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Title: Journals of Expeditions of Discovery into Central Australia and Overland from Adelaide to King George's Sound in the Years 1840-1: Sent By the Colonists of South Australia, with the Sanction and Support of the Government: Including an Account of the Manners and Customs of the Aborigines and the State of Their Relations with Europeans — Complete
Author: Eyre, Edward John, 1815-1901
Language: English
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by EYRE, EDWARD JOHN (1815-1901)



In offering to the public an account of Expeditions of Discovery in
Australia, undertaken in the years 1840-1, and completed in July of the
latter year, some apology may be deemed necessary for this narrative not
having sooner appeared, or perhaps even for its being now published at

With respect to the first, the author would remark that soon after his
return to South Australia upon the close of the Expeditions, and when
contemplating an immediate return to England, he was invited by the
Governor of the Colony to remain, and undertake the task of
re-establishing peace and amicable relations with the numerous native
tribes of the Murray River, and its neighbourhood, whose daring and
successful outrages in 1841, had caused very great losses to, and created
serious apprehensions among the Colonists.

Hoping that his personal knowledge of and extensive practical experience
among the Aborigines might prove serviceable in an employment of this
nature, the author consented to undertake it; and from the close of
September 1841, until December 1844, was unremittingly occupied with the
duties it entailed. It was consequently not in his power to attend to the
publication of his travels earlier, nor indeed can he regret a delay,
which by the facilities it afforded him of acquiring a more intimate
knowledge of the character and habits of the Aborigines, has enabled him
to render that portion of his work which relates to them more
comprehensive and satisfactory than it otherwise would have been.

With respect to the second point, or the reasons which have led to this
work being published at all, the author would observe that he has been
led to engage in it rather from a sense of duty, and at the instance of
many of his friends, than from any wish of his own. The greater portion
of the country he explored was of so sterile and worthless a description,
and the circumstances which an attempt to cross such a desert region led
to, were of so distressing a character, that he would not willingly have
revived associations, so unsatisfactory and so painful.

It has been his fate, however, to cross, during the course of his
explorations, a far greater extent of country than any Australian
traveller had ever done previously, and as a very large portion of this
had never before been trodden by the foot of civilized man, and from its
nature is never likely to be so invaded again, it became a duty to record
the knowledge which was thus obtained, for the information of future
travellers and as a guide to the scientific world in their inquiries into
the character and formation of so singular and interesting a country.

To enable the reader to judge of the author's capabilities for the task
he undertook, and of the degree of confidence that may be due to his
impressions or opinions, it may not be out of place to state, that the
Expeditions of 1840--1 were not entered upon without a sufficient
previous and practical experience in exploring.

For eight years the author had been resident in Australia, during which
he had visited many of the located parts of New South Wales, Port
Phillip, South Australia, Western Australia, and Van Diemen's Land. In
the years 1836, 1837, 1838, 1839, and 1840 he had conducted expeditions
across from Liverpool Plains in New South Wales to the county of Murray,
from Sydney to Port Phillip, from Port Phillip to Adelaide, and from King
George's Sound to Swan River, besides undertaking several explorations
towards the interior, both from Port Lincoln and from Adelaide.

To the knowledge and experience which were thus acquired, the author must
ascribe the confidence and good opinion of his fellow-colonists, which
led them in 1840 to place under his command an undertaking of such
importance, interest, and responsibility; and to these advantages he
feels that he is in a great measure indebted, under God's blessing, for
having been enabled successfully to struggle through the difficulties and
dangers which beset him, in crossing from Adelaide to King George's

With this explanation for obtruding upon the public, the author would
also solicit their indulgence, for the manner in which the task has been
performed. The only merit to which he can lay claim, is that of having
faithfully described what he saw, and the impressions which were produced
upon him at the time. In other respects it is feared that a work, which
was entirely (and consequently very hastily) prepared for the press from
the original notes, whilst voyaging from Australia to England, must
necessarily be crude and imperfect. Where the principal object, however,
was rather to record with accuracy than indulge in theory or conjecture,
and where a simple statement of occurrences has been more attended to
than the language in which they are narrated, plainness and fidelity
will, it is hoped, be considered as some compensation for the absence of
the embellishments of a more finished style, or a studied composition,
and especially as the uncertainty attending the duration of the author's
visit to England made it a matter of anxious consideration to hurry these
volumes through the press as rapidly as possible. There is one
circumstance to which he wishes particularly to allude, as accounting for
the very scanty notices he is now able to give of the geology or botany
of the country through which he travelled; it is the loss of all the
specimens that were collected during the earlier part of the Expedition,
which occurred after they had been sent to Adelaide; this loss has been
irreparable, and has not only prevented him from ascertaining points
about which he was dubious, but has entirely precluded him from having
the subjects considered, or the specimens classified and arranged by
gentlemen of scientific acquirements in those departments of knowledge,
in which the author is conscious he is himself defective. In the latter
part of the Expedition, or from Fowler's Bay to King George's Sound, the
dreadful nature of the country, and the difficulties and disasters to
which this led, made it quite impossible either to make collections of
any kind, or to examine the country beyond the immediate line of route;
still it is hoped that the passing notices which are made in the journal,
and the knowledge of the similarity of appearance and uniform character,
prevalent throughout the greater portion of the country passed through,
will be quite sufficient to give a general and correct impression of the

To Mr. Gray of the British Museum, the author is particularly indebted
for his valuable contribution on the Natural History of the Southern
coast of Australia, and to Mr. Gould, the celebrated Ornithologist, his
thanks are equally due, for a classified and most interesting list of the
birds belonging to the same portion of the continent.

To Mr. Adam White, of the British Museum, he is also indebted for an
account of some new insects, and to Dr. Richardson, for a scientific and
classified arrangement of fish caught on the Southern coast, near King
George's Sound. The plates to which the numbers refer in the
last-mentioned paper, are the admirable drawings made from life, by J.
Neill, Esq. of King George's Sound, and now lodged at the British Museum.
They are, however, both too numerous and too large to give in a work of
this description, and will probably be published at some future time by
their talented author.

For the account given of the Aborigines the author deems it unnecessary
to offer any apology; a long experience among them, and an intimate
knowledge of their character, habits, and position with regard to
Europeans, have induced in him a deep interest on behalf of a people, who
are fast fading away before the progress of a civilization, which ought
only to have added to their improvement and prosperity. Gladly would the
author wish to see attention awakened on their behalf, and an effort at
least made to stay the torrent which is overwhelming them.

It is most lamentable to think that the progress and prosperity of one
race should conduce to the downfal and decay of another; it is still more
so to observe the apathy and indifference with which this result is
contemplated by mankind in general, and which either leads to no
investigation being made as to the cause of this desolating influence, or
if it is, terminates, to use the language of the Count Strzelecki, "in
the inquiry, like an inquest of the one race upon the corpse of the
other, ending for the most part with the verdict of 'died by the
visitation of God.'"

In his attempt to delineate the actual circumstances and position of the
natives, and the just claims they have upon public sympathy and
benevolence, he has been necessitated to refer largely to the testimony
of others, but in doing this he has endeavoured as far as practicable, to
support the views he has taken by the writings or opinions of those who
are, or who have been resident in the Colonies, and who might therefore
be supposed from a practical acquaintance with the subject, to be most
competent to arrive at just conclusions.

In suggesting the only remedy which appears at all calculated to mitigate
the evil complained of, it has studiously been kept in view that there
are the interests of two classes to be provided for, those of the
Settlers, and those of the Aborigines, it is thought that these interests
cannot with advantage be separated, and it is hoped that it may be found
practicable to blend them together.

The Aborigines of New Holland are not on the whole a numerous people;
they are generally of a very inoffensive and tractable character, and it
is believed that they may, under ordinary circumstances, almost always be
rendered peaceable and well-disposed by kind and consistent treatment.
Should this, in reality, prove to be the case, it may be found perhaps,
that they could be more easily managed, and in the long run at a less
expense, by some such system as is recommended, than by any other
requiring means of a more retaliatory or coercive character. The system
proposed is at least one which by removing in a great measure temptation
from the native, and thereby affording comparative security to the
settlers, will have a powerful effect in inducing the latter to unite
with the Government in any efforts made to ameliorate the condition of
the Aborigines; a union which under present or past systems has not ever
taken place, but one which it is very essential should be effected, if
any permanent good is hoped for.

To Mr. Moorhouse the author returns his best thanks for his valuable
notes on the Aborigines, to which he is indebted for the opportunity of
giving an account of many of the customs and habits of the Adelaide

To Anthony Forster, Esq. he offers his warmest acknowledgments for his
assistance in overlooking the manuscripts during the voyage from
Australia, and correcting many errors which necessarily resulted from the
hurried manner in which they were prepared; it is to this kind
supervision must be ascribed the merit--negative though it may be--of
there not being more errors than there are.























  ESQ. F.R.S.


Tenberry, with Wife and Child, drawn by G. Hamilton
Departure of the Expedition drawn by G. Hamilton
Opossum-hunting at Gawler Plains
Native Graves
Wylie (J. Neil)
Plate I.--New Toads and Frogs
Plate II.--New Frogs and new Bat
Plate III.--New Insects
Plate IV.--New Cray-fish
Plate V.--New Shells
Plate VI.--New Butterflies














FOOD, etc.




* * * * *



Distribution of flour at Moorunde, G. Hamilton
Arrival at King George's Sound, J. Neill
Plate I.--Native Ornaments
Kangaroo Dance of King George's Sound, J. Neill
Woodcut of a Standard used in the Dances performed by day
Plate II. Native Weapons
Plate III. Native Weapons
Plate IV. Native Implements
Plate V. Native Works of Industry
Mode of disposing of the Dead of the Lower Murray
Murray River at Moorunde
Plate VI. Miscellaneous Native Articles
1. Head of war spear of the North Coast, barbed for 3 feet, total length
9 1/2 feet.
2. Head of fish spear of the North Coast, barbed for 18 inches, total
length 8 3/4 feet.
2. Head of spear of the North Coast, barbed for 18 inches, total length
8 3/4 feet.
4. Head of war spear of the North Coast, with head of quartz, 6 inches,
total length 9 1/2 feet.
5. Head of war spear of the North Coast, with head of slate, 6 inches,
total length 9 1/2 feet.
6. Two handed sword of hard wood, North Coast, 3 1/2 feet.
7. Throwing stick of North Coast, 3 feet 1 inch.
8. Throwing stick of North Coast, very pliant, 3-16ths of an inch only
thick, 3 feet 6 inches.
9. Broad short throwing stick, 2 feet 2 inches.
10. An ornament of feathers for the neck.
11. Five Kangaroo teeth in a bunch, worn round the neck.
12. A net waistband or belt, from Murray River, 8 feet long 6 inches
13. Plume of feathers tied to thin wand, and stuck in the hair at
dances--New South Wales.
14. War club.
15. War club.
16. Bag of close net work.
17. Band for forehead of Swan's down.
18. Root end of a kind of grass, used as pins for pegging out skins.
19. Sorcerer's stick.
20. Sorcerer's stick.



Chapter I.


Before entering upon the account of the expedition sent to explore the
interior of Australia, to which the following pages refer, it may perhaps
be as well to advert briefly to the circumstances which led to the
undertaking itself, that the public being fully in possession of the
motives and inducements which led me, at a very great sacrifice of my
private means, to engage in an exploration so hazardous and arduous, and
informed of the degree of confidence reposed in me by those interested in
the undertaking, and the sanguine hopes and high expectations that were
formed as to the result, may be better able to judge how far that
confidence was well placed, and how far my exertions were commensurate
with the magnitude of the responsibility I had undertaken.

I have felt it the more necessary to allude to this subject now, because
I was in some measure at the time instrumental in putting a stop to a
contemplated expedition to the westward, and of thus unintentionally
interfering with the employment of a personal friend of my own, than whom
no one could have been more fitted to command an undertaking of the kind,
from his amiable disposition, his extensive experience, and his general
knowledge and acquirements.

Upon returning, about the middle of May 1840, from a visit to King
George's Sound and Swan River, I found public attention in Adelaide
considerably engrossed with the subject of an overland communication
between Southern and Western Australia. Captain Grey, now the Governor of
South Australia, had called at Adelaide on his way to England from King
George's Sound, and by furnishing a great deal of interesting information
relative to Western Australia, and pointing out the facilities that
existed on its eastern frontier, as far as it was then known, for the
entrance of stock from the Eastward, had called the attention of the
flock-masters of the Colony to the importance of opening a communication
between the two places, with a view to the extension of their pastoral
interests. The notes of Captain Grey, referring to this subject, were
published in the South Australian Register newspaper of the 28th March,
1840. On the 30th of the same month, a number of gentlemen, many of whom
were owners of large flocks and herds, met together, for the purpose of
taking the matter into consideration, and the result of this conference
was the appointment of a Committee, whose duty it was to report upon the
best means of accomplishing the object in view. On the 4th, 7th, and 9th
of April other meetings were held, and the results published in the South
Australian Register, of the 11th April, as follows:--


At a Meeting of the Committee for making arrangements for an expedition
to explore an overland route to Western Australia, held the 7th of April,
the Hon. the Surveyor-general in the chair, the following resolutions
were agreed to:--

That a communication be made to the Government of Western Australia,
detailing the objects contemplated by this Committee, and further stating
that the assistance of the Government of this province has been obtained.

That a communication be made to the Hon. the Surveyor-general, the Hon.
the Advocate-general the Hon. G. Leake, Esq. of Western Australia, with a
request that they will form a committee in conjunction with such settlers
as may feel interested in the same undertaking, for the purpose of
collecting private subscriptions, and co-operating with this committee.

Resolved, that similar communications be made to the Government of New
South Wales, and to the following gentlemen who are requested to act as a
committee with the same power as that of Western Australia: Hon. E. Deas
Thomson, Colonial Secretary; William Macarthur, Esq.; Captain Parker; P.
King, R.N.; Stuart Donaldson, Esq.; George Macleay, Esq.; Charles
Campbell, Esq.

That this Committee would propose, in order to facilitate the progress of
the expedition, that depots be formed at convenient points on the route;
that it is proposed to make Fowler's Bay the first depot on the route
from Adelaide, and to leave it to the Government of Western Australia to
decide upon the sites which their local knowledge may point out as the
most eligible for similar stations, as far to the eastward as may appear

That a subscription list be immediately opened in Adelaide to collect
funds in aid of the undertaking.

That R. F. Newland, Esq., be requested to act as Treasurer to this
Committee, and that subscriptions be received at the Banks of Australasia
and South Australia.

E. C. FROME, Chairman.
CHAS. BONNEY, Secretary.

The Committee again met on the 9th April--the Hon. the Assistant
Commissioner in the chair. It was resolved that the following statement
head the subscription list:--

Several meetings having taken place at Adelaide of persons interested in
the discovery of an overland route to Western Australia, and it being the
general opinion of those meetings that such an enterprise would very
greatly benefit the colonists of Eastern, Southern, and Western
Australia, it was determined to open subscriptions for the furtherance of
this most desirable object under the direction of the following

G. A. Anstey, Esq.     John Knott, Esq.
Charles Bonney, Esq.   Duncan M'Farlane, Esq.
John Brown, Esq.       David McLaren, Esq.
Edward Eyre, Esq.      John Morphett, Esq.
John Finniss, Esq.     Chas. Mann, Esq.
J. H. Fisher, Esq.     R. F. Newland, Esq.
Lieutenant Frome,      Dr. Rankin. Esq.
Surveyor-general       G. Stevenson, Esq.
O. Gilles, Esq.        F. Stephens, Esq.
Captain Grey W.        Smilie, Esq.
J. B. Hack, Esq.       T. B. Strangwaya, Esq.
G. Hamilton, Esq.      Capt. Sturt, Ass. Com.
Ephraim Howe, Esq.     John Walker, Esq.

The very great importance of the undertaking as leading to results, and
in all probability to discoveries, the benefits of which are at present
unforeseen, but which, like the opening of the Murray to this Province,
may pave the way to a high road from hence to Western Australia, will, it
is hoped meet with that support from the public which undertakings of
great national interest deserve, and which best evince the enterprise and
well-doing of a rising colony.

That Captain Grey, being about to embark for England, the Committee
cannot allow him to quit these shores without expressing their regret
that his stay has been so short, and the sense they entertain of the
great interest he has evinced in the welfare of the colony, and the
disinterested support he has given an enterprise which is likely to lead
to such generally beneficial results as that under consideration.

CHAS. STURT, Chairman.
CHAS. BONNEY, Secretary.


The Government of South Australia        200 pounds
His Excellency the Governor
(absent at Port Lincoln)
and the Colonists                        349 pounds 10 shillings

Such was the state in which I found the question on my return from
Western Australia. All had been done that was practicable, until answers
were received from the other Colonies, replying to the applications for
assistance and co-operation in the proposed undertaking.

Having been always greatly interested in the examination of this vast but
comparatively unknown continent, and having already myself been
frequently engaged in long and harassing explorations, it will not be
deemed surprising that I should at once have turned my attention to the
subject so prominently occupying the public mind. I have stated that the
principal object proposed to be attained by the expedition to the
westward, was that of opening a route for the transit of stock from one
colony to the other--nay it was even proposed and agreed to by a majority
of the gentlemen attending the public meeting that the first party of
exploration should be accompanied by cattle. Now, from my previous
examination of the country to the westward of the located parts of South
Australia, I had in 1839 fully satisfied myself, not only of the
difficulty, but of the utter impracticability of opening an overland
route for stock in that direction, and I at once stated my opinion to
that effect, and endeavoured to turn the general attention from the
Westward to the North, as being the more promising opening, either for
the discovery of a good country, or of an available route across the
continent. The following extract, from a paper by me on the subject, was
published in the South Australian Register of the 23rd May, 1840, and
contains my opinion at that time of the little prospect there was of any
useful result accruing from the carrying out of the proposed expedition
to the Westward:--

"It may now, therefore, be a question for those who are interested in the
sending an expedition overland to the Swan River to consider what are
likely to be the useful results from such a journey. In a geographical
point of view it will be exceedingly interesting to know the character of
the intervening country between this colony and theirs, and to unfold the
secrets hidden by those lofty, and singular cliffs at the head of the
Great Bight, and so far, it might perhaps be practicable--since it is
possible that a light party might, in a favourable season, force their
way across. As regards the transit of stock, however, my own conviction
is that it is quite impracticable. The vast extent of desert country to
the westward--the scarcity of grass--the denseness of the scrub--and the
all but total absence of water, even in the most favourable seasons, are
in themselves, sufficient bars to the transit of stock, even to a
distance we are already acquainted with. I would rather, therefore, turn
the public attention to the Northward, as being the most probable point
from which discoveries of importance may be made, or such as are likely
to prove beneficial to this and the other colonies, and from which it is
possible the veil may be lifted, from the still unknown and mysterious
interior of this vast continent."

On the 27th I dined with His Excellency the Governor, and had a long
conversation with him on the subject of the proposed Western Expedition,
and on the exploration of the Northern Interior. With his usual anxiety
to promote any object which he thought likely to benefit the colony, and
advance the cause of science, His Excellency expressed great interest in
the examination of the Northern Interior, and a desire that an attempt
should be made to penetrate its recesses during the ensuing season.

As I had been the means of diverting public attention from a Western to a
Northern exploration, so was I willing to encounter myself the risks and
toils of the undertaking I had suggested, and I therefore at once
volunteered to His Excellency to take the command of any party that might
be sent out, to find one-third of the number of horses required, and pay
one-third of the expenses. Two days after this a lecture was delivered at
the Mechanics' Institute in Adelaide, by Captain Sturt, upon the
Geography and Geology of Australia, at the close of which that gentleman
acquainted the public with the proposal I had made to the Governor, and
the sanction and support which His Excellency was disposed to give it.
The following extract is from Captain Sturt's address, and shews the
disinterested and generous zeal which that talented and successful
traveller was ever ready to exert on behalf of those who were inclined to
follow the career of enterprise and ambition in which he had with such
distinction led the way.

"Before I conclude, however, having drawn your attention to the science
of geology, I would for a moment dwell on that of geography, and the
benefit the pursuit and study of it has been to mankind. To geography we
owe all our knowledge of the features of the earth's surface, our
intercourse with distant nations, and our enjoyments of numberless
comforts and luxuries. The sister sciences of geography and hydrography
have enabled us to pursue our way to any quarter of the habitable and
uninhabitable world. With the history of geography, moreover, our
proudest feelings are associated. Where are there names dearer to us than
those of the noble and devoted Columbus, of Sebastian Cabot, of Cook, of
Humboldt, and of Belzoni and La Perouse? Where shall we find the generous
and heroic devotion of the explorers of Africa surpassed? Of Denham, of
Clapperton, of Oudeny, and of the many who have sacrificed their valuable
lives to the pestilence of that climate or to the ferocity of its
inhabitants?--And where shall we look for the patient and persevering
endurance of Parry, of Franklin, and of Back, in the northern regions of
eternal snow? If, ladies and gentlemen, fame were to wreathe a crown to
the memory of such men, there would not be a leaf in it without a name.
The region of discovery was long open to the ambitious, but the energy
and perseverance of man has now left but little to be done in that once
extensive and honourable field. The shores of every continent have been
explored--the centre of every country has been penetrated save that of
Australia--thousands of pounds have been expended in expeditions to the
Poles--but this country, round which a girdle of civilization is forming,
is neglected, and its recesses, whether desert or fertile, are unsought
and unexplored. What is known of the interior is due rather to private
enterprise than to public energy. Here then there is still a field for
the ambitious to tread. Over the centre of this mighty continent there
hangs a veil which the most enterprising might be proud to raise. The
path to it, I would venture to say, is full of difficulty and danger; and
to him who first treads it much will be due. I, who have been as far as
any, have seen danger and difficulty thicken around me as I advanced, and
I cannot but anticipate the same obstacles to the explorer, from whatever
point of these extreme shores he may endeavour to force his way.
Nevertheless, gentlemen, I shall envy that man who shall first plant the
flag of our native country in the centre of our adopted one. There is not
one deed in those days to be compared with it, and to whoever may
undertake so praiseworthy and so devoted a task, I wish that success,
which Heaven sometimes vouchsafes to those who are actuated by the first
of motives--the public good; and the best of principles--a reliance on
Providence. I would I myself could undertake such a task, but fear that
may not be. However, there is a gentleman among us, who is auxious to
undertake such a journey. He has calculated that in taking a party five
hundred miles into the interior, the expense would not be more than 300
pounds and the price of ten horses. At a meeting held some time ago, on
this very subject, about half that sum was subscribed.--His Excellency
the Governor has kindly promised to give 100 pounds, and two horses--and
I think we may very soon make up the remainder; and thus may set out an
expedition which may explore the as yet unknown interior of this vast
continent, which may be the means, by discovery, of conferring a lasting
benefit on the colony--and hand down to posterity the name of the person
who undertakes it."

On the same day I received a note from the private secretary, stating
that the Governor wished to see me, and upon calling on His Excellency I
had a long and interesting interview on the subject of the expedition, in
the course of which arrangements were proposed and a plan of operations
entered into. I found in His Excellency every thing that was kind and
obliging. Sincerely desirous to confer a benefit upon the colony over
which he presided, he was most anxious that the expedition should be
fitted out in as complete and efficient a manner as possible, and to
effect this every assistance in his power was most frankly and freely
offered. In addition to the sanction and patronage of the government and
the contribution of 100 pounds, towards defraying the expenses, His
Excellency most kindly offered me the selection of any two horses I
pleased, from among those belonging to the police, and stated, that if I
wished for the services of any of the men in the public employment they
should be permitted to accompany me on the journey. The Colonial cutter,
WATERWITCH, was also most liberally offered, and thankfully accepted, to
convey a part of the heavy stores and equipment to the head of Spencer's
Gulf, that so far, the difficulties of the land journey to that point, at
least, might be lessened.

I was now fairly pledged to the undertaking, and as the winter was
rapidly advancing, I became most anxious to get all preparations made as
soon as possible to enable me to take advantage of the proper season. On
the first of June I commenced the necessary arrangements for organizing
my party, and getting ready the equipment required. To assist me in these
duties, and to accompany me as a companion in the journey, I engaged Mr.
Edward Bate Scott, an active, intelligent and steady young friend, who
had already been a voyage with me to Western Australia, and had travelled
with me overland from King George's Sound to Swan River.

Meetings of the colonists interested in the undertaking were again held
on the 2nd and 5th of June, at which subscriptions were entered into for
carrying out the object of the expedition; and a brief outline of my
plans was given by the Chairman, Captain Sturt, in the following extract
from his address.

"The Chairman went on to state, that Mr. Eyre would first proceed to Lake
Torrens and examine it, and then penetrate as far inland in a northerly
direction as would be found practicable. With regard to an observation
which he (the Chairman) had made on Friday evening, regarding this
continent having been formerly an archipelago, he stated, that he was of
opinion that a considerable space of barren land in all probability
existed between this district and what had formerly been the next island.
This space was likely to be barren, though of course it would be
impossible to say how far it extended. He had every reason to believe,
from what he had seen of the Australian continent, that at some distance
to the northward, a large tract of barren country would be found, or
perhaps a body of water, beyond which, a good country would in all
probability exist. The contemplated expedition, he hoped would set
supposition at rest--and as the season was most favourable, and Mr. Eyre
had had much personal experience in exploring, he had no doubt but the
expedition would be successful. The eyes of all the Australasian
colonies--nay, he might say of Britain--are on the colonists of South
Australia in this matter; and he felt confident that the result would be
most beneficial, not only to this Province, but also to New South Wales
and the Australian colonies generally--for the success of one settlement
is, in a measure, the success of the others."

An advertisement, published in the Adelaide Journals of 13th June, shewed
the progress that had been made towards collecting subscriptions for the
undertaking, and the spirited and zealous manner in which the colonists
entered into the project. Up to that date the sum of 541 pounds 17
shillings 5 pence had been collected and paid into the Bank of Australia.

Having now secured the necessary co-operation and assistance, my
arrangements proceeded rapidly and unremittingly, whilst the kindness of
the Governor, the Committee of colonists, my private friends and the
public generally, relieved me of many difficulties and facilitated my
preparations in a manner such as I could hardly have hoped or expected.
Every one seemed interested in the undertaking, and anxious to promote
its success; zeal and energy and spirit were infused among all connected
with it, and everything went on prosperously.

In addition to the valuable aid which I received from his Excellency the
Governor, I was particularly indebted to Captain Frome the
Surveyor-general, Captain Sturt the Assistant-commissioner, and Thomas
Gilbert, Esq. the Colonial storekeeper, for unceasing kindness and
attention, and for much important assistance rendered to me by the loan
of books and instruments, the preparation of charts, and the fitting up
of drays, etc. etc.

Captain Frome, too, now laid me under increased obligations by giving up
his own servant, Corporal Coles of the Royal Sappers and Miners, upon my
expressing a wish to take him with me, and the Governor sanctioning his

This man had accompanied Captain Grey in all his expeditions on the
North-west coast of New Holland--and had been highly recommended by that
traveller; he was a wheelwright by trade, and being a soldier was likely
to prove a useful and valuable addition to my party; and I afterwards
found him a most obliging, willing and attentive person.

To the Governor and to the Committee of colonists I owe many thanks, for
the very flattering and gratifying confidence they reposed in me, a
confidence which left me as unrestricted in my detail of outfit and
equipment, as I was unfettered in my plan of operations in the field.
This enabled me to avoid unnecessary delays, and to hasten every thing
forward as rapidly as possible, so that when requested by the Governor to
name a day for my departure I was enabled to fix upon the 18th of June.

Having already done all in their power to forward and assist the
equipment and arrangement of the expedition, the Governor and Mrs. Gawler
were determined still further to increase the heavy debt of gratitude
which I was already under to them, by inviting myself and party to meet
the friends of the expedition at Government House on the morning of our
departure, that by a public demonstration of interest in our welfare, we
might be encouraged in the undertaking upon which we were about to
enter--and might be stimulated to brave the perils to which we should
shortly be exposed, by a remembrance of the sympathy expressed in our
behalf, and the pledge we should come under to the public upon leaving
the abode of civilised man, for the unknown and trackless region which
lay before us.

On the 15th of June I attended a meeting of the Committee, and presented
for audit the accounts of the expenditure incurred up to that date. On
the 16th I had a sale of all my private effects, furniture, etc. by
auction, and arranged my affairs in the best way that the very limited
time at my disposal would permit.

The 17th found me still with plenty of work to do, as there were many
little matters to attend to at the last, which the best exertions could
not sooner set aside.

Mr. Scott, who ever since the commencement of our preparations, had been
most indefatigable and useful in his exertions, was even still more
severely tasked on this day; at night, however, we were all amply
rewarded, by seeing every thing completely and satisfactorily
arranged--the bustle, confusion, and excitement over, and our drays all
loaded, and ready to commence on the morrow a journey of which the
length, the difficulty, and the result, were all a problem yet to be

In the short space of seventeen days from the first commencement of our
preparations, we had completely organized and fully equipped a party for
interior exploration. Every thing had been done in that short time men
hired, horses sought out and selected, drays prepared, saddlery, harness,
and the thousand little things required on such journeys, purchased,
fitted and arranged. In that short time too, the Colonists had subscribed
and collected the sum of five hundred pounds towards defraying the
expenses, exclusive of the Government contribution of 100 pounds.

Unfortunately, at the time the expedition was undertaken, every thing in
South Australia was excessively dear, and the cost of its outfit was
therefore much greater in 1840, than it would have been any year since
that period; nine horses (including a Timor pony, subsequently procured
at Port Lincoln) cost 682 pounds 10 shillings, whilst all other things
were proportionably expensive. After the expedition had terminated and
the men's wages and other expenses had been paid, the gross outlay
amounted to 1391 pounds 0 shillings 7 pence:--of this

Amount of Donation from Government was                 100 00 00
Amount of Subscriptions of the Colonists               582 04 09
Sale of the Drays and part of the Equipment             28 00 00
Amount paid by myself                                  680 15 10
Total                                                 1391 00 07

In addition to this expenditure, considerable as it was, there were very
many things obtained from various sources, which though of great value
did not come into the outlay already noted. Among these were two horses
supplied by the Government, and three supplied by myself, making with the
nine bought for 682 pounds 10 shillings, a total of fourteen horses. The
very valuable services of the cutters "HERO" and "WATERWITCH," were
furnished by the Government; who also supplied all our arms and
ammunition, with a variety of other stores. From my many friends I
received donations of books and instruments, and I was myself enabled to
supply from my own resources a portion of the harness, saddlery, tools,
and tarpaulins, together with a light cart and a tent.

June 18.--Calling my party up early, I ordered the horses to be
harnessed, and yoked to the drays, at half past nine the whole party,
(except the overseer who was at a station up the country) proceeded to
Government House, where the drays were halted for the men to partake of a
breakfast kindly provided for them by His Excellency and Mrs. Gawler,
whilst myself and Mr. Scott joined the very large party invited to meet
us in the drawing room.

The following account of the proceedings of the morning, taken from the
South Australian Register, of the 20th June, may perhaps be read with
interest; at least it will shew the disinterested spirit and enterprising
character of the colonists of South Australia, even at this early stage
of its history, and especially how much the members of our little party
were indebted to the kindness and good feeling of the Governor and
colonists, who were anxious to cheer and stimulate us under the
difficulties and trails we had to encounter, by their earnest wishes and
prayers for our safety and success.


The arrangements for the expedition into the interior, undertaken by Mr.
Eyre, having been completed, His Excellency the Governor and Mrs. Gawler
issued cards to a number of the principal colonists and personal friends
of Mr. Eyre, to meet him at Government House on the morning of his
departure. On Thursday last accordingly (the anniversary of Waterloo, in
which His Excellency and the gallant 52nd bore so conspicuous a part) a
very large party of ladies and gentlemen assembled. After an elegant
DEJEUNER A LA FOURCHETTE, His Excellency the Governor rose and spoke as
nearly as we could collect, as follows:--

"We are assembled to promote one of the most important undertakings that
remain to be accomplished on the face of the globe--the discovery of the
interior of Australia. As Captain Sturt in substance remarked in a recent
lecture, of the five great divisions of the earth, Europe is well known;
Asia and America have been generally searched out; the portion that
remains to be known of Africa is generally unfavourable for Europeans,
and probably unfit for colonization; but Australia, our great island
continent, with a most favourable climate, still remains unpenetrated,
mysterious, and unknown. Without doing injustice to the enterprising
attempts of Oxley, Sturt, and Mitchell, I must remark that they were
commenced from a very unfavourable point--from the eastern and almost
south-eastern extremity of the island--and consequently the great
interior still remains untouched by them, the south-eastern corner alone
having been investigated. As Captain Sturt some years since declared,
this Province is the point from which expeditions to the deep interior
should set out. This principle, I know, has been acknowledged by
scientific men in Europe; and it is most gratifying to see the spirit
with which our Colonists on the present occasion have answered to the
claim which their position imposes upon them. Mr. Eyre goes forth this
day, to endeavour to plant the British flag--the flag which in the whole
world has "braved for a thousand years the battle and the breeze"--on the
tropic of Capricorn (as nearly as possible in 135 degrees or 136 degrees
of longitude) in the very centre of our island continent. On this day
twenty-five years since, commencing almost at this very hour, the British
flag braved indeed the battle, and at length floated triumphant in
victory on the field of Waterloo. May a similar glorious success attend
the present undertaking! Mr. Eyre goes forth to brave a battle of a
different kind, but which in the whole, may present dangers equal to
those of Waterloo. May triumph crown his efforts, and may the British
flag, planted by him in the centre of Australia, wave for another
thousand years over the pence and prosperity of the mighty population
which immigration is pouring in upon us! Of the immediate results of his
journey, no one, indeed, can at present form a solid conjecture. Looking
to the dark side, he may traverse a country useless to man; but
contemplating the bright side, and remembering that but a few years since
Sturt, setting off on an equally mysterious course, laid the foundation
for the large community in which we dwell, it is in reason to hope that
Mr. Eyre will discover a country which may derive support from us, and
increase the prosperity of our Province. I must express my gratification
at the manner in which this enterprise, noble, let its results be what
they may, has been supported by our colonists at large. It is a greater
honor to be at the head of the government of a colony of enlightened and
enterprising men, than at that of an empire of enslaved and ignorant
beings in the form of men. I count it so. May the zeal which has been
exhibited in the colony in the promotion of every good and useful work
ever continue. Some ladies of Adelaide have worked a British Union Jack
for Mr. Eyre. Captain Sturt will be their representative to present it to
him. After that we will adjourn to the opposite rooms to invoke a
blessing on the enterprise. All here, and I believe the whole colony,
give to Mr. Eyre their best wishes, but to good wishes right-minded men
always add fervent prayers. There is an Almighty invisible Being in whose
hands are all events--man may propose, but it is for God only to
dispose--let us therefore implore his protection."

"The Hon. Captain Sturt then received a very handsome Union Jack, neatly
worked in silk; and presenting it to Mr. Eyre, spoke nearly as follows:--

"It cannot but be gratifying to me to be selected on such an occasion as
this, to perform so prominent a part in a duty the last a community can
discharge towards one who, like you, is about to risk your life for its
good. I am to deliver to you this flag, in the name of the ladies who
made it, with their best wishes for your success, and their earnest
prayers for your safety. This noble colour, the ensign of our country,
has cheered the brave on many an occasion. It has floated over every
shore of the known world, and upon every island of the deep. But you have
to perform a very different, and a more difficult duty. You have to carry
it to the centre of a mighty continent, there to leave it as a sign to
the savage that the footstep of civilized man has penetrated so far. Go
forth, then, on your journey, with a full confidence in the goodness of
Providence; and may Heaven direct your steps to throw open the fertility
of the interior, not only for the benefit of the Province, but of our
native country; and may the moment when you unfurl this colour for the
purpose for which it was given to you, be as gratifying to you as the

"Mr. Eyre, visibly and deeply affected, returned his warmest thanks, and
expressed his sense of the kindness he had received on the present
occasion. He hoped to be able to plant the flag he had just received in
the centre of this continent. If he failed, he should, he hoped, have the
cousciousness of having earnestly endeavoured to succeed. To His
Excellency the Governor, his sincere thanks were due for the promptitude
with which so much effectual assistance to the expedition had been
rendered. Mr. Eyre also begged leave to return his thanks to the
Colonists who had so liberally supported the enterprise; and concluded by
expressing his trust that, through the blessing of God, he would be
enabled to return to them with a favourable report of the country into
which he was about to penetrate.

"The company then returned to the library and drawing-room, where the
Colonial Chaplain, the Rev. C. B. Howard, offered up an affecting and
appropriate prayer, and at twelve precisely, Mr. Eyre, accompanied by a
very large concourse of gentlemen on horseback, left Government House,
under the hearty parting cheers of the assembled party."

Leaving Government House under the hearty cheers of the very large
concourse assembled to witness our departure outside the grounds; Mr.
Scott, myself, and two native boys (the drays having previously gone on)
proceeded on horseback on our route, accompanied by a large body of
gentlemen on horseback, and ladies in carriages, desirous of paying us
the last kind tribute of friendship by a farewell escort of a few miles.

At first leaving Government House we had moved on at a gentle canter, but
were scarcely outside the gates, before the cheering of the people, the
waving of hats, and the rush of so many horses, produced an emulation in
the noble steeds that almost took from us the control of their pace, as
we dashed over the bridge and up the hill in North Adelaide--it was a
heart-stirring and inspiriting scene. Carried away by the enthusiasm of
the moment, our thoughts and feelings were wrought to the highest state
of excitement.

The time passed rapidly away, the first few miles were soon travelled
over,--then came the halt,--the parting,--the last friendly cheer;--and
we were alone in the wilderness. Our hearts were too full for
conversation, and we wended on our way slowly and in silence to overtake
the advance party.

Chapter II.


June 18.--The party having left Adelaide late in the forenoon, and it
being the first day of working the horses, I did not wish to make a long
stage; having followed the usual road, therefore, as far as the little
Parra, the drays were halted upon that watercourse (after a journey of
about twelve miles), and we then proceeded to bivouac for the first time.
For the first time too since I had engaged to command the expedition, I
had leisure to reflect upon the prospects before me.

During the hurry and bustle of preparation, and in the enthusiasm of
departure, my mind was kept constantly on the stretch, and I had no time
for calm and cool consideration, but now that all was over and the
journey actually commenced, I was again able to collect my thoughts and
to turn my most serious and anxious attention to the duty I had
undertaken. The last few days had been so fraught with interest and
occupation, and the circumstances of our departure this morning, had been
so exciting, that when left to my own reflections, the whole appeared to
me more like a dream than a reality. The change was so great, the
contrast so striking. From the crowded drawing room of civilized life, I
had in a few hours been transferred to the solitude and silence of the
wilds, and from being but an unit in the mass of a large community, I had
suddenly become isolated with regard to the world, which, so far as I was
concerned, consisted now only of the few brave men who accompanied me,
and who were dependant for their very existence upon the energy and
perseverance and prudence with which I might conduct the task assigned to
me. With this small, but gallant and faithful band, I was to attempt to
penetrate the vast recesses of the interior of Australia, to try to lift
up the veil which has hitherto shrouded its mysteries from the researches
of the traveller, and to endeavour to plant that flag which has floated
proudly in all the known parts of the habitable globe, in the centre of a
region as yet unknown, and unvisited save by the savage or the wild

Those only who have been placed in similar circumstances can at all
appreciate the feelings which they call forth. The hopes, fears, and
anxieties of the leader of an exploring party, must be felt to be
understood, when he is about to commence an undertaking which MUST be one
of difficulty and danger, and which MAY be of doubtful and even fatal

The toil, care, and anxiety devolving upon him are of no ordinary
character; everyday removes him further from the pale of civilization and
from aid or assistance of any kind--whilst each day too diminishes the
strength of his party and the means at his command, and thus renders him
less able to provide against or cope with the difficulties that may beset
him. A single false step, the least error of judgment, or the slightest
act of indiscretion might plunge the expedition into inextricable
difficulty or danger, or might defeat altogether the object in view.
Great indeed was the responsibility I had undertaken--and most fully did
I feel sensible of the many and anxious duties that devolved upon me. The
importance and interest attached to the solution of the geographical
problem connected with the interior of Australia, would, I well knew,
engage the observation of the scientific world. If I were successful, the
accomplishment of what I had undertaken would more than repay me in
gratification for the toil and hazard of the enterprise--but if otherwise
I could not help feeling that, however far the few friends who knew me
might give me credit for exertion or perseverance, the world at large
would be apt to reason from the result, and to make too little allowance
for difficulties and impediments, of the magnitude of which from
circumstances they could be but incompetent judges.

With such thoughts as these, and revolving in my mind our future plans,
our chances of success or otherwise, it will not be deemed surprising,
that notwithstanding the fatigue and care I had gone through during the
last fortnight of preparation, sleep should long remain a stranger to my
pillow; and when all nature around me was buried in deep repose I alone
was waking and anxious.

From former experience in a personal examination of the nature of the
country north of the head of Spencer's Gulf, during the months of May and
June, 1839, I had learnt that the farther the advance to the north, the
more dreary and desolate the appearance of the country became, and the
greater was the difficulty, both of finding and of obtaining access to
either water or grass. The interception of the singular basin of Lake
Torrens, which I had discovered formed a barrier to the westward, and
commencing near the head of Spencer's Gulf, was connected with it by a
narrow channel of mud and water. This lake apparently increased in width
as it stretched away to the northward, as far as the eye could reach,
when viewed from the farthest point attained by me in 1839, named by
Colonel Gawler, Mount Eyre. Dreary as had been the view I then obtained,
and cheerless as was the prospect from that elevation, there was one
feature in the landscape, which still gave me hope that something might
be done in that direction, and had in fact been my principal inducement
to select a line nearly north from Spencer's Gulf, for our route on the
present expedition; this feature was the continuation, and the
undiminished elevation of the chain of hills forming Flinders range,
running nearly parallel with the course of Lake Torrens, and when last
seen by me stretching far to the northward and eastward in a broken and
picturesque outline.

It was to this chain of hills that I now looked forward as the
stepping-stone to the interior. In its continuation were centered all my
hopes of success, because in its recesses alone could I hope to obtain
water and grass for my party. The desert region I had seen around its
base, gave no hope of either, and though the basin of Lake Torrens
appeared to be increasing so much in extent to the northward, I had seen
nothing to indicate its terminating within any practicable distance, in a
deep or navigable water. True the whole of the drainage from Flinders
range, as far as was yet known, emptied into its basin, but such was the
arid and sandy nature of the region through which it passed, that a great
part of the moisture was absorbed, whilst the low level of the basin of
the lake, apparently the same as that of the sea itself, forbade even the
most distant hope of the water being fresh, should any be found in its

It was in reflections and speculations such as these, that many hours of
the night of my first encampment with the party passed away. The kindness
of the Governor and our many friends had been so unbounded; their anxiety
for our safety and comfort so great; their good wishes for our success so
earnest, and their confidence in our exertions, so implicit, that I could
not but look forward with apprehension, lest the success of our efforts
might not equal what our gratitude desired, and even now I began to be
fearful that the high expectations raised by the circumstances of our
departure might not be wholly realised.

We had fairly commenced our arduous undertaking, and though the party
might appear small for the extent of the exploration contemplated, yet no
expedition could have started under more favourable or more cheering
auspices; provided with every requisite which experience pointed out as
desirable, and with every comfort which excess of kindness could suggest,
we left too, with a full sense of the difficulties before us, but with a
firm determination to overcome them, if possible. And I express but the
sentiments of the whole party when I say, that we felt the events of the
day of our departure, and the recollection of the anxiety and interest
with which our friends were anticipating our progress, and hoping for our
success, would be cherished as our watchword in the hour of danger, and
bethe incentive to perseverance and labour, when more than ordinary
trials should call for our exertions. The result we were willing to leave
in the hands of that Almighty Being whose blessing had been implored upon
our undertaking, and to whom we looked for guidance and protection in all
our wanderings.

June 19.--On mustering the horses this morning it was found, that one or
two had been turned loose without hobbles, and being fresh and high fed
from the stables, they gave us a great deal of trouble before we could
catch them, but at last we succeeded, and the party moved on upon the
road to Gawler town, arriving there (12 miles) about noon; at this place
we halted for half an hour, at the little Inn to lunch, and this being
the last opportunity we should have of entering a house for many months
to come, I was anxious to give my men the indulgence. After lunch I again
moved on the party for five miles, crossing and encamping upon, a branch
of the Parra or Gawler, where we had abundance of good water and grass.

June 20.--Having a long stage before us to-day, I moved on the party very
early, leaving all roads, and steering across the bush to my sheep
stations upon the Light. We passed through some very fine country, the
verdant and beautiful herbage of which, at this season of the year,
formed a carpet of rich and luxuriant vegetation. Having crossed the
grassy and well wooded ranges which confine the waters of the Light to
the westward, we descended to the plain, and reached my head station
about sunset, after a long and heavy stage of twenty miles--here we were
to remain a couple of days to break up the station, as the sheep were
sold, and the overseer and one of the men were to join the Expedition

The night set in cold and rainy, but towards morning turned to a severe
frost; one of the native boys who had been sent a short cut to the
station ahead of the drays, lost his road and was out in the cold all
night--an unusual circumstance, as a native will generally keep almost as
straight a direction through the wilds as a compass will point.

Sunday, June 21.--We remained in camp. The day was cold, the weather
boisterous, with showers of rain at intervals, and the barometer falling;
our delay enabled me to write letters to my various friends, before
finally leaving the occupied parts of the country, I was glad too, to
give the horses and men a little rest after the fatigue they had endured
yesterday in crossing the country.

June 22.--As we still remained in camp, the day being dark and cloudy
with occasional showers, I took the opportunity of having one of the
drays boarded close up, and of re-arranging the loads, oiling the
fire-arms, and grinding the axes, spades, etc.; we completed our
complement of tools, tents, tarpaulins, etc. from those at the station,
and had everything arranged on the drays in the most convenient manner,
always having in view safety in carriage and facility of access; the best
place for the fire-arms I found to be at the outside of the sides, the
backs, or the fronts, of those drays that were close boarded.

By nailing half a large sheepskin with the wool on in any of these
positions, a soft cushion was formed for the fire-arms to rest against,
they were then fixed in their places by a loop of leather for the muzzle,
and a strap and buckle for the stock; whilst the other half of the
sheepskin which hung loose, doubled down in front of the weapons. between
them and the wheel, effectually preserving them from both dirt and wet,
and at the same time keeping them in a position, where they could be got
at in a moment, by simply lifting up the skin and unbuckling the strap;
by this means too, all danger or risk was avoided, which usually exists
when the fire-arms are put on or off the drays in a loaded state. I have
myself formerly seen carbines explode more than once from the cocks
catching something, in being pulled out from, or pushed in amidst the
load of a dray, independently of the difficulty of getting access to them
in cases of sudden emergency; a still better plan than the one I adopted,
would probably be to have lockers made for the guns, to hang in similar
places, and in a somewhat similar manner to that I have described, but in
this case it would be necessary for the lockers to be arranged and fitted
at the time the drays or carts were made.

All the time I could spare from directing or superintending the loading
of the drays, I devoted to writing letters and making arrangements for
the regulation of my private affairs, which from the sudden manner in
which I had engaged in the exploring expedition, and from the busy and
hurried life I had led since the commencement of the preparations, had
fallen into some confusion. I was now, however, obliged to content myself
with such a disposition of them as the time and circumstances enabled me
to make.--I observed the latitude of the station to be 34 degrees 15
minutes 56 seconds S.

June 23.--Having got all the party up very early, I broke up the station,
and sent one man on horseback into Adelaide with despatches and letters.
My overseer and another man were now added to the party, making up our
complement in number. Upon re-arranging the loads of the drays yesterday,
I had found it inconvenient to have the instruments and tent equipage
upon the more heavily loaded drays, and I therefore decided upon taking
an extra cart and another horse from the station. This completed our
alterations, and the party and equipment stood thus:--

Mr. Eyre.
Mr. Scott, my assistant and companion.
John Baxter, Overseer.
Corporal Coles, R.S. and M.
John Houston, driving a three horse dray.
R. M'Robert, driving a three horse dray.
Neramberein and Cootachah,
           Aboriginal boys, to drive the sheep, track, etc.

We had with us 13 horses and 40 sheep, and our other stores were
calculated for about three months; in addition to which we were to have a
further supply forwarded to the head of Spencer's Gulf by sea, in the
WATERWITCH, to await our arrival in that neighbourhood. This would give
us the means of remaining out nearly six months, if we found the country
practicable, and in that time we might, if no obstacles intervened,
easily reach the centre of the Continent and return, or if practicable,
cross to Port Essington on the N. W. coast.

About eleven I moved on the party up the Light for 8 miles, and then
halted after an easy stage. As the horses were fresh and the men were not
yet accustomed to driving them, I was anxious to move quietly on at
first, that nothing might be done in a hurry, and every one might
gradually settle down to what he had to perform, and that thus by a
little care and moderation at first, those evils, which my former
travelling had taught me were frequently the result of haste or
inexperience, might be avoided. Nothing is more common than to get the
withers of horses wrung, or their shoulders and backs galled at the
commencement of a journey, and nothing more difficult than to effect a
cure of this mischief whilst the animals are in use. By the precaution
which I adopted, I succeeded in preventing this, for the present.

As we passed up the valley of the Light, we had some rich and picturesque
scenery around us--the fertile vale running nearly north and south,
backed to the westward by well wooded irregular ranges grassed to their
summits, and to the eastward shut in by a dark looking and more heavily
timbered range, beyond which rose two peaks of more distant hills,
through the centre of the valley the Light took its course, but at
present it was only a chain of large ponds unconnected by any stream; and
thus, I believe, it remains the greater part of the year, although
occasionally swollen to a broad and rapid current.

June 24.--The horses having strayed a little this morning, and given us
some trouble to get them, it was rather late when we started; we,
however, crossed the low ridges at the head of the Light, and entering
upon extensive plains to the north, we descended to a channel, which I
took to be the head of a watercourse called the "Gilbert."

Finding here some tolerably good water and abundance of grass, I halted
the party for the night, though we were almost wholly without firewood,
an inconvenience that we felt considerably, as the nights now were very
cold and frosty. Our stage had been fourteen miles to-day, running at
first over low barren ridges, and then crossing rich plains of a loose
brown soil, but very heavy for the drays to travel over.

At our camp, a steep bank of the watercourse presented an extensive
geological section, but there was nothing remarkable in it, the substrata
consisting only of a kind of pipe clay.

June 25.--Upon starting this morning we traversed a succession of fine
open and very grassy plains, from which we ascended the low ridges
forming the division of the waters to the north and south. In the latter
direction, we had left the heads of the "Gilbert" and "Wakefield" chains
of ponds, whilst in descending in the former we came upon the "Hill," a
fine chain of ponds taking its course through a very extensive and grassy
valley, but with little timber of any kind growing near it. On this
account I crossed it, and passing on a little farther encamped the party
on a branch of the "Hutt," and within a mile and a half of the main
course of that chain of ponds. Our whole route to-day, had been through a
fine and valuable grazing district, with grass of an excellent
description, and of great luxuriance.

We were now nearly opposite to the most northerly of the out stations,
and after seeing the party encamp, I proceeded, accompanied by Mr. Scott,
to search for the stations for the purpose of saying good bye to a few
more of my friends. We had not long, however, left the encampment when it
began to rain and drove us back to the tents, effectually defeating the
object with which we had commenced our walk. Heavy rain was apparently
falling to the westward of us, and the night set in dark and lowering.

In some parts of the large plains we had crossed in the morning, I had
observed traces of the remains of timber, of a larger growth than any now
found in the same vicinity, and even in places where none at present
exists. Can these plains of such very great extent, and now so open and
exposed, have been once clothed with timber? and if so, by what cause, or
process, have they been so completely denuded, as not to leave a single
tree within a range of many miles? In my various wanderings in Australia,
I have frequently met with very similar appearances; and somewhat
analogous to these, are the singular little grassy openings, or plains,
which are constantly met with in the midst of the densest Eucalyptus

Every traveller in those dreary regions has appreciated these, (to him)
comparatively speaking, oasises of the desert--for it is in them alone,
that he can hope to obtain any food for his jaded horse; without,
however, their affording under ordinary circumstances, the prospect of
water for himself. Forcing his way through the dense, and apparently
interminable scrub, formed by the Eucalyptus dumosa, (which in some
situations is known to extend for fully 100 miles), the traveller
suddenly emerges into an open plain, sprinkled over with a fine silky
grass, varying from a few acres to many thousands in extent, but
surrounded on all sides by the dreary scrub he has left.

In these plains I have constantly traced the remains of decayed
scrub--generally of a larger growth than that surrounding them--and
occasionally appearing to have grown very densely together. From this it
would appear that the face of the country in those low level regions,
occupied by the Eucalyptus dumosa, is gradually undergoing a process
which is changing it for the better, and in the course of centuries
perhaps those parts of Australia which are now barren and worthless, may
become rich and fertile districts, for as soon as the scrub is removed
grass appears to spring up spontaneously. The plains found interspersed
among the dense scrubs may probably have been occasioned by fires,
purposely or accidentally lighted by the natives in their wanderings, but
I do not think the same explanation would apply to those richer plains
where the timber has been of a large growth and the trees in all
probability at some distance apart--here fires might burn down a few
trees, but would not totally annihilate them over a whole district,
extending for many miles in every direction.

June 26.--This morning brought a very heavy fog, through which we
literally could not see 100 yards, when the party moved on to the "Hutt"
chain of ponds, and then followed that watercourse up to the Broughton
river, which was crossed in Lat. 33 degrees 28 minutes S. At this point
the bed of the Broughton is of considerable width, and its channel is
occupied by long, wide and very deep water holes, connected with one
another by a strongly running stream, which seldom or never fails even in
the driest seasons. The soil upon its banks however is not valuable,
being generally stony and barren, and bearing a sort of prickly grass,
(Spinifex). Wild fowl abound on the pools. On a former occasion, when I
first discovered the Broughton, I obtained both ducks and swans from its
waters, but now I had no time for sporting, being anxious to push on to
the "reedy watercourse," a halting place in my former journey, so as to
get over all the rough and hilly ground before nightfall, that we might
have a fair start in the morning. I generally preferred, if practicable,
to lengthen the stage a little in the vicinity of watercourses or hills,
in order to get the worst of the road over whilst the horses worked
together and were warm, rather than leave a difficult country to be
passed over the first thing in the morning, when, for want of exercise,
the teams are chill and stiff, and require to be stimulated before they
will work well in unison. Our journey to-day was about twenty miles, and
the last five being over a rugged hilly road, it was late in the
afternoon when we halted for the night.

"The reedy watercourse," is a chain of water-holes taking its rise among
some grassy and picturesque ranges to the north of us, and trending
southerly to a junction with the Broughton. Among the gorges of this
range, (which I had previously named Campbell's range,)[Note 1: After
R. Campbell, Esq. M. C. of Sydney.] are many springs of water,
and the scenery is as picturesque as the district is fertile.
Many of the hills are well rounded, very grassy, and moderately well
timbered even to their summits. This is one of the prettiest and most
desirable localities for either sheep or cattle, that I have yet seen in
the unoccupied parts of South Australia, whilst the distance from
Adelaide by land, does not at the most exceed one hundred and twenty
miles. [Note 2: All this country, and for some distance to the
north, is now occupied by stations.] The watercourse near our camp took
its course through an open valley, between bare hills on which there was
neither tree nor shrub for firewood and we were constantly obliged to go
half a mile up a steep hill before we could obtain a few stunted bushes to
cook with. As the watercourse approached the Broughton the country became
much more abrupt and broken, and after its junction with that river, the
stream wound through a succession of barren and precipitous hills, for
about fifteen miles, at a general course of south-west; these hills were
overrun almost everywhere with prickly grass and had patches of the
Eucalyptus dumosa scattered over them at intervals.

Up to the point where it left the hills, there were ponds of water in the
bed of the Broughton, but upon leaving them the river changed its
direction to the northward, passing through extensive plains and
retaining a deep wide gravelly channel, but without surface water, the
drainage being entirely underground, and the country around comparatively
poor and valueless.

Chapter III.


During the night the frost had been so severe, that we were obliged to
wait a little this morning for the sun to thaw the tent and tarpaulins
before they would bend to fold up. After starting, we proceeded across a
high barren open country, for about three miles on a W. N. W. course,
passing close under a peak connected with Campbell's range, which I named
Spring Hill, from the circumstance of a fine spring of water being found
about half way up it.

Not far from the spring I discovered a poor emaciated native, entirely
alone, without either food or fire, and evidently left by his tribe to
perish there; he was a very aged man, and from hardship and want was
reduced to a mere skeleton, how long he had been on the spot where we
found him I had no means of ascertaining, but probably for some time, as
life appeared to be fast ebbing away; he seemed almost unconscious of our
presence, and stared upon us with a vacant unmeaning gaze. The pleasures
or sorrows of life were for ever over with him: his case was far beyond
the reach of human aid, and the probability is that he died a very few
hours after we left him.

Such is the fate of the aged and helpless in savage life, nor can we
wonder that it should be so, since self-preservation is the first law of
nature, and the wandering native who has to travel always over a great
extent of ground to seek for his daily food, could not obtain enough to
support his existence, if obliged to remain with the old or the sick, or
if impeded by the incumbrance of carrying them with him; still I felt
grieved for the poor old man we had left behind us, and it was long
before I could drive away his image from my mind, or repress the
melancholy train of thoughts that the circumstance had called forth.

From the summit of Spring Hill, I observed extensive plains to the N. W.
skirted both on their eastern and western sides, by open hills, whilst to
the N. W. and N. E. the ranges were high, and apparently terminated in
both directions by peaked summits on their eastern extremes; a little
south of west the waters of Spencer's Gulf were distinctly visible, and
the smokes ascending from the fires of the natives, were seen in many
directions among the hills. After passing Spring Hill, we crossed some
rich and extensive plains, stretching far away to the northward, and
taking a nearly north and south direction under Campbell's range; in the
upper part of these plains is the deep bed of a watercourse with water in
it all the year round, and opposite to which, in lat. 33 degrees 14
minutes S, is a practicable pass for drays through Campbell's range, to
the grassy country to the eastward.

June 27.--In crossing the southern extremity of these large plains, we
came suddenly upon a small party of natives engaged in digging yams of
which the plains were full; they were so intent upon their occupation
that we were close to them before they were aware of our presence; when
they saw us they appeared to be surprised and alarmed, and endeavoured to
steal off as rapidly as they could without fairly taking to their heels,
for they were evidently either unwilling or afraid to run; finding that
we did not molest them they halted, and informed us by signs that we
should soon come to water, in the direction we were going. This I knew to
be true, and about three o'clock we were in front of a water-course, I
had on a former journey named the "Rocky river," from the ragged
character of its bed where we struck it.

We had been travelling for some distance upon a high level open country,
and now came to a sudden gorge of several hundred feet below us, through
which the Rocky river wound its course. It was a most singular and wild
looking place, and was not inaptly named by the men, the "Devil's Glen;"
looking down from the table land we were upon, the valley beneath
appeared occupied by a hundred little hills of steep ascent and rounded
summits, whilst through their pretty glens, flowed the winding stream,
shaded by many a tree and shrub--the whole forming a most interesting and
picturesque scene.

The bed of the watercourse was over an earthy slate, and the water had a
sweetish taste. Like most of the Australian rivers, it consisted only of
ponds connected by a running stream, and even that ceased to flow a
little beyond where we struck it, being lost in the deep sandy channel
which it then assumed, and which exhibited in many places traces of very
high floods. Below our camp the banks were 50 to 60 feet high, and the
width from 60 to 100 yards, its course lay through plains to the
south-west, over which patches of scrub were scattered at intervals, and
the land in its vicinity was of an inferior description, with much
prickly grass growing upon it.

Upwards, the Rocky river, after emerging from the gorges in which we
found it, descended through very extensive plains from the
north-north-east; there was plenty of water in its bed, and abundance of
grass over the plains, so that in its upper parts it offers fine and
extensive runs for either cattle or sheep, and will, I have no doubt, ere
many years be past, be fully occupied for pastoral purposes.

From our present encampment a very high and pointed hill was visible far
to the N.N. W. this from the lofty way in which it towered above the
surrounding hills, I named Mount Remarkable. Our latitude at noon was 33
degrees 25 minutes 26 seconds S.

A very beautiful shrub was found this afternoon upon the Rocky river, in
full flower: it was a tall slender stalked bush, about six or eight feet
high, growing almost in the bed of the river, with leaves like a
geranium, and fine delicate lilac flowers about an inch and a half in
diameter; here, too, we found the first gum-trees seen upon any of the
watercourses for many miles, as all those we had recently crossed,
traversed open plains which were quite without either trees or shrubs of
any kind.

June 28.--This morning we passed through a country of an inferior
description, making a short stage to a watercourse, named by me the
"Crystal Brook;" it was a pretty stream emanating from the hills to the
north-east, and marked in its whole course through the plains to the
northward and westward by lines of gum-trees. The pure bright water ran
over a bed of clear pebbles, with a stream nine feet wide, rippling and
murmuring like the rivulets of England--a circumstance so unusual in the
character of Australian watercourses, that it interested and pleased the
whole party far more than a larger river would have done; this
characteristic did not, however, long continue, for like all the streams
we had lately crossed, the water ceased to flow a short distance beyond
our crossing place.

The country below us, like that through which the Rocky river took its
course, was open and of an inferior description, but I have no doubt that
by tracing the stream upwards, towards its source among the ranges, a
good and well watered country would be found; I ascertained the latitude
by a meridian altitude at Crystal brook to be 33 degrees 18 minutes 7
seconds S.

The hills on the opposite side of Spencer's Gulf were now plainly
visible, and one which appeared to be inland, I took to be the middle
Back mountain of Flinders; between our camp and the eastern shores of the
gulf, the land was generally low, with a good deal of scrub upon it, and
nearer the shores appeared to be swampy, and subject to inundation by the

June 29.--Upon moving from our camp this morning we commenced following
under Flinders range. From Crystal brook, the hills rise gradually in
elevation as they trend to the northward, still keeping their western
slopes almost precipitous to the plains, out of which they appear to rise
abruptly. Our course was much embarrassed by the gullies and gorges
emanating from the hills, in some of which the crossing place was not
very good, and in all the horses got much shaken, so that when we arrived
at a large watercourse defined by gum trees, and in which was a round
hole of water that had been on a former occasion called by me "The Deep
Spring," I halted the party for the night and found that the horses were
a good deal fatigued. Fortunately there was excellent food for them, and
plenty of water. The place at which we encamped was upon one of the
numerous watercourses, proceeding from the gorges of Flinders range. It
had a wide gravelly bed, divided into two or three separate channels, but
without a drop of water below the base of the hills, excepting where we
bivouacked, at this point, there was a considerable extent of rich black
alluvial soil, and in the midst of it a mound of jet black earth,
surrounded by a few reeds. In the centre of the mound was a circular deep
hole containing water, and apparently a spring: the last time I was here,
in 1839 it was full to overflowing, but now, though in the depth of
winter, I was surprised and chagrined to see the water so much lower than
I had known it before. It was covered up too so carefully with bushes and
boughs, that it was evident the natives sometimes contemplated its being
quite dried up, [Note 3: In October 1842, I again passed this way, in
command of a party of Police sent overland to Port Lincoln, to search for
Mr. C. C. Dutton: the spring was then dried up completely.] and had taken
this means as the best they could adopt for shading and protecting the
water. On the other hand the numerous well beaten tracks leading to this
solitary pool appeared to indicate that there was no other water in the
neighbourhood. We saw kangaroos, pigeons and birds of various
descriptions, going to it in considerable number. At night too after dark
we found that a party of natives were watching also for an opportunity
to participate in so indispensable a necessary, which having secured,
they departed, and we saw nothing more of them. I observed the latitude
at this camp to be 33 degrees 7 minutes 14 seconds S. and the variation
8 degrees 53 minutes E.

June 30.--Our road to day was much better, and less interrupted by
gullies, though we still kept close under Flinders range. We traversed a
great extent of plain land which was generally stony, but grassy, and
tolerably well adapted for sheep runs. Several watercourses take their
rise from this range, with a westerly direction towards the gulf, these
were all dry when we crossed them, but their course was indicated by gum
trees, and as some of the channels were wide and large, and had strong
traces of occasional high floods, I rode for many miles down one of the
most promising, but without being able to find a drop of water. At noon
our latitude was 32 degrees 59 minutes 8 seconds, S.

Late in the afternoon we reached a watercourse, which I had previously
named "Myall Ponds," [Note 4: Myall is in some parts of New Holland, the
native name for the Acacia pendula.] from the many and beautiful Acacia
pendula trees that grew upon its banks. There I knew we could get water,
and at once halted the party for the night. Upon going to examine the
supply I was again disappointed at finding it so much less than when I had
been here in 1839. This did not augur well for our future prospects, and
gave me considerable anxiety relative to our future movements.

For some days past the whole party had fully entered upon their
respective duties, each knew exactly what he had to do, and was beginning
to get accustomed to its performance, so that every thing went on
smoothly and prosperously. My own time, when not personally engaged in
conducting the party, was occupied in keeping the journals and charts,
etc. in taking and working observations--in the daily register of the
barometer, thermometer, winds, and weather, and in collecting specimens
of flowers, or minerals. My young friend, Mr. Scott, was kept equally
busy; for in many of these duties he assisted me, and in some relieved me
altogether; the regular entry of the meteorological observations, and the
collecting of flowers or shrubs generally fell to his share;
independently of which he was the only sportsman in the party, and upon
his gun we were dependant for supplies of wallabies, pigeons, ducks, or
other game, to vary our bill of fare, and make the few sheep we had with
us hold out as long as possible. As a companion I could not have made a
better selection--young, active, and cheerful, I found him ever ready to
render me all the assistance in his power. At our present encampment,
several of a species of wallabie, very much resembling a hare in flavour,
were shot by Mr. Scott, but hitherto we had not succeeded in getting a

July 1.--To-day we travelled through a similar country to that we were in
yesterday, consisting of open plains and occasionally low scrub.
Kangaroos abounded in every direction. Our stage was eighteen miles to a
watercourse called by me the "Reedy water holes," from the circumstance
of reeds growing around the margin of the water. Upon arriving at this
place I was surprised to find a strongly running stream, where formerly
there had only been a reedy pond, although the two last watercourses we
had encamped at had been much reduced and dried up. When I had been here
in 1839, they were the running streams, and this only a pool, whilst
singularly enough there did not appear to have been more rain at one
place than the other.

We were now in full view of Spencer's gulf, but as yet could observe no
signs of the WATERWITCH, which was to meet us at the head of the gulf
with additional stores. At night I observed the latitude by altitude of a
Bootis to be 32 degrees 41 minutes 28 seconds S.

July 2.--We moved on for 15 miles over extensive plains, covered
principally with Rhagodia, and in some places stony, and halted early in
the afternoon at a large dry watercourse, coming out from Flinders range.
Though there was no water in this channel below the base of the hill, on
sending a party a mile and a half up it with spades and buckets, we got,
by digging in the gravelly bed, as much as sufficed for ourselves and
horses. At this camp I observed the variation to be 7 degrees
24 minutes E.

July 3.--During the night our horses had rambled a little, so that we
could not get away early, and as we had a long stage before us we were
obliged to push on to a late hour. At dark we arrived at my former depot
near Mount Arden, and took up our old position in the dry bed of the
watercourse, at the base of the hills from which it emanated; but we had
still to send the horses a mile and a half further up the gorge, over a
hilly and stony road, before we could either get water for ourselves or
them; it was therefore very late when the men returned, and the whole
party were a good deal fatigued, having travelled from Adelaide to Mount
Arden in 14 days, (deducting the two days in camp at the Light.) I now
ascertained the latitude of the depot to be 32 degrees 14 minutes S.

July 4.--Having mustered the horses this morning, I ordered an
arrangement to be entered into for taking them to the water twice a day,
and bringing down the supply required for the use of the party. Each
person undertook this duty in turn, and thus the labour was divided.
After breakfast I went up myself to examine the state of the water and
found great abundance in its bed; there were strong traces of recent and
high flooding, the drift timber being lodged among the bushes several
feet above the ordinary channel. The grass I was sorry to find was rather
old and dry, but still there was a very fair supply of it, a point of
great importance to us at a time when it was necessary to detain the
whole party for two or three weeks in depot, to enable me to examine the
country to the north; my former experience having convinced me that it
would be dangerous to attempt to push on, before ascertaining where grass
and water could be procured.

We had now travelled upwards of eighty miles under Flinders range, from
Crystal brook to Mount Arden, and hitherto the character of that range
had varied but little. High, rocky, and barren, it rises abruptly from
the plains, and so generally even is the country at its base, that we had
no difficulty in keeping our drays within a mile or two of it. This was
convenient, because we had not far to leave our line of route, when
compelled to send up among the ravines for water. The slopes of Flinders
range are steep and precipitous to the westward, and composed principally
of an argillaceous stone or grey quartz, very hard and ringing like metal
when struck with a hammer.

There was no vegetation upon these hills, excepting prickly grass, and
many were coated over so completely with loose stones that from the
steepness of the declivity it was unsafe, if not impossible to ascend
them. At one or two points in our routs I climbed up to the top of high
summits, but was not rewarded for my toil, the prospect being generally
cheerless and barren in the extreme, nor did the account given by Mr.
Brown of his ascent of Mount Brown in March 1802, tempt me to delay a day
to enable me to view the uninteresting prospect he had seen from the
summit of that hill--by far the highest peak in this part of Flinders

Having decided upon ridingon a head of my party to reconnoitre, as soon
as the WATERWITCH should arrive, I at once commenced my preparations, and
made the overseer put new shoes on the horses I intended to take with me.
The very stony character of the country we had been lately traversing and
the singularly hard nature of the stone itself, had caused the shoes to
wear out very rapidly, and there was hardly a horse in the teams that did
not now require new shoes; fortunately we had brought a very large supply
with us, and my overseer was a skilful and expeditious farrier. At dusk a
watch was set upon one of the hills near us, to look out for signals from
the WATERWITCH in the direction of Spencer's gulf, but none were seen.

July 4.--Whilst writing in my tent this evening, my attention was
attracted by the notes of swans, and upon going out I perceived a flight
of several of the black species coming up from the southward; when they
had got over the tents, they appeared to be alarmed and wheeled to the
eastward, but soon returning, they took a nearly due northerly course.
This was encouraging for us, and augured well for the existence of some
considerable body of water inland, but we hoped and expected that a few
days would perhaps give us a clue to the object of their flight.

Sunday, July 5.--A day of rest to all. In the afternoon I employed myself
in writing out instructions for the overseer during my absence, as also
for the master of the WATERWITCH, for whose arrival we now kept a
constant and anxious look out. In the evening about eight o'clock the
sentinel on the hill reported a fire on the opposite side of Spencer's
gulf. Upon receiving this intelligence I had blue lights exhibited, and
rockets fired, which in a little time were replied to by rockets from the
gulf and the lighting up of a second fire on shore assuring me at once of
the safe arrival of the cutter.

Chapter IV.


July 6.--BEING anxious to pursue my explorations, and unwilling to lose
another day solely for the purpose of receiving my letters, I sent down
my overseer to arrange about getting our stores up from the vessel, which
was about fourteen miles away, and to request the master to await my
return from the north, and in the interval employ himself in surveying
and sounding some salt water inlets, we had seen on the eastern shores of
the gulf in our route up under Flinders range.

Having made all necessary arrangements and wished Mr. Scott good bye, I
set off on horseback with the eldest of my native boys, taking a pack
horse to carry our provisions, and some oats for the horses. After
rounding a projecting corner of the range we passed Mount Arden, still
traversing open plains of great extent, and very stony. In some of these
plains we found large puddles of water much discoloured by the soil, so
that it was evident there had been heavy rains in this direction, though
we had none to the southward.

After travelling twenty-four miles we came to a large watercourse winding
from Flinders range through the plains, with its direction distinctly
marked out by the numerous gum-trees upon its banks. This was the "salt
watercourse" of my former journeys so called from the large reaches of
salt water in its bed a mile or two among the hills. By digging in the
gravelly bed of the channel, where the natives had scooped a small hole,
we got some tolerable water, and were enabled to give as much as they
required to our horses, but it was a slow and tedious operation. We could
get very little out at once, and had to give it to them to drink in the
black boy's duck frock, which answered the purpose of a bucket amazingly

There was not a blade of grass, or anything that the horses could eat
near this creek, so I was obliged to tie them up for the night, after
giving to each a feed of oats.

July 7.--Towards morning several showers of rain fell, and I found that I
had got a severe attack of rheumatism, which proved both troublesome and
painful. Pushing on for ten miles we reached the height standing out from
the main range which Colonel Gawler named Mount Eyre, from its having
been the limit of my first journey to the north in May 1839. This little
hill is somewhat detached, of considerable elevation, and with a bold
rocky overhanging summit to the southward. Having clambered to the top of
it, I had an extensive view, and took several bearings.

The region before us appeared to consist of a low sandy country without
either trees or shrubs, save a few stunted bushes. On the east this was
backed by high rugged ranges, very barren in appearance, and extending
northward as far as the eye could reach, beyond this level country to the
West, and stretching far to the north-west, appeared a broad glittering
stripe, looking like water, and constituting the bed of Lake Torrens. The
lake appeared to be about twenty-five miles off, and of considerable
breadth; but at so great distance, it was impossible to say whether there
was actually any water in it or not.

Having completed my observations we descended again to the plains
steering north-west for the lake. At two miles from Mount Eyre we found a
puddle of water in the midst of the plains, and halted at it for the
night. Our horses had good grass, but would not touch the water, which
was extremely thick and muddy. Upon trying it ourselves we found it was
not usable, even after it had been strained twice through a handkerchief,
whilst boiling only thickened it; it was a deep red colour, from the
soil, and was certainly an extraordinary and unpalatable mixture.

July 8.--Our horses having strayed this morning I sent the native boy to
look for them, but as he did not return in a reasonable time, I got
anxious and went after him myself, leaving the saddles and provisions at
our sleeping place. In about four miles I met the boy returning with the
runaways, which had rambled for several miles, though they had abundance
of good feed around the camp; fortunately we found every thing safe when
we got back, but if any natives had accidentally passed that way we
should probably have lost everything, and been left in very awkward

This is a risk I have frequently been obliged to incur, and is one of the
inconveniences resulting from so small a number as two travelling alone;
it it is not always practicable from want of grass to tether the horses,
and frequently when they are tethered the ropes break, and occasion the
necessity of both individuals leaving the encampment to search for them
at the same time.

Moving on to the N. W. by N. we passed over heavy sandy ridges, with
barren red plains between, and in one of the latter we found a puddle of
rain water, this upon tasting. I found to be rather saline from the
nature of the soil upon which it lay, the horses, however, drank it
readily, and we put some in a small keg for ourselves. The only
vegetation to be seen consisted of a few small stunted trees and shrubs,
and even these as we approached the vicinity of the lake disappeared
altogether, and gave place to Salsolaceous plants, the country being open
and barren in the extreme.

I found Lake Torrens completely girded by a steep sandy ridge, exactly
like the sandy ridges bounding the sea shore, no rocks or stones were
visible any where, but many saline coasts peeped out in the outer ridge,
and upon descending westerly to its basin, I found the dry bed of the
lake coated completely over with a crust of salt, forming one unbroken
sheet of pure white, and glittering brilliantly in the sun. On stepping
upon this I found that it yielded to the foot, and that below the surface
the bed of the lake consisted of a soft mud, and the further we advanced
to the westward the more boggy it got, so that at last it became quite
impossible to proceed, and I was obliged to return to the outer margin of
the lake without ascertaining whether there was water on the surface of
its bed further west or not.

The extraordinary deception caused by mirage and refraction, arising from
the state of the atmosphere in these regions, makes it almost impossible
to believe the evidence of one's own eyesight; but as far as I could
judge under these circumstances, it appeared to me that there was water
in the bed of the lake at a distance of four or five miles from where I
was, and at this point Lake Torrens was about fifteen or twenty miles
across, having high land bounding it to the west, seemingly a
continuation of the table land at the head of Spencer's gulf on its
western side.

Foiled in the hope of reaching the water, I stood gazing on the dismal
prospect before me with feelings of chagrin and gloom. I can hardly say I
felt disappointed, for my expectations in this quarter had never been
sanguine; but I could not view unmoved, a scene which from its character
and extent, I well knew must exercise a great influence over my future
plans and hopes: the vast area of the lake was before me interminable as
far as the eye could see to the northward, and the country upon its
shore, was desolate and forbidding.

It was evident, that I could never hope to take my party across the lake,
and it was equally evident, that I should not be able to travel around
its shores, from the total absence of all fresh water, grass, or wood,
whilst the very saline nature of the soil in the surrounding country,
made even the rain water salt, after lying for an hour or two upon the
ground. My only chance of success now lay in the non-termination of
Flinders range, and in the prospect it held out to me, that by continuing
our course along it we might be able to procure grass and water in its
recesses, until we were either taken beyond Lake Torrens, or led to some
practicable opening to the north.

With a heavy heart I turned towards the mountains, and steering N. E. for
ten miles, halted at dark, where there was nothing for our horses to eat
or drink, and we were consequently obliged to tie them up for the night.
We had still a few oats left and gave each horse three pints. A short
time before encamping, I had observed that Lake Torrens was trending more
to the eastward, and that when we halted, it was not at any very great
distance from us.

July 9.--One of our horses having got loose last night, pulled the cork
out of the keg in which was our small stock of the dirty brackish water
we had found yesterday, and rolling the keg over, destroyed its contents;
we were thus deprived of our breakfasts, and consequently had but little
delay in starting. I intended to push on steadily for the hills, but
after travelling six miles came to a puddle in the plains, with tolerable
grass around, and at this I halted for the day, to rest the horses. Our
latitude was 31 degrees 25 minutes S. by an altitude of Arcturus, Mount
Eyre then bearing S. 7 degrees E.

July 10.--Our horses being much recruited I altered our course to-day to
N. 5 degrees E. being the bearing of the most distant range to the
northward, (subsequently named Mount Deception). We passed for the first
ten miles through an open barren country, but found a puddle at which we
watered our horses, and refilled the keg; we then entered heavy ridges of
dense red sand lying nearly north and south, and having small barren
plains between.

There were a few stunted bushes upon the ridges and occasionally some
small straggling pines. Lake Torrens still trended easterly, being
occasionally seen from, and sometimes approaching near to our track.

Emerging from the sandy ridges we again entered upon vast level plains
covered with rhagodia. In the midst of these we came to the bed of a
large dry watercourse, having good grass about it, but containing no
water. I halted here for the day as our horses were not very thirsty.

Upon examining the bed of the watercourse, I found traces of a rather
recent and high flood; much drift being still left upon the bushes where
it had been swept by the torrent; I could, however, find no water

A great many emus were seen during our ride, and I wounded one with my
rifle, but did not get it. We found to-day a description of flower, which
I had not seen before, white, and sweetly scented like the hawthorn,
growing upon a low prickly bush near the watercourse.

July 11.--To-day I left our course and rambled up the watercourse to
examine its character and search for water, which however I could not
find in its channel anywhere. Traces of natives were numerous and recent
all the way as we went, till at last we came to where they had encamped
the previous night, and where they had left a fire still fresh and

Proceeding onwards we came upon a single native, a female, young, but
miserably thin and squalid, fit emblem of the sterility of the country.
We could gain no information from her, she was so much alarmed, but not
long after parting with her we came to a puddle of water in the plains,
and encamped for the night. Our stage had been a tortuous, but not a long
one, and we halted early in the day, the latitude was 30 degrees 58
minutes S. by an altitude of the sun at noon.

After taking some refreshment, I walked to a rise about three miles off
at N. 40 degrees E. from which I took several bearings, and among them I
set Mount Deception at N. 25 degrees W., I then examined several of the
gorges between the front hills, where the banks were broken away, and to
my great dismay found in all of them salt mixed with the sand, the clay,
and even the rocks; whilst in the bed of the watercourse, the salt water
tea-tree was making its appearance, a shrub I had never before seen under
Flinders range, and one which never grows where the soil is not of a very
saline nature, and generally only where the water is too brackish for use.

The beds of the watercourses were in some places quite white and glazed
with encrustations of salt, where the rains had lodged, and the water had
evaporated. Some of the cliffs which I examined presented sections of 40
and 50 feet perpendicular height, in which layers of salt were embedded
from the very top to the bottom.

In such a country, what accommodation could I expect, or what hopes could
I entertain for the future, when the very water shed from the clouds
would not be drinkable after remaining a few hours on the ground?
Whichever way I turned myself, to the West, to the East, or the North,
nothing but difficulties met my view.

In one direction was an impracticable lake, skirted by heavy and scrubby
sand ridges; in another, a desert of bare and barren plains; and in a
third, a range of inhospitable rocks. The very stones lying upon the
hills looked like the scorched and withered scoria of a volcanic region;
and even the natives, judging from the specimen I had seen to-day,
partook of the general misery and wretchedness of the place.

My heart sank within me when I reflected upon the gradual but too obvious
change that had taken place in the character of the country for the
worse, and when I considered that for some days past we had been entirely
dependent for our supply of water upon the little puddles that had been
left on the plains by the rain, and which two or three more days would
completely dry up. Under circumstances so unpropitious, I had many
misgivings, and the contemplation of our future prospect became a subject
of painful anxiety.

July 12.--We moved away early, steering for Mount Deception. Near its
base, and emanating from it, we crossed the dry bed of a very large
watercourse, more resembling that of a river in character, its channel
being wide, deep, and well-defined, and lined with the salt-water
tea-tree; whilst its course was marked by very large, green looking
gum-trees, the bed consisted of an earthy, micaceous slate of a reddish
colour, and in very minute particles, almost in some places as fine as
sand, but we could find no water in it anywhere.

The range in which this watercourse has its source, is of the same slaty
rock, and very rugged; it could not be less than 3,000 feet in elevation,
and its summit was only attainable by winding along the steep and stony
ridges that led round the deep gorges and ravines by which it was

From the top the view was extensive and unsatisfactory. Lake Torrens
appearing as large and mysterious as ever, and bearing in its most
northerly extreme visible W. 22 degrees N. To the north was a low level
cheerless waste, and to the east Flinders range trending more easterly,
and then sweeping back to N. 28 degrees W. but its appearance seemed to
be changing and its character altering; the ranges struck me as being
more separated by ridges, with barren flats and valleys between, among
which winding to the N. W. were many large and deep watercourses, but
which when traced up, often for many miles, I found to emanate from
gorges of the hills, and to have neither water nor springs in them.

I had fully calculated upon finding permanent water at this very high
range, and was proportionally disappointed at not succeeding, especially
after having toiled to the summit, and tired both myself and horses in
tracing up its watercourses. There was now no other alternative left me,
than to make back for the hills to the eastward, in the hope of being
more fortunate there. I had only found permanent water once, (at Salt
watercourse) since I left my party, having depended entirely upon puddles
of rain water for subsistence; but it now became imperative on me to turn
my attention exclusively to this subject, not only to enable me to bring
up my men, but to secure the possibility of my own return, as every day
that passed dried up more and more the small puddles I had found in the

Descending Mount Deception, we travelled five miles upon a S. E. course,
and encamped upon a small dry watercourse for the night, with good grass
for our horses, but without water.

July 13.--Bending our steps backwards, to search for water in the eastern
hills, we were lucky enough to fall in with a puddle in the plains, at
which we watered our horses, and again proceeded.

Selecting one of the larger watercourses running out from the hills, we
traced it up a considerable distance, examining all its minor branches
carefully, and sparing no pains in seeking a permanent spring of water;
the channel, however, gradually diminished in size, as we occasionally
passed the junctions of small branches from the various gorges; the
gum-trees on its course were either dead or dying; the hills, which at a
distance had appeared very rugged and lofty, upon a nearer approach
turned out to be mere detached eminences of moderate elevation, covered
with loose stones, but without the least sign of water.

About two o'clock, P.M. we passed a little grass, and as the day appeared
likely to become rainy, I halted for the night. Leaving the native boy to
hobble the horses, I took my gun and ascended one of the hills near me
for a view. Lake Torrens was visible to the west, and Mount Deception to
the N.W. but higher hills near me, shut out the view in every other
direction. In descending, I followed a little rocky gully leading to the
main watercourse, and to my surprise and joy, discovered a small but deep
pool of water in a hole of the rock: upon sounding the depth, I found it
would last us some time, and that I might safely bring on my party thus
far, until I could look for some other point for a depot still farther
north; the little channel where the water was, I named Depot Pool.

Regaining the camp, I immediately set to work with the native boy to
construct a bough hut, as the weather looked very threatening. We had
hardly completed it before the rain came down in torrents, and water was
soon laying every where in the ledges of rock in the bed of the
watercourse. So little do we know what is before us, and so short a time
is necessary to change the aspect of affairs, and frequently too, when we
least expect it!

July 14.--Our hut not having been quite water-tight before the rain came,
we got very wet during the night, and turned out early this morning to go
and hunt for firewood to warm ourselves.

As the weather still continued rainy, I determined to give our horses a
day's rest, whilst I walked up the watercourse to examine it farther. I
found the hills open a good deal more as I proceeded, with nice grassy
valleys between; and the hills themselves, though high and steep, were
rounded at the summits, and richly clothed with vegetation: among them
numerous watercourses took their rise in the gorges, and generally these
were well marked by gum-trees. Altogether it was a pretty and fertile
spot, and though very hilly, would do well for stock, if permanent water
could be found near. I was quite unsuccessful, however, in my search for
this, and the native boy, whom I sent in the opposite direction, after my
return, was equally unfortunate. Towards evening, one of the horses
having broken his hobbles, and got alarmed, galloped off, taking the
other with him. Tired and wet as I was, I was obliged to go after them,
and it was some miles from the camp, before I could overtake and turn
them back. Our latitude was 30 degrees 55 minutes S.

July 15.--This morning was misty and clondy, and dreadfully cold. We set
off early and commenced tracing up and examining as many of the
watercourses as we could; we did not, however, find permanent water.

Under one low ridge we met with what I took to be a small spring
emanating from a limestone rock; but it was so small as to be quite
useless to a party like mine, though the natives appeared frequently to
have resorted to it. Finding the courses of the main channel become lost
in its many branches, I ascended the dividing ridge, and crossed into the
bed of another large watercourse, in which, after travelling but a short
distance, I found a fine spring of running water among some very broken
and precipitous ranges, which rose almost perpendicularly from the
channel; in the latter, high ledges of a slaty rock stretched
occasionally quite across its bed, making it both difficult and dangerous
to get our horses along. In the vicinity of the water the grass was
tolerably good, but the declivities upon which it principally grew, were
steep and very stony.

Having hobbled the horses, I took my gun, and walked down the
watercourse, to a place where it forms a junction with a larger one, but
in neither could I find any more water. Upon my return, I found that the
native boy had caught an opossum in one of the trees near, which proved a
valuable addition to our scanty and unvaried fare. The latitude to-day
was 30 degrees 51 minutes S.

July 16.--Tracing down the watercourse we were encamped on, to the
junction before mentioned, I steered a little more to the north, to
ascend a high stony range, from which I hoped to obtain a view to the
eastward; but after considerable toil in climbing, and dragging our
horses over loose rolling stones, which put them constantly in danger of
falling back, I was not rewarded for the trouble I had taken: the view to
the east was quite shut out by high rugged ranges of ironstone and
quartz, whilst to the north, the hills appeared lower and more open.

It now became a matter of serious consideration, whether I should pursue
my researches any farther at present. I was already about 120 miles away
from my party, with barely provisions enough to last me back; and the
country, in advance, appeared to be getting daily more difficult; added
to this, the "WATERWITCH" was waiting at the head of Spencer's Gulf for
my return.

After reflecting on my position, I decided to rejoin my party without
delay; and descending the range to the S. E., I steered for a large
watercourse we had crossed in the morning; intending to trace it up, for
the purpose of examining its branches. The bed of this watercourse, at
first, was very wide, and lined with gum-trees; but as I advanced, I
found its channel became contracted, and very rocky, the gum-trees
disappearing, and giving place to the salt-water tea-tree. By nightfall,
I was unable to proceed any further, owing to the large stones and rocks
that interposed themselves. Retracing my steps, therefore, for a mile or
two, to a little grass I had observed as I passed by, I bivouacked for
the night, being, as well as the horses, quite knocked up. The native
boy, who accompanied me, was equally fatigued; and we were both lame from
walking across so rugged a country, over a great portion of which we
found it quite impracticable to ride. Our stage could not have been less
than twenty-five or twenty-six miles during the day, yet we had not met
with a drop of water, even though we had high ranges, large watercourses,
and huge gum-trees on every side of us. As usual, the traces of high
floods were numerous; and the channels of these watercourses, confined as
they are by precipitous ranges, must, at times, be filled by rapid and
overwhelming torrents, which would collect there after heavy rains.

Some great progressive change appears to be taking place in the climate
and seasons of this part of the country, as, in many of the watercourses,
we found all the gum-trees either dying or dead, without any young trees
growing up to replace them. The moisture which had promoted their growth,
and brought them to maturity, existed no longer; and in many places, only
the wreck of noble trees remained to indicate to the traveller what once
had been the character of this now arid region. In other watercourses the
gum-trees were still green and flourishing, and of giant growth; but we
were equally unable to discover water in these,[Note 5: We had no means
with us of digging--possibly moisture existed below the surface where the
trees were so large and green.] as in those where the trees were decaying
or withered.

July 17.--To-day we returned to our temporary camp, tracing up various
branches of the water-courses as we went along, but without finding
water. Many of the ranges in our route consisted of masses of ironstone,
apparently containing a very large proportion of metal. In one place, I
found a mineral which I took to be tin ore; the loss, however, of all the
geological specimens I collected, after their arrival in Adelaide, has
unfortunately put it now beyond my power to test any of the rocks or
minerals, about which I was doubtful. As we encamped early, and I was
desirous of recruiting the horses, I employed myself in taking an
observation for latitude, whilst the black boy went out to look for an
opossum. He succeeded in bringing in a fine large one, which formed a
welcome addition to our meagre fare. The nights were still very frosty.

July 18.--In travelling to "Depot Pool," the native boy caught another
opossum, and we again halted early in the day for the sake of resting the

July 19.--Concealing among some rocks every thing we did not absolutely
require, we descended towards the plains, searching as we went, for the
most favourable line of road to them, for the drays, but at best the
country was very rough and stony.

After clearing the hills, we made a stage of twenty-eight miles along the
plains running under Flinders range, and at night encamped upon a channel
coming out of it, where we obtained water, but very little grass for our

July 20.--To-day I kept behind some of the low front hills, passing
through some extensive valleys between them and the main range; and as I
found abundance of water lying in pools upon the plains, I did not make
for the hills at all.

Before sunset, I got a shot at a kangaroo with my rifle, which, though
severely wounded, gave me a long chase before I could capture it; this
furnished us with a welcome and luxurious repast. We had been so long
living upon nothing but the bush baked bread, called damper (so named, I
imagine, from its heavy, sodden character), with the exception of the one
or two occasions upon which the native boy had added an opossum to our
fare, that we were delighted to obtain a supply of animal food for a
change; and the boy, to shew how he appreciated our good luck, ate
several pounds of it for his supper. Our horses were equally fortunate
with ourselves, for we obtained both good grass and water for them.

July 21.--Taking with us the best part of what was left of the kangaroo,
we crossed a stony ridge to the S. W., and at four miles struck a
watercourse with a large pool of water in its bed, and well adapted for a
halting place for the party on their route to the north: we had not seen
this in our outward course, having kept further to the westward in the
plains. From the water-hole, Mount Eyre bore W. 30 degrees S. distant
five miles.

Upon leaving this pool I pushed on as rapidly as I could, being anxious
to rejoin my party; and after a hard and fatiguing ride of forty miles,
arrived at the depot under Mount Arden, late in the day, having been
absent sixteen days. I had been anxiously expected, and was cordially
welcomed by the whole party, who were getting sadly tired of inactivity,
and especially by my young friend Mr. Scott, whose eager and ardent
disposition rendered him quite uneasy under the confinement and restraint
of a depot encampment; he would gladly have shared with me the
difficulties and hazards of exploring the country in advance, but from
the very embarrassing nature of the undertaking, I did not think it right
to take more than a single native with me, as every addition to the
number of a party, on such occasions, only tends to increase the
difficulty and anxiety of the task.

Having rested a little, and made innumerable inquiries, I was very much
gratified to find that the whole party were in good health, and that
every thing had been conducted in a satisfactory manner during my
absence. No one had been idle, and every thing that I could have wished,
had been properly arranged. The stores had been safely brought up from
the WATERWITCH, including a barometer kindly sent by the Governor, and a
large packet of English letters, at any time a highly valued prize, and
not the less so now that they were received 200 miles in the interior,
amidst the labours and anxieties of an exploring expedition.

During my absence all the harness, hobbles, tents, tarpaulins, etc. had
been fully repaired; and according to my instructions, a large deep hole
had been dug in the slope of the hill, to bury a portion of the stores
in, that if compelled by circumstances to return from the north, we might
still have supplies to fall back upon. Mr. Scott had employed his time in
collecting botanical and geological specimens, and had already made a
very fair commencement for our collections in both these departments of
science. He had also regularly kept the meteorological journal,
registering the observations three times in each day.

July 22.--After breakfast I had all the stores reweighed, and examined
the supplies sent us in the WATERWITCH, which consisted chiefly of flour,
biscuit, sugar, tea, salt pork, soap, tobacco, salt, canvas, etc. besides
many little luxuries which the kindness of the Governor, and the
consideration of our many friends had added to the list.

The men during my absence, having been living entirely upon salt pork, to
economize the sheep, were glad to receive the kangaroo which I brought
home with me.

Having inspected the stores, the whole party were put upon their
travelling rations, and the first week's allowance was issued to each,
consisting of ten pounds of meat, seven pounds of biscuit or flour, a
quarter of a pound of tea, a pound and a half of sugar, a quarter of a
pound of soap, and the same quantity of tobacco.

Provisions of different kinds were then weighed out, headed up in casks,
and buried in the hole dug by the men during my absence, to wait our
return, if ever it should be our lot to reach the place again. The
remainder were all properly packed up, and the drays loaded and arranged
for moving on.

After satisfactorily concluding all the preparations for leaving the
depot, I employed myself busily in writing letters and despatches until a
very late hour of the night, as it was the last opportunity I should have
for a long time, of reporting our prospects and progress, or of thanking
the Governor and our numerous friends, for the many attentions we had

I had hardly retired to rest before I was suddenly seized with a violent
attack of illness, arising probably from cold and over-exertion, now that
a return to my party had removed the stimulus to activity, and permitted
a reaction in the system to take place.

July 23.--This morning I felt weak, and still very ill, and it was with
great difficulty I could manage to close my letters, and give the
necessary instructions to the overseer, whom I sent down to the head of
Spencer's Gulf, with orders to the master of the cutter to sail for
Adelaide, and to report what he had seen at the salt inlets in the east
side of Spencer's Gulf, which I had directed him to examine in the boats
whilst I was absent exploring to the north. His reply was, that there was
water enough for a ship to lie within one mile of the shore, that there
was a tolerable landing place, but that he had found no fresh water. The
men were employed during the day making a new tarpaulin from the canvas
sent up in the WATERWITCH. The following is a copy of the Report sent to
the Governor, and to the Chairman of the Committee for promoting the

"Depot, near Mount Arden,
July 22nd, 1840.

"Sir,--I have the honour to acquaint you for the information of His
Excellency the Governor, and of the colonists interested in the northern
expedition, with the progress made up to the present date.

"I arrived here with my party all well, on the 3rd July instant, and on
the 6th I proceeded, accompanied by one of my native boys, on horseback,
to reconnoitre Lake Torrens and the country to the north of the depot,
leaving the party in camp to rest the horses and enable the overseer to
get up, from the head of Spencer's Gulf, the supplies kindly sent by His
Excellency the Governor in the WATERWITCH--her arrival having been
signalised the evening previous to my leaving. I arrived on the shores of
Lake Torrens the third day after leaving the depot, and have ascertained
that it is a basin of considerable magnitude, extending certainly over a
space varying in width from 15 to 20 miles, and with a length of from 40
to 50, from its southern extremity, to the most northerly part of it,
visible from a high summit in Flinders range, (about ninety miles north
of Mount Arden). The lake is girded with an outer ridge of sand, covered
with salsolaceous plants, and with saline crusts, shewing above the
ground at intervals. Its waters appear to extend over a considerable
surface, but they are, seemingly, shallow. I could not approach the
water, from the soft nature of that part of its bed, which is uncovered,
and which appeared to reach from three to four miles from the outer bank
to the water's edge. There can be no doubt, however, of its being very
salt, as that portion of its bed which lay exposed to our view was
thickly coated with pungent particles of salt. There were not any trees
or shrubs of any kind near the lake where we made it, nor could either
grass or fresh water be procured for our horses. Lake Torrens is bounded
on its western side by high lands--apparently a continuation of the table
land to the westward of the head of Spencer's Gulf.--I should think that
it must receive a considerable drainage from that quarter, as well as the
whole of the waters falling from Flinders range to the eastward.

