ADVANCE WITH A LIGHT PARTY— LEAVING THE REMAINDER WITH THE BULLOCKS AND DRAYS TO REST THREE WEEKS AT ST. GEORGE’S BRIDGE. — DISCOVER A RIVER JOINING THE BALONNE FROM THE NORTH-WEST. — CROSS IT, AND STILL TRACE THE BALONNE UPWARDS. — FINE RIVER SCENERY. — VAST PLAINS EXTENDING TO THE EASTERN HORIZON DISCOVERED FROM A TREE. — TRIBUTARY FROM THE NORTH-WEST— AND RICH PLAINS. — TRACE THIS SMALL RIVER UPWARDS. — EXCELLENT COUNTRY FOR GRAZING PURPOSES. — MOUNTAINS, SEEN AT LENGTH, TO THE NORTHWARD. — NATIVES AT OUR CAMP. — ASCEND MOUNT FIRST VIEW. — MOUNT INVITING. — ASCEND MOUNT RED CAP. — RIDE TO THE BORDERS OF FITZROY DOWNS, AND ASCEND MOUNT ABUNDANCE. — THE BOTTLE TREE. — ASCEND MOUNT BINDÀNGO. — DISCOVERY OF THE RIVER “AMBY.”— DANGEROUS FOLLOWERS OF A CAMP. — RECONNOISSANCE TO THE NORTH-WEST. — ASCEND A TRAPITIC RANGE. — A GAP OR GOOD OPENING THROUGH IT FOUND FOR THE CARTS. — SMALL RIVER DISCOVERED BEYOND, CONTAINING ONE POND OF WATER. — THE CHANNEL DISAPPEARS ON OPEN FLATS. — DISCOVER THE RIVER MARAN. — SELECT A POSITION FOR A DEPÔT. — RIDE OF RECONNOISSANCE TO THE NORTHWARD. — RIDE INTO THE WESTERN INTERIOR. — ASCEND MOUNT LONSDALE. — EXTENSIVE VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT. — WATER NOT VERY PLENTIFUL. — RETURN TO THE CAMP. — ASCEND A HIGH POINT TO THE EASTWARD. — VIEW THENCE OF THE SUMMITS OF A RANGE TO THE NORTHWARD. — CAMP VISITED BY HOSTILE NATIVES DURING MY ABSENCE. — ARRIVAL OF MR. KENNEDY WITH THE MAIN BODY OF THE PARTY. — HIS ACCOUNT OF THE HOSTILITY OF THE CHIEF AND TRIBE AT “TAGANDO.”— VARIOUS PREPARATIONS MADE FOR AGAIN ADVANCING WITH A LIGHT PARTY. — DEPÔT CAMP ESTABLISHED ON THE MARAN.
23RD APRIL. — Our little party started at noon. I took with me eight men, two native boys, twelve horses, besides my own two, and three light carts with provisions for ten weeks — determined, if possible, to penetrate northward, into the interior country, and ascertain where the division of the waters was likely to be found. I intended, with this view, to trace upwards the course of the Balonne, until I found mountains to the north-westward of it; then, to endeavour to turn them by the west, and thus acquire some knowledge on that most interesting point, the watershed towards the Gulf. I left instructions with Mr. Kennedy to follow my track with the drays and main body of the party, and to set out on Monday, the 4th of May, when the cattle would have had three weeks’ rest.
The first few miles of this day’s journey were along a clayey flat or hollow, which enabled me to avoid scrubby and sandy ground on each side. I believed its direction (N. E.), to be about parallel to the river. Leaving it at length to make the river, I met with rather a thick scrub; but came upon the river where the banks were very rocky and picturesque. Its course seemed to be from N. E.; but, following another flat of firm clay, I got again into scrub so thick that I turned eastward towards the river, and travelled along its bank until I encamped in lat. 27° 56’ 12” S. There was but little water in the bed of the river there; but long islands of sand, water-worn banks, with sloping grassy bergs behind. The bed, in most places, consisted of rock, the same ferruginous conglomerate, or clay ironstone, seen in the same river lower down. Grass was excellent and abundant on the bergs and near the river, but thick scrub crowned these bergs on our side. It was too late to admit of my examining the other. On our way through the scrub this day, we saw the ENOCARPUS SPARTEA of Brown, a leaf-like wing-branched shrub; and the beautiful parasite, LORANTHUS AURANTIACUS, occupied the branches of Eucalyptus. Thermometer, at sunrise, 49°; at 9 P. M., 47°; — with wet bulb, 41°.43
43 [The dates on the map show my camps; the Roman numerals those afterwards taken up by Mr. Kennedy, in following my track with the main body.]
24TH APRIL. — Set off early, travelling along the bank. The direction was N. N. W. and N. W. For the first few miles, the scenery was wild and very fine. Masses of rock, lofty trees, shining sands and patches of water, in wild confusion, afforded evidence of the powerful current that sometimes moved there and overwhelmed all. At this time, the outlines were wild, the tints sublimely beautiful. Mighty trees of Casuarinae, still inclined as they had been made to bend before the waters, contrasted finely with erect Mimosae, with prostrate masses of driftwood, and with perpendicular rocks. Then the hues of the Anthistiria grass, of a redbrown, contrasted most harmoniously with the light green bushes, grey driftwood, blue water, and verdure by its margin; all these again — grass, verdure, driftwood, and water — were so opposed to the dark hues of the Casuarinae, Mimosae, and rifted rocks, that a Ruysdael, or a Gains-borough, might there have found an inexhaustible stock of subjects for their pencil. It was, indeed, one continuous Ruysdael.
“That artist lov’d the sternly savage air, And scarce a human image plac’d he there.”
May the object of our journey be successful, thought I then; and we may also hope that these beauties of nature may no longer “waste their sweetness in the desert air;” and that more of her graces may thus be brought within the reach of art. Noble reaches next extended in fine perspective before us; each for several miles, presenting open grassy margins along which we could travel on firm ground unimpeded by scrub. At length I perceived before me a junction of rivers, and could see along each of them nearly a mile. I had no alternative but to follow up that nearest to me, and found upon its bank many recent encampments of natives; at one of which the fires were still burning. The country was grassy, and so open, as almost to deserve the colonial name of “plain.” This channel took me a long way northward, and to the N. N. E.; but finally turned west, and at last south. Its bed was full of sand; and at length we found it quite dry, so that, when I would have encamped, I could find no water. Yet it bore all the character of a large river; marks of high floods, Mimosae, sand, and river driftwood, like the other. It might, and probably did, finally come out of the main channel; but this seemed too remote a contingency for our wants then, and I crossed it, to look for the other. In riding eastward, I found a wide plain bounded by trees that looked like those along the river. No time could be spared for further reconnoissance: I took the party across, and made for the nearest part. My course was first N. E., then East, finally South, in following the various slopes; and it was only after travelling fifteen miles beyond the point where I met with this river, that I reached the bank of the other, at a spot distant only FOUR miles from where I had quitted it. This was only accomplished at forty minutes after 4 P. M., when we had travelled twenty-six miles. As our circuitous route was likely, if followed by Mr. Kennedy with the heavy drays, to cause delay and inconvenience, I resolved to halt next day, and write to him on the subject, explaining how he could most readily fall into my track by crossing the other channel, quitting first the other track, at a spot to be marked by Graham, who took the letter. Nevertheless, it had been imperative on me to follow it up as I had done; because, whether as a separate tributary or an ana-branch only, the right bank was likely to suit us best, provided only that water could have been found in its bed. Near the new river, the INDIGOFERA HIRSUTA of Linnaeus, with its spikes of reflexed hairy pods, was common; and also the MOSCHOSMA POLYSTACHYUM. Lat. 27° 47’ 57’’ S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 38°; at 9 P. M., 59°; — with wet bulb, 56°.
25TH APRIL. —
“The dawn is overcast, the morning lowers, And heavily in clouds brings on the day.”
A grateful change in the weather promised rain; but suggested to me a contingency for which I had not provided in my letter to Mr. Kennedy, and Graham was gone. A flood coming down, might fill the channel of the other, and prevent Mr. Kennedy’s party from crossing to fall into my track; or, if that should finally prove only an ana-branch, shut me up in an island. On this point I again, therefore, wrote to Mr. Kennedy, and buried my letter at the spot marked by Graham, and according to marks on trees, as I had previously arranged with him. I then instructed him to examine the dry channel far enough upwards (halting his party for the day) to ascertain whether it was a separate river, or an ana-branch; and, in the latter case, to keep along its banks, and so avoid the possible difficulty of crossing it during rainy weather. Thermometer, at sunrise, 65°; at noon, 70°; at 4 P. M., 66°; at 9, 64°; — with wet bulb, 63°. Mean height above the sea, 586 feet.
26TH APRIL. — Sunday. Corporal Graham returned from the depôt camp at 1 P. M. The sky continued cloudy, and the barometer low. High wind from the west arose about 3 P. M. Thermometer, at sunrise, 63°; at noon, 78°; at 4 P. M., 78°; at 9, 56°; — with wet bulb, 53°.
27TH APRIL. — The party set off early. We found that a river from the north joined the channel we were about to follow up in its course from the east. The northern river contained water in abundance; and I determined to follow it up so long as the course was favourable, and water remained in it. The general course was much the same as that of the first (about 39 E. of N.). The bed and ponds increased; and after following it up about eleven miles, I encamped the party, and rode northward to ascertain if it was likely to change its course. In ten minutes, I came upon a splendid reach, extending north-west as far as I could see it. Lat. of our camp, 27° 42’ 42” S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 37°; at noon, 69°; at 4 P. M., 72°; at 9, 57°; — with wet bulb, 55°.
