Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia, Vol 2 (of 2)
Part 6 out of 8
according to this land survey.)
Leave the Glenelg and travel eastward.
Cross the Crawford.
Boggy character of its sources.
Recross the Rifle range.
Heavy timber the chief impediment.
Travelling also difficult from the softness of the ground.
Excursion southward to Portland Bay.
Cross the Fitzroy.
Cross the Surry.
Lady Julia Percy's Isle.
Beach of Portland Bay.
A vessel at anchor.
House and farming establishment there.
Excursion to Cape Nelson.
A whale chase.
Sagacity of the natives on the coast.
Return to the camp.
Still retarded by the soft soil.
Leave one of the boats, and reduce the size of the boat carriage.
Excursion to Mount Napier.
Cross some fine streams.
Natives very timid.
Crater of Mount Napier or Murroa.
View from the summit.
Return to the Camp.
Mr. Stapylton's excursion to the north-west.
Conduct the carts along the highest ground.
Again ascend Murroa and partially clear the summit.
Swamps harder than the ground around them.
Again reach the good country.
Mounts Bainbrigge and Pierrepoint.
Ascend Mount Abrupt.
View of the Grampians from the summit.
Victoria range and the Serra.
Mud again, and a broken axle.
Mr. Stapylton examines the country before us.
At length get through the soft region.
Cattle quite exhausted.
Determine to leave them in a depot to refresh while I proceed forward.
Specimens of natural history.
Situation of depot camp at Lake Repose.
LEAVE THE GLENELG AND TRAVEL EASTWARD.
Having at length disposed of the course of the Glenelg, my next object
was to cross and examine the high ground which enclosed its basin on the
east supplying those tributaries which the river received from its left
bank, and evidently extending from the Grampians to Cape Bridgewater. I
had named this the Rifle range in crossing that branch of it extending
north-westward when I ascertained its characteristics to be lofty woods
and swamps; but its ramifications in other directions and how it was
connected backwards with the mountains still remained to be discovered;
and from what I did know of this range I apprehended considerable
difficulty in getting over it with our heavy carriages at such a season.
That we might if possible escape the bogs, I devoted the day to an
extensive reconnaissance of the country before us; my guide in this case
being the river Crawford which, flowing in deep ravines, was likely to
afford (so long as its general course continued to be nearly parallel to
our route) one means at least of avoiding those soft swampy flats which
could not possibly impede us so long as the side of such a ravine as that
of the river was within reach. I had the good fortune to find that the
range in general was firm under the hoof, and its direction precisely
such as I wished. Extensive swamps occasionally appeared on my right; but
I had on the left the deep ravines of the Crawford, and I travelled
across the highest slopes of the ground. Having thus found good sound
turf for twelve miles in the direction in which I wished to take the
carriages, I returned on descending from a trap range where the rock
consisted of granular felspar and hornblende with crystals of glassy
felspar. On this hill the soil was exceedingly rich and the grass green
and luxuriant. I obtained thence a most useful bearing on Mount Gambier,
and saw also some heights to the eastward beyond the Rifle range. The
timber grew to an enormous size on the ranges which I traversed this day;
it consisted chiefly of that species of eucalyptus known as stringybark.
Some of the trees we measured were 13 feet and one as much as 14 1/2 feet
in circumference, and 80 feet was no uncommon height. The fallen timber
was of such magnitude as to present a new impediment to our progress for
we had not previously met with such an obstruction on any journey.
CROSS THE CRAWFORD.
The carriages were taken across the Crawford without much delay
considering its depth and the softness of the banks. The carts sank at
least five feet in the water yet nothing was damaged for we had taken
care to pack the flour and other perishable articles on the tops of the
loads. We succeeded in crossing the rivulets at the heads of several
ravines by filling up their channels with logs; and thus, after crossing
the last of these, and ascending the steep bank beyond it, we encamped
after a journey of seven miles. The weather had been stormy on both days
since I crossed the Crawford, a circumstance very much against our
progress. Near this camp we found a new Correa, resembling C. virens but
having distinctly cordate toothed leaves with less down on their
underside and a much shorter calyx.*
(*Footnote. C. cordifolia, Lindley manuscripts; stellato-tomentosa,
foliis subsessilibus cordatis ovatis denticulatis obtusis planis supra
glabris, corollis tubulosis cernuis, calyce truncato brevissimo.)
BOGGY CHARACTER OF ITS SOURCES.
In our progress eastward we were still governed by the line of the
Crawford; and the tortuous direction of the ravines connected with it
required constant attention, while the very variable character of the
swamps at the head of them was still more perplexing. We succeeded in
finding a passage between all this day also and, on again crossing a
small mountain torrent by filling up the chasm with dead timber, we
encamped after another journey of seven miles. On our left to the
northward lay a deep valley in which we found a broad sheet of water
covered with ducks, the banks being soft and overgrown with reeds. A
considerable stream flowed westward from this lake through a narrow part
of the valley, so that I concluded we were still on the principal branch
of the Crawford. Trees of large dimensions were abundant and the fallen
timber impeded our progress even more than any unusual softness of the
After proceeding several miles without lett or hindrance, having
successfully crossed some swampy rivulets all flowing to the left amidst
thick scrubs, we at length arrived at a watercourse in which my horse
went down, and which filled a very wide swampy bed enclosed by a thick
growth of young mimosa trees, through which it was necessary to cut a
passage wide enough for the carts. The scrub having been thus cleared to
the extent of about 100 yards with much labour, I found only then
unfortunately that although the roots grew very closely, and that water
flowed over the surface, the earth was withal so soft that I could at
every point with ease push a stick five feet down without reaching any
firm bottom. The loose cattle were driven in, an experiment which until
then we had tried with success in doubtful places, but they with
difficulty got across this, for one of them sank and could not be
extricated without considerable delay. While the men were busily employed
there I rode to the head of the swamp which extended about a mile to the
southward. On this swampy plain I at length succeeded in finding, with
Mr. Stapylton's assistance, a line of route likely to bear the carts and
we passed safely in that direction, not one carriage having gone down.
While on this swampy surface we distinctly heard the breakers of the sea
apparently at no great distance to the south-west, and I was convinced
that the head of this swamp was about the highest ground immediately
adjacent to Discovery Bay. On travelling a mile and a half further we
reached a small rivulet, the first we had crossed flowing to the south.
Beyond it the country appeared open and good, consisting of what is
termed forest land with casuarinae and banksia growing upon it.
RECROSS THE RIFLE RANGE.
We had at length reached the highest parts of the range and were about to
descend into the country beyond it. We continued to travel a considerable
distance further than the rivulet flowing to the south. Crossing others
running northward or to the left, and leaving also on the same side a
swamp, we finally came to a higher range clothed with trees of gigantic
size, attesting the strength and depth of the soil, and here enormous old
trunks obstructed our passage, covering the surface so as to form an
impediment almost as great to us as the swampy ground had been; but this
large timber so near the coast was an important feature in that country.
Piper, having climbed to the top of one of these trees, perceived some
fine green hills to the south-east, saying they were very near us and
that the sea was visible beyond them. It was late in the afternoon when I
reluctantly changed my intended route, which had been until then
eastward, to proceed in the direction recommended by Piper, or to the
south-east and so to follow down a valley, instead of my proposed route
which had been along a favourable range.
HEAVY TIMBER THE CHIEF IMPEDIMENT.
I had still less reason to be satisfied with the change when, after
pushing my horse through thick scrubs and bogs until twilight and looking
in vain for a passage for the carts, I encountered at length bushes so
thickly set and bogs so soft that any further progress in that direction
was out of the question; and thus on the evening when I hoped to have
entered a better sort of country after so successful a passage of the
range we encamped where but little grass could be found for the cattle,
our tents being not only under lofty trees but amongst thick bushes and
bogs during very rainy weather.
TRAVELLING ALSO DIFFICULT FROM THE SOFTNESS OF THE GROUND.
I was so anxious to get into open ground again that, as soon as daylight
permitted, I carefully examined the environs of our camp, and I found
that we occupied a broad flat where the drainage from the hills met and
spread among bushes, so that at one time I almost despaired of
extricating the party otherwise than by returning to the hill at which I
had first altered my route. The track we made had been however so much
cut up by our wheels that I preferred the chance of finding a passage
northward which, of course, was also less out of our way. We reached an
extremity of the hill (the nearest to us on that side) with much less
difficulty than I had reason to apprehend and, keeping along that
feature, we soon regained a range which led us east-north-east. By
proceeding in this direction however we could not avoid the passage of a
valley where the water was not confined to any channel, but spread and
lodged on a wide tract of very soft ground, also covered with mimosa
bushes and a thick growth of young saplings of eucalyptus. The light
carts and the first heavy cart got over this soft ground or bog, but the
others and the boat carriage sank up to the axles so that we were obliged
to halt after having proceeded about five miles only. This was near a
fine forest-hill consisting of trap-rock in a state of decomposition, but
apparently similar to that of the trap-rock I had ascended on the 23rd of
August; and from a tree there Burnett thought he saw the sea to the
north-east, and even to the northward of a remarkable conical hill. The
discovery of the sea in that direction was so different from the
situation of the shore as laid down on the maps that I began to hope an
inlet might exist there as yet undiscovered, the "Cadong," perhaps, of
the native woman, "where white men had never been."*
(*Footnote. See above.)
EXCURSION SOUTHWARD TO PORTLAND BAY.
I had now proceeded far enough to the eastward to be able to examine the
coast about Portland Bay and extend my survey to the capes in its
neighbourhood, the better to ascertain their longitude. I therefore
determined to make an excursion in that direction and thus afford time
not only for the extrication of the heavy carts still remaining in the
mud but also for the repose of the cattle after their labours.
By the survey proposed I hoped to extend my map of the country
sufficiently in that direction to be at liberty, on my return to the
party, to pursue a route directly homeward; not doubting that at a short
distance to the northward of our camp we should again enter the beautiful
open country which, when seen from the mouth of the Wannon, seemed to
extend as far as could be seen to the eastward. In our ride to the south
we reached, at four miles from the boggy ground, a fine green hill
consisting of trap-rock and connected with a ridge of the same
description which extended about two miles further to the southward.
There we found it to terminate abruptly in a lofty brow, quite clear of
timber and commanding an extensive view to the east and south over a much
lower country. This hill had a very remarkable feature--a deep chasm
separating it from the ridge behind, the sides being so steep as to
present a section of the trap-rock which consisted principally of compact
felspar. The hill which I named Mount Eckersley was covered, as well as
the ridge to which it belonged, with a luxuriant crop of anthisterium, or
kangaroo grass. Unfortunately the weather was squally but, by awaiting
the intervals between clouds on the horizon, I obtained angles at length
on nearly all the distant hills, the waters of Portland Bay just
appearing in the south over an intervening woody ridge. From this hill I
recognised a very conspicuous flat-topped hill to the northward which had
been previously included in a series of angles observed on the 12th
instant from the valley of the Wannon and which I now named Mount Napier.