"From the very inhospitable nature of the country, around the lake, I
could not examine it so carefully or so extensively as I could have
wished. My time, too, being very limited, made me hurry away to the
northward, to search for a place to which I might bring on my party, as
the grass in the neighbourhood of the depot was very old, and much less
abundant than on either of my former visits there. It became, therefore,
imperative on me to remove the horses as speedily as possible. Should
circumstances permit, I shall, however, endeavour to visit Lake Torrens
again, on my return from the northern interior. After leaving the lake I
spent many days in examining the country to the northward of our depot.
Its character seemed to vary but little; barren sandy plains still formed
the lower level, and the hills constituting the continuation of Flinders
range were still composed of quartz and ironstone; they were, however,
gradually becoming less elevated and more detached, with intervals of
stony valleys between, and the whole country was, if possible, assuming a
more barren aspect, while the springs, which had heretofore been numerous
among the hills, were very few in number--difficult to find--and very far
in amongst the ranges. After most anxious and laborious search, I at last
succeeded in finding a place about ninety miles (of latitude) north of
Mount Arden, to which I can remove my depot, and from which I can again
penetrate more to the northward.

"After an absence of sixteen days I rejoined my party under Mount Arden
on the evening of the 21st July, and found they had safely received all
the supplies sent for our use by the WATERWITCH. The latter has been
detained until my return, for despatches, which I shall send down
to-morrow, and on the 24th I intend to move on with my party to the new
depot. I regret it is not in my power to afford more certain information
as to the future prospects of the expedition, but where so little
alteration has taken place, in the features of the country I have been
examining, conjectures alone can anticipate what may be beyond. From the
very difficult nature of the country we are advancing into, our further
progress must necessarily be very slow for some time, but I still hope
that by patience and perseverance we shall ultimately succeed in
accomplishing the object of the expedition.

"I have the honour to be, Sir,
"Your most obedient humble Servant,

"To the Chairman of the Committee of Colonists for promoting the Northern

* * *

"Depot, near Mount Arden,
July 22nd, 1840.

"My Dear Sir,--I beg to enclose a copy of the report of our proceedings
up to the present date, for the perusal of his Excellency the Governor.
By it his Excellency will perceive that the very inhospitable nature of
the country around Lake Torrens, added to my anxiety to remove our horses
from the depot near Mount Arden, where there was but very little grass
for them, prevented my devoting so much time to the examination of the
lake and the country around it, as I should have wished; and I therefore
intend, if possible, on my return, to investigate it more fully, being
anxious to ascertain, whether, as I suppose, there is a considerable
drainage into it from the westward. The high land seen on its opposite
side, appears to be a continuation of the table land, lying to the west
of the head of Spencer's Gulf; and though the fall of the country appears
to be to the north, I begin to be of opinion now that it is not in
reality. Lake Torrens is evidently the basin into which all the waters
from Flinders range fall, and its extent is very considerable; in fact,
where I last saw it to the north, it was impossible to say whether it
terminated or not, from the very great distance it was off. The country
lying between Flinders range on the one side, and the table land on the
other, and north of Spencer's Gulf, is of so low and so level a character
that the eye alone is not a sufficient guide as to the direction in which
the fall may be. On my previous visits, I felt convinced it was
northerly, but I am now inclined to think that the drainage from Lake
Torrens in seasons of wet, is to the south, into the head of the Gulf;
and I can only account for there not being a larger connecting
watercourse than the small shallow one found when crossing from Streaky
Bay--and which I did not then imagine extended far above the head of the
Gulf--by supposing that the seasons have so altered of late years that
the overflow of the lake has never been sufficient to cause a run of
water to the Gulf. Should my present supposition be correct, the idea of
a northerly drainage is done away with, and we have yet to come to a
"division of the waters." My uncertainty on this most important point has
made me most anxious to get my party removed to a place where they can
remain until I can decide so interesting a point, and one on which our
future prospects so much depend. The same causes that prevented my
staying a little longer in the neighbourhood of the Lake have also
prevented, as yet, my extending my researches to the north for more than
about forty miles farther than I had been when last in this
neighbourhood. The only change I observed, was the increasing barren
appearance of the country--the decrease in elevation of the ranges--their
becoming more detached, with sterile valleys between--and the general
absence of springs; the rock of the higher ridges, which were very rugged
and abrupt, was still the same, quartz and ironstone, but much more of
the latter than I had before seen, and, in some cases, with a very great
proportion of metal to the stone. The lower ridges and steep banks, when
washed away by the rains, presented great quantities of a very pungent
salt to the eye of the observer, mixed with the clay and sand of which
the banks were formed; and in this neighbourhood the watercourses were
(though dry) all lined with the salt-water tea-tree--a shrub we had never
before seen under Flinders range. My next push to the north will probably
throw some light upon our future prospects, and I only regret it will not
be in my power to communicate the intelligence. I intended to have sent
his Excellency a rough sketch of my last route, but have not been able to
get it ready in time, and I fear I have already detained the little
cutter too long: during their detention, I requested the master to
examine some salt water inlets on the east side of Spencer's Gulf, and he
said he would, but I have not yet heard the result of his researches.
Should he have found, a good landing-place for goods, it would be of much
importance to the northern parts of the colony when they become stocked;
and nearly all the country as far as the head of the Gulf is more or less
adapted for grazing. Pray return my best thanks to his Excellency for the
abundant supply of stores we have received by the WATERWITCH--especially
for the barometer, which has arrived quite safely. I shall take great
care of it, and shall make observations, whenever practicable, three
times a day--8, a.m., noon, and 5, p.m. I only returned late last night,
and have been so busy to-day preparing every thing for leaving the depot,
that I have been obliged to put off my writing until night; and I am now
acribbling in the tent, on my bed, with my young friend, Mr. Scott, fast
asleep, and a cold bleak wind whistling through the place, so that I fear
my writing will be scarcely legible. I send down the letters to the
cutter in the morning, and intend to move on my party on the 24th. With
kind remembrance to his Excellency, Mrs. Gawler, and family--

"Believe me, etc.
"G. Hall, Esq."

Chapter V.


July 25.--To-DAY we broke up the camp, and commenced our labours in
earnest, the men and the horses having had a rest of three weeks; the
latter were in splendid condition and spirits, having eaten twenty-five
bushels of oats, which had been sent up in the WATERWITCH. Every thing
had been well and conveniently arranged, and the whole moved on with an
order and regularity that was very gratifying.

I was very ill at starting, and remained so for some days after, but as I
had already been twice over the ground, and as my native boy was able to
act as guide to the party, my indisposition was not of so much
consequence as it would have been under other circumstances. At times I
was quite incapable of any exertion, and could not attend to any thing,
being hardly able to sit upon my horse for half an hour together. From
the 25th to the evening of the 30th, we were engaged in travelling from
Mount Arden to Depot Pool, by the same line of route by which myself and
the native boy had returned from our exploration. In our progress we
noticed many traces of natives around us, and saw many native fires among
the hills; the people themselves did not, however, appear.

By a little trouble in examining the watercourses before encamping, we
were generally able to procure water for our horses, at some distance
among the hills; and we were usually fortunate enough to obtain tolerable
food for them also. The grass, it is true, was generally scanty, or dry;
but we found a succulent plant of the geranium tribe, bearing a small
blue flower, and growing where the channels of the watercourses spread
out in the plains, in the greatest abundance, and in the wildest
luxuriance; of this the horses were extremely fond, and it appeared to
keep them in good condition and spirits.

July 30.--The geological formation of the country we had passed through,
consisted in the higher ranges of an argillaceous rock, of quartz, or of
ironstone. Upon some of the hills the small loose stones had a vitrified
appearance--in others they looked like the scoria of a furnace, and
appeared to be of volcanic origin, but nowhere did I observe the
appearance of anything like a crater. In the lower or front hills the
rock was argillaceous, of a hard slaty nature, and inclined at an angle
of about 45 degrees from the horizontal. This formation was frequently
traversed by dykes of grey limestone of a very hard texture.

Upon watering the horses at the hole in the rock, I was much disappointed
to find that they had already sunk it eighteen inches, and now began to
fear that it would not last them so long as I had anticipated, and that I
should still be obliged to cross over the hills to the very rocky channel
where I had found permanent water on the 15th of July. This I was
desirous, if possible, to avoid, both from the difficult nature of the
road by which that water must be reached, and from the circumstance that
it was going so much out of our way into an all but impracticable
country, and that consequently, when we did move on again to the north,
we should be obliged to come all the way back again over the same bad
road to gain the open country under Flinders range, where alone we could
hope to make any progress with the drays.

July 31.--Having remained all day in camp to rest the party, I found that
the horses had again made a great diminution in the depth of the water in
the rock, I therefore had the drays all prepared in the evening,
intending to move away to the other water-course in the morning; but the
next day the horses had unfortunately strayed, and it was late before
they were brought up, so that we could not get away. Upon watering them
when they arrived, I found that less impression was made upon the water
than on the previous days; and after an anxious consultation with my
overseer, I decided upon leaving the party in camp at Depot Pool until I
could reconnoitre further north and return.

August 1.--To prevent any difficulties during my absence, in the event of
the water failing in the rocky hole, I sent the native boy to shew the
overseer the place where the permanent water was, and gave him
instructions to move the party thither if he should find it necessary;
but not until their safety absolutely required it, or before he had fully
ascertained that no water was to be procured by digging in the bed of any
of the adjoining watercourses. During his absence, I employed myself
busily in getting ready for another push to the north with the native boy
to search for a new depot, as in a country so difficult and embarrassing,
it was quite impracticable to move on the party until after having
previously ascertained where they could be taken to with safety. Upon
examining the barometers to-day, I was much concerned to find that they
were both out of order and useless; the damp had softened the glue
fastening the bags of leather which hold the quicksilver, and the
leathers that were glued over the joints of the cisterns, and so much of
the mercury had escaped, before I was aware of it, that I found all the
previous observations valueless. I emptied the tubes and attempted to
refill them, but in so doing I unfortunately broke one of them, and the
other I could not get repaired in a satisfactory manner, not being able,
after all my efforts, to get rid of some small air bubbles that would
intrude, in spite of every care I could exercise.

August 2.--Leaving early, I took with me a native boy, and a man on
horseback, leading a pack-horse, to carry water, as I could not but be
apprehensive, lest we might find none in the country into which we were
advancing. In following down the Depot watercourse to the plains, we
found a fire where the natives had encamped the previous night. This
surprised us, because we were not aware that there were any so
immediately in our vicinity. It however shewed us the necessity of
vigilance and circumspection in our future movements.

Steering for the most western point of Mount Deception range, until we
opened one still more distant to the north-west, and which I named
Termination Hill, we kept pushing on through barren stony plains, without
grass or shrubs, and arrived late in the afternoon upon a large
watercourse with gum-trees, but could find no water in its bed. Near it,
however, in the plains, we were fortunate enough to discover a puddle of
rain water, and at once halted for the night, though the feed was
indifferent. We had travelled twenty-eight miles, and the pack-horse
carrying twelve gallons of water, was considerably fatigued. At the
puddle, two teal were seen, which indicated the existence of a larger
body of water somewhere in the neighbourhood, but our efforts to find it
were unsuccessful.

August 3.--Crossing very heavy sandy ridges, we passed at intervals one
or two dry watercourses, and the beds of some small dry lakes among the
sandy ridges, in one of which was a little rain water which appeared to
be rapidly drying up. Watering the horses we moved on for Termination
Hill, but the nature of the country had been so unfavourable, that the
pack-horse was knocked up, and I was obliged to halt four miles short of
our intended destination, and where there was but poor feed for the
animals. After dinner I walked to Termination Hill and ascended it. Like
all the others I had recently examined, it was composed principally of
quartz, ironstone and a kind of slaty rock; the low hills in front
exhibiting the grey limestone, whilst patches of gum scrub were
observable in many places. From the summit of Termination Hill, Lake
Torrens bore W. 20 degrees S. but the view was obstructed by intervening
sand ridges, the elevated land on the opposite shore of the lake still
appeared to continue, and was visibly further north than the lake itself,
which, as I observed, was partially shut out by the ridges. To the north
were low broken hills similar to those around me, but less elevated, and
immediately under these hills to the westward, were heavy red sandy
ridges, such as we had crossed during the day. To the eastward and ten
degrees north of east were seen Flinders range, with which Mount
Deception and Termination Hills were connected, by low long spurs thrown
off to the northward. In the north-east the horizon was one unbroken,
low, flat, level waste, with here and there small table-topped
elevations, appearing white in the distance and seemingly exhibiting
precipitous faces. Wherever I turned, or whatever way I looked, the
prospect was cheerless and disheartening. Our stage had been twenty-two

August 4.--After giving five gallons of water each to my own and the
native boy's horse, I sent back the man with the pack-horse and the empty
kegs to the depot. We then steered E. 5 degrees S. across some very
extensive barren stony plains, occasionally broken into irregular
surfaces with steep white banks (of a fine freestone), forming the
termination of the higher levels, fronting the hollows. These hollows or
flats were covered with salsolaceous plants and samphire, and appeared
once to have been salt swamps.

At twenty miles we came to a small watercourse emanating from the eastern
hills, which we had now reached, and soon after to a larger one which we
traced up for five miles among the front hills, which were composed of
limestone, but were then obliged to encamp without water. Whilst rambling
about after turning out the horses, I met with a party of native women
and children, but could gain no information from them. They would not
permit me to come near them, and at last fairly ran away, leaving at
their fire two young children who could not escape. I then went to their
camp and examined the bags and property which had been left, and amongst
other things found two kangaroo skins full of water, each containing from
six to eight quarts; it was quite muddy, and had evidently been taken
from a puddle in the plains, and carried to the present encampment in the
bed of the watercourse. Having helped ourselves to some of the water, I
tied a red pocket handkerchief round one of the children, as payment for
it and returned to our own camp.

August 5.--During the night I was taken very ill again, and felt quite
weak when I arose this morning, but circumstances admitted of no delay,
and I was obliged to go on with my exploration: I continued to trace up
the creek, which I found to be large and lined with gum-trees for many
miles among rocky and precipitous hills, but altogether without water,
and as I knew of none of this requisite, of a permanent character, behind
me, I determined to retrace my steps again to Mount Deception range. In
doing so, I had to pass near the place from whence the natives had taken
flight, and from curiosity called to see if the children had been taken
away; to my surprise and regret I found them still remaining, they had
been left by their unnatural or terrified parents without food, and
exposed to the inclemency of a cold winter's night; the fire had gone
out, and the eldest of the children had scraped a hole among the ashes in
which both were lying. They were alarmed when they saw me, and would take
nothing I offered them. The child around whom I had tied the
handkerchief, had managed to get it off and throw it to one side. I now
scarcely knew what to do, as I was fearful if I left them there, and the
parents did not return, the poor little children might perish, and yet I
was so far away from my own party, and in such difficult circumstances,
that I knew not how I could take them with me. Upon due reflection, and
considering that I had not seen a single male native, it struck me that
the women might have gone for the men and would probably return by the
evening to see where their little ones were.

Under this impression, I put the handkerchief again round the eldest
child, and tying it firmly, I left them; I had hopes too, that some of
the natives were watching our movements from the hills, and in this case
they would at once return, when they saw us fairly depart from the

Keeping a little to the south of west, I still found the country very
much broken into hollows, with high steep banks bounding them, this
singular formation being apparently the result of the violent action of
water; but how long ago and under what circumstances I had no means of
judging. Having found a puddle of water in the plains, I halted for the
night, our stage having been about twenty miles.

August 6.--We again passed many of those singular hollows fronted by the
high steep banks of the upper levels, and then crossed some low ironstone
ridges to a channel emanating from Mount Deception range. This I traced
through the hills to the westward without finding any water, and then
following down the Mount Deception range in its western slopes, I
examined all the watercourses coming from it; in one, which I named The
Scott, after my young friend and fellow traveller, I found a large hole
of rain water among the rocks, and at this I halted to rest and feed the
horses. The latitude of the water in The Scott was 30 degrees 32 minutes
S. Pushing on again, late in the afternoon, I reached our camp of the 2nd
August, quite tired, and the horses much fatigued, the puddle of water we
had found here on our outward course was now nearly all dried up.

August 7.--Making an early start I returned to the Depot Pool, and found
the party all well. They were, however, just preparing to move away, as
the water was nearly all gone. The drays were packed and everything ready
when I arrived; they had tried to obtain water by digging, but had
failed, having been stopped by hard rock.

I was now in a very awkward dilemma. The water where we were, had been
all used, and we must consequently remove at once,--but where to, was the
question? If I went to the permanent water to the eastward, I gained
nothing, as I only harassed my party by travelling through an almost
impracticable country, over which we must return before we could move
further to the north,--and if I went to the N. W. to The Scott, I went to
a mere puddle of water, precarious and uncertain at the best, and at
which, under any circumstances, we could not remain long:--yet move I
must, as soon as the morning dawned. Many and anxious were the hours I
spent in consideration and reflection.

Little indeed are the public aware of the difficulties and
responsibilities attached to the command of an expedition of
exploration;--the incessant toil, the sleepless hours, the anxious
thoughts that necessarily fall to the share of the leader of a party
under circumstances of difficulty or danger, are but imperfectly
understood and less appreciated by the world at large. Accustomed to
judge of undertakings only by their results, they are frequently as
unjust in their censure as they are excessive in their approval. The
traveller who discovers a rich and well watered district, encounters but
few of the hardships, and still fewer of the anxieties, that fall to the
lot of the explorer in desert regions, yet is the former lauded with
praise, whilst the latter is condemned to obloquy; although the success
perhaps of the one, or the failure of the other, may have arisen from
circumstances over which individually neither had any control.

August 8.--The horses having rambled a little this morning it was rather
late before we got away, I had, however, made up my mind to advance at
all risks, and we accordingly travelled sixteen miles to the N. W.;
halting without any water upon the large watercourse emanating from Mount
Deception; there was no grass either, and we were consequently obliged to
tie up our horses for the night.

August 9.--The sheep had broken out of their yard, and could not be found
this morning; so sending the party on with the native boy as a guide, I
remained behind myself with the overseer, to search for them; they were
soon found, and we moved on after the drays. In going up the watercourse
I again found a native fire, where natives had been encamped within a
mile of us during the night, without our being aware of it; so difficult
is it always to know the proximity of these children of the wilds.

Having overtaken the party, I conducted them to The Scott, at which we
arrived early in the day, though the distance could not be less than 20
miles. At night a party of natives were seen near, but did not come up to

August 10.--To day I prepared for another exploration to the N. W. and
had all our casks and kegs new coopered and filled with water, to make
them water tight. I found it necessary also to have our horses new shod,
which was the third set of shoes they had required in less than two
months, in consequence of the hard and stony roads over which we had
travelled. The natives were again encamped near us at night, but did not
come up.

August 11.--Leaving directions for the overseer to dig for water during
my absence, I took a native boy and one man driving a cart loaded with
water; we had mustered all the casks and kegs in the party, holding
altogether 65 gallons, and to draw this I had our three best draught
horses yoked to the light cart, being determined to push as far as
possible to the N. W. before I returned. At first we passed over a good
road but stony, then over heavy red sand ridges, and at night encamped in
a gorge coming from Termination Hill, where we had excellent feed for the
horses, but no water. The traces of natives were numerous and recent, and
I imagine they must obtain their supply of water at puddles in the
plains, but we could find none at present. The weather was very hot and
the flies excessively annoying, even at this early period of the year. We
gave each of the horses three gallons of water out of the kegs, after
which they fed well; the hills, as we advanced were getting lower, and
the sandy ridges now wound close under them, and in some instances even
among them; still there were many birds around us, amongst which cockatoo
parrots were very numerous. Our stage was about 23 miles.

August 12.--Steering to the N. W. to a low range (the highest summit of
which I named Mount North-west,) we just kept far enough in the plains to
intercept the watercourses from the hills where they spread into the
level country, and by this means we got excellent feed for our horses;
generally the same rich succulent herbage I have mentioned before,
occasionally mixed with wild oats. It was only in places of this
description that we could expect to find anything for our horses. In the
plains or on the hills there was not a blade of of anything green; at
night we encamped upon a small dry channel with tolerable feed, but no
water, and we again gave each horse three gallons from our kegs.

The country we were traversing as yet under-went no alteration, the only
difference being, that the hills were getting lower and the watercourses
less numerous, and both apparently without water; the sand ridges came
more in among the hills, and the dry beds of small salt lakes were often
met with; the salsolae were more abundant, but the traces of natives were
now less frequent; whilst those we fell in with seemed for the most part
to have been left during the wet season. The rock formation still
continued the same, quartz, ironstone, slate, and grey limestone, with
saline crusts peeping above the ground in many places in the lower
levels; the sky was cloudy and threatened rain, but none fell: our stage
was 18 miles.

August 13.--Continuing our course to the N. W. I took on the cart for 13
miles to a large dry channel, coming from the hills, upon which we halted
for an hour or two to rest and feed the horses, as there were some
sprinklings of grass around. We had now a change in the appearance of the
country; the ironstone ranges seemed to decrease rapidly in elevation to
the north, and the region around appeared more level, with many very
singular looking table-topped elevations from 50 to 300 feet in height
and with steep precipitous sides which were red, with the ironstone
above, and white, with a substance like chalk, below. The country was
covered with salsolae, and we passed the beds of many dried up salt
lakes. Ascending the highest ridge near us, I found Lake Torrens was no
longer visible, being shut out by the sandy ridges to the westward,
whilst the low ironstone hills impeded our view to the north, and to the
east. Having given our horses water, we buried twelve gallons against our
return, and sending back the man with the cart, and extra horses, the
native boy and I still pushed on to the N. W., taking a pack-horse to
carry our provisions and a few quarts of water for ourselves.

As we proceeded, the country changed to extensive plains and undulations
of stones and gravel, washed perfectly level by water, and with the
stones as even in size and as regularly laid as if they had been picked
out and laid by a paviour. At intervals were interspersed many of the
fragments of table land I have alluded to before, only perhaps a little
less elevated than they had previously been; we passed also the beds of
several small dry watercourses, and encamped upon one of the largest,
long after dark, having travelled twenty-five miles since we left the
cart, and having made in the whole a day's journey of thirty-seven miles.
There was tolerable food in the bed of the watercourse, but the horses
were thirsty and eat but little. Unfortunately, in crossing the stony
ground, one of them cast a shoe, and began to go a little lame.

August 14.--Moving away very early we travelled sixteen miles due north,
through a very similar country, only that the stones and gravel in the
plains had become much finer and a good deal mixed with sand; the
fragments of table land still continued in every direction at intervals,
and their elevations still varied from 50 to 300 feet. In the upper part
these elevations appeared red from the red sandy soil, gravel, or
iron-stone grit which were generally found upon their summits. They had
all steep precipitous sides, which looked very white in the distance, and
were composed of a chalky substance, traversed by veins of very beautiful
gypsum. There were neither trees nor shrubs, nor grass, nor vegetation of
any kind except salsolaceous plants, and these every where abounded.

In the midst of these barren miserable plains I met with four natives, as
impoverished and wretched looking as the country they inhabited. As soon
as they saw us they took to their heels, apparently in great alarm, but
as I was anxious to find out from them if there was any water near, I
galloped after two of them, and upon coming up with them was very nearly
speared for my indiscretion; for the eldest of the two men, who had in
his hand a long, rude kind of spear with which he had been digging roots
or grubs out of the ground (although I could not see the least sign of
anything edible) finding that he was rather close pressed, suddenly
halted and faced me, raising his spear to throw.

The rapid pace at which I had been pursuing prevented my reining in my
horse, but by suddenly spurring him when within but a few yards of the
native, I wheeled on one side before the weapon had time to leave his
grasp, and then pulling up I tried to bring my friend to a parley at a
less dangerous distance.

Finding that I did not attempt to injure him, the native stood his
ground, though tremblingly, and kept incessantly vociferating, and waving
me away; to all my signs and inquiries, he was provokingly insensible,
and would not hear of anything but my immediate departure. Sometimes he
pointed to the north, motioning me to go in that direction, but the poor
wretch was in such a state of alarm and trepidation that I could make
nothing of him and left him. He remained very quietly until I had gone
nearly a quarter of a mile, and then thinking that he had a fair start,
he again took to his heels, and ran away as fast as he could in the
direction opposite to that I had taken.

Continuing our course northerly I steered for what appeared to be a small
lake not far away to the N. W. and crossed over some heavy ridges of
white sand; upon reaching the object of my search it proved to be a
winding arm of the main lake (Torrens) at first somewhat narrow, but
gradually enlarging as we traced it downwards. The bed of this arm was
coated over, as had been the dry part of the bed of the main lake, with a
very pungent salt, with mud and sand and water intermixed beneath the
upper crust.

Following the arm downwards I came to a long reach of water in its
channel, about two feet deep, perfectly clear, and as salt as the sea,
and I even fancied that it had that peculiar green tinge which sea-water
when shallow usually exhibits.

This water, however, was not continuous; a little further on, the channel
again became dry, as it increased in width in its approach to the main
lake, the bed of which, near its shores, was also dry. From a high bank
which I ascended, I had a full view of the lake stretching away to the
north-east, as far as the eye could reach, apparently about thirty miles
broad, and still seeming to be bounded on its western shores by a low
ridge, or table land, beyond which nothing could be seen. No hills were
visible any where, nor was there the least vegetation of any kind.

I was now upwards of 100 miles away from my party in a desert, without
grass or water, nor could I expect to obtain either until my return to
the creek, where I had left the twelve gallons, and this was about fifty
miles away. The main basin of Lake Torrens was still four or five miles
distant, and I could not expect to gain any thing by going down to its
shores; as on previous occasions, I had ascertained that to attempt to
cross it, or even to reach the water a few miles from its outer edge, was
quite impossible, from the boggy nature of its bed. From my present
elevation, the lake was seen bending round to the N. E., and I became
aware that it would be a barrier to all efforts to the north. My horses
were suffering, too, from want of water and food; and I had, therefore,
no alternative but to turn back from so inhospitable and impracticable a

With a heavy heart, and many misgivings as to the future, I retreated
from the dismal scene, and measured back my steps as rapidly as possible
towards the creek where our stock of water was buried. From the state in
which our horses were, I knew, that to save their lives, it was necessary
to get them to water without loss of time, and I therefore continued our
homeward course during the whole night, and arrived early in the morning
at the place where I had parted from the cart.

August 15.--It was now necessary to use great caution in the management
of our jaded animals. During the last two days we had ridden them fully
100 miles over a heavy country, without food or water; and for the last
twenty-four hours they had never had a moment's rest; and now we had only
twelve gallons of water for three horses and ourselves, and were still
fifty miles away from the depot, without the possibility of getting a
further supply until our arrival there.

Having hobbled the horses out for an hour, we watched them until they had
rested a little, and got cool. I then gave them half of our supply of
water; and leaving them to feed under the superintendence of the native
boy, took my gun, and walked seven or eight miles up the creek, under a
scorching sun, to look for water, examining every gorge and nook, with an
eagerness and anxiety, which those only can know who have been similarly
circumstanced; but my search was in vain, and I returned to the
encampment tired and disappointed. Out of what was left of our water, the
boy and myself now made each a little tea, and then gave the remainder to
the horses; after which we laid down for an hour whilst they were
feeding. About four in the afternoon, we again saddled them, and moved
homewards, riding, as before, the whole night, with the exception of
about an hour, when we halted to feed the horses, upon meeting with a
rich bed of the succulent geranium, of which they were so fond.

August 16.--Travelling on steadily, we began early in the afternoon to
draw near to the depot; and when within a mile and half of it, I was
surprised, upon looking back, to see two natives trying to steal upon us
with spears, who, as soon as they perceived they were observed, rose up,
and made violent gestures of defiance, but at once desisted from
following us. A little further on, upon a rise not far from the depot, I
was still more astonished to see at least thirty of these savages; and I
hurried forwards as quickly as possible to ascertain what it could mean,
not without some anxiety for the safety of my party.

Chapter VI.


August 16.--UPON reaching the camp the extraordinary behaviour of the
natives was soon explained to me. At the time when I left the depot on
the 11th of August, in giving the overseer general directions for his
guidance, I had among other matters requested him, if he found any
natives in the neighbourhood, to try and get one up to the camp and
induce him to remain until my return, that we might, if possible, gain
some information as to the nature of the country or the direction of the
waters. In endeavouring to carry out my wishes, it seems he had one day
come across two or three natives in the plain, to whom he gave chase when
they ran away. The men escaped, but he came up with one of the females
and took her a prisoner to the camp, where he kept her for a couple of
days, but could gain no information from her; she either could not be
understood, or would not tell where there was water, although when signs
were made to her on the subject, she pointed to the east and to the
north-west. After keeping her for two days, during which, with the
exception of being a prisoner, she had been kindly treated, she was let
go with the present of a shirt and handkerchief.

It was to revenge this aggression that the natives had now assembled; for
which I could not blame them, nor could I help regretting that the
precipitancy of my overseer should have placed me in a position which
might possibly bring me into collision with the natives, and occasion a
sacrifice of life; an occurrence I should deplore most deeply under any
circumstances, but which would be doubly lamentable when I knew that my
own party had committed the first act of aggression.

The number of natives said to have been seen altogether, including women
and children, was between fifty and sixty, and though they had yet
actually committed no overt act against us, with the exception of trying
to steal upon myself and the native boy as we returned; yet they had
established themselves in the close vicinity of our encampment, and
repeatedly exhibited signs of defiance, such as throwing dust into the
air, shouting, and threatening with their weapons, and once or twice, the
evening before my arrival, crossing within a very short distance of the
tents, as if for the purpose of reconnoitring our position and strength;
I determined, however, nothing but the last extremity should ever induce
me to act on the defensive. [Note 6: "And they cried out, and cast off
their clothes, and threw dust into the air."--Acts xxii. 23.]

When on my return to the depot, I had seen the natives creeping after me
with their spears, I and the native boy at once halted, turned round and
went slowly towards them, upon this they retreated. They would see by
this that we did not fear them, and as the party at the camp had been
increased in number by our return, I thought they might probably be more
cautious in their hostile demonstrations, which for the present was the
case, for we saw nothing more of them for some time.

During my absence, the overseer, according to my instructions, had put a
party of men to dig for water in the bed of the creek, about four miles
from the depot, in a westerly direction and down upon the plains. They
were busy when I arrived at the depot; the soil already dug through had
been a very hard gravel, but as yet no water had been found, they had got
to a depth of about ten feet; but from the indurated character of the
soil were proceeding very slowly.

I was, however, too much fatigued to go and inspect the work immediately,
the boy and myself as well as the horses being completely worn out. We
had ridden in the last five days and a half, about two hundred miles, and
walked about twenty up and down rocky and precipitous creeks, whilst, for
the last two nights before our arrival we had scarcely been off the
horses' back.

On the 17th, which was dreadfully hot, I went in the afternoon to see
what progress was being made at the well, and found that only two feet
had been dug in the last twenty-four hours, whilst just as I arrived the
men came to a solid mass of rock, and could sink no further; I at once
ordered them to return to the camp, as I did not think it worth while to
make further attempts in so unkindly a soil, and indeed I was unwilling
to have my little party too much divided in the neighbourhood of so many
natives. The men themselves were very glad to get back to the camp,
having been apprehensive of an attack for the last two or three days.

August 18.--This morning I sent off the overseer and a native boy to the
eastward, to look for water in the watercourses I had been at on the 5th
of August, the Scott not having then been discovered; they would now be
thirty-six miles nearer water than any I was acquainted with at that
time, and would consequently be less hurried and embarrassed in their
movements than I was. By giving them a pack-horse to carry ten gallons of
water, I hoped they would be able to examine all the watercourses so
effectually as to secure the object of their search, for I felt satisfied
that water was to be found somewhere among the high ranges we had seen in
the direction they were going; I also directed the overseer to visit the
camp where the two native children had been left, and to see what had
been their fate.

During the day I employed myself in writing; the weather was excessively
close and oppressive, with heavy clouds coming up from the S. W. against
the wind at N. E. At night it blew almost a hurricane, accompanied by a
few drops of rain, after which, the wind then veered round to the north.

The 19th was another oppressive hot day, with a northerly wind, and
clouds of dust which darkened the air so that we could not see the hills
distinctly, although we were close under them. The flies were also
incessant in their persecuting attacks. What with flies and dust, and
heat and indisposition, I scarcely ever remember to have spent a more
disagreeable day in my life. My eyes were swollen and very sore, and
altogether I was scarcely able to attend to any thing or employ myself in
any profitable way.

August 20.--Some slight showers during the night made the weather cool
and pleasant, the day too was cloudy, and I was enabled to occupy myself
in charting, working out observations, etc. whilst Mr. Scott, by shooting,
supplied us with some wallabies. This animal is very like a rabbit when
running, and quite as delicate and excellent in eating.

August 21.--Not having seen the natives for the last two days, I thought
I might venture to explore the watercourse we were encamped upon, and set
off on horseback immediately after breakfast, accompanied by Mr. Scott.

We traced up its stony and rugged bed for about seven miles among the
hills, to a point where the scenery was peculiarly grand and sublime. The
cliffs rose perpendicularly from the channel of the watercourse to a
height of from six to eight hundred feet, towering above us in awful and
imposing prominencies. At their base was a large pool of clear though
brackish water; and a little beyond a clump of rushes, indicating the
existence of a spring. In the centre of these rushes the natives had dug
a small well, but the water was no better than that in the larger pool.

The natives generally resort to such places as these when the rain water
is dried up in the plains or among the hills immediately skirting them.
Far among the fastnesses of the interior ranges, these children of the
wilds find resources which always sustain them when their ordinary
supplies are cut off; but they are not of corresponding advantage to the
explorer, because they are difficult of access, not easily found, and
seldom contain any food for his horses, so that he can barely call at
them and pass on. Such was the wretched and impracticable character of
the country in which we were now placed.

Having tied up our horses, Mr. Scott and I ascended to the top of the
high cliff by winding along the ridges at the back of it. From its summit
we had an extensive view, and I was enabled to take several angles. One
of the high peaks in the Mount Deception range bearing S. 35 degrees W.
about five miles off I named Mount Scott. To the east were seen high
ranges, to which I had sent my overseer. Descending the hill we examined
the course of the watercourse a few miles further, and ascertaining that
there was no more water in it, retraced our steps towards the depot,
somewhat fatigued with clambering up rocky ranges under the oppressive
heat of an almost tropical sun.

In the course of the morning Mr. Scott shot a rock wallabie of rather a
large species, and many more were seen about the high perpendicular cliff
under which we had found the water. These singular animals appeared to
have a wonderful facility for scaling precipices, for they leapt and
clambered up among the steep sides of the cliffs in a manner quite
incredible, and where it was perfectly impossible for any human being to
follow them.

In the evening the overseer and native boy returned, they had traced up
the watercourse I turned back from on the 5th of August, and had found
water in it about eight miles beyond where I gave up the search. They had
also visited the native camp where the two little children had been left
deserted, they were now gone, and the whole plain around had been strewed
with green boughs. The handkerchief I had tied round the eldest child had
been taken off and left at the camp, the natives probably dreading to
have anything to do with property belonging to such fearful enchanters as
they doubtless suspected us to be.

Our party being once more all together, it became necessary to decide
upon our future movements, the water in the hole at the depot being
nearly all used, and what was left being very muddy and unpalatable.
Before I abandoned our present position, however, I was anxious to make a
journey to the shores of Lake Torrens to the westward; I had already
visited its basin at points fully 150 miles apart, viz. in about 29
degrees 10 minutes S. latitude, and in 31 degrees 30 minutes S. I had
also traced its course from various heights in Flinders range, from which
it was distinctly visible, and in my mind, had not the slightest doubt
that it was one continuous and connected basin. Still, from the hills of
our present depot, it was not visible to the north of west, and I should
not have felt myself justified in going away to the eastward, without
positively ascertaining its connection with the basin I was at to the
north-west; accordingly, as soon as the overseer returned I got ready for
another harassing and uninteresting journey to the westward.

August 22.--Setting off early this morning, accompanied by a native boy,
I steered W.N.W. For the first four miles, I took my overseer along with
me, to shew him the direction I intended to take, so that if I did not
return in two days, he might send a pack-horse with water to meet me
along the tracks.

After he had left I pushed steadily on for thirty-five miles, principally
over heavy sandy ridges, which were very fatiguing to the horses, and at
dark reached the outer dunes of the lake, where I was obliged to tie the
horses up to some small bushes, as there was neither water nor grass for
them. The bed of the lake where I struck it, seemed dry for some distance
from the shore, but towards the middle there appeared to be a large body
of water. From our camp Mount Deception bore E. 26 degrees S. and
Termination Hill, E. 35 degrees N.

August 23.--Starting early, I traced the course of the lake
north-westerly for ten miles, and was then able to satisfy myself that it
was a part of the same vast basin I had seen so much further to the
north, it inclined here considerably to the westward, and this
circumstance added to the high sandy ridges intervening between it and
Flinders range fully explained the cause of our not having observed its
course to the north of west from the hills near our depot. Crossing the
sandy ridge bounding the basin of the lake, I was surprised to see its
bed apparently much contracted, and the opposite shore distinctly
visible, high, rocky and bluff to the edge of the water, seemingly only
seven or eight miles distant, and with several small islands or rocks
scattered over its surface. This was however only deceptive, and caused
by the very refractive state of the atmosphere at the time, for upon
dismounting and leading the horses into the bed of the lake, the opposite
shore appeared to recede, and the rocks or islands turned out to be only
very small lumps of dirt or clay lying in the bed of the lake, and
increased in magnitude by refraction.

I penetrated into the basin of the lake for about six miles, and found it
so far without surface water. On entering at first, the horses sunk a
little in a stiff mud, after breaking through a white crust of salt,
which everywhere coated the surface and was about one eighth of an inch
in thickness, as we advanced the mud became much softer and greatly mixed
with salt water below the surface, until at last we found it impossible
to advance a step further, as the horses had already sunk up to their
bellies in the bog, and I was afraid we should never be able to extricate
them, and get them safely back to the shore. Could we have gone on for
some distance, I have no doubt that we should have found the bed of the
lake occupied by water, as there was every appearance of a large body of
it at a few miles to the west. As we advanced a great alteration had
taken place, in the aspect of the western shores. The bluff rocky banks
were no longer visible, but a low level country appeared to the view at
seemingly about fifteen or twenty miles distance. From the extraordinary
and deceptive appearances, caused by mirage and refraction, however, it
was impossible to tell what to make of sensible objects, or what to
believe on the evidence of vision, for upon turning back to retrace our
steps to the eastward, a vast sheet of water appeared to intervene
between us and the shore, whilst the Mount Deception ranges, which I knew
to be at least thirty-five miles distant, seemed to rise out of the bed
of the lake itself, the mock waters of which were laving their base, and
reflecting the inverted outline of their rugged summits. The whole scene
partook more of enchantment than reality, and as the eye wandered over
the smooth and unbroken crust of pure white salt which glazed the basin
of the lake, and which was lit up by the dazzling rays of a noonday sun,
the effect was glittering, and brilliant beyond conception.

[Very similar appearances seem to have been observed by Monsieur Peron,
on the S. W. coast near Geographe Bay. "A cette epoque nous eprouvions les
effets les plus singuliers du mirage; tantot les terres les plus
uniformes et les plus basses nous paroissoient portees au dessus des
eaux, et profondement dechirrees dans toutes leurs parties; tantot leurs
cretes superieures sembloient renversees, et reposer ainsi sur les
vagues; a chaque instant on croyoit voir au large de longues chaines de
recifs, et de brisans qui sembloient se reculer a mesure qu'on s'en

Upon regaining the eastern shore, I found that all I had been able to
effect was to determine that the lake still continued its course to the
N.W. that it was still guided as before, by a ridge like a sea shore,
that its area was undiminished, that its bed was dry on the surface for
at least six miles from the outer margin, and that from the increasing
softness of the mud, occasioned by its admixture with water, as I
proceeded there was every probability that still further west, water
would be found upon the surface. Beyond these few facts, all was
uncertainty and conjecture in this region of magic. Turning away from the
lake, I retraced my steps towards the depot, and halted at dark after a
stage of nearly forty miles. Here was neither grass nor water, and again
I was obliged to tie up the unfortunate horses, jaded, hungry and

During the night, I released one of the poor animals for an hour or two,
thinking he would not stray from his companion, and might, perhaps, crop
a few of the little shrubs growing on the sand ridges, but on searching
for him in the morning he was gone, and I had to walk twelve miles over
the heavy sand tracking him, the boy following along our outward track
with the other horse, for fear of missing the man who was to meet us with

The stray horse had fortunately kept near the line we had followed in
going to the lake, and I came upon him in a very weak and miserable
condition, soon after the arrival of the man who had been sent to meet us
with water. By care and slow travelling, we reached the depot safely in
the afternoon, having crossed in going and returning, upwards of 100
miles of desert country, during the last three days, in which the horses
had got nothing either to eat or drink. It is painful in the extreme, to
be obliged to subject them to such hardships, but alas, in such a
country, what else can be done.

In the evening, I directed the overseer to have every thing got ready for
breaking up our encampment on the morrow, as the party had been fifteen
days in depot, and little else than mud remained in the hole which had
supplied them with water.

August 25.--Slight showers during the night, and the day dark and cloudy,
with rather an oppressive atmosphere. The horses had strayed during the
night, so that it was nine o'clock before we got away.

We had scarcely left the place of encampment, when shoutings were heard,
and signal fires lit up in every direction by the natives, to give
warning I imagine of our being abroad, and to call stragglers to their
camp. These people had still remained in our immediate vicinity, and were
now assembled in very considerable numbers on the brow of one of the
front ridges, to watch us pass by. They would not approach us, but as the
drays moved on kept running in a line with them, at some distance, and
occasionally shouting and gesticulating in an unintelligible manner.

In our first and only intercourse with these natives, we had
unfortunately given them just cause of offence, and I was most anxious,
if possible, before leaving, to efface the unfavourable impression which
they had received. Letting the drays therefore move on, I remained behind
with Mr. Scott, leading our horses, and trying to induce some of the
natives to come up to us; for a long time, however, our efforts were in
vain, but at last I succeeded in persuading a fine athletic looking man
to approach within a moderate distance; I then shewed him a tomahawk,
which I laid on the ground, making signs that I intended it for him. When
I had retired a little, he went and took it up, evidently comprehending
its use, and appearing much pleased with the gift; the others soon
congregated around him, and Mr. Scott and I mounting our horses, followed
the party, leaving the sable council to discuss the merits of their new
acquisition, and hoping that the unfavourable opinion with which we had
at first impressed them, would be somewhat modified for the future.

Steering N. 43 degrees W. for five miles, and then winding through the
range, in the bed of a watercourse to the plains on the other side, we
took a direction of E. 20 degrees N. for fifteen miles, arriving about
dark upon a small channel that I had crossed on the 14th of August. Here
was good feed for the horses, and plenty of water a little way up among
the hills. This watercourse I had not examined when I was here before,
preferring to trace up the larger one beyond instead. Had I followed
this, I should easily have found water, and been relieved from much of
the anxiety which I had then undergone.

In travelling through a country previously unexplored, no pains should be
spared in examining every spot, even the most unlikely, where it is
possible for water to exist, for after searching in vain, in large deep
rocky and likely looking watercourses, I have frequently found water in
some small branch or gorge, that had appeared too insignificant, or too
uninviting to require to be explored. This I named The Mundy, after my
friend, Alfred Mundy, Esq., now the Colonial Secretary of South

Early this morning, I took Mr. Scott with me, to examine The Mundy,
leaving the overseer to proceed with the party.

After entering the hills a short distance, we found in the bed of the
Mundy a strongly running stream, connecting several reaches of waters,
upon which many black ducks were sailing about. This appeared to be one
of the finest and best streams we had yet discovered, although the water
was slightly impregnated with alum. After the watercourse left the hills,
the surface water all disappeared, the drainage being then absorbed by
the light sandy soil of the plains, and this had invariably been the case
with all the waters emanating from Flinders range.

Crossing some stony ridges, we followed the party up the large
watercourse, which I had traced so far on the 5th of August, since named
the Burr, after the Deputy Surveyor-general of the colony, and at
nineteen miles halted early in the afternoon, at some springs rising
among rocks and rushes in its bed. The water was very brackish, though
drinkable, but did not extend far on either side of the spot we were
encamped at, and when after dinner, I took a long walk up the watercourse
to search for more, I was unable to find any either in the main channel
or its branches. The grass was abundant and good. The latitude of the
camp I ascertained to be 30 degrees 27 minutes S.

August 27.--Having risen and breakfasted very early, I took Mr. Scott and
a native boy with me, and steered for a very high hill with rather a
rounded summit, bearing from our camp E. 17 degrees S. This I named Mount
Serle, in accordance with a request made to me before my departure, by
the Governor, that I would name some remarkable feature in the country
after Mr. Serle. This was the most prominent object we had hitherto met
with; among high ranges it appeared the highest, and from a height above
our present encampment, it had been selected by us as the most likely
point from which to obtain a view to the eastward.

The elevation of this hill could not be less than three thousand feet
above the level of the sea; but unfortunately, the injury my barometer
had sustained in the escape of some of the mercury, and my being unable
to fill it again properly, quite precluded me from ascertaining the
height with accuracy.

In our route to Mount Serle, we observed another hill rather more to the
northward, seemingly of as great an altitude as Mount Serle itself; this
was not situate in the Mount Serle range, nor had it been seen by us in
our view from the height above the depot.

At ten miles from our camp, we came to a large watercourse, emanating
from the Mount Serle range on the south side, and running close under its
western aspect, with an abundance of excellent clear water in it. This I
named the Frome, after the Surveyor-general of the colony, to whose
kindness I was so much indebted in preparing my outfit and for the loan
of instruments for the use of the expedition.

Having watered our horses we tied them up to some trees, and commenced
the ascent of Mount Serle on foot. The day was exceedingly hot, and we
found our task a much harder one than we had anticipated, being compelled
to wind up and down several steep and rugged ridges before we could reach
the main one.

At length, however, having overcome all difficulties we stood upon the
summit of the mountain. Our view was then extensive and final. At one
glance I saw the realization of my worst forebodings; and the termination
of the expedition of which I had the command. Lake Torrens now faced us
to the east, whilst on every side we were hemmed in by a barrier which we
could never hope to pass. Our toils and labours and privations, had all
been endured to no purpose; and the only alternative left us would be to
return, disappointed and baffled.

To the north and north-west the horizon was unbroken to the naked eye,
but with the aid of a powerful telescope I could discover fragments of
table land similar to those I had seen in the neighbourhood of the lake
in that direction. At N. 8 degrees W. a very small haycock-looking hill
might be seen above the level waste, probably the last of the low spurs
of Flinders range to the north. To the north-east, the view was
obstructed by a high range immediately in front of us, but to the east
and as far as E. 13 degrees S. we saw through a break in the hills, a
broad glittering belt in appearance, like the bed of a lake, but
apparently dry.

The ranges seemed to continue to the eastward of Mount Serle for about
fifteen miles, and then terminated abruptly in a low, level,
scrubby-looking country, also about fifteen miles in extent, between the
hills and the borders of the lake. The latter appearing about twenty-five
miles across, whilst beyond it was a level region without a height or
elevation of any kind.

Connecting the view before me with the fact that on the 14th August, when
in about lat. 29 degrees S., I had found Lake Torrens turning round to
the north-east, and had observed no continuation of Flinders range to the
eastward of my position, I could now no longer doubt that I had almost
arrived at the termination of that range, and that the glittering belt I
now saw to the east, was in fact only an arm of the lake taking the
drainage from its eastern slopes.

Sad and painful were the thoughts that occupied my mind in returning to
the camp. Hitherto, even when placed in the most difficult or desperate
circumstances I was cheered by hope, but now I had no longer even that
frail solace to cling to, there was no mistaking the nature of the
country, by which we were surrounded on every side, and no room for
doubting its impracticability.

Chapter VII.


Upon returning to the depot at the Burr, I decided upon making an
excursion to the north-east, to ascertain the actual termination of
Flinders range, and the nature of the prospect beyond it; not to satisfy
myself, for a single glance from the eminence I had recently occupied at
Mount Serle, had for ever set my curiosity at rest on these points, but
in discharge of the duty I owed to the Governor, and the promoters of the
expedition, who could not be expected to be satisfied with a bare
conjecture on a subject which they had sent me practically to
demonstrate, however fairly from circumstances the conclusions might be
deduced at which I had been compelled to arrive. Accordingly, on the
morning of the 29th, I took with me my overseer, one man, a native boy,
and a cart drawn by three horses to carry water; and making an early
start, proceeded to attempt for the last time to penetrate into those
regions of gloom.

After travelling ten miles, we arrived at the Frome, where we watered and
fed the horses. From this place I sent the overseer on before us, to see
how far the water extended, that we might determine where to fix our
halting-place for the night. After resting awhile we proceeded on with
the cart, tracing down the watercourse over a very rough and stony road
on which the cart was upset, but without any serious damage, and passing
several very large and fine water-holes with many teal and wood-duck upon

At eight miles from where we lunched, we encamped with abundance of
water, but very little grass. The latitude by meridian altitude of Altair
was 30 degrees 18 minutes 30 seconds S. In the evening the overseer
returned, and stated there was water for nine miles further, but that the
road was very rocky and bad.

August 30.--Leaving the overseer to bring on the cart, I rode on a-head
down the watercourse to trace the continuance of the water. The road I
found to be very bad, and at twenty-three miles, upon tasting the water I
found it as salt as the sea, and the bed of the creek quite impracticable
for a cart; I therefore hurried back for seven miles, and halted the
party at the last good water-hole, which was about sixteen miles from our
yesterday's camp.

We had seen many ducks during the day, two of which I shot, and the black
boy found a nest with fresh eggs in it, so that we fared more luxuriously
than usual. The night set in very dark and windy, but no rain fell.

August 31.--This morning I sent the overseer back to the depot with the
cart and two horses, whilst I and the native boy proceeded on our route
on horseback, taking also a man leading a pack-horse to carry water for
us the first day. Following down the watercourse, we passed through some
imposing scenery, consisting of cliffs from six to eight hundred feet in
height, rising perpendicularly from their bases, below which were
recesses, into which the sun never shone, and whose gloomy grandeur
imparted a melancholy cast to the thoughts and feelings, in unison with
the sublimity of the scene around.

After travelling twelve miles from the camp, we got clear of the hills,
and found an open country before us to the north; through this we
proceeded for ten miles further, still following the direction of the
watercourse, and halting upon it for the night, after having made a stage
of twenty-two miles. We had tolerable grass for the horses, but were
obliged to give them water from the kegs.

At this place I was much astonished to see four white cockatoos, flying
about among the gum-trees in the watercourse, and immediately commenced a
narrow search for water, as I knew those birds did not frequently go far
away from it: there was not, however, a drop to be found anywhere, nor
the least sign of there having been any for a long time. What made the
circumstance of finding cockatoos here so surprising and unusual was,
that for the last two hundred miles we had never seen one at all. Where
then had these four birds come from? could it be that they had followed
under Flinders range from the south, and had strayed so far away from all
others of their kind, or had they come from some better country beyond
the desert by which I was surrounded, or how was that country to be
attained, supposing it to exist? Time only may reply to these queries,
but the occasion which prompted them was, to say the least,

Towards night the sky became overcast with clouds, and as I saw that we
should have rain, I set to work with the boy and made a house of boughs
for our protection, but the man who accompanied us was too indolent to
take the same precaution, thinking probably that the rain would pass away
as it had often done before. In this, however, he was disappointed, for
the rain came down in torrents [Note 7 at end para.]--in an hour or two
the whole country was inundated, and he was taught a lesson of industry at
the expense of a thorough and unmitigated drenching.

[Note 7: This will not appear surprising, when the great amount of rain
which falls annually in some parts of Australia, is taken into account.
The Count Strzelecki gives 62.68 inches, as the average annual fall for
upwards of twenty years, at Port Macquarie.--At p. 193, that gentleman
remarks:--"The greatest fall of rain recorded in New South Wales, during
24 hours, amounted to 25 inches. (Port Jackson)."]

September 1.--This morning I sent the man back to the depot with the
pack-horse, with orders to the overseer to move back the party as rapidly
as possible towards Mount Arden, that by taking advantage of the rain we
might make a short route through the plains, and avoid the necessity of
going up among the rugged and stony watercourses of the hills.

This retrograde movement was rendered absolutely necessary from our
present position, for since we had wound through the hills to the north,
and come out upon the open plains, I saw that Flinders range had
terminated, and I now only wished to trace its northern termination so
far east as to enable me to see round it to the southward, as well as to
ascertain the character and appearance of the country to the north and to
the east; as soon therefore as the man had left, I proceeded at a course
of E. 35 degrees N. for a low and very distant elevation, apparently the
last of the hills to the eastward, this I named Mount Distance, for it
deceived us greatly as to the distance we were from it.

In passing through the plains, which were yesterday so arid and dry, I
found immense pools, nay almost large reaches of water lodged in the
hollows, and in which boats might have floated. Such was the result of
only an hour or two's rain, whilst the ground itself, formerly so hard,
was soft and boggy in the extreme, rendering progress much slower and
more fatiguing to the horses than it otherwise would have been. By
steadily persevering we made a stage of thirty-five miles, but were
obliged to encamp at night some miles short of the little height I had
been steering for.

During our ride we passed several dry watercourses at five, ten,
twenty-five, thirty, and thirty-five miles from our last encampment. The
last we halted upon with good feed for the horses, and rainwater lodged
everywhere. All these watercourses took their course to the north,
emptying and losing themselves in the plains. In the evening heavy
showers again fell, and the night set in very dark.

September 2.--After travelling seven miles we ascended Mount Distance,
and from it I could see that the hills now bore S. and S.E. and were
getting much lower, so that we were rapidly rounding their northern
extremity. To the north and north-east were seen only broken fragments of
table lands, similar to what I found near the lake to the north-west; the
lake itself, however, was nowhere visible, and I saw that I should have
another day's hard riding before I could satisfactorily determine its
direction. Upon descending I steered for a distant low haycock-like peak
in the midst of one of the table-topped fragments; from this rise I
expected the view would be decisive, and I named it Mount Hopeless.--From
Mount Distance it bore E. 25 degrees N.

Crossing many little stony ridges, and passing the channel of several
watercourses, I discovered a new and still more disheartening feature in
the country, the existence of brine springs. Hitherto we had found
brackish and occasionally salt water in some of the watercourses, but by
tracing them up among the hills, we had usually found the quality to
improve as we advanced, but now the springs were out in the open plains,
and the water poisoned at its very source.

Occasionally round the springs were a few coarse rushes, but the soil in
other respects was quite bare, destitute of vegetation, and thickly
coated over with salt, presenting the most miserable and melancholy
aspect imaginable. We were now in nearly the same latitude as that in
which Captain Sturt had discovered brine springs in the bed of the
Darling, and which had rendered even that river so perfectly salt that
his party could not make use of it.

September 2.--At thirty-five miles we reached the little elevation I had
been steering for, and ascended Mount Hopeless, and cheerless and
hopeless indeed was the prospect before us. As I had anticipated, the
view was both extensive and decisive. We were now past all the ranges;
and for three quarters of the compass, extending from south, round by
east and north, to west, the horizon was one unbroken level, except where
the fragments of table land, or the ridge of the lake, interrupted its

The lake was now visible to the north and to the east; and I had at last
ascertained, beyond all doubt, that its basin, commencing near the head
of Spencer's Gulf, and following the course of Flinders range (bending
round its northern extreme to the southward), constituted those hills the
termination of the island of South Australia, for such I imagine it once
to have been. This closed all my dreams as to the expedition, and put an
end to an undertaking from which so much was anticipated. I had now a
view before me that would have damped the ardour of the most
enthusiastic, or dissipated the doubts of the most seeptical. To the
showers that fell on the evening of the 31st of August, we were solely
indebted for having been able to travel thus far; had there been much
more rain the country would have been impracticable for horses,--if less
we could not have procured water to have enabled us to make such a push
as we had done.

The lake where it was visible, appeared, as it had ever done, to be from
twenty-five to thirty miles across, and its distance from Mount Hopeless
was nearly the same. The hills to the S. and S. W. of us, seemed to
terminate on the eastern slopes, as abruptly as on the western; and from
the point where we stood, we could distinctly trace by the gum-trees, the
direction of watercourses emanating from among them, taking northerly,
north-easterly, easterly and south-easterly courses, according to the
point of the range they came from. This had been the case during the
whole of our route under Flinder's range. We had at first found the
watercourses going to the south of west, then west, north-west, north,
and now north-east, east and south-east. I had, at the same time,
observed all around this mountain mass, the appearance of the bed of a
large lake, following the general course of the ranges on every side, and
receiving, apparently, the whole drainage from them.

On its western, and north-western shores, I had ascertained by actual
examination, that its basin was a very low level, clearly defined, and
effectually inclosed by an elevated continuous sandy ridge, like the
outer boundary of a sea-shore, its area being of immense extent, and its
bed of so soft and yielding a nature, as to make it quite impossible to
cross it. All these points I had decided positively, and finally, as far
as regards that part of Lake Torrens, from near the head of Spencer's
Gulf, to the most north-westerly part of it, which I visited on the 14th
of August, embracing a course of fully 200 miles in its outline. I had
done this, too, under circumstances of great difficulty, toil, and
anxiety, and not without the constant risk of losing my horses, from the
fatigues and privations of the forced labours I was obliged to impose
upon them.

Having ascertained these particulars, and at so much hazard, relative to
Lake Torrens, for so great a part of its course, what conclusion could I
arrive at with regard to the character of its other half to the
north-east, and east of Flinders ranges, as seen from Mount Hopeless, and
Mount Serle points, nearly ninety miles apart! The appearances from the
ranges were similar; the trend of all the watercourses was to the same
basin, and undoubtedly that basin, if traced far enough, must be of
nearly the same level on the eastern, as on the western side of the
ranges. I had completely ascertained that Flinders range had terminated
to the eastward, the north-east, and the north; that there were no hills
or elevations connected with it beyond, in any of these directions, and
that the horizon every where was one low uninterrupted level.

With such data, and under such circumstances, what other opinion could I
possibly arrive at, than that the bed of Lake Torrens was nearly similar
in its character, and equally impracticable in its eastern, as its
western arm; and that, considering the difficulties I had encountered,
and the hazards I had subjected myself to, in ascertaining these points
so minutely on the western side, I could not be justified in renewing
those risks to the eastward, where the nature and extent of the
impediments were so self-evidently the same, and where there was not the
slightest hope of any useful result being attained by it.

I was now more than a hundred miles away from my party; and having sent
them orders to move back towards Mount Arden, I had no time to lose in
following them. With bitter feelings of disappointment I turned from the
dreary and cheerless scene around me, and pushing the horses on as well
as circumstances would allow, succeeded in retracing ten miles of my
course by a little after dark, having completed a stage of fully
forty-five miles during the day. Here there was tolerable good grass, and
plenty of water from the late rains, so that the horses were more
fortunate on this excursion than usual. I observed the variation to be 4
degrees E.

September 3.--Travelling early, we made a long stage of about forty
miles, and encamped with good grass and water. During the day we caught
four young emus in the plains, which we roasted for supper, being very
hungry, and upon short allowance, as I had not calculated upon remaining
out so long; the black boy enjoyed them exceedingly, and I managed to get
through one myself. They were about the size of full grown fowls.

September 4.--Making a very early start, we travelled twenty miles to the
watercourse, where we had encamped on the 31st of August, striking it a
little lower down. As I had left one or two trifles here, that I wished
to take on with me, I sent the black boy for them, telling him to follow
my tracks while I went slowly on. Upon finding that he did not overtake
me so soon as I expected, I halted for some time, but still he did not
come up, and I again proceeded; for as I had left my former track, I
concluded he had taken that line, and thus missed me. Steering,
therefore, across the hills, some of which were very stony and broken, I
made for the Mundy, which I reached very late in the evening, and found
the party safely encamped there.

I had rode fifty-five miles, and had been on horseback about thirteen
hours, so that both myself and horse were well nigh knocked up. The black
boy had not arrived, nor did he come up during the night.

The next day, becoming uneasy about his absence, I detained the party in
the camp, and sent Mr. Scott to search for him, who fortunately met him
almost immediately he had left us. The boy's detention had been
occasioned by the fagged condition of his horse, which prevented the
possibility of his overtaking me. As the day was wet, I did not move on,
but gave the party a day's rest, whilst I employed myself in meditating
upon the disappointment I had experienced, and the future steps it might
be most advisable to take to carry out the objects of the expedition. I
was still determined not to give up the undertaking,--but rather to
attempt to penetrate either to the eastward or westward, and to try to
find some other line of route that might afford a practicable opening to
the interior.

September 6.--Moving on the party early to-day, I pushed steadily towards
the depot near Mount Arden. In doing this, the favourable state of the
weather enabled us to keep more in the open plains, and thus both to
avoid a good deal of rough ground, and to shorten the road considerably.

Upon mustering the horses on the 9th, the overseer reported to me that
one of them was lying down with a broken leg, and upon going to examine
him, I found that it was one of the police horses kindly lent to the
expedition by the Governor. During the night some other horse had kicked
him and broken the thigh bone of the hind leg. The poor animal was in
great pain and unable to rise at all, I was therefore obliged to order
the overseer to shoot him. By this accident we lost a most useful horse
at a time when we could but ill spare one.

During our progress to the south we had frequently showers and
occasionally heavy rains, which lodging in puddles on the plains,
supplied us abundantly with water, and we were unusually fortunate enough
to obtain grass also. We were thus enabled to push on upon nearly a
straight course, which, after seven days of hard travelling, brought us
once more, on the afternoon of the 12th, to our old position at the depot
near Mount Arden. I had intended to have halted the party here for a day
or two, to recruit after the severe march we had just terminated; but the
weather was so favourable and the season so far advanced, that I did not
like to lose an hour in following out my prospective plans.

During the homeward journey from the Mundy, I had reflected much on the
position in which I was placed, and spent many an anxious hour in
deliberating as to the future. I had one of three alternatives to choose,
either to give up the expedition altogether;--to cross to the Murray to
the east and follow up that river to the Darling;--or by crossing over to
Streaky Bay to the westward, to endeavour to find some opening leading
towards the interior in that direction. After weighing well the
advantages and disadvantages of each (and there were many objections to
them all,) I determined upon adopting the last, for reasons which will be
found in my Report sent to the Governor, and to the Chairman of the
Northern Expedition Committee from Port Lincoln. [Note 8: Vide Chapter
IX.] My mind having thus been made up, I knew, from former experience,
that I had no time to lose, now that the weather was showery and
favourable, and that if I delayed at all in putting my plans into
execution I might probably be unable to cross from Mount Arden to
Streaky Bay. The distance between these two points was upwards of
two hundred miles, through a barren and desert region, in which,
though among high ranges, I had on a former occasion been unable to
discover any permanent water, and through which we could only hope
to pass by taking advantage of the puddles left by the late rains;
I therefore decided upon halting at the depot to rest the horses
even for a day; and the party had no sooner reached their encampment,
than, while one portion of the men took the horses up the watercourse to
water, the others were employed in digging up the stores we had buried
here, and in repacking and rearranging all the loads ready to move on
again immediately. By the evening all the arrangements were completed and
the whole party retired to rest much fatigued.

Chapter VIII.


September 13.--UPON leaving the depot this morning I was obliged to leave
behind a very large tarpaulin which we did not require, and which from
the extra weight we had last night put upon the drays, we could not
conveniently carry. Steering to the south-west we came at twelve miles to
the head of Spencer's Gulf, and crossed the channel connecting it with
Lake Torrens. At this place it is not very wide, but its bed like that of
the lake is soft and boggy, with salt water mixed with the mud. We had a
good deal of difficulty in getting over it, and one of the drays having
stuck fast, we had to unload it, carrying the things over on men's backs.
A few miles beyond this we halted for the night, where there was good
grass for the horses and plenty of water in the puddles around us. We
crossed principally during the day, a rather heavy sandy country, but
were now encamped in plains of a firmer and better character for the

September 14.--Travelling on through open plains with loose gravelly
stones, lying on their surface, we passed to the south of a small
table-topped hill, visible from Mount Arden, and very much resembling the
fragments of table land that I had met with to the north. This however
was somewhat larger than those, and though steep-sided as they were it
did not disclose the same white strata of chalk and gypsum, its formation
being more rocky and of rather a slaty character.

September 15.--Pushing on rapidly over extensive plains very similar to
those we had already crossed, we arrived, after a long stage, under
Baxter's range, and encamped upon a small channel coming from it, with
abundance of water and good grass. This range is high and rocky, rising
abruptly out of the plains, and distinctly visible from Mount Arden, from
which it is about fifty miles distant. Its formation is entirely
conglomerate of rather a coarse description. Among its rugged overhanging
steeps are many of the large red species of wallabie similar to those we
had seen to the north at the Scott. Two of these we shot. The latitude of
our camp at Baxter's range was 32 degrees 40 minutes S.

September 16.--Remained in camp to-day to rest the horses and prepare for
dividing the party, as from the great abundance of rain that had fallen,
I no longer apprehended a scarcity of water on the route to Streaky Bay,
and therefore decided upon sending my overseer across with the party,
whilst I myself took a dray down direct to Port Lincoln, on the west side
of Spencer's Gulf, to obtain additional supplies, with the intention of
joining them again at Streaky Bay.

Having spent some time in taking bearings from the summit of Baxter's
range, I examined all the channels and gorges coming from it, and in most
of these I found water. I am of opinion however that in a very dry
season, the water which I now found will be quite dried up, and
especially in the largest of the watercourses, or the one upon which we
were encamped. [Note 9: In October 1842, this was quite dry, but water was
still found in holes in the rocks in the southernmost gorge, above the
waterfall, at the base of which water was also procured by digging in
the gravel.]

A little further south, there is a rocky ravine winding through a gorge
and terminating in a waterfall, with a large pool of beautiful water at
the base, and with many large and deep holes of water in the rocks above.
In this ravine I imagine water might be procured at any period of the
year, and I am confirmed in this opinion by the circumstance of three
well beaten native roads, coming from different points of the compass,
and all converging at this place. This is an important position for
parties crossing to the westward, or going overland to Port Lincoln.
Baxter's range is the nearest point at which permanent water can be
procured on the west side of the head of Spencer's Gulf, as the Depot
creek near Mount Arden is on the eastern. Having completed my examination
of the range, and taken all my observations, I spent the remainder of the
day in constructing a chart of my former route from Streaky Bay in 1839,
and in writing out instructions for the overseer during my absence, as a
guide for him in crossing to the westward.

September 17.--Placing under the charge of the overseer, two drays, seven
of our best horses, all the sheep, one native boy, and two men, I saw him
fairly started this morning, and wished him a speedy and prosperous
journey. I had left with me one dray, five horses, one man, one native
boy, and Mr. Scott; with fourteen days provision and forty gallons of
water. Steering S. 25 degrees W. for sixteen miles, we halted for the
night upon a patch of tolerable grass but without any water; I was
consequently obliged to give a bucket of water to each of the horses out
of the small stock which we had brought with us. The country we travelled
through was low, level, and for the most part covered with salsolae, or
brush, the latter in some places being very dense, and causing great
fatigue to the horses in dragging the dray through it.

September 18.--Upon taking a view of the country, this morning, previous
to starting, it appeared so low and level, and held out so little
prospect of our finding water, that I was induced to deviate from the
course I had laid down, and steering S. 20 degrees E. made for some hills
before us. After travelling four miles upon this course, I observed a
native fire upon the hills at a bearing of S. 40 degrees E. and
immediately turned towards it, fully hoping that it was at a native camp
and in the immediate vicinity of water.

At eight miles we were close under the hills, but found the dray could
not cross the front ridges; I therefore left Mr. Scott to keep a course
parallel with the range, whilst I and the native boy rode across to where
we had seen the fire. Upon arriving at the spot I was greatly
disappointed to find, instead of a native camp, only a few burning
bushes, which had either been lit as a signal by the natives, after
noticing us in the plains, or was one of those casual fires so frequently
left by them on their line of march. I found the hills scrubby, barren,
and rocky, with much prickly grass growing upon their slopes. There were
no watercourses upon the west side of the range at all, nor could I by
tracing up some short rocky valleys coming from steep gorges in the face
of the hill find any water. The rock was principally of ironstone
formation. Upon ascending to the summit of the hill, I had an extensive
but unsatisfactory view, a vast level field of scrub stretching every
where around me, interspersed here and there with the beds of small dried
up lakes, but with no signs of water any where. At S. W. by S. I saw the
smoke of a native fire rising in the plains. Hurrying down from the
range, I followed the dray, and as soon as I overtook it, halted for the
night in the midst of a thick scrub of large tea-trees and minor shrubs.
There was a little grass scattered among the trees, on which, by giving
our horses two buckets of water each, they were able to feed tolerably
well. During the day we had travelled over a very heavy sandy country and
through dense brush, and our horses were much jaded. Occasionally we had
passed small dried up salt lakes and the beds of salt water channels; but
even these did not appear to have had any water in them for a long time.

Upon halting the party, I sent Mr. Scott to explore the range further
south than I had been, whilst I myself went to search among the salt
lakes to the southwest. We, however, both returned equally unsuccessful,
and I now found that I should be compelled to send the dray back for a
supply of water from Baxter's range. The country was so scrubby and
difficult to get a dray through that our progress was necessarily slow;
and in the level waste before us I had no hope of finding water for some
distance further. I thought, therefore, that if the dray could bring a
supply to last us for two days after leaving our present encampment, we
should then be enabled to make a fresh push through a considerable extent
of bad country, and might have a better chance of finding water as we
advanced to the south-west.

September 19.--This morning I unloaded the dray of every thing except the
water casks, and pitching my tent among the scrub took up my quarters
alone, whilst I sent back the man, the native boy, the dray, and all the
horses with Mr. Scott to Baxter's range. As they made an early start, I
gave them instructions to push on as rapidly as possible, so as to get
the range that night, to rest the horses next day and fill the casks with
water, and on the third day, if possible, to return the whole distance
and rejoin me.

Having seen them fairly away, I occupied myself in writing and charting
during the day, and at night amused myself in taking stellar observations
for latitude. I had already taken the altitude of Vega, and deduced the
latitude to be 32 degrees 3 minutes 23 seconds S.; leaving my artificial
horizon on the ground outside whilst I remained in the tent waiting until
Altair came to the meridian, I then took my sextant and went out to
observe this star also; but upon putting down my hand to take hold of the
horizon glass in order to wipe the dew off, my fingers went into the
quick-silver--the horizon glass was gone, and also the piece of canvass I
had put on the ground to lie down upon whilst observing so low an
altitude as that of Vega. Searching a little more I missed a spade, a
parcel of horse shoes, an axe, a tin dish, some ropes, a grubbing hoe,
and several smaller things which had been left outside the tent, as not
being likely to take any injury from the damp.

It was evident I was surrounded by natives, who had stolen all these
things during the short time I had been in my tent, certainly not
exceeding half an hour. The night was very windy and I had heard nothing,
besides I was encamped in the midst of a very dense brush of large
wide-spreading tea-trees and other bushes, any of which would afford a
screen for a considerable number of natives. In daylight it was
impossible to see many yards in distance, and nothing could be discerned
at night.

The natives must have watched the dray go away in the morning, and waited
until dark for their opportunity to rob me; and most daringly and
effectually had they done it. At the time that I lay on the ground,
taking the star's altitude, they must have been close to me, and after I
went into the tent, they doubtless saw me sitting there by the light of
the candle, since the door was not quite closed, and they had come quite
in front to obtain some of the things they had stolen. The only wonder
with me was that they had not speared me, as they could scarcely have
been intimidated by my individual presence.

As soon as I missed my horizon glass, and entertained the suspicion of
natives being about, I hurried into the tent and lighting a large blue
light, run with it rapidly through the bushes around me. The effect of
this was very beautiful amidst the darkness and gloom of the woods, and
for a great distance in every direction objects could be seen as well as
by day; the natives, however, were gone, and I could only console myself
by firing a couple of balls after them through the underwood to warn them
of the danger of intruding upon me again; I then put every thing which
had been left outside, into the tent, and kept watch for an hour or two,
but my visitors came no more. The shots, or the blue light, had
effectually frightened them. They had, however, in their turn, produced
as great an effect upon me, and had at least deprived me of one night's

September 20.--Rising very early I set to work, with an axe, to clear
away the bushes from around my tent. I now discovered that the natives
had been concealed behind a large tea-tree not twenty yards from the
tent; there were numerous foot-marks there, and the remains of
fire-sticks which they had brought with them, for a native rarely moves
at night without fire.

By working hard I cleared a large circle with a radius of from thirty to
forty yards, and then piling up all the bushes outside and around the
tent, which was in the centre, I was completely fortified, and my sable
friends could no longer creep upon me to steal without my hearing them. I
spent great part of the day in charting, and took a few angles from the
tent, but did not dare to venture far away. At night, when it was dark, I
mounted guard with my gun for three hours, walking round outside the
tent, and firing off my gun before I lay down, which I did with my
clothes on, ready to get up at a moment's notice. Nothing, however,
disturbed me.

September 21.--I had been occupied during the greater part of the day in
charting, and in the evening was just shouldering my gun to mount guard
again, when I was delighted to see Mr. Scott returning with the dray, and
the party all safe. They had executed the duty entrusted to them well,
and had lost no time in rejoining me; the horses were, however, somewhat
fatigued, having come all the way from the range in one day. Being now
reinforced, I had no longer occasion to mount guard, and for the first
time since the natives had stolen upon me, enjoyed a sound sleep.

September 22.--Moving on the party for ten miles at a course of S. 35
degrees W., we passed through a dreadful country, composed of dense scrub
and heavy sandy ridges, with some salt water channels and beds of small
dry lakes at intervals. In many cases the margins bounding these were
composed of a kind of decomposed lime, very light and loose, which
yielded to the slightest pressure; in this our horses and drays sank
deep, throwing out as they went, clouds of fine white dust on every side
around them. This, added to the very fatiguing and harassing work of
dragging the dray through the thick scrub and over the heavy sand ridges,
almost knocked them up, and we had the sad prospect before us of
encamping at night without a blade of grass for them to eat. Just at this
juncture the native boy who was with me, said he saw rocks in one of the
distant sand hills, but upon examining the place with a telescope I could
not make out distinctly whether they were rocks or only sand. The boy
however persisted that there were rocks, and to settle the point I halted
the dray in camp, whilst I proceeded with him to the spot to look.

At seven miles W. 10 degrees S. of the drays we reached the ridge, and to
my great delight I found the boy was right; he had seen the bare sheets
of granite peeping out near the summit of a sandy elevation, and in these
we found many holes with water in them. At the base of the hill too, was
an opening with good grass around, and a fine spring of pure water.
Hastening back to the dray, I conducted the party to the hills, which I
named Refuge Rocks, for such they were to us in our difficulties, and
such they may be to many future travellers who may have to cross this
dreary desert.

From the nature of the road and the exhausted state of our horses, it was
very late when we encamped, but as the position was so favourable a one
to recruit at, I determined to take advantage of it, and remain a couple
of days for that purpose.

September 23.--Leaving my party to rest, after the fatigue they had
endured in forcing a way through the scrub, I set off after breakfast to
reconnoitre our position at Refuge Rocks, and to take a series of angles.
The granite elevation, under which we were encamped, I found to be one of
three small hills, forming a triangle, about a mile apart from each
other, and having sheets of granite lying exposed upon their summits,
containing deep holes which receive and retain water after rains. The
hill we were encamped under, was the highest of the three, and the only
one under which there was a spring. [Note 10: This was dried up in
October, 1842.] There was also better grass here than around either of the
other two; it appeared, too, to be the favourite halting place of the
natives, many of whose encampments still remained, and some of which
appeared to have been in use not very long ago. The bearings from the hill
we were under, of the other two elevations, which, with it, constitute
the Refuge Rocks, were N. 15 degrees W. and W. 35 degrees N. Baxter's
range was still visible in the distance, appearing low and wedge-shaped,
with the high end towards the east, at a bearing of N. 24 degrees E.
In the western extreme it bore N. 22 degrees E. Many other hills and
peaks were apparent in various directions, to all of which I took
angles, and then returned to the tent to observe the sun's meridian
altitude for latitude. By this observation, I made the latitude
33 degrees 11 minutes 12 seconds S.; but an altitude of Altair
at night only gave 33 degrees 10 minutes 6 seconds S.; probably
the mean of the two, or 33 degrees 10 minutes 39 seconds S., will be very
nearly the true position of the spring. From the summit of the hill I had
been upon, many native fires were visible in the scrub, in almost every
direction around. At one time I counted eleven different fires from the
smokes that were ascending, and some of which were very near us. Judging
from these facts, the natives appeared to be numerous in this part of the
country, and it would be necessary to be very cautious and vigilant after
the instance I had recently met with of their cunning and daring.

September 24.--I still kept my party in camp to refresh the horses, and
occupied myself during the morning in preparing a sketch of my route to
the north, to send to the Governor from Port Lincoln. In the afternoon, I
searched for a line of road for our drays to pass, on the following day,
through the scrubby and sandy country, which still appeared to continue
in every direction.

September 25.--Leaving Refuge Rocks, at a course of S. 37 degrees W., we
passed over a wretched country, consisting principally of heavy sandy
ridges, very densely covered with scrub, and giving our horses a severe
and fagging day's work to get the dray along for only twelve miles. I
then halted, as we were fortunate enough to find an opening in the scrub,
with good grass. Searching about our encampment, I found in a small
valley at one end of the little plain, a round hole, dug by the natives,
to catch the drainage from the slope above it. There were two or three
quarts of water in this hole when we discovered it; but by enlarging it,
we managed to fill a bucket once every hour from the water which drained
into it. This enabled us to save, to some extent, the water we had in our
casks, at the same time that all the horses had as much as they could
drink. I took angles from the camp to all the hills in sight, and at
night made the latitude of the tent 33 degrees 18 minutes 34 seconds S.
by an altitude of a Cygnus.

September 26.--After travelling for thirteen miles at S. 40 degrees W., I
took a set of angles from a low scrubby hill, being the last opportunity
I should have of setting many of the heights, of which I had obtained
bearings from former camps. I then changed our course to S. 27 degrees W.
for five miles, and halted for the night where there was good grass. We
could find no water during the day; I had, consequently, to give the
horses some out of the casks. The country we traversed had altered
greatly in character, and though still heavy and sandy, it was a white
coarse gritty sand, instead of a fine red; and instead of the dense
cucalyptus scrub, we had now low heathy shrubs which did not present much
impediment to the progress of the dray, and many of which bore very
beautiful flowers. Granite was frequently met with during the day, but no
water could be found. Our latitude by an altitude of a Aquilae was 33
degrees 30 minutes S.

September 27.--Continuing our last night's course for about seven miles,
we passed through the densest scrub I had yet met with; fortunately, it
was not growing upon a sandy soil, and we got tolerably well through it,
but the horses suffered severely. Upon emerging from the brush, I noticed
a little green looking valley, about a mile off our track, and sent Mr.
Scott to see if there was water there. Upon his return, he reported that
there was, and I at once moved down to it, to rest the horses after the
toil of breaking through the scrub. The day was not far advanced when we
halted, and I was enabled to obtain the sun's altitude at noon, making
the latitude of the camp 33 degrees 34 minutes 25 seconds S. There was
good grass for the horses, and abundance of water left by the rains in
the hollows of a small watercourse, running between two scrubby ridges.

September 28.--Making an early start, we crossed at four and a half
miles, a low scrubby range, and there found, upon the left of our track,
some very pretty grassy hills, and a valley lightly wooded with
casuarinae. Whilst I went on with the party, I detached Mr. Scott to see
if there was water at this little patch of good country, but he did not
find any. I am still of opinion, however, that if more time for
examination had been allowed, springs would have been discovered not far
away; as every thing looked so green and luxuriant, and formed so strong
a contrast to the country around.

Pushing on steadify, we crossed over many undulations, coated on the
surface either with sand or breccia, and frequently having a good deal of
the eucalyptus scrub upon them, at eleven miles we passed a long grassy
plain in the scrub, and once or twice crossed small openings with a
little grass. For one of these we directed our course, late in the
evening, to encamp; upon reaching it, however, we were greatly
disappointed to find it covered only by prickly grass. I was therefore
obliged, after watering the horses from the casks, to send them a mile
and half back to some grass we had seen, and where they fared tolerably
well. Our day's journey had been long and fatiguing, through a barren,
heavy country. One mile before encamping, we crossed the bed of a salt
water channel, trending to the westward, which was probably connected
with the Lagoon Harbour of Flinders, as it appeared to receive the flood
tide. Our latitude was 33 degrees 50 minutes S. by observation of a

September 29.--Whilst the man was out looking for the horses, which had
strayed a little during the night, I took a set of angles to several
heights, visible from the camp; upon the man's return, he reported that
he had found some fresh water, but upon riding to the place, I. found it
was only a very small hole in a sheet of limestone rock, near the salt
watercourse, which did not contain above a pint or two. The natives,
however, appeared to come to this occasionally for their supply; similar
holes enabling them frequently to remain out in the low countries long
after the rain has fallen. After seeing the party move on, with the
native boy to act as guide through the scrub, I rode in advance to search
for water at the hill marked by Flinders as Bluff Mount, and named by
Colonel Gawler, Mount Hill. This isolated elevation rises abruptly from
the field of scrub, in the midst of which it is situated and is of
granite formation; nearly at its summit is an open grassy plain, which
was visible long before we reached it, and which leads directly over the
lowest or centre part of the range; water was found in the holes of rock
in the granite, and the grass around was very tolerable. Having
ascertained these particulars, I hurried back to the drays to conduct
them to a place of encampment. The road was very long and over a heavy
sandy country, for the most part densely covered with scrub, and it was
late, therefore, when we reached the hill. The horses, however, had good
feed and fair allowance of water, but of the latter they drank every drop
we could find. During our route to-day, I noticed some little distance to
the north-west of our track, a high scrubby range, having clear
grassy-looking openings at intervals. In this direction, it is probable
that a better line of road might be found than the one we had chosen.

September 30.--After breakfast, I ascended to the summit of Mount Hill,
and took a set of angles; whilst the dray wound up the gap between it and
another low summit, with which it is connected. Upon descending the hill
on the opposite side, I was rejoiced to find two very large pools of
water in some granite rocks, one of them appearing to be of a permanent
character. Here I halted for an hour and a half, to give the horses a
little more water, and fill our casks again before we faced the scrubby
waste that was still seen ahead of us. I had been last night within fifty
yards of the pools that we now found, but had not discovered them, as the
evening was closing in at the time, and I was in great haste to return to
my party before dark. Leaving Mount Hill at the course of S. 27 degrees
W. we passed through a very dense scrub, the strongest, I think, we had
yet experienced; the drays were tearing down the brush with loud crashes,
at every step which the horses took, and I could only compare their
progress to the effect produced by the efforts of a clearing party, the
brush rapidly disappearing before the wheels, and leaving almost as open
a road as if it had been cut away by axes; the unfortunate animals,
however, had to bear the onus of all, and most severely were they
harassed before our short stage was over. At twelve miles we came to a
large rocky watercourse of brackish water, trending to the
east-north-east, through a narrow valley bounded by dense scrub. In this
we found pools of fresh water, and as there was good grass, I called a
halt about three in the afternoon. We were now able, for the first time
for several hundred miles, to enjoy the luxury of a swim, which we all
fully appreciated. In the afternoon Mr. Scott shot six ducks in the
pools, which furnished us with a most welcome addition to our very scanty
fare. For two days previous to this, we had been subsisting solely upon a
very limited allowance of dry bread, having only taken fourteen days
provisions with us from Baxter's range, which was nearly all expended,
whilst we were yet at least two days journey from Port Lincoln. At night
I observed the latitude of our camp, by alpha Aquilae 34 degrees
12 minutes 52 seconds S. by beta Leonis 34 degrees 12 minutes 35 seconds
S. and assumed the mean of the two, or 34 degrees 12 minutes 43 seconds as
the correct one.

October 1.--Making an early start we passed at three miles the head of
the watercourse we had been encamped upon, and then ascended some scrubby
ranges, for about five miles further, when we entered into a narrow tract
of good grassy country, which at five miles brought us to Mr. Driver's
station; a Mr. Dutton was living at this place as Mr. Driver's manager,
and by him we were very hospitably received, and furnished with such
supplies as we required.

[Note 11: In 1842, Mr. Dutton attempted to take some cattle overland, from
this station to the head of Spencer's Gulf; both he and his whole party
perished in the desert, (as supposed) from the want of water. In October
of that year, I was sent by Government to search for their remains, but
as it was the dry season, I could not follow up their tracks through the
arid country they had advanced into. The cattle returned.]

It was a cattle station, and abounded with milk and butter, luxuries
which we all fully enjoyed after our long ramble in the wilds. Having
halted my party for the day, Mr. Scott and myself dined at Mr. Dutton's,
and learnt the most recent news from Adelaide and Port Lincoln. We had
much to hear and much to inquire about, for even in the few months of our
absence, it was to be presumed, that many changes would have taken place
in the fluctuating affairs of a new colony. Nor were our conjectures

That great reaction which was soon to convulse all the Australian
Colonies generally, to annihilate all mercantile credit, and render real
property comparatively valueless, had already commenced in South
Australia; failures, and rumours of failures, were of daily occurrence in
Adelaide, and even the little settlement of Port Lincoln had not escaped
the troubles of the times. I learnt with regret that it was rapidly
falling into decay, and its population diminishing. Many had already
deserted it, and amongst them I was surprised to hear of the departure of
Captain Porter and others, who were once the most enthusiastic admirers
and the staunchest supporters of this embryo town. That which however
affected me more particularly was the fear, that from the low and
impoverished state to which the place was now reduced, I should not be
able to obtain the supplies I required for my party, and should probably
have to delay until I could send over to Adelaide for what I wanted, even
supposing I was lucky enough to find a vessel to go across for me. In
walking round Mr. Dutton's farm I found he was ploughing up some land in
the valley for wheat, which appeared to be an excellent soil, and the
garden he had already commenced was looking promising. At night I
obtained the altitude of a Aquilae, by which I placed Mr. Driver's
station in 34 degrees 21 minutes 20 seconds S. lat., or about 22 miles of
lat. north of Kirton Point.

October 2.--Before leaving the station I purchased from Mr. Dutton a
little Timor pony for 25 pounds for one of the native boys to ride, to
replace in some measure the services of the animal I had been obliged to
have shot up to the north. The only objection to my new purchase was that
it was a little mare and already forward in foal. At Port Lincoln,
however, I was not likely to meet with any horses for sale, and did not
therefore deem it prudent to lose the only opportunity that might occur
of getting an animal of some kind. After quitting Mr. Dutton's, I
followed a dray road leading towards Port Lincoln. For the most part we
passed through green valleys with rich soil and luxuriant pasturage, but
occasionally intersected by poor sandy or gravelly soil of a saline
nature; the water was abundant from recent heavy rains, and some of the
pools fresh; others, however, were very brackish. The hills adjoining the
valley were grassy, and lightly wooded on their slopes facing the valley;
towards the summits they became scrubby, and beyond, the scrub almost
invariably made its appearance. Altogether we passed this day through a
considerable tract of country, containing much land that is well adapted
for sheep or cattle, and with a fair proportion suitable for agriculture.
It is by far the best portion of the available country in the Port
Lincoln peninsula, and I could not help regretting it should be so
limited in extent. I had now travelled all the three sides of the
triangle, and had obtained extensive views from various heights along
each of these lines of route; I had crossed from Port Lincoln to Streaky
Bay, from Streaky Bay to the head of Spencer's Gulf, and from the head of
Spencer's Gulf down to Port Lincoln again. In the course of these
journeys, I had spared no toil nor exertion, to make my examination as
complete and as useful as possible, though my labours were not rewarded
by commensurate success. The great mass of the peninsula is barren, arid,
and worthless; and although Port Lincoln possesses a beautiful, secure,
and capacious harbour, with a convenient and pretty site for a town, and
immediately contiguous to which there exists some extent of fine and
fertile soil, with several good grassy patches of country beyond; yet it
can never become a large or important place, in consequence of its
complete isolation, except by water, from every other, and the limited
nature of its own resources.

For one or two large stock-holders, who wish to secure good grazing
ground, and be apart from others, it might answer well, but even they
would ordinarily labour under difficulties and disadvantages which would
make their situation not at all desirable. The uncertainty and expense of
procuring their supplies--of obtaining labour, and of finding a market
for their surplus stock [Note 12 at end of para.], and the almost total
impossibility of their being able to effect sales in the event of their
wishing to leave, would perhaps more than counterbalance the advantages of
having the country to themselves. Purchased in the days of wild and
foolish speculation, and when a rage existed for buying land and laying
out townships, no place has been more misrepresented or misunderstood than
Port Lincoln. Many gross and glaring misstatements have been put forth of
its character and capabilities, by those who were actuated by interested
motives, and many unintentional misrepresentations have been made and
perpetuated by others, whose judgment or information has led them into
error, so that the public generally, and especially the English public,
have had no means of discriminating between the widely conflicting
accounts that have been given. Amongst the persons from whom this small
settlement has suffered disparagement there are none, perhaps, more
blameable than those who have put forth statements which ascribe to it
advantages and qualities that it does not possess; for just in proportion
as the expectation of intending settlers have been raised by exaggeration
or untruths has been their disappointment and disgust, when the facts
themselves have stared them in the face.

[Note 12: Pastoral settlers have left Port Lincoln in consequence of these
disadvantages--but it is possible that a comparatively large population
may locate there, hereafter, should mineral resources be found out.
Such discoveries are said to have been made, but Iam not aware upon whose
authority the report has become current.]

The day of hallucination has now passed away, but out of the reaction
which has succeeded it, has arisen a disposition to deprive Port Lincoln
of even the merits to which it really has a legitimate claim, and which
would have been far more highly appreciated, if the previous
misstatements and consequent disappointments had not induced a feeling of
suspicion and distrust not easily effaced.

Our stage to-day was twenty-five miles, over a pretty good road, which
brought us towards evening under the range contiguous to the township. In
one of the valleys leading from these hills on their west side we found a
small spring of good water, and as the grass around us was very abundant
and of the most luxuriant growth, I at once decided upon making this our
resting place, until I had completed my arrangements for procuring
supplies, and was again ready to move onwards.

October 3.--Leaving our horses to enjoy the good quarters we had selected
for them, and a respite from their labours, Mr. Scott and I walked across
the range into Port Lincoln, not a little surprising the good people
there, who had not heard of our coming, and who imagined us to be many
hundreds of miles away to the north. Calling upon Dr. Harvey, the only
Government officer then at the settlement, I learnt with regret that it
was quite impossible for me to procure the supplies I required in the
town, whilst there were no vessels in the port, except foreign whalers,
who were neither likely to have, nor be willing to part with the things I
should require. What to do under such circumstances was rather a
difficult question, and my principal hope was that some small coasting
vessel might arrive in the course of a few days, or if not, I might try
to hire a whale boat from one of the whaling vessels, and send her on to
Adelaide. Dr. Harvey had a small open boat of four or five tons, but he
did not seem willing to let her go; and unless I could communicate with
Adelaide, flour was the only article I could procure, and that not from
the stores in the town, but from a small stock belonging to the
Government, which had been sent over to meet any emergency that might
arise in so isolated a place. This was placed under the charge of Dr.
Harvey, who, on behalf of the Government, kindly offered to let me have
what I required, on condition that I would replace the same quantity, by
the first opportunity.

Having made arrangements for a supply of fresh meat and a few vegetables
during my stay, I walked out to examine the settlement. I found many neat
cottages and other improvements since I had been here in 1839; and there
were also a few gardens commenced, some of which were in a state of
cultivation and appeared to be doing well. The population, however, had
decreased, and many of the cottages were now unoccupied. Those who
remained were principally persons who had lost everything, and who could
not well get away, or who, on the other hand, had invested their property
in the place, and could not leave it except at the sacrifice of almost
everything they possessed. No one seemed to be doing well but the
inn-keeper, and he owed his success chiefly to the custom or traffic of
the foreign whalers who occasionally resorted here for refreshments. The
stockholders, living a few miles from town, who ought to have succeeded
the best, were getting dissatisfied at the many disadvantages which they
laboured under, and the smallness of the community around them, and every
thing wore a gloomy aspect.

October 4.--After breakfast, accompanied by Mr. Scott, I went to Port
Lincoln to attend divine service; prayers were read by Dr. Harvey. The
congregation was small but respectable, and apparently devout. After
church, we accompanied Dr. Harvey home to dinner, and met the Captain and
Surgeon of one of the French whalers in port; both of whom appeared
intelligent, and superior to the class usually met with in such
employments. After dinner we all walked down to the lagoon, west of Port
Lincoln, where the land is of a rich black alluvial character, and well
adapted for cultivation. Returning by our tents, Dr. Harvey and the
Frenchmen took tea with us, and then returned to the settlement. In the
course of our walk this afternoon, Dr. Harvey offered to put a temporary
hatch over his boat, and send her to Adelaide for me for ten pounds,
which offer I at once accepted, and Mr. Scott volunteered to go in her as

October 5.--To-day I employed myself in writing letters, whilst the dray
went to Port Lincoln for supplies. The few things I could get there were
very dear, meat 1s. per pound, potatoes 9d. per pound, salt butter 2s.
6d., a small bag, with a few old cabbage stumps, five or six shillings,
and other things in proportion.

October 6.--Went to town, accompanied by Mr. Scott to inspect the
preparations of the little cutter he was to go to Adelaide in;--ordered
all our horses to be shod, and several spare sets of shoes to be made to
take up to the party at Streaky Bay. On our return we were accompanied by
Mr. Smith, who kindly went with Mr. Scott to the station of a Mr. Brown,
[Note 13: Since murdered by the natives.] about ten miles away, to select
sheep to take with us on our journey. Mr. Scott purchased twelve at
2 pounds each, and brought them to the station; they were not very large,
but were in fine condition.

Chapter IX.


October 6.--In the course of the afternoon I learnt that a little boy
about twelve years old, a son of Mr. Hawson's, had been speared on the
previous day by the natives, at a station about a mile and a half from my
tent. The poor little fellow had, it seems, been left alone at the
station, and the natives had come to the hut and speared him. The wounds
were of that fatal character, being from barbed spears which had remained
in the flesh, that no hopes could be entertained of his surviving their
removal. The following account of the occurrence is extracted from a
report, on the subject, to the Government by Dr. Harvey, the Colonial
Surgeon at Port Lincoln, who attended the boy in his last sufferings.

"The poor boy has borne this heavy affliction with the greatest
fortitude, assuring us "that he is not afraid to die." He says that on
Monday (5th), he was left in the station hut whilst his brother came into
town, and that about ten or eleven natives surrounded his hut, and wished
for something to eat. He gave them bread and rice--all he had, and as
they endeavoured to force themselves into his hut, he went out and
fastened the door, standing on the outside with his gun by his side and a
sword in his hand, which he held for the purpose of fighting them. He did
not make any signs of using them. One of the children gave him a spear to
throw, and while in the act of throwing it, he received the two spears in
his chest--he did not fall. He took up his gun and shot one of the
natives, who fell, but got up again and ran away; they all fled, but
returned and shewed signs of throwing another spear, when he lifted the
gun a second time, upon which they all made off.

"He remained with the two spears, seven feet long, sticking in his
breast; he tried to cut and saw them without effect; he also tried to
walk home, but could not; he then sat upon the ground and put the ends of
the spears in the fire to try to burn them off, and in this position he
was found at ten o'clock at night, upon the return of his brother Edward
(having been speared eleven hours.) He immediately sawed the ends of the
spears off, and placed him on horseback, and brought him into town, when
I saw him.

"Mr. Smith (with the police force) has gone in search of the natives, one
of whom can be identified as having thrown a spear at the boy, he having
a piece of red flannel tied round his beard.

"This circumstance has thrown the settlement into great distress. The
German missionary, Rev. Mr. Schurman, has gone with Mr. Smith. I am told
that the natives have been fired at from some of the stations. I hope
this is not the case. The Rev. Mr. Schurman says that Mr. Edward Hawson
told him he shot after some a short time ago to frighten them, after they
had stolen something from the same hut where they speared his brother.
This is denied by the family, but I will ascertain the truth upon the
return of the party, Mr. E. Hawson having accompanied them."

