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Title: Early Days in North Queensland
Author: The Late Edward Palmer
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
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Language: English
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Title: Early Days in North Queensland
Author: The Late Edward Palmer


Published 1903


* * *


TO THE NORTH-WEST.

I know the land of the far, far away,
Where the salt bush glistens in silver-grey;
Where the emu stalks with her striped brood,
Searching the plains for her daily food.

I know the land of the far, far west,
Where the bower-bird builds her playhouse nest;
Where the dusky savage from day to day,
Hunts with his tribe in their old wild way.

'Tis a land of vastness and solitude deep,
Where the dry hot winds their revels keep;
The land of mirage that cheats the eye,
The land of cloudless and burning sky.

'Tis a land of drought and pastures grey,
Where flock-pigeons rise in vast array;
Where the "nardoo" spreads its silvery sheen
Over the plains where the floods have been.

'Tis a land of gidya and dark boree,
Extended o'er plains like an inland sea,
Boundless and vast, where the wild winds pass,
O'er the long rollers and billows of grass.

I made my home in that thirsty land,
Where rivers for water are filled with sand;
Where glare and heat and storms sweep by,
Where the prairie rolls to the western sky.

Cloncurry, 1897.

--"Loranthus."


* * *


PREFACE.

The writer came to Queensland two years before separation, and shortly
afterwards took part in the work of outside settlement, or pioneering,
looking for new country to settle on with stock. Going from Bowen out
west towards the head of the Flinders River in 1864, he continued his
connection with this outside life until his death in 1899. Many of the
original explorers and pioneers were known to him personally; of these
but few remain. This little work is merely a statement of facts and
incidents connected with the work of frontier life, and the progress of
pastoral occupation in the early days. It lays no claim to any literary
style. Whatever faults are found in it, the indulgence usually accorded
to a novice is requested. It has been a pleasant task collecting the
information from many of the early settlers in order to place on record
a few of the names and incidents connected with the foundation of the
pastoral industry in the far north, an industry which was the forerunner
of all other settlement there, and still is the main source of the
State's export trade.


* * *


NOTE BY MR. G. PHILLIPS, C.E.

The author of this book, the late Edward Palmer, was himself one of that
brave band of pioneer squatters who in the early sixties swept across
North Queensland with their flocks and herds, settling, as if by magic,
great tracts of hitherto unoccupied country, and thereby opening several
new ports on the east coast and on the shores of the Gulf of
Carpentaria, to the commerce of the world. In writing of these stirring
times in the history of Queensland, Mr. Palmer has dealt with a subject
for which he was peculiarly qualified as an active participant therein.

Very few of those energetic and indomitable men are now left--veritable
giants they were--great because they attempted great things, and though
few of them achieved financial success for themselves individually, they
added by their self-denying labours a rich province to Queensland, which
has become the home of thousands, and will yet furnish homes for ten of
thousands under conditions of settlement and occupation adapted to the
physical and climatic characteristics of North Queensland.

Mr. Palmer was a native of Wollongong, in New South Wales, and came to
Queensland in 1857. He took up and formed his well-known station,
Conobie, on the western bank of the Cloncurry River, situated about
midway between Normanton and Cloncurry, in 1864, first with sheep, but
subsequently, like most of the Gulf squatters, he substituted cattle
therefor, which by the year 1893 had grown into a magnificent herd.

Mr. Palmer also took part in the political life of Queensland,
representing his district, then known as the Burke, but afterwards as
Carpentaria, until the general election of 1893, when he retired in
favour of Mr. G. Phillips, C.E., who held the seat for three years.

In the financial crisis of 1893 and subsequent years when the value of
cattle stations in North Queensland owing to the ravages of ticks and
the want of extraneous markets, gradually dwindled almost to the
vanishing point, Mr. Palmer was a great sufferer, and he was compelled
to leave his old home at Conobie, which was bound to 'him by every tie
dear to the human breast, and most dear to the man who had carved that
home out of the wilderness by sheer courage and indomitable endurance.

Mr. Palmer's constitution, originally a very good one, was undermined
partly by a long life of exposure and hardship under a tropical sun, but
chiefly owing to the misfortunes which latterly overtook him, and after
a few years of service under the State in connection with the tick
plague, he died in harness at Rockhampton on the 4th day of May, 1899.

Edward Palmer was essentially a lovable man, kind-hearted and genial, a
great lover of Nature, as his poems prove, a true comrade, and a right
loyal citizen of Queensland, which he loved so well, and which, in the
truest sense of the word, he helped to found.

GEO. PHILLIPS.

Brisbane, February 12, 1903.


* * *


CONTENTS.

I    INTRODUCTORY
II   THE NAVIGATORS
III  INLAND EXPLORATION
IV   EXPLORERS IN NORTH QUEENSLAND
V    PIONEERING WORK IN QUEENSLAND
VI   THE SPREAD OF PASTORAL OCCUPATION
VII  THE RISE OF THE NORTHERN TOWNS
VIII THE MINERAL WEALTH
IX   INCIDENTS OF THE EARLY DAYS
X    THE MEN OF THE NORTH
XI   ABORIGINALS OF NORTH QUEENSLAND
XII  PHYSICAL FEATURES
XIII SOME LITERARY REMAINS


* * *

[Page 1]



CHAPTER I. - INTRODUCTORY.


The pioneers of Australian civilisation in the territory known as North
Queensland have mostly passed away; they were too busy with other
activities and interests and more absorbing local topics to make notes
of the days that are gone. A record of the work they did, and their
march of progress through the unknown land, was a matter that no one
recognised as of any importance to themselves or others. "The daily
round and common task" took up most of their time, and sufficient for
the day was the work thereof. If one (however unqualified) should record
a few of those early steps of settlement, and thus help to preserve the
remembrance of events connected with the occupation of a prosperous
country, the facts would remain, and be available for those more
competent to utilise them in other ways and for other purposes. It is
well that some one should do it, and one who has experienced the
vicissitudes of Northern pioneer life, with its calls on active
endurance and its ceaseless worries would not be altogether unfit to
note the progress of a great movement, or to place on record some of
those events that helped to make up the early life of Queensland,
however unqualified the writer might be, in a literary sense.

[Page 2]

A pioneer is one who prepares the path for others to follow, one who
first leads the way. The life of the pioneer in the early days of
Northern settlement, from want of ready communication with seaports, and
the lack of means of obtaining supplies, was one that called out all the
energy, resource, and bushmanship of those who had been trained to this
life, and who had pushed far in the van of civilisation to make a living
for themselves, and open the way for others who might follow. Though the
whole country is fitted for settlement and occupation by European races,
such fitness had to be demonstrated by the residence and work of the
pioneers, some of whom did good service in the way of exploration and
discovery. By living their lives in the far outside districts and making
their homes therein, they proved the adaptability of the soil and
climate to the wants and civilisation of the European.

That there were more shadows than lights in those early days was not so
much the fault of the settlers as of their surroundings, but the best
was made of all circumstances, and the result is satisfactory. Very few
of the pioneers made wealth for themselves, though they helped to
convert the wilderness into prospective homes for millions of their own
race.

The story of North Queensland's childhood is simply one of gradual
discovery and advancing settlement from the Southern districts, where
the same severe course of wresting the land from uselessness and
sterility had been gone through. The source of this movement may be
traced chiefly to a desire for pastoral extension by squatters, always
on the move for new pastures, and to the ever roving prospector in
search of fresh mineral discoveries.

[Page 3]

First the navigator outlines the coast with its bays and islands and
openings for ports; such were Cook, Flinders, Stokes, and others. Then
the explorer appears on the scene, and discovers its rivers and
facilities for establishing the occupation of the country, and maps out
its capabilities. Such were Leichhardt, Mitchell, Gregory, Landsborough,
and many others. Thus the way is opened up for the pioneer squatter with
his flocks and herds and the attendant business of forming roads and
opening ports for his requirements, holding his own against many odds,
droughts, floods, outrages by blacks, fevers that follow the opening up
of all new countries, and losses peculiar to life in the wilderness.

Following the pioneer (or Crown lessee, as he is called) in course of
time comes a closer settlement, when the large runs become divided, and
the selector or farmer holds the country under a more permanent tenure.
Cultivation follows, whilst families reside where the pioneer squatter
strove with nature in a long struggle many years before.

The development of North Queensland has taken place since separation
from New South Wales; the period of a single generation covers the time
that it has taken to settle this large extent of country. The continuous
discovery of natural wealth, the progress of settlement, the healthy
growth of the great industries, the establishment of a system of
oversea, coastal, and inland communications, the creation of great
cities, the founding of social and educational institutions, in fact all
that makes the colony of to-day, with its potentialities of industrial
wealth and expansive settlement, have been covered by the span of a
single life.

[Page 4]

In 1824, Lieutenant Oxley discovered and explored the Brisbane River.
Redcliffe, so named a quarter of a century before by Flinders, but now
generally known as "Humpy Bong," was the original site selected for the
first settlement on the shores of Moreton Bay. Some convicts had been
forwarded there from Sydney to form the settlement, but owing to attacks
by blacks and the unsuitability of site, it was removed to the present
one of Brisbane. Up to 1839, the dismal cloud of convictism was over
this fair land before it was thrown open to free settlers.

Over 12 degrees of latitude, and as many of longitude, through a country
previously unknown and untested as to climate and soil, the course of
advancing occupation went on unchecked, until the land was filled with
the outposts of civilisation, and the potentialities of the colony were
ascertained. Great indeed are the conquests of peace; much greater than
those of war; more beneficial and more permanent.

[Page 5]

The first sale of Brisbane lands took place in Sydney in 1841, and next
year a sale was held in Brisbane; the third took place in 1843, and
there was not enough land surveyed to meet the demand, so small was
Brisbane in those early days. The upset price was 100 per acre,
although much more was realised for some lots. Even at those prices,
many buyers suffered a loss, for a commercial crisis occurred shortly
afterwards, and much of the property was forfeited, or resold at much
lower prices.

For the year 1843, the exports consisted of 150 tierces of beef, 450
hides, 1,998 bales of wool, 3,458 sheepskins, and 3,418 feet of pine
timber.

The foundations of trade, so modest at the start, have developed in one
lifetime to a nation's wealth. In 1844, in the territory then forming
the colony, there were 650 horses, 13,000 cattle, 184,000 sheep, and
scarcely more than 1,500 of a population, one half of whom were
domiciled in North and South Brisbane. At the present day, the products
of the live stock of the State furnishes employment for thousands, and
forms a volume of trade that employs the finest lines of steamers
sailing in the Southern Seas.

It is needless to dwell on the history of the dark days of bondage and
weakly infancy, which has little to do with the early days of settlement
in North Queensland, except to show the starting point. The North is
free from the stain and drag of convictism. The real life of the colony
began with the first days of free settlers, then immigrants poured in
rapidly, and the occupation of the interior advanced.

[Page 6]

With this strong growth of material progress, came also the desire for
self-government, and separation from New South Wales. This, however, was
not obtained without much exertion, self-sacrifice, and display of
patriotic energy. The history of the separation movement is long,
extending over many years, but it was finally consummated on 10th
December, 1859, when Sir George Ferguson Bowen was sworn in as the first
Governor of Queensland. The boundary line of the new colony commenced at
Point Danger, near the 28th parallel of south latitude and ran westward,
leaving the rich districts watered by the Clarence and Richmond rivers,
although much nearer to Brisbane than to Sydney, still belonging to New
South Wales. After separation and self-government, came the
commencement, in 1865, of the railway from Ipswich towards the interior.
The discovery of gold at Gympie, near Maryborough, in 1867, and the
rapid extension of the ever-spreading pastoral industry, laid the
foundation of national life in Queensland. From this solid basis, the
settlement of North Queensland commenced in earnest, with a more rapid
extension than had been seen in any other part of Australia.

Telegraphic communication was established between Brisbane and Sydney on
November 9th, 1861, and its inauguration had a marked effect on local
affairs. The immigration induced by Mr. Henry Jordan was an important
factor in the settling of people on the land in the early days of
Queensland.

[Page 7]

In 1869, Townsville was connected by wire with Brisbane, and in 1872 the
line was extended to the mouth of the Norman River at Kimberly, now
known as "Karumba," the intention being that the first cable to connect
Australia with Europe should be landed at the mouth of the Norman River,
but, for reasons which have never been made public, South Australia was
allowed to step in and reap the advantages which should have belonged to
Queensland, although we carried out our share of the work by
constructing, at great expense, a special land line across the base of
the Cape York Peninsula, from Cardwell, across the Sea View Range, to
Normanton and Kimberly at the mouth of the river.

The last service rendered by Walker, the explorer, was in connection
with the selection of the route of the telegraph line from Cardwell to
the Gulf of Carpentaria. Mr. Walker's second in command was a fine young
man of the name of Herbert Edward Young, who was subsequently telegraph
master in Townsville in the year 1871. Mr. Young received an injury in
the service which eventually resulted in his untimely death very shortly
after his marriage.

[Page 8]

Australia was connected with Europe by cable in 1872. Queensland thus
starting on its career so hopefully was nevertheless subject to periods
of depression, booms, and crises, prosperity and hard times alternated.
And then came the "salvation by gold." The discovery of gold came as a
hope and help to all, as it came to the North a few years later. It
helped to find markets for stock of all kinds and employment for
thousands, and also to extend the settlement of the land and open up
commerce with other countries, introducing immigrants or diggers, many
of whom remained and settled in the country. But the young country had
to be opened up and some degree of settlement established before mining
for gold could be carried on.

In all parts of Queensland, pastoral settlement has preceded all others,
including mining. Though the squatter is now, in the more settled
districts, becoming a thing of the past, his work being finished and his
day gone by, at the first enterprise, bush knowledge and a practical
life were the most potent factors in making known the possibilities of
the land of Queensland.

The name "squatter" was given in the early days to the pastoral tenants
of the Crown, who rented pasture lands in their natural state. The first
pastoral occupation took place about 1840, and this may be said to have
commenced the life history of the movement that made Queensland known to
the world. Large areas were occupied on the banks of rivers and creeks
where the splendid and nutritive indigenous grasses required no further
cultivation. All that the squatters did was to turn their stock loose on
them and exercise some care to prevent them from straying, or being
killed and scattered by the blacks.

[Page 9]

No country was ever endowed by Nature with a more permanent, healthy,
and beneficial pasturage than Australia, though heavy stocking and hot
dry seasons have somewhat diminished the value of this natural wealth in
some of the earlier settled districts. The chief source of employment in
the Colony of Queensland, and the leading export, is still derived from
the stock depastured on the native grasses that were found when the
State was first explored.

A company or syndicate was formed in February, 1859, for the purpose of
establishing a new pastoral settlement in North Australia. The project
was conceived in consequence of the reports of explorers who had passed
through much of the country to be operated on. These reports were from
the journals of Sir Thomas Mitchell, Dr. Leichhardt, A. C. Gregory, the
Rev. W. B. Clarke, and others. The prospectus was of a most ambitious
and comprehensive nature, and it showed an intention to overcome, or
make light of, all obstacles, and to march straight on to glory and
wealth, as well as to start a young nation on its prosperous career. The
area of the proposed new settlement was comprised within the 22nd
parallel of S. latitude, the 13th degree of east longitude on the west,
and on the north and east by the ocean, practically including what is
now known as North Queensland.

[Page 10]

The report of the Rev. W. B. Clarke, which was favourable to the
probability of auriferous country being discovered, and of rich deposits
of gold being met with on the northern rivers, was a great factor in
promoting the project of founding a settlement which was to establish a
thriving and industrious European and Oriental mercantile and planting
community. The immediate design was to commence a detailed exploration
of the country reported on by Dr. Leichhardt. The prospectus dwelt on
the advantages of thoroughly exploring the rivers and country and making
known the capabilities of the soil and climate to the capitalists of
Australia as a field for investment. The programme mapped out was:--

To proceed from Rockhampton direct to Leichhardt's camp in the bed of
the Burdekin River at Mount McConnel. To trace the Burdekin down to the
sea in canoes, taking soundings to establish its navigable capabilities;
to fix its mouth and its qualifications as a seaport. To fix the
probable head of navigation, and a favourable site for a goods depot
there. To return to Mount McConnel; thence to explore the lower Suttor,
lower Cape, and Burdekin Valley as far as the Valley of Lagoons,
ascending the river by its western, and returning by its eastern bank;
to fix the most favourable position as near as possible to water
carriage for the first establishment of pastoral stations, and to trace
the most accessible route from the latter to the former. To return to
the settled districts by a different route, viz.: to trace up the Cape
or Belyando River to its head in latitude 24 degrees, to cross the great
watershed, and to drop down upon the Maranoa, which was to be followed
to about latitude 26 degrees, where the course was to be left and a
route made down the River Culgoa, arriving in the settled districts by
the lower Condamine.

[Page 11]

By adopting this route, the whole frontier, from the Valley of Lagoons
to Gregory's last track down the Victoria (or Barcoo) would be explored;
thus, without additional outlay, deciding whether Leichhardt pushed
westward by the Victoria according to Gregory, or what is more probable,
from some point upon the Belyando or Burdekin, according to the Rev. W.
B. Clarke. The person in charge of the party was to prepare a full
report upon the country traversed, while the surveyor of the party was
to draw out a chart of the region explored, copies of the report and
chart to be furnished to each of the subscribers, who would then be in a
position individually or collectively to take measures for tendering for
and occupying the country, by sending their stock overland, and their
stores, etc., by water to the depot at the head of navigation.

The cost of the exploration was estimated at about 1,000, to meet which
it was proposed to raise that sum by subscription; unless that amount
were subscribed, the expedition to be abandoned. The leader proposed was
George Elphinstone Dalrymple. The names of the subscribers of 50 each
were: Captain J. C. Wickham, R.N., Messrs. J. C. White, John Douglas,
Gilbert Davidson, P. N. Selheim, A. D. Broughton, George Perry, W. A.
Simpson, Ernest Henry, A. H. Palmer, Garland and Bingham, J. B. Rundle,
Joseph Sharp, D. McDougal, Raymond and Co., R. Towns and Co., Griffith,
Fanning and Co., How, Walker and Co., Dennison and Rolleston, F.
Bundock, Edwd. Ogilvie, R. G. Watt, and J. R. Radfort.

[Page 12]

It was intended that a committee of these subscribers should be at once
formed in Sydney. The reasons given for the projection of a party with
such a comprehensive and magnificent scheme before it were: 1st--Because
the supply of butchers' meat was even then unequal to the demand, and
the latter increased more rapidly than the former. 2nd--Because the
demand for sheep stations as an investment for capital was far beyond
the capabilities of the settled districts; and the capital available for
speculation in Melbourne in particular, was seeking new fields for
employment. 3rd--Because the number of small or moderate capitalists who
annually immigrate with a view to pastoral pursuits could find no field
of operations within the settled districts, had to push northwards, and
in a short time would occupy all available country within practicable
distance of the most remote existing, or contemplated ports of
shipment--Port Curtis and Broad Sound.

[Page 13]

It was anticipated that other ports equal to Moreton Bay, with its
highly-favoured back-ground, Darling Downs, would be opened up by
exploration. The character of the country reported on by Dr. Leichhardt,
intersected as it was by some very interesting rivers, such as the
Suttor, Burdekin, Mitchell, and Lynd, warranted such a favourable
conclusion.

The tablelands were high, and possessed of a cool and healthy climate;
the soil on the banks of the rivers was of a rich nature, suitable for
agriculture; the pasturage was unequalled for stock of all kinds; and
the mineral prospects were favourable towards the settlement of a mining
community. All this undeveloped natural wealth lay at the disposal of
any who might enter and bring it under the magic influence of capital
and enterprise.

In their wildest moments of enthusiasm, none of those enterprising
colonists could have foreseen what a few years would bring forth. None
could have expected to see in the short space of less than thirty years
that, where the mangrove then fringed the shore, jetties and harbours
would be built, and that great ocean-going steamers and vessels from all
parts of the world would be found discharging valuable cargoes collected
from many lands; that great cities would arise adjacent to these
harbours, that land would be sold by the foot at high prices; that these
thriving towns would be the termini of many railways reaching far away
into that unknown interior which they were so anxious to explore,
bringing in the natural products of the soil valued at many millions of
pounds annually for shipment to the markets of the world, or that the
mining prospects so modestly alluded to in their prospectus would be
developed to such an extent as to produce hundreds of tons weight of
gold.

[Page 14]

These men were the pioneers of a new colony; they looked out over the
wilderness extending northwards to the Indian Ocean, and laid their
plans to conquer and subdue it to the wants of civilised man. The
promoters of this pioneering enterprise anticipated the probability of
the deep indentation of the Gulf of Carpentaria enabling direct oceanic
communication with the Western world, as well as with India and China,
to be established, and that the projected telegraphic connection with
Europe by way of Timor and Java might be extended by way of the level
bed of the Gulf, and along the valley of the Lynd and Burdekin Rivers
into the territory of Moreton Bay, thus bringing North Queensland and
Brisbane nearer to the marts of the world than any of the sister
colonies. The progress of civilisation has brought all this to pass
within the memory of those now living.

Our Queensland land policy is a legacy of the old days of New South
Wales, where the first attempt to confer a right to property in land was
by way of grant. It dates from the time of Governor Phillip, the first
Governor of New South Wales; these grants were made to any free
immigrants on certain conditions.

[Page 15]

The system of tenure by occupation began about 1825, and was the origin
of the squatting system; the production of fine merino wool gave a great
impetus to the occupation of the waste lands. The licenses were annual,
the rate of charge rested with the Governor, and they were renewable and
transferable. But much dissatisfaction arose with the administration by
the Crown Lands Commissioners who had the disposal of all disputes
connected with the new system. Hence an agitation was set up for a
redress of grievances, and this led to the passing of the 9th and 10th
Victoria c. 104--28th August, 1846. In this act power was granted to the
Crown to lease for any term of years not exceeding fourteen, to any
person, any waste lands, etc., or license to occupy; such lease or
license to be subject to the regulations thereafter mentioned. On the
9th of March, 1847, the celebrated orders in Council, framed under the
authority of this act, were issued. The lands in the Colony of New South
Wales were divided into three classes, "settled," "intermediate," and
"unsettled." As respects Queensland, the settled districts were confined
to very limited areas within ten miles of the town of Ipswich, and
within three miles of any part of the sea coast. All the rest of the
territory now comprised in the boundaries of the State was left in the
unsettled districts; but power was given to the Governor to proclaim any
portion as within the intermediate districts when necessary.

[Page 16]

The lease gave the right to purchase part of the land within the lease
to the lessee and to him only; other acts dealing with the sale of land
had been passed, and land had been alienated under them; but the leases
and regulations under the orders in Council forbade the sale of any
waste land to anyone except the lessee. When a run was forfeited,
tenders might be given, stating the term of years for which the tenderer
was willing to take it, the rent he would give in addition to the
minimum fixed by the act, and the amount of premium he would pay. In the
event of competition, the run was to be knocked down to the highest
bidder.

Where new runs were tendered for, the tenderer was to set forth in his
tender a clear description of the run and its boundaries, and also
whether he was willing to give any premium beyond the rent. The rent was
to be proportioned to the number of sheep or equivalent number of cattle
which the run was estimated to be capable of carrying according to a
scale to be established by the Governor; but no run was to be capable of
carrying less than 4,000 sheep, or to be let for less than 10 per
annum, to which 2 10s. was added for every additional 1,000 sheep. The
estimated number of sheep or cattle was decided by a valuator named by
the intended lessee and approved by the Commissioner of Crown Lands,
who, with an umpire chosen by the two, acted as a small court of
arbitration. The scheme was fitted in its simplicity to encourage
exploration on the largest possible scale.

[Page 17]

Proclamations issued by the Government of New South Wales to give
further effect to the "orders," authorised an assessment on stock
pastured beyond the settled districts, which was levied at the rate of a
halfpenny for each sheep, three halfpence for every head of cattle, and
threepence for every horse; and returns were directed to be made by
every pastoral lessee under severe penalties. Under these several acts
and orders, the Executive and the squatters came into collision, and
disputes arose as to the meaning of many clauses in the various Land
Acts; but no material alteration had been made at the time when
Queensland was separated from New South Wales, although the Constitution
Act of New South Wales, July, 1855, vested in the local legislature the
entire management and control of the waste lands of the colony. In 1859,
when the Colony of Queensland was separated from New South Wales, the
pastoral interest was in the ascendant, and this is considered to have
been made evident by the first land legislation of the new colony. The
first consideration of the new Government was legislation for leasing
and selling the land. A very large number of tenders for Crown Lands had
been accepted by the New South Wales Government, or had been applied for
and were in abeyance, and until a decision was given on these
applications, the land was lying idle and waste. One-fourth of the
entire unoccupied territory had been applied for, the result of the
energy of pioneering pastoralists, and the prospects opening up for new
pastoral settlements.

[Page 18]

The first bill presented to the new Parliament on 11th July, 1860, was
introduced by the Colonial Treasurer, an old squatter, Mr.--afterwards
Sir R. R.--Mackenzie. Some of the provisions of the old orders in
Council were followed; they accepted the unsettled districts as declared
in them. The intermediate were abolished. Applications for licenses for
a year were to be accompanied by a clear description of runs, to be not
less than 25 nor more than 100 square miles, with a fee of 10s. per
square mile. These entitled the lessee to a lease of 14 years. The land
to be stocked at the time of application to be one-fourth of its grazing
capabilities. This was fixed by the act at 100 sheep or 20 head of
cattle to the square mile; the rent to be appraised after four years for
the second and third remaining periods of five years each, at the
commencement of each period. As to the runs tendered for and still
unstocked, the provisions were extended, but lessees were compelled to
stock their land to one-fourth of the extent fixed by the act. The tide
of speculation in unoccupied land was stayed, there arose a great demand
for stock of all kinds, and those pastoralists in the south, who had
flocks and herds to dispose of, realised great prices. Afterwards the
colony passed through some troublesome years, and a Relief Act was
required; and as a vast area of the young colony had still to be
occupied, encouragement was held out to settlers to take up runs. The
Pastoral Leases Act of 1869, gave another impetus to the settlement of
outside districts, and acted as a relief to many who had taken up runs
under the previous acts.

[Page 19]

The new leases were to be for a term of 21 years, and the new Act also
dealt with leases under existing acts. Where new country was applied
for, a license had to be taken out, and a declaration made that the
country was stocked to one-fourth of its grazing capabilities, the rent
being 55. per square mile for the first 7 years; IDS. for the second
term, and 15s. for the third term. Every succeeding Government tried a
new Land Bill, some dealing with selection, land orders to new arrivals
being part of the system; but the tendency of all succeeding land
legislation down to the present day has been to allow more liberal terms
to the prospective selector. The conditions were made so restrictive in
the first days as to lead one to conclude that land selection was almost
a crime; whereas the genuine selector in remote districts has enough to
contend with in opening his land for some kind of cultivation and facing
the seasons, etc., without being forced to make improvements he will not
require.

[Page 20]

The grazing selector is a coming power in the land; a grade between the
old squatter and the small selector. The discovery of artesian water
will be a factor of the utmost importance to him as tending to assure
his position from loss by drought. The grazing selector is spreading
over the interior rapidly; and before the expiration of the leases now
in existence, more land legislation is sure to be introduced to
liberalise the terms and initiate a system for obtaining the freehold of
parts of these large grazing farms. The history of our land laws shows
them to have been simply experimental at every stage, hence the need for
repeated alterations.

It would have been a good thing for Queensland, I might say for
Australia, if a similar policy to that of the United States of America
had been followed, namely the throwing open of the public estate on the
most liberal terms and the encouragement of private enterprise in
railways.

[Page 21]



CHAPTER II. - THE NAVIGATORS.


According to historical record, the first part of Australia discovered
by Europeans, was the northern part of Queensland, and it also bears the
mournful distinction of being the first scene of their death at the
hands of the natives. Nearly three hundred years ago, in the Gulf of
Carpentaria, a boat's crew belonging to the "Duyfken," one of the early
Dutch vessels exploring there, was cut off and killed. The knowledge of
the country obtained in those days produced no results as regards
settlement, and very little addition was made to geographical knowledge
until Captain Cook discovered and made known the eastern seaboard of
North Queensland. The occupation and settlement of this large territory
was initiated by the enterprise of pastoralists from the southern
districts in search of new runs for their stock. Thus the first record
of Queensland is of the North; her growth and settlement comes from the
South.

[Page 22]

The Dutch yacht "Duyfken," despatched from Bantam in November, 1605, to
explore the island of New Guinea, sailed along what was thought to be
the west side of that country, as far as 14 deg. South latitude. The
furthest point reached was marked on their maps Cape Keer Weer, or
Turnagain, and the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria were supposed to be
a part of New Guinea. Torres was the first to sail between New Guinea
and the mainland of Australia; he commanded the second vessel of an
expedition fitted out by the Spaniards for the purpose of discovery in
1606. He sailed through from the eastern side, and he describes the
numerous islands lying between New Guinea and Cape York. It is probable
he passed in view of the mainland, and his name is perpetuated in that
of the Straits. The Gulf of Carpentaria is supposed to have been named
by Tasman after the Governor of the East India Company; and so little by
little the coast was explored, and the outline of Australia mapped out,
until Captain Cook's memorable discoveries of the east coast completed
the chart of Australia and its history commenced. The west coast had
been visited frequently by many Dutch ships, as it lay in their line of
route in sailing to Batavia. Dampier, in 1688, was the first Englishman
to land there, and his description of the country and the natives was
far from encouraging. He spoke of them as the worst people he had ever
met, and the country as the meanest. It was not until 1770, when Captain
Cook ran the east coast up from Cape Everard to Cape York, and took
possession of the whole territory in the name of King George the Third,
that the veil began to lift from this land of silence and profound
mystery.

[Page 23]

His voyage furnished the most reliable and scientific information about
the coast line of Australia hitherto published. Captain Cook had been
commissioned by the English Government to make a scientific expedition
to the island of Otaheite, as it was then called, to witness the transit
of Venus, on June 3rd, 1769. He was accompanied by Dr. Solander as a
botanist, and Mr. Banks (afterwards Sir Joseph Banks), as a naturalist.
After carrying out his commission, he sailed in search of the southern
continent. He circumnavigated New Zealand, and thence steered westward
till he sighted the shores of Australia on April 19th, 1770. After
landing at Botany Bay on the 28th of the same month, he sailed north
along the east coast to Torres Straits. He passed and named Moreton Bay
and Wide Bay, and rounded Breaksea Spit on the north of Great Sandy
Island, named Cape Capricorn, and Keppel Bay, Whitsunday Passage.
Cleveland Bay, and Endeavour River, where he stayed some time to repair
his vessel, the "Endeavour." The spot where he beached his ship is now
Cooktown, and a monument stands where his vessel was careened under
Grassy Hill. Many of the principal headlands, bays, and islands, along
the coast were named by him. Finally, he passed through Torres Straits,
naming Prince of Wales Island, and Booby Island, and then sailed
homeward by Timor and Sumatra.

[Page 24]

Captain Matthew Flinders, navigator and discoverer, gave up his whole
life to the cause of discovery, having as a young man in company with
Bass, made trips along the southern coast of Australia in an open boat,
soon after the settlement of Sydney. In 1799, he sailed from Sydney to
explore Moreton and Hervey Bays in the "Norfolk," and went as far as
Port Curtis, landing at several places and examining the country. He was
appointed to the command of the "Investigator" in 1801, and arrived in
Sydney in May, 1802; thence he proceeded up what is now the Queensland
coast, which he examined from Sandy Cape northwards. He named Mount
Larcombe, near Gladstone; surveyed Keppel Bay and other places,
correcting and adding to Cook's charts; he sailed into the open ocean
through the Great Barrier Reef in latitude 19 degs. 9 mins., longitude
148 degs., after many narrow escapes among the shoals and reefs. His
destination was the Gulf of Carpentaria, and on his way he sighted
Murray Island, where he saw large numbers of natives using
well-constructed canoes with sails; from thence he steered west,
anchoring close to one of the Prince of Wales Islands, where he and his
crew mistook the large anthills for native habitations; then steering
southwards, he found himself in the Gulf of Carpentaria, of which very
little was then known. Flinders was the first English navigator to sail
along its coasts, where such shallow waters prevail that they were at
times afraid to go within three miles of the low shores, and had to be
content with merely viewing the tops of the distant mangroves showing
above the water.

[Page 25]

There is only one tide in the twenty-four hours; it takes twelve hours
for the tide to flow in, and twelve hours for it to flow out again; and
very uninteresting is the aspect of the coast line sailing down the
Gulf. Flinders anchored near Sweer's Island, which he named, and
examined Bentinck, Mornington, and Bountiful Islands adjacent thereto,
the whole group being called Wellesley's Islands. An inspection made
here of the "Investigator" showed that there was scarcely a sound timber
left in her, and the wonder was that she had kept afloat so long;
however, Flinders determined to go on with his explorations. One island
was called Bountiful Island from the immense number of turtles and
turtles' eggs which were there procured, and when leaving on the
continuation of their course, they took forty-six turtles with them
averaging 300 lbs. each.

There is at the present day on Sweer's Island, a well containing pure
fresh water called Flinders' well, supposed to have been sunk by him,
and near to it was a tree marked by him. This tree was standing in 1866-8,
but as it showed signs of decay, it was removed in 1888 by Pilot
Jones, and sent to the Brisbane Museum, where it now is. This tree
(which is generally known as the "Investigator" tree) has a number of
dates and names carved thereon, as follows:--

[Page 26]

1. 1781, "Lowy," name of early Dutch exploring vessel, commanded by
Captain Tasman, after whom the Island of Tasmania is named.

2. 1798, and some Chinese characters.

3. 1802, "Investigator," "Robert Devine." (Devine was the first
lieutenant of Flinders' ship "Investigator.")

4. 1841. "Stokes." (Captain Stokes commanded the "Beagle," surveying
ship, which visited the Gulf in 1841.)

5. 1856, "Chimmo," (Lieutenant Chimmo commanded the "Sandfly," surveying
vessel.)

6. "Norman." (Captain Norman of the "Victoria," visited the Gulf in 1861
with Landsborough's party in search of Burke and Wills. The Norman River
is named after Captain Norman.)

In skirting the western shores of the Gulf, Flinders identified many
leading features which were marked in Tasman's chart, and which were
found quite correct. On the last day of 1802, the "Investigator" was in
sight of Cape Maria, which was found to be on an island. To the west was
a large bay or bight, called by the Dutch Limmen's Bight; and the whole
coastal line seemed to be thickly inhabited by natives. Flinders
mentions seeing many traces of Malay occupation along the shores of the
islands of the Gulf--temporary occupation for the purpose of collecting
beche de mer.

[Page 27]

Blue Mud Bay was so named by him on account of the nature of the bottom.
This bay was surveyed. The country beyond was found to be higher and
more interesting than the almost uniformly low shores of the Gulf they
had been skirting for so many hundreds of miles. Melville Bay completed
the examination of the Gulf of Carpentaria, which had taken one hundred
and five days; the circuit being twelve hundred miles. Shortly
afterwards they fell in with six Malay proas, held intercourse with the
crews, and learned that the object of their expedition was to find
trepang, or beche de mer; and as they had been trading for many years on
the northern coasts of Australia, it is evident that they must have been
well acquainted with the seas and shores of the Gulf. Flinders sailed
for Timor, and thence to Sydney, as his vessel was now utterly
unseaworthy, and reached the harbour in June, 1803.

His vessel after arrival was condemned, and Flinders determined to go to
England to procure another ship to continue his surveys of the coast. On
his way home, he was wrecked on a reef, and, returning to Sydney,
obtained a small craft, in which he made another start, but, touching at
Mauritius, was detained a prisoner for six years by the French,
notwithstanding his passport as an explorer. After his release, he set
about editing his journals and preparing an account of his researches.

[Page 28]

He completed this work, but died on the very day his book was published.
No navigator or explorer has done more than Flinders in the matter of
accurate surveys, or in the boldness of his undertakings, and his great
work for Australia was entirely unrewarded. He spent his life in
voyaging and discovery, and suffered many hardships, besides
imprisonment.

One of the largest and most important rivers flowing into the Gulf of
Carpentaria has been named after him "The Flinders."


In 1823, an expedition was sent out from Sydney under the command of
Lieutenant Oxley to survey Port Curtis, Moreton Bay, and Port Bowen, and
to report upon a site for a penal establishment. The party went up the
Tweed River some miles, and then went northward to Port Curtis harbour.
After landing in several places, a river was discovered which was named
the Boyne. The vessel employed on this service was the "Mermaid," and
finding nothing about Port Curtis suitable for a settlement, Oxley
returned south, and anchored at the mouth of the Bribie Island passage,
which had not been visited by Europeans since Flinders landed there in
1799, and called it Pumicestone River. Here they were joined by two
white men. Pamphlet and Finnegan by name, who had, with one other, been
cast away on Moreton Island a short time previously, and had since been
living with the blacks.

[Page 29]

These men piloted Oxley into the Brisbane River, which was named by him
after Sir Thomas Brisbane, Governor of New South Wales. They pulled up
the river a long way above the present site of the city, and admired the
beautiful scenery along its banks. This discovery led to the occupation
of Moreton Bay as a penal settlement, and the foundation of the town of
Brisbane.


Captain Wickham and Lieutenant Stokes of the "Beagle" were surveying the
coast in that vessel, from 1838 to 1843, an d Lieutenant Stokes
afterwards wrote an account of their journeying. They named the Adelaide
and Victoria Rivers on the north-west coast, both of which they located
and explored. In 1841, the "Beagle" was on the east coast. She passed
Magnetic Island, and sailed through Torres Straits into the Gulf of
Carpentaria on an exploring cruise. In latitude 17 deg. 36 min., they
entered a large river, which was followed up a long way in the boats,
and was called the Flinders; it is one of the principal rivers entering
the Gulf. Further west, in 1840, they had discovered and pulled the
boats up the Albert River. Stokes was astonished at the open country
found on the Albert. As far as the eye could reach, nothing was to be
seen but open extensive plains, which he named "The Plains of Promise."
The fine stream of the Albert was followed until the boats were checked
by dead timber about fifty miles from the entrance. The geography of
northern tropical Australia owes a great deal to Stokes, who wrote most
interesting accounts of his journeys.

[Page 30]

Stokes surveyed and charted the estuaries of the Albert and Flinders
Rivers, and he named Disaster Inlet, Morning Inlet, Bynoe Inlet,
Accident Inlet, and the Van Diemen River, the latter he also examined
and charted for some miles up from its mouth.

Mr. G. Phillips, in 1866-8, made the first examinations and surveys of
Morning Inlet, Bynoe Inlet, (which he found to be a delta of the
Flinders), Norman River, Accident Inlet, and the Gilbert River. Mr.
Phillips was accompanied by the late Mr. W. Landsborough, the work being
done in an open boat belonging to the Customs Department.


