Project Gutenberg Australia
a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership

 

Title: Looking for Leichhardt: the 19th Century.
Author: Compiled and edited by Ned Overton.
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 1305431h.html
Language: English
Date first posted: September 2013
Date most recently September 2013

Produced by: Ned Overton and Col Choat.

Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions
which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice
is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular
paper edition.

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this
file.

This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms
of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.

GO TO Project Gutenberg Australia HOME PAGE


Production Notes:

Some of the punctuation has been modernised.

D. McIntyre and D. M'Intyre are the same person.








Source: "Australasiatic Reminiscences" by Daniel Bunce [at P.G.A.]






"Looking for Leichhardt:
the 19th Century"



Edited by Ned Overton.




Preface

During some 20 years after the disappearance of Leichhardt's party in their 1848 attempt to overland to the Swan River, a number of search expeditions were mounted to look for traces of the party and to attempt to determine Leichhardt's fate.

Here are collected the original records of these focussed expeditions, together with other contemporary material regarding Leichhardt and his thinking around that time. This is not intended as an exhaustive compilation of all material bearing on the search for information on Leichhardt's fate; rather, it is a gathering of the major accessible materials. While none of the expeditions answered the ultimate question, they all took place at a time when the trail was still (relatively) "warm".

The websites external to Project Gutenberg Australia referred to here are likewise not intended as a comprehensive list.

The cut-off date for this collection is taken as the finding of the gun nameplate.

Ned Overton.   






CONTENTS.



   Introduction
 

1.

   "Leichhardt's Last Letters"

1.1

   Letter of 20 October, 1847

1.2

   Letter of 21 October, 1847

1.3

   Article of 1 June, 1848
 

2.

   Hely's Expedition, 1852
 

3.

   The Gregorys' North Australia Expedition, 1855-6
 

4.

   Augustus Gregory's Expedition from Moreton Bay, 1858
 

5.

   The Clarke Interlude

5.1

   Clarke's Letter to S.M.H., 30 July, 1858

5.2

   Clarke's Letter to S.M.H., 5 August, 1858

5.3

   Clarke's Letter to S.M.H., 24 August, 1858

5.4

   Clarke's Letter to S.M.H., 10 September, 1858

5.5

   Clarke's Letter to S.M.H., 20 October, 1858

5.6

   Clarke's Letter to The R.G.S. of London, November, 1858
 

6.

   Walker's Burke and Wills "Relief Expedition", 1861
 

7.

   "Ladies' Leichhardt Search Expedition"

7.1

   McIntyre's Search Expedition, 1865-6

7.2

   Extracts from Other McIntyre Documents

7.3

   McIntyre's Last Letter
 

8.

   Forrest's First Expedition, 1869
 

9.

   Finding the gun nameplate, ~1900
 

10.

   Sources
 
 

Map 1.

   Walker and Landsborough's Routes in their Search for Burke and Wills, 1861-2

Map 1A.

   Enlargement of the S.E Corner of Map 1.

Map 2.

   Gregorys' 1856 map, westernmost sheet, showing Sturt Creek






Introduction


About a year after completing his first, lauded, expedition to Port Essington, N.T., Ludwig Leichhardt's first attempt to journey overland to the Swan River left the Darling Downs (December 1846). The expedition proved abortive. The party arrived at the Peak Range, near Emerald (Qld.), by early May, 1847. By that stage, many of them had become seriously ill; Leichhardt decided after a month to abandon the expedition and return to the Darling Downs.

Soon after, he learnt of the progress and recent discoveries of Sir Thomas Mitchell and his deputy, Edmund Kennedy, and made a short journey west (his third expedition), to the Maranoa river and Fitzroy Downs.

Leichhardt then returned to Sydney to organise his last expedition, to try to achieve what he had set out to do on his second. About this time, he wrote two interesting letters to his brother-in-law (1.1, 1.2). He recruited a largely new and smaller party (there had been nine members of the second expedition). The party consisted of a relative, Augustus Classen; Arthur Hentig, a local overseer (also German); two local station workers, Donald Stuart and Mr. Kelly; rounded out with his loyal aboriginal, Wommai (who, with Leichhardt, were the only members of the second expedition), and Billy, another aboriginal man. Leichhardt chose not to take Daniel Bunce, who had been on both the second and third expeditions.

This fourth expedition party left Macpherson's Station on the Darling Downs in early April, 1848 (1.3), heading north-west, destination Swan River, and was not heard from again.

Over the next twenty years, three expeditions were mounted specifically to search for traces the Leichhardt party:

* Hovenden Hely's, 1852 (2.; Hely was a member of Leichhardt's second expedition);

* Augustus Gregory's, 1858 (4.); and

* Duncan McIntyre's, 1865-6 (6.).

Some of these search parties found several marked trees but produced few other tangible or definitive results.

Shortly after the outcome of Augustus Gregory's search was known, Leichhardt's firm friend, Rev. W.B. Clarke, critiqued the search expeditions to date in detailed letters, to both the Sydney Morning Herald (5.1-5.5) and the Royal Geographical Society of London (5.6). Leichhardt had shared his plans for Swan River with Clarke after returning from his Maranoa expedition, the journal of which Clarke published about a year after his letters to the Herald.

In addition to these three specific search expeditions, three others of relevance were mounted between 1855 and 1870, the third given specific instructions to stay alert for any traces of Leichhardt; these were:

* The Gregory Brothers' North Australian expedition of 1855-6. (3.);

* Frederick Walker's "Victorian Relief Expedition", searching for Burke and Wills toward the end of 1861. (6.); and

* John Forrest's first expedition, east from Perth in 1869. (8.)

Of these, only Walker found any traces of Leichhardt's trail, around 145°E, 22°S. Apart from these three, other parties may possibly have crossed Leichhardt's path; for example, John McDouall Stuart. Few records of pertinent observations remain.

About 1900, a burnt firearm with a nameplate marked "LUDWIG LEICHHARDT 1848" was discovered by an Aboriginal man, known as 'Jackie', in a boab tree near Sturt Creek, between the Tanami and Great Sandy Deserts.

The Gregory map of the Sturt Creek region, from their 1855-6 expedition, is located at the end of the work, to give some idea of the geography of the region where the nameplate was found. Note that Gregory found no traces of Leichhardt in this area in 1856.

Apart from a number of private letters, the accounts of the listed expeditions cover the bulk of the information unearthed during the 19th century about the fate of Leichhardt and his party.

The University of Goettingen has a very comprehensive site about the personal side of Leichhardt; such information may be sourced here.

Full accounts of the extensive explorations of the Gregorys, McDouall Stuart and the Forrests are all found at the Project Gutenberg Australia website. They have not been duplicated here.





A summary of Leichhardt's activities in the 18 months prior to his departure on his fatal expedition, together with the subsequent search activities, follows:


10 Dec., 1846 L.L. leaves on Second Expedition from last stop on Darling Downs.
Party: L.L., Heinrich Boecking, Harry Brown, Daniel Bunce, Hovenden Hely, John Mann, James Perry, Henry Turnbull, Wommai ["Jemmy"].
5 May, 1847 L.L. reaches furthest point: Peak Range (near present Emerald).
23 July, 1847 L.L. returns to Darling Downs (Blyth's) from Second Expedition.
30 July, 1847 L.L. writes letter to Lt. Robert Lynd from Russell's Cecil Downs; published in S.M.H., 21 August 1847.
9 Aug., 1847 L.L. leaves on Third Expedition from Cecil Downs to Maranoa River and Fitzroy Downs.
Party: L.L., Daniel Bunce, Fred Isaac, James Perry, Wommai.
20 Sep., 1847 L.L. returns from Third Expedition to Cecil Plains.
9 Oct., 1847 L.L. arrives in Sydney on "Tamar"; his summary of Third Expedition published in S.M.H., 11 October 1847.
20-21 Oct., 1847 L.L. writes two letters to his brother-in-law in Germany (1.1, 1.2)
4 Dec., 1847 L.L. leaves Sydney on Fourth Expedition.
Early April, 1848 L.L. writes to S.M.H. (1.3), then departs Darling Downs on fourth expedition overland to the Swan River, W.A.
Party: L.L., Augustus Classen, Arthur Hentig, Mr. Kelly, Donald Stuart, Wommai and Billy.
April-July, 1852. Hovenden Hely, on Instructions of the Governor, conducts the first search expedition for L.L. Party includes Harry Brown from 2nd Expedition. (2.)
June-July, 1856 As part of their North Australia Expedition, Henry C. Gregory (assistant commander; with F. von Mueller) searches around Albert River. Finds white man's camp on 13 July 1856, 160 km S.W. of the route of Leichhardt's first expedition (to Port Essington) (3.)
Jan.-July, 1858 Augustus C. Gregory conducts a search expedition from point of Leichhardt's departure near Mt Abundance. (4.)
July to Oct., 1858. Five letters from Rev. W.B. Clarke published in the S.M.H.—Leichhardt and the Desert. (5.1-5.5)
22 Nov., 1858. Another letter from Rev. W.B. Clarke published in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London. (5.6)
Sept.-Dec., 1861 Frederick Walker leads the "Victorian Relief Expedition", searching for traces of Burke and Wills. (6.)
July, 1865-June, 1866 Duncan McIntyre, pastoralist, heads the "Ladies' Expedition", searching for traces of Leichhardt.(7.1, 7.2)
4 June, 1866 Duncan McIntyre dies; "Ladies Leichhardt Search Expedition" ends with expiry of contracts.(7.3)
April-Aug., 1869 John Forrest's first expedition, in W.A., in part searching for remains of Leichhardt and his party.(8.)
About 1900 Jackie, an aboriginal man, finds Leichhardt's gun's brass nameplate in a boab tree near Sturt Creek, W.A. (9.)






1. "Leichhardt's Last Letters"

1.1. Letter of 20 October, 1847

THE LAST LETTERS WRITTEN BY LEICHARDT.[sic]


In accordance with our promise made a few days ago we now present our readers with a translation of some interesting letters of Leichardt to his relatives in Germany, written during the summer of 1847-48. The first has reference chiefly to the unsuccessful expedition, or rather the unsuccessful start which he made previous to his final departure. It records in a manner which is now almost painful to reflect on the many difficulties he encountered and the disappointments he experienced; while, on the other side, the noble ambition which animated him appears equally affecting. It is a matter of regret that very few details of his early life are obtainable. He was born in the small village of Betskow, near Berlin, where his father was a clergyman. After the usual course of education at the Volkschule and the Gymnasium he studied medicine at the Berlin University. The passion for scientific exploration, which Humboldt awakened among his countrymen, manifested itself in Leichardt at a very early age. He went to London as soon as he had completed his studies, not even waiting to perform the three years' military service which is incumbent on all Prussian citizens on pain of outlawry, and other still more disagreeable consequences. Afterwards, when he had proved that he could be as useful to his country on a foreign shore as in the Betskow Infantry, a royal dispensation was granted him, otherwise he could not have returned to his native land without danger of imprisonment as an incipient traitor. In London he found encouragement and assistance in his designs, especially from a gentleman who is referred to in one of the following letters. This gentleman gave him the means of preceeding to Australia, where his persevering and enthusiastic devotion to science gained for him the reputation with which all of us are familiar, and perhaps also a fate which we shudder to think of.

It is only courteous to repeat here that the originals have been furnished to us by Dr. Schomburgk, who received them from his brother in Berlin. They were given to the latter by Alex. Von Humboldt, the distinguished naturalist, who obtained them from Leichardt's family. The first letter is in two parts written at different times. At present we shall only have space to give the first of these:—

"Sydney. October 20, 1847.   

My Dear Brother-in-Law—Here I am back again from a journey of discovery, not in the glow of success, with flags waving and a nation's applause resounding in my ears, but exhausted with illness, and my companions each more dissatisfied than the other. In order to lead them back to the fleshpots of Egypt, I found myself obliged to return before I had even entered the unexplored country. The causes of this failure may he described as follows:—In the first place the young men I had with me were not experienced bushmen. They belonged to Sydney, and had been accustomed to the easy effeminate style of city life. Their constitutions wanted that elasticity which would have enabled them when overtaken by illness to recover fast, and their minds were unfit to take a contented self-adapting view of circumstances; in short, they could not confine their attention to the present but were always looking back to the pleasures and comforts they had left behind them in Sydney. Their whole interest in the undertaking was pecuniary and selfish. They expected that at the return of the expedition they would be rewarded with Government appointments and public money. Having witnessed our reception in Sydney on our return from Port Essington they thought to win similar laurels, overlooking, however, the difficulties that lay in the way. Once started on the journey when the difficulties commenced, their firmness was suddenly shaken. Instead of remembering their former professions of gratitude to me for taking them with me, they began to regard me as a hard taskmaster, and to distrust me as if I wished to take an unfair advantage of them. In my first expedition I had only oxen with me, which we used for the transport of stores, and slaughtered one by one as we required them for consumption. From the very first we limited ourselves in our daily rations, and lived for the most part on dried beef. The consequence was that we soon acquired a first rate appetite and a sound digestion. On this last expedition, however, we had mules for transport, and cattle besides for consumption— 38 oxen, 290 goats, and 108 sheep. We began with the sheep, killing one almost every day. They were in splendid condition, but one sufficient for only nine men. We had but little bread and no vegetables to counterbalance this large amount of animal food. Very frequently our healths got deranged, and our bodies became peculiarly susceptible to disease. This evil was aggravated when the rainy season came on, and we had to cross swollen rivers, marching for hours in damp clothes, and sleeping night after night on the damp ground. At length one of the overflooded streams brought us to a standstill, and as there was no alternative but to cross it we had to remain for three weeks on this side before we could do so. The past season has been extremely wet throughout the whole colony, and the "three days' fever" has broken out in places where it had never before Mackenzie this fever had so weakened the party that we had to camp three weeks longer on the other side. Even then it was only by sheer force I could get the party to advance, and in this way we proceeded 70 miles further. Then the growing discontentment of my comrades broke out openly. They would not undergo the least exertion or risk to assist me or my blacks. What little they did was done badly; and altogether they were more of a hindrance than a help to us. To complete my misfortunes the goats went astray, then the few remaining oxen, and lastly some of the mules and horses. Our only hope of escape was a speedy return. Hitherto I had not suffered much from ill health, but now I was seized in all my joints-fingers, arms, back, and knees—with the most dreadful rheumatism, which rendered me so helpless that I could neither mount nor dismount from my horse. On reaching Mr. Russell's station at Darling Downs, I remained there a fortnight to recruit after which I felt sufficiently strong for another journey of five or six hundred miles, which I wished to undertake in order to determine the course of the Condamine, and generally to investigate the district intervening between my previous explorations and Sir Thomas Mitchell's. I accomplished this journey in about six weeks, and in the process effectually rid myself of rheumatism, by exposing the affected parts to the scorching influence of an Australian sun, which acted like a blister. Then I hastened back to Sydney to make preparations for a new expedition. Before I left Darling Downs, I had the pleasure to hear of five of my mules having found their way back to the settled districts. This will be a considerable saving to me. It will cost at least £200 to equip a fresh expedition. My original outlay for the last was about £650, so I shall have to be altogether £850 out of pocket. In Germany that would be thought a great deal of money, and even here it is a very nice sum; but I live, I exist alone in this undertaking, and leave God to provide for the future. In your welcome letter you give me some very good advice: but I cannot follow it for it goes against my nature and my ambition. I am urged on by an irresistible impulse to study the physical character of this country, and solve if possible its enigmas. To a man of science it presents a vast and beautiful field of research. Had I the right sort of companions I could wander through the Australian wilds happy as the son of an Irish king: but to find such is extremely difficult Most of those who offer themselves to me are young men of unsound constitutions and loose habits, who are reduced to a last shift for a livelihood. The members of my first expedition were, with two exceptions, all boys, so that I was able to enforce obedience and order amongst them. In my next I shall have with me Mr. [C]lasse[n], a well educated young man from Hamburg, who, during 12 years of travel in all quarters or the globe, has undergone numerous hardships, and thus qualified himself for work like mine.

"My friendly host, Mr. Lind, is under orders for New Zealand, the doings of the natives there having rendered additional soldiers necessary. Therefore I must look out for another home. For myself I can find a hospitable roof anywhere, but I require besides a safe place for my continually increasing collections—a place where they will not only be protected from the weather, but where I can have convenient access to them when I have leisure to study.

"I long to see once more my dear mother, and you all; but there is no hope of that till I have wandered through and through this great continent which probably will not be in less than two or three years. I suppose I shall hardly recognise Germany again, the railways will have so completely altered its character and appearance. What think you are men coming to? To what will such discoveries as that of chloroform lead? will they rot transform us into effeminate pain-dreading creatures, unable to bear patiently the least suffering or privation? Then, should a wild, warlike horde burst forth again from the East the age might return when the corrupt enervated Roman was overthrown by the energetic child of nature. A retrograde element is also manifesting itself in our educational system. Everything is being made easy and superficial. Whereas, in times past, one had to split his head with reading and thinking, he now acquires knowledge by a mere glance at a diagram, or a figure, or a popular handbook. May not this be carried too far? Will not such students naturally fear and shrink from serious study? A union of the two would answer well, but the inherent indolence of man inclines him to skip the difficult passages fast enough without any artificial inducement."




1.2 Letter of 21 October, 1847


THE LAST LETTERS WRITTEN BY LEICHARDT.


(Continued from the Register of January 15.)
No. 2.— To his Brother-in Law.

Sydney. October 21, 1847.   

I had hardly finished my last letter to you when Mr. Holt called, with a boy at his heels, carrying an immense portfolio. "I have received," said he, "this portfolio from a business friend in the Cottbus, and the address will give you further information about it." I looked at the address accordingly, and saw on it your dear name. In half a minute I had the parcel open, and was searching among newspapers and religious tracts for a letter. By-and-by I hailed with delight your own writing, and a portrait of my beloved mother. Unfortunately the glass of the daguerreotype was broken, but the portrait was not much injured. Mr. Link says the latter is very like myself; that I would only need to shave my beard and put on a cap to become identical in appearance.

But how shall I thank you for your friendly exertions in procuring for me the royal pardon? * It is, I assure you, a very comfortable thought to be at peace with one's Fatherland—to be able, unhindered and unapprehensive, to return to it, and to have before me the prospect of again seeing my friends, even if fate on other grounds should not permit the wish to be realized. To a freeman that little word "can" is the sweetest in the language. The Cabinet order perfectly satisfies me; even the conditional clause I accept It was necessary, of course, for His Majesty to be self-consistent. What his Government deemed itself obliged to refuse me when an unknown petitioner it cannot pant me now simply because I have become known, for had the request been right in its opinion it would nave been granted in the first instance, for myself, I was not dissatisfied with the general principle of military duty, but only that the Government did not think it had the power in special cases to make exceptions therefrom. When Mr. Nicholson ** left Berlin the question with me was whether I could be of greater service to my country and to science by getting thoroughly trained in the greatest Museums of Europe, and then travelling as an explorer in remote parts of the world, or by spending a year in military evolutions on the "Kopeneker Feld" (exercise-ground near Berlin). The Government decided for the latter; I for the former. I did wrong by following my own inclinations and transgressing the law-that is, the law as a dead inflexible power, which could not be modified by the guiding hand of reason.

[* This refers to Leichardt having quitted Prussia without fulfilling his term of military service. By so doing he tendered himself an outlaw and liable to punishment if ever afterwards found on Prussian soil. The context will show how well he acted at this critical juncture of his life in sacrificing himself to the letter of the law, in order, in a nobler sense, to serve his country and science also.]

[** We presume Sir Charles Nicholson, the eminent geographer, or one of the same family.]

But enough of this. Often have I talked myself over it into a fury of excitement: and the English, I can assure you, were more inclined to fan the flame than to check it. Then I have consoled myself with the hope of once more belonging to the Fatherland. Now that it is accomplished, there rises within me, in spite of myself, a feeling of pride at my being indebted for my good fortune to men whose achievements in science are to boyhood like fairy tales, which fire youth with ambition, and at length constrain it to follow in the same noble course. How often has Count Puckler, in the eagle flight of his investigations, drawn me after him and filled my breast with a longing towards those higher regions through which he soared free and at ease, scanning with keen glance all the heights lie passed, intuitively apprehending the characteristic features of every country and people lie visited, faithfully and attractively representing them. And Humboldt? His example was and is continually before my eyes. I strove after him, but felt always that my resources were far too limited to emulate his achievements. I mean him, the explorer of America—not the great contemplative philos[o]pher who now turns to so important account the hoarded experience of his youth.

In my explorations the great difficulty has been the length of time and the distance to which I have been removed from the settled districts of the colony and from all possible assistance. At present I am obliged to limit to the utmost the number of my party and the quantity of supplies. Much of the drudgery, and the heaviest kind of it, too, I shall have to do myself. Our stinted mode of life in a tropical climate, combined with our daily exertions, causes great fatigue, especially to the feet When we have finished our day's march, and pitched our camp for the night, it often requires the greatest resolution to overcome this fatigue so far as to enable me, to make scientific observations. When away from the vicinity of rivers I am obliged often to ride from 30 to 50 miles ahead of the party to look for water. On such occasions my companions—excepting a black, who is my constant and faithful attendant—remain in the camp. As I have said before, it is extremely difficult to keep the party in order and obedience. When they act openly it does not so much matter; for them my procedure and motives are patent, and I am in a position to convince the malcontents, or at least the others, of their mistake. When, however, they act secretly and underhand, then the whole camp gets perverted and my plans neutralized. This circumstance I believe caused the failure of my hut expedition. One sauve qui peut can shake the strongest resolutions, and disorder the best laid schemes.

Your news of our family and of the great movements which have taken place lately in the Church and State are to me extremely interesting. It appears much is expected from the Prussian Constitution. People here are curious to see how freedom will develop itself in a nation which has hitherto been recognised as the best educated in the world. How, they ask, will the feeling of freedom manifest itself, and how will the Princes tolerate its youthful excesses? The Prussian, it is true, is well educated, but not politically. In respect of the latter he has yet to pass through a severe school. Equitable representation of every popular interest, calm discussion; clear, candid, straightforward speech; an Executive which respects the opinions of the popular representatives, and honestly gives effect to their well-matured, well-balanced decisions: all working for the general good, and not pandering to private interests—these are the fruits of a plant which grows but slowly.

Many of the sermons you have sent me are extremely able, and do honour to the German language as well as to their authors. But why have you sent me nothing in the shape of German poetry? Have all our bards gone to sleep, and has the present age found no poetic expression worthy of itself? The thought has grown with us—it is natural to us—that great times produce great poets. As for these tunes in which we live I cannot help thinking that they are specially important Since my return from my three years' sojourn in the wilderness I have again perused Schiller's poems. What noble, magnificent language is theirs! What an intensity of feeling burnt in the soul of the great poet! Never has music made so strong an impression upon me as one stormy night, during my voyage from England to Sydney, when the sea rushed and foamed beneath the keel of the ship as she glided swiftly along. For a long time I had been listening to the vague confused noise; then a sudden impulse took me into the cabin of one of my fellow-passengers, Mr. Marsh, who was an exquisite performer on the harp. As I entered he was playing a very beautiful and pathetic fantasia, the harmonious tones of which, after the wild discordant chorus of tho wind and waves, affected me so powerfully and yet so agreeably that the tears rushed into my eyes. Just such a feeling seized me again in reading Schiller; and how vividly does the great poet himself describe it, considering that he can never have known it by experience—

"Even as a child, that after pining
For the sweet absent mother, hears
Her voice, and round her neck entwining
Young arms, vents all his soul in tears;
So, by harsh custom far estranged,
Along the glad and guileless track,
To childhood's happy home unchanged,
The sweet song wafts the wanderer back—
Snatched from the cold and formal world and
       prest
By the Great Mother to her flowing breast."
Bulwer Lytton's Translation.

As to the proposed publication of my letters I have simply to observe that I rejoice, of course, at their being considered worthy of such an honour, not alone by tho indulgent partiality of friends, but in the opinion of competent unbiassed judges.

I remain, your affectionate brother,

LUDWIG LEICHARDT.   




1.3 Article of 1 June, 1848


NEWS FROM LEICHHARDT.

We had the pleasure yesterday of receiving a letter from Dr. Leichhardt, containing an account of his journey as far as Fitz Roy Downs, which we are sure will be read with interest. It is not probable that any more will be heard of the enterprising traveller until the middle of next year. He and his party were all well, and in good health and spirits:

Sheep station at Mount Abundance,   
April 4th, 1848.