The natives immediately disappeared from the vicinity of the settlement,
and were not heard of again for a long time. Such is the account of this
melancholy affair as given to Dr. Harvey by the boy, who, I believe, also
made depositions before a magistrate to the same effect. Supposing this
account to be true, and that the natives had not received any previous
provocation either from him or from any other settlers in the
neighbourhood, this would appear to be one of the most wanton, cold
blooded, and treacherous murders upon record, and a murder seemingly as
unprovoked as it was without object. Had the case been one in which the
European had been seen for the first time by the aboriginal inhabitants
of the country, it would have been neither surprising nor at variance
with what more civilised nations would probably have done under
circumstances of a similar nature. Could we imagine an extraordinary
looking being, whose presence and attributes were alike unknown to us,
and of a nature to excite our apprehensions, suddenly appearing in any
part of our own country, what would be the reception he would meet with
among ourselves, and especially if by locating himself in any particular
part of the country he prevented us from approaching those haunts to
which we had been accustomed from our infancy to resort, and which we
looked upon as sacred to ourselves? It is not asserting too much to say
that in such a case the country would be raised in a hue and cry, and the
intruder would meet with the fate that has sometimes befallen the
traveller or the colonist when trespassing upon the dominions of the

In the present lamentable instance, however, the natives could not have
acted under the influence of an impulse like this. Here the Europeans had
been long located in the neighbourhood, they were known to, and had been
frequently visited by the Aborigines, and the intercourse between them
had in some instances at least been of a friendly character. What then
could have been the inducement to commit so cold and ruthless an act? or
what was the object to be attained by it? Without pausing to seek for
answers to these questions which, in the present case, it must be
difficult, if not impossible, to solve, it may be worth while to take a
view of the conduct of the Aborigines of Australia, generally, towards
the invaders and usurpers of their rights, setting aside altogether any
acts of violence or injury which they may have committed under the
influence of terror, naturally excited by the first presence of strangers
among them, and which arise from an impulse that is only shared by them
in common with mankind generally. I shall be borne out, I think, by facts
when I state that the Aborigines of this country have seldom been guilty
of wanton or unprovoked outrages, or committed acts of rapine or
bloodshed, without some strongly exciting cause, or under the influence
of feelings that would have weighed in the same degree with Europeans in
similar circumstances. The mere fact of such incentives not being clearly
apparent to us, or of our being unable to account for the sanguinary
feelings of natives in particular cases, by no means argues that
incentives do not exist, or that their feelings may not have been justly

If we find the Aborigines of Australia ordinarily acting under the
influence of no worse motives or passions than usually actuate man in a
civilised state, we ought in fairness to suppose that sufficient
provocative for retaliation has been given in those few instances of
revenge, which, our imperfect knowledge of the circumstances attending
them does not enable us satisfactorily to account for. In considering
this question honestly, we must take into account many points that we too
often lose sight of altogether when discussing the conduct of the
natives, and more especially when we are doing so under the excitement
and irritation arising from recent hostilities. We should remember:--

First, That our being in their country at all is, so far as their ideas
of right and wrong are concerned, altogether an act of intrusion and

Secondly, That for a very long time they cannot comprehend our motives
for coming amongst them, or our object in remaining, and may very
naturally imagine that it can only be for the purpose of dispossessing

Thirdly, That our presence and settlement, in any particular locality,
do, in point of fact, actually dispossess the aboriginal inhabitants.
[Note 14: Vide, Notes on the Aborigines, chap. I.]

Fourthly, That the localities selected by Europeans, as best adapted for
the purposes of cultivation, or of grazing, are those that would usually
be equally valued above others, by the natives themselves, as places of
resort, or districts in which they could most easily procure their food.
This would especially be the case in those parts of the country where
water was scarce, as the European always locates himself close to this
grand necessary of life. The injustice, therefore, of the white man's
intrusion upon the territory of the aboriginal inhabitant, is aggravated
greatly by his always occupying the best and most valuable portion of it.

Fifthly, That as we ourselves have laws, customs, or prejudices, to which
we attach considerable importance, and the infringement of which we
consider either criminal or offensive, so have the natives theirs,
equally, perhaps, dear to them, but which, from our ignorance or
heedlessness, we may be continually violating, and can we wonder that
they should sometimes exact the penalty of infraction? do not we do the
same? or is ignorance a more valid excuse for civilized man than the

Sixthly, What are the relations usually subsisting between the Aborigines
and settlers, locating in the more distant, and less populous parts of
the country: those who have placed themselves upon the outskirts of
civilization, and who, as they are in some measure beyond the protection
of the laws, are also free from their restraints? A settler going to
occupy a new station, removes, perhaps, beyond all other Europeans,
taking with him his flocks, and his herds, and his men, and locates
himself wherever he finds water, and a country adapted for his purposes.
At the first, possibly, he may see none of the inhabitants of the country
that he has thus unceremoniously taken possession of; naturally alarmed
at the inexplicable appearance, and daring intrusion of strangers, they
keep aloof, hoping, perhaps, but vainly, that the intruders may soon
retire. Days, weeks, or months pass away, and they see them still
remaining. Compelled at last, it may be by enemies without, by the want
of water in the remoter districts, by the desire to procure certain kinds
of food, which are peculiar to certain localities, and at particular
seasons of the year, or perhaps by a wish to revisit their country and
their homes, they return once more, cautiously and fearfully approaching
what is their own--the spot perhaps where they were born, the patrimony
that has descended to them through many generations;--and what is the
reception that is given them upon their own lands? often they are met by
repulsion, and sometimes by violence, and are compelled to retire again
to strange aud unsuitable localities. Passing over the fearful scenes of
horror and bloodshed, that have but too frequently been perpetrated in
all the Australian colonies upon the natives in the remoter districts, by
the most desperate and abandoned of our countrymen; and overlooking,
also, the recklessness that too generally pervades the shepherds and
stock-keepers of the interior, with regard to the coloured races, a
recklessness that leads them to think as little of firing at a black, as
at a bird, and which makes the number they have killed, or the atrocities
that have attended the deeds, a matter for a tale, a jest or boast at
their pothouse revelries; overlooking these, let us suppose that the
settler is actuated by no bad intentions, and that he is sincerely
anxious to avoid any collision with the natives, or not to do them any
injury, yet under these even comparatively favourable circumstances, what
frequently is the result? The settler finds himself almost alone in the
wilds, with but few men around him, and these, principally occupied in
attending to stock, are dispersed over a considerable extent of country;
he finds himself cut off from assistance, or resources of any kind,
whilst he has heard fearful accounts of the ferocity, or the treachery of
the savage; he therefore comes to the conclusion, that it will be less
trouble, and annoyance, and risk, to keep the natives away from his
station altogether; and as soon as they make their appearance, they are
roughly waved away from their own possessions: should they hesitate, or
appear unwilling to depart, threats are made use of, weapons perhaps
produced, and a show, at least, is made of an offensive character, even
if no stronger measures be resorted to. What must be the natural
impression produced upon the mind of the natives by treatment like this?
Can it engender feelings otherwise than of a hostile and vindictive kind;
or can we wonder that he should take the first opportunity of venting
those feelings upon his aggressor?

But let us go even a little further, and suppose the case of a settler,
who, actuated by no selfish motives, and blinded by no fears, does not
discourage or repel the natives upon their first approach; suppose that
he treats them with kindness and consideration (and there are happily
many such settlers in Australia), what recompense can he make them for
the injury he has done, by dispossessing them of their lands, by
occupying their waters, and by depriving them of their supply of food? He
neither does nor can replace the loss. They are sometimes allowed, it is
true, to frequent again the localities they once called their own, but
these are now shorn of the attractions which they formerly
possessed--they are no longer of any value to them--and where are they to
procure the food that the wild animals once supplied them with so
abundantly? In the place of the kangaroo, the emu, and the wallabie, they
now see only the flocks and herds of the strangers, and nothing is left
to them but the prospect of dreary banishment, or a life of misery and
privation. Can it then be a matter of wonder, that under such
circumstances as these, and whilst those who dispossessed them, are
revelling in plenty near them, they should sometimes be tempted to
appropriate a portion of the superabundance they see around them, and rob
those who had first robbed them? The only wonder is, that such acts of
reprisal are so seldom committed. Where is the European nation, that thus
situated, and finding themselves, as is often the case with the natives,
numerically and physically stronger than their oppressors, would be
guilty of so little retaliation, of so few excesses? The eye of
compassion, or of philanthropy, will easily discover the anomalous and
unfavourable position of the Aborigines of our colonies, when brought
into contact with the European settlers. They are strangers in their own
land, and possess no longer the usual means of procuring their daily
subsistence; hungry, and famished, they wander about begging among the
scattered stations, where they are treated with a familiarity by the men
living at them, which makes them become familiar in turn, until, at last,
getting impatient and troublesome, they are roughly repulsed, and
feelings of resentment and revenge are kindled. This, I am persuaded, is
the cause and origin of many of the affrays with the natives, which are
apparently inexplicable to us. Nor ought we to wonder, that a slight
insult, or a trifling injury, should sometimes hurry them to an act
apparently not warranted by the provocation. Who can tell how long their
feelings had been rankling in their bosoms; how long, or how much they
had borne; a single drop will make the cup run over, when filled up to
the brim; a single spark will ignite the mine, that, by its explosion,
will scatter destruction around it; and may not one foolish indiscretion,
one thoughtless act of contumely or wrong, arouse to vengeance the
passions that have long been burning, though concealed? With the same
dispositions and tempers as ourselves, they are subject to the same
impulses and infirmities. Little accustomed to restrain their feelings,
it is natural, that when goaded beyond endurance, the effect should be
violent, and fatal to those who roused them;--the smothered fire but
bursts out the stronger from having been pent up; and the rankling
passions are but fanned into wilder fury, from having been repressed.

Seventhly, There are also other considerations to be taken into the
account, when we form our opinion of the character and conduct of the
natives, to which we do not frequently allow their due weight and
importance, but which will fully account for aggressions having been
committed by natives upon unoffending individuals, and even sometimes
upon those who have treated them kindly. First, that the native considers
it a virtue to revenge an injury. Secondly, if he cannot revenge it upon
the actual individual who injured him, he thinks that the offence is
equally expiated if he can do so upon any other of the same race; he does
not look upon it as the offence of an individual, but as an act of war on
the part of the nation, and he takes the first opportunity of making a
reprisal upon any one of the enemy who may happen to fall in his way; no
matter whether that person injured him or not, or whether he knew of the
offence having been committed, or the war declared. And is not the custom
of civilized powers very similar to this? Admitting that civilization,
and refinement, have modified the horrors of such a system, the principle
is still the same. This is the principle that invariably guides the
native in his relations with other native tribes around him, and it is
generally the same that he acts upon in his intercourse with us. Shall we
then arrogate to ourselves the sole power of acting unjustly, or of
judging of what is expedient? And are we to make no allowance for the
standard of right by which the native is guided in the system of policy
he may adopt? Weighing candidly, then, the points to which reference has
been made, can we wonder, that in the outskirts of the colony, where the
intercourse between the native and the European has been but limited, and
where that intercourse has, perhaps, only generated a mutual distrust;
where the objects, the intentions, or the motives of the white man, can
neither be known nor understood, and where the natural inference from his
acts cannot be favourable, can we wonder, that under such circumstances,
and acting from the impression of some wrong, real or imagined, or goaded
on by hunger, which the white man's presence prevents him from appeasing,
the native should sometimes be tempted to acts of violence or robbery? He
is only doing what his habits and ideas have taught him to think
commendable. He is doing what men in a more civilized state would have
done under the same circumstances, what they daily do under the sanction
of the law of nations--a law that provides not for the safety,
privileges, and protection of the Aborigines, and owners of the soil, but
which merely lays down rules for the direction of the privileged robber
in the distribution of the booty of any newly discovered country. With
reference to the particular case in question, the murder of Master
Hawson, it appears from Dr. Harvey's report (already quoted), that in
addition to any incentives, such as I have described, as likely to arise
in the minds of the natives, there had been the still greater provocation
of their having been fired at, but a short time previously, from the same
station, and by the murdered boy's brother. We may well pause, therefore,
ere we hastily condemn, or unjustly punish, in cases where the
circumstances connected with their occurrence, can only be brought before
us in a partial and imperfect manner.

The 7th was spent in preparing my despatches for Adelaide. On the 8th I
sent in a dray to Port Lincoln, with Mr. Scott's luggage, and those
things that were to be sent to Adelaide, comprising all the specimens of
geology and botany we had collected, a rough chart of our route, and the
despatches and letters which I had written. The boat was not ready at the
time appointed, and Mr. Scott returned to the tents. In the evening,
however, he again went to the settlement, and about ten, P.M., he, and
the man who was to manage the boat, went on board to sail for Adelaide. I
had been taken very ill during the day, and was unable to accompany him
to the place of embarkation. The following is a copy of my despatch to
the Governor, and to the Chairman of the Northern Expedition Committee,
embodying my reasons for going to the westward.

"Port Lincoln, October, 1840.

"Sir,--Having fallen back upon Port Lincoln for supplies, an opportunity
has occurred to me of writing a brief and hurried report of our
proceedings. I have, therefore, the honour to acquaint you, for the
information of His Excellency, the Governor, and the colonists interested
in the Northern Expedition, with the result of my examination of the
country north of Spencer's Gulf, and of the further steps I contemplate
taking to endeavour to carry out the wishes of the Committee, and
accomplish the object for which the expedition was fitted out.

"Upon leaving our depot, near Mount Arden, the low, arid, and sandy
nature of the country between the hills and Lake Torrens, compelled us to
follow close under the continuation of Flinders range. Here our progress
was necessarily very slow, from the rugged nature of the country, the
scarcity of water, and the great difficulty both of finding and obtaining
access to it. As we advanced, the hills inclined considerably to the
eastward, gradually becoming less elevated, until, in latitude 29 degrees
20 minutes S., they ceased altogether, and we found ourselves in a very
low and level country, consisting of large stony plains, varied
occasionally by sand; and the whole having evidently been subject to
recent and extensive inundation. These plains are destitute of water,
grass, and timber, and have only a few salsolaceous plants growing upon
them; whilst their surface, whether stony or sandy, is quite smooth and
even, as if washed so by the action of the water. Throughout this level
tract of country were interspersed, in various directions, many small
flat-topped elevations, varying in height from 50 to 300 feet, and almost
invariably exhibiting precipitous banks. These elevations are composed
almost wholly of a chalky substance, coated over on the upper surface by
stones, or a sandy soil, and present the appearance of having formed a
table land that has been washed to pieces by the violent action of water,
and of which these fragments now only remain. Upon forcing a way through
this dreary region, in three different directions, I found that the whole
of the low country round the termination of Flinders range, was
completely surrounded by Lake Torrens, which, commencing not far from the
head of Spencer's Gulf, takes a circuitous course of fully 400 miles, of
an apparent breadth of from twenty to thirty miles, following the sweep
of Flinders range, and almost encircling it in the form of a horse shoe.

"The greater part of the vast area contained in the bed of this immense
lake, is certainly dry on the surface, and consists of a mixture of sand
and mud, of so soft and yielding a character, as to render perfectly
ineffective all attempts either to cross it, or reach the edge of the
water, which appears to exist at a distance of some miles from the outer
margin. On one occasion only was I able to taste of its waters; in a
small arm of the lake near the most north-westerly part of it, which I
visited, and here the water was as salt as the sea. The lake on its
eastern and southern sides, is bounded by a high sandy ridge, with
salsolae and some brushwood growing upon it, but without any other
vegetation. The other shores presented, as far as I could judge, a very
similar appearance; and when I ascended several of the heights in
Flinders range--from which the views were very extensive, and the
opposite shores of the lake seemed to be distinctly visible--no rise or
hill of any kind could ever be perceived, either to the west, the north,
on the east; the whole region around appeared to be one vast, low, and
dreary waste. One very high and prominent summit in this range, I have
named Mount Serle; it is situated in 30 degrees 30 minutes south
latitude, and about 139 degrees 10 minutes east longitude, and is the
first point from which I obtained a view of Lake Torrens to the eastward
of Flinders range, and discovered that I was hemmed in on every side by a
barrier it was impossible to pass. I had now no alternative left me, but
to conduct my party back to Mount Arden, and then decide what steps I
should adopt to carry out the objects of the expedition. It was evident,
that to avoid Lake Torrens, and the low desert by which it is surrounded,
I must go very far either to the east or to the west before again
attempting to penetrate to the north.

"My party had already been upwards of three months absent from Adelaide,
and our provisions were too much reduced to admit of our renewing the
expedition in either direction, without first obtaining additional
supplies. The two following were therefore the only plans which appeared
feasible to me, or likely to promote the intentions of the colonists, and
effect the examination of the northern interior:--

"First--To move my party to the southward, to endeavour to procure
supplies from the nearest stations north of Adelaide, and then, by
crossing to the Darling, to trace that river up until I found high land
leading to the north-west.

"Secondly--To cross over to Streaky Bay, send from thence to Port Lincoln
for supplies, and then follow the line of coast to the westward, until I
met with a tract of country practicable to the north. To the first of
these plans were many objections; amongst the principal ones, were, the
very unfavourable accounts given both by Captain Sturt, and Major
Mitchell, of the country to the west of the Darling River--the fact of
Captain Sturt's having found the waters of that river salt during a
continued ride of many days--the numerous tribes of natives likely to be
met with, and the very small party I should have with me; lastly, the
course of the river itself, which trending so much to the eastward, would
take us from, rather than towards the centre of this Continent. On the
other hand, by crossing to the westward, I should have to encounter a
country which I knew to be all but destitute of water, and to consist,
for a very great distance, of barren sandy ridges and low lands, covered
by an almost impenetrable scrub, at a season, too, when but little rain
could be expected, and the heat would, in all probability, be intense;
still, of the two, the latter appeared to me the least objectionable, as
we should at least be going towards the point we wished to reach, and
through a country as yet quite unknown.

"After mature and anxious consideration, therefore, I decided upon
adopting it, hoping that my decision may meet with the approbation of the

"Previous to our arrival at Mount Arden, we experienced very showery
weather for some days, (otherwise we could not have attempted a passage
to the westward); and as there were no longer any apprehensions of water
being found on the route to Streaky Bay, I sent two of my teams across
upon our old tracks, in charge of my overseer, whilst I conducted the
third myself, in company with Mr. Scott, direct to Port Lincoln, to
procure the supplies we required. In crossing from Mount Arden, towards
Port Lincoln, we travelled generally through a low barren country,
densely covered by brush, among which were scattered, at considerable
intervals, a few small patches of grass, with here and there some rocky
elevations; in the latter, we were usually able to procure water for
ourselves and horses, until we arrived at the districts already explored,
in traversing which we passed (to the N. E. of Port Lincoln) some rich,
well watered valleys, bounded by a considerable extent of grassy hills,
well adopted for sheep or cattle, arriving at Port Lincoln on the 3rd of
October. As a line of route from Adelaide for the emigration of stock,
the course we followed, though it cannot be called a good one, is
perfectly practicable in the winter season; and I have no doubt, when the
country becomes better known, the present track might be considerably
improved upon, and both grass and water obtained in greater abundance.

"I regret extremely to acquaint you, that on the morning of the 9th
September, one of the police horses (called "Grey Paddy") kindly lent to
the Expedition by His Excellency the Governor, was found with his leg
broken, apparently from the kick of another horse during the night, and I
was obliged to order him to be shot in consequence. With this exception,
no serious accident has occurred, and the whole of the party are in the
enjoyment of good health and spirits. As the Expedition will still be
absent, in all probability, upwards of five months, I have availed myself
of a kind offer from Dr. Harvey, to send his boat over to Adelaide, and
have sent Mr. Scott to receive any instructions his Excellency the
Governor, or the Committee, may wish to give relative to our future
proceedings; and immediately Mr. S. returns, I shall hurry up to Streaky
Bay with the supplies, and at once move on to the westward, my overseer
being now engaged in preparing for our forcing a passage through the
scrub, to the north-west of Streaky Bay, as soon as we arrive there with
the remainder of the party.

"I have the honour to be, Sir,
"Your obedient servant,

"The Chairman of the Committee for promoting the Northern Expedition."

From the 9th to the 22nd of October, I was occupied a good deal at the
camp, having only one man and a native boy to attend to the tent, the
horses and the sheep, so that I was in a great measure confined at home,
occasionally only making short excursions to the town to superintend the
preparation of a large supply of horse-shoes, or visiting the stations of
some of the nearest country settlers. I had lately bought a kangaroo dog,
from the captain of an American whaler, and in these rambles had frequent
opportunities of trying my new purchase, both after emus and kangaroos,
but he was quite useless for hunting either, and did little credit to the
honesty of the person who sold him to me, and who had asked and received
a high price, in consideration of the animal being, as he assured me, of
a better description than ordinary. Of the natives of the district I saw
nothing whatever; the death of young Hawson, and the subsequent scouring
of the country by police, had driven them away from the occupied parts,
and forced them to the fastnesses of the hills, or to the scrubs; I was,
however, enabled by the kindness of Mr. Schurman, a German Missionary,
stationed at Port Lincoln, to obtain a limited collection of words and
phrases in the dialect of the district, and which I hoped might be of
some use to me hereafter. Mr. Schurman has since published a copious
vocabulary and grammar, of the language in use in this part of Australia.

On the 22nd, upon going into the settlement, I found the Government
cutter WATERWITCH at anchor in the harbour, having Mr. Scott on board,
and a most abundant supply of stores and provisions, liberally sent us by
his Excellency the Governor, who had also most kindly placed the cutter
at my disposal, to accompany and co-operate with me along the coast to
the westward.

Mr. Scott had managed every thing confided to him most admirably; and I
felt very greatly indebted to him for the ready and enterprising manner
in which he had volunteered, to undertake a voyage from Port Lincoln to
Adelaide in a small open boat, and the successful manner in which he had
accomplished it. Among other commissions, I had requested him to bring me
another man to accompany the expedition in the place of the one (R.
M'Robert) who had driven the dray to Port Lincoln, and with whom I was
going to part; as also to bring for me a native, named Wylie, an
aborigine, from King George's Sound, whom I had taken with me to Adelaide
on my return in May last, but who had been too ill to accompany me at the
time the expedition started; the latter he had not been able to
accomplish, as the boy was in the country when he reached Adelaide, and
there was not time to get him down before the WATERWITCH sailed. The man,
however, he had procured, and I was glad to recognize in him an old
servant, who had been with me in several of my former expeditions, and
who was a most excellent carter and tent servant. His name was Thomas

Having received large packets of papers and many letters, both from
relations in England, and from many warm-hearted friends in Adelaide, I
returned with Mr. Scott and Costelow to the tent, to make immediate
preparations for our departure. The delay, occasioned by my having been
obliged to send to Adelaide for our supplies, had so greatly protracted
the period of my absence from the rest of my party, beyond what I had
anticipated, that I became most anxious to rejoin them: the summer
weather too, was rapidly approaching, and I dreaded the task of forcing a
way through the low level scrubby waste, around Streaky and Smoky Bays,
under a tropical sun.

From the despatches received, I was glad to find that the Governor and
the Colonists had approved of the step I had taken, in moving to the
westward, which was gratifying and satisfactory, notwithstanding the
disappointments I had experienced. In the course of the day, I sent in a
dray to Port Lincoln, with our heavy baggage to put on board the cutter,
with orders to Mr. Germain the master, to sail immediately for Streaky
Bay, and lose no time in communicating with the party there. Before the
cutter sailed, I purchased an excellent little boat to be sent with her
for use in our coast or inland explorations, should it be found

October 23.--The blacksmith not having finished all the shoes, I was
compelled to remain another day in camp; the man too, who had been left
in charge of the sheep had lost them all; whilst the one, therefore, was
finishing his work and the other looking for his sheep, I employed myself
in writing letters for Adelaide, and in arranging my business in Port
Lincoln, etc.

October 24.--Having struck the tent, and loaded the dray, Mr. Scott and I
rode into town to breakfast with Dr. Harvey, and take leave of our Port
Lincoln friends. After transacting business matters, I settled with the
man who was going to leave me, deducting the price of the sheep which by
his carelessness he had lost, and which had not been recovered; I then
paid Dr. Harvey for the hire of his boat, etc. and in arranging for it, he
generously refused to receive more than 5 pounds as his boat had not been
used in the return voyage from Adelaide. He also most kindly supplied us
with some few small things, which we yet required, and was altogether
most attentive and courteous.

Upon returning to our camp, I moved on the party, delighted once more
with the prospect of being actively employed. Whilst I conducted the
dray, I sent Mr. Scott round by Mr. Brown's station, to buy eleven more
sheep in the place of those M'Robert had lost, and at night he rejoined
us with them near Mr. White's station, about ten miles from Port Lincoln;
it was late before the sheep came, and the yard to put them in was made,
and as there were so few of them, they were a good deal alarmed and would
not go into the yard, rushing about violently, breaking away every time
we drove them near it; at last we got ten safely housed, and were obliged
to put up with the loss of the eleventh, the night being quite dark.

Mr. White and Mr. Poole visited us from their station, and I tried to
purchase from the former a noble dog that he possessed, of the mastiff
breed, but could not prevail upon him to part with it.

On the 25th I detained the party in camp, that I might get our sheep
shorn, and send to Port Lincoln to inquire if there were any more letters
for me by Dr. Harvey's little boat, which was expected to arrive to-day.
Mr. Scott, who rode into the settlement, returned in the afternoon.

October 26.--Sending the dray on under the guidance of the native boy, I
rode with Mr. Scott up to Mr. White's station to wish him good bye, and
to make another effort to secure an additional dog or two; finding that
he would not sell the noble mastiff I so much wished to have, I bought
from him two good kangaroo dogs, at rather a high price, with which I
hastened on after the drays, and soon overtook them, but not before my
new dogs had secured two fine kangaroos. For the first few miles we
crossed a low flat country, which afterwards became undulating and
covered with dwarf scrub, after this we passed over barren ridges for
about three miles, with quartz lying exposed on the surface and timbered
by the bastard gum or forest casuarinae. We then descended to a level
sandy region, clothed with small brush, and having very many salt lakes
scattered over its surface; around the hollows in which these waters were
collected, and occasionally around basins that were now dry, we found
large trees of the gum, together with a few casuarinae. A very similar
kind of low country appeared to extend far to the eastward and

Kangaroos were very numerous, especially near those hollows, that were
surrounded by gum-trees, to which they retired for shelter during the
heat of the day. We encamped at night in the midst of many of these salt
lakes, without any water, but the grass was good. Our stage had been 25
miles upon a course of N. 25 degrees W. After watching the horses for a
few hours, we tied them up for the night, not daring to trust them loose
without water. A few natives had been seen during the day, but they ran

A singular feature attending the salt lakes, or the hollows where water
had formerly lodged, was the existence of innumerable small stones,
resembling biscuits or cakes in shape, perfectly circular and flat, but a
little convexed in the upper surface, they were of various sizes, and
appeared to consist of lime, being formed into their present shape by the
action of water. Very similar ones have since been found in the volcanic
region near Mount Gambier, on the southern coast of New Holland. From our
present camp were seen before us to the north-west some low green looking
ranges, lightly timbered, and promising a better country than we had
hitherto met with.

October 27.--Having arrived at the hills, in about three miles, we found
them abundantly grassed, but very rugged and rocky, of an oolitic
limestone formation, with occasionally a light reddish soil covering the
rock in the flats and valleys. Between these ranges and the sea, which
was about a mile beyond them, were rather high sand hills, having a few
stunted trees growing upon them, but otherwise destitute of vegetation.
No water could be found, nor were there any watercourses from the hills,
where we examined them.

Keeping under the east side of the ranges for a few miles, we crossed the
main ridge to the westward, and after a stage of about thirteen miles,
halted under a high hill, which I named Mount Hope, in my former journey.
In a gorge of the range where the granite cropped out among the
limestone, we found a spring of beautiful water, and encamped for the
day. Mr. Scott and one of the native boys shot several pigeons, which
came to the spring to drink in the evening in great numbers. In the
meantime I had ascended the hill for a view, and to take angles. At a
bearing of W. S. W. I set Point Drummond only a few miles distant from
the camp, and between it and a bearing of S. W. was a considerable salt
water lagoon on the eastern side of the sand hills of the coast; the
surrounding country was low, level and scrubby. To the westward a great
extent of dense scrub was visible, amid which were one or two elevations;
and a salt lake, at a bearing of S. 60 degrees E. I made the latitude of
this camp 34 degrees 7 minutes 16 seconds S. and the variation of the
compass 4 degrees 10 minutes E.

October 28.--Travelling onwards for four miles, we passed a fine spring,
situated in a swamp to our left, and at two more we came to a sheet of
water, named Lake Hamilton, [Note 15: After my friend George Hamilton,
Esq.] a large and apparently deep lake, with but a few hundred yards
of a steep high bank, intervening between it and the sea; the
latter was rapidly encroaching upon this barrier, and would probably
in the course of a few years more force a way through, and lay
under water a considerable extent of low country in that vicinity. Around
the margin of the lake was abundance of good grass, but the bank between
it and the sea was high and very rocky.

After leaving the lake we entered upon a succession of low grassy hills
but most dreadfully stony, and at night encamped upon a swamp, after a
stage of about sixteen miles. Here we procured abundance of good water by
digging through the limestone crust, near the surface. The country around
was still of the same character as before, but amidst the never-ceasing
strata of limestone which everywhere protruded, were innumerable large
wombat holes--yet strange to say not one of these was tenanted. The whole
fraternity of these animals appeared to have been cut off altogether in
some unaccountable manner, or to have migrated simultaneously to some
other part. No emus or kangaroos were to be seen anywhere, and the whole
region around wore a singularly wild and deserted aspect.

October 29.--Our route was again over low stony hills, but with rather
better valleys between them; this kind of country appeared to extend from
five to twelve miles inland from the coast, and then commenced the low
level waste of barren scrubby land, which we so constantly saw to the
eastward of us.

I had intended to make a short stage to-day to a spring, situated in the
midst of a swamp, in latitude 33 degrees 46 minutes 35 seconds S., but
having kept rather too far away from the coast, I missed it, and had to
push on for twenty-three miles to a rich and very pretty valley, under a
grassy range, lightly wooded with casuarinae. The soil was somewhat
sandy, but clothed with vegetation; in holes in the rocks we procured
abundance of water from a little valley near our camp, and in a swamp
about a mile and a half north-east was a spring. Our stage was a long
one, and the day being excessively hot, our horses, sheep, and dogs were
nearly all knocked up. Of the latter two were unfortunately missing when
we arrived at our halting ground; one came up afterwards, but the other
could nowhere be found, though both had been seen not two miles away. The
missing dog [Note 16 at end of para.], was the best of the two which I had
purchased of Mr. White, and I felt sorry for a loss which it would be
impossible for me to replace. Many native fires were seen to-day, and
especially in the direction of a high bare-looking detached range to the
north-east, named by me from its shape, Mount Wedge; none of these people
were, however, seen, but a fire still burning was found where we encamped
for the night.

[Note 16: Upon returning to Adelaide in 1841, I learnt that the dog had
gone back all the way to Mr. White's station, and as Mr. White wished to
keep the animal, he returned the money he had received at his sale.]

On the 30th we remained stationary to rest the horses, and to try and
recover the lost dog, but after a long and fruitless search, we were
obliged to give up the attempt.

On the 31st, after crossing a ridge under which we were encamped, we
passed through a very pretty grassy and park-like country, and what was
very unusual, not stony on the surface. There were in places a great many
wombat holes, but these were now all occupied by their tenants, and the
whole aspect of the country was more encouraging and cheerful; the extent
of good country was, however, very limited. Towards the coast was a low
scrubby-looking region with salt lakes, and to the east it was bounded by
a dense brush, beyond which were extensive plains of a barren and scrubby
appearance. In the midst of these plains were large fields of a coarse
wiry-kind of grass, growing in enormous tufts, five or six feet high, and
indicating the places where swamps exist in wet seasons; these were now
quite dry, but we had always found the same coarse-tufted grass growing
around the margins of the salt lakes, and in those places also where we
had found water. This description of country seemed to extend to the base
of Wedge Hill, which I intended to have ascended, but the weather was too
cloudy to obtain a view from it. The character of the country to the
north and north-east was equally low and unpromising, with the exception
of two peaks seen at considerable distances apart.

Our stage to-day was sixteen miles to Lake Newland, [Note 17: Named after
my friend R. F. Newland, Esq.] a large salt-water lake, with numerous
fine and strong springs of excellent water, bubbling up almost
in the midst of the salt. In one place one of these springs was
surrounded by a narrow strip of soil, and the stream emanating from it
took its winding course through the skirts of the salt-water lake itself,
inclosed by a very narrow bank of earth, on either side; this slight
barrier being the only division between the salt and the fresh water.
From the abundance of fresh water at Lake Newland, and the many patches
of tolerably grassy country around, a very fair station might be formed,
either for sheep or cattle.

November 1.--Leaving Lake Newland we passed through a scrubby country,
which extended close under the coast hummocks for five miles, and then
ascended a high barren range. The view from this was extensive, but only
over a mass of low and desolate scrub, with the exception of one or two
elevations to the north and north-east. Towards the coast, amidst the
waste around, was a large sheet of salt water, with here and there a few
openings near it, studded with casuarinae, to this we bent our steps, and
at twelve miles from our last night's camp took up our position in lat.
33 degrees 14 minutes 36 seconds S. upon the lagoon seen by Flinders from
the masthead.

The traces of natives and their beaten pathways were here very numerous
(of the latter of which there could not be less than thirty) all leading
to a large deep hole, sunk about eight feet, principally through a soft
limestone rock. This was carefully blocked up with large stones and mud,
but upon clearing it out the water came bubbling up rapidly, and we got
an abundant supply. The entrance from seawards to the sheet of water, or
lagoon, is between two heads, (one of them being a high bluff) little
more than a mile apart. There appeared to be a reef off the entrance
outside, but our being without a boat prevented us from ascertaining how
far this inlet was adapted for a harbour. Inside, the water is shallow
towards the south, but deeper in the northern half of the inlet.

November 2.--Tracing round the shores, we passed several other holes dug
by the natives in the sand, to procure water; these, however, did not
appear of so permanent a character as the first, for many had fallen in,
and others contained but very little water. The huts of the natives were
numerous, and of a large and substantial description; but we saw none of
their owners.

After leaving the inlet we pushed on through the scrub to a high bluff of
granitic formation, distant about sixteen miles N. 35 degrees W., and
named by me Mount Hall. [Note 18: After G. Hall, Esq. the Governor's
Private Secretary.] The road being very heavy, it was late when we arrived
there, and both our horses and sheep were much fatigued. We got a
little water from holes in the sheets of granite, and had very good
grass in an opening under the hill.

From the summit of Mount Hall the view was extensive, and I obtained many
angles. The surrounding country was low, level, and barren, and densely
covered with scrub, among which, to the north-west were seen many
salt-water lakes. At intervals a few elevations were seen amidst this low
waste, apparently similar to the hill we were upon, among them were one
or two very distant at a little N. of E., and nearer, one at E. 16
degrees N.; the latter I named Mount Cooper. [Note 19: After Charles
Cooper, Esq. the Judge of the colony.] At a bearing of S. 35 degrees W.
another saltwater inlet was seen apparently communicating with the sea;
but this we could not satisfactorily ascertain from its great
distance. The latitude of Mount Hall, deduced from observations of a
Lyrae and a Aquilae, was 33 degrees 2 minutes 40 seconds S. Several
native fires were seen to the east and south-east in the scrub.

November 3.--After seeing the party ready tomove on, I left Mr. Scott to
conduct the dray, whilst I rode forward in advance to the depot near
Streaky Bay, where I arrived early in the afternoon, and was delighted to
find the party all well, and everything going on prosperously. They had
expected me some time before and were looking out very anxiously for my
arrival. The WATERWITCH had arrived on the 29th of October, but the
master did not communicate with my party before the 31st; so that until
the last three days they had been quite ignorant of our movements, and
uneasy at our so greatly exceeding the time originally fixed for
rejoining them. Having sent back a man, and two fresh and strong horses
to assist the dray, I reconnoitred once more our depot of 1839. Situated
in the middle of some extensive grassy openings among the scrub, is a
solid sheet of limestone of a very hard texture: in the centre of this
rock is a small oblong opening, a foot deep and only just large enough to
admit of a pint pot being dipped in it. This curious little hole
contained water from five to seven inches in depth, the level of which
was maintained as rapidly as a person could bale it out; this was our
sole supply for ourselves and horses, but it was a never-failing one.

[Note 20: The water had not a pleasant flavour, as it was of a chalybeate
nature; but in a country where water was scarce, it was invaluable. When I
was here in 1839, it had even then this disagreeable taste, but now it was
much worse, in consequence, probably, of the contaminating substance
being washed off more abundantly than formerly from the rocks enclosing
the reservoir by the rapid flow of water necessary to replace the large
consumption of my party.]

The spring is situated in latitude 32 degrees 49 minutes 0 seconds S. and
about three miles south-east from the most southerly bight of Streaky
Bay. About one mile and a half to the west is another small hole of
better flavoured water, but not so abundant in its supply.

I found all the horses in excellent condition, and one, a very fine mare
of my own, had foaled about six weeks before. Around the camp were
immense piles of oyster shells, pretty plainly indicating the feasting my
men had enjoyed during my absence, whilst their strong and healthy
appearance shewed how well such fare had agreed with them. The oysters
were procured from the most southerly bight of Streaky Bay, on some mud
banks about two or three hundred yards below low water mark, where they
are found in immense numbers and of different sizes. The flavour of these
oysters was excellent, and the smaller ones were of great delicacy. The
men were in the habit of taking a cart down to the beach frequently,
where, by wading up to their knees in the sea at low water, they were
enabled to fill it. This supply lasted for two or three days.

Many drays might easily be loaded, one after the other, from these oyster
beds. The natives of the district do not appear to eat them, for I never
could find a single shell at any of their encampments. It is difficult to
account for the taste or prejudice of the native, which guides him in his
selection or rejection of particular kinds of food. What is eaten readily
by the natives in one part of Australia is left untouched by them in
another, thus the oyster is eaten at Sydney, and I believe King George's
Sound, but not at Streaky Bay. The unio or freshwater muscle is eaten in
great numbers by all the natives of New South Wales and South Australia;
but Captain Grey found that a Perth native, who accompanied him on one of
his expeditions, would not touch this kind of food even when almost
starving. Snakes are eaten by some tribes, but not by others; and so with
many other kinds of food which they make use of.

About three o'clock, Mr. Scott arrived with the dray, after a long and
harassing stage of twenty miles over a low, stony, and scrubby tract of
country, between Mount Hall and Streaky Bay, and which extended beyond
our track to the coast hummocks to the west. These latter appeared
somewhat high, and under them we had seen many salt-water lakes from the
summit of Mount Hall.

My party were now once more all assembled together, after having been
separated for nearly seven weeks; during which, neither division knew
what had befallen the other, and both were necessarily anxious to be
reunited again, since, in the event of any mischance occurring to either,
the other would have been placed in circumstances of much difficulty, if
not of danger; and the whole object of the undertaking would have been

The great delay caused by my having been obliged to send over from Port
Lincoln to Adelaide for supplies, had thrown us very late in the season;
the summer was rapidly advancing, the weather even now, being frequently
intensely hot, whilst the grass was gradually drying up and losing its
nourishment. Our sending to Adelaide had, however, obtained for us the
valuable services of the WATERWITCH to assist us in tracing round the
desert line of coast to the north-west, and had enabled us to procure a
larger and more varied supply of stores, than we could possibly have
brought up from Port Lincoln in a single dray. We were now amply
furnished with conveniences of every kind; and both men and horses were
in good plight and ready to enter upon the task before them.

Chapter X.


During the time that I had been occupied in conducting my division of the
party from Baxter's Range to Port Lincoln, the overseer had been engaged
in guiding the other portion across to Streaky Bay, upon my former track
from thence to Mount Arden, in September 1839. The following brief
extracts from my Journal of that period, whilst crossing from Streaky Bay
to Mount Arden, will convey an idea of the character of the country
extending between these two points; and of the great difficulty, indeed
almost the impossibility of forcing a passage, except immediately after
the occurrence of heavy rains.

1839, Sept. 18.--We left the depot near Streaky Bay, at a course nearly
due east, and passing through alternations of brush and of open grassy
plains, upon the skirts of which grew a few casuarinae; halted after a
stage of eighteen miles, at an opening in the brush, where we had good
grass, but no water; we were consequently obliged to watch the horses
during the night, to prevent their straying. From this camp Mount Hall
bore S. 2 degrees E. and Mount Cooper S. E. the variation of the compass
being 2 degrees 22 minutes E.

September 19.--Travelling east through the same kind of country for
fifteen miles, we halted upon a high scrubby ridge; having a few grassy
openings at intervals, and with large sheets of granite exposed in some
parts of its surface. In the holes among these rocks we procured a supply
of water that had been deposited by the late rains; but which a few warm
days would have dried up. The latitude of the water was 32 degrees 48
minutes S. and from it Mount Hall bore S. 38 degrees W., Mount Cooper S.
15 degrees W. Before us to the north-east were visible many peaks of a
range, with a high and broken outline, which I named the Gawler range,
after His Excellency Colonel Gawler, the Governor of South Australia. One
very high peak in this range I named Mount Sturt, after my friend Captain
Sturt; it bore from our present camp E. 10 degrees N. and had been
previously seen from the summit of Mount Hall.

September 20.--Our route to-day was through a perfect desert, very
scrubby and stony, with much prickly grass growing upon the sand ridges,
which alternated with the hard limestone flats; there were very few clear
intervals of country upon our whole course; and for the last five miles
the heavy sand and dense scrub made it very difficult to get on at all.
After a long stage of twenty-five miles nearly due east, we halted at a
high ridge similar to that upon which we encamped last night, with sheets
of granite exposed on its surface, and rain water lodged in the hollows.
The horses were all completely knocked up with the severe labour of this
day's stage; I ascertained the latitude of the camp to be 32 degrees 47
minutes 40 seconds S. and the variation of the compass which increased as
we advanced to the eastward, was now 4 degrees 12 minutes E. The Gawler
range was now distinctly visible, extending from N. 15 degrees W. to N.
65 degrees E. and presenting the broken and picturesque outline of a vast
mountain mass rising abruptly out of the low scrubby country around. The
principal elevations in this extensive range, could not be less than two
thousand feet; and they appeared to increase in height as the range
trended to the north-west. To the eastward the ranges decreased somewhat
in elevation, but were still very lofty.

September 21.--We had another long stage to-day of twenty miles, over, if
possible, a worse road than yesterday, no intermission whatever of the
heavy steep sandy ridges and dense eucalyptus scrub; the horses were
dreadfully jaded, and we were obliged to relieve them by yoking up all
the riding horses that would draw. Even with this aid we did not get the
journey over until an hour and a half after dark. During the day our
course had been more to the northward of east, and brought us close under
the Gawler range. At fourteen miles after starting, we passed a salt lake
on our right, and several salt ponds on our left; but we could find no
permanent fresh water anywhere. In the rocks of the range we had encamped
under, we procured a small quantity left by the rains, but this supply
was rapidly disappearing under the rays of a very hot sun, and had we
been a few days later, we could not have crossed at all. The latitude of
our camp was 32 degrees 41 minutes 40 seconds S.

September 22.--This morning I ascended one of the heights in the Gawler
range, from which the view is extensive to the southward, over a
generally low level country, with occasional elevations at intervals; to
the north the view is obstructed by the Gawler range, consisting
apparently of a succession of detached ridges high and rocky, and
entirely of a porphoritic granite lying in huge bare masses upon the
surface. The hills [Note 21 at end of para.] were without either timber or
shrubs, and very barren, with their front slopes exceedingly steep, and
covered by small loose stones; several salt lakes were seen in various
directions, but no indications of fresh water or springs.

[Note 21: Peron's description of the mountains on the South-western coast,
is singularly applicable to the Gawler range--He says, Tom. III. p. 233.
"Sur ces montagnes pelees on ne voit pas un arbre, pas un arbriseau, pas
un arbuste; rien, en un mot, qui puisse faire souponner l'existence de
queque terre vegetale. La durete du roc paroit braver ici tous les
efforts de la nature, et resister a ces memes moyens de decomposition qu'
elle emploie ailleurs avec tant de succes."]

It was late before the party moved on to-day, but the road was somewhat
better, and there were many intervals of open grassy plains under the
hills along which we travelled, at a course of E. 17 degrees N. for
twenty-five miles. Encamping at night with tolerable grass, but without
water. There had been a considerable pool of rain water here a few days
ago, but it was now nearly dried up by the sun, and I was obliged to
order the horses to be watched during the night.

To-day I found a most splendid creeping plant in flower, growing in
between the ranges, it was quite new to me, and very beautiful; the leaf
was like that of the vetch but larger, the flower bright scarlet, with a
rich purple centre, shaped like a half globe with the convex side
outwards; it was winged, and something like a sweet pea in shape, the
flowers hung pendent upon long slender stalks, very similar to those of
sweet peas, and in the greatest profusion; altogether it was one of the
prettiest and richest looking flowers I have seen in Australia.

September 23.--Moving on over a firm road, but with much scrub and
prickly grass, we travelled for fifteen miles under the hills at a course
of E. 20 degrees N., encamping early in the afternoon close under them,
and procuring a little water left in the hollows by the rains. I ascended
another of the heights in the Gawler range to-day, but could obtain no
clear view from it, the weather being hazy. Ridge behind ridge still
appeared to rise to the north, beyond the front one under which we were
travelling; and several salt lakes were seen among the hills at
intervals. The rock of which the hills were composed was now changed from
a porphoritic granite to a reddish quartz, which was scattered all over
the front hills in loose small fragments. The latitude of our camp was 32
degrees 30 minutes 35 seconds S.

September 24.--Our road was firmer to-day, over a red gritty soil of
sandy loam and gravel. The hills were still covered with quartz, but
decreasing perceptibly in elevation as we advanced to the east. At about
eight miles we were lucky enough to find a puddle of rain water, and at
once halted for the day to rest and refresh the horses. Having ascended a
high peak near the camp, I found I was surrounded by a mass of hills on
every side; they gradually increased in elevation as they stretched to
the northwest, becoming lower at a bearing of north, and quite detached
to the north-east; resembling so many islands in the level waste around

September 25.--Moving from our camp early we had an excellent road, and
travelled rapidly for about twenty miles, nearly due east, halting for
the night under a high red hill, where we found some rain water for our
horses; but the grass was very scarce. After dinner I ascended the hill
near the camp and obtained a distant view of Mount Brown, and the range
on the east side of Spencer's Gulf. To the north was one vast sea of
level scrub, and in the midst of it a lake; but seemingly of no very
great size. A few elevations were seen to the south-east, of all of which
I took bearings, and then descended to the camp again. The bearing of
Mount Brown, from this hill, was E. 10 degrees S.; and the latitude of
the camp, under the hill, was 30 degrees 27 minutes 55 seconds S.

September 26.--Passing up a barren valley between low hills, we had at
first a good road, but afterwards it became very stony. We encamped
early, after a short stage of fifteen miles, having gradually left most
of the hills to the north of us. One that we were encamped under I
ascended, and had a very extensive view, and took many angles. A large
lake (named Lake Gilles) [Note 22: After the first Colonial Treasurer of
the province.] bore nearly due south, and was the same that had been
seen from Baxter's range; the latter was now distinctly visible
at a bearing of E. 20 degrees S. The latitude of our camp was 32 degrees
35 minutes 58 seconds S. There was barely enough rain water found to
supply our horses, but the feed was tolerably good.

September 27.--We had a very bad stony road to-day, consisting
principally of quartz and iron-stone, of which the ranges had latterly
been entirely composed. Our stage was sixteen miles, passing round the
south end of Baxter's range, and encamping under it, on the eastern
front, upon a gorge, in which was plenty of water and good grass. We had
thus, by taking advantage of the rains that had fallen, been enabled to
force a passage from Streaky Bay to Spencer's Gulf; but we had done so
with much difficulty, and had we been but a few days later, we should
have failed altogether, for though travelling for a great part of the
distance under very high rocky ranges, we never found a drop of permanent
fresh-water nor a single spring near them. There are no watercourses, and
no timber; all is barren rocky and naked in the extreme. The waters that
collected after rains, lodged in the basins of small lakes; but such was
the nature of the soil that these were invariably salt.

It was through this dreary region I had left my overseer to take his
division of the party when we separated at Baxter's range; but I confided
the task to him with confidence. Rain had at that time fallen very
abundantly; he had already been over the road with me before, and knew
all the places where water or grass was likely to be found; and our
former dray tracks of 1839, which were still distinctly visible, would be
a sufficient guide to prevent his getting off the line of route. The
skill, judgment, and success with which the overseer conducted the task
assigned to him, fully justified the confidence I reposed in him; and
upon my rejoining the party at Streaky Bay, after an absence of seven
weeks, I was much gratified to find that neither the men, animals, or
equipment, were in the least degree the worse for their passage through
the desert.

Chapter XI.


November 4.--To-DAY the party were occupied in sorting and packing
stores, which I intended to send on board the WATERWITCH to Fowler's Bay,
that by lightening the loads upon the drays, we might the more easily
force a passage through the dense scrub which I knew we had to pass
before we reached that point. In the afternoon the men were engaged in
shearing the remainder of our sheep, washing their own clothes and
preparing everything for breaking up the camp, whilst I rode down to
Streaky Bay, and went on board the cutter to give orders relative to the
reception of our stores tomorrow.

The harbour of Streaky Bay is extensive, but generally open to the
westward. In its most southerly bight, however, is a secure well
sheltered bay, for vessels of moderate draught of water; being protected
by a long sandy shoal which must be rounded before a vessel can enter.

[Note 23: A plan of this harbour was made by Mr. Cannan, one of the
Government assistant surveyors of South Australia, when sent by the
Government in a cutter to meet my party with provisions in 1839.]

November 5.--To-day we were engaged in carting down the stores and a
supply of water to the cutter, which we got safely on board, when I gave
written instructions to the master to sail at once, and land a cask of
water, a little higher up the bay, for the use of the horses. In the
evening the drays were loaded and all got ready for our departure

November 6.--Having had the horses watched last night we were enabled to
move away early, and about noon arrived at the place I had appointed Mr.
Germain to land the cask of water: it was all ready, and we watered the
horses, took luncheon and moved on again, directing Mr. Germain to
proceed to Smoky Bay, and land water for us again there. The country we
passed through to-day was low, level, and sandy, and covered with prickly
grass, with a few tea-tree swamps, but no fresh water. The shore of
Streaky Bay on its western side was bounded by high steep sandy hummocks,
behind which we travelled, and at night halted on the borders of a dense
scrub, nearly opposite the middle of the bay, after a stage of about
eighteen miles. Our vicinity to the sea enabled Mr. Scott, myself, and
the native boys to enjoy a swim, a luxury highly appreciated by a
traveller after a day's hard work, amidst heat and dust, and one which I
anticipated we should frequently obtain in our course to the westward.

November 7.--Breakfasted before daylight, and moved on with the earliest
dawn to encounter a scrub which I knew to be of heavier timber, and
growing more closely together than any we had yet attempted. It consisted
of Eucalyptus dumosa and the salt-water tea-tree, (the latter of a very
large growth and very dense,) in a heavy sandy soil.

By keeping the axes constantly at work in advance of the drays, we
succeeded in slowly forcing a passage through this dreadful country,
emerging in about seventeen miles at an open plain behind Point Brown,
and in the midst of which was a well of water. The entrance to this well
was by a circular opening, through a solid sheet of limestone, about
fifteen inches in diameter, but enlarging a little about a foot below the
surface. The water was at a depth of ten feet, and so choked up with sand
and dirt that we were obliged to clear the hole out effectually before we
could get any for the horses. This was both a difficult and an unpleasant
occupation, as the man engaged in it had to lower himself through the
very narrow aperture at the top and work in a very cramped position
amongst the dirt and wet below, with the mud dripping upon him; it was
drawn up in a bag, for a bucket could not be used in so contracted a
space. As a spade could not be employed a large shell left by the natives
was used for scooping up the dirt, which made the operation both slow and
tiresome. Our horses were dreadfully fagged and very thirsty after the
severe toil they had endured in dragging the drays through so heavy a
scrub, but with all our exertions we could only obtain from the spring
about two buckets of water apiece for them. As this was not nearly enough
to satisfy them, I was obliged to have them watched for the night to
prevent their straying. The men had been kept incessantly at work from
five in the morning until nearly ten at night, and the additional duty of
watching the horses bore very hard upon them; but they knew it to be
necessary, and did it cheerfully.

We had passed during our route through one or two of the small grassy
openings so constantly met with even in the densest scrubs, and, as
usual, I noticed upon these plains the remains of former scrub, where the
trees were apparently of a larger growth than those now existing around.
The soil too, from a loose sand, had become firmer and more united, and
wherever the scrub had disappeared its place had been supplied by grass.
This strongly confirmed my opinion, long ago formed, that those vast
level wastes in Australia, now covered with low scrub, (and formerly, I
imagine, the bed of the ocean,) are gradually undergoing a process of
amelioration which may one day fit them for the purposes of pasture or
agriculture. The smoke of many native fires was seen during the day
behind and around us, but we did not fall in with any of the natives.

November 8.--Having given each of the horses a bucket of water from the
well, we moved on again through the same dense scrub we had encountered
yesterday, but, if possible, more harassing, from the increased steepness
of the sandy ridges and the quantity of dead timber lying on the surface,
and causing a great impediment to our progress. We forced our way through
this worse than desert region, for about fourteen miles, and arrived
early in the afternoon, with our horses quite exhausted, upon the shores
of Smoky Bay, at a point where the natives had dug a hole in the sand
hills near the beach to procure water, and from which the south end of
the island of St. Peter bore W. 15 degrees S.

The WATERWITCH was already here, and supplied us with a cask of water,
until the men had dined and rested a little, before entering upon the
task of digging for water, which proved to be a most arduous undertaking,
and occupied us all the afternoon. We had to sink through a loose sand
for fifteen feet, which from its nature, added to the effect of a strong
wind that was blowing at the time, drifted in almost as fast as it was
thrown out. We were consequently obliged to make a very large opening
before we could get at the water at all; it was then very abundant, but
dreadfully salt, being little better than the sea water itself; the
horses and sheep however drank it greedily, as we had been able to give
them but little of that received from the vessel.

November 9.--Upon mustering the horses this morning I found they were
looking so exhausted and jaded after the hard toil they had gone through
in the last three days, that I could not venture to put them to work
again to-day. I was consequently obliged to remain in camp, to rest both
them and the men, all of whom were much fatigued. The well in the sand
was even salter to-day than we had found it yesterday, and was quite
unserviceable; the men had sunk the hole rather too deep, that they might
get the water in greater abundance; but when the tide rose it flowed in
under the sand and spoiled the whole. As the water, even at the best, had
been so salt that we could not use it ourselves, and as it was far from
being wholesome for the horses, I did not think it worth while to give
the men the fatigue of digging another hole. I therefore put both horses
and men upon a limited allowance, and got a cask containing sixty gallons
from the cutter for our day's supply. I also took the opportunity of
again lightening our loads by sending on board some more of the baggage
and the light cart. This, by decreasing the number of our teams, would, I
thought, enable me to change the horses occasionally in the others, and
give me an extra man to assist in clearing a road through the scrub,
Having completed my arrangements, I sent on the WATERWITCH to the
north-east part of Denial Bay, to land water there, as I did not expect
to get any until our arrival at Point Peter. Mr. Scott accompanied the
cutter, having expressed a wish to take a trip in her for a few days.

During the forenoon we were visited by a party of natives, who came to
get water at the hole in the sand. They were not much alarmed, and soon
became very friendly, remaining near us all night; from them I learned
that there was no water inland, and none along the coast for two days'
journey, after which we should come to plenty, at a place called by them
"Beelimah Gaip-pe;." Their language was nearly the same as that of Port
Lincoln, intermixed with a few words in use at King George's Sound,
and I now regretted greatly that I had not the Western Australian native
with me.

I found a most singular custom prevailing among the natives of this part
of the country, which I had never found to exist anywhere else (except at
Port Lincoln), and the origin of which it would be most difficult to
account for. In various parts of Australia some of the tribes practise
the rite of circumcision, whilst others do not; but in the Port Lincoln
peninsula, and along the coast to the westward, the natives not only are
circumcised, but have in addition another most extraordinary ceremonial.
[Note 24: Finditus usque ad urethram a parte infera penis.] Among the party
of natives at the camp I examined many, and all had been operated upon.
The ceremony with them seemed to have taken place between the ages
of twelve and fourteen years, for several of the boys of that age
had recently undergone the operation, the wounds being still fresh
and inflamed. This extraordinary and inexplicable custom must have a
great tendency to prevent the rapid increase of the population; and its
adoption may perhaps be a wise ordination of Providence, for that
purpose, in a country of so desert and arid a character as that which
these people occupy.

November 10.--Getting the party away about five o'clock this morning, I
persuaded one of the natives, named "Wilguldy," an intelligent cheerful
old man, to accompany us as a guide, and as an inducement, had him
mounted on a horse, to the great admiration and envy of his fellows, all
of whom followed us on foot, keeping up in a line with the dray through
the scrub, and procuring their food as they went along, which consisted
of snakes, lizards, guanas, bandicoots, rats, wallabies, etc. etc. and it
was surprising to see the apparent ease with which, in merely walking
across the country, they each procured an abundant supply for the day.

In one place in the scrub we came to a large circular mound of sand,
about two feet high, and several yards in circumference; this they
immediately began to explore, carefully throwing away the sand with their
hands from the centre, until they had worked down to a deep narrow hole,
round the sides of which, and embedded in the sand, were four fine large
eggs of a delicate pink colour, and fully the size of a goose egg. I had
often seen these hills before, but did not know that they were nests, and
that they contained so valuable a prize to a traveller in the desert. The
eggs were presented to me by the natives, and when cooked were of a very
rich and delicate flavour. The nest was that of a wild pheasant,
(Leipoa), a bird of the size of a hen pheasant of England, and greatly
resembling it in appearance and plumage; these birds are very cautious
and shy, and run rapidly through the underwood, rarely flying unless when
closely pursued. The shell of the egg is thin and fragile, and the young
are hatched entirely by the heat of the sun, scratching their way out as
soon as they are born, at which time they are able to shift for
themselves. [Note 25: For a further account of the LEIPOA, vide
CHAPTER III. of Notes on the Aborigines.]

Our road to-day was through a heavy sandy country, covered for the most
part densely with the eucalyptus and tea-tree. About eleven we struck the
south-east corner of Denial Bay, and proceeded on to the north-east,
where I had appointed the cutter to meet me. To my surprise she was not
to be seen anywhere, and I began to get anxious about our supply of water
for the horses, as we were entirely dependant upon her for it. In the
afternoon I observed the vessel rounding into the south-east bight of the
bay, and was obliged to send my overseer on horseback a long ride round
the bay, to tell the master to send us water to the place of our
encampment. He had been to the island of St. Peter yesterday looking for
birds' eggs, and having neglected to take advantage of a fair wind, was
not now able to get the cutter up to us. The water had consequently to be
brought in the boat a distance of eight miles through a heavy sea, and at
considerable risk. Mr. Scott, who came with the master in the boat,
returned on board again in the evening. Our stage to-day had been
eighteen miles, and the horses were both tired and thirsty. The small
supply of water brought us in the boat being insufficient for them, we
again were obliged to watch them at night.

November 11.--Guided by our friend "Wilguldy," we cut off all the corners
and bends of the coast, and steering straight for "Beelimah Gaippe,"
arrived there about noon, after a stage of twelve miles; the road
was harder and more open, but still in places we had to pass
through a very dense brush. The water to which the native took us was
procured by digging about four feet deep, in a swamp behind the coast
hummocks, which were here high and bare, and composed of white sand. The
water was abundant and good, and the grass tolerable, so that I
determined to remain a day to rest and recruit the horses; it was so
rarely that we had the opportunity of procuring both grass and water. The
dogs killed a kangaroo, which enabled us to give our guide an abundant
feast of food, to which he had been accustomed; but to do the old man
justice, I must say he was not very scrupulous about his diet, for he ate
readily of any thing that we offered him.

After we had encamped some more natives came up and joined us from the
vicinity of Point Peter, which lay a few miles to the east of us; they
were known to those who had accompanied us, and were very friendly and
well conducted. To many inquiries about water inland, they all assured me
that there was none to be found in that direction; but said that there
was water further along the coast called "Berinyana gaippe," and only one
day's journey from our present encampment.

November 12.--I sent the overseer this morning to communicate with the
cutter, and to request the master to fill up as much water as he could,
preparatory to our moving onwards to Fowler's Bay. In the evening the
overseer returned, accompanied by Mr. Scott, to acquaint me that the
water near Point Peter was a considerable distance from the vessel; and
that it would be impracticable to fill up all the casks, with no other
means than they had at command.

I took the sun's altitude, at noon, for latitude; but the day was windy,
and the mercury shook so much that I could not depend upon the
observation within three or four miles. It gave nearly 32 degrees 10
seconds S. which I thought too much to the northward. The sun set by
compass W. 24 1/2 degrees S.

November 13.--Guided by the natives, we moved onward through a densely
scrubby country, and were again obliged to keep the men with axes
constantly at work, in advance of the drays to clear the road. Our
progress was necessarily slow, and the work very harassing to the horses;
fortunately the stage was not a very long one, and in fourteen miles we
reached "Berinyana gaippe," a small hole dug by the natives, amongst
the sand hummocks of the coast, a little north of Point Bell.
By enlarging this a little, we procured water in great abundance
and of excellent quality. Our course had been generally west by south;
and from our camp, the eastern extreme of Point Bell, bore S. 28 degrees
W., and the centre of the "Purdies Islands" E. 49 degrees S.

November 14.--Upon moving on this morning, we were obliged to keep more
to the north to avoid some salt lakes and low swamps near the coast. The
natives still accompanied us through a very sandy and scrubby country to
a watering place among some sand hills, which they called
"Wademar gaippe." Here we encamped early, after a stage of ten miles,
and were enabled to procure abundance of good water, at a depth of about
four feet below the surface.

There was a large sheet of salt water near our camp which seemed to be an
inlet of the sea, and after a hasty dinner I walked down to examine it.
The water generally appeared shallow, but in some places it was very
deep; after tracing it for five miles, and going round one end of it, I
found no junction with the sea, though the fragments of shells and other
marine remains, clearly shewed that there must have been a junction at no
very remote period. The sand hummocks between the lake and the sea being
very high, I ascended them to take bearings, and then returning to the
lake halted, with the black boy who had accompanied me, to bathe, and
rest ourselves. The weather was most intensely hot, and our walk had been
long and fatiguing, amongst sand hills under a noonday sun. We fully
appreciated the luxury of a swim, and especially as we were lucky enough
to find a hole of fresh water on the edge of the lake, to slake our
parching thirst. Ducks, teal, and pigeons were numerous, and the recent
traces of natives apparent everywhere. It was after sunset when we
returned, tired and weary, to our camp.

November 15.--In the morning we started as early as possible to get the
stage over before the great heat of the day came on, still accompanied
and guided by the friendly natives, who took us through the best and most
open line of country. At six miles we entered a very dense scrub, leaving
to the north of us, several patches of open plains; to the north-east
were seen the smokes of several fires. The natives had told us that there
was water out in that direction, at a short day's journey; but, as they
did not wish us to go to it, I inferred that they thought there was not
enough to satisfy our party, having now frequently seen how great was the
supply we required at each encampment. I was myself of the opinion that a
hole probably existed to the north-east similar to the one we had found
in the plains behind Point Brown, where the access is difficult, and the
quantity procurable at any one time not very great. The scrub we had
traversed to-day was principally of salt-water tea-tree, growing upon a
succession of steep sandy ridges, which presented a formidable barrier to
the progress of the drays; the distance to be accomplished was not above
fourteen miles; but so difficult was the nature of the country, and so
oppressive the heat, that, notwithstanding our very early start, it was
four o'clock in the afternoon before we arrived at the place of
destination, which was called by the natives, "Mobeela gaippe."
The horses and men were greatly fatigued, but for the latter,
the labours of the day were far from being over, for, upon arriving
at the place where the water was to be procured, I found that
the holes, sunk by the natives, were through ridges of a loose sand to a
depth of fourteen or fifteen feet, at the bottom of which, water was
obtained in very small quantities. There were several of these holes
still open, and the traces of many others in every direction around,
which had either fallen in or been filled up by the drifting of the sand.
These singular wells, although sunk through a loose sand to a depth of
fourteen or fifteen feet, were only about two feet in diameter at the
bore, quite circular, carried straight down, and the work beautifully
executed. To get at the water, the natives placed a long pole against one
side of the well, ascending and descending by it to avoid friction
against the sides, which would have inevitably sent the sand tumbling in
upon them. We, however, who were so much clumsier in all our movements,
could not make use of the same expedient, nor indeed, would the size of
the wells, made by the natives, have enabled us even with their
assistance, to get out a moderate supply for the horses. It became
necessary, therefore, to open a new well, of much larger dimensions, a
task of no easy kind in so loose a sand.

Having put the overseer and men to their arduous employment, I ascended
the highest of the sand hills, and took a set of angles, among which
Point Fowler bore W. 16 degrees S. and Point Bell, E. 40 degrees S.

A small lake was visible at W. 40 degrees N. The country still looked
very cheerless in every direction, and no signs of improvement appeared
to relieve the dreary scene around, or to lead me to hope for better
country beyond.

Upon rejoining the well diggers, I found after great exertions they had
thrown out an immense quantity of sand, and made a large and commodious
well, and were just going to commence watering the horses; at this
juncture and before a single bucket of water could be taken out, the sand
slipped, and the sides of the well tumbled in, nearly burving alive the
man who was at the bottom. The labour of two hours was lost, and tired as
they were, the men had to begin their work afresh. It was eight at night
before the well was cleared out again sufficiently to enable us to water
the horses, for almost as fast as the sand was thrown out other sand fell
in; by nine the whole of them had received two buckets of water each,
when the sides of the well again shot in, and we were obliged to give up
our digging operations altogether, as the men were completely exhausted;
to relieve them Mr. Scott and I watched the horses during the night.

November 16.--Intending to remain in camp to-day, I set the men to clear
out the well once more. It was a tedious and laborious task, in
consequence of the banks of sand falling in so repeatedly, and
frustrating all their efforts, but at last by sinking a large cask bored
full of auger holes we contrived about one o'clock, to get all the horses
and sheep watered; in the evening, however, the whole again fell in, and
we gave up, in despair, the hopeless attempt to procure any further
supply of water, under such discouraging circumstances.

For some days past, we had been travelling through a country in which the
Mesembryanthemum grows in the greatest abundance, it was in full fruit,
and constituted a favourite and important article of food among the
native population; all our party partook of it freely, and found it both
a wholesome and an agreeable addition to their fare; when ripe, the fruit
is rich, juicy, and sweet, of about the size of a gooseberry. In hot
weather it is most grateful and refreshing. I had often tasted this fruit
before, but never until now liked it; in fact, I never in any other part
of Australia, saw it growing in such abundance, or in so great
perfection, as along the western coast. During our stay in camp a native
had been sent out to call some of the other natives, and towards evening
a good many came up, and were all regularly introduced to us by
'Wilguldy' and the others, who had been with us so long; I gave them a
feast of rice which they appeared to enjoy greatly. Our more immediate
friends and guides had learnt to drink tea, and eat meat and damper, with
which we supplied them liberally, in return for the valuable services
they rendered us.

November 17.--Moving on early, we were guided by the natives for about
twelve miles, round the head of Fowler's Bay, crossing through a very
sandy, scrubby, and hilly country, and encamping at a water hole, dug
between the sandy ridges, about two o'clock in the day. I had ridden a
little in advance of the party, and arriving at the water first,
surprised some women and children encamped there, and very busily engaged
in roasting snakes and lizards over a fire. They were much afraid and ran
away on seeing me, leaving their food upon the embers, this our friendly
guides unceremoniously seized upon and devoured, as soon as they came up
with the drays. These few women were the first we had seen for some time,
as the men appeared to keep them studiously out of our way, and it struck
me that this might be in consequence of the conduct of the whalers or
sealers with whom they might have come in contact on the coast. Old
Wilguldy, however, appeared to be less scrupulous on this point, and
frequently made very significant offers on the subject.

Soon after we had encamped several natives came up and joined those with
us. They were exceedingly polite and orderly--indeed the best conducted,
most obliging natives I ever met with--never troubling or importuning for
any thing, and not crowding around in that unmannerly disagreeable
manner, which savages frequently adopt--nor did I ever find any of them
guilty of theft; on the contrary, several times when we had left some
article behind, they called to us, and pointed it out. To them we were
indebted for the facilities we had enjoyed in obtaining water; for
without their guidance, we could never have removed from any encampment
without previously ascertaining where the next water could be procured;
and to have done this would have caused us great delay, and much
additional toil. By having them with us we were enabled to move with
confidence and celerity; and in following their guidance we knew that we
were taking that line of route which was the shortest, and the best
practicable under the circumstances. Upon arriving at any of the watering
places to which they had conducted us, they always pointed out the water,
and gave it up to us entirely, no longer looking upon it as their own,
and literally not taking a drink from it themselves when thirsty, without
first asking permission from us. Surely this true politeness--this
genuine hospitality of the untutored savage, may well put to the blush,
for their exclusiveness and illiberality, his more civilised brethren. In
how strong a light does such simple kindness of the inhabitant of the
wilds to Europeans travelling through his country (when his fears are not
excited or his prejudices violated,) stand contrasted with the treatment
he experiences from them when they occupy his country, and dispossess him
of his all.

There were now a considerable number of natives with us, all of whom had
been subjected to the singular ceremony before described. Those we had
recently met with, had, in addition, a curious brand, or mark on the
stomach, extending above and below the navel, and produced by the
application of fire. I had previously noticed a similar mark in use among
one or two tribes high up on the Murray River, (South Australia,) and
which is there called "Renditch." At the latter place, however, the brand
was on the breast, here it was on the stomach. I have never been able to
account in any way for the origin or meaning of this mark; but it is
doubtless used as a feature of distinction, or else why should it only be
found in one or two tribes and so far apart, had it been accidental or
arisen from lying near or upon the fires in cold weather, every
individual of certain tribes would not have been affected, and some
individuals of every tribe would: now, the first, as far as my experience
enabled me to judge, is the case; but the latter most assuredly is not.
Both at the Murray, and near Fowler's Bay, the natives always told me,
that the marks were made by fire, though how, or for what purpose, I
could never learn at either place.

November 18.--Our horses being all knocked up, and many of them having
their shoulders severely galled by the racking motion of the drays
winding up and down the heavy sandy ridges, or in and out of the dense
scrubs, I determined to remain for some time in depot to recover them,
whilst I reconnoitred the country to the west, as far as the head of the
great Australian Bight. To leave my party in the best position I could, I
sent the overseer round Point Fowler to see if there was any better place
for the horses in that direction, and to communicate with the master of
the WATERWITCH on the subject of landing our stores. Upon the overseer's
return, he reported that there was fresh water under Point Fowler, but
very little grass; that he had not been able to communicate with the
cutter, the wind being unfavourable and violent, and the cutter's boat on
board, but they had noticed him, and shewn their colours; he said,
moreover, that the vessel was lying in a very exposed situation, and did
not appear at all protected by Point Fowler, which, as she was not well
found in ground-tackle, might possibly occasion her being driven ashore,
if a gale came on from the south-east. This news was by no means
satisfactory, and I became anxious to get our things all landed that the
cutter might go to a place of greater safety.

November 19.--The wind still being unfavourable, the day was spent in
removing the drays, tents, etc. to a more elevated situation. Our camp had
been on the low ground, near the water, in the midst of many scrubby
hills, all of which commanded our position. There were now a great many
well armed natives around us, and though they were very kind and
friendly, I did not like the idea of their occupying the acclivities
immediately above us--at all events, not during my contemplated absence
from the party. I therefore had every thing removed to the hill next
above them, and was a good deal amused at the result of this manoeuvre,
for they seemed equally as uneasy as we had been at the heights above
them being occupied. In a very short time they also broke up camp, and
took possession of the next hill beyond us. This defeated the object I
had in view in our former removal, and I now determined not to be
out-manoeuvred any more, but take up our position on the highest hill we
could find. This was a very scrubby one, but by a vigorous application of
the axes for an hour or two, we completely cleared its summit; and then
taking up the drays, tent, baggage, etc. we occupied the best and most
commanding station in the neighbourhood. The result of this movement was,
that during the day the natives all left, and went in the direction of
where the cutter was. I was not sorry for their departure; for although
they had been very friendly and useful to us, yet now that I contemplated
keeping the party for a long time in camp, and should myself probably be
a considerable time absent, I was more satisfied at the idea of the
natives being away, than otherwise; not that I thought there was the
least danger to be apprehended from them if they were properly treated;
but the time of my men would be much occupied in attending to the horses
and sheep; and they were too few in number, to admit of much of that time
being taken up in watching the camp or the natives who might be near it;
for I always deemed it necessary, as a mere matter of prudence, to keep a
strict look out when any natives were near us, however friendly they
might profess to be.

Upon walking round the shores of Fowler's Bay, I found them literally
strewed in all directions with the bones and carcases of whales, which
had been taken here by the American ship I saw at Port Lincoln, and had
been washed on shore by the waves. To judge from the great number of
these remains, of which very many were easily recognisable as being those
of distinct animals, the American must have had a most fortunate and
successful season.

It has often surprised me, that the English having so many colonies and
settlements on the shores of Australia, should never think it worth their
while to send whalers to fish off its coasts, where the whales are in
such great numbers, and where the bays and harbours are so numerous and
convenient, for carrying on this lucrative employment. I believe scarcely
a single vessel fishes any where off these coasts, which are entirely
monopolised by the French and Americans, who come in great numbers; there
cannot, I think, be less than three hundred foreign vessels annually
whaling off the coasts, and in the seas contiguous to our possessions in
the Southern Ocean. I have generally met with a great many French and
American vessels in the few ports or bays that I have occasionally been
at on the southern coast of Australia; and I have no doubt that they all
reap a rich harvest.

Among the many relics strewed around Fowler's Bay, I found the shell of a
very large turtle laying on the beach; it had been taken by the crew of
the vessel that I met at Port Lincoln, and could not have weighed less
than three to four hundred weight. I was not previously aware that turtle
was ever found so far to the southward, and had never seen the least
trace of them before.

Chapter XII.


November 20.--THE wind being favourable for the boats landing to-day, I
sent the overseer with pack-horses to the west side of Fowler's Bay, to
bring up some flour and other stores for the use of the party; at the
same time I wrote to the master of the cutter, to know whether he
considered his anchorage, at Fowler's Bay, perfectly safe. His reply was,
that the anchorage was good and secure if he had been provided with a
proper cable; but that as he was not, he could not depend upon the vessel
being safe; should a heavy swell set in from the southeast. Upon this
report, I decided upon landing all the stores from the cutter; and
sending her to lay at a secure place on the west side of Denial Bay,
until I returned from exploring the country, near the head of the Great
Bight. On the 22nd, I gave orders to this effect, at the same time
directing the captain to return to Fowler's Bay by the 11th December, at
which time I hoped to have accomplished the journey I contemplated.

On the same day I gave my overseer instructions for his guidance during
my absence; and after sending the drays on to the water behind Point
Fowler, that they might be nearer to the vessel, I set off on horseback
to the westward, accompanied by a native; and taking with us a pack-horse
to carry provisions. Crossing for about six miles through scrub, at a
west by south course, we entered open grassy plains, among which were
many beds of small dried up salt lakes. This description of country
continued for about six miles, when we again entered a very dense scrub,
and continued in it for eight miles, until we struck the coast. Not
finding any indications of water or grass, I pushed up along the beach
for three miles further, and was then obliged to encamp without either,
as it had become too dark to proceed.

November 23.--Moving along the coast for ten miles, we came to large high
drifts of pure white sand, from which some red-winged cockatoos and
pigeons flew out, and near which were several native encampments. I now
fully hoped to find water; but after a long and anxious examination, was
obliged to give up the search. I knew that our only hope of finding water
lay in these drifts of sand; but as it was frequently very difficult to
find, and never could be procured without digging, (sometimes to a great
depth,) I began to fear that our attempt to reach the head of the Bight
was almost hopeless. We had no means of digging in the sand to any depth;
whilst, from the constant drift, caused by the winds among these bare
hills, it was exceedingly disagreeable to remain even for a short time to
examine them. The wind was blowing strong, and whirlwinds of sand were
circling around us, with a violence which we could scarcely struggle
against, and during which we could hardly venture either to open our
eyes, or to draw our breath.

Leaving the sand-drifts we travelled behind the coast ridge through a
more open but still sandy country, making a long stage to some more high
bare sand-drifts, amidst which we again made a long but unsuccessful
search for water; at night we encamped near them, and our unfortunate
horses were again obliged to be tied up for the second time without
either grass or water.

November 24.--Finding that there was little prospect of procuring water
a-head, and that our horses were scarcely able to move at all, I felt it
necessary to retrace our steps as speedily as possible, to try to save
the lives of the animals we had with us. In order that we might effect
this and be encumbered by no unnecessary articles, I concealed, and left
among some bushes, all our baggage, pack-saddles, etc. After passing about
five miles beyond the sand-drifts where I had seen the cockatoos and
pigeons, one of the horses became completely exhausted and could not
proceed any further; I was necessitated therefore to tie him to a bush
and push on with the other two to save them.

When I left my party on the 22nd, I had directed them to remove to some
water-holes behind Point Fowler, but, as I had not seen this place
myself, I was obliged to steer in the dark in some measure at random, not
knowing exactly where they were. The greatest part of our route being
through a dense brush, we received many scratches and bruises from the
boughs as we led our horses along, to say nothing of the danger we were
constantly in of having our eyes put out by branches we could not see,
and which frequently brought us to a stand still by painful blows across
the face. At last we arrived at the open plains I had crossed on my
outward track, and following them down came to two deep holes in the
limestone rock, similar to the one behind Point Brown. By descending into
these holes we found a little water, and were enabled to give each of the
horses three pints; we then pushed on again, hoping to reach the camp,
but getting entangled among the scrub, were obliged at midnight to halt
until daylight appeared, being almost as much exhausted as the horses,
and quite as much in want of water, for we had not tasted the little that
had been procured from the hole found in the plains.

November 25.--At the first streak of daylight we moved on, and in one
mile and a half reached the camp near Point Fowler, before any of the
party were up. We had guessed our course well in the dark last night, and
could not have gone more direct had it been daylight. Having called up
the party and made them get a hasty breakfast, I hurried off a dray
loaded with water, and accompanied by the overseer, one man, and the
black boy, to follow up our tracks to where the tired horse had been
tied. During my absence I found that every thing but the cart had been
landed from the cutter, and safely brought up to the camp, and that as
soon as that was on shore she would be ready to go and lie at anchor at
Denial Bay.

About noon I was greatly surprised and vexed to see my overseer return
driving the loose horses before him. It seemed that whilst feeding around
the camp they had observed the dray and other horses going away and had
followed upon the tracks, so that the overseer had no alternative but to
drive them back to the camp. This was very unfortunate, as it would
occasion great delay in reaching the one we had left tied in the scrub. I
directed the overseer to hurry back as rapidly as possible, and by
travelling all night to endeavour to make up for lost time, for I greatly
feared that if not relieved before another day passed away, it would be
quite impossible to save the animal alive.

After resting myself a little I walked about to reconnoitre the
neighbourhood of our camp, not having seen it before. The situation was
at the west side of the upper extreme of Point Fowler, immediately behind
the sand-drifts of the coast, which there were high, bare, and of white
sand. The water was on the inland side, immediately under the sand-hills,
and procured in the greatest abundance and of good quality, by sinking
from one to three feet. It was found in a bed of white pipe-clay. To the
north-west of us were some open grassy plains, among which our horses and
sheep obtained their food, whilst here and there were scattered a few
salt swamps or beds of lakes, generally, however, dry. The whole country
was of fossil formation, and the borders of the lakes and swamps
exhibited indurated masses of marine shells, apparently but a very recent
deposit. Further inland the country was crusted on the surface with an
oolitic limestone, and for the most part covered by brush; a few open
plains being interspersed here and there among the scrubs, as is
generally the case in that description of country.

The natives still appeared to be in our neighbourhood, but none had been
near us since they first left on the 19th. I would now gladly have got
one of them to accompany me to look for water, but none could be found.
On the 26th and 27th I was occupied in getting up the cart, some casks,
etc. from the cutter, and preparing for another attempt to round the head
of the Great Bight. The vessel then sailed for Denial Bay, where she
could lie in greater safety, until I required her again.

Early on the 27th the man and black boy returned with the dray from the
westward, they had found the horse very weak and much exhausted, but by
care and attention he was got a little round, and the overseer had
remained to bring him slowly on: he had been four entire days and nights
without food or water, and for the first two days and a half of this time
had been severely worked. In the evening the overseer came up, driving
the jaded animal, somewhat recovered indeed--but miserably reduced in

The party with the dray had taken spades with them to dig for water at
the sand hills, where I had seen the pigeons and cockatoos on the 23rd,
and at ten feet they had been lucky enough to procure abundance, which
although of a brackish quality was usable; from the great depth, however,
at which it was obtained, and the precarious nature of the soil, it was
very troublesome to get at it.

November 28.--This morning I sent away a dray with three horses, carrying
seventy gallons of water to assist me in again endeavouring to get round
the Bight. As the road was very scrubby, and much impeded by fallen
timber, I had previously sent on a man to clear it a little; and about
ten o'clock I followed with the native boy. We got tolerably well through
the scrub, and encamped in a plain about sixteen miles from the depot,
where there was good grass. The weather being cool and showery, our
horses would not drink more than a bucket each from the casks.

November 29.--Having moved on the dray early over rather a heavy road, we
took up our quarters under the white sand-drifts, after a stage of nine
miles. I then left the boy in charge of the camp, and proceeded myself
with the two men, and provided with spades and buckets, to where the
overseer had obtained water by digging; the place was about two miles
from our camp, between the sand-drifts and the sea, and immediately
behind the front ridges of the coast. By enlarging the hole, and sinking
a tub bored full of holes, we managed to water the horses, and get a
supply for ourselves. In the afternoon an attempt was made to dig a well
nearer the camp, but a stratum of rock put an end to our labours.

November 30.--Sending back one of the men to the depot, I left the native
boy to guide the dray, whilst I diverged towards the coast to look for
water among the sand-drifts, that were seen occasionally in that
direction; in none of them, however, could I obtain a drop. The country
travelled over consisted of very heavy sand ridges, covered for the most
part with low scrub, and as the stage was a long one (twenty-two miles),
I found upon overtaking the dray that the horses were knocked up, and a
party of fourteen natives surrounding it, who were making vehement
gesticulations to the man not to proceed, and he being only accompanied
by a single black boy was greatly alarmed, and did not know what to do;
indeed, had I not arrived opportunely, I have no doubt that he would have
turned the horses round, and driven back again. Upon coming up with the
natives, I saw at once that none of them had been with us before, but at
the same time they appeared friendly and well-behaved, making signs for
us not to proceed, and pointing to some sand-drifts at the coast which we
had passed, implying, as I understood them, that there was water there.
We were now in an opening among the scrub, consisting of small grassy
undulating plains, and at these I determined to halt for the night,
hoping the natives would remain near us, and guide us to water to-morrow.
To induce them to do this, after giving the horses each two buckets of
water, I gave two gallons among them also, besides some bread. They at
once took possession of an elevation a little above our position, and
formed their camp for the night. As we were so few in number compared to
the natives, we were obliged to keep a watch upon them during the whole
night, and they did the same upon us--but at a much less individual
inconvenience from their number; they appeared to take the duty in
turn--two always being upon guard at once.

December 1.--After giving the natives some water, and taking breakfast
ourselves, we moved on in the direction they wished us to go, followed by
the whole party; at two miles they brought us to the sea over a dreadful
heavy road, but upon then asking them where the water was, they now told
us to our horror, that there was "mukka gaip-pe," or, no water.
The truth was now evident, we had mutually misunderstood one
another; they seeing strangers suddenly appear, had taken it for granted
they came from the sea, and pointed there, whilst we, intent only upon
procuring water, had fancied they had told us we should find it where
they pointed; upon reaching the coast both were disappointed--they at not
seeing a ship, and we at not finding water.

It was now a difficult matter to decide what to do: our horses were
greatly jaded, owing to the hilly and sandy character of the country; our
water was reduced to a low ebb in the casks, for relying upon the natives
guiding us to more, we had used it improvidently; whilst the very least
distance we could be away from the water, at the sand-drifts, was
twenty-five miles; if we went back we lost all our previous labour, and
could not do so without leaving the dray behind, and if we went forward,
it was very problematical whether water could be procured within any
distance attainable by our tired horses.

The natives now asserted there was water to the north-west, but that it
was a long way off. As they still seemed willing to accompany us, I
determined to proceed, and pushed on parallel with the coast behind the
front ridges; at nine miles the horses were quite exhausted, and could
get no further, so that I was obliged to halt for the night, where a few
tufts of withered grass were found under the hummocks.

Our sable friends had gradually dropped off, one or two at a time, until
only three remained. These I endeavoured to make friends with, by giving
them plenty of water and bread, and after taking a hasty meal, I got them
to go with me and the native boy along the coast, to search for water.
After going about a mile, they would proceed no further, making signs
that they should be very thirsty, and enabling me clearly to comprehend,
that there was no water until the head of the Great Bight was rounded. As
I did not know exactly, what the actual distance might be, I still hoped
I should be able to reach it, and leaving the natives to return, I and
the boy pushed on beyond all the sandy hills and cliffs, to the low sandy
tract bordering upon the head of the Bight, from which we were about
twelve miles distant. The day was hazy, or the cliffs of the Great Bight
would have been distinctly visible.

We lost a good deal of time in tracking the foot-steps of a party of
native women and children, among some bare sand-drifts, hoping the track
would lead to water; but the party seemed to have been rambling about
without any fixed object, and all our efforts to find water were in vain;
the whole surface of the country, (except where it was hidden by the
sand-drifts) was one sheet of limestone crust, and wherever we attempted
to dig among the sand-drifts, the rock invariably stopped us.

As it was getting on towards evening, I returned to where I had left the
dray, and giving each of the horses one bucket of water and five pints of
oats, was obliged to have them tied for the night, myself and the man
being too much fatigued to watch them.

December 2.--We had not moved far upon our return, when one of our most
valuable dray-horses became completely overdone with fatigue, and I was
obliged to take it out of the team and put in a riding horse, to try, if
possible, to reach the plains where the grass was. We just got to the
borders of this open patch of country, when the poor animal (a mare)
could not be got a yard farther, and we were compelled to halt and decide
upon what was best to be done. The water in the cask was nearly all
consumed, the mare could not stir, and the other horses were very weak,
so that no time was to be lost; I immediately decided upon leaving the
man to take care of the mare and the dray, whilst I and the native boy
took the other horses back for more water; having measured out to the
man, water amounting to a quart per day, during our contemplated absence,
I gave all that was left, consisting of about half a bucket full, to the
mare, and then accompanied by the boy, pushed steadily back towards the
water at the sand hills, distant about twenty-five miles. At dark we
arrived there, but the sand had fallen in, and we had to labour hard to
clear out the hole again; it was eleven o'clock at night before we could
get the horses watered, and we then had to take them a mile and a half
before we could get any grass for them. Returning from this duty, we had
to collect and carry on our backs for more than a mile, a few bundles of
sticks and bushes, to make a little fire for ourselves, near the water,
the night being intensely cold. It was past two o'clock in the morning
before we could lay down, and then, tired and harassed as we were, it was
too cold and damp for us to rest.

December 3.--The scorching rays of the morning sun awoke us early, weary
and unrefreshed, we had no trees to shade us, and were obliged to get up.
After looking at the well, and congratulating ourselves upon its not
having fallen in, we set off to look for the horses, they had wandered
away in search of food, causing us a long and tiresome walk over the
sand-hills in the sun, before we could find them; having at last got them
and driven them to where the water was, we were chagrined to find that
during our absence the well had again fallen in, and we had the labour of
clearing it out to go through again.

The day was excessively oppressive, with a hot parching wind, and both we
and the horses drank incessantly. Towards night we took the horses away
to the grass, and remained near them ourselves for the sake of the
firewood, which was there more abundant.

We had thunder towards evening, and a few dops of rain fell, but not
sufficient to moderate the temperature, the heat continuing as oppressive
as before.

December 4.--After watering the horses, we took ten gallons upon a
pack-horse, and proceeded on our return to the man we had left; the state
in which our own horses were, having made it absolutely necessary to give
them the day's rest they had yesterday enjoyed. We arrived about five in
the afternoon, at the little plain where we had left the man; he was
anxiously looking out for us, having just finished his last quart of
water. The poor mare looked very weak and wretched, but after giving her
at intervals, eight gallons of water, she fed a little, and I fully hoped
we should succeed in saving her life. No natives had been seen during our

The night set in very dark and lowering, and I expected a heavy fall of
rain; to catch which we spread our oilskins and tarpaulin, and placed out
the buckets and pannekins, or whatever else would hold water: a few
drops, however, only fell, and the storm passed away, leaving us as much
under a feeling of disappointment, as we had been previously of hope: one
little shower would have relieved us at once from all our difficulties.

December 5.--Upon getting up early, I thought the horses looked so much
refreshed, that we might attempt to take back the dray, and had some of
the strongest of them yoked up. We proceeded well for two miles and a
half to our encampment of the 30th November; and as there was then a well
defined track, I left the man to proceed alone, whilst I myself went once
more to the coast to make a last effort to procure water among some of
the sand-drifts. In this I was unsuccessful. There were not the slightest
indications of water existing any where. In returning to rejoin the dray,
I struck into our outward track, about three miles below, where I had
left it, and was surprised to find that the dray had not yet passed,
though I had been three hours absent. Hastily riding up the track, I
found the man not half a mile from where I had left him, and surrounded
by natives. They had come up shortly after my departure; and the man,
getting alarmed, was not able to manage his team properly, but by
harassing them had quite knocked up all the horses; the sun was getting
hot, and I saw at once it would be useless to try and take the dray any

Having turned out the horses to rest a little, I went to the natives to
try to find out, if possible, where they procured water, but in vain.
They insisted that there was none near us, and pointed in the direction
of the head of the Bight to the north-west, and of the sand hills to the
south-east, as being the only places where it could be procured; when I
considered, however, that I had seen these same natives on the 30th
November, and that I found them within half a mile of the same place,
five days afterwards, I could not help thinking that there must be water
not very far away. It is true, the natives require but little water
generally, but they cannot do without it altogether. If there was a small
hole any where near us, why they should refuse to point it out, I could
not imagine. I had never before found the least unwillingness on their
part to give us information of this kind; but on the contrary, they were
ever anxious and ready to conduct us to the waters that they were
acquainted with. I could only conclude, therefore, that what they stated
was true--that there was no water near us, and that they had probably
come out upon a hunting excursion, and carried their own supplies with
them in skins, occasionally, perhaps, renewing this from the small
quantities found in the hollows of the gum scrub, and which is deposited
there by the rains, or procuring a drink, as they required it, from the
long lateral roots of the same tree. [Note 26: Vide Chapter XVI., towards
the close.] I have myself seen water obtained in both these ways. The
principal inducement to the natives to frequent the small plains
where we were encamped, appeared to be, to get the fruit of the
Mesembryanthemum, which grew there in immense quantities, and was
now just ripe; whilst the scrub, by which these plains were surrounded,
seemed to be alive with wallabie, adding variety to abundance in the
article of food.

We were now on the horns of a very serious dilemma: our horses were
completely fagged out, and could take the dray no further. We were
surrounded by natives, and could not leave it, and the things upon it,
whilst they were present (for many of these things we could not afford to
lose); and on the other hand, we were twenty-two miles from any water,
and our horses were suffering so much from the want of it, that unless we
got them there shortly, we could not hope to save the lives of any one of

Had the natives been away, we could have buried the baggage, and left the
dray; but as it was, we had only to wait patiently, hoping they would
soon depart. Such, however, was not their intention; there they sat
coolly and calmly, facing and watching us, as if determined to sit us
out. It was most provoking to see the careless indifference with which
they did this, sheltering themselves under the shade of a few shrubs, or
lounging about the slopes near us, to gather the berries of the
Mesembryanthemum. I was vexed and irritated beyond measure, as hour after
hour passed away, and our unconscious tormentors still remained. Every
moment, as it flew, lessened the chance of saving the lives of our
horses; and yet I could not bring myself to abandon so many things that
we could not do without, and which we could not in any way replace. What
made the circumstances, too, so much worse, was, that we had last night
given to our horses every drop of water, except the small quantity put
apart for our breakfasts.

We had now none, and were suffering greatly from the heat, and from
thirst, the day being calm and clear, and intolerably hot. When we had
first unyoked the horses, I made the man and native boy lay down in the
shade, to sleep, whilst I attended to the animals, and kept an eye on the
natives. About noon I called them up again, and we all made our dinner
off a little bread, and some of the fruit that grew around us, the
moisture of which alone enabled us to eat at all, our mouths were so
thoroughly dry and parched.

A movement was now observed among the natives; and gathering up their
spears, they all went off. Having placed the native boy upon an eminence
to watch them, the man and I at once set to work to carry our baggage to
the top of a sand-hill, that it might be buried at some distance from the
dray. We had hardly commenced our labours, however, before the boy called
out that the natives were returning, and in a little time they all
occupied their former position; either they had only gone as a ruse to
see what we intended to do, or they had been noticing us, and had seen us
removing our baggage, or else they had observed the boy watching them,
and wished to disappoint him. Whatever the inducement was, there they
were again, and we had as little prospect of being able to accomplish our
object as ever. If any thing could have palliated aggressive measures
towards the aborigines, it would surely be such circumstances as we were
now in; our own safety, and the lives of our horses, depended entirely
upon our getting rid of them. Yet with the full power to compel them (for
we were all armed), I could not admit the necessity of the case as any
excuse for our acting offensively towards those who had been friendly to
us, and who knew not the embarrassment and danger which their presence
caused us.

Strongly as our patience had been exercised in the morning, it was still
more severely tested in the afternoon--for eight long hours had those
natives sat opposite to us watching. From eight in the morning until four
in the afternoon, we had been doomed to disappointment. About this time,
however, a general movement again took place; once more they collected
their spears, shouldered their wallets, and moved off rapidly and
steadily towards the south-east. It was evident they had many miles to go
to their encampment, and I now knew we should be troubled with them no
more. Leaving the boy to keep guard again upon the hill, the man and I
dug a large hole, and buried all our provisions, harness, pack-saddles,
water-casks, etc. leaving the dray alone exposed in the plains. After
smoothing the surface of the ground, we made a large fire over the place
where the things were concealed, and no trace remained of the earth
having been disturbed.

We had now no time to lose, and moving away slowly, drove the horses
before us towards the water. The delay, however, had been fatal; the
strength of the poor animals was too far exhausted, and before we had
gone seven miles, one of them could not proceed, and we were obliged to
leave him; at three miles further two more were unable to go on, and
they, too, were abandoned, though within twelve miles of the water. We
had still two left, just able to crawl along, and these, by dint of great
perseverance and care, we at last got to the water about four o'clock in
the morning of the 6th. They were completely exhausted, and it was quite
impossible they could go back the same day, to take water to those we had
left behind. The man, myself, and the boy were in but little better
plight; the anxiety we had gone through, the great heat of the weather,
and the harassing task of travelling over the heavy sandy hills, covered
with scrub, in the dark, and driving jaded animals before us, added to
the want of water we were suffering under, had made us exceedingly weak,
and rendered us almost incapable of further exertion. In the evening I
sent the man, who had been resting all day, to try and bring the two
horses nearest to us a few miles on the road, whilst I was to meet him
with water in the morning. Native fires were seen to the north-east of us
at night, but the people did not seem to have been at the water at the
sand-hills for their supply, no traces of their having recently visited
it being found.

December 7.--After giving the horses water we put ten gallons upon one of
them, and hurried off to the animals we had left. The state of those with
us necessarily made our progress slow, and it was four o'clock before we
arrived at the place where they were, about eleven miles from the water.
The man had gone on to the furthest of the three, and had brought them
all nearly together; upon joining him we received the melancholy
intelligence, that our best draught mare had just breathed her
last--another lay rolling on the ground in agony--and the third appeared
but little better. After moistening their mouths with water, we made
gruel for them with flour and water, and gave it to them warm: this they
drank readily, and appeared much revived by it, so that I fully hoped we
should save both of them. After a little time we gave each about four
gallons of water, and fed them with all the bread we had. We then let
them rest and crop the withered grass until nine o'clock, hoping, that in
the cool of the evening, we should succeed in getting them to the water,
now so few miles away. At first moving on, both horses travelled very
well for two miles, but at the end of the third, one of them was unable
to go any further, and I left the man to remain, and bring him on again
when rested; the other I took on myself to within six miles of the water,
when he, too, became worn out, and I had to leave him, and go for a fresh
supply of water.

About four in the morning of the 8th, I arrived with the boy at the
water, just as day was breaking, and quite exhausted. We managed to water
the two horses with us, but were too tired either to make a fire or get
anything to eat ourselves; and lay down for an hour or two on the sand.
At six we got up, watered the horses again, and had breakfast; after
which, I filled the kegs and proceeded once more with ten gallons of
water to the unfortunate animals we had left behind. The black boy was
too tired to accompany me, and I left him to enjoy his rest, after giving
him my rifle for his protection, in the event of natives coming during my

Upon arriving at the place where I had left the horse, I found him in a
sad condition, but still alive. The other, left further away, in charge
of the man, had also been brought up to the same place, but died just as
I got up to him; there was but one left now out of the three, and to save
him, all our care and attention were directed. By making gruel, and
giving it to him constantly, we got him round a little, and moved him on
to a grassy plain, about a mile further; here we gave him a hearty drink
of water, and left him to feed and rest for several hours. Towards
evening we again moved on slowly, and as he appeared to travel well, I
left the man to bring him on quietly for the last five miles, whilst I
took back to the water the two noble animals that had gone through so
much and such severe toil in the attempt made to save the others. In the
evening I reached the camp near the water, and found the native boy quite
safe and recruited. For the first time for many nights, I had the
prospect of an undisturbed rest; but about the middle of the night I was
awoke by the return of the man with the woful news, that the last of the
three horses was also dead, after travelling to within four miles of the
water. All our efforts, all our exertions had been in vain; the dreadful
nature of the country, and our unlucky meeting with the natives, had
defeated the incessant toil and anxiety of seven days' unremitting
endeavours to save them; and the expedition had sustained a loss of three
of its best horses, an injury as severe as it was irreparable.

