Production notes: Footnotes inserted in square brackets  at point where referenced, or at end of paragraph. Plates (illustrations) not included. A list of plates is given at end of Table of Contents.
Journal of an Overland Expedition in Australia: From Moreton Bay to Port Essington, a distance of upwards of 3000 miles, during the years 1844-1845
by Ludwig Leichhardt
"Die Gotter brauchen manchen guten Mann Zu ihrem Dienst auf dieser weiten Erde"
GOETHE, Iph. auf Tauris.
To WILLIAM ALLEYNE NICHOLSON, ESQ., M.D. of Bristol; To ROBERT LYND, ESQ. OF SYDNEY And to THE GENEROUS PEOPLE OF NEW SOUTH WALES This work is respectfully and gratefully dedicated, By The Author
In preparing this volume for the press, I have been under the greatest obligations to Captain P. P. King, R. N., an officer whose researches have added so much to the geography of Australia. This gentleman has not only corrected my manuscript, but has added notes, the value of which will be appreciated by all who consider the opportunities he has had of obtaining the most correct information upon these subjects, during his surveys of the coasts parallel to my track.
To S. A. Perry, Esq., Deputy Surveyor General, I am extremely indebted for the assiduous labour he has bestowed in draughting my map. I shall ever remember the friendly interest he expressed, and the courteous attention with which he listened to the details of my journey.
From the Rev. W. B. Clarke, in addition to the unvaried kindness he has evinced towards me since my arrival in Australia, I have received every assistance which his high scientific acquirements enabled him to give.
I take this opportunity of publicly expressing my most sincere thanks to these gentlemen, for the generous assistance they have afforded me on this occasion, and for the warm interest which they have been kind enough to take in the success of my approaching enterprise.
LUDWIG LEICHIJARDT. SYDNEY, September 29th, 1846.
CHAPTER I LEAVE THE LAST STATION—FOSSIL REMAINS—DARLING DOWNS—ENTER THE WILDERNESS—WATERLOO PLAINS—THE CONDAMINE—HEAVY RAINS—CHARLEY'S MISCONDUCT—MURPHY AND CALEB LOST—KENT'S LAGOON—COAL—MURPHY AND CALEB FOUND AGAIN.
CHAPTER II PARTY REDUCED BY THE RETURN OF MR. HODGSON AND CALEB—MEET FRIENDLY NATIVES—NATIVE TOMB—THE DAWSON—VERVAIN PLAINS—GILBERT'S RANGE—LYND'S RANGE—ROBINSON'S CREEK—MURPHY'S LAKE—MOUNTAINOUS COUNTRY—EXPEDITION RANGE—MOUNT NICHOLSON—ALDIS'S PEAK—THE BOYD.
CHAPTER III RUINED CASTLE CREEK—ZAMIA CREEK—BIGGE'S MOUNTAIN—ALLOWANCE OF FLOUR REDUCED—NATIVES SPEAR A HORSE—CHRISTMAS RANGES—BROWN'S LAGOONS—THUNDER-STORMS—ALBINIA DOWNS—COMET CREEK—NATIVE CAMP.
CHAPTER IV SWARMS OF COCKATOOS—ALLOWANCE OF FLOUR FURTHER REDUCED—NATIVE FAMILY—THE MACKENZIE—COAL—NATIVES SPEAKING A DIFFERENT IDIOM—MOUNT STEWART—BROWN AND MYSELF MISS THE WAY BACK TO THE CAMP—FIND OUR PARTY AGAIN, ON THE FOURTH DAY—NEUMAN'S CREEK—ROPER'S PEAK—CALVERT'S PEAK—GILBERT'S DOME—GREAT WANT OF WATER.
CHAPTER V DIFFERENCE OF SOIL AS TO MOISTURE—PHILLIPS'S MOUNTAIN—ALLOWANCE OF FLOUR REDUCED AGAIN—HUGHS'S CREEK—TOMBSTONE CREEK—CHARLEY AND BROWN BECOME UNRULY—THE ISAACS—NATIVE WOMEN—COXEN'S PEAK AND RANGE—GEOLOGICAL CHARACTER—CHARLEY REBELS AGAIN AND LEAVES—BROWN FOLLOWS HIM—BOTH RETURN PENITENT—VARIATIONS OF THE WEATHER—SKULL OF NATIVE—FRIENDLY NATIVES VISIT THE CAMP.
CHAPTER VI HEADS OF THE ISAACS—THE SUTTOR—FLINT-ROCK—INDICATIONS OF WATER—DINNER OF THE NATIVES APPROPRIATED BY US—EASTER SUNDAY—ALARM OF AN OLD WOMAN—NATIVES SPEAKING A LANGUAGE ENTIRELY UNKNOWN TO CHARLEY AND BROWN—A BARTER WITH THEM—MOUNT M'CONNEL.
CHAPTER VII THE BURDEKIN—TRANSITION FROM THE DEPOSITORY TO THE PRIMITIVE ROCKS—THACKER'S RANGE—WILD FIGS—GEOLOGICAL REMARKS—THE CLARKE—THE PERRY.
CHAPTER VIII BROWN AND CHARLEY QUARREL—NIGHT WATCH—ROUTINE OF OUR DAILY LIFE, AND HABITS OF THE MEMBERS OF THE PARTY—MOUNT LANG—STREAMS OF LAVA—A HORSE BREAKS HIS LEG, IS KILLED AND EATEN—NATIVE TRIBE—MR. ROPER'S ACCIDENT—WHITSUNDAY—BIG ANT HILL CREEK—DEPRIVED OF WATER FOR FIFTY HOURS—FRIENDLY NATIVES—SEPARATION CREEK—THE LYND—PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF A SOJOURN IN THE WILDERNESS—NATIVE CAMP—SALT EXHAUSTED.
CHAPTER IX THE STARRY HEAVENS—SUBSTITUTE FOR COFFEE—SAWFISH— TWO-STORIED GUNYAS OF THE NATIVES—THE MITCHELL—MURPHY'S PONY POISONED—GREEN TREE-ANT—NEW BEVERAGE—CROCODILE— AUDACITY OF KITES—NATIVES NOT FRIENDLY—THE CAMP ATTACKED AT NIGHT BY THEM—MESSRS. ROPER AND CALVERT WOUNDED, AND MR. GILBERT KILLED.
CHAPTER X INDICATIONS OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF THE SEA—NATIVES MUCH MORE NUMEROUS—THE SEA; THE GULF OF CARPENTARIA—THE STAATEN—A NATIVE INTRUDES INTO THE CAMP—THE VAN DIEMEN—THE GILBERT—SINGULAR NATIVE HUTS—CARON RIVER—FRIENDLY NATIVES—THE YAPPAR—MR. CALVERT RECOVERED—MODE OF ENCAMPMENT—SWARMS OF FLIES—ABUNDANCE OF SALT—NATIVES FRIENDLY, AND MORE INTELLIGENT.
CHAPTER XI SYSTEMATIC GRASS BURNINGS OF THE NATIVES—NATIVE CARVING—AUDACITY OF THE NATIVES OVERAWED—THE ALBERT, OR MAET SUYKER—NATIVE MODE OF MAKING SURE OF A DEAD EMU— BULLOCK BOGGED; OBLIGED TO KILL IT—NATIVE DEVICE FOR TAKING EMUS—BEAMES'S BROOK—THE NICHOLSON—RECONNOITRE BY NIGHT—SMITH'S CREEK—THE MARLOW.
CHAPTER XII HEAPS OF OYSTER-SHELLS—FALSE ALARM OF A NATIVE IN THE CAMP—TURNER'S CREEK—WENTWORTH'S CREEK—JOURNALS LOST; FOUND AGAIN—THE VAN ALPHEN—IMPORTANCE OF TEA—CHOICE OF BULLOCKS FOR AN EXPEDITION—CHOICE OF A DOG—THE CALVERT—THE ABEL TASMAN—GLUCKING BIRD AGAIN—DISCOVER A MODE OF USING THE FRUIT OF THE PANDANUS—SEVEN EMU RIVER—CROCODILE—THE ROBINSON—SHOAL OF PORPOISES—NATIVE METHOD OF PREPARING THE FRUIT OF THE PANDANUS AND CYCAS FOR FOOD—MR. ROPER CONVALESCENT—WEAR AND TEAR OF CLOTHES—SUCCEED IN DRESSING THE SEEDS OF STERCULIA—THE MACARTHUR—FRIENDLY PARLEY WITH CIRCUMCISED NATIVES—STORE OF TEA EXHAUSTED—MEDICAL PROPERTY OF THE GREVILLEA DISCOVERED.
CHAPTER XIII CAPE MARIA—OBLIGED TO LEAVE A PORTION OF OUR COLLECTION OF NATURAL HISTORY—LIMMEN BIGHT RIVER—HABITS OF WATER BIRDS—NATIVE FISH TRAP—THE FOUR ARCHERS—THE WICKHAM—THE DOG DIES—IMMENSE NUMBER OF DUCKS AND GEESE—THE ROPER—THREE HORSES DROWNED—OBLIGED TO LEAVE A PORTION OF MY BOTANICAL COLLECTION—MORE INTERCOURSE WITH FRIENLDY NATIVES, CIRCUMCISED—HODGSON'S CREEK—THE WILTON—ANOTHER HORSE DROWNED—ANXIETY ABOUT OUR CATTLE—AN ATTACK ON THE CAMP FRUSTRATED—BOILS—BASALT AGAIN—INJURIOUS EFFECTS OF THE SEEDS OF AN ACACIA.
