Two Expeditions into the Interior of Southern Australia Complete
Charles Sturt

Part 1 out of 8




"For though most men are contented only to see a river as it runs by
them, and talk of the changes in it as they happen; when it is troubled,
or when clear; when it drowns the country in a flood, or forsakes it in a
drought: yet he that would know the nature of the water, and the causes of
those accidents (so as to guess at their continuance or return), must find
out its source, and observe with what strength it rises, what length it
runs, and how many small streams fall in, and feed it to such a height,
as make it either delightful or terrible to the eye, and useful or
dangerous to the country about it."...SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE'S NETHERLANDS.

Lord Privy Seal
&c. &c. &c.


The completion of this Work affords me the opportunity I have long desired
of thanking your Lordship thus publicly, for the kindness with which you
acceded to my request to be permitted to dedicate it to you.

The encouragement your Lordship was pleased to give me has served to
stimulate me in the prosecution of a task, which would, I fear, have been
too great for me to have accomplished in my present condition, under any
ordinary views of ambition. Indeed, labouring as I have been for many
months past, under an almost total deprivation of sight, (the effect of
exposure and anxiety of mind in the prosecution of geographical
researches,) I owe it to the casual assistance of some of my friends, that
I am at length enabled to lay these results before your Lordship and the

While I feel a painful conviction that many errors must necessarily
pervade a work produced under such unfavourable circumstances, it affords
me no small consolation to reflect that Your Lordship has been aware of my
situation, and will be disposed to grant me every reasonable indulgence.

I have the honor to be,
With the highest respect,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's
Very obedient and humble servant,

London, June, 1833.



Purpose of this Chapter--Name of Australia--Impressions of its early
Visitors--Character of the Australian rivers--Author's first view of Port
Jackson--Extent of the Colony of New South Wales--its rapid advances in
prosperity--Erroneous impressions--Commercial importance of Sydney--Growth
of fine wool--Mr. M'Arthur's meritorious exertions--Whale-fishery--Other
exports--Geographical features--Causes of the large proportion of bad
soil--Connection between the geology and vegetation--Geological features--
Character of the soil connected with the geological formation--County of
Cumberland--Country westward of the Blue Mountains--Disadvantages of the
remote settlers--Character of the Eastern coast--Rich tracts in the
interior--Periodical droughts--The seasons apparently affected by the
interior marshes--Temperature--Fruits--Emigrants: Causes of their success
or failure--Moral disadvantages--System of emigration recommended--Hints
to emigrants--Progress of inland discovery--Expeditions across the Blue
Mountains--Discoveries of Mr. Evans, Mr. Oxley, and others--Conjectures
respecting the interior.

IN 1828 AND 1829.


State of the Colony in 1828-29--Objects of the Expedition--Departure
from Sydney--Wellington Valley--Progress down the Macquarie--Arrival at
Mount Harris--Stopped by the marshes--Encamp amidst reeds--Excursions down
the river--Its termination-- Appearance of the marshes--Opthalmic
affection of the men--Mr. Hume's successful journey to the northward--
Journey across the plain--Second great marsh--Perplexities--Situation of
the exploring party--Consequent resolutions.


Prosecution of our course into the interior--Mosquito Brush--Aspect and
productions of the country--Hunting party of natives--Courageous conduct
of one of them--Mosquitoes--A man missing--Group of hills called
New-Year's Range--Journey down New-Year's Creek--Tormenting attack of the
kangaroo fly--Dreariness and desolation of the country--Oxley's Table
Land--D'Urban's Group--Continue our journey down New-Year's Creek--
Extreme Disappointment on finding it salt--Fall in with a tribe of
natives--Our course arrested by the want of fresh water--Extraordinary
sound--Retreat towards the Macquarie.


Intercourse with the natives--Their appearance and condition--Remarks on
the Salt or Darling River--Appearance of the marshes on our return--
Alarm for safety of the provision party--Return to Mount Harris--Miserable
condition of the natives--Circumstances attending the slaughter of two
Irish runaways--Bend our course towards the Castlereagh--Wallis's Ponds--
Find the famished natives feeding on gum--Channel of the Castlereagh--
Character of the country in its vicinity--Another tribe of natives--
Amicable intercourse with them--Morrisset's chain of Ponds--Again reach the
Darling River ninety miles higher up than where we first struck upon it.


Perplexity--Trait of honesty in the natives--Excursion on horseback across
the Darling--Forced to return--Desolating effects of the drought--Retreat
towards the colony--Connection between the Macquarie and the Darling--
Return up the banks of the Macquarie--Starving condition of the natives.


General remarks--Result of the expedition--Previous anticipations--
Mr. Oxley's remarks--Character of the Rivers flowing westerly--
Mr. Cunningham's remarks--Fall of the Macquarie--Mr. Oxley's erroneous
conclusions respecting the character of the interior, naturally inferred
from the state in which he found the country--The marsh of the Macquarie
merely a marsh of the ordinary character--Captain King's observations--
Course of the Darling--Character of the low interior plain--The convict
Barber's report of rivers traversing the interior--Surveyor-General
Mitchell's Report of his recent expedition.


Concluding Remarks--Obstacles that attend travelling into the interior
of Australia--Difficulty of carrying supplies--Importance of steady
intelligent subordinates--Danger from the natives--Number of men
requisite,--and of cattle and carriages--Provisions--Other arrangements--
Treatment of the natives--Dimensions of the boat used in the second


No. I. Letter of Instructions
No. II. List of Stores supplied for the Expedition
No. III. Sheep-farming Returns
No. IV. List of Geological Specimens
No. V. Official Report to the Colonial Government, (Jan. 1829.)
No. VI. Ditto (April 1829.)

(Not included in this etext)

Native Burial Place near Budda
Vice Admiral Arthur Phillip
Cataract of the Macquarie
A Selenite
Chrystallized Sulphate of Lime


Purpose of this Chapter--Name of Australia--Impressions of its early
Visitors--Character of the Australian rivers--Author's first view of Port
Jackson--Extent of the Colony of New South Wales--its rapid advances in
prosperity--Erroneous impressions--Commercial importance of Sydney--Growth
of fine wool--Mr. M'Arthur's meritorious exertions--Whale-fishery--Other
exports--Geographical features--Causes of the large proportion of bad
soil--Connection between the geology and vegetation--Geological features--
Character of the soil connected with the geological formation--County of
Cumberland--Country westward of the Blue Mountains--Disadvantages of the
remote settlers--Character of the Eastern coast--Rich tracts in the
interior--Periodical droughts--The seasons apparently affected by the
interior marshes--Temperature--Fruits--Emigrants: Causes of their success
or failure--Moral disadvantages--System of emigration recommended--Hints
to emigrants--Progress of inland discovery--Expeditions across the Blue
Mountains--Discoveries of Mr. Evans, Mr. Oxley, and others--Conjectures
respecting the interior.


When I first determined on committing to the press a detailed account of
the two expeditions, which I conducted into the interior of the Australian
continent, pursuant to the orders of Lieutenant General Darling, the late
Governor of the Colony of New South Wales, it was simply with a view of
laying their results before the geographical world, and of correcting the
opinions that prevailed with regard to the unexplored country to the
westward of the Blue Mountains. I did not feel myself equal either to the
task or the responsibility of venturing any remarks on the Colony of New
South Wales itself. I had had little time for inquiry, amidst the various
duties that fell to my lot in the ordinary routine of the service to which
I belonged, when unemployed by the Colonial Government in the prosecution
of inland discoveries. My observations had been in a great measure
confined to those points which curiosity, or a desire of personal
information, had prompted me to investigate. I did not, therefore, venture
to flatter myself that I had collected materials of sufficient importance
on general topics to enable me to write for the information of others.
Since my return to England, however, I have been strenuously urged to give
a short description of the colony before entering upon my personal
narrative; and I have conversed with so many individuals whose ideas of
Australia are totally at variance with its actual state, that I am
encouraged to indulge the hope that my observations, desultory as they
are, may be of some interest to the public. I am strengthened in this hope
by the consideration that some kind friends have enabled me to add much
valuable matter to that which I had myself collected. It is not my
intention, however, to enter at any length on the commercial or
agricultural interests of New South Wales. It may be necessary for me to
touch lightly on those important subjects, but it is my wish to connect
this preliminary chapter, as much as possible with the subjects treated of
in the body of the work, and chiefly to notice the physical structure, the
soil, climate, and productions of the colony, in order to convey to the
reader general information on these points, before I lead him into the
remote interior.


It may be worthy of remark that the name "Australia," has of late years
been affixed to that extensive tract of land which Great Britain possesses
in the Southern Seas, and which, having been a discovery of the early
Dutch navigators, was previously termed "New Holland." The change of name
was, I believe, introduced by the celebrated French geographer, Malte
Brun, who, in his division of the globe, gave the appellation of
Austral Asia and Polynesia to the new discovered lands in the southern
ocean; in which division he meant to include the numerous insular groups
scattered over the Pacific.


Australia is properly speaking an island, but it is so much larger than
every other island on the face of the globe, that it is classed as a
continent in order to convey to the mind a just idea of its magnitude.
Stretching from the 115th to the 153rd degree of east longitude, and from
the 10th to the 37th of south latitude, it averages 2700 miles in length
by 1800 in breadth; and balanced, as it were, upon the tropic of that
hemisphere in which it is situated, it receives the fiery heat of the
equator at one extremity, while it enjoys the refreshing coolness of the
temperate zone at the other. On a first view we should be led to expect
that this extensive tract of land possessed more than ordinary advantages;
that its rivers would be in proportion to its size; and that it would
abound in the richest productions of the inter-tropical and temperate
regions. Such, indeed, was the impression of those who first touched upon
its southern shores, but who remained no longer than to be dazzled by the
splendour and variety of its botanical productions, and to enjoy for a
few days the delightful mildness of its climate. But the very spot which
had appeared to Captain Cook and Sir Joseph Banks an earthly paradise, was
abandoned by the early settlers as unfit for occupation; nor has the
country generally been fount to realize the sanguine expectations of those
distinguished individuals, so far as it has hitherto been explored.


Rivers which have the widest mouths or the most practicable entrances,
are, in Europe or America, usually of impetuous current, or else contain
such a body of water as to bear down all opposition to their free course;
whilst on the other hand, rivers whose force is expended ere they reach
the sea, have almost invariably a bar at their embouchure, or where they
mingle their waters with those of the ocean. This last feature
unfortunately appears to characterise all rivers of Australia, or such of
them at least as are sufficiently known to us. Falling rapidly from the
mountains in which they originate into a level and extremely depressed
country; having weak and inconsiderable sources, and being almost wholly
unaided by tributaries of any kind; they naturally fail before they reach
the coast, and exhaust themselves in marshes or lakes or reach it so
weakened as to be unable to preserve clear or navigable months, or to
remove the sand banks that the tides throw up before them. On the other
hand the productions of this singular region seem to be peculiar to it,
and unlike those of any other part of the world; nor have any indigenous
fruits of any value as yet been found either in its forests or on its

He who has never looked on any other than the well-cultured fields of
England, can have little idea of a country that Nature has covered with an
interminable forest. Still less can he estimate the feelings with which
the adventurer approaches a shore that has never (or perhaps only lately)
been trodden by civilized man.


