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´╗┐Title: Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery in North-West and Western Australia, Volume 1
Author: Grey, George, 1812-1898
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery in North-West and Western Australia, Volume 1" ***

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DURING THE YEARS 1837, 1838, AND 1839,

Under the Authority of Her Majesty's Government.







Late Captain of the Eighty-third Regiment.
















































Volume 1 Table: for Castles, read Chateaux.




1. Map of the District of the River Glenelg, on the North-Western Coast
of Australia, from the surveys of George Grey, Esquire, by John

2. Sandstone Cave with Paintings near Glenelg River.
Drawn on stone by George Barnard from a sketch by Captain George Grey.
M. and N. Hanhart, Lithographic Printers, 64 Charlotte Street, Rathbone

3. Diphya, Sp.

4. Diphya, Sp. (Acalepha.)

5. Salpa, Sp.

6. Hyalea, Sp.

7. Physsophora rosacea.

8. Erichthus vitreus.

9. Janthina exigua.

10. Glaucus, Sp.

11. Phyllosoma, Sp.

12. Attack of Natives near Hanover Bay.
Drawn on stone by George Barnard from a sketch by Captain George Grey.
M. and N. Hanhart, Lithographic Printers, 64 Charlotte Street, Rathbone

13. Three rows of notches made by people on the Gouty-Stem Tree.

14. Gigantic Ants' Nest and Gouty-Stem Tree.
Drawn on stone by George Barnard from a sketch by Captain George Grey.
M. and N. Hanhart, Lithographic Printers, 64 Charlotte Street, Rathbone

15.1. Figure drawn on the roof of Cave, discovered March 26th.

15.2. Figure drawn on side of Cave, discovered March 26th.

15.3. Oval drawing in Cave, discovered March 26th.

15.4. Figure drawn in Cave, discovered March 26th.

16. Head cut in Sandstone Rock.
Captain Grey, delt. G. Foggo, Lithographer. M. and N. Hanhart,
Lithographic Printers.

17. Figure drawn on roof of Cave, discovered March 29th.

18. Supposed Native Tombs.
Discovered on the North-Western Coast of New Holland, 7 April 1838.
Published by T. & W. Boone, London.

19. Nest or Bower of the Chalmydera nuchalis.

20. Map and Chart of the West Coast of Australia, from Swan River to
Shark Bay, Including Houtman's Abrolhos and Port Grey, from the Surveys
of Captains Grey, Wickham, and King, and from other official Documents,
compiled by John Arrowsmith.

21. Attack of Natives near Kolaina Plains.
Drawn on stone by George Barnard from a sketch by Frederick C. Smith,
M. and N. Hanhart, Lithographic Printers, 64 Charlotte Street, Rathbone




















The following pages contain the results of the author's travels and
residence in the western parts of Australia, between the years 1837 and
1840, during which period he traversed extensive regions unknown to the
European traveller, and probably never before trodden by the foot of
civilized man.

It is not alone with gratification of enlightened curiosity that the
countries now first brought to notice are likely to be objects of
interest. A knowledge of the districts lying between Swan River and Shark
Bay cannot but be of importance to future colonists, whilst the
intertropical provinces of the north-west coasts, distinguished as they
are by important peculiarities both of character and position, are
equally calculated to draw the attention of the literary and enterprising

It only remains to state in a few words the circumstances under which
this work is given to the public.

The author arrived in England in September, 1840, and was engaged in
preparing his notes for publication when he was unexpectedly honoured
with an appointment which re-called him to Australia in the month of
December following.

Avocations both of a public and private nature arising out of that
appointment prevented him from carrying his work through the press during
the short period of his residence in this country, and consequently the
final arrangement of the impression and the duties of typographical
revision devolved on others.

Although no pains have been spared to render these volumes worthy of the
public eye, the circumstances under which they appear will naturally
occasion them to be marked by defects which, doubtless, would not have
escaped the author's notice and correction had he been present.

It would be an act of injustice not to express here the obligations the
author is under to Mr. J.E. Gray of the British Museum for his valuable
assistance in whatever relates to natural history in the body of the
work, as well as for the contributions in the same branch of science
which will be found in the Appendix; nor are his thanks less due to Mr.
Adam White for an interesting paper on the Entomology of Australia; and
to Mr. Gould, who has lately visited that country, for his list of the
Birds of the Western Coast.





The Expeditions of which the results are narrated in the following pages
took their origin from a proposition made to Government by myself, in
conjunction with Lieutenant Lushington,* in the latter part of the year

(*Footnote. Now Captain Lushington of the 9th Foot.)

At that time a large portion of the western coast and interior of the
great Australian continent had remained unvisited and unknown; whilst the
opinions of the celebrated navigators Captains Dampier and King,
connected with other circumstances, led to the inference, or at least the
hope, that a great river, or water inlet, might be found to open out at
some point on its western or north-western side; which had then been only
partially surveyed from seaward.


Anxious to solve this interesting geographical problem, we addressed a
letter to Lord Glenelg, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, wherein
we offered our services to conduct an exploration from the Swan River to
the northward, having regard to the direction of the coast, so as to
intersect any considerable body of water connecting it with the interior;
and, in the event of such being discovered, to extend our examination of
it as far as circumstances might admit.

The letter containing this offer also enumerated several secondary
objects, to which we proposed to direct our attention, and which were
ultimately comprehended in our instructions.

The offer and suggestions were favourably entertained by Lord Glenelg,
and further communications invited; and, the project having been favoured
by the support of the Royal Geographical Society, our services were
finally accepted by the Government.


More mature consideration however led to a material alteration in the
first plan; for whilst our principal object, namely, the search for a
great river or interior inlet, remained the same, it was considered, for
several reasons, more advisable that the exploration should commence from
the vicinity of Prince Regent's River, on the north-west coast, and be
directed towards the Swan. I shall pass over the various points of detail
which occupied our time and attention until the moment of departure, as
they offer no matters of general interest. It will be sufficient to say
that everything suggested as likely to be conducive to the success and
utility of the expedition was most liberally granted and supplied; and,
when all was prepared, a letter of instructions dated the 16th June 1837
was addressed by Lord Glenelg to myself and Lieutenant Lushington
conjointly; which embraced the following points:

1. We were to embark in H.M. sloop of war the Beagle, then fitting out
for a survey of the coasts and seas of Australia, under the command of
Captain Wickham, R.N.; and to proceed in that vessel either to the Cape
of Good Hope or to Swan River, as might ultimately appear best suited to
forward the objects of the expedition.

2. On our arrival at either of the foregoing places, we were directed to
procure a small vessel to convey the party and stores to the most
convenient point in the vicinity of Prince Regent's River.

3. After due examination of the country about Prince Regent's River we
were instructed to take such a course as would lead us in the direction
of the great opening behind Dampier's Land. From the moment of our
arrival at this point our subsequent proceedings were left more
discretionary; but the instructions continued: "You will use the utmost
exertions to penetrate from thence to the Swan River; as, by adopting
this course, you will proceed in a direction parallel to the unknown
coast, and must necessarily cross every large river that flows from the
interior towards that side of the continent."

4. That we might have an opportunity, in the event of any unforeseen
difficulties occurring, of falling back upon the vessel conveying the
party, she was not to quit the place where she might have been left by it
until such a time had elapsed, from the departure of the expedition for
the interior, as should be agreed upon; and, to ensure the observance of
this condition, we were instructed to act by the advice of the local
authorities of the colony where she might be engaged in drawing up the
agreement, as well as in procuring guarantees for its fulfilment.

5. The main objects of the expedition were then specified to be: To gain
information as to the real state of North-Western Australia, its
resources, and the course and direction of its rivers and mountain
ranges; to familiarize the natives with the British name and character;
to search for and record all information regarding the natural
productions of the country, and all details that might bear upon its
capabilities for colonization or the reverse; and to collect specimens of
its natural history.

6. It was directed that strict discipline should be observed, and the
regulations by which our intercourse with the natives was to be governed
were laid down; after which the instructions concluded with the following

No further detail has been given you in these instructions, for, as you
have been made aware of the motives which have induced his Majesty's
Government to send out the expedition, it is supposed each individual
will do his utmost in his situation to carry these objects out, either by
obtaining all possible information or by such other means as may be in
his power.

Although the instructions regarding the expedition are addressed to you
conjointly as conductors of it, it is necessary that the principal
authority and direction should be vested in one individual, on whom the
chief responsibility would rest.

It is to be understood that Lieutenant Grey, the senior military officer,
is considered as commanding the party and the person by whose orders and
instructions all individuals composing the party will be guided and



All our preparations being completed, there embarked in the Beagle,
besides myself and Mr. Lushington, Mr. Walker, a surgeon and naturalist,
and Corporals Coles and Auger, Royal Sappers and Miners, who had
volunteered their services; and we sailed from Plymouth on the 5th July


The usual incidents of a sea voyage brought us to Santa Cruz in Tenerife,
where I landed on Wednesday 19th July 1837, about 2 o'clock in the
afternoon. There was a sort of table d'hote at 3 o'clock at an hotel kept
by an Englishman, at which I dined, and was fortunate in so doing as I
met there a German and several English merchants who were principally
engaged in the trade of the country. There was also a gentleman who had
been from his earliest years in the African trade for gums, etc.; and he
gave me many interesting particulars of the wild life the individuals so
occupied are compelled to lead. In the afternoon I made a set of magnetic
observations and then walked out to see the aqueduct; which at about
three-quarters of a mile to the north-east of the town approaches it by a
passage cut through a mountain. The execution of this work must have been
attended with immense labour, for, although the design is grand and
noble, the actual plan upon which it has been completed was by no means
well conceived. The average depth of this cut is at least one hundred and
twenty feet, its length is about one hundred and eighty, whilst its
breadth in many parts is not more than four.

Previously to the construction of this aqueduct the town of Santa Cruz
was very badly supplied with water, indeed so much so that the
inhabitants were, at some periods of the year, compelled to send upwards
of three miles for it; but no want of this nature has ever been
experienced since its completion. The expenses of its construction as
also of keeping it in repair are principally defrayed by a tax upon all
wine and spirits actually consumed in the town.

The scenery of the country I walked through was bold and romantic but by
no means rich; fig-trees grew wild about the mountains, and it seemed
singular that, whenever I approached one, the peasants on the adjacent
hills shouted out in loud tones. As far as I could understand the guide,
this was done to deter us from eating the fruits now just ripe, and, upon
my return to the town and making further enquiries, I found that such was
their custom.


July 20th.

I started at six o'clock with Mr. Lushington for Oratava, distant about
30 miles from Santa Cruz. We were mounted on small ponies, admirably
adapted to the wretched roads of the country, and accompanied by two
guides who carried our carpet bags.


The first town we came to was Laguna, which appeared to be of some
importance; it is distant about four miles from Santa Cruz. On this road
we passed many camels laden with heavy burdens; a circumstance which
rather surprised me for I had always imagined that, owing to the peculiar
formation of its foot, the camel was only fitted for travelling over
sandy ground, whilst the way from Santa Cruz to Laguna is one continued
mass of sharp rocks, utterly unworthy of the name of a road; yet these
animals appeared to move over it without the least inconvenience.

After leaving Laguna the country for some miles bore a very uninteresting
appearance; for, although apparently fertile, it was quite parched up by
the extreme heat of the sun; our guides, who were on foot carrying our
carpet bags, kept up with us by running, and, occasionally when tired,
catching hold of the horses' tails to assist themselves along.

We halted for breakfast at Matanzas (or the place of slaughter) so called
from a dreadful slaughter of the Spaniards which was here made by the
Guanches, the aborigines of the island. I examined the spot where this
occurred; it is a narrow defile, formed by a precipice on one hand, and
perpendicular rocks on the other, and lies on the only route by which you
can pass across the island from east to west; it was therefore well
adapted for the purposes of savage warfare, and the Guanches here made
the Spaniards pay dearly for the cruelties practised on themselves.

All traces of this interesting people, who were eventually extirpated by
the Spaniards, have long since vanished, and, although I spared no pains,
I could glean but little information about them, but to this subject I
will advert again.

Before breakfast I made a set of magnetic observations, and then,
swallowing a hasty meal, prepared to start. A difficulty however arose
here, for neither Mr. Lushington nor myself spoke a word of Spanish,
although we understood tolerably well what others said to us; the paying
our bill became therefore rather a matter of embarrassment. One of the
guides saw our distress and made signs that he would arrange matters for
us; we accordingly gave him a dollar. With this he paid the bill and I
saw him receive some change, which he coolly pocketed; I afterwards asked
him for it, but he pretended with the utmost nonchalance not to
understand me; so we saw no more of it.


In the ride from Matanzas to Oratava the road is wretched but the scenery
compensates for this. Upon arriving at the brow of the hill above
Oratava, a beautiful prospect bursts upon the sight; directly in front
rises the lordly Peak, whilst in the foreground are vineyards, cottages,
and palm-trees; in the centre stands La Villa, the upper town of Oratava,
encircled with gardens; on the right lies a rich slope running down to
the sea which bounds the prospect on that side; and on the left rise
rocky mountains, for the greater part clothed with wood.

We now spurred our horses on and, leaving the guides behind, soon reached
La Villa, accompanied by a countryman who had joined us upon a pony; but,
on getting into the town, the melancholy truth rushed upon my
recollection that we could not speak Spanish: had we remained with our
guides this would not much have signified, for they had been told at
Santa Cruz to take us to a hotel.


Nothing remained now but to do our best to open a communication; we
accordingly accosted a variety of individuals in English, French,
Italian, German--but in vain. Spanish alone was understood or spoken
here; our friend, the countryman, stuck to us most nobly, he understood
us not a bit better than the rest but saw that we were in distress and
would not desert us.

We at last deliberately halted under a house where we could get a little
shade, for the sun was intensely hot and, a crowd having soon collected,
we harangued them alternately and received long answers in reply; but,
although able to make out a great deal of what they said, we could not
get them to understand a single word on our part. At length kind fate
sent the guides to our rescue and they led us off direct to the hotel.

This however brought only partial relief to our wants; we opened our
mouths, and pointed down our throats. So much was understood and a
chicken instantly killed. We laid our heads upon a table, feigning sleep,
and were shown to a wretched room; but here all converse terminated. Mr.
Lushington desired to ascend the Peak therefore it became necessary that
we should hit upon some means of making them comprehend this; but all
efforts were in vain. At length they proposed to send for an interpreter,
which was accordingly done; but he was at dinner, and could not then

At last the interpreter arrived, a Spanish Don who had been for some
years resident in a mercantile house in New York; he was very dirty, but
good-natured, and soon made the necessary arrangements for Mr.
Lushington; who for eight dollars was to be provided with a pony, a
sumpter mule, provisions and guides, taken safely to the top of the Peak
and brought back again; which I thought reasonable enough.

After these arrangements I managed to scrape some acquaintance with this
Spanish gentleman, who told me to my great edification that I was in a
notorious gambling house. I had been informed at Santa Cruz that the
inhabitants of those islands were dreadfully addicted to that vice, and I
now, from personal observation, found this was too true.

After dinner I started to walk to the Port of Oratava, distant about
three miles; there was beautiful scenery the whole way, and a tolerable
road for the island. I called on Mr. Carpenter, the British Consul, to
whom I had a letter, and he made arrangements for my being admitted to
the botanical gardens at six o'clock the next morning.

On my return to La Villa all the roues of the town were assembled at our
hotel to eat ices and gamble: I joined them in the former but not in the
latter amusement.


The gentleman who had acted as interpreter for us was also there, but I
could gain very little further information from him. He told me that they
had just heard George the Eighth, the King of England, was dead (William
the Fourth had just died) and his knowledge of the other European
countries was much upon the same scale. I found that gambling was here
carried on to an extent which was really deplorable.

July 21.

I started at half-past five for the botanic gardens, diligently inspected
them, and afterwards made a set of magnetic observations; this occupied a
large portion of the morning. I however still had time to geologise for
about three hours, and then rode back to Santa Cruz, where I did not
arrive till late at night.


July 22.

In the morning I renewed my magnetic observations and, having dined at
the table d'hote, I passed the afternoon in calling upon several persons,
and collecting such information regarding the group of islands as I could
pick up. Two statistical tables then given to me I have here inserted.

The first shows the extent of the seven larger islands and the average
number of inhabitants in each. On these numbers I think dependence may be
placed, as they nearly agree, in the total, with that given by Tarrente
in the Geografia Universal (1828) who makes it 196,517, being about
12,000 above the number given by Humboldt for the gross population at the
end of the last century.

The second table gives the quantity of the most important products raised
annually in each island.




To these I have added a short table showing the mean heat of every month
at Tenerife, as deduced from a continued series of daily observations by
Dr. Savignon and Mr. Richardson, at Laguna between the years 1811 and
1818, to which is annexed another of the quantity of rain which fell
during some months of the years 1812 and 1813.

The two gentlemen who had made these observations having since died, I
was not able to obtain any of the actual thermometrical observations, but
to the son of Mr. Richardson I am obliged for having allowed me to copy
the results contained in these tables.


(*Footnote. Monsieur Savignon, Medecin du Gouvernement, se distingue par
un caractere honorable et des connoissances etendues dans la profession.
Voyage aux Terres Australes Tome 1 page 21.)

La temporatura media de la Laguna puedi considerarse de 63 de Fahrenheit,
dentro las casas del centro de la Ciudad, en sombra y al ayre libre;
segun resulta de 8 Anos de observaciones, no interrumpidas ni un solo dia
desde 1811 a 1818.*


Emero, 55 a 55 1/2.
Febrero, 56 a 56.
Marzo, 58 a 58 1/4.
Abril, 59 a 59 1/4.
Mayo, 62 a 62.
Junio, 65 a 65.
Julio, 69 a 68 3/4.
Agosto, 71 a 71 1/4.
Septiembre, 70 a 70 1/4.
Octubre, 66 a 66 3/8.
Noviembre, 62 a 62.
Diciembre, 58 a 58.

62 3/4, media De lo 8 Anos.

(*Footnote. The mean temperature of Laguna may be estimated at 63 degrees
of Fahrenheit, within doors, in the middle of the town; the thermometer
being placed in the shade, and exposed to the air. Result of eight years'
uninterrupted daily observations from 1811 to 1818.)

Rain which fell in two years, 1812 and 1813, in inches. Column 1 1812.
Column 2 1813.

Emero, 10.79 3.34.
Febrero, 2.22 2.46.
Marzo, 0.15 4.17.
Abril, 0.09 2.39.
Septiembre, - 0.15.
Octubre, 1.76 7.34.
Noviembre, 2.12 4.24.
Diciembre, 2.20 1.13.

19.33 25.22.

In twenty-four hours in January, fell 5.24 inches.

A few observations taken on board the Beagle during the five days it lay
at Santa Cruz seemed to give a mean heat of about 76 degrees; but it must
be remembered that these observations were made in a vessel lying only
about a quarter of a mile from the shore and exposed to the constant rays
of the sun during six days of a season considered by the inhabitants to
be a very warm one. I do not therefore think that the observations of Dr.
Savignon and Mr. Richardson, taken under such very different
circumstances at Laguna, which Von Buch estimates at 264 toises above the
sea, could be far from the truth.

The annual mean temperature of Santa Cruz according to Von Buch is 71
degrees 8' Fahrenheit, or 21 degrees 8' of the centigrade scale.


From Mr. Cochrane, a very intelligent English merchant whom I met there,
I obtained much information on various points, and he brought to my
notice the violent storms of wind and rain which occur on the island
occasionally during the rainy season, and cause great destruction and


One had passed over in the month of March of the year I was there (1837)
and I was fortunate enough to obtain an official account of the damage
occasioned by another in November 1826, which is here annexed. A similar
one was experienced, as will be seen by the table, in January 1812, when
5.24 inches of rain fell in twenty-four hours.

En la noche del 7 al 8 de Novembre 1826, se experimento un temporal de
Viento y Agua, que causo on todas les Yslas muchos estragos. En 8 pueblos
de la de Tenerife, se sufrion las des-gracias que manifiesta el siguente

[In the night between the 7th and 8th of November 1826 was experienced a
storm of wind and rain which caused great ravages in all the islands. In
8 districts of Tenerife were sustained the losses enumerated below.]


Villa de la Oratava 104 144 591 75.
Puerto de la Cruz 32 31 23 6.
Realejo de Arriba 25 41 - -.
Realejo de Abajo 14 9 - 2.
Guancha 52 72 344 31.
Rambla 10 14 13 -.
Ycod 5 - - -.
Santa Ursula 1 - 38 -.


Sunday July 23.

I procured a few words of the original languages of the Guanches from in
old government manuscript, and as from this circumstance no doubt can
exist as to its authenticity, I have inserted them.

Several of these will be found already published in the History of the
Canary Islands by Glas (page 174) with occasional slight differences of
spelling, whilst the rest, though few in number, are, as far as I am
aware, now first given.


Such scanty vocabularies and some mummies from Tenerife, scattered
through the cabinets of the curious in various parts of Europe, are the
only existing records of the race which held possession of these islands
on the descent of John de Betancourt, about the year 1400, and who were
nearly exterminated within little more than a century after.


(Some words of the language of the Guanches, or of Tenerife.)


Achamam : Dios : God.
Achano : Ano : A year.
Achicaxna (Achicarna, Glas.) : Villano : A peasant.
Achimencey : Hidalgo : A nobleman.
Ataman : - : Heaven.
Axa (Ara, Glas.) : Cabra : A Goat.
Banot : Vara Endurecida : A Pole hardened (by fire).
Cancha : Perro : A Dog.
Achicuca : Hijo : A son.
Cichiciquizo : Escudero : A Squire.
Guan (Coran, Glas.) : Hombre : A man.
Guanigo : Cazuela de Barro : An Earthen vessel.
Hara (Ana, Glas.) : Oveja : A Sheep.
Mencey : El Rey : The King.
Oche (Ahico, Glas.) : Mantera : A mantle.
Sigone : Capitan : A Captain.
Tano : Cebada : Barley.
Xerios : Zapatos : Shoes.


(Some words of the language of Canary.)


Ahorac : Dios : God.
Almogaron : Adoratorio : A Temple or place of worship.
Amodagas : Varos-tostados : Poles hardened (by fire).
Aramotanoque : Cebada : Barley.
Aridaman : Cabra: A Goat.
Carianas : Espuerta : A Rush or Palm-basket.
Doramas : Narices : Nostrils.
Gofio : Farina de cebada tostada : Flour of baked Barley.
Guanarteme : El Rey : The King.
Guaire : El Consejero : The Councillor.
Magado : Garrote de Guerra : Poles or sticks used as weapons.
Tahagan (Taharan, Glas.) : Oveja : A Sheep.
Tamaranona : Carne Frita : Roasted or broiled meat.
Tamarco : Camisa de pieles : A Garment or shirt of hides or skins.


(Some words of the language of Palma.)


Abora : Deos : God.
Adijirja : Arroyo : A Rivulet.
Asero : Lugar Fuerte : A Stronghold.
Atinariva : Puerco : A Hog.
Aguayan : Perro : A Dog.
Mayantigo : Pedazo de Cielo : Heavenly.
Tidote : Monte : A Hill.
Tiguevite : Cabra : A Goat.
Tigotan : Cielos : The Heavens.
Yruene : El Diablo : The Devil.



(Some words of the language of Fortaventura and Lanzerota.)


Aho : Leche : Milk.
Attaha : Hombre de Valor : A Valiant Man.
Elecuenes : Adoratorio : A Place of devotion.
Guanigo : Cazuela de Barro : An earthen vessel.
Guapil : Sombrero : A Hat.
Horbuy : Cuero : A Skin or Hide.
Maxo (Ma, Glas.) : Zapatos : Shoes.
Tabite : Tarro pequeno : A small earthen pan.
Tamocen : Cebada : Barley.
Tezezes : Varas de Acebucha : Poles of the wild olive tree.


(Some words of the language of Ferro and Gomera.)


Aculan : Manteca : Butter.
Achemen : Leche : Milk.
Aemon : Agua : Water.
Banot : Garrote de Guerra : War Clubs.
Ganigo : Cazuela de Barro : An earthen vessel.
Haran : Helocho : Furze.
Fubaque : Reses gordas : Fat cattle.
Guatativoa : Un convita : A gathering to a Banquet.
Tahuyan : Bas quinas : A Petticoat of Skins.
Tamasagues : Veras largas : Long Poles.


It was in the course of my enquiries for words of the Guanche language
that I accidentally heard yesterday, from an old inhabitant, of the
existence of a cave in the rocks, about 3 miles to the north-east of
Santa Cruz, which it was impossible to enter, but which, when examined
from the sea, could be observed to be full of bones. This cave, he said,
was known to the old inhabitants by the name of La Cueva de los Guanches;
and according to traditionary report it had been the burying-place of the
original inhabitants of this island. Several English merchants of whom I
made enquiries knew nothing of it, even by report, but the master of the
hotel was aware of its existence and promised to procure me guides to it.
Although this day was Sunday, yet, as I was to sail in the afternoon, the
inducement was too strong to resist, and I started in a boat at 6 o'clock
with Mr. Walker our surgeon, taking my geological hammer as I intended to
return overland.

When we had proceeded about a mile and a half from Santa Cruz I was
astonished to hear, from the rocks on the shore, a loud roaring noise,
and to see large clouds apparently of ascending smoke. I landed to
ascertain the cause of this, and found it arose from one of those hollow
rocks which are sometimes seen on our own coast and are known by various
names, such as blowing stones, boiling kettles, etc. etc. I had however
never seen one at all to be compared to this in size. It was formed by a
hole in the rocks through which the water is first poured as the waves
rush in; and then is partly driven out with a loud noise through a hole
far up, and partly returns, in the form of spray, by the opening through
which it was at first impelled. By assuming a proper position with regard
to the sun a most beautiful rainbow is seen in this spray as it is dashed
high into the air, and the whole is well worthy of a visit. Having
collected some shells and geological specimens we again embarked for the

On reaching the spot we distinctly observed, from the shore, the mouths
of two caves full of bones. As the Guanches were in the habit of
embalming their dead I entertained hopes of obtaining from them a mummy,
of which there are several preserved in the Canary Islands. Upon landing
however I found that they were utterly inaccessible, being situated in a
perpendicular rock about 150 feet above the level of high water mark, and
a considerable distance beneath the summit of the cliff. I had indulged a
hope of being able to swing into one of the caves by means of a rope
suspended from the top, but, owing to a large rock which projects from
above quite over their mouths, this would be very difficult. Several
bones had been blown out of the apertures, which I collected and found
them to have belonged to man, but otherwise displaying nothing

I can scarcely entertain a doubt but these caves really were the
burying-places of the ancient Guanches, yet how they were approached I
cannot conceive; probably there might have been an entrance to them from
the interior of the country. I searched but my time was short and I could
find no traces of such. An interesting question here remains to be solved
and I trust some future traveller may be induced to attempt it.

There is only one other supposition I could frame on this subject, and to
this I am led from the fact of the bones lying so immediately in the
caves' mouths. Could a party of the Guanches, when so oppressed and so
cruelly treated by the Spaniards, have taken refuge by some means in
these caverns, and afterwards, from their retreat being cut off, have
found themselves unable to escape and have here perished miserably;
looking out of the cavern to the last for that assistance they were never
doomed to receive? If they had managed to enter these caves by a narrow
pathway running along the face of the cliffs, which the Spaniards
afterwards destroyed, such an occurrence might readily have taken place.

Having completed my examination I dismissed the boat and walked back to
Santa Cruz, from whence we sailed at five o'clock this evening.



Nothing important occurred during the voyage from Tenerife to Bahia; but
one atmospherical phenomenon I think is worthy at a future day of further

I remarked constantly, just at sunset, in these latitudes, that the
eastern horizon was brilliantly illuminated with a kind of mock sunset.
This in a short time disappeared, to be soon succeeded by another similar
in character, but more faint. I observed at the same time, in the western
horizon, the regular sunset, and then two appearances, like those seen in
the east; perhaps this may be fully accounted for by a triple reflection,
as in the common theory of the rainbow.


August 17.

We came in sight of the coast of South America about noon, and dropped
anchor in the harbour of Bahia at four P.M.; and about half an hour after
I went on shore with Mr. Lushington, a person of the name of Wilson
taking us in his boat: there was a slave in the boat, and, not knowing
that he understood English, I asked Mr. Wilson several questions about
slaves in general, and he gave me a good deal of information on this
subject, mentioning among other things that the price of a good slave
here varied from 90 to 100 pounds, he happened to state that the slaves
were wretched in their own country, and that frequently large numbers
were sacrificed to their gods. I never saw so fine a burst of natural
indignation as the slave in the boat evinced at this statement; his lip
curled up with scorn, his dark eye grew vividly bright, and his frame
quivered as he made an impassioned reply in Portuguese; I could not
understand all that he said, but caught enough to know the tenor of it,
that "this was not the case; Englishmen or foreigners never visited his
country, so how could they know." It was not so much what he said but the
scornful bitterness of his manner that made an impression on me, not
easily to be effaced.


I took a night walk in the country this evening and experienced those
wild and undescribable feelings which accompany the first entrance into a
rich tropical country. I had arrived just towards the close of the rainy
season, when everything was in full verdure, and new to me. The luxuriant
foliage expanding in magnificent variety, the brightness of the stars
above, the dazzling brilliancy of the fireflies around me, the breeze
laden with balmy smells, and the busy hum of insect life making the deep
woods vocal, at first oppress the senses with a feeling of novelty and
strangeness till the mind appears to hover between the realms of truth
and falsehood.


The town of Bahia looks very beautiful from the sea; but on entering you
find it dreadfully filthy. The stench of the lower town is horrible. Even
the President's palace is a dirty and wretched-looking building: his
salary, I understand, is 600 pounds a year. By the last returns the
population of the town was 120,000, 100,000 of whom were blacks. All the
burdens here are carried by slaves as there are no carts and the breed of
horses is small, being perfect ponies.

The exports are cotton and sugar--the cotton chiefly to Liverpool, the
sugar to all European countries but England. Their imports are English
cotton goods and hardware, also various manufactured goods from Germany.
The nuns are famed for the manufacture of artificial feathers and

The fruit here is excellent, the oranges are particularly fine.

The merchants in the town are principally English and German. There is no
American house. Several have started but all who made the attempt have

You cannot penetrate any great distance into the interior as there are no
roads but only little pathways through the woods. The Indians are
frequently seen very near the town.


This part of Brazil offered the curious spectacle of a great evil, which
has been long suffered to exist and is now advancing, gradually yet
surely, to that state which must entail inevitable destruction on the
existing Government of the country. I allude to the immense slave
population which, owing to a short-sighted policy, has been allowed to
increase so rapidly from the frequent and numerous importations that at
the present moment they are in the ratio of 10 to 1 to the white
population, to whom they are also, individually, immensely superior in
physical strength; the Brazilians being the most insignificant and feeble
race of men I have ever yet seen.


The blacks are perfectly aware of their own power, and about two years
ago had arranged a plan for seizing the town and murdering all the whites
with the exception of foreigners; which miscarried only by the affair
being discovered a few hours before it broke out. This plan was however
so wisely and boldly conceived, both as a whole and in detail, that it
alone affords the most conclusive evidence that the slave population in
this country are by no means deficient either in mental powers or
personal courage.

The Brazilians themselves are aware of the danger which threatens them,
and yet evince an extraordinary degree of supineness with regard to it.
They have indeed framed certain regulations as to the slaves being all
within their houses at an early hour of the evening, etc. etc., and these
they deem sufficient for their protection; yet to an unprejudiced
observer it would appear that, unless some much more effective measures
are adopted, within a few years from the present time the whole of this
fine country will be in the hands of the blacks: and indeed I think one
would be justified in concluding that the moment which produces a person
sufficiently intriguing again to stir up the slaves, and endowed with the
firmness and talent necessary to conduct an emeute of this nature, will
be the last of the Brazilian Empire.


It is evident from what I have before stated that the only hope the white
population can reasonably entertain of retaining their present position
must be in the most perfect union and concord amongst themselves, and
that, when a unity of design and action ceases to exist between the
different provinces, their fate is sealed. Yet this circumstance never
appears to enter into their calculations; and at this instant each state
is plotting its separation from the Empire. The inhabitants here openly
state their intention of revolting and declaring their independence, and
Sunday next is even mentioned as the day for the commencement of the

(*Footnote. The revolt broke out on the 7th November 1837 but was
suppressed the following month. Great alarm existed lest the Negro slaves
should be induced to take their part likewise in the conflict between the
contending factions. Annual Register for 1837.)

It is really strange to one who stands by, a calm unconcerned spectator,
to observe men hurried on by the violence of faction to their own certain
destruction, and to behold them so entirely blinded by party spirit as
not to see that danger which stares them so openly in the face, that a
child could scarcely fail to detect it.

The Slave Trade, though nominally abolished, is actively pursued here,
eighty-three slaves having been landed just before my arrival, and
another cargo during my stay.

The slaves are not only a very superior race of men in point of physical
powers, but, as far as my experience of their habits went, I found them
very moral and honest. Their notions of religion were however curious.
Several were Christians nominally, but their Christianity consisted in
wearing a string of beads round the neck; and they seriously assured me
that those who wore beads went up to heaven after death, and that those
who did not went down under the waters.

I talked to many of them about their own land. None had forgotten it, but
they all expressed the most ardent desire to see it again. They call
themselves captives, not slaves, and are very punctilious upon this
point. They labour very hard here, generally in the town, paying their
masters eighteen-pence a day, and keeping the rest of their earnings for
themselves. The rate of labour must therefore be high; but they wear
scarcely any clothes, and their subsistence, which is jerked beef and
beans, costs but little. The slaves in the country are however all
obliged to work on their owners' plantations.

All the principal people in the town are concerned in the slave trade,
and their chief wealth consists in the number of slaves they possess;
therefore there is little chance of the trade being, for many years,
totally abolished.

With regard to the execution of the laws this country is much in the same
state as certain parts of Ireland. Homicide, and attempts at homicide, by
shooting, are frequent; but it is difficult, if not impossible, to
convict the offenders, for he who renders himself conspicuous in
prosecuting parties concerned in a murder assuredly gets shot at in his


August 25.

Re-embarked in the Beagle and sailed for the Cape of Good Hope.

September 10.

We had yesterday and all last night a gale of wind, succeeded this day by
a heavy fall of rain. The wind had raised a very high sea, but when the
rain began to fall I heard the captain and several of the officers remark
that the rain would lay the sea; for the result of their experience was,
"that a fall of rain always beats the sea down." What they had stated
would occur took place in this instance within two or three hours. This
shows forcibly what great results a slight force, continued for a long
time, will produce.

September 15.

Whilst standing on the deck of the Beagle this evening we remarked large
luminous spots in the water. They appeared to be about 12 inches in
circumference, were very numerous, and perfectly stationary. The light
they emitted was phosphorescent, but far brighter than I had ever before
witnessed; it was so vivid as to be distinctly visible for nearly a
quarter of a mile.

September 16.

We saw this morning an immense number of fin-backed whales, some of which
were quite close to the vessel. In the course of half an hour I counted
thirty of them. Could they have been feeding on the phosphorescent
animals we saw last night?

We are today about 600 miles from the Cape, and there is a strange
discordance amongst the elements. From the south-west comes a long and
heavy swell; a strong breeze is blowing from the east, and threatening
clouds spring upwards from the north. These omens have a meaning. Down to
the southward, somewhere off Cape Horn, there blows a furious gale. The
wind will draw round shortly to the northward. That is the interpretation
and the reading.

A swell like this one can only witness off the Cape of Good Hope. It was
to me a novel and magnificent sight. Uniform and lofty ridges of waves
advancing in rapid succession, and yet with so regular and undisturbed a
motion that one might easily fancy these great walls of water to be
stationary: yet onward they moved in uniform and martial order; whilst as
the ship rose upon their crests she seemed to hover for a moment over the
ocean in mid air. And now the wind drew round to the northward and it
blew almost a gale. The vessel felt its power and bent before it. It was
beautiful to watch the process of hand-reefing topsails and making the
vessel snug--the ready obedience to the word of command and the noiseless
discipline with which each duty was fulfilled. First had the men
clustered on the rigging like bees; then at the word to lay out they
fearlessly extended themselves along the yard-arm, and whilst they took
in the reefs the ship pitched and rolled so heavily that one felt anxious
for their safety: but there they swung securely between high heaven and
the sea.


The sea-birds held their holiday in the stormy gale. The lordly and
graceful Albatross, whose motion is a very melody, swept screaming by
upon the blast. The smaller Cape pigeons followed us fast, passing and
repassing across the vessel's track. At last one of them spies a fragment
on the waters, which has been thrown overboard: a moment it hovers above,
then plunges down. But the other birds have seen it too; and all,
pouncing on the spot, move their wings confusedly and seem to run along
the waters with a rapid and eager motion. Now is there discord wild
amongst them. A screaming and diving, swimming and running, mingled with
a chattering noise. No sooner does one gain the morsel than another tears
it from him. Who will be the victor here? The Albatross; for he sweeps
triumphantly over all, swoops down, and with a scream scares off the
timid little multitude; whilst high above his head he holds his arching
wings; and now in pride and beauty he sits upon the waters and, drifting
fast astern, gradually fades in the twilight.

What wonder that a sailor is superstitious! Separated in early youth from
his home ere he has forgotten the ghost stories of childhood, and whilst
the young and simple heart still loves to dwell upon the marvellous, he
is placed in such scenes as these: in the dark night, amidst the din of
waves and storms, he hears wild shrieks upon the air, and by him float
huge forms, dim and mysterious, from which fancy is prone to build
strange phantoms; and oft from aged sailors he gathers legends and
wondrous tales suited to his calling; whilst the narrator's mysterious
tone and earnest voice and manner attest how firmly he himself believes
the story.


September 21.

We came in sight of land yesterday evening, and spent the greater part of
the day in beating up False Bay to Simonstown, where we arrived about
half-past six P.M. I instantly landed in a shore-boat with Lieutenant
Lushington and Mr. Walker; and, having first hurried to Admiral Sir P.
Campbell with some letters I had to him, we forthwith started to ride to
Cape Town. Finding that a vessel for our expedition could be procured
here more readily and economically than at Swan River I determined on
making this my point of departure, and after diligent enquiry I finally
hired the Lynher, a schooner of about 140 tons, Henry Browse master, and
subsequently found every reason to be satisfied, both with the little
vessel and her commander.


My time was now wholly occupied in completing the preparations for our
future proceedings. I increased my party by a few additional hands of
good character, and thought myself fortunate in engaging amongst them
Thomas Ruston, a seaman who had already served on the Australian coast
under Captain King. On the 12th October I with great difficulty got my
affairs at Cape Town so arranged as to be able to embark in the evening,
and on the morning of the 13th we hove anchor and made sail.

The party now embarked consisted of:

Lieutenant Grey.
Lieutenant Lushington.
Mr. Walker, our Surgeon.
Mr. Powell, Surgeon.
Corporal R. Auger, Corporal John Coles, and Private Mustard of the Corps
of Sappers and Miners.
J.C. Cox, a Stock-Keeper.
Thomas Ruston, a Sailor who had been on the coast of Australia in the
Mermaid with Captain King.
Evan Edwards, a Sailor.
Henry Williams and R. Inglesby, Shoemakers.

There were besides on board a captain, a mate, seven men, and a boy.

The livestock I took from the Cape consisted altogether of thirty-one
sheep, nineteen goats, and six dogs. The dogs were as follows: one
greyhound; one dog bred between a greyhound and a foxhound; one between a
greyhound and a sheepdog; a bull-terrier; a Cape wolf-dog; and a useful
nondescript mongrel.


The plan that I had finally resolved on adopting was:

To proceed in the first instance to Hanover Bay, there to select a good
spot on which to form a temporary encampment; and, having landed the
stock, to despatch Lieutenant Lushington with Cox and Williams in the
vessel to Timor for ponies.


I selected Cox and Williams for this service because the former was used
to the management of horses on board vessels, and the latter
understanding Dutch was well calculated to act as interpreter at Timor.
During their absence I intended to practise the party in making short
explorations in different directions.

Upon the return of the vessel I intended to move the whole party to some
convenient spot to be chosen during their absence, then to advance,
attended only by Coles, and to fix upon the next spot on our route which
I designed to halt at. This plan I intended to adhere to as much as
possible throughout the whole expedition, namely, never to move the party
from one place of halt until I had chosen the next one. We bore with us
tools and instruments of every description; so that we not only were
fully capable of maintaining ourselves but could literally, if occasion
had required it, have founded the nucleus of a colony.

Great then was my joy when all my preparations were completed and I felt
the vessel gliding swiftly from Table Bay into that vast ocean at the
other extremity of which lay the land I so longed to see, and to which I
was now bound with the ardent hope of opening the way for the conversion
of a barren wilderness into a fertile garden.

Part of my plan was not only to introduce all useful animals that I
possibly could into this part of Australia, but also the most valuable
plants of every description. For this purpose, a collection had been made
at Tenerife by Mr. Walker, under my direction, and another in South
America,* including the seeds of the cotton plant. From the Cape and from
England I had also procured other useful plants, and had planned that the
vessel, on quitting Timor with the horses, should be filled in every
vacant space with young cocoa-nut trees and other fruits, together with
useful animals such as goats and sheep, in addition to the stock we
conveyed from the Cape.

(*Footnote. We had been able to introduce several useful plants into the
Cape; amongst others the South American Yam, which, owing to the quality
of the potatoes and their great fluctuations in price, will eventually be
very serviceable to the colonists, more especially for the use of



FORSTER'S PACHYPTILA (Pachyptila vittata.)

October 16.

I shot a female petrel; it had a nail planted in the heel, but no thumb;
the bill was hooked at the end, the extremity of which seemed to consist
of a distinct piece, articulated with the remainder; the nostrils were
united, and formed a tube laid on the back of the upper mandible, hence
it belonged to the family of Petrels (Procellariae.)

Its temperature was 94 degrees.
Length from tip to tip of wing, 2 feet 3 inches.
Length from tip of beak to tip of tail, 1 foot 2.4 inches.
Length from root to tip of tail, 4 inches.
Length of beak, 1.45 inches.
Length of foot, 1.55 inches.
Breadth across body, 2.3 inches.

Colour of beak and legs black; body white underneath; general colour
above, a light bluish slate, which grows darker in the head and wing
covers; tail tipped with black; the four first wing feathers tinged with


I also shot this afternoon three Cape pigeons (Procellaria capensis)
white underneath, spotted black and white above.


Temperature, 98 1/2 degrees.
Length from tip to tip of wing, 2 feet 11.3 inches.
Length from tip of tail to tip of beak, 1 foot 6 inches.
Length from tip of beak, 1.5 inches.
Length from root to tip of tail,4.1 inches.
Length of foot, 2.3 inches.
Breadth across body, 3.2 inches.


Length from tip to tip of wing, 2 feet 5 inches.
Length from tip of tail to tip of beak, 1 foot 5 inches.
Length from tip of beak, 1.5 inches.
Length from root to tip of tail, 4 inches.
Length of foot, 2.3 inches.
Breadth across body, 3 inches.


Length from tip to tip of wing, 2 feet 5.5 inches.
Length from tip of tail to tip of beak, 1 foot 4.6 inches.
Length from tip of beak, 1.3 inches.
Length from root to tip of tail, 4.6 inches.
Length of foot, 2.2 inches.
Breadth across body, 3.4 inches.

Two species of insects were found in these Cape pigeons.

The only difference I have been able to observe between the male and
female of these birds is, that the male has the black spots of rather a
deeper hue.

October 21. Latitude 38 degrees 15 south; longitude 35 degrees 53 minutes

From a variety of observations I am able to bear testimony to the
correctness of a fact that has been before noticed, namely, that the
Medusae invariably live in families. This single circumstance is
remarkable in connection with other points of natural history since it
will tend to explain the reason of certain classes of Petrels
(Procellariae) only visiting particular parts of the ocean.

Sunday October 22. Latitude 37 degrees 44 minutes south; longitude 38
degrees 00 east.

Caught two small animals, one closely resembling a small shrimp (Penaeus)
but having the head covered with a most beautiful purple shield. I kept
this alive in a jug. The other in size and appearance exactly like a
purple grape (Hyalea) with a greenish tinge at one extremity surrounding
an aperture, and a distinct aperture at the other extremity. It was 0.4
inches in diameter, and had the power of emitting a phosphorescent light.
I have since this period found several varieties of this animal; which,
when it expands itself, closely resembles an insect, and has little
wings. Further on will be found a sketch of these animals in their
expanded state. (See illustration Hyalea figure 1.)

THE ALBATROSS (Diomedea exulans).

We caught four of these birds yesterday, from which I made the following

FIRST SPECIMEN. Weight, 19 1/2 pounds.

Length from tip of wing to tip of wing, 10 feet 2 inches.
Length from tip of beak to tip of tail, 4 feet 0.5 inches.
Length of beak, 6.8 inches.
Length from root to tip of tail, 10.0 inches.
Length of foot, 7.6 inches.
Length of wing, 4 feet 8 inches.
Height from ground, 2 feet 10 inches.
Temperature 98 degrees, the thermometer placed under the tongue during
life. These measurements were all made during the lifetime of the bird.

SECOND SPECIMEN. Weight, 15 1/2 pounds.

Length from tip of wing to tip of wing, 10 feet.
Length from tip of beak to tip of tail, 3 feet 11 inches.
Length of beak, 6.6 inches.
Height from ground to top of head, 2 feet 4 inches.
Temperature 98 degrees.

THIRD SPECIMEN. The largest bird of the kind I have hitherto seen.

Length from tip of wing to tip of wing, 10 feet 8 inches.
Length from tip of beak to tip of tail, 4 feet 6 inches.
Breadth across the body, 8 inches.
Length of bill, 6.7 inches.
Length of foot, 7.5 inches.

FOURTH SPECIMEN. The same size as the second.

Length of beak, 6.3 inches.
Length of foot, 6.9 inches.

The beak of each of these birds during lifetime was of a beautiful light
rose colour; their voice was something like that of a goose, but rather
louder, deeper, and hoarser. If during life the beak was pressed with the
finger it became quite white, and it was not until the pressure had for
some time been removed that the colour returned. The specimens I have
described above (all males) were quite white underneath; the white above
being speckled with black spots and streaks, sometimes changing to a
brownish hue; the wings were black. We obtained also a female bird with
the following measurements, which has been described as a distinct

Length from tip to tip of wing, 7 feet 2 inches.
Length from tip of tail to tip of beak, 3 feet 5.5 inches.
Length from root to tip of tail, 9 inches.
Length of beak, 4.5 inches.
Length of foot, 5 inches.

Legs pale flesh colour; beak, black, with a brown-coloured streak on each
side of the lower mandible; the whole body of a dirty black colour,
acquiring a lighter tinge underneath.

October 30.

I shot two male specimens of this last bird: the only distinction between
them and the female was that they were rather smaller, and had a white
streak instead of a light brown one on each side of the lower mandible.

FIRST SPECIMEN--Male. Weight, 5 1/2 pounds.

Length from tip of wing to tip of wing 6 feet 6 inches.
Length from tip of beak to tip of tail, 2 feet 6 inches.
Length from root to tip of tail, 11 inches.
Length from root to tip of beak, 4 inches.
Length from root to tip of foot, 5 inches.
Length from root to tip of wing, 2 feet 10 inches.

SECOND SPECIMEN--Male. Weight 7 pounds.

Length from tip to tip of wing, 6 feet 9 inches.
Length from tip of beak to tip of tail, 2 feet 10 inches.
Length of tail, 10.6 inches.
Length of beak, 4.7 inches.
Length of foot, 5 inches.
Length of wing, 3 feet.

All the three specimens of this species had a distinct although minute
claw, representing a thumb, upon one leg, thus apparently forming a link
between the genus Procellaria and the genus Diomedea.


Ash-grey above; white in the under parts; quills, tail-feathers at the
tip, and band on the wings when expanded, brownish-black.

Length from tip to tip of wing, 2 feet.
Length from tip of beak to tip of tail, 10 inches.
Length from root to tip of tail, 4.3 inches.
Length of beak, 1 inch.
Length of foot, 1.5 inches.
Length of wing, 10.5 inches.

This bird is of the same species as the one I procured on the 16th of
October. I shot it about nine A.M. They are very numerous in these
latitudes; their flight resembles much that of a snipe. The name by which
they are known to the sailors is the whale-bird; they appear to take
their food upon the wing, for I have never yet seen them sit upon the
waters even for a single second, although I have observed them
frequently, and at all hours; but night and day they hurry on with the
same restless, rapid flight, sometimes going in large flocks; and I have
never upon shore seen so many birds assembled upon a few square miles as
I have sometimes here observed in the open ocean. I never heard them
utter any cry or sound.

I saw but few Cape pigeons (Procellaria capensis) after passing the 40th
degree of longitude, and neither Cape pigeons nor albatrosses after
passing the 95th degree of longitude, and 32nd parallel of latitude. I
have never seen a petrel or bird of the family Longipennes discharge its
oily fluid at anyone who worried or attacked it; but have almost
invariably seen it involuntarily eject it,when hurt or frightened.


November 9.

I caught four albatrosses with a fishing-line; one of them was a female,
the first I had seen. I observed no marked difference between her and
males of the same species, for I have found them vary much in the dark
shades upon their feathers.

I have yet found no bird of this family whose foot was not longer than
its beak.


Length from tip of wing to tip of wing,10 feet 10 inches.
Length from tip of wing, 4 feet 10 inches.
From tip of beak to tip of tail, 4 feet 9 inches.
Length of beak, 7.2 inches.
Length of tail, 9 inches.
Length of foot, 7.5 inches.

The black and brown marks on this bird were darker than the corresponding
ones on the males.

I am inclined to think that the chief characteristic that distinguishes
the females from the males in the family Longipennes is their greater
size: my opinion is grounded upon the following tables, drawn up from
careful measurements, made by myself.


In each of these three instances the female is larger than the males;
they are the only ones I am able to adduce which bear upon this point.

November 11. South latitude 30 degrees 47 minutes; east longitude 100
degrees 21 minutes 15 seconds.

Being a calm, I gave the men leave to bathe this afternoon, and was one
of the first overboard myself. Within an hour and a half after we had
done bathing, a cry of a shark was raised, and in truth there was the
monster (the first we had seen). I mention this fact as tending to
support what I have often heard stated, namely, that a shark's sense of
smell is so keen that, if men ever bathe in seas where they are found, a
shark is almost sure to appear directly afterwards. This really occurred
in the present instance.

We repeatedly caught many little animals which I believe are the VELELLA
of Lamarck. They consist of a flat oval cartilage, on which they float;
there is a mouth in the inferior surface of this surrounded with many
tentacula; on its superior surface is a crest which remains above water,
and the wind blowing against it turns the animal round; they thus swim
with a rotatory motion; the crest is placed obliquely to the length of
the oval cartilage, and this position of it perhaps assists in producing
the motion; the crest is perfectly transparent, but marked with little
striae; the oval cartilage is marked with concentric striae, which
indicate the lines of its growth; in some this cartilage is transparent,
in others quite blue.

November 12. South latitude 30 degrees 11; east longitude 100 degrees 31
minutes 30 seconds.

We caught several beautiful animals this day, of the Medusae kind
(Diphya). (See Illustration 3 Diphya, Sp.)

Figure 1 represents a section through one of them, the size of life: the
bag (1) is of a delicate bright amber colour. The long tentacula issuing
out are upwards of a foot in length and of a bright flesh colour.

(Illustration 3)

Figure 2 is a section across the animal.

Figure 3 represents the mouth of the large opening at c, d, as if one was
looking down into it.

Figure 4 upper part; Figure 5 lower; and Figure 6 the perfect animal.

Between c d apparently lay the entrance to its mouth; in the little bag
marked (3) its long tentacula were concealed, and below these lay a
little gut marked (4) which communicated with the point (L) by a small
canal: (1) was its swimming apparatus, and by alternate contractions and
expansions of this, it took in and expelled water, and thus acquired a
rapid motion, the pointed end (L) moving forwards.

Its length was 1.7 inches.
Breadth, 0.7 inches.
Thickness, 0.35 inches.
Temperature the same as the water, 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

The sketch Illustration 4 Diphya, Sp. gives a faint idea of the most
beautiful animal of this kind which I have ever seen. It was so delicate
that, with the slightest touch, portions of it came off, hence the
specimen we obtained is I fear useless. The body consisted only of a
central canal, to which were attached a number of gelatinous bags, with
large lateral openings, so large that other zoophytes were caught in
them, and apparently annoyed the animal; who continued throwing water out
until it expelled them. The whole was surmounted by a number of the most
beautiful rose-coloured tentacula: I counted eleven on it, and found four
more that were torn off, but there may have been more. Its top, when
looked into closely, resembled some of the sea anemones; and inside of
the large bright orange-coloured tentacula were placed circular rows of
smaller ones. Its body was quite transparent, with the exception of the
central canal, which was of a milk-white colour, and terminated in a
small sac of the same hue.

It moved in a direction opposite to the tentacula, by taking in water at
the lateral openings of the bags, in the position in which it is
represented; then bending these towards the tentacula, and expelling it
with great violence.

Temperature the same as the water, 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Length of body (to tentacula from root of tail-like canal) 1.8 inches.
Length of tentacula, 1.2 inches.
Length of tail-like canal, 0.45 inches.
Breadth, 1.1 inches.
Thickness, 0.8 inches.

Long tentacula, flesh-coloured; large tentacula, rose-coloured; lateral
bags, tinged with clear amber; the rest of the animal perfectly

We this evening caught several curious little animals (Clio ?) which when
taken out of the water appeared like small balls of the same matter as
that of which a slug is composed. Presently a little head peered out,
then the body expanded itself, and finally two little things like wings
were spread forth, formed of a fine membrane; they moved these very
rapidly, and swam with great velocity.

We caught several small crabs, and two kinds of shells, of a beautiful
purple colour. (Janthina exigua.) These were very small; I have preserved
several of them.

Figures 1, 2, and 3 represent different views of an animal (Salpa)
slightly electrical, that we caught this evening. Figure 1 is its
appearance, one side being up; Figure 2 when the other side is turned up;
Figure 3 is the side view of it.

I have never before seen one of the kind electrical. Temperature the same
as the water, 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Length, 1.5 inches.
Breadth, 0.6 inches.
Thickness, 0.3 inches.

Figure 1. The intestinal canal terminates in a little coloured bag,
generally of a bluish tinge; there is an opening at each extremity, one a
little to the left of the little bag, the other, as shown in Figures 3
and 1.

November 13. Latitude 30 degrees 7 minutes south; longitude 100 degrees
50 minutes 10 seconds east.

Figure 1. Represents a little shell (Hyalea) which was caught this day.

Figure 2. One of the tentacula of the animal I imagine to be the
Physsophora rosacea. The point which is seen obtruding at the base
resembles a little nerve; it runs the whole way down the tentacula.

Figure 3. A little shrimp-like animal (Erichthus vitreus) caught on the
14th November, latitude 29 degrees 26 minutes south; longitude 101
degrees 32 minutes east. Its head was protected by a shield, such as is
shown in the figure.

We caught this day several other Acalepha, two of which were of the
wonderful genus DIPHYA. I yesterday drew a coloured figure of the lower
part of one of these animals.

This animal in its perfect state (such as we found it in today) consists
of two individuals, the part of one being encased in a cavity of the
other. Figures 4 and 5 Illustration 4 will give a correct idea of the way
in which this junction is effected. The least motion separates these two
parts, and each forms a perfect animal, which performs all the functions
of life. This is the more extraordinary, as the containing animal is
furnished with an organ not possessed by the contained, and which in
their united state is used by both. Figure 5. From the little bag (f) at
the bottom of the cavity (g) the receiver produces a chaplet, which
traverses the canal in the received marked (2) in Figure 6, and which is
here drawn the size of life, was sometimes expanded to the length of one
foot eight inches. This organ, according to M. Cuvier, is composed of
ovaries, tentacula, and suckers.

The swimming apparatus, marked (1) and (4) in Figure 6, act
simultaneously; they are of a bright amber colour, and their mouth (a)
and (h) are closed with little valves, nearly invisible even when in
motion; the points round their upper aperture seem to form the hinges for
these. In twenty seconds I counted seventy expansions and dilatations of
this apparatus. The chaplet and the bag that holds it are flesh-coloured;
the rest of the body is gelatinous and diaphanous. They live in families,
and swim with great rapidity in the same manner as the other Acalepha.

