THE PARTY DESCENDS INTO A VALLEY FALLING NORTHWARD. — COMES UPON A CHAIN OF PONDS. — THE HEAD OF THE RIVER BELYANDO. — FOLLOW IT DOWN, THROUGH MUCH WATER SCARCE AT FIRST, IN ITS BED. — RANGE OF HILLS VISIBLE TO THE EASTWARD. — CROSS THE TROPIC OF CAPRICORN. — MOUNT NARRIEN. — OPEN PLAINS, WEST OF THE RIVER. — WATER MORE PLENTIFUL. — NEW PLANTS DISCOVERED. — DRY CHANNEL OF A LARGE RIVER JOINS FROM S.W. — CROSS IT AND PROCEED N.W. — FROM A HEIGHT OBTAIN A VIEW OF THE NORTHERN HORIZON. — MUCH BRIGALOW SCRUB TRAVERSED. — REACH THE RIVER BY MOONLIGHT. — FOLLOW THE CHANNEL MORE CLOSELY. — COME UPON LARGE REACHES OF WATER. — ANOTHER DRY CHANNEL JOINS FROM W.S.W. — RIDE OF RECONNAISSANCE BEYOND IT, TO THE NORTH-WEST. — CROSS FINE DOWNS. — LIMESTONE IN A THICK SCRUB. — ENTER THICK BRIGALOW. — NIGHT WITHOUT WATER. — NEXT DAY MEET WITH THE RIVER. — ITS COURSE BEING EASTWARD OF NORTH, DETERMINE TO RETURN. — NATIVES. — RETRACE OUR TRACK TO THE PYRAMIDS, IN ORDER TO EXPLORE MORE TO THE WESTWARD. — PREPARE TO DEPART, WITH TWO MEN AND YURANIGH. — WRITE DESPATCH TO THE COLONIAL GOVERNMENT.
20TH JULY. — AFTER a little trouble with the gullies and brigalow scrub, on first setting off, we came upon fine undulating open forest land, and crossed many a gully and small water-course, all declining towards the N.E. A very remarkable flat-topped hill appeared on our right, resembling a wart, on one of these ridges; to the northward it was precipitous, and seemed to consist of a very red rock. At length, after crossing a ridge rather broader than the rest, with some brigalow scrub upon it, and one or two specimens of that tree of solitary places, the bottle tree, (DELABECHEA) we arrived at valleys and water-courses descending to the southward of west, into a valley turning to the N.W. One, at length, on our right, taking the direction in which I was proceeding, viz., 10° W. of N., I followed it down, and thus entered a broader valley leading N.W. Following this, on a wide flat of open forest, we found at length a fine pond of water in it, and encamped beside it, after a journey of about twelve miles. This valley seemed to continue to the base of the lofty isolated mountain already mentioned, where a lower valley crossed it, falling either to the northward or southward. This I left in pleasing uncertainty until next morning, for I had remarked in that locality, when I stood on Mount Mudge, a long line of grey mist running north and south. I named the large mountain beyond that valley, Mount Beaufort, in honour of my scientific friend at the Admiralty. Thermometer, at sunrise, 40°; at noon, 66°; at 4 P.M., 73°; at 9, 62°. (LIII.)
21ST JULY. — On following downwards the chain of ponds and broad valley, we came upon the bed of a river, running to the N.N.E. We gladly turned in that direction, and after it had received various tributaries from the south, I found it took the course I had foreseen it must from Mount Mudge. We saw water in the channel, and now again I believed that we had at length discovered the head of a northwestern river. The soil consisted of firm clay, and tributaries occasionally impeded our journey. We got amongst brigalow scrub, and could find no water in looking for the channel of the river, which we knew must still have been on our left. Ponds in the scrub could not easily be identified as channels. I met with no better success on turning to the left, and encamped amongst the brigalow, where I found some grass. On riding westward I came upon arid stony ground, on which many of the trees were dead, apparently from drought, and so near the Tropic such a scene was by no means encouraging. On turning my horse, he trod on an old heap of fresh watermussles, at an old fireplace of the natives. This was a cheering proof that water was not distant, which was further indicated by the flight of two native companions, from the N.W. We had encamped on a flat of clay, on which salsolaceous bushes, such as grew on similar plains on the Bogan, had been growing, but were then all withered from drought. The very grass seemed parched and useless. I never saw vegetation so checked by drought. A longer continuance was likely to kill all the trees, and convert the country into open downs. I determined, before I ventured further, to send the cattle to a pond four miles back, next morning, and to examine the country before us. Latitude, 23° 48’ 36”. Thermometer, at sunrise, 57°; at noon, 69°; at 4 P.M., 75°; at 9, 48°.
22D JULY. — Having sent bullocks, horses, and sheep back to the water, I went forward on the bearing of 30° W. of N. I soon fell in with the united channel of the river, and found in it abundant ponds of water, the direction of the course being as favourable as could be wished. From these ponds I perceived a clear hill to the westward, which I hastened to ascend, and from its summit I beheld some fine mountains to the northward, although an easterly wind and sea air brought a haze over them, which soon obscured some of my points. But I saw enough to relieve me of all anxiety at that time about the want of water. A promising valley from the mountains in the eastward, came due west, and from it arose the smoke of many natives’ fires. Lines of other rivers, from other ranges, were partly visible beyond, until the haze obscured the outlines of mountains still more remote. The bright prospects of this morning were a pleasing contrast to the temporary difficulties of yesterday. Such is human life in travelling, and so it was in war at Salamanca this day thirty-four years back. We encamped after a short journey on the bank of the river. Latitude, 24° 46’ 46”. Thermometer, at sunrise, 49°, at noon, 74°; at 4 P.M., 73°; at 9, 64°. (LIV.)
23D JULY. — The water in the adjacent pond was trodden into mud, so that none remained for the horses and bullocks this morning. Accordingly, on arriving at a pond about two miles on, we gave water to all, that they might better bear the privation in the afternoon, should we not fortunately find more. The river had a singular tendency to spread into little channels within a belt of brigalow scrub. The little holes formed by these channels were almost all dry, while the withered state of the grass, and even of the forest trees, showed that rain had long been due, and we therefore hoped some would fall before our return. When we had travelled about twelve miles, keeping as close to the river line as the scrub would permit, and crossing one or two fine rising grounds covered with a very open forest, and consisting of large gravel, I found a pond, and encamped near it, on a plain of almost naked clay. Amongst the water-worn pebbles, of which the rising ground consisted, there were, besides the ingredients of the Barwan gravel, many of trap and basalt. Very old and dry grass only, could be had for the cattle. In the pond were small fishes of a different form from any we had seen, having a large forked tail, only two or three spikes in the dorsal fin, and a large jet-black eye within a broad silvery ring. Mr. Stephenson found three crabs, apparently identical with those about the inlets near Sydney. Latitude, 23° 37’ 51”. S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 46°; at noon, 73°; at 4 P.M. 80; at 9, 55°. (LV.)
24TH JULY. — The morning was overcast by heavy clouds, and the air was balmy and mild, reminding us of the spring season near Sydney. Lightning had been seen to the northward during the night. In following the little wayward channel downward, we met with much brigalow scrub, and crossed two apparently important tributaries. In one of them was a good large pond. We had some trouble with an ana-branch, resembling the main channel, which we had twice to cross at a distance of two miles. With the last tributaries, plains and an open forest country became neighbours to the river; and where we encamped beside it, no scrub was to be seen, and the water lay in a deep broad reach, nearly half a mile in length, with ducks upon it. Towards evening, the unwonted sound of thunder was heard in the west, reminding us, at this season of the year, that we were near the Tropic. In the same direction, two distant storms exhausted themselves, and most likely giving birth to young grass where they fell. During the night, much thunder was heard, and also early next morning, to the northward. Latitude, 23° 31’ S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 56°; at noon, 75°; at 4, P.M., 82°; at 9, 66°. (LVI.)
25TH JULY. — There was no hill or other geographical feature near our route, whereby it might have been possible to mark there the limit of Tropical Australia. We were the first to enter the interior beyond that line. Three large kangaroos hopping across a small plain, were visible, just as we entered these regions of the sun. The air was extremely fragrant; the shrubs and grass being still moist with the thunder-shower. The course of the river continued favourable, and the country seemed to improve as we advanced, opening into plains skirted by scrubs of rosewood, and drooping shrubs whose verdure was most refreshing to the eye, after just having passed through dry and withered brigalow. At eight miles a large lagoon appeared on our left, on which we saw many ducks, and at nine miles we encamped where the grass seemed good, finding that water was at hand now, in the river bed, wherever we required it. Latitude, 23° 25’ 26” S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 45°; at noon, 77°; at 4 P.M., 85°; at 9, 53°. (LVII.)
26TH JULY. — The river appearing to pursue a W. N.W. course, I set out in that direction, attracted there, also, by some open plain separated by scrub from the river. We travelled on, a good many miles, when, instead of the firm clay, we found, under foot soft, red sand, and trees of the genus callitris growing in close thickets. I turned to the northward, and travelled many miles to the eastward of north, without seeing any indications of the river, whose general course had been previously straight. Scrubs of almost every description lay in our way. Brigalow, rosewood, casuarina, a thick light-green scrub of a close-growing bush, new to us, and some scrubs of the tree as yet undescribed for want of flowers or fruit, although well known to us as a graceful, and, indeed; useful bush; of which, as an impediment, we could not much complain; and useful, as forming excellent whip-shafts. This is the tree of unknown fruit figured in my former journal. At length, when it was growing late, I travelled eastward to make sure of the river, and, at length, regained its banks, where we found in its bed plenty of water. The surface looked bare, and the grass dry; but this day I discovered green shoots amongst it, evidently the product of recent rain, and indicating the approach of spring. On sandstone rocks, we found a plant which Sir William Hooker terms “a singular Euphorbiaceous (?) plant76,” destitute of flower and fruit. Branches very thick, and they, as well as the long petioles and underside of the leaves clothed with dense white wool. Leaves a span long, cordato acuminate; the laminae all pointing downwards, glossy green and glabrous above. Also a new DODONOEA, with very narrow, linear, pinnated leaves. The only hills visible, from a tree ascended by Yuranigh, during this day’s journey were those to the eastward, already seen. None appeared above the horizon in any other direction. Thermometer, at sunrise, 39°; at noon, 79°; at 4 P.M., 89°; at 9, 75°. (LVIII,)
76 [D. TENUIFOLIA (Lindl. MS.); glaberrima, viscosa, ramulis angulatis, foliis impari pinnatis: foliolis 3-5-jugis linearibus obtusis subalternis.]