As it will be interesting to many of your readers to know a little more about the country intervening between the last station at the Condamine, belonging to Mr. Birell, and the stations on Fitz Roy Downs, belonging to Mr. Macpherson, I take the liberty of sending you the following short account of my journey from Birell's to this place. I left Mr. Birell's the 23rd March, and travelled twelve miles west by south, to make one of my old camps on Dogwood Creek, in lat. 26.53. Having accomplished so much, I continued for about three miles down Dogwood Creek, which makes a considerable sweep to the northward. The 24th, I continued about two miles down Dogwood Creek, crossed at a rather boggy crossing place, and kept on westerly course for about six miles, when I met a good sized creek, on which I encamped. We passed some fine country, and the higher part of the creek was, according to Mr. Hentig, very beautiful, consisting of sound very open box ridges and undulations. I think that this creek is the outlet of the Emu Creeks, which Mr. F. Isaacs is going to occupy. The 25th, we travelled again to the westward for the first few miles over a fine country, passed some bricklow scrub, which can be skirted with a dray, crossed a chain of lagoons or water-holes, entered again bricklow scrub, out of which we came into the waters of Sandy Creek or the Gregor, as Mr. Archer and Chauvel called the larger western branch of it. Even this scrub can be avoided. We camped on the Gregor in lat 26.52. The 26th we travelled about ten miles up the Gregor in a north-west by north direction, and passed its junction with another creek from the left, which keeps the name of Sandy Creek, which I had formerly given to the joined creeks. Sandy Creek is without water, but the Gregor is admirably supplied, and is rather larger in lat. 26.46 where I left it, than lower down. The country along its banks as well as towards the next river to the westward is tolerably open, but poor and sandy, and abounds in cypress pine. I am inclined to believe that the Gregor will turn out to be my Robinson's Creek, to which I came in lat. 25.30 on my former expeditions. The 27th March we continued our journey about nine miles west-north-west, and camped on Horsetrack River, in lat. about 26.43. We passed no scrub, but as I mentioned before the country was open and poor. The Horsetrack River had decreased in size much more than I expected from what I had seen in lat. 27., about seventeen miles more to the southward; but there I had met with scrub and nasty broken country, which was wanting here. The 28th, we travelled about sixteen or eighteen miles due west, and encamped on the Yahoo River of my former trip. We passed three small creeks with temporary water, and a tolerable open sound country—(box forest, with a good deal of underwood, and some very fine silver-leaved ironbark undulations); but at nine miles distance we came into bricklow scrub, and had to pass a very heavy scrubby sandstone ridge, from which we dropped again into bricklow scrub, through which we travelled for five miles, when we came to a small myal creek that led us down to the Yahoo River, the left banks of which were fine and open. From Birell's to this ridge and scrub a dray could pass without difficulty. Seventeen miles lower down, a dray could pass easily between Horsetrack River and the Yahoo River. It is consequently to be hoped that even near to my present line a careful examination will discover good openings. From the ridge we saw large plains surrounded with scrub to the west-north-west. The 29th, we travelled scarcely two and a half miles, through myal scrub, when we came to another large creek, which no doubt is one of the branches of Yahoo River. From this creek we continued for seven miles farther to the west-north-west, over very fine but scrubby myal downs, and encamped on a small creek with fine water holes, which I considered to belong to Frederick's Creek of my former trip. The myal downs were all connected with sound pebbly ground and most richly provided with grass and herbage. The 30th March, we travelled for about ten and a half miles west by south, mostly through thick bricklow scrub, and encamped on a large creek, which I considered to be Bunce's Creek. Our latitude was 26.43. There were downs on the right side of the creek, which increased according to Mr. Hentig up the creek, which takes its rise from Grafton Range. These downs were according to him very large, treeless, a most beautiful undulating country; but he saw barriers of forest land and scrub to the westward and southward. The creek did not appear well supplied with permanent water, but there were several small lagoons, between which and the creek we encamped. The 31st March, we travelled eight and a half miles west by north, when we encamped on another good sized creek. On our march we found the downs next to our camp did not continue far to the westward, but that they changed into bricklow scrub with open patches; at about four miles and a half we crossed a creek which was larger than that on which we had camped, and appeared better provided with water; the country on its bank was very open; in some cypress pine thickets we observed numerous old cattle tracks, which we met again in going to the next creek, on which we camped in lat. 26.41. This latter creek I distinguished by the name of M. Creek, as Mr. Hentig found that letter on one of the trees not far off our camp. We ascertained afterwards that Mr. Macpherson has taken possession of the upper part of this creek to form a cattle station, and that he has put already some of his cattle on it. The 1st April, we travelled about eleven miles and a half west by south over a succession of beautiful downs, with patches of bricklow scrub and forest land. Myal abounded on the open scrub, silver-leaved ironbark and box formed the timber of the forest, the ground was excellently grassed, mostly pebbly and no doubt sound. The little creek on which we camped was surrounded with myal; the water appeared however only temporary. The 2nd April, we travelled ten miles west-north-west over most beautiful downs, with belts and patches of scrub, particularly to the south-west and west; to the northward (north-west by north) we saw two distant hills; to the eastward we saw the blue Grafton Range; to the west-north-west a scrubby short range composed of two swelling hills and a hillock proved to be Mount Abundance. The whole country between Mount Abundance, the Northern Hills, and Grafton Range, is an open almost treeless stretch, which is beautiful indeed, and deserves Sir Thomas Mitchell's calling it "a splendid region," the ground is sound, the grass and herbage is excellent. Very probably M. Creek or Bunce's Creek form the eastern limits of these downs; the ranges of the Maranoa and Amby the western; the distance from Mount Abundance to Bunce's Creek is about 25 to 30 miles. We travelled rather on their southern extremity, where the scrubs encroach on the open country; but from M. Creek to the Cogoon on the west side of Mount Abundance water was either evidently only temporary, even in M. Creek the water-holes were entirely absent, or the water-holes were neither reedy nor did they possess any water-plants. Damasoniums, villarsias, potamogetons, which characterise permanent waters.

The 3rd April, we travelled over the scrubby grass of Mount Abundance to the W.N.W., and came after three or four miles to the principal branch of the Cogoon, and to one of Mr. Macpherson's sheep stations, the head station being about four miles more to the southward. Even the Cogoon in its upper course is badly supplied with permanent water, by far less than Bunce's Creek, Frederick's Creek, and the Yahoo River. I call the attention of the squatter particularly to Frederick's Creek, the head of which deserves a careful examination.

I travelled consequently from Birell's to Mount Abundance in eleven days, over about 118 miles; I found the greatest obstacles between the scrubby ridge six to seven miles east of the Yahoo, and between Bunce's Creek, a distance of twenty-five miles. All the other country could be easily passed by drays.

We were most kindly received and treated wherever we came, and had even to refuse kind offers of cattle, fearing that strange cattle added to our own, which are remarkably quiet and steady, might unsettle the latter. I cannot speak in too high terms of my present party, who seem to me well qualified for the long and tedious journey which is before us. We have killed our first bullock at this station to obtain the necessary provisions to carry us to the Victoria. We have been extremely favoured by the weather; our mules and bullocks are very quiet, and we have travelled from Canning Downs to Fitz Roy Downs without any accident and without interruption, (with the exception of four days stopping at Mr. Russell's) from the 3rd of March to the 3rd of April.






{Page 219}

Hely's Expedition, 1852

2. EXPEDITION IN SEARCH OF DR. LEICHHARDT:

Equipped by the New South Wales Government.


Report by Hovenden Hely, Leader of the Expedition.


The Hon. R.D Meagher, M.L.A., Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Sydney, has courteously permitted a copy of the original report of this Expedition to be made for this Society from the N.S.W. Parliamentary records. All published reports of this Expedition are out of print.



Camp at Surat,
Balonne River,
22nd July, 1852.

I do myself the honor to inform you of my return with my party from our late journey to the north-western interior, for the purpose of gaining intelligence from the natives frequenting the earlier parts of Dr. Leichhardt's exploration, relative to the fate of that Gentleman and his companions: and to lay before you, for the information of His Excellency the Governor-General, an account of my journey and its results.

In accordance with your instructions directing me to proceed to Peak Range, via the Dawson, and thence to the westward in search of Sir Thomas Mitchell's track, in hopes of thereby falling in with that of Dr. Leichhardt, I had left Darling Downs, and was proceeding on that route, when being encamped in the vicinity of Dog-wood Creek, I received an express communication from Mr. Commissioner Whitty, of the Maranoa District, to the effect that a man named Walker, who had been out collecting cattle in the Mount Abundance country, had just come into Surat, bringing in a report received by him from the natives, of the murder of a party of white men with horses, &c., on a creek distant ten days' journey from Mount Abundance; and that some of these natives had seen the remains, and had offered to guide him {Page 220} thereto. Under these circumstances I deemed it advisable at once to change my route and proceed to this place, and test the truth of the rumour.

Of my proceedings after this; of having engaged Walker, in order, through him, to procure the services (if possible) of the two natives; and of my having started from this place, and been compelled to return from Mount Bindango by the scarcity of water; and of having dispatched Captain Anderson, with Walker and another man, to bring out more rations and other mules, and if possible to procure two other natives as guides or interpreters; I have already informed you by my letters, dated Surat, 22nd April, and Uckabilla, 8th May. I shall therefore proceed to a detail of my proceedings from the latter date up to the period of my return here, on the 20th instant.

A heavy fall of rain immediately after his departure delayed the return of Captain Anderson for a week, and I was in hopes that it had extended so far to the north-west as to fill all the creeks and water-courses in my probable route; in this expectation, however, I was disappointed, as I afterwards found that the rain had not extended beyond Mount Bindango, the very spot from which I had been previously driven back.

When Captain Anderson returned, bringing with him extra mules and rations, I found that Walker had succeeded in obtaining the services of two natives, one a "Combo", a leading man amongst the Balonne and Mount Abundance tribes, as interpreter, and the other a "Coppi", a young man who had just come into stations for the first time, from a long distance to the north-west, and who professed to know all about the murder of the white men, and said that he had seen the very place, and the remains of bones, guns, saddles, &c.; that it was twelve days' journey, and on a creek this side of Bunderabrilla. They had both stipulated that they were to receive rations and ride on horseback, and on the return of the party be rewarded each with a tomahawk, shirt, and tobacco.

I accordingly once more left Uckabilla, and proceeded towards Mount Abundance, but after one day's journey I was again detained for three days by another {Page 221} heavy fall of rain, which made the ground too heavy for the loaded mules to travel; but I finally reached Mount Abundance on the 29th May.

It is here worthy of remark, as proving that the natives must, from the very first, have in some manner known every movement of this party, which they afterwards killed, that in riding across the Fitz Roy Downs, and in sight of the Grafton Range, "Coppi" informed me, through the medium of "Combo" (the former not knowing one word of English) "that the whitefellows whose remains we were going to see had not come this way (meaning the way we were pursuing) but had left the river and gone up the Yeulba Creek to those hills (pointing to the Grafton Range) and thence across the Downs to Mount Abundance." This was voluntary information on his part, as I was riding ahead at the time, not speaking to either of them, and I know it to be correct, having heard on Darling Downs that Leichhardt had run up the Horse Track Creek (Yeulba) to the Grafton Range, and thence due west to Mr. Macpherson's station at Mount Abundance, whence he took his final departure.

On the following day we remained in camp, in order to mend hobbles, of which nearly every pair had been broken during the late wet weather; and the next day made our final start, under the guidance of "Coppi," who took the same direction round to the northward of Mount Bindango, and on the third day we encamped on the Amby or Tina Montil Creek. Here the two blacks began to show signs of having gone far enough, telling us that there was no more water between us and the Culba, and that blackfellows would kill us, and so forth. I could very easily believe the former statement, as there had evidently been no rain at all in this direction, and we were then encamped on a small isolated waterhole in the creek, to which we had that day been compelled to retrace our steps, having found that another creek farther on was perfectly dry. However, knowing that we could not be at most farther than thirty-five miles from Sir Thomas Mitchell's old Depot Camp, on the Maranoa, I determined to reach that, even if we should have to pass one night without water; first determining to leave the party in camp for one day, and reconnoitre. This I did, but unsuccessfully; so we all moved on the next day, {Page 222} travelled thirty miles, found every creek and watercourse dry and overgrown with grass and weeds: encamped without water; and finally, on the 5th June, reached the Maranoa, and encamped about a quarter of a mile below the Depot, on a reach described by Sir Thomas as being full of water and large fish, but where we now saw nothing but a deep dry sandy bed, full of long reeds, with a small shallow pool of brackish water, out of which, to avoid dirt and sediment, the buckets had to be filled by means of a pint pot.

Much to my surprise, "Coppi" now said that we were near the place, and going up to the old Depot, whither I and Mr. Drysdale accompanied him, he commenced picking up sheep's bones, old pieces of powder canisters, &c., showing them to us. I knew very well that all these things had been thrown about and left here by Sir Thomas Mitchell's party, but I made signs to him to enquire where were the white men's bones, horses' bones, guns, saddles, &c. He told me by signs that everything had been thrown into the water and carried away in a flood. However, in the absence of Old Billy (Combo), whom I had sent with Walker in search of a stray mule, I could make nothing of him, so returned to the camp. He had, on first joining us, given a very clear account of the whole affair, saying that he was only a young boy when it happened (he being now apparently about sixteen years old). He told us how the blacks had followed the party for some days, and at last surprised them all when asleep; that they had driven off all the horses and mules and killed them: that only one shot had been fired by the whites, which killed one blackfellow; and that some of the bullocks had escaped, and were now running about higher up the Culba; and had also assigned as a reason for the murder the ill-treatment of some gins by the two blackfellows attached to the white party, when riding about the bush in search of the horses and bullocks; and he further said that one of these blacks had large bushy beard and whiskers, like my man Brown, and the other smooth face like him. This I also know to be correct. One of Leichhardt's blacks, "Flash Billy," whose brother is now with me, having had a very large beard, and the other, "Wommai," as I knew myself, was almost a boy, without either beard or whiskers.

{Page 223}

Walker and "Combo," with another (Mr. Edgar), being away all night in search of this mule, it was necessary to reduce each watch from two men to one, giving each one hour and a half. The night of the 6th was very dark, and our guide, "Coppi," escaped. I had had not the slightest idea that by himself he would have attempted it, or I should have taken measures to prevent his doing so. I very much suspected that he had arranged with the other that he too should run away, and meet him at some appointed place; and was rather surprised, next day, when they returned with the mule, to see Billy with them. He had, at any rate, got the same story from "Coppi," and we were, consequently, for the next five days, examining the river side, the Depot Camp, and every angle and bend in the river for some miles both up and down, to try and find some indication of Leichhardt's having been there; but nothing could we find, not even a marked tree, to show that he had gone that way. My blacks indeed thought that in some places they could see tracks as if a large lot of cattle and horses had been driven either up or down the river, but these were only partial, and could not be kept by them for any distance. On the fifth day Billy told Walker that "Coppi" had only been telling us "gammon" about this being the spot, that it was a good way further; that we should leave the Culba and cross a range to another large creek, the country of the "Niemin" or Pisant Blacks, who were the people that had killed the white men. He said that "Coppi" was afraid to take this white party out amongst his own people, as we would shoot both him and them when we saw the bones, and that he had consequently determined to tell us a lie and leave us; but that he (Billy) would go with us, and talk to the blackfellows for us, provided we made good haste, as he was afraid we would all be killed if we delayed. I accordingly promised him a double-barrelled gun, knife, tomahawk, &c., on our return to Surat, as a reward for his services, if we could fall in with natives who would lead us to the desired spot.

The 14th and 15th June we travelled up the Maranoa, being fortunate enough to find water in the bed of the river at which to encamp on both days, in Lat. 26 deg. 4 mins. 0 secs. South. I thought it advisable to leave {Page 224} the party and find water ahead before again moving it; this I did after following the course of the river for some miles, though in a very small and dirty pool; moved on here next day, and leaving them to form the camp, went on again with Walker, Brown, and Billy, to look for more water, and also in hopes of falling in with the natives. During this ride of reconnaissance we saw fresh cattle tracks, apparently of not more than four or six head of very large bullocks; these tracks were not more than a day or two old, and Billy said belonged to the cattle which had got away from the blacks when they killed the white men.

Finding water, I moved the camp on next day, and on the 19th left the river and followed a tributary from the westward, in which, at about ten miles, we found water and encamped. Here was the first native camp we had seen, apparently of one blackfellow and his gin; after encamping, I sent Walker and Billy out in search of them; they returned just after sunset with a "picaninny," a boy about ten years old, who it appeared had been there with an old gin, and who said he knew all about the murder of the white men, and volunteered to come with us.

Next morning, having the boy mounted on a led horse, we started under his guidance, but it soon became apparent that he knew nothing of the direction we ought to take to reach this place stated by him to be five days' journey distant. On questioning him through old Billy, he said that he had never been there, but that he had heard the story from all the blackfellows; he told us the same as "Coppi" had formerly, and even on this very morning when our horses and mules were driven up to the camp in hobbles, he shouted and laughed and repeatedly said something in the Coogi language, repeating the word "Bunderabulla," and on my asking Billy what he was saying, he told me it was "that the mules and horses were jumping in the hobbles in the same way that the blackfellows described those to have done which they had driven off and killed."

However, I followed the same tributary for some distance to the north-west, and then left it and crossed another deep creek running to the north-west; seeing a {Page 225} fire, as of a gin burning the reeds in the bed of the creek, I sent Billy with Walker down to endeavour to obtain some information from her; they returned, accompanied by a gin with a child on her shoulders. She came towards us without much apparent trepidation, and a long conversation ensued between her and Billy, the substance of which was that the white men were killed on a creek this side of Bunderabulla, to which she pointed W.N.W., that it was seven days' journey, and then pointing to saddles, guns, pots, &c., said that plenty of those were there; she pointed N.W. as the direction we should take, and told Billy there was plenty of water.

Leaving her, we proceeded in a general N.W. course tor about five miles, gradually ascending a scrubby pine ridge—the creek running from N.W. away to S. and S.W.; crossing this ridge we descended a grassy valley which led us to a creek or river in very fine open forest country, coming from N. and N.E. and running here E. to W. The broad sandy bed was, however, perfectly dry, and though we followed every bend and turn for upwards of sixteen miles in a general N.W. course, not one drop could we find. Long after nightfall we fortunately fell in with about two buckets-full of water in a hole in a rock—upon which we encamped, having enough to make some tea for ourselves, though the horses and mules could get none—this deprivation, however, being in some measure alleviated by the abundance of green feed, particularly wild carrots and geranium, which was springing up in all directions.

On the 21st, the horses not having wandered far, I went off down the river, attended by Brown and Billy, to look for water. This we found after having followed its course about eight miles, in a small deep pool; to this I moved the camp, and here we were detained next day by heavy rain, which however had no effect on the sandy bed of the river; for the next two days I had to reconnoitre for water before moving the party.

On the 25th, leaving the party at camp XIX., in Lat. 25 deg. 38 min. 23 secs. S., I again went out attended by Walker, Brown, and Billy, to look for water, and also in hopes of meeting some other natives from whom we might obtain intelligence. The river, which had for the last twenty {Page 226} miles been gradually taking a S.W. course, here turned almost due south, and I accordingly took a west course in hopes of falling in with some other creek leading in the direction I wished for; after riding some miles, we came upon a broad deep creek, dry, but which by the floodmarks we could tell ran from W. to E. and S.E., apparently to join the river we had left, and which I now assumed from its course and position to be the Warregi; riding up this for some distance, we saw a native fire, and hastening up to it saw a wretched-looking infant sitting on the ground, with no one else near it. I left Brown to watch there, while we searched the bush round about, could find no natives, and returning to the fire, saw, perched in a tree above Brown's head, the mother of the child. She was very frightened, but on Billy speaking to her in Coogi, and assuring her we meant no harm, she came down. A long conversation then ensued, and as the interpreter informed me, the substance of it was that she knew all about the murder of these white men, saying that it was four days' journey thence; she also pointed out guns, saddles, &c., as having been scattered about; we accompanied her to her camp on the other side of the creek, where was a very old, withered gin; on our coming up, and before the first one spoke, the old woman corroborated the story, saying that the creek upon which we now were was the one upon which the white men were killed, that the name of the "touri" or place was "Ballour," and of the creek "Berando," and that of the river behind us "Bialing." The old woman told us that she would remain where she was until next day, and that when we came up she would go with us and guide us to some blackfellows, who would show us the place; we then returned to camp.

Next day the whole party moved on, and in order that these two gins might not be alarmed at the sight of so many men and animals, I sent Walker and Billy ahead to keep them there until we should get up. On arriving at the creek, however, the gins were gone, nor were there any signs of the other two; presuming that the gins had decamped, and that Walker had followed them, I halted the party on the other side of the creek to wait for his arrival. He did not come in till nearly 11 p.m., bringing the two women with him; he reported {Page 227} that not finding them at the camp, he had followed them; Billy tracked them many miles, and they at length came up with them in a pine scrub.

I now told them that they must stay with us and take us to the place we were looking for, that I would give them plenty to eat, and a tomahawk each when we should have seen these remains; they agreed to go, and on the following morning we started under their guidance. We had not gone many miles when the old gin suddenly told us "that she would take us a short cut to the spot where the white men were killed, that it had taken them four days to run up a creek that way (pointing east), but that by going through some brigalow we could make a very short cut, and that by sunset we should reach the very place." She accordingly took us a general W.N.W. course through some brigalow and pine scrubs, and just before sunset brought us up to a water-hole, which I at first took to be the head of the creek we had left in the morning, especially as we had been ascending ridges all day, and the barometer showed that we had an increased altitude of nine hundred feet.

Here the old gin sat down and told us this was the spot. There were no relics to be seen, and on enquiring of her where such were, she replied that "big water carried them all away." I was far from satisfied with this reply, but as we had made a long stage of about 10 miles, over very heavy sandy country, I determined to encamp, and remain a day or two if necessary, and examine the neighbourhood.

On the following morning, the 28th, I again spoke to these two gins, through the medium of the interpreter. The old woman still adhered to her story, and said that she knew this was the place, though she had never seen the remains, as the blackfellows would not allow any of the women to approach it, telling them "that whitemen's 'debil debil' always walked about." She again said that she had been there present at the murder, or rather, as the women and children always are in such cases, in the background; she even pointed to the ridges behind as having been their position at the time;—that the blackfellows had followed these white men for many days;—that they were in countless numbers, like "niemen" (pointing to a large ant bed near her);—that they formed {Page 228} a very large circle, and gradually closed up upon the white camp;—that just at day dawn, all the white men being asleep, the blacks rushed on them and speared them as they lay;—that only one white man, who was sleeping at some distance, awoke, and fired his gun once, shooting one blackfellow, but that he was immediately killed, and that the blackfellow who was wounded went away and died in the bush;—that previous to this the blacks had, in the early part of the night, driven away and killed all the horses and mules, and that they afterwards ate them, having a great feast;—when they were very full lying down and sleeping till again hungry; they also killed a few of the cattle, but that the rest got away from them; that for a long time afterwards there were quart pots, pint pots, red shirts, axes and other things in the blacks' camps, but that now they were all gone. She also assigned as a reason for this act the ill usage of some gins by the two blackfellows attached to the party. She then told me that up that way (pointing east) was an old Camp and marked tree of this party, and that away westward there was another. On my asking her "how it could be that they had been killed here if they had a camp further on," she said that they had gone from the eastward camp to the westward, and thence returned and encamped at this waterhole.

I mounted my horse, and attended by Walker and Brown, rode out to the eastward; found a creek running in that direction, and about 10 miles down it found for the first time one of Leichhardt's marked Camps. It was in an angle of the creek, now perfectly dry; there was the mark, thus— the letters probably intended for 15th April; the tent poles and forks—the heavy saplings on which he had placed his packs (showing that the ground must have been very wet and damp); and even the forked sticks and cross piece in front of the fire, on which they had most probably roasted part of a kangaroo, the bones of which were lying about. There was also in one place a large quantity of cattle dung, showing where the bullocks had been bedded; but though Brown and Billy, who was also with me, looked carefully for tracks either coming to or departing {Page 229} from this camp, they could find none, the soil being as we had found it ever since we reached the Maranoa, loose and sandy. The most probable reason for our never having seen any of his camps before is that at the time he left Mount Abundance the whole country was in a state of inundation; consequently he could travel in any direction, always sure of plenty of water, whereas it has been so scarce since I have been out that we have been compelled to follow water courses, and even then have had to encamp more than once without any.

