AUGUSTUS CHARLES GREGORY, C.M.G., F.R.G.S., ETC., Gold Medalist, Royal Geographical Society,
FRANCIS THOMAS GREGORY, F.R.G.S., ETC., ETC., Gold Medalist, Royal Geographical Society.
BRISBANE: JAMES C. BEAL, GOVERNMENT PRINTER, WILLIAM STREET.
Numerous inquiries having been made for copies of the Journals of the Explorations by the Messrs. Gregory in the Western, Northern, and Central portions of Australia, and as these journals have hitherto only been partially published in a fragmentary form, and are now out of print, it has been deemed desirable to collect the material into one volume, for convenience of reference, and to place on permanent record some of the earlier attempts to penetrate the terra incognita which then constituted so vast a portion of the Australian Continent.
Although, during the twenty-two years which have elapsed since the last of these expeditions was undertaken, the geographical knowledge of Australia has so far advanced as to fill in most of the details of its physical features and set at rest the speculative opinions and theories of early explorers, it has not been deemed desirable to alter or amend the impressions or views recorded at the time, but simply reproduce the journals as originally compiled.
[TABLE OF CONTENTS.
MESSRS. GREGORY'S EXPEDITION TO THE EAST AND NORTH OF SWAN RIVER. 1846.
THE SETTLERS' EXPEDITION TO THE NORTHWARD FROM PERTH, UNDER MR. ASSISTANT-SURVEYOR A.C. GREGORY. 1848.
HIS EXCELLENCY GOVERNOR CHARLES FITZGERALD'S EXPEDITION TO THE GERALDINE LEAD MINE. 1848.
THE MURCHISON RIVER. 1857.
GASCOYNE RIVER. 1858.
NORTH-WEST COAST. 1861.
NORTH AUSTRALIAN EXPEDITION. 1855 TO 1856.
EXPEDITION IN SEARCH OF DR. LEICHHARDT. 1857 TO 1858.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
[missing frontispiece (ripped out), probably photo of A.C. Gregory.]
THE GOUTY-STEM TREE, NEAR THE DOME, ON THE RIVER VICTORIA, NORTH-WEST AUSTRALIA.
MESSRS. GREGORY'S EXPEDITION TO THE EAST AND NORTH OF SWAN RIVER.
EARLY CONDITION OF WEST AUSTRALIA.
The colony of Western Australia was established in 1829; but its isolation from the older settlement of New South Wales rendered it necessary to import all the horses, cattle, and sheep by sailing vessels from Tasmania, or other remote sources, while the heavy losses and difficulties attending long sea voyages prevented any large importations of stock—so that, though there was a fair rate of increase, the flocks and herds of the settlers had found sufficient pasturage for the first ten years on the banks of the Swan River and its upper valley, the Avon, together with the coast district southward to the Vasse Inlet; but after 1840 the stock-owners began to feel that all prospect of material increase must be relinquished unless additional pastures could be discovered.
Several public as well as private expeditions were undertaken for the purpose of ascertaining whether in the interior or along the coast on either side of the settlement there existed any available country, but they had only encountered dense scrubs of acacia and eucalyptus, with salt marshes and scarcity of fresh water in the interior. The coast to the east had been traversed from Adelaide to King George's Sound by Mr. Eyre, and found to be altogether unfit for settlement, while to the north the coast presented a series of sandy plains for more than 200 miles.
It may now appear extraordinary that the earlier explorers in Australia were so frequently unsuccessful in their endeavours to penetrate the interior; but the scarcity of suitable horses, the unsuitable character of the saddlery, cumbersome camp equipment, and deficiency of knowledge regarding the seasons in the interior, all combined to defeat the first explorers in districts which have since been traversed with comparative facility.
In 1846 the known country had become so nearly stocked to the full extent of its capability that the leading question of interest with the settlers was, where new runs could be discovered; and, among many others, the Messrs. Gregory proposed to attempt the further exploration of the interior.
Messrs. A.C. and F.T. Gregory, who were attached to the department of the Surveyor-General, applied for three months' leave of absence for the purpose; but it was eventually arranged that the expedition should be under the auspices of the Government, which provided four horses, and voted 5 pounds for the purchase of equipment, the remainder being supplied at private expense.
The party consisted of A.C. Gregory, F.T. Gregory, and H.C. Gregory, provided with four horses and seven weeks' provisions, the equipment being reduced to the least possible weight. The starting point was Mr. T.N. Yule's station, in the Toodyay district, sixty miles north-east from Perth.
The following is a transcript of the journal:—
EXPLORATION TO EAST OF SWAN RIVER, 1846.
7th August, 1846.
Leaving Mr. Yule's farm at Boyeen Spring, passed Captain Scully's station at Bolgart Spring at 10.15 a.m.; thence steered north 70 degrees east over sandy downs, thinly timbered with eucalyptus; at 12.50 p.m. crossed a small watercourse trending in the direction of our course till 2 p.m., when it turned south; at 3.50 p.m. halted for the night on a small stream flowing to the south-west.
Latitude by observation 31 degrees 12 minutes 10 seconds; longitude 116 degrees 50 minutes.
At 7.5 a.m. commenced a course 70 degrees; at 8.0 crossed a granite hill with some grass, after which the country was scrubby till 9.30, when we entered a grassy flat timbered with casuarina; at 10.25 the country was more open, but scrubby; at 12.45 p.m. observed a small lake bearing 10 degrees; steered on that course, and reached it at 2.10 p.m.; halted till 3.15, and then resumed our former course through a swampy country, and at 4.50 camped on the bank of another small shallow lake.
Latitude by observation 31 degrees 4 minutes 24 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 4 minutes.
At 7.35 a.m. steered on a course of 95 degrees through a scrubby country with small wooded valleys; at noon observed several large shallow lakes five to ten miles to the north-east; at 3 p.m. altered the course to 45 degrees, and at 3.30 to north; at 4 p.m. reached a large open flat covered with salicornia and other salt plants, and with shallow lakes of salt water. At the edge of the flat found a native well with good water and a patch of grass around it, and bivouacked.
Latitude by observation 31 degrees 2 minutes 22 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 23 minutes 15 seconds.
At 7.35 a.m. left the bivouac and steered 95 degrees, passed several small salt lagoons in a thick swampy country; at 9.15 entered a gum forest with close underwood, which rendered travelling slow and difficult, but it gradually became more open; at 1 p.m. observed several lakes to the north and east, six to seven miles distant; we then passed a succession of dense thickets and patches of gum forest till 4.25, when we turned north, and at 5.30 halted in an open patch of grass surrounded by swampy thickets.
Latitude by observation 31 degrees 1 minute 44 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 45 minutes 10 seconds.
At 7.25 a.m. steered north-east through gum forest; at 8.30 passed a dry lagoon; at 9.10 changed the course to 95 degrees; the country became more open; at 11.35 ascended an elevated ridge, and saw several bare granite hills to the eastward; steered 75 degrees to the nearest; reached its summit at 1.40 p.m., and halted for the remainder of the day to refresh the horses, there being abundance of water in the hollows of the rock and some grass around the base of the hill.
Latitude by observation 30 degrees 58 minutes 47 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 59 minutes 47 seconds.
DRY COUNTRY. GRANITE HILLS.
Leaving the bivouac at 7.30 a.m., steered 122 degrees through alternate patches of gum forest, underwood, and grass; at 11.50 reached the summit of a bare granite hill, from which we could see Lake Brown, bearing 93 degrees to 103 degrees, Eaglestone Hill, 100 degrees, also many other remarkable hills and peaks. Leaving this hill at 12.15 p.m., steered 58 degrees over undulating wooded country with several small watercourses trending to the south; at 4.30 bivouacked at a scrubby hill, near a small pool of rainwater, on a granite rock.
Latitude by observation 30 degrees 59 minutes 54 seconds; longitude 118 degrees 17 minutes.
Resumed our course 58 degrees through level gum forest, then a spearwood thicket, then dense underwood and patches of gum forest till 1.25 p.m., when we came to a native well among granite rocks; having watered the horses, continued the course through the same description of country till 4.40, when we halted at the foot of a granite hill with plenty of rainwater in the hollows and grass on a narrow strip between the scrub and base of the bare rock.
Latitude by observation 30 degrees 48 minutes 34 seconds; longitude 118 degrees 40 minutes.
Started at 10.35 a.m., and steered 41 degrees through a level country, with thickets of underwood, cypress, and gum, with some grassy patches; at 2.20 p.m. reached a bare granite hill, at the foot of which we bivouacked.
Leaving the bivouac at 7.15 a.m., steered 50 degrees; at 8.50 crossed a steep ridge of white sandy rocks resting on granite; after this the country was grassy, with little timber, 10.30, when we entered a thick scrub; at 11.0 observed a high granite hill bearing 50 degrees, steered for it, and reached the summit at 12.55 p.m., descending into thick scrub on the other side. Having climbed a tree to get a view, observed a very remarkable peak and range of rugged hills distant about forty miles, the highest point bearing 57 degrees; at 2.30 came to scrubby country with only a few trees, and at 4.15 camped at a small waterhole in a granite rock.
Latitude by observation 30 degrees 31 minutes 43 seconds; longitude 118 degrees 52 minutes.
At 7.15 a.m. resumed our march on a bearing 68 degrees, through well-wooded country till 9.35, when we ascended a fine grassy hill of trap-rock. From this hill several of a similar character were visible to the southward, while to the north numerous large dry salt lakes or marshes occupied the valley along the south-eastern declivity of which we had travelled for the last two days; the course was then 56 degrees, through scattered forest, with much underwood and a little grass. At noon struck the shore of one of the lakes, the bank being composed of gypsum and red sand, in some parts twenty feet high; following the shore of the lake to the east till 1.15 p.m., again resumed a course 56 degrees through dense thickets of wattle (acacia), with patches of gum forest and cypress, the soil a red sandy loam devoid of smaller vegetation; at 5.0 halted for the night.
Latitude by observation 30 degrees 21 minutes 40 seconds; longitude 119 degrees 11 minutes.
WHIRLWINDS. RED SAND.
