Whilst I was endeavouring to penetrate into the heart of the Australian Continent, there were two other Expeditions of Discovery engaged in exploring the country to the eastward of me. Dr. Leichhardt, an account of whose successful and enterprising journey from Moreton Bay to Port Essington is already before the public, was keeping the high lands at no great distance from the coast, and Sir Thomas Mitchell, the Surveyor-General of New South Wales, was traversing the more depressed interior, between my own and Dr. Leichhardt’s tracks. The distance at which Dr. Leichhardt passed the extreme westerly point gained by me was 600 geographical miles, and his distance from my extreme easterly one was 420 miles; Sir Thomas Mitchell’s distance from my extreme west, being about 380 miles, and that from my last position, (on Cooper’s Creek), about 260. He had been traversing a country of great richness and fertility, a country, indeed, such as he had never before seen, and in a despatch addressed to the Governor of New South Wales, thus describes it and the river he discovered on the occasion:—
“On ascending the range early next morning, I saw open downs and plains with a line of river in the midst, the whole extending to the N.N.W., as far as the horizon. Following down the little stream from the valley in which I had passed the night, I soon reached the open country, and during ten successive days I pursued the course of that river, through the same sort of country, each day as far as my horse could carry me, and in the same direction again approaching the Tropic of Capricorn. In some parts the river formed splendid reaches, as broad and important as the river Murray; in others it spread into four or five branches, some of them several miles apart. But the whole country is better watered than any part of Australia I have seen, by numerous tributaries arising in the downs.
“The soil consists of rich clay, and the hollows give birth to numerous water-courses, in most of which water was abundant. I found at length that I might travel in any direction, and find water at hand, without having to seek the river, except when I wished to ascertain its general course, and observe its character. The grass consists of Panicum and several new sorts, one of which springs green from the old stem. The plains were verdant indeed, the luxuriant pasturage surpassed in quality, as it did in extent, any thing I had ever seen. The Myall-tree and salt bush, (Acacia pendula and salsolae), so essential to a good run, are also there. New birds and new plants marked this out as an essentially different region from any I had previously explored; and although I could not follow the river throughout its long course at that advanced season, I was convinced that its estuary was in the Gulf of Carpentaria; at all events the country is open and well watered for a direct route thereto. That the river is the most important of Australia, increasing as it does by successive tributaries, and not a mere product of distant ranges, admits of no dispute; and the downs and plains of Central Australia, through which it flows, seem sufficient to supply the whole world with animal food. The natives are few and inoffensive. I happened to surprise one tribe at a lagoon, who did not seem to be averse that such strangers were in that country; our number being small, they seemed inclined to follow us. I crossed the river at the lowest point I reached, in a great southerly bend in long. 144 degrees 34 minutes east, lat. 24 degrees 14 minutes south, and from rising ground beyond the left bank, I could trace its downward course far to the northward. I saw no Callitris (Pine of the colonists) in all that country, but a range, shewing sandstone cliffs appeared to the southward, in long. 145 degrees and lat. 24 degrees 30 minutes south. The country to the northward of the river, is, upon the whole, the best, yet, in riding ninety miles due east from where I crossed the southern bend, I found plenty of water, and excellent grass, a red gravel there approaches the river, throwing it off to the northward. Ranges extending N. N. W. were occasionally visible from the country to the northward.”
Sir Thomas Mitchell’s position at his extreme west was more than 460 miles from the nearest part of the Gulf of Carpentaria; he was in a low country, and on the banks of a river which had ceased to flow. Whatever the local appearances might have been, which led the Surveyor-General to conclude that it would reach the northern coast, I do not know, but notwithstanding the favourable report he made of it, I never for a moment anticipated that this river would do so; I felt assured, indeed, that however promising it might be, it would either enter the Stony Desert or be found to turn southward, and be lost amongst marshes and lagoons. The appearance of Cooper’s Creek might have justified my most sanguine expectations, but I was too well aware of the character of Australian rivers, and had seen too much of the country into which they fall, to trust them beyond the range of sight. My natural course on the discovery of Cooper’s Creek would have been to have traced it downwards, but I was not unmindful that I should keep it between myself and the track on which Mr. Browne and I had last returned from the north-west interior, in pursuing the northerly course I intended, and I consequently felt satisfied, after a little consideration, that if it continued northerly, I should strike it again; if not, that it would either spread over the Stony Desert, or fall short of it altogether.
