MR. KENNEDY SENT TO EXPLORE THE MOONI PONDS. — I COMPLETE THE MAPS. — EXCESSIVE HEAT AGAIN. — NEW PLANTS FOUND. — MR. KENNEDY RETURNS— AFTER SUFFERING MUCH FROM THE HEAT AND DROUGHT. — CORPORAL GRAHAM SENT WITH DESPATCHES FOR THE GOVERNOR OF NEW SOUTH WALES. — THE PARTY CROSSES THE BALONNE— BY ST. GEORGE’S BRIDGE. — REACHES THE MOONI PONDS— OR RIVER. — TRACKS OF CATTLE AND HORSES NUMEROUS. — A WHITE WOMAN MET WITH. — CATTLE STATIONS. — HEAVY AND CONTINUED RAIN RETARDS THE PARTY. — FLOODS ALMOST SURROUND THE CAMP. — THE WATERS KEPT BACK BY A DAM OF SAND. — AFTER SEVENTEEN DAYS HALT, THE PARTY CROSSES FROM THE MOONI TO THE BARWAN. — A FLOOD IN THE BARWAN. — PASSAGE WITH THE BOATS. — MUSQUITOES NUMEROUS AFTER THE RAIN. — STRAY HORSES JOIN OURS. — THE MAAL ALSO FLOODED. — CROSS IT WITH THE BOATS. — THE MEEI CROSSED. — CROSS OTHER BRANCHES OF THE GWYDIR. — RECOGNISE MOUNT RIDDELL. — ENTER ON EXTENSIVE PLAINS. — SNODGRASS LAGOON. — A YOUNG SQUATTER. — LEAVE THE PARTY IN CHARGE OF MR. KENNEDY. — RIDE HOMEWARDS.
5TH to 9TH NOVEMBER. — These days I devoted to the protracting of angles taken on the Victoria, and the last day to writing my despatch to the Government; and on this morning (the 9th) I sent Mr. Kennedy, followed by Corporal Graham and John Douglas, to examine the country in the direction of the furthest point attained by me on my journey of 1831; that was on the Barwan (Karaula) in latitude 29° 2’ S., and bearing about 20° E. of S. from this camp. A chain of ponds, called the “Mooni” ponds, were said to water the intervening country, and I wished to ascertain whether they were favourable for the connection of our recently explored route, with the termination of that marked out by me in 1831, when my journey, undertaken expressly with the same objects in view, was accidentally frustrated.
Corporal Graham was to go forward to the postoffice at Tamworth with the despatches, when Mr. Kennedy, having ascertained the situation of the Mooni ponds, should return. In the meanwhile, I continued to finish maps and drawings, although suffering much inconvenience from excessive heat, under a tent infested with numerous flies. The banks of the river were gay with the purple flowers of SWAINSONA CORONILLOEFOLIA; FUSANUS ACUMINATUS, produced its crimson-coloured fruit, which Yuranigh brought us from the bush; the spotted bark tree, ELOEODENDRON MACULOSUM, was also in these scrubs. A yellow-flowered herbaceous plant, has been determined by Professor De Vriese to be identical with the Swan River GOODENIA PULCHELLA. A salt plant, greedily eaten by the cattle, proved to be a variety of the ATRIPLEX NUMMULARIS, observed in February on the Macquarie. A species of GREWIA, in fruit, appeared to be the same as the G. RICHARDIANA of Walpers. The TRICHINIUM FUSIFORME R. Br., was covered with its globular, shaggy flower-heads, in the sandy open parts of the forest. A very remarkable shrub, five or six feet high, with the foliage of a Phyllirea, and spreading branches, was loaded with short racemes of white flowers. It proved to be a plant of the natural order of Bixads, and allied to MELICYTUS, but with hermaphrodite flowers.158 A submerged plant, in the water, was found to be a new species of MYRIOPHYLLUM, with tuberculate fruit.159 CASSIA CORONILLOIDES, a low shrub, was in flower.160 A shrubby MYOPORUM put forth sweet and edible fruit. A new ELOEODENDRON, with small panicles of white flowers, formed a forest tree twenty feet high, remarkable for its spotted bark.161 A fir-leaved CASSIA, with thin, sickle-leaved pods, formed a bush, from four to five feet high.162 A new blue-flowered MORGANIA, decorated the river-bank163; lastly, a new species of indigo164, completed the list of plants we gathered at this season at the camp over St. George’s Bridge.
158 [M.? OLEASTER (Lindl. MS.); glaberrimus, foliis lineari-lanceolatis supra griseis subtus virentibus venosis racemis strictis multo longioribus, floribus hermaphroditis. — OBS. SEP. 5. PET. 5 hypog. imbricata. ST. 5 in margine disci magni inserta. OVAR. ovatum 1-loc. plac. 3-par. STYLUS simplex. STIGMA parvum 3-dent. FRUCTUS ignotus, verisim. carnosus.]