27TH JULY. — The same characteristic, still distinguished our river; a variety of channels, so concatenated amongst brigalow scrub, much whereof lay dead, that it was scarcely possible to ascertain whether there was any main channel. Hitherto, I had not detected one; but this was of little consequence to us, so long as these ponds contained abundance of water. This we saw in many parts of our route this day; for I kept as close as possible to the river’s course, to avoid such detours as that of yesterday, and being very anxious about the river’s general direction, I was glad to find it turn somewhat westward of north. After travelling thus about nine miles, I perceived a blue pic nearly due north, which I named Mount Narrien; and Yuranigh saw from a tree, that there was a range in the same direction, but very distant. This seemed likely not only to send down some additional waters to our river, but also to turn it westward. Entering, soon after, upon a plain of good grass, I looked for water; and, on finding some, encamped after a journey of about eleven miles. Latitude, 23° 9’S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 43°; at noon, 83°; at 4 P.M., 90°; at 9, 53°. (LIX.)
28TH JULY. — The brigalow scrub, still a concomitant of our river, so hemmed in the patch of plain, that I was obliged to move out of it, in a southerly direction. Even thus, however, the scrub was not to be avoided, and we were obliged to force a way through, where the still more formidable impediment of much fallen timber, rendered it almost impossible that our vehicles could pass. This dead wood seemed peculiar to that sort of brigalow, and appeared to remain unburnt, chiefly from the usually naked surface of the ground where brigalow grows. I left the party, when brought almost to a stand, and sought for a more open part, by riding northward. This rather singular river seemed to have spread over a considerable extent of surface, and much of the brigalow, however fond of water, appeared to have died of too much, on spots which had been flooded. I traversed a plain, beyond which I found, what seemed there, the main chain of ponds or channel. There was a fine reach of water, and beside it, were the still smoking fires, water-vessels, etc., of a tribe of natives, who had disappeared. On the plain, the remains of decayed stumps of brigalow showed that there also, this tree had once grown, and that the openings were caused only by such trees perishing; as if, according to seasons, the half-dead scrub might either give place to open downs, or, that the plains might, by long succession of regular seasons, become again covered with scrub. I returned to the party halted in the scrub, and conducted it through an opening I had found, to the plain, and across it, in a N.W. direction; where, after passing through some open forest, we had again to contend with brigalow. One of the many dry channels assisted us much in seeking openings, as the bottom then consisted of smooth, firm, clay. A pond, however, obliged us to quit it, and seek our way through the wood. We arrived next at slightly undulating ground, and finally entered an open forest, where I saw the LORANTHUS SUBFALCATUS of Sir William Hooker. I made Yuranigh climb a tree, from whence he again saw the pic seen yesterday, (the bearing of which I ascertained), and also a gap appeared in the range beside it, through which, as he thought, a river was likely to come down. The extreme westerly escarp of these hills bore 17° E. of N., so that nothing was likely to impede the continued course of our friendly river in the direction we wished. The scrub we met with on the rising ground, consisted of the verdant bushes in rosewood scrubs, and we next found brigalow all dead, with a rich crop of grass growing amongst the dead stems. I had never seen grass, amongst brigalow, when in a healthy state. On turning northward, we next entered upon an open plain covered with good grass mixed with verdant polygonum. I selected a corner of this plain, nearest to the river, for my camp; and, on approaching its bed, found water as usual, near some old huts of the natives. Latitude, 23° 5’ 20” S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 44°; at noon, 82°; at 4 P.M., 88°; at 9, 58°. (XL.)
29TH JULY. — The scrub between our camp and the river, admitted of easy access from it to open forest ground, over which we travelled in a N.W. direction for several miles. Belts of scrub, consisting of rosewood and other acacias intervened, and, in some parts, TRIODIA PUNGENS grew in the place of grass. But, upon the whole, the country was fine, open, park-like, and with much anthistiria, and other grasses in which a greenness was observed quite novel to us, and unexpected in these tropical regions. Amongst the shrubs, we recognised the CASSIA HETEROLOBA, a small yellow-flowered shrub; also a glutinous Baccharislike plant, and a form of Eremophila Mitchellii, intermediate between the two other varieties. This was a shrub ten feet high. Another new species of the genus GEIJERA formed a tree twenty feet high, with long slender weeping branches. It was otherwise much like the GEIJERA PARVIFLORA, except that its flowers were larger.77 A dwarf shrub belonging to the genus STENOCHILUS, but new, was found here78; and we met also with a large spreading tree, from which we could bring away nothing that would enable botanists to describe it, except as to the texture and nervation of the leaves, which, Sir William Hooker observes, resemble CAPPARIDEOE; but the fruit appeared to be sessile, and was too young and too imperfect to lead to any satisfactory conclusion. The very crows cawed differently from those near Sydney, or, (as Yuranigh observed) “talked another language.” This river was not the least unique of our recent discoveries. It still consisted of a great breadth of concatenated hollows without any one continuous channel, and this character seemed to be preserved by various trees growing in the banks. When their large roots became denuded by the floods, or were washed out, or partially gave way, so that the tree fell over the stream, they presented impediments, first to the floating-wreck, and, next, to the water itself: when that collection of floating wreck became consolidated with muddy deposit, new banks so formed forced the river into new currents, working out new courses; and this appeared to give the peculiar character so uniformly observed. It seems extremely favourable for the retention of water in a country where it may be scarce; for the many ponds so formed and shaded from the sun, preserve it much better and longer, than if one continuous unobstructed channel alone, received and carried off, the water of the surface. I found the hollows we saw this day drier than usual; but we at length succeeded in discovering three good ponds. The foliage of the trees, with dry and naked water-worn roots, presented all the hues of an English autumn, although none of these were deciduous. This effect I was disposed to attribute to unseasonable drought, or past heat. The weather we had was delightful; for, although the thermometer in the shade rose sometimes to 90° about 4 P.M., the heat of the Bogan was still fresh in our recollection; and the frosts which, not above three weeks before, had disturbed our sleep, made this degree of heat as welcome as the flowers in May. Latitude, 22° 55’ 35” S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 38°; at noon, 80°; at 4 P.M., 85°; at 9, 51°. (LXI.)
77 [G. PENDULA (Lindl. MS.); ramis gracilibus pendulis, foliis linearibus in petiolum sensim angustatis 5 uncias longis cum ramo parallelis.]
78 [S. SALICINUS (Benth. MS.); foliis lanceolato-linearibus integerrimis apice subuncinato ramulisque canescentibus, calycis foliolis brevibus lanceolatis, corollae puberulae inferne attenuatae laciniis obtusis infimâ retusâ vix caeteris magis solutâ. — Very near S. PUBIFLORUS, but much whiter, the flowers smaller with the lobes much more equal, the lower one much broader.]
30TH JULY. — The scrub of the river being likely to surround us, I endeavoured to pass it, and cross the river, but on examination I found the brigalow belt beyond, so serious an obstruction, that I adhered to the left bank still, and proceeded N. N. W. The woods opened into extensive plains covered with wild Indigo, as high as a horse’s head, and that was skirted by a plain covered with rich grass. Beyond these, we entered an open forest where the anthistiria grew luxuriantly. I saw, from the skirts of the plain, the mass of mountains partly seen in the east for several days past, and I was able to intersect various points. We seemed to be descending to a very low country. A fine large lagoon, covered with ducks, appeared on our right. The whole country was improved both as to grass and trees. The MYOPORUM DULCE, a shrub about five feet high, was perhaps a distinct species intermediate between M. DULCE and M. DESERTI. It had the habit of the latter, but the leaves nearly of M. DULCE. A hollow at length indicated the river bed near us. It contained abundance of transparent water, a continuous channel, rocky bed, and, instead of brigalow, there grew on its banks a thick crop of strong grass, and much verdure. A tributary from the west cost us some trouble to cross, and soon after crossing it, I encamped. The course this day had run well to the westward. We had crossed the 147° of E. longitude, and I was very anxious to learn more of the further course of this river. I crossed it, and hastened to some rising ground, whence I perceived a flat-topped cliffy range extending from S. W. to the N. of west. It was low; the middle part, appearing highest, was probably the nearest to our camp. It was likely to turn our river too far to the northward for our purpose. Latitude, 22° 51’ 55”. Thermometer, at sunrise, 54°; at noon, 82°; at 4 P.M., 83°; at 9, 45°. (LXII.)
31ST JULY. — We travelled over a rather different sort of country from that recently seen upon the river. It was still on our right, and ran in a deep, well-marked channel. I pursued a N.W. course, although the range I had seen yesterday lay across it. I thus came upon the bed of a large river from the south, very near where our little river joined it. This new river was there fully 100 yards broad, with a sandy bed. I hastened across it, and proceeded still N.W. In the bed, just above the junction of the two rivers, I found a large podded pea, the seed both in green pods and dry pods, was very sweet and edible. The pods were larger than those of Turkey beans, and contained each ten or eleven peas (Dr. L.?) Beyond the last found river, we travelled over open forest land, occasionally passing patches of rosewood scrub on the left. When we might again see water was rather a desperate thought, for we had witnessed our abundant little river, wholly absorbed in a deep mass of dry sand, for such was the bed of the larger. At length we came upon a very spacious dry lagoon. Following this, as it appeared to be the channel of large floods from the river, we arrived at a part containing water, and, still continuing along the hard dry bank, another and another pond appeared, and I finally encamped near the last, where I saw some good grass. The course and character of the river below the junction last mentioned, remained to be ascertained. Parts of the surface in the scrub, which, before the rain, had been quite bare, now presented a crop of lichen, which bore some resemblance to the orchilla. It might have been gathered in any quantity. The ant-hills in this region, presented a different form from any to be seen in the south, consisting of slender cones of hard clay about the size and shape of sugar-loaves on an average, many being larger, or as much as 3½ feet high, others smaller. In some places they were so numerous, as to be rather inconvenient to ride amongst, especially where the grass was long. Latitude of this camp, 22° 44’ 45”. Thermometer, at sunrise, 52°; at noon, 70°; at 4 P.M., 69°; at 9, 43°. (LXIII.)