Portland Bay was distant about fifteen miles but the intervening country
seemed so low, and swamps entirely clear of timber appeared in so many
places, that I could scarcely hope to get through it: knowing it to
contain all the water from those boggy valleys where our progress had
been already so much impeded. Smoke arose from various parts of the lower
country--a proof that at least some dry land was there. We were provided
with horses only, and therefore desperately determined to flounder
through or even to swim if necessary, we thrust them down the hill. On
its side we met an emu which stood and stared, apparently fearless as if
the strange quadrupeds had withdrawn its keen eye from the more familiar
enemies who bestrode them. In the lower country we saw also a kangaroo,
an animal that seldom frequents marshy lands. I was agreeably surprised
to find also, on descending, that the rich grass extended among the trees
across the lower country; and I was still more pleased on coming to a
fine running stream at about three miles from the hill and after crossing
a tract of land of the richest description. Reeds grew thickly amongst
the long grass, and the ground appeared to be of a different character
from any that I had previously seen. This seemed to be just such land as
would produce wheat during the driest seasons and never become sour even
in the wettest, such as this season undoubtedly was.
CROSS THE FITZROY.
The timber was thin and light and, with a fine deep stream flowing
through it, the tract which at first sight from Mount Eckersley I had
considered so sterile and wet proved to be one likely at no distant day
to smile under luxuriant crops of grain. We found the river (which I
named the Fitzroy) fordable, although deep at the place where we first
came upon it. Shady trees of the mimosa kind grew along the banks and the
earth was now good and firm on both sides. We heard the natives as we
approached this stream and cooeyed to them; but our calls had only the
effect, as appeared from the retiring sound of their voices, of making
them run faster away. Continuing our ride southward we entered at two
miles beyond the Fitzroy a forest of the stringybark eucalyptus; and
although the anthisterium still grew in hollows I saw swampy open flats
before us which I endeavoured to avoid, sometimes by passing between them
and finally by turning to a woody range on the left. I ascended this
range as night came on, in hopes of finding grass for our horses; but
there the mimosa and xanthorrhoea alone prevailed--the latter being a
sure indication of sterility and scanty vegetation. We found naked ground
higher up consisting of deep lagoons and swamps amongst which I was
satisfied with my success in passing through in such a direction as
enabled me to regain, in a dark and stormy night, the shelter of the
woods on the side of the range. But I sought in vain for the grass, so
abundant elsewhere on this day's ride, and we were at length under the
necessity of halting for the night where but little food could be found
for our horses, and under lofty trees that creaked and groaned to the
The groaning trees had afforded us shelter without letting fall even a
single branch upon our heads,* but the morning was squally and
unfavourable for the objects of the excursion, and we had still to ride
some way before I could commence operations. Proceeding along the skirts
of the woody ridge on the left in order to avoid swamps, we at length saw
through the trees the blue waters of the sea and heard the roar of the
(*Footnote. The Australian woods are in general very brittle, and no
experienced bushman likes to sleep under trees, especially during high
CROSS THE SURRY.
My intended way towards the deepest part of the bay and the hills beyond
it did not lead directly to the shore, and I continued to pursue a course
through the woods, having the shore on our left. We thus met a deep and
rapid little river exactly resembling the Fitzroy and coming also from
the westward. Tracing this a short distance upwards we came to a place
set with a sort of trelliswork of bushes by the natives for the purpose,
no doubt, of catching fish. Here we found the stream fordable though
deep; a brownish granular limestone appearing in the bank. We crossed and
then continuing through a thick wood we came out at length on the shore
of Portland Bay at about four miles beyond the little river.
LADY JULIA PERCY'S ISLE.
Straight before us lay Laurence's Island, or rather, islands, there being
two small islets of rock in that situation; and, some way to the eastward
I perceived a much larger island which I concluded was one of Lady Julia
Percy's Isles. At a quarter of a mile back from the beach broad
broom-topped casuarinae were the only trees we could see; these grew on
long ridges parallel to the beach, resembling those long breakers which,
aided by winds, had probably thrown such ridges up. They were abundantly
covered with excellent grass and, as it wanted about an hour of noon, I
halted that the cattle might feed while I took some angles and
endeavoured to obtain the sun's altitude during the intervals between
heavy squalls, some of which were accompanied by hail and thunder.
BEACH OF PORTLAND BAY.
On reaching the seashore at this beach I turned to observe the face of
Tommy Came-last, one of my followers who, being a native from the
interior, had never before seen the sea. I could not discover in the face
of this young savage, even on his first view of the ocean, any expression
of surprise; on the contrary the placid and comprehensive gaze he cast
over it seemed fully to embrace the grand expanse then for the first time
opened to him.
A VESSEL AT ANCHOR. HOUSE AND FARMING ESTABLISHMENT THERE.
I was much more astonished when he soon after came to tell me of the
fresh tracks of cattle that he had found on the shore, and the shoemarks
of a white man. He also brought me portions of tobacco-pipes and a glass
bottle without a neck. That whaling vessels occasionally touched there I
was aware, as was indeed obvious from the carcasses and bones of whales
on the beach; but how cattle could have been brought there I did not
understand. Proceeding round the bay with the intention of examining the
head of an inlet and continuing along shore as far as Cape Bridgewater, I
was struck with the resemblance to houses that some supposed grey rocks
under the grassy cliffs presented; and while I directed my glass towards
them my servant Brown said he saw a brig at anchor; a fact of which I was
soon convinced and also that the grey rocks were in reality wooden
houses. The most northern part of the shore of this bay was comparatively
low, but the western consisted of bold cliffs rising to the height of 180
We ascended these cliffs near the wooden houses which proved to be some
deserted sheds of the whalers. One shot was heard as we drew near them
and another on our ascending the rocks. I then became somewhat
apprehensive that the parties might either be, or suppose us to be,
bushrangers and, to prevent if possible some such awkward mistake, I
ordered a man to fire a gun and the bugle to be sounded; but on reaching
the higher ground we discovered not only a beaten path but the track of
two carts, and while we were following the latter a man came towards us
from the face of the cliffs. He informed me in answer to my questions
that the vessel at anchor was the Elizabeth of Launceston; and that just
round the point there was a considerable farming establishment belonging
to Messrs. Henty, who were then at the house. It then occurred to me that
I might there procure a small additional supply of provisions, especially
of flour, as my men were on very reduced rations. I therefore approached
the house and was kindly received and entertained by the Messrs. Henty
who as I learnt had been established there during upwards of two years.
It was very obvious indeed from the magnitude and extent of the buildings
and the substantial fencing erected that both time and labour had been
expended in their construction. A good garden stocked with abundance of
vegetables already smiled on Portland Bay; the soil was very rich on the
overhanging cliffs, and the potatoes and turnips produced there surpassed
in magnitude and quality any I had ever seen elsewhere.
I learnt that the bay was much resorted to by vessels engaged in the
whale fishery and that upwards of 700 tons of oil had been shipped that
season. I was likewise informed that only a few days before my arrival
five vessels lay at anchor together in that bay, and that a communication
was regularly kept up with Van Diemen's Land by means of vessels from
Launceston. Messrs. Henty were importing sheep and cattle as fast as
vessels could be found to bring them over, and the numerous whalers
touching at or fishing on the coast were found to be good customers for
farm produce and whatever else could be spared from the establishment.
Portland Bay is well sheltered from all winds except the east-south-east,
and the anchorage is so good that a vessel is said to have rode out a
gale even from this quarter. The part of the western shore where the land
is highest shelters a small bay which might be made a tolerable harbour
by means of two piers or quays erected on reefs of a kind of rock
apparently very favourable for the purpose, namely amygdaloidal trap in
rounded boulders. The present anchorage in four fathoms is on the outside
of these reefs, and the water in this little bay is in general smooth
enough for the landing of boats. A fine stream falls into the bay there
and the situation seems altogether a most eligible one for the site of a
town. The rock is trap consisting principally of felspar; and the soil is
excellent as was amply testified by the luxuriant vegetation in Mr.
EXCURSION TO CAPE NELSON.
I proceeded with the theodolite to a height near Cape Nelson and from it
I intersected that cape and also Cape Bridgewater, Cape Sir William
Grant, the islands to the eastward, etc.
I here recognised also the high hill which appeared within these capes
when first seen from the westward. It formed the most elevated part of
the Rifle range at its termination on the coast and I was informed by Mr.
Henty that there was a fine lake at its base. I named the hill Mount
Kincaid after my old and esteemed friend of Peninsular recollections.
Returning to the party at Portland Bay where I had left my sextant, I
then obtained a good observation on the sun's meridian altitude. I was
accommodated with a small supply of flour by Messrs. Henty who, having
been themselves on short allowance, were awaiting the arrival of a vessel
then due two weeks. They also supplied us with as many vegetables as the
men could carry away on their horses.
A WHALE CHASE.
Just as I was about to leave the place a whale was announced and
instantly three boats well manned were seen cutting through the water, a
harpooneer standing up at the stern of each with oar in hand and
assisting the rowers by a forward movement at each stroke. It was not the
least interesting scene in these my Australian travels thus to witness
from a verandah on a beautiful afternoon at Portland Bay the humours of
the whale fishery and all those wondrous perils of harpooneers and whale
boats of which I had delighted to read as scenes of the stormy north. The
object of the present pursuit was "a hunchback" and it being likely to
occupy the boats for some time I proceeded homewards.
SAGACITY OF THE NATIVES ON THE COAST.
I understood it frequently happened that several parties of fishermen
left by different whaling vessels would engage in the pursuit of the same
whale, and that in the struggle for possession the whale would
occasionally escape from them all and run ashore, in which case it is of
little value to whalers as the removal, etc., would be too tedious and
they in such cases carry away part of the head matter only. The natives
never approach these whalers, nor had they ever shown themselves to the
white people of Portland Bay but, as they have taken to eat the castaway
whales, it is their custom to send up a column of smoke when a whale
appears in the bay, and the fishers understand the signal. This affords
an instance of the sagacity of the natives for they must have reflected
that, by thus giving timely notice, a greater number will become
competitors for the whale and that consequently there will be a better
chance of the whale running ashore, in which case a share must fall
finally to them. The fishers whom I saw were fine able fellows; and with
their large ships and courageous struggles with the whales they must seem
terrible men of the sea to the natives. The neat trim of their boats set
up on stanchions on the beach looked well, with oars and in perfect
readiness to dash at the moment's notice into the angry surge. Upon the
whole, what with the perils they undergo and their incessant labour in
boiling the oil, these men do not earn too cheaply the profits derived
from that kind of speculation. I saw on the shore the wreck of a fine
boat which had been cut in two by a single stroke of the tail of a whale.
The men were about to cast their net into the sea to procure a supply of
fish for us when the whale suddenly engaged all hands.
We returned along the shore of the bay, intersecting at its estuary the
mouth of the little river last crossed and which, at the request of Mr.
Henty, I have named the Surry. This river enters Portland Bay in latitude
38 degrees 15 minutes 43 seconds South; longitude (by my survey)141
degrees 58 minutes East. We encamped on the rich grassy land just beyond
and I occupied for the night a snug old hut of the natives.
Early this morning Richardson caught a fine bream and I had indeed been
informed by Messrs. Henty that these streams abound with this fish.