Returning to the camp, we fell in with natives' tracks and followed them, and about sunset came up with an old gin with a child and two young girls of nine or ten years old. They were very frightened, but we called out as usual "ara-wabbe," which means in Coogi that we would not hurt them. They then came up to us, and the old woman told us that the white men were killed eight days' journey hence; that there were very large plains to cross, three days' journey, without water, &c.; but she also pointed to saddles, guns, &c. We brought them also to the camp, and found that during my absence they had secured another gin, who was passing near without perceiving them. We had now nine women and children in camp, whom I was determined to detain until I could find some of the blackfellows; had I allowed the others to go, of course the blacks would soon leave the neighbourhood. I gave them all plenty of flour and sugar, and they were soon perfectly at home.

The gin who had been detained during my absence told me that the bones, &c., were to be seen at a place four days' journey away, and that her son, a "Coppi," was camped a short distance away; that she would in the morning go with me to his camp and prevail upon him to accompany us to the spot, as he had seen the remains, &c., and knew all about the whole affair. Accordingly at daylight on the 29th I went on horseback with the same attendants as on the previous day, and taking also the old gin who had volunteered, and one of the little girls. About four miles N.E. of our camp, and on the borders of a pine scrub, we found the blacks' camp. On going up to them, assuring them through Billy of our peaceable intentions, we saw two fine athletic young men, of which one was "Coppi," the other "Marri." {Page 230} They repeated the same story that we had so often heard before, pointing also to guns, &c.; said the place was three days' journey thence, and was due west, at least so they pointed. They agreed to come with us; they told us they were two of the "Niemens", but that it was other blacks who had killed the white men, whereas, at Mount Abundance, the natives accused the "Niemens". "Coppi" was a good countenanced man, but the other as villainous a looking scoundrel as I ever saw. I would have preferred taking the former alone, but they said they must both go.

I brought these back to the camp (XXI.), and prepared immediately for proceeding on our journey. We left at about half-past one o'clock, leaving all the gins and children to go about their business. We travelled about ten miles in a general W.N.W. course, and encamped on a waterhole, or rather chain of ponds, in Lat. 25 deg. 30 min. S., and long., by account, from lunar observations of Capt. Anderson at Camp XVIII., 146 deg. 35 min. E. On the following morning I presented each of my guides with trousers and shirt, and gave them many promises of tomahawks and knives when they should have performed the service required of them. We again proceeded, under their guidance, W.N.W., and in about five miles reached a large deep creek, half bank high, with water discoloured, as if from recent floods; this they informed me was called Alpomdulla Creek. The country here was magnificent, open forest, or rather plains, with clumps of apple tree, well grassed, and altogether the finest I have ever seen.

From this creek they turned off at a tangent, and much to my surprise led us all the day until nearly sunset in an E.N.E., and N.N.E. course, finally causing us to encamp on a very muddy waterhole.

During the first watch Walker informed me that Billy had just told him these natives were leading us to the bones of blackfellows, and not to the place where the white men had been murdered. On speaking to them about it, they said they were afraid to take us there, as they knew we would shoot them directly. I assured them that they were perfectly safe, and that so far from shooting them, I would reward them. Walker suggested to me the propriety of putting handcuffs on them; but this {Page 231} I would not listen to; and I also gave strict orders that should they get away in any of the watches, that no shot should he fired on them, even if they could not be recaptured. I had no authority to permit anything of the sort, and it would have been in the highest degree injudicious.

These two men had accompanied me of their own free will, and on my assurance of their safety; they did not consider themselves prisoners, but thought, no doubt, as they came so they might go; and I was convinced that if by fair means they would not show us that of which we were in search, force would be of no avail; and I determined rather to let them go if they felt so disposed, and stand my chance of finding others who might give me information, than attempt any restraint or threats with them. Had I used the latter, had I tied them up and threatened to shoot them if they did not lead me to this place, they might have immediately denied all knowledge of it; and as I would not be justified in shooting them, I should then have had to let them go, with a very poor opinion of the courage of the white men.

Our guides did not, however, desert us this night, but the next morning said they would take us to the place, but that it was now eight days' journey, W. by S. They accordingly led us about 12 miles, as we did not leave the camp until about 1 p.m., in order to obtain the sun's meridian altitude, which gave our latitude 25 deg. 21 min. S.; the direction we pursued to-day was to the north of west, and it was not until after the moon rose that we encamped on Alpomdulla Creek, much higher up that when we had met it yesterday. The flood at this part of the creek had passed away, leaving only various small streams of muddy water meandering along the various channels it had formed for itself in the sandy bed.

Here at length our two guides deserted us; they sneaked away as only blackfellows can; during my own (the morning watch), and three of us standing intently watching their fire where they were one instant, and from which in another they were gone. Billy, who had been getting very uneasy for a day or so before, told me that these two natives were too much afraid of being shot {Page 232} to show us the bones; but that they had told him we must cross four creeks, then a large plain for three days, and then three more creeks before we should find the spot.

I determined, however, to proceed further up this creek, in hopes of falling in with some other natives from whom I might gain intelligence, and perhaps a guide; followed it in a general north course for 12 or 14 miles; saw neither natives nor tracks, and encamped.

We were now on the Nive, or Nivelle, of Sir Thomas Mitchell, much lower down than that gentleman had been. Our position was 25 deg. 9 min. S. latitude, and longitude by account from lunar observations, 146 deg. 29 min. E., considerably to the south, and far to the west of the head of the Victoria; and yet when even more to the southward these guides had pointed to W. by S., as the situation of the creek upon which the whites were killed.

At 9 p.m. this night our interpreter deserted. This was a thing I nor any body else who has the slightest knowledge of the natives would never for an instant have dreamed of. We were now nearly three hundred miles from the nearest part of the Balonne, his own country; and the idea of his leaving us to go in by himself, and run the gauntlet of all the tribes in his route, I should have scouted as ridiculous; but it was, nevertheless, true; he had gone, and with him taken our best tomahawk, leaving in exchange some of his clothes. I could not help thinking that this had been done by him in pursuance of an arrangement entered into between him and the guides who had previously deserted. As Billy was known as one of the greatest scoundrels in the Mount Abundance country, and as the head and prime mover in all the murders and disturbances which had at last driven Mr. McPherson from the Fitz Roy Downs, I thought that he might, perhaps, have made a commencement by driving away our horses, &c., so I sent two men mounted, by the light of the moon, to drive them all up to the camp, where the watches kept them about until daylight.

No other course was now left open to me but to return at once to camp XXI., and endeavour to find the {Page 233} other camp of Leichhardt, of which the old gin had told me as being to the westward. We accordingly, on the 3rd instant, retraced our steps, and arrived at this camp on the evening of the 5th. Here the party remained the following day, while I went out, attended by Edgar, Walker, and Brown, in search of this camp. Riding due west, I came upon a creek, from S.W. to N. and N.E., followed it down some miles, and at length crossed our own track to camp XXII., under the guidance of the two natives. Within a quarter of a mile of this I found, in an angle of the creek, the other camp marked L, of which she had told me; the same mark— large and heavy saplings for packs, tent poles, I bullock dung, &c.; but no tracks; and the creek itself, with a shallow bed, dry, and overgrown with long grass and weeds. Even about the camp Brown could not see a track. I was now aware that it would be useless, or worse than useless, to remain any longer searching about for his tracks. We had been beyond this upwards of 45 miles—west, east, and north—without seeing any, and I thought the wisest plan I could pursue would be to return to Surat with all speed, and, if possible, obtain another interpreter, and return, though not with the hope of gaining more information than I have hitherto obtained. In this matter I consulted some of my party, and their opinion coincided with my own, and all expressed their readiness to come out with me again. I was more induced to pursue this course on account of the severe illness of one of my companions, Mr. Horsburgh, who had for some time past been seriously indisposed, and was daily growing worse.

I accordingly retraced my steps, and knowing exactly where I should find water. I regulated the stages accordingly, and arrived here on the 20th instant, exactly seventeen days from the date of our interpreter's desertion, and four months from the day we first loaded the mules to leave Darling Downs. For the last week Mr. Horsburgh has suffered much from an attack of acute rheumatism, having had to be lifted on and off his horse, raised up and laid down, and even assisted to walk a few steps. He is now under the care of Mr. Drysdale, the Surgeon, considerably better, but very weak and unable to travel.

{Page 234}

On our return I found that Billy was already here, having arrived on the 14th; thus making the journey in twelve days, or at the rate of nearly twenty-five miles per day. He tried to evade me; but I called to him as he was running off, and he unwillingly came. He excused himself by saying that he feared we would shoot him; then that he thought the blacks would kill us all, and so forth; but on my asking him if he were willing to come with me again, he said he would. He also told me that those blackfellows "too much gammon"; that they had taken us past the place, and would never show us; that they feared too much we were going to kill them in revenge; and they said that they had told him a fire had burned everything.

Of course I know it would be folly to believe all he says; but at the same time I am now fully convinced that the chances of success would be very dubious even were I to return. I might find natives who would pretend to take us to the spot and show us where Leichhardt was killed, and tell us everything had been burned, or carried away in a flood, as the old woman has already done. She certainly may have told the truth, though I doubt it; but she could at all events show us, or tell us where to find old camps of this very party. I am much disposed to believe that the natives, now that we have been amongst them, and fearing another visit, will put out of the way everything that has already not been destroyed, as they firmly believed, notwithstanding our assurances, that we intended shooting them in revenge for the death of our countrymen by their hands. Of the truth of the report I have now not the slightest doubt. The manner and cause of the murder has been told and corroborated in every particular by so many that there can now be but one opinion on the matter.

After mature consideration, therefore, I have determined to return to Sydney with all dispatch; the rations I have now remaining, that is the flour, will barely suffice to carry me there, and in the event of going out again. I had depended upon replenishing my stock here or at the neighbouring stations; but in consequence of the late floods at Moreton Bay, the teams have been detained, and every establishment on the river is short of rations.

{Page 235}

With regard to my own, I must observe that I had in the outset calculated the quantity with the greatest care, as a limited ration of 5 lbs. flour and 2½ lbs. meat for nine men and nine mouths. By the subsequent alteration of my arrangements (my party originally consisted of ten instead of nine) I have been for the last three months feeding never less than eleven, sometimes twelve, sometimes fourteen, and on one occasion twenty-two. I never limited the natives, giving them as much as they could eat to prevent them leaving, and as for my own party, I found that short rations for nine men would not serve ten who had to work hard, live in the open air, and keep from two to three hours watch every night in a temperature averaging ten degrees below freezing point. The meat which I took with me originally, 420 lbs., though excellent, lost in weight at least 25 per cent., and as for game, we could not depend upon it, having been twenty-eight days without even seeing a pigeon; on other occasions we obtained abundance, but at any time the allowance of meat from the stores did not exceed 3 lbs. per diem amongst the whole party, blacks and all. For the last week we had none. I merely mention this to account for the rations not having lasted as long as I had anticipated, and as most probably would have been expected. We have now been using them since the 3rd March, and they will last about seven weeks more, which will altogether make a period of about 6½ months.

I had almost omitted to report that amongst the gins whom we had collected at Camp XXI. there were three tomahawks, apparently rudely fashioned from the plates of saddle trees; these they acknowledged to have been part of the spoil of the white men, and said that the blackfellows had given them to them. They appeared to have been made by doubling and hammering together the gullet plates of saddles, and were sharpened at one end and fastened with gum into cleft sticks, as are the common stone tomahawks. I should have taken one of these, but had none to spare in exchange for it, and taking it away from them would have been much at variance with our professions towards them; besides, I had just then obtained the two guides, and was in hopes of soon finding other and stronger proof.

{Page 236}

The boy who joined the party beyond the Maranoa, and who has since remained with us, I intend taking to Sydney. He will soon become sufficiently acquainted with our language to tell all he knows of this sad business, and in the event of any future expedition going in that direction would prove most useful as an interpreter, his language—the Coogi—being the furthest known northern dialect.

I cannot conclude this report without thanking my party, generally, for their assistance and zealous co-operation on all occasions; to Messrs. Anderson, Horsburgh, and Drysdale, these are especially due; Mr. Edgar, though newly arrived in the Colony, and utterly unused to such a life, proved useful; Walker was most anxious for the successful termination of the journey, and did his best to promote it; and Jefferson proved an active, hard-working man, and particularly fitted for this sort of thing. My two natives, Brown and Jackey (the former particularly) could not be excelled; and the half-caste boy was also very useful, especially in the catching and loading of the mules, &c.

Mr. Drysdale, in addition to his share in the general duties of the camp, has made a valuable and interesting collection of birds and insects for the Museum; and in all cases where his medical aid has been required, particularly in that of Mr. Horsburgh, his unwearied attention has been beyond all praise.

To the squatters on my outward route, particularly to H. Hughes, Esq., M.L.C., of Darling Downs, I am under great obligations for their kindness; to that gentleman especially, at whose stations we were encamped for upwards of four weeks, and on whose run our sick and knocked up horses recovered their strength and vigour, are my thanks due.

Hoping that what has been done may meet with the approval of His Excellency the Governor-General.






3. The Gregorys' North Australia Expedition, 1855-6.


The reader is referred here to "Journals of Australian Exploration" by A. and F. Gregory, available in full on Project Gutenberg Australia.

Their Chapter 7—North Australian Expedition. 1855 to 1856.—here, covers the entire expedition, not solely charged with searching for traces of Leichhardt.

An interesting part of this expedition covers the period 21 June to 13 July, 1856. The westernmost sheet of the expedition is to be found at the end of this compilation to show the setting of Sturt's Creek. Gregory found no traces of Leichhardt's party in this area.






4. Augustus Gregory's Expedition from Moreton Bay, 1858.

[THIS version differs from the P.G.A. book, "Journals of Australian Exploration" by A. and F. Gregory, Chapter 8—Expedition in Search of Dr. Leichhardt. 1857 to 1858.—here; it has extra paragraphing, often digits instead of words, and extra abbreviations and symbols. The chapter in the "Journals" commences:

"Ordered by the Legislative Assembly to be Printed, 28th October, 1857.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL ON THE 14TH SEPTEMBER, 1857, WITH RESPECT TO AN EXPEDITION IN SEARCH OF DR. LEICHHARDT.

MINUTE NUMBER 57-44.

His Excellency the Governor-General, at the instance of the Honourable the Colonial Secretary, brings under the consideration of the Council a proposal which has been made to organise another Expedition to ascertain, if possible, beyond doubt, the fate of Dr. Leichhardt, who left Sydney some nine years ago with the intention of exploring the north-western interior of Australia. This proposal has its origin in a public meeting, held in Sydney on the 11th instant, at which resolutions were passed invoking the assistance of the Government, and it is recommended to favourable consideration at the present moment by the circumstance that Mr. Gregory, who recently returned from a successful exploration in the same direction, has intimated his willingness to undertake the conduct of the proposed Expedition.

2. The Council express themselves desirous of seizing so favourable an opportunity of pursuing this inquiry, and they therefore advise that Mr. Gregory should be at once invited to submit, for approval, a definite proposal having for its object: 1st, to ascertain the fate of the late Dr. Leichhardt; and, 2nd, to connect the exploring surveys of Mitchell and Kennedy with his own; such proposal to be accompanied by an estimate of the probable expense which it will be necessary to incur.

EDWARD C. MEREWETHER,

Clerk of the Council.

Executive Council Office,

Sydney, 22 September, 1857.]




The paper in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London then commences:

{Page 18}

The second Paper read was:—

2. Expedition from Moreton Bay in Search of Leichhardt and Party. By Augustus Charles Gregory, Esq. (gold medallist, r.g.s.).

8th Dec. 1857.—Having received instructions from the Honourable the Secretary for Land and Public Works to organize an expedition for the purpose of searching for traces of Dr. Leichhardt and party, who left New South Wales in 1848 with the intention of proceeding overland to Western Australia, I proceeded to Moreton Bay (11th Jan. 1858) with such portions of the equipment as had been prepared in Sydney.

On reaching Ipswich forty horses were purchased, and having despatched the stores to Mr. Royd's station, on the Dawson River, by drays, the party was collected at that place; but, owing to unforeseen delays in the transport of the stores, the equipment and organization of the expedition were not complete till the latter part of March.

{Page 19}

The following list of the party, horses, stores, &c., will show the principal arrangements.

The party consisted of nine persons, viz.:—

A. C. Gregory, Commander; C. F. Gregory, Assistant-Commander; S. Burgoyne, Assistant; G. Phibbs, Overseer. Stockmen, &c., E. Bowman, W. Selby, T. Dunn, W. Wedel, and D. Worrell.

The stock consisted of horses alone, comprising 31 pack and 9 saddle horses, completely equipped.

Provisions comprised the dried meat of 2 bullocks and 4 sheep, weighing, as butcher's meat, 16 cwt., but when dried and the bones removed, reduced to 300 lbs.; in addition to this, 500 lbs. bacon, 1600 lbs. flour, 100 lbs. rice, 350 lbs. sugar, 60 lbs. tea, 40 lbs. tobacco, and some minor articles.

The arms and ammunition were: 1 Minié rifle, 8 double-barrel guns, 9 revolver pistols, 25 lbs. gunpowder, 150 lbs. shot and balls, percussion caps, &c.

For the conveyance of water two leather water-bags were provided, each holding 5 gallons, besides which each of the party was furnished with a water-bag of India-rubber, holding 3 pints.

The tents were made of calico, each suited for the accommodation of two persons, and the several articles of camp equipage were of the lightest construction consistent with the service required.

The instruments employed were an 8-inch sextant, box-sextant, prismatic compasses, pocket compasses, double axis compass, aneroid barometers, thermometers, and artificial horizon, &c.

Including forty sets of horseshoes, farrier's and carpenter's tools, together with sundry material for repairs, &c., the total weight of the equipment was about 4600 lbs. exclusive of the saddles and harness, which gave an average load of 160 lbs. as the net load carried by each pack-horse.

24th March.—These arrangements being complete the expedition left "Juanda" and proceeded by the road to Mr. Carew's station at "Euroomba," from which (27th March), under the guidance of Mr. Bolton—whose local knowledge was of material service—we made our way through the dense scrubs and broken country to the west for about 30 miles, to the head of "Scott's Creek," a small tributary of the Dawson River.

29th March.—The general course was now W.N.W., through a country with rich grassy valleys and dense scrubs of "brigalow" acacia on the higher ground. Green grass was abundant at this time; but I fear that in seasons of drought few of the water-holes are permanent. The timber consists of iron-bark, box, and a few other species of eucalyptus; the brigalow acacia attaining the height of {Page 20} 30 feet. Soft brown sandstones of the coal measures are the prevailing rock, forming hills with table summits.

2nd April.—With some difficulty, owing to the dense scrubs, we crossed the basaltic ridge which divides the eastern waters flowing to the Dawson River from those trending to the west into the basin of the Maranoa River, a tributary of which, probably the Merivale River, was followed westward. The country became more sandy, timbered with iron-bark, cypress, &c. The whole was, however, well grassed, and suited for grazing, if not too heavily stocked.

5th April.—Beaching the Maranoa River in about latitude 25° 45', water was scarcely procurable in the sandy bed, and we had to dig wells to obtain a supply.

Warned by the fact that Messrs. H. Gregory and Hely had been unable to penetrate the country to the west from scarcity of water, even three months earlier in the season, we followed up the Maranoa to "Mount Owen" (7th April), and having found a sufficient supply of water and grass for a few days' halt, I proceeded to reconnoitre the country to the west, and at length found a practicable route to the tributaries of the "Warrego" River, to which the party was advanced (12th April).

A heavy shower of rain had filled the gullies in this locality, and green grass clothed the country, forming a striking contrast to the dry and waterless valley of the Maranoa.

Fine openly timbered valleys, well suited for pasture, alternated with ridges of scrub of brigalow acacia till we reached "Mount Playfair" (15th April), a basaltic hill on the sandstone ridge which separates the Warrego Valley from that of the "Nive," a small branch of which was followed (16th April) down to its junction with the main channel in latitude 25° 6'.

The soil in the valley of the Nive is sandy, thinly grassed, and openly timbered with iron-bark, spotted gum, &c.; the back country rising into low sandstone ridges, covered with dense scrub of brigalow acacia. Some pools of permanent water, containing small fish, were passed, on the bank of which the remains of numerous native camps were seen.

17th April.—From the Nive River a N.N.W. course was pursued through a nearly level sandy country, covered with a scrub of acacia, eucalypti, bottle-tree, &c., which offered great impediments to our progress, till within 6 miles of the "Victoria River," when we suddenly emerged from the scrub on to open downs of rich clay soil; but the drought had been of such a long continuance that the whole of the vegetation had been destroyed and swept away by the wind, leaving the country to all appearance an absolute desert. {Page 21}

The bed of the Victoria was scarcely 10 yards wide, and perfectly dry, so that it was only after a prolonged search along its course that a small puddle of water was found in a hollow of the clay flat, and near it, fortunately for our horses, a little grass growing in widely scattered tufts.

Being now on the line of route which Leichhardt had stated his intention of following, the party was divided, so that both sides of the river were examined 'in all probable positions in which his camps might have been situated (19th April); but as the high floods appeared to have inundated the country for nearly a mile on each bank last year, all tracks of previous explorers were necessarily obliterated, and it was only by marked trees, or the bones of cattle, that we could hope to discover any trace.

During the first two days' journey down the river only a few small pools of water were seen, and these not of a permanent character, while, the rich vegetation on the open downs, which had excited the admiration of Sir T. Mitchell on his discovery of the country in a favourable season, had wholly passed away, leaving little but a bare surface of clay, the deep fissures in its surface giving evidence of long-continued drought.

20th April—In latitude 24° 37', longitude 146° 13', a small sandy creek, of equal size with the Victoria, joined from the east, and just below the first permanent pool of water was found. There was a slight improvement in the grass, but dense scrubs prevailed in the back country, and even approached the river at intervals.

21st April.—While collecting the horses near this pool of water, I detected a party of armed natives watching one of the stockmen, evidently, from their position in the scrub and general movements, inclined to hostilities, and I imagine that it was a knowledge that we were aware of their intentions which prevented my being able to establish any communication with them. I may here remark that this party, which numbered about eight, were the first natives seen during the journey.

21st April—(Lat. 24° 85', long. 146° 6'.) Continuing our route along the river we discovered a "Moreton Bay Ash" (Eucalyptus sp.), about two feet diameter, marked with the letter L on the east side, cut through the bark, about' four feet from the ground, and near it the stumps of some small trees which had been cut with a sharp axe, also a deep notch cut in the side of a sloping tree, apparently to support the ridge-pole of a tent, or for some similar purpose; all indicating that a camp had been established here by Leichhardt's party. The tree was near the bank of a small reach of water, which is noted on Sir T. Mitchell's map: this, together with its actual and {Page 22} relative position as regards other features of the country, prove it not to have been either one of Sir T. Mitchell's or Mr. Kennedy's camps, as neither encamped within several miles of the spot, besides which, the letter could not have been marked by either of them to designate the number of the camp, as the former had long passed his 50th camp, and the latter had not reached that number on the outward route, and numbered his camps from the farthest point attained on his return journey.

Notwithstanding a careful search, no traces of stock could be found. This is, however, easily accounted for, as the country had been inundated last season, though the current had not been sufficiently strong to remove some emu bones and mussel-shells which lay round a native camping-place within a few yards of the spot.

No other indications having been found, we continued the search down the river, examining every likely spot for marked trees, but without success.

The general aspect of the country was extremely level, and even the few distant ridges which were visible had but small elevation above the plain, the highest apparently not exceeding 200 or 300 feet. Timber was wholly confined to the bank of the river, and though open plains existed, acacia scrubs were the principal feature. Water became very scarce in the channels of the river, and we were principally dependent on small puddles of rain-water from a recent thunder-shower, but as we approached the northern bend some fine reaches of water were passed.

6th April.—In latitude 24° 2' we observed a small dry creek joining from the N.E. This I traced upwards for a few miles; but as its relative position with regard to the adjacent country, as well as the latitude, did not correspond with that of the Alice River on the chart, we continued oar route; finding, however, that the general course of the river changed to S.W., I left the party at a small lagoon and rode up the river again (28th April), making a second search, more especially at the junction of the small dry creek, which proved to be identical with the Alice River, though more than five miles to the south, as the Victoria River never reaches the parallel of 24°.

