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SKETCH of the Discoveries made in the Interior of
NEW SOUTH WALES in 1802
SYDNEY: WILLIAM APPLEGATE GULLICK, GOVERNMENT PRINTER.
[An Attempt in 1802 to Cross the Blue Mountains
by The Governor's Aide-de-Camp.]
THE Governor having approved of the proposition I had made to him of going to explore the interior of the country and of trying to penetrate as far into the Blue Mountains as I should find it practicable, I went, with a party of four men, to assure myself of what would be the best route, and to take observations as to the sites most suitable for the formation of my first depôts, at which I could establish communication with the colony, in case I should find it possible to advance into the country.*
[* On this first journey I went as far as about 45 miles, and I chose a site called Nattai at which to establish my depôt.]
Having completed my observations in a few days, I went back to Sydney, whence, after receiving the last orders from the Governor, I started for Parramatta. The necessary provisions had been prepared at that place, and they were placed in a waggon drawn by two bullocks.
From Parramatta I went to Prospect Hill with my party, composed of four soldiers, belonging to the New South Wales Corps, and five convicts. I found at that rendezvous one of the natives of the Cow Pastures, named Gogy,** whom I had engaged to accompany me.
[** This aboriginal had taken a fancy to me when on my first journey, and I was interested in preserving his confidence by my good treatment, thinking he would be useful to me when I advanced further inland.]
On the 6th November, 1802, I crossed the river Nepean, at a ford called Binhény by the natives. The banks of this river, although being too high to allow my team to cross over with the waggon, were quite practicable for men on foot, its depth being then about 2 ft. on the eastern bank, diminishing gradually to 3 or 4 in. on the opposite bank.***
[*** The bottom of this river is composed of very fine sand which retains the imprint and the form of the undulations of the water. It was thought, on the faith of groundless reports emanating from several persons, that the crossing of this river was very dangerous on account of the quick-sand with which they pretended its bed was formed; but I never experienced any danger whilst crossing it beyond a sinking under my feet of 3 or 4 in.]
I was therefore obliged to have my bullocks unyoked and to have the provisions, as well as the waggon itself, carried by my men on to the other bank, whence, everything having been replaced in its proper order, I directed my route towards the south-west. I continued to walk in that direction, and, at 8 o'clock, I arrived near a swamp, which the natives called Baraggel, where I decided to spend the night, feeling rather indisposed. I explored the borders of this swamp, and I found several rare shells belonging to a species I had never seen before. I had walked 4 miles on a flat and open country.
The thermometer, at 6 a.m., marked—50° 30': at noon, 79° 0'; at sunset, 62° 0'; wind, S.E.; sky, cloudy.
On the 7th November, I went towards another swamp, called Manhangle by the natives,* S. 48° W., and a few miles distant from the first.
[* In the swamps of Manhangle, Carabeely, and others, enormous eels, fishes, and various species of shells are found, which are sometimes used by the natives as food. They usually feed upon opossums and squirrels, which are abundant in that country, and also upon kangaroo-rat and kangaroo, but they can only catch this last one with the greatest trouble, and they are obliged to unite in great numbers to hunt it.]
When passing Carabeely,** we saw a kangaroo which we killed, and after half-an-hour's walk we entered a valley where there was a herd of wild cattle. I counted 162 of them peaceably pasturing; they only perceived my party when it was at a short distance from them.
[** When the natives assemble together to hunt the kangaroo, they form a circle which contains an area of 1 or 2 miles, according to the number of natives assembled. They usually stand about 30 paces apart, armed with spears and tomahawks. When the circle is formed, each one of them holding a handful of lighted hark, they at a given signal set fire to the grass and bush in front of them. In proportion as the fire progresses they advance forward with their spear in readiness, narrowing the circle and making as much noise as possible, with deafening shouts, until, through the fire closing in more and more, they are so close as to touch one another. The kangaroos, which are thus shut into that circle, burn their feet in jumping on every side to get away, and are compelled to retire within the circle until the fire attacks them. They then try to escape in various directions, and the natives frightening them with their shouts throw their spears at the one passing nearest to them. By this means not one can escape. They roast the product of their chase, without skinning nor even gutting the animals, and then divide it among themselves, after having cut each animal into pieces.]
The cattle advanced several times, as if they were going to attack us, and I had the greatest difficulty in making them leave the place and allow my party to pass. I had even to send my men to pursue them, uttering loud shouts.
This valley is intersected by many small ditches of about 30 ft. in length and 20 ft. in width. These ditches are filled during the winter with a quantity of water, which is sufficient for the needs of the cattle during part of the summer, and one can see a large number of well beaten tracks which the cattle have made for themselves in all directions, on the heights and in the plain, to reach the hills, which seem to be their place of rendezvous during flood time. I observed with interest near the ditches, a kind of esplanade,*** of about 150 ft. in circumference, entirely denuded of herbage and perfectly beaten down and levelled. I passed through the esplanade to go to the top of one of the hills, which form a barrier across the valley, and which I was obliged to ascend with my team to continue my journey. When I had succeeded in going over that ridge, I saw a second herd of about 130 cattle, but they did not obstruct my passage in any way.
[*** I think this esplanade must have been the battle-field of the bulls, and what confirms me in that opinion is that I saw a bull of a reddish colour, with white spots, lying dead in the ditch, gored in several places. The marks of the fight were evidenced by the trees around being denuded of their bark, and by the traces remaining near the ditch where the bull had sunk in the mud. I caused the horns of that bull to be taken away, and I have kept them.]
At a short distance from that place I made my small troop halt, and went alone to the top of a hill to reconnoitre the surrounding country. After walking some 300 paces, on the summit I saw another herd, which I judged was mainly composed of cows with their calves. I was able to count 221 of them, but from the spot where I was it was impossible for me to see them all, and I could only surmise from the lowings, which I heard from various distances, that the number of these cattle must have been very considerable. I still heard the lowings after I had gone down to rejoin my party, and for more than an hour whilst continuing my journey.
At eleven in the morning I found myself near a ditch tilled with water. I halted there, and gave orders to skin the kangaroo, which was prepared for our dinner. The heat being excessive, I allowed my men to rest until 4 o'clock. After having walked for a little while, I perceived two natives seated under a bush, one of whom seemed as if he were anxious to run away, while the other one remained seated, and appeared to be trying to persuade the former to stay.
Gogy, the native I had in my service, started running, and went and sat with them, where he remained until we arrived. He came and told me that one of these natives was a mountaineer called Bungin, and the other knew the white men, and was called Wooglemai.* I went to the mountaineer to examine a mantle with which he was covered. This mantle was made of skins of various animals sewed together. It was a very great curiosity, and as I was desirous of obtaining it, I proposed to him to exchange it for a new axe, but he would not part with it, and told me that the nights were very cold and his mantle was his only covering. I was compelled to abandon my proposal, and in order to attach to me this mountaineer, who would be very useful to me in the country I was in, I had the head of the kangaroo given to him to appease his hunger, after which he came and proposed, as a token of friendship, to exchange his old axe for the new one I had offered him for his mantle. I filled him with joy by complying with his request.
[* Wooglemai, in the natives language, signifies "one-eyed". This native knew Gogy, as he used to go from time to time to Parramatta and Prospect Hill. The mountaineer called Bungin was an inhabitant of the South, and had left the Canambaigle tribe because they wanted to kill him. He was the brother of a famous chief who had accidentally killed himself in falling from a tree. That chief was called Goonboole. He inhabited the mountains near Jervis Bay, and was the terror of the neighbourhood.]
I resumed my journey at half past five o'clock, and arrived with my party and baggage on the border of a small creek, where I decided to stay for the night.
Nearly the whole of the country from Binhény to Carabeely being open towards the south, presents perspectives of surprising beauty. The hills in the same direction, rising insensibly the one above the other, confounding themselves with the first ranges of mountains, offer to the sight a variety of scenes of the most picturesque aspect. But I have seen only a few spots where the soil could be adapted for cultivation, and they were liable to be inundated by the overflowing of the rivers.
The place where I decided to spend the night was on the territory of the mountaineer Bungin. He gave a proof of his friendship and gratefulness for my good treatment by building** a hut for me, and I was very thankful for his kind attention.
[** The natives do not allow any stranger to inhabit the territories they have appropriated to themselves. They themselves build huts for the strangers they wish to receive as friends.]
I was then at about 2 miles from a chain of mountains, the direction of which is westerly, inclining towards the south; southerly there is a range of hills stretching in various directions.
My team precluding me from ascending the heights, I was obliged on that day to go round them in the following directions:—S. 17° 0', 2 miles; S. 70° 0', 1½ mile; S. 20° 0', 5 miles; S. 70° 0', 5 miles: in all, 13 miles.
The thermometer marked: In the morning, 58° 0'; at noon, 82° 0'; in the evening, 74° 0'; very hot northerly wind.
On the 8th November I crossed the creek, the banks of which are nearly perpendicular; but the bullocks succeeded in making a wide passage, quite practicable for men on foot, but too steep for a carriage to pass, and I was obliged to have the waggon carried by hand to the other side. I walked until noon, when I stopped near another creek in order to rest ourselves until 4 o'clock. A soup made of boiled rice, with pickled pork, composed our repast, and I saw that the two natives had their share; but whilst one of the newly arrived mountaineers would not partake of this food, the other ate it with avidity. The former having caught a lizard, roasted it, and devoured it.*** I tasted some of it, and preferred it to the opossum.
[*** Besides lizards and other animals, grubs are eaten by the natives, and it is more particularly those which are found in the trunks of trees they look for. For this purpose they always carry with them a switch about 12 inches long and of the thickness of a fowl's feather, which they stick into their hair above the ear. One of the extremities of this stick is provided with a hook. When they discover on the trunk of a tree the mark of the hole made by some of these grubs, they make the hole larger with their axe, and if they are certain that the grub is there they dip their switch into the hole, and, by means of the hook, draw it out, and eat it greedily. It is a delicacy of which they never get tired.]
The ground travelled over during the morning consisted of heights quite easy of access from the creek, whence I had started.
I noticed that the trees are generally what is called blue-gum, ironbark, stringybark, and yellow-gum. The soil is mostly bad, and after having passed the heights at a distance of about 2 miles from the larger creek, a vast plain is found, which is full of kangaroos. The soil there is formed of white clay, covered with iron ore, and is extremely bad.
I resumed my journey at 4, and at 6 o'clock crossed another creek. After having travelled over a plain, I perceived fires in several places, and Bungin told me that it was a chief called Canambaigle with his tribe, who were hunting, and had on that very day set the country on fire. He showed me the imprints of various feet, both of males and females,* scattered here and there.
[* The natives minutely examine the footprints on the ground, and know by their number and differences what natives have passed there.]
I continued advancing through a country full of rocks and thickly bushed for about a mile, and, having reached a valley, I resolved to camp there for the night, my troop and my team being very tired.
As I remembered having stopped there on the occasion of my first journey, I looked for the huts I had then built, and found them in the same state in which I had left them.
I was then at about 4 miles from Nattai, which was the place where I had decided to establish my depôt. The distances we travelled and the directions followed from the large creek to the one where I stopped at noon are—S. 14° 0', 1¾ mile; S. 62° 30' E., 1½ mile; S. 62° 30' E., 1 mile; S. 66° 0', 3½ miles; S. 36° 0', 3½ miles; S. 61° 0', 1¾ mile From 4 o'clock to 7 at night, 13 miles. S. 46° 0', 2 miles; N. 61° 0, 4½ miles. In all, 19½ miles. The thermometer marked—In the morning, 66° 30'; at noon, 84° 30'; in the evening, 71° 0'. South-east wind, fine weather, but very warm.