Caught also shells and crabs of the same kind as yesterday.

November 14. Latitude 29 degrees 26 minutes south; longitude 101 degrees
2 minutes east.

Physsophora rosacea, Cuvier, see below. We caught another animal of the
same kind as the one taken on the 12th of November, and figured in
Illustration 7. It was so delicate that I did not measure it for fear of
its falling to pieces, but it appeared to be exactly the same size as the
former one.

Its circle of large tentacula were of a bright pink, and were fifteen in
number; inside this circle was a smaller one of the same number of
shorter tentacula, which were not quite so bright a pink colour; in the
centre of these were placed organs of a very extraordinary nature,
apparently quite round, and not thicker than the very finest silk; they
were arranged exactly in the form of a corkscrew, and from the beauty of
their mechanism, the animal could press fold against fold, and thus
render them less than a quarter of an inch in length, and I watched it
almost instantaneously expand them to the length of nine inches. After
having observed the animal closely for an hour I am writing this with it
before me, alive in a large glass bottle of salt water, and measuring
what I put down. The manner in which it expands these organs is by first
uncoiling those folds nearest the body, and afterwards those most remote;
so that when folded up it looks like a corkscrew with the folds pressed
close together, and when expanded, like a long straight thin bit of
flesh-coloured silk, with a little corkscrew of the same material at the
end. The larger tentacula are shaped like the trunk of an elephant, and
their extremity is furnished with a very delicate organ with which they
can catch anything, and, if touched, they instantly turn some of these
tentacula, which they have the power of moving in any direction, to the
point so touched. They are not electrical: the lateral bags have a slight
tinge of a bright amber colour. These animals sustain themselves in the
water by means of the little bag marked (a) in the figure, which floats
on the surface full of air, they there swim in the manner before
described. I afterwards observed very minute globules, or lumps, in the
long silk-like tentacula. When expanded these were very distinct.

Latitude 29 degrees 26 minutes south; longitude 101 degrees 32 minutes

We caught several small shells (Janthina exigua) this afternoon:
Illustration 9 represents one of them, with the string of air bubbles
attached, by means of which they swim on the water. They appear not to be
able to free themselves from this mass of bubbles: every shell I have yet
found floating in the Indian Ocean possesses these bubbles in a greater
or less degree; they were of a purple colour. I have seen the common
garden snail in England emit a nearly similar consistency: they also emit
a blue or purple liquid, which colours anything it touches.

The animals of the barnacles (Pentalasmis) attached to these shells
assume their purple colours, while the shell remains nearly pure white.

This afternoon we caught an animal (Glaucus, Illustration 10) I had not
before seen. It seemed to represent the order reptilia in the Mollusca,
being sluggish in movement, its eyes distinct, sensitive to the touch,
its head much resembling a lizard in appearance, and having a very strong
unpleasant smell when taken out of the water. During the hour I observed
it in a bucket it remained sluggishly floating on the top, and
occasionally swimming by moving its arms slowly along the surface. The
first three that I saw pass the vessel I imagined to be feathers floating
on the water.

Its description is as follows:

Length from head to tail, a c 1.8 inches.
Length from head to root of tail, a b 0.85 inches.
Length from head to first arm 0.2 inches.
Length from head to second arm 0.45 inches.
Length from head to third arm 0.7 inches.

1st arm.
From centre of back to end of round part, d e 0.3 inches.
From e to the end of short tentacula, e f 0.3 inches.
Ditto to long ditto, e g 0.75 inches.
Diameter of round part and attached tentacula 0.4 inches.

2nd arm.
From centre of back to end of tentacula. 0.4 inches.

3rd arm, do. do. 0.25 inches.
Breadth of body between the two first arms 0.13 inches.
Thickness 0.25 inches.

General colour of body, indigo blue, of a darkish tinge; down the centre
of the back a white streak, terminating at the root of the tail; sides
blue, tail blue, quite white underneath, its belly altogether resembling
that of a frog; tail tapering to a point.

1st arm. 26 tentacula attached to the rounded paddle-shaped part of this
arm, the centre tentacle more than twice the length of the others. These
tentacula were so delicate that at the slightest touch they fell off.
Those nearest the body were so small as to be almost imperceptible,
gradually increasing in length as they approach the centre, and then
decreasing to the other side. Centre of paddle-shaped part white,
tentacula blue and white, fringed with dark blue at the extremity.

2nd arm. 18 tentacula to this, centre ones the largest. Same colour as
first arm.

3rd arm. 12 tentacula, not forming such a regular circle as on the two
first arms, and apparently issuing directly from a very short limb
attached to the body.

The general appearance of the skin was that of a frog. It had the power
of contracting itself considerably.

Caught a slug-like animal (Holothuria) this evening, or rather more
closely resembling a caterpillar.

Length from head to root of tail 0.7 inches.
Length of tail (or rather gelatinous protuberance) 0.25 inches.
Breadth (broadest part at root of tail) 0.22 inches.
Narrowest part (near head) 0.15 inches.
Length of head 0.12 inches.

Head of light red colour, mouth apparent, motion of head like a
caterpillar's when touched, shape cylindrical, body gelatinous,
intestines apparent and full.

November 16. Longitude 102 degrees 40 minutes east; latitude 28 degrees 5
to 6 minutes south.

Since we have passed the 95th parallel of longitude, and 32nd of latitude
up to the present moment we have been out of the region of birds, for
during the whole of this period I have seen but two, one of which, a
Petrel, has this moment visited us. We have however seen more
Sea-jellies, Acalepha and Mollusca than before, and those of a much more
beautiful kind. Thus nature has made up for the deficiency of one tribe
of animals by the profuseness with which she has distributed another.

November 18. Latitude 26 degrees 57 minutes south; longitude 105 degrees
22 minutes east.

We caught a crustaceous animal (Phyllosoma, see Illustration 11) which
was perfectly transparent; it was furnished with twelve legs on what I
considered the hinder part of its body, and four antennae in front, which
have their tips of a bright pink colour, and two eye peduncles by their
side, which terminate in little bags containing some blue matter (their
eyes). It was furnished also with two legs underneath. These are just
shown in the figure near the centre of the body, and between those
underneath the insect there was a slight projection, with two little
lumps on each side. In this projecting part there appeared to be an
opening. When it was taken out of the water it stood upright on its legs
and crawled a little like a large beetle, but soon died. In the water it
swam with the legs, and the last joint appeared to be feathered. It will
be seen that there is a great irregularity in the position of the legs of
this insect. The specimen appeared to me to be in some respects
imperfect; but I figured it exactly as it was, without blindly guessing
at its perfect state. It was not thicker than the thinnest wafer. The
back was marked with curved lines, exactly in the manner I have
represented. It shrank instantly when touched. The two last joints of the
long legs were furnished with thorn-like spikes.

Length of tail 0.37 inches.
of the body 0.2 inches.
of the thorax and head 0.3 inches.
of the entire animal 1.4 inches.
Breadth of body 0.62 inches.
Ditto of thorax 0.51 inches.
Length of third leg 1.9 inches.
Length of second leg 1.7 inches.
Length of hindermost leg 0.6 inches.
Length of eyes, peduncles 0.4 inches.

We caught a second animal of exactly the same size as the one figured,
but apparently much more perfect. Each of its tentacula terminates in a
small feathering tip when it is in the water, like the little figures at
the side, and by the help of which they swim; these have a horny feel to
the touch, are destitute of smell, and look like a transparent scale when
they lie in your hand.

We also caught this day some little transparent shells (Cuvieria) of a
cylindrical form, and blunt at the end; they put out two little fins with
which they swam.

I was unfortunately too unwell this day to describe all the other
specimens we caught, which were numerous. The sea was full of small
acalepha, and in the midst of a shoal of these a whale was seen.

November 19. Latitude 25 degrees 50 minutes south; longitude 106 degrees
22 minutes east.

Birds first re-appeared again. I saw a large flock of two kinds, but was
not near enough to ascertain what they were. I have before noted the fact
that almost at the exact point where the southern birds of the family
Longipennes disappeared those sea-jellies (acalepha) which have the power
of stinging, began to show themselves; previously to our passing this
point I had not seen one: I saw several however today at no great
distance from this flock of birds.

We saw float by this afternoon one of the acalepha, apparently about two
feet long and shaped generally like a water snake; its tail had fins like
that of an eel, of a purplish tinge; I could distinctly see its head and
various vessels in its interior for it was quite transparent. We had no
net ready but threw a stick with a piece of string attached to it, the
string passed under it but in pulling up cut through it as though it had
been jelly.

Caught an animal (Cymothoa) shaped exactly like a woodlouse:

Length 0.4 inches.
Length of antennae 0.15 inches.
Breadth of body 0.12 inches.

It had six legs, and a tail-like fin behind on each side, and nine rings
on its back so that it could roll itself almost into a ball, these rings
extended no farther than from its head to within 0.12 inches of its
hinder extremity; colour very pale blue down the back, bright prussian
blue on each side; it crawled about when taken out of the water, and
lived for some time; its fins, or fin-like legs, when it thus crawled
about, were folded under its tail; eyes distinct.


November 20. Latitude 25 degrees 14 minutes south; longitude 106 degrees
49 minutes east.

A shell, Janthina exigua, was caught this evening, 8 hours 30 minutes
P.M.; when brought directly out of the water into a room the temperature
of the animal was 80 degrees 5'; of room 76 degrees; colour, dark violet
purple over half the opening and lower part of the shell, so that it
gives the animal the appearance of having been upon a purple-coloured
place; this colour then dies gradually away, and in the smallest whorl of
the shell becomes almost white. They had the power of emitting drops of a
violet colour, and when put into spirits a great quantity of this issued
from the mouth of the shells. We had one evening before caught a pair of
shells of the same species, but much smaller, at exactly the same hour;
in both instances each pair were caught at the same haul of the net.

November 23. Latitude 21 degrees 43 minutes south; longitude 109 degrees
43 east. 8 1/2 P.M.


A flying-fish (Exocetus) flew on board. Its temperature was 74 degrees.
The colour of its iris was black.

Length from mouth to end of curve between forks of tail 10 inches.
From mouth to commencement of wing-like fin 2.7 inches.
Length of wing fin 6.7 inches.
of dorsal fin 2.0 inches.
of pectoral fin 2.2 inches.
of anal fin 1.3 inches.
of upper fork of tail 2.2 inches.
of lower ditto 3.2 inches.
Length from mouth to end of gill 2.2 inches.
Breadth of wing fin 6 inches.
13 spines in each of these wings.
Breadth between eyes 0.11 inches.
Depth of fish 1.6 inches.
Breadth of thickness 1.6 inches.
Diameter of the eye 0.65 inches.

Under-jaw projecting; sides, pale green; back, blackish-green; belly,
white; five first spines in wing fin, greenish; others white; wing-fin
dark green with a transparent band running nearly up the centre from the
back; pectoral fin, transparent, with a dark green spot, nearly an inch
square, about the centre of its lowest extremity; tail, dark green, edges

November 26. Latitude 16 degrees 32 south; longitude 117 degrees east.

After crossing about the 22nd parallel of south latitude we fairly
entered into the region of flying fish, and dolphins as they are commonly
called; tropic birds were now also frequently seen, which had not up to
this moment been the case; we often also met hereabouts with a
dark-coloured bird with bronzed wings, having a cry precisely like a
Snipe. I know not the name of this bird. The more beautiful and largest
Sea-jellies (acalepha) had now disappeared, although the more minute ones
were as numerous as ever.


It therefore appears to me that we have, in coming from the southward to
this point, passed through three great regions, or zones, of animal life,
one extending from as far to the southward as I have yet been, namely 36
degrees south latitude to 31 degrees south latitude; this zone was
inhabited by numerous Sea-jellies (acalepha) of the smaller kind, by
porpoises and whales, as well as by immense varieties of the Petrels or

The second zone extending from 31 degrees south to 22 degrees south
latitude was inhabited by immense numbers of the larger and more
beautiful kind of Sea-jellies (acalepha) particularly by those that have
the power of stinging. Within this zone I saw but one whale, one shoal of
porpoises, and not a single one of the long-winged water birds or
Petrels; in fact I but once in the whole of this distance saw any birds;
there were also here a great variety and numbers of Sea-jellies
(acalepha) of the smaller kinds. Do then the larger acalepha in this zone
perform the office of the birds in the more southern one, and prey upon
the smaller species of their own kind?

The third zone is the one with which I have commenced the journal of this


November 29. Latitude 15 degrees 26 minutes 32 seconds south; longitude
122 degrees 3 minutes east.

We saw six or seven water snakes (Hydrus) this day, all about three feet
long, of a dirty yellow colour, with black stripes, the head black, they
were furnished with fins like an eel, were of a very graceful form, and
moved on the water exactly like a snake, with the head a little elevated;
when they dived they turned up on their backs before they sank: we caught
one of these snakes, also a moth and butterfly. A large bat (Pteropus ?)
flew about the vessel this evening and pitched several times on the boat
astern. I once struck it as it passed me, it appeared much fatigued; we
were 150 miles from the main and thirty from the nearest small sandy


We caught two sharks today; the sailors said that they saw fourteen or
fifteen little sharks swimming round one of these, and that when the bait
was thrown into the water and made a noise some of these swam into her
mouth: directly after they had told me this the shark was caught. I had
it opened and four young ones were found inside, two had never left the
uterus, for they were attached to it at the time, the other two were not
so attached, and were larger than the former, and swam well and strongly
when put into the water: whether or not they had ever left the mother I
cannot of course say. I have preserved two in spirits, one that was
attached and one that was not; two intestinal worms were found in the
stomach of one of the sharks.



November 29.

This morning at twenty minutes after nine, when in latitude 15 degrees 26
minutes 32 seconds and longitude 121 degrees 55 east, we suddenly made
the very unpleasant discovery that we were in the midst of shoals, owing
to some negligence in our lookout. This was not found out until we were
hemmed in between two, one lying not more than fifty fathoms from our
larboard quarter, and the other about three times the distance on the
starboard beam. I went up to the mast-head, and distinctly saw the rocks,
not more than two or three feet under water on the larboard side. We
fortunately passed through this danger without accident; and, directly we
cleared it, found bottom at twenty-five fathoms, coarse sand and shells.


December 2.

I was called at four A.M. to keep my watch, and, as soon as I had
ascertained that the men composing it were all present and at their
stations, I went up aloft, and as I anticipated a speck of land soon
appeared above the horizon. This was Red Island. Other points shortly
rose behind it: hill after hill came up into view, at a distance looking
like islands, which indeed many of them were; but, on a nearer approach,
the parts connecting the others became visible, and the mainland of this
vast insular continent gradually revealed itself to our anxious eyes.


We stood on until eleven A.M.; but in making land there always rests a
certain degree of anxiety upon the mind of the seaman and traveller, more
especially when that land is imperfectly known. As there appeared to be
every chance of our losing the sea-horizon, and consequently our noon
observation, if we stood on and the breeze continued, our course was
changed to the other tack until that hour; and then having correctly
ascertained our position, Red Island bearing south-east by east, distance
8 miles, we once more stood in for the land.

Red Island is small, rocky, and of no great elevation; its colour is a
very dark red; the sides are precipitous, and in its centre is a clump of
trees which cannot be seen until you have run by the island, as it falls
gradually from the south-west to the north-east, so that the north-east
side is the least elevated. We sounded when about seven miles to the
north-west of it, and found bottom at twenty-five fathoms, of green sandy

The sandbank laid down on the Admiralty charts to the north-east of Red
Island is small and barren; it is very low, and at some distance looks
like a white rock in the water; being apparently an island formed of the
same rock as the former, and topped with quartz or white sand. In
entering Hanover Bay, or Port George the Fourth, a good course is to run
nearly midway between this and Red Island. At sunset we anchored off
Entrance Island (Port George the Fourth) in twenty-five fathoms water.


At the first streak of dawn I leant over the vessel's side to gaze upon
those shores I had so longed to see. I had not anticipated that they
would present any appearance of inviting fertility; but I was not
altogether prepared to behold so arid and barren a surface as that which
now met my view. In front of me stood a line of lofty cliffs,
occasionally broken by sandy beaches; on the summits of these cliffs and
behind the beaches rose rocky sandstone hills, very thinly wooded. Whilst
I mused on this prospect, all hands were busied in getting the vessel
under weigh, which was soon accomplished; but there was little or no
wind, and the ship lay almost motionless upon the waters.


By ten o'clock however we were abreast of High Bluff Point and, as there
appeared to be little chance of our having even a gentle breeze for some
time, I determined to land with a party at the Point, and to walk from
thence to Hanover Bay, where on our arrival we could make a signal to the
vessel for a boat to reconvey us on board. By the adoption of this course
I hoped to be able at once to select a spot affording water and forage,
in the neighbourhood of which the sheep and stores might be landed; the
vessel could then proceed without delay to the Island of Timor to procure
the requisite number of ponies for our expedition, and, if she made a
quick passage there and back, I trusted, notwithstanding the numerous
unforeseen delays that had arisen, we might yet be able to start for the
interior before the rainy season set in.


The necessary orders were soon given: the boat was lowered and, whilst
the party prepared themselves, I went below to arrange with the master
the precise spot at which the vessel was to anchor in order that no
mistake might occur upon so vital a point. This done, I returned once
more on deck, and found all ready for departure.

The party to land consisted of Mr. Lushington, Mr. Walker, and three men
who were selected to accompany us. I also brought away three of the dogs,
to whom I was anxious to give a run after their long confinement on

The shore for which we pulled was not more than half a mile distant, and
we soon gained the edge of a sandy beach, on which I sprang, eagerly
followed by the rest; every eye beaming with delight and hope,
unconscious as we were how soon our trials were to commence.


I soon found that we had landed under very unfavourable circumstances.
The sun was intensely hot. The long and close confinement on board a
small vessel had unfitted us all for taking any violent or continued
exercise without some previous training, and the country in which we had
landed was of a more rocky and precipitous character than any I had ever
before seen; indeed I could not more accurately describe the hills than
by saying that they appeared to be the ruins of hills; composed as they
were of huge blocks of red sandstone, confusedly piled together in loose
disorder, and so overgrown with spinifex and scrub that the interstices
wore completely hidden, and into these one or other of the party was
continually slipping and falling.

The trees were small, and their foliage so scant and slight that they
afforded no shelter whatever from the burning rays of the sun; which
appeared to strike up again from the sandstone with redoubled heat, so
that it was really painful to touch or to stand upon a bare rock: we
therefore kept moving onwards in the hope of meeting with some spot
favourable for a halting place; but the difficult nature of the ground
which we had to cross rendered our progress slow and oppressively

A feeling of thirst and lassitude such as I had never before experienced
soon began to overcome all of us; for such a state of things we had
unfortunately landed quite unprepared, having only two pints of water
with us, a portion of which it was necessary to give to the dogs; who
apparently suffered from the heat in an equal degree with ourselves.
These distressing symptoms I can only ascribe to the extreme heat of the
sun reflected from the sandstone rocks, and our previous long confinement
on board.


Our small supply of water, although but sparingly used, was soon
exhausted; and the symptoms of lassitude, before so excessive, now became
far worse. As usual, the endurance of the animals gave way before that of
the men. We had not completed more than a mile of our route (although it
was far more if the ascents and descents were taken into account) when
Ranger, a very fine young dog, dropped behind some rocks, and although we
turned back to look for him directly he was missed he could not be found.

The next to give way was Ringhalz, a fine Cape buck-hound; he fell
amongst the rocks, and died almost instantly. The only dog now left was a
greyhound, who manifested his extreme distress by constantly lying down.
For some time we dragged him along, but he was at last from necessity
abandoned. The cry of water was at length raised by one of the party, and
immediately afterwards we found ourselves on the edge of a deep ravine,
the precipitous sides of which were composed of nearly horizontal layers
of red sandstone. Down these some of us contrived to scramble, although
not without difficulty; but on reaching the bottom we had the
mortification to find the water salt; and as it would have been very
laborious to follow its course along the bottom of the ravine over the
mud, mangroves, and rocks which filled it, we had the pleasure of
scrambling up again as we best could.

For some short time we remained seated on the edge of the cliffs above
the ravine; but as there was no shelter here from the sun's rays, and the
pangs of thirst were pressing, I roused the men at last, and moved on
again, following the course of the ravine upwards. We had not walked more
than half a mile when the salt water inlet terminated and the bed of the
ravine became thickly wooded. At the moment we gained this point some
white cockatoos came soaring upwards from beneath our feet; and, as we
knew that this was an infallible sign of the presence of water, we
descended again to renew our search for it.


Our efforts this time were successful: in a few minutes we found a pool
of brackish water which appeared, under the present circumstances, to
afford the most delicious draughts, and, having drunk, we lay down by the
pool to rest ourselves. Being however doubtful as to which was the best
route to lead us out of the ravine we were now in, I walked up its
course, accompanied by Corporal Coles, leaving the others to rest
themselves, and soon reached its head; when we found ourselves in a small
but fertile valley, surrounded on all sides by rocky hills. Here were
many tracks of natives, and we came upon one of their regular haunts,
where they had arranged a circle of large flat stones round a fireplace
occupying the centre; on each of these stones was laid a smaller one,
evidently used for the purpose of breaking small shellfish, for the
remains of the shells were lying scattered about in all directions;*
kangaroo bones were also plentifully strewed about, and beside each pair
of stones was laid a large shell, probably used as a drinking cup.

(*Footnote. We found the marks of an encampment of a tribe of natives.
Eight or nine spots were cleared away amongst the grass, and in the
centre of each were the ashes of a small fire, close to which we noticed
some loose flattened stones with a smaller one lying upon them, which the
natives probably used for the purpose of bruising or grinding the seeds
of plants and breaking shellfish. King's Survey of Australia volume 1
page 302.)


Natives had been at this spot within the last day or two, and we followed
their traces, which were quite recent, across a dry watercourse till they
led to a hut built of a framework of logs of wood, and in shape like a
beehive, about four feet high and nine in diameter. This hut was of a
very superior description to those I found afterwards to be generally in
use in South-Western Australia, and differed from them altogether in that
its low and narrow entrance rendered access impossible without stooping;
and with the exception of this aperture the hut was entirely closed.


Considering that the best route out of these ravines would be by this
valley, I returned with Coles to the party, whom we found much refreshed
and, having consulted with Mr. Lushington as to the route we should
follow to the vessel after reaching the valley, we once more moved on;
but the same symptoms of lassitude and thirst began very soon again to
afflict us in an aggravated form; probably from the brackish water we had
all swallowed. In less than two hours more these symptoms became so
distressing that I could scarcely induce the men to move, and we
therefore halted under the shade of some high rocks.

It was now growing late, and the nature of the country was so rocky and
difficult that I thought it would be impossible for us to attempt to
march in the night-time; whilst on the other hand the men seemed so
completely worn out that I feared another day without fresh water would
be more than they could bear. I therefore became anxious to make the sea
coast before nightfall, considering that we could easily walk along the
shore after dark and fire a gun as a signal to the schooner to send a
boat for us. With this view therefore I moved on towards the sea,
requesting Mr. Lushington, when I fired, to follow my course with the

As I walked ahead I found the country very rocky, with lofty bare
pinnacles standing up every here and there in the forest, one or two of
which I climbed, but could see nothing of the vessel. I now fired a
signal shot which, being answered by another from the party, I knew that
they were on my traces, and again moved on towards the sea. I presently
fired again, as I thought that they might augur favourably from the
report, and continued occasionally to do so until I had reached the

The cliffs were so steep that I found some difficulty in descending, but
directly I had gained the sea beach I pulled off my clothes and plunged
into the water: the quantity of moisture taken into the system by
absorption as I lay in the sea soon relieved my burning thirst, and by
the time that the first of the party (Corporal Coles) came up I was quite
recovered. He followed my example and soon began to revive also. The
remainder of the party now arrived with Mr. Lushington, who had found
much difficulty in getting them along. Of his exertions under these
trying circumstances I cannot speak too highly. But for his persuasion
and example I think two of the men were so exhausted that they would
before this have given up in despair.

Corporal Coles being now nearly recovered I left the rest of the party
under Mr. Lushington to follow the plan of refreshing themselves by
immersion in the sea and, as two men appeared to me to be very ill, I
arranged with him that he should keep the whole together and, as soon as
he considered them sufficiently recovered, they should follow myself and
Coles; whilst we preceded them along the beach for the purpose of sending
a boat back from the Lynher to pick them up.


I accordingly started with Coles and had not proceeded more than a mile
when we found two huts (one in ruins and the other complete) of exactly
the same size and form as that which we had seen in the morning: the
recent track of a native along the beach close to these was also visible.
In another half mile our progress was arrested by an arm of the sea,
about four or five hundred yards across, from which the tide was running
out with fearful rapidity; and on the opposite cliffs we observed a
native watching our movements.

As night was coming rapidly on it was necessary for me to decide at once
what I should do. Coles was unable to swim. If therefore I crossed the
stream it must be alone: to do so with natives on the opposite bank, of
whose intentions towards us we were entirely ignorant, was not without
considerable danger; yet I was very unwilling to leave the men in such a
state of suffering from thirst when I was so near the schooner, from
whence their wants could be supplied. Whilst I was debating what to do
Coles kept firing his gun in hopes that they might hear the report on
board and send a boat to our relief; in vain however we strained our
ears, the report of Coles's gun was reverberated from cliff to cliff and
from hill to hill, but no answering sound came back across the tranquil

In the meantime I felt more and more anxious about the portion of the
party who were with Mr. Lushington, having left with them certain orders
and promised to send a boat up to them; on which promise all their
further movements would be regulated. The beach near us afforded no wood
wherewith to make a fire as a signal to the schooner; the cliffs
hereabouts were too precipitous to climb; and it was evident that but
very few of the party could swim so broad a space of water; granting that
they ever reached so far as the point where Coles and myself now were.


I therefore determined to run all risks, and swim the arm of the sea
which stopped our way.

I directed Coles to wait until the others came up and then to remain with
them until I returned in a boat. From the rugged nature of the shore I
could not have walked a yard without shoes, so I kept them on, as well as
my shirt and military cap, and I took a pistol in one hand as a means of
defence against the natives, or else to fire it when I reached a spot
where it could be seen or heard from the vessel.

I plunged in and very soon found myself caught in a tideway so violent
that resistance to its force, so as either to get on or return, appeared
at the moment hopeless.* My left hand, in which I held the pistol, was
called into requisition to save my life; for the stream washed the cap
from my head and, the cap then filling with water, and being carried down
by the strong current, the chin-strap caught round my neck and nearly
throttled me as I dragged it after me through the water; whilst the loose
folds of my shirt, being washed out to seawards by the tide, kept getting
entangled with my arm. I grew weak and faint but still swam my best, and
at last I providentially reached a reef of rocks which projected from the
opposite shore, and to which I clung until I had somewhat regained my

(*Footnote. I should state that the rise and fall of tide here is
thirty-eight feet.)


I then clambered up on the rocks, and from thence made my way to the
beach; but no sooner had I gained it than I heard a native call from the
top of the cliffs, and the answering cries of his comrades rang through
the wood as they followed me along; my pistol was so thoroughly soaked in
my passage across the inlet that it was quite useless except as a club.
To attempt to swim back again after the narrow escape I had just had
would have been madness; besides which if I had succeeded I should have
lost the object for which I had put my life at hazard. Nothing therefore
was left but to walk along shore to the schooner, trusting, in my
defenceless state, that I might not fall in with any natives. It was now
dark and the shore was so broken and rocky that I got terribly cut and
bruised, and was, moreover, so weak from my exertions in swimming that
when I arrived opposite the vessel I could scarcely hail. Some of those
on board however heard me (as I found afterwards) and shouted in reply;
but their voices never reached my ears, and I imagined they were too far
for I could not now see the vessel.

I made one or two more efforts to hail the Lynher, but the noise I made
had now attracted the notice of the natives and I heard their cries in
several directions round me; this rendered my situation an unpleasant one
for I was worn out, naked, and defenceless: at first I thought to return
and rejoin my party, and even turned back for a short distance with this
intention, but I found myself too weak for such an undertaking and
changed my plans; resolving to remain nearly opposite to the vessel until
the morning, and resting my chance of safety upon being discovered from
it before the natives found me.


With this intent I returned to the position from which I had lately
hailed, and crept into a hole in the rocks whence I could still
occasionally hear the calls of the natives; but, being thoroughly worn
out, I soon forgot my toils and dangers in a very sound and comfortable
sleep. I might have slept for some two hours when I was roused by hearing
a voice shout "Mr. Grey;" still however feeling rather distrustful of the
truth of my mental impressions, and unwilling to betray my whereabouts to
the natives, I returned no answer, but, putting out my head from my
secret place of rest, I waited patiently for a solution of my doubts. But
again I certainly heard the same voice shout "Mr. Grey," and I moreover
now distinctly recognised the noise of oars working in the rowlocks; I
therefore hailed "Lynher, ahoy," and all my doubts were completely put at
rest by the hearty cheers which greeted my ear as Mr. Smith, the mate of
the schooner, called out, "Where shall we pull in, Sir?"


In a few minutes more I was in the boat, and rejoiced to find all the
party safely there before me. My next question was, "Have you a little
water here?" "Plenty, Sir," answered Corporal Cole as he handed me a
little, which I greedily swallowed.

Their adventures were soon related to me. The party under Mr. Lushington,
being on an exposed part of the coast, the flash of their guns had been
seen after dark, and the Captain despatched a boat from the schooner to
pull along shore. This boat first of all found Coles near where I had
quitted him, and he directed them to the others; the boat, having picked
them up, then returned for Coles, and heard from him the intentions with
which I had attempted to swim the arm of the sea; but as he had never
seen me reach the opposite bank, and the inlet was of very considerable
width, they had, up to the moment of finding me, felt very serious
misgivings as to my fate.

I did not know till afterwards that the water Corporal Coles had handed
to me on entering the boat was all they had on board when he was picked
up, and that, although suffering severely from thirst, Coles would not
touch a drop as long as he retained any hope that I might be found and be
in want of it.


We were now however safe again, and as all had borne themselves well
under the difficulties to which they had been exposed, more particularly
Mr. Lushington, to whom the credit is due of having, by his personal
example and influence, successfully brought on the party to the point of
their embarkation, it was now pleasant to revert to the trials we had
passed, and to recall to one another's recollection each minute
circumstance of our day's adventures; and when we were again on board and
had turned in for the night I could not help feeling a deep sense of
gratitude to that Providence who, in so brief a space, had preserved me
through so many perils.



December 4.

To sleep after sunrise was impossible on account of the number of flies
which kept buzzing about the face. To open our mouths was dangerous. In
they flew, and mysteriously disappeared, to be rapidly ejected again in a
violent fit of coughing; and into the eyes, when unclosed, they soon
found their way and, by inserting the proboscis and sucking, speedily
made them sore; neither were the nostrils safe from their attacks, which
were made simultaneously on all points, and in multitudes. This was a
very troublesome annoyance, but I afterwards found it to be a very
general one throughout all the unoccupied portions of Australia; although
in general the further north you go in this continent the more
intolerable does the fly nuisance become.

Sunrise offered a very beautiful spectacle; the water was quite
unruffled, but the motion communicated by the tides was so great that,
although there was not a breath of air stirring, the sea heaved slowly
with a grand and majestic motion. On two sides the view was bounded by
lofty cliffs, from three to four hundred feet high, lightly wooded at
their summits, and broken by wide openings, into which ran arms of the
sea, forming gloomy channels of communication with the interior country;
whilst on each side of their entrances the huge cliffs rose, like the
pillars of some gigantic portal.

In front of us lay a smooth sandy beach, beyond which rose gradually a
high wooded country, and behind us was the sea, studded with numerous
islands of every variety of form.


I was too much tired by the fatigues of the night before to enjoy the
scene with the full delight I should otherwise have done; the bruises I
had received made me feel so stiff and sore that the slightest movement
was painful; the rainy season was however now so near that it would not
do to lose a single day of preparation. Directly after breakfast
therefore, whilst one boat went off to search for fresh water and a
convenient spot to land the stores at, I accompanied the Captain of the
vessel in another up Prince Regent's River.


In general the openings to these rivers from the sea are very narrow,
forming gorges which terminate in extensive basins, some fifteen or
twenty miles inland; the levels of these reservoirs are subject to be
raised thirty-seven feet by every tide through their funnel-like
entrances, along which the waters consequently pour with a velocity of
which it is difficult to form any adequate idea. By such a tide were we
swept along as we entered this river by its southern mouth.

On each side of us rose lofty red sandstone cliffs; sometimes quite
precipitous, sometimes, from ancient landslips, shelving gradually down
to the water, and at these points covered with a dense tropical


At several such places we landed, but always found the ascent to the
interior so covered with large loose rocks that it would have been
impossible to have disembarked stores or stock on any. The thickness of
the vegetation made it difficult to force a way through, and whenever, in
attempting so to do, a tree was shaken, numbers of a large green sort of
ant fell from the boughs on the unhappy trespasser and, making the best
of their way to the back of his neck, gave warning by a series of most
painful bites that he was encroaching on their domain. Yet it was
sometimes ludicrous to see one of the party momentarily stamping and
roaring with pain, as he cried out to a companion to hasten and assist
him in getting rid of an enemy at once so diminutive and so troublesome.


We saw a great number of beautiful parakeets, as well as a remarkable
hawk of a bright cinnamon colour, with a milk-white head and neck. As
there was no apparent probability of our finding hereabouts a spot suited
to land our stock and stores at we returned in the afternoon to the
schooner, and found that the party in the other boat had been as
unsuccessful as ourselves.


December 5.

The long-boat was this morning despatched to the ravine where we had
procured water on the first day of our landing to bring a few casks for
immediate use, and to examine the country again in that direction; whilst
I accompanied the Captain to examine the inlet at which Captain King had
watered in his visit to these parts, in 1821.


The approach to this watering-place was through a deep narrow channel,
bounded on each side by high cliffs, against which our voices echoed and
sounded strangely; whilst from the quantity of light which the cliffs
excluded a solemn sombre hue was imparted to the scene. Channels similar
to the main one branched off on each side; they were however so narrow
that the dense vegetation which grew on their sides nearly met in the
centre, giving them an appearance of dark and refreshing coolness; most
of these terminated in cascades, now dry, but down which the water in the
rainy seasons pours in torrents: at the foot of some of these cascades
were deep cavities, or natural basins, worn in the solid rock by the
falling of the water, and these were still full of the clearest cool
water, in which sported small insects and animals of kinds quite unknown
to me.

As we were swept up the main opening by the tide and sea-breeze its width
gradually contracted, till at last we came to a small island bearing a
single large mangrove tree, which we named One Tree Island. The shores
now became thickly wooded with mangroves, from the boughs of which
depended in clusters small but well-flavoured oysters, and soon after
passing the island we found our farther progress arrested by large
rounded blocks of sandstone, from amongst which fresh water came pouring
in a hundred little cascades.


We here quitted the boat to enter a deep and picturesque ravine, of which
the mean breadth was only one hundred and forty-seven feet, bounded on
each side by perpendicular cliffs from one hundred and fifty to two
hundred feet high; in the centre ran a clear stream, sometimes forming
deep and extensive pools, sometimes divided into innumerable little rills
which gurgled along through a dense and matted vegetation; and bordered
on each side of the main bed by a lofty species of Eucalyptus, with a
bark resembling layers of coarse white paper, and a foliage pendant and
graceful; whilst the great height of these trees for they raised their
heads above the cliffs, contrasted strangely with the narrowness of the
ravine in which they grew. The space between these trees and the cliffs
was filled by a dense forest, principally composed of the Pandanus and
wild nutmeg trees. Rich grasses and climbing plants occupied the interval
and twined around the trees, whilst parakeets of the most vivid colours
filled the wood with their cries. Nothing could be more striking than
this singular and novel scene; and we were all delighted as we wound our
way up the beautiful ravine.

The same character continued for the next mile or two, whilst
occasionally branch valleys of similar character ran off from a main one,
giving it at these points a much greater width. The summit of the cliffs
was found to be generally a rocky sandy tableland, thinly wooded; and
from what I had seen it appeared to me that I was not likely to find a
place better adapted for landing the stores than the main ravine.

On embarking to return we could perceive no sign of One Tree Island; and
as we swept down towards the sea the leafy top of a tree seen in the
clear water under the boat was the only evidence of its existence; though
a few hours ago it had formed so prominent an object.


The long-boat returned to the vessel half an hour after us and brought
eighty gallons of water; but the spot whence it was obtained had been
found very inconvenient for the purpose. At the waterhole they had met
Ranger, the dog we lost the first day; but he appeared quite mad, and
without recognising any of them ran wildly away into the woods. The body
of poor Ringhalz was also found, who had died on the spot where he fell.


December 6.

A party landed with me soon after dawn at the same point as yesterday,
for the purpose of selecting the spot at which to fix our temporary
encampment. We traced the valley for about four miles through scenery
precisely similar to that which we had found before; many branch valleys
ran of from the main one and differed from it in no other respect but
that they were much narrower. The most favourable spot I could find for
our purpose was distant about half a mile from the landing-place and
situated at the junction of two valleys, upon a neck of land which ran
out from the base of the cliffs. This was the nearest point to the sea at
which we should have been safe from any sudden inundation; it combined,
moreover, the advantages of affording a good supply of food and water for
the stock, of not being within reach of missiles thrown from the cliffs,
and at the same time of being situated close to an easy ascent to their
summit. I should have preferred pitching the encampment on the tableland
at the top, but the labour of carrying the stores up so precipitous an
ascent would have been too great for the men, and would have delayed our
movements for a longer time than I thought prudent.


Having selected the point for our encampment the next task was to form a
pathway to and from the landing-place; and this, on account of the rocky,
broken nature of the ground, was one of no slight difficulty. We first
set fire to the bush, and being thus enabled to see our way a little we
commenced moving the rocks and stones, and continued this operation until
near sunset, when we returned on board.


December 7.

We landed again early this morning and went on working at the pathway.
The men dined on shore at noon, about which time it was nearly low-water.
We had repeatedly seen footmarks of the natives in the mud, and this
probably was a favourite fishing resort of theirs, for this day they came
upon the cliffs over our heads and shouted at us, as if to try and
frighten us away. Finding however that this produced no effect, they
threw down some large stones at us and then decamped.

In the course of the night (2 A.M.) we had one of those sudden heavy
squalls from off the land which are so common on this coast. I slept on
deck and was called to hear a loud roaring on the shore: this was
evidently the noise of a rushing wind, which gradually drew nearer and
nearer and at last reached us, accompanied by lightning, thunder, and
heavy rain; it did not however last for more than twenty minutes, and we
received no damage from it.

December 8.

Whilst the party continued the pathway I landed on the sandy beach and
explored the interior of the country for several miles. We found but very
little fresh water and the country was dreadfully burnt up; the heavy
rain which had fallen last night however gave signs of the approach of
the wet season. We passed several dry watercourses, in many of which we
dug for it, but all that we obtained was brackish. We had another squall
this afternoon, similar to last night's.


December 9.

This day we pitched the tents, disembarked the sheep and goats, and some
of the stores. It was no slight pleasure to see for the first time those
animals landed on a new country, and they appeared themselves to rejoice
in their escape from the close confinement on shipboard.

We here first hoisted the British flag, and went through the ceremony of
taking possession of the territory in the name of Her Majesty and her
heirs for ever.

The next few days were passed in moving the stores from the landing-place
to the tent; as it was necessary that before I allowed the schooner to
start we should be amply provided with all necessaries so as to be able
to maintain ourselves for some time, in the event of anything happening
to the vessel: this was very fatiguing work for the whole party but they
all exerted themselves with the most strenuous energy, especially Mr.
Lushington; and our labours were varied by several amusing novelties
which relieved the monotony of the employment.


Sometimes as we sat at our dinner near the landing-place we watched a
strange species of fish (genus Chironectes, Cuvier). These little animals
are provided with arms, at least with members shaped like such as far as
the elbow, but the lower part resembles a fin; they are amphibious,
living equally well on the mud or in the water; in moving in the mud they
walk, as it were, on their elbows, and the lower arm or fin then projects
like a great splay foot; but in swimming the whole of this apparatus is
used as a fin. They have also the property of being able to bury
themselves almost instantaneously in the soft mud when disturbed. The
uncouth gambols and leaps of these anomalous creatures were very

Another remarkable fish was a species of mullet which, being left by the
retreat of the high tides in the pools beyond the rounded rocks at the
head of the landing-place, was obliged to change its element from salt to
fresh water, which by a very remarkable habit it appeared to do without
suffering any inconvenience. The natural hue of this fish was a very pale
red, but when they had been for some time in the fresh water this reddish
tinge became much deeper, and when of this colour I have found them in
streams a considerable distance from the sea, as if, like our salmon,
they had quitted it for the purpose of spawning. Indeed birds, insects,
and all things we saw, were so new and singular that our attention was
kept constantly excited by the varied objects which passed before us.

December 11.

I went on board in the morning for the purpose of preparing my letters,
and about 10 A.M. it was reported to me that a party of natives had come
down to one of the sandy beaches and were fishing there. I immediately
went upon deck and saw four natives in the sea opposite to the beach,
running about and fishing. Captain Browne went on shore at once with me
to try and parley with them, but as we approached the land they ran away;
we remained for some time on the beach and tried to follow their tracks
up into the country, but could see nothing more of them.

This night at 8 P.M. we had another sudden squall from off the land,
accompanied with thunder, lightning, and heavy rain; it blew so hard that
we were obliged to let go the best bower anchor, but as usual it only
lasted twenty minutes.


As Mr. Lushington was to accompany the schooner to Timor, and I was
anxious to ascertain which would be the best direction for us to move off
in on his return, I determined to commence my exploring trips as soon as
possible. All hands still continued busily engaged in landing the stores
and conveying them to the tents; but though the men worked hard our
progress was slow. Everything had to be carried on the men's shoulders,
for the path, after the great trouble and labour we had bestowed on it,
was still so intricate and rocky that it was impossible to use even a
hand-barrow. The intense heat of the sun, too, incommoded the men very
much at first; but by the 16th of December all the stores were landed,
and a considerable supply of water was taken off to the vessel. I
determined therefore now to start in my first exploring excursion,
leaving to Mr. Lushington the task of seeing the watering of the schooner
completed before he left for Timor.



Sunday December 17.

This morning directly after breakfast I read prayers to the men, and then
commenced my preparations for the excursion on which I intended to start
in the evening. Whilst I was occupied in arranging my papers Mr.
Lushington observed two natives sitting on the rocks on the top of the
cliffs which overlooked the valley, and gazing down intently on us. The
instant that he made friendly signs to them they rose from their seats
and began to retreat. Some of the party then called to them and one of
the natives answered; but they still moved rapidly away. I would not
allow them to be followed for fear of increasing their alarm, and in the
hope that they would return, but was disappointed. It must have awakened
strange feelings in the breast of these two savages, who could never
before have seen civilized man, thus to have sat spectators and
overlookers of the every action of such incomprehensible beings as we
must have appeared; and the relation to their comrades of the wonders
they had witnessed could not have been to them a whit less marvellous
than the tales of the grey-headed Irish peasant, when he recounts the
freaks of the fairies, "whose midnight revels by the forest side or
fountain" he has watched intently from some shrub-clad hill.


I started in the evening, accompanied by Corporal John Coles and Private
R. Mustard, both of the corps of Royal Sappers and Miners, and for a
short distance by two or three others of the party from the camp. We
moved up the ravine in which we were encamped in a nearly due south
direction, and after following this course about a mile turned up a
branch ravine to the left, bearing 87 degrees from the north.


The romantic scenery of this narrow glen could not be surpassed. Its
width at bottom was not more than forty or fifty feet, on each side rose
cliffs of sandstone between three and four hundred feet high and nearly
perpendicular; lofty paper-bark trees grew here and there, and down the
middle ran a beautiful stream of clear, cool water, which now gushed
along, a murmuring mountain torrent, and anon formed a series of small
cascades. As we ascended higher the width contracted; the paper-bark
trees disappeared; and the bottom of the valley became thickly wooded
with wild nutmeg and other fragrant trees. Cockatoos soared, with hoarse
screams, above us, many-coloured parakeets darted away, filling the woods
with their playful cries, and the large white pigeons which feed on the
wild nutmegs cooed loudly to their mates, and battered the boughs with
their wings as they flew away.

The spot I chose to halt at for the night was at the foot of a lofty
precipice of rocks, from which a spring gushed forth. Those who had
accompanied us from the camp now returned, leaving me and the two
soldiers alone and about to penetrate some distance into an utterly
unknown country. We were each provided with ten days' provisions and,
confident in the steadiness and courage of my men, I had not the
slightest anxiety--feeling that as long as we maintained a cool and
determined bearing the natives would make no attacks upon us that we
could not repel.

We soon erected a little hut of bark, then kindled a fire and cooked our
supper, consisting of tea and two white pigeons which we had shot; and by
the time our repast was finished it was nearly dark. My companions laid
down to sleep: I remained up for a short time to think alone in the
wilderness, and then followed their example.


December 18.

At break of day we were again upon our route, which lay up the valley we
had slept in; but, as each of us carried ten days' provisions and a day's
water, besides our arms, the progress we made in a tropical climate, when
thus laden, was necessarily slow and laborious; but the beauty of the
landscape and the solicitude we all felt to see more of this unexplored
land cheered us on.


Having at length reached the tableland which this valley drained we found
ourselves in the midst of a forest, differing widely from anything we had
before seen. The soil beneath our feet was sandy and thickly clothed with
spinifex (a prickly grass) which in spite of our thick trousers slightly
but continually wounded our legs. The trees were lofty and some of them
of considerable circumference; but the trunks of all were charred and
blackened by constant fires: this circumstance, and their slight and
thin, yet strikingly graceful foliage, gave them a most picturesque

Every here and there in the wood rose lofty and isolated pinnacles of
sandstone rock, fantastic in form, and frequently overgrown with graceful
creeping and climbing plants which imparted to them a somewhat of mystery
and elegance. In other parts rose the gigantic ant-hills so much spoken
of by former visitors of these shores; and in the distance we saw
occasionally the forms of the timid kangaroos, who stole fearfully away
from the unknown disturbers of their solitude.


But when we arrived at the extremity of the tableland I felt somewhat
disappointed at beholding a deep narrow ravine at my feet, precisely
resembling in character the one we had left, and beyond this a second
sandstone range, wooded as that on which we stood; in about half an hour
we gained the bottom of the ravine and found that a rapid stream ran
through it, which, being the first we had discovered, I named the
Lushington, after the father of my associate in this expedition, and in
accordance with a determination I had made before starting.

Mustard (one of the men with me) being ill, I determined to halt here for
breakfast and, having completed this meal, I was sorry to find that he
was still too unwell to proceed; such however being the case I was
compelled to halt for the day: leaving Coles therefore to take care of
him, I strolled off to explore the valley alone. Except in being much
larger it differed in no respect from the first in which we encamped, and
I found that within about half a mile below the spot where I had left the
men it terminated in a salt-water inlet, nearly choked up with mangroves.
On returning to them I found Mustard somewhat better; to our annoyance
however heavy rain set in, accompanied by thunder and lightning; and as
we had no shelter but what some overhanging rocks afforded us we passed a
very uncomfortable night.

December 19.

Mustard was still not quite well; we therefore started late and travelled
slowly, keeping nearly in a south-east direction. We thus gradually
ascended the second sandstone range, the summit of which was a tableland,
at this point about half a mile wide.


We here remarked a very curious circumstance. Several acres of land on
this elevated position were nearly covered with lofty isolated sandstone
pillars of the most grotesque and fantastic shapes, from which the
imagination might easily have pictured to itself forms equally singular
and amusing. In one place was a regular unroofed aisle, with a row of
massive pillars on each side; and in another there stood upon a pedestal
what appeared to be the legs of an ancient statue, from which the body
had been knocked away.

Some of these time-worn columns were covered with sweet-smelling
creepers, while their bases were concealed by a dense vegetation, which
added much to their very singular appearance. The height of two or three
which I measured was upwards of forty feet; and, as the tops of all of
them were nearly upon the same level, that of the surrounding country
must at one period have been as high as their present summits, probably
much higher.

From the top of one of these pillars I surveyed the surrounding country
and saw on every side proofs of the same extensive degradation--so
extensive, indeed, that I found it very difficult to account for; but the
gurgling of water, which I heard beneath me, soon put an end to the state
of perplexity in which I was involved, for I ascertained that streams
were running in the earth beneath my feet; and, on descending and
creeping into a fissure in the rocks, I found beneath the surface a
cavern precisely resembling the remains that existed above ground, only
that this was roofed, whilst through it ran a small stream which in the
rainy season must become a perfect torrent. It was now evident to me that
ere many years had elapsed the roof would give way, and what now were the
buttresses of dark and gloomy caverns would emerge into day and become
columns clad in green, and resplendent in the bright sunshine.


In this state they would gradually waste away beneath the ever-during
influence of atmospheric causes, and the material being then carried down
by the streams, through a series of caverns resembling those of which
they once formed a portion, would be swept out into the ocean and
deposited on sandbanks, to be raised again, at some remote epoch, a new
continent, built up with the ruins of an ancient world.

I subsequently, during the season of the heavy rains, remarked the usual
character of the mountain streams to be that they rose at the foot of
some little elevation which stood upon a lofty tableland composed of
sandstone, then flowed in a sandy bed for a short distance and afterwards
mysteriously sank in the cracks and crevices made in the rocks from
atmospheric influences, and did not again reappear until they had reached
the foot of the precipice which terminated the tableland whence they
sprang; here they came foaming out in a rapid stream which had
undoubtedly worked strange havoc in the porous sandstone rocks among
which it held its subterraneous course.

What the amount of sand annually carried down from the north-western
portion of Australia into the ocean may be we have no means whatever of
ascertaining; that it is sufficient to form beds of sand of very great
magnitude is attested by the existence of numerous and extensive
sandbanks all along the coast. One single heavy tropical shower of only a
few hours' duration washed down, over a plot of ground which was planted
with barley, a bed of sand nearly five inches deep, which the succeeding
showers again swept off, carrying it further upon its way towards the

The space of ground covered with these columns gradually contracted its
dimensions as we proceeded; the columns themselves became nearer and
nearer to each other until they at length formed walls of cliffs on each
side of us, and we finally reached a point where a single lofty pillar,
standing in front of a dry cascade, formed the centre of an amphitheatre
of sandstone. There was some water in a little natural basin at the base
of the cliffs. I determined therefore to halt here for breakfast and,
leaving the men at the foot of the cascade to prepare some tea, I
clambered to its summit, and found myself on another tableland similar to
that which I had just left, and covered in the same manner with natural


Some distance from the top of the cascade I discovered a cavern, or
rather huge hole in the water-course, into which, thinking it might
contain fossil bones, I descended as far as the first ledge, and I then
perceived that the water pouring through this cavern in the rainy season
was cutting off another rock of sandstone similar to the remarkable
pillar in front of the cascade. The water in the basin below must have
filtered out from this cavern. On a further examination I found that a
precisely similar series of operations was going on throughout the whole
amphitheatre of cliffs which bounded the tableland we had been traversing
during the morning.

In the rainy season (March 7th) I again passed this spot and found the
watercourse full of water, which was also falling abundantly from the
cascade. From this circumstance I inferred that the subterraneous outlets
for the water were all filled, consequently the large body which these
caverns would contain must have been then endeavouring to force its way
through the fissures in the porous sandstone rocks.


After breakfast we continued on our route through a sandstone country
precisely resembling the one which I have now described, and in the
course of the day, having completed fifteen miles in a straight line, we
halted for the night in a fertile valley affording plenty of fresh water,
and so densely wooded with the dwarf pandanus and other prickly trees
that we could scarcely make our way through the underwood. In this valley
we saw several sorts of cranes, principally Ardea antigone, and Ardea
scolopacia, and I shot one of the former kind and laid it by, intending
to eat it in the morning. We could not find any holes in the rocks large
enough to protect us from the rain, which fell throughout the night,
accompanied by thunder and lightning.

December 20.

Just as we turned out this morning a large kangaroo came close to us to
drink at a waterhole; the effect as it stole along through the thick
bushes in the morning twilight was very striking. I could not succeed in
getting a shot at it; but, as I was determined to have a meat breakfast,
I desired Mustard to cook the crane, the rats however had eaten the
greater part of it; we therefore at once moved on and, after travelling
four miles in a south-east direction over good land, we reached a valley,
the largest and best I had yet seen, containing trees and birds such as
we had not before met with; kangaroos were more plentiful, and, for the
first time, we saw the opossum. The valley was more than a mile in width
at the point where we first made it, and we had but just time to cross it
and to gain the partial shelter of some rocks when heavy rain again set
in. We could keep no fire and, being soon wet through, passed a wretched

December 21.

We all today began to feel the want of food; since Sunday night we had
subsisted on nothing but rice and tea, and only in very small quantities
at a time, as the heavy rain had materially interrupted our cooking. As
there was plenty of game in this valley I determined to halt for a day
previously to my return to the party, for the double purpose of exploring
the valley and of shooting game.


The large bird which was the most abundant here was the Cuculus phasianus
or pheasant cuckoo. This bird in colour, in length of tail, in its size,
and general appearance so closely resembles the hen pheasant of England
that, when it is on the wing, it is almost impossible to tell the
difference; its habits and food are also identical with that of the
English pheasant. The chief point of distinction is that its toes point
two before and two behind, in the same manner as those of a parrot; but
what is very remarkable about this bird is that, although, like the other
Scansores, it delights in climbing and running up trees, it is equally
fond of running along the ground in the manner a pheasant does.


This day I found plenty of these birds in a cover of long dry grass and
bushes about half my height. From this kind of ground I descended to deep
lagoons in the bottoms, with rushes, reeds, and dense tropical vegetation
around them, amongst which the bamboo and pandanus bore a conspicuous
figure; as I beat this cover the pheasants, with their whirring noise,
rose on all sides of me, and my Westley Richards was kept in constant
operation. I never enjoyed a better day's pheasant shooting in any
preserve in England; and I may here remark that North-Western Australia
is as good a country for sport in the shooting way as I am acquainted
with; whilst for every kind of sport except wild-fowl shooting the
southern part of Australia is the worst country in the world. My bag
being full, and my companions very hungry, I had no excuse for staying
longer away from them, and therefore returned, although very loth to
leave such beautiful scenery and such excellent sport.


In the interval between the showers, and whilst the men were trying to
kindle a fire, I ascended a sandstone range under the shelter of some
rocks near the summit of which we were encamped; from this elevated
position I saw a far better country to the south of us than any we had
yet traversed; and the prospect was so cheering in this direction that I
felt assured, when it was once gained with the horses, we should be able
to travel on with comparative rapidity and facility.


Having emptied my bag I started again to commence the exploration of the
valley we were in. It sloped first in a north-easterly and then in a
nearly easterly direction; the river that ran through it was in some
places almost dry, or was rather a chain of large ponds than a river,
several of these ponds being more than a hundred yards across. I followed
the valley down for about five miles in the direction of Prince Regent's
River and found to my surprise that this part was by no means thinly
inhabited by natives; still, as none of the traces I had yet seen were
very recent, I trusted that we should not fall in with any considerable


At length however I came upon a spot which a number of them appeared to
have quitted only an hour or two before, and where they had been sitting
under a large tree at the edge of one of these ponds; their recent fire
had been first slaked with water and sand then thrown over it. I knew
therefore that they had been disturbed, and most probably by my gun; but
not before they had made a hearty meal of roasted fresh-water mussels
(unios) and nuts of a kind which grew on a large shady tree in pods, like
a tamarind pod, the kernel being contained in a shell, of which each pod
held several, and the fruit tasting exactly like filberts. The spot was
admirably suited for their purpose; their bark beds were placed under the
shelter of this tree and only a few yards distant from the pond, which
contained abundance of large unios.


I sat down under the nut tree to consider what was my best plan to adopt.
From the signs around us the natives were evidently much more numerous
than I had expected: in the event of anything happening to one of the
three our return to the main party might be considerably impeded, if not
altogether prevented; and although, from the superiority of our weapons
over theirs, I entertained but little doubt as to the issue of any
contest we might be forced into, the calls of humanity as well is of
personal interest warned me to do my utmost to avoid an affray.