H.M.S. "Rattlesnake" left Portsmouth in 1846, under Captain Stanley, on
a surveying and scientific cruise. She reached Queensland waters in
1847, an d visited the Molle Passage, inside of Whitsunday Passage,
where some of the most striking and charming scenery on the north coast
of Queensland is to be found. They went as far as Cape Upstart, and
failing to find water ashore, returned to Sydney. In 1848, they returned
to the northern coasts, bringing the "Tarn o' Shanter," barque, on board
of which were all the members and outfit of Kennedy's exploring party.
Captain Stanley assisted Kennedy to land at Rockingham Bay and make a
start on his ill-fated trip to Cape York.

[Page 31]

They found cocoanut trees growing on the Frankland Islands, the only
instance known of their indigenous growth on the coast of Australia.

They rescued from Prince of Wales Island a white woman who had been four
and a half years among the blacks. She was the sole survivor of the crew
of a whaling cutter, the "American," wrecked on Brampton Shoal; she had
been adopted by the tribe, and spoke the language fluently; she returned
to her parents in Sydney when the "Rattlesnake" reached port. Professor
Huxley, the scientist, was one of the party of the "Rattlesnake."

[Page 32]



CHAPTER III. - INLAND EXPLORATION.


The cause of exploration and discovery in Australia has never lacked
enthusiastic volunteers, whether on sea or land. Like the North Pole,
the hidden secrets of the continent have always attracted men of
enterprise and energy anxious to penetrate the veil of mystery and
silence that has hung over this vast territory since Creation's dawn.
Little by little has the land been explored and opened up for
occupation; and those geographical secrets so long sought after have
been unfolded as an open page for all to study and make use of. The
records of some of the early pioneers, the motives which promoted their
search, their hardships, and their journeyings, their failures and their
endurance, will always remain an interesting portion of colonial
history.

The explorers were types of the men of a generation now gone by; they
were men who endured a thousand perils and hardships to solve the
mystery of Australian geography. By their enterprise and discoveries,
they became the forerunners of the early pastoral pioneers who opened up
the vast plains of the interior to occupation, and settled the towns and
ports of the coast.

[Page 33]

The navigators were the first to make known the outlines of the country,
then the explorers followed, starting from various points to trace its
geographical features, follow the courses of its rivers, and investigate
the suitability of the soil and herbage for the sustenance of stock. In
this manner was the path opened for the pioneer squatter or pastoralist
with his flocks and herds to settle on and portion out the land, and
turn the wilderness to profit and occupation. The skeleton map of the
country being traced out, the details were worked in gradually by the
spirit of enterprise and adventure that has always been ready in these
lands for such work.

The first land explorer of the territory now called Queensland, was, in
point of time, Allan Cunningham, botanist, explorer, and collector for
the Royal Gardens at Kew, who arrived in New South Wales in 1816. After
many journeyings on sea along the coasts of Australia, and inland to the
Liverpool Plains through the Blue Mountains, he left the Hunter River in
1827 with a party of six men and eleven horses, discovering the Darling
Downs, and thus opening the way to settlement in Queensland. He named
Canning Downs on this trip, and returned the same year. In the following
year, 1828, he went by sea to' Brisbane, and connected that port with
the Darling Downs by discovering a gap in the coast range, still known
as Cunningham's Gap. He spent most of his life collecting and exploring,
and died at the early age of 48 in Sydney. His brother, Richard
Cunningham, also botanist and collector, accompanied Sir Thomas Mitchell
in one of his early trips; while camped on the Bogan, he wandered away,
lost himself, and was killed by the blacks.

[Page 34]

Of all the explorers who have taken a prominent part in discovering the
inland territory of Australia in general, and Queensland in particular,
Dr. Leichhardt occupies the most conspicuous position, and his
discoveries have been followed by the most extensive and advantageous
results. He explored all the country on the east coast inland as far as
the Mitchell River, and on the northern coast as far as Port Essington.
He was a man of considerable scientific attainments, and his travels had
a marked effect in inducing settlement along his line of march. His
memorable trip from Brisbane to Port Essington reflects great honour on
his memory, and his name will last as long as colonial history.

Leichhardt left Sydney in 1844 in the steamer "Sovereign" for Brisbane;
he had with him Calvert, Roper, Murphy, Phillips, and Harry Broome, an
aboriginal. The party later on was joined by Gilbert a naturalist, and
one coloured man, a native. They left Jimbour on the Darling Downs, on
October 1st, 1844, crossed the Dawson on November 6th, and on the 27th
Leichhardt named the Expedition Range.

[Page 35]

Two days after that they came to the Comet River, so named because a
comet was seen there. On December 31st, the party came across the
remains of a camp evidently made by a white man, consisting of a ridge
pole and forks cut with a sharp iron instrument, probably the halting
place of some adventurous pioneers who travelled on the outside fringe
of all settlement, and who frequently made long journeys into the
unknown land.

On January 10th, they reached the Mackenzie River, and on February 13th
were on the Isaacs River, coming from the north-west, which they named
after F. Isaacs of Darling Downs. Leichhardt's account of his journey is
very interesting. It gives a description of the geological formations,
of the mountains and peaks, and also a botanical description of the
flora of the country through which he passed. He describes the game,
some of which they turned to account to supplement their already scanty
fare. The expedition passed on March 7th from the heads of the Isaacs to
another creek, which they called Suttor Creek, after Mr. Suttor of New
South Wales, who had contributed four bullocks to the expedition. The
stream enlarging with the additions of other creeks, eventually merged
into the Suttor River, which they continued to follow down, passing a
great number of native encampments on the way, and observing large
numbers of water fowl and other game.

[Page 36]

The junction of the Cape River was passed, and they camped close to a
mount which they called Mount McConnel, after Fred McConnel, who had
contributed to the expedition. Near here they discovered the junction of
the Suttor with a large river coming from the north, called the
Burdekin, after Mr. Burdekin of Sydney, who had also liberally
contributed to the expedition. The river is described by Leichhardt as
being here about a mile wide, with traces of very high floods coming
down its channel; the junction of the two rivers is in latitude 20 deg.
37 min. 13 sec. On April 22nd, after following up the Burdekin through
fine open country well grassed, they discovered the Clarke River coming
in from the south-west, called after the Rev. W. B. Clarke, of Sydney.

The course of the Burdekin River, which was closely traced, served the
little party through more than two degrees of latitude and the same of
longitude, with a never failing supply of pure water and good grass, and
then passing over some large fields of basalt towards the north-west,
they arrived on another watershed, the first river of which they called
the Lynd, after Mr. R. Lynd, a gentleman to whom the explorer was much
indebted. The first camp on the Lynd was in latitude 17 deg. 58 min.;
the country throughout its course was very rough, consisting mostly of
large granite boulders; its course was generally north-west, and the
adventurous party were now on waters flowing into the Gulf of
Carpentaria. The Lynd was followed to its junction with the Mitchell in
latitude 16 deg. 30 sec., and a marked tree of Leichhardt's is still
visible at the junction of the two streams.

[Page 37]

Although they were so far from the termination of their journey, their
flour had already been exhausted for several weeks, their sugar bags
were empty as well, they were also without salt, and had scarcely any
clothes. However, the explorer speaks in great praise of the congenial
climate they were experiencing, the weather being almost perfect (this
in June). Having followed the course of the Mitchell River till it took
them past the latitude of the head of the Gulf, it was decided to leave
it, and their first camp thereafter was in latitude 15 deg. 52 min. 38
sec. Three days after leaving the Mitchell, the party was attacked by
the natives early in the night; Gilbert was killed at once, Calvert and
Roper were badly wounded, and the whole party had a narrow escape from
total destruction. After burying their companion, they continued their
journey towards the Gulf, where the finding of salt water in the rivers
gave them great encouragement.

One river they named the Gilbert after their late companion, and after
crossing all the rivers flowing into the Gulf within tidal influence,
the party steered north-west, naming Beame's Brook and the Nicholson
River after two of Leichhardt's benefactors. They had now crossed
Captain Stokes' Plains of Promise, and were making their way along the
coast to Port Essington. They travelled through poor, scrubby, rough
country, crossing many rivers and creeks, and enduring a thousand
hardships, till on September 21st they reached the largest salt water
river they had seen, with islands in it; this they called the Macarthur,
after the Macarthurs of Camden, who had given liberal support to
Leichhardt.

[Page 38]

Continuing north-west through poor, scrubby country, on October 9th they
encamped on what was named the Limmen Bight River on account of its
debouching into Limmen Bight, and about the 19th, the Roper was
discovered and named after a member of the expedition. Here they had the
misfortune to have three of their horses drowned, and Leichhardt was
compelled to leave behind much of his valuable collection of plants and
stones; a matter that grieved him sorely. A great quantity of game was
obtained here, ducks, geese, and emus were killed every day, and made a
welcome addition to their fare of dried or jerked bullock meat. They
thickened their soup with green hide, which was considered a treat; they
made coffee from a bean found growing along the river banks, which
Leichhardt called the "River Bean" of the Mackenzie; and they were
constantly making experiments, sometimes rather dangerous, as to the
value as food of the seeds and fruits they found on their line of march.

[Page 39]

The South Alligator River was reached, and the same north-west course,
continued through rocky country, which lamed their two remaining
bullocks, and when they reached what Leichhardt considered the East
Alligator River over some extensive plain country in which large numbers
of geese and ducks were seen, they were full of hope on meeting some
friendly natives, who could speak a few words of English, evidently
visitors to the settlement towards which our way-worn explorers were
trying to find their road. Many tracks of buffaloes were seen, and one
was shot, and made a welcome change from their usual fare. Eventually
they reached Port Essington, where Captain Macarthur gave them a kindly
welcome, and after a month's rest they left in the "Heroine," arriving
in Sydney March 29th, 1846. Their arrival created great astonishment and
delight, as they had been mourned as dead for a long time. The
Legislative Council granted 1,000, and the public subscribed 1,578 to
the party, which was presented to them by the Speaker of the Legislative
Council at a large public gathering in the School of Arts in Sydney.

Leichhardt's journey from Moreton Bay to Port Essington furnished the
first knowledge we had of the capabilities of North Queensland. It was
the turning of its first leaf of history, for his journey was for the
greater part through the territory now comprised within its boundaries.
The record of his trials, hardships, and endurance, will stand
unequalled among all histories of explorations in any part of Australia.

[Page 40]

Mr. John Roper, who was badly speared in the night attack by blacks and
lost the use of one eye afterwards, died a few years ago at Merriwa, New
South Wales, and was the last survivor of Leichhardt's first trip to
Port Essington.

On a subsequent exploring trip, in which he intended to cross Australia
from east to west, Leichhardt and his party disappeared, and no definite
information has ever been forthcoming as to the fate that overtook them.
On this occasion he started from the Darling Downs, and his companions
were Hentig, Classan, Donald Stuart, Kelly, and two natives, Womai and
Billy. His last letter is dated April 4th, 1848, from Macpherson's
station Coogoon, beyond Mount Abundance, situated about six miles west
of the present town of Roma.

Traces have been discovered of their journey through a part of the
Flinders River country. Two horses found by Duncan Macintyre on the
Dugald, a branch of the Cloncurry, about 1860, were identified as having
belonged to Leichhardt's expedition, and some traces were discovered by
A. C. Gregory in latitude 24 deg, south, consisting of a marked tree at
one of his old camps. These form the only records we possess of the
ill-fated travellers. Drought may have split his party up in the desert
interior, and, disorganised and scattered, they would fall an easy prey
to thirst and delirium, for so soon does extreme thirst in a hot and dry
climate demoralise the strongest men, that hope is lost even in a few
hours, and delirium sets in. People thus distracted, lie down under the
nearest bush to die, after having wandered to every point of the compass
in search of water until their strength fails.

[Page 41]

On the other hand, the party may have been destroyed by flood, by
hunger, or by the attacks of hostile natives, a mutiny may have broken
out and the party, split up into fragments, may have wandered by devious
paths and perished in detail.

Many expeditions were sent out in search of the lost explorers, and
although not able to find any definite traces of his route, or to
account for his disappearance, they were instrumental in opening up vast
tracts of hitherto unknown territory, and adding largely to the
knowledge of the geography of the interior.

The following beautiful verses were written by Lynd, a friend of
Leichhardt's, and have been set to music:--


"Ye who prepare with pilgrim feet
Your long and doubtful path to wend.
If whitening on the waste ye meet
The relics of my martyred friend.

"His bones with reverence ye shall bear,
To where some crystal streamlet flows;
There by its mossy banks prepare
The pillow of his long repose.

"It shall be by a stream whose tides
Are drank by birds of every wing,
Where Nature resting but abides
The earliest awakening touch of spring.

"But raise no stone to mark the place.
For faithful to the hopes of man.
The Being he so loved to trace,
Shall breathe upon his bones again.

"Oh meet that he who so carest,
All bounteous Nature's varied charms,
That he her martyred son should rest
Within his mother's fondest arms.

"And there upon the path he trod.
And bravely led his desert band,
Shall science like the smile of God
Come brightening o'er the promised land.

"How will her pilgrims hail the power,
Beneath the drooping Myall's gloom,
To sit at eve and muse an hour,
And pluck a leaf from Leichhardt's tomb."

--Lynd.

[Page 42]

The following descriptions are taken from a journal of an expedition
into the interior of tropical Australia in search of a route from Sydney
to the Gulf of Carpentaria by Lieut-Colonel Sir T. L. Mitchell,
Surveyor-General of New South Wales, in 1845.

The money for this attempt was found by the Legislative Council of New
South Wales. The Secretary for the Colonies sanctioned the expedition,
which had been suggested by the leader himself, during a slack time in
his department. This trip, though it never approached the Gulf, or even
its watershed--which was its main object at starting--nevertheless
discovered such an extent of available country as to make it one of the
most valuable and interesting expeditions that were ever carried out in
North Queensland. This was Mitchell's third exploring trip, and it is
referred to now, as it relates to the discovery and opening up of a
large part of western, as well as a part of North Queensland.

[Page 43]

There is no doubt that Mitchell would have reached the Gulf waters if
his equipment had not been so cumbersome and altogether dependent on
good seasons. An account of his outfit will be interesting reading in
these times when people think little of moving from the South to the
North of Australia with any kind of a party, and his departure must have
looked like the start of a small army on the move to conquer a new
country. Sir Thomas Mitchell took with him eight drays drawn by eighty
bullocks, two iron boats, seventeen horses (four being private
property), and three light carts; these were the modes of conveyance.
There were 250 sheep to travel with the party as a meat supply. Other
stores consisted of gelatine and a small quantity of pork. The party
consisted of thirty persons, most of whom were prisoners of the Crown in
different stages of probation, whose only incentive to obedience and
fidelity was the prospect of liberty at the end of the journey.
According to the testimony of their leader, they performed their work
throughout creditably; they were volunteers from among the convicts of
Cockatoo Island, and were eager to be employed on the expedition. Some
of those engaged on a previous trip were included in this expedition.

The whole party left Parramatta on November 17th, 1845, an d crossed the
Bogan on December 23rd, that country being then settled with stations,
the result of discoveries made in previous years by the same intrepid
explorer.

[Page 44]

Their journey led them by St. George's Bridge, the present site of the
town of St. George, on to the Maranoa River, then entirely unsettled,
and this river was followed up towards its source. Touching on the
Warrego, discovering Lake Salvator, and passing the present site of
Mantuan Downs, they reached the head of Belyando. This was thought at
first to be a river likely to lead to the Gulf country, but after
following it down nearly to the latitude where a river was described by
Leichhardt as joining the Suttor from the westward, Mitchell decided it
was a coast river, and so the party returned on their tracks to a depot
camp which had been established on the Maranoa, coming to the conclusion
that the rivers of Carpentaria must be sought for much further to the
westward. Therefore, continuing their travels in this direction, the
Nive River was discovered, and this was thought for a time to be a water
leading to the Gulf, but after following it towards the south-east, the
party turned northwards, and thus discovered the far-famed Barcoo River,
which they thought was the Victoria of Wickham and Stokes. Again high
hopes were entertained that at last a river was found that would lead
them to the desired end, and that this was a Gulf River. They followed
the course through all the splendid downs country, below where the Alice
joins it, and found it was going much too far to the south to be a Gulf
river, being thus again disappointed in their expectations. Mitchell
speaks in glowing terms of the country through which they passed, and
named Mount Northampton and Mount Enniskillen, two prominent landmarks.

[Page 45]

Returning to his party, he took the route home by the Barwon and Namoi,
and so back to Sydney, which all reached in safety after an absence of
over twelve months. Mitchell's discovery of the Barcoo River was due to
a division of his party, and a light equipment, by which he could
advance as much as twenty or twenty-five miles a day, and still keep a
record of his latitude and progress.

This trip of Mitchell's led to the appointment of his second in command,
Mr. E. Kennedy, to return and discover where the Victoria or Barcoo
really went to, and to obtain further information of the mysterious
interior of the great Australian continent, and its peculiar river
system. Mitchell was famous for his exploring trips in the southern part
of Australia, and his two volumes of explorations remain a classic in
literature. His account of Australia Felix and the Werribee are most
interesting. Mitchell invariably traversed his route with compass and
chain, so that his positions can always be verified.


Edward Kennedy, who was second in command under Sir T. L. Mitchell when
the Barcoo was discovered, was appointed to lead a party to the same
districts in 1847. He followed down the Barcoo to where a large river
came in from the north, which he named the Thomson, after Sir E. Deas
Thomson, of Sydney.

[Page 46]

The Barcoo he identified with Mitchell's Victoria, which at a lower
stage is called Cooper's Creek. Kennedy intended to go to the Gulf of
Carpentaria, but the blacks removed his stock of rations left at the
Barcoo, and so he decided to return to Sydney by way of the Warrego,
Maranoa, Culgoa, and Barwon Rivers.


The Gregory brothers had successfully conducted several exploring
expeditions in West Australia before entering on those journeys in North
Queensland that have helped to make known its north-eastern parts. A
letter from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Duke of
Newcastle, to the Governors in Australia, was received, in which it was
recommended that an expedition should be organised for the exploration
of the unknown interior of Australia, stating that a sum of 5,000 had
been voted by the Imperial Government for the purpose, and suggesting
that Mr. A. C. Gregory should be appointed to the command, and Brisbane
be the point of departure. The expedition was to be conveyed by sea to
the mouth of the Victoria River, on the northern coast of Australia. It
was to be an Imperial expedition, paid for by the Imperial Government,
for the purpose of developing the vast and unknown resources of the
continent. It was called the North Australian Exploring Expedition.

[Page 47]

The preliminary arrangements having been completed, the stores,
equipment, and a portion of the party were embarked at Sydney on the
barque "Monarch," and the schooner "Tom Tough," and sailed for Moreton
Bay on July 18th, 1855, arriving at the bar of the Brisbane River on the
22nd. The horses and sheep were collected at Eagle Farm by Mr. H. C.
Gregory, and shipped on board the "Monarch" on July 31st. After some
difficulties in getting over the bar and obtaining the necessary supply
of water at Moreton Island, the expedition may be said to have started
on its responsible task on August 12th, 1855.

The party consisted of eighteen persons, the principal members being:--

Commander, A. C. Gregory; Assistant Commander, H. C. Gregory; Geologist,
J. S. Wilson; Artist and Storekeeper, J. Baines; Surveyor and
Naturalist, J. R. Elsey; Botanist, F. von Muller; Collector and
Preserver, J. Flood. The stock consisted of fifty horses and two hundred
sheep; and eighteen months' supply of rations were taken.

They sighted Port Essington on September 1st, but the next day the
"Monarch" grounded at high water on a reef, and was not worked off for
eight days, during which time the vessel lay on her side, and the horses
suffered very much in consequence, indeed, the subsequent loss of
numbers of them is attributed to the hardships endured during the
period. The horses were landed at Treachery Bay under great
difficulties, having to swim two miles before reaching the shore. Three
were drowned, one lost in mud, and one went mad and rushed away into the
bush and was lost.

[Page 48]

The "Monarch" sailed for Singapore, while the "Tom Tough" proceeded up
the Victoria River, where Mr. Gregory and some of the party took the
horses by easy stages to meet them, as they were so weak from the
knocking about on the voyage that they had frequently to be lifted up.
This little trip occupied three weeks before they joined the party on
the schooner. When they met, it was to learn that mishaps had again
occurred, the vessel had grounded on the rocks, and much of the
provisions had been damaged by salt water; the vessel had also suffered
injury; some of the sheep had died from want of water, and the rest were
too poor to kill. The record is one continuous struggle with misfortune,
but owing to good generalship and patience, progress was made, and the
main objects of the expedition being constantly kept in view, each step
taken was one in advance.

After the horses had recovered a little from their journey, Mr. Gregory
and a small party made an exploring trip towards the interior, and to
the south to latitude 20 deg. 16 min. 22 sec., passing through some
inferior country, and touching the Great Sandy Desert seen by Sturt, red
ridges of sand running east and west, covered with the inhospitable
Triodia or Spinifex grass. As his object was to visit the Gulf country,
he retraced his steps to the camp on the Victoria River; and after
adjusting matters there, dividing his party and sending the vessel to
Coepang for supplies, with directions to come to the Albert River, he
started on his journey to the Gulf of Carpentaria on June 21st, 1856.
His party comprised the two Gregorys, Dr. Mueller, Elsey, Bowman, Dean,
and Melville, seven saddle and twenty-seven pack-horses, with five
months' provisions.

[Page 49]

They followed down the Elsey River to the Roper, so called by
Leichhardt, and passed a camp of some explorers some six or seven years
old, where trees had been cut with sharp axes. They reached the
Macarthur River on August 4th, after passing through much poor country
covered with inferior grasses. Their track skirted the tableland, and as
the journal states, the country was barren and inhospitable in the
extreme. The Albert River was reached on August 30th, 1856, and not
finding any traces of the "Tom Tough" having been there, the explorer
started from that point to Moreton Bay. Coming to a large river, which
Leichhardt thought to be the Albert, Mr. Gregory named it after the
great explorer, and it is now known as the Leichhardt. This river they
crossed, and travelled east-south-east. After crossing the Flinders
River, where the country consisted of open plains, the party travelled
east-north-east through a flat ti-tree country, north of what is now the
Croydon goldfield, a barren, flat, and dismal prospect. Gregory says in
his journal, that had the season been earlier, he would have preferred
travelling up the Flinders, and turning to the Clarke from its upper
branches.

[Page 50]

However, they moved on to the Gilbert River, and followed it up through
rocky defiles and rough granite country till they reached the Burdekin'
River on October 16th; the next day they passed one of Leichhardt's
stopping places, where he camped on April 26th, 1845, in latitude 19 deg.
37 min. S. They were living on horseflesh at this time, and mention is
made of a horse that had not carried a pack since leaving the Gilbert,
being killed for food, and its flesh dried in the sun, forming what is
called jerked meat, an article well known to early pioneers when salt
was absent. They frequently saw the blacks, who mostly ran away at the
sight of the horses, probably the first they had ever seen; but no
casualty happened during the whole trip, owing to the good management of
the leader, and the caution always shown where danger was likely. On
October 30th they camped near the Suttor River, with Mount McConnell in
view. After the junction of the Suttor and Burdekin Rivers had been
passed, the Suttor was followed up past the latitude of Sir Thomas
Mitchell's camp on the Belyando, and thus his route connected up with
Dr. Leichhardt's. They left the Belyando, and on November 8th, killed
the eleven months' old filly, born on the Victoria River after landing,
the flesh was cured by drying, and the hair scraped off the hide, which
was made into soup. They passed the Mackenzie River, went on to the
Comet, below the junction, and found a camp of Leichhardt's party on
their second journey.

[Page 51]

They reached the Dawson River, and following a dray track, they came
again in contact with civilisation at Connor and Fitz's station, where
they were hospitably received. They then travelled past Rannes (Hay's
station), Rawbelle, Boondooma, Tabinga, Nanango, Kilcoy, Durundur,
reaching Brisbane on December 16th, 1856.


Mr. A. C. Gregory's expedition in search of Leichhardt was equipped by
the New South Wales Government. The objects of this expedition were
primarily to search for traces of Leichhardt and his party, and secondly
the examination of the country in the intervening spaces between the
tracks of previous explorers. The. expedition was organised in Sydney,
and made a start from Juandah, on the Dawson River, on March 24th, 1857.
They crossed the dense scrubs and basaltic ridge dividing the Dawson
waters from those trending to the west, flowing into the basin of the
Maranoa River. The Maranoa was reached in latitude 25 deg. 45 min., and
they followed it up to Mount Owen, advanced to the Warrego River,
westward from there to the Nive, and pursued a north-north-west course to
the Barcoo River, then called the Victoria. As the captain of the
"Beagle" had discovered and named the Victoria River on the northwest
coast first, the name of Sir T. Mitchell's river was changed to the
Barcoo, a native name.

[Page 52]

When Mr. Gregory traversed this fine country, one of those devastating
periodical droughts that visit this inland territory now and again, must
have been prevailing for many months, and had left the land a
wilderness. That land Mitchell had described in 1846 in glowing language
as the fairest that the sun shone on, with pastures and herbage equal to
all the wants of man, and water in abundance covered with wild fowl.
When Gregory passed through it in 1857, it was bare of all vegetation,
there was scarcely any water in the bed of the river, and that only at
long intervals, nothing but the bare brown earth visible.

In latitude 24 deg. 35 min. S., longitude 136 deg. 6 min., a Moreton Bay
ash tree was discovered with the letter (or mark) "__|" cut in, and the
stumps of some small trees cut with an axe, evidently one of
Leichhardt's camps, but no further traces could be discovered, though
both sides of the river were followed down. The Thomson River was
reached and followed up to latitude 23 deg. 47 sec., and here they were
compelled to retrace their steps owing to the terrible state of the
country through drought; it being impossible to travel either north or
west, although at that time the country was not stocked. The
far-reaching plains were devoid of all vegetation except for
drought-resisting herbage. The principal object of their journey had to
be abandoned and a southerly course taken, as it was considered madness
to travel into the sandy desert bordering on the river during such a
season.

[Page 53]

So, with horses weakened by hard living, they followed down the Thomson,
over dry mud plains that wearied both man and beast, and across stony
desert ridges to Cooper's Creek and to Lake Torrens. Before reaching the
branch of Cooper's Creek called Strezlecki Creek by Captain Sturt, they
saw the tracks of two horses lost by that explorer in this locality
years before. Their course was continued south-south-west towards Mount
Hopeless at the northern extremity of the high ranges of South
Australia, which had been visible across the level country at a distance
of sixty miles. Eight miles beyond Mount Hopeless, they came to a cattle
station, recently established by Mr. Baker. After that they proceeded by
easy stages to Adelaide. It is, perhaps, with reference to the physical
geography of Australia that the results of the expedition are most
important, as by connecting the explorations of Sir T. Mitchell,
Kennedy, Captain Sturt, and Eyre, the waters of the tropical interior of
the eastern portion of the continent were proved to flow towards
Spencer's Gulf, if not actually into it, the barometrical observations
showing that Lake Torrens, the lowest part of the interior, is decidedly
below sea level.+

[+ There is reason to believe from later and more detailed surveys that
Lake Torrens is not below the level of the sea.]

[Page 54]

As the people of Victoria were desirous of taking part in the
explorations of Northern Australia, a most elaborate and expensive
expedition was organised to travel across Australia from Melbourne to
the Gulf of Carpentaria. Great credit is due to the enterprise of the
people and the Government of Victoria for this display of public spirit,
for, apparently, Victoria had less to gain than any of the other
colonies by geographical discoveries in the interior. Robert O'Hara
Burke was appointed leader, G. J. Landells second, and W. J. Wills third
in command. Burke and Wills and two others reached the Gulf, and named
the Cloncurry River; but the notes of the trip do not give much
information as to the journey or the country travelled through. The
expedition left Melbourne on August 20th, 1860, fifteen men in all,
provided with twelve months' provisions, making twenty-one tons of
goods. The party was too large and cumbersome, and the time of year was
badly chosen for a start; there were no bushmen with them, and the
leader was a man unfamiliar with bush life, though full of devotion to
the cause he had taken in hand. The record of the trip is one full of
disaster, arising from mistakes that could have been avoided had men
competent for the task been chosen. They started from Cooper's Creek,
where Brahe was left with a depot store, while Burke, Wills, King, and
Grey with three months' provisions set out for the Gulf on December
16th, 1860. The party that had been so well equipped in every way on
leaving Melbourne, was reduced to too small a compass when the critical
time for action arrived.

[Page 55]

They followed the edge of the stony desert to the point reached by Sturt
on October 21st, 1845, and then steered for the Gull of Carpentaria,
at the mouth of the Flinders. After passing through the Cloncurry
Ranges, the little party followed one of the tributaries of that river,
one that had numerous palm trees on its banks, which must have been
either the Corella or Dugald, to the west of the Cloncurry River, and on
February 11th, 1861, in the middle of the wet season, Burke and Wills
reached tidal water in the Gulf, on the right bank of the Bynoe River,
which is a delta of the Flinders River. Thus the object of the
expedition was attained. On the return journey, Grey died through
exhaustion and weakness. The ground was very heavy for walking owing to
the rains, and the only horse had to be abandoned, while the camel was
almost too weak to travel, even without any load. Burke, Wills, and King
arrived at Cooper's Creek on April 21st, having been absent four and a
half months on their trip. They found the depot had been deserted that
morning by Brahe; he, however, had remained several weeks beyond the
time he was instructed to stay. Instead of following on his tracks,
Burke decided on starting via Mount Hopeless to Adelaide, but not
finding water, they returned to Cooper's Creek, growing weaker every
day. Their last camel died, and they were forced to live on the seeds of
the Nardoo (Marsilea quadrifida), which, however, gave them no
strength.

[Page 56]

The blacks treated them kindly, but they left the creek, and then came
the mournful end. Burke and Wills died, and Hewitt's search party found
King, the only survivor of the little band, wasted to a shadow in a camp
of the blacks. As no proper record of the journey, or description of the
country was made, and in the diary many gaps occur of several days
together, the expedition was barren of scientific results. There is
merely the fact of visiting the shores of the Gulf, and returning to
Cooper's Creek, under the most distressing circumstances and hardships.
Although successful in the main, it is a record of sorrow, despondency,
and a sacrifice of life. On this expedition camels were used for the
first time in Australia. Until the fate of Burke became known, many
efforts were made to discover what had become of him, and to this end,
there were five exploring parties sent out in search of him. They were
Howitt's, Walker's, Landsborough's, Norman's, and McKinlay's, and their
discoveries led to an important increase in the knowledge of Australia.


Mr. A. W. Howitt's party proceeded to the spot where Brahe had kept the
depot, and seeing no traces there of the missing party (although they
had dug up the stores left), he searched down the river, and they came
on King sitting in a hut which the blacks had made for him. He presented
a melancholy appearance, wasted to a shadow, and hardly to be recognised
as a civilised being except by the remnants of clothes on him; this was
on September 15th, 1861.

[Page 57]

As soon as King was a little restored, they looked for Wills' remains,
and having found them, gave them burial, marking a tree close by; a few
days afterwards Burke's bones were found and interred. They called all
the blacks around, and presented them with articles such as tomahawks,
knives, necklaces, looking glasses, combs, etc., and made them very
happy indeed. When the sad story was revealed there was much sorrow and
grief throughout Victoria; and it was agreed that Mr. Howitt should go
back and bring down the bodies for a public funeral in Melbourne. A
large sum of money was voted to the nearest relatives of Burke and
Wills, and a grant made to King sufficient to keep him in comfort for
life. A searching inquiry was made into the circumstances relative to
the conduct of some of the officers of the expedition, and a few of them
were severely censured for neglect of duty in not properly supporting
the leader.


One of the expeditions in search of Burke and Wills was led by John
McKinlay, who travelled through a great part of North Queensland, and
reported favourably on its capacity for settlement. He started from
Adelaide in August, 1861, and arrived at the Albert River in May, 1862,
thus crossing the continent a second time. He was a bushman well fitted
for such an enterprise by experience, endurance, and decision. The
second in command was W. O. Hodgkinson, subsequently Minister for Mines
in Queensland.

[Page 58]

McKinlay found a grave near Cooper's Creek which he examined, and found
a European buried there, which he understood from the natives to be a
white man killed by them, but afterwards it was known to have been
Gray's burial place. The party made an excursion into the melancholy
desert country described by Sturt many years before, consisting of dry
lakes, red sand hills, and stones. They travelled through to the
Cloncurry district, and onwards to the Gulf, passing through country now
under occupation, Fort Constantine, Clonagh, and Conobie being the
principal stations there, and thence over the Leichhardt River to the
Albert, which was reached on May 13th. McKinlay expected to receive
supplies from the "Victoria," but she had sailed three months before,
and thus short of provisions and generally hard up, he had to tackle a
long overland journey to the settlements on the eastern side of North
Queensland, a most trying and harassing undertaking, which, however, he
accomplished successfully. He had first to eat the cattle, then the
horses, then the camels. They killed their last camel for food--it was
called "Siva"--and it proved a saviour, as they arrived at Harvey and
Somer's station, on the Bowen, with their last piece of camel meat, and
one horse each left. They had a hard rough trip from the Gulf,
travelling in by the Burdekin, and McKinlay proved himself a daring and
most persevering and experienced explorer. The McKinlay River--a branch
of the Cloncurry--and the township of McKinlay are named after him.

[Page 59]

Though not pertaining to any exploration or discovery connected with
North Queensland, it will be interesting to refer shortly to the Horn
Exploring Expedition which was carried out on a scientific basis to make
known the country in the more central part of the Australian continent.
The scientific exploration of central Australia, or that part known as
the Macdonnell Ranges, had long been desired by the leading scientific
men of Australia. The party consisted of sixteen in all, with twenty-six
camels, and two horses, and made a final start from Oodnadatta (which is
the northern terminal point of the railway from Adelaide), on May 6th,
1894.

In the very centre of the continent there exists an elevated tract of
country known as the Macdonnell Ranges. These mountains, barren and
rugged in the extreme, rise to an altitude of nearly 5,000 feet above
sea level, while the country surrounding them has an elevation of about
2,000 feet above the sea level, and slopes away towards the coast on
every side, which at no point is nearer than 1,000 miles. The mountains
are at the head of the Finke River; the region is called Larapintine
from the native name of the river. The existence of these ranges saves
that portion of the continent from being an absolute desert, as they
catch the tropical showers, which flow down the sides of the mountains,
and cause inundations in the low country, and a spring of grass, which,
however, is not permanent, the rainfall being from five to twelve inches
annually.

[Page 60]

These ranges measure, from east to west, about 400 miles, with a width
of from twenty to fifty miles, the entire area covering more than 10,000
square miles of country. Apart from these ranges, there are several
remarkable isolated masses, about 32 miles S.S.W. from Lake Amadeus.
Rising like an enormous water-worn boulder, half buried in the
surrounding sea of sand hills, is that remarkable monolith known as
"Ayers' Rock." Its summit can be seen more than forty miles away, as it
rises about 1,100 feet above the surrounding plain. The circumference at
its base is nearly five miles, and its sides are so steep as to be
practically inaccessible, although Mr. W. C. Gosse. the explorer,
succeeded with great difficulty in ascending it. It is quite bare of
vegetation, except a few fig trees growing in the crevices. Fifteen
miles west of Ayers' Rock is another remarkable mountain mass called
Mount Olga, rising to 1,500 feet from the plain. The Finke River flows
south from these Macdonnell Ranges towards Lake Eyre, and water is only
found after floods. Both alluvial gold and quartz reefs are found in the
ranges. Professor Ralph Tate, of the University of Adelaide, and Mr. J.
A. Watt, of the Sydney University, assisted in drawing up the report.

[Page 61]



CHAPTER IV. - EXPLORERS IN NORTH QUEENSLAND.


The second journey of Edmund Kennedy, in 1848, was confined to the east
coast of North Queensland, and is one of the most mournful narratives of
disaster and death; only three of the party returning out of the
thirteen that started.

The party was hampered with an unsuitable outfit of drays, as well as
some undesirable men, unused to the bush and out of accord with the
objects of an exploring expedition.

The members of a party going into an unknown country have to depend on
the fidelity of each to all, and according to the devotion displayed by
each, so will success or failure attend the expedition. Kennedy had men
in his party he had better have left behind.

His troubles and trials commenced after landing at Rockingham Bay, near
the site of the present town of Cardwell, in trying to pass over swamps,
and then cutting his way through tangled, dark, vine-scrubs to the
summit of the steepest ranges in North Queensland. They were obliged to
leave their carts and harness behind, and wasted much time in looking
for a place to ascend the ranges.

[Page 62]

They quarrelled with the blacks soon after starting, and some of the men
took fever. They reached the Herbert, and went into the heads of the
Mitchell and Palmer Rivers, passing over the site of the Palmer
goldfield. Here the strength of the party began to fail, and horse flesh
was their main dependence for food. At Weymouth Bay, Carron and seven
men were left, all sick with disappointment and hardship, and in a low
state of health. Kennedy and Jacky, with three men, pushed on along the
coast northwards to Cape York. One man was wounded by a gun accident,
and he and the other two were left at Pudding Pan Hill, and were never
heard of again. The leader and Jacky went on, intending to return to the
scattered party. They were followed by hostile blacks, who speared the
horses, and afterwards mortally wounded Kennedy himself, who died in
Jacky's arms. Jacky himself was also speared, but he buried his leader
in a grave dug with a tomahawk, and after many hairbreadth escapes and
much privation, he reached the northern shore, where the "Ariel" was
waiting for the arrival of the party. Only one man, and he an
aboriginal, endured to the end, and but for his keen bush knowledge,
courage, and splendid devotion, neither of the two other survivors would
have been rescued, nor any tidings of the mournful fate of the party
have been made known to the world. The "Ariel" sailed to Weymouth Bay,
and found the two men, Carron and Goddard, barely alive, the only
survivors of the eight left there by Kennedy.

[Page 63]

Kennedy's papers planted in a tree by Jacky, were afterwards recovered
by him. When the nature of the country through which Kennedy travelled
is understood and its difficulties known, it is no wonder that mishaps
occurred to him. Stony mountainous country, thick dark scrubs, long
dense grass, with tribes of fierce blacks ready to throw a spear on
every occasion, were enough to tax the capacity of any leader, without
the accompaniment of sickness, want of rations and disorganisation.


E. KENNEDY.

His task is ended, his journeying o'er,
He rests in the scrub, by that far northern shore:
By the long wash of the Coral Sea,
Brave Kennedy sleeps now quietly.

Not lonely he lies in his last bed,
For loving memories o'erbrood his head:
Kindly to him, the tall ferns lean,
In love, their fellowship of green.

Sweetly for him, the bird's deep song.
Is sung when summer days are long;
Soft drips the dew in the morning sun.
Rest harassed one, thy task is done.

His native friend, faithful to death,
Stayed by him to his latest breath;
Nor thought he had himself to save.
Till he had made his leader's grave.