On ascending the highest point of the hill immediately behind the estuary
of the Surry and which I named Mount Clay, I found it consisted of good
forest land, and that its ramifications extended over as much as three
miles. Beyond it we descended into the valley of the Fitzroy, and at noon
I ascertained the latitude where we had before forded it to be 38 degrees
8 minutes 51 seconds South. The river had risen in the interim a foot and
a half, so that we were obliged to carry the flour across on the heads of
the men wading up to the neck. When we reached the summit of Mount
Eckersley, the horizon being clear, I completed my series of angles on
points visible from that station by observing the Julian Island and Mount
Abrupt, two of great importance in my survey which were hidden from our
sight by the squally weather when I was last on this hill.
RETURN TO THE CAMP.
We reached the camp about sunset and found all right there, the carts
having been drawn out of the bogs, all the claw-chains repaired by the
blacksmith, our hatchets resteeled, and two new shafts made for the heavy
carts. Piper had during our absence killed abundance of kangaroos, and I
now rejoiced at his success on account of the aboriginal portion of our
party for whose stomachs, being of savage capacity, quantity was a more
important consideration than quality in the article of food, and we were
then living on a very reduced scale of rations. On my return from such
excursions The Widow and her child frequently gave notice of our approach
long before we reached the camp: their quick ears seemed sensible of the
sound of horses' feet at an astonishing distance, for in no other way
could the men account for the notice which Turandurey and her child,
seated at their own fire, were always the first to give of my return,
sometimes long before our appearance at the camp. Piper was usually the
first to meet me and assure me of the safety of the party, as if he had
taken care of it during my absence; and I encouraged his sense of
responsibility by giving him credit for the security they had enjoyed. A
serene evening, lovely in itself, looked doubly beautiful then as our
hopes of getting home were inseparable from fine weather, for on this
chance our final escape from the mud and bogs seemed very much to depend.
The barometer however indicated rather doubtfully.
Heavy rain and fog detained us in the same camp this morning and I
availed myself of the day for the purpose of laying down my recent
survey. The results satisfied me that the coastline on the engraved map
was very defective and indeed the indentations extended so much deeper
into the land that I still entertained hopes of finding some important
inlet to the eastward, analogous to that remarkable break of the mountain
chain at Mount William.
STILL RETARDED BY THE SOFT SOIL.
We travelled as much in a north-east direction as the ground permitted
but, although I should most willingly have followed the connecting
features whatever their directions, I could not avoid the passage of
various swamps or boggy soft hollows in which the carts and more
especially the boat-carriage, notwithstanding the greatest exertions on
the part of the men, again sank up to the axles. I had proceeded with the
light carts and one heavy cart nearly nine miles while the boat-carriage
fell at least six miles behind me, the other heavy carts having also been
retarded from the necessity for yoking additional teams to the cattle
drawing the boats. The weather was still unsettled and the continued
rains had at length made the surface so soft that even to ride over it
was in many places difficult. I had reached some fine forest land on the
bank of a running stream where the features were bolder, and I hoped to
arrive soon at the good country near the head of the Wannon. I encamped
without much hope that the remainder of the party could join us that
night and they in fact did remain six miles behind. I had never been more
puzzled in my travels than I was with respect to the nature of the
country before us then. Mount Napier bore 74 degrees East of North
distant about 16 miles. The little rivulet was flowing northward, and yet
we had not reached the interior side of that elevated though swampy
ground dividing the fine valleys we had seen further westward from the
country sloping towards the sea.
LEAVE ONE OF THE BOATS, AND REDUCE THE SIZE OF THE BOAT CARRIAGE.
This morning we had steady rain accompanied as usual by a north-west
wind; I remarked also that at any rise of the barometer after such rain
the wind changed to the south-east in situations near the coast, or to
the north-east when we were more inland. I sent back the cattle we had
brought forward to this camp to assist those behind, and in the meanwhile
Mr. Stapylton took a ride along the ridge on which we were encamped in
order to ascertain its direction. Towards evening Burnett returned from
the carts with the intelligence that the boat-carriage could not be got
out of the swamps and that, after the men had succeeded in raising it
with levers and had drawn it some way, it had again sunk and thus delayed
the carts, but that the latter were at length coming on, two men having
been left behind with the boat-carriage. Mr. Stapylton returned in the
afternoon having ascertained that a swamp of upwards of a mile in breadth
and extending north and south as far as he could see lay straight before
us, and he had concluded that the rivulet upon which we were then
encamped turned into it. Under such circumstances we could not hope to be
able to travel much further with the boats, nor even indeed with the
carts unless we found ground with a firmer surface in the country before
us. Ere we could reach the nearest habitations of civilised men we had
yet to traverse 400 miles of a country intersected by the highest
mountains and watered by the largest rivers known in New Holland.
Although the boats and their carriage had been of late a great hindrance
to us I was very unwilling to abandon such useful appendages to an
exploring party, having already drawn them overland nearly 3000 miles. A
promising part of the coast might still be explored, large rivers were to
be crossed, and we had already found boats useful on such occasions. One
however might answer these temporary purposes, since for the main object,
the exploration of inland seas, they could not possibly be wanted. We had
two and the outer one, which was both larger and heavier than the inner,
had been shaken so much when suspended without the thwarts that she was
almost unserviceable in the water, and very leaky as we had lately found
in exploring the Glenelg. She had in fact all along served as a case for
the inner boat, which could thus be kept distended by the thwarts and was
consequently in excellent repair and in every respect the best. I
determined therefore to abandon the outer boat and shorten the carriage
so that the fore and hind wheels would be brought two feet nearer each
other. I expected from this arrangement that, instead of boats retarding
the party, this one might thus be drawn in advance with the light carts.
EXCURSION TO MOUNT NAPIER.
Having directed the alteration to be made during my intended absence I
set out for Mount Napier and soon found the broad swamp before me. After
riding up an arm of it to the left for a mile and a half I found it
passable and, having crossed, we proceeded towards the hill by a rather
circuitous route but over a fine tract of country although then very soft
under our horses' feet.
CROSS SOME FINE STREAMS.
We next reached a deeper ravine where the land on each side was more open
and also firmer, while a small rivulet flowing through it amongst bushes
was easily crossed, and we ascended some fine rising ground beyond it.
Rich flats then extended before us and we arrived at an open grassy
valley where a beautiful little stream resembling a river in miniature
was flowing rapidly. Two very substantial huts showed that even the
natives had been attracted by the beauty of the spot and, as the day was
showery, I wished to return if possible to pass the night there, for I
began to learn that such huts with a good fire before them made very
comfortable quarters in bad weather.
NATIVES VERY TIMID.
We had heard voices in the woods several times this day but their
inhabitants seemed as timid as kangaroos and not more likely to come near
us. The blue mass of Mount Napier was visible occasionally through the
trees, but I found as we proceeded that we were not so near it as I had
supposed, for at three miles beyond the little stream we came upon one of
greater magnitude, a small river flowing southward with open grassy banks
in which two kinds of trap-rock appeared. The edge of a thin layer of the
lowest, a nearly decomposed trap, projected over the stream; the other
lay in rounded blocks in the face of the hill above, and appeared to be
decomposed amygdaloid, principally felspar. The river ran through a
valley where the forest land was remarkably open, being sprinkled with
only a few trees as in a park, and this stream appeared to fall into the
head of the extensive swamp already mentioned. About a mile beyond the
river (which I named the Shaw) we came upon the extremities of Mount
Napier, for at least so I considered some rough sharp-pointed fragments
of rock laying about in heaps, which we found it very difficult and
tedious to ride over: indeed so sharp-edged and large were these rocks on
the slopes of the terraces they formed that we were often obliged to
dismount and lead our horses. In these fragments I recognised the
cellular character of the rocks I had noticed in the bed of the Shaw. The
rock here might have been taken for decomposed amygdaloid but, having
found the vestiges of an old crater in the summit of the hill, I was
induced to consider it an ancient lava. The reefs at Portland Bay consist
of the same rock in rounded nodules, a more compact trap-rock consisting
principally of felspar lying above them, as was observable in the section
of the coast. In some of the fragments on Mount Napier these cells or
pores were several inches in diameter and, unlike amygdaloidal rocks, all
were quite empty. The surface consisted wholly of this stone, without any
intermediate soil to soften its asperity under the feet of our horses,
and yet it was covered with a wood of eucalyptus and mimosa, growing
there as on the open forest land between which and this stony region the
chief difference consisted in the ruggedness of surface, this being
broken as already stated into irregular terraces where loose stones lay
in irregular heaps and hollows, most resembling old stone quarries. We
travelled over three miles of this rough surface before we reached the
base of the cone.
CRATER OF MOUNT NAPIER OR MURROA.
On the sides of it we found some soft red earth mixed with fragments of
lava and on reaching the summit I found myself on the narrow edge of a
circular crater composed wholly of lava and scoriae. Trees and bushes
grew luxuriantly everywhere except where the sharp rocks shot up almost
perpendicularly. The igneous character of these was so obvious that one
of the men thrust his hand into a chasm to ascertain whether it was warm.
VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT.
The discovery of an extinct volcano gave additional interest to Mount
Napier, but it was by no means a better station for the theodolite on
that account; on the contrary it was the worst possible for, as the trees
grew on the edge of the crater, no one station could be found to afford a
view of the horizon until the whole circumference was cleared of the
trees, and this was too great a work for us at that visit. Mount William
and the Grampian range presented a noble outline to the northward. The
sun had set before I could recognise distant points in the highly
interesting country to be seen from this remarkable hill. The weather was
also unfavourable and I descended to pass the night at its base in hopes
that the next morning might be clear.
RETURN TO THE CAMP.
On reaching the spot where I had left the horses I found that our native
friend Tommy Came-last could discover no water in any of the numerous
hollows around the hill and, though the superabundance of this element
had caused the chief impediment to our progress through the country at
that time, we were obliged to pass a night most uncomfortably from the
total want of it at the base of Mount Napier. The spongy-looking rocks
were however dry enough to sleep upon, a quality of which the soil in
general had been rather deficient, as most of us felt in our muscles. I
perceived a remarkable uniformity in the size of the trees, very few of
which were dead or fallen. From this circumstance, together with the
deficiency of the soil and the sharp edge of the rock generally, some
might conclude that the volcano had been in activity at no very remote
A thick fog hung upon the mountain until half-past 10 A.M. and when I
ascended an extremity I could see nothing of the distance. I had however
ascertained the nature of the country thus far, this having been the
object of my visit and, as I had resolved from what I had seen to pass to
the northward at no great distance from this hill, I returned with less
reluctance, in hopes that I might have it in my power yet to revisit it
during more favourable weather. The day was squally with several very
heavy showers, the wind being from the south-west. We saw two natives at
a fire when we were returning, and our friend Tommy readily advanced
towards them but they immediately set up such loud and incessant cries
that I called to him to come away. After a ride of twenty-six miles
across swamps and many muddy hollows we reached soon after sunset the
camp which I had directed to be moved back to near where the boats lay. I
found that these had been drawn out of the swamp and one only brought
forward as I wished to this camp and where I found all the carts once
more ranged together. The alteration of the boat carriage required a
little more time, and I accordingly determined to halt one day that we
might also have our horses shod, several shoes having come off on the
rough rocks near Mount Napier.