On making this discovery, therefore, my hopes were centered in its upward, not its downward course, for judging that in crossing the Stony Desert, I had crossed the lowest part of the interior, my anticipations of finding any important river in the central regions of Australia were destroyed. My endeavour had been, not only to examine the country through which I was immediately passing, but to deduce from it, what might be its more extended features, and to put together such facts as I reasonably could, to elucidate the past and present state of the continent. In the course of my investigations, I saw grounds for believing that the fall of the interior was from north to south and from east to west. However much the more northerly streams might hold to the northward and westward, whilst in the hilly country, I felt assured, that as soon as they gained the depressed interior, they would double round to the southward, and thus disappoint the explorer. Sir Thomas Mitchell himself tells us, that every river he traced on his recent journey, excepting the Victoria, disappointed him, by turning to that point and entering a sandy country. It is evident, indeed, upon the face of Sir Thomas Mitchell’s journal, that there are no mountains in that part of the interior, in which the basins of the Victoria must lie, or from which a river could emanate, of such a character, as to lead even the most sanguine to expect, that after having ceased to flow, it would continue onwards for another 460 miles through such a country. From the favour able nature of the Surveyor-General’s report, however, it was deemed a point of great importance to ascertain the further course of the river, and Mr. Kennedy, a young and intelligent officer, who had accompanied Sir Thomas Mitchell into the interior, was ordered on this interesting service. Before I make any observations, however, on the result of his investigations, I shall give the following extract from his letter to the Colonial Secretary, on his return from the interior.
“Having reached the lowest point of the Victoria attained by the Surveyor-General, I was directed to pursue the river, and determine the course thereof as accurately as my light equipment, and consequent rapid progress, might permit. Accordingly, on the 13th of August we moved down the river, and at 4 1/2 miles crossed over to its proper right bank; the Victoria is there bounded on the south by a low sand-stone ridge, covered with brigalow; and on the north by fine grassy plains, with here and there clumps of the silver leaf brigalow; at seven miles we passed a fine deep reach, below which the river is divided into three channels, and inclines more to the southward; at thirteen miles we encamped upon the centre channel; the three were about half a mile apart, the southern one under the ridge being the deepest; we found water in each, but I believe it to be only permanent in the southernmost, which contains a fine reach, one mile below our encampment, in latitude 24 degrees 17 minutes 34 seconds; an intelligent native, whom we met there with his family on our return, gave me the name of the river, which they call Barcoo. I also obtained from him several useful words, which he seemed to take a pleasure in giving, and which I entered in my journal.
“Between the parallels of 24 minutes 17 seconds and 24 minutes 53 seconds, the river preserves generally a very direct course to the south-south-west, and maintains an unvaried character, although the supply of water greatly decreases below the latitude of 24 degrees 25 minutes. It is divided into three principal channels, and several minor watercourses, which traverse a flat country, lightly timbered by a species of flooded box; this flat is confined on either side by low sand-stone ridges, thickly covered with an acacia scrub. In latitude 24 degrees 50 minutes we had some difficulty in finding a sufficiency for our own consumption, but after searching the numerous channels, the deep (though dry) lagoons and lakes formed there by the river, we at length encamped at a small water-hole in latitude 24 degrees 52 minutes 55 seconds and longitude 144 degrees 11 minutes 26 seconds.
“Being aware that the principal view of the Government in sending me to trace the Victoria, was the discovery of a practical route to the Gulf of Carpentaria, I then began to fear that I should be unable, with my small stock of provisions, to accomplish the two objects of my Expedition. My instructions confined me to the river, which had now preserved almost without deviation a south-south-west course for nearly a hundred miles; the only method which occurred to me, by the adoption of which I might still hope to perform all that was desired, was to trace the river with two men as far as latitude 26 degrees, which the maintenance of its general course would have enabled me to do in two days, and then to hasten back to my party, to conduct them to the extreme northern point attained by the Victoria, and endeavour to prolong the direct route carried that far, from Sydney towards the Gulf of Carpentaria, by Sir Thomas Mitchell.