December 9.--At day-break, this morning, I sent off the man to the depot
at Fowler's Bay, with orders to the overseer to send five fresh horses,
two men, and a supply of provisions; requesting Mr. Scott to accompany
them, for the purpose of taking back the two tired horses we still had
with us at the sand-hills. Upon the man's departure, we took the two
horses to water, and brought up ten gallons to the camp, where the grass
was; after which, whilst the horses were feeding and resting, we tried to
pass away the day in the same manner; the heat, however, was too great,
and the troubles and anxieties of the last few days had created such an
irritation of mind that I could not rest: my slumbers were broken and
unrefreshing; but the boy managed better, he had no unpleasant
anticipations for the future, and already had forgotten the annoyance of
the past.

December 10.--After an early breakfast, we took the horses to water and
cleared the hole out thoroughly, as I expected five more horses in the
evening. Upon returning to the plain, fires of the natives were again
seen to the north-east; but they did not approach us. Our provisions were
now quite exhausted, and having already lived for many days upon a very
low diet, we looked out anxiously for the expected relay. About four
o'clock, Mr. Scott, two men, and five horses arrived, bringing us
supplies; so that no time had been lost after the arrival of my
messenger. The hole having been previously enlarged and cleared out, no
difficulty was experienced in watering the horses, and about sunset all
encamped together under the sand-hills at the grassy plain.

December 11.--Leaving directions with Mr. Scott to take back to the
depot, to-morrow, the two horses we had been working so severely, and
which were now recruiting a little; and giving orders to the two men to
follow the dray track to the north-west tomorrow, with the three fresh
horses, I once more set off with the native boy to revisit the scene of
our late disasters; and recover the dray and other things we had
abandoned. We passed by the three dead horses on our route, now lying
stiff and cold; in our situation a melancholy spectacle, and which
awakened gloomy and cheerless anticipations for the future, by reminding
us of the crippled state of our resources, and of the dreadful character
of the inhospitable region we had to penetrate. At dark we came to the
little plain where the dray was, and found both it and our baggage
undisturbed; nor was it apparent that any natives had visited the place
since we left it. During the evening a few slight showers fell, which,
with a heavy dew, moistened the withered grass, and enabled our horses to
feed tolerably well.

December 12.--I had proceeded a day in advance of the men and horses
coming to recover the dray, in order that I might satisfy myself whether
there was water or not near the plains to the east or north-east, as
there were some grounds for supposing that such might be the case, from
the fact of so many natives having been twice seen there, and the
probability that they had remained for five days in the neighbourhood.
To-day I devoted to a thorough examination of the country around; and,
accompanied by the boy, proceeded early away to the north-east, returning
southerly, and then crossing back westerly to the camp. We travelled over
a great extent of ground, consisting principally of very dense scrub,
with here and there occasional grassy openings; but no where could we
observe the slightest indications of the existence of water, although the
traces of natives were numerous and recent; and we tracked them for
several miles, often seeing places where they had broken down the shrubs
to get a grub, which is generally found there, out of the root; and
observing the fragments of the long lateral roots of the gum-scrub, which
they had dug up to get water from. And this, I am inclined to think, is
what they depend upon principally in these arid regions for the little
water they require. The general direction taken by these wanderers of the
desert, was to the north-east. About four o'clock the men with the
dray-horses arrived, bringing ten gallons of water, which we divided
among the horses, and then took it in turn to watch them during the

December 13.--Having buried a few things that I might require when I
should come out here again, (for I determined not to give up the attempt
to round the Great Bight,) I had all the rest of our luggage taken up,
and the horses being harnessed, we returned with the dray to the water at
the sand-hills, arriving there early in the afternoon. We had yoked up
three strong fresh horses, that had done no work for some time
previously; and yet, such was the nature of the country, that with an
almost empty dray, they had hardly been able to reach the water, at the
furthest only twenty-two miles distant, and in accomplishing this, they
had been upwards of ten hours in the collar. How then could we expect to
get through such a region with drays heavily loaded, as ours must be,
when we moved on finally.

On the 14th we remained in camp to refresh the horses, and early on the
following day proceeded through the scrub, on our return to the depot;
first burying our pack-saddle, and a few other things, in the plain near
the sand-hills. Notwithstanding the care we had taken of the horses, and
the little work we had given them, they got fagged in going through the
scrub, and I was obliged to halt the dray at the rocky well in the
plains, five miles short of the depot. I myself went on with the boy to
the camp at Point Fowler, where I found the party feasting upon emus,
four of which they had shot during my absence.

December 16.--About ten to-day the dray and men arrived safely at the
depot, being the last detachment of the party engaged in this most
unfortunate expedition, which had occupied so much time and caused such
severe and fatal loss, independently of its not accomplishing the object
for which it was undertaken. In the evening I sent Mr. Scott to see if
the cutter had returned, and upon his coming back he reported that she
had just arrived, but that he had not been able to communicate with her.

Chapter XIII.


December 17.--HAVING now maturely considered the serious position I was
in, the difficult nature of the country, the reduced condition and
diminished number of my horses, and the very unfavourable season of the
year, I decided upon taking advantage of a considerate clause in the
Governor's letter, authorizing me "to send back the WATERWITCH to
Adelaide for assistance, if required."

From the experience I had already had, and from the knowledge I had thus
acquired of the character of the country to the westward and to the
north, it was evident that I could never hope to take my whole party,
small as it was, with me in either direction. I had already lost three
horses in an attempt to get round the head of the Bight, and I had also
found that my three best horses now remaining, when strong and fresh
after a long period of rest at the depot, had with difficulty been able
to move along with an empty dray in the heavy sandy country to the
north-west; how could I expect, then, to take drays when loaded with
provisions and other stores? Hitherto we had enjoyed the assistance of
the cutter in passing up the coast--by putting all our heavy baggage on
board of her, the drays were comparatively empty, and we had got on
tolerably well. We could no longer, however, avail ourselves of this
valuable aid, for we were now past all harbours. Fowler's Bay being the
last place of refuge where a vessel could take shelter for many hundred
miles, whilst the fearful nature of the coast and the strong current
setting into the Bight, made it very dangerous for a vessel to approach
the land at all. Upon leaving Fowler's Bay, therefore, it was evident
that we must be dependent entirely upon our own resources; and it became
necessary for me to weigh well and maturely how I might best arrange my
plans so as to meet the necessity of the case. It appeared to me that if
I sent two of my men back to Adelaide in the WATERWITCH, a single dray
would carry every necessary for the reduced party remaining, and that by
obtaining a supply of oats and bran for the horses, and giving them a
long rest, they might so far recover strength and spirits as to afford me
reasonable grounds of hope that we might succeed in forcing a passage
through the country to the westward, bad as it evidently was. Acting upon
the opinion I had arrived at, I sent for the master of the cutter and
requested him to get ready at once for sea, and then communicated my
decision to the two men who were to leave us, Corporal Coles, R.S. and M.
and John Houston, requesting them to get ready to embark to-morrow. They
did not appear to experience much surprise, and were I think on the whole
rather pleased than otherwise at the prospect of a return to Adelaide.
Both these men had conducted themselves remarkably well during the whole
time they were in the party, and one of them, John Houston, had been with
me in my late disastrous expedition, during which his obedience and good
conduct had been beyond all praise. We had, however, now been absent for
six months, had traversed a great extent of country, and undergone many
hardships; the country we had met with had unfortunately always been of
the most barren and disheartening character, and that which was yet
before us appeared to be if possible still worse, so that I could not
wonder that my men should appear gratified in the prospect of a
termination to their labours. With so little to cheer and encourage, they
might well perhaps doubt of our final success.

December 18.--Having once decided upon my plans, I lost no time in
putting them in execution. A dray, three sets of horses' harness, and
some other things were sent on board the WATERWITCH, together with half a
sheep and sixty pounds of biscuit for the crew, who were now running
short of provisions. Several casks were brought on shore for us to bury
stores in, and the boat I had purchased at Port Lincoln was left, at Mr.
Scott's request, for him to fish in during the absence of the cutter.
After I had settled with the two men for their services, both of whom had
large sums to receive, they took leave of us, and went on board.

My own time had been fully occupied for the last two days, in writing
letters and preparing despatches; by great exertions I got all ready this
evening, and upon Mr. Germain's coming up at night, I delivered them to
him, and directed him to sail as soon as possible. The following copy of
my despatch to his Excellency the Governor, will convey a brief summary
of the result of the expedition; from the time of our leaving Port
Lincoln up to the sailing of the WATERWITCH from Fowler's Bay, and of the
future plans I intended to adopt, to carry out the object of the


"SIR,--By the return of the WATERWITCH, I have the honour to furnish you,
for the information of His Excellency the Governor, with a brief account
of our proceedings up to the present date.

"Upon the return of Mr. Scott from Adelaide to Port Lincoln, I left the
latter place on the 24th October, following my former line of route along
the coast to Streaky Bay, and rejoining my party there on the 3rd

"The WATERWITCH had already arrived with the stores sent for the use of
the expedition, and I have since detained her to co-operate with my
party, in accordance with the kind permission of his Excellency the

"From previous experience, I was aware, that after leaving Streaky Bay,
we should have obstacles of no ordinary kind to contend with; and as I
advanced, I found the difficulties of the undertaking even greater than I
had anticipated; the heavy sandy nature of the country, its arid
character, the scarcity of grass, and the very dense brushes through
which we had frequently to clear a road with our axes, formed impediments
of no trifling description, and such as, when combined with the very
unfavourable season of the year, we could hardly have overcome without
the assistance of the WATERWITCH. By putting on board the cutter the
greater part of our dead weight, we relieved our jaded horses from loads
they could no longer draw; and by obtaining from her occasional supplies
of water at such points of the coast as we could procure none on shore,
we were enabled to reach Fowler's Bay on the 22nd November.

"From this point I could no longer avail myself of the valuable services
of the cutter, the wild unprotected character of the coast extending
around the Great Australian Bight, rendering it too dangerous for a
vessel to attempt to approach so fearful a shore, and where there is no
harbour or shelter of any kind to make for in case of need.

"Under these circumstances, I left my party in camp behind Point Fowler,
whilst I proceeded myself, accompanied by a native boy, to examine the
country a-head, and I now only detained the WATERWITCH, in the hopes that
by penetrating on horseback beyond the head of the Great Bight, I might
be able to give his Excellency some idea of our future prospects.

"For the last twenty-four days I have been engaged in attempting to round
the head of the Bight; but so difficult is the country, that I have not
as yet been able to accomplish it. In my first essay I was driven back by
the want of water and obliged to abandon one of my horses. This animal I
subsequently recovered.

"In my second attempt, I went, accompanied by one of my native boys, and
a man driving a dray loaded solely with water and our provisions; but
such was the dreadful nature of the country, that after penetrating to
within twelve miles of the head of the Bight, I was again obliged to
abandon three of our horses, a dray, and our provisions. The poor horses
were so exhausted by previous fatigue and privation, that they could not
return, and I was most reluctantly obliged to leave them to obtain relief
for ourselves, and the two remaining horses we had with us. After
reaching the nearest water, we made every effort to save the unfortunate
animals we had left behind; and for seven days, myself, the man, and a
boy, were incessantly and laboriously engaged almost day and night in
carrying water backwards and forwards to them--feeding them with bread,
gruel, etc. I regret to say that all our efforts were in vain, and that
the expedition has sustained a fatal and irreparable injury in the loss
of three of its best draught horses. The dray and the provisions I
subsequently recovered, and on the evening of the 15th December, I
rejoined my party behind Point Fowler, to prepare despatches for the
WATERWITCH, since the weak and unserviceable condition of nearly the
whole of our remaining horses rendered any further attempt to penetrate
so inhospitable a region quite impracticable for the present. In
traversing the country along the coast from Streaky Bay to the limits of
our present exploration, within twelve miles of the head of the Great
Bight, we have found the country of a very uniform description--low flat
lands, or a succession of sandy ridges, densely covered with a brush of
EUCALYPTUS DUMOSA, salt water tea-tree, and other shrubs--whilst here and
there appear a few isolated patches of open grassy plains, scattered at
intervals among the scrub. The surface rock is invariably an oolitic
limestone, mixed with an imperfect freestone, and in some places exhibits
fossil banks, which bear evident marks of being of a very recent

"The whole of this extent of country is totally destitute of surface
water--we have never met with a watercourse, or pool of any description,
and all the water we have obtained since we left Streaky Bay has been by
digging, generally in the large drifts of pure white sand close to the
coast. This is a work frequently of much time and labour, as from the
depth we have had to sink, and the looseness of the sand, the hole has
often filled nearly as fast as we could clear it out; the water too thus
obtained has almost always been brackish, occasionally salt. Latterly
even this resource has failed us; after digging a few feet we have been
impeded by rock, which gradually approaching nearer the surface towards
the head of the Great Bight, at last occupies its whole extent, unless
where partially concealed by sand-drifts, or low sandy ridges covered
with brush. We have seen no trees or timber of any kind of larger growth
than the scrub, nor have we met with the Casuarinae since we left Streaky

"The natives along this coast are not very numerous; those we have met
with have been timid, but friendly, and in some instances have rendered
us important assistance in guiding us through the brush, and shewing us
where to dig for water--their language appears to be a good deal similar
to that at King George's Sound. When questioned about the interior
towards the north, they invariably assert that there is no fresh water
inland; nor could we discover that they are acquainted with the existence
of a large body of water of any kind in that direction.

"Hitherto the reduced condition of my horses, the nature of the country,
and the season of the year, have effectually prevented my examining the
interior beyond a very few miles from the coast. When we have once
rounded the Bight (and I confidently hope to accomplish this), the
country may perhaps alter its character so far as to enable me to
prosecute the main object of the expedition, that of examining the
Northern Interior. Should such unfortunately not be the case, I shall
endeavour to examine the line of coast as far as practicable towards King
George's Sound, occasionally radiating inland whenever circumstances may
admit of it.

"The very severe loss the expedition has sustained in the death of four
of its best horses since leaving Adelaide in June last, added to the
unfavourable season of the year, and the embarrassing nature of the
country, have rendered it impossible for me to carry provisions for the
whole party for a length of time sufficient to enable me to prosecute the
undertaking I am engaged in with any prospect of success; whilst the wild
and fearful nature of this breaker-beaten coast wholly precludes me from
making use of the assistance and co-operation of the WATERWITCH. I have
consequently been under the necessity of reducing the strength of my
already small party, and have sent two men back in the cutter; retaining
only my overseer and one man, exclusive of Mr. Scott and two native boys.
Upon leaving the depot at Fowler's Bay, it is my intention to proceed
with only a single dray to carry our provisions, instead of (as formerly)
with two drays and a cart.

"From the reduced state of our horses, it will be absolutely necessary
for us to remain in depot five or six weeks to rest them. Such, however,
is the dry and withered state of the little grass we have, and so
destitute is it of all nutritive qualities, that I much fear that even at
the expiration of this long respite from their labours, our horses will
not have improved much in strength or condition. I have therefore
unhesitatingly taken advantage of the very kind permission of his
Excellency the Governor, to request that a supply of oats and bran may be
sent to us, should his Excellency not require the services of the
WATERWITCH for more important employment. For ourselves we require no
additional provisions, the most liberal and abundant supply we formerly
received being fully sufficient to last us for six months longer.

"I have much pleasure in recording the continued steadiness and good
conduct of my men, and I regret extremely the necessity which has
compelled me to dispense with the services of two of them before the
termination of the expedition, and after they have taken so considerable
a share in its labours.

"I have the honor to be, Sir,
"Your very obedient servant,


After the departure of the cutter, our mode of life was for some time
very monotonous, and our camp bore a gloomy and melancholy aspect; the
loss of two men from our little band, made a sad alteration in its former
cheerful character. Mr. Scott usually employed himself in shooting or
fishing; one of the native boys was always out shepherding the sheep, and
the only remaining man I had was occupied in attending to the horses, so
that there were generally left only myself, the overseer, and one native
boy at the camp, which was desolate and gloomy, as a deserted village.
The overseer was pretty well employed, in making boots for the party, in
shoeing the horses, repairing the harness, and in doing other little odd
jobs of a similar kind; the black boys took their turns in shepherding
the sheep; but I was without active employment, and felt more strongly
than any of them that relaxation of body and depression of spirits, which
inactivity ever produces.

For a time indeed, the writing up of my journals, the filling up my
charts, and superintending the arranging, packing, and burying of our
surplus stores, amused and occupied me, but as these were soon over, I
began to repine and fret at the life of indolence and inactivity. I was
doomed to suffer. Frequently required at the camp, to give directions
about, or to assist in the daily routine of duty, I did not like to
absent myself long away at once; there were no objects of interest near
me, within the limits of a day's excursion on foot, and the weak state of
the horses, prevented me from making any examinations of the country at a
greater distance on horseback; I felt like a prisoner condemned to drag
out a dull and useless existence through a given number of days or weeks,
and like him too, I sighed for freedom, and looked forward with
impatience, to the time when I might again enter upon more active and
congenial pursuits. Fatigue, privation, disappointment, disasters, and
all the various vicissitudes, incidental to a life of active exploration
had occasionally, it is true, been the source of great anxiety or
annoyance, but all were preferable to that oppressive feeling of listless
apathy, of discontent and dissatisfaction, which resulted from the life I
was now obliged to lead.

Christmas day came, and made a slight though temporary break in the daily
monotony of our life. The kindness of our friends had supplied us with
many luxuries; and we were enabled even in the wilds, to participate in
the fare of the season: whilst the season itself, and the circumstances
under which it was ushered in to us, called forth feelings and
associations connected with other scenes and with friends, who were far
away; awakening, for a time at least, a train of happier thoughts and
kindlier feelings than we had for a long time experienced.

On the 26th, I found that our horses and sheep were falling off so much
in condition, from the scarcity of grass, and its dry and sapless
quality, that it became absolutely necessary for us to remove elsewhere;
I had already had all our surplus stores and baggage headed up in casks,
or packed in cases, and carefully buried (previously covered over with a
tarpaulin and with bushes to keep them from damp), near the sand-hills,
and to-day I moved on the party for five miles to the well in the plains;
the grass here was very abundant, but still dry, and without much
nourishment; the water was plentiful, but brackish and awkward to get at,
being through a hole in a solid sheet of limestone, similar to that
behind Point Brown. Upon cleaning it out and deepening it a little, it
tasted even worse than before, but still we were thankful for it.

The geological character of the country was exactly similar to that we
had been in so long, entirely of fossil formation, with a calcareous
oolitic limestone forming the upper crusts, and though this was
occasionally concealed by sand on the surface, we always were stopped by
it in digging; it was seemingly a very recent deposit, full of marine
shells, in every stage of petrifaction. Granite we had not seen for some
time, though I have no doubt that it occasionally protrudes; a small
piece, found near an encampment of the natives, and evidently brought
there by them, clearly proved the existence of this rock at no very great
distance, probably small elevations of granite may occasionally be found
among the scrubs, similar to those we had so frequently met with in the
same character of country. Another substance found at one of the native
encampments, and more interesting to us, not having been before met with,
was a piece of pure flint, of exactly the same character as the best gun
flint. This probably had been brought from the neighbourhood of the Great
Bight, in the cliffs of which Captain Flinders imagined he saw chalk, and
where I hoped that some change in the geological formation of the country
would lead to an improvement in its general appearance and character.

The weather had been (with the exception of one or two hot days)
unusually cold and favourable for the time of year. Our horses had
enjoyed a long rest, and though the dry state of the grass had prevented
them from recovering their condition, I hoped they were stronger and in
better spirits, and determined to make one more effort to get round the
head of the Bight;--if unsuccessful this time, I knew it would be final,
as I should no longer have the means of making any future trial, for I
fully made up my mind to take all our best and strongest animals, and
either succeed in the attempt or lose all.

On the 29th, I commenced making preparations, and on the following day
left the camp, the sheep, and four horses in charge of Mr. Scott and the
youngest of the native boys, whilst I proceeded myself, accompanied by
the overseer and eldest native boy on horseback, and a man driving a dray
with three horses, to cross once more through the scrub to the westward.
We took with us three bags of flour, a number of empty casks and kegs,
and two pack-saddles, besides spades and buckets, and such other minor
articles as were likely to be required. It was late in the day when we
arrived at the plains under the sand hills; and though we had brought our
six best and strongest horses, they were greatly fagged with their day's
work. We had still to take them some distance to the water, and back
again to the grass. At the water we found traces of a great many natives
who appeared to have left only in the morning, and who could not be very
far away; none were however seen.

December 31.--We remained in camp to rest the horses, and took the
opportunity of carrying up all the water we could, every time the animals
went backwards and forwards, to a large cask which had been fixed on the
dray. The taste of the water was much worse than when we had been here
before, being both salter and more bitter; this, probably, might arise
from the well having been dug too deep, or from the tide having been
higher than usual, though I did not notice that such had been the case.
In the afternoon we buried the three bags of flour we had brought headed
up in a cask.

January 1, 1841.--This morning I went down with the men to assist in
watering the horses, and upon returning to the camp, found my black boy
familiarly seated among a party of natives who had come up during our
absence. Two of them were natives I had seen to the north-west, and had
been among the party whose presence at the plains, on the 5th of
December, when I was surrounded by so many difficulties, had proved so
annoying to us at the time, and so fatal in its consequences to our
horses. They recognised me at once, and apparently described to the other
natives, the circumstances under which they had met me, lamenting most
pathetically the death of the horses; the dead bodies of which they had
probably seen in their route to the water. Upon examining their weapons
they shewed us several that were headed with flint, telling us that they
procured it to the north-west, thus confirming my previous conjectures as
to the existence of flint in that direction. To our inquiries about
water, they still persisted that there was none inland, and that it took
them five days, from where we were, to travel to that at the head of the
Bight. No other, they said, existed in any direction near us, except a
small hole to the north-west, among some sand hills, about two miles off;
these they pointed out, and offered to go with me and shew me the place
where the water was. I accepted the offer, and proceeded to the
sand-drifts, accompanied by one of them. On our arrival he shewed me the
remains of a large deep hole that had been dug in one of the sandy flats;
but in which the water was now inaccessible, from the great quantity of
sand that had drifted in and choked it up. By forcing a spear down to a
considerable depth, the native brought it out moist, and shewed it me to
prove that he had not been deceiving me. I now returned to the camp, more
than ever disposed to credit what I had been told relative to the
interior. I had never found the natives attempt to hide from us any
waters that they knew of, on the contrary, they had always been eager and
ready to point them out, frequently accompanying us for miles, through
the heat and amongst scrub, to shew us where they were. I had, therefore,
no reason to doubt the accuracy of their statements when they informed me
that there was none inland! Many different natives, and at considerable
intervals of country apart, had all united in the same statement, and as
far as I had yet been able to examine so arid a country personally, my
own observations tended to confirm the truth of what they had told me.

In the evening several of the natives went down with the men to water the
horses, and when there drank a quantity of water that was absolutely
incredible, each man taking from three to four quarts, and this in
addition to what they got at the camp during the earlier part of the day.
Strange that a people who appear to do with so little water, when
traversing the deserts, should use it in such excess when the opportunity
of indulgence occurs to them, yet such have I frequently observed to be
the case, and especially on those occasions where they have least food.
It would seem that, accustomed generally to have the stomach distended
after meals, they endeavour to produce this effect with water, when
deprived of the opportunity of doing so with more solid substances. At
night the natives all encamped with us in the plain.

January 2.--Having watered the horses early, we left the encampment,
accompanied by some of the natives, to push once more to the north-west.
On the dray we had eighty-five gallons of water; but as we had left all
our flour, and some other articles, I hoped we should get on well. The
heavy nature of the road, however, again told severely upon the horses:
twice we had to unload the dray, and at last, after travelling only
fourteen miles, the horses could go no further; I was obliged, therefore,
to come to a halt, and decide what was best to be done. There appeared to
be a disastrous fatality attending all our movements in this wretched
region, which was quite inexplicable. Every time that we had attempted to
force a passage through it, we had been baffled and driven back. Twice I
had been obliged to abandon our horses before; and on the last of these
occasions had incurred a loss of the three best of them; now, after
giving them a long period of rest, and respite from labour, and after
taking every precaution which prudence or experience could suggest, I had
the mortification of finding that we were in the same predicament we had
been in before, and with as little prospect of accomplishing our object.
Having but little time for deliberation, I at once ordered the overseer
and man to take the horses back to the water, and give them two days rest
there, and then to rejoin us again on the third, whilst I and the native
boy would remain with the dray, until their return. The natives also
remained with us for the first night; but finding we still continued in
camp, they left on the following morning, which I was sorry for, as I
hoped one would have been induced to go with us to the Great Bight.

On the fifth of January, the overseer and man returned with the horses;
but so little had they benefited by their two days rest, that upon being
yoked up, and put to the dray, they would not move it. We were obliged,
therefore, to unload once more, and lighten the load by burying a cask of
water, and giving another to the horses. After this, we succeeded in
getting them along, with the remainder, to the undulating plains; and
here we halted for the night, after a stage of only seven miles, but one,
which, short as it was, had nearly worn out the draught horses. Here we
dug a large hole, and buried twenty-two gallons of water, for my own
horse, and that of the black boy, on our return; and as I determined to
take a man with me, with a pack-horse, nine gallons more were buried
apart from the other, for them, so that when the man got his cask of
water, he might not disturb ours, or leave traces by which the natives
could discover it.

January 6.--Sending back the dray with the overseer, at the first dawn of
day, I and the native boy proceeded to the north-west, accompanied by the
man leading a pack-horse with twelve gallons of water. The day turned out
hot, and the road was over a very heavy sandy country; but by eleven
o'clock we had accomplished a distance of seventeen miles, and had
reached the furthest point from which I turned back on the 1st December.
I walked alternately with the boy, so as not to oppress the riding
horses, but the man walked all the way.

The weather was most intensely hot, a strong wind blowing from the
north-east, throwing upon us an oppressive and scorching current of
heated air, like the hot blast of a furnace. There was no
misunderstanding the nature of the country from which such a wind came;
often as I had been annoyed by the heat, I had never experienced any
thing like it before. Had anything been wanting to confirm my previous
opinion of the arid and desert character of the great mass of the
interior of Australia, this wind would have been quite sufficient for
that purpose. From those who differ from me in opinion (and some there
are who do so whose intelligence and judgment entitle their opinion to
great respect), I would ask, could such a wind be be wafted over an
inland sea? or could it have passed over the supposed high, and perhaps
snowcapped mountains of the interior.

We were all now suffering greatly from the heat; the man who was with me
was quite exhausted: under the annoyances of the moment, his spirits
failed him, and giving way to his feelings of fatigue and thirst, he lay
rolling on the ground, and groaning in despair; all my efforts to rouse
him were for a long time in vain, and I could not even induce him to get
up to boil a little tea for himself. We had halted about eleven in the
midst of a low sandy flat, not far from the sea, thinking, that by a
careful examination, we might find a place where water could be procured
by digging. There were, however, no trees or bushes near us; and the heat
of the sun, and the glare of the sand, were so intolerable, that I was
obliged to get up the horses, and compel the man to go on a little
further to seek for shelter.

Proceeding one mile towards the sea, we came to a projecting rock upon
its shores; and as there was no hope of a better place being found, I
tied up my horses near it; the rock was not large enough to protect them
entirely from the sun, but by standing close under it, their heads and
necks were tolerably shaded. For ourselves, a recess of the rock afforded
a delightful retreat, whilst the immediate vicinity of the sea enabled us
every now and then to take a run, and plunge amidst its breakers, and
again return to the shelter of the cavern. For two or three hours we
remained in, under the protection of the rock, without clothes, and
occasionally bathing to cool ourselves. The native boy and I derived
great advantage from thus dipping in the sea, but it was a long time
before I could induce the man to follow our example, either by persuasion
or threats; his courage had failed him, and he lay moaning like a child.
At last I succeeded in getting him to strip and bathe, and he at once
found the benefit of it, becoming in a short time comparatively cool and
comfortable. We then each had a little more tea, and afterwards attempted
to dig for water among the sand-hills. The sand, however, was so loose,
that it ran in faster than we could throw it out, and we were obliged to
give up the attempt.

As the afternoon was far advanced, we saddled the horses, and pushed on
again for five miles, hoping, but in vain, to find a little grass. At
night we halted among the sandy ridges behind the seashore, and after
giving the horses four quarts of oats and a bucket of water a-piece, we
were obliged to tie them up, there not being a blade of grass anywhere
about. The wind at night changed to the south-west, and was very cold,
chilling us almost as much as the previous heat had oppressed us. These
sudden and excessive changes in temperature induce great susceptibility
in the system, and expose the traveller to frequent heats and chills that
cannot be otherwise than injurious to the constitution.

January 7.--Having concealed some water, provisions, and the pack-saddle
at the camp, I sent the man back with the pack-horse to encamp at the
undulating plains, where nine gallons of water had been left for him and
his horse, and the following day he was to rejoin the overseer at the
sand hills.

To the latter I sent a note, requesting him to send two fresh horses to
meet me at the plains on the 15th of January, for, from the weak
condition of the animals we had with us, and from the almost total
absence of grass for them, I could not but dread lest we might be obliged
to abandon them too, and in this case, if we did not succeed in finding
water, we should perhaps have great difficulty in returning ourselves.

As soon as the man was gone, we once more moved on to the north-west,
through the same barren region of heavy sandy ridges, entirely destitute
of grass or timber. After travelling through this for ten miles, we came
upon a native pathway, and following it under the hummocks of the coast
for eight miles, lost it at some bare sand-drifts, close to the head of
the Great Bight, where we had at last arrived, after our many former
ineffectual attempts.

Following the general direction the native pathway had taken, we ascended
the sand-drifts, and finding the recent tracks of natives, we followed
them from one sand-hill to another, until we suddenly came upon four
persons encamped by a hole dug for water in the sand. We had so
completely taken them by surprise, that they were a good deal alarmed,
and seizing their spears, assumed an offensive attitude. Finding that we
did not wish to injure them, they became friendly in their manner, and
offered us some fruit, of which they had a few quarts on a piece of bark.
This fruit grows upon a low brambly-looking bush, upon the sand-hills or
in the flats, where the soil is of a saline nature. It is found also in
the plains bordering upon the lower parts of the Murrumbidgee, but in
much greater abundance along the whole line of coast to the westward. The
berry is oblong, about the shape and size of an English sloe, is very
pulpy and juicy, and has a small pyramidal stone in the centre, which is
very hard and somewhat indented. When ripe it is a dark purple, a clear
red, or a bright yellow, for there are varieties. The purple is the best
flavoured, but all are somewhat saline in taste. To the natives these
berries are an important article of food at this season of the year, and
to obtain them and the fruit of the mesembryanthemum, they go to a great
distance, and far away from water. In eating the berries, the natives
make use of them whole, never taking the trouble to get rid of the
stones, nor do they seem to experience any ill results from so doing.

Having unsaddled the horses, we set to work to dig holes to water them;
the sand, however, was very loose, and hindered us greatly. The natives,
who were sitting at no great distance, observed the difficulty under
which we were labouring, and one of them who appeared the most
influential among them, said something to two of the others, upon which
they got up and came towards us, making signs to us to get out of the
hole, and let them in; having done so, one of them jumped in, and dug, in
an incredibly short time, a deep narrow hole with his hands; then sitting
so as to prevent the sand running in, he ladled out the water with a pint
pot, emptying it into our bucket, which was held by the other native. As
our horses drank a great deal, and the position of the man in the hole
was a very cramped one, the two natives kept changing places with each
other, until we had got all the water we required.

In this instance we were indebted solely to the good nature and kindness
of these children of the wilds for the means of watering our horses:
unsolicited they had offered us their aid, without which we never could
have accomplished our purpose. Having given the principal native a knife
as a reward for the assistance afforded us, we offered the others a
portion of our food, being the only way in which we could shew our
gratitude to them; they seemed pleased with this attention, and though
they could not value the gift, they appeared to appreciate the motives
which induced it.

Having rested for a time, and enjoyed a little tea, we inquired of the
natives for grass for our horses, as there was none to be seen anywhere.
They told us that there was none at all where we were, but they would
take us to some further along the coast, where we could also procure
water, without difficulty, as the sand was firm and hard, and the water
at no great depth. Guided by our new friends, we crossed the sand-hills
to the beach, and following round the head of the Great Bight for five
miles, we arrived at some more high drifts of white sand; turning in
among these, they took us to a flat where some small holes were dug in
the sand, which was hard and firm; none of them were two feet deep, and
the water was excellent and abundant: the name of the place was

Whilst I was employed in digging a large square hole, to enable us to dip
the bucket when watering the horses, the native boy went, accompanied by
one of the natives as a guide, to look for grass. Upon his return, he
said he had been taken to a small plain about a mile away, behind the
sand hills, where there was plenty of grass, though of a dry character;
to this we sent the horses for the night. In returning, a few sea fowl
were shot as a present for our friends, with whom we encamped, gratified
that we had at last surmounted the difficulty of rounding the Great
Bight, and that once more we had a point where grass and water could be
procured, and from which we might again make another push still further
to the westward.

In the evening, we made many inquiries of the natives, as to the nature
of the country inland, the existence of timber, rocks, water, etc. and
though we were far from being able to understand all that they said, or
to acquire half the information that they wished to convey to us, we
still comprehended them sufficiently to gather many useful and important
particulars. In the interior, they assured us, most positively, there was
no water, either fresh or salt, nor anything like a sea or lake of any

They did not misunderstand us, nor did we misapprehend them upon this
point, for to our repeated inquiries for salt water, they invariably
pointed to a salt lake, some distance behind the sand-hills, as the only
one they knew of, and which at this time we had not seen.

With respect to hills or timber, they said, that neither existed inland,
but that further along the coast to the westward, we should find trees of
a larger growth, and among the branches of which lived a large animal,
which by their description, I readily recognized as being the Sloth of
New South Wales; an animal whose habits exactly agreed with their
description, and which I knew to be an inhabitant of a barren country,
where the scrub was of a larger growth than ordinary. One of the natives
had a belt round his waist, made of the fur of the animal they described,
and on inspecting it, the colour and length of the hair bore out my
previous impression.

The next water along the coast we were informed, was ten days journey
from Yeerkumban kauwe, and was situated among sand-drifts, similar to
those we were at, but beyond the termination of the line of cliffs,
extending westward from the head of the Bight, and which were distinctly
visible from the shore near our camp. These cliffs they called,
"Bundah," and at two days' journey from their commencement, they
told us were procured the specimens of flints (Jula) we had seen
upon their weapons, and of which one or two small pieces had been picked
up by us among the sand-drifts, having probably been dropped there by the

January 8.--To-day we remained in camp to recruit the horses, and the
natives remained with us; soon after breakfast one of them lit a signal
fire upon a sand-hill, and not long afterwards we were joined by three
more of the tribe, but the women kept out of sight. I now sent the native
boy out with one to shoot birds for them, but he came back with only a
single crow, and I was obliged to go myself, to try whether I could not
succeed better. Being lucky enough to procure four, I gave them to the
natives, and returning to the camp we all dined, and afterwards lay down
to rest for an hour.

Upon getting up, I missed a knife I had been using, and which had been
lying beside me. One of the strange natives who had come to the camp this
morning, had been sitting near me, and I at once suspected him to be the
thief, but he was now gone, and I had no prospect of recovering the lost
article. In the afternoon, the stranger came up to the camp again, and I
at once taxed him with the theft; this he vehemently denied, telling me
it was lost in the sand, and pretending to look anxiously for it; he
appeared, however, restless and uneasy, and soon after taking up his
spears went away with two others. My own native boy happened to be coming
over the sand-hills at the time, but unobserved by them, and as they
crossed the ridge he saw the man I had accused stop to pick something up,
and immediately called out to me; upon this I took my gun, and ascending
the hill, saw the native throw down the knife, which my own boy then
picked up; the other natives had now come up, and seemed very anxious to
prevent any hostilities, and to the chief of those who had been so
friendly with us, I explained as well as I could the nature of the
misunderstanding, and requested him to order the dishonest native away,
upon which he spoke to them in his own language, and all took up their
spears and went away, except himself and one other. These two men
remained with us until dark, but as the evening appeared likely to be
wet, they left us also, when we lay down for the night.

January 9.--The morning set in cold, dark and rainy, and as much wet had
fallen during the night, we had been thoroughly drenched through, our
fire had been extinguished, and it was long before we could get it lit
again, and even then we could hardly keep it in; the few bushes among the
sand hills were generally small, and being for the most part green as
well as wet, it required our utmost efforts to prevent the fire from
going out; so far indeed were we from being either cheered or warmed by
the few sparks we were able to keep together, that the chill and
comfortless aspect of its feeble rays, made us only shiver the more, as
the rain fell coldly and heavily upon our already saturated garments.
About noon the weather cleared up a little, and after getting up and
watering the horses, we collected a large quantity of firewood and made
waterproof huts for ourselves. The rain, however, was over, and we no
longer required them.

Chapter XIV.


January 10.--WE left Yeer-kumban-kauwe early, and proceeding to the
westward, passed through an open level tract of country, of from three to
four hundred feet in elevation, and terminating seawards abruptly, in
bold and overhanging cliffs, which had been remarked by Captain Flinders,
but which upon our nearer approach, presented nothing very remarkable in
appearance, being only the sudden termination of a perfectly level
country, with its outer face washed, steep and precipitous, by the
unceasing lash of the southern ocean. The upper surface of this country,
like that of all we had passed through lately, consisted of a calcareous
oolitic limestone, below which was a hard concrete substance of sand or
of reddish soil, mixed with shells and pebbles; below this again, the
principal portion of the cliff consisted of a very hard and coarse grey
limestone, and under this a narrow belt of a whitish or cream-coloured
substance, lying in horizontal strata; but what this was we could not yet
determine, being unable to get down to it any where. The cliffs were
frightfully undermined in many places, enormous masses lay dissevered
from the main land by deep fissures, and appearing to require but a touch
to plunge them headlong into the abyss below. Back from the sea, the
country was level, tolerably open, and covered with salsolae, or low,
prickly shrubs, with here and there belts of the eucalyptus dumosa. In
places two or three miles back from the coast there was a great deal of
grass, that at a better season of the year would have been valuable; now
it was dry and sapless. No timber was visible any where, nor the
slightest rise of any kind. The whole of this level region, elevated as
it was above the sea, was completely coated over with small fresh water
spiral shells, of two different kinds.

After travelling about twenty-five miles along the cliffs, we came all at
once to innumerable pieces of beautiful flint, lying on the surface,
about two hundred yards inland. This was the place at which the natives
had told us they procured the flint; but how it attained so elevated a
position, or by what means it became scattered over the surface in such
great quantities in that particular place, could only be a matter of
conjecture. There was no change whatever in the character or appearance
of the country, or of the cliffs, and the latter were as steep and
impracticable as ever.

Five miles beyond the flint district we turned a little inland and halted
for the night upon a patch of withered grass. During the day we had been
fortunate enough to find a puddle of water in a hollow of the rock left
by yesterday's rain, at which we watered the horses, and then lading out
the remainder into our bucket carefully covered it up with a stone slab
until our return, as I well knew, if exposed to the sun and wind, there
would not be a drop left in a very few hours. Kangaroos had been seen in
great numbers during the day, but we had not been able to get a shot at
one. Our provisions were now nearly exhausted, and for some days we had
been upon very reduced allowances, so that it was not without some degree
of chagrin that we saw so many fine animals bounding unscathed around us.

January 11.--Having travelled fifteen miles further along the cliffs, I
found them still continue unchanged, with the same level uninteresting
country behind. I had now accomplished all that I expected to do on this
excursion, by ascertaining the character of the country around the Great
Bight; and as our horses were too weak to attempt to push beyond the
cliffs to the next water, and as we ourselves were without provisions, I
turned homewards, and by making a late and forced march, arrived at the
place where we had left the bucket of water, after a day's ride of
forty-five miles. Our precaution as we had gone out proved of inestimable
value to us now. The bucket of water was full and uninjured, and we were
enabled thus to give our horses a gallon and a half each, and allow them
to feed upon the withered grass instead of tying them up to bushes, which
we must have done if we had had no water.

January 12.--In our route back to "Yeer-kumban-kauwe" we were lucky
enough to add to our fare a rat and a bandicoot, we might also have had a
large brown snake, but neither the boy nor I felt inclined to
experimentalise upon so uninviting an article of food; after all it was
probably mere prejudice, and the animal might have been as good eating as
an eel. We arrived at the water about noon, and the remainder of the day
afforded a grateful rest both to ourselves and to the horses.

January 13.--Our fire had gone out during the night, and all our matches
being wet, we could not relight it until noon, when the rays of a hot sun
had dried them again. Having eaten our slender dinner, I walked out to
water the horses, leaving the boy in charge of the camp. Upon my return I
found him comfortably seated between two of our friends the natives, who
had just returned from a hunting excursion, bringing with them the half
roasted carcass of a very fine kangaroo. They had already bestowed upon
the boy two very large pieces, and as soon as I made my appearance they
were equally liberal to me, getting up the moment I arrived at the camp,
and bringing it over to me of their own accord. The supply was a most
acceptable one, and we felt very grateful for it. Having received as much
of the kangaroo as would fully last for two days, I gave a knife in
return to the eldest of the men, with which he seemed highly delighted. I
would gladly have given one to the other also, but I had only one left,
and could not spare it. The natives remained in camp with us for the
night, and seemed a good deal surprised when they saw us re-roasting the
kangaroo; frequently intimating to us that it had already been cooked,
and evidently pitying the want of taste which prevented us from
appreciating their skill in the culinary art.

January 14.--Upon our leaving this morning the natives buried in the sand
the remains of their kangaroo, and accompanied us a mile or two on our
road, then turning in among the sand-hills they returned to renew their
feast. They had been eating almost incessantly ever since they arrived at
the water yesterday, and during the night they had repeatedly got up for
the same purpose. The appetites of these people know no restraint when
they have the means of gratifying them; they have no idea of temperance
or prudence, and are equally regardless of the evil resulting from excess
as they are improvident in preparing for the necessities of the
morrow--"sufficient (literally so to them) for the day is the evil

In our route to-day instead of following round the sea-shore, we struck
across behind the sand-hills, from "Yeerkumban-kauwe" to the water we had
first found on the 7th of January, and in doing so we passed along a
large but shallow salt-water lake, which the natives had pointed to on
the evening of the 7th, when I made inquiries relative to the existence
of salt water inland. The margin of this lake was soft and boggy, and we
were nearly losing one of our horses which sank unexpectedly in the mud.
About noon we arrived at the camp, from which I had sent the man back on
the 6th, and having picked up the water and other things left there,
proceeded to the sand-hills near which we had halted during the intense
heat of that day. We now rested for several hours, and again moved
onwards about eleven at night to avoid the great heat of the day whilst
crossing the sandy country before us.

January 15.--At sunrise we arrived at the undulating plains, where twenty
gallons of water had been left buried for us. Here I found the overseer
with two fresh horses, according to the instructions I had sent him on
the 6th, by the man who returned. After resting for an hour or two, I set
off with the native boy upon the fresh horses, and rode to the water at
the sand-drifts, leaving the overseer to bring on the tired animals the
next day. It was nearly dark when we arrived at the plain under the
sand-hills, and very late before we had watered the horses and brought
them back to the grass.

January 16.--After breakfast, in returning from the water, we had a feast
upon some berries, growing on the briary bushes behind the sand-hills;
they were similar to those the natives had offered to us, at the head of
the Bight, on the 7th, were very abundant, and just becoming ripe. About
eight o'clock we set off for the depot, and arrived there at two, glad to
reach our temporary home once more, after eighteen days absence, and
heartily welcomed by Mr. Scott, who complained bitterly of having been
left alone so long. Under the circumstances of the case, however, it had
been quite unavoidable. Upon tasting the water at the well, I found, that
from so much having been taken out, it had now become so very brackish,
that it was scarcely usable, and I decided upon returning again to
Fowler's Bay, where the water was good, as soon as the overseer came

January 17.--Spent the day in writing, and in meditating upon my future
plans and prospects. I had now been forty-five miles beyond the head of
the Great Bight, that point to which I had looked with interest and hope;
now, I had ascertained that no improvement took place there, in the
appearance or character of the country, but, if any thing, that it became
less inviting, and more arid. The account of the natives fully satisfied
me that there was no possibility of getting inland, and my own experience
told me that I could never hope to take a loaded dray through the
dreadful country I had already traversed on horseback. What then was I to
do? or how proceed for the future? The following brief abstract of the
labours of the party, and the work performed by the horses in the three
attempts made to get round the head of the Great Bight, may perhaps seem
incredible to those who know nothing of the difficulty of forcing a
passage through such a country as we were in, and amidst all the
disadvantages we were under, from the season of the year and other causes.


Names.             Distances ridden.   No. of days employed.
Mr Eyre                643 miles               40
Mr. Scott               50 miles                4
The Overseer           230 miles               22
Costelow                                       22
Houston                                        12
Corporal Coles                                  8
Eldest native boy      270 miles               19
Youngest native boy    395 miles               23

A dray loaded with water was drawn backwards and forwards 238 miles; many
of the horses, in addition to the distances they were ridden, or worked
in the dray, were driven loose, in going or returning, for about eighty
miles. Most of the party walked considerable distances in addition to
those ridden. All the party were engaged, more or less, in connection
with the three attempts to round the Bight, as were also all the horses,
and of the latter, three perished from over fatigue and want of water.
Yet, after all, the distance examined did not exceed 135 miles, and might
have been done easily in ten days, and without any loss, had the
situation of the watering places, or the nature of the country, been
previously known.

None but a person who has been similarly circumstanced, can at all
conceive the incessant toil and harassing anxiety of the explorer; when
baffled and defeated, he has to traverse over and over again the same
dreary wastes, gaining but a few miles of ground at each fresh attempt,
whilst each renewal of the effort but exhausts still more the strength
and condition of his animals, or the energy and spirits of his men.

Upon maturely considering our circumstances and position, I decided to
attempt to force a passage round the Great Bight, with pack-horses only,
sending, upon the return of the cutter, all our heavy stores and drays in
her to Cape Arid, if I found, upon her arrival, the instructions I might
receive, would justify me in taking her so far beyond the boundaries of
South Australia. This was the only plan that appeared to me at all
feasible, and I determined to adopt it as soon as our horses were
sufficiently recruited to commence their labours again.

On the 18th, the overseer returned with the two jaded horses we had used
on our last excursion, looking very wretched and weak. The day was
intensely hot, with the wind due north: the thermometer in the shade, in
a well lined tent, being 105 degrees at 11 A.M.--a strong corroboration,
if such were required, of the statement of the natives, that there was no
large body of inland water. At 2, P.M. the wind changed to west, and the
thermometer suddenly fell to 95 degrees; a little afterwards, it veered
to south-west, and again fell to 80 degrees; the afternoon then became
comparatively cool and pleasant.

The quality of the water at the well, was now beginning to affect the
health of the whole party; and on the 19th and 20th I put into execution
my resolution of removing to Fowler's Bay, where we again enjoyed the
luxury of good water. Upon digging up the things we had left buried, we
found them perfectly dry. On the 21st, I sent Mr. Scott down to the bay,
to see if the cutter had come back, but she had not. On his return, he
brought up a few fish he had caught, which, added to ten pigeons, shot by
himself and the native boys, at the sand-hills, gave a little variety to
our fare; indeed, for several days, after taking up our old position at
Point Fowler, we were well supplied both with fish and pigeons.

Time passed gradually away until the evening of the 25th, when a party of
natives once more came up, and took up their abode near us--three were of
those who had accompanied us all the way from Denial Bay, and some others
had also been with us before. On the 26th, I went down myself to Fowler's
Bay to look out for the cutter, which we now daily expected. Just as I
arrived at the beach she came rounding into the bay, and Mr. Scott and
myself got into our little boat, and pulled off to her, though with great
difficulty, the wind blowing very fresh and dead against us, with the sea
running high. We had three miles to go, and for a long time it was very
doubtful whether we should succeed in reaching the vessel; our utmost
efforts appearing barely to enable us to keep our ground. I was myself,
at the best, not very skilful in using an oar, and neither of us had had
much practice in pulling in a heavy sea. However, we got on board after a
good deal of fatigue, and were rewarded by receiving many letters, both
English and Colonial. I found that in returning to Adelaide the
Water-witch had proved so leaky as to be deemed unsafe for further
service on so wild a coast, and that the Governor had, in consequence,
with the promptness and consideration which so eminently distinguished
him, chartered the "HERO," a fine cutter, a little larger than the
WATERWITCH, and placing her under the command of Mr. Germain, had sent
him to our assistance. On board the HERO I was pleased to find the native
from King George's Sound, named Wylie, whom I had sent for, and who was
almost wild with delight at meeting us, having been much disappointed at
being out of the way when I sent for him from Port Lincoln.

After receiving our despatches, and taking Wylie with us, we set sail for
the shore, and then walked up in the evening to our depot; my other two
native boys were greatly rejoiced to find their old friend once more with
them; they had much to tell to, and much to hear from each other, and all
sat up to a late hour. For myself, the many letters I had received, gave
me ample enjoyment and occupation for the night, whilst the large pile of
newspapers from Adelaide, Swan River, and Sydney, promised a fund of
interest for some time to come. Nothing could exceed the kindness and
attention of our friends in Adelaide, who had literally inundated us with
presents of every kind, each appearing to vie with the other in their
endeavours to console us under our disappointments, to cheer us in our
future efforts, and if possible, to make us almost forget that we were in
the wilds. Among other presents I received a fine and valuable
kangaroo-dog from my friend, Captain Sturt, and which had fortunately
arrived safely, and in excellent condition.

The bran and oats which I had applied for had been most liberally
provided, so that by remaining in depot for a few weeks longer, we might
again hope to get our horses into good condition. From his Excellency the
Governor I received a kind and friendly letter, acquainting me that the
HERO was entirely at my disposal within the limits of South Australia,
but that being under charter I could not take her to Cape Arid, or beyond
the boundaries of the province, and requesting, that if I desired further
aid, or to be met any where, at a future time, that I would communicate
with the Government to that effect by the HERO'S return. The whole tenor
of his Excellency's letter evinced a degree of consideration and kindness
that I could hardly have expected amidst the many anxious duties and
onerous responsibilities devolving upon him at this time; and if any
thing could have added to the feelings of gratitude and respect I
entertained towards him, it would be the knowledge, that with the
disinterested generosity of a noble mind, he was giving up a portion of
his valuable time and attention to our plans, our wants, and our safety,
at a time when the circumstances of the colony over which he presided had
beset his own path with many difficulties, and when every day but added
to the annoyances and embarrassments which a sudden reaction in the
progress and prospects of the province necessarily produced.

In the instructions I received relative to the cutter, I have mentioned
that I was restricted to employing her within the limits of the colony of
South Australia, and thus, the plan I had formed of sending our drays and
heavy stores in her to Cape Arid, whilst we proceeded overland ourselves
with pack-horses, was completely overturned, and it became now a matter
of very serious consideration to decide what I should do under the
circumstances. It was impossible for me to take my whole party and the
drays overland through the dreadful country verging upon the Great Bight;
whilst if I took the party, and left the drays, it was equally hopeless
that I could carry upon pack-horses a sufficiency of provisions to last
us to King George's Sound. There remained, then, but two alternatives,
either to break through the instructions I had received with regard to
the HERO, or to reduce my party still further, and attempt to force a
passage almost alone. The first I did not, for many reasons, think myself
justified in doing--the second, therefore, became my DERNIER RESORT, and
I reluctantly decided upon adopting it.

It now became my duty to determine without delay who were to be my
companions in the perilous attempt before me. The first and most painful
necessity impressed upon me by the step I contemplated, was that of
parting with my young friend, Mr. Scott, who had been with me from the
commencement of the undertaking, and who had always been zealous and
active in promoting its interests as far as lay in his power. I knew
that, on an occasion like this, the spirit and enterprise of his
character would prompt in him a wish to remain and share the difficulties
and dangers to which I might be exposed: but I felt that I ought not to
allow him to do so; I had no right to lead a young enthusiastic friend
into a peril from which escape seemed to be all but hopeless; and painful
as it would be to us both to separate under such circumstances, there was
now no other alternative; the path of duty was plain and imperative, and
I was bound to follow it.

On the 28th, I took the opportunity, whilst walking down to the beach
with Mr. Scott, of explaining the circumstances in which I was placed,
and the decision to which I had been forced. He was much affected at the
intelligence, and would fain have remained to share with me the result of
the expedition, whatever that might be; but I dared not consent to it.

The only man left, belonging to the party, was the one who had
accompanied me towards the head of the Great Bight, and suffered so much
from the heat on the 6th January. His experience on that occasion of the
nature of the country, and the climate we were advancing into, had, in a
great measure, damped his ardour for exploring; so that when told that
the expedition, as far as he was concerned, had terminated, and that he
would have to go back to Adelaide with Mr. Scott, he did not express any
regret. I had ever found him a useful and obedient man, and with the
exception of his losing courage under the heat, upon the occasion alluded
to, he had been a hardy and industrious man, and capable of enduring much

The native boys I intended to accompany me in my journey, as they would
be better able to put up with the fatigues and privations we should have
to go through, than Europeans; whilst their quickness of sight, habit of
observation, and skill in tracking, might occasionally be of essential
service to me. The native who had lately joined me from Adelaide, and
whose country was around King George's Sound, would, I hoped, be able to
interpret to any tribes we might meet with, as it appeared to me that
some of the words we had heard in use among the natives of this part of
the coast were very similar to some I had heard among the natives of King
George's Sound. Three natives, however, were more than I required, and I
would gladly have sent the youngest of them back to Adelaide, but he had
been with me several years, and I did not like to send him away whilst he
was willing to remain; besides, he was so young and so light in weight,
that if we were able to get on at all, his presence could cause but
little extra difficulty. I therefore decided upon taking him also.

There remained now only the overseer; a man who had been in my service
for many years, and whose energy, activity, and many useful qualities,
had made him an invaluable servant to me at all times; whilst his
courage, prudence, good conduct, and fidelity, made me very desirous to
have him with me in this last effort to cross to the westward. Having
sent for him, I explained to him most fully the circumstances in which I
was placed, the utter impossibility of taking on the whole party through
so inhospitable a region as that before us, my own firm determination
never to return unsuccessful, but either to accomplish the object I had
in view, or perish in the attempt. I pointed out to him that there were
still eight hundred and fifty miles of an unknown country yet to be
traversed and explored; that, in all probability, this would consist
principally, if not wholly, of an all but impracticable desert. I
reminded him of the fatigues, difficulties, and losses we had already
experienced in attempting to reconnoitre the country only as far as the
head of the Great Bight; and stated to him my own conviction, that from
the knowledge and experience we had already acquired of the nature of the
country; the journey before us must of necessity be a long and harassing
one--one of unceasing toil, privation, and anxiety, whilst, from the
smallness of our party, the probable want of water, and other causes, it
would be one, also, of more than ordinary risk and danger. I then left
him to determine whether he would return to Adelaide, in the cutter, or
remain and accompany me. His reply was, that although he had become tired
of remaining so long away in the wilds, and should be glad when the
expedition had terminated, yet he would willingly remain with me to the
last; and would accompany me to the westward at every hazard.

Our future movements being now arranged, and the division of the party
decided upon, it remained only for me to put my plans into execution. The
prospect of the approaching separation, had cast a gloom over the whole
party, and now that all was finally determined, I felt that the sooner it
was over the better. I lost no time, therefore, in getting up all the
bran and oats from the cutter, and in putting on board of her our drays,
and such stores as we did not require, directing the master to hold
himself in readiness to return to Adelaide immediately.

By the 31st January, every thing was ready; my farewell letters were
written to the kind friends in Adelaide, to whom I owed so much; and my
final report to the Chairman of the Committee, for promoting the
expedition--that expedition being now brought to a close, and its members

In the evening the man and Mr. Scott went on board the cutter, taking
with them our three kangaroo dogs, which the arid nature of the country
rendered it impossible for me to keep. I regretted exceedingly being
compelled to part with the dogs, but it would have been certain
destruction to them to have attempted to take them with me.

The following is a copy of my final report to the Chairman of the
Northern Expedition Committee:--

"Fowler's Bay, 30th Jan., 1841.

"Sir,--By the return of the HERO from Fowler's Bay, I have the honour to
acquaint you, for the information of his Excellency the Governor, and the
colonists interested, with the unsuccessful termination of the expedition
placed under my command, for the purpose of exploring the northern
interior. Since my last report to his Excellency the Governor, containing
an account of two most disastrous attempts to head the Great Australian
Bight, I have, accompanied by one of my native boys, made a third and
more successful one. On this occasion, I with some difficulty advanced
about fifty miles beyond the head of the Great Bight, along the line of
high cliffs described by Flinders, and which have hitherto been supposed
to be composed principally of chalk. I found the country between the head
of Fowler's Bay and the head of the Great Bight to consist of a
succession of sandy ridges, all of which were more or less covered by a
low scrub, and without either grass or water for the last sixty miles.
This tract is of so uneven and heavy a nature that it would be quite
impossible for me to take a loaded dray across it at this very
unfavourable season of the year, and with horses so spiritless and jaded
as ours have become, from the incessant and laborious work they have gone
through during the last seven months. Upon rounding the head of the
Bight, I met with a few friendly natives, who shewed me where both grass
and water was to be procured, at the same time assuring me that there was
no more along the coast for ten of their days' journeys, (probably 100
miles) or where the first break takes place in the long and continuous
line of cliffs which extend so far to the westward of the head of the
Great Bight. Upon reaching these cliffs I felt much disappointed, as I
had long looked forward to some considerable and important change in the
character of the country. There was, however, nothing very remarkable in
their appearance, nor did the features of the country around undergo any
material change. The cliffs themselves struck me as merely exhibiting the
precipitous banks of an almost level country of moderate elevation (three
or four hundred feet) which the violent lash of the whole of the Southern
Ocean was always acting upon and undermining. Their rock formation
consisted of various strata, the upper crust or surface being an oolitic
limestone; below this is an indented concrete mixture of sand, soil,
small pebbles, and shells; beneath this appear immense masses of a coarse
greyish limestone, of which by far the greater portion of the cliffs are
composed; and immediately below these again is a narrow stripe of a
whitish, or rather a cream-coloured substance, lying in horizontal
strata, but which the impracticable nature of the cliffs did not permit
me to examine. After riding for forty-five miles along their summits, I
was in no instance able to descend; their brinks were perfectly steep and
overhanging, and in many places enormous masses appeared severed by deep
cracks from the main land, and requiring but a slight touch to plunge
them into the abyss below. As far as I have yet been along these cliffs,
I have seen nothing in their appearance to lead me to suppose that any
portion of them is composed of chalk. Immediately along their summits,
and for a few hundred yards back, very numerous pieces of pure flint are
lying loosely scattered upon the surface of the limestone. How they
obtained so elevated a position, or whence they are from, may admit,
perhaps, of some speculation. Back from the sea, and as far as the eye
could reach, the country was level and generally open, with some low
prickly bushes and salsolaceous plants growing upon it; here and there
patches of the gum scrub shewed themselves, and among which a few small
grassy openings were interspersed. The whole of this tract was thickly
covered by small land shells, about the size of snail shells--and some of
them somewhat resembling those in shape. There were no sudden depressions
or abrupt elevations anywhere; neither hills, trees, or water were to be
observed; nor was there the least indication of improvement or change in
the general character of this desolate and forbidding region. The natives
we met with at the head of the Bight were very friendly, and readily
afforded us every information we required--as far as we could make them
comprehend our wishes.

"We most distinctly understood from them, that there was no water along
the coast, westerly, for ten of their days' journeys; and that inland,
there was neither fresh nor salt water, hills or timber, as far as they
had ever been; an account which but too well agreed with the opinion I
had myself formed, upon ascertaining that the same dreary, barren region
I had been traversing so long, still continued at a point where I had
ever looked forward to some great and important change taking place in
the features of the country, and from which I had hoped I might
eventually have accomplished the object for which the expedition was
fitted out. Such, however, was not the case; there was not any
improvement in the appearance of the country, or the least indication
that there might be a change for the better, within any practicable
distance. I had already examined the tract of country from the longitude
of Adelaide, to the parallel of almost 130 degrees E. longitude; an
extent comprising nearly 8 1/2 degrees of longitude; without my having
found a single point from which it was possible to penetrate for into the
interior; and I now find myself in circumstances of so embarrassing and
hopeless a character, that I have most reluctantly been compelled to give
up all further idea of contending with obstacles which there is no
reasonable hope of ever overcoming. I have now, therefore, with much
regret completely broken up my small but devoted party. Two of my men
returned to Adelaide in the WATERWITCH, five weeks ago.

"Mr. Scott and another of my men proceed on Monday in the HERO; whilst
myself, my native boys, and the overseer (who has chosen to accompany me)
proceed hence overland to King George's Sound, as soon as our horses are
a little recruited by the abundant supply of forage we received by the

"In this undertaking, my young friend Mr. Scott--with his usual spirit
and perseverance--was most anxious to have joined me; but painful as it
has been to refuse, I have felt it my duty, from the nature of the
service, not to comply with his request. It now only remains for me to
return my most sincere thanks to the many friends to whose kindness I
have been so much indebted during the continuance of this long and
anxious undertaking. To his Excellency the Governor I feel that I can
never be sufficiently grateful for the very kind, prompt, and liberal
support and encouragement which I have invariably experienced, and to
which I have been mainly indebted for the means of accomplishing even the
little I have done. To yourself, as chairman, the committee, and the
colonists, by whom the expedition was fitted out, I return my most
sincere acknowledgments for the very great honour done me in appointing
me to the command of an undertaking at once so interesting and
important--for the liberal and kind way in which I have been supported,
and my wishes complied with; and, above all, for the flattering and
encouraging confidence expressed in my abilities and perseverance. To a
conviction of the existence of this confidence in the minds of those by
whom I was appointed, I feel that I owe much of the stimulus that has
sustained and encouraged me under difficulties and disappointments of no
ordinary kind. Deeply as I lament the unsuccessful and unsatisfactory
result of an undertaking from which so much was expected, I have the
cheering consciousness of having endeavoured faithfully to discharge the
trust confided to me; and although from a concurrence of most unfortunate
circumstances which no human prudence could foresee or guard against, and
which the most untiring perseverance has been unable to surmount, I have
not succeeded in effecting the great objects for which this expedition
was fitted out, I would fain hope that our labours have not been
altogether in vain, but that hereafter, some future and more fortunate
traveller, judging from the considerable extent of country we have
examined, and the features it has developed, may, by knowing where the
interior is not practicable, be directed to where it is.

"In concluding my report of our endeavours to penetrate the northern
interior, I beg to express to all who have been connected with the
expedition, my sincere thanks for their zeal and good conduct. In my
young friend, Mr. Scott, I have had a cheerful companion and useful
assistant; whilst in my overseer and men, I have met with a most
praiseworthy readiness and steadiness of conduct, under circumstances and
disappointments that have at once been trying and disheartening.

"I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant,


"The Chairman of the Committee for promoting the Northern Expedition."

We were now alone, myself, my overseer, and three native boys, with a
fearful task before us, the bridge was broken down behind us, and we must
succeed in reaching King George's Sound, or perish; no middle course
remained. It was impossible for us to be insensible to the isolated and
hazardous position we were in; but this very feeling only nerved and
stimulated us the more in our exertions, to accomplish the duty we had
engaged in; the result we humbly left to that Almighty Being who had
guided and guarded us hitherto, amidst all our difficulties, and in all
our wanderings, and who, whatever he might ordain, would undoubtedly
order every thing for the best.

Our time was now entirely taken up, in the daily routine of the camp,
attending to the sheep and horses, and in making preparations for our
journey. We had a large supply of corn and bran sent for our horses, and
as long as any of this remained, I determined to continue in depot.

In the mean time, the overseer was thoroughly occupied in preparing
pack-saddles, (all of which we had to make) extra bridles, new hobbles,
and in shoeing all the horses. I undertook the duty of new stuffing and
repairing the various saddles, making what extra clothes were required
for myself and the native boys for our journey; weighing out and packing
in small linen bags, all the rations of tea, sugar, etc. which would be
required weekly, preparing strong canvas saddle-bags, making light
oilskins to protect our things from the wet, etc. etc. These many necessary
and important preparations kept us all very busy, and the time passed
rapidly away. On one occasion, I attempted with one of my native boys, to
explore the country due north of Fowler's Bay, but the weather turned out
unfavourable, the wind being from the north-east, and scorchingly hot; I
succeeded, however, in penetrating fully twenty miles in the direction I
had taken, the first ten of which was through a dense heavy scrub, of the
Eucalyptus dumosa, or the tea-tree. Emerging from this, we entered an
open pretty looking country, consisting of grassy plains of great extent,
divided by belts of shrubs and bush; as we advanced the shrubs became
less numerous, the country more open, and salsolaceous plants began to
occupy the place of the grass. Had we been able to continue our
exploration for another day's journey, I have no doubt, from the change
which appeared gradually to be taking place as we advanced north, that
the whole country around would have been one vast level open waste,
without bush or shrub of any kind, and covered by salsolae. I felt
strongly convinced, we were gradually approaching a similar kind of
country to that I had been in between Lake Torrens and Flinders range;
the only difference was that as far as we had yet gone from Fowler's Bay,
the elevation of the country did not appear to have been diminished; its
average height above the level of the sea, I judged to be about 300 feet,
and forming doubtless a continuation of the table land, I had found
existing at the head of the Great Bight. The weather, however, was as
unfavourable as the country, for such researches, at this season of the
year, and the horses I had taken out with me suffered a good deal, even
in the short space of two days, during which I was engaged in this

On some occasions the thermometer was 113 degrees in the shade, and
whenever the wind was from the north-east, it was hot and oppressive
beyond all conception. The natives, though occasionally seen, generally
kept away from us during the time we were in depot. One old man alone
(called Mumma) came up to our camp, and remained with us for
several days; he was one of the few who had accompanied us so far from
the neighbourhood of Denial Bay, and seemed to have taken a great fancy
to us. We now endeavoured to reward him for his former services, by
giving him a red shirt, a blanket, and a tomahawk, and whenever we got
our meals he joined us, eating and drinking readily any thing we gave
him--tea, broth, pease soup, mutton, salt pork, rice, damper, sugar,
dried fruits, were all alike to him, nothing came amiss, and he appeared
to grow better in condition every day.

At last he too got tired of remaining so long in one place; the novelty
had worn away, and packing up his things he left us. During the time this
man had been with us, I took the opportunity of ascertaining whether the
King George's Sound native, Wylie, could understand him, but I found he
could not. There were one or two words common to both, but the general
character, meaning, and sound of the two languages were so very different
upon comparison, that I could myself understand the old man much better
than Wylie could.

Whilst remaining in depot, the whole party were one day suddenly seized
with a severe attack of illness, accompanied with vomiting and violent
pain in the stomach, and I began to fear that we had unknowingly taken
some deleterious ingredient in our food, as all were seized in the same
way; this attack continued for several days, without our being able to
discover the cause of it, but at last by changing the sugar we were
using, we again got well. It appeared that a new bag of sugar had been
broached about the time we were first attacked, and upon inspecting it,
we found the bag quite wet--something or other of a deleterious character
having been spilled over it, and which had doubtless caused us the
inconvenience we experienced. Fortunately we had other sugar that had not
been so injured, and the loss of the damaged bag was not of great
consequence to us.

By the 23rd of February our preparations for entering upon our journey
were nearly all completed, the horses had eaten up all their bran and
corn, and were now in good condition; all our pack-saddles, saddles, and
harness were ready, our provisions were all packed, and every thing in
order for commencing the undertaking; there remained but to bury our
surplus stores, and for this the hole was already dug. On the afternoon
of the 24th I intended finally to evacuate the depot, and on the evening
of the 23rd, to amuse my natives, I had all the rockets and blue-lights
we had, fired off, since we could not take them with us, our pack-horses
being barely able to carry for us the mere necessaries of life.

Chapter XV.


February 24.--THIS being the day I had appointed to enter upon the
arduous task before me, I had the party up at a very early hour. Our
loads were all arranged for each of the horses; our blankets and coats
were all packed up, and we were in the act of burying in a hole under
ground the few stores we could not take with us, when to our surprise a
shot was heard in the direction of Fowler's Bay, and shortly after a
second; we then observed two people in the distance following up the dray
tracks leading to the depot. Imagining that some whaler had anchored in
the bay, and being anxious to prevent our underground store from being
noticed, we hastily spread the tarpaulins over the hole, so that what we
were about could not be observed, and then fired shots in reply.

As the parties we had seen gradually approached nearer I recognised one
of them with the telescope as being Mr. Germain, the master of the HERO;
the other I could not make out at first from his being enveloped in heavy
pilot clothes; a little time however enabled me to distinguish under this
guise my young friend Mr. Scott, and I went anxiously to meet him, and
learn what had brought him back. Our greeting over, he informed me that
the Governor had sent him back with letters to me, and desired me to
return in the HERO to Adelaide. As Mr. Scott had not brought the letters
up, I walked down with him after luncheon, and went on board the cutter,
where I received many friendly letters, all urging me to return and give
up the attempt I meditated to the westward, and which every one appeared
to consider as little less than madness. From the Governor I received a
kind letter to the same effect, offering to assist me in any further
attempts I might wish to make round Lake Torrens, or to explore the
Northern Interior, and placing absolutely at my disposal, within the
colony, the services of the HERO, to enable me either to take my party
back overland, or to follow out any examinations I might wish to make
from the coast northerly. As a further inducement, and with a view to
lessen the feelings of disappointment I might experience at the
unsuccessful termination of an expedition from which such great results
had been expected, the assistant commissioner had been instructed to
write to me officially, communicating the approbation of His Excellency
and of the Colonists of the way in which I had discharged the trust
confided to me, and directing me to relinquish all further attempts to
the westward, and to return in the HERO to Adelaide.

Added to the numerous letters I received, were many friendly messages to
the same effect, sent to me through Mr. Scott. I felt deeply sensible of
the lively interest expressed in my welfare, and most grateful for the
kind feeling manifested towards me on the part of the Governor and the
Colonists; it was with much pain and regret, therefore, that I found
myself unable to comply with their requests, and felt compelled by duty
to adopt a course at variance with their wishes. When I first broke up my
party and sent Mr. Scott back to Adelaide, on the 31st January, 1841, I
had well and maturely considered the step I felt myself called upon to
adopt; after giving my best and serious attention to the arguments of my
friends, and carefully reconsidering the subject now, I saw nothing to
induce me to change the opinion I had then arrived at.

It will be remembered, that in stating the origin and commencement of the
Northern expedition, it was remarked, that a previously contemplated
expedition to the Westward, was made to give way to it, and that I had
myself been principally instrumental in changing the direction of public
attention from the one to the other; it will be remembered also, what
publicity had been given to our departure, how great was the interest
felt in the progress of our labours, and how sanguine were the
expectations formed as to the results; alas, how signally had these hopes
been dashed to the ground, after the toils, anxieties, and privations of
eight months, neither useful nor valuable discoveries had been made;
hemmed in by an impracticable desert, or the bed of an impassable lake, I
had been baffled and defeated in every direction, and to have returned
now, would have been, to have rendered of no avail the great expenses
that had been incurred in the outfit of the expedition, to have thrown
away the only opportunity presented to me of making some amends for past
failure, and of endeavouring to justify the confidence that had been
reposed in me, by carrying through the exploration which had been
originally contemplated to the westward, now it was no longer possible to
accomplish that to the north, for which it had given place; I considered
myself in duty and in honour bound, not to turn back from this attempt,
as long as there was the remotest possibility of success, without any
regard to considerations of a personal or private nature. Under these
feelings, therefore, I resolved to remain only another day in depot, to
reply to the letters I had received, and return my best thanks to the
many friends who had expressed such kind interest on my behalf.

February 25.--Having finished my letters, and buried all the spare
stores, I sent the native boys away early with the sheep, that they might
travel more slowly than we should do with the horses. About two we loaded
the pack animals, and wishing Mr. Scott a final adieu, set off upon our
route. The party consisted of myself, the overseer, three native boys,
nine horses, one Timor pony, one foal, born at Streaky Bay, and six
sheep; our flour which was buried at the sand-hills to the north-west,
was calculated for nine weeks, at an allowance of six pounds of flour
each weekly, with a proportionate quantity of tea and sugar. The long
rest our horses had enjoyed, and the large supply of oats and bran we had
received for them, had brought them round wonderfully, they were now in
good condition, and strong, and could not have commenced the journey
under more favourable circumstances, had it been the winter instead of
the summer season.

Two of the native boys having gone on early in the morning with the
sheep, there remained only myself, the overseer, and one native, to
manage ten horses, and we were consequently obliged to drive some of the
pack-horses loose; at first they went well and quietly, but something
having unluckily startled one of them, he frightened the others, and four
out of the number set off at full gallop, and never stopped for five
miles, by which time they had got rid of all their loads except the
saddles. Sending the black boy back to the depot with the four horses
that had not got away, I and the overseer went on horseback after the
others, picking up the baggage they had been carrying, scattered about in
every direction; luckily no great damage was done, and at sunset we were
all assembled again at the depot, and the animals reloaded. Leaving a
short note for Mr. Scott, who had gone on board the cutter, we again
recommenced our journey, and, travelling for five miles, halted at the
well in the plains. I intended to have made a long stage, but the night
set in so dark that I did not like to venture amongst the scrub with the
pack-horses now they were so fresh, and where, if they did get frightened
and gallop off, they would cause us much greater trouble and delay than
they had done in the daytime.

February 26.--Moving on very early, we arrived at the grassy plain under
the sand-hills, a little after three in the afternoon, just in time to
save the gun and clothes of the black boys, which they had imprudently
left there whilst they took the sheep to water, a mile and a half away.
At the very instant of our arrival, a native was prowling about the camp,
and would, doubtless, soon have carried off every thing. Upon examining
the place at which we had buried our flour on the 31st December, and upon
which we were now dependent for our supply, I found that we had only just
arrived in time to save it from the depredations of the natives; it
seems, that having found where the cask containing it was buried, and
being unable, from its weight, to get it out of the ground, they had
broken a square hole in one of the staves (by what means I could not
discover), and though, as yet, every thing was safe and uninjured inside,
I have no doubt, that, had we been one day later in coming, they would
have enlarged the opening in the cask, and scattered or destroyed the
contents, and we should have then had the unpleasant and laborious task
of returning to that we had buried at Fowler's Bay for a fresh supply. A
bucket, which we had also left buried, was broken to pieces, a two gallon
keg carried off, and a twenty-five gallon cask full of water had been dug
up, and the water drank or emptied, so that we were very fortunate in
arriving when we did to prevent further loss.

The black boys, who had gone a-head with the sheep, returned soon after
our arrival, tired and hungry, having only had one meal since they left
us on the 25th. They had been over the sandhills to fetch water, and were
now coming to try and find the flour which they knew we had left buried
at these plains. After dark, accompanied by the overseer, I took the
horses down to the water, but the sand had slipped in, and we could not
get them watered to-night.

February 27.--Sending the overseer and two boys down with the horses to
the well this morning, I and the other boy set to work, and dug out the
cask with the flour, which we then weighed out, and subdivided into
packages of fifty pounds each, for the convenience of carrying. The
native I had seen about the camp, on our approach, yesterday, had
returned, and slept near us at night; but upon inquiring from him this
morning, where our two-gallon keg was, he took the very earliest
opportunity of decamping, being probably afraid that we should charge him
with the robbery, or punish him for it. The natives, generally, are a
strange and singular race of people, and their customs and habits are
often quite inexplicable to us. Sometimes, in barely passing through a
country, we have them gathering from all quarters, and surrounding us,
anxious and curious to observe our persons, or actions; at other times,
we may remain in camp for weeks together without seeing a single native,
though many may be in the neighbourhood; when they do come, too, they
usually depart as suddenly as their visit had been unexpected. Among all
who had come under my observation, hitherto, along this coast, I found
that every male had undergone the singular ceremony I have described as
prevailing in the Port Lincoln peninsula; each, too, had the cartilage of
the nose perforated, but none had lost the front teeth, nor did I see any
(with one exception) having scars raised on the back, breast, or arms, as
is frequently the case with many tribes in Australia.

For the last few days, the weather had been tolerably cool, and we had
not been much troubled with musquitoes; instead, however, we were
persecuted severely by a very large greyish kind of horsefly, with a huge
proboscis for sucking up the blood. These pests were in great numbers,
and proved a sad annoyance, lighting upon us in every direction, and
inflicting very irritating wounds even through clothes of considerable

February 28.--As we had a long distance to travel to the next water, and
the sheep could not keep pace with the horses, I left the overseer and
two natives to bring the latter after us, whilst I and the younger boy
set off with the sheep. At fifteen miles, we passed the place where the
nine-gallon keg of water had been buried on the 5th January. Upon digging
it up, and taking out the bung, the water appeared discoloured and
offensive in smell. It was still clear, however, and the sheep drank
hastily of it, and we did the same ourselves, but the horses would not
touch it. Leaving the cask out in the air with the bung out that it might
sweeten a little against the overseer came up, we went on with the sheep
to the undulating plains, arriving there between ten and eleven at night.
After hobbling the horses, and making a brush-yard for the sheep, we laid
down, tired with the labours of the day.

March 1.--Travelling through the plains for a mile, we came to our former
encampment, where we had left some stores, and a large cask of water; the
latter had dried up to about two quarts, and was very horrible, both in
smell and flavour; but still we were glad to take it, for, calculating
upon finding an abundance in this cask, we had imprudently brought but
little with us. After breakfast, I dug up some of the provisions buried
here; and leaving a note for the overseer, proceeded onwards with the
boy, and the sheep, for twenty-four miles. The stage was a long one, and
over heavy ground, so that the sheep began to get tired, as we did
ourselves also, one of us being always obliged to walk whilst the other
was riding. We had two horses with us, but required one exclusively to
carry our coats, blankets, and provisions, the other one we rode in turn.

March 2.--A hot day, with the wind north-east. Between eleven and twelve
we arrived at the first water, at the head of the Bight, and had a long
and arduous task to get the sheep and horses watered, no natives being
here to help us now, and the sand rushing in as fast as we could throw it
out. By great exertion we effected our object, and then getting some tea,
and leaving a note to tell the overseer not to halt at this difficult
watering-place, if he could possibly avoid it, we pushed on again, and
took up our position at Yeerkumban kauwe, in time to dig holes, and water
the sheep, before dark.

March 3.--Having got up and watered the horses and sheep, I sent the boy
out to tend them at grass, whilst I commenced digging two large holes to
water the pack-horses, that there might be no delay when the overseer
came up with them. I had nothing but a shell to dig with, and, as a very
large excavation was required to enable a bucket to be dipped, my
occupation was neither a light nor a short one. Having completed my work,
I killed a sheep, well knowing the party would be fatigued and hungry,
when they came up. About three they made their appearance, and thus, upon
the whole, we had very successfully got over this our first push, and
were soon very comfortably established at "Yeerkumban kauwe." The holes I
had dug enabled us easily and speedily to water the horses, and the sheep
I had killed afforded a refreshing meal to the overseer and boys, after
their harassing journey. In the afternoon the sand blew about in a most
annoying manner, covering us from head to foot, and filling everything we
put down, if but for an instant. This sand had been our constant torment
for many weeks past; condemned to live among the sand-hills for the sake
of procuring water, we were never free from irritation and inconvenience.
It floated on the surface of the water, penetrated into our clothes,
hair, eyes, and ears, our provisions were covered over with it, and our
blankets half buried when we lay down at nights,--it was a perpetual and
never-ceasing torment, and as if to increase our miseries we were again
afflicted with swarms of large horse-flies, which bit us dreadfully. On
the 4th, we remained in camp to rest the horses, and I walked round to
reconnoitre. Upon the beach I found the fragments of a wreck, consisting
of part of a mast, a tiller wheel, and some copper sheathings, the last
sad records of the fate of some unfortunate vessel on this wild and
breaker-beaten shore. There was nothing to indicate its size, or name, or
the period when the wreck occurred.

No recent traces of natives having been either at Yeerkumban kauwe, or
the more distant water, were visible anywhere, and I imagined they might
perhaps have made an excursion to the westward. A large flight of
red-winged cockatoos were seen today hovering around the sand-hills, and
appearing quite disconcerted at finding us in possession of the water; we
had not before seen them in the neighbourhood, and I can hardly
conjecture where they go to from this place, for generally they are birds
fond of water.

Knowing from the accounts of the natives that upon leaving Yeerkumban
kauwe, I should have a task before me of no ordinary difficulty to get
either the sheep or the horses to the next water, I determined to proceed
myself in advance, with the sheep, that by travelling slowly, at the same
time that we kept steadily advancing, every chance might be given to them
of accomplishing the journey in safety. I was anxious too to precede my
party, in order that by finding out where the water was, I might be on
the look out for them, to guide them to it, and that thus when in their
greatest difficulty, no time should be lost in searching for water.
Having given the overseer orders to keep the tracks of my horses, when he
had travelled about seventy miles along the coast, I set off on the 7th
March, with the youngest of the natives to assist me in driving the
sheep, leaving the two elder ones with the overseer, to aid in managing
the pack-horses. As before we took two horses with us, one to carry our
provisions and water, and the other to ride upon in turn, the boy
however, being young, and incapable of much fatigue, the greater portion
of the walking naturally fell to my share. The day was cool and
favourable, and we accomplished a stage of twenty-four miles; the
afternoon became dark and lowering, and I fully expected rain, but
towards sunset two or three drops fell, and the clouds cleared away. Our
horses fed tolerably upon the little withered grass that we found, but
the sheep were too tired to eat, and lay down; we put them therefore into
a yard we had made for them for the night.

March 8.--Having turned the sheep out of the yard three hours before
daylight, I was in hopes they would have fed a little before we moved on,
but they would not touch such food as we had for them, and at six I was
obliged to proceed onwards; the morning was dark and looked like rain,
but as was the case yesterday, a drop or two only fell. We made a stage
to-day of twenty-six miles, through a level country, generally open, but
near the sea covered with a very low dwarf tea-tree, small prickly
bushes, and salsolae, and having the surface almost every where sprinkled
over with fresh-water shells; further from the coast the plains extending
to the north were very extensive, level, and divided by belts of scrub or
shrubs. There was no perceptible inclination of the country in any
direction, the level land ran to the very borders of the sea, where it
abruptly terminated, forming the steep and precipitous cliffs, observed
by Captain Flinders, and which it was quite impossible to descend
anywhere. The general elevation of this table land, was from three to
four hundred feet.

The day turned out fine and clear, and the effect produced by refraction
in these vast plains was singular and deceptive: more than once we turned
considerably out of our way to examine some large timber, as we thought
it to be, to the north of us, but which, upon our approach, proved to be
low scrubby bushes. At another time we imagined we saw two natives in the
distance, and went towards them as carefully and cautiously as we could;
instead, however, of our having seen the heads of natives, as we
supposed, above the bushes, it turned out to be only crows. Yet the
native boy, whose quickness and accuracy of vision had often before
surprised me, was equally deceived with myself. Upon halting in the
evening our sheep again were very tired, and refused to eat. The horses
too were now beginning to feel the want of water, and fed but little. I
therefore sat up and watched them until half past eight, after which I
tied them up to some bushes. At one o'clock I again got up and let them
loose, hoping they might feed a little better in the cool of the night.
The scud was rapidly passing the moon, and I watched for hours the clouds
gathering to the south and passing to the north, but no rain fell.

March 9.--Moving on early we passed through a similar country to that we
had before traversed; but there was more of the tea-tree scrub, which
made our travelling more difficult and fatiguing. This kind of scrub,
which is different from any I had seen before, is a low bush running
along the ground, with very thick and crooked roots and branches, and
forming a close matted and harassing obstacle to the traveller. The sheep
and horses got very tired, from having to lift their legs so high to
clear it every step they took. To the westward we found the country
rising as we advanced, and the cliffs becoming higher; they now answered
fully, where we could obtain a view of any projecting parts, to the
description given by Flinders--"the upper part brown and the lower part
white;" but as yet we could not find any place where we could descend to
examine them. The lower, or white part, appeared soft and crumbling, and
its decay had left the upper, or harder rock, fearfully overhanging the
ocean. Upon the summits we again found flints in the greatest abundance
lying loosely scattered over the surface.

The day was cloudy and gathering for rain, but none fell. After
travelling twenty-five miles we halted for an hour or two to rest the
sheep and horses, feeding was out of the question, for they were too much
in want of water to attempt to cat the dry and withered grass around us.
We now lay down to rest ourselves, and the boy soon fell asleep; I was
however feverish and restless, and could not close my eyes. In an hour
and a half I arose, got up the horses and saddled them, and then, awaking
my companion, we again pushed on by moonlight. At ten miles we crossed a
well beaten native pathway, plainly discernible even then, and this we
followed down towards the cliffs, fully hoping it would lead to water.
Our hopes however had been excited but to render our disappointment the
greater, for upon tracing it onwards we found it terminate abruptly at a
large circular hole of limestone rock, which would retain a considerable
quantity of water after rains, but was now without a single drop.
Gloomily turning away we again pushed on for eight miles further, and at
three in the morning of the 10th were compelled to halt from downright
exhaustion and fatigue. The horses and sheep were knocked up. The poor
boy was so tired and sleepy that he could scarcely sit upon his horse,
and I found myself actually dosing as I walked: mechanically my legs kept
moving forwards, but my eyes were every now and then closed in
forgetfulness of all around me, until I was suddenly thrown down by
getting entangled amongst the scrub, or aroused by a severe blow across
the face from the recoil of a bough after the passage of the boy's horse.
I now judged we had come about ninety-three miles from Yeerkumban-kauwe,
and hoped that we could not be very far from water. Having tied up the
horses for an hour or two, and without making a fire, or even unrolling
our cloaks to cover us, we stretched ourselves on the ground, and were in
a few moments fast asleep.

March 10.--At five we were again on our route, every moment expecting to
see a break in the line of cliffs along which we had now travelled so
far. Alas! they still continued stretching as far as the eye could see to
the westward, and as fast as we arrived at one point which had bounded
our vision (and beyond which we hoped a change might occur), it was but
to be met with the view of another beyond. Distressing and fatal as the
continuance of these cliffs might prove to us, there was a grandeur and
sublimity in their appearance that was most imposing, and which struck me
with admiration. Stretching out before us in lofty unbroken outline, they
presented the singular and romantic appearance of massy battlements of
masonry, supported by huge buttresses, and glittering in the morning sun
which had now risen upon them, and made the scene beautiful even amidst
the dangers and anxieties of our situation. It was indeed a rich and
gorgeous view for a painter, and I never felt so much regret at my
inability to sketch as I did at this moment.

Still we kept moving onwards and still the cliffs continued. Hour after
hour passed away, mile after mile was traversed, and yet no change was
observable. My anxiety for the party who were to follow behind with the
pack-horses became very great; the state of doubt and uncertainty I was
in was almost insupportable, and I began to fear that neither sheep nor
horses would ever reach the water, even should we suceeed in doing so
ourselves, which now appeared to be very doubtful. At noon I considered
we had come one hundred and ten miles from the last water, and still the
country remained the same. The cliffs indeed appeared to be gradually
declining a little in elevation to the westward, but there was nothing to
indicate their speedy termination. Our sheep still travelled, but they
were getting so tired, and their pace was so slow, that I thought it
would be better to leave them behind, and by moving more rapidly with the
horses endeavour at least to save their lives. Foreseeing that such a
contingency as this might occur, I had given the overseer strict orders
to keep the tracks of my horses, that if I should be compelled to abandon
the sheep he might find them and bring them on with his party.

Having decided upon this plan we set to work and made a strong high yard
of such shrubs as we could find, and in this we shut up the sheep. I then
wrote a note for the overseer, directing him to bury the loads of the
horses, and hastening on with the animals alone endeavour to save their
lives. To attract attention I raised a long stick above the sheep-yard,
and tied to it a red handkerchief, which could be seen a long way off. At
one we again proceeded, and were able to advance more rapidly than we
could whilst the sheep were with us. In a few miles we came to a
well-beaten native road, and again our hopes were raised of speedily
terminating the anxiety and suspense we were in. Following the road for
ten miles it conducted us to where the cliffs receded a little from the
sea, leaving a small barren valley between them and the ocean, of low,
sandy ground; the road ceased here at a deep rocky gorge of the cliffs,
where there was a breach leading down to the valley. There were several
deep holes among the rocks where water would be procurable after rains,
but they were now all dry. The state of mind in which we passed on may be
better imagined than described. We had now been four days without a drop
of water for our horses, and we had no longer any for ourselves, whilst
there appeared as little probability of our shortly procuring it as there
had been two days ago. A break, it is true, had occurred in the line of
the cliffs, but this appeared of a very temporary character, for we could
see beyond them the valley again abutting upon the ocean.

At dark we were fifteen miles from where we left the sheep, and were
again upon a native pathway, which we twice tried to follow down the
steep and rugged slopes of the table land into the valley below. We were
only, however, fagging our poor horses and bewildering ourselves to no
purpose, for we invariably lost all track at the bottom, and I at last
became convinced that it was useless to try and trace the natives'
roadway further, since it always appeared to stop at rocky holes where
there was no water now. Keeping, therefore, the high ground, we travelled
near the top of the cliffs, bounding the sandy valley, but here again a
new obstacle impeded our progress. The country, which had heretofore been
tolerably open was now become very scrubby, and we found it almost
impossible either to keep a straight course, or to make any progress
through it in the dark. Still we kept perseveringly onwards, leading our
horses and forcing our way through in the best way we could. It was,
however, all in vain; we made so little headway, and were so completely
exhausting the little strength we had left, that I felt compelled to
desist. The poor boy was quite worn out, and could scarcely move. I was
myself but little better, and we were both suffering from a parching
thirst; under such obstacles labour and perseverance were but thrown
away, and I determined to await the day-light. After tying up the horses
the boy lay down, and was soon asleep, happy in his ignorance of the
dangers which threatened him. I lay down, too, but not to sleep; my own
distresses were lost in the apprehensions which I entertained for those
who were behind. We were now about one hundred and twenty-eight miles
from the last water; we had been four whole days and nights without a
drop for our horses, and almost without food also, (for parched as they
were they could not feed upon the dry and withered grass we found.) The
state the poor animals were in was truly pitiable, what then was likely
to be the condition of those that were coming after us, and carrying
heavy packs. It was questionable, even, if they would reach the distance
we had already attained in safety; and it was clear, that unless I
discovered water early in the morning, the whole of our horses must
perish, whilst it would be very doubtful if we could succeed even in
saving our own lives.

March 11.--Early this morning we moved on, leading slowly our jaded
animals through the scrub. The night had been one of painful suspense and
gloomy forebodings; and the day set in dark and cloudy, as if to
tantalise us with the hope of rain which was not destined to fall. In a
few miles we reached the edge of the cliffs, from which we had a good
view of the sandy valley we had been travelling round, but which the
thick scrub had prevented our scrutinising sooner. I now noticed some
hillocks of bare sand in the midst of it. These I had not seen before, as
the only previous point from which they could have been visible had been
passed by us in the dark. It now struck me, that the water spoken of by
the natives at Yeerkumban-kauwe might be situated among these sand-hills,
and that we were going away from instead of approaching it. The bare idea
of such a possibility was almost maddening, and as the dreadful thought
flashed across my mind I stood for a moment undecided and irresolute as
to what I ought to do. We were now many miles past these hills, and if we
went back to examine them for water, and did not find it, we could never
hope that our horses would be able to return again to search elsewhere;
whilst if there was water there, and we did not return, every step we
took would but carry us further from it, and lead to our certain

For a few minutes I carefully scanned the line of coast before me. In the
distance beyond a projecting point of the cliffs, I fancied I discerned a
low sandy shore, and my mind was made up at once, to advance in the line
we were pursuing. After a little while, we again came to a well beaten
native pathway, and following this along the summit of the cliffs, were
brought by it, in seven miles, to the point where they receded from the
sea-shore; as they inclined inland, leaving a low sandy country between
them and some high bare sand-hills near the sea. The road now led us down
a very rocky steep part of the cliffs, near the angle where they broke
away from the beach, but upon reaching the bottom we lost it altogether
on the sandy shore; following along by the water's edge, we felt cooled
and refreshed by the sea air, and in one mile and a half from where we
had descended the cliffs, we reached the white sand-drifts. Upon turning
into these to search for water, we were fortunate enough to strike the
very place where the natives had dug little wells; and thus on the fifth
day of our sufferings, we were again blessed with abundance of
water,--nor could I help considering it as a special instance of the
goodness of Providence, that we had passed the sandy valley in the dark,
and had thereby been deterred from descending to examine the sand-hills
it contained; had we done so, the extra fatigue to our horses and the
great length of time it would have taken up, would probably have
prevented the horses from ever reaching the water we were now at. It took
us about two hours to water the animals, and get a little tea for
ourselves, after which the boy laid down to sleep, and I walked round to
search for grass. A little grew between the sand-drifts and the cliffs,
and though dry and withered, I was most thankful to find it. I then
returned to the camp and laid down, but could not sleep, for although
relieved myself, my anxiety became but the greater, for the party behind,
and the more so, because at present I could do nothing to aid them; it
was impossible that either the horses, or ourselves, could go back to
meet them without a few hours' rest, and yet the loss of a few hours
might be of the utmost consequence; I determined, however, to return and
meet them as early as possible in the morning, and in the mean time, as I
knew that the overseer and natives would, when they came, be greatly
fatigued, and unable to dig holes to water the horses, I called up the
boy, and with his assistance dug two large holes about five feet deep,
from which the horses could readily and without delay be watered upon
their arrival. As we had only some shells left by the natives to work
with, our wells progressed slowly, and we were occupied to a late hour.
In the evening we watered the horses, and before laying down ourselves,
drove them to the grass I had discovered. For the first time for many
nights, I enjoyed a sound and refreshing sleep.

Chapter XVI.


March 12.--THE first streak of daylight found us on our way to meet the
party, carrying with us three gallons of water upon one of the horses,
the other was ridden by the boy. Upon passing the sandy valley, where I
had been in such a state of suspense and doubt at seeing the sand-hills
behind me, I determined to descend and examine them; but before doing so,
I wrote a note for the overseer (in case he should pass whilst I was in
the valley,) and hoisted a red handkerchief to attract his attention to

I was unsuccessful in my search for water; but whilst among the
sand-hills, I saw the party slowly filing along the cliffs above the
valley, and leaving the boy to look about a little longer, I struck
across to meet them. Both horses and people I found greatly fatigued, but
upon the whole, they had got through the difficulty better than I had
anticipated; after leaving a great part of the loads of the pack-horses
about seventeen miles back, according to the written instructions I had
left. The sheep, it seemed, had broken out of the yard and travelled
backwards, and were picked up by the overseer, twelve miles away from
where we had left them; as they had got very tired and were delaying the
horses, he left one of the natives, this morning, to follow slowly with
them, whilst he pushed on with the pack-horses as rapidly as they could
go. After giving him the pleasing intelligence that his toil was nearly
over for the present, and leaving some few directions, I pushed on again
with the boy, who had not found the least sign of water in the valley, to
meet the native with the sheep. In about three miles we saw him coming on
alone without them, he said they were a mile further back, and so tired
they could not travel. Halting our horses, I sent him to bring them on,
and during his absence, had some tea made and dinner prepared for him.
When the sheep came up they were in sad condition, but by giving them
water and a few hours rest, they recovered sufficiently to travel on in
the evening to the water.

At night, the whole party were, by God's blessing, once more together,
and in safety, after having passed over one hundred and thirty-five miles
of desert country, without a drop of water in its whole extent, and at a
season of the year the most unfavourable for such an undertaking. In
accomplishing this distance, the sheep had been six and the horses five
days without water, and both had been almost wholly without food for the
greater part of the time. The little grass we found was so dry and
withered, that the parched and thirsty animals could not eat it after the
second day. The day following our arrival at the water was one of intense
heat, and had we experienced such on our journey, neither men nor horses
could ever have accomplished it; most grateful did we feel, therefore, to
that merciful Being who had shrouded us from a semi-tropical sun, at a
time when our exposure to it would have ensured our destruction.

From the 12th to the 18th we remained at the sand-drifts, during which
time we were engaged in attending to the horses, in sending back to
recover the stores that had been left by the overseer, and in examining
the country around. The natives had told me that there were two watering
places at the termination of the cliffs to the eastward, and that these
were situated in a somewhat similar manner to those at the head of the
Great Bight. We were encamped at one, and I made several ineffectual
attempts to find the other during the time the horses were recruiting.
The traces of natives near us were numerous, and once we saw their fires,
but they did not shew themselves at all. The line of cliffs which had so
suddenly turned away from the sea, receded inland from eight to ten
miles, but still running parallel with the coast; between it and the sea
the country was low and scrubby, with many beds of dried up salt lakes;
but neither timber nor grass, except the little patch we were encamped
at. Above the cliffs the appearance of the country was the same as we had
previously found upon their summits, with, perhaps, rather more scrub;
pigeons were numerous at the sand-hills, and several flocks of
red-crested and red-winged cockatoos were hovering about, watching for an
opportunity to feast upon the red berries I have before spoken of, and
which were here found in very great abundance, and of an excellent
quality. The sand, as usual at our encampments, was a most dreadful
annoyance, and from which we had rarely any respite. The large flies were
also very numerous, troublesome and irritating tormentors. They literally
assailed us by hundreds at a time, biting through our clothes, and
causing us constant employment in endeavouring to keep them off. I have
counted twenty-three of these blood-suckers at one time upon a patch of
my trousers eight inches square.