On the 9th November, at 6 in the morning, when I was preparing to start, Bungin, one of the mountaineer natives, told me that he heard the voice of a native at some distance from us, and, after having spoken to Gogy, they went together towards the spot whence the sound of the voice had appeared to come. I heard them repeat, several times, the word coo-ee, shouting with all their strength; and a quarter of an hour after I had lost sight of them they came back, bringing two other mountaineers with them. One was called Bulgin and the other Wallarra. The latter had never seen a white man, but the former had seen several whilst kangaroo hunting.
Wallarra was seized with a great fright when I stepped forward to shake hands with him, and I was obliged to withdraw and leave him with the other natives, who tried to reassure hint and give him confidence, telling him that I did not do them any harm, that I had come to gather some pebbles and plants, and that I had the animals skinned to preserve their fur.**
[** I had some boiled rice and sugar given to them. Bulgin ate it with greediness, but Wallarra ate only the sugar, which I had to put on top. It would be difficult to describe his fright. He was standing with crossed arms and his eyes riveted on the ground. I had a second handful of sugar given to him, which he ate; but when I again went near him, his whole frame began to tremble.]
The forenoon was already far advanced. I gave orders to yolk the bullocks*** to the waggon, and to place in it my utensils for my journey to Nattai, which I reached at 11 a.m., after having gone over a very difficult country, all covered with stones and bush, the soil of which is very arid. The trees are absolutely identical to those I have mentioned above.
[*** The sight of the bullocks being yolked to the waggon was a new cause of fright to the new mountaineer, and the other natives had a great deal of trouble in making him come back. When the waggon was put in motion they followed all its movements, making all sorts of grimaces, and speaking with a great velocity expressive of their astonishment. I understood that they were beginning to tame him, because Bulgin came to tell me they were going to fetch their wives and two little children they had left in the forest, and that they would come to join me at Nattai as soon as they had found them.]
I told some of my people to cut some trees to make a hut large enough for the whole of my party, and to procure a good supply of water, as the nearest creek was almost 1 mile from us. Whilst my orders were being carried out, and the other portion of my people were preparing our dinner, I went to explore the neighbourhood, and there gathered various plants.
After dinner I took two men with me and went down the creek, which I followed until dusk, gathering flowers and fragments of a rather peculiar sandstone. I returned to the depôt at sunset, and about the same time Bulgin (one of the mountaineer newcomers), with Bungin, arrived with their wives and two children; but Wallarra,* the other mountaineer, was not with them.
[* It was apparent that Wallarra's fright was not over yet.]
Gogy told me that they had brought portions of a monkey (in the native language "colo"),** but they had cut it in pieces, and the head, which I should have liked to secure, had disappeared. I could only get two feet through an exchange which Gogy made for two spears and one tomahawk. I sent these two feet to the Governor in a bottle of spirits.
[** Gogy told me that this portion of the colo (or monkey) and several opossums had been their share in the chase with Canambaigle, at which they were present on the day when that part of the country which I referred to above had been burnt. The newly arrived natives lighted a fire on the left-hand side of the depôt. Gogy associated with them, but his wife, who, with her child, was at some distance from that spot, did not leave the place where she was. From there she watched with great interest what was taking place between the natives and her husband on the side opposite. The natives of this country are inclined towards superstition and believe in the existence of an evil spirit.]
Gogy had built for me a very large hut, made with the bark of the trees, and had erected it just opposite the hut of my people. I had some fire lighted in it and carried my effects there. After having regulated the night service and placed the sentry at his post, I prepared to spend the night in my hut. My men and the natives retired to their respective quarters.
The course I had traversed this day was: N. 70° 5' W. 4 miles. The thermometer marked: In the morning, 64° 30'; at noon, 84° 0'; in the evening, 76° 0'. Easterly wind until 11 a.m.; south-westerly, from 11 a.m. to the evening; sky cloudy.
On the 10th November, I sent the waggon to fetch some provisions. It was accompanied by three men, guided by the native Wooglemai. I had some flour put in three haversacks with a provision of rice, and I left with my troop, followed by the native Gogy.
I steered my course towards the west, walking along a creek which separates a chain of mountains and runs into a river.
I could not proceed very far in that direction without descending a precipice, and I continued following the creek, passing over big rocks fallen from the neighbouring mountains into the ravine.
This ravine was covered with dry and slippery tree-leaves, which made its passage, so full of obstacles, very dangerous, and we were exposed to falling in deep holes full of water.
I noticed at the end of this creek a slate-mine. I found there some fragments with the impressions of ferns and tree-leaves. This slate is very soft, and breaks into pieces under the slightest pressure. I found also there a very rich iron-mine.
When I arrived at the river,*** which had been the terminus of my discoveries on the occasion of my first journey, I crossed it with my men at a waterfall, and I went towards the north, keeping on the western bank of that river. I travelled (always following the same direction) over a flat and very easy country till 6 o'clock in the evening.
[*** This is the Nattai River, marked M on Barrallier's chart.—ED.]
This river is teeming with fish of various species, and especially with black bream, weighing from 4 lb. to 6 lb. Univalve and bivalve shells are also found there. Several kinds of bushes grow on its banks, and more particularly a tea-tree of middle height, with flowers of a very pale pink colour.
Generally speaking, the plants there are of the same kind as those growing near Sydney. The foot of the mountains is within a gunshot of either side of the river, and, as far as I could judge, they are more than half a mile in height, and one could only reach the summit of a very small number of them.
These mountains are generally accessible up to a certain height, but at an altitude of a quarter of a mile they are perpendicular, and their summit forms a kind of leaden wall. More generally they overhang in the form of vaults, in the interior of which one sees enormous rocks overhanging, and quite ready to fall down at the slightest move, thus taking away from anyone's mind the idea of seeking there for a shelter against the rain, for fear of being crushed down by their downfall.
Up to the part where these mountains are accessible they are covered with timber, and this is about at half their height. But beyond that distance the ground is without consistency—it is like a quicksand, in which one sinks. The large blocks of stones fallen there detach themselves at the slightest effort, and in rolling down uproot the brushes which they meet, and which have no firm root in that kind of soil.
The base of these mountains is a composite of sandstone of various colours, charged with ferruginous parts. The soil appears good enough in such parts as are liable to inundation, but above that height the soil is composed of whitish clay, very arid, and is almost entirely covered with iron-ore up to where the soil loses its consistency.
The trees are generally blue-gum, stringybark, &c.
At about 4 p.m. I perceived on a hill three kangaroos, which did not appear to be frightened; but they fled when I sent one of my men to shoot them.*
[* I noticed that the red coats of my soldiers put the kangaroos to flight as soon as they perceived them, and we could only shoot one when I had made them take off their coats.]
At 6 p.m. I arrived in a valley, where I found two ponds.** This spot seemed to me convenient to rest at during the night. I made Gogy cut a hut for me, and I had it placed on the slope of a hill, whence I could enjoy a view of the ponds and of the noble aspect of the mountains surrounding me on the east and west.***
[** Bulgin, the mountaineer, told me that he had stopped several days in this place, and that he had caught very large eels in the ponds. Gogy having discovered a parrot's nest in the trunk of a blue-gum, cut steps in the tree with his axe; but when he reached the nest he found only some eggs, which he offered to me. My refusal of them he regarded as an insult.]
[*** Half an hour before dusk I heard a noise which I mistook for the lowing of several oxen, but I was undeceived in learning it was the croak of frogs of a tremendous size which were in the pond.]
The soil around this spot is more and more inferior. The trees are the same as those mentioned before, with the addition of a few mahogany.
The aspect of the mountains does not offer any accessible point; their summits are nearly all full of cavities. The trees growing there appear, at the distance from where I was, as if they were small brushes 2 or 3 ft. in height.
My route to-day, after leaving the source of the creek leading to the river, was—S. 75° 0', 2½ miles; whilst following the same direction on the bank of the creek, S. 75° 0', 7 miles; westerly, N. 2¼ miles; on the same bank, N. 56° E. 3 miles; in all, 14¾ miles.
On the 11th November, I continued my journey in order to find a passage between the mountains situated towards the west, and for 3 miles of very trying walk I went over a large number of hills sloping from the top of the mountains down to a river which flows north-easterly in the middle of an extended plain, and into which the first river runs.
The mountains on the left side of the river trend south-westwardly, and the width of the plain, from the foot of the mountains on the opposite range, is 2½ miles. This plain widens in proportion as one advances south-westwardly, the two ranges inclining, the one towards the south, the other towards the west. The bed of this new river is considerably wider than that of the Hawkesbury River. During the summer it is partly dry; but it has the disadvantage of not being navigable on account of a number of waterfalls, which completely bar its bed. It appears that, in the winter, the waters rise 10 or 12 feet above the waterfalls, and carry away pieces of granite of various colours and other stones. The water is teeming with different species of fishes and shells, which are of the same kind as those in the first river.*
[* I noticed that only a small portion of this plain is subject to floods, and that the water runs into a swamp of about 2 miles in length which is partly dry in the summer. It is easy to detect all the parts subject to inundation by the fragments of granite of all sorts which the currents have carried down from the mountains to the inundated grounds.]
At one o'clock in the afternoon, I halted for dinner, and I caused the grass to be burnt so as to have an easier walk. The thick fog of the morning had entirely covered the mountains. It disappeared in the afternoon, and we had fine weather until 3 o'clock, when we heard thundering in the distance which made me think that the storm was not far from us. However, I continued my journey until arriving at a small creek where I stopped to pass the night.
My men had all the time necessary to prepare huts to shelter us before the storm reached us. The thunder was falling with terrible detonations which were echoed all round. Rain continued till half-past 6 in the evening, and the wind having changed to the east the fog soon attached itself to the tops of the mountains and before dusk they were covered from base to summit.**
[** I observed several trees slightly touched by lightning, others completely felled or torn. The branches were broken in thousands of small bits and spread all around to as great a distance as 15 paces from these trees.]
The mountains are entirely composed of granite and appear inaccessible. The plain seems to be very fertile.***
[*** The soil of this plain is of a surprising fertility, light and dark in colour, and very deep. There, a kind of grass with a yellow flower principally grows, the stem of which attains a height of 5 feet. It is generally acknowledged that this grass grows only on good land. The only trees found there are the apple-trees. They are spread at a large distance from one another, there being stretches of land of 2 or 3 acres on which not one is seen. There are a great quantity of kangaroos of different kinds in this plain which are not very shy. I think it would be suitable for the establishment of about 300 men who would devote themselves to the culture of the land. Such wild animals as the warring, kangaroo, opossum, wombat, &c., would afford to these colonists a great variety of food, without mentioning all the varieties of fish swarming in the rivers. But it would be necessary to open a road of communication from Nattai to the second river, so that waggons could reach there without danger. This presents some difficulties, which, however, are not insurmountable.]
My route was to-day: N 11° 0', 1½ mile; N. 32° 0', 1¾ mile; S. 37° 0', 4 miles; S. 35° 0', 2½ miles; S. 84° 0' W. 3 miles; in all, 12½ miles.
The thermometer showed: In the morning, 65° 0'; at noon, 74° 0'; in the evening, 72° 0'; southerly wind until 6·30 p.m.; easterly into the night.