At 6.30 a.m. recommenced our journey 50 degrees; at 6.55 crossed a narrow swampy patch of salicornia trending east and west; altered the course to 63 degrees, and at 7.35 crossed a deep watercourse trending to the south; at 8.15 ascended a trap hill with a few granite rocks at the foot, among which we found a small pool of rainwater, at which we halted for three hours to refresh our horses, and then proceeded 40 degrees till 2.20 p.m., when we arrived at the foot of the highest hill in the range for which we had been steering. Leaving our horses, we ascended the hill, which was composed of trap-rock, and did not exceed 300 feet in height above the general level of the country. From the summit several similar ranges of trap hills were visible, extending from north to east-south-east; to the south-east the country appeared to be a level sandy desert without the least appearance of vegetation, while to the west and north the smokes of many native fires were visible in the distance. The extremely level character of the country between the ranges to the east and north, and the immense columns of red sand or dust which were raised by whirlwinds to a height of 200 to 500 feet, gave but little hope of finding water in that direction. Returning to our horses at 4.20, steered 350 degrees about three and a half miles to a small patch of grass which had been observed from the hill, which was named Mount Jackson. There was a small watercourse through the patch of grass, but no water, and the country was suffering from prolonged drought.
Latitude by observation 30 degrees 12 minutes 28 seconds; longitude 119 degrees 16 minutes.
After six hours' ineffectual search for water, we were compelled to return to the water passed early on the previous day.
Left the bivouac at 7.20 a.m. and steered 275 degrees through a scattered gum forest with much underwood; at 9.55 came on a dry salt lagoon of irregular form, which was crossed at 10.20; passing a native well among flat granite rocks, the country rose gradually till 11.50, when we arrived at a hill crowned by steep white sandstone cliffs twenty to thirty feet high. The course was then changed to north, through dense thickets, till 12.20 p.m., when we again turned west through a well-wooded country, and at 3.0 camped on a high granite hill with some patches of grass and abundance of rainwater in the hollows of the rocks.
Latitude 30 degrees 19 minutes 33 seconds; longitude 118 degrees 55 minutes.
At 7.30 a.m. resumed a westerly course through dense thickets of acacia and melaleuca, and at 5.15 p.m. bivouacked in a small patch of grass and a small pool of rainwater on a granite rock.
Latitude 30 degrees 17 minutes 40 seconds; longitude 118 degrees 35 minutes.
At 7.45 a.m. started on a course 320 degrees over an undulating country with dense thickets and patches of cypress and gum forest; at 4.30 p.m. bivouacked near a small hole in a rock with about two gallons of rainwater remaining in it.
Latitude 30 degrees 5 minutes 43 seconds; longitude 118 degrees 22 seconds.
At 7.35 a.m. resumed a west course through a succession of thickets, gum forest, and scrub; at 12.30 p.m. observed a granite hill bearing 315 degrees; made for the hill, and finding some excellent grass around a native well, at 2.15 camped.
Latitude 30 degrees 3 minutes 36 seconds; longitude 118 degrees 8 minutes.
Started at 7.40 a.m. in a direction 320 degrees, over thinly-timbered scrubby country, which gradually improved and became grassy; at 10.5 altered the course to 336 degrees, and at 1.15 p.m. reached the summit of a granite hill from which a series of dry lakes, or salt marshes, were visible in a wide valley trending to the north-east. A very remarkable hill bore 316 degrees, about 35 miles distant. Steering in the direction of this hill, found the country covered with almost impenetrable scrub of acacia. At 4.20 halted at the foot of a high sandstone cliff, where some deep holes in the rock retained a small quantity of rainwater.
Latitude 29 degrees 51 minutes; longitude 119 degrees 55 minutes.
Left the bivouac at 7.35 a.m. steering 312 degrees; passed over a nearly level country timbered with cypress and eucalyptus, with patches of acacia thicket; at 2.45 p.m. halted at a deep waterhole in a flat granite rock.
Latitude 29 degrees 42 minutes 31 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 41 minutes.
EXTENSIVE SALT MARSHES.
At 7.30 a.m. resumed our journey on the same course as yesterday, and at 9.15 came on an extensive flat covered with salicornia, which formed the margin of an immense salt marsh or dry lake, extending to the north-east and south-west to the horizon, but narrowing to about three miles at the point we came to it. It was decided to attempt crossing at this place, and, after travelling for an hour across the salicornia flat, reached the bare salt marsh. This at first seemed firm; but, after half-a-mile, the hard crust of salt and gypsum, which formed the surface, gave way and three of the horses were bogged almost at the same time. After a long ineffectual struggle to extricate themselves they were quite exhausted, and we waded through the mud to the opposite shore, a distance of half-a-mile, and cut some small trees, and with them, combined with tether ropes and saddle-bags, formed two hurdles or platforms twelve feet long and two feet wide. These with much difficulty were taken to the horses, and by placing them alternately in front of each animal, worked them over the soft mud, and after six hours of severe exertion succeeded in reaching the firm ground. The hard salt crust, though apparently strong, having once been broken, its edges gave way like thin ice. After reaching the ground, which was dry enough to bear the weight of the horses, we had to travel about three miles through soft dust of white gypsum, in which we sank from one to two feet, but at length reached a large granite rock, at the foot of which there was a little grass and on the rock some small pools of rainwater.
Latitude 29 degrees 37 minutes 30 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 38 minutes.
From the summit of the rock we had an extensive view, the lake extending twelve miles east, fifteen miles to the south and west, eight miles to the north and to the north-east, only bounded by the horizon. Shallow pools of brine, varying from one to three miles in diameter, with low-wooded and high bare granite islets, were scattered over this vast area of white mud gypsum and salt. At 8.35 a.m. started in a southerly direction along the shore of the lake in the hope of turning its west side; at 10.40 altered the course to 221 degrees; and at 12.30 p.m. camped on a grassy granite hill, about a mile from the lake.
Latitude 29 degrees 47 minutes 13 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 36 minutes.
Steering a general course 200 degrees from 7.40 a.m. to 8.40, again reached the shore of the lake, followed it south-east till 9.45, then 80 degrees till 12.15 p.m., when we halted for one and a half hours under a very remarkable solitary gum-tree; we then steered 173 degrees till 2.20; then 204 degrees till 3.30, when we left the lake, which trended to the west, and, steering 250 degrees till 5.5, camped at a native well in a small grassy valley. Some good open grassy flats were passed during the day and a large number of wild turkeys were seen.
Latitude 29 degrees 59 minutes 4 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 39 minutes.
Starting at 7.35 a.m. in a west-north-west course, at 8.45 passed several small dry salt lagoons; at 9.0 ascended a granite hill, from the summit of which it was discovered that further progress in this direction was impracticable, and that we were on a peninsula, as the lake still trended south to the horizon. We therefore turned east, and at 11.35 came on the southern extension of the eastern branch of the lake; followed it nearly east till noon, then north-east and north-north-east till 1.0 p.m.; then 17 degrees, leaving the lake and crossing extensive open downs till 2.5, when a small dry salt lake was passed, and we entered thickets of acacia, which changed to gum and cypress forest; at 3.0 came to a rich grassy hill, then thickets and grassy patches, and at 4.0 reached the summit of a lofty granite hill and had an extensive view over the country. On the north side of the hill found a native well and some good grass, where we camped.
Latitude 29 degrees 45 minutes 15 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 46 minutes.
GRANITE HILLS AND GRASSY COUNTRY.
At 7.35 a.m. left the bivouac and steered 30 degrees through thickets; at 8.30 crossed our track of the 24th, and at 9.15 passed a salt marsh trending north-west and south-east; at 12.25 p.m. altered the course to north till 1.0; then, 37 degrees, ascended a granite hill, on which we found a few shallow pools of rainwater; then north till 4.0 p.m., and bivouacked in a grassy patch with a small hollow containing a little muddy water.
Latitude 29 degrees 30 minutes 46 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 51 minutes.
Resumed our journey at 7.35 a.m., steering north over a level country with patches of brushwood and grass; at 10.35 ascended a steep grassy ridge, and found ourselves at the north-east extremity of the immense salt lake which for five days had baffled our attempts to proceed north. The lake, which was named Lake Moore, was at this part about five miles wide, and extended to the horizon to the south-west; to the north and west there were many bare granite hills; changing the course to 328 degrees, at 12.55 p.m. camped at a grassy granite hill.
Latitude 29 degrees 17 minutes 56 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 47 minutes.
At 7.30 a.m. steered 328 degrees for two hours through thickets of acacia, cypress, and gum; then entered a grassy country with jam-wattle; at 10.35 passed a granite hill and altered the course to 357 degrees, and at 11.30 ascended a high granite hill, from which many similar hills were visible to the north and east, and a remarkable range of trap hills about thirty miles to the north-north-east; also some smaller trap ranges to the north-west, from ten to thirty miles distant. At noon steered 302 degrees towards the nearest of these ranges, traversing a level plain with brushwood and grass; at 4.45 crossed a small dry watercourse trending west, and at 5.5 bivouacked on a granite hill, with some grass and a fine pool of rainwater in a hollow of the rock.
Latitude 29 degrees 3 minutes 14 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 31 minutes.
Resumed our route at 7.45 a.m.; at 8.45 reached the hills we had been steering for; from the summit there was an extensive view: to the north and west were many trap hills and several dry salt lakes; to the north the country was level for several miles, and then rose into a low range of granite hills, covered with brushwood and grass; at 9.20 steered 230 degrees over level country with dense thickets of acacia; at noon the country became more open; at 1.0 passed some small dry salt lagoons, the country more open and with some grass, and at 3.0 camped at the foot of a granite hill, with good grass and some water oozing out of a cleft in the rock.
Latitude 28 degrees 50 minutes 44 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 20 minutes.
Leaving the bivouac at 7.40 a.m., steered 330 degrees over a succession of grassy granite hills, with small watercourse trending to the west; at 12.40 p.m. came on a party of four aboriginals, who hastily decamped, leaving their spears and shields behind in the hurry of retreat; they appeared to be of rather small stature, and somewhat darker in colour than the blacks near the Swan River. Observing a remarkable hill bearing 312 degrees about twenty miles distant, steered for it; the country became more level, with grass and brushwood; at 3.5 turned north to a steep granite hill, crossing a dry watercourse thirty yards wide and sixteen feet deep trending north-west; at 4.40 halted in a gully in the granite range, and obtained water by digging among the rocks.
