Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia, Vol 2 (of 2)
Part 5 out of 8
A beautiful species of Baeckea, with downy leaves and rose-coloured
flowers resembling those of the dwarf almond.*
(*Footnote. B. alpina, Lindley manuscripts; tota pubescens, foliis
lineari-ovatis petiolatis obtusis concavis, pedicellis axillaribus et
terminalibus foliis longioribus supra medium bibracteatis: bracteis
oppositis obovatis cucullatis, laciniis calycinis cordatis obtusis
petalis denticulatis duplo brevioribus, antheris apice verruciferis.)
A new Pultenaea allied to P. biloba, but more hairy and with the flowers
half concealed among the leaves.*
(*Footnote. P. montana, Lindley manuscripts; foliis obcordatis muticis
lobis rotundatis supra scabris utrinque ramulisque hirsutis, capitulis
solitariis terminalibus sessilibus foliis parum longioribus, calycibus
villosis laciniis subulatis appressis.)
A new species of Bossiaea which had the appearance of a rosemary bush,
and differed from all the published kinds in having linear pungent
(*Footnote. B. rosmarinifolia, Lindley manuscripts; ramis teretibus
villosis, foliis linearibus pungentibus margine revolutis supra glabris
subtus pallidis pilosis, floribus solitariis axillaribus.)
A beautiful new and very distinct species of Genetyllis, possessing
altogether the habit of a Cape Diosma, the heath-like branches being
terminated by clusters of bright pink and white flowers.*
(*Footnote. G. alpestris, Lindley manuscripts; ramulis piloso-hispidis,
foliis linearibus tetragonis scabro-pilosis, capitulis sessilibus
terminalibus nudis rachi lanata, tubo ovarii pentagono pubescente,
sepalis petalis pluries brevioribus, stigmate glaberrimo.)
Several species of Grevillea, particularly a remarkable kind with leaves
like those of a European holly, but downy.*
(*Footnote. G. aquifolium, Lindley manuscripts propria; foliis oblongis
extra medium incisis: lobis triangularibus apice spinosis; adultis super
glabratis: subter mollibus pubescentibus, racemis pedunculatis, calycibus
villosis, ovario hirsutissimo, stylo glabro.)
Another fine new species with leaves like those of a European oak.*
(*Footnote. G. variabilis, Lindley manuscripts propria; incana, foliis
cuneatis angulatis oblogisve basi cuneatis pinnatifidis sinuatis
angulatisque subtus tomentosis lobis mucronatis triangularibus vel
rotundatis, racemis tomentosis pedunculatis.)
And a third with brownish red flowers and hoary leaves; varying from an
erect straight-branched bush to a diffuse entangled shrub.*
(*Footnote. G. alpina, Lindley manuscripts Ptychocarpa; foliis
lineari-oblongis tomentosis muticis margine revolutis supra subtus pilis
appressis sericeis, racemis paucifloris, pistillis basi hirsutissimis,
calycibus ferrugineis tomentosis. alpha, ramis erectis, foliis
longioribus angustioribus. beta, ramis diffusis intricatis, foliis
brevioribus nunc mollibus nunc supra scabris.)
Lastly a new Leucopogon, besides that found on the summit as already
(*Footnote. L. rufus, Lindley manuscripts; ramulis foliis que subtus
pubescentibus, foliis ovatis acuminatis apice spinosis erectis concavis
supra laevigatis subtus striatis margine laevibus, floribus subsolitariis
sessilibus axillaribus, barba corollae cinnamomea.)
ON THE APPLICATION OF NAMES.
In adding this noble range of mountains to my map I felt some difficulty
in deciding on a name. To give appellations that may become current in
the mouths of future generations has often been a perplexing subject with
me, whether they have been required to distinguish new counties, towns,
or villages, or such great natural features of the earth as mountains and
rivers. I have always gladly adopted aboriginal names and, in the absence
of these, I have endeavoured to find some good reason for the application
of others, considering descriptive names the best, such being in general
the character of those used by the natives of this and other countries.
Names of individuals seem eligible enough when at all connected with the
history of the discovery or that of the nation by whom it was made. The
capes on the coast I was then approaching were chiefly distinguished with
the names of naval heroes and, as such capes were but subordinate points
of the primitive range, I ventured to connect this summit with the name
of the sovereign in whose reign the extensive, valuable, and interesting
region below was first explored; and I confess it was not without some
pride as a Briton that I more majorum* gave the name of the Grampians to
these extreme summits of the southern hemisphere.
Procedo, et parvam Trojam, simulataque magnis
Pergama, et arentem Xanthi cognomine rivum,
Agnosco. Aen. lib 3.)
REPOSE IN THE VALLEY.
We reached the banks of the little river where the horses awaited us in
three hours, the distance being eight miles from the summit of Mount
William. There we found a large fire and, under a wide spreading
casuarina during a delightful interval of about twenty minutes, I enjoyed
the pleasures of eating, sleeping, resting, and warming myself, almost
all at the same time. To all who would know how to enjoy most intensely a
good fire, shelter, sunshine, and the dry soft turf I would recommend, by
way of whet, a winter night on a lofty mountain, without fire, amidst
frost-covered rocks and clouds of sleet. I shall long remember the
pleasure of those moments of repose which I enjoyed on my arrival in the
warm valley after such a night. We could afford no longer delay however,
having brought provisions only for one day with us, whereas this was the
morning of the third of our absence from the camp. Retracing our steps we
reached the little river only at eight in the evening and, as I hoped to
find a ford in it at daylight, we lay down on its bank for the night.
I slept on a snug bit of turf within two feet of the stream; so that the
welcome murmur of its rippling waters assisted my dreams of undiscovered
rivers. As soon as morning dawned I succeeded in finding a ford on that
branch across which we swam our horses on the 13th. We thus met with less
cause of delay and reached the camp at an early hour, with excellent
appetites for breakfast.
NATIVES AT THE CAMP DURING MY ABSENCE.
Two natives had visited the party during my absence and had slept by the
fires. They had been at cattle stations and could say "milk." They
consequently approached our camp boldly, and during the night showed much
restlessness, endeavouring to decoy the gins away with them. But The
Widow gave the alarm, and very properly handed over these insidious
wooers to the especial surveillance of the man on duty. Notwithstanding
they were vigilantly watched they contrived to steal a tomahawk, and went
off leaving their wooden shovels at our camp, saying they should return.
I had now several men on the sicklist, but under the treatment of
Drysdale, our medical attendant, they speedily recovered.
Plains of stiff clay.
Difficult passage of its five branches.
Ascend Mount Zero.
Circular lake, brackish water.
The Wimmera in a united channel.
Lose this river.
Ascend Mount Arapiles.
Mr. Stapylton's excursion northward.
Green Hill lake.
Relinquish the pursuit of the Wimmera.
The party travels to the south-west.
Small lakes of fresh water.
Basketwork of the natives.
Muddy state of the surface.
Mr. Stapylton's ride southward.
Disastrous encounter of one man with a native.
A tribe makes its appearance.
More lakes of brackish water.
Escape at last from the mud.
Encamp on a running stream.
Discovery of a good river.
Passage of the Glenelg.
Country well watered.
Soft soil again impedes the party.
Halt to repair the carts and harness.
Natives very shy.
Slow progress over the soft surface.
Excursion into the country before us.
Beautiful region discovered.
The party extricated with difficulty from the mud.
PLAINS OF STIFF CLAY.
The ground on the sides of the low hills was still so soft (and in this
respect I had found the country we had lately crossed even worse than
that previously traversed by the carts) that the only prospect which
remained to us of being able to continue the journey was by proceeding
over the plains extending along the interior side of the Grampians of the
South. The soil of such plains consisted chiefly of clay, and we had
recently found that it bore the wheels of the waggons much better during
the winter season than the thin and loose soil on the sides of hills;
apparently because this lay on rock, or a substratum so tenacious as to
support the water in or just under the surface. The wheels and also the
feet of the cattle sunk at once to this rocky subsoil whatever its depth,
and up came the water, so that on level parts our track resembled a ditch
of mud and water, and on slopes it formed a current of water and a drain
from the sides of hills. I had observed the plains during my
reconnaissance of the interior from the side of Mount William, and I now
directed our course towards them. We crossed without difficulty the
little river by the passage Mr. Stapylton had prepared during my absence
and, after travelling about four miles first west and then north-west, we
came upon an extensive plain. The soil consisted of good strong clay on
which the cattle travelled very well, and it was covered with the best
kind of grass. On reaching it I resumed my former course which was nearly
west-south-west towards Mount Zero, a name I applied to a remarkable cone
at the western extremity of the chain of mountains. After travelling 2
1/2 miles over the plain we again reached the banks of Richardson's
creek, and forded it after some delay and considerable difficulty on
account of the softness of the bottom. We next entered on a tract of
grassy forest land, the trees being chiefly box and casuarinae. At 2 1/2
miles beyond Richardson's creek we crossed a small run of water flowing
west-north-west, apparently towards it. After passing over similar ground
for some miles further and having had another plain on our right, we at
length encamped near a large serpentine pond or lake which was broad,
deep, and bordered with lofty gum trees.
We continued for five miles along good firm ground on which there was
open forest of box and gumtrees; and part of the bold outline of the
Grampians appeared to our left.
At nine miles we fell in with a flowing stream, the water being deep and
nearly as high as the banks. I did not doubt that this was the channel of
the waters from the north side of these mountains, and I was convinced
that it contained the water of all the streams we had crossed on our way
to Mount William, with the exception of Richardson's creek, already
crossed by the party where it was flowing to the north-west. The richness
of the soil and the verdure near the river, as well as the natural beauty
of the scenery could scarcely be surpassed in any country. The banks were
in some places open and grassy and shaded by lofty yarra trees, in others
mimosa bushes nodded over the eddying stream.
Continuing along the right bank in a north-west direction we travelled
two miles on a grassy plain; and we then turned towards the river,
encamping on its banks in latitude 36 degrees 46 minutes 30 seconds
South, longitude 142 degrees 39 minutes 25 seconds East. Magnetic
variation 5 degrees 21 minutes 45 seconds East.
Some natives being heard on the opposite bank, Piper advanced towards
them as cautiously as possible; but he could not prevail on them to come
over, although he ascertained that the name of the river was the Wimmera.
DIFFICULT PASSAGE OF ITS FIVE BRANCHES.
On examining the Wimmera with Piper's assistance I found that it was
fordable in some places; but in order to effect a passage with greater
facility we took over several of the loads in one of the boats. Thus the
whole party had gained what I considered to be the left bank by ten A.M.
On proceeding I perceived some yarra trees before me which grew, as we
soon discovered, beside a smaller branch, the bottom of which was soft.
We had however the good fortune to pass the carts across this branch
also. At a quarter of a mile further we came upon another flowing stream,
apparently very deep and having steep but grassy banks. The passage of
this occupied the party nearly two hours, one of the carts having sunk up
to the axle in a soft bank or channel island. While the men were
releasing the cart I rode forward and found a FOURTH channel, deep, wide,
and full to the brim. In vain did Tally-ho (trumpeter, master of the
horse, etc. to the party) dash his horse into this stream in search of a
bottom; though at last one broad favourable place was found where the
whole party forded at a depth of not more than 2 1/2 feet. Beyond these
channels another similar one still obstructed our progress; but this we
also successfully forded, and at length we found rising ground before us,
consisting of an open plain which extended to the base of the mountains.