1ST AUGUST. — Supposing that this line of lagoons led to the river, I followed that direction westward, until it disappeared where we came upon the water brigalow. Then, turning northward, I travelled many miles in that direction, through rosewood scrubs, and over ground where the very coarse hard grass grew on red sand. The callitris and casuarina appeared amongst the trees. On a spot rather clear of wood, Yuranigh went to the top of a callitris tree, and saw a lofty mountain somewhat to the eastward of north, and he thought he could trace the trees marking the course of the river to the westward of it. Further westward, the low range already mentioned, was still visible, and he saw that the country between the two ranges was very “deep,” as he termed it, meaning very low. Upon the whole, there was reason to believe that the river pursued a course, somewhat to the westward of north. I turned in that direction, and forced our way through scrub and brush, until, after cutting through much fallen brigalow, I entered upon good grassy land, and saw the large Yarra trees before me. These grew by the river, which here looked very important, having a bed wider than that of the Barwan, with sloping grassy banks at least sixty feet high, and Yarra trees growing from the lower margin. Continuing along its banks, we soon found various large ponds of water, and in the short course of it we had to trace before we encamped, the direction was S. W. Many curious plants and trees now appeared about the banks. A rough-leaved fig tree with well-formed woolly, globular fruit; an ALTERANTHERA, with very large balls of satiny white flowers, resembling A. NODIFLORA; the ACACIA FARNESIANA, a prickly tree; the narrow-leaved smooth variety of ACACIA HOLOSERICEA; and in the bed of the river, the ACACIA SIMSII (Cunn.) A broad-leaved form of LORANTHUS NUTANS was parasitical on trees, and the EURYBIA SUBSPICATA of Sir W. Hooker also grew on the upper bank. A very extraordinary CAPPARIS was here observed in fruit. Its leaves were as much as eight inches long, although not more than three quarters of an inch wide, and their hard leathery texture gave them the appearance of straps. It did not afterwards occur.79 The water in the river was excellent. Thermometer, at sunrise, 23°; at noon, 65°; at 4 P.M., 69°; at 9, 44°. Latitude, 22° 38’ 40”. (LXIV.)
79 [C. UMBONATA (Lindl. MSS.); inermis, glaberrima, foliis coriaceis longissimis loratis obtusis in petiolum sensim angustatis, pedunculis solitariis (2 poll.) stipite brevioribus, fructu ovoideo umbonato.]
2D AUGUST. — We had approached this fine river over a park-like plain, but lower down we found the banks lined with scrub. I pursued a N.W. course in passing through it, and emerged on plains and open forests alternating with scrubs. The scrubs were remarkable, as always involving dry hollows where water had lodged. The clay was then hard; but, in all these hollows, the deep impressions of naked feet of men, women, and children, remained since the bottom had consisted of mud. These numerous receptacles for water, when it is sent, attest the wisdom with which even the clods of the valley have been disposed for the benefit of the animal world. The day’s journey was long, and chiefly through that sort of scrub. I was disappointed in my hope of falling in with the river, by travelling N.W. Yuranigh descried from a tree, the continuation, far to the westward, of the low range that had been already seen from a former camp. Its direction had then appeared to be nearly N. and S. The turn the river had taken westward was, therefore, favourable to my hopes, that it would continue in that direction. Its general course was found to be nearly northward. On the other hand, the high ranges in the E. seemed to terminate abruptly towards the N., so that a very low country appeared to be to the northward of our position then, stretching from 40° N. of W. to 40° E. of N., a full quarter circle which the course of the river almost bisected. After travelling twelve miles without seeing any thing of the river, I reluctantly turned N.E., and then E., and in the last-mentioned direction, I hit the river where it contained a fine reach of water. In the dry part of the bed, grew various curious plants in flower, all quite new to me; a species closely allied to the ACACIA DELIBERATA (Cunn.), and a very fine silky leaved TRICHODESMA.80 A new VELLEYA was also found near this camp.81 In the scrubs back from the river, the STENOCHILUS CURVIPES was loaded with its long tubular flowers. A small species of Acacia was perhaps a variety of A. LEUCADENDRON Cunn.; and we found also a curious scrubby species of JACKSONIA.82 Latitude, 22° 30’ 10” S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 29°; at noon, 61°; at 4 P.M., 69°; at 9, 40°. (LXV.)
80 [T. SERICEUM (Lindl. MSS.); caule erecto sericeo setis nullis, foliis oppositis lineari-lanceolatis basi angustatis sericeopilosis, pedicellis pilosis lateralibus longis, calycis lobis lanceolatis pubescentibus basi pilosis, nucis dorso polito maculato. — Near T. ZEYLANICUM, but quite distinct.]
81 [V. MACROCALYX (De Vriese MSS.); foliis omnibus radicalibus, oblongospathulatis acutis, integris, membranaceis, remote, minute et obsolete dentatis, uninerviis, glabris, subdecurrentibus, glabris; scapis radicalibus elongatis, folia vix exaequantibus; bracteis dichotomiarum vel trichotomiarum binis ternisve lanceolatis acutis vel lineari-lanceolatis, floribus 2-3nis; calycibus (involucris) ternis, magnis, membranaceis, ovatis, ellipticisque, acuminatis, basi cordatis, petiolatisque; antherae liberae, stigmatis indusium maximum ciliatum, labiis compressis, cochleariforme. — Folia sunt 6-12 cent. longa, 3 cent. lata, crassinervia; scapi adscendentes, inferne tenuiores, sursum parum elongati.]
82 [J. RAMOSISSIMA (Benth. MSS.) inermis, ramis angulatis ramosissimis glabriusculis, floribus subsessilibus, calycis colorati profunde divisi laciniis duabus supremis diù vel omnino cohaerentibus, legumine subsessili ovato-acuto ventricoso.]
3D AUGUST. — Our carts had been so much jolted about and shaken, in crossing the dead timber yesterday, that I resolved to keep along the river bank this day, if the ground and woods permitted. To a certain distance from the banks, there was less fallen timber, as the natives had been accustomed there to make their fires, and roast the mussles of the river, and other food. The river was found to spread into separate channels, in which I did not readily recognise it, until I found them again united in a splendid reach of water under steep banks. The general course was by no means promising, being somewhat to the E. of N.; it was much to be apprehended that this river, too, would run to the E. coast, and become another instance of the utter want of any knowledge of the interior country, that still may prevail, long after complete surveys have been made of the lines of coast. Again we came upon wide fields of polygonum, and tracks of open forest with large lagoons. Then scrubs of brigalow obliged us to travel in the river bed, as the only open part where we could pass. That surface consisted of clay iron-stone, denuded by torrents, and the “DISJECTA MEMBRA,” of a river. Ponds, water-worn banks, and timber, alive and dead, were there intermixed. Emerging from these obstructions, as from a feverish dream, we entered upon park-like scenery and good grass. The latter had been a desideratum during the last two days. We next came upon a river containing plenty of water, and coming from the N.W. I expected this would terminate our journey along the other, and I encamped on discovering it, after a journey of ten miles. The Australian rivers have all distinguishing characteristics, which they seem to possess from their sources to their termination. That we had just quitted, had a great affection, like its upper tributary, for brigalow scrubs, and spreading into ana-branches. This last discovered river seemed quite the reverse of all this. Its channel was very uniform; the banks being covered with open forests and good grass. The bed was sandy, but contained water in abundance, so that I hoped it would lead us to higher regions, by following it upwards, to where other waters might fall in the direction of the Gulf. This river contained the Harlequin fish of the Maranin great abundance. Yet we had found none of these in the river to which this was a tributary, but, on the contrary, two other sorts. There was much novelty in the trees and plants. One tree in particular, growing in the bed of the river, had the thin white shining bark of the tea-tree (mimosa), and drooping leaves shaped like those of the eucalyptus; a HIBISCUS allied to, if not the same, with II. LINDLEYI, but not in flower; a CASSIA, perhaps C. CORONILLOIDES in ripe fruit, or at least closely allied to it, occupied the dry sandy ground with MONENTELES REDOLENS, a silveryheaded weed; and some Cinchonad allied to Coffea, with young fruit, the size of small olives. Latitude, 22° 23’ 10”. Thermometer, at sunrise, 21°; at noon, 59°; at 4 P.M., 64°; at 9, 37°; with wet bulb, 28°. (LXVI.)
4TH AUGUST. — We had still so much westing to make, in order to hit the head of the Gulf, that I was disposed to follow up the new river in any direction that did not take us much to the S. The river, however, was soon found to come from the S.W. and S., so that I was obliged to cross it. I then travelled W. through open forest three miles, which brought us to undulating ground. I then turned to the W.N.W., and proceeded over ground equally open and favourable for the passage of our carts. At length, a hard ferruginous conglomerate rock, projected from the surface, and clumps of thick brigalow grew on some of the summits. On one piece of rising ground, I found a mass of rocks, a few feet higher than the rest, and from it I perceived a continuation of the slightly elevated flattopped range, to the southward and westward. A somewhat higher but similar sort of range appeared in the east, beyond a very broad and level woody country, through which it was probable that our first-found river still pursued a northerly course. Beyond that flat, and further to the eastward, the same hills already seen were still visible, and others northward of them, just like them. There was a high summit beyond all these bearing about E. I could not discover any satisfactory line to follow in the country thus partially visible, and as the sun was near the horizon, I only continued, to go forward to a valley wherein I hoped to have found water, but was disappointed, the soil being too sandy and absorbent. There we nevertheless encamped, in Lat. 22° 19’ 45” S. On this day’s journey, I saw two of the rose-coloured paroqueets of the Barwan, none of these birds having been seen by any of the party since we crossed the Culgoa. A fragrant stenochilus, with leaves smelling exactly like mint, was found this day, and a splendid banksia in flower, also a new MELALEUCA.83 Thermometer, at sunrise, 23°; at noon, 58°; at 4 P.M., 63°; at 9, 29°; with wet bulb, 18°.
83 [M. TAMARISCINA (Hook. MSS.); ramosissima ramulis gracillimis copiose excavatis e foliis delapsis, foliis rameis remotis parvis ovatis acuminatis appressis, ramulinis minutissimis squamaeformibus convexis obtusis imbricatis immersis, capsulis circa ramos spicatis parvis globosis. — A very singular MELALEUCA, somewhat allied to M. HUGELII, Endl.: but extremely different in the very minute squamiform leaves of the copious slender branchlets, from which they fall and leave the bleached slender branchlets full of little pits or cavities in which the leaves had been, as it were, sunk.]