159 [M. VERRUCOSUM (Lindl. MS.); foliis submersis capillaceo-multifidis emersis ternatim verticillatis ovatis pinnatifidis, floribus octandris, fructibus tuberculatis.]
160 [C. CORONILLOIDES (A. Cunn. MS.); ramis subangulatis petiolisque minute puberulis, foliolis 8-10-jugis lineari-oblongis obtusiusculis glabris, glandula cylindrica inter par infimum, racemis axillaribus 2-3-floris folio multo brevioribus. — Very near C. AUSTRALIS, but the leaflets are fewer and smaller, and the subulate glands of that species are wanting. — G. B. M. DULCE (Benth. MS.); ramulis laevibus, foliis anguste lanceolatis planis acutis uninervibus basi angustatis, laciniis calycinis linearilanceolatis acutis brevibus, corollae limbo imberbi. — Intermediate between M. TENUIFOLIUM Br. and M. DESERTI Cunn.]
161 [E. MACULOSUM (Lindl. MS.); inerme, foliis linearibus obovatis integerrimis obtusis, paniculis terminalibus ultra folia evectis.]
162 [C. CIRCINNATA (Benth. MS.); glabriuscula, petiolis phyllodineis lineari-subteretibus, foliolis nullis, racemis phyllodio plerumque brevioribus 1-2-floris, legumine plano glabro cincinnato v. spiraliter contorto. — Phyllodia one to one and a half inch long, resembling the leaflets of C. HETEROLOBA. Pod like that of several PITHECOLOBIA, but not yet ripe.]
163 [M. FLORIBUNDA (Benth. MS.); dense glandulosa, caeterum glabra, ramis strictis dense foliosis foliis linearibus rarissime dentatis, pedicellis plerisque geminis folio florali multo brevioribus. — This is a very distinct species which was also gathered by Sir T. Mitchell in 1836, but my specimen was not complete enough to describe it accurately, the branches are thickly covered with leaves and flowers. The lower leaves are one to two inches long, the flowers blue, like those of M. GLABRA. G.B.]
164 [I. BREVIDENS (Benth. MS.) fruticosa, gracilis, pilis parvis canescens, foliolis 6-10-jugis cum impari oppositis obovatis subplanis mucronatis v. emarginatis utrinque strigosis, racemis multifloris laxis folia vix superantibus, bracteis minutis, calycis villosuli dentibus brevissimis obtusis, corolla pubescente, legumine strigilloso incurvo. — It has much the aspect of I. MICRANTHA (Bunge), but the flowers are not quite so small, and the teeth of the calyx are very different.]
15TH NOVEMBER. — Mr. Kennedy having been absent much longer than was expected, at length appeared on the opposite bank of the river with Douglas, both being on foot, and Douglas leading only one (strange) horse. The information Mr. Kennedy brought me was favourable to the project of uniting this route with that to the Barwan, and the (now) settled district of the Nammoy. He had found that the Mooni ran nearly north and south, and that its banks were occupied with cattle-stations to within a day’s ride of our camp. This ride of discovery had, however, cost the lives of two of our horses, the bearing already mentioned as the direction given for Mr. Kennedy’s guidance having been TRUE and not magnetic. Pursuing that bearing BY COMPASS, Mr. Kennedy had ridden almost parallel to the Mooni, sixty-three miles, without hitting them, or finding water. The heat was intense, one of the horses died, and the men were very ill; when they at length reached these ponds. In returning, he had travelled by the stations, and borrowed the horse brought back, from the station nearest to us, occupied by Messrs. Hook. From these gentlemen Mr. Kennedy had ascertained that Sir Charles Fitzroy was the new Governor.
17TH NOVEMBER. — The whole party crossed the Balonne by St. George’s Bridge, and I arrived, the same afternoon, with a small advanced party on the Mooni, which we made in latitude 28° 17’ 51” S. The channel was full of water, and thus we completed the last link wanted to form a chain of communication DIRECT FROM SYDNEY, to the furthest limits we had explored. The ground was imprinted with the hoofs of cattle, and we already felt as if at home. The day was one of extreme heat without any wind; the thermometer stood at 104° in the shade. Yet the horses drew the carts easily twenty-four miles and a quarter. We had passed over a country covered with excellent grass, consisting chiefly of plains and open forest, with scrubs of ACACIA PENDULA, and a soil of clay. In the scrubs we found a new species of CANTHIUM, a shrub ten or twelve feet high; and in the open forest ACACIA NERIIFOLIA was observed in fruit; HIBISCUS STURTII Hook.; an Evolvulus related to SERICEUS; a new yellow CROTALARIA165; and a noble new species of STENOCHILUS, with willowy leaves and large trumpet flowers.166 Thermometer, at sunrise, rise, 62°; at noon, 103°; at 4 P.M., 104°; at 9, 81°; — with wet bulb, 67°. Height above the sea, 622 feet. (Camp 84.)