“With this intention I left the camp on the 20th of August, and at twelve miles found several channels united, forming a fine reach, below which the river takes a turn to the west-south-west, receiving the waters of rather a large creek from the eastward, in latitude 25 degrees 3 minutes 0 seconds. In latitude 25 degrees 7 minutes, the river having again inclined to the southward, impinges upon the point of a low range on its left, by the influence of which it is turned in one well watered channel to the west and west by north, for nearly thirty miles; in that course the reaches are nearly connected, varying in breadth from 80 to 120 yards; firm plains of a poor white soil extend on either side of the river; they were rather bare of pasture, but they are evidently in some seasons less deficient of grass. In latitude 25 degrees 9 minutes 30 seconds, and longitude about 143 degrees 16 minutes, a considerable river joins the Victoria from the north-east, which I would submit may be named the “Thomson,” in honour of E. Deas Thomson, Esquire, the Honourable the Colonial Secretary. It was on one of the five reaches in the westerly course of the Victoria that I passed the second night; the river there measured 120 yards across, and seemed to have a great depth; the rocks and small islets which here and there occurred in its channel giving it the semblance of a lasting and most important river; this unexpected change, however, both in its appearance and course, caused me to return immediately to my camp for the purpose of conducting my party down such a river whithersoever it should flow.
“On the 25th August, we resumed our journey down that portion of the Victoria above described, and made the river mentioned from north-east three miles above its junction; following it down we found an unbroken sheet of water in its channel, averaging fifty yards in breadth; we forded it at the junction, and continued to move down the Victoria, keeping all the channels, into which it had again divided, on my left. At about one mile the river there turns to the south-south-west and south, spreading over a depressed and barren waste, void of trees or vegetation of any kind, its level surface being only broken by small doones of red sand, resembling islands upon the dry bed of an inland sea, which, I am convinced, at no distant period did exist there.
“On the 1st September, we encamped upon a long, though narrow, reach in the most western channel, at which point a low sandstone ridge, strewed with boulders, and covered with an acacia scrub, closes upon the river. This position is important, as a small supply of grass will, I think, in most seasons, be found on the bank of the river, when not a blade, perhaps, may be seen within many miles above or below: my camp, which I marked K/IV was in latitude 25 degrees 24 minutes 22 seconds, longitude 142 degrees 51 minutes. Beyond camp IV the ridge recedes, and the soil becomes more broken and crumbling; our horses struggled with difficulty over this ground to my camp, at a small water-hole, in latitude 25 degrees 43 minutes 44 seconds, where I found it necessary to lighten some of their loads by having buried 400 lbs. flour, and 70 lbs. sugar, still retaining a sufficient supply to carry us to Captain Sturt’s farthest, on Cooper’s Creek, to the eastward, (to which point I was convinced this river would lead me) and from thence back to the settled districts of New South Wales; which was all I could then hope to accomplish. At about sixteen miles further, the ground becoming worse, so that our horses were continually falling into the fissures up to their hocks, I was compelled to leave 270 lbs. more of flour and sugar at my camp of the 4th September, in latitude 25 degrees 51 minutes, at another small water-hole, found in the bed of a very dry and insignificant channel; here a barren sandstone range again impedes the river in its southerly course, and throws it off to the westward, thus causing many of its channels to unite and form a reach of water in latitude 25 degrees 54 minutes; this, the lowest reach we attained, I did not discover until my return, having found a sufficient supply in a channel more to the westward. In latitude 25 degrees 55 minutes, and longitude, by account, 142 degrees 23 minutes, the river, having rounded the point of the range which obstructs it, resumes its southerly course, spreading in countless channels over a surface bearing flood marks six and ten feet above its present level; this vast expanse is only bounded to the eastward by the barren range alluded to, which, ending abruptly, runs parallel with the river at a distance varying from four to seven miles. On the 7th September, I encamped upon a small water-hole in 26 degrees 0 minutes 13 seconds, in the midst of a desert not producing a morsel of vegetation; yet so long as we could find water, transient as it was, I continued to push on with the hope of reaching, sooner or later, some grassy spot, whereon by a halt I might refresh the horses; however, that hope was destroyed at the close of the next day, for although I had commenced an early search for water when travelling to the southward, with numerous channels on either side of me, I was compelled at length to encamp in latitude 26 degrees 13 minutes 9 seconds, and longitude, by account, 142 degrees 20 minutes, on the bank of a deep channel, without either water or food for our wearied horses. The following morning, taking one man and Harry with me, we made a close search down the most promising watercourses and lagoons, but upon riding down even the deepest of them, we invariably found them break off into several insignificant channels, which again subdivided, and in a short distance dissipated the waters, derived from what had