It was with feelings peculiar to the occasion, that I gazed for the first
time on the bold cliffs at the entrance of Port Jackson, as our vessel
neared them, and speculated on the probable character of the landscape
they hid; and I am free to confess, that I did not anticipate anything
equal to the scene which presented itself both to my sight and my
judgment, as we sailed up the noble and extensive basin we had entered,
towards the seat of government. A single glance was sufficient to tell me
that the hills upon the southern shore of the port, the outlines of which
were broken by houses and spires, must once have been covered with the
same dense and gloomy wood which abounded every where else. The contrast
was indeed very great--the improvement singularly striking. The labour and
patience required, and the difficulties which the first settlers
encountered effecting these improvements, must have been incalculable. But
their success has been complete: it is the very triumph of human skill and
industry over Nature herself. The cornfield and the orchard have
supplanted the wild grass and the brush; a flourishing town stands over
the ruins of the forest; the lowing of herds has succeeded the wild whoop
of the savage; and the stillness of that once desert shore is now broken
by the sound of the bugle and the busy hum of commerce.


The Colony of New South Wales is situated upon the eastern coast of
Australia; and the districts within which land has been granted to
settlers, extends from the 36th parallel of latitude to the 32nd, that is
say, from the Moroyo River to the south of Sydney on the one hand, and to
the Manning River on the other, including Wellington Valley within its
limits to the westward. Thus it will appear that the boundaries of the
located parts of the colony have been considerably enlarged, and some fine
districts of country included within them. In consequence of its extent
and increasing population, it has been found convenient to divide it into
counties, parishes, and townships; and indeed, every measure of the
Colonial Government of late years, has had for its object to assimilate
its internal arrangements as nearly as possible, to those of the mother
country. Whether we are to attribute the present flourishing state of the
colony to the beneficial influence of that system of government which has
been exercised over it for the last seven years it is not for me to say.
That the prosperity of a country depends, however, in a great measure,
on the wisdom of its legislature, is as undoubted, as that within the
period I have mentioned the colony of N. S. Wales has risen
unprecedentedly in importance and in wealth, and has advanced to a state
of improvement at which it could not have arrived had its energies been
cramped or its interests neglected.


There is a period in the history of every country, during which it will
appear to have been more prosperous than at any other. I allude not to the
period of great martial achievements, should any such adorn its pages, but
to that in which the enterprise of its merchants was roused into action,
and when all classes of its community seem to have put forth their
strength towards the attainment of wealth and power.


In this eventful period the colony of New South Wales is already far
advanced. The conduct of its merchants is marked by the boldest
speculations and the most gigantic projects. Their storehouses are built
on the most magnificent scale, and with the best and most substantial
materials. Few persons in England have even a remote idea of its present
flourishing condition, or of the improvements that are daily taking place
both in its commerce and in its agriculture. I am aware that many object
to it as a place of residence, and I can easily enter into their feelings
from the recollection of what my own were before I visited it. I cannot
but remark, however, that I found my prejudices had arisen from a natural
objection to the character of a part of its population; from the
circumstance of its being a penal colony, and from my total ignorance of
its actual state, and not from any substantial or permanent cause. On the
contrary I speedily became convinced of the exaggerated nature of the
reports I had heard in England, on some of the points just adverted to;
nor did any thing fall under my observation during a residence in it of
more than six years to justify the opinion I had been previously led to
entertain of it. I embarked for New South Wales, with strong prejudices
against it: I left it with strong feelings in its favour, and with a deep
feeling of interest in its prosperity. It is a pleasing task to me,
therefore, to write of it thus, and to have it in my power to contribute
to the removal of any erroneous impressions with regard to its condition
at the present moment.


I have already remarked, that I was not prepared for the scene that met my
view when I first saw Sydney. The fact was, I had not pictured to myself;
nor conceived from any thing that I had ever read or heard in England,
that so extensive a town could have been reared in that remote region, in
so brief a period as that which had elapsed since its foundation. It is
not, however, a distant or cursory glance that will give the observer a
just idea of the mercantile importance of this busy capital. In order to
form an accurate estimate of it, he should take a boat and proceed from
Sydney Cove to Darling Harbour. He would then be satisfied, that it is not
upon the first alone that Australian commerce has raised its storehouse
and wharfs, but that the whole extent of the eastern shore of the last
more capacious basin, is equally crowded with warehouses, stores,
dockyards, mills, and wharfs, the appearance and solidity of which would
do credit even to Liverpool. Where, thirty years ago, the people flocked
to the beach to hail an arrival, it is not now unusual to see from thirty
to forty vessels riding at anchor at one time, collected there from every
quarter of the globe. In 1832, one hundred and fifty vessels entered the
harbour of Port Jackson, from foreign parts, the amount of their tonnage
being 31,259 tons.

The increasing importance of Sydney must in some measure be attributed to
the flourishing condition of the colony itself, to the industry of its
farmers, to the successful enterprise of its merchants, and to particular
local causes. It is foreign to my purpose, however, to enter largely into
an investigation of these important points. To do so would require more
space than I can afford for the purpose, and might justly be considered as
irrelevant in a work of this kind. Without attempting any lengthened
detail, it may be considered sufficient if I endeavour merely to point out
the principal causes of the present prosperity (and, as they may very
probably prove) of the eventual progress of our great southern colony to
power and independence.


The staple of our Australian colonies, but more particularly of New South
Wales, the climate and the soil of which are peculiarly suited to its
production,--is fine wool. There can be no doubt that the growth of this
article has mainly contributed to the prosperity of the above mentioned
colony and of Van Diemen's Land.

At the close of the last century, wool was imported into England from
Spain and Germany only, and but a few years previously from Spain alone.
Indeed, long after its introduction from the latter country, German wool,
obtained but little consideration in the London market; and in like
manner, it may be presumed that many years will not have elapsed
before the increased importation of wool from our own possessions in
the southern hemisphere, will render us, in respect to this commodity,
independent of every other part of the world. The great improvements
in modern navigation are such, that the expense of sending the fleece
to market from New South Wales is less than from any part of Europe.
The charges for instance on Spanish and German wool, are from
fourpence to fourpence three farthings per pound; whereas the entire
charge, after shipment from New South Wales, and Van Diemen's Land, does
not exceed threepence three farthings,--and in this the dock and landing
charges, freight, insurance, brokerage, and commission, are included.


As some particulars respecting the introduction of this source of national
wealth into Australia may prove interesting to the public, I have put
together the following details of it, upon the authenticity of which they
may rely. The person who foresaw the advantage to be derived from the
growth of fine wool in New South Wales, and who commenced the culture of
it in that colony, was Mr. John M'Arthur. So far back, I believe, as the
year 1793, not long after the establishment of the first settlement at
Sydney, this gentleman commenced sheep-farming, and about two years
afterwards he obtained a ram and two ewes from Captain Kent, of the royal
navy, who had brought them, with some other stock for the supply of the
settlement, from the Cape of Good Hope, to which place a flock of these
sheep had been originally sent by the Dutch government. Sensible of the
importance of the acquisition, Mr. M'Arthur began to cross his
coarse-fleeced sheep with Merino blood; and, proceeding upon a system, he
effected a considerable improvement in the course of a few years. So
prolific was the mixed breed, that in ten years, a flock which originally
consisted of not more than seventy Bengal sheep, had increased in number
to 4,000 head, although the wethers had been killed as they became fit for
slaughter. It appears, however, that as the sheep approached to greater
purity of blood, their extreme fecundity diminished.


In 1803, Mr. M'Arthur revisited England; and there happening at the time
to be a committee of manufacturers in London from the clothing districts,
he exhibited before them samples of his wool, which were so much approved,
that the committee represented to their constituents the advantages which
would result from the growth of fine wool, in one of the southern
dependencies of the empire. In consequence of this a memorial was
transmitted to His Majesty's government, and Mr. M'Arthur's plans having
been investigated by a Privy Council, at which he was present, they were
recommended to the government as worthy of its protection. With such
encouragement Mr. M'Arthur purchased two ewes and three rams, from the
Merino flock of His Majesty King George the Third. He embarked with them
on his return to New South Wales in 1806, on board a vessel named by him
"the Argo," in reference to the golden treasure with which she was
freighted. On reaching the colony he removed his sheep to a grant of land
which the Home Government had directed he should receive in the Cow
Pastures. To commemorate the transaction, and to transmit to a grateful
posterity the recollection of the nobleman who then presided over the
colonies, the estate, together with the district in which it is situated,
was honoured by the name of Camden.


Since that time the value of New South Wales wool has been constantly on
the increase, and the colony are indebted to Mr. M'Arthur for the
possession of an exportable commodity which has contributed very
materially to its present wealth and importance. Such general attention is
now paid to this interesting branch of rural economy, that the importation
of wool into England from our Australian colonies, amounted, in 1832, to
10,633 bales, or 2,500,000 lbs. It has been sold at as high a price as
10s. per lb.; but the average price of wool of the best flocks vary from
1s. 6d. to 4s. 6d. at the present moment. The number of sheep in New South
Wales alone was calculated in the last census at 536,891 head. The
ordinary profits on this kind of stock may be extracted from the Table
given in the Appendix to the first volume of this work.


Among the various speculations undertaken by the merchants of Sydney,
there is not one into which they have entered with so much spirit as in
the South Sea Fishery. The local situation of Port Jackson gives them an
advantage over the English and the American merchants, since the distance
of both these from the field of their gains, must necessarily impede them
greatly; whereas the ships that leave Sydney on a whaling excursion,
arrive without loss of time upon their ground, and return either for fresh
supplies or to repair damages with equal facility. The spirit with which
the colonial youth have engaged in this adventurous and hardy service, is
highly to their credit. The profits arising from it may not be (indeed I
have every reason to think are not) so great as might be supposed, or such
as might reasonably be expected; but the extensive scale on which it is
conducted, speaks equally for the energy and perseverance of the parties
concerned, in the prosecution of their commercial enterprises. It has
enabled them to equip a creditable colonial marine, and given great
importance to their mercantile interests in the mother country.

In the year 1831, the quantity of sperm and black oil, the produce of the
fisheries exported from New South Wales, amounted to 2,307 tons, and was
estimated, together with skins and whalebone, to be worth 107,971 pounds
sterling. The gross amount of all other exports during that year, did not
exceed 107,697 pounds sterling. Of these exports, the following were the
most considerable:

Timber 7,410 pounds
Butter and Cheese 2,376
Mimosa bark 40
Hides 7,333
Horses 7,302
Salt provisions 5,184
Wool 66,112

The above is exclusive of 61,000 pounds value of British manufactures
re-exported to the various ports and islands in the Southern Seas.


In this scale, moreover, tobacco is not mentioned; but that plant is now
raised for the supply of every private establishment, and will assuredly
form an article of export, as soon as its manufacture shall be well
understood. Neither can it be doubted but that the vine and the olive
will, in a short time, be abundantly cultivated; and that a greater
knowledge of the climate and soil of the more northern parts of the
colony, will lead to the introduction of fresh sources of wealth.


Having taken this hasty review of the commercial interests of the colony,
we may now turn to a brief examination of its internal structure and
principal natural features.