165 [C. DISSITIFLORA (Benth. MS.); herbacea, laxe ramosa, stipulis setaceis, foliolis elliptico-oblongis rarius ovalibus obtusis supra glabris subtus ramulisque pube tenui subcanescentibus, racemis erectis oppositifoliis elongatis, floribus (ultra 20) distantibus, carinae rostro brevi recto, ovulis numerosis, legumine breviter stipitato pubescente. — Very near to C. SENEGALENSIS among the LONGIROSTRES, but the habit is more rigid, the leaflets rather larger, the beak of the keel shorter, and the pod (which is only very young in the specimen) is borne on a short stalk.]
166 [S. (PLATYCHILUS) BIGNONIAEFLORUS (Benth. MS.); glaber viscosus-foliis longe lanceolatis linearibusve apice subuncinato, calycis foliolis latis acutis, corollae glabrae ventricosae laciniis obtusissimis infima dilatata subtriloba vix caeteris magis soluta, staminibus vix exsertis. — Leaves three to six inches long, two to six lines broad, thick and clammy. Flowers above an inch long, remarkable for the broad divisions of the corolla, and the general form much that of a BIGNONIA. This difference in the form of the corolla, would perhaps justify the placing it into a distinct genus instead of a mere section, especially as that peculiarity which gave the name of STENOCHILUS does not exist, were it not that the forms of the corolla are so different in different other species, that they will not furnish generic characters where the habit is similar. — G. B.]
18TH NOVEMBER. — The teams came in very early, not having been above one mile behind. I remained encamped there, in the expectation of some decided change of weather. The night had been oppressively hot. The season during which we had been beyond the Balonne, viz., that between the 23rd April and 5th November, was the most proper for visiting the tropical regions of Australia.
Here we found TRICORYNE ELATIOR, a delicate yellow-flowered plant; a species of the genus Fugosia near F. DIGITATA, a plant of Senegambia, but less glabrous, and with the leaflets of the involucre much larger. MORGANIA GLABRA, a little erect herbaceous plant, having the appearance of being parasitical on roots; ACACIA VARIANS, in the open forest, in rich soil. ANTHERICUM BULBOSUM, formerly seen on the Narran. In the thick forest, a shrub six feet high with small white flowers, CATHA CUNNINGHAMII167 (Hook. MS.), and a new species of VIGNA very near V. LANCEOLATA, though very different in habit.168 Thermometer, at sunrise, 58°; at noon, 102°; at 4 P.M., 103°; at 9, 76°; — with wet bulb, 64°.
167 [C. CUNNINGHAMII (Hook. MS.); inermis, foliis lineari-lanceolatis rigidis mucronato-acutis integerrimis subfalcatis superne latioribus basi in petiolum perbrevem attenuatis, floribus axillaribus fasciculatis, pedunculis simplicibus vel racemosis bracteolatis.]
168 [V. SUBERECTA (Benth. MS.); leviter pubescens, suberecta, ramosissima, foliolis lato-lanceolatis basi integris vel hastato-trilobatis, pedunculis folio subbrevioribus apice paucifloris, calycis pubescentis campanulati dentibus tubo subaequilongis, carina rostrata acuta, legumine puberulo.]
19TH NOVEMBER. — The party moved off at an early hour. The tracks of cattle and horses became more and more numerous as we proceeded, and the channel of the little river was full of water, on which a large species of duck was very plentiful. At length we came upon the track of wheels, and followed them towards the station; which was not yet visible when our young native, Dicky, fell a shouting and laughing, drawing my attention to what certainly was a “RARA AVIS” to him. This was a white woman going with pails to milk the cows, and the first white female he could ever have seen. The jeering laugh of the young savage was amusing, as he pointed to that swaddled, straw-bonneted object, as something curious in natural history, to which my attention, as he thought, would be rivetted: but the sight was, nevertheless, a welcome one to all the party. Soon two comfortable stations, one on each side of the river, appeared before us; and the neatly dressed mother of two chubby white children stood at the door of one of them. I had a memorandum from Mr. Kennedy to call at the other, to thank the owner for lending him a horse; and there I first entered again under a roof, and a most agreeable cover it did seem to me after living nearly a year under canvass, in houseless wilds. These were cattle stations, and both appeared to be well-laid out for the purpose, and upon a scale more substantial and worthy of it, than I had hitherto seen in squatting districts. The placing of two such stations thus near each other, is a good arrangement, not only affording better security against the depredations of natives, but also as banishing that aspect of solitude and loneliness such places in general present; and in the outset of such a life, implanting, in the still uncultivated soil, the germs of social union, on the solid basis of mutual protection.