Our position was now becoming very critical, as a long continuance of drought had not only dried up all the water, except in the deepest hollows in the channel of the main river, but the smaller vegetation, and even the trees on the back country were annihilated, rendering the country almost impracticable from the quantity of fallen dead branches, and even in the bed of the river, where the inundation derived from heavy rain near the sources of the river {Page 23} last year had somewhat refreshed the grass, it was scarcely possible to find subsistence for the horses. Under existing circumstances, it would have been certain destruction to attempt a north-west route from this point; and the only course that appeared open to us was to follow down the main river to the junction of the Thompson River, and ascend that watercourse so as to intersect Leichhardt's probable line of route, had he penetrated in that direction, favoured by a better season. At the same time it was probable that, like ourselves, he had been repulsed, and would then follow down the river, and search for a more favourable point from which to commence his north-west course, in order to round the desert interior on its northern side (29th April), and we therefore continued our search down towards the Thompson River.

The country was perfectly flat on both sides of the river, and showed traces of tremendous floods. The soil near the river was often deeply-cracked mud, water very scarce, and grass seldom seen. The back country was covered with scrubs of dead acacia, the soil a red sand or gravel; and such was the unpromising appearance that I began to fear our horses would soon fail for want of food and water; but having camped at a water-hole during Sunday (2nd May), to rest the party, heavy rain commenced, and though the greater portion of the water was absorbed by the dry soil, some of the channels of the river filled and commenced to flow. This relieved us from much difficulty as regarded the want of water, and enabled us to seek for grass in positions which were otherwise inaccessible.

3rd May.—Just as we were leaving our camp a party of seven natives made their appearance, but, though they came up to us, and talked much, I could get no useful information from them. As the party moved on they followed us, and, thinking they were not observed, made an attempt to throw a spear at one of the men; but Mr. C. Gregory wheeling his horse quickly and presenting a revolver at the intending aggressors, they ran away and left us to pursue our journey in peace.

The abundance of water was not without its inconveniences, and had the rain continued the party would have been annihilated, as our camp was between the deep channels which intersected the plain; and in attempting to extricate ourselves from the plains subject to inundation (4th May), found ourselves so completely entangled among the numerous deep channels and boggy gullies, in some of which the horses narrowly escaped suffocation in the soft mud, that after having forded one branch of the river, carrying the whole equipment across on our own backs, constructing a bridge over a second for the transport of the stores, and dragging the horses {Page 24} through as we best could with ropes, after three days of severe toil we had scarcely accomplished a direct distance of five miles (6th May).

The dry weather which followed rapidly hardened the surface of the clay plains, and I attempted to steer due west to the Thompson, but found the country so destitute of feed, and covered with dense acacia scrub, that we were compelled to return to the plains on the bank of the river.

8th May.—The valley of the river trending west was somewhat contracted, and did not exceed five or six miles in breadth; the plains were firmer, salt-bush and grass more abundant, and the horses recovered slightly from the effects of the barren country.

Keeping back from the right bank of the main channel, we passed some ridges of drift sand, and came on a fine lagoon nearly a mile in length. Here we surprised a party of natives, who decamped on our approach, leaving a net, fish, &c., which we of course left untouched, and camped at a spot lower down the lagoon.

9th May.—The next day, being Sunday, we remained at our camp, and the party of natives, consisting of seven or eight men, three or four women, and some children, approached us, and remained the greater part of the day near the tents. They were very anxious to enter the camp, but this was not permitted.

By signs they expressed that they had observed we had not taken away any of their property the evening before, when they ran away and left their nets, and were therefore satisfied our intentions were friendly; but we could not procure any information relative to the objects of our journey or the character of the country before us.

At 4 P.M. they informed us they were going to sleep at the most distant part of the lagoon, and would return next morning at sunrise, and then departed.

9th May.—After dark, however, the natives were detected attempting to crawl into the camp through the bushes, and though we called to them in an unmistakeable tone to retire, they would not withdraw.

As the position they had taken up was such as to command our camp, and render it unsafe in the event of an attack, it was necessary to dislodge them. I therefore fired a pistol over them, but was answered by a shout of derision, which no doubt would have been soon followed by a shower of spears had we not compelled them to retreat by a discharge of small shot directed into the scrub, after which we were not further molested.

10th May.—We were now approaching the junction of the Thompson River, but the country became worse as we advanced, {Page 25} and the last 5 miles of the plain were absolutely devoid of vegetation. Our hopes were, however, raised on finding that the late rain had caused the Thompson to flow, though the current was not strong; we had, besides, to travel upwards of 12 miles up its course before any grass could be found for the horses.

11th May.—Continuing our route up the Thompson, nothing could be more desolate than the aspect of the country: except the few trees which grew on the immediate bank of the river, there was scarcely a tree left alive, while the plains were quite bare of vegetation, except a few salsolaceous bushes. At the distance of 5 miles low ridges of red drift sand showed the desert character of all around; even the lower surfaces of the clouds assumed a lurid tinge from the reflection of the bare surface of red sand.

12th May.—In latitude 24° 40' low sandstone hills, or rather table-land, approached both banks of the river, and the gullies which intersected them had supplied the water lower down, as the channel was dry above. We, however, succeeded in reaching latitude 23° 47' (15th May), when the absence of water and grass—the rain not having extended so far north, and the channels of the river separating into small gullies and spreading on the wide plains—precluded our progressing farther to the north or west; and the only prospect of saving our horses was to return south as quickly as possible.

This was a more severe disappointment, as we had just reached the part of the country through which Leichhardt most probably travelled, if the season was sufficiently wet to render it practicable.

Thus compelled to abandon the principal object of the expedition, only two courses remained open—either to return to the head of the Victoria River and attempt a northern course by the valley of the "Belyando," or to follow down the river and ascertain whether it flowed into "Cooper Creek" or the Darling. The latter course appeared most desirable, as it was just possible that Leichhardt, under similar circumstances, had been driven to the S.W.

In order to ascertain whether any large watercourses came from the west, the return route was along the right bank of the Thompson, but only one small creek and some inconsiderable gullies joined on that side; nor was the country of a better character than on the left bank—consisting of barren plains, subject to inundation, low rocky ridges covered with dense scrub, and sandy ridges producing triodia.

22nd May.—We had nearly reached the Barcu, or Victoria River, when, in crossing a gully, Worrell's horse fell and hurt him so severely that we had to halt for some time before he could be placed {Page 26} on his horse again, and it was therefore fortunate that a small patch of dry grass was found on the bank of the river, which enabled us to halt the next day (23rd May), which was Sunday.

Travelling down the right bank of the river the principal channels were full of water, but the clay plains between were quite dry, the rain which had caused the river to flow not having extended so far south; nothing could well be more desolate than the unbounded level of these vast plains, which, destitute of vegetation, extended to the horizon. Our horses were reduced to feeding on the decayed weeds, and even these were so scarce that they eagerly devoured the thatch of some old native huts.

27th May.—We had nearly reached the farthest point attained by Mr. Kennedy when the horses showed signs of failing strength, and the channels on the east side of the plain being dry, I conceived it prudent to cross to the western side again.

The dry mud was so deeply cracked that the horses were continually falling, and one horse was so completely exhausted that we had to abandon him.

28th May.—Steering a westerly, and then a north course, we reached the small water-hole at Mr. Kennedy's second camp on the return route; there was just sufficient water to supply the party for one night, and a few scattered tufts of grass near it, but quite insufficient for the supply of so large a number of horses.

Close to the water-hole we found Mr. Kennedy's marked tree; it was a large box-tree, marked on the north side thus: cuts of the axe and chisel were still quite clear, though twelve years had elapsed; but the slow growth and decay of trees in the interior may be attributed to the dryness of the climate.

29th May.—Steering north-west, after toiling nearly 30 miles across this fearful waste of dry mud, we at length reached a small patch of grass on a sandy hummock, but only just in time to save the horses, as many could scarcely keep on their legs, and we had to remove their loads to those which were less exhausted.

30th May.—Long before the next morning our hungry animals had consumed every blade of grass, and the small patch round the camp was reduced to the same barren appearance as the surrounding plain. We therefore started in search of food for them, and were fortunate in finding a second patch of grass, about 3 miles to the south, and halted for the remainder of the day, which was Sunday, thankful that Providence had enabled us to make it a day of rest.

31st May.—The running channel of the river being still to the west of our position we steered south-west, over barren clay plains, to {Page 27} some low ridges of drift sand, beyond which we found the channel full of water, with a slight current (lat. 26° 2'); but it terminated in a large reach of water which had not yet filled, and the channel lower down was dry.

Low ridges of red drift sand were now frequent on the plain, and appeared to be the higher points of the former sandy desert, the clay plains resulting from the deposition of mud in the hollows between which had in course of time filled it to one uniform level.

1st June.—The channels on the western side of the plain were very irregular, sometimes completely lost on the level surface, and again collecting into large hollows, with box trees on the banks, in which fine sheets of water still remained, some 100 yards wide and more than a mile in length. We therefore did not experience so much inconvenience with regard to the supply of this necessary element as from the absence of sufficient grass, and the all but impracticable nature of the mud plains.

4th June.—In latitude 27° low sandstone table-land approached the west side of the river, and we attempted to travel along the slope between it and the mud plains, but found it so stony that the horses' hoofs were soon worn to the quick, as we had been compelled to remove their shoes to enable them to traverse the mud plains.

Had it not been for green bushes of salsola, and some similar plants which had sprung up since the rain, this tract of country exactly resembled the stony desert described by Captain Sturt, as existing 200 miles to the westward. These remarkable features forming the declivities of the sandstone table-land through which "Cooper Creek" forces its way, and by confining the waters to a narrower space during floods, causes the fine deep reaches of water which characterise it.

8th June.—By following the western limits of the plains we reached latitude 27° 30', when the sandstone table-land receded, and a boundless expanse of mud plain was before us; the lines of box trees which had hitherto marked the channels nearly ceased, polygonum and atriplex constituting the main feature of the vegetation.

9th June.—After toiling S.W. a day and a half over this level surface to latitude 27° 60', we approached some low ridges, at the foot of which there was a lagoon 100 yards wide, exhibiting signs of a current during flood to the N.W.; and as there was an evident westerly trend in all the smaller channels previously crossed, it was evident they would soon merge in Cooper Creek.

Steering W.N.W. the several channels collected together, and soon formed a deep watercourse, with fine reaches of water.

9th June.—-The sandstone table land closed in on both sides; the {Page 28} soil of the intervening plain was much firmer, but showed by the vegetation that saline nature which so often attends the development of the upper sandstones in Australia. Grass was abundant, and it was surprising with what rapidity the horses recovered their strength.

12th June.—Approaching the 141st meridian, which is the boundary of the province of South Australia, stony ridges closed in on both banks of Cooper Creek, forming almost a natural division, across which we followed a well-beaten native path; and here I observed the only instance which has come under ray observation where the aborigines have taken the trouble to remove natural obstacles from their paths. The loose stones had been cleared from the track, and in some places piled in large heaps.

14th June.—After passing the stony ridge the valley became wider, the hills receding suddenly, in longitude 140° 30', both to the north and south; and the whole country to the west seemed to consist of a succession of low ridges of red sand and level plains of dry mud, subject to inundation.

Shortly before reaching the branch of Cooper Creek, named by Captain Sturt "Strzelecki" Creek, we observed the tracks of two horses, one apparently a carthorse and the other a well-bred animal; but as none of their tracks were within the last month, the rain had obliterated them to such an extent that they could not be traced up, as they had left the bank of the creek on the first fall of rain, as is the usual habit of horses whose wanderings are uncontrolled.

There can be little doubt that these horses belonged to Captain Sturt, who left one in an exhausted state near this locality, and also lost a second horse, whose tracks were followed many miles in the direction of this part of Cooper Creek.

"Strzelecki Creek," which separates nearly at a right angle from the main channel, appears to convey about one-third of the waters of Cooper Creek nearly south, and, as we afterwards ascertained, connects it with Lake Torrens. We, however, continued to follow the channels which trended west for 30 miles, but large branches continually broke off to the south and west, and at length (16th June) the whole was lost on the wide plains of dry mud between the sand ridges; and, as there was no prospect of either water or grass to the west, I steered south and south-east for 50 miles over a succession of ridges of red drift sand, 10 to 50 feet high, running parallel to each other, and in a nearly north and south direction. Between these ridges we occasionally found shallow puddles of rain-water, or rather mud, as it was so thick with clay as to be scarcely fluid. Fortunately, a great quantity of green weeds had grown up since {Page 29} the rain, and the horses improved in condition and did not require much water.

21st June.—In latitude 28° 24' we again came on Strzelecki Creek, and then followed it nearly S.S.W. between sandy ridges to latitude 29° 25', when it turned to the west and entered Lake Torrens. (25th June.) No permanent water was seen in the bed of the creek, though there are many deep hollows which, when once filled, retain water for several months, and this, combined with the existence of a fine reach of water in Cooper Creek immediately above the point where Strzelecki Creek branches off, renders it far the best line of route into the interior which has yet been discovered.

Passing between the eastern point of Lake Torrens and what has hitherto been considered the eastern arm, but now ascertained to be an independent lake, the space between (about half a mile) was level sandy ground, covered with salicornia, without any apparent connecting channel. The course was continued S.S.W. towards Mount Hopeless, at the northern extreme of the high ranges of South Australia, which had been visible across the level country at a distance of 60 miles.

26th June.—As we approached the range of hills tracks of cattle and horses were observed, and 8 miles beyond Mount Hopeless came to a cattle station which had been lately established by Mr. Baker.

As the nature of the country we had traversed was such as not to admit of any useful deviations from it if we returned to New South Wales by land, I deemed it advisable to proceed forthwith to Adelaide, and, disposing of the horses and equipment, return with the party by sea to Sydney.

31st July.—We therefore proceeded by easy stages towards Adelaide, experiencing the greatest hospitality at the stations on our route, while our reception in the city was of the most flattering nature.

His Excellency Sir Richard Macdonald kindly gave me the use of an extensive paddock for the horses, and provided quarters for the men during the period which necessarily elapsed before the sale of the equipment of the expedition was effected. I have also to express my acknowledgments of the kind assistance rendered by the Honourable the Commissioner of Crown Lands, to the Surveyor-General, and the Superintendent of Telegraphs for valuable data connected with the construction of the map of the route, as well as to many other gentlemen whose cordial co-operation greatly facilitated my arrangements.

It is extremely gratifying to record my appreciation of the untiring zeal and energy which distinguished every individual composing the {Page 30} expedition; and it is to the unvarying and cheerful alacrity with which each and all performed their respective duties, that, under Providence, the rapidity and success of the journey are to be mainly attributed.

With reference to the probable fate of Leichhardt, it is evident, from the existence of the marked camp, nearly 80 miles beyond those seen by Mr. Hely, that the account given to that gentleman by the natives of the murder of the party was untrue; and I am inclined to think only a revival of the report current during Leichhardt's first journey to Port Essington. Nor is it probable that they were destroyed until they had left the Victoria, as, if killed by the natives, the scattered bones of the horses and cattle would have been observed during our search.

I am therefore of opinion that they left the river at the junction of the Alice, and, favoured by thunder showers, penetrated the level desert country to the north-west; in which case, on the cessation of the rain, the party would not only be deprived of a supply of water for the onward journey, but unable to retreat, as the shallow deposits of rain-water would evaporate in a few days, and it is not likely that they would commence a retrograde movement until the strength of the party had been severely taxed in the attempt to advance.

The character of the country traversed, from the out-stations on the Dawson River to the head of the Wan-ego River, was generally that of a grassy forest, with ridges of dense brigalow scrub. A great portion is available for pastoral purposes, but not well watered; and the soil being sandy, the grass would soon be destroyed if too heavily stocked.

As we advanced into the interior it became more barren, and, except along the banks of the larger watercourses, destitute of timber; and the character of the vegetation indicated excessive droughts.

North of lat. 26° dense scrubs of acacia prevailed on the level country beyond the influence of the inundations; but to the southward sandy and stony deserts, with low shrubby vegetation, were the characteristic feature.

West of longitude 147°, nearly to the boundary of South Australia, in 141°, the country is unfit for occupation, for, though in favourable seasons there might in some few localities be abundance of feed for stock, the uncertainty of rain and frequent recurrence of drought render it untenable, the grasses and herbage being principally annuals, which not only die, but are swept away by the hot summer winds, leaving the surface of the soil completely bare.

On Cooper Creek, near the boundary, there is a small tract of second-rate country, which, being abundantly supplied with water. {Page 31} may eventually be occupied. The best part is, however, within the Province of South Australia.

Between Cooper Creek and Lake Torrens about 120 miles of sandy country intervenes. This tract is destitute of surface water; but as it is probable that it could be obtained by sinking wells of moderate depth, I think it might be occupied to advantage during the cool season, and thus relieve the stations which are now established within Lake Torrens, though I fear that the summer heat would be too great to admit of permanent occupation.

The geological character of the country is remarkably uniform. Carboniferous sandstones and shales, containing occasional beds of coal, with superincumbent hills and ridges of basalt, extend from Darling Downs to the 146th meridian, where these rocks are covered by horizontal sandstones, with beds of chert and water-worn quartz pebbles. This latter formation extends as far as Mount Hopeless, where the slate ranges of South Australia rise abruptly from the plain.

The sandy deserts and mud plains are only superficial deposits, as the sandstones are often exposed where the upper formation is intersected by gullies.

The direction of the parallel ridges of drift sand appears to be the result of the prevailing winds, and not the action of water, it being sufficient to visit them on a windy day to be convinced that it is unnecessary to seek for a more remote and obscure cause than that which is in present operation.

It is, perhaps, with reference to the physical geography of Australia that the results of the expedition are most important; as, by connecting successively the explorations of Sir T. Mitchell, Mr. Kennedy, Captain Sturt, and Mr. Eyre, the waters of the tropical interior of the eastern portion of the continent are proved to flow towards Spencer Gulf, if not actually into it, the barometrical observations showing that Lake Torrens, the lowest part of the interior, is decidedly above the sea level.

Although only about one-third of the waters of Cooper Creek flow into Lake Torrens by the channel of Strzelecki Creek, there is strong evidence that the remaining channels, after spreading their waters on the vast plains which occupy the country between them and Sturt's Stony Desert, finally drain to the south, augmented probably by the waters of "Eyre Creek," the "Stony Desert," and perhaps some other watercourses of a similar character coming from the westward.

This peculiar structure of the interior renders it improbable that any considerable inland lakes should exist in connection with the {Page 32} known system of waters; for, as Lake Torrens is decidedly only an expanded continuation of Cooper Creek, and therefore the culminating point of this vast system of drainage, if there was sufficient average fall of rain in the interior to balance the effects of evaporation from the surface of an extensive sheet of water, the "Torrens Basin," instead of being occupied by salt marshes, in which the existence of anything beyond shallow lagoons of salt water is yet problematical, would be maintained as a permanent lake.

Therefore, if the waters flowing from so large a tract of country are insufficient to meet the evaporation from the surface of Lake Torrens, there is even less probability of the waters of the western interior forming an inland lake of any magnitude, even should there be so anomalous a feature as a depression of the surface in which it could be collected, especially as our knowledge of its limits indicates a much drier climate and less favourable conformation of surface than in the eastern division of the continent.

The undulations of the surface of the country are nearly parallel to the meridian, gradually decreasing in height from the dividing range between the eastern and western waters till, instead of the waters of the rivers being confined to valleys, they occupy plains formed by a slight flattening of the curvature of the sphere. Thus the sides of the plain through which the river ran before it turned west to Cooper Creek were 150 feet below the tangential level of the centre channels, and even the summit of the sandstone table land which rose beyond was below the visible horizon.

It is this peculiar conformation which causes the stream beds to spread so widely when following the course of the valleys from north to south, and it is only where they break through the intervening ridges that the water is confined sufficiently to form well-defined channels.

The existence of these extensive valleys trending north and south over so large a tract of country, renders it by no means unlikely that they continue far beyond the limits of present explorations, and it is not unreasonable to infer that the great depression which has been traced nearly 500 miles north from Spencer Gulf through Lake Torrens to the stony desert of Sturt (or rather the mud plains contiguous to its western limit), may be continuous for an equal distance beyond to the low land at the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria; a theory also supported by the fact, that the rivers flowing into the Gulf either come from the east or west, apparently from higher land in those directions, while there is not a single watercourse from the south, or any indication of elevated country in that direction.

With regard to the number and habits of the aborigines, I could {Page 33} gather little information, as only a collective number of about 100 men, a few women and children, were seen in small scattered parties; but, judging from the number of encampments seen, at least a thousand must visit the banks of the river; and it is probable that the whole of the inhabitants for at least a hundred miles on each side ai'e dependent on it for water during the dry season.

Neither sex wear any clothing. Their weapons and utensils are similar to those used on the eastern coast; nor was there any characteristic by which they could be observed to differ from the aborigines of other portions of Australia.

Fish, rats, grass seeds, and a few roots, constitute their chief food.

On the upper part of the river they bury their dead, piling wood on the grave; near the junction of the Thompson they suspend the bodies in nets, and afterwards remove the bones; while on Cooper Creek the graves are mounds of earth 3 to 4 feet high, apparently without any excavation, and surmounted by a pile of dead wood. In the last-named locality the number of burial mounds which had been constructed about two years ago greatly exceeded the proportion of deaths which could have possibly occurred in any ordinary season of mortality, even assuming the densest population known in any other part of Australia; and it is not improbable that the seasons of drought which proved so destructive to the tree vegetation higher up the river may have been equally disastrous in its effects on the aboriginal inhabitants of this portion of the interior.

A. C. Gregory.   

Sydney, 27th August, 1858.

The President.—I am happy to hear that the views of so experienced an Australian traveller as Mr. Gregory coincide with the opinion I have so frequently expressed as to the probable saline condition of the interior of Australia. This is the same gentleman who performed that remarkable journey from North Australia to Sydney, which obtained for him our Gold Medal. He is the first man who has gone far to determine the great problem, by journeys on three sides of Australia, that the great interior is a saline desert.

Count Strzelecki, f.r.g.s.—The valuable paper which was just communicated to the Society suggests at its outset a painful reminiscence, and as painful regret that Mr. Gregory's expedition, undertaken with a view to ascertain the fate of the deeply-lamented Leichhardt, has failed in the humane object with which it was conceived, and that, like the preceding ones, it only adds fresh evidences of the indubitable loss which the public has sustained. The services of Leichhardt deserved indeed all the efforts which New South Wales has been making in search of him. In about 1840, while I was engaged in surveying the south of that colony, Leichhardt began his career of an explorer in the north of Moreton Bay: in 1846 he undertook and accomplished the perilous journey across from Brisbane waters to Port Essington which, from its dangers, privations, and value of geographical discoveries earned for him the well-deserved honours which this Society and the colony so justly bestowed upon him. Unfortunately, in the end or the commencement {Page 34} of 1847, Leichhardt fell a prey to his praiseworthy attempt to traverse the continent from Moreton Bay to Swan River. His loss originated then a series of expeditions, among which that of Mr. Gregory deserves a most prominent place and notice from the range of scientific knowledge which it furnishes of the Australian continent. For although his expedition did not lead to the discovery of Leichhardt's traces, his different journeys from the north-east and south-east, performed towards the centre, girdle as it wore the mysterious and impenetrable region of the interior of Australia, and facilitate thus the solution of that geographical problem. Considering then the services rendered to science by Mr. Gregory, this Society cannot but join cordially in the thanks to that distinguished explorer which are proposed to him from the chair.





5. The Clarke Interlude

5.1. Clarke's Letter to S.M.H., July, 1858

LEICHHARDT AND THE DESERT.[—(1)

To the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sir,—In your interesting leader of this morning on the subject of Mr. Gregory's recent journey from Moreton Bay to Adelaide, I find these words: "That the Victoria River joined the stream which Captain Sturt has called Cooper's Creek was considered as nearly certain by all who paid attention to the matter; but it was thought that their united waters found their way to the Darling, somewhere in the neighbourhood of Mount Murchison. It appears, however, that their real outlet is Lake Torrens."