I have already given a cursory sketch of the geographical features of the
whole continent. Of the vast area which its coasts embrace, the east part
alone has been fully explored.

A range of hills runs along the eastern coast, from north to south, which,
in different quarters, vary in their distance from the sea; at one place
approaching it pretty nearly, at another, receding from it to a distance
of forty miles. It is a singular fact, that there is no pass or break in
these mountains, by which any of the rivers of the interior can escape in
an easterly direction. Their spine is unbroken. The consequence is, that
there is a complete division of the eastern and western waters, and that
streams, the heads of which are close to each other, flow away in opposite
directions; the one to pursue a short course to the sea; the other to fall
into a level and depressed interior, the character of which will be
noticed in its proper place.


The proportion of bad soil to that which is good in New South Wales, is
certainly very great: I mean the proportion of inferior soil to such as is
fit for the higher purposes of agriculture. Mr. Dawson, the late
superintendent of the Australian Agricultural Company's possessions, has
observed, as a singular fact, that the best soil generally prevails on the
summits of the hills, more especially where they are at all level. He
accounts for so unusual a circumstance by the fact, that elevated
positions are less subject to the effects of fire or floods than their
valleys or flanks, and attributes the general want of vegetable mould over
the colony chiefly to the ravages of the former element, whereby the
growth of underwood, so favourable in other countries to the formation of
soil, is wholly prevented. Undoubtedly this is a principal cause for the
deficiency in question. There is no part of the world in which fires
create such havoc as in New South Wales and indeed in Australia
generally. The climate, on the one hand, which dries up vegetation, and
the wandering habits of the natives on the other, which induce them to
clear the country before them by conflagration, operate equally against
the growth of timber and underwood.


But there is another circumstance that appears to have escaped
Mr. Dawson's observation; which is the actual property of the trees
themselves, as to the quantity of vegetable matter they produce in decay.
Being a military man, I cannot be supposed to have devoted much of my time
to agricultural pursuits; but it has been obvious to me, as it must have
been to many others, that in New South Wales, the fall of leaves and the
decay of timber, so far from adding to the richness of its soil, actually
destroy minor vegetation. This fact was brought more home to me in
consequence of its having been my lot to spend some months upon Norfolk
Island, a distant penal settlement attached to the Government of Sydney.
There the abundance of vegetable decay was as remarkable as the want of it
on the Australian Continent. I have frequently sunk up to my knees in a
bed of leaves when walking through its woods; and, often when I placed my
foot on what appeared externally to be the solid trunk of a tree, I have
found it yield to the pressure, in consequence of its decomposition into
absolute rottenness. But such is not the case in New South Wales. There,
no such accumulations of vegetable matter are to be met with; but where
the loftiest tree of the forest falls to the ground, its figure and length
are marked out by the total want of vegetation within a certain distance
of it, and a small elevation of earth, resembling more the refuse or
scoria of burnt bricks than any thing else, is all that ultimately remains
of the immense body which time or accident had prostrated. Thus it would
appear, that it is not less to the character of its woods than to the
ravages of fire that New South Wales owes its general sterility.


Whilst prosecuting my researches in the interior of the colony, I could
not but be struck with the apparent connection between its geology and
vegetation; so strong, indeed, was this connection, that I had little
difficulty, after a short experience, in judging of the rock that formed
the basis of the country over which I was travelling, from the kind of
tree or herbage that flourished in the soil above it. The eucalyptus
pulv., a species of eucalyptus having a glaucus-coloured leaf, of
dwarfish habits and growing mostly in scrub, betrayed the sandstone
formation, wherever it existed, This was the case in many parts of the
County of Cumberland, in some parts of Wombat Brush, at the two passes on
the great south road, over a great extent of country to the N.W. of Yass
Plains, and at Blackheath on the summit of the Blue Mountains. On the
other hand, those open grassy and park-like tracts, of which so much has
been said, characterise the secondary ranges of granite and porphyry. The
trees most usual on these tracts, were the box, an unnamed species of
eucalyptus, and the grass chiefly of that kind, called the oat or forest
grass, which grows in tufts at considerable distances from each other,
and which generally affords good pasturage. On the richer grounds the
angophora lanceolata, and the eucalyptus mammifera more frequently point
out the quality of the soil on which they grow. The first are abundant on
the alluvial flats of the Nepean, the Hawkesbury and the Hunter; the
latter on the limestone formation of Wellington Valley and in the better
portions of Argyle; whilst the cupressus calytris seems to occupy sandy
ridges with the casuarina. It was impossible that these broad features
should have escaped observation: it was naturally inferred from this, that
the trees of New South Wales are gregarious; and in fact they may, in a
great measure, be considered so. The strong line that occasionally
separates different species, and the sudden manner in which several
species are lost at one point, to re-appear at another more distant,
without any visible cause for the break that has taken place, will furnish
a number of interesting facts in the botany of New South Wales.

It was observed both on the Macquarie river and the Morumbidgee, that the
casuarinae ceased at a particular point. On the Macquarie particularly,
these trees which had often excited our admiration from Wellington Valley
downwards, ceased to occupy its banks below the cataract, nor were they
again noticed until we arrived on the banks of the Castlereagh. The
blue-gum trees, again, were never observed to extend beyond the secondary
embankments of the rivers, occupying that ground alone which was subject
to flood and covered with reeds. These trees waved over the marshes of the
Macquarie, but were not observed to the westward of them for many miles;
yet they re-appeared upon the banks of New-Year's Creek as suddenly as
they had disappeared after we left the marshes, and grew along the line
of the Darling to unusual size. But it is remarkable, that, even in the
midst of the marshes, the blue-gum trees were strictly confined to the
immediate flooded spaces on which the reeds prevailed, or to the very beds
of the water-courses. Where the ground was elevated, or out of the reach
of flood, the box (unnamed) alone occupied it; and, though the branches of
these trees might be interwoven together, the one never left its wet and
reedy bed, the other never descended from its more elevated position. The
same singular distinction marked the acacia pendula, when it ceased to
cover the interior plains of light earth, and was succeeded by another
shrub of the same species. It continued to the banks of New-Year's Creek,
a part of which it thickly lined. To the westward of the creek, another
species of acacia was remarked for the first time. Both shrubs, like the
blue-gum and the box, mixed their branches together, but the creek formed
the line of separation between them. The acacia pendula was not afterwards
seen, but that which had taken its place, as it were, was found to cover
large tracts of country and to form extensive brushes. Many other
peculiarities in the vegetation of the interior are noticed in the body
of this work, but I have thought that these more striking ones deserved
to be particularly remarked upon.


If we strike a line to the N.W. from Sydney to Wellington Valley, we shall
find that little change takes place in the geological features of the
country. The sand-stone of which the first of the barrier ranges is
composed, terminates a little beyond Mount York, and at Cox's River is
succeeded by grey granite. The secondary ranges to the N.W. of Bathurst,
are wholly of that primitive rock; for although there are partial changes
of strata between Bathurst and Moulong Plains, granite is undoubtedly the
rock upon which the whole are based: but at Moulong Plains, a military
station intermediate between Bathurst and Wellington Valley, limestone
appears in the bed of a small clear stream, and with little interruption
continues to some distance below the last-mentioned place. The accidental
discovery of some caves at Moulong Plains, led to the more critical
examination of the whole formation, and cavities of considerable size were
subsequently found in various parts of it, but more particularly in the
neighbourhood of Wellington Valley. The local interest which has of late
years been taken in the prosecution of geological investigations, led many
gentlemen to examine the contents of these caverns; and among the most
forward, Major Mitchell, the Surveyor-General, must justly be considered,
to whose indefatigable perseverance the scientific world is already so
much indebted.

The caves into which I penetrated, did not present anything particular to
my observation; they differed little from caves of a similar description
into which I had penetrated in Europe. Large masses of stalactites hung
from their roofs, and a corresponding formation encrusted their floors.
They comprised various chambers or compartments, the most remote of which
terminated at a deep chasm that was full of water. A close examination of
these caves has led to the discovery of some organic remains, bones of
various animals embedded in a light red soil; but I am not aware that the
remains of any extinct species have been found, or that any fossils have
been met with in the limestone itself. There can, however, be little doubt
but that the same causes operated in depositing these mouldering remains
in the caves of Kirkdale and those of Wellington Valley.

About twenty miles below the junction of the Bell with the Macquarie,
free-stone supersedes the limestone, but as the country falls rapidly from
that point, it soon disappears, and the traveller enters upon a flat
country of successive terraces. A schorl rock, of a blue colour and fine
grain, composed of tourmaline and quartz, forms the bed of the Macquarie
at the Cataract; and, in immediate contact with it, a mass of mica slate
of alternate rose, pink, and white, was observed, which must have been
covered by the waters of the river when Mr. Oxley descended it.

From the Cataract of the Macquarie, a flat extends to the marshes in which
that river exhausts itself. From the midst of this flat Mount Foster and
Mount Harris rise, both of which are porphyritic: but as I have been
particular in describing these heights in their proper place, any minute
notice of them here may be considered unnecessary. We will rather extend
our enquiries to those parts of the colony upon which we shall not be
called upon to remark in the succeeding pages.

Returning to the coast, we may mark the geological changes in a line to
the S.W. of Sydney; and as my object is to extend the information of my
readers, I shall notice any particular district on either side of the line
I propose to touch upon, which may be worthy of notice. It would appear
that the first decided break in the sandstone formation which penetrates
into the county of Camden, is at Mittagong Range. It is there traversed by
a dike of whinstone, of which that range is wholly composed. The change of
soil and of vegetation are equally remarkable at this place; the one being
a rich, greasy, chocolate-coloured earth, the other partaking greatly of
the intertropical character. In wandering over them, I noticed the wild
fig and the cherry-tree, growing to a much larger size than I had seen
them in any other part of the colony. Upon their branches, the satin bird,
the gangan, and various kinds of pigeons were feeding. Birds unknown to
the eastward of the Blue Mountains, were numerous in the valleys; and
there was an unusual appearance of freshness and moisture in the

These signs of improvement, however, vanish the moment Mittagong range is
crossed, and sand-stone again forms the basis of the country to a
considerable distance beyond Bong-bong. At a small farm called the
Ploughed Ground, it is again traversed by a dike of whinstone, and a rich
but isolated spot is thus passed over. With occasional and partial
interruption, however, the sand-stone formation continues to an abrupt
pass, from which the traveller descends to the county of Argyle. This pass
is extremely abrupt, and is covered with glaucus, the low scrub I have
noticed as common to the sand-stone formation. A small but lively stream,
called Paddy's River, runs at the bottom of this pass, and immediately to
the S.W. of it, an open forest country of granite base extends for many
miles, on which the eucalyptus manifera is prevalent, and which affords
the best grazing tracts in Argyle. At Goulburn Plains, however, a vein of
limestone occurs, which is evidently connected with that forming the
ShoalHaven Gully, which is perhaps the most remarkable geological feature
in the colony of New South Wales. It is a deep chasm of about a quarter of
a mile in breadth, and 1200 feet in depth. The country on either side is
perfectly level, so much so that the traveller approaches almost to its
very brink before he is aware of his being near so singular an abyss. A
small rivulet flows through the Gully, and discharges itself into the sea
at ShoalHaven; but this river is hardly perceptible, from the summit of
the cliffs forming the sides of the Gully, which are of the boldest and
most precipitous character. The ground on the summit is full of caves of
great depth, but there has been a difficulty in examining them, in
consequence of the violent wind that rushes up them, and extinguishes
every torch.