I continued to travel some miles beyond these stations, for the sake of obtaining better grass for our cattle; and thus lengthened the journey to near twenty miles, in very warm weather, the thermometer being 104° in the shade. Thermometer, at sunrise, 58°; at noon, 102°; at 4 P.M., 104°; at 9, 75°; — with wet bulb, 63°. (Camp 85.) Latitude, 28° 30’ 51” S.
20TH NOVEMBER. — Travelling south by compass, we found a tolerably open forest, and the Mooni on our left, until we fell in with Mr. Kennedy’s track on riding back. Following this (as he had been guided back by an experienced stockman), we at length crossed the Mooni, and fell into a cart-track leading southward, and at a few miles beyond where we fell into that track, we encamped on the left bank of the Mooni; a tree at this camp being marked 86. Again we saw, in the woods about this camp, the HYLOCOCCUS SERICEUS R. Br., a remarkable tree, with oblong leaves, and fruit resembling a small orange. It is a curious genus, and belongs to the poisonous order of Spurgeworts. We found here also, the HELICHRYSUM SEMIPAPPOSUM D. C.; ACACIA SPECTABILIS; a new species of BEYERIA, near B. VISCOSA, Mig.; the variety of CASSIA SOPHERA (Linn.) cultivated in some botanical gardens, under the name of C. SOPHERELLA; a beautiful tree with pinnate leaves and spreading panicles of large white flowers, called THOUINIA AUSTRALIS; the EUCALYPTUS BICOLOR A. Cunn. MS., a species closely allied to E. HOEMATOMMA Sm., but the marginal nerve is not so close to the edge of the leaf (this is the “bastard box” of the carpenters); a fine new large-flowered SIDA169; and it appears that the “Yarra” tree of the natives here, is a new Eucalyptus, which Sir William Hooker calls E. ACUMINATA.170
169 [S. (ABUTILON) TUBULOSA (All. Cunn. MS.); tota velutino-pubescens, foliis cordato-ovatis (sinu profundo angusto) sublonge acuminatis dentatoserratis, stipulis subulatis flaccidis, pedunculis axillaribus solitariis unifloris folio brevioribus, calyce elongato tubuloso 5-fido laciniis acuminatis, petalis (flavis) vix duplo brevioribus. — W. J. H.]
170 [E. ACUMINATA (Hook. MS.); foliis alternis petiolatis lanceolatis longe acuminatis subaristatis penninerviis glaucis reticulatis nervis lateralibus a margine remotiusculis, floribus umbellatis (4-6-floris), umbellis pedunculatis, calycis tubo hemisphaerico in pedicellum gracilem attenuato, calyptra conico-acuminato calycis tubum superante.]
Just as we sat down here, rain came on; the wind changed to S. W. and the sky looked more portentous of rainy weather than we had ever seen it on this journey. Now this was the first country in which we had any reason to dread wet weather, since we crossed the Culgoa about the beginning of April. Here rain would render the ground impassable, and inundate the country. The mercury in the barometer was falling, and so was the rain. Thermometer, at sunrise, 61°; at noon, 62°; at 4 P.M., 57°; at 9, 53°; — with wet bulb, 53°.
21ST NOVEMBER. — The wind had shifted from E. to S. W., and the rain had set in — to proceed was quite impossible. The coolness of a cloudy day rendered the tent much more agreeable and convenient for finishing maps in, than one under the extremely hot sunshine which mine had been recently exposed to so long at St. George’s Bridge. I had now, therefore, a good opportunity of completing the maps. The great heat which had prevailed during so many successive days there, portended some such change as this; and we were thus likely to be caught in that very region so subject to inundation, which I was formerly so careful to avoid, that I endeavoured to travel so as to be within reach of a hilly country. For that reason chiefly I had proceeded into the interior, by the circuitous route of Fort Bourke.
21ST NOVEMBER TO 7TH DECEMBER. — The sky resembled that in Poussin’s picture of the Deluge; and to one who had contended a whole year with scarcity of water, in regions where this coming supply had so long been due, the reflection would often occur, that this rain, if it had fallen a year sooner, might have expedited that journey very much indeed; whereas it was now very likely to retard the return of the party. This was the only spot where such a rain could have seriously impeded our progress; the waters of the great rivers were sure to come down, and we had still to traverse extensive low tracts, where, in 1831, I had seen the marks of floods on trees, which had left an impression still remaining on my mind, that I thought it very desirable then, to get my party safe out of these flats as soon as possible.