On the 12th November, a thick fog with rainfall continued till 10 a.m. This very disagreeable weather having cleared up a little, I resumed my journey, passing through another chain of isolated mountains which may be nearly 4 miles in length, and sighting on the right the great range, the height of which is more and more considerable. All the soil of the ground I went over up to 1 o'clock in the afternoon appeared to be very rich. The hills are covered with kangaroos which resemble a flock of goats grazing peaceably, and offer to the eye a pleasing pastoral picture. I sowed 4 pumpkin seeds, which I happened to have on me, at the foot of the mountain, in a place denuded of bush, and also the stone of an apricot. I afterwards continued my journey, following the great range until I reached the bank of a creek, where I found a fire, and I could distinguish on the ground the footprints of a native and that of a child, who had but just left the place.*
[* I found a spear made of reed, which the little one had apparently left there, and with which the children are trained in the use of this weapon. There was some gum at one of its extremities in order to make that part heavier.]
My attention was attracted by a mountain, which, although very high, appeared to me rather easy of access. I resolved to ascend it with my men, convinced that from its summit I would be able to make a survey of the country around, which would enable me to form a judgment as to the direction in which I should have to go.
I climbed that mountain easily enough for the first half-hour, allured by the singing of the pheasants, which I heard on all sides. Having reached a little over half the height, I met with a soil without consistency, like fine sand, interspersed with large and very sharp-edged stones, which made our march very disagreeable. These stones gave way under our feet and rolled down with a terrific noise.
I was obliged, with my men, to open a narrow path, following, in single file, this passage among the stones and bushes, and sinking up to the knee in the sand, at the risk of having our legs broken by the stones, which were rolling, and which it was necessary to avoid by taking great precautions and stepping aside when we saw them come.
By this means I succeeded in ascending three-quarters of the height, where immense overhanging rocks, which seemed to be attached to nothing, offered an appalling scene. Enormous masses, on which we tried to hold ourselves in order to be able to pass, offered so little resistance that the slightest effort detached them, and some tumbled down under the pressure of our feet, when we found some large trees within our reach to hang on to. These masses in rolling down to the base carried away with them other rocks of various sizes with a thundering noise.
When I happened to reach some large trees, generally blue-gum, I made my men rest, and during these stoppages I glanced at the plain from that great height with a feeling of admiration mingled with awe.
I continued to advance in that dangerous situation for half-an-hour, using my hands as well as my feet, which were bleeding. My aim was to reach the summit of the mountain, and I had deviated by only 100 paces from my course. But I was literally stopped by a barrier of rocks which projected outwards in the shape of vaults, and which were pierced by various cavities, serving as a shelter to wild dogs and other wild animals. I persisted, however, in my attempt to find a passage to reach the summit.
I sent a native with a soldier to go round this barrier towards the east. I soon heard the report of a gun (they were scarcely 100 yards distant from me), and I saw them come back with a warring** which the soldier had killed. Another soldier I had sent reconnoitring on the other side not having succeeded in discovering the desired passage, I determined to descend by the western slope of the mountain, the height of which, although elevated, had not an inaccessible appearance, and this made me hopeful of being able to advance about 30 miles without obstacles. Within a short time I arrived at the base of this mountain without other accident than the wounds my legs had received, which, however, did not prevent me from pursuing, for more than a quarter of an hour, some pheasants I could hear; but they were so shy that, at the slightest noise, they flew to the trees where they perched. They run on the ground with such rapidity that one loses sight of them in the twinkling of the eye.
[** Sir Joseph Banks is possessed of the only skin of this species of animal ever brought over to England. The warring is a kangaroo of a smaller species than the ordinary kangaroo. It possesses the same characteristics, and its only habitat is the mountains. It is of a dark brown red colour, with small stripes on the head. I remained seated for a quarter of an hour upon this height at the foot of a tree, and from this position I discovered several creeks which ran into the river, crossing the plain in all directions. The whole country seemed to me absolutely flat.]
When I arrived at the top of one of the hills which form the base of the mountain, Bungin, the mountaineer, saw a fire, and made a sign to me not to make any noise, and he stepped to the place where the fire was. Round it were seated some natives, who rose and put themselves on the defensive with their spears as soon as they perceived Bungin.*** He made another sign, inviting me to come with my troop, and began speaking, telling them not to be frightened; that he had come with Gogy to accompany us, and that we were travelling without any intention of doing them any harm. He told them to sit down again, which they did, after having questioned him and having observed us attentively. I had a fire lighted at once on the spot I had chosen for the present. I had my party seated, and whilst some soldiers were skinning the warring, I made Bulgin ask the natives the nearest place where water could be obtained. One of them rose instantly, and pointed with his hand to a place which contained some.**** Gogy, the native in my service, went near the mountaineers in nearly the same manner as Bungin, and held my gun in his hands to show them that he could make use of our arms; but nobody paid any attention to him except Wallarra, who was there, and knew him. He called him, and made him sit by his side. He was the only one who spoke to him. The others from time to time threw terrible glances at him, biting their lips, which did not augur very well for him, and made him aware of the danger he was running among them. He came back to me very angry, and told me that the chief of that tribe was called Goondel, and that one of them called Mootik was the only one who could give me any information about the new settlement which, he had heard, was on the other side of the mountains. Wallarra had told him to apply to that native, but, when asked, the latter did not answer the questions put to him on that subject, although Wallarra had told him that it was by my orders he questioned him, because it was my intention to examine this new settlement when I knew its location and the number of days required to reach it. Mootik had got up, looking at him with terrible eyes and biting his lips, and had gone to the place where the water was. When he had come back he seated himself near Goondel, spoke in his ear, and took an opossum which he had distributed among those present for their dinner, but offered none to him (Gogy), an omission he considered as the greatest insult.
[*** The natives of this part of the country make use of a weapon which is not employed by, and is even unknown to, the natives of Sydney. It is composed of a piece of wood, in the form of a half circle, which they make as sharp as a sabre on both edges, and pointed at, each end. They throw it on the ground or in the air, making it revolve on itself, and with such a velocity that one cannot see it returning towards the ground; only the whizzing of it is heard. When they throw it along the ground it is exactly like a cannon-ball knocking down everything on its passage.]
[**** The manner in which the mountaineers receive the strangers is exactly the same as at Sydney, Parramatta, and Hawkesbury. They have the same customs, the same way of living; their food consists of different species of kangaroos, opossums, squirrels, wild dogs, river and swamp fish and shells, lizard eggs (which they find in the sand on the banks of the rivers at a depth of 1 foot), large ant eggs, colo, or monkey (a species of opossum different from the others), wombat, serpents, lizards with red bellies, and other species, &c., &c. Goondel's troop was well provided with opossums. They had also a wild dog, which they roasted in a hole after the style of the Hunter River natives. They appeared to be good hunters, and had five hounds with them.]
He also told me that this chief had promised his daughter to Bungin, in order to retain him in his tribe; that the girl was called Wheengeewhungee, was very young, and that Bungin had accepted the offer, and had asked him to intimate to me that he would not follow me any farther.*
[* Whilst the preparations for the dinner were proceeding, a mountaineer belonging to Goondel's tribe, having seen a kangaroo take refuge in a bush near the water, hunted him, and, having made it turn on the side where the dogs were, would certainly have caught it; but the animal having passed near us, the dog which was after him let go his prey, not daring to pass near us.]
While I was talking to Gogy our dinner had been prepared. I gave him his share, but he absolutely refused to touch it. He had his eyes constantly fixed on the place where the natives were, and did not miss one of their movements. Having asked him what prevented him from eating, and what made him look so sad, he answered that if I had any consideration for him I would go back. He was certain, he said, that if I spent the night on this spot, Goondel and his party would kill him.**
[** The weapons of these natives, with the exception of the one mentioned previously, are of the same kind as those of the natives of Sydney. Their spears and clubs are similar; they all possess a small axe of English make, with which they catch various animals necessary to their subsistence. They wear a belt they make with opossum hair, plaited as thick as a pen-holder. It is composed of several of these plaits, and is about 10 or 12 feet in length. They wear it very tight above the hips. It is used to hang their various instruments on, such as the axe, whamharha, whady, &c.]
I could not succeed in reassuring him, even by telling him that I would go a few miles farther to look for a suitable place to spend the night; that, besides, he had nothing to fear, certain as he was of my assistance and that of my troop; and that after this day I intended returning to the depôt by another route to avoid meeting Goondel and his tribe. I expressed to him my surprise at seeing him possessed of so little courage, for he knew I had a sentry on watch during the night. All this failed to restore his confidence; but as he was absolutely necessary to me in making the huts for myself, my people, and the provisions at night, I could not let him leave without inconvenience. I, therefore, decided to go, and having had everything put in order, and everyone having taken his arms and utensils, I called Bungin, who at once came to me. He talked with Gogy for some time, and the latter told me that Bungin asked my permission to stop for this day with Goondel who was giving him his daughter, but that he would join me on the morrow before breakfast time.* Having no reason to keep him back, I granted his request, hoping to get rid altogether of a mouth quite useless to me, and I made my people take the route to the depôt.
[* The natives here paint their face, arms, and thighs in the same way as those of Sydney, and they wear the same ornaments, with the addition of one composed of a part of the female kangaroo. The only difference consists in their mantles, which they make with the skins of various animals sewed together with sinews from the tail of the kangaroo; but before sewing them they form various squares on the inside of the skin with the edgy part of a bivalve shell, which process makes the skin softer and easier to handle. When they have killed a kangaroo they always preserve the two middle teeth of the upper jaw, which are very long and of a beautiful and pure white when well cleaned. When they have a dozen they make a necklace of them, which is one of the principal ornaments of the women. They wear it on their forehead. They have another kind of necklace made of small reeds, and which they wear on their neck. This necklace goes seven or eight times round the neck, and they let a piece of at least 6 inches hang in the middle of their back. When they have only three or four teeth, and are not able to make a necklace, they stick them in their hair with gum, taking care that they come on the forehead or on the ears. Sometimes the men also adorn themselves with these necklaces, but they are contented with the reed ones, and stick the kangaroo teeth in their hair with gum. They, as well as some of the women, usually wear on their forehead a band of an oval shape, and red tinted, made as a net with opossum hair.]
Gogy was not long in perceiving that Mootik and one of the other mountaineers were following us at less than 200 paces behind, and that they stopped every time we stopped. He noticed that they were well armed, and that they each had a spear fixed to the whamharha, which they usually employ to throw their spear with greater force when opportunity offers. I gave the order to proceed without seeming to take any notice of the natives. Gogy alone observed all their movements. He stopped when they were shouting, and told me that they were calling the others to help them. He looked as if he had lost his reason. My soldiers sometimes called him "gevenet", which in the native language signifies coward, and he used then to get out of temper.
After following us in that manner for more than one hour the two natives stopped, and, after looking at us for some time, they retraced their steps. Gogy was the first to notice it, and made me aware of it with an expression of joy.
I arrived at the very place where I had slept the night before. I shot four wild ducks I found in the river, and after having taken our effects out of the waggon I disposed myself to pass the night there. The sun had then disappeared behind the horizon.
My route to-day, until we met the natives, was: N. 39° 0' W. 1 mile; N. 70° 0' W. 1 mile; S. 47° 0' W. 6¾ miles; N. 86° 0' W. 1 mile; in all, 9¾ miles.
I followed the same route in returning to the river where I slept the night before. The thermometer marked: In the morning, 69°; at noon, 76°; in the evening, 72°; north-easterly wind; foggy until 12 noon.