I returned therefore to the party and, having made our dinner from
pheasant soup and birds which had been first split in two and then nicely
roasted on the ashes, we commenced our journey homewards, cautiously and
circumspectly, that we might run no risk of being surprised. Until the
evening began to close upon us we pursued our route through scenery
similar to that we had passed the day before, our course laying several
miles to the northward of our former track; and when we halted for the
night I carefully chose a good position and, mentioning my apprehensions
concerning the natives to the men in such a way as to put them on their
guard without exciting their alarm, we bivouacked for the night. Soon
after sunset the thunderstorms of the previous evening were renewed,
accompanied by tremendous rain. This was unfortunate as it rendered it
nearly impossible for us to keep our arms in an efficient state.

December 22.

After passing a wretched and uncomfortable night we started before dawn,
pursuing a direction about west by north, and passed one of the openings
from Prince Regent's River laid down in Captain King's chart, and there
left without a termination, which I had thus an opportunity of fixing.
Having completed about six miles I halted for breakfast. No signs
whatever of the natives had been again seen; this restored my confidence
and, as the sun was intensely hot and we were much fatigued, we lay about
in rather a careless and imprudent way. Fortunately the gathering clouds
prognosticated that we should soon have rain; and, as we could get no
good shelter where we were, I ordered the men to move on: we had just
gained the top of the range when a violent storm of rain overtook us, I
therefore doubled back about a hundred yards to the left of our former
track to gain some rocks forming a portion of a detached group upon a
tableland, and which I had observed as we passed them.


Scarcely had we reached these rocks, and sheltered ourselves under the
overhanging projections, when I saw a savage advancing with a spear in
his right hand, and a bundle of similar weapons in his left; he was
followed by a party of thirteen others, and with them was a small dog not
of the kind common to this country. The men were curiously painted for
war, red being the predominant colour, and each man carried several
spears, a rowing stick, and a club. Their chief was in front, and
distinguished by his hair being of a dark red colour from some
composition with which it was smeared; the others followed him close,
noiselessly, and with stealthy pace, one by one, whilst he, crouching
almost to the earth, pricked off our trail.

We remained concealed and motionless until they had all passed, but the
moment they came to where we had turned off they discovered our retreat,
and raised loud shouts of triumph, as, forming themselves into a
semicircle, they advanced upon us, brandishing their spears and bounding
from rock to rock. It was in vain that I made friendly signs and
gestures, they still closed upon us, and to my surprise I heard their
war-cry answered by a party who were coming over the high rocks in our
rear, which I had flattered myself protected us in that direction.

Our situation was now so critical that I was compelled to assume a
hostile attitude. I therefore shouted in answer to their cries and,
desiring the men to fire one at a time if I gave the word, I advanced
rapidly, at the same time firing one barrel over their heads. This had
the desired effect. With the exception of one more resolute than the rest
they fled on all sides, and he, finding his efforts unavailing, soon
followed their example.


Feeling however that the neighbourhood we were in was a dangerous one,
and being anxious to know whether the party I had left at the
encampment--only six in number--had seen these natives, I hurried our
march, although the rain fell in torrents all day; and we that night made
the camp.


I found the party all in good health and spirits: they had seen nothing
whatever of the natives during my absence. The sailing of the Lynher had
been unfortunately delayed until the 21st of December. On the 18th and
19th the tides had been so low that, although Mr. Lushington had done his
utmost, the schooner made little or no progress in her watering. On the
20th the crew and whole party were employed; yet they only succeeded in
getting off 280 gallons for they were obliged to carry the water in small
baricos to the boat, over slippery rocks and deep mud: and on the 21st,
thinking it better to complete their water at Timor, they set sail. This
difficulty of watering only arose from the lowness of the tides (neap)
and our ignorance of the country. Subsequently we found no difficulty in
procuring it; indeed no country in the world is better watered than this
portion of Australia.

Since the sailing of the Lynher the party had been actively engaged in
building a shed for the stores. This labour was still continued, after my
arrival, and completed on Christmas eve.


On Christmas Day we all dined together in a little booth made of boughs,
which we dressed up as gaily as we could. I could not but feel
considerable pleasure in seeing the happy countenances of the men ranged
round the rough plank that formed our table. We sat down, a little band
of nine, bound upon an adventure of which the issue to any and all of us
was very uncertain: yet no forebodings appeared to damp the pleasure of
the present moment; and as I anxiously looked round I could not detect
the slightest trace of a gloomy thought in any of the cheerful faces that
surrounded me. After dinner we drank the Queen's health, the first time
such a toast had been given in these regions; and then, Mr. Walker and
myself retiring to talk alone, left the rest to their own amusements.



The interval between that and New Year's Day found and left us full of
occupation. On this latter day I had resolved to do homage to the country
by a seasonable gift; and therefore, rising with the earliest dawn, spent
the whole day in planting, in various positions, seeds of the most useful
fruits and vegetables. Those we had already planted were doing well, and
I hoped that this benefaction might prove one of no small value, perhaps
to civilized man, or at least to the natives of the vicinity.


January 4.

A party of us this day walked to Hanover Bay for the purpose of making
some observations on the sandy beach there, after which we went over to
Prince Regent's River, near Munster Water. The country until near the
bank of the river at this point was of the same sandy nature as that
about the beach: there however it improves; and from the circumstance of
my finding a regular haunt of the natives I feel sure that there is
plenty of fresh water in the neighbourhood. This place of their sojourn
resembled one before described, and many others I had seen. An extensive
circle was formed by laying a large flat stone upon the ground, and on
each of these a smaller one; between the two they evidently crushed the
shellfish and nuts which formed their food. Near some of the stones were
laid huge shells for the purpose of drinking from; and in the centre of
the circle were the marks of frequent fires. We heard the natives calling
to one another in the woods, but saw none of them; and in the evening
returned to our encampment.


January 6.

I made an excursion this day for the purpose of examining the land lying
between Port George the Fourth and Hanover Bay: it consists of a low neck
which connects the peninsula terminating in High Bluff Point with the
main. Thus it is bounded on two sides by the sea, and on the other two by
rocky hills which are perfectly precipitous, both towards the main and
the peninsula; but a natural terrace runs along under the cliff in the
direction of Camden Sound, which I believe would form a good road to that
harbour. The tract thus enclosed appears to be very fertile. Porphyry and
basalt are the common rocks. The soil is rich vegetable mould, mixed with
gravel and covered with the most luxuriant grass. The trees were in
general small. We only found three springs here; these however were
sufficient to prove that it was well supplied in this respect. A species
of plant was observed here, which in appearance and smell exactly
resembled the jasmine of England: and it would be difficult to give any
adequate impression of the singular sensation of pleasure derived from
the sight of this simple emblem of home. Here were regular beaten tracks
of the natives, as completely pathways as those we find in England
leading from a village to a farmhouse.


Near the sea we also came upon a complete hill of broken shells, which it
must have taken some centuries to form, for it covered nearly, if not
quite, half an acre of ground, and in some places was ten feet high: it
was situated just over a bed of cockles, and was evidently formed from
the remains of native feasts, as their fireplaces, and the last small
heaps of shells were visible on the summit of the hill.* This neck of
land is undoubtedly of the first importance; for, lying as it does
between Port George the Fourth and Hanover Bay, it commands two excellent
harbours, and its soil is moreover highly fertile. I conceive that a
point nearer Camden Bay would be of greater consequence to the mother
country; but, after such a spot, this neck of land is the most important
position on the North-west coast of Australia.

(*Footnote. A similar mass of shells, though of smaller dimensions, is
spoken of by Captain King, at Port Essington: A curious mound,
constructed entirely of shells, rudely heaped together, measuring thirty
feet in diameter, and fourteen feet high, was also noticed near the
beach, and was supposed to be a burying-place of the Indians. King's
Australia volume 1 page 87.)

For some days after our return from this excursion all hands were
occupied in drying the stores, which had suffered a little from the late
rains; in planting barley and potatoes; and in a variety of occupations
of the same nature.


As all the necessary magnetic and astronomical observations were now
completed I seized the opportunity offered by the first favourable day
and started with a party of three in the direction of Prince Regent's

We made the river about Halfway Bay, and then followed its course,
keeping about a mile or two inland. A considerable portion of the land in
the neighbourhood of the river was most excellent, consisting of rich
meadow plains. The general proportion of good country compared with the
bad was still however but small.


There was a very remarkable feature in the appearance of this part of the
country, caused by the number of gouty stemmed trees (a species of
Capparis ?) These trees grow to a considerable height, and had the
appearance of suffering from some disease, but, from the circumstance of
all of them being affected in the same way, this was undoubtedly their
natural state. I measured one of the largest I here saw, and found that
at eighteen inches above the ground its circumference was about
twenty-eight feet six inches.

The foliage of this tree was slight but graceful, and it was loaded with
a fruit of an elliptical form, as large as a coconut. This fruit was
enclosed in a rind, closely resembling that of the almond, and inside the
rind was a shell containing a soft white pulp, in which were placed a
species of almond, very palatable to the taste, and arranged in this pulp
much in the manner in which the seeds are placed in the pomegranate. Upon
the bark of these trees being cut they yielded in small quantities a
nutritious white gum, which both in taste and appearance resembles
macaroni; and upon this bark being soaked in hot water an agreeable
mucilaginous drink was produced.

This tree is, from this combination of useful qualities, a vegetable
production of no slight value, and probably comes near the cocoa-nut tree
in value. Its worth is well known to the natives for its vicinity is one
of their favourite haunts. Around nearly all of them I have found marks
of their fires, and on many of these trees were several successive rows
of notches, formed in this manner:

All but the last row being invariably scratched out. These rows of
notches were evidently of different ages, and I imagine must indicate the
number of nuts taken each year from the tree.* I often also found rude
drawings scratched upon the trees, but none of these sketches indicated
anything but a very ordinary degree of talent, even for a savage: some
were so imperfect that it was impossible to tell what they were meant to

(*Footnote. This tree was also observed on this part of the continent by
Captain King, who met with it both at Cambridge Gulf and Careening Bay,
and describes it as follows: Mr. Cunningham was fortunate in finding the
fruit of the tree that was first seen by us at Cambridge Gulf, and had
for some time puzzled us from its immense size and peculiar appearance.
It proved to be a tree of the Natural Order Capparides, and was thought
to be a Capparis; the gouty habit of the stem, which was soft and spongy,
gave it an appearance of disease; but as all the specimens, from the
youngest plant to the full-grown tree, possessed the same deformed
appearance, it was evidently the peculiarity of its habit. The stem of
the largest of these trees measured twenty-nine feet in girt, whilst its
height did not exceed twenty-five feet. It bore some resemblance to the
Adansonia figured in the account of Captain Tuckey's expedition to Congo.
King's Australia volume 1 page 423.)


I this day again remarked a circumstance which had before this period
elicited my attention; which was that we occasionally found fixed in the
boughs of trees, at a considerable height from the ground, pieces of
sandstone, nearly circular in form, about an inch and a half in
thickness, and from four to five in diameter, so that they resembled
small millstones. What was the object in thus fashioning and placing
these stones I never could conceive, for they were generally in the least
remarkable spots: they cannot point out burial places, for I have made
such minute searches that in such a case I must have found some of the
bones; neither can they indicate any peculiar route through the country,
for two never occur near one another.


On my return to the camp I found that the schooner had not yet arrived; I
now began to fear that some accident had occurred, and made my
preparations accordingly. The party was fully prepared to meet such a
misfortune and, as we had the means of constructing a boat large enough
to take us to Swan River, I felt more anxious for the safety of those in
the vessel than for our own. That no time however might be lost I
examined the neighbourhood of the encampment and found that within our
immediate vicinity were plenty of trees well adapted for the purpose,
which I marked, and had some of them felled.



During the absence of the schooner we had our attention fully engaged in
forming a garden, collecting specimens, and building sheds for the
stores. So difficult and rocky was the country we were in that I was
employed for several days in finding a route by which unloaded horses
could travel from the beach in Hanover Bay to the point where we were
encamped, for the landing-place at the end of the ravine was so rocky as
to be impracticable for that purpose. Mr. Walker at length discovered a
pass in the cliffs, and by constructing a winding path in this he thought
that we should be able to get loaded horses out of the valley. I feared
that he was too sanguine, and therefore daily renewed my search in all
directions. I travelled up the entire length of the ravine that we were
encamped in but found that, even granting it was not flooded, we should
find great difficulty in emerging by this route.

These circumstances made me resolve upon the return of the schooner to
re-embark the stores, and land them again either upon a point I had fixed
upon on the south bank of Prince Regent's River, or upon the neck of land
I have before mentioned, which lay between Port George the Fourth and
Hanover Bay; but I could not finally decide upon either of the points
until the return of the vessel should enable me to examine the coast
between Port George the Fourth and Camden Sound; for my party only
consisted of nine men, of whom with the exception of three or four I knew
nothing, and after what I had seen of the treacherous disposition of the
natives I did not think, in my position, it would be prudent to absent
myself from them for any length of time.


Amidst such exciting and busy scenes, the time flew rapidly away until
the 17th of January, when about 11 A.M. the report of a carronade came
echoing up the valley. This was the preconcerted signal which was to
announce to us that the vessel was safely at anchor in Hanover Bay. We
were of course all anxiety to hear an account of their adventures, and to
ascertain whether the horses were safe. I hastened directly to the
landing-place, where I met Mr. Lushington and a party coming ashore from
the schooner.


The following outline of their transactions was soon given:

They had quitted Hanover Bay on the 21st December at 9 A.M., and reached
Kupang in the Island of Timor on the 1st of January. For the first three
days until they got clear of the land they had every evening, soon after
sunset, heavy squalls from the north-east, accompanied with thunder,
lightning, and rain; the prevalent wind was however from the north-west.
The Lynher remained at Kupang until the 7th, during which time they
completed their water and collected coconuts, bread-fruit trees, etc., to
be planted in Australia; but as Mr. Lushington found that he should be
able more easily to obtain ponies at the island of Roti than at Kupang,
they sailed on the morning of the 7th for that place, and at 7 P.M. came
to in the harbour of Rougun in eleven fathoms water, with muddy bottom.

They were enabled to procure at Roti the requisite number of horses by
the evening of the 11th of January. The people of this island appeared to
be excessively ignorant, knew but little of the nature and value of
money, and were much astonished when they were shown a watch. Their
favourite mode of disposing of their property was by barter; the articles
they prized most were muskets and coarse gunpowder, but they preferred
having the gunpowder in a claret bottle, as if this was considered by
them to be some definite measure which bore a certain value. They were
not very particular about the quality of the muskets provided their
outward form and appearance were tolerably good. I have since ascertained
that the natives of the little-frequented islands of the Archipelago
invariably prefer an old musket to a new one, as they conceive a totally
new one may be unsafe, from having been made merely for the purpose of
sale; whilst one which has seen service has been indisputably
manufactured for use. If they entertain any doubt about the goodness of a
musket they generally insist upon the seller's firing it off.


The people of Roti are not allowed to fix themselves what is to be the
price of their horses; all the details of the sale are settled by an
assemblage of chiefs: their constant cry in bartering (if anything else
is offered to them) is "schnapper, schnapper" (a musket, a musket). They
refused at first to take percussion guns in exchange, but when they saw
Captain Browse cock one of these, pour a quantity of water over the lock,
and fire it off, their astonishment knew no bounds, and they then eagerly
bartered for them. When they found that all the muskets were exhausted
they were content to take money and other articles in lieu: an old dress
waistcoat of mine and a regulation breastplate procured eight small
sheep; and Captain Browse got fourteen goats for a pair of old pistols.
The authorities give every encouragement to the trader; but the duties
exacted are high, for at Kupang and Roti they demand six rupees duty for
every horse exported, or musket imported. Arms and gunpowder are no
longer considered contraband.

The inhabitants of Roti were described as being so indolent that it was
almost impossible to induce them to do anything: although every means
were used to tempt them to cut a sufficient quantity of fodder for the
ponies on their passage they constantly delayed doing so and, Mr.
Lushington's patience being at last worn out, the vessel put to sea on
the 12th of January 1838.


On the 13th they sighted the Hibernian shoal which they made in 11
degrees 57 minutes south latitude and 123 degrees 22 minutes 30 seconds
east longitude. On Monday 15th of January at 10 P.M. they discovered an
island, thus described in the log of the Lynher:

At 10 hours 30 minutes P.M. saw land about a quarter of a mile ahead;
hauled our wind to west by south; sounded in 12 fathoms water, rocky
bottom; it appeared to be about one mile in extent, and about twenty feet
above the water. After running west by south one mile, got no bottom with
40 fathoms of line. Kept our course south by east: it (the island)
appeared to be quite level with rocks extending to north-west, with heavy
breakers. Made it by observation south latitude 14 degrees 4 minutes;
east longitude 123 degrees 31 minutes by good chronometer rated at Roti.


At 6 A.M. on the morning of the 16th they experienced heavy squalls of
wind off Red Island, and this prevented them from getting into Hanover
Bay on that day; but on the morning of the 17th they anchored safely,
without having lost a single pony, or without having experienced any
serious misfortune, having made the passage from Roti in five days.


Some short time was occupied in narrating the adventures we had
respectively encountered since we had last seen one another, and in
giving way to the pleasure arising from meeting again in so distant a
land, and under such circumstances: at last came the unpleasant
announcement that there was not an atom of forage on board, so that the
ponies must of necessity be landed tomorrow; and my plans of disembarking
them at a more eligible site were thus at once overthrown. Being the only
person who knew the route to Hanover Bay from the encampment, I was
obliged to remain on shore to guide the party over there the next
morning. Mr. Lushington and the Captain however returned on board to make
preparations for landing the horses at daybreak.


I lay down to sleep this night oppressed with very uneasy thoughts. I was
thoroughly convinced that the position we occupied was a bad one to make
a start from; but we had already approached too near the season of the
heaviest rains (the beginning of February) to allow of longer delay, so
that to have landed the horses, then to cut grass for them, and
afterwards to have re-embarked them and the stores, would, in my opinion,
have been a tedious and wrong course to adopt. Unforeseen difficulties,
and against which we could not have guarded, had already completely
encompassed us, so that, considering the scanty means at our disposal,
the remote and unknown region in which we were situated, and the
impossibility of our receiving further aid from any quarter, I saw no way
of overcoming them. All therefore that was now left us was to make the
most of our actual means, to acquit ourselves like men, and do our


January 18.

Fortune smiled on us this morning in as far as she gave us a fine
daybreak, and at dawn we started for Hanover Bay, leaving a small party
at the encampment. After all the trouble I had taken to find a good route
for the horses, we still had a great deal to do to render it at all
practicable; we however all worked cheerfully and sturdily away at
burning the grass, moving rocks and fallen trees, etc., and thus, as it
were, fought our way through opposing obstacles to Hanover Bay, over a
distance of about four miles.


On arriving there I found Mr. Lushington already on shore and some of the
horses disembarked. They were not only well selected for the purpose, but
were generally in good condition. They had however two faults which could
not have been avoided, and these were that they were very small and
perfectly wild. By about two o'clock in the afternoon the whole
twenty-six had been swum ashore, and we started for the huts.

Our progress was however slow; for, as there were only a few of us, each
person was obliged to take charge of three or four of these untamed,
unbroken brutes. The mode we adopted was to fasten them together by long
ropes so that the number each man led could follow in a line; but, being
wholly unused to this kind of discipline, they strenuously resisted it,
biting and kicking at one another with the greatest ferocity; and as they
were chiefly very courageous little entire horses, a variety of spirited
contests took place, much to their own satisfaction, but to my infinite
chagrin. Some of the men who were not much accustomed to horses regarded
these wild ponies as being but little better than savage monsters, with
whom it was dangerous to have anything to do; and, being thus rather
afraid of them, treated them very cruelly, kicking them often with great
violence whenever I for a moment looked away, and thus naturally
rendering the ponies still more wild.

But even when we did induce these brutes to move along pacifically they
would not follow one another in a line, but all strove to go in different
directions, and, as our road lay through a rocky forest, the consequence
of this pulling was that the connecting ropes kept on getting entangled
in rocks and trees; indeed there was scarcely an instance of two of them
passing on the same side of a tree or rock at the first attempt, so that
we were continually halting to clear their tether ropes; again, one of
the beasts would now and then become obstinate, refuse to move, and this
delayed us all; for I would not allow the party to separate for fear of
the natives. In consequence of all these adverse circumstances at sunset
we had scarcely got half-way to the encampment; and just at this period
one pony became and remained so obstinate that, in despair, I had it tied
up to a tree alone. We now moved on again as fast as we could, but night
soon surprised us, and, when it became too dark to see our course, we
tethered our horses and laid down in the forest by them; but as it
rained, and we had neither warm clothes nor covering, and many of the
party had tasted nothing since dawn, our situation was not very pleasant;
indeed, the combined circumstances of cold, hunger, and obstinate ponies
had rendered some of the men more crabbed than I had ever before seen

January 19.

As soon as it was light enough to find the ponies we recommenced our
march; and, all our annoyances of yesterday being repeated, did not
succeed in arriving at the ravine until noon--it took us much care and a
great deal of time to reach the bottom of this in safety; when however we
had done so, we knee-haltered the ponies and let them loose amidst very
good feed, of which they now stood much in need, for there was no grass
whatever between the encampment and Hanover Bay; the whole of the
intervening country being a mass of rock, scrub, and spinifex. I now sent
a party back to bring on the refractory pony, which I had yesterday been
obliged to tie up to a tree, and the long fast it had been subjected to
appeared to have produced a very beneficial effect on its temper, for it
now was perfectly docile.


For the next few days all was bustle and preparation. The ponies being so
much smaller than I had expected, all our packsaddles had to be altered,
and fourteen of them, which the party had made during the absence of the
schooner, still had to be put together. Mr. Walker undertook the task of
constructing a pathway up the cliffs, by means of which the loaded ponies
could ascend; he laboured personally at making this path, occasionally
assisted by two or three others; and it would be impossible for anyone
who had not seen it at all to comprehend the obstacles he met with, and
the perseverance with which he contended against and finally overcame
them. We were obliged to complete everything in a hurried and
unsatisfactory manner, for our departure had been so long delayed that we
were every day in expectation of the setting in of the heavy rains and
the consequent flooding of the ravine in which we were encamped; and in
the event of this taking place before we made a start it was impossible
to foresee for how long a period our movements might be delayed.


On Monday the 22nd Captain Browse and Mr. Walker accompanied me in the
jolly-boat up Prince Regent's River; we went up with the flood-tide,
entering the river by its northern mouth; I had thus an opportunity of
examining the island which lies at the entrance to this great arm of the
sea, and landed upon it in several places, but found only bad sandy land,
occasionally covered with rocks; it was however well wooded and abounded
with birds. After we had passed the mouth of Rothsay Water the tide swept
us along with great rapidity, and we soon found ourselves in St. George's
Basin. I kept close along the northern shore, where we saw but little
good land after entering the basin; but there was one fertile island, of
a small conical shape, bearing nearly due east as you enter. From the
appearance of this island there can be no doubt whatever that it is of
volcanic origin; as it in all respects resembles Mount Lyell and the
other basaltic conical hills which we afterwards found in the fertile
district of Glenelg; we did not however land on it, but merely ran close
by, and then continued our route up the river.

St. George's Basin is a noble sheet of water some ten or twelve miles
across. On its southern side deep inlets run up into a low and marshy
country, leading to fertile districts, and the main object of my present
excursion was to endeavour to identify these inlets with some I had seen
on my first trip to the southward.


On the northern bank lofty mountains, crowned with castellated summits,
rear their sterile heads over the broad waters, and fling their giant
shadows on the bosom of the basin, forming a scene of surpassing beauty.

We had entered the more contracted channel of the river, when there came
on a tremendous squall of wind, rain, thunder, and most vivid lightning.
The pealing echoes of the thunder as they bounded from height to height
and from cliff to cliff was awfully magnificent; whilst the rugged
mountains which had just before looked golden in the bright light of the
setting sun were now shrouded in gloomy mists, and capped with dark
clouds from which issued incessant and dazzling flashes of lightning.

During this grand and terrific elemental convulsion our little boat was
driven powerless before the blast. The impenetrable forests of mangroves
which clothed the riverbanks obliging us to run far up the stream until
at last a convenient opening enabled us to land upon the southern shore.


We had not long landed when the rain ceased and, as we found several
natural caverns in the rock and plenty of dead mangrove trees, we
proceeded to make ourselves comfortable for the night; but the men soon
reported that they saw the smoke of a native fire close to us, and
Captain Browse and myself, under the conviction that such was the case,
darted with Mr. Walker to endeavour to gain an interview. But, as we
proceeded over the rocks, the smoke appeared gradually to retire, always
keeping about the same distance from us: and we at last ascertained that
what had appeared to us to be smoke was nothing but the rising vapour
occasioned by the cold rain falling on sandstone rocks, which had during
the whole day been exposed to the burning rays of a tropical sun.

We had now become so much accustomed to sleeping without any covering,
and upon hard rocks, that we should not have minded our exposure had it
not been for the rain which fell during the night and beat in under the
rocks, beneath which we had crept for shelter. The cold air of the
morning awoke us long before daylight; and Mr. Walker and myself, having
explored the country to the southward and climbed a high hill from which
we had an extensive view, we started on our return to the schooner. In
proceeding down the river we landed on an island, situate at the
south-eastern extremity of St. George's Basin, just where the river runs
into it. The presence of large dead trees on this island, which had
evidently been swept down the river in the time of floods and washed up
far above the usual water-mark, showed that Prince Regent's River is
subject to the same sudden inundations as all other rivers in Australia
which I have seen. During our passage down the river we saw no extent of
good land in any one place.


For the next few days we had almost uninterrupted bad weather. The party
were all occupied in preparing the saddles, etc. The ponies having eaten
off the grass in the ravine, we were compelled, about the 28th, to move
them to the higher grounds. These at our first arrival on this coast were
perfectly dry and burnt up; but since the heavy rains had set in they
teemed with running springs, along the margins of which grew a scanty
coating of grass. Being obliged to send the horses to a distance to graze
delayed us a great deal for one portion of our party was occupied in
attending upon them. Our sheep also now began to die off: they had up to
this time improved rapidly and were doing very well, having, during the
absence of the vessel, been regularly tended and driven to the high dry
ground to feed; but now the pressure of business was so great that we
were compelled in some degree to neglect them, and from this they
suffered. The goats had from some cause never succeeded well.

From the period of their being landed many of the horses had declined
very much, and several of them were by this time reduced to a very weakly
state. This originated from the heavy rains and the excessive cold which
accompanied them, as well as from some food they had eaten which had not
agreed with them. On the 28th and 29th the rains increased in violence
and duration; but we still continued our occupations of completing the
packsaddles and arranging the stores in such small packages that they
could easily in case of necessity be transported on men's shoulders.


Having provided every requisite for the party, such as food, working
utensils, soap, tobacco, etc., all of which were arranged in their
respective packages, I issued an order that nothing but certain articles
of clothing for each individual were to be put upon the ponies. This step
was rendered the more necessary from their weakness and their diminutive
size having greatly abridged our intended means of transport. Numerous
requests were now made to me to be allowed to put various articles upon
the horses, all of which I felt myself obliged to meet by a steady
refusal; but this refusal, dictated entirely by the necessity of the
case, raised angry and discontented feelings, tending to diminish
materially the individual zeal and energy which were so much required at
this juncture to ensure our success.


On the 29th we began in the afternoon to load our horses. Mr. Walker's
pathway was completed by means of a number of circuitous and sharp
turnings: it led directly up the face of cliffs which were almost
precipitous and 180 feet in height. To commemorate the completion of this
really laborious undertaking I named the valley Walker's Valley.


The ponies, though weak, bore their burdens and submitted to the
packsaddles better than I had hoped. The first horse was led up by the
stock-keeper in safety, with its saddle and load on it; I followed with
the second, but was not so fortunate. I had accomplished about
three-fourths of the ascent when, turning one of the sharp corners round
a rock, the load struck against it and knocked the horse over on its
side. I thought for a moment that the poor beast would have fallen down
the precipice, but luckily its roll was checked in time to prevent this.
There it lay however on a flat rock, four or five feet wide, a precipice
of 150 feet on one side of it, and the projecting rock against which it
had struck on the other, whilst I sat upon its head to prevent it from
moving. Its long tail streamed in the wind over the precipice; its wild
and fiery eye gleamed from its shaggy mane and forelock; and, ignorant of
its impending danger, it kicked and struggled violently, whilst it
appeared to hang in mid-air over the gloomy depth of this tropical
ravine. Anxious as I felt for the safety of my pony I could not be
unconscious of the singular beauty of the scene during the few minutes
that elapsed whilst I was repressing its struggles on a narrow ledge of
rock, of which the dark brow projected threateningly above me, whilst the
noise of a rushing torrent was audible far below. I cut the girths of the
saddle, which then with its load rolled over the precipice, and pitched
with a heavy crash on a rock far down. Even then, if the brute had not
been a denizen of a wild and mountainous country, it must have been lost;
but now it no sooner felt itself freed from its encumbrance than, looking
sagaciously around and then raising itself cautiously up, it stood
trembling by my side upon the narrow terrace.

Warned by this misfortune we managed to make another turn in the path, by
which this awkward rock was avoided, and the remainder of the horses,
with their loads, reached the tableland in safety. But so rocky was this
country that, even after having mastered the ascent, we found great
difficulty in getting the loaded ponies half a mile further to a point I
had fixed on for our camp. We had this night a continued succession of
heavy showers, accompanied with thunder and lightning.

January 30.

This morning it was reported to me that several sheep were dead, and that
the horses were beginning to suffer much from constant exposure to the
heavy cold rains, for the trees were so small, and their foliage so
slight, that they afforded no shelter whatever from tropical showers. On
repairing to the ravine I found that the stream which even yesterday was
much swollen had now become an impetuous torrent, so much so that even to
swim across it was not an easy matter. A tree was soon felled and a
temporary foot-bridge thus formed; and as the rain cleared off a little
towards the afternoon we managed, in this interval of fine weather, to
load the ponies and carry some stores up the cliffs, but the poor beasts
were so much weakened since yesterday that we were obliged to diminish
their loads considerably. They all appeared to be gradually declining in
health, strength, and condition, but from what cause except exposure I
could not tell.


January 31.

During last night we had heavy storms, the torrent was still more swollen
and, although we laboured hard all day, we accomplished very little;
several sheep died during the day, and the ponies appeared to be worse. I
became now very anxious as to the result of the expedition; my worst
apprehensions as to the rainy season setting in before we had got clear
of the sandstone ranges had already been fully realized; every endeavour
to hasten our preparations and to prevent this occurrence had been used,
though unsuccessfully; it appeared now the better course to bear up
against evils that could not be avoided than to lose time in murmuring; I
therefore kept all hands constantly employed in doing something which
might tend to accelerate our departure.


February 1.

We again had heavy and incessant rain throughout Wednesday night,
accompanied by thunder and lightning. At daylight the stock-keeper came
to report to me that two horses, three sheep, and one goat were dead, and
that several other horses appeared to be in a very dangerous state. All
our stores with the exception of a few articles had now been removed from
the valley in which we had first encamped; some of our goats were still
left there, but the torrent had become so rapid and impetuous that it had
swept away the bridge and was now impassable. Heavy rains fell throughout
the greater portion of the day, and produced a beautiful effect in the
ravines, for cascades were pouring over the cliffs on each side, sweeping
every now and then before them massive pieces of rock, the crash of which
in their fall echoed loudly through the valleys.


February 2.

Bad news came again this morning--the stock-keeper met me with a very
rueful countenance to report that another horse and two sheep had just
been found dead, and that several more sheep were missing. It still
rained so heavily that we could not attempt to move, for already a
considerable portion of our stores was damaged by the water which had
filled the ditch, and regularly flooded the tent in which they were

Mr. Walker started with me for the purpose of marking off a road to the
place we next intended to halt at, for the country was so rocky that it
was necessary to choose a path with the greatest caution, or we should
soon have become embarrassed in precipitous places which the horses could
not have traversed. Whilst I was thus engaged Mr. Lushington and two men
made another unsuccessful attempt to get the goats and remaining stores
across the stream.


February 3.

This morning the rain had somewhat abated: the remaining stores were
brought from the ravine, and the goats were swum across; in the meantime
the ponies were brought up and loaded, and all preparations were at last
made for a start: but a host of new difficulties arose; many of the
ponies were found to be in such a weakly state that they could with great
difficulty carry any weight at all. We were obliged to make a totally new
division of the stores, and to select and put aside what articles we
could best leave behind. These preparations occupied a considerable time,
but we at last moved off in a south-east direction. Our progress was
however very slow and tedious; the ponies, though lightly loaded, were so
reduced that the slightest obstacle made many fall from weakness, whilst
others laid down from obstinacy, and the men being inexperienced in
re-fixing the loads, each horse that fell delayed us considerably. At
last so many were down at one time that I advanced with such as were able
to move to a point distant not more than half a mile, where I halted for
the night; and, having unloaded and tethered these horses, we returned to
assist the others, and after a great deal of difficulty got the remainder
of the weak ponies safe to the encampment.

I slept but little this night for I doubted whether, with our cattle so
enfeebled and so out of condition, we should ever succeed in penetrating
any distance into the country. We were still a considerable way from the
fertile plains I had seen to the southward, whilst the intervening ground
was very difficult to travel across and afforded no good feed for the
ponies. All my meditations however only terminated in the conviction that
it was my duty to continue to use my best exertions under such adverse

February 4.

There being no good grass for the horses where we were, I was obliged to
move the party and commenced by using every method I could to lighten the
loads and to rid the expedition of all encumbrances. I left here a male
and female goat who, by their obstinacy, delayed our movements; thinking
also that, if they escaped the natives, their offspring might become a
valuable acquisition to this land.

We also left here 28 pounds of gunpowder, 10 pounds of ball cartridges,
70 pounds of shot, 200 pounds of preserved meat, some carpenters' tools,
and many other useful articles; yet, notwithstanding this decrease in the
loads of the ponies, the country we had to travel through was so bad that
we only completed two miles in the course of the day; and yet to find the
track by which we did succeed in crossing the range had cost me many
successive hours' walking under a burning sun. The character of the
country we passed through was the same as these sandstone ranges always
present; namely, sandy scrubby plains, and low ranges of ruinous, rocky
hills, in trying to scramble over which the ponies received numerous and
severe falls. We however had a very beautiful halting-place, shaded by
lofty pines and affording fair feed for the animals.


February 5.

On this morning it was reported to me that several of the ponies were in
a dying state, and that none of them would be again able to carry even
such light loads as they had hitherto done; the quantity of stores they
could now convey was quite inadequate to supply a party of the strength
we were obliged to move with for any great length of time. A new plan of
operations was thus forced upon me, and I now resolved to proceed as

To advance with half our stores to a convenient place for encamping at,
and then, on the succeeding day, to send back some of the party with the
ponies for the remaining portion of the provisions; whilst, accompanied
by two men, I marked off the road by which we were to move on the
following day. This mode of proceeding would not very much delay our
movements; for the country we were at present in was of so intricate a
nature that it was impossible to move loaded horses without previously
marking a road for them; and by its adoption I trusted to be able to
establish a depot of provisions at some point distant from the coast and
whence we could yet make a good start in a southerly direction.


In pursuance of this plan Mr. Lushington returned this day to our last
camp to bring up the provisions we had abandoned; whilst I went off with
two men to endeavour to pick out a route by which the ponies could
travel. A more toilsome day's work than we had could not be imagined. For
eleven hours I was incessantly walking, exposed during the greater part
of the time to the burning rays of a tropical sun; and we found nothing
but rocky, almost impassable sandstone ranges and precipitous ravines. I
however at last succeeded in discovering a path along which it was just
possible we might be able, by using great care, to lead loaded horses;
and on my return to the camp I found that all the remaining stores had
been brought up.


February 6.

We began our descent this morning from the tableland into a deep valley,
following the track we had yesterday marked off, which was still however
so rugged and rocky as to be very difficult to get along. Heavy rains set
in, and these were always so cold that the large drops falling upon us
Occasioned quite a painful sensation. The valleys being all flooded there
was no feed in them for the horses and sheep; I therefore was obliged to
send them back under charge of Mr. Lushington to the camp, which we had
this morning quitted.

I retained three men with me; and after the remainder of the party had
moved off I left two of them in charge of the stores, and started with
Corporal Coles, again to explore the country in front of us.


About half a mile to the south there was a deep ravine, bounded on each
side by lofty cliffs. This ravine resembled in many respects the one we
had first encamped in, but it was larger; and it was now impossible to
travel either up or down in it on account of the great body of water
which occupied its bed. Just opposite to where we were this ravine
separated into three smaller ones, running up into the sandstone ranges
along which I had previously sought for a route whereby to turn and
travel round their heads; but I had found the country so rocky, so
impracticable, and devoid of forage that I felt sure it was useless to
attempt to traverse it.

My next object was to find a passage out of the main ravine, between the
points where the subsidiary ravines ran into it, and where it joined the
sea. If I could succeed in doing this our difficulties would, in a great
measure, have terminated, for no other main ravine lay between us and the
fertile plains which I had seen to the southward; and I knew that we
should find no difficulty in traversing the intervening sandstone range,
which consisted of a series of elevated plains or terraces, rising one
behind the other.

With this view Coles and myself searched until after sunset, but without
success. We found the ravine bounded throughout its southern side by
inaccessible cliffs. Occasionally little branch ravines ran into it; but
on penetrating for some distance up these they invariably terminated in
precipitous cascades. A great portion of this afternoon was spent up to
our middles in water as we waded about the flooded valley; and the only
thing we had to compensate us for the fatigue and suffering we underwent
was the wild beauty of the scenery, which was as lovely and picturesque
as impetuous torrents, foaming cascades, lofty rocks, and a rich tropical
vegetation could render it.


On our return homewards, wearied and disappointed, we came close upon a
large party of natives before they were aware of our presence. Coles had
followed me up the northern bank of the ravine, and we thus occupied a
good position; the natives had, I suppose, wished to avoid us, for we saw
no more of them, but merely heard the sound of their retiring voices as
they moved up the centre of the valley. We now returned to the men we had
left in charge of the stores, and reached the tent soon after dark.


February 7.

This day was passed in constructing the pathway which was to lead us down
into the deep ravine in our front. Whilst the men were thus engaged I
traversed the country I had yesterday visited in the hope that I might
yet find some outlet into the good country which would take us clear of
the others; but my searches were in vain. Only one man accompanied me,
and I completely knocked him up ere the evening closed in upon us. We
then were obliged to retrace our steps to the camp, and I now found
myself perfectly worn out by the fatigue consequent on such continued and
violent walking exercise under a tropical sun.

It was however cheering to me to see how constantly some of the men had
laboured at forming the road down the valleys which led into the ravine.
The horses had been brought down thus far; but three more of them had
died, so that our twenty-six ponies were reduced to nineteen, many of
whom were in wretched condition.


February 8.

We again resumed our journey towards the interior; but the pathway, which
ran through the valleys leading to the summit of the ravine, was still so
broken and difficult that the ponies could only carry half loads along
it; and the descent down the clifTs was so steep that they were obliged
to be unladen and led into the ravine without their burdens, which were
carried down upon the men's shoulders. Men could not have behaved better
than they all did on this occasion, particularly Corporal Auger who,
possessing the power of carrying on his back very heavy burdens, took
every occasion of exercising it in such a way as to stimulate the others,
and very much to accelerate our movements.

But even when we had with so much labour got ponies, stores, etc. to the
bottom of the ravine, our troubles had, as it were, only commenced, for
we now had to get out of it on the other side. In the course of the
afternoon however a path had been made, and most of the stores were
safely stowed upon an elevated tableland where we had pitched the tents.
The place I had chosen for our camp was a pretty spot; a sweet, short
herbage had been raised by the heavy rains from the sandy soil, and
amongst this the beauteous flowers, for which Australia is deservedly
celebrated, were so scattered and intermixed that they gave the country
an enamelled appearance. A lofty species of Casuarina was intermingled
with trees of a denser foliage, and on each side we looked down into two
deep ravines; through the dense dark foliage of which could be seen the
white foaming waters brawling on their way far below.

The next day was occupied in bringing up the remainder of the stores from
the ravine and repairing the damages which had resulted from the bursting
of bags and other mischief in their transit over such rough ground. Early
in the morning we all had a good bathe, and only those who have been so
constantly engaged under a burning sun, and for upwards of a week without
regularly washing or undressing, can at all estimate the pleasure with
which I plunged into the clear and rapid stream.


After thus performing our ablutions we breakfasted, and then, whilst the
stores were being conveyed to the tableland, I started, accompanied by
one man, to explore a route for our line of march next day. After
continuing on the tableland for about a mile I traced a good route both
into and out of another ravine; the stream which occupied the bed of this
was so swollen that I had some difficulty in finding a ford across it;
but after a few rather ludicrous plunges and falls upon the green
slippery rocks I succeeded in detecting a tolerably good one. Our line of
route now lay across some elevated open plains, clothed with spinifex,
and thinly wooded with a large species of Eucalyptus. We saw here
numerous signs of the natives, who had been cutting steps in the trees
for the purpose of hunting opossums. These open plains extended for about
two miles, and we then reached another small ravine, with a rapid stream
running through it. A very good route brought us across this slight
descent and stream; and from this point no further impediment of any
consequence appeared to lie in our way. The direction in which I now
wished to travel presented a series of rocky, sandy plains, thinly
wooded, and affording a scanty sufficiency of food for the ponies.


During the time I was searching for this route the rain had fallen in
torrents, and the quantity of ground I had walked over was so
considerable that I was exhausted; riding was quite impossible in these
excursions as, in many places where the ground was covered with loose
rocks overgrown with a vegetation which concealed treacherous cavities,
it was necessary to pass across it two or three times before I could
determine whether a horse could move over it or not. Today I found myself
completely knocked up, and felt certain that I could not for many days
longer bear up against such continued fatigues. On my return to the camp
I found all prepared for a start tomorrow; but many of the horses were so
ill as to be incapable of carrying more than half a load.

February 10.

We moved off at daybreak and, having reached the ravine, set to work to
form a pathway down the descent, and up the ascent on the other side,
under the additional disadvantage of heavy rain. The sudden transition
from the rays of a burning sun to this cold bath made my teeth chatter as
if I had a tertian ague. When half our work was completed we breakfasted
in the beautiful ravine amidst the dark luxuriant vegetation of the
tropics, formed by the pandanus, bamboo, and palm.

After breakfast the men recommenced their labour on the road. About two
P.M. it was completed, and we then loaded the ponies and set out. The
poor animals were however so weak that it was almost impossible to get
them to move; they stumbled and fell repeatedly, and thus thereby not
only injured themselves but so delayed our movements that we only made
three miles and a half during the day, and then halted for the night on
very elevated land, and in a good position, for we were on a little sandy
rise, along the base of which ran a stream, distant about one hundred


Having thus gained the elevated plains I laid down to sleep, satisfied
that the worst of our labours were over; yet I could not but recollect
that it had taken us ten days to reach a spot which by the proper route
was only a short day's journey from the valley we were first encamped in,
and that in our march through the country we had been compelled to
traverse we had lost seven ponies, and injured many of those remaining;
all these difficulties arose from our departure having been delayed so
long that the rains had set in and so flooded the country that we could
not proceed by the proper route.



February 11.

The stores we had left behind yesterday were so necessary to us that I
was fearful they might be injured or destroyed if left exposed in the
bush beyond today, and therefore despatched a party under Mr. Lushington
for them.

Some time after they were gone I started from the encampment on foot,
with the intention of choosing a track for our route next day, as well as
of endeavouring to fall in with my former track in this direction; for by
so doing I should be enabled to get the party on the good land without
further impediment, and at the same time to complete my map of this part
of the country.


I was accompanied by Corporal Coles and a fine-looking young man about
twenty years of age, from the Cape of Good Hope, leaving three men at the
camp. Soon after my departure these men heard the voices of natives in
the woods, and presently they appeared themselves in numbers which
rapidly increased until there were collected together about two hundred
men, women, and children. The party at the tents instantly got under
arms, and posted themselves on the brow of the hill on which our tents
stood; whilst at some distance from its base, and on the opposite side of
the stream, the natives were assembled.

The advance of a large armed body from the woods seemed now to indicate
that a hostile movement was about to be made; one of my party therefore
shouted out to them in a threatening tone, motioning to them at the same
time to go away. The natives immediately answered the shout, then halted,
and, after apparently consulting together for some time, retired a
little. The party at the tents simultaneously took counsel together and,
agreeing that it would be imprudent in their small number to hold
intercourse, under the existing circumstances, with so large a body of
natives, it was resolved not to allow them to approach beyond a certain
point, and, in the event of any armed portion passing the stream towards
the tents in disregard of their signals, then to fire on them one by one.


In the meantime the women and little children moved round the hill,
examining everything with the most intense delight: a pony which was in
front of the camp more particularly excited their attention; the little
children laughed loudly at it, and appeared also to laugh at the party
themselves, regarding them much the same way that little boys do a
stranger in foreign costume when he appears in the streets of a country
village in England. The native men regarded the pony more seriously; they
walked round and round, examining it carefully, and when the little
stallion, becoming playful from these marks of attention, neighed, put
down his head, and prepared to fight and kick vigorously, they all beat a
precipitate retreat.

The party at the tents overlooked all their movements and heard every
word that was uttered. They describe the language this people spoke as
clear, distinct, and agreeable to the ear; the men they observed to be a
fine race, tall and athletic: two were remarked in particular, one of
whom was very tall, and had his forehead and face painted with white
(their sign of mourning, and that there is a death to avenge) whilst the
other was of a far lighter shade of colour than the rest, and these two
appeared to direct the general movements.

After some time distant shouts were heard from other natives in the
direction in which my party had seen me go; and a large body of the
native men instantly hurried off in that quarter, headed by the tall man
and the light-coloured one I have just mentioned. Then ensued a pause of
about two hours, during which the native women and children wandered
about in the distance, conversing in groups: suddenly was heard shouts,
as of distress, from the same quarter, which were answered by the natives
in front of the camp, when all moved off in a hurried manner and were
seen there no more. But in the interim another scene connected with this
had been passing at a distance.


On quitting the camp in the morning I and my two companions traversed for
some time portions of the elevated sandstone plains which I had passed on
a former occasion; and, after an hour's walking through the gloomy
stringy-bark forest which covered them, we reached a stream of water
running in a shallow valley; and as there was a bad route down to this I
halted to make a road which the ponies could traverse. There was plenty
of water and forage hereabouts, and a fine level country for our
proceedings, so that we were all in high hopes and spirits, and, as I
then believed, our principal difficulties were at an end.

Whilst at work at the road we all thought that we heard a native call,
and that others answered him; having listened for a repetition of these
sounds we again heard them, but they were so indistinct in character that
none of us this time agreed as to what they were. I imagined that it was
the call of a bird and, when I again heard the same sound very faintly in
the distance, I felt convinced it was not a human voice, and proceeded on
my way perfectly at ease.

My attention was soon occupied by other objects. I saw from a hill I
ascended some remarkable blue peaks to the south: this gave us fresh
hopes; and nothing occurred till about three-quarters of an hour after we
had first heard the native call, when we arrived at a short descent
covered with rocks, from which started a large kangaroo; I got a fair
shot at, and knocked it over, but it sprang up again and hopped away; we
then tried to track it but soon lost its footsteps in the scrubby
vegetation of the gloomy forest,

It was the duty of the Cape man who accompanied me to mark a tree every
here and there by chipping the bark, so that the party might the next day
easily recognise the route which they had to pursue; upon looking back I
now perceived that he had neglected a very remarkable tree about twenty
or thirty yards behind us, and which stood close to the spot where I had
fired at the kangaroo. I desired him to go back and chip it, and then to
rejoin us; in the meantime I stood musing as to the best means of
avoiding the little rocky ravine in our front.


Finding that the man remained absent longer than I had expected I called
loudly to him, but received no answer, and therefore passed round some
rocks which hid the tree from my view to look after him. Suddenly I saw
him close to me breathless and speechless with terror, and a native with
his spear fixed in a throwing-stick in full pursuit of him; immediately
numbers of other natives burst upon my sight; each tree, each rock,
seemed to give forth its black denizen, as if by enchantment.

A moment before, the most solemn silence pervaded these woods. We deemed
that not a human being moved within miles of us, and now they rang with
savage and ferocious yells, and fierce armed men crowded round us on
every side, bent on our destruction.


There was something very terrible in so complete and sudden a surprise.
Certain death appeared to stare us in the face: and, from the determined
and resolute air of our opponents, I immediately guessed that the man who
had first seen them, instead of boldly standing his ground, and calling
to Coles and myself for assistance, had at once, like a coward, run away;
thus giving the natives confidence in themselves, and a contempt for us:
and this conjecture I afterwards ascertained was perfectly true.

We were now fairly engaged for our lives; escape was impossible, and
surrender to such enemies out of the question.

As soon as I saw the natives around me I fired one barrel of my gun over
the head of him who was pursuing my dismayed attendant, hoping the report
would have checked his further career. He proved to be the tall man seen
at the camp, painted with white. My shot stopped him not: he still closed
on us and his spear whistled by my head; but, whilst he was fixing
another in his throwing stick, a ball from my second barrel struck him in
the arm and it fell powerless by his side. He now retired behind a rock,
but the others still pressed on.


I now made the two men retire behind some neighbouring rocks, which
formed a kind of protecting parapet along our front and right flank,
whilst I took post on the left. Both my barrels were now exhausted; and I
desired the other two to fire separately, whilst I was reloading; but to
my horror, Coles, who was armed with my rifle, reported hurriedly that
the cloth case with which he had covered it for protection against rain
had become entangled. His services were thus lost at a most critical
moment whilst trying to tear off the lock cover; and the other man was so
paralysed with fear that he could do nothing but cry out, "Oh, God! Sir,
look at them; look at them!"

In the meantime our opponents pressed more closely round; their spears
kept whistling by us, and our fate seemed inevitable. The light coloured
man, spoken of at the camp, now appeared to direct their movements. He
sprang forward to a rock not more than thirty yards from us and, posting
himself behind it, threw a spear with such deadly force and aim that, had
I not drawn myself forward by a sudden jerk, it must have gone through my
body, and as it was it touched my back in flying by. Another
well-directed spear, from a different hand, would have pierced me in the
breast, but, in the motion I made to avoid it, it struck upon the stock
of my gun, of which it carried away a portion by its force.

All this took place in a few seconds of time, and no shot had been fired
but by me. I now recognized in the light-coloured man an old enemy who
had led on the former attack against me on the 22nd of December. By his
cries and gestures he now appeared to be urging the others to surround
and press on us, which they were rapidly doing.


I saw now that but one thing could be done to save our lives, so I gave
Coles my gun to complete the reloading, and took the rifle which he had
not yet disengaged from the cover. I tore it off and, stepping out from
behind our parapet, advanced to the rock which covered my light-coloured
opponent. I had not made two steps in advance when three spears struck me
nearly at the same moment, one of which was thrown by him. I felt
severely wounded in the hip, but knew not exactly where the others had
struck me. The force of all knocked me down, and made me very giddy and
faint, but as I fell I heard the savage yells of the natives' delight and
triumph; these recalled me to myself, and, roused by momentary rage and
indignation, I made a strong effort, rallied, and in a moment was on my
legs; the spear was wrenched from my wound, and my haversack drawn
closely over it, that neither my own party nor the natives might see it,
and I advanced again steadily to the rock. The man became alarmed and
threatened me with his club, yelling most furiously; but as I neared the
rock behind which all but his head and arm was covered he fled towards an
adjoining one, dodging dexterously, according to the native manner of
confusing an assailant and avoiding the cast of his spear; but he was
scarcely uncovered in his flight when my rifle ball pierced him through
the back between the shoulders, and he fell heavily on his face with a
deep groan.


The effect was electrical. The tumult of the combat had ceased: not
another spear was thrown, not another yell was uttered. Native after
native dropped away and noiselessly disappeared. I stood alone with the
wretched savage dying before me, and my two men close to me behind the
rocks, in the attitude of deep attention; and as I looked round upon the
dark rocks and forests, now suddenly silent and lifeless but for the
sight of the unhappy being who lay on the ground before me, I could have
thought that the whole affair had been a horrid dream.

For a second or two I gazed on the scene and then returned to my former
position. I took my gun from Coles, which he had not yet finished
loading, and gave him the rifle. I then went up to the other man, and
gave him two balls to hold, but when I placed them in his hands they
rolled upon the earth--he could not hold them, for he was completely
paralysed with terror, and they fell through his fingers; the
perspiration streamed from every pore; he was ghastly pale and trembled
from head to foot; his limbs refused their functions; his eyes were so
fixed in the direction in which the natives had disappeared that I could
draw his attention to nothing else; and he still continued repeating,
"Good God, sir! look at them, look at them."

The natives had all now concealed themselves, but they were not far off.
Presently the wounded man made an effort to raise himself slowly from the
ground: some of them instantly came from behind the rocks and trees,
without their spears, crowding round him with the greatest tenderness and
solicitude; two passed their arms round him, his head drooped senselessly
upon his chest, and with hurried steps the whole party wound their way
through the forest, their black forms being scarcely distinguishable from
the charred trunks of the trees as they receded in the distance.

To have fired upon the other natives when they returned for the wounded
man would, in my belief, have been an unnecessary piece of barbarity. I
already felt deeply the death of him I had been compelled to shoot: and I
believe that when a fellow-creature falls by one's hand, even in a single
combat rendered unavoidable in self-defence, it is impossible not
sincerely to regret the force of so cruel a necessity.


I had now time to attend to my own state and that of my men, and found
that they were uninjured. I had been severely wounded in the hip; another
spear had just cut my right arm, and a third had deeply indented my
powder-flask, whilst lying in a haversack, immediately over my stomach.
The men were not, up to this moment, aware of my being wounded, as I had
thought it better to conceal this circumstance from them as long as I
could. The natives had gone off in the direction of the tents; and as I
felt doubtful whether they might seize upon a favourable opportunity to
surprise the party there, and thus revenge their defeat, I was anxious to
reach the encampment as soon as possible. We therefore bound up my wound
as well as we could, picked up the spear which I had drawn out from my
hip, and started homewards.

We did not take with us any of the other spears or native weapons which
were lying about in abundance; for I still wished to show this people
that I was actuated by no ill will towards them. They did not however
deal so generously with us; for Coles unfortunately forgot a notebook
which he was carrying for me, containing many observations of great
value; and I sent back a party to look for it, but the natives had
returned to the place and carried off all their own spears, and other
weapons, and my notebook likewise.

The first part of our march homewards was managed tolerably well. We saw
the tracks of the natives, as if they were still retiring in the
direction of the tents; and at one place, close to a group of detached
rocks, were several tame native dogs, near which I have no doubt a party
of men or women were concealed, as these animals seldom wander far from
their masters. We did not however see any natives, and continued our
route unmolested.

My wound began by degrees to get very stiff and painful, and I was
moreover excessively weak and faint from loss of blood; indeed I grew so
dizzy that I could scarcely see, and neither of the others were capable
of leading the party back to the tents; yet I was afraid to halt and rest
for I imagined that if I allowed my wound to grow cold and benumbed I
should then be unable to move; leaning therefore on Coles's arm, I walked
on as rapidly as I could, directing the men which way to go.


Unfortunately however we lost our track and, after walking for nearly two
hours, I found that we were far from the encampment, whilst my sight and
strength were momentarily failing. Under these circumstances I told Coles
to walk in a direction which I gave him, and which led directly across
the beaten track of the party; having reached which he could easily make
out the encampment, and, leaning on his arm more heavily than before, we
again moved on.


Having reached the track of the party and turned southward to follow it I
still pushed on until we were within two miles of the tent, when, as I
tried to cross a stream, I strained my wounded hip severely, just reached
the opposite shore, and fell utterly unable to rise again. Coles, with
his usual courage and devotion to me, volunteered to go on alone to the
party and send assistance; the other man was to remain with me and keep a
lookout for the natives, and, had they again attacked us, I should still
have had strength enough to have shot two of them, and thus have sold my
life dearly. I desired Coles to say that a tent, stores, the surgeon, and
two men were to be sent to me, for that I was not well enough to be


The water of the stream revived me considerably. My wound however was
very painful, and the interim between Corporal Coles leaving me, and
assistance arriving from the tent was spent in meditations, arising
naturally from my present circumstances. I sat upon the rocky edge of a
cool clear brook, supported by a small tree. The sun shone out brightly,
the dark forest was alive with birds and insects. On such scenery I had
loved to meditate when a boy, but now how changed I was; wounded,
fatigued, and wandering in an unknown land. In momentary expectation of
being attacked my finger was on the trigger, my gun ready to be raised,
my eyes and ears busily engaged in detecting the slightest sounds, that I
might defend a life which I at that moment believed was ebbing with my
blood away; the loveliness of nature was around me, the sun rejoicing in
his cloudless career, the birds were filling the woods with their songs,
and my friends far away and unapprehensive of my condition, whilst I felt
that I was dying there.