On the 28th November, or eight days after the rains set in, the Mooni waters came down, at first slowly, but gradually filling up the channel, until they rose to such a height, as to oblige me to move three of the drays. During the night, the rising inundation began to spread over the lower parts of the surface back from the river; while the current came down with such rapidity, and, judging from marks of former inundations on the trunks of box-trees (“GOBORRA”), it appeared probable the water might reach our camp. I therefore determined to move it by daylight to a sand-hill, about a quarter of a mile back from the river. This was effected in good time, and only in time. Between the camp beside the Mooni, and that we afterwards established on the sand-hill, there was a hollow by which the rising floods would pass to an extensive tract of low ground almost surrounding our camp on the sand-hill, and which would, probably, render our passage out of that position difficult, even after the waters had subsided. I therefore employed the men in throwing up a dam across this hollow, between our hill-camp and the river, so as to prevent the inundation from passing that way. We had no better material than sand to oppose to this water; yet, by throwing up enough, we succeeded in arresting the waters there, although they rose to the height of two feet four inches on the upper side of our dam, and gave, to the country above it, the appearance of a vast lake, covering our old encampment; so that the figures 86 cut on a tree, were the only traces of it that remained above water. Our camp on the sand-hill was elevated above the sea 641 feet, or about 80 feet higher than the river. The waters continued to rise until the 2d of December, when they became stationary; and next day they began slowly to subside. By the evening of the 5th, they had receded from the dam; and the sky, which had been lowering until the 1st, began to present clouds of less ominous form. Still the return of clear weather was slow, and accompanied by thunder-showers. Plants put forth their blossoms as soon as the sun re-appeared; amongst others, the DIDISCUS PILOSUS Benth.; a pretty little umbelliferous plant. BOERHAAVIA was again seen here; CARISSA OVATA, a shrub three feet high, with spiny branches, and very sweet white flowers; the NEPTUNIA GRACILIS also, with the appearance of a sensitive plant, was seen in the open flats. It was only on the 7th that a crust had been formed on the earth, sufficiently firm for the cattle to travel upon; and we embraced the earliest opportunity of quitting that camp, where the superabundance of water had detained us seventeen days. Musquitoes now tormented us exceedingly, and had obliged us to tether the horses at night, to prevent them from straying. We this day passed over the soil without finding the wheels to sink much, until we arrived at Johnston’s station, five miles from our camp, and where I had been told the ground was firm. There, on the contrary, we encountered the only two swamps at all difficult. Even the drays got through them, however, and I gladly quitted the banks of the Mooni, taking a straight direction towards the Barwan, and encamped ten miles from the former. That central ground between the Mooni and the Barwan, had brigalow growing upon it, was firm, and in some hollows we found water. A heavy thunder-shower fell at sunset, but we were on such firm soil, that I was under no apprehension that it would have the effect of retarding our journey.
8TH DECEMBER. — Thermometer, at 6 A.M., 69°. Height above the sea, 782 feet. Having determined our position on the map, I now chose such a direction for our homeward route, as would form the most eligible general line of communication between Sydney and the Maranòa. It seemed desirable that this should cross the Barwan (the Karaula of my journey of 1831), some miles above the point where I had formerly reached that river; and thus avoid the soft low ground upon the Nammoy, falling into my old track about Snodgrass lagoon, or when in sight of Mount Riddell. With this view, our latitude being 28° 57’ 20” S., longitude 149° 11’ E., I chose the bearing of S.S.E. (or rather 23½° E. of S.), for my homeward guidance; and this morning I travelled, over a good firm surface, for sixteen miles in that direction, when we arrived at the bank of the Barwan and there encamped. We had passed through some open scrub, chiefly of the rosewood kind, and crossed several small grassy plains; saw one or two patches of brigalow, but very little callitris. An improvement was visible in the quality of the grass, when we came within the distance of about two miles from the river; and open forests or plains of richer soil, its usual concomitants, plainly enough indicated the presence of the Barwan (or “Darling”). In the country we traversed, we saw no cart tracks; but the deep impressions of a few stray cattle, apparently pursued by natives, were visible throughout the scrubs. There was still a considerable flood in the river, although the water had been recently much higher, as was obvious from the state of the banks. Latitude, 28° 37’ 20” S. Height above the sea, 590 feet.