appeared the dry bed of a large river, on the absorbing plain; returning in disappointment to the camp, I sent my lightest man and Harry on other horses to look into the channels still unexamined, but they also returned unsuccessful. We had seen late fires of the natives at which they had passed the night without water, and tracked them on their path from lagoon to lagoon in search of it; we also found that they had encamped on some of the deepest channels in succession, quitting each as it had become dry, having previously made holes to drain off the last moisture. My horses were by this time literally starving, and all we could give them was the rotten straw and weeds which had covered some deserted huts of the natives. Seeing, then, that it would be the certain loss of many, and consequently an unjustifiable risk of my party to attempt to push farther into a country where the aborigines themselves were at a loss to find water, I felt it my imperative duty to at once abandon it. I would here beg to remark, that although unsuccessful in my attempt to follow it that far, from the appearance of the country, and long-continued direction of the river’s course, I think there can exist but little doubt that the “Victoria” is identical with Cooper’s Creek, of Captain Sturt; that creek was abandoned by its discoverer in latitude 27 degrees 46 minutes, longitude 141 degrees 52 minutes, coming from the north-east, and as the natives informed him, “in many small channels forming a large one;” the lowest camp of mine on the Victoria was in latitude 26 degrees 13 minutes 9 seconds, longitude 142 degrees 20 minutes; the river in several channels trending due south, and the lowest point of the range which bounds that flat country to the eastward, bearing south 25 degrees east; Captain Sturt also states that the ground near the creek was so blistered and light that it was unfit to ride on; but that before he turned, he had satisfied himself that there was no apparent sign of water to the eastward.
“Having marked a tree EK/1847, we commenced our return journey along the track at two p.m. of the 9th of September; at eight miles I allowed one of the horses to be shot; for being an old invalid, and unable to travel further, he must have starved if left alive. At thirteen miles we reached the water. Some while after dark the following day we made our next camp; but it was with much difficulty that my private horse and two or three others were brought to water, one being almost carried by three men the latter part of the day. Upon discovering the reach, in latitude 25 degrees 54 minutes, near the range, and finding a little grass in the channel about the water, I gave the horses two days’ rest. My camp on the reach is marked K/III.; it is in latitude 25 degrees 55 minutes 37 seconds, longitude, by account, 142 degrees 24 minutes; the variation of the compass 8 degrees east; water boiled at 214 degrees, the temperature of the air being 64 degrees. On the 14th September we proceeded on our journey, and reached the firm plains beyond the desert. On the 22nd, having halted a day, we again moved on, and arrived within five miles of the carts; on the 7th October, leaving my party on the south channel, I rode to the spot, and found them still safe, although a native had been examining the ground that very morning. Lest he should have gone to collect others to assist him in his researches, I brought my party forward the same evening, had the carts dug out during the night, and at sunrise proceeded to our position of the 4th August on the south channel.”
From the above account, which is equally clear and distinct, it would appear, that, just below where the river Alice joins the Victoria, the latter river had already commenced its south-west course, and that the last thirty miles down which the Surveyor-General traced this river was a part of the general south-west course, which it afterwards maintained to the termination of Mr. Kennedy’s route, and consequently the latter traveller never had an opportunity of approaching so near the Gulf of Carpentaria as the Surveyor-General had done. Here its channel separates into three principal branches, at half-a-mile apart, and, notwithstanding the promise it had given down to the point, at which he had now arrived, (latitude 24 degrees 52 minutes, and longitude 144 degrees 11 minutes,) having then travelled nearly 100 miles along its banks, Mr. Kennedy had great difficulty in finding water. In consequence indeed, of the unfavourable changes that had taken place in the river, he determined on leaving the party stationary, and proceeding down it with two men to the 26th parallel, whence, if he found that it still held to the south, he proposed returning with the intention of trying to find a practicable route to the Gulf of Carpentaria, in compliance with his instructions, and under an impression, I presume, that the fate of the Victoria would then have been fully determined.
In latitude 25 degrees 3 minutes, the river having changed its course to the W. S. W. was joined by a large creek from the “EASTWARD.” In latitude 25 degrees 7 minutes it was turned by some low sandstone ranges on its left, and trended for thirty miles to the west, and even to the northward of that point, having almost connected ponds of water for that distance, varying in breadth, from 80 to 120 yards, and being bounded on either side by firm plains of white soil. About 25 degrees 9 minutes and 143 degrees 16 minutes the river was joined by a large tributary stream from the NORTH-EAST, to which Mr. Kennedy gave the name of the “Thomson,” and encouraged by the favourable changes which had now taken place, he returned for his party with the determination of following so fine a river to the last.