This must have been written in forgetfulness of certain geographical papers and reviews on the subject of the explorations of Mitchell, Kennedy, Sturt, Leichhardt, &c., which appeared in your columns during the years 1848 and 1849. In one of them, in the Herald of June 23, 1849, we read as follows: "It seems a curious thing that four explorers should have traced its course in portions, and, yet, that there should be so many gaps. Mitchell, Kennedy, Sturt, and Eyre have seen it from its beginning to its ending, but neither one nor all continuously. But its termination in the channel of Lake Torrens, to which it runs, is very different from what was anticipated at the time of its discovery, though just that which the almost parallel courses of the rivers forming the Darling would naturally indicate."

I am induced to notice this, because the journey of Mr. Gregory has proved that the views entertained of the natural courses of the rivers flowing on the interior border of New South Wales (which views, however, were disputed at the time), and which were repeatedly mentioned by one writer in your columns, were well founded. So many events have occurred within the last few years, to call off attention from the geographical conditions of this great continent, that it may have escaped recollection how that writer showed, by fair demonstration, that the rivers in question could, in consequence of the peculiar structure of the country, take no other course than to the south-west, though, in spite of his own discoveries and calculations of level, the late Surveyor-General insisted upon these waters finding their way to the Gulf of Carpentaria. No one who had really studied the structure of Australia could believe that the Victoria would ever join the Darling; and it was stated in your columns that it would be found following a distinct course to the head of Spencer's Gulf.

Captain Sturt, reviewing at the end of his narrative the discoveries of Kennedy, in connection with his own, comes to a conclusion, which made him doubt his own original views. But, he points out that Kennedy had shown that "just below where the Alice joins the Victoria, the latter river had already commenced its south-west course, and that the last thirty miles down which the Surveyor-General traced this river, was a part of the general south-west course, which it afterwards maintained to the termination of Mr. Kennedy's route," &c.

Mr. Gregory's two journeys have satisfactorily established two points. He has shown, by adopting Leichhardt's general line from the Roper River to Moreton Bay, that that traveller's account of his journey from Moreton Bay to the Roper River is in the main correct; and by following down the Barcoo (Mitchell's Victoria) to Cooper's Creek, and finally to Lake Torrens, he has filled up the gaps alluded to above, and shown that the structure of this country is of a very simple and consistent kind, as previously suggested.

The rapid manner in which Mr. Gregory has accomplished his undertaking is deserving of all praise; but, of course, that has deprived him of the means of investigation as to any value of the country traversed in respect of its mineral resources. The chief value of these rapid journeys is, however, in this.

To Mr. Gregory we are indebted for the outlines of the northern and eastern borders of the central desert, and all conjecture having now been set at rest on those points, we have it in our power to define the actual limits of available land to the west and north-west of New South Wales.

But, as regards the supposed chief object of the last journey, viz., a search for Leichhardt, it must be held that, owing to the peculiar nature of the late and present season, such investigation has been frustrated.

I will now offer a suggestion respecting that investigation. Occupied, as I have been, for nearly twenty years in the study of the physical character of Australia, the explorations and discoveries that have been made have continually engaged my leisure hours, and, therefore, I may, perhaps, be pardoned for touching on this subject. My intimate acquaintance with most of the explorers has also led to discussions and correspondence with them on the proposed routes beforehand and on the results afterwards. Now, as touching Leichhardt, I am persuaded his remains have not been sought for in the right direction.

Previous to his last departure from Sydney, he was on a visit to me; and we occupied some time in collecting information on the possibility of his overland journey to Swan River. Over and over again he stated to me, that he would never again see Syd[n]ey, unless he came from the Swan River. And when I pointed out to him the great improbability that a direct route existed, by means of oases in the desert, which was a favourite idea of his, he built very much upon a fact mentioned by Mr. Gregory (or his brother), in his account of the country to the north-east of Perth, that a great accumulation of bones of supposed buffaloes had been met with. Leichhardt insisted that these were not the bones of buffaloes, but of bullocks, which had crossed the country from the western frontier of this colony. And he argued, that if cattle could get across, it must have been by oases, where grass would be found, and that he could cross also.

But, after a great deal of consideration, he said it would be better to skirt the desert, and that, therefore, his final intention was to follow up the Burdekin to the river he named after myself, and proceed from the head of the Clarke, which he had not seen, to the westward, and so attempt to reach the country where the bones where found, by crossing the tract along the north-west end west coast, which, so far, as I believe, offers very little hope of success in any season.

That this was always in the mind of Leichhardt may be inferred from what he himself published respecting his second expedition, from which he was driven back by fever:—"The object of the new expedition here alluded to, is to explore the interior of Australia, to discover the extent of Sturt's Desert, and the character of the western and north-western coast, and to observe the gradual change in vegetation and animal life, from one side of the continent to the other. Dr. Leichhardt does not expect to be able to accomplish this overland journey to Swan River"—(i.e. by way of the bounds of Sturt's Desert, the west and north-west coasts) "in less than two years and a half. . . . According to a letter written by him on the eve of his departure (December 6, 1846.") . . . "He then purposed to travel over his old route as far as Peak Range, and then to shape his course westwards, but thought it not impossible, as his course depends on water, that he should be obliged to reach the Gulf of Carpentaria and then follow up some river to its source."—Appendix to Journal, p. 544.

It is quite clear from this that he would never rashly venture into the desert, and it is not impossible that he might have been dead or dying nearer to the North-west Victoria*, from which Mr. Gregory started on 21st June, 1856, than to the Victoria (Barcoo), where Mr. Gregory found the letter L in 1858.

[* North-west Victoria is that which Mr. Gregory visited in 1856.]

My impression is, therefore, that Leichhardt never attempted to cross by way of Mitchell's Victoria.

There is another reason why I think he would not. A great jealousy existed between the two explorers: Sir Thomas called Leichhardt—adding an expressive expletive—"a .... foreign coaster"—alluding to his habit of keeping as near the sea as possible—and under this impression he removed one of Leichhardt's mountain ranges (Expedition Range) a whole degree of longitude out of the place to which he had assigned it. This may be seen on Sir Thomas' General Map of his expeditions up to the year 1850. A similar feeling would have kept Leichhardt from following Mitchell's tracks; and yet it is at the junction of the Alice and Barcoo, where the united waters run south-west, that Mr. Gregory looked for traces of his outward-bound course. The letter L carved on a tree in longitude 146.6 is not likely to be Leichhardt's, because he was in the habit of marking all his camps, and only this has been found. It might, perhaps, have been the mark of Luff, who accompanied Kennedy.

The spot is close to the camp of Sir Thomas Mitchell of the 17th September, 1845; and of Kennedy's camp on 29th July, 1847. Sir Thomas Mitchell repassed the locality the day he gave to the river its name. Kennedy himself does not appear to have marked his camp till his arrival at his furthest point, which was on the 9th September, and then his mark was
E K
——
1847
the next camp upwards bearing KII. On looking over his journal, which I prepared for the press, I find Luff was frequently out with him.

It is not impossible, however, that some stockmen may have been there; expeditions of that kind are not uncommon, and the late Mr. Nelson Lawson told me that his stockmen at Fort Bourke, on the Darling, had been in this way across the country as far as what is now known as Mount Lyell, which was one of the points made by Sturt in his last expedition into Central Australia. No dependence then can, I think, be put on the solitary L, in longitude 146°. And I am still of opinion that the remains of Leichhardt's expedition, seeing the cattle have not returned, will, if ever, be found far away to the north-westward, of any search yet made.

As conjectures can do harm, it may be farther observed that Kennedy commenced his exploration of the unknown portion of the river on the 13th August, and he again reached his camp of July 29th (146°E), on the 12th October, during which interval he remained ten days in camp at different places, making the locality in question the fiftieth of his camps. This might account for the L. But there is a fact mentioned by him, under date of 12th August, which seems to show that a visitor had been on the Victoria since Sir T. Mitchell; for not very far distant from his farthest point, and where he had never been, in a spot too rough for pleasant riding, Kennedy came upon horse dung in two places near the river, and Mitchell, he says, as the charts also show, kept wide of the river there for three days. Sir Thomas also says, that even there the chief of the native tribe had possession of an "iron tomahawk, with a very long handle to it." This is on a river unknown, as he thought, till then to the white man! According to Mitchell's account of the "large permanent huts of the natives," even the saplings, &c., seen by Mr. Gregory might be either the remains of a temporary hut, or of a native hut, as well as of Leichhardt. At any rate, it is very unlikely that he is living; and all the stories about his captivity appear to me idle speculation. The parties who accompanied Leichhardt were, perhaps, little capable of shifting for themselves in case of any accident to the leader. The second in command, a brother-in-law of Leichhardt, came from Germany to join him just before starting; and he told me, when I asked him what his qualifications for the journey were, that he had been at sea, had suffered shipwreck, and was therefore well able to endure hardship. I do not know what his other qualifications were. Leichhardt himself was of weak sight, afflicted with a troublesome complaint, and, if we are to believe the statements of those who were with him, by no means a good bushman. That under such circumstances, he ever found his way through the desert, where opthalmia is so general an enemy, is improbable; but knowing his ideas of exploration, and having conversed on the topic with him, I feel convinced, that he never attempted the desert where he has been looked for, and that it is not improbable that some of his camps, which Mr. Gregory found on his homeward journey from the north-west coast, are likely to have been his camps on his third and last expedition.

It is this problem which I hope will yet be solved; and perhaps when the gold-fields, which will some day be discovered about the Burdekin River, and its higher affluents, shall have attracted population into that region, we shall know more of the fate of my poor friend than we are likely to do from what has hitherto been accomplished.

Mr. Gregory might, perhaps, be able to tell whether the L in 146° E. is of more recent date than those he saw on the north-west route; and whether these were all of the same epoch. The remains of saplings, used for a temporary shelter, might also teach something. The experience Leichhardt had of the danger of housing, in the case of Gilbert, who lost his life owing to his living under cover, made him shy of useless covering, which also concealed the blacks who might come upon him.

I have not written this with the very slightest idea of depreciating Mr. Gregory, with whose acquaintance I am honoured and for whom I entertain the greatest respect; but at this juncture, it seems right to state plainly what are the opinions of one, who has given as much attention as most persons in the colony, to the subject in hand, who has contributed very much to the general information on the physical geography of the continent, and whose intercourse with all the explorers of the last twenty years has been considerable.

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,

W. B. CLARKE.   

St. Leonard's, 28th July.

*North-west Victoria is that which Mr. Gregory visited in 1856.

[Footnote also here copied to end of paragraph in which it occurs.]





5.2. Clarke's Letter to S.M.H., 5 August, 1858

LEICHHARDT AND THE DESERT.[—(2)]

To the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sir, I am not in the habit of writing of others, dead or alive, that which requires an apology. Nor do I ever say of them that which I cannot, so far as I believe, substantiate. Mr. Richard Thompson, however, states that he has "read with much pain" what I said in my letter in Friday's Herald, viz., that "a great jealousy existed between the two explorers," viz., Sir T. L. Mitchell and Dr. Leichhardt. It will give me much pleasure if I am enabled to remove the pain I have unintentionally inflicted.

Probably, had Mr. Thompson given me credit for using the word "jealous" in any but the worst sense of the word, he would have been nearer the mark; but, overlooking the sense in which it was used, as connected with exploration, and that of a particular portion of this country, he has assumed that I apply it in a sense which it is not capable of bearing under the circumstances involved.

Cicero tells us that jealousy is this: Aegritudo si eo quod concupieret alius patiatur, ipse careat. "Jealous" is defined, in Crabbe's English Synonymes, in this way. "The jealous man has an object of desire, something to get and something to retain: he does not look beyond the object that interferes with his enjoyment." "Jealousy," he adds, "is a noble or an ignoble passion, according to the object: in the former case it is emulation; sharpened by fear; in the latter case it is greediness, stimulated by fear." Now, it was not in the latter, but in the former case, I used the word; the same sense in which I found it in the lexicons of our mother-tongue—"Emulous, full of competition."

I was endeavouring to assign my reasons for believing that Leichhardt never ventured into the desert; one of which was, that his habit of exploration was to keep nearer the sea, and I illustrated this by quoting the remark made to me by Sir Thomas (and also made to others), and his act in removing, from the place assigned to it, the Expedition Range a degree nearer the sea than it held on the original chart of Leichhardt's journey. And I said, that a great jealousy existed.

In order to prove that Sir T. Mitchell was not jealous of Leichhardt, in the matter of his exploration, Mr. Thompson, by a logic of his own, tells us, that Captain Ferry drafted Leichhardt's chart; that Captain Perry defended Leichhardt's exploration; that Mr. Roderick Mitchell offered to go in search of Leichhardt, and other things of like kind. And he then says, that I have expressed, as "imputation," that which, as regards the late Sir T. Mitchell, he declares to be "unfounded."

I can assure Mr. Thompson that I have too many recollections of services rendered by Sir Thomas to myself, and of the conversations I have had with him, and of letters received from him, to desire to say any thing unfounded respecting him. During the period I had the honour of his acquaintance in England, which commenced before I had come to this colony, I have had to acknowledge many little attentions, which I do not overlook; but I cannot say that I think he was free from jealousy respecting his own particular status as an explorer, nor respecting that particular exploration to which I was alluding. Sir Thomas was celebrated for energy, perseverance, intellect, and acquirement; he was a scholar and a poet; but he was a man for all that. And never did he show his relationship to our common humanity more than in this very matter which Mr. Thompson disputes, and for my opinion of which he condemns me.

Every man "has his hobby"—no doubt Mr. Thompson has his own, I have mine, and Sir. T. Mitchell had his. That was, his idea that be should some day get to Carpentaria. This seems to have been his day-dream, and his vision by night. It was undoubtedly a "noble" ambition to attain this point. He saw the advantages which would eventually accrue to this country if a route could be opened thither; and his volumes are full of it. If, then, the "object" was "noble," according to the definition above, even "jealousy" of other explorers was not altogether an "ignoble passion."

So strongly was the impression on his mind, that a practical river-way did exist to the Gulf, that it led to Sir Thomas's expedition into tropical Australia in 1845 and 1846.

In the account of that expedition, we read as follows:—(He is speaking of his return from the exploration of the river Belyando, now determined by Mr. Gregory to be the Suttor of Leichhardt)—"I reluctantly ordered my men (who believed themselves on the highway to Carpentaria) to turn the horses' heads homewards, merely saying that we were obliged to explore from a higher point." And, having come to a conclusion, that he ought, instead of seeking "it in this east coast river to have sought the River of Carpentaria to the westward of all the sources of the river Salvator;" he then got on the Nive, which is now known to ran to the south (since it joins the Warrego) into the desert, and of this, he says—"I verily believed that this river would run to Carpentaria." Next we find him on the head of the Victoria, and if the enthusiasm with which he hailed the first sight of this river, which he called the noblest in Australia (for which reference may be made to his reports to the Government, and to his "Tropical Australia") do not prove, that he must have been jealous for the honor of his own designs, I confess I do not understand what I am writing. "What was all this," he says "to the romantic uncertainty as to what lay beyond?" "There, I found then, at last, the realization of my long cherished hopes, an interior river, falling to the N.W., in the heart of an open country extending in that direction. Ulloa's delight on the first view of the Pacific could not have surpassed mine on this occasion, nor could the fervour with which he was impressed at the moment have exceeded my sense of gratitude, for being allowed to make such a discovery." [p. 309.]

Sir Thomas told me himself, that when he saw the first streaks of daylight reflected from the distant waters, he fell upon his knees, raised his hat, and offered his thanks to God for the discovery he had made. Yet, the very same day, after he had reached this extraordinary river, he could get no water for his horse. A week afterwards he writes, "I laid down our journey on paper, and found we were making great progress towards Carpentaria, across a very open country." In spite, however, of this, the Victoria did not run to Carpentaria at all, but to the southwards; and, though Sir Thomas left it, where its bed was only 633 feet above the sea, he still saw it at that point running nearly northward, though it immediately after took the course which led Kennedy into the desert, and Gregory to Cooper's Creek. Notwithstanding all doubts, he wrote to the Colonial Secretary, "although I could not follow the river throughout its long course at that advanced season, I was convinced that its estuary was in the Gulf of Carpentaria. At all events the country is open and well watered for a direct route thereto. That the river is the most important of Australia, increasing as it does by successive tributaries, and not a mere product of distant ranges, admits of no dispute; and the downs and plains of Central Australia, through which it flows, seem sufficient to supply the whole world with animal food."

This is, however, not all. In the instructions issued by Sir Thomas to Mr. Kennedy, 22nd February, 1847, respecting his exploration of the Victoria, he wrote: "But the principal object of the journey being the determination of the course of the Victoria, and the discovery of a convenient route to the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria, the accomplishment of these great objects must be steadily kept in view, without regard to minor considerations. . . . On arriving at or near the Gulf of Carpentaria," &c., &c.

Now, I think I have shown quite enough to prove that Carpentaria was a kind of scientific lady-love of the late Surveyor-General; and I do not think the word jealous at all too strong to represent his feelings at the idea, that another would supplant him in the attainment of his coveted object. I now come to that point.

But, before I touch on it, I must take the liberty of stating an anecdote, which confirms what I have just written, and what I aver on the honor of a gentleman. Previous to Sir Thomas' departure on his expedition to the Victoria, I called on him at his office, and had conversation with him respecting the probable condition of the country in the parallel of 25·. I took with me an ideal section, and showed him that I believed the country in that parallel would end abruptly to the westward. He took the paper and put it away, and said he would keep it to refer to, and would tell me how it was when he returned.

On his return I called on him to offer my congratulations, and to chat over his discoveries. He said, "You were right about the 25th degree, and it was there I found the Victoria." I said to him that river can never go to Carpentaria; you left it at 633 feet above the sea—less than 500 miles from the Gulf, and as the curvature is more than 300 feet, how is it to get thither, even if no ranges for the Gulf waters intervene? His reply was emphatic: "Then, . . . ., Sir, I will make it."

Mr. Thompson has given us a detail about matters connected with Leichhardt's chart of his journey to Port Essington-what Sir George Gipps said, and what Captain Perry did, &c. Now all this, save the opinion of Sir George, I have long known.

It is quite true that at first Leichhardt was to have joined Sir Thomas in a subordinate capacity; for, referring to a letter, dated December, 1843, from Mr. Lynd, the Barrack Master of Sydney, to Leichhardt, I find the former says: "You will have heard that the Governor has stopped for the present all idea or the overland expedition. I am sorry for it on all accounts, but especially on yours, as I understand Sir T. Mitchell had felt disposed to associate you in that concern, had you desired. The Governor has good reasons for his conduct, which I will explain when we meet."

Now, when it is considered, that Leichhardt was a foreigner, and undertook, as chief, that which was denied to Sir Thomas with Leichhardt as a subaltern, it may be conceived that jealousy respecting Carpentaria might occur. Much more, then, when Leichhardt's journey was un fait accompli, may we, without doing injustice to the memory of Sir Thomas, think there was a jealous expression in the following words, which we find in his journal under date of 2nd June, 1846, written on the Maranoa, not very many miles from the spot assumed by Mr. Hely to be the scene of Leichhardt's death. "Mr Kennedy had brought me a dispatch from Commissioner Mitchell, accompanied by some newspapers, in which I read such passages as the following:-'Australia Felix and the discoveries of Sir Thomas Mitchell now dwindle into comparative insignificance.' 'We understand the intrepid Leichhardt is about to start on another expedition to the Gulf, keeping to the westard of the coast ranges,' &c., &c., &c.; and then, he adds, 'Not very encouraging to us certainly; but we work for the future.'

Surely, these words, at least, convey a feeling very much akin to what most people would call jealousy—although I think them nothing but reasonable, and just what, under similar circumstances, Mr. Thompson might himself feel.

Mr. Thompson thinks this not probable, because Captain Perry, as Deputy Surveyor-General, drafted the map of Leichhardt's route. I really do not see the sequitur. This, I believe, that Sir Thomas was not in Sydney at the time; and this I know, that Captain Perry told me Sir Thomas was annoyed and angry he had done so. Again, Mr. Thompson says that, because Captain Perry praised Leichhardt's perseverance, therefore there could be no such feeling as I have named; and he quotes the fact, that Leichhardt named a river The Mitchell, as if the jealousy alluded to ought to have ended in the ignoring of all by each. This is, however, clear, that though Leichhardt, as he says, "took the liberty of naming after Sir Thomas Mitchell, the talented Surveyor-General of New South Wales," the river which now bears his name, Sir Thomas has nowhere returned the compliment, nor has he admitted anything but Expedition Range to appear, which Leichhardt discovered. But Sir Thomas might not have intended unfriendliness by this.

Mr. Thompson seems to think, too, that because Sir Thomas Mitchell, like every other Christian man, felt deep regret at the loss of Leichhardt; therefore, in the matter of the letter's previous success there could be no such jealousness as I have named. Does he, then, believe that I have such a bad opinion of Sir Thomas, as to consider himself worse than the savages; or that an English knight had none of the feelings of an English gentleman about him? I maintain again that there was a jealousy between the "two explorers," but not that kind of jealousy which is only appreciable by people of a certain disposition. I meant no more than I have said; and I now say again, what I meant,—that I do not believe Sir Thomas Mitchell would have followed in Leichhardt's tracks (as proved by his return from the Belyando so soon as he was convinced it was a "river on M. Leichhardt's route," &c.); nor do I believe Leichhardt, who, in his way, was as great an explorer as Mitchell, and who kept up his dignity when in the field, would follow the track, of the latter to his own destruction.

I shall have something more to say on that subject another time; my business now being to dispose of Mr. Thompson's condemnation of me, I confine myself to it. But I cannot close this letter without two further remarks.

Mr. Thompson depreciates Leichhardt's map—says it was Captain Perry's, and that Captain Perry derived but "very meagre aids in the vignette illustrations of Leichhardt." Did, then, Captain Perry draw the map from imagination? I know this:—Leichhardt mapped down his route after his own method, by latitudes, bearings, and distances. That route was worked from the map by Captain Perry; and Captain Perry, shewing it to me, said he was satisfied with its general accuracy, for it fitted in well with acknowledged positions. In this matter, Sir Thomas Mitchell was even more generous than Mr. Thompson. He says in a note at p. 4 (Tropical Australia), "the journal of his journey, recently published, shows what difficulties may be surmounted by energy and perseverance." All this is, however, compatible with a jealous feeling respecting the first discovery of a way to Carpentaria.

Finally, that Sir Thomas Mitchell did alter the position of Expedition Range in his chart from the place assigned by Leichhardt or (if Mr. Thompson would rather have it so) by the Deputy Surveyor-General, Captain Perry, is patent to all who compare the chart appended to Leichhardt's work and which was embodied by the critical Arrowsmith), with the General Map of 1850 by Sir T. Mitchell, and he will further see that on the latter there is added on the place of the range, "from Mann's survey."

Now, how was this? The same Sir Thomas who was (at any rate) jealous of his authority as a leader, displaces a feature from the map of another leader on the strength of the private information of a subordinate, who could no more have surveyed the spot (in the sense supposed by Mr. Thompson) than Leichhardt himself.

It so happens that I have at this moment lying before me the MS. journal of Mr. Mann, who accompanied Leichhardt on his second expedition to Peak Range; and I find this entry under date of Monday, 8th February, 1847. "At 10 miles cross Erythrina Creek, below its junction with Expedition Creek. The Dr. reconnoitred after dinner; found we were on Erythrina Greek, and about 3 miles from a former camp." (That of 9th December, 1844.) He then gives the latitude 24·44.

Thus, then, Mann confirms the latitude. And, as to longitude, Mann notes next day that "Mount Nicholson was due south, a fine, bold, flattish-topped mountain 2000 feet at least high."

Could two expeditions be thus in general agreement, if the longitude is out a whole degree and the error not be discovered, especially by one who was well able to detect it?

I must leave all this to the judgment of the reader; but I think Mr. Thompson might have left the word jealous where it was, without any detriment to the subject.

The displacement of the range was under the conviction that the explorer was nearer to the sea than Captain Perry's chart made him; and I well recollect that the late Admiral King told me that Sir Thomas had said to him, also, that Leichhardt had, on one occasion, got very close to the east coast.

If I have omitted to notice anything else, which ought to have received due honour in Mr. Thompson's letter, I must beg him to be kind enough, in consideration of the length to which this has run, to accept the will for the deed.

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,

W. B. CLARKE.   

St. Leonard's, 3rd August.