9TH DECEMBER. — All hands were busy this morning in making preparations for crossing the Barwan. The boats were soon put together, and on reconnoitring the river in one of them, I soon found a favourable place for swimming the cattle and horses at, and which was effected without accident. The unloaded drays were next drawn through the river at the same place; which was about three hundred yards lower down the river than that at which we had encamped, and which was marked by the number 87, cut on a tree. My former camp on this river in 1831, for want of such a mark, could not be recognised. According to my surveys, it should have been found seventeen miles lower down the river. All our stores and equipment were carried across in the boats. These looked well in the water; their trim appearance and utility, then renewed my regret that I had not reached the navigable portion of the Victoria, and that its channel had been so empty. Perhaps more efficient portable boats never were constructed, or carried so far inland undamaged. They were creditable to the maker, Mr. Struth of Sydney. By their means, the whole party was comfortably encamped this afternoon, on the left bank of the Barwan, just before a heavy thunder-shower came down. The river had fallen several feet during the day. Thermometer, at 6 P.M., 82°.
10TH DECEMBER. — At 6 A.M. thermometer 68°. The mosquitoes were most tormenting; as was well expressed by one of the men outside my tent, who remarked to his companion, “That the more you punishes ’em, the more they brings you to the scratch:” a tolerable pun for one of “the fancy,” of which class we had rather too many in the party. The horses, although tethered and close spancelled, could not be secured, even thus. Some had broken away and strayed during the night. It was ascertained by Yuranigh, that four other strange horses were with ours, having come amongst them and led them astray. These had broken loose from a neigh — bouring station, whence a native came to the men I had left to await the horses at the Barwan, and took back the strange horses. I had gone forward with the party, still pursuing the same bearing, and came thus upon the “Maäl,” a channel not usually deep, but, at the time, so full of water, with a very slight current in it, that here again we were obliged to employ the boats. This channel was distant 5½ miles from where we had crossed the Barwan. The bullocks were made to swim across in the yokes, drawing the empty drays through, which they accomplished very well; “RARÎ NANTES IN GURGITE VASTO.” The loads were carried in the boats, and the horses taken across, as before. The camp was established at an early hour on the left bank of the “Maal,” which camp I caused to be marked 88, in figures cut on an iron bark tree. Latitude, 29° 1’ 20” S. This seemed to be the same channel crossed by me on 5th February, 1832, at a similar distance from the main river.
11TH DECEMBER. — Thermometer, at 7 A.M., 70°. We continued to travel homewards on the same bearing; thus tracing with our wheels, a direct line of road from Sydney to the northern interior and coast. The plains were gay with the blue flowers of a new CYCLOGYNE171; a new CANTHIUM, was in fruit172; and we found also a species of Malva, which Sir William Hooker has determined to be MALVA OVATA (Cav.), or scarcely differing from that species, except in the rather soft and short hairs to the calyx (not long and rigid): the two ends of the curved carpels are equal or blunt; but in M. OVATA the upper one is longer and attenuated into a short beak. The same plant was found by Frazer along the Brisbane. The THYSANOTUS ELATIOR was again found here; and a shrubby CRUCIFEROUS plant, quite woody at the base, with very narrow linear setaceous pinnatifid leaves,173 and linear curved torulose silicules. A new HAKEA with stout needle like leaves, was also found this day in the scrub. We met with no impediment for eighteen miles, when I encamped, although without reaching water enough for our cattle. I knew we could not expect to meet with any watercourse between the Barwan and the Gwydir; which latter river I wished to cross as soon as possible, in hopes then to meet with roads and inhabitants. Even cattle-tracks had again become rare in this intermediate ground, although the grass was in its best state, and most exuberant abundance. We crossed much open plain, and passed through several shady forests of casuarina. A curious provision of nature for the distribution of the seeds of a parasitical plant was observed here, each seed being enclosed within a sort of pulp, like bird-lime, insoluble in water; the whole resembling a very thin-skinned berry. On this being broken, probably by birds, the bird-lime is apt to attach the seed to trees or branches, and so the parasitical growth commences. On the plains, the blue flowers of a large variety of MORGANIA GLABRA caught the eye: the rare and little known HETERODENDRON OLOEFOLIUM of Desfontaines, a genus referred to Soapworts by Mr. Planchon. We found also this day, a new POLYMERIA with erect stems, silky leaves, and pink flowers.174 Height above the sea, 554 feet.
171 [C. SWAINSONIOIDES (Benth. MS.); foliolis 8-11 anguste oblongis, racemis laxis dissitifloris, carina spiraliter contorta. — Habit of a SWAINSONIA or LESSERTIA. Flowers blue, as in the original Swan river species (C. CANESCENS). That has not a spirally-twisted keel, but the structure is indicated both by the circinnate apex of the style, and by a slight curl at the summit of the keel.]