On the 13th November I continued my route to the depôt, following the river in search of wild ducks.
On arriving at the junction of the two rivers I heard the voice of a native who was calling, and having stopped my troop, I saw, a few minutes after, Bungin who was coming to me with a young native who had paid us a visit the evening before. Bungin told me that the girl whom the chief had promised to him had taken to the woods, and they had not been able to find her, although they had looked for her during the whole of the afternoon on the 12th, and seeing that she could not be found he had left the natives, in order to rejoin me, after having exchanged his spears and whamharha** for a few ornaments he had received from the natives. He had taken the young fellow with him because, as he had neither father nor mother, he was not able to subsist without being helped. He added that he had followed my footsteps until dusk, stopping near the river, having only one opossum to share with his companion who was crying very much over the fatigue he had experienced, and that, having seen our fire during the night, he had left early in the morning to try to overtake us before breakfast.
[** The whamharha is a small stick used by the natives as a lever in order to throw their spears to a greater distance and with more force.]
I had some food given to Bungin and the young native. They appeared as if they were in great need of it. I learnt that Goondel and his tribe proposed to go up the river to-day to try and find his bride. He told me also that he knew a shorter way to go back to the depôt, in ascending a mountain and passing several high hills which were on the other side of the river, by which means we should reach the depôt before sunset.
I therefore determined to march the whole of the day under the guidance of Bungin. I passed the first river and followed its banks till I came to a rather large creek which falls from one of the ravines in the mountain. He made me understand that this was the place where we had to prepare to ascend this mountain. It appeared to me so steep, nearly perpendicular, that my courage failed me when thinking of undertaking its ascension. I made my troop take a rest on the bank of the creek, and after a frugal repast I started climbing up. Bungin was by my side and supported me every time I slipped or when the stones to which I was holding gave way. (This climbing was one of the most trying I ever attempted). In this manner, and after having tried the patience of my men, I arrived at about twelve fathoms from the summit, exhausted with fatigue, and without the slightest hope of reaching it. The rocks with which it was formed being perpendicular, all attempt to go further seemed to be futile.
Bungin assured me he had once passed there with several mountaineers to go to Nattai, and that he was sure we would pass. I sent him to try to discover a passage towards the south; he came back a little while after without having succeeded. He reiterated to me that he was certain he had passed on this very mountain before. Having made the young native get up, he told me to follow him towards the north, while Gogy and my escort would go south, where he had been himself without success.
He made me go round the mountain, passing over precipices of a frightful depth, and led me to an opening into the rock, through which he made me pass, crawling on my stomach, and in an instant I found myself on the summit without much difficulty.
Our party, not having been able to find a place which they could climb, were obliged to retrace their steps, and not seeing us any longer they came to the conclusion that we had found a passage at the north. They followed our traces and arrived very tired at the opening leading to us.
I continued to march in the direction S. 59° E., and after having descended several hills and another range of mountains, we arrived at the creek where my men from the depôt had just come to take their provision of water. It was quite dark, but as I had only 1½ mile more to walk, I decided not to stop before arriving at the depôt, although I was exceedingly tired.
On arriving at the depôt I found there a kangaroo weighing 80 lb., which my men had killed, and they hastened to make some soup for us with the tail and the head of the animal, which comforted us and made us forget our fatigue for a while.
There had been very heavy rain at Nattai on the 11th and 12th, whilst we had some on our way on the 11th only.
I learnt that Bulgin, one of the natives I left at the depôt with his two wives, had disappeared on the day after my departure. On that day he had gone hunting with some men from the depôt and the young native who had come with Wooglemai. He had told his wives to leave some short time after him, pretend to look after ant nests, and then to make for the woods. Bulgin, having given some pretext to remain in the rear, the soldier had seen him run out of his reach, and a short time afterwards having seen the young native run away with his coat, had fired a shot over his head. It frightened him so much that he let himself drop on the ground, believing he was mortally wounded, and gave time for the soldier to catch him and take him back to the depôt.
In following the new route across the mountain I had shortened the distance by about 6 miles. The direction of this route is S. 69° E. The thermometer marked:—In the morning, 61° 30'; at noon, 75° 0'; in the evening, 65° 0'; southerly wind; sky cloudy.
On the 14th November, being obliged to wait at the depôt for the return of the waggon, I made arrangements so as to let my men have a rest, to make them recover from their fatigue, intending to send some of them kangaroo hunting on the morrow.
An unforeseen incident soon troubled our tranquillity, and gave rise to a very disagreeable quarrel. I had given to Gogy's child a few morsels of kangaroo left from my breakfast which he had taken to his mother's hut to eat. Unfortunately, this woman started eating a portion of this meat which she took from the child, who complained to his father, shouting and crying.*** The father having ordered his wife to let him alone, she could not resist taking some more pieces of the meat, which caused the child to renew his cries.
[*** The natives are extremely indulgent to their offspring. Everything they may desire is granted at once to them—even the spears, and the mothers' necklaces, &c. I noticed that little Gogy used to take a sharp-pointed spear his father had made for him and thrust it in his mother's thighs more than one inch deep. The latter after having cried for some time then dressed her wounds, looked at her child in laughing, and told me her son would be a great warrior. He used to do the same thing to his father, and struck heavy blows with his club on his shoulders, taking all the attitudes of a combatant. The father, to encourage him, pretended to be vanquished, and asked for his mercy. The little one then, with an insulting air, told him to get up, and after having thrown two or three spears at him they made friends again.]
Gogy then took his club and struck his wife's head such a blow that she fell to the ground unconscious. My people having tried to appease him, he went out of the hut, dropped his club, and started abusing his wife, pacing in front of the hut. He soon started again with a four-pointed spear, which is used by the natives for fishing purposes, and thrust it several times in her thighs and several other parts of her body. He then ran to the pile of arms, and taking hold of a musket, aimed at his wife and would have shot her had not my men at once taken the musket out of his hands, telling him that he had no right to take arms which did not belong to him. This appeared to vex him very much. He then laid down near Bungin, who seemed to remonstrate with him and try to make him keep quiet.*
[* Cruelty and laziness are two prominent characteristics of the natives. During their marches the women are obliged to carry the children, and have in addition a net in the form of a sack hanging on their back in which they have to carry opossums, and all tools necessary to their husbands, such as kangaroo bones, which they use as chisels; bivalve shells, which they employ for sharpening the point of their spears; and other utensils, as well as lines of various descriptions, gum, &c. They are in everything their husbands' beasts of burden. Should his wife not obey his first command the husband strikes her on the head with his club as a warning, and continues his route as if nothing out of the way had taken place. If his wife attempts to resist his orders he breaks her arm with blows from his club, thrusts spears in her thighs and other parts of the body, and thus compels her to obey. They have a strong inclination to steal one another's wives when opportunity offers, and they then change country in order to escape being pursued. When the wife of one of their enemies falls into their hands they drag her by force in the bush, holding her by the arms; and when she is covered with blood through the pricking of the brushes and nearly dying, they, whatever number there might be, commit all sorts of violence and brutalities upon her, after which the first one takes her for his wife; then the remainder of the troop is obliged to respect her as such, and she has to follow her new husband and obey him.]
After dinner, seeing that nobody was taking any notice of him, he got infuriated again, and again struck his wife on the head with his club, and he left her on the ground nearly dying, before Bungin, who was seated, could come to her assistance. He got up at once and succeeded in making her regain consciousness by throwing some water on her face. He afterwards sucked the wound she had on her head, bandaged it tightly with a handkerchief she happened to have, and made her lie down near the fire.
While Bungin was nursing this woman, Gogy was walking up and down in a great fury. Nobody dared to speak to him for fear he should again ill-treat his wife, who was in a pitiable state. At last he came to me and said he was almost certain one of my people had seduced his wife, and that he had determined to kill her if she did not tell him who it was that seduced her. I represented to him that the thing was impossible; that it was only the state of anger in which he was that made him believe things which did not exist; and that should he kill this poor woman his child would have no one to suckle him. But it was all in vain. He told me that he had determined to give his child to some people at Parramatta when he had killed the mother, and going back to his wife, mad with anger, he struck her a terrible blow on her shoulders, asking her to give him at once the name of her seducer; that should she persist in withholding that name from him, he would kill her on the spot. He intimidated her so much by his threats that she named Witthington, one of my soldiers, assuring him that she had never responded to his advances.
Gogy sat by his fire without uttering a word. He mended his spears, sharpening them again, biting his lips all the time. This disagreeable day was spent in this manner until dusk, when fearing lest Gogy should commit some act of violence, I had a sentry told off to follow all his movements, and in the case of his perpetrating any excess, to fire upon him if there were no other means of restraining him.
Gogy carried his cruelty so far as not to allow his wife to pass the night in his hut; he would not even light her fire, and she was obliged to lay in this pitiable state in the open air until daybreak.
Everything continued quiet during the night, and I had to satisfy the questions of the natives about the sentry (whom they never had seen before outside the hut at night) by telling them that it was to protect them against evil spirits. They performed in trembling their customary ceremonies, and went back to their hut.
The thermometer marked to-day:—In the morning, 62° 0'; at noon, 67° 0'; in the evening, 64° 30'; rain fell part of the evening; southerly wind.
15th November.—Bungin dressed the unfortunate woman's wounds. She had an inflammation where she had been wounded by the spear. He bandaged her thigh very tightly a little above the wounds to prevent the inflammation spreading up. He made for that purpose a bandage with the bark of a small tree. He then examined the wound in the head, cleaned it with much patience and dexterity, washed it with cold water, and replaced the handkerchief as it was before. I witnessed this operation, and its effect on this unfortunate woman was very marked, for she was soon able to eat some rice and sugar I had given her.
I had decided to send some of my men kangaroo hunting with the natives, when Bungin came and told me that he was going with the child he had brought with him from Goondel to look for Bulgin, who had taken away the new axe I had given him, and after his departure I sent two men with the young native whom Bungin had left, and who was obliged to stay with us against his will. He knew the country, and I was certain he would take my men to the places frequented by kangaroos. I was not deceived in my expectation. At about 2 o'clock I saw them coming back with a superb male weighing 100 lb. This was a good addition to our provisions.
This day was very disagreeable, a thin rain falling continuously. The thermometer showed:—In the morning, 62° 30'; at noon, 67° 0'; in the evening, 64° 0'; very cold; southerly wind.
On the 16th November, I sent two of my men hunting, and I told Gogy to go with them, but I could not induce him to leave his hut. He looked sorry for having ill-treated his wife, and was trying to make peace with her.
I myself left with two soldiers to reconnoitre the environs of the depôt. I gathered a quantity of plants and I killed a small and very pretty bird; the head, the neck, and part of its body were red.
When arriving at the depôt I found the young native quarrelling with one of my men, who accused him of trying to steal the waistcoat of one of his comrades, and abandon him in the woods, where he certainly would have lost his way.
I forbade my men molesting him in future, and they were reconciled.
The hunters I had sent out in the morning came back at night without having met with any success. The thermometer showed—In the morning, 63° 0'; at noon, 67° 0'; in the evening, 65° 0'; southerly wind; the rain continued all day.
On the 17th November, I had the huts repaired where the rain found its way through; everybody worked at it so as to have it finished quickly. Afterwards I had our arms cleaned, and the whole day was spent in doing those two things. Gogy asked me to allow his wife to go away in the waggon when it came back, which I promised, for I greatly desired to get rid of him, as he had become useless to me since he had ill-treated his wife.*
[* He was now very affectionate to her. He would not go out of the hut under any pretence, not even to fetch the water he wanted. His anger had all gone, but he appeared to be jealous of his wife.]