On its skirt we pitched our tents at a distance of not quite one mile and
a half from our last camp; a short journey certainly, but the passage of
the five branches of the Wimmera was nevertheless a good day's work. I
had frequently observed in the Australian rivers a uniformity of
character throughout the whole course of each, and the peculiarities of
this important stream were equally remarkable, it being obviously the
same we had crossed in three similar channels when on our way to Mount
William, twenty miles above this point. The shrubs on the banks at the
two places were also similar.
ASCEND MOUNT ZERO.
While Mr. Stapylton conducted the party across the plains in a
west-south-west direction I proceeded towards Mount Zero, the most
western extremity of the mountain range and distant from our camp 8 1/2
miles. I found this hill consisted also of highly micaceous sandstone;
the whole being inclined towards the north-west. Having planted my
theodolite on the summit I intersected various higher points to the
eastward, and also a very remote, isolated hill on the low country far to
the northward which I had also seen from Mount William, and from several
stations on our route. Several specimens of shrubs and flowers that had
not been previously seen by us were gathered on the sides of this rocky
hill. Among them was a very singular hairy Acacia covered with a
profusion of the most brilliant yellow flowers. In some respects it
resembled A. lanigera, but it proved upon examination to be undescribed.*
(Footnote. A. strigosa, Lindley manuscripts; glanduloso-hirsuta,
phyllodiis linearibus v. lineari-oblongis obovatisque uninerviis
eglandulosis apice rotundatis mucronatis obliquis, stipulis subulatis
villosis, capitulis solitariis sessilibus.)
An isolated mass appeared to the westward, having near its base a most
remarkable rock resembling a mitre. Beyond this the distant horizon was
not quite so level as the plains of the interior usually are and, as far
as I could see northward with a good telescope, I perceived open forest
land and various fine sheets of water. I observed with great satisfaction
that the Grampians terminated to the westward on a comparatively low
country. This was an important object of attention to me then as it
comprised all that intervened between us and the southern coast; in which
direction I perceived only one or two groups of conical hills. I resolved
however, before turning southwards, to extend our journey to the isolated
mass already mentioned, which I afterwards named Mount Arapiles. After
descending from Mount Zero I proceeded towards the track of the carts and
found that the plains, unlike any hitherto seen, undulated so much that
in one place I could perceive only the tops of trees in the hollows. On
these plains I found small nodules of highly ferruginous sandstone,
apparently similar to that which occurs near Jervis Bay and in other
places along the eastern coast.
CIRCULAR LAKE, BRACKISH WATER.
Reaching at length a low green ridge of black soil very different from
that of the plains, I found it formed the eastern bank of another of
those remarkable circular lakes of which I had seen so many near the
Murray. The bed of this hollow consisted of rich black earth and was
thirty-two feet below the level of the adjacent plain. It seemed nearly
circular, the diameter being about three-quarters of a mile. One
peculiarity in this lake was a double bank on the eastern side consisting
first of a concentric break or slope from the plain, the soil not being
clay as usual, but a dry red sand; and then arose the green bank of black
earth, leaving a concentric fosse or hollow between. A belt of yarra
trees grew around the edge of this singular hollow which was so dry and
firm that the carts, in the track of which I was riding, had traversed it
without difficulty. I learnt from Mr. Stapylton, on reaching the camp,
that the party had previously passed near two other lakes, the largest
containing salt water; and in the neighbourhood of these he had also
remarked a great change of soil; so that what with the verdure upon it,
the undulating surface, and clumps of casuarinae on light soil, or lofty
yarra trees growing in black soil, that part of the country looked
THE MACKENZIE AND THE NORTON.
At a quarter of a mile from the camp we crossed a running stream which
also contained deep and apparently permanent pools. Several pine or
callitris trees grew near its banks being the first we had seen for some
time. I named this mountain stream the Mackenzie. Beyond it were grassy
undulating plains with clumps of casuarinae and box trees (eucalypti). At
three miles and a half we crossed another chain of ponds, and at four
miles we came to a deep stream, running with considerable rapidity over a
bed of sandstone rock. It was overhung with mimosa-bushes; and it was not
until after considerable search that I could find a convenient place for
fording it. This I named the Norton. Good grassy hills arose beyond, and
after crossing them we found an undulating country and sandy soil where
there were shallow lagoons and but little grass.
THE WIMMERA IN A UNITED CHANNEL.
At nine miles I was aware, from the sloping of the ground, of the
vicinity of a river; and we soon came once more upon the Wimmera, flowing
in one deep channel nearly as broad as the Murrumbidgee, but in no other
respect at all similar. The banks of this newly discovered river were not
water-worn but characterised by verdant slopes, the borders being fringed
with bushes of mimosae. The country was indeed fine adjacent to the
Wimmera, and at the point where we came to it the river was joined by a
running creek from the south which we crossed, and at two miles and a
quarter further we encamped on a spot overlooking a reedy lagoon, from
which some long slopes descended towards the river, distant from our camp
about half a mile. When we thus again intersected the Wimmera I was
travelling due west, partly with a view to ascertain its ultimate course.
LOSE THIS RIVER.
The isolated hill lay before me, and it was now to be ascertained whether
the course of the stream was to the south or north of it. The appearance
of the country from Mount Zero certainly afforded no prospect of our
falling in with the river where we did, but at this camp Burnett, having
climbed to the top of a high tree, thought he could trace the course to
the southward of the hill before us, which bore nearly west. This
prospect accorded with my wishes, and I hoped to trace it to the coast
without deviating too far to the westward of my intended route.
A small stream from the south crossed our way when we had proceeded about
half a mile. At six miles and a half we met with another; and three miles
beyond it I perceived a change in the appearance of the country. We had
been for some time travelling through forest land which now opened into
grassy and level plains, variegated with belts and clumps of lofty trees
giving to the whole the appearance of a park. We had now the hilly mass
of Mount Arapiles on our right, or north of us, but to my surprise there
was no river flowing between us and those heights as I had reason to
suppose from what had been seen from the tree by Burnett. Turning towards
the north-west therefore and at last northward, we finally encamped on a
spot to the westward of the hill after a journey of sixteen miles. Much
of the ground near this hill was so soft that one of the carts could not
be brought in before midnight, although assisted by several teams sent
back from the camp. We were now encamped on a dark-coloured soil from
which arose the same peculiar smell that I had remarked at Cudjallagong
(Regent's Lake of Oxley). What had become of the Wimmera I could scarcely
imagine but, anxious to ascertain its course, I hastened before sunset to
a western extremity of the hill; but instead of the river, of which I
could see no trace, I beheld the sun setting over numerous lakes: the
nearest, two miles and a half to the northward, being apparently six
miles in circumference. It seemed to be nearly circular and a group of
low grassy hills formed a concentric curve around the eastern margin, and
from the total absence of any reeds, trees, or smoke of natives, it was
too obvious that the water was salt. From the spot where I then stood I
counted twelve such lakes, most of them appearing to have a
crescent-shaped mound or bank on the eastern side. This certainly was a
remarkable portion of the earth's surface, and rather resembled that of
the moon as seen through a telescope. The eastern and principal summit of
the hill was at some distance; and I returned to the camp in hopes of
being able to discover from that point in the morning some indication of
the further course of the Wimmera.
ASCEND MOUNT ARAPILES.
Having ascended the highest summit I counted from that height
twenty-seven circular lakes, two of the largest being about seven miles
to the north-east, the direction in which I expected to see the river.
Beyond these however I observed an extensive woody valley whence much
smoke arose, marking, to all appearance, the course of the Wimmera which
must have taken a turn in that direction, not far below the junction of
the last creek crossed by the party. Beyond that supposed bed of the
Wimmera the country appeared to be undulated, open, and grassy; and it
was probably covered with lakes similar to those on this side, for I had
observed from Mount Zero patches of water in that direction. From this
summit I had a good view of the Grampians of the South and, discovering
that a lofty range extended from them southward, I named it the Victoria
range having also recognised and intersected Mount William, distant 53
1/2 miles. I could see no high land to the westward, and the hill on
which I stood seemed to divide the singular lacustrine country from that
where the character of the surface was fluviatile. Mount Arapiles is a
feature which may always be easily recognised both by its isolated
position and by its small companion the Mitre Rock, situated midway
between it and the lake to the northward, which I named Mitre Lake after
the little hill, its neighbour. Like the mountains in the east Mount
Arapiles consists of sandstone passing into quartz, the whole apparently
an altered sandstone, the structure being in one part almost destroyed,
in others perfectly distinct and containing pebbles of quartz. At the
western extremity this rock occurs in columns, resembling, at a distance,
those of basalt. (See Plate 31.) On the steep slopes grew pines,
casuarinae, and a variety of shrubs among which we found a new species of
Baeckea, forming a handsome evergreen bush, the ends of whose graceful
branches were closely covered with small white delicate flowers.* This
mass occupies about two square miles, its highest summit being elevated
above Mitre Lake 726 feet. I ascended this hill on the anniversary of the
battle of Salamanca and hence the name.
(Footnote. B. calycina, Lindley manuscripts; glaberrima, foliis planis
sparse punctatis oblongo-cuneatis acutis, floribus pedicellatis
terminali-axillaribus, laciniis calycinis petaloideis petalis
longioribus. Near B. virgata.)
MR. STAPYLTON'S EXCURSION NORTHWARD.
While Mr. Stapylton rode northward in search of the Wimmera I proceeded
to examine and survey some of these remarkable lakes.
On the margin of one of them, bearing 55 1/2 degrees West of North from
our camp, a green hill of rather singular shape rose to a considerable
height above the surrounding country. I found the water in the lake
beside it shallow and quite salt. The basin was nearly circular though
partially filled with firm level earth which was water-worn at the brink,
its surface being about three feet higher than the water. This was
surrounded by a narrow beach of soft white mud or clay in which we found
no change on digging to the depth of several feet.
GREEN HILL LAKE.
The green hill was the highest of several semicircular ridges whose forms
may perhaps be better understood by the accompanying plan.* There was a
remarkable analogy in the form and position of all these hills; the form
being usually that of a curve, concentric with the lake, and the position
invariably on the eastern or north-eastern shores, a peculiarity I had
previously observed not only in the lakes near the banks of the Murray
but also in others on the Murrumbidgee and Lachlan where the ridge
consisted of red sand. The country on the western shore of these lakes
is, on the contrary, low and wooded like the surrounding country. In such
hills concretions of indurated marl frequently occur, but the earth they
consist of is sometimes light-coloured, in other cases very dark, like
the soil from trap-rock, and the ridges beside the lakes on the
Murrumbidgee, consisted of red sand.