We shall now see how far his anticipations were confirmed, and how far his further investigation of the Victoria river, and his account of the country through which it flows, accords with the description I have given of the dreary region into which I penetrated.
On the 26th of September, Mr. Kennedy having brought down his party, resumed his journey, and crossing the Victoria, struck the N. E. tributary about three miles above its junction with the main stream, and fording at that point, kept on the proper right bank of the Victoria.
“At about a mile,” says Mr. Kennedy, “it (the Victoria) there turns to the S.S.W. and south, spreading over a depressed and barren waste, void of trees or vegetation of any kind, its level surface being only broken by small doones of red sand, like islands upon the dry bed of an inland sea, which I am convinced at no distant period did exist there.”
There cannot, I think, be any reasonable doubt, but that Mr. Kennedy had here reached the edge of the great central desert.
Both the river he was tracing, and the country were precisely similar in character to Cooper’s Creek, and the country I had so long been wandering over. The former at one point having a fine deep channel, at another split into numberless small branches, and then spreading over some extensive level without the vestige of a water-course upon it. The country monotonous and sterile, its level only broken by low sandstone hills, or doones of sand, the whole bearing in its general appearance the stamp of a submarine origin.
Mr. Kennedy’s last camp on the Victoria was in lat. 26 degrees 13 minutes 9 seconds S. and in long. 142 degrees 20 minutes E.; the most eastern point of Cooper’s Creek gained by me was in lat. 27 degrees 46 minutes S. and long. 141 degrees 51 minutes E. This longitude, however, was by account, and I may have thrown it some few miles to the eastward; in like manner Mr. Kennedy’s longitude being also by account, I believe he may have placed his camp a little to the west of its true position; but, as the two points are now laid down, there is a distance of 98 geographical miles between them, on a bearing of 13 degrees to the east of north. Admitting the identity of the Victoria with Cooper’s Creek, of which I do not think there is the slightest doubt, the course of the former in order to join the latter would be south, 13 degrees W. the very course Mr. Kennedy states it had apparently taken up when he left it. “The lowest camp on the Victoria,” he says, “was in lat. 26 degrees 13 minutes 9 seconds, and in long. 142 degrees 20 minutes, the river in several channels trending due south.” If such is the case I must have misunderstood the signs of the natives, and been mistaken in my supposition that the vast basin into which I traced it, was the basin of Cooper’s Creek, but I had so frequently remarked the rapid and almost instantaneous formation of such features in similar localities, that, I confess, I did not doubt the meaning the natives intended to convey.
There are several facts illustrative of the structure and LAY, if I may use the expression, of the interior unfolded to us, in consequence of the farther knowledge Mr. Kennedy’s exploration has given of that part through which the Victoria flows, which strike myself, who have so deep an interest in the subject, when they might, perhaps, escape the general reader; I have therefore thought it right to advert to them for a moment. He will not, however, have failed to observe, in the perusal of Mr. Kennedy’s Report, that excepting where small sandstone ranges turned it to the westward, the tendency of the Victoria was to the SOUTH. The same fact struck me in reference to the Murray river, as I proceeded down it in 1830. I could not fail to observe its efforts to run away in a southerly direction when not impeded by cliffs or sand-hills. This would seem to indicate, that the dip of the continent is more directly to the south than to the west. There is a line of rocky hills, that turn Cooper’s Creek to the latter point immediately to the south-west of the grassy plains on which I supposed it took its rise. From that point its general direction is to the westward for about eighty miles, when it splits into two branches, the one flowing to the north-west, and terminating in the extensive grassy plains described at page 39, Vol. II. of the present work, the other passing to the westward and laying all the country under water during the rainy season, which Mr. Brown and I traversed on our journey to the north-west; the several creeks we discovered on that occasion, being nothing more than ramifications of Cooper’s Creek, which thus, like all the other interior rivers of Australia, expends itself by overflowing extensive levels; but instead of forming marshes like the Lachlan, the Macquarie, and the Murrumbidgee, terminates in large grassy plains, which are as wheat-fields to the natives, since the grass-seed they collect from them appears to constitute their principal food.
