The Overland Expedition of The Messrs. Jardine
Messrs. Jardine [Byerley ed.]

Part 3 out of 3

seeing his long-looked-for sons, surrounded and escorted by their
sable guides. For a long time previous, the natives who visited the
Settlement had been made to understand that Mr. Jardine expected his
sons with horses and cattle, and had been familiarized with their
names, "Franco" "Alico" as also with others such as "Somerset," "Cape
York," "Salamander," and "Toby," (Mr. Jardine's well-known retreiver)
the intention being that these should act as pass words when they met
the party, a wise precaution, which, as it has been seen, probably
prevented a collision. Thus, on nearing the Settlement the blacks
set up the shouts that had alarmed him, screaming out his name Joko,
Franco, Alicko, and such was the eagerness of each to prove that he
(smiting himself on the breast) was "Kotaiga" or friend, pointing at
the same time to the Brothers, as a witness of their truth, that it
was with some difficulty that the Father could reach his sons to
greet and welcome them. But for the horses they bestrode, even a
father's eye might have failed to distinguish them from the blacks by
whom they were surrounded. Six months of exposure to all weathers
had tanned their skins, and so reduced their wardrobe, as to make
their appearance primitive in the extreme, their heads being covered
with a cap of emu feathers, and their feet cased in green hide
mocassins. The rest of their costume was 'a l'ecossaise,' their
pantaloons being reduced to the waist-bands and pockets, the legs
having for a long time been matters of remembrance only. However,
they were hearty and well, in high spirits, and in good case. During
the hubbub caused by the tumultuous demonstrativeness of the natives,
an amusing episode occurred, which is worthy of record. The
attendant of Mrs. McClintock, a fine strapping girl from the Emerald
Isle, whose good humour and light-heartedness in the discomforts of a
new Settlement had earned her the name of cheerful Ellen, hearing the
tumult outside, and seeing Mr. Jardine rush out gun in hand, imagined
also that they were about to have another attack. Seizing her
mistress in her arms, with more kindness than ceremony, she bore her
away to her own room, where, having deposited her burden, she turned
the key on her, saying, "that was no place for her whilst fighting
was going on." Nor was it until she was well assured that there had
been a false alarm that the kind-hearted wench released her mistress
from durance.

It must be left to the imagination of the reader to realize the
swelling feelings of joy and pride with which the Father grasped the
hands of his gallant sons. After a separation of more than ten
months, his boys had found their way to him at the extremity of the
Australian Continent, by a journey of over 1600 miles, whose
difficulties, hardships, dangers, and escapes, have seldom been
parallelled, and never been surpassed in the whole annals of
exploration. Had they, like poor Lichhardt, Kennedy, or Burke and
Wills, perished in the attempt, they would have been honored as
heroes, and a tablet or monument would been handed down their names
to posterity. As it was, thanks to a kind Providence, they were
living heroes, who had sturdily accomplished their work, and brought
their companions through without hurt or casualty. The modesty which
is ever the attribute of true merit, will probably cause their cheeks
to tinge in finding their exploits thus eulogized, but assuredly it
is no exaggeration of praise to say, that they have won for
themselves a lasting and honorable name in the records of Australian


Chose Site for Station -- Native Method of Using Tobacco -- Return
for the Cattle -- The Lakes -- Reach the Camp -- Another Horse Dead
-- The Whole Party Cross the Jardine -- Raft Upset -- Cargo Saved --
Deserted by Guides -- Final Start for Settlement -- Another Horse
Abandoned -- Horses Knocked Up -- Cattle Missing -- Choppagynya --
Reach Vallack Point -- Conclusion.

On the afternoon of their arrival in Somerset, the Brothers, after a
"slight" luncheon, in which Mr. Jardine's preserved vegetables
received very particular attention, manned the whale-boat belonging
to the Settlement, and pulled over the Straits to Albany Island to
get fresh horses. Two were got over, but night coming on, the
crossing of the rest was deferred until the next day. The Strait is
three-quarters-of-a-mile wide, which, with a current running upwards
of five knots an hour, makes it an exhausting swim even for a strong
horse. The next morning three more horses were crossed. The five
expedition horses which these re-placed were in a miserable
condition. Three of them had given in on the preceding day, two
miles from the township, and had to be left behind for the time.
With the fresh horses the Brothers were enabled to take a look about
them, and select a site for the formation of a cattle station. A
convenient spot was chosen at Vallack Point, about three miles from
Somerset, to which it now only remained for them to fetch up their
companions and the cattle. Two days were spent in recruiting the
horses, the explorers themselves, probably, enjoying the "dolce far
niente" and change of diet. The black guides were not forgotten, and
received their reward of biscuit and tobacco. The manner in which
they use this latter is curious, and worthy of notice. Not satisfied
with the ordinary "cutty" of the whites, they inhale it in volumes
through a bamboo cane. The effect is a profound stupefaction, which
appears to be their acme of enjoyment. On the morning of the 5th,
taking with them their younger brother, John Jardine, and their two
guides, Harricome and Monuwah, and the five fresh horses, in addition
to their own, the Brothers started to return to the cattle party, who
were anxiously awaiting their return on the banks of the flooded
Jardine. The black pilots were made to understand where the camp
was, and promised to take them by a good road. The first stage was
to the Saltwater Creek, on which they had camped with the tribe,
which they reached in about 17 miles, passing on the way, three fine
lakes, Wetura, Baronto, and "Chappagynyah," at two, four, and eight
miles from Somerset. The road was a fair one for the cattle, keeping
along the line marked by Mr. Jardine the preceding year as before
mentioned, and only presented a few light belts of scrub to go
through. They were likewise enabled to choose a better crossing of
the Saltwater Creek, where the swamps join and form a defined
channel. The last two miles were very boggy, even the fresh and
well-conditioned horses getting stuck occasionally.

'March' 6. -- The camp was reached in the evening of to-day, at the
end of about 22 miles, but the black pilots were of very little use,
as shortly after starting they fairly got out of their latitude, and
were obliged to resign the lead to the Brothers, who hit the river a
little before dark, nearly opposite the camp. They found it about
the same height as when first crossed, but it had been considerably
higher during their absence. It being too late to cross, the party
camped on their own side, and Messrs. Harricome and Monuwah swam over
to see the new strangers and get a supply of beef. They returned
with nearly a shoulder of a good sized steer, which entirely
disappeared before morning, the whole night being devoted to feeding.
The quantity of meat that a hungry native can consume is something
astounding, but in this case beat anything that any of the whole
party had ever seen. The natural result was a semi-torpor and a
perfectly visible distention.

'March' 7. -- This morning the Brothers crossed over to the camp,
when they had the satisfaction of finding, on counting the cattle,
that a number were away, and when the horses were tried, two of them
were found missing, besides one that had died during their absence,
"Lady Scott." They were immediately sent for, and the remainder of
the party employed in preparing for the crossing, and killing a
beast. A fresh raft was made with the hide capable of carrying 400
lbs. weight. The two Somerset blacks evinced a great deal of
surprise at sight of the cattle, and expressed it by chirping and
making various curious noises with their tongues and mouths.
Accustomed chiefly to fish, herbs, and roots, the succulent beef had
charms which outweighed surprise, and another night was spent in
feasting on the "oddments" of the fresh killed beef.

'March' 8. -- The missing cattle and horses were brought in with the
exception of three, which prevented the party crossing to-day,
although all was now in readiness. The river was still 200 yards
wide, and running strongly, so that it was expedient to cross the
whole together.