(*Footnote. Having modelled this feature I have the satisfaction of
presenting to the reader the first specimen of a plan of ground worked
from a model by the anaglyptograph, an important invention recently
perfected in this country by Mr. Bates and likely to be of very
considerable value in the representation of the earth's surface under the
skilful management of Mr. Freebairn.)
The water of Mitre Lake was also salt,* but there were numbers of ducks
and black swans upon it. The western shore was low, and the soil where it
had been thrown up in the roots of fallen trees was nearly as white as
chalk. A gray rather fine quartzose sand occurred in some places; and
along the water's edge a very minute shell had been cast up in
considerable quantities by the waves.** The hills to the eastward of this
lake were arranged in a crescent around the basin, but this being
composed of a number of hills almost separate from each other had a less
regular or uncommon appearance, although they were apparently the remains
of a curve equally as symmetrical as the others. The basin of this lake
was very extensive but partly filled on the side next the low hills by a
level tract of dry land covered with a brown bush (Salicornia arbuscula
of Brown); and the concentric curves in which it grew, as if closing on
the lake, seemed to record its progressive diminution. The breadth of
this heathy-looking flat between the water and the crescent of low hills
was nearly half a mile. A small rill of fresh water oozed into the lake
from the sides of Mount Arapiles. The bed of this watercourse was soft
and boggy near the lake, so that I could cross only by going up its
channel much nearer to the hill and at a point where some rocks protruded
and prevented our horses from sinking.
(*Footnote. For Professor Faraday's analysis of these waters see below.)
(**Footnote. This was a truncatella, a saltwater shell of which there are
several species on the English and French coasts. The one found here has
been named by Mr. J. De Carl Sowerby T. filosa.)
Mr. Stapylton, in his search for the Wimmera, rode about six miles to the
northward without reaching the river, although he saw the valley through
which he thought it flowed; and where the river seemed likely to resume a
course to the southward of west. Upon the whole I think that the estuary
of the Wimmera will most probably be found either between Cape Bernouilli
and Cape Jaffa, or at some of the sandy inlets laid down by Captain
Flinders to the northward of the first of these capes. The country which
Mr. Stapylton crossed assumed the barren character of the lower parts of
the Murray. He actually passed through a low scrub of the Eucalyptus
dumosa; but I have no doubt that the country on the immediate banks of
the Wimmera continues good, whatever its course may be, even to the
RELINQUISH THE PURSUIT OF THE WIMMERA.
At all events I here abandoned the pursuit of that river and determined
to turn towards the south-west that we might ascertain what streams fell
in that direction from the Grampians; and also the nature of the country
between these mountains and the shores of the Southern Ocean.
THE PARTY TRAVELS TO THE SOUTH-WEST.
Proceeding accordingly about south-west, we crossed at less than a mile
from our camp the dry bed of a circular lake. The ground on the eastern
shore was full of wombat holes which had been made in a stratum of
compact tuff about a foot in thickness. The tuff was irregularly
cavernous and it was loose, calcareous, or friable in the lower part
where the wombats had made their burrows. On the opposite margin of this
dry lake the surface was covered with concretions of indurated marl; and
the burrows of the wombat were even more numerous there than in the other
bank; the stratum of compact tuff occurring also and being three feet in
At 2 1/4 miles we came upon the shores of Red lake which I so named from
the colour of a weed growing upon its margin. The lake was nearly a mile
in length and half a mile broad; the water was so slightly brackish that
reeds grew upon the borders which were frequented by many swans and
ducks. A very symmetrical bank overlooked the eastern shore, the ground
on the westward being low and wooded with the ordinary trees of the
country. We next crossed a flat of dry white sand on which banksia grew
thickly; and then we reached some low white sandhills on which were
stunted ironbark trees (eucalypti). In the higher part of those hills we
crossed a small dry hollow or lake which had also its bank on the eastern
SMALL LAKES OF FRESH WATER.
At the end of 5 1/2 miles we passed two small lakes of fresh water about
half a mile to the right and, soon after, another about the same distance
to the left. On completing seven miles we crossed a low ridge of white
sand on which grew stunted trees of stringybark and black-butted gumtrees
(both belonging to the genus eucalyptus). Beyond this we crossed a
country in which wet, reedy swamps of fresh water, white sandhills, and
fine flats of good forest land occurred alternately. Towards the end of
our day's journey, the barren sandhills seemed to prevail, but at length
we descended from them rather suddenly to a smooth firm plain, clothed
with the finest grass and on the edge of this we pitched our tents for
We proceeded through a thick fog and found the plain studded with clumps
of casuarinae. About a mile from the camp we came upon an extensive swamp
or lake, full of grass and rushes. Turning this by the left we crossed
some more good country, and then reached the banks of an extensive
lagoon, also full of green rushes and water. The western bank was high
and consisted of rich grassy land, very open; a small stream of water
fell into the lake on the north-west side, and another on the south-east.
It was surrounded by lofty gum trees and had a wood on the south and
east. We met with sandhills and stunted timber beyond. They enclosed a
long grassy flat covered with water, stretching away to the south-east.
We next entered on a fine flat of forest land bounded by a low ridge with
Callitris pyramidalis, or pine trees.
From this I perceived a circular lake a little to our right and on riding
to it I found the water salt and of a very white colour. No trees grew on
the margin and the surrounding scene was so dreary that it resembled a
mountain-tarn. Two solitary ducks were upon it, apparently of a species
new to us, but this I could not ascertain, having had only my rifle with
me and, the cap missing fire, I lost even that chance of killing them.
The bed of the lake also consisted of a very white marl. A high
semicircular bank swept round the eastern shore; that opposite, or
towards the west being low and swampy. On that side I saw two natives at
a distance making the best of their way to the southward. We had this day
noticed some of their huts which were of a very different construction
from those of the aborigines in general, being large, circular, and made
of straight rods meeting at an upright pole in the centre; the outside
had been first covered with bark and grass and then entirely coated over
with clay. The fire appeared to have been made nearly in the centre; and
a hole at the top had been left as a chimney. The place seemed to have
been in use for years as a casual habitation.
BASKETWORK OF THE NATIVES.
In this hut the natives had left various articles such as jagged spears,
some of them set with flints; and an article of their manufacture which
we had not before seen, namely, bags of the gins, very neatly wrought,
apparently made of a tough small rush. Two of these also resembled
reticules and contained balls of resin, flints for the spearheads etc.
The iron bolt of a boat was likewise found in one of these huts. The
natives invariably fled at our approach, a circumstance to be regretted
perhaps on account of the nomenclature of my map; but otherwise their
flight was preferable to the noisy familiarity of the natives of the
Darling, perplexing us between their brands of defiance and treacherous
invitations to dance. Indeed the two regions were as different in
character as the manners of their respective inhabitants. Instead of
salsolaceous deserts and mesenbryanthemum we now found a variety of
everything most interesting in a newly discovered country. Every day we
passed over land which for natural fertility and beauty could scarcely be
surpassed; over streams of unfailing abundance and plains covered with
the richest pasturage. Stately trees and majestic mountains adorned the
ever-varying scenery of this region, the most southern of all Australia
and the best. Beyond the White lake, which may be the distinguishing name
of the last mentioned, we passed over several tracts of open forest land
separated by dry sandhills, and at length encamped on a rich flat.
MUDDY STATE OF THE SURFACE.
The cattle were very much fatigued from the heaviness of the draught
owing to the extreme softness of the surface, especially on the more open
forest lands; and one bullock-driver remained behind with a cart until we
could send back a team by moonlight to his assistance.
NATIVES AND THE BULLOCK-DRIVER.
The cart which had fallen behind came in about three o'clock in the
morning. The natives had soon been heard about the solitary driver, and
four of them came up to him and demanded tomahawks; but being an old
bushranger, he, on their approach, laid out all his cartridges one by one
before him on a tarpaulin with his pistol and carabine, ready for action;
but fortunately his visitors did not proceed to extremities. The morning
was very foggy and, as this weather did not admit of my choosing a good
line of route, and as the surface of the country was so soft that it was
imperatively necessary to look well before us, I halted. I could thus at
least bring up my maps and journals and rest the jaded cattle after so
much long-continued toil in travelling through the mud.
MR. STAPYLTON'S RIDE SOUTHWARD.
I directed Mr. Stapylton to ride in the direction of 30 degrees West of
South (my intended route) and ascertain whether we were approaching any
river. The country we were in, being still lacustrine, I hoped to find
the surface more favourable for travelling upon where it was drained by
rivers; for on that amongst the salt lakes, although the land was very
good in point of fertility, there was evidently a deficiency of slope and
consequently much more water retained in the soil. Still the ground
presented undulations, being rarely quite level like the plains except
indeed in the beds of swamps. Recent experience had taught us to avoid
the very level parts and to seek any kind of rising ground. The hills we
occasionally fell in with consisted of white sand, and at first looked
like connected ridges where we might find streams; but we ascertained
that they always parted without enclosing any channels and left us in the
mud. The sand itself still consisted of the same rock (decomposed) which
appeared to be so generally spread over the country then between us and
the eastern shores of New Holland. Mr. Stapylton did not return this
evening, a circumstance which very much alarmed me as he had taken only
one man with him and was to have come back before sunset.
Supposing that Mr. Stapylton had gone past our camp in returning, the
afternoon having been very rainy, I this morning sent out two parties,
the one to proceed east, the other west, in search of his track which, if
found by either, was to be followed until he was overtaken. Mr. Stapylton
returned however before midday, having ridden twenty miles in the
direction pointed out without having seen any river. He had passed a
number of circular lakes similar to those already described; the seventh
and most remote having appeared the largest. Just then as he turned his
horse he perceived that the land beyond became higher, indicating a
change of country. The party which had gone eastward heard our signal
shot on Mr. Stapylton's arrival and returned, having also seen four
similar lakes; but the party sent westward did not reach the camp until
some hours after the other.
DISASTROUS ENCOUNTER OF ONE MAN WITH A NATIVE.
They had unfortunately come upon some huts of the natives, where one of
them remained and who, refusing to listen to Piper's explanations, was
about to hurl his spear at Pickering, when this man, at Piper's desire,
immediately fired his carabine and wounded the native in the arm. I
regretted this unlucky collision exceedingly and blamed Pickering for
having been so precipitate; but his defence was that Piper told him
unless he fired he would be instantly speared.
We endeavoured to proceed today in a direction more to the eastward than
the route of Mr. Stapylton, in the hope of finding firmer ground than he
had seen, by following that which was highest and sandy. But even in this
way we could not accomplish five miles and a half, although the last of
the carts did not arrive at the spot where we were at length compelled to
re-encamp until long after it became dark. The wheels sank up to the
axles, and the cattle from wallowing in the mud had become so weak as to
be scarcely able to go forward when unyoked, much less to draw the laden
carts. I had with difficulty found a spot of firm ground where we could
encamp, but during that evening I had reconnoitred a more
favourable-looking line which I meant to try in the morning.
A TRIBE MAKES ITS APPEARANCE.
