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


Part I.

No. I.

Instructions for conducting and leading first expedition.

By His Excellency, Lachlan Macquarie, Esq., Captain General, and Governor in Chief of the Territory of New South Wales, and its dependencies, etc. etc.



The Right Honourable Earl Bathurst, His Majesty’s principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, having in a recent despatch authorised and directed me to select and employ a properly qualified and competent officer belonging to this government, for conducting and leading an expedition for the purpose of prosecuting the discoveries made some time since to the westward of the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, by Mr. George William Evans, deputy surveyor of lands; and reposing especial trust and confidence in your abilities, zeal and diligence, for conducting and leading such an expedition: I do hereby constitute and appoint you in virtue of the powers in me vested, to be chief of the expedition now fitting out to prosecute the discoveries to the westward of the Blue Mountains in the interior of the continent of Australia. You are accordingly to be obeyed and respected as chief of this expedition, and to be governed generally during the continuance of it, by the following instructions.

First. — With the view of facilitating the objects of the present expedition, and in justice to his former zealous and successful exertions in making the original discoveries in the interior, to the westward of the Blue Mountains; the Right Honourable the Secretary of State has directed, that in the farther prosecution of these discoveries, Mr. George William Evans, deputy surveyor of lands, should be associated with the person appointed to head and direct the expedition; and to be considered the second in command of it. You are therefore to consider Mr. Evans as next in command to yourself during the progress of the expedition, and to consult with him on all operations and points connected therewith; it being presumed from his local experience in the interior, he will be able to afford you very useful information and assistance.

Second. — Exclusive of yourself and Mr. Evans, I have deemed it advisable to permit Mr. Allan Cunningham, one of the King’s botanists, (lately sent out to this country, for the purpose of collecting plants and seeds for His Majesty’s gardens at Kew), to accompany the expedition. I have also ordered ten other persons to accompany you on the expedition in the various capacities of assistants, or servants; and herewith you will receive a schedule of their names, and respective designations, or employments.

Third. — In order to give every facility to the objects of the expedition now fitting out, and to afford you the means of prolonging your absence from headquarters, and consequently extending the range of your discoveries, I have deemed it advisable to furnish yourself and party with a sufficient supply of good wholesome provisions for five months; in which space of time, it is concluded, you will be able to ascertain all the important objects of the expedition. And in order that this five months supply of provisions may remain untouched, until you shall have taken your final departure from the last discovered point on the Lachlan River, I have had a depot lately established there for the purpose of lodging the five months provisions, till your arrival at that point; the necessary number of BAT horses having been provided for conveying the provisions thither; and it has been lately reported to me, that almost the whole of the five months provisions have already been conveyed to the depot on the Lachlan River, and that the remaining part thereof will he deposited there in the course of seven days from this date. You will herewith receive a schedule, or account of the provisions, together with a list of the BAT horses, and other various equipments furnished and sent to the depot on the banks of the Lachlan River, for the use of the expedition. I hope it is unnecessary for me to point out or recommend to a person of your experience, the absolute necessity of observing every possible economy in the expenditure of your provisions, and preventing every possible waste thereof, so as to make them hold out for the full space of time they are intended to last. There is an ample and liberal daily ration of provisions allowed and sent for each person sufficient for five months; and you must make it your particular business to see that there shall be no waste or loss in the issuing, or carriage of your stock of provisions.

Fourth. — Having been informed, first from the reports of Mr. Evans, the original discoverer of the Lachlan River, and subsequently from those of William Cox, Esq., who went thither lately at my particular request, that there was every reason from its appearance to conclude that that river would be found to be navigable for small boats; I some time since sent a boat builder for the purpose of constructing two light boats for navigating this river, and conveying the provisions and stores for the expedition along it, to its junction with the sea, in case it should be found to fall into it, which there is every reason to hope it does. In the event of this hope being realized, it will greatly facilitate the objects of the expedition to be able thus to transport all your provisions, and other equipments, by water, instead of the tedious process of carrying them by land on the backs of horses, through a woody and intricate country.

Fifth. — The three grand and principal objects of the present expedition are:— First, to ascertain the real course or general direction of the Lachlan River, and its final termination, and whether it falls into the sea, or into some inland lake. Secondly, if the river falls into the sea, to ascertain the exact place of its embouchure, and whether such place would answer as a safe and good port for shipping: and thirdly, the general face of the country, nature of the soil, woods, and animal and natural productions of the country through which this river passes; carefully examining and noting down each of these particulars, and adding thereto the nature of the climate, and description of such natives or aborigines of the country as you may happen to see, or fall in with in your progress through it.

For your farther information and guidance, you will receive herewith a paper marked A, which is a copy of one lately received by me from Earl Bathurst, His Majesty’s principal Secretary of State for the colonies, and which I am directed by his lordship to make the groundwork of my instructions to the officer whom I might think proper to select for, and entrust with the due execution of the services therein required. And I therefore refer you for all farther instructions to the paper thus alluded to; persuaded you will do every thing in your power to comply with and execute, as far as your means will allow, the several orders and directions therein contained; communicating these instructions to the several persons employed with you on the expedition, in as far as they are severally concerned in making the observations and collections pointed out in the said instructions from the Secretary of State.