5.3. Clarke's Letter to S.M.H., 24 August, 1858

LEICHHARDT AND THE DESERT.[—(3)]

To the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sir,—The supplement to the Government Gazette of 4th December, 1846, containing the despatches of Sir T. L. Mitchell, "reporting the progress made by the expedition under his command in exploring the overland route to Port Essington," states that he advanced up the Balonne River to Mount Abundance, in 26·39'30" S. and 148·40' E.; and that he afterwards travelled down the Belyando, of which he says, "Your Excellency may imagine with what disappointment I then discovered that this river, which has brought us so far, instead of leading to the Gulf of Carpentaria, was no other than that which Mr. Leichhardt had called "the Cape, a river from the West." Sir Thomas then states that "the Eastern Coast Range, hitherto supposed to extend from Wilson's Promontory to Cape York, is only imaginary," and "that there was no feature deserving the name of a coast range to the westward of the Belyando was too evident from the absence of any tributaries of importance." He then "lost no time in renewing his search for the River of Carpentaria," being satisfied that the S.W. course of the rivers previously seen, and that of the Belyando reduced "the probability that the waters falling still further westward form a river running to the Gulf almost to a certainty." He next reported that the Victoria, "he was convinced, had its estuary in the Gulf of Carpentaria," and was a river "watering the best portion of the largest island in the world." He found, he says, "the country beautiful, and the party with him never suffered any inconvenience from heat or want of water." He had "no collision with the aborigines, although parties of them on different occasions visited his party at the camp during his absence, and very significantly declared, brandishing their spears or clubs, that the country was theirs, and making signs to his men to quit it and follow him." This was in 1846.

Notwithstanding the Surveyor-General was thus hampered with the rivers on his way to Port Essington, Leichhardt had found his way thither, by following the mountains between these rivers and the sea, and coasting the southern border of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Hence, he obtained the soubriquet of the "foreign-coaster."

Leichhardt, on this occasion, avoided the edge of the desert; but had he not lost his horses in crossing the Roper River, he would have seen it in returning. But he says: "The loss of these was very heavy. I had to throw away the greatest part of my botanical and geological collections; and my plan of returning overland, cutting off the angles of my route and keeping more to the westward were frustrated." This was in 1844-5.

That, however, which he could not do, has been since done by Mr. Gregory, who in 1855-6 following on a line parallel to that adopted by Leichhardt, that which he was prevented from adopting, has given us the information which was needed, as to the sources of the waters crossed by Leichhardt along the Gulf, in a low table land of desert country, which has, however, sufficient elevation to prevent the Barcoo or any other rivers from the south breaking through. Mr. G. says, by this route parallel to Leichhardt's along the Gulf, "the distance to which the rivers extend from the coast has now been approximately ascertained." This service was only exceeded by the discovery of a dividing ridge on the 130th meridian, whence the drainage fell on one side to the (N.W.) Victoria, and on the other to the desert. Mr. Gregory has further shown, that as the rainy season had been dry, no grass or water existed south of 18· S. on that parallel, or of 20· on the parallel of 127· E.; and, therefore, after such a season, though that point might be attained from Sydney by land, little hope would be left for an expedition coasting along the N.W. coast to Swan River. He has also shown that, in that distant part of Australia, the water courses falling to the desert take the same direction as the rivers on the south side the desert, first trending to N.W. and then curving round to the S.W.

In August, 1847, Leichhardt undertook and completed a short journey to connect Moreton Bay with the Maranoa of Mitchell; it was his own route, therefore, which he followed when, in 1848, he travelled in eleven days from Birrell's station, on the Condamine, 118 miles from Mount Abundance, from which his last letter was written, and which is found in the Herald of 1st June, 1848. [1.3]

But, previous to this, in the years 1846 and 1847, he had made his second unsuccessful journey to Peak Range, on his way to Western Australia. And it was on his return from that journey, that he undertook the shorter exploration, which has just been mentioned.

Thus far, we find Leichhardt following his own tracks up to April 1848, when we lose sight of him; to Peak Range, in 1847, by his former route, in 1844-5, and to Mount Abundance in 1848 by his former route in 1847. Just as Sir T. L. Mitchell turned back when he found himself on a river of M. Leichhardt, so we see the latter keeping his own individual plan of exploration.

We have now only conjecture as to what has become of him; but judging from the past experience, he is not likely to be found on the tracks of the late Surveyor-General, though of course he may have crossed them.

In the year 1852, four years after the last tidings of Leichhardt, an expedition was en route to look for him, under the charge of Mr. Hovenden Hely, who discovered two camps marled by the same letters XVA within a border, which may certainly have been intended for the letter L, but is a rough kind of initial. In the year 1858, six years after Mr. Hely, Mr. A. C. Gregory starts on a similar errand, and finds a letter L (a huge letter) without other marks on a tree, on the Victoria River, not far from the known camp of Mitchell in 1846, and probably on one of those of Kennedy in 1847.

Supposing these discoveries to be of those required, the intervals that have elapsed and the difference of seasons must have occasioned difficulties in the way of establishing the necessary identifications.

It may be well, first of all, to consider the affirmative, and this can only be done, by referring to the details of Mr. Hely's exploration. The information he has given is vague and brief. Although the latitudes of some localities in his journey are recorded, his report omits those of the two camps in which he found the marked trees. And the account is too confused, to enable them to be laid down with any certainty. Nevertheless, they appear to be somewhere between the Warrego and the Nive of Sir T. L. Mitchell, and on the upper part of that district, on a course not far northwards of a direct line between Mount Abundance and the L of Gregory.

Now, if we are to admit that the two marks XVA are Leichhardt's, and that, as Mr. Hely says, they mean the 15th April (though they might just as well stand for the 15th August), the distance from Mount Abundance will be at a rough guess about 150 miles, and from Gregory's L. about 100, or at least 80.

But we know that Leichhardt's journey to Mount Abundance was at the rate of less than eleven miles a day; and his road, he says, was excellent, with the exception of a little brigalo scrub here and there. At that rate his journey to Hely's XVA camps, would have taken nearly thirteen days; and, therefore, the date XV A (15th April), could hardly be correct, because Leichhardt did not leave Mount Abundance till after the 4th of April.

If, however, we adopt the distance indicated in the memorandum forwarded by Mr. Gregory to the Colonial Secretary, on 15th September, 1857, at 190 miles (since Surat is 40 from Mount Abundance), we shall see that Leichhardt's time must have been at least 18 days, which could not bring him to XVA on the 15th April, but at least eight days later. Moreover, Mr. Hely says the country at the time was under the waters of an inundation, so that Leichhardt could go where he pleased (which is the reason he gives for not finding more of Leichhardt's tracts), and we know from Mitchell and Kennedy, that the country is very difficult and very different from that between Birrell's and Mount Abundance; and we further know, that Leichhardt's usual average rate was about seven miles per diem. For which reasons, we may infer, that if Leichhardt ever reached XVA, it was probably not before May, so that the supposition of the date goes for very little; and it is unaccountable how these letters should indicate the only camps during even so incredibly short a period as ten days, in a country which he must have traversed direct and, therefore, still on a route of his own.

From Mount Abundance to the head of the Warrego, it took Mitchell 55 days, and Kenned; took 28 days of actual travelling from a point on the Maranoa abreast of Mount Abundance to the junction of the Nive and Nivelle; and it took Mr. Hely 14 days to reach Kennedy's camp on the Warrego, and three days' more (exclusive of stoppages and searchings for water and tracks) to the easternmost of the XVA camps, i.e. seventeen days in all. Moreover, it took him 49 days to travel from the Condamine 110 miles to Mount Abundance. In 1847, Leichhardt took eleven days from Gogg's station on Acacia Creek to the Cogoon below Mount Abundance, 132 miles of direct distance, about the same rate as that of his journey out to Mount Abundance in 1848, and the camps XVA are about 150 miles further as the "crow flies." Could all this be done in ten days? As it is full 40 miles of direct distance from Kennedy's camp of 30th June, 1847, on the Maranoa, to his camp of 28th October, on the Warrego, i.e., to Hely's camp of 26th June, 1852, we may (supposing Leichhardt crossed there) allow by the known route (excluding stoppages) that Leichhardt could not have reached the eastern XVA camp before the nineteenth day, which would have brought him up to the 24th, and not to the 15th April.

It is on this ground of interpreting the letters as a date, that we must discard the idea of their indicating a camp of Leichhardt's; and excepting the general resemblance to the letter L of the outline surrounding them, there is nothing else to identify them. On the presumption, moreover, that these are Leichhardt's marks, and that he continued to travel at the rate of ten and a half miles a day, he could not have reached the spot marked L on the Victoria direct before the 1st or 2nd May; and the probability is, that no direct route exists, as he would have a generally waterless tract covered with brigalo, broken by ravines and spurs of Mount Enniskillen. As Kennedy's journey was in 1847 and Leichhardt's in 1848, only five months after, it is not probable that though the summer of that year had increased the drought, it had made so great an alteration as to increase the unfavourable conditions of climate to such an excess as is supposed, always allowing that Leichhardt did not venture into the desert, which was, as we know from Kennedy's traverse from the Warrego to the Culgoa in the preceding November, and from Sturt's experience in the same season in the year 1845, three hundred miles further westward, bad enough.

With this we have little to do; but confining our inquiries as to the state of the country revealed by Mitchell, Kennedy, and Hely, it is impossible for Leichhardt to have got over the ground so as to have been at the spot alluded to on the 15th of April.

In Mr. Commissioner Whitty's despatch of 8th April, 1852, to Mr. Hely, and in Mr. Hely's letter to the Colonial Secretary of 22nd April (dated Surat, within 40 miles of Mount Abundance), the distance assumed is "ten days' journey," or "two hundred miles," from the Mount to the spot where Leichhardt was supposed to be killed, and the distance reported by the black gins, from whom Mr. Hely got his information, was either seven days' journey, or four, not one, or eight, or four, or three, or eight, or only a short distance from the camp intermediate between the two XVA camps; the directions varying almost as much as the distances! If these stories were true, and Leichhardt had kept up his former rate of travelling to get thither, he must have gone (without any delay or stoppage), nearly 20 days, from Mount Abundance (which is perfectly incredible), right into the heart of the desert between the Victoria and the Warrego, over new ground with unknown features, and, in all probability, without a drop of water the greater part of the way, for the locality of the report brought to Surat was westward from Mount Abundance.

It is a curious coincidence, that on the 5th of November, 1847, Kennedy fell in, on the Warrego, about half-way between Mount Abundance and the point 200 miles westward, with six natives, of whom he says: "They were as ill-looking a set as I have met with, and the young man who acted as our guide" (to a water-hole) "had in his belt the blade of a knife which Niblett recognised as the property of W. Bond, and which had been lost on the depôt on the Maranoa."

As this depôt was about 110 miles to north-eastward, and as we learn from another memorandum of Kennedy, that the language of the people he met on that part of the Warrego is "the same as that of the natives of the desert;" it is clear, the same tribes range over the whole country between the Victoria and the Maranoa, and that some of them are savage and dangerous, sufficiently appears from Mitchell and Kennedy, though, on the other hand, the greater part seem to be an inoffensive, obliging, and friendly people.

The story of the massacre of Leichhardt has some features, therefore, of vraisemblance: but in that case, as Mr. Gregory has already pointed out, the L on the Victoria (if his mark) upsets the whole, because he could not have marked a tree there, if he had been killed at least a week or fortnight before, a long way to the southward.

That L, as before suggested by me, may have been Luff's, or as I am inclined to think, perhaps, Mr. Gideon Lang's, who, I understand, was on the Victoria since 1848. As the country within forty miles of the locality of the XVA camps is now settled by colonists, and probably the whole of the tract between the head of the Warrego and the Victoria L has been visited by others beside Mr. Lang, and that between his visit and 1858, we may obtain more accurate information about the XVA marks. I have been disappointed at not having been able to find in Sydney a gentleman who could tell us much on the nature of the country about the head of the Warrego, which he has sometime occupied. We must wait, however, patiently for such information, as well as for the particulars of the route of Mr. Gregory, of which little is known, save that he did not find the Alice River within six miles of the indicated locality, and saw nothing he could interpret respecting Leichhardt save the L, the remains of sapling poles, and two horses running wild on Cooper's Creek, which have been conjectured to be part of those which the blacks told Mr. Hely had been eaten.

In my opinion, the horses belonged to Sturt's expedition. He turned out a roan horse to enjoy its liberty, on Cooper's Creek, on the 2nd November, 1845, "in pity," as he says, "to wander at large along the sunny banks of the finest water course he had discovered." And on 30th August of the same year, Flood lost his horse about 145 miles N.W. of Cooper's Creek; the animal stole away, and it was supposed he had died under a bush. The same animal had, however, twice before done the same thing—once when in the Government paddock at Adelaide, and once from a camp on the Murray. The probability is, that this old soldier would find his way, if he survived, on the return route, to the nearest and only fertile country of the desert—that was Cooper's Creek.

As to the saplings, I have already conjectured that they may have been those of a native hut, if not belonging to Kennedy's camp, for Mitchell tells us that the natives on that part of the river build their huts, not after the manner of the rude bark guniahs of this part of New South Wales, but in this wise, "a frame like a lean-to roof had first been erected; rafters had next been laid upon that; and, thereupon, thin square portions of bark were laid like tiles." (Tropical Australia, p. 319.)

As it may serve to give the reader an idea of the improbability that the XVA camps are Leichhardt's, I have copied here the marks Nos. 1 and 2 from Hely's Report, and No. 3 from Mr. Gregory's letter to yourself, giving the L the proportions assigned to it in an Adelaide newspaper.


Eastern Camp, near
the Warrego (Hely).
 | 
 | 
Western Camp, near
the Nive (Hely).
 | 
 | 
On the Victoria,
(Gregory).

No one, I imagine, can believe, that these marks were made by one explorer during the same journey. Besides, we have a clue to Leichhardt's mark.

On the 3rd of September, 1847, he made his furthest point westward from Acacia Creek, Mitchell's camp 80 on the Maranoa, which Kennedy also attained on 31st May of the same year. And thence, after travelling upwards to camp 79, he returned downwards to camp 81, and thence crossed the Balonne on his homeward route. A little more than four miles south of that camp, where they had first fallen in with Mitchell's dray tracks, he "marked a tree with a cross and an L in the wood." This spot is not less than 140 miles S.E. of the camps XVA. How unlikely, then, is it that the latter can be Leichhardt's, especially as Mr. Hely could find no trace of him on the Maranoa! It may be as well to mention here, that in 1847 there were other marks besides this, and Mitchell's and Kennedy's numerals in the line of country between Darling Downs and the Maranoa. Of these, there was a tree marked M. a little north-east of Mount Abundance, discovered by Mr. Hentig.

The letter B was also marked on three trees on the Condamine, twenty-six miles west of Ewer's Creek; one of the letters was cut into the wood, the bark being removed. The letter H occurred on each side of the Yalebone or Frederick's Creek, near the junction with the Balonne, at the distance of more than twelve miles. These were, no doubt, the marks of gentlemen looking for runs, and may have been Macpherson's, Birell's, and Hughes.' The whole of that country was thus well marked in places by cattle and horse tracks, some coming from the westward; and amongst them Mr. Archer's party was tracked by the shape of a particular horse-hoof. There was another mark, however, more to the purpose. The following extract from Leichhardt's unpublished notes of his traverse along the Balonne will explain it.—"September 8th. Mr. Bunce discovered this morning very old horsedung at the very place where we camped. We continued to follow up the river, and had gone scarcely three miles, when dray-tracks were observed. They were very old and faint, and belonged to Mitchell's expedition. Fresh horse tracks were seen coming down the river, and apparently turning up to the N.W. on Mitchell's track. These horse tracks were observed all along our road, and at one place an L was cut into a small watergum tree with a blackfellow's tomahawk."

It is clear from this, that even the letter L is no proof, by itself, of Leichhardt's presence. And if this is the case, then the solitary L on the Victoria may have been the work of the same person, or of some other beside Leichhardt, as Luff or Lang.

My own interpretation of Mr. Hely's No. 1 and No. 2 XVA marks is this. I believe them to have been made by some of Kennedy's party, and that X is the prominent letter in the word expedition, and chosen for it, and that V and A equally easy letters to cut into a tree, are the commencing and terminal letters of the word Victoria. In fact, as it is repeated, at the interval of several miles, and found, too, at the "angle of a creek," in both instances it is, I think, undoubtedly the mark of some persons belonging to the "Expedition to the Victoria," which Kennedy's expedition was expressly, and who, being detached in search of water, found, it there, in a country generally destitute of it. And for this supposition there is probable evidence.

On the 25th June, 1852, Mr. Hely was in camp on the Warrego, in 25·38·23' S., within two miles or so of Kennedy's camp of 28th October, 1857, in 25·40·36' S. It was from this camp he started in search of the marked trees XVA. My belief is, that those trees were marked by Luff, who was constantly employed by Mr. Kennedy in searching for water. Whoever carefully compares the extracts made by myself from Kennedy's private journal of the expedition (which were published in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, vol. xxii.), with Mr. Hely's report, will find ample grounds for believing that these marks correspond with localities to which Luff and Costigan were detached in October, and others in the preceding July, when a party was left in camp from 4th to 16th of that month. We everywhere read in that part of Kennedy's journal of the dearth of water, of excursions in search of it, of wells dug to find it; and although at the distance of five years, Mr. Hely's statement so far agrees, that it was a permanent and not a night encampment which he fell in with. The marks were at the angle of a creek; and I think Mr. Kennedy was on the head of that creek on 19th July. The latter says, "the bed of the creek was so soft, that it was necessary to tether the horses." Mr. Hely says, (speaking of No. 1) "the soil being as we had found it ever since we reached the Maranoa loose and sandy."

Again, on 21st October, Kennedy came to his old camp of 17th and 18th July, at the head of the Warrego, of which he says, "this hole, and that on the Nivelle, are the only two between our present position and the reach on the Victoria, to be depended upon is a very dry season," &c. The next day he satisfied himself that there was no considerable creek between it and the Warrego. And, therefore, he removed his camp to that of the 16th July.

This is some of the evidence as to the state of the country six months before Leichhardt could have visited it. Notwithstanding, however, that the country was then under unusual drought, rain occasionally fell and on the 23rd October, when K. again arrived at the permanent camp of 4-16th July, it "commenced raining at sunset and continued almost incessantly through the night." This, too, agrees with Mr. Hely's remark, where he speaks of heavy saplings on which he supposes Leichhardt placed his packs "(showing that the ground must have been very wet and damp.")

It may be great presumption to doubt any statement made by an actual explorer, respecting positions said to be determined by observation, but I find a difficulty in reconciling the directions of Mr. Hely's creeks, the one running east, the other from south-west to north and north-east, for that could hardly be if there is a range between them, as the facts require, and which I have assumed above, separating the waters running on the one hand to the Warrego, and on the other to the Nive. Mitchell gives the indication of such a range running S.W. Kennedy appears to have crossed this on the 20th of July, and Mitchell on the 11th September, where it was from 2032 to 1787 feet above the sea. Mr. Hely had a rise of 900 feet on that range, on the 27th June. I do not comprehend how any creek could on the west side of such a range run from S.W. to N. and N.E., "considerably to the south, and far to the head of the Victoria," unless there is in that country some new feature, which belongs to another river channel flowing parallel to the Nive into the desert.

The country described by Mr. Hely has, apparently, all the features of the Victoria basin, being richer and more beautiful than that of the Warrego. Alpomdulla Creek of Hely must run southwards, and one of the conditions required is a dividing ridge between it, the Victoria and the Nive, a continuation of the Gap Range, at the head of the Victoria.

I name this, because if full reliance is to be placed on the geographical features involved in Mr. Hely's statements, we do not know yet the actual northern boundary of the desert on the parallel of 25· S. And it is a great pity, that when Mr. Hely was in this country he did not glean more of the physical features. Close too, as he was, according to his reckoning, to the L camp on the Victoria, and on one occasion nearly within 20 miles of that river, he might, perhaps, have ascertained whether the L found by Mr. Gregory was there in the year 1852. Mr. Lang's back run extended to the Warrego; and the head of the Maranoa in that year was in legal occupation. The statements made to Mr. Hely by the black gins, and by the aid of his interpreter, who appears to me to have merely interpreted what his employer was in search of (which, by the way, is no fault of Mr. Hely's), do not prove clearly that any massacre took place. The narratives of Mitchell and Kennedy do not confirm the idea that any tribe numerous as "niemen" (ants) dwelt there in that district; but they do confirm the idea that all the tribes were anxious to get rid of the white intruders—jealous, no doubt, of the waterholes and creeks, these being drained by the white men. As for the quart and tinpots, red shirts, axes, guns, &c., that they represented as being in the black camps after the massacre, and strewing the ground, the same things lie about every white man's camp when he is taking up or occupying new ground. Again, that Leichhardt's party should all have slept, is contrary to his known habits. After his experience on the Nassau, he would not have allowed all hands to sleep without a watch, and so be murdered. One white man is represented as shooting a black, who was wounded and died in the bush. Now, Kennedy represents that on two occasions his party on the Victoria were troubled by natives, and that he had to fire over their heads and charge them on horseback to dislodge them, but in every instance the motive of hostility appears to have been dread of the loss of water. In other cases, the natives were particularly civil, in showing where water could be found. It is probable too, that they might have desired to obtain articles of value of which they had seen the use; and it is curious how many of these things were in possession of the natives. For instance. Sir T. Mitchell threw away a pack-saddle on the Victoria, on 23rd September, and left a tomahawk on the Maranoa, on 26th October; and Kennedy, when at the same spot on 31st May, next year, "found an unusual number of native camps, their proprietors no doubt having been attracted to the spot in the hope of a similar piece of good fortune." Then, again, Kennedy gave away an axe on 20th September, and another on the 21st September; 26th October, a knife, and on 5th November a powder-horn. Besides these, there were no doubt many articles left at Mitchell's and Kennedy's depôts, and at other camps of some days' duration. Mr. Hely says that the black boy noticed the motion of the horses in hobbles, and said so it was when the party were killed; and Kennedy says, "the boy laughed immoderately at the movements of the horses." But when it is asserted that all Leichhardt's horses and mules were killed and eaten, we may reasonably doubt the story, especially when they may have merely eaten the horse which Kennedy had killed and left on the 9th September. Mr. Hely also mentions that some of the cattle were eaten, and that some got away, and that he found traces of their presence only a day or two old. It was on the Maranoa, and within two miles of Kennedy's camp of 12-13th June. The blacks said these were part of Leichhardt's! How happens it that, if so, they too, had not been hunted down and killed during the four years that had elapsed? And how was it that it did not occur to an old bushman and settler, as Mr. Hely was, to hunt them up himself to decipher their brands? As the locality was nearly one hundred miles from XVA, the whole thing is improbable. The cattle probably belonged to some settlers on the Maranoa.

Adding to these rumours of the natives the fact that Mr. Hedley and Mr. Mitchell, who left Tenterfield in 1852, had been reported as murdered as well as others, we can only consider the story of the aboriginals to be a carefully reported conglomeration of matters of fact which, according to the habit of the aboriginals, have been related by one tribe to another, and so at last got to the ears of white people. One of the eye-witnesses could have been only six years old at the time of the alleged murder, and he professed to know all about it. Now, it is a very curious circumstance, that this story was not known even so short a distance eastward as Mount Abundance, till January, 1852, nearly four years after the alleged occurrence, as is detailed in Mr. Commissioner Whitty's despatch of April, 1852.

To sum up all, what does this enquiry amount to? Merely to this, that it is very unlikely that Leichhardt was killed at all—that the places indicated by the letters XVA were probably Kennedy's camps—and that the whole evidence of Leichhardt's having reached the Victoria depends on the letter L found by Mr. Gregory, which could not be his, if he was killed before he could get thither, and which, if his, will completely disprove the story of the black gins reported to Mr. Hely.

Did then Leichhardt get to the Victoria at all? There is no doubt that when he penned his last letter, dated 4th April, 1848, from Macpherson's station on the Cogoon, it was in his mind to visit the Victoria, for he distinctly says, "We have killed our first bullock at this station to obtain the necessary provisions to carry us to the Victoria." But as an argument additional to those above, it may be said, if the conjecture I have hazarded be correct, that XVA has reference to the "Expedition to the Victoria," it was not his, for his expedition was "to Western Australia." Mr. Hely moreover states, in one of his despatches to the Colonial Secretary, that Mr. Isaac, who was Leichhardt's companion in his journey of 1847 to the Fitz Roy Downs, says it was L.'s "firm intention at leaving, to go to the Victoria of Sir Thomas Mitchell, and running it up to its junction with the Alice, travel up that river in its supposed N.W. direction, and endeavour to find the watershed of the Gulf Rivers and any running to westward and southward. Mr. Isaac says that the Doctor may have changed his intention after arriving at the Balonne, but that he does not think it likely. I was myself (in confirmation of this) told by a shepherd in New England, who was in the employment of Mr. Macpherson, at Mount Abundance, at the time of Dr. L.'s departure thence, that he was with his flock of sheep when the Doctor passed by, and that he went due west, or, as he expressed it, 'towards the setting sun.'"