Soon after we commenced this day's journey, while I was watching in some
anxiety the passage of a soft hollow by the carts, a man was sent back by
the chaining party to inform me that a number of natives had come before
them pointing their spears. On going forward I found they had retired,
having probably with their usual quickness of perception observed the
messenger sent back and guessed his errand.
JUST REMONSTRANCE OF A TRIBE.
But their conduct as I then explained it to the men was quite reasonable
on this occasion. One (I was told) had spoke very loud and fast, pointing
west towards where the man had been fired at the day before and then,
touching his shoulder in allusion to the wound, he finally poised his
spear at Blanchard as if in just resentment.
PLANT OF A NEW GENUS.
While awaiting the slow progress of the carts through the mud I found a
most curious new genus allied to Correa, with the habit of C. speciosa,
and with long tubular four-petaled green flowers. It had been previously
observed by Mr. Cunningham, who called it Sida correoides; it was however
not a Sida, nor even a Malvaceous plant, but a new form of Australasian
Rutaceae, differing from Correa in having the petals each rolled round a
pair of stamens in its quadripartite conical calyx, and in there being
constantly two seeds in each cell of the fruit.*
(*Footnote. Didimeria aemula, Lindley manuscripts; undique pilis
stellatis lutescentibus furfuracea. Rami stricti. Folia subrotunda
cordata obtusa opposita brevi petiolata, pellucido-punctata. Pedunculi
axillares, filiformes, uniflori, supra medium bracteolis 2 subulatis
acuti. Calyx conicus, membranaceus, 4-partitus: laciniis acuminatis.
Petala 4, longissima, distincta, linearia, convoluta circa staminum
paria, extus tomentosa intus glabra. Stamina 8, hypogyna; filamentis
liberis, lineari-lanceolatis, membranaceis, alternis brevioribus;
antheris sagittatis inappendiculatis. Stylus filiformis glaber. Discus 0.
Capsula 4-cocca, villosissima, coccis dispermis, endocarpio solubili;
seminibus uno supra alterum positis.)
MORE LAKES OF BRACKISH WATER.
By pursuing a course towards the base of the friendly mountains I hoped
that we should at length intercept some stream, channel, or valley where
we might find a drier soil and so escape, if possible, from the region of
lakes. We could but follow such a course however only as far as the
ground permitted and, after travelling over the hardest that we could
this day find for a mile and a half, I discovered a spacious lake on the
left, bounded on the east by some fine-looking green hills. These
separated it from a plain where I found the ground firm, and also from
several smaller lakes to the right of my intended route. I accordingly
proceeded along the ground between them, and I found that it bore the
wheels much better than any we had recently crossed. The lakes were
however still precisely similar in character to those of which we had
already seen so many. The water in them was rather too brackish to be fit
for use, and the ridges were all still on the eastern shores. From the
highest of these ridges the pinnacled summits of the Victoria range
presented an outline of the grandest character. The noble coronet of
rocks was indeed a cheering object to us after having been so long half
immersed in mud. We had passed between the lakes and were proceeding as
lightly as we could across the plain when down went the wheel of a cart,
sinking to the axle, and the usual noise of flogging (cruelty which I had
repeatedly forbidden) and a consequent delay of several hours followed.
ESCAPE AT LAST FROM THE MUD.
In the meantime I rode to some grassy hills on the right, and found
behind them on the south-west another extensive lake on which I saw a
great number of ducks. Its bed consisted of dark-coloured mud and the
water was also salt. The green hills before mentioned were curiously
broken and scooped out into small cavities much resembling those on
Green-hill Lake near Mount Arapiles. The plain rose gradually towards the
east to some scrubby ground nearly as high as these hills and, in a fall
beyond this scrub, I found at length to my great delight a small hollow
sloping to the south-east and a little water running in it.
ENCAMP ON A RUNNING STREAM.
Following it down I almost immediately perceived a ravine before me, and
at a mile and a quarter from the first fall of the ground I crossed a
chain of fine ponds in a valley, where we finally encamped on a fine
stream flowing to the south-west over granite rocks.*
(*Footnote. Consisting of white felspar and quartz and silvery mica.)
Thus suddenly were we at length relieved from all the difficulties of
travelling in mud. We had solid granite beneath us; and instead of a
level horizon the finely rounded points of ground presented by the sides
of a valley thinly wooded and thickly covered with grass. This transition
from all that we sought to avoid to all we could desire in the character
of the country was so agreeable that I can record that evening as one of
the happiest of my life. Here too the doctor reported that no men
remained on the sick-list, and thus we were in all respects prepared for
going forward and making up for so much time lost.
DISCOVERY OF A GOOD RIVER. THE GLENELG.
We now moved merrily over hill and dale, but were soon however brought to
a full stop by a fine river flowing, at the point where we met it, nearly
south-west. The banks of this stream were thickly overhung with bushes of
the mimosa, which were festooned in a very picturesque manner with the
wild vine. The river was everywhere deep and full and, as no ford could
be found, we prepared to cross it with the boats. But such a passage
required at least a day and, when I saw the boats afloat, I was tempted
to consider whether I might not explore the further course of this river
in them and give the cattle some rest. It was likely, I imagined, soon to
join another where we might meet with less obstruction. During the day
everything was got across save the empty carts and the boat-carriage, our
camp being thus established on the left bank. One bullock was
unfortunately drowned in attempting to swim across, having got entangled
in the branches of a sunken tree which, notwithstanding a careful search
previously made in the bottom of the stream, had not been discovered.
The river was here, on an average, 120 feet wide and 12 feet deep.
Granite* protruded in some places, but in general the bold features of
the valley through which this stream flowed were beautifully smooth and
swelling; they were not much wooded but on the contrary almost clear of
timber and accessible everywhere. The features were bold and round but
only so inclined that it was just possible to ride in any direction
without obstruction; a quality of which those who have been shut up among
the rocky gullies of New South Wales must know well the value. I named
this river the Glenelg after the Right Honourable the Secretary of State
for the Colonies, according to the usual custom.
(*Footnote. This granite varied consequently in the size of its component
parts which sometimes, especially in quartz and felspar, exceeded a foot
square, and in this I found distinctly imbedded friable masses,
apparently of sandstone, but which proved to consist of a very
fine-grained grey granite, approaching in character to mica-slate.)
PASSAGE OF THE GLENELG.
The first part of this day was taken up in dragging the carts and
boat-carriage through the river. At one P.M. I embarked in the boats,
taking in them a fortnight's provisions and leaving Mr. Stapylton in a
strong position with nine men, the stores, and the cattle. We proceeded
for two miles without encountering much obstruction, but we found on
going further that the river ran in several channels, all of these being
overgrown with bushes, so that it was not without great difficulty that
we could penetrate about a mile farther by the time it had become nearly
quite dark. It was no easy matter to push through the opposing branches
even to reach the bank. Many similar branches had been cut during this
day's navigation, Woods, Palmer and most of the other men having been
more in the water than in the boats during the last mile. Every article
having been at length got to land, we encamped on the side of a steep
hill for the night, and I made up my mind to resume our land journey next
day unless I saw the river more favourable ahead. By the banks of the
Glenelg we found a stiff furze-like bush with small purple flowers, spiny
branches, and short stiff spiny leaves. It proved to be a new Daviesia
allied to D. colletioides.* Bossiaea cordifolia, a hairy shrub with
beautiful purple and yellow flowers, was common.
(*Footnote. D. brevifolia, Lindley manuscripts; glabra, ramis rigidis
strictis apice spinescentibus, foliis conicis spinosis subrecurvis,
racemis foliis duplo longioribus, bracteolis obovatis cucullatis.)
COUNTRY WELL WATERED.
There was a noble reach a quarter of a mile below the point to which we
had brought the boats, and it was terminated by a rocky fall which we had
heard during the night. Beyond that point the river turned southward and,
this being the direction of our intended journey, I perceived that we
could more conveniently in less time pursue its course by land. The
country on its banks was, as far as I could see, the finest imaginable,
either for sheep and cattle or for cultivation. A little rill then
murmured through each ravine:
Whose scattered streams from granite basins burst,
Leap into life, and sparkling woo your thirst.
But it was in returning along a winding ridge towards the camp that I was
most struck with the beauty and substantial value of the country on the
banks of this river. It seemed that the land was everywhere alike good,
alike beautiful; all parts were verdant, whether on the finely varied
hills or in the equally romantic vales which seemed to open in endless
succession on both banks of the river. No time was lost this morning in
raising the boats out of the water and, having proceeded myself to the
camp at an early hour, and led the carts round, and the carriage to take
up the boats, the whole party was once more in movement by eleven
o'clock. As far as I had yet traced the course of the river it appeared
to flow towards the west-south-west, and it was thus doubtful, at that
stage of our progress, whether the estuary might not be to the westward
of Cape Northumberland; whereas my chief inducement in looking for a
river on this side of the Grampians was the promising situation afforded
by the great bay to the eastward of that cape for some harbour or
estuary, and this being more likely, considering the position of the
mountains. I had little doubt that under such circumstances some river
would be found to enter the sea there and, having left the Wimmera
flowing westward, and crossed as I imagined the highest ground that could
extend from the mountain range to Cape Bernouilli, I expected to meet at
length with rivers falling southward. The ultimate course of the Glenelg
could only be ascertained by following it down, and to do this by land
was not easy; first because it was joined by many small tributaries
flowing through deep valleys and from all points of the compass; and
secondly, because the general horizon was so level that no point
commanding any extensive view over the country could be found. Thus while
our main object was to pursue the river, we were obliged to grope our way
round the heads of ravines often very remote from it, but which were very
perplexing from their similarity to the ravine in which the main stream
flowed. A more bountiful distribution of the waters for the supply of a
numerous population could not be imagined, nor a soil better adapted for
cultivation. We this day crossed various small rivulets or chains of
ponds, each watering a grassy vale, sheltered by fine swelling hills. The
whole country consisted of open forest land on which grew a few gumtrees
(or eucalypti) with banksia and occasionally a few casuarinae.
FISHES PECULIAR TO DIFFERENT PONDS.
The ponds where we had encamped were large and deep, and I endeavoured to
ascertain whether the cod-perch (Gristes peelii) inhabited these waters.
Neither this fine fish nor either of the two others found in the streams
flowing towards the interior from the eastern coast range have ever been
seen in the rivers which reach the eastern shores; and I had now
ascertained that all the waters in which we had procured the fish in
question belonged to the extensive basin of the Murray. We were at length
on channels evidently distinct, both from those leading to the eastern
coast and those belonging to the basin of the Murray. The beds of the
rivers flowing to the east coast are chiefly rocky, containing much sand
but very little mud, consequently no reeds grow on their banks, nor is
the freshwater mussel found in them, as in rivers on the interior side,
which in general flow over a muddy bed and are not unfrequently
distinguished by reedy banks. Judging therefore from the nature of the
soil of this southern region, the fishes peculiar to the Murray might be
looked for in the rivers of the south, rather than those fishes known in
the rivers falling eastward. It was important to ascertain at least what
point of the coast separated the rivers containing different kinds of
fish. In these ponds we caught only some very small fry, and the question
could not be satisfactorily determined, although the natives declared
that none of them were the spawn of cod-perch.