CHAPTER XIV INTERVIEW WITH A NATIVE—DISTRESSING HEAT—A HORSE STAKED: IT DIES—MYRIADS OF FLYING-FOXES—MAGNIFICENT VALLEY—FRIENDLY NATIVES—SHOT EXHAUSTED—INSTINCT OF BULLOCKS—SOUTH ALLIGATOR RIVER—FRIENDLY NATIVES WITH AN ENGLISH HANDKERCHIEF, AND ACQUAINTED WITH FIRE-ARMS—THEIR LANGUAGE—MIRAGE.
CHAPTER XV JOY AT MEETING NATIVES SPEAKING SOME ENGLISH—THEY ARE VERY FRIENDLY—ALLAMURR—DISCERNMENT OF NATIVE SINCERITY—EAST ALLIGATOR RIVER—CLOUDS OF DUST MISTAKEN FOR SMOKE— IMPATIENCE TO REACH THE END OF THE JOURNEY—NATIVES STILL MORE INTELLIGENT—NYUALL—BUFFALOES; SOURCE FROM WHICH THEY SPRUNG—NATIVE GUIDES ENGAGED; BUT THEY DESERT US—MOUNT MORRIS BAY—RAFFLES BAY—LEAVE THE PACKHORSE AND BULLOCK BEHIND—BILL WHITE—ARRIVE AT PORT ESSINGTON—VOYAGE TO SYDNEY. APPENDIX LETTER FROM THE COLONIAL SECRETARY TO DR. LEICHHARDT
THE LEICHHARDT TESTIMONIAL
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LIST OF PLATES (Not included in this etext)
Lagoon near South Alligator River Portraits of "Charley" and "Harry Brown" Mount Nicholson, Expedition Range, etc. Peak Range Red Mountain Fletcher's Awl, etc. Campbell's Peak Mount M'Connel. Ranges seen from a granitic hill between second and third camp at the Burdekin Robey's Range Grasshopper View near South Alligator River Victoria Square, Port Essington
ORIGIN OF THE EXPEDITION—PARTY FORMED—LEAVE SYDNEY FOR BRISBANE—PARTY ENLARGED—OUTFIT AND STORES.
On my return to Moreton Bay, from an exploratory journey in the country northward of that district, which had occupied me for two years, I found that the subject of an overland expedition to Port Essington on the North Coast of Australia, was occupying much attention, as well on the part of the public as on that of the Legislative Council, which had earnestly recommended the appropriation of a sum of money to the amount of 1000 pounds, for the equipment of an expedition under Sir Thomas Mitchell, to accomplish this highly interesting object. Some delay was, however, caused by the necessity of communicating with the Secretary of State for the Colonies; and in the mean time it was understood that Captain Sturt was preparing to start from Adelaide to proceed across the Continent. From the experience which I had gained during my two years' journeyings, both in surmounting the difficulties of travelling through a broken mountainous country, and in enduring privations of every sort, "I was inspired with the desire of attempting it," provided I could be assisted in the expense that would necessarily be incurred for the outfit, and could find a few companions who would be contented with animal food, and willingly and patiently submit to the privation of flour, tea, and sugar, and resign themselves to my guidance.
I had well considered this interesting subject in all its bearings, and had discussed it with many of my acquaintances at Brisbane and its neighbouring district; who were generally of opinion that it was practicable, under the plan I had marked out: but with others, particularly at Sydney, I had to contend against a strong but kindly meant opposition to my journey. Some, who took more than a common interest in my pursuits, regretted that I should leave so promising a field of research as that which offered itself within the limits of New South Wales, and in which they considered I had laboured with some success during the last two years. Others considered the undertaking exceedingly dangerous, and even the conception of it madness on my part; and the consequence of a blind enthusiasm, nourished either by a deep devotion to science, or by an unreasonable craving for fame: whilst others did not feel themselves justified in assisting a man who they considered was setting out with an intention of committing suicide. I was not, however, blind as to the difficulties of the journey which I was determined to undertake; on the contrary, and I hope my readers will believe me to be sincere, I thought they would be many and great—greater indeed than they eventually proved to be; but, during my recent excursions through the Squatting districts, I had so accustomed myself to a comparatively wild life, and had so closely observed the habits of the aborigines, that I felt assured that the only real difficulties which I could meet with would be of a local character. And I was satisfied that, by cautiously proceeding, and always reconnoitring in advance or on either side of our course, I should be able to conduct my party through a grassy and well watered route; and, if I were so fortunate as to effect this, I felt assured that the journey, once commenced, would be finished only by our arrival at Port Essington. Buoyed up by this feeling, and by confidence in myself, I prevailed against the solicitations and arguments of my friends, and commenced my preparations, which, so far as my own slender means and the contributions of kind friends allowed, were rather hurriedly completed by the 13th August, 1844.
As our movements were to be comparatively in light marching order, our preparations were confined more to such provisions and stores as were actually necessary, than to anything else. But I had frequently reason to regret that I was not better furnished with instruments, particularly Barometers, or a boiling water apparatus, to ascertain the elevation of the country and ranges we had to travel over. The only instruments which I carried, were a Sextant and Artificial Horizon, a Chronometer, a hand Kater's Compass, a small Thermometer, and Arrowsmith's Map of the Continent of New Holland.
In arranging the plan of my journey I had limited my party to six individuals; and although many young men volunteered their services, I was obliged to decline their offers, and confine myself to the stated number, as it was intimately connected with the principles and the means on which I started.
On leaving Sydney, my companions consisted of Mr. James Calvert; Mr. John Roper; John Murphy, a lad of about 16 years old: of William Phillips, a prisoner of the Crown; and of "Harry Brown," an aboriginal of the Newcastle tribe: making with myself six individuals.
We left Sydney, on the night of the 13th August, for Moreton Bay, in the steamer "Sovereign," Captain Cape; and I have much pleasure in recording and thankfully acknowledging the liberality and disinterested kindness of the Hunter's River Steam Navigation Company, in allowing me a free passage for my party with our luggage and thirteen horses. The passage was unusually long, and, instead of arriving at Brisbane in three days, we were at sea a week, so that my horses suffered much for food and water, and became discouragingly poor. On arriving at Brisbane, we were received with the greatest kindness by my friends the "Squatters," a class principally composed of young men of good education, gentlemanly habits, and high principles, and whose unbounded hospitality and friendly assistance I had previously experienced during my former travels through the district. These gentlemen and the inhabitants of Brisbane overloaded me with kind contributions, much of which, however, to avoid any unnecessary increase to my luggage, I found myself compelled to decline or leave behind; so that I had to forego the advantage of many useful and desirable articles, from their being too cumbersome for my limited means of carriage, and therefore interfering with the arrangements for my undertaking.
My means, however, had since my arrival been so much increased, that I was after much reluctance prevailed upon to make one change,—to increase my party; and the following persons were added to the expedition:—Mr. Pemberton Hodgson, a resident of the district; Mr. Gilbert; Caleb, an American negro; and "Charley," an aboriginal native of the Bathurst tribe. Mr. Hodgson was so desirous of accompanying me that, in consideration of former obligations, I could not refuse him, and, as he was fond of Botanical pursuits, I thought he might be useful. Of Mr. Gilbert I knew nothing; he was in the service of Mr. Gould, the talented Zoologist who has added so much to our knowledge of the Fauna of Australia, and expressed himself so anxious for an opportunity of making important observations as to the limits of the habitat of the Eastern Coast Birds, and also where those of the North Coast commence; as well as of discovering forms new to Science during the progress of the journey, that, from a desire to render all the service in my power to Natural History, I found myself obliged to yield to his solicitations, although for some time I was opposed to his wish. These gentlemen equipped themselves, and added four horses and two bullocks to those already provided.
Perhaps, of all the difficulties I afterwards encountered, none were of so much real annoyance as those we experienced at first starting from Brisbane. Much rain had fallen, which filled the creeks and set them running, and made the road so boggy and soft as to render them almost impassable. It took us the whole day to transport our party, cattle, and provisions over the river, and the operation was not concluded before sunset; but, as it was a fine moonlight night, I determined to start, however short my first stage might be. Fortunately, my friends had lent me a bullock dray to convey a portion of our stores as far as Darling Downs; but, having purchased a light spring cart, it was also loaded; and, flattering myself that we should proceed comfortably and rapidly, I gave orders to march. After much continued difficulty in urging and assisting our horses to drag the cart through the boggy road, we arrived, at about one o'clock in the morning, at Cowper's Plains, about ten miles from Brisbane.
I now found my cart an impediment to our movements; but, as it had been an expensive article, I did not despair of its becoming more useful after passing the boggy country. A few days afterwards, however, an accident settled the question; the horses ran away with it, and thereby the shaft was broken, and the spring injured, so that I was compelled to leave it; which I then did most cheerfully, as it is always easier to man to yield to necessity, than to adopt an apparently inconvenient measure by his own free will. The load was removed to pack-horses, and we proceeded with comparative ease to Mr. Campbell's station, enjoying the hospitality of the settlers as we passed on, and carrying with us their best wishes.