28TH APRIL. — Masses of a ferruginous rock extended across the river bed like a dyke, in a N. W. and S. E. direction; and as the river here broke through these rocks, changing, at a sharp angle, its course to the S. W., it seemed probable that the general course from above might be parallel to these rocks. Continuing along the bank, we found the reaches large, full of water; the country clear of scrub and covered with luxuriant grass. One singular flat sweeping round to the W. S. W. was covered with the rich grass PANICUM LOEVINODE. The tropical PEROTIS RARA, a delicate grass, producing long purple tufts of reflexed bristles, was also here observed. The general direction of the river was towards the N. W., and whenever it took any turn towards the east, I continued to travel northward, and thus, on three occasions, came upon its bank again, cutting off detours I must otherwise have described in following its course. We encamped on a beautiful spot, the sight of which would have rejoiced the heart of a stockholder. A fresh westerly breeze blew during the day, and we were as free from the annoyance of heat, as if we had been in England during the same month. Latitude 27° 32’ 37” S. The direction of the river’s course was uncommonly straight, and its long sweeping reaches, full of water, seemed capable of being rendered available for the purpose of forming water communications. The surface of the adjacent country presented a thin deposit of sand, near the river, attesting the great height to which its waters sometimes rise; and minor features of ground near, showed, in their water-worn sections, that they had been wholly deposited by the river. Thermometer, at sunrise, 39°; at 4 P. M., 69°; at 9, 48°; — with wet bulb, 46°.
29TH APRIL. — The tendency of the soft earth of the banks to break into gullies, branching back into impervious scrubs, was such as to prevent me from either seeing much of the river during this day’s journey, or pursuing a straight course. At one place I could only follow the grassy margin of the river, by passing between its channel and the berg, all seared as it was with water-worn gullies, and crowned with scrub; but I was soon locked up under these where a bad hole impeded our progress along the river, and I was obliged to back the carts out, the best way I could. While travelling along the margin I perceived a slight current in a gravelly part of the bed. I had previously observed a whitish tinge like that of a fresh in the river water, this day and yesterday, doubtless the product of the late rain, and probably from these clay gullies. After a circuitous journey, we came out on a clear grassy brow over-looking much open country. There I still met with heads of gullies, but could easily avoid them, and after traversing a fine grassy plain, we encamped as near the river as the gullies would allow, in latitude 27° 28’ 27”. One of the party, John Douglas, from the top of a tree, discovered vast plains in the N. E. extending to the horizon, a river line pursuing a northerly course, and in the N. W. a mass of cloud hung over what he supposed to be mountains. Thermometer, at sunrise, 36°; at 4 P. M., 63°; at 9, 47°; with wet bulb, 44°.
30TH APRIL. — Obliged to keep at some distance from the river, I came upon open forest land, where gentle undulations took the place of the rugged gullies. Thus we travelled over a beautiful country, due north, with sufficient indications of the river on our right, in the slopes that all fell to that side. There were ponds in some hollows, and we made the river itself at various parts of our route. At length, where it bit on a high scrubby bank, I again proceeded northward and came upon a large lagoon, sweeping round to S. W. and S. S. W., further than we could see. It had on its surface numerous ducks, and a large encampment of native huts appeared at one end. We encamped by this lagoon, in latitude 27° 20’ S. Again vast plains and downs to the N. E. were seen by Dicky, our youngest native, from a tree. Thermometer, at sunrise, 27°; at 4 P. M., 65°; at 9, 43°.
1ST MAY. — On leaving the lagoon, passing between its head and the river, we were soon enveloped in a thick scrub of Casuarinae, on ground broken into gullies falling to the river. I tried to pass by the lower margin of this, but gullies in the way obliged me to ascend and seek a passage elsewhere. Forcing our way, therefore, through the scrub and out of it, we found outside of it, in an open forest, the box and Angophora, and could go forward without impediment, first to the N. W., afterwards northward, and N. E. At length the woods opened into fine grassy plains, bounded on the east by trees belonging to the river berg. There I saw still the trees we had so gladly got away from, the Casuarina; also the cheering white arms of the Yarra, or blue gum. The prospect before us improved greatly; fine plains presented a clear way to the northward, with the river apparently coming thence, and even round from the N. W. From a tree, Yuranigh descried hills in the N. E. and the plains extending before us. I also perceived, from the wide plain, a distant low rise to the N. W. We crossed two hollows on these grassy plains, each containing deep ponds, and descended towards what seemed a branch of the river; we encamped near it, in latitude 27° 15’ 4” S. As we approached this spot, natives were seen first looking at us, and then running off — Yuranigh said he recognized one of them as a countryman of his own. I endeavoured to make him cooey to them, or call them, but they made off, setting fire to the grass. Any information from natives of these parts might have been very useful to us then, and I hoped they would at length come to us. Thermometer, at sunrise, 26°; at 4 P. M., 67°; at 9, P. M., 48°; — with wet bulb, 46°.
2D MAY. — There was a decided difference between the river we were now upon, as well as the country along its banks, and the large river by which we had travelled so far. This was undoubtedly but a small tributary, as its direction seen this day showed, being from the westward, while its waters, meandering in various narrow channels amongst plains, reminded us of some of the finest parts of the south. Which was the principal channel, and which to cross, which to travel by, was rather difficult to determine. The country was very fine. These water courses lay between finely rounded grassy slopes, with a few trees about the water’s edge, marking their various courses at a distance. A considerable breadth of open grassy plain, intervened between this river and the woods back from it. At length, sloping stony bergs came near the river’s bed, but there the smooth naked water-worn clay was the best ground we could have for wheels, and we thus hugged each bend of the river, passing close to the channel. I hoped thus to find plains on the next change of the river’s course. And so it turned out for some way, but the receding bergs guided me, even when only seen at a considerable distance, in shaping my course. Keeping my eye on their yellow slopes, I travelled far along a grassy flat which brought me to a lake containing water like chrystal, and fringed with white lotus flowers. Its western shore consisted of shelving rock. An immense number of ducks floated on its eastern extremity. From this lake, following a grassy flat to the N. W., we at length reached the river, or rather its bed, seared into numerous channels. The lake, and long flat connected with it, appeared to me more like the vestiges of a former channel, than as the mere outlet of surplus waters; nor did it seem that the water is now supplied from the floods of the river. I followed this a few miles further, and then encamped just beyond, where much gravel appeared in the banks. While the men were erecting the tents, I rode some miles to the westward, and found an open iron-bark forest covering it, with much luxuriant grass. This was rather peculiar, as compared with any other part passed through. It was also undulating; and, from a tree ascended by Yuranigh, it was ascertained we were approaching mountains, as he saw one which bore 77°, also a hill to the eastward, in which latter direction (or rather in that of 333°), he saw also an open country. Thermometer, at sunrise, 47°; at 4 P. M., 62°; at 9 P. M 57°; mean height above the sea, 694 feet.
3RD MAY. — Natives were heard near our camp during the night, and we perceived the smoke of their fires, in the bushes, behind in the morning. Yuranigh went up to them, accompanied by one of the party bearing a green branch, and he prevailed on three of their tribe to come to our tents. One stood amongst the carts and tents, apparently quite absorbed in observation. Intense curiosity in these men had evidently overcome all their fears of such strangers. They were entirely naked, and without any kind of ornament or weapon, offensive or defensive. With steady fixed looks, eyes wide open, and serious intelligent countenances, what passed in their minds was not disguised, as is usual with savages. On the contrary, there was a manly openness of countenance, and a look of good sense about them, which would have gained my full confidence, could we but have understood each other. They asked for nothing, nor did they show any covetousness, although surrounded by articles, the smallest of which might have been of use to them. There must be an original vein of mind in these aboriginal men of the land. O that philosophy or philanthropy could but find it out and work it! Yuranigh plied them with all my questions, but to little purpose; for although he could understand their language, he complained that they did not answer him in it, but repeated, like parrots, whatever he said to them. In the same manner, they followed me with a very exact repetition of English words. He, however, gathered from them that the lake was called “Turànimga,” this river “Cogoon,” a hill to the eastward “Toolumbà,” etc. They had never before seen white men, and behaved as properly as it was possible for men in their situation to do. At length we set out on our journey, and in mounting my horse, which seemed very much to astonish them, I made signs that we were going to the mountains.
Travelling by the river bank was easy, over grassy forest land. The deep ponds were tolerably well filled, but the quantity of water was small, in comparison with that in the Balonne; which the natives seemed to say we had left to the right, and that this was “one of its brothers.” Malga scrub crowned the bergs of the river, where they bounded one of these forest flats forming its margin, and the mere sight of that impervious sort of scrub was sufficient to banish all thoughts of making straighter cuts to the north-west. Our course, with the river, was, however, now rather to the west of north-west; and that this was but a tributary to the Balonne, was evident. That river line, as traced by us, pursued a tolerably straight direction between the parallels of 29° and 27°, coming round from nearly north-east to about north. For these last three days we had travelled with this minor channel, to the westward of north-west; in which direction I had, therefore, good reason to expect that we should soon find mountains.
As soon as we arrived at an eligible spot for the camp, I proceeded, with Yuranigh, towards a height presenting a rocky face, which I saw through the trees, and seemed distant about two miles. From that crest, I perceived woody ridges on all sides, but all apparently sloping from the south-west; and a misty valley beyond the nearest of them in the northeast, like the line of the Balonne. But the most interesting sight to me then, was that of blue pics at a great distance to the north-west, the object of all my dreams of discovery for years. No white man had before seen these. There we might hope to find the DIVISA AQUARUM, still undiscovered; the pass to Carpentaria, still unexplored: I called this hill Mount First View, and descended, delighted with what I had seen from its rocky crest. The sides were covered with Malga scrub. The rock was felspathic, apparently allied to those already seen in the Balonne. Lat. 27° 2’ 57” S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 45°; at 4 P. M., 68°; at 9 P. M., 45°; — with wet bulb, 43°.