It was no easy matter now to ascertain in what direction the waters of
the valley ran, but by the tendency of the hollows on each side they
appeared to decline in general to the left or northward. In proceeding on
our route, the heads of other similar ravines rendered our course very
intricate: to have been shut in between any such ravine and the river
must have been rather embarrassing, and seemed then almost inevitable. We
had the good fortune however to avoid this; and at length, keeping along
dry ground, a beautiful scene appeared on the left in an open valley
about two miles in width where the hills sloped gradually to the
confluence of two streams, brimful of water, which shone through some
highly ornamental wood. Both streams came from valleys of a similar
character; and beyond them I saw hills of the finest forms, all clothed
with grass to their summits and many entirely clear of timber.
A bronze-winged pigeon flew up just as I discovered the stream and, as
this bird had not been before seen by us on that side of the mountains, I
named the waters Pigeon ponds. we descended to that part of the valley
which lay in our proposed course and found that some of these ponds
rather deserved to be styled lakes. The soil was everywhere black and
SOFT SOIL AGAIN IMPEDES THE PARTY.
Proceeding over ground of a similar character we crossed several fine
streams, some flowing in shallow channels over rocks, others in deep
ravines. The ground on the higher parts was however still so soft as to
yield to the wheels, and very much impeded the progress of the party,
especially at one place where an extensive lake, full of reeds or rushes,
appeared to the right. The drays sunk to the axles, the whole of the soil
in our way having become so liquid that it rolled in waves around the
struggling bullocks. The passage of some of the streams could not be
accomplished until we had filled up the bed with large logs, covered them
with boughs, and strewed over the whole, the earth cut away from the
steep banks. Under such circumstances I considered six miles a good day's
journey, and indeed too much for the cattle. I halted for the night with
a small advanced party only on a fine little stream running over a rocky
bed; while the main body was compelled to remain with the carts several
miles behind, having broken, in the efforts made to extricate the carts
and boat-carriage, many of the chains, and also a shaft. The small river
I had reached ran in a bed of little width, but was withal so deep that
it seemed scarcely passable without a bridge. At the junction however of
a similar one, some rocks, favourably situated, enabled us to effect a
passage by bedding logs between them and covering the whole with branches
and earth, leaving room for the water to pass between.
HALT TO REPAIR THE CARTS AND HARNESS.
A halt was this day unavoidable, but the necessity was the less to be
regretted as the weather was very unfavourable. Indeed we had scarcely
seen one fine day for some weeks. Mr. Stapylton set out to trace the
rivulet downwards, and returned in the evening after having reached its
junction with the Glenelg at the distance of nine miles in a north-west
direction. The course of the river thus determined to that junction
appeared to be more to the westward than I had previously expected, and I
began again to think its estuary might still be to the westward of Cape
Northumberland, and this prospect induced me to alter our course. The
carts having come up about one P.M., the blacksmith was set to work and
wrought throughout the night to repair all the claw-chains.
NATIVES VERY SHY.
While other men were employed at the log-bridge some natives were heard
coming along the most southern of the two streams; whereupon Piper went
towards them as usual and found they were females with children; but from
the moment they discovered us until they were fairly out of hearing their
shrieks were so loud and incessant that it seemed, for once, our presence
in that country had been unknown to the surrounding natives, a proof
perhaps of the smallness of their numbers. In the evening other natives
(men) were heard approaching along the creek, and we at first supposed
they had come to that place as their rendezvous to meet the gins and
their families whom we had unwillingly scared; but Mr. Stapylton, during
his ride home along one side of the ravine, had observed four natives
very intent on following the outward track of his horses' hoofs on the
other; and these were doubtless the same men guided by his tracks to our
camp. They could not be brought to a parley however, although Piper and
Burnett at first invited them towards the camp and, when they set off,
pursued them across the opposite ridge.
On the bank of this little stream I found a charming species of
Tetratheca, with large rich purple flowers and slender stems growing in
close tufts about a foot high. It was perhaps the most beautiful plant we
met with during the expedition.*
(*Footnote. T. ciliata, Lindley manuscripts; caulibus erectis tomentosis
filiformibus, foliis oppositis verticillatisque obovatis ovatisque
ciliatis subtus glabris, pedicellis setosis, sepalis ovatis concavis
acutis, petalis obovatis.)
The passage of the rivulet which I named the Chetwynd, after Stapylton
who had explored it at considerable risk, was effected with ease by the
temporary bridge and we proceeded, soon crossing by similar means two
other running streams, probably tributaries to this.
SLOW PROGRESS OVER THE SOFT SURFACE.
When we had travelled four miles we came to a swamp where a considerable
current of water was flowing into it through some ponds; the margin of
this running water being broad, flat, and grassy, and having also lofty
gumtrees (white bark and eucalypti) growing on it. Unfortunately it was
so soft and rotten, as the men described it, that all the wheels sunk to
the axles and, although in such cases it was usual to apply the combined
force of several teams to draw each vehicle through in turn, we found
that the rising ground opposite was equally soft and yielding, so that
the cattle could have no firm footing to enable them to pull. It was
night before we could, with the strength of all the teams united by long
chains and yoked to each vehicle successively, bring the whole through,
the broad wheels of each cart actually ploughing to the depth of the axle
in soft earth; the labour of the cattle may therefore be imagined. We
encamped on a small barren plain much resembling a heath and just beyond
the swamp which had proved so formidable an impediment.
Our progress this day was still less than that made during the preceding
one for it did not much exceed a mile. To that distance we had proceeded
tolerably well, having crossed two small running brooks, and all appeared
favourable before us. But a broad piece of rising ground which, being
sandy with banksia and casuarinae trees on it, I had considered firm
proved so very soft that even my own horse went down with me and wallowed
in the mud.
EXCURSION INTO THE COUNTRY BEFORE US.
There was no way of avoiding this spot, at least without delay, and I
ordered the men immediately to encamp, being determined to go forward
with a party on horseback and ascertain the position of some point where
the ground was more favourable, and then to adopt such a mode of
extricating the carts and proceeding thither as circumstances permitted.
I took with me provisions for three days that I might explore the
country, if necessary, to the coast.
BEAUTIFUL REGION DISCOVERED.
I had not proceeded above five miles southward when I perceived before me
a ridge in bluey distance, rather an unusual object in that close
country. We soon after emerged from the wood and found that we were on a
kind of tableland and, approaching a deep ravine coming from our right
and terminating on a very fine-looking open country below, watered by a
winding river. We descended by a bold feature to the bottom of the ravine
and found there a foaming little river hurrying downwards over rocks.
After fording this stream with ascended a very steep but grassy
mountain-side, and on reaching a brow of high land, what a noble prospect
appeared! a river winding amongst meadows that were fully a mile broad
and green as an emerald. Above them rose swelling hills of fantastic
shapes, but all smooth and thickly covered with rich verdure. Behind
these were higher hills, all having grass on their sides and trees on
their summits, and extending east and west throughout the landscape as
far as I could see. I hastened to ascertain the course of the river by
riding about two miles along an entirely open grassy ridge, and then
found again the Glenelg, flowing eastward towards an apparently much
lower country. All our difficulties seemed thus already at an end, for we
had here good firm ground, clear of timber, on which we could gallop once
more. The river was making for the most promising bay on the coast (for I
saw that it turned southward some miles below the hill on which I stood)
through a country far surpassing in beauty and richness any part hitherto
discovered. I hastened back to my men in the mud and arrived before
sunset with the good news, having found most of the intervening country
fit for travelling upon. Thus the muddy hill which had before seemed
unsurmountable led to the immediate discovery of the true course of the
river, and prevented me from continuing my route into the great angle of
its course over unfavourable ground instead of thus reaching it so much
sooner by a much less deviation from the course I wished to pursue. I now
hoped to extricate the carts in the morning and henceforward to
accomplish journeys of considerable length.
THE PARTY EXTRICATED WITH DIFFICULTY FROM THE MUD.
It was in vain that I reconnoitred the environs of the hill of mud for
some portion of surface harder than the rest; and we could only extricate
ourselves by floundering through it. Patches of clay occurred but they
led only to places where the surface under the pressure of the cattle was
immediately converted into white and liquid mud. It was necessary to take
the loads from the carts and carry them by hand half a mile, and then to
remove the empty vehicles by the same means. After all this had been
accomplished the boat-carriage (a four-wheeled waggon) still remained
immovably fixed up to the axle-tree in mud in a situation where the block
and tackle used in hoisting out the boats could not be applied. Much time
was lost in our attempts to draw it through by joining all the chains we
possessed and applying the united strength of all the bullocks; but even
this was at length accomplished after the sun had set; the wheels, four
inches broad, actually cutting through to the full depth of the spokes.
On the eastern side of the hill the ground descended into a ravine where
it was grassy and firm enough; and it was a great relief to us all to
feel thus at liberty, even by sunset, to start next morning towards the
beautiful country which we now knew lay before us.
Cross various rivulets.
Enter the valley of Nangeela.
Native female and child.
Encamp on the Glenelg.
Cross the Wannon.
Mount Gambier first seen from it.
Sterile moors crossed by the party.
Natives numerous but not accessible.
Again arrive on the Glenelg.
Indifferent country on its banks.
Breadth and velocity of the river.
Encamp on a tributary.
The expedition brought to a stand in soft ground.
Reach a fine point on the river.
The carts extricated.
The whole equipment reaches the river.
The boats launched on the Glenelg.
Mr. Stapylton left with a depot at Fort O'Hare.
Character of the river.
Isle of Bags.
Arrival at the seacoast.
Mouth of the Glenelg.
Waterholes dug in the beach.
One fish caught in the Glenelg.
Return to the depot.
Difference in longitude.
CROSS VARIOUS RIVULETS.
Once more in a state of forward movement we crossed green hills and
running brooks until, when we had travelled nearly six miles from Muddy
Camp and had crossed six fine streams or burns, we met with a more
formidable impediment in the seventh. The sides of this ravine were so
uncommonly steep that our new difficulty was how to move the vehicles
down to the bank of the stream. In one place where a narrow point of
ground projected across, a passage seemed just possible; and after we had
made it better with spades we attempted to take a light cart over. The
acclivity was still however rather too much, and over went the cart,
carrying the shaft bullock with it, and depositing all my instruments
etc. under it in the bed of the stream. With travellers on roads this
might have been thought a serious accident, but in our case we were
prepared for joltings, and nothing was in the least degree injured;
neither was the animal hurt, and we ascertained by the experiment,
dangerous though it was, that still more was necessary to be done for the
passage of the heavy carts and boats which were still some way behind;
and I encamped on the bank beyond that the men might set about this work.
No time was lost in filling up the hollow with all the dead trees that
lay about and what others we could cut for the purpose; and thus before
sunset the three carts and one waggon were got across. The rocks in the
bed of this stream consisted of grey gneiss, and on the hills beyond it I
found nodules of highly ferruginous sandstone.
ENTER THE VALLEY OF NANGEELA.
By means of a block and tackle attached to a large tree the remaining
carts and the boat-carriage were safely lowered to the bed of the stream.