Latitude 28 degrees 34 minutes 9 seconds; longitude 117 degrees 2 minutes.
Started at 8.0 a.m., steering towards the hill seen yesterday, and which now bore 307 degrees. The country was nearly a dead level, with a few small dry watercourses trending south-west; the soil a red loam, producing some grass and small acacias; at 10.50 came on an extensive flat covered with salicornia, which extended to the base of the hill, the summit of which was reached at 12.25 p.m.; from this position the flat or marsh appeared to extend fifteen miles to the north-east, a branch also to the north-west, in which direction the water seemed to trend, though the dip of the country, if any, was so slight as to render it uncertain. To the north a range of trap hills, five to ten miles distant, intercepted the view. Having completed observations at 2.10, steered 300 degrees along the foot of a range of trap hills; at 3.50 passed a dry salt lake on our right, and at 5.15 bivouacked on the side of a trap hill, among some fine oat-grass growing on calcareous tufa. From the summit of the hill we could see salt marshes continuing in a north-west direction for many miles; all the hills within twenty miles were of a trap formation, and therefore gave no prospect of obtaining water, the soil being loose and the rock full of fissures; hitherto we seldom had found water except on or near granite rocks, which serve to collect the rainwater of even slight showers.
Latitude 28 degrees 24 minutes 20 seconds; longitude 116 degrees 42 minutes.
SCARCITY OF WATER. TURN TO THE WEST.
As the horses had been twenty-four hours without water, and there was no prospect of obtaining any to the north or west, no rain having fallen for the past month, it was deemed advisable to return to the last bivouac, and then, by a westerly course, attempt to make the sources of the Hutt or Arrowsmith rivers, the mouths of which had been discovered by Captain Grey on the coast opposite our position. Accordingly, after six hours' ride, we got back to the well at the bivouac of the 2nd.
At 7.50 a.m. left the bivouac, and, steering 240 degrees, at 8.15 crossed the dry watercourse trending west; at 11.0 ascended the ridge bounding the valley; at noon found a small pool of water in a gully descending to the westward; after this traversed a continuous thicket of acacia with narrow strips of cypress forest, and bivouacked at 5.50 without water.
Latitude 29 degrees 47 minutes 15 seconds; longitude 116 degrees 41 minutes.
At 6.45 a.m., proceeding west, ascended a granite hill, near the top of which we found a native well, where we halted at 7.30. Having watered the horses and breakfasted, at 9.30 resumed our journey over granite hills, covered with brushwood and cypress with a few grassy patches; at 11.10 passed a native well; altered the course to west-south-west, crossing three small watercourses trending north-west; and at 1.15 p.m. halted at the foot of a bare granite hill, on the top of which there was a fine pool of rainwater in a shallow basin of the rock.
Latitude 28 degrees 50 minutes 51 seconds; longitude 116 degrees 29 minutes.
Started at 7.15 a.m. on a course 255 degrees through acacia thickets; at 10.5 crossed a narrow strip of salt marsh, which spread out into dry salt lakes to the south; after this the country was grassy till 11.30, when we entered a dense thicket of acacia, melaleuca, cypress, and eucalypti, the ground gradually rising till 4.0 p.m., and then descending till 5.25, when we crossed a small dry watercourse trending south; at 6.10 bivouacked in a gum forest without water or grass, though a large flight of white cockatoos which roosted near seemed to indicate that water was not far distant.
Latitude 28 degrees 58 minutes 14 seconds; longitude 116 degrees 6 minutes.
Leaving the bivouac at 7.0 am steered west; at 7.20 came to a grassy granite hill, then west-north-west to another hill, where we halted for half an hour to look for water, but being unsuccessful, again resumed a westerly course through acacia thickets, alternating with grassy gum forest, till noon, when the soil changed from a red loam to ironstone gravel; grass disappeared and was replaced by scrub; the country was much broken and continued to rise till 4.0 p.m., when it began to descend rapidly till 4.30, when we came to a small watercourse trending south; following it down for half a mile, found a small pool of water and some grass, and halted for the night, this being the only water seen for nearly fifty miles.
Latitude 28 degrees 58 minutes 50 seconds; longitude 115 degrees 45 minutes.
DISCOVER TWO SEAMS OF COAL.
At 7.30 a.m. resumed a westerly course through grassy gum forest; at 8.0 a.m. crossed a large watercourse trending south, with many shallow pools of water; the country then became scrubby; at 9.10 crossed a granite ridge and entered a rich grassy valley timbered with eucalypti and raspberry-jam wattle, a small watercourse trending north. The ridge on the west side of the valley was destitute of timber, but covered with dense wattle brush; at 10.0 a.m. altered the course to 305 degrees, and at 10.35 came on the head of a small stream-bed with pools of water; following it west-north-west, at 11.30 it was joined by a running stream four yards wide, the water being brackish, and trended to the south-west; left it and steered west over an open scrubby country; at 12.30 p.m. entered a dense thicket of eucalypti and acacia, the soil being formed of fragments of granite and trap; at 1.0 p.m. entered a deep valley by an abrupt descent, and found ourselves once more on the banks of the brackish stream, which was much enlarged, and running through a narrow grassy flat backed by high sandstone cliffs from 80 to 100 feet high. Continuing our course along the river west till 1.55 p.m., when it turned north, and at 2.20 p.m. north-west; at 3.0 p.m. the banks of the stream became very high, and stratified in a remarkable manner, the lower rocks in thin beds dipping to the east, while the superincumbent rocks of red sandstone were horizontal. We therefore entered the bed of the river to examine it, and found two seams of coal—one five feet thick and the other about six feet thick—between beds of sandstone and shale. Having pitched the tent and tethered the horses, we commenced to collect specimens of the various strata, and succeeded in cutting out five or six hundredweight of coal with the tomahawk, and in a short time had the satisfaction of seeing the first fire of Western Australian coal burning cheerfully in front of the camp, this being the first discovery of coal in the western part of the Continent.
Latitude 28 degrees 57 minutes 10 seconds; longitude 115 degrees 30 minutes.
At 7.20 a.m. left the camp and followed the river downwards on a general course 250 degrees; at 7.40 crossed to the left bank, the valley opening out and the soil improving, being formed by the decomposition of soft shales, which contain much gypsum in fine crystals. Oat and rye grasses were abundant, with plenty of saltbush; at 9.10 crossed to the right bank, and steered 220 degrees to an abrupt headland on the north side of the valley, which was here about two miles wide; the soil a stiff brown loam, with rounded fragments of granite, flinty trap, and quartz, resembling in appearance the French millstone burr; the grass improved, being chiefly of perennial species. After a halt of twenty minutes to take bearings from the hill, at 9.40 steered 200 degrees, and again crossed the river at 11.15, and altered the course to 235 degrees; the grassy country having a breadth of two miles. At noon ascended a sandy ridge with a few gum-trees on the top; there the valley closed in, the grassy flats below being only half a mile wide and backed by extensive elevated sandy downs, covered with heath and short scrub. The course of the river was about 230 degrees. At 1.35 p.m. ascended a remarkable red sandstone hill, with a table summit and steep rocks on all sides nearly blocking up the valley; at 2.15 p.m. resumed a general course of 242 degrees along the bank of the river, and at 4.5 bivouacked in a rich grassy flat thinly timbered with white-barked eucalyptus.
Latitude 29 degrees 10 minutes 42 seconds; longitude 115 degrees 15 minutes.
REACH THE SEA-COAST.
Started at 7.40 a.m., and, steering 240 degrees, crossed the river, left the grassy flats, and entered the sandy downs; at 8.45 ascended a steep sandstone cliff, and from the top had a distant view of the sea; the river about one and a half miles to the south, where a large branch joined it from the east about two miles below the bivouac. At 9.35 steered 267 degrees over open sandy downs, and at 10.35 struck the river, running north through beautiful grassy flats timbered with York and white-gums and wattles; there were many fine pools of water, which appeared to be permanent. After an unsuccessful attempt to cross the river, followed it northerly till 11.0; then west-north-west till 11.20, and then west-south-west till 11.45, when we found a practicable crossing to the left bank, and, steering west by south, ascended a sandy limestone ridge; then on a west-south-west course followed the valley of the river down to its mouth, which was reached at 3.40 p.m. The entrance of the river was choked up with sand and rocks, and not passable for even small boats. This river appears to be the Irwin River of Captain Grey, as this spot is only one and a half miles to the south of the position assigned to it on Arrowsmith's map of this part of the coast. At 4.30 left the beach and retraced our steps to where we crossed the river at 1.30, and bivouacked at 5.50.
Latitude 29 degrees 15 minutes 10 seconds; longitude 114 degrees 59 minutes.
At 7.50 a.m. resumed our journey up the river, steering north-east till 8.25; then east along the north bank, through rich grassy flats timbered with York gum. At 10.20 left the river and entered the sandy downs; at 10.30 crossed a small stream with some fine springs; at 11.0 changed the course to east by south; at noon altered the course to 83 degrees, crossing the river at 12.50 p.m., where it is joined by the east branch, which is of equal size with the northern one; followed the east branch up through wide grassy flats till 2.0, and camped.
The country consists of elevated sandy downs covered with heathy bushes and a few small banksia trees, it being only on the alluvial flats of the river that there is any grass or good soil. Large flocks of cockatoos—white, black with white tails, and black with red tails—came to water near the camp; some were shot, also a turkey, the flesh of which was extremely bitter and scarcely eatable. Several kangaroos were seen on the sandy downs.
Latitude 29 degrees 11 minutes 20 seconds; longitude 115 degrees 18 minutes.
At 7.55 a.m. left the Irwin River and steered a course 160 degrees, over open sandy downs of considerable elevation; at 11.45 halted for half an hour and shot a kangaroo, which proved a welcome addition to the commissariat; at 1.30 p.m. changed the course to 142 degrees, and at 2.30 came to a running stream three yards wide. This we assumed to be the Arrowsmith River of Captain Grey, and as there was little prospect of finding water farther on, we bivouacked, though there was only a little grass close to the bank of the stream and the rest of the country covered with short scrub.