And in this way very many explorers yearly die. One poor youth (Mr.
Frederick Smith) my own friend and companion, has thus fallen since the
circumstances above described took place; others have, to my knowledge,
lately perished in a similar way. A strange sun shines upon their lonely
graves; the foot of the wild man yet roams over them: but let us hope
when civilization has spread so far that their graves will be sacred
spots that the future settlers will sometimes shed a tear over the
remains of the first explorer, and tell their children how much they are
indebted to the enthusiasm, perseverance, and courage of him who lies
buried there.

Mr. Walker was by my side within an hour after the time that Coles had
left me; he had come on alone ahead of the others, not knowing but that I
might be in immediate danger, and therefore running a risk on my account
that I can never forget.

He dressed my wound and told me that assistance was at hand to convey me
to the tents. Mr. Lushington soon arrived with a pony. It was now growing
very late in the day. I therefore did not like to remonstrate against
being moved on horseback although, from the position of my wound, I
feared that it was an injudicious mode of conveyance in my state. I was
placed upon the pony and, supported by my comrades, moved onwards to the


I cared but little for the want of comforts I must now be subject to.
Therein I only shared the lot of many a worthy soldier; but one thing
made the night very wretched, for then through the woods came the
piercing shrieks of wailing women and the mournful cries of native men,
sorrowing over him who had that day fallen by my hand. These cries rang
on my ears all night, startling me at every moment from my feverish and
fitful slumbers.

Early next morning the natives moved off in a westerly direction without
having again attempted in any way whatever to molest us. My wound was not
today so painful as I had anticipated. Mr. Walker, at my request,
attempted to heal it by union by the first intention, as I hoped to be
thus only compelled to delay the party for a few days.

My pain and suffering were, after the first day, so great, owing to an
abscess having formed in my hip, that I was unable to keep a regular
journal, and will therefore give a short narrative of the events which
occurred, recommencing my journal on the 27th of February, the day on
which I was sufficiently recovered to enable me to proceed with the


Two or three days after I had been wounded the man from the Cape, who had
been with me at the time, came to request that he might be allowed to
leave the party and return to the vessel. He stated very fairly that his
horror and dread of the natives were so great he should never be able to
face them; that he had never been before placed in circumstances of
danger; and felt himself quite unable to cope with them; that if his own
father had been with him when they attacked us he could not have helped
him; and that he was sure he should die of fright if ever he saw them

I thought it would be cruel to compel him to remain with the party, and
it was moreover impossible to tell what evil effect his cowardice might
produce upon the others; when already he had, by running away from the
natives, induced them to attack us. The only account he gave of this
transaction was that he saw a native sitting on a rock with a spear and,
feeling alarmed, immediately ran away. No one after this could feel in
the least surprised at the consequences. The peculiar characteristic of
this savage race appears to be that they in all cases act upon first
impulses and impressions. I have repeatedly remarked this trait in their
character; and undoubtedly when they found an unknown being in their
native wilds, who fled from them in evident fear, it was to be expected
that they would, in the first instance, feel very much inclined to run
after, and throw a spear at him.

On the 21st of February I sent a party under Mr. Walker back to the
schooner for the purpose of escorting this man, as well as to direct the
Captain to delay her departure from the bay until the 2nd day of May;
which delay would allow time for us to complete the exploration of this
part of the country, and I could then decide upon what course I had
better adopt.


Mr. Walker returned on the 22nd, having executed both these commissions;
and his party brought back for me a little sugar, arrowroot, and wine.
All of these were articles of which, in my present state, I stood much in

My recovery was a good deal delayed by the circumstances in which I was
placed. The heat in the store-tent, a portion of which I occupied, was
sometimes as high as 136 degrees of Fahrenheit, and until the return of
Mr. Walker I had been able to obtain nothing to eat or drink but damper
and tea without sugar; I also reclined upon the ground, until sores broke
out from lying on so hard a surface in one position. Corporal Auger
latterly however made a sort of low stretcher, which gave me a little
more ease. Added to these bodily ills were many mental ones--but I will
not dwell longer on times so replete with painful recollections.


During the time I was lying in my tent, in great pain and very low
spirits, I was attended with every care and kindness by Ruston, the
sailor I had brought from the Cape, who occasionally suggested such odd
topics of comfort as his philosophy could supply; and one day, either
from some expressions I had dropped, or other circumstance, he conceived
that the death of the native I had shot was preying most upon my mind;
under this impression he came into the tent, seated himself on a
flour-bag near me, and made his usual inquiries as to my wants and
desires; then, glancing at recent events, proceeded to say: "Well, Sir,
I'm sure if I were you, I shouldn't think nothing at all of having shot
that there black fellow; why, Sir, they're very thick and plentiful up
the country." I did not exactly see the consolation to be derived from
this argument of Ruston's, but I could not forbear smiling at its
quaintness, and feeling grateful for the kindness with which it was


During my illness Mr. Lushington explored a track to the westward of the
one I had formerly taken, and of which he reported so favourably that I
determined to pursue it. According to his account, by following it for
seven or eight miles, we should get altogether clear of the sandstone
ranges, and enter a tract of country of great fertility. On the 26th Mr.
Walker reported me to be so much better that he thought I might with
safety move on the next day on horseback, and preparations were
accordingly made for a start.

A very serious change had taken place in our resources in one respect,
for only fourteen ponies now remained alive out of twenty-six, and many
of these were so weak and in such bad condition as to be almost useless.
On opening one of those which had died about a hat-full of sand was found
in its inside, and it therefore appeared very probable that the ponies,
having been landed in the first instance on loose sandy soil producing
only a short and scanty vegetation, had taken up so much sand with their
food as to interfere with the functions of the stomach, and hence had
arisen their gradual wasting away and ultimate death. I indeed entertain
no doubt that the great loss of ponies we sustained arose from this


This reduction in the number of our beasts of burden prevented me from
entertaining further hope of being able to proceed for any great distance
parallel to the coast in a southerly direction. I therefore formed a
depot at our present encampment, burying all such stores as the remaining
ponies were unable to carry on. My intentions being merely to proceed as
far as the supply of provisions we could carry with us would last, then
to return to our position, and from thence to the schooner.


On the morning of the 27th of February I was, in pursuance of this plan
of operations, lifted on my horse, and we moved on in a south-west
direction, across sandy plains covered with scrub and a species of
stringy-bark; but on travelling for about a mile and a half the character
of the country became more rocky and difficult. After moving down a
slight descent, we came to a rapid stream, the same one on the banks of
which I had heard the natives' calls on the day I was wounded; the banks
afforded good food for the horses and trees which offered some shelter to
the men from the burning heat of the sun. I determined therefore to halt
here for breakfast; indeed the horses were so completely knocked up that
they were incapable of travelling any further. We had already been
compelled to abandon one of them in a dying state since we had started in
the morning.

We halted for about an hour and a half and then recommenced our journey,
but were unfortunate enough to miss the marked trees, and therefore
wandered a good deal in our attempts to find the right track. Whilst thus
roaming in the wood we passed two spots about one hundred yards distant
from each other, which I imagined to be native burying-places: they
consisted of piles of small loose stones so heaped together as to form a
large mound; these mounds were placed on flat bare rocks, one of them,
the smaller, had been recently made, the other was larger and much older,
for it was partly overgrown with plants.


About 2 P.M. we reached the extremity of the sandstone ridges and a
magnificent view burst upon us. From the summit of the hills on which we
stood an almost precipitous descent led into a fertile plain below; and
from this part, away to the southward, for thirty to forty miles,
stretched a low luxuriant country, broken by conical peaks and rounded
hills which were richly grassed to their very summits. The plains and
hills were both thinly wooded, and curving lines of shady trees marked
out the courses of numerous streams. Since I have visited this spot I
have traversed large portions of Australia but have seen no land, no
scenery to equal it. We were upon the confines of a great volcanic
district, clothed with tropical vegetation, to which the Isle of France
bears a greater resemblance than any other portion of the world which I
am acquainted with. The rocks in both places are identical; many of the
trees are also the same; and there are several other close and striking
points of similarity.


The descent into the lowlands, being very difficult, occupied us nearly
two hours; we then gained the bed of a ravine, in which ran a clear
stream: the ravine gradually widening out as we reached the plains. I
proceeded directly down it in the direction of a lofty peaked hill which
bore to the westward of south; and, having gained a shoulder of this
hill, we halted for the night.

Immediately above us a perfectly conical peak raised its head to the
height of at least five hundred feet;* this hill was covered with rich
grass, and there could be no doubt that it was of volcanic origin, for
the rock of which it was composed was a vitrified lava resembling that of
Ascension. It is from this lava that the natives form their most deadly
spears, for which purpose it answers well, as it fractures easily, and
the fracture resembles that of the coarse green glass of England; indeed
a lump of this rock might readily be taken for a part of a glass bottle.

(*Footnote. This hill may be easily recognized by a precipitous cavity
near the summit on its southern side, which may be seen at some

The horses and sheep revelled in the luxuriant pasture. The hill we had
encamped on formed a sort of plateau; behind us stood dark mountains, and
in our front lay fertile plains, from which green hills rose one behind
the other until they were lost in the distance, without any perceptible
change in the character of the country. To the eastward the prospect was
similar, as well as to the westward, except that in this direction the
hills were more lofty, and behind these the tropical sun was hurrying
down with a rapidity of movement never witnessed by those who live in the
gloomy climes of the north. The men all looked healthy and full of hope;
the cool sea-breeze refreshed my feverish frame: I painted in fancy the
rapid progress that this country would ere long make in commerce and
civilization, and my weakness and fatigues were all forgotten.


February 28.

At dawn this morning the sheep could not be found; tempted by the
goodness of the feed they had broken out from the little enclosure we had
made for them and had wandered off. The stock-keeper and two of the men,
having ascended the conical hill behind us to try if they could see them
from it, reported on their return that they could descry a large lake or
expanse of water, which bore about south by west from us.


Whilst the search for the sheep was continued I sent another party up the
hill to observe more particularly this sheet of water, who returned with
a report similar to that of the stock-keeper, and I therefore determined,
as soon as everything had been prepared for starting, to move off in the
direction pointed out; unfortunately the sheep were not found till near
noon but, as I was afraid we should consequently lose a whole day, I
started directly after they were brought in. We had not proceeded more
than half a mile ere I had cause to repent this measure, for two or three
of the men suffered severely from exposure to the sun, and one of them
became so unwell that I was obliged to halt the party.

The spot I chose was the bank of a stream, shaded over by dense trees
and, if anything could have atoned for the mortification of being
compelled to halt when so anxious to get on, the cool beauty of this spot
would have done so.

When the sun began to fall we again moved on, following the course of the
stream, which ran through a fertile valley about two miles wide and
bounded on either side by gently sloping hills, extending through a
country thinly wooded. We did not halt until after sunset.

March 1.

This morning we resumed our route along the banks of the stream, which
continued gradually to increase in size. The marshy ground now extended
further from its banks and, in order to free ourselves from this, I
ascended some rising ground to the eastward, along which we pursued our
route until we fell in with another rapid stream running from the
eastward, and were again involved in marshy land, which delayed us for
some time ere we found a point where loaded ponies could pass. At length
however, having succeeded in getting clear of these obstructions, we
continued our southerly course till we came to a deep stream running from
south-south-east; but, not being able to cross it there, we travelled
along its banks until a ford was found; and as soon as we had passed over
I halted for breakfast.


We had traversed a most beautiful country this morning, composed of
basaltic rocks and fine alluvial soil, whilst, from the size and number
of the streams, it must be as well watered as any region in the world.
Before we had completed our breakfast violent tropical rains set in;
these were so cold that some of the men got into the stream, the waters
of which were comparatively warm, and they thus saved themselves from the
painful feeling caused by very cold water falling on the pores, which had
been previously opened by profuse perspiration. The heavy rains continued
without intermission for the remainder of the day and night, and two of
the men were, on this occasion, attacked with dysentery, caused, I
believe, by cold and exposure.


March 2.

We started at dawn, crossing a series of low ridges which ran out from a
chain of hills to the eastward of us, and increased in elevation as we
proceeded to the south. We passed numerous streams, and the country
generally continued of a very rich and fertile character: at last, from
the top of one of these ridges, there burst upon the sight a noble river,
running through a beautiful country, and, where we saw it, at least three
or four miles across, and studded with numerous verdant islands. I have
since seen many Australian rivers, but none to equal this either in
magnitude or beauty.

I at once named it the Glenelg in compliment to the Right Honourable Lord
Glenelg, to whom we were all under great obligations.


My anxiety to reach this stream was too great to allow me to pass much
time in looking at it, so, after I had taken a few bearings to the most
remarkable points in the neighbourhood, we wound down the steep descent
in front, and continued our advance towards the river, but were still at
least five miles from it when we became involved in low marshy ground,
traversed by deep sluggish streams, the banks of which were encumbered by
a dense vegetation. Such a country, though admirably adapted both for
commerce and agriculture, offered almost insurmountable difficulties to
first explorers, at least to such as were compelled to move rapidly. We
at last became so completely entangled in a marsh that further progress
was hopeless, and we halted to prepare breakfast whilst a party searched
for a path by which we might be enabled to proceed.

My wound was still open and my sufferings from it were great; whenever we
moved on I was lifted on the pony, and when we halted I was lifted off
again and laid on the ground, where weakness compelled me to remain
during the whole period of our halt; and on occasions like the present,
when most anxious myself to search for a route, I was obliged to lie
still like a helpless child. My mind was as active and as ready for
exertion as ever, yet the weak frame, of which it felt perfectly
independent, was incapable of seconding my most moderate wishes; and the
annoyance I experienced at finding myself in this state long retarded my
recovery and rendered me weaker every day.

At length a route was found, and until sunset we continued our journey
over a very difficult but fertile country, and then halted for the night
on a small elevation, embosomed amidst conical hills which rose from
verdant meadows, watered by several streams. The country was thinly

The spot we had halted at was so thickly tenanted with mosquitoes that it
was impossible to sleep. I therefore laid awake, listening to the cries
of the sea-birds and watching the brilliant fire-flies moving about in
the dark foliage of the trees.


March 3.

Before the first dawn I called some of the party and we started off to
visit the banks of the river. The first part of our journey lay across
rich grassy flats, thinly wooded with large shady trees, or over gently
rising grounds, on which grew an abundance of young grass which appeared
to be a species of oat. These rising grounds were thinly wooded with a
small sort of gum tree, called in the Isle of France the Bois noir.

We soon reached low marshy land intersected with large dry mud flats and,
as it was impossible, from the nature of the country, to get the pony
further, I tethered it, and we tried to make the river on foot. The
position which we had selected was however so unfavourable that we did
not succeed in reaching the river, and my wound became so painful that I
was scarcely able to crawl back to the pony.

We then returned to the tents, which we reached in the afternoon, and I
sent another party out to examine the country and to see if they could
find a more favourable position for the tent where we might be less
exposed to the mosquitoes. The remainder of the men were employed in
repairing the packsaddles and in mending our shoes, which were in a very
dilapidated condition. The detached party, on their return, reported that
they could not find a more favourable position for the tents; and that we
appeared to be on a low marshy tongue of land which the river nearly
flowed round. We this day saw the tracks of an emu, and of several large
dogs, and kangaroos.


March 4.

By sunrise I had gained the foot of the highest hill near our encampment.
It is a very remarkable rocky eminence; in height above the immediate
base it was only 250 feet, but it rose by a regular steep slope from the
river, which was distant about four miles. I do not think therefore that
its height above the level of the sea was less than 800 feet. I was
unable to ride up this hill, from the rocky nature of the ground, which
was composed of a basalt resembling that of the Isle of France; its sides
were slightly wooded and clothed with a fine grass nearly as high as
myself. From the heaviness of the dew, walking through a river would have
been about as agreeable as walking through this grass; but when I had
reached the summit the view amply repaid me for the trouble of the


The river flowed through a rich and fertile country at the base of the
hill, having in some places hereabouts a triple channel formed by large
and apparently fertile islands, and its width must have been at least
three or four miles; it however ran away so much to the north-eastward
that I began to fear it might be a great salt-water inlet, communicating
in some manner with Prince Regent's River, and that we might thus find
ourselves upon a large island. I had a good view of the valley for 10 or
12 miles in an easterly direction over a country still very fertile, but
all that I saw tended to make me believe that the river had some
communication with the sea, somewhere towards the north-east.

We reached the camp before breakfast; and, as this was Sunday and our
ponies were rapidly improving from the goodness of their feed, I
determined to halt here for a day or two whilst a detachment examined the
country to ascertain, if possible, whether we were on an island or not,
and whether it was possible to cross the river near our present position.

March 5.

This morning accordingly an exploring party started; and, as it was
necessary that they should traverse the country on foot so as to be able
to cross the low marshy grounds near the river, I was, on account of my
wound, unable to accompany them, and therefore occupied myself in making
a set of magnetic observations.

March 6.

This afternoon Mr. Lushington and the party returned, having found the
northern bank of the river to consist of low marshy ground covered with a
luxuriant vegetation, and in some places with such forests of mangrove
trees that it was impossible to approach the stream. They however
succeeded in reaching one of the channels of the river, which was upwards
of 400 yards wide; the rise and fall of tide was here about twenty feet,
and the current, of course, extremely rapid. They reported the river as
being, to all appearance, navigable, and that the tide only set in from
the westward.


As the southern bank of the river was bordered by high rocky hills they
saw nothing of the country in that direction. Their report was on the
whole satisfactory, for it appeared that the good country still extended
along the northern bank, and that we were upon the mainland.


A good idea may be formed of the size of the river where the party made
it from the circumstance of their seeing a large shoal of porpoises.


March 7.

This morning we started early in a north-easterly direction and travelled
all day through a very fertile and picturesque country. On our left lay
hills covered with grass, and on our right extensive plains, through
which ran the Glenelg. The vegetation in these was so luxuriant that it
choked the fresh water up; and whole plains were sometimes thus inundated
ankle deep. The country was thinly timbered, but in general the trees
were of a very great size: one particularly took my fancy, having very
large leaves about the colour of those of the horse-chestnut, and which
cast more shade around them than any other which I have seen in

In the afternoon, as we were passing through a densely vegetated bottom,
we saw a very large iguana run up a tree. This brute was of a beautiful
green colour and five or six feet long; it sat on the tree, making a
noise somewhat like a snake, and was the largest and ugliest of the
lizard tribe which I have ever seen on land. As we could make no use of
it I thought it would be wanton to kill it; so, after examining it as
well as we could, we moved on, leaving it undisturbed.

The black flies on this day changed their character, and became much
smaller than those I had hitherto seen.

March 8.

We made but little progress today on account of the denseness of the
vegetation, which was so luxuriant that we found great difficulty in
forcing our way through it; in several instances indeed it was wholly
impassable; and, after making an attempt to penetrate through a jungle,
we were obliged to turn about and coast round it. The numerous streams we
met with were also a serious impediment, for many of these were so muddy
and deep that we had great difficulty in finding a place where we could


We halted for breakfast near a stream of this kind, under the shade of a
large group of the pandanus. This was evidently a favourite haunt of the
natives, who had been feeding upon the almonds which this tree contains
in its large complex fruit, and to give a relish to their repast had
mingled with it roasted unios, or fresh-water mussels, which the stream
produced in abundance. The remains of some old spears were also lying
about, but the natives themselves were not visible.

Immediately after breakfast I ascended a hill to see if we could in any
way get clear of the deep stream on the banks of which we had
breakfasted. The Glenelg was distant about three miles to the south, and
I found that, in order to disengage ourselves from the waters which
almost encompassed us, we must turn off to the north-west, and thus
almost double back on our former track, as there was no other resource. I
returned at once to the party, and we spent the rest of the day in
crossing two deep streams, and then proceeded about a mile to the
eastward, where we halted for the night on the bank of a rocky
watercourse, but not containing a drop of water. The timber today was
larger than I had yet seen it, affording many new kinds, and one in
particular, resembling in appearance and quality the English ash.

March 9.

We moved through a low country, densely vegetated, and still abounding in
deep sluggish streams, almost unapproachable, on account of a dwarf
bamboo and other tropical plants which clothed their margins. Some of
these streams were twenty feet deep and upwards, and looked more like
canals than natural watercourses.


The point where we halted for the night was not very distant from the
river, for its roaring, as it forced itself over a rapid, could be
distinctly heard. As it was important to ascertain if it ceased to be
navigable at this point, as well as whether it could be here forded or
not, I ordered a party to proceed at daylight and examine it, and in the
interim we laid down to enjoy such repose as myriads of mosquitoes would
allow us.

March 10.

The party started at dawn and did not return until the afternoon. They
arrived at low-water at a point where the river formed a series of rapids
and was apparently broken into several channels; the one which they
reached was not more than fifty or sixty yards wide, the tide at low
water being full seven or eight feet below the level of the rocks which
formed the rapids, but at high-water it rose, judging from the marks on
the rocks, as many feet above them. This channel would therefore cease to
be navigable for vessels at this point, but large boats could proceed up
it at high-water. There was no apparent possibility of our being able to
pass it hereabouts on account of the great rapidity of the current. The
river continued fresh below the rapids, and their account of the
character of the country they saw was most satisfactory.


Almost immediately after they had entered the camp the rain began to fall
in such torrents that it was impossible for us to move; this was
unfortunate for where we were halted was unfit for a day's resting-place,
and we should consequently be compelled to move on Sunday morning instead
of making it a day of perfect rest. The point where the party made the
river today was about south latitude 15 degrees 41 minutes; east
longitude 124 degrees 53 minutes.



March 11.

The country we traversed this morning was still marshy, and intersected
by deep streams. The party had yesterday fixed upon a point for us to
encamp at; but, a sudden inundation having taken place, we could not
cross a stream which lay between us and the spot selected, so that we
were compelled about noon to halt at a position very ill adapted for our


Close to our camp was a large mass of basaltic rocks, on which the
natives had lately been, and had left behind them a few old spears: some
drawings were also scratched upon the rocks, representing heads, hands,
and other parts of the human frame: they were however indifferently

Another branch of industry which had engaged their attention was the
manufacture of stone spearheads, the chips and remnants of which were
lying about on every side. As this looked very like a preparation to give
us a warm reception I kept upon the alert. From constantly sleeping on
the wet ground, and the exposure I was obliged to undergo, such an attack
of rheumatism had been produced in my left hip and knee that I was not
only crippled but suffered such dreadful agony from my wounded limb that
I was able to pay but little attention to passing events.

I crept about however as well as I could, and found that we were in a
very populous neighbourhood. At one place a large party of natives
appeared to have lived for some time, twelve bark beds having been left
in a circle round a fire. In this respect they differ in custom from the
natives of the southern parts of Australia, who generally sleep all of a
heap, or, at least, four or five persons together, whereas each
individual here appeared to occupy his own little bark bed. In the course
of the morning's march we had passed a very neat native oven, or
fireplace, much more carefully constructed than anything of the kind I
have since seen; it consisted of a hole sunk eight inches deep in the
earth, which was quite circular, three feet in diameter, and very neatly
paved and lined with flat stones; the last article cooked here had been a
large quantity of turtles' eggs, the remnants of which were lying
scattered all around. This is a dish by no means to be despised; and the
discovery was rather interesting to me as it proved that turtle came so
far up the river. It rained hard during the greater part of the day.

March 12.

As we were preparing to start this morning one of the ponies was found to
be so knocked up as to be unable to proceed; I therefore abandoned it,
though, I fear, in a state too far gone to recover; but if perfect rest
and abundance of good feed and water could effect a restoration it had
still a fair chance.


A ford over the stream had yesterday been found between the Glenelg and
our encampment, which we now succeeded in getting the ponies over, and,
in order to avoid another stream, which had been seen to the eastward, we
turned north-east, but in about three miles were again at fault, on the
banks of a deep brook. I now turned due north and, after tracing the
stream for about a mile, discovered a ford across which, after a due
proportion of sticking in the mud and falling with their loads in the
deep water, we led all the ponies, and found ourselves happily
established in a jungle on the other side of it. The vegetation here
consisted of grass and reeds which rose so high and thick that I could
see nothing over them, although there was rising land within a mile of

We first endeavoured to push through this jungle in an easterly
direction; but, after having very resolutely made our way onwards for
about an hour, I saw some very high land to the south-east of us, distant
four or five miles, and therefore changed the direction of our march to
make for these hills; as soon as we had gained a clear place in the
jungle I halted for breakfast, and, after resting for an hour, we
continued, notwithstanding the dreadful heat of the day, to move on, but
soon again came to a deep, sluggish stream which obliged us to turn off
to the north-east; and it was not until near nightfall that we found a
place where we could cross it.


Having traversed the stream we proceeded to the foot of a very lofty
peak, the most remarkable hill in this part of the country, and which I
named Mount Lyell, after C. Lyell, Esquire. We here pitched the tents,
and scarcely was this operation performed ere the rain fell in such
torrents that the water stood even under them to the depth of two or
three inches, and yet the tents were fixed in the best position that
could be found. The night was dark and stormy so that, even had a better
place offered, it would now have been useless to move; we therefore
resigned ourselves to our fate and lay down on our watery beds, which
possessed at least one merit, that they were free from mosquitoes.

March 13.

Before the mists of morning had cleared away from the lofty hills to the
north-east of our encampment I had commenced their ascent with a party of
three men. To my great vexation, on taking out the barometer at the
bottom of the hill, it was broken, and I could therefore no longer hope
to be able to obtain the height of remarkable elevations. I managed to
ride the pony up the hill for some time, but the broken and rocky nature
of the ground obliged me at last to walk, and I left the animal tethered
in rich grass higher than itself.


When we gained the summit of the hill I found that in the mists of the
morning we had ascended the wrong peak. The one we stood on was composed
of basalt and at least twelve hundred feet high; but Mount Lyell, another
peak springing from the same range, and not more than a mile to the
eastward, must have been four or five hundred feet higher. It was
moreover distinguished by a very remarkable feature, namely, a regular
circle, as it were, drawn round the peak, some two hundred feet below the
summit, and above this ring no trees grew; the conical peak which reared
its head above the region of trees being only clothed with the greenest
grass, whilst that on which I stood and all the others I could see were
thinly wooded to their very summits.

The peak we had ascended afforded us a very beautiful view: to the north
lay Prince Regent's River, and the good country we were now upon extended
as far as the inlets which communicated with this great navigable stream;
to the south and south-westward ran the Glenelg, meandering through as
verdant and fertile a district as the eye of man ever rested on. The
luxuriance of tropical vegetation was now seen to the greatest advantage,
in the height of the rainy season. The smoke of native fires rose in
various directions from the country, which lay like a map at our feet;
and when I recollected that all these natural riches of soil and climate
lay between two navigable rivers, and that its sea-coast frontage, not
much exceeding fifty miles in latitude, contained three of the finest
harbours in the world, in each of which the tide rose and fell
thirty-seven and a half feet, I could not but feel we were in a land
singularly favoured by nature.


I remained for some time on the summit of this hill, enjoying the
prospect, and taking bearings. When this operation was completed we
returned to the camp and prepared once more to proceed upon our route;
but, to our misfortune, had not made more than two or three miles through
a fertile country when the rain again fell in such torrents that we were
compelled to halt. Indeed none but those who have been in tropical
countries can at all conceive with what suddenness and force these storms
burst upon us.

March 14.

We this morning made an attempt to get clear of the marshes by following
a south-easterly course, and were thus forced up into a range of lofty
basaltic mountains, the slopes of which were of the richest description.
Had our ponies been provided with shoes we could have travelled here with
great speed and facility, but the higher land was invariably covered with
sharp pebbles over which the unshod ponies could only move with pain and
difficulty. When however we had gained the summit of the range the view
from it was similar to that which I have just described. Mount Wellington
and Mount Trafalgar formed splendid objects, rearing their bold rocky
heads over St. George's Basin, which now bore the appearance of being a
vast lake. The pleasure of the prospect was however in my eyes somewhat
diminished from seeing on the other side of the range so considerable a
stream that I anticipated great difficulty in crossing it; I therefore
steered a course somewhat more southerly than our former route and,
having reached the extremity of the range, we once more descended into
the fertile lowlands.


Along these our course continued through an uninterrupted succession of
rich flats, thinly wooded but luxuriantly grassed, until near sunset,
when, as we were about descending the brow of a low hill, I found that
the Glenelg, having made a sudden turn, was close to us, whilst in our
front, and completely blocking up our passage, there was a very large
tributary which joined the river from the north-east; I therefore halted
the party here for the night, and at once proceeded down to the river.

It was quite fresh and running at the rate of more than five knots an
hour; the bed was composed of fine white sand, and even close to the
margin it was 2 1/2 fathoms in depth. The trees which bordered it were of
a gigantic height and size, I think the largest that I have seen in
Australia; whilst it was almost impossible to get down to the stream,
from the denseness of the vegetation on its banks. Before we reached the
main channel of the river we had several smaller ones to cross, but of
very insignificant depth.

I stood for some time watching this dark turbid stream sweeping rapidly
along, and could not but wonder where so great a body of water could have
its source. I had then seen no other Australian rivers, but judging from
description this differed widely from them all.

I have since visited many of the most noted Australian streams and found
this distinguished by many peculiar characteristics; nor would I hesitate
to say that, with exception perhaps of the Murray, it will be found the
most important on that continent; and, taking into consideration its
geographical position, the fertility of the country on its banks, as far
as it is yet known, and the rise and fall of tide, it may perhaps not
yield in consideration even to the Murray.


I now examined the tributary stream which here joined the Glenelg, and to
my chagrin found that it was so much swollen by the late rains as to be
utterly impassable. To attempt to construct a bridge over it would have
been useless for the adjacent ground was now so swampy the horses were
bogged before we got them near it. I wandered up its banks as far as I
could before nightfall, but could not succeed in finding any place in our
vicinity at which we might hope to effect our passage. Just as it got
dark the rain again began to pour in torrents; thus, if possible,
rendering our position worse than before, and I returned late to the
tents much dispirited at the unfavourable weather we had encountered.


On going down to the Glenelg the next morning I found it so swollen by
the heavy rain of the preceding night as to render it impossible to get
near the main bed. The river was now far beyond its banks, and in the
forks of the trees above our heads we saw driftwood, reeds, dead grass,
etc., lodged at least fifteen feet higher than the present level; and
which could only have been left there during some great flood. Whether
these had frequently recurred we had of course no means of judging, but
during such floods the whole of the very low country which we here saw to
the south-west of us must be inundated. I need scarcely add that in a
tropical country no ground could be conceived better adapted to the
growth of rice than the extensive levels which border the Glenelg.

A detached party now went of to search for a route by which we could
proceed. The stock-keeper came and reported that the sheep were suffering
greatly from the continued rain and exposure to wet, several of them
having died during the night; only five were thus left alive out of the
number we started with, and, one of these being in a drooping state, I
had it killed that we might not lose the advantage of it altogether.


Immediately on the other side of the tributary stream which lay to the
south of us there rose a high precipitous sandy range, similar to those
we had fallen in with on first landing. This range completely overlooked
our encampment from a distance, and on it a party of natives had posted
themselves. We saw the smoke of their fires and heard their own cries and
the yelling of their dogs; and with the help of my telescope I once
distinguished their dusky forms moving about in the bush.


A large flight of cockatoos which lay between us and them were kept in a
constant state of screaming anxiety from the movements of one or the
other party, and at last found their position so unpleasant that they
evacuated it and flew off to some more quiet roosting-place. Their
departure however was a serious loss to us, as they played somewhat the
same part that the geese once did in the Capitol; for whenever our sable
neighbours made the slightest movement the watchful sentinels of the
cockatoos instantly detected it and, by stretching out their crests,
screaming, standing on their toes on the highest trees, with their wings
spread abroad to support them, and peering eagerly in the direction where
the movement was made, they gave us faithful intimation of every motion.

When therefore this advanced guard took unto themselves wings and flew
away I was obliged to keep all hands on the alert to prevent a surprise.
Whilst we were thus occupied our detachment returned and reported the
country to be utterly impracticable. I determined however to examine it
myself the next morning in order to be quite satisfied upon so important
a point.

March 16.

I moved off at dawn this morning with a party, but after following the
direction of the stream for several miles I found that the whole of the
land between it and the foot of the hills had been rendered by the heavy
rains a marsh quite impassable for horses, which was rendered the more
annoying as the swamp was not more than a mile in width, so that this
slight space alone prevented us from pursuing our desired route. Nothing
however was now left us but to turn once more to the north-west, and thus
to endeavour to head the marsh.


Just as we had prepared to return home the cries of the natives arose
close to us; their fire was about half a mile away, and their calls had
already several times been heard. Now that they were so near us I thought
it better to load my second barrel with ball, for I did not like their
hanging about us in the way they had done for several days. On putting my
hand into my haversack in order to prepare some ammunition I found, to my
great dismay, that I had taken in mistake one which belonged to another
man and which contained no ammunition; nor was there a ball in possession
of any person with me which would fit my gun and, as I knew that the aim
of those with me was not much to be depended on, even under the coolest
and most favourable circumstances, I thought that in the moment of a
desperate attack it might be still less sure; this, added to the want of
confidence incident on finding oneself unarmed and dependent on the
protection of others, made me feel very uncomfortable until we once more
reached the tents.


During the early part of the day the rain fell in torrents; but, as it
cleared off a little soon after our arrival, we started in a
north-westerly direction. Such violent storms of thunder, lightning, and
rain set in when we had made about two or three miles that I was again
obliged to halt; and as it continued to rain heavily throughout the
night, our situation, which was already bad, might now be said to be
hourly growing worse; and it can readily be conceived that, between
rheumatism in my wounded limb, lying in water, and vexation at the
constant difficulties we experienced, I was too much harassed to be able
to sleep.


The continued rain during the night had necessarily rendered the marsh
far more impracticable than before; but, as no other route to the
southward could be found on account of the river which lay upon either
hand, I was compelled to wait until the ground again in some measure
dried. But it would have been equally as impossible to beat a retreat as
it was to get forward, for we were in a manner surrounded by swampy land,
and when the loads were placed upon the ponies they sank nearly up to the
shoulders in a bog in whichever direction we attempted to move; but as
our present position would have been unsafe in the event of an extensive
inundation taking place I judged it necessary at all events to reach a
somewhat elevated outlying hill of sandstone which was distant about two
miles. This point we succeeded at last in gaining, although not without
severely injuring and straining some of the ponies in effecting it. This
rising ground was however well situated for our camp under present
circumstances: it was composed of porous sandstone, which in these
climates dries almost immediately after rain. There was plenty of dead
wood upon it and it was surrounded by richly-grassed flats, whilst from
the base gushed forth a clear spring, which then murmured along a purling
brook, traversing the flat on which the ponies were tethered.


Close to this spot the attention of Mr. Lushington was drawn to a curious
misshapen mass which came advancing from some bushes with a novel and
uncouth motion. He fired and it fell, and on going up to it he found that
it was a small kangaroo enveloped in the folds of a large snake, a
species of Boa. The kangaroo was now quite dead, and flattened from the
pressure of the folds of the snake which, being surprised at the
disturbance it met with, was beginning to uncoil itself, when Mr.
Lushington drew out a pistol and shot it through the head. It was of a
brownish yellow colour and eight feet six inches long. The kangaroo we
found very good eating; and Mr. Walker, who ate a portion of the snake,
considered it to be as great a delicacy as an eel, but rather tougher.

There fortunately was an elevated pinnacle of rocks on the rising ground
upon which we were encamped; and from the top of these I was able in the
course of the day to get bearings and angles to many important objects; I
could also see many fixed points in my survey, so that the day could not
be considered as altogether a lost one.


March 18.

Throughout the whole of this day the rain poured in torrents so that the
ponies, notwithstanding the goodness of the feed, began again to suffer
from cold and exposure to the weather. They were so wild that we could
not venture to let them run loose, and, as it was impossible to tether
all of them under trees, the majority were left exposed to the pitiless
pelting of the storms; and they certainly made a very wretched appearance
as they stood with their sterns presented to the blast, and the water
pouring from their sides in perfect streams. I do not know whether this
was a very extraordinary season, but it is certain that if all rainy
periods in North-West Australia resemble it, to attempt to explore the
country at this time of the year would be fruitless. Such a good supply
of rain is a great advantage to an occupied country through which regular
lines of communication exist; as it then raises but slight impediments to
travellers; but the case is very different to first explorers who have to
find a ford over every stream and a passage across every swamp, and who
constantly run the risk of involving themselves in a perfectly impassable


March 19.

This morning was also ushered in with torrents of rain, chequered by
occasional intervals of fine weather of perhaps half an hour's duration.
Another sheep died and several of the ponies were very unwell. The men
who had been shifting the tethers of the horses at noon returned with the
intelligence that, during the period of their absence from the
encampment, a party of natives must have been close to us, watching our
movements, for that when they went out there were no traces of them near
the camp, which were now discernible in nearly every direction around us.

I selected the best bushman of my party and went off to see whether
anything was to be apprehended from these natives, but I soon found that
the report was in some degree exaggerated. Some natives had crept up to
within about a hundred yards of us, probably with the intention of making
a reconnaissance, and of then framing their future plans; they had
however been disturbed by the return of the men from the horses, and then
made off. It appears that they had approached us by walking up a stream
of water so as to conceal their trail, and then turned out of the stream
up its right bank; and although they had carefully trod in one another's
foot-marks, so as to conceal their number, we could make out the traces
of at least six or seven different men, which we followed to the spot
where, whilst creeping about to watch us, they had been disturbed. From
this point these children of the bush had disappeared, as it were by
magic: not a twig was broken, not a stone was turned, and we could not
perceive that the heavy drops of rain had been shaken from a single blade
of grass. We made wide casts in different directions but, not being able
to hit on their trail, I returned to the tents, more than ever convinced
of the necessity of being constantly on the watch against beings who were
often near us when we least dreamt of their presence, and, in an
unguarded moment, might so easily surprise and spear some of the party.


The rain continued to fall throughout the 20th, rendering our condition
every hour worse. Towards noon however the weather cleared a little, and
in a fine interval I mounted a high range of basaltic hills which lay
about a mile and a half to the westward. These hills were the highest
which I had yet ascended; and from them I gained a very extensive view.
The farthest extremity of the sandstone range which lay to the southward
and eastward did not appear to be more than ten or twelve miles distant.
Behind this barren range there again rose the conical tops of basaltic
hills, clothed in the greenest grass; and beyond these, in the far
south-east, I made out with the telescope a range of very lofty hills,
which, stretching their heads high into the clouds, left me without means
of forming any idea of their elevation: but even the portion of them
which met my view must have had a very considerable altitude. I took a
set of angles from this point but the mistiness of the day rendered it
very unfit for my purpose. Whilst I was thus occupied, we heard the cries
and calls of a party of natives between us and the tents. From the
loudness and proximity of these I augured badly and therefore hurried my
return; but we neither saw the natives themselves nor their tracks, and
were quite in ignorance as to what had been their intentions. Soon after
sunset the weather cleared up a little, and the stars, which came peeping
out, promised well for the next day.


March 21.

Although it had rained during the night and the sun this morning rose
bright and clear the country was still impassable owing to the late
continued torrents. I therefore went out with a detachment for the
purpose of exploring a route by which we could proceed the next day, as
well as to define some more points in the country we were about to enter.
In the course of our walk we crossed the track of the natives we had
heard yesterday. Their party must have been large, for they approached to
within about three hundred yards of the tents, leaving a trail as broad
and large as was made by our ponies and party together. I did not much
like their hanging about us for so many days as I rather mistrusted their
intentions; their object however appeared to have been to examine the
ponies, for they had only come as far as the tethering ground and, after
wandering about there a little, had again retired. We were unfortunate in
our search for a good line of country by which to proceed, but I made
some important additions to my map.


March 22.

As fine weather had apparently set in again we this morning resumed our
journey. The poor ponies looked very weak and wretched when they were
brought up to start, and we were all ragged, dirty, and worn out from the
constant exposure to wind and rain; indeed our appearance was altogether
very miserable on moving off, and our progress, too, very slow and
fatiguing, both to ourselves and the horses, on account of the swampy
nature of the ground; but we strenuously persevered until near noon, when
I halted for breakfast at the foot of some lofty hills, at the base of
which ran the stream which was giving us so much trouble. As soon as we
had despatched our scanty breakfast I tried with a party to find a
passage across the marsh, but our search was in vain and, on examining
the sandstone range on the other side of the stream, I found it so
precipitous that our weak ponies could not possibly have clambered up it.


Whilst on our return we found a native bridge, formed of a fallen tree,
which rested against two others and was secured in its position by forked


I was thus obliged to continue to travel in a north-east direction for
the remainder of the afternoon, when we found, at last, a passage over
the marsh, but made vain attempts to cross the sandstone range in no less
than four different places; the ponies were so weak and the route so
precipitous that each time we were obliged to return. At length we
reached the watershed, from one side of which the streams ran down to
Prince Regent's River, and from the other to the Glenelg; the rocks on
the south side were ancient sandstone resting on basalt, and on the
opposite the basalt crept out, forming elevated hills. This position was
remarkable both in a geological and geographical point of view; and, the
sandstone range over against us looking rather more accessible than it
had previously done, I determined to halt here for the night and examine
the country; but my resolution was scarcely formed ere such heavy storms
of rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning, came on as totally to
prevent me from seeing to any distance or taking any bearings.

On entering the old red sandstone district again the parakeets became
once more common, and the green ants reappeared. These last seem to be
solely confined to the sandstone, for I did not see one without its


March 23.

This morning we made a more fortunate effort to ascend the sandstone
range which had yesterday so baffled our efforts; and having commenced
the ascent at 6 A.M. reached the summit at 10, but the poor little ponies
were dreadfully exhausted. Having now established ourselves upon this
narrow elevated tableland the next thing was to descend on the other
side. The prospect to the southward and eastward was not very cheering,
for before we could make any further progress in either of those
directions we had a perfect precipice to get down, at the foot of which
lay a beautiful and verdant valley about three miles wide, diversified
with wood and water; whilst a large cascade which could be seen falling
in a dark forest on the other side added much to the scenery. Beyond the
valley rose again rocky sandstone ranges, but I knew that the width of
these was inconsiderable.


After a very tedious search we discovered a sort of pass leading
diagonally down the face of the precipice; but before attempting to take
the ponies over this it was necessary to move many large rocks and
stones, to cut down trees, and otherwise make it practicable for them.
All hands however set cheerfully to work, and by 1 P.M. the whole party
had safely reached the bottom of the precipice. The valley that we were
in was very fertile but, from the incessant rain which had lately fallen,
the centre part of it had become an impassable swamp, and we were thus
once more obliged to turn to the northward in order to travel round it:
but as rest and food were necessary both for horses and men we halted at
the foot of the sandstone range for breakfast.


As we were pursuing our route in the afternoon we fell in with a specimen
of the remarkable frilled lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii); this animal
measures about twenty-four inches from the tip of the nose to the point
of its tail, and lives principally in trees, although it can run very
swiftly along the ground: when not provoked or disturbed it moves quietly
about, with its frill lying back in plaits upon the body: but it is very
irascible and, directly it is frightened, elevates the frill or ruff and
makes for a tree; where if overtaken it throws itself upon its stern,
raising its head and chest as high as it can upon the forelegs, then
doubling its tail underneath the body and displaying a very formidable
set of teeth. From the concavity of its large frill it boldly faces any
opponent, biting fiercely whatever is presented to it, and even venturing
so far in its rage as to fairly make a fierce charge at its enemy. We
repeatedly tried the courage of this lizard, and it certainly fought
bravely whenever attacked. From the animal making so much use of this
frill as a covering and means of defence for its body this is most
probably one of the uses to which nature intended the appendage should be

We at length reached the watershed connecting the country we had left
with that we were entering upon, and were now again enabled to turn to
the eastward and thus to travel round the swamp. This watershed consisted
principally of a range of elevated hills from which streams were thrown
off to the Glenelg and to Prince Regent's River. The scenery here was
very fine, but I have so often before described the same character of
landscape that it will be sufficient to say we again looked down from
high land on a very fertile country, covered with a tropical vegetation
and lying between two navigable rivers. I can compare this to no other
Australian scenery, for I have met with nothing in the other portions of
the continent which at all resembles it. When we had nearly headed the
valley the night closed in so rapidly on us that I was obliged to halt
the party; and by the time the arrangements for security and rest were
completed it was quite dark.


March 24.

This morning we started as soon as it was light and, continuing our route
round the valley, passed the beautiful cascade seen yesterday and, after
fording a clear running brook like an English trout stream, we began to
ascend the next sandstone range. On gaining the summit we fell in with a
very remarkable nest, or what appeared to me to be such, and which I
shall describe more particularly when I advert to the natural history of
this part of the country. We had previously seen several of them, and
they had always afforded us food for conjecture as to the agent and
purpose of such singular structures.


Soon after quitting this nest we found a very convenient pass through a
deep and fertile valley, which led directly up into the heart of the
sandstone range; a fine stream ran through it in which were several large
reservoirs of fresh water; the hills on each side were lofty, being at
times of a rounded character, and at others broken into precipitous and
fantastic cliffs; the country was thinly wooded with large timber, and
the varied scenery, the facility which the country afforded for
travelling, and the pleasure incident on finding ourselves clear of the
marshy ground which had so long encumbered our movements, combined to
make me push along as fast as possible; the only check was the heat of
the sun; and it should always be borne in mind that no parallel whatever
can be instituted between travels in tropical and extra-tropical
Australia, for in the former the more exhausting nature of the climate
unfits both men and horses for making long journeys, and indeed renders
it almost impossible to travel during the heat of the day, whilst the
difficult nature of the ground caused by the dense vegetation, the
jungles, the ravines, and marshes, render it altogether impracticable to
move at night through an unknown country.


We crossed during the day several recent tracks of natives but did not
fall in with the natives themselves; we also saw many kangaroos, and
halted for the night on an elevated basaltic ridge, at a point close to
which there was a large crop of the grain which we called wild oats. This
is a remarkable vegetable production, growing to the height of from five
to six feet; in the stalk, the shape, and mode of insertion of the leaves
it is similar to the oat of Europe; the manner in which the seeds grow in
the two plants is also the same, and the seeds are nearly of the same
size, but the Australian oat is furnished with a beard like the barley.
When hungry I have repeatedly eaten these oats, which in some parts grow
in such abundance that several acres of them might be mown at once; and I
have little doubt that this plant would with cultivation turn out to be a
very great addition to our tropical grains.*

(*Footnote. I am informed that the seeds of it which I introduced into
the Isle of France in 1838 have greatly multiplied and that the plants
are in a very flourishing state.)

March 25.

This morning we resumed our journey, crossing a succession of basaltic
valleys. The vegetation was luxuriant beyond description; and it was
ludicrous to see the heavy-tailed kangaroos leaping and floundering about
in the long grass when they had quitted their beaten pathways and were
suddenly disturbed by our approach.


In crossing the second of these large valleys we saw two large white and
black birds, more like pelicans than any other kind I am acquainted with;
they had webbed feet, and the colour and form of their body resembled
that of the pelican, but the head and beak were very different; after
flying two or three times round our heads, well out of shot, so as to
have a good peep at us, they flew away, and for the first and last time I
saw this curious bird.

We now ascended a ridge of sandstone tableland which crossed our route:
this was about three miles in width, and at its southern extremity were
two lofty basaltic hills, from between which a small valley led down into
another very large one that was the general receptacle of the streams
which came pouring in from all directions. This last might be considered
as a good type of the valleys in this portion of the country: at its
northern extremity it was about four miles wide, being bounded on all
sides by rocky wooded ranges with dark gullies from which numerous
streams and springs poured forth their watery contributions to the main
one. This last ran nearly down the centre of the principal valley, the
width of which gradually contracted towards the south, where it
terminated almost in a point, having a narrow lateral opening at the
south-west end of not more than a quarter of a mile wide, and bounded by
steep cliffs on each side, so as to form a perfect gorge, the direction
of which was due west. In about a mile and a half this gorge met a cross
valley, running from the south to the north, down which the waters were
poured, so as to run back as it were upon their former course.


We halted for the day in the main valley, which from the run of the
waters above described must necessarily have been very elevated; it was,
moreover, nearly level, forming indeed a sort of enclosed plateau, so
that the streams, which both on entering and quitting it ran bubbling
merrily along, preserved whilst in it a sluggish and scarcely perceptible
course. When to this I add that it was composed of basaltic rocks and
received the deposit of such an extent of elevated basaltic land I need
scarcely add that it was highly fertile. I believe that these valleys,
which are very common in North-Western Australia and contain from four to
five thousand acres each, are as rich as any other spots upon the globe,
and moreover possess the great advantage of being situated close to
navigable rivers.

March 26.

This morning we moved down the valley in which we had been encamped
yesterday and, as it was thinly wooded, we experienced no difficulty
whatever until the main stream suddenly turned off from south to due
west; this was a sufficient proof that the gorge of the valley was on its
western side, but I was not anxious to follow the course of the water,
from the apprehension of being led into low and marshy land; I thought
also that a low ridge which I saw to the south could easily be crossed,
and that we should thus gain access to a valley similar to that we were
in. I therefore resolved to cross the stream at the first ford we could
find, and after a little trouble we discovered one suited to our purpose
through which the ponies passed in safety.


We then continued our route in a due southerly direction until we reached
the low range which I had before seen; this range turned out to be
composed of sandstone, and where we made it it was so rocky and
precipitous as to be quite impracticable. We therefore travelled along it
in an easterly direction for about three miles, but throughout this
distance it presented no single pass through which I could hope to
penetrate. The sun having now become very powerful we halted for
breakfast; and whilst this meal was preparing, I sent out a detached
party to search for a road, which soon returned to report that they were
able to find no path by which we could proceed.

I did not however like to retrace our footsteps without having made a
careful search; and although my wound was still open and very painful I
rapidly swallowed a portion of my allowance of damper and started with
another detachment on foot to examine the country. The sandstone range,
which ran nearly east and west, was terminated everywhere throughout its
southern side by perfectly precipitous rocks, at the foot of which lay a
fertile valley, resembling the one in which we had encamped yesterday
except that it was on a much lower level. The position that we were in
appeared to be the pass by which the natives communicated with the
country to the south of us, for marks of them were visible everywhere
about, but they could easily clamber about these precipitous rocks,
though it was quite impossible to get the ponies down, even by forming a
path, as we had often previously done.


Finding that it would be useless to lose more time in searching for a
route through this country I proceeded to rejoin the party once more; but
whilst returning to them my attention was drawn to the numerous remains
of native fires and encampments which we met with, till at last, on
looking over some bushes at the sandstone rocks which were above us, I
suddenly saw from one of them a most extraordinary large figure peering
down upon me. Upon examination this proved to be a drawing at the
entrance to a cave, which on entering I found to contain, besides, many
remarkable paintings.

The cave appeared to be a natural hollow in the sandstone rocks; its
floor was elevated about five feet from the ground, and numerous flat
broken pieces of the same rock, which were scattered about, looked at a
distance like steps leading up to the cave, which was thirty-five feet
wide at the entrance and sixteen feet deep; but beyond this several small
branches ran further back. Its height in front was rather more than eight
feet, the roof being formed by a solid slab of sandstone about nine feet
thick and which rapidly inclined towards the back of the cave, which was
there not more than five feet high.

On this sloping roof the principal figure (Number 1) which I have just
alluded to, was drawn; in order to produce the greater effect the rock
about it was painted black and the figure itself coloured with the most
vivid red and white. It thus appeared to stand out from the rock; and I
was certainly rather surprised at the moment that I first saw this
gigantic head and upper part of a body bending over and staring grimly
down at me.


It would be impossible to convey in words an adequate idea of this
uncouth and savage figure; I shall therefore only give such a succinct
account of this and the other paintings as will serve as a sort of
description to accompany the annexed plates.

The dimensions of the figure were:

Length of head and face 2 feet.
Width of face 17 inches.
Length from bottom of face to navel 2 feet 6 inches.

Its head was encircled by bright red rays, something like the rays which
one sees proceeding from the sun when depicted on the sign-board of a
public house; inside of this came a broad stripe of very brilliant red,
which was coped by lines of white, but both inside and outside of this
red space were narrow stripes of a still deeper red, intended probably to
mark its boundaries; the face was painted vividly white, and the eyes
black, being however surrounded by red and yellow lines; the body, hands,
and arms were outlined in red, the body being curiously painted with red
stripes and bars.


Upon the rock which formed the left hand wall of this cave, and which
partly faced you on entering, was a very singular painting (Number 2)
vividly coloured, representing four heads joined together. From the mild
expression of the countenances I imagined them to represent females, and
they appeared to be drawn in such a manner and in such a position as to
look up at the principal figure which I have before described; each had a
very remarkable head-dress, coloured with a deep bright blue, and one had
a necklace on. Both of the lower figures had a sort of dress painted with
red in the same manner as that of the principal figure, and one of them
had a band round her waist. Each of the four faces was marked by a
totally distinct expression of countenance, and, although none of them
had mouths, two, I thought, were otherwise rather good looking. The whole
painting was executed on a white ground, and its dimensions were:

Total length of painting 3 feet 6 3/4 inches.
Breadth across two upper heads 2 feet 6 inches.
Ditto across the two lower ones 3 feet 1 1/2 inches.

The next most remarkable drawing in the cave (Number 3) was an ellipse,
three feet in length and one foot ten inches in breadth: the outside line
of this painting was of a deep blue colour, the body of the ellipse being
of a bright yellow dotted over with red lines and spots, whilst across it
ran two transverse lines of blue. The portion of the painting above
described formed the ground, or main part of the picture, and upon this
ground was painted a kangaroo in the act of feeding, two stone
spearheads, and two black balls; one of the spearheads was flying to the
kangaroo, and one away from it; so that the whole subject probably
constituted a sort of charm by which the luck of an enquirer in killing
game could be ascertained.


There was another rather humorous sketch (Number 4) which represented a
native in the act of carrying a kangaroo; the height of the man being
three feet. The number of drawings in the cave could not altogether have
been less than from fifty to sixty, but the majority of them consisted of
men, kangaroos, etc.; the figures being carelessly and badly executed and
having evidently a very different origin to those which I have first
described. Another very striking piece of art was exhibited in the little
gloomy cavities situated at the back of the main cavern. In these
instances some rock at the sides of the cavity had been selected, and the
stamp of a hand and arm by some means transferred to it; this outline of
the hand and arm was then painted black, and the rock about it white, so
that on entering that part of the cave it appeared as if a human hand and
arm were projecting through a crevice admitting light.

After having discovered this cave I returned to the party and, directing
them to prepare for moving on, I ordered that as soon as all was ready
they should proceed past the cave, so that all would have an opportunity
of examining it, and in the meantime I returned in order to make sketches
of the principal paintings. The party soon arrived and, when my sketches
and notes were completed, we retraced a portion of our route of this
morning, moving round the sandstone ridge through one portion of which I
saw a sort of pass which I thought might perhaps afford us a means of
egress. I therefore halted the party and moved up with Corporal Auger to
examine it. After proceeding some distance we found a cave larger than
the one seen this morning; of its actual size however I have no idea, for
being pressed for time I did not attempt to explore it, having merely
ascertained that it contained no paintings.


I was moving on when we observed the profile of a human face and head cut
out in a sandstone rock which fronted the cave; this rock was so hard
that to have removed such a large portion of it with no better tool than
a knife and hatchet made of stone, such as the Australian natives
generally possess, would have been a work of very great labour. The head
was two feet in length, and sixteen inches in breadth in the broadest
part; the depth of the profile increased gradually from the edges where
it was nothing, to the centre where it was an inch and a half; the ear
was rather badly placed, but otherwise the whole of the work was good,
and far superior to what a savage race could be supposed capable of
executing. The only proof of antiquity that it bore about it was that all
the edges of the cutting were rounded and perfectly smooth, much more so
than they could have been from any other cause than long exposure to
atmospheric influences.