5TH AUGUST. — The last-found river not having answered my expectations, we had come quite far enough from the one we had previously followed, which still might have turned N.W., where we wished it to go; although I confess the prospect was by no means promising. The doubt was still to be removed, and, after a night passed without water, the earliest dawn saw us again going forward, in a direction a little to the eastward of N. It was only after pursuing that line for seventeen miles, that we again found the river, unchanged in character, and still running northerly. This was a trying day for our animals, as they could not be watered until long after it was dark; a brigalow scrub, full of much fallen timber, having retarded and impeded the carts so that they could not be got to the water sooner. Nor had this been possible, even then, but for the fortunate circumstance of our having the light of a nearly full moon. I had preceded the party by some miles, accompanied by Yuranigh, the rest following my horse’s tracks, and I had thus passed through the four miles of scrub, and reached the river early in the day. On returning, we found the party in the midst of this scrub, and succeeded in guiding it, even by moonlight, to the pond at which we had watered our horses during the day. Many dry hollows of indurated mud appeared, as usual, in the brigalow we had passed through; and we endeavoured to lead the carts, as much as possible, through these hollows, in order to avoid the dead logs, many of which we were obliged to cut, before the carts could pass. Many deep impressions of natives’ feet appeared in these clay hollows; also the tracks of emus. Yuranigh showed me several tracks where a native had been following a kangeroo’s track; and he told me of a certain method adopted by the natives of killing the kangeroo during wet weather — which is, to pursue the track, following it up day after day, until they overtake the animal, which, on being so incessantly followed, becomes at length so defenceless, that one native can despatch it with a tomahawk. According to the barometer, it appeared that this river was not now much higher above the level of the sea, than the Bogan or the Balonne. Still it spread into many channels and isolated ponds; the latter being sometimes in good grassy land, apart from the brigalow. Nothing could be more sterile than the surface where the brigalow grew; but the first indication of the river was an open space covered with luxuriant grass, and we had to ride two miles along this, before Yuranigh and I could find the river, having been guided to it chiefly by some smoke of the natives. At the first place we approached, we found two ponds of excellent water, under the shining boughs of lofty Yarra trees. Latitude, 22° 10’ 15” S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 39°; at noon, 64°; at 4 P.M., 61°; at 9, 36°; — with wet bulb, 28°. (LXVII.)
6TH AUGUST. — I gave the jaded cattle a day’s rest, and the men thus had an opportunity to screw up and repair their carts.
7TH AUGUST. — The brigalow scrub obliged me this day to travel along the river banks, upon which I found it pleasant to go, as they proved open and grassy. Large lagoons and reaches of water appeared in the scattered channels. At length, a deep broad reach, brim full of pure water, glittered before us. Clouds of large ducks arose from it, and larger water-fowl shrieked over our heads. A deep receding opening appeared to the northeast, as if our river had been either breaking off in that direction, or met with some important tributary from that side. I continued to travel northwest, passing through some fine open forests. The character of the country seemed changed. The grass was of a different kind, and a refreshing breeze from the north-east seemed to “smell of water,” as Yuranigh expressed it. The dense line of Yarra trees appeared still to be continuous on the right, and the more I travelled westward, the more I was convinced that we still had the river at hand. We did at length approach its banks after a journey of ten miles, when we found this was a river FROM the west appearing fully as deep and important as the one we had been following, and containing ponds of water. This new tributary from the west, left no room to hope that the channel we had been pursuing would turn westward — on the contrary, it became but too probable that below the junction of this river, the channel would turn towards the N. E. It could not well be doubted that this went to the eastern coast; but, to remove all doubt, as Yuranigh was of a different opinion, I sent Corporal Graham with him up the newly-found river, to ascertain whether it did not come from the north-west, in which case we could not expect that the other it joined would go in that direction. Their report on returning, only rendered it necessary that I should take a ride forward next morning. They said this river came from the S. W., and at two miles higher, had a very narrow channel. Lower down, it was found to join the main channel, which, below the junction, still continued northward. There, we found a beautiful new Grevillea.84 The STENOCHILUS PUBIFLORUS formed a willow-leaved shrub about twelve feet high, and in the sandy bed of the river was an EUPHORBIA very near E. HYPERICIFOLIA, but with narrower leaves, and the ovary pubescent not glabrous. The DODONOEA VESTITA, with its hairy foliage and large shaggy fruits, clothed the sandstone surface back from the river.85 Latitude, 22° 2’ 15” S. Thermometer, at sunrise, 30°; at noon, 78°; at 4 P.M., 77°; at 9, 55°; — with wet bulb 49°. (LXVIII).
84 [G. MITCHELLI (Hook. MSS.); appresso-subsericesa, foliis pinnatifidis bipinnatifidisque, laciniis angustissime linearibus elongatis marginibus arcte reflexis subtus concoloribus, racemis elongatis secundis densifloris, floribus subverticillatis, perianthiis pedicellisque tomentosis, folliculis oblique ovatis tomentosis sessilibus, stylis glabris. — Allied to G. CHRYSODENDRON, Br., but the segments of the leaves are narrower, not golden-coloured beneath: the flowers are entirely secund: a splendid species.]
85 [D. VESTITA (Hook. MSS.); tota densissimè pilosa, foliis pinnatis pinnis oppositis 4 — 5-jugis cuneatis apice lunulato-emarginatis vel incisis, rachi articulatâ articulis obovatis, capsulis profundis tetrapteris villosissimis.]
8TH AUGUST. — With two men and Yuranigh, I proceeded first, northward by compass, for some miles, when I emerged from scrub, upon fine open downs covered with a crop of excellent grass. The soil was soft and rich, the grass PANICUM LOEVINODE. Small clumps of Acacias were strewed over these downs, which were very extensive, and from them I saw several rather high hills to the eastward, terminating abruptly over a low country to the northward. Supposing that the main channel would there turn round to the eastward, I proceeded north-west to examine the country. I soon entered a thick scrub of rosewood and other Acacias. I remarked the CALLISTEMON NERVOSUM, previously seen (July) with rich crimson flowers, forming a large tree, in the dry open forest, with perfectly green spikes; also, on the branches of Eucalypti, a beautiful orange coloured LORANTH. The soil was rich, yielding, and rather bare of vegetation. Nodules of variegated limestone, or marble, appeared on the surface, showing that the improvement in the soil was owing to a change in the rocks under it. Again emerging on open plains, the country seemed to fall northward, which induced me to ride again in that direction, thinking we might meet with some river either coming from the N. W. or leading there. The open plains terminated upon a hollow full of trees, growing, as was very evident, on a lower surface. The hollows resembled those of brigalow scrub, and we soon found this tree in full possession of them. Dry channels, leading in various directions between N. W. and E. engaged my attention throughout the afternoon: indeed, they seemed interminable. At length, we detected some continuity in the hollows, leading towards the N.N.E. Yarra trees at length appeared in it, abundance of grass on the banks, and deep dry ponds. Two crows hovering over one, raised our hopes that it contained water, as we also perceived a line of green vegetation over the margin. It was deep and full of water. Here, about 4 P. M., we were thus enabled to water our horses, and continue our ride independently of finding more water that evening. We next perceived an open forest hill on our right; but, on examining the country from it, we saw no immediate indications of the river. On reentering the brigalow scrub, the continuity of ponds was very indistinct, and I at length lost it, as it seemed, on its turning off to the eastward, a direction in which I was unwilling to follow it at that time. I threaded the mazes of another chain of hollows, which turned in various directions between N. W. and 20° N. of E., the latter being the general course. During this unsatisfactory sort of exploration, night overtook us, where the dry and naked clay presented neither grass nor water. Our horses had come thirty miles, and it was only after considerable search, in the dark, that I found a grassy spot for our horses, and where we tied them up, and lay down to pass the night.
9TH AUGUST. — We saddled them as soon as day broke, and proceeded again into the scrub; but the hollows took no longer any continuous channel, and I again travelled N. W., in which direction I entered upon a plain. Thence I perceived a low flat, and a line of trees beyond it, very much resembling those of a river, and towards this I hastened, and found the river we had followed so far, unchanged in character. The scattered ponds, and nearly northerly course, were legible proofs of its identity. We watered our horses and took some breakfast, after which, while engaged laying down our route, one of the men observed some natives looking at us from a point of the opposite bank. I held up a green bough to one who stood forward in a rather menacing attitude, and who instantly replied to my signal of peace by holding up his bommareng. It was a brief but intelligible interview; no words could have been better understood on both sides; and I had fortunately determined, before we saw these natives, to return by tracing the river upwards. Our horses had been turned loose, the better to allow them to make the most of their time while we breakfasted. Graham got them together while I was telegraphing with the natives, some of whom I perceived filling some vessel with water, with which they retired into the woods. We saddled, and advanced to examine their track and the spot they had quitted, also that they might afterwards see our horses’ tracks there, lest our green bough and subsequent return might have encouraged them to follow us. Yuranigh was burning the mutton bones we had picked; but I directed him to throw them about, that the natives might see that we neither eat their kangaroos nor emus. I found the course of the river very straight, but rather more than it had been, to the eastward of north. In some parts of the channel, lay deep reaches of water, fully a mile long; at other places, shallow hollows quite dry, seemed to be the only channel for the river’s currents. We avoided brigalow scrubs, and passed the night on a grassy part of the bank, about ten miles back from the farthest point we had reached that morning.
10TH AUGUST. — Early in the morning a moist breeze blew from the north, with low scud not very high above the trees. Higher clouds drove as rapidly from the westward. The extremely moist air was a great novelty to us there. About 9 A.M., the sky was wholly overcast; but it finally cleared up, and the day was cool. We reached the camp about 3 P.M., having hit the river on which it was situated, two miles lower. There I found, to my surprise, that its channel was very deep and full of water, being broader than that of the main river. I was, therefore, inclined to explore its sources by proceeding upwards next day, as the direction of the northerly stream, did not promise much. The camp had just been visited by seventeen natives, apparently bent on hostile purposes, all very strong, several of them upwards of six feet high. Each of them carried three or four missile clubs. They were headed by an old man, and a gigantic sort of bully, who would not keep his hands off our carts. They said, by signs, that the whole country belonged to the old man. They pointed in the direction in which I had gone, and to where Mr. Stephenson happened to be at the time, down in the river bed; and then beckoned to the party that they also should follow or go where I had gone, or leave that place. They were received very firmly, but civilly and patiently, by the men, and were requested to sit down at a distance, my man Brown, being very desirous that I should return before they departed; thinking the old man might have given me some information about the river, which he called “Belyando.” But a noisy altercation seemed to arise between the old chief and the tallest man, about the clubs, during which the latter again came forward, and beckoned to others behind, who came close up also. Each carried a club under each arm, and another in each hand, and from the gestures made to this advanced party, by the rest of the tribe of young men at a distance, it appeared that this was intended to be a hostile movement. Brown accordingly drew out the men in line before the tents, with their arms in their hands, and forbade the natives to approach the tents. “Nothing damps the ardour of troops so much,” says General Lloyd, “as an unexpected obstacle at the moment of attack,” and these strong men stood still and looked foolish, when they saw the five men in line, with incomprehensible weapons in their hands. Just then, our three dogs ran at them, and no charge of cavalry ever succeeded better. They all took to their heels, greatly laughed at, even by the rest of their tribe; and the only casualty befell the shepherd’s dog, which biting at the legs of a native running away, he turned round, and hit the dog so cleverly with his missile on the rump, that it was dangerously ill for months after; the native having again, with great dexterity, picked up his club. The whole of them then disappeared, shouting through the woods to their gins. It was remarkable that on seeing the horses, they exclaimed “Yerraman,” the colonial natives’ name for a horse, and that of these animals they were not at all afraid, whereas they seemed in much dread of the bullocks. That these natives were fully determined to attack the white strangers, seems to admit of no doubt, and the result is but another of the many instances that might be adduced, that an open fight, without treachery, would be contrary to their habits and disposition. That they did not, on any occasion, way-lay me or the doctor, when detached from the body of the party, may perhaps, with equal truth, be set down as a favourable trait in the character of the aborigines; for whenever they visited my camp, it was during my absence, when they knew I was absent, and of course must have known where I was to be found. The old man had very intelligibly pointed out to Brown the direction in which this river came, I. E. from the S. W., and I therefore abandoned the intention of exploring it upwards, and determined to examine how it joined, and what the character of the river might be, about and below that junction, in hopes I might still obtain an interview with the natives, and learn something of the country to the north-west. Thermometer, at sunrise, 59°; at noon, 82°; at 4 P.M., 81°; at 9, 62°; — with wet bulb, 59°.