I have observed in the beginning of this work, that the impression on my mind, before I commenced my recent expedition, was, that a great current had passed southwards through the Gulf of Carpentaria which had been split in two by some intervening obstacle, that one branch of this current had taken the line of the Darling, the other having passed to the westward. Now, it would appear, that the sources of the Victoria are in long. 146 degrees 46 minutes, and we are aware, that the course of that river is to the W.S.W. as far as the 139th meridian; unless, therefore, there is a low and depressed country between the sources of the Victoria, and the coast ranges traversed by Dr. Leichhardt, through which the southerly current could have passed, my hypothesis, as regards it, is evidently wrong; and such, on an inspection of Sir Thomas Mitchell’s map, appears to be the case, as he has marked a line of hills, connecting the basins of the Victoria with the higher ranges traversed by Doctor Leichhardt, nearer the coast. My object being to elicit truth, I have deemed it necessary to call the attention of the reader to this point, because it would appear to argue against the general conclusions I have drawn, since, if there is no apparent outlet, there could not have been any southerly current as I have supposed; whereas, if the features of the country could have justified such a conclusion, the general ones I have formed would have been very considerably strengthened.
Mr. Kennedy’s survey of the Victoria establishes the fact, that there is not a single stream or water-course falling into the main drainage of the continent, from the northward or westward, between the 24th and 34th parallels of latitude, a distance of more than 700 geographical miles — a fact which strongly proves the depressed nature of the north-west interior, and would appear to confirm the opinion already expressed, that the Stony Desert is the great channel into which such rivers as have a sufficiently prolonged course, are ultimately led, and towards which the northerly, and a great portion of the easterly drainage tends. How that singular feature may terminate, whether in an in land sea, or as an arid wilderness, stretching to the Great Australian Bight, it is impossible to say. From the general tendency of the rivers to fall to the south, it may be that the Stony Desert, as Mr. Arrowsmith supposes, has some connexion with Lake Torrens, but I think, for reasons already stated, that it passes far to the westward.
It may not be generally known, that Dr. Leichhardt is at this moment endeavouring to accomplish an undertaking, in which, if he should prove successful, he will stand the first of Australian explorers. It is to traverse the continent from east to west, nor will he be able to do this under a distance of more than 5000 miles in a direct line. He had already started on this gigantic journey, but was obliged to return, as his party contracted the ague, and he lost all his animals; but undaunted by these reverses, he left Moreton Bay in December last, and has not since been heard of. One really cannot but admire such a spirit of enterprise and self-devotion, or be too earnest in our wishes for his prosperity. Dr. Leichhardt intends keeping on the outskirts of the Desert all the way round to Swan River, and the difficulties he may have to encounter as well as the distance he may have to travel, will greatly depend on its extent. We can hardly hope for intelligence of this dauntless explorer for two years; but if such a period should elapse without any intelligence of him, I trust there will not those be wanting to volunteer their services in the hope of rendering him assistance. Our best feelings have been raised to save the Wanderer at the Pole — should they not also be raised to carry relief to the Wanderer of the Desert? The present exploration of Dr. Leichhardt, if successful, will put an end to every theory, and complete the discovery of the internal features of the Australian continent, and when we look at the great blank in the map of that vast territory, we cannot but admit the service that intrepid traveller is doing to the cause of Geography and Natural History, by the undertaking in which he is at present engaged. It is doubtful to me, however, whether his investigations and labours will greatly extend the pastoral interests of the Australian colonies, for I am disposed to think that the climate of the region through which he will pass, is too warm for the successful growth of wool. As I stated in the body of my work, the fleece on the sheep we took into the interior, ceased to grow at the Depot in lat. 29 degrees 40 minutes, as did our own hair and nails; but local circumstances may account for this effect upon the animal system, although it seems to me that the great dryness of the Australian atmosphere, where the heat is also excessive, as it must be in the interior and juxta-tropical parts of it, would prevent the growth of wool, by drying up the natural moisture of the skin. Nevertheless, if Dr. Leichhardt should discover mountains of any height or extent, their elevated plateaux, like that of the Darling Downs, which is one of the finest pastoral districts of New South Wales, and is in lat. 27 1/2 degrees, would not be liable to the same objections; for I believe no better wool is produced than in that district, and that only there, and in Port Phillip, has the sheep farmer been able to clear his expenses this year. Were it not, therefore, for the almost boundless and still unoccupied tracts of land within the territory of New South Wales, we might look with greater anxiety, as regards the pastoral interests of Australia, to the result of Dr. Leichhardt’s labours. At present, however, there seems to be no limit to the extent either of grazing or of agricultural land in New South Wales. The only thing to be regretted is, that the want of an industrious population, keeps it in a state of nature, and that the thousands who are here obtaining but a precarious subsistence, should not evince a more earnest desire to go to a country where most assuredly their condition would be changed for the better.
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