4TH MAY. — An Australian morning is always charming — amid these scenes of primaeval nature it seemed exquisitely so. The BARITA? or GYMNORHINA, the organ-magpie, was here represented by a much smaller bird, whose notes, resembling the softest breathings of a flute, were the only sounds that met the ear. What the stillness of even adds to such sounds in other climes, is felt more intensely in the stillness of morning in this. “The rapture of repose that’s there” gratifies every sense; the perfume of the shrubs, of those even that have recently been burnt, and the tints and tones of the landscape, accord with the soft sounds. The light red tints of the ANTHISTIRIA, the brilliant green of the MIMOSA, the white stems of the EUCALYPTUS, and the deep grey shadows of early morning, still slumbering about the woods, are blended and contrasted in the most pleasing harmony. The forms in the soft landscape are equally fine, from the wild fantastic tufting of the Eucalyptus, and its delicate willow-like ever-drooping leaf, to the prostrate trunks of ancient trees, the mighty ruins of the vegetable world. Instead of autumnal tints, there is a perpetual blending of the richest hues of autumn with the most brilliant verdure of spring; while the sun’s welcome rays in a winter morning, and the cool breath of the woods in a summer morning, are equally grateful concomitants of such scenes. These attach even the savage to his woods, and might well reclaim the man of crime from thoughts likely to disturb the harmony of human existence.
Following up the little river with more confidence now, since I had seen whence it came, I proceeded more directly north-west. Thus I found myself on a small creek, or chain of ponds, from the west and southwest, so that I crossed it and made for some open ground, between ridges clothed with dense Malga scrub. We thus crossed a low ridge, and descended towards a fine open country, on which pigeons were numerous, and traces of natives. It was also sloping to the northward, and I had no doubt that we had passed into a valley which I had observed yesterday from Mount First View, and had supposed it contained a larger river. In the open ground, I found a small rocky knoll which I named Mount Minute. From its summit, I recognised Mount First-Sight, bearing 128° 30’. We next passed through some scrub, and came to a hollow full of Acacia pendula. Following this down we arrived at a chain of ponds, and these led to an open grassy valley, in which we found our old friend, the river, still pursuing, steadily, a north-west course. Travelling along the bank, for a mile or two, we found that these now consisted of fine open forest flats; and at length encamped on the margin, after a journey of about twelve miles. Near our camp, I saw natives on the opposite bank, first standing in mute astonishment, then running away. I held up a green bough, but they seemed very wild; and, although occasionally seen during the afternoon, none of them would approach us. We found on the banks of this river, a purple-flowered CALANDRINIA, previously unknown.44 Lat. 26° 57’ 39” S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 25°; at 4 P. M., 70°; at 9, 37°; — with wet bulb, 34°.
44 [C. BALONENSIS (Lindl. MS.); foliis angustis obovato-lanceolatis alternis oppositisque, racemis secundis multifloris caulibus multo longioribus, floribus (conspicuis) polyandris.]
5TH MAY. — The three last nights had been cold, each, in succession, colder than the former. This morning the thermometer stood at 19° E., yet the water was not frozen, nor did our natives, sleeping in the open air, seem to feel it. Hence, it was obvious that, in a dry atmosphere, extreme cold can be more easily borne than in one that is moist. So, also, in the opposite extreme of heat and drought, we had been so accustomed to a higher temperature than 100° F., that any degree under that felt refreshing. Our journey this day by the side of the little river was still very straight towards the N. W. We met with rocks at the westerly bends; from which side it was also joined by a small tributary, with ponds and hollows containing marks of flood, and beds of the POLYGONUM ACRE. Still, however, the main channel could be distinguished from these, and the open forest flats along its banks became more and more extensive and open as we ascended this channel — leading so directly where we wished to go.
Hills were occasionally seen back from it, chiefly covered with scrub, but some were grassy and seemed fit for sheep. Others were clothed with callitris, and there the woods were open enough to be travelled through. I rode to the summit of one and recognized two of the points seen from Mount First Sight. At one sharp turn of the river rugged rocks had to be removed to make a way for the carts, but this was soon done. Beyond, there was a noble reach of water in a rocky bed, traversed by a dyke of felspathic rock, which exhibited a tendency to break into irregular polygons, some of the faces of which were curved; its strike was E. and W. We encamped on open forest land in lat. 26° 54’ 16” S. It was only during the last two days that I could perceive in the barometer, any indication that we were rising to any higher level above the sea than that of the great basin, in which we had journeyed so long, and the difference was still but trifling, as indicated by not more than six or seven millimetres of the Syphon barometer; our actual height above the sea being 737 feet. Thermometer, at sunrise, 19°; at 4 P. M., 67°.
6TH MAY. — The banks of the Cogoon became more open, and the slopes less abrupt as we advanced. They frequently consisted of a mixture of sand, at a height of twenty feet above its bed; where it occupied a section of considerable width, as much, perhaps, as 100 yards between bank and bank. On these rounded off banks or bergs of forest land, Youranigh drew my attention to large, old, waterworn, trunks of trees, which he showed me had been deposited there by floods. As they were of a growth and size quite disproportioned to other trees there, I was convinced that they were the debris of floods; and, consequently, that a vast body of water sometimes came down this channel. This native was taciturn and observant of such natural circumstances, to a degree that made his opinion of value in doubtful cases. Such, for instance, as which of two channels, that might come both in our way, might be the main one; thus my last resource, when almost “in a fix,” was to “tomar el parecer,” as they say in Spain, of this aboriginal, and he was seldom wrong. At length, the cheering expanse of an open country appeared before us, and a finely shaped hill, half-covered only, with bushes. On reaching an elevated clear part, I saw extensive downs before me. The river turned amongst woods to the eastward, and I continued on our route to the north, sure of meeting with it again, as some fine forest ridges hemmed in the valley to the eastward. Besides the hill already mentioned (which I named Mount Inviting), there was a curious red cone some miles to the westward, crowned with a bit of rock, on which I longed to plant my theodolite. After crossing the plain, we entered an open scrub of Acacia pendula which gradually changed to an open forest, within which I met with a chain of ponds, and encamped in lat. 26° 46’ S. I immediately set out, with a man carrying my theodolite, for Mount Red Cap, distant from our camp about six miles. This little red cone had a very singular appearance, as we approached it from the east. A dark tinted scrub of flat-topped trees enveloped its base, on the outside of which the light and graceful Acacia pendula also grew on the grassy plain. I found the red rock to be the common one of the country, in a state of decomposition. It was hollowed out by some burrowing animal, whose tracks had opened ways through the thick thorny scrub, enabling us to lead our horses to near the top. From the apex, I obtained an extensive view of the country then before us, in many parts clear of wood to the verge of the horizon, and finely studded with isolated hills of picturesque form, and patches of wood. Looking backward, or in the direction whence we had come, our valley appeared hemmed in by more continuous ridges; and, towards the extremity of them, I could just recognise Mount First View, this being one of the distant cones I had seen from it. I took as many angles as the descending sun permitted, and then retraced our horses’ tracks to the camp. Thermometer, at sunrise, 20°; at 9 P. M., 47°. Height above the sea, 747 feet.
7TH MAY. — Pursuing a N. W. course, we crossed a fine tract of open forest, then a plain, beyond which we entered a scrub of Acacia pendula, in which pigeons and quail were very numerous. Turning northward, now anxious again to see the river, on approaching this open country, we found what we considered the highest branch of it, in a chain of ponds skirting the wood bounding the plains. Halting the party, I continued my ride a mile and a half further northward, to the summit of a clear ridge. From thence I saw an open country to the northward, with some little wood. On my right, or to the eastward, a double topped hill sate in the centre of this fine open country, and from the abundance of good pasturage around it, I named it Mount Abundance. We continued still to follow the now attenuated channel upwards, and found it to come from the west, and even south-west, leaving the extreme corner of the open downs, and leading us into a scrub. There, it formed two branches, in neither of which could we find any water, and had consequently to return to the last of its ponds, situated exactly at the close of the open country towards the S. W. There, we encamped in latitude 26° 42’ 27” S., thankful that we had been enabled by its means to advance thus far, and to discover so fine a tract of country as that watered by it. Thermometer, at sunrise, 48°; at 4 P. M., 68°; at 9, 30°.
8TH MAY. — This morning Fahrenheit’s thermometer stood at 21° in my tent, a degree of cold I should never have expected to have seen indicated from my own sensations, or from the state of the pond, which was not frozen, neither was there any hoar frost. The sun rose in splendour; pigeons cooed, and birds were as merry as usual in the woods. The business of the day was most exciting; I was to ride over the fine open country to the westward of Mount Abundance, and there look still for a higher branch of the river, or A river; confident that so fine a region could not be deficient in water, but more confident from what I had seen of the range to which we had approached so near. Riding to the N. N. E. in about two hours we came upon the identical river we had so long followed up. It was accompanied, as usual, by the Acacia pendula; had its rounded bergs; reedy water holes; and an open strip along the left bank. Crossing it I rode over towards an elevated part of the open downs, in hopes to obtain a sight of what the country was beyond, but I found that to be impossible, as it seemed boundless. So, turning, I ascended an elevated north-eastern extremity of Mount Abundance, and from it beheld the finest country I had ever seen in a primaeval state. A champaign region, spotted with wood, stretching as far as human vision, or even the telescope, could reach. It was intersected by river lines from the north, distinguishable by columns of smoke. A noble mountain mass arose in the midst of that fine country, and was so elongated in a S. W. and N. E. direction, as to deserve the name of a range.
A three-topped hill appeared far to the north of the above, and to the S. E. of the first described, another mass, also isolated, overlooking that variegated land of wood and plain. To the S. E. of all these, the peaks of a very distant range were just visible. I determined to name the whole country Fitzroy Downs, and to identify it, I gave the name of the Grafton Range to the fine mass in the midst of it. In hopes of obtaining an elevated view over the country to the westward, I endeavoured to ascend the northern summit of Mount Abundance, but although the surface to near the top was tolerably smooth, and the bush open, I was met there by rugged rocks, and a scrub of thorny bushes so formidable as to tear leathern overalls, and even my nose. After various attempts, I found I was working round a rocky hollow, somewhat resembling a crater, although the rock did not appear to be volcanic. The trees and bushes there were different from others in the immediate vicinity, and, to me, seemed chiefly new. It is, indeed, rather a curious circumstance, but by no means uncommon, that the vegetation on such isolated summits in Australia, is peculiar and different from that of the country around them. Trees of a very droll form chiefly drew my attention here. The trunk bulged out in the middle like a barrel, to nearly twice the diameter at the ground, or of that at the first springing of the branches above. These were small in proportion to their great girth, and the whole tree looked very odd. These trees were all so alike in general form that I was convinced this was their character, and not a LUSUS NATUROE. [A still more remarkable specimen of this tree was found by Mr. Kennedy in the apex of a basaltic peak, in the kind of gap of the range through which we passed on the 15th of May, and of which he made the accompanying drawing.]