MR. STAPYLTON'S EXCURSION TO THE NORTH-WEST.
This day I requested Mr. Stapylton to examine the country in a north-west
direction. Some of the swamps crossed by me yesterday had appeared to
fall westward and I wished to ascertain the situation and character of
the ground dividing them from those discharging their waters eastward or
towards the sea, as it was only by keeping on that dividing ground that I
could hope to avoid them. Mr. Stapylton proceeded nine miles north-west,
crossing many swampy flats, and at length a small rivulet, all falling
westward. Beyond the rivulet he got upon some good hills connected with
higher land. Our best line of route homewards was in a north-east
direction, or at rightangles to the route of Mr. Stapylton.
The great swamp already mentioned, being the channel and recipient of the
Shaw, was somewhat in my way, and my object now was to trace out the
dividing ground as we proceeded, so as to avoid the swamps on both sides.
By sunset the single boat was mounted in the shortened carriage, the
whole being now so manageable and light that the boat could be lifted out
by hand without block and tackle; and when on the carriage she could be
drawn with ease wherever the light carts could pass. Thus we got rid of
that heavy clog on our progress over soft ground, the boats, by reserving
but one; and we left the larger, keel upwards, at the swamp which had
occasioned so much delay.
CONDUCT THE CARTS ALONG THE HIGHEST GROUND.
Having chosen for a general line of route the bearing most likely to
avoid the swamps according to the knowledge I had gained of the country,
I proceeded as these and the soft ground permitted, and had the singular
and indeed unexpected good fortune to come upon my horse's track from
Mount Napier without having even seen the large swamp. The boat-carriage
now travelled with the light carts, and we at length reached the first
running stream at a short distance below where I had previously crossed
it. The bottom was boggy and the water flowed in two channels, the ground
between them being very soft. The whole party crossed it, with the
exception of two carts which did not arrive, and we encamped on the bank
beyond after a journey of about eight miles. Near this stream we found a
pretty new species of Dillwynia, with plain yellow flowers, clustered on
a long stalk at the end of the branches, and with curiously hairy
heath-like leaves. It resembles D. peduncularis but proved, on
examination, to be distinct.*
(*Footnote. D. hispida, Lindley manuscripts; ramulis hispidulis, foliis
linearibus patulis verrucosis obtusis hispidulis, corymbis longe
pedunculatis terminalibus laxis paucifloris, pedunculo glaberrimo,
pedicellis calycibusque pubescentibus.)
At this spot we found a very small bower of twigs, only large enough to
contain a child: the floor was hollowed out and filled with dry leaves
and feathers; and the ground around had been cut smooth, several boughs
having been also bent over it so as to be fixed in the ground at both
ends. The whole seemed connected with some mystic ceremony of the
aborigines, but which the male natives who were with us could not
explain. The gins however on being questioned said it was usual to
prepare such a bower for the reception of a new-born child. Kangaroos
were more numerous in this part of the country than in any other that we
had traversed. I counted twenty-three in one flock which passed before me
as I stood silently by a tree. Two of the men counted fifty-seven in
another flock, and it was not unusual for them to approach our camp as if
from curiosity, on which occasions two or three were occasionally caught
by our dogs.
The remainder of the heavy carts not having come up, I left the two with
us to await their arrival that the men might assist the drivers with
their teams in crossing this stream. On proceeding then with the light
carts only I crossed several soft bad places, and one or two fine small
rivulets, encamping at last where we again fell in with my horse's track,
on an open space about eight miles from Mount Napier. During the day's
journey we traversed some fine open forest hills near the banks of
rivulets. We generally found the south-eastern slope of such heights very
indistinct, and the ground soft, boggy and covered with banksias. The
rock in such places consisted of the same cellular trap so common on this
side of the Grampians. Our camp lay between two swamps for no better
ground appeared on any side. I hoped however to obtain a more general
knowledge of the surrounding country from Mount Napier during clear
weather, and thus to discover some way by which we might make our escape
to the northward. The carts did not overtake us this day, and I
determined when they should arrive to overhaul them and throw away every
article of weight not absolutely required for the rest of the journey.
AGAIN ASCEND MURROA AND PARTIALLY CLEAR THE SUMMIT.
Once more I set out for Mount Napier, followed by a party of men with
axes to clear its summit, at least sufficiently for the purpose of taking
angles with the theodolite. The night had been clear and the morning was
fine, but as soon as I had ascended the hill rain-clouds gathered in the
south-west and obscured the horizon on all sides; I could only see some
points at intervals, but I took as many as I could after the men had
cleared a station for the theodolite. I perceived two very extensive
lakes in the low country between Mount Napier and the south-eastern
portion of the Grampian range, which terminated in the hill that I had
previously named Mount Abrupt. Between the largest of these waters
(called by me Lake Linlithgow) and the mountains there appeared an
extensive tract of open grassy land.
To the eastward at the distance of twelve miles I perceived a solitary
hill, somewhat resembling Mount Napier, and named it Mount Rouse; but a
haze still concealed the more distant country. On reaching the camp where
we arrived in the dark, I found that the carts had not even then
returned; but as the barometer promised better weather I did not much
regret their non-arrival as the delay would afford me another chance of
having a clear day on Mount Napier.
I again proceeded to the hill and obtained at length a clear and
extensive view from it in all directions. In the north the Grampian
range, on all sides grand, presented a new and striking outline on this.
Far in the west I could recognise in slight breaks on a low horizon some
features of the valley of Nangeela (Glenelg).
Eastward the summits of a range I thought of naming the Australian
Pyrenees were just visible over a woody horizon; and to the south-east
were several detached hills and some elevated ridges of forest land,
apparently near the coast. One isolated hill resembling a haystack was
very remarkable on the seashore. This I named Mount Hotspur being the
only elevation near Lady Julia Percy's Isle (not Isles as laid down on
the charts for there is but one, now called by whalers the Julian
Island). To the southward I could just distinguish the Laurence Islands
but a haze upon the coast prevented me from seeing that of Lady Julia
Percy. Smoke arose from many parts of the lower country and showed that
the inhabitants were very generally scattered over its surface. We could
now look on such fires with indifference, so harmless were these natives
compared with those on the Darling, and the smoke now ascended in equal
abundance from the furthest verge of the horizon. It was impossible to
discover the sources of streams or the direction of any ranges visible in
the surrounding country; but upon the whole I concluded that the only
practicable route for us homewards at that time would be through the
forests and by passing as near as possible to the base of Mount Abrupt,
the south-eastern extremity of the Grampians. Several forest hills stood
above the extensive level country extending from our camp to Mount
Abrupt, but I could trace no connection between these hills, and was
rather apprehensive that a soft and swampy country intervened.
CRATER OF MOUNT NAPIER.
I had this day leisure to examine the crater on this hill more
particularly and found its breadth to be 446 feet; its average depth 80
feet. The cellular rocks and lava stood nearly perpendicular around one
portion of it; but there was a gap towards the west-north-west, on which
side the crater was open almost to its greatest depth. (See Plate 22.)
Several deep tongues of land descended from it to the west and
north-west, forming the base of the hill, and had somewhat of the
regularity of water-worn features. No marks of decomposition appeared in
the fragments projecting from the highest points, however much exposed.
On the contrary all the stringy twisted marks of fusion were as sharp and
fresh as if the lava had but recently cooled. One species of moss very
much resembled the Orchilla, and I thought it not impossible that this
valuable weed might be found here as it occurred on similar rocks at
Teneriffe. Just as I reached the highest summit this morning a
bronze-wing pigeon arose from it; a circumstance rather remarkable
considering that this was the only bird of that species seen on this side
the mountains besides the one we saw on Pigeon Ponds on the 3rd of
August. On returning to the camp I found that the carts had arrived soon
after my departure in the morning; but the men had the misfortune to lose
two bullocks in crossing the swampy stream where we had been previously
encamped. One was suffocated in the mud, and the other having lain down
in it could not be made to rise. By observing the stars alpha and beta
Centauri I ascertained the magnetic variation to be 3 degrees 2 minutes
45 seconds East, and by the sun's altitude observed this day at Mount
Napier I found the latitude of that hill to be 37 degrees 52 minutes 29
In order to lighten the carts as much as possible I caused the
packsaddles to be placed on the spare bullocks, and various articles
carried upon them; thus lightening to less than eight hundredweight each
the loads of two of the heavy carts which had narrow wheels and sunk most
in the ground. The old cover of the boat carriage was also laid aside,
and in its place some tarpaulins which had previously added to the loads
were laid across our remaining boat. A heavy jack used to raise
cartwheels was also left at this camp, and some iron bars that had been
taken from the boat-carriage when it was shortened. Thus lightened we
proceeded once more into the fields of mud, taking a northerly direction.
For several miles we encountered worse ground than we had ever crossed
before yet the carts came over it; but broad swamps still lay before us.
SWAMPS HARDER THAN THE GROUND AROUND THEM.
Despairing at length of being able to avoid them, I impatiently galloped
my horse into one and the carts followed, thanks to my impatience for
once, for I do not think that I should otherwise have discovered that a
swamp so uninviting could possibly have borne my horse, and still less
the carts. After this I ventured to pursue a less circuitous route.
AGAIN REACH THE GOOD COUNTRY.
About that time a yellow flower in the grass caught my eye and,
remembering that we had seen none of these golden flowers since we left
the beautiful valley of the Wannon, I ventured to hope that we were at
length approaching the good country at the head of that stream. Such was
my anxious wish when I perceived through the trees a glimpse of an open
grassy country, and immediately entered a fine clear valley with a lively
little stream flowing westward through it and which I named the Grange.
This was indeed one of the heads of the Wannon and we had at length
reached the good country. The contrast between it and that from which we
had emerged was obvious to all; even to the natives who for the first
time painted themselves in the evening and danced a spirited corrobory on
the occasion. This day Piper had seen two of the native inhabitants and
had endeavoured to persuade them to come to me, but all to no purpose
until at length, enraged at the unreasonable timidity of one of them, he
threw his tomahawk at him and nearly hit him as he edged off; an act of
which, as I told him in the strongest terms, I very much disapproved.
The course of the little stream being to the northward, I proceeded along
its right bank this morning until it turned to the north-west; but we
soon after came to another to which the former seemed to be but a
tributary. Its course was almost due west, and the valley in which it
flowed was deep and boldly escarped. The stream thundered along with
considerable rapidity over a rocky bottom consisting of the same sort of
trap or ancient lava. I had little doubt that this was the principal head
of the Wannon, a river crossed by us on the 11th of August. Meeting next
an important branch falling into it from the south-east and being obliged
to cross this, we effected the passage even with the carts, although the
horses were nearly swimming. We proceeded next along a continuous ridge
of fine firm ground covered with excellent grass, and soon after we saw
before us a smaller stream flowing under a broad grassy vale and, having
crossed it also without difficulty, we encamped in one of the valleys
beyond, where this tributary appeared to originate. A finer country could
scarcely be imagined: enormous trees of the mimosa or wattle of which the
bark is so valuable grew almost everywhere; and several new varieties of
Caladenia were found today. The blue, yellow, pink, and brown-coloured
were all observed on these flowery plains.