Latitude 29 degrees 27 minutes 9 seconds.
Left the bivouac at 8.35 a.m., and steered 160 degrees over sandy downs with ridges of red sandstone till 3.0 p.m., when the course was altered to 220 degrees, following down a shallow valley; at 4.0 turned west-south-west, and at 5.15 bivouacked in a swampy spot with some grass; obtaining water by digging in the sand.
Latitude 29 degrees 48 minutes 10 seconds; longitude 115 degrees 32 minutes.
Leaving the bivouac at 8.0 a.m., steered 214 degrees over scrubby country with patches of gum forest; at 9.0 turned to 160 degrees, crossed a country of sand and ironstone of considerable elevation; at 3.30 p.m. altered the course to 170 degrees, and followed down a scrubby valley till 5.0; then 115 degrees for half an hour, and came to a native well in a patch of York gum-trees, where we camped. The last three hours our progress was scarcely six miles, as one of the horses knocked up.
Latitude 30 degrees 10 minutes; longitude 115 degrees 39 minutes.
STEER SOUTH OVER SANDY DOWNS.
As there was no grass for the horses, we were compelled to push on our journey, and at 7.20 a.m. steered 160 degrees; the country was more broken up by valleys, the soil sand and ironstone, with heathy scrub, banksia, and grass trees (xanthorrhoea) with a few patches of white-gum forest; at 10.30 steered 138 degrees towards a high summit, distant twelve miles. The horse again knocked up, but by relieving him of his load, which was transferred to the other horses, succeeded in driving him a few miles further. At 2.20 p.m. changed the course to 180 degrees, and entered a level sandy piece of country, bounded on all sides by hills; at 3.40 altered the course to south-west; at 5.0 had to abandon the weak horse and continue our route in search of water; at 5.30 passed a small salt lake with a little grass on the margin; at 6.0, finding the country getting worse, returned to the salt lake and camped on the western side.
Latitude 30 degrees 27 minutes 19 seconds; longitude 115 degrees 47 minutes.
After digging in about twenty different places around the lake, at length found fresh water, and then went back for the knocked-up horse, and with some difficulty got him to the well, where we decided to rest the horses this and the following day, before encountering the inhospitable sandy region to the southwards.
One of the party made a short excursion to the west of the plain, and in about three miles reached the hills, which appeared very barren and scrubby; but after crossing the first ridge, the country was timbered with York and red gum and a large species of acacia, producing abundance of gum; the soil a red loam, producing some grass and abundance of the everlasting flowers and warran, or native yam. After penetrating this good country four miles returned to the camp, having shot a kangaroo and ten cockatoos.
Leaving the camp at 8.5 a.m., steered 160 degrees, and soon ascended the sandy downs, which were destitute of trees, except a few banksia and floribunda; at 11.45 crossed a valley trending to the west; at 1.15 p.m. observed a range of wooded hills to the east and south; altered the course towards a remarkable gorge which bore 129 degrees; at 3.30 entered a gum forest, and at 3.50 came to a large stream-bed with many pools of water; followed it down south, and camped at 4.20.
Latitude 30 degrees 42 minutes 39 seconds; longitude 116 degrees.
REACH THE MOORE RIVER.
Crossed the watercourse, which seemed to be a branch of the Moore River, and steered 163 degrees from 7.30 a.m. till 8.20, when the country improved, with grassy hills and brown loam, with fragments of granite and trap rock; the timber York-gum and jam-wattle. This description of country continued till 12.15 p.m., when scrub again prevailed on ironstone hills timbered with white-gum; at 2.20 entered a valley of better character, with quartz and granite rocks. After crossing several rocky ridges, at 3.20 reached the main branch of the Moore River, which we crossed, and camped. This was the first place where the poisonous gastrolobium was observed.
Latitude 31 degrees 39 seconds; longitude 116 degrees 13 minutes.
At 7.30 a.m. followed the river upwards on a bearing of 130 degrees; at 8.0 passed a deserted sheep-station, the river coming from the north; continued our course over broken ironstone ridges, timbered with white-gum; at 10.0 the country became more level and sandy, and at 11.45 struck the road from Toodyay to Victoria Plains; followed the road southerly till 4.5 p.m., and camped at a small spring.
Latitude 31 degrees 14 minutes 19 seconds; longitude 116 degrees 34 minutes.
CAPTAIN GREY'S REPORT OF GOOD COUNTRY CONFIRMED.
This morning an hour's ride brought us to Bolgart Spring, after an absence of forty-seven days, during which we had travelled 953 miles, traversing three degrees of latitude and nearly four and a half of longitude.
The discovery of coal and country available for settlement on the coast to the north of Swan River was deemed to be of such importance that the Government dispatched Lieutenant Helpman in the colonial schooner Champion to procure a sufficient quantity of the coal to admit of its being practically tested as to quality, and also to ascertain what facilities existed for its conveyance to a port for shipment. A volunteer party, consisting of Lieutenant Irby, Dr. Meekleham, Messrs. Gregory and Hazlewood, accompanied Lieutenant Helpman to Champion Bay, now the site of Geraldton, and thence by land to the coal-seam on the Irwin River, a distance of ninety miles, and brought down about half a ton of coal to the vessel. This coal, though of fair quality and suitable for steam purposes, proved, however, to be so remote from any suitable port for shipment that it has hitherto not been available for commercial purposes.
The primary object of the voyage having been attained, it was considered desirable to avail of the opportunity to examine the country to the northward and ascertain its capabilities for settlement; for though Captain, now Sir George Grey, had seen some good country on his journey along the coast from Gantheaume Bay to Swan River, in 1839, Captain Stokes, who landed from the Beagle subsequently and ascended Wizard Peak about twelve miles inland, had distinctly negatived the existence of any country capable of occupation, though, as an illustration of the difficulty of ascertaining the real capabilities of country by partial and hurried inspection, it may be observed that this has since become one of the most prosperous districts of Western Australia in regard to its pastoral, agricultural, and mining industries.
For the purpose of making this examination of the country, Messrs. A.C. Gregory, H.C. Gregory, and Lieutenant Irby, taking three horses and three days' provisions, left Champion Bay on the 20th December, the following being a copy of the journal:—
20th December, 1846.
At 6.20 a.m. left the bivouac and followed the shore of Champion Bay about a mile northerly; then steered 87 degrees over a scrubby country; at 7.20 crossed the Chapman River; and at 8.0, being a quarter of a mile north from Mount Fairfax, altered the course to 66 degrees, the country being thinly covered with wattle scrub and some grass; at 8.45 crossed a large branch of the Chapman with several small pools of water in the bed; the country beyond was more scrubby and the soil gravelly; at 9.0 changed the course to 18 degrees, and at 9.20 again crossed the Chapman River just below a pool of apparently permanent water; at 9.50 crossed a granite ridge, beyond which the country improved, with many large patches of grass to the eastward; at 10.20 ascended a high flat-topped hill of red sandstone resting on granite, which proved to be the eastern point of Moresby's Flat-topped Range. From this hill Mount Fairfax and Wizard Hill were visible to the east; grassy hills rose gradually from the Chapman River for seven or eight miles; steering 10 degrees over grassy country, the soil was composed of detritus of granite and trap rocks; at 11.0 came on a large party of natives, some of whom accompanied us for about a mile, pointing out places where we should find water. At noon turned to the north-east and entered an extensive valley with some patches of grass, but not generally of a good character; at 12.30 p.m. crossed a small watercourse trending west; followed it about half a mile, and then steered north-west over scrubby flats till 1.0, when we struck a small stream-bed with small pools of water, and halted till 1.20, and then followed up the stream to the north till 3.0, when we bivouacked.
At 6.35 a.m. steered north over a hilly country with scrub, grass, York-gum, and wattle—the prevailing rocks red sandstone, quartz, and granite; at 8.30 crossed a stream-bed with pools of brackish water trending east, and at 8.50 entered a good grassy country which appeared to extend ten to twelve miles to the east and north—clumps of York-gum, jam-wattle, and sandalwood were observed on some of the hills. After crossing several small watercourses, at 9.45 ascended an elevated sandy tableland covered with coarse scrub; and at 10.35, not seeing any prospect of better country, changed the course to west, and following down a deep gully, at 11.7 came to a small pool of salt water; following the watercourse south-south-west, at 11.25 came to a small hole dug by the natives, in which the water was fresh, though the pools above and below were salt. Halting till nearly 1.0 p.m., resumed a westerly course, crossing several deep grassy valleys trending south; at 1.35 steered 211 degrees over a hilly, quartz, and granite country with very good grass; at 2.30 again came on the stream-bed, the country improved and well-grassed, with scattered jam and black wattle trees as far as the country was visible; at 3.50 the stream was joined by a branch from the east, and following it to the west-north-west till 5.0, bivouacked in the bed of the stream, water being obtained by digging in the sand.
At 6.35 a.m. steered 220 degrees over a fine grassy country; at 7.0 ascended a small ironstone hill, from which we observed a deep valley trending to the south-west; to the north and west the country was open and grassy for twelve miles, presenting at one view fifty or sixty thousand acres of fine sheep pasture. Continuing a south-west course over granite country with some good grass, but not equal to that seen the previous day, at 8.0 crossed a small stream-bed, which we assumed to be the Bowes River of Captain Grey; we ascended steep limestone hills on the west bank, and from the summit observed the large white sand patch on Point Moore bearing 170 degrees; turning south three-quarters of a mile, crossed the Bowes River at its mouth, which was choked up with sand; we then steered south-east with the intention of following Captain Grey's route to Champion Bay; but, after traversing sandy downs with limestone rocks for four miles, one of the horses became so footsore that we descended a deep ravine to the sea-beach, which was followed southerly, and after crossing the dry mouth of the Buller and Chapman Rivers, reached the landing place in Champion Bay at 1.10 p.m.
On the 23rd the party and horses were shipped on board the Champion and reached Fremantle on the 28th.