These trees grew here only in that almost inaccessible, crater-like hollow, which had impeded me in my attempt to reach the summit.45 Leaving the horses, however, I scrambled through the briars and up the rocks to the summit, but found it, after all this trouble, too thickly covered with scrub to afford me the desired view to the westward, even after I had ascended a tree on the edge of the broad and level plateau, so thickly covered with bushes. On returning and descending eastward towards the open country, I found a much more practicable way down than that by which I had ascended. Returning to the valley of the Cogoon, I passed between the two summits, and found a good open passage to the westward between the brigalow. Thermometer, at sunrise, 20°; at noon, 70°; at 4 P. M., 68°; at 9, 30°. Height above the sea 1043 feet.
45 [This remarkable plant constitutes a new and very curious genus of Sterculiads. It agrees with STERCULIA in the position of the radicle with respect to the hilum, but it is, otherwise, a BRACHYCHITON, with which it more especially corresponds in the singular condition of the seeds. These are placed, six together, in the interior of long-stalked, ovate, mucronate, smooth, deep brown follicles, of a tough papery texture, and lined with a thin fur of stellate hairs. The seeds themselves are also closely covered with starry hairs, which are so entangled that they hold the seeds together firmly; these hairs, however, are absent from the upper half of the seed, whose thin brittle vascular primine is shining, smooth, and marked with a brown nipple, the remains of the foramen. Within the primine lies the bony crustaceous secundine, which is quite loose, and seems as if it were independent of the primine. Eventually the end of the thin brittle primine breaks like an eggshell and the secundine falls out. The seeds themselves, remaining attached to each other and to the follicle, resemble six deep cells, or may be rather compared to half a dozen brown eggshells, placed on the broad end, from which the young have escaped through the point.
Sir Thomas Mitchell has named the genus after Sir Henry T. De la Beche, as president of a Society which has greatly encouraged him in his Australian researches; and in honour of a science which has occasionally thrown some light on his dark and difficult path. It may be scientifically described as follows:—
CHAR. GEN. CALYX 5-fidus, valvatus. ANTHEROE congestae. STYLI. . . . STIGMATA. . . . FOLLICULI coriaceo-papyracei, 6-spermi, longè stipitati, intus stellato-pubescentes. SEMINA albuminosa, albumine bipartibili cotyledonibus foliaceis parum adhaerente, pube stellari basi vestita, inter se et fundo folliculi cohaerentia; PRIMINÂ laxâ, tenui, fragili, apice foramine incrassato notatâ, SECUNDINÂ crustaceâ, demum liberâ chalazâ magnâ circulari notatâ. EMBRYONIS radicula hilo contraria.
ARBOR grandis, trunco in dolii speciem tumescente. LIGNUM album, laxum, mucilagine repletum, vasis porosis (bothrenchymate) maximis faciem internam cujusque zonae occupantibus, radiis medullaribus tenuibus equidistantibus. FOLIA lineari-oblonga, acuminata, integerrima, in petiolum filiformem ipsis duplbreviorem insidentia, subtus pallida et quasi vernice quâdam cinereâ obducta. INFLORESCENTIA axillaris, trichotoma, tomentosa, foliis brevior. CALYX valvatus, utrinque tomentosus.
The wood of the tree has a remarkably loose texture: it is soft, and brittle, owing to the presence of an enormous quantity of very large tubes of pitted tissue, some of which measure a line and half across; they form the whole inner face of each woody zone. When boiling water is poured over shavings of this wood a clear jelly, resembling tragacanth, is formed and becomes a thick viscid mass; iodine stains it brown, but not a trace of starch is indicated in it. No doubt the nutritious quality of the tree is owing to the mucilage, which is apparently of the same nature as that of the nearly allied Tragacanth tree of Sierra Leone (STERCULIA TRAGACANTHA).
It is not a little remarkable that the barrel-like form of the trunk should be almost exactly paralleled by another Sterculiad, the CHORISIA VENTRICOSA of Nees, called by the Brazilian Portuguese PAO BARRIGUDO. It seems, however, that a tendency to a short lumpish mode of growth is common among the order, as is indicated by the Baobab of Senegal, which is almost as broad as it is long, and the great buttress trees, or Silk-Cottons of tropical America. — J. L.]
9TH MAY. — The thermometer stood at 19° in my tent this morning, yet no ice appeared on the adjacent pool; for this reason, we named that branch of the river Frosty Creek. In order to leave a more direct track for Mr. Kennedy to follow with the drays, I made the carts return about two miles to the spot where we first made these ponds. There I had a trench cut across the track to the camp we had quitted, and also buried a letter for Mr. Kennedy, in which I instructed him to avoid that detour which might have otherwise led him into scrubs. We then prolonged our track from the south, northward across the open downs. I travelled in the direction of the meridian, and most of our route, this morning, marked a due north line. We came, at length, upon a watercourse which I took for our river, as the banks were finely rounded, the ponds full of water, and the woods quite open. The scenery was parklike and most inviting. The watercourse, soon, however, dwindled into a mere chain of ponds, and these at last were found to contain no water, when we had completed our day’s journey. Open downs surrounded us, and fortunately I could still distinguish my rocky position of yesterday, where I had noted that the general direction of the river channel we had now again left, bore N. W. We were still much to the southward of the line so observed, apprehending, as I did think then, that some tempting plains might take us too far along some western tributary. Riding in search of water, I perceived a column of smoke to the northward; and, taking the party in that direction, we found, in the first valley we fell in with, a chain of ponds, and in one of these water enough for our use, whereupon I gladly encamped. This day we discovered a new EUCALYPTUS which casts its bark in small angular pieces.46 Latitude, 26° 33’ 34” S. Thermometer, at 4 P. M., 74°; at sunset, 63°. Height above the sea, 1299 feet.
46 [E. VIMINALIS (Hook. MS.); foliis alternis glaucis lineari-lanceolatis breviter tenuiter petiolatis subfalcatis utrinque acuminatis reticulatovenosis, nervis lateralibus marginem prope, racemis paucifloris axillaribus, calyce turbinato in pedicellum brevem attenuato.]
10TH MAY. — Continued nearly northwards, over fine open forest land. The sprinkling of mountains of peculiar forms here and there, and the open country, which showed a bluey distance, were new features in the scenery, and most pleasing to us, so long accustomed to travel through a level woody country. The visible possibility of overlooking the country from any eminence, is refreshing at all times, but to an explorer it is every thing; besides he is not half so much in danger of wanting water, when in the neighbourhood of mountains: with these sentiments I went forward this morning, even although rather despairing of seeing more of our friendly river. We crossed two chains of dry ponds, apparently some of its highest sources. Still I travelled steadily towards a fine mountain before us, over open downs, but with scrubs on either side. Reaching a dry bushy hill S. E. of the mountains, about the time we should have encamped, I perceived that the country sloped most to the eastern side of it, which was rather out of my course; for the sake of finding water more readily I got into a water-course falling that way, and followed it down. This, opening soon into grassy flats, enabled us to avoid the scrubs. The welcome white-trunked Eucalyptus next over-hung the holes of the water-course, and the valleys spread into beautiful open plains, gracefully fringed with Acacia pendula. Still, the ponds were dry. I crossed a bare grassy eminence, and, where several channels met, I saw luxuriant white trunks; heard and saw many cockatoos of the same colour (PSITTACUS GALERITUS); and found there an abundant pond of water, beside which we encamped. On some of the Eucalyptus trees grew a beautiful Loranthus, which was new to us; it proved to be one formerly discovered by the indefatigable Allan Cunningham, but only now described by Sir William Hooker.47 Thermometer, at sunrise, 28°; at 4 P. M., 76°; at 9, 38°; — with wet bulb, 34°.
47 [L. NUTANS (All. Cunn. in Hook. Herb.) totus incano-glaucescens, foliis oblongis ellipticis sublanceolatis obtusis coriaceis obscure trinerviis tenui-rubro-marginatis basi in petiolum mediocrem attenuatis, pedunculis axillaribus longitudine petiolorum racemosis compositis, floribus ternis nutantibus, calycibus globoso-campanulatis ore contracto, petalis linearibus. — Two varieties, a narrow-leaved and a broad-leaved, were subsequently discovered; that now described was the narrow-leaved form.]
11TH MAY. — I ascended the mountain accompanied by two men with axes, and one carrying my theodolite. The summit was covered with thick scrub interlaced with vines, but my horse could push his way almost any where. I fortunately found a rock near the summit, and, on throwing down a few of the trees about it, obtained an extensive view over the country to the northward. Open downs surrounded the mountain. Beyond these, valleys, also clear of trees, or thinly wooded, fell on one side to the S. E., on another side, other valleys fell to the N. W., leaving a rather elevated tract between; which appeared to connect this mountain with a range just dimly visible, bearing nearly north. The valley descending towards the N. W., seemed to me to be the head of a river likely to pass through a remarkable gap in a flat range, beyond which the view did not extend. To the westward a woody, and rather level country appeared, from which I thought I saw ridges, with plains or downs between them, descending towards the N. W. river.