'March' 9. -- The three missing cattle not having been found, the
crossing operations were commenced at mid-day. The width and
appearance of the river made it difficult to make the cattle face it,
but they were all safely crossed after a little time, with the
exception of one, which broke away, and could not be recovered. The
pack-horses were then put over, which was easily accomplished, and it
then only remained to cross the packs and baggage. The raft answered
admirably, and everything was ferried over in safety, till the last
cargo, when a little adventure occurred, which nearly cost the life
of one of the party. Cowderoy, being unable to swim, had to be taken
across holding on to the raft, and was, therefore, left to the last;
all went well with him until within 30 yards of the bank, when,
whether from trepidation, induced by visions of alligators (with
which the river indeed abounds), or from an attempt to strike out
independently, he "succeeded" in upsetting and sinking the raft, and
was with some difficulty got to the shore "quitte pour la peur." In
truth it requires some nerve for a man who can't swim to cross a wide
and rapid river. Without a confiding trust in the means adopted for
his transport, a catastrophe is not an unlikely result. The writer
has known instances of persons crossing broad rivers supported by a
spear held between two blacks, by holding on to a bullock's tail, and
even sitting on a horse's back, but in every case the success of the
attempt depends almost entirely on the coolness of the individual,
and even with this essential, he has known some fatal cases, so that
Cowderoy might congratulate himself on his safe transit. The packs,
etc., which formed the last cargo, were recovered after some time,
the distance from the shore being slight, and Cowderoy soon recovered
his accustomed good humor. By four o'clock everything had been
crossed in safety, save the four beasts before mentioned; but on
camping for the night it was found that the guides had decamped,
their unwonted high feeding, having, no doubt, induced an
indisposition to work, a result not confined to blacks alone.

'March' 10. -- This morning the "Cowal," or watercourse, which had
detained the Brothers on their first trip, had to be swum over, and
here poor Ginger, one of the horses, got hopelessly bogged, and
though got out and put on his legs with saplings, was too exhausted
to go on,and had to be abandoned. The distance accomplished was 11

'March' 11. -- The line marked by Mr. Jardine was followed to-day. A
scrub occurred on a creek called Wommerah Creek, through which it
took two hours to drive the cattle. Only 10 miles were made, and the
camp was pitched at about 4 miles from the mouth of the creek where
the corroboree was held. Three horses were knocked up during the
day, which prevented their gotting as far as intended.

'March' 12. -- On counting the cattle it was found that 30 head had
been dropped in coming through the scrub at Wommerah Creek. Two of
the black-boys were sent after them, and the Brothers went out to
find a crossing-place over Ranura Creek, (their last camp in
Somerset.) Here they met the same tribe, (known as Wognie's,) and
bartered "bacca" and "bissika," against "moro wappi," or fish, with
which the camp was plentifully supplied in the evening. The cattle
were recovered all but five. The country is described as being
composed of ridges of white and red sand, intersected by swamps of
tea-tree, pandanus, and banksia, the crest of the ridges being
generally surmounted by a patch of scrub. The timber, bloodwood,
mahogany, stringy-bark, and nonda.

'March' 13. -- A late start was made to-day, for some of the horses
were away. The camp was formed on the banks of the lake
before-mentioned, 8 miles from Somerset, Chappagynyah, which is
described as teeming with crocodiles. tThe next day the party
reached their final resting place, probably not without some
exhiliration in feeling that their journey was over. They were met
at Baronto, by Mr. Jardine, who had ridden out from Somerset for the
purpose. The camp was established at Vallack Point, where the
wearied horses and cattle at length found rest, whilst their drivers
were able to indulge in the unwonted luxuries of regular feeding and
uninterrupted sleep: luxuries which few but those who have
experienced hunger and broken rest can fully appreciate. They had
been on the road for 5 months, travelled over 1600 miles, the last
250 of which were, as we have seen, performed on foot, and by most of
the party barefooted, whilst for the last four weeks their food had
consisted chiefly of jerked veal, fish without salt, and the wild
fruits and herbs they might find in the bush. In addition to the
distance travelled over by the whole party, and over which the cattle
were driven, the Brothers traversed more than 1200 miles in their
exploratory trips ahead, looking for the lost horses, etc. Alexander
Jardine's journey down the Einasleih alone amounted to little less
than 300. It may be imagined, therefore, that the return to the
habits and fare of civilized life must have been an agreeable change.

After an interval employed by the Brothers in forming a station at
Vallack Point, they returned with their father to Brisbane, in H.M.S.
Salamander, leaving their younger brother, John, in charge of the
newly-formed station, where the cattle were doing well. Mr.
Richardson left in the same vessel, and on arriving in Brisbane
immediately set to work to chart the route. Having every facility at
hand in the office of the Surveyor-General, the error of the river
Lynd was rectified, and a map compiled, shewing the route, from which
that now presented to the reader has been reduced. A glance at it
will shew that a large tract of unexplored country exists between the
track of the Jardines and that of Kennedy, which affords ample scope
for, and may possibly repay future explorations. Already stock is on
the road to occupy country on the lower Einasleih, and it is not
improbable that before long the rich valley of the Archer will add
its share to the pastoral wealth of Queensland.



[Plate: SOMERSET CAPE YORK. Lithograph.]


THE MELALEUCA ('Tea-tree Gum M. Leucodendron.')

This tree, of which there are several varieties, is very common to
Northern Australia; the drooping kind ('Melaleuca Leucodendron'),
occupying the beds and margins of the rivers, where its long pendant
branches weeps the stream, as does the graceful willow of Europe.
Its bark is in thin paper-like layers, whilst its leaves are like
that of the gum, but thinner and straighter. It is remarkable for
containing an extraordinary quantity of brackish water, which pours
out in a torrent, when the bark is cut through, to the extent of from
a quart to a gallon. Another variety is found chiefly in flat sandy
country and shallow swamps. It is much smaller than that of the
rivers, and the leaves broader, stiff, and upright, its blossoms
nearly the same. It is indifferently called weeping gum, tea-tree
gum, and tea-tree, although it is in no way allied to the latter. It
is with the upright kind that the arid levels of the Staaten are
chiefly timbered.


This scrub, one of the numerous family of accacia, which together
with the pandanus, gave the travellers so much annoyance on their
journey, occupies a large extent of country about the Richardson
range, from the Batavia to Cape York. It much resembles, and is
probably identical with that which grows in the neighbourhood of
Sydney, to the appearance of which, indeed, that part of the
Peninsula closely resembles.

FLOCK PIGEON OF THE GULF ('Phaps Histrionica.')

These beautiful pigeons which are alluded to by Leichhardt, are at
certain seasons found in immense flocks in the plain country about
the Gulf of Carpentaria. Their range is wide, as in 1846 they
appeared in flocks of countless multitudes on the Murrimbidgee River,
N.S.W., probably driven from their usual regions by drought. They
are described and figured in Mr. Gould's great work on the Australian


This river was erroneously supposed by its first settlers to be the
Lynd of Leichhardt. That such was not the case, was proved by
Alexander Jardine, who traced it down for 180 miles from Carpentaria
Downs, when he turned back, within about a day's stage of its
junction with the Gilbert, fully satisfied that it could not be the
Lynd. Since then it has, I believe, been traced into the Gilbert,
and thence to the Gulf. Its importance would lead to the supposition
that it was the principal branch of the Gilbert. There is an
excellent cattle country on the lower part, as described in the text
which has probably ere this been occupied by our pioneers.

THE NONDA ('Parinarium Nonda. F. Mueller.')

This tree so named by Leichhardt's black-boys (described in Bentham's
'Flora Australiensis'), is very abundant north of the Einasleih,
which is possibly the extreme latitude of its zone south. It formed
an important accession to the food of the party, and it is highly
probable that their good health may be attributable to the quantity
of fruit, of which this was the principal, which they were able to
procure, there being no case of scurvy during the journey, a
distemper frequently engendering in settled districts, when there is
no possibility of varying the diet with vegetables. The foliage of
the tree is described as of a bright green, the fruit very abundant,
and much eaten by the natives. It is of about the size and
appearance of a yellow egg plum, and in taste like a mealy potatoe,
with, however, a trace of that astringency so common to Australian
wild fruits. The wood is well adapted for building purposes.