[Page 64]

Mr. W. Landsborough left Brisbane in the brig "Firefly" on August 24th,
1861, in company with the colonial warship "Victoria," taking the outer
passage. Rough weather on the voyage caused distress and a loss of seven
horses out of thirty, and they were compelled to seek refuge inside the
Barrier Reef at Hardy's Island. The brig grounded broadside on the reef;
the masts had to be cut away to save the vessel; and the horses were
landed through a large hole cut in the side of the ship. After some
delay, the "Victoria" appeared in sight, towed the crippled craft off,
and proceeded with her in tow in order to carry out the objects of the
expedition. Passing through Torres Straits, they called at Bountiful
Island and obtained a good supply of turtles, anchoring in Investigator
Roads, situated between Bentinck and Sweer's Islands. Landing on Sweer's
Island, they found the wells left by Flinders in 1802, also the
"Investigator" tree. After clearing the sand out of the wells, the water
was found fresh and good. Mr. Landsborough made a preliminary survey of
the Albert River to find a site for landing his horses and for starting
on his overland journey.

The Albert had not been surveyed since Captain Stokes had ascended it as
far as Beanie's Brook in 1842, but being known, it was appointed a
rendezvous for exploring parties. They found no traces of Burke having
visited this spot. The hulk of the "Firefly" was towed up the Albert,
and used as a depot for the expedition, and this was her last voyage.

[Page 65]

The writer saw her early in 1865; she was then in an upright position,
close to the left bank of the river, with the tide flowing in and out
where the side had been cut open for the horses to land on the reef. The
horses soon recruited after landing, the grass round the depot being
excellent. They now got ready for a start to Central Mount Stuart,
leaving the "Victoria" to wait ninety days for their return. The party
consisted of Mr. Landsborough, Messrs. Campbell and Allison, and two
blackboys, Jimmy and Fisherman. Their horses had improved so much that
they gave a lot of trouble at first, throwing their packs and scattering
the gear over the plains, but they soon quietened down to work. The
little expedition followed mainly the Gregory River towards its source,
and were much surprised to find a beautiful river with a strongly
flowing stream and long reaches of deep water, overhung by pandanus,
cabbage-palm, and much tropical foliage. They soon discovered the use of
the heart of the palm as a vegetable, though it can only be obtained by
the destruction of the tree. Blacks were frequently seen, observing
their movements, looking on at a distance, as they usually do at the
first sight of a white man; but they did not attempt to interfere with
them. The Gregory River is distinct from most of the Gulf rivers. The
luxuriant foliage along its banks, cabbage-palms, Leichhardt trees,
cedar and pandanus, denote the permanency of the running water, while
level plains, covered with fine pasture grasses, extend on either side
for scores of miles.

[Page 66]

They named the Macdam, an anabranch of the Gregory, and observing a
river joining on the right side of the Gregory, called it the
O'Shannassey; the source of the flowing stream that made the river so
useful and picturesque was shortly afterwards found, where a large body
of clear water fell over some basaltic rocks, showing that springs
caused the flow, and not summer rains in the interior as was thought at
first. This is not the only instance in North Queensland where running
streams flow from springs bursting forth from the basaltic table lands.
Above the source of the water, the Gregory partook of the character of
other Gulf rivers, dry sandy channels, dependent for their supply of
water on tropical rains. They followed up the now dry river, and reached
a fine tableland over 1,000 feet above sea level, which was called
Barkly's Tableland, after Sir Henry Barkly, late Governor of Victoria.
Open basaltic plains, covered with the very finest pastures now met them
everywhere, though water was scarce. After journeying across the open
country southwards, a river was found, which was called the Herbert; it
flowed in the opposite direction to the tributaries of the Gregory.
Following down the Herbert, they spent Christmas Day on a sheet of water
called Many's Lake, and lower down Francis Lake was seen; still lower
down grass and water both became so scarce as to induce the leader, much
against his will, to abandon the project of reaching Central Mount
Stuart.

[Page 67]

In latitude 20 deg. 17 min., and longitude 138 deg. 20 min., he was
compelled to retrace his steps. It was a season of drought, no water
having come down the Herbert, and being limited to time to meet Captain
Norman at the Gulf in ninety days, forty-three of which had already
passed, no resource was left but to return by the route they had come.
They followed the right bank of the Gregory River, and met a large
number of natives, who threatened them on several occasions, but the
little party of five passed through without any mishap, owing in a great
measure to the care taken by the leader, who was well aware of the good
old bush maxim of always being prepared and never giving a chance away.
In following the Gregory, they ran Beame's Brook, which forms the head
of the Albert, down on the right bank. This is an effluent from the
Gregory, and is one of the most remarkable streams in Queensland. It is
very little below the level of the adjoining plains, and is a clear
stream of pure water, overshadowed by cabbage-palms, pandanus, and
ti-trees; it traverses the plains some fifty or sixty miles before it
flows into the Albert. It is said the blacks can turn the water out of
this channel by blocking up the exit from the main stream with stiff
mud, and thus catch fish that may be left in the holes. The little
channel is boggy in its course, and the country is subject to great
floods in the wet season. The party came to the depot, and found all
well, and there learnt that Mr. F. Walker, another explorer, had been
there and reported finding Burke's tracks on the Flinders, about seventy
miles distant; and having restocked himself with some provisions, had
left to follow up the traces.

[Page 68]

After three weeks' detention, and arranging matters with Captain Norman,
Landsborough took his departure with his party, intending to go right
through to Melbourne. Their supply of rations was of the most miserable
kind, not even as good as prison fare. The stores provided for the
expedition were ample for all requirements, but they were refused tea,
sugar, and rum. Starting on a long hazardous overland journey of unknown
duration, the inadequate outfit accorded to these enterprising men from
a steam vessel within a fortnight's sail of a commercial port, was
unjustifiable, and must be condemned.

The expedition left the Albert on February 8th, 1862, a party of six,
Mr. Landsborough, Mr. Bourne, and Mr. Gleeson, with three blackboys,
Jimmy, Fisherman, and Jacky, and twenty-one horses, whilst there was a
continent to cross before they could reach their destination. The tracks
of Walker's party were just discernible, as they followed a course that
took them to the Leichhardt River, over level plains covered with
flooded box and excaecaria, commonly called "gutta percha," one of the
Euphorbia family; these plains are subject to floods, and are very much
water-logged during the rainy seasons on account of their being so
level.

[Page 69]

The grass grows in great tussocks, showing only the tops above the water
for many miles, and these were the "Plains of Promise" of which so much
was expected from the reports of the early explorers. They crossed at
the bar of rocks at what is now Floraville, and directed their course to
the Flinders River, eastward through Newmayer Valley, and on past
Donor's Hills, so' named in honor of an anonymous contributor, a
Melbourne gentleman, who gave 1,000 to the exploration fund. In
following the right bank of the Flinders, they passed Fort Bowen. a
small mount rising abruptly from the plains near the right bank of the
river, which was called after the first Governor of Queensland. Many
springs were met with surrounding the base of the little mountain
forming mounds on the top of which water may be found. The nature of the
ground in places is very treacherous; the water has a strong taste of
soda, and is quite undrinkable in some of the springs. About twenty
miles south-east from Fort Bowen are two similar small mountains, Mount
Browne, and Mount Little (now forming part of Taldora run), at which
springs similar to those at Fort Bowen are also to be met with. These
small mountains, the highest of which is only seventy-five feet above
the surrounding plain, were named by Mr. Landsborough after a firm of
solicitors in Brisbane, the Hon. E. I. C. Browne, and Robert Little. The
latter subsequently became the first Crown Solicitor of Queensland, but
both gentlemen are now dead.

[Page 70]

The ground in places is dangerous, for under the light crust, that
shakes and bends beneath the weight of a horse, are depths of soft mud,
sometimes of a bluish colour, that would engulf both horse and rider.
One spring is hot, the water at the surface being 120 deg., evidently a
natural artesian well. Heavy tall ti-trees surround all these mud
springs, and also innumerable small mounds that are the result of the
pressure of water from the great depths below. The whole extent of
country travelled through consists of open treeless plains, covered with
good pasture grass, and occasionally some small white wood trees
(atalaya hemiglauca). As the river ran in the direction they were
travelling, they followed it up, and about where Richmond now stands,
they saw the fresh tracks of a steer or cow making south, supposed to
have wandered from some of the newly formed stations towards the
Burdekin. After this, the river trending too much to the east, they
crossed the divide, thus leaving the Gulf waters behind them. The change
occurs in an open downs country without any ranges to cross. A
watercourse called Cornish Creek took them to the Landsborough, and
following it down to the Thomson River, they passed Tower Hill, where
Mr. Landsborough had been exploring before, and had left his marked
trees. Travelling southwards, they made for the Barcoo, and thence to
the Warrego, and on May 21st they came to a station of the Messrs.
Williams where they were received in a most cordial manner. They were
now about eight hundred miles from Melbourne, and seven hundred from
Brisbane, and it was decided to make for Melbourne by following the
Darling.

[Page 71]

McKinlay and Landsborough on their return were the recipients of a
public demonstration by three thousand people in the Melbourne
Exhibition Building, and had a splendid reception.

Landsborough died on March 16th, 1886, from an accident caused by his
horse falling with him, and he is buried close to the north end of
Bribie Passage at Caloundra, where he had resided with his family for
some years previously. Landsborough was a very honorable and lovable
man, of simple tastes, fond of reading and indefatigable in his love for
travelling about the country.


F. Walker led a party from Rockhampton in search of Burke and Wills in
1861. He was a bushman of varied experience, and he has the credit of
originating the system of native police in Queensland. He performed the
task of exploration with which he was entrusted creditably and ably.
Starting from C. B. Button's station, Bauhinia Downs, on the Dawson
River, he and his small party went through the Nogoa country to the
Barcoo, where he saw traces of Gregory and Leichhardt. They then went
north-west to the Alice and on to the Thomson River, and from there on
to the head of the Flinders, which was called the Barkly.

[Page 72]

A marked tree of Walker's exists near the town of Hughenden. Instead of
following down the river, he struck across the basaltic ranges and
tableland northwards till he came to the heads of a river which he
called the Norman, but which is more likely the head of the Saxby River;
however, he followed it down to its junction with the Flinders, where he
saw the tracks of Burke and Wills going down with four camels and one
horse; crossing the river he found the same traces returning. Walker now
went to the Albert River, where he met Captain Norman of the colonial
warship "Victoria" at the depot there, and obtaining fresh supplies, he
returned to the Flinders. And now commenced a painful march through the
ranges and tableland, so hard on the horse's feet that they could be
traced along the stones by the tracks of blood from their hoofs. The men
suffered from the seeds of the speargrass, which penetrated the skin and
caused irritation. The Burdekin was reached, and some fresh supplies
were obtained at Bowen; and then passing through the settled districts
to the south of that town, Walker arrived at Rockhampton early in June,
having been absent about nine months.

[Page 73]

He had several encounters with the blacks during his journey--attacks
and reprisals. About 1865, Walker was sent out by the Queensland
Government to report on the best route for an overland telegraph line to
connect the Gulf with Brisbane. On his recommendation, the line was
taken up the Carron Creek by way of the Etheridge to the east coast at
Cardwell, through some very poor country. He selected this route on
account of there being timber suitable for poles; but as the white ants
soon destroyed them, the line had to be rebuilt with iron poles.

Poor Walker died of Gulf fever in 1866 at a miserable shanty on the
Leichhardt River, close to Floraville, and is buried there. His second
in command on the telegraph expedition was a Mr. Young, who was
subsequently telegraph master at Townsville in 1870. Young was a fine
honorable man, but, unfortunately, he received an injury whilst in the
execution of his duty repairing the telegraph line between Bowen and
Townsville, from the effects of which he subsequently died, only a few
days after his marriage.


A small private expedition, under the charge of J. G. Macdonald, started
from Bowen, on the east coast of North Queensland, in 1864, for the
purpose of discovering a practicable route for several mobs of cattle
then being sent towards the Flinders or westward for the occupation of
new country. The party consisted of Mr. Macdonald, G. Robertson, Robert
Bowman, and Charlie, a native of Brisbane, with seventeen horses, and
two months rations. The starting point was from Carpentaria Downs, on
the Einasleigh River, then the farthest out settlement, the latitude
being 18 deg. 37 min. 10 sec. S., long. 144 deg. 3 min. 30 sec. E.

[Page 74]

The course generally was westward, following down the Gilbert River, and
thence to the Flinders and Leichhardt Rivers. These they crossed, and
then travelled on to the Gregory, which was followed down to the Albert.
The object of the expedition having been achieved, and the country
deemed suitable for stocking, the party commenced their return journey,
crossing the Leichhardt River at a rocky ford, where the scenery was
beautiful and the site admirably adapted for a head station. Eventually
one was formed there, but was swept away in the disastrous flood of
1870, when the waters covered all the surrounding country to a great
depth. The journey home was uneventful, the only occurrence being the
finding of the skeleton of a horse they had left on their outward
journey at the Gilbert River, and which had been killed by the blacks
and eaten. The stages made were somewhat astonishing for an exploring
party. The time taken by the journey outwards and the return was
fifty-three days to Carpentaria Downs, and to Bowen seventy-one days in
all; this trip proves what can be done with a lightly-equipped party, in
contrast to many of the unwieldy expeditions fitted out in the south.
Mr. Macdonald's favourable report of the country was the direct means of
a good deal of settlement on the Gulf. Mr. Macdonald, in conjunction
with Mr., afterwards Sir, John Robertson, and Captain Towns, of Sydney,
took up many stations on the Gulf waters and expended large sums of
money in stocking them.

[Page 75]

They also despatched the first vessel with loading to the Albert,
bringing consigned goods to settlers, as well as supplies for their own
consumption. This vessel was the "Jacmel Packet," which arrived in the
Albert River from Sydney in 1865, thus leading to the establishment of
Burketown. Sir John Robertson personally visited the Gulf in 1868,
travelling overland from the east coast as far as Normanton and
Burketown, and returning the same way.


Mr. Hann, one of the pioneers of the Burdekin country, was the leader of
a small expedition sent out by the Queensland Government for exploring
and prospecting purposes through the peninsula to Cape York. The party
started from Fossilbrook station, in 1872; they named the Tate and Walsh
Rivers, and then went on to the Palmer River, after crossing the
Mitchell, which they found a strong running stream. On the Palmer gold
was discovered, and the place was called Warner's Gully, after Frederick
Warner, the surveyor to the party; this being the first discovery of
gold in that country. Travelling still north, they reached the Coleman
River, and visited Princess Charlotte Bay. They discovered the Kennedy
and Normanby Rivers, taking a few sheep with them as far as this. They
then travelled to the present site of Cooktown, and followed up the
Endeavour River for thirty miles, striking south to the Bloomfield
River, where the dense vine scrubs greatly impeded their progress.

[Page 76]

On their way back they passed through some very rough country. So
successful an expedition, made in so short a time, reflects credit on
the leader of the party, who was a thorough bushman, and well acquainted
with the dangers from hostile blacks in such a country. This expedition
resulted in the development of one of the richest goldfields in
Australia; bands of prospectors soon followed on their tracks and opened
up the great alluvial diggings of the famous Palmer Goldfields, from
which nearly 5,000,000 worth of alluvial gold was won.

W. O. Hodgkinson had been a member of the Burke and Wills expedition in
1860, and crossed Australia as second in command of McKinlay's party in
1862.

In 1876, he led an expedition sent out by the Queensland Government to
explore the north-west country from the Cloncurry to the South
Australian boundary. The party was only a small one, but the work was
well carried out, and the results were satisfactory and justified the
expenditure incurred. They started from Cloncurry, which at that time,
1876, was already a settled mining township, but the country west and
south was not well mapped out. They crossed the rolling plains on the
Diamantina River, and in their reports describe life in the far west in
its natural aspect, the game of the country, the vegetation, the
spinifex, the awful sand ridges, and all the details of a journey made
at the cold time of the year.

[Page 77]

The country, according to the vicissitudes of the season, may be either
a desert or a meadow, for the rainfall is very uncertain. They followed
up the Mulligan River in well-watered country, reaching Mary Lake, on
the Georgina, and then on to Lake Coongi in South Australia. Mr.
Hodgkinson's expedition was described in a diction not much used by the
old explorers, whose records were made in a matter-of-fact style, with
little attention to effect. Nevertheless, his descriptions are eminently
interesting and life-like, and have a charm for all who like to read a
traveller's report of an unknown land. Hodgkinson's name is commemorated
by the goldfield named after him, as well as the river upon which it is
situated.


G. E. Dalrymple led the north-east coast expedition fitted out by the
Queensland Government in 1872. This was altogether a coasting trip by
boats, and led to much information about the high values of the rich
alluvial lands fringing the banks of the rivers which run into the sea
on the east coast of the northern part of Queensland. The Johnstone, the
Russell, and Mulgrave Rivers were named by him, as well as the Mossman
and Daintree. Here was found most magnificent scenery, and on the
Johnstone they discovered some fine cedar (one tree measuring ten feet
in diameter), besides a vast extent of rich land fit for sugar growing.

[Page 78]

All these rivers have since been opened up for cultivation, and
sugar-cane, with other tropical products, has taken the place of dense
scrubs that then lined the banks of these comparatively unknown
rivers--although the boats of the "Rattlesnake" had been into the
Russell and Mulgrave Rivers in 1848. The country appeared to Dalrymple
to be inhabited by very large numbers of blacks, and game was to be
found in abundance. The name of Dalrymple is perpetuated in many places
on the map of Queensland. A township on the Burdekin River, as well as
several mountains and other remarkable features, have been named after
George Elphinstone Dalrymple, who was a splendid type of man in every
sense of the word. He was at one time treasurer of the Colony.


A search expedition for Leichhardt was promoted by the ladies of
Melbourne, and although very little is recorded of its work, it has a
melancholy interest from the fact that the leader, a man of great
promise and energy, lost his life in endeavouring to carry out the task
entrusted to him, and he now lies in an unmarked grave on the bank of a
lonely billabong near the Cloncurry River, a few miles from his
brother's station, Dalgonally.

[Page 79]

The expedition was entrusted to Duncan McIntyre, who had found on the
Dugald River, during a private expedition in 1861, two horses that
belonged to Leichhardt's last expedition. Mr. McIntyre went out with
camels and horses, and formed a depot camp at Dalgonally station on
Julia Creek in 1865. He went on to Burketown, then just opened, for the
purpose of buying stores; at the time of his visit the Gulf fever was at
its worst, and he took ill and died on his return to the camp. He is
spoken of as a man of high attainments and of large experience in
bushmanship, and his untimely death was fatal to the objects of the
expedition, the leadership of which was assumed by Mr. W. F. Barnett. A
short trip was undertaken by him, in company with J. McCalman as second
in charge, Dr. White, a medical man, Colin McIntyre, G. Widish, and
Myola, a blackboy. They started with nine camels, six of which were
young ones, ten horses, and stores for five months. They travelled
westward over the Cloncurry to the Dugald to the camp, marked XLV. of
Duncan McIntyre on his first expedition to the Gulf, the camp where he
found the two horses that Leichhardt lost on his last trip. Near here is
the grave of Davy, one of their blackboys, who died from fever. After
travelling over the country in the neighbourhood for a few weeks, and
not having any fixed plan or instructions, they returned to the depot
camp. The expedition, which was well equipped, was eventually given up
and the party dispersed.

[Page 80]

In consequence of the death of the leader, no notes of his journey were
obtainable. The camels remained on Dalgonally, the property of Mr.
Donald McIntyre, for years, and increased to quite a herd. The ladies of
Melbourne sent a handsome gravestone suitably inscribed to be erected
over the lonely grave of the explorer, but for many years it lay
unnoticed on the beach at Thursday Island, and is probably still there.


The trip of Major-General Fielding to Point Parker is in no sense of the
term an exploring trip through new country, but rather an exploratory
survey for railway purposes through a fairly well settled tract.
Nevertheless, some notes of the journey may be found of interest.

In 1881, negotiations were entered into between the late Mr. (afterwards
Sir) Thomas McIlwraith, then Premier of Queensland, and a syndicate
called Henry Kimber and Co., to construct a railway on the land grant
principle, between Roma and Point Parker, on the Gulf of Carpentaria.
These negotiations resulted in the formation of a larger syndicate
called the Australian Transcontinental Railway Syndicate, Limited, which
initiated their scheme by making certain proposals to the Government of
Queensland, and sending out General Fielding to traverse the proposed
route in 1882.

[Page 81]

The party, under General Fielding's leadership, started from Roma, and
went by way of Victoria Downs and Yo Yo to Biddenham, on the Nive,
thence by Lansdowne and Barcaldine Downs to the Aramac, and on to Mount
Cornish, delays occurring along the route for repairs to waggonettes and
harness, and for the purpose of exchanging horses or buying new ones.
Following down the Upper McKinlay, they reached the Cloncurry on October
7th, and were joined there by the Government Geologist, Mr. R. L. Jack.
More delays occurred here for the want of stores, and it was not until
November 1st that all the members of the expedition reached Kamilaroi
station, on the Leichhardt River; Gregory Downs was reached on the 7th,
and Point Parker on November 15th; the expedition having camped
sixty-seven times. On the night of their arrival at Point Parker, the
natives surrounded the camp at midnight. There were about a hundred of
them, but they left when three shots were fired over their heads; no one
was hurt on either side, and this was the only demonstration made by the
aboriginals.

Point Parker is described as having a very limited area for settlement,
only about 7,000 acres being available. The Government schooner "Pearl"
was waiting here, and after a careful survey of Point Parker and Point
Bayley, they visited Bentinck and Sweer's Islands and Kimberley (now
called Karumba), at the mouth of the Norman River. Finally, on November
13th, they sailed up the Batavia River in the "Pearl" for about forty
miles, and explored it still further in the boats, thence on to Thursday
Island on December 4th, 1882.

[Page 82]

In General Fielding's opinion, the country traversed on his route may be
divided into sections; the first part between Mitchell and Malvern was
neither fitted for pastoral purposes nor for agricultural settlement;
thick scrub, bad soil, and poor timber prevailing. Between the Ward and
the Nive, and thence to the Barcoo, Thomson, and Diamantina Rivers was
first-class sheep country, requiring a good deal to be done in the way
of providing water to enable the country to be fully stocked. The
country between the McKinlay and Fullerton Rivers is subject to flood.
Approaching the mining district of Cloncurry, the country is not so
favourable for sheep, and is better adapted for raising cattle and
horses. From the Cloncurry through the Gregory to the Nicholson River is
all good cattle country, but the grass seed along the banks of the
watercourses, and the flooded nature of parts of the country in the
rainy seasons, render it unfit for profitable sheep-farming. From the
Nicholson to the Gulf at Point Parker, the country is described as
particularly useless. The formation is desert sandstone overlaid with
nodular ironstone conglomerate; the vegetation dense, chiefly ti-tree
scrubs growing upon spuey or rotten ground, together with spinifex,
saltpans, and marshes. Such was General Fielding's estimate of the
country through which the line was to pass. Captain Pennefather of the
"Pearl" schooner had been surveying the waters between Allan Island and
Point Parker. He was very reticent as to the qualifications of the place
as a port; but looking at the soundings, and the open nature of the
anchorage, coupled with the utterly valueless nature of the soil
surrounding the place for over one hundred miles, the less said about it
as a shipping port the better.

[Page 83]

The whole scheme was condemned by Parliament, and the general election
of 1883 returned a majority against the principle of land grant
railways. One of the first reform acts of the new Parliament was to
repeal the Railway Companies' Preliminary Act. No doubt, had the scheme
been favoured by the people of Queensland, a great impetus would have
been given to settlement by the introduction of so much private capital
into the colony, while the large annual payment of interest on borrowed
money would have been avoided to a great extent. At all events, there is
no transcontinental railway as yet, and when it does arrive, Point
Parker will not be chosen as the terminus. Mr. Frank Hann, a brother of
William Hann, the discoverer of the Palmer Goldfield, accompanied
General Fielding as pilot. Hann is a first-class bushman, as hard as
nails and full of energy. He was for many years the owner of Lawn Hill,
situated on a western tributary of the Gregory River, but ticks ruined
his herd. He is now in Western Australia.


The first surveyor appointed by the Queensland Government in the Gulf
was Mr. George Phillips, lately the member for Carpentaria. He surveyed
and laid out Burketown, Carnarvon, on Sweer's Island, and Normanton, on
the Norman River.

[Page 84]

In company with W. Landsborough, in 1866, he explored and named the
Diamantina and other western rivers. The former was named after Lady
Bowen, the Governor's wife, whose Christian name was Diamantina Roma.
The party passed close by the spot where Winton now stands, and by
Kynuna, and from the head waters of the Diamantina they struck across
via the heads of Rupert's and Alick's Creeks to Minamere (then
Sheaffe's), thence to the Flinders, and on to Burketown. There were no
signs of settlement between the Thomson River at Mount Cornish, and
where they struck the Flinders River. Mr. Phillips and Mr. Landsborough
were the first to navigate the Norman River, and they chose the site for
the township.

The writer met this party coming down the Flinders on their way to
Burketown, in which place he had been laid up for several weeks with the
Gulf fever; he was then on his way back to Conobie, more dead than
alive. This was in the early part of 1866.


[Page 85]



CHAPTER V. - PIONEERING WORK IN QUEENSLAND.


The narrative of the pastoral industry in Queensland is almost the
history of North Queensland itself. The outward flow of that restless
and progressive industry can be traced from its infancy, when Mr.
Patrick Leslie, of Collaroi, in the district of Cassilis, New South
Wales, moved his stock northwards, and after first exploring the country
by himself and a man named Peter Murphy, placed his sheep in June, 1840,
and formed the first station in Queensland on the Darling Downs
(discovered by Allan Cunningham 13 years before). He called this first
station Toolburra, and afterwards selected Canning Downs station also.
The stock consisted of nearly 6,000 sheep, two teams of bullocks and
drays, one team of horses and dray, ten saddle horses, and twenty-two
men, all ticket-of-leave men, pronounced by Mr. Leslie to be the best
men he ever had in his life. The town of Warwick is built near this
classic spot, where first the pioneers of the squatting industry pitched
their original camp. The next to reach the Darling Downs were Hodgson
and Elliott, who occupied Etonvale in September, 1840.

[Page 86]

No white man had settled on Darling Downs previous to Patrick Leslie in
1840. After Hodgson, King and Sibley were next to hold Gowrie, and these
were followed by others, until in 1844, there were thirty stations
formed and occupied in that district, the stock mostly coming from the
Hunter River district of New South Wales.

In 1843, the first station on the Burnett River was formed by Russell
and Glover who took up Burrandowan, and they were soon followed by other
settlers, occupying all the beautiful country on the Upper Burnett and
Mary Rivers. Here the soil is rich, the surface water abundant, the
climate equal to any in Australia; and thus a rich territory was added
to the young colony.

The names of the early settlers and pioneers of this country are as well
known as the stations they formed. The Healeys of Tabinga were settled
not far from Burrandowan. Over the Brisbane Range, John Eales, from the
Hunter, was the first settler with stock in the Wide Bay District. The
Jones', of merchant fame in Sydney, were also among the first over the
range at or near Nanango. The course they followed took them down
Barambah Creek to Boonara station.

All the centre of the Burnett district was occupied by squatters coming
by this line, while the upper, or Auburn portion, from lower down by
Burrandowan. Lawless Bros, took up Boobijan; Anderson and Leslie
occupied Gigoomgan; whilst McTaggart, H. C. Corfield, Perrier, Forster,
Herbert W. H. Walsh, Dr. Ramsay, E. B. Uhr, and others followed soon
after.

[Page 87]


Following on this, came the occupation of the runs on the Dawson River,
a tributary of the Fitzroy, and onwards to the north and far out to the
great west, where the downs rolled towards the setting sun. The Fitzroy
River, draining an enormous territory, equal to any river in Queensland,
and surpassed by but few in Australia, was gradually and successfully
occupied. Through the brigalow and mulga scrubs, dense and forbidding,
over mountain ranges, stony and steep, across flooded rivers, and over
or around all obstacles, the pioneers still moved on and took up and
occupied runs. Westward to the Maranoa and Warrego, and northward by the
Fitzroy to the Burdekin and Flinders River, and even over the South
Australian borders to Port Darwin, their mission was carried on, to fill
the land with the outposts of civilisation.

Before 1853, the Archer family were squatting on the Burnett River, and
in that year Charles and William Archer went northward on an exploring
trip during which they discovered and named the Fitzroy River, and rode
over the spot where now stands the city of Rockhampton, with all its
wealth, civilisation, and promise of prosperity. They started from
Eidsvold, on the Burnett, simply with pack horses and two men, passed
from Dalgangal to Rawbelle, and at the foot of Mount Rannes found the
establishment of the brothers Leith Hay, then the farthest out station.

[Page 88]

They had some very troublesome country to penetrate. Besides hilly
mountainous ranges, brigalow and vine scrubs surrounded the base of
Mount Spencer, whose thousand feet of height they climbed, and gave to
it its name. They crossed the Dee, and passed close to the site of the
famous Mount Morgan gold mine. And so on they journeyed to the top of a
range, where the most astounding view lay beneath them.

Through a large and apparently open valley, bounded by table-topped,
pyramidal and dominant mountains, with here and there fantastically-shaped
sandstone peaks, a large river wound its way towards the sea.

They supposed this river to be the confluence of the Dawson and
Mackenzie, and the sea before them to be Keppel Bay. They explored the
valley of the Fitzroy, which they named after Sir Charles Fitzroy, they
being the first to discover it, and then went on to Gracemere Lake, a
magnificent sheet of fresh water, about two miles long and three
quarters of a mile wide. They rode on till they came to tidal water in
the Fitzroy, and found it a fine navigable stream, with the tide running
strongly up it. Near here they came upon a large lagoon covered over
with a beautiful pink water-lily (nymphoea), which they called the Pink
Lily Lagoon. In the account of their journey, they described the cycas
palm growing with clusters of round smooth nuts encircling the top as a
crown, under the leaves.

[Page 89]

After inspecting the country from opposite Yaamba to what is now known
as Archer's cattle station, and laying it out in blocks, they returned
to the Burnett. These pioneers were looking for new country, and being
perfectly satisfied with the Fitzroy and its promise of future
prosperity, they returned with stock two years later, in 1855, and took
legal possession. It was on August 10th of that year that they brought
the first stock on to Gracemere and occupied it as a run.

In the same year, 1855, the site of the future town of Rockhampton was
examined. The name of the town was chosen by Mr. Wiseman, Commissioner
of Crown Lands for New South Wales, who had been sent up from Sydney to
confirm the Messrs. Archer in the possession of their discovery. The
rocks crossing the river situated above the present suspension bridge
and forming the limit of navigation, helped to the choice of a name for
the new northern town. Gracemere head station is on the south side of
the Fitzroy River, and is distant seven miles from Rockhampton. Till
then, Rannes had been the outer limit of occupation towards the north,
in which direction settlement was extending. The Archers were a family
of pioneer settlers, several brothers assisting in the enterprise of
opening up country and forming new stations. They were extremely popular
men of high character and attainments; and the name of Archer will be
known as long as Rockhampton exists.

[Page 90]

Archibald Archer represented the town and district for many years in the
Queensland Assembly, and acted as Colonial Treasurer in the first
McIlwraith Ministry with credit to himself and much benefit to the young
colony.+ The Archers may justly be said to be the original discoverers
and actual founders of Rockhampton, for although the town took its great
start on the road to importance from the time of the Canoona rush in
1858, called in those days the Port Curtis rush, the site of the town
had been made known five years previously by the Archer Brothers.

[+ Mr. Archibald Archer died early in 1902, in London, at the age of 82.
Mr. Alexander Archer and his wife (a daughter of the late Sir R. R.
Mackenzie) were both lost in the "Quetta," which foundered near Cape
York.]

Amongst the early settlers in the country about Gladstone were the
Landsboroughs, at Raglan Station, James Landsborough, a brother of the
explorer William, living there after taking it up. They held a run in
the Wide Bay district, called Monduran, on the banks of the Kolan River,
a beautiful and picturesque stream of clear flowing water, with varied
patches of dark pine scrubs growing down to the water's edge.

William Young, a sturdy self-reliant old pioneer, took up a run called
Mount Larcombe, and held it with sheep. Mount Larcombe can be seen from
the deck of passing steamers close to Gladstone.

[Page 91]

Mr. Young was foremost in opening the country between Gladstone and
Rockhampton. He obtained a rough sketch from Mr. Charles Archer of
country they had tendered for, and on going out came across a large
branch of the Calliope which had not been so taken up. This he chose for
his new run, and Mount Larcombe being at the head of the creek, he named
the station after it. He took his sheep from the Burnett, and settled on
his new country on May 29th, 1855. The reason for those of the advance
guard pushing out so far was on account of the tendering system for runs
then in force. By this system, those who marked out country could hold
it unstocked, and unless a few hundred pounds were paid by them for the
right of actual occupation, the pioneers in search of land had to go out
further. Prospecting thus for new country without any intention of
stocking it, but merely of selling the information and the claim to the
country to any one in search of a run for their stock, became a regular
speculation.

The Wide Bay district only extended as far as Little's station at
Baffle's Creek, and on to Blackman's. When separation took place, and a
new district was declared, those who had tendered for new country for
the purpose of reselling, had nine months allowed them to stock their
country in. Otherwise they were called upon to forfeit it. Mr. Young had
a great deal of trouble from the blacks; they made a raid on his
shepherds, killing several, but afterwards he found them very useful for
minding sheep, etc.

[Page 92]

At that time, two small trading vessels handled the trade to Sydney, and
from this port Mr. Young had to get his rations, as well as shepherds.
Many of the latter sent to him were found useless for bush life.+

[+ Mr. Young ended his days peacefully in Sandgate in 1899, at an
advanced age.]


No. 55117.

Crown Lands Office,
Sydney, 29th January, 1855.

Nos. 2, 5, 11 and 12 of December.

Gentlemen,

Rockbill, No.3.
Bugulban, No.1
Gunyah, No. 2.
Borroran, No.4.

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your tenders (opened on
the 4th ultimo), for new runs of Crown Lands in the district of Port
Curtis, named above, and I beg to inform you, that the same now await
the report of the Commissioner of the district, in accordance with the
Regulations the 1st January, 1848.

I have the honor to be, Gentlemen,
Your most obedient servant,
GEO. BARNEY.
Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands.

Messrs. R. & F. BLACKMAN,
Maryborough, Wide Bay.


This copy of the letter from Colonel Barney to the Messrs. Blackman
regarding the tenders of their runs shows that they were early in the
Port Curtis district, and occupied a run called Warrah, still held by
Mr. F. A. Blackman in 1897. The whole of the Wide Bay district had
become settled with stations, and the necessity for an outlet for
produce and receipt of supplies led to the port of Gladstone being
opened.

[Page 93]

Among the first to establish a business there was Richard E. Palmer, who
built a wharf and a large wool shed, so that the wool from Rannes and
other stations lately formed could be shipped away. He then took up
Targieni station, near Mount Larcombe, and lived there for many years.
Among the early settlers in the district about Gladstone were the Bells
of Stowe, father and sons, Mrs. Graham on the Calliope; and Charles
Clarke, James Landsborough, John Forsyth. Edwin Bloomfield held Miriam
Vale; Robinson and Wood had taken up Caliungal; William Elliott passed
Gracemere with sheep, and took up Tilpal in 1857. Ramsay and Gaden held
Canoona run when the gold rush took place in 1858. Mr. A. J. Callan, for
some years member of the Legislative Assembly for Fitzroy, took up
Columbra run. All the surrounding country became parcelled out among the
early arrivals, and settlement began to spread itself into far-away
districts to the north and north-west. Civilisation was pronounced
enough when ladies followed their husbands on many of the new stations.
Raglan was famous for its hospitality as early as 1860, when Mrs. James
Landsborough presided, and her numerous family grew up there.

[Page 94]

From Marlborough, a small village on the outward stock route, the track
led out west towards Peak Downs, a beautiful tableland discovered by
Leichhardt. Mr. Stuart, known as Peak Downs Stuart, took up one of the
first runs in 1861 with sheep brought from Victoria. These sheep were
destroyed by order on account of scab breaking out among them. Mr. P. F.
Macdonald and Sydney Davis were among the earliest settlers on Peak
Downs. Mr. William Kilman, whose name is so well known in the central
districts, was one of the enterprising pioneers of the north. In 1854,
when he was twenty-five years old, he set out on an exploring trip along
the Queensland coast. On that journey, he came to the river on which
Rockhampton now stands, and, passing up the coast, went as far as
Cleveland Bay, where Townsville was founded some years later. He
returned to New South Wales from Cleveland Bay, and in 1856 took up a
large tract of country on the upper waters of the Dawson. It would thus
appear that Mr. Kilman visited the locality of Townsville ten years
before Mr. Andrew Ball came down from Woodstock station to explore the
country.

Captain John Mackay, explorer and pioneer settler, as well as navigator,
discovered Port Mackay in 1860. The history of the discovery and
settlement of the district and town of Mackay is of interest, showing
what individual effort in conjunction with large experience and great
physical fortitude and endurance can accomplish. Captain Mackay left
Armidale on January 16th, 1860, with a party of seven men and
twenty-eight horses, to explore the north country for runs for stocking
purposes; they travelled by Tenterfield, Darling Downs, Gayndah, and
Rockhampton.

[Page 95]

After recruiting and refitting here, they started again on March 16th,
passed Yaamba and Princhester, on to Marlborough, where Mr. Henning was
forming a station. They left civilisation behind them when leaving this
place, and bearing to the north-west over the range, which was very
rugged and broken, followed the Isaacs and travelled on towards the
Burdekin. Returning towards the coast, they found a river they called
the Mackay, traced it to the coast, and having marked trees along its
course, they decided to return south, having been successful in the
object of their expedition.

The party now fell sick of fever and ague, a most prostrating malady,
and were reduced to the utmost extremity for want of provisions, for the
sick men were for some time unable to travel. In suffering and pain,
hungry and thirsty, and utterly weary, they started again for civilised
parts. The blackboy, their faithful companion, died on the journey,
while some of the others could scarcely manage to ride. On returning,
they met Mr. Connor, who was forming Collaroy station; here they
remained a few days recruiting, then crossing the Broadsound Range, they
camped with Mr. John Allingham, who was travelling with stock looking
for country, passed Mr. Macartney at Waverley, and arrived at Rockhampton
after an absence of four months. They tendered for the country
discovered in accordance with the Crown Lands Regulations, and the
tenders were accepted by the Queensland Government, from which date they
were allowed nine months for stocking, failing which, any person putting
stock in, could legally claim the country.

[Page 96]

In order to obtain some compensation for the discovery they had made,
Captain Mackay got cattle on terms, and started from Armidale on July
26th, 1861, with 1,200 cattle, fifty horses and two teams of bullocks.
The stock travelled by Dalby to the Burnett and Dawson, passing Banana
and Rannes, and thence to Rockhampton on October 27th, where supplies
were waiting for them from Sydney. They then passed northwards through
the Broadsound country, where several stations were then forming, and
arrived at the foot of the coast range, when by double-banking the
teams, that is, putting two teams on to one dray with only a part of a
load on, they managed, after several days' hard work, to get the loads
and stock across the terrible barrier. After great trouble in forcing a
way through ranges, scrubs, and other obstacles, the stock arrived at
the spot selected for the head station on the Mackay River, now called
the Pioneer, on January 11th, 1862. The station was named Green Mount,
and having turned their weary stock loose on the well-grassed plains,
the party set to work to form a station hut and yards. All their stores
were exhausted, and after waiting long months for the vessel that was to
have come from Rockhampton, they at last discovered that she was below
Cape Palmerston at anchor; she was brought up the river four miles west
of where the town now stands, and landed the stores on the south bank.