THE SETTLERS' EXPEDITION TO THE NORTHWARD FROM PERTH, UNDER MR. ASSISTANT-SURVEYOR A.C. GREGORY.
As the stock belonging to the settlers on the Swan River had increased to the full extent of the pastoral capabilities of the known available country, it became of pressing importance to push forward the exploration of the Colony of West Australia, and accordingly, in 1848 the Surveyor-General, Captain Roe, conducted an expedition to the south-east of Swan River, while the settlers organised one to proceed to the north, and made application to the Government to grant the services of Mr. Assistant-Surveyor A.C. Gregory as the leader of the party.
THE SETTLERS' EXPEDITION TO THE NORTHWARD FROM PERTH, UNDER MR. ASSISTANT-SURVEYOR A.C. GREGORY.
We could not do justice to the enterprise and exertions of the gentlemen who discovered the new tract of good land to the northward in any other way than by giving Mr. Augustus Gregory's Journal entire:—
INSTRUCTIONS TO LEADER OF THE EXPEDITION AND ITS OBJECTS.
Colonial Secretary's Office,
Perth, August 28, 1848.
I am directed by the Governor to inform you that you have been appointed to direct the exploring expedition about to proceed northwards on account of the zeal, energy, and enterprising spirit that have been exhibited by you on other occasions, and called into action with credit to yourself and advantage to the public interests. The party under your direction, it is intended, should proceed northward as high as the Gascoyne River. (The Gascoyne River flows into Shark Bay, in latitude 24 degrees 52 minutes South.) It is advisable to approach that river from the eastward, about 100 miles from the coast, after proceeding in a north-easterly and northerly direction from the country abreast of Champion Bay, it being desirable that part of your route which lies farthest in the interior country should be first accomplished, in order to avail yourself of the best chance of finding water.
You will examine that river as far as it may be practicable to do, with the view of tracing its course; of ascertaining, if possible, the nature of the bar at the mouth of it, and the question of its being practicable for boats, to what distance from the bar, and the nature of the soil in the vicinity of either bank.
After having examined thus the Gascoyne River you will proceed in a southerly direction and examine the river, as yet unnamed, about forty miles farther south, that flows into Shark's Bay, the mouth of which was seen by Captain Grey, and is placed by him at Point Long.
Should you proceed along the sea-shore for any distance you will pay as much attention as your limited means will allow you to do to the peculiarities of the coast, and of any estuaries, creeks, or roadsteads that may present themselves.
You will bear in mind that the primary object of this expedition is the examination of a new tract of unknown country for practical purposes, by practical men—that, in fact, the discovery of new land of an available kind for pasture has become a thing to be desired, of paramount importance, and an object in the attainment of which the interests and perhaps the fate of this colony depend.
You will thus conduct your expedition with the view of promoting this principal object to the best of your ability. But it is hardly needful to observe to you that this chief object may be promoted and attained without neglecting to observe the geographical, geological, and mineralogical features of the country you pass through; its productions—animal and vegetable; and the character, dialects, and customs, to some extent, of the aboriginal tribes you may fall in with. You have been so frequently employed in exploring expeditions, though of minor importance perhaps to the present, that you must be well aware it is no less impolitic than cruel to come into actual collision, wantonly, unadvisedly, and maliciously, with the natives; and, on the contrary, that it is no less humane than politic to leave no angry recollections of white people, where the footsteps of travellers, however few and far between, must be expected to follow yours.
Should your route, either in proceeding on the expedition or returning, be in the direction of that part of the Irwin River where for the discovery of coal the colony is indebted to yourself and brothers, it would be desirable that you should devote a short time to the examination of the locality where it was first found; to excavation, to some moderate extent, in the vicinity of the veins of coal of most promise; and, above all, to the ascertainment of the fact if coal crops out, or if there be in the soil any indications of it between the place where the mine was discovered by you in 1846 and the seashore, in that intervening space of about thirty-eight or forty miles, or to the northward of it in the direction of Shark's Bay, where Dr. von Somner thought the coal-seam of the Irwin might again make its appearance.
In the event of accident, occasioning loss of provisions and beasts of burden, and a necessity arising for a prompt return to the settled districts, you will bear in mind the causes of impediment on the march which proved so disastrous to Captain Grey's party on its return from Gantheaume Bay; the want of vigilance at night manifested in another expedition in the murder of Lieutenant Eyre's European companion; and the want of caution, forgetfulness of the nature of barbarians, and the facilities for ambush afforded by a wilderness of trees and jungle, that have led to injuries fatal to life, as in the case of Mr. Cunningham in Sir Thomas Mitchell's expedition, and of two of his companions at another time; and in some instances, as in those of Captain Stokes and Captain Grey, that have led to results all but fatal to the explorers and their expeditions; injuries suddenly and unexpectedly inflicted on individuals straggling from the main body of their party, or venturing considerable distances in advance of it.
You are to bear in mind that it might be of some advantage throughout your expedition to keep a register of the depths at which water has been found by you, and of those depths to which you have penetrated in vain for it.
It will be requisite that you should ascertain the course of rivers of any magnitude, and direction of chains of high land, that you may meet with, and follow the same to some extent—at least wherever appearances may lead you to expect improvement of soil, a richer country, or one indicating mineral productions.
In the event of occurrences of unexpected disasters, impediments, and unavoidable accidents, arising from loss of provisions or of horses, or of any injury to the health or strength of the party, rendering it utterly impracticable for the expedition to proceed as high northward as Gascoyne River, your discretion then supplying whatever you may be unprovided for in your instructions, you will explore as far as it is possible for you to do, on your return, the country north of the settled districts of York and Toodyay; so that something of utility may be accomplished, and the great object for which this expedition was prepared may not be wholly frustrated.
I am further to add that His Excellency's best wishes accompany your party, and that the success of the expedition, and the return of all engaged in it in health and safety, will be hailed by him with very lively satisfaction.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
To A.C. Gregory, Esquire, Perth.
GENERAL REPORT OF JOURNEY.
Perth, November 20, 1848.
I have the honour to transmit, for the information of His Excellency the Governor, the following outline of the proceedings of the exploring party to the northward which His Excellency has been pleased to place under my direction. I regret that we have not succeeded in reaching the Gascoyne River, which your instructions for my guidance pointed out as the ultimate object of the expedition; but I trust that our attempts to render the expedition serviceable to the colony have not proved unsuccessful, especially as the result has been the discovery of several fine portions of good grassy land near Champion Bay, which, with the more minute examination of the country in the vicinity which had been previously discovered, will render available a tract of pasturage sufficiently extensive to relieve the present overstocked districts; the estimated quantity of land suitable for depasturing sheep being about 225,000 acres, exclusive of 100,000 acres on the Irwin, the greater portion of which, however, is better suited to agricultural purposes. The observations I have had the opportunity of making during this journey have confirmed my previous opinion, that, could the party have started in July instead of September, the chief obstacle to our progress—the want of water—might have been avoided; and although there would have been many minor difficulties to encounter, I feel assured that the same zeal and energy which enabled my party to contend so long with the obstacles which opposed their advance to the Gascoyne River, would have ensured their success in a more favourable season. The gentlemen who formed my party have my sincere thanks for their prompt and energetic co-operation on all occasions; nor can I omit to mention the cheerful and trustworthy conduct of private W. King of the 96th regiment. For minute details I beg to refer my journal and the plans of my route, which I am plotting.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
The Honourable the Colonial Secretary, etc.
LEAVE THE SETTLED DISTRICTS. STAMPEDE OF HORSES.
2nd September, 1848.
Started for Toodyay, with Mr. C.F. Gregory and five horses for the expedition to Shark's Bay; bivouacked at Worrilloo.
Proceeded to Toodyay, where Messrs. L. Burges, J. Walcott, and A. Bedart joined on the 4th, bringing six horses with them. Having had the horses shod at Ferguson's, we continued our journey to Mr. Lefroy's station, near Bebano, which we reached on the 7th. The following day the cart, with our provisions, etc., arrived, accompanied by private W. King. Having obtained another horse from Mr. Lefroy, on the 9th we left Welbing, with ten pack and two riding horses, carrying three months' provisions, etc. Steering north by west for the first twenty miles, generally grassy, we entered the extensive sandy plains which occupy almost the whole country between the Moore and Irwin rivers. The rainy season having scarcely ended, we found both water and grass for our horses every night; and, not meeting with any serious impediments, we reached the upper part of the Arrowsmith Brook on the 13th. Here the country improved, and the valleys, in which the stream takes its rise, were estimated to contain about 10,000 acres of tolerable sheep pasture. Early the ensuing day we entered the Irwin Plains; crossing the eastern branches of the river, we encamped, on the 15th, on the northern branch, three-quarters of a mile below the spot where the coal was first discovered. The Irwin Plains presented a beautiful aspect, being covered with rich grass and vegetation; the soil is generally good; but most of the grasses being of the annual species, would not afford good pasturage in the summer, and in consequence they are better suited for agriculture, while the open character of the country would render clearing for the plough a matter of little expense. While dinner was preparing, the horses, being herded, suddenly started off at full speed, in consequence of a large stone rolled down by one of the party in ascending the hill. Two of the remaining horses were immediately saddled, and Mr. Burges and myself started to catch them; in about a mile we came up with them at the foot of an almost perpendicular cliff; on seeing us they started off, and scrambling up the rocks like goats, left us far behind; we did not overtake them for several miles, when with some difficulty we captured one, but had the mortification of losing one of the saddled horses in exchange. Leaving the captured horse in charge of Mr. Burges, I followed the rest; caught another after a smart ride of three miles, but it was not till I reached the East Irwin that I could again overtake the rest, when, favoured by the steep bank of the stream, I succeeded in securing our truant steeds. It was now dark, and being unable to manage nine horses by myself, I tethered several of the wildest, and started with two of the best for the encampment ten miles distant, which, owing to the nature of the country, I did not reach till midnight. Mr. Burges had arrived about an hour previous with the horse first caught. Light showers in the morning.
Messrs. Bedart, C. Gregory, and J. Walcott started to bring in the horses; the rest of the party was employed in repairing damages of the harness, and at 3.0 p.m. the party returned with the horses. Slight showers in the morning.