The open and grassy forests of Argyle are terminated by another of those
abrupt sand-stone passes I have just described, and the traveller again
falls considerably from his former level, previously to his entering on
Yass Plains, to which this pass is the only inlet.

From Yass Plains the view to the S. and S.W. is over a lofty and broken
country: mountains with rounded summits, others with towering peaks, and
others again of lengthened form but sharp spine, characterise the various
rocks of which they are composed. The ranges decline rapidly from east to
west, and while on the one hand the country has all the appearance of
increasing height, on the other it sinks to a dead level; nor on the
distant horizon to the N. W. is there a hill or an inequality to be seen.

From Yass Plains to the very commencement of the level interior, every
range I crossed presented a new rock-formation; serpentine quartz in
huge white masses, granite, chlorite, micaceous schist, sandstone,
chalcedony, quartz, and red jasper, and conglomerate rocks.

It was however, out of my power, in so hurried a journey as that which I
performed down the banks of the Morumbidgee River, to examine with the
accuracy I could have wished, either the immediate connection between
these rocks or their gradual change from the one to the other. I was
content to ascertain their actual succession, and to note the general
outlines of the ranges; but the defect of vision under which I labour,
prevents me from laying them before the public.


From what has been advanced, however, it will appear that the physical
structure of the southern parts of the colony is as varied, as that of the
western interior is monotonous, and we may now pursue our original
observations on the soil of the colony with greater confidence.

In endeavouring to account for the poverty of the soil in New South Wales,
and in attributing it in a great degree to the causes already mentioned,
it appears necessary to estimate more specifically the influence which the
geological formation of a country exercises on its soil, and how much the
quality of the latter partakes of the character of the rock on which it
reposes. And although I find it extremely difficult to explain myself as
I should wish to do, in the critical discussion on which I have thus
entered, yet as it is material to the elucidation of an important subject
in the body of the work, I feel it incumbent on me to proceed to the best
of my ability.

I have said that the soil of a country depends much upon its geological
formation. This appears to be particularly the case in those parts of the
colony with which I am acquainted, or those lying between the parallels of
30 degrees and 35 degrees south. Sandstone, porphyry, and granite,
succeed each other from the coast to a very considerable distance into the
interior, on a N. W. line. The light ferruginous dust that is distributed
over the county of Cumberland, and which annoys the traveller by its
extreme minuteness, to the eastward of the Blue Mountains, is as different
from the coarse gravelly soil on the secondary ranges to the westward of
them, as the barren scrubs and thickly-wooded tracts of the former
district are to the grassy and open forests of the latter.

As soon as I began to descend to the westward it became necessary to pay
strict and earnest attention to the features of the country through which
I passed, in order to determine more accurately the different appearances
which, as I was led to expect, the rivers would assume. In the course of
my examination I found, first, that the broken country through which I
travelled, was generally covered with a loose, coarse, and sandy soil;
and, secondly, that the ranges were wholly deficient in that peat
formation which fills the valleys, or covers the flat summits of the hills
or mountains, in the northern hemisphere. The peculiar property of this
formation is to retain water like a sponge; and to this property the
regular and constant flow of the rivers descending from such hills, may,
in a great measure, be attributed. In New South Wales on the contrary, the
rains that fall upon the mountains drain rapidly through a coarse and
superficial soil, and pour down their sides without a moment's
interruption. The consequence is that on such occasions the rivers are
subject to great and sudden rises, whereas they have scarcely water enough
to support a current in ordinary seasons. At one time the traveller will
find it impracticable to cross them: at another he may do so with ease;
and only from the remains of debris in the branches of the trees high
above, can he judge of the furious torrent they must occasionally

This seeming deviation on the part of Nature from her usual laws will no
longer appear such, if we consider its results for a moment. The very
floods which swell the rivers to overflowing, are followed by the most
beneficent effects; and, rude and violent as the means are by which she
accomplishes her purpose, they form, no doubt, a part of that process by
which she preserves the balance of good and evil. Vast quantities of the
best soil have been thus washed down from the mountains to accumulate in
more accessible places. From frequent depositions, a great extent of
country along the banks of every river and creek has risen high above the
influence of the floods, and constitutes the richest tracts in the colony.
The alluvial flats of the Nepean, the Hawkesbury, and the Hunter, are
striking instances of the truth of these observations; to which the plains
of O'Connell and Bathurst must be added. The only good soil upon the two
latter, is in the immediate neighbourhood of the Macquarie River: but,
even close to its banks, the depositions are of little depth, lying on a
coarse gravelly soil, the decomposition of the nearer ranges. The former
is found to diminish in thickness, according to the concavity of the
valley through which the Macquarie flows, and at length becomes mixed with
the coarser soil. This deposit is alone fit for agricultural purposes;
but it does not necessarily follow that the distant country is unavailable
since it is admitted, that the best grazing tracts are upon the secondary
ranges of granite and porphyry. These ranges generally have the appearance
of open forest, and are covered with several kinds of grasses, among which
the long oat-grass is the most abundant.


If we except the valley of the Nepean, the banks of the South Creek, the
Pennant Hills near Parramatta, and a few other places, the general soil of
the county of Cumberland, is of the poorest description. It is superficial
in most places, resting either upon a cold clay, or upon sandstone; and
is, as I have already remarked, a ferruginous compound of the finest dust.
Yet there are many places upon its surface, (hollows for instance,) in
which vegetable decay has accumulated, or valleys, into which it has been
washed, that are well adapted for the usual purposes of agriculture, and
would, if the country was more generally cleared, be found to exist to a
much greater extent than is at present imagined. I have frequently
observed the isolated patches of better land, when wandering through the
woods, both on the Parramatta River, and at a greater distance from the
coast. And I cannot but think, that it would be highly advantageous to
those who possess large properties in the County of Cumberland to let
Portions of them. The concentration of people round their capital,
promotes more than anything else the prosperity of a colony, by creating
a reciprocal demand for the produce both of the country and the town,
since the one would necessarily stimulate the energy of the farmer, as the
other would rouse the enterprise of the merchant. The consideration,
however, of such a subject is foreign to my present purpose.

It must not be supposed, that because I have given a somewhat particular
description of the County of Cumberland, I have done so with a view to
bring it forward as a specimen of the other counties, or to found upon it
a general description of the colony. It is, in fact, poorer in every
respect than any tract of land of similar extent in the interior, and is
still covered with dense forests of heavy timber, excepting when the trees
have been felled by dint of manual labour, and the ground cleared at an
expense that nothing but its proximity to the seat of government could
have justified. But experience has proved, that neither the labour nor the
the expense have been thrown away. Many valuable farms and extensive
gardens chequer the face of the country, from which the proprietors
derive a very efficient income.


To the westward of the Blue Mountains, the country differs in many
respects from that lying between those ranges and the coast; and although,
its aspect varies in different places, three principal features appear
more immediately to characterise it. These are, first, plains of
considerable extent wholly destitute of timber; secondly, open undulating
woodlands; and, thirdly, barren unprofitable tracts. The first almost
invariably occur in the immediate neighbourhood of some river, as the
Plains of Bathurst, which are divided by the Macquarie; Goulburn Plains,
through which the Wallandilly flows; and Yass Plains, which are watered by
a river of the same name. The open forests, through which the horseman may
gallop in perfect safety, seem to prevail over the whole secondary ranges
of granite, and are generally considered as excellent grazing tracts. Such
is the country in Argyleshire on either side of the Lachlan, where that
river crosses the great southern road near Mr. Hume's station; such also
are many parts of Goulburn and the whole extent of country lying between
Underaliga and the Morumbidgee River. The barren tracts, on the other
hand, may be said to occupy the central spaces between all the principal
streams. With regard to the proportion that these different kinds of
country bear to each other, there can be no doubt of the undue
preponderance of the last over the first two; but there are nevertheless
many extensive available tracts in every part of the colony.


The greatest disadvantage under which New South Wales labours, is the want
of means for conveying inland produce to the market, or to the coast. The
Blue Mountains are in this respect a serious bar to the internal
prosperity of the colony. By this time, however, a magnificent
road will have been completed across them to the westward, over parts of
which I travelled in 1831. Indeed the efforts of the colonial government
have been wisely directed, not only to the construction of this road,
which the late Governor, General Darling commenced, but also in
facilitating the communication to the southern districts, by an almost
equally fine road over the Razor Back Range, near the Cow Pastures; so
that as far as it is possible for human efforts to overcome natural
obstacles, the wisdom and foresight of the executive have ere this been


The majority of the settlers in the Bathurst country, and in the more
remote interior, are woolgrowers; and as they send their produce to the
market only once a year, receiving supplies for home consumption, on the
return of their drays or carts from thence, the inconvenience of bad
roads is not so much felt by them. But to an agriculturist a residence to
the westward of the Blue Mountains is decidedly objectionable, unless he
possess the means with which to procure the more immediate necessaries of
life, otherwise than by the sale of his grain or other produce, and can be
satisfied to cultivate his property for home consumption, or for the
casual wants of his neighbours. Under such circumstances, a man with a
small private income would enjoy every rational comfort. But of course,
not only in consequence of the loss of labour, but the chance of accidents
during a long journey, the more the distance is increased from Sydney, as
the only place at which the absolute necessaries of life can be purchased,
the greater becomes the objection to a residence in such a part of the
country; and on this account it is, that although some beautiful locations
both as to extent and richness, are to be found to the westward of
Bathurst, equally on the Bell, the Macquarie and the Lachlan, it is not
probable they will be taken up for many years, or will only be occupied as
distant stock stations.


Since, therefore, it appears from what has been advanced, that it is not
to the westward the views of any settlers should he directed, excepting
under particular circumstances, it remains for us to consider what other
parts of the colony hold out, or appear to hold out, greater advantages.
The eye naturally turns to the south on the one hand, and to
Port Macquarie northerly on the other. It is to be remarked that the
eastern shores of Australia partake of the same barren character that
marks the other three. it is generally bounded to a certain extent by a
sandy and sterile tract. There are, however, breaks in so prolonged a
line, as might have been expected, where, from particular local causes,
both the soil and vegetation are of a superior kind. At Illawarra for
instance, the contiguity of the mountains to the coast leaves no room for
the sandy belt we have noticed, but the debris from them reaches to the
very shore. Whether from reflected heat, or from some other peculiarity of
situation, the vegetation of Illawarra is of an intertropical character,
and birds that are strangers to the county of Cumberland frequent its
thickets. There is no part of Australia where the feathered race are more
beautiful, or more diversified. The most splendid pigeon, perhaps, that
the world produces, and the satin bird, with its lovely eye, feed there
upon the berries of the ficus (wild fig,) and other trees: and a numerous
tribe of the accipitrine class soar over its dense and spacious forests.


We again see a break in the sandy line of the coast at Broken Bay, at
Newcastle, and still further north at Port Macquarie; at which places the
Hawkesbury, the Hunter, and the Hastings severally debouche. Of Port
Macquarie, as a place of settlement, I entertain a very high opinion, in
consequence of its being situated under a most favourable parallel
latitude. I am convinced it holds out many substantial advantages. One of
the most important of these is the circumstance of its having been much
improved when occupied as a penal settlement. And since the shores of the
colony are how navigated by steam-boats, the facility of water
communication would be proportionably great.