This is the whole of the positive evidence for the Victoria. But even that is diluted, by the possible may have of Mr. Isaac, who knows too well, from his own experience, how circumstances, unexpected sometimes, affect the traveller's route in the bush.

The evidence the other way is as follows: I have already stated, in my first letter, that Leichhardt distinctly stated to me, that he intended to follow up the Burdekin to the Clarke, and thence to explore the watershed to the Desert. With this, in some measure, agree the assertions of others who were in Leichhardt's confidence. Mr. Isaac himself says he might have changed his purpose on reaching the Balonne; but he did not go to the Balonne at all; he went to Mount Abundance, instead, and there, certainly, wrote that he was going to the Victoria. If he changed the first part of his route, why might he not have changed any other portion of it?

Kennedy has told us, that the country was already suffering from drought in 1847—that drought must have increased in the subsequent summer, and the probability is, with this in prospect, and the knowledge that, in less than 400 miles from Mount Abundance, he would get into the frightful desert of Sturt, I conceive, that neither Leichhardt nor any but a madman, bent on suicide, would have attempted to penetrate to Western Australia on such a route. And, if he had reached the Victoria, the argument would be the stronger, for he would see what more to the eastward would have been only an induction, that the desert is impracticable except to explorers on the back of Pegasus, who like Mr. Gregory can accomplish what cannot but be considered an unparalleled act of rapidity and daring. As Leichhardt did not travel in this wise, he must have coasted the desert or would not have attempted it.

Now, Mr. Hely himself set out with the same view, from which he was deflected by the opinion of Mr. Isaac. He says, "I have been speaking to several parties who were on the Downs, and had communication with Dr. Leichhardt, previous to his setting out on his expedition, and have heard many conflicting statements; some maintaining that he intended first visiting Peak Range, and others, that he went from the Maranoa to the north-west without any intention whatever of going near Peak Range; my own opinion always has been that he did intend doing so, and I accordingly expressed a wish to the Government to be allowed first to visit that locality, but a conversation with Mr. Frederick Isaac of Gowrie, has materially altered that opinion."

Again, he says in another despatch: "As I before mentioned, the chances are very much in favour of Dr. Leichhardt having visited Peak Range, and thence taken his departure for the N.W. coast." Accordingly his instructions were given him to go from the Condamine to Peak Range, via the Dawson, and to search for letters indicating Leichhardt's route, and the stores which he had left there on his former journey.

Mr. Hely, however, in consequence of his conversation with Mr Isaac, obtained leave to alter his route, but nevertheless turned back short of the Victoria.

It is certain he acted according to the best of his judgment and belief; but had he, on leaving the Nive, carried out the rest of his intentions, he would have told us more. "In the event of proceeding to the north-west," he writes to the Colonial Secretary, "on Sir T. L. Mitchell's track to the Alice, and finding no traces of the missing party I shall then return down" (? up) "the Victoria to the Nogoa (supposed to be the head of the Mackenzie) which river I will run down and thus gain the Peak Range country, which I shall thoroughly examine in the hope of finding their tracks."

From this he was driven by the story of the natives which, on his return, he thoroughly believed. But the L of Mr. Gregory has sadly tested that belief.

That Leichhardt always intended to skirt and not intersect the desert was known generally. Kennedy, under date of 5th August, on the Victoria, at the camp where he buried his carts and provisions (which were afterwards rifled by the blacks), made this memorandum: "I, this evening, read Leichhardt's lecture, by which I find that there is a probability of our meeting, and that it is his intention to run the Albert up to its source, which is, I hope, in this part of the country." How Kennedy made this mistake about the Albert, I know not; but it alludes to the Albert, on the Gulf of Carpentaria, whither Kennedy was also bound, and confirms my statement that Leichhardt intended to explore the country between the Gulf and the desert. Captain Sturt has these remarks: "It may not be generally known, that Dr. Leichhardt is at this moment endeavouring to accomplish an undertaking, in which, if he should prove successful, he will stand the first of Australian explorers. It is to traverse the continent from east to west, nor will he be able to do this under a distance of more than 5000 miles in a direct line. He had, already, started on this gigantic journey, but was obliged to return, as his party had contracted the ague, and he lost all his animals; but, undaunted by these reverses, he left Moreton Bay in December last, and has not since been heard of. One really cannot but admire such a spirit of enterprise and self-devotion, or be too earnest in our wishes for his prosperity. Dr. Leichhardt intends keeping on the outskirts of the desert, all the way round to Swan River, and the difficulties he will have to encounter, as well as the distance he may have to travel will greatly depend on its extent." * * * "Our best feelings have been raised to save the Wanderer of the Pole—should they not also be raised to carry relief to the Wanderer of the Desert?" (Central Australia, p. 304.)

To prove further that this view of the case is correct, I now quote, in conclusion, the hitherto unpublished statement of my friend Mr. Mann, who was one of Leichhardt's companions in the unsuccessful attempt of 1846-7, alluded to by Sturt. "The party on this occasion consisted of Mr. Mann, Mr. Hovenden Hely, Mr. Bunce; Perry, a saddler; Bocking, a German tanner and baker; and Brown, a Newcastle black. The object of this trip was to proceed as far as Peak Range, in latitude 22·, and to explore the Downs and country which he had discovered in his first expedition; and, by keeping a westerly course, endeavour to make Shark's Bay, and then Swan River. His first intentions, however, were to strike west before arriving at such a latitude, in fact make a bold push directly across to Swan River. I, however, after many conversations, persuaded him to relinquish such a design. Captain Sturt had arrived at latitude 21·, and had seen nothing but desert; and, therefore, any attempt to penetrate across it would have been folly, we therefore arranged to proceed as far north as Peak Range, and then keep a westerly course to Shark's Bay. Before meeting Dr. L., in fact before he had returned from Port Essington, the idea had often struck me of undertaking an expedition across the island, by starting from Fort Bourke, on the Darling, and by keeping a northerly or north-westerly course, skirting the desert, to eventually arrive at Swan River. From what I had read of Sturt's journey, and the description of the country about the Gulf of Carpentaria, I felt convinced that the waters of those two points were divided by a low range of hills, by keeping along which water might be obtained, and the extent of the desert as fully ascertained as by proceeding directly across it. I mentioned this to my friend, Colonel Gordon, R.E., who agreed with my idea of the country, but thought the journey a very long and hazardous one to be undertaken. Dr. L. and party, to the astonishment of every one, arriving soon after, I had the pleasure of meeting him at Colonel Gordon's, who suggested that the expedition should be undertaken between us. I accordingly felt very willing to unite with Dr. L., and arrangements were at once commenced for another journey into the interior."

Such is the testimony of various independent witnesses, who all confirm the idea, that the intention of Leichhardt was all along to skirt the desert.

If then he did reach the Victoria in 1848, and was not cut off, and we have now no ground to conclude he was, he would, in case of finding the country impracticable to the west, have gone round by the head of the Victoria, towards the north, and it is somewhere between the head of the Victoria and the head of the Clarke, that, I think, he is to be looked for; not, probably, on any line of route explored by Mitchell, but to the westward, or, crossing Mitchell's track, on a line to Peak Range and the Burdekin. Or driven in by drought, he may have taken a course on the 148th meridian, without going across the Maranoa, where Hely could not trace him, on a new track of his own.

It is in the hope that, on the return of Mr. Gregory to this colony, a new expedition may be organised, with a view to the exploration of the country west of Mitchell's Belyando, as well as ascertaining whether any traces of my lamented friend can he found, that I have taken the trouble to lay before your readers this lengthened communication; believing, that, as I have had it in my power to put the matter in a tangible form, and to quote from MSS. notes in my possession, what has not before been committed to the press, I am only rendering a service to the cause of science, civilisation, and humanity.

One of your correspondents at Moreton Bay, thinks that some of this information might have been wisely given before Mr. Gregory stated. Not so. I had no opportunity of expressing an opinion by invitation on the subject. I did not wish to interfere with a plan which, had it been successful, would have served the purpose (for Mr. Gregory was deterred by the season from going northwards in 1858), and some of my data I had not then at hand. But now, as the Victoria is put out of the question, there remains only one further region to investigate, and it is my hearty desire that this should be accomplished. I cannot undertake it myself, nor have I the means to send out others. I contribute my mite, therefore, in the present form.

I would, however, suggest whether it may not be a satisfactory service to find some new and fitting feature in the unexamined tracts of this country, by which to do honour to our present Governor. Brisbane, Macquarie, Darling, King, Bourke, Gipps, Fitzroy, are names familiar enough to geographers, and whilst there are many features dignified by the name of Goulburn—whilst Lindesay and Bligh, and every other person who has held the reins of Government in New South Wales are immortalized on the charts of Australia, there is yet no river Denison to be found, and the name of the present representative of our Sovereign, who has done more for science than all the other Governors put together, is left attached to no more edifying locality than the fort recently erected on the rock known of old in the euphonious Australian Doric as "Pinchgut."

It is a very bad practice, to alter the names of rivers or ranges, when once they have been acknowledged by geographers; and it would only lead to confusion to do so. But the example of America may be adduced to show the equally bad effects of admitting the same names over and over again to represent the same features. Now, in Australia, we have the province of Victoria; the settlement of Victoria, at Port Essington; the river Victoria, on the N.W. coast; and the river Victoria, of Mitchell. The latter ought to be permanently changed for the native name Barcoo, which Kennedy says it is called by the natives. But what is to be done with the two Fitzroy Rivers, the one on the N.W. coast; the other disemboguing near Port Curtis? And there are also the Fitzroy Downs. The latter were only named provisionally by Mitchell, i.e., if the Governor's name should happen to be Fitzroy.

There is, perhaps, not much to be discovered of any interest as affects the great features of a vast portion of this continental island. But we have some lacunæ to fill up, and Mr. Gregory seems to be the right man in the right place, when he is filling up other people's gaps. Perhaps he could fill up what is still a gap in respect to nomenclature.

If in these letters I have given offence to any persons by the freedom of my remarks, I must request them to believe, that I have offended unintentionally. Although all mentioned are friends of my own, I have made free with their statements and publications, only after the manner in which I would have dealt, under similar circumstances of geographical interest, with the journals and treatises of those ancient explorers and historians, Herodotus, Arrian, and Polybius; with respect for their words, where they report their own experience, but without reliance on what they mention on hearsay, when it does nor bear the outward and visible sign of the likeliest probability.

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,

W. B. CLARKE.   

St. Leonard's, 17th August.

P.S.—When the above was written I had not heard of Mr. Gregory's return to this colony. I can only hope, that some demonstration, honorable alike to him and the colony, will mark the public opinion of his skill, judgment, and diligence in completing in so brief a period our knowledge of two most interesting and important routes.

W. B. C.   

23rd August.





5.4. Clarke's Letter to S.M.H., 10 September, 1858

LEICHHARDT AND THE DESERT.[—(4)]

Previous to the arrival of Mr. A. C. Gregory from his last journey of exploration, I addressed two letters under the above heading, to the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. The length of those communications prohibiting a repetition of them on the present occasion, it is considered advisable to offer an abridgement in the present form, in order to meet the views of those who are anxious that my statements should be put on further record; and as I am now in possession of Mr. Gregory's report, I thus comply with their desire, in the hope that this discussion may initiate another expedition into the districts yet unexplored, between the 146th and 147th meridians, and which I conceive, may bear traces of Leichhardt's route, although I believe that he perished far to the northward and westward of the Victoria.

In the year 1846, Sir T. L. Mitchell undertook an expedition to discover a river running to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and disappointed by the structural features of the country, which ought beforehand to have taught him the impossibility of such a river existing, he returned, after discovering the upper parts of the Belyando and Victoria Rivers, leaving the latter to be explored further by Mr. Kennedy in 1847, and by Mr. Gregory in 1858, who traced it eventually into the channel of Lake Torrens and Spenceres Gulf, whither I stated in 1847 it would be found to go.

Notwithstanding the Surveyor-General was thus hampered by the rivers on his way to Port Essington, Leichhardt had found his way thither, by following the mountains between these rivers and the sea, and coasting the southern border of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Leichhardt, on this occasion, avoided the edge of the desert; but had he not lost his horses in crossing the Roper River, he would have seen it in returning. But he says: "The loss of these was very heavy. I had to throw away the greatest part of my botanical and geological collections; and my plans of returning overland, cutting off the angles of my route and keeping more to the Westward were frustrated." This was in 1844-5.

That, however, which he could not do, has been since done by Mr. Gregory, who in 1855-6 travelling on a line parallel to that adopted by Leichhardt, that which he was prevented from adopting, has given us the information which was needed, as to the sources of the waters crossed by Leichhardt along the Gulf, in a low table land of desert country, which has, however, sufficient elevation to prevent the Barcoo or any other rivers from the south breaking through. Mr. G. says, by this route parallel to Leichhardt's along the Gulf, "the distance to which the rivers extend from the coast has now been approximately ascertained." This service was only exceeded by tho discovery of a dividing ridge on the 130th meridian, whence tho drainages fell on one side to the (N.W.) Victoria, and on the other to the desert. Mr. Gregory has farther shown, that as the rainy season had been dry, no grass or water existed south of 18· S. on that meridian, or of 20· on the meridian of 127· E.; and, therefore, after such a season, though that point might be attained from Sydney by land, little hope would be left for an expedition working along the N.W. coast to Swan River. He has also shown that, in that distant part of Australia, the water courses falling to the desert take tho same direction as the rivers on the south side of the desert, first trending to N.W. and then curving round to the S.W.

In August, 1847, Leichhardt undertook and completed a short journey to connect Moreton Bay with the Maranoa of Mitchell; it was his own route, therefore, which he followed when, in 1848, he travelled in eleven days from Birrell's station, on the Condamine, 118 miles to Mount Abundance, from which his last letter was written on the 4th April, 1848.

But, previous to this, in the years 1846 and 1847, he had made his second unsuccessful journey to Peak Range, on his way to Western Australia. And it was on his return from that journey, that he undertook the shorter exploration, which has just been mentioned.

Thus far, we find Leichhardt following his own tracks up to April 1848, when we lose sight of him; to Peak Range, in 1847, by his former route, in 1844-5, and to Mount Abundance in 1848 by his former route in 1847.

We have now only conjecture as to what has become of him; but judging from the past experience, he is not likely to be found on tho tracks of the late Surveyor-General, though of course he may have crossed them.

In the year 1852, four years after the last tidings of Leichhardt, an expedition was en route to look for him, under the charge of Mr. Hovenden Hely, who discovered two camps marked by the same letters XVA within a border, which may certainly have been intended for the letter L, but is a rough kind of initial[.] This occurred too, in a district, where, according to Mitchell, the trees are much marked by the aborigines. The reported L looks really like a boomerang. In the year 1858, six years after Mr. Hely, Mr. A. C. Gregory starts on a similar errand, and finds a letter L (a huge letter) without other marks on a tree, on the Victoria River, only half a mile of latitude from a known camp of Mitchell in 1840, and two miles of latitude from one of Kennedy's in 1847.

Mr. Gregory says that this camp is neither Mitchell's nor Kennedy's, and quotes the charts; these, however, do not agree with the journals. But if they did, the letter L is all that can be depended on.

It may be well, first of all, to consider the details of Mr. Hely's exploration. The information he has given is vague and brief. Although the latitudes of some localities in his journey are recorded, his report omits those of the two camps in which he found the marked trees. And the account is too confused, to enable them to be laid down with any certainty. Nevertheless, they appear to be somewhere on tho Warrego of Sir T. L. Mitchell; and on the unexplored channel of that river.

Now, if we are to admit that the two marks XVA are Leichhardt's, and that, as Mr. Hely says, they mean the 15th April (though they might just as well stand for the 15th August), the distance from Mount Abundance will be at a rough guess about 150 miles, and from Gregory's L about 100, or at least 80.

But we know that Leichhardt's journey to Mount Abundance was at the rate of less than eleven miles a day; and his road, he says, was excellent, with the exception of a little brigalo scrub here and there. At that rate his journey to Hely's XVA camps, would have taken nearly thirteen days; and, therefore, the date XVA (15th April), could hardly be correct, because Leichhardt did not leave Mount Abundance till after the 4th of April.

If, however, we adopt the distance indicated in the memorandum forwarded by Mr. Gregory to the Colonial Secretary, on 15th September, 1857, at 190 miles (since Surat is 40 from Mount Abundance), we shall see that Leichhardt's time must have been at least 18 days, which could not bring him to XVA on the 15th April, but at least eight days later.

From Mount Abundance to the head of the Warrego, it took Mitchell 55 days, and Kennedy took 28 days of actual travelling from a point on the Maranoa abreast of Mount Abundance to the junction of the Nive and Nivelle; and it took Mr. Hely 14 days to reach Kennedy's camp on the Warrego, and three days more (exclusive of stoppages and searchings for water and tracks) to the easternmost of the XVA camps, i.e., seventeen days in all. Moreover, it took him 49 days to travel from the Condamine 110 miles to Mount Abundance. Even Mr. Gregory took twenty-three days from Juanda to the Nive, in 1858. In 1847, Leichhardt took eleven days from Gogg's station on Acacia Creek to the Cogoon below Mount Abundance, 132 miles of direct distance, about the same rate as that of his journey out to Mount Abundance in 1848, and the camps XVA are about 150 miles further, as the "crow flies." Could all this be done in ten days?

As it is full 40 miles of direct distance from Kennedy's camp of 30th June, 1847, on the Maranoa, to his camp of 28th October, on the Warrego, i.e., to Hely's camp of 26th June, 1852, we may (supposing Leichhardt crossed there) allow by the known rate (excluding stoppages) that Leichhardt could not have reached the eastern XVA camp before the nineteenth day, which would have brought him up to the 24th, and not to the 15th April.

It is on this ground of interpreting the letters as a date, that we must discard the idea of their indicating a camp of Leichhardt's; and excepting the general resemblance to the letter L of the outline surrounding them, there is nothing else to identify them.

And confining our inquiries as to the state of the country revealed by Mitchell, Kennedy, and Hely, we shall find, that it was impossible for Leichhardt to have got over the ground so as to have been at the spot alluded to on the 15th April.

It is a curious coincidence, that on the 5th of November, 1847, Kennedy fell in, on the Warrego, about half-way between Mount Abundance and the point 200 miles westward, with six natives, of whom he says: "They were as ill-looking a set as I have met with, and the young man who acted as our guide" (to a water-hole) "had in his belt the blade of a knife which Niblett recognised as the property of W. Bond, and which had been lost on the depôt on the Maranoa."

As this depôt was about 110 miles to north-eastward, and as we learn from another memorandum of Kennedy, that the language of the people he met on that part of the Warrego is "the same as that of the natives of the desert;" it is clear, the same tribes range over the whole country between the Victoria and the Maranoa, and that some of them are savage and dangerous, sufficiently appears from Mitchell, Kennedy and Gregory, though, on the other hand, the greater part seem to be an inoffensive, obliging, and friendly people.

The story of the massacre of Leichhardt has some features, therefore, of vraisemblance: but in that case, as Mr. Gregory has already pointed out, the L on the Victoria (if his mark) upsets the whole, because he could not have marked a tree there, if he had been killed at least a week or a fortnight before, a long way to the southward and eastward.

Mr. Gregory tells us little, save that he did not find the Alice River within six miles of the indicated locality, and saw nothing he could interpret respecting Leichhardt save the L, the remains of saplingpoles, and two horses running wild on Cooper's Creek which have been conjectured to be part of those which the blacks told Mr. Hely had been eaten.

In my opinion, the horses belonged to Sturt's expedition. He turned out a roan horse to enjoy its liberty, on Cooper's Creek, on the 2nd November, 1845, "in pity," as he says, "to wander at large along the sunny banks of the finest water course he had discovered." And on 30th August of the same year, Flood lost his horse about 145 miles N.W. of Cooper's Creek: the animal stole away, and it was supposed he had died under a bush. The same animal had, however, twice before done the same thin—once when in the Government paddock at Adelaide, and once from a camp on the Murray. The probability is, that this old stager would find his way, if he survived, on the return route to the nearest and only fertile country of the desert—that was Cooper's Creek. This is confirmed by Mr. Gregory, who learned at Adelaide, that the tracks had been traced.

As to the saplings, they may have been those of a native hut, if not belonging to Kennedy's camp, for Mitchell tells us that the natives on that part of the river build their huts, not after the manner of the rude bark guniahs of this part of New South Wales, but in this wise, "a frame like a lean-to roof had first been erected; rafters had next been laid upon that; and, thereupon, thin square portions of bark were laid like tiles." (Tropical Australia, p. 319.) This precisely corresponds with "a deep notch in the side of a tree, apparently to support the ridge pole of a tent;" mentioned by Mr. Gregory.

Mr. Gregory says, that some small trees had also been cut by a sharp axe, but Kennedy, the year before—in 1847, had given away several axes to the natives of the Victoria. Moreover, he distinctly says, there was "a native camping place within a few yards of the spot."

As it may serve to give the reader an idea of the improbability that the XVA camps are Leichhardt's, I have copied here the marks Nos. 1 and 2 from Hely's Report, and No. 3 from a private letter of Mr. Gregory. In his report to the Government, it is merely outlined.



Eastern Camp, near
the Warrego (Hely).
 | 
 | 
Western Camp, near
the Nive (Hely).
 | 
 | 
On the Victoria,
(Gregory).

No one, I imagine, can believe, that these marks were made by one explorer during the same journey. Besides, we have a clue to Leichhardt's mark.

On the 3rd of September, 1847, he made his furthest point westward from Acacia Creek, Mitchell's camp 80 on the Maranoa, which Kennedy also attained on 31st May of the same year. And thence after travelling upwards to camp 79, he returned downwards to camp 81, and crossed the Balonne on his homeward route. A little more than four miles south of that camp, where they had first fallen in with Mitchell's dray tracks, he "marked a tree with a cross, and an L in the wood." This spot is not less than 140 miles S.E. of the camps XVA. How unlikely, then, is it that the latter can be Leichhardt's, especially as Mr. Hely could find no trace of him on the Maranoa! It may be as well to mention here, that in 1847 there were other marks besides this and Mitchell's and Kennedy's numerals, in the line of country between Darling Downs and the Maranoa.

Of these, there was a tree marked M. a little north-east of Mount Abundance, discovered by Mr. Hentig. The letter B was also marked on three trees on the Condamine, twenty-six miles west of Ewer's Creek; one of the letters was cut into the wood, the bark being, removed. The letter H occurred on each side of the Yalebone or Frederick's Creek, near the junction with the Balonne, at the distance of more than twelve miles. These were, no doubt, the marks of gentlemen looking for runs, and may have been Macpherson's, Birrell's, and Hughes.' The whole of that country was thus well marked in places by cattle and horse tracks, some coming from the westward; and amongst them Mr. Archer's party was tracked by the shape of a particular horse-hoof. There was another mark, however, more to the purpose. The following extract from Leichhardt's unpublished notes of his traverse along the Balonne will explain it.—"September 8th. Mr. Bunce discovered this morning very old horsedung at the very place where we camped. We continued to follow up the river and had gone scarcely three miles, when dray tricks were observed. They were very old and faint, and belonged to Mitchell's expedition. Fresh horse tracks were seen coming down the river, and apparently turning up to the N.W. on Mitchell's track. These horse tracks were observed all along our road, and at one place an L cut into a small watergum tree with a blackfellow's tomahawk."

It is clear from this, that even the letter L is no proof, by itself, of Leichhardt's presence. And if this is the case, then the solitary L on the Victoria may have been the work of the same person, or of some other beside Leichhardt, as Luff or Lang.

Mr. Lang's back run extended in 1852 to the Warrego. Moreover, it it said by those who think Leichhardt went to the Victoria, that he intended to leave letters there: (See Gregory's memorandum sent to the Colonial Secretary, 15th September, 1857), but we know from his marked trees on his route to Fort Essington, that in such cases, he cut the word DIG on the tree. No such mark exists according to Gregory. Nor is there anything but conjecture to connect Leichhardt with the locality.