Sixth. — It will of course be necessary in order to ascertain the exact distance and direction of your journies, whilst prosecuting your discoveries, that the country through which you travel shall be regularly chained and laid down upon a chart; but I leave it optional with yourself to do this either during your outward or homeward bound journey; and as it is expected that the Lachlan River will be found to empty itself into that part of the sea on the south-west coast of Australia, between Spencer’s Gulf and Cape Otway, it is hoped you will he able to make all the necessary discoveries, and return again to Bathurst considerably within five months; as the greatest distance from thence to that part of the coast, where the river is supposed to fall into it, cannot exceed six hundred miles. It is also hoped and expected, that the Lachlan and Macquarie Rivers unite at some distant point from where Mr. Evans terminated his trace of the Lachlan River; and in case these two rivers are found to form a junction, the exact place of their confluence must be clearly and exactly ascertained in regard to latitude and longitude, and noted down accordingly. The latitude and longitude of the junction of both or either of these rivers with the sea, or inland lake, must also be accurately ascertained and marked down in the chart to be made of your entire tour and discoveries.

Seventh. — On your return from your journey to the sea-coast to Bathurst, you are to direct all the journals or other written documents belonging to, and curiosities collected by the several individuals composing the expedition, to be carefully sealed up with your own seal, and kept in that state until after you have made your report in writing to me at Sydney, of the result of the expedition.

Eighth. — I have only to add, that I wish you to set out from Sydney on the present service, on Monday, the 31st of this present month, so as to arrive at Bathurst, on or before the 8th of the ensuing month.

On your arrival at Bathurst, you will find William Cox, Esq., there, and to him I beg leave to refer you for every information relative to the provisions, stores, horses for carriage, and other equipments ordered to be forwarded to the depot on the Lachlan River, for the use of the expedition; the arrangement and conveyance of all which has been wholly entrusted to him. Mr. Cox having promised to accompany you as far as the depot on the Lachlan River, he will be able to remove any unforeseen difficulties that may arise on your arrival there, in getting the provisions and stores for the use of the expedition forwarded.

Wishing every success may attend the expedition under your command, and a safe return to all the individuals composing it;

I remain, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
(Signed,) L. MACQUARIE,
Governor in chief of New South Wales.
Government House, Sydney,
March 24, 1817.

— A. —

Copy of Instructions from the Right Honourable the Secretary of State.

Downing Street, April 18, 1816.

It is most desirable that any person travelling into the interior should keep a detailed Journal of his proceedings. In this Journal all observations and occurrences of every kind, with all their circumstances, however minute, and however familiar they may have been rendered by custom, should be carefully noted down; and it is also desirable that he should be as circumstantial as possible in describing the general appearance of the country, its surface, soil, animals, vegetables and minerals, every thing that relates to the population, the peculiar manners, customs, language, etc., of the individual natives, or the tribes of them that he may meet with.

The following however will be among the most important subjects, on which it will be more immediately the province of a traveller to endeavour to obtain information.

The general nature of the climate, as to the heat, cold, moisture, winds, rains, etc.; the temperature regularly registered from Fahrenheit’s thermometer, as observed at two or three periods of the day.

The direction of the mountains; their general appearance as to shape, whether detached, or continuous in ranges.

The rivers, and their several branches, their direction, velocity, breadth and depth.

The animals, whether birds, beasts, or fishes, reptiles, insects, etc., distinguishing those animals, if any, which appear to have been domesticated by the natives.

The vegetables, and particularly those that are applicable to any useful purpose, whether in medicine, dyeing, etc.; any scented woods, or such as may be adapted for cabinet work, or furniture, and more particularly such woods as may appear to be useful in ship-building; of all which it would be desirable to procure small specimens, labelled and numbered, so that an easy reference may be made to them in the Journal, to ascertain the quantities in which they are found, and the situations in which they grow.

Minerals, any of the precious metals, or stones, if used or valued by the natives.

With respect to the animals, vegetables, and minerals, it is desirable that specimens of the most remarkable should be preserved as far as the means of the traveller will admit, and especially the seeds of any plants not hitherto known: when the preservation of specimens is impossible, drawings or detailed accounts of them are most desirable.

The description, and characteristic difference, of the several people whom he way meet; the extent of the population, their occupation, and means of subsistence; whether chiefly, or to what extent, by fishing, hunting, or agriculture, and the principal objects of their several pursuits.

A circumstantial account of such articles, if any, as might be advantageously imported into Great Britain.

A vocabulary of the language spoken by the natives whom he may meet, using in the compilation of each the same English words.

If the people are sufficiently numerous to form tribes, it is important to ascertain their condition, and rules of the society; their genius and disposition; the nature of their amusements; their diseases and remedies, etc.; their objects of worship, religious ceremonies; and the influence of those ceremonies on their moral character and conduct.

(True copy.)

No. Ia.

List of the Names and Designations of the Several Persons Proceeding on the Expedition of DISCOVERY, UNDER THE COMMAND Of John Oxley, Esq., Surveyor General of Lands.

1 John Oxley, Esq., chief of the expedition.
2 Mr. George William Evans, second in command.
3 Mr. Allan Cunningham, King’s botanist.
4 Charles Fraser, colonial botanist.
5 William Parr, mineralogist.
6 George Hubbard, boat-builder.
7 James King, 1st boatman, and sailor.
8 James King, 2nd horse-shoer.
9 William Meggs, butcher.
10 Patrick Byrne, guide and horse leader.
11 William Blake, harness-mender.
12 George Simpson, for chaining with surveyors.
13 William Warner, servant to Mr. Oxley.

(Signed,) L. MACQUARIE.
March 2,1, 1817.

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