I was fortunate in exchanging my broken cart for three good travelling bullocks, and afterwards purchased five draft-bullocks, which we commenced to break in for the pack-saddle; for I had by this time satisfied myself that we could not depend upon the horses for carrying our load. Neither my companions nor myself knew much about bullocks, and it was a long time before we were reconciled to the dangerous vicinity of their horns. By means, however, of iron nose-rings with ropes attached, we obtained a tolerable command over their movements; and, at last, by dint of habit, soon became familiar with, and even got attached to, our blunt and often refractory COMPAGNONS DE VOYAGE.
By a present from Messieurs Campbell and Stephens of four young steers and one old bullock, and of a fat bullock from Mr. Isaacs, our stock of cattle consisted now of 16 head: of horses we had 17: and our party consisted of ten individuals. Of provisions—we had 1200 lbs. of flour: 200 lbs. of sugar: 80 lbs. of tea: 20 lbs. of gelatine: and other articles of less consideration, but adding much to our comfort during the first few weeks of our journey. Of ammunition—we had about 30 pounds of powder, and 8 bags of shot of different sizes, chiefly of No. 4 and No. 6. Every one, at my desire, had provided himself with two pair of strong trowsers, three strong shirts, and two pair of shoes; and I may further remark that some of us were provided with Ponchos, made of light strong calico, saturated with oil, which proved very useful to us by keeping out the wet, and made us independent of the weather; so that we were well provided for seven months, which I was sanguine enough to think would be a sufficient time for our journey. The result proved that our calculations, as to the provisions, were very nearly correct; for even our flour, much of which was destroyed by accident, lasted to the end of May, the eighth month of our journey; but, as to the time it occupied, we were very much deceived.
Our riding-saddles and pack-saddles were made of good materials, but they were not fitted to the horses' backs, which caused a constant inconvenience, and which would not have happened, had my means allowed me to go to a greater expense. So long as we had spare horses, to allow those with sore backs to recover, we did not suffer by it: but when we were compelled to ride the same horses without intermission, it exposed us to great misery and even danger, as well as the risk of losing our provisions and stores. Our pack-saddles had consequently to be altered to the dimensions of the bullocks; and, having to use the new ones for breaking in, they were much injured, even before we left Mr. Campbell's to commence our journey. The statements of what a bullock was able to carry were very contradictory; but in putting 250 lbs. upon them the animals were overloaded; and my experience has since shown me that they cannot, continually day after day, carry more than 150 lbs. for any distance. The difficulties which we met with for the first three weeks, were indeed very trying:—the loading of bullocks and horses took generally two hours; and the slightest accident, or the cargo getting loose during the day's journey, frequently caused the bullocks to upset their loads and break the straps, and gave us great trouble even in catching them again:—at night, too, if we gave them the slightest chance, they would invariably stray back to the previous camp; and we had frequently to wait until noon before Charley and Brown, who generally performed the office of herdsman in turns, recovered the ramblers. The consequences were that we could proceed only very slowly, and that, for several months, we had to keep a careful watch upon them throughout the night. The horses, with some few exceptions, caused us less trouble at the commencement of our journey than afterwards, when our hobbles were worn out and lost, and, with the exception of one or two which in turns were tethered in the neighbourhood of the camp in order to prevent the others from straying, they were necessarily allowed to feed at large. It may readily be imagined that my anxiety to secure our horses was very great, because the loss of them would have put an immediate stop to my undertaking.—But I hasten to enter on the narrative of our journey.
LEAVE THE LAST STATION—FOSSIL REMAINS—DARLING DOWNS—ENTER THE WILDERNESS—WATERLOO PLAINS—THE CONDAMINE—HEAVY RAINS—CHARLEY'S MISCONDUCT—MURPHY AND CALEB LOST—KENT'S LAGOON—COAL—MURPHY AND CALEB FOUND AGAIN.
It was at the end of September, 1844, when we completed the necessary preparations for our journey, and left the station of Messrs. Campbell and Stephens, moving slowly towards the farthest point on which the white man has established himself. We passed the stations of Messrs. Hughs and Isaacs and of Mr. Coxen, and arrived on the 30th September, at Jimba, [It is almost always written Fimba, in the Journal; but I have corrected it to Jimba.—(ED.)] where we were to bid farewell to civilization.
These stations are established on creeks which come down from the western slopes of the Coast Range—here extending in a north and south direction—and meander through plains of more or less extent to join the Condamine River; which—also rising in the Coast Range, where the latter expands into the table-land of New England—sweeps round to the northward, and, flowing parallel to the Coast Range, receives the whole drainage from the country to the westward of the range. The Condamine forms, for a great distance, the separation of the sandstone country to the westward, from the rich basaltic plains to the eastward. These plains, so famous for the richness of their pasture, and for the excellency of the sheep and cattle depastured upon them, have become equally remarkable as the depositaries of the remains of extinct species of animals, several of which must have been of a gigantic size, being the Marsupial representatives of the Pachydermal order of other continents.
Mr. Isaacs' station is particularly rich in these fossil remains; and they have been likewise found in the beds and banks of Mr. Hodgson's and of Mr. Campbell's Creeks, and also of Oaky Creek. At Isaacs' Creek, they occur together with recent freshwater shells of species still living in the neighbouring ponds, and with marly and calcareous concretions; which induces me to suppose that these plains were covered with large sheets of water, fed probably by calcareous springs connected with the basaltic range, and that huge animals, fond of water, were living, either on the rich herbage surrounding these ponds or lakes, or browsing upon the leaves and branches of trees forming thick brushes on the slopes of the neighbouring hills. The rise of the country, which is very generally supposed to have taken place, was probably the cause of the disappearance of the water, and of the animals becoming extinct, when its necessary supply ceased to exist. Similar remains have been found in Wellington Valley, and in the Port Phillip District, where, probably, similar changes have taken place.
The elevation of Darling Downs—about 1800 to 2000 feet, according to the barometrical observations of Mr. Cunningham—renders the climate much cooler than its latitude would lead one to suppose; indeed, ice has frequently been found, during the calm clear nights of winter. During September and October, we observed at sunrise an almost perfect calm. About nine o'clock, light westerly winds set in, which increased towards noon, died away towards evening, and after sunset, were succeeded by light easterly breezes; thunder-storms rose from south and south-west, and passed over with a violent gust of wind and heavy showers of rain; frequently, in half an hour's time, the sky was entirely clear again; sometimes, however, the night and following day were cloudy.
The plains, as we passed, were covered with the most luxuriant grass and herbage. Plants of the leguminosae and compositae, were by far the most prevalent; the colour of the former, generally a showy red, that of the latter, a bright yellow. Belts of open forest land, principally composed of the Box-tree of the Colonists (a species of Eucalyptus), separate the different plains; and patches of scrub, consisting of several species of Acacias, and of a variety of small trees, appear to be the outposts of the extensive scrubs of the interior. There are particularly three species of Acacias, which bestow a peculiar character on these scrubs: the one is the Myal (A. pendula)—first seen by Oxley on Liverpool Plains, and afterwards at the Barwan, and which exists in all the western plains between the Barwan and Darling Downs—whose drooping foliage and rich yellow blossoms render it extremely elegant and ornamental. The second, the Acacia of Coxen, resembles the Myal (without its drooping character), its narrow lanceolate phyllodia rather stiff, its yellowish branches erect. The third, is the Bricklow Acacia, which seems to be identical with the Rose-wood Acacia of Moreton Bay; the latter, however, is a fine tree, 50 to 60 feet high, whereas the former is either a small tree or a shrub. I could not satisfactorily ascertain the origin of the word Bricklow [Brigaloe, GOULD.], but, as it is well understood and generally adopted by all the squatters between the Severn River and the Boyne, I shall make use of the name. Its long, slightly falcate leaves, being of a silvery green colour, give a peculiar character to the forest, where the tree abounds.
Oct. 1.—After having repaired some harness, which had been broken by our refractory bullocks upsetting their loads, and after my companions had completed their arrangements, in which Mr. Bell kindly assisted, we left Jimba, and launched, buoyant with hope, into the wilderness of Australia.
Many a man's heart would have thrilled like our own, had he seen us winding our way round the first rise beyond the station, with a full chorus of "God Save the Queen," which has inspired many a British soldier,—aye, and many a Prussian too—with courage in the time of danger. Scarcely a mile from Jimba we crossed Jimba Creek, and travelled over Waterloo Plains, in a N. W. direction, about eight miles, where we made our first camp at a chain of ponds. Isolated cones and ridges were seen to the N. E., and Craig Range to the eastward: the plains were without trees, richly grassed, of a black soil with frequent concretions of a marly and calcareous nature. Charley gave a proof of his wonderful power of sight, by finding every strap of a pack-saddle, that had been broken, in the high grass of Waterloo Plains.
Oct. 2.—Bullocks astray, but found at last by Charley; and a start attempted at 1 o'clock; the greater part of the bullocks with sore backs: the native tobacco in blossom. One of the bullocks broke his pack-saddle, and compelled us to halt.