172 [C. OLEIFOLIUM (Hook. MS.); foliis obovato-oblongis obtusis glaucis basi in petiolum gracilem attenuatis, stipulis parvis acutis, fructibus didymis.]
173 [H. LONGICUSPIS (Hook. MS.); rigida glaberrima, ramis junioribus subpubescentibus, foliis bi-triuncialibus tereti-filiformibus rigidis strictis longe mucronatis, perianthiis glabris, capsulis suboblique ovatis lignosis glabris brevi-acuminatis.]
174 [P. LONGIFOLIA (Lindl. MS.); erecta, foliis sericeo-nitentibus linearilanceolatis auriculatis, pedunculis unifloris foliis multo brevioribus.]
12TH DECEMBER. — Thermometer, at 6 A.M., 67°. Passing over a similar sort of country for some miles (and through a scrub, on first leaving the camp), we at length came upon a more open country, where the ground seemed to fall southward. Cattle-tracks were again numerous, and cow-dung abundant, an article in much request with us just then, its smoke being a valuable specific for keeping off the mosquitoes, when a little of it was burnt before a tent. We next came upon more spacious plains than any we had seen southward of the Balonne; and I recognised, with great pleasure and satisfaction, the blue peak of Mount Riddell, distant 61 miles. This seemed to peep through the obscurity of fifteen laborious years, that had intervened since I had given a name to that summit. It now proved the accuracy of my recent survey, appearing exactly in the direction, where, according to my maps, I pointed my glass to look for it. Like the face of an old friend, which, as the Persian proverb says, “brighteneth the eyes,” so this required clear eyes to be seen at all; even Yuranigh, could not at first be persuaded that it was not a cloud. This fine peak must always be a good landmark on these vast plains, and may yet brighten the eye of the traveller from India, when emerging from the level regions upon the Barwan. We next perceived at a distance, a cloud of dust raised by a numerous herd of cattle, and came upon a water-course, or branch of the Gwydir, called, I believe, the “Meei.” As I wanted to cross the Gwydir, I crossed this and continued; met with another deep ditch or channel, four miles beyond the Meei; and, at three miles beyond that, another: none of these resembling the Gwydir I had formerly seen. I had ridden twenty-five miles, and hastened back to meet the carts, and encamped them just beyond the first-mentioned of these two water-courses. The heavy drays were, of course, far behind. Latitude, 29° 34’ 41” S. Height above the sea, 553 feet.
13TH DECEMBER. — Thermometer, at 10 A.M., 70°. The drays joined us early, having performed an immense distance yesterday. This being Sunday, rest for the remainder of the day was both proper and necessary. I found we were within a less distance of Snodgrass Lagoon, than we were from the camp we had left the previous day. I expected to fall in with some road, when we reached the country to which I had formerly led the way. At sunset the sky seemed charged with rain, and the barometer had fallen 2½ millimetres; much thunder, and but a slight shower followed, after which the sky cleared up. Heavy rain there, must have caused much difficulty and delay to the party, as we were upon low levels subject to inundation. Height above the sea, 499 feet. Thermometer, at 6 P.M., 88°.
14TH DECEMBER. — Thermometer, at 6 A.M., 76°. During the night, and at day-break, heavy rain pattered on my tent, but a streak of the blue sky appeared in the N.W., which increased; and before 7 A.M. the sun shone on the ground, and dried it so that we could proceed. We crossed a channel of the river, at three miles, which is called the “Moomings;” and still I doubted whether we had not yet to cross the main channel of the Gwydir, having seen no current in any of those channels I had crossed. I had however already crossed the latitude of the river I had formerly seen; and, coming soon to rising ground, and seeing before me the wide-spread plains of my former journey, I was convinced that the late rains had not extended to the Gwydir, and that this river had been crossed by us in these several channels. At length, I arrived at the lagoon I had named, in former times, after Colonel Snodgrass; thus terminating this journey, having travelled in a direct line the last seventy-three miles of it, to meet at this point the line from Sydney, traced by me thus far in the year 1831. Height above the level of the sea, 545 feet. Thermometer, at 7 P.M., 87°. The temporary occupation of the country by squatters, imprints but few traces of colonization. Cattle-tracks were visible, certainly, but nothing else. No track remained along the line which I had so many years before laboured to mark out. Having ordered some of the men to look out for a stockman, one was at length caught, and persuaded to come to my tent, but not without some apprehension that the people he had come amongst so suddenly were robbers. He was a youth, evidently of the Anglo-Saxon race, in a state of transition to the condition of an Australian stockman. His fair locks strayed wildly from under a light straw hat about the ears of an honest English face, and the large stock whip in his hand explained what he was about — “in search of some stray cattle.” He had evidently never heard of exploring expeditions, past or present; nor of such a name as “Snodgrass Lagoon.” Mount Riddell was called “Cow hill,” according to him. Knew there was a road to Maitland, but of Sydney he seemed to require some minutes to recal the recollection. He had come from the station of Mr. — — where he was employed as stockman. Came out from England about six years ago with a brother. When asked if his brother was with him, he said “No.” To my next question, as to the rest of his relatives, a tear was the only reply, and I pushed my inquiries no further.