Anxious to discover the division of the waters, I carefully levelled my theodolite and swept the northern horizon, but found, to my surprise, that the country to the westward was lower than the hill on which I stood, and that the ridge northward with the gap in it, was lower still, the only greater elevation visible being the lofty mass bearing about due north. Could this be all the obstruction I was prepared to open a pass through? Could the hidden mystery of the division between the northern and southern waters be here? Far in the east, a river line was evident from columns of smoke, as well as from the termination of various lateral ranges, between my position and the great mountain to the northward. That was, probably, still the Balonne falling southward. Here I had found an interior river that would, at all events, lead north-west, and this I resolved to follow. On this mountain there grew, in several spots, the remarkable trees I had first seen on Mount Abundance; some of them much resembling bottles, but tapering near the root. On descending and returning to the camp, which was about five miles from the hill, I found eight natives, who had come frankly forward to the party during my absence. I was very glad to see them, and gave to an old man, a tomahawk to express my sentiments, and welcome the strangers, for little could be understood by our native, of their speech, or by them, of his. We did, however, make out from them, that the hill I had just returned from, was “Bindango;” its lesser brother to the westward of it, Bindyègo; and the ponds or creek beside which we were then encamped, “Tagàndo;” all very good sonorous names, which I was glad to adopt at once in my notes and map. These natives were coloured with iron-ochre, and had a few feathers of the white cockatoo, in the black hair of their foreheads and beards. These simple decorations gave them a splendid holiday appearance, as savages. The trio who had visited us some days before, were all thoughtful observation; these were merry as larks, and their white teeth, constantly visible, shone whiter than even the cockatoo’s feathers on their brows and chins. Contrasted with our woollen-jacketted, straw-hatted, great-coated race, full of work and care, it seemed as if nature was pleased to join in the laugh, at the expense of the sons of art. Sun never shone upon a merrier group of mortals than these children of nature appeared to be. One amongst them was a fine powerful fellow, whose voice sounded so strongly, that it seemed as if his very whisper might be heard half a mile off. The old man remained by our fire all night; the others who, as I understood, were all his sons, had departed about 11 P. M., having left their gins in the vicinity. Thermometer, at sunrise, 22°; at noon, 76°; at 4 P. M., 59°; at 9, 35°.
12TH MAY. — I took a ride in the direction where I hoped to find a river flowing towards the interior, according to my observations at Mount Bindango. I rode over an open plain, or open forest country, soon found the dells marked by water-courses, and, at length, the channel of a river, with the Yarra trees. Following this new channel downwards a short way, I found the beds of the ponds moist, and seven emus, running from one a-head of me, first indicated the situation of a large pond; from which three wood-ducks also waddled away as I approached it. This water was only fifteen miles from where I had left the party encamped, to which I hastened back with the tidings of a discovery that was likely to expedite so much our momentous journey. Thermometer, at sunrise, 30°; at noon, 81°; at 4 P. M., 59°; at 9, 52°; — with wet bulb, 51°. Height above the sea, 1168 feet.
13TH MAY. — I buried a letter here for Mr. Kennedy. This day the party crossed the dividing ground, which I found to be elevated only 1563 feet above the sea, and consisting, as already stated, of fine open grassy downs, sprinkled with Acacia pendula and other shrubs. One or two knolls projected, however, and resembled islands in a sea of grass. I rode to one and found it consisted wholly of trap-rock in nodules. This was the first trap I had seen during the journey beyond the Barwan, and from their aspect I thought that other minor features of the mountains Bindango and Bindyègo, which I had not leisure to examine then, also consisted of this rock. The little knoll I did visit, was about one hundred yards in diameter at its base on the plains, and was covered with trees wholly different from those in the adjacent forest, namely, CALLITRIS PYRAMIDALIS, EUCALYPTUS (Iron-bark species), etc. We next descended to a separate system of drainage, apparently falling to the north-west. Instead of following rivers upwards, as we had hitherto been doing, and finding them grow less, or taking a tributary for a main channel, we were now to follow one downwards, with the prospect of finding it to increase as we proceeded. The relief from the constant apprehension of not falling in with water was great, as each day’s journey was likely to show additional tributaries to our new found river, and, of course, to augment the supply. The old native at Tagàndo, had pointed much to the north-west, frequently repeating the word “MARAN;” whether that was, or what was, the name of this river, remained to be ascertained. A sweet breeze from the N. W. met us as we descended the slopes, and thus it was that white men first passed in that direction, “AL NACIMIENTO DE LA ESPECERIA.” Thermometer, at sunrise, 26°; at noon, 75°; at 4 P. M., 64°; at 9, 43°. Height of camp above the sea, 1226 feet.
14TH MAY. — The left bank of the river being rather steep and broken, I crossed it, determined to pursue a N. W. course, so long as I found the country open, thinking I might easily fall in with the river about the time I wished to encamp, believing its course would be towards the gap. We passed through some scrub, but chiefly over good forest land. When we had travelled on about ten miles, I saw hills nearly clear of wood before me, and halted the party while I went forward to look at the country in that direction. I soon overlooked a deep dell, full of the richest grass, and wooded like a park. The fall of the enclosing ranges showed me, however, that our river might be further to the westward than I had thought at all likely. On returning to the party, I found they had been called to by natives in our rear, one of whom was formally seated in advance, prepared for a ceremonious interview; and I accordingly went forward to him with the green bough, and accompanied by Yuranigh. We found him in a profuse perspiration about the chest, (from terror, which was not, however, obvious in his manner,) and that he had nothing at all to say to us after all; indeed his language was wholly unintelligible to my native, who, moreover, apprised me that he was the big bully from the tribe at our former encampment, then distant some twenty-five miles. He handled my hat, asked for my watch, my compass, and was about to examine my pockets, when Yuranigh desired him to desist, in a tone that convinced him we were not quite at his mercy. I thought he said that the river was called the “Amby,” and something about the “Culgoa!” It then, for the first time, occurred to me, from a gesture of this man’s arm, that this might be only a tributary to the Culgoa after all. We bade him adieu as civilly as we could, but he hung upon our rear for a mile or two, and I perceived that he had brought with him his whole tribe after us. Nothing more unfortunate can befall an explorer, than to be followed by a wild tribe like this, as I had experienced in former journies. The gift of the tomahawk had done all this mischief, and how it would end, was a thought which caused me some anxiety. The tall savage had set his heart upon our goods and chattels, and it was not in human nature for him to desist from his aggressive purpose, if we could not, in some way, contrive to cheek the pursuit. I knew instinctively, by the first sound of a loud whisper of his at “Tagando” at night, near our tents, that there was no music in this man’s soul. We soon arrived at a ridge of ferruginous sandstone, whereof the strike tended S. S. W. and the dip was to the eastward. A gradual ascent brought us to the verge of a low ridge, which was steep towards the N. W., and a rocky knoll (of red sand-stone) afforded me a view of the gap I had seen from Bindango, and hills about it. I perceived, with great disappointment, that the structure of the country was not according to my anticipations. The river course seemed marked out by plains far to the south-west, and all the valleys and watercourses fell FROM the gap in that direction, and not TO the gap. Still the country about that opening looked very inviting. Picturesque hills, clothed with grass and open forest, especially on their summits, and dells between them, yellow or red with rich ripe grass, indicated a spot of the finest description; and through the gap lay my destined line of route, to the north-west, river or no river. Just then, however, we wanted water, but on following a little channel about a mile downwards, we found in it a spacious pond, and encamped. I rode three miles further down this channel, which there turned SOUTHWARD, so that I despaired of my newly discovered river Amby being of any further utility now; but I was almost convinced that it would have brought me into this very country, had I come round by Fort Bourke. Latitude 26° 17’ 8” S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 35°; at 4 P. M., 80°; at 7 P. M., 71°; at 9, 48°. Height above the sea, 1150 feet.
15TH MAY. — My servant Brown drew my attention, early this morning, to natives occasionally peeping at us from a hill overlooking our camp. Some time after, I perceived a figure resembling a large black quadruped, with head erect like a lion, prowling about, amongst the long grass beside my after breakfast tree. Taking my glass, I recognized the identical big savage of yesterday.
Hamlet might here have exclaimed —
“What a piece of work is man!
. . . . . . . . how infinite in faculties!
In form and action how like a QUADRUPED!
In apprehension, how like a DEVIL!”
There the fate of Mr. Darke48 doubtless awaited me; and this was to be the result of my spontaneous gift of a tomahawk to the old man! This savage had evidently been watching us all night, and his party were concealed behind the hill. Our only remaining little dog, Procyon, had been very restless during the night, when these people were, probably, drinking at the pond near us. My rifle (fortunately I now think) was in the case, but I fired a carbine so that the fellow should hear the bullet whistle near him into the long grass; and at the same time shouted, expressive of my disgust at his conduct, making the men join in a loud JEERING cheer as he galloped off, still on all-fours, towards his camp. My horse was standing saddled for a ride of reconnoissance in a different direction, and, as it was not desirable that these people should know either where I went, or even that I was absent, I took this opportunity of frightening them away from our rear, and covering my ride the other way. With this intention, I immediately mounted, rode first to the tree, with my rifle in hand, and, accompanied by one of the men and Yuranigh, both mounted, I next examined their camp behind the hill, whence I found that a great number had just retired, leaving even their opossums still roasting on the fire; — they having, in a very brief interval, by rapid strides, retired to a considerable distance, where I heard their shouts in the woods, calling their gins together for a precipitate retreat — aware that we were now justly offended. I then set out, passing behind some hills on the opposite side of our camp, and proceeded with the business of the day, through woods in an opposite direction. I found a low flat-topped range, extending nearly W. N. W., and consisting of black ferruginous sandstone. It was broad and of peculiar structure, so that it might well have been considered a dividing feature. Parallel to it on the south, a line of pointed hills of trap or basalt, extended so as to give birth, in the valley intervening, to the watercourse by which we were encamped. On one of these Mr. Kennedy afterwards found the Bottle tree, represented at page 154. I at length reached the gap in this range, and in it discovered a most favourable and curious opening to the country westward. Passing, then, into that region, I eagerly sought a watercourse, soon found one, and followed it down to Yarra trees and dry ponds; its first direction having been, as usually remarked in the commencement of various other channels, to the N. W. Following this downwards, I found the valley to improve, and two retreating emus drew our attention to a particular spot, where we found water, at length, in a pond. But the course of this little river had come round to S. W., and the ridges enclosing its tributaries from the eastward, being apparently in the same direction, I was still rather at a loss, but determined to bring forward my little party to this pond, and then to reconnoitre the country beyond. The XEROTES LEUCOCEPHALA was just coming into flower, and the country seemed to contain much good grass. Thermometer, at sunrise, 38°; at noon, 82°; at 4 P. M., 82°; at 9, 43°.