11TH AUGUST. — Crossing this river at a favourable spot near our camp, we travelled on, eleven miles, and encamped early, on a fine reach of the main river. Here I had leisure to lay down my late ride on paper, and to connect it with the map; whereupon I concluded, with much regret, that this river must be either a tributary to, or identical with, that which M. Leichardt saw joining the Suttor in latitude 21° 6’ S., and which he supposed to come from the west. It had supplied me with water across three degrees of latitude, and had gradually altered its course from N.W. to about 30° E. of N. In my ride I had traced it to 21° 30’ of latitude south, and no high land had appeared, as I expected, to the northward, at all likely to turn its course towards the west. I found the height of its bed, moreover, to be so little above the sea (not much more than 600 feet), that I could no longer doubt that the division between eastern and western waters was still to the westward; and I arrived at the following conclusions:—
1st. That the river of Carpentaria should have been sought for to the westward of all the sources of the river Salvator.
2nd. That the deepest indentation as yet discovered of the division of the waters, was at the sources of that river, and corresponded with the greatest elevation indicated by the barometer (about 2500 feet); and, 3dly. That there, I. E. under the parallel of 25° S., the highest spinal range must extend westward, in a line of truncated cones, whereof Mount Faraday appeared to be one.
I accordingly determined to retrace our wheel-tracks back to the head of the Salvator, and to explore from thence the country to the north-west, as far as our stock of provisions and the season would permit. I had marked my camps by Roman letters cut deep in sound trees, and at this, I left the number LXIX. cut under the initials of the colony, N.S.W.; this being the number marked from the Culgoa. We had, at least, laid out a good carriage road from the colony to a river in M. Leichardt’s route; which road, as far as we had marked it with our wheels, led through pastoral regions of much greater extent than all the colonists now occupied. At this farthest point traced by our wheels within the Tropics, the plants were still known to botanists, but with some interesting exceptions. We here found the CASSIA HETEROLOBA in flower; also the burr plant, CALOTIS CUNEIFOLIA of Brown; the PITTOSPORUM LANCEOLATUM of A. Cunningham, a shrub with yellow flowers and narrow willowy leaves; and the beautiful laurel-leaved GEIGERA LATIFOLIA was still conspicuous among the forest trees. But here also we found a very fine new species of STENOCHILUS86, a new pine-leaved DODONOEA, allied to the D. PINIFOLIA of Swan River87, and a most singular hard-leaved shrub, with spiny foliage resembling five pointed stars, proved to be a new species of LABICHEA.88 Thermometer, at sunrise, 36°; at noon, 71°; at 4 P.M., 70°; at 9, 35°; — with wet bulb, 30°.
86 [S. PUBIFLORUS (Benth. MS.) foliis lanceolato-linearibus elongatis integerrimis apice subuncinato novellis ramulisque tomentellis mox glabratis, calycis foliolis lanceolatis, corollae pubescentis inferne attenuatae laciniis oblatis infima breviter soluta. — This agrees pretty well with Brown’s short diagnosis of S. LONGIFOLIUS, as well as with Cunningham’s specimens so named; but those have no corolla, which Brown also had not seen, and his is a south coast plant. (Another new species with leaves like this, but very different flowers, was gathered by Sir T. Mitchell in his former expedition.)]
87 [D. ACEROSA (Lindl. MS.); foliis tenuibus acerosis subfalcatis glandulosis, corymbis axillaribus paucifloris folio brevioribus, capsulis tetrapteris alis apice rotundatis.]
88 [L. DIGITATA (Benth. MS.) ramulis tomentellis, foliis subsessili bus, foliolis 3-5-digitatis lineari-oblongis spinoso-mucronatis coriaceis reticulatis terminali caeteris vix majore, antheris parum inaequalibus conformibus.]
12TH AUGUST. — I reluctantly ordered my men, (who believed themselves on the high-way to Carpentaria,) to turn the horses’ heads homewards, merely saying that we were obliged to explore from a higher point. The track already marked out by our party advancing, was so much easier for the draught animals, as requiring less driving, that they arrived at an early hour again at the river they formerly crossed, and travelled with ease three and a half miles further back to a lagoon, on the banks of which the grass was good, and where we therefore now encamped. The track of the large feet of the natives showed they had followed us this morning, from our camp of yesterday; and a fragment of burning wood they had dropped, showed that they had this day met us in the scrub as we returned, and had gone out of our way. Even to the lagoon, their track along our route was also plainly visible. I was now, apparently to them, at their request, leaving the country; and we should soon see if their purpose in visiting our camp was an honest one, and whether their reasonable and fair demand, was really all they contemplated on that occasion. Thermometer, at sunrise, 37°; at noon, 70°; at 4 P.M., 71°; at 9, 65°.
13TH AUGUST. — We continued back, along the old track, to beyond Camp LXVII. I then took the direction of the camp two stages back, in order to avoid the great detour formerly pursued; the camp without water, and the thick brigalow. All these we successfully avoided, passing over fine open forest land, and encountering no brigalow. We found the river on our left when we required it, and encamped on a plain near the water, and distant only a few miles from the camp two journies back from LXVII. I was guided by the bearing of 10° E. of N. We found much of the grass on fire, and heard the natives’ voices although we saw none. We crossed some patches of dry swamp where the clods had been very extensively turned up by the natives, but for what purpose Yuranigh could not form any conjecture. These clods were so very large and hard that we were obliged to throw them aside, and clear a way for the carts to pass. The whole resembled ground broken up by the hoe, the naked surface having been previously so cracked by drought as to render this upturning possible without a hoe. There might be about two acres in the patch we crossed, and we perceived at a distance, other portions of the ground in a similar state. The river had, where we made it, a deep wellmarked channel, with abundance of clear water in it, and firm accessible banks. It was still, however, enveloped in a narrow belt of brigalow. The shepherd having most imprudently taken the sheep to water when it was near sunset, lost his way in the scrub, and could not be found all night. Some thought he had fallen into the hands of the aborigines who were closely watching us; and it was obvious that had they got possession of our sheep, they could have annoyed us very seriously, or indeed, destroyed the whole party. The night was very dark, the sky having been overcast. Thermometer, at sunrise, 56°; at noon, 61°; at 4 P.M., 60; at 9, 60.
14TH AUGUST. — Drizzling rain this morning with an easterly wind, and high barometer, reminded me of the coast rains of Sydney. At dawn, I sent Yuranigh with one of the men, both being mounted, in search of the shepherd, and they returned with him and the sheep about 8 A. M. He had been found in full march to the eastward, where he never could have fallen in with the party. His track, circling in all directions, had soon been come upon by Yuranigh in the scrub. We then proceeded, and still found a way clear of brigalow, which, once or twice during the day, seemed almost to surround us. At about seven miles from where we had encamped, we crossed the first discovered tributary from the S. W., and at a mile further on, we fell in with our old track, travelled two miles more along it, and then encamped beside a fine reach of the river. The drizzling rain continued, and I hoped the ponds at the higher range, towards which we were returning, might be replenished by still heavier rain. An unpleasant smell prevailed every where this day, resembling that from a kitchen sewer or sink. Whether it arose from the earth, or from decayed vegetable matter upon it, I could not form any opinion; but it was certainly very different from the fragrance produced by a shower in other parts of New South Wales, even when it falls only on sunburnt grass. It was equally new and unaccountable to Yuranigh. Two proteads, probably GREVILLEAS, were found here.89
89 [The one with singularly thick, firm, and rigid leaves, a foot long, linear attenuated at each extremity, pubescenti-sericeous, striated: the other with white acerose leaves pinnated in two pairs. Both were large forest trees, neither in flower nor in fruit.]
15TH AUGUST. — We continued to return along the old track until we arrived at Camp LXV., taking the direction of the river’s general course, (7° E. of S.). I travelled along its banks several miles, endeavouring to cut off a detour we had previously described. The river, however, obliged me to go so far to the westward, that I met with my former track, about midway between the two camps. We soon left that track, crossing a strip of brigalow and a rich grassy plain; beyond which, I found the river, and encamped about 3 P.M., when the rain again came on, the morning having been, until then, fair, although the sky was cloudy and overcast. Thermometer, at sunrise, 57°; at noon, 64°; at 4 P.M., 66°; at 9, 60°; — with wet bulb, 58°.
16TH AUGUST. — The sky still clouded, seemed to promise rain in the country to which we were returning. We came to the channel of the main river, after proceeding about three miles in the direction of a turn in our route beyond next camp. The channel here was broad, and occasionally filled with a good body of water. The bed was sandy, and in it grew a tree with thin loose white bark, resembling that of the mimosa or tea-tree of the colony; some of these trees were of large dimensions. There also grew, in the sandy bed of this river, a new white-flowered MELALEUCA, resembling M. ERICIFOLIA, but with long mucronate leaves90; and, in the scrubby bank the STENOCHILUS BIGNONIOEFLORUS formed a willow-like shrub fifteen feet high. We again came came upon our track where I intended to hit it, although we had been retarded by brigalow scrub. We thus left Camp LXIV. on the left, and finally again pitched our tents at that of LXIII. Thermometer, at sunrise, 58°; at noon, 65; at 4 P.M., 63°; at 9, 63°; — with wet bulb, 57°.
90 [M. TRICHOSTACHYA (Lindl. MS.); folsaepius oppositis linearibus planis utrinque acutissimis, spicâ terminali laxiusculâ rachi pilosâ, calyce glabro dentibus herbaceis, phalangibus polyandris ungue petalis breviore.]