17th September (Sunday).
Light clouds from the south-west; thunder; rain in the evening. Read prayers.
Left the bivouac at 8.15 a.m., and followed upwards the main branch of the Irwin to the north-north-east, through a steep and rocky valley, the sandstone hills in some parts approaching the river, so as to render it necessary to cross frequently with the pack-horses. The very level character of the summits of these hills gives the country the appearance of having been once a plain, through which the valley of the stream has since been worn by the action of water; the upper stratum is a hard red sandstone, resting on a softer rock of a sandy or clayey character, beneath which the shales and rocks belonging to the coal formation show themselves, lying in unconformable beds, and often at a very high angle. At 9.25 the stream divided into two branches, that to the east being the most considerable; at this spot the sandstone ceased, and we commenced ascending the granite range, the direction of which was about north-north-west. The soil was poor and stony, producing a little feed for stock; but it could scarcely be made available, as the country is completely covered with thickets of acacia of small growth. At 4 p.m. bivouacked on a small watercourse running through a level grassy flat, bounded on both sides by thickets of wattle.
SCRUBBY COUNTRY NORTH FROM THE IRWIN RIVER.
At 8.15 a.m. steered a nearly north course, through a country of the same description as yesterday; crossed several small gullies trending west, in some of which a little water still remained; at 4.20 p.m. halted for the night at a brackish pool in a small gully trending west.
Started at 8.0 a.m., continuing a northerly course, over a similar description of country as during the past two days, crossing three large gullies coming from the eastward, but apparently near their source. At 3.45 halted on a large stream-bed, with a few brackish or rather salt pools in its sandy channel, which was in some places nearly 100 yards wide; from our encampment we observed a very remarkable peaked hill, distant about twenty miles, and from its outline conjectured it to be composed of the same vein of trap-rock as that which forms similar ranges further to the eastward.
The scarcity of water and the very level appearance of the country to the northward of our bivouac, added to the general denseness of the thicket of acacia and cypress, rendering a continuance of a north course unadvisable, we steered north-west from 8.30 a.m. till noon, when we ascended a scrubby sand ridge, from which we had an extensive view; neither hill nor valley could be discovered to the north, east, or west—nothing but one immense sea of dense thicket of acacia and cypress was visible in these directions; the course was therefore changed to west, and continuing it without much alteration over a succession of low ridges of drifted sand, the valleys being filled with dense thickets, until 6.20 p.m., when the approach of night compelled us to bivouac in a small patch of gum forest, which also afforded a few scattered tufts of grass for our horses. Although this was the lowest spot passed in a distance of more than ten miles, it was so completely dried up and parched that a search for water was fruitless, even by digging; the scanty allowance of very brackish water in our kegs was therefore much relished by the party.
The night having been cloudy, and a strong breeze preventing any dew, our horses were not much refreshed; we, however, started at 7.45 a.m., and steering nearly west till 3.15 p.m. through a succession of dense thickets, high scrubs, and thorny bushes, we entered open sandy downs, and changed the course to south-west, with the intention of making the Hutt River, should we not find any water nearer, when, almost hopeless of procuring this essential element before the next day, we unexpectedly came to a native well in the centre of the sandy plain; here we bivouacked at 5.40, but, from the loose sandy soil in which the well was dug, we could not obtain more than about two and a half gallons of water for each horse, the sides of the well continually falling in. Strong breeze from the north-west, and several light showers in the evening and night.
Having completed watering the horses, we left the well at 9.30 a.m., and steering about north-west over undulating sandy downs, covered with coarse scrub and patches of dense thickets, at 2.15 p.m. entered a small gully trending north-west. The country improved, but was so thickly clothed with wattles as to render travelling difficult; a few patches of grass were seen in some small watercourses, in which a little water remained. At 4.40 bivouacked on a large gully trending northwards, with several small pools of water in a rocky bed of gneiss, containing numerous small garnets. Strong breeze from the north-west and slight showers.
24th September (Sunday).
Although the feed for the horses was not very abundant, yet the long marches they had encountered the last few days made it expedient to give them a day's rest to recruit their weary limbs. Read prayers. Strong breeze from the north-west and slight showers during the day.
ENTER THE VALLEY OF THE MURCHISON RIVER.
Started at 8.27 a.m.; passed over poor stony hills of granite formation and producing a little grass in tufts—the wattles growing so close together as to render travelling difficult and tedious. At 10.45 came on a large stream-bed, which had scarcely ceased to run; the channel was fifty yards wide, the bed steep and rocky, and, where crossed, ran over a dyke of trap-rock, the water slightly brackish and in long shallow pools, with samphire on the banks. This stream must be the Murchison River, as no other was passed for 30 miles to the northward; the effects of violent floods were visible, but it did not bear the character of a stream rising at any great distance inland, nor did the nature of the gravel and sand brought down by it indicate a rich soil on its upper portion, as I did not see anything besides fragments of siliceous rock and garnet sand. The valley through which it ran appeared to be five or six miles wide, extending twenty miles to the eastward, backed by sandy plains on both sides; a few patches of grass appeared in the lower parts of the valley; westward it seemed to contract and turn to the south-west, flanked by steep flat-topped hills of sandstone, resting on granite rock. Continuing north-north-east up a small valley, we passed through wattle thickets till 1.40 p.m., when we again ascended the level sandy tableland or plains, and changed the course to the north; the scrub increased in density as we proceeded. At 4.25 halted for the night in a patch of good grass, where the thicket had been burnt off by the native fires; the sandy nature of the soil rendered the search for water unsuccessful; we therefore contended ourselves with the allowance of one pint each.
Left the bivouac at 7.15 a.m.; course north; the country more open; 9.25 came on a large native well of good water in a slight hollow trending westward; having watered the horses and filled the kegs, continued our journey over sandy plains, covered with short coarse scrub; many hummocks of loose sand, covered partially with scrub, lay on each side of our track. At noon passed the last sandy ridge; before us lay an immense plain, covered with thickets, and not a hill or valley could be observed—the country seemed to settle into one vast level of dense and almost impenetrable scrub or thicket. At 1 p.m. entered it, and continued our route through it; although the bush-fires, which had burnt some large patches, greatly assisted us; 4.15 not finding any grass, we steered west, but at 5.15 were compelled to halt for the night in a dense thicket, without a single blade of grass or even scrub of any kind which could afford food for the horses; water it was hopeless to look for; and after a supper of raw bacon, damper, and a pint of water each, we retired to rest.
WATERLESS COUNTRY AND DENSE SCRUB NORTH OF MURCHISON RIVER.
At 7.0 a.m. set out on a north course; at 8.5, finding the thicket almost impassable, I ascended a cypress-tree, where a most cheerless view met my sight to the north, east, and west; not a break was visible—nothing but thicket in all directions, with scarcely an undulation of any kind; the view to the north-west was most extensive—nearly twenty miles of thicket could be seen, with a surface as level as the sea. Not considering it prudent to proceed onwards, the thicket being too dense to advance without the greatest difficulty, the saddle-bags being almost torn to pieces, and the horses quite worn out with continual exertions in dragging their packs through the thickets, we were compelled to return to the well passed yesterday morning. The country seen to the northwards was of too flat and sandy a character to give any hope of finding water or grass—and without these requisites, it would be incurring great risk of losing the horses, and of course defeating the object of the expedition; therefore, taking advantage of the partially cleared tracts of yesterday, we reached the watering place at 4.30 p.m.
This day we employed ourselves in repairing our pack-saddles, which it was found necessary to restuff, as they had been padded with coarse rushes; the saddle-bags had been torn to pieces, and the repairs of these required more time than could be afforded in an evening's bivouac.
Started at 8.35 a.m.; pursued a general course of 310 degrees, gradually ascending the sandy downs on the north side of the valley for three miles; it then turned to the north of west, and we again descended, and found the bottom occupied by a narrow samphire flat, 50 to 100 yards wide, over which the water runs during heavy rains, but it was now dry, and in some parts covered with a thin crust of salt; 11.26 passed a native well of slightly brackish water, amongst loose blocks of red sandstone; a small well was passed at 11.50; the samphire flat then changed to a small sandy channel, among large blocks of sandstone belonging to the coal-formation: in one place the slate also cropped out. Abundance of brackish water lay in small pools along the course of the stream-bed, which at 1.0 p.m. changed its direction nearly west; we followed it through a scrubby valley, with high hills on both sides, till 4.45, when we bivouacked just below the junction of a small gully from the northwards, with a very remarkable sandstone hill about three-quarters of a mile south; below this spot the valley trended to the south-west, and was bounded on the north-west by flat-tapped sandstone hills.
Not being more than ten to fifteen miles from the sea, I steered north 330 degrees east magnetic. Starting at 8.5, and having ascended the high land, passed through a thick line of wattles and dwarf gum, growing on the eastern face of the limestone range, which forms the high barren range along this part of the coast. The country was covered with thick scrub, and some patches of gum and wattle thicket; about noon it was more open, and ascending an elevated sandy ridge, saw apparently a high range of hills extending north-north-west as far as Shark Bay, and terminated by a very abrupt and detached hill; but the excessive refraction caused by the heated and nearly level plain which intervened more than doubled their real height. We descended gradually over a succession of sandy hills or ridges till 2.0 p.m., when the lowest part of the plain was reached; we found it occupied by a small patch of spear-wood; the soil was hard dry clay, but on proceeding a little farther we found a patch of moist ground, encircled by a ridge of sand; at one foot deep we found water, but in such small quantity that we could only obtain sufficient for ourselves, and should have had to wait at least two hours to have given each horse only one gallon. Proceeding onwards, in hope of finding a more plentiful supply, we found the country became drier and full of circular hollows, filled with fine clumps of green wattle and a little grass; in one of these we bivouacked at 5.0, and dug six feet for water in red sand, but without any appearance of obtaining it even at double that depth.
REPULSED FOR WANT OF WATER.