48 [This gentleman was killed by natives when obeying the calls of nature behind a tree.]
16TH MAY. — We pursued a tolerably straight and level route with the carts, from the camp to the Pass. The trap hills appearing successively on the right hand, rendered the scenery more than ordinarily picturesque, while the probable future utility of this pass, gave them still more importance in my estimation. We found a more direct route than along the creek, to my pond of yesterday, where we encamped, thankful to find water at such a convenient distance, during such a dry season. Lat. 26° 15’ 24” S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 27°; at 4 P. M., 83°; at 9, 49°. Height above the sea, of the Pass, 1458 feet; — of this camp, 1256 feet.
17TH MAY. — Another reconnoissance seemed indispensable, before I could move the carts. Taking the direction of an opening in the sandstone ranges before us, I found that our little creek turned (as I hoped it would), to the W. and N. W., having on all sides broken ranges enveloping valleys of good open forest land. Some of the tops of these ranges were clear of timber, and bore a heavy crop of grass. I ascended one, and found it was capped with trap rock in amygdaloidal nodules. This height afforded me an extensive view northward, where the country appeared to be chiefly flat and thinly wooded. A low range of hills broke the horizon, and presented some favourable points, and I thought I could trace the course of our little river, through an extensive intervening woody flat. I descended from the hill, and followed the little river down, but could find no more water in its ponds. There were the Yarra trees, and fine grassy flats on its banks; and I came to a fine looking piece of rising ground, on the right bank, where the grass was on fire. We sought the inhabitants of the woods, but could discover none. I now found our creek turning towards the south, and that its channel disappeared in a spacious open flat. While thus perplexed, and under an apprehension that our further progress northward in such a season would be found impossible, I perceived a dense line of trees, skirting a grassy flat, and rode towards it, observing, that any where else I should have said we were approaching a large river. I next perceived steep sloping earthy banks; then, below these, a deep section of rock, and at length, dark green reeds, and the blue surface of extensive reaches of water. I had left my party at a pond that could not have lasted long — here I saw at once secure, a firm footing thus far into the interior. Whence the river came, or whither it went, was of less importance; thus far we had water. The river was fully as large as the Darling, and I very soon saw that its course was from N. to S.; but in that case, we could, by following it upwards, penetrate far on our way into the interior, and at its sources probably fall in with other streams, flowing where we wished to go. I followed the course downwards about two miles, and passed through native camps just deserted, the water vessels and other gear of the natives having been left suspended on trees near their fires. I found that the river turned sharp under the rocky extremities of sandstone spurs from the S., and that its final course was an enigma not to be solved without much more research. I returned to my camp, glad that I could take the party forward to a permanent supply of water. Thermometer, at sunrise, 29°; at noon, 78°; at 4 P. M. 75°; at 9, 49°.
18TH MAY. — Leaving a buried letter for Mr. Kennedy we proceeded to trace, with our cart-wheels, the best route I could find for the heavy drays coming forward with him. The soil was sandy, but in other respects the country was good: consisting chiefly of open forest, and being well covered with grass. Another gap enabled me to pass very directly on to the newly-discovered river, and it seemed that this, and the other gap behind it, were almost the only openings in the ranges from which we had descended. Both led in the direction of our route, and the pond we had just left was ascertained to be the only one in the little channel. I sought a good position for a depôt camp on the newly-discovered river, and found one extremely favourable, on a curve concave to the N. W., overlooking, from a high bank, a dry ford, on a smooth rocky bed; and having also access to a reach of water, where the bottom was hard and firm. We approached this position with our carts, in the midst of smoke and flame; the natives having availed themselves of a hot wind to burn as much as they could of the old grass, and a prickly weed which, being removed, would admit the growth of a green crop, on which the kangaroos come to feed, and are then more easily got at. Latitude of this camp, 26° 12’ 47” S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 40°; at 4 P. M., 78°; at 9, 57°.
19TH MAY. — I could now venture to halt a day without any apprehensions about leaving sufficient water for the party who were following us; and I had recently obtained many angles I wished to put together, in order to learn the character of the country, which required much study. That I should have overlooked an extensive country, without perceiving any indication of a large river flowing through it, almost at my feet, seemed a singular circumstance, and I was still as little aware of its ultimate course. I found on laying down my work on paper, that the chief elevations ran, in a continuous line, nearly due north from Mount Red Cap, Bindango, and Bindyègo, to the high ranges nearer the coast. That the nascent stream on the western side of Bindango (the Amby), and flowing first N. W., turned towards the S. W. within a range of basaltic rock, which was a branch from the main stem between Bindango and the northern range. Thus, upon the whole, this seemed but one side, and that the south-eastern, of the basin of the river we had discovered. Where was the other? The marks of flood were not high. The waters were full of fish, but they would not take the bait. Thermometer, at sunrise, 46°; at noon, 73°; at 4 P. M., 76°; at 9, 65°.
20TH MAY. — The sky was wholly overcast, and drizzling rain afforded us some grounds for hoping that the great impediment to our exploration during this dry season, was at an end. The temperature underwent a sudden change, and this day was the coldest as yet experienced during the journey; the thermometer at noon being only 48°. F. Yuranigh contrived to catch three fishes, of a kind wholly different from those of the rivers in the south; leaving it doubtful, again, whether this river could belong to the system of the Barwan. Thermometer, at sunrise, 53°; at noon, 48°; at 4 P. M., 45°; at 9, 45°.
21ST MAY. — The morning being clear, frosty, and serene, induced me to ride towards an elevated point, about thirteen miles to the north-west, in hopes of obtaining a view of more distant mountains. Crossing the river near our camp I met with no obstruction, but found open forests, and a good grassy country throughout; the soil being, however, rather too loose and sandy, for the easy passage of wheel carriages. I crossed three channels of water-courses all dry, but evidently receptacles of water in ordinary seasons. They now contained a most luxuriant crop of oat-grass (Anthistiria). The hill was rocky and open on the summit, the chief trees being very remarkable; especially a species of FICUS, of a unique kind, but not in fruit, closely resembling the English ash; but growing wholly on rock. Bottle trees (DELABECHEA) grew also in a romantic nook, such as they seem to delight in, in the neighbourhood of minor shrubs, equally strange. The rock consisted of a sandstone with vegetable impressions, such as I had never seen on the sandstone of the ranges. From this summit, the crests of very distant ranges appeared to the northward; the highest bearing nearly north, by compass, and apparently distant 70 or 80 miles. The course of the river, or at least of a river, judging by a line of smoke, came from the north-westward, between that mountain, and others to the westward of it. More to the right, or eastward, the horizon presented flat-topped ranges; increasing in elevation as they receded from that side of the country whence we had come. That sort of level horizon seemed always to bound our view to the southward, the little gap was the only relieving blue break in the whole of that side. The eye ranged over a vast extent of country, however, at its base, extending eastward, where open plains or downs shone bright in the remote distance; in which direction, much smoke arose from fires of the natives. I returned from the hill but little wiser than I went, except that I had observed the strata dipping southward, and that we might, therefore, still look for their synclinal line to the northward; and beyond that, for the heads of other rivers. These hills, overlooking the valley of the river, resembled rocky bergs, at a distance of ten or twelve miles west of it. They, however, partly formed a small range, and belonged to an extensive tract of sandstone country; which, on the south, was broken into gullies, falling towards the river. Thermometer, at sunrise, 27°; at noon, 54°; at 4 P. M., 55°; at 9, 30°.
22D MAY. — This morning, the thermometer in my tent stood at 20°; and in the open air, at 12°. The river was frozen, and the grass was white with hoar-frost. The soil appearing so sandy in the country before us, I resolved to form a depôt with our drays and heavy equipment here, and to await their arrival before I proceeded further with the carts. The spot was eligible in every respect; and in awaiting the arrival of Mr. Kennedy with the drays, I could have time to investigate more extensively the character of the surrounding country. I was, indeed, rather apprehensive that the drays could not reach without difficulty even this point; and I was resolved, on their arrival, to make some arrangement for continuing the journey, without dragging them any further through the heavy sand. It was most irksome, during the finest of weather, thus to be obliged to remain comparatively inactive, in the middle of such a journey, when horses and light carts might have enabled me to have pursued it to a conclusion, without such delays. Thermometer, at noon, 54°; at 4 P. M., 55°; at 9, 27°.