This was a rainy day up to sunset. The thermometer marked—In the morning, 60° 30'; at noon, 77° 0'; in the evening, 71° 0'; southerly wind from morning to sunset; then the wind changed to N.W., and we had a fine night.
On the 18th November we had a fine morning, but the wind having changed from N.W. to S., the sky became cloudy, and the breeze having abated the heat was excessive from 12 at noon to half-past 2 in the afternoon, when the storm began with a violent squall, accompanied by thunder and hail, the stones of which were as large as a musket bullet. This storm lasted only for a quarter of an hour, but the rain fell during the whole day.
The thermometer marked—In the morning, 64° 0'; at noon, 83° 0'; in the evening, 68° 0'; western wind until 11 a.m.; then changed to south, and remained so the rest of the evening and whole of the night with heavy rain.
On the 19th November the rain abated a little about 9 o'clock in the morning, and my two hunters came back with a kangaroo weighing about 60 lb., which they had met returning to the depôt.**
[** They had been obliged to take refuge in a hollow tree to shelter themselves from the storm and rain, and they had passed there a very bad night, dazzled by the lightning and harassed by the storm.]
At 1 o'clock in the afternoon the waggon came back with one month's provisions. The drovers told me they had met on that day a great number of natives, whom they could only get rid of by dividing among them a kangaroo they had killed. One of them had wounded a black cockatoo, having the head and tail of a yellow colour, with black spots.
The sight of the effects brought by the waggon rejoiced all the members of my party, and I had a small glass of rum given to each of them to brighten up their spirits.
Wooglemai had followed the waggon and had with him a young man, whom he called Badbury. They were well received by Gogy and his wife.
The thermometer marked—In the morning, 58° 0'; at noon, 65° 30'; in the evening, 59° 0'; southern wind up to 2 o'clock in the afternoon, when it changed to N.E. till 5 o'clock, and having changed again to south, we had rain the whole of the night.
On the 20th November I commenced my preparations for making an excursion towards the south. Rain continued falling till 9 a.m., but the weather looked as if it were going to clear up, the wind having changed to north; but as it varied to N.W., I could not carry out my project on that day.
A little before dusk, Gogy came and asked my permission to accompany his wife when the waggon left. I pretended to feel inclined to refuse acceding to his request, in order that he should be grateful for my granting it later on. He insisted very much on the necessity of his accompanying his wife and taking her to his father, saying that he could not trust anybody to do it. As I wanted to get rid of him I told him he could go, and it pleased him very much.
I sent for Wooglemai to ask him to accompany me to the mountains, but he appeared so much frightened with my proposal that I did not insist upon it.
The thermometer—In the morning, 57° 0'; at noon, 78° 0'; in the evening, 68° 0'; southerly wind till 7·30 a.m., thence northwesterly till the next day; rain continually falling.
On the 21st November, the rain having stopped at noon, I sent the waggon back with two men, guided by Wooglemai and Gogy. I had the woman and child placed in the waggon, and gave Gogy an axe when he came to say good-bye to me. He seemed as if he regretted leaving me. I had some sugar given to his wife, who, by this time, had nearly recovered.
I retained Badbury and the young native,*** who had desired stopping with me. I chose five of the strongest men in my troop to accompany me on the new journey I was going to take, and I gave orders for everything to be in readiness to set out on the following day, and for everyone to take with him the quantity of provisions and ammunition he could carry without, however, overloading himself. I had a glass of rum given to each of my men to cheer them, and the preparations were completed before dusk.
[*** I named this young native Le Tonsuré, because he had lost some of his hair in falling headlong from his mother's arms into a fire. The skin of his head had been burnt, and the hair had not grown again on that part, which resembled a monk's tonsure. He only suffered from this in rainy weather, when the rain fell on his head, and he then covered it with some bark.]
The thermometer—In the morning, 69° 0'; at noon, 72° 0'; in the evening, 67° 0'; strong north-westerly wind with rain till noon; the remainder of the day was calm, with a little rain; night stormy, with plenty of rain.
On the 22nd November, everything was absolutely ready by 8 in the morning. Badbury and the young native having had a talk together, told me they were ready to follow me, and asked me for how many nights I intended to stay in the mountains. I told them I could not exactly say, but I would come back when we ran short of provisions.
I had a haversack of flour given to each of them, and after giving them an axe, I left with my men, taking the same way in the gorge (S. 75° W.) which I had taken on the 10th.* I continued my route in that manner, arriving without meeting any obstacle at the first river, where I heard the voices of some natives, and I saw the left side of the creek from where we came all in flames, without, however, being able to detect anybody around. I crossed the river and made my troop halt to rest and prepare our dinner.* After dinner I resumed my journey and reached my old huts early in the afternoon. I found them to be in a good state, which was a good omen. They had, however, been visited during the day by some natives, probably those whose voices I had heard. On arriving there I shot a pigeon of the same species as those near Sydney.
[* Note[s] missing.]
In the evening I heard a woman's voice. I gave the order not to make any noise, in order to see whether she would come to our fire. But the voice became more and more inaudible, and I surmised that she had discovered we were strangers by the size of our fire, and had gone away.
The whole day was very warm, and from noon to 3 o'clock in the afternoon the heat was so suffocating that no one could stand it. The frequent bathing in the river which I compelled my men to take benefited them very greatly.
The thermometer—In the morning, 64° 0'; at noon, 76° 0'; in the evening, 82° 30'; at sunset, 71° 0'; southerly wind, but hardly any breeze could be felt.
On the 23rd November I pursued the same route which I had taken while on my previous journey. My young natives followed without grumbling. They were accustomed to carry the haversack, the weight of which was diminishing in proportion as the provisions were being consumed. On arriving at the junction of the two rivers I perceived a fire on the opposite side, near the large river, and three natives seated under a tree with two women and some children, who rose at once on seeing my troop, and who closely watched us.
My two young natives said we ought to stop for a while, because we could not go on without speaking to those natives, and, dropping their haversacks, they went to them. A short time afterwards they returned and told me they had learnt that Goondel, Mootik, and Wallarra had come to receive them.
A little while after we saw these three natives cross the river on a waterfall in front of us, and they sat under the shade of a she-oak.
Wallarra came last with a stick alight in his hand and a piece of kangaroo. After their fire had been lighted my two young natives went to them, and they were received without ceremony.
**Mootik gave them a leg of kangaroo, well dried by fire, and Wallarra a rib of the same animal boned and properly dried.
[** The dogs of the natives were frightened by the red coats of the soldiers and ran to the woods. The women called them, but they could not succeed in making them come back so long as we were within sight.]
I had gone to the bank of the river to try to shoot some wild ducks, and when coming back the two young natives told me that Goondel, seeing I had no intention of doing any harm to them, was contemplating paying me a visit with his party, and I felt rather pleased about it. This was a proof of his confidence in me, which I decided to augment by presenting him with a new axe, hoping to get from him some particulars which would be of use to me while progressing into the interior. In consequence I had the dinner prepared to receive them; but in vain did I wait till 4 p.m. for them, and I had then to leave this place to reach my next quarters which were still far distant. Besides, we were threatened with a storm.
The heat of the day was excessive, and I made my men bathe in the river to refresh themselves.
I arrived at my old quarters at 8 p.m. Fortunately the storm had cleared up, for I found my huts were in a very bad state. They were situated on the border of a large creek.
The thermometer:—In the morning, 66° 0'; in the shade, at noon, 82° 0', at 2 p.m., 84° 0': in the sun, at 2 p.m., 126° 0'; in the shade, at 3 p.m., 87° 0'; in the evening 74° 30'.
Southerly wind up to 5 p.m., when it veered to south-west, with indications of storm.
On the 24th November I followed the range of isolated mountains, where I saw several kangaroos. This country is covered with meadows and small hills, where trees grow a great distance apart.***
[*** They generally are apple-trees and blue-gum.]
Having passed at noon the mountain I had tried on the occasion of my first journey, I went into a country full of brushes, going over hills which stood in all directions. Whilst advancing the soil appeared to me worse and worse, and near 2 o'clock I came across a soil composed of hard whitish clay, full of iron ore.
When I had succeeded in climbing to a considerable height, I saw that the mountains on the right dipped north-westwardly, and this filled me with the hope of being able to find a passage. I descended this hill towards a small creek, the soft murmur of which invited me to make my troop repose there.
My provisions were reduced to a small quantity of flour and some pickled pork, which would hardly be sufficient for our meals. Chance, however, favoured us in supplying us here with a good meal, one of my soldiers having shot an eel weighing 12 lb., which he had found in the creek.
It was about 3 o'clock when I resumed my journey, following various directions to avoid the obstacles, and at 4 o'clock I arrived on the top of a hill where I discovered that the direction of the chain of mountains extended itself north-westwardly to a distance which I estimated to be about 30 miles, and which turned abruptly at right angles. It formed a barrier nearly north and south, which it was necessary to climb over.
At 7 o'clock I arrived on the summit of another hill, from where I noticed three openings: the first on the right towards N. 59° 30' W.; the one in front of me, and which appeared very large, was west from me; and the third, S. 35° 0' W.*
[* Note missing.]
This discovery gave me a great deal of hope, and the whole of my party appeared quite pleased, thinking we had surmounted all difficulties, and that we were going to enter a plain, the apparent immensity of which gave every promise of our being able to penetrate far into the interior of the country.
In the course of the day I had gone over a range of hills, the ground of which was full of granite stones, which made our advance a very laborious one. The trees there are the blue-gum and ironbark, of medium height. The most abundant stones are the blue granite. The plants are similar to those in the environs of the Hawkesbury. Water is found in great quantity in a number of rivulets.
The thermometer marked—In the morning, 78° 0'; at noon, 90° 0'; in the evening, 76° 0'.
Southerly wind, almost calm; the heat was excessive, Towards 6 p.m. the thunder announced the coming of the storm; at 8 a little rain, which soon ceased falling, the night being fine.
The distance from the river Nepean to the one marked ——** was 71 miles. The distance covered until to-day is:—S. 70° W., 7 miles; S. 75° W., 13 miles; N. 76° W., 2 miles; S. 31° W., 5½ miles; S. 36° W., 1¾ mile: in all 100½ miles.
[** The mark given in the original does not resemble any on the map.—ED.]
On the 25th November I continued my route, going over several ranges of hills covered with bush and angular stones, which rendered our march a very arduous one.
At noon I reached a large stream where I halted my troops for dinner. The current of this stream is very rapid, and carries, during the winter, a large quantity of granite stones fallen from the mountains. Its western bank is composed of blue and red granite. Wild ducks are plentiful here, but it is difficult to go near to shoot them.
I saw a lizard 18 inches in length, which I made my men kill. His abdomen was red. This peculiarity determined me in taking its skin off to preserve it; but I could not succeed, as its scales fell off as I touched them.
A perfect calm and an excessive heat lasted up to 3 p.m., when, a small breeze having arisen, I pursued my march by going over several hills the direction of which was north and south. The soil was of the same nature as before mentioned.