Oct. 3.—Rise at five o'clock, and start at half-past nine; small plains alternate with a flat forest country, slightly timbered; melon-holes; marly concretions, a stiff clayey soil, beautifully grassed: the prevailing timber trees are Bastard box, the Moreton Bay ash, and the Flooded Gum. After travelling seven miles, in a north-west direction, we came on a dense Myal scrub, skirted by a chain of shallow water-holes. The scrub trending towards, and disappearing in, the S. W.: the Loranthus and the Myal in immense bushes; Casuarina frequent. In the forest, Ranunculus inundatus; Eryngium with terete simple leaves, of which the horses are fond; Prasophyllum elatum, sweetly scented. A new composite with white blossoms, the rays narrow and numerous. Sky clear; cumuli to the S. W.; wind from the westward. Ridges visible to the N.N.E. and N.E. At the outskirts of the scrub, the short-tailed sleeping lizard with knobby scales was frequent: one of them contained six eggs. We camped outside of the scrub, surrounded by small tufts of the Bricklow Acacia. Droves of kangaroos entered the scrub; their foot-paths crossed the forest in every direction.
The thermometer, before and at sunrise, 32 degrees; so cold that I could not work with my knife, away from the fire. At sunset, a thick gathering of clouds to the westward.
Oct. 4.—Cloudy sky; thermometer 50 degrees at sunrise; little dew; 64 degrees at eight o'clock.
We travelled about eleven miles in a S. W. and S. S. W. direction, skirting the scrub. During the journey, two thunder-storms passed over; one to the southward beyond the Condamine, the other to the north and north-east over the mountains. The scrub is a dense mass of vegetation, with a well defined outline—a dark body of foliage, without grass, with many broken branches and trees; no traces of water, or of a rush of waters. More to the southward, the outline of the scrub becomes less defined, and small patches are seen here and there in the forest. The forest is open and well timbered; but the trees are rather small. A chain of lagoons from E. by N.—W. by S.; large flooded gum-trees (but no casuarinas) at the low banks of the lagoons. The presence of many fresh-water muscles (Unio) shows that the water is constant, at least in ordinary seasons.
The scrub opens more and more; a beautiful country with Bricklow groves, and a white Vitex in full blossom. The flats most richly adorned by flowers of a great variety of colours: the yellow Senecios, scarlet Vetches, the large Xeranthemums, several species of Gnaphalium, white Anthemis-like compositae: the soil is a stiff clay with concretions: melon-holes with rushes; the lagoons with reeds.
At night, a thunder-storm from south-west. Our dogs caught a female kangaroo with a young one in its pouch, and a kangaroo rat.
Oct. 5.—We followed the chain of lagoons for about seven miles, in a west by south direction; the country to our right was most beautiful, presenting detached Bricklow groves, with the Myal, and with the Vitex in full bloom, surrounded by lawns of the richest grass and herbage; the partridge pigeon (Geophaps scripta) abounded in the Acacia groves; the note of the Wonga Wonga (Leucosarcia picata, GOULD.) was heard; and ducks and two pelicans were seen on the lagoons. Blackfellows had been here a short time ago: large unio shells were abundant; the bones of the codfish, and the shield of the fresh-water turtle, showed that they did not want food. A small orange tree, about 5-8 minutes high, grows either socially or scattered in the open scrub, and a leafless shrub, belonging to the Santalaceae, grows in oblong detached low thickets. Chenopodiaceous plants are always frequent where the Myal grows. The latitude of our camp was 26 degrees 56 minutes 11 seconds.
Oct. 6.—Was fully occupied with mending our packsaddles and straps, broken by the bullocks in throwing off their loads.
Oct. 7.—In following the chain of lagoons to the westward, we came, after a few miles travelling, to the Condamine, which flows to the north-west: it has a broad, very irregular bed, and was, at the time, well provided with water—a sluggish stream, of a yellowish muddy colour, occasionally accompanied by reeds. We passed several gullies and a creek from the northward, slightly running.
The forest on the right side of the river was tolerably open, though patches of Myal scrub several times exposed us to great inconvenience; the left bank of the Condamine, as much as we could see of it, was a fine well grassed open forest. Conglomerate and sandstone cropped out in several sections. Mosquitoes and sandflies were very trouble-some. I found a species of snail nearly resembling Succinea, in the fissures of the bark of the Myal, on the Box, and in the moist grass. The muscle-shells are of immense size. The well-known tracks of Blackfellows are everywhere visible; such as trees recently stripped of their bark, the swellings of the apple-tree cut off to make vessels for carrying water, honey cut out, and fresh steps cut in the trees to climb for opossums. Our latitude was 26 degrees 49 minutes. The thermometer was 41 1/2 at sunrise; but in the shade, between 12 and 2 o'clock, it stood at 80 degrees, and the heat was very great, though a gentle breeze and passing clouds mitigated the power of the scorching sun.
Oct. 8.—During the night, we had a tremendous thunder-storm, with much thunder and lightning from the west. The river was very winding, so that we did not advance more than 7 or 8 miles W.N.W.; the Bricklow scrub compelled us frequently to travel upon the flood-bed of the river. Fine grassy forest-land intervened between the Bricklow and Myal scrubs; the latter is always more open than the former, and the soil is of a rich black concretionary character. The soil of the Bricklow scrub is a stiff clay, washed out by the rains into shallow holes, well known by the squatters under the name of melon-holes; the composing rock of the low ridges was a clayey sandstone (Psammite). Sky cloudy; wind north-east; thermometer 80 degrees at 2 o'clock; the sunshine plant (Mimosa terminalis) was frequent on the black soil; a Swainsonia; an Anthericum, with allium leaf and fine large yellow blossoms; and another species with small blossoms, (Stypandra).
Oct. 9.—Commenced with cloudy weather, threatening rain. It cleared up, however, about 10 o'clock, and we had a very warm day. We followed the course of the river for some time, which is fringed with Myal scrubs, separated by hills with fine open forest. Finding that the river trended so considerably to the northward [It seems that NORTHWARD here is merely miswritten for WESTWARD.—(ED.)], we left it at a westerly bend, hoping to make it again in a north-west direction. Thus, we continued travelling through a beautiful undulating country, until arrested by a Bricklow scrub, which turned us to the south-west; after having skirted it, we were enabled to resume our course to W.N.W., until the decline of day made me look for water to the south-west. The scrubs were awful, and threatened to surround us; but we succeeded in finding a fine large lagoon, probably filled by the drainage of the almost level country to the north-east. No water-course, not the slightest channel produced by heavy rains, was visible to indicate the flow of waters. Occasionally we met with swampy ground, covered with reeds, and with some standing water of the last rains; the ground was so rotten, that the horses and bullocks sunk into it over the fetlocks. The principal timber trees here, are the bastard box, the flooded-gum, and the Moreton Bay ash; in the Myal scrub, Coxen's Acacia attains a very considerable size; we saw also some Ironbark trees.
The tracks and dung of cattle were observed; and this was the farthest point to the westward where we met with them. Kangaroos seemed to be very rare; but kangaroo rats were numerous. Black-fellows were very near to us last night; they very probably withdrew upon seeing us make our appearance.
Oct. 10.—Cloudy; wind northerly; thermometer at 2h. 30m. P. M. 88 degrees. At about 1 1/2 or 2 miles distance, in a north-west direction from our last camp, we came to a fine running creek from the north-east, which we easily crossed; and, at about one mile farther, reached a creek—which, at this time of the year, is a chain of lagoons—lined on both sides by Bricklow scrub, which occupied a portion of its limited flats in little points and detached groves. This vale was one of the most picturesque spots we had yet seen. An Ironbark tree, with greyish fissured bark and pale-green foliage, grows here, and Sterculia heterophylla is pretty frequent amongst the box and flooded-gum, on the rising ground between the two creeks. Farther on, the country opened, the scrub receded; Ironbark ridges here and there, with spotted gum, with dog-wood (Jacksonia) on a sandy soil, covered with flint pebbles, diversified the sameness. The grass was beautiful, but the tufts distant; the Ironbark forest was sometimes interspersed with clusters of Acacias; sometimes the Ironbark trees were small and formed thickets. Towards the end of the stage, the country became again entirely flat, without any indication of drainage, and we were in manifest danger of being without water. At last, a solitary lagoon was discovered, about 30 yards in diameter, of little depth, but with one large flooded gum-tree, marked, by a piece of bark stripped off, as the former resting-place of a native; the forest oak is abundant. Here I first met with Hakea lorea, R. Br., with long terete drooping leaves, every leaf one and a-half to two feet long—a small tree 18—24 minutes high—and with Grevillea mimosoides, R. Br., also a small tree, with very long riband-like leaves of a silvery grey. We did not see any kangaroos, but got a kangaroo rat and a bandicoot.
Oct. 11.—Travelling north-west we came to a Cypress-pine thicket, which formed the outside of a Bricklow scrub. This scrub was, at first, unusually open, and I thought that it would be of little extent; I was, however, very much mistaken: the Bricklow Acacia, Casuarinas and a stunted tea-tree, formed so impervious a thicket, that the bullocks, in forcing their way through it, tore the flour-bags, upset their loads, broke their straps, and severely tried the patience of my companions, who were almost continually occupied with reloading one or other of the restless brutes. Having travelled five miles into it, and finding no prospect of its termination, I resolved upon returning to our last camp, which, however, I was not enabled to effect, without experiencing great difficulty, delay, and loss; and it was not until the expiration of two days, that we retraced our steps, and reached the lagoon which we had left on the 11th. We had lost about 143 pounds of flour; Mr. Gilbert lost his tent, and injured the stock of his gun. The same night, rain set in, which lasted the whole of the next day: it came in heavy showers, with thunder-storms, from the north and north-west, and rendered the ground extremely boggy, and made us apprehensive of being inundated, for the lagoon was rapidly rising: our tent was a perfect puddle, and the horses and cattle were scarcely able to walk.