Being now at a part of the cliffs where they receded from the sea, and
where they had a last become accessible, I devoted some time to an
examination of their geological character. The part that I selected was
high, steep, and bluff towards the sea, which washed its base; presenting
the appearance described by Captain Flinders, as noted before. By
crawling and scrambling among the crags, I managed, at some risk, to get
at these singular cliffs. The brown or upper portion consisted of an
exceedingly hard, coarse grey limestone, among which some few shells were
embedded, but which, from the hard nature of the rock, I could not break
out; the lower or white part consisted of a gritty chalk, full of broken
shells and marine productions, and having a somewhat saline taste: parts
of it exactly resembled the formation that I had found up to the north,
among the fragments of table-land; the chalk was soft and friable at the
surface, and easily cut out with a tomahawk, it was traversed
horizontally by strata of flint, ranging in depth from six to eighteen
inches, and having varying thicknesses of chalk between the several
strata. The chalk had worn away from beneath the harder rock above,
leaving the latter most frightfully overhanging and threatening instant
annihilation to the intruder. Huge mis-shapen masses were lying with
their rugged pinnacles above the water, in every direction at the foot of
the cliffs, plainly indicated the frequency of a falling crag, and I felt
quite a relief when my examination was completed, and I got away from so
dangerous a post.

I have remarked that the natives at the head of the Great Bight had
intimated to us, that there were two places where water might be found in
this neighbourhood, not far apart, and as with all our efforts we had
only succeeded in discovering one, I concluded that the other must be a
little further along the coast to the westward; in this supposition I was
strengthened, by observing that all the native tracks we had met with
apparently took this direction. Under this impression I determined to
move slowly along the coast until we came to it, and in order that our
horses might carry no unnecessary loads, to take but a few quarts of
water in our kegs.

On the 18th we moved on, making a short stage of fourteen miles, through
a heavy, sandy, and scrubby country. At first I tried the beach, but
finding the sand very loose and unsuitable for travelling, I was again
compelled to enter the scrub behind the sea-shore ridge, travelling
through a succession of low scrubby undulations, with here and there the
beds of dried up lakes The traces of natives were now more recent and
numerous, but found principally near the bushes bearing the red berries,
and which grew behind the front ridge of the coast in the greatest
abundance. From this circumstance, and from our having now travelled a
considerable distance beyond the first water, I began to fear that the
second which had been spoken of by the natives must, if it existed at
all, be behind us instead of in advance, and that in reality the fruit we
saw, and not water, was the object for which the natives, whose tracks
were around us, were travelling to the westward. The day was cloudy, and
likely for rain, but after a few drops had fallen, the clouds passed
away. In the afternoon the overseer dug behind the sand-ridge, and at six
feet came to water, but perfectly salt.

March 19.--To-day we travelled onwards for twenty-six miles, through a
country exactly similar to that we had passed through yesterday. At three
in the afternoon we halted at an opening when there was abundance of
grass, though dry and withered. The indications of natives having
recently passed still continued, and confirmed me in my impression, that
they were on a journey to the westward, and from one distant water to
another, and principally for the purpose of gathering the fruit. We were
now forty miles from the last water, and I became assured that we had
very far to go to the next; I had for some time given over any hope of
finding the second water spoken of by the natives at the head of the
Bight, and considered that we must have passed it if it existed, long
ago, perhaps even in that very valley, or among those very sandhills
where we had searched so unsuccessfully on the 12th. There was now the
prospect of a long journey before us without water, as we had brought
only a little with us for ourselves, and which was nearly exhausted,
whilst our horses had been quite without, and were already suffering from
thirst. Consulting with the overseer, I resolved to leave our baggage
where we were, whilst the horses were sent back to the water (forty
miles) to rest and recruit for three or four days; by this means I
expected they would gather strength, and as they would have but little
weight to carry until they reached our present position, when they
returned we should be better able to force a passage through the waste
before us, at the same time that we should be able to procure a fresh and
larger stock of water for ourselves. At midnight I sent the whole party
back to the last water, but remained myself to take care of the baggage
and sheep. I retained an allowance of a pint of water per day for six
days, this being the contemplated period of the overseer's absence. My
situation was not at all enviable, but circumstances rendered it

From the departure of my party, until their return, I spent a miserable
time, being unable to leave the camp at all. Shortly after the party
left, the sheep broke out of the yard, and missing the horses with which
they had been accustomed to travel and to feed, set off as rapidly as
they could after them; I succeeded in getting them back, but they were
exceedingly troublesome and restless, attempting to start off, or to get
down to the sea whenever my eye was off them for an instant, and never
feeding quietly for ten minutes together; finding at last that they would
be quite unmanageable, I made a very strong and high yard, and putting
them in, kept them generally shut up, letting them out only to feed for
two or three hours at once. This gave me a little time to examine my
maps, and to reflect upon my position and prospects, which involved the
welfare of others, as well as my own. We had still 600 miles of country
to traverse, measured in straight lines across the chart; but taking into
account the inequalities of the ground, and the circuit we were
frequently obliged to make, we could not hope to accomplish this in less
than 800 miles of distance. With every thing in our favour we could not
expect to accomplish this in less than eight weeks; but with all the
impediment and embarrassments we were likely to meet with, it would
probably take us twelve. Our sheep were reduced to three in number, and
our sole stock of flour now amounted to 142 pounds, to be shared out
amongst five persons, added to which the aspect of the country before us
was disheartening in the extreme; the places at which there was any
likelihood of finding water were probably few and far apart, and the
strength of our horses was already greatly reduced by the hardships they
had undergone. Ever since we had left Fowler's Bay, the whole party,
excepting the youngest boys, had been obliged chiefly to walk, and yet
every care and precaution we could adopt were unable to counteract the
evil effects of a barren country, and an unfavourable season of the year.
The task before us was indeed a fearful one, but I firmly hoped by
patience and perseverance, safely and successfully to accomplish it at

During nearly the whole time that my party were away the weather was cool
and cloudy. Occasionally there was a great deal of thunder and lightning,
accompanied by a few drops of rain, but it always cleared away without
heavy showers. The storms came up from seawards, and generally passed
inland to the north-east; which struck me as being somewhat singular,
especially when taken in conjunction with the fact that on one or two
occasions, when the wind was from the north-east, it was comparatively
cool, and so unlike any of those scorching blasts we had experienced from
the same quarter when on the western side of the Great Bight. There was
another thing connected with my present position which equally surprised
me, and was quite as inexplicable: whilst engaged one morning rambling
about the encampment as far as I could venture away, I met with several
flights of a very large description of parrot, quite unknown to me,
coming apparently from the north-east, and settling among the shrubs and
bushes around. They had evidently come to eat the fruit growing behind
the sand-hills, but being scared by my following them about, to try and
shoot one, they took wing and went off again in the direction they had
come from.

Several days had now elapsed since the departure of the overseer with the
horses, and as the time for their return drew nigh I became anxious and
restless. The little stock of water left me was quite exhausted. It had
originally been very limited, but was reduced still further by the
necessity I was under of keeping it in a wooden keg, where it evaporated,
and once or twice by my spilling some. At last, on the 25th, I was
gratified by seeing my party approach. They had successfully accomplished
their mission, and brought a good supply of water for ourselves, but the
horses looked weary and weak, although they had only travelled fourteen
miles that day. After they had rested a few hours I broke up the
encampment, and travelling for fourteen miles further over a scrubby
country, came to a patch of grass, at which we halted early. From the
nature of the country, and the consequent embarrassment it entailed upon
us, it was impossible for any of the party to have any longer even the
slight advantage formerly enjoyed of occasionally riding for a few miles
in turn; all were now obliged to walk, except the two youngest boys, who
were still permitted to ride at intervals. The weather was cloudy, and
showers were passing to the north-east.

March 26.--Upon moving on this morning we passed through the same
wretched kind of country for eighteen miles, to an opening in the scrub
where was a little grass, and at which we halted to rest. There was so
much scrub, and the sandy ridges were so heavy and harassing to the
horses, that I began to doubt almost if we should get them along at all.
We were now seventy-two miles from the water, and had, in all
probability, as much further to go before we came to any more, and I saw
that unless something was done to lighten the loads of the pack-animals
(trifling as were the burdens they carried) we never could hope to get
them on. Leaving the natives to enjoy a sleep, the overseer and I opened
and re-sorted all our baggage, throwing away every thing that we could at
all dispense with; our great coats, jackets, and other articles of dress
were thrown away; a single spare shirt and pair of boots and socks being
all that were kept for each, besides our blankets and the things we stood
in, and which consisted only of trowsers, shirt, and shoes. Most of our
pack-saddles, all our horse-shoes, most of our kegs for holding water,
all our buckets but one, our medicines, some of our fire-arms, a quantity
of ammunition, and a variety of other things, were here abandoned. Among
the many things that we were compelled to leave behind there was none
that I regretted parting with more than a copy of Captain Sturt's
Expeditions, which had been sent to me by the author to Fowler's Bay to
amuse and cheer me on the solitary task I had engaged in; it was the last
kind offering of friendship from a highly esteemed friend, and nothing
but necessity would have induced me to part with it. Could the donor,
however, have seen the miserable plight we were reduced to, he would have
pitied and forgiven an act that circumstances alone compelled me to.

After all our arrangements were made, and every thing rejected that we
could do without, I found that the loads of the horses were reduced in
the aggregate about two hundred pounds; but this being divided among ten,
relieved each only a little. Myself, the overseer, and the King George's
Sound native invariably walked the whole way, but the two younger natives
were still permitted to ride alternately upon one of the strongest
horses. As our allowance of flour was very small, and the fatigue and
exertion we were all obliged to undergo very great, I ordered a sheep to
be killed before we moved on again. We had been upon short allowance for
some time, and were getting weak and hardly able to go through the toils
that devolved upon us. Now, I knew that our safety depended upon that of
our horses, and that their lives again were contingent upon the amount of
fatigue we were ourselves able to endure, and the degree of exertion we
were capable of making to relieve them in extremity. I did not therefore
hesitate to make use of one of our three remaining sheep to strengthen us
for coming trials, instead of retaining them until perhaps they might be
of little use to us. The whole party had a hearty meal, and then,
watching the horses until midnight, we moved on when the moon rose.

During the morning we had passed along an extensive dried-up salt swamp
behind the coast ridge, which was soft for the horses in some places, but
free from that high brush which fatigued them so much, and which now
appeared to come close in to the sea, forming upon the high sandy ridges
a dense scrub. The level bank of the higher ground, or continuation of
the cliffs of the Bight, which had heretofore been distinctly visible at
a distance of ten or twelve miles inland, could no longer be seen: it had
either merged in the scrubby and sandy elevations around us, or was hid
by them from our view.

March 27.--During the night we travelled slowly over densely scrubby and
sandy ridges, occasionally crossing large sheets of oolitic limestone, in
which were deep holes that would most likely retain water after rains,
but which were now quite dry. As the daylight dawned the dreadful nature
of the scrub drove us to the sea beach; fortunately it was low water, and
we obtained a firm hard sand to travel over, though occasionally
obstructed by enormous masses of sea-weed, thrown into heaps of very many
feet in thickness and several hundreds of yards in length, looking
exactly like hay cut and pressed ready for packing.

To-day we overtook the natives, whose tracks we had seen so frequently on
our route. There was a large party of them, all busily engaged in eating
the red berries which grew behind the coast ridge in such vast
quantities; they did not appear so much afraid of us as of our horses, at
which they were dreadfully alarmed, so that all our efforts to
communicate with them were fruitless; they would not come near us, nor
would they give us the opportunity of getting near them, but ran away
whenever I advanced towards them, though alone and unarmed. During the
route I frequently ascended high scrubby ridges to reconnoitre the
country inland, but never could obtain a view of any extent, the whole
region around appeared one mass of dense impenetrable scrub running down
to the very borders of the ocean.

After travelling twenty miles I found that our horses needed rest, and
halted for an hour or two during the heat of the day, though without
grass, save the coarse wiry vegetation that binds the loose sands
together, and without even bushes to afford them shade from the heat, for
had we gone into the scrub for shelter we should have lost even the
wretched kind of grass we had.

At half past two we again moved onwards, keeping along the beach, but
frequently forced by the masses of sea-weed to travel above high water
mark in the heavy loose sand. After advancing ten miles the tide became
too high for us to continue on the shore, and the scrub prevented our
travelling to the back, we were compelled therefore to halt for the night
with hardly a blade of grass for our horses. I considered we were now one
hundred and two miles from the last water, and expected we had about
fifty more to go to the next; the poor animals were almost exhausted, but
as the dew was heavy they were disposed to eat had there been grass of
any kind for them. The overseer and I as usual watched them alternately,
each taking the duty for four hours and sleeping the other four; to me
this was the first sleep I had had for the last three nights.

Whilst in camp, during the heat of the day, the native boys shewed me the
way in which natives procure water for themselves, when wandering among
the scrubs, and by means of which they are enabled to remain out almost
any length of time, in a country quite destitute of surface water. I had
often heard of the natives procuring water from the roots of trees, and
had frequently seen indications of their having so obtained it, but I had
never before seen the process actually gone through. Selecting a large
healthy looking tree out of the gum-scrub, and growing in a hollow, or
flat between two ridges, the native digs round at a few feet from the
trunk, to find the lateral roots; to one unaccustomed to the work, it is
a difficult and laborious thing frequently to find these roots, but to
the practised eye of the native, some slight inequality of the surface,
or some other mark, points out to him their exact position at once, and
he rarely digs in the wrong place. Upon breaking the end next to the
tree, the root is lifted, and run out for twenty or thirty feet; the bark
is then peeled off, and the root broken into pieces, six or eight inches
long, and these again, if thick, are split into thinner pieces; they are
then sucked, or shaken over a piece of bark, or stuck up together in the
bark upon their ends, and water is slowly discharged from them; if
shaken, it comes out like a shower of very fine rain. The roots vary in
diameter from one inch to three; the best are those from one to two and a
half inches, and of great length. The quantity of water contained in a
good root, would probably fill two-thirds of a pint. I saw my own boys
get one-third of a pint out in this way in about a quarter of an hour,
and they were by no means adepts at the practice, having never been
compelled to resort to it from necessity.

Natives who, from infancy, have been accustomed to travel through arid
regions, can remain any length of time out in a country where there are
no indications of water. The circumstance of natives being seen, in
travelling through an unknown district, is therefore no proof of the
existence of water in their vicinity. I have myself observed, that no
part of the country is so utterly worthless, as not to have attractions
sufficient occasionally to tempt the wandering savage into its recesses.
In the arid, barren, naked plains of the north, with not a shrub to
shelter him from the heat, not a stick to burn for his fire (except what
he carried with him), the native is found, and where, as far as I could
ascertain, the whole country around appeared equally devoid of either
animal or vegetable life. In other cases, the very regions, which, in the
eyes of the European, are most barren and worthless, are to the native
the most valuable and productive. Such are dense brushes, or sandy tracts
of country, covered with shrubs, for here the wallabie, the opossum, the
kangaroo rat, the bandicoot, the leipoa, snakes, lizards, iguanas, and
many other animals, reptiles, birds, etc., abound; whilst the kangaroo,
the emu, and the native dog, are found upon their borders, or in the
vicinity of those small, grassy plains, which are occasionally met with
amidst the closest brushes.

Chapter XVII.


March 28.--AT daylight we moved on, every one walking, even the youngest
boy could not ride now, as the horses were so weak and jaded. Soon after
leaving the camp, one of them laid down, although the weight upon his
back was very light; we were consequently obliged to distribute the few
things he carried among the others, and let him follow loose. Our route
lay along the beach, as the dense scrub inland prevented us from
following any other course; we had, therefore, to go far out of our way,
tracing round every point, and following along every bay, whilst the
sea-weed frequently obstructed our path, and drove us again to the loose
sands, above high water mark, causing extra fatigue to our unfortunate
horses. At other times we were forced to go between these banks of
sea-weed and the sea, into the sea itself, on which occasions it required
our utmost vigilance to prevent the wretched horses from drinking the
salt water, which would inevitably have destroyed them. In order to
prevent this we were obliged to walk ourselves in the water, on the
sea-side of them, one of the party being in advance, leading one horse,
another being behind to keep up the rear, and the other three being at
intervals along the outside of the line, to keep them from stopping for
an instant until the danger was past.

We had scarcely advanced six miles from our last night's camp when the
little Timor pony I had purchased at Port Lincoln broke down completely;
for some time it had been weak, and we were obliged to drive it loose,
but it was now unable to proceed further, and we were compelled to
abandon it to a miserable and certain death, that by pushing on, we might
use every exertion in our power to relieve the others, though scarcely
daring to hope that we could save even one of them. It was, indeed, a
fearful and heart-rending scene to behold the noble animals which had
served us so long and so faithfully, suffering the extremity of thirst
and hunger, without having it in our power to relieve them. Five days of
misery had passed over their heads since the last water had been left,
and one hundred and twelve miles of country had been traversed without
the possibility of procuring food for them, other than the dry and
sapless remains of last year's grass, and this but rarely to be met with.
No rains had fallen to refresh them, and they were reduced to a most
pitiable condition, still they travelled onwards, with a spirit and
endurance truly surprising. Whenever we halted, they followed us about
like dogs wherever we went, appearing to look to us only for aid, and
exhibiting that confidence in us which I trust we all reposed in the
Almighty, for most truly did we feel, that in His mercy and protection
alone our safety could now ever be hoped for.

About ten o'clock the tide became too high for us to keep the beach, and
we were compelled to halt for some hours. Our horses were nearly all
exhausted, and I dreaded that when we next moved on many of them would be
unable to proceed far, and that, one by one, they would all perish,
overcome by sufferings which those, who have not witnessed such scenes,
can have no conception of. We should then have been entirely dependent
upon our own strength and exertions, nearly midway between Adelaide and
King George's Sound, with a fearful country on either side of us, with a
very small supply of provisions, and without water.

The position we were in, frequently forced sad forebodings with respect
to the future, and though I by no means contemplated with apathy the
probable fate that might await us, yet I was never for a moment undecided
as to the plan it would be necessary to adopt, in such a desperate
extremity--at all hazards, I was determined to proceed onwards.

The country we had already passed through, precluded all hope of our
recrossing it without the horses to carry water for us, and without
provisions to enable us to endure the dreadful fatigue of forced marches,
across the desert. The country before us was, it is true, quite unknown,
but it could hardly be worse than that we had traversed, and the chance
was that it might be better. We were now pushing on for some sand-hills,
marked down in Captain Flinders' chart at about 126 1/2 degrees of east
longitude; I did not expect to procure water until we reached these, but
I felt sure we should obtain it on our arrival there. After this point
was passed, there appeared to be one more long push without any
likelihood of procuring water, as the cliffs again became the boundary of
the ocean; but beyond Cape Arid, the change in the character and
appearance of the country, as described by Flinders, indicated the
existence of a better and more practicable line of country than we had
yet fallen in with.

My overseer, however, was now unfortunately beginning to take up an
opposite opinion, and though he still went through the duty devolving
upon him with assiduity and cheerfulness, it was evident that his mind
was ill at ease, and that he had many gloomy anticipations of the future.
He fancied there were no sand-hills ahead, that we should never reach any
water in that direction, and that there was little hope of saving any of
the horses. In this latter idea I rather encouraged him than otherwise,
deeming it advisable to contemplate the darker side of the picture, and
by accustoming ourselves to look forward to being left entirely dependent
upon our own strength and efforts, in some measure to prepare ourselves
for such an event, should it unfortunately befal us. In conversing with
him upon our prospects, and the position we should be in if we lost all
our horses, I regretted extremely to find that his mind was continually
occupied with thoughts of returning, and that he seemed to think the only
chance of saving our lives, would be to push on to the water ourselves,
and then endeavour again to return to Fowler's Bay, where we had buried a
large quantity of provisions. Still it was a gratification to find that
the only European with me, did not altogether give way to despondency,
and could even calmly contemplate the prospect before us, considering and
reasoning upon the plan it might be best to adopt, in the event of our
worst forebodings being realized. In discussing these subjects, I
carefully avoiding irritating or alarming him, by a declaration of my own
opinions and resolutions, rather agreeing with him than otherwise, at the
same time, that I pointed out the certain risk that would attend any
attempt to go back to Fowler's Bay, and the probability there was of much
less danger attending the effort to advance to King George's Sound. With
respect to the native boys, they appeared to think or care but little
about the future; they were not sensible of their danger, and having
something still to eat and drink, they played and laughed and joked with
each other as much as ever.

Whilst waiting for the tide to fall, to enable us to proceed, the
overseer dug a hole, and we buried nearly every thing we had with us,
saddles, fire-arms, ammunition, provisions; all things were here
abandoned except two guns, the keg with the little water we had left, and
a very little flour, tea and sugar. I determined to relieve our horses
altogether from every weight (trifling as was the weight of all we had),
and by pushing, if possible, on to the water, endeavour to save their
lives; after which we could return for the things we had abandoned. Our
arrangements being completed, we all bathed in the sea, ate a scanty
meal, and again moved onwards at half past two o'clock.

The poor horses started better than could have been expected, but it was
soon evident that all were fast failing, and many already quite
exhausted. At six miles my favourite mare could no longer keep up with
the rest, and we were obliged to let her drop behind. Her foal, now six
months old, we got away with some difficulty from her, and kept it with
the other horses; at four miles further another of the horses failed, and
I had him tied up, in the hope that if we reached water during the
evening, I might send back and recover him.

Towards dark we all imagined we saw a long point stretching to the S. W.
and backed by high sandy looking cones. We hoped that these might be the
sand-hills we were pushing for, and our hearts beat high with hope once
more. It, however, soon become too dark to discern anything, and at
fourteen miles from where we had halted in the morning, we were again
obliged by the tide to encamp for the night, as the country behind the
shore was densely scrubby, and quite impracticable as a line of route. It
was nine o'clock when we halted, and we were all very tired, and our feet
somewhat inflamed, from getting so frequently wet with the salt water,
whilst endeavouring to keep the horses from it; there was no grass but
the coarse wiry kind that bound the sand together, of this the poor
animals cropped a little, as a very heavy dew fell, and served to moisten
it. As usual, the overseer and myself kept watch upon the horses at
night, whilst the natives enjoyed their undisturbed repose. Two of the
boys were young, and none of the three had their frame and muscles
sufficiently developed to enable them to undergo the fatigue of walking
during the day if deprived of their rest at night; still the duty became
very hard upon two persons, where it was of constant occurrence, and
superadded to the ordinary day's labour.

March 29.--After calling up the party, I ascended the highest sand-hill
near me, from which the prospect was cheerless and gloomy, and the point
and sandy cones we imagined we had seen last night had vanished. Indeed,
upon examining the chart, and considering that as yet we had advanced
only one hundred and twenty-six miles from the last water, I felt
convinced that we had still very far to go before we could expect to
reach the sand-drifts. The supply of water we had brought for ourselves
was nearly exhausted, and we could afford none for breakfast to-day; the
night, however, had been cool, and we did not feel the want of it so
much. Upon moving, I sent one of the natives back to the horse I had tied
up, about four miles from our camp to try to bring him on to where we
should halt in the middle of the day.

For ten miles we continued along the beach until we came to a bluff rocky
ridge, running close into the sea; here we rested until the tide fell,
and to give the native boy an opportunity of rejoining us, which he did
soon after, but without the horse; the poor animal had travelled about
eight miles with him from the place where we had left him, but had then
been unable to come any further, and he abandoned him.

Whilst the party were in camp, I sent the overseer to a distant point of
land to try and get a view of the coast beyond; but upon his return,
after a long walk, he told me his view to the west was obstructed by a
point similar to the one I had sent him to. During the day, we had passed
a rather recent native encampment, where were left some vessels of bark
for holding water, or for collecting it from the roots of trees, or the
grass. Near where we halted in the middle of the day, the foot-prints of
the natives were quite fresh, and shewed that they were travelling the
same way as ourselves.

For the last two or three days, we had passed many pieces of wreck upon
the beach, oars, thwarts of boats, fragments of masts, spars, etc. strewed
about in every direction; none of them, however, appeared to have been
recently deposited there, and many of the oars, and lighter spars, were
stuck up on their ends in the sand above high water mark, probably so
placed by the natives, but with what object I know not. One oar was stuck
up upon a high sand ridge, some distance from the shore, and I spent some
time in examining the place, in the vain hope that it might be an
indication of our vicinity to water.

In the afternoon we all had a little tea; and after a bathe in the sea,
again moved onwards; fortunately the beach was firm and hard, and the
evening cool; the horses advanced slowly and steadily, and in a way that
quite surprised me. After travelling for thirteen miles, we encamped
under the coast ridge late in the evening, all very much exhausted,
having made several ineffectual searches for water, among the sandy
ridges, as we passed along.

In our route along the shore, we had seen immense numbers of fish in the
shallow waters, and among the reefs lying off the coast; several dead
ones had been picked up, and of these the boys made a feast at night. Our
last drop of water was consumed this evening, and we then all lay down to
rest, after turning the horses behind the first ridge of the coast, as we
could find no grass; and neither the overseer nor I were able to watch
them, being both too much worn out with the labours of the day, and our
exertions, in searching for water.

March 30.--Getting up as soon as the day dawned, I found that some of the
horses had crossed the sand ridge to the beach, and rambled some distance
backwards. I found, too, that in the dark, we had missed a patch of
tolerable grass among the scrub, not far from our camp. I regretted this
the more, as during the night a very heavy dew had fallen, and the horses
might perhaps have fed a little.

Leaving the overseer to search for those that had strayed, I took a
sponge, and went to try to collect some of the dew which was hanging in
spangles upon the grass and shrubs; brushing these with the sponge, I
squeezed it, when saturated, into a quart pot, which, in an hour's time,
I filled with water. The native boys were occupied in the same way; and
by using a handful of fine grass, instead of a sponge, they collected
about a quart among them. Having taken the water to the camp, and made it
into tea, we divided it amongst the party, and never was a meal more
truly relished, although we all ate the last morsel of bread we had with
us, and none knew when we might again enjoy either a drink of water, or a
mouthful of bread. We had now demonstrated the practicability of
collecting water from the dew. I had often heard from the natives that
they were in the habit of practising this plan, but had never before
actually witnessed its adoption. It was, however, very cold work, and
completely wet me through from head to foot, a greater quantity of water
by far having been shaken over me, from the bushes, than I was able to
collect with my sponge. The natives make use of a large oblong vessel of
bark, which they hold under the branches, whilst they brush them with a
little grass, as I did with the sponge; the water thus falls into the
trough held for it, and which, in consequence of the surface being so
much larger than the orifice of a quart pot, is proportionably sooner
filled. After the sun once rises, the spangles fall from the boughs, and
no more water can be collected; it is therefore necessary to be at work
very early, if success is an object of importance.

The morning was very hazy, and at first nothing could be seen of the
country before us; but as the mist gradually cleared away a long point
was seen to the south-west, but so very distant that I felt certain our
horses never would get there if it lay between us and the water. To our
astonishment they kept moving steadily along the beach, which was
tolerably firm near the sea, in which were many reefs and shelves of
rocks, covered with muscles below low water mark. As we progressed, it
was evident that the country was undergoing a considerable change; the
sea shore dunes and the ridges immediately behind them were now of a pure
white sand, and steep, whilst those further back were very high and
covered with low bushes. Upon ascending one of the latter I had a good
view around, and to my inexpressible pleasure and relief saw the high
drifts of sand we were looking for so anxiously, in the corner between us
and the more distant point of land first seen. The height of the
intervening ridges and the sand-drifts being in the angle prevented us
from noticing them sooner.

We had now travelled ten miles, and the sand-hills were about five miles
further. The horses were, however, becoming exhausted, and the day was so
hot that I was compelled to halt, and even now, in sight of our
long-expected goal, I feared we might be too late to save them. Leaving
the boys to attend to the animals, I took the overseer up one of the
ridges to reconnoitre the country for the purpose of ascertaining whether
there was no place near us where water might be procured by digging.
After a careful examination a hollow was selected between the two front
ridges of white sand, where the overseer thought it likely we might be
successful. The boys were called up to assist in digging, and the work
was anxiously commenced; our suspense increasing every moment as the well
was deepened. At about five feet the sand was observed to be quite moist,
and upon its being tasted was pronounced quite free from any saline
qualities. This was joyous news, but too good to be implicitly believed,
and though we all tasted it over and over again, we could scarcely
believe that such really was the case. By sinking another foot the
question was put beyond all doubt, and to our great relief fresh water
was obtained at a depth of six feet from the surface, on the seventh day
of our distress, and after we had travelled one hundred and sixty miles
since we had left the last water. Words would be inadequate to express
the joy and thankfulness of my little party at once more finding
ourselves in safety, and with abundance of water near us. A few hours
before hope itself seemed almost extinguished, and those only who have
been subjeet to a similar extremity of distress can have any just idea of
the relief we experienced. The mind seemed to have been weighed down by
intense anxiety and over-wrought feelings. At first the gloomy
restlessness of disappointment or the feverish impatience of hope had
operated upon our minds alternately, but these had long since given way
to that calm settled determination of purpose, and cool steady vigour of
action which desperate circumstances can alone inspire. Day by day our
prospects of success had gradually diminished; our horses had become
reduced to so dreadful a state that many had died, and all were likely to
do so soon; we ourselves were weak and exhausted by fatigue, and it
appeared impossible that either could have gone many miles further. In
this last extremity we had been relieved. That gracious God, without
whose assistance all hope of safety had been in vain, had heard our
earnest prayers for his aid, and I trust that in our deliverance we
recognized and acknowledged with sincerity and thankfulness his guiding
and protecting hand. It is in circumstances only such as we had lately
been placed in that the utter hopelessness of all human efforts is truly
felt, and it is when relieved from such a situation that the hand of a
directing and beneficent Being appears most plainly discernible,
fulfilling those gracious promises which he has made, to hear them that
call upon him in the day of trouble.

[Note 27: "When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and
their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of
Israel will not forsake them."

"I will open rivers in high places, and fountains
in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water."--Isa. xli. 17, 18.

"I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the
desert."--Isa. xliii. 19.]

As soon as each had satisfied his thirst the pots were filled and boiled
for tea, and some bread was baked, whilst the overseer and natives were
still increasing the size of the well to enable us to water the horses.
We then got a hasty meal that we might the better go through the fatigue
of attending to the suffering animals. Our utmost caution now became
necessary in their management; they had been seven days without a drop of
water, and almost without food also, and had suffered so much that with
abundance of water near us, and whilst they were suffering agonies from
the want of it, we dared not give it to them freely. Having tied them up
to some low bushes, we gave each in turn about four gallons, and then
driving them away for half a mile to where there was a little withered
grass, we watched them until the evening, and again gave each about four
gallons more of water.

Whilst thus engaged, a very fine looking native with his wife and family,
passed us and halted for a few moments to observe us, and procure a drink
from the well we had made. This man did not seem at all alarmed, and made
signs that he was going to sleep, a little further along the coast, where
there was also water, pointing to the white sandhills about five miles
from us. The language he spoke seemed to be the same as that of the other
natives we had met with along the Great Bight, nor did the King George's
Sound native understand him a bit better than he had done the others.

At night one of our two remaining sheep was killed, and the overseer and
myself proceeded to watch the horses for the night. The poor creatures
were scarcely able to crawl, yet were restless and uneasy, and fed but
little, they had tasted water and they were almost mad for it, so that it
was a severe task to both myself and the overseer to keep them from
returning to the well. The single sheep now left had also given us a good
deal of trouble, it was frightened at being alone, and frustrated all our
efforts to yard it, preferring to accompany and remain with the
horses,--an arrangement we were obliged to acquiesce in.

March 31.--The morning broke wild and lowering, and the sand blew
fearfully about from the drifts among which the water was. Our well had
tumbled in during the night, and we had to undergo considerable labour
before we could water the horses. After clearing it out, we gave each of
them seven gallons, and again sent them away to the grass, letting the
native boys watch them during the day, whilst we rested for a few hours,
shifted our camp to a more sheltered place, weighed out a week's
allowance of flour at half a pound each per day, and made sundry other
necessary arrangements.

Fearful of losing our only remaining sheep, if left to wander about, we
made a strong yard to put it into at nights, for a long time, however, we
could not get it to go near the yard, and only succeeded at last by
leading in a horse first, behind which it walked quite orderly.

April 1.--The last night had been bitterly cold and frosty, and as we
were badly clad, and without the means of making a large or permanent
fire, we all felt acutely the severity of the weather. After breakfast, I
left the overseer and natives to clear out the well, which had again
fallen in, and water the horses, whilst I walked five miles along the
beach to the westward, and then turned inland to examine the sand-drifts
there and search for grass. Behind the drifts I found some open sandy
plains, with a coarse kind of dry grass upon them, and as they were not
far from where the natives had dug wells for water, I thought the place
might suit us to encamp at for a time when we left our present position.
In returning to the camp, through the scrub behind the coast, I shot a
fine wallabie, and saw several others; but having only cartridges with
me, I did not like to cut up the balls for ammunition.

April 2.--Another severe cold frosty night made us fully sensible that
the winter was rapidly closing in upon us, notwithstanding the
ill-provided and unprotected state we were in to encounter its
inclemencies. Our well had again tumbled in, and gave us a good deal of
trouble, besides, each successive clearing out deepened it considerably,
and this took us to a level where the brackish water mixed with the
fresh; from this cause the water was now too brackish to be palatable,
and we sunk another well apart from that used for the horses, at which to
procure any water we required for our own use. During the afternoon I
shot a wallabie behind the camp, but the place being densely scrubby, and
the animal not quite dead, I did not get it.

On the 3rd, I sent the overseer out in one direction and I went myself
out in another, to examine the country and try to procure wallabies for
food. We both returned late, greatly fatigued with walking through dense
scrubs and over steep heavy sand ridges, but without having fired a shot.

Our mutton (excepting the last sheep) being all used on the 4th, we were
reduced to our daily allowance of half a pound of flour each, without any

On the 5th, the overseer and one of the native boys got ready to go back
for some of the stores and other things we had abandoned, forty-seven
miles away. As they were likely to have severe exercise, and to be away
for four days, I gave them five pounds extra of flour above their daily
allowance, together with the wallabie which I had shot, and which had not
yet been used; they drove before them three horses to carry their supply
of water, and bring back the things sent for.

As soon as they were gone, with the assistance of the two native boys who
were left, I removed the camp to the white sand-drifts, five miles
further west. Being anxious to keep as near to the grass as I could, I
commenced digging at some distance away from where the natives procured
their water, but at a place where there were a great many rushes. After
sinking to about seven feet, I found the soil as dry as ever, and
removing to the native wells, with some little trouble opened a hole
large enough to water all the horses. The single sheep gave us a great
deal of trouble and kept us running about from one sand hill to another,
until we were tired out, before we could capture it; at last we
succeeded, and I tied him up for the night, resolved never to let him
loose again.

In the evening I noticed the native boys looking more woe-begone and
hungry than usual. Heretofore, since our mutton was consumed, they had
helped out their daily half-pound of flour, with the roasted roots of the
gum-scrub, but to-day they had been too busy to get any, and I was
obliged to give to each a piece of bread beyond the regular allowance. It
was pitiable to see them craving for food, and not to have the power of
satisfying them; they were young and had large appetites, and never
having been accustomed to any restraint of this nature, scarcity of food
was the more sensibly felt, especially as they could not comprehend the
necessity that compelled us to hoard with greater care than a miser does
his gold, the little stock of provisions which we yet had left.

April 6.--The severe frost and intense cold of last night entirely
deprived me of sleep, and I was glad when the daylight broke, though
still weary and unrefreshed. After clearing out the well, and watering
the horses, I sent one of the boys out to watch them, and gave the other
the gun to try and shoot a wallabie, but after expending the only two
charges of slugs I had left, he returned unsuccessful. At night we all
made up our supper with the bark of the young roots of the gum-scrub. It
appears to be extensively used for food by the natives in this district,
judging from the remnants left at their encamping places. The bark is
peeled off the young roots of the eucalyptus dumosa, put into hot ashes
until nearly crisp, and then the dust being shaken off, it is pounded
between two stones and ready for use. Upon being chewed, a farinaceous
powder is imbibed from between the fibres of the bark, by no means
unpleasant in flavour, but rather sweet, and resembling the taste of
malt; how far a person could live upon this diet alone, I have no means
of judging, but it certainly appeases the appetite, and is, I should
suppose, nutritious.

April 7.--Another sleepless night from the intense cold. Upon getting up
I put a mark upon the beach to guide the overseer to our camp on his
return, then weighed out flour and baked bread for the party, as I found
it lasted much better when used stale than fresh. I tried to shoot some
pigeons with small gravel, having plenty of powder but no shot. My
efforts were, however, in vain, for though I several times knocked them
over, and tore feathers out, I killed none. The day being very clear, I
ascended the highest sand-hill to obtain a view of what had appeared to
us to be a long point of land, stretching to the south-west. It was now
clearly recognisable as the high level line of cliffs forming the western
boundary of the Great Bight, and I at once knew, that when we left our
present position, we could hope for no water for at least 140 or 150
miles beyond.

The weather on the 8th and 9th suddenly became mild and soft, with the
appearance of rain, but none fell. I was becoming anxious about the
return of my overseer and native boy, who had been absent nine tides,
when they ought to have returned in eight, and I could not help fearing
some mischance had befallen them, and frequently went back wards and
forwards to the beach, to look for them. The tenth tide found me
anxiously at my post on the look out, and after watching for a long time
I thought I discerned some dark objects in the distance, slowly
advancing; gradually I made out a single horse, driven by two people, and
at once descended to meet them. Their dismal tale was soon told. After
leaving us on the 5th, they reached their destination on the 7th; but in
returning one of the horses became blind, and was too weak to advance
further, when they had barely advanced thirteen miles; they were
consequently obliged to abandon him, and leave behind the things he had
been carrying. With the other two horses they got to within five miles of
the place we first procured water at on the 30th March. Here a second
horse had become unable to proceed, and the things he had carried were
also obliged to be left behind. They then got both horses to the first
well at the sand-hills and watered them, and after resting a couple of
hours came on to join me. Short as this distance was, the jaded horse
could not travel it, and was left behind a mile and a half back. Having
shewn the overseer and boy the camp, I sent the other two natives to
fetch up the tired horse, whilst I attended to the other, and put the
solitary sheep in for the night. By a little after dark all was arranged,
and the horse that had been left behind once more with the others.

From the overseer I learnt, that during the fifty miles he had retraced
our route to obtain the provisions we had left, he had five times dug for
water: four times he had found salt water, and once he had been stopped
by rock. The last effort of this kind he had made not far from where we
found water on the 30th of March, and I could not but be struck with the
singular and providential circumstance of our first halting and
attempting to dig for water on that day in all our distress, at the very
first place, and at the only place, within the 160 miles we had
traversed, where water could have been procured. It will be remembered,
that in our advance, we had travelled a great part of the latter portion
of this distance by night, and that thus there was a probability of our
having passed unknowingly some place where water might have been
procured. The overseer had now travelled over the same ground in
daylight, with renovated strength, and in a condition comparatively
strong, and fresh for exertion. He had dug wherever he thought there was
a chance of procuring water, but without success in any one single

After learning all the particulars of the late unlucky journey, I found
that a great part of the things I had sent for were still thirty-eight
miles back, having only been brought twelve miles from where they had
originally been left; the rest of the things were ten miles away, and as
nearly all our provisions, and many other indispensable articles were
among them, it became absolutely necessary that they should be recovered
in some way or other, but how that was to be accomplished was a question
which we could not so easily determine. Our horses were quite unfit for
service of any kind, and the late unfortunate attempt had but added to
the difficulties by which we were surrounded, and inflicted upon us the
additional loss of another valuable animal. Many and anxious were the
hours I spent in contemplating the circumstances we were in, and in
revolving in my mind the best means at our command to extricate ourselves
from so perilous a situation. We were still 650 miles from King George's
Sound, with an entirely unknown country before us. Our provisions, when
again recovered, would be barely sufficient to last us for three weeks
and a half, at a very reduced rate of allowance. Our horses were jaded
and miserable beyond all conception; they could literally scarcely crawl,
and it was evident they would be unable to move on again at all without
many days' rest where we were. On the other hand we had still the
prospect of another of those fearful pushes without water to encounter,
as soon as we left our present encampment, and had first to recover the
provisions and other things yet so far away. Nothing could be more
disheartening than our situation, and it was also one in which it was
difficult to decide what was best to be done. Aware that a single false
step would now be fatal to us all, I saw that our circumstances required
promptness and decision. With every thing depending upon my sole
judgment, and the determination I arrived at, I felt deeply and anxiously
the over-whelming responsibility that devolved upon me.

We were now about half way between Fowler's Bay and King George's Sound,
located among barren sand-drifts, and without a drop of water beyond us
on either side, within a less distance than 150 miles. Our provisions
were rapidly decreasing, whilst we were lying idle and inactive in camp;
and yet it would be absolutely necessary for us thus to remain for some
time longer, or at once abandon the horses, and endeavour to make our way
without them. To the latter, however, there were many objections, one of
which was, that I well knew from the experience we had already had, that
if we abandoned the horses, and had those fearful long distances to
travel without water, we never could accomplish them on foot, if
compelled at the same time to live upon a very low diet, to carry our
arms, ammunition, and provisions, and in addition to these, a stock of
water, sufficient to last six or seven days. The only thing that had
enabled us to get through so far on our journey in safety, had been the
having the horses with us, for though weak and jaded, they had yet
carried the few things, which were indispensable to us, and which we
never could have carried ourselves under the circumstances.

There was another inducement to continue with the horses, which had
considerable weight with me, and however revolting the idea might be at
first, it was a resource which I foresaw the desperate circumstances we
were in must soon compel us to adopt. It was certainly horrible to
contemplate the destruction of the noble animals that had accompanied us
so far, but ere long I well knew that such would be the only chance of
saving our own lives, and I hoped that by accustoming the mind to dwell
upon the subject beforehand, when the evil hour did arrive, the horror
and disgust would be in some degree lessened. Upon consulting the
overseer, I was glad to find that he agreed with me fully in the
expediency of not abandoning the horses until it became unavoidable, and
that he had himself already contemplated the probability of our being
very shortly reduced to the alternative of using them for food.

It remained now only to decide, which way we would go when we agan moved
on, whether to prosecute our journey to the Sound, or try to retrace our
steps to Fowler's Bay. On this point my own opinion never wavered for an
instant. My conviction of the utter impossibility of our ever being able
to recross the fearful country we had passed through with such
difficulty, under circumstances so much more favourable than we were now
in, was so strong that I never for a moment entertained the idea myself.
I knew the many and frightful pushes without water we should have to make
in any such attempt, and though the country before us was unknown, it
could not well be worse than that we had passed through, whilst the
probability was, that after the first long stage was accomplished, and
which would take us beyond the western boundary of the Great Bight, we
should experience a change in the character of the country, and be able
to advance with comparative ease and facility. Unhappily my overseer
differed from me in opinion upon this point.

The last desperate march we had made, had produced so strong an
impression upon his mind, that he could not divest himself of the idea
that the further we went to the westward the more arid the country would
be found, and that eventually we should all perish from want of water; on
the other hand, the very reduced allowance of food we were compelled to
limit ourselves to, made his thoughts always turn to the depot at
Fowler's Bay, where we had buried a large supply of provisions of all
kinds. In vain I pointed out to him the certain difficulties we must
encounter in any attempt to return, the little probability there was of a
single horse surviving even the first of those dreadful stages we should
have to make, and the utter impossibility of our getting successfully
through without the horses; and, on the other hand, the very cheering
prospect there was of all our most serious difficulties being terminated
as soon as we had turned the western extremity of the Bight (to
accomplish which, would not occupy more than six or seven days at the
furthest when we moved on,) and the strong hopes that we might then
reasonably entertain of falling in with some vessel, sealing or whaling
upon the coast, and from which we might obtain a fresh supply of
provisions. All my arguments were fruitless. With the characteristic
obedience and fidelity with which he had ever served me, he readily
acquiesced in any plan I might decide upon adopting; but I perceived,
with pain, that I could not convince him that the view I took was the
proper one, and that the plan I intended to follow was the only one which
held out to us even the remotest hopes of eventual safety and success.

Finding that I made little progress in removing his doubts on the
question of our advance, I resolved to pursue the subject no further,
until the time for decision came, hoping that in the interim, his
opinions and feelings might in some degree be modified, and that he might
then accompany me cheerfully. The important and pressing duty of
recovering at once the stores we had left behind, now claimed my
attention. The overseer, with his usual anxiety to save me from any extra
labour, kindly offered to attempt this object again; but as he had just
returned from a severe, though unfortunately unsuccessful journey for the
same purpose, I decided upon doing it myself, and at once made my
preparations for leaving the camp.

Chapter XVIII.


April 10.--FOUR days' provisions having been given to each of the party,
I took the King George's Sound native with me to retrace, on foot, our
route to the eastward. For the first ten miles I was accompanied by one
of the other native boys, leading a horse to carry a little water for us,
and take back the stores the overseer had buried at that point, when the
second horse knocked up with him on the morning of the 9th. Having found
the things, and put them on the horse, I sent the boy with them back to
the camp, together with a large sting-ray fish which he had speared in
the surf near the shore. It was a large, coarse, ugly-looking thing, but
as it seemed to be of the same family as the skate, I did not imagine we
should run any risk in eating it. In other respects, circumstances had
broken through many scruples and prejudices, and we were by no means
particular as to what the fish might be, if it were eatable.

Having buried our little keg of water until our return, the King George's
Sound native and myself pushed on for five miles further, and then halted
for the night, after a day's journey of fifteen miles. We now cooked some
sting-ray fish (for the native with me had speared a second one,) and
though it was coarse and dry, our appetites had been sharpened by our
walk, and we thought it far from being unpalatable.

April 11.--Moving away long before daylight, we pushed steadily on, and
about dusk arrived, after a stage of twenty-three miles, at the place
where our stores were. I found a much greater weight here than I
expected, and feared it would be quite impossible for us to carry the
whole away. By the light of the fire, I threw out saddles, clothes,
oil-skins, etc. that we did not absolutely require, and packing up the
remainder, weighed a bundle of thirty-two pounds for myself to carry, and
one of twenty-two for the native, who also had a gun to take. Our
arrangements being completed for the morrow, we enjoyed our supper of
sting-ray, and lay down for the night.

April 12.--To-day the weather was cloudy and sultry, and we found it very
oppressive carrying the weight we had with us, especially as we had no
water. By steady perseverance, we gained the place where our little keg
had been buried; and having refreshed ourselves with a little tea, again
pushed on for a few miles to a place where I had appointed the overseer
to send a native to meet us with water. He was already there, and we all
encamped together for the night, soon forgetting, in refreshing sleep,
the fatigues and labours of the day.

The 13th was a dark cloudy day, with light rains in the morning. About
noon we arrived at the camp, after having walked seventy-six miles in the
last three days and a half, during great part of which, we had carried
heavy weights. We had, however, successfully accomplished the object for
which we had gone, and had now anxieties only for our future progress,
the provisions and other stores being all safely recovered.

During my absence, I had requested the overseer to bake some bread, in
order that it might be tolerably stale before we used it. To my regret
and annoyance, I found that he had baked one third of our whole supply,
so that it would be necessary to use more than our stated allowance, or
else to let it spoil. It was the more vexing, to think that in this case
the provisions had been so improvidently expended, from the fact of our
having plenty of the sting-ray fish, and not requiring so much bread.

April 14.--Early this morning I sent the overseer, and one of the native
boys, with three days' provision to the commencement of the cliffs to the
westward, visible from the sand-hills near our camp, in order that they
might ascertain the exact distance they were from us, and whether any
grass or water could be procured nearer to their base than where we were.
After their departure, I attended to the horses, and then amused myself
preparing some fishing lines to set off the shore, with a large stone as
an anchor, and a small keg for a buoy. The day was, however, wild and
boisterous; and in my attempts to get through the surf, to set the lines,
I was thrown down, together with the large stone I was carrying, and my
leg severely cut and bruised. The weather was extremely cold, too, and
being without coat or jacket of any kind, I suffered severely from it.

The 15th was another cold day, with the wind at south-west, and we could
neither set the lines, nor spear sting-ray, whilst the supply we had
before obtained was now nearly exhausted. One of the horses was taken
ill, and unable to rise, from the effects of the cold; his limbs were
cramped and stiff, and apparently unable to sustain the weight of his
body. After plucking dry grass, and making a bed for him, placing a
breakwind of boughs round, and making a fire near him, we left him for
the night.

Late in the evening, the overseer and boy returned from the westward, and
reported, that the cliffs were sixteen miles away; that they had dug for
water, but that none could be found, and that there was hardly a blade of
grass any where, whilst the whole region around was becoming densely
scrubby; through much of which we should have to pass before we reached
the cliffs. Altogether, the overseer seemed quite discouraged by the
appearance of the country, and to dread the idea of moving on in that
direction, often saying, that he wished he was back, and that he thought
he could retrace his steps to Fowler's Bay, where a supply of provisions
had been buried. I was vexed at these remarks, because I felt that I
could not coincide in them, and because I knew that when the moment for
decision came, my past experience, and the strong reasons which had
produced in my own mind quite a different conviction, would compel me to
act in opposition to the wishes of the only European with me, and he a
person, too, whom I sincerely respected for the fidelity and devotion
with which he had followed me through all my wanderings. I was afraid,
too, that the native boys, hearing his remarks, and perceiving that he
had no confidence in our future movements, would catch up the same idea,
and that, in addition to the other difficulties and anxieties I had to
cope with, would be the still more frightful one of disaffection and
discontent. Another subject of uneasiness arose from the nature of our
diet;--for some few days we had all been using a good deal of the
sting-ray fish, and though at first we had found it palatable, either
from confining ourselves too exclusively to it, or from eating too much,
it had latterly disagreed with us. The overseer declared it made him ill
and weak, and that he could do nothing whilst living upon it. The boys
said the same; and yet we had nothing else to supply its place, and the
small quantity of flour left would not admit of our using more than was
barely necessary to sustain life. At this time we had hardly any fish
left, and the whole party were ravenously hungry. In this dilemma, I
determined to have the sick horse killed for food. It was impossible he
could ever recover, and by depriving him of life a few hours sooner than
the natural course of events would have done, we should be enabled to get
a supply of food to last us over a few days more, by which time I hoped
we might again be able to venture on, and attempt another push to the

Early on the morning of the 16th, I sent the overseer to kill the
unfortunate horse, which was still alive, but unable to rise from the
ground, having never moved from the place where he had first been found
lying yesterday morning. The miserable animal was in the most wretched
state possible, thin and emaciated by dreadful and long continued
sufferings, and labouring under some complaint, that in a very few hours
at the farthest, must have terminated its life.

After a great portion of the meat had been cut off from the carcase, in
thin slices, they were dipped in salt water and hung up upon strings to
dry in the sun. I could not bring myself to eat any to-day, so horrible
and revolting did it appear to me, but the overseer made a hearty dinner,
and the native boys gorged themselves to excess, remaining the whole
afternoon by the carcase, where they made a fire, cutting off and
roasting such portions as had been left. They looked like ravenous wolves
about their prey, and when they returned to the camp at night, they were
loaded with as much cooked meat as they could carry, and which they were
continually eating during the night; I made a meal upon some of the
sting-ray that was still left, but it made me dreadfully sick, and I was
obliged to lie down, seriously ill.

April 17.--Being rather better to-day, I was obliged to overcome my
repugnance to the disagreeable food we were compelled to resort to, and
the ice once broken, I found that although it was far from being
palatable, I could gradually reconcile myself to it. The boys after
breakfast again went down to the carcase, and spent the whole day
roasting and eating, and at night they again returned to the camp loaded.
We turned all the meat upon the strings and redipped it in sea water
again to-day, but the weather was unfavourable for drying it, being cold
and damp. Both yesterday and to-day light showers fell sufficient to
moisten the grass.

April 18.--The day being much warmer, many large flies were about, and I
was obliged to have a fire kept constantly around the meat, to keep them
away by the smoke. I now put the natives upon an allowance of five pounds
of flesh each per day, myself and the overseer using about half that

On the 19th, I sent out one of the boys to try and get a sting-ray to
vary our diet, but he returned unsuccessful. During the forenoon I was
seized with a violent attack of dysentery, accompanied with diabetes,
from which I suffered extremely. The overseer was affected also, but in a
less violent degree. The origin of this complaint was plainly traceable
to the food we had used for the last day or two; it rendered us both
incapable of the least exertion of any kind, whilst the disorder
continued, and afterwards left us very languid and weak. In the evening
upon examining the meat, a great deal of it was found to be getting
putrid, or fly-blown, and we were obliged to pick it over, and throw what
was tainted away.

April 20.--To-day I had all the meat boiled, as I thought it would keep
better cooked than raw, we had only a small tin saucepan without a
handle, to effect our cooking operations with, and the preparation of the
meat therefore occupied the whole of the day. The overseer was again
attacked with dysentery. At night the clouds gathered heavily around, and
the weather being mild and soft, I fully expected rain; after dark,
however, the wind rose high and the threatened storm passed away.

On the 21st, I was seized again with illness. The overseer continued to
be affected also, and we were quite unable to make the necessary
preparations for our journey to the westward, which I fully intended to
have commenced to-morrow. For several hours we were in the greatest
agony, and could neither lie down, sit up, nor stand, except with extreme
pain. Towards the afternoon the violence of the symptoms abated a little,
but we were exceedingly weak.

April 22.--Upon weighing the meat this morning, which as usual was left
out upon the strings at night, I discovered that four pounds had been
stolen by some of the boys, whilst we were sleeping. I had suspected that
our stock was diminishing rapidly for a day or two past, and had weighed
it overnight that I might ascertain this point, and if it were so, take
some means to prevent it for the future. With so little food to depend
upon, and where it was so completely in the power of any one of the
party, to gratify his own appetite at the expense of the others, during
their absence, or when they slept, it became highly necessary to enforce
strict honesty towards each other; I was much grieved to find that the
meat had been taken by the natives, more particularly as their daily
allowance had been so great. We had, moreover, only two days' supply of
the meat left for the party, and being about to commence the long journey
before us, it was important to economise our provisions to support us
under the fatigue and labours we should then have to undergo.

Having deducted the four pounds stolen during the night, from the daily
rations of the three boys, I gave them the remainder, (eight pounds)
telling them the reason why their quantity was less to-day than usual,
and asking them to point out the thief, who alone should be punished and
the others would receive their usual rations. The youngest of the three
boys, and the King George's Sound native, resolutely denied being
concerned in the robbery; but the other native doggedly refused to answer
any questions about it, only telling me that he and the native from King
George's Sound would leave me and make their way by themselves. I pointed
out to them the folly, in fact the impossibility almost, of their
succeeding in any attempt of the kind; advised them to remain quietly
where they were, and behave well for the future, but concluded by telling
them that if they were bent upon going they might do so, as I would not
attempt to stop them.

For some time past the two eldest of the boys, both of whom were now
nearly grown up to manhood, had been far from obedient in their general
conduct. Ever since we had been reduced to a low scale of diet they had
been sulky and discontented, never assisting in the routine of the day,
or doing what they were requested to do with that cheerfulness and
alacrity that they had previously exhibited. Unaccustomed to impose the
least restraint upon their appetites or passions, they considered it a
hardship to be obliged to walk as long as any horses were left alive,
though they saw those horses falling behind and perishing from fatigue;
they considered it a hardship, too, to be curtailed in their allowance of
food, as long as a mouthful was left unconsumed; and in addition to this,
they had imbibed the overseer's idea that we never should succeed in our
attempt to get to the westward, and got daily more dissatisfied at
remaining idle in camp, whilst the horses were recruiting.

The excess of animal food they had had at their command for some few days
after the horse was killed, made them forget their former scarcity, and
in their folly they imagined that they could supply their own wants, and
get on better and more rapidly than we did, and they determined to
attempt it. Vexed as I had been at finding out they had not scrupled to
plunder the small stock of provisions we had left, I was loth to let them
leave me foolishly without making an effort to prevent it. One of them
had been with me a great length of time, and the other I had brought from
his country and his friends, and to both I felt bound by ties of humanity
to prevent if possible their taking the rash step they meditated; my
remonstrances and expostulations were however in vain, and after getting
their breakfasts, they took up some spears they had been carefully
preparing for the last two days, and walked sulkily from the camp in a
westerly direction. The youngest boy had, it seemed, also been enticed to
join them, for he was getting up with the intention of following, when I
called him back and detained him in the camp, as he was too young to know
what he was doing, and had only been led astray by the others. I had
intended to have moved on myself to-day, but the departure of the natives
made me change my intention, for I deemed it desirable that they should
have at least three or four days start of us. Finding that the single
sheep we had left would now be the cause of a good deal of trouble, I had
it killed this afternoon, that we might have the full advantage of it
whilst we had plenty of water, and might be enabled to hoard our bread a
little. We had still a little of the horse-flesh left, and made a point
of using it all up before the mutton was allowed to be touched.

The morning of the 23rd broke cool and cloudy, with showers gathering
from seawards; the wind was south-west, and the sky wild and lowering in
that direction. During the forenoon light rain fell, but scarcely more
than sufficient to moisten the grass; it would, however, probably afford
our deserters a drink upon the cliffs. Towards evening the sky cleared,
and the weather became frosty.

On the following day we still remained in camp, hoping for rain;--a
single heavy shower would so completely have freed us from the danger of
attempting to force a passage through the great extent of arid country
before us, that I was unwilling to move on until the very last moment.
Our rations were however rapidly disappearing whilst we were idling in
camp, the horse-flesh was all consumed, and to-day we had commenced upon
the mutton, so that soon we should be compelled to go, whether it rained
or not. Month after month however had passed away without any fall of
rain, and the season had now arrived when, under ordinary circumstances,
much wet might be expected; and though each day, as it passed without
gratifying our hopes, but added to our disappointment, yet did every hour
we lingered give us a better chance of being relieved by showers in our
route round the last cliffs of the Bight. The evening set in mild but
close, with the wind at north-east, and I had great hopes that showers
would fall.

April 25.--During the night dense clouds, accompanied by gusts of wind
and forked lightning, passed rapidly to the south-west, and this morning
the wind changed to that quarter. Heavy storms gathered to seawards with
much thunder and lightning, but no rain fell near us; the sea appearing
to attract all the showers. The overseer shot a very large eagle to-day
and made a stew of it, which was excellent. I sent the boy out to try and
shoot a wallabie, but he returned without one.

In the evening, a little before dark, and just as we had finished our
tea, to my great astonishment our two runaway natives made their
appearance, the King George's Sound native being first. He came frankly
up, and said that they were both sorry for what they had done, and were
anxious to be received again, as they found they could get nothing to eat
for themselves. The other boy sat silently and sullenly at the fire,
apparently more chagrined at being compelled by necessity to come back to
us than sorry for having gone away. Having given them a lecture, for they
both now admitted having stolen meat, not only on the night they were
detected but previously, I gave each some tea and some bread and meat,
and told them if they behaved well they would be treated in every respect
as before, and share with us our little stock of provisions as long as it

I now learnt that they had fared in the bush but little better than I
should have done myself. They had been absent four days, and had come
home nearly starved. For the first two days they got only two small
bandicoots and found no water; they then turned back, and obtaining a
little water in a hollow of the cliffs, left by the shower which had
passed over, they halted under them to fish, and speared a sting-ray;
this they had feasted on yesterday, and to-day came from the cliffs to
look for us without any thing to eat at all.

During the night some heavy clouds passed over our heads, and once a drop
or two of rain fell. The 26th broke wild and stormy to the east and west,
and I determined to remain one day longer in camp, in the hope of rain
falling, but principally to rest the two natives a little after the long
walk from which they had returned. Breakfast being over, I sent the
overseer and one native to the beach, to try to get a sting-ray, and to
the other I gave my gun to shoot wallabie: no fish was procured, but one
wallabie was got, half of which I gave to the native who killed it, for
his dinner.

Being determined to break up camp on the 27th, I sent the King George's
Sound native on a-head, as soon as he had breakfasted, that, by preceding
the party, he might have time to spear a sting-ray against we overtook
him. The day was dull, cloudy, and warm, and still looking likely for
rain, with the wind at north-east. At eleven we were ready, and moved
away from a place where we had experienced so much relief in our
extremity, and at which our necessities had compelled us to remain so
long. For twenty-eight days we had been encamped at the sand-drifts, or
at the first water we had found, five miles from them. Daily, almost
hourly, had the sky threatened rain, and yet none fell. We had now
entered upon the last fearful push, which was to decide our fate. This
one stretch of bad country crossed, I felt a conviction we should be
safe. That we had at least 150 miles to go to the next water I was fully
assured of; I was equally satisfied that our horses were by no means in a
condition to encounter the hardships and privations they must meet with
in such a journey; for though they had had a long rest, and in some
degree recovered from their former tired-out condition, they had not
picked up in flesh or regained their spirits; the sapless, withered state
of the grass and the severe cold of the nights had prevented them from
deriving the advantage that they ought to have done from so long a
respite from labour. Still I hoped we might be successful. We had
lingered day by day, until it would have been folly to have waited
longer; the rubicon was, however, now passed, and we had nothing to rely
upon but our own exertions and perseverance, humbly trusting that the
great and merciful God who had hitherto guarded and guidedus in safety
would not desert us now.

Upon leaving the camp we left behind one carbine, a spade, some horse
hobbles, and a few small articles, to diminish as much as possible the
weight we had to carry. For eight miles we traced round the beach to the
most north-westerly angle of the Bight, and for two miles down its
south-west shore, but were then compelled by the rocks to travel to the
back, through heavy scrubby ridges for four miles; after which we again
got in to the beach, and at one mile along its shore, or fifteen miles
from our camp, we halted for the night, at a patch of old grass. The
afternoon had been hot, but the night set in cold and clear, and all
appearance of rain was gone. The native I had sent on before had not
succeeded in getting a fish, though he had broken one or two spears in
his attempts.

April 28.--After travelling along the beach for two miles we ascended
behind the cliffs, which now came in bluff to the sea, and then keeping
along their summits, nearly parallel with the coast, and passing through
much scrub, low brushwood, and dwarf tea-tree growing upon the rocky
surface, we made a stage of twenty miles; both ourselves and the horses
greatly tired with walking through the matted scrub of tea-tree every
where covering the ground. The cliffs did not appear so high as those we
had formerly passed along, and probably did not exceed from two to three
hundred feet in elevation. They appeared to be of the same geological
formation; the upper crust an oolitic limestone, with many shells
embedded, below that a coarse, hard, grey limestone, and then alternate
streaks of white and yellow in horizontal strata, but which the steepness
of the cliffs prevented my going down to examine.

Back from the sea, the country was rugged and stony, and every where
covered with scrub or dwarf tea-tree. There was very little grass for the
horses, and that old and withered. In the morning one of the natives shot
a large wallabie, and this evening the three had it amongst them for
supper; after which they took charge of the horses for the night, this
being the first time they had ever watched them on the journey, myself
and the overseer having exclusively performed this duty heretofore; but,
as I was now expecting a longer and almost more arduous push than any we
had yet made, and in order that we might be able to discharge efficiently
the duties devolving upon us, and make those exertions which our
exigences might require, I deemed it only right that we should sometimes
be assisted by the two elder boys, in a task which we had before always
found to be the most disagreeable and fagging of any, that of watching
the horses at night, after a long and tiring day's journey.

On the morning of the 29th we moved away very early, passing over a rocky
level country, covered with low brush, and very fatiguing to both
ourselves and our horses. The morning was gloomy and close, and the day
turned out intensely hot. After travelling only fifteen miles we were
compelled to halt until the greatest heat was passed. Our stock of water
and provisions only admitted of our making two meals in the day,
breakfast and supper; but as I intended this evening to travel great part
of the night, we each made our meal now instead of later in the day, that
we might not be delayed when the cool of the evening set in. We had been
travelling along the summit of the cliffs parallel with the coast line,
and had found the country level and uniform in its character; the cliffs
still being from two to three hundred feet in elevation, and of the same
formation as I noticed before. There were patches of grass scattered
among the scrub at intervals, but all were old and withered.

At four in the afternoon we again proceeded on our journey, but had not
gone far before the sky unexpectedly became overcast with clouds, and the
whole heavens assumed a menacing and threatening appearance. To the east
and to the west, thunderclouds gathered heavily around, every indication
of sudden and violent rain was present to cheer us as we advanced, and
all were rejoicing in the prospects of a speedy termination to our
difficulties. The wind had in the morning been north-east, gradually
veering round to north and north-west, at which point it was stationary
when the clouds began to gather. Towards sunset a heavy storm passed over
our heads, with the rapidity almost of lightning; the wind suddenly
shifted from north-west to south-west, blowing a perfect hurricane, and
rendering it almost impossible for us to advance against it. A few
moments before we had confidently expected a heavy fall of rain; the dark
and lowering sky had gradually gathered and concentrated above and around
us, until the very heavens seemed overweighted and ready every instant to
burst. A briefer interval of time, accompanied by the sudden and violent
change of wind, had dashed our hopes to the ground, and the prospect of
rain was now over, although a few heavy clouds still hung around us.

Three miles from where we had halted during the heat of the day, we
passed some tolerable grass, though dry, scattered at intervals among the
scrub, which grew here in dense belts, but with occasional openings
between. The character of the ground was very rocky, of an oolitic
limestone, and having many hollows on its surface. Although we had only
travelled eighteen miles during the day, the overseer requested I would
stop here, as he said he thought the clouds would again gather, and that
rain might fall to-night; that here we had large sheets of rock, and many
hollows in which the rain-water could be collected; but that if we
proceeded onwards we might again advance into a sandy country, and be
unable to derive any advantage from the rain, even should it fall. I
intended to have travelled nearly the whole of this night to make up for
the time we had lost in the heat of the day, and I was the more inclined
to do this, now that the violence of the storm had in some measure
abated, and the appearance of rain had almost disappeared. The overseer
was so earnest, however, and so anxious for me to stop for the night,
that greatly against my own wishes, and in opposition to my better
judgment, I gave way to him and yielded. The native boys too had made the
same request, seconding the overseer's application, and stating, that the
violence of the wind made it difficult for them to walk against it.

The horses having been all hobbled and turned out to feed, the whole
party proceeded to make break-winds of boughs to form a shelter from the
wind, preparatory to laying down for the night. We had taken a meal in
the middle of the day, which ought to have been deferred until night, and
our circumstances did not admit of our having another now, so that there
remained only to arrange the watching of the horses, before going to
sleep. The native boys had watched them last night, and this duty of
course fell to myself and the overseer this evening. The first watch was
from six o'clock P. M. to eleven, the second from eleven until four A.
M., at which hour the whole party usually arose and made preparations for
moving on with the first streak of daylight.

To-night the overseer asked me which of the watches I would keep, and as
I was not sleepy, though tired, I chose the first. At a quarter before
six, I went to take charge of the horses, having previously seen the
overseer and the natives lay down to sleep, at their respective
break-winds, ten or twelve yards apart from one another. The arms and
provisions, as was our custom, were piled up under an oilskin, between my
break-wind and that of the overseer, with the exception of one gun, which
I always kept at my own sleeping place. I have been thus minute in
detailing the position and arrangement of our encampment this evening,
because of the fearful consequences that followed, and to shew the very
slight circumstances upon which the destinies of life sometimes hinge.
Trifling as the arrangement of the watches might seem, and unimportant as
I thought it at the time, whether I undertook the first or the second,
yet was my choice, in this respect, the means under God's providence of
my life being saved, and the cause of the loss of that of my overseer.

The night was cold, and the wind blowing hard from the south-west, whilst
scud and nimbus were passing very rapidly by the moon. The horses fed
tolerably well, but rambled a good deal, threading in and out among the
many belts of scrub which intersected the grassy openings, until at last
I hardly knew exactly where our camp was, the fires having apparently
expired some time ago. It was now half past ten, and I headed the horses
back, in the direction in which I thought the camp lay, that I might be
ready to call the overseer to relieve me at eleven. Whilst thus engaged,
and looking steadfastly around among the scrub, to see if I could
anywhere detect the embers of our fires, I was startled by a sudden
flash, followed by the report of a gun, not a quarter of a mile away from
me. Imagining that the overseer had mistaken the hour of the night, and
not being able to find me or the horses, had taken that method to attract
my attention, I immediately called out, but as no answer was returned, I
got alarmed, and leaving the horses, hurried up towards the camp as
rapidly as I could. About a hundred yards from it, I met the King
George's Sound native (Wylie), running towards me, and in great alarm,
crying out, "Oh Massa, oh Massa, come here,"--but could gain no
information from him, as to what had occurred. Upon reaching the
encampment, which I did in about five minutes after the shot was fired, I
was horror-struck to find my poor overseer lying on the ground, weltering
in his blood, and in the last agonies of death.



I. It was formerly believed, that all the Mammalia inhabiting the
Australian continent, but the wild dog, were marsupial; but as the
natural history of the country is better known, we are becoming
acquainted with nearly as many native non-marsupial beasts as there are
marsupial; but they are certainly, generally, of a small size, such as
bats, mice, etc., as compared to the kangaroos and other marsupial genera.

Some years ago, in the Proceedings of the Geological Society, (iii. 52.)
I described a species of RHINOLOPHUS, from Moreton Bay, which was
peculiar for the large size of its ears, hence named R. MEGAPHYLLUS; the
one now about to be described, which was found flying near the hospital
at Port Essington, by Dr. Sibbald, R.N., is as peculiar for the
brightness and beauty of its colour, the male being nearly as bright an
orange as the Cock of the rock (RUPICOLA) of South America.

moderate, naked, rather pointed at the end; nose-leaf large, central
process small, scarcely lobed, blunt at the top; fur elongate, soft,
bright orange, the hairs of the back with short brown tips, of the under
side rather paler, of the face rather darker; female pale yellow, with
brown tips to the hair of the upper parts.

Inhab. Port Essington, near the Hospital, Dr. Sibbald, R.N.

The membranes are brown, nakedish; the tail is rather produced beyond the
membrane at the tip; the feet are small, and quite free from the wings.

                                    Male. Female.
The length of the body and head     1.10   1.10
The length of the fore-arm bone     1.11   1.10
The length of the shin-bone         8      8
The length of the ankle and foot    4      4

II. In Captain Grey's Travels in Western Australia I gave a list of the
different species of Reptiles and Amphibia found in Australia. Since that
period the British Museum has received from the different travellers
various other species from that country. The lizards have been described
in the catalogue of the Museum collection, recently published, and are
being figured in the zoology of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror. Two of the most
interesting specimens lately received, belong to a new genus of frogs
which appear to be peculiar to Australia, which I shall now proceed to

GENUS PERIALIA. FAM. RANIDAE.--Tongue nearly circular, entire; palate
concave, with two groups of palatine teeth between the orifices of the
internal nostrils; jaw toothed; head smooth, high on the side; mouth
large; eyes convex, swollen above, tympanum scarcely visible; back rather
convex, high on the sides; skin smooth, not porous; limbs rather short;
toes 4.5, tapering to a point, nearly free, the palms with roundish
tubercles beneath; the fourth hind toe elongate, the rest rather short;
the ankle with an oblong, compressed, horny, sharp-edged tubercle on the
inner side at the base of the inner toe; the male with an internal vocal
sac under the throat.

This genus agrees with SCIAPHOS, PYXICEPHALUS, and PELOLATES, in having a
large, sharp-edged tubercle on the inner edge of the ankle, but it
differs from them at first sight, by the head and body being compressed
and high, the mouth very large, and the eyes convex on the side of the

PERIALIA EYREI, t. 2. f. 3.--Olive, sides of the face, and body blackish
brown; face varies with white streak; the sides of body marbled with
unequal white spots; limbs brown and white marbled; under side of the
body whitish.

Inhab. Australia, on the banks of the river Murray.

PERIALIA? ORNATA, t. 2. f. 2.--Pale grey, back and sides, marbled with
symmetrical dark-edged spots, those of the middle of the back being
generally confluent, of the face elongate, band-like; the legs
dark-banded, beneath white.

Inhab. Port Essington.

Somewhat like DISCOGLOSUS PICTUS in appearance. The internal nostrils are
far apart, with an elongate group of palatine teeth level with their
hinder edges.

Taking advantage of the space of the plate, figures of the following
species from the same country, which have not hitherto been illustrated
have been added. They were described or noticed in the list before
referred to.

1. Cystignathus dorsalis, t. 1. f. 2. GRAY, ANN. NAT. HIST. 1841.

2. Phryniscus Australis, t. 2. f. 1. DUM. AND BIB. E. GEN. viii. 725.
Bombinator Australis, GRAY, PROC. ZOOL. SOC. 1838. 57.

III. Mr. Eyre having brought home with him the drawing of a species of
cray-fish found near the river Murray, which is called by the natives
UKODKO, I have been induced to examine the different species of Astaci in
the British Museum collection, which have been received at various times
from Australia, for the purpose of attempting to identify it.

As we have three very distinct species which have not yet been described
or figured in any of the works which have passed under my inspection, I
shall proceed to detail their peculiar characters and give figures of
their more characteristic features.

The drawing of "the UKODKO or smaller Murray cray-fish" most nearly
resembles ASTACUS QUINQUE-CARINATUS, but it is three or four times larger
than any of the specimens of that species which we possess, and the
figure does not shew any indications of the five keels on the front of
the head. In wanting the keel on the thorax it agrees with an Australian
species described by Mr. Milne Edwards under the name of ASTACUS
AUSTRALASIENSIS, said to come from New Holland, and to be about two
inches long, while Mr. Eyre's figure is more than six inches, and is said
not to be taken from a large specimen. It differs from Mr. Milne Edwards'
figures, in having only one spine on the wrist, so that probably there
are still two more species of the genus to be found in Australia.

Mr. Eyre in his notes states--"The Fresh water cray-fish, of the smaller
variety; native names, cu-kod-ko, or koon-go-la, is found in the alluvial
flats of the river Murray, in South Australia, which are subject
to a periodical flooding by the river; it burrows deep below the
surface of the ground as the floods recede and are dried up, and
remains dormant, until the next flooding recals it to the surface;
at first it is in a thin and weakly state, but soon recovers and gets
plump and fat, at which time it is most excellent eating. Thousands
are procured from a small space of ground with ease, and hundreds
of natives are supported in abundance and luxury by them for many
weeks together. It sometimes happens that the flood does not recur
every year, and in this case the eu-kod-ko lie dormant until the next,
and a year and a half would thus be passed below the surface. I have
often seen them dug out of my garden, or in my wheat field, by the men
engaged in digging ditches for irrigation. The floods usually overflow
the river flats in August or September, and recede again in February or
March. For further particulars respecting the modes of catching the
eu-kod-kos, vide vol. ii. pages 252 and 267."

"I have spoken of this cray-fish as the SMALLER variety as respects the
Murray. It is LARGER than the one found in the ponds of the river Torrens
at Adelaide; but in the river Murray one is procured of a size ranging to
4 1/2 lbs., and which is QUITE EQUAL in flavour to the FINEST lobster."

These latter have not yet been received in any of our collections, so
that we are unable to state how it differs from those now described: they
must be the giants of the genus.

1. The Van Diemen's Land Cray-fish. ASTACUS FRANKLINII, t. 3. f.
1.--Carapace convex on the sides, rather rugose on the sides behind, the
front only slightly produced and edged with a toothed raised margin not
reaching beyond the front edge of the lower orbit, and with a very short
ridge at the middle of each orbit behind; the hands compressed, rather
rugose, edge thick and toothed: wrist with four or five conical spines on
the inner side, the front the largest: the central caudal lobe, broad,
continuous, calcareous to the tip, lateral lobes, with a very slight
central keel; the sides of the second abdominal rings spinose.

Inhab. Van Diemen's Land.

Mr. Milne Edwards, (Archives du Museum, ii. 35. t. 3.) has recently
described a species of this genus from Madagascar, under the name of A.
MADAGASCARIENSIS, which is nearly allied to the Van Diemen's Land
species, in the shortness of the frontal process, the spines on the sides
of the second abdominal segment, and in the lobes of the tail; but it
differs from it in the length of the claws, and other particulars.
Madagascar appears to be the tropical confines of the genus.

2. The Western Australia Cray-fish. ASTACUS QUINQUE-CARINATUS, t. 3. f.
3.--Carapace smooth, rather convex, and with three keels above; the beak,
longly produced, ending in a spine, simple on the side and produced into
a keel on each side behind; the central caudal lobe rather narrow,
indistinctly divided in half, and like the other lobes flexile at the
end, the lateral lobes with a central keel ending a slight spine; the
hands elongated, compressed, smooth, with a thickened, toothed, inner
margin, which is ciliated above; wrist with two conical spines on the
inner side.

Inhab. Western Australia, near Swan River.

3. The Port Essington Cray-fish. ASTACUS BICARINATUS, t. 3.f.
2.--Carapace smooth, rather flattened, with a keel on each side above in
front; the beak longly produced, flattened, three toothed at the top;
hands rather compressed, smooth, thinner and slightly toothed on the
inner edge; the wrist triangular, angularly produced in front; the
central caudal lobes with two slightly diverging keels continued, and
like the others thin and flexible at the end, the inner lateral lobes
with two keels, each ending with a spine.

Inhab. Port Essington, Mr. Gilbert.

The A. AUSTRALASIENSIS, Milne Edwards, Crust ii. 332. t. 24. f. 1--5.
agrees with this species in the form of the beak, but the keels on the
thorax are not noticed either in the description or in the figure; and
the caudal lobes in the figure appear most to resemble A. FRANKLINII.

As the genus ASTACUS is now becoming more numerous in species, it may be
divided, with advantage, into three sections, according to the form of
the caudal lobes; thus:--

A. The central caudal lobes divided by a transverse suture into two
parts, both being hard and calcareous, and with a small spine at the
outer angle of the suture (PATAMOBIUS, LEACH) as A. FLUVIATILIS of
Europe, and A. AFFINIS of North America, with an elongated rostrum, and
A. BARTONII of North America, with a short rostrum.

B. The central caudal lobe continued hard and calcareous to the end, as
Madagascar; both have a very short beak, and the second abdominal ring

C. The central caudal lobe continued or only slightly divided on the
middle of each side; but it and all the lateral lobes are thin and
flexible at the hinder parts, as ASTACUS QUINQUE-CARINATUS, and A.
BICARINATUS of Australia, and A. CHILIENSIS of Chili.



* * * * *

"Sir,--Although in the course of my life, I have had little opportunity
to pay attention to the study of Ichthyology, it occurred to me, as now
and then a leisure moment was afforded from official duties, that it
would perhaps be useful, as well as amusing, to collect and make drawings
of the fish about King George's Sound; and I have been in a great degree
stimulated to do so, from an accidental visit of my friend, His
Excellency Captain Grey, Governor of South Australia, who advised me to
forward the drawings to you for the purpose of being placed with others
of a similar kind in the British Museum, where ultimately sufficient
material may be collected to give some account of the New Holland fish.

"Nothing is assumed as to the execution of the drawings; in fact it often
occurred when I set off in my little skiff, (especially in the outset)
that seven or eight species were procured in the course of the excursion,
which compelled me to make drawings of all when I came home tired in the
evening; forwarding them to ensure, as far as possible, their colours
before they became extinct--a sort of forced effort in respect to the
execution has, therefore, only been effected. The outline of nearly every
specimen was taken from ACTUAL PROFILE, by laying the fish upon the
paper--in this way I defied error in outline--of course, afterwards
carefully drawing and correcting various parts which required it, in a
free or rough manner, time not admitting of much pains.

"In naming the fish, I have merely attempted to give the aboriginal and
popular names known to the sealers and settlers. In obtaining the former,
no little difficulty has been experienced. The younger natives generally
giving different names to those of the elder; but finding the fish named
by the latter more descriptive, I have, of course, in most instances,
adopted them.

"For instance, No. 1, KOJETUCK means the fish with the bones; which is
very descriptive, from Koje the bones, [Note 28: This was noticed by
Governor Grey.] having very singular bones placed vertically in the neck,
connecting the dorsal spines to the back, resembling small tobacco pipes.

"Also the KYNARNOCH, No 13, the bearded, etc. In many other instances the
savages of this province are equally clear in naming their animals; and
it is curious, even this applies to their children, who commonly receive
their name from some extraordinary circumstance at, or about the time of
their birth. I find, also, the old men are more minute in SPECIES; the
younger often call very different fish by the same name, as the MEMON,
Nos. 17, and 43, etc. but as this is curious, merely for the sake of fact,
it is otherwise of little importance to the naturalist,--the native name
being only useful to enable the collector to obtain any particular
species hereafter. As regards the fidelity of the drawings, it may be
worth while to mention a singular mistake made by my friend
TOOLEGETWALEE; one of the oldest and most friendly savages we have of the
King George tribe; who, in looking over my collection to assist me in
naming them, observed that the drawings were a little raised off the
paper; and like a monkey, began to touch them with his long talons; of
course I flew to their rescue, and asked what he meant?

"'INIKEN how make em? me twank skin put him on!' which literally
means--'Ah! I now see how you do it, you put the skin on!!' From want of
paper of uniform size, I was obliged to use any paper which came to hand,
cut the figures out, and afterwards paste them on clean paper; which
circumstance gave rise to the poor savage's mistake, and it was not until
I actually cut one out before him, that he could be convinced that he was
in error--a compliment I could hardly help smiling at. I have only to add
in conclusion, that no attempt has been made at ARRANGEMENT, having drawn
and numbered the fish as they were caught. Most have been taken by my own
hook; some by the native's spear, and some by the seine net.

"The natural SCALE of each has been pasted on to the drawing, and when
remarkable, both from the back and sides of the fish, which I considered
a more desirable plan than giving imitations, that could hardly, in
objects so minute, without the aid of a powerful magnifier, be depended

"A descriptive account of each specimen, with the corresponding number to
that on the drawing, is also added.

"The effort has afforded me much amusement, and it will be still more
agreeable, if they will in any way contribute to a better knowledge of
the subject.

"I remain, Sir,
"Your most obedient servant,
"Albany, King George's Sound,
"Western Australia."

On receiving this most valuable and interesting collection, I referred
the part relative to the Fish to my excellent friend, Dr. Richardson of
Haslar, one of the first Ichthyologists now living, who has kindly
arranged the notes in systematic order, and added to them, as far as he
was able, the modern scientific names. I have done the same to the
Reptiles myself. I have retained the original numbers as they refer to
the drawings which are preserved in the zoological department of the
British Museum.--J. E. GRAY.

* * * * *


Fam. Lialisidae.
LIALIS BURTONII. Native name KERRY-GURA. Considered by the natives as
harmless; the scales of the back are very minute; the tail when broken is
sometimes terminated by three horny blunt ends; tongue divided and

LIALIS BICATENATA. Native name WILLIAM LUNGER. Tongue not forked, broad,
and rounded off at the point. Not poisonous or at all dreaded by the
natives; finely striped down the back, and spotted with deep brown equal
marks; has a lappel on each side of the vent.

Killed 10th of October, 1841.


NAJA,--? Native name TORN-OCK or TOOKYTE. Colour dirty olive over the
whole body; belly dirty olive; white, faintly dotted from the throat down
to the vent, with reddish dirty orange spots; the whole colour appears as
if faded; the scales are more closely united to the skin than those of
the NOON; fangs placed on each side of the upper jaw, short and rather
blunt; scuta, 223.

Although the natives assert, if a person is bitten by this make, and
"gets down," i.e. lays in bed three days, he will recover, yet I am very
doubtful of this account, more particularly from the women differing from
the men, as well as the whole subject being hidden in superstition.
Another ground of doubt rests upon the fact of having lost in Van
Diemen's Land, a favourite dog, by the bite of a snake very similar to
this; the poor animal expired fourteen minutes after the bite, although
the piece was almost instantaneously cut out.

The women of King George's Sound declare the bite of the Torn-ock mortal;
but the men laugh at that, and maintain the three days' "couple," (sleep)
will restore the patients.

The specimen was 4 ft. 9 in. long, but they have been seen 6 or 7 feet
long. This is a favourite food of the natives of King George's Sound.

COLUBER? Native name BARDICK. Dirty olive green over the whole back;
belly dirty white; scuta 130.

The natives state that the bite produces great swelling of the part for a
day or two, and goes off.

Never grows above 14 or 15 inches long. Caught October 1841.

COLUBER. Native name TORKITE or TORKYTE. Back, from the point of the tail
to the point of the nose, dark sepia brown; under the head yellow; and
towards the middle of the belly orange; scales minute; scuta 140; tongue
forked; teeth very minute; no fangs observable. Caught August 30th, 1844.

Not at all dreaded by the natives; venomous, but not deadly, the bite
merely producing a bad ulcer for a day or two.

ELAPS MELANOCEPHALUS. Native name WERR. Dirty olive green on the back,
from the neck to the tail; scuta 147, dirty reddish orange; head black
from the nose to neck; sides of the head white; tongue forked.

Doubtful if poisonous; little dreaded by the natives. Killed October
12th, 1845.

ELAPS. Native name NORN or NORNE. Whole body covered with spear shaped
scales; head shining black; the ground colours of the back rich umber,
almost black; scuta 161, of a dirty red orange; fangs two on each side of
the upper jaw near the lios, small, and bent inwards; tongue forked

This is the most fatal of the New Holland snakes; the animal bitten
seldom recovers. The Aborigines have a great dread of this reptile; they
however eat of it if they kill it themselves, but there is a superstition
amongst them about snakes, which prevents their eating them if killed by
a European.

The specimen I figured was a small one, 3 ft. 9 in. long; they are often
seen by the natives much larger. I have endeavoured to represent it as it
generally sleeps or lies in wait for its prey, small birds, frogs,
lizards, etc. It delights in swamps and marshes.

Killed October, 1844.


PYTHON. Native name WAKEL or WA-A-KEL. This snake is considered by the
natives a great delicacy, and by their account resembles mutton in
flavour, being also remarkably fat. I requested them to let me taste the
specimen from which the drawing was made; but they devoured every atom
themselves, pretending they did not understand me. The WAKEL differs from
the NORN in its habits; although both ascend trees in pursuit of small
birds and the young of the opossums. The WAKEL delights in rocky, dry
places, near salt water; they are very sluggish, and easily caught by the
women, who seize them behind the head and wring their necks. They are
described to have been seen 9 or 10 feet long. My specimen, a young male,
was exactly 5 feet long. The scales of this species are firmly fixed to
the skin, in plates all over the back and belly. The colour is beautiful,
dark greenish brown, finely variegated with yellowish white spots.

It was killed by Paddy, a native constable, near Albany, October, 1841.

* * * * *



No. 58.--PATOECUS FRONTO. Rich. Ann. Nat. Hist. Oct. 1844, vol. xiv.p.
280, Ichth. Ereb. and Terr. p. 20, pl. 13, f. 1, 2.

Native name KARRACK. Colour, a rich dragon's blood, or mahogany; found by
a Danish boatman, named Byornsan, 80 miles off the east coast from King
George's Sound, December 11th, 1841. Anal rays imperfectly counted, and
there is a typographical error in the Zool. of Ereb. and Terr. The true
numbers of the rays follow: B. 6; D. 24-16; A. 11-5; C. 10; P. 8.


No. 53.--SCORPOENA, or SEBASTES.--Native name, TYLYUCK, or TELUCK
(BIG-HEAD). "Rays, D. 12, 1-8; A. 3-5; P. 21; V. 1-5."

Uncommon. Inhabits rocky shores. Flesh firm and well-flavoured. Caught by
hook, 16th Aug. 1841.

No. 34.--SEBASTES?--Native name, CUMBEUK.

A common inhabitant of rocky shores. Good eating. The specimen was
speared by Munglewert, 17th May, 1841. "Rays, D. 14-17; A. 3-8; P. 14; V.

No. 14.--APISTES. Apparently scaleless, and without free pectoral rays.
Does not correspond well with A. MARMORATUS. "Rays, D. 12," etc. Caught by
Seine, 18th March, 1841.

The fishermen dread wounds made by the species of this fish, as they
always fester.

Native name BOORA-POKEY, or POKY. SERGEANT of the settlers.

No. 36.--PLATYCEPHALUS.--Native name CUMBEL. Common Flat-head of the
settlers. Seems to differ from described species in the two dark bars of
the tail, being directly transverse, and followed by five large dark
purple round spots.

Inhabits sandy shores very commonly, all round the coast of New Holland.
A variety occurs at Maria Island, Van Diemen's Land. Caught by hook, 15th
May, 1841. Good eating.


No. 13.--UPENEUS.--Native name, MINAME, or KGNARNUCK (the bearded); "Red
mullet" of the settlers.


No. 46.--ENOPLOSUS ARMATUS. Cuv. et Val. 2, p. 133, pl. 20.--Native name,
KARLOCK. Speared by a native, June 1841. Inhabits rocky shores.


No. 2.--BERYX LINEATUS, C. and V. 3, p. 226.--Native name, CHETONG. Red
Snapper, or Tide-fisher of the sealers. Very common in the bays of rocky
shores. "Rays, D. 5-14; A. 4-13; P. 12; V. 1-7."


No. 59.--SPHYROENA.--Native name, KORDONG. "Rays, D. 5, 1-9; A. 11; P.
13; V. 1-5."

The "Common Baracoota" is found off the whole coast of New Holland, but
the KORDONG seems to be peculiar to Western Australia. It comes into the
shallow bays in summer; and being a sluggish fish, is easily speared by
the natives, who esteem it to be excellent food. It will lay for a minute
looking with indifference at its enemy, while he poises the fatal and
unerring spear. Specimen caught in a net, December, 1841.


No. 25.--SILLAGO.--Native name, MURDAR. "Rock whiting" of the settlers.
"Rays, D. 10-23; A. 18; P. 13; A. 5."

Inhabits rocky shores and deep water. Caught by the seine, 3rd April,
1841. Good eating.

No. 11.--SILLAGO PUNCTATA, C. et V 3, P. 413.--Native name MURDAR.
"Common whiting" of the settlers. "Rays, D. 12, 1-26; A. 22; P. 11; V.

Inhabits shallow sandy bays abundantly, and is much admired for the
delicacy of its flesh, but it is dryer eating than the whiting of Europe.


No. 55.--CORVINA?--Native name T'CHARK or T'CHYARK. King-fish of the
sealers. "Rays, D. 9--1-27; A. 1-7; P. 15; V. 1-5."

Teeth strong and sharp. Grows to a great size; as I am informed by the
natives, that they often spear individuals weighing sixty or seventy
pounds. This fish enters the fresh-water periodically, like the Salmon of
Europe, to spawn, and it is the only fish in this country which I have
distinctly made out to do so. It is tolerably good eating. The specimen
was caught at the mouth of Oyster Harbour by a hook, on the 30th August,
1841. (This may be the adult of the CORVINA KUHLII of the HISTOIRE DES
POISSONS, 5. p. 121.)


(vide Ichth. of Ereb. and Terror, p. 30.)--Native name KING-NURRIE, or
IINAGUR. "Salmon" of the sealers. Pectorals yellow or orange coloured,
with dark bases; scales faintly fan-streaked; last rays of dorsal and
anal elongated. Faint oblong, orange-coloured spots on the sides, not in
vertical rows. "Rays, D. 9-16; A. 2-10; P. 16." Eye remarkably brilliant.
Good eating in the summer time, but far inferior to the SALMO SALAR. It
congregates in vast shoals, and pursues the fry of other fishes in
shallow bays, but never enters fresh-water. It is often taken of from
seven to ten pounds weight. It affords excellent sport to the angler. The
specimen was caught by the hook from my own door on the 4th May, 1841.

No. 3.--CENTROPRISTES (CIRRIPIS) GEORGIANUS. C. et V. 7. p. 451. Jenyn's
Zool. of Beagle, p. 13.--Native name WARRAGUIT. "Herring" of the
settlers. Rays, D. 9-14; A. 3-10; etc.

Inhabits rocky shores, and is taken in the summer, by net on sandy
beaches. Specimen caught by the hook, on the 27th March, 1841.

No. 23.--SERRANUS? vel CAPRODON (Schlegel.) aut PLECTROPOMA.--Native name
TANG or TAA (It bites.) The "Perch" of the Sealers. "Rays, D. 10-24; A.
2-9; P. 14; V. 1-5."

Eye fine crimson: pupil deep blue-black. Tail slightly rounded.
Remarkably strong canines, from which peculiarity it has obtained its
native name of TAA, as it bites severely when taken, if the fisher be not
on the alert. It is good to eat, but is not common. Caught by the hook on
9th of April, 1841.

No. 4.--PLECTROPOMA NIGRO-RUBRUM. C. et V. 2. p. 403.--Native name
BUNDEL. "Crab-eyed soldier" of the settlers. "Rays, D. 10-17; A. 3-9."

Inhabits rocky shores, and is not common. Specimen caught by the hook, on
the 4th April, 1841. Good eating.

No. 21.--HELOTES?--Native names, BOORA, BOWRU, also CHARLUP. The "Pokey,"
or "small Trumpeter" of the sealers. "Rays, D. 11--1-11; A. 2-11; etc."

Inhabits rocky places. Good to eat. Caught by the seine, on the 3rd
March, 1841.


No. 24.--CHEILODACTYLUS GIBBOSUS. Solander. Icon. Ined. Banks. No.
23.--Richardson Zool. Trans. 3, p. 102.--Native name KNELOCK (not

Inhabits sandy beaches; is little known to the sealers. Caught in a net,
3rd March, 1841.

No. 39. CHEILODACTYLUS CARPONEMUS.--C. et V. 5. p. 362.--Native name
CHETTANG. "Jew-fish" of the sealers (the name "Jew-fish" is applied
otherwise by the colonists).

Inhabits rocky shores. Some specimens weigh upwards of sixteen pounds.
Caught by hook, 17th May, 1841.

No. 42.--CHEILODACTYLUS. Native name TOORJENONG. "Black Jew-fish" of the
sealers. "Rays, D. 16-26; A. 2-10; P. 13; V. 5."

Inhabits rocky points of sandy bays, where they love to run in and root
up the sand with their fleshy mouths. They are sluggish, and easily
speared by the Aborigines, whose chief food it constitutes at certain
seasons. The specimen was speared in my presence by Wallup, on the 8th of
June, 1841. The TOORJENONG grows to a large size, exceeding twenty pounds
in weight. It is a gross feeder, and its flesh is hard and dry, but the
head and sides are much prized by the natives, and the head of a large
one makes tolerable soup.

No. 45.--LATRIS? (vix. GERRES?)--Native name QUIKE or QUIK, (horned).
"Rays, 9-16; A. 3-16; P. 14; V. 1-5."

Caught by the hook, off Rocky Point, on the 17th of August, 1844. Good to
eat. (A spine before each nostril, probably springing from the heads of
the maxillaries).


No. 1.--PAGRUS GUTTULATUS. C. et V. 6, p. 160.--Native name KOJETUCK.
"Common Snapper" of the sealers, "Rays, D. 12-9; A. 3-8; P. 1-5."

The Snapper grows to a large size, attaining from thirty to forty pounds
weight, and is very voracious. It devours crabs and shell fish, crushing
them with its strong teeth. It is common on all the rocky inlets of the
coast of New Holland, extending down the eastern shores to Sidney.


No. 41.--CHAETODON SEXFASCIUTUS. Richardson Ann. of Nat. Hist.--Native

Inhabits rocky places. Not common.

No. 40.--CHAETODON.--Native name MITCHEBULLER or METYEBULLAR. Teeth very

Inhabits rocky places. Speared by Warrawar, on the 27th of May, 1841.

No. 27.2.--CHAETODON.--Native name WAMEL or WAMLE. "Rays, D. 10-20; A.

No. 6.--PLATAX?--Native names, TEUTUEK or KARLOCK, from the shape of the
fins, also MUDEUR. "Striped sweep" of the sealers, and Pomfret of the
settlers. D. 10; A. 2. Teeth small. Very common on rocky shores. Is a
gross feeder; but good to eat. Caught by a hook on the 12th of March,

The striped zebra fish of the settlers. "Rays, D. 14-12; A. 3 11; V.
1-5." Mouth, small; tail rather concave.

Inhabits rocky shores, is a gross feeder, bad eating, and is not common.
Caught by the hook on the 6th of April 1841.

No. 10.--PIMELEPTERUS? MELANICHTHYS? Schlegel.--Native names, KOWELANY,
KARRAWAY, or MEMON. Tail a little forked. "Rays, D. 14-13; A.3-11; P. 17;
V. 1-5." Eye, grey.

Inhabits rocky shores, and is not very common. Caught by a hook, on the
6th of April, 1841.

No. 17.--MELANICHTHYS.--Native name MEMON or MUDDIER. "Rays, D. 14-13; A.
3-11; P. 17; V. 1-5."

Eye greyish yellow; teeth in a trenchant series on the edge of the upper
and lower jaw, and also on the maxillaries. Is a gross feeder, and its
flesh has a strong disagreeable smell, but is much relished by the

Inhabits rocky shores, and is rare. Caught by hook, 3rd May, 1841.

No. 33. Genus unknown.--Native name, TOOBETOET or TOOBITOO-IT. Rays, D.
17-11; A. 11; P. 11; V. 4.

Is a rare inhabitant of rocky places. Speared by Mooriane, 14th of May,
1841. This seems to be a new generic form, nearly allied to HOPLEGNATHUS,
Richardson; or SCARODON, Schlegel.