MOUNTS BAINBRIGGE AND PIERREPOINT.
The sublime peaks of the Grampians began to appear above the trees to the
northward, and two lower hills of trap-rock arose, one to the south-west
the other north-west of our camp. That to the northward I named Mount
Bainbrigge, the other on the south Mount Pierrepoint.
We broke up our camp early this morning and on reaching the highest
ground we discovered a large lake on our left: it was nearly circular,
about half a mile in circumference and surrounded by high firm banks from
which there was no visible outlet; I named it Lake Nivelle. At a few
miles beyond this lake the cheering sight of an open country extending to
the horizon first appeared through the trees; and we soon entered on
these fine downs where the gently undulating surface was firm under our
horses' feet and thickly clothed with excellent grass.
The cartwheels trundled merrily along, so that twelve miles were
accomplished soon after midday, and we encamped near the extreme southern
point of the Grampians, which I named Mount Sturgeon. The weather was
very wet but this troubled us the less as we had not known a day without
rain for several months.
ASCEND MOUNT ABRUPT.
I was most anxious to ascend Mount Abrupt, the first peak to the
northward of Mount Sturgeon, that I might close my survey of these
mountains and also reconnoitre the country before us. This morning clouds
hung upon the mountains however, and I could scarcely indulge a hope that
the weather would be favourable for the purposed survey; nevertheless I
bent my steps towards the mountain, having first set the carpenter to
work to make an additional width of felloe to the narrow wheels of one of
the carts, that it might pass with less difficulty over soft ground. We
soon came to a deep stream flowing not FROM but apparently TOWARDS the
mountains; its general course being westward. It was so deep that our
horses could scarcely ford it without swimming. Reeds grew about and the
bottom was soft, although two kinds of rock appeared in its banks. On the
right was trap, on the left the ferruginous sandstone of which all these
mountains consist. We soon entered on the barren and sandy but firm
ground at their base which, with its peculiar trees and shrubs, appeared
so different from the grassy plains. The banksia, the casuarina, and the
hardy xanthorrhoea reminded us of former toils on the opposite side of
VIEW OF THE GRAMPIANS FROM THE SUMMIT.
The weather turned out better than I had expected, and from the summit of
Mount Abrupt I beheld a truly sublime scene; the whole of the mountains,
quite clear of clouds, the grand outline of the more distant masses
blended with the sky, and forming a blue and purple background for the
numerous peaks of the range on which I stood, which consisted of sharp
cones and perpendicular cliffs foreshortened so as to form one grand
feature only of the extensive landscape, though composing a crescent
nearly 30 miles in extent: this range being but a branch from the still
more lofty masses of Mount William which crowned the whole. Towards the
coast there was less haze than usual, for I could distinguish Lady Julia
Percy's Isle which I had looked for in vain from Mount Napier, a point
twenty-four miles nearer to it. Here I could also trace the course of the
stream we had crossed that morning from its sources under the eastern
base of the mountains to a group of lower hills twenty-seven miles
distant to the westward; which hills, named by me Dundas group, formed a
most useful point in my trigonometrical survey.
Several extensive lakes appeared in the lowest parts adjacent; but what
interested me most after I had intersected the various summits was the
appearance of the country to the eastward, through which we were to find
our way home. There I saw a vast extent of open downs and could trace
their undulations to where they joined a range of mountains which,
judging by their outlines, appeared to be of easy access. Our straightest
way homewards passed just under a bluff head about fifty miles distant,
and so far I could easily perceive a most favourable line of route by
avoiding several large reedy lakes. Between that open country and these
lakes on one side and the coast on the other, a low woody ridge extended
eastward; and by first gaining that I hoped we should reach the open
ground in a direction which should enable us to leave all the lakes on
The largest pieces of water I could see were Lake Linlithgow and its
companion in the open grassy plains between the range and Mount Napier,
as previously discovered from that hill. Several small and very
picturesque lakes, then as smooth as mirrors, adorned the valley
immediately to the westward of the hill I was upon. They were fringed
with luxuriant shrubs so that it was really painful to me to hurry, as I
was then compelled to do, past spots like these, involving in their
unexplored recesses so much of novelty amidst the most romantic scenery.
The rock consisted of a finely-grained sandstone as in other parts of
that mass. The Grampians of the south consist of three ranges covering a
surface which extends latitudinally 54 miles and longitudinally 20 miles.
The extreme eastern and highest summit is Mount William, in height 4,500
feet above the sea. The northern point is Mount Zero, in latitude 36
degrees 52 minutes 35 seconds South, and the southern is Mount Sturgeon,
in latitude 37 degrees 38 minutes 00 seconds. I here again recognised the
outline of the most northern and elevated range extending from Mount
William to Mount Zero, but it was not so steep on the southern as on the
VICTORIA RANGE AND THE SERRA.
From this hill two other ranges branch off to the south; the western
being marked Victoria range on the map, the eastern, the Serra, from its
serrated appearance, the broken outlines they present being highly
ornamental to the fine country around. On the northern slopes of the
range are some forests of fine timber but in general the higher summits
are bare and rocky. The chief source of the Glenelg is between the
Victoria range and the most northern, whence it soon sinks into a deep
glen or ravine, receiving numberless tributaries from other dells
intersecting the adjacent country. A considerable branch of the Glenelg
named by the natives the Wannon has its sources in the eastern and
southern rivulets from these mountains. The waters falling northward
enter the Wimmera, a different river whose estuary has not yet been
explored. Returning towards the camp, on approaching the stream, we met
with one of the most strikingly beautiful species of the common genus
Pultenaea; its narrow heath-like leaves were so closely covered with soft
silky hairs as to have quite a silvery appearance and the branches were
loaded with the heads of yellow and brown flowers now fully open. It
formed a new species of the Proliferous section, allied to Pultenaea
(*Footnote. P. mollis, Lindley manuscripts; ramulis villosis, foliis
linearibus v. lineari-lanceolatis obtusis v. acuminatis subtus convexis
supra sulcatis sericeo-pilosis capitulis sessilibus longioribus, stipulis
ovato-linearibus acutis glabris badiis, calycibus villosis.)
PARTY IMPEDED BY THE MUD AGAIN, AND A BROKEN AXLE.
Pursuing an easterly course in order to avoid the Wannon we again found
the ground so soft and boggy that it was impossible to proceed; and after
advancing with incredible labour (under which one of the poor bullocks
fell to rise no more) barely four miles, I ordered the tents to be again
set up, but almost in despair for having performed during the previous
days several good journeys with perfect freedom from this species of
impediment, and having seen no indication of any change in the surface, I
had assured the men on descending from the mountains that the country
before us was favourable. We were nevertheless compelled to halt again at
this part by the breaking of the iron axle of one of the carts, for it
was necessary to endeavour to repair it before we could proceed. The
highest part of the woody ridge between us and the plains bore according
to my map due east, being distant 14 miles.
MR. STAPYLTON EXAMINES THE COUNTRY BEFORE US.
I gave that bearing to Mr. Stapylton who rode forward with Burnett to
ascertain how far we were from firmer ground, while I continued in my
tent occupied with the map of the mountains. It was dark before Mr.
Stapylton returned and brought the pleasing tidings that the soft ground
extended only to three or four miles from the camp, and that from beyond
that distance to the forest hills he had found the ground tolerably firm.
The country which proved so soft was nevertheless stony and trap-rock
projected from every higher portion; yet such rocky eminences being
unconnected each was surrounded by softer ground. I was resolved to make
the very most of them: but an iron axle having been broken in our
struggles with the mud, the smith required more time to repair it, and I
therefore determined to proceed with but half the equipment drawn by ALL
the bullocks, leaving Burnett and the remaining portion of the party and
equipment to come on next day by the same means, as soon as the cattle
could be sent back.
AT LENGTH GET THROUGH THE SOFT REGION.
Having previously examined the ground and carefully traced out the
hardest parts connecting these rocky features, I led the way with the
carts and got through the first part of the journey much better than any
of us had expected. After passing over four miles of soft boggy ground we
came to a small running stream, the surface beyond it rising to a
somewhat steep ascent. On reaching that side I found myself on a good
firm ridge along which I continued for some time until we reached a
swampy lagoon, the banks of which were very firm and good. Leaving this
on our right we at length saw the darkly wooded hills of the ridge before
mentioned; and having travelled eleven miles we encamped near a small
lagoon on a spot where there was excellent grass; but it was still
necessary to send back the poor cattle with their drivers that evening to
where the other party still remained encamped.
CATTLE QUITE EXHAUSTED.
This day the rest of the party came up but the cattle seemed quite
exhausted. They had at length become so weak from the continued heavy
dragging through mud that it was obvious they could not proceed much
further until after they had enjoyed at least some weeks of repose. But
our provisions did not admit of this delay as the time had arrived when I
ought to have been at Sydney although still so far from it.
DETERMINE TO LEAVE THEM IN A DEPOT TO REFRESH WHILE I PROCEED FORWARD.
After mature deliberation we hit upon a plan which might as I thought
enable us to escape. The arrangement proposed was that I should go
forward with some of the freshest of the cattle drawing the light carts
and boat, with a month's provisions, and taking with me as many men as
would enable me to leave with those who should remain provisions for two
months. That the cattle should rest at the present camp two weeks and
then proceed while I, by travelling so far before them with so light a
party, could send back a supply of provisions and also the boat, to meet
this second party following in my track on the banks of the Murray. Thus
I could reach Sydney some weeks sooner, and also carry on my survey much
more conveniently; the cattle, which had been sinking almost daily, would
be thus refreshed sufficiently to be able to travel and the chance of the
whole party suffering from famine would be much diminished. Such was the
outline of the plan which our position and necessities suggested.
This day was passed in making preparations for setting out tomorrow with
the light party as proposed.
SPECIMENS OF NATURAL HISTORY.
The catalogue of the objects of Natural History collected during the
journey included several birds and animals not hitherto mentioned in this
Journal. Amongst the most remarkable of these was the pig-footed animal
found on June 16. It measured about ten inches in length, had no tail,
and the forefeet resembled those of a pig. There was also the rat which
climbs trees like the opossum; the flat-tailed rat from the scrubs of the
Darling, where it builds an enormous nest of branches and boughs, so
interlaced as to be proof against any attacks of the native dog. The
unique specimen from the reedy country on the Murray of a very singular
animal much resembling the jerboa or desert rat of Persia; also a
rat-eared bat from the Lachlan. We had several new birds, but the most
admired of our ornithological discoveries was a white-winged superb
warbler from the junction of the Darling and the Murray, all the plumage
not white being of a bright blue colour; but of this we had obtained only
one specimen. I had not many opportunities of figuring the birds from
life, so very desirable in ornithological subjects. The eye of the eagle
and the rich crest of the cockatoo of the desert could not be preserved
in dead specimens, and were too fine to be omitted among the sketches I
endeavoured to snatch from nature.* Our herbarium had suffered from the
continued wet weather, especially in fording deep rivers; and this was
the more to be regretted as it contained many remarkable specimens. The
seeds and bulbous roots comprising varieties of Calostemma, Caladenia,
and Anguillaria, besides a number of large liliaceous bulbs, were however
preserved in a very good state.**
(*Footnote. See Plates 23 and 36.)