Within the scrub there was a slight elevation, in which sandstone cropped out: it was covered with cypress-pine, and an Acacia, different from the Bricklow. The Bottle-tree (Sterculia, remarkable for an enlargement of the stem, about three feet above the ground,) was observed within the scrub: the white Vitex (?) and Geigera, SCHOTT., a small tree, with aromatic linear-lanceolate leaves, grew at its outside, and in small groves scattered through the open forest. Fusanus, a small tree with pinnate leaves, and Buttneria, a small shrub, were also found in these groves.
Many pigeons were seen; the black cockatoo of Leach (Calyptorhynchus Leachii) was shot; we passed several nests of the brush-turkey (Talegalla Lathami, GOULD). Charley got a probably new species of bandicoot, with longer ears than the common one, and with white paws. We distinguished, during the rain, three different frogs, which made a very inharmonious concert. The succinea-like shells were very abundant in the moist grass; and a limnaea in the lagoon seemed to me to be a species different from those I had observed in the Moreton Bay district, The thermometer at sunset 62 degrees (in the water 68 degrees); at sunrise 52 degrees (in the water 62 degrees).
On the 15th October, the wind changed during the afternoon to the westward, and cleared the sky, and dried the ground very rapidly.
Oct. 17.—The ground was too heavy and boggy to permit us to start yesterday; besides, three horses were absent, and could not be found. Last night, Mr. Roper brought in three ducks and a pigeon, and was joyfully welcomed by all hands. Charley had been insolent several times, when I sent him out after the cattle, and, this morning, he even threatened to shoot Mr. Gilbert. I immediately dismissed him from our service, and took from him all the things which he held on condition of stopping with us. The wind continued from the west and south-west.
Oct. 18.—Towards evening Charley came and begged my pardon. I told him that he had particularly offended Mr. Gilbert, and that I could not think of allowing him to stay, if Mr. Gilbert had the slightest objection to it: he, therefore, addressed himself to Mr. Gilbert, and, with his consent, Charley entered again into our service. John Murphy and Caleb, the American negro, went to a creek, which Mr. Hodgson had first seen, when out on a RECONNOISSANCE to the northward, in order to get some game. John had been there twice before, and it was not four miles distant: they, however, did not return, and, at nine o'clock at night, we heard firing to the north-east. We answered by a similar signal, but they did not come in. I sent Mr. Hodgson and Charley to bring them back. If they had simply given the bridle to their horses, they would have brought them back without delay; but probably both got bewildered.
The latitude of this lagoon, which I called Kent's Lagoon, after F. Kent, Esq., is 26 degrees 42 minutes 30 seconds. We tried to obtain opossums, during the clear moonlight night, but only caught the common rabbit-rat.
Our horses go right into the scrub, to get rid of the little flies, which torment them. The weather is very fair; the regular westerly breeze, during the day, is setting in again: the dew is very abundant during clear nights: the morning very cold; the water of the lagoon 8 degrees to 10 degrees warmer than the air.
We have regularly balanced our loads, and made up every bag of flour to the weight of 120 pounds: of these we have eight, which are to be carried by four bullocks. The chocolate and the gelatine are very acceptable at present, as so little animal food can be obtained. The country continues to be extremely boggy, though the weather has been fine, with high winds, for the last four days. Tracks of Blackfellows have been seen; but they appear rare and scattered in this part of the country. Though we meet with no game, tracks of kangaroos are very numerous, and they frequently indicate animals of great size. Emus have been seen twice.
Thermometer at sunset 65 degrees 7 minutes (75 degrees in the water); at a quarter past one, 90 degrees. South-westerly winds.
Oct. 19.—During the night, north-easterly breeze; at the break of day, a perfect calm; after sunset easterly winds again. Thermometer at sunrise 51 degrees (60 degrees in the water); a cloudless sky. Mr. Hodgson and Charley, whom I had sent to seek John and Caleb, returned to the camp with a kangaroo. I sent them immediately off again, with Mr. Roper, to find the two unfortunate people, whose absence gave me the greatest anxiety. Mr. Roper and Mr. Gilbert had brought one pigeon and one duck, as a day's sport; which, with the kangaroo, gave us a good and desirable supper of animal food. During the evening and the night, a short bellowing noise was heard, made probably by kangaroos, of which Mr. Gilbert stated he had seen specimens standing nine feet high. Brown brought a carpet snake, and a brown snake with yellow belly. The flies become very numerous, but the mosquitoes are very rare.
On a botanical excursion I found a new Loranthus, with flat linear leaves, on Casuarina, a new species of Scaevola, Buttneria, and three species of Solanum. Mr. Hodgson brought a shrubby Goodenia; another species with linear leaves, and with very small yellow blossoms, growing on moist places in the forest; two shrubby Compositae; three different species of Dodonaea, entering into fruit; and a Stenochilus, R. Br. with red blossoms, the most common little shrub of the forest.
Mr. Gilbert brought me a piece of coal from the crossing place of the creek of the 10th October. It belongs probably to the same layer which is found at Flagstone Creek, on Mr. Leslie's station, on Darling Downs. We find coal at the eastern side of the Coast Range, from Illawarra up to Wide Bay, with sandstone; and it seems that it likewise extends to the westward of the Coast Range, being found, to my knowledge, at Liverpool Plains, at Darling Downs, and at Charley's Creek, of the 10th Oct. It is here, as well as at the east side, connected with sandstone. Flint pebbles, of a red colour, were very abundant at Charley's Creek, and in the scrub, which I called the Flourspill, as it had made such a heavy inroad into our flour-bags. The flat on which we encamp, is composed of a mild clay, which rapidly absorbs the rain and changes into mud; a layer of stiff clay is about one foot below the surface. The grasses are at present in full ear, and often four feet high; but the tufts are distant, very different from the dense sward at the other side of the Range. As we left the Myal country of the Condamine, we left also its herbage, abounding in composite, leguminous, and chenopodiaceous plants, with a great variety of grasses.
Oct. 20.—This morning, at half-past nine o'clock, Messrs. Roper, Hodgson, and Charley, returned with John Murphy and Caleb. They had strayed about twelve miles from the camp, and had fairly lost themselves. Their trackers had to ride over seventy miles, before they came up to them, and they would certainly have perished, had not Charley been able to track them: it was indeed a providential circumstance that he had not left us. According to their statement, the country is very open, with a fine large creek, which flows down to the Condamine; this is the creek which we passed on the 10th Oct., and which I called "Charley's Creek." The creek first seen by Mr. Hodgson joins this, and we are consequently still on westerly waters.
Thermometer, at sunrise, 54 degrees (in the water 64 degrees); at eight o'clock 64 degrees. Strong easterly and northerly winds during the last two nights. It becomes calm at a quarter past three, with the rise of Venus.
Mr. Calvert brought an edible mushroom out of Flourspill Scrub.
The Loranthus of the Myal grows also on other Acacias with glaucous leaves. A bright yellow everlasting is very fine and frequent.
Oct. 22.—I left Kent's lagoon yesterday. In order to skirt the scrub, I had to keep to the north-east, which direction brought me, after about three miles travelling through open forest, to Mr. Hodgson's creek, at which John Murphy and Caleb had been lost. The creek here consists of a close chain of fine rocky water-holes; the rock is principally clay, resembling very much a decomposed igneous rock, but full of nodules and veins of iron-stone. I now turned to the northward, and encamped at the upper part of the creek. To-day I took my old course to the north-west, and passed a scrubby Ironbark forest, and flat openly-timbered forest land. I came again, however, to a Bricklow scrub, which I skirted, and after having crossed a very dense scrubby Ironbark forest, came to a chain of rushy water-holes, with the fall of the waters to the north-east. The whole drainage of a north-easterly basin, seems to have its outlet, through Charley's Creek, into the Condamine.
On the banks of Hodgson's Creek, grows a species of Dampiera, with many blue flowers, which deserves the name of "D. floribunda;" here also were Leptospermum; Persoonia with lanceolate pubescent leaf; Jacksonia (Dogwood); the cypress-pine with a light amber-coloured resin (Charley brought me fine claret-coloured resin, and I should not be surprised to find that it belongs to a different species of Callitris); an Acacia with glaucous lanceolate one-inch-long phyllodia; and a Daviesia; another Acacia with glaucous bipinnate leaves; a white Scaevola, Anthericum, and a little Sida, with very showy blossoms. Spotted-gum and Ironbark formed the forest; farther on, flooded-gum.
Pigeons, mutton-birds (Struthidia), are frequent, and provided us with several messes; iguanas are considered great delicacies; several black kangaroos were scen to day.
The weather very fine, but hot; the wind westerly; thermometer at sunset 74 degrees (84 degrees in the water.)
Oct. 23.—At the commencement of last night, westerly winds, the sky clear; at the setting of the moon (about 3 o'clock a.m.), the wind changed to the north-east; scuddy clouds passing rapidly from that quarter; at sunrise it clears a little, but the whole morning cloudy, and fine travelling weather.