After having made a sketch of this head (see the accompanying plate) I
returned to the party and, as I had not been able to find a path which
would lead us across the sandstone ridge, we continued our course round
it, retracing our steps until we reached the stream which had been
crossed this morning, and then moved westward, keeping along its southern
bank until we had turned the sandstone range and reached another stream
running from the south, which we traced up in the direction of its
source, travelling through a series of basaltic valleys of so luxuriant a
character that those of the party who were not very tall travelled, as
they themselves expressed it, between two high green walls, over which
they could not see; and these green walls were composed of rich grass
which the ponies ate with avidity. On a subsequent occasion when we
visited this valley we had to call to one another in order to ascertain
our relative positions when only a few yards apart; and yet the
vegetation was neither rank nor coarse, but as fine a grass as I have
ever seen.


We halted for the night in one of these lovely valleys; a clear stream
bubbled along within about fifty yards of us and, about a mile beyond,
two darkly-wooded basaltic hills raised their heads, and between these
and the stream our ponies were feeding in grass higher than themselves. I
sat in the fading light, looking at the beautiful scenery around me,
which now for the first time gladdened the eyes of Europeans; and I
wondered that so fair a land should only be the abode of savage men; and
then I thought of the curious paintings we had this day seen, of the
timid character of the natives, of their anomalous position in so fertile
a country, and wondered how long these things were to be. With so wide a
field of conjecture before me, thought naturally thronged on thought, and
the night was far advanced ere I laid down to seek repose from the
fatigues of the day.


March 27.

The ponies having been routed out of their long and excellent feed,
amongst which indeed it was no easy matter to find them, we moved on. I
could not but reflect how different our position and the condition of the
ponies would have been had we known as much of the country at first
starting as we did at present; but these reflections were now useless.
With the exception of one small rocky valley, the whole of our morning's
journey was through a rich and fertile country until we reached a deep
stream, thirty or forty yards wide and apparently navigable for large
boats up to this point; it ran away to the westward, but with a current
scarcely perceptible.


It was very difficult to approach this stream on account of the marshy
nature of its banks, which were overgrown with bamboo and, even if we
could have got the ponies to it, it was not fordable here. We therefore
turned up it in an easterly direction to look for a passage over it; and
in so doing were necessarily compelled to cross many smaller streams and
a great deal of swampy ground in which some of the most weakly of the
ponies got bogged and were only extricated with great difficulty. However
annoying this was I could not but smile at the distress of some of the
men, who had contracted a friendship for the animals they had so long
led, when one of their favourites got into a difficulty. The exclamations
of Ruston the old sailor were particularly amusing, as, according to the
position in which the animal got bogged, he used to roar out for someone
"to come and give his pony a heave upon the starboard or larboard
quarters;" and once, when violently alarmed at the danger he imagined his
pet pony to be in, he shouted amain, "By G---, Sir, she'll go down by the
stern." At last however we got clear of the marsh, and reached a rocky
gorge where this stream issued from the hills, and here we stopped for

This spot was very picturesque. The river as it issued from the gorge in
the high wooded hills first formed a series of cascades, and then at the
mouth of the gorge expanded into a large pool. It was at this point,
although only a secondary stream in this country, far larger than any of
the rivers of South-Western Australia. At the gorges, where they issue
from the hills, its banks were clothed with the pandanus, lofty gum
trees, and a very luxuriant vegetation. We first sought for a ford up the
river in the direction of the rapids, but our search was fruitless. On
returning to breakfast I found that the men had caught three fish and one
of the long-necked fresh-water turtle which are common over the whole of
this continent. Mr. Lushington had also shot several black cockatoos so
that we were supplied with a meal of meat, a luxury we had not enjoyed
for a long time.


After breakfast Corporal Auger started alone and returned in about an
hour to report that he had found a ford across the river close to us. I
therefore ordered the ponies to be brought up and we at once moved on.
The river where we crossed it in south latitude 15 degrees 49 minutes,
east longitude 125 degrees 6 minutes, was about a hundred yards wide. It
was however nowhere more than knee deep as we wound through it, following
a circuitous course; but we passed very deep parts on each side, and I
could not but admire the perseverance of Auger in having discovered so
very intricate a ford as this was. There were several minor channels to
the stream not much wider than an English ditch; they were however very
deep and went winding along through groves of the pandanus and lofty
reeds, which formed leafy tunnels above them. It was some time before we
got rid of the main stream, and we then found ourselves on a narrow
terrace of land which was bounded on the left by rocky cliffs, and on the
right by a large tributary of the stream we had just crossed. This
tributary was not fordable here so we were compelled to travel up the
terrace where our way was much impeded by the luxuriant vegetation and by
fallen trees of great magnitude; indeed of a size which those alone who
have traversed tropical virgin forests can conceive.

That we could not get off this terrace was the more provoking from
seeing, immediately on the other side of the stream, one of those wide
open basaltic valleys which I have so often mentioned. We at length
reached the point where the stream issued from the high land and, having
here forded it, entered the large valley, but in its centre we found
another impassable stream and, in order to turn this, were obliged to
travel round the valley; but before we could gain the head of it we had
to cross two streams which ran into it on the eastern side. These however
gave us but little trouble.


On the tongue of land between them we found a native hut which differed
from any before seen, in having a sloping roof. After passing this hut we
began to wind up a rocky ascent, and just at sunset reached the
watershed, which threw off streams to the north and south: the valley
which lay immediately to the south of us appearing as fertile as that
which we had been travelling through for the whole day.

March 28.

The first part of our journey was through a fertile valley, about four
miles in length, through which wound a rapid stream. It was clothed with
the richest grass, abounded in kangaroos, and was marked at its southern
extremity by a very remarkable precipitous hill. The heights to the
westward were all composed of basalt, whilst those to the eastward were
sandstone. On passing the ridge of hills which bounded this valley to the
south we entered on a sandstone district, although the hills to the
westward were still basaltic.


I here halted the party for breakfast by the side of a stream and, on
casting my eyes upwards, I found that I was in a sort of natural grapery,
for the tree under which I lay was covered with a plant which bears a
sort of grape and I believe is a species of cissus.

We met altogether with three varieties of this plant, all of which were
creepers but differing from each other in their habits and in the size of
their fruit. Two of them generally ran along the ground or amongst low
shrubs and the third climbed high trees; this latter kind bore the finest
fruit, and it was a plant of this description which I today found. Its
fruit in size, appearance, and flavour resembled a small black grape, but
the stones were different, being larger, and shaped like a coffee berry.
All three produced their fruit in bunches, like the vine, and, the day
being very sultry, I do not know that we could have fallen upon anything
more acceptable than this fruit was to us.


After breakfast we continued our route through a barren, sandy district,
heavily timbered; and in the course of the afternoon met either the
Glenelg or a very considerable branch of that stream in south latitude 15
degrees 56 minutes, east longitude 125 degrees 8 minutes: it was 250
yards across and formed a series of rapids at this point, where it
emerged from a rocky gorge. Just above the rapids we found a good ford,
the average depth of which was not more than three feet. After crossing,
the banks on the other side were clothed with a species of Casuarina
which I did not observe elsewhere. The country on that side of the stream
was sandy and, as I found by the time we had proceeded two or three miles
that we were getting embarrassed in a sandstone range, I halted the party
for the night and went on to try if I could find a pass across it. My
exertions were not however very successful: I came upon a path which I
thought might be rendered practicable for the ponies over the first part
of the range, but found no line by which we could proceed without making
a road.


March 29.

At dawn this morning the men were at work forming the road; the poor
fellows were however so much enfeebled from constant fatigue and very
inefficient nutriment, whilst exposed to the great heat of a tropical
climate, that they were unable to exert the same energy as formerly, and
I could not but be struck with the great difference in their strength as
evinced in their incapacity to move stones and other obstacles, which a
few weeks ago they would have had little difficulty in lifting. The path
was however soon made as passable as our abilities permitted, and we
started along it with the ponies; some of them were however no less
reduced than the men and, in endeavouring to lead one of them up a rocky
hill, it fell, and from weakness sank under its light load without making
an effort to save itself; the spine was thus so severely injured as to
render it unable to move the hinder extremities; we therefore killed the
poor creature and moved on.


Throughout the day we continued gradually the ascent of the range which
we had yesterday commenced. The large valley we were in led us by a
gentle slope winding higher and higher amongst the rocky hills; at first
it had been so wide as to appear like a plain, but by degrees it
contracted its dimensions, until, towards the afternoon, it suddenly
assumed almost the character of a gorge. Just at this point we saw in the
cliffs on our left hand a cave, which I entered in the hope of finding
native paintings.

Nor was I disappointed for it contained several of a very curious
character. This cave was a natural chasm in the sandstone rocks, elevated
at its entrance several feet above the level of the ground, from which
the ascent to it was by a natural flight of sandstone steps, irregular,
of course, but formed of successive thin strata, resting one upon
another, and thus constituting an easy ascent; these successive layers
continued into the body of the cave, quite to the end, where was a
central slab, more elevated than the others, and on each side of this two
other larger ones which reached the top of the cave and partly served to
support the immense sandstone slab that formed the roof.


The cave was twenty feet deep and at the entrance seven feet high and
about forty feet wide. As before stated the floor gradually approached
the roof in the direction of the bottom of the cavern, and its width also
contracted, so that at the extremity it was not broader than the slab of
rock, which formed a natural seat.


The principal painting in it was the figure of a man, ten feet six inches
in length, clothed from the chin downwards in a red garment which reached
to the wrists and ankles; beyond this red dress the feet and hands
protruded and were badly executed.

The face and head of the figure were enveloped in a succession of
circular bandages or rollers, or what appeared to be painted to represent
such. These were coloured red, yellow, and white; and the eyes were the
only features represented on the face. Upon the highest bandage or roller
a series of lines were painted in red, but, although so regularly done as
to indicate that they have some meaning, it was impossible to tell
whether they were intended to depict written characters or some ornament
for the head. This figure was so drawn on the roof that its feet were
just in front of the natural seat, whilst its head and face looked
directly down on anyone who stood in the entrance of the cave, but it was
totally invisible from the outside. The painting was more injured by the
damp and atmosphere, and had the appearance of being much more
defaced and ancient, than any of the others which we had seen.*

(*Footnote. This figure brings to mind the description of the Prophet
Ezekiel: Men portrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans
portrayed in vermilion, girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding
in dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after
the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity.
Chapter 23:14, 15.)


There were two other paintings, one on each of the rocks which stood on
either side of the natural seat; they were carefully executed and yet had
no apparent design in them; unless they were intended to represent some
fabulous species of turtle; for the natives of Australia are generally
fond of narrating tales of fabulous and extraordinary animals such as
gigantic snakes, etc.

One of the party who appeared much amused at these different paintings
walked straight up the cavern, gradually ascending the steps until he
reached the slab at the end, and then, taking his hat off with a solemn
air, seated himself; to his own, and our surprise, his bare head just
touched the roof of the cave, and on examining this part of it we found
it fairly polished, and very greasy, from all appearance caused by the
constant rubbing against it of the head of a person whilst seated on the
rock. This and other circumstances led us to conjecture that the cave was
frequented by some wise man or native doctor who was resorted to by the
inhabitants in cases of disease or witchcraft. We saw many footmarks
about, and found other signs of the close presence of the natives, but
they themselves remained invisible.


The cave was situated in an exceedingly picturesque position, it occupied
the corner leading from a wide valley to a narrow ravine, down which came
bubbling along a clear deep stream, which passed within a few yards of
the cave's mouth. After making sketches of the paintings and for a few
minutes admiring this romantic spot we moved up the ravine, which
appeared to lead by a gradual ascent to the summit of the mountain range
that now completely hemmed us in both to the southward and eastward.

This ravine, in the luxuriance of its vegetation and the great size of
the trees, as well as in its rapid stream, at times leaping in cascades
or foaming in rapids, resembled those we had before seen in the sandstone
ranges, but it differed from them in the greater height of the
surrounding hills and cliffs which, being overshadowed with hanging trees
and climbing plants, presented as rich a painting as the eye could
behold: and, as these grew golden with the rays of the setting sun or
were thrown into deep and massive shadows, I could not but regret that no
Claude of the tropics had arisen to transfer to canvas scenes which words
cannot express.

But however beautiful the scenery was the road we had to travel was so
extremely inconvenient that the view scarcely made amends for it; we were
continually compelled from old land-slips to cross from one side of the
stream to the other, and this, from the depth of the ford and the
slipperiness of the rocky bottom, was sometimes no easy task; moreover
the ravine continued rapidly to contract in width and to become more
rugged and precipitous; I therefore turned off to the right into a rocky
amphitheatre which seemed well suited for encamping, and halted the party
for the night; then, taking one of my men with me, I ascended the cliffs
to see if I could make out any line by which to get clear of the
precipices which embarrassed us, but on all sides I could descry nothing
but lofty hills and frowning crags, except in the direction of the ravine
which appeared to run directly into the heart of the mountain chain; I
therefore turned about to rejoin the party, with the intention of
continuing the same course the ensuing morning as we had done this


Both myself and the man who was with me had however a narrow escape of
being shot, for, as we were returning he let his rifle fall and it
exploded, the ball striking the rocks close to us before it glanced into
the air.


March 30.

At the earliest dawn we continued our course up the valley, which rapidly
became narrower and more inclined so that it formed, as it were, a series
of elevated terraces, at the edge of each of which was a little cascade.
We found two caves in the cliffs on the right hand, both of which were
painted all over but with no regularity of pattern: the only colours used
were red, yellow, and white. The largest of the caves exceeded in breadth
and depth any others I had seen, but it was only three feet high; in this
one there were several drawings of fish, one of which was four feet in
length; these I copied, although they were badly executed. The caves
themselves cannot be considered as at all analogous to those I have
before described.


The difficulties of the road continued to increase rapidly, and the
dimensions of the ravine became so contracted that I hesitated whether I
should not turn up another which branched off to the right; previously
however to taking this step I sent a man forward to examine the one we
were in; he soon returned and reported that it terminated in a high
cascade a few hundred yards further on. This intelligence confirming my
previous opinion, I now moved up the ravine which came from the westward,
but we had not proceeded for more than half a mile when the rugged nature
of the country brought us to a complete stand; we found ourselves in a
rocky area, bounded on all sides by cliffs, the only outlet from which
was the path by which we had entered. I therefore halted the party for
breakfast whilst I prepared to ascend some lofty pinnacles which lay to
the south of us.

The state of my wound rendered this exertion one of great pain and
difficulty; I however accomplished it, and found myself on the top of a
high rocky eminence which bore the appearance of having fallen into
ruins; the prospect from it was cheerless in the extreme; to the north
lay the rich valley country far below us, and to the south and east
nothing could be seen but barren sandstone rocks and ranges rising one
above the other until they met the horizon at no great distance from the
eye; the only outlet, except the ravine by which we had approached,
appeared to be by the westward, and I descended to the party in this
direction to see if I could find a route from where they were to the
terrace leading to that point. I struck on a place up the cliffs where I
imagined it possible to construct a road by which the ponies could
ascend, and then returned to breakfast.


As soon as our scanty meal had been concluded all hands were employed in
making this road; and sincerely did I pity the feeble men, whom I saw in
the burning heat of a tropical sun, which was reflected with redoubled
intensity from the bare sandstone rocks, toiling to displace large stones
and obstacles which they had hardly sufficient strength to move; not a
murmur however escaped them; they saw the necessity of the case and
exerted their failing energies as readily as they had done when these
were in full strength and vigour. The road was at last made and we moved
on to the westward, toiling for the remainder of the day amongst steep
precipices of barren sandstone rocks and hills, utterly inaccessible to
horses, till, finding our efforts to proceed useless, I at last turned
the party about and halted them for the night just above where we had
breakfasted; intending with the earliest dawn to renew my search for a
pass by which we might cross this mountain range.



March 31.

This day at dawn I sent out a party under Mr. Lushington and Mr. Walker
to try if any pass through the mountains could be found, but they
returned in four or five hours to report that it was utterly impossible
for horses to proceed further in the direction we desired. During their
absence I had made a careful examination of the stores and found that,
even at our reduced allowance, we had only provisions left for twenty
days; our horses were also reduced in number to twelve, but these,
excepting that their feet were sore, were rather improved in condition
than otherwise since the commencement of the journey.


My intention had always been, when I found myself reduced to such an
extremity as the present, to proceed for a few days by forced marches
towards the interior, accompanied by four men, and then, returning to the
remainder of the party, to have taken all together back to the vessel;
when there I knew I could have got four volunteers to accompany me and,
having loaded the horses with ammunition and provisions, I had it in
contemplation to have started with them again for Swan River. But these
projects became now impracticable from the declining state of my health,
consequent on having started too soon after having received my wound, to
the exertions I was obliged daily to make whilst labouring under its
effects, and to the want of those comforts which contribute so materially
to restore an invalid to health. Our allowance of food too had been but
scanty, and, whilst I fared as my men, who, unshattered in health, had
yet grown thin and weak under privation, I, in proportion, had suffered
far more.


Mr. Walker, who was aware of my design, came to me today and said he felt
it his duty to recommend me without delay to return to the vessel; that
as long as he thought the risk I ran was no more than he considered a man
who had undertaken such a service should be prepared to incur, he had
refrained from pressing this advice upon me, but in my present
debilitated state exposure even for a single night might very probably
cost me my life. To this opinion I felt constrained to yield, and Mr.
Walker, having at my desire repeated it in a letter this afternoon, I
arranged my plans accordingly.


The march in advance, which, had my health permitted, I had intended to
make myself, was now deputed to Mr. Lushington: four of those men who
remained the strongest of our enfeebled band were selected for an
excursion of three days under him; after which we were to return to the

April 1 and 2.

At dawn on Sunday the 1st the party started; and these two days I
occupied myself in making magnetic and astronomical observations. Our
latitude I found by two meridian altitudes of the moon to be 16 degrees 0
minutes 45 seconds south, and our longitude by chronometer 125 degrees 11
minutes east.


April 3.

Mr. Lushington's party came in at 12 o'clock this day, reporting as
follows: That they proceeded about eighteen miles from the camp upon a
course of 195 degrees from the north, and the remaining half upon a
course of 155 1/2 degrees; that the whole of their route lay over a
country utterly impassable for horses owing to the steepness of the
hills; that they crossed a great number of under-features at right angles
to their route, between which lay small streams flowing away to the
westward, and which under-features were so steep in their descent to the
southward that, in going down, the men repeatedly fell: both grass and
water were however everywhere abundant; and they saw, in the spots where
the grass was most luxuriant, the root which I found on the hill at our
first encampment on the good land. The last point they attained was a
lofty hill which ran out from a range to the eastward, from which range
sprang also all the under-features that they had crossed. From this hill
they had an extensive view to the northward, eastward, and westward. The
land they saw to the northward is laid down upon my map.


To the eastward they saw nothing but ranges of hills, precisely
resembling those that we had crossed since entering this mountainous
district; and to the westward others of the same nature, but gradually
falling in that direction, whilst on the other hand the land seemed to
rise gently to the eastward, though they saw no very high hills in an
easterly direction. To the southward their view was impeded by a very
high bluff point, distant six or seven miles, and a line of cliffs under
which they conceived that a river or an opening of the sea may run, but
if so, it could not be a stream of great magnitude. Their view of the
base of the cliff was however impeded by the under-features of the hill
on which they stood. They also noticed, as a very remarkable
circumstance, that there were no signs of these mountains having been
visited by the natives. The first part of their route lay over an
extensive plain, four miles in width, which bore no appearance of the
great native conflagrations having ever reached it. This was so generally
the case that, when they halted, they were unable to obtain a sufficiency
of firewood. They saw a native dog of the regular Australian breed;
kangaroos were abundant, but these as well as all other game were much
less wild than any of the party had before observed.

The foregoing summary of the information brought back rests not on the
report of any one individual but expresses the opinions of the party with
regard to those points on which they were all agreed; and the only one as
to which I have any distrust is that of the distance they went, which I
believe to be overrated; having always found the estimates of every one
of the party as to the daily distance travelled very erroneous, and
sometimes more than doubled. This indeed is a mistake well known to be of
common occurrence, and very difficult to guard against in a new and wild
country, and when I consider the diminished strength of the men's
pedestrian powers, and the weights they had to carry, I am disposed to
calculate that the total direct distance they made did not exceed, if it
equalled, twelve miles.


Their report of want of firewood is singular as, in all other parts which
we passed over, even upon plains of a similar character though not so
highly elevated or so difficult of access, we had always found the ground
thickly covered with trees which had fallen from the effects of the
native fires.

The only remarkable circumstances about the spot we were encamped in were
the great coldness of the nights and mornings; and moreover that exactly
at nine o'clock every morning a cold breeze, in character precisely
resembling a sea-breeze, set in from the south-east and lasted until
about half-past three in the afternoon.


April 4.

We this day started on our march homewards. I was afraid, from the
appearance of the weather, that we might soon have rain, and, as a
continuance of it for even three or four days might have prevented our
passing the rivers for several weeks, it became necessary that this part
of our march should be accomplished with the utmost celerity. I therefore
made the first river before I allowed a halt for breakfast. On our route
we passed the spot where, on the 29th ultimo, we had been compelled to
kill the horse; the native dogs had already made it a perfect skeleton
and scattered its bones about.


I committed unintentionally this day what must have appeared to the
natives a very wanton act of aggression: as we were passing the river, a
dog, not of the Australian breed, came from a pass in the rocks on the
opposite side, moving quietly towards us over some flat rocks; when he
had advanced a few yards from the pass he stopped and looked back, so
that from his manner I might have known that his master was near, but
without reflection I fired and struck the ground close to him; he became
alarmed and ran back in the same line he had come; I now took up my own
rifle and just as he turned a point in the rocks I fired, and, although a
very long shot, I struck him far forward in the shoulder. For a moment he
staggered, then turned round and limped up a glen in the hills in quite a
different direction. I had neither time nor strength to follow him, but
on passing the river I found from the tracks that minute made that a
single native had been coming down to the river with the dog, and had
(probably from hearing the shots) turned sharp off to the right and made
his escape into some bushes. This day the weakness of our last sheep
obliged us to kill it.


April 5.

I continued on our old track this morning until I had passed the other
river, and then, quitting our former route, made a push straight over the
sandstone ridge for our old enemy the marsh, as I felt sure after the
present long continuance of fine weather that it would be now quite
passable. We encamped this night on the sandstone range under a group of
lofty firs, or rather pines.

April 6.

I found a very easy route over the sandstone, quite passable in fine
weather, but after rains, I think, from the marshy nature of the ground,
that it would present some difficulty. The marsh itself was perfectly
passable, could without any difficulty be drained, and consisted of good
and fertile land. A remarkable circumstance connected with it was the
great depth of the beds of its streams, the banks in some places being
fourteen feet above the existing water level, whilst I could observe no
signs of the water having ever risen to that height. In the afternoon I
once more struck our old track, which I quitted again in the evening. We
halted a few hundred yards from two remarkable heaps of stones of the
same kind as those I have before mentioned.


April 7.

This morning I started off before dawn and opened the most southern of
the two mounds of stones which presented the following curious facts:

1. They were both placed due east and west and, as will be seen by the
annexed plates, with great regularity.

2. They were both exactly of the same length but differed in breadth and

3. They were not formed altogether of small stones from the rock on which
they stood, but many were portions of very distant rocks, which must have
been brought by human labour, for their angles were as sharp as the day
they were broken off; there were also the remains of many and different
kinds of seashells in the heap we opened.

My own opinion concerning these heaps of stones had been that they were
tombs; and this opinion remains unaltered, though we found no bones in
the mound, only a great deal of fine mould having a damp dank smell. The
antiquity of the central part of the one we opened appeared to be very
great, I should say two or three hundred years; but the stones above were
much more modern, the outer ones having been very recently placed; this
was also the case with the other heap: can this be regarded by the
natives as a holy spot?

We explored the heap by making an opening in the side, working on to the
centre, and thence downwards to the middle, filling up the former opening
as the men went on; yet five men provided with tools were occupied two
hours in completing this opening and closing it again, for I left
everything precisely as I had found it. The stones were of all sizes,
from one as weighty as a strong man could lift, to the smallest pebble.
The base of each heap was covered with a rank vegetation, but the top was
clear, from the stones there having been recently deposited.


In the afternoon we proceeded on our route, travelling nearly north.
After marching some distance we traversed at right angles a variety of
under-features terminating in sandstone cliffs, but the hills on our
right were composed of the same black rock as the chain in which Mount
Lyell lies. Private Mustard being ill, I gave him my horse and tried to
walk, but injured myself materially by so doing. We were obliged to
encamp at the head of a large mangrove inlet.

April 8.

It being Sunday I halted all the morning and only started late in the
afternoon. Our route lay through a mountainous country and consequently
our progress was slow. Quartz was here largely developed in rocks. We
halted this evening in a valley surrounded by mountains.


April 9.

We started at dawn and soon found that the valley we had encamped in was
the true pass across the range of mountains. It ran in nearly a
south-west direction to the foot of Mount Lyell. Here I halted for
breakfast; and, on finding my position by cross bearings, which I was now
able to do, and comparing it with my position by dead reckoning, was glad
to find that the error only amounted to 150 yards. The valley we
travelled up in the morning was fertile, connected with several other
large ones of similar character, and contained two small lakes, or large
ponds of water, the least of which was elevated considerably above the
low ground in the neighbourhood. In the afternoon we crossed the
mountains by a narrow neck, which is the best pass over this range of
hills for anyone travelling to the south and east. We crossed our old
track twice in the afternoon and encamped in the evening under a conical

April 10.

Started at dawn, travelling nearly north-west, and crossed the heads of
all the streams which I had before seen emptying themselves into the
river Glenelg in the opening lying between Mount Sturt and Mount Eyre.
Just under the point where we encamped for the night was a large marsh in
which my horse got bogged and I had a severe fall.


April 11.

On starting this morning all the party insisted that they saw a hill,
under which our old track had passed. I felt convinced that such could
not be the case; and, had it been so, an error of four miles must have
existed in my map: yet all were so positive of their correctness that I
felt it would appear like obstinacy in me not to yield to the general
opinion. I therefore quitted our direct course to make for the foot of
this hill, and there convinced myself that I was right; yet, even when we
had now passed it, proceeding on our route, I heard several remark, "We
shall soon march back here again." But this evening I had the pleasure of
halting under the sandstone range, and the very hill we had wished to


April 12.

We marched early, and on the way passed more native tombs; when we came
to the place where the horse had been left I found that, through
inadvertence on the part of the man who led him, he had been starved to
death, having been left tethered. This discovery shocked me much. Some of
the stores which had been left where he fell and covered with a
tarpaulinremained uninjured. We proceeded onwards to the camp where I had
lain so long wounded, and, on arriving found all our provisions in good
order, the natives apparently not having since visited the spot. We were
not a little glad to find our preserved meats which had been left buried
here. Halted for the night, and enjoyed our repast.


April 13.

After digging up our supply of preserved meats yesterday we had made
rather more free with them than was prudent in men who had been for so
long a time compelled to subsist upon very scanty fare, and in
consequence had been nearly all affected with violent sickness; and, as
six of the party, including Mr. Lushington and myself, were now ill, we
did not start very early; the remaining ponies were also so weak that
they could scarcely carry themselves, and we therefore were only able to
place very light loads upon them.

I have already described the very difficult nature of the country we had
to traverse; but the roads we had previously constructed through it
proved extremely serviceable. So little had they been injured that they
formed a very fair and passable line of communication. Early in the
evening we crossed the Lushington and halted at the summit of the cliffs
which formed its northern bank.

April 14.

I sent the most efficient of the party back with the horses for the
remaining stores whilst with four men I remained in charge of the tents.


Sunday April 15.

Our anxiety to ascertain if any accident had happened to the schooner now
became very great: since such a circumstance was of course by no means
impossible. As our position would then have been very precarious, and our
only chance of ultimate safety have rested on the most exact discipline
and cautious rules of conduct being observed from the very first, I
thought it would be most prudent not to allow such a calamity (had it
occurred) to burst too suddenly upon the men when they were quite
unprepared for it.

Two of them were therefore selected and, accompanied by these, I started
before daylight for the sandy beach in Hanover Bay; leaving the party to
make the best of their way to the heights above the valley where we had
first encamped, and where plenty of food and water could be found for the
ponies; these, in the event of anything having happened to the schooner,
would become the mainstay of our hopes.

These arrangements having been made we moved off through the rocky
difficult country we had first encountered: every step we took was over
well-known ground, in which no change had taken place save that there
were evident marks of bodies of natives having been in the neighbourhood
since our departure.

As I proceeded nearly in a direct line to Hanover Bay we encountered some
difficulty from the broken character of the ground, but about eleven
o'clock had gained the hilly country at the back of the beach, from
whence however we could not obtain a view of the spot where the vessel
lay. On emerging from the mangroves upon the beach we saw painted upon
the sandstone cliffs, in very large letters, "Beagle Observatory, letters
south-east 52 paces."


No one who has not been similarly situated can at all conceive the thrill
which went through me when these letters first met my eye; even had
anything happened to the schooner, friends were upon the coast, and I
knew that Captain Wickham, who had passed a great portion of his life in
adventures of this kind, would leave nothing undone which was in his
power to ensure our safety. We now hurried across the beach, and on
gaining the highest part of it saw the little schooner riding safely at
anchor. A gun being fired all became life and expectation on board the
vessel; and whilst the boat pulled ashore we searched for our letters.
These had however not yet been deposited at the spot indicated, and I
therefore conjectured that we should find them on board.

On reaching the vessel we learnt that the mate was gone to the Beagle,
now lying in Port George the Fourth but expected to sail this very day.
It appeared that at 7 o'clock on the morning of the 8th the report of
four carronades was heard on board the schooner; this was conjectured by
all to denote the presence of the Beagle on the coast, but the echo ran
from cliff to cliff with so many reverberations that none could tell from
what direction the sound had originally proceeded. The silence of the
night was not again disturbed; and those on board the schooner felt no
small solicitude to know if their conjectures were correct, and if so in
what direction the Beagle lay.


The next morning the mystery was cleared up. Before noon a yawl was seen
to round the headland and to stand across the bay in the direction of the
mouth of Prince Regent's River. As soon as the schooner was recognised
the yawl altered her course, and Captain Wickham was soon on board the
Lynher, making anxious enquiries for us and ascertaining what steps could
be taken to assist us and promote our views.

From that time up to the present date the Beagle had lain in Port George
the Fourth to take in wood, water, etc., and to await the return of Mr.
Stokes, who was absent exploring the coast between Collier's Bay and Port
George the Fourth.

As there was no time to lose I at once started in a boat for the Beagle,
and it was late in the evening when we drew near it. I could see anxious
groups looking eagerly at the little boat as it drew near, and when at
length we were recognised the hearty cheers that greeted us as we came up
alongside plainly showed that the pleasure of meeting was not confined to


As Mr. Stokes was hourly expected to return, and I was very anxious to
know if he had discovered the mouth of the Glenelg, I remained on board
the Beagle and, as all had much to hear and much to communicate, the
evening wore rapidly away. The next day Mr. Stokes arrived, having seen
nothing of the mouth of the river; this however in my apprehension arose
from the greater portion of the time they were absent having been spent
in the examination of Collier's Bay, which was the point of by far the
greatest interest and promise; and that consequently they were compelled,
from want of time and supplies, to examine the intervening coastline less
narrowly than its irregular character rendered necessary. What rather
confirms this opinion is, that Captain King, in his survey of this part,
states his belief, drawn from observation, that it is indented with
inlets similar to Prince Regent's River, now this is exactly the
character of the Glenelg.

Mr. Stokes described Camden Sound as being one of the finest harbours he
had seen; and, such being the case, it must undoubtedly be the most
important position on this part of the coast. It lies close to the
Glenelg and Prince Regent's River, two large navigable streams; and I
have already declared my opinion that I have never seen a richer tract of
country than the extensive alluvial and basaltic districts in the
neighbourhood of the Glenelg, and under the rare circumstance of lying
between two navigable rivers which are separated from each other by so
short an interval.


Soon after Mr. Stokes's arrival I started for the Lynher, and the next
morning repaired on shore. During my absence on board the Beagle fourteen
natives had made their appearance near the encampment on the cliffs above
the valley; they appeared however to have been solely attracted from
motives of curiosity and a desire to visit our former huts. From the
fearful disposition which had hitherto been evinced by the natives of
these parts it was necessary however that every precaution should be
observed. This was most carefully done by Mr. Lushington; and as soon as
the natives saw that they were watched they moved off and were not again
observed, although the smokes of their fires were visible in several

On the 17th we commenced our preparations for leaving this part of the
coast. The stores remaining were all carried on board. We had but eleven
ponies left, the greater number of which were so marked and scarred from
falls amongst the rocks that they would have been valueless if brought to
sale; besides which, to have cut and dried a quantity of grass sufficient
for them until we reached the Isle of France would, in the burnt up state
of the country, have delayed us many days, had we even succeeded at last.
On the other hand, if left free in the bush, two good mares which were
amongst them might possibly be the means of giving a very valuable race
of horses to this country. These considerations determined me; and the
companions of our weary wanderings were turned loose--a new race upon the
land; and, as we trusted, to become the progenitors of a numerous herd.


Our whole residence in this country had been marked by toils and
sufferings. Heat, wounds, hunger, thirst, and many other things had
combined to harass us. Under these circumstances it might have been
imagined that we left these shores without a single regret; but such was
far from being the case: when the ponies had wandered off, when all the
remaining stores had been removed, and the only marks of our residence in
this valley were a few shattered bark huts, young coconut plants, a
bread-fruit, and some other useful trees and plants, I felt very loth to
leave the spot. I considered what a blessing to the country these plants
must eventually prove if they should continue to thrive as they had yet
done and, as I called to mind how much forethought and care their
transport to their present position had occasioned, I would very gladly
have passed a year or two of my life in watching over them and seeing
them attain to a useful maturity. One large pumpkin plant in particular
claimed my notice. The tropical warmth and rains, and the virgin soil in
which it grew, had imparted to it a rich luxuriance: it did not creep
along the ground, but its long shoots were spreading upwards amongst the
trees. The young coconuts grew humbly amidst the wild plants and reeds,
their worth unknown. Most of these plants I had placed in the ground
myself, and had watched their early progress: now they must be left to
their fate.


Amidst such thoughts we resumed our course down the valley and embarked
in the boats; but had not proceeded far when a dog belonging to one of
the men was missed and, as we could not abandon so faithful a companion,
a party returned to search for it, and the dog was brought safely on


We then weighed and sailed for the Isle of France, where we arrived on
the 17th May without having met with any circumstance on our voyage
worthy of record.



North-Western Australia seems to be peculiarly prolific in birds,
reptiles, and insects, who dwell here nearly unmolested, mutually preying
upon each other, and thus, by a wise provision, setting the necessary
check to their own multiplication.


Of quadrupeds there are but few species, and of these the individuals,
considered in proportion to the surface they roam over, are rare. The
only species I observed during a residence of five months were four of
kangaroos, namely the large Macropus giganteus ? of Shaw, two smaller
kinds, one of which is the Petrogale brachyotis of Gould, and a kangaroo
rat, which last is always seen amongst the rocks on the sea coast. One
species of opossum, a flying squirrel (Petaurista) two kinds of dog, of
which one is new, rats, and a fieldmouse. Of these the kangaroos are
alone numerous, and only in particular spots.


I shot a female kangaroo of the Petrogale brachyotis near Hanover Bay,
and by the preservation of the skin and other parts enabled Mr. Gould to
identify it as a new species.

This graceful little animal is excessively wild and shy in its habits,
frequenting, in the daytime, the highest and most inaccessible rocks, and
only descending into the valleys to feed early in the morning and late in
the evening. When disturbed in the daytime amongst the roughest and most
precipitous rocks, it bounds along from one to the other with the
greatest apparent facility, and is so watchful and wary in its habits
that it is by no means easy to get a shot at it. One very surprising
thing is, how it can support the temperature to which it is exposed in
the situations it always frequents amongst the burning sandstone rocks,
the mercury there during the heat of the day being frequently at 136
degrees. I have never seen these animals in the plains or lowlands, and
believe that they frequent mountains alone.


The new species of dog differs totally from the Dingo or Canis
australiensis. I never saw one nearer than from twenty to thirty yards,
and was unable to procure a specimen. Its colour is the same as that of
the Australian dog, in parts however having a blackish tinge. The muzzle
is narrow, long, thin, and tapers much, resembling that of a greyhound,
whilst in general form it approaches the English lurcher. Some of the
party who went to Timor stated it to resemble precisely the Malay dog
common to that island, and considered it to be of the same breed; which I
think not improbable, as I cannot state that I ever saw one wild, or
unless in the vicinity of natives; in company with whom they were
generally observed in a domesticated state. On the other hand the Canis
australiensis was common in some parts in a state of nature: of these I
saw several myself and, from the descriptions given by other individuals
of the party of dogs they had observed, I recognised their identity with
the same species. We heard them also repeatedly howling during the night
and, although they never attacked our sheep or goats, many portions of
dead animals were carried off by them. I saw but two flying squirrels and
know not to which species of Petaurista they are to be referred.


Both mice and rats are common, the former precisely resembling in
appearance the English fieldmouse. The rats on one occasion ate up a live
pet parakeet, leaving the bones gnawed and strewed about; and on another,
when I had shot a crane (Ardea scolopacea) intending it for breakfast,
they in the night devoured nearly the whole of it.


The multiplication of kangaroos, opossums, rats, etc. may be checked by
various causes; but man, I imagine, is the most deadly enemy they have to
contend with. The numerous remains of these animals that I have seen
about the native fires attest the number destroyed. In all those caves in
which I found native paintings were representations either of kangaroo
hunts, or of men bringing down these animals dead on their shoulders; and
many a hollow tree bore witness of its having been smoked in order to
drive forth to certain death the trembling opossum or bandicoot rat which
had taken refuge in it.


A convincing proof of the dread in which man is held by the various kinds
of kangaroos is given by their extreme shyness. I never but on two or
three occasions got within shot of the larger kangaroos as they were
always so wary; and, although I at different times wounded two, I never
could succeed in actually capturing either. Now, when the detached party
sent forward just before we commenced our return to Hanover Bay crossed a
range of mountains on which were neither traces of the natives or their
fires, they found the direct reverse of this to be the case, and were all
surprised at the tameness of the kangaroos compared with those they had
previously seen.

In the same way, when I entered a new district, the birds merely flew up
into a lofty tree without attempting to go farther away, and it was not
until I had shot for a day or two in the neighbourhood of a place that
the birds there became at all wild.

The native dog, doubtless being dependent for subsistence upon the game
he can procure, must contribute to thin the numbers of the lesser
animals, who also, together perhaps with the rapacious dog himself,
frequently fall a prey to the various snakes that inhabit the country; as
was evinced in the event narrated on the 16th of March of the
destruction, by Mr. Lushington, of the boa with a small kangaroo
compressed in its folds.

The manner, too, in which I have seen the rapacious birds of prey soar
over plains where the small kangaroos abound, convinces me that they also
bear their part in the destruction of this harmless race.


I have already alluded to the paucity of quadrupeds, both in species and
in number, but I have still to record the remarkable fact of the
existence in these parts of a large quadruped with a divided hoof: this
animal I have never seen, but twice came upon its traces. On one occasion
I followed its track for above a mile and a half, and at last altogether
lost it in rocky ground. The footmarks exceeded in size those of a
buffalo, and it was apparently much larger, for, where it had passed
through brushwood, shrubs of considerable size in its way had been broken
down and, from the openings there left, I could form some comparative
estimate of its bulk. These tracks were first seen by a man of the name
of Mustard, who had joined me at the Cape, and who had there been on the
frontier during the Kaffir war; he told me that he had seen the spoor of
a buffalo, imagining that they were here as plentiful as in Africa. I
conceived at the time that he had made some mistake, and paid no
attention to him until I afterwards twice saw the same traces myself.


To describe the birds common to these parts requires more time than to
detail the names of the few quadrupeds to be found; indeed in no other
country that I have yet visited do birds so abound. Even the virgin
forests of South America cannot, in my belief, boast of such numerous
feathered denizens; yet I cannot, after all, assert that the number of
genera and species is at all proportionate to that of individual birds.
The contrary is probably the real case.


The birds of this country possess in many instances an excessively
beautiful plumage; and he alone who has traversed these wild and romantic
regions, who has beheld a flock of many-coloured parakeets sweeping like
a moving rainbow through the air whilst the rocks and dells resounded
with their playful cries, can form any adequate idea of the scenes that
there burst on the eyes of the wondering naturalist.

The beginning of the month of February, or the end of January, is the
season in which the birds in these parts pair. In the beginning of March
I found many nests with eggs in them; and in the end of that month eggs
nearly hatched were observed in most of the nests, as well as young birds


Of rapacious birds I saw but four kinds, but these are by no means

The first species was a very large bird, of a dark colour (Aquila fucosa,
Cuvier) in size, appearance, and flight closely resembling the golden
eagle which I have often seen, and have once shot on the north-west coast
of Ireland. I have approached these birds closely--so closely indeed that
I have on two occasions shot them, but each time they fell into a thick
mangrove inlet and I was not fortunate enough to procure either of them;
they appeared to me always to frequent the shores, for I never saw them
further inland than a mile from the sea. The large nests Captain King
mentions as having been found upon the coast I imagine must have belonged
to this species.

The second species was a sort of hawk (Haliaeetus leucosternus, Gould)
rather larger than the sparrow-hawk, of a light cinnamon colour, with a
perfectly white head. They also frequent the shores, but I never shot

The third species was a Peregrine falcon (Falco melanogenys, Gould) which
is nearly allied to that of Europe. I was not fortunate enough to procure
a specimen of this bird.

The fourth was the Athene Boobook. Belly brown and white; wings brown,
with white spots; third quill-feather, longest; legs feathered, lightish
brown colour; tail brownish white, marked with transverse bars of a
darker brown; eye prominent; iris blue. The only difference I could
observe between the male and female is that the female is rather larger
than the male, and her colours somewhat lighter. These birds inhabit the
whole of that part of North-western Australia lying between the Prince
Regent and Glenelg Rivers, and probably may be distributed over the
greater portion of the Continent. They feed on insects, reptiles, and
birds of the smaller kind. I have always found them seated in holes in
the rocks, or in shady dells, and have never seen them fly in the daytime
unless compelled by fear; they are very stupid when disturbed, and in
flight and manner closely resemble the common English owl. I cannot
however recollect having ever seen one on the wing during the night.

Upon describing the two singular birds mentioned above in Chapter 9 to
Mr. Gould he informed me that they were most probably of the rare species
Anas semipalmata.


I have already spoken in the 9th chapter of a very curious sort of nest
which was frequently found by myself and other individuals of the party,
not only along the seashore, but in some instances at a distance of six
or seven miles from it. This nest, which is figured in Illustration 19, I
once conceived must have belonged to the kangaroo rat I have above
mentioned, until Mr. Gould, who has lately returned from Australia,
informed me that it is the run or playing ground of the bird he has named
Chalmydera nuchalis.

These nests were formed of dead grass, and parts of bushes, sunk a slight
depth into two parallel furrows, in sandy soil, and then nicely arched
above. But the most remarkable fact connected with them was that they
were always full of broken shells, large heaps of which protruded from
each extremity of the nest. These were invariably seashells. In one
instance, in the nest most remote from the sea that we discovered, one of
the men of the party found and brought to me the stone of some fruit
which had evidently been rolled in the sea; these stones he found lying
in a heap in the nest, and they are now in my possession.


I have seen no Emus in North-western Australia, but on two occasions
their tracks were impressed in the mud on some plains lying on the banks
of Glenelg River; and Mr. Dring, of H.M.S. Beagle, informed me that,
whilst that vessel was employed in the survey of Fitzroy River, about
seventy miles to the southward of the former, he not only several times
saw traces of them but that, on one occasion when he was in the bush, two
of them passed within a few yards of him. They may, I conceive, therefore
be considered as inhabitants of this part of the continent.


No alligators were seen by the land party in any of the rivers of
North-western Australia, but the crew of the schooner saw one in Hanover
Bay. I can however safely assert from my own experience that they are by
no means numerous upon this coast. At the islands of Timor and Roti
however they abound.


Turtles were abundant on the coast, and a freshwater tortoise was found


Amongst the vegetable kingdom I shall only observe generally that the
Calamus, or rattan, which in King's voyage* is considered to be peculiar
to the primary granitic formation on the east coast, is abundant in the
interior of the north-west between latitude 15 and 17 degrees south.

(*Footnote. Appendix, volume 2.)

I found a dwarf cabbage-palm between 15 and 16 degrees south latitude,
always in moist situations in the neighbourhood of streams, although not
immediately on the banks.

Of the family of Urticeae many species of Ficus were observed.

The Banksia, common to Swan River, and bearing a yellow flower, is to be
found in many of the valleys on the north-west coast; thus appearing to
form an exception to Mr. Cunningham's observation inserted in Captain
King's voyage,* wherein he says:

Viewing the general distribution of Banksia, it is a singular fact in the
geographical distribution of this genus that its species, which have been
traced through almost every meridian of the south coast, upon the islands
in Bass Strait, in Van Diemen's Land, and widely scattered throughout the
whole extent of New South Wales to the north coast, at which extreme
Banksia dentata has been observed as far west as longitude 136 degrees
south, should be wholly wanting on the line of the north-west coast.

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

I observed a great variety of plants of the order Leguminosae.

Of the extraordinary Capparis resembling the African Adansonia I have
already spoken in Chapter 6.

A species of Callitris (Pine) was common, as was the Pandanus; and the
Araucaria excelsa was found on the heights, both near the sea coast and
further inland.


I conceive the climate of North-western Australia to be one of the finest
in the world, and my reasons for thus thinking are grounded upon the
following circumstances.


I was resident there from the beginning of the month of December 1837 to
the middle of the month of April 1838; a period of four months and a
half: and during the whole of this time the men under my command were
exposed to great hardships and privations. On one occasion three of us
slept in the open air without any covering or warm clothes for five
successive nights, during three of which we had constant showers of heavy
rain, and yet did not in any way suffer from this exposure.

Other detached parties were on various occasions subjected for a shorter
period to exposure of a similar nature, and no instance occurred of any
individual suffering in the least from it. One or two cases of slight
diarrhoea occurred, but they could be always traced to some food that had
been eaten the day before, and never were sufficiently violent to delay
us for a single hour.

Whilst this perfect freedom from disease existed amongst the party they
had not only to bear exposure of the nature above stated, but the
provisions with which I was enabled to supply them were sometimes very
insufficient for their wants. During the whole month of March and part of
April their daily full allowance of food was about 1 3/4 pounds of flour,
first made into dough and then baked in the form of a flat cake upon a
large stone.

This low diet, at the same time that they were compelled to work very
hard, naturally rendered some of them extremely weak, and several were,
on our return to the coast, in a very reduced state.

I should here state that we were (perhaps fortunately) unable to carry
more than one pint of brandy with us, hence no spirits were issued to the
men, and the non-appearance of diseases of an inflammatory nature may
perhaps in some measure be attributed to this circumstance.

The opinion of Captain Wickham, R.N. commanding H.M. ship Beagle, is
perfectly in accordance with my own. He was upon the coast at the same
time that we were, and in a letter to me writes thus: "Our cruise has
been altogether a fortunate one, as we have been enabled to examine the
whole coast from Cape Villaret to this place (Port George the Fourth)
without any accident, and the climate is so good that we have had no


I have annexed a short statement of the weather and range of the
thermometer during some parts of the months of December, January, and
February. It will be seen from this that the heat was on some occasions
great, even as high as to 136 degrees of Fahrenheit in the sun; yet, by
not exposing ourselves to its influence in the heat of the day more than
we could help, we suffered no inconvenience from this circumstance:
indeed in other tropical countries where the heat has not been so great I
have suffered much more than I did in North-western Australia.


December: 6 days.
January: 19 days, namely, 12, to January 19th, 4 between 19th and 28th, 3
to end of month.
February: 7 days.
March: 12 days.
To 12th April: 2 days.

In January the greatest quantity of rain fell between the 15th and 30th,
accompanied by storms of thunder and lightning.

In February the greatest quantity of rain fell in the commencement of the
month. For several nights in the middle of February we had thunder,
lightning, and strong gusts of wind, seldom accompanied by rain.

In March the greatest quantity of rain fell from the 17th to the 23rd.

The mean temperature of the different periods of the day for the month of
December 1838 at Hanover Bay, determined by observations for only six
successive days from the 26th to the 31st inclusive (thermometer in the
shade) are as follows:

6 A.M. 82.2.
9 A.M. 85.3.
12 m. 91.3.
3 P.M. 90.2.
6 P.M. 85.8.
9 P.M. 83.5.

The same for the month of January 1838, determined by observations made
from the 1st to the 19th inclusive, was:

6 A.M. 78.2.
9 A.M. 84.3.
12 M. 83.1.
3 P.M. 85.7.
6 P.M. 80.7.
9 P.M. 83.4.

I should observe that the mean temperature for 9 P.M. for this month is
deduced from only seven days observation.

The same as the above for the month of February, taken twelve miles to
the south of Hanover Bay, from the 19th to the 26th February inclusive,
is as follows:

6 A.M. 77.0.
9 A.M. 86.0.
12 A.M. 92.7.
3 P.M. 94.0.
6 P.M. 83.3.


I was never fortunate enough to succeed in obtaining a friendly interview
with the natives of these parts; but I have repeatedly seen them closely,
was twice forced into dispute with them and, in one of these instances,
into deadly conflict. My knowledge of them is chiefly drawn from what I
have observed of their haunts, their painted caves, and drawings. I have
moreover become acquainted with several of their weapons, some of their
ordinary implements, and I took some pains to study their disposition and
habits as far as I could.

In their manner of life, their roving habits, their weapons, and mode of
hunting, they closely resemble the other Australian tribes with which I
have since become pretty intimately acquainted; whilst in their form and
appearance there is a striking difference. They are in general very tall
and robust, and exhibit in their legs and arms a fine full development of
muscle which is unknown to the southern races.

They wear no clothes, and their bodies are marked by scars and wales.
They seem to have no regular mode of dressing their hair, this appearing
to depend entirely on individual taste or caprice.

They appear to live in tribes subject, perhaps, to some individual
authority; and each tribe has a sort of capital, or headquarters, where
the women and children remain whilst the men, divided into small parties,
hunt and shoot in different directions. The largest number we saw
together amounted to nearly two hundred, women and children included.


Their arms consist of stone-headed spears (which they throw with great
strength and precision) of throwing sticks, boomerangs or kileys, clubs,
and stone hatchets. The dogs they use in hunting I have already stated to
be of a kind unknown in other parts of Australia, and they were never
seen wild by us.

The natives manufacture their water-buckets and weapons very neatly; and
make from the bark of a tree a light but strong cord. Their huts, of
which I only saw those on the sea-coast, are constructed in an oval form
of the boughs of trees, and are roofed with dry reeds. The diameter of
one which I measured was about fourteen feet at the base.


Their language is soft and melodious, so much so as to lead to the
inference that it differs very materially, if not radically, from the
more southern Australian dialects which I have since had an opportunity
of enquiring into. Their gesticulation is expressive, and their bearing
manly and noble. They never speared a horse or sheep belonging to us and,
judging by the degree of industry shown in the execution of some of their
paintings, the absence of anything offensive in the subjects delineated,
and the careful finish of some articles of common use, I should infer
that under proper treatment they might easily be raised very considerably
in the scale of civilization.


A remarkable circumstance is the presence amongst them of a race, to
appearance, totally different, and almost white, who seem to exercise no
small influence over the rest. I am forced to believe that the distrust
evinced towards strangers arose from these persons, as in both instances,
when we were attacked, the hostile party was led by one of these
light-coloured men.


Captain King, who had previously experienced the same feelings of
ill-will in the natives of Vansittart Bay, attributed them to the
periodical visits of the Malays during the season of the trepang fishery.
He says (volume 1 page 320):

On this beach (of Vansittart Bay) we found a broken earthen pot, which
decidedly proved the fact of the Malays visiting this part of the coast,
and explained the mischievous disposition of the natives.


I saw but three men of this fair race myself, and thought they closely
resembled Malays; some of my men observed a fourth.


An individual differing in appearance and colour from his aboriginal
associates was also seen amongst a native tribe whilst the boats of the
Beagle were surveying in Roebuck Bay, and is thus ably described by Mr.
Usberne, the master of the vessel; who was in command of the boat at the
time he was observed, and who thus narrates the interview:*

(*Footnote. Nautical Magazine for 1840 page 576.)

To prevent interruption during dinner the things were removed to the
boat, and she was then shoved a few yards off the beach, and we commenced
our repast.

As we took to the water they (the natives) rose and followed us close;
but in the act of shoving off, the boat-hook being pointed over the bow,
they one and all involuntarily stepped back a couple of paces, thinking
no doubt that it was one of our spears, which to them must have appeared
a formidable weapon; but, seeing no harm was intended, they remained at
the water's edge, watching us whilst at dinner.

At this time I had a good opportunity of examining them. They were about
the middle age, about five feet six inches to five feet nine in height,
broad shoulders, with large heads and overhanging brows; but it was not
remarked that any of their teeth were wanting (as we afterwards observed
in others); their legs were long and very slight, and their only covering
a bit of grass suspended round the loins. There was an exception in the
youngest, who appeared of an entirely different race: his skin was a
copper colour, whilst the others were black; his head was not so large,
and more rounded; the overhanging brow was lost; the shoulders more of a
European turn, and the body and legs much better proportioned; in fact he
might be considered a well-made man at our standard of figure. They were
each armed with one, and some with two, spears, and pieces of stick about
eight feet long and pointed at both ends. It was used after the manner of
the Pacific Islanders, and the throwing-stick so much in use by the
natives of the south did not appear known to them.

After talking loud, and using very extravagant gestures, without any of
our party replying, the youngest threw a stone, which fell close to the



It appears to me very probable that the same dark-coloured race inhabit
the whole of Northern Australia, and perhaps extend over the islands in
Torres Strait.

In order to support this opinion I shall first give an extract from the
journal of Dr. Duncan, from Wilson's Voyage round the World, page 148,
which contains a detail of the customs of Flinders Islands and part of
Northern Australia, and displays two or three remarkable customs
coinciding with those observed by myself and others to exist in Northwest

At 8 hours 40 minutes P.M. the colonial brig Mary arrived, bringing along
with her a native of India, whom she picked up on one of Flinders

On the 18th July the Lascar came on board the Success, and from him I
learned the following particulars: That he belonged to the ship Fame,
which was wrecked in the Straits; that he and a few others escaped in a
leaky boat after rowing for forty-eight hours. On landing the natives
stripped them of their clothes, etc., but otherwise behaved very kindly
to them. His companions in misfortune died the first year of his
residence amongst the natives, which in all amounted, he said, to six or
seven years.

The men in that part of Australia have from five to ten wives, of whom
they are rather jealous at times. The tribes are continually at war with
one another, and have regular pitched battles; but the moment that one is
killed on either side, the battle ceases, until they carry off their
dead, and mourn for certain days, according to their custom; bedaubing
themselves over with black earth, and on another day the fight begins and
ends in a similar way.



This is singularly analogous to what occurred on our encounter with them
on the 11th February. Dr. Duncan continues:

When one dies or is killed they bury the body in the earth, but at the
end of five days dig it up again and wrap up the bones, etc., in bark of
trees, and carry them along with them. When the women fight, which is
very often, they use a short kind of club. The natives paint their bodies
over with red clay to prevent the mosquitoes from biting them. When they
paint their bodies white it is a sign of war with some other tribe.


A very remarkable instance of coincidence in this custom with regard to
the dead will be found in a subjoined extract from a letter sent to me by
an officer of the Beagle, together with a skeleton which he had found at
Cygnet Bay. The skeleton has been presented to the Royal College of

The skeleton was found enveloped in three pieces of papyrus bark, on a
small sandy point in Cygnet Bay. All the bones were closely packed
together, and the head surmounted the whole. It did not appear to have
been long interred. They had evidently been packed with care. All the
long bones were undermost, and the small ones were strewed in among them.
The head was resting on its base, face across.

