five men again proceeded to examine the swamps, but returned without finding any practicable way of crossing.

June 25. — We started early this morning, proceeding towards the beach in a southerly direction, the river turning again south by west, and camped after travelling over five or six miles of rotten and rather sandy ground.

June 26. — We proceeded along the beach till we came to a small river, most probably the same we left yesterday, which we attempted to cross in the same manner as we had done the one on the 23rd, but unfortunately the horses and carts sank so deeply into the mud that they were completely set fast. We were now obliged to unload, and carry the goods ashore. Some of the flour-bags fell into the water, but were quickly taken out and but little damaged. We had great difficulty in getting the carts out of the mud.

A number of natives had accompanied us all day, and pointed out to us the best place to cross the river. Some of them also assisted us in carrying our things across, while one or two attempted petty thefts. I caught one with two straps belonging to a saddle, and a pair of Mr. Kennedy’s spurs in his basket, which I took from him and sent him away. Many of these natives were painted all over with a sort of red earth, but none of them had visited us armed with spears for several days past. Some of them had learned to address several of our party by name, and seemed pleased when they received an answer. We frequently made them small presents, and endeavoured to impress upon them the anxiety we felt to remain on friendly terms with them.

After having crossed the river we turned inland; cutting our way though a belt of mangrove scrub, about half a mile wide; we got the carts through with comparative ease, the ground being harder than usual. We camped on a rising ground, with good grass around us, by the side of a small creek running here almost parallel with the beach, and coming from the westward. At this camp I obtained seeds of a dwarf spreading tree, with alternate exstipulate primate leaves, and axillary racemes of a round flattened fruit, similar in size and shape to the small blue fig cultivated in gardens, of a dark purple colour, and possessing a flavour similar to an Orleans plum when hardly ripe, with a hard rough stone inside.

June 27. — We proceeded about five miles in a westerly direction, passing over two small creeks running to the south-east. The country here appeared to be gradually rising, and the land to be growing drier; and we now hoped to be enabled to prosecute our journey without any great obstruction from the swamps.

June 28. — Proceeding on the same course as on the previous day, we crossed two small creeks, running rapidly to the eastward. The bottoms of these creeks were covered with granite pebbles, of various sizes.

The first creek we crossed at the entrance, and the other near the middle of a thick scrub, extending nearly three miles, and through which we had to cut a road.

The various plants of which this scrub was composed, corresponded with those described as forming the scrub near our first camp in the Bay. The greatest obstacles to our progress through these scrubs were the long shoots of the FLAGELLARIA, and climbing palm (CALAMUS).

We camped in an open patch of forest land, covered with grass, and the trees consisted principally of Moreton Bay ash, (a species of eucalyptus,) casuarina, and a rather large growing acacia, with broad, rhomboidal, sericeous phyllodia, and very broad, flat legumes.

Luff and Douglas were this day taken very ill with the ague.

June 29. — We found that some of our horses had strayed into the scrub, and we did not succeed in finding them until nearly twelve o’clock, and Luff and Douglas being no better, Mr. Kennedy with three others proceeded to examine the country in advance of us.

June 30. — This morning Luff was a little better, but Douglas was able to eat but little. In the scrub near our camp I found a species of MUSA, with leaves as large, and the plants as high, as the common banana (M. PARADISIACA), with blossoms and fruit, but the fruit was not eatable. I also found a beautiful tree belonging to the natural order MYRTACAE, producing on the trunk and large branches only abundance of white, sweet scented flowers, larger than those of the common rose apple (JAMBOSA VULGARIS), with long stamens, a very short style, slightly two-cleft stigma, five very small semi-orbicular petals, alternate with the thick fleshy segments of the calyx, broad lanceolate leaves, the fruit four to six inches in circumference, consisting of a white fleshy, slightly acid substance, with one large round seed, the foot-stalk about one inch long. This is a most beautiful and curious tree (fruit perhaps not always one-seeded). Some specimens I saw measured five feet in circumference, and were sixty feet high, the straight trunks rising twenty or thirty feet from the ground to the branches. being covered with blossoms, with which not a leaf mingled. There were ripe and unripe fruit mingled with the blossoms, the scent of the latter being delightful, spreading perfume over a great distance around; I had frequently noticed the fragrance of these blossoms while passing through the scrub, but could never make out from whence it arose. It resembles the scent of a ripe pineapple, but is much more powerful.

There are not many of the trees to be found, and those only in the scrub, in a stiff loamy soil. The small animals eat the fruit, and I ate some, but it was not so good as the rose apple; we called it the white apple.

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 iron-bark. These hills are composed of huge blocks of coarse granite, with a stiff soil, and appear to stretch a long distance to the west.

July 1. — 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.

July 2. — Being Sunday, prayers were read at eleven o’clock.

July 3. — 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 and creeks.

July 4. — 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 them fell, but Mr. Kennedy could not ascertain whether more than one was killed, as the other three were immediately carried off into the scrub.

July 5. — Luff and Douglas now began to get better, but being still unable to walk, we could not break up our camp.

July 6. — 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 pearly twenty feet high, so that we were obliged to lower down the carts into the bed of the creek with 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 of the creek were not so steep. Here, 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 iron bark, but with long narrow leaves. I also found a magnificent species of GREVILLEA, with fine pinnatified silvery leaves, and beautiful racemes of orange-coloured flowers; also another tree belonging to the natural order PROTEACEAE, 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 inhabit.

July 7. — 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.

July 8. — 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.

July 9. — This being Sunday we halted for the day, and prayers were read at eleven o’clock.

July 10 and 11. — We continued throughout these days cutting through belts of scrub and crossing small creeks, running from the west and northwest, 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.

July 14. — 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 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 travelling.

July 16. — Sunday, we halted, and had prayers read at eleven o’clock.

July 17. — 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 were formerly carried left behind.

Near this camp a large swamp extended south-westward, but it was clear of scrub, containing nothing but MELALEUCAS of moderate size.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52