At 6 o'clock I found myself at a distance of 2 miles from the western passage. I was obliged to climb over a very steep height, at the summit of which I found a cave large enough to contain twenty men. I was then at only half a mile from the passage, and I sent two men in order to discover it, instructing them to ascend the mountain at the north of this passage. The rain compelled me to seek a shelter for myself and my men in the cave which, the natives assured me, was the home of wombats. I waited till 7 o'clock in the cave for my two men, who related to me that after passing the range which was in front of us we would enter an immense plain; that from the height where they were on the mountain they had caught sight of only a few hills standing here and there in this plain; and that the country in front of them had the appearance of a meadow.
On the faith of this favourable report, I continued my march until nightfall, climbing over a hill comparatively easy of access, which led me to the mouth of the passage*** formed by a perpendicular cut in the mountain, the profiles of which, north and south, were of an immense height and presented to the eye a majestic aspect. On the sandy soil of this passage an infinite number of small traces made by the wild beasts could be seen.
[*** The width of this passage is about half a mile; its sides are perpendicular. The mountain is very steep and full of caves which are the homes of various wild beasts which go there in crossing the swamps near by. From a short distance the swamp could be mistaken for a meadow, filled as it is with reeds, which prevents the water with which it is well provided and which is very good, being seen. These reeds are similar to those growing inland in Europe. The water is taken from this swamp by a rivulet running south-westwardly. It was dry when I arrived, but the rain had filled it during the night with a large quantity of water.]
The rain started falling heavily, accompanied by thundering, and I made my troop hasten so as to arrive beyond the passage and there look for a suitable place to spend the night. After walking another mile, I reached a small hillock at 20 paces from a swamp, where I determined to stop.
I sent men to try and find the trees to get the bark necessary for the building of our huts. This work was completed with as much celerity as circumstances allowed, and after every one was sheltered they congratulated themselves with having succeeded in accomplishing the passage of the Blue Mountains without accident.
The distance covered to-day was W. 17 miles. The thermometer—In the morning, 63° 0'; at noon, 82° 0 '; in the evening, 68° 0'; southerly wind; during the whole morning the heat was unbearable; very stormy night.
On the 26th November, at daybreak, I left with two men to verify by myself the configuration of the ground, and to ascertain whether the passage of the Blue Mountains had really been effected. I climbed the chain of mountains north from us, and when I had reached the middle of this height, the view of a plain as vast as the eye could reach confirmed to me the report of the previous day.
Encouraged by this inspection, I continued to ascend up to the summit of the height, from where I discovered, towards the west, and at a distance which I estimated to be 40 miles, a range of mountains much higher than those we had passed. Some of these mountains appeared as if they were denuded of trees, and by the differences in the colours and shades I thought I could distinguish in the distance immense rocks which, by their juxtaposition, had the appearance of houses of different sizes. From where I was I could not detect any obstacle to the passage right to the foot of these large mountains. The view of the country below me was immense; that of the country I had gone over extended itself to a great distance. I estimated that I had made a gradual ascent of 14 miles from the parts I had travelled, whilst the ground towards which I was going appeared to me to be hardly 1 mile lower than the sugar-loaf summit on which I was standing. All the objects appeared to me clear and distinct on this side, but those on the other side, which we had traversed, looked entirely confused and mixed with vapours or hidden by the fog.
The westerly wind was blowing very hard, and scarcely allowed me to stand on my feet. I heard a noise resembling the roaring of the waves when breaking upon the rocks of the shore, and which could be heard from a distance of nearly 2 miles. The cold was excessive. The thermometer, which stood at 61° at the base of the mountain, had descended to 56°.
The whole of this mountain, from base to summit, is composed of hard sandstone, and large rocks are ready to roll down the precipice at the slightest effort. Most of the trees growing here are short gum-trees, all crooked, and inclining usually towards the east. I have not seen one more than 20 feet in height.
I was under the impression that I had passed the centre of the mountains, as I did not find any more granite but only sandstone, and I resolved to advance as far as the summit of the chain of mountains which I had discovered at a great distance towards the west. Possessed by this hope, I went back to my men, and I had everything put in readiness for our departure. After breakfast I made a sketch of the place, and started marching in a westerly direction, but I was not long following this direction before I came across hills barring the passage, an impediment which I could not have foreseen, not even judged, by the appearance from the place where my discovery was made, everything seeming so perfectly level from that height.
I continued marching in various directions, looking for the shortest way to reach my goal. At 11 o'clock I was on the banks of a creek, which I followed until 5 p.m., and I arrived at a river much larger than the one I had seen on the 24th [? 25th, ante, p. 795] instant.
The current of this river is very rapid, and flows between two chains of very high mountains, which give to only one part of its banks an accessible space. The widest parts where I passed were not more than 20 feet. Very often I could not find any passage at all, and was obliged to walk on the slopes of the steep mountains at the risk of falling from the precipices into the water.
I proceeded in that manner in a northerly direction for more than one hour. Arriving at the junction of this river with a rather large stream, I crossed it at a waterfall caused by an agglomeration of rocks carried there by the waters of the stream, and I settled there for the night on a spot which appeared suitable to me.
The whole day had offered to my troops nothing but a continuation of dangers in walking through rocks and jumping over precipices. I did not meet with any traces which could indicate that this country was frequented by the natives, the only thing I came across being the bark of a tree near a stream where we spent the night, which had been taken off long ago, and which I surmised had been used in building the hut of a native who probably had taken refuge here to escape his enemies.
Whilst my men were engaged preparing everything for the night, I went over a short distance on the banks of the stream, and picked up a few interesting stones, among which were some sandstones containing sea-shells and several other foreign matters.* These stones seemed as if they had been carried from the summit of the mountain by this stream, which I imagined came from a very elevated ravine.
[* These discoveries, which seemed to me interesting for a naturalist, strengthened my perseverance, as I hoped from day to day I would be able to make more useful ones.]
On the following clay I resolved to verify the correctness of my suppositions. I found on the banks of the stream, quite close to the water, a small tree which I took as a kind of fig-tree.** It possesses all its characteristics—the lightness of its wood, the kind of milk flowing from its leaves when they are cut, and the thin points at their edge which stick to the hands when they are touched, and cause a pain which lasts for a long time.
[** The height of this tree is about 4 feet. The leaves are nearly similar to those of the fig-tree of Europe. It has a very small root, and when its wood is cut it has the appearance of the sugar-cane. I was not able to get any fruit or flower from this tree, but I have kept some leaves, which may be of some use in ascertaining its genus.]
Another small tree I found, also near the stream, bears a fruit which is red like a cherry, and of about the same size, with the difference that its stone is half uncovered and black, which makes a singular contrast with the red colour of the fruit.
This tree is rather pretty and stands about 8 feet high. Its trunk is only 2 inches in diameter. It has a large number of branches, and, like our pepper trees, its leaves are quite green. I preserved the stone of the fruit with great care.
The weather to-day was the coldest I have experienced since I have been in the woods.
My progress during this day, following an easterly direction, was 14 miles. The thermometer—In the morning, 61° 0 '; at noon, 70° 30'; in the evening, 60° 0'.
On the 27th November, I sent early in the morning two of my men to the summit of the mountain, at the foot of which we had spent the night, to see whether it was possible to travel on its crest.
Their report was far from being satisfactory. They had tried several places without success, and had been obliged to come down, running great risks. They assured me that all the mountains were like as many pyramids by the side of one another; that should it even be practicable to get to the top of one of them, it would be necessary to descend it and ascend another; and that the dangers were evident without the slightest appearance of success.
After serious consideration I came to the conclusion that it would not be prudent to go any further into these mountains, and I resolved to follow the stream which dipped to the west.
I could hardly find a passage for my troop through the sharp-edged stones and pebbles which obstructed it on all sides. I was obliged to cross from one side to the other according to the smaller or larger amount of obstacles which impeded our march, and sometimes to go into the bed of the stream, being up to our knees in water. Our boots were all torn and our feet full of wounds, and it was necessary in that state to pass over waterfalls and frightful precipices.
At about noon I stopped my troop in a place where some fern-trees grew, the trunks of which were about 10 inches in diameter. My young natives started cutting the trunk of one of them with their axes, and when it fell they were frightened by a snake which came in our direction. They uttered cries of alarm which warned us in time and enabled one of my soldiers to strike it on the head with a stick and kill it without much trouble.***
[*** This snake was 7 feet long and had a girth of 3 inches. The natives skinned it and roasted it with some portion of the trunk of the fern-tree which they ate with it.]
I picked up a great number of fossils rolled by the waters of the stream. I preserved only the most interesting fragments. This part of the stream is rather pleasant, as there is a great number of small trees, with dense foliage and full of birds' nests, which throw their shade on its banks. The high mountains, adjacent, are covered with trees, some of which are of a majestic height, and the whole offers to the view glimpses of very interesting scenery.
At 3 o'clock I continued my journey, still following the banks of the stream. I could hear the singing of pheasants of this country and other birds of a smaller species. I proceeded onward in this manner till 5 o'clock. From then to 6 o'clock I passed waterfalls of various heights, and I was at last stopped by a sheet of water 8 to 10 feet deep, the banks of which were cut perpendicularly and basin-shaped.
It was no use attempting swimming across, as the rocks on each side were perpendicular, and polished by the water, rendering the climbing on the other side an utter impossibility.
I sent one of my men to try a way at the rear, and when a quarter of an hour had elapsed he made his appearance on the other side of the basin. He had succeeded in reaching there by descending the mountain, but he assured me he was not better off, having at the back of him a series of basins which it was only possible to pass by going back to the mountain and walking round its side till coming to the last.
When he had returned I made my troop retrograde about fifty paces, and he pointed out to me the easiest way to reach the summit. We had at first to climb over rocks nearly 150 feet in height, full of very sharp points, after which we pursued our march to the west on the summit of the mountain, where I made my troop rest for a little while.
The rocks here are generally sandstone, in which various shells are imbedded. Several fragments bear the appearance of having fallen from the adjoining mountains, which stand at least half a mile higher than this, and are mainly perpendicular. The soil is very arid, but the trees generally high, although the situation of this place is quite similar to that where the trees are short and crooked. Having descended this mountain with difficulty, I found myself once more on the banks of the stream,* where I continued my march without encountering any obstacle till 8 p.m., when I decided to pass the night on a spot well protected by various kinds of brushwood.
[* This stream receives several springs which run down the mountains on both sides. Its current is very rapid, and there are marks on its banks which show that during freshets the water rises to from 15 to 20 feet. A large quantity of small trees and brushwood grow on its borders, and make a kind of shade inaccessible to the sun. The birds, which are here in great numbers, hang their nests, as if by a thread, to the branches of the trees. These nests are of a marvellous construction, having the shape of an ellipsis. The opening is in the centre, and the top part is so well covered that the heaviest rain cannot penetrate into it. There are never more than two eggs in each nest, and I noticed with attention that when they are hatched the mother takes great care in keeping the nest very clean. Every time it enters to feed its little ones it is seen coming out its claws laden with excreta, which it never neglects taking away every time it comes to the nest. This part abounds in various kinds of very dangerous reptiles.]
While our supper was being prepared I sent two men to examine the surrounding country, and they came back and told me that at a quarter of a mile in front of us there was a waterfall nearly 100 feet high.
I had seen some birds, which appeared to me of a new species. I shot several of them, which pleased me very much; and, among them, one, the head, neck and part of the back of which were scarlet on a black ground.
I found on the summit of this mountain two very old huts, with the trace of their fire. We went to-day over 16 miles of country. The thermometer marked—In the morning, 45° 0'; at noon, 71° 0'; in the evening, ——; westerly wind; very cold night. The trees are generally blue-gum, and yellow-gum, and a few stringybark.