We travelled in a north-westerly direction, through a Casuarina thicket, but soon entered again into fine open Ironbark forest, with occasionally closer underwood; leaving a Bricklow scrub to our right, we came to a dry creek with a deep channel; which I called "Acacia Creek," from the abundance of several species of Acacia. Not a mile farther we came on a second creek, with running water, which, from the number of Dogwood shrubs (Jacksonia), in the full glory of their golden blossoms. I called "Dogwood Creek." The creek came from north and north-east and flowed to the south-west, to join the Condamine. The rock of Dogwood Creek is a fine grained porous Psammite (clayey sandstone), with veins and nodules of iron, like that of Hodgson's creek. A new gum-tree, with a rusty-coloured scaly bark, the texture of which, as well as the seed-vessel and the leaf, resembled bloodwood, but specifically different; the apple-tree (Angophora lanceolata); the flooded-gum; a Hakea with red blossoms; Zierea; Dodonaea; a crassulaceous plant with handsome pink flowers; a new myrtaceous tree of irregular stunted growth, about 30 feet high, with linear leaves, similar to those of the rosemary; a stiff grass, peculiar to sandstone regions; and a fine Brunonia, with its chaste blue blossoms, adorn the flats of the creek as well as the forest land. The country is at present well provided with water and grass, though the scattered tufts of Anthistiria, and the first appearance of the small grass-tree (Xanthorrhaea), render its constancy very doubtful. The winding narrow-leaved Kennedyas, Gnaphaliums in abundance; Aotus in low bushes.
No game, except a kangaroo rat, pigeons, ducks, and mutton-birds. Mr. Phillips brought a crawfish from the creek: it had just thrown off its old shell. Fresh-water muscles plentiful, though not of the size of those of the Condamine. A small rat was caught this morning amongst our flour bags; it had no white tip at the tail, nor is the tail so bushy as that of the rabbit-rat: probably it was a young animal.
Oct. 24.—The creek being boggy, we had to follow it down for several miles to find a crossing place. Even here, one of the horses which carried the tea, fell back into the water, whilst endeavouring to scramble up the opposite bank, and drenched its valuable load. We now travelled through a country full of lagoons, and chains of water-holes, and passed through several patches of cypress-pine, until we came to another creek with rocky water-holes, with the fall to the eastward, probably joining Dogwood Creek, from which we were not four miles distant. Fine grassy flats accompanied the creek on its left, whilst a cypress-pine forest grew on its right bank. The latitude of our yesterday's camp was 26 degrees 26 minutes 30 seconds and, to-day, we are only four miles more to the westward. The country is still so flat and so completely wooded—sometimes with scrubs, thickets, Acacia, and Vitex groves, sometimes with open Ironbark forest intermingled with spotted gum—that no view of distant objects can be obtained. Several Epacridaceous shrubs and species of Bossiaea and Daviesia reminded me of the flora of the more southern districts.
Oct. 25.—We travelled about twelve miles in a north-westerly direction, our latitude being 26 degrees 15 minutes 46 seconds. The country in general scrubby, with occasional reaches of open forest land. The rosemary-leaved tree of the 23rd was very abundant. An Acacia with spiny phyllodia, the lower half attached to the stem, the upper bent off in the form of an open hook, had been observed by me on the sandstone ridges of Liverpool Plains: and the tout ensemble reminded me forcibly of that locality. The cypress-pine, several species of Melaleuca, and a fine Ironbark, with broad lanceolate, but not cordate, glaucous leaves, and very dark bark, formed the forest. An arborescent Acacia, in dense thickets, intercepted our course several times. Bronze-winged pigeons were very numerous, but exceedingly shy.
The stillness of the moonlight night is not interrupted by the screeching of opossums and flying squirrels, nor by the monotonous note of the barking-bird and little owlet; no native dog is howling round our camp in the chilly morning: the cricket alone chirps along the water-holes; and the musical note of an unknown bird, sounding like "gluck gluck" frequently repeated, and ending in a shake, and the melancholy wail of the curlew, are heard from the neighbouring scrub.
Oct. 26.—Our journey was resumed: wind in the morning from the west; light clouds passing rapidly from that quarter.
Messrs. Hodgson and Roper, following the chain of ponds on which we had encamped, came to a large creek, with high rocky banks and a broad stream flowing to the south-west. We passed an Acacia scrub, and stretches of fine open Ironbark forest, interspersed with thickets of an aborescent species of Acacia, for about four miles in a north-west course, when we found ourselves on the margin of a considerable valley full of Bricklow scrub; we were on flat-topped ridges, about 80 to 100 feet above the level of the valley. After several attempts to cross, we had to turn to the N. N. E. and east, in order to head it, travelling through a most beautiful open Ironbark forest, with the grass in full seed, from three to four feet high. Following a hollow, in which the fall of the country was indicated by the grass bent by the run of water after heavy showers of rain, we came to fine water-holes, about five miles from our last camp.
At the other side of the valley, we saw distant ranges to the north-west and northward. The scrub was occasionally more open, and fine large bottle-trees (Sterculia) were frequent: the young wood of which, containing a great quantity of starch between its woody fibres, was frequently chewed by our party. Fusanus was abundant and in full bearing; its fruit (of the size of a small apple), when entirely ripe and dropped from the tree, furnished a very agreeable repast: the rind, however, which surrounds its large rough kernel, is very thin.
Oct. 27.—During last night a very strong, cold, westerly wind.
After travelling about 3 1/2 miles north, we were stopped by a Bricklow scrub, which compelled us to go to the east and south-east. I encamped, about three miles north-east by north from my last resting place, and examined the scrub: it was out of the question to cross it. Mr. Gilbert shot three black cockatoos and a bronze-winged pigeon.
Oct. 28.—During the night it was very cold, though no wind was stirring. In the morning we experienced an easterly breeze. Travelling to the eastward and east by south, I found that the water-holes outside of the scrub at which we were encamped, changed into a creek with rocky bed, having its banks partly covered with cypress-pine thickets. I crossed it about three miles lower down, and, finding the Ironbark forest sufficiently open, turned to the northward; scarcely three miles farther, we came to another creek of a character similar to that of the last, which I suppose to be one of the heads of Dogwood Creek. The blue Brunonia was again frequent; the grass five feet high, in full ear, and waving like a rye field. The soil, however, is sandy and rotten, and the grass in isolated tufts. We encamped about four miles north-east from our last camp.
PARTY REDUCED BY THE RETURN OF MR. HODGSON AND CALEB—MEET FRIENDLY NATIVES—NATIVE TOMB—THE DAWSON—VERVAIN PLAINS—GILBERT'S RANGE—LYND'S RANGE—ROBINSON'S CREEK—MURPHY'S LAKE—MOUNTAINOUS COUNTRY—EXPEDITION RANGE—MOUNT NICHOLSON—ALDIS'S PEAK—THE BOYD.
Nov. 3.—For the past week, the heat was very oppressive during the day, whilst, at night, it was often exceedingly cold; for two or three hours before dawn, and for an hour after sunset, it was generally delightful, particularly within the influence of a cheerful cypress-pine fire, which perfumes the air with the sweet scent of the burning resin.
It had now become painfully evident to me that I had been too sanguine in my calculations, as to our finding a sufficiency of game to furnish my party with animal food, and that the want of it was impairing our strength. We had also been compelled to use our flour to a greater extent than I wished; and I saw clearly that my party, which I had reluctantly increased on my arrival at Moreton Bay, was too large for our provisions. I, therefore, communicated to my companions the absolute necessity of reducing our number: all, however, appeared equally desirous to continue the journey; and it was, therefore, but just that those who had joined last, should leave. Mr. Gilbert, however, who would, under this arrangement, have had to retire, found a substitute in Mr. Hodgson, who had perhaps suffered most by additional fatigues; so that he and Caleb, the American negro, prepared for their return to Moreton Bay. Previous, however, to their departure, they assisted in killing one of our steers, the meat of which we cut into thin slices, and dried in the sun. This, our first experiment—on the favourable result of which the success of our expedition entirely depended—kept us, during the process, in a state of great excitement. It succeeded, however, to our great joy, and inspired us with confidence for the future. The little steer gave us 65lbs. of dried meat, and about 15lbs. of fat. The operation concluded, we took leave of our companions; and although our material was reduced by the two horses on which they returned, Mr. Hodgson left us the greater part of his own equipment. The loss of the two horses caused us some little inconvenience, as it increased the loads of the animals. The daily ration of the party was now fixed at six pounds of flour per day, with three pounds of dried beef, which we found perfectly sufficient to keep up our strength.
Whenever it was necessary to delay for any time at one place, our cattle and horses gave us great trouble: they would continually stray back in the direction we came from, and we had frequently to fetch them back five, seven, and even ten miles. Mr. Hodgson's horses had returned even to the camp of the 21st October, and three days were required to find them and bring them back. These matters caused us considerable delay; but they were irremediable. On the 30th October, towards evening, we were hailed by natives, from the scrub; but, with the exception of one, they kept out of sight. This man knew a few English words, and spoke the language of Darling Downs; he seemed to be familiar with the country round Jimba; and asked permission to come to the camp: this, however, I did not permit; and they entered the scrub, when they saw us handle our guns, and bring forward two horses to the camp. On the 3rd of November they visited us again, and communicated with us, behaving in a very friendly way: they pointed out honey in one of the neighbouring trees, assisted in cutting it out and eating it, and asked for tobacco; it was, however, impossible to make any presents, as we had nothing to spare. They particularly admired the red blankets, were terror-struck at the sight of a large sword, which they tremblingly begged might be returned into the sheath, and wondered at the ticking of a watch, and at the movement of its wheels. The greater part were young men of mild disposition, and pleasing countenance; the children remained in the distance, and I only saw two women.