This morning started at 7.55 a.m., and steering north-west, in hope of finding water, at 8.40 came on dense thickets of wattle, which extended at least seven or eight miles farther north; we therefore turned west to avoid them; at 9.30 changed the course to 300 degrees magnetic, and with great difficulty forced our way for two miles to a narrow strip of open ground; 12.40 p.m. arrived at the foot of the range of hills seen yesterday; found them to consist of limestone and sand, covered with thick scrub; between the hills were many nearly circular hollows filled with thickets of wattles; although the bottoms of the hollows were at least fifty feet below the lowest part of the ridges around them, they were quite dry, and afforded no hope of water even by digging; the country northward appeared even less likely to afford a supply, so much required, as it seemed to consist wholly of limestone and loose sand, without swamps or watercourses; the nearest spot at which we could hope to find it in this direction was the south part of Freycinet Harbour, distant, according to the charts, about thirty miles, and great doubt existed of the accuracy of it in this position (error having been found in some other parts of the coast-line); nor was it certain that we could find water on the coast, in which case the loss of our horses would be almost a necessary consequence, several of them showing extreme fatigue. The circumstances of the case required a prompt decision; I therefore ordered an immediate return towards the last spot where we had seen water. The whole party felt convinced of the necessity of returning, though with the greatest reluctance to do so, as it seemed to put an end to almost every hope of reaching the Gascoyne River. We followed our route back, and halted at 5.30 in a wattle thicket.
A HORSE FINDS WATER.
Left our uncomfortable bivouac at 7.30 a.m.; steered south-east. Finding the horses scarcely able to travel from want of water, I took the strongest and rode over to the spot where we had obtained a little on the 30th September, to dig wells and have a supply ready, if it could be obtained in sufficient quantity; at 11.0 arrived, and found the wells we had dug nearly dry; by opening several trenches down to the rocks which lay about one and a half feet below the surface, the water oozed in, and when the party came up, at 12.0, there was about a gallon for each horse; taking off the packs, we commenced watering: four horses had received their small allowance, when it came to my horse Bob's turn; after drinking his share he marched off at a smart pace, which somewhat surprised us, as he started in the direction of what we had supposed to be nothing but a tea-tree scrub; on following him, we found the horse drinking at a small shallow pool of water in a hollow in the clay. This was a very fortunate discovery, as the trenches filled with water so slowly that a full supply could not have been obtained that night, and the horses had been sixty-five hours without water.
SAND PLAINS AND SCRUB. RETURN TO THE MURCHISON RIVER.
This morning Mr. Burges and myself started at 7.30 a.m. in a north-easterly course, to ascertain the practicability of proceeding in that direction, taking two of the strongest horses. After riding four hours over an open, scrubby sand-plain, with circular valleys, we again fell in with thickets of wattles so dense that, although burnt by the native fires about four years previous, they would have been impassable for the pack-horses; but, favoured by this circumstance, we penetrated the thicket in a north-north-west direction for about twelve miles. From one small sandy ridge we had an extensive view, but of a most discouraging nature; the whole country was one vast plain, covered with dense thickets and scrub as far as the eye could reach, except to the west-north-west, where rose a high and barren ridge, which would not have been visible but for excessive refraction, as it must have been more than twenty-five miles distant. The plain was still dotted over with the remarkable circular hollows or valleys which, by their extreme dryness, indicated a great depth of sandy soil, incapable of retaining water on the surface even for a short time, or any probability of our obtaining it by digging. We turned in disappointment towards the encampment, scarcely extricating ourselves from the thickets before it became dark. Having gained the sand-plain, we continued our return for several hours, steering by the stars, hoping by a night march to avoid the scorching effects of the sun, which at this season renders travelling over an extensive sandy plain very fatiguing. Having been more than eleven hours in the saddle, we halted for the night.
Started with the dawn, and pushing our tired and hungry horses over the plain as fast as circumstances would admit, arrived at the encampment before the heat of the day became excessive. During our absence two more waterholes had been excavated, and sufficient water obtained for the horses; but, from the great evaporation, it did not seem likely to last longer than three or four days: the hardness of the sandstone precluded our sinking the wells more than one and a half feet. The extreme aridity of the country—the absence of water in consequence of the sandy nature of the soil, which renders it impossible that watercourses should exist—the dense and almost impassable nature of the thickets of acacia and melaleuca of small growth, and the heat of the climate—all tend to prove the fallacy of attempting to explore this part of the colony, excepting during the wettest of the winter months. Under the existing circumstances, I considered it my duty not to lead the party into a position from which it would most probably be impracticable to extricate ourselves without at least losing some of our horses; and even difficulties of a more serious nature might arise, which would prevent the more complete examination of the imperfectly known country to the southward of our present position, more especially as a successful advance to the northward seemed impossible.
Left the encampment at 8.10 a.m.; steered north 135 degrees east magnetic over sandy country, covered with coarse scrub; at noon passed a narrow strip of wooded grassy land, the soil being limestone and red loam. The country again became scrubby, and, descending an open valley, came on a small watercourse at 1.5 p.m., trending south; followed it south-south-west. At 2.15 passed our bivouac of the 29th September, and turning south-west along the stream-bed, at 4.0 came on the right bank of the Murchison River, running through wide grassy flats, the stream forming large pools, some of them more than a mile in length; but, with the exception of the flats on each side of the bank, the country is poor and scrubby, destitute of trees, and the hills high and rocky, consisting of red sandstone, those to the west capped with limestone.
The horses being much fatigued and nearly starved, having subsisted chiefly on scrub for the last two days, we determined to rest them for a few days, while we examined the river towards its mouth. I started with Mr. Bedart, and tracing the stream downwards to the south-west, reached the sea after a ride of six hours. Excepting the flats and a narrow strip of land on each side, the country was very indifferent, the hills being composed of sandstone and sand, covered with coarse scrub and a gigantic species of grass, the leaves of which, instead of affording food for stock, were a source of great annoyance to our horses, being armed with sharp thorny points, and was somewhat appropriately called bayonet grass by the party. The tide flows about five miles up the river, when it is obstructed by some slight rapids; although it seems shallow, and full of rocks and islands, I think it is navigable for small boats. Above the rapids the river is a succession of long reaches of water about 100 yards wide, and wide flats covered with reeds, the roots of which seem to form an important article of food with the natives. Many springs were seen on the left bank, but few on the right, the water of which was of excellent quality. After making observations of the bar, which appeared to be practicable for whaleboats in moderate weather if the wind be south of west, we returned along the south shore of the estuary, which is about one and a half mile long and half a mile wide; it does not appear to be of any great depth. My horse being quite knocked up, it was dark before we could reach a spot where we could obtain water and grass; having come to a convenient place, we bivouacked under a large overhanging rock, as it promised to be a wet night.
At 6.0 a.m. we were in our saddles, but owing to the rocky nature of the country did not arrive at the encampment till 12.30 p.m. During our absence the party had been successful in fishing and shooting; a savoury mess of cockatoos, swans, and ducks, with fried fish, proved a welcome change to us, after living so many weeks on salt meat and damper.
8th October (Sunday).
The valley of the river being rocky and impassable above the camp, we crossed to the left bank and ascended the sandy tableland; steered about south-east from 7.45 a.m. to 11.0, when we came on the stream in a deep valley formed by almost perpendicular red sandstone cliffs from 50 to 200 feet in height, broken at short intervals by enormous fissures (their general direction west-north-west and nearly at right angles with the river), which time, with the action of water, had worn into impassable ravines, frequently extending more than half a mile back from the river, and rendered travelling very tedious and unsafe, as it was requisite to avoid the thick scrubs covering the higher land. The course of the river now changed to nearly south, and preserved the same rocky and unapproachable character till 5.0 p.m., when a break in the cliffs enabled us to descend into the valley, although with some difficulty and danger to the horses, which had to slide down the steep rocks at the risk of breaking their necks, which would have been the almost certain result of a single false step; but the descent being accomplished, they were rewarded by an abundant supply of grass and water, the latter from a large spring at the foot of the cliffs.
While breakfast was preparing, Mr. Burges and myself examined the right bank of the river, and after a short search, found a practicable ascent to the top of the cliffs, and having cleared a way through the thicket of melaleuca on the bank of the river, returned to breakfast. At 7.50 a.m. commenced ascending, and at 8.30 reached the summit of the rocky hills, and steering about south-east through a succession of thickets, rocks, yawning chasms, sand-hills, and scrub, we attained to a fine grassy flat at 12.30 p.m. The bed of the river here quite changed its character, the sandstones giving place to granite gneiss, with dark trap dykes intersecting it in a northerly and southerly direction, the dip of the strata being to the west at a very high angle, at times almost perpendicular.
A DEPOT CAMP. EXPLORE THE UPPER MURCHISON.
As this appeared to be a good spot for the formation of a depot, while we examined the upper portion of the Murchison, I proceeded up the river in company with Mr. Burges, leaving the rest of the party to guard the camp and attend to the horses. After one hour's ride we came on our track where we crossed the river on the 25th September, the general course of the stream-bed being east-north-east, its channel averaging 100 yards in width, full of rocks, small trees, and sandbanks, with many shallow brackish pools of water, with the exception of one, which was both wide and deep, where we halted for two hours to rest the horses; few of the pools seemed likely to last through the heat of summer. At 1.0 p.m. we came on a party of natives, five of whom came up to us, following us for some distance. As they seemed to prefer mimicking our attempts to speak the York dialect to using their own, we could not obtain much information; they carried kylies and dowaks, but had left their spears and shields with the rest of their party, who did not make their appearance. At 3.0 passed several ridges of red sandstone rocks, the strata dipping to the east-north-east at an angle of from 20 to 60 degrees. The granite rock entirely disappearing, the country became quite level, and covered with one universal thicket of acacia and cypress, except the very slight depression which formed a shallow valley about three miles wide, through which the river runs in a deep channel from 80 to 100 yards wide in ordinary seasons, but when in flood must exceed 300 yards, and the rise of the water, judging from the rubbish drifted up in former years, must exceed thirty feet. The valleys did not seem to be more than 100 feet below the general surface of the country (which was quite level), filled with a dense thicket of wattles; a narrow strip of large gum-trees, growing in grassy flats close to the river, marked the course of the stream. At 5.0 we halted for the night by a small pool of fresh water in one of the back channels of the river, the pools in the main bed being all brackish.