I believe the Five Islands or Illawarr district is considered peculiarly
eligible for small settlers. The great drawback to this place is the
heavy character of its timber and the closeness of its thickets, which vie
almost with the American woods in those respects. The return, however, is
adequate to the labour required in clearing the ground. Between the Five
Islands and Sydney, a constant intercourse is kept up by numerous small
craft; and a communication with the interior, by branch roads from the
great southern line to the coast, would necessarily be thrown open, if the
more distant parts of it were sufficiently peopled.


Recent surveys have discovered to us rich and extensive tracts in the
remote interior between Jervis Bay and Bateman's Bay, and southwards upon
the western slope of the dividing range. The account given by Messrs.
Hovel and Hume is sufficient to prove that every valley they crossed was
worthy of notice, and that the several rivers they forded were flanked by
rich and extensive flats.

The distance of Moneroo Plains, and of the Doomot and Morumbidgee Rivers
from Sydney, alarms the settler, who knows not the value of those
localities; but men whose experience has taught them to set this obstacle
at nought, have long depastured their herds on the banks of the last two.
The fattest cattle that supply the Sydney market are fed upon the rich
flats, and in the grassy valleys of the Morumbidgee; and there are several
beautiful farms upon those of the Doomot. Generally speaking, the persons
who reside in those distant parts, pay little attention to the comfort of
their dwellings, or to the raising of more grain than their establishments
may require; but there can be no doubt this part of the interior ought to
be the granary of New South Wales; its climate and greater humidity being
more favourable than that of Sydney for the production of wheat.


The most serious disadvantages under which the colony of New South Wales
labours, is in the drought to which it is periodically subject. Its
climate may be said to be too dry; in other respects it is one of the most
delightful under heaven; and experience of the certainty of the recurrence
of the trying seasons to which I allude, should teach men to provide
against their effects. Those seasons, during which no rain falls, appear,
from the observations of former writers, to occur every ten or twelve
years; and it is somewhat singular that no cause has been assigned for
such periodical visitations. Whether the state of the interior has
anything to do with them, and whether the wet or dry condition of the
marshes at all regulate the seasons, is a question upon which I will not
venture to give my decisive opinion. But most assuredly, when the interior
is dry, the seasons are dry, and VICE VERSA. Indeed, not only is this the
case, but rains, from excessive duration in the first year after a
drought, decrease gradually year after year, until they wholly cease for a
time. It seems not improbable, therefore, that the state of the interior
does, in some measure, regulate the fall of rain upon the eastern ranges,
which appears to decrease in quantity yearly as the marshes become
exhausted, and cease altogether, when they no longer contain any water. A
drought will naturally follow until such time as the air becomes
surcharged with clouds or vapour from the ocean, which being no longer
able to sustain their own weight, descend upon the mountains, and being
conveyed by hundreds of streams into the western lowlands, again fill the
marshes, and cause the recurrence of regular seasons.


The thermometer ranges during the summer months, that is, from September
to March, from 36 degrees to 106 degrees of Fahrenheit, but the mean
of the temperature during the above period is 70 degrees. The instrument
in the winter months ranges from 27 degrees to 98 degrees, with a mean of
66 degrees. However great the summer heat may appear, it is certain that
the climate of New South Wales has not the relaxing and enfeebling effect
upon the constitution, which renders a residence in India or other parts
of the south so intolerable. Neither are any of the ordinary occupations
of business or of pleasure laid aside at noon, or during the hottest part
of the day. The traveller may cast himself at length under the first tree
that invites him, and repose there as safely as if he were in a palace.
Fearless of damps, and unmolested by noxious insects, his sleep is as
sound as it is refreshing, and he rises with renewed spirits to pursue his
journey. Equally so may the ploughman or the labourer seek repose beside
his team, and allow them to graze quietly around him. The delicious
coolness of the morning and the mild temperature of the evening air, in
that luxurious climate, are beyond the power of description. It appears to
have an influence on the very animals, the horses and the cattle being
particularly docile; and I cannot but think it is is some degree the same
happy effect upon some of the hardened human beings who are sent thither
from the old world.


As I have before observed, it has not yet been discovered whether there
are any indigenous fruits of any value in Australia. In the colony of New
South Wales there certainly are none; yet the climate is peculiarly
adapted for the growth of every European and of many tropical productions.
The orange, the fig, the citron, the pomegranate, the peach, the apple,
the guava, the nectarine, the pear, and the loquette, grow side by side
together. The plantain throws its broad leaves over the water, the vine
encircles the cottages, and the market of Sydney is abundantly supplied
with every culinary vegetable.

In a climate, therefore, so soft that man scarcely requires a dwelling,
and so enchanting that few have left it but with regret, the spirits must
necessarily be acted upon,--and the heart feel lighter. Such, indeed, I
have myself found to be the case; nor have I ever been happier than when
roving through the woods or wandering along one of the silent and
beautiful bays for which the harbour of Port Jackson is so celebrated. I
went to New South Wales as I have already remarked, highly prejudiced
against it, both from the nature of the service, and the character of the
great body of its inhabitants. My regiment has since quitted its shores,
but I am aware there are few of them who would not gladly return. The
feeling I have in its favour arises not, therefore, from the services in
which I was employed, but from circumstances in the colony itself; and I
yet hope to form one of its community and to join a number of valuable and
warm-hearted friends whom I left in that distant part of the world.


On the subject of emigration, it is not my intention to dwell at any
length. My object in these preliminary remarks has been to give the reader
a general idea of the country, in the interior recesses of which I am
about to lead him. Still, however, it may be useful to offer a few general
observations on a topic which has, of late years, become so interesting to
the British public.

The main consideration with those who, possessing some capital, propose to
emigrate as the means of improving their condition, is, the society likely
to he found in the land fixed on for their future residence. One of the
first questions I have been asked, when conversing on the subject of
emigration, has consequently related to this important matter. I had only
then to observe in reply, that the civil and military establishments in
New South Wales, form the elements of as good society as it is the lot of
the majority to command in Great Britain.

The houses of the settlers are not scattered over a greater surface than
the residences of country gentlemen here, and if they cannot vie with them
in size, they most assuredly do in many other more important respects; and
if a substantial cottage of brick or stone has any claim to the rank of a
tenantable mansion, there are few of them which do not posses all the
means of exercising that hospitality for which young communities are

But to sever the links of kindred, and to abandon the homes of our fathers
after years of happy tranquillity, is a sacrifice the magnitude of which
is unquestionable. The feelings by which men are influenced under such
circumstances have a claim to our respect. Indeed, no class of persons can
have a stronger hold upon our sympathies than those whom unmerited adverse
fortune obliges to seek a home in a distant country.

Far, therefore, be it from me to dispute a single expression of regret to
which they may give utterance. It must, however, he remembered that the
deepest feelings of anguish are providentially alleviated in time. Our
heaviest misfortunes are frequently repaired by industry and caution. The
sky clears up, as it were: new interests engage the attention, and the
cares of a family or the improvement of a newly acquired property engross
those moments which would otherwise be spent in vain and unprofitable


It cannot be doubted that persons such as I have described, whose conduct
has hitherto been regulated by prudence, and whose main object is to
provide for their children, are the most valuable members of every
community, whether young or old. To such men few countries hold out
greater prospects of success than New South Wales; for the more we extend
our enquiries, the more we shall find that the success of the emigrant in
that colony depends upon his prudence and foresight rather than on any
collateral circumstance of climate or soil; and to him who can be
satisfied with the gradual acquirement of competency, it is the land of
promise. Blessed with a climate of unparalleled serenity, and of unusual
freedom from disease, the settler has little external cause of anxiety,
little apprehension of sickness among his family or domestics, and little
else to do than to attend to his own immediate interests. I should wish to
illustrate the observations by two or three instances of their practical
bearing and tendency.


It was on my return from my second expedition, that I visited
Lieut. ****** who resides in the southern parts of the colony. The day
after my arrival, he took me round his property, and explained the various
improvements he had made, considering the small means with which he had
commenced. At this part of our conversation, we came within view of his
house, a substantial weather-board cottage. "I trust," said I, turning
to him, "you will excuse the question I am about to ask; for your
frankness emboldens me to propose it, and on your answer much of the
effect of what you have been saying will depend. In effecting these
various improvements, and in the building of that house, have you been
obliged to embarrass yourself, or are they free from incumbrance?"--"Your
question," he said, "is a reasonable one, and I will answer it with the
frankness you are kind enough to ascribe to me. I have ever made it a rule
not to exceed my income. Mrs. ****** bore our first trials with so much
cheerfulness, and contributed so much to my happiness and my prosperity,
that I felt myself bound to build her a good house with the first money
I had to spare." I confess this answer raised my host in my estimation,
and it was a gratifying proof to me of the success that attends industry
and perseverance.

But let us look at another case. Mr. *** had a property to the N.W. of
Sydney, and having considerable funded means when he arrived in the
colony, he soon put his property into a state of progressive improvement,
and being in truth an excellent practical farmer, it assumed the
appearance of regularity and order. Had Mr. *** stopped at this moment,
he would have been in the enjoyment of affluence and of every rational
comfort. But instead of exercising prudent rules of hospitality, he gave
way to the natural generosity of his disposition, entered into expenses he
could not afford, and was ultimately obliged to part with his estate. Now
it is deeply to be regretted, that one whose energies and abilities
particularly fitted him for the life he had chosen, should have failed
through such conduct; and it is more than probable, that if he had
commenced with smaller means, and had gradually improved his property, his
fate would have been very different.

I shall leave these cases without any further comment, convinced as I am,
that each of them furnishes matter for serious consideration, and that
they are practical illustrations of the causes of success or failure of
those who emigrate to the colony of New South Wales. And although I do not
mean to affirm, that the majority follow Mr. ***'s example, I must venture
to assert that thoughtlessness--useless expenditure in the first
instance--waste of time and other circumstances, lead to equally ruinous


One of the greatest objections which families have to New South Wales, is
their apprehension of the moral effects that are likely to overwhelm them
by bad example, and for which no success in life could compensate. In a
colony constituted like that of New South Wales, the proportion of crime
must of course be great. Yet it falls less under the notice of private
families than one might at first sight have been led to suppose.
Drunkenness, as in the mother country, is the besetting sin; but it is
confined chiefly to the large towns in consequence of the difficulty of
procuring spirits in the country. There are, no doubt, many incorrigible
characters sent to settle in the interior, and it is an evil to have these
men, even for a single day, to break the harmony of a previously well
regulated establishment, or to injure its future prospects by the
influence of evil example. They are men who are sent upon trial, from on
board a newly arrived ship, and they generally terminate their misconduct
either on the roads or at a penal settlement, being thus happily removed
from the mass of the prisoners. Frequently, however, men remain for years
under the same master. They become attached to their occupations, their
hearts become softened by kindness, and they atone as much as they
possibly can for previous error.