According to their statements, the scrub extends to the Condamine.
The scrub was crossed in every direction by tracks of wallabies, of which, however, we could not even get a sight. The glucking bird—by which name, in consequence of its note, the bird may be distinguished—was heard through the night. They live probably upon the seeds of the cypress-pine; the female answers the loud call of the male, but in a more subdued voice.
A Gristes, about seven inches long, resembling the one described in Sir Thomas Mitchell's journey, but specifically different from it, was caught in the water-holes of the creek, which I called "Dried-beef Creek," in memorial of our late occupation.
A Goodenoviaceous shrub, a pink Hibiscus, and a fine prostrate Sida, were found between the camp of the 27th October and Dried-beef Creek.
Nov. 4.—Having previously examined and found a passage through the scrub, we travelled through it for about eight miles on a north by west course. The head of Dried-beef Creek, was found to be formed by separate water-holes, in a slight hollow along the scrub; and, when these disappeared, we were moving over a perfectly level land, without any sign of drainage, but occasionally passing isolated holes, now for the greater part dry. On our left, our course was bounded by a dense Bricklow scrub; but, on our right, for the first four miles, the country was comparatively open, with scattered Acacias; it then became densely timbered, but free from scrub. Farther on, however, scrub appeared even to our right. A natural opening, which had recently been enlarged by a bush fire, enabled us to pass into a dense Ironbark and cypress-pine forest; and then, bearing a little to the right, we came on a slight watercourse to the northward, which rapidly enlarged as it descended between ranges, which seemed to be the spurs of the table land we had just left.
Nov. 5.—We observed the tomb of a native near our camp. It was a simple conical heap of sand, which had been raised over the body, which was probably bent into the squatting position of the natives; but, as our object was to pass quietly, without giving offence to the aborigines, we did not disturb it. It is, however, remarkable that, throughout our whole journey, we never met with graves or tombs, or even any remains of Blackfellows again; with the exception of a skull, which I shall notice at a later period. Several isolated conical hills were in the vicinity of our camp; sandstone cropped out in the creek, furnishing us with good whetstones.
After travelling about four miles in a north-west direction, through a fine open undulating country, we came to, and followed the course of, a considerable creek flowing to the westward, bounded by extensive flooded gum-flats and ridges, clothed with a forest of silver-leaved Ironbark. Large reedy lagoons, well supplied with fish, were in its bed. Our latitude was 26 degrees 4 minutes 9 seconds.
Nov. 6.—The arrangement for loading our cattle enabled me at last to mount every one of my companions, which was very desirable; for the summer having fairly set in, and no thunder-storms having cooled the atmosphere since we left the Condamine, the fatigue of walking during the middle of the day had become very severe. From Jimba we started with a few horses without load, which only enabled us to ride alternately; but, as our provisions gradually decreased in quantity, one after the other mounted his horse; and this day I had the pleasure of seeing everybody on horseback.
We travelled along the valley of the river about ten miles, in a west-northerly course; our latitude of this day being 26 degrees 3 minutes 44 seconds Fine box and apple-tree flats were on both sides of the creek, now deserving the appellation of a "River," and which I called the "Dawson," in acknowledgment of the kind support I received from R. Dawson, Esq., of Black Creek, Hunter's River. At the foot of the ridges some fine lagoons were observed, as also several plains, with the soil and the vegetation of the Downs, but bounded on the northward by impenetrable Bricklow scrub. In a watercourse, meandering through this scrub, sandstone cropped out, in which impressions of fossil plants were noticed by me. It was interesting to observe how strictly the scrub kept to the sandstone and to the stiff loam lying upon it, whilst the mild black whinstone soil was without trees, but covered with luxuriant grasses and herbs; and this fact struck me as remarkable, because, during my travels in the Bunya country of Moreton Bay, I found it to be exactly the reverse: the sandstone spurs of the range being there covered with an open well grassed forest, whilst a dense vine brush extended over the basaltic rock. The phenomenon is probably to be explained by the capability of the different soils of retaining moisture, and, at the same time, by taking into account the distance of the localities from the seacoast. I called these plains "Calvert's Plains," after my companion, Mr. Calvert. Farther to the westward we passed over open ridges, covered with Bastard-box and silver-leaved Ironbark: the former tree grows generally in rich black soil, which appeared several times in the form of ploughed land, well known, in other parts of the colony, either under that name, or under that of "Devil-devil land," as the natives believe it to be the work of an evil spirit.
Nov. 7.—The first two hours of the day were cloudy, but it cleared up and became very hot; the atmosphere was hazy and sultry; cumuli with undefined outlines all round the horizon: wind from south-west and south. I travelled west by north about eight miles, along the foot of Bastard-box and silver-leaved Ironbark ridges. The country was exceedingly fine; the ground was firm; the valley from two to three miles broad, clothed with rich grass, and sprinkled with apple-tree, flooded-gum, and Bastard-box; the hills formed gentle ascents, and were openly timbered. The water-holes seemed to be constant; they are very deep, densely surrounded by reeds, and with numerous heaps of broken muscle-shells round their banks. Scrub was, however, to be seen in the distance, and formed the dark spot in the pleasant picture. Game became more frequent; and last night every body had a duck. As we were pursuing our course, Mr. Gilbert started a large kangaroo, known by the familiar name of "old man," which took refuge in a water-hole, where it was killed, but at the expense of two of our kangaroo dogs, which were mortally wounded. As we were sitting at our dinner, a fine half-grown emu walked slowly up to us, as if curious to know what business we had in its lonely haunts; unfortunately for us, the bark of our little terrier frightened it; and, although one of my Blackfellows shot after it, it retired unscathed into the neighbouring thicket. Mr. Roper killed a Rallus, which Mr. Gilbert thought to be new. The high land from which we came, appears at present as a distant range to the south-east. Fine-grained sandstone, with impressions of leaves, was again observed, and a few pieces of silicified wood. A Thysanotus with fine large blossoms now adorns the forest. The native carrot is in seed; the Eryngium of Jimba, and a leguminous plant, prostrate with ternate leaves and bunches of yellow flowers, were frequent; several beautiful species of everlastings were occasionally seen, and the little orange-tree of the Condamine grew in the scrub.
Nov. 8.—We followed the Dawson for about eight miles lower down. About four miles from our camp, it is joined by a fine chain of ponds from the north-east. The flats on both sides are covered by open Bastard-box forest, of a more or less open character. In the rainy season, the whole valley is probably covered with water; for we frequently observed the marks of torrents rushing down from the hills; and, along the foot of the ridges, ponds and lagoons were frequent. The heat of summer had already burnt up a great part of the grasses; and it was only in the immediate neighbourhood of the river that there was any appearance of verdure. The bed of the river became drier, and changed its character considerably. Charley stated, that he had seen a large plain extending for many miles to the south-west, and a high mountain to the north. Several emus, pigeons, and ducks were seen. Mr. Calvert found concretions of marl in the creek. John Murphy caught a great number of crawfish. For the first time since leaving the Condamine, we were visited by a thunder-storm. Cumuli generally during the afternoon, with wind from the W.N.W; during the night it usually clears up.
Nov. 10.—The country along the river changed, during the last two stages, considerably for the worse. The scrub approached very near to the banks of the river, and, where it receded, a disagreeable thicket of Bastard-box saplings filled almost the whole valley: fine lagoons were along the river, frequently far above its level; the river itself divided into anabranches, which, with the shallow watercourses of occasional floods from the hills, made the whole valley a maze of channels, from which we could only with difficulty extricate ourselves. "I never saw such a rum river, in my life," said my blackfellow Charley.
The open forest was sometimes one large field of everlasting flowers with bright yellow blossoms; whilst the scrub plains were thickly covered with grasses and vervain. Almost all the grasses of Liverpool Plains grow here. Ironstone and quartz pebbles were strewed over the ground; and, in the valley, fine-grained sandstone with layers of iron-ore cropped out.
Large fish were seen in the lagoons; but we only succeeded in catching some small fish of the genus Gristes. Muscles continued to be frequent; and we saw the gunyas of the natives everywhere, although no native made his appearance.
It was here that I first met, growing on the scrubby hills, a species of Bauhinia, either shrubby or a small shady tree, with spreading branches; the pods are flat, of a blunt form, almost one inch in breadth, and from three to four inches long. The Bricklow seems to prevent the growth of almost all other vegetation, with the exception of a small shrub, with linear lanceolate aromatic leaves. An Acacia, with long drooping, almost terete leaves, grew along the river; and Crinums grew in patches amongst the everlasting flowers, on a sandy soil. Our latitude, of the 9th November, was 25 degrees 53 minutes 55 seconds; and that of the 10th, 25 degrees 47 minutes 55 seconds, at about eleven miles north-west from the camp of the 8th November.