On the 28th November I went round the neighbourhood to verify the correctness of the report made the previous day by the man I had sent.
I had a look at the waterfall, which did not appear to me to be so high as it had been reported to be; but the impossibility of passing over it was evident from the aspect of the perpendicular rocks which formed it, as well as those at the bases of the mountains against which it was standing.
I then seriously considered the situation in which I found myself, seeing no appearance of my being able to procure any beasts for the subsistence of my troop, except some snakes, which it was repugnant to eat, and which, moreover, had to be got at the risk of being poisoned by their bites.
Our provisions were nearly exhausted. The small quantity of rice and flour left did not allow of my continuing to advance in a country offering absolutely no resource.
The courage of my men was entirely abated, and nothing but the orders for the return journey would suffice to dispel their melancholy; therefore, I made them prepare everything to go back to the depôt. After having cut a cross of St. Andrew on a tree to indicate the terminus of my second journey, I returned by the same route I had come, and reached the banks of the river at 6 p.m.
The thermometer—In the morning, 57° 0 '; at noon, 76° 0'; in the evening, 61° 0'; westerly wind; very cold night.
On the 29th November I continued my march, still following the way I had come through, and at sunset I arrived at the passage which I had found on the 25th instant, where I stopped for the night in my old huts.
The thermometer—In the morning, 60° 0 '; at noon, 70° 30'; in the evening, 64° 0'; westerly wind; very cold night.
30th November.—I proceeded towards the depôt following still the same way. During this day I picked up a quantity of new plants, and at 6 o'clock I arrived at my old huts without any accident.
The thermometer—In the morning, 58° 0'; at noon, 89° 0'; in the evening, 67° 0'; southerly wind; excessive heat the whole day.
On the 31st November (sic) our march across the granite rocks was very laborious. My boots and those of my men were full of holes. The heat was unbearable till 5 o'clock, when the wind veered from west to south, and at 6 o'clock the storm began with rain and thunder. The rain continued all night.
Two of my men I had sent hunting came back at 7 p.m. with two kangaroos.
On arriving here I found that my huts had been burnt by the natives, and we had great trouble in erecting new ones.
The thermometer—In the morning, 58° 0'; at noon, 82° 0'; in the evening, 63° 0'; westerly wind until 5 p.m.; southerly for the rest of the day with heavy rain.
On the 1st December, I continued my return journey, still following the banks of the river, and I halted at its confluence with another creek.
The hunt of the previous day had procured good meals for my men, and was instrumental in making them regain their good spirits.
In the evening I went for a bathe in the river, where I took from among the aquatic plants some insects which appeared to me very interesting.
The thermometer—In the morning, 62° 0 '; at noon, 84° 30'; in the evening, 70° 30'; very calm westerly wind; very warm the whole day.
On the 2nd December, I started very early, being desirous of reaching the depôt in good time. At noon I made my troop rest on the border of the river, where they had a swim.
I continued my route at 3 o'clock, and several kangaroos came in sight of us, but it was impossible to shoot them. With one shot I killed two opossums, which one of the young natives had pointed out to me on a blue-gum; they belonged to a species called ring-tailed opossum.
I only reached the depôt at 8·30 p.m.; I found there one of my soldiers (Witthington) very ill.
The thermometer—In the morning, 64° 0 '; at noon, 85° 30'; in the evening, 78° 0'; very calm; westerly wind all day.
On the 3rd December, I made my men rest themselves after the fatigues of the day before. The soldier Witthington was getting worse. I was running short of provisions and I was not expecting any by the return of the waggon. I decided to go to meet it, and to send it back to Parramatta, with an order for fresh provisions; or, should I miss it on my way, to proceed to Parramatta and see to the sending of provisions myself.
I sent early in the morning two of my men to look for kangaroos, and towards the evening they brought a young male weighing about 50 lb.
The thermometer—In the morning, 67° 0'; at noon, 84° 0 '; in the evening, 77° 30'; southerly wind.
I left on the 4th of December at 5.30 a.m., accompanied by two men, carrying a few provisions.
I recommended the rest of my party staying at the depôt not to leave it without an express written order from me, and also to be very careful of their provisions, promising them a prompt relief.
I advanced, following the traces of the wheels of the waggon, and towards noon I took a rest on the banks of a creek. A little while after I heard the report of a gun, a circumstance which filled me with joy, as I was persuaded it could only have been fired by the drover of the waggon. I resumed my march at once, and after half-an-hour had elapsed my two young natives saw the escort, and a moment after came to tell me that Gogy and his child were there. The waggon was soon alongside of us. It did not bring any provisions, because they had been refused on account of their having no order from me. They only had what was necessary for the escort to reach the depôt.
I learnt from the drover that the Governor had sent three men to the plain where the wild cattle were, in the hope of their being able to catch some by means of traps which they were going to set. The Governor had promised these men great encouragements if they succeeded. I learnt at the same time that His Excellency had the intention of coming to visit the country accompanied by some of his friends, and satisfy his curiosity by examining wild cattle in herds. However, I had no intimation of this in the letter I received from him on that day.
I made the men of the escort take courage by giving them a glass of rum, and ordered the waggon to return towards the Cow Pastures. A little while after I saw an animal which I mistook for a kangaroo, but in advancing nearer I saw that it was two wild dogs, which barked for a long time whilst running away.**
[** There is a large number of these dogs in the Cow Pasture Plain. They allow people to go pretty near them, but in spite of that it is very difficult to kill any of them.]
Towards 8 p.m. I saw three natives in a valley to which we were going. They seemed to distrust us, and placed themselves in a defensive attitude; but when they saw the waggon which they had left in the morning they were soon reassured, and they received us as friends.
I made Gogy build a hut to shelter the effects which were in the waggon, and I established myself there for the night, taking care to use the barrel of rum as a pillow, fearing the indiscretion of my men.
In my hurry, when I left the depôt I had forgotten to take the thermometer, and I was sorry of that circumstance, which precluded me from giving the degree of heat of this part of the country.
On the 5th December I sent the waggon away, escorted by four men, to whom I gave my two young natives as guides, and whose orders were to bring back some provisions. I decided I would wait for their return, giving them express instructions to be back as quickly as they possibly could, as I was willing to attempt for the third time to find a passage across the Blue Mountains by following the second river, which, it appeared to me, came from the south-west.
I wrote about this intention to His Excellency, who, in his letters, always recommended me to the perseverance which was so necessary to the journey I had undertaken.
After the waggon had gone I went hunting with Gogy. I saw several kangaroos, but they were too shy for us to be able to shoot them. I came back at 11 o'clock with empty hands.
The men who had been sent to try and catch the cattle, and who had left here early in the morning, returned in the evening very tired and unsuccessful. They told me they had met a bull which was very lame from a wound inflicted by a spear thrown at him by some native defending himself, and which it still had in its side. This spear came three or four feet out of the side of the poor animal, and formed an acute angle with its legs.
Near 4 o'clock we heard thunder, but without rain. The heat of the day was unbearable, and I eagerly wished for some rain to fall. The wind was all day to the south, but very calm.
On the 7th December, I again went kangaroo hunting, but I was not more successful than on the previous days.
In crossing a dry rivulet, I discovered that its banks were composed of a kind of slate, very friable, the different strata of which became whiter and whiter in proportion as it went deeper into the ground, and formed themselves into various solid bodies, assuming the form of lozenges interspersed with crooked branches more or less extended. These lozenges are calcareous. Vitriolic acid causes them to effervesce.
The heat became so intense that I was obliged to seek a refuge in the hollow part of a rock in going up the rivulet.
A slight southerly breeze rose at about 5 o'clock, and rain commencing to fall I was compelled to go back to the camp.
The cattle hunters had no more success to-day than yesterday.
Whilst I was in the hollow rock my attention was attracted by a large number of rats, nearly of the same kind as ours, which live in holes they make in the ground and in the trunks of trees. The natives make them come out by lighting fires in the holes, and they then catch them with their hands.
On the 8th December we had southern wind, and the rain fell continually till 4.30 p.m. I went with Gogy in search of opossums, accompanied by his wife and child, who, on the way, were looking for the nests of large ants, the eggs of which they eat greedily.***
[*** These ants are very large and very plucky. They defend their habitations with an incredible obstinacy. Their sting causes a sharp pain, which lasts for a long time, and the natives take great care to protect their legs against it as much as they can. If they are hit with a switch they rush to it and bite it; and if they are pursued, they bite it while retreating, facing their aggressor all the time.]
I travelled the plain for a while, and Gogy, having detected on the trunk of a tree the fresh traces of an opossum, climbed it and caught two very large ones. He threw one down after he had killed it, but the other gave him more trouble. He was obliged to enlarge the hole where it was, and to draw it out with a crooked stick. He then threw it down alive and I shot it dead when, in trying to escape, it was climbing another tree. The two opossums were the only articles of food I could procure on that day. The wind kept to the south.
On the 9th December, rain and thundering all day long. The large branches of the trees under which our huts were standing were quite rotten, and, in falling, exposed us to the danger of being crushed under them.
At 6 p.m. a wild dog came at a short distance from our huts.
My greyhound chased and overtook it, but it came back after having given and received a few bites. Southerly wind all day.
On the 10th December, the weather having changed for the better, I sent two men hunting whilst I occupied myself with looking for plants. My hunters returned at 10 o'clock with a young kangaroo, which was of great help. As we were absolutely short of food. I had part of it prepared for our dinner, and arranged for the rest to be preserved for cases of need.
About 4 p.m. I saw a native coming. Gogy went to welcome him, and after a short conversation, they came and sat by my side.
I learnt from this native that Kelly had passed at Manhangle in the morning, accompanied by two men and one horse loaded with provisions, and that they had shot at them several times. He told me that himself and Wooglemai, whom I knew, were the only men in his party, the rest being women and children. They had been obliged to run away, and one bullet passed very near his shoulders. Having seen my camp, he had come to make his complaint to me.* When he had finished speaking, he took his net and gave me several swamp shells, which I liked very much. I gave him, in return, a joint of kangaroo, which he ate, and, picking up his axe and his net, he returned whence he had come.
[* It is not of any advantage, but, on the contrary, it is very dangerous, to offer any insult to the natives. They avenge themselves of it sooner or later, and the first white man they meet without means of defence becomes their victim. They make use of the most cruel tortures on the one they can catch, whoever he might be, without troubling in the least about enquiring whether he belonged or not to the party who ill-treated them.]
The weather was fair to-day and the heat moderate.
On the 11th December, thinking the waggon would very likely cross the river in the morning, I went with Gogy and two of my men to meet it. When I arrived at Manhangle I directed my march towards a fire I had caught sight of, and when I was thirty paces from it, the native pointed out to me a big wild dog lying in a bush.
I thought that if I hid myself I would be able to shoot it, but my greyhound had just perceived it, and running to it they started fighting. They fought for a while, then my dog let it go at a great distance from me.
Gogy told me that the fire I had reached by that time had been lighted by the native who had come to complain the day before.
I saw several natives on the bank opposite Manhangle, who, recognising Gogy, called him. He went to them after giving his new axe to his wife. He told me he would come to meet me at Barhagal.
On the 12th December, I sent the soldiers back under the guidance of a native, and I left with Gogy, his wife, and her brother, a very intelligent boy, who insisted upon following me.
After crossing the large creek, at about 6 o'clock, I met a superb black ox, which looked at me, without being frightened. I chased it, and it disappeared in the scrub.