BURDEKIN DUCK ('Tadorna Raja').

This beautiful species of shelldrake, though not numerous, has a wide
range, extending from the richmond river to Cape York. It frequents
the more open flats at the mouths of rivers and creeks.


This little insect (called Wirotheree in the Wellington dialect), the
invasion of whose hoards so frequently added to the store of the
travellers, and no doubt assisted largely in maintaining their
health, is very different from the European bee, being in size and
appearance like the common house-fly. It deposits its honey in trees
and logs, without any regular comb, as in the case of the former.
These deposits are familiarly known in the colony as "sugar bags,"
(sugar bag meaning, aboriginice, anything sweet), and require some
experience and proficiency to detect and secure the aperture by which
the bees enter the trees, being undistinguishable to an unpractised
eye. The quantity of honey is sometimes very large, amounting to
several quarts. Enough was found on one occasion to more than
satisfy the whole party. Its flavor differs from that of European
honey almost as much as the bee does in appearance, being more
aromatic than the latter: it is also less crystalline. As the
celebrated "Narbonne honey" derives its excellence from the bees
feeding on the wild thyme of the south of France, so does the
Australian honey derive its superior flavour from the aromatic
flowers and shrubs on which the Wirotheree feeds, and which makes it
preferred by many to the European.

THE APPLE-GUM ('Angophora?')

I have been at some pains to discover to what species this tree
belongs, but further than that it is one of the almost universal
family of the Eucalypti, have not been able to identify it. As
mentioned in the text, it was found very valuable for forging
purposes by the Brothers, who were able to bring their horse-shoes
almost to a white heat by using it. It is like box in appearance,
and very hard.


This formidable weapon can hardly receive too high a commendation,
and to its telling efficiency is probably attributable the absence of
any casualty to the party in their many encounters with the savages.
Not only for its long range is it valuable, but for its superior
certainty in damp or wet weather, its charge remaining uninjured
after days and weeks of interval, and even after immersion in water,
making it available when an ordinary piece would be useless. The
effect of the conical bullet too is much more sure and complete,
which, when arms 'must' be resorted to, is of great importance.


This shell-fish is to be found in almost all the Australian rivers
and lagoons. It is in size and appearance very much like the little
cray-fish or "Ecrevisses" which usually garnish the "Vol-au-vent" of
Parisian cookery, and of very delicate flavor.

SPINIGEX, Spear Grass, Needle Grass, or "Saucy Jack" ('Triodia Irritans.')

This grass, so well known to all Australian travellers, is a certain
indication of a sandy sterile country. The spinifex found in the
Mally scrubs of the south attains a great size, generally assuming
the appearance of a large tuft or bush from one to two feet in
diameter, and twelve to eighteen inches high. When old, its sharp
points, like those of so many immense darning needles set on end at
different angles, are especially annoying to horses, who never touch
it as food, except when forced by starvation. In Northern Queensland
the present species is found abundantly from Peak Downs to Cape York.

FIVE CORNERS ('Stypelia?')

This fruit is well known and very common in the neighbourhood of
Sydney, and was found in the scrubby region about the Richardson
Range, which, as before mentioned, is of similar character to that
description of country. It does not, so far as I am aware, exist in
any other part of Queensland.


This tree, of which there are several species, ('Owenia Cerasifera'
and 'Owenia Vanessa' being most common in Queensland), is found along
the whole of the east coast, as far south as the Burnett, and is one
of the handsomest of Australian forest trees. Its purple fruit has a
pleasant acid flavor, and is probably a good anti-scorbutic. It is
best eaten after having been buried in the ground for a few days, as
is the custom of the natives. The stone is peculiar, having much the
shape of a fluted pudding basin. The timber is handsomely grained
and is of durable quality.

On the subjects of the fruits, edible plants, and roots of
Queensland, Mr. Anthelme Thozet, of Rockhampton, whose name is well
and deservedly known to Botanists, has been at great pains to prepare
for the approaching Exhibition at Paris, a classified table of all
that are known as consumed by the natives raw and prepared, and to
his enthusiastic attention to the subject, we are indebted for the
possession of a large and important list, a knowledge of which would
enable travellers in the wilds of the colony to support themselves
from their natural productions alone, in cases where their provision
was exhausted.

THE CALAMUS ('Calamus Australis.)

This plant belongs to a genuis of palms, the different species of
which yield the rattan canes of commerce. Its form in the scrubs of
the Cape York Peninsula is long and creeping, forming a net work of
vines very formidable to progress.

THE PITCHER PLANT ('Nepenthes Kennedyana.')

This interesting plant was first noticed to the north of the Batavia
River, and is common to the swamps of the peninsula. It has been
described and named in honor of the unfortunate Kennedy, who first
noticed it.


This stream, whose arid banks Mr. Jardine was forced to trace to the
sea, in consequence of the sterility and waterless character of the
levels to the northward, is neverthless of some importance. Like
most of the northern rivers, it is a torrent stream, whose bed is
insufficient to carry off its waters during the flooded season,
causing the formation of lagoons, back-waters, and ana-branches, and
yet in the dry months, containing only a thread of water trickling
along a waste of sand, sometimes three or four hundred yards wide,
and at intervals loosing itself and running under the surface.
Should the northern branch which was seen to join amongst the
ana-branches near its debouchure prove to be the larger stream, that
followed by the party might still retain the name of "the Ferguson,"
given to it by the Brothers, in honor of the governor of Queensland.
It receives Cockburn Creek, one of importance, which, just before
joining it, receives the waters of another large creek from the
south, which was supposed to be Byerley Creek, but this as mentioned
in the text, is unlikely, for when the Brothers were in quest of the
Lynd (which they never reached at all) they left Byerley Creek
trending to the south, at a point considerably to the west of the
longitude of that influence. It is more probable, therefore, that
Byerley Creek is a tributary of either the Einasleih or Gilbert, or
that it is an independant stream altogether, running into the Gulf
between the Gilbert and Staaten rivers.

It appears unlikely also that any practicable route for stock will be
discovered between the coast which Mr. Jardine skirted, and the heads
of the rivers Staaten, Lynd, Mitchell, and Batavia. The interval
between Kennedy's track and that of the Brothers has yet to be
explored, when the best line will probably be found nearer to the
former than the latter, for the country between the Staaten and
Mitchell near their sources has been proven to be a barren and
waterless waste, the good country only commencing beyond the
Mitchell, and forming the valley of the Archer, but terminating about
the Coen.