[Page 97]

Captain Mackay then chartered the vessel at the rate of 8 per day, and
spent a few days in taking soundings, bearings, etc.; having made a
rough chart of the river and adjacent coast line, it was sent with the
correct latitude and longitude to the Crown Lands Office, Brisbane, on
which report the Mackay River was declared a port of entry. The name of
the river was changed to the Pioneer, as Commodore Burnett (afterwards
lost in H.M.S. "Orpheus" on the Manakau Bar in New Zealand), had, in
1863, named a stream flowing into Rockingham Bay, the Mackay, and
recommended the new discovery should be called after H.M.S. "Pioneer,"
which he commanded. The Queensland Government not wishing to detract
from the merit of discovery, named the town Mackay. There can be no
manner of doubt but that the honor of discovering the Pioneer River and
the Port of Mackay, and making that discovery public information, so as
to be of service in opening up the district, rests entirely with Captain
John Mackay.+

[+ Captain Mackay, in 1902, succeeded the late Captain Almond as Harbour
Master at Brisbane.]

The discovery of the fine pastoral country in the Barcoo by the Mitchell
expedition was soon followed by occupation. On October 12th, 1862, the
first mob of cattle arrived on the Thomson River, for Mount Cornish and
Bowen Downs. The Thomson River was at that time supposed to be the
Barcoo, but Mr. N. Buchanan found out that it was the same river that
had been named the Thomson by Kennedy in 1847.

[Page 98]

The first station was named Bowen Downs, and the first stock to arrive
on these waters were the cattle started from Fort Cooper, where they had
been depasturing for some time. The mob consisted of five thousand head,
and the route followed was by Lake Elphinstone on to Suttor Creek, down
that creek to the Belyando, following that river up a short distance,
then across by Bully Creek, crossing the range at the Tanks by Lake
Buchanan on to Cornish Creek, and down that creek to their destination.

Suttor Creek station then belonged to Kirk and Sutherland, and was the
farthest out station in that direction. On arriving at Bully Creek, a
dry stage ahead of forty-five miles, caused the leader to leave 1,500
head behind him, the balance arriving at their destination on October
12th, 1862. Mr. R. Kerr was in charge, with four white stockmen, one
blackboy, three gins, and a white man named Maurice Donohue, who died
before he had been there very long, and was doubtless the first white
man buried in the district. In the following year, 1863, a drought
occurred on the Thomson, the plains were left destitute of grass, and
the waterhole, on the banks of which the station was formed, was reduced
to two feet in depth. When full there would be about eighteen feet of
water in it, and it was afterwards found that it took eighteen months
without rain to bring it down to that level.

[Page 99]

In about March of this year, Messrs. Rule and Lacy, as also Mr. Raven,
arrived on Aramac Creek with sheep, the former taking up and stocking
the country now known as Aramac station. Mr. Raven first settling down
higher up the creek, afterwards returned to Stainburne, taking up and
stocking the present Stainburne Downs. At the same time that these sheep
arrived at the Aramac, three thousand cows from the Narran (N.S.W.)
arrived on Bowen Downs, Messrs. Hill and Bloxham in charge; all these
stock went out by the Barcoo, and the cattle suffered severely from the
effects of the drought, one thousand head being lost en route. Four of
the party, Messrs. Hill, Bloxham, Burkett, and Best, who took out these
cows to Bowen Downs, decided to go upon an exploring trip on their own
account. They went up Landsborough Creek, and on to the Flinders River,
intending to go to Bowen; after getting over the Range on the east side
of the Flinders, it commenced to rain, and continued an incessant
downpour for four days, making the country so boggy that they could not
travel; some of their horses died, and some got crippled by getting
bogged among the rocks; so they decided to return to Bowen Downs. They
got down from the ranges into one of the gorges, and then Mr. Best was
laid up with rheumatic fever, and was unable to travel.

[Page 100]

Their supplies ran short, and they had to kill some of their horses for
food; by the time Mr. Best was able to move, they had only three horses
left; so they decided to kill one of these, take a portion of the flesh
with them, and walk to Bowen Downs for assistance, leaving Mr. Best
behind, as he was still unfit to travel. They left the two horses with
him, and the remainder of the horse they had killed, jerking the meat
for him before they started. The three then began their tramp, Mr.
Bloxham being leader and guide; they promised to be back in twenty-eight
days, and urged Mr. Best to remain where they were leaving him, but if
he did move to be sure to follow their tracks. They also gave him
directions as to the route to follow to reach Bowen Downs. They got to
Bowen Downs in due course, after surmounting innumerable difficulties.
Mr. Bloxham, who was the oldest of the party, was very weak on arrival,
and suffering severely from the consequences of subsisting on jerked
horse flesh; they were all wearing horse hide sandals, their boots being
worn out. After several days spell, Mr. Bloxham made up a party and went
to the rescue of the man left behind. The other two left for
civilisation. The rescue party met Mr. Best on the twenty-ninth day from
leaving him, a few miles from his camp. He had stayed the twenty-eight
days as agreed, and started in on the twenty-ninth. They, of course,
were very glad to find him, and the meeting was mutually satisfactory.
During his sojourn in the gorge, Mr. Best only saw the blacks once; and
then he fired his gun off to attract their attention, but they took no
notice of him.

[Page 101]

Another report said that as he had been using his gun as a crutch, the
muzzle had got blocked up with mud, and when he fired it off to scare
the blacks away the gun burst with such a terrible roar that they never
ventured near him again.

The first pioneer to stock country on the Flinders was James Gibson, who
took up a run called the Prairie, in 1861. He also stocked several runs
in the neighbourhood and on the Clarke River. He started two lots of
cattle from the Barwon (N.S.W.), one in charge of Mr. E. R. Edkins, now
of Mount Cornish, the other mob in charge of Mr. George Sautelle, now
long settled at Byrimine station, near Cloncurry. These cattle passed by
Goondiwindi, through the Downs country, by Yandilla, to the Dawson, by
Rockhampton, and then by Fort Cooper and Bowen on to the Clarke River.
These, according to the Land Office records, were the first runs taken
up in the pastoral district of Burke. Their cattle were supplemented by
other large mobs, all destined to form new stations in the far north, in
connection with Mr. W. Glen Walker, of Sydney, an enterprising and
speculative merchant. In 1864 the country first taken up by this firm
was sold or transferred, and the cattle (as many as ten thousand head),
were removed to the Lower Flinders then quite unoccupied. They travelled
through Betts' Gorge, a creek forcing its way through the basalt to join
the Flinders. A large stretch of well watered country on the Saxby Creek,
known as Taldora and Millungerra was taken up by James Gibson in 1864.

[Page 102]

The first man to open the way to the Albert at Burketown was Mr. N.
Buchanan, with cattle from Mount Cornish and Bowen Downs on the Thomson
River; he selected Beame's Brook station on the Albert, eighteen miles
above the present site of Burketown, and also occupied another run on
the Landsborough River, a tributary of the Leichhardt, on a waterhole
about twelve miles long. Following him in order of succession came Mr.
J. G. Macdonald's cattle from the Burdekin. These travelled by a
different route via the Einasleigh and Etheridge Rivers, the latter
called after Mr. D. O. Etheridge, one of the overlanders, a man long
resident there afterwards, and well known. They followed the route
opened up by Mr. J. G. Macdonald when on his private exploring
expedition to the Gulf country a year or two before. The country this
stock occupied was on the Leichhardt River, at a place called
Floraville, situated where a great bar of rocks crosses the river above
all tidal waters, the falls being about twenty feet in height. Another
run this firm took up at the same time was situated on the Gregory
River, and called Gregory Downs; but this country was abandoned later
on, and is now held by Watson Bros.; it is an excellent piece of
well-grassed cattle country, watered by the finest perennial river in
North Queensland, a clear, flowing stream of water, shaded by palms,
pandanus, and ti-trees.

[Page 103]

The Gregory River, named by the late Mr. W. Landsborough in honor of the
Honorable A. C. Gregory, M.L.C., C.M.G., the well-known explorer and
scientist, has never been known to go dry. In March, 1896, Mr. G.
Phillips, C.E., estimated the flow of the river--which was then low--at
133 millions of gallons per day at Gregory Downs. There can be no doubt
that the discharge is due to a leak from the great artesian beds
underlying the Barkly Tableland, on which the town of Camooweal is
situated, on the head waters of the Georgina River.

The Barkly Tableland was also named by Mr. Landsborough in honor of Sir
Henry Barkly, Governor of Victoria, 1856-1863.

Donor's Hills station was settled by the Brodie Bros., who came from
Murrurundi, in New South Wales early in 1865. They travelled by Bowen
River and along the Cape River route, and took up the country about the
junction of the Cloncurry and the Flinders Rivers, near some peculiar
isolated ironstone hills, which were named Donor's Hills. It was
considered a good run and well watered, and is now held by Mr.
Chirnside, of Victoria, being still stocked with sheep. Among the last
wave of pioneers was Mr. Atticus Tooth, who brought cattle from the
Broken River, near Bowen, and took up a run on the lower Cloncurry,
which he called Seaward Downs; the stock belonged to a business firm in
Bowen called Seaward, Marsh and Co. It now forms part of Conobie run,
taken up by Messrs. Palmer and Shewring, who brought sheep and cattle
from Pelican Creek, in 1864.

[Page Page 104]

The cattle were driven from Eureka, in the Wide Bay district, by Edward
Palmer, one of the firm who from that time resided on the station, and
who is the author of these notes. The stock followed the route up the
Cape River, and were detained in the desert at Billy Webb's Lake nearly
two months waiting for rain to take them through. After the usual
vicissitudes of travelling stock down the Flinders, and searching for
country all round the Gulf it was decided to occupy Conobie, where the
Dugald, Corella, and Cloncurry Rivers form a junction. The sheep were
placed on the run in May, 1865, and then the trip back to Brisbane had
to be undertaken in order to apply for the lease of the country.

One of the partners, Mr. W. Shewring, died about a year afterwards from
the effects of the Gulf fever, and also several of the men. They were
all buried on the bank of the large lagoon, near which the head station
was formed.

Supplies to this place were carried from Port Denison by bullock dray,
but the first wool was shipped for Sydney from the new port, Burketown.
The price of everything was extremely high, flour and sugar often
selling at one shilling per pound, while wages for ordinary hands ranged
from thirty-five shillings to fifty shillings a week, and men were
scarce even at that.

[Page 105]

Pioneers as well as explorers, the settlement of Cape York Peninsula
will always be associated with the names of the Jardines. The account of
their trip from Bowen with cattle and horses through the most
troublesome country ever traversed by stock, will stand as a lasting
monument to their superior bushmanship and hardihood. The narrative of
the journey adds a most interesting page to the records of Australian
exploration, as it was conducted throughout without any mishap, although
surrounded with many dangers, through a country almost unknown and
during a season when the risks were much increased by reason of the
advent of the annual heavy rains. The uncommon task of taking a mob of
cattle such a distance with success, reflects the highest credit on the
Jardine Brothers.

The origin of the trip was a report made by the first governor, Sir G.
Bowen, in 1862, to the Imperial Government recommending Somerset, Cape
York, as a harbour of refuge, coaling station and entrepot for the trade
of Torres Straits and islands of the North Pacific. The task of
establishing the new settlement was confided to Mr. Jardine, Police
Magistrate at Rockhampton, who was qualified by experience and judgment
to carry out the work. Mr. Jardine proposed to establish a cattle
station there, by sending cattle in charge of his two sons through the
Peninsula, in order to supply the requirements of trade with fresh beef.

[Page 106]

Frank and Alick Jardine, aged respectively 22 and 20, carried out the
task of overlanding very creditably, being strong, active, and hardy
young men, full of resource and inured to bush work and discomforts.

Those who know by experience what a wet season means in the Peninsula,
with flooded creeks and rivers, poison plants killing the horses and
cattle, and hostile blacks always on the alert to damage anything in
their way, will understand the full meaning of the successful issue of
such a trip. The writer settled a cattle station on the Mitchell River
in 1879, and can thus enter fully into all the troubles of these young
overlanders, and appreciate the magnitude of their task.

The party, consisting of ten persons and twenty-one horses, left
Rockhampton in May, 1864; they travelled overland to Bowen, where they
obtained cattle from Mr. William Stenhouse, of the Clarke River. The
furthest out station then was Carpentaria Downs, to the north-west, held
by J. G. Macdonald, supposed to be on the Lynd River, but afterwards
proved to be on the Einasleigh, a branch of the Gilbert River. On
October 10th they were ready for a final start with the cattle from
Carpentaria Downs. The party were composed of the following: F. L.
Jardine, leader; A Jardine; A. J. Richardson, surveyor; C. Scrutton; R.
N. Binney; A. Cowderoy; and four blackboys, Eulah, Peter, Sambo, and
Barney, natives of Wide Bay and Rockhampton; also forty-one horses, one
mule, and 250 cattle, with provisions to last for four months.

[Page 107]

They started under the impression they were following down the Lynd of
Leichhardt, that led to the Mitchell River, hence the troubles and
doubts about their journey were much increased, and it was a
considerable time before the mistake was discovered. Not long after
getting into the wilderness, a fire burnt one half of their camp gear
and rations, which was a loss they felt throughout their journey.

Travelling through poor, flat ti-tree country, covered with spinifex and
wire, grass that no stock would look at, they encountered the further
misfortunes of the loss of horses and cattle by poison and delay owing
to their being hunted by blacks. In addition to the loss of cattle,
travelling was excessively heavy in consequence of the rains. But the
journey was prosecuted in spite of all troubles and risks. The blacks
soon commenced to attack them, and had to be checked, although they
never ceased all through the journey to harass them. The party struck
salt water when following down the Staaten, and then knew that they were
out of their course, and not near the Mitchell River of Leichhardt. They
saw the marine plains extending along the coast, and finally, about
December 18th, crossed the long-looked for Mitchell River, covered here
with dense vine scrubs, and having numerous wide channels. They lost
some horses that went mad through drinking salt water, and at the
crossing had a severe contest with the blacks, who had been daring and
mischievous all the time.

[Page 108]

After crossing the Mitchell, they followed a course along the coast line
of the Gulf, meeting with disasters all the way, their cattle being
poisoned, their horses failing, their rations exhausted, and hardships
accumulating. They finally left the Mitchell and made straight running
for Cape York on December 22nd; the wet season came on them then, and
nothing but rain was recorded while going through a most dismal,
miserable country, poor in grass, and full of obstacles, such as scrub,
etc. Heavy storms of rain and wind passed over them frequently, from
which they had no shelter, the tents being blown to pieces. They had no
salt, and the weather was too muggy to dry or jerk the meat when a beast
was killed. In this way they crept along the coast line, crossing all
the rivers and creeks in full flood, and by the time they reached the
Batavia River they had to do most of the travelling on foot, so many
horses having died from the fatal effects of the poison plants common in
this despicable country. As all the creeks were lined with vine scrubs,
they were compelled to cut tracks through every one of them for the
cattle and to swim creeks every day, while the prickles of the pandanus
leaves gave them special discomfort.

[Page 109]

Several attempts were made to search for the settlement at Cape York by
advance parties, but it was not until March 2nd that the brothers,
having met some friendly natives, were piloted into the settlement, and
thus this most wonderful trip was concluded, having taken over five
months to get through about 1,600 miles, the last two or three hundred
being done on foot, and without even boots to their feet. The country
passed through was mostly of a forbidding and sterile character, except
on the Einasleigh River banks, and in consequence of their report, no
occupation of runs followed. As the Peninsula became more explored,
better country was discovered near the heads of the rivers flowing into
the Gulf; and in after years a few stations were stocked with cattle.

Frank Jardine, the elder brother, has lived at Somerset ever since, and
his house is seen when passing through the beautiful Albany Pass. Alick
Jardine became a surveyor and engineer, and for many years was employed
by the Government of Queensland. He attained the position of Engineer
for Harbours and Rivers, but was among the officers retrenched in 1893.

[Page 110]



CHAPTER VI. - THE SPREAD OF PASTORAL OCCUPATION.


After the Canoona rush in 1858 and 1859, the tide of pastoral run
hunting set in; the route northwards followed by stock going out to
occupy new country led by Princhester and through Marlborough. Here the
route turned off westwards towards the Peak Downs, and extended still
further to the interior where the Barcoo, Thomson, and Alice Rivers
flowed into a mysterious land. The northern road led on to Broad Sound,
where Connor's Range had to be passed; this spur of the main coast range
comes close in to the coast. Overlanders could not avoid crossing it,
and this was an undertaking. It was reckoned to be two miles from the
first rise to the summit, and to get drays and stock across sometimes
took several days, as they had to unload some of their goods at the
steep pinches and return empty for the balance of the loading. The road
was in a state of nature, and wound round gullies and sidings through
the forest trees that grew on the steep sides of the mountain; many a
curse was wasted on its stony, dusty inclines ere the long looked for
summit was reached.

[Page 111]

After crossing the range, the first settlement in those early days,
about 1860, was Lotus Creek station. From Lotus Creek the road led on to
Fort Cooper station, considered one of the best coast stations then
discovered. As early as 1863, Nebo Creek, west of Mackay, was made a
recruiting centre, where stores could be obtained from a firm named
Kemmis and Bovey. Passing along Funnel Creek, still going northwards,
the head of the Bowen River was reached.

The Bowen River country was soon occupied with runs and stock from the
south, passing along the coast route that led by Rockhampton,
Marlborough, and Nebo. The roads were lined with flocks and herds of
those entering on the pioneering work of the North of Queensland, and
business men were following in the wake of the early stock settlers to
commence a trade wherever an opportunity offered. The settlement was
bona fide and genuine; men with means, energy and experience were
entering on it with great enthusiasm and high hopes of the future of the
new country. The wave of occupation passed on to the Burdekin River,
causing a great demand for sheep and cattle for the purpose of stocking
new country in the north and west. The requirements of this great
augmentation of the stock northwards led to the opening of Bowen or Port
Denison as a port of shipment for supplies. The discovery and opening of
Port Denison will be treated of elsewhere; its opening to commerce was a
boon to those who were occupying the country immediately at the rear of
the port.

[Page 112]

Many overlanders took advantage of the port by shearing or lambing their
sheep wherever a chance offered, and after obtaining supplies for the
road, were prepared to extend their search for new country still further
away. The Bowen River country is very interesting and its scenery most
picturesque; it has first-class grazing qualities, small open plains,
with patches of brigalow scrub scattered over black-soil country.
Sandstone ranges bound the creeks on the coast side, whence they come
down to the main stream. The river is a fine stream, with long and deep
reaches, in which are found alligators of large size that have come up
from the Burdekin River. Among the early settlers to take up country was
Mr. J. G. Macdonald, afterwards an early pioneer in the Gulf country,
though not a resident there. He took up, in conjunction with others, a
large area of country in the Bowen district, afterwards known as
Dalrymple, Inkermann, Strathbogie, and Ravenswood. His residence at
Adelaide Point was at one period the show place of the North, where Mrs.
Macdonald (after whom Adelaide Point was named) dispensed hospitality
with a kindly grace which won all hearts. Of all this, nothing now
remains but a memory. The house is gone; Mr. Macdonald is dead, and the
family dispersed. Carpentaria Downs was also taken up by J. G.
Macdonald, on the head of the Einasleigh River, for a long time the
outside settlement.

[Page 113]

One of the early sheep stations held by Mr. Henning was located on the
Bowen River, while lower down a fine piece of country called Havilah was
held with sheep by Hillfling and Petersen--this was before 1862. Other
stations occupied somewhere about this time, or even earlier, were
Strathmore and Sonoma, held by Sellheim and Touissaint, with stock from
Canning Downs. These stations were a stage still further north, the
surrounding country being fine open forest land, very well grassed and
watered. These runs were the first taken up in the pastoral district
called Kennedy.

The main stock route northward followed the Bowen River settlements
crossing Pelican Creek, a tributary of the Bowen, through Sonoma run,
then to the Bogie, and across to the Burdekin River, following up that
stream to the Clarke and Lynd Rivers. Knowledge of a great pastoral
country away to the shores of the Gulf and extending far up the Burdekin
River was in the possession of many pioneer explorers whose names are
unrecorded, and the tide of advancing settlement followed on as fast as
was possible, stations being formed to the right and left of the main
routes, while others moved forward with a restless energy that nothing
would satisfy but the best country for their stock. One route turned on
the Bowen River to the west, and crossed the Suttor River above Mount
McConnel near the junction of the Cape River that came in from the
westward. This stock track soon became a main road owing to the traffic
which was carried on from the newly-opened port of Bowen or Port Denison
to the western settlements, even to Bowen Downs station.

[Page 114]

The road led across the Leichhardt Range--another heavy piece for teams,
equal to Connor's Range, the sharp stones laming the bullocks, and
making the ascent a trial of patience and endurance to man and beast. A
station called Natal Downs was held by Kellet and Spry on the Cape
River, and by this route a great many of the early settlers in the far
west travelled their stock during 1864-65. The blacks were aggressive in
those days on Natal Downs, and were in the habit of cutting off the
shepherds at outstations; it was reported and believed that as many as
eighteen shepherds were killed at various outstations in the first few
years of settlement there.

Onward and westward went the movement of stock. The principal topic of
conversation turned always upon new country, the latest discoveries of
good grazing lands, and the men who were following with sheep and
cattle. The way out west in those first days led up the Cape River
through poor country, with a good deal of spinifex grass and patches of
poison bush. On the flat tableland dividing the Gulf waters from those
flowing towards the Thomson, were a series of large shallow swamps,
known as Billy Webb's Lake, a kind of halting place for stock. Between
this and the Flinders waters lies a tract of country nearly two hundred
miles in width, called the Desert--and the name is a well-deserved one.

[Page 115]

The Desert consists of spinifex ridges and sandy sterile country,
covered in large patches with the desert poison shrub botanically known
as "Gastrolobium grandiflora." This dangerous plant grows to a height of
six to eight feet in separate bushes, and exhibits a bluish-silvery
sheen conspicuous afar off. It bears a scarlet blossom like a vetch, and
the leaf is indented at the outer end. Its poisonous nature was soon
proved by the first stock that attempted the passage. Many of the early
drovers lost large numbers of both cattle and sheep from its deadly
effects. In one camp, Halloran's and Alexander's, as many as 1,500 sheep
died in one night from eating it. All the stock passing through this
belt of desert country paid some tribute to its evil properties. This
poison plant is peculiar to the strip of desert country that extends
along the dividing watershed for many hundreds of miles, from the Alice
River reaching north as far as the Lynd.

The symptoms of poisoning from this plant are a kind of madness, causing
animals to rush about furiously, and then, becoming paralysed, to fall
helpless to the ground, and soon expire. There are but one or two
varieties of the plant in Queensland, though in Western Australia twelve
or fourteen varieties of Gastrolobium are found.

[Page 116]

Besides the destructive poison plant, there is the evil-smelling
repellant spinifex growing through this strip of vile country, as well
as a low, close scrub, through all of which stock has to be got before
the open plain country is reached. A great scarcity of surface water,
and low stony ridges with heavy patches of red sand, are characteristic
of poison country. Glad indeed were the pioneers to leave it behind, and
with great satisfaction to stand on the rocky eminence that bounded it
on the western side, whence they looked down the open valley of the
Jardine, and beheld the downs and the grassy plains of the Flinders
spreading out before them for many miles. The sight came as a surprise
and relief after so much disagreeable travelling through the worst
portion of North Queensland, especially should a thunderstorm have
passed over the country recently and caused a spring in the herbage. The
Flinders River flowing to the west and north-west towards the Gulf of
Carpentaria, through most extensive plains and downs, traverses a
different geological formation to that which the pioneers crossed when
coming from the east coast. The edge of the great cretaceous formation
which forms the major portion of the western country, is here entered on
for the first time, and a new strange world seems to open up. A new
fauna and flora is evident on the very first entrance into the new
region; the birds are different and more numerous; galas, parrots, and
pigeons abound, and assure the newcomer that he has found a new pastoral
country, the grasses and herbage of which are more permanent, enduring
and nutritive than those he has hitherto met with.

[Page 117]

The downs, covered with the Mitchell grass, with scarcely a bush or
shrub to break the monotony, stretch away as far as the eye can see;
while the heavy timber along the creeks and rivers indicates their
course. A dreary monotony prevails on the western rivers, the same
everlasting plains, the same great grassy waste of downs like an ocean
without its interesting motion. Far ahead can be seen the river timber
winding through the brown plains, so that the traveller can see a whole
day's stage ahead. For over a hundred of miles along the northeastern,
or right bank of the Flinders River, is a tableland of basaltic
formation, near which the river winds its course; a dark fringe of rocks
rises abruptly, broken here and there by indentations through which flow
creeks to join the main channel. The cone of eruption for this vast
overflow of lava is said to be somewhere about Mount Sturgeon, to the
eastward. The lava has flowed over the original sandstone formation, and
formed a level tableland now broken and covered with black, porous
blocks of lava of every size. It is utilised for pasture purposes,
notwithstanding its forbidding aspect.

Some time after Rule and Lacy stocked the Aramac, Mr. Hodgson arrived on
it with sheep and took up and stocked Rodney Downs; he crossed the
spinifex country from the Belyando to the Alice River, and lost about
six thousand sheep on this track by poison bush, the Gastrolobium
grandiflora.

[Page 118]

Mr. Meredith arrived in May of the same year on the Thomson, and took up
and stocked Tower Hill station. During June of this year the Thomson and
Aramac Creek were in high flood; Rule and Lacy were flooded out of their
first camp, and removed to where Aramac station now is. Some stockmen
looking after the company's cattle on an anabranch of Cornish Creek,
were surrounded by water, and lived on jerked beef for a month. About
July the head station was shifted up to Cornish Creek, taking the name
of Bowen Downs with it, which name it has since retained. In 1872 the
cattle station was formed into a separate establishment under the
management of Mr. E. R. Edkins, who called it Mount Cornish, in honor of
the late E. B. Cornish, of Sydney. This year wound up with a wet
Christmas. Wages in those days were very high, stockmen getting as much
as 40s. a week, and cooks 30s.; any old horse would bring 25. The year
1864 may be styled the year of Hegira or flight of stock outwards to
settle new country; they came from all parts, and helped to fill the
land everywhere with the beginning of civilisation. A boom had set in
for pastoral occupation; the reports of recent explorations told of
enormous tracts of grand open country waiting for stock to utilise it,
and each one was anxious to be the first to secure some of it for his
sheep or cattle. The head of the Flinders River was occupied by a few
settlers, and two lots of sheep passed Bowen Downs, en route to the
Flinders.

[Page 119]

They belonged to Kirk and Sutherland, and Mr. J. L. Ranken, and came
from Fort Cooper way, losing heavily in crossing the range between Bully
Creek and Lake Buchanan, between eight and ten thousand sheep perishing
through eating the desert poison bush. They discovered what was the
cause of such losses by feeding some sheep on the suspected plant when
they died with all the symptoms of the victims in the desert track. The
first white man known to have been killed by the blacks on the Thomson
was one of the shepherds with Kirk and Sutherland's sheep. He was killed
on Duck Pond Creek, a tributary of Cornish Creek. After he was buried,
the blacks dug the body up at night and drove a stake through it,
pinning it to the ground. Kirk and Sutherland must have reached the
Flinders about April, and then occupied and stocked Marathon. Mr. J. L.
Ranken occupied Afton Downs, but was dried out the following year, and
he lost a number of his sheep in consequence of having to remove them
lower down the Flinders. In March of this year Mr. Meredith, of Tower
Hill, formed a station on the east side of Landsborough Creek, naming it
Eversleigh, and stocked it with cattle. In March also Bowen Downs sent
cattle up the Landsborough for the purpose of stocking the west side of
the creek. The men with the cattle had a very rough trip, as there was
incessant rain, and the country became one vast quagmire; all their
rations and ammunition were spoilt, and they had to live on young calf,
"staggering bob," as they called it.

[Page 120]

Mr. E. H. Butler was in charge, and after leaving the cattle, started
for home at the Mud Hut, when a thunderstorm occurred that put out their
fire and wet all their matches. The river branches were flooded, and
during the next two days they had nothing to eat, and no fire, and were
drenched to the skin by thunderstorms; their packhorse with all their
blankets had knocked up, and they passed the night without sleep, being
wet and cold and hungry; next morning they had to swim the main branch
of the river, and then walk four miles to the station, leaving behind
one of their mates knocked up on an island in the river. About September
of this year (1864), Bowen Downs despatched about fifteen hundred head
of cattle in charge of Mr. Donald McGlashen to the Gulf of Carpentaria
for the purpose of taking up country and stocking it. These cattle
travelled up the Landsborough, crossed the watershed on to Walker's
Creek, followed it down to the Flinders, and down that river to the turn
off to Sackey's Lagoon, and down the Alexandra to the Leichhardt, then
across by Miller's Waterhole to Beame's Brook, where the first station
was formed called the Brook, about sixteen miles above where Burketown
now stands; they arrived there before the end of 1864, and were the
first stock to occupy the Gulf country.

[Page 121]

When Mr. Landsborough left the Albert River on his trip in search of
Burke and Wills, he left a four hundred gallon tank there with a lot of
rations in it for the use of any distressed explorers or others, and
fastened the lid in such a way that he thought the blacks would be
unable to open it; but when Mr. McGlashen found the tank, he discovered
that the blacks had solved the problem, and the rations were not there.
When they were mustering these cattle before starting, the boss, Mr. A.
Scott Holmes, riding along with a stockman, met a blackfellow whose gin
had two half-caste children with her, aged about nine and seven years;
the blackfellow evidently wanted them to see the children, as he kept
pointing to them. Some years after this it was reported that two
halfcastes were with the blacks out to the west of the Thomson, but
nothing more was heard of them.

It was during this year of 1864 that the first settlers found their way
to the Barcoo, although the fame of its pastures had been known years
before from the reports of Sir Thomas Mitchell and others explorers.
Among the first to settle there was J. T. Allen, who took up Enniskillen
in 1862, and who still resides there. Bell and Button took up Tambo
station, close to where the township of the same name sprang up
afterwards. Govett and Parsons took up Terrick, and Yaldwyn occupied
Ravensbourne, while Moor and Reid held Moorsland, now called Lome. Henry
Edwards, from the Burnett, took up Malvern, which was sold the same year
to the Ellis Bros., who then occupied Portland.

[Page 122]

In 1865, C. Lumley Hill, with Allen and Holberton, took up Isis Downs.
Then a pause ensued in occupying new runs, and progress was checked; but
after the passing of the Pastoral Leases Act of 1869, which gave greater
facilities for the occupation of new country, and more liberal terms,
many runs were occupied; among them, Mr. Hill held Westlands. A. B.
Buchanan took up Wellshot, while Welford took up Welford Downs, and was
killed by the blacks in 1872. Among the runs opened in those days were
Tocal, Bimerah, Mount Marlow, and Louisa Downs. The stock to occupy all
these runs in those early days mainly came from the Darling Downs and
Burnett, as in the first days of the Queensland Parliament an Act was
passed excluding New South Wales stock. Mr. Hill, in 1874, sold Isis
Downs, which was divided into three runs called Albilbah, Ruthven, and
Isis Downs. A great deal of the western plain country was occupied
during the years between 1865 and 1870, and a great deal of interest and
energy was exhibited in taking up and selling large blocks of fine
pastoral country. Sheep for stocking country rose to high prices, but
when the crisis occurred, there was a collapse in values, and many
abandoned a good deal of the country and disappeared from the scene.

Berkelman and Lambert discovered and settled Elizabeth Creek and
Listowel Downs. Mr. H. E. King was the first Land Commissioner, and
superintended the laying out of Tambo, the first town on the Barcoo. The
price of carriage for supplies in those day was 46 per ton. Cameron and
Crombie took up Barcaldine in 1864 with sheep from New England, and, in
conjunction with Mr. Allen, they also took up Home Creek, Enniskillen,
Minnie Downs, Vergemont, and Evesham.

[Page 123]

They brought their stock by the Burnett, the Dawson, and Springsure,
over the Expedition Range. There was the usual trouble with the blacks
after settling down. The natives killed the shepherds and robbed the
huts of rations and cooking utensils that were very difficult to replace
in those days. The Peak Downs was first reported on by Dr. Leichhardt,
but many years elapsed before occupation set in. Among those who were
prominent in the opening up and early settlement of the fine tableland
of Peak Downs, with its rich soil, were De Satge and Milford, of
Wolfang; Mackay, of Huntley; Gordon Sandeman, of Gordon Downs; Hood, of
Hood and Manning; and Lamb and Black, of Yamala.

As the character of the new country became known, many other runs near
Hughenden were occupied by overlanders struggling along with stock,
among them was Fairlight, on the basalt ridge, held with sheep by Henry
Berts. Afton Downs, as has already been mentioned, was taken up with
sheep by Mr. Ranken. who deserted it later with a considerable loss of
stock owing to drought. Kirk and Sutherland, who had come from Suttor
Creek with sheep in 1863 were also dried out from Marathon, and suffered
great losses. Both of these runs now possess flowing streams in every
direction, formed by artesian bores. Notable among the early settlers
was the family of the Annings, father and sons, from Victoria.

[Page 124]

They held Reedy Springs, on the head waters of the Flinders, Charlotte
Plains, and several other stations formed by their enterprise; the sons
still occupy the same country, and have grown gray in pioneering.
Another Victorian firm, Muirson, Jamieson and Thompson, occupied Mount
Emu with sheep in 1862, after much travelling about in search of
suitable country. Mrs. Thompson, with a young family, accompanied her
husband in those early pioneering days of roughness and privation, and
lived at Mount Emu for many years, where her large family grew up, and
her sons are now occupying runs throughout the district. The hospitality
of Mount Emu was proverbial, and the refinement that prevailed in all
the arrangements at the head station gave additional value to the
welcome that was extended to all travellers. On the Burdekin country,
the family of the Hanns, father and sons, possessed themselves of
Maryvale, a splendid piece of country.

The farthest outstation north in 1860-61 was that of W. Stenhouse, on
the Clarke, a tributary of the Burdekin. Seventy miles nearer Bowen, was
the station of Allingham Bros., and thirty-five miles still nearer port
were located the Messrs Cunningham. Ernest Henry very early took up
Mount McConnel, at the junction of the Suttor and Selheim Rivers; this
is one of the old landmarks of Leichhardt when on his trip to Port
Essington in 1844-45.

[Page 125]

Stock were taken there from Baroondah, on the Dawson, in 1860; and later
on Hughenden station was settled with stock taken from Mount McConnel.
Hughenden is situated at the beginning of the open plain country on the
Flinders; it was one of the first stations settled there in 1864. The
present head station is on the exact spot taken up so long ago, but is
somewhat different in style to the original slab hut on the ridge in
which Mr. R. R. Morrissett and his hutkeeper, old Jack Ryan, dwelt in
1864, when water for the use of the head station was drawn from the
junction of the creek with the river, that being the only surface water
within miles. Mr. Ernest Henry, a most energetic and indefatigable
pioneer carried on a good deal of prospecting on the Cloncurry, and was
the earliest discoverer of the mineral wealth of the district. A company
was formed in 1868 to work the copper lodes discovered by Mr. Henry, but
after expending large sums of money on smelting works, etc., they were
obliged to cease operations on account of the expense of carriage and
the low price of copper. H. Devilin was one of the most active and
venturesome pioneers in discovering and making known to others the
country on the Flinders. He opened the way for several stockowners in
that extensive district, though he himself does not appear to have had
much personal interest in any of the speculations.

[Page 126]

In opening up the highway through the head of the Flinders to the far
west, these pioneers were the forerunners of the great wave of
settlement that followed on immediately afterwards, notwithstanding the
deterrent features of the desert and the poison bush, through which they
had to pass with their stock. Up to 1864 the runs that had been stocked
on the Upper Flinders downs were Fairlight, by Betts and Oxley with
sheep, and Telemon station by Collins and Waipole. This last property is
now owned by J. L. Currie, of Melbourne, is mostly freehold, and with
the discovery of artesian water, and the introduction of fine wooled
sheep, has become a most valuable estate. It consists of open rolling
downs, with patches of gidya, a species of acacia. Marathon, on the
Upper Flinders, was taken up by R. H. Sheaffe, who for five years
represented the Burke district in the Legislative Assembly. The run was
sold by him to Kirk and Sutherland, who were in search of grass for
their sheep. Marathon is now owned by a Melbourne firm, and by means of
artesian wells, carries 200,000 sheep. After being dried out from Afton
Downs, John Ranken, a member of a very old colonial family in New South
Wales, eventually found his way to Barkly Tableland, where he settled
for a time. Afton Downs is situated on Walker's Creek, a tributary of
the Flinders on the western side, and is of the usual open rolling downs
formation. All these runs, as previously mentioned, were occupied before
the discovery of artesian springs, and therefore subject to being
periodically dried out. At the present day, with judicious expenditure
on artesian wells, and other improvements, this run annually shears
close on 100,000 sheep.

[Page 127]

Following down the Flinders through the great plain country, the next
station occupied was Richmond Downs, where a struggling township named
Richmond now stands; this was held in 1864 by Bundock and Hays, with
cattle from the Clarence River, in New South Wales. They lost many on
their way out by pleuro-pneumonia and the desert poison bush already
described. Opposite to Richmond Downs, across the Flinders River,
Kennedy and Macdonald took up about the same time a run which they
called Cambridge Downs, now a large sheep station. All these runs on the
Upper Flinders were first settled in 1864, and formed an outpost of
settlement by which other pioneers directed their course lower down the
river. During 1865 and the following year, another wave of occupation
flowed on past these outside stations, and the new pioneers finding
country further on, became in their turn a starting point for others,
and still the tide flowed outwards and westwards till all available
country was taken up. Those who came out during 1864 and 1865 had a
serious difficulty to contend with in facing a drier season than has
since been experienced up to 1897. The pioneers with their stock were
compelled to follow the course of the river, as it was almost certain
death to go far to the west looking for water or country.

[Page 128]

All the tributary creeks of the Flinders were dry, and those who
ventured out had soon to return to the main watercourse. The native dogs
crowded in on the Flinders in thousands, and the 'blacks themselves had
also to resort to it. During that trying season, none of the rivers ran
in their channels, and even most of the large waterholes in the bed of
the Flinders dried up, while stages of thirty or forty miles without
water were frequent. Notwithstanding these drawbacks to stockowners who
were on the search for some unfrequented nook to unharness on, the crowd
pressed on in the hope of better country ahead, some Canaan far beyond,
where hills were always green and water abundant. These men followed
each other in quick succession and took up runs on the Lower Flinders
and all over the Gulf country, wherever water could be found.