Still there can be no doubt, but that the evil complained of is
considerable. It is from this reason, and from my personal knowledge of
the southern parts of the colony, that I should rejoice to see its flats
and its valleys filled with an industrious population of a better
description of farmers. A hope might then be reasonably indulged, that the
Home Government would not be backward in recognising, and in acting upon
a principle, the soundness of which has been felt and acknowledged in all
ages, but the chief difficulty of which rests in its judicious
application. I allude to a system of emigration. Sure I am that if it were
well organized, and care were taken to profit by the experience of the
past in similar attempts, it could not fail to be attended with ultimate
success. The evils resulting from a surplus population in an old
community, were never more seriously felt than in Great Britain at the
present moment. Assuming that the amount of surplus population is
2,000,000, the excess of labour and competition thus occasioned by
diminishing profits and wages, creates, it has been said, an indirect tax
to the enormous extent of 20,000,000 pounds per annum. It has appeared
to many experienced persons, that it is in emigration, we should best find
the means of relief from this heavy pressure; particularly if the
individuals encouraged to go out to the colonies were young persons of
both sexes, from the industrious classes of the community. Even if no
more than three couples were induced to emigrate from each parish in
England in ten years, the relief to the springs of industry would be very
great. Besides, the funds necessary for this purpose would revert to the
country by a thousand indirect channels. Persons unacquainted with our
Australian colonies, whether Van Dieman's Land or New South Wales, can
form little idea of the increasing demand for, and consumption in them of
every species of British manufacture. The liberal encouragement given by
government to every practicable scheme of emigration, and the sum advanced
by it towards the expenses of the voyage to the labouring classes,
sufficiently indicate the light in which the subject is viewed by the
legislature; and the fact that no private family taking out servants to
Sydney, has in any one instance been able to retain them, on account of
offers more advantageous from other quarters, shows clearly the great
demand for labour in the colony. If I might judge of the feelings of the
majority of respectable individuals there, from the assurances of the few,
they would willingly defray any parochial expenses attendant on the
voyage, provided the services of such individuals could be secured to them
for a time sufficiently long to remunerate them for such pavement. The
tide of emigration should be directed to Sydney, Van Dieman's Land, or
Western Australia, upon condition of the labourer's receiving a certain
sum in wages, and his daily subsistence from his employer, with an
understanding, however, that he must consider himself bound for two years
to such employer. Surely there are hundreds of our indigent countrymen,
who would gladly seek a land of such plenty, and cast away the natural,
but unavailing regret of leaving home to secure to themselves and their
families, the substantial comforts of life on such easy conditions.


It is not, perhaps, generally known that a committee has been formed in
Sydney, to advise settlers as to the best mode of proceeding on arrival
there. Such a plan is one of obvious utility; and if those who may find
themselves at a loss for information would apply to this committee for
advice, rather than to individuals with whom they may become casually
acquainted, they would further their own interests, and in all probability
ensure success. Still there are some broad rules upon which every man
ought to act, which I shall endeavour to point out, and it will give me no
ordinary satisfaction, if I should be the means of directing any one to
the road of prosperity and comfort.


It is to be feared that those who emigrate to New South Wales, generally
anticipate too great facility in their future operations and certainty of
success in conducting them; but they should recollect that competency
cannot be obtained without labour. Every trade--every profession in this
respect, is subject to the same law--the lawyer, the physician, the
tradesman, and the mechanic. This labour is required at our hands, even in
an old community; how much more then is it called for in a new, where the
ingenuity of men is put to trial to secure those means of accomplishing
their ends which here are abundant. Now, it appears to me but consistent,
that he who is obliged to leave his native country from want of means to
hold his station there, can hardly expect to find, or rather to secure,
abundance elsewhere without some exertion. Every man who emigrates should
proceed with a conviction on his mind, that he is about to encounter years
of labour and privation. He will not then be disappointed at partial
reverses, and will be more thankful for unexpected prosperity. I feel
persuaded the tone of mind has a great deal to do with success, because it
influences the conduct of the individual. Supposing, however, that an
emigrant has taken this rational view of his situation, he should
determine on his pursuits, and allow nothing but absolute certainty of
better fortune to turn him aside. Men, however, landing at Sydney, in
their eagerness for information get bewildered, give up their original
plans, adopt new and uncertain speculations, trifle away both their time
and their money, and ultimately ruin themselves. An individual who goes to
New South Wales for the purpose of settling, should not remain in Sydney
a day longer than is necessary for the arrangement of his affairs. Every
shilling spent there is thrown away. The greatest facility is given by the
different departments of the Colonial Government to the settlers; and it
is entirely his own fault if he trifles away his time in search of
information elsewhere than at the fountainhead, or if he trusts to any
other opinion than his own, supposing him experienced as to the quality of
the land he may fix upon. Let him be speedy in his selection, and fix
himself upon his allotment as soon as possible. Instead of overstocking
his farm, or employing more labourers than he can afford to keep, let him
be satisfied with a gradual increase of his stock, and wait patiently till
he can better afford to employ labour; above all, let him avoid
embarrassing himself by the purchase of any superfluous or unnecessary
comfort. I consider that man has already failed, who runs into debt in the
first instance, or who exhausts his means in the purchase of large herds,
from the vain expectation that their increase will clear him. The time was
when those idle speculations were occasionally attended with success, but
such is not now the case. The energies of the agriculturist are directed
to their proper channel, and if the few are unable to make rapid fortunes,
the many have escaped inevitable ruin. No farm in a state of nature can be
expected to yield any return of consequence for the first year. It is
incumbent on a settler to provide for his establishment, or to retain the
means of providing for it as circumstances may require.

Farming implements are as cheap in Sydney as in England. Horses and cattle
are cheaper. It requires little, therefore, to stock a farm in a
reasonable manner. On the other hand, the climate is so mild that the want
of a house is scarcely felt, and a temporary residence easily constructed.
On the whole I am convinced, that a man who regulates his conduct by
prudence, and who perseveringly follows up his occupations, who behaves
with kindness to those around him, and performs his social and moral
duties with punctuality, will ultimately secure to himself a home that
will make up for the one he has quitted in the land of his fathers, and
place him in as respectable and as happy a situation as that which he
there enjoyed.



Having thrown out the foregoing remarks for the information of the general
reader, and of persons who look to Australia with the more earnest views
of selecting a colonial home, I now return to the immediate object of
these volumes; but before entering on the narrative of my own expeditions,
I think it necessary to advert cursorily to the discoveries previously

The journeys of Mr. Oxley, far into the western interior of Australia,
gave rise to various and conflicting opinions as to the character of the
more central parts of that extensive continent, of which the colony of New
South Wales forms but a small portion. I feel, therefore, called upon
briefly to advert to the conclusions which that able and intelligent
officer drew from his personal observation of the country into which he
penetrated, as an acquaintance with his opinions will not only tend to
throw a clearer light on the following details, but will, also, convey
much necessary information to those of my readers who may not have
perused his journals. It is necessary, however, in order to divest the
subject of all obscureness, to trace, in the first instance, the progress
of inland discovery, in New South Wales, from the first foundation of the
colony to the period when Mr. Oxley's exertions attracted the public

In the year 1788, the British Government took formal possession of the
eastern coast of Australia, by the establishment of a penal colony at Port
Jackson. The first settlers, under Governor Phillips, had too many
difficulties to contend with to submit themselves to be thwarted from
pursuits essential to their immediate safety and comfort, by the prospect
of remote and uncertain advantages. It was by perseverance and toil alone
that they first established and ultimately spread themselves over that
part of the territory, which, flanked by the ocean on the one hand, and
embraced as it were by the Nepean River on the other, is now entitled the
County Of Cumberland. For many years, this single district supplied the
wants of the settlers. Upon it they found ample pasture for their herds,
and sufficient employment for themselves. Nor was it until a succession of
untoward seasons, and the rapid increase of their stock pointed out to
them the necessity of seeking for more extensive pasturage, that they
contemplated surmounting that dark and rugged chain of mountains, which,
like the natural ramparts of Spain and Italy, rose high over the nether
forest, and broke the line of the western horizon.


A Mr. Caley is said to have been the first who attempted to scale the Blue
Mountains: but he did not long persevere in struggling with difficulties
too great for ordinary resolution to overcome. It appears that he retraced
his steps, after having penetrated about sixteen miles into their dark and
precipitous recesses; and a heap of stones, which the traveller passes
about that distance from Erne Ford, on the road to Bathurst, marks the
extreme point reached by the first expedition to the westward of the
Nepean river.


Shortly after the failure of this expedition, the sad effects of a long
protracted drought called forth a more general spirit of enterprise and
exertion among the settlers; and Mr. Oxley makes honorable mention of the
perseverance and resolution with which Lieut. Lawson, of the 104th
regiment, accompanied by Messrs. Blaxland and Wentworth, conducted an
expedition into the Blue Mountains. Their efforts were successful: and
the objects of their enterprise would have been completely attained, but
for the failure of their provisions at a moment when their view of the
distant interior was such as to convince them that they had overcome the
most formidable obstacles to their advance, and that in their further
progress few impediments would have presented themselves.


The success of this undertaking induced Governor Macquarie to further the
prosecution of inland discovery, and of attempts to ascertain the nature
of the country of which Mr. Lawson only obtained a glimpse. An expedition
was accordingly dispatched under Mr. Evans, the Deputy Surveyor-General,
to follow the route taken by the former one, and to penetrate as far as
practicable into the western interior. The result was the discovery of the
Macquarie river, and of Bathurst Plains. The report of Mr. Evans was so
favourable, that orders were immediately issued for the construction of a
line of road across the mountains. When that was completed, the Governor
went in person to fix the site of a future town on Bathurst Plains. From
thence Mr. Evans, who accompanied the Governor on the occasion, was
directed to proceed to the southward and westward, to ascertain the nature
of the country in that direction. He discovered another considerable
river, flowing, like the Macquarie, to the west, to which he gave the name
of the Lachlan. The promising appearance of these two streams, and the
expectation of all parties that they would be found to water rich and
extensive tracts of country, led to the fitting out of a more important
expedition than any which had before been contemplated.


Mr. Oxley, the Surveyor-General of the Colony, was appointed chief of this
expedition, and was directed to trace the Lachlan and Macquarie rivers, as
far as practicable, with a view to ascertain their capabilities and the
nature of the country they watered. In 1817, Mr. Oxley directed his
attention to the former river, and continued to follow its windings, until
it appeared that its waters were lost in successive marshes and it ceased
to be a river. In the following year he turned towards the Macquarie, and
traced it, in like manner, until he was checked by high reeds that covered
an extensive plain before him, amidst which the channel of the river was

From what he observed of the country, on both these occasions, he was led
to infer that beyond the limits of his advance the interior had a uniform
level, and was, for the most part, uninhabitable and under water. Its
features must have been strongly marked to have confirmed such an opinion
in the mind of the late Surveyor-General. It stands recorded on the pages
of his journal, that he travelled over a country of many miles in extent,
after clearing the mountains, which so far from presenting any rise of
ground to the eye, bore unequivocal marks of frequent and extensive
inundation. He traced two rivers of considerable size, and found that, at
a great distance from each other, they apparently terminated in marshes,
and that the country beyond them was low and unbroken. In his progress
eastward, he crossed a third stream (the Castlereagh), about forty-five
miles from the Macquarie, seemingly not inferior to it in size,
originating in the mountains for which he was making, and flowing nearly
parallel to the other rivers into a level country like that which he had
just quitted.