The fate of the unfortunate mule, whose loss was amongst the most
severely felt of the journey, has come to light in rather an
interesting manner. In a late letter from Cape York, Mr. Frank
Jardine mentions that some natives had visited the Settlement at
Somerset, amongst whom were seen some of the articles carried in the
mule's pack bags. On questioning them he found that they were
familiar with all the incidents of the journey, many of which they
described minutely. The mule had been found dead, having shared the
fate of Lucifer and Deceiver, and perished from thirst, and his packs
of course ransacked. They had watched the formation of the Cache,
when the party abandoned the heaviest articles of the equipment, and
in like manner ransacked it. These blacks must have travelled nearly
500 miles, for the Staaten is nearly 450 miles in a straight line
from Somerset, and were probably amongst those who dogged the steps
of the party so perseveringly to within 100 miles of Cape York,
frequently attacking it as described. From their accounts it appears
that the expedition owed much of its safety to their horses, of which
the blacks stood in great dread. They described minutely the
disasters of the poison camp on the Batavia, particularising the fact
of Frank Jardine having shot one of the poisoned horses, his
favourite, with his revolver, their start on foot, and other things.
From this is would appear that they closely watched and hung on to
the steps of the party, though only occasionally daring to attack
them; and proves that but for the unceasing and untiring vigilence of
the Brothers, and their prompt action when attacked, the party would
in all probability have been destroyed piece meal. The utter
faithlessness, treachery, and savage nature of the northern natives
is shown by their having twice attempted to surprise the settlement
whilst Mr. Jardine, senior, was resident there, although they had
been treated with every kindness from the first. In these encounters
two of the marines were wounded, one of whom has since died from the
effects, whilst others had narrow escapes, John Jardine, junr. having
had a four-pronged spear whistle within two inches of his neck.
Since then they have not ceased to molest the cattle, and in an
encounter they wounded Mr. Scrutton. They have utilized their
intercourse with the whites so far as to improve the quality of their
spears by tipping them with iron, a piece of fencing wire, 18 inches
long, having been found on one taken from them on a late occasion.
In his last letter Frank Jardine mentions an encounter with a
"friendly" native detected in the act of spearing cattle, in which he
had a narrow escape of losing his life, and states that, despite
their professions of friendship, they are always on the watch for
mischief. It is evident therefore, that no terms can safely be held
with a race who know no law but their own cowardly impulse of evil,
and that an active and watchful force of bushmen well acquainted with
savage warfare is necessary to secure the safety of the young
settlement. For a description of the habits and the character of the
Australian and Papuan races, which people the Peninsula and the
adjacent islands of Torres Straits, the reader is referred to the
interesting narrative of the voyage of the Rattlesnake, by Mr. John
McGillivray, in which the subject is ably and exhaustively treated,
and which leaves but little to add by succeeding writers.


The "villanous compound, a mixture of mangrove roots and berries,"
which was presented to the explorers by the friendly natives as a
peace-offering on first meeting them near Somerset, was probably what
is described as the "Midamo" in Mr. Anthelme Thozets' valuable
pamphlet already alluded to above on "the roots, tubers, bulbs, and
fruits used as vegetable food by the aboriginals of Northern
Queensland." The midamo is made by baking the root of the common
mangrove ('Avicennia Tomentosa'), which is called Egaie by the tribes
of Cleveland Bay, and Tagon-Tagon by those of Rockhampton. Its
preparation is described at page 13.



A description of the settlement at Port Albany, Cape York, at the
time of the arrival of the Brothers has been carefully drawn up in
the shape of a report to the Colonial Secretary of Queenslandby Mr.
Jardine. It is so full and interesting that I cannot do better than
publish it in extenso. It first appeared in the 'Queensland Daily
Guardian' of 24th June, 1865. A letter from Mr. Jardine to Sir
George Bowen, reporting the arrival of the sons, and epitomising the
events of the journey, together with the report of Dr. Haran, R.N.,
Surgeon in charge of the detachment of Royal Marines, on the climate
of Cape York, showing its great salubrity, are also added: --


Somerset, March 1st, 1865.

Sir, -- My former reports to you having been, to a certain extent,
necessarily taken up with matters of detail in reference to the
formation of the new settlement of Somerset, and that object being
now in such a state of completion as to enable me to say that it is
fairly established, so far as the comfort and safety of the present
residents are concerned, I now do myself the honor to lay before you
the result of such general observations as I have been able to make
on what may be termed general matters of interest.

2. The portion of the country to which my observations will
particularly apply is that which, I think, may correctly be termed
the "York Peninsula proper," and comprises the land lying to the
northward of a line drawn from the estuary of the Kennedy River, at
the head of Newcastle Bay, to the opposite or north-west coast. The
general course of the Kennedy River runs in this line, and from the
head of the tideway to the north-west coast the breadth of land does
not exceed six miles. The mouth of the river falling into the sea a
short distance to the southward of Barn Island will be nearly met by
the western extremity of this line.

3. The land on the neck thus formed presents singular features.
There is no defined or visible water shed; a succession of low
irregular ridges, divided by swampy flats, extends from coast to
coast, and the sources of the streams running into either overlap in
a most puzzling manner. The large ant-hills which are spread over
the whole of this country may be taken as sure indicators of the
nature of the soils; on the ridges a reddish sandy loam, intermixed
with iron-stone gravel, prevails; on the flats a thin layer of
decomposed vegetable matter overlays a white sand, bearing
'Melaleuca' and 'Pandanus', with a heavy undergrowth of a plant much
resembling tall heath. Nearly every flat has its stream of clear
water; the elegant "pitcher" plant grows abundantly on the margins.
The timber is poor and stunted, chiefly bloodwood and 'grevillea';
and the grass is coarse and wiry.

4. Leaving this neck of barren and uninteresting country, the land
to the northward rises, and a distinct division or spine is formed,
ending in Cape York. From it, on either side, spurs run down to the
coast, frequently ending in abrupt precipices overhanging the sea; in
other places gradually declining to the narrow belt of flat land
which occasionally borders the shore. The formation is, I may say,
entirely sandstone, overlaid in many places by a layer of lava-like
ironstone. Porphyry occurs occasionally in large masses, split and
standing erect in large columns, at a distance resembling basalt.
The sandstone is of the coarsest quality, almost a conglomerate, and
is soft and friable; exposure to the air might probably harden it if
quarried, when it would be available for rough building. The ridges,
with very few exceptions, are topped with large blocks of ferruginous
sandstone, irregularly cast about, and are covered with a thick
scrub, laced and woven together with a variety of vines and climbers,
while the small valleys intervening bear a strong growth of tall
grass, through which numerous creeping plants twine in all
directions, some of them bearing beautiful flowers. Among them I may
particularise two species of 'Ipomea', which I believe to be
undescribed, and a vine-like plant, bearing clusters of fruit much
resembling in appearance black Hambro Grapes, wholesome and pleasant
to the taste. The scrubs are formed of an immense variety of trees
and shrubs, far too numerous for me toname, were I able to do so.
Some of them have fine foliage, and bear handsome flowers and
agreeably tasted fruit, and would form most ornamental additions to
our southern gardens and pleasure grounds. Several species of the
numerous climbing plants produce a fine and strong fibre, from which
the natives make their fishing lines. Some fine varieties of palm
are found on the moister lands near the creeks, two especially
elegant, a 'Seaforthia' and a 'Caryota'. A wild banana, with small
but good fruit, is also found in such localities. On the open
grounds the bloodwood, Moreton Bay ash, and a strong growing acacia
are the principal trees. Timber for building is scarce, and of very
indifferent quality. The iron-bark and pine are unknown here.

5. The soil on these grounds is a reddish loam, more or less sandy,
and thinly covered with a coarse ironstone gravel. Much of the
ironstone has a strong magnetic property -- so much so as to suspend
a needle; and it was found a great inconvenience by Mr. Surveyor
Wilson, from its action on the instruments. As the land descends,
the soil becomes more sandy. Near the creek patches with a
considerable mixture of vegetable loam are found, which would be
suitable for the growth of vegetables, bananas, etc. The grass is
generally long and coarse, and soon after the rainy season ceases
becomes, under the influence of the strong south-east winds, withered
and dry. Horses and cattle keep their condition fairly, but sheep do
not thrive; the country is quite unsuited to them. Goats may be kept
with advantage; and pigs find an abundant supply of food in the
scrubs and swamps.

6. In the Zoology of the district, the careful researches of Mr.
M'Gillivray -- the naturalist attached to H.M.'s surveying ship
Rattlesnake -- have left little room for the discovery of many
positive novelties. I have, however, been able to note many
interesting facts in the economy and habits of the birds, especially
such as relate to their migration. Several of the species found here
are season visitors of New South Wales, and it is interesting to
compare the times of their arrival and departure in this place with
those in the southern colony.