This settlement, carried out in those early years, was most extensive
and comprehensive, and during the time the western country was being
sought out and utilised the Burdekin was being stocked in every part.
One of the pioneers was Mr. Robert Stewart, of Southwick station, on
Fletcher's Creek, a stream of pure, clear water, flowing from the great
basaltic wall into the Burdekin. Reedy Lake station was stocked with
sheep by O'Reilly and Reeve, near Dalrymple, where the main route from
Bowen to the Gulf crossed the Burdekin River. Many other runs were taken
up on the Burdekin and towards the coast, and many soon changed hands,
the first settlers passing on to occupy country in the interior.

[Page 129]

Several of these firstcomers took up coast runs and stocked them with
sheep, believing they would thrive there. This was found to be a
mistake, and from Wide Bay to the north scarcely any sheep are now to be
met with on coastal runs. For a few years in some places they did well
enough, but they soon began to die from fluke, worms, and grass seeds,
and they were accordingly replaced by cattle. The sheep on being removed
to western pastures throve well, and soon recovered health. The seeds of
the spear grass (Andropogon contortus) were a terrible scourge--they are
finely barbed and intensely sharp and hard; once entered they pass right
through the skin of the sheep, even into the flesh, causing great
annoyance and leading to poverty and death. The soil in which this grass
thrives best is in the sandy strips along the banks of creeks. After
seeding, the heads bunch together, in tangled masses, and shower the
seeds on to sheep passing through. It is of use as a fodder grass only
when young and green, although cattle thrive fairly well upon it, and
its presence in any quantity at once determines whether the pasturage is
favourable to sheep or not. The cattle that were brought from Bowen
Downs to stock the runs taken up on the Gulf, were brought to their
northern starting point from Fort Cooper and further south during 1860
by N. Buchanan and W. Landsborough, who were both very active and
enterprising in opening up new country.

[Page 130]

This splendid property (Bowen Downs) was settled by the Landsborough
River Company, held in shares by Messrs. N. Buchanan, W. Landsborough,
Cornish, and W. Glen Walker, with Messrs. Morehead and Young, of Sydney.
The first four went out of the company shortly afterwards, and Mr.
Cornish, after visiting the Gulf country, fell a victim to maladies
contracted during the journey. Mount Cornish was known in the early days
as the Mud Hut. Mr. E. R. Edkins, who has now been the manager for many
years, was among the very early drovers of stock to the Gulf. He left
the Murray in 1861, and started from the Gil-gil in January, 1862,
passed Rockhampton, took in charge Mr. R. Stewart's cattle, and brought
them to Fletcher's Creek, now South wick, on the Lower Burdekin, and
reached Maryvale in September of that year. He then returned to the
Murray, and brought out another lot of cattle, passing Bowen in April,
1864. Here the cattle were placed in quarantine. After being inoculated
for pleuro, they travelled on to Mount Emu, in September, 1864. James
Gibson also took up a run on Junction Creek, also Wanda Vale and Cargoon
stations.

Among the settlers who were first in the new country on the Flinders
were Messrs. Little and Hetzer, who took up a run called Uralla, near
the junction of the Saxby and Flinders Rivers. Their stock consisting of
cattle and sheep came by Bowen Downs to the head of the Flinders, and
then followed the usual route. The blacks made some trouble at the
station and several lives were sacrificed.

[Page 131]

Others of the pioneers to try their fortune in the general rush for new
country were the Earle Brothers, who had a station near Bowen; one of
them, Mr. Thomas Earle, took up country on Spear Creek, the head of the
Norman River, in 1865, and called the station Iffley. The season was so
uncommonly dry, that permanent water was the chief attraction, and the
splendid waterhole at Iffley, more than two miles long, and very deep,
decided the Earles to fix themselves there with their cattle and drays.
There was at the time a vast extent of country open for settlement; the
terms were fairly liberal, and the prospects good for those in search of
new runs. The settlers were like a great advancing army, confident in
their numbers and strength; and so they advanced into the unknown land,
and left the rest to fortune. They came from all the settled parts of
Australia; that was what induced Mr. H. F. Smith, of Barnes and Smith,
to bring cattle from Lyndhurst and take up a run on the Lower Flinders,
called Tempe Downs, on L Creek, so called from a tree marked L, one of
Leichhardt's marked trees when on his expedition to Port Essington,
1844-5. In 1865 James Kennedy took stock from Cambridge Downs, and
held a fine run on the Upper Leichhardt River, calling it Pentland
Downs. In the same year, James Cassidy occupied country lower down on
the same river with sheep. One of the pioneers who went through much
personal privation and hardship in the general forward march to discover
new country, was Mr. Reginald Halloran, associated with his
brother-in-law, Mr. Robert Alexander, of Proston, on the Burnett.

[Page 132]

They suffered heavy losses among the sheep while going through the
desert, from the poison plant, and also from want of water. With the
party was a young fellow named Briggs, who was killed by the blacks on
Skeleton Creek before reaching Hughenden, while a detachment of the
party was camped there. The remnant of the stock that survived the trip
were placed on a piece of country on the Lower Flinders, which they
named Home Creek, but which was soon deserted by this firm, though held
as a station years afterwards. Mr. Halloran was a man conspicuous for
his utter disregard of personal comfort; he would start on a ride of a
hundred miles without rations or blanket, trusting to the chapter of
accidents for food, and to his saddle cloth for covering for the night,
and he was always welcome at any camp owing to his geniality and fund of
humour. The young fellow, Briggs, who met with an untimely death, had
arrived at the advance camp only the night before for rations, and while
alone in the tent next morning, the other man being absent
horse-hunting, a party of blacks visited the camp. The white man showed
fight, breaking a gun over the head of one of the blacks, but was soon
killed, and when the horse-hunter returned, he found Briggs dead and the
camp looted.

[Page 133]

A place called Sorghum Downs, on the Lower Cloncurry, now part of
Conobie, was claimed by an old colonist and pioneer named Murdoch
Campbell; he and his wife (a Devonshire woman), had camped on the Bowen
River in 1863, but it was a long time before they found their way out so
far west. Mrs. Campbell's hospitality and kindness to all travellers was
one of the pleasant remembrances of those early hard times. Campbell
died in 1867, and Mrs. Campbell ultimately went to New Zealand, where
she had friends. A small firm of two men, Anderson and Trimble,
successful diggers from the Snowy River, in New South Wales, joined the
rest of the pushing crowd, and held a good run on the Saxby River with
sheep.

Still the tide of occupation flowed on, and when all the available
watered runs around the Gulf were occupied in 1865 and the following
year, those remaining unsatisfied, marched on, restless as the surges
that beat on the shore. Several of those in charge of stock travelled up
the Gregory River southwards, and out far away on to Barkly Tableland,
discovered by Mr. W. Landsborough. These were among the first to make
known the capabilities of this splendid district. The Stieglitz Brothers
held country far away to the south on the Herbert River, called now the
Georgina, having passed through all the Flinders and Gulf country
unrewarded.

[Page 134]

Gregg and Nash, with sheep for the Messrs. J. and E. Brown, of
Newcastle, followed on the far away track to the inland Never-Never,
Mrs. Gregg and her daughter accompanying the party in all their
wanderings. The attention and hospitality of this lady to all travellers
was as conspicuous as it was highly prized, and it will not be easily
forgotten. Several other pioneers occupied runs on the Barkly
tablelands, which was recognised as some of the finest pastoral land in
Queensland. In after years, when this country came to be restocked by a
new generation from the south, after being deserted and forsaken by the
original pioneers, the new settlers were surprised to find evidences of
a previous occupation. Where the early settlers had come from, where
they had gone to, and who they were, were matters of curiosity; sheets
of galvanised iron they well knew did not grow like the gidya trees,
neither were old sheepyards (built of basaltic stones) the work of
blacks. But who those early pioneers were, and what their fate, was
utterly unknown, and caused much speculation.

All the country bordering on the Gulf suitable for grazing purposes was
portioned out and occupied between the years 1864 and 1868. Though in
most cases the number of stock on each run was small, the runs were
numerous, and most of the owners were resident. It was recognised that a
great future was in store for this vast new territory just opening up to
enterprise and capital. The Plains of Promise, named by one of the early
navigators (Captain Stokes, of the "Beagle," in 1842), had been much
talked of for years, but when they were stocked, the distant fields lost
much of their interest.

[Page 135]

The fine rivers flowing into the Gulf of Carpentaria, through hundreds
of miles of open plains and rolling downs, covered with permanent and
valuable pasturage, gave to the early settlers good reasons for
believing they were the pioneers in opening up a grand and
wealth-producing territory.

Stations were formed, stock brought out, improvements made, and the way
opened for permanent occupation. The high hopes entertained seemed
likely to be realised, until a change came over the aspect of things--a
change brought about by influences far removed from the local scene, and
in which the settlers had no voice--a change in which no amount of
energy or sacrifice on their part could avail aught. The days of
commercial panic set in, culminating in the crisis of 1868-69, the march
of settlement was instantly checked, and the outward flow of
civilisation turned backwards. The financial crisis was felt all over
the mercantile world; banks of old standing collapsed, and low prices
for wool and stock, and all station produce, brought the pastoral
industry to a low ebb.

In consequence of these monetary disturbances, agents declined to find
money to carry on places so far distant as the Gulf stations even the
little required for current expenses. All credit was stopped, and
supplies also, and as the newly-formed stations could not be made
self-supporting in the absence of local markets, the stock had to be
abandoned or removed.

[Page 136]

The tide began to ebb at a greater rate than it had risen; some of the
stock were sent south, while the rest were boiled down, scarcely
clearing expenses in either case; the improvements were abandoned as
well as the runs. The sheep came in from Barkly Tableland, the Gregory,
and the Leichhardt, and by the year 1871, there were but few runs
occupied. The great flood of 1869-70 helped to fill the cup of
misfortune for the Gulf residents; no such flood was ever dreamt of, or
has ever been seen since; it rained all January, February, and most of
March, and the rivers covered all the plain country, though the loss of
stock was small. A few runs on the Flinders and Cloncurry were still
kept in occupation, but they were not many, and these only struggled
along, hoping for better times. No value was attached to runs or stock
in any of the Gulf country then, as runs could be obtained much nearer
settlement for next to nothing, many being thrown up through the general
depression. It seemed as if the bottom had fallen out of the pastoral
industry, and hope had gone, but relief came sooner than was expected.
The Etheridge goldfield was opened, and served to employ a good deal of
the floating population. This field is situated to the east of Normanton
on the Delany and Etheridge Rivers, about 250 miles towards the east
coast.

[Page 137]

The discovery of auriferous reefs there, as well as some alluvial gold,
helped to keep trade alive, until the discovery of the rich fields on
the Palmer in 1873, when a great demand set in for cattle. The financial
depression lifted, the price of wool went up 100 per cent., and a demand
again arose for runs to stock; the old ones were all taken up, new
country was applied for, and the voice of the man with money was heard
again in the land. In the years following, up to 1884, much speculation
was carried on in buying and selling runs and stock, and country for
occupation was as eagerly sought after as in the early days.

Advantage was taken of the liberal provisions of the Pastoral Leases Act
of 1869, to take up unoccupied country, even if it was dry. Cattle were
selling on the Palmer diggings at 10 and 12 a head cash, and the
supply of bullocks was not equal to the demand, because the runs had
been so thinned by the exodus of stock south to clear expenses, that no
surplus was available to meet such a sudden demand as that caused by the
arrival of 20,000 diggers in the north. Then the tide flowed again, and
became the flood that helped to fill the country with work and life.
Cattle came out in large numbers, and passed on to occupy country in the
northern territory of South Australia, and even in Western Australia. As
many as 30,000 head passed over the border in one year at Burketown, for
the purpose of stocking country around Port Darwin.

[Page 138]

For several years travelling stock went out to the far north-west, and
all had to pass through the Gulf country. The route followed from the
borders of Queensland was by the track that Leichhardt took on his
journey to Port Essington, between the tableland and salt water,
crossing the Macarthur, Roper, Calvert, and other rivers. Stations were
occupied on the Orde and Victoria Rivers on the Cambridge Gulf side with
stock from North Queensland. In those districts some very fine open
downs country had recently been discovered. Fisher and Lyons had 20,000
head of cattle sent out to their country in the north-west. Osman and
Panton also had large numbers of cattle from Queensland. Dr. Brown is
reported to have expended 100,000 is sending sheep and cattle from the
Adelaide side to the northern territory. The stocking of this far away
country was extremely expensive owing to the distance the cattle had to
travel, and the unusually high percentage of losses on the way. Some of
the stock were two years on the road, and a new disease called red water
attacked them when passing the Roper River. This disease is supposed to
be due to cattle ticks (Ixodes Bovis), and has since carried disaster
into many herds in Queensland. The average cost of some of the cattle
when arrived on their country was equal to 7 a head, in consequence of
losses and expenses.

[Page 139]

The Gordon Brothers were among the early drovers to take stock over the
borders to West Australia, and they made several trips. The Duracks are
another family of pioneer settlers in the northern territory, and held
extensive possessions. The country bordering the rivers that flow into
the Cambridge Gulf was reported to be of a superior description and of a
fattening nature. Though much of the country in the northern territory
was reckoned of an inferior description for grazing, the encouraging
terms of leasing offered by the South Australian Government induced many
to venture on the hazardous undertaking. The markets opened up by the
goldfields of Port Darwin repaid some of their enterprise. Bullocks were
sold at from 17 to 20 cash for butchering purposes. Eventually a
shipping trade in cattle was opened up with Singapore from Port Darwin;
a company built special steamers for carrying stock and passengers to
the northern ports. The results have proved satisfactory, as the s.s.
"Darwin" lately (1897) took a cargo of 190 head of fat bullocks on
board, this being her forty-second trip.

The Cape York Peninsula, within which was found the rich Palmer
diggings, came in for a share of settlement between 1875 and 1880. The
first of the early pioneers to take up a cattle run on the Mitchell
River was Mr. A. C. Grant, now of Messrs. B. D. Morehead and Co. He left
the Bowen River with three hundred fat cattle from Havilah station for
Messrs. Skene and Henderson, and took up Wrotham Park in 1873, situated
between the Mitchell and Walsh Rivers, on Elizabeth Creek, 120 miles
N.N.E. from Georgetown, a nice open piece of country, consisting of
black soil flats and ridges.

[Page 140]

The cattle he took up realised 11 5s. per head cash all round; beef was
then selling on the field at 1s. per lb. Mr. Patrick Callaghan held a
few blocks of country along the Mitchell River, chiefly as a depot for
bullocks for sale on the various diggings, as he became a large buyer of
cattle from the local market in conjunction with F. Leslie, J. Edwards,
and J. Duff. The transactions and profits of this enterprising firm were
on a very large scale, one partner travelling outside buying cattle,
another superintending the supply to local butchers, and the other two
attending to the gold buying, slaughtering, and financial business of
the concern. The next to take up country for pastoral purposes on the
Mitchell water was Edward Palmer (the author of these notes), who, in
conjunction with John Stevenson and Walter Reid, took up and stocked
Gamboola in 1879 with cattle from Ravenswood and Mount McConnel runs.
The extent of good pasture land on the Mitchell waters, or anywhere on
the Peninsula, further north, is limited. When the Palmer goldfield was
opened the farthest outstation stocked on the overland route was Mount
Surprise, on Junction Creek, held by the Firths, and this was over 200
miles from the diggings by the nearest practicable road. The road was
opened by drovers taking stock, and carriers and miners passing
northwards with their faces set direct to the wonderful land of gold.

[Page 141]

The road crossed the Tate, the Walsh, and the Mitchell Rivers, and then
followed up the Palmer River through some of the roughest country in
North Queensland. When Cooktown was opened as a port for the diggings,
the overland route was abandoned for dray traffic, and droving stock
alone used it. The consumption of beef on the field for several years
demanded an average annual supply of from 15,000 to 20,000 head, most of
the cattle realising from 7 to 10 each. The stock came from coastal
runs mostly, Dotswood and the Burdekin country supplying much of it,
Bowen Downs and Aramac+ also sending in many large mobs. Very few
breeding cattle were brought out, but some small runs towards Cooktown
were occupied with cattle, the country consisting of open timbered
ridges of only a second-class description, but fairly well watered.

[+ The word "Aramac" was coined by the late Mr. W. Landsborough. the
well-known explorer, and is an euphonious abbreviation of the name of
the late Sir Robert Ramsey Mackenzie, who was Colonial Secretary in the
first Macalister Ministry (1866) and Colonial Treasurer and Premier
1867-8. Mr. Landsborough was fond of coining words by joining the first
syllable of one name to the first syllable of another name--thus the run
known as "Willandspey," on Vine Creek, near Mount Hope, just below the
junction of the Belyando and Suttor Rivers, is a combination of the
names of William Landsborough and Peyton, the first lessee of the run.]

[Page 142]

The Mitchell River was named by Dr. Leichhardt in memory of another
explorer, Sir Thomas Mitchell. Leichhardt saw this river where it
junctioned with the Lynd, and one of his old camps is still to be seen
on the Lynd a little above this junction. It is really a beautiful
river, with a clear running stream all the year round, and some deep
reaches of still water; the banks are covered with scrubs of pencil
cedar and a great variety of hanging vines and thick shrubs. The
principal source of the river is near Port Douglas on the east coast,
within six miles of the township, on the top of the range, from whence
the water flows north-west, and continues its course to the Gulf of
Carpentaria, where it empties itself in latitude 15 deg. 10 sec. In its
course, it receives the waters of the Walsh, Lynd, and Palmer Rivers, as
well as the Hodgkinson, and becomes a mighty stream. Indeed it is one of
the most picturesque and interesting rivers in Queensland. The upper
parts of this stream were explored by J. V. Mulligan and his party of
prospectors in 1875. Leichhardt followed it below the junction of the
Lynd when on his trip to Port Essington, before leaving it to cross to
the Gulf country. The Mitchell River country is famous for its native
game; the scrubs abound with wallaby, turkeys, and pigeons; the river
and lagoons teem with fish of every variety, and waterfowl cover the
shallow waters where the alligators are unable to reach them. The open
country surrounding has the large kangaroo and the common bustard (plain
turkey) in abundance.

[Page 143]

The country fattens stock, and is well watered. It consists of alluvial
soil and open ridges of a sandy nature, where the grass is coarse and is
covered with a low mimosa scrub.

Among the many other disabilities that cattle were subject to in this
new country was a poison bush or tree, growing along the banks of creeks
and rivers, called the peach tree (Cannabis sp.) It is said to have been
the cause of many deaths, for hundreds of cattle that were unused to the
plant died along the bends of the rivers, though young stock bred in the
country appeared to be immune to its evil effects. Notwithstanding all
these drawbacks and discouragements, runs were taken up on the Archer
and other rivers in the Peninsula as far as Cape York, and the rivers
flowing into Princess Charlotte's Bay were all occupied by the pioneers
of settlement in face of all opposition and discouragement.

[Page 144]



CHAPTER VII. - THE RISE OF THE NORTHERN TOWNS.


The site of Rockhampton, now the principal city of Central Queensland,
was chosen in 1855 by Mr. Wiseman, a Land Commissioner of New South
Wales who had been despatched from Sydney to confirm the Archer Brothers
in the possession of their Gracemere run. The town received its name
from the bar of rocks running across the river at the head of
navigation. Its first expansion dates from the rush to the Canoona
diggings, then called Port Curtis rush, which took place in 1858, as it
was then the nearest port to the field, and therefore handled all the
trade to and from the diggings. When the field was declared a "duffer,"
and the miners departed in disgust, they left the nucleus of a
settlement behind which was subsequently to become the seaport and
distributing centre for all the rich pastoral country now comprised in
the Central District. Among the first settlers to open up Gladstone was
R. E. Palmer, who built a large wool store and wharf so that the wool
from Rannes and other stations lately formed could be shipped from
there.

[Page 145]

He then took up Targinie cattle station over the harbour on the north
side. The town is now noted for its healthiness and pleasant climate,
and the beautiful view of the harbour, studded with islands. A North
Australian settlement was attempted here when the Gladstone Government
was in power, in January, 1847. Colonel Barney was head of the
colonising party in the "Lord Auckland." Both these names are
perpetuated in Barney Point, and Auckland Creek. The party were recalled
after three months stay, and the locality was left alone until 1854,
when Captain (afterwards Sir) Maurice O'Connell was sent up as
Government Resident.


The first to discover and report on the grand harbour of Port Denison
was Captain Sinclair, in the schooner "Santa Barbara." An expectation
had been held out by the New South Wales Government that a handsome
reward would be given to anyone who discovered a good harbour north of
Port Curtis.

In hope of obtaining this reward, this little craft of only nine tons
was fitted out at private expense, and sailed from Rockhampton on
September 1st, 1859. The party consisted of Captain Sinclair, master; W.
H. Thomas, seaman; and Messrs. James Gordon and Benjamin Poole,
passengers. After piloting their way through islands and reefs and heavy
storms, besides unknown dangers from the natives, they sailed into Port
Denison on October 17th, 1859, and were gratified and surprised to find
such a capacious and secure harbour.

[Page 146]

They landed and examined the bay, surveying and sketching some parts of
it, but owing to the hostility and treachery of the natives, who were
very numerous both on the islands and the mainland, they were not
permitted to extend their knowledge of the port. The "Santa Barbara"
left Port Denison on October 19th, and after boxing about for some time
among the Cumberland Islands, reached Keppel Bay on her return on
October 31st. The harbour is of an oval form, probably some ten miles in
extreme length, and about four miles across from Station Island to the
mainland; it is formed partly by an indentation in the coast, and partly
by two islands running across it. Here at last was a port that would be
a starting point for further settlement in the interior, a most suitable
and secure harbour, discovered and opened up without any expense to the
Government, and with such small means and outfit that the journal of
those enterprising and heroic voyagers reads like a tale of romance.
Although successful in this matter, they were not able to obtain the
promised reward, for just at that time the separation of the new colony
took place, and their claim was handed over to the new Government. A
petition presented to the Queensland Parliament procured no further
recognition than that Captain Sinclair was made Harbour Master, and Mr.
James Gordon the first customs officer in Townsville.

[Page 147]

Very little was at that time known of the interior comprising the
Kennedy district, which was thrown open to pastoral occupation on
November 17th, 1859, by proclamation of the New South Wales Government,
it being then part of that colony. Leichhardt had passed through it down
the Suttor; Mitchell just touched its southern extremity; Landsborough
penetrated from the direction of Fort Cooper, into the upper waters of
the Bowen, which river he discovered and called the Bonnar.

Bowen was settled by George Elphinstone Dalrymple, Police Magistrate and
Commissioner of Crown Lands, and several squatters who had come overland
with him, and also by a number of persons, including Mr. James Gordon,
who arrived at Bowen from Rockhampton per schooner "Jeannie Dove" with
stores, a few days before Mr. Dalrymple.

On the organisation of the new Queensland Government, a proclamation was
issued withdrawing the Kennedy district from occupation, and the tenders
previously received were returned to the tenderers.

These explorers of a new port and future city were deserving of a much
higher and better recognition than was accorded them by either
Government.

The first sale of Bowen town lands was held in Brisbane on October 7th,
1861, when eighty-nine lots were sold, realising 2,083.

[Page 148]

Many of those early investors were Brisbane men, well known in business
and the professions. The lots were mostly half-acres in area, and
averaged about 25 to 50 per acre, the first Bishop of Brisbane
(Tuffnell) figuring largely among the land buyers. In 1863 the demand
for land called for several sales, as the town was progressing on
account of the large overlanding of stock and the shipments of supplies
for parties taking up country to the north and west.

A land sale on April 20th, 1863, was held in Bowen, when seventy-nine
lots were sold, realising 1,718; all the lots went above the upset
price. On June 8th, 1863, another land sale took place in Bowen, when
seventy-four lots were sold, realising 1,135; among these were some
country lands in ten-acre lots, which realised the upset price, 3 7s.
6d. per acre. For town lots the upset price was 20 per acre; the
competition for fancy lots was keen enough to run them up to as much as
100 per lot. Still another land sale had to be held to keep pace with
the growing town, and the demands of speculators. This was held in Bowen
on August 3rd, 1863, when seventy-three lots found purchasers, realising
2,643. This sale consisted mostly of country lands, put up in lots of
from seventeen to fifty acres, at the upset price of 1 per acre; 1,518
acres were sold at this last land sale.

[Page 149]

These figures from official sources testify to the rapidity of the
expansion of the new town, and to the high expectations that were formed
as to its future rise and progress. Many familiar names occur in the
annals of the official register, but most of the purchasers are now
dead. Seaward, Marsh, and Genge, who had a large business as
storekeepers, figure extensively as buyers, also Mr. J. G. Macdonald,
James Hall Scott, Korah H. Willis, Thomas Cavanagh--a well-known
celebrity of Bowen--and many other old identities are called to mind by
looking through the list of the first land buyers in Bowen. Few now
remain of those early speculators. The treasury of the young colony
benefited by their ambition to hold land in the future capital of the
north by the sum of 7,579.

The town wore gay and holiday aspect when the Governor, Sir G. F. Bowen,
landed in 1865. The jetty at that time was being built, and the town was
filled with squatters from all parts of the north, getting supplies or
tendering for new country. Flags were flying, addresses of welcome were
presented, a bullock was roasted whole on the beach, barrels of beer
were on tap alongside the bullock, tons of bread were there to go with
it, and an assorted crowd was ready to do justice to both bullock and
beer. A levee was held, an undress one, of course, as evening dress had
not reached so far north at that time, but coats were found for every
one in which to make a bow to the Governor. The only block hat that had
reached the latitude of Bowen was worn by Mr. R. H. Smith, afterwards
member for the district, who had the honor of escorting His Excellency
up to the town. A ball was held in the evening in honor of the event,
and many other things took place that this chronicle will pass over.

[Page 150]

Frederick Bode, at Strathdon, W. Powell, of Salisbury Plains, J. G.
Macdonald, of Inkermann, Ceilings, at Eton Vale, A. C. Grant, at
Dartmoor, all were settlers in Bowen district in the early days.


Townsville was named after Captain Robert Towns, of Sydney, of the firm
of R. Towns and Co., who held stations inland from Cleveland Bay, and as
it became necessary to open some other port north of Bowen, which had
hitherto been the distributing centre, explorations were made by some of
the managers of these stations, foremost among whom was Mr. Ball, the
result being the discovery of the site of, the present town, which was
gazetted as a port of entry in October, 1865. On the 10th of that month,
Mr. James Gordon arrived to perform the duties of Sub-Collector of
Customs, and a great number of other official duties as well.


Cardwell is situated near the head of Rockingham Bay, opposite the north
end of Hinchinbrook Island, and distant north-west from Brisbane about
950 miles, in latitude 18 deg. 16 sec. S., longitude 146 deg. 4 sec. E.
Population of district and town, 3,435. The first settlement in the
locality took place in 1863, and it became a place of considerable
importance, being the nearest port on the east coast to the Gulf of
Carpentaria, but since then other ports have been opened, offering
greater facilities for shipping.

[Page 151]

The first telegraph line from the east coast to the Gulf of Carpentaria
commenced at Cardwell, but the expense connected with keeping the line
open across the Sea View Range and through the dense jungle on the coast
side thereof, proved too great, and the route was finally abandoned. Up
to 1873, Cardwell was the most northern port on the east coast of
Australia, and the port of entry for the Herbert River district. The
town is now in a languishing state, but the excellence of the port may
yet redeem it from obscurity.

It was from here that Kennedy's expedition took its final departure for
the north early in June, 1848, and in connection with that memorable
event, we may quote a paragraph recently appearing in a Queensland
journal:--

"A SAD REMEMBRANCE BRINGS."

Recently a remarkable discovery was made at the foot of the Coast Range
to the north of Cardwell relics of the vehicles left by Kennedy, the
explorer, when on his ill-fated journey up York Peninsula. It may be
remembered that the party landed at Tarn O'Shanter Point, Rockingham
Bay, on May 30th, 1848, and that on July 18th the carts were abandoned,
the party going on with twenty-six pack horses and fifty sheep. The
story of the fate of Kennedy and nearly all of those who accompanied him
has been frequently told, and the discovery of the remains of the carts,
which have lain for nearly half a century in the jungle, revives
interest in one of the saddest episodes in Australian exploration. The
exact locality of the relics is kept a strict secret, the possessor of
the secret being of opinion that he should profit by it. No doubt the
Government would be glad to secure information which would enable it to
establish the authenticity of statements which have been made on the
subject.

[Page 152]

The first intimation the southern parts had of the existence of gold in
the north was a telegram from Cardwell dated September 9th, 1873. It ran
as follows:--"Prospectors Mulligan, Brown, Dowdall, A. Watson, and D.
Robertson, got one hundred and five ounces on the Palmer River, which
they prospected for twenty miles. They say nothing of the country
outside the river. Nearly all are leaving here." This news spread like
wild-fire and created a great sensation all over Australia; the
difficulty was to get to the Palmer quick enough. The Government sent
Mr. Bartley Fahey, Sub-Collector of Customs at Normanton, to explore the
Mitchell River in order to open communication from Normanton towards the
new field. Mr. G. E. Dalrymple, leader of the north coast expedition,
was ordered to proceed to the Endeavour River, and he arrived at Cook's
Landing on October 24th, 1873, but the expedition was recalled. In the
meantime, the A. S. N. Co.'s steamer, the "Leichhardt" (Captain
Saunders), left Brisbane on October 15th with some members of the
Endeavour River expedition on board. Mr. A. C. MacMillan and his party
were taken on at Bowen. The "Leichhardt" arrived at Townsville on
October 20th, and took on all the horses, forty-six in number, and one
hundred and fifty diggers, all for the new Palmer rush.

[Page 153]

Mr. Howard St. George and party embarked at Cardwell, and on Saturday,
October 25th, 1873, the "Leichhardt" was made fast to the mangroves on
the Endeavour River, in sixteen feet of water, and the new township
began its existence on the site where the famous navigator, Captain
Cook, on June 17th, 1770, beached his damaged vessel for repairs. The
gold fever was irresistible, and helped to lift the town into prominence
at once, drawing people from all parts of Australia. Four months after
the landing of Mr. St. George, J. V. Mulligan, arriving from the Palmer
field, described Cooktown as a large progressing township, about half a
mile long, with stores, public houses, and shops of all sorts, with
steamers and other boats coming in and going out every few days, and
containing not less than two thousand people, though some estimated the
numbers at a much higher figure. Cooktown dates its existence from the
landing of the passengers by the steamer "Leichhardt" in 1873. The first
Police Magistrate appointed was Mr. Thomas Hamilton, who also acted as
Sub-Collector of Customs. Mr. James Pryde was the first Clerk of Petty
Sessions. When the first court was held on December 27th, 1873, it was
to deal with the charge of stealing a goat from Townsville.

[Page 154]

Mr. Gold Commissioner St. George, and Mr. A. C. MacMillan, soon started
on their expedition after landing at Cooktown, accompanied by eighty-six
diggers, the command being one hundred and eight strong. They reported
finding a good track to the Palmer. One reminiscence of their journey
remains in the name of the original track, which is now known as Battle
Camp, because the natives came down from the adjoining hills to dispute
the right of the white men to travel through their country. Things in
Cooktown kept booming along, and in April, 1874, there were from three
to four thousand people camped between Grassy Hill and the outside
boundary of Cooktown. During that month, sixty-five publicans' licenses
were issued, and thirty more applied for; there were also twenty eating
houses, twelve large stores, twenty small ones, six butchers, five
bakers, three tinsmiths, four tent makers, six hairdressers, seven
blacksmiths, besides doctors, chemists, fancy shops, watchmakers,
bootmakers, saddlers, etc., in proportion, and all going full speed
ahead. Until the discovery of the Palmer field, and the opening of
Cooktown, Cardwell was the most northern port of call on the Queensland
eastern coast, and was the telegraphic centre of news from the Etheridge
and Gilbert goldfields. The golden news from these far northern diggings
was of a most glittering nature, but there was a reverse side of the
picture in the hardships and privations endured.

[Page 155]

In 1874, the Cooktown "Courier" was started, and shortly afterwards the
"Herald." The journalistic standard of the early days of Cooktown was
esteemed, comparatively speaking, brilliant. The Queensland National
Bank opened a branch there in 1874, followed by the Bank of New South
Wales and The Australian Joint Stock Bank. Religion was not neglected
either. In 1876, Cooktown was pro-claimed a municipality, and from
thence to 1878, it prospered mightily. Gold was plentiful, and its
export was measured by the ton. The official returns in 1878 showed
something over forty tons as having passed through the Customs, but that
did not represent the measure of the enormous richness of the Palmer, as
thousands upon thousands of ounces of gold were secretly taken away to
China. Since then the goldfields have gradually dwindled down in their
returns, and the Palmer of to-day, or even the Palmer of a few years
ago, was not the grand and glorious field that made Cooktown rise like
magic by the side of its splendid harbour. The later discovery of tin on
Cannibal Creek, and the Annan River, again caused some stir in business,
but of a much quieter description than in the halcyon days of golden
light. The beche de mer industry has also been a great help to business
people in Cooktown. The great red-letter day in Cooktown was the turning
of the first sod for the Cooktown-Maytown Railway, on April 3rd, 1884,
by the Mayor, Mr. Edward D'Arcy, when a tremendous public demonstration
took place. Mr. George Bashford was the contractor for the first
section, and he gave a great banquet on the occasion, inviting people
from all parts of Queensland to be present.

[Page 156]

Like many other towns in Queensland, Cooktown in recent years has
suffered from depression, but there is a solid future before it still.
With one of the finest harbours on the east coast, it is the key to the
Torres Strait route and to New Guinea. The reef-bearing country on the
Palmer has still to be developed, and the great extent of this mineral
wealth is as yet quite under-rated. Besides containing tin and coal in
abundance, North Queensland has other grand resources in its back
pastoral and agricultural country.


The town of Normanton was opened by the settlers as a better port for
shipping for the Lower Flinders stations than Burketown, which was
inconvenient, being too far to the west, and difficult of access. The
Norman River, so called by Landsborough after the captain of the
Victorian Government ship "Victoria," is a fine and deep river.

Messrs. W. Landsborough and G. Phillips were the first to navigate the
Norman, in January, 1867. They chose the site for the township on the
left side of the river, where some high ironstone ridges come close in
on the river bank. Here was room for the extension of a large city,
naturally drained, and free from the possibility of floods, with ready
access to the back country. Unfortunately, the upper reaches of the
river are obstructed by bands of rocks running across from bank to bank,
that hinder navigation. These, however, could be removed at small cost.

[Page 157]

Among the first to settle in the town was Dr. Borck, a popular medical
man; his brother still keeps a store in the town. Another hotel built in
the first days was that of Mr. A. McLennan, who had been concerned in
the first occupation of Burketown. Ellis Read, trading for R. Towns and
Co., soon had a fine store established, and carried on a large business
with the stations, and also with the diggings opening on the Etheridge
River. The first team to arrive in the town was driven in down Spear
Creek by George Trimble from his station on the Saxby, at the head of
the Norman River. Then wool commenced to arrive from Donor's Hills and
other stations on the Flinders, even as early as 1868, and was shipped
away to Sydney by any chance vessel offering. One of the early traders
to the Norman was a well-known skipper on the east coast, Captain Till,
of the "Policeman," schooner, who made several voyages there. Normanton
was never affected by sickness as Burketown had been, and its progress
was steady, though slow. The country around was well watered, but not
adapted to agriculture. Lagoons of fresh water fringed the river, and
were well supplied with game, the river full of splendid fish, some of
which ranged up to twenty pounds in weight.

[Page 158]

Alligators abounded in all the brackish waters, as they do in all tidal
rivers in the Gulf, while the crocodile (so called), a smaller but quite
harmless creature, is found in fresh water only. Being amphibious in its
nature, it can adapt itself to pools and rivers a long way inland, and
is found wherever there are deep lagoons, and in all the waters flowing
into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

In the early times, when one of R. Towns and Co.'s vessels was unloading
at the bank of the river, one of the Kanakas employed was seized by an
alligator. The man held on to a mangrove tree, and his mates beat the
alligator over the head until he let go, but not before he had so torn
the flesh from the man's leg that he bled to death.

Among those who are to be reckoned as the oldest inhabitants of the Gulf
country, was John Harrix, who came over with the first cattle of Mr. J.
G. Macdonald from Bow en in 1864, and who owned some teams and a small
station near Normanton. A partner of his named Macdonald came down the
Flinders early in 1865. Percival E. Walsh, a nephew of Mr. W. H. Walsh,
of Degilbo, helped to settle some runs in the Gulf country. He took up a
run on the Dugald, naming it Granada, which was sold afterwards to
Messrs. Hopkins Brothers. He also restocked Iffey after its desertion by
its first owners, the Earle Bros., now of Yacamunda, on the Suttor
River.

[Page 159]

The early citizens of Normanton include the names of Peter Armstrong,
David Swan, Charles B. Hely, Charles Borek, John Edgar Byrne, for many
years proprietor of "Figaro," and a hundred others who more or less
helped to form this city of the Gulf. Many of them are now resting in
the cemetery outside the town.

R. Towns and Co. had forty thousand sheep on the Leichhardt, near
Floraville, and a shearing shed near tidal water lower down the river,
where a small steamer (the old "Pioneer," the remains of which are still
to be seen at Sweer's Island), came for the wool. The country proving
subject to terrible floods and unsuitable for sheep, the numbers
gradually decreased until the remnant were finally removed.

The Etheridge goldfield was opened in the early days of Normanton, and
found occupation for many teams and much labour.

Prices in the early days were at a really famine level; flour was often
sold at 40 a ton, and other goods at a corresponding rate. The writer
had experience of these prices when loading his own team in those early
days.

Normanton had many advantages over her sister settlement, Burketown, and
when the port became known, all the station trade drifted there, and
Burketown declined in consequence.

Normanton was, in 1891. connected with Croydon by a railway ninety-four
miles in length, which cost 211,000, and was constructed by Mr. G.
Phillips, C.E., on a principle new to Queensland, the sleepers being of
mild steel, instead of wood, on account of the ravages of the white
ants.

[Page 160]

The line between Croydon and Normanton passes through a perfectly level
and very uninteresting country, a melancholy sandy waste of ti-tree
flats, covered with the innumerable pinnacles and mounds made by white
ants; the pasturage is as poor as the country looks.

From Normanton a number of carriers are employed to carry goods to
Cloncurry and the many stations trading therewith. Many teams are found
carrying loading by the side of the railway line to Georgetown and the
Etheridge past Croydon, ignoring the services of the railway. A punt
service connects the town with the carrier's camp on the opposite side
of the river, where loading starts for the Etheridge. The carrier's
waggon is loaded fully up to its carrying capacity of from six to seven
tons, and is drawn on to the punt by the team; on its arrival on the
opposite side, the team draws the load on to the bank ready to depart on
its journey. The country to Georgetown is generally of an inferior
description. Towards the Cloncurry (southwards) for the first twenty
miles, the road passes through timbered country, bloodwood and messmate
of a poor class, then it opens out after passing Reaphook Range into
open treeless plains and black soil, with excellent pasturage, and this
extends for hundreds of miles to the interior, the whole of which is
occupied by cattle and sheep stations that draw their supplies from
Normanton up to a certain point, when the trade is induced by special
arrangements of rebates on traffic rates, to diverge to Townsville, at
the expense of the Gulf ports.