Mr. Evans, moreover, who accompanied Mr. Oxley on these journeys, and who
had been detached by his principal from Mount Harris, to ascertain the
nature of the country in the line which the expedition was next to pursue,
having crossed the Castlereagh considerably below the place at which the
party afterwards effected a passage, reported that the river was then
running through high reeds. The inference naturally drawn by Mr. Oxley,
was, that it terminated as the Lachlan and the Macquarie had done; and
that their united waters formed an inland sea or basin. It is evident that
Mr. Oxley had this impression on his mind, when he turned towards the
coast; but the wet state of the lowlands prevented him from ascertaining
its correctness or error. Doubt, consequently, still existed as to the
nature of the country he had left behind him; a question in which the best
interests of the colony were apparently involved. Subsequently to these
discoveries, Mr. Surveyor Mechan, accompanied by Mr. Hamilton Hume, a
colonist of considerable experience, explored the country more to the
southward and westward of Sydney, and discovered most of the new country
called Argyle, and also Lake Bathurst.

Mr. Hume was afterwards associated with a Mr. Hovel, in an excursion to
the south coast, under the auspices of Sir Thomas Brisbane. After a most
persevering and laborious journey, they reached the sea; but it is
uncertain whether they made Port Philips, or Western Port. Mr. Hume, whose
practical experience will yield to that of no man, entertains a conviction
that it was to the former they descended from the neighbouring ranges; but
Mr. Hovel, I believe supports a contrary opinion. In the early stage of
their journey, they passed over York or Yass Plains; and, after crossing
the Morumbidgee, were generally entangled among mountain ranges that
increased in height to the east and south-east. They crossed three
considerable rivers, falling westerly, which they named the Goulburn, the
Hume, and the Ovens; and found a beautiful and well-watered country in the
vicinity of the coast.

In 1826, Mr. Allan Cunningham, Botanical Collector to his late Majesty,
traversed a considerable portion of the interior to the north of Bathurst,
and, with a laudable zeal, devoted his labours to the acquisition of
general information, as well as to his more immediate professional
pursuits. In 1827, this gentleman again bent his steps towards the
northward, and succeeded in gaining the 28th parallel of latitude; and,
on a subsequent occasion, having taken his departure from Moreton Bay, he
connected his former journey with that settlement, and thus contributed
largely to our knowledge of the mountain country between it and the
capital. Mr. Cunningham, who, independently of his individual excursions,
had not only circumnavigated the Australian Continent with Capt. King,
but had formed also one of the party with Mr. Oxley, in the journeys
before noticed, had adopted this gentleman's opinion with regard to the
swampy and inhospitable character of the distant interior. Its depressed
appearance from the high ground on which Mr. Cunningham subsequently
moved, tended to confirm this opinion, which was moreover daily gaining
strength from the reports of the natives, who became more frequent in
their intercourse with the whites, and who reported that there were large
waters to the westward, on which the natives had canoes, and in which
there were fish of great size.

It became, therefore, a current opinion, that the western interior of New
Holland comprehended an extensive basin, of which the ocean of reeds which
had proved so formidable to Mr. Oxley, formed most probably the outskirts;
and it was generally thought that an expedition proceeding into the
interior, would encounter marshes of vast extent, which would be extremely
difficult to turn, and no less dangerous to enter.

It remained to be proved, however, whether these conjectures were founded
in fact. The chief difficulty lay in the character of the country, and in
providing the necessary means to ensure success. Those which were resorted
to will be found in the succeeding chapter. Whether they would have been
found sufficient and applicable had the interior been wholly under water,
is doubtful; and my impression on this point induced me to make more
efficient arrangements on the second expedition.



State of the Colony in 1828-29--Objects of the Expedition--Departure
from Sydney--Wellington Valley--Progress down the Macquarie--Arrival at
Mount Harris--Stopped by the marshes--Encamp amidst reeds--Excursions down
the river--Its termination-- Appearance of the marshes--Opthalmic
affection of the men--Mr. Hume's successful journey to the northward--
Journey across the plain--Second great marsh--Perplexities--Situation of
the exploring party--Consequent resolutions.

The year 1826 was remarkable for the commencement of one of those fearful
droughts to which we have reason to believe the climate of New South Wales
is periodically subject. It continued during the two following years with
unabated severity. The surface of the earth became so parched up that
minor vegetation ceased upon it. Culinary herbs were raised with
difficulty, and crops failed even in the most favourable situations.
Settlers drove their flocks and herds to distant tracts for pasture and
water, neither remaining for them in the located districts. The interior
suffered equally with the coast, and men, at length, began to despond
under so alarming a visitation. It almost appeared as if the Australian
sky were never again to be traversed by a cloud.


But, however severe for the colony the seasons had proved, or were likely
to prove, it was borne in mind at this critical moment, that the wet and
swampy state of the interior had alone prevented Mr. Oxley from
penetrating further into it, in 1818. Each successive report from
Wellington Valley, the most distant settlement to the N. W., confirmed the
news of the unusually dry state of the lowlands, and of the exhausted
appearance of the streams falling into them. It was, consequently, hoped
that an expedition, pursuing the line of the Macquarie, would have a
greater chance of success than the late Surveyor General had; and that the
difficulties he had to contend against would be found to be greatly
diminished, if not altogether removed. The immediate fitting out of an
expedition was therefore decided upon, for the express purpose of
ascertaining the nature and extent of that basin into which the Macquarie
was supposed to fall, and whether any connection existed between it and
the streams falling westerly. As I had early taken a great interest in the
geography of New South Wales, the Governor was pleased to appoint me to
the command of this expedition.


In the month of September, 1828, I received his Excellency's commands to
prepare for my journey; and by the commencement of November, had organized
my party, and completed the necessary arrangements. On the 9th of that
month, I waited on the Governor, at Parramatta, to receive his definitive
instructions. As the establishments at Sydney had been unable to supply me
with the necessary number of horses and oxen, instructions had been
forwarded to Mr. Maxwell, the superintendent of Wellington Valley, to
train a certain number for my use; and I was now directed to push for that
settlement without loss of time. I returned to Sydney in the afternoon of
the 9th, and on the 10th took leave of my brother officers, to commence a
journey of very dubious issue; and, in company with my friend,
Staff-surgeon M'Leod, who had obtained permission to accompany me to the
limits of the colony, followed my men along the great western road. We
moved leisurely over the level country, between the coast and the Nepean
River, and availed ourselves of the kind hospitality of those of our
friends whose property lay along that line of road, to secure more
comfortable places of rest than the inns would have afforded.

We reached Sheane, the residence of Dr. Harris, on the 11th, and were
received by him with the characteristic kindness with which friends or
strangers are ever welcomed by that gentleman, He had accompanied
Mr. Oxley as a volunteer in 1818, and his name was then given to the
mount which formed the extreme point to which the main body of the first
expedition down the banks of the Macquarie penetrated, in a westerly

The general appearance of the property of Dr. Harris, showed how much
perseverance and labour had effected towards its improvement. Many acres
of ground bore a promising crop, over which a gloomy forest had once
waved. The Doctor's farming establishment was as complete as his husbandry
seemed to be prosperous; but he did not appear to be satisfied with the
extent of his dwelling, to which he was making considerable additions,
although I should have thought it large enough for all ordinary purposes
of residence or hospitality. The rewards of successful industry were
everywhere visible.


On the 13th, we gained Regent's Ville, the more splendid mansion of Sir
John Jamieson, which overlooks the Nepean River, and commands the most
beautiful and extensive views of the Blue Mountains. Crossing the ford on
the 14th, we overtook the men as they were toiling up the first ascent of
those rugged bulwarks, which certainly gave no favourable earnest of the
road before us; and, as we could scarcely hope to reach the level country
to the westward without the occurrence of some accident, I determined to
keep near the drays, that I might be on hand should my presence be
required. We gained O'Connell's plains on the 20th November, and arrived
at Bathurst on the 22nd, with no other damage than the loss of one of the
props supporting the boat which snapped in two as we descended Mount York.
On examination, it was found that the boat had also received a slight
contusion, but it admitted of easy repair.

I was detained at Bathurst longer than I intended, in consequence of
indisposition, and during my stay there experienced many proofs of the
kind hospitality of the settlers of that promising district: nor was I
ever more impressed with the importance of the service upon which I was
employed, or more anxious as to the issue, than while contemplating the
rapid advance of agriculture upon its plains, and the formidable bar to
its prosperity which I had left behind me, in the dark and gloomy ranges
which I had crossed.

On the 27th, Mr. Hamilton Hume, whose experience well qualified him for
the task, and who had been associated with me in the expedition, having
joined me, we proceeded on our journey, and reached Wellington Valley
about the end of the month.


I wished to push into the interior without any delay, or at least, so soon
as we should have completed our arrangements and organized the party; but,
although Mr. Maxwell had paid every attention to the training of the
cattle, he was of opinion that they could not yet be wholly relied upon,
and strongly recommended that they should be kept at practice for another
week. As we could not have left the settlement under the most favourable
circumstances in less than four days, the further delay attendant on this
measure was considered immaterial, and it was, accordingly, determined
upon. Mr. Hume undertook to superintend the training of the animals, and
this left me at leisure to gather such information as would be of use to
us in our progress down the river.

In his description of Wellington Valley, Mr. Oxley has not done it more
than justice. It is certainly a beautiful and fertile spot, and it was now
abundant in pasturage, notwithstanding the unfavourable season that had
passed over it.

The settlement stands upon the right bank of the Bell, about two miles
above the junction of that stream with the Macquarie. Its whitewashed
buildings bore outward testimony to the cleanliness and regularity of the
inhabitants; and the respectful conduct of the prisoners under his charge,
showed that Mr. Maxwell had maintained that discipline by which alone he
could have secured respect to himself and success to his exertions, at
such a distance from the seat of government.

The weather was so exceedingly hot, during our stay, that it was
impossible to take exercise at noon; but in the evening, or at an early
hour in the morning, we were enabled to make short excursions in the

Mr. Maxwell informed me that there were three stations below the
settlement, the first of which, called Gobawlin, belonging to Mr. Wylde,
was not more than five miles from it; the other two, occupied by Mr.
Palmer, were at a greater distance, one being nineteen, the other
thirty-four miles below the junction of the Bell. He was good enough to
send for the stockman (or chief herdsman), in charge of the last, to give
me such information of the nature of the country below him, as he could
furnish from personal knowledge or from the accounts of the natives.


Mr. Maxwell pointed out to me the spot on which Mr. Oxley's boats had been
built, close upon the bank of the Macquarie; and I could not but reflect
with some degree of apprehension on the singularly diminished state of the
river from what it must then have been to allow a boat to pass down it.
Instead of a broad stream and a rapid current, the stream was confined to
a narrow space in the centre of the channel, and it ran so feebly amidst
frequent shallows that it was often scarcely perceptible. The Bell, also,
which Mr. Oxley describes as dashing and rippling along its pebbly bed,
had ceased to flow, and consisted merely of a chain of ponds.