7. The animals afford small variety. The dingo, or native dog, four
species of the smaller kangaroos, and two other marsupials are found.
One, an elegant little squirrel-like opossum, striped lengthways with
black and white, I believe to be new.

8. The birds are more plentiful. My collection comprises more than
one hundred species of land birds, many of them remarkable for beauty
of plumage, and peculiarity of form, structure, and habit. Among
them the most remarkable are the great black macaw, ('Microglossus
Atterrimus') the magnificent rifle bird, ('Ptiloris Magnifica') and
the rare and beautiful wood kingfisher, ('Tan Ts-ptera Sylvia'). The
latter first made its appearance here on the 30th of November last.
On the afternoon and night of the 28th and the 29th of that month
there was a heavy storm of rain, with wind from the north-east, and
the next morning the bush along the shore was ringing with the cries
of the new arrivals. To my constant enquiries of the blacks for this
bird, I was always told by them that when the wind and rain came from
the north-west the birds would come, and their prediction was
verified to the letter. They also say the birds come from "Dowdui"
(New Guinea). I think this probable, as several of the birds
described by the French naturalist, M. Lesson, as found by him in New
Guinea have also appeared here for the breeding season. The
'Megapodius Tumulus' is also worthy of mention, on account of the
surprising structure of its nest. The mound resembles, and is
composed of the same materials as that of the brush turkey
('Talegulla'), but is very much larger in size. Some that I have
measured are upwards of thirty (30) feet in diameter at the base, and
rise at the natural angle to a height of fifteen (15) feet or more.
It is wonderful how birds so comparitively diminutive can accumulate
so large a pile. These birds live in pairs, and several pairs use
the same mound. The eggs are deposited at a depth of from one to
three feet; the heat at that depth is very great, more than the hand
can bear for any length of time. I cannot say whether the young,
when released from the mounds, are tended by the parents; they,
however, return and roost in the mounds at night. The flesh of the
'Megapodius' is dark and flavorless, being a mass of hard muscle and
sinew. birds, which may be called game, are not numerous. The brush
turkey ('Talegalla'), the 'Megapodius', several species of pigeon,
with a few ducks and quail, comprise the whole.

9. -- Fish are in abundance, and in great varieties; some of them of
strange form and singular brilliancy of coloring. The grey mullet,
the bream -- a fish much resembling in general appearance the English
pike -- and several others, are excellent eating.

10. -- Three species of turtle are plentiful during the season, that
is, the period when they approach the shores to deposit their eggs,
the green, the hawksbill, and another species, which grow to a much
larger size than either of the above. The natives take large numbers
of the former; indeed, from the month of November till February
turtle forms their principal food. The green turtle are taken in the
water by the blacks, who display great address in "turning" them;
they are approached when asleep on the surface; the black slips
gently from his canoe and disappears under water, and rising beneath
the animal, by a sudden effort turns it on its back, and by a strong
wrench to the fore flipper disables it from swimming. The fisherman
is assisted by his companions in the canoe, and a line is secured to
the turtle. This is hazardous sport, and deep wounds are frequently
inflicted by the sharp edges of the shells, which in the female
turtle are very sharp. A singular mode of taking the hawksbill
turtle is followed by the natives here. This custom, though said to
be known so long back as the time of the discovery of America by
Columbus, is so strangely interesting that I will give a short
account of it, as I have seen it practised. A species of sucking
fish ('Remora') is used. On the occasion to which I allude two of
these were caught by the blacks in the small pools in a coral reef,
care being taken 'not to injure them'. They were laid in the bottom
of the canoe, and covered over with wet sea weed -- a strong fishing
line having been previously fastened to the tail of each. Four men
went in the canoe; one steering with a paddle in the stern, one
paddling on either side, and one in the fore-part looking out for the
turtle and attending to the fishing lines, while I sat on a sort of
stage fixed midship supported by the outrigger poles. The day was
very calm and warm, and the canoe was allowed to drift with the
current, which runs very strong on these shores. a small turtle was
seen, and the sucking fish was put into the water. At first it swam
lazily about, apparently recovering the strength which it had lost by
removal from its native element; but presently it swam slowly in the
direction of the turtle till out of sight; in a very short time the
line was rapidly carried out, there was a jerk, and the turtle was
fast. The line was handled gently for two or three minutes, the
steersman causing the canoe to follow the course of the turtle with
great dexterity. It was soon exhausted and hauled up to the canoe.
It was a small turtle, weighing a little under forty pounds (40
lbs.), but the sucking fish adhered so tenaciously to it as to raise
it from the ground when held up by the tail, and this some time after
being taken out of the water. A strong breeze coming on, the canoe
had to seek the shore without any more sport. I have seen turtle
weighing more than one hundred (100) pounds, which had been taken in
the manner described. Though large numbers of the hawksbill turtles
are taken by the Cape York natives, it is very difficult to procure
the shell from them; they are either too lazy to save it, or if they
do so, it is bartered to the Islanders of Torres' Straits, who use it
for making masks and other ornaments.

11. Although there is a considerable variety of reptiles, snakes do
not appear to be very numerous. The common brown snake and
death-adder are found; carpet snakes (a kind of 'boa'), appear to be
the most common, and grow to a large size. They have been very
troublesome by killing our poultry at night. They seem to be
bloodthirsty creatures, frequently killing much larger animals than
they can possibly swallow, and are not satisfied with one victim at a
time. One which was killed in my fowl-house had three half grown
chickens compressed in its folds and held one in its jaws. A short
time since I was roused in the middle of the night by the piteous
cries of a young kangaroo dog, and on running out found it rolling on
the ground in the coils of a large carpet snake. The dog was
severely bitten in the loin, but in the morning was quite well,
proving that the bite of this reptile is innocuous. This snake
measured nearly twelve feet in length.

12. Crocodiles are found in numbers in the Kennedy River and a
lagoon, which has communication with its estuary. They are also seen
occasionally in the bays in Albany Passage.

13. Of the aborigines of Cape York I can say little more than has
already been so often repeated in descriptions of the natives of
other parts of the Australian continent. The only distinction that I
can perceive, is that they appear to be in a lower state of
degradation, mentally and physically, than any of the Australian
aboriginal tribes which I have seen. Tall well-made men are
occasionally seen; but these almost invariably show decided traces of
a Papuan or new Guinea origin, being easly distinguished by the
"thrum" like appearance of the hair, which is of a somewhat reddish
tinge, occasioned no doubt by constant exposure to the sun and
weather. The color of their skin is also much lighter, in some
individuals approaching almost to a copper color. The true
Australian aborigines are perfectly black, with generally woolly
heads of hair; I have however, observed some with straight hair and
features prominent, and of a strong Jewish cast. The body is marked
on each shoulder with a shield-like device, and on each breast is
generally a mark in shape of a heart, very neatly executed. The
large cicatrices which appear on the bodies of the tribes of Southern
Australia are not used here; nor is a front tooth taken out at the
age of puberty. The 'septum' of the nose is pierced, and the
crescent-shaped tooth, of the dugong is worn in it on state
occasions; large holes are also made in the ears, and a piece of wood
as large as a bottle cork, and whitened with pipe clay, is inserted
in them. A practise of cutting the hair off very close is followed
by both sexes, seemingly once a year, and wigs are made of the hair.
These are decorated with feathers, and worn at the 'corrobories' or
gatherings. The women hold, if possible, a more degraded position
than that generally assigned to them among the Australian aborigines.
They are indeed wretched creatures. The only covering worn by them
is a narrow belt of twisted grass, with a fringe of strips of palm
leaves in front. the men go entirley naked. The aborigines make no
huts. In the wet weather a rude screen of leafy boughs, with palm
leaves -- if any happen to grow in the neighbourhood -- is set up as
a shelter.