To draw them up the opposite bank was practicable only by uniting the
strength of several teams, yet this too was effected successfully and the
whole party were enabled to go forward in the morning. At a mile and a
half from the camp a scene was displayed to our view which gladdened
every heart. An open grassy country extending as far as we could
see--hills round and smooth as a carpet, meadows broad, and either green
as an emerald or of a rich golden colour from the abundance, as we soon
afterwards found, of a little ranunculus-like flower. Down into that
delightful vale our vehicles trundled over a gentle slope, the earth
being covered with a thick matted turf, apparently superior to anything
of the kind previously seen. That extensive valley was enlivened by a
winding stream, the waters of which glittered through trees fringing each
NATIVE FEMALE AND CHILD.
As we went on our way rejoicing I perceived at length two figures at a
distance who at first either did not see or did not mind us. They proved
to be a gin with a little boy and as soon as the female saw us she began
to run. I presently overtook her, and with the few words I knew prevailed
on her to stop until the two gins of our party could come up; for I had
long been at a loss for the names of localities. This woman was not so
much alarmed as might have been expected; and I was glad to find that she
and the gins perfectly understood each other. The difference in the
costume on the banks of the Wando immediately attracted the notice of the
females from the Lachlan. The bag usually carried by gins was neatly wove
in basketwork and composed of a wiry kind of rush. She of Wando carried
this bag fastened to her back, having under it two circular mats of the
same material, and beneath all a kangaroo cloak, so that her back at
least was sufficiently clothed, although she wore no dress in front. The
boy was supported between the mats and cloak; and his pleased and
youthful face, he being a very fine specimen of the native race,
presented a striking contrast to the miserable looks of his whining
mother. In the large bag she carried some pieces of firewood and a few
roots, apparently of tao, which she had just been digging from the earth.
Such was the only visible inhabitant of this splendid valley resembling a
nobleman's park on a gigantic scale. She stated that the main river was
called Temiangandgeen, a name unfortunately too long to be introduced
into maps. We also obtained the gratifying intelligence that the whole
country to the eastward was similar to these delightful vales and that,
in the same direction, as Piper translated her statement, "there was no
more sticking in mud." A favourable change in the weather accompanied our
fortunate transition from the land of watery soil and dark woody ravines
to an open country. The day was beautiful; and the balmy air was
sweetened by a perfume resembling hay which arose from the thick and
matted herbs and grass. Proceeding along the valley the stream on our
left vanished at an isolated rocky hill; but, on closer examination, I
found the apparent barrier cleft in two, and that the water passed
through, roaring over rocks. This was rather a singular feature in an
open valley where the ground on each side of it was almost as low as the
rocky bed of the stream itself. The hill was composed of granular felspar
in a state of decomposition; the surrounding country consisting chiefly
of very fine-grained sandstone. It is not easy to suppose that the river
could ever have watered the valley in its present state and forced its
way since through that isolated hill of hard rock; as to believe that the
rock, now isolated, originally contained a chasm, and afforded once the
lowest channel for the water before the valley now so open had been
scooped out on each side by gradual decomposition. Another rivulet
approached this hill, flowing under its eastern side and joining the
Wando just below. According to my plan of following down the main river
it was necessary to cross both these tributaries.
ENCAMP ON THE GLENELG.
In the open part of the valley the channels of these streams were deep
and the banks soft; but at the base of the hill of Kinganyu (for such was
its name) we found rock enough and, having effected a passage there of
both streams that afternoon, we encamped after travelling about three
miles further on the banks of the Glenelg once more. Our route lay
straight across an open grassy valley at the foot of swelling hills of
the same description. Each of these valleys presented peculiar and very
romantic features, but I could not decide which looked most beautiful.
All contained excellent soil and grass, surpassing in quality any I had
seen in the present colony of New South Wales. The chase of the emu and
kangaroo, which were both numerous, afforded us excellent sport on these
fine downs. When about to cross the Wando I took my leave of the native
woman before mentioned, that she might not have the trouble of fording
the river, and I presented her with a tomahawk of which our females
explained to her the use, although she seemed still at a loss to conceive
the meaning of a present. The use of the little hatchet would be well
enough known however to her tribe so, leaving her to return to it and
assuring her at the same time of our friendly disposition towards the
natives, we proceeded.
The left bank of the principal stream was very bold where we reached it
on this occasion, but still open and covered with rich turf. The right
bank was woody and this was generally its character at the other points
where we had seen the Glenelg. It was flowing with considerable rapidity
amongst the same kind of bushes we had met with above, but they did not
appear so likely here to obstruct the passage of boats.
On the plains we found a singular acacia, the leaves being covered with a
clammy exudation resembling honey-dew. It differed from A. graveolens in
its much more rigid habit, shorter and broader leaves, and much shorter
(*Footnote. A. exudans, Lindley manuscripts; ramis crassis rigidis
angulatis leviter pubescentibus, phyllodiis oblongo-lanceolatis
mucronatis oblique binerviis viscido-punctatis basi obsolete glandulosis,
capitulis 1-2 axillaribus, pedunculis lanatis, bracteolis rigidis acutis
pubescentibus alabastris longioribus (capitulis echinatis).)
Passing along the bank of the river under the steep grassy hills which
consisted of very fine-grained, calcareous sandstone, we began two miles
on to ascend these heights; as well to avoid a place where they closed
precipitously on the Glenelg as to gain a point from which I hoped to
command an extensive view of its further course, and so cut off some of
the windings. From that point, or rather on riding through the woods to
some distance beyond it, I perceived that the river was joined by another
coming from the south-east through an open country of the finest
character. Below their junction the principal river disappeared on
passing through a woody range, and turned towards the south-west.
JUNCTION OF THE WANNON.
Nothing could be seen beyond the crest which seemed a very predominant
feature bounding the fine valley of the Wannon on the south. By turning
round the eastern brow of the high ground on which we then were we gained
a long ridge of smooth grassy land, leading by an easy descent from this
height to the junction of the rivers. This high ground was thickly wooded
with stringybark trees of large dimensions, and a few other eucalypti,
together with banksia and casuarinae. The soil there was soft and sandy
and the substratum contained masses of ironstone. The shrubs upon the
whole reminded me of those in the wooded parts of the sandhills on the
shores of Port Jackson. Smoke arose from various parts of the distant
country before us; and we perceived one native running at prodigious
speed across the plain below.
CROSS THE WANNON.
On reaching the banks of the Wannon we found it a deep flowing stream,
about half as large as the river itself. We succeeded in finding a ford
and crossed after cutting away some bushes and levelling the banks.
Beyond the Wannon we travelled 2 3/4 miles over a portion of very fine
country and encamped in a little vale in the bosom of a woody range, the
western side of which overhung the river at the distance of two miles.
A fine clear morning gave full effect to the beauty of the country which
I now saw to the eastward from a hill near our camp. The summit of the
Victoria range crowned the distant landscape; and the whole of the
intervening territory appeared to consist of green hills, partially
wooded. We crossed a mountain-stream by filling up its bed with logs and,
as we ascended the slopes beyond, we found the country grassy until we
reached the high and wooded crest. Lofty stringybark trees and other
timber grew there on a white sandy soil; but we found among the bushes
abundance of the anthisteria or kangaroo grass.
After travelling some miles beyond this crest we at length found the
ground sloping to the southward; and some swampy hollows with reeds in
them obliged us to turn to the right or south-west, as the water in these
depressed parts falling eastward, or to the left, showed that we were not
so very near the river, on the right, which I was endeavouring to follow.
We were delayed in several of these hollows by the sinking of the carts
We next traversed an extensive moor or heath on which the rising ground
was firm, and a little way beyond it some rising ground bounded our view.
On ascending this highest feature which I named the Rifle range I found
it commanded an extensive view over a low and woody country.
MOUNT GAMBIER FIRST SEEN FROM IT.
One peaked hill alone appeared on the otherwise level horizon and this
bore 68 degrees West of South. I supposed this to be Mount Gambier near
Cape Northumberland which, according to my survey, ought to have appeared
in that direction at a distance of forty-five miles.
STERILE MOORS CROSSED BY THE PARTY.
I expected to find the river on reaching the lower country beyond this
range; but instead of the Glenelg and the rich country on its banks we
entered on extensive moors of the most sterile description. They were
however firm enough for travelling upon, the surface being very level and
the soil a whitish sand. These open wastes were interrupted in some parts
by clumps of stringybark forest which entirely concealed from view the
extent of this kind of country. Swamps full of water and containing reeds
of a dark yellow colour at length became numerous; and although I
succeeded in pursuing a course clear of these obstacles, we were obliged
to encamp at twilight without having any immediate prospect of a better
country before us. There was however abundance of grass in these wet
swamps and our carts passed over one quite covered with water without
sinking. Our camp was marked out on a low hill of white sand on which
grew mahogany and stringybark trees of large dimensions. The ridge from
which we had descended now appeared continuous as far as we could see
NATIVES NUMEROUS BUT NOT ACCESSIBLE.
Much smoke arose from this lower country when we entered upon it and
after sunset the incessant calls of a native were heard near our camp as
if he had lost some comrade. I sent up a rocket that he might be
convinced we had not arrived by stealth as the tribes do when they
insidiously make war on each other, but he only reiterated his calls the
At daybreak the cries of the native were renewed. I then made Piper cooey
to him whereupon he became silent and I heard him no more, the natives of
that country being, as Piper expressed it "still very wild." This morning
we were on the march as soon as the sun rose, all being very anxious to
see the river again and a better country. At two miles we passed along a
sandy ridge between two extensive swamps; but at a mile and a half
farther I found at length a small hollow and water running in it, a
feature which convinced me at once that the river could not be very
distant. In the bank there was a thin stratum of shelly limestone bearing
a resemblance to some of the oolitic limestones of England; and in the
bed were irregular concretions of ironstone containing grains of quartz,
some of the concretions having externally a glazed appearance arising
from a thin coating of compact brown haematite.
AGAIN ARRIVE ON THE GLENELG.
Casuarinae and banksia growing on grassy slopes were the next marks of a
different country from that of the swamps, and at less than a mile from
this point we came upon the river.
INDIFFERENT COUNTRY ON ITS BANKS.
Its banks had a different character from that which they presented above
but they were still fine.
BREADTH AND VELOCITY OF THE RIVER.
The river now flowed in a narrow valley, the bed being about 70 feet
below the common level of the swampy flats. At sharp bends the banks
consisted of cliffs of a soft limestone, composed in part of comminuted
fragments of corallines, the interstices being rarely filled up; the rock
contained also a few specimens of Foraminifera, most probably of recent
species. In the narrow valley all was flourishing and green, attesting
the rich luxuriance of the alluvial soil. The mimosa trees predominated,
but still the bushes of leptospermum darkened the stream which was deep,
rapid, and muddy, its breadth being about 40 yards and the bed consisting
of a friable or soft calcareous sandstone. In accompanying it in its
course downward we met with less difficulty than I had expected, but I
perceived that the barren swampy land, or more frequently the stringybark
forests, approached the higher banks on both sides the river. The few
ravines falling in our way were only the drains from swamps close at hand
and they were easily crossed by the party at the fall of the ground,
where we found rocky strata.