(**Footnote. The specimens of natural history were deposited in the
Museum at Sydney, according to my letter of instructions. The seeds,
amounting to 134 varieties, have been brought home and distributed, with
the obliging assistance of my friend Dr. Lindley, amongst the principal
gardens in this country. The bulbs, 62 in number, were planted soon after
my arrival in England, in the gardens of the Horticultural Society at
Chiswick. It was not without regret that I left at Sydney the single
specimens of the Chaeropus and Dipus, but I took drawings representing
each, of the natural size, and from these the figures in Plates 37 and 38
have been very accurately reduced by Mr. Picken.)
SITUATION OF DEPOT CAMP AT LAKE REPOSE.
The camp in which Mr. Stapylton's party was to remain two weeks was in as
favourable a place for refreshing the cattle as could be found. The
ground undulated and was thickly clothed with fresh verdure; a grassy
swamp also, such as cattle delight in, extended northward into a lake of
fresh water which I named Lake Repose. The peaks of the Serra Range and
especially Mount Abrupt were landmarks which secured the men from even
the possibility of losing their way in looking after the cattle.
Of the natives in our party it was arranged among themselves that Tommy
Came-first and The Widow, who most required a rest, having sore feet,
should remain with Mr. Stapylton and that Piper and Tommy Came-last
should accompany me.
Parting of The Widow and her child.
We at length emerge on much firmer ground.
Cockajemmy salt lakes.
Natives ill disposed.
Treacherous concealment of a native.
Contents of a native's basket and store.
A tribe comes forward.
Fine country for colonisation.
Hollows in the downs.
Ascend Mount Cole.
Enter on a granite country.
Lava, the surface rock.
Snakes eaten by the natives.
Ascend Mount Byng.
Excursion towards Port Phillip.
Discover and cross the river Barnard.
Emus numerous and tame.
The river Campaspe.
Effects of a storm in the woods.
Ascend Mount Macedon.
Port Phillip dimly seen from it.
Return to the camp.
Continue our homeward journey.
Waterfall of Cobaw.
Singular country on the Barnard.
Cross the Campaspe.
An English razor found.
Ascend Mount Campbell.
Valley of the Deegay.
Natives exchange baskets for axes.
They linger about our camp.
Effect of fireworks, etc.
Arrival at, and passage of, the Goulburn.
PARTING OF THE WIDOW AND HER CHILD.
When about to set out I observed that The Widow Turandurey, who was to
remain with Mr. Stapylton's party and the carts, was marked with white
round the eyes (the natives' fashion of mourning) and that the face of
her child Ballandella was whitened also. This poor woman who had
cheerfully carried the child on her back when we offered to carry both on
the carts, and who was as careful and affectionate as any mother could
be, had at length determined to entrust to me the care of this infant. I
was gratified with such a proof of the mother's confidence in us, but I
should have been less willing to take charge of her child had I not been
aware of the wretched state of slavery to which the natives females are
doomed. I felt additional interest in this poor child from the
circumstance of her having suffered so much by the accident that befel
her while with our party, and which had not prevented her from now
preferring our mode of living so much that I believe the mother at length
despaired of being ever able to initiate her thoroughly in the mysteries
of killing and eating snakes, lizards, rats, and similar food. The widow
had been long enough with us to be sensible how much more her sex was
respected by civilised men than savages, and, as I conceived, it was with
such sentiments that she committed her child to my charge, under the
immediate care however of Piper's gin.
WE AT LENGTH EMERGE ON MUCH FIRMER GROUND.
For several miles we met with soft ground at the low connecting parts of
hills, but we at length gained the woody ridge so likely, as I had hoped,
to favour our progress. Its turnings were intricate but, by one or two
rivulets falling to my left and then by others falling to the right, I
learnt how to keep on the intermediate ground until at length, after a
journey of nine miles, we emerged from the woods on a firm open surface
and an extensive prospect was seen before us. Leaving the party to encamp
I rode to a round forest hill some miles to the eastward and obtained a
comprehensive view of the Grampians, and also of the country to the
northward which now appeared to be chiefly open; and I had little doubt
that we should find it more favourable for travelling upon. Eastward of
the forest hill the ground sank into a deep valley which turned round to
the south-east after receiving the drainage from some hollows in the open
country north of it.
This ravine received also the waters from the woody ridge now south of
us, where the numerous deep valleys were irrigated by streams arising in
swamps; the whole probably forming the head of some more important stream
flowing to the coast and which I here named the river Hopkins. This
eminence, which I distinguished as Mount Stavely, consisted apparently of
decomposed clay-stone or felspar, having a tendency to divide naturally
into regular prisms. A very beautiful and singular-looking shrub appeared
on the hills we crossed this day, and also on the open ground where
indeed it was most abundant. It was a species of acacia, the leaves
adhering edgeways to thorny branches; many of these shrubs were in
blossom, the flowers being yellow and as large and round as marbles, and
those growing very thickly, they gave to the branches the appearance of
garlands or festoons, the effect altogether being extremely graceful and
singular. We found also a beautiful new species of acacia looking like a
broad-leaved variety of A. armata. The branches were singularly protected
by short spiny forks which proved to be the hardened permanent stipules.*
(*Footnote. A. furcifera, Lindley manuscripts; stipulis spinescentibus
persistentibus, phyllodiis obliquis ovato-oblongis mucronatis uninerviis
hinc venosis glabris, ramis hirsutis, capitulis solitariis foliis
With this occurred another species with hard stiff scymetar-shaped leaves
and a profusion of balls of browner yellow flowers which had been
previously observed (on June 22) in a more vigorous condition.* By
observations from this hill I made the height of Mount William about
4,500 feet above the sea.
(*Footnote. This was most nearly related to A. hispidula, but the leaves
were quite smooth and much smaller. A. acinacea, Lindley manuscripts;
glaberrima; ramulis alato-angulatis rigidis, phyllodiis brevibus
acinaciformibus mucronatis 1-nerviis et enerviis: margine superiore infra
medium glanduloso, capitulis geminis axillaribus, pedunculis phyllodiorum
Our wheels now rolled lightly over fine grassy downs and our faces were
turned towards distant home. Before us arose a low, thinly-wooded hill,
which at first bounded our view towards the north, and afterwards proved
to be the feature connecting the low woody ridge near our last camp with
the hills still further to the northward. On reaching the summit I
perceived that a considerable extent of open country intervened, being
watered in the lower parts by several lakes.
MOUNT NICHOLSON. COCKAJEMMY SALT LAKES.
Descending northward along an offset of the same hills which had led us
in that direction and which I now named Mount Nicholson, I observed that
the lakes occurred at intervals in a valley apparently falling from the
westward in which no stream appeared, although it was shut in by well
escarped rocky banks. We encamped after a journey of ten miles at a point
where another valley from the north joined the above, and I was somewhat
surprised to find after encamping that the water in the adjacent lakes
was extremely salt. No connection existed by means of any channel between
them although they formed together a chain of lagoons in the bed of a
deep and well defined valley. On the contrary the soil was particularly
solid and firm between them, and the margin of the most eastern of these
lakes was separated by a high bank from the bed of another valley where a
running stream of pure water flowed over a broad and swampy bed fifteen
feet higher than the adjacent valley containing the stagnant salt lakes.
The rock enclosing these singular valleys was basalt, and from these
peculiarities, considered with reference to the ancient volcano and the
dip of a mountain strata to the north-west, it was evident that some
upheaving or subsidence had materially altered the levels of the original
I could find no brine-springs in or about these lakes, and as it was
evident that a stream had once washed the bed of the ravine now occupied
by them, I may leave the solution of the problem to geologists.
(*Footnote. Having submitted specimens of the water from these and other
salt lakes of the interior to my friend Professor Faraday, I have been
favoured with the following particulars respecting their contents: "All
of them are solutions of common salt much surpassing the ocean or even
the Mediterranean in the quantity of salt dissolved. Besides the common
salt there are present (in comparatively small quantity) portions of
sulphates and muriates of lime and magnesia: the waters are neutral and
except in strength very much resemble those of the ocean. That labelled
Greenhill Lake 24th July had a specific gravity of 1049.4 and three
measured ounces gave on evaporation 97 grains of dry salts. That labelled
Mitre Lake 24th July had a specific gravity of 1038.6, and three measured
ounces of it yielded 77 grains of dry saline matter. The water labelled
Cockajemmy Lake Camp 20th September had a specific gravity of 1055.3 and
the amount of dry salts from three measured ounces was 113 grains.")
NATIVES ILL DISPOSED.
As we proceeded over the open ground before we reached the spot where we
finally encamped several natives appeared at a great distance in a valley
eastward of Mount Nicholson, and Piper went towards them supported by
Brown whom I sent after him on horseback. They proved to be three or four
gins only, but Piper continued to pursue them to the top of a hill, when
a number of men armed with spears suddenly started from behind trees and
were running furiously towards Piper when Brown rode up. On presenting
his pistol they came to a full stop, thereby showing that they had some
idea of firearms, although they refused to answer Piper's questions or to
remain longer. In the evening, four of them approaching our camp, Piper
went forward with Burnett to meet them. They advanced to the tents
apparently without fear, and I obtained from them the names of various
localities. On being questioned respecting Cadong, they told us that all
these waters ran into it, and pointed to the south-east, saying that I
should by-and-bye see it. When I found we could obtain no more
information I presented the most intelligent of them with a tomahawk, on
which they went slowly away, repeatedly turning round towards us and
saying something which, according to Piper, had reference to their tribe
coming again and dancing a corrobory, a proposal these savage tribes
often make and which the traveller who knows them well will think it
better to discourage.
These men carried a singular kind of malga, of a construction different
from any Piper had ever seen. The malga is a weapon usually made in the
form of Figure 2, but that with which these natives were provided
somewhat resembled a pick-axe with one half broken off, and was of the
form of Figure 1, being made so as to be thickest at the angle. The blow
of such a formidable weapon could not be easily parried from the
uncertainty whether it would be aimed with the thick heavy corner or the
sharp point. All the weapons of this singular race are peculiar and this
one was not the least remarkable.
TREACHEROUS CONCEALMENT OF A NATIVE.
At dusk while Woods was looking after the cattle near the camp he
surprised a native concealed behind a small bush, who did not make his
escape until Woods was within two yards of him.
CONTENTS OF A NATIVE'S BASKET AND STORE.
How many more had been about we could not ascertain, but next morning we
found near the spot one of the bags usually carried by gins and
containing the following samples of their daily food: three snakes; three
rats; about 2 pounds of small fish, like white bait; crayfish; and a
quantity of the small root of the cichoraceous plant tao, usually found
growing on the plains with a bright yellow flower. There were also in the
bag various bodkins and colouring stones, and two mogos or stone hatchets
(Figure 5). It seemed that our civility had as usual inspired these
savages with a desire to beat our brains out while asleep, and we were
thankful that in effecting their cowardly designs they had been once more
A TRIBE COMES FORWARD.