Gogy set the country over which we were passing on fire to avenge ourselves on the natives who had burnt our huts. I arrived at the second creek at 5.30, where I found my huts burnt, and I continued to walk till 7.30 so as to get to the third creek, where I settled for the night.
I discovered here several traces of the natives who had passed with the women and the children on the previous clay, and who seemed to have directed their steps towards our depôt. I feared they might have molested the people I had left there, and this thought made me very uneasy.
The day was fair, with moderate heat. We had a nice southerly breeze. My men killed a large male kangaroo.
I started early on the morning of the 13th December. As before, I found my huts had been burnt, and I was at the depôt at 9 o'clock. I found everything in the same order as when I left, except that the sick soldier was much worse.
I thought it was necessary to send him away on the following day, and when I told him of his departure the satisfaction that news caused him seemed to diminish his sufferings.
I heard from a man in the depôt, who had gone hunting on the 12th, that he had met seven natives, who had stopped at a gunshot from him. He was then pursuing a big kangaroo, which on seeing the natives had stopped, turning its back on my man, who, having come nearer, placed himself behind a tree, and shot at the animal which fell with a hind-leg broken. This had rid him of the natives, who when they had heard the detonation, and seen the kangaroo fall, had taken to their heels, uttering great shouts.
While I was away, the people at the depôt lighted every night a large fire in front of the huts, and retired in some bush fifty paces behind, always having a sentry on duty to warn them in case any natives came. By this means they were insured against any surprise, and would have been able to easily disperse the natives without these latter even seeing them. At 9 o'clock in the evening, after having given the orders for the night, and placed the sentry at his post, I had some rum distributed to each of my men, and made them retire to their huts.
The day was very warm; lightning and thundering lasted till the evening with a little rain.
The thermometer—At noon, 90° 0 '; in the evening, 78° 0'.
On the 14th December the fog which cleared off about 10 in the morning was replaced by very fine weather, and I sent the waggon back with the patient and two men. I gave them Gogy's brother-in-law as a guide. I had had great trouble in persuading the latter to leave his sister, of whom he was very fond. I only decided him by giving him a soldier's vest.
After the waggon had gone I made my men clean their arms, and I got everything prepared for my departure. I limited to six the number of those who were to accompany me. I felt nearly certain of being successful this time, by following the river, the source of which must be in the mountains, which I could not reach.
Gogy told me that by following that river I would enter the territory of a tribe who do not use the whamharha. Their spears are much longer than those belonging to the natives of these countries, and they are made from branches of trees which they straighten with fire. These natives cannot throw their spears to a great distance, on account of the way they hold it. He also told me they were anthropophagi, and that we ought not to try and mix with them, because they would play us some nasty trick.** The thermometer—In the morning, 72° 0'; at noon, 96° 30'; in the evening, 80° 30'; westerly wind; intense heat.
[** While Gogy was telling me all that, I sometimes pretended to doubt his veracity, and burst out laughing. He then used to get quite angry, and told me in English: "Well, master, you will see that I am not a liar."]
On the 15th December I went away with my six men, leaving three well-armed soldiers at the depôt. I told Gogy to follow me. I had persuaded him to leave his wife at the depôt, and we had already proceeded 2 miles in the gorge, following a direction S. 75° 0', when we heard a woman's shouts. It was Gogy's wife, who would not, she said, stay at the depôt with strangers.
This incident put me to the inconvenience of having this woman and her child at my train, and I still continued marching in the gorge. On arriving at the first river the woman was exhausted, and I was obliged to halt near the water. Whilst dinner was being prepared I saw the country a mass of flames towards the north-east, at about 5 miles from us, near the mountains.
Gogy told me it was Goondel who, with his party, was hunting bandicoots, lizards, snakes, kangaroo rats, &c., and that we must not disturb him.
I saw he was frightened. I reassured him by saying that my intention was not to follow the banks of this river where we were, but to cross over to the other side after dinner in order to continue our march as far as my old quarters, where I expected we would spend the night. I did not want to hurry, as I had plenty of time to arrive there. I told him he need not be afraid at night, because I had my greyhounds, which would warn us should some strangers come. This way of reasoning appeared to satisfy him.
When at about 3 o'clock I was proceeding forward I was astonished to see Gogy with his child upon his shoulders marching in front. This was an indication that he would soon leave me.
We arrived in the evening at my old quarters, where I found my huts had been pulled down. Gogy put them up again. He closed one of their openings with branches from the trees, and he made a bed for himself by the fireside with the bark of tea-tree, which is very soft. The heat was excessive during the whole day.
The thermometer—In the morning, 70° 30'; at noon, 93° 20'; at 4 o'clock, 92° 50'; in the evening, 76° 0'; southern wind; sky cloudy.
On the 16th December Gogy came and told me that his wife not being able to follow us, he was obliged to go back to the depôt with her. It was but an excuse. The fact was that, being on the territory of Goondel, he was afraid of falling into the hands of that chief.*** He suspected that Goondel had discovered he had taken a part in the murder of his sister, and he was certain that he would not spare him should he succeed in seizing him. He kept continually on his guard and well armed when he was compelled to travel in his territory. I allowed him to go, and continued my march to the second river. On our way we killed a kangaroo.
[*** Gogy had told me long before my journey into the mountains that he had been obliged to fly to Goondel's to escape being punished for an offence he had committed. Goondel had kept him and hidden him, providing for all his wants with the greatest friendship. After he had stayed with him for a long time he left him to go to his people, whose anger had abated, and, after having submitted himself to the usual punishment, he was well received, and nobody made any allusion to the past. Unfortunately, having made an incursion with a friend of his, a great enemy of Goondel's, they had met a woman of this chief's tribe in the neighbourhood of Nattai. His friend pursued her, caught her, and, after having perpetrated upon her the usual brutalities, he killed her, and, having tied her to a tree, they cut off some of her flesh, which they grilled and ate.]
At 9 in the morning I arrived at my old hut, after having covered 5 miles. I did not stop walking until 11 o'clock, adding up 4 miles more, and I then halted for dinner.
At 3 in the afternoon I turned to the left of my old route, and after marching 1¾ mile, I came to a large swamp, which I crossed, following the traces of the kangaroos, which are very numerous here. In proceeding on this flat country I had the pleasure of pursuing many of them, but could not catch any.
Towards 6 in the evening I arrived on the banks of the river, opposite a large creek. I crossed it to establish myself for the night on a point formed by their junction. The trees I came across on my route to-day were the apple-trees. The soil is black, and the trees which grow in it are of such a height and are so beautiful that there cannot be any doubt as to the fertility of this soil. I have detected here no indication of the country being liable to inundation. My progress from the place where I left the old route, which is marked Ø,* was:—S., 1¾ mile; S. 65° W., 5 miles; in all, 6¾ miles. The thermometer—In the morning, 62° 0'; at noon, 83° 0 '; in the evening, 75° 0'.
[* In fact, a full cross inside a circle]
On the 17th December the westerly wind was so violent that in falling down the branches of the trees rendered our march very difficult. On proceeding further I found several trees nearly uprooted.
After progressing for 4 miles towards S. 24° E., the composition of the soil changed, and became a kind of whitish clay, covered with small pebbles, and absolutely bad. The trees were blue-gum, yellow-gum, ironbark, mahogany, &c. At noon I came in front of a mountain very remarkable on account of its pyramidal form. I shot a few wild ducks, which were the only game I could get. I then took a sketch of the country, and resumed my march, stopping my troop at 1 o'clock for dinner.
It was about 2 o'clock when I perceived a great volume of smoke coming from the west.
I sent some men to ascertain where it was coming from, but I could not obtain any particulars. The men I had sent returned very tired, and told me that after having ascended and descended several hills that had come to the base of the mountains, and that they had seen the smoke issuing from the other side of the range.
I resumed my march at 3.30 in the afternoon, going round various hills denuded of trees, which take rise in the mountains and slope down to the banks of the river nearly at right angles. The fallen rocks* and the precipices offered obstacles very difficult to surmount.
[* The falls are caused by torrents coming from the mountains. The astonishing ravages they make is evidenced by the large number of uprooted gigantic trees one sees there, and by the enormous rocks rolled down into the very bed of the river.]
I saw another column of smoke towards west-north-west, but I could not ascertain whether it was caused by the natives or some volcano. I was surrounded with mountains on all sides, the only passage I had being the banks of the river, which were often almost inaccessible. Besides, the more I advanced the more the river trended towards the south, and this fact left me no hope of being able to cross the mountains. I was simply following their bases, which had the appearance of a multitude of pyramids or cones, standing like as many detached sugar-loaves placed on top of one another.
Even supposing I could overcome all these obstacles, I would arrive at a chain of mountains the direction of which is about north and south, and the height of which, compared to that of the sugar-loaves, is immense. This chain of mountains, which is the one I had passed on the 23rd November, could only be ascended by making almost superhuman efforts.
I discovered at various places indications which left no doubt as to this country being inhabited, or at all events frequently visited, by the natives. From their own reports, they assemble there when they make incursions into enemies' territory, or when some troubadour comes with his party to sing and teach them a new song. This is a custom which seems to have extended even to these regions.
The country, generally speaking, is very sterile. No quadrupeds can be seen there, but, by way of compensation, reptiles of all kinds—snakes, lizards, &c., &c.—swarm about. Flies are rather scarce and very small. The change which the nature of the country presents after two days' walk is really surprising.
The trees are for the most part ironbark blue-gum, and yellow-gum, of a medium girth; however, some of them are really gigantic ones, but this is the exception. The base of the mountain is here of blue granite and the summit is full of caves of smaller or larger dimensions.
I stopped at 8.10 p.m. in a small plain to pass the night. I found there the ruins of very old huts belonging to the natives. One of my men who was trying to re-erect one, felt one of the most venomous kinds of snakes encircle his arm, and he could not get rid of it without exposing himself to the danger of dying from its bite. I would not stop in such a dangerous place, and I advanced till I reached the foot of a small hill, at which after having had the bush around us burnt down and by this means having put a barrier between us and the reptiles, I chose to make my troop rest for the night. My route to-day was—S. 26° 30' E. 3 miles; S. 44° 0' W. 2¾ miles; N. 58° 0' W. 1¾ mile; S. 38° 0' W. 12¼ miles; in all, 19½ miles.
The thermometer—In the morning, 60° 40': at noon, 77° 0'; in the evening, 61° 0': westerly wind.
On the 18th December I started on my way back to the depôt by the same route I had taken in coming over, arriving there on the 20th without accident. I found everybody in the same state as when I left, and I found that Gogy, tired of waiting for me, had returned to Prospect Hill with his wife and child.
The thermometer—In the morning of the 18th, 62° 0'; at noon, 77° 0'; in the evening, 64° 0'; very cold westerly wind. In the morning of the 19th, 68° 0'; at noon, 76° 0'; in the evening, 70° 0'; westerly wind. In the morning of the 20th, 68° 30'; at noon, 76° 0': in the evening, 70° 0'; southerly wind.
I left the depôt on the 21st December on my way to Sydney, taking three men with me, and I gave those I left behind the necessary orders for the arrangement of the effects they were to escort. I arrived in Sydney after three days' hard walking, and the kind reception extended to me by His Excellency quite compensated me for all my hardships, and, to some extent, consoled me for having failed in the accomplishment of what I had planned, viz., going over the Blue Mountains by the route I had thought of.
But, in the meantime, I was hopeful of being more successful
in another journey which I was contemplating to undertake towards
the west, starting from Jervis Bay.
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