Started at 6.35 a.m., following the river, the general course being north-north-east; no change was observed in its character. At 11.20 halted to rest the horses, and again started at 1.40 p.m. At 3.40 came on a large party of natives at a fresh water pool; five followed us some miles, and were not to be satisfied until we had made an exchange of part of a handkerchief for a quantity of noolban, some dowaks, and dabbas, some of which we accepted as a token of our friendly intentions. The stream-bed turned east, and we followed it until 6.0, when we were halted for the night, having the good fortune to find a little fresh water by digging in the sand in the bed of the river, the pools being all brackish.
RETURN TO DEPOT CAMP.
At 6.15 a.m., we were again in our saddles, and continued journey up the river—the general course north-north-east. In vain we looked for some rising ground or hill from which we might obtain a view of the country, but the same sandy level, covered with dense thickets of wattles, still met the eye till 11.0, when we observed a low sandstone cliff forming the eastern side of the valley. In this direction we steered, and after pushing through thickets of wattle growing on stony ground, with small patches of salsolaceous plants, we arrived at the foot of the cliff, which was about sixty feet in height, of white sandstone, full of rounded quartz pebbles. The top was nearly on a level with the general plane of the country, which was of a most cheerless aspect. The valley of the river trended to the north-north-east for eight or ten miles, then to the east; the width appeared about five miles, and one dense thicket of wattles seemed to fill the entire space. The rest of the country was, without the slightest exception, level in the extreme, covered with one universal thicket of acacia and cypress, the latter indicating the sandy nature of the soil. As no appearance of change in the character of the country within twenty or thirty miles was visible, and we had only two days' provisions left (not having expected the stream to extend so far), and the camp at sixty miles distant, we were obliged to leave the farther examination of the river to some future explorers; but we regretted it the less as, from the nature of the gravel and sand brought down by the stream, there seemed great probability that it takes its rise in large salt marshes similar to those known to exist 100 miles east of the Irwin, if it does not actually drain them, as the general trend of the most northerly marshes seen was in the direction of the upper part of the Murchison. Under these circumstances, we returned to our bivouac of last night, reaching it at 5.40 p.m.
Started at 6.25 a.m., and retracing our route down the river, came to our bivouac of the 11th at 5.5 p.m. without any incident worthy of notice, but surprising three or four natives asleep in the bed of the stream; they were of the party seen on our route up the river.
15th October (Sunday).
Resumed our journey; passed two parties of natives; a few of them followed us some distance, and having overcome their first surprise, commenced talking in their own language, which, as far as we could understand it, had great affinity to that spoken by the natives in the York and Toodyay districts. After a smart ride of seven hours we arrived at the encampment, found the rest of the party all well, and the horses much improved by their few days' rest.
THE GERALDINE LEAD MINE DISCOVERED. THE HUTT RIVER.
The two horses we had ridden up the river requiring a day's rest, which was also acceptable to Mr. Burges and myself, we remained at the camp and made preparations to move on to the Hutt River the next day. Mr. Walcott brought in some specimens of galena, which, on farther observation, proved to be abundant.
Leaving our encampment at 9.10 a.m., we steered a southerly course, passing over a succession of low granite hills, thickly covered with acacia, to the exclusion of almost every other kind of vegetation, save a few scattered tufts of grass. At noon entered the sand-plains which occupy the high lands in this district; observed a patch of grassy land bearing south-west; proceeding in that direction, at 1.0 p.m. came on it, but found it to be a very small spot of grassy granite country, encircled by sand-plains and scrub. Continuing our course, at 2.5 struck a small stream-bed trending west-south-west; the valley in which it runs is bounded on both sides by sandy hills, covered with scrub; some patches of grass and wattles occupied the lower ground wherever the granite rock showed itself; tracing the stream-bed downwards, we found many brackish pools. At 3.45 crossed the left bank—found it running, but brackish; and at 4.20 we bivouacked at its junction with the Hutt River, which was here about ten yards wide, with narrow grassy flats on both banks. The hills are of sandstone and sand, producing little besides scrub.
Started at 7.50 a.m., steering north 140 degrees east magnetic up the valley of the Hutt, which gradually widened and improved, the hills being grassy for an average distance of two miles back from the stream, of granite formation, and thinly sprinkled with wattles; behind the grassy land the country rose into sandy plains, covered with short scrub. At 9.20 crossed to the left bank; the river trended to the eastward. At 11.10 sighted King's Table Hill, bearing south magnetic. We then descended into the rich and grassy valley of the Bowes River; this we traversed till 4.0 p.m., when we bivouacked in a small stream tributary to the Bowes. As the country passed over this day had not been previously examined, we were much pleased to find it equal to the best land on the southern branch of the Bowes, visited by the Surveyor-General and myself on former occasions.
FINE PASTORAL COUNTRY.
Messrs. Burges, Bedart, and myself rode down the Bowes to examine the country, and found it generally of good grassy character, suitable for sheep; the bed of the streams being filled with broad-leaved reeds, seems to indicate an abundant supply of water in the dry season; but the pools were very small, and the water all brackish, not even excepting the running streams. The hills are of gneiss, with garnets and trap-rock, the latter producing excellent grass of various kinds, the most conspicuous of which is a species of kangaroo-grass, but of a less woody character of seed-stalk than that found in other parts of the colony. The extent of land fit for sheep-feeding on this stream (it can scarcely be called a river) I should estimate at 100,000 acres, and Mr. Burges considered it capable of feeding about 17,000 sheep. The existence of garnets, iron pyrites, and a mineral resembling in many of its properties plumbago, specimens of which were found in the gneiss of this district, seems to indicate a metalliferous formation, and I have little doubt a further search might develop many of the present hidden sources of wealth. Near the coast we fell in with some natives (four men and five women), who were very friendly, but from their peculiar nature we were unable to accept of their civilities.
Started with Messrs. Burges and Walcott to examine the upper part of the Buller river; after passing over the country examined by Lieutenant Irby and myself in December, 1846, we crossed the granite ridge which divides the valley of the Buller into two nearly equal portions. We found the land on the left bank of the eastern branch of very good and grassy description, consisting of a range of granite hills about ten miles north and south, and two miles in width; to the east of which the high sandy and level plains commence in an abrupt line of sandstone slopes and hills. Halted for the night in the east branch of the Buller, with water in small pools and abundance of grass for our horses.
Continued the examination of the Buller Valley down to the spot where I bivouacked on the river in December, 1846; then followed up the stream for seven miles, where we dined, and then steering west-north-west, arrived at the camp at 6.30 p.m. We estimated the valley of the Buller to contain about 10,000 acres of good grassy land, and 30,000 acres of inferior feeding country; the good land is much broken into patches by that which is of indifferent quality. Timber is here, and also on the Bowes, very scarce, and the little that exists is very indifferent and small.
22nd October (Sunday).
Messrs. Bedart and C.F. Gregory walked to the hill which lies three-quarters of a mile west of King's Table Hill. The rock of which it is formed appeared to belong to the coal formation, as thin seams of black shale were seen in the rocks of which the lower strata of the hill are composed; but the natives making their appearance, it was not considered prudent to remain geologizing among the cliffs. Returning towards the camp, the natives followed for some distance, and on descending a cliff the women commenced pelting the party with stones, apparently in revenge for the refusal of certain courteous invitations, which perhaps are the greatest marks of politeness which they think it possible to offer to strangers.
Left our encampment at 8.5 a.m., and steered 150 degrees magnetic over granite hills producing wattles and good grass. At 9.40 crossed the south branch of the Bowes, after which the country was not so well grassed, except in the valleys. The lower hills were of granite; the higher red sandstone of tabular form. At 11.0 the country became more sandy and covered with short scrub, gradually rising to the south. At noon we attained the high tableland; crossed two scrubby valleys bounded by sandstone hills, in the first of which the black shale peculiar to the coal formation showed itself, with a slight dip to the south. At 1.50 p.m. crossed the Buller in a rocky channel with reedy pools, apparently of permanent character. The land improved and became grassy, and ascending the hills on the left bank, passed Peak Hill at 2.50: this is the highest part of the range between the Buller and Chapman. From this we steered south down a small grassy valley; the hills with granite bases and sandstone table summits, with excellent grass, and thinly wooded with acacia and a few York gums. At 3.15 bivouacked in a patch of excellent grass with water in small quantities.
A violent thunderstorm during the night was followed by a rainy and misty morning; the weather clearing up, we walked down to the Chapman River, which was running in a sandy channel with small shallow pools. The land on the bank of the stream was very indifferent and sandy for about a mile, when it rose into granite and sandstone hills, covered with excellent grass.
EFFECT OF REFRACTION. GREENOUGH RIVER.
Accompanied by Messrs. Burges and Walcott, I proceeded to examine the country to the eastward of our camp. Starting at 7.20 a.m., steered east over grassy hills, with granite bases and table summits of red sandstone, the latter rock forming but a poor soil with scanty feed and scrub; crossed several small gullies running into the Chapman. At 10.0 passed a large sandy hill, covered with short scrub, and halted at 11.0 in a grassy gully in the bottom of a wide scrubby valley; at 12.45 p.m. again resumed our journey, and ascending the sandy downs, at 1.15 gained the highest ridge. Before us lay the valley of the Greenough River; the white and red sandstone cliffs, which bound the valley on the south-east, were distorted by excessive refractions, which, as we crossed each sandy ridge, changed their appearance, sometimes assuming the appearance of islands with high rocky shores, then like reefs with heavy breakers, followed by high cliffs and grassy hills; but as we approached they assumed their true character of low rocky hills and cliffs, scarce exceeding 200 feet in height, and generally covered with dense thickets of acacia growing on an otherwise barren stony soil. At 3.30 came on the right bank of the Greenough River; the bed was quite dry, and had no appearance of having run since the winter of 1847. Following up the stream-bed to the north-east, passed some shallow pools of salt water; and at 4.45 observed the black coal shales at the bottom of a deep cliff, which formed the left bank of the river. At 5.0 halted for the night, obtaining fresh water by scraping in the sand by the side of a pool of salt water; we also found sufficient grass for our horses on the bank of the river.