Until the 14th of November, we travelled down the Dawson. In order to avoid the winding course of the river, and the scrub and thickets that covered its valley, which rendered our progress very slow, we had generally to keep to the ridges, which were more open. We several times met with fine plains, which I called "Vervain Plains," as that plant grew abundantly on them. They were surrounded with scrub, frequently sprinkled with Bricklow groves, interspersed with the rich green of the Bauhinia, and the strange forms of the Bottle-tree; which imparted to the scene a very picturesque character. From one of these plains we obtained, for the first time, a view of some well-defined ranges to the west-north-west. The general course of the river, between the latitudes of 25 degrees 41 minutes 55 seconds and 25 degrees 37 minutes 12 seconds, was to the northward; but, as it commenced to turn to the east, I was induced to cross it, and to follow my former direction to the northwest. Between those two latitudes, the river had commenced to run, which was not the ease higher up, notwithstanding it was formed by long reaches of water, upon which pelicans and ducks were abundant. Mr. Calvert and the black, Charley, who had been sent back to one of our last camping places, had, on returning, kept a little more to the north-east, and had seen a river flowing to the northward, and a large creek; both of which, probably, join the Dawson lower down. At that part of the river where it commences to run, its bed was more confined, and was fringed by Melaleucas and drooping Acacias.
Our provisions had been increased by an emu, which Charley shot; our remaining two kangaroo dogs also succeeded in catching an "old man" kangaroo on the Vervain Plains of the 14th November. I made it an invariable practice to dry the meat which remained after the consumption of the day's allowance, and it served considerably to save our stock of dried beef, and to lengthen the lives of our bullocks. The utmost economy was necessary;—for we were constantly exposed to losses, occasioned by the pack bullocks upsetting their loads; an annoyance which was at this time of frequent occurrence from the animals being irritated by the stings of hornets—a retaliation for the injuries done to their nests, which, being suspended to the branches of trees, were frequently torn down by the bullocks passing underneath.
A large turtle was seen; and Mr. Gilbert caught two fine eels in one of the lagoons. We had thunder-storms on the 12th and 13th of November: the morning is generally cloudy, the clouds come from the north-east and north, clearing away in the middle of the day; and the afternoon is exceedingly hot.
Nov. 14.—A dense scrub, which had driven us back to the river, obliged me to reconnoitre to the north-west, in which I was very successful; for, after having crossed the scrub, I came into an open country, furnished with some fine sheets of water, and a creek with Corypha palms, growing to the height of 25 or 30 feet. The feelings of delight which I experienced when, upon emerging from the more than usually inhospitable Bricklow scrub, the dark verdure of a swamp surrounding a small lake —with native companions (ARDEAANTIGONE) strutting round, and swarms of ducks playing on its still water, backed by an open forest, in which the noble palm tree was conspicuous—suddenly burst upon our view, were so great as to be quite indescribable. I joyfully returned to the camp, to bring forward my party; which was not, however, performed without considerable trouble. We had to follow the Dawson down to where the creek joined it; for the scrub was impassable for loaded bullocks, and, even on this detour, we had to contend with much scrub as we proceeded down the valley. It, however, became more free from scrub at every step, and opened out into flats of more or less extent on either side, skirted by hills, clothed with an open forest, rising into regular ranges. On my RECONNAISSANCE I crossed the Gilbert Ranges, which were named after my companion Mr. Gilbert, and came on waters which fall to the eastward, and join the Dawson lower down. From the summit of an open part of the range, I saw other ranges to the northward, but covered with Bricklow scrub, as was also the greater part of Gibert's Range. To the east, however, the view was more cheering; for the hills are more open, and the vegetation composed of the silver-leaved and narrow-leaved Ironbark trees and an open Vitex scrub. Several rocky gullies were passed, that were full of palm trees. The valley of Palm-tree Creek extends about nineteen miles from west to east The ranges which bound it to the south, I called "Lynd's Range," after my friend R. Lynd, Esq. Gilbert's Range bounds it to the northward: Middle Range separates the creek from the Dawson up to their junction. Several large swamps are within the valley; one of which, the small lake which first broke upon my view, received the name of "Roper's Lake," after one of my companions.
Nov. 17.—We went about nine miles up the valley, on a south branch of Palm-tree Creek, which derives its waters from Lynd's Range. The fine water-hole which I selected for our camp, was not only shaded by stately Coryphas and flooded gums, but the drooping Callistemon, the creek Melaleuca, and the Casuarina, gave to it the character of the rivers and creeks of the Moreton Bay district. It changed, however, into a shallow waterless channel, communicating with one of the large swamps which generally extend along the base of the hills. I rode up Lynd's Range, passing plains similar to those I have before mentioned, composed of black soil intermingled with fossil wood and decomposed sandstone, and densely covered with Burr, (a composite plant) and Verbena, and scattered tufts either of Bricklow, or of Coxen's Acacia, or of the bright green Fusanus, or of the darker verdure of Bauhinia, with here and there a solitary tree of a rich dark-green hue, from forty to fifty feet in height. From the summit I had a fine view down the valley of the Dawson, which was bounded on both sides by ranges. A high distant mountain was seen about N.N.E. from Lynd's Range, at the left side of the Dawson.
The water-holes abounded with jew-fish and eels; of the latter we obtained a good supply, and dried two of them, which kept very well. Two species of Limnaea, the one of narrow lengthened form, the other shorter and broader; a species of Paludina, and Cyclas and Unios, were frequent. The jew-fish has the same distoma in its swimming bladder, which I observed in specimens caught in the Severn River to the southward of Moreton Bay: on examining the intestines of this fish, they were full of the shells of Limnaea and Cyclas. Large specimens of helix were frequent on the Vervain Plains, but they were only dead shells. The fat-hen (Atriplex) and the sow-thistle (Sonchus) grew abundantly on the reedy flats at the upper end of the creek; Grewia, a prostrate Myoporum, and a bean with yellow blossoms, were frequent all over the valley. Atriplex forms, when young, as we gratefully experienced, an excellent vegetable, as do also the young shoots of Sonchus. The tops of the Corypha palm eat well, either baked in hot ashes or raw, and, although very indigestible, did not prove injurious to health when eaten in small quantities. In the vicinity of the swamps of Palm-tree Creek, I noticed a grass with an ear much resembling the bearded wheat: with the exception of the cultivated Cerealia, it had the largest seed I ever met with in grasses; even my Blackfellow was astonished at its remarkable size.
During the night we experienced a strong wind from the northward, and, during the afternoon, a gust of wind and rain from west and north-west; but no thunder.
Nov. 18.—Clouds gathered from the west and north-west, a few drops of rain fell, and a few low peals of thunder were heard; but, although charged with electric fluid, and, in appearance, threatening an approaching thunder-storm, no discharge of lightning took place. We were very much annoyed and harassed, during the evening and the early part of the night, by sand-flies and mosquitoes; but the clear night grew so cold, that these great enemies of bush comforts were soon benumbed. The latitude of the camp of the 18th November was 25 degrees 30 minutes 11 seconds.
Nov. 19.—No air stirring, night very cold and bright; dew heavy; the surface of the creek covered with vapour; the water very warm.
Having no apparatus for ascertaining the height of our position above the level of the sea, this very interesting fact could not be determined; but, from the cold experienced, at a period so near the summer solstice, the elevation must have been very considerable.
We travelled during the day in a westerly direction over a level country, partly covered with reeds and fat-hen, and came to a broad sandy creek, which turned to the south-east and south. Having crossed it, we passed several large lagoons and swamps covered with plovers and ducks; and, at a short mile farther, came again on the creek, which now had a deep channel and a broad sandy bed lined with casuarinas and flooded-gum trees. I called this "Robinson's Creek." At its left bank, we saw a wide sheet of water, beyond which rose a range densely covered with scrub: I called them "Murphy's Lake and Range," after John Murphy, one of my companions.
I believe that Robinson's Creek is a westerly water; and, if so, it is very remarkable that the heads of Palm-tree Creek, which flows to the eastward, should be scarcely a mile distant; and that the interesting space, separating the two systems of waters, should be, to all appearance, a dead level.
I had descended—from a scrubby table land, the continuation of Darling Downs—into a system of easterly waters. I had followed down the Dawson for a considerable distance, and then, following up one of its creeks, found myself again on westerly waters. I could not decide, to my entire satisfaction, whether my views were right; for the country was difficult for reconnoitring; and I was necessarily compelled to move quickly on, to accomplish the object of my expedition: but it is a very interesting point for geographical research, and I hope, if I am not anticipated by other explorers, to ascertain, at some future period, the course of these creeks and rivers.
Nov. 20.—The first part of the night till the setting of the moon was very clear; after this it became cloudy, but cleared again at sunrise, with the exception of some mackerel-sky and stratus to the north-west. During the forenoon it was again cloudy, and a thunder-storm occurred at half-past two o'clock from the north-west and west-north-west, with little rain, but a heavy gust of wind.
In travelling to the westward, along Robinson's Creek, although two or three miles distant from it, we passed two lakes, one of which was a fine, long, but rather narrow, sheet of water, with swamps to the south-east. About six miles farther on, the country began to rise into irregular scrubby ridges; the scrub generally composed of Vitex intermingled with various forest trees. The small orange-tree, which we had found in blossom at the Condamine, was setting its fruit. Farther on, the dense Bricklow scrub compelled me to approach the banks of the creek, where we travelled over fine flats, but with a rather sandy rotten soil. The apple-tree, flooded-gum, silver-leaved ironbark, and the bastard-box grew on the flats and on the ridges. The creek was well provided with large water-holes, surrounded by high reeds.