14. The arms used by these natives are few and simple. Four sorts
of spears, made from the suckers of a very light wood tree with large
pith, headed with hard wood and generally topped with bone so as to
form a point or barb, are the most common. The end of the tail of a
species of ray fish is sometimes used as a point. It is serrated and
brittle, and on entering any object breaks short off. It is said to
be poisonous, but I do not believe such to be the case, as one of the
marines stationed here was speared in the shoulder with one of these
spears, and no poisonous effect was produced. The point which broke
short off, however, remained in the wound, and could not be extracted
for many months. The spear most commonly in use, and the most
effective, has merely a head of very hard wood, from a species of
acacia, scraped to a very fine sharp point. These are the only
spears which can be thrown with any precision to a distance -- they
are sent with considerable force. I extracted two from the thigh of
one of my horses; the animal had another in the shoulder, which had
entered to a depth of five and a half inches. All spears are thrown
with the 'wommera', or throwing stick. A rudely made stone tomahawk
is in use among the Cape York natives, but it is now nearly
surperseded by iron axes obtained from the Europeans. I have seen no
other weapons among them; the boomerang and nulla-nulla (or club) are
not known.

15. The greatest ingenuity which the natives display is in the
construction and balancing of their canoes. These are formed from
the trunk of the cotton tree ('Cochlospermum') hollowed out. The
wood is soft and spongy, and becomes very light when dry. The canoes
are sometimes more than fifty feet in length, and are each capable of
containing twelve or fifteen natives. The hull is balanced and
steadied in the water by two outrigger poles, laid athwart, having a
float of light wood fastened across them at each end -- so that it is
impossible for them to upset. A stage is formed on the canoe where
the outriggers cross, on which is carried the fishing gear, and,
invariably, also fire. The canoes are propelled by short paddles, or
a sail of palm-leaf matting when the wind is fair. Considerable
nicety is also shown in the making of fishing lines and hooks. The
former are made from the fibres of a species of climber very neatly
twisted. The fish-hooks are made of tortoise-shell, or nails
procured from wreck timber. They are without barbs, and our
fish-hooks are eagerly sought for in place of them.

16. The food of the natives consists chiefly of fish, and, in the
season, turtle, with roots and fruits. These latter and shell-fish
it is the business of the females to collect and prepare. They may,
however, be truly said to be omnivorous, for nothing comes amiss to
them, and the quantity they can consume is almost incredible. I have
seen them luxuriating on the half putrid liver of a large shark cast
up on the beach, the little black children scooping up the filthy
oil, and discussing it with apparently the greatest gusto.

17. These remarks apply to the four tribes which inhabit the
territory within the limits mentioned at the commencement of this
report -- viz., the peninsula to the northward of the Kennedy River.
These four tribes are not distinguishable from each other in any
distinct peculiarity that I can perceive. They keep each to their
own territory, except on the occasion of a grand "corroborie," when
the whole assemble. They are at present on terms of peace nominally.
Should a safe opportunity of cutting off a straggler offer, I have no
doubt it would be taken advantage of. They are cowardly and
treacherous in the extreme. The "Gudang" tribe, claiming the land
from Cape York to Fly Point, at the entrance of Albany Pass, is small
in numbers, having, I fancy, been seriously thinned by their
neighbours, the "Kororegas," from the Prince of Wales' Island, in
Torres' Straits, who frequently come down upon them. Paida, Mr.
M'Gillivray's 'kotaiga' (friend), was not long since killed by them.
The "Goomkoding" tribe, who live on the north-western shore, I have
seen little of. They and the "Gudang" seem to hold most
communication with the islanders of 'Torres' Straits, the
intermixture of the races being evident. "Kororega" words are used
by both these tribes, and the bow and arrow are sometimes seen among
them, having been procured from the island. The "Yadaigan" tribe
inhabit the south side of Newcastle Bay and the Kennedy River; the
"Undooyamo," the north side. These two tribes are more numerous than
the two first-mentioned, and appear to be of a more independant race
than the others, and gave us much trouble on our first settlement, by
continual thefts and otherwise. The tract of country which they
inhabit is nearly covered with the densest scrub and with swamp, into
which they took refuge with their booty as soon as any depredation
was committed, so as to render it next to impossible for us to pursue
them. These four tribes together do not number in all more than 250
to 300 men.

18. All these people are much addicted to smoking. Tobacco is used
by them in preference when it can be got. Before its introduction,
or when it was not procurable from Europeans, the leaves of a large
spreading tree, a species of 'Eugenia', was, and is still used.
These leaves must possess some strong deleterious or narcotic
property. I was for some time puzzled to assign a cause for so many
of the natives being scarred by burns. Nearly every one shows some
marks of burning, and some of them are crippled and disfigured by
fire in a frightful manner. They smoke to such excess as to become
quite insensible, and in that state they fall into their camp-fires,
and receive the injuries mentioned. The pipe used is a singular
instrument for the purpose. It is a hollow bamboo about 2 1/2 feet
long, and as thick as a quart bottle; one of the smoking party fills
this in turn with smoke from a funnel-shaped bowl, in which the
tobacco is placed by blowing it through a hole at one end of the
tube. When filled it is handed to some one who inhales and swallows
as much of the smoke as he can, passing the pipe on to his neighbour.
I have seen a smoker so much affected by one dose as to lie helpless
for some minutes afterwards.

19. Thus much for the general appearance and habits of the Cape
York natives. A very accurate vocabulary of their language has been
published by Mr. M'Gillivary in his account of the voyage of H.M.S.
Rattlesnake. Of their superstitions I am unable to speak with
certainty. That they have no belief in the existence of a Supreme
Being is, I think, positive. They are, like all the Australian
tribes, averse to travelling about at night if dark; this, I believe,
chiefly arises from the inconvenience and difficulty of moving about
at such times, and not from any superstitious fear. They travel when
there is moonlight. They are true observers of the weather, and
before the approach of a change move their camps so as to obtain a
sheltered position. They do not seem to give the slightest thought
to cause or effect, and would, I believe eat and pass away their time
in a sort of trance-like apathy. Nothing appears to create surprise
in them, and nothing but hunger, or the sense of immediate danger,
arouses them from their listlessness.

20. I am aware of the great interest taken by his Excellency the
Governor and all the members of the Government of Queensland in the
promotion of missionary enterprise. I much fear, however, that the
mainland here will be found but a barren field for missionary labors.
One great obstacle to successful work is the unsettled nature of the
people. No inducement can keep them long in one place. Certainly a
missionary station might be formed on one of the neighbouring islands
-- Albany or Mount Adolphus Island, for instance, where some of the
young natives might be kept in training, according to the system used
by Bishops Selwyn and Patterson for the instruction of the

21. With the Kororegas or Prince of Wales Islanders, who, from
constant communication with the islands to the northward, have
acquired a higher degree of intelligence than the pure Australians, I
believe a successful experiment could be made. Missionary enterprise
beyond the protection and influence of this new settlement at
Somerset would, of course, at present be attended with considerable

22. To the Banks and Mulgrave Islanders in Torres' Straits, a
similar remark will apply. Those people, however, seem to be of a
more savage nature, although intelligent, and giving considerable
attention to the cultivation of yams, bananas, etc. Both the good
and bad features in their characters may, I believe, in a great
measure be attributed to the strong influence exercised among them by
a white man, called by the natives "Wini," who has been living there
for many years. This man, who is supposed to be an escaped convict
from one of the former penal settlements in Australia, no doubt
considers it politic to keep Europeans from visiting the island where
he resides, "Badu". The natives of Cape York hold him and the Banks
Islanders generally in the greatest dread, giving me to understand
that all strangers going to these islands are killed, and their heads
cut off. The latter appears to be the custom of these and the
neighbouring islands towards their slain enemies.