No. 43.--SCORPIS?--Native name, MEMON or MEEMON. "Sweep" of the sealers.
"Rays, D.; A. 1." Teeth minute. It is a gross feeder and poor eating.
Very common on rocky shores. Being a bold voracious fish, it is easily
speared or taken with a hook. The Aborigines generally select a rock
which jutts out into the sea, and sitting on their hams, beat crabs into
fragments with a little stone, and throw them into the sea to attract
this fish. The instant a fish comes to feed on the bait, the native,
whose spear is ready, suddenly darts it, and rarely fails in bringing up
the fish on its barbed point. Specimen caught by the hook, 15th of June,

No. 44.--KURTUS?--Native name, TELYUA, or TELLYA, "Rays, D. 13; A. 2-19;

Thrown up on Albany beach, 14th of August, 1841.


or CHUNDELA. The "Spotted sole" of the settlers. Very common in all the
shallow bays in the summer time, where it may be taken by the seine. The
natives detect it when its body is buried in the sand, by the glistening
of its eyes, and spear it. When fishing with the torch, in the night
time, the natives feel for this fish with their naked feet. Specimen
caught by seine, August, 1841. This fish is delicate eating.


No. 32.--CARANX MICANS, Solander, Icon. Parkinson, Bib. Banks, No.
89.--Native name, MADAWICK, "Skip-jack" of the settlers. "Rays, D. 8-28;
A. 2-23; P. 15." Very common in shallow sandy bays, and forming the
staple food of the natives, who assemble in fine calm days, and drive
shoals of this fish into weirs that they have constructed of shrubs and
branches of trees. Specimen caught by hook on the 12th of May, 1841.

No. 16.--TRACHURUS LUTESCENS. Solander (SCOMBER) Pisees Austr. p. 38.
Richard. Ann. Nat. Hist. x. p. 14.--Native name, WARAWITE and
MADIWICK. "Yellow tail" of the sealers. "Rays, D. 6; A. 2." Eye very

Inhabits the edges of sandy banks. Good eating. Caught by hook 5th of
March, 1841.


No. 29. MUGIL vel. DAJAUS DIEMENSIS. Richardson, Ichth. of the Erebus and
Terror, p. 37, pl. 26, f. 1.--Native name, KNAMLER or KNAMALER. "Common
mullet" of the settlers. "Rays, D. 4-9; A. 1-13."

Frequents shores with sandy beaches, and forms a principal article of
food to the native youths, who are continually practising throwing their
spears at this fish. It is very common, and is good eating. Caught by the
seine, 12th April, 1841.

No. 57.--MUGIL.--Native name, MERRONG, or MIRRONG. "The flut-nosed mullet"
of the settlers.

This is the finest fish of New Holland that I am acquainted with. In
Wilson's Inlet, about forty miles west of King George's Sound, it abounds
in the winter months; and the different tribes, from all parts of the
coast, assemble there, by invitation of the proprietors of the ground,
(the MURRYMIN,) who make great feasts on the occasion. The fish attains a
weight of three and a-half pounds, and a fat one yields about three
quarters of a pound of oil, which the natives use for greasing their
heads and persons. This fish runs up the rivers during the floods, and so
becomes very fat. In summer it retires to the ocean. Caught in September,


No. 47.--LABRUS LATICLAVIUS. Richardson, Zool. Trans. 3. p. 139.--Native
name, KANUP, or PARILL, (Green-fish.)

Is a rare inhabitant of rocky shores. Caught by hook, 17th August, 1841.
Poor eating.

"Rock-cod" of the sealers. "Rays, D. 22; A. 14."

Tail square. Very common on rocky coasts. Soft, indifferent eating.
Caught by the hook, 3rd May, 1841.

No. 9.--LABRUS?--Native name, PARIL. "Common rock-fish of the sealers.
"Rays, D. 9-11; A. 2-11, etc."

Mouth furnished with small sharp teeth. Caught by hook, 12th March, 1841.

No. 37.--LABRUS?--Native name, PARIL, KUHOUL, or BOMBURN. "Black
rock-fish" of the sealers. "Rays, D. 9-11; A. 3-10 seconds, etc."

Inhabits rocky shores, and grows to the size of fifteen or twenty pounds
weight. Poor, soft eating. Speared by Warrawar, 12th May, 1841.

No. 7.--LABRUS?--Native name, POKONG. "Brown rock-fish" of the sealers.
"Rays, D. 9-12; A. 3-10," etc.

Flesh soft and poor. Inhabitants rocky shores; very common. Caught by
hook, 12th March, 1841.

No. 18.--CRENILABRUS?--Native name, KNELMICH, MINAME, or MINAMEN. Common
"rock-fish" or "Parrot" of the sealers. "Rays, D. 8-11; A. 2-10," etc.

Poor and soft. Inhabits bold rocky shores, where it is troublesome to the
fisher by carrying off his bait. Caught by hook, 3rd May, 1841.

No. 12.--LABRUS?--Native name IANON'T, WOROGUT, or CUMBEAK. "Rays, D. 30;
A. 12." Tail rounded, teeth very small.

Inhabits weedy places in deep water, and along sandy bays. Sometimes
taken by the natives on the edge of banks. Excellent eating. Caught by
hook, 18th March, 1841.

"Red rock-fish" of the settlers. "Rays, D. 11-10; A. 3-11; P. 15."
etc.--Teeth very strong; tail rounded; its rays oblong.

Inhabits rocky shores. Bites eagerly, and is a gross feeder. Indifferent
eating. Caught by hook, 6th April, 1841.

No. 35.------? Genus not ascertained.--Native name KOOGENUCK, QUEJUIMUCK,
or KNOWL. Little known to the sealers. "Rays, 11-12; A. 2 or 3; P. 16 or
18." Dorsal spines remarkable; scales large; grows to a large size; the
flank scales of one weighing twenty-eight pounds, measure an inch and a
half in length, and an inch and a quarter in breadth. (They are
cycloid.--J. R.)

Inhabits rocky shores. The specimen was speared by Warrawar, 12th May,


No. 5.--RYNCHANA GREYI. Richardson, Ichth. of Voy. of Erebus and Terror,
p. 44 pl. 29. f. 1. 6.--Native name, PINING or WAUNUGUR, not certain. Not
known to the sealers. Pupil like that of the shark elliptical, with the
long axis vertical.

When the skin was removed the flesh was very fat, resembling that of the
eel, had an unpleasant smell, and could not be eaten. The natives also
were averse to eating it, and only one man acknowledged to have seen it
before. Caught by seine, by Corporal Emms of the 51st regiment, 7th
April, 1841. (This fish is also an inhabitant of Queen Charlotte's Sound,
New Zealand.--J. R.)


No. 48.--AULOPUS PURPURISSATUS. Richardson, Icones Piscium, p. 6, pl. 2,
f. 3.--Native name, KARDAR. "Rays, D. 19; A. 14; V. 9; P. 10."

Very rare. Caught by hook, on a rocky shore, by Mr. Sholl of Albany, 14th
July, 1841. (Mr. Niell's figure differs slightly from that of Lieutenant
Emery, published in the ICONES PISCIUM above quoted, and chiefly in the
dorsal occupying rather more space, by commencing before the ventrals,
and extending back to opposite the beginning of the anal. The anus is
under the fourteenth dorsal ray. Mr. Niell's drawing also shews a series
of six large roseate spots on the sides below the lateral line, and a
more depressed head, with a prominent arch at the orbit.--J. R.)


No. 22.--HEMIRAMPHUS.--Native name, IIMEN. "Guardfish" of the settlers.
"Rays, D. 16, delicate black rays; A. 15, do; P. 12; V. 6." Lower jaw
equal to the head in length. Caught by the seine, 3rd March, 1841.

Inhabits sandy bays, but approaches the shore only in summer. It is very
delicate eating.


No. 52.--MURAENA? vel SPHAGEBRANCHUS.--Native name KALET. The eel figure,
nat. size. Dorsal fin continuous for about three and a half inches behind
the snout to the point of the tail: its rays very delicate; anal like the
dorsal, but commencing behind the vent. One small lobe in the gills,
about the size of a pin's head; no other perceptible opening.

Caught at the mouth of Oyster Harbour, 16th August, 1841.


No. 56.--OSTRACIAN FLAVIGASTER, Gray. Richardson, Zool. Trans. 3. p. 164,
p. 11, f. 1.--Native name, CONDE or KOODE. "Rays, D. 10; A. 9; P. 11,

This fish is not eaten by the natives, who abhor it. It is seen only in
the summer, and in shallow sandy bays, Caught in a net in October, 1841.

No 51.--MONACANTHUS.--Native name, TABADUCK. Rays, D. 28; A. 26; P. 12;
C. 12.

Very rare, scarcely ever seen by the Aborigines. Caught by hook, August,

No. 49.--MONACANTHUS.--Not known to the Aborigines. Rays, D. 32; A. 30;
C. 12; P. 11. Eye yellow; dorsal spine short.

Taken in deep water by Mr. Johnson, off the Commissariat stores, near a
sunken rock, in deep water.

No. 15.--MONACANTHUS.--Native name, CAUDIEY. "Small leather-jacket" of
the sealers.

Inhabits deep water, with a rocky bottom; is good to eat. Caught by a
net, 18th March, 1841. Dorsal spine toothed behind.

No. 31.--MONACANTHUS, or (ALEUTERES, no spinous point of the pelvis
visible in figure.--J. R.)--Native name, TABEDUCK. The "yellow
leather-jacket" of the sealers. Dorsal spine toothed. D. 33; A. 32; P.
13. Caudal rounded, its rays very strong.

Inhabits deep water in rocky places, and is very common. It is esteemed
for food by the Aborigines; is much infested by an Isopode named NETTONG,
or TOORT, by the natives. This insect inserts its whole body into a
pocket by the side of the anus, separated from the gut by a thin
membrane. The fish to which the insect adheres are yellow; those which
are free from it are of a beautiful purple colour. Caught by hook, 12th
May, 1841.


No. 54.--CARCHARIAS (PRIONODON) MELANOPTERUS, Muller and Henle.--Native
name, MATCHET. "Common blue shark" of the settlers. Specimen four feet
and a half long; have been seen longer. A female had four young alive
when taken. Spiracles behind the eyes. Caught by hook, 16th August, 1841.

No. 26--CESTRACION PHILIPPI, Mull. and Henle.--Native names, MATCHET,
KORLUCK, or QUORLUCK. "Bull-dog-shark" of the sealers. Specimen two feet
and a half long.

Inhabits rocky shores, and is very sluggish; it does not grow to a very
large size. Caught by hook, 6th April, 1841.


No. 38.--UROLOPHUS.--Native name, KEGETUCK or BEBIL. "Young sting-ray" of
the sealers. Caught by seine, 4th May, 1841.

No. 28.--Near PLATYRHINA.--Native name, PARETT. "Fiddler" of the sealers;
Green skate of the settlers. Eye dullish yellow; pupil sea-green, glaring
in some lights; teeth transverse, like a file; spiracles two, large,
behind the eye, in the same cavity; belly white, terminating at the
caudal fin.

Very common in the sheltered bays, close in shore among the weeds. Not
eaten by the Aborigines, who greatly abhor them, as they do also the
sting-ray. Specimen two feet nine inches and a half long.

* * * * *


The four insects here figured and described are, as far as I am aware,
new. Petasida, and Tettigarcta are interesting in the shape of the
Thorax, differing widely from that in any of the allied genera, while the
new species of Eurybrachys and Chrysopa are striking from their colouring
and marks.


Thorax much dilated behind, depressed and rounded at the end; the side
deeply sinuated behind; head pointed, antennae long; of a yellowish
orange; antennae with a few greenish rings, cheek below the eye with a
greenish line, head above with a longitudinal greenish line. Thorax with
a slight keel down the middle, wrinkled behind of a dusky blueish green,
a large patch of an orange colour on each side in front, and a small spot
of the same colour on each edge of the produced part at base; elytra
orange with numerous black spots, and black at the tip, lower wings pale
orange at the base, clouded with black at the tip; abdomen orange,
slightly ringed with green; legs orange, with three greenish spots on the
outside of the femora of hind legs.

Length 1 inch 9 lines.

Hab. Australia.


Head red, with a black spot on the crown; antennae short brownish black;
thorax hairy; thorax, abdomen, and legs, brownish black. Wings brown,
with iridescent hues, the upper with transverse yellowish lines and spots
at the base; a long yellowish line parallel to the outer edge at the end,
and emitting a whitish spot which reaches the edge, three spots on the
apical portion, the two on the outer edge large; basal half lower wings
pale, some of the areolets yellowish; a few clouded with brown, tip of
the wing yellowish.

Expanse of wings 1 inch 4 1/2 lines.

Hab. Australia.

EURYBRACHYS LAETA, pl. 4, fig. 3.

Head thorax and upper wings of a rich brown colour, the outer edge of the
last is deep black, with a transverse yellowish spot just before the
middle, the remainder of the edge slightly spotted with black, upper side
covered with short blackish hairs; lower wings deep black; abdomen of a
bright red, with a round white tuft on the upper side near the end; first
two pairs of legs of a deep brown, with some reddish lines; hind legs
ferruginous with blackish spines.

Expanse of wings 7 lines.

Hab. Australia.


Head very small in front, blunt; lateral ocelli close to the eyes, space
between them with long hairs.

Prothorax very large, extending back in a rounded form beyond the base of
hind wings, the sides sharp pointed, the back very convex and wrinkled.

Body and under parts densely clothed with hair.

This very singular genus differs from all the Stridulantes in the size
and shape of the prothorax; in the neuration of the elytra it is allied
to PLATYPLEURA (Amyst and Serville) in the size of head and hairiness of
body it approaches CARINETA of the same authors. The Pupa, (fig. 5.)
differs in the form of fore legs from those of the other Cicada.

TETTIGARCTA TOMENTOSA, pl. 4, fig. 4, and 5 its pupa.

Of a brownish ash colour, the hairs on upper part of body short and deep
brown, on the sides and under parts long and grey; prothorax varied with
black, in front, two large patches covered with grey hairs, mixed with
longer; elytra spotted and varied with brown, wings clear, somewhat
ferruginous at the base.

Expanse of wings 3 inches 4 lines.

Hab. Australia.

* * * * *


Lamarck separated the mother-of-pearls shell (MARGARITA) from the
swallow-tail muscles (AVICULA) on account of its more orbicular shape.
Other Conchologists have been inclined to unite them, as some of the
species of AVICULA approach to the shape of the other genus. The new one
just received from Australia, which I am now about to describe, in this
respect more resembles the Margarita than any before noticed; yet I am
inclined to think that the pearl-shells deserved to be kept separate, as
the cardinal teeth are quite obliterated in the adult shells, which is
not the case with any AVICULAE I am acquainted with; and the young
pearl-shells are furnished with a broad serrated distant leafy fringe,
while the AVICULAE are only covered with very closely applied short
concentric slightly raised minutely denticulated lamina, forming an
epidermal coat on the surface.

1. AVICULA LATA, pl. 6. f. 1.

Shell dark brown; half ovate; broad obliquely truncated, and scarcely
notched behind; covered with close regular very thin denticulated
concentric lamina, forming a paler external coat. The front ear rather
produced, with a distant inferior notch; internally pearly, with a broad
brown margin on the lower-edge.

Inhab. North and West coasts of Australia.

2. SPATANGUS ELONGATUS, pl. 6. f. 2.

Body elongate, cordate, with a deep anterior grove and notch; covered
above with minute hair-like spines, with scattered very elongated tubular
minutely striated spines on the sides; the anterior groves and
circumference of the vent with larger equal hair-like spines on each
side; the under surface with a triangular disk of similar spines beneath
the vent, and with elongated larger tubular spines.

Inhab. Western Australia.

Having only a single specimen completely covered with spines, it is
impossible to describe the form of the ambulacra or the disposition of
the tubercles. The lower figures represent the mouth and vent of the
animal in detail.

* * * * *



Head densely clothed with long whitish hairs; thorax and abdomen with
black hairs; wings hyaline, the nervures and nervules brown, with a few
black scales: base of the anterior and abdominal fold of the posterior
more or less covered with black hairs; antennae and legs fuscous brown.

Exp. 10--12 lines.

The larva of this species forms a dwelling for itself, similar in form
and structure to that of its American congener, the EPHEMERAEFORMIS,


Wings of a brilliant silvery white; the anterior traversed by a fulvous
band commencing at the base on the costa, which it follows for about
one-third of its length, then crossing the wings directly to the anal
angle, where it unites with a vitta of the same colour, extending from
the angle nearly to the base along the inner margin; this vitta is
bordered interiorly with thickly placed black dots; the transverse
portion of the fulvous band is bordered on both sides with black, and has
a sinus about the middle; cilia fulvous; posterior wing with a black spot
near the outer angle: below, the wings are white, except the cilia of the
anterior, and a large blotch, red anteriorly, black posteriorly, near the
outer angle; head rufous; antennae fuscous; thorax and abdomen white, the
former with the shoulders rufous.

Exp. 2 1/2 inches.

CHELONIA PALLIDA, pl. 5. f. 3.

Anterior wings pale brown, with white nervures and nervules, and marked
with several whitish spots, of which four are on the costa, two
longitudinal before, two transverse beyond the middle of the wing, and on
the inner margin are three irregular patches, sometimes confluent, beyond
which is a band parallel with the outer margin, commencing above the
upper median nervule, and terminating on the inner margin; posterior
wings white, with a discoidal spot, a macular band near the outer margin,
and a less distinct marginal one, all brownish; head white; thorax white,
with three black vittae; abdomen above rufous, with six transverse black
spots, the sides varied with black and white; antennae black; femora red;
tibiae and tarsi black.

Exp. 2 1/4 inches.


Anterior wings fuscous, with a pale vitta commencing near the base on the
subcostal nervure, reaching the costa before the middle, and extending
along it to the apex, where it joins a flexuous submarginal band,
connected with a vitta occupying the whole inner margin; beyond the cell
is an abbreviated flexuous striga; followed by a subquadrate dot;
posterior wings pale dull red, with a broad submarginal fuscous band, and
a discoidal spot of the same colour; head and anterior part of thorax
pale, posterior black; abdomen above red, with a black dorsal line;
antennae fuscous; femora red; tibiae and tarsi fuscous.

Exp. 1 1/4 inch.

ACONTIA? PULCHRA, pl. 5. f. 5.

Wings of a somewhat chalky white, the anterior with three rufous dots on
the costa before the middle, of which the third is the largest, and near
the apex a large brown spot, fulvous towards the costa, clouded with
bluish white, connected with the inner margin by four indistinct yellow
dots; forehead red; head, thorax, and abdomen, white; palpi red at the
apex; feet white first and second pairs spotted with red.

Exp. 2 inches.

* * * * *



Aquila fucosa, CUV.
Ichthyiaetus leucogaster, GOULD.
Pandion leucocephalus, GOULD.
Haliastur sphenurus.
Falco melanogenys, GOULD.
----- sub-niger, G. R. GRAY.
----- frontatus, GOULD.
Ieracidea Occidentalis, GOULD.
--------- Berigora.
Tinnunculus Cencroides.
Astur approximans, VIG. and HORSF.
----- Novae-Hollandiae, VIG. and HORSF.?
Accipiter torquatus, VIG. and HORSF.
Buteo melanosternon, GOULD.
Milvus isurus, GOULD.
------ affinis, GOULD.
Elanus axillaris.
------ scripta, GOULD.
Circus assimilis, JARD.
------ Jardinii, GOULD.
Strix personata, VIG.
----- delicatulis, GOULD.
Athene connivens.
------ Boobook


Hirundo neoxena, GOULD.
Cotyle pyrrhonota.
Acanthylis caudacuta.
Eurostopodus guttatus.
Podargus humeralis, VIG. and HORSF.
Aegotheles Novae-Hollandiae, VIG. and HORSF.?
Merops ornatus, LATH.
Dacelo gigas, BODD.
Halcyon sanctus, VIG. and HORSF.
------- pyrrhopygia, GOULD.
Alcyone azurea.
Falcunculus frontatus, VIG. and HORSF.
Oreoica gutturalis.
Xerophila leucopsis, GOULD.
Colluricincla cinerea, VIG. and HORSF.?
Pachycephala gutturalis, VIG. and HORSF.
------------ inornata, GOULD.?
------------ pectoralis, VIG. and HORSF.
------------ rufogularis, GOULD.
Artamus sordidus.
------- personatus, GOULD.
Cracticus destructor, TEMM.
Gymnorhina leuconota, GOULD.
Grallina melanoleuca, VIEILL.
Strepera ----------?
Campephaga humeralis, GOULD.?
Graucalus melanops, VIG. and HORSF.
Cinclosoma punctatum, VIG. and HORSF.
---------- castanotus, GOULD.
Malurus cyaneus, VIEILL.
------- melanotus, GOULD.
------- leucopterus, QUOY AND GAIM.
------- Lamberti, VIG. and HORSF.
Stipiturus malachurus, LESS.
Cysticola exilis?
Hylacola pyrrhopygia.
-------- cauta, GOULD.
Acanthiza pusilla, VIG. and HORSF.
--------- uropygialis, GOULD.
--------- inornata, GOULD.
--------- lineata, GOULD.
--------- chrysorrhoea.
Epthianura aurifrons, GOULD.
---------- tricolor, GOULD.
Sericornis frontalis.
Pyrrholaemus brunneus, GOULD.
Calamanthus campestris.
Anthus pallescens, VIG. and HORSF.
Cincloramphus cantillans, GOULD.
Petroica multicolor, SWAINS.
-------- phoenicea, GOULD.
-------- Goodenovii, JARD. AND SELB.
-------- rosea, GOULD.
-------- bicolor, SWAINS.
Drymodes brunneopygia, GOULD.
Zosterops dorsalis, VIG. and HORSF.
Pardalotus punctatus, TEMM.
---------- striatus, TEMM.
Dicaeum hirundinaceum
Estrelda bella.
-------- temporalis.
Amadina Lathami.
------- castanotus, GOULD.
Rhipidura albiscapa, GOULD.
--------- Motacilloides.
Seisura volitans, VIG. and HORSF.
Microeca macroptera, GOULD.
Smicrornis brevirostris, GOULD.
Corvus Coronoides, VIG. and HORSF.
Chlamydera maculata, GOULD.
Corcorax leucopterus, LESS.
Pomatorhinus trivirgatus, Temm.
------------ temporalis, VIG. and HORSF.
Cacatua galerita, Vieill.
------- Leadbeateri.
Licmetis nasicus, Wagl.
Calyptorhynchus Banksii, VIG. and HORSF.
--------------- Leachii
--------------- xanthonotus, GOULD.
Polytelis melanura.
Platycercus Baueri, VIG. and HORSF.
----------- Barnardi, VIG. and HORSF.
----------- Adelaidiae, GOULD.
----------- flaveolus, GOULD.
Psephotus multicolor.
--------- haematonotus, GOULD.
Melopsittacus undulatus.
Euphema aurantia, GOULD.
------- elegans, GOULD.
Pezoporus formosus.
Trichoglossus Swainsonii, JARD. and SELB.
Trichoglossus concinnus, VIG. and HORSF.
------------- pusillus, VIG. and HORSF.
------------- porphyrocephalus.
Climacteris scandens, TEMM.
----------- picumnus, TEMM.
Sittella melanocephala, GOULD.
Cuculus inornatus, VIG. and HORSF.
------- cineraceus, VIG. and HORSF.
Chalcites lucidus, VIG. and HORSF.
Meliphaga Novae-Hollandiae, VIG. and HORSF.
--------- Australasiana, VIG. and HORSF.
Glyciphila fulvifrons, SWAINS.
---------- albifrons, GOULD.
---------- ocularis, GOULD.
Ptilotis sonora, GOULD.
-------- cratitia, GOULD.
-------- ornata, GOULD.
-------- penicillata, GOULD.
Zanthomyza Phrygia, SWAINS.
Melicophila picata, GOULD.
Acanthogenys rufogularis, GOULD.
Anthochaera carunculata, VIG. and HORSF.
----------- mellivora, VIG. and HORSF.
Acanthorynchus tenuirostris.
Melithreptus gularis, GOULD.
------------ lunulata, VIEILL.
Myzantha garrula, VIG. and HORSF.


Phaps chalcoptera.
----- elegans.
Ocyphaps Lophotes.
Geopelia cuneata.
Dromeceius Novae-Hollandiae, VIEILL.
Otis Australasianus, GOULD.
OEdicnemus longipes, VIEILL.
Haematopus fuliginosus, GOULD.
---------- longirostris, VIEILL.
Eudromias Australis, GOULD.
Lobivanellus lobatus.
Sarciophorus pectoralis.
Charadrius Virginianus?
Hiaticula monacha.
--------- nigrifrons.
--------- ruficapilla.
Erythrogonys cinctus, GOULD.
Leipoa ocellata, GOULD.
Pedionomus torquatus, GOULD.
Turnix varius.
------ velox, GOULD.
Coturnix pectoralis, GOULD.
Synoicus Australis.
-------- Sinensis.


Grus Antigone?
Platalea regia, GOULD.
-------- flavipes, GOULD.
Ardea cinerea?
----- pacifica, LATH.
----- Novae-Hollandiae, LATH.
Nycticorax Caledonicus, LESS.
Botaurus Australis, GOULD.
Ibis Falcinellus, LINN.
Numenius Australasianus.
Numenius uropygialis, GOULD.
Recurvirostra rubricollis, TEMM.
Chladorhynchus pectoralis.
Himantopus leucocephalus, GOULD.
Limosa ----------?
Glottis Glottoides.
Pelidna ----------? like P. MINUTA.
Scolopax Australis, LATH.
Rhynchaea Australis, GOULD.
Porphyrio melanotus, TEMM.
Tribonyx ventralis, GOULD.
Gallinula immaculata.
Rallus Philipensis? LINN.


Cygnus atratus.
Anseranas melanoleuca.
Leptotarsis Eytoni, GOULD.
Cereopsis Novae-Hollandiae, LATH.
Casarka Tadornoides.
Biziura lobata, SHAW.
Bernicla jubata.
Anas Novae-Hollandiae, LATH.
---- naevosa, GOULD.
---- castanea.
Nyroca Australis, Eyton.
Rhynchapsis Rhynchotis, STEPH.
Malacorhynchus membranaceus, SWAINS.
Podiceps Australis, GOULD.
-------- poliocephalus, JARD. and SELB.
-------- gularis, GOULD.
Phalacrocorax pica.
------------- leucogaster, GOULD.
Phalacrocorax sulcirostris.
------------- melanoleucus.
Plotus Le Vaillantii?
Pelecanus spectabilis, TEMM.
Sula Australis, GOULD.
Spheniscus minor.
Lestris catarrhactes.
Laras leucomelas.
Xema Jamesonii, WILS.
Sterna poliocerca, GOULD.
------ velox, GOULD.
Sternella nereis, GOULD.
Hydrochelidon fluviatilis.
Diomedea exulans, LINN.
-------- cauta, GOULD.
-------- melanophrys, TEMM.
-------- chlororhyncha, LATH.
-------- fuliginosa.
Procellaria gigantea, GMEL.
----------- perspicillata, GOULD.
----------- hasitata, FORST.
----------- leucocephala.
----------- Solandri, GOULD.
Daption Capensis, STEPH.
Prion vittata, CUV.
----- Banksii.
----- Turtur.
----- Ariel, GOULD.
Puffinus brevicaudus, GOULD.
Puffinuria urinatrix, LESS.
Thalassidroma Wilsoni.
------------- nereis, GOULD.
------------- melanogaster, GOULD.

The preceding list comprises the birds inhabiting the settled districts
of South Australia: viz. the Murray, from the great bend to the sea, the
fertile districts sixty miles northward and southward of Adelaide,
Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln, etc. When the remote parts of the colony
have been explored, it will doubtless become necessary to add to it many
other species common to New South Wales and Western Australia.--J. G.



Chapter I.


Glancing hastily around the camp I found it deserted by the two younger
native boys, whilst the scattered fragments of our baggage, which I left
carefully piled under the oilskin, lay thrown about in wild disorder, and
at once revealed the cause of the harrowing scene before me.

Upon raising the body of my faithful, but illfated follower, I found that
he was beyond all human aid; he had been shot through the left breast
with a ball, the last convulsions of death were upon him, and he expired
almost immediately after our arrival. The frightful, the appalling truth
now burst upon me, that I was alone in the desert. He who had faithfully
served me for many years, who had followed my fortunes in adversity and
in prosperity, who had accompanied me in all my wanderings, and whose
attachment to me had been his sole inducement to remain with me in this
last, and to him alas, fatal journey, was now no more. For an instant, I
was almost tempted to wish that it had been my own fate instead of his.
The horrors of my situation glared upon me in such startling reality, as
for an instant almost to paralyse the mind. At the dead hour of night, in
the wildest and most inhospitable wastes of Australia, with the fierce
wind raging in unison with the scene of violence before me, I was left,
with a single native, whose fidelity I could not rely upon, and who for
aught I knew might be in league with the other two, who perhaps were even
now, lurking about with the view of taking away my life as they had done
that of the overseer. Three days had passed away since we left the last
water, and it was very doubtful when we might find any more. Six hundred
miles of country had to be traversed, before I could hope to obtain the
slightest aid or assistance of any kind, whilst I knew not that a single
drop of water or an ounce of flour had been left by these murderers, from
a stock that had previously been so small.

With such thoughts rapidly passing through my mind, I turned to search
for my double-barelled gun, which I had left covered with an oilskin at
the head of my own break wind. It was gone, as was also the
double-barelled gun that had belonged to the overseer. These were the
only weapons at the time that were in serviceable condition, for though
there were a brace of pistols they had been packed away, as there were no
cartridges for them, and my rifle was useless, from having a ball
sticking fast in the breech, and which we had in vain endeavoured to
extract. A few days' previous to our leaving the last water, the overseer
had attempted to wash out the rifle not knowing it was loaded, and the
consequence was, that the powder became wetted and partly washed away, so
that we could neither fire it off, nor get out the ball; I was,
therefore, temporarily defenceless, and quite at the mercy of the
natives, had they at this time come upon me. Having hastily ripped open
the bag in which the pistols had been sewn up, I got them out, together
with my powder flask, and a bag containing a little shot and some large
balls. The rifle I found where it had been left, but the ramrod had been
taken out by the boys to load my double-barelled gun with, its own ramrod
being too short for that purpose; I found it, however, together with
several loose cartridges, lying about near the place where the boys had
slept, so that it was evident they had deliberately loaded the fire-arms
before they tried to move away with the things they had stolen; one
barrel only of my gun had been previously loaded, and I believe neither
barrels in that of the overseer.

After obtaining possession of all the remaining arms, useless as they
were at the moment, with some ammunition, I made no further examination
then, but hurried away from the fearful scene, accompanied by the King
George's Sound native, to search for the horses, knowing that if they got
away now, no chance whatever would remain of saving our lives. Already
the wretched animals had wandered to a considerable distance; and
although the night was moonlight, yet the belts of scrub, intersecting
the plains, were so numerous and dense, that for a long time we could not
find them; having succeeded in doing so at last, Wylie and I remained
with them, watching them during the remainder of the night; but they were
very restless, and gave us a great deal of trouble. With an aching heart,
and in most painful reflections, I passed this dreadful night. Every
moment appeared to be protracted to an hour, and it seemed as if the
daylight would never appear. About midnight the wind ceased, and the
weather became bitterly cold and frosty. I had nothing on but a shirt and
a pair of trowsers, and suffered most acutely from the cold; to mental
anguish was now added intense bodily pain. Suffering and distress had
well nigh overwhelmed me, and life seemed hardly worth the effort
necessary to prolong it. Ages can never efface the horrors of this single
night, nor would the wealth of the world ever tempt me to go through
similar ones again.

April 30.--At last, by God's blessing, daylight dawned once more, but sad
and heart-rending was the scene it presented to my view, upon driving the
horses to what had been our last night's camp. The corpse of my poor
companion lay extended on the ground, with the eyes open, but cold and
glazed in death. The same stern resolution, and fearless open look, which
had characterized him when living, stamped the expression of his
countenance even now. He had fallen upon his breast four or five yards
from where he had been sleeping, and was dressed only in his shirt. In
all probability, the noise made by the natives, in plundering the camp,
had awoke him; and upon his jumping up, with a view of stopping them,
they had fired upon and killed him.

Around the camp lay scattered the harness of the horses, and the remains
of the stores that had been the temptation to this fatal deed.

As soon as the horses were caught, and secured, I left Wylie to make a
fire, whilst I proceeded to examine into the state of our baggage, that I
might decide upon our future proceedings. Among the principal things
carried off by the natives, were, the whole of our baked bread, amounting
to twenty pounds weight, some mutton, tea and sugar, the overseer's
tobacco and pipes, a one gallon keg full of water, some clothes, two
double-barrelled guns, some ammunition, and a few other small articles.

There were still left forty pounds of flour, a little tea and sugar, and
four gallons of water, besides the arms and ammunition I had secured last

From the state of our horses, and the dreadful circumstances we were
placed in, I was now obliged to abandon every thing but the bare
necessaries of life. The few books and instruments I had still left, with
many of the specimens I had collected, a saddle, and some other things,
were thrown aside to lighten somewhat more the trifling loads our animals
had to carry. A little bread was then baked, and I endeavoured once more
to put the rifle in serviceable condition, as it was the only weapon we
should have to depend upon in any dangers that might beset us. Unable in
any way to take out the breech, or to extract the ball, I determined to
melt it out, and for that purpose took the barrel off the stock, and put
the breech in the fire, holding the muzzle in my hand. Whilst thus
engaged, the rifle went off, the ball whizzing close past my head; the
fire, it seems, had dried the powder, which had been wetted, not washed
out; and when the barrel was sufficiently heated, the piece had gone off,
to the imminent danger of my life, from the incautious way in which I
held it. The gun, however, was again serviceable; and after carefully
loading it, I felt a degree of confidence and security I had before been
a stranger to.

At eight o'clock we were ready to proceed; there remained but to perform
the last sad offices of humanity towards him, whose career had been cut
short in so untimely a manner. This duty was rendered even more than
ordinarily painful, by the nature of the country, where we happened to
have been encamped. One vast unbroken surface of sheet rock extended for
miles in every direction, and rendered it impossible to make a grave. We
were some miles away from the sea-shore, and even had we been nearer,
could not have got down the cliffs to bury the corpse in the sand. I
could only, therefore, wrap a blanket around the body of the overseer,
and leaving it enshrouded where he fell, escape from the melancholy
scene, accompanied by Wylie, under the influence of feelings which
neither time nor circumstances will ever obliterate. Though years have
now passed away since the enactment of this tragedy, the dreadful horrors
of that time and scene, are recalled before me with frightful vividness,
and make me shudder even now, when I think of them. A life time was
crowded into those few short hours, and death alone may blot out the
impressions they produced.

For some time we travelled slowly and silently onwards. Wylie preceding,
leading one of the horses, myself following behind and driving the others
after him, through a country consisting still of the same alternations of
scrub and open intervals as before. The day became very warm, and at
eleven, after travelling ten miles to the west, I determined to halt
until the cool of the evening. After baking some bread and getting our
dinners, I questioned Wylie as to what he knew of the sad occurrence of
yesterday. He positively denied all knowledge of it--said he had been
asleep, and was awoke by the report of the gun, and that upon seeing the
overseer lying on the ground he ran off to meet me. He admitted, however,
that, after the unsuccessful attempt to leave us, and proceed alone to
King George's Sound, the elder of the other two natives had proposed to
him again to quit the party, and try to go back to Fowler's Bay, to the
provisions buried there. But he had heard or knew nothing, he said, of
either robbery or murder being first contemplated.

My own impression was, that Wylie had agreed with the other two to rob
the camp and leave us;--that he had been cognisant of all their
proceedings and preparations, but that when, upon the eve of their
departure, the overseer had unexpectedly awoke and been murdered, he was
shocked and frightened at the deed, and instead of accompanying them, had
run down to meet me. My opinion upon this point received additional
confirmation from the subsequent events of this day; but I never could
get Wylie to admit even the slightest knowledge of the fatal occurrence,
or that he had even intended to have united with them in plundering the
camp and deserting. He had now become truly alarmed; and independently of
the fear of the consequences which would attach to the crime, should we
ever reach a civilized community again, he had become very apprehensive
that the other natives, who belonged to quite a different part of
Australia to himself, and who spoke a totally different language, would
murder him as unhesitatingly as they had done the white man.

We remained in camp until four o'clock, and were again preparing to
advance, when my attention was called by Wylie to two white objects among
the scrub, at no great distance from us, and I at once recognized the
native boys, covered with their blankets only, and advancing towards us.
From Wylie's account of their proposal to go back towards Fowler's Bay, I
fully hoped that they had taken that direction, and left us to pursue our
way to the Sound unmolested. I was therefore surprised, and somewhat
alarmed, at finding them so near us. With my rifle and pistols I felt
myself sufficiently a match for them in an open country, or by daylight.
Yet I knew that as long as they followed like bloodhounds on our tracks
our lives would be in their power at any moment that they chose to take
them, whilst we were passing through a scrubby country, or by night.
Whatever their intention might be, I knew, that if we travelled in the
same direction with them, our lives could only be safe by their
destruction. Although they had taken fully one-third of the whole stock
of our provisions, their appetites were so ravenous, and their habits so
improvident, that this would soon be consumed, and then they must either
starve or plunder us; for they had already tried to subsist themselves in
the bush, and had failed.

As these impressions rapidly passed through my mind, there appeared to me
but one resource left, to save my own life and that of the native with
me: that was, to shoot the elder of the two. Painful as this would be, I
saw no other alternative, if they still persisted in following us. After
packing up our few things, and putting them upon the horses, I gave the
bridles to Wylie to hold, whilst I advanced alone with my rifle towards
the two natives. They were now tolerably near, each carrying a
double-barrelled gun, which was pointed towards me, elevated across the
left arm and held by the right hand. As I attempted to approach nearer
they gradually retreated.

Finding that I was not likely to gain ground upon them in this way, I
threw down my weapons, and advanced unarmed, hoping that if they let me
near them I might suddenly close with the eldest and wrest his gun from
him. After advancing about sixty or seventy yards towards them, I found
that they again began to retreat, evidently determined not to let me
approach any nearer, either armed or unarmed. Upon this I halted, and
endeavoured to enter into parley with them, with a view to persuading
them to return towards Fowler's Bay, and thus obviate the painful
necessity I should have been under of endeavouring, for my own security,
to take away the life of the eldest whenever I met with him, should they
still persist in going the same road as myself. The distance we were
apart was almost too great for parley, and I know not whether they heard
me or not; though they halted, and appeared to listen, they did not reply
to what I said, and plainly wished to avoid all closer contact. They now
began to call incessantly to Wylie, and in answer to my repeated efforts
to get them to speak to me, only would say, "Oh massa, we don't want you,
we want Wylie." Thus fully confirming me in the opinion I had formed,
that Wylie had agreed to go with them before the deed of violence was
committed. It was now apparent to me that their only present object in
following us had been to look for Wylie, and get him to join them. In
this they were unsuccessful; for he still remained quietly where I left
him holding the horses, and evidently afraid to go near them. There was
no use wasting further time, as I could not get them to listen to me. The
sun, too, was fast sinking in the horizon, we had been four days without
finding water, and the probability was we had very far still to go before
we could hope to procure any; every moment, therefore, was precious.

Having returned to Wylie, I made him lead one of the horses in advance,
and I followed behind, driving the rest after him, according to the
system of march I had adopted in the morning. As soon as the two natives
saw us moving on, and found Wylie did not join them, they set up a wild
and plaintive cry, still following along the brush parallel to our line
of route, and never ceasing in their importunities to Wylie, until the
denseness of the scrub, and the closing in of night, concealed us from
each other.

I was now resolved to make the most of the opportunity afforded me, and
by travelling steadily onwards, to gain so much distance in advance of
the two natives as to preclude the possibility of their again overtaking
us until we had reached the water, if indeed we were ever destined to
reach water again. I knew that they would never travel more than a few
miles before lying down, especially if carrying all the bread they had
taken, the keg of water, guns, and other articles. We had, however, seen
none of these things with them, except the fire-arms.

Our road was over scrubby and stony undulations, with patches of dry
grass here and there; in other parts, we passed over a very sandy soil of
a red colour, and overrun by immense tufts of prickly grass (spinifex),
many of which were three and four yards in diameter. After pushing on for
eighteen miles, I felt satisfied we had left the natives far behind, and
finding a patch of grass for the horses, halted for the remainder of the
night. It was quite impossible, after all we had gone through, to think
of watching the horses, and my only means of preventing from them
straying, was to close the chains of their hobbles so tight, that they
could not go far; having thus secured them, we lay down, and for a few
hours enjoyed uninterrupted and refreshing sleep.

Moving on again on the 1st of May, as the sun was above the horizon, we
passed through a continuation of the same kind of country, for sixteen
miles, and then halted for a few hours during the heat of the day. We had
passed many recent traces of natives both yesterday and to-day, who
appeared to be travelling to the westward. After dividing a pot of tea
between us, we again pushed on for twelve miles, completing a stage of
twenty-eight miles, and halting, with a little dry grass for the horses.

It was impossible they could endure this much longer, they had already
been five days without water, and I did not expect to meet with any for
two days more, a period which I did not think they could survive. As yet
no very great change had taken place in the country; it was still scrubby
and rocky, but the surface stone now consisted of a cream-coloured
limestone of a fine compact character, and full of shells. The cliffs,
parallel with which we were travelling, were still of about the same
height, appearance, and formation as before, whilst the inland country
increased in elevation, forming scrubby ridges to the back, with a few
open grassy patches here and there. One circumstance in our route to-day
cheered me greatly, and led me shortly to expect some important and
decisive change in the character and formation of the country. It was the
appearance for the first time of the Banksia, a shrub which I had never
before found to the westward of Spencer's Gulf, but which I knew to
abound in the vicinity of King George's Sound, and that description of
country generally. Those only who have looked out with the eagerness and
anxiety of a person in my situation, to note any change in the vegetation
or physical appearance of a country, can appreciate the degree of
satisfaction with which I recognised and welcomed the first appearance of
the Banksia. Isolated as it was amidst the scrub, and insignificant as
the stunted specimens were that I first met with, they led to an
inference that I could not be mistaken in, and added, in a tenfold
degree, to the interest and expectation with which every mile of our
route had now become invested. During the day the weather had been again
cloudy, with the appearance of rain; but the night turned out cold and
frosty, and both I and the native suffered extremely. We had little to
protect us from the severity of the season, never being able to procure
firewood of a description that would keep burning long at once, so that
between cold and fatigue, we were rarely able to get more than a few
moments rest at a time; and were always glad when daylight dawned to
cheer us, although it only aroused us to the renewal of our unceasing

May 2.--We again moved away at dawn, through a country which gradually
become more scrubby, hilly, and sandy. The horses crawled on for
twenty-one miles, when I halted for an hour to rest, and to have a little
tea from our now scanty stock of water. The change which I had noticed
yesterday in the vegetation of the country, was greater and more cheering
every mile we went, although as yet the country itself was as desolate
and inhospitable as ever. The smaller Banksias now abounded, whilst the
Banksia grandis, and many other shrubs common at King George's Sound,
were frequently met with. The natives, whose tracks we had so frequently
met with, taking the same course as ourselves to the westward, seemed now
to be behind us; during the morning we had passed many freshly lit fires,
but the people themselves remained concealed; we had now lost all traces
of them, and the country seemed untrodden and untenanted. In the course
of our journey this morning, we met with many holes in the sheets of
limestone, which occasionally coated the surface of the ground; in these
holes the natives appeared to procure an abundance of water after rains,
but it was so long since any had fallen, that all were dry and empty now.
In one deep hole only, did we find the least trace of moisture; this had
at the bottom of it, perhaps a couple of wine glasses full of mud and
water, and was most carefully blocked up from the birds with huge stones:
it had evidently been visited by natives, not an hour before we arrived
at it, but I suspect they were as much disappointed as we were, upon
rolling away all the stones to find nothing in it.

After our scanty meal, we again moved onwards, but the road became so
scrubby and rocky, or so sandy and hilly, that we could make no progress
at all by night, and at eight miles from where we dined, we were
compelled to halt, after a day's journey of twenty-nine miles; but
without a blade even of withered grass for our horses, which was the more
grievous, because for the first time since we left the last water, a very
heavy dew fell, and would have enabled them to feed a little, had there
been grass. We had now traversed 138 miles of country from the last
water, and according to my estimate of the distance we had to go, ought
to be within a few miles of the termination of the cliffs of the Great

May 3.--The seventh day's dawn found us early commencing our journey. The
poor horses still crawled on, though slowly. I was surprised that they
were still alive, after the continued sufferings and privations they had
been subject to. As for ourselves, we were both getting very weak and
worn out, as well as lame, and it was with the greatest difficulty I
could get Wylie to move, if he once sat down. I had myself the same kind
of apathetic feeling, and would gladly have laid down and slept for ever.
Nothing but a strong sense of duty prevented me from giving way to this
pleasing but fatal indulgence.

The road to-day became worse than ever, being one continued succession of
sandy, scrubby and rocky ridges, and hollows formed on the top of the
cliffs along which our course lay. After travelling two and a half miles,
however, we were cheered and encouraged by the sight of sandy hills, and
a low coast stretching beyond the cliffs to the south-west, though they
were still some distance from us. At ten miles from where we had slept, a
native road led us down a very steep part of the cliffs, and we descended
to the beach. The wretched horses could scarcely move, it was with the
greatest difficulty we got them down the hill, and now, although within
sight of our goal, I feared two of them would never reach it. By
perseverance we still got them slowly along, for two miles from the base
of the cliffs, and then turning in among the sand-drifts, to our great
joy and relief, found a place where the natives had dug for water; thus
at twelve o'clock on the seventh day since leaving the last depot, we
were again encamped at water, after having crossed 150 miles of a rocky,
barren, and scrubby table land.

Chapter II.


Having at last got fairly beyond all the cliffs bounding the Great Bight,
I fully trusted that we had now overcome the greatest difficulties of the
undertaking, and confidently hoped that there would be no more of those
fearful long journeys through the desert without water, but that the
character of the country would be changed, and so far improved as to
enable us to procure it, once at least every thirty or forty miles, if
not more frequently.

Relieved from the pressure of immediate toil, and from the anxiety and
suspense I had been in on the subject of water, my mind wandered to the
gap created in my little party since we had last been at water; more than
ever, almost, did I feel the loss of my overseer, now that the last and
most difficult of our forced marches had been successfully accomplished,
and that there was every hope of our progress for the future, being both
less difficult and more expeditious. How delighted he would have been had
he been with us to participate in the successful termination of a stage,
which he had ever dreaded more than any other during the whole of our
journey, and with what confidence and cheerfulness he would have gone on
for the future. Out of five two only were now present; our little band
had been severed never to be reunited; and I could not but blame myself
for yielding to the overseer's solicitation to halt on the evening of the
29th April, instead of travelling on all night as I had originally
intended: had I adhered to my own judgment all might yet have been well.
Vain and bootless, however, now were all regrets for the irrecoverable
past; but the present was so fraught with circumstances calculated to
recal and to make me feel more bitterly the loss I had sustained, that
painful as the subject was, the mind could not help reverting to and
dwelling upon it.

Having given each of the horses a bucket of water, Wylie watched them
whilst I cooked our dinner and made some tea, after getting which we
again gave the horses another bucket of water a-piece, hobbled them out
for the night, and then lay down ourselves, feeling perfectly secure from
being overtaken by the native boys. We were obliged to place ourselves
close to the hole of water to keep the horses from getting into it, as
they were thirsty and restless, and kept walking round the well nearly
the whole night, and feeding very little. We ourselves, too, although
dreadfully tired and weak, were so cold and restless, that we slept but
little. I had also a large swelling on two of the joints of the second
finger of the right hand, which gave me very great pain.

May 4.--After an early breakfast we gave the horses as much water as they
chose to drink, and removing their hobbles gave them full liberty to
range where they liked. I then left Wylie to continue his slumbers, and
taking my rifle, walked about three miles among the sand-drifts to search
for grass, but could find none, except the coarse vegetation that grew
amongst the sand-drifts. I found two other places where the natives got
water by digging, and have no doubt that it may be procured almost
anywhere in these drifts, which extend for some miles, along the coast.
Some black cockatoos made their appearance near the sand-hills,
indicating, in connection with the change I had noticed in the
vegetation, that we were now about entering a different and less
difficult country than any we had yet traversed. These birds I knew never
inhabited that description of country we had been so long travelling
through. We had not seen one before, during our whole journey, and poor
Wylie was quite delighted at the idea of our vicinity to a better region.

During the day a strict look out was kept for the other two natives, and
at night, after watering the horses and concealing the saddles, we took
our provisions and arms up among the sand-hills, and slept there at some
distance from the water: that if they travelled onwards by moon-light,
they might not come upon us unawares whilst sleeping. If they had
continued their route to the westward, they would, I knew, both have a
severe task to reach the water, and be unable to go to it without our
knowledge; the youngest boy I did not think would prove equal to so
arduous a task, but the elder one I thought might, if his courage and
perseverance did not fail him in travelling so far, without any
indications to lead him to hope for final success, save the fact of our
having gone on before. Upon the whole, however, I thought it more than
probable that on finding they could not get Wylie to join them, and that
they could not keep pace with us, they would turn back, and endeavour to
put in practice their original intention of trying to reach Fowler's Bay.
Still it was necessary to be cautious and vigilant. A few days at most
would decide whether they were advancing this way or not, and until
satisfied upon this point, I determined to take every precaution in my
power to guard against a surprise. My hand was dreadfully painful at
night, and quite deprived me of all rest.

May 5.--Up before day-break, and moved down to the water to breakfast,
then examined carefully round the wells, and between the sand-drifts and
the sea, to see if any foot-prints had been made during the night, but
none had. There were many pigeons about, and as I had still some
ammunition left, I felt the loss of my gun severely. During the morning a
very large eagle came and settled near us, and I sent Wylie with the
rifle to try to shoot it; he crept within a very few yards of it, and
being a good shot, I felt sure of a hearty meal, but unfortunately the
rifle missed fire, having got damp during the heavy fall of dew a few
evenings before. We lost our dinner, but I received a useful lesson on
the necessity of taking better care of the only gun I had left, and being
always certain that it was in a fit and serviceable state; I immediately
set to work, cleaned and oiled it, and in the afternoon made some
oil-skin covers for the lock and muzzle to keep the damp from it at
nights. For the last day or two I had been far from well, whilst my
inflamed hand, which was daily getting worse, caused me most excruciating
pain, and quite destroyed my rest at nights. In the evening we again
retired among the sand-hills to sleep.

May 6.--After breakfast we carefully examined the sand-drifts and the
sea-shore, to see if the two boys had passed, but there were no traces of
them to be found, and I now felt that we were secure from all further
interruption from them. Three days we had been in camp at the water,
making altogether a period of six since we last saw them. Had they
continued their course to the westward, they must have arrived long
before this, and I now felt satisfied that they had turned back to
Fowler's Bay for the sake of the provisions buried there, or else they
had fallen in with the natives, whose traces we had so repeatedly seen,
and either joined them, or been killed by them.

It was now apparent to me beyond all doubt, that in following us on the
30th of April, so far out of the direction they ought to have taken if
they intended to go to the eastward, their only object had been to get
Wylie to accompany them. As he was the eldest of the three, and a strong
full grown man, they would have found him a protection to them from his
superior age, strength and skill. As it was they had but little chance of
making their way safely either to the east or west. At the time I last
saw them they were sixty-three miles from the nearest water in the former
direction, and eighty-seven miles from that in the latter. They were
tired and exhausted from previous walking, and in this state would have
to carry the guns, the provisions, and other things they had taken. This
would necessarily retard their progress, and lengthen out the period
which must elapse before they could obtain water in any direction. On the
night of the 29th April they must have had one gallon of water with them,
but when we saw them on the 30th, I have no doubt, that with their usual
improvidence, they had consumed the whole, and would thus have to undergo
the fatigue of carrying heavy weights, as well as walking for a
protracted period, without any thing to relieve their thirst. Their
difficulties and distress would gradually but certainly increase upon
them, and they would then, in all likelihood, throw away their guns or
their provisions, and be left in the desert unarmed, without food or
water, and without skill or energy to direct them successfully to search
for either. A dreadful and lingering death would in all probability
terminate the scene, aggravated in all its horrors by the consciousness
that they had brought it entirely upon themselves. Painfully as I had
felt the loss of my unfortunate overseer, and shocked as I was at the
ruthless deed having been committed by these two boys, yet I could not
help feeling for their sad condition, the miseries and sufferings they
would have to encounter, and the probable fate that awaited them.

The youngest of the two had been with me for four years, the eldest for
two years and a half, and both had accompanied me in all my travels
during these respective periods. Now that the first and strong
impressions naturally resulting from a shock so sudden and violent as
that produced by the occurrences of the 29th April, had yielded, in some
measure, to calmer reflections, I was able maturely to weigh the whole of
what had taken place, and to indulge in some considerations in
extenuation of their offence. The two boys knew themselves to be as far
from King George's Sound, as they had already travelled from Fowler's
Bay. They were hungry, thirsty, and tired, and without the prospect of
satisfying fully their appetites, or obtaining rest for a long period of
time, they probably thought, that bad and inhospitable as had been the
country we had already traversed, we were daily advancing into one still
more so, and that we never could succeed in forcing a passage through it;
and they might have been strengthened in this belief by the unlucky and
incautiously-expressed opinions of the overseer. It was natural enough,
under such circumstances, that they should wish to leave the party.
Having come to that determination, and knowing from previous experience,
that they could not subsist upon what they could procure for themselves
in the bush, they had resolved to take with them a portion of the
provisions we had remaining, and which they might look upon, perhaps, as
their share by right. Nor would Europeans, perhaps, have acted better. In
desperate circumstances men are ever apt to become discontented and
impatient of restraint, each throwing off the discipline and control he
had been subject to before, and each conceiving himself to have a right
to act independently when the question becomes one of life and death.

Having decided upon leaving the party, and stealing a portion of the
provisions, their object would be to accomplish this as effectually and
as safely as they could; and in doing this, they might, without having
had the slightest intention originally, of injuring either myself or the
overseer, have taken such precautions, and made such previous
arrangements as led to the fatal tragedy which occurred. All three of the
natives were well aware, that as long as they were willing to accompany
us, they would share with us whatever we had left; or that, if resolutely
bent upon leaving us, no restriction, save that of friendly advice, would
be imposed to prevent their doing so; but at the same time they were
aware that we would not have consented to divide our little stock of food
for the purpose of enabling any one portion of the party to separate from
the other, but rather that we would forcibly resist any attempts to
effect such a division, either openly or by stealth. They knew that they
never could succeed in their plans openly, and that to do so by stealth
effectually and safely, it would first be necessary to secure all the
fire-arms, that they might incur no risk from our being alarmed before
their purpose was completed. No opportunity had occurred to bring their
intentions into operation until the evening in question, when the scrubby
nature of the country, the wildness of the night, the overseer's sound
sleeping, and my own protracted absence, at a distance with the horses,
had all conspired to favour them. I have no doubt, that they first
extinguished the fires, and then possessing themselves of the fire-arms,
proceeded to plunder the baggage and select such things as they required.
In doing this they must have come across the ammunition, and loaded the
guns preparatory to their departure, but this might have been without any
premeditated intention of making use of them in the way they did. At this
unhappy juncture it would seem that the overseer must have awoke, and
advanced towards them to see what was the matter, or to put a stop to
their proceedings, when they fired on him, to save themselves from being
caught in their act of plunder. That either of the two should have
contemplated the committal of a wilful, barbarous, cold-blooded murder, I
cannot bring myself to believe--no object was to be attained by it; and
the fact of the overseer having been pierced through the breast, and many
yards in advance of where he had been sleeping, in a direction towards
the sleeping-place of the natives, clearly indicated that it was not
until he had arisen from his sleep, and had been closely pressing upon
them, that they had fired the fatal shot. Such appeared to me to be the
most plausible and rational explanation of this melancholy affair--I
would willingly believe it to be the true one.

Wylie and I moved on in the evening, with the horses for two miles, and
again pitched our camp among the sand-drifts, at a place where the
natives were in the habit of digging wells for water, and where we
procured it at a very moderate depth below the surface. Pigeons were here
in great numbers, and Wylie tried several times with the rifle to shoot
them, but only killed one, the grooved barrel not being adapted for
throwing shot with effect.

At midnight we arose and moved onwards, following along the beach. I
intended to have made a long stage, as I no longer had any fears about
not finding water; but at nine miles one of the horses knocked up, and
could proceed no farther, I was compelled, therefore, to turn in among
the sand-drifts, and halt at five in the morning of the 7th. We were
again fortunate in procuring water by digging only two feet under the
sand-hills, which were here very high, and were a continuation of those
in which we had first found water on the 3rd. In the afternoon, I again
tried to advance upon our journey, but after proceeding only four miles,
the jaded horse was again unable to move further, and there was no
alternative but to halt and search for water. This was found among the
sand-hills, but we could procure nothing but the coarse grass growing
upon the drifts for the animals to eat.

May 8.--About two hours before daylight, rain began to fall, and
continued steadily though lightly for three hours, so that enough had
fallen to deposit water in the ledges or holes of the rocks. The day was
wild and stormy, and we did not start until late. Even then we could only
get the tired horse along for three miles, and were again compelled to
halt. Water was still procured, by digging under the sand-hills, but we
had to sink much deeper than we had lately found occasion to do. It was
now plain, that the tired horse would never be able to keep pace with the
others, and that we must either abandon him, or proceed at a rate too
slow for the present state of our commissariat. Taking all things into
consideration, it appeared to me that it would be better to kill him at
once for food, and then remain here in camp for a time, living upon the
flesh, whilst the other horses were recruiting, after which I hoped we
might again be able to advance more expeditiously. Upon making this
proposal to Wylie, he was quite delighted at the idea, and told me
emphatically that he would sit up and eat the whole night. Our decision
arrived at, the sentence was soon executed. The poor animal was shot, and
Wylie and myself were soon busily employed in skinning him. Leaving me to
continue this operation, Wylie made a fire close to the carcase, and as
soon as he could get at a piece of the flesh he commenced roasting some,
and continued alternately, eating, working and cooking. After cutting off
about 100 pounds of the best of the meat, and hanging it in strips upon
the trees until our departure, I handed over to Wylie the residue of the
carcase, feet, entrails, flesh, skeleton, and all, to cook and consume as
he pleased, whilst we were in the neighbourhood. Before dark he had made
an oven, and roasted about twenty pounds, to feast upon during the night.
The evening set in stormy, and threatened heavy rain, but a few drops
only fell. The wind then rose very high, and raged fiercely from the
south-west. At midnight it lulled, and the night became intensely cold
and frosty, and both Wylie and myself suffered severely, we could only
get small sticks for our fire, which burned out in a few minutes, and
required so frequently renewing, that we were obliged to give it up in
despair, and bear the cold in the best way we could. Wylie, during the
night, made a sad and dismal groaning, and complained of being very ill,
from pain in his throat, the effect he said of having to work too hard. I
did not find that his indisposition interfered very greatly with his
appetite, for nearly every time I awoke during the night, I found him up
and gnawing away at his meat, he was literally fulfilling the promise he
had made me in the evening, "By and bye, you see, Massa, me 'pta' (eat)
all night."

May 9.--The day was cold and cloudy, and we remained in camp to rest the
horses, and diminish the weight of meat, which was greater than our
horses could well carry in their present state. On getting up the horses
to water them at noon, I was grieved to find the foal of my favourite
mare (which died on the 28th March) missing; how we had lost it I could
not make out, but as its tracks were not any where visible near the camp,
it was evident that it had never come there at all. In leaving our last
halting place my time and attention had been so taken up with getting the
weak horse along, that I had left it entirely to Wylie to bring up the
others, and had neglected my usual precaution of counting to see if all
were there before we moved away. The little creature must have been lying
down behind the sand-hills asleep, when we left, or otherwise it would
never have remained behind the others. Being very desirous not to lose
this foal, which had now accompanied me so far and got through all the
worst difficulties, I saddled the strongest of the horses, and mounting
Wylie, I set off myself on foot with him to search for it. We had not
gone far from the camp, when Wylie wished me to go back, offering to go
on by himself; and as I was loth to leave our provisions and ammunition
to the mercy of any native that might chance to go that way, I acceded to
his request, and delivering to him the rifle, returned to the encampment.
Wylie had pledged himself to the due execution of this errand, and I had
some confidence that he would not deceive me. Hour after hour passed away
without his return, and I began to be uneasy at his long delay, and half
repented that I had been so foolish as to trust the rifle in his hands.
At last, a little after dark, I was delighted to see him return, followed
by the foal, which he had found six miles away and still travelling
backwards in search of the horses. Having given him an extra allowance of
bread as a reward for his good conduct, we took our tea and lay down for
the night.

During the day, whilst Wylie was absent, I had employed my time in
collecting firewood from the back of the sand-hills. In this occupation I
was pleased to meet with the silver-bark tea-tree, another change in the
vegetation, which still further convinced me that we were rapidly
advancing into a more practicable country.

May 10.--The morning was spent in washing my clothes, cooking meat, and
preparing to move on in the afternoon. Wylie, who knew that this was his
last opportunity, was busy with the skeleton of the horse, and never
ceased eating until we moved on in the afternoon. As we took away with us
nearly a hundred pounds of the flesh, the poor horses were heavily laden
for the condition they were in. The scrubby and swampy nature of the
country behind the shore compelled us too to keep the beach, where the
sands were loose and heavy. Our progress was slow, and at eight miles I
halted. Here we found a little dry grass not far from the sea, and as the
horses did not require water, they fared tolerably well. This was the
first grass we had met with since we descended the cliffs on the 3rd
instant. The horses having entirely subsisted since then on the wiry
vegetation which binds the sand-drifts together. Although we had water in
the canteens for ourselves, and the horses did not require any, I was
curious to know whether fresh water could be procured where we were
encamped--a long, low and narrow tongue of sandy land, lying between the
sea on one side and extensive salt swamps on the other, and in no part
elevated more than a few feet above the level of the sea itself. After
tea I took the spade and commenced digging, and to my great surprise at
six feet I obtained water, which though brackish was very palatable. This
was very extraordinary, considering the nature of the position we were
in, and that there were not any hills from which the fresh water could

The night was again bitterly cold and frosty, and we suffered severely.
Now the winter had set in, and we were sadly unprepared to meet its
inclemency, the cold at nights became so intense as to occasion me
agonies of pain; and the poor native was in the same predicament.

May 11.--Upon moving away this morning, I kept behind the sea shore along
the borders of the salt swamp, steering for some sand-hills which were
seen a-head of us. A hill was now visible in the distance, a little south
of west, rising above the level bank behind the shore,--this was the
first hill, properly so called, that we had met with for many hundreds of
miles, and it tended not a little to cheer us and confirm all previous
impressions relative to the change and improvement in the character of
the country. Our horses were dreadfully fatigued and moved along with
difficulty, and it was as much as we could do to reach the sand-hills we
had seen, though only seven miles away. In our approach to them we passed
through a fine plain full of grass, and of a much better description than
we had met with since leaving Fowler's Bay. Not only was it long and in
the greatest abundance, but there were also mixed with the old grass many
stalks of new and green, the whole forming a rich and luxurious feast for
our horses, such as they had not enjoyed for many a long day. Nearer to
the sand-hills we obtained excellent water by digging, at a depth of five
feet, and only half a mile away from the grass. This place was too
favourable not to be made the most of, and I determined to halt for a day
or two to give our horses the benefit of it, and to enable us to diminish
the weight of meat they had to carry. Whilst here I gave Wylie free
permission to eat as much as he could,--a privilege which he was not long
in turning to account. Between last night's supper and this morning's
breakfast he had got through six-and-a-half pounds of solid cooked flesh,
weighed out and free from bone, and he then complained, that as he had so
little water (the well had fallen in and he did not like the trouble of
cleaning it out again), he could hardly eat at all. On an average he
would consume nine pounds of meat per day. I used myself from two to
three when undergoing very great exertions. After dinner I ascended one
of the sand-hills, and set the hill I had seen in the morning at W. 17
degrees S.

May 12.--I intended this morning to have walked down to the beach, but
was suddenly taken ill with similar symptoms to those I had experienced
on the 19th, and 21st of April; and, as formerly, I attributed the
illness entirely to the unwholesome nature of the meat diet. Wylie was
ill too, but not to so great a degree; nor was I surprised at his
complaining; indeed, it would have been wonderful if he had not,
considering the enormous quantity of horse flesh that he daily devoured.
After his feasts, he would lie down, and roll and groan, and say he was
"mendyt" (ill) and nothing would induce him to get up, or to do any
thing. There were now plenty of sting-ray fish along the beach again, and
I was desirous, if possible, to get one for a change of diet; my friend,
however, had so much to eat, that though he said he should like fish too,
I could not get him to go about a mile to the back of the sand-hills, to
cut a stick from the scrub, to make a spear for catching them.

May 13.--After breakfast, Wylie said he thought he could catch some
bandicoots, by firing the scrub near the sand-hills, and went out for an
hour or two to try, but came back as he went. During his absence, I was
employed in repairing my only two pair of socks now left, which were
sadly dilapidated, but of which I was obliged to be very careful, as they
were the only security I had against getting lame. In the afternoon I
walked down to the beach, to try to spear sting-ray, but the sea was
rough, and I saw none. In my ramble, I found plenty of the beautiful
white clematis, so common both to the north and south of Sydney.

May 14.--I was again seized with illness, though I had been particularly
careful in the quantity of flesh which I had used. For many hours I
suffered most excruciating pains; and after the violence of the attack
was over, I was left very weak, and incapable of exertion. Wylie was also
affected. It was evident that the food we were now living upon, was not
wholesome or nutritious. Day after day we felt ourselves getting weaker
and more relaxed, whilst the least change of weather, or the slightest
degree of cold, was most painfully felt by both of us. What we were to do
in the wet weather, which might daily be expected, I knew not, suffering
as we did from the frosts and dews only. In the state we now were in, I
do not think that we could have survived many days' exposure to wet.

May 15.--I intended to have proceeded early on our journey this morning,
but was so ill again, that for some hours I could not stir. The boy was
similarly situated. About ten we got a little better, and packing up our
things, moved away, but had scarcely gone more than a couple of miles
along the beach, when I discovered that the horse-hobbles had been left
behind. It was Wylie's duty always to take these off, and strap them
round the horses necks, whilst I was arranging the saddles, and fixing on
them our arms, provisions, etc.; he had forgotten to do this, and had left
them lying on the ground. As we could not possibly do without the
hobbles, I sent Wylie back for them, telling him I would drive on the
horses slowly for a few miles, and then halt to wait for him.

After proceeding eleven miles along the coast, I halted, and Wylie came
up a little before dark, bringing the hobbles with him. We were both very
hungry; and as we had suffered so much lately from eating the horse
flesh, we indulged to-night in a piece of bread, and a spoonful of flour
boiled into a paste, an extravagance which I knew we should have to make
up for by and bye. I had dug for water, and procured it at a depth of
five feet; but it was too brackish either to drink, or give to our
horses; we used it, however, in boiling up our flour into paste. The
afternoon was exceedingly dark and stormy looking, but only a few light
showers fell. The night then set in cold, with a heavy dew.

May 16.--We commenced our journey at daylight, travelling along the
beach, which was very heavy for nine miles, and then halting, at a very
low part of the coast, to rest the horses. Whilst here, I dug for water,
and getting it of very fair quality, though with an effluvia very like
Harrowgate water, I decided upon remaining for the day. We were very much
fatigued, being weak and languid, and like our horses, scarcely able to
put one foot before the other. From our present encampment, some islands
were visible at a bearing of S. 18 degrees E. The tops of the hills,
also, to the back, were visible above the level bank, which formed the
continuation of the singular table land extending round the Bight, but
which was now gradually declining in elevation, and appeared as if it
would very shortly cease altogether, so that we might hope to have an
unobstructed view of the country inland.

A jagged peak, which I named Mount Ragged, bore W. 10 degrees N., and a
round topped one W. 30 degrees N. We were now actually beyond those
hills; but the level bank, under which we had been travelling, prevented
our seeing more of them than the bare outline of their lofty summits. The
whole of the intervening country, between the level bank and the hills,
consisted of heavy sandy ridges, a good deal covered with scrub; but we
now found more grass than we had seen during the whole journey before. In
the night I was taken ill again, with violent pains, accompanied by cold
clammy sweats; and as the air was cold and raw, and a heavy dew falling,
I suffered a great deal.

May 17.--This morning I felt rather better, but very weak, and wishing to
give the horses an opportunity of drinking, which they would not do very
early on a cold morning, I did not break up the camp until late. Upon
laying down last night Wylie had left the meat on the ground at some
distance from our fire, instead of putting it up on a bush as I had
directed him, the consequence was that a wild dog had stolen about
fourteen pounds of it whilst we slept, and we were now again reduced to a
very limited allowance.

After travelling about five miles we found a great and important change
in the basis rock of the country; it was now a coarse imperfect kind of
grey granite, and in many places the low-water line was occupied by
immense sheets of it. Other symptoms of improvement also gradually
developed themselves. Mountain ducks were now, for the first time, seen
upon the shore, and the trunk of a very large tree was found washed up on
the beach: it was the only one we had met with during the whole course of
our journey to the westward, and I hailed it with a pleasure which was
only equalled by finding, not far beyond, a few drops of water trickling
down a huge graniterock abutting on the sea-shore. This was the only
approximation to running water which we had found since leaving Streaky
Bay, and though it hardly deserved that name, yet it imparted to me as
much hope, and almost as much satisfaction, as if I had found a river.
Continuing our course around a small bay for about five miles, we turned
into some sand-drifts behind a rocky point of the coast. from which the
islands we had seen yesterday bore E. 47 degrees S., Cape Pasley, S. W.,
Point Malcolm, S. 33 degrees W., and Mount Ragged W. 32 degrees N.
Several reefs and breakers were also seen at no great distance from the

Our stage to-day was only twelve miles, yet some of our horses were
nearly knocked up, and we ourselves in but little better condition. The
incessant walking we were subject to, the low and unwholesome diet we had
lived upon, the severe and weakening attacks of illness caused by that
diet, having daily, and sometimes twice a day, to dig for water, to carry
all our fire-wood from a distance upon our backs, to harness, unharness,
water, and attend to the horses, besides other trifling occupations,
making up our daily routine, usually so completely exhausted us, that we
had neither spirit nor energy left. Added to all other evils, the nature
of the country behind the sea-coast was as yet so sandy and scrubby that
we were still compelled to follow the beach, frequently travelling on
loose heavy sands, that rendered our stages doubly fatiguing: whilst at
nights, after the labours of the day were over, and we stood so much in
need of repose, the intense cold, and the little protection we had
against it, more frequently made it a season of most painful suffering
than of rest, and we were glad when the daylight relieved us once more.
On our march we felt generally weak and languid--it was an effort to put
one foot before the other, and there was an indisposition to exertion
that it was often very difficult to overcome. After sitting for a few
moments to rest--and we often had to do this--it was always with the
greatest unwillingness we ever moved on again. I felt, on such occasions,
that I could have sat quietly and contentedly, and let the glass of life
glide away to its last sand. There was a dreamy kind of pleasure, which
made me forgetful or careless of the circumstances and difficulties by
which I was surrounded, and which I was always indisposed to break in
upon. Wylie was even worse than myself, I had often much difficulty in
getting him to move at all, and not unfrequently was compelled almost
forcibly to get him up. Fortunately he was very good tempered, and on the
whole had behaved extremely well under all our troubles since we had been
travelling together alone.

Chapter III.


May 18.--THIS morning we had to travel upon a soft heavy beach, and moved
slowly and with difficulty along, and three of the horses were
continually attempting to lie down on the road. At twelve miles, we found
some nice green grass, and although we could not procure water here, I
determined to halt for the sake of the horses. The weather was cool and
pleasant. From our camp Mount Ragged bore N. 35 degrees W., and the
island we had seen for the last two days, E. 18 degrees S. Having seen
some large kangaroos near our camp, I sent Wylie with the rifle to try
and get one. At dark he returned bringing home a young one, large enough
for two good meals; upon this we feasted at night, and for once Wylie
admitted that his belly was full. He commenced by eating a pound and a
half of horse-flesh, and a little bread, he then ate the entrails,
paunch, liver, lights, tail, and two hind legs of the young kangaroo,
next followed a penguin, that he had found dead upon the beach, upon this
he forced down the whole of the hide of the kangaroo after singeing the
hair off, and wound up this meal by swallowing the tough skin of the
penguin; he then made a little fire, and laid down to sleep, and dream of
the pleasures of eating, nor do I think he was ever happier in his life
than at that moment.

May 19.--The morning set in very cold and showery, with the wind from the
southward, making us shiver terribly as we went along; luckily the
country behind the sea-shore was at this place tolerably open, and we
were for once enabled to leave the beach, and keep a little inland. The
soil was light and sandy, but tolerably fertile. In places we found low
brush, in others very handsome clumps of tea-tree scattered at intervals
over some grassy tracts of country, giving a pleasing and park-like
appearance we had long been strangers to. The grass was green, and
afforded a most grateful relief to the eye, accustomed heretofore to rest
only upon the naked sands or the gloomy scrubs we had so long been
travelling amongst. Anxious if possible to give our horses a day or two's
rest, at such a grassy place, and especially as the many kangaroos we
saw, gave us hope of obtaining food for ourselves also, I twice dug for
water, but did not find any of such quality as we could use. I was
compelled therefore to turn in among the sand-hills of Point Malcolm,
where I found excellent water at three and a half feet, and halted for
the day, after a stage of five miles. Unfortunately we were now beyond
all grass, and had to send the horses by a long and difficult road to it,
over steep sandy ridges, densely covered by scrub. Upon halting, one of
our horses lay down, appearing to be very ill, for two hours I could not
get him to rise, and was sadly afraid he would die, which would have been
a serious loss to us, for he was the strongest one we had left. A little
inside Point Malcolm, I found traces of Europeans who had slept on shore
near the beach, and upon one of the tea-trees, I found cut "Ship Julian,
1840," "Haws, 1840," "C. W." and some few other letters, which I did not
copy. The forenoon continued very wild and stormy, with occasional
showers of rain, and as we could get neither firewood nor shelter at our
camp, and the sand eddied around us in showers, we were very miserable.
After dinner, I sent Wylie out with the rifle, to try to shoot a
kangaroo, whilst I took a walk round, to look for grass, and to ascertain
whether water could not be procured in some place nearer the horses, and
better provided with firewood and shelter. My efforts were without
success, nor did I meet with better fortune, in examining Point Malcolm,
to see if there was any place where we could fish from the shore, the
point itself was of granite, but on the sheltered side the water was very
shoal, close to the shore, whilst on the outer side the waves were
breaking with frightful violence, and the spray curling and rising from
the rocks in one perpetual and lofty jet. In the evening Wylie returned
without a kangaroo.

The night turned out showery, wild, and cold, making us keenly alive to
the bleak, shelterless position we were encamped in.

May 20.--The sick horse was better to-day, and as they had all found
their way back to the best grass, I determined to remain in camp. Wylie
took the rifle, and again went out kangarooing, whilst I took a long walk
to examine the country, and look out for a line of road to proceed by,
when we left our present position. I was anxious, if possible, to give
over travelling along the beach where the sands were so loose and heavy,
not only causing great extra fatigue to the horses, but adding also
considerably to the distance we should otherwise have to travel. For some
distance I passed over steep ridges, densely covered with large tea-trees
or with other scrub, after which I emerged upon open sandy downs, covered
with low shrubs or bushes, and frequently having patches of good grass
interspersed; the grass-tree was here met with for the first time, but
not very abundantly. This description of country continued between the
coast and the low level bank which still shut out all view of the
interior, though it had greatly decreased in elevation as we advanced to
the west, and appeared as if it would soon merge in the level of the
country around. The day was tolerably fine, but windy, and a few slight
showers fell at intervals. At dusk I got up the horses, watered them, and
was preparing to remove the baggage to a more sheltered place, when Wylie
made his appearance, with the gratifying intelligence that he had shot
one kangaroo, and wounded another; the dead one he said was too far away
for us to get it to-night, and we, therefore, (very unwillingly,) left it
until the morning, and at present only removed our baggage nearer to the
grass, and among thick clumps of tea-trees where we had shelter and
firewood in abundance. The only inconvenience being that we were obliged
to be economical of water, having to bring it all from the sand-drifts,
and our kegs only carrying a few quarts at a time. In the prospect of a
supply of kangaroo, we finished the last of our horse-flesh to-night. It
had lasted us tolerably well, and though we had not gained above
sixty-five miles of distance, since we commenced it, yet we had
accomplished this so gradually, that the horses had not suffered so much
as might have been expected, and were improving somewhat in strength and
appearance every day. It was much to have got them to advance at all,
considering the dreadful sufferings they had endured previous to our
arrival at water on the 3rd of May.

Getting up one of the horses early on the 21st, we took some water with
us and proceeded to where Wylie had left the kangaroo, to breakfast.
Fortunately it had not been molested by the wild dogs during the night.
Though not of a large species, it was a full grown animal, and furnished
us with a grateful supply of wholesome food. Once more Wylie enjoyed as
much as he could eat, and after breakfast, I took the horse back to the
camp, carrying with me about thirty-two pounds weight of the best and
most fleshy parts of the kangaroo. Wylie remained behind with the rifle,
to return leisurely and try to shoot another; but early in the afternoon
he returned, not having seen one. The truth, I suspect was, that he had
eaten too much to breakfast, and laid down to sleep when I was gone,
coming back to the camp as soon as he felt hungry again. The rest of the
day was taken up in attending to the horses and bringing a supply of
water up for ourselves. The weather was mild and pleasant, and a few
slight showers fell at night, but we were now so well protected among the
tea-trees, and had so much firewood, that we were not inconvenienced by
the rain.

As I still intended to remain in camp to recruit the horses, I wished
Wylie to go out again on the 22nd, to try for another kangaroo; but the
other not being yet all used, he was very unwilling to do so, and it was
only upon my threatening to move on if he did not, that I could get him
out. As soon as he was gone, I went down to Point Malcolm to try to fish,
as the weather was now so much more moderate. Unfortunately, my tackling
was not strong, and after catching three rock-fish, weighing together
three pounds and a half; a large fish got hooked, and took great part of
my line, hook and all, away.

It was very vexing to lose a line when I had not many, but still more so
to miss a fine fish that would have weighed fifteen or sixteen pounds.
Being obliged to come back, I spent the remainder of the afternoon in
preparing lines for the morrow.

Towards evening Wylie returned gloomy and sulky, and without having fired
a shot; neither had he brought the horses up with him to water as I had
requested him to do, and now it was too late to go for them, and they
would have to be without water for the night. I was vexed at this, and
gave him a good scolding for his negligence, after which I endeavoured to
ascertain what had so thoroughly put him out of humour, for ordinarily he
was one of the best tempered natives I had met with: a single sentence
revealed the whole--"The----dogs had eaten the skin."

This observation came from the very bottom of his soul, and at once gave
me an idea of the magnitude of the disappointment he had sustained; the
fact was, upon leaving the camp in the morning he had taken a firestick
in his hand, and gone straight back to where we skinned the kangaroo on
the 21st, with the intention of singeing off the hair and eating the
skin, which had been left hanging over a bush. Upon his arrival he found
it gone: the wild dogs had been beforehand with him and deprived him of
the meal he expected; hence his gloomy, discontented look upon his
return. As yet I had not told him that I had been fishing; but upon
showing him what I had brought home, and giving him the two largest for
supper, his brow again cleared, and he voluntarily offered to go out
again to try to get a kangaroo to-morrow.

May 23.--Leaving Wylie asleep at the camp, I set off early to fish at
Point Malcolm. After catching four rock-fish, weighing five pounds, and
losing several hooks, I commenced hunting about among the rocks for
crabs, of which I procured about a dozen They were quite different from
the English crab, being very small, not more than three or four inches in
diameter, and without any meat in the inside of the shell; but the chine
and claws afforded very fair pickings. Upon returning to the camp, I
learnt from Wylie with great satisfaction that he had shot another
kangaroo as he went to bring up the horses. The latter were now at the
camp; so sending him to water them, I remained behind to dry my clothes,
which had got thoroughly wetted in catching the crabs.

Upon Wylie's return I mounted him on one of the horses, and accompanying
him on foot, proceeded to where he had left the kangaroo; as it was only
one mile and a half away we brought it back upon the horse, entire, that
we might skin it more leisurely at the camp. It was a larger one than the
last, and promised an abundant supply of food for some days; added to
this we had five pounds of fish and a dozen crabs, so that our larder was
well and variously stocked. Upon skinning the kangaroo, Wylie carefully
singed, folded up, and put away the skin for another day, fully
determined that this time he would lose no part of the precious prize.
Having taken the paunch and emptied it, he proceeded to make a kind of
haggis (rather a dirty one to be sure), by putting into it the liver,
lights, heart, and small intestines, and then tying it up, thrust it into
the fire to be roasted whole. This seemed to be a favourite dish with
him, and he was now as happy as a king, sleeping and eating alternately
the whole night long; his only complaint now being that the water was so
far off, and that as we had to carry it all up from the sand-hills to our
camp, he could not drink so much as he should like, and in consequence,
could not eat so much either, for it required no small quantity of liquid
to wash down the enormous masses of meat that he consumed whenever he had
an opportunity.

May 24.--Leaving Wylie to continue his feast and attend to the horses, I
went down to the beach to hunt again for crabs, of which I procured about
three dozen, but still of the same small size as before; a few larger
ones were seen in the deeper clefts of the rocks, but I could not get at
them; indeed, as it was, I was very nearly terminating my crab hunting
and expedition at the same time. The places where these animals were
obtained, were the clefts and holes among large masses and sheets of rock
close to the sea, and which were covered by it at high water; many of
these were like platforms, shelving to the sea, and terminating abruptly
in deep water. Whilst busily engaged upon one of them, in trying to get
some crabs out from its clefts, I did not notice that the surf sometimes
washed over where I stood, until whilst stooping, and in the act of
fishing out a crab, a roller came further than usual and dashing over me,
threw me down and took both me and my crabs to some distance, nearly
carrying us down the steep into the sea, from which nothing could have
rescued me, as I should soon have been dashed to pieces by the breakers
against the rocks. Having gathered up the crabs I had collected, I set
off homewards in a sad cold uncomfortable plight, with the skin scraped
off my hands and one of my heels, and with my shoes in such a state from
scrambling about among the rocks and in the wet, as strongly to indicate
to me the propriety of never attempting to go crab hunting again with my
shoes on, unless I wished to be placed altogether "hors du combat" for
walking. Wylie I found had got up the horses and watered them, and had
brought up a supply of water for the camp, so that we had nothing to do
in the afternoon but boil crabs and eat them, at which occupation I found
him wonderfully more skilful than I was, readily getting through two to
my one.

On the 25th we still remained in camp to take advantage of the abundant
supply of food we had for ourselves, and by giving the horses a long
rest, enable them also to recruit a little upon the excellent grass which
grew in this neighbourhood. Wylie took the rifle out to try to get
another kangaroo, but did not succeed. I remained at home to mend my
boots, and prepare for advancing again to-morrow. In the afternoon we
filled our kegs, and brought away the bucket and spade from the
sand-hills, that we might be ready to move without going again to the
water. For the first time since we left Fowler's Bay we were troubled
with musquitoes.

May 26.--Up early, and Wylie, who had been eating the whole night, was so
thirsty, that he actually walked all the way through the dew and cold of
the morning to the water to drink, as I could only afford him one pint
out of the kegs. We had now been in camp six clear days, at this most
favourable position; we had got an abundant and wholesome supply of
provisions for ourselves, and had been enabled to allow our horses to
enjoy a long unbroken interval of rest, amidst the best of pasturage, and
where there was excellent water. Now that we were again going to continue
our route, I found that the horses were so much improved in appearance
and in strength, that I thought we might once again venture, without
oppression to the animals, occasionally to ride; I selected therefore,
the strongest from among them for this purpose, and Wylie and myself
walked and rode alternately; after passing the scrubby sand-ridges, and
descending to the open downs behind them, I steered direct for Cape Arid,
cutting off Cape Pasley, and encamping after a stage of eighteen miles,
where it bore south-east of us. We halted for the night upon a ridge
timbered with casuarinae, and abounding in grass. Once more we were in a
country where trees were found, and again we were able at night to make
our fires of large logs, which did not incessantly require renewing to
prevent their going out. We had now crossed the level bank which had so
long shut out the interior from us; gradually it had declined in
elevation, until at last it had merged in the surrounding country, and we
hardly knew where it commenced, or how it ended. The high bluff and
craggy hills, whose tops we had formerly seen, stood out now in bold
relief, with a low level tract of country stretching to their base,
covered with dwarf brush, heathy plants and grass-tree, with many
intervals of open grassy land, and abounding in kangaroos. I named these
lofty and abrupt mountain masses the "Russell Range," after the Right
Honourable the Secretary of State for the Colonies--Lord John Russell.
They constitute the first great break in the character and appearance of
the country for many hundreds of miles, and they offer a point of great
interest, from which future researches may hereafter be made towards the
interior. Nearer to the coast, and on either side of Cape Pasley were
sand-drifts, in which I have no doubt that water might have been
procured. We found none where we were encamped, but had sufficient in the
kegs for our own use, and the horses were not thirsty; many and recent
tracks of natives were observed, but the people themselves were not seen.

The morning of the 27th was exceedingly cold; and as we left our
encampments early, neither I nor Wylie were inclined to ride for the
first few miles; it was as much as we could do to keep ourselves from
shivering whilst walking; the dews were so heavy, that we were soon wet
through by the spangles from the shrubs and grass, whilst the pace at
which we travelled was not sufficiently rapid to promote a quick
circulation, and enable us to keep ourselves warm.

At six miles we passed some sand hills, where there was every indication
of water, but I did not think it worth while delaying to try the
experiment in digging, and pushed on for four miles further, round a
bight of the coast, encamping on the east side of Cape Arid, where a
small salt water creek entered the bight. The mouth of this was closed by
a bar of sand, quite dry; nor did the salt water continue for any great
distance inland. Following it up, in the hope of finding fresh water near
its source, I found that there was none now, but that after rains
considerable streams must be poured into it from the gorges of Cape Arid.
The rocks here were all of granite; and in some of the ledges we were
fortunate enough to find abundance of water deposited by the rains, at
which we watered our horses. This being the first time we had ever been
able to do so on our whole journey without making use of the spade and
bucket. After putting the horses out upon the best grass we could find,
Wylie and I went to try our luck at fishing; the sea was boisterous, and
we caught none; but in returning, got about eight or nine crabs a-piece,
which, with some of the kangaroo that was still left, enabled us to make
our fare out tolerably.

May 26.--In the latter part of the night the rain set in moderately, but
steadily, and both Wylie and myself were very wet and miserable. The
morning still continued showery, and I was anxious to have remained in
camp for the sake of the horses; but as we had consumed at breakfast the
last of our kangaroo, it became necessary to find some means of renewing
our resources, or else lose no time in making the best of our way
onwards. Having sent Wylie to try and get crabs, I went out with the
rifle, but could see nothing to shoot; and upon returning to the camp, I
found Wylie had been equally unsuccessful among the rocks, the sea being
too rough; there was no alternative, therefore, but to move on, and
having got up the horses, we proceeded behind Cape Arid for ten miles, at
a course of W. 15 degrees N., and encamped at night amid a clump of
tea-trees, and bastard gums, where we got good grass for our horses, but
no water. The day had been intensely cold, and I could not persuade Wylie
to ride at all. At night we had abundance of firewood, and a few of the
long narrow yams were also found at this encampment, the first vegetable
food we had yet procured. Grass trees had been abundant on our line of
route to-day, and for the first time we met with the Xamia. In the
evening, the kangaroo fly (a small brown fly) became very troublesome,
annoying us in great numbers, and warning us that rain was about to fall.
At night it came in frequent though moderate showers. We got very much
wetted, but our fire was good, and we did not suffer so much from the
cold as the damp, which affected me with cramp in the limbs, and

May 29.--After breakfasting upon a spoonful of flour a-piece, mixed with
a little water and boiled into a paste, we again proceeded. At ten miles
we came to a small salt water stream, running seawards; in passing up it
to look for a crossing place, Wylie caught two opossums, in the tops of
some tea-trees, which grew on the banks. As I hoped more might be
procured, and perhaps fresh water, by tracing it higher up, I took the
first opportunity of crossing to the opposite side, and there encamped;
Wylie now went out to search for opossums, and I traced the stream
upwards. In my route I passed several very rich patches of land in the
valleys, and on the slopes of the hills enclosing the watercourse. These
were very grassy and verdant, but I could find no fresh water, nor did I
observe any timber except the tea-tree. After tracing the stream until it
had ceased running, and merely became a chain of ponds of salt water, I
returned to the camp a good deal fatigued; Wylie came in soon after, but
had got nothing but a few yams. The general character of the country on
either side the watercourse, was undulating, of moderate elevation, and
affording a considerable extent of sheep pasturage. The cockatoos of King
George's Sound, (without the yellow crest) were here in great numbers.
Kangaroos also abounded; but the country had not brush enough to enable
us to get sufficiently near to shoot them.

During the day Wylie had caught two opossums, and as these were entirely
the fruit of his own labour and skill, I did not interfere in their
disposal; I was curious, moreover, to see how far I could rely upon his
kindness and generosity, should circumstances ever compel me to depend
upon him for a share of what he might procure. At night, therefore, I sat
philosophically watching him whilst he proceeded to get supper ready, as
yet ignorant whether I was to partake of it or not. After selecting the
largest of the two animals, he prepared and cooked it, and then put away
the other where he intended to sleep. I now saw that he had not the
remotest intention of giving any to me, and asked him what he intended to
do with the other one. He replied that he should be hungry in the
morning, and meant to keep it until then. Upon hearing this I told him
that his arrangements were very good, and that for the future I would
follow the same system also; and that each should depend upon his own
exertions in procuring food; hinting to him that as he was so much more
skilful than I was, and as we had so very little flour left, I should be
obliged to reserve this entirely for myself, but that I hoped he would
have no difficulty in procuring as much food as he required. I was then
about to open the flour-bag and take a little out for my supper, when he
became alarmed at the idea of getting no more, and stopped me, offering
the other opossum, and volunteering to cook it properly for me. Trifling
as this little occurrence was, it read me a lesson of caution, and taught
me what value was to be placed upon the assistance or kindness of my
companion, should circumstances ever place me in a situation to be
dependent upon him; I felt a little hurt too, at experiencing so little
consideration from one whom I had treated with the greatest kindness, and
who had been clothed and fed upon my bounty, for the last fifteen months.

May 30.--In commencing our journey this morning, our route took us over
undulating hills, devoid of timber, but having occasionally small patches
of very rich land in the valleys and upon some of the slopes. This
continued to a salt-water river, broad, and apparently deep near the sea.
As I was doubtful whether it would have a bar-mouth to seawards, I
thought it more prudent to trace it upwards, for the purpose of crossing.
At no very great distance it contracted sufficiently to enable me to get
over to the other side. But in doing so the ground proved soft and boggy,
and I nearly lost one of the horses. Four miles beyond this river we came
to another channel of salt water, but not so large as the last. In
valleys sloping down to this watercourse we met, for the first time,
clumps of a tree called by the residents of King George's Sound the
cabbage-tree, and not far from which were native wells of fresh water;
there were also several patches of rich land bordering upon the

Travelling for two miles further, we came to a very pretty fresh-water
lake, of moderate size, and surrounded by clumps of tea-tree. It was the
first permanent fresh water we had found on the surface since we
commenced our journey from Fowler's Bay--a distance of nearly seven
hundred miles. I would gladly have encamped here for the night, but the
country surrounding the lake was sandy and barren, and destitute of
grass. We had only made good a distance of eleven miles from our last
camp, and I felt anxious to get on to Lucky Bay as quickly as I could, in
order that I might again give our horses a rest for a few days, which
they now began to require. From Captain Flinders' account of Lucky Bay I
knew we should find fresh water and wood in abundance. I hoped there
would also be grass, and in this case I had made up my mind to remain a
week or ten days, during which I intended to have killed the foal we had
with us, now about nine months old, could we procure food in no other
way. After leaving Lucky Bay, as we should only be about three hundred
miles from the Sound, and our horses would be in comparatively fresh
condition, I anticipated we should be able to progress more rapidly.
Indeed I fully expected it would be absolutely necessary for us to do so,
through a region which, from Flinders' description as seen from sea, and
from his having named three different hills in it Mount Barrens, we
should find neither very practicable nor fertile.

Six miles beyond the fresh-water lake we came to another salt-water
stream, and finding, upon following up a little way, that it was only
brackish, we crossed and halted for the night. Wylie went out to search
for food, but got nothing, whilst I unharnessed and attended to the
horses, which were a good deal fagged, and then prepared the camp and
made the fires for the night: I could get nothing but grass-tree for this
purpose, but it was both abundant and dry. Owing to its very resinous
nature, this tree burns with great heat and brilliancy, emitting a
grateful aromatic odour. It is easily lit up, makes a most cheerful fire,
and notwithstanding the fervency with which it burns, does not often
require renewing, if the tree be large. Our whole journey to-day had been
over undulations of about three hundred feet in elevation; the country
rose a little inland, and a few occasional bluffs of granite were
observed in the distance, but no timber was seen any where. At night the
flies and mosquitoes were very troublesome to us.

May 31.--The morning showery, and bitterly cold, so that, for the first
two hours after starting, we suffered considerably, After travelling for
seven miles and a half, through an undulating and bare country, we came
to a salt-water river, with some patches of good land about it. Having
crossed the river a little way up where it became narrower, we again
proceeded for five miles farther, through the same character of country,
and were then stopped by another salt stream, which gave us a great deal
of trouble to effect a crossing. We had traced it up to where the channel
was narrow, but the bed was very deep, and the water running strongly
between banks of rich black soil. Our horses would not face this at
first, and in forcing them over we were nearly losing two of them. After
travelling only a quarter of a mile beyond this stream I was chagrined to
find we had crossed it just above the junction of two branches, and that
we had still one of them to get over; the second was even more difficult
to pass than the first, and whilst I was on the far side, holding one of
the horses by a rope, with Wylie behind driving him on, the animal made a
sudden and violent leap, and coming full upon me, knocked me down and
bruised me considerably. One of his fore legs struck me on the thigh, and
I narrowly escaped having it broken, whilst a hind leg caught me on the
shin, and cut me severely.

As soon as we were fairly over I halted for the night, to rest myself and
give Wylie an opportunity of looking for food. The water in both branches
of this river was only brackish where we crossed, and at that which we
encamped upon but slightly so.

There were many grass-trees in the vicinity, and as several of these had
been broken down and were dead they were full of the white grubs of which
the natives are so fond. From these Wylie enjoyed a plentiful, and to
him, luxurious supper. I could not bring myself to try them, preferring
the root of the broad flag-reed, which, for the first time, we met with
at this stream, and which is an excellent and nutritious article of food.
This root being dug up, and roasted in hot ashes, yields a great quantity
of a mealy farinaceous powder interspersed among the fibres; it is of an
agreeable flavour, wholesome, and satisfying to the appetite. In all
parts of Australia, even where other food abounds, the root of this reed
is a favourite and staple article of diet among the aborigines. The
proper season of the year for procuring it in full perfection, is after
the floods have receded, and the leaves have died away and been burnt
off. It is that species of reed of which the leaves are used by coopers
for closing up crevices between the staves of their casks.

June 1.--Upon getting up this morning I found myself very stiff and sore
from the bruises I had received yesterday, yet I felt thankful that I had
escaped so well; had any of my limbs been broken, I should have been in a
dreadful position, and in all probability must have perished. After Wylie
had dug up some of the flag-roots for breakfast, and a few to take with
us, we proceeded on our journey. I was anxious to have made a long stage,
and if possible, to have reached Thistle Cove by night; but the country
we had to pass over was heavy and sandy, and after travelling fifteen
miles, the horses became so jaded, that I was obliged to turn in among
some sand-drifts near the coast, and halt for the night. The course we
had been steering for the last few days towards Lucky Bay, had gradually
brought us close to the coast again, and during a part of our journey
this afternoon we were travelling upon the sea-shore. At ten miles after
starting, we crossed a strong stream of fresh water running through some
sandy flats into the sea; a mile and a half beyond this we crossed a
second stream; and half a mile further a third, all running strongly,
with narrow channels, into the sea, and quite fresh. Fresh water was also
laying about every where on our road in large pools; a proof of the very
heavy rains that had lately fallen. We were, therefore, enjoying the
advantages of a wet season without having been subject to its inclemency,
and which, in our present weak, unprotected state, we could hardly have
endured. The country to the back was sandy and undulating, covered
principally with low shrubs, and rising inland; there were also several
granite bluffs at intervals, from among which, the streams I had crossed,
probably took their rise; but there were no trees to be seen any where,
except a few of the tea of cabbage-trees. I do not think that any of the
three fresh-water streams we had crossed would be permanent, their
present current being owing entirely to the recent rains; but when they
are running, and the weather is moderately fair, they afford an admirable
opportunity of watering a vessel with very little trouble, the water
being clear and pure to its very junction with the sea.

At night we made our supper of the flag-roots we had brought with us, and
a spoonful of flour a-piece, boiled into a paste. The night was very cold
and windy, and having neither shelter nor fire-wood at the sand-drifts
where we were, we spent it miserably.