ENCAMP ON A TRIBUTARY.
After tracing the river more than four miles we encamped on an elevated
point overlooking a flat of good grass, so necessary for the cattle.
Some of the bullocks were missing and we were compelled to wait an hour
or two while parties went in search of them; one party being guided by
Piper, the other by the two Tommies. I availed myself of the leisure
afforded by this delay to measure the breadth, depth, and velocity of the
river which were respectively as follows:
Average breadth: 35 yards.
Mean depth: 17 feet.
Velocity of the current: 1,863 yards per hour; the general course, as far
as we had traced this portion being nearly South-East.
When most of the cattle had been brought in we proceeded and, in
endeavouring to keep along the highest ground between the swamps, I
unavoidably left the river at some distance on our right, a circumstance
I considered of less consequence as the ground appeared to be falling on
my left towards some tributary; and at four miles we came upon a small
river flowing rapidly in a valley nearly as deep and wide as the main
stream. The country on its immediate bank looked better than that last
found on the main stream. Limestone rock appeared in the bank opposite
and at the foot of some cliffs we found fossil oyster-shells. Mr.
Stapylton traced this stream to its junction with the river about two
miles lower down.
Two bullocks were still missing and I had recourse to compulsory measures
with Piper and the man who lost them in order to find them again: I
declared that unless they were found Piper should have no provisions for
a week; and I condemned the man who lost them to be kept every second
night on watch during the remainder of the journey.
DIFFICULT PASSAGE OF THE STOKES.
The passage of the little river (which named the Stokes in memory of a
brother officer who fell at Badajoz) was not to be easily accomplished,
owing to the depth and softness of the alluvial soil through which it
flowed. One place passable on horseback was found after long search by
Mr. Stapylton and myself. Out of the bed of the stream at that part we
drew some dead trees and after two hours of great exertion the passage of
the boat-carriage and carts was effected, the latter sinking deeper in
the water than they ever had done in any river which we had previously
THE EXPEDITION BROUGHT TO A STAND IN SOFT GROUND.
We found the country beyond very intricate, being so intersected with
swamps draining off in all directions, and so divided by stringybark
forests, that it was next to impossible to avoid the soft swampy ground
or reach the riverbank again. We headed one deep ravine falling towards
it, and had indeed travelled in the desired direction about four miles
further on dry ground, but only by winding about as the swamps permitted
when at length the ground appeared to slope towards the river, being also
covered with the fine grass and the kind of trees which usually grew near
it. But this ground notwithstanding its firm appearance proved to be as
soft as that of Mount Mud; and it spread at length around us on all sides
except that from which we had approached it by so circuitous a route.
We had no alternative but to cross this bad ground and, after finding out
by careful examination the narrowest part, we prepared to puts to the
nearest firm ground beyond, an undertaking infinitely more difficult and
laborious to us than the passage of the broadest river. One of the carts
was with much labour taken across and, being anxious to know the actual
situation of the river, I rode southward into the wood taking with me the
chain or measuring men, and leaving the rest of the people at work in the
mud. I found much of the ground equally soft as I proceeded, but all
consisted of excellent open forest land covered with good grass. I found
there a woolly Correa, profusely covered with pink bell-shaped blossoms
and small round rufous leaves;* and the beautiful Kennedya prostrata was
climbing among the bushes and rendering them brilliant with its rich
(*Footnote. C. rotundifolia, Lindley manuscripts; ramulis rufis
villosissimis, foliis subrotundis brevi-petiolatis supra scabris subtus
villosis saepius emarginatis, corollis campanulatis brevibus
subtetrapetalis, calyce truncato rufo villosissimo.)
REACH A FINE POINT ON THE RIVER.
At length I approached a ravine on the left which I at first took for
that of the river; but I soon perceived through the trees on my right a
still greater opening, and there I at last found the valley of the
Glenelg. In the ravine to the left ran another small stream rather larger
than that crossed yesterday. We reached the bank of this at 2 3/4 miles
from the place where we left the party and at about half a mile above its
junction with the main stream. The high ground between the two streams
terminated in a round grassy promontory overlooking one of the finest
flats imaginable. I determined to endeavour once more to explore the
river's course with the boats; provided we should succeed in transporting
them over the mud to this spot; and I returned with this intention to the
muddy scene where I had left the men. It was quite dark before I found it
again and then they had succeeded in getting through only the three light
carts. I did not despair of accomplishing the passage, at least in the
course of time; but I was indeed impatient for daylight that I might
carefully examine with that view all parts of the country between our
camp and the place where I intended to launch the boats into the Glenelg
THE CARTS EXTRICATED BY PROCEEDING WITH GREAT CAUTION.
This morning it rained heavily and there was a balmy and refreshing
mildness in the air, probably owing to the vicinity of the sea. It
occurred to me that, as the ground appeared to slope towards the
south-east, we might reach some hollow on that side leading to the little
river we discovered yesterday; and that such a hollow would afford the
best chance of escape from the soft flats which now impeded us, since the
drainage they afforded to the immediate banks was likely to leave them at
least firm enough to be travelled upon. On this principle alone I
understood why the ground on the banks of the stream seen yesterday was
so firm; and I therefore hoped that the head of any ravine found near our
camp would lead by a dry though perhaps circuitous route first to the
tributary, and next by its bank to the point already mentioned where it
joined the Glenelg. I accordingly instructed Mr. Stapylton to examine the
ground in the direction proposed while I superintended the exertions of
the party to drag the boat-carriage through the mud. We finally succeeded
in this last effort and, just as I stood watching with joy the ascent of
the carriage to the firm ground beyond, Mr. Stapylton came to me with the
intelligence that he had found the head of a ravine and firm ground on
its bank in the direction where he had been. One bad place alone
intervened between our present position and the firm ground at the head
of the ravine but this Mr. Stapylton said was very bad indeed. By 10 A.M.
everything was got across the first swamp, the loads of all the carts
having been carried by the men. To the new difficulty mentioned by Mr.
Stapylton I therefore led them next, and we soon accomplished the passage
of the light carts; after which I proceeded, leaving to Mr. Stapylton the
management of the rest, having first brought the boat-carriage within
reach of the firm ground opposite by means of blocks and tackle attached
to trees and drawn by five bullocks. On going forward with the carts I
was guided altogether by the course of the ravine or gully, keeping along
the fall of the ground and so avoiding the softer soil above. Thus we
proceeded successfully for, although another ravine came in our way, I
managed to travel round its head near which I found a place where we
crossed the small watercourse it contained by filling up the chasm with
logs. On passing this we entered the stringybark forest which I had
traversed on the day previous; and I at length recognised through the
trees the hill from which I had seen the junction of the streams. A
tremendous hailstorm met us in the face just as we descended to encamp in
the valley near the bank of the river, but this troubled us but little
while we were up to the waist in the thickest crop of grass growing on
the richest black soil I had ever seen. Mr. Stapylton and Burnett came up
in the evening with the intelligence that the whole party had effected a
safe passage across the swampy ground; but that the wheels of the
boat-carriage and some of the carts had sunk deep in the earth where I
had previously crossed on horseback followed by the light carts without
leaving any impression, and that consequently they had made but little
progress beyond the camp.
I sent Burnett back with some spare bullocks to assist the people in
bringing on the carts and the boat-carriage, a man having been despatched
from them early to inform me that the carriage had again stuck fast.
Piper drew my attention to the sound of a distant waterfall which he said
he had heard all night and wished now to go down the river to look at. I
directed him to do so and to examine the river also still further if he
could, that he might bring back information as to how the boats might get
down the stream. On his return in the afternoon he stated that the river
was joined just below by several large streams from the left, and by one
still larger from the right which, falling on rocks, made the noise he
had heard during the night; also that on climbing a high tree he had seen
the river very large "like the Murray," adding that it was excellent for
boats. All this news only made me the more impatient to embark in them
while they were still afar on the muddy hills.
THE WHOLE EQUIPMENT REACHES THE RIVER.
The whole day passed without any tidings of their approach, and another
night had closed over us before I heard the distant calls of the
bullock-drivers; but I had the satisfaction soon after of seeing the
whole party and equipment again united on the banks of this promising
stream. The barometer was rising, the spring advancing, and the
approaching warmth might be expected to harden the ground. The cattle
would be refreshed by a week's rest in the midst of the rich pasture
around us, while our labours to all appearance were on the eve of being
crowned by the discovery of some harbour which might serve as a port to
one of the finest regions upon earth. At all events if we could no longer
travel on land, we had at length arrived with two boats within reach of
the sea, and this alone was a pleasing reflection after the delays we had
THE BOATS LAUNCHED ON THE GLENELG.
An uncommonly fine morning succeeded a clear frosty night. The boats were
hoisted out to be launched once on the bosom of the newly discovered
Glenelg; and they were loaded with what the party going with them might
require for ten days. I left with Mr. Stapylton instructions that the men
under his charge should move up to and occupy the round point of the
hill, a position which I named Fort O'Hare in memory of a truly brave
soldier, my commanding officer who fell at Badajoz in leading the forlorn
hope of the Light Division to the storm.
MR. STAPYLTON LEFT WITH A DEPOT AT FORT O'HARE.
At twelve o'clock I embarked on the river with sixteen men in two boats,
leaving eight with Mr. Stapylton in the depot.
CHARACTER OF THE RIVER.
We met with many dead trees for the first mile or two, but none of these
either prevented or delayed our passage; and the river then widened into
fine reaches wholly clear of timber, so that the passage further down was
quite uninterrupted. The scenery on the banks was pleasing and various:
at some points picturesque limestone cliffs overhung the river, and
cascades flowed out of caverns hung with stalactites; at others the
shores were festooned with green dripping shrubs and creepers, or
terminated in a smooth grassy bank sloping to the water's edge. But none
of the banks consisted of water-worn earth; they were in general low and
grassy, bounding the alluvial flats that lay between the higher points of
land. Within the first three or four miles from Fort O'Hare two
tributaries joined the main stream from the right or westward, and one
from the left or eastward: one of the former ending in a noisy cascade at
the junction. The river soon opened to a uniform width of sixty yards,
its waters being everywhere smooth and unruffled and the current scarcely
Ducks were always to be seen in the reaches before us, and very
frequently the Ornithorynchus paradoxus, an animal which had not, I
believe, been hitherto seen so near the sea. After rowing about sixteen
miles we landed on the left bank near a cascade falling from under a
limestone cliff and there we encamped for the night. The sun was setting
in a cloudless sky while I eagerly ascended the highest cliffs in hopes
of obtaining a sight of the coast, but nothing was visible beyond a
gently undulating woody country, some swamps alone appearing in it to the
westward. The land about the cliffs of limestone was tolerably good and
grassy, but towards the end of this day's pull forests of the stringybark
sort of eucalyptus, having in them trees of large dimensions, closed on
the river. We endeavoured but in vain to catch fish, and whether the
waters contained the cod-perch (Gristes peelii) or not remained a
question. Our position and our prospects were now extremely interesting
and throughout the night I was impatient for the light of the next day.