[Page 161]

About the same time that Townsville was opened as a port in order to
meet the requirements of the new movements in stock on the country
surrounding the Gulf, Burketown commenced its rather chequered career as
a commercial port in 1865.

The first supplies were brought by the "Jacmel Packet," chartered and
loaded by R. Towns and Co., from Sydney. She was the second vessel in
the Albert River, the first being the brig "Firefly," in which Mr.
Landsborough brought his horses, which were landed a mile below the site
of the town. The old vessel afterwards went to pieces in the river. The
manifest of the "Jacmel Packet" was perhaps the most varied and
strangely assorted that a trading vessel ever carried; the general cargo
included pigs, dogs, fowls, houses, building materials, outfits of every
kind, drays, rations, rum, and other spirits. In such fashion was the
mercantile trade of Carpentaria commenced. On the opening of the goods,
a saturnalia ensued, and the times were lively. The overlanders having
money to spend, and not having indulged in a "spree" for years, took
advantage of the absence of all control, and thoroughly enjoyed
themselves in bush fashion; a fight every half hour, horse racing on the
plain, or in "the street" as it was called, and strong rum for everyone.

[Page 162]

Other vessels quickly followed the first venture with more supplies. One
of them, the "Gazelle," from Sydney, made a very quick trip of sixteen
days to the mouth of the river, where she broke her back on a sandbank;
the hulk was towed up the river, and gradually mouldered away just
opposite the town. In 1866 the first wool was shipped to Sydney from the
Gulf; the first load of wool taken into Burketown being from Conobie
station, shorn in November, 1865, on the Cloncurry, about 200 miles
distant. The assistance the first settlers received from the Government
amounted to little or nothing; the administration situated nearly two
thousand miles away, had little care or thought for the struggling
outsiders in the far-away Gulf country. The settlers had to protect
themselves from blacks as well as from whites, and as it was some years
before Burketown was made a port of entry, goods had to be cleared at
Brisbane before sailing for Burketown. When the port was opened, the
Customs Officer, Mr. Sandrock, was kept at Sweer's Island, where
supplies had to be cleared before going on to the mainland. This meant a
great loss of time to those who brought in teams for loading. All
departmental work had to be done in Brisbane, and there also the first
applications for runs and declarations of stocking had to be made.

[Page 163]

The tide of settlement had been too swift and too strong for the
authorities to keep pace with, and although a Land Commissioner, in the
person of Mr. J. P. Sharkey was sent out in 1866, and the Government
were represented the same year by Mr. W. Landsborough in Burketown, the
fact was evident that people were pretty well left to do as they liked.
Burketown in 1866, and for the two or three following years, made some
little progress, or appeared to do so. The drovers and shepherds, paid
off after long trips with stock, had good cheques to spend, and their
money was laid out in the lavish way peculiar to the old bush hand.
Wages were high for all sorts of employment, 35s. to 45s. a week being
the lowest. Everything was dear in the new town, but that made little
difference to men who had not been in a town for years and had money to
spare.

One of the first vessels to arrive in the Albert River in 1866 was the
"Margaret and Mary." She was said to have touched at some infected port
in Java, and after arrival a fatal sickness broke out in Burketown that
nearly carried off all the population. All hands that came in the ship
died except the captain, his wife also falling a victim. A new crew had
to be engaged to work the vessel before she could get away. There is
little doubt but that the great mortality among the residents of
Burketown during 1866 was traceable to the infection brought by this
vessel. It was the wet season at the time, and this, in conjunction with
the reckless life led by most of the people, and the want of medical
assistance, increased the danger of the disease, and scores of strong
men succumbed to its malign influence.

[Page 164]

It would be difficult to say how many men fell victims to the epidemic,
but there must have been at least a hundred, besides those who died on
the surrounding stations. The disease, which ended in fever and
delirium, was as fatal to the strong as to the weak, and the little
cemetery soon looked like that of an old established town, so numerous
were the graves. This outbreak gave Burketown an evil name. People began
to leave it, and when Normanton was opened in 1867 with the prospect of
becoming a more suitable port for the district, many removed there to
carry on their business. Shortly after this, Burketown was absolutely
deserted, not a living soul remained, and nothing was left to mark the
spot except heaps of empty bottles and jam tins, and some large iron
pots belonging to a boiling-down plant. A few stumps remained standing
on the open plains where once had been buildings. The hulls of the
"Gazelle" and "Firefly" lay falling to pieces in the river, and none
were left to sigh over Burketown's fallen fortunes, or sing a dirge in
memory of its history; its short and merry life was over, and none
lamented.


In these early days, Sweer's Island was a kind of marine suburb
belonging to Burketown, a sanatorium about thirty-five miles from the
mouth of the Albert, where the fever-stricken people were taken to
recover. Mr. W. Landsborough, the Police Magistrate, or Government
resident, lived there with his family.

[Page 165]

Mr. J. P. Sharkey, the first Land Commissioner, and Mr. Ellis Read, in
charge of R. Towns and Co.'s stores, also resided on the island. Life
was much pleasanter there than on the dead plains surrounding Burketown,
and the sea breezes were constant and refreshing. On Sweer's Island,
which is only about nine miles long, and from half a mile to three miles
in width, vegetables and watermelons grow in profusion. A township was
surveyed called Carnarvon, after the Earl of Carnarvon, allotments were
sold and buildings erected. The first Customs House in the Gulf was
here, and Mr. Sandrock was the first officer. The soil on Sweer's Island
is sandy, and the grass thick in places. The turtle ponds made there by
Captain Norman of the "Victoria" in 1861-2, were still to be seen in
1866, as also was the well sunk by Flinders in 1803, from which fresh
water was still obtainable. Opposite the island, towards the west, lay
Bentinck Island, much larger than Sweer's, though unoccupied, except by
the natives, whose fires could be seen every evening after dark. About
forty miles north-east of Sweer's Island is Bountiful Island, noted for
its oysters, and also for turtles, large numbers resorting there at
certain seasons. Sweer's Island has been deserted for many years, and is
no longer a health resort. The buildings are gone, and the people also.
The only residents now (1897), are a family of the name of Creffield,
who keep some cattle, goats and sheep on the island.

[Page 166]

To the south-west of Burketown is a fine run called Lawn Hill,
comprising a lot of good country surrounded by mountains, and well
watered. This property was taken up by Mr. Frank Hann and Mr. E. R.
Edkins in 1875. The former bought up many of the brands of cattle left
in the district by former occupiers, and also travelled stock from
Lolsworth on the Burdekin, and by this means a large herd was soon
raised. At the same time the Watson Brothers stocked Gregory Downs,
which is only ninety miles from Burketown. Then Mr. F. H. Shadforth, who
had come all the way from Victoria overland with his family, took up
Lilydale, next to Lawn Hill. In those days the supplies had to be
obtained from Normanton, so Hann, Watson, and Shadforth chartered a
schooner, loaded her with station supplies and material for a store for
Foulkes and Harris to start business. The schooner arrived, and the
store was erected on the site of old Burketown, but disaster followed.
Foulkes was drowned, and Harris was killed by his team of horses bolting
and dragging the waggon over him. Then Watson Brothers ran the store for
a time, Mr. P. S. Watson taking charge and enlarging it in every way.
Shortly afterwards Mr. Michael Kelly opened a public house, and the town
commenced its second term of existence. Mr. Jack Reid soon opened
another public house, and Burns, Philp and Co. began another store under
the management of Mr. Theodore C. Amsden.

[Page 167]

Then police protection under Senior-constable Synnott, arrived, as the
people were becoming rather lawless. Mr. P. Macarthur was appointed
Customs Officer, and in conjunction with this appointment held many
other offices. Finally the Queensland National Bank opened a branch. The
town now progressed quickly owing to the great number of cattle passing
through to the northern territory and the reoccupation of all the
deserted runs. A Divisional Board was formed in 1884, and the population
of the town rose to three hundred and fifty. Burketown resumed her old
activity in business matters, and the evil name died out with the
memories of the old days. So mote it be!

[Page 168]



CHAPTER VIII. - THE MINERAL WEALTH.


An expedition under the leadership of William Hann, sent out by the
Queensland Government left Fossilbrook station on June 26th, 1872, and
on August 5th, reached the Palmer River, named after the then Premier of
Queensland, Sir A. H. Palmer. They found traces of gold in the ravines,
and on both sides of the river, so that it was Hann's party who first
discovered the existence of gold on the Palmer. This expedition went
right through to where Cooktown now stands, and on to the Bloomfield
River. From the description of the country given in Hann's journal, one
of the well-known old northern prospectors named James V. Mulligan,
concluded that gold would be found in quantities, and with the
restlessness proverbial among his class, formed a party to go out and
prospect the Palmer country. His expedition consisted of himself, James
Dowdal, Alexander Watson (these two miners leaving Charters Towers with
him), David Robertson, Peter Brown, and Albert Brandt, who joined him at
Georgetown.

[Page 169]

Mulligan and his party left the Etheridge on June 5th 1873, passed Mount
Surprise and Fossilbrook, the farthest out station in those days, and
went on to the Tate River, through poor, rough country, only obtaining
colours. They proceeded northwards to the Walsh River, and saw one of W.
Hann's camps on their way. After travelling down the Walsh a few days,
they crossed Elizabeth Creek to the Mitchell River, where they had some
trouble in finding a ford, the river being quite six hundred yards wide,
with high and scrubby banks on either side, and a strong flowing stream.
After effecting a crossing with their packs, rations, etc., they passed
on to Mount Mulgrave, fifteen miles further north. This well-known
landmark is a precipitous bare rock dominating the surrounding country,
and visible for many miles. They soon reached the Palmer River, where
they continued prospecting, and obtained a good show of gold in the
river and tributary creeks. Blacks were very numerous along the main
river, necessitating guard being continually kept; they caught abundance
of fish while camped on the river, where they spent a month, finding
gold almost everywhere, some of it coarse, and some very fine. The party
started back for the Etheridge, following the same route by which they
had come. The scene of their operations was a little above Palmerville,
and they prospected thence to Maytown.

[Page 170]

They were absent from Georgetown three months, and procured one hundred
and two ounces of gold, valued at 4 an ounce. It was a prosperous trip,
and all the party returned in good health.

In 1874, J. V. Mulligan went on another prospecting expedition from
Cooktown. He named the St. George, a tributary of the Mitchell River,
and the party did a lot of prospecting and exploring in the country on
the Upper Mitchell, where some fine pastoral country was discovered.
While on this trip they made the discovery of the hot boiling springs at
the head of the Walsh, mistaking the steam of it for the smoke of a
blackfellows' fire.

Before the end of 1873, there were over five hundred diggers on the
Palmer, and the escort left in December with 5,058 ounces of gold,
leaving a balance of 3,000 ounces in the banks. The first warden on the
Palmer was Howard St. George, and the field developed at a furious rate.
In the course of two years there were over fifteen thousand white men
and twenty thousand Chinese located in and about the Palmer. The
discovery of the field came as salvation to the north after the
stagnation following upon the low prices and depression ruling since
1867. The price of cattle went up enormously, and horses could be sold
anywhere at good prices. The workings were along the creeks and rivers
where water was plentiful, and the gold was obtained in quantities on
the bars or ledges crossing the river. Rations were dear in the early
days; carriage to Maytown was up to 120 a ton, beef was selling at 1s.
per lb.

[Page 171]

A great deal of the loading was carried by pack horses from Cooktown,
the diggings being situated among the highest tablelands in North
Queensland, and scattered over a large extent of mountainous country.
Byerstown, near the source of the Palmer is about fifty-five miles
south-west from Cooktown. The situation is elevated, being near the
culminating line of the Great Dividing Chain. Tin occurs in the low
ranges to the south that separate the Mitchell from the Palmer, and also
in the valley of the Bloomfield to the east. The blacks were dangerous,
the wet seasons severe on the Palmer, and the first diggers had many and
bitter trials. Early in 1874, the last of the flour was selling at 3s.
6d. per pannikinful, and even an old working bullock when killed was
eagerly bought up at 1s. per pound; the last pairs of Blucher boots were
sold at 38s. Horseshoe nails were exchanged for their weight in gold,
and old horseshoes were eagerly sought after. As early as April, 1874, a
riot occurred in Cooktown, when the dissatisfied diggers rushed the
"Florence Irving," steamer, for free passages. It was said there were
three thousand people waiting to get away, and the police and miners had
a fierce fight for the upper hand. Then other rushes took place on the
goldfield as new discoveries were made, and the "Palmer fever" became
bad again.

[Page 172]

In 1871 the following party of prospectors had been in the vicinity of
the country that afterwards became so famous for its golden produce, but
they missed the rich deposits, and kept a lower course down in the level
country towards the Gulf of Carpentaria, namely, Messrs. T. Leslie, J.
Edwards, Charles Ross, T. Hackett, and J. Duff. Some of these men became
wealthy afterwards through buying cattle and retailing them and by
buying gold. Leslie, Duff, Edwards, and Callaghan joined in a company
and fairly coined money on the Palmer goldfield; all were extremely
popular men. Maytown was called Edwardstown for some time after it was
opened, and the name was so printed on the bank's cheque forms. Another
of these early prospectors was W.T.Baird, known as Bill Baird, who had
led a most adventurous life and had amassed several small fortunes; the
last one he made was at Mount Romeo tin mines; he led a rough knockabout
life, doing bush work or cattle droving when hard up, etc.; he was
killed by the natives of Batavia River while prospecting there; he was a
general favourite for his good humour and kindheartedness.


Croydon, a reefing field on the waters of the Norman River was
discovered about 1886 by W. C. Brown and Aldridge, who obtained the
reward of 1,000. The field comprises several mining centres scattered
about in the hill country, which commences here and extends away to the
east. No alluvial gold has been discovered on this field; reefing has
been the only way of working the gold, which is more or less connected
with refractory ores.

[Page 173]

The future of this field is well assured, as the reefs maintain their
character at all depths reached, and the place is decidedly businesslike
and stirring. The absence of good timber adds to the cost of working the
reefs, but the extension of the railway to Georgetown, which is
contemplated, will add to the facilities for obtaining supplies, and
will also increase the traffic in other ways.


Georgetown is on the left bank of the Etheridge River, so called after
D. O. Etheridge, one of Mr. J. G. Macdonald's drovers who came out to
the Gulf with the first lot of cattle through this country. It is about
one hundred and sixty miles west, in a straight line from Cardwell. The
surrounding country is gold-bearing, and known as the Etheridge
goldfield; silver, copper, tin, and lead are also among its mineral
products. This was one of the first reefing districts opened in the
North of Queensland, but owing to the expense of carrying on the mines
on account of the cost of carriage, labour, and mining appliances, none
but the best mines have been worked. The formation is granite, and
pyrites with the stone has helped to increase the cost of working. The
field is very extensive, and embraces a large number of small mining
centres covering an enormous area of gold-bearing country. In the first
days, alluvial gold was sought for over large portions of the field. A
specimen nugget found in June, 1896, at Mount Macdonald, weighing 151
ounces was dollied and smelted, yielding 85 ounces of gold, valued at 3
5s. per ounce. Other large specimens were found recently in the same
locality.

[Page 174]

Cloncurry is the commercial centre of a district rich in various
minerals. It is situated on the right bank of the Cloncurry River, a
tributary of the Flinders, and is about 430 miles west-south-west, in a
straight line from Townsville, and about 240 miles south from Normanton.
The copper deposits are very extensive, the whole surrounding
mountainous district being more or less copper-bearing. Lodes of gray
ore and blue carbonates are numerous, and virgin copper and malleable
ore have also been found. The difficulty and expense of carriage has
prevented the field from taking that position as a mining centre to
which it is entitled; other metals found are gold, silver, lead, iron,
and bismuth. The Cloncurry goldfield includes a large tract of country,
extending eastwards to the Williams River, and southwards to an equal
extent. Reefing has been carried on of late, but not to any great
extent. In the early days of gold discovery, alluvial sinking attracted
a large population, and some splendid nuggets were found (mostly on
Sharkey's Flat), weighing from five to forty ounces, the gold being of
the highest Mint value, 4 3s. 6d. per ounce. Gold is still produced at
some of the outlying diggings, extending over to the Leichhardt River in
the west, where the whole country is mineral-bearing.

[Page 175]

The Cloncurry Copper Company expended large sums of money in machinery
and sinking shafts and prospecting in opening up some of the lodes of
copper so abundant there, but owing to the depreciation in the value of
the mineral and the great expense of mining and carriage to port, the
operations had to be entirely suspended. The first to discover copper
and make use of it was Mr. Ernest Henry, in 1865. Henry discovered lodes
of copper on the Leichhardt and in several other places, and has
distinguished himself not alone as an enterprising pioneer squatter and
settler, but also as an early and most indefatigable prospector for
minerals. In conjunction with Mr. R. K. Sheaffe, at one time member for
the district, and subsequently Mayor of Sandgate, he helped to open much
of the Gulf country, and has spent a fortune and a lifetime in
pioneering in outside districts.

The Black Mountain is on the opposite side from the town across the
river, and is, as its name denotes, a real black mountain. It is a most
extensive outcrop of nearly pure metallic iron ore, and it is calculated
the amount in sight is over thirteen millions of tons; great masses of
the ore are lying all round the base of this enormous outcrop.

[Page 176]

Clermont is situated on a tributary of the Nogoa River, about two
hundred and twenty-seven miles distant by railway from Rockhampton, and
well known for its mineral resources. Since 1862 large quantities of
copper have been obtained, and the surrounding country is also
auriferous, alluvial mining having been carried on with more or less
success. Four miles from Clermont are the ruins of old Copperfield, a
township prosperous from 1864 to 1870, in the palmy days of the Peak
Downs Copper Company, which paid dividends of eighty per cent., and in
1867 sold copper to the amount of 120,000. Owing to a great fall in the
value of copper, the property was sold for 3,000, and this mining
enterprise collapsed.

[Page 177]



CHAPTER IX. - INCIDENTS OF THE EARLY DAYS.


The early arrivals with stock in the Gulf country were obliged to obtain
rations and supplies from Bowen, on the east coast, as that was the only
port then opened in the North of Queensland. The distance was from five
to seven hundred miles through the desert country and down the Flinders,
and as the old-fashioned pole bullock-dray with only two wheels was then
in vogue, no great quantity could be carried in one dray load. The
opening of Burketown in 1865 as the second port after Bowen in North
Queensland, enabled the early settlers to obtain supples more easily,
although the cost was still excessive. But the rations were fresher than
those the overlanders had been used to. Some of the flour that had come
out with the parties had been years on the road, and was very much the
worse for the long journey. This flour could only be used after much
sifting and airing; it was made into small thin cakes called Johnny
cakes, which were cooked in the ashes and eaten hot; even then it was
bitter and nearly brown in colour.

[Page 178]

The grubs and worms had long since left it, or died in it from old age.
It was said that some flour from Bowen Downs that had left Sydney years
before and come out to the Gulf stations just formed, being too strong
to use, was thrown out, and the dingoes and crows were found lying dead
round it. The sugar in those days was the dark, treacly kind, that left
a stain on the floor like blood; it came in casks. However, people were
not very particular as to the quality of the supplies, provided there
was anything at all to eat. Pig weed (portulacca), boiled or roasted on
a shovel was one of the changes open to travellers; tea was made from
the marjoram bush; and very fair coffee was made from the scrapings of
the burnt edges of dampers, and was called Scotch coffee. When Burketown
was opened, the fresh supply of flour and stores was very welcome to the
early settlers.

For the first year or two of Burketown's existence, a saturnalia of a
most original and determined fashion set in. There were only two or
three women in the town, and no police, and the crowd enjoyed themselves
in their own breezy, sunshiny way. Burketown was the haven of refuge for
all the outsiders and outlaws from the settled districts when they had
made other places too warm to hold them any longer.

"God forsaken, devil may care,
Every one with his sins to bear;
From East, from West, they are camping there;
Where all the bad lots go."

[Page 179]

All kinds of characters made their way out to the Gulf in those early
days. Men went there who had been wanted by the police for years. Horse
stealing and forging cheques were very common pastimes among the fancy,
and Burketown society, in its first efforts to establish itself, was of
a kind peculiarly its own.

An ex police officer (O'Connor), who started business in Burketown, and
who hailed from the land of the shamrock, knew many of the "boys," as he
called them. One noted character broke out of the lock-up, swam the
Albert River, swarming with alligators, got a horse somewhere or
somehow, and was followed by Mr. W. D'Arcy Uhr far into New South Wales,
and brought back to Burketown, only to be discharged, whilst Mr. Uhr,
who was one of the smartest officers of the police was asked for an
explanation for leaving his district without permission.

The following case of horse-stealing will serve to show the lawless
state of things prevailing in the outside regions when the borders of
civilisation were undefined, and no laws could be enforced.

Three men were implicated, all notorious characters, even for those
days. They were called Dublin Bob, Firearm Jack, and One-armed Scotty.
They had spent some time mustering the horses and in building yards to
hold them, on Bowen Downs run. As soon as the theft was discovered, they
were followed by Mr. J. T. C. Ranken, the manager, Mr. J. Moffat,
Junior, a blackfellow, Jacky, and another man.

[Page 180]

They overtook the horse-stealers on the range near Betts' Gorge, took
possession of the horses, and arrested the thieves, as Mr. Ranken and
the other white men had been sworn in as specials before starting. As
they were riding along, Mr. Ranken saw a horse down a gorge that he
thought he recognised, and leaving the prisoners in charge of the
others, giving them strict instructions to guard them carefully, he went
to look at the horse. On returning, he found the men had escaped, and no
satisfactory explanation was ever given as to their departure. This was
in the year 1866, when there was a great demand for horses in
consequence of so much stock being driven to take up new country. In the
previous year, 1865, the first sheep were brought on to Bowen Downs, and
another mob of cattle was sent out to the Gulf country in charge of J.
Neil, who stocked the country on the Alexandra, a tributary of the
Leichhardt River, where there was a large waterhole ten or twelve miles
long. The Mud Hut on the Thomson had to be abandoned owing to the
scarcity of grass and the waterhole drying up before the end of the
year. The year 1865 was a very dry one on the Thomson, the Barcoo, and
the Flinders--waterholes went dry that year that have never gone dry in
the thirty-five years that have followed. Law and order in those days
was a "go-as-you-please" sort of arrangement. At a shanty about
twenty-five miles from Burketown, a man was shot by the keeper of the
shanty, and died.

[Page 181]

The man was prosecuted, but owing to his detention waiting trial, and
his long sea voyage west about the Leeuwin, and other extenuating
circumstances in the case, the man being compelled to keep order in a
lonely place amongst a very disorderly crowd, he got off.

During the year 1864, a man named G. Nicol, and his wife, both of whom
had been employed at Bowen Downs, and had left with the intention of
going to Rockhampton, were found dead between Bowen Downs and
Stainbourne. They had been offered quiet horses for the journey, but
they preferred to walk. As they did not turn up at Stainbourne, a search
was instituted, and they were found on one of the branches of Bullock
Creek, both dead. The woman had been dead much longer than the man, as
portions of her corpse were missing, while the body of the man was
whole; the woman had a hole in her skull; the man had a revolver with
two chambers empty. She was the first white woman on the Thomson, and
was a very kind decent little body. The story remains one of the
mysteries of the bush that will never be solved. Another tragedy that
marked this year was the murder of Mr. Meredith, of Tower Hill station,
and his overseer by the blacks. Mr. Meredith had been away from his
station on a visit, and when returning passed his teams loaded with
rations on the road somewhere between Bully and Cornish Creeks.

[Page 182]

In passing them he promised either to meet them himself or to send
someone else. When he got to Cornish Creek, he saw so many blacks that
he decided to meet them himself; therefore, on arrival at the station,
he obtained fresh horses, and started back, taking his overseer. Mr.
Robert McNeely, with him. He intended to stay with the teams until they
were past all danger, but he never reached them. Both men were killed on
Cornish Creek, about fifty miles above Bowen Downs. The exact spot was
unknown, nor were the bodies ever recovered; but their clothes, watches,
etc.. were found in the blacks' camp. The men with the teams were the
first to find out that something was wrong, for on bringing up their
horses one morning, they found some of the Tower Hill station horses
among them, one in particular that Mr. Meredith always rode himself.
Suspecting trouble, they went on to the Bowen Downs teams, a few miles
ahead, and the teamsters went back with them to search, and in the
blacks' camp articles were found which left no doubt that both Mr.
Meredith and his overseer had been killed. No doubt there had been a
night attack when the two pioneers were asleep in their camp, unaware of
the approach of the observant enemy. Blacks seldom attacked during the
day, but preferred to steal stealthily upon their victims and kill them
in their sleep. Numerous cases of this description might be mentioned,
and it was the rule among experienced bushmen to either keep watch at
night, or else to shift camp after dark.

[Page 183]

In the early days, the blacks of North Queensland, and especially of the
Peninsula, used to be troublesome to stock, and never failed to kill
horses and cattle whenever a chance offered, cutting up and carrying
away the carcase to the scrubs or ridgy country. Great numbers of stock
were killed by them in the early days of settlement all over the Cook
district. Even teamsters' horses have been known to be killed close to
the road during the night, cut up, and carried away, or skinned of the
flesh and the skeleton left entire. Not alone to stock did they confine
their attacks, for many a white man and Chinaman, of whose death there
is no record, fell before their spears, and it is maintained they ate
their victims on many occasions. The usual war of reprisals went on
between the intruders and the native race, and the latter soon went
under, although the tribes inhabiting the country around the main rivers
were numerous. In no district in Queensland have the blacks shown
themselves more hostile to the settlers than in the Peninsula. The
Jardine Brothers' journal of their trip to Cape York is a record of
continued and unprovoked attacks by blacks on their little party. One of
the early settlers, a Mr. Watson, was killed on his own verandah at his
station on the Archer, and Gilbert, the naturalist belonging to
Leichhardt's party, was killed in a night attack by blacks, not far from
the Mitchell River.

[Page 184]

The lonely gullies about the Palmer hide the record of many a lost
prospector done to death by the savages; while the sight of one of them
was enough to cause a stampede among a camp of a hundred Chinese, for
the poor Chinamen always fell easy victims to the blacks, as they would
never show fight, and seldom carried firearms. It was a very common
occurrence for the early settlers to bring in cattle to the yard for the
purpose of drawing broken spears out of their sides. Horses were hunted
down as readily as cattle, and this in a district noted for its native
game.

[Page 185]



CHAPTER X. - THE MEN OF THE NORTH.


There were never lacking men ready for the enterprise and hardship of
pioneering when there was such a field of profitable work open before
them, work that was for those trained in bush experience, hardy and
acclimatised as they were. The life, in spite of hardships, was not
without attraction and satisfaction to many who took part in it. There
was a kind of fascination to many bushmen in the idea of being the first
to enter upon new and unknown scenes; to note the surprise of native
game beholding for the first time the presence of the stranger, and to
observe the terrified astonishment of the aborigines when first they saw
the white intruders; all this tended to add to the romance and interest
of helping to open a new district. But outside pioneer life in early
days had a reverse side; there was little or nothing of comfort or
relaxation; there was always hardship and exposure; there was no Sunday
for rest, no holiday, no Eight Hour Day, nothing but constant movement
and watching.

[Page 186]

The duties were shared by all alike; each had to take a turn at anything
and everything, cooking one time, driving a team another, shepherding
sheep occasionally, herding cattle sometimes, cutting timber, making
bough-yards for sheep, lambing down a flock of ewes, shifting hurdles,
and poisoning dingoes, killing and salting beef, ear-marking, washing
and shearing sheep, looking for stragglers, yoking bullocks, building
huts, tracking and hunting stock, all little duties that made up the
routine life of the outside grazier. They all took their turn, and
generally there was one dish and one table. Where the ways and customs
consequent on the life brought all on a partial level, the man who could
turn his hand to anything from shoeing a horse to weighing out a dose of
quinine or driving a bullock team, was the most valuable.

THE STOCKMAN, OR STOCKRIDER.

He was native to the soil and bred,
Merely a cowboy he;
A nomad's life was what he led,
And all he wished to be.

He is a class of his own, and is a man of some importance in the daily
life of a station. The term may mean to many any man who can climb into
a saddle; but a good stockman is not so easily picked up, nor is he made
out of any material to hand. A good and experienced stockman, one who
knows his work thoroughly, is active, and can ride well, can command
wages all the year round.

[Page 187]

His work is not by any means easy; there are long hours, in fact all
hours, hard fare, and often no lodging but the bare ground; he must
endure hunger and thirst, cold, heat, and wet, and often has to take a
watch at night. When at work in the yard branding and drafting, he has
either to endure tremendous dust, or else he is covered with mud. But
the trained stockrider makes light of all these discomforts, in fact he
looks on them as all in the bill of fare, and belonging to the day's
work. He is hardy, wiry, as well as possessed of a good deal of
endurance and pluck, and like all men who ride much, is nearly always
lean in condition. He is generally the owner of a couple of horses and
an outfit of saddle, swag, stock whip, and spurs, and takes an interest
in all racing and sporting matters. As a rule, he is not a saving man,
although some may lay up enough money to start a small store. The native
youth makes the best all-round stockman; many follow horse-breaking at
times, or take a turn at droving. To draft on horseback in the cattle
yard, or in the yard on foot, to castrate and brand horses and calves,
to ride a young horse, to make a leg or head rope out of green hide, or
a pair of hobbles, to counter-line a saddle, to cook a damper, all comes
within the province of the stockman. Towns and townspeople are not much
in his way, any more than the customs of the city are congenial to his
free-and-easy style of associations. Moleskin trousers, Crimean shirt,
cossack boots, and felt hat, are his rig out.

[Page 188]

The modern type is less pronounced than he of the ancient school, the
flash, hard-riding, tearing, loud-swearing, rowdy stockman of olden
days, with a stockwhip sixteen feet long, sporting breeches and
leggings, and a loud red shirt. Stockmen have very little to do with
unions, but are seldom without employment on stations or on the road.

THE COOK.

Bush cooks are of every shade of colour, complexion, and social
standing, from the foreign count who has been expatriated for political
leanings, to the squalid shuffling Chinese, or the wily, treacherous
Cingalee. Hut keeper was the term employed in the olden days when two
shepherds had each a flock of sheep folded for the night inside a yard
made of movable hurdles, and a hut keeper was joined to them to do a bit
of cooking, as well as to shift one set of hurdles each day. He was
supposed also to watch at night against native dogs, strychnine not
being so much in use then to reduce the numbers of these pests. They
were men of dirty, lazy habits; their cooking was fearful, consisting
simply of boiling a bit of beef or mutton, making a damper, and rinsing
out a tin pannikin. Greasy-looking, growling, and drunken they were,
with scarcely energy enough to fetch a little wood or water; to wash
their clothes was an unheard of thing. Those who cook for drovers on the
road have to be more alert; a good man on the road is a great
consideration, and it is no sinecure to cater for a party while
travelling with stock.

[Page 189]

The cook is exempt from watching, as he has to be up during the night to
get breakfast ready by daylight for the men to start on with their
cattle. Some good cooks will provide hot suppers for the men in all
weathers. The shearers' cook is quite another variety. He is often a
boss man employs one or two others under him, and gets top wages, but he
has to be up to the mark, for our shearer is a fine specimen of an
inflated growler, and will have nothing but of the best, and up to time,
tea and cake between meals, duff and all the luxuries for dinner; in any
case he comes in for a full share of the shearer's arrogance and abuse.
Station cooks comprise all sorts, good, bad, and indifferent, clean and
unclean; but one who can make real good bread is a rarity, and all are
self-taught. They frequently get good wages, but soon become lazy and
dirty, and often a Chinaman has to be put on to do the kitchen cooking.
About the towns it is notorious that European cooks cannot be relied on
for any time on account of their drinking habits, and once again the
Chinaman has to be resorted to.

THE SHEARER.

This class of labourer has been very much in evidence of late years in
Queensland on account of the numerous strikes that have taken place,
brought about by them or their leaders, although it is the best paid of
all unskilled work in the colony. The Shearers' Union attempted to rule
all labour and labour interests throughout the whole colony, and
succeeded for a long time in keeping things in a very disorganised
state.

[Page 190]

There is nothing in shearing that any man could not master in a few
days, although the work may be laborious when long continued. The money
earned is out of all proportion to what other classes of labour receive,
nevertheless the shearer is the most discontented and turbulent of all
classes, and very decidedly aggressive. He can earn in a few months
enough to keep him for the rest of the year without work, he is
gregarious in his habits, and travels about in mounted groups, generally
armed. He may be said to be a flash man, given to gambling, dicing, and
other sports, and a good deal of his money is spent at roadside
shanties. When at work, however, he is sober and industrious, as most of
them are desirous of making a good tally at the end of the shearing, and
the rules of the shed forbid any latitude for loafing or mischief.
Shearing by machine instead of by hand will tend to modify the aspects
of the work, and allow more men to learn the art. Shearers travel from
shed to shed during the season, and sometimes earn from four to six
pounds a week. They live on the best that can be got. Instances are
common of men shearing over two hundred sheep per day for days running.
Amongst the shearers will be found many respectable men, who have homes
or selections of their own on which their families reside, and who
travel round a few large sheds to earn enough money to carry on with and
support their homes.

[Page 191]

THE BULLOCK DRIVER.

The man of strong body, and of stronger language, the old
"bull-puncher," is going out. He was an institution of early days when
the pole-dray was in vogue, a fearful kind of vehicle that tipped up
going out of a steep creek with a load on, and going down would bear on
the polers fit to break their necks. The four-wheeled waggon has for a
long time superseded the old bullock-killing dray, but the driver
remains much the same. Instead of driving ten bullocks in a pole-dray,
he yokes up eighteen or twenty to a waggon and draws instead of three
and a half tons, about seven or eight tons.

His whip is a terrible long plaited thong with a strip of green hide
attached, and a handle like a flail, with it he wakes the echoes and his
oxen at the same time. The crack of the whip is accompanied by a voice
as deep and hoarse as the bellow of one of his own long-suffering
yoked-up slaves, and his lurid language makes even his bullocks shudder.
To see the "bullocky" at his best is only given to those who travel with
him for a whole trip, and observe his style of getting out of
difficulties that would dishearten many another man. He is full of
resource, and not lacking in energy, and when his team is bogged in a
creek in a seemingly hopeless mess, and beyond all appearance of ever
being extricated, after exhausting his ample stock of dire profanity, he
proceeds in a methodical manner to dig under his wheels and corduroy the
track with branches and limbs of trees, weeds out his jibbing bullocks,
and with renewed energy and awful voice, he calls on his patient and
weary team for a big effort.

[Page 192]

And out they walk with their load on to the bank. The "bullocky" was a
great factor in the early days of settlement, where there were no roads
and loading had to be dragged over mountains and through steep creeks
and over all obstacles. His bodily strength, great experience, and
energy, came in to help in no small degree to keep settlement alive. The
arrival of the bullock teams was quite an event, perhaps after being
months on the road, and when all supplies had run short--not that the
fact of supplies being short on the station would induce them to hasten
their progress, for no bullock driver was ever known to hurry or go out
of his slow, crawling pace for any inducement whatever. The "bullocky"
could drink rum in buckets, and was always given to use his fists. Take
him all round, he was about as rough a specimen of a bush artist as
could be found; but he was hospitable in his camp; it was always "Come
and have a pot of tea, mate," to any traveller. The quicker-moving horse
teams and the railways, are elbowing the bullock driver out into the
never-never, where there are still opportunities for his special
faculties, and it is not often that bullock teams, with their wood and
iron yokes, and dusty, hairy drivers, are seen on any roads coming into
railway stations.

[Page 193]

To ask a bullock driver where he got his beef from was not always a safe
or prudent question; it was looked upon as a piece of wanton
impertinence that would require suppresssion. After putting down so much
on the debit side, something should be said to the credit of the
carrier. He must have been hard-working and thrifty to have acquired the
necessary capital to purchase his waggon and team. Physically, he must
be exceptionally strong to stand the life he leads. Mentally, he must be
full of resource to overcome the obstacles he meets with on unformed and
often uncleared roads. Morally, he must be passing honest, for he often
carries loads of great value, for the safety of which he alone is
responsible for weeks and often months. These men take up the work of
distributing goods where the railways end. Their duties are arduous and
responsible, and they deserve more consideration than they generally
receive.

THE TRAMP.

"My life is a failure, the weary one said,
And the days of my youth are past;
But I still tramp along, and am not afraid,
While grub in the bush shall last.

"My shirt is patched, and my trousers are torn,
My hat is a sight to see,
The nap of my blanket has long been worn,
And is patched with an old soogee."

The tramp is found everywhere in the world. The bush tramp is only
another variety, and since the big strikes took place in Queensland some
years ago, the tribe has multiplied, as it taught them to loaf on the
stations for rations.

[Page 194]

Now they make a practice of getting all their supplies for the road from
the station stores, pleading they have no money, and from policy rations
are given them, and no questions asked. Many men carrying their swags on
their backs are really looking for work, and deserve encouragement by
the gratuity of a little rations to help them along, as stations are far
apart in the outlying districts. As station owners are dependent on
these same swagmen for the extra labour they require from time to time,
it is policy to keep on good terms with a class that can work
incalculable damage to station men that have miles of grass in sheep
paddocks to burn, woolsheds to demolish, and gates on the main road to
be left open, with no evidence forthcoming as to how fires were started,
etc., and no police to supervise or control the actions of these
irresponsible wanderers. But the tribe of "whalers," as they were called
in New South Wales, men who tramped up one side of the Darling River,
and tramped down on the other side, never betraying any desire to find
work, these can be found in the Queensland bush too, but not far out,
where there are long dry stages between the stations, and a shortness of
water which terrifies these old "bummers." There are men who have
tramped all over the colonies--every colony in Australia they have been
through, and know all the tracks.

[Page 195]

They come up to a station and ask for work in a sort of a way, and then
ask for rations to carry them on, even asking for a bit of tobacco; they
say they have no money (and their appearance confirms all they say), and
have done no work, for six months past, or longer, tramping all the way,
and never a job. Their rags and swag betray dire poverty; their clothes
patched in every colour, so that a blackfellow would hardly wear them,
and they are dirty in the extreme. These men are not decrepid or weak,
but are simply lazy, whilst the fine dry climate enables them to live
without hard work. Occasionally, in order to procure some tobacco or a
little money for a spree at a shanty, they will take a job for a time as
rouseabout or woodchopper, but they are soon off on the "wallaby track"
again. It is a recognised custom now among stations in the west and
north-west to ration the swagsmen as they pass along, and the cost to
some stations during the year is very considerable; they just bring up
their ration bags and get them filled, and go to the creek to camp and
cook the evening meal they have walked perhaps twenty miles to obtain,
but which cost them nothing but the exercise. Poverty is the inheritance
of some, but many of these wanderers are poor because as soon as they do
earn a few pounds at odd jobs during shearing time, they march at once
to the nearest bush shanty and drink what they have earned until turned
away, and then tramp back to the stations, begging rations as they go
along, and at the same time regarding the donors with a consuming and
persistent malice.