June 2.--As we had made a shorter stage yesterday than I intended to have
done, and the quantity of flour we had now remaining was very small, I
did not dare to make use of any this morning, and we commenced our
journey without breakfast. Being now near Thistle Cove, where I intended
to halt for some time, and kill the little foal for food, whilst the
other horses were recruiting, and as I hoped to get there early this
afternoon, I was anxious to husband our little stock of flour in the
hope, that at the little fresh-water lake described by Flinders, as
existing there, we should find abundance of the flag-reed for our
support. Keeping a little behind the shore for the first hour, we crossed
over the sandy ridge bounding it, and upon looking towards the sea, I
thought I discovered a boat sailing in the bay. Upon pointing this object
out to Wylie, he was of the same opinion with myself, and we at once
descended towards the shore, but on our arrival were greatly disappointed
at not being able again to see the object of our search. In the course of
half an hour, however, whilst resting ourselves and watching the surface
of the ocean, it again became visible, and soon after a second appeared.
It was now evident that both these were boats, and that we had noticed
them only when standing off shore, and the light shone upon their sails,
and had lost them when upon the opposite tack. It was equally apparent
they were standing out from the main land for the islands. I imagined
them to be sealers, who having entered the bay to procure water or
firewood, were again steering towards the islands to fish. Having hastily
made a fire upon one of the sand-hills, we fired shots, shouted, waved
handkerchiefs, and made every signal we could to attract attention, but
in vain. They were too far away to see, or too busy to look towards us.
The hopes we had entertained were as suddenly disappointed as they had
been excited, and we stood silently and sullenly gazing after the boats
as they gradually receded from our view.

Whilst thus occupied and brooding over our disappointment, we were
surprised to see both boats suddenly lower their sails, and apparently
commence fishing. Watching them steadily we now perceived that they were
whale boats, and once more our hearts beat with hope, for I felt sure
that they must belong to some vessel whaling in the neighbourhood. We now
anxiously scanned the horizon in every direction, and at last were
delighted beyond measure to perceive to the westward the masts of a large
ship, peeping above a rocky island which had heretofore concealed her
from our view. She was apparently about six miles from us, and as far as
we could judge from so great a distance, seemed to be at anchor near the

Poor Wylie's joy now knew no bounds, and he leapt and skipped about with
delight as he congratulated me once more upon the prospect of getting
plenty to eat. I was not less pleased than he was, and almost as absurd,
for although the vessel was quietly at anchor so near us, with no sails
loose and her boats away, I could not help fearing that she might
disappear before we could get to her, or attract the notice of those on
board. To prevent such a calamity, I mounted one of the strongest horses
and pushed on by myself as rapidly as the heavy nature of the sands would
allow, leaving Wylie at his own especial request to bring on the other
horses. In a short time I arrived upon the summit of a rocky cliff,
opposite to a fine large barque lying at anchor in a well sheltered bay,
(which I subsequently named Rossiter Bay, after the captain of the
whaler,) immediately east of Lucky Bay, and at less than a quarter of a
mile distant from the shore. The people on board appeared to be busily
engaged in clearing their cables which were foul, and did not observe me
at all. I tied up my horse, therefore, to a bush, and waited for Wylie,
who was not long in coming after me, having driven the poor horses at a
pace they had not been accustomed to for many a long day. I now made a
smoke on the rock where I was, and hailed the vessel, upon which a boat
instantly put off, and in a few moments I had the inexpressible pleasure
of being again among civilized beings, and of shaking hands with a
fellow-countryman in the person of Captain Rossiter, commanding the
French Whaler "Mississippi."

Our story was soon told, and we were received with the greatest kindness
and hospitality by the captain.

Chapter IV.


June 2.--AFTER watering the horses at a deposit left by the rains, in the
sheets of granite near us, and turning them loose, we piled up our little
baggage, and in less than an hour we were comfortably domiciled on board
the hospitable Mississippi,--a change in our circumstances so great, so
sudden, and so unexpected, that it seemed more like a dream than a
reality; from the solitary loneliness of the wilderness, and its
attendant privations, we were at once removed to all the comforts of a
civilised community.

After we had done ample justice to the good cheer set before us, by our
worthy host, he kindly invited us to remain on board as long as we
pleased, to recruit our horses, and told us, that when we felt refreshed
sufficiently to renew the journey, he would supply us with such stores
and other articles as we might require. I learnt that the Mississippi had
but recently arrived from France, and that she had only been three weeks
upon the ground she had taken up for the season's whaling. As yet no
whales had been seen, and the season was said not to commence before the
end of June or beginning of July. The boats I saw in the morning belonged
to her, and had been out chasing what they thought to be a whale, but
which proved to be only a fin-back, a species which was not thought to
repay the trouble of trying out.

Early in the evening the whalers retired to rest, and I had a comfortable
berth provided for me in the cabin, but could not sleep; my thoughts were
too much occupied in reflecting upon the great change which the last few
hours had wrought in the position of myself and my attendant. Sincerely
grateful to the Almighty for having guided us through so many
difficulties, and for the inexpressible relief afforded us when so much
needed, but so little expected, I felt doubly thankful for the mercy we
experienced, when, as I lay awake, I heard the wind roar, and the rain
drive with unusual wildness, and reflected that by God's blessing, we
were now in safety, and under shelter from the violence of the storm, and
the inclemency of the west season, which appeared to be setting in, but
which, under the circumstances we were in but a few short hours ago, we
should have been so little able to cope with, or to endure.

June 3.--I arose at day-break, as I found the whalers breakfasted
betimes, to enable them to send their boats away to look out, at an early
hour. In fact, during the season, I was informed, that it was not unusual
to send them to their posts before the break of day, and especially so,
if other vessels were in company, or there was any competition. After
breakfast I landed with the Captain, to get up and inspect the horses;
poor animals they had not gone far and were doubtless glad at not being
required to march away to-day. I was only sorry that the country did not
abound more in grass. Plenty of water left by the rains was procurable,
in the ledges of the granite rocks, but the vegetation was scanty, the
soil being very sandy, and covered principally with small shrubs, heathy
plants, etc.

Leaving the horses to enjoy their respite from labour, I accompanied the
Captain to see a garden made by the sailors, in which peas and potatoes
had already been planted, and appeared to be growing well. A rich piece
of land had been selected on a slope, bordering upon a salt water creek,
which here wound through the level country towards the sea. The water in
this creek, was brackish in the upper part, but seaward it was quite
salt, it had a bar mouth of sand, which was quite dry. Unfortunately, the
Captain had no garden seeds but the peas and potatoes, so that their
labours were confined to cultivating these; otherwise during the many
months spent by them in bay whaling, they might have abundantly supplied
themselves with a variety of vegetables, at once an agreeable and
wholesome addition to the ordinary diet on board ship. After dinner I
went with the Captain to visit an island near, upon which he kept his
live stock, such as pigs, sheep, and tortoises; the two latter had been
procured from the west side of the island of Madagascar; the sheep were
strange looking animals, more like goats than sheep, of all colours, and
with fat tails, like the Cape sheep. Their cost at Madagascar had been a
tumbler full of powder a piece; a bullock would have cost ten bottles
full, and other things could have been procured at proportionable prices.
The principal articles in request among the Madagases, were said to be
powder, brass headed trunk nails, muskets, gun-flints, clear claret
bottles, looking-glasses, and cutlery.

The greater part of the day was very cold and showery, and I remained
quietly on board, reading some old English papers. Wylie was as happy as
he could be. It was true he did not understand a word spoken by those
around him (for not a soul on board spoke English but the Captain), but
he had as much to eat as he desired; and to do him justice, I believe he
made the most of the opportunity. On the other hand, his capacity for
eating entertained the Frenchmen, with the exception, perhaps, of his
first meal on board, and then, I believe, that the immense number of
biscuits he devoured, and the amazing rapidity with which they
disappeared, not only astounded, but absolutely alarmed them. Fish were
caught in great numbers from the ship's side, mackarel and baracoota
being obtained every day. Other varieties might have been procured off
the rocks near the shore, from which there were many places well adapted
for fishing. Periwinkles abounded, and crabs were numerous among the
crevices of the rocks. Altogether, this seemed to be a most favourable
place; and had we not met with the vessel, it would have held out to us
the prospect of obtaining as abundant a supply of food for ourselves as
we had got at Point Malcolm, without the necessity of destroying the poor
foal. The night again set in very wild, cold, and wet.

June 4.--This morning the weather appeared tolerably fine, and I landed
with the French doctor for the purpose of walking across to Thistle Cove.
After travelling four miles over a sandy heathy country, we arrived at
the pretty little fresh water lake, so accurately described by Captain
Flinders, and which I had so anxiously looked forward to attaining, that
we might halt to rest, and recruit the horses. There is no timber around
the lake, beyond a few xamias, grass trees, and some stunted tea-trees;
neither was there much grass. In other respects, I could not have pitched
upon a more favourable place to have halted at: for near the lake
abounded the flag reed, of which the root was so valuable for food. This
one article would have supported us well during our stay here, whilst the
many bluff rocks, with deep calm water close to them, extending all
around the promontory which projected into the sea, and round the bay,
held out great promise that fish could readily have been caught. Ducks
were also numerous in the lake, and kangaroos on shore. The day turned
out very bleak and wet, and we both got thoroughly soaked through before
we got back to the vessel, which was not until about two in the
afternoon; I was then obliged to borrow a dry suit from the Captain,
whilst my own clothes were drying.

June 5.--From this time until the fourteenth of June I remained on board
the Mississippi, enjoying the hospitality of Captain Rossiter. Wylie went
out once or twice to try to shoot a kangaroo for the ship, but he never
succeeded; he had so much to eat on board that he had no stimulus to
exertion, and did not take the trouble necessary to insure success.
During almost the whole of the time that I remained on board the
Mississippi, the weather was exceedingly boisterous, cold, and wet, and I
could not but feel truly thankful that I had not been exposed to it on
shore; even on board the ship, with shelter and extra clothing, I felt
very sensibly the great change which had taken place in the temperature.

I regretted greatly that during my stay I had not the opportunity of
seeing a whale caught. There was only once an attempt at a chase. In this
instance three boats were sent out, commanded by the Captain and the two
mates, but after a considerable lapse of time, and a long interval of
suspense and anxiety, the fish chased turned out to be a hump-back, and
as this was not deemed worth catching, the boats returned to the ship.
The life led by the whalers, as far as I was able to judge, from the
short time I was with them, seemed to be one of regularity, but of
considerable hardship. At half-past six or seven in the evening they
invariably went to bed, but were up at the first dawn of day, and
sometimes even before it, the boats were then usually sent to a distance
from the ship to look out for whales, and whether fortunate or otherwise,
they would always have a pretty hard day's work before they returned.
They were, however, well fed, being apparently even better dieted than
the generality of merchant-ships; the bread was of a better quality, and
the allowance of butter, cheese, beans, and other little luxuries much
more liberal. In the Mississippi the crew were generally young men, and
with few exceptions all were complete novices at sea; this I was told was
in consequence of an expected war between England and France, and the
prohibition of able seamen from leaving their country. Captain Rossiter
assured me that he had not been allowed for a considerable length of time
to sail at all from France, as the war was daily expected to break out.
He was still ignorant as to what had been done in this respect, and
naturally felt very anxious at being, as he might imagine, on an enemy's

During the time I remained on board the vessel, a party of natives once
or twice came down to the beach, and as I was anxious to enter into
commucation with them, two were induced to get into the boat and come on
board; as I expected, my boy Wylie fully understood the language spoken
in this part of the country, and could converse with them fluently.
Through him I learnt that they had never seen white people before the
Mississippi anchored here, which was somewhat singular, considering the
frankness with which they visited us, and the degree of confidence they
appeared to repose in us. Of the interior I could gain no satisfactory
account, they said that as far inland as they were acquainted with the
country, it was similar to what we saw, that there was an abundance of
water in the valleys in small wells, that there was a lake and fresh
water river, but that there was little or no wood anywhere. In turn they
were curious to know where we had come from, or where we were going; but
Wylie, who in this respect, at least, was prudent and cautious, told them
that we had come from the eastward to join the ship, and were now going
to remain. Finding I could gain no further useful information, presents
of fish and biscuits were made to them, and they were put on shore,
highly pleased with their visit. During the remainder of my stay, I had
no further opportunity of entering into conversation with these people,
as the weather was generally wild, and they could not procure much
shelter or fire-wood on the coast, had they come down to see us.

A few days before I contemplated commencing the renewal of my journey, I
requested the Captain to allow a blacksmith he had on board to shoe my
horses, and to this he kindly consented, but as a scarcity of iron
prevailed, some old harpoons and lances had to be worked up for this
purpose. The blacksmith who was a Frenchman, made his shoes and nails in
so different, and apparently in so much more clumsy manner than I was
accustomed to, that I was almost afraid of letting him put them on, and
tried hard, but in vain, to get him to imitate the English shoe and nail
in ordinary use.

Finding that I was likely to derive no advantage from my officious
interference, I determined to let him have his own way, and was surprised
and delighted to find that he performed his work well and skilfully, the
only unusual part of the operation to me, being the necessity he appeared
to be under, of always having a man to hold up the leg of the horse
whilst he put the shoe on, instead of holding the foot up himself, as an
English blacksmith does; such however, he assured me was the practice
always in France, and he appeared to think it the best too. Having had my
horses shod, I got some canvass from the Captain, to make bags for
carrying my provisions, and then giving him a list of stores that I
wished to take with me, I commenced preparations for leaving my
hospitable entertainer. Every thing that I wished for, was given to me
with a kindness and liberality beyond what I could have expected; and it
gives me unfeigned pleasure, to have it now in my power to record thus
publicly the obligations I was under to Captain Rossiter.

On the 14th, I landed the stores, to arrange and pack them ready for the
journey. They consisted of forty pounds of flour, six pounds of biscuit,
twelve pounds of rice, twenty pounds of beef, twenty pounds of pork,
twelve pounds of sugar, one pound of tea, a Dutch cheese, five pounds of
salt butter, a little salt, two bottles of brandy, and two tin saucepans
for cooking; besides some tobacco and pipes for Wylie, who was a great
smoker, and the canteens filled with treacle for him to eat with rice.
The great difficulty was now, how to arrange for the payment of the
various supplies I had been furnished with, as I had no money with me,
and it was a matter of uncertainty, whether the ship would touch at any
of the Australian colonies. Captain Rossiter however, said that he had
some intention of calling at King George's Sound, when the Bay whaling
was over, and as that was the place to which I was myself going, I gave
him an order upon Mr. Sherratt, who had previously acted as my agent
there in the transaction of some business matters in 1840. To this day,
however, I have never learnt whether Captain Rossiter visited King
George's Sound or not.

In arranging the payment, I could not induce the Captain to receive any
thing for the twelve days' that we had been resident in the ship, nor
would he allow me to pay for some very comfortable warm clothing, which
he supplied me with, both for myself and Wylie. Independently too of the
things which I had drawn from the ship's stores, Captain Rossiter
generously and earnestly pressed me to take any thing that I thought
would be serviceable to me from his own private stock of clothes. The
attention and hospitality shewn me, during my stay on board the vessel,
and the kindness and liberality which I experienced at my departure, will
long be remembered by me with feelings of gratitude. In the evening I
slept on shore, and got every thing ready for commencing my labours again
in the morning.

June 15.--Early this morning the boat came on shore for me, and I went on
board to take a farewell breakfast, in the Mississippi, and to wish good
bye to her kind-hearted people. At eight I landed with the Captain, got
up my horses and loaded them, a matter of some little time and trouble,
now my stock of provisions and other things was so greatly augmented; in
addition too to all I had accumulated before, the Captain insisted now
upon my taking six bottles of wine, and a tin of sardines.

Having received a few letters to be posted at Albany for France, I asked
the Captain if there was anything else I could do for him, but he said
there was not. The only subject upon which he was at all anxious, was to
ascertain whether a war had broken out between France and England or not.
In the event of this being the case, he wished me not to mention having
seen a French vessel upon the coast, and I promised to comply with his

After wishing my kind host good bye, and directing Wylie to lead one of
the horses in advance, I brought up the rear, driving the others before
me. Once again we had a long and arduous journey before us, and were
wending our lonely way through the unknown and untrodden wilds. We were,
however, in very different circumstances now, to what we had been in
previous to our meeting with the French ship. The respite we had had from
our labours, and the generous living we had enjoyed, had rendered us
comparatively fresh and strong. We had now with us an abundance, not only
of the necessaries, but of the luxuries of life; were better clothed, and
provided against the inclemency of the weather than we had been; and
entered upon the continuation of our undertaking with a spirit, an
energy, and a confidence, that we had long been strangers to.

From the great additional weight we had now to carry upon the horses, we
were again obliged to give up riding even in turn, and had both to walk.
This was comparatively of little consequence, however, now we were so
well provided with every thing we could require, and the country appeared
to be so well watered, that we could arrange our stages almost according
to our own wishes.

Steering to the north-west we passed over a sandy country, covered with
low heathy plants, and grasstrees, and having granite elevations
scattered over its surface at intervals. Under these hills fresh water
swamps and native wells were constantly met with, and at one of them we
encamped for the night, after a stage of about four miles.

During the day, we passed a variety of beautiful shrubs, and among them
were many different kind of Banksias, one was quite new to me, and had a
scarlet flower, which was very handsome. The fossil formation still
constituted the geological character of the country, most of the lower
ridges of rock intervening between the various hills of granite,
exhibiting shells in great abundance. In the more level parts, the
surface was so coated over with sand, that nothing else could be seen. I
have no doubt, however, that the whole of the substrata would have been
found an uninterrupted continuation of the tertiary deposit.

At night I observed native fires about a mile from us, in a direction
towards the sea; but the natives did not come near us, nor was I myself
anxious to come into communication with them whilst my party was so

The evening had set in with steady rain, which continuing with little
intermission during the night, wet us considerably.

June 16.--This morning, I found I had caught cold, and was very unwell.
Upon leaving the encampment, we steered N. 30 degrees W. to clear a rocky
hill, passing which, on our left at six miles, we changed the course to
W. 10 degrees N. Three miles from the hill, we crossed a small stream of
brackish water running very strongly towards the sea, and then halted for
the day upon it, after a short stage. The country we had traversed in our
route, still consisted of the same sandy plains and undulations, covered
with low shrubs, heathy plants, grass and cabbage-trees, with here and
there elevations of granite, and fresh water swamps: in and around which,
the soil was black and very rich; very little wood was to be met with
anywhere, and nothing that deserved the appellation of trees.

The country, inland, appeared to rise gradually, but did not seem to
differ in character and features from that we were traversing.

June 17.--A little before daylight it commenced raining, and continued
showery all day, and though we got wet several times, we experienced
great comfort from the warm clothing we had obtained from Captain
Rossiter. Upon ascending the hills, above our camp, which confined the
waters of the little stream we were upon, we could trace its course
south-west by south, to a small lake lying in the same direction, and
which it appeared to empty into. A second small lake was observable to
the north-west of the first. Two and a half miles from our camp, we
passed a granite elevation, near which, were many fresh swamps,
permanently, I think, abounding in water and having much rich and grassy
land around, of which the soil was a deep black, and but little mixed
with sand. For the next three miles and a half, our route lay over a rich
swampy grassy land, and we were literally walking all the way in water
left by the rains; besides crossing in that distance two fresh water
streams, running strongly towards the sea, and both emptying into small
lakes seen under the coast ridges. The largest of these two was one yard
and a half wide and a foot deep, and appeared of a permanent character.
We now ascended an undulating and rather more elevated tract of country
of an oolitic limestone formation, most luxuriantly clothed with the
richest grass, and having several lakes interspersed among the hollows
between the ridges. Near this we halted for the night under some of the
coast sand-hills, after a day's stage of twelve miles. We had splendid
feed for our horses, but were without any water for ourselves, being
unable to carry any with us, as the canteens were full of treacle. From
our camp, a peak, near Cape le Grand, bore E. 33 degrees S.

June 18.--During the night heavy showers had fallen, and in the oilskins
we caught as much water as sufficed for our tea. After breakfast we
proceeded onwards, and at a little more than three miles came to the
borders of a large salt lake, lying southwest and north-east, and being
one of two noted by Captain Flinders as having been copied into his map
from a French chart. Following the borders of the lake for a mile we
found abundance of fresh water under the banks by which it was inclosed,
and which, judging from the rushes and grasses about it, and the many
traces of native encampments, I imagine to be permanent. The lake itself
was in a hollow sunk in the fossil formation, which was now very clearly
recognisable in the high banks surrounding the lake, and which varied
from sixty to a hundred and fifty feet in elevation, and were generally
pretty steep towards the shore. The day being fine I halted at this place
to re-arrange the loads of the horses and take bearings.

A year had now elapsed since I first entered upon the Northern
Expedition. This day twelve months ago I had left Adelaide to commence
the undertaking, cheered by the presence and good wishes of many friends,
and proudly commanding a small but gallant party--alas, where were they
now? Painful and bitter were the thoughts that occupied my mind as I
contrasted the circumstances of my departure then with my position now,
and when I reflected that of all whose spirit and enterprise had led them
to engage in the undertaking, two lone wanderers only remained to attempt
its conclusion.

June 19.--The dew was very heavy this morning, and we did not start until
rather late, travelling through a very grassy country, abounding in fresh
swamps of a soft peaty soil, and often with the broad flag-reed growing
in them. All these places were boggy and impassable for horses. In
attempting to cross one a horse sunk up to his haunches, and we had much
difficulty in extricating him. At five miles from our camp we ascended
some high ridges of an oolitic limestone formation, which were partially
covered by drift-sand, and in the distance looked like the ridge of a sea
shore. From their summit Cape le Grand bore E. 27 degrees S., the peak
called by the French the "Chapeau," E. 23 degrees S., and the head of the
salt-water lake E. 10 degrees S. We had now a succession of barren, sandy
and stony ridges for more than three miles, and as there was but little
prospect of our finding permanent water in such a miserable region, I
took the opportunity of halting at a little rain water deposited in a
hole of the rocks; here we procured enough for ourselves, but could not
obtain any for the horses. Our camp not being far from the coast, I
walked after dinner to the sand-hills to take bearings. Several islands
were visible, of which the centres were set at S. 10 degrees W., S. 26
degrees W., E. 41 degrees S., E. 44 degrees S. and S. 33 degrees E.
respectively; the west point of a bay bore S. 51 degrees W. the eastern
point E. 36 degrees S. Upon digging for water under the sand-hills it was
found to be salt.

June 20.--Rain fell lightly but steadily until one P.M., making it very
disagreeable travelling through the rugged and stony ridges we had to
encounter, and which were a good deal covered with scrub and brush. About
four miles from our camp of last night we crossed high stony ridges, and
immediately beyond came to some steep sand-drifts, among the hollows of
which I dug for water, but at five feet was stopped by rock. The scrubby,
hilly, and rugged nature of the back country, generally about three
hundred feet above the level of the sea, now compelled me to keep the
beach for five miles, from which I was then again driven by the hills
terminating abruptly towards the sea, and forcing me to scale a steep
stony range, which for four miles and a half kept us incessantly toiling
up one rugged ascent after another. We then came to an extensive hollow,
being a partial break in the fossil formation, and having two large lakes
and many smaller ones interspersed over its surface. Around the margins
of the lakes we again found timber--the tea-tree and the bastard gum. The
water in the lakes was salt, but some slight elevations of granite
afforded us in their hollows an abundance of water for ourselves and
horses. The traces of natives were numerous and recent, but yet we saw
none. Swans, ducks, and wild fowl of various kinds were in great numbers,
and kept up an unceasing noise at night whilst passing from one lake to
the other. Our stage had been twelve miles and a half, but the hilly and
rugged nature of the road had made it severe upon the horses, whilst the
wet overhead and the wet grass under our feet made it equally harassing
to ourselves. From our encampment some white drifts in the coast line
bore S. 35 degrees E., and probably were the "white streak in the
sand-hills" of Flinders.

June 21.--We did not get away until late, but the dew had been so heavy
during the night that even then the shrubs and bushes wet us completely
through, and made our journey cold and miserable. After travelling a
short distance we lost all symptoms of grass, and the country was again
sandy and barren, and covered with shrubs and heathy plants. In this
region we passed two native women and a boy, within gun-shot of us; but
as they were so intent upon their occupation of digging roots, and did
not notice us, I was unwilling to alarm them, and we passed silently by.
At six miles we came to a fine deep hole of excellent water about thirty
yards in circumference. It was situated in a narrow, short, but steep and
rocky gorge, and is, I think, permanent. Four miles beyond this we
crossed a chain of salt ponds, trending seawards, towards an apparent gap
in the coast-line; and six miles further another. Upon the latter we
halted for the night, as there was good grass for the horses, and
brackish water was procurable a little way up the stream, where it
divided into branches. The constant travelling in the wet for the last
few days began now to affect our limbs considerably, and upon halting at
nights we found our feet always much swollen, and our legs generally
stiff and cramped.

June 22.--A very heavy dew fell in the night, and we were again condemned
to wade for three hours up to our middle among the wet brush; after which
the day became fine, and we got our clothes dried. Travelling for two and
a half miles, we crossed another small brackish chain of ponds, and then
ascending rather higher ground, obtained a view of a large lake under the
sand-hills, into which the channel we encamped upon last night emptied
itself. The lake appeared as if it were deep, and its dark blue colour
led me to imagine there might be a junction with the sea towards the
south-west, where the low appearance of the coast ridge indicated a gap
or opening of some kind. At four miles from our last night's encampment
we were stopped by a large salt-water river, fully a hundred yards wide,
and increasing to three or four times that size as it trended to its
junction with the large lake, and which was visible from the hills above
the river. This river was deep where we first struck upon it, but
appeared to be much more so towards the lake, where the water was of a
dark blue colour, as was that also of the lake itself. This confirmed me
in my opinion that there must be a junction with the sea; but
unfortunately I was obliged to trace its course upwards, for the purpose
of crossing, and the circumstances under which I was travelling precluded
me from delaying, or going so far back out of my way to examine its
mouth. I dared not leave Wylie in charge of the camp for the time
necessary for me to have gone alone; and to take the horses such a
distance, and through a rough or heavy country, on the uncertainty of
procuring for them either grass or water, would have been a risk which,
in their condition, I did not think myself justified in incurring.

After tracing the river northerly for two miles and a half, I found it
divided into two branches, and though these were still of considerable
size, yet a ledge of rocks extending across the channels enabled us to
effect a passage to the other side. At the place where we crossed, the
stream running over the rocks was only slightly brackish, and we watered
our horses there; had we traced it a little further it might possibly
have been quite fresh, but we had no time for this, for Wylie having
taken charge of the horses but for a few moments, whilst I had been
examining the river for a crossing place, contrived to frighten them all
in some way or other, and set them off at a gallop; the result was, that
our baggage was greatly disturbed, and many things knocked off and
damaged, whilst it took us some time again to get our horses and
re-arrange the loads.

The valley through which the river took its course, was rocky, with
sheets of granite extending in many places to the water's edge. There was
abundance of good grass, however, and in its upper branches, probably,
there might have been some considerable extent of pasturage. The trees
growing upon the margin, were the paper-barked tea-tree, and the bastard

Leaving the river, and proceeding over an undulating sandy country,
without timber, but covered with shrubs, we passed at six miles between
two small lakes, and in three more descended to a deep valley among
granite rocks; here we encamped after a stage of sixteen miles, with
plenty of fresh water in pools, and very fair grass for the horses, about
a mile and a half before we halted, we had obtained a view to seawards,
and I set the "Rocky Islets" at a bearing of S. 25 degrees W.

The character of the country generally, through which we travelled
to-day, was very similar to that we had so long been traversing. Its
general elevation above the level of the sea, was about three hundred
feet, and to a distant observer, it seemed to be a perfect table land,
unbroken to the horizon, and destitute of all timber or trees, except
occasionally a few cabbage-trees, grass-trees, or minor shrubs; it was
also without grass. Upon crossing this region deep gorges or valleys are
met with, through which flow brackish or salt-water streams, and shading
these are found the tea-tree and the bastard gum. The steep banks which
inclose the valleys, through which the streams take their course, and
which until lately we had found of an oolitic limestone, now exhibited
granite, quartz, sandstone or iron-stone.

June 23.--Our horses having rambled some distance back upon our
yesterday's tracks, it was late when they were recovered, and we did not
get away until eleven. After travelling a mile and a half, we crossed a
stream of most excellent water running over a bed of granite, in which
were some large deep pools with reeds growing around their margins. A
branch of this watercourse was crossed a little further on, but was quite
dry where we passed it.

Nine miles from our last night's camp a view of the "Rocky Islets" was
obtained from a hill, and set at due south. Immediately on descending
from the hill we crossed a salt chain of ponds in a bed of sandstone and
ironstone, and nine miles beyond this we came to another, also of salt
water; here we halted for the night as there was tolerable grass for the
horses, and we were fortunate enough to discover fresh water in a granite

In the course of the afternoon I obtained a view of a very distant hill
bearing from us W.8 degrees S. This I took to be the east Mount Barren of
Flinders; but it was still very far away, and the intervening country
looked barren and unpromising. During the day our route had still been
over the same character of country as before, with this exception, that
it was more stony and barren, with breccia or iron-stone grit covering
the surface. The streams were less frequently met with, and were of a
greatly inferior character, consisting now principally of only chains of
small stagnant ponds of salt water, destitute of grass, and without any
good soil in the hollows through which they took their course. Many of
these, and especially those we crossed in the latter part of the day,
were quite dry, and appeared to be nothing more than deep gutters washed
by heavy rains between the undulations of the country.

The rock formation, where it was developed, was exclusively sandstone or
ironstone, with inferior granite; and even the higher levels, which had
heretofore been of a sandy nature, were now rugged and stony, and more
sterile than before; the grasstrees, which generally accommodate
themselves to any soil, were stunted and diminutive, and by no means so
abundant as before. The general elevation of the country still appeared
to be the same. I estimated it at about three hundred feet.

One circumstance, which struck me as rather singular, with regard to the
last forty miles of country we had traversed, was, that it did not appear
to have experienced the same weather as there had been to the eastward.
The little water we found deposited in the rocks, plainly indicated that
the late rains had either not fallen here at all, or in a much less
degree than they had, in the direction we had come from; whilst the dry
and withered state of any little grass that we found, convinced me that
the earlier rains had still been more partial, so great was the contrast
between the rich luxuriance of the long green grass we had met with
before, and the few dry withered bunches of last year's growth, which we
fell in with now.

Chapter V.


June 24.--UPON moving on early this morning, we crossed the bed of a
considerable watercourse, containing large deep pools of brackish water,
but unconnected at present by any stream. The late hour at which we
halted last night had prevented us from noticing this larger chain of
ponds, and of which, that we were encamped upon formed only a branch. The
country we now passed through, varied but little in character, except
that the shrubs became higher, with a good deal of the Eucalyptus dumosa
intermingled with them, and were entangled together by matted creepers or
vines, which made it extremely difficult and fatiguing to force a way
through. The whole was very sterile, and without grass.

After travelling nine miles, we passed on our right a small lake of fresh
water; and two miles beyond this another, about a mile in circumference,
but deep, and evidently of a permanent character. Close to this fresh
water lake was another, divided from it by only a narrow neck of land,
and yet the latter was as salt as the sea. We had only made a short stage
as yet; but as there was a little food for the horses near the lake, I
thought it more prudent to halt there than run the risk of being left
without in the wretched looking country before us,

The Mount Barren ranges were observed again, but the weather was cloudy,
so that I could make nothing out distinctly. In the afternoon, Wylie shot
three teal, of which there were numbers on the lake. At night, our
baggage and clothes had nearly all been destroyed by fire, a spark having
been carried by the wind to the tarpaulin which covered them, and which,
as it had been but newly tarred, was soon in a blaze. I was fortunate
enough, however, to observe the accident in time to save our other

June 25.--We commenced our journey early, but had not gone far before the
rain began to fall, and continued until ten o'clock. Occasionally the
showers came down in perfect torrents, rendering us very cold and
miserable, and giving the whole country the appearance of a large puddle.
We were literally walking in water; and by stooping down, almost any
where as we went along, could have dipped a pint pot half full. It was
dreadful work to travel thus in the water, and with the wet from the long
brush soaking our clothes for so many hours; but there was no help for
it, as we could not find a blade of grass for our horses, to enable us to
halt sooner. The surface of the whole country was stony and barren in the
extreme. A mile from our camp, we passed a small salt lake on our left;
and at fifteen miles more, came to a valley with some wiry grass in it.
At this I halted, as there was no prospect of getting better grass, and
the water left by the rains was abundant. The latter, though it had only
fallen an hour or two, was in many places quite salt, and the best of it
brackish, so thoroughly saline was the nature of the soil upon which it
had been deposited.

As the afternoon proved fine, I traced down the valley we were upon to
its junction with a stream flowing over a granite bed, about a mile from
our camp. In this the pools of water were large, deep, and brackish, but
there was plenty of fresh water left by the rains in holes of the rocks
upon its banks. As, however, there did not appear to be better grass upon
the larger channel, than in the valley where we were, I did not think it
worth while to remove our camp.

June 26.--I determined to remain in camp today to rest the horses, and to
enable me to arrange their loads, so that Wylie and I might again ride
occasionally. We had both walked for the last eleven days, during which
we had made good a distance of 134 miles from Rossiter Bay, and as I
calculated we ought under ordinary circumstances to reach the Sound in
ten days more, I thought that we might occasionally indulge in riding,
and relieve ourselves from the great fatigue we had hitherto been subject
to, especially as the horses were daily improving in strength and

Whilst I was engaged in making the necessary preparations, and throwing
away some things which I thought we could dispense with, such as our
bucket, some harness, ammunition, cooking utensils, and sundry other
things, Wylie took the rifle, and went down to the watercourse to shoot.
On his return in the afternoon he produced four teal and a black swan, as
the produce of his day's sport; he had, however, shot away every charge
of shot from the belt, which had been filled on board the Mississippi,
and held three pounds and a half, besides three ball cartridges; how
often he fired at the swan before he got it I could never discover, but I
heard shot after shot as fast as he could load and fire for some time,
and he himself acknowledged to firing at it seven times, but I suspect it
to have been nearer twice seven.

To-day we were obliged to fetch up what water we required for our own
use, from the holes in the granite rocks near the river, that lying on
the ground near our camp being too salt for use.

June 27.--Upon moving on this morning we passed towards the Mount Barren
ranges for ten miles through the same sterile country, and then observing
a watercourse coming from the hills, I became apprehensive I should
experience some difficulty in crossing it near the ranges, from their
rocky and precipitous character, and at once turned more southerly to
keep between the sea and a salt lake, into which the stream emptied
itself. After getting nearly half round the lake, our progress was
impeded by a dense and most difficult scrub of the Eucalyptus dumosa.
Upon entering it we found the scrub large and strong, and growing very
close together, whilst the fallen trees, dead wood, and sticks lying
about in every direction, to the height of a man's breast, rendered our
passage difficult and dangerous to the horses in the extreme. Indeed,
when we were in the midst of it, the poor animals suffered so much, and
progressed so little, that I feared we should hardly get them either
through it or back again. By dint of great labour and perseverance we
passed through a mile of it, and then emerging upon the beach followed it
for a short distance, until steep rocky hills coming nearly bluff into
the sea, obliged us to turn up under them, and encamp for the night not
far from the lake. Here our horses procured tolerable grass, whilst we
obtained a little fresh water for ourselves among the hollows of the

Our stage had been about thirteen miles, and our position was S. 30
degrees E. from East Mount Barren, the hills under which we were encamped
being connected with that range. Most properly had it been called Mount
Barren, for a more wretched aridlooking country never existed than that
around it. The Mount Barren ranges are of quartz or reddish micaceous
slate, the rocks project in sharp rugged masses, and the strata are all

June 28.--Upon getting up this morning we saw the smoke of native fires
along the margin of the lake, at less than a mile from us. They had
already noticed our fire, and called out repeatedly to us, but as I did
not wish to come into communication with them at all, I did not reply.
Soon afterwards we saw them in the midst of the lake carrying boughs, and
apparently fishing. Three miles from the lake we crossed a small salt
stream, and a mile further another. Four miles beyond the latter we came
to a very deep narrow salt lake, swarming with swans, pelicans, and
ducks. As the passage between the lake and the sea appeared to be
scrubby, and very similar to that we had found so much difficulty in
passing yesterday, I turned to the north-west to head it inland; but had
not proceeded far before I found our progress stopped by a large
salt-water stream, which joined the lake, and whose course was through
steep precipitous ravines. By following the river upwards I came to a
place where we could descend into its basin, and as the water there,
though brackish, was still drinkable, I halted for the night after a
stage of fourteen miles. The horses were a good deal tired with the rough
hilly road they had passed over, and having been without water last
night, stood greatly in need of rest.

In the afternoon Wylie took the rifle to shoot some of the swans and
ducks around us, but was not successful. I remained at the camp, breaking
down and clearing a passage amongst the shrubs and trees which grew in
the rocky bed of the watercourse, to enable us to get our horses readily
across to-morrow. Our position bore S. W. from East Mount Barren, E. from
a bluff range three miles from us, and N. 55 degrees E. from some high
hills in the direction of Middle Mount Barren. The course of the stream
we were encamped upon being nearly north and south.

June 29.--Having found so much difficulty in keeping between the hills
and the sea, I determined now to keep more inland, and steering W. 20
degrees N., headed all ranges in four miles. From this point East Mount
Barren bore E. 20 degrees N., and as I was now clear of hills in front, I
changed my course to W. 20 degrees S., passing through a barren worthless
country for eleven miles, and encamping upon a deep ravine, in which we
procured brackish water. Our horses were greatly fagged. From our camp
West Mount Barren bore S. 41 degrees W.

June 30.--For the first ten miles to-day we had a very bad road, over
steep stony ridges and valleys, covered for the most part with dense gum
scrub. The surface was strewed over with rough pebbles or ironstone grit,
and was broken a good deal into steep-faced ridges and deep hollows, as
if formed so by the action of water. The formation of these precipitous
banks appeared to be an ochre of various colours--red and yellow, and of
a soft friable description. At ten miles we crossed a watercourse with
many pools of brackish water in it, trending to a lake visible under the
coast ridge. There was good grass near this, and many kangaroos were
seen, but as no fresh water could be obtained, we passed on, and at three
miles further came to a hole of rain-water in a rocky gorge, but here
there was not a blade of grass. Hoping to meet with more success further
on, we still advanced for twelve miles, until night compelled us at last
to encamp without either grass or water, both ourselves and our horses
being greatly fatigued.

In the evening we obtained a view of some high rugged and distant ranges,
which I at once recognised as being the mountains immediately behind King
George's Sound. At last we could almost say we were in sight of the
termination of our long, harassing, and disastrous journey. Early in the
morning I had told Wylie that I thought we should see the King George's
Sound hills before night, but he at the time appeared rather sceptical;
when, however, they did break upon our view, in picturesque though
distant outline, his joy knew no bounds. For the first time on our
journey he believed we should really reach the Sound at last. The
cheering and not-to-be-mistaken view before him had dissipated all his
doubts. Once more he gazed upon objects that were familiar to him; the
home of his childhood was before him, and already almost in fancy he was
there, and amongst his friends; he could think, or talk of nothing else,
and actually complimented me upon the successful way in which I had
conducted him to the end of his journey. From our camp the distant ranges
bore W. 5 degrees S., and West Mount Barren E. 5 degrees S.

July 1.--After travelling three miles we came to a chain of large ponds
of brackish water, but with excellent grass around them, and as the
horses had nothing to eat or drink last night we halted for three hours.
The water was bad, but they drank it, and we were obliged to do so too,
after an ineffectual search for better. At noon we again moved on, and
after proceeding about five miles, came to a large watercourse where the
water was excellent, and the feed abundant. Here we halted for the night,
to make our horses amends for the bad fare and hard work of yesterday.
From the hill above our camp West Mount Barren bore E. 8 degrees N.,
Middle Mount Barren E. 21 degrees N., and Rugged Mountains behind the
Sound, W. 4 degrees S. The watercourse we were upon, like all those we
had lately crossed, had perpendicular cliffs abutting upon it, either on
one side or the other, and the channel through which it wound looked
almost like a cut made through the level country above it. A few
casuarinae were observed in parts of the valley, being the first met with
since those seen near Cape Arid.

July 2.--Our route to-day lay through a country much covered with
gum-scrub, banksias, and other shrubs, besides occasionally a few patches
of stunted gum-trees growing in clumps in small hollows, where water
appeared to lodge after rains. At two miles we crossed a small
watercourse, and at fifteen further, came to a deep valley with fine
fresh-water pools in it, and tolerable feed around; here we halted for
the night. The valley we were upon (and one or two others near) led to a
much larger one below, through which appeared to take its course the
channel of a considerable watercourse trending towards a bight in the
coast at S. 17 degrees W.

Some high land, seen to the southward and westward of us, I took to be
Cape Riche, a point I should like greatly to have visited, but did not
think it prudent to go so far out of my direct course, in the
circumstances I was travelling under.

July 3.--Upon commencing our journey to-day I found our route was much
intersected by deep ravines and gorges, all trending to the larger valley
below, and where I had no doubt a large chain of ponds, and probably much
good land, would have been found. After proceeding four miles and a half,
we were stopped by a large salt-water river, which seemed to be very deep
below where we struck it, and trended towards a bight of the coast where
it appeared to form a junction with the sea.

Many oyster and cockle shells were on its shore. This was the largest
river we had yet come to, and it gave us much trouble to cross it, for,
wherever it appeared fordable, the bed was so soft and muddy, that we
dared not venture to take our horses into it. By tracing it upwards for
eight miles, we at last found a rocky shelf extending across, by which we
were enabled to get to the other side. At the point where we crossed, it
had become only a narrow rocky channel; but there was a strong stream
running, and I have no doubt, higher up, the water might probably have
been quite fresh. Its waters flowed from a direction nearly of
west-north-west, and appeared to emanate from the high rugged ranges
behind King George's Sound. The country about the lower or broad part of
this river, as far as I traced it, was rocky and bad; but higher up,
there was a good deal of grass, and the land appeared improving. In the
distance, the hills seemed less rocky and more grassy, and might probably
afford fair runs for sheep. Upon the banks of the river were a few
casuarinae and more of the tea-tree, and bastard gum, than we had seen
before upon any other watercourse.

Upon crossing the river, we found the country getting more wooded, with a
stunted-looking tree, apparently of the same species as the stringy bark,
with bastard gums, and large banksias, the intervals being filled up with
grass-trees and brush, or shrubs, common at King George's Sound. At dark
we could find no water, and I therefore pushed on by moonlight, making
Wylie lead one of the horses whilst I drove the rest after him. At nine
o'clock, we came to a deep valley with plenty of water and grass in it,
and here we halted for the night, after a stage of full thirty miles. The
early part of the morning had been very wet, and it continued to rain
partially for the greatest part of the day, rendering us very cold and
uncomfortable. At night it was a severe frost.

July 4.--Our horses having been a good deal fagged yesterday, I did not
disturb them early, and it was nearly noon when we moved away from our
encampment, crossing the main watercourse, of which the ponds we were
upon last night were only a branch. In the larger channel, there were
many fine pools of water, connected by a strongly running stream in a
deep narrow bed, and which wound at a course of E. 25 degrees S. through
a valley of soft, spongy, peaty formation, and over which we had much
trouble in getting our horses, one having sunk very deep, and being with
difficulty extricated. After travelling two miles and a half, we obtained
a view of Bald Island, bearing S. 15 degrees W.; and in two miles and a
half more, we crossed a fine chain of ponds, taking its course through
narrow valleys between hills of granite; these valleys and the slopes of
the hills were heavily timbered; the soil was very rich, either a reddish
loam, or a light black mixed with sand, and the grass interspersed among
the trees was abundant and luxuriant. After ascending the range, we
passed principally over stony hills, and valleys heavily timbered, and
with brush or underwood, filling up the interstices of the trees.

Ten miles from our last night's camp we crossed the tracks of horses,
apparently of no very old date, this being the first symptom we had yet
observed of our approach towards the haunts of civilised man. The day was
cold with heavy squalls of rain, and as the night appeared likely to be
worse, I halted early, after a stage of thirteen miles. After dark the
rain ceased, and the night cleared up, but was very cold.

July 5.--Another rainy day, and so excessively cold that we were obliged
to walk to keep ourselves at all warm; we spent a miserable time,
splashing through the wet underwood, and at fifteen miles we passed a
fresh water lake, in a valley between some hills. This Wylie recognised
as a place he had once been at before, and told me that he now knew the
road well, and would act as guide, upon which I resigned the post of
honour to him, on his promising always to take us to grass and water at
night. Two miles and a half beyond the lake, we came to a fresh water
swamp, and a mile beyond that to another, at which we halted for the
night, with plenty of water, but very little grass. During the day, we
had been travelling generally through a very heavily timbered country.

At night the rain set in again, and continued to fall in torrents at
intervals; we got dreadfully drenched, and suffered greatly from cold and
want of rest, being obliged to stand or walk before the fire, nearly the
whole night.

July 6.--The morning still very wet and miserably cold. With Wylie acting
as guide, we reached in eight miles, the Candiup river, a large chain of
ponds, connected by a running stream, and emptying into a wide and deep
arm of the sea, with much rich and fertile land upon its banks. The whole
district was heavily timbered, and had good grass growing amongst the
trees. From the very heavy rains that had fallen, we had great trouble in
crossing many of the streams, which were swollen by the floods into
perfect torrents. In the Candiup river I had to wade, cold and chill as I
was, seven times through, with the water breast high, and a current that
I with difficulty could keep my feet against, in order to get the horses
over in safety; the only fordable place was at a narrow ledge of rocks,
and with so strong a stream, and such deep water below the ledge, I dared
not trust Wylie to lead any of them, but went back, and took each horse
across myself. The day was bitterly cold and rainy, and I began to suffer
severely from the incessant wettings I had been subject to for many days

Four miles beyond the Candiup river, we came to King's river, a large
salt arm of Oyster Harbour, here my friend Wylie, who insisted upon it
that he knew the proper crossing place, took me into a large swampy
morass, and in endeavouring to take the horses through, three of them got
bogged and were nearly lost, and both myself and Wylie were detained in
the water and mud for a couple of hours, endeavouring to extricate them.
At last we succeeded, but the poor animals were sadly weakened and
strained, and we were compelled to return back to the same side of the
river, and encamp for the night, instead of going on to King George's
Sound as I had intended!

Fortunately there was tolerable grass, and fresh water lay every where
about in great abundance, so that the horses would fare well, but for
ourselves there was a cheerless prospect. For three days and nights, we
had never had our clothes dry, and for the greater part of this time, we
had been enduring in full violence the pitiless storm--whilst wading so
constantly through the cold torrents in the depth of the winter season,
and latterly being detained in the water so long a time at the King's
river, had rendered us rheumatic, and painfully sensitive to either cold
or wet. I hoped to have reached Albany this evening, and should have done
so, as it was only six miles distant, if it had not been for the unlucky
attempt to cross King's river. Now we had another night's misery before
us, for we had hardly lain down before the rain began to fall again in
torrents. Wearied and worn-out as we were, with the sufferings and
fatigues of the last few days, we could neither sit nor lie down to rest;
our only consolation under the circumstances being, that however bad or
inclement the weather might be, it was the last night we should be
exposed to its fury.

July 7.--Getting up the horses early, we proceeded up the King's river,
with a view of attempting to cross, but upon sounding the depths in one
or two places, I found the tide, which was rising, was too high; I had
only the alternative, therefore, of waiting for several hours until the
water ebbed, or else of leaving the horses, and proceeding on without
them. Under all the circumstances, I decided upon the latter; the rain
was still falling very heavily, and the river before us was so wide and
so dangerous for horses, from its very boggy character, that I did not
think it prudent to attempt to force a passage, or worth while to delay
to search for a proper crossing place. There was good feed for the horses
where they were, and plenty of water, so that I knew they would fare
better by remaining than if they were taken on to the Sound; whilst it
appeared to me more than probable that I should have no difficulty,
whenever I wished to get them, to procure a guide to go for and conduct
them safely across, at the proper crossing place.

Having turned our horses loose, and piled up our baggage, now again
greatly reduced, I took my journals and charts, and with Wylie forded the
river about breast high. We were soon on the other side, and rapidly
advancing towards the termination of our journey; the rain was falling in
torrents, and we had not a dry shred about us, whilst the whole country
through which we passed, had, from the long-continued and excessive
rains, become almost an uninterrupted chain of puddles. For a great part
of the way we walked up to our ankles in water. This made our progress
slow, and rendered our last day's march a very cold and disagreeable one.
Before reaching the Sound, we met a native, who at once recognised Wylie,
and greeted him most cordially. From him we learnt that we had been
expected at the Sound some months ago, but had long been given up for
lost, whilst Wylie had been mourned for and lamented as dead by his
friends and his tribe. The rain still continued falling heavily as we
ascended to the brow of the hill immediately overlooking the town of
Albany--not a soul was to be seen--not an animal of any kind--the place
looked deserted and uninhabited, so completely had the inclemency of the
weather driven both man and beast to seek shelter from the storm.

For a moment I stood gazing at the town below me--that goal I had so long
looked forward to, had so laboriously toiled to attain, was at last
before me. A thousand confused images and reflections crowded through my
mind, and the events of the past year were recalled in rapid succession.
The contrast between the circumstances under which I had commenced and
terminated my labours stood in strong relief before me. The gay and
gallant cavalcade that accompanied me on my way at starting--the small
but enterprising band that I then commanded, the goodly array of horses
and drays, with all their well-ordered appointments and equipment were
conjured up in all their circumstances of pride and pleasure; and I could
not restrain a tear, as I called to mind the embarrassing difficulties
and sad disasters that had broken up my party, and left myself and Wylie
the two sole wanderers remaining at the close of an undertaking entered
upon under such hopeful auspices.

Whilst standing thus upon the brow overlooking the town, and buried in
reflection, I was startled by the loud shrill cry of the native we had
met on the road, and who still kept with us: clearly and powerfully that
voice rang through the recesses of the settlement beneath, whilst the
blended name of Wylie told me of the information it conveyed. For an
instant there was a silence still almost as death--then a single
repetition of that wild joyous cry, a confused hum of many voices, a
hurrying to and fro of human feet, and the streets which had appeared so
shortly before gloomy and untenanted, were now alive with natives--men,
women and children, old and young, rushing rapidly up the hill, to
welcome the wanderer on his return, and to receive their lost one almost
from the grave.

It was an interesting and touching sight to witness the meeting between
Wylie and his friends. Affection's strongest ties could not have produced
a more affecting and melting scene--the wordless weeping pleasure, too
deep for utterance, with which he was embraced by his relatives, the
cordial and hearty reception given him by his friends, and the joyous
greeting bestowed upon him by all, might well have put to the blush those
heartless calumniators, who, branding the savage as the creature only of
unbridled passions, deny to him any of those better feelings and
affections which are implanted in the breast of all mankind, and which
nature has not denied to any colour or to any race.

Upon entering the town I proceeded direct to Mr. Sherrats', where I had
lodged when in King George's Sound, in 1840. By him and his family I was
most hospitably received, and every attention shewn to me; and in the
course of a short time, after taking a glass of hot brandy and water,
performing my ablutions and putting on a clean suit of borrowed clothes,
I was enabled once more to feel comparatively comfortable, and to receive
the many kind friends who called upon me.

I feel great pleasure in the opportunity now afforded me of recording the
grateful feelings I entertain towards the residents at Albany for the
kindness I experienced upon this occasion. Wet as the day was, I had
hardly been two hours at Mr. Sherrats before I was honoured by a visit
from Lady Spencer, from the Government-resident, Mr. Phillips, and from
almost all the other residents and visitors at the settlement,--all vying
with each other in their kind attentions and congratulations, and in
every offer of assistance or accommodation which it was in their power to

Finding that a vessel would shortly sail for Adelaide, I at once engaged
my passage, and proceeded to make arrangements for leaving King George's

To the Governor of the Colony, Mr. Hutt, I wrote a brief report of my
journey, which was forwarded, with a copy both of my own and Wylie's
depositions, relative to the melancholy loss of my overseer on the 29th
April. I then had my horses got up from the King's river, and left them
in the care of Mr. Phillips, who had in the most friendly manner offered
to take charge of them until they recovered their condition and could be

Wylie was to remain at the Sound with his friends, and to receive from
the Government a weekly allowance of provisions, [Note 29: This was
confirmed by Governor Hutt.] by order of Mr. Phillips; who promised to
recommend that it should be permanently continued, as a reward for the
fidelity and good conduct he had displayed whilst accompanying me in
the desert.

On the 13th July I wished my friends good bye, and in the afternoon went
on board the Truelove to sail for Adelaide; whilst working out of harbour
we were accompanied as long as any of the shore boats remained, by some
of the natives of the place, who were most anxious to have gone with me
to Adelaide. Wylie had given them so flattering an account of South
Australia and its pleasures, that he had excited the envy and curiosity
of the whole tribe; dozens applied to me to take them, and I really think
I could have filled the ship had I been disposed; one or two, more
persevering than the rest, would not be denied, and stuck close to the
vessel to the last, in the hope that I might relent and take them with me
before the pilot boat left, but upon this occurring, to their great
discomforture, they were compelled to return disappointed.

On the afternoon of the 26th of July I arrived in Adelaide, after an
absence of one year and twenty-six days.

Chapter VI.


Having now brought to a close the narrative of my explorations in 1840-1,
it may not be out of place to take a brief and cursory review of the
whole, and to state generally what have been the results effected. In
making this summary, I have no important rivers to enumerate, no fertile
regions to point out for the future spread of colonization and
civilization, or no noble ranges to describe from which are washed the
debris that might form a rich and fertile district beneath them; on the
contrary, all has been arid and barren in the extreme.

Such, indeed, has been the sterile and desolate character of the
wilderness I have traversed, and so great have been the difficulties
thereby entailed upon me, that throughout by far the greater portion of
it, I have never been able to delay a moment in my route, or to deviate
in any way from the line I was pursuing, to reconnoitre or examine what
may haply be beyond. Even in the latter part of my travels, when within
the colony of Western Australia, and when the occasionally meeting with
tracts of a better soil, or with watercourses appearing to have an outlet
to the ocean, rendered the country one of much greater interest, I was
quite unable, from the circumstances under which I was placed, the
reduced and worn-out state of my horses, and the solitary manner in which
I was travelling, ever to deviate from my direct line of route, either to
examine more satisfactorily the character of the country, or to determine
whether the watercourses, some of which occasionally bore the character
of rivers (though of only short course), had embouchures opening to the
sea or not.

In a geographical point of view, I would hope the result of my labours
has not been either uninteresting, or incommensurate with the nature of
the expedition placed under my command, and the character of the country
I had to explore. By including in the summary I am now making, the
journeys I undertook in 1839, as well as those of 1840-1 (for a
considerable portion of the country then examined was recrossed by the
Northern Expedition), it will be seen that I have discovered and examined
a tract of country to the north of Adelaide, which was previously
unknown, of about 270 miles in length, extending between the parallels of
33 degrees 40 minutes and 29 degrees S. latitude. In longitude, that part
of my route which was before unknown, extends between the parallels of
138 degrees E., and 118 degrees 40 minutes E., or about 1060 miles of
direct distance. These being connected with the previously known portions
of South-western, South-eastern, and part of Southern Australia, complete
the examination of the whole of the south line of the coast of this
continent. Indeed, I have myself (at various times) crossed over the
whole of this distance from east to west, from Sydney to Swan River. In
the early part of the Expedition, 1840, the continuation of Flinders
range, from Mount Arden, was traced and laid down to its termination,
near the parallel of 29 degrees S. It was ascertained to be hemmed in by
an impassable barrier, consisting of the basin of an immense lake, which
I named Lake Torrens, and which, commencing from the head of Spencer's
Gulf, increased in width as it swept to the north-west, but subsequently
bent round again to the north-east, east and south-east, in
correspondence with the trend of Flinders range, the northern extremity
of which it completely surrounded in the form of a horse-shoe. The shores
of this lake I visited to the westward of Flinders range, at three
different points, from eighty to ninety miles apart from each other, and
on all these occasions I found the basin to consist, as far as I could
penetrate, of a mass of mud and sand, coated on the surface with a crust
of salt, but having water mixed with it beneath. At the most
north-westerly point attained by me, water was found in an arm of the
main lake, about two feet deep, clear, and salt as the sea; it did not
extend, however, more than two or three hundred yards, nor did it
continue to the bed of the main lake, which appeared, from a rise that I
ascended near the arm, to be of the same character and consistency as
before. The whole course of the lake, to the farthest point visited by
me, was bounded by a steep, continuous, sandy ridge, exactly like a
sea-shore ridge; those parts of its course to the north, and to the east
of Flinders range, which I did not go down to, were seen and laid down
from various heights in that mountain chain. Altogether, the outline of
this extraordinary feature, as thus observed and traced, could not have
extended over a circuit of less than 400 miles.

It is singular enough that all the springs found near the termination of
Flinders range should have been salt, and that these were very nearly in
the same latitude in which Captain Sturt had found brine springs in the
bed of the Darling in 1829, although our two positions were so far
separated in longitude. My furthest position to the north-west was also
in about the same latitude, as the most inland point gained by any
previous exploring party, viz. that of Sir Thomas Mitchell's in 1832,
about the parallel of 149 degrees E. longitude; but by my being about 600
miles more to the westward, I was consequently much nearer to the centre
of New Holland. It is, to say the least, remarkable that from both our
positions, so far apart as they are, the country should present the same
low and sterile aspect to the west and north-west. Since my return from
the expedition, a party has been sent out under Captain Frome, the
Surveyor-General, in South Australia, to examine the south-east extremity
of Lake Torrens; the following is the report made by that officer upon
his return.

"The most northern point at which I found water last year, was near the
top of a deep ravine of the Black Rock Hills, in lat. 32 degrees 45
minutes 25 seconds, where I left the dray and the larger portion of my
party on the 20th July, taking on only a light spring cart, the bottom
filled entirely with kegs containing sufficient water for our horses for
nearly three days, and provisions for one month, which was as much as the
cart would contain.

"My object being to ascertain the boundaries of the southern termination
of the eastern branch of Lake Torrens, as laid down by Mr. Eyre, and also
the nature of the country between Flinders range, as high as the parallel
of Mount Hopeless, and the meridian of 141 degrees, (the eastern limits
of the province), I kept at first a course as near N.N.E. as the nature
of the ground would admit, to ensure my not passing to the east of this
extremity of the lake; from whence I intended, if possible, to pursue a
line nearly north-east, as far as my time and the means at my disposal
would allow me, hoping to reach the high land laid down by Sir Thomas
Mitchell, on the right banks of the Darling, to the north of Mount Lyell,
and thus ascertain if any reasonable hope existed of penetrating at some
future time towards the interior from thence. The continued heavy rains
which had fallen for more than three weeks before my departure from
Adelaide, on the 8th July, and for nearly a fortnight afterwards, had
left the surface water in pools on the scrubby plains, and in some of the
ravines; but on proceeding north, it was evident that these rains had not
been there so general or so heavy, though by steering from point to point
of the hills, after crossing the Black Rock Range at Rowe's Creek, I was
able to find sufficient water for the horses, and to replenish the kegs
every second or third day. From this spot, the plains, as well as the
higher land, appeared evidently to dip away to the north-east, the barren
hills all diminishing in elevation, and the deep watercourses from
Flinders range all crossing the plains in that direction. In one of these
watercourses, the Siccus (lat. about 31 degrees 55 minutes), whose
section nearly equals that of the Murray, there were indications of not
very remote floods having risen to between twenty and thirty feet above
its bed, plainly marked by large gum-trees lodged in the forks of the
standing trees, and lying high up on its banks, on one of which I
remarked dead leaves still on the branches; and in another creek (Pasmore
River), lat. 31 degrees 29 minutes, a strong current was running at the
spot where we struck it (owing, I suppose, to recent heavy rains among
the hills from whence it has its source), but below this point the bed
was like that of all the other creeks, as dry as if no rain had ever
fallen, and with occasional patches of various shrubs, and salt water
tea-tree growing in it. After crossing the low ridge above Prewitt's
Springs, lat. 31 degrees 45 minutes, forming the left bank of the basin
of the Siccus, the plain extended between the north and east as far as
the eye could reach, and the lurid glare of the horizon, as we advanced
northward, plainly indicated the approach of Lake Torrens, which, from
the direction I had followed, I expected to turn about this point. I was
obliged, however, to continue a northerly course for the sake of water,
which I could only hope to find in the ravines of the hills on our left,
as high as the parallel of 30 degrees 59 minutes, where the lake was
visible within fifteen or sixteen miles, and appeared from the high land
to be covered with water, studded with islands, and backed on the east by
a bold rocky shore. These appearances were, however, all deceptive, being
caused solely by the extraordinary refraction, as on riding to the spot
the following day, not a drop of water was to be seen in any direction.
The islands turned out to be mere low sandy ridges, very scantily clothed
with stunted scrub on their summits, and no distant land appeared any
where between the north and south-east, though from the hills above our
camp of the previous night, I could discern, with the aid of a very
powerful telescope, a ridge of low land, either on the eastern side of
the lake, or rising out of it, distant at least seventy miles, rendered
visible at that distance by the excessive refractive power of the
atmosphere on the horizon. A salt crust was seen at intervals on the
surface of the sand at the margin of the lake, or as it might more
properly be called, the Desert; but this appearance might either be
caused by water brought down by the Siccus, and other large watercourses
spreading over the saline soil in times of flood, or by rain, and
appeared to me no proof of its ever being covered with water for any
period of time. A few pieces of what appeared drift timber were also
lying about its surface. The sand, as we advanced farther east, became
more loose and drifting, and not a blade of grass, or any species of
vegetation, was visible, rendering hopeless any attempt to cross it with
horses. This point of the lake shore, being by Mr. Eyre's chart about
thirty miles to the westward of where I found it, I thought it advisable
to push further north, in the direction of the highest point of the
range, which I imagined was probably his Mount Serle; for though it was
not to be expected that Mr. Eyre, whose principal and almost sole object
was to discover a road to the interior, would, at the same time, have
been able to lay down the position of his route with the same accuracy
that might have been expected from a surveyor; this difference of
longitude prevented my being certain of the identity of the spot, or that
the range on our left, might not after all, be another long promontory
running to the north, similar to that on the western side of which was
Mr. Eyre's course. The appearance of the country, however, from the hills
close under Mount Serle (for the perpendicular cliffs on the east side of
this range of hills prevented my ascending to their summit without
turning them among the ranges, for which I had not time), convinced me at
once, from its perfect accordance with the description given by Mr. Eyre,
that his eastern arm of Lake Torrens was the sandy desert I had left, its
surface being about three hundred feet above the level of the sea; and
our two converging lines having thus met at Mount Serle, I knew it was
useless to advance further in the same direction to a spot which he had
named, from the impossibility of proceeding beyond it, "Mount Hopeless."

"I was thus forced to return to Pasmore River, as the nearest point from
whence I could cross to the low hills to the eastward, south of Lake
Torrens; and from thence I sent back to the depot two men of the party,
and three horses--the former for the sake of their rations, and the
latter on account of the probable difficulty I should have in procuring
water--taking on with me only Mr. Henderson and Mr. Hawker on foot, with
the light cart and one policeman. The second evening I made the most
northern of these hills, but could not find a drop of water in any of
them; and having unluckily lost the policeman, who had crossed in front
of the dray and got entangled in the dense scrub, I was detained three
days riding upon his tracks, until I had traced them to our dray tracks
from the depot at the Black Rock Hill, which he reached in safety, after
being out five days without food. The cart, in the mean time, had been
obliged to leave the spot where I left it, for want of water--having been
out six days without obtaining any but what we carried in the kegs; and
when I overtook it, we had not sufficient provisions for another attempt,
the period of one month, for which they were intended to last, having
already nearly expired.

"I very much regret not having been able to reach, at all events, within
sight of Mount Lyell; but where I turned I could plainly see the whole
country within fifty or sixty miles of the boundaries of the province,
and can speak with almost as much confidence of its absolute sterility as
if I had actually ridden over it. It would certainly be possible in the
wet season to take a small party from Prewitt's Springs across to this
hill of Sir Thomas Mitchell (distant about one hundred and sixty miles),
by carrying on water for eight or ten days; but no further supply might
be found short of the Darling (eighty miles beyond Mount Lyell), on which
river it would be madness to attempt anything without a considerable
force, on account of the natives; and the same point might be reached in
nearly as short a time, and with much more certainty, with any number of
men that might be considered necessary, by ascending the Murray as high
as the Laidley Ponds, and proceeding north from thence.

"On returning to the depot, I moved the party down to Mount Bryan, and
made another attempt on the 25th August, with Mr. Henderson, and one man
leading a pack-horse, to the north-east, hoping, from the heavy rains
which had fallen during the past two months, to find sufficient water in
the ravines to enable me to push on for several days. The second day, I
crossed the high range I had observed from the Black Rock Hills and Mount
Bryan, for the southern termination of which Colonel Gawler steered when
he left the northern bend of the Murray in December, 1839; but though
these hills had an elevation of twelve hundred or fourteen hundred feet
above the plain, there was no indication of rain having fallen there
since the deluge. This want of water prevented my proceeding further to
the north-east; but from the summit of the highest of these hills (Mount
Porcupine,) I had a clear view of the horizon in every direction, and a
more barren, sterile country, cannot be imagined.

"The direction of the dividing ridge between the basin of the Murray and
the interior desert plain was generally about north-east from the Black
Rock Hills (the highest point north of Mount Bryan,) gradually decreasing
in elevation, and, if possible, increasing in barrenness. The summits of
those hills I found invariably rock--generally sandstone--the lower
slopes covered with dense brush, and the valleys with low scrub, with
occasional small patches of thin wiry grass. I was obliged to return on
the third day, and reached the foot of Mount Bryan on the fourth evening,
at the southern extremity of which hill the horses were nearly bogged in
the soft ground, though only fifty miles distant from land where the dust
was flying as if in the midst of summer.

"It appears to me certain, from the result of these different attempts,
that there is no country eastward of the high land extending north from
Mount Bryan, as far as Mount Hopeless, a distance of about three hundred
miles, as far as the meridian of 141 degrees (and probably much beyond
it), available for either agricultural or pastoral purposes; and that,
though there may be occasional spots of good land at the base of the main
range on the sources of the numerous creeks flowing from thence towards
the inland desert, these must be too limited in extent to be of any
present value.

"The nature of the formation of the main range I found generally
iron-stone, conglomerate and quartz, with sandstone and slate at the
lower elevation. At the points of highest elevation from Mount Bryan
northward, igneous rocks of basaltic character protruded from below,
forming rugged and fantastic outlines.

"At one spot, particularly, about 30 degrees, there were marked
indications of volcanic action, and several hollows resembling small
craters of extinct volcanoes, near one of which we found a small spring
of water, maintaining always a temperature of about 76 degrees Farenheit,
when the thermometer standing in water in the kegs stood at 52 degrees,
and in the atmosphere at 54 degrees.

"The accompanying sketch of the country from Mount Bryan northwards, will
probably explain its character better than any written description. The
altitudes marked at the different spots where they were observed, were
obtained by the temperature of boiling water, as observed by two
thermometers; but as they were not graduated with sufficient minuteness
for such purposes, the results can only be considered approximate."

Capt. Royal Engineers,
September 14th, 1843.

In the above report it will be observed, that there are some apparent
discrepancies between my account and Captain Frome's. First, with respect
to the position of the south-east extremity of Lake Torrens. Captain
Frome states that he found that point thirty miles more to the east than
I had placed it in my chart. Now the only sketch of my course under
Flinders range, and that a rough one, which I furnished to the Colonial
Government, was sent from Port Lincoln, and is the same which was
subsequently published with other papers, relative to South Australia,
for the House of Commons, in 1843. This sketch was put together hastily
for his Excellency the Governor, that I might not lose the opportunity of
forwarding it when I sent from Port Lincoln to Adelaide for supplies
early in October, 1840. It was constructed entirely, after I found myself
compelled to return from the northern interior, and could only be
attended to, in a hurried and imperfect manner, during the brief
intervals I could snatch from other duties, whilst travelling back from
the north to Port Lincoln (nearly 400 miles,) during which time my
movements were very rapid, and many arrangements, consequent upon
dividing my party at Baxter's range, had to be attended to; added to this
were the difficulties and embarrassments of conducting myself one
division of the party to Port Lincoln, through 200 miles of a desert
country which had never been explored before, and which, from its arid
and sterile character, presented impediments of no ordinary kind.

Upon my return to Adelaide in 1841, after the Expedition had terminated,
other duties engrossed my time, and it was only after the publication of
Captain Frome's report, that my attention was again called to the
subject. Upon comparing my notes and bearings with the original sketch I
had made, I found that in the hurry and confusion of preparing it, whilst
travelling, I had laid down all the bearings and courses magnetic,
without allowing for the variation; nor can this error, perhaps, be
wondered at, considering the circumstances under which the sketch was

At Mount Hopeless the variation was 4 degrees E., at Mount Arden it was 7
degrees 24 minutes E. Now if this variation be applied proportionably to
all the courses and bearings as marked down in the original chart,
commencing from Mount Arden, it will be found that Mount Serle will be
brought by my map very nearly in longitude to where Captain Frome places
it. [Note 30 at end of para.] Our latitudes appear to agree exactly.
The second point upon which some difference appears to exist
between Captain Frome's report and mine is the character of Lake Torrens
itself, which Captain Frome thought might more properly be called
a desert. This, it will be observed, is with reference to its south-east
extremity--a point I never visited, and which I only saw once from
Mount Serle; a point, too, which from the view I then had of it,
distant although it was, even at that time seemed to me to be
"apparently dry," and is marked as such in Arrowsmith's chart,
published from the sketch alluded to.

[Note 30: This has been done by Arrowsmith in the map which accompanies
these volumes;--to which Mr. Arrowsmith has also added Captain Frome's
route from the original tracings.]

There is, however, a still greater, and more singular difference alluded
to in Captain Frome's report, which it is necessary to remark; I mean
that of the elevation of the country. On the west side of Flinders range,
for 200 miles that I traced the course of Lake Torrens, it was, as I have
observed, girded in its whole course by a steep ridge, like a sea-shore,
from which you descended into a basin, certainly not above the level of
the sea, possibly even below it (I had no instruments with me to enable
me to ascertain this,) the whole bed consisted of mud and water, and I
found it impossible to advance far into it from its boggy nature. On the
east side of Flinders range, Captain Frome found the lake a desert, 300
feet above the level of the sea, [Note 31: By altitude deduced from the
temperature of boiling water.] and consisting of "loose and drifting
sand," and "low sandy ridges, very scantily clothed with stunted scrub on
their summits." Now, by referring to Captain Frome's chart and report, it
appears that the place thus described was nearly thirty miles south of
Mount Serle, and consequently twenty miles south of that part of the bed
of Lake Torrens which I had seen from that hill. It is further evident,
that Captain Frome had not reached the basin of Lake Torrens, and I
cannot help thinking, that if he had gone further to the north-east, he
would have come to nearly the same level that I had been at on the
western side of the hills. There are several reasons for arriving at this
conclusion. First, the manner in which the drainage is thrown off from
the east side of Flinders range, and the direction which the watercourses
take to the north-east or north; secondly, because an apparent connection
was traceable in the course of the lake, from the heights in Flinders
range, nearly all the way round it; thirdly, because the loose sands and
low sandy ridges crowned with scrub, described by Captain Frome, were
very similar to what I met with near Lake Torrens in the west side,
before I reached its basin.

After the Northern Expedition had been compelled to return south, (being
unable to cross Lake Torrens,) the peninsula of Port Lincoln was
examined, and traversed completely round, in all the three sides of the
triangle formed by its east and west coasts, and a line from Mount Arden
to Streaky Bay. A road overland from Mount Arden was forced through the
scrub for a dray; but the country travelled through was of so
inhospitable a character as to hold out no prospect of its being
generally available for overland communication. One unfortunate
individual has since made an attempt to take over a few head of cattle by
this route, but was unable to accomplish it, and miserably perished with
his whole party from want of water. [Note 32: Vide note to page 154,
Vol. I. (Note 11)]

On the northern side of the triangle I have alluded to, or on the line
between Mount Arden and Streaky Bay, a singularly high and barren range,
named the Gawler Range after His Excellency the Governor, was found
consisting of porphoritic granite, extending nearly all the way across,
and then stretching out to the north-west in lofty rugged outline as far
as the eye could reach; the most remarkable fact connected with this
range, was the arid and sterile character of the country in which it was
situated, as well as of the range itself, which consisted entirely of
rugged barren rocks, without timber or vegetation. There was not a stream
or a watercourse of any kind emanating from it; we could find neither
spring nor permanent fresh water, and the only supply we procured for
ourselves was from the deposits left by very recent rains, and which in a
few days more, would have been quite dried up. The soil was in many
places saline, and wherever water had lodged in any quantity (as in lakes
of which there were several) it was quite salt.

[Note 33: A small exploring party, under a Mr. Darke, was sent from Port
Lincoln in August, 1844, but after getting as far as the Gawler Range were
compelled by the inhospitable nature of the country to return. The
unfortunate leader was murdered by the natives on his route homewards.]

Continuing the line of coast to the westward, the expedition passed
through the most wretched and desolate country imaginable, consisting
almost entirely of a table-land, or of undulating ridges, covered for the
most part with dense scrubs, and almost wholly without either grass or
water. The general elevation of this country was from three to five
hundred feet, and all of the tertiary deposit, with primary rocks
protruding at intervals.

The first permanent fresh water met with on the surface was a small
fresh-water lake, beyond the parallel of 123 degrees E.; but from Mount
Arden to that point, a distance of fully 800 miles in a direct line, none
whatever was found on the surface (if I except a solitary small spring
sunk in the rock at Streaky Bay). During the whole of this vast distance,
not a watercourse, not a hollow of any kind was crossed; the only water
to be obtained was by digging close to the sea-shore, or the sand-hills
of the coast, and even by that means it frequently could not be procured
for distances of 150 to 160 miles together. With the exception of the
Gawler Range, which lies between Streaky Bay and Mount Arden, this dreary
waste was one almost uniform table-land of fossil formation, with an
elevation of from three to five hundred feet, covered for the most part
by dense impenetrable scrubs, and varied only on its surface by
occasional sandy or rocky undulations.

What then can be the nature of that mysterious interior, bounded as it is
by a table-land without river or lakes, without watercourses or drainage
of any kind, for so vast a distance? Can it be that the whole is one
immense interminable desert, or an alternation of deserts and shallow
salt lakes like Lake Torrens? Conjecture is set at defiance by the
impenetrable arrangements of nature; where, the more we pry into her
secrets, the more bewildered and uncertain become all our speculations.

It has been a common and a popular theory to imagine the existence of an
inland sea, and this theory has been strengthened and confirmed by the
opinion of so talented, so experienced, and so enterprising a traveller
as my friend Captain Sturt, in its favour. That gentleman, with the noble
and disinterested enthusiasm by which he has ever been characterised, has
once more sacrificed the pleasure and quiet of domestic happiness, at the
shrine of enterprise and science. With the ardour of youth, and the
perseverance and judgment of riper years, he is even now traversing the
trackless wilds, and seeking to lift up that veil which has hitherto hung
over their recesses. May he be successful to the utmost of his wishes,
and may he again rejoin in health and safety his many friends, to forget
in their approbation and admiration the toils he has encountered, and to
enjoy the rewards and laurels which will have been so hardly earned, and
so well deserved.

It was in August, 1844, that Captain Sturt set out upon his arduous
undertaking, with a numerous and well equipped party, and having
provisions calculated to last them for eighteen months. I had the
pleasure of accompanying the expedition as far as the Rufus (about 240
miles from Adelaide), to render what assistance I could, in passing up,
on friendly terms among the more distant natives of the Murray. Since my
return, Captain Sturt has been twice communicated with, and twice heard
from, up to the time I left the Colony, on the 21st December, 1844. The
last official communication addressed to the Colonial Government will be
found in Chapter IX. of Notes on the Aborigines. The following is a copy
of a private letter to John Morphett, Esq M.C., and published in the
Adelaide Observer of the 9th November, 1844:--

"14th October, 1844.

"I left Lake Victoria, as I told you in a former letter, on the 18th of
September, and again cut across the country to the Murray. As we
travelled along we saw numerous tracks of wild cattle leading from the
marshes to the river, and we encamped at the junction of the river and a
lagoon (one of the most beautiful spots you ever saw), just where these
tracks were most numerous. In the night therefore we were surrounded by
lowing herds, coming to the green pastures of which we had taken
possession. In the morning I sent Messrs. Poole and Brown, with Flood my
stockman, and Mark to drive in some bullocks, as I was anxious to secure
one or two workers. The brush however was too thick, and in galloping
through it after a bull, Flood's carbine exploded, and blew off three of
the fingers of his right hand. This accident obliged me to remain
stationary for two days, notwithstanding my anxiety to get up to the
lagoon at Williorara, to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the report I
had heard of the massacre of a party of overlanders there.

"On the 23rd I reached the junction of the Ana branch with the Murray,
discovered by Eyre, and then turned northwards. Running this Ana branch
up, I crossed it where the water ceased, and went to the Darling,
striking it about fifteen miles above its junction with the Murray. The
unlooked-for course of the Darling however kept me longer on its banks
than I had anticipated; but you can form no idea of the luxuriant verdure
of its flats. They far surpass those of the Murray, both in quantity and
quality of soil; and extended for many miles at a stretch along the river
side. We have run up it at a very favourable season, and seen the
commencement of its floods; for, two days after we reached it, and found
it with scarcely any water in its bed, we observed a fresh in it,
indicated by a stronger current. The next morning to our surprise the
waters were half-bank high. They had risen six feet during the night, and
were carrying everything before them; now they are full sixteen feet
above their level, and a most beautiful river it is. Over this said
mysterious river, as Major Mitchell calls it, the trees drooped like
willows, or grew in dark clusters at each turn; the sloping banks were of
a vivid green, the flats lightly timbered, and the aspect of the whole
neighbourhood cheerful.

"I had hoped that we should have been able to approach the ranges pretty
closely along the line of Laidley's Ponds; but fancy our disappointment
when we arrived on its banks to find that instead of a mountain stream it
was a paltry creek, connecting a lake, now dry, with the river, and that
its banks were quite bare. I was therefore obliged to fall back upon the
Darling, and have been unable to stir for the last four days by reason of
heavy rain.

"On Tuesday I despatched Mr. Poole to the ranges, which are forty miles
distant from us, to ascertain if there is water or feed under them; but I
have no hope of good tidings, and believe I shall ultimately be obliged
to establish myself on the Darling.

"You will be glad to hear, and so ought every body, that we have
maintained a most satisfactory intercourse with the natives. The report
we had heard referred to Major Mitchell's affray with them, and you will
not be surprised at their reverting to it, when I tell you that several
old men immediately recognized me as having gone down the Murray in a
boat, although they could have seen me for an hour or two only, and
fifteen years have now elapsed since I went down the river. I suppose we
misunderstood the story; but most assuredly I fully anticipated we
should, sooner or later, come on some dreadful acene or other, and I came
up fully prepared to act; but the natives have been exceedingly quiet,
nor have we seen a weapon in the hands of any of them: in truth I have
been quite astonished at the change in the blacks; for instead of
collecting in a body, they have visited us with their wives and children,
and have behaved in the most quiet manner. We may attribute this in part
to our own treatment of the natives, and in part to Eyre's influence over
them, which is very extensive, and has been productive of great good. The
account the natives give of the distant interior is very discouraging. It
is nothing more however than what I expected. They say that beyond the
hills it is all sand and rocks; that there is neither grass or water, or
wood; and that it is awfully hot. This last feature appears to terrify
them. They say that they are obliged to take wood to the hills for fire,
and that they clamber up the rocks on the hills; that when there is water
there, it is in deep holes from which they are obliged to sponge it up
and squeeze it out to drink. I do not in truth think that any of the
natives have been beyond the hills, and that the country is perfectly

"We are now not more than two hundred and fifteen feet above the sea,
with a declining country to the north-west, and the general dip of the
continent to the south-west. What is the natural inference where there is
not a single river emptying itself upon the coast, but that there is an
internal basin? Such a country can only be penetrated by cool calculation
and determined perseverance. I have sat down before it as a besieger
before a fortress, to make my approaches with the same systematic
regularity. I must cut hay and send forage and water in advance, as far
as I can. I have the means of taking sixteen days' water and feed for two
horses and three men; and if I can throw my supplies one hundred miles in
advance, I shall be able to go two hundred miles more beyond that point,
at the rate of thirty miles a-day, one of us walking whilst two rode.
Surely at such a distance some new feature will open to reward our
efforts! My own opinion is, that an inland sea will bring us up ere
long--then how shall we get the boat upon it? 'Why,' you will say,
'necessity is the mother of invention.' You will find some means or
other, no doubt; and so we will. However, under any circumstances, depend
upon it I will either lift up or tear down the curtain which hides the
interior from us, so look out for the next accounts from me as of the
most interesting kind, as solving this great problem, or shutting the
door to discovery from this side the continent for ever.

"P.S. Poole has just returned from the ranges. I have not time to write
over again. He says that there are high ranges to N. and N.W. and
water,--a sea extending along the horizon from S.W. by W., to ten E. of
N. in which there are a number of islands and lofty ranges as far as the
eye can reach. What is all this? Are we to be prosperous? I hope so; and
I am sure you do. To-morrow we start for the ranges, and then for the
waters,--the strange waters on which boat never swam, and over which flag
never floated. But both shall are long. We have the heart of the interior
laid open to us, and shall be off with a flowing sheet in a few days.
Poole says that the sea was a deep blue, and that in the midst of it
there was a conical island of great height. When will you hear from me

From this communication, Captain Sturt appears to be sanguine of having
realized the long hoped for sea, and at last of having found a key to the
centre of the continent. Most sincerely do I hope that this may be the
case, and that the next accounts may more than confirm such satisfactory

My own impressions were always decidedly opposed to the idea of an inland
sea, nor have I changed them in the least, now that circumstances
amounting almost to proof, seem to favour that opinion.

Entertaining, as I do, the highest respect for the opinion of one so
every way capable of forming a correct judgment as Captain Sturt, it is
with considerable diffidence that I advance any conjectures in opposition
to his, and especially so, as I may be thought presumptuous in doing so
in the face of the accounts received. Until these accounts, however, are
further confirmed, the question still remains as it was; and it may
perhaps not be out of place to allude to some of the reasons which have
led me to form an opinion somewhat different from that entertained by
Captain Sturt, and which I have been compelled to arrive at after a long
personal experience, a closer approach to the interior, and a more
extensive personal examination of the continent, than any other traveller
has hitherto made. In the course of that experience, I have never met
with the slightest circumstance to lead me to imagine that there should
be an inland sea, still less a deep navigable one, and having an outer
communication with the ocean. I can readily suppose, and, in fact, I do
so believe, that a considerable portion of the interior consists of the
beds or basins of salt lakes or swamps, as Lake Torrens, and some of
which might be of great extent. I think, also, that these alternate, with
sandy deserts, and that probably at intervals, there are many isolated
ranges, like the Gawler range, and which, perhaps, even in some places
may form a connection of links across the continent, could any favourable
point be obtained for commencing the examination.

It is very possible that among these ranges, intervals of a better or
even of a rich and fertile country might be met with.

The suggestion thrown out by Captain Sturt a few years ago, that
Australia might formerly have been an Archipelago of islands, appears to
me to have been a happy idea, and to afford the most rational and
satisfactory way of accounting for many of the peculiarities observable
upon its surface or in its structure. That it has only recently (compared
with other countries) obtained its present elevation, is often forcibly
impressed upon the traveller, by the appearance of the country he is
traversing, but no where have I found this to be the case in a greater
degree, than whilst exploring that part of it, north of Spencer's Gulf,
where a great portion of the low lands intervening, between the base of
Flinders range, and the bed of Lake Torrens, presents the appearance of a
succession of rounded undulations of sand or pebbles washed perfectly
smooth and even, looking like waves of the sea, and seeming as if they
had not been very many centuries deserted by the element that had moulded
them into their present form. In this singular district I found scattered
at intervals throughout the whole area inclosed by, but south of, Lake
Torrens, many steep-sided fragments of a table land, [Note 34 at end of
para.] which had evidently been washed to pieces by the violent action of
water, and which appeared to have been originally, of nearly the same
general elevation as the table lands to the westward. It seems to me,
that these table lands have formerly been the bed of the ocean, and this
opinion is fully borne out by the many marine remains, fossil shells, and
banks of oyster shells, [Note 35 at end of para.] which are frequently to
be met with embedded in them. What are now the ranges of the continent
would therefore formerly have been but rocks or islands, and if this
supposition be true, there are still hopes that some other islands are
scattered over the immense space occupied by Australia, and which may be
of as rich and fertile a character, as any that are yet known. Thus if
the intervening extent of desert lying between any of the known portions
of Australia, and what may be considered as having been the next island,
can be ascertained and crossed over, new and valuable regions may yet be
offered for the extension of the pastoral interest of our Colonies,
and for the general spread of civilization and improvement.

[Note 34: "An hundred miles above this, I passed a curious feature, called
the "Square Hills" (plate 123 ). I landed my canoe and went ashore, and to
their tops to examine them. Though they appeared to be near the river, I
found it half a day's journey to travel to and from them; they being
several miles from the river. On ascending them I found them to be two or
three hundred feet high, and rising on their sides at an angle of 45 deg.
and on their tops, in some places for half a mile in length perfectly
level, with a green turf, and corresponding exactly with the tabular
hills spoken of above the Mandans, in plate 39, vol. 1. I therein said
that I should visit these hills on my way down the river; and I am fully
convinced from close examination, that they are a part of the same
original superstratum, which I therein described, though 7 or 800 miles
separated from them. They agree exactly in character, and also in the
materials of which they are composed; and I believe that some
unaccountable gorge of waters has swept away the intervening earth,
leaving these solitary and isolated, though incontrovertible evidences,
that the summit level of all this great valley, has at one time been
where the level surface of these hills now is, two or three hundred feet
above what is now denominated the summit level."--Catlin's American
Indians, Vol. 2. pp. 11 and 12.]

[Note 35: Similar banks of fossil shells and oyster beds, are found in the
Arkansas.--Vide Catlin, Vol. 2. p. 85. At page 86, Mr. Catlin describes
banks of gypsum and salt, extending through a considerable extent of
country, and which apparently was of a very similar formation to some of
the localities I was in to the north of Spencer's Gulf.]

I have already observed that several circumstances connected with my own
personal experience have led me to the conclusion, that there is no
inland sea now occupying the centre of New Holland; it will be sufficient
to name three of the most important of these.

First. I may mention the hot winds which in South Australia, or opposite
the centre of the continent, always blow from the north, to those, who
have experienced the oppressive and scorching influence of these winds,
which can only be compared to the fiery and withering blasts from a
heated furnace, I need hardly point out that there is little probability
that such winds can have been wafted over a large expanse of water.

Secondly. I may state that between the Darling river and the head of the
Great Australian Bight, I have at various points come into friendly
communication with the Aborigines inhabiting the outskirts of the
interior, and from them I have invariably learnt that they know of no
large body of water inland, fresh or salt; that there were neither trees
nor ranges, but that all was an arid waste so far as they were accustomed
to travel.

Thirdly. I infer the non-existence of an inland sea, from the coincidence
observable in the physical appearance, customs, character, and pursuits
of the Aborigines at opposite points of the continent, whilst no such
coincidence exists along the intervening lines of coast connecting those

With respect to the first consideration, it is unnecessary to add further
remark; as regards the second, I may state, that although I may sometimes
not have met with natives at those precise spots which might have been
best suited for making inquiry, or although I may sometimes have had a
difficulty in explaining myself to, or in understanding a people whose
language I did not comprehend; yet such has not always been the case, and
on many occasions I have had intercourse with natives at favourable
positions, and have been able, quite intelligibly, to carry on any
inquiries. One of these opportunities occurred in the very neighbourhood
of the hill from which Mr. Poole is said to have seen the inland sea, as
described in Captain Sturt's despatch.

There are several reasons for supposing Mr. Poole to have been deceived
in forming an opinion of the objects which he saw before him from that
elevation: first, I know, from experience, the extraordinary and
deceptive appearances that are produced in such a country as Mr. Poole
was in, by mirage and refration combined. I have often myself been very
similarly deceived by the semblance of hills, islands, and water, where
none such existed in reality. Secondly, in December 1843, I was within
twenty-five miles of the very spot from which Mr. Poole thought he looked
upon a sea, and I was then accompanied by natives, and able, by means of
an interpreter, to communicate with those who were acquainted with the
country to the north-west. My inquiries upon this point were particular;
but they knew of no sea. They asserted that there was mud out in that
direction, and that a party would be unable to travel; from which I
inferred either that some branch of the Darling spread out its waters
there in time of flood, or that Lake Torrens itself was stretching out in
the direction indicated. Thirdly, I hold it physically impossible that a
sea can exist in the place assigned to it, in as much as during an
expedition, undertaken by the Surveyor-general of the Colony, in
September, 1843, that officer had attained a position which would place
himself and Mr. Poole at two opposite points, upon nearly the same
parallel of latitude; but about 130 miles of longitude apart, in a low
level country, and in which, therefore, the ranges of their respective
vision from elevations would cross each other, and if there was a sea,
Captain Frome must have seen it as well as Mr. Poole; again, I myself had
an extensive and distant view to the north-east and east from Mount
Hopeless, a low hill, about ninety miles further north than Captain
Frome's position, but a little more east; yet there was nothing like a
sea to be seen from thence, the dry and glazed-looking bed of Lake
Torrens alone interrupting the monotony of the desert.

There are still some few points connected with our knowledge of the
outskirts of the interior which leave great room for speculation, and
might lead to the opinion that it is not altogether a low or a desert
region. The facts which have more immediately come under my own
observation, are connected, first with the presence of birds belonging to
a higher and better country in the midst of a desert region, and
secondly, with the line of route taken by the Aborigines in spreading
over the continent, as deduced from a coincidence or dissimilarity of the
manners, customs, or languages of tribes remotely apart from one another.

With respect to the presence of birds in a region such as they do not
usually frequent, I may state that at Mount Arden, near the head of
Spencer's Gulf, swans were seen taking their flight high in the air, to
the north, as if making for some river or lake they were accustomed to
feed at. At the Frome river, where it spreads into the plains to the
north of Flinders range; four white cockatoos were found flying about
among the trees, although those birds had not been met with for 200 miles
before I attained that point. [Note 36: Vide Vol. I. July 4, Aug 31,
and March 19.] And about longitude 128 degrees 20 minutes E., when
crossing over towards King George's Sound, large parrots were found coming
from the north-east, to feed upon the berries of a shrub growing on the
sea coast, although no parrots were seen for two or three hundred
miles on either side, either to the east or to the west, they
must, therefore, have come from the interior. Now the parrot is a bird
that often frequents a mountainous country, and always inhabits one
having timber of a better description and larger growth than the
miserable shrubs met with along the coast; it is a bird too that always
lives within reach of permanent fresh-water, as rivers, lakes, creeks,
pools, etc. Can there then be such in the interior, with so barren and
arid a region, bounding it? and how are we to commence an examination
with so many difficulties and embarrassments attending the very outset?

The second series of facts which have attracted my attention, relate to
the Aborigines. It is a well known circumstance that the dialects,
customs, and pursuits in use among them in the various parts of the
continent, differ very much from each other in some particulars, and yet
that there is such a general similarity in the aggregate as to leave no
room to doubt that all the Aborigines of Australia have had one common
origin, and are in reality one and the same race. If this then is really
the case, they must formerly have spread over the continent from one
first point, and this brings me to the

Third reason I have mentioned as being one, from which I infer, that
there is not an inland sea, viz., the coincidence observable in the
physical appearance, customs, character, and pursuits of the Aborigines,
at opposite points of the continent, whilst no such coincidence exists
along the intervening lines of coast connecting those two points, and
which naturally follows from the circumstances connected with the present
location of the various tribes in which this is observable, and with the
route which they must have taken to arrive at the places they now occupy
on the continent. [Note 37 at end of para.] I believe that the idea of
attempting to deduce the character of the continent, and the most probable
line for crossing it, from the circumstances and habits of the natives
inhabiting the coast line is quite a novel one. It appears to me, however,
to be worth consideration; and if it is true that the natives have all one
common origin, and have spread over the continent from one first point,
I think it may reasonably be inferred that there is a practicable route
across the centre of New Holland, and that this line lies between the
125th and 135th degrees of east longitude. It further appears that there
must still be a second route, other than the coast line, in the direction
between Port Jackson in New South Wales and the south-east corner of the
Gulf of Carpentaria on the north coast.

[Note 37: Vide Chapter VII. of Notes on the Aborigines, where this subject
will be found fully discussed, and the reasons given for supposing the
conclusions here assumed.]

If then we have reasonable grounds for believing that such lines of route
actually do exist, it becomes a matter of much interest and importance to
determine the most favourable point from which to explore them. My own
experience has pointed out the dreadful nature of the southern coast, and
the very great and almost insuperable difficulties that beset the
traveller at the very commencement--in his efforts even to establish a
single depot from which to enter upon his researches. The northern coast
may, probably, afford greater facilities, but in a tropical climate,
where the heat and other circumstances render ordinary difficulties and
impediments still more embarrassing and dangerous, it is a matter of deep
moment that the expedition for interior exploration should commence at
the right point, and this can only be ascertained by a previous

I have myself always been most anxious to attempt to cross from Moreton
Bay on the N. E. coast to Port Essington on the N. W. I believe that this
journey is quite practicable, and I have no doubt that if judiciously
conducted, and the country to the south of the line of route always
examined, as far as that could be done, it would completely develop, in
connection with what is already known, the character and formation of
Australia, and would at once point out the most proper place from which
subsequent expeditions ought to start in order finally to accomplish the
passage across its interior--from the north to the south.




Upon bringing to a close the narrative of an Expedition of Discovery in
Australia, during the progress of which an extensive portion of the
previously unknown parts of that continent were explored, I have thought
it might not be uninteresting to introduce a few pages on the subject of
the Aborigines of the country.

It would afford me much gratification to see an interest excited on their
behalf proportioned to the claims of a people who have hitherto been
misjudged or misrepresented.

For the last twelve years I have been personally resident in one or other
of the Australian Colonies, and have always been in frequent intercourse
with the aboriginal tribes that were near, rarely being without some of
them constantly with me as domestics.

To the advantages of private opportunities of acquiring a knowledge of
their character were added, latterly, the facilities afforded by my
holding a public appointment in South Australia, in the midst of a
district more densely populated by natives than any in that Colony, where
no settler had ventured to locate, and where, prior to my arrival in
October 1841, frightful scenes of bloodshed, rapine, and hostility
between the natives and parties coming overland with stock, had been of
frequent and very recent occurrence.

As Resident Magistrate of the Murray District, I may almost say, that for
the last three years I have lived with the natives. My duties have
frequently taken me to very great distances up the Murray or the Darling
rivers, when I was generally accompanied only by a single European, or at
most two, and where, if attacked, there was no possibility of my
receiving any human aid. I have gone almost alone among hordes of those
fierce and blood-thirsty savages, as they were then considered, and have
stood singly amongst them in the remote and trackless wilds, when
hundreds were congregated around, without ever receiving the least injury
or insult.

In my first visits to the more distant tribes I found them shy, alarmed,
and suspicious, but soon learning that I had no wish to injure them, they
met me with readiness and confidence. My wishes became their law; they
conceded points to me that they would not have done to their own people,
and on many occasions cheerfully underwent hunger, thirst, and fatigue to
serve me.

Former habits and prejudices in some respects gave way to the influence I
acquired. Tribes that never met or heard of one another before were
brought to mingle in friendly intercourse. Single individuals traversed
over immense distances and through many intervening tribes, which
formerly they never could have attempted to pass, and in accomplishing
this the white man's name alone was the talisman that proved their
safe-guard and protection.

During the whole of the three years I was Resident at Moorunde, not a
single case of serious injury or aggression ever took place on the part
of the natives against the Europeans; and a district, once considered the
wildest and most dangerous, was, when I left it in November 1844, looked
upon as one of the most peaceable and orderly in the province.

Independently of my own personal experience, on the subject of the
Aborigines, I have much pleasure in acknowledging the obligations I am
under to M. Moorhouse, Esq. Protector of Aborigines in Adelaide, for his
valuable assistance, in comparing and discussing the results of our
respective observations, on matters connected with the natives, and for
the obliging manner in which he has furnished me with many of his own
important and well-arranged notes on various points of interest in their

By this aid, I am enabled, in the following pages, to combine my own
observations and experience with those of Mr. Moorhouse, especially on
points connected with the Adelaide Tribes. In some cases, extracts from
Mr. Moorhouse's notes, will be copied in his own words, but in most I
found an alteration or rearrangement to be indispensable to enable me to
connect and amplify the subjects: I wish it to be particularly
understood, however, that with any deductions, inferences, remarks, or
suggestions, that may incidentally be introduced, Mr. Moorhouse is
totally unconnected, that gentleman's notes refer exclusively to abstract
matters of fact, relating to the habits, customs, or peculiarities of the
people treated of, and are generally confined to the Adelaide Tribes.

[Note 38: Some few of these notes were printed in the Colony, in a
detached form, as Reports to the Colonial Government, or in the
Vocabularies of the Missionaries, and since my return to England I find
others have been published in papers, ordered to be printed by the House
of Commons, in August 1844. From the necessity, however, of altering in
some measure the phraseology, to combine Mr. Moorhouse's remarks with my
own, and to preserve a uniformity in the descriptions, it has not been
practicable or desirable in all cases, to separate or distinguish by
inverted commas, those observations which I have adopted. I have,
therefore, preferred making a general acknowledgment of the use I have
made of the notes that were supplied to me by Mr. Moorhouse.]