Three natives were close to the place when we first landed: the eldest of
the party went up to the spot immediately after I had removed the bones;
he turned up the bark with his foot, and did not appear to show the
slightest symptom of uneasiness. They were for some days among the
watering party on very friendly terms.



As I never, during my subsequent travels in Australia, saw anything at
all resembling the painted caves which I have described in the ninth
chapter, I shall here add some observations on the subject, which I could
not have there detailed without too great an interruption to the

Two other instances of Australian caves which contain paintings have been
recorded. The first is by Captain Flinders and the second by Mr.
Cunningham in King's voyage.


The caves found by Flinders were in Chasm Island, in the Gulf of
Carpentaria, and are thus described:*

In the steep sides of the chasms were deep holes or caverns undermining
the cliffs; upon the walls of which I found rude drawings, made with
charcoal, and something like red paint, upon the white ground of the
rock. These drawings represented porpoises, turtles, kangaroos, and a
human hand; and Mr. Westall, who went afterwards to see them, found the
representation of a kangaroo, with a file of thirty-two persons following
after it. The third person of the band was twice the height of the
others, and held in his hand something resembling the waddy or wooden
sword of the natives of Port Jackson.

(*Footnote. Flinders' Voyages volume 2 page 158.)



(*Footnote. North-east coast of Australia.)

The second instance is taken from Mr. Cunningham's manuscripts and is
contained in the following extract:*

The south and south-eastern extremes of Clack's Island presented a steep,
rocky bluff, thinly covered with small trees. I ascended the steep head,
which rose to an elevation of a hundred and eighty feet above the sea.

The remarkable structure of the geological features of this islet led me
to examine the south-east part, which was the most exposed to the
weather, and where the disposition of the strata was of course more
plainly developed. The base is a coarse, granular, siliceous sandstone,
in which large pebbles of quartz and jasper are imbedded: this stratum
continues for sixteen to twenty feet above the water: for the next ten
feet there is a horizontal stratum of black schistose rock which was of
so soft a consistence that the weather had excavated several tiers of
galleries; upon the roof and sides of which some curious drawings were
observed, which deserve to be particularly described. They were executed
on a ground of red ochre (rubbed on the black schistus) and were
delineated by dots of a white argillaceous earth, which had been worked
up into a paste. They represented tolerable figures of sharks, porpoises,
turtles, lizards (of which I saw several small ones among the rocks)
trepang, starfish, clubs, canoes, water gourds, and some quadrupeds,
which were probably intended to represent kangaroos and dogs. The
figures, besides being outlined by the dots, were decorated all over with
the same pigment in dotted transverse belts. Tracing a gallery round to
windward, it brought me to a commodious cave or recess, overhung by a
portion of the schistus, sufficiently large to shelter twenty natives
whose recent fire places appeared on the projecting area of the cave.

Many turtles' heads were placed on the shelves or niches of the
excavation, amply demonstrative of the luxurious and profuse mode of life
these outcasts of society had, at a period rather recently, followed. The
roof and sides of this snug retreat were also entirely covered with the
uncouth figures I have already described.

As this is the first specimen of Australian taste in the fine arts that
we have detected in these voyages it became me to make a particular
observation thereon: Captain Flinders had discovered figures on Chasm
Island, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, formed with a burnt stick; but this
performance, exceeding a hundred and fifty figures, which must have
occupied much time, appears at least to be one step nearer refinement
than those simply executed with a piece of charred wood. Immediately
above this schistose is a superincumbent mass of sandstone which appeared
to form the upper structure of the island.

(*Footnote. King's Australia volume 2 page 25.)



There is a third instance of a cave with a figure in it in the district
of York, in the settlement of Swan River; but in this case the species of
circle which is drawn on the cave, or rather scraped into it with a piece
of stone, may represent anything or nothing; in fact it is no more than
any idle or thoughtless savage might have executed, without any fixed
design whatever. The only other vestige of drawing contained in the cave
is evidently the mere impression of a hand, which has been rubbed over
with the red paint with which the natives are in the constant habit of
bedaubing themselves, and has then been pressed in on the wall.


I had been told that the natives had some very curious traditions current
amongst them with regard to this last cave and, after having visited it
and satisfied myself that there was no analogy between it and the caves
on the north-west continent of Australia, I set about collecting some of
the native stories that related to it. These legends nearly all agreed in
one point, that originally the moon, who was a man, had lived there; but
beyond this there was nothing common to them all, for every narrator
indulged his own powers of invention to the greatest possible degree,
scarcely ever relating the same story twice, but on each occasion
inventing a new tradition; and the amount of marvels and wonders which he
unfolded in this revelation were exactly proportioned to the quantity of
food which I promised to give him. I once or twice charged them with
attempting to impose upon my credulity and, far from denying the charge,
they only laughed and said, "that was a very good thing which they told
me, and that the Djanga (white men) liked it very much."


In the painted caves on the north-western coasts five colours were used:
red, several shades; yellow; blue; black, and white. With the exception
of blue these colours are all known to the natives of the whole
continent. The red they either dig up from the earth, fit for use, in the
form of red earthy pebbles, or they find it in the form of a brilliant
yellow clay, which they beat, clean, and dry, leaving it exposed to the
air for several days, when they bake it in a bark basket, and then, if
the clay is good and it has been well prepared and burnt, it is nearly as
bright as vermilion. In some parts of the continent however no good clay
can be found; and in this case, at their annual fair, where they meet to
exchange certain commodities only locally produced, this brilliant red
ochre is considered a very valuable article of traffic.

Yellow they obtain from several sources: the most common is the yellow
clay from which the red is afterwards produced, but they also procure it
from a stone which is traversed by veins of yellow earth; from the
interior of the nest of a species of ant which collects a yellow dust;
and from a sort of fungus from which a similar dust is also obtained.

The black is nothing but finely pounded charcoal.

The white is a very fine greasy species of pipe-clay, common all over
Australia, and which they use either wet or dry.

How the blue colour used in the caves on the north-west was obtained I do
not know; it is very dark and brilliant, and closely resembles the colour
obtained from the seed-vessel of a plant very common there, and which, on
being broken, yields a few drops of a brilliant blue liquid. I therefore
imagined that it was procured from this source.


With regard to the age of these paintings we had no clue whatever to
guide us. It is certain that they may have been very ancient, for,
although the colours were composed of such perishable materials, they
were all mixed with a resinous gum, insoluble in water, and, no doubt,
when thus prepared, they would be capable of resisting, for a long
period, the usual atmospheric causes of decay. The painting which
appeared to me to have been the longest executed was the one clothed in
the long red dress, but I came to this conclusion solely from its state
of decay and dilapidation, and these may possibly have misled me very
much; but, whatever may have been the age of these paintings, it is
scarcely probable that they could have been executed by a self-taught
savage. Their origin therefore I think must still be open to conjecture.

But the art and skill with which some of the figures are drawn, and the
great effect which has been produced by such simple means, renders it
most probable that these paintings must have been executed with the
intention of exercising an influence upon the fears and superstitious
feelings of the ignorant and barbarous natives: for such a purpose they
are indeed well calculated; and I think that an attentive examination of
the arrangement of the figures we first discovered, more particularly of
that one over the entrance of the cave, will tend considerably to bear
out the conclusion I have here advanced.


It is a singularity worthy of remark that the drawings we found in the
vicinity of the coast were nothing but the rudest scratches; that they
gradually improved until we reached the farthest point we attained from
the sea; and that it was in the vicinity of this point that some of the
best productions were found.



The most remarkable geographical feature in North-Western Australia is a
high range of mountains running north-north-east and south-south-west,
named by me Stephen's Range after James Stephen, Esquire, Under-Secretary
of State for the Colonies. From this primary range several branches are
thrown off: 1. One between Roe's River on the north and Prince Regent's
River on the south. 2. Macdonald's Range that throws off streams to
Prince Regent's River on the north and to Glenelg River on the south. 3.
Whateley's Range which gives forth streams to Glenelg River on the north,
and to the low country behind Collier's Bay and Dampier's Land on the

These branch ranges as well as the principal one are all composed of
ancient sandstone, deposited in nearly horizontal strata, or of basaltic
rocks which are only visible in certain places, and are most fully
developed in that part of Stephen's Range which lies behind Collier's
Bay, and in the low ground near Glenelg River.

With the extent of Stephen's Range I am unacquainted; but I have no doubt
that the high land whence the Fitzroy River takes its rise is merely an
under-feature again thrown off from it, and which I propose to call
Wickham's Range after Captain Wickham, R.N., the discoverer of the

We may form some idea of the limits of Stephen's Range in a north and
east direction from the following passage extracted from Captain King's
survey of these coasts:*

Lacrosse Island is situated in the entrance of a deep opening trending to
the south-south-west towards some steep, rugged hills. The character of
the country is here entirely changed. Irregular ranges of detached rocky
hills of sandstone formation, very slightly clothed with small shrubs and
rising abruptly from extensive plains of low, level land, seem to have
superseded the low wooded coasts that almost uninterruptedly prevails
between this and Cape Wessel, a distance of more than six hundred miles!

(*Footnote. King's Australia volume 1 page 291.)


It appears therefore that this main range contains within it the sources
of Roe's River, Prince Regent's and Glenelg Rivers, most probably the
Fitzroy, and those that run into Cambridge Gulf and perhaps others that
have their embouchures between this last and Admiralty Gulf.

From an accident having occurred to the only barometer we could carry
with us I am unable to state the elevation of the highest land we reached
above the level of the sea; but the appearance of the country on the
coast does not give the impression of any very elevated ground existing
near it. This however is owing to the great height of the shore cliffs
and the gradual rise of the land towards the interior. The following
observations, made with the barometer before it was broken, will show
however that the altitude of the country at no great distance from the
coast is considerable.


Our first encampment was on the banks of a small river at a spot 2,640
feet from the sea. This river ran through a deep and narrow valley,
descending with a nearly regular slope from a tableland of sandstone, in
which it took its rise about seven miles inland. At this encampment the
height of the bed of the river above the level of the sea was 188.76
feet, as found by the mean of several very accordant observations, which,
at the same average slope, gives an elevation of about 377 feet for the
height of a spot on its banks distant only one mile from the sea; and if
we conceive the average increase of elevation to the sandstone tableland
to be only 200 feet in every mile (and I believe it to have been more) we
shall have 1400 feet for the elevation of the tableland which formed one
of the highest parts of Macdonald's Range.


After passing across this range we again descended rapidly into the low
country, the face of which is much broken by conical hills composed of
basalt. The heights of some of these hills above their base, which had a
considerable elevation above the sea level, were in three instances as

February 28.

The measured height of a hill above its base was 331 feet.

March 4.

Measured the altitude of a hill above its base and found it to be 222

March 8.

Measured the altitude of a hill above its base and found it to be 229.5

None of these hills had apparently near so great an elevation as the
sandstone range of which they were under-features. At this period our
barometer was unfortunately broken. We now proceeded up the banks of the
Glenelg and arrived at many hills and conical peaks, apparently much
higher than those I had measured; yet on afterwards passing the river and
attaining the summit of the opposite sandstone range, we looked down upon
them as hills of far inferior elevation to those on which we stood. From
this circumstance, and from the very perceptible change of temperature we
experienced, I should think the altitude of the farthest point of
Stephen's Range which we reached must have been 2,500 or 3,000 feet above
the sea.


The rivers in North-western Australia much resemble in character those of
the south-eastern parts of the continent. They rise at no very great
distance from the sea. Near their sources they are mountain torrents, but
in the lowlands they become generally streams with slow currents, winding
through fertile and extensive valleys or plains which are liable to
sudden and terrific inundations, caused, I conceive, by the rain which
falls in that part of the mountains where the rivers take their rise; for
at one period, when we had our encampment on the bank of the small stream
near the sea at Hanover Bay, I was myself distant about fourteen miles in
the interior in the direction of its source, where we had heavy rain; and
on my return I found that the party at the station had been surprised by
a sudden rising of the water for which there was no apparent cause as
there had been no rain where they were.

The Glenelg River, in like manner, is subject to sweeping inundations,
rising sometimes to the height of fourteen to fifteen feet above its
usual level, as was evinced by the weeds and other substances we saw in
the trees on its banks.

To show that these are characteristics of the Fitzroy River I shall quote
the authority of Captain Wickham from a letter addressed to me just
before our meeting at Hanover Bay:

It (the Fitzroy) appears to be very similar to the rivers on the
south-east side of New Holland, subject to dreadful inundations, caused
by heavy floods in the interior, and in no way connected with the rainy
season on the coast. Our visit to it being in February and March,
immediately after the rainy season on the coast, without our seeing any
indication of a recent flooding, although there were large trunks of
trees and quantities of grass and weeds lying on the bank and suspended
from the branches of trees from ten to twelve feet above the level of the
river. The bed is entirely of sand.



It will be clearly seen how nearly this corresponds with what we observed
about the same season on the banks of the Glenelg. I have therefore
little doubt that the Fitzroy takes its origin from the same mountain
chain, and that the inundations described by Captain Wickham originate in
the causes which I have here assigned.

To demonstrate more clearly the similarity of character of these rivers
with those of New South Wales I shall quote two passages from the British
Colonies of Mr. Montgomery Martin, regarding the Hawkesbury and Hunter
Rivers of that colony:

The Hawkesbury, which is a continuation of the Nepean River, after the
junction of the latter with a considerable stream, called the Grose,
issues from a remarkable cleft in the Blue Mountains in the vicinity of
the beautiful town of Richmond, about forty miles from Sydney. Along the
base of these mountains the Hawkesbury flows in a northerly direction,
fed by numerous tributary mountain torrents, descending from narrow
gorges, which, after heavy rains, cause the Hawkesbury to rise and
overflow its banks as it approaches the sea. In one instance it rose near
the town of Windsor ninety-seven feet above its ordinary level. Volume 4
page 257.

Again he says, page 258:

Hunter's River, about seventy miles to the northward of Port Jackson,
disembogues into the sea at the harbour of Newcastle.

There are three branches to the Hunter, called the upper, the lower, and
the middle: the two former are navigable for boats for about 120 miles,
and the latter for about 200 miles; but the branches are all subject to
sudden and terrific inundations owing to the rapid descent of torrents
from the Blue Mountains.



In concluding my remarks on the rivers of the north-west I should state
that Mr. Stokes, the surveyor of the Beagle, after a careful examination
of the coast did not succeed in finding the mouth of the Glenelg; and he
imagines that it has several openings, consisting of large mangrove
creeks, which fall into Stokes Bay; whilst it is my impression that it
will be found to run out somewhere between Camden Sound and Collier's
Bay, and that by some accidental circumstance its mouth was missed. That
it joins the sea in a considerable body I should infer from a shoal of
porpoises having been seen high up the river, and from the rise and fall
of tide, which was twenty feet at the direct distance of thirty miles
from the coast.


The valleys in this country are of two kinds: those which are almost
ravines, bordered on each side by nearly inaccessible cliffs; and valleys
of great width, bordered by fertile plains, often extensive, and which
occur where the basaltic rocks are developed; although ravines of this
formation are also of frequent occurrence in the mountainous parts.


The soil found in the valleys of the former kind is extremely rich, but
they are all subject to very heavy inundations. As an example of this
kind of valley I may cite the one in which we first encamped. Its mean
width was only 147 feet, and the rocky precipitous cliffs at half a mile
from the sea rose above their base 138 feet. These deep valleys
undoubtedly afford water at all seasons of the year.

The sandstone formation is intersected in all directions by valleys of
this kind, which are seldom more than from two to three miles apart,
while the top of the range between them is a tableland, divided by
lateral valleys and gently rising towards the interior. Seawards they all
terminate in saltwater creeks, having the same narrow, rocky, and
precipitous character as they present themselves.

These tablelands afford good timber, particularly pine. Sheep thrive upon
the food there produced, but we found goats did not answer so well.

The richest land in this part of the country is found in the valleys of
the second class. The streams flowing through these valleys have
generally almost imperceptible currents and often form wide reaches. The
land upon their margins is thinly wooded; and I have often seen exposed
fine vegetable mould of ten or twelve feet in thickness, through which
these streams had worn their way. Good examples of this kind of valley
are those through which run the Fitzroy and Glenelg rivers.

The northern banks of Prince Regent's River I conceive to offer no
inducement whatever for the formation of a settlement, the whole of the
country in that direction, as far as I have seen, consisting entirely of
sandstone ridges. These ridges are continually intersected by valleys, or
rather ravines of great fertility, but they are so narrow, and the good
land contained in them is so very limited in extent, that from the first
moment of the establishment of a colony here the individuals composing it
must necessarily be scattered over a large space of country. They would
thus be separated from one another by considerable intervals, which
separation would not only render them more liable to disagreements with
the natives, but would for many other reasons be highly detrimental to
the interests of an infant colony.

The same objection holds good with regard to the south bank of this
river, as far as the longitude of 125 degrees 3 minutes east, and even
after passing this point the land immediately bordering the river is of
the same sterile character; however a creek which trends nearly south
runs up from thence into one of the most fertile countries I have ever


The coastline to the south of Prince Regent's River is indented, as shown
upon Captain King's chart, by numerous deep bays, many of which afford
excellent anchorage; indeed I believe that there is no other part of the
world in which an example occurs of three such fine harbours as Port
George the Fourth, Hanover Bay, and Camden Sound, lying so close to one

These harbours alone render this a point of considerable consequence to
Great Britain; but when viewed in connexion with the fine tract of
country lying behind them its importance is very materially increased.


Should this part of Australia be found eligible for colonization its
commercial importance is well worthy of consideration.


The cultivated productions for the growth of which the country and
climate seem best adapted are cotton, sugar, indigo, and rice.

A species of cotton plant grows wild in the greatest abundance, and if a
colony was established and the proper cotton-plant introduced the
following advantages would be obtained:

Great Britain would possess in Northern Australia a colony standing in
the same relation to her manufacturies for cotton that her colonies in
the south do to her wool-market.

This colony would also form a sort of entrepot to which the manufactured
cotton would again be exported for the purpose of sale in the islands of
the Indian Archipelago or its vicinity, and other parts where we have at
present no trade, and where printed cottons now are, and from the nature
of these countries must constantly be, in great demand.

Thus a fresh supply of cotton for our markets would be obtained, which,
coming from an English colony, would give employment to British vessels
alone, and the industry of our manufacturers would be called into
operation by an entirely new market for cotton goods being thrown open to
them, in which the demand for these articles is far greater than the
supply could be for many years.


The natural productions that are at present found in North-west Australia
and might be available for exportation consist chiefly of timber, gum,
lichens, and mimosa bark; all of which are abundant, and might be
collected with a trifling degree of labour.

There are many varieties of useful timber. Among others, pine, fit for
the purposes either of building or making spars for vessels, is abundant
and good, and could be readily and cheaply exported if they were cut in
the vicinity of the streams and floated down to the sea in the rainy
season, whereby all land carriage would be avoided.

I sent to England specimens of five different gums in order that they
might be examined. These consist of an elastic gum, closely resembling
Indian rubber, gum tragacynth, another gum yielded by a sort of capparis
and which I believe to be hitherto unknown, and two kinds of gum resin.

The mosses are of various kinds, many of which would afford useful dyes;
and these, together with the gums, would probably be found valuable
articles of export; for the collecting of them is a species of labour in
which the native tribes would more willingly engage than any other I am
acquainted with.

Immediately off North-West Cape is good whaling ground. The schooner
employed on the expedition fell in with two vessels--the Favourite,
Captain White, and the Diana, Captain Hamott, whalers belonging to
Messrs. Bennett & Co., of London, and then fishing between North-West
Cape and the position usually assigned to the Tryal Rocks. Both these
vessels had been very successful.


With regard to the commerce that might be carried on by Northern
Australia with the islands of the Indian Archipelago I have made many
enquiries, and have gained from the most authentic sources some important

The points upon which I first endeavoured to obtain information were:

1. What desire was evinced by the inhabitants of the islands of the
Indian Archipelago and the China Sea to become possessed of articles of
British manufacture; and,

2. If they were able to pay a fair price, either in money, or by giving
goods for which there would be a demand in European markets, in exchange
for such articles of British manufacture as might be introduced amongst

Upon both of these points I received very satisfactory information. In
some instances most respectable merchants detailed to me the result of
speculations of this kind in which they had been engaged; in others
mercantile letters were placed in my hands, fully corroborating what had
been told me; but the information I thus obtained bore reference also to
the following points:

1. The degree of labour necessarily required to transport articles of
British manufacture to such a distant mart as the one here contemplated
for their consumption.

2. The length of time during which wages must be paid to and food
provided for the individuals engaged in this labour.

3. The duties to which the articles will become liable in the various
ports; and,

4. The danger of loss or injury that may be incurred in their transport

With regard to the two first of the above heads it appears that the
profit that may be realized by the trader is so considerable as not only
to cover the expenses that they would necessarily entail upon him; but
after these expenses have been defrayed the residue of profit that would
remain in his hands would be so large as to render this commerce one of
the most lucrative in which capital could be embarked.


This will be readily conceived when it is considered that the mode of
barter is that which is most usual amongst the inhabitants, and that the
trader puts his own valuation upon the articles he exchanges with them.
One of the oldest and most respectable merchants at the Cape made a
voyage through these islands for the purpose of procuring gold dust, and
he detailed to me the mode in which he conducted the traffic. A Spanish
doubloon was placed in one of the scales, and gold dust in the other;
when the quantity of gold dust was equal in weight to the doubloon, he
gave a doubloon's worth of goods they required, at his own valuation; the
profit realized was large.

One great drawback to this commerce at present is the necessity of
coasting from place to place in order to obtain a full cargo. The same
inconvenience was felt along the coasts of Africa and Madagascar until
some enterprising London and Liverpool mercantile houses established the
system of receiving vessels, which remained stationary at one point
whilst smaller vessels collected cargoes for them. Now a colony in some
northern part of Australia would in the same manner totally obviate this
inconvenience by affording a place in which cargoes could be collected
from small vessels, and to which the British manufactures to be exchanged
could be brought. Kupang in Timor at the present moment is used for this
purpose by the Dutch.


With regard to the third point I find that at the native ports, in
general, no duty is required; but where there is a Rajah it is politic to
make him a present in goods. The duties levied by the Portuguese at Dili
in the month of June 1838 was 10 per cent. With regard to the duties
levied by the Dutch on British merchant vessels I know but little; but
the duty demanded at Kupang and Roti on each horse exported, or each
musket imported, was six rupees, being almost equal to their original
value. Arms or ammunition are no longer contraband either in the Dutch or
Portuguese possessions.

In considering the danger of loss or injury that may be incurred in the
transport of merchandise to these parts it is unnecessary to compute the
ordinary dangers to which the merchant is more or less liable in all
quarters of the world; but two distinct drawbacks to commercial
enterprise at present exist in these countries, which are peculiar to
them, these are the prevalence of piracy, and the constant occurrence of
political commotions in the native states. The establishment of a
settlement on the north or north-west coast of New Holland would have
however the effect of diminishing both these evils in so great a degree
that a very few years would probably suffice for their complete


Notwithstanding the drawbacks occasioned to commercial enterprise by the
circumstances above detailed, there at this moment exists a very
considerable trade in the Indian Archipelago, which is, with the
exception of the few vessels that sometimes bring ponies to the Isle of
France and the British settlements, almost wholly in the hands of the
Americans. Indeed no fact which I have met with has so much surprised me
as the extraordinary diffusion of the American commerce, and the great
spirit of enterprise exhibited by them. For in many places where the
British merchants can find no commerce apparently worth their attention
the Americans carry on a lucrative and prosperous trade, and in
half-civilized countries, where the largest profits are always realized,
the Americans are so eminently successful that the British merchant
cannot attempt to compete with them.

This appears to arise from the following circumstance. The masters of the
American vessels engaged in this kind of trade are, in many instances,
whole, and in all other instances, part owners of the vessel and cargo;
whereas masters of English vessels have frequently little or no interest
in the vessel and cargo, and are moreover frequently tied down by
directions issued from the firm for which they act.

The difference between these two cases is very great; the American can
turn every circumstance that occurs to account: he can instantly enter
into any speculation that holds out a prospect of success; and can act
with rapidity and decision on his own responsibility. The English master,
on the contrary, has usually a certain prescribed line of duty to fulfil,
from which he cannot vary.

Hence it is that we often see the American whalers with arms, ammunition,
and other articles for barter on board. They whale off Madagascar, and,
whenever an opportunity offers, carry on a lucrative trade with the
natives. From thence their course is directed to St. Paul's and
Amsterdam, and afterwards along the coast of New Holland; and when it
again becomes necessary for them to refresh they touch at some island in
the Archipelago, and the scene of barter is once more renewed. Their
cargo eventually consists of sperm oil, gum copal and other gums, ebony,
tortoiseshell, gold dust, seal-skins, shells, and curiosities; yet they
originally started upon a whaling voyage.


During the years 1824 and 1825, when the port of Mombas upon the East
Coast of Africa was temporarily ceded to the British Government,
Lieutenant Emery, R.N., who was stationed there as commander, was witness
to a curious instance of this nature.

Whilst this port was in the possession of the English but one British
merchant vessel arrived there, yet three American vessels entered the
harbour. The master of the English vessel was not a part owner; the
American masters were all part owners and carried on a very lucrative
trade, shipping a large quantity of ivory, whereas the English master was
placed in a very unpleasant position, for, owing to the orders he had
received from his owners (Messrs Tobin and Co. of Liverpool) he had not
been able to ship a cargo suited to the market of Mombas, and if
Lieutenant Emery had not kindly cashed a bill for him the speculation
would have been a total failure.

The cargo these American vessels brought to Mombas was principally
muskets and ammunition, which they bartered with the natives for ivory;
and this is the cargo they always ship for trade with the inhabitants of
the Indian Archipelago, and, as muskets and ammunition are there of great
value, the profit they realize is enormous.

As an instance of the kind of persons these American masters often are I
may state the following circumstance.

Captain Wickham, R.N., was at Valparaiso in South America in the year
1836, where he met a purser in the American navy who had realized about
3000 pounds sterling; this person here quitted the American service and
laid out his capital in the purchase of a small vessel in which, having
embarked a cargo suited to the trade of the country, he started for the
coast of California; in a short period he returned to Valparaiso, having
in this single trip more than doubled his capital; this Captain Wickham
also stated was by no means a rare instance.


Having bestowed some attention on the state of trade in the Indian
Archipelago, and collected considerable information from various
individuals who had been engaged in it, I shall here subjoin a summary of
such of the principal facts as I think may be depended on.


In all the ports of the natives, as well as those under the Dutch and
Portuguese authorities, the produce is much the same. It consists chiefly
of goats, pigs, poultry, maize, paddy, yams, plantains, fruit,
sandalwood, beeswax, and tortoiseshell in small quantities.

At Dili duties of 10 per cent are exacted and produce is rather dear.
Sandalwood is to be had at from 2 to 4 dollars the picul of 125 catties;
wax is generally from 30 to 35 dollars (Spanish) the picul of 110

The ports of Timor furnish a little gold dust at times. Good water and
firewood are to be had at most of them; that of Dili is a good and safe

Gold dust, I understand, is also procurable at Sandalwood Island and New

For vessels the good season on the coast is from about the 10th of April
to the 15th of October.

Cootababa affords horses and all the produce of the other places. No
duties are levied here, the place not being subject to the Portuguese. It
is a small port and should be entered with caution.

The best ports of Timor for wax are Dili, Cootababa, Ocussi, Sitranny,
Nilow, and Manatronto. It is gathered in June, cleaned in July, and sold
principally in that and the two following months; but a vessel should be
active, as enterprising people go along the coast and buy it up for the
Kupang merchants, who send it to Batavia where it is said to sell for 120
rupees the picul; the price at Cootababa, being lately about 80 rupees at
2 1/2 to the Spanish dollar.

Sandalwood can be had from March to October, the usual trading season;
but from March to May is the best time as vessels from Kupang and Macao
are on the coast early, buying it up in time to return to Macao and China
in the favourable monsoon. The best ports for sandalwood are, Cootababa,
Ocussi, and Sitranny, but it is to be had most abundantly at Ata-poopa.


Spanish dollars, muskets, and gunpowder are the essentials for procuring
wax or sandalwood, but if you wish to have a greater assortment, small
quantities may be added of any articles from the following list.

Doubloons (Spanish).
Sovereigns (English).
blue cloth of Pondicherry of good quality.
ditto English (if cheap) of dark colour for officers.
white shirting or good calico for men and women.
handkerchiefs of colours and sorts.
white cotton stockings.
men and women's gown pieces of sorts and colours.
silk stockings, plain and ribbed.
shoes for men and women.
brandy, rum, gin, lead and flints.
quart-glass decanters, cruet stands, dress swords, wine glasses and
rummers, knives and forks, razors, needles, scissors, earrings,
bracelets, shawls of sorts, mock jewellery, sugar, soap, biscuits.

Bally and Surabaya are good places for rice, but more especially the
former, as it is to be had cheap, especially if bartered for opium. The
rice can be carried to Macao where a good price can always be obtained
for it.

Puloo, Batao, and Ocussi on the coast of Timor are good places for
obtaining tortoiseshell at all times, as well as the islands in front of
Timor, from October to December. The price is about 800 Spanish dollars
per picul in cash; but in exchange for blue or white cloth, powder, arms,
flint, etc., it would be obtained for much less.

Roti and Bally are both good places for ponies in exchange for cash or

The following is an account of our purchase and barter at the island of
Roti in January 1838:

10 horses for 10 muskets (old).
4 horses for 2 fowling-pieces (old).
9 horses for 27 1/2 rupees each.
3 mares for 22 rupees each.
8 sheep for an old regimental breastplate.
14 goats for a pair of pistols (old).
The duty on each horse was six rupees.

In Mr. Earle's translation of the account of the voyage of the Dutch
colonial brig Dourga, which, it is stated, left Amboyna May 26th 1825 and
visited the islands of Kissa, Lettee, Mon, Damma, Lakor, and Luan,* it is
said, in speaking of them:

The clothing of those who cannot obtain European or Indian cotton cloth
is pieces of prepared bark fastened round their waists.

The productions of these islands are sandalwood, beeswax, pearls,
tortoiseshell, trepang, edible birds' nests, Indian corn, rice,
vegetables, with abundance of livestock. As the use of money is scarcely
known these are only to be obtained by barter in exchange for cotton
cloths, brass wire, iron chopping knives, and coarse cutlery. The first
article, cotton cloth, is most in demand and M. Kolff suggests that a
European merchant might carry on an advantageous trade here. The value of
an ox is from 8 shillings and 4 pence to 10 shillings; of a sheep from 3
shillings and 4 pence to 5 shillings. Beeswax can be obtained in
abundance at Roma at the rate of 2 pounds 7 shillings per hundredweight.
The trade with the islands is carried on solely by natives, those of
Macassar, Amboyna, and the Arru Islands being the chief purchasers; and
Chinese brigs from Java occasionally visit Kissa.

(*Footnote. The Serwatty Islands to the east of Timor see the map of the
Asiatic Archipelago by Mr. John Arrowsmith.)


Geby, an island in the Gellola passage, has a fine harbour; a large
quantity of tortoiseshell can be obtained there for trade with the
natives. The Asia's Islands, lying a short distance to the northward, are
not inhabited but abound in turtle.


The following points of information concerning the Indian Archipelago
were furnished by Captain Brodie, formerly in command of a Dutch vessel
of 326 tons:

In case of a necessity for repairing or coppering a vessel Surabaya is
the best place as it can be done well and cheap. Wood for ship-building
is abundant; and good carpenters can be had at the rate of 20 copper
doits per diem, that is to say, three men for a rupee a day.

The Malaccas are under Dutch government, of which Ternate forms a part.
It is said to be a good place to dispose of odds and ends,* and for
getting a little shell. It is also a good place for refreshments.

Banda is not so good a place to go to, if another is at hand, as it is
for a merchant vessel a strictly prohibited port. In fact the Spice
islands, or Malaccas, can be entered for water and refreshments.

At Timor (Kupang) you can get sandalwood, wax, and a little shell, but

At the north-east end of Celebes there are two other places, Monado and
Keema, where the best gormootip or black coir rope can be obtained at
about 7 rupees per picul. These two places are under the Dutch
government. Some little business might be done there: stock in particular
is cheap.

At the island of Ceram the inhabitants are said to be favourable to the
English, but Dutch vessels of war cruise often about there, and are very

Bouton, a small island with a Rajah under Dutch protection, situate at
the south-east end of Celebes, and off the bay of Boni, is a place where
prows assemble and get vast quantities of shells and beche-de-mer. Nearly
all these prows proceed with their cargoes to Singapore for a Chinese

Fine cattle are to be had at about four dollars a head at the town of
Bally, in the Straits of Allass, between Lombok and Sumbawa.

New Guinea produces good beeswax, pearls, tortoise-shell, trepang,
birds-of-paradise, etc.

(*Footnote. Another authority says: Tidore near Ternate is a good
friendly place. Articles for trade are looking-glasses of a better kind,
knives and forks, beads, watches, printed calicos, blue Pondicherry
cloth, Salimpores, arms, powder, flints, lead or shot, razors, scissors,
handkerchiefs; in return for which you may get pearls, pearl-shell,
tortoiseshell, birds-of-paradise, nutmegs, etc.)



I shall conclude this subject with some remarks of Mr. John Sullivan.
R.N., a gentleman who possesses a vast fund of information regarding the
Indian Archipelago, and to whom I am indebted for many details regarding
its commerce. He says:

To suppose that the almost countless islands in the ocean before-named
(the Pacific) do not give many valuable articles, and particularly
tortoiseshell and pearl, would be no less an error than to doubt the
existence of the islands altogether.

No, the case is otherwise; and it is needless to say that in the quarter
alluded to there are already a few American merchants, who have
discovered by their China, whaling, and sealing voyages many sources of
wealth, and who are at this moment reaping rich rewards for their toil,
while 999 out of every thousand of the European world know nothing at all
about it. Nevertheless there is yet a vast field open to the speculator,
which must ever promise ample recompense for his confidence and outlay.



On arriving at the Mauritius I found that my stay would be unavoidably
protracted from the state of my wound, which the want of rest and
attention had prevented from healing during the expedition, whilst my men
were still suffering under the effects of the hardships and privations
they had recently been subjected to; my first step therefore was to
discharge the Lynher, and the next to consider a plan for future

The rivers Fitzroy and Glenelg, simultaneously discovered by Captain
Wickham and myself, although of considerable magnitude, were only
sufficient to account for the drainage of a small portion of the vast
continent of Australia, and this interesting question, far from being
placed in a clearer point of view by our expeditions, was if possible
involved in deeper obscurity than ever. I was therefore anxious to return
to the north-west coast and solve the mystery that still hung over those
regions; but, after considering various plans and suggestions, in which I
was kindly assisted by the advice and opinions of Sir William Nicolay,
then Governor of the Mauritius, I was induced to forego the intention of
proceeding again direct to the north-west, and to bend my course in the
first instance to Swan River. There I could consult Sir James Stirling,
the Governor, who had been instructed on our departure from England to
afford us every assistance; and, according to the means which could then
be obtained, I might either proceed again by sea to the vicinity of the
Glenelg or the Fitzroy; or, if a proper vessel and equipments could not
be had, I might endeavour to pass the range to the north-east of that
colony, ascertain the direction of the streams which must be thrown off
by it to the interior, and trace the main river into which they fell (if
such there was) to its outlet.


I accordingly embarked my party and the stores in my possession at Port
Louis on the 21st August 1838, and arrived on the 18th September at Swan
River, where I lost no time in communicating my views to Sir James
Stirling, who concurred in the plan for returning to the north-west; and
it was arranged that as soon as the colonial vessel Champion, then absent
on a voyage to St. George's Sound, should come back to the Swan, it
should be prepared for the conveyance to Camden Bay of myself and party,
reinforced by such additional persons as might feel disposed to proceed
there at their own cost for speculative purposes.


It was not however until the month of December following that the
Colonial schooner became disposable, and then new impediments arose from
her being found so much in want of repair as to be, in Sir James
Stirling's opinion, scarcely in a condition to proceed on such a voyage
as we contemplated, whilst the repairs required were of a nature which
could not be effected in the Colony. From these and other considerations,
more especially the danger and disappointment likely to be experienced
for want of proper equipment, which it was found very difficult to supply
at the Swan in an effective and satisfactory manner, the expedition to
the North-west was deemed unadvisable and for the present given up.

It is unnecessary here to dwell on the mortification I felt at being
obliged thus to abandon my long-cherished projects. The delays I had
already experienced were sufficiently vexatious, but I had endeavoured to
turn the time thus lost to some profit by endeavouring to acquaint myself
with the resources of the country, as well as in acquiring information of
a scientific nature, and I had attained such a knowledge of the language
of the natives as enabled me to form a vocabulary of the different
dialects spoken in these parts, which was printed and forwarded to
England at the close of the year.

My excursions into the country from Perth whilst awaiting the arrival and
fitting out of the Champion were necessarily short, but the journal of
one to the northward, made in company with my young friend Mr. Frederick
Smith, who afterwards fell a sacrifice in the expedition to Shark Bay,
will I think be interesting enough to be inserted here.


November 30.

Mr. Smith and myself started at noon this day, accompanied by Corporal
Auger and two natives, upon a trip in a northerly direction; about 5 P.M.
we reached a lake distant about fifteen miles from Perth, and called by
the natives Mooloore: we halted here for the night.

The horses were scarcely tethered and our fire made when four more
natives joined the party; their names were Noogongoo, Kurral, Jeebar, and
Dudemurry; they brought us a present of twenty-seven freshwater
tortoises, the average weight of each of which was half a pound. They
said that, although the lake was called Mooloore, the name of the land we
were sitting on was Doondalup.


As soon as supper was finished they became very talkative, and, in a sort
of recitative, recounted various adventures; and, when they conceived
that they had sufficiently entertained me, they requested me to give them
an account of my adventures in the northern part of the country, where
they had heard from other natives that I had been for some time.

Having now acquired some knowledge of their language, I was able to make
myself tolerably intelligible to them, and they listened with the
greatest anxiety and interest to the various misfortunes that befel me.
When they heard that I had been wounded by the natives to the north no
persuasions or protestations upon my part could convince them that my
object in now proceeding in that direction again was merely to gratify
curiosity, and not from motives of revenge; but they kept continually
requesting me not to attempt to kill anybody until I had passed a spot
named Yalgarrin, about ten days journey to the north, and they then
advised me indiscriminately to shoot everybody I saw; and were the more
urgent in pressing the adoption of this course upon me from the fact of a
quarrel existing between some of their relatives and the tribe dwelling

After I had exhausted the theme of my northern journey they desired me to
give them some information with regard to England; I therefore related
various circumstances which I thought would amuse them. Amongst other
things I described the track of the sun in the heavens in those northern
latitudes; this they fully understood, and it excited their most
unqualified admiration. I now spoke to them of still more northern
latitudes; and went so far as to describe those countries in which the
sun never sets at a certain period of the year.


Their astonishment now knew no bounds: "Ah I that must be another sun;
not the same as the one we see here," said an old man; and in spite of
all my arguments to the contrary, the others adopted this opinion. I
wound up the night's conversation by an account of the diminutive
Laplanders, clothed in skins of the seal instead of kangaroo; and amidst
the shouts of applause that this account excited I laid down to rest. I
this night observed a circumstance which had often before struck me,
namely, that savages care but little for narratives concerning civilized
man, but that anything connected with other races in the same state is
most greedily received by them.

December 1.

Before sunrise this morning the two natives Yenmar and Nganmar, who had
accompanied us from Perth, came to me and said that, from what I had told
them last night, it appeared that some cause of quarrel existed between
myself and the natives to the north; and that, however pacifically I
might now express myself, they felt convinced that, if a fair opportunity
offered, I should revenge myself upon some northern native. Now they,
being southern men, had nothing whatever to do with these quarrels and
disputes, and therefore they should at once return to Perth.

I did my utmost by means of protestations and promises to induce them to
forego this resolution, but in vain; and the only boon I could gain from
them was that they would accompany me to another tribe, distant about
five miles, some of whom would probably go on with me; they, at the same
time, assured me that they would preserve the most profound secrecy as to
the fact of my having any cause of quarrel to the northward; and advised
me to hold my tongue upon this point and quietly shoot the first man I
saw there.


Finding that the arrangement pointed out by these natives was the only
one I could adopt I was obliged to follow their advice, and we
accordingly moved off in a north-east, and then north-east by east
direction. After travelling over about four miles of country we heard the
distant cries of natives, and soon after came up with and found them
engaged in the pleasant occupation of carrying two wounded men on their
shoulders into Perth. These men had quarrelled and had settled the
dispute to their mutual satisfaction, as well as to that of their
friends, by spearing each other through their respective thighs. One of
the poor fellows was very ill and told me that his intention was to sit
down at my house in Perth until he was well--and he kept his promise.

I had many friends amongst these natives and soon selected four to
accompany me, their names were Warrup, Jenna, Dwer, and Ugat. There were
five northern natives with the tribe who had never seen white men; they
seemed to view us with great suspicion at first, but the present of a
little bread soon placed us on the most friendly terms; and, after about
half an hour's halt, we separated, they proceeding to Perth whilst we
pursued a northerly course. After having made about four miles in this
direction we halted for the day at the head of the Lake Moolore.


December 2.

We started before dawn, travelling in nearly a straight line across the
country, our compass course being 329 degrees from the north. After we
had made about three miles we reached a swampy lake, called Nirrooba,
covered with wild-fowl. We here halted and prepared our breakfast whilst
the natives went out to hunt. I soon shot a brace of wild ducks, and they
speared nine; I now gave little Ugat my gun, and he brought in four more
ducks, making a total of fifteen. Part of these we cooked, and kept the
remainder for our dinner. I forgot to mention that we yesterday shot
twelve parakeets.

I wandered for some distance about the eastern side of this lake and saw
some very good land, I should say at least fifty acres; and, in addition
to this land of the best quality, there was plenty of good feed for
cattle all round the lake.


At 2 P.M. we started again in a due north direction and, having proceeded
about four miles, reached a lake called Nowoorgoop. We now changed our
course to north and by west, and, after travelling six miles more, came
to a lake called, by the natives, Beeulengurrinyup; the water was however
so thick and muddy that I determined, although it was getting late, to
proceed further; we therefore changed our course to north and by east,
and after travelling for about four miles more reached another lake,
called Maubeebee. This lake was about three-quarters of a mile long. Mr.
Smith's feet had latterly become so sore that he had been compelled to
tie pieces of kangaroo skin over them, and thus equipped to walk without
his half-boots; and, on coming in to our bivouac, I had the mortification
to hear that, having been put carelessly on the horses, one of these
boots had fallen down; I saw therefore that it would be necessary to let
him and a native go back the next day upon the two horses we had with us
for the purpose of finding it. To Europeans it would seem rather a
visionary task to travel twelve or fourteen miles in a trackless forest
in the hope of recovering a boot, but the natives' eyes are so keen that
their finding it amounted to a matter of certainty.


Our bivouac this night had a beauty about it which would have made anyone
possessed with the least enthusiasm fall in love with a bush life. We
were sitting on a gently-rising ground which sloped away gradually to a
picturesque lake surrounded by wooded hills, whilst the moon shone so
brightly on the lake that the distance was perfectly clear, and we could
distinctly see the large flocks of wildfowl as they passed over our heads
and then splashed into the water, darkening and agitating its silvery
surface; in front of us blazed a cheerful fire, round which were the dark
forms of the natives, busily engaged in roasting ducks for us; the
foreground was covered with graceful grass trees and, at the moment we
commenced supper, I made the natives set fire to the dried tops of two of
these, and by the light of these splendid chandeliers, which threw a red
glare over the whole forest in our vicinity, we ate our evening meal;
then, closing round the fire, rolled ourselves up in our blankets and
laid down to sleep.

December 3.

At dawn this morning Mr. Smith and Warrup started on the horses in search
of his boot; and I spent the day in shooting wildfowl and various kind of
game, as well as in collecting words from the natives for my vocabulary.
About 4 P.M. Mr. Smith returned with his boot and we all retired early to

December 4.

We started at sunrise and travelled about six miles in the direction of
17 degrees, and then halted for breakfast at a lake called Boongarrup.
The whole of the country we passed over this morning was sandy and bad,
being thinly clothed with Banksia trees; but immediately about the lake
there was, as usual, good land. We started immediately after breakfast as
the natives told us we had a long journey to make. Our course now lay in
the direction of 13 degrees. The country we passed over was still of the
same sandy nature; and after travelling about ten miles we made another


The natives here saw the recent signs of strange blacks and insisted upon
my coming to a halt whilst they painted themselves and made sundry
additions to their toilette. I urged my remonstrances upon this head, but
it was in vain. They said that we should soon see some very pretty girls;
that I might go on if I liked, but that they would not move until they
had completed their preparations for meeting their fair friends. I
therefore made the best of it and sat myself down whilst they continued
adorning themselves. This being done to their satisfaction, they came and
requested my opinion as to their appearance; and as I intimated my most
unqualified approval they became in high spirits, and gave a very
animated description of the conquests they expected to make.

This weighty affair having been completed we again moved on, the natives
keeping a careful lookout for the friends they expected to see. They at
length espied one sitting in the rushes looking for small fish; but no
sooner did he see the approaching party than he took to his heels as hard
as he could, and two others whom we had not before observed followed his


Our native comrades now commenced hallooing to the fugitives, stating
that I had come from the white people to bring them a present of rice and
flour. Moreover Jenna shouted out to his uncle, "Am not I your
nephew--why then should you run away?" This and similar speeches had, at
length, the desired effect. First one of them advanced, trembling from
head to foot, and when I went forward to meet him and shook hands with
him it reassured the others, and they also joined our party, yet still
not without evident signs of fear. An old man now came up who could not
be induced to allow me to approach him, appearing to regard me with a
sort of stupid amazement; neither horses or any other of those things
which powerfully excited the curiosity of the others had the least charm
for him, but his eyes were always fixed on me with a look of eagerness
and anxiety which I was unable to account for.

We explained to the strange natives that we intended to halt for the
night in this neighbourhood, and asked them to show us a good spot with
plenty of water and grass. At the same time those I had with me stated to
the others that unless the women and children came in I would give no
rice or flour. This declaration was however wholly unauthorised by my
sanction, and arose from their desire of exhibiting their personal
attractions to the ladies of these parts; but, feeling rather disposed to
see a little savage flirtation, I raised no objection to it.

The oldest of the natives, who appeared to regard me with so much
curiosity, went off for the purpose of collecting the women whilst we
proceeded to our place of halt. After going about three miles in a due
north direction we made a river coming from an east and by south
direction, and here called by the natives Goonmarrarup; it lies in rather
a deep valley, and at this point consisted of large pools connected by a
running stream about 20 yards wide. There was plenty of wildfowl upon
these pools and Ugat soon shot some for us.


The scenery here was very picturesque: high wooded hills were upon each
side of us, and the valley was open and rather thinly timbered; but the
few trees it contained were of considerable size and beauty. Beneath one
of these we prepared our bivouac, the strange natives doing their utmost
to render themselves useful. They had never before seen white people, and
the quickness with which they understood our wants and hastened to
gratify them was very satisfactory.


After we had tethered the horses and made ourselves tolerably comfortable
we heard loud voices from the hills above us: the effect was fine for
they really almost appeared to float in the air; and as the wild cries of
the women, who knew not our exact position, came by upon the wind, I
thought it was well worth a little trouble to hear these savage sounds
under such circumstances. Our guides shouted in return, and gradually the
approaching cries came nearer and nearer.


I was however wholly unprepared for the scene that was about to take
place. A sort of procession came up, headed by two women down whose
cheeks tears were streaming. The eldest of these came up to me and,
looking for a moment at me, said, "Gwa, gwa, bundo bal," "Yes, yes, in
truth it is him;" and then, throwing her arms round me, cried bitterly,
her head resting on my breast; and, although I was totally ignorant of
what their meaning was, from mere motives of compassion I offered no
resistance to her caresses, however disagreeable they might be, for she
was old, ugly, and filthily dirty; the other younger one knelt at my
feet, also crying.

At last the old lady, emboldened by my submission, deliberately kissed me
on each cheek, just in the manner a French woman would have done; she
then cried a little more and, at length relieving me, assured me that I
was the ghost of her son who had some time before been killed by a
spear-wound in his breast. The younger female was my sister; but she,
whether from motives of delicacy or from any imagined backwardness on my
part, did not think proper to kiss me.

My new mother expressed almost as much delight at my return to my family
as my real mother would have done had I been unexpectedly restored to
her. As soon as she left me my brothers and father (the old man who had
previously been so frightened) came up and embraced me after their
manner, that is, they threw their arms round my waist, placed their right
knee against my right knee, and their breast against my breast, holding
me in this way for several minutes. During the time that the ceremony
lasted I, according to the native custom, preserved a grave and mournful
expression of countenance.

This belief, that white people are the souls of departed blacks, is by no
means an uncommon superstition amongst them; they themselves, never
having an idea of quitting their own land, cannot imagine others doing
it; and thus, when they see white people suddenly appear in their
country, and settling themselves down in particular spots, they imagine
that they must have formed an attachment for this land in some other
state of existence; and hence conclude the settlers were at one period
black men, and their own relations. Likenesses either real or imagined
complete the delusion; and from the manner of the old woman I have just
alluded to, from her many tears, and from her warm caresses, I feel
firmly convinced that she really believed I was her son, whose first
thought upon his return to earth had been to re-visit his old mother, and
bring her a present. I will go still farther and say that, although I did
not encourage this illusion, I had not the heart to try to undeceive the
old creature and to dispel her dream of happiness. Could I have remained
long enough to have replaced this vain impression by a consoling faith I
would gladly have done it; but I did not like to destroy this belief and
leave her no other in the place of it.

The men next proceeded to embrace their relation Jenna in the same manner
they had before done me; and this part of the ceremony was now concluded.

The women, who had retired after having welcomed me, again came in from
behind some bushes, where the children all yet remained and, bringing
several of them up to me, insisted on my hugging them. The little things
screamed and kicked most lustily, being evidently frightened out of their
wits; but the men seized on and dragged them up. I took the youngest ones
in my arms, and by caresses soon calmed their fears; so that those who
were brought afterwards cried to reach me first, instead of crying to be
taken away.


A considerable time had been occupied by these various occurrences, which
to me had been most interesting; but one of a more painful character was
now to follow. It appears that a sister of the native Jenna had been
speared and killed by a man who at present was resident with this tribe;
and, although most of them were on friendly terms with this native, they
conceived that Jenna was bound to revenge her death in fair and open
fight. The old lady (my mother) went up to him and, seizing his merro, or
throwing-stick, told him that the man who had killed his sister was at a
little distance; "and if," said she, "you are not a man, and know not how
to use this, let a woman's hand try what it can do," at the same time
trying to force it from him. All the time that she was thus pretending to
wrench his merro away she indulged in a most eloquent speech to endeavour
to rouse his courage. I do not know enough of the language to translate
it with proper spirit or effect, as I only caught the general meaning: it
had however a great effect on Jenna; and some young ladies coming in at
the conclusion, his mind was instantly made up; indeed the certainty that
bright eyes were to look upon his deeds appeared to have much the same
effect upon him that it had upon the knights of old and, jumping up, he
selected three good spears (all the men being willing to lend him theirs)
and hurried off to an open space where his antagonist was waiting for


The combats, one of which was now about to take place, much resemble the
ancient tournaments. They are conducted with perfect fairness. The
combatants fight in an open space, their friends all standing by to see
fair play, and all the preliminaries as to what blows are to be
considered foul or fair are arranged beforehand, sometimes with much

Taking into account the fantastic ornaments and paintings of the natives,
the graceful attitudes they throw themselves into either when trying to
avoid the spears of their enemy, or about to throw their own; and the
loud cries and wild motions with which they attempt to confuse and
terrify their adversaries, I must confess that if any exhibition of this
nature can be considered showy or attractive, this has no ordinary claims
to admiration.


I am however not fond of shows in which the safety of my fellow-creatures
is concerned, and on the present occasion was very anxious that nothing
of the kind should take place; for before I could induce Jenna to come
with me, I had passed my word for his safety, and I could not bear the
thought of his being now either killed or wounded. When therefore the
natives came to request our attendance at this spectacle, which they
evidently expected would afford us great amusement, I intimated my
decided disapproval of it: at first they imagined that this reluctance
arose from some apprehension of a quarrel upon our parts, and to remove
this the greater part of the men, who now amounted to sixteen, laid down
their spears by our stores. I still however would not sanction the combat
and, taking up my gun, intimated my intention of seeing that nothing was
done to injure Jenna; upon this my brothers proceeded in a friendly way
to hold me: which is exactly what one sees in England when two men, who
have not the least intention in the world of hurting one another, declare
in a loud tone their fixed determination of proceeding to the most
desperate extremities; whilst mutual friends stand by and appear with the
utmost difficulty to prevent them from putting their threats in
execution. It was just in this manner that my soi-disant brothers held
me, apparently not entertaining the least doubt but that I would easily
allow myself to be persuaded not to interfere. I had now recourse to
another expedient, and this was to declare to those about me that, if
either of the combatants was wounded, I should instantly pack up the
flour and rice and proceed to the white men's fires. This had the desired
effect: those around me started off and put the holding system so
effectually in force that the other natives and the two combatants soon
came in.

Some of the natives who now approached told Mr. Smith that a cannon had
been heard that morning in the direction of Fremantle; we therefore knew
that a vessel had arrived, and this made me anxious to return to Perth;
for, in the event of our obtaining canvas for the Champion's sails, I
expected that vessel would be ready to take us in a few days to the
north-west coast.


My anxiety to return was also increased by other reasons. Mr. Smith had,
with the exception of the first few miles, walked the whole distance from
Perth in pieces of kangaroo skin, and his feet were now in a dreadful
state from the joint effect of thorns and bruises; he however never
complained, and so much did I admire the quietness and perseverance with
which he had borne up against so serious an inconvenience, that I was the
more anxious to put an end to it as soon as possible. Besides it was
evident that very deadly feelings existed between Jenna and the murderer
of his sister, for he (Jenna) came and requested me to call this native
my friend, at the same time to give him plenty of flour and rice, "And,"
added he, "by-and-bye, ask him to sleep at your fire; then, in the night,
whilst he is asleep, I can easily spear him; and I will off, and walk to
Perth." I however cooled Jenna's ardour by whispering to him that, if any
quarrel was brought about by his attempting to spear this native, I
should instantly shoot him; as I had no idea of running a risk of losing
all our lives through his imprudence. This declaration had a very
salutary effect, and my now giving the promised present of rice and flour
entirely put a stop to all further differences.

The natives I had with me employed themselves in teaching the others, to
whom flour was an unknown commodity, the art of making dampers; whilst
Mr. Smith and myself, having arranged to start for Perth early the next
morning, mixed with the groups and visited their fires; the little
children now crawled to our feet and, all fear being laid aside, regarded
our movements with the greatest curiosity. After various amusing
conversations and recountals of former deeds the natives gradually, one
by one, dropped off to sleep; and we in turn, one always remaining on the
watch, followed their example.


December 5.

I should have stated, in justice to the natives, that they last night
brought me the head and forequarters of a kangaroo, being the only game
they had with them; and of this they offered to make me a present, which
however I did not accept. They were again this morning very anxious that
we should delay our journey for a day or two, promising upon their part,
if we acceded to the request, to give us a grand entertainment at which
all their young men would dance, and that we should have abundance of
kangaroos if we would give flour in return. I deemed it however most
prudent to hasten my return to Perth to see what vessel had arrived;
therefore, after taking a cordial farewell of our friends, we moved off
on our homeward route and reached Boongarrup about the middle of the day
following, by a route rather to the westward of that by which we had come

December 6.

This morning we started at daybreak and breakfasted at Manbeebee, and
immediately after breakfast resumed our route. I left the main party with
two natives and travelled up a swampy valley running nearly in the same
line as the chain of lakes we had followed in going. The natives insisted
on it that these lakes were all one and the same water; and when, to
prove to the contrary, I pointed to a hill running across the valley,
they took me to a spot in it, called Yundelup, where there was a
limestone cave, on entering which I saw, about ten feet below the level
of the bottom of the valley, a stream of water running strong from south
to north in a channel worn through the limestone. There were several
other remarkable caves about here, one of which was called the Doorda
Mya, or the Dog's House. Probably therefore the drainage of this part of
the country is affected by the chain of lakes, which must afterwards fall
into the river I saw to the northward. We slept at Nowoorgoop.