23D MAY. — The river seemed to cut its way through rocky ranges, and to receive many tributaries; had, in some places, bergs, and margins of ancient gravel and sedimentary strata; in others, rocky escarps of great height, presented sections of rocks through which it passed. Its further course downwards, seemed accessible for some way from this camp; and, in awaiting the arrival of the drays, I resolved to explore it. With this view, I this day proceeded westward to head the gullies falling to it from the other bank, from the sandstone country already mentioned. I ascended by an extremity of the hill, to the rocky crest without difficulty, or much deviation from my intended course. On reaching the western side of the rough scrubby table of the range, I found the descent gradual, through an open forest: traversed two flats, having in them the Yarra gums, but no water-course, the surface very sandy. Here grew the ACACIA CONFERTA, a small shrub just coming into flower; the XANTHORRHOEA MIMOSA (with rough bark), yellow gum, black-butted gum, iron-bark, and stringy bark. The woods astonished my native companion Yuranigh; who remarked that they were trees belonging to the sea coast at Sydney. But deep rocky ravines prevented me from exploring the country, in the direction in which I should have expected to find the river. At length, we approached a valley, in which was a deep channel with rocky banks; but quite dry, and very sandy. It ran to the southward; in which direction I turned with it, to follow it to its junction with the main river; but it pursued a very tortuous course, and our time did not admit of my going far enough that day, and I returned to the camp, resolved to extend this interesting search on a greater scale subsequently. I had seen, from the furthest point I reached, that the same table land to the southward, extended west; and it therefore appeared to me probable that the river would be found at its base. In the evening we heard, at a short distance from our camp, the songs of females or children; as if the overflowing of their animal spirits. I had seen their smoke in a part of the range I passed this day, to which I feared they had fled on our approach, hearing our guns, and in terror of strangers. I was, therefore, glad to find that they had no longer any dread of us, and had returned to THEIR home, the river bank. These people had no clothing — the mercury stood at 19° and 20° F.; the means of subsistence open to them, had been scarcely enough to have kept white men alive, even with the aid of their guns. Yet, under such circumstances, and with such strange visitors so close to them, these human beings were so contented and happy, that the overflowings of their hearts were poured forth in song! Such is human nature in a wild state. Their happiness was not such as we could envy; on the contrary, I was so solicitous that we should not disturb it, that, much as I wished to learn the original name of this interior river, and something about its course, I forbade any of the party from taking any notice of these, its original inhabitants. Our last intercourse with the natives, had also taught me to bear ever in mind aesop’s fable of the camel. Thermometer, at sunrise, 12°; at noon, 52°; at 4 P. M., 56°; at 9, 32°.
24TH MAY. — I proceeded, with two men bearing axes, to a hill about two miles S. W. of our camp, one of the extremities of the range already mentioned, (which I call River Head Range). We passed, at no great distance from our camp, those natives whose song we had heard last evening, but without taking any notice of them, except by slightly waving my hand. One tall female stooped amongst the long grass, and several others, male and female, endeavoured to hide themselves in a similar manner, as they beheld, probably for the first time, a white man on horseback, followed by others bearing a saw and axes. On the summit, grew the Malga tree; which is an acacia of such very hard wood, that I was obliged to be content to cut off the top branches only of a tree on the summit I had endeavoured to cut down, and to erect a sort of platform on the remainder, whence I took my angles. Up the river, there appeared some open plains, and a level horizon, in the direction of its apparent course. Thermometer, at sunrise, 11°; at noon, 65°; at 4 P. M., 67°; and at 9, 30°.
25TH MAY. — Protracting the observed angles I endeavoured to fix, if possible, some prominent points, whereby I might obtain some knowledge of the structure of the surrounding country. The result of my work was a conviction that the course of the river was parallel to the projecting extremities of the low range beyond it (River Head Range), and that its basin had extensive ramifications, back amongst the sandstone cliffs on this side. But the course downwards still remained a question, which diminished in its importance, as I discovered the upper course to come from where it was my wish to go. I resolved, nevertheless, while thus awaiting the arrival of the drays, to extend my ride of the 23RD MAY, and ascertain whether it could turn westward under the southern cliffs, the only direction in which it was likely to be available to us, downwards, at this time. Thermometer, at sunrise, 17°; at noon, 70°; at 4 P.M. 68°; and at 9, 38°.
26TH MAY. — Taking with me two men and Yuranigh, mounted, I retraced my former track to the westward, and on proceeding beyond the dry river bed, where I had previously been, I entered amongst sandstone gullies, where one grassy flat extended nearly in the direction I wished to pursue; and this brought me to a sort of table-land, covered with an open forest of iron-bark (with the common leaf). The rock consisted here of the same felspathic sort characterising most of the hills of the Barwan basin; the soil sterile, bearing, in lieu of the ordinary grass, the stiff, hard leaved, glutinous TRIODIA PUNGENS. But this was better than scrub, and, further on, I perceived through a forest on the western slopes, the blue distance and yellow plains of an open country. As plains usually accompany rivers, I believed I was approaching the river I was in search of. We crossed a deep watercourse falling to the S.E.b.S., and entered on a noble flat of firm rich soil, whereon grew luxuriantly, the ACACIA PENDULA (not previously seen by us in that region), and the two best kinds of grass, ANTHISTIRIA and PANICUM LOEVINODE. Then we came to a good pond of water, with recent footmarks of natives, and, at about a mile beyond, we reached the open downs. They extended eastward as far as we could see between the range on the S., under which I had expected to find the river, and the rocky country over which we had come. Westward, the downs were bounded by several very picturesque isolated conical hills — the southern sandy ranges on the S., still continuing westward like a limit to all this interior open country. Yet through that barrier the river had found a course, and instead of its overlooking the river, I found that the ground rose towards it, and I hastened four or five miles further westward, in hopes still to see it beyond the open downs, but I saw nothing like it. Kangaroos showed their heads occasionally amid the long grass: the air was all astir with pigeons, and traces of native inhabitants were numerous. As the sun was then near setting, we hastened back to the pond, and lay down beside it for the night, which happened to be a mild one. Thermometer, at sunrise, 20°; at noon, 72°; at 4 P.M., 71°; at 9, 44°.
27TH MAY. — We rode nearly westward towards a conical hill, which I had seen on the evening before, and named Mount Lonsdale. This peak appeared to me then to promise an extensive view to the W. and S.W., and in that expectation I was not disappointed. I also fortunately recognised two of my fixed points, at distances of thirty-two and fortytwo miles respectively, besides an elevated extremity of the continuous range on the S., which I had previously intersected, and here determined to be only five miles off, bearing about S.E.b.S. I could now see not only westward, but to the southward of S.W., for nearly twenty miles over a long flat, containing indeed, a line of ACACIA PENDULA scrub, such as accompanies lines of water drainage, but no river. All the country in sight more to the northward seemed to fall that way, or southward, and although it seemed possible that a cross line of valley and blue mist at the far extremity of the flat might be the river, it was much more probable, from the general slope of the country, that it was only another tributary coming from the north.49 Such was Yuranigh’s opinion too, who alone stood on that peak with me, and who there reminded me of the fate of the rivers Macquarie and Narran, and maintained that rivers were not to be found every where. “Where then is our river, Mr. Yuranigh?” “Bel me know,” was the reply. I could soon have found this out, however, had it been an object for our journey northward. It was enough to know then that it did not turn into that interior country, which was open, and looked much lower, and how much further the fine valley extended beyond the twenty miles, an adjacent woody hill prevented me from seeing. The land around me was fair to look on; nothing could be finer than the forms of the hills — half clear of wood, the disposition of open grassy downs and vales — or the beauty of the woods. Water was not wanting, at least there seemed to be enough for the present inhabitants, and to an admirer of nature there was all that could be desired. Deeply impressed with its sublime and solitary beauty, I sketched the scene, and descended from that hill, resolved to follow the river upwards, as more favourable, in that direction, to the chief object of my mission. I named the hill overlooking that lonely dale, Mount Lonsdale, in honour of my valuable geological friend. We reached the dépot camp in the evening, and found all well, only that a very tall and powerful native had been reconnoitring our position during the day, from various trees commanding a view of it; probably only from curiosity. These visits, however, always happened to be made, as it would appear, when some portion of the party was absent, as on this occasion. Thermometer, at sunrise, 34°; at noon, 79°; at 4 P.M., 68°; at 9, 59°; with wet bulb, 50°.
49 [Probably the Nive. See INFRA.]
28TH AND 29TH MAY. — My ride westward had enabled me to intersect more points to the northward; but this was certainly the most intricate country I had ever either to survey or explore; for neither by laying down points on a map, nor by overlooking it from high summits, could I gain a satisfactory knowledge of its structure. Upon the whole, however, I was convinced that the downward course of the river, above our depôt camp, was in a favourable direction for the continuation of our journey. The arrival of the drays and the rest of the party was now an important desideratum; for I had resolved to establish them in a dephere, and continue the journey with a smaller party and the horses; the sandy soil beyond the river, appearing almost impassable for the absurdly heavy drays, with which the party had been equipped. They had now had nearly time sufficient to come thus far, making due allowance for sand and other obstructions. In the mean while I determined to extend my reconnoissance northward from a commanding height, distant fourteen miles, and bearing 27½° E. of N. from my camp. Thermometer, at sunrise, 47°; at noon, 85°; at 4 P.M., 79°: at 9, 65°.
30TH MAY. — I proceeded, accordingly, to the hill, over a tract of excellent open forest land, which extended to its base. The summit consisted of trap-rock in nodules, and, towards the highest point, was much broken. On the most elevated part of the summit, grew one of those remarkable trees, first seen by me on Mount Abundance. I had since seen them in various solitary singular situations; two on the Hogs’-back crest of Bindango; two or three near the summit of various other heights. The girth of this was thirty feet at its greatest circumference, and only sixteen at the ground. There was only one companion of the same kind, a very young one, beside this; which in locality, form, and quality, seems to be as remarkable a tree, amongst trees in general, as the kangaroo is remarkable amongst other animals. Of its quality, much, I am sure, remains to be said, when it becomes better known; the wood being so light, moist, and full of gum, that a man, having a knife or tomahawk, might live by the side of one without other food or water; as if nature in pity for the most distressed of mortals, hiding in solitary places, had planted even there this tree of Abundance. The wood must contain a great portion of mucilage, for, on chewing it, it seems to contain as much nutritious matter, as fibre. The pods contain a great number of seeds which are eaten by the natives, and also by many birds; and, from the circumstance of my having found one pod half-eaten by a bird on a rock, the very apex of a lofty summit, the solitary locality of this tree may, perhaps, be considered at least partly owing to its seeds being the favourite food of some birds inhabiting such places, each seed probably requiring to be picked out of the thick shell, in order that it may grow.50 The view the hill afforded me was most gratifying and satisfactory. I saw again Mounts Bindango, Bindyego and Abundance, to the southward; the cone I had lately visited in the west, (Mount Lonsdale): the course of the river downwards, marked by open plains in the S. W.; and, an extensive rather level country lay to the northward, beyond which, at great distances, the summits of lofty mountains were just visible. Through the wide champagne country intervening, the river’s course seemed marked by a line of smoke; a hot wind was then blowing, and the natives are in the habit of burning off the old grass on such occasions. The river seemed to come from the mountains, nearly from the N.N.W.; so that the prospect of finding water in that direction, or towards these mountains, was all I could desire. Here I intersected various lofty distant summits seen on the 21st instant, and could thus connect the whole trigonometrically with back angles to Bindango, Mount Abundance, etc. In the eastward, a range of tabular masses, some almost clear of wood, extended apparently to the coast ranges; and seemed to be also connected with those stretching towards Bindango, and separating the basin of the upper Balonne from this interior country. A hill similar to that on which I stood, but of less height, lay on the interior side of it, having a remarkable conic summit clear of bushes. The valley at the base of these two hills contained a fine crop of ANTHISTIRIA; and there was also a chain of ponds, where natives had been encamped not long before, but in which no water then remained.