[Page 196]

The professional tramp is not a nice character, there can be no
mistaking him, with his swag done up in a long roll, and hung round his
shoulder and down his side, a billycan and water-bag in his hand. He
creeps along slowly with sore feet and shuffling steps, camping in the
shade when he can to rest; he has no companions generally, and his life
is a joyless and miserable one; but there he is, and there he will
remain, for his tribe will not die out, because no one will refuse to
give a little rations to a wayfarer because he is hard up, ragged, and
penniless.

THE DROVER.

He knew of every drover's way,
From Normanton to Bourke;
From far Port Darwin's ample bay,
Right through to Muswellbrook.
The desert plains he knew full well,
Where duststorms blind the eye;
And oft he had come from Camooweal,
Drivin' stock to Narrabri.

The life of a drover, under the most favourable circumstances, is the
reverse of a pleasant one, but like all nomadic occupations, it has a
fascination for many bushmen. The drover would appear to be regarded as
the common enemy of every owner or superintendent through whose run he
passes, although in many cases it is a fact that roads are fenced off so
that a drover cannot leave them without breaking down the fences. In
many instances the only permanent water on the stock routes has been
fenced in by the owner of the run.

[Page 197]

The principal wealth of Australia is stock, and these, both sheep and
cattle, to be marketed need bringing down to some seaport or market,
either as stores or fats. Sometimes long distances are travelled, from
one end of Australia to the other, the journey occupying months. At
starting, the stock are counted and handed over to the charge of a
competent drover, who delivers them at the end of the journey, and is
paid either by contract at so much per head, with an allowance for
losses, or else by weekly wages, the owner finding the whole plant and
money. Overlanding is a constant source of anxiety from start to finish
of the journey. The varying items, such as floods, droughts, disease,
incompetent hands, lost stock, and the surveillance from the owners of
runs through which they pass, make up the daily routine of a drover's
life. Stormy nights, when cattle become very restless, keep the drover
awake and anxious. His duties are of a responsible nature, and he
requires a good deal of tact and patience to manage his men properly,
for he may have over a dozen employed with him on a droving job. With
sheep the anxiety is not so great as with cattle or horses, as sheep are
much easier to manage. The law provides that unless detained by flood,
stock shall be driven not less than six miles every twenty-four hours.
In most instances this distance is exceeded, but should the drover fail
to travel the prescribed distance, through any accident, the owner or
manager of the run turns up at the camp and gives the drover the option
of either moving his stock on the proper distance, if it is only one
mile ahead, or of appearing at the nearest police court, perhaps a
hundred miles away, to answer an information for a breach of the
Pastoral Leases Act or the Crown Lands Act.

[Page 198]

Although, perhaps only a nominal fine may be imposed, the vexatious
delay, loss, and inconvenience of attending at the court, induce the
drover to avoid any needless infringements of the Act. Some managers of
runs are ever ready to pounce on any unfortunate drover who may deviate
a few yards from the regulated half mile on each side of the road, and
then it will be so arranged that the drover will not get a summons until
he is a hundred miles away from where the offence was committed, when he
has to leave his stock in the hands of the men, while he returns to
answer the trivial charge; he is always fined, as he cannot well defend
his case, and he is anxious to return to his duties.

As a rule, the drovers in Queensland are a trustworthy and respectable
class of men--of course there are exceptions, but these are soon found
out. Cases have come to light where cattle sold on the road have been
returned as knocked up lame, or dead from pleuro, and grog has been
entered in the accounts as stores supplied. The owner is a good deal at
the mercy of the drover after the latter has taken charge of the stock,
as he has then very little control over them until they reach their
destination. Some drovers have a plant of their own, twenty or thirty
good horses, a dray or waggonette, and saddles, and make contracts to
shift cattle or sheep at so much per head, paying their own men, and
finding everything.

[Page 199]

The wages of drovers are always high, but not too high when the care and
constant work are taken into consideration. Sundays and week days alike,
rain or fine, grass or no grass, whatever turns up, it all means that
the drover, or man in charge has to be on hand and see to things
himself. The life is monotonous, wearying and fatiguing in the extreme.
Man and boss alike have to rise before dawn, roll up blankets or swag,
get breakfast, catch horses, and move the cattle off the night camp as
soon as it is light, then ride all day with them, keep them moving
slowly along feeding on any grass to be found, watering them when a
chance offers, carrying a bit of lunch on the saddle, and a quart pot to
boil some tea in. After the day's journey is over, the cattle have to be
rounded up on the camp at sundown and then each takes his turn at
watching during the night, which means three hours solitary riding round
in the darkness, turning in any cattle inclined to stray out from the
camp, and keeping up one's spirits by calculating how long the trip will
last. When the weather is fine, the life is bearable, if monotonous, but
when it rains, especially in cold rain and wind, the pleasures of
droving are limited; with wet ground to lie on, wet clothes to ride in,
and scarcely fire enough to cook at, with stock restless and troublesome
at night, the drover will sometimes think longingly of the home and the
comforts he once despised.

[Page 200]

Still, droving is a popular calling, and men have followed it constantly
for years, procuring a long droving job during the season, and spelling
their horses when work is scarce.

More provision should be made for regular stock routes throughout the
country, and the area of these should not be included in the runs on
which lessees have to pay rent, as the case is now. The drover's calling
is a necessary one, and he should have more protection and greater
facilities for getting his stock to market, and not a continual fight
for the rights of the road as he has now.


"In my wild erratic fancy, visions come to me of Clancy,
Gone a-droving down the Cooper, where the western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know."

--"Banjo."


A.S.N. Co.

Not least among the forces that worked for the settlement of the north,
may be reckoned the steamer services. In this respect, the old A. S. N.
Co. held the premier position, as their steamers were the first in all
the ports of Queensland, and the colony is much indebted to the energy
and enterprise of that Company. From Brisbane to Cooktown, their
steamers were the first to cast anchor in the new harbours and help to
develop the trade of the coast.

[Page 201]

Although not always very popular, for the public complained often at the
charges made for freight and passages, the Company gave a good helping
hand towards the opening up of the young country.

A few notes about the history of this pioneering Company, obtained
through the agency of their secretary, Mr. F. Phillips, may be of
interest to some. It was originally established under the name of the
Hunter River Steam Navigation Company, in August, 1839, with a capital
of 40,000, and premises at the foot of Margaret Street, Sydney. In
April, 1841, the "Rose," steamer, arrived from England, 172 tons burden.
In October of the same year, the "Shamrock" arrived from England, under
Captain Gilmore, being 123 days out. The "Thistle" had previously
arrived. In 1841, the Company advertised their intention of sending one
of their steamers to Moreton Bay, and the "Shamrock" sailed thither in
December of that year. The fares were 8, 6, and 4; freight, 20s.
wool, 20s. per bale. After five months, the steamer was withdrawn, as
the trade was not remunerative. In September, 1842, the "Tamar," and
"Sovereign," steamers, were purchased by the Company from Mr. Grose for
12,000; they were then carrying on a trade with Twofold Bay, Melbourne,
and Launceston. In July, 1844, two water frontage allotments in Brisbane
were secured for 50, and Mr. James Paterson was appointed manager in
October, 1845.

[Page 202]

The Company's engineering works were established at Pyrmont in February,
1846, the land being leased for that purpose. The "Eagle," steamer, a
well-known old northerner, was built for the Company at their Pyrmont
works. On March 11th, 1847, their steamer, the "Sovereign" was wrecked
in the south passage in Moreton Bay, and forty-four lives lost. In
March, 1851, the Company's name was changed to the Australian Steam
Navigation Company, it was incorporated, and its scope enlarged. The
capital of the Company was 320,000, divided into 16,000 shares of 20
each, and the opposition of the Melbourne Steamship Company, which had
been carried on at a great loss to both, ceased. In May, 1858, the
Company offered the colonies a mail service to Galle, and in September
of the same year the rush to the Port Curtis diggings set in, and land
was purchased by the Company at Rockhampton in 1860. Their steam service
was extended to Bowen, a port which was just then opening a way to
inland settlers to obtain their supplies from, and the Company obtained
a contract for a mail service between Adelaide and King George's Sound.
In February, 1863, a new opposition was started by the inauguration of
the Queensland Steamship Company. The following year the A.S.N. Co. had
extensive wharves and stores built for themselves both in Brisbane and
Rockhampton. The "Leichhardt," steamer, was built at their works for the
northern trade, and the Company's operations were extended to Townsville
in 1865, Captain Trouton being appointed manager the next year.

[Page 203]

In January, 1868, the Queensland Steamship Company was wound up, and its
steamers and wharves bought up by the A.S.N. Co. In 1870, the
Californian mail service was opened by H. Hall, who chartered the
company's steamers "Wonga" and the "City of Melbourne" for that purpose.
Campbell's Wharf in Sydney was bought for a large sum in 1876, and the
next year Captain O'Reilly leaving the Brisbane agency, Mr. W. Williams
was appointed.

In 1878, three Chinese crews were obtained for the A. S. N. Co.
steamers, a circumstance which caused a strike in November, 1879,
lasting until the following January. The Company had been engaged in the
trade between Newcastle and Sydney, but this was abandoned in September,
1880, when the plant and stores were sold to the Newcastle Steamship Co.

In January, 1887, the extensive intercolonial trade of the A. S. N. Co.
ceased, and all their steam fleet was sold to a new company called the
A.U.S.N. Co. The fleet stood at 481,000 in their books, and was sold
for 200,000. The shareholders received 20 8s. 9d. per share, the par
value being 20 per share; the shares when the fleet was sold were 9
10s. in the open market, but the increase in the value of the landed
properties of the Company helped to this satisfactory result.

[Page 204]

BURNS, PHILP & CO.

Throughout Australia, but above all in the northern parts of Queensland,
the name of Burns, Philp and Co. ranks foremost among the many wealthy
and large companies that have helped to develop trade in the northern
parts, and a short account of the growth of this great business may
prove interesting. Intimately associated with North Queensland, the
business of the Company has grown and prospered with the growth and
prosperity of the youngest colony of the group, and much of the rapid
opening of new ports and harbours on the northern coast line, and also
among the Pacific Islands, is due directly to the natural business
capabilities of the founders of the Company.

A number of shipping agencies are also held in North Queensland, Western
Australia, and Sydney, and the Company itself owns a fleet of small
vessels used in the coasting, lightering, and island trade. Altogether
there are between sixty and seventy steamers, sailing vessels, and
lighters owned and chartered which fly the flag of Burns, Philp and Co.,
and the red, white, and blue, with Scotch thistle in the centre, is a
flag well known throughout the Pacific Islands and all round Australia.
A mail service is run by the Company between Cooktown, New Guinea, and
Thursday Island, also a three years' contract was in 1897 entered into
with the Government of Western Australia to run weekly between Albany
and Esperance.

[Page 205]

Considerable trade is done with the Solomon Islands, and steamers run
regularly from Sydney in this trade. The Company have also steam and
sailing services with the New Hebrides, Louisades, New Guinea, New
Britain, Ellice, and Gilbert, and many other islands in the Pacific,
having a ten years' contract with the Commonwealth Government for
regular communication with all the islands which are practically under
British control, while branch businesses have been established at Port
Moresby and Samarai in British New Guinea, at Elila in the New Hebrides,
Nukualofa in the Friendly Islands, and elsewhere. The first steam
service down the Gulf of Carpentaria from Thursday Island was
inaugurated by the senior partner of the Company, Mr. James Burns, in
the year 1881, by means of the little steamship "Truganini," which used
often to be overcrowded with passengers and freight for Normanton.

The Company is the largest colonial shipper to the European and Eastern
markets of Pacific Island produce, such as copra, beche de mer,
sandalwood, ivory nuts, tortoise shell, and, above all, pearl shell, for
which Torres Straits is so famous; add to this the amount of tallow,
wool, and other Australian produce annually exported, and it will give
some idea of the export business done. The Company has two fleets of
pearl shelling luggers, comprising about forty pearlers in all.

[Page 206]

Burns, Philp and Co. is essentially a company of a co-operative
character, and a glance at the share list will show that the great bulk
of shareholders are managers, employees, and others actually working in
the company. This tends to a live interest all round, and each branch
vies with the other in good management and success. The business was
originally established at Townsville, thirty years ago by the senior
partner, Mr. James Burns, and the new offices lately completed there at
a cost of 15,000 are the finest in North Queensland, while recently,
premises costing 50,000 were erected in Sydney. Mr. Philp, now the Hon.
Robert Philp, Premier of Queensland, joined Mr. Burns some twenty-five
years ago. Both are Scotchmen, the one hailing from Edinburgh, and the
other from Glasgow. The Company was formed into a limited liability
company twenty-one years ago.

Much could be written of the varied character of the business of Burns,
Philp and Co., which embraces almost every colonial interest besides,
while they are allied to a group of other colonial companies which act
in accord with them, notably the North Queensland Insurance Company, and
other concerns. For some years the Company engaged in the whaling
enterprise with fairly successful results, but the detention of Captain
Carpenter, and the seizure of the whaling barque "Costa Rica Packet" by
the Dutch authorities in the Malay Archipelago, abruptly terminated what
promised to be a most important colonial enterprise. It will be
remembered that the Dutch Government had to pay a considerable sum to
the captain, owners, and crew of the vessel for this wrongful seizure.

[Page 207]

The total turnover of this Company now exceeds two millions sterling,
and it is one of the largest and most progressive of the purely
Australian concerns.

In the Sydney office a special telegraphic operator is always at work,
and cable and telegraphic messages are sent to, and received from, all
parts of the world direct. This is the only company in the colonies
which has a Government operator established on the premises solely for
its own business.

[Page 208]



CHAPTER XI. - ABORIGINALS OF NORTH QUEENSLAND.


Where did the natives come from?

How long ago?

Where did they land first?

Where are their ancestors?

Were they ever civilised?

These and similar questions occur to those who regard the natives of
Australia with interest. They live only in the past, there is no future
for them, here at least. Their origin is involved in impenetrable
obscurity. Scarcely on the earth is to be found a race similar to the
aboriginals, whilst their antiquity is beyond doubt, and also the fact
that they have a common origin. Their speech, habits, colour, customs,
and superstitions, proclaim in the strongest terms that they all came
from a common source; from the far north of Australia to the farthest
south, a hundred proofs are forthcoming to show a common ancestry. Words
that have a similar meaning are used on the Darling River and in places
in the Gulf of Carpentaria; the weapons are similar all over the
continent; their faces and figures are similar, allowing for the effects
of varieties of food and climate.

[Page 209]

In the three hundred years since the first contact between Europeans and
the New Hollanders, no change has occurred; they were then spread over
Australia, the same in habits and life as they are now, and the only
result of the contact of the two races of men, the civilised and the
savage, is that the native is fading away before the white man like mist
before the morning sun. Nothing can avert the doom that is written as
plainly as was the writing on the wall at Belshazzar's feast. And to
what purpose would we preserve them? What good could accrue from
maintaining a remnant of a race that it is impossible to civilise. The
buffalo of America, like the Red Indian himself (the hunter and the
hunted), pass over the river in front of the advancing tide of
civilisation.

As a study, the native race of Australia is eminently interesting, for
in them we have living representatives of the stone age; remarkable for
their pureness of race, having had no admixture from any other nation
through countless generations for their great antiquity, for before the
pyramids of Egypt were built, they had occupied Australia and for the
silence of all history and traditions concerning them and their destiny
of doom; as a race problem they are full of interest.

[Page 210]

From Cape York to the Great Australian Bight, and from the Leeuwin to
the Great Sandy Spit on Frazer's Island, there is no difference in the
type of the native of Australia, although the quality and quantity of
their food has caused some of the tribes to be more robust and better
developed than others. In the north, where food is plentiful, there are
many fine specimens of men over the average height of the European. Many
of the northern aboriginals are tall, muscular men, of great activity
and endurance, with keen sight and observation, and they often attain to
a good old age. Nearly all are bearded, with hair that is wavy rather
than straight or curly. They are not a cowardly race, as among
themselves they conduct their fights with a certain degree of honour,
and with great pluck, not taking advantage of an opponents' accident.
They excel in throwing their spears with the wommera or throwing stick,
and can hit a mark at a distance of seventy to eighty yards with great
force; the boomerang is used for game, such as ducks or pigeons, as well
as in warfare, and is really a formidable weapon. On the north-east
coast, they use a wooden sword which is wielded with both hands, and
seems to have been an improvement or an innovation on the boomerang,
where the dense scrubs prohibited the use of the throwing weapon.

They appear to have been from all time a race of hunters, ever living on
the products of the chase, and from the scarcity of game, and difficulty
in keeping it when killed, they seldom remain more than one or two
nights in one camp, but move about in small parties.

[Page 211]

Although the tribes or families are always on the move--a nomad hunter
race--their districts are well defined, and they seldom trespass on the
hunting grounds of an adjoining tribe, unless with consent. This strict
delimitation of districts and dislike of trespass, has led to a great
diversity in their dialects, and every little tribe seems to have a
different language; in a distance of one or two hundred miles, the names
for the commonest things may be altered, although the same social system
prevails substantially throughout all tribes, with little or no
variation.

In their original state they could not have been an unhappy people; when
food was plentiful, they made weapons and shaped their stone tomahawks,
which of itself was a work of slow progress; they wove nets for their
game, and composed or sang their wild songs, or still wilder
corroborrees, or dances. Obedient to the laws and customs handed down
from their ancient forefathers, and following out the rites of their
marriage laws with great strictness, they lived healthy lives to a good
old age, while the increase of the race was checked by the amount of
food each district could supply. With the advent of the white race, the
social system that held them together for thousands of years, became
disturbed and broken into, and their natural food supplies were
destroyed. Thus, with the introduction of new diseases, this primitive
race of mankind is fast disappearing, apparently without a thought or
struggle or hope, and after a few years not a remnant of them, or any
sign of their occupation of the country will remain.

[Page 212]

Some of their customs appear to be very general, such as knocking out
the two front teeth among women, and sometimes among men; this is done
by a sudden blow on the end of a stick which is placed on the tooth, and
then knocked inwards. A very general custom is boring a hole through the
septum of the nose, although it is not often that an ornament is put
through it. Another manner of adornment is by raised cicatrices made on
the chest and back and arms, by cutting the skin with a piece of sharp
flint and putting in gum or clay. In their native state, they do not
appear to have made any attempt at any kind of covering or dress, either
male or female, except that young girls wore an apron round the loins
made of fibre or grass hanging down a few inches. For camping at night
they used ti-tree or other bark as a shelter when procurable, and always
slept between two or three small fires, making a slight hollow in the
ground so as to get the warmth of the fire above them, and generally
choosing the sandy beds of rivers away from the wind. In the Gulf
country, during the wet season, they made small sleeping benches raised
on forks driven in the ground, about three feet high, with sheets of
bark laid flat, and over them other sheets of bark bent in a
half-circle, so as to throw off rain; beneath these structures or
sleeping places they kept up a smoke to save them from the mosquitoes,
which in the Northern Peninsula, were dreadfully annoying.

[Page 213]

It was the duty of the gins to keep the fire going during the night. In
dry weather or windy nights, a breakwind made of boughs or branches was
used as a protection, behind which they made their small fires for
sleeping by. The cooking was generally done away from their camp fires,
mostly during the daytime.

In the Gulf country also, the coast blacks make small gunyahs of bent
twigs thatched with grass. These are only used during the wet season as
a protection, chiefly from mosquitoes.

The treatment of the native races has always been a difficult question.
Whenever new districts were settled, the blacks had to move on to make
room; the result was war between the races. The white race were the
aggressors, as they were the invaders of the blacks' hunting territory.
The pioneers cannot be condemned for taking the law into their own hands
and defending themselves in the only way open to them, for the blacks
own no law themselves but the law of might. The protection of outside
districts by the Native Police, was the only course open, although the
system cannot very well be defended any more than what was done under it
can be. The white pioneers were harder on the blacks in the way of
reprisals when they were forced to deal with them for spearing their men
or their cattle or horses even than the Native Police. But how were
property and the lives of stockmen, shepherds, and prospectors in the
north to be protected unless by some summary system of retribution by
Native Police or bands of pioneers?

[Page 214]

The vices and diseases of the white race have been far more fatal to the
blacks than the rifles of the pioneers, more particularly when they were
allowed about the towns, where they always exhibit the worst traits of
their character, becoming miserable creatures, useless for any purpose,
and an eyesore to everyone. Those employed on stations as stockriders
and horse-hunters become very useful and clever at the business, having
a special aptitude for working among stock, and they are, as a rule,
well treated, clothed, and fed. The Northern Peninsula up to Cape York
is the only territory in Queensland where the natives may still be found
in their original state, and on some of the rivers flowing into the Gulf
they are still numerous.

Their cave drawings show their taste for drawing or sketching to have
been of the rudest; just a few marks on their boomerangs, line drawings
on water koolimans, and some attempts at drawing figures on rocks in
caves are all that have been discovered. The drawings are found wherever
sandstone caves are found, and many of these are to be met with on the
range about the Normanby River, near Cooktown, where the steep cliffs
have been eaten into by the weather or by landslips, leaving hollows or
caves in which the blacks have camped and ornamented with figures rudely
drawn and coloured with red ochre or pipeclay; many of these drawings
represent nothing at all; in some a hand is drawn, occasionally an
attempt at some bird, or animal, or tree.

[Page 215]

Sir George Grey describes some elaborate drawings on the north-west
coast of Australia found in caves of a similar nature, and large numbers
are found on the coast near the Roper River in the Gulf of Carpentaria,
and at Limmen's Bight, in the hollows of rocks, where, sheltered from
the weather, the face of the stone is entirely covered with their rude
attempts.

All the lands in the southern seas are supposed to have been populated
by castaways, driven by gales out of their reckoning, and landing
haphazard at the first land or shore. The first visitor to the unknown
and uninhabited land, arriving by accident, would have a struggle for
existence, and a hard one too; he would have to improvise his weapons
for the chase, and to learn to adapt himself to his new surroundings.
His only chance of existence would be to become a nomad, a hunter; and
all his spare time would be taken up in finding food and making weapons
for the chase; for which Nature provided in a rude way the materials
such as flints that break with a cutting or conchoidal edge that would
answer very well for carving flesh, fashioning spears, or hollowing
vessels for carrying water, though large shells could be used for this;
the gum that exudes from many trees would serve to fasten handles to
these flint knives. Hard rocks, such as diorite would be used for axes.

[Page 216]

These stones require a vast amount of patience in chipping and grinding
into shape. To make canoes out of sheets of bark would become a
necessity for fishing and visiting the islands, and they would have to
be sewn together with twine made from the inner bark of a tree.
Wonderfully well made some of those canoes on the coast are; three
sheets of thin bark tapered to a point; one sheet for the bottom and one
each to form the sides; the fire is laid on some mud on the bottom, with
a shell to bail out. Using a single paddle on each side alternately, the
natives will make long voyages among the islands on the coast. Primitive
Nature would be the castaway's granary or storehouse; the herbs and
fruits as they grew naturally, and the wild animals and fish would form
the only means of subsistence.

Arriving in the country with such surroundings and difficulties to
contend with, no wonder the castaways remained in a state of savagery.
Without any means to better their condition, or even to know that it
could be bettered, they remained as they landed, simple savages or
children of Nature, quite satisfied with their surroundings, and happy
enough if left alone to follow their own mode of life. What spare time
they had would be passed singing songs or composing them. The women
would assist in all the work of life and perform all the drudgery,
collecting roots, nuts, and fibre; grinding the seeds, making the fire,
and carrying wood and water to the camp.

[Page 217]

It is well known that savage women are possessed of uncommon endurance
and vitality. In the course of ages, as their numbers increased, they
would gradually spread abroad, carrying with them the customs and habits
of their forefathers, but not improving or adding to the knowledge of
the tribe. The natural instincts of the aboriginals are sharpened by
exercise, and their skill in tracking is marvellous; they can follow the
trail of another black over bare rocks or on the driest earth; they can
recognise an acquaintance by the track of his foot. As bushmen they
excel, having the faculty of being able to steer a course to any place
they may wish, even in the dark, although, from superstitious ideas,
they do not travel about much at night. Most of their quarrels are over
their women; one man appropriating the wife of another. It is allowable
by their laws for a man to have several wives, and marriage by
arrangement is the general course. They are betrothed at a very early
age, and the girl remains with her parents till the man comes to claim
her. The brother-in-law has the right to marry the widow, and is
expected to do so. The mother-in-law never looks on the face of her
son-in-law, avoiding him on every occasion, even if in the same camp;
this is a custom peculiar to all parts of Australia, and even to other
savage peoples outside the continent.

[Page 218]

They are all compelled to marry within their class, and all tribes come
under the same system, an equal rule prevailing all over Australia. The
system of their marriage laws is puzzling to white people, but it is
well understood by every black, male or female, old or young, and will
be referred to further on, under the class system, the writer having
collected information of several class systems for Mr. A. W. Howitt, of
Victoria.

The blackfellow generally wears his hair long, and usually caked into
thick matted rope-like coils, with a band of red above the forehead, or
else a native dog's tail. When dressed for a dance or corroborree, the
hair is sometimes tied in a tuft with cockatoo feathers on the top. The
married women wear their hair shorter, but the unmarried women generally
wear it long. When mourning for the dead, the hair is plastered all over
with mud, and the eyes and forehead are painted round with pipeclay.

The natives are fond of singing, and their voices are melodious, while
they keep excellent time by beating two boomerangs together; they sing a
sort of monotonous chant, and keep it up in camp to a late hour. Their
songs of mourning are always pitched in a minor key, and convey a
dreadfully sorrowful expression; they are sung by both male and female,
but the chant is soon varied, as their natural inclination is to be
merry, and they look on most things in a ludicrous light. Their sense of
humour is very keen and to mimic everything is their chief delight. The
clear ringing laugh that they indulge in, and their merry chatter, are
an indication of the cheerful nature and freedom from care, that help to
make them so contented and easily pleased.

[Page 219]

They believe that the spirits of the dead, which are good and bad, go
about at night and hold communication with some members of the tribe,
particularly with the medicine men, or doctors. The medicine men claim
to have power to talk with the spirits, and the blacks firmly believe
that they have such power of communication. These old men are also
supposed to preserve the traditions and superstitions of the tribe, and
they alone can perform with efficacy the various ceremonies attendant on
the healing of the sick; they also instruct the young men in the beliefs
of the tribe and as to the proper conduct of their lives, and this they
do at special meetings known as bora meetings. It is the special
privilege of the old men to hold communication with the spirits of the
departed, by which they become possessed of much knowledge which they
impart to their tribe. They believe they have the power of making rain
and healing the sick. The blacks live in continual dread of death, which
they attribute to some spirit agency or to witchcraft. Scarcely any
death is put down to natural causes, except those killed in fight;
sickness and death are always regarded by them as the works of an enemy
at a distance. This belief is universal among Australian blacks. They
have various ideas as to how this evil influence is brought about; one
of them is by pointing a bone at the victim, and for this a piece of a
human leg bone sharpened to a point and several inches long is used.

[Page 220]

They live in dread of this bone (Thimmool) being pointed at them, and
have a great aversion at any time to touch or even look at any bones of
deceased members of the tribe. It is supposed that the pointing of the
bone causes a gradual wasting away of the victim until death takes
place. Another process is to take the pinion of a bird, the two bones
fastened together with wax, including some hair of the person whose
injury is intended; this is stuck in the ground and surrounded with
fire, then it is set in the sun, and again returned to the fire, varying
the performance according as to the extent of the harm to be caused;
when sufficient sickness has been caused, they place the bone in water,
thus dispelling the charm. This process is called "Marro." There is a
superstition about abstracting the kidney fat of a blackfellow for
promoting luck in fishing, and this is said to be done in various ways.
The blacks are very good to the aged and infirm, and carry them from
camp to camp; they are also good to the blind, whom they feed and care
for, and when death ensues, they will mourn and chant their death song
nightly.

The aborigines believe that the spirit survives after death, and that it
walks about on earth for a time, and then departs for another country
which is supposed to be among the stars, the road to which is by the
milky way, and the ascent by the Southern Cross, as by a ladder.

[Page 221]

The life supposed to be led there is similar to that on earth, but the
food is abundant and shade trees and water are everywhere. They have
names for all the constellations, and understand their times and
movements. The Pleiades they call "Munkine," the name for a virgin or
unmarried girl. Orion's Belt is called "Marbarungal," they believe him
to have been a great hunter who formerly dwelt among them. The moon is a
male, who, they say, was once a blackfellow, who killed a lot of their
people. The latter burnt him in the struggle, and they point to the
shadows on its surface as marks of the scars. A paper was read before
the Royal Society of Brisbane by E. Palmer on October 2nd, 1885,
"Concerning some superstitions of North Queensland aborigines."

Cannibalism is practised among the blacks everywhere, but more from
custom following certain traditions than for the sake of food; certain
blacks are eaten, while others are not; those killed in a fight are
generally eaten. In some places they skin the dead blackfellow, and
twist the skin round a bundle of spears with the hair sticking up on
top, and they carry this to different camps, sticking it in the ground
by the points of the spears; children are sometimes eaten when they die.

They are expert at all game hunting, and in snaring wildfowl; the plain
turkey can be caught with a long reed on the end of a spear with a
running noose made of twine and quills; with this in one hand, and a
bush in the other, a man with patience will creep up close enough to
catch a turkey round the neck.

[Page 222]

They make strong nets of cordage, having a large mesh to catch emus,
kangaroos, or wallabies. These nets they stretch in certain places, and
drive the game into them; small hand nets are used to catch fish with;
pigeons and ducks are snared in nets which are stretched across creeks.
The habits of birds and animals are closely studied, and their instincts
are overmatched by the cunning of the savage, who wants them for food.

All their food is cooked before being eaten, generally on stones made
red-hot. It is wrapped in green leaves, and then covered over with hot
ashes to steam. In the north they eat the alligator when they can manage
to kill one, and the small fresh-water crocodile, found in most of the
Gulf rivers, is also an article of food.

Seeds of various grasses are ground into a paste with water and poured
into the ashes to cook, while some fruits and nuts require great
preparation before using, as they are extremely poisonous without such
treatment. In preserving game, the blacks are very cruel, they twist the
legs out of joint to prevent them getting away, and keep them alive in
this way until they are wanted for cooking.

They eat the dingo, and everything else that lives; and are very clever
at discovering the nests of the native bees; honey, or "sugar-bag," as
they call it, is a favourite food of theirs.

[Page 223]

It is only by constant moving about from camp to camp that a supply of
food can be kept up, the women doing their share of providing by digging
up yams and roots, fishing for crayfish and mussels, and grinding seeds
between two stones. Their life is a constant worry for food from day to
day, and nothing passes them that can be eaten. A favourite food of
theirs is the tuber of the waterlily growing in lagoons, of this they
even eat the stalks or stems of the seed stalk.

The dugong, a large marine grass-feeding mammal is netted and speared;
the flesh, when dried, is similar to bacon, and in the Wide Bay dialect
is called "Koggar," the same name they give to the pig. White ants are
esteemed a treat, and their nests are broken into, and the young ones,
with the eggs winnowed from the dirt are eaten raw, as well as the
grubs, which are the larvae of some locusts or beetles, and which are
cut out of the trees.

THE CLASS SYSTEM.

All natives acknowledge the same system of class divisions, and these
correspond all over Australia. The blacks are born into these divisions,
and the idea is instilled into them from the beginning that they are to
observe them as sacred.

Though differing in name or in totem, the classes and divisions prevail
everywhere, and a blackfellow knows at once which of the divisions
corresponds to his own in a distant tribe.

[Page 224]

All thing's in Nature are divided into the same classes, and are said to
be male and female; the sun, moon, and stars are believed to be men and
women, and to belong to classes similar to the blacks themselves.

The following is an instance of the system of class divisions belonging
to a tribe on the Upper Flinders River, in the Gulf of Carpentaria,
calling themselves "Yerrunthully." They had four class divisions,
namely:--


MALE      MARRIES   FEMALE.        CHILDREN ARE
Bunbury             Woonco         Coobaroo
Coobaroo            Koorgielah     Bunbury
Koorgielah          Coobaroo       Woonco
Woonco              Bunbury        Koorgielah

Each boy and girl in the tribe is born under one
of these divisions, and is subjected to the laws,
connected with tribal marriages These classes are
represented by totems, which are different in other
tribes lower down the river:--


Bunbury             Carpet Snake   Tharoona
Coobaroo            (Brown Snake   Warrineyah
                    (Emu           Gooburry
Koorgielah          {Plain Turkey  Bergamo
                    {Native Dog    Cubburah
Woonco              Whistling Duck Chevvelah

Many other instances could be given, but they
all partake of the same divisions and classes.

[Page 225]

A blackfellow can only marry into one class, namely that opposite to his
name, the other three are forbidden to him strictly. The descent seems
to be reckoned through the mother, for the child takes its name, not
from its mother's class, but from the grandmother's class. The class
name always goes back to that of the grandmother on the female side, the
father's class name having no influence in the matter. Woonco's daughter
is always Coobaroo, and Coobaroo's daughter is always Woonco, and so on
through succeeding generations. The father might possibly be of a name
representing the proper class, but from a far away tribe, for they
correspond in class though not always in name; still the children take
their name through the mother in this tribe. The blacks understand these
relationships well, and exemplify them with two sticks crossed.

[Page 226]



CHAPTER XII. - PHYSICAL FEATURES.


The annual reports issued by the Water Supply Department of Queensland
give detailed accounts of the annual and average rainfall over the whole
of the colony, with the results of boring for artesian water, both
privately and by Government. It is one of the most valuable and
interesting reports issued, and with the rain maps accompanying it,
conveys in a moment an accurate estimate of the average rainfall both on
the coast and in the far interior. Beginning at Mackay, where the
tropical rains commence, and following the coast line to Cape York, the
record is higher than anywhere else in the colony, owing to the near
approach of the high ranges to the coast. The maximum rainfall recorded
in one year is reported at Geraldton, where 211.24 inches fell in 1894;
Cairns can boast of 174.56 inches as its highest rainfall; this occurred
in 1886. At Cape York, the average is 60.87; and at Mackay, 72.73
inches; these numbers give a general indication of the humidity of the
climate on the east coast of North Queensland.

[Page 227]

As we advance into the interior a far different climate prevails, and
the farther west we go, the lighter becomes the rainfall, till it would
almost appear as if it scarcely ever rained in some places in the
interior, which are not much raised above the level of the sea. At
Birdsville, low down on the Diamantina River, on the borders of South
Australia, the rainfall taken for three years, amounted to only 5.72
inches, and on the Mulligan, where for six years an average was taken,
it amounted to only 5.77 inches. At Boulia, on the Burke River, the
average for nine years was 13.54 inches.

Between these extremes of great dryness and excessive moisture, the
intervening country shows a graduated increase or decrease as one
approaches or recedes from the eastern coast. As very few waterways
exist to carry off surplus water, the drainage being often imperceptible
to the eye, this seems a merciful dispensation of Nature, as under such
conditions any great rainfall would place the whole country under a sea
of water long enough for all animal life to become extinct. The water
that flows down the usually dry channels of the western rivers
southwards comes from the Gulf watershed, where the rainfall is much
heavier, averaging at Cloncurry 20.80 inches. The amount of rainfall
determines largely the nature of the fauna and flora of a country, and
causes it to vary, even in the same latitudes. Between the high coastal
districts and the vast rolling plains and downs of the interior these
differences are so marked and distinct that they seem like two separate
countries; climate, timber, herbage, and even animal life are so
different in the two regions that it seems extraordinary such contrasts
should exist in the same latitude in one country.

[Page 228]

All along the east coast, where the rainfall is heavy, we find forests
of splendid hardwood and scrubs containing cedar and pine of gigantic
growth. In the interior, the timber is as a rule dwarfed, hollow, and
crooked; the principal timbers being the acacia family, such as the
gidya, myall, brigalow, boree, etc. The grasses of the interior adapt
themselves to the climate, and are of a far hardier growth than the
coast grasses; one season without moisture does not impare their
wonderful vitality; the salt bushes are the hardiest of all vegetation
in the interior, and are of the greatest value to pastoralists. Birds
are found on the coast that never visit the interior districts; while
the galas and corellas are never found in a wild state near the coast.
During the wet season in the summer months many seabirds migrate to the
interior for a few weeks.

Accompanying the report of the Hydraulic Engineer is a coloured map
showing the sites of artesian bores and tanks and the supposed area of
the lower cretaceous or water-bearing strata, as well as the underlying
impermeable palaeozoic rocks. The whole of Western Queensland may be
said to belong to the lower cretaceous formation; here and there, where
it has not been denuded by the action of the atmosphere, the desert
sandstone may be found overlaying it.

[Page 229]

The whole of this vast area of water-bearing rocks has been proved by
artesian bores, most of which are far below the level of the sea. The
knowledge of the area of the water-bearing country in the interior is
extending as additional bores are put down. Some of the bores within the
known belt of the water area have been abandoned owing to causes that
may be generally classified as accidents.

The Government have sunk a number of wells, while hundreds of flowing
bores that now stud the great western country have been put down by
private enterprise. The policy of the Government has been to determine
the area within which artesian water may be hopefully searched for, and
to provide water in arid country or on stock routes, and excellent
results have attended the carrying out of this policy. The Winton bore
is down in the lower cretaceous beds 4,010 feet, it gives a flow of
720,000 gallons of water a day, at a temperature of 192 degs.; the
surface level is 600 feet above the sea; it will take about 8,000 to
cover the total cost of sinking, etc. The Charleville bore has the
largest flow of any Government bore, giving 3,000,000 gallons in the
twenty-four hours, but some bores on Tinenburra, on the Warrego River,
give as much as 4,000,000 gallons. About 800 private bores have been
sunk in search of artesian water in the western area of Queensland; of
these 515 give a total output of 322 millions of gallons in the
twenty-four hours, and the total cost of them amounted to nearly
2,000.000.

[Page 230]

This expenditure made within sixteen years, is creditable to the energy
and forethought of the western settlers. Some of the bores are not
overflowing, and the water is raised by pumping, though the supply is
inexhaustible. By the flow of water thus brought to the surface, the
devastating effects of the periodical droughts have been minimised, and
large areas have become available to profitable occupation that
previously were waste country. The flow of this artesian water from the
private and public bores is worth more to Queensland than a river of
gold. They have completely changed the face of the country, and removed
the anxiety of the stock owners towards the end of the season, when all
surface water (except the most permanent lagoons) has dried up and
formed mud traps to catch all weak stock that venture near them. These
tiny perforations of the earth's surface have helped to solve the
difficulty of settlement on the western lands, where we find the
rainfall diminishing as we go further west. As these little threads of
water find their way across the plains and form into small ponds in the
hollows, the wildfowl resort to them as if they were natural waters,
while the bulrushes (typha angustifolia), soon follow and grow in
masses, although these are only to be found round springs, and never in
permanent lagoons or rivers.