In the descriptions given in the following pages, although there may
occasionally be introduced, accounts of the habits, manners, or customs
of some of the tribes inhabiting different parts of Australia I have
visited, yet there are others which are exclusively peculiar to the
natives of South Australia. I wish it, therefore, to be understood, that
unless mention is made of other tribes, or other parts of the continent,
the details given are intended to apply to that province generally, and
particularly to the tribes in it, belonging to the districts of Adelaide
and the Murray river.

As far as has yet been ascertained, the whole of the aboriginal
inhabitants of this continent, scattered as they are over an immense
extent of country, bear so striking a resemblance in physical appearance
and structure to each other; and their general habits, customs, and
pursuits, are also so very similar, though modified in some respects by
local circumstances or climate, that little doubt can be entertained that
all have originally sprung from the same stock. The principal points of
difference, observable between various tribes, appear to consist chiefly
in some of their ceremonial observances, and in the variations of dialect
in the language they speak; the latter are, indeed, frequently so great,
that even to a person thoroughly acquainted with any one dialect, there
is not the slightest clue by which he can understand what is said by a
tribe speaking a different one.

The only account I have yet met with, which professed to give any
particular description of the Aborigines of New Holland, is that
contained in the able papers upon this subject, by Captain Grey, in the
second volume of his travels. When it is considered, that the material
for that purpose was collected by the author, during a few months
interval between his two expeditions, which he spent at Swan River, and a
short time subsequently passed at King George's Sound, whilst holding the
appointment of Government Resident there; it is perfectly surprising that
the amount of information amassed should be so great, and so generally
correct, on subjects where so many mistakes are liable to be made, in all
first inquiries, when we are ignorant of the character and habits of the
people of whom information is to be sought, and unacquainted with the
language they speak.

The subject, however, upon a portion of which Captain Grey so
successfully entered, is very extensive, and one which no single
individual, except by the devotion of a life-time, could hope fully to
discuss. The Continent of Australia is so vast, and the dialects,
customs, and ceremonies of its inhabitants so varied in detail, though so
similar in general outline and character, that it will require the lapse
of years, and the labours of many individuals, to detect and exhibit the
links which form the chain of connection in the habits and history of
tribes so remotely separated; and it will be long before any one can
attempt to give to the world a complete and well-drawn outline of the

It is not therefore to satisfy curiosity, or to interrupt the course of
inquiry, that I enter upon the present work; I neither profess, nor could
I attempt to give a full or matured account of the Aborigines of New
Holland. Captain Grey's descriptions on this subject are limited to the
races of South-western, as mine are principally directed to those of
Southern Australia, with occasionally some remarks or anecdotes relating
to tribes in other parts of the Continent with whom I have come in

The character of the Australian native has been so constantly
misrepresented and traduced, that by the world at large he is looked upon
as the lowest and most degraded of the human species, and is generally
considered as ranking but little above the members of the brute creation.
Savages have always many vices, but I do not think that these are worse
in the New Hollanders, than in many other aboriginal races. It is said,
indeed, that the Australian is an irreclaimable, unteachable being; that
he is cruel, blood-thirsty, revengeful, and treacherous; and in support
of such assertions, references are made to the total failure of all
missionary and scholastic efforts hitherto made on his behalf, and to
many deeds of violence or aggression committed by him upon the settler.

[Note 39: I cannot adduce a stronger proof in support of the position I
assume, in favour of the natives, than by quoting the clear and just
conclusions at which the Right Honourable Lord Stanley, the present
Secretary of State for the Colonies, arrived, when considering the case of
some collisions with the natives on the Ovens River, and after a full
consideration of the various circumstances connected with the occurrence.
In a despatch to Governor Sir G. Gipps, dated 5th October, 1841, Lord
Stanley says, "Contrasting the accounts of the Aborigines given by Mr.
Docker with those given by Mr. Mackay, and the different terms on which
those gentlemen appear to be with them in the same vicinity, I cannot
divest myself of the apprehension that the fault in this case lies with
the colonists rather than with the natives. It was natural, that conduct
so harsh and intemperate as that of the Messrs. Mackay should be signally
visited on them, and probably also on wholly unoffending persons, by a
race of uninstructed and ignorant savages. At the same time the case of
Mr. Docker affords a most satisfactory instance of natives entering into
permanent service with white men, and working, as they appear to do,
steadily for wages."]

With respect to the first point, I consider that an intimate knowledge of
the peculiar habits, laws, and traditions, by which this people are
governed, is absolutely necessary, before any just opinion can be formed
as to how far the means hitherto pursued, have been suitable, or adapted
to counteract the influence of custom and the force of prejudice. Until
this knowledge is attained, we have no right to brand them as either
irreclaimable, or unteachable. My own impression, after long experience,
and an attentive consideration of the subject, is, that in the present
anomalous state of our relations with the Aborigines, our measures are
neither comprehensive enough for, nor is our system sufficiently adapted
to, the singular circumstances they are in, to enable us successfully to
contend with the difficulties and impediments in the way of their rising
in the scale of civilization.

Upon the second point it is also necessary to make many inquiries before
we arrive at our conclusions; and I have no doubt, if this be done with
calmness, and without prejudice, it will be generally found that there
are many extenuating circumstances which may be brought to modify our
judgment. I am anxious, if possible, to place a few of these before the
public, in the hope, that by lessening in some degree the unfavourable
opinion heretofore entertained of the Aborigines, they may be considered
for the future as more deserving our sympathy and benevolence.

Without assuming for the native a freedom from vice, or in any way
attempting to palliate the many brutalising habits that pollute his
character, I would still contend that, if stained with the excesses of
unrestrained passions, he is still sometimes sensible to the better
emotions of humanity. Many of the worst traits in his character are the
result of necessity, or the force of custom--the better ones are
implanted in him as a part of his nature. With capabilities for
receiving, and an aptness for acquiring instruction, I believe he has
also the capacity for appreciating the rational enjoyments of life.

Even in his present low and debased condition, and viewed under every
disadvantages, I do not imagine that his vices would usually be found
greater, or his passions more malignant than those of a very large
proportion of men ordinarily denominated civilised. On the contrary, I
believe were Europeans placed under the same circumstances, equally
wronged, and equally shut out from redress, they would not exhibit half
the moderation or forbearance that these poor untutored children of
impulse have invariably shewn.

It is true that occasionally many crimes have been committed by them, and
robberies and murders have too often occurred; but who can tell what were
the provocations which led to, what the feelings which impelled such
deeds? Neither have they been the only or the first aggressors, nor has
their race escaped unscathed in the contest. Could blood answer blood,
perhaps for every drop of European's shed by natives, a torrent of their,
by European hands, would crimson the earth.

[Note 40: "The whites were generally the aggressors. He had been informed
that a petition had been presented to the Governor, containing a list of
nineteen murders committed by the blacks. He could, if it were necessary,
make out a list of five hundred blacks who had been slaughtered by the
whites, and that within a short time."--Extract from speech of Mr.
Threlkeld to the Auxiliary Aborigines' Protection Society in New South
Wales. Abstract of a "Return of the number of homicides committed
respectively by blacks and whites, within the limits of the northwestern
district (of Port Phillip), since its first occupation by settlers--"

"Total number of white people killed by Aborigines   8
"Total number of Aborigines killed by white people  43."

This is only in one district, and only embraces such cases as came to the
knowledge of Mr. Protector Parker. For particulars vide Papers on
Aborigines of Australian Colonies, printed for the House of Commons,
August 1844, p. 318.]

Let us now inquire a little, upon whose side right and justice are
arrayed in palliation (if any such there can be) of deeds of violence or
aggression on the part of either.

It is an undeniable fact, that wherever European colonies have been
established in Australia, the native races in that neighbourhood are
rapidly decreasing, and already in some of the elder settlements, have
totally disappeared. It is equally indisputable that the presence of the
white man has been the sole agent in producing so lamentable an effect;
that the evil is still going on, increased in a ratio proportioned to the
number of new settlements formed, or the rapidity with which the settlers
overrun new districts. The natural, the inevitable, but the no less
melancholy result must be, that in the course of a few years more, if
nothing be done to check it, the whole of the aboriginal tribes of
Australia will be swept away from the face of the earth. A people who, by
their numbers, have spread around the whole of this immense continent,
and have probably penetrated into and occupied its inmost recesses, will
become quite extinct, their name forgotten, their very existence but a
record of history.

It is a popular, but an unfair and unwarranted assumption, that these
consequences are the result of the natural course of events; that they
are ordained by Providence, unavoidable, and not to be impeded. Let us at
least ascertain how far they are chargeable upon ourselves.

Without entering upon the abstract question concerning the right of one
race of people to wrest from another their possessions, simply because
they happen to be more powerful than the original inhabitants, or because
they imagine that they can, by their superior skill or acquirements,
enable the soil to support a denser population, I think it will be
conceded by every candid and right-thinking mind, that no one can justly
take that which is not his own, without giving some equivalent in return,
or deprive a people of their ordinary means of support, and not provide
them with any other instead. Yet such is exactly the position we are in
with regard to the inhabitants of Australia.

[Note 41: "The invasion of those ancient rights (of the natives) by
survey and land appropriations of any kind, is justifiable only on the
ground, that we should at the same time reserve for the natives an AMPLE
SUFFICIENCY for THEIR PRESENT and future use and comfort, under the new
style of things into which they are thrown; a state in which we hope they
will be led to live in greater comfort, on a small space, than
they enjoyed before it occurred, on their extensive original
possessions."--Reply of His Excellency Colonel Gawler, to the gentlemen
who objected to sections of land being appropriated for the natives,
before the public were allowed to select.]

Without laying claim to this country by right of conquest, without
pleading even the mockery of cession, or the cheatery of sale, we have
unhesitatingly entered upon, occupied, and disposed of its lands,
spreading forth a new population over its surface, and driving before us
the original inhabitants.

To sanction this aggression, we have not, in the abstract, the slightest
shadow of either right or justice--we have not even the extenuation of
endeavouring to compensate those we have injured, or the merit of
attempting to mitigate the sufferings our presence inflicts.

It is often argued, that we merely have taken what the natives did not
require, or were making no use of; that we have no wish to interfere with
them if they do not interfere with us, but rather that we are disposed to
treat them with kindness and conciliation, if they are willing to be
friends with us. What, however, are the actual facts of the case; and
what is the position of a tribe of natives, when their country is first
taken possession of by Europeans.

It is true that they do not cultivate the ground; but have they,
therefore, no interest in its productions? Does it not supply grass for
the sustenance of the wild animals upon which in a great measure they are
dependent for their subsistence?--does it not afford roots and vegetables
to appease their hunger?--water to satisfy their thirst, and wood to make
their fire?--or are these necessaries left to them by the white man when
he comes to take possession of their soil? Alas, it is not so! all are in
turn taken away from the original possessors. The game of the wilds that
the European does not destroy for his amusement are driven away by his
flocks and herds. [Note 42 at end of para.] The waters are occupied and
enclosed, and access to them in frequently forbidden. The fields are
fenced in, and the natives are no longerat liberty to dig up roots--the
white man claims the timber, and the very firewood itself is occasion
ally denied to them. Do they pass by the habitation of the intruder, they
are probably chased away or bitten by his dogs, and for this they can
get no redress. [Note 43 at end of para.] Have they dogs of their own,
they are unhesitatingly shot or worried because they are an annoyance to
the domestic animals of the Europeans. Daily and hourly do their wrongs
multiply upon them. The more numerous the white population becomes, and
the more advanced the stage of civilization to which the settlement
progresses, the greater are the hardships that fall to their lot and the
more completely are they cut off from the privileges of their birthright.
All that they have is in succession taken away from them--their
amusements, their enjoyments, their possessions, their freedom--and all
that they receive in return is obloquy, and contempt, and degradation,
and oppression. [Note 44 appears after note 43, below]

[Note 42: "But directly an European settles down in the country, his
constant residence in one spot soon sends the animals away from it, and
although he may in no other way interfere with the natives, the mere
circumstance of his residing there, does the man on whose land he settles
the injury of depriving him of his ordinary means of subsistence."--GREY'S
TRAVELS, vol. ii. p. 298.

"The great question was, were we to give them no equivalent for that which
we had taken from them? Had we deprived them of nothing? Was it
nothing that they were driven from the lands where their fathers
lived, where they were born and which were endeared to them by
associations equally strong with the associations of more civilsed
people? He believed that their affections were as warm as the Europeans."
"Perhaps he obtained his subsistence by fishing, and occupied a slip of
land on the banks of a river or the margin of a lake. Was he to be turned
off as soon as the land was required, without any consideration
whatever?" "Had any proper attempt been made for their civilization? They
had not yet had fair play--they had been courted by the missionaries with
the Bible on the one hand, and had at the sametime been driven away and
destroyed by the stock-keepers on the other. He thought that they might
be reclaimed if the proper course was adopted."--EXTRACTS FROM THE SPEECH

I have myself repeatedly seen the natives driven off private lands in the
vicinity of Adelaide, and their huts burned, even in cold wet weather.
The records of the Police Office will shew that they have been driven off
the Park lands, or those belonging to Government, or at least that they
have been brought up and punished for cutting wood from the trees there.
What are they to do, when there is not a stick or a tree within miles of
Adelaide that they can legally take?]

[Note 43: I have known repeated instances of natives in Adelaide
being bitten severely by savage dogs rushing out at them from the
yards of their owners, as they were peaceably passing along the street. On
the other hand I have known a native imprisoned for throwing his waddy at,
and injuring a pig, which was eating a melon he had laid down for a moment
in the street, and when the pig ought not to have been in the street at
all. In February 1842, a dog belonging to a native was shot by order of
Mr. Gouger, the then Colonial Secretary, and the owner as soon as he
became aware of the circumstance, speared his wife for not taking better
care of it, although she could not possibly have helped the occurrence. If
natives then revenge so severely such apparently trivial offences among
themselves, can we wonder that they should sometimes retaliate upon us
for more aggravated ones.]

[Note 44: The following are extracts from an address to a jury, when
trying some aboriginal natives, by Judge Willis. They at least shew some
of the BLESSINGS the Aborigines experience from being made British
subjects, and placed under British laws:--"I have, on a recent occasion,
stated my opinion, which I still entertain, that the proprietor of a run,
or, in other words, one who holds a lease or license from the Crown to
depasture certain Crown lands, may take all lawful means to prevent either
natives or others from entering or remaining upon it." "The aboriginals of
Van Diemen's Land were strictly commanded, by Governor Arthur's
proclamation of the 15th of April 1828 (a proclamation of which His
Majesty King George the Fourth, through the Right honourable the then
Secretary of State, by a dispatch of the 2nd of February, 1829, under the
circumstances, signified his approval,) "to retire and depart from, and
for no reason, and no pretence, save as therein provided, (viz.
travelling annually to the sea coast in quest of shellfish, under certain
regulations,) to re-enter the settled districts of Van Diemen's Land, or
any portions of land cultivated and occupied by any person whomsoever,
under the authority of Her Majesty's Government, on pain of forcible
expulsion therefrom, and such consequences as might be necessarily
attendant on it, and all magistrates and other persons by them authorized
and deputed, were required to conform themselves to the directions and
instructions of this proclamation, in effecting the retirement and
expulsion of the Aborigines from the settled districts of that

What are they to do under such circumstances, or how support a life so
bereft of its wonted supplies? Can we wonder that they should still
remain the same low abject and degraded creatures that they are,
loitering about the white man's house, and cringing, and pandering to the
lowest menial for that food they can no longer procure for themselves? or
that wandering in misery through a country, now no longer their own,
their lives should be curtailed by want, exposure, or disease? If, on the
other hand, upon the first appearance of Europeans, the natives become
alarmed, and retire from their presence, they must give up all the haunts
they had been accustomed to frequent, and must either live in a starving
condition, in the back country, ill supplied with game, and often wanting
water, or they must trespass upon the territory of another tribe, in a
district perhaps little calculated to support an additional population,
even should they be fortunate enough to escape being forced into one
belonging to an enemy.

Under any circumstances, however, they have but little respite from
inconvenience and want. The white man rapidly spreads himself over the
country, and without the power of retiring any further, they are
overtaken, and beset by all the evils from which they had previously

Such are some of the blessings held out to the savage by civilization,
and they are only some of them. The picture is neither fanciful nor
overdrawn; there is no trait in it that I have not personally witnessed,
or that might not have been enlarged upon; and there are often other
circumstances of greater injury and aggression, which, if dwelt upon,
would have cast a still darker shade upon the prospects and condition of
the native.

Enough has, however, perhaps been said to indicate the degree of injury
our presence unavoidably inflicts. I would hope, also, to point out the
justice, as well as the expediency of appropriating a considerable
portion of the money obtained, by the sales of land, towards alleviating
the miseries our occupation of their country has occasioned to the
original owners.

[Note 44a: "That it appears to memorialists that the original occupants of
the soil have an irresistible claim on the Government of this country for
support, inasmuch as the presence of the colonists abridges their means
of subsistence, whilst it furnishes to the public treasury a large
revenue in the shape of fees for licences and assessments on stock,
together with the very large sums paid for land seized by the Crown, and
alienated to private individuals.

"That it appears to memorialists that the interests at once of the
natives and the colonists would be most effectually promoted by the
government reserving suitable portions of land within the territorial
limits of the respective tribes, with the view of weaning them
from their erratic habits, forming thereon depots for supplying
them with provisions and clothing, under the charge of individuals
of exemplary moral character, taking at the same time an interest
in their welfare, and who would endeavour to instruct them in agricultural
and other useful arts."--Extract from Memorial of the Settlers of
the County of Grant, in the district of Port Phillip, to His Excellency
Sir G. Gipps, in 1840.]

Surely if we acknowledge the first principles of justice, or if we admit
the slightest claims of humanity on behalf of these debased, but harshly
treated people, we are bound, in honour and in equity, to afford them
that subsistence which we have deprived them of the power of providing
for themselves.

It may, perhaps, be replied, and at first it might seem, with some
appearance of speciousness, that all is done that can be done for them,
that each of the Colonial Governments annually devotes a portion of its
revenue to the improvement, instruction, and maintenance of the natives.
So far this is very praiseworthy, but does it in any degree compensate
for the evil inflicted?

The money usually voted by the councils of Government, towards defraying
expenses incurred on behalf of the Aborigines of Australia, is but a very
small per centage upon the sums that have been received for the sales of
lands, and is principally expended in defraying the salaries of
protectors, in supporting schools, providing food or clothing for one or
two head stations, and perhaps supplying a few blankets once in the year
to some of the outstations. Little is expended in the daily provisioning
of the natives generally, and especially in the more distant country
districts least populated by Europeans, but most densely occupied by
natives, and where the very thinness of the European inhabitants
precludes the Aborigines from resorting to the same sources to supply
their wants, that are open to them in a town, or more thickly inhabited
district. Such are those afforded by the charity of individuals, by the
rewards received for performing trifling services of work, by the
obtaining vast quantities of offal, or of broken victuals, which are
always abundant in a country where animal food is used in excess, and
where the heat of the climate daily renders much of it unfit for
consumption in the family, and by others of a similar nature.

Such resources, however humiliating and pernicious they are in their
effects, are not open to the tribes living in a district almost
exclusively occupied by the sheep or cattle of the settler, and where the
very numbers of the stock only more completely drive away the original
game upon which the native had been accustomed to subsist, and hold out a
greater temptation to him to supply his wants from the superabundance
which he sees around him, belonging to those by whom he has been
dispossessed. The following appropriate remarks are an extract from
Report of Aborigines' Protection Society, of March, 1841, (published in
the South Australian Register, 4th December, 1841.)

"Under that system it is obvious to every coloured man, even the least
intelligent, that the extending settlements of the Europeans involve a
sentence of banishment, and eventual extermination, upon his tribe and
race. Major Mitchell, in his travels, refers to this apprehension on the
part of the Aborigines--"White man come, Kangaroo go away"--from which as
an inevitable consequence follows--"black man famished away." If, then,
this appears a necessary result of the unjust, barbarous, unchristian
mode of colonization pursued in New Holland, over-looking the other
incidental, and more pointedly aggravating provocations, to the coloured
man, associated with that system, how natural, in his case, is an enmity
which occasionally visits some of the usurping race with death! We call
the offence in him MURDER; but let the occasion be only examined, and we
must discover that, in so designating it, we are imposing geographical,
or national restrictions, upon the virtue of patriotism; or that in the
mani-festations of that principle, we make no allowances for the
influence on its features of the relative degradation or elevation of
those among whom it is met.

"Our present colonization system renders the native and the colonizing
races from necessity belligerents; and there can be no real peace, no
real amity, no mutual security, so long as that system is not substituted
by one reconciling the interest of both races. Colonists will fall before
the spears and the waddies of incensed Aborigines, and they in return
will be made the victims of 'summary justice.'

"In cases of executive difficulty, the force of popular prejudice will be
apt to be too strong for the best intentioned Governor to withstand it;
Europeans will have sustained injury; the strict forms of legal justice
may be found of difficult application to a race outcast or degraded,
although ORIGINALLY in a condition fitted to appreciate them, to benefit
by them, and reflect their benefits upon others; impatient at this
difficulty, the delay it may occasion, and the shelter from ultimate
punishment, the temptation will ever be strong to revert to summary
methods of proceeding; and thus, as in a circle, injustice will be found
to flow reciprocal injury, and from injury injustice again, in another
form. The source of all these evils, and of all this injustice, is the
unreserved appropriation of native lands, and the denial, in the first
instance of colonization, of equal civil rights. To the removal of those
evils, so far as they can be removed in the older settlements, to their
prevention in new colonies, the friends of the Aborigines are invoked to
direct their energy; to be pacified with the attainment of nothing less;
for nothing less will really suffice."

Can it be deemed surprising that a rude, uncivilized being, driven from
his home, deprived of all his ordinary means of subsistence [Note 45 at
end of para.], and pressed perhaps by a hostile tribe from behind, should
occasionally be guilty of aggressions or injuries towards his oppressors?
The wonder rather is, not that these things do sometimes occur, but that
they occur so rarely.

[Note 45: "If you can still be generous to the conquered, relieve the
hunger which drives us in despair to slaughter your flocks and the men who
guard them. Our fields and forests, which once furnished us with abundance
of vegetable and animal food, now yield us no more; they and their produce
are yours; you prosper on our native soil, and we are famishing."
--STRZELECKI'S N. S. WALES, p. 356.]

In addition to the many other inconsistencies in our conduct towards the
Aborigines, not the least extraordinary is that of placing them, on the
plea of protection, under the influence of our laws, and of making them
British subjects. Strange anomaly, which by the former makes amenable to
penalties they are ignorant of, for crimes which they do not consider as
such, or which they may even have been driven to commit by our own
injustice; and by the latter but mocks them with an empty sound, since
the very laws under which we profess to place them, by their nature and
construction are inoperative in affording redress to the injured.

[Note 46: "To subject savage tribes to the penalties of laws with which
they are unacquainted, for offences which they, very possibly, regard as
acts of justifiable retaliation for invaded rights, is a proceeding
indefensible, except under circumstances of urgent and extreme
necessity."--Fourth Report of the Colonization Commissioners, presented to
the House of Commons, 29th July, 1840.

"The late act, declaring them naturalized as British subjects, has only
rendered them legally amenable to the English criminal law, and added one
more anomaly to all the other enactments affecting them. This
naturalization excludes them from sitting on a jury, or appearing as
witnesses, and entails a most confused form of judicial proceedings; all
which, taken together, has made of the Aborigines of Australia a
nondescript caste, who, to use their own phraseology, are 'neither black
nor white.'"--Strzelecki's N. S. Wales.]

If, in addition to the many evils and disadvantages the natives must
necessarily be subject to from our presence, we take still further into
account the wrongs they are exposed to from the ill feeling towards them
which has sometimes existed among the settlers, or their servants, on the
outskirts of the country; the annoyances they are harassed by, even where
this feeling does not exist, in being driven away from their usual haunts
and pursuits (and this is a practice often adopted by the remote grazier
as a mere matter of policy to avoid trouble or the risk of a collision);
we shall find upon the whole that they have often just causes of offence,
and that there are many circumstances connected with their crimes which,
from the peculiar position they are placed in, may well require from us
some mitigation of the punishment that would be exacted from Europeans
for the same misdeeds.

Captain Grey has already remarked the strong prejudice and recklessness
of human life which frequently exist on the part of the settlers with
regard to the natives. Nor has this feeling been confined to Western
Australia alone. In all the colonies, that I have been in, I have myself
observed that a harsh and unjust tone has occasionally been adopted in
speaking of the Aborigines; and that where a feeling of prejudice does
not exist against them, there is too often a great indifference
manifested as to their fate. I do not wish it to be understood that such
is always the case; on the contrary, I know that the better, and right
thinking part of the community, in all the colonies, not only disavow
such feelings, but are most anxious, as far as lies in their power, to
promote the interests and welfare of the natives. Still, there are always
some, in every settlement, whose passions, prejudices, interests, or
fears, obliterate their sense of right and wrong, and by whom these poor
wanderers of the woods are looked upon as intruders in their own country,
or as vermin that infest the land, and whose blood may be shed with as
little compunction as that of the wild animals they are compared to.

By those who have heard the dreadful accounts current in Western
Australia, and New South Wales, of the slaughter formerly committed by
military parties, or by the servants [Note 47 at end of para.] of the
settlers upon the Aborigines, in which it is stated that men, women, and
children have been surprised, surrounded and shot down indiscriminately,
at their camps at night; or who have heard such deeds, or other similar
ones, justified or boasted of, it will readily be believed to what an
extent the feeling I have alluded to has occasionally been carried, and
to what excesses it has led. [Note 48 appears after Note 47, below]

[Note 47: The following extract from a reply of his Honour the
Superintendent of Port Phillip to the representation made to his Honour
by the settlers and inhabitants of the district of Port Fairy, in
March 1842, shews that these frightful atrocities against the natives
had not even then ceased.

"That the presence of a protector in your district, and other means of
prevention hitherto employed, have not succeeded better than they have
done in repressing aggression or retaliation, and have failed to establish
a good understanding between the natives and the European settlers,
is greatly to be deplored.

"As far as the local government has power, every practicable extension
of these arrangements shall be made without delay; but, gentlemen,
however harsh, a plain truth must be told, the destruction of
European property, and even the occasional sacrifice of European
life, by the hands of the savage tribes, among whom you live, if
unprovoked and unrevenged, may justly claim sympathy and pity; but the
feeling of abhorrence which one act of savage retaliation or cruelty on
your part will rouse, must weaken, if not altogether obliterate every
other, in the minds of most men; and I regret to state, that I have
before me a statement presented in a form which I dare not discredit,
shewing that such acts are perpetrated among you.

"It reveals a nightly attack upon a small number of natives, by a
party of the white inhabitants of your district, and the murder of
no fewer than three defenceless aboriginal women and a child, in
their sleeping place; and this at the very time your memorial was
in the act of signature, and in the immediate vicinity of the station
of two of the parties who have signed it. Will not the commission of
such crimes call down the wrath of God, and do more to check the
prosperity of your district, and to ruin your prospects, than all
the difficulties and losses under which you labour?" Mr. Sievewright's
letter gives an account of this infamous transaction.


"Sir,--I have the honour to report that on the afternoon
of the 24th instant, two aboriginal natives, named Pwe-bin-gan-nai,
Calangamite, returned to this encampment, which they had left with their
families on the 22nd, and reported 'that late on the previous evening,
while they with their wives, two other females, and two children, were
asleep at a tea-tree scrub, called One-one-derang, a party of eight white
people on horseback surrounded them, dismounted, and fired upon them with
pistols; that three women and a child had been thus killed, and the other
female so severely wounded as to be unable to stand or be removed by
them;' they had saved themselves and the child, named 'Uni bicqui-ang,'
by flight, who was brought to this place upon their shoulders.

"At daybreak yesterday I proceeded to the spot indicated, and there found
the dead bodies of three women, and a male child about three years of age;
and also found a fourth woman dangerously wounded by gunshot wounds, and
severely scorched on the limbs by the discharge of fire-arms.

"Having proceeded to the station of the Messrs. Osbrey and Smith, distant
about 700 yards from where the bodies were found, and requested the
presence of those gentlemen as witnesses, I proceeded to view the bodies,
upon which were found the wounds as set forth in the accompanying report.

"All knowledge of this barbarous transaction is denied by the proprietors,
overseer, and servants at the home station, so near to which the bodies
were found, nor have I as yet obtained any information which may lead to
the discovery of the perpetrators of these murders.

"I have, etc.
(Signed) "C. W. SIEVEWRIGHT."
James Croke, Esq.,
Crown Prosecutor,"
etc. etc. etc.

Description of Gun-shot Wounds upon the bodies of three Aboriginal Women
and One Male Child found dead, and an Aboriginal Woman found wounded in a
tea-tree scrub, near the Station of Messrs. Osbrey and Smith, Portland
District, upon the 25th of February, 1842, by Assistant-Protector

"No. 1. Recognised by the assistant-protector as
'Wooi-goning,' wife of an Aboriginal native 'Pui-bui-gannei;' one gun-shot
wound through the chest (a ball), and right thigh broken by a gun-shot
wound (a ball).

"No. 2. Child (male); one gun-shot wound through the chest (a bullet),
left thigh lacerated by some animal.

"No. 3. Woman big with child; one gun-shot wound through the chest
(a bullet), left side scorched.

"No. 4. Woman; gun-shot wound through abdomen (a bullet), by right hip;
gun-shot wound, left arm broken, (a bullet.)

"No. 5. Woman wounded; gun-shot wound in back (a ball), gun-shot through
right hand (a ball).


[Note 48: The belief on the part of the Home authorities that such deeds
did occur, and their opinion, so many years ago, regarding them, may be
gathered from the following extract from a despatch from Lord Glenelg to
Governor Sir James Stirling, dated 23rd of July, 1835. "I perceive, with
deep concern, that collisions still exist between the colonists and the

"It is impossible, however, to regard such conflicts without
regret and anxiety, when we recollect how fatal, in too many instances,
our colonial settlements have proved to the natives of the places where
they have been formed.

"It will be your duty to impress upon the settlers that it is the
determination of the Government to visit any act of injustice or
violence on the natives, with the utmost severity, and that in no
case will those convicted of them, remain unpunished. Nor will it
be sufficient simply to punish the guilty, but ample compensation must be
made to the injured party, for the wrong received. You will make it
imperative upon the officers of police never to allow any injustice or
insult in regard to the natives to pass by unnoticed, as being of too
trifling a character; and they should be charged to report to you, with
punctuality, every instance of aggression or misconduct. Every neglect of
this point of duty you will mark with the highest displeasure."

Such were the benevolent views entertained by the Government in England
towards the Aborigines ten years ago, and it might be readily proved from
many despatches of subsequent Secretaries of State to the different
Governors, that such have been their feelings since, and yet how little
has been done in ten years to give a practical effect to their good
intentions towards the natives.]

Were other evidence necessary to substantiate this point, it would be
only requisite to refer to the tone in which the natives are so often
spoken of by the Colonial newspapers, to the fact that a large number of
colonists in New South Wales, including many wealthy landed proprietors
and magistrates, petitioned the Local Government on behalf of a party of
convicts, found guilty on the clearest testimony of having committed one
of the most wholesale, cold-blooded, and atrocious butcheries of the
Aborigines ever recorded [Note 49 at end of para.], and to the acts of the
Colonial Governments themselves, who have found it necessary, sometimes,
to prohibit fire-arms at out-stations, and have been compelled to take
away the assigned servants, or withdraw the depasturing licences of
individuals, because they have been guilty of aggression upon the

[Note 49: Seven men were hanged for this offence, on the 18th of December,
1838. In the Sydney Monitor, published on the 24th or next issue after the
occurrence, is the following paragraph:--

"The following conversation between two gentlemen took place in the
military barrack square, on Tuesday, just after the execution of the seven
murderers of the native blacks, and while General O'Connell was reviewing
the troops of the garrison.

"COUNTRY GENTLEMAN.--So I find they have hanged these men.
"TOWN GENTLEMAN.   --They have."
"COUNTRY GENTLEMAN.--Ah! hem, we are going on a safer game now.
"TOWN GENTLEMAN.   --Safer game! how do you mean?"
"COUNTRY GENTLEMAN.--Why, we are poisoning the blacks; which is much
                     better, and serve them right too!"

"We vouch for the truth of this conversation, and for the very words;
and will prove our statement, if public justice should, in our
opinion require it."

The following letter from His Honour the Superintendent of Port Philip
shews, that even in 1843, suspicions were entertained in the colony,
that this most horrible and inhuman cruelty towards the Aborigines had
lately been practised there.

"Melbourne, 17th March, 1843.

"SIR,--I have the honour to report, for his Excellency's information,
that in the month of December last, I received a letter from the Chief
Protector, enclosing a communication received from Dr. Wotton, the
gentleman in charge of the Aboriginal station at Mount Rouse, stating that
a rumour had reached him that a considerable number of Aborigines had
been poisoned at the station of Dr. Kilgour, near Port Fairy.

"I delayed communicating this circumstance at the time, as I expected
the Chief Protector and his assistants would find it practicable to
bring the crime home to the parties accused of having perpetrated it;
but I regret to state, that every attempt to discover the guilty
parties has hitherto proved ineffectual, and that although there
may be strong grounds of suspicion that such a deed had been perpetrated,
and that certain known parties in this district were the perpetrators,
yet it seems nearly impossible to obtain any legal proof to bear on
either one point or the other.

"I beg leave to enclose copies of two communications which I have received
from Mr. Robinson on the subject.

"I have, etc.
"The Honourable the Colonial Secretary,
etc. etc. etc."

Rumours of another similar occurrence existed in the settlements
north of Sydney, about the same time. To the inquiries made on the
subject, by the Government, the following letters refer.

"Moreton Bay, Zion's Hill, 14th January 1843.

"Sir,--In reply to your inquiry respecting the grounds on which I made
mention in my journal, kept during a visit to the Bunga Bunga country,
of a considerable number of blacks having been poisoned in the
northern part of this district, I beg leave to state, that having
returned from Sydney in the month of March 1842, I learnt, first,
by my coadjutor, the Rev. Mr. Epper, that such a rumour was spreading,
of which I have good reason to believe also his Excellency the Governor
was informed during his stay at Moreton Bay. I learnt, secondly,
by the lay missionaries, Messrs. Nique and Rode, who returned
from an excursion to "Umpie-boang" in the first week of April, that
natives of different tribes, who were collecting from the north for a
fight, had related the same thing to them as a fact. Messrs. Nique and
Rode have made this statement also in their diary, which is laid before
our committee in Sydney. I learnt, thirdly, by the runaway Davis, when
collecting words and phrases of the northern dialect from him, previous
to my expedition to the Bunga Bunga country, that there was not the least
doubt but such a deed had been done, and moreover that the relatives of
the poisoned blacks, being in great fury, were going to revenge
themselves. Davis considered it, therefore, exceedingly dangerous for us
to proceed to the north, mentioning at the same time, that two white men
had already been killed by blacks in consequence of poisoning. I
ascertained likewise from him the number, 50 or 60.

"When inquiring of him whether he had not reported this fact to
yourself, he replied, that both he, himself, and Bracewell, the
other runaway, whom Mr. Petrie had brought back from the Wide Bay,
had done so, and that you had stated it fully in your report to his
Excellency the Governor, respecting himself and Bracewell.

"4. The natives who had carried our provisions up to Mr. Archer's station,
made the same statement to us, as a reason why they would not accompany
us any farther to the Bunga Bunga country.

"When writing down, therefore, my journal, I considered it unnecessary to
make a full statement of all that had come to my knowledge since the month
of March, concerning that most horrid event, or even to relate it as
something new, as it was not only known several months since to the
respective authorities, but also as almost every one at Moreton Bay
supposed that an investigation would take place without delay.

"I have, etc.
"Missionary.""S. Simpson, Esq.,
"Commissioner of Crown Lands,
"Eagle Farm."


"Sir,--I have the honour to report, for the information of his Excellency,
that during my excursion to the Bunga country, I have taken every
opportunity of instituting an inquiry as to the truth of the alleged
poisoning of some Aborigines at a sheep station in the north of this
district. A report of the kind certainly exists among the two tribes I
fell in with, namely, the Dallambarah and Coccombraral tribes, but as
neither of them were present at the time, they could give me no
circumstantial information whatever on the subject. The Giggabarah
tribe, the one said to have suffered, I was unable to meet with.
Upon inquiry at the stations to the north, I could learn nothing
further than that they had been using arsenic very extensively for
the cure of the scab, in which operation sheep are occasionally
destroyed by some of the fluid getting down their throats; and as the
men employed frequently neglect to bury the carcases, it is very possible
that the Aborigines may have devoured them, particularly the entrails,
which they are very fond of, and that hence some accident of the kind
alluded to may have occurred without their knowledge.

"I have, etc.
"(signed) S. SIMPSON,
"Commissioner of Crown Lands."

"The Honourable E. D. Thomson,
"Colonial Secretary."

For the sake of humanity I would hope that such unheard of atrocities
cannot really have existed. That the bare suspicion even of such crimes
should have originated and gained currency in more than one district
of Australia, is of itself a fearful indication of the feeling
among the lowest classes in the colonies, and of the harrowing
deeds to which that might lead.

Extract from South Australian Registe, 10th of July, 1841, after the
return of Major O'Halloran and a party of sixty-eight individuals, sent
up the Murray to try and rescue property stolen by blacks. "In the mean
time we cannot but think that the DISAPPOINTMENT SO GENERALLY
EXPRESSED, because Major O'Halloran has returned 'WITHOUT FIRING A SHOT,'
is somewhat unreasonable, seeing that in his presence the natives DID
NOTHING TO WARRANT AN EXTREME MEASURE, and that there were no means of
identifying either the robbers of Mr. Inman, or the murderers of Mr.
Langhorne's servants. It is quite clear that a legally authorised English
force could not be permitted to fire indiscriminately upon the natives AS
SOME PERSONS THINK they ought to have done, or to fire at all, save when
attacked, or under circumstances in which any white subject of the Queen
might be shot at. We KNOW that many overland parties HAVE NOT HESITATED
the tribes now hostilely disposed may have received some provocation."]

The following extract from a letter addressed by the Chief Protector of
the Port Phillip district, Mr. Robinson, to his Honour the Superintendent
at Melbourne, shews that officer's opinion of the feeling of the lower
class of the settlers' servants, with regard to the Aborigines in
Australia Felix.

"Anterior to my last expedition I had seen a large portion of this
province; I have now seen nearly the entire, and, in addition, have made
myself thoroughly acquainted with the character of its inhabitants.

"The settlers are, for the most part, a highly respectable body of men,
many, to my knowledge, deeply commiserating the condition of the natives;
a few have been engaged in the work of their amelioration; these,
however, are but isolated instances; the majority are averse to having
the natives, and drive them from their runs.

"Nothing could afford me greater pleasure than to see a reciprocity of
interest established between the settler and aborigine, and it would
delight me to see the settlers engaged in the great work of their
amelioration; and though on the part of the settlers, a large majority
would readily engage, I nevertheless feel persuaded that, until a better
class of peasantry be introduced, and a code of judicature suited to the
condition of the natives, its practicability, as a general principle, is

"In the course of my wanderings through the distant interior, I found it
necessary, in order to arrive at a correct judgment, to observe the
relative character of both classes, i. e. the European and the Aborigine.
The difficulty on the part of the Aborigine by proper management can be
overcome; but the difficulty on the part of the depraved white man is of
far different character, and such as to require that either their place
should be supplied by a more honest and industrious peasantry, or that a
more suitable code of judicature be established, to restrain their
nefarious proceedings with reference to the aboriginal natives.

"I found, on my last expedition, that a large majority of the white
servants employed at the stock stations in the distant interior were, for
the most part, men of depraved character; and it was with deep regret
that I observed that they were all armed; and in the estimation of some
of these characters, with whom I conversed, I found that the life of a
native was considered to be of no more value than that of a wild dog. The
settlers complained generally of the bad character of their men. The
saying is common among them, 'That the men and not we are the masters.'
The kind of treatment evinced towards the aboriginal natives in remote
parts of the interior by this class of persons, may be easily imagined;
but as I shall have occasion more fully to advert to this topic in the
report I am about to transmit to the Government, I shall defer for the
present offering further observations.

"The bad character of the white servants is a reason assigned by many
settlers for keeping the natives from their stations. At a few
establishments, viz. Norman M'Leod's, Baillie's, Campbell's, Lenton's,
and Urquhart's, an amicable and friendly relation has been maintained for
several years; the Aborigines are employed and found useful. I visited
these stations; and the proprietors assured me the natives had never done
them any injury; the natives also spoke in high terms of these parties.
There are other settlers also who have rendered assistance in improving
the condition of the natives, and to whom I shall advert in my next

"Whether the proprietors of these establishments devote more attention,
or whether their white servants are of less nefarious character than
others, I am not prepared to say; but the facts I have stated are
incontrovertible, and are sufficient to shew the reclaimability of the
natives, when proper persons are engaged, and suitable means had recourse
to. I cannot but accede to the proposition, namely, that of holding out
inducements to all who engage in the amelioration of the aboriginal
natives. Those who have had experience, who have been tried and found
useful, ought to have such inducements held out to them as would ensure a
continuance of their appointments, the more especially as it has always
been found difficult to obtain suitable persons for this hazardous and
peculiar service."

The following extract from another letter, also addressed to his Honour
the Superintendent, shews the opinions and feelings of the writer, a
Magistrate of the Colony, and a Commissioner of Crown Lands, in the
Geelong district.

"In offering my candid opinion, I submissively beg leave to state, that
for the last three years, on all occasions, I have been a friend to the
natives; but from my general knowledge of their habits of idleness,
extreme cunning, vice, and villany, that it is out of the power of all
exertion that can be bestowed on them to do good by them; and I further
beg leave to state, that I can plainly see the general conduct of the
native growing worse, and, if possible, more useless, and daily more
daring. One and all appear to consider that no punishment awaits them.
This idea has latterly been instilled into their minds with, I should
think, considerable pains, and also that the white men should be punished
for the least offence.

"In reply to the latter part of your letter, I beg leave to bring to your
notice that, at considerable risk, two years ago, I apprehended a native
for the murder of one of Mr. Learmonth's men, near Bunengang. He was
committed to Sydney gaol, and at the expiration of a year he was returned
to Melbourne to be liberated, and is now at large. In the case of Mr.
Thomson's, that I apprehended two, and both identified by the men who so
fortunately escaped. It is a difficult thing to apprehend natives, and
with great risk of life on both sides. On the Grange, and many parts of
the country, it would be impossible to take them; AND IN MY OPINION, the
only plan to bring them to a fit and proper state is to insist on the
gentlemen in the country to protect their property, AND TO DEAL WITH SUCH

Captain Grey bears testimony to similar feelings and occurrences in
Western Australia. In speaking of capturing some natives, he says, vol.
2. p. 351. "It was necessary that I should proceed with great caution, in
order not to alarm the guilty parties when they saw us approaching, in
which case, I should have had no chance of apprehending them, and I did
not intend to adopt the popular system of shooting them when they ran
away." And again, at page 356, he says, "It was better that I, an
impartial person, should see that they were properly punished for theft,
than that the Europeans should fire indiscriminately upon them, as had
lately been done, in another quarter."

Even in South Australia, where the Colonists have generally been more
concentrated, and where it might naturally be supposed there would be
less likelihood of offenders of this kind escaping detection and
punishment, there are not wanting instances of unnecessary and
unprovoked, and sometimes of wanton injury upon the natives. In almost
all cases of this description, it is quite impracticable from the
inadmissibility of native evidence, or from some other circumstances, to
bring home conviction to the guilty. [Note 50 at end of para.] On the
other hand, where natives commit offences against Europeans, if they can
be caught, the punishment is certain and severe. Already since the
establishment of South Australia as a colony, six natives have been tried
and hung, for crimes against Europeans, and many others have been shot or
wounded, by the police and military in their attempts to capture or
prevent their escape. No European has, however, yet paid the penalties of
the law, for aggressions upon the Aborigines, though many have deserved
to do so. The difficulty consists in legally bringing home the offence,
or in refuting the absurd stories that are generally made up in
justification of it.

[Note 50: Vide Chapter 9, of Notes on the Aborigines.]

A single instance or two will be sufficient, in illustration of the
impunity which generally attends these acts of violence. On the 25th
January, 1843, the sheep at a station of Mr. Hughes, upon the Hutt river,
had been scattered during the night, and some of them were missing. It
was concluded the natives had been there, and taken them, as the tracks
of naked feet were said to have been found near the folds. Upon these
grounds two of Mr. Hughes' men, and one belonging to Mr. Jacobs, another
settler in the neighbourhood, took arms, and went out to search for the
natives. About a mile from the station they met with one native and his
wife, whom they asked to accompany them back to the station, promising
bread and flour for so doing. They consented to go, but were then
escorted AS PRISONERS, the two men of Mr. Hughes' guarding the male
native, and Mr. Jacobs' servant (a person named Gregory) the female.
Naturally alarmed at the predicament they were in, the man ran off,
pursued by his two guards, but escaped. The woman took another direction,
pursued by Gregory, who recaptured her, and she was said to have then
seized Gregory's gun, and to have struck at him several blows with a
heavy stick, upon which, being afraid that he would be overcome, HE SHOT
HER. Mr. Hughes, the owner of the lost sheep, came up a few moments after
the woman was shot, and heard Gregory's story concerning it, but no marks
of his receiving any blows were shewn. On the 23rd of March, he was tried
for the offence of manslaughter; there did not appear the slightest
extenuating circumstances beyond his own story, and his master giving him
a good character, and yet the jury, without retiring, returned a verdict
of Not Guilty!

At the very next sittings of the Supreme Court Criminal Sessions, another
and somewhat analogous case appeared. The following remarks were made by
His Honour Judge Cooper, to the Grand Jury respecting it: "There was also
a case of manslaughter to be tried, and he called their attention to
this, because it did not appear in the Calendar. The person charged was
named Skelton, and as appeared from the depositions, was in custody of
some sheep, when an alarm of the rushing of the sheep being given, he
looked and saw something climbing over the fence, and subsequently
something crawling along the ground, upon which he fired off his piece,
and hit the object, which upon examination turned out to be a native. The
night was dark, and the native was brought into the hut, where he died
the next day. He could not help observing, that cases of this kind were
much more frequent than was creditable to the reputation of the Colony.
Last Sessions a man was tried and acquitted of the charge of killing a
native woman. That verdict was a very merciful one, but not so merciful,
he trusted, as to countenance the idea that the lives of the natives are
held too cheaply. The only observation that he would make upon this case
was, that it was ONE OF GREAT SUSPICION."

[Note 51: I believe this case was not brought to trial.]

Other cases have occurred in which some of the circumstances have come
under my own notice, and when Europeans have committed wanton aggressions
on the Aborigines, and have then made up a plausible story to account for
what had taken place, but where, from obvious circumstances, it was quite
impossible to disprove or rebut their tale, however improbable it might
be. In the Port Phillip District in 1841, Mr. Chief Protector thus writes
to the local Government.

"Already appalling collisions have happened between the white and
aboriginal inhabitants, and, although instances, it is possible, have
transpired when natives have been the aggressors, yet it will be found
that the largest majority originated with the Europeans. The lives of
aboriginal natives known to have been destroyed are many, and if the
testimony of natives be admissible, the amount would be great indeed; but
even in cases where the Aborigines are said to be the aggressors, who can
tell what latent provocation existed for perpetrating it? Of the numerous
cases that could be cited, the following from a recent journal of an
assistant protector, Mr. Parker, of the Lodden, will suffice to shew the
insurmountable difficulty, I may add the impossibility, of bringing the
guilty parties to justice, for in nine cases, I may say, out of ten,
where natives are concerned, the only evidence that can be adduced is
that of the Aborigines.

"This evidence is not admissible. Indeed the want of a code, suited to
the Aborigines, is now so strongly felt, and of such vital importance to
the welfare and existence of the natives, that I earnestly trust that
this important subject may be brought under the early consideration and
notice of Her Majesty's Government.

"The following is the extract from Mr. Parker's journal referred to: 'On
the 8th of March 1841, I proceeded to the Pyrenees to investigate the
circumstances connected with the slaughter of several Aborigines, by a
Mr. Frances. On the 9th and 10th I fell in with different parties of
natives. From the last of these I obtained some distressing statements,
as to the slaughter of the blacks; they gave me the names of seven
individuals shot by Mr. Frances within the last six months. I found,
however, no legal evidence attainable. The only persons present in the
last and most serious affair with the Aborigines, which took place in
December of last year, were Frances, a person named Downes, and a
stock-keeper in Melbourne. No other admissible evidence of the death of
these poor people can be obtained than what Frances's written statement
conveys. In that he reports that he and the person before named WENT OUT
slain, and their information on that point is more to be depended on.
Owing to the legal disabilities of the Aborigines, this case must be
added with many others which have passed without judicial notice. I
cannot, however, but wish that squatting licenses were withheld from
persons who manifest such an utter disregard of human life as Mr.
Frances, even on his own shewing, has done.'

"And in this latter sentiment, under existing circumstances, I most
cordially agree. In Frances' case, the PERPETRATOR ADMITS his having SHOT
FOUR ABORIGINES, and for aught that is shewn to the contrary, it was AN
UNPROVOKED AGGRESSION. The natives, whose testimony Mr. Parker states,
can be relied upon, affirm that six were slain, and these within the
brief period of six months.

"In my last expedition I visited the country of the 'Barconedeets,' the
tribe attacked by Frances; of these I found a few sojourning with the
"Portbullucs,' a people inhabiting the country near Mount Zero, the
northernmost point of the Grampians. These persons complained greatly of
the treatment they had received, and confirmed the statement made to the
sub-protector by the other natives. The following are a few of the
collisions, from authentic documents brought under the notice of this
department, that have happened between settlers and Aborigines, and are
respectfully submitted for the information of the Government.

"CASES.--CHARLES WEDGE AND OTHERS.--Five natives killed and others
wounded at the Grampians.

"AYLWARD AND OTHERS.--Several natives killed and others wounded at the
Grampians. In this case Aylward deposed, 'that there must have been a
great many wounded and several killed, as he saw blood upon the grass,
and in the tea-tree two or three dead bodies.'

"MESSRS. WHYTE'S FIRST COLLISION.--William Whyte deposed that 30 natives
were present, and they were all killed but two, and one of these it is
reported died an hour after of his wounds.

"DARLOT.--One native shot. Two natives shot near Portland Bay by the
servants of the Messrs. Henty.

"HUTTON AND MOUNTED POLICE.--The written report of this case states,
'that the party overtook the aborigines at the junction of the
'Campaspee;' they fired, and it is stated, that to the best of the belief
of the party, five or six were killed.' In the opinion of the
sub-protector a greater number were slain.

"MESSRS. WINTER AND OTHERS.--On this occasion five natives were killed.

"One black shot by Frances.

"MUNROE AND POLICE.--Two blacks shot and others wounded.

"The following from Lloyd's deposition:--'We fired on them; I have no
doubt some were killed; there were between forty and fifty natives.'

"BY PERSONS UNKNOWN.--A native of the Coligan tribe killed by white

"MESSRS. WEDGE AND OTHERS.--Three natives killed and others wounded.

"Names of Taylor and Lloyd are mentioned as having shot a black at Lake


"Taylor was overseer of a sheep station in the Western district, and was
notorious for killing natives. No legal evidence could be obtained
against this nefarious individual. The last transaction in which he was
concerned, was of so atrocious a nature, that he thought fit to abscond,
and he has not been heard of since. No legal evidence was attainable in
this latter case. There is no doubt the charges preferred were true, for
in the course of my inquiries on my late expedition, I found a tribe, a
section of the Jarcoorts, totally extinct, and it was affirmed by the
natives that Taylor had destroyed them. The tribes are rapidly
diminishing. The 'Coligans,' once a numerous and powerful people,
inhabiting the fertile region of Lake 'Colac,' are now reduced, all ages
and sexes, under forty, and these are still on the decay. The Jarcoorts,
inhabiting the country to the west of the great lake 'Carangermite,' once
a very numerous and powerful people, are now reduced to under sixty. But
time would fail, and I fear it would be deemed too prolix, were I to
attempt to particularise in ever so small a degree, the previous state,
condition, and declension of the original inhabitants of so extensive a

Upon the same subject, His Honour the Superintendent of Port Phillip thus

"On this subject, I beg leave to remark that great impediments evidently
do interpose themselves in the way of instituting proper judicial inquiry
into the causes and consequences of the frequent acts of collision
between the settlers and the aboriginal natives, and into the conduct of
the settlers on such occasions. I am quite ready to lament with the
Protectors, that numerous as the cases have unfortunately been in which
the lives of the Aborigines have been taken in this district, IN NO

Many similar instances might be adduced to shew the little chance there
is of evidence enough being procurable, even to cause the aggressor to be
put upon his trial, still less to produce his conviction.

Independently of the instances of wanton outrage, which sometimes are
perpetrated on the outskirts of the settled districts by the lowest and
most abandoned of our countrymen, there are occasions also, when equal
injuries are inflicted unintentionally, from inexperience or
indiscretion, on the part of those whose duty it is to protect rather
than destroy, when the innocent have been punished instead of the
guilty [Note 52 at end of para.], and thus the very efforts made to
preserve peace and good order, have inadvertently become the means of
subverting them.

[Note 52: Upon collisions of this character, Lord John Russell remarks in
his despatch, 21st December, 1839, to Sir G. Gipps: "In the case now
before me the object of capturing offenders was entirely lost sight of,
and shots were fired at men who were apparently only guilty of jumping
into the water to escape from an armed pursuit. I am, however, happy to
acknowledge that you appear to have made every practicable exertion for
the prevention of similar calamities in future, and I approve the
measures adopted by you for that purpose. You cannot overrate the
solicitude of Her Majesty's Government on the subject of the Aborigines
of New Holland. It is impossible to contemplate the condition and the
prospects of that unfortunate race without the deepest commiseration. I
am well aware of the many difficulties which oppose themselves to the
effectual protection of these people, and especially of those which must
originate from the exasperation of the settlers, on account of
aggressions on their property, which are not the less irritating, because
they are nothing else than the natural results of the pernicious examples
held out to the Aborigines, and of the many wrongs of which they have
been the victims. Still it is impossible that the Government should
forget that the original aggression was our own; and that we have never
yet performed the sacred duty of making any systematic or considerable
attempt to impart to the former occupiers of New South Wales, the
blessings of Christianity, or the knowledge of the arts and advantages of
civilized life."]

Several very lamentable instances of this kind, have occurred in Port
Lincoln. The following is one among others. Soon after the murder of
Messrs. Biddle and Brown, a party of soldiers was sent over to try and
capture the aggressors. In one of their attempts a native guide was
procured from the Eastern tribe, who promised to conduct them to where
the murderers were. The party consisting of the military and their
officer, the police, a settler, and the missionary, in all twelve or
fourteen persons, set off towards Coffin's Bay, following as they
supposed upon the track of the murders. Upon reaching the coast some
natives were seen fishing in the water, and the party was at once spread
out in a kind of semicircle, among the scrub, to close upon and capture
them; the officer, missionary, and guide, being stationed near the
centre. As the party advanced nearer, the guide saw that he was mistaken
in the group before him, and that they were not the guilty parties, but
friends. The officer called out not to fire, but unfortunately from the
distance the men were at, and the scrubby nature of the country, he was
not heard or attended to. A shot was fired, one of the natives sprung up
convulsively in the water, walked on shore and fell down, exclaiming
whilst dying, "me Kopler, me good man," and such indeed it proved. He was
one of a friendly tribe, and a particular protege of the missionary's,
having taken the name of Kopler from his German servant who was so

The other natives at once came forward to their dying friend, scornfully
motioning away his murderers, fearless alike of the foes around them, and
regardless of their ill-timed attempts to explain the fatal mistake. Will
it be credited, that at such a scene as this the soldiers were indulging
in coarse remarks, or brutal jests, upon the melancholy catastrophe; and
comparing the last convulsive spring of the dying man to a salmon leaping
in the water. Yet this I was assured was the case by the Government
Resident at Port Lincoln, from when I received this account.

Another melancholy and unfortunate case of the same nature occurred at
Port Lincoln, on the 11th of April, 1844, where a native was shot by a
policeman, for attempting to escape from custody, when taken in charge on
suspicion of being implicated in robbing a stranded vessel. An
investigation was made into this case by the Commissioner of Police, when
it was stated in the depositions, that attempts at rescue were made by
the other natives. Upon these grounds, I believe, it was considered that
the policeman was justified in what he did.

The following extract relating to this subject, is from a letter
addressed to a gentleman in Adelaide, by the Rev. C. Schurmann, one of
the German Missionaries, who has for some years past been stationed among
the Port Lincoln natives, and is intimately acquainted with their

[Note 53: Without adopting the tone of this letter, and which in some
respects I cannot approve of, I believe the writer to be deeply interested
in the welfare of the Aborigines, and strongly impressed with a conviction
of the evils and injuries to which they are subject from our anomalous
position with regard to them. I have quoted it, therefore, not for the
purpose of casting imputations on the Government, but to shew how
powerless they are, and how frequently, under the existing system in
force with respect to the Aborigines, those very measures which were
conceived and entered upon with the best intentions, produce in their
result the most unmitigated evils.]

"You will probably recollect, that some time ago (I think it was in the
month of May) the Adelaide newspapers contained a short notice of a Port
Lincoln native having been shot by the police in self-defence, and a
letter in the 'Observer,' mentioned another as being shot by Mr.----, but
as the charitable correspondent added, 'Unfortunately only in the arm,
instead of through the body.' From these statements one would infer that
the parties concerned in these transactions were without blame, being
perfectly justified--the one to protect his life, and the other his
property. However, since my return to Port Lincoln, I have learned that
both tales run very differently when told according to truth. I address
myself, therefore, to you, with the true facts of the transactions, as I
have learned them. partly from the settlers themselves, partly from the
natives. My motive for so doing is to case my own mind, and to gratify
the interest which I know you take in the Aborigines of this country.

"The man shot by the police was named Padlalta, and was of so mild and
inoffensive a disposition, that he was generally noticed by the settlers
on that very account, several of whom I have heard say since, it was a
pity that some other native had not been hit in his stead. The same man
was captured last year by Major O'llalloran's party, but was set at
liberty as soon as I came up and testified his innocence, for which the
poor fellow kissed my hand near a dozen times.

"The day before he met his death he was as usual in the town, doing
little jobs for the inhabitants, to get bread or other food. On the
evening when he was killed, he had encamped with about half a dozen other
natives on the northern side of Happy Valley, a short mile from the town.
The police who were sent by the Government Resident to see what number of
natives were at the camp state, that while searching the man's wallet, he
seized hold of one gun, and when the other policeman came up to wrest it
from him, he the native grasped the other gun too. In the scuffle that
ensued, one of the guns went off, when the other natives who had fled
returned and presented their spears. They then shot the native who held
the gun.

"Now this statement is a very strange one, when it is considered that the
native was a very spare and weak man, so that either of the police ought
to have been able to keep him at arm's length; but to say that he seized
both their guns is beyond all credibility. The natives were sitting down
when the police arrived. How they could therefore find a wallet upon the
murdered man, I cannot conceive; since the natives never have their
wallets slung, except when moving; and it certainly is not probable, that
the man, in spite of the fright he is admitted to have been in, should
have thought of taking up his wallet.

"The wallet is said to have contained some sovereigns, taken from the
cutter Kate, which was wrecked some time previous to this affair, about
forty miles up the coast, and to have been one of those marked by the
police, at a native camp near the wreck from which the natives had been
scared away, leaving all their things behind. But if the murdered native
had taken the sovereigns, why were they not then in his wallet, or why
was the wallet not examined the day before when he was in town?
[Note 54 at end of para.] I think that there is little doubt that the
police found no wallet at all upon the native, and that they coined away
one of those found at the camp upon him, with a view to incriminate him."

[Note 54: There cannot be a greater act of injustice towards the natives
than that of applying the English law to them with respect to stolen
property. Any one who knows any thing of their habits, and the custom
prevalent amongst them, of giving any European clothing, or other articles
they may acquire, from one to another, must be fully aware how little the
fact of their being found in possession of stolen property is just
evidence against them. Articles such as I have mentioned, often pass, in a
very short time, through the hands of three or four individuals, and
perhaps even through as many tribes.]

"Another native, Charley, who was present when the said affair took
place, tells me, that the police sneaked upon, and fired at them, while
sitting round the fire; [Note 55 at end of para.] that he jumped up, and
endeavoured to make himself known, as a friendly native, by saying,
"Yarri (that is the name the natives have given to one of the police),
Yarri, I Charley, I Charley,"--but that the effect produced had been the
pointing of a gun at him, when of course he ran away. That any of the
natives returned, and poised their spears, he firmly denies; but accounts
for the murder, by supposing that the dead man made resistance, and
offered to spear his assailants. He moreover says, that Padlalta would not
have died in consequence of the first shot, but that the police fired
repeatedly, which agrees with the settlers, who say they heard three
shots. When the bloody deed had been committed (a ball had passed right
through his body), the cruel perpetrators ran home, leaving the murdered
man helpless."

[Note 55: There must, I think, be some mistake here in the phrascology.
I cannot think any of the police would fire upon a small party of friendly
natives whilst unresisting. The probability is, that they surrounded the
natives to make prisoners, and fired upon being resisted. This must
generally occur if the police have positive orders to make captures.
Natives, not very much in contact with Europeans, will almost always
resist an attempt to make prisoners of them, or will try to escape. Very
many have, at various times, met their death under such circumstances;
and too often it has occurred, that the innocent have been the suffering
parties. This shews the absurdity of applying European customs and laws
to a people situated as the Australian natives are. It shews, too, the
necessity of altering our present system and policy towards them, to one
that will exercise sufficient influence over them to induce them to give
up offenders themselves. I believe such a system may be devised.--Vide
Chapter IX.]

"Some time after, a party of three settlers went to the spot, one of whom
he recognized, and claimed his acquaintance, and perhaps assistance, by
mentioning the party's Christian name; but, alas! no good Samaritan was
found amongst these three; they all passed by on the other side, without
alleviating his pain, moistening his parched lips, warming his shivering
limbs, or aiding him in any way whatever. There he lay a whole cold and
long winter night, without a fire to warm him, or a soul to talk to him.
Next morning he was found still alive, but died on the way into town,
where he was buried in the jail yard, like a condemned felon.

"What awful and melancholy reflections crowd upon one's mind in thinking
on this transaction. But what conclusians must a poor people, whom a
Christian and civilized nation calls savages, arrive at, with such facts
before them.

"The other native, wounded by Mr.--in the arm, was doubtless of the party
who attacked the flock; but it must have been some hours after that he
was shot, for the shepherd had to come home with the flock to inform him
of the occurrence, and then search and pursuit had to be made, during
which he was overtaken. He is a stupid idiotic sort of man, so that the
natives have not deemed him worthy of receiving the honours of their
ceremonies, and still call him a boy, or youth, although he is an oldish

"On another occasion, when an uninhabited hut, with some wheat in it, had
been broken into by some unknown natives, a party went in search of the
offenders. It was night when they came on a camp, on the opposite side of
the lake to where the hut stands; the natives, acting upon the first
impulse, and warned by frequent examples, ran away, when two of the party
snapped their pieces, but providentially both guns missed fire. The
natives, however, soon took confidence, and returned, when it was found
that two of the most orderly and useful men would have been shot if the
guns had gone off. The party took upon themselves to make one of them
prisoner, but of course did not venture to bring him before the

"These facts incontestably prove, that, notwithstanding the Aborigines
are called British subjects, and in spite of the so-called protection
system, there is no shadow of protection for them, while they are
debarred from the first and most important of all liberties, namely, that
of being heard in a Court of civil Justice.

"Several instances have occurred during my residence in this district, in
which natives have been arraigned before the administrators of the law,
although I was morally convinced of their innocence; in other cases, they
have sought redress through me, for wanton attacks on their person and
lives, without being listened to.

"Only a few weeks ago a native was very nearly being taken up, on the
charge of having thrown a spear at Mr. Smith's shepherd, without,
however, any felonious intent, the distance being too great. This
circumstance saved the man, or else he would, no doubt, have been tried
and found guilty on the shepherd's evidence, who would not allow that he
could be mistaken in the individual, although the accused native came
boldly into town and court (a circumstance that has never before occurred
since I have known these natives), although he was an intimate friend of
the shepherd and his wife; and although all the other natives could prove
where he had been at the time of the attack on the flock, and state who
were the guilty parties.

"For those who have had an opportunity of observing the Aborigines in
their original state, it is not very difficult to distinguish the guilty
from the innocent, for they are a simple-minded race, little skilled in
the arts of dissimulation.

"It is bad enough that a great part of the colonists are inimical to the
natives; it is worse that the law, as it stands at present, does not
extend its protection to them; but it is too bad when the press lends its
influence to their destruction. Such, however, is undoubtedly the case.
When Messrs. Biddle and Brown were murdered, the newspapers entertained
their readers week after week with the details of the bloody massacre,
heaping a profusion of vile epithets upon the perpetrators. But of the
slaughter by the soldiers, (who killed no less than four innocent
natives, while they captured not one guilty party), among the tribes who
had had nothing to do with the murders--of the treachery of attacking in
the darkness of the night, a tribe who had the day before been hunting
kangaroo with their informers, when one of the former guides to the
magistrates' pursuing party was killed amongst others; of the wanton
outrage on the mutilated body of one of the victims;--of these things the
press was as silent as the grave."

Without attempting to enlarge more fully upon the subjects entered upon
in the preceding pages, I trust that I have sufficiently shewn that the
character of the Australian natives has been greatly misrepresented and
maligned, that they are not naturally more irreclaimably vicious,
revengeful, or treacherous than other nations, but on the contrary, that
their position with regard to Europeans, places them under so many
disadvantages, subjects them to so many injuries, irritates them with so
many annoyances, and tempts them with so many provocations, that it is a
matter of surprise, not that they sometimes are guilty of crime, but that
they commit it so rarely.

If I have in the least degree succeeded in establishing that such is the
case, it must be evident that it is incumbent upon us not only to make
allowances when pronouncing an opinion on the character or the crimes of
the Aborigines; but what is of far greater and more vital importance, as
far as they are concerned, to endeavour to revise and improve such parts
of our system and policy towards them as are defective, and by better
adapting these to the peculiar circumstances of this people, at once
place them upon juster and more equal terms, and thus excite a reasonable
hope that some eventual amelioration may be produced, both in their moral
and physical condition.

[Note 56: "We say distinctly and deliberately that nothing comparatively
has yet been done--that the natives have hitherto acquired nothing of
European civilization, but European vices and diseases, and that the
speedy extinction of the whole race is inevitable, save by the
introduction of means for their civilization on a scale much more
comprehensive and effectual than any yet adopted."--Leading Article in
South Australian Register, 1st August, 1840.]

I shall now proceed to give an account of the appearance, habits, mode of
life, means of subsistance, social relations, government, ceremonies,
superstitions, numbers, languages, etc. etc. of the natives of Australia,
so as to afford some insight into the character and circumstances of this
peculiar race, to exhibit the means hitherto adopted for, and the
progress made in attempting, their civilization, and to shew the effects
produced upon them by a contact with Europeans.

Chapter II.


The Aborigines of Australia, with whom Europeans have come in contact,
present a striking similarity to each other in physical appearance and
structure; and also in their general character, habits, and pursuits. Any
difference that is found to exist is only the consequence of local
circumstances or influences, and such as might naturally be expected to
be met with among a people spread over such an immense extent of country.
Compared with other aboriginal races, scattered over the face of the
globe, the New Hollander appears to stand alone.

The male is well built and muscular, averaging from five to six feet in
height, with proportionate upper and lower extremities. The anterior
lobes of the brain are fairly developed, so as to give a facial angle,
far from being one of the most acute to be found amongst the black races.
The eyes are sunk, the nose is flattened, and the mouth wide. The lips
are rather thick, and the teeth generally very perfect and beautiful,
though the dental arrangement is sometimes singular, as no difference
exists in many between the incisor and canine teeth. The neck is short,
and sometimes thick, and the heel resembles that of Europeans. The ankles
and wrists are frequently small, as are also the hands and feet. The
latter are well formed and expanded, but the calves of the legs are
generally deficient. Some of the natives in the upper districts of the
Murray, are, however, well formed in this respect. In a few instances,
natives attain to a considerable corpulency. The men have fine broad and
deep chests, indicating great bodily strength, and are remarkably erect
and upright in their carriage, with much natural grace and dignity of
demeanour. The eye is generally large, black, and expressive, with the
eye-lashes long.

When met with for the first time in his native wilds there is frequently
a fearless intrepidity of manner, an ingenuous openness of look, and a
propriety of behaviour about the aboriginal inhabitant of Australia,
which makes his appearance peculiarly prepossessing.

In the female the average height is about five feet, or perhaps a little
under. The anterior part of the brain is more limited than in the male;
the apex of the head is carried further back; the facial angle is more
acute; and the extremities are more attenuated. The latter circumstance
may probably be accounted for from the fact, that the females have to
endure, from a very early age, a great degree of hardship, privation, and
ill-treatment. Like most other savages the Australian looks upon his wife
as a slave. To her belongs the duty of collecting and preparing the daily
food, of making the camp or hut for the night, of gathering and bringing
in firewood, and of procuring water. She must also attend to the
children; and in travelling carry all the moveable property and
frequently the weapons of her husband. In wet weather she attends to all
the outside work, whilst her lord and master is snugly seated at the
fire. If there is a scarcity of food she has to endure the pangs of
hunger, often, perhaps, in addition to ill-treatment or abuse. No wonder,
then, that the females, and especially the younger ones, (for it is then
they are exposed to the greatest hardships,) are not so fully or so
roundly developed in person as the men. Yet under all these disadvantages
this deficiency does not always exist. Occasionally, though rarely, I
have met with females in the bloom of youth, whose well-proportioned
limbs and symmetry of figure might have formed a model for the sculptor's
chisel. In personal appearance the females are, except in early youth,
very far inferior to the men. When young, however, they are not
uninteresting. The jet-black eyes, shaded by their long, dark lashes, and
the delicate and scarcely-formed features of incipient womanhood give a
soft and pleasing expression to a countenance that might often be called
good-looking--occasionally even pretty.

The colour of the skin, both in the male and female, is generally black,
or very darkly tinged. The hair is either straight or curly, but never
approaching to the woolliness of the negro. It is usually worn short by
both sexes, and is variously ornamented at different periods of life.
Sometimes it is smeared with red ochre and grease; at other times adorned
with tufts of feathers, the tail of the native dog, kangaroo teeth, and
bandages or nets of different kinds.

[Note 57: The same fondness for red paint, ornaments of skins, tufts of
feathers, etc., is noticed by Catlin as prevalent among the American
Indians, and by Dieffenbach as existing among the New Zealanders.]

When the head of the native is washed clean, and purified from the odour
of the filthy pigment with which it is bedaubed, the crop of hair is very
abundant, and the appearance of it beautiful, being a silken, glossy, and
curly black. Great pains are, however, used to destroy or mar this
striking ornament of nature.

Without the slightest pride of appearance, so far as neatness or
cleanliness is concerned, the natives are yet very vain of their own rude
decorations, which are all worn for EFFECT. A few feathers or teeth, a
belt or band, a necklace made of the hollow stem of some plant, with a
few coarse daubs of red or white paint, and a smearing of grease,
complete the toilette of the boudoir or the ball-room. Like the scenery
of a panorama, they are then seen to most advantage at a distance; for if
approached too closely, they forcibly remind us of the truth of the
expression of the poet, that "nature unadorned is adorned the most."

The body dress is simple; consisting of the skins of the opossum, the
kangaroo, or the wallabie, when they can be procured. A single garment
only is used, made in the form of an oblong cloak, or coverlet; by the
skins being stretched out and dried in the sun, and then sewn together
with the sinews of the emu, etc. The size of the cloak varies according to
the industry of the maker, or the season of the year. The largest sized
ones are about six feet square, but the natives frequently content
themselves with one not half this size, and in many cases are without it
altogether. The cloak is worn with the fur side outwards, and is thrown
over the back and left shoulder, and pinned on in front with a little
wooden peg; the open part is opposite the right side, so as to leave the
right arm and shoulder quite unconfined, in the male; the female throws
it over the back and left shoulder, and brings it round under the right
arm-pit, and when tied in front by a string passing round the cloak and
the back, a pouch is formed behind, in which the child is always
carried. [Note 58 at end of para.] In either if the skin be a handsome
one, the dress is very pretty and becoming.

[Note 58: A similar custom prevails among the women of the American
Indians.--CATLIN. vol. ii. p. 132.]

On the sea coast, where the country is barren, and the skins of animals
cannot readily be procured, sea-weed or rushes are manufactured into
garments, with considerable ingenuity. In all cases the garments worn by
day constitute the only covering at night, as the luxury of variety in
dress is not known to, or appreciated by, the Aborigines.

No covering is worn upon the head, although they are continually exposed
to the rays of an almost tropical sun. In extreme seasons of heat, and
'when they are travelling, they sometimes gather a few green bunches or
wet weeds and place upon their heads; but this does not frequently occur.

The character of the Australian natives is frank, open, and confiding. In
a short intercourse they are easily made friends, and when such terms are
once established, they associate with strangers with a freedom and
fearlessness, that would give little countenance to the impression so
generally entertained of their treachery. On many occasions where I have
met these wanderers in the wild, far removed from the abodes of
civilization, and when I have been accompanied only by a single native
boy, I have been received by them in the kindest and most friendly
manner, had presents made to me of fish, kangaroo, or fruit, had them
accompany me for miles to point out where water was to be procured, and
been assisted by them in getting at it, if from the nature of the soil
and my own inexperience. I had any difficulty in doing so myself.

I have ever found them of a lively, cheerful disposition [Note 59 at end
of para.], patiently putting up with inconveniences and privations, and
never losing that natural good temper which so strongly characterizes
them. On the occasion of my second visit from Moorunde, to the Rufus
natives in 1841, when I had so far overcome the ill-feelings and dread,
engendered by the transactions in that quarter, in 1840, as to induce
a large body of them to accompany me back to the station, they had to
walk a distance of 150 miles, making daily the same stages that the
horses did, and unprovided with any food but what they could procure
along the road as they passed, and this from the rapidity with which
they had to travel, and the distance they had to go in a day, was
necessarily limited in quantity, and very far from sufficient to
appease even the cravings of hunger, yet tired, foot-sore, and hungry
as they were, and in company with strangers, whose countrymen had slain
them in scores, but a few months before, they were always merry at
their camps at nights, and kept singing, laughing, and joking, to a
late hour.

[Note 59: Such appears usually to be the characteristic of Nature's
children, than whom no race appears more thoroughly to enjoy life.--Vide
character of the American Indians, by Catlin, vol. 1. p. 84.]

On falling in with them in larger numbers, when I have been travelling in
the interior with my party, I have still found the same disposition to
meet me on terms of amity and kindness. Nor can a more interesting sight
well be imagined, than that of a hundred or two hundred natives advancing
in line to meet you, unarmed, shouting and waving green boughs in both
hands, men, women, and children, the old and the young, all joining in
expressing their good feelings and pacific intentions. On such occasions
I have been often astonished at the facility with which large bodies,
have by a little kindness and forbearance been managed, and kept from
being troublesome or annoying, by a party of only six or seven Europeans.
I have occasionally had upwards of 150 natives sitting in a long line,
where I placed them, and as orderly and obedient almost as a file of

At other times, when riding with only a native boy over the plains of the
interior, I have seen the blue smoke of the native fires, curling up
through the distant line of trees, which marked some yet unvisited
watercourse, and upon making towards it, have come suddenly upon a party
encamped in the hollow, beneath the banks upon which I stood. Here I have
remained, observing them for a few moments, unseen and unthought of. A
single call would arouse their attention, and as they looked up, would
draw from them a wild exclamation of dismay, accompanied by a look of
indescribable horror and affright, at beholding the strange, and to them
incomprehensible beings who stood before them. Weapons would hastily be
seized, baggage gathered up, and the party so lately buried in repose and
security, would at once be ready either to fight or to evacuate their
camps, as circumstances might seem to render most expedient. A few
friendly gestures and a peaceable demeanour would however soon dissipate
their terror, and in a few moments their weapons would be thrown aside,
and both invaders and invaded be upon intimate and confiding terms.

I have always found the natives ready to barter their nets, weapons, or
other implements, for European articles, and sometimes they will give
them unsolicited, and without any equivalent; amongst themselves they
constantly do this.

In their intercourse with each other, natives of different tribes are
exceedingly punctilious and polite, the most endearing epithets are
passed between those who never met before; almost every thing that is
said is prefaced by the appellation of father, son, brother, mother,
sister, or some other similar term, corresponding to that degree of
relationship which would have been most in accordance with their relative
ages and circumstances. In many instances, too, these titles are even
accompanied by the still more insinuating addition of "dear," to say
nothing of the hugs and embraces which they mutually give and receive.

The natives are very fond of the children they rear, and often play with,
and fondle them; but husbands rarely shew much affection for their wives.
After a long absence, I have seen natives, upon their return, go to their
camp, exhibiting the most stoical indifference, never take the least
notice of their wives, but sit down, and act, and look, as if they had
never been out of the encampment; in fact, if any thing, they are more
taciturn and reserved than usual, and some little time elapses before
they enter into conversation with freedom, or in their ordinary manner.

[Note 60: For the existence of similar customs amongst the American
Indians, vide Catlin, vol. i. p. 56.]

Upon meeting children after a long absence, I have seen parents "fall
upon their necks, and weep" bitterly. It is a mistaken idea, as well as
an unjust one, that supposes the natives to be without sensibility of
feeling. It may often be repressed from pride or policy, but it will
sometimes break forth uncontrolled, and reveal, that the best and genuine
feelings of the heart are participated in by savage in common with
civilized man. The following is an instance in point:--A fine intelligent
young boy, was, by his father's consent, living with me at the Murray for
many weeks; but upon the old man's going into Adelaide, he took his son
away to accompany him. Whilst there, the boy died, and for nearly a year
I never saw any thing more of the father, although he occasionally had
been within a few miles of my neighbourhood. One day, however, I was out
shooting about three miles from home, and accidentally fell in with him.
Upon seeing me he immediately burst into tears, and was unable to speak.
It was the first time he had met me since his son's death, and my
presence forcibly reminded him of his loss. The same circumstance
occurred when he accompanied me to the house, where every thing he saw
recalled the memory of his child.

Innate propriety of behaviour is also frequently exhibited by the
Aborigines in their natural state, in the modest unassuming manner in
which they take their positions to observe what is going on, and in a
total absence of any thing that is rude or offensive. It is true that the
reverse of this is also often to be met with; but I think it will usually
be found that it is among natives who have before been in contact with
Europeans, or where familiarities have been used with them first, or an
injudicious system of treatment has been adopted towards them.

DELICACY of feeling is not often laid to the charge of the Aborigines,
and yet I was witness to a singular instance of it at King George's
Sound. I was looking one evening at the natives dancing, and who were, as
they always are on these occasions, in a state of complete nudity. In the
midst of the performance, one of the natives standing by a spectator,
mentioned that a white woman was passing up the road; and although this
was some little distance away, and the night was tolerably dark, they all
with one accord crossed over to the bushes where their cloaks were, put
them on, and resumed their amusement.

It has been said, and is generally believed, that the natives are not
courageous. There could not be a greater mistake, at least as far as they
are themselves concerned, nor do I hold it to be any proof that they are
cowards, because they dread or give way before Europeans and their
fire-arms. So unequal a match is no criterion of bravery, and yet even
thus, among natives, who were labouring under the feelings, naturally
produced by seeing a race they were unacquainted with, and weapons that
dealt death as if by magic, I have seen many instances of an open manly
intrepidity of manner and bearing, and a proud unquailing glance of eye,
which instinctively stamped upon my mind the conviction that the
individuals before me were very brave men.

In travelling about from one place to another, I have always made it a
point, if possible, to be accompanied by one or more natives, and I have
often found great advantage from it. Attached to an exploring party they
are frequently invaluable, as their perceptive powers are very great, and
enable them both to see and hear anything at a much greater distance than
a European. In tracking stray animals, and keeping on indistinct paths,
they display a degree of perseverance and skill that is really wonderful.
They are useful also in cutting bark canoes to cross a river, should such
impede the progress of the party, and in diving for anything that may be
lost in the water, etc. etc. The Aborigines generally, and almost always
those living near large bodies of water, are admirable swimmers and
divers, and are almost as much at home in the water as on dry land. I
have known them even saw a small log or root at the bottom of a deep
river. In a locality, however, which is badly watered, it sometimes
happens that they cannot swim. At Meerkap, in Western Australia, while
crossing with some friends, from the Sound to Swan River, we met with
some who were in this predicament, and who seemed a good deal astonished
at our venturing into the small ponds at that place. I have been told
that the natives at the Sound could not swim before that settlement was
occupied by Europeans--this seems hardly probable, however, upon the
sea-coast; at all events, be this as it may, they all swim now.

In habit they are truly nomadic, seldom remaining many weeks in one
locality, and frequently not many days. The number travelling together
depends, in a great measure, upon the period of the year, and the
description of food that may be in season. If there is any particular
variety more abundant than another, or procurable only in certain
localities, the whole tribe generally congregate to partake of it. Should
this not be the case, then they are probably scattered over their
district in detached groups, or separate families.

At certain seasons of the year, usually in the spring or summer, when
food is most abundant, several tribes meet together in each other's
territory for the purpose of festivity or war, or to barter and exchange
such food, clothing, implements, weapons, or other commodities as they
respectively possess; or to assist in the initiatory ceremonies by which
young persons enter into the different grades of distinction amongst
them. The manner and formalities of meeting depend upon the cause for
which they assemble. If the tribes have been long apart, many deaths may
have occurred in the interim; and as the natives do not often admit that
the young or the strong can die from natural causes, they ascribe the
event to the agency of sorcery, employed by individuals of neighbouring
tribes. This must of course be expiated in some way when they meet, but
the satisfaction required is regulated by the desire of the injured tribe
to preserve amicable relations with the other, or the reverse.

The following is an account of a meeting which I witnessed, between the
natives of Moorunde (comprising portions of several of the neighbouring
tribes) and the Nar-wij-jerook, or Lake Bonney tribe, accompanied also by
many of their friends. This meeting had been pre-arranged, as meetings of
large bodies of natives never take place accidentally, for even when a
distant tribe approaches the territory of another unexpectedly,
messengers are always sent on in advance, to give the necessary warning.
The object of the meeting in question was to perform the initiatory
ceremonies upon a number of young men belonging to both of the tribes. In
the Murray district, when one tribe desires another to come from a
distance to perform these ceremonies, young men are sent off with
messages of invitation, carrying with them as their credentials, long
narrow news, made of string manufactured from the rush. These nets are
left with the tribe they are sent to, and brought back again when the
invitation is responded to.

Notice having been given on the previous evening to the Moorunde natives
of the approach of the Nar-wij-jerook tribe, they assembled at an early
hour after sunrise, in as clear and open a place as they could find. Here
they sat down in a long row to await the coming of their friends. The men
were painted, and carried their weapons, as if for war. The women and
children were in detached groups, a little behind them, or on one side,
whilst the young men, on whom the ceremonies were to be performed, sat
shivering with cold and apprehension in a row to the rear of the men,
perfectly naked, smeared over from head to foot with grease and
red-ochre, and without weapons. The Nar-wij-jerook tribe was now seen
approaching. The men were in a body, armed and painted, and the women and
children accompanying them a little on one side. They occasionally
halted, and entered into consultation, and then, slackening their pace,
gradually advanced until within a hundred yards of the Moorunde tribe.
Here the men came to a full stop, whilst several of the women singled out
from the rest, and marched into the space between the two parties, having
their heads coated over with lime, and raising a loud and melancholy
wail, until they came to a spot about equi-distant from both, when they
threw down their cloaks with violence, and the bags which they carried on
their backs, and which contained all their worldly effects. The bags were
then opened, and pieces of glass and shells taken out, with which they
lacerated their thighs, backs, and breasts, in a most frightful manner,
whilst the blood kept pouring out of the wounds in streams; and in this
plight, continuing their wild and piercing lamentations, they moved up
towards the Moorunde tribe, who sat silently and immoveably in the place
at first occupied. One of the women then went up to a strange native, who
was on a visit to the Moorunde tribe and who stood neutral in the affair
of the meeting, and by violent language and frantic gesticulations
endeavoured to incite him to revenge the death of some relation or
friend. But he could not be induced to lift his spear against the people
amongst whom he was sojourning. After some time had been spent in
mourning, the women took up their bundles again, and retiring, placed
themselves in the rear of their own party. An elderly man then advanced,
and after a short colloquy with the seated tribe, went back, and beckoned
his own people to come forward, which they did slowly and in good order,
exhibiting in front three uplifted spears, to which were attached the
little nets left with them by the envoys of the opposite tribe, and which
were the emblems of the duty they had come to perform, after the ordinary
expiations had been accomplished.

In advancing, the Nar-wij-jerooks again commenced the death wail, and one
of the men, who had probably sustained the greatest loss since the tribes
had last met, occasionally in alternations of anger and sorrow addressed
his own people. When near the Moorunde tribe a few words were addressed
to them, and they at once rose simultaneously, with a suppressed shout.
The opposite party then raised their spears, and closing upon the line of
the other tribe, speared about fifteen or sixteen of them in the left
arm, a little below the shoulder. This is the generally understood order
of revenge; for the persons who were to receive the wounds, as soon as
they saw the weapons of their assailants poised, at once put out the left
foot, to steady themselves, and presented the left shoulder for the blow,
frequently uttering the word "Leipa" (spear), as the others appeared to

Whilst this was going on, the influential men of each tribe were
violently talking to each other, and apparently accusing one another of
being accessory to the death of some of their people. Disclaimers passed
on each side, and the blame was imputed to other and more distant tribes.
The manes of the dead having been appeased, the honour of each party was
left unsullied, and the Nar-wij-jerooks retired about a hundred yards,
and sat down, ready to enter upon the ceremonies of the day, which will
be described in another place. [Note 61: Chapter V.]

If the meeting of the tribes be for the purpose of war, a favourable
situation is selected by one of the parties, and notice is sent to the
other, who then proceed to the place of meeting, where both draw out
their forces in opposing parallel lines. Day-break, or nearly about
sunset in the evening, are the times preferred for these engagements, as
the softened light at those hours does not so much affect the eyesight,
and the spears are more easily seen and avoided. Both parties are fully
armed with spears, shields, and other weapons, and the fight sometimes
lasts for three or four hours, during which scarcely a word is spoken,
and but little noise of any kind is heard, excepting a shrill cry now and
then, when some one is wounded or has a narrow escape. Many are injured
generally on both sides, and some severely so; but it rarely happens that
more than one or two are killed, though hundreds may have been engaged.

The fights are sometimes witnessed by men who are not concerned in them,
by the women and the children. The presence of the females may be
supposed probably to inspire the belligerents with courage and incite
them to deeds of daring.

The most dangerous and fatal affrays in which the natives engage are
those which occur suddenly amongst tribes who have been encamped near one
another on amicable terms, and between whom some cause of difference has
arisen, probably in relation to their females, or some recent death,
which it is imagined the sorcerers have been instrumental in producing.
In the former case a kind of melee sometimes takes place at night, when
fire-brands are thrown about, spears launched, and bwirris [Note 62 at end
of para.] bran-dished in indescribable confusion. In the latter case the
affray usually occurs immediately after the body is buried, and is more of
a hand-to-hand fight, in which bwirris are used rather than spears, and
in which tremendous blows are struck and frightful wounds inflicted.

[Note 62: A short, heavy, wooden stick, with a knob at one end.]

In wars males are always obliged to join their relatives by blood and
their own tribe. Women frequently excite the men to engage in these
affrays to revenge injuries or deaths, and sometimes they assist
themselves by carrying spears or other weapons for their husbands. I am
not aware that women or children are ever butchered after a battle is
over, and I believe such is never the case. Single camps are sometimes
treacherously surprised when the parties are asleep, and the males
barbarously killed in cold blood. This generally takes place just before
the morning dawns, when the native is most drowsy, and least likely to
give his attention to any thing he might hear. In these cases the attack
is generally made under the belief that the individual is a desperate
sorcerer, and has worked innumerable mischiefs to their tribe. In their
attacks upon European parties I believe the natives generally advance in
a line or crescent, beating their weapons together, throwing dust in the
air, spitting, biting their beards, or using some other similar act of
defiance and hostility. I have never witnessed any such collision myself,
but am told that the attack is always accompanied by that peculiar savage
sound produced by the suppressed guttural shout of many voices in unison,
which they use in conflicts amongst themselves, and which is continued to
the moment of collision, and renewed in triumph whenever a weapon strikes
an opponent.

When hostilely disposed from either fear or from having been previously
ill-treated, I have seen the natives, without actually proceeding to
extremities, resort to all the symptoms of defiance I have mentioned, or
at other times, run about with fire-brands in their hands, lighting the
bushes and the grass, either as a charm, or in the hope of burning out
the intruders. When much alarmed and rather closely pressed, they have
run up the trees like monkeys, and concealed themselves among the boughs,
evidently thinking they were secure from pursuit there.

If tribes meet simply for the purpose of festivity, and have no deaths to
avenge on either side, although they appear in warlike attitude, painted
and bearing spear and shield, yet when they approach each other, they all
become seated upon the ground. After which, the strangers, should there
be any, undergo a formal introduction, and have their country and lineage
described by the older men. At these meetings all occurrences of interest
are narrated, information is given as to the localities in which food is
most abundant, and invitations are issued by the proprietors of these
districts, to their relations and friends to accompany them thither.

The position of one tribe towards another, whether on friendly terms or
otherwise, is talked about, and consultations are held on the existing
state of affairs, whether hostilities shall be continued or withdrawn,
and future plans of operation are marked out.

Whilst the men are occupied in discussing these matters, the females
engage in a narration of family occurrences, such as births of children,
marriages, deaths, etc., not omitting a sprinkling of gossip and scandal,
from which, even these ebon sisters of a fairer race, are not altogether

In the evening, the huts of the different tribes are built as near to
each other as practicable, each tribe locating itself in the direction
from whence it came. The size and character of the huts, with the number
of their occupants, vary according to the state of the weather, and the
local circumstances of their position. In fine weather, one hut will
contain from two to five families, in wet weather more, each family
however having a separate fire.

The amusements of the natives are various, but they generally have a
reference to their future occupations or pursuits. Boys who are very
young, have small reed spears made for them by their parents, the ends of
which are padded with grass, to prevent them from hurting each other.
They then stand at a little distance, and engage in a mimic fight; and by
this means acquire early that skill in the use of this weapon, for which,
in after life, they are so much celebrated. At other times round pieces
of bark are rolled along the ground, to represent an animal in the act of
running, at which the spears are thrown for the sake of practice.

Another favourite amusement among the children, is to practise the dances
and songs of the adults, and a boy is very proud if he attains sufficient
skill in these, to be allowed to take part in the exhibitions that are
made before other tribes.

String puzzles are another species of amusement with them. In these a
European would be surprised to see the ingenuity they display, and the
varied and singular figures which they produce. Our juvenile attempts in
this way, are very meagre and uninteresting compared to them. [Note 63: An
amusement of the New Zealand children.--Dieffenbach, vol. 2. p. 32.]

Other gratifications enjoyed by children, consist in learning the
occupations and pursuits of after life, as to make twine, and weapons; to
ascend trees; to procure food; to guide the canoe, and many other things,
which enter into the pursuits of a savage.

The elder boys engage more extensively in similar occupations, as they
are more particularly interested in them, and by their exertions have to
provide chiefly for their own support. Mock combats frequently take place
amongst them, in which they are encouraged by the adults, that they may
acquire the dexterities of warfare, in which they are soon to be more
seriously engaged. [Note 64: For an account of a similar practise among
the American Indians, vide Catlin, vol. 1. p. 131.]

An amusement of the adults, is a large bunch of emu feathers tied
together, (fig. 1. Pl. 1.) which is held out and shaken as if in
defiance, by some individual, whilst the others advance to try to take it
out of his hands. This occasions an amusing struggle before the prize is
gained, in which it is not uncommon to see from ten to twenty strong and
lusty men rolling in a heap together. This is a sort of athletic exercise
amongst them, for the purpose of testing each other's strength. On such
an occasion they are all unarmed and naked.

At nights, dances or plays are performed by the different tribes in turn,
the figures and scenes of which are extensively varied, but all are
accompanied by songs, and a rude kind of music produced by beating two
sticks together, or by the action of the hand upon a cloak of skins
rolled tightly together, so as to imitate the sound of a drum. In some of
the dances only are the women allowed to take a part; but they have
dances of their own, in which the men do not join. At all times they are
the chief musicians, vocal and instrumental. Sometimes, however, they
have an old man to lead the band and pitch the tunes; and at others they
are assisted by the old and young men indiscriminately.

The natives have not any war-dance, properly so called, though sometimes
they are decorated in all the pomp and circumstance of war. Being
excellent mimies, they imitate in many of their dances the habits and
movements of animals. They also represent the mode of hunting, fighting,
love-making, etc. New figures and new songs are constantly introduced, and
are as much applauded and encored, as more refined productions of a
similar kind in civilized communities; being sometimes passed from tribe
to tribe for a considerable distance. I have often seen dances performed
to songs with which I was acquainted, and which I knew to belong to
distant parts of the country where a different dialect was spoken, and
which consequently could not be understood where I heard them. Many of
the natives cannot even give an interpretation of the songs of their own
districts [Note 65 at end of para.], and most of the explanations they do
give are, I am inclined to think, generally very imperfect, as the
measures or quantities of the syllables appear to be more attended to
than the sense.

[Note 65: "Not one in ten of the young men who are dancing and singing it,
know the meaning of the song they are chaunting over."--Catlin, vol. 1. p.
126. Also the case in New Zealand, with respect to some of the
songs.--Vide Dieffenbach, vol. 2. p. 57.]

Of these amusements the natives are passionately fond; and when once they
have so far overcome their naturally indolent disposition as to be
induced to engage in them there is no knowing when they will give over.
Dances are sometimes held during the day, but these are of rare
occurrence, and seem to be in some way connected with their ceremonial
observances or superstitions, since rude figures, and lofty branches of
trees, decorated with tufts of feathers, emu plumes, swan's down and red
ochre, occupy a prominent part in the exhibition, although never met with
in the dances by night.

The dances vary a great deal among the different tribes, both as to
figures and music; the painting or decoration of their persons, their use
of weapons, and the participation of the females in them. Throughout the
entire continent, as far as it is known. there are many points of
resemblance in the dances of all the Aborigines, such as the practice of
painting the body with white and red ochre, carrying boughs in their
hands, or tying them round their limbs; adorning the head with feathers
or down, bearing bunches of feathers, tied in tufts in their hands, the
women singing and beating time upon folded skins, the men beating time
upon sticks or some of their smaller weapons, an old man acting as leader
of the band, and giving the time and tune to the others; the dances
representing the actions of animals, the circumstances of the chase, of
war, or of love; and the singular and extraordinary quivering motion of
the thighs when the legs are distended, a peculiarity probably confined
to the natives of the continent of Australia.

The most interesting dances are those which take place at the meeting of
different tribes. Each tribe performs in turn, and as there is much
rivalry, there is a corresponding stimulus to exertion. The dances
usually commence an hour or two after dark, and are frequently kept up
the greater part of the night, the performers becoming so much excited
that, notwithstanding the violent exercise required to sustain all their
evolutions, they are unwilling to leave off. It is sometimes difficult to
induce them to commence a dance; but if they once begin, and enter into
the spirit of it, it is still more difficult to induce them to break up.

The females of the tribe exhibiting, generally sit down in front of the
performers, either irregularly, in a line, or a semicircle, folding up
their skin cloaks into a hard ball, and then beating them upon their laps
with the palm of their hand, and accompanying the noise thus produced
with their voices. It is surprising to see the perfect time that is kept
in this way, and the admirable manner in which the motions of the dancers
accord with the music. There is no confusion, irregularity, or mistake.
Each person is conversant with his part; and all exhibit a degree of
elasticity and gracefulness in their movements which, in some of the
dances, is very striking and beautiful.

In many of the figures, weapons are carried, such as the waddy, the
shield, the spear, etc. and in these it is amazing to behold the facility
and skill with which they form in close array, spread into open rank,
change places, and thread through the mazes of the dance, without ever
deranging their plans, or coming in contact with each other.

The tribes who are not engaged in dancing, are seated in a large
semicircle as spectators, occasionally giving a rapturous exclamation of
delight, as any part of the performance is well gone through or any
remarkable feat of activity exhibited. Where natives have not much
acquaintance with Europeans, so as to give up, in some measure, their
original habits, if there is any degree of jealousy between the
respective tribes, they are sometimes partitioned off from each other by
boughs of trees, whilst they look at the dance. On one occasion I saw
five tribes met together, and the evening was of course spent in dancing.
Each tribe danced in turn, about forty being engaged at once, besides
sixteen females, eight of whom were at each corner of the male
performers. The men were naked, painted in various devices with red and
white, and had their heads adorned with feathers. The women wore their
opossum cloaks, and had bands of white down round their foreheads, with
the long feathers of the cockatoo sticking up in front like horns. In the
dance the men and women did not intermingle; but the two sets of women
who were dancing at the corners of the line, occasionally changed places
with each other, passing in this transit, at the back of the men. All
sung, and the men beat time upon their smaller weapons whilst dancing,