50 [A new genus, since named DELABECHEA.]
On returning to the camp in the evening, I learnt that soon after I left it in the morning, two natives came boldly up, painted white, bearing, each, several spears and four or five bommerengs. They were followed by two females bearing loads of spears. The men were got immediately under arms, forming a line before the tents, and Corporal Graham beckoned to the natives to halt. They pointed after me, and by very plain gestures motioned to the party to follow me, or to begone. Finding the men before the tents made the same signs to them, and stood firm, the principal speaker edged off towards a man at a distance, in charge of the horses. Graham got between, so as to cover the man and the horses, when they advanced more boldly upon him, quivering their poised spears at him, at a distance of only ten or twelve paces. At length the foremost man turned round, and by slapping his posteriors, gave him to understand by that vulgar gesture, his most contemptuous defiance: this induced the old soldier to discharge his carbine over the head of the savage, who first sprung some feet into the air, and then ran off with all the others. Soon after, the same native was seen creeping up the steep bank, so as to approach the camp under the cover of some large trees, the rest following, and he was again met by our party. He then seemed to recite with great volubility a description of the surrounding territory, as he continually pointed in the course of his harangue to various localities, and in this description he was prompted by the female behind, who also, by rapid utterance and motions of the arm, seemed to recite a territorial description. Finding, however, that his speech made no impression on the white strangers, and that they still beckoned them to depart; he stuck a spear into the ground, and, by gestures, seemed to propose that, on the one side, the ground should be occupied by the strangers, and on the other side, by them. Graham apparently assenting to this, they seemed more satisfied and departed. There were two deep reaches; one above, the other below, our camp. The upper one was deepest, largest, and more remote from our party, and most within reach of the natives. I gave strict orders that no man should go there; nor that the cattle should be allowed to feed there; that it should, in fact, be left wholly to the natives; that no ducks should be shot, that no men should fish there. Nothing could be more reasonable than the proposal of this native, nor more courageous than his appearance before our more numerous party, with his spears and open defiance; and I was determined to take every precaution to avoid a collision with his small tribe, and prevent, during our probably long residence here, our people from doing them any harm. Thermometer, at sunrise, 22°; at noon, 60°; at 4 P.M., 63°; at 9, 31°.
1ST JUNE. — The sound of a distant shot about noon, which proceeded from the Doctor firing at a bird, gave us the first notice of the approach of the other party. Soon after, Mr. Kennedy came in, measuring the line; and, subsequently, the drays, and the whole of the men in good health. The cattle had got refreshed without delaying me, and I could now again proceed with a good supply of stores, leaving them again in depôt here. Mr. Kennedy had examined the river, about which I had written to him, for twelve miles up, and found that it was a separate river, coming from the N.W., and that in all its bed no water could be found. The tribe of Tagando had been troublesome to him, as I feared they would, after their attempt upon us. The following account of their visit to Mr. Kennedy is from his own notes:—“At 1 P.M., an old native, accompanied by five younger men, approached the camp, each carrying a green bough, and when within forty yards, they sat down in a line, the old man (probably their chief) taking up his position about four yards in advance of the rest. Sir Thomas Mitchell having mentioned, in a communication I received here, that the natives had been friendly to him, I was anxious to preserve that good feeling, but at the same time to keep them at a distance, according to my instructions. I therefore went up to them with a green bough, and endeavoured by signs to make them leave:— finding that of no avail, I presented the chief with an old hat, and gave to each a piece of bread. After they had eaten it, I raised the old man with my right hand, and taking another in my left, I led them away in the direction whence they had come, broke off a green branch, gave a portion to each, and bid them farewell. As the others still remained in STATU QUO, I went through the same ceremony with them until they were all on their path homewards. Having heard nothing more of them for some time, I flattered myself that I had succeeded in giving them a friendly hint that we did not wish them beside us; but I soon discovered my mistake, for at 4 P.M. a large number of natives, accompanied by two or three gins and children, came boldly up and encamped within a few yards of the tents, and two hundred more were reported to me by Mortimer as being at a short distance in their rear. I gave strict orders that no man should go near them, and I mustered the party myself at 8 P.M. Shortly afterwards, three or four natives came down to our fires, and on the men saying that they would not be made to leave, I put my hand upon their shoulders, and shewed them their own camp. One tall young native in particular, wearing an opossum cloak, exhibited a strong inclination to resist. I continued to watch their movements until half-past eleven, P.M. up to which time they were talking very earnestly, continually repeating the words “white fellow.” I had not retired to my tent five minutes when I heard Baldock (one of the two men on watch) several times desire the natives to go back, who, as it appeared, would insist on coming forward to our fires. Serjeant Niblet then called me, saying he thought “all was not right,” that the natives refused to keep away, and that he had seen the fire sticks of others approaching from several directions. On turning out, I found them making a line of fires within twenty-five yards or less of our tents, and the grass on fire, the old man urging them on in their mischievous work. I called to them in the language of some of the aborigines, to go away quickly, using the words “Yau-a-ca-burri!” but seeing that they still drew nearer with their fires, to the imminent danger of the camp, I desired the men, who by this time had got ready with their arms, to charge them with a shout, but not to fire until they received orders. We succeeded in making them run; when, to add to their alarm, one or two shots were fired in the air. In their haste, they left the old hat I had given them, an iron tomahawk, and a few other implements, behind them, all of which I caused to be left untouched, in order to show them that we had only objected to their intrusion. All being quiet, and the cattle brought close to the camp, I added a third man to the morning watch, and no more was heard of the natives.” This was a specimen of the treacherous nature of their mode of warfare, and very characteristic of the aborigines, but by no means so creditable to them, as the conduct of our neighbours at this camp, where the arrival of the other party was likely to convince them still more, that they could not induce us to quit that position, until we thought proper to do so. I had instructed Mr. Kennedy to continue the numbering of the camps; but as the drays could not keep pace with mine, only some of my camps have been so numbered, the others marked being those where his party had passed the night. This depôt camp was, thus, No. XXIX, and the numbers of such others of mine as have been marked between this and VIII., shall be added to this journal, and the whole marked on the map. A new species of CALLITRIS appeared among the trees, the ACACIA STENOPHYLLA, and the large leaved variety of ACACIA DECORA, further removed than usual from the common form, and approaching, in some respects, to A. RUBIDA. Among the bushes was the beautiful little A. CONFERTA, remarkable for its little heath-like leaves, and among the grasses was remarked an abundance of a new annual SPOROBOLUS with extremely minute flowers.51 Thermometer, at sunrise, 18°; at noon, 64°; at 4 P.M., 64°; at 9, 30°.
51 [S. PALLIDUS (Lindl. MS.) foliis planis glabris ligulâ nulla nisi squamulâ quâdam, paniculâ effusâ ramis brevibus alternis verticillatisque scabriusculis, paleis truncatis alterâ 3-nervi alterâ binervi.]
2D JUNE. — Two half-boats were mounted on frames, and fixed over two of the light carts, and other preparations made for the prosecution of the journey with a small party. My plan was to reduce each man’s ration of flower from 7lbs. to 4lbs. per week: to allow a larger quantity of mutton: some gelatine and barley, dried potatoes, etc. With my party, I now proposed to take forward a portion of the sheep, as not requiring carriage, and Mr. Stephenson, a man to assist him, and the shepherd, formed the only addition to the number with which I had advanced to this point. Mr. Kennedy had brought me a dispatch from Commissioner Mitchell, accompanied by some newspapers, in which I read such passages as the following:—“Australia Felix and the discoveries of Sir Thomas Mitchell now dwindle into comparative insignificance.” “We understand the intrepid Dr. Leichardt is about to start another expedition to the Gulf, keeping to the westward of the coast ranges,” etc., etc. Not very encouraging to us, certainly; but we work for the future. Thermometer, at sunrise, 11°; at noon, 67°; at 4 P.M., 67°; at 9, 30°.
3D JUNE. — This day one of the party caught several fishes in the river, which appeared to be of the same species as the Eelfish, or Plotosus tandanus described in the journal of my first journey (Vol. i. p. 95). It is therein stated to be an Asiatic form of fish, on the authority of Mr. Wm. M’Leay, but in other respects this was identical with one in the Barwan. The course downwards of the new river, which we even now believed to be called the Maran, from what we had gathered from the natives, was thus almost proved to be towards the southern rivers. I instructed Mr. Kennedy to employ the party in digging, and fencing in, and daily watering, a garden; also, to make a stockyard wherein to lodge the cattle at night, as this would leave more men disposable for the immediate protection, if necessary, of the camp and stores. I also gave him very particular instructions as to the natives, that no intercourse should be allowed between them and the men; that he should, nevertheless, use them very civilly, and endeavour to obtain some information, if possible, respecting the final course of the Maran, etc. Thermometer, at sunrise, 16°; at noon, 69°; at 4 P.M., 66°; at 9, 34°.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:11