[Page 231]

Some curious features are connected with the artesian water supply;
sometimes the temperature is very high, that of the Dagworth bore
reaching 196 degrees, while the pressure of the Thargomindah bore is
over 230 lbs. to the square inch. The water supply tapped is perhaps
beyond calculation, and up to the present time there is no indication of
exhaustion.

The source of this enormous pressure of water that is capable of sending
a jet over a hundred feet above the surface, is still unexplained, and
many theories are afloat as to its origin; some of these go far afield
for reasons for the great supply and strong pressure. The enormous
rainfall on the coast ranges, where the intake probably occurs, and
where the impermeable rocks approach the surface, carrying the water
under the lower cretaceous, or more recent formation (which is shown to
be the most extensive in Western Queensland), seems to be the most
reasonable to adopt at the present time. These water-bearing strata must
cover very large areas in Australia, for a bore at Tarcanina, near the
south coast on the Great Australian Bight, is down over 1,000 feet below
the level of the sea, and throws the water to a great height above the
surface.

Mr. R. L. Jack, the Government Geologist, in a paper on artesian water
in the western interior of Queensland read before the Australian
Association for the Advancement of Science, in Brisbane, January, 1895,
argues in a most convincing manner as to the source of artesian supplies
of water, giving the intake or gathering ground at about 55,000 square
miles, over a region where the mean average rainfall taken at thirteen
meteorological stations along the line of outcrop, amounts to 27 inches
annually, which is considerably greater than that of the interior of the
downs country.

[Page 232]

The greater part of the rainfall is not carried away by the channels of
the rivers, neither is it evaporated, but sinks through porous strata
into the earth, and does not return except through springs or submarine
leakage. The fact of all this great supply of water finding its way to
the sea at great depths, shows what little effect a few bores can have
on the enormous annual supply. It is an encouragement to extend the
number of bores, which are so necessary to successfully settle the arid
plains of the distant interior, in order to anticipate the waste of
water.

The fact of an artesian bore diminishing its flow may be due to many
causes other than shortage of supply, faults in the tubing or caving in
of the strata may account for it. We have here the secret of successful
settlement in inland Australia--an inexhaustible supply of water fit for
all the wants of man.

The Normanton bore, practically on the edge of the Gulf, and sunk from a
level of about 30 feet above the sea, struck artesian water at a depth
of 1,983 feet, or 1,950 feet below sea level. This bore and the one at
Burketown, both of which were successful in reaching artesian water,
were put down by the Government during the time Mr. G. Phillips
represented Carpentaria in the Legislative Assembly, 1893-5.

[Page 233]

THE GRASSES AND FODDER PLANTS.

An enumeration of all the fodder plants and herbage common to North
Queensland would require a long catalogue, as variety is Nature's law in
this case, and the western soil teems after the wet season with flowers,
herbs, grasses, and fruits all more or less adapted for use as fodder.
The prospect on the wide spreading plains after the early thunder
showers in November and December is very refreshing to the eye that has
been for months staring on the dry stalks of the Mitchell grass, or else
on the brown bare earth. Trailing vines of the melon and cucumber family
spread themselves in profusion, the fruit of which is eagerly sought
after by stock. Convolvolus flowers and vines grow among the young green
grasses, and many varieties of the compositse show in bright yellow
their gleaming flowers, mingled with hibiscus of every hue. The growth
of plant life is marvellous after the fall of soft rain on the warm rich
soil. Portulaca, known as pigweed, is among the first of the plants to
spring up, and grows in great masses; the seeds form a principal article
of food for the birds that frequent the plains, the young plants are
also used by stock, and are not despised by man in an emergency. All
life, vegetable and animal, revives suddenly after the surface of the
earth has been saturated with the life-giving element; frogs and locusts
sing their songs of joy day and night; flies increase beyond conception,
and mosquitoes and sandflies torment to distraction both man and beast.

[Page 234]

On the plains, the first vegetation to spring up is the sensitive plant,
spreading its delicate foliage over the surface, the leaves closing
during the heat of the day, and opening in the evening. The small
creeping plant said to be poisonous to stock (Euphorbia Drummondi),
appears immediately after rain. The climbing vine (Capparis lucida),
which bears a sub-acid fruit not unlike passion fruit, at this time of
year gives out its white flowers and fruit at the same time. The scent
of the innumerable flowers on the plains, the tender herbage, the young
grasses sending their seed stalks several feet high, and all the soil
covered densely with vegetation and herbage suitable for stock present a
picture to the eye, so utterly opposed to that which prevailed but a few
weeks before the advent of the rains, that the spectator can scarcely
believe it to be the same country. The seeds of some plants will remain
dormant for years, and then suddenly spring up in profusion; for
instance, the plant commonly known as peabush, a leguminous annual
(botanically Sesbania aegyptica), has only a periodical growth, and at
such times, varying for many years, it covers the plains in such rank
masses that the stockriders get quite bewildered when searching for
stock through its scrublike density; for several years after this
abundant growth, the plant will scarcely be noticeable; it is said that
every three years is a peabush year, but the writer cannot support the
theory, as he can only call to mind four or five really bad peabush
seasons in a period of thirty years.

[Page 235]

The seeds which fall to the ground in great quantities form the
sustenance for flocks of pigeons and other birds, but much seed must
also fall down the cracks of the earth and bide their time for a chance
of springing into life. The flowers of this plant grow in lilac and
yellow on the same stalk. Cattle are fond of it when young, and
mustering stock in a peabush year has many extra difficulties on account
of the prolific growth of this intermittent annual. It will sometimes
grow to a height of fifteen feet, and in swampy places is so dense that
it is difficult to keep even a few horses in sight when driving through
it; after it dries and the seeds fall to the ground, the stalks break
off, and the sweep of the water over the plains during the succeeding
year gathers these dry stems against the trees in enormous masses like
small haystacks, and there they remain until a bushfire reduces them to
ashes. The masses of peabush carried down creeks and watercourses at
certain seasons will yet prove a source of danger to railway and road
bridges when such structures come to be built on the western plains
comprising the watersheds of rivers flowing into the Gulf of
Carpentaria. Though peabush grows strongly on flooded ground, it can be
found of a sturdy growth on ridges or high plains or downs during a
favourable year, especially where water lodges between ridges.

[Page 236]

It is an ancient and historical plant, for the flowers that composed the
wreath found on an Egyptian mummy of ancient date, when softened and
opened with warm water, were found to be identical with the flowers of
the peabush of the Flinders River and western plains of North
Queensland.

The native pastures have not been improved by the introduction of stock;
the evils of overstocking and the want of bushfires to keep down the
undergrowth, have in some districts deteriorated or exterminated some of
the best of the fodder grasses. The best of all indigenous grasses is
known as Mitchell grass, a perennial of strong growth, and capable of
resisting the driest weather; there are many varieties of this grass,
which is found only on the plains and downs of the interior. It
possesses the faculty of shooting green from the old stalks at the
joints, and taking up moisture, renewing its youth again. The Mitchell
grass grows in isolated strong bunches, and its presence is a sure sign
of a fattening country. The following are the best known varieties:

"Astrebla pectinata," common Mitchell grass, growing in erect tussocks
of two or three feet high.

"A. triticoides," wheat-eared Mitchell grass; this plant is taller and
coarser than the last, attaining a height of four or five feet.

"A curvifolia," or curly Mitchell grass; plant forming erect tufts one
or two feet high, the leaves narrow and much curved.

[Page 237]

"A. elymoides," weeping Mitchell grass; plant decumbent, the stems
several feet long.

The blue grass (Andropogon sericeus), is an annual of soft rapid growth,
with a branching seedstalk that breaks off and is blown by the wind in
masses into waterholes; the blacks use the fine seeds of this grass for
food.

"Anthistiria membranacea," called the Flinders or Barcoo grass, is an
annual of a reddish colour, found all over the western plains. It is
soft and brittle, breaking easily off to fall on the ground, when stock
will pick it up; it makes excellent hay, keeping sweet for years, and is
one of the most fattening grasses.

The varieties of the indigenous grasses that cover the great western
plains are innumerable; all are more or less eaten by stock, even the
triodia or spinifex that is looked on as a desert grass, and of a
formidable and forbidding nature. Spinifex is a very drought-resisting
plant, and in times of great scarcity and extreme drought, when all
other grasses have dried out and been blown away, the spinifex is there
with its erect spiney leaves, possibly bitter to the taste, but still
life sustaining to stock, as has been proved in many a severe drought.
It grows on sandy sterile ridges, and seems to adhere to the latest
geological formation, the sandstone or cainozoic period; it is found on
ridges adjacent to alluvial flats where the richest herbage and grasses
are found in abundance.

[Page 238]

Kangaroo grass (Anthistiria ciliata), is found mostly in coastal
districts, and although a good pasture grass when green, it soon dries
and requires burning.

There are two prominent varieties of spear grass in the north, the worst
being the black spear grass (Andropogon contortus), which grows in sandy
spots along the banks of creeks, or on sandy ridges; it is not of much
use as a fodder grass, but becomes a terrible scourge to sheep when ripe
and seeding. The seeds are barbed, and as sharp as needles, and having
once entered the skin they work into the bone, causing intense annoyance
and irritation, and ultimately death. The other spear grass (Andropogon
Kennedeyii), not so dangerous, but of little use to stock, is a
coarsegrowing, strong grass, seven or eight feet high, with a reddish
bloom, and strong seeds that penetrate saddlecloths and clothes in
countless hundreds.

Herbage fills the spaces between the tufts of grasses soon after the
rains, and the plains develop a dense growth of pasturage; but after
continued dry seasons, all herbage disappears, and the grasses follow in
time, until very little is left except the roots, and a few of the more
hardy salsolaceous plants. These form a striking feature in the economy
of Nature in the plain country, the salt bushes are ever present in one
variety or another, and help to keep stock in health and condition. The
various species of "Atriplex" abound, and being very drought-resisting,
they are reckoned amongst the most valuable fodder plants. Sir Thomas
Mitchell was the first to make salt bush known after his first
expedition over sixty years ago.

[Page 239]

"A. Nummularia," passing under the curious vernacular of "Old Man Salt
Bush," is truly grey enough. Some of these plants have been propagated
in northwest America with great success, turning the barren alkali lands
that were never known to grow anything, into valuable pastures. Tons of
seeds are raised annually for Utah, Arizona, and other States. In Africa
the salt bushes are cultivated from seeds and even cuttings, and their
value is acknowledged everywhere. They endure scorching heat, live
without rains, are eaten by all kinds of stock, proving nutritious and
wholesome to them, are easily raised from seed, and can, with a little
care, be propagated from cuttings.

The blue bush (Chenopodium), is common all over the Gulf of Carpentaria
watershed, growing in swampy spots where water lies; it is a great
favourite with all kinds of stock, and is getting scarce owing to its
being eaten out so much.

Wild rice (Oryza sativa), grows in swampy places throughout the Gulf
country; the grain is well-defined, but small; all stock are fond of it,
when green; it grows to a height of three or four feet. The rice of
commerce is the produce of cultivated varieties of this grass.

[Page 240]

Edible shrubs are extremely plentiful, and are of great value when grass
becomes too dry to be nutritive. A peculiar feature in the vegetation of
the western plains is the "roley-poley," which is called in America the
"tumble weed." This is an annual of quick growth after rains, growing in
a spherical form from a common root; when the stem dries, it breaks off
close to the ground, and the ball of dried vegetation is driven by the
winds over the plains at a furious rate, topping the fences, and piling
up against them in masses. It causes the greatest consternation to
horses as it is driven across the downs. It possesses no virtue as a
fodder plant.

FOSSILS OF ANCIENT AUSTRALIA.

The Australian continent has undergone great changes during the past
geological ages, and most probably has been connected in remote times
with part of Asia, and not unlikely with South America by some now
submerged land. But whatever the connection may have been in the very
distant past, it has been shut off from the larger northern land masses
at so remote a period that the higher forms of mammals have not found
their way to it, as in Africa and South America. Great changes have
taken place in the continent itself.

[Page 241]

It is supposed that, at one time, in what is called the cretaceous or
chalk age, a great sea spread from the north right across from what is
now the Gulf of Carpentaria, covering immense tracts of level plain
country in the interior of Australia, including Western Queensland, and
part of New South Wales, so that the western half of the continent was
separated from the eastern at least in the northern parts. Gradually the
land rose and great lakes were formed in the interior, especially in the
region of Lake Eyre, and a growth of vegetation sprang up of a more
luxuriant type than is to be found now in those western parts, otherwise
the enormous animals, such as the giant diprotodon, huge extinct
kangaroos, birds larger than the moa, as well as crocodiles and turtles,
could never have found sustenance to multiply in such numbers as their
fossil remains testify they did in nearly every part of central
Australia, and in the interior of North Queensland. In this sea, which
washed the base of the mountains on the west, was deposited the sandy
formation which has become the level inland plains. From some cause so
far unknown, the land became dessicated, the lakes lost their freshness,
and became great salt pans, the vegetation and the animals dependent on
it became extinct, until a dry and arid region was produced, with a
river system that fails to reach the sea, but becomes absorbed in the
great sandy interior. The smaller types of marsupials of a hardier
nature and capable of removing to greater distances for food, maintained
their existence, while the giants of a similar race have left only their
bones embedded in the drift to testify to the mighty changes that Nature
has wrought out in the past ages.

[Page 242]

Fossil diprotodons of gigantic size and struthious birds rivalling in
stature the New Zealand moa, are found in Central Australia. At Lake
Callabonna in the great salt Lake Eyre basin, there are hundreds of
fossil skeletons of these animals, many of which have been removed to
the Adelaide Museum. In that locality they are found most frequently on
the surface of the dry salt lake, and have been preserved by a natural
coating of carbonate of lime; the bones are found at various depths.

Nearly the whole of interior Australia, including Western Queensland, is
one vast cemetery of extinct and fossilised species, scattered along the
surface, or buried deep in cement or drifts, and in clays hidden beneath
the present surface formation. The open plains of the Upper Flinders
disclose great deposits of marine fossil shells, belemnites and
ammonites, and also remains of extinct animals. On the Lower Leichhardt
River, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, forty or fifty feet beneath the
alluvial deposits forming the banks of the river, and firmly embedded in
the hard cement, which is an ancient drift formed of waterworn stones in
an ironstone clay, are found the bones of innumerable extinct gigantic
species of animals that found sustenance and multiplied in enormous
numbers over the Gulf country in some far back prehistoric age. On the
Walsh River are found large numbers of fossils, mostly shells of the
ammonite species.

[Page 243]

The bones that have been buried for countless ages in these ancient
drifts are well preserved, and are not very dissimilar in appearance to
the bones of animals dying recently on the surrounding plains, although
they are completely fossilised and changed into the appearance of stone.
The utter extinction of these gigantic species, comprising diprotodon,
nototherium, and zygomaturus, and other species, grasseaters and
flesheaters alike, can only be accounted for by a great change of
climate, and great and long-continued droughts, reducing the herbage and
causing the remaining living animals to crowd into the drying-up lagoons
and lakes, there to become bogged in thousands, and die as the stock die
in the waterholes after a long drought. Some of the fossils are those of
animals of a gigantic size, much larger than any existing native
animals; the teeth found are twice the size of an ordinary bullock's,
and the jaws carrying them are of enormous size and strength. There are
remains of alligators over thirty feet long, and turtles of much greater
dimensions than any existing in the present day. The vegetation in the
marshes and territory forming North Queensland must have been of a
luxuriant and tropical description in those days to have supported such
large types of marsupials--animals that would require a more abundant
moisture, larger rainfall, and heavier foliage, than are now to be found
on the western slopes of the ranges.

[Page 244]

Deeply interesting is the study of the ancient forms of life that roamed
over the densely-wooded marshes of the interior, when the flora
represented a type found now only along the rich alluvial banks of the
rivers on the east coast.

GEOLOGY OF QUEENSLAND.

The following facts are summarised from the geology of Queensland
written by Mr. Daintree, as the result of his investigations, whilst
prosecuting the search for new goldfields on behalf of the Queensland
Government in the northern portion of their territory, as also from the
official reports of the Geologist of Southern Queensland, and other
sources.

The consideration and history of the different formations will be taken
in their sequence of time, as far as the stratified or sedimentary rocks
are concerned. The igneous rocks will be described under the various
groups of Granitic, Trappean, and Volcanic.

AQUEOUS:

Alluvial (recent).
Alluvial, containing extinct faunas.
Desert sandstone, Cainozoic.
Cretaceous   )Mesozoic
Oolitic      )
Carbonaceous )
Carboniferous}
Devonian     }Palaeozoic
Silurian     }

[Page 245]

METAMORPHIC.

Alluvial:--Fresh-water deposits skirt all the present watercourses, but
the accumulations are insignificant on the eastern watershed, except
near the embouchures of large rivers, such as the Burdekin, Fitzroy,
etc. On the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria, however, and in the
south-western portions of the colony, where the watercourses have
scarcely any fall, and where in seasons of excessive rain the country is
nearly all inundated, fluviatile deposits are very extensive. Though the
dense lavas of the Upper Burdekin (volcanic outbursts of a late Tertiary
epoch) are traversed by valleys of erosion, in some cases 200 feet deep,
and five miles broad, yet very narrow and shallow alluvial deposits
skirt the immediate margin of the watercourses draining such valleys. It
is only near the mouths of the larger rivers that any extent of alluvium
has been deposited, and even these areas are at the present time in
seasons of excessive rain, liable to inundation, showing that little
upheaval of this portion of Australia has taken place since the last
volcanic disturbances terminated.

The meteorological or climatic conditions during this period were nearly
identical with those of the present time, heavy rains during the summer
months causing violent floods, removing seaward the aerial
decompositions and denuded materials from year to year.

[Page 246]

What lapse of time is represented during this period of erosion is a
matter of speculation, but it seems certain that the mollusca of the
present creeks were also the inhabitants of the waters during the whole
period of denudation since the last volcanic eruption.

Prom the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north, to Darling Downs in the
south, however, the fossil remains of extinct mammalia have been found
in breccias and indurated muds, which are the representatives of the
beds of old watercourses through which the present creeks cut their
channels. At Maryvale Creek, in latitude 19 deg. 30 sec. S., good
sections of these old brecciated alluvia occur. The fossils from this
section, as determined by Professor Owen, are "Diprotodon Australis,
Macropus titan, Thylacoles, Phascolomys, Nototherium," crocodile teeth,
etc.

Imbedded in the same matrix occur several genera of mollusca
undistinguishable from those inhabiting Maryvale Creek.

The fact of these older alluvia forming both the bed and the banks of
the present watercourse, goes to prove that Diprotodon and its allies
inhabited the Queensland valleys when they presented little difference
in physical aspect or elevation from that of the present time. The
crocodile (Crocodilus Australis), however, had then a greater range
inland than it has now. A study of these Diprotodon breccias leads to
the conclusion that the remains are chiefly entombed in what were the
most permanent waterholes in seasons of excessive drought, and that the
animals came there in a weak and exhausted state to drink and die, just
as bullocks do under similar conditions at the present time.

[Page 247]

No human bones, flint flakes, or any kind of native weapons have yet
been discovered with the extinct mammalia of Queensland.

CAINOZOIC.

Desert Sandstone.--On the eastern branches of the Upper Flinders and
elsewhere, fine sections are exposed of lava resting on horizontal beds
of coarse grit and conglomerate, which lie in turn unconformably on
olive-coloured and gray shales with interstratified bands and nodules of
argillaceous limestone containing fossils of cretaceous affinities. I
have called this upper conglomerate series "Desert Sandstone," from the
sandy barren character of its disintegrated soil, which makes the term
particularly applicable.

Without doubt, it is the most recent widely spread stratified deposit
developed in Queensland. The denudation of the "Desert Sandstone" since
it became dry land has been excessive, but there still remains a large
tract "in situ," and all the available evidence tends to show that this
"Desert Sandstone" did at one time cover nearly, if not quite, the whole
of Australia. The journals of the two Gregory's description of the new
settlement of Port Darwin, all bear evidence to the continuity of this
so-called "Desert Sandstone" over all the extended areas investigated by
them.

[Page 248]

Augustus Gregory's description of the sandstones of the Victoria River
agrees with those of the "Desert Sandstone" of Queensland, the specimens
from either locality being undistinguishable the one from the other,
while the same barren soil, the same hostile spinifex, the same fatal
poison plant, mark its presence from Perth to Cape York.

In Queensland the upper beds are ferruginous, white and mottled sandy
clays, the lower being coarse alternating grits and conglomerates; the
extreme observed thickness has not exceeded 400 feet. A characteristic
view of the upper "Desert Sandstone" beds is shown in Betts' Creek, on
the Upper Flinders. Whether these are marine, lacustrine, or estuarine
deposits, there is hardly sufficient evidence to show.

What may be the value of this "Desert Sandstone" for free gold, is at
present unsolved; but the very nature of its deposition seems to
preclude the idea that that metal will be found in paying quantities,
except where direct local abrasion of a rich auriferous veinstone has
furnished the supply.

[Page 249]

MESOZOIC.

Cretaceous.--As early as 1866 a suite of fossils was collected by
Messrs. Sutherland and Carson, of Marathon station, Flinders River, and
forwarded for determination to Professor McCoy, in Melbourne. They were
never figured, but his manuscript names are as follows:--

Reptilia.

Ichthyosaurus Australis. "M'Coy."
Plesiosaurus Sutherlandi.
Plesiosaurus macrospondylus. "M'Coy."

Cephalopoda

Ammonites Sutherlandi. "M'Coy."
Ammonites Flindersi. "M'Coy."
Belemnitella diptycha. "M'Coy."
Ancyloceras Flindersi.

Lamellibranchiata.

Inoceramus Carsoni. "M'Coy."
Inoceramus Sutherlandi. "M'Coy" (identical with the English
                                 species I. Cuvieri).


In company with Mr. Sutherland, who supplied McCoy with the
before-mentioned materials, Mr. R. Daintree visited the Upper Flinders,
and carefully collected the fossils from three localities, viz.,
Marathon station, Hughenden station, and Hughenden cattle station.

At Marathon, which is some forty miles further down the Flinders than
Hughenden, there is, close to the homestead, an outcrop of fine-grained
yellow sandstone, which has been quarried for building purposes, and
below this, to the edge of the waterhole supplying the house, is a
series of sandstones and argillaceous limestones, containing numerous
organic remains.

[Page 250]

These were submitted to Mr. Etheridge for examination and correlation,
the result of which appears in the appendix to his work. The Hughenden
cattle station is twenty miles further up the Flinders than the
Hughenden head station. Here hundreds of Belemnites are strewn over the
surface of the two ridges which front the cattle station huts, but they
are rarely found in the soft shales which crop out from under an
escarpment of "Desert Sandstone." The lithological character of these
cretaceous strata is such that decomposition is rapid; the resulting
physical aspect being that of vast plains, which form the principal
feature of Queensland scenery west of the Main Dividing Range; but that
the "Desert Sandstone" has extended over all this country is evidenced
by its existence either in the form of outliers, or as a marked feature
"in situ" in all main watersheds, or by its pebbles of quartz and
conglomerate, which are strewn everywhere over the surface of the
plains. The height of the watershed between the Thomson and Flinders
Rivers is locally not more than 1,400 feet above sea level, and as the
former river has to travel as many miles before reaching the sea, it is
easy to understand why, in a country subject to heavy tropical rains at
one period of the year, followed by a long dry season, the river
channels are ill-defined, and vast tracts of country covered by alluvial
deposits.

[Page 251]

Down the Thomson and its tributaries, these mesozoic rocks are known to
extend, though much obscured by flood drifts. That this portion of the
mesozoic system extends throughout the whole of Western Queensland to
Western Australia is also more than probable, hidden, however, over
large areas by "Desert Sandstone."

Mineral Springs. There is one other subject of practical interest
connected with the great mesozoic western plains, and that is the
occurrence of hot alkaline springs, which suggest the possibility of
obtaining supplies of water on the artesian principle over some portion
at least of this area.

At Gibson's cattle station, Taldora, on the Saxby River, a tributary of
the Flinders, a spring of hot water rises above the surface of the
plain, and its overflow deposits a white encrustation, which on analysis
by Dr. Flight, under the direction of Professor Maskelyne, afforded:--

Water          27.793
Silica          0.600
Chlorine        3.369
Sodium          2.183
Carbonic Acid  33.735
Soda           31.690
               ------
               99.370

Apart, therefore, from the 5.552 per cent, of chloride of sodium, the
deposit consists of sequi carbonate of soda or native "Trona," and as
such is used by the settlers for culinary purposes, etc.

[Page 252]

PALAEOZOIC.

"Carboniferous."--Whilst the affinities of the southern coalfield of
Queensland are mesozoic, a northern field, of even larger extent, has a
distinct fauna more resembling the Palaeozoic Carboniferous areas of
Europe.

The Dawson, Comet, Mackenzie, Isaacs, and Bowen Rivers drain this
carboniferous area; and numerous outcrops of coal have been observed on
these streams. No commercial use, however, has yet been made of any of
these deposits, as the measures generally are too far inland to be made
available until the railway system of the country is extended in that
direction.

"Devonian."--From the southern boundary of Queensland up to latitude 18
deg. S., a series of slates, sandstones, coral limestones, and
conglomerates extend to a distance 200 miles inland; these are sometimes
overlain by coal measures, sometimes by volcanic rocks, and consequently
do not crop out on the surface over such districts. North of latitude 18
deg. S., however, over the Cape York Peninsula, this series (so far as
we have any evidence), is absent, granites and porphyries capped by
"Desert Sandstone" forming the ranges on the eastern, and their abraded
ingredients the sandy ti-tree flats, those on the western side of that
inhospitable tract of country, a never-ending flat of poor
desert-looking sandy ti-tree country, stretching away to the shores of
the Gulf of Carpentaria.

[Page 253]

In the limestone bands, which form the lower portion of the series,
corals are very numerous; in fact, the limestones, where little
alteration has taken place, are a mass of aggregated corals; and as this
class of rock has resisted aerial destruction better than the associated
slates and sandstones, the barriers thus formed mark the trend of the
rock system to which they belong, in a very picturesque and decided
manner; their bold, massive, and varied outline chiselled into the most
delicate fretwork by Nature's hand, is relieved by a wealth of
richly-tinted foliage, unknown in the surrounding bush; and the eye
jaded with the monotony of the eternal gum tree turns with delight to
the changing tints and varied scenery presented by these barrier-like
records of the past. This class of country is very much in evidence at
Chillagoe. On the track from the Broken River to the Gilbert diggings,
Devonian rocks several thousand feet thick may be observed, as they are
continuous in dip, without being repeated, for at least five miles
across the strike, with an average inclination of 60 deg.

Although on the Broken River and its tributaries a breadth of thirty
miles with a length of sixty miles, is occupied by a persistent outcrop
of Devonian strata, gold has only been discovered in remunerative
quantities in a small gully, where a trapdyke has penetrated the
Palaeozoic rocks of the district.

[Page 254]

The following districts, however, where Devonian rocks prevail, have
been the centres of gold mining enterprise:--Lucky Valley, Talgai,
Gympie, Calliope, Boyne, Morinish, Rosewood, Mount Wyatt, Broken River,
portion of Gilbert.

In every case here cited, the country is traversed by trap rocks of a
peculiar character, either diorite, diabase, or porphyrite; and
tufaceous representatives of these are also found interstratified in the
upper portion of the same formation, and occasionally throughout the
other beds.

At Gympie, the auriferous area is confined to veins traversing a
crystaline diorite, or within a certain limit of its boundary, marked by
the presence of fossiliferous diabase tufas.

Whatever may have been the solvent and precipitant of the nobler metals
in the auriferous veinstones associated with trap intrusions, all other
but hydrothermal action may safely be eliminated, the very nature of the
reefs, composed as they are of alternating layers of a promiscuous
mixture of quartz, calcspar, pyrites, etc., affording unmistakable
evidence on this point. The gold also contained in the trap dykes
themselves is always accompanied by pyrites, both (according to
Daintree), hydrothermal products separating out during the cooling down
of the trap intrusions.

[Page 255]

Auriferous lodes, occurring in areas where hydrothermal action has
attended trap disturbances of a special character in Queensland, are
generally thin--to be estimated by inches rather than feet; but taken as
a whole they are far richer in gold than those enclosed by sedimentary
rocks.

GRANITIC.

Outcrops of granite extend along the eastern coast of Queensland from
Broad Sound to Cape York, and inland as far as the heads of streams
running direct from the inner coast range to the sea.

Very little rock of this character is met with west and south of the
Dividing Range which separates rivers flowing to the eastern and
northern coast, and those trending south to the Murray or Cooper's
Creek.

The granites of Queensland vary very much in their crystalline texture,
passing from true granites into porphyry and quartz porphyry.

TRAPPEAN.

Much stress has been laid on the value of certain intrusive trap rocks
as specially influencing the production of auriferous veinstones in
Queensland.

The petrology of these may be divided into four type classes:--

1. Pyritous porphyrites and porphyries. 2. Pyritous diroites and diabases.
3. Chrome iron serpentines. 4. Pyritous felsites.

[Page 256]

VOLCANIC.

Whilst the older trappean rocks have apparently had so much influence on
the disturbance and fracture of the sedimentary strata older than the
Carboniferous, and by a secondary process have evidently been centres of
mineralising action, the volcanic seem to have played the most important
part in determining the elevation and present physical outline of
north-eastern Queensland. The main outbursts of lava have taken place
along the Dividing Range which separates the eastern and western waters,
and therefore on the line of the highest elevation of the country. The
more northern volcanic areas, are probably contemporaneous with the
upper volcanic series of Victorian geologists, so extensively developed
in the western districts of that colony. These have issued from
well-defined craters still in existence, and are probably of Pliocene
Tertiary age.

The southern areas, viz., Peak and Darling Downs, etc., are older,
agreeing with the lower volcanic of Victoria, which have been ejected
through fissures, and have in no case a very extensive flow beyond the
lines of fracture through which they issued. These may be referred to
the Miocene Tertiary epoch. The rock masses forming both the upper and
lower volcanic are basic in character, and may be all termed or grouped
under the general term "dolorites."

The volcanic soils of Queensland are those best adapted for the grazier
and agriculturist.

[Page 257]

To epitomise:--With the exception of the McKinlay Ranges, a line drawn
parallel to the eastern coast, at a distance of 250 miles, would include
all the the palaeozoic, metamorphic, granitic, trappean, and volcanic
rocks represented in the colony, both coal groups lying within the same
area.

The mesozoic and cainozoic systems occupy the surface area to the
westward. The volcanic rocks follow the line of greatest elevation on
the main watershed at altitudes from 1,500 to 2,000 feet above sea
level. The chief granitic mass extends from Broad Sound to Cape York,
with an occasional capping of "Desert Sandstone." Westward from the
Dividing Range, "Desert Sandstone" and the cretaceous and oolitic groups
alternate one with the other to the extreme limit of the colony.

AREA OF FORMATIONS.

Estimating the entire extent of the colony at 600,000 square miles, a
rough approximation to the areas occupied by the different geological
formations is as follows:--

                                             Square Miles.

Valueless land, "Desert Sandstone"              150,000

Scrubby and thickly timbered inferior pastoral,  24,000
but valuable as containing coal, iron ore, &c,
(Carbonaceous, Mesozoic and Palaeozoic)

Fair pastoral, and valuable for its              60,000
associated minerals and metals
(Devonian, Silurian, Metamorphic)

[Page 258]

Fair pastoral (Granitic)                        114,000

Good pastoral                                   200,000
(creotaceous and Oolitic)

First-class pastoral and agricultural            52,000
(Alluvial, Volcanic Trappean)
                                                -------
                                                600,000

Looking at the matter from an economical point of view, we find that
one-fourth of the Colony of Queensland is valueless, whereas
three-fourths furnish good pastoral land. Of this latter 60,000 square
miles contain extensive and very valuable mines of gold, with numerous
outcrops of copper and lead ores, to which may be added rich deposits of
tin ore; 24,000 square miles are capable of producing illimitable
supplies of coal and iron; 52,000 square miles are as far as soil is
concerned, best adapted for the agriculturist and squatter. In
conclusion, it may be asserted that there is here a wealth of material
resource which compares favourably with that of any other Australian
colony.

THE GREAT BARRIER REEF.

North Queensland owes one of its chief claims to distinction to its
numerous ports and harbours. In fact, the whole coast from Lady Elliott
Island northwards to Cape York is one large harbour; protected as it is
from the ocean swell by the Great Barrier Reef, a natural breakwater,
extending for nearly a thousand miles, with a depth from ten to twenty
fathoms, and a distance from the main land which varies from twenty to
fifty miles.

[Page 259]

The sea outside is profoundly deep, and a few islets are found on the
line of reef, also a few ship canals through the Barrier Reef. "The
Great Barrier Reef of Australia; its products and potentialities," by W.
Saville Kent, F.L.S., is a splendid work, and beautifully illustrated.
This work shows the reef to be full of marine wonders and is intensely
interesting; its various forms of life and marine vegetation would fill
volumes. The Great Barrier Coral Reef of Australia, the marvellous
extent of which was first made known by Captain Cook, is one of the
wonders of the universe. Its linear measurement is no less than 1,250
miles, extending from 9 deg. of south latitude to Lady Elliott's
Island, the most southern true coral islet in the chain or system. Its
whole area lies within the territorial jurisdiction of Queensland, and
the greater portion in North Queensland of which it forms one of the
most valuable possessions. Raw material to the value of over 100,000
annually is obtained from the reefs and waters for exportation. The
distance from the main land to the outer edge or boundary of this
gigantic reef varies from ten or twelve miles to thirty. It is mostly
formed of a chain of detached reefs and coral islets, many submerged or
partially exposed at low water, with several openings, a few of which
offer secure passage for large vessels.

[Page 260]



CHAPTER XIII. - SOME LITERARY REMAINS.


The late Mr. Palmer had some skill as a versifier, although the
exigencies of his arduous life in the pioneering days would not permit
of his adding the extra finish to the lines which, more often than not,
were as he himself phrased it, "strung together as the result of
sleepless hours passed during the nights while camping out on a large
cattle run in the west." A few of his efforts are here preserved:--


THE GIDYA TREE.
(Acacia Homoeophylla.)

Where roll the great plains to the west,
Near a homestead pleasant to see,
With far-stretching limbs and spreading crest,
Grows a grand old acacia tree.
Nor winter winds, nor sun's fierce heat
Can change its staunch solidity,
For many a century's storms have beat
On this great, grey, gidya tree.

At early morn, their joyous lay,
The butcher-birds sing in melody,
And merrily pass the hours away,
All under the gidya tree.
The grey doves in its shade rejoice.
From eyes of kites they're free,
And call their loves in plaintive voice,
From under the gidya tree.

[Page 261]

In scarlet bloom, the mistletoe swings,
From its branches droopingly;
And all around its odour flings,
Right under the gidya tree.
The milk-plant twines its length along,
As if 'twould hidden be;
Creeping its way 'mong the leaves so strong,
Of this ancient gidya tree.

The panting cattle gladly come.
And sheltered fain would be,
From burning heat of noonday sun,
Camped under the gidya tree.
Like the shade from a great rock cast
O'er the land so soothing lay;
All Nature seeks some rest at last,
Far under the gidya tree.

When life is o'er and troubles past,
How sweet that rest will be,
For weary ones who come at last,
Safe under the gidya tree.
"Nunc dimittis," my work is done,
And soon from care set free;
That peace I wish will soon be won,
Deep under the gidya tree.


MY OLD STOCK HORSE.
(Norman.)

"Norman," a large bay horse, bred on Conobie about 1870, broken in three
or four years after, and worked on till twenty-four or twenty-five years
old as a stock horse, and then nearly as good and safe to ride as ever.
A surer, better stock horse was never ridden, and always ridden by the
writer.

I have a friend--I've proved him so
By many a task and token;
I've ridden him long and found him true,
Since first that he was broken.

[Page 262]

For twenty years we both have been
In storm and sunny weather,
And many a thousand miles we've seen,
Just he and I together.

From Cooktown's breezy seaborn site,
By Palmer's golden river;
Where Mitchell's waters clear and bright.
Roll on their course for ever.

Across the Lynd and Gilbert's sands,
And many a rocky river;
Through trackless desert, forest lands,
We've journeyed oft together.

Then on the great grey plains so vast,
Where the sun's rays dance and quiver,
Through scorching heat and south-east blast,
We've toiled on Flinders River.

Through tangled scrubs and broken ground,
We have often had to scramble;
To wheel the cunning brumbie's round,
From where they love to ramble.

Old Norman ne'er was known to fail,
Or in the camp to falter.
And just as sound to-day and hale,
As when he first wore halter.

Good horse, you well have earned your rest,
Your mustering days are over;
For all your time you'll have the best,
And pass your life in clover.

The Indian's simple faith is plain.
That in the land of shadows,
He'll have his faithful dog again
To hunt in misty meadows.

[Page 263]

And should a steed a soul attain,
This surely then will follow
I'll meet that grand old horse again.
And hail him "Good old fellow!"

--Conobie, October 8th, 1894.


THE WATCHER.

The night wind keen and chill is creeping
Across the plains with moaning sound;
A rider there his watch is keeping,
Where cattle camp in peace around.

The Southern Cross shines clear and bright,
And marks the hour that speeds;
While Nature's sounds, borne on the night,
Accustomed to, he little heeds.

The hooting of the mopoke owl
Floats on the midnight air;
The prowling dingoe's dismal howl
Is chorused wide and far.

The curlew's cry, so wild and shrill.
Pierces the air with startling sound;
While o'er the waters calm and still,
The wild fowl chase each other round.

He cares not for the keen wind cold.
Nor for the hour that's past;
For thoughts of other days still hold
His memory to the last.

He minds him of his youth time ever.
And the farm where he was born;
The meadows green, and the flowing river,
And the fields of tasselled corn.

The sweet perfume of the apple's bloom.
The sight of the mountain's blue.
The drooping willows and yellow broom.
And waving wheatfields too.

[Page 264]

He sees the cows from the pasture land.
As down the lane they come.
And sister Nell, with pail in hand.
To wait their coming home.

He sees again his father ploughing.
In the old-fashioned sturdy way,
He hears again the cock's shrill crowing.
That waked him oft at break of day,

His memory takes him back apace,
To early manhood's prime,
When a gentle voice and pleasant face
Impressed him for all time.

For loving lass and wandering lad.
Since ever the world began,
Though parted in grief, the love they had.
Will come to each again.

His wayward life he ponders on
With anguish deep and keen
And as the past he looks upon.
Sadly thinks it might have been.

But vain regrets will help him not.
Nor vanished hopes renew;
He only knows his present lot
Has duties stern to do.

He cares not now whate'er befalls,
His faith he still will keep;
The next on watch in turn he calls,
And folds himself in sleep.

--Conobie, June 21st, 1894.



THE END




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