December 7.

We slept at Mooloore, and on the morning of the 8th we entered Perth and
found that the native's information was true, for the Britomart had
arrived from England.

I have already stated that on the arrival of the Champion her condition
did not enable us to proceed in her, and all prospect of being able to
conduct another expedition to the north-west coast being, for the
present, abandoned, I could only await further instructions from the
Government at home, and in the meantime resolved to employ the interval
in some scheme of exploration from the Swan which did not present the
same obstacles. Having again consulted Sir James Stirling, it was first
arranged that I should endeavour to explore overland in the direction of
Shark Bay; but this was soon abandoned on account of the difficulty of
procuring horses; and, to enable me to attempt this scheme with any hope
of success, I should consequently be obliged to incur a much greater
expense than I felt warranted in doing.

The same objection did not however exist to the plan of exploring the
coast towards Shark Bay in boats; and I imagined, if I could obtain two
good ones qualified for the purpose, that I might at a small expense have
some chance of making a successful trip. But there still existed a
difficulty in getting boats which occasioned a further delay.

Sir James Stirling had now (January 1839) quitted the colony, having been
succeeded in the government by John Hutt, Esquire, and, as no immediate
prospect was apparent of accomplishing my present design, I readily
acceded to a request made to me which led to another excursion to the
southward of Perth, the principal circumstances of which are narrated in
the following short journal.


In consequence of a conversation I had with his Excellency the Governor
on the morning of the 8th of January I received, in the afternoon of that
day, a letter from the Colonial Secretary stating that:

From accounts which had been received from the Williams and Leschenault,
there appeared every reason to believe that Mr. George Elliott, who left
the former place for the latter on the 17th December, had lost his way,
as no accounts of his arrival have been received from the Leschenault,
the Williams, or any other place.

Under such circumstances His Excellency the Governor is anxious that a
party in search of him should be despatched from Perth, and he has
instructed me to inform you that, if you could form such a party from
your own establishment, you would be rendering a service to the local
government, etc. etc.


As I had at this moment no matter of importance to occupy the party I
resolved to follow that course which the calls of humanity pointed out to
me, and within an hour from the receipt of this letter Mr. Walker,
myself, and the two non-commissioned officers of the Sappers and Miners
were ready to proceed. It was found however impossible to procure the
necessary horses for us before the next day, and our departure was
consequently delayed until the morning of the 9th.

Before entering into the details of this expedition it is requisite to
give a short outline of the circumstances under which we started. The
Williams River, from which Mr. Elliott had proceeded, is distant about
seventy miles from Leschenault in a direct line. The Williams is in the
interior, and the Leschenault on the sea-coast, and between the two
places lies the Darling Range, a high chain of mountains which had never
before been crossed at this point. Now, under ordinary circumstances Mr.
Elliott might have been expected to have reached Leschenault in three or
four days. He had therefore only carried with him a supply of provisions
calculated to last for that period. His party consisted of two men
besides himself, and he had with him a mare and filly.

His absence had however now unaccountably extended to a period of twenty
days; and the only rational conclusion that could be arrived at was that
he had either been murdered by the natives or had lost his way.

The Williams is distant from Perth in a direct line about one hundred and
twenty miles, and I had thus a considerable journey to perform before I
could get upon Mr. Elliott's tracks; and as this was the bad season of
the year there was but little hope that we should be able to follow them
for any great distance, if we ever succeeded in finding them.

Notwithstanding these various discouraging circumstances I still however
felt warm hopes for his ultimate safety. He was well acquainted with the
bush, having been ten years in the colony; and the same articles of food
which formed the subsistence of the natives would at least enable him to
maintain life for a considerable period. He had moreover with him two
horses, which past experience had taught me not only to be a nutritious,
but even an agreeable article of food. I imagined therefore that no
immediate danger of starvation need be apprehended; and in order that I
might have the best possible chance of finding his traces three
intelligent natives, Miago, Denmar, and Ninda, were engaged to accompany

On the morning of the 9th however, when the party were all ready to
start, these natives were not forthcoming. The length of the journey and
the danger of falling in with hostile tribes had frightened them, and
they therefore kept themselves aloof from us; but Kaiber, one of the most
intelligent natives of these parts, volunteered to supply their place.
Our three horses were soon swum across the estuary of the Swan; and with
no slight anxiety I started on an expedition upon the proper conduct of
which would probably depend the lives of three of my fellow-creatures.


Our proceedings until we had reached Pinjarra on the banks of the Murray
offer little or no interesting matter; I shall therefore pass them over
in silence. We arrived in Pinjarra on the morning of the 11th, having
been somewhat delayed by the weakness of a young horse; as there was
however no possibility of obtaining another in its place I was obliged to
take it on with us. On the afternoon of the 11th we made little more than
four miles in a southerly direction along the banks of the Murray.


On the 12th we started before dawn and travelled about eight miles in a
south by east direction; we then halted for breakfast on the banks of the
same river, which here issues out of the Darling Range after having found
a passage through that chain of mountains. Whilst breakfast was preparing
I walked up into the mouth of the gorge, which was replete with most wild
and beautiful scenery at this point. The river comes streaming out from a
rocky mountain pass, forming in its course a series of small cataracts.
The vale in which it runs offers an interesting specimen of woodland
scenery, and the high, bold, and partially bare granite mountains which
rear their heads above it differ much in character from the tame mountain
scenery that lies between Perth and York: this place is a favourite
resort of the wild cattle, and we saw everywhere numerous recent traces
of them.


In the afternoon we again started in a south by east direction. About a
mile after leaving the Murray we came suddenly upon four head of wild
cattle; two, which were distant from us, made off to the mountains, but a
noble white bull and a cow followed a line lying exactly in the course we
were pursuing. As we had one saddle-horse, which I was then on, I could
not resist having a gallop after them. I soon brought the bull to bay,
but when he had taken breath he turned and made off again and, as I had
no time to spare, I gave him no further interruption; on however wishing
to ascertain the hour I found that my watch had fallen from my pocket
during the course of the gallop.


I now waited until the party came up, when I requested Kaiber the native
to walk back and find the watch. This he assured me was utterly
impossible, and I really at the time agreed in this opinion; however as
it was a watch I much valued I determined to make one effort. "Well,
Kaiber," I said to him, "your people had told me you could see tracks
well, but I find they are mistaken; you have but one eye, something is
the matter with the other (this was really the case) no young woman will
take you, for if you cannot follow my tracks and find a watch I have just
dropped how can you kill game for her." This speech had the desired
effect, and the promise of a shilling heightened his diligence, and I
returned with him. The ground we had passed over was badly suited for the
purpose of tracking and the scrub was thick; nevertheless, to my delight
and surprise, within the period of half an hour my watch was restored to
my pocket. This feat of Kaiber's surpassed anything of the sort I had
previously seen performed by the natives.

We completed about eight miles and then halted for the night on the banks
of a running stream issuing from a gorge in the hills. There was a
considerable portion of good land in its neighbourhood and the horses
appeared not a little pleased with the excellence of the feed.

The 13th we spent in passing a portion of the Darling Range. After
travelling for eleven miles over a hilly country we came upon a beautiful
valley between two steep and high hills. Two streams poured down into
this valley and there formed a small freshwater lake. The scenery here
was so green and verdant, the tranquil little lake was so covered with
broad-leaved waterlilies, and the whole wore such an air of highland
mountain scenery that I could readily have imagined I was once more in
Scotland. About this lake there was also much good feed.


In the course of the afternoon we travelled eight miles further in an
easterly direction, and were then obliged to halt without water, which we
did not again succeed in finding after we left the lake.


On the morning of the 14th we had only travelled six miles in a due
easterly direction when I found we had crossed the Darling Range; our
course now lay along a level fertile plain, well fitted for pastoral
purposes. We travelled across this a distance of about five miles when we
came upon the river Bannister, which here was nothing but a series of
large pools with good feed for cattle about them. We halted for breakfast
and afterwards continued in an easterly direction, when, after travelling
for another six miles, we reached the Hotham. The land we passed over
between the Bannister and Hotham was equal in goodness to any I have seen
in Western Australia.

The circumstance of both water and feed abounding at the Hotham induced
me to halt here for the night, and on the morning of the 15th we
commenced our toilsome march from the Hotham to the Williams; the
distance is about twenty-eight miles in a direct line; the country
consisting of rocky hills, difficult to cross; and throughout the whole
of this distance we could find no water: we were thus for eleven hours
exposed to the sun in one of the hottest days I have ever felt, and we
were not a little glad when just at sunset we found ourselves on the
banks of the Williams.


We here found the establishment of an out-settler, of which it would be
difficult to convey an adequate idea: the house consisted of a few
upright poles, one end of each resting on the ground, whilst the other
met a transverse pole, to which they were tied; cross-poles then ran
along these, and to complete the building a sort of rude thatch was tied
on it. It was open at both ends and exposed to the land wind, which, as
the situation was high, I found a very unpleasant visitor during the
night. Here we found a very large flock of sheep in fair condition, also
a well-supplied stockyard, and cattle in beautiful order; upwards of
twenty kangaroo dogs completed the establishment.

These settlers were, at the time I visited the Williams, four in number;
consisting of one young man, two youths, and a little boy. Four soldiers
were quartered about sixteen miles from them, and there was no other
European within fifty miles of the spot. The distance they had to send
for all stores and necessaries was one hundred and twenty miles, and this
through a country untraversed by roads and where they were exposed to the
hostility of the natives in the event of any ill-feeling arising on their

Nothing can give a more lively notion of the difficulties and privations
undergone by first settlers than the fact that, when I left this hut,
they had no flour, tea, sugar, meat, or any provision whatever except
their livestock and the milk of the cattle, their sole dependence for any
other article of food being the kangaroo dogs, and the only thing I was
able to do in order to better their situation was to leave them some

All other circumstances connected with their position were on the same
scale. They had but one knife, an old clasp one; there was but one small
bed for one person, the others sleeping on the ground every night, with
little or no covering; they had no soap to wash themselves or their
clothes, yet they submitted cheerfully to all these privations,
considering them as necessary attendants upon their situation. Two of
these out-settlers were gentlemen, not only by birth but also in thought
and manner, and, to tell the truth, I believe they were far happier than
many an idle young man I have seen lounging about in England, a burden to
himself and his friends; for it must be borne in mind that they were
realizing a future independence for themselves.


Many of the ills and privations which they endured were however
unnecessary, and were entailed upon them by the mistaken system that has
been pursued at Swan River of spreading to the utmost their limited
population. I trust however that a wiser line of policy will now be
pursued, and that settling will consequently become an easier, less
dangerous, and far more agreeable task.


On the morning of the 16th Mr. Walker went to the Upper Williams, where
the soldiers were quartered, for a further supply of provisions, whilst
the native and myself tried to make off Mr. Elliott's tracks, in doing
which we were not however successful. The next morning, previously to Mr.
Walker's return, I renewed my search with Kaiber for the tracks with a
little more success, as amidst the numerous traces of cattle and horses
along the bed of the river the native was able by his acute eye to
discover the footsteps of a colt. When Mr. Walker returned the little boy
belonging to the establishment came back with him. He had seen Mr.
Elliott start and assured me that he had heard him express his
determination of keeping the bed of the river for eighteen miles. With
this piece of information we moved on down the river on the tracks which
we were able to distinguish for about two miles and a half, when they
quitted it in a south-south-west direction; and from the hard nature of
the ground the tracking from thence became excessively difficult. If the
colt had traversed this route, its little foot had made no impression on
the soil; and when we got on the ironstone hills, we altogether lost the
traces of the horse. Both the native and myself imagined, from our seeing
no tracks of the colt, from the indistinctness of those of the horse, and
from the circumstance of the boy's telling us that Mr. Elliott intended
to proceed eighteen miles down the river, that we had followed the wrong
marks; just therefore as night began to fall I moved back to the river.

January 18.

We started at dawn, following down the river, but could see nothing of
Mr. Elliott's tracks: and our evening journey was equally unsuccessful. I
now became very anxious and indeed rather alarmed for the safety of the
missing party, but resolved, as the best plan I could pursue, to strike
across the mountains to Leschenault, making a due west course my true
line of route, but constantly diverging two or three miles to the south
of this, and again returning to it by another route. I should thus have
every chance of falling in with the track I wished to find; and in the
event of my not succeeding I should be certain, if on my arrival at
Leschenault no tidings had been received of Mr. Elliott, that his party
must be somewhere to the southward and eastward of the course I had
taken, and that I might still, by the assistance of the Leschenault
natives to whom this country was known, succeed in finding him before
such a period had elapsed as would render assistance useless.


On the 19th, in pursuance of this determination, we made a rapid push of
nearly twenty miles in a westerly direction without reckoning our
divergencies to the southward. Nothing however but toil and
disappointment rewarded our exertions. We killed a large Boomer, or old
male kangaroo, the largest indeed I had ever seen; the dogs were unable
to master him he fought so desperately, and it was not until after he had
wounded two of them that I succeeded in dispatching it by a sort of
personal encounter in which a club was the weapon I used. The native who
was carrying my gun had dropped it the instant the kangaroo was started,
and I was thus unable to shoot it. We cut off as much of the flesh as the
dogs and ourselves required for two days and left the rest in the forest.
We halted for the night on a small stream, the only one I had seen since
we quitted the Williams.


Our departure was delayed on the morning of the 20th for about an hour
from being unable to find one of the horses which had strayed away in the
night, but, the fugitive being at length discovered and brought back, we
started and made nine miles before breakfast. We then travelled nine and
a half miles more, when we came upon the river Harvey near its source.
The character of the country we had travelled over since entering the
mountains was monotonous in the extreme. It consisted of an elevated
tableland composed of ironstone and granite occasionally traversed by
veins of whinstone. On this tableland there was little or no herbage; the
lower vegetation consisting principally of a short prickly scrub, in some
places completely destroyed by the native fires; but the whole country
was thickly clothed with mahogany trees, so that in many parts it might
be called a dense forest. These mahogany trees ascended, without a bend
or without throwing off a branch, to the height of from forty to fifty
feet, occasionally much more, and the ground was so encumbered by the
fallen trunks of these forest trees that it was sometimes difficult to
pick a passage between them. Even at midday the forest wore a sombre
aspect, and a stillness and solitude reigned throughout it that was very
striking. Occasionally a timid kangaroo might be seen stealing off in the
distance, or a kangaroo-rat might dart out from a tuft beneath your feet;
but these were rare circumstances. The most usual disturber of these
wooded solitudes were the black cockatoos; but I have never in any part
of the world seen so great a want of animal life as in these mountains.

Upon our gaining the Harvey however the scene somewhat changed; the river
here bore the appearance of a mountain trout-stream, sometimes gurgling
along with a rapid current, and sometimes forming large pools. The
tableland could no longer be distinguished as it here changed to a broken
chain of hills traversed by deep valleys; the scrub was higher and
entwined by a variety of climbing plants, which rendered it very
difficult to traverse; the mahogany trees became less frequent, and
various others were mingled with them, whilst on the banks of the river
good forage abounded. We made about five miles more through a country of
this description and then halted for the night.


January 21.

We did not make more than seven miles before breakfast this morning,
being embarrassed both by high and tangled underwood and rocky hills. We
then halted on the banks of the Harvey, where there was some beautiful
grass. We had still been able to find nothing of Mr. Elliott's tracks,
and had in vain looked for natives: but this evening, soon after starting
again, for the first time signs of them appeared, for we found a
newly-made grave, carefully constructed, with a hut built over it to
protect the now senseless slumberer beneath from the rains of winter. All
that friendship could do to render his future state happy had been done.
His throwing stick was stuck in the ground at his head; his broken spears
rested against the entrance of the hut, the grave was thickly strewed
with wilgey or red earth; and three trees in front of the hut, chopped
with a variety of notches and uncouth figures and then daubed over with
wilgey, bore testimony that his death had been bloodily avenged.


The native Kaiber gazed with a degree of concern and uneasiness on this
scene. "A man has been slain here," he said. "And what, Kaiber," I asked
him, "is the reason that these spears are broken, that the trees are
notched, and that wilgey is strewed on the grave?" His answer was,
"Neither you nor I know: our people have always done so, and we do so
now." I then said to him, "Kaiber, I intend to stop here for the night,
and sleep." "You are deceiving me," he said: "I cannot rest here, for
there are many spirits in this place." I laughed at his fears, and we
again moved on.


We now soon got clear of the hills and came out upon a plain of good
land, thickly covered with grass-trees. This plain was about three miles
in width and, having traversed it, we found ourselves in a sandy country
abounding with Banksia trees. We crossed several swamps, now completely
dried up, and having made ten miles halted for the night without water.
Mr. Walker scraped a hole in one of these swamps and obtained a little
putrid and muddy water which, not being very thirsty, I did not drink,
more especially as we had now, or indeed for several days, had no tea or
anything else to mix with it.

January 22.

We started again at dawn this morning and travelled rapidly, for we were
anxious to obtain water. In six miles we came out upon the sea. If my
reckoning was right we ought now to have been about ten miles to the
north of Leschenault; I therefore turned due south. Kaiber however now
came up and remonstrated against this, assuring me that I was wrong and
that we were, at this moment, two or three miles to the south of
Leschenault, and that if I persisted in going on in this direction we
should all die for want of water. As I put great faith in his knowledge
of the country I halted and ascended a hill to try and get a view along
the coast; I could not however succeed on account of the haze; and
believing then that I must be in error I turned north. We trudged on,
hour after hour; the sun got higher and more intensely hot, whilst,
having been four-and-twenty hours without water, the greater part of
which time had been spent in violent exercise under a burning sun, the
pangs of thirst became very annoying. A short period more convinced me
that I was right, and that Kaiber was in error; and, as we soon after
fell in with two native wells now dried up, we dug another in a
promising-looking spot near them, and obtained a little water, very muddy
and stinking; but I never enjoyed a draught more in my life. We here
halted for breakfast and by degrees obtained water enough for the horses
as well as ourselves.


The evening was consumed in retracing our steps of the morning, and at
night we halted near the head of the Leschenault estuary, being again
without water.

January 23.

Our route this morning was along the estuary of the Leschenault. About
five miles from this place we fell in with a party of natives, who
informed us that a few days before Mr. Elliott and those with him had
arrived there in perfect safety, and my anxiety on this point was
therefore set at rest. We passed the mouth of the river Collie at the
bar, which was almost dry, and halted for breakfast on the banks of the
Preston, about one mile from the house where I expected to find Mr.


No sooner was breakfast despatched than I set off to see Mr. Elliott in
order to hear the history of his adventures, which were not a little
surprising. He had, as I before related, started on the 17th of December
from the Williams, with only three days' provisions and, owing to some
mistake, had taken a south-south-west course and gone off in the
direction where we first saw his tracks, and had pursued this route for
three days, when, seeing nothing of the coast, he suspected he must be
wrong, and endeavoured to make a due west course; but from the impassable
nature of the mountain range at this point was unable to do so. About
this period also, owing to his powder-horn having been placed too near
the fire, it was accidentally blown away, and he was thus left totally
without protection in the event of any attack being made on them by the
natives. His own courage and resolution however never failed, and he
still made the best of his way to the southward, seizing every
opportunity of making westing. For twelve days he pursued this course,
subsisting on native roots and boiled tops of grass trees. About the
sixth day he fell in with some natives; but they ran away, being
frightened at the appearance of white men, and he thus could obtain no
assistance from them. At this period the filly strayed away from the mare
and was lost. His men behaved admirably; and on the fourteenth day the
party succeeded in reaching Augusta, having previously made the coast at
the remarkable white-sand patch about fifty miles to the eastward of it.

Notwithstanding the hardships and sufferings they had undergone this
party were but very little reduced in strength and, after recruiting for
a few days at Augusta, returned along the coast to Leschenault, where I
had the pleasure of seeing them all in good health and spirits.


January 21.

Whilst the party reposed themselves this day at Leschenault I hired a
horse and rode along the shores of Geographe Bay for the purpose of
seeing the Vasse district. The country between Leschenault and the Vasse
differs from those other parts of Western Australia that I have yet seen
in the circumstance that in several parts, between the sea and the recent
limestone formation, basaltic rocks are developed. A long chain of marshy
lakes lie between the usual coast sandhills and the ordinary sand
formations, about which there is some good land and good feed. About the
river Capel also there is a great deal of good land. The mouths of two
estuaries that occur between the inlet of Leschenault and the bottom of
Geographe Bay are both fordable. The district near the bottom of
Geographe Bay contains much good land, consisting of level plains thickly
covered with wattle trees; there are also at this season of the year
extensive plains of dry sand, which bear exactly the appearance of a

I passed the night at the house of Mr. Bussel, a settler who has the best
and most comfortable establishment I have seen in the colony, and
returned the next day to Leschenault with the intention of starting the
following one for Perth.


January 26.

Mr. Elliott this day joined us on our route to Perth, which was attended
with no circumstance worthy of notice until our arrival at Pinjarra. We
travelled over extensive plains which in the rainy season of the year
must be completely flooded, but in vain looked for the Harvey River and
the other stream which flowed from the hills to the sea. I could find no
watercourse in which they might probably flow, yet we had left them both
running strongly at not more than ten miles from the point where we then
stood. The truth was that they were absorbed in these marshy plains
before they came within several miles of the sea; and what threw a still
further light upon the subject was that, although these marshes were
perfectly dried up and had a hard-baked appearance at the surface, yet if
a hole about two or three feet deep was scraped in them water directly
came pouring into it.

On the morning of the 29th we reached Pinjarra; on the 30th Mr. Elliott
and myself rode as far as the Canning; and early on the 31st we had the
pleasure of entering Perth together.



At length, in the middle of February, after a mortifying delay of nearly
five months, an opportunity occurred which held out every prospect of
enabling me to complete the examination of the most interesting portion
of the north coast, together with the country lying behind it.

Three whale-boats having been procured, an engagement was made with
Captain Long of the American whaler Russel, of New Bedford, to convey my
party and the boats to some point to the northward of Shark Bay, and
there land us, together with a supply of provisions sufficient for five
months. My intention was to form a provision depot in some island, and
from that point to commence operations by the examination of the
undiscovered portions of the bay; and, should circumstances occasionally
render it desirable, I proposed to explore more minutely parts of the
country as we coasted along, or to make excursions to such a distance
inland as we might be able to penetrate.

Having completed the examination of the bay as far as we could with the
provisions we carried from the depot, I intended to return to it and,
after recruiting our stock, to make my way along the coast in the
direction of North-West Cape; making excursions inland as before at such
points as might seem to merit attention, and thus to continue to go
northward until our provisions were so far exhausted as to compel us to
return again to the depot; whence I finally proposed to continue my
examination to the portion of the coast left unvisited to the southward
of the depot, as far as Gantheaume Bay.

Several of the individuals who were to compose my party being now much
experienced in the difficulties that attend explorations both on the
coast and in the interior of the country, I felt that our enterprise was
not so hazardous as at first it might appear to be, especially as Mr.
Hutt had arranged with me as to a spot, to which, in the event of our not
returning to Swan River within a certain period the Colonial schooner
would be sent to look for us; and moreover the captain of another
American whaler had promised to visit North-West Cape at the end of July,
as it was his intention to remain in Exmouth Gulf during the season of
the bay fishing. We had thus two chances of being discovered in case of
any accident preventing us from effecting our previous return to the Swan

The unfortunate occurrence which frustrated my expectations of completing
this design, and which threatened the eventual destruction of the whole
party, will be narrated in its place.


I had taken three whale-boats in order to have a spare one should any
accident reduce the number; and everything being arranged I sailed in the
Russel from Fremantle on Sunday February the 17th 1839 at 3 P.M. with the
following party:

Mr. Walker, the Surgeon of the former expedition.

Mr. Frederick Smith, the young gentleman who had accompanied me on a
former tour.

Corporal Auger and Corporal Coles, Sappers and Miners.

Thomas Ruston, Sailor.

The last three, together with Mr. Walker, had been with me on the first
expedition, and to these were added:

H. Wood and C. Wood, Seamen.

Clotworthy, Stiles, and Hackney, taken as volunteers at Swan River.

And lastly, Kaiber, an intelligent native of the Swan.

Making in all twelve persons.

Our time during the voyage was occupied principally in getting the three
whale-boats in order and making other similar preparations. Poor Kaiber
the native was dreadfully sick from the first.

Sunday February 24 1839.

This evening we Sighted the centre of Dorre Island, and stood in to
within about two miles of the shore, which we found steep and rocky with
a heavy surf breaking on it; we then tacked and stood off for the night.


February 25.

Soon after daybreak we made the north-western part of Bernier Island and,
doubling the point at Kok's Island, stood in to Shark Bay. Kok's Island
is very remarkable: it is nearly a tableland, about a quarter of a mile
in length, terminating in low cliffs at each extremity; and on the summit
of this tableland are several large rocks which look like the remains of
pillars. The land is low. By noon we were all disembarked on Bernier
Island. The point I had selected for landing on was a sandy beach in a
little bay, the southern extremity of which was sheltered from the
south-east by a reef running off the point. Captain Long of the Russel
made the shore rather to the northward of the point I had chosen and,
owing to his boat getting broadside on whilst they were landing the
goods, he was knocked down under it and nearly drowned.

He had scarcely left us (though the Russel was then more than six miles
off) when we found that our keg of tobacco had been left on board; the
vessel was soon out of sight, and this article, so necessary in hardships
where men are deprived of every other luxury, was lost to us. Everything
else was however found correct. Whilst the men under Mr. Walker's
direction were arranging the stores Mr. Smith, Kaiber, and myself started
to search for water but were unsuccessful. Whilst on our return we saw
three large turtles among some seaweeds in shoal water; and, after a good
deal of floundering about and some tumbles amongst the breakers, we
succeeded in turning them, and then brought a party armed with axes, etc.
and cut them up. One part we immediately converted into soup, and the
remainder was immersed in a cask of pickle as a store against unforeseen
misfortunes. When these portions of the turtle were put into the brine
long after the death of the animals, they quivered for several minutes,
as if still endowed with the sense of feeling.


Bernier Island consists of recent limestone of a reddish tinge,
containing many recent fossil shells, and having a coating of sand and
sandy dunes which are arranged in right lines, lying south-east and
north-west, the direction of the prevailing winds. The island does not
afford a tree or a blade of grass, but only wretched scrubby bushes.
Between the dunes regular beds of shells are forming which, when dried
and light, are drifted up by the wind. The only animals we saw were
kangaroo-rats, one pigeon, one small land- and many seabirds, a few
lizards, mosquitoes, ants, crabs, oysters and turtle.


February 26.

Early this morning we had finished burying our stores. The wind had
freshened considerably about daylight, and throughout the day it blew
nearly a gale from the south-east; it now looked so foul that I feared a
long period of bad weather was about to commence. My own party, as well
as the crews of the boats which came off from the whaler, had during the
hurry and confusion incident on landing made very free with our supply of
water, and as, from the appearance of the island, I felt very doubtful
whether we should find any more, I put all hands on an allowance of two
pints and a half a day, and then employed the men thus: one party under
the direction of Mr. Walker worked at constructing a still, by means of
which we might obtain fresh water from salt; another made various
attempts to sink a well; whilst the native, another man, and myself
traversed the island in search of a supply from the surface.

At night the result of our efforts were recounted, when it appeared that
Mr. Walker had, by an ingenious contrivance, managed to have such a still
constructed that we might hope, by means of it, if kept constantly
working, to obtain just water enough to keep us alive. The party who had
tried to sink a well had invariably been stopped by hard limestone rock
in every place they had tried, and all their attempts to penetrate it by
means of a cold chisel and pickaxe had proved abortive. The party which
had been out with me searching for water had not seen the slightest sign
which indicated its presence on the island: we had taken a spade with us,
but wherever we dug had come down upon the solid rock. Under these
circumstances I reduced the allowance to two pints a day.

February 27.

This morning it still blew nearly a gale of wind from the south-east. The
men were occupied in the same manner as yesterday; but towards noon the
wind moderated a little, and as we could find no water I resolved to make
an effort to creep along shore to the southward.


My boat was soon launched in safety, but the Paul Pry, Mr. Walker's boat,
was not so fortunate; the water in the bay deepened rapidly from the
steepness of the bank, and the steersman, who was keeping her bow on
whilst the crew were launching, got frightened from the depth of water
and the violence of the surf, and let go his hold; when the next surf
threw the boat broadside on to the sea and, there being nearly half a ton
weight of stores in her, and the wind at this juncture unfortunately
freshening, she was in the course of two or three minutes knocked
completely to pieces. By this mischance all the stores in the boat were
lost, and nothing but a few planks and some articles of clothing were
recovered. I placed my own boat at anchor in a little cove for the night
and, leaving two men in her as keepers, the rest of us swam ashore
through the surf to render what assistance we could.

The loss of this boat was a very heavy misfortune to commence with; but
as I had taken the precaution in case of such an accident to provide a
spare one it was by no means irremediable; the other boat was all ready
for launching within half an hour, for by not allowing the men to remain
in a state of inactivity, and by treating the matter lightly, I hoped to
prevent their being dispirited by this unlucky circumstance.

The wind however continued freshening rapidly, and during the evening and
night we had heavy squalls accompanied by rain from all quarters, and
much thunder and lightning. During the night we collected a few quarts of
water in the sails.

February 28.

About ten A.M. the wind moderated so much that we ventured to launch our
remaining boat, now become the second, and in a few minutes both were
riding alongside one another in the little cove. We then commenced
pulling along the shore of the island, making about a south by east
course. Having the wind very nearly right ahead, and a heavy head-sea,
and about half a ton of stores in each of the boats, it was no very
enviable position that we were in; but anything appeared preferable to
dying of thirst on Bernier Island; my dislike to which was much increased
from the fact of Mr. Smith and myself, who slept side by side, having
been nearly tormented to death in the night by myriads of minute ants
crawling over us, by mosquitoes stinging us, and by an odious land-crab
every now and then running over us and feeling with his nippers for a
delicate morsel.


It was nearly three P.M. when we reached the north-eastern extremity of
Dorre Island and found a most convenient little boat harbour, sheltered
by a reef from all winds. We therefore stepped out from the boats upon
the reef and left them lying comfortably at anchor: a search for water
was instantly commenced; Mr. Walker's party brought some in and we were
not a little glad to get it, although we heard that it had been collected
by suction from small holes in the rock and then spitting it into the
keg. I laid up in store this precious draught, and those who had been
otherwise employed now accompanied me, in order that each might suck from
the holes in the rock his own supply of water. The point on which we had
landed was a flat piece of land covered with sandy dunes which appeared
to have been recently gained from the sea, and on all the landward sides
of the flat rose steep rocky cliffs, which is the character of the shores
of this island. After climbing these cliffs you arrive at a flat
tableland which forms the general level of the surface. It was evident
that at no very distant time the sea had washed the foot of these cliffs.


This island is exactly of the same nature as Bernier Island, the only
difference being that the land here was rather higher than on the former.
From the top of the cliffs the prospect was not at all inviting; to the
westward lay the level and almost desert land of Dorre Island, which we
were on; we had the same prospect to the southward; to the northward we
looked over a narrow channel which separated us from the barren isle of
Bernier and was blocked up by fearful-looking reefs, on which broke a
nasty surf; to the north-eastward lofty bare sandhills were indistinctly
visible on the main; whilst to the eastward we could see nothing but the
waters of the bay, which were tossed wildly to and fro as if by a coming
storm; yet the wind had fallen perceptibly, and the only alarming sign
was the peculiar look of the sky. After having made these observations,
and sucked up as much bitter dirty water as I could contrive to do, I
returned with the others to the boats.


The holes we found the water in were so small that we could only dip a
spoon into a few of them; the men however got plenty to drink and then
commenced hunting a small species of kangaroo-rat which is found on these
islands, and searching for turtle's eggs, in both of which pursuits they
were very successful. We then made blazing fires from driftwood which we
found about, and retired early to rest.


About eleven o'clock I heard a cry of one in great distress, "Mr. Grey,
Mr. Grey!" I instantly sprung up and answered the call, when Ruston, the
boatkeeper in my boat, said, "I must heave all overboard, Sir, or the
boat will be swamped." "Hold on for a minute or two," was my answer,
whilst I stripped my clothes off. I found that it was blowing a terrific
gale of wind which increased every moment in a most extraordinary manner;
the wind was from the south-east, and the breakers came pouring over the
reef as if the bay was going to empty bodily all its waters into the
little cove in which the boats were anchored. I now called Mr. Walker and
Mr. Smith and desired them to follow me off to the boats with two or
three hands, and then swam out to my own, which I found nearly full of
water, and it was all that the boat-keeper could do to keep her head on
to the sea. In a minute or two Mr. Walker and Mr. Smith, who were ever
foremost in difficulties and dangers, swam off to assist me, but they
could not induce any of the men to face the sea and storm, which was now
so terrible that they were all quite bewildered. Mr. Walker swam to his
own boat; Mr. Smith came to mine. We made fast a line to all the stores,
etc. and Mr. Smith boldly plunged in again amongst the breakers and
returned ashore with it, a service of no ordinary danger, for the shore
was fronted with a sharp coral reef, against which he was certain to be
dashed by the waves, and, after having got on it, the breakers would keep
knocking him down and thus cutting his legs to pieces against the rocks.
Mr. Smith however reached the shore with the line, receiving sundry
severe cuts and bruises; and, to my great surprise, in a few minutes more
he was again by my side in the boat, baling away: it was still however
all we could do to keep the boat afloat.


Mr. Walker now called out to me that his boat was drifting, and in a
moment more she went ashore. For one second we saw her dancing wildly in
over the breakers, and then she disappeared from us, and we were left in
uncertainty as to her fate; for, although we were close to the beach, it
was impossible, amidst the din of elements, to hear what was taking place
there. An occasional vivid flash of lightning showed us dark figures
hauling about some huge object, and then again all was wrapped in roar
and darkness. Mr. Smith and myself in the meanwhile were baling away, and
Ruston was striving with the steer oar to keep her head to sea, for the
instant she got the least broadside on the waves broke over her and she
filled again.


Mr. Walker, nothing daunted by the conduct of the men, having had his own
boat hauled up, again swam off to us, and for the next hour or two we
kept the other one not more than half full; but the gale, which had been
gradually increasing, now became a perfect hurricane, and it was evident
that this boat must also go ashore. We imagined that Mr. Walker's must be
stove in several places; and, as to have been left without a boat would
have been certain destruction to us, I swam ashore to have the party
ready to try and save mine by hauling her over the reef the instant she

I arrived there with a few cuts and bruises, and found the men on shore
in a most miserable state; many of them were perfectly appalled by the
hurricane, never having seen anything of the kind before, and were lying
under the lee of the bow of Mr. Walker's boat, which, although he had
drawn it up high and dry upon the sandhills, far above the usual
high-water mark, was again more than half full of water and seaweed from
the waves every now and then breaking over her stern. It was with great
difficulty I roused the men and got them to clear out the seaweed, which
lightened her somewhat; we then hauled her up a little at a favourable
opportunity, and advanced her so far that we rather gained upon the water
by baling, and thus, by degrees, got her quite on land. But as the storm
continued the waves still continued to encroach upon the shore, and we
were obliged to repeat this operation of hauling up three successive
times in the night, which was one of the most fearful I have ever passed.
I lay drenched through, my wet shirt sticking close to me and my blanket
soaked with water, for I could not find my clothes again after I came
ashore. Whenever a flash of lightning broke I looked if the boat was
drifting in, and there I saw it still dancing about upon the waves,
whilst the elements were so mighty in their power that I felt shrunk up
to nothing, and tremulous in my own insignificance.

The grey dawn stole on and the boat gradually became visible; she had
drifted somewhat nearer shore, but there still were the three figures
discernible in her, Ruston working away at the steer-oar, and Mr. Smith
and Mr. Walker alternately baling. The storm now appeared to lull a
little and in a few minutes (about half-past five A.M.) it suddenly
dropped. The men now looked out again and I could hear Ruston saying, "I
believe we are now safe, Sir;" and I immediately ordered that two men
should go off and relieve Mr. Smith and Mr. Walker. They evidently feared
to make the attempt and said they could not swim, which was true as far
as some of them were concerned. I then ordered successively three men who
I knew could swim to take advantage of the lull and gain the boat: they
all attempted it, but before they got clear of the reef their hearts
failed them, and they declared they could not contend with the waves.


Just as the last man had failed, the wind, which had hitherto been from
the south-east, shifted instantaneously to the north-west. We all quailed
or fell before it, for it came with sudden and indescribable violence;
the boat appeared to hesitate for one moment, in the next she came
dancing wildly in on the shore. The men reached her as well as they could
and we dragged her up. The storm now became so violent that even Mr.
Walker, who was a heavy man, was blown about by it like a child; there
was not a tree on the island, but the bushes were stripped from the
ground, and I found it impossible to keep my legs.

The sea all this time kept rising, being heaped up by the wind against
the shore, but whenever a momentary lull came we took advantage of it to
drag the boat a little further up; indeed the sea gained on us so much
that I had made up my mind it would sweep away the intervening sandhills
and once more wash the face of the cliffs. In this case we should to a
certainty have all perished.


At two P.M. the storm lulled considerably, and I immediately despatched
men in all directions to collect water from holes in the rocks, and made
the native and an old bushman try to light a fire; for those of us who
had been all the night and morning in the pelting rain, with nothing but
our shirts on, were benumbed and miserable from cold.

March 1.

The men who had gone out for water soon returned and reported that they
had been able to find very little which was not brackish from the spray
having dashed over the island; I therefore again reduced the allowance to
one pint a day and proceeded to inspect damages. Yesterday we had started
in good boats, with strong men, plenty of provisions, everything in the
best order; today I found myself in a very different position, all the
stores we had with us, with the exception of the salt provisions, were
spoilt; our ammunition damaged; the chronometers down; and both boats so
stoved and strained as to be quite beyond our powers of repairing them
effectually. Moreover from want of water we were compelled to make for
the main before we could return back to Bernier Island to recruit from
our ample stores there.


Nothing however could be done but to have the boats rendered as seaworthy
as possible and, having given this order, the want the men experienced
for water was the best guarantee that they would execute this task with
the utmost diligence. As soon as I saw them at their work I started with
a party in search of water whilst another party under Mr. Smith dug for
it; and Mr. Walker superintended the rearrangement of the stores and the
digging up the seaweed for the purpose of recovering lost articles. I
returned just before nightfall from a vain search; Mr. Smith had been
equally unsuccessful in his digging operations, and we thus had to lie
down upon the sand parched with thirst, our only chance of forgetting our
misfortunes being a few minutes sleep.


March 2.

The men continued working hard at the boats, and it appeared that their
task would be concluded this day. I once more started to look for water
and to examine the island; but our search was again unsuccessful. On
measuring the distance that the sea had risen I found that it had spread
up in the direction of our boats fifty-three yards above high water mark;
but what will give a better idea of the hurricane is the circumstance of
my catching a cormorant on the beach, about seven o'clock on the morning
of the 1st, and during the height of the storm, the bird not even
attempting to fly, being in appearance completely appalled at the
violence of the wind. It was reported to me at night that another hour's
work in the morning would render the boats fit for sea.

Sunday March 3.

The men had slept but little during the night for they were oppressed
with thirst; and when I rose in the morning I saw evident symptoms of the
coming of another roasting day. They were busy at the boats as soon as
they could see to work, whilst Mr. Smith and myself ascended the cliffs
to get a view towards the main. When I looked down upon the calm and
glassy sea I could scarcely believe it was the same element which within
so short a period had worked us such serious damage. To the north-east we
could see the lofty white sandhills in Lyell's Range; to the eastward
nothing was visible; yet this was the point to which I had determined to
steer, for several reasons. In the first place, the land in that
direction had never been visited; and secondly, I had found the shores of
Dorre Island covered with great forest trees, which must have been washed
across the bay, and which from their size could only have been brought
out from the continent by some large and rapid stream, which we at this
moment would gladly have seen as there was only about a pint and half of
water per man left.


When we returned to breakfast I found the boats nearly ready for sea, and
about eleven o'clock they
had been all hauled down, the stores stowed away, and everything made
ready for launching, and off we went, not a little rejoiced at the
prospect of soon having an abundant supply of that liquid on which our
lives depended. There was scarcely any wind but that little was right aft
so that between sailing and pulling we made about five knots an hour. The
boats were however so heavily laden that the men found it very laborious
work, for they were exposed to the rays of a burning sun and had nothing
to drink but half a pint of water, which was all I could allow them.

We however persevered from soon after eleven A.M. until five P.M., when
the men began to get disheartened from seeing no signs whatever of land,
and I ordered my boat's crew to knock off pulling for a little, and in
Mr. Walker's boat, which was about a mile astern, they did the same. In
twenty minutes time I made my crew again take to their oars, but the
other boat did not in this instance follow our example, so that we kept
dropping her rapidly astern. This was very annoying; but as I was anxious
at all events to get a glimpse of the land before sundown we still pulled
away, trusting that the other boat would soon follow in our wake.


About half an hour before sunset we sighted the land: several low rounded
hills were the first things seen; then what I conceived to be very lofty
trees rose in sight, and almost at the same moment the boat grounded on a


I had observed this shoal several miles before we came to it and it
appeared to extend as far as I could see both north and south, but, as I
had no doubt that we should find sufficient water on it to enable us to
cross, I had given it no attention. I now however on looking more
carefully could perceive no limit to its extent in those directions and,
as I thought I saw deep water immediately to the eastward of us, I
ordered the men to jump out and track the boat over. This they did; but
on coming to what appeared to be deep water we found it was only a
continuation of the same sandbank, covered with seaweed, which gave the
water a darker appearance. The men now alternately tracked or pulled the
boat for about five miles over a continuation of the sandbank; a work
very fatiguing to those who were already exhausted by several days'
continuous exertion on a very short allowance of water in a tropical
climate. It had now been for some time night, and we had taken a star for
our guide which just before sunset I had seen rising over the main. I
thought we had at last gained the shore, at least the boat was close to a
dark line rising above the water which appeared like a wooded bank; two
of the men now waded onwards to find out the best place for landing and
to light a fire that the crew of the other boat might know where we were.
I saw them to my surprise not ascend a wooded bank but disappear amongst
the trees; and still through the silence of the night I heard the splash
of men walking through water, and in a minute or two afterwards the cries
and screams of innumerable startled waterfowl and curlews, who came
flying in flocks from amongst the mangrove trees.


The men returned and reported that there was no land or any sign of land
hereabouts; that the mangroves were a belt of trees upon a sandbank and
that the water deepened inside; that the tide evidently rose very high,
from the tufts of seaweeds in the bushes; that it was then rapidly coming
in (which was evident enough, for the boat was afloat) and that the other
side of the mangrove bushes was an open sea.

This was unpleasant intelligence. That it was untrue I felt assured; but
one man, who certainly could not have seen more than a hundred yards
ahead of him on so dark a night, spoke as confidently as if he had seen
fifty miles, and this discouraged the others: so by way of keeping their
minds occupied I got under weigh again and stood off a little to the
southward in the hopes of falling in with the other boat. We cheered at
intervals of a few minutes, and fired a gun, whereupon ensued a great
screaming, whistling, and flapping of wings amongst the waterfowl, but no
human voices were heard in reply.


When we had gone as far to the southward as I thought prudent I stood out
from the shore for about a mile so as to have a good peep in amongst the
mangrove bushes in the morning for the other boat, and having dropped our
anchor we laid down as we best could for the night; and, speculating upon
what explanation the native wise men would give to their fellows of the
unknown and novel sounds they had this night heard upon the coast, I soon
fell asleep.



March 4.

Early in the morning I had a good lookout kept for the other boat, which
I was very anxious to see in order that I might have a sufficiently
numerous party for the purpose of landing and looking for water; as I
always held it to be better, upon first appearing amongst natives who had
never before seen Europeans, to show such strength as might impress them
with a certainty that we were well able to resist any attack which they
might naturally feel inclined to make on such strange and
incomprehensible intruders as white men must necessarily appear to them.
Soon after the sun rose we descried the other boat about three miles to
the southward of us; and I despatched two men to wade along the flats and
communicate with Mr. Walker: they were to direct him to get under weigh
and to make the best of his course, either by tracking, pulling, or
sailing, until he reached the point where I might land.

The men whom I sent quickly made his boat, which I perceived moving
slowly up the flats; and as soon as the men rejoined me we started. The
wind was fair, being from the southward, and I wished to reach some
gently elevated hills which I saw about eight miles to the north by east
of our present position.


We soon came to a very promising opening which proved to be a creek, with
a mouth of about two hundred yards wide, running up in a north-east
direction, and having five fathoms of water inside, but with a bar
entrance. When we had proceeded up it about two miles it became so narrow
that there was not sufficient space left for the men to use their oars;
therefore, making fast the two boats, I landed with a party to look for

I stepped very gingerly and cautiously on the mud, for shore there was
none; and I had the satisfaction of descending at once, mid-leg deep in
the odious slime; but this being endured the worst was over, and, at the
head of my sticking and floundering party, I waded on, putting to flight
whole armies of crabs who had taken up their abode in these umbrageous
groves, for such they certainly were. The life of a crab in these
undisturbed solitudes must be sweet in the extreme; they have plenty of
water, mud, and shade; their abodes are scarcely approachable by the feet
of men, and they can have but little to disturb their monotonous
existence save the turmoils of love and domestic war.

After about two miles of wading of this description, which we
considerably increased by turning and winding about to avoid soft places,
we at length fairly stepped on terra firma and found ourselves at the
base of some almost imperceptibly-sloping ground which gradually rose
into low, red, sandy, loamy hills, thinly covered with grass, bushes, and
stunted trees. Across these we bent our steps in a south-east direction,
no change whatever taking place in the character of the country as far as
we went or as far as we could see. But our travels in this line only
extended for about three miles, when we suddenly came upon a lagoon of
fresh water lying between two of the hills. All bent the knee at once, at
this discovery, to plunge their faces deep in the pool, and, presently
raising them up again, a black watery line, extending round the
countenance, showed plainly how deeply each one had dipped.

Mr. Smith and myself laughed heartily at our dirty-faced companions, who
knelt on their hands and knees round the pool; and whilst they were
filling the beakers with water we rested under the shade of the bush for
a few minutes, and then walked off towards the interior; but from the
undulating low nature of the ground our view was very limited, and as far
as we could see there was no sign whatever of any change in the character
of the country. On returning again to the party we found the beakers and
men equally full of water and ready for a start to the boats.


When we reached again the mangrove flats a most amusing scene commenced;
wading through the mud was bad enough before, but now that each man had a
heavy keg of water upon his shoulders the movements became truly
ludicrous, more especially as both landsmen and sailors were equally out
of their element. Each desperate plunge elicited from the sufferers oaths
and expressions which only those who have seen sailors completely at a
nonplus on shore can conceive. They were half humorous, half pathetic,
and never did I see men more thoroughly woebegone and bedaubed with mud
than the party when we made the boats again.

Those whom I had left behind now greedily drank the water of which they
were so much in want, and, as it was necessary to complete our stock of
it here, after we had dined I despatched all hands but Mr. Smith and one
man back to the lagoon. Mr. Smith was too unwell to go again and I
remained with him. This party took their rations with them as they were
to remain by the lagoon all night in order, as they termed it, "to have a
good bouse out of water, and a good wash," and were to return to the
boats as soon after daylight as possible.

We had remarked tracks of natives on shore but, as I saw by their fires
that they were now at least eight or ten miles from us, I was under no
apprehension of an attack from them. The mosquitoes however threatened to
be very troublesome, and when I say that just about sunset we were
completely blackened from the numbers that covered us I do not in the
least exaggerate; we could not make a fire to keep them away, and I
therefore quietly resigned myself to my fate. Poor Smith, who was already
very feverish, passed a night of perfect torment, and awoke in the
morning seriously ill. We soon heard the voices of the party returning
and, having helped them and their loads of water out of the mud, we
returned down the creek.


March 5.

On standing out there was a fresh breeze blowing from the south-east, and
when we were about half a mile from the shore the water to the northward
deepened a great deal, for although it was now nearly low tide we had
here two and a half fathoms with sandy bottom. All along the shoals we
had met with abundance of shell and other fish, and the pearl oyster was
very abundant; indeed the shellfish along these banks were more numerous
and varied than I had ever before found them. I saw but few shells which
I recognised as belonging to the southern portions of Australia, whilst
many were identical with those which occur to the north-west.


There was no high land whatever in sight; but one low hill, which just
appeared above the mangrove tops, bore north by east. After running
north-east for about two miles with the same depth of water we came to
another opening in the mangroves of a more promising character than
several small ones which we had previously passed, and as, from the
greater depth of the water, the extraordinary low character of the coast,
and the circumstance of the driftwood upon Dorre Island, I expected to
find a large river hereabouts, I determined to examine even the smallest
openings most narrowly; we therefore ran straight for this one, and found
that it had a shoal mouth with only four feet water at the entrance. The
opening ran east 1/2 north, and after we had followed it up for about
half a mile it became very narrow and shoaled to two feet, so we turned
about and again pulled away to sea. This opening, as well as the first we
had entered, appeared rather like a canal running through a woody grove
than an arm of the sea; the mangrove trees afforded an agreeable shade,
and were of the most brilliant green, whilst the blue placid water not
only washed their roots but meandered through the sinuosities of the
forest like a quiet lake till sight of it was lost in the distance.

We now stood north-north-west parallel to the shore, which was fronted by
mangroves; and here we again had only two and a half feet of water. A
very low chain of hills extended parallel to the shore and about two
miles behind the mangroves. We thus continued running along the coast
until we made a large opening which was about three-quarters of a mile
across at the mouth. On either side of the entrance was a sandy point,
covered with pelicans and wild-fowl who seemed to view our approach with
no slight degree of surprise. As yet we did not know the proper entrance
to the river (for such it was) so that where we ran into it we had only
two feet of water. Three low hills were immediately in front of us, and I
afterwards ascertained that the proper course for entering was to steer
so as to keep the centre of the opening and the middle hill in the same


The opening now widened into a very fine reach, out of which the water
was running rapidly, and when we had ascended about a mile I saw large
trees, or snags (as they are called by the Americans) sticking up in the
bed of the river; as these trees were of a very large size, and evidently
had come from a different country to the one we saw upon the river banks,
I felt assured that we had now discovered a stream of magnitude, and, the
eager expectations which these thoughts awoke in our breasts rendering us
all impatient, we hauled down our sail and took to the oars. The bed of
the river however became choked with shallows and sandbanks, and when we
had ascended it about three miles, the water having shoaled to about six
inches, I selected a suitable place for our encampment and prepared to
start and explore the country on foot.


As soon as all had been made snug I moved up the river with three men.
Its banks were here about five feet high; the bed of white sand, and
about half a mile across; the centre of the channel was full of salt
water, and in breadth about a quarter of a mile. We had not proceeded
more than a few hundred yards when we unexpectedly came upon another
mouth of the river as large as that upon which we stood, and which ran
off nearly west. The river itself appeared to come from the north-east,
and we saw salt water still further up than where we were.


Just on the eastern bank of the stream was a clump of small trees and
reeds which I walked up to examine with a desire to recognise any trees
belonging to known species, but to my horror, on looking into the reeds,
I saw what appeared to be a huge alligator fast asleep. The men now
peeped at it and all agreed that it was an alligator. I therefore
retreated to a respectful and suitable distance and let fly at it with a
rifle; it gave, as we thought, a kind of shake, and then took no further
notice of us. I therefore took a double-barrelled gun from one of the men
and drove two balls through the beast, and now feeling sure it must be
dead (for it never moved) I walked up to it, when, upon examination, it
turned out to be a huge shark, of a totally new species, which had been
left in some hole by the tide where the natives had found and killed it,
and, being disturbed by our approach, had run away, first hiding it in
this clump of reeds. There were two natives and they had made off right
up the bed of the river, taking the precaution to step in one another's
tracks so as to conceal if possible their number.


To those who have never seen a river similar to the one we were now upon
it is difficult to convey a true idea of its character. It consisted of
several channels or beds divided from each other by long strips of land,
which, in times of flood, become islands; the main channel had an average
breadth of about two hundred and seventy yards; the average height of the
bank at the edge of it was about fifteen feet, and the bed of the river
was composed of porous red sand apparently incapable of containing water
unless when previously saturated with it. After passing the highest point
reached by the sea this huge river bed was perfectly dry, and looked the
most mournful, deserted spot imaginable. Occasionally we found in this
bare sandy channel waterholes of eighteen or twenty feet in depth,
surrounded with tea trees and vegetation, and the driftwood, washed high
up into these trees, sufficiently attested what rapid currents sometimes
swept along the now dry channel. Even the waterholes were nearly all
dried up, and in the bottom of these the natives had scooped their little

The river channel ran up in a due north-east direction for about four
miles without in the least altering its character. It was in vain that we
walked over the intervening slips of land into the side channels; these
in all respects except in being narrower exactly resembled the main one;
and, after ranging across from bank to bank in this way, the only general
conclusion I could arrive at was that the country upon the northern bank
of the river appeared scrubby and covered with samphire swamps, whilst
that upon its southern bank seemed rich and promising.


The river now made a sudden turn to the east by north, and we followed it
in this direction for three miles and a half without finding the
slightest change in its character or appearance. No high land whatever
was in sight, and from a low rounded hill, which was the highest point we
could see, the rise of the country towards the interior was scarcely
perceptible; indeed it presented the appearance of being a vast delta;
and such I then and subsequently conjectured it to be.

During our walk up the bed of the river we had seen many cockatoos, some
wildfowl, and numerous tracks of natives; these all appeared to me to be
indications of a well watered and fertile tract of country.

I now turned off west by south, quitting the bed of the river, which I
named the Gascoyne in compliment to my friend, Captain Gascoyne, and
found that we were in a very fertile district, being one of those
splendid exceptions to the general sterility of Australia which are only
occasionally met with: it apparently was one immense delta of alluvial
soil covered with gently sloping grassy rises, for they could scarcely be
called hills; and in the valleys between these lay many freshwater
lagoons which rested upon a red clay soil that tinged the water of its
own colour and gave it an earthy taste.

The country here was but very lightly timbered and well adapted for
either agricultural or pastoral purposes, but especially for the growth
of cotton and sugar, should the climate be sufficiently warm; and of this
I think there can be no doubt whatever. I was so won by the discovery of
this rich district that I wandered on unconscious of the fatigue of the
party, roaming from rising ground to rising ground, and hoping from each
eminence to gain a view of high land to the eastward, but on all sides I
could see nothing but the same low fertile country. I however felt
conscious that within a few years of the moment at which I stood there a
British population, rich in civilization and the means of transforming an
unoccupied country to one teeming with inhabitants and produce, would
have followed my steps and be eagerly and anxiously examining my charts;
and this reflection imparted a high degree of interest and importance to
our present position and operations.


The darkness of night was now closing round us and Kaiber the native,
with his long thin legs, put himself at the head of the party and, taking
a star for his guide, led us with rapid and lengthy paces across the
plains to the encampment, where we found the party anxiously waiting to
hear what success we had met with. Poor Mr. Smith was very unwell tonight
with a feverish attack. Mr. Walker had prescribed for him and ordered him
to be kept quiet. I got a meridian altitude of Procyon which put us in 24
degrees 56 minutes 57 seconds south latitude.

March 6.

Mr. Smith was if anything worse this morning, and I learned from some of
the men that he had been wandering about all night, and had bathed
several times in the river. I remonstrated with him about having done so,
but he excused himself, and I determined to remain stationary at this
point for a day or two to give him plenty of rest before we again started
on our cruise along the coast.


After the discovery of the Gascoyne the plan I made up my mind to follow
was to examine rapidly the coast as far as Cape Cuvier, to return from
that point to Bernier Island and refit; then once more to visit the
Gascoyne properly equipped, and thoroughly explore the adjacent district
to the distance of fifty or sixty miles inland; and lastly to examine the
unknown portion of Shark Bay which lay to the southward of us.