Early in the morning a tribe of about forty were seen advancing toward
our camp preceded by the four men who had been previously there. Having
determined that they should not approach us again, I made Piper advance
to them and inquire what they wanted last night behind the bush, pointing
at the same time to the spot. They returned no answer to this question,
but continued to come forward until I ordered a burning bush to be waved
at them and, when they came to a stand without answering Piper's
question, I ordered a party of our men to charge them, whereupon they all
scampered off. We saw them upon our encamping ground after we had
proceeded about two miles, but they did not attempt to follow us. Whether
they would find a letter which I had buried there for Mr. Stapylton or
not, we could only hope to discover after that gentleman's return to the
colony. It was understood between us that, where a cross was cut in the
turf where my tent had stood, he would find a note under the centre of
the cross. This I buried by merely pushing a stick into the earth and
dropping into the hole thus made the note twisted up like a cigar. The
letter was written chiefly to caution him about these natives. Basalt
appeared in the sides of the ravine which contained the salt lakes and in
equal abundance and of the same quality in that which enclosed the living
stream where it lay in blocks forming small cliffs. Finding at length a
favourable place for crossing this stream, we traversed the ravine and
resumed our direct course towards the southern extremity of a distant
range named Mammala by the natives, the bluff head previously seen from
Mount Abrupt (see above).
FINE COUNTRY FOR COLONISATION.
We now travelled over a country quite open, slightly undulating, and well
covered with grass. To the westward the noble outline of the Grampians
terminated a view extending over vast plains fringed with forests and
embellished with lakes. To the northward appeared other more
accessible-looking hills, some being slightly wooded, some green and
quite clear to their summits, long grassy vales and ridges intervening:
while to the eastward the open plain extended as far as the eye could
reach. Our way lay between distant ranges which in that direction mingled
with the clouds. Thus I had both the low country, which was without
timber, and the well wooded hills within reach, and might choose either
for our route, according to the state of the ground, weather, etc.
Certainly a land more favourable for colonisation could not be found.
Flocks might be turned out upon its hills, or the plough at once set to
work in the plains. No primeval forests required to be first rooted out,
although there was enough of wood for all purposes of utility and as much
also for embellishment as even a painter could wish.
HOLLOWS IN THE DOWNS.
One feature peculiar to that country appeared on these open downs: it
consisted of hollows which, being usually surrounded by a line of yarra
gumtrees or whitebark eucalyptus, seemed at a distance to contain lakes,
but instead of water I found only blocks of vesicular trap, consisting
apparently of granular felspar, and hornblende rock also appeared in the
banks enclosing them. Some of these hollows were of a winding character,
as if they were the remains of ancient watercourses; but if ever currents
flowed there the surface must have undergone considerable alteration
since, for the downs where these hollows appeared were elevated at least
900 feet above the sea and surrounded on all sides by lower ground. There
was an appearance of moisture among the rocks in some of these
depressions; and whether by digging a few feet permanent wells might be
made may be a question worth attention when colonisation extends to that
country. We found on other parts of this open ground large blocks
composed of irregular concretions of ironstone, covered with a thin
coating of compact brown haematite. The purple-ringed Anguillaria dioica,
first seen on Pyramid Hill, again appeared here; and in many places the
ground was quite yellow with the flowers of the cichoraceous plant tao
whose root, small as it is, constitutes the food of the native women and
children. The cattle are very fond of the leaves of this plant and seemed
to thrive upon it. We also found a new bulbine with a delicate yellow
flower being perfectly distinct from both the species described by
(*Footnote. This has been planted with the others in the Horticultural
Gardens at Chiswick and was the first to flower there, a head having been
sent to me on the 8th May last by Dr. Lindley who describes it thus:
Bulbine suavis; radice fasciculata, foliis longissimis attenuatis
semiteretibus basi canaliculatis glaucis, racemo erecto multifloro,
petalis oblongis subundulatis sepalis duplo latioribus, staminibus
ascendentibus, filamentis apice stuposis petalinis patentibus sepalinis
erectis apice incurvis brevioribus.)
The genial warmth of spring had begun to show its influence on these
plants and also brought the snakes from their holes, for on this day in
particular it was ascertained that twenty-two had been killed by the
party. These were all of that species not venomous I believe which the
natives eat. We encamped near a small clump of trees for the sake of
This day's journey lay chiefly across open downs with wooded hills
occasionally to the left. On the southward these downs extended to the
horizon: and several isolated hills at great distances, apparently of
trap, presented an outline like the volcanic Mount Napier. All the
various small rivulets we traversed in our line of route seemed to flow
in that direction. Having crossed three of these we encamped on the right
bank of the fourth. The hills on our left were of granite and as
different as possible in appearance from the mountains to the westward
which were all of red sandstone. In the afternoon there was a
thunderstorm but the sky became again perfectly serene in the evening.
This morning a thick fog hung over us; but having well reconnoitred the
country beyond I knew that I might travel in a straight line over open
ground for several miles. When the fog arose some finely wooded hills
appeared on our right; but after advancing seven miles on good firm earth
we again came upon very soft ground which obliged us to turn and wind and
pick our way wherever the surface seemed most likely to bear us.
The fog was succeeded by a fine warm day, and as we proceeded we saw two
gins and their children at work separately on a swampy meadow; and, quick
as the sight of these natives is, we had travelled long within view
before they observed us. They were spread over the field much in the
manner in which emus and kangaroos feed on plains, and we observed them
digging in the ground for roots. All carried bags and when Piper went
towards them they ran with great speed across the vast open plains to the
This day we perceived the fresh track of several bullocks, a very
extraordinary circumstance in that situation. The beautiful
yellow-wreathed acacia was not to be seen after we quitted the open
country. The ground was becoming almost hopelessly soft, when we reached
a small run of water from the hills and, by keeping along its bank, we
had the good fortune to reach an extremity of the range where the solid
granite was as welcome to our feet as a dry beach is to shipwrecked
ASCEND MOUNT COLE.
We had at length arrived under Mammala, the bluff hill which had been my
landmark from the time I left Mr. Stapylton. I found this was the
southern extremity of a lofty range which I lost no time in ascending
after I had fixed on a spot for the camp. It consisted of huge blocks of
granite,* and was crowned with such lofty timber that I could only catch
occasional peeps of the surrounding country: nevertheless I obtained, by
moving about among the trees with my pocket sextant, almost all the
angles I wanted; and I thus connected the survey of the region I was
leaving with that I was about to enter. My first view over this eastern
country was extensive, and when I at length descended to a projecting
rock I found the prospect extremely promising, the land being variegated
with open plains and strips of forest, and studded with smooth green
hills of the most beautiful forms. In the extreme distance a range much
resembling that on which I stood declined at its southern extremity in
the same manner as this did, and thus left me a passage precisely in the
most direct line of route homewards.
(*Footnote. Consisting of pink felspar, white quartz and silvery mica.)
ENTER ON A GRANITE COUNTRY.
The carts had still however to cross the range at which we had arrived
and which, as I perceived here, not only extended southward but also
broke into bold ravines on the eastern side, being connected with some
noble hills, or rather mountains, all grassy to their summits, thinly
wooded and consisting wholly of granite. They resembled very much some
hills of the lower Pyrenees in Spain, only that they were more grassy and
less acclivitous, and I named this hill Mount Cole. To the southward the
sea-haze dimmed the horizon: but I perceived the eastern margin of a
large piece of water bearing south-south-east, and which I supposed might
be Cadong. It was sheltered on the south-east by elevated ground
apparently very distant, but no high range appeared between us and that
inlet of the sea. On the contrary the heights extending southward from
this summit, being connected with the highest and most southern hills
visible from it, seemed to be the only high land or separation of the
waters falling north and south. With such a country before us I bade
adieu to swamps and returned well pleased to the camp, being guided to it
only by the gushing torrent, for I had remained on the hill as long as
The morning was rainy and our way having to be traced up the ravines and
round the hills was very tortuous for the first three miles. We then
reached the dividing part of the range and descended immediately after
into valleys of a less intricate character. Having passed over the swampy
bed of a rivulet flowing southward, and having also crossed several fine
bold ridges with good streams between them, we at length encamped near a
round hill which, being clear on the summit, was therefore a favourable
station for the theodolite. This hill also consisted of granite and
commanded an open and extensive view over the country to the eastward.
One bold range of forest land appeared before us and after crossing it we
passed over several rivulets falling northward, then over a ridge of
trappean conglomerate with embedded quartz pebbles, and descended into a
valley of the finest description. Grassy hills clear of timber appeared
beyond a stream also flowing northward. These hills consisted of old
vesicular lava. We next entered a forest of very large trees of ironbark
eucalyptus, and we finally encamped in a grassy valley in the midst of
We first crossed more hills of the trappean conglomerate on which grew
ironbark eucalypti and box. The rock consisted of a base of compact
felspar with embedded grains of quartz, giving to some parts the
character of conglomerate, and there were also embedded crystals of
common felspar. By diverging a little to the right we entered upon an
open tract of the most favourable aspect, stretching away to the
south-west among similar hills until they were lost in the extreme
distance. The whole surface was green as an emerald and on our right for
some miles ran a fine rivulet between steep grassy banks and over a bed
At length this stream was joined by two others coming through similar
grassy valleys from the south; and when we approached two lofty smooth
round hills, green to their summits, the united streams flowed in an open
dell which our carts rolled through without meeting any impediment. I
ascended the most western of these hills as it was a point which I had
observed from various distant stations, and I enjoyed such a charming
view eastward from the summit as can but seldom fall to the lot of the
explorers of new countries. The surface presented the forms of pristine
beauty clothed in the hues of spring; and the shining verdure of these
smooth and symmetrical hills was relieved by the darker hues of the wood
with which they were interlaced; which exhibited every variety of tint,
from a dark brown in the foreground to a light blue in extreme distance.
LAVA, THE SURFACE ROCK.
The hills consisted entirely of lava and I named them from their peculiar
shape the Mammeloid hills, and the station on which I stood Mount
Greenock. In travelling through this Eden no road was necessary, nor any
ingenuity in conducting wheel-carriages wherever we chose. The beautiful
little terrestrial orchidaceous plants Caladenia dilatata and Diuris
aurea were already in full bloom; and we also found on the plains this
day a most curious little bush resembling a heath in foliage, but with
solitary polypetalous flowers resembling those of Sollya.* When we had
completed fourteen miles we encamped on the edge of an open plain and
near a small rivulet, the opposite bank consisting of grassy forest land.
(*Footnote. This has been ascertained to be a new species of the genus
Campylanthera of Hooker, or Pronaya of Baron Hugel, of which two species
were found by the latter botanist and the late Mr. Frazer at Swan River.
Campylanthera ericoides, Lindley manuscripts; erecta, fruticosa, glabra,
foliis oblongo-cuneatis mucronatis margine revolutis, floribus solitariis
terminalibus erectis, antheris subrotundis.)