23. The natives of the islands more to the northward and eastward
are said to be of milder dispositions, especially the Darnley
Islanders -- of whom Captain Edwards, of Sydney, who had a
"Bech-de-mer" fishing establishment there during the last year,
speaks in high terms as being of friendly dispositions and displaying
very considerable intelligence, living in comfortable huts and
cultivating yams, bananas, coconuts, etc., in considerable
quantities. Among these islanders I should think missionaries might
establish themselves without great difficulty, and with a
satisfactory result.

24. I think that the simple fact of a settlement of Europeans being
established at Cape York will very much tend to curb the savage
natures of the natives, not only of the mainland, but also of the
islands, and any unfortunates who may be cast among them from
shipwrecked vessels will, at all events, have their lives spared; and
I believe that, should such an event take place, I should soon hear
of it from the natives here. The communication between the islanders
and the natives of the mainland is frequent, and the rapid manner in
which news is carried from tribe to tribe to great distances is
astonishing. I was informed of the approach of H.M.S. Salamander on
her last visit two days before her arrival here. Intelligence is
conveyed by means of fires made to throw smoke up in different forms,
and by messengers who perform long and rapid journeys.

25. I should like much to send one or two of the Cape York natives
to Brisbane to remain there a short time. I believe that the reports
which they would bring back to their tribe of the wonders seen among
the white men would tend more than any other means to promote
friendly feelings towards us, and to fit their minds to receive
favourable impressions.

26. From what I have previously said of the soil here, it will be
seen that no large portion of it is suited for agriculture. Even
were the land good, the peculiar climate, which may be considered dry
for eight months in the year, would not permit satisfactory
cultivation to any large extent. During the rainy months, from
December to April, vegetables suitable to the temperature may be
grown in abundance.

27. Of the agreeableness and salubrity of the climate of Somerset, I
can not speak too favorably. The wet season commenced here last year
(1864) with the month of December, and continued till the latter part
of March. During that time the rain was intermittent, a day or two
of heavy wet being succeeded by fine weather. The winds from the
north west were light, and falling away to calm in the evening and
night. During this season the highest range of my thermometer was 98
degrees in the shade; but it very rarely exceeds 90 degrees, as may
be seen from Dr. Haran's meteorological sheets. During the calms
immediately succeeding wet the heat was disagreeable, and mosquitoes
appeared, but not numerously. The nights were invariably cool. The
weather for the remaining seasons of the year may be termed
enjoyable. A fresh bracing breeze from the south east blows almost
continually, the thermometer averaging during the day from 80 to 85
degrees. This temperature, with the cool nights, (sufficiently so to
render a blanket welcome) and delightful sea bathing, prevent any of
the lassitude or enervating influence so common to tropical climates
elsewhere from being felt at Somerset.

28. During the time of my residence here no serious indisposition
has occurred among the European residents. Occasional slight attacks
of illness generally traceable to some cause, has taken place, but as
far as can be judged there is no 'local malady'. There has been no
symptom of fever or ague, which it was apprehended would be prevalent
during the rainy season, as in other hot countries. Dr. Haran, R.N.,
(the naval surgeon in charge) reports very favorably of the salubrity
of the climate. I have every reason to believe with Dr. Haran, that
at no very distant period, when steam communication through Torres
Straits shall have been establish, Somerset will be eagerly sought by
invalids from the East as an excellent and accessible sanatorium.

29. At all events, there can be no doubt but that the new settlement
will fulfil admirably the objects for which it was founded, 'i.e.', a
port of call and harbor of refuge for trade in the dangerous
navigation of Torres Straits, and a coal depot for steamers.

30. I almost fear that in the foregoing remarks it may be considered
that on some subjects I have entered too much into details, while on
others my notices have been too slight. I have endeavored, as much
as possible, to confine myself to subjects of interest, and you may
rely on my statements as the result of personal observation. Should
there be any particular point on which the Government may require
more specific information, I shall be most happy, if it be in my
power, to afford it.

I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,




Somerset, May 1, 1865.

Sir, -- Since the date of my last report the most important
intelligence which I have to communicate is the arrival of my sons,
Frank and Alexander Jardine, with their overland party, all safe and
well, after an extremely arduous and toilsome journey of five months,
almost entirely over country which for the greater part may be termed
barren, the distance travelled over being somewhat more than 900

2. The party, consisting of my two sons and four other Europeans
(including Mr. Surveyor Richardson, attached to the expedition by the
Government of Queensland), with four aborigines of the Rockhampton
district, made their final start from Mr. J. G. McDonald's station,
Carpentaria Downs, in latitude 18 deg. 37 min 10 sec S., longitude
144 deg. 3 min 30 sec. E, (the farthest out-station on the supposed
Lynd River), on the 11th of October, 1864, and reached this place on
the 13th of March, ult. Rockhampton was the first point of
departure, my second son leaving it, with the horses and men, on the
16th of May, 1864, making the journey for them about 1800 miles.

3. It would appear from the journals kept that a great portion of
the country on the west coast of the York Peninsula, especially in
the locality of the Mitchell River, is at times (I presume
periodically) subject to inundation; the water, however, soon
disappears from the flat and sandy land, and for the greater portion
of the year, till the next rainy season, the country is destitute of
water, and in other respects little better than an absolute desert.

4. It is a subject of great regret to myself, and in which I am sure
you will share, that this long journey should be, so far as at
present appears, productive of so poor a result to the public in
developing new resources to the colony. However, a large and
valuable addition to geographical information has certainly been
gained; but at the same time few of the important discoveries in
lands suitable for pastoral or agricultural occupation, or in
minerals, etc., etc., and which might in so large a tract of country
have reasonably been expected, have been made.

5. My sons have experienced a severe disappointment to their hopes
and expectations in the nature of the country around, and within a
reasonable distance of this place, as well as a heavy loss in
prosecuting their undertaking. However at their ages, 23 and 21
respectively, the spirit is very buoyant, and they are again quite
ready for another venture. Their journey, which, from the nature of
the country traversed, has been one of unusual difficulty and
hardship; and it is surprising to me that, hampered as they were with
a herd of 250 cattle, for which providing food and water in a barren
and unknown country is in itself no easy matter, they should have
come through so successfully.

6. Next to the general barrenness of the country, the difficulties
they had to encounter were -- first, the destruction of a quantity of
their supplies and gear, through the camp being carelessly permitted
to catch fire during their absence in pioneering the route. Next,
the determined hostility of the natives, who were almost continually
on their track, annoying them on every favorable opportunity; on one
occasion, the crossing of the "Mitchell," opposing them so
obstinately that a considerable number were shot before they would
give way. Then the loss of two-thirds of their horses (all the best)
from eating some poisonous plant, and which necessitated the last 300
miles of the journey being travelled on foot; and last, the flooded
state of the country during the season of the rains. And I think it
is not too much for me to say, that nothing but a thorough knowledge
of their business, supported by determined energy, could have carried
them through what must be considered one of the most arduous tasks in
exploration on record.

7. I will not attempt in the small space of a letter to give you
more full particulars of the journey and its incidents. Mr. Surveyor
Richardson has, of course, his journal and maps of the route as
directed by the government, and from these, with the information
gained by my sons in their numerous "offsets" in search of the best
courses to follow, which will be placed at the disposal of the
Government, I believe a pretty accurate idea of the nature of the
country on the west coast of the York Peninsula may be gathered.