17TH AUGUST. — The ground was covered in many parts with a lichen, the product of the late rain, and which had no root in, nor attachment to, the soil, but could be collected in handfuls, and lay quite loose in heaps, or rather in a thick layer. I could not comprehend the origin of this singular vegetable production, which might then have been gathered in any quantity. The day was cool, cloudy, and pleasant. Fine round clouds driving still from the eastward, with a high barometer (for this of Bunten stood seven millimetres higher, than it did when we had been formerly encamped on the same ground). On recrossing the great river from S. W., we found more of the pea with large pods, it seemed to grow only on the dry sand of the river bed. This was a most interesting river, and I could have wished much to have explored it upwards, had the state of my horses and provisions permitted. On its banks we had discovered various rare trees and plants seen by us nowhere else; and the pea just mentioned, which had, as Mr. Stephenson thought, valuable qualities as a laxative medicine. The bed of the river was broad and sandy; the banks were quite clear of brigalow or other scrubs, level, open, and in most parts covered with luxuriant anthistiria and wild indigo. We arrived in good time, the way being good, at Camp LXII., and there again established ourselves for the night. It was an excellent spot for the purpose, having plenty of water in rocky ponds, and abundance of grass, half green. The wind lulled, and heavy clouds of stratus appeared in the east, towards evening. Some stars were afterwards visible, and about 9 P. M., a wind from the S.E. suddenly arose, but no rain fell. Thermometer, at sunrise, 55°; at noon, 71°; at 4 P. M., 74°; at 9, 68°; — with wet bulb, 62°.
18TH AUGUST. — The mercurial column was lower this morning, and the sky was overcast. No wind could be felt from any quarter. We moved off, at our usual hour, 7 A. M. About nine, the western portion of the sky seemed loaded with rain; the wind suddenly arose from S. W., and a heavy rain began to fall steadily, to my great joy. The soil consisted of clay, which clogged the wheels, nevertheless, we arrived, without much delay, at a large lagoon, not much more than a mile short of Camp LXI., and there, of necessity, encamped. The rain continued without intermission until the evening, turning the surface around our tents into mud, almost knee deep. Still I rejoiced in the prospect the rain afforded, of water in the remaining part of our journey; the grand object of which was still to be accomplished, namely, the discovery of an interior river, flowing towards the Gulf of Carpentaria. Thermometer, at sunrise, 51°; at noon, 54°; at 4 P. M., 53°.
19TH AUGUST. — The soft clay was still impassable, but the sun shone brightly in the morning, and was likely soon to put a crust upon the earth. The wind continued, however, in the same quarter, the S. W., and I had thus a little leisure to mature my plan of farther exploration in that interesting country, to the westward of the vale of Salvator Rosa. I had ascertained that the whole of that fine country so named, and all the gullies falling towards it, were on the seaward side of the dividing range, if range there was. That, southward of the high ground under the parallel of 24° or 25°, the fall of waters and of the whole country was towards the south; whereas, northward of that parallel, the fall was so decidedly in the very opposite direction, or northward, that the river we had just explored extended across three degrees of latitude, descending from a mean elevation of at least 2000 feet, to one of only 600 feet above the sea. No river of any importance came from the westward; those we had seen, coming from S. W. What then could be supposed, but that the water-shed on that side was not far distant? Nor was it less reasonable to expect to find beyond it, the heads of a river or rivers leading to the Gulf of Carpentaria. In that nook, where it seemed that the spinal range extended westward in the elongated direction of this great island, and there probably separated from whatever high land extended northward and formed a limit to the basin of the Belyando, was therefore, to be sought the solution of this important geographical question; one result of which would probably be, the discovery of a river falling towards the north-west, to enter the Gulf of Carpentaria. The exploration of the country to which we were returning was, therefore, of the most momentous interest; and although our cattle were tired, and our time and provisions almost exhausted (the sun being likely to approach the tropic line before we could return to it), I was determined to carry the exploration so far, with whatever means could be spared from the party, even had it been necessary to have travelled on foot, or to have lived, like a native, on opossums, in order to investigate that point. Thermometer, at sunrise, 45°; at noon, 63°; at 4 P. M., 63°; at 9, 47°; — with wet bulb, 44°.
20TH AUGUST. — Heavy clouds promised more rain, but a crust had been formed on the surface which enabled us to proceed. The day cleared up, and we encamped within two miles of Camp LX.; much of the ground passed over having been sandy and dry. We now found water in every hollow, a great blessing brought by the rain, and affording some prospect of relief from one great difficulty for some time to come. At 10 minutes past 10 P.M. a very extraordinary meteor alarmed the camp, and awoke every man in it. First, a rushing wind from the west shook the tents; next, a blaze of light from the same quarter drew attention to a whirling mass, or revolving ball of red light, passing to the southward. A low booming sound, accompanied it, until it seemed to reach the horizon, after which a sound like the report of a cannon was heard, and the concussion was such that some tin pots, standing reversed on a cart-wheel, fell to the ground, and the boat on the dray vibrated for some minutes. The sky was very clear. Fahrenheit’s thermometer 46°.
21ST AUGUST. — Following our former route, the track led us through hollows, formerly clear of the fallen brigalow, but now rendered impassable by water, a new impediment. I was, however, most thankful for the glorious abundance of that element, the want of which had hitherto confined my route, and retarded the exploration of the country. We cheerfully sought round-about ways to avoid these new ponds. Our journey was accomplished very satisfactorily, having made two cuts to avoid the former camp (LX.), which formed an angle in the route, and much bad brigalow near Camp LIX., where we again encamped, for the sake of a piece of good grassy plain near it. The weather was most pleasant, temperate, and Englishlike, though we were still within the tropics. A sweet breeze blew from the S. W., and the degree of temperature was between 50° and 60° of Fahrenheit, the most agreeable, I believe, of any, to the human frame. There was abundance of water, and young grass was daily growing higher; many trees were also beginning to blossom. We were retiring, nevertheless, RE INFECTÂ, from these tropical regions, and I was impatient to arrive at the great range once more, to resume my explorations. At this camp, we found a plant, which was a wild carrot, tasting exactly like parsley. The men did not like to eat it, from the effects they had recently experienced from eating the large pea already mentioned — violent vomiting and purging; but I had no doubt whatever, that this carrot would have been found a good vegetable. The GEIJERA PARVIFLORA again attracted attention, by the strong pungent odour of its long narrow leaves; and we here observed the EREMOPHILA MITCHELLII, in the form of a shrub, from ten to twelve feet high. Its wood was remarkable from a perfume like roses.
22D AUGUST. — The morning was beautiful, our way plainly marked and sufficiently open, although it led wholly through a scrub for twelve miles. Flowers, the product of the late rain, were beginning to deck the earth, and water lodged in every hollow. We arrived early at Camp LVIII., and encamped 300 yards beyond it, to be nearer to a plain of good grass. Thermometer, at sunrise, 25°; at noon, 69°; at 4 P. M., 72°; at 9, 43°; — with wet bulb, 40°.
23D AUGUST. — The route back to the next camp went too far to the westward; and I therefore endeavoured to make a direct cut back to it. We thus encountered much scrub, and twice crossed the river. A bank, or berg, of water-worn pebbles, appeared on the west side of the river; and, to the eastward, a hill was visible amongst the trees. The river channel was full of water, and seemed to have been even running, with the late rain. The whole journey was through scrub; but this was chiefly of rosewood, which is not nearly so formidable an impediment as brigalow. We encamped on the river bank before we got so far as Camp LVII., at a spot where there was grass, the ground generally about that camp being very bare, although a fresh spring was observable, which would soon alter the case. At this camp I found, on a very low bush with a small leaf, splendid specimens of the fruit of a CAPPARIS, in a dry state, containing seeds. A crop of young fruit appeared also on the same bushes. This must be a very different species from the C. MITCHELII; the bush seldom exceeding the height and size of a gooseberry bush, although the fruit was larger than that of the tree CAPPARIS, and of a more uniform size and spherical shape. It seemed to grow only within the tropic. Thermometer, at sunrise, 28°; at noon, 73°; at 4 P. M., 75°; at 9, 44°; — with wet bulb, 41°.
24TH AUGUST. — The fine grassy plain had afforded better food for our horses and cattle, than they had seen for some time. Keeping along its eastern side, I continued to travel until I fell in with our former track; and in passing Camp LVII., I caused the letter T to be cut above the letters N.S.W., to distinguish it as our first camp within the line of Capricorn. I left the intertropical regions with feelings of regret; the weather had favoured our undertaking, and water had become abundant. The three last mornings had been frosty; the thermometer having stood on these mornings at 25°, 28°, and 29°, respectively. Many interesting trees and shrubs were just putting forth buds, of which we might never be able to gather the flower for the botanist. We travelled from Camp LVII., along our old track, to Camp LVI., in latitude 23° 31’ 36” S.; and there again set up our tents, having been exactly one month in the interior of tropical Australia. A pigeon this day arose from her nest in the grass near our route, and Yuranigh found in it two full fledged young ones. These being of that sort of pigeon preferable to all others for the table, GEOPHAPS SCRIPTA, we took this pair in hopes it might be possible to bring them up, and, perhaps, to obtain from them a domestic brood. This bird seemed to have the shortest beak of all the pigeon tribe, and flew more clumsily than others. It had three streaks of white about the head, assimilating it to the poultry class; and in building on the ground, it afforded another indication of its resemblance to our domestic birds. The flesh is very white, firm, yet tender. It is, perhaps, the most delicate of all birds. Thermometer, at sunrise, 29°; at noon, 75°; at 4 P.M., 76°; at 9, 46°; — with wet bulb, 42°.
25TH AUGUST. — The former route to this camp having been very crooked from following the course of the river amongst brigalow scrub, I set out on the bearing of the next camp, and reached it by travelling in a straight line, without much impediment, having found tolerably open ground. The blue summits of mountains appearing again above the trees, were welcome to our eyes; and Mounts Beaufort and Mudge reminded me of the Persian proverb, “The conversation of a friend brighteneth the eyes.” We encamped a mile on, from Camp LV., for the sake of better grass than we had left formerly at that camp. The hills adjacent consisted of gravel; and amongst the large water-worn pebbles, of which it consisted, I found basalt and trachite, neither of which rocks had been detected by me amongst the gravel of the basin of the Darling. Thermometer, at sunrise, 48°; at noon, 76°; at 4 P.M., 77°; at 9, 52°; — with wet bulb, 47°.