COURSE OF THE RIVER.
I arose at three in order to determine the latitude more exactly by the
altitude of various stars then approaching the meridian. These were Aries
and Menkar; while the two feet of the Centaur, both fine circumpolar
stars, were so steadily reflected in the placid stream that I obtained by
that means the altitude of both BELOW THE POLE. It was most essential to
the accuracy of my survey of the river that I should determine the
latitude as frequently and exactly as possible. The sun afterwards rose
in a cloudless sky and I ascertained the breadth of the river by means of
a micrometer telescope to be exactly 70 yards. We continued our
interesting voyage and found the river of very uniform width and that its
The current was slower but still perceptible although we found the water
had ebbed six inches during the night an indication that it was already
influenced by the tide although it tasted perfectly fresh. At a place
where I observed the sun's meridian altitude I found the breadth on
measurement to be 71 yards and the depth on sounding, 4 1/2, 3 1/2 and 3
fathoms. The direction of the course had there however changed. To the
camp of last night it had been remarkably straight towards
south-south-east although full of turnings being what may be termed
straight serpentine,* and I had accordingly expected to find the estuary
at Portland Bay in which case it was likely to be sheltered sufficiently
by Cape Nelson to form a harbour. Now however the general course was
nearly west and it preserved the same general direction without much
winding during the progress we made throughout the day. I had therefore
every reason to suppose that it would thus terminate in the wide bay
between Cape Northumberland and Cape Bridgewater. The scenery on the long
reaches was in many places very fine from the picturesque character of
the limestone-rock and the tints and outline of the trees, shrubs, and
creepers upon the banks. In some places stalactitic grottoes covered with
red and yellow creepers overhung or enclosed cascades; at other points
casuarinae and banksia were festooned with creeping vines whose hues of
warm green or brown were relieved by the grey cliffs of more remote
reaches as they successively opened before us.
(*Footnote. See Colonel Jackson's paper also referred to above.)
Black swans being numerous, we shot several; and found some eggs which we
thought a luxury among the bulrushes at the water's edge. But we had
left, as it seemed, all the good grassy land behind us; for the
stringybark and a species of Xanthorrhoea (grass-tree) grew to the
water's edge both where the soil looked black and rich and where it
possessed that red colour which distinguishes the best soil in the
vicinity of limestone rock. One or two small tributaries joined the river
the principal one coming from the left bank at that point or angle where
the great change takes place in its course. When the sun was near setting
we put ashore on this bank and from a tree on the highest part of the
country behind it we now once again saw Mount Gambier bearing 57 degrees
West of North.
Here the water was slightly brackish but still very good for use; the
saltness being most perceptible when the water was used for tea. The
river had increased considerably both in width and depth; for here the
measured breadth was 101 yards and the mean depth five fathoms. (See
section on general Map.) It was upon the whole considering the permanent
fulness of its stream the character of its banks and uniformity of width
and depth the finest body of fresh water I had seen in Australia; and our
hopes were that day sanguine that we should find an outlet to the sea of
This morning I found there was a rise of six inches in the river,
evidently the effect of tide as the water was brackish although still fit
for use. The reach on which we embarked afforded us a view for a mile
further down the river; the vista being truly picturesque and with the
interest attached to the scene it looked indeed quite enchanting. We
pulled on through the silent waters, awakening the slumbering echoes with
many a shot at the numerous swans or ducks. At length another change took
place in the general course of the river which from west turned to
east-south-east. The height of the banks appeared to diminish rapidly and
a very numerous flock of the small sea-swallow or tern indicated our
vicinity to the sea. The slow-flying pelican also with its huge bill
pursued, regardless of strangers its straight-forward course over the
ISLE OF BAGS.
A small bushy island next came in sight having on it some rocks
resembling what we should have thought a great treasure then, a pile of
flour-bags and we named it accordingly the Isle of Bags.
ARRIVAL AT THE SEACOAST.
Soon after passing the island a few low, sandy-looking hills appeared
before us; and we found ourselves between two basins where in the water
was very shallow although we had sounded just previously to entering one
of them in four fathoms. The widest lay directly before us but having no
outlet we steered into the other on the right and on rounding a low rocky
point we saw the green rolling breakers of the sea through an opening
which proved to be the mouth of the river. It consisted of two low rocky
points and as soon as we had pulled outside of them we landed on the
eastern one. In the two basins we had seen there was scarcely sufficient
water to float the boats and thus our hopes of finding a port at the
mouth of this fine river were at once at an end. The sea broke on a sandy
beach outside and on ascending one of the sandhills near it I perceived
Cape Northumberland; the rocks outside called the Carpenters bearing 7
degrees 20 minutes South of West (variation 3 degrees 30 minutes) and
being distant, as I judged, about fifteen miles. Mount Gambier bore 23
degrees 40 minutes North of West and a height which seemed near the
extreme point of the coast on the eastward and which I therefore took for
Cape Bridge water bore 52 degrees East of South.
These points seemed distant from each other about forty miles; the line
of coast between forming one grand curve or bay which received this river
at the deepest part and which I now named Discovery Bay.
MOUTH OF THE GLENELG.
There was no reef of rocks upon the bar; a circumstance to be regretted
in this case for it was obvious that the entrance to this fine river and
the two basins was choked merely by the sand thrown up by the sea. The
river was four fathoms deep, the water being nearly fresh enough for use
within sight of the shore. Unfortunately perhaps for navigation there is
but little tide on that coast; the greatest rise in the lower part of the
river (judging by the floating weeds) did not exceed a foot. I was too
intent on the completion of my survey to indulge much in contemplating
the welcome sight of old ocean; but when a plank was picked up by the men
on that desolate shore and we found the initials IWB and the year 1832
carved on wood which had probably grown in old England the sea really
seemed like home to us. Although it was low water a boat might easily
have been got out and it is probable that in certain states of the tide
and sand small craft might get in; but I nevertheless consider the mouth
of this river quite unavailable as a harbour.
WATERHOLES DUG IN THE BEACH.
Near the beach were holes dug apparently by the natives in which we found
the water perfectly sweet. The hills sheltering the most eastern of the
two basins were well wooded as were also those behind. The line of
sandhills on the beach seemed to rise into forest hills at about five
miles further eastward and all those in the west to within a short
distance of the coast were equally woody. The day was squally with rain;
nevertheless during an interval of sunshine I obtained the sun's meridian
altitude making the latitude 38 degrees 2 minutes 58 seconds South. I
also completed by two P.M. my survey of the mouth of the river and
adjacent country; and we then again embarked to return a few miles up the
river and encamp where wood and water were at hand. On reentering the
river from the sea I presented the men with a bottle of whisky with which
it was formally named the Glenelg after the present Secretary of State
for the Colonies according to my previous intention.
We had encamped in a rather remarkable hollow on the right bank at the
extreme western bend of the river. There was no modern indication that
water either lodged in or ran through that ravine although the channel
resembled in width the bed of some considerable tributary; the rock
presenting a section of cliffs on each side and the bottom being broad
but consisting of black earth only in which grew trees of eucalyptus. I
found on following it some way up that it led to a low tract of country
which I regretted much I could not then examine further. I found shells
embedded in limestone varying considerably in its hardness being
sometimes very friable and the surface in some places presenting
innumerable fragments of corallines, with pectens, spatangi, echini,
ostrea and foraminifera.
In the opposite bank of the river I found several thin strata of compact
chert containing probably fragments of corallines, not only on the
surface but embedded in the limestone. In pulling up the river this
morning we observed a cavern or opening in the side of the limestone rock
and having ascended to it by means of a rope we entered with lights. It
proved to be only a large fissure and after penetrating about 150 yards
underground we met with red earth, apparently fallen from the surface. We
found at the mouth of the fissure some fine specimens of shells, coral,
and other marine productions, embedded in several thin strata of a
coarser structure under one of very compact limestone upwards of 20 feet
(*Footnote. In the fragments brought home Mr. George Sowerby found a
nucula, very much resembling some species of South America although not
like any from Australia. Portions of lucinae, echinus, spatangi, and
turritella or melania, were comprised in specimens from a softer stratum
which was the lowest.)
ONE FISH CAUGHT IN THE GLENELG.
While the people in the boat awaited us there a fish was taken by
Muirhead who had also caught the first fish in the river Darling. That of
the Glenelg was a saltwater fish known at Sydney by the name of Snapper.*
(*Footnote. This was the only fish caught in the Glenelg notwithstanding
the men threw in their lines whenever we encamped on its banks. The
weather was too cold for it was evident the river did contain fish from
the trellised work which the natives had set across it in the upper
The weather was more moderate today although still showery; and the
scenery as we proceeded upwards was very picturesque and full of variety.
At sunset we encamped about a mile and a half short of our camp of the
18th and just as the trees were groaning under a heavy squall which
obliged us to land on the first spot where sufficient room was left in
the thick woods for our tents. This spot happened to be on a steep bit of
bank; and in the evening I was called in haste to a new danger. The wind
had suddenly changed and blew with great fury filling my tent with sparks
from a large fire which burnt before it. I had placed in it according to
usual custom our stock of ammunition in a keg; and notwithstanding these
precautions its preservation now between the two elements of fire and
water was rather doubtful. We contrived however to avert the danger and
were no more disturbed during the night except by the storm.
RETURN TO THE DEPOT.
The squally weather continued until noon when sunbeams again adorned the
river-scenery. We met with no impediment in the current until within
about six miles of the depot camp when dead trees in the channel began
again to appear; but we passed them all without hindrance and reached
Fort O'Hare at two o'clock where we found all well. Mr. Stapylton had set
Vulcan to repair the broken chains etc., a ford had been cleared across
the stream from the north-east which I named the Crawford; and the cattle
being refreshed we were once more in trim to continue the land journey.
The height of the water in the river had undergone no change during our
absence and was probably about its usual level there although I observed
abundant marks of flood in the branches of trees where dry floated matter
remained at the height of fifteen feet above the water as it stood then.
The rock about this position consisted of limestone apparently similar to
that seen on its banks higher up. (See August 15.) It possessed a
stalactitic aspect by the infiltration of calcareous matter and in
crevices below I found a reddish stalagmite containing grains of sand.
Large petrified oyster shells lay loosely about the bank above these
cliffs. No natives had approached the depot during our absence and we had
indeed reason to believe that the adjacent country contained but few
DIFFERENCE IN LONGITUDE.
During the afternoon I laid down my survey of the estuary of the Glenelg
and completed by 10 P.M., not only my plan of it but that of the river
also. I found a considerable difference between the result of my survey
and the Admiralty charts not only in the longitude but also in the
relative position of the two capes with respect to Mount Gambier a
solitary hill easily recognised.*
(*Footnote. At that time I supposed the difference had arisen from some
error or omission in my map and took much pains to discover it; but not
having succeeded my work having also closed to a mile and three-quarters
on my return to the country connected by trigonometrical survey with
Sydney I have been obliged to represent these parts of the coast
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