On the 3rd of Dec, the stockman from below arrived; but the only
information we gathered from him was the existence of a lake to the left
of the river, about three days' journey below the run of his herds, on the
banks of which he assured us, the native companions, a species of stork,
stood in rows like companies of soldiers.

He brought up a nest of small paroquets of the most beautiful plumage, as
a present to Mr. Maxwell, and affirmed that they were common about his
part of the river. The peculiarity of the seasons had also brought a
parrot into the valley which had never before visited it. This delicate
bird was noticed by Captain Cook upon the coast, and is called
PSITTACUS NOVAE HOLLANDIAE, or New Holland Parrot, by Mr. Brown. It had
not, however, been subsequently seen until the summer of 1828, when it
made its appearance at Wellington Valley in considerable numbers, together
with a species of merops or mountain bee-eater.


On the 5th, our preparations being wholly completed, and the loads
arranged, the party was mustered, and was found to consist of myself and
Mr. Hume, two soldiers and eight prisoners of the crown, two of whom were
to return with dispatches. Our animals numbered two riding, and seven
pack, horses, two draft, and eight pack, bullocks, exclusive of two
horses of my own, and two for the men to be sent back.


The morning of the 7th December, the day upon which we were to leave the
valley, was ushered in by a cloudless sky, and that heated appearance in
the atmosphere which foretells an oppressively sultry day. I therefore put
off the moment of our departure to the evening, and determined to proceed
no further than Gobawlin. I was the more readily induced to order this
short journey because the animals had not been practised to their full
loads, and I thought they might have given some trouble at starting with
an unusual weight. They moved off however very quietly, and as if they had
been accustomed to their work by a long course of training. We took our
departure from the settlement at 3 p.m. and, crossing to the right bank of
the Macquarie, a little above its junction with the Bell, reached Mr
Wylde's station about half-past five. Thus we commenced our journey under
circumstances as favorable as could have been wished. In disengaging
ourselves on the following day from the hills by which Wellington Valley
is encompassed on the westward, with a view to approach Mr. Palmer's first
station, we kept rather wide of the river, and only occasionally touched
on its more projecting angles. The soil at a distance from the stream was
by no means so good as that in its immediate vicinity, nor was the timber
of the same description. On the rich and picturesque grounds near the
river the angophora prevailed with the flooded gum, and the scenery upon
its banks was improved by the casuarinae that overhung them. On the
latter, inferior eucalypti and cypresses were mixed together. The country
was broken and undulating, and the hills stony, notwithstanding which,
they appeared to have an abundance of pasture upon them. Mr. Hume rode
with me to the summit of a limestone elevation, from which I thought it
probable we might have obtained such a view as would have enabled us to
form some idea of the country into which we were about to descend. But in
following the river line, the eye wandered over a dark and unbroken
forest alone. The ranges from which we were fast receding formed an
irregular and beautiful landscape to the southward; and contrasted
strongly with the appearance of the country to the N. W., in which
direction it was rapidly assuming a level.

We reached Mr. Palmer's at a late hour in the afternoon, in consequence of
a delay we experienced in crossing a gully, and encamped upon a high bank
immediately opposite to the mouth of Molle's rivulet which here joins the
Macquarie from the southward. The cattle had consumed all the food, and
the ground on both sides of the river looked bare and arid.

No doubt, however, the face of the country in ordinary seasons wears a
very different appearance. Its general elevation continued high; nor did
the Macquarie assume any change of aspect. Mountain debris and rounded
pebbles of various kinds formed its bed, which was much encumbered with


We had been unable to persuade any of the natives of Wellington Valley to
accompany us as guides, on our leaving that settlement. Even Mr. Maxwell's
influence failed; for, notwithstanding the promises of several, when they
saw that we were ready to depart, they either feigned sickness or stated
that they were afraid of the more distant natives. The fact is, that they
were too lazy to wander far from their own district, and too fond of
Maxwell's beef to leave it for a precarious bush subsistence. Fortunately
we found several natives with Mr. Palmer's stockmen, who readily undertook
to conduct us by the nearest route to the cataract, which we considered to
be midway between Wellington Valley and Mount Harris. We started under
their guidance for Dibilamble, Mr. Palmer's second station, and reached it
about half-past 4 p.m. The distance between the two is sixteen miles. The
country for some miles differs in no material point from that through
which we had already passed. The same rich tracts of soil near the river
and the same inferiority in the tracks remote from it. Near Dibilamble,
however, the limestone formation terminates, and gives place to barren
stony ridges, upon which the cypress callities is of close and stunted
growth. The ridges themselves were formed of a coarse kind of freestone
in a state of rapid decomposition. The Tabragar (the Erskine of Mr. Oxley)
falls into the Macquarie at Dibilamble. It had long ceased to flow, being
a small mountain torrent whose source, if we judge from the shingly nature
of its bed, cannot be very distant. Our descent was considerable during
the day; the rapids were frequent in the river, but it underwent no change
in its general appearance. Its waters were hard and transparent, and its
banks, in many places, extremely lofty; with a red sandy loam and gravel
under the alluvial deposits. It generally happened that where the bank was
high on the one side it was low and subject to flood, to a limited extent
at least, on the other. Upon these low grounds the blue-gum trees were of
lofty growth, but on the upper levels box prevailed.


The views upon the river were really beautiful, and varied at every turn;
nor is it possible for any tree to exceed the casuarina in the graceful
manner in which it bends over the stream, or clings to some solitary rock
in its centre.

It here became necessary for us to cross to the left bank of the river,
not only to avoid its numerous windings, and thus to preserve as much as
possible the direct line to Mount Harris; but also, because the travelling
was much better on the south side. We therefore availed ourselves of a
ford opposite to the ground on which the tents had stood; and then pursued
our journey, in a south-westerly course, over a country of a description
very inferior to that of any we had previously noticed.

Iron-bark and cypresses generally prevailed along our line of route on a
poor and sandy soil, which improved after we passed Elizabeth Burn, a
small creek mentioned by Mr. Oxley.


We approached the river again early in the day, and pitched our tent on
the summit of a sloping bank that overlooked one of its long still
reaches. We were protected from the sun by the angophora trees, which
formed a hanging wood around us, and, with its bright green foliage, gave
a cheerfulness to the scene that was altogether unusual. The opposite side
of the river was rather undulated, and the soil appeared to be of the
finest description. The grass, although growing in tufts, afforded
abundance of pasture for the cattle; and, on the whole, this struck me as
a most eligible spot for a station, and I found it occupied as such on the
return of the expedition. We had encamped about a quarter of a mile from
Taylor's Rivulet, which discharges itself into the Macquarie from the
N. E., and is the first stream, upon the right bank, below the Wellington

Immediately after receiving it the river sweeps away to the southward, in
consequence of which it became again necessary for us to cross it. Our
guides, who were intelligent lads, led the cattle to a ford, a little
below the junction of Taylor's Rivulet, at which we effected a passage
with some difficulty; the opposite bank being very steep, and we were
obliged to force our way up a gully for some eighty or a hundred yards
before we could extricate the team. Pursuing our journey, in a N. W.
direction, we soon left the rich and undulating grounds bordering the
river behind us. A poor, level, and open country, succeeded them. The
soil changed to a light red, sandy loam, on which eucalypti, cypresses,
and casuarinae, were intermixed with minor shrubs; of which latter, the
cherry tree (exocarpus cupressiformis) was the most prevalent.

At about seven miles from the river we passed some barren freestone
ridges, near which Mr. Hume killed the first kangaroo we had seen. At
mid-day we passed a small creek, at which the cattle were watered; and
afterwards continued our journey through a country similar to that over
which we had already made our way.

As we neared the stream we noticed the acacia pendula for the first
time,--an indication of our approach to the marshes. The weather still
continued extremely hot. Our journey this day was unusually long, and our
cattle suffered so much, and moved so slowly, that it was late when we
struck upon the Macquarie, at a part where its banks were so high that we
had some difficulty in finding a good watering place.


Being considerably in front of the party, with one of our guides, when we
neared the river, I came suddenly upon a family of natives. They were much
terrified, and finding that they could not escape, called vehemently to
some of their companions, who were in the distance. By the time Mr. Hume
came up, they had in some measure recovered their presence of mind, but
availed themselves of the first favourable moment to leave us. I was
particular in not imposing any restraint on these men, in consequence of
which they afterwards mustered sufficient resolution to visit us in our
camp. We now judged that we were about ten miles from the cataract, and
that, according to the accounts of the stockman, we could not be very
distant from the lake he had mentioned.


As I was unwilling to pass any important feature of the country without
enquiry or examination, I requested Mr. Hume to interrogate the strangers
on the subject. They stated that they belonged to the lake tribe, that the
lake was a short day's journey to the eastward, and that they would guide
us to it if we wished. The matter was accordingly arranged. They left us
at dusk, but returned to the camp at the earliest dawn; when we once more
crossed the river, and, after traversing a very level country for about
nine miles, arrived at our destination. We passed over the dried beds of
lagoons, and through coppices of cypresses and acacia pendula, or open
forest, but did not observe any of the barren stony ridges so common to
the N.E. About a mile, or a mile and a half, from the lake we examined a
solitary grave that had recently been constructed. It consisted of an
oblong mound, with three semicircular seats. A walk encompassed the whole,
from which three others branched off for a few yards only, into the
forest. Several cypresses, overhanging the grave, were fancifully carved
on the inner side, and on one the shape of a heart was deeply engraved.


We were sadly disappointed in the appearance of the lake, which the
natives call the Buddah. It is a serpentine sheet of fresh water, of
rather more than a mile in length, and from three to four hundred yards in
breadth. Its depth was four fathoms; but it seemed as if it were now five
or six feet below the ordinary level. No stream either runs into it or
flows from it; yet it abounds in fish; from which circumstance I should
imagine that it originally owed its supply to the river during some
extensive inundation. Notwithstanding that we had crossed some rich tracts
of land in our way to it, the neighbourhood of the lake was by no means
fertile. The trees around it were in rapid decay, and the little
vegetation to be seen appeared to derive but little advantage from its
proximity to water.


We had started at early dawn; and the heat had become intolerable long ere
the sun had gained the meridian. It was rendered still more oppressive
from the want of air in the dense bushes through which we occasionally
moved. At 2 p.m. the thermometer stood at 129 degrees of Fahrenheit, in
the shade; and at 149 degrees in the sun; the difference being exactly 20
degrees. It is not to be wondered at that the cattle suffered, although
the journey was so short. The sun's rays were too powerful even for the
natives, who kept as much as possible in the shade. In the evening, when
the atmosphere was somewhat cooler, we launched the boat upon the lake,
in order to get some wild fowl and fish; but although we were tolerably
successful with our guns, we did not take anything with our hooks.

The natives had, in the course of the afternoon, been joined by the rest
of the tribe, and they now numbered about three and twenty. They were
rather distant in their manner, and gazed with apparent astonishment at
the scene that was passing before them.

If there had been other proof wanting, of the lamentably parched and
exhausted state of the interior, we had on this occasion ample evidence of
it, and of the fearful severity of the drought under which the country was
suffering. As soon as the sun dipped under the horizon, hundreds of birds
came crowding to the border of the lake, to quench the thirst they had
been unable to allay in the forest. Some were gasping, others almost too
weak to avoid us, and all were indifferent to the reports of our guns.



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