At 6 A.M. the thermometer stood at 76 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade,
and this and the temperature during our stay in Shark Bay proves that the
climate there is very warm. Before breakfast I had wells sunk in several
places at some little distance inland in order to ascertain the nature of
the subsoil, for we were abundantly supplied with water from the lagoons.
In every instance, after digging down to the depth of from six to seven
feet through a rich loam, we reached a regular sandy sea beach and salt
water (it must however be recollected that we dug in the deepest hollows)
so that it appeared as if the whole of this flat country was a formation
left upon the shoals with which the coast is bounded; and it almost
seemed as if the sea still flowed in upon its old bed and under this
recent freshwater deposit.

Directly after breakfast I got ferried across the river to the island
lying between its two mouths, which I called Babbage Island after C.
Babbage, Esquire. This island is low and sandy in all parts except where
it fronts the sea; but on that side a row of high sandy dunes have been
thrown up. There is no very good land on it, it being almost covered with
samphire swamps and intersected by deep channels into which the sea runs;
these are nearly concealed in some places by the vegetation, which
rendered it impossible to avoid sundry falls and wettings in crossing it.
It bears a few mangroves but I saw no other trees.

The men throughout the day were occupied in watering and in making canvas
cloths for my boats to prevent the water from pouring in over the
gunwales, which were very low; and my own time was sufficiently occupied
in surveying. On my return in the evening I found Mr. Smith so much wore
cheerful and so much better that I determined to start about noon the
next day for the northward.


March 7.

I went off with a party before dawn to explore the country to the
northward of the Gascoyne. We crossed the river just above the point
where it separates into two mouths, and then struck off in a north by
east direction. Travelling about a mile after we had crossed the river we
came to seven native huts, built of large-sized logs, much higher and
altogether of a very superior description to those made by the natives on
the south-western coast. Kaiber examined them very carefully and then
proposed that we should go no farther, as he thought that the natives
must be very large men from their having such large huts. We however
pushed forward and, as I had none but good walkers with me, we made about
nine miles in two hours and a half: throughout the whole of this distance
we saw nothing that could be called a hill, the whole country being
evidently at times flooded up to the foot of a gently-rising land which
we distinguished to the eastward. We did not notice a single tree but
plenty of low prickly bushes, samphire, and a small plant somewhat
resembling the English heath. The weather was very hot, and at the end of
the nine miles we reached a saltwater inlet so broad and deep that we
could not cross it. We here halted and rested a little and then made our
way back to the boats.


I found Mr. Smith much better and, there being now nothing to delay us,
we started. When we had got about half a mile down the river we saw two
natives following us along the shore, jumping about in the most
extraordinary way, and, from their gesticulations and manner, evidently
ordering us to quit the coast. From the mountebank actions of these
fellows I guessed that they were two of the native sorcerers, who were
charming us away but, as I was not disposed to be so easily got rid of,
we pulled near the shore and lay upon our oars to give them an
opportunity of coming up to us.


Upon this they mounted a little eminence, blew most furiously at us, and
performed other equally efficacious ceremonies. I however felt just as
well after we had been subjected to this dire sorcery as I did before;
and we continued to pull gently along the shore, still trying to induce
them to approach, which they at last did, having nothing but a
fishing-spear in their hands. To entice them towards us I had made Kaiber
strip himself and stand up in the boat; and now that they were near
enough to us I told him to call out to them and say that we were friends.
He hereupon shouted out, "Come in, come in; Mr. Grey sulky yu-a-da;" by
which he intended to say, "Come here, come here; Mr. Grey is not angry
with you." The two sorcerers, utterly confused by this mode of address,
committed more overt acts of witchcraft towards us than they had even
hitherto done; and Kaiber, turning round to me, said, "Weak ears have
they and wooden foreheads; they do not understand the southern language."
But as I was dissatisfied with his proof of their knowledge of the
southern language I desired him to wade ashore and speak to them.


This order of mine was a perfect thunderbolt to Kaiber. He, in common
with all the aboriginal inhabitants of Australia, had an utter aversion
to all strange natives; and to this he joined a sort of religious horror
of witches, buck-witches, warlocks, and uncanny persons generally. King
James the First could never have found a more zealous and participating
partner of his fears than Kaiber; he gave me a blank look of horror and
assured me that these were actual sorcerers, "northern sorcerers;" and as
he repeated these last words there was a mysterious, deep meaning in his
tone, as if he expected to see me thrill with terror.

From his earliest infancy he had been accustomed to dread these men;
every storm that occurred he had been taught to consider as arising from
their incantations: if one of his friends or relatives died a natural
death he had attributed that death to the spells and unholy practices of
these very people with whom he was now directed to go and hold converse.
I thought of all this and pitied him; for even for a native he was
excessively superstitious. But I was extremely anxious to establish
friendly relations with them; therefore I was positive and repeated to
him my former directions that he should wade ashore, coax them up, and
speak to them.

In as far as a native can turn white from fear Kaiber did turn white, and
then stepping into the water he waded ashore and the two natives
cautiously approached him. As soon as they were close to him I joined the
party with a large piece of damper in one hand and a piece of pork in the
other. The natives were dreadfully frightened; they stood in the presence
of unknown and mysterious beings. No persuasions could induce them to
take my hand or to touch me; and they trembled from head to foot.


For a time they were nearly unintelligible to Kaiber and myself, but as
they gained confidence I found that they spoke a dialect very closely
resembling that of the natives to the north of the Swan River. They
addressed many questions to us, such as, Whence we had come? where we
were going to? was the boat a dead tree? but they evaded giving any
direct answers to our questions. Being anxious to start I now left them
to bear to their companions the strange food I had bestowed, and to
recount to eager listeners the mysterious tale of their interview with
beings from another world, and who were of an unknown form and colour.


Whilst they hurried off with some such thoughts passing through their
minds we pulled down the Gascoyne in search of new lands and new


The result of this conference affords an example of the grounds upon
which any similarity of the language in different portions of the
continent of Australia has been denied. In this instance, had I at first
taken the word of Kaiber for it, I should have left the Gascoyne with a
firm conviction that the natives of that part of Australia spoke a
radically different language from the natives near the Swan River; and
this would have been proved by the fact of a native from the south not
understanding them: whereas there is a great affinity between the two
dialects, to discover which requires however an acquaintance with the
general principles of language, some knowledge of the one in question,
and due patience. I can only say that wherever I have been in the
southern portions of the continent I could soon understand the natives.



March 7.

When we got outside the mouth of the Gascoyne a fresh breeze was blowing
from the south-east. We ran along the shore west by north, keeping about
a quarter of a mile from it; and after having made about three miles and
a half we reached the southern extremity of the other mouth of the river.
The mean depth in our course along Babbage Island had been from two and a
half fathoms to three fathoms; and this opening had a bar which we then
conceived to run right across the mouth of the river. The northern
extremity of Babbage Island is a very remarkable low point of land which
I called Mangrove Point. It cannot fail to be recognised for it is the
first point from the northward along the eastern shores of Shark Bay
where mangroves are found, and from that point they extend almost
uninterruptedly down the eastern coast of this bay to the south, as far
as I have seen it.


The coast now trended north by west and we continued to run along it.
After passing Mangrove Point the sandy dunes along the shore ceased, and
the land appeared to be scarcely elevated above the level of the sea: not
a hill or tree could be perceived, and a low black line almost level with
the water's edge was the only indication that we had of being near land.


This kind of shore continues for about nine miles, when low sandhills
begin to rise parallel to the coast, and these gradually increase in
altitude until they form that remarkable range of dunes which I have
called Lyell's Range. When it wanted about an hour to sunset we had made
about twenty-five miles, and then ran in closer along the coast to look
either for a boat harbour or some spot at which we could beach them. But
nothing suited to our purpose could we see: the coast was straight,
sandy, exposed and lashed by a tremendous surf; the wind now freshened
considerably and the sky looked very threatening; we had therefore no
resource left but either to run to the northward before the breeze or to
beach the boats. I chose the first alternative; and we coasted within
about a quarter of a mile of the shore, just outside the surf, looking
out for any spot which gave us the least hope of beaching in safety.


As the sun sank so freshened the breeze, until it blew a good half gale
of wind, and everything gave indications of approaching foul weather.
This was no coast to be on during a stormy night in heavily laden
whale-boats; and as it now began to grow dark I determined at all hazards
to beach rather than be driven out to sea in a gale of wind. I
accordingly ran my boat in through the surf, leaving the other one
outside to see what success we had before they made the attempt.


The surf was very heavy but the men behaved steadily and well; and
through it we went, dancing along like a cork in a mill-pond; at last one
huge roller caught us, all hands gave way, and we were hurried along on
the top of the swelling billow, which then suddenly fell under us and
broke; in a moment after we had grounded, and although still upwards of
two hundred yards from the shore, we all jumped out to haul the boat up,
but ere we could move our heavily laden whaler beyond a few yards breaker
after breaker came tumbling in and completely swamped it. We continued to
haul away and presently found ourselves swimming. In fact the whole coast
hereabouts was fronted by a kind of bar of sand, distant about two
hundred yards from the shore, with not more than two feet water on it.
Between this and the shore the water was tolerably smooth and two fathoms
deep. It was upon this outer bar that we had struck, and the other boat
experienced the same fate as ourselves. We of course passed a miserable
night in our drenched and wretched state; but it was at all events some
comfort, when we heard during the night the boisterous wind blowing
outside, to feel that we were safe ashore.


March 8.

As soon as we had sufficient light for the purpose I proceeded to examine
the stores. The flour was not very good at starting; it had been packed
in small bags, that being the most convenient form to have it in both for
stowing and transporting it on men's shoulders; and in the hurricane
which we had experienced on Dorre Island this flour had got thoroughly
soaked: from that period to the present time it had been constantly wet
with salt water; last night's adventures completed its disasters and it
was now quite spoilt and an unwholesome article of food; but having
nothing else to eat we were forced to satisfy ourselves with it, and I
directed it to be dried in the sun and then carefully repacked. The wind
was from the south-south-west, about half a gale, and there was such a
tremendous surf on the shore that to launch the boats was impossible. I
therefore started to look for water and to explore the country.


The point we had landed at was immediately at the base of some bare
sandhills, about four hundred feet high. These are the hills which are
visible from the high land of Dorre Island on the opposite side of the
bay: it struck me that from their great height and their porous nature
there was a probability of our finding water by digging, even in this
apparently sandy desert; I therefore selected a spot at the foot of the
highest hill, in the bare sand, and ordered a well to be opened. Our
efforts were crowned with success; the well had not been sunk more than
four or five feet when we came to a coarse gravelly sand, saturated with
water, which was perfectly sweet and good; and when the well was sunk
about two or three feet deeper the water poured in so fast that there
would have been no difficulty in watering a ship at this point.


Whilst the men were engaged in filling the water kegs I ascended the
highest sandhill, the summit of which was not distant more than a mile
from the well. When I gained this a most splendid sight burst upon my
view: to the westward stretched the boundless sea, lashed by the wind
into white and curling waves; whilst to the east of me lay a clear calm
unruffled lake, studded with little islands. To the north or north-east I
could, even with a good telescope, see no limits to this lake, and, with
the exception of the numerous beautiful islands with which it was
studded, I could, even from the commanding position which I occupied,
distinguish nothing like rising land anywhere between north by east and
south-east. The lake had a glassy and fairy-like appearance, and I sat
down alone on the lofty eminence to contemplate this great water which
the eye of European now for the first time rested on. I looked seaward,
and it appeared as if nature had heaped up the narrow and lofty sandy
barrier on which I stood to shut out from the eyes of man the lovely and
fairy-like land which lay beyond it.

At length I rose and returned to the party. The news of my discovery
filled all with hope; and, our miserable breakfast having been hurriedly
despatched, I selected three men to accompany me in my first examination
of the shores of this inland sea. When we had gained the top of the
sandhills the surprise of these men was as great as my own, and they
begged me to allow them to return and endeavour by the united efforts of
the party to carry one of the whale-boats over the intervening range, and
at once to launch it on this body of water.

I however deemed it more prudent in the first instance to select the best
route along which to move the whale-boat, as well as to choose a spot
which afforded facilities for launching it. In pursuance of this
determination we descended the eastern side of the sandhills which
abruptly fell in that direction with a slope certainly not much exceeding
an angle of 45 degrees. I now found that the water did not approach so
near the foot of the hills as I had imagined, but that immediately at
their base lay extensive plains of mud and sand, at times evidently
flooded by the sea; for on them lay dead shells of many kinds and sizes,
as well as large travelled blocks of coral. The water here appeared to be
about a mile distant; it was also apparently boundless in an east and
north-east direction: and was studded with islands.


We still all felt convinced that it was water we saw, for the shadows of
the low hills near it, as well as those of the trees upon them, could be
distinctly traced on the unruffled surface. As we continued to advance,
the water however constantly retreated before us and at last surrounded
us. I now found that we had been deceived by mirage; the apparent islands
being really such only when these plains are covered by the sea. In many
places the sandy mud was so moist that we sank deeply into it, and after
travelling for fifteen miles on a north-east course I could still see no
limit to these plains in that direction, nor could I either then or on
any subsequent occasion find the channel which connected them with the
sea. The only mode of accounting for their being flooded is to suppose
that the sea at times pours in over the low land which lies to the north
of the Gascoyne, and flows northward through channels which will be seen
in the chart of this part of the country; but I then believed, and still
consider, that there is hereabouts a communication with some large
internal water.

We saw no tracks of natives and only a few of emus and native dogs. The
few portions of rising ground which lay near the edge of these extensive
plains were sandy, scrubby, and unpromising; but what we saw was so
little that no opinion of the country could fairly be deduced from it. We
dug in several places on the flats and in their vicinity but all the
water we could find was salt; whereas in the narrow range of sandhills
separating them from the sea we had discovered abundance of fresh water
only four or five feet below the surface of the valleys lying between
these hills. As this range of more than thirty miles in length offered
many geological phenomena I called it Lyell's Range in compliment to the
distinguished geologist of that name; the plains themselves I named the
Plains of Kolaina (Deceit).


On my return to the boats I found that Mr. Smith was still unwell;
several other men were also complaining; I myself was wearied from
exertion and disappointment that my great discovery had dwindled away:
the place where we were was infested by land-crabs who kept running over
us continually, and the sand which drifted before the wind got into the
pores of the skin, and kept most of us in a constant state of painful
irritation. The night was therefore not a pleasant one.

March 9.

Throughout the night the winds had howled loudly and the surf broke
hoarsely upon the shore. The grey dawn of morning brought no comfort with
it: far out to seaward nothing but broken water could be seen, and half a
gale of wind blew from the south by east. The bad and insufficient food I
had been compelled to eat had brought on violent sickness and other evil
effects, and I found myself very ill. As the daylight advanced report
after report came to me that some one of the party had been attacked by
the same diseases experienced by Mr. Smith and myself.


I was only well enough to write and survey a little, but I sent off a
party to a point which lay about six miles to the north of us, and they
on their return reported that there was a continuation of a similar shore
for the next fourteen or fifteen miles, bordered in like manner by sandy
muddy plains similar to those behind the hills where we were.

This party found one of the yellow and black water-snakes asleep upon a
piece of dry seaweed on the beach and killed it. The fact of this animal
being found on shore proves its amphibious character. I saw them in one
instance, in December 1837, so far out at sea as to be distant 150 miles
from land.

Sunday March 10.

I spent a wretched night from illness and foul weather; the roaring of
the surf on the shore was so loud and incessant that to one feverish and
in want of quiet and rest it was a positive distress, and both Mr. Smith,
myself, and half the men were at this time seriously indisposed. We had
strong gales of wind all day from south by east, but in the afternoon I
walked out for five miles in an east-south-east direction with such of
the men as were able to move; nothing however could be seen but a
continuation of the same barren, treeless country; we observed no signs
of natives except tracks in the mud of a single man who had passed some
months ago.

It annoyed me now to find that the silvering of the glasses of my large
sextant was so much injured from the constant wettings it had experienced
that this day it was almost useless. I had hoped in the course of our
walk to have fallen in with some game, but we did not see a single bird
with the exception of some small ones, about the size of tomtits, which
flew from bush to bush along the sandhills.


We had a small quantity of portable soup with us, nearly all of which we
used, and it in some degree restored us, but another miserable night was
passed by us all and in the morning I was grieved to see how ill many of
the men looked. Their situation was really deplorable and I had with me
neither medicines nor proper food to give them. Abundance of these lay at
our depot not more than forty miles from us, yet to reach it was
impossible; and dawn this morning had only revealed to us a heavier surf
and stronger gale from the southward than we had yet experienced. None of
the men were well enough to undergo the fatigue of another day's walking,
so I busied myself with making observations and taking bearings, and thus
the forenoon wore away. The point of the coast on which we were lay in 24
degrees 30 minutes south latitude, and the mean temperature up to this
period had been:

6 A.M. 76.
12 M. 83.
3 P.M. 87.
6 P.M. 78 degrees.

At noon a portion of some disgusting damper and a small piece of pork was
served out to each of us and, having soon disposed of this, the men lay
down under the side of the boats, seeking some shelter from the burning
rays of a tropical sun which, being reflected back from the white sand,
were very oppressive.


I was occupied in sketching in a portion of the coastline, and whilst
thus engaged I thought I saw the figures of two natives moving upon a
hill a few hundred yards to the north of us; they appeared to me to be
behind some low bushes which were close to the summit of this hill. I
watched the bushes narrowly and felt nearly confident I saw them; but
however to be sure beyond a doubt I got up and took my eyes from the spot
for a few seconds whilst I walked to get my telescope. I then carefully
examined the hill with the glass and could see nothing but the low bushes
on it. "A pretty bushman I am," I thought to myself, "to be thus deceived
with two old shrubs; I should have known a native better;" and with a
feeling almost of annoyance at my mistake I resumed my seat on an
inverted water-keg and went on with my drawing. Within a minute's time an
alarm of natives was given, and starting up I saw from twenty to thirty
on some sandhills to the north of us, distant about two hundred yards;
their spears were fixed in their throwing-sticks and they evidently were
prepared for a fray. I therefore ran to the boat for my gun, which Ruston
tried to get out for me; and at this moment, on casting my eyes upwards,
I saw a native start up on the sandbank not more than fifteen yards from
Ruston and myself; he poised his spear for one second, and it then came
whistling at us. I dodged and the spear flew past without my seeing what
became of it. I instantly gave the order to watch the bank and to fire at
anything that showed itself above it; and Mr. Walker now had got hold of
his gun and very gallantly ran up the bank and occupied it: in the
meantime the native who had thrown the spear caught up a bag in each hand
and ran off. Several shots which were fired at the distant natives
scraped up the sand so near them that they found it prudent to decamp as
speedily as they could.


I found that Ruston was wounded slightly in the knee by the spear which
the native had thrown, and we had also sustained a severe loss in the
bags which they had carried off as one of them contained fourteen
fishing-lines and several other articles of great value to us in our
present position. I therefore determined upon a pursuit in the hopes of
recovering these, and taking four or five men I gave chase. The
long-legged natives had however considerably the advantage of us both in
bottom, wind, and cunning; and whenever they found we gained at all upon
them they strewed a few articles out of the bags upon the ground, and
these it took us some time to collect; and in this manner, alternately
running and stopping to pick things up, I continued the pursuit until
near sunset. At this time three of us had completely outrun the rest of
our party, who were far behind; the natives had also latterly made great
headway, so that they were rapidly dropping us astern; we also had
recovered everything but the fishing-lines (which however we could but
ill spare). I therefore determined to collect my forces and return to the
boats. In the ardour of pursuit I found we had come five or six miles,
and it had been for some time dark when we again reached the encampment.

The natives in this attack were far too few in number to render it a very
formidable affair for from five-and-twenty to thirty savages, armed alone
with spears, could have availed very little against eleven resolute
Europeans with fire-arms in their hands. The native who had stolen so
near us was however most decidedly a noble and daring fellow: their
object evidently was to possess themselves of our property; and we had
had one man wounded in the fray, and had lost some fishing-lines, without
gaining any reparation. I therefore felt well assured that they would pay
us another visit; and thus, to the misfortunes we were already suffering
under, we had the new one added of being on hostile terms with the
surrounding aborigines. It moreover set in to rain hard and to blow
fresher than ever just as we reached the boats. I saw that all that could
be done for Ruston had been attended to, and then, lying down, tried to
forget my troubles in sleep.


From this period up to Friday the 15th of March the wind blew strong from
the southward, accompanied with such a heavy sea and tremendous surf that
to move was impossible. Our position was very trying; inactivity, under
the circumstances in which we were situated, was most difficult to
support; for the mind, ever prone to prey upon itself, does so far more
when you are compelled to sit down and patiently submit to misfortunes
against which there are no means of resistance. Such was the state to
which we were now reduced, on a barren and unknown coast which the foot
of civilized man had never before trodden: many of my party were
suffering acute bodily pain from the badness of the provisions on which
they were compelled to subsist; the weakness of most of them, and myself
amongst the number, precluded the possibility of any distant explorations
being made, and we were kept in a constant state of watchfulness in order
to prevent the natives from again surprising us; for they repeatedly
showed themselves in our vicinity, hovering about with no friendly
intentions. All that was left therefore for us was to sit upon the lonely
beach, watching the winds and the waters until some favourable moment
might enable us to get off and once more engage in that task of which so
small a portion was as yet accomplished.

Day after day did we sit and wait for this favourable moment until the
noise of the hoarse breaking surf had become a familiar sound to our
ears; but the longer the men watched the more dispirited did they become;
each returning day found them more weak and wan, more gloomy and
petulant, than the preceding one; and when the eighth day of constant and
fruitless expectation slowly closed upon us I felt a gloomy foreboding
creeping over me.

By making observations, drawing, writing up my journal, etc. I had
managed hitherto to keep my mind employed. I had also tasked my ability
to the utmost to constantly invent some occupation for the men, but my
resources of this nature were now all exhausted; and on Friday night I
stretched myself on the sand, not to sleep, but to brood, throughout the
weary night, on our present position.


It may be asked if, during such a trying period, I did not seek from
religion that consolation which it is sure to afford? My answer is, Yes;
and I farther feel assured that, but for the support I derived from
prayer and frequent perusal and meditation of the Scriptures, I should
never have been able to have borne myself in such a manner as to have
maintained discipline and confidence amongst the rest of the party: nor
in all my sufferings did I ever lose the consolation derived from a firm
reliance upon the goodness of Providence. It is only those who go forth
into perils and dangers, amidst which human foresight and strength can
but little avail, and who find themselves, day after day, protected by an
unseen influence, and ever and again snatched from the very jaws of
destruction by a power which is not of this world, who can at all
estimate the knowledge of one's own weakness and littleness, and the firm
reliance and trust upon the goodness of the Creator which the human
breast is capable of feeling. Like all other lessons which are of great
and lasting benefit to man this one must be learnt amid much sorrowing
and woe; but, having learnt it, it is but the sweeter from the pain and
toil which are undergone in the acquisition.


March 16.

A great portion of Friday night was passed by me in walking up and down
the beach, anxiously looking out seaward; and it appeared to me about
three o'clock that the wind had much abated; from this period until dawn
it continued gradually to subside: and as daylight stole in I saw that
the surf had somewhat fallen. I resolved at all events to lose no single
chance that offered itself in our favour, so I turned all hands out, and
in a few minutes the boats rode triumphantly beyond the surf, which was
indeed much heavier than I expected to have found it, and my boat was
nearly filled in passing the outer bar: but now the surf was behind us,
and it is the nature of man to laugh at perils that are past. Our
thoughts too were soon called to present difficulties, for a tremendous
sea was running outside, the wind directly in our teeth, and every moment
freshening again. Throughout the whole of Saturday the men toiled
incessantly at their oars, and when it wanted about an hour to sunset we
had only made about seven miles and a half of southing.


The wind had again increased to such a degree as to endanger our safety,
and it appeared to freshen as the night came on. I therefore had no
resource left but again to beach the boats on this dangerous coast. Once
more, then, was the scene repeated of dancing in a boat with maddening
speed upon furious rollers, until these break and it is borne in,
followed by a mass of foam far higher than the stern, which appears
eagerly to pursue for the purpose of engulfing it.


There is no scene in nature more exciting or which in a greater degree
calls forth one's energy than the beaching of a boat in a dangerous surf.
Never did I on such occasions take the steer-oar for the purpose of
running the boat in but many contending feelings rushed through my mind,
and after a few moments settled down into the calm which springs from the
conviction that the general safety in coming dangers depends altogether
upon the coolness and resolution with which they are met, and never more
so than in beaching a boat when once you are among the foaming waters; in
you must go; to retreat is impossible, and nothing is left but that each
one silently and steadily do his duty, regardless of the strife and din
of raging waves around. The only plan to adopt is for all to give way
strongly and steadily, let what will take place, whilst the boat-steerer
keeps her head straight for the beach. A huge roller breaks right into
the boat and almost swamps it, a man is knocked over and loses his oar,
heed not these things; let each man mind his own oar and nought else, and
give way give way strongly, until the boat grounds, then in a moment each
quits his oar and springs into the water, and ere the wave has retired
the boat is partially run up; another wave succeeds, and the operation of
running up is repeated until she is high and dry. Had our boats been
swamped in the surf, even if we had escaped with our lives, our position
would have been fearful; left without food or resources in an unknown and
savage country so far beyond the reach of man's assistance. When
therefore I again saw the boats safely beached, and my little party
drying themselves over a fire, my breast filled with thankfulness to that
Providence who had again watched over our safety.


Sunday March 17.

It blew half a gale of wind from the southward all night, and next
morning such a surf was breaking upon the beach that to have attempted to
move would have been madness. Here we were therefore once more kept
prisoners upon this dreary coast; the country was exactly similar to that
lying immediately to the north of it, with these two exceptions, that the
range of sandhills was less elevated, and that we could not here find
fresh water. The morning was passed in searching for it; in the middle of
the day I read a few appropriate chapters in the Bible to the men, and in
the afternoon I explored the country but discovered nothing whatever of
an interesting nature.


March 18.

The wind was much lighter this morning and the surf not so heavy; we made
a successful attempt to launch the boats just before sunrise. The wind
still blew from the southward, and we found a heavy sea running outside.
The men however exerted all their energies and just before sunset we
reached the northern mouth of the Gascoyne, and found a very good passage
into it with twelve feet water at low ebb-tide; but the other boat, not
following our track, stuck fast on a sandbank, where she was soon left
high and dry, and the tide fell so fast that we had a great deal of
trouble in getting her afloat again.


The bar once passed there are three and three and a half fathoms in this
land-locked creek even at low water; the portion of Babbage Island which
is between it and the sea appears to be nothing but a shifting bed of
sand, and the mainland a delta, covered with mangrove swamps and brackish
lagoons, at least for about a mile back.* We lay down upon the sand close
to the boats, which were left at anchor with a boat-keeper in each, and
found great difficulty in collecting driftwood enough to make our fires.

(*Footnote. In the year 1667 the Dutch Commodore Vlaming appears to have
visited these coasts and to have ascended a river which might have been
the Gascoyne. The account of his exploration is thus briefly given by
Flinders (Terra Australis volume 1 Introduction page 61) After relating
the arrival of his two ships off Cape Inscription at the north end of
Dirk Hartog's Island he proceeds:

No mention is made by Valentyn of the ships entering the road, nor of
their departure from it; but it should seem that they anchored on
February 4th. On the 5th Commodore Vlaming and the commander of the
Nyptang went with three boats to the shore, which proved to be an island.
They found also a river, and went up it four or five leagues, amongst
rocks and shoals, when they saw much water inland, as if the country were
drowned, but no men, nor anything for food, and wherever they dug the
ground was salt. They afterwards came to another river, which they
ascended about a league, and found it to terminate in a round basin, and
to be entirely salt water. No men were seen, nor any animals, except
divers, which were very shy; and the country was destitute of grass and
trees. Returning downward on the 10th, they saw footsteps of men and
children of the common size, and observed the point of entrance into the
river to be a very red sand.)

March 19.

The wind still blew pretty fresh from the southward; we however had no
surf to impede us and therefore got under weigh soon after dawn. The men
pulled away cheerfully and, although this was very hard work on account
of the headwind and sea, we experienced no great difficulty until we had
rounded Point Whitmore, at the north of Babbage Island, where we all at
once found ourselves in broken water, so very shoal that between each
breaker the boat was bumped with great violence against the bottom, and
must have been very soon stove in had we not speedily got into deeper


About 2 P.M. we neared the southern mouth of the Gascoyne, pulled two
miles up it, and anchored about a mile and a half to the south of our
former position. The men, although it was very warm and they had been
pulling hard all day, had as yet only had about a wine-glass full of
water each, I therefore lost no time in sending off a watering party; and
the remainder of us collected samphire which grew abundantly hereabouts
and forms a fair article of food for hungry men.

The remainder of the evening was occupied in completing our water and in
endeavouring to get a shot at some pelicans, but although numerous they
were too wary, and my feet were covered with such dreadful sores from bad
diet and being constantly in the salt water that I could not walk to any
great distance in search of game.


The completion of our supply of water was a very great matter and, as we
had now got so far to the southward as to make our fetching the northern
extremity of Bernier Island almost a matter of certainty, however
strongly it might blow, I determined to effect the passage the next day.
Indeed I could not have delayed it for our provisions, bad as they were,
were almost exhausted, and the men were already much reduced from the
scarcity and bad quality of their food.



March 20.

When we pulled out of the Gascoyne this morning the first streak of dawn
had not lit up the eastern horizon, we however managed by creeping along
the southern shore to get out to sea, and there anchored until it was
light enough to see the compass. I found a very heavy sea running outside
and a strong breeze blowing from the southward; at this time however
there was nothing which in my opinion rendered it too hazardous to risk
the passage, more especially being pressed as we were by the want of
food. The distance across to Bernier Island from the point of the main
where we were was about ten miles further than it is from Dover to
Calais. Our boats were in very bad repair, and the landing on the other
side was by no means good. I therefore certainly would not have ventured
to make the passage in a gale of wind; but the weather did not seem
threatening and it had been for many successive days blowing as hard as
it was when we started.


We might have gone nine or ten miles when the wind suddenly increased,
and ere we had made five more it had become a perfect gale and we were
obliged to keep the boats close hauled, for had we run ever so little
before the wind we should not have fetched Bernier Island, and
consequently should have been blown right out to sea. We had nothing
therefore now to do but to struggle for it, and to use every energy to
save ourselves. Sea after sea broke into the boat but the water was as
rapidly baled out: none could have behaved better than the crews of both
boats did, and the whole scene was one of such constant, cheerful, and
successful exertion that, great as our danger was, I do not recollect
ever having a keener perception of the pleasure of excited feelings, or a
more thorough revelry of joyous emotions, than I had during this perilous


Bernier Island at last rose in sight and amidst the giant waves we
occasionally caught a peep of its rocky shores; but we were so tossed to
and fro that it was only now and then that from the summit of some
lofty sea we could sight a high shore which was not more than four or
five miles from us. We had made the island about five miles from its
northern extremity, and I ran along the shore until I found a convenient
landing-place about a mile and a half to the south of our old one.


It was perfectly sheltered by reefs and an island, but it surprised me
that I had not remarked this cove on my previous visit to the island, and
I was still further astonished to see now three new small rocky islands,
of which I had no recollection whatever. Indeed the men all for a long
time stoutly denied that this was Bernier Island and, had we not now
sighted Kok's Island, I should have doubted my skill in navigation and
made up my mind that I had fallen into some strange error; but as it was
forebodings shot across my wind as to what pranks the hurricane might
have been playing upon the island, which consisted of nothing but loose
sand heaped upon a bed of limestone rock of very unequal elevation.

I ran in my own boat upon a convenient point of the beach and the other
boat followed in safety, for I did not like, in such foul weather, to
leave them at anchor on a lee shore, which had previously proved so
unsafe a position. A most awkward question now presented itself to my
consideration: from the altered appearance of the coast I felt very
considerable doubts as to the state in which the depot might be found;
supposing anything had occurred to it I felt that it would be unadvisable
that such a discovery should be made in the presence of many persons; as
future discipline would in a great measure depend upon the first
impression that was given. Who, then, had I better select for the purpose
of visiting the depot in the first instance? After some deliberation I
made choice of Mr. Smith and Corporal Coles, in the courage,
disinterestedness, and self-possession of both of whom I placed great
confidence. I directed Mr. Walker to see certain little alterations made
in the boats before the men were allowed to straggle; these I knew would
occupy them for some time and leave me therefore during this interval
free to think and act according to circumstances. I now called Mr. Smith
and Corporal Coles to accompany me, and told Coles to bring a spade with


Before we had gone very far alarming symptoms met my eyes in the form of
staves of flour casks scattered about amongst the rocks, and even high up
on the sandhills. Coles however persisted that these wore so far inland
that they could only have come from the flour casks which we had emptied
before starting. I knew they were far too numerous for such to be the
case, but I suppressed my opinion and made no remarks. We next came to a
cask of salt provisions, washed high and dry at least twenty feet above
the usual high-water mark: the sea had evidently not been near this for a
long period as it was half covered with drift sand which must have taken
some time to accumulate. This Coles easily accounted for, it was merely
the cask which had been lost from the wreck of the Paul Pry. I still
thought otherwise but said nothing.

At length we reached the spot where the depot had been made: so changed
was it that both Mr. Smith and Coles persisted it was not the place; but
on going to the shore there were some very remarkable rocks, on the top
of which lay a flour cask more than half empty, with the head knocked
out, but not otherwise injured; this also was washed up at least twenty
feet of perpendicular elevation beyond high water mark. The dreadful
certainty now flashed upon the minds of Mr. Smith and Coles, and I waited
to see what effect it would have upon them. Coles did not bear the
surprise so well as I had expected; he dashed the spade upon the ground
with almost ferocious violence, and looking up to me he said, "All lost,
Sir! we are all lost, Sir!" Mr. Smith stood utterly calm and unmoved; I
had not calculated wrongly upon his courage and firmness. His answer to
Coles was, "Nonsense, Coles, we shall do very well yet; why, there is a
cask of salt provisions and half a cask of flour still left."

I now rallied Coles upon his conduct; compared it with that of Mr. Smith,
and told him that when I had taken him on to the depot in preference to
the other men it had been in the expectation that, if any disaster had
happened, he would, by his coolness and courage, have given such an
example as would have exercised a salutary influence upon the others.
This had the desired effect upon him; he became perfectly cool and
collected and promised to make light of the misfortune to the rest, and
to observe the strictest discipline. I then requested Mr. Smith to see
the little flour that was left in the barrel and on the rocks carefully
collected by Coles, and, leaving them thus engaged, I turned back along
the sea shore towards the party; glad of the opportunity of being alone
as I could now commune freely with my own thoughts.


The safety of the whole party now depended upon my forming a prompt and
efficient plan of operations, and seeing it carried out with energy and
perseverance. As soon as I was out of sight of Mr. Smith and Coles I sat
down upon a rock on the shore to reflect upon our present position. The
view seawards was discouraging; the gale blew fiercely in my face and the
spray of the breakers was dashed over me; nothing could be more gloomy
and drear. I turned inland and could see only a bed of rock, covered with
drifting sand, on which grew a stunted vegetation, and former experience
had taught me that we could not hope to find water in this island; our
position here was therefore untenable, and but three plans presented
themselves to me: first, to leave a notice of my intentions on the
island, then to make for some known point on the main and there endeavour
to subsist ourselves until we should be found and taken off by the
Colonial schooner; secondly, to start for Timor or Port Essington;
thirdly, to try to make Swan River in the boats.


I determined not to decide hastily between these plans and, in order more
fully to compose my mind, I sat down and read a few chapters in the

By the influence these imparted I became perfectly contented and resigned
to our apparently wretched condition and, again rising up, pursued my way
along the beach to the party. It may be here remarked by some that these
statements of my attending to religious duties are irrelevant to the
subject, but in such an opinion I cannot at all coincide. In detailing
the sufferings we underwent it is necessary to relate the means by which
those sufferings were alleviated; and after having, in the midst of
perils and misfortunes, received the greatest consolation from religion,
I should be ungrateful to my Maker not to acknowledge this, and should
ill perform my duty to my fellow men did I not bear testimony to the fact
that, under all the weightier sorrows and sufferings that our frail
nature is liable to, a perfect reliance upon the goodness of God and the
merits of our Redeemer will be found a sure refuge and a certain source
of consolation.

In pursuing my route along the beach I carefully examined every heap of
seaweed which the waves had thrown up, and was fortunate enough to find a
bag of flour which had been washed up by the tide and held there by some
rocks; though from daily soaking in salt water for several weeks it was
quite spoilt and fermented, and smelt like beer; yet this, under present
circumstances, was more valuable than its weight in gold. Just after I
had found this bag, I met Ruston and another man coming from the boats to
the depot; I at once told them exactly how matters stood; they bore the
announcement better than I could have hoped for, and when I showed them
that their safety altogether depended on their good conduct they promised
the most implicit obedience and a ready cheerful demeanour. I must do
Ruston the justice to say that under every trial he most scrupulously
adhered to the promise he then made, and never infringed upon it in the
slightest degree.


When I reached the party and told the tale of the total disappearance of
all we had left at the depot blank and dismayed faces met me on all
sides. Mr. Walker and Corporal Auger set an excellent example to the
others; but two men, of the names of Harry and Charley Woods, seized the
first convenient opportunity of walking off to the place where our
miserable remnant of damper was deposited with the intention of
appropriating it to themselves. I only waited till they actually laid
their hands upon it, when I stopped them, placed a sentry over what
provisions were left, ordered a survey of all stores to be held, and a
report to be made to me; and then went off with a party to search the
shore in the hope of finding any other things which might have been
washed up: our search however proved quite unsuccessful.


I had warned the men that at sunset I would inform them what my
intentions were with regard to our future movements; and in the meantime
all hands were employed in searching for provisions or in preparing the
boats for sea. A very gloomy prospect was before us: the men were already
much reduced from illness, from using damaged provisions, and from hard
work and exposure combined: our boats were in a very leaky unsound state,
whilst all means of efficiently repairing them had been swept away in the
hurricane. Add to this that the only provisions we had left really fit to
eat were about nine days' salt meat, at the rate of a pound a man per
diem, and about sixty pounds of tolerably good flour.

It would be useless to detail the different reasons which induced me to
adopt the plan of endeavouring to make Swan River in the whale boats;
this was however the course I resolved to pursue. Its principal
advantages were that we should be constantly approaching home; and that
if any accident should happen to the boats we might always hope to reach
Perth by walking: the principal objection to it was the prevalence of
strong south-east winds. At sunset the party assembled. I detailed to
them at considerable length the three most feasible plans which had
offered themselves to me, the reasons which had made me reject two of
them, as well as those which led me to adopt the third; and as I knew
that there were two or three insubordinate characters amongst the men,
whom I had picked up at Fremantle, I further told them that, if a
sufficient number to man one of the boats objected to follow me, they
could go their own way; as the success of my scheme would altogether
depend upon the courage and subordination with which it was carried out.
No dissentient voice was however raised, but they all promised to follow
me wherever I might lead. We now made arrangements for searching for
turtle during the night, and then stretched ourselves on the sand to try
and sleep.

March 21.

We were unfortunate in not catching a turtle during the night; the season
for them had however now passed away, so that we could only hope to cut
off a stray one which might have lingered behind its fellows. The next
day was occupied in sticking up a steer-oar with a tin canister attached
to it, containing a letter in which was detailed the plan I intended to
follow, so that in the event of any accident occurring, and our remaining
on the coast, we might still have the chance of a vessel being sent to
search for us. The men were occupied in looking for shellfish, drying the
flour, and preparing the boats. It blew nearly a gale of wind from the
south throughout the day.


March 22.

This day at two P.M., all our preparations having been completed and the
wind somewhat moderated, we stood across the bay, and soon after
nightfall made the main about twelve miles to the north of the northern
mouth of the Gascoyne. The wind freshened a great deal during the night;
but as it was impossible to beach boats on so dangerous a coast in the
dark we were obliged to trust to the goodness of our anchors, and they
did not disappoint us.

March 23.

Before dawn this morning we were under weigh and pulling dead to windward
against a strong breeze and heavy sea; the men rowed almost without
intermission until noon when, finding them completely exhausted, I made
sail and stood in towards the shore. When we had approached the land
about four miles to the north of the Gascoyne a party of natives came
down, without their spears, in the most friendly manner, making signs to
us to land. We had however but little time to spare, and could not afford
to give them any provisions: knowing also the small dependence that can
be placed upon them in a first interview, I thought it most prudent to
decline their invitation.


We accordingly continued our route and in the course of the evening made
the river, where we completed our water, and halted for the night. We saw
nothing more of the natives here, but I feel convinced that in the event
of a settlement being formed at this point no difficulty would be found
in establishing and maintaining the most friendly relations with them.


March 24.

The morning did not promise very well, but soon after sunrise the wind
shifted so much to the westward that we were able to run along shore, and
in the course of the day we made altogether about forty-five miles,
tracing the greater part of the remaining unknown portion of the shores
of Shark Bay. On leaving the Gascoyne, a low point bore due south of us,
distant about twelve miles, which I named Point Greenough after George
Bellas Greenough, Esquire, the president of the Royal Geographical
Society; and between this point and the river lay a deep bay, the shores
of which were low and thickly studded with mangroves, through which many
saltwater creeks ran up into the country. Two of these creeks I had
examined on a previous occasion, and therefore now paid no attention to


After passing Point Greenough the shore trended south by east and for the
next eight miles preserved its low character, being still thickly wooded
with mangroves; but at this point a remarkable change takes place as the
mangroves suddenly cease, and the low range of hills which extends
southward along the coast parallel to the shore increases a little in
height. In about another mile the mangroves again commence, the coast now
trending south-east; and about five miles further it runs south-east by
east, forming a bay about four miles deep, the bottom of which is
tolerably clear of mangroves.


Having crossed this bay we ran south-east by south parallel to the shore;
the mangroves now became less continuous and numerous, at least they
appeared to us to be so, and the range of hills seemed also to approach
much nearer to the sea. We continued on this course until sunset, when I
selected a snug little bay in the mangroves, where we anchored at the
distance of a few yards from the shore and made ourselves as comfortable
as we could for the night.


There was great beauty in the scenery which we saw during the day's sail;
the waters and the sky had that peculiar brilliancy about them which is
only seen in fine weather and in a tropical climate. To the west of us
lay an apparently boundless expanse of sea, whilst to the eastward we had
a low shore fringed with trees, not only down to the water's edge but
forming little green knolls of foliage in the ocean itself; behind these
trees lay low wooded hills, and in front of them stalked and swam about
pelicans and waterfowl in countless numbers. We had only about three feet
depth of clear transparent water, through which we saw that the flats
beneath us were covered with vivid coloured shells of many genera, some
of which were of a very large size; strange-looking fish of a variety of
kinds were also sporting about; more particularly sharks of a new species
(of that kind which I shot at in mistake for an alligator) and stingrays.
Whenever a lull occurred the men, unable to resist the chance of getting
a meal, would jump out of the boat, and give chase to one of these
sting-rays, boat-hook in hand, and then loud peals of laughter rose from
the others as the pursuer, too anxious to attain his object, missed his
stroke or, stumbling, rolled headlong in the water. The fineness of the
day, the novelty of the scenery, and the rapid way we were making made
the poor fellows forget past dangers, as well as those they had yet to
undergo. My own meditations were of a more melancholy character, for I
feared that the days of some of the light-hearted group were already
numbered and would soon be brought to a close. Amidst such scenes and
thoughts we were swept along, whilst this unknown coast, which so many
had anxiously yet vainly wished to see, passed before our eyes like a
panorama or a dream, and, ere many years have hurried by it is probable
that the recollection of this day will be as such to me.


March 25.

This morning I was up early in order that we might lose no time in
getting under weigh; I was much surprised however to find both boats
aground, and when the day had dawned sufficiently to enable me to
distinguish surrounding objects I could not make out the sea, but found
that we were lodged in a regular mangrove bush. I walked a few yards to
get a clear view to the westward and found that we were at least a mile
inland, so far does the tide run in over this low level shore. My eyes
were so sore that I could scarcely see and I therefore did not attempt to
make an excursion into the country, but sent a party for this purpose,
who ascended the first low range of hills and reported that the country
as far as they could see to the eastward was a succession of low mud
flats subject to the overflowings of the sea. There was a
promising-looking creek immediately to the south of us.

The tide came very slowly in until ten o'clock, which was about the time
of high-water: but here it had only half risen and remained stationary
for some time, when it began to ebb again, but soon meeting the second
flood, now came pouring rapidly in, and just before sunset there was
water enough for us to get off. We pulled to a low point, distant about
two miles, and which bore south by east from us; and having anchored off
this waited for the morning dawn to pursue our voyage.


March 26.

In the morning I found that the point we were anchored off ran south-east
and north-west: it was about two miles long and formed a low spit of land
whence the coast trended due south. I debated for a few minutes whether I
should explore the creek which lay to the south of us, but decided in the
negative. Had I followed my own wishes I should have done so, but the
lives of others now depended on my incurring no unjustifiable delay, and
it did not therefore appear to be of importance; besides, as we had now
traced the unknown portions of this great bay, and had moreover
discovered in it a country in every way fitted for immediate occupation,
and which indeed appeared from its soil and position to be one of the
most valuable portions of the western side of the Continent, I thought
that everything worthy of any great risk or danger had been accomplished,
and resolved to hurry homewards.


After following the coast for a few miles further to the south I
considered we were now far enough to windward to fetch somewhere near the
centre of Perron's Peninsula; I therefore made sail and steered for that


Our passage across was a long and tedious one, and when at last towards
evening we sighted Perron's Peninsula it was very evident that my boat
would not do more than fetch the very northern point, but the other boat,
which was a much better sailer, was nearly a mile to windward of us. The
weather had been for the last hour or two very threatening, and we had
reached to within two miles of the shore when the wind suddenly shifted
to the south-west and began to blow a terrific gale. We had just time to
down sail and take to the oars, and as every one of the crew saw that his
life depended on it they gave way strenuously. We were under the lee of
the Peninsula and had it not been for this circumstance must undoubtedly
have been lost. That gale of wind was a terrible and magnificent sight. I
stood at the steer oar; the waves lifted the boat each time nearly
broadside on, and it was all I could do to bring her head round in time
to meet the next sea, but the men pulled steadily. "Now men, give way for
your lives," I called out if they flagged, and renewed energy was
instantly infused into all of them. At times we could not hold our own
against the wind and waves, and at the most favourable moments seemed
merely to stand still. I looked at the shore until my eyes ached; but no
nearer did it appear to be than at first, and gradually grew less
distinct as the daylight faded. We could only see the other boat now and
then; but although she was evidently in imminent peril they were much
nearer in shore than we were. The danger we underwent on this occasion
was great; but the excitement of so wild and grand a scene was highly
pleasurable, and when success at last crowned our exertions, and we went
dancing wildly in through the surf and spray upon a rocky unknown shore,
and found the other crew on the beach ready to help us in hauling up, I
felt that there is a charm attached to scenes like these which can only
be fully estimated by those who have experienced it. Having in our turn
assisted to haul up the other boat we lighted our fires and laid down for
the night.


March 27.

This morning I found that all our hands were so fatigued by the exertions
of the previous day that a few hours of comparative rest was absolutely
necessary. I therefore directed them to stroll about the beach for an
hour or two and to collect oysters or shellfish. The part of Perron's
Peninsula which we were on consists of abrupt cliffs of the height of
about two hundred feet; at the base of these and between them and the sea
there is a narrow strip of sandy land and dunes, and at their summit is a
barren sandy tableland, gently sloping away to the southward and
appearing to extend throughout the whole length of the peninsula.

As soon as I thought the men were sufficiently rested we launched the
boats, but on rounding the northern extremity of the peninsula met a
heavy sea running from the southward and were obliged to take to the
oars. We had not got more than two miles to the southward of Cape Leseuer
when I saw so many indications of an approaching gale that I ran in again
and beached the boats; and this operation was hardly accomplished ere it
blew with terrific violence from the south-south-west. Both here and at
our last night's encampment we saw numerous signs of natives, and now
found several native wells in the sandhills, but had no occasion to use
them as we had regular tropical rain for the rest of the day. The men
here brought me the bones of a very large marine animal which they had
found at the natives' fire, but I could not recognise them as belonging
to any that I was acquainted with. At this period, from bad food and
being constantly wet with salt water, we were all afflicted with sores of
the most painful and annoying character, and these much increased the
unpleasantness of our situation.


March 28.

This morning the weather looked tolerably fine; I therefore ordered the
boats to be launched and, after pulling a few miles to windward along
Perron's Peninsula, we struck across for Dirk Hartog's Island; our former
ill-luck however still attended us, for just as we were making the land
another fearful gale from the south-south-west came on, and had we not
had the good luck to have got under the lee of the Coin de Mire of the
French we must infallibly have been wrecked; as it was we pulled along
under this promontory and beached the boats in a little bay at its
north-west extremity. Nothing but absolute necessity could however have
induced me to take such a step, for the place was rocky and difficult of
access, with a heavy surf breaking on the beach. The rain fell in
torrents during the greater part of the evening, and the men spent the
time in searching for oysters and shellfish with which to appease their
hunger. The rain which had fallen during the last two days had a very
injurious effect upon some of us, for, our clothes having been lost with
the other things which were swept away from the depot during the
hurricane of the first of March, we were very insufficiently clad.


March 29.

The weather this morning being very foul I occupied myself in making a
survey of a portion of Dirk Hartog's Island, which is of a very barren
nature, though rather better than either Bernier or Dorre Islands, but
for many years to come it must be utterly useless. It looks exactly like
a Scottish heath; and I have no doubt whatever that water would be found
by digging on it; but as we could have obtained plenty from large holes
in the rocks we did not make the attempt. Whilst I was occupied in this
examination of the island the wind shifted suddenly to the north-west and
I hurried back to the party in order not to lose so favourable an

On arriving at the boats I found that the water had not been completed,
nor had three days' provisions (such as they were) been cooked, although
I had left orders when I went away that these necessary preparations for
our moving should immediately be made; this gave me another reason to
suspect that, during my temporary absence from the party, discipline was
now altogether neglected, and indeed treated as an unnecessary restraint
under existing circumstances. Mr. Smith had warned me that such was the
case, and I therefore never separated myself from any portion of the
party without great anxiety; for I well knew that the safety of all
depended upon preserving the strictest subordination.

In this instance however I merely ordered the boats to be instantly
launched; for I knew that to lose a fair wind in our present situation
would be rashness; and we were soon bounding before the breeze. The wind
now continued fair and at nightfall we landed on the main in such a
position as to look out to the open sea, through the passage between
Steep Point and Dirk Hartog's Island.


March 30.

This morning we pulled up the opening and found a perfect bubble of a sea
running into it and breaking on the various reefs which lie in its mouth.
We then made an attempt to pull round Steep Point and succeeded in
getting out to sea; but there was a formidable swell setting dead on the
shore and drifting us rapidly in towards it, whilst in the event of being
stranded nothing could have saved our lives for the surf was so
tremendous that the boat must instantly have gone to pieces, and the
lofty limestone cliffs were perfectly inaccessible, being hollowed out
into deep caverns by the action of the waves. The attempt to get along
this coast appeared indeed to be so hazardous that even the old sailors
who were with me begged me not to risk it, but rather to allow them to
endeavour to walk overland to Perth. I was well aware that had I
attempted to do this at least half the party would have been lost; for
but few men can support the fatigue of making long and continuous marches
in a very warm climate in which a great scarcity of water prevails.


I however humoured them so far as to put back for the mouth of the
opening, where, under the shelter of a reef, we could lie at anchor for a
few hours in the hope that the sea would lull a little; we however only
just cleared Steep Point, and whilst doing so I felt certain for two or
three minutes that we must have gone ashore, for each breaker lifted the
boat bodily towards the cliffs; as it was however it pleased Providence
to bring us safe to our anchorage.

We were now about to enter on the most perilous part of our journey
homewards. For the next one hundred and twenty miles along the coast I
could not hope to find a place whereon to beach the boats, in the event
of our meeting with those unfavourable winds which we had hitherto found
so prevalent. It would, in the present weak state of the party, take us
many successive days to make this passage; and, should the weather be
really foul, accompanied by strong gales from the south-west, our fate
would soon have been decided. Nevertheless our hope of ultimate safety
rested altogether upon the accomplishment of the difficult task we were
about to commence.


I soon found that remaining in a state of inactivity would but increase
our difficulties; for as the men talked over them to one another, they
grew wore and more gloomy, and when at length I gave a particular order
to a man of the name of Woods he quietly refused to obey it, saying that
he now considered that his life was altogether lost, and that he would
therefore knock off work. I was rather puzzled for a minute or two as to
how I ought to act under these circumstances, for such an example as he
had set necessarily exercised a bad influence over the others; yet there
was no use in threatening to punish where I had not the means to do so; I
therefore merely turned round to the man who had the charge of sharing
out our scanty allowance of provisions and desired him to divide Woods'
portion of water and provisions amongst the rest of us today, as I
intended for the future that he should have none, at all events not until
he did his fair share of work. This had the desired effect; he soon came
to his senses and told me that I might as well throw him overboard at
once as starve him, to which I replied that unless he overcame his
cowardice and bore his proportion of the toil we all had to go through I
should in no way whatever interfere with his starving, being thrown
overboard, or anything else; but that I would take very good care that he
had neither a morsel to eat or a drop of water to drink; whereupon he
again resumed his duty and from that time forward proved to be one of the
best men I had with me; indeed I never again had occasion to find fault
with him.

Seeing however what a pernicious effect this delay was likely to produce
I determined at once to cope with those difficulties, which we must
either overcome or perish; and accordingly round Steep Point we again
went, and for the rest of this evening and night contended with the heavy
sea as well as we could, keeping about a mile from the shore, sometimes
pulling and sometimes getting a favourable slant of wind.

March 31.

This day we continued our course, tracing out the shore. A small piece of
raw pork was served out to each man; and I found this to be a very nice
and palatable morsel; it however increased our thirst, which, as we were
upon very short allowance of water, was rather a disadvantage; but it was
absolutely necessary that we should take some nourishment.


The country hereabouts is very uninviting, consisting of a high range of
barren limestone hills, ascending gradually from steep cliffs which form
the coastline. These hills are of such equal elevation that they have a
monotonous as well as barren appearance, and are rent in places by deep
rocky gullies which run down into the sea. No change whatever took place
in the character of the coast throughout our day's ruin, nor did I see a
spot where a boat could land. I did not close my eyes during Sunday
night, for we were still in a most perilous position, and I felt that
whilst we were on so dangerous a coast with a foul wind it was my duty to
keep upon the alert as long as wearied nature would admit of my so doing.

As soon as there was sufficient light for me to distinguish the coastline
I found that it was somewhat losing its monotonous character by breaking
into more detached hills; and about ten A.M., we reached the northern
extremity of Gantheaume Bay.


The men being now completely worn out by want of rest, incessant
exertion, and the mental anxiety they had undergone in the last fifty-six
hours, during the whole of which time they had been in actual danger, I
determined to attempt a landing in Gantheaume Bay, and therefore pulled
along shore with the intention of finding a spot where we could easily
land and yet be near a place likely to afford us water; for
notwithstanding the economy we had practised none now was left. I soon
came to an opening in the bay which I thought would suit our purpose, but
Ruston, on whose opinion in such matters I placed great reliance,
reported it to be utterly impracticable; we still therefore pulled along
the shore, and found it lashed throughout its whole extent by a fearful
surf. The south end of the bay, although protected by a reef, had just as
heavy a surf breaking on it as any other part of the shore and was also
very rocky, we therefore turned back to a sandy beach which we had passed
in pulling round the bay and, having carefully examined this, it appeared
in every way suited to our purpose, so we committed ourselves to the
mercy of the breakers and in we went. As I stood at the steer-oar I saw
that this was a heavier surf than we had ever yet been in. We were swept
along at a terrific rate, and yet it appeared as if each following wave
must engulf us, so lofty were they, and so rapidly did they pour on.


At length we reached the point where the waves broke; the breaker that we
were on curled up in the air, lifting the boat with it, and when we had
gained the summit I looked down from a great height, not upon water, but
upon a bare, sharp, black rock. For one second the boat hung upon the top
of the wave; in the next I felt the sensation of falling rapidly, then a
tremendous shock and crash which jerked me away amongst rocks and
breakers, and for the few following seconds I heard nothing but the din
of waves whilst I was rolling about amongst men, and a torn boat, oars,
and water-kegs, in such a manner that I could not collect my senses.


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