I was surprised to hear the voice of a Scotchwoman in the camp this
morning. The peculiar accent and rapid utterance could not be mistaken as
I thought, and I called to inquire who the stranger was, when I
ascertained that it was only Tommy Came-last who was imitating a Scotch
female who, as I then learnt, was at Portland Bay and had been very kind
to Tommy. The imitation was ridiculously true through all the modulations
of that peculiar accent although, strange to say, without the
pronunciation of a single intelligible word. The talent of the aborigines
for imitation seems a peculiar trait in their character. I was informed
that The Widow could also amuse the men occasionally by enacting their
leader, taking angles, drawing from nature, etc.
While the party went forward over the open plains with Mr. Stapylton I
ascended a smooth round hill, distant about a mile to the southward of
our camp, from which I could with ease continue my survey by means of
hills on all sides, the highest of them being to the southward. I could
trace the rivulets flowing northward into one or two principal channels,
near several masses of mountain: these channels and ranges being probably
connected with those crossed by us on our route from the Murray. In these
bare hills and on the open grassy plains, old vesicular lava abounded;
small loose elongated fragments lay on the round hills, having a red
scorified appearance and being also so cellular as to be nearly as light
as pumice. We this day crossed several fine running streams and forests
of box and bluegum growing on ridges of trappean conglomerate. At length
we entered on a very level and extensive flat, exceedingly green and
resembling an English park. It was bounded on the east by a small river
flowing to the north-west (probably the Loddon) and abrupt but grassy
slopes arose beyond its right bank. After crossing this stream we
encamped, having travelled nearly fifteen miles in one straight line
bearing 60 1/2 degrees east of north. This tract was rather of a
different character from that of the fine country of which we had
previously seen so much, and we saw for the first time the Discaria
australis, a remarkable green leafless spiny bush and resembling in a
most striking manner the Colletias of Chili. Sheltered on every side by
woods or higher ground, the spring seemed more advanced there than
elsewhere, and our hard wrought cattle well deserved to be the first to
browse on that verdant plain. The stream in its course downwards vanished
amongst grassy hills to water a country apparently of the most
interesting and valuable character.
The steep banks beyond the river consisted of clay-slate having under it
a conglomerate containing fragments of quartz cemented by compact
SNAKES EATEN BY THE NATIVES.
The day was hot and we killed several large snakes of the species eaten
by the natives. I observed that our guides looked at the colour of the
belly when in any doubt about the sort they preferred; these were
white-bellied, whereas the belly of a very fierce one with a large head,
of which Piper and the others seemed much afraid, was yellow. On cutting
this snake open two young quails were found within: one of them not being
quite dead. The country we crossed during the early part of the day was
at least as fine as that we had left. We passed alternately through
strips of forest and over open flats well watered, the streams flowing
southward; and at nine miles we crossed a large stream also flowing in
that direction: all these being evidently tributaries to that on which we
had been encamped. Beyond the greater stream, where we last crossed it,
the country presented more of the mountain character, but good strong
grass grew among the trees, which consisted of box and lofty bluegum.
After making out upwards of eleven miles, we encamped in a valley where
water lodged in holes and where we found also abundance of grass. We were
fast approaching those summits which had guided me in my route from Mount
Cole, then more than fifty miles behind us. Like that mountain these
heights also belonged to a lofty range, and like it were beside a very
low part of it, through which I hoped to effect a passage. Leaving the
party to encamp I proceeded forward in search of the hill I had so long
seen before me, and I found that the hills immediately beyond our camp
were part of the dividing range and broken into deep ravines on the
eastern side. Pursuing the connection between them and the still higher
summits on the north-east, I came at length upon an open valley enclosed
by hills very lightly wooded. This change was evidently owing to a
difference in the rock which was a fine-grained granite, whereas the
hills we had recently crossed belonged chiefly to the volcanic class of
rocks, with the exception of the range I had traversed that evening in my
way from the camp, which consisted of ferruginous sandstone. With the
change of rock a difference was also obvious in the shape of the hills,
the quantity and quality of the water, and the character of the trees.
The hills presented a bold sweeping outline and were no longer broken by
sharp-edged strata but crowned with large round masses of rock. Running
water was gushing from every hollow in much greater abundance than
elsewhere; and lastly the timber, which on the other ranges consisted
chiefly of ironbark and stringybark, now presented the shining bark of
the bluegum or yarra and the grey hue of the box. The Anthisteria
australis, a grass which seems to delight in a granitic soil, also
appeared in great abundance, and we also found the aromatic tea, Tasmania
aromatica, which represents in New Holland the winter's bark of the
southern extremity of South America. The leaves and bark of this tree
have a hot biting cinnamon-like taste on which account it is vulgarly
called the pepper-tree.
ASCEND MOUNT BYNG.
I could ride with ease to the summit of the friendly hill that I had seen
from afar, and found it but thinly wooded so that I could take my angles
around the horizon without difficulty. Again reminded by the similar
aspect this region presented of the lower Pyrenees and the pass of
Orbaicetta, I named the summit Mount Byng.
A country fully as promising as the fine region we had left was embraced
in my view from that point. I perceived long patches of open plain
interspersed with forest hills and low woody ranges, among which I could
trace out a good line of route for another fifty miles homewards. The
highest of the mountains lay to the south and evidently belonged to the
coast range, if it might be so called; and on that side a lofty mass
arose above the rest and promised a view towards the sea, that height
being distant from the hill on which I stood about thirty miles. A broad
chain of woody hills connected the coast range with Mount Byng, and I
could trace the general course of several important streams through the
country to the east of it. Northward I saw a little of the interior
plains and the points where the various ranges terminated upon them. The
sun was setting when I left Mount Byng but I depended on one of our
natives, Tommy Came-last, who was then with me, for finding our way to
the camp; and who on such occasions could trace my steps backwards with
wonderful facility by day or night.
The range before us was certainly rather formidable for the passage of
carts, but home lay beyond it, while delay and famine were synonymous
terms with us at that time. By following up the valley in which we had
encamped I found early on this morning an easy way through which the
carts might gain the lowest part of the range. Having conducted them to
this point without any other inconvenience besides the overturning of one
cart (from bad driving) we descended along the hollow of a ravine after
making it passable by throwing some rocks into the narrow part near its
head. The ravine at length opened, as I had expected, into a grassy
valley with a fine rivulet flowing through it, and from this valley we
debouched into the still more open granitic country at the foot of Mount
Byng. The pass thus auspiciously discovered and opened, over a neck
apparently the very lowest of the whole range, I named Expedition-pass,
confident that such a line of communication between the southern coast
and Sydney must, in the course of time, become a very considerable
thoroughfare. The change of soil however introduced us to the old
difficulty from which we had been happily relieved for some time, for we
came once more upon rotten and boggy ground. We met with this unexpected
impediment in an open-looking flat near a rivulet I was about to cross,
when I found the surface so extremely soft and yielding that from the
extreme resistance a bolt of the boat-carriage gave way, a circumstance
which obliged us immediately to encamp although we had travelled only
EXCURSION TOWARDS PORT PHILLIP.
Compelled thus to await the repair of the boat-carriage I determined to
make an excursion to the lofty mountain mass which appeared about thirty
miles to the southward, in order that I might connect my survey with Port
Phillip, which I hoped to see thence. The horses were not found as soon
as they were required, but when we at last got upon their backs we were
therefore less disposed to spare them.
DISCOVER AND CROSS THE RIVER BARNARD.
We crossed some soft hollows during the first few miles, and then arrived
on the banks of a small and deep river with reeds on its borders, and
containing many broad and deep reaches. It was full and flowed, but not
rapidly, towards the north-east, and it was not until we had continued
along the left bank of this stream for a considerable way upwards that we
found a rapid where we could cross without swimming. The left bank was of
bold acclivity but grassy and clear of timber, being very level on the
summit; and I found it consisted of trap-rock of the same vesicular
character which I had observed in so many other parts of this southern
region. Beyond the river (which I then named the Barnard) we first
encountered a hilly country from which we emerged rather unexpectedly;
for after crossing a small rivulet flowing in a deep and grassy dell
where trap-rock again appeared, and ascending the opposite slope, we
found that the summit consisted of an open level country of the finest
description. It was covered with the best kind of grass and the immediate
object of our ride, the mountain, was now visible beyond these rich
plains. Some fine forest-hills arose in various directions to the right
and left, and indeed I never saw a more pleasing or promising portion of
territory. The rich open ground across which we rode was not without
slight undulations; and when we had traversed about four miles of it we
came quite unawares to a full and flowing stream, nearly on a level with
its grassy banks; the bottom being so sound that we forded it without the
EMUS NUMEROUS AND TAME.
Emus were very numerous on the downs and their curiosity brought them to
stare at our horses, apparently unconscious of the presence of the biped
on their backs whom both birds and beasts seem instinctively to avoid. In
one flock I counted twenty-nine emus, and so near did they come to us
that, having no rifle with me, I was tempted to discharge even my pistol
at one, although without effect. Kangaroos were equally numerous. Having
proceeded three miles beyond the stream we came to another flowing to the
westward between some very deep ponds, and it was probably a tributary to
THE RIVER CAMPASPE.
At twenty-two miles from the camp, on descending from some finely
undulating open ground, we arrived at a stream flowing westward, which I
judged to be also a branch of that we had first crossed. Its bed
consisted of granitic rocks and on the left bank I found trap. We had
this stream afterwards in sight on our left until, at two miles further,
we again crossed it and entered a wood of eucalyptus, being then only
five miles distant from the mountain, and we subsequently found that this
wood extended to its base.
EFFECTS OF A STORM IN THE WOODS.
The effects of some violent hurricane from the north were visible under
every tree, the earth being covered with broken branches, some of which
were more than a foot in diameter; the withering leaves remained upon
them, and I remarked that no whole trees had been blown down, although
almost all had lost their principal limbs and not a few had been reduced
to bare poles. The havoc which the storm had made gave an unusual aspect
to the whole of the forest land, so universally was it covered with
withering branches. Whether this region is subject to frequent
visitations of a like nature I could not of course then ascertain; but I
perceived that many of the trees had lost some of their top limbs at a
much earlier period in a similar manner. Neither had this been but a
partial tempest, for to the very base of the mountain the same effects
were visible. The trees on its side were of a much grander character than
those in the forest, and consisted principally of black-butt and bluegum
eucalypti measuring from six to eight feet in diameter. The rock was
syenite, so weathered as to resemble sandstone.
ASCEND MOUNT MACEDON.
I ascended without having been obliged to alight from my horse, and I
found that the summit was very spacious, being covered towards the south
with tree-ferns, and the musk-plant grew in great luxuriance. I saw also
many other plants found at the Illawarra, on the eastern coast of the
colony of New South Wales. The summit was full of wombat holes and,
unlike that side by which I had ascended, it was covered with the dead
trunks of enormous trees in all stages of decay.
PORT PHILLIP DIMLY SEEN FROM IT.
I had two important objects in view in ascending this hill; one being to
determine its position trigonometrically as a point likely to be seen
from the country to which I was going, where it might be useful to me in
fixing other points; the other being to obtain a view of Port Phillip,
and thus to connect my survey with that harbour. But the tree-fern,
musk-plant, brush, and lofty timber together shut us up for a long time
from any prospect of the low country to the southward, and it was not
until I had nearly exhausted a fine sunny afternoon in wandering round
the broad summit that I could distinguish and recognise some of the hills
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