26TH AUGUST. — After cutting off an angle in the old track, and so shortening the way about a mile, we pursued it back to Camp LIV.; which spot we again occupied for the night. The horses were leg-weary; but I could spare no time for rest, otherwise than by making the daily journies short, until we could return to the foot of the dividing ranges. One of the young pigeons was found nearly dead this morning; but Yuranigh, by chafing and warming it by the fire, soon recovered it. The thermometer had been as low as 38°; but the birds had been kept in a box well covered with wool, and also by canvas. On the hill, southward of this camp, I found one tree, of the remarkable kind mentioned, as having been first seen by Mr. Stephenson, near Mount Mudge. Thermometer, at sunrise, 37°; at noon, 80°; at 4 P.M., 81°; at 9, 44°; — with wet bulb, 40°.
27TH AUGUST. — On reaching a difficult place for the passage of carts along the rocky margin of the river, we took a new direction, more to the right, crossing the clear hill, from which, on the 23d July, I had a view of the mountains to the eastward. Then descending, we came upon plains of firm clay, whereon grew some trees of ACACIA PENDULA. The rock in the hills seemed calcarious, and on a detached slab of ferruginous sandstone, I saw a more perfect specimen of ripple marks than I had ever seen elsewhere, except on the sea-beach.
I had now an opportunity of observing, in the hills forming a low range on my right, or to the westward, that their stratification dipped toward the east, at an angle of about 25° with the horizon; on which side those slopes did not exceed that angle, whereas on the westward, they presented abrupt, precipitous sides, each terminating in two steep sides, forming an angle at the highest point. We encamped on a fine plain on the east side of that range, but westward of the river (beyond which lay our former route), and we found water in a lagoon a quarter of a mile eastward of our camp; also, in a mountain rivulet two miles south of the camp, coming from near Mount Beaufort, and some, very clear, was found in a rocky gully immediately westward of our camp. Still, the bed of the main channel was dry, and we had been obliged to seek for the water before it was found in these several directions. Thermometer, at sunrise, 41°; at noon, 79; at 4 P.M., 82°; at 9, 48°; — with wet bulb 39°.
28TH AUGUST. — The cattle were well refreshed by the grass on the plain: a fresh growth was now apparent in it. We continued to travel due southward over the plain, and through a brigalow scrub beyond it, until we crossed, for the last time, the little river that had led us so far astray. Just beyond it, we joined our old track, at about five miles short of Camp LIII., to which we proceeded, and where we again encamped, although the pond we formerly found there had dried up. We afterwards found a good supply, at a lagoon about half a mile lower down; from which a little dog of mine (called Procyon), had come out wet, and so made it known to us. Thermometer, at sunrise, 40°; at noon, 81°; at 4 P.M., 76°; at 9, 49°; — with wet bulb, 41°.
29TH AUGUST. — Continuing along the old track, we this day quitted the basin of the Belyando, and ascended those grassy slopes, and that range, which I had formerly taken to be the water-shed of the coast rivers. We thus crossed to the basin of another eastern river, the Nog; and, in quitting that of the Belyando, I have to observe, that like most other Australian rivers, it maintained a peculiar character throughout its course, with great uniformity, even after it received tributaries apparently larger than itself. All these lapsed into the same concatenated line of ponds; at one place, spreading amidst brigalow scrub, at another, forming one well-defined deep channel. For the formation of ponds, and the retention of water, in so dry a climate, we see here something between the ordinary character of rivers, and artificial works which man must construct, when population may spread into these regions. The fallen timber of the brigalow decays very slowly, and is not liable to be burnt, like most other dead wood in open forests, because no grass grows amongst the brigalow, as in open forests. The accumulations of dead logs become clogged with river rack and the deposit of floods; to which floods these heaps present obstructions, forcing the waters into new channels, and, in their progress, scooping out new ponds, and completing the embankment of dead logs; which thus form natural dams and reservoirs to hold, under the shade of the brigalow trees, more water for a longer time than any single river channel could retain, however sluggish its course. Thus it was, that during a season of unusual drought, we had found abundance in this river’s course, across nearly 3½ degrees of latitude. The fallen brigalow presents awkward obstructions to wheel carriages; and, as the river spreads into broad plains, and is very favourable to the growth of brigalow, the difficulty of travelling along this river is greatest, where its waters are most scattered. Experience has taught us, in such cases, to endeavour to follow the river channel as closely as possible (the general course being very straight); and thus, open grassy spots and small plains are frequently met with, beyond which nothing could be distinguished, and from which it is safest to go forward in the known general course of the chain of ponds. We again encamped under Mount Mudge, where I perceived that a projecting portion of white rock on the summit, had fallen since I had stood upon it; and that the avalanche of rock had strewed the woody side of the mountain with white fragments down to the very base. In the sheltered ravine below, a curious new CASSIA formed a shrub six feet high.91 Thermometer, at sunrise, 39°; at noon, 70°; at 4 P.M., 82°; at 9, 56°; — with wet bulb, 50°.
91 [C. ZYGOPHYLLA (Benth. MS.) glabra vel pube tenuissimâ subcanescens, foliolis unijugis linearibus planis crassis, glandula inter foliola parva depressa, racemis petiolo brevioribus 2-4-floris. — Near C. NEMOPHILA Cunn.; but there appear never to be more than one pair of leaflets, the plant is smoother, the leaflets longer, and the glands different.]
30TH AUGUST. — The old track guided the party, while I preceded it to sketch one or two landscapes. A fine breeze blew from the northward, and goodly clouds seemed to promise rain. I completed my drawings before the arrival of the carts; and on their coming up I conducted them to a spot where we encamped, on the left bank of the creek, or opposite to camp LI., being resolved to seek a better and more direct way to the plains, than that down the bed of Balmy Creek, which we formerly found so difficult. As soon as I had chosen a spot for the tents, I took a ride, accompanied by Mr. Stephenson and Yuranigh, to explore the ravines eastward of that of Balmy Creek, and which led in a more direct line towards the plains of the Claude. We found the precipices in this direction much lower. After riding a few miles, we could ride up one of the points, and following the ridge we had ascended (which was thickly covered with brigalow), we at length got to an open forest, and once more saw the open plains before us. In returning, I selected, with Yuranigh’s able assistance, a smaller valley, by which I hoped to succeed in conducting the carts next day, so as to avoid the ascent of the brigalow range. The barometer at this camp had fallen ten millimetres lower than the point at which the mercury stood formerly at the adjacent camp (marked LI.). By the side of the water-course, we found the ACACIA DORATOXYLON and also the ACACIA CONFERTA. The valley was gay with the ultramarine blue flowers of a new species of HOVEA92; and on rich soil we saw also the PODOLEPIS ACUMINATA? D. C. A shrub with long curved leaves and singular zigzag stems, was ascertained to be the ACACIA MACRADENIA, a very striking new species; and on Balmy Creek we found also a new BOSSIOEA, with deep red flowers.93 Thermometer, at sunrise, 59°; at noon, 83°; at 4 P.M., 81°; at 9, 62°; with wet bulb, 54°.
92 [H. LEIOARPA (Benth. MS.) fruticosa, foliis anguste oblongis sublanceolatisve integerrimis subtus reticulatis pubescentibus, venis primariis obliquis, pedicellis in pedunculo brevissimo axillari subgeminis calyce longioribus, calyce adpresse tomentoso, legumine glaberrimo. — Not unlike some forms of H. LANCEOLATA, but readily distinguished, besides the shorter leaves, by the smooth fruit and the veins of the leaves, which diverge from the midrib at a very acute instead of a right angle.]
93 [B. CARINALIS (Benth. MS.) ramulis teretibus puberulis foliosis, foliis subsessilibus subcordato-ovatis acutiusculis puberulis, pedicello calyce paullo breviore, corollae alis vexillo longioribus carinâ multo brevioribus. — The same remarkable proportion of the petals may be seen in an unpublished species gathered by Fraser on the Brisbane river.]
31ST AUGUST. — Some heavy showers fell during the night, and in the morning the sky was wholly overcast. We crossed various formidable gullies, and travelled some way down the bed of Balmy Creek, then ascending by the valley through which I yesterday penetrated in my ride, we travelled southward in a tolerably direct line through the valley up to its highest heads, from one of which we contrived to draw up carts and drays along three traverses, formed by nature on the face of a rocky slope. Above this, we found a plateau of flowering shrubs, chiefly new and strange, so that Mr. Stephenson was soon loaded like a market gardener. He had found in the hollow of the little gulley by which we ascended a variety of ACACIA DECORA with leaves shorter that usual; the CASSIA ZYGOPHYLLA, a very curious new species; and the BERTYA OLEOEFOLIA, a shrub three feet high, with green flowers. On the top of the plateau grew a singular dwarf shrub, loaded with yellow flowers, and covered by strong sharp leaves resembling the curved blade of a penknife. It has been ascertained by Mr. Bentham to be an Acacia, referable to his ACACIA TRIPTERA. A little upright bush, with glandular leaves smelling strongly of thyme, proved to be a new PROSTANTHERA.94 The beautiful ACACIA DECORA appeared as a shrub four feet high; the DODONOEA NOBILIS was just forming its fruit; the DODONOEA VESTITA was also there; the white flowered MYOPORUM CUNNINGHAMI with its viscid branches, formed a bush about four feet high: PITTOSPORUM LANCEOLATUM was a shrub about three feet high, with yellow flowers; and here we met in abundance with the beautiful TECOMA OXLEYI, a kind of Bignonia, loaded with yellowishwhite flowers.
94 [P. ODORATISSIMA (Benth. MS.) viscoso-puberula foliis linearibus sublanceolatisve obtusissimis paucidentatis integrisve crassis ad axillas fasciculatis, floribus paucis axillaribus subsessilibus, calycis labiis integris inferiore minore, antherarum calcare longiore loculum superante. — Near P. ASPALATHOIDES: leaves two or three lines long, remarkably thick. Calyx strongly ribbed. The specimens found were past flower, having only a few fragments remaining of the corolla and stamens. The whole plant appears very viscid and retains when dry a very strong smell of thyme.]
There ended all our troubles with the sandstone gullies, for we soon entered open forests, and crossed a grassy valley gently sloping to the eastward, in whose bosom we found a fine deep rocky pond. Beyond that valley we arrived at open downs of the richest soil, and of an extent not to be embraced by the eye at any one point of view. The finest sorts of grass were fast springing up, and curious herbs were beginning to shoot from the rich alluvium in the vallies. We encamped on these downs, about ten miles from our former camp by the Claude, XLIX.