16TH DECEMBER. — I left the camp, accompanied by Mr. Kennedy, and, in looking for my old route, we soon arrived at cattle stations. The lagoon was full, and the first station we saw was on the opposite bank; but having crossed some miles higher, we arrived at one, where the master and some men were busy in the stockyard, and there we were hospitably received. It was then about 2 P.M., and tea mixed with milk was set before us, with a quart pot full of fine salt, and some hard-boiled eggs. Having put into my tea a table-spoonful of the salt, mistaking it for sugar, and there being no sugar, I had two strong reasons for not taking much tea. Fortunately for me, however, I did eat one of the hard-boiled eggs, for from that hour I was doomed to fast two days. There I bade Mr. Kennedy farewell, leaving him in charge of the party, and proceeded along a cart-track homewards, followed by John Douglas, and a led horse. Before we could arrive at the station where I intended to halt, night overtook us on a plain, with very heavy rain, and total darkness. The cart-track was no longer visible, and, after groping on some way without it, we were obliged to alight and sit in the mud, without the shelter of even a tree, until day-break. Daylight exhibited the station not above two miles off, but that did not avail us much; for, on awaking the inmates, and asking them for some breakfast, the hut-keeper shook his head, and said he had no provisions to spare. Once more I struck away from these “abodes of civilized men,” to look for my old track, which had been traced along the base of the Nundawàr Range, where the bold outlines of Mounts Lindesay and Forbes hung dimly, like shadows of the past, amongst clouds lighted by beams from the rising sun. After having been long in unknown regions, time and distance seem of little consequence when we return to those previously known; and thus the whole day soon passed in looking for my former track. But I sought it in vain; and was glad at night to turn towards the banks of the Nammoy, in search of a cattle-station. Since I had first explored that country to which my wheel-tracks marked and led the way, station after station had been taken up by squatters, not by following any line of route, but rather according to the course of the river, for the sake of water; and in such cases, the beaten track from station to station, no matter how crooked, becomes the road. Thus it is, in the fortuitous occupation of Australia, that order and arrangement may precede, and be followed only by “CHAOS come again.” I arrived about sunset, at Mr. Cyrus Doyle’s station near the Nammoy, where I was hospitably entertained by a man in charge of it, who rode eight miles in twenty minutes only, to borrow some tea and sugar for me, and who lived on very friendly terms with some old natives who remembered me, and my first advance into that country.
18TH DECEMBER. — At 6 A.M., Thermometer 75°. Height above the sea 750 feet. Guided by one of these natives, I reached the “great road,” saw many wool drays upon it, before I arrived at Maule’s creek; and I endeavoured, for a considerable time, to pass two gentlemen in a gig, and wearing veils, who were driving a lot of mares before them, and who seemed to derive amusement from making their mares keep pace with my entire horse.
The road this day traversed the luxuriant flats of the Nammoy, one of the richest districts in the colony, as the fat cattle on the banks of the river sufficiently attested. The mountains behind, afforded equally eligible runs for sheep. Nothing could surpass the beauty of the scenery, amid abundance of water, umbrageous trees, cattle, verdure, and distant mountains. I was most comfortably lodged that night at Mr. Wentworth’s station on the Nammoy, elevated above the sea 1055 feet, and next day I reached the dwelling of a resident squatter, and saw a lady in a comfortable house near the very spot, where, fifteen years before, I had taken a lonely walk by the then unknown Nammoy, the first white man permitted there to discover a “flowery desert.”175 I was most kindly welcomed by this family; but I asked in vain, even there, to be favoured with the perusal of a newspaper. When I expressed anxiety about my numerous family, and spoke of my long absence of a year, I observed a tear in the lady’s eye, which I then thought the product of mere sensibility; but I learnt subsequently, that she was aware the newspapers she possessed, and out of sympathy withheld, would have apprised me of the death of a son, which sad tidings were only communicated to me some days after.176
175 [Three Expeditions, etc., vol. i. p. 54.]
176 [He died on the 16th July, at the age of eighteen, from the want of medical aid, when surveying, in winter, the Australian Alps. His grave, trodden by cattle hoofs, is in a desolate unconsecrated spot. He had served the public, gratis, upwards of two years, as a draughtsman and surveyor.]
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:52