8. My sons have at present formed their station near Point Vallack,
on the north shore of Newcastle Bay, between two or three miles from
the settlement of Somerset. They are on good terms with the natives,
and their black servants fraternise with them, but are kept under
strict rule. The natives of Cape York from the first have shown a
friendly feeling towards them, having, on their first arrival, met
them about twenty miles from the settlement, and shown them the
nearest way to it, and they have since been very useful in carrying
timber to build huts, stockyards, etc., etc; and I believe that for
the future, if well treated, they will offer no annoyance to the
present settlers. The establishment of a cattle station in the
neighborhood is of great advantage to the settlement, serving as an
outpost to secure its safety, and in opening up the country, besides
affording a ready supply of fresh meat. Already my sons and their
blacks have cut good passages through the scrub to the settlement,
and also through the various belts of scrub dividing their station
from open grounds; so that now a large extent of country can be
'ridden' over without obstruction.

9. I have little else of importance to communicate. The affairs of
this settlement have gone on slowly but steadily. The several works
left unfinished are, under the charge of the acting foreman, Private
Bosworth, Royal Marines, (and of whom I can speak most highly for his
attention and work), completed, with the exception of the Custom
House, which is well advanced.

10. The natives are on good terms with us, and work for us in
various ways, being duly paid in food, tobacco, etc.

11. On the 23rd ultimo there was a slight shock of an earthquake
felt distinctly by myself and other persons here. It occurred in the
afternoon, about two o'clock, was accompanied by a rumbling sound,
but lasted little more than a minute. The health of the royal
Marines, and all other residents at the settlement, continues to be
very good, as will be seen from the report of the surgeon Dr. Haran,
R.N. I have the honor to be, Sir,

Your most obedient servant,


To the Hon. the Colonial Secretary, Brisbane.



Somerset, May 22, 1865.


It affords me much pleasure to have again to forward to your Excellency
a most favourable report of the climate of this settlement, and of the
uninterrupted good health of our small community, military and civil.
the dreaded summer season, with its calms, light winds and heavy rains,
has passed off without causing a single case of sickness, attributable
to noxious exhalations, which prevail at that season in most tropical
climates, but which, in my opinion, cannot exist here, owing to the
preventive causes enumerated in my letter of the 13th January last;
neither have we experienced that oppressiveness of the atmosphere which
its saturated condition at that season through the sun's direct
influence in favoring evaporation in the surrounding seas would lead one
to expect. Some slight oppressiveness was felt immediately before the
rains, but speedily disappeared on their occurrence. I can only account
for this valuable immunity by attributing it to some peculiarity of
climate, in all probability to the same causes which counteract the
evolution of noxious exhalations; for we did experience calms and very
light winds, and the hygrometer during the greater part of the time
indicated a very large amount of moisture in the atmosphere.

2. The meteorological sheets forwarded by this opportunity, contain full
particulars regarding the winds, temperature, etc., for the last four
months, and having been prepared from a series of observations,
conducted with care and regularly registered, they cannot fail, amongst
other important objects bearing on general climatology, to afford
convincing proof that, as a climate, even during the summer season, that
of Somerset, although in close proximity to the equator, possesses many
advantages not attainable in higher latitudes, and is, in my opinion,
from its mildness and equable character, especially suited for such as
may have the misfortune to be predisposed to, or suffering from,
pulmonary consumption.

3. The S.E. Trade ceased as a continuous wind in these seas on the 24th
December last. Calms, light winds, from all points of the compass, but
chiefly from the points between North and West to South, or against the
sun's course, and heavy rains, with electric phenomena of a
comparatively mild character, succeeded and persisted until the 11th of
March; when the sun's more direct influence having been diverted from
its course, and in a manner dissipated by the great heat and
evaporation, again resumed its ascendancy, and has continued since
without interruption.

4. On the 25th of January two of the Marines were seized with a severe
headache and other suspicious symptoms while working in the sun during a
calm; and I consider it my duty at once to recommend such alteration in
the working hours as would protect the men from sun-exposure during its
period of greatest heat. These alternations were adopted, and continued
in force until the 22nd of March, when the former working hours were
resumed, as no danger was apprehended from solar heat at any time of the
day during the prevalence of the S.E. Trade wind.

5. One well-marked case of scurvy became developed at the end of
January; and a few of several cases of cutaneous eruption under
treatment at the time closely resembled the symptoms characteristic of
that disease. the only anti-scorbutic dietary available,
viz.,--preserved meats and potatoes, compressed vegetables and lemon
juice, was issued at once, and continued on the salt-meat days for three
weeks, when all the indications of scurvy having disappeared, the usual
dietary was resumed. Since then the entire adult community have enjoyed
very good health.

I am, etc.,

T. J. HARAN, Surgeon, R.N.

His Excellency, Governor Sir G.F. Bowen, G.C.M.G.



Spelling errors and typos listed below are as shown in the paper text
and have been copied into the electronic text.


The footnote in the INTRODUCTION does not have a referent in the text --
there is no asterisk in the text. It is not clear whether the
'settlement' it refers to as having been abandoned is at Adam Bay or in
Western Australia.

P ix - 'loosing' instead of 'losing'
P xi - re-placed


There are several words in this chapter which do not conform to today's
spelling, but which appear in the paper text as copied:
p 1 - faciliate
p 3 - agreable
p 5 - speers
p 5 - Gaala Creek - (should be Galaa Creek)
p 5 - discription
p 7 - amunition


P 9 - amunition
P 9 - earthern
P 9 - cheifly
P 10 - stoney
P 10 - occuring
P 11 - villanous
P 11 - vestage
P 16 - potatoe
P 16 - oppossum
P 17 - apparantly
P 18 - despatch
P 18 - amunition
p 19 - muscles - probably should be 'mussels'
p 19 - (about 18 miles.... - no closing bracket
p 23 - a cawbawn saucy - should probably be 'as cawbawn....
p 23 - agressors
p 24 - succeded
p 24 - 'where' instead of 'were'
p 24 - 'frighened' instead of 'frightened'
p 26 - emeu
p 27 - double and single quotes on "Ferguson,' don't match
p 27 - 'spenifex' instead of 'spinifex'

P 30 - too (too days)
P 30 - dilirious
P 32 - carcase
p 32 - indispensible
P 32 - chissel
P 33 - 'these' should probably be 'they'
p 33 - pigmy
P 34 - agreably
P 34 - a-head
P 35 - degnified
P 36 - 'course' instead of 'coarse'
P 37 - steadilly
P 37 - abondoned
p 37 - wirey
P 38 - cheifly
p 38 - seives
P 38 - permenantly
p 39 - occuring
P 40 - frightended
P 40 - bythe (all one word)
P 40 - gratuitious


P 42 - they (no capital on beginning of sentence)
P 43 - horses (no possessive apostrophe)
P 43 - varities
P 44 - varities
p 44 - gulley
p 46 - sheild
p 48 - agressor
p 49 - peices
p 50 - bitcher plant -- (instead of pitcher plant?)
p 50 - pelluced


p 59 - 'course sandstone' -- should probably be 'coarse'
p 63 - a-head
p 64 - the latitude measurements seem to have reversed the signs for
minutes and seconds in measuring latitude. I have spelled out the words.
p 67 - 'meet' instead of 'meat'
p 68 - 'eat' instead of 'ate'
p 69 - horsmen
p 69 - admonitary
p 70 - Lichhardt
p 70 - retreiver
p 70 - mocassins


p 72 - distention
p 73 - 'gotting' should be 'getting'?
p 73 - exhiliration


p 75 - weeps the stream -- should be 'sweeps the stream'? or was the
author being poetic?
p 77 - SPINIGEX -- should be 'Spinifex'
p 77 - genuis -- genus
p 77 - neverthless
p 77 - loosing - losing
p 78 - vigilence
p 79 - Thozets' - Thozet's
p 82 - easly - easily
p 82 - entirley
p 83 - surperseded


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