1ST SEPTEMBER. — The morning clear and frosty; Thermometer 25°. All prospects of rain had vanished “into thin air.” The scene now around us was as different as could well be imagined, from that which surrounded us at the same hour yesterday. As we proceeded, we crossed a hill quite clear of trees, which commanded a view over an extent of similar country, large enough for a county. The broken summits, just appearing above the placid horizon of undulating downs, had formerly looked like a range to us, and were certainly highly ornamental to the scenery; but no stranger could have supposed these features to have been only the highest parts of such a broken sandstone country as that from which we had just emerged. The plains, or rather, I should say, downs, for they were nowhere level but everywhere gently undulating, were first seen in white streaks high above us, when we first perceived them through the scrubs. These downs consisted of the richest sort of black mould, on which grew luxuriantly, ANTHISTIRIA and PANICUM LOEVINODE. But the surface in general was loose, resembling that of a field after it had lain long in fallow. Herbs in great variety were just emerging from the recently watered earth, and the splendid morning did ample justice to the vernal scene. The charm of a beginning seemed to pervade all nature, and the songs of many birds sounded like the orchestral music before the commencement of any theatrical performance. Such a morning, in such a place, was quite incompatible with the brow of care. Here was an almost boundless extent of the richest surface in a latitude corresponding to that of China, yet still uncultivated and unoccupied by man. A great reserve, provided by nature for the extension of his race, where economy, art, and industry might suffice to people it with a peaceful, happy, and contented population.
These plains are much higher than the sandstone ravines, and the soil contains not only pebbles, but angular fragments of the knots and fibres of wood in a silicified state, and much encrusted with chalcedony. The component parts of the sandstone in the gullies resemble those of a sea beach. These fragments of fossil wood in rich soils of plains or downs above formations of sandstone, are found in various parts of Australia, and I have seen fossil wood from similar plains in Tasmania. The fossil wood of such plains has no appearance of having been exposed to fire. The ACACIA PENDULA grows on the skirts of them, and indicates a salsolaceous soil. These circumstances are obvious to everybody, but no geologist has yet explained to us the causes of such changes as may have produced that rich black mould, on which trees, now silicified, formerly grew; or these wide plains and downs of rich earth, above a red sandstone formation. One has called the interior of Australia a “dry seabottom;” but this phrase admits of no easy application to such cases as these. Fragments of a ferruginous conglomerate of water-worn pebbles, apparently identical with those in the basin of the Darling, in some places accompany these angular fragments of fossil wood. We found this day a new ERIOSTEMON allied to E. BREVIFOLIUM, with small knobby fleshy leaves95; also a fine new shrubby EURYBIA.96 Scattered plants of BOSSIOEA RHOMBIFOLIA also appeared in the adjacent gullies; and LORANTHUS SUBFALCATUS (Hook), was parasitical on trees. We encamped on the margin of the rich plain N. of Camp XLIX, and about a mile distant from it, our draught oxen being very weak and leg-weary. Thermometer, at sunrise, 25°; at noon, 67°; at 4 P.M., 73°; at 9, 44°; — with wet bulb, 40°.
95 [E. RHOMBEUM (Lindl. MS.); ramulis pubescentibus, foliis carnosis obtuse rhombeis revolutis subtus glabris, pedicellis terminalibus unifloris tomentosis foliis brevioribus, staminibus pilosis.]
96 [E. SUBSPICATA (Hook. MS.); foliis linearibus obtusis supra glabris subtus ramisque albo-tomentosis, corymbis terminalibus spiciformibus, involucri squamis lineari-oblongis albis apice viridipunctatis.]
2D SEPTEMBER. — We recrossed the perfectly level plain formerly mentioned. We found, on reaching the Claude, that our bridge, then made, had been much damaged by a flood. The little river was still running, and it was cheering to learn thus, that rain had fallen at its sources, beyond which, I had still much to do. We lost no time in repairing our bridge, so that all things were got across safely. We ascended the undulating downs along our old track, and where many curious specimens of trees in flint, lay mixed with the rich black mould. I observed that no entire sections of trunks were cylindrical, all appearing to have been compressed so as to present a diameter of two to one. Yuranigh brought me one specimen which he said was “pine;” (Callitris), which so far confirmed what has hitherto been observed of the coniferous character of Australian fossil woods; but, from the appearance of other specimens, I am not at all convinced that these fossils are all of that description. I left these beautiful regions with feelings of regret, that the direct route to the gulf, could not be carried through them. I was rather at a loss for names of reference to these parts. I had given the name of Claude to the river; and it occurred to me, that the scenery of the Mantuan bard, which this painter has so finely illustrated with pastoral subjects, deserved a congenial name; and that this country might, therefore, be distinguished by that of the Mantuan Downs and Plains. About half-way through our former stage, I found water in ponds which had been formerly dry; and there we encamped, our animals being almost exhausted. It is one redeeming quality of brigalow scrub, that water is to be found within its recesses, at times when all other channels or sources are dry; the soil in which it grows being stiff, retentive, and usually bare of vegetation. Thermometer at sunrise, 28°; at noon, 73°; at 4 P.M., 78°; at 9, 47°; — with wet bulb, 42°.
3D SEPTEMBER. — Another morning worthy of “Eden in her earliest hour.” The thermometer 31° at day-break, with a little dew. The notes of the magpie or GYMNORHINA, resounded through the shady brigalow, and the rich browns and reddish greens of that prolific bush contrasted with its dense grey shades, were very beautiful. We found the Nogoa much in the same state as when we left it. No flood had come down the channel of that river. The tracks of the feet of many natives were visible along the old route, and bushes had been burnt all along the line; but it is remarkable that in no case had they injured or defaced the letters and numerals marked on trees at the various camps, nor disturbed our temporary bridges. We cut our way through a scrub of brigalow, thus passing camps XLVIII., XLVII., and XLVI., encamping at a short distance from the latter of these places. Thermometer, at sunrise, 31°; at noon, 74°; at 4 P. M., 75°; at 9, 52°; with wet bulb, 40°.
4TH SEPTEMBER. — The surrounding grass, and also the reeds in the lake, had been very extensively burnt along our former tracks, and a green crop was springing to the great gratification and refreshment of our cattle. Formerly this splendid valley appeared to be uninhabited, but this day, proofs were not wanting that it was too charming a spot of earth to be left so. In proceeding over an open part of the plains bordering the river, we perceived a line of about twelve or fourteen natives before they had observed us. Through my glass, I saw they were painted red about the face, and that there were females amongst them. They halted on seeing us, but some soon began to run, while two very courageously and judiciously took up a position on each side of a reedy swamp, evidently with the intention of covering the retreat of the rest. The men who ran had taken on their backs the heavy loads of the gins, and it was rather curious to see long-bearded figures stooping under such loads. Such an instance of civility, I had never before witnessed in the Australian natives towards their females; for these men appeared to carry also some of the uncouth-shaped loads like mummies. The two acting as a rear guard behaved as if they thought we had not the faculty of sight as well as themselves, and evidently believed that by standing perfectly still, and stooping slowly to a level with the dry grass, when we passed nearest to them, they could deceive us into the idea that they were stumps of burnt trees. After we had passed, they were seen to enter the brigalow, and make ahead of us; by which movement I learnt that part of the tribe was still before us. Some time afterwards, we overtook that portion when crossing an open interval of the woods; they made for the scrub on seeing us. Meanwhile columns of smoke ascended in various directions before us, and two natives beyond the river, were seen to set up a great blaze there. To the westward of the beautifully broken rocky woody range beyond Lake Salvator, a dense smoke also arose, and continued until evening; thus adding much sublimity to the effect of a gorgeous sunset, which poured its beams through the smoke between the rocky pinnacles, as I sat drawing the scene at my camp by the lake, two miles northward of XLV. Thermometer, at sunrise, 26°; at noon, 67°; at 4 P.M., 65°; at 9, 39°; — with wet bulb, 32°.
5TH SEPTEMBER. — The cooler air reminded us that we had returned to a more elevated region than that on the Belyando. This morning heavy clouds of cumulostratus promised more rain, and gave a cool day for the last effort of the jaded animals, which the driver doubted could not be driven much farther. I cut off all the roundabouts and steep pulls, where this could be done, by laying logs across such gullies as we were obliged to cross. We thus saw more of the river and its romantic scenery, which well deserved the name of a painter. No natives, nor columns of smoke, were seen this day; and I concluded that they concentrated the tribe yesterday, and had departed this morning. We finally took up a very snug position near the pyramids, in the very gorge of the mountain valley by which we had approached this country; camp XLVI. being within sight, and the swamp with the spring, at the foot of this hill on which we now encamped, as a camp of occupation during my intended absence, on an excursion with horses only, to the north-west. The genial influence of spring had already induced many plants to show their colours, which had formerly been passed by us unnoticed. In the sandy soil, grew the purple-flowered CHLOANTHES STOECHADIS; THE ACACIA CUNNINGHAMII; the pink — flowered CRYPTANDRA PROPINQUA; and a species of CALYTRIX; these two forming small shrubs, the latter from four to six feet high. A very handsome new BORONIA, with large white and red downy flowers, here first appeared in the open forest.97 The rocks were partly covered with a small white-flowered shrub, which proved to be a new species of LEPTOSPERMUM allied to L. PUBESCENS, but perfectly distinct.98 At the foot of them, was found the AOTUS MOLLIS, a little hoary bush, with yellow black flowers; a santalaceous plant like CHORETRUM, forming a tree fifteen or twenty feet high: the CALLITRIS GLAUCA or CUPRESSUS GLAUCA of ALL. CUNN. (in Hook. Herb.). A small tree, about twenty-five feet high, proved to be a new species of Acacia, or possibly a variety of A. CUNNINGHAMII, but handsomer, with larger phyllodia, longer spikes of flowers, and everywhere clothed with a soft velvety pubescence.99 Thermometer, at sunrise, 33°; at noon, 68°; at 4 P. M., 64°; at 9, 40°; — with wet bulb, 31°.
97 [B. ERIANTHA (Lindl. MS.); foliis pinnatis cum impari 1-3-jugis, foliolis glaberrimis linearibus retusis emarginatisque laevibus, pedunculis solitariis unifloris axillaribus foliis brevioribus, sepalis triangularibus glabris, petalis tomentosis, staminibus 8.]
98 [L. SERICATUM (Lindl. MS.); foliis obovatis linearibus planis obtusis aveniis impunctatis utrinque sericeis, calycibus tomentosis dentibus acutis persistentibus.]
99 [A. LONGISPICATA (Benth. MS.) pube brevi mollissima vestita, ramulis elevato-angulatis, phyllodiis amplis falcatis utrinque angustatis subcoriaceis tenuiter striato-multinervibus nervis 3-5 validioribus, spicis elongato-cylindricis densis, calyce dentato corolla 2-3-plo breviore, ovario villoso.]
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:57