Comparing Kennedy's Journal, (as given by myself in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, vol. xxii.), with Hely's report, it is certain the locality XVA is on the Warrego, and probably, on Kennedy's camp of 16th July, 1857, where water was to be had. All the features agree.

On 21st October, Kennedy came to his old camp of 17th and 18th July, at the head of the Warrego, of which he says, "this hole, and that on the Nivelle, are the only two between our present position and the reach on the Victoria, to be depended upon in a very dry season," &c. The next day he satisfied himself that there was no considerable creek between it and the Warrego. And, therefore, he removed his camp to that of the 16th July.

This is some of the evidence as to the state of the country six months before Leichhardt could have visited it. Notwithstanding, however, that the country was then under unusual drought, rain occasionally fell, and on the 23rd October, when K. again arrived at the permanent camp of 4-16th July, it "commenced raining at sunset and continued almost incessantly through the night." This, too, agrees with Mr. Hely's remark, where he speaks of heavy saplings on which he supposes Leichhardt placed his packs "(showing that the ground must have been very wet and damp.")

With respect to the statements made to Mr. Hely by the blacks, it may suffice to sum up all in Mr. Gregory's words, "That the account given to that gentleman of the murder of the party was untrue," and Mr. Hely's guides had told him more than once, that the blackfellows had "too much gammon."

Adding to the rumours of the natives the fact that Mr. Hedley and Mr. Mitchell, who left Tenterfield in 1852, had been reported as murdered as well as others, we can only consider the story of the aboriginals to be a carefully reported conglomeration of matters of fact, which, according to the habit of the aboriginals, have been related by one tribe to another, and so at last got to the ears of white people. One of the eye-witnesses could have been only six years old at the time of the alleged murder, and he professed to know all about it. Now, it is a very curious circumstance, that this story was not known even so short a distance eastward as Mount Abundance, till January, 1852, nearly four years after the alleged occurrence, as is detailed in Mr. Commissioner Whitty's despatch of April. 1852.

To sum up all, what does this enquiry amount to? Merely to this, that it is very unlikely that Leichhardt was killed at all—that the places indicated by the letters XVA were probably Kennedy's camps—and that the whole evidence as to Leichhardt having reached the Victoria depends on the letter L found by Mr. Gregory, which could not be his, if he was killed before he could get thither, and which if his, will completely disprove the story of the black-gins reported to Mr. Hely.

Did then Leichhardt get to the Victoria at all? There is no doubt that when he penned his last letter, dated 4th April, 1848, from Macpherson's station on the Cogoon, it was in his mind to visit the Victoria; for he distinctly says, "We have killed our first bullock at this station to obtain the necessary provisions to carry us up to the Victoria."

Mr. Hely moreover states, in one of his despatches to the Colonial Secretary, that Mr. Isaac, who was Leichhardt's companion in his journey of 1847 to the Fitzroy Downs, says it was L's "firm intention at leaving, to go to the Victoria of Sir Thomas Mitchell, and running it up to its junction with the Alice, travel up that river in its supposed N.W. direction, and endeavour to find the watershed of the Gulf Rivers and any running to westward and southward. Mr. Isaac says that the Doctor may have changed his intention after arriving at the Balonne, but that he does not think it likely. I was myself (in confirmation of this) told by a shepherd in New England, who was in the employment of Mr. Macpherson, at Mount Abundance, at the time of Dr. L's departure thence, that he was with his flock of sheep when the Doctor passed by ,and that he went due west, or, as he expressed if, 'towards the setting sun.'"

This is the whole of the positive evidence for the Victoria. But even that is diluted, by the possible may have of Mr. Isaac, who knows too well, from his own experience, how circumstances, unexpected sometimes, affect the traveller's route in the bush.

The evidence the other way is as follows: Leichhardt distinctly stated to me, that he intended to follow up the Burdekin to the Clarke, and thence to explore the watershed to the Desert. With this, in some measure, agree the assertions of others who were in Leichhardt's confidence. Mr. Isaac himself says he might have changed his purpose on reaching the Balonne; but he did not go to the Balonne at all; he went to Mount Abundance, instead, and there, certainly, wrote that he was going to the Victoria. If he changed the first part of his route, why may he not have changed any other portion of it?

Kennedy has told us, that the country was already suffering from drought in 1847—that drought must have increased in the subsequent summer, and the probability is, with this in prospect, and the knowledge that, in less than 400 miles from Mount Abundance, he would get into the frightful desert of Sturt, I conceive, that neither Leichhardt nor any but a madman, bent on suicide, would have attempted to penetrate to Western Australia on such a route. And, if he had reached the Victoria, the argument would be the stronger, for he would see what more to the eastward would have been only an induction, that the desert is impracticable except to explorers, who, like Mr. Gregory can accomplish what cannot but be considered an unparall[el]ed feat of rapidity and daring. As Leichhardt did not travel in this wise, he must have coasted the desert or would not have attempted it.

Now, Mr. Hely himself set out with the same view, from which he was deflected by the opinion of Mr. Isaac. He says, "I have been speaking to several parties who were on the Downs, and had communication with Dr. Leichhardt, previous to his setting out on his expedition, and have heard many conflicting statements; some maintaining that he intended first visiting Peak Range, and others, that; he went from the Maranoa to the north-west without any intention whatever of going near Peak Range; my own opinion always has been that he did intend doing so, and I accordingly expressed a wish to the Government to be allowed first to visit that locality, but a conversation with Mr. Frederick Isaac, of Gowrie, has materially altered that opinion."

Again, he says in another despatch: "As I before mentioned, the chances are very much in favour of Dr. Leichhardt having visited Peak Range, and thence taken his departure for the N.W. coast." Accordingly instructions were given him to go from the Condamine to Peak Range, via the Dawson, and to search for letters indicating Leichhardt's route, and the stores which he had left there on his former journey.

Mr. Hely, however, in consequence of his conversation with Mr. Isaac, obtained leave to alter his route, but nevertheless turned back short of the Victoria.

It is certain, he acted according to the best of his judgment and belief; but had he, on leaving the Nive, carried out the rest of his intentions, he would have told us more. "In the event of proceeding to the north-west," he writes to the Colonial Secretary, "on Sir T. L. Mitchell's track to the Alice, and finding no traces of the missing party I shall then return down" (? up) "the Victoria to the Nogoa (supposed to be the head of the Mackenzie) which river I will run down and thus gain the Peak Range country, which I shall thoroughly examine in the hope of finding their tracks." From this he was driven by the story of the natives.

That Leichhardt always intended to skirt and not intersect the desert was known generally. Kennedy, under date of 5th August, on the Victoria, at the camp where he buried his carts and provisions (which were afterwards rifled by the blacks) made this memorandum: "I, this evening, read Leichhardt's lecture, by which I find that there is a probability of our meeting, and that it is his intention to run the Albert up to its source, which is, I hope, in this part of the country." How Kennedy, made this mistake about the Albert I know not; but it alludes to the Albert, on the Gulf of Carpentaria, whither Kennedy was also bound, and confirms my statement that Leichhardt intended to explore the country between the Gulf and the desert.

Captain Sturt has these remarks: "It may not be generally known, that Dr. Leichhardt is at this moment endeavouring to accomplish an undertaking, in which, if he should prove successful, he will stand the first of Australian explorers. It is to traverse the continent from east to west, nor will he be able to do this under a distance of more than 5000 miles in a direct line. He had, already, started on this gigantic journey, but was obliged to return, as his party had contracted the ague, and he lost all his animals; but, undaunted by these reverses, he left Moreton Bay in December last, and has not since been heard of. One really cannot but admire such a spirit of enterprise and self-devotion, or be too earnest in our wishes for his prosperity. Dr. Leichhardt intended keeping on the outskirts of the desert all the way round to Swan River, and the difficulties he will have to encounter, as well as distance he may have to travel, will greatly depend on its extent." * * * "Our best feelings have been raised to save the Wanderer of the Pole—should they not be raised to carry relief to the Wanderer of the Desert?" (Central Australia, p. 304.)

To prove further that this view of the case is correct, I now quote, in conclusion, the hitherto unpublished statement of my friend Mr. Mann, who was one of Leichhardt's companions in the unsuccessful attempt of 1846-7, alluded to by Sturt. "The party on this occasion consisted of Mr. Mann, Mr. Hovenden Hely, Mr. Bunce; Perry, a saddler; Boeking, a German tanner and baker; and Brown, a Newcastle black. The object of this trip was to proceed as far as Peak Range, in latitude 22·, and to explore the Downs and country which he had discovered in his first expedition; and, by keeping a westerly course, endeavour to make Shark's Bay, and then Swan River. His first intentions, however, were to strike west before arriving at such a latitude, in fact make a bold push directly across to Swan River. I, however, after many conversations, persuaded him to relinquish such a design. Captain Sturt had arrived at latitude 24·, and had seen nothing but desert; and, therefore, any attempt to penetrate across it would be folly, we therefore arranged to proceed as far north as Peak Range, and then keep a westerly course to Shark's Bay. Before meeting Dr. L, in fact before he had returned from Port Essington, the idea had often struck me of undertaking an expedition across the island, by starting from Fort Bourke, on the Darling, and by keeping a northerly or north-westerly course, skirting the desert, to eventually arrive at Swan River. From what I had read of Sturt's journey, and the description of the country about the Gulf of Carpentaria, I felt convinced that the waters of these two points were divided by a low range of hills, by keeping along which water might be obtained, and the extent of the desert as fully ascertained as by proceeding directly across it. I mentioned this to my friend, Colonel Gordon, R. E, who agreed with my idea of the country, but thought the journey a very long and hazardous one to be undertaken. Dr. L. and party, to the astonishment of every one, arriving soon after, I had the pleasure of meeting him at Colonel Gordon's, who suggested that the expedition should be undertaken between us. I accordingly felt very willing to unite with Dr. L., and arrangements were at once commenced for another journey into the interior."

Such is the testimony of various independent witneses, who all confirm the idea, that the intention of Leichhardt was all along to skirt the desert.

If then he did reach the Victoria in 1848, and was not cut off, and we have now no ground to conclude he was, he would, in case of finding the country impracticable to the west, have gone round by the head of the Victoria, towards the north, and it is somewhere between the head of the Victoria and the head of the Clarke, that, I think, his tracks are to be looked for; not, probably, on any line of route explored by Mitchell, but to the westward, or, crossing Mitchell's track, on a line to Peak Range and the Burdekin. Or driven in by drought, he may have taken a course on the 148th meridian, without going across the Maranoa, where Hely could not trace him, on a new track of his own.

It is in the hope that a new expedition may be organised, with a view to the exploration of the country west of Mitchell's Belyando, as well as to ascertain whether any traces of my lamented friend can be found, that I have made this communication; believing, that, as I have had it in my power to put the matter in a tangible form, and to quote from MSS. notes in my possession, what has not before been committed to the press, I am only rendering a service to the cause of science, civilisation, and humanity.

W. B. CLARKE.   

St. Leonard's, 9th September, 1858.





5.5. Clarke's Letter to S.M.H., 20 October, 1858

LEICHHARDT AND THE DESERT.[—(5)]

To the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sir,-I am glad to find that the opinions which I have expressed in my former communications as to the necessity of a further search for the route taken by Leichhardt, in his journey towards Western Australia, have been generally admitted to be satisfactory; and I hope that an application which I have thought fit to make to the Government on the subject will not be without the desired result.

Having made this application, not without a reasonable expectation that it will be favourably considered, I did not intend taking up space in your columns with any further discussion. But the letter of Mr. Isaac, in your impression of this morning, induces me to trespass a little more on the patience of your readers.

Mr. Isaac has dealt very fairly with my letter of the 23rd August, on which he comments. He explains why he advised Mr. Hely to go westward instead of northward, and I do not blame, and never have presumed to blame, the latter gentleman for taking the advice given him. All I have regretted is, that he did not go further, and, before he returned, act on his own original intentions. As a bushman of considerable experience, and as a traveller with Leichhardt on a former occasion, he was well able to encounter difficulties from broken ground, scrubs, or any other of the physical obstacles of exploration; and, as he did not himself undertake the determination of geographical positions on the journey of 1852, having with him a person, purposely engaged to perform that part of the work, he is not to be considered personally responsible for any errors of that kind. And I should be very sorry to have it thought that, in what I said of his journey, I implied anything more than his own published reports justify.

Mr. Hely thought that Leichhardt would go by way of Peak Range. All that I have read or heard on the subject, and all that I have endeavoured to ascertain by reflection on the information before me, makes me now more strongly of opinion than ever that Mr. Hely was not far wrong in his belief, that Leichhardt would go rather in the direction of Peak Range (i.e. northwards) than directly to the west. It is very probable that his actual route was west of the Belyando River.

The letter you reprinted on the 12th instant from the Border Post, written by Mr. Roper, who was one of the band of explorers during Leichhardt's grand expedition to Port Essington, endorses my opinions, and accepts my statements in full, adopting my views and strengthening them by conclusions which are additional arguments in favour of those opinions. But Mr. Isaac says he does not see how my argument respecting Leichhardt's change of intended route to Mount Abundance, taking, instead of going by the way of the Balonne River, a direct line to the Mount, justifies the opinion that he might have changed his course on any other part of his journey. "I am," he says, "at a loss to understand how the fact of his having adopted this latter route in preference to the former can show any change of purpose." I have, however, said nothing of any change of "purpose," as affects his design, of getting to Western Australia, or even to the edge of the desert; my words are clearly enough explained in my letter, in this way:—"If he changed the first part of his route, why might he not have changed any other part of it?" And very satisfactorily to myself Mr. Isaac furnishes me, in his next sentence, with one of the strongest grounds I could desire for establishing the opinion (the one I have already adopted in my letter) that Leichhardt did change some other part of his route. "The abundance or deficiency of grass and water," says Mr. Isaac, "might easily account for so small a deviation from his proposed line of route." Well, if that is a good reason, as I admit, for "so small a deviation from his proposed line of route," how much better is it a reason for supposing a deviation from a direct passage into the desert! Such an admission strengthens what I said in my letter, that "neither Leichhardt nor any but a madman, bent on suicide, would have attempted to penetrate to Western Australia on such a route." It was exactly "the abundance or deficiency of grass and water," which I had in view.

I do not consider, therefore, that my friend Mr. Isaac, has refuted my argument; and I am much obliged for what he has done to support it.

As to the marked trees on the Warrego, I have now satisfied myself that Mr. Hely never went beyond that river, and that his Alpomdulla Creek is the western arm of the Warrego, the head of which Kennedy visited on 19th July, and which is left only indicated by dots on his chart. It is well known, that names are not assigned by the Aborigines, as by ourselves, to a whole river course, but that each particular spot is named to which any interest is attached—such as a waterhole, or any locality which has value in their eyes;—hence Alpomdulla, Warrego, Barcoo, Maranoa, &c., do not define to the blacks so many rivers, but so many localities on the rivers to which explorers have attached the names given by the blacks-names, too, which have a significant meaning, but which are very seldom discovered by the explorers. Hence, Mr. Hely may have misunderstood what the black gins told him of the creek on which the supposed murder was committed, leading him to infer that it could not be on the Warrego, because he did not bear in mind that there was an unexplored arm of that river. In this matter he got very poor aid from Captain Anderson, who "did" the latitudes and longitudes for him.

Since my last letter was published, I have received a communication from P. G. King, Esq., of Goonoo-goonoo, who thinks the letters XVA might mean "Expedition to the Victoria and Albert," which Kennedy's really was, as, after exploring the Victoria, he was to go to the head of the Albert, on the Gulf of Carpentaria. I admit this interpretation by my friend is more likely than my own. That X might be need for Expedition may be illustrated by an accident to which, the press is sometimes exposed, for, in the Moreton Bay Free Press, of 5th October, in the heading of Mr. Gregory's report, there is mention of the "XPEDITION" in "search of Dr. Leichhardt and party." What the compositor dropped by accident, the explorer may have dropped by design.

A good deal has been made of the statement of a shepherd, who told Mr. Hely, that he saw Leichhardt "going towards the setting sun," i.e. westwards, when he left Mount Abundance; Mr. Isaac alludes to it. But, after all, what is the statement worth? Of course, Leichhardt must have gone in some direction, to get clear of the station; and that, I presume, is all that can be made of it. He could scarcely have been more than a mile or two away; for the shepherd was with his flock, and had he gone northwards, Leichhardt would still have been within Mr. Macpherson's run, for that gentleman had other stations, in that direction. What the shepherd says is worth nothing to the question involved. Shepherds are fond of "yarns;" this, perhaps, is one of them.

Mr. Isaac says, that Leichhardt often omitted to mark his stations, "by leaving long intervals between his marked trees;" but we know he marked all important new localities, and he marked even the tree at his farthest point on the Maranoa, when in company with Mr. Isaac in 1847. I can hardly believe that he would go direct from Mount Abundance, to the Victoria, crossing the Warrego, without marking his line of route, because that was quite new.

As to the L surrounding XVA on the Warrego, Mr. Isaac thinks it may have been. Leichhardt's because some of his letters L were rough, and often made by a black-boy. But, if the L was carved by a black boy, were XVA also carved by him? And, would a black boy have put such letters inside such a letter L? I think it very probable, the assumed Warrego L was made by a blackfellow; it looks like a boomerang, as I before suggested, and the XVA may have been put on a blackfellows' mark of very old standing. A friend, however, suggests that there is no L in the case; and that that mark is a direction—a mark made pointing to the route of tho XVA, or Kennedy's "Expedition."

As to the Victoria L, Mr. Gregory's opinion must, of course, be respected. And Mr. Isaac says that Mr. Lang waa never there; I cannot maintain a supposition that he was, against a positive assertion that he was not. But, admitting this, and all that Mr. Isaac says touching the improbability that any one but Leichhardt cut that L, and admitting also, that it was there he camped "for the night," I do not see anything "singular" in the "coincidence" that another party, if the leader had an initial L to his name, should have used the same mark as Leichhardt, and I have already proved that Leichhardt, with Mr. Isaac in company, actually discovered a letter L on the back of a tree in 1847, and this L was not made by himself.

But I have argued up to this point, and I still maintain the argument, that, though there is nothing to prove, that the L on the Victoria is "not Leichhardt's," there is nothing to prove, that it is his, and it is that proof, and not the negative one, that we want.

Neither Mr. Hely, nor Mr. Gregory, nor Mr. Isaac, nor any one else, has shown, with any certainty, what became of Leichhardt after he left Mount Abundance, nor has any one yet produced any mark alleged to be his between that locality and the Victoria. On the Maranoa Mr. Hely could not find him; on the Warrego Mr. Gregory did not find him; and all there is to show his route, even, though when intending to go to the Victoria, he arranged to leave letters there, indicating his route beyond, is the solitary L and some cut saplings in the vicinity of a black fellows' camp, which is reported as such by Mr. Gregory. If he did not change his purpose in getting to the Victoria, he did, it seems, change his purpose of leaving any unmistakeable record of his arrival. For where are his letters? where the direction to dig for them?

But I have no objection, for argument's sake, to assume, that he did reach the Victoria; that the saplings were cut by him; that the L was made by him; and that he did write letters, and that (as the gins reported to Mr. Hely of Alpomdulla Creek that a flood swept away all the tin-pots and other articles of his camp,) so the flood Mr. Gregory speaks of, swept away all traces of the camp on the Victoria, save a sapling or two, and the dead shells heaped up by the blacks—but, admitting, this, I throw myself on the timely support afforded by Mr. Isaac in his allusion to the course adopted by Leichhardt from the Downs to Mount Abundance, and rely on the conviction of all experienced bushmen and explorers, that, if "the abundance or deficiency of grass and water might easily account for so small a deviation from his purposed line of route,"—the same consideration must have acted upon Leichhardt with irresistible force when he saw (though ten years ago) the burning wilderness before him, through which, with no trees to build his favourite gunyahs, no grass to feed his cattle, no game on which he, without provisions, as he was, save a few bullocks and very scanty supplies of other kinds, could live through a journey of upwards of 2000 miles, and no water; save of those periodical or paroxysmal rains, which would not be his friend, but his very worst enemy.

If any one, candidly reviewing all the circumstances of the case—all the facts which have been elicited, and all the arguments advanced (putting aside any errors into which I may have fallen in the anxiety to make the most of my own convictions) shall say that Leichhardt did not "hark back" in front of the desert, and follow out his original purpose of skirting the desert; by following it round, and keeping within the resources to be derived from the highlands, such as drinkable water, wood for fires, grass for cattle, and game, without which the whole party must have starved,—then, I will admit, that I am somewhat mistaken, and that instead of being a careful, cautious, and considerate explorer, he was "a madman, bent on suicide," and on the destruction of his companions. I cannot accept Mr. Gregory's explanation of his becoming entangled between the barren sand hills, and sheets of mud (from which he, certainly, never could have emerged), and which would, of course, have happened, had he gone "right a-head," till I have a proof which does not rest on probabilities alone, that in the most important journey he ever took, the great explorer threw away all his own experience and all the use of the information he had obtained from others, knowing that he had very little to depend on but his gun for food, in a country that could produce nothing of animal life but rats and reptiles, in which his cattle could get nothing to eat for days and days at a time, and even the deficiency of the grass seeds of the aboriginal bakeries would supply no bread for his party.

The experience we have hid of his mode of exploration—a mode that exposed him to a taunt by no means flattering to one who would defend on rashness—has taught us that Leichhardt would, whilst unchanging in purpose; as to his main design, never neglect the chances which nature threw in-his way; and that he was too fond of furnishing his companions with such comparatively good things as no desert could, promise, to go boldly and without apparent object, where they are not to be found.

The whole of the little squabbles that occasionally took place in his expedition to Port Essington arose from the complaints of the party respecting their supply of food; and I am certain that it was the urgency of commissariat claims which would have made him skirt the desert, and that only within gunshot of a daily supply.

Mr. Gregory is a much bolder explorer than Leichhardt ever was, but he is not, though in many, in all things, a more prudent one, and in his brilliant dash along the shores of Carpentaria, he found it necessary, on account of "deficiency of grass and water," to keep on the safe side, though he, too, as well as Leichhardt, desired to define the limits of the desert. Under this impression it is that I urge a further search between the 144th and 147th meridians and between the 25th and 18th parallels, a tract of country of which the greater part is scarcely known, and by which, whilst geography would be advanced in the tracing out of the continuation and general features of the Cordillera or Great Dividing Ranges, between the head of the Victoria and the head of the Burdekin River, the hiatus on the charts of Eastern Australia would be filled in; the limits of the desert would be defined, and the value of unexplored territory belonging to this colony, with the chance of a direct route to the Gulf of Carpentaria would be determined.

W. B. CLARKE.   

St. Leonard's, 18th October.




5.6 Clarke's Letter to The R.G.S. of London, November, 1858


{Page 87}

The Second Paper read was:—

2. On the Search for Leichhardt, and the Australian Desert. By the Rev. W. B. Clarke, of Sydney, m.a., f.r.g.s.

The last letter from Leichhardt was dated "Mount Abundance, April 4th, 1848." Since then two expeditions have found traces which are considered to have referred to him. The one expedition was that of Mr. Hely in 1852, and the other that of Mr. Gregory in 1858.

Mr. Hely found two camps 150 miles from Mount Abundance, each of them marked with the cypher XV. A., enclosed within a rude border of bent lines that bore some resemblance to a letter L., and which he interprets as indicating "Leichhardt, April 15." He also heard from the natives of the neighbourhood that Leichhardt was murdered at that very place.

Mr. Gregory found remains that he concluded to be those of Leichhardt 80 to 100 miles farther towards the interior than Hely's camps, and, as such, to refute the report of his previous death at the latter place. The remains consisted of an L cut upon a tree by a camp; of the marks of sharp axes; of some saplings that had been cut with them; and of two horses running wild.

The object of Mr. Clarke is to show that neither the discoveries of Mr. Hely nor those of Mr. Gregory have any reference to the camps or fate of Leichhardt. {Page 88}

In the first place, he argues that Leichhardt could not have reached Hely camp on the 15th of August. The rate of his previous journeyings, and that of other travellers in the same country, as Mitchell, Kennedy, and even Gregory, make it highly improbable that 150 miles of direct distance could have been accomplished by him in 11 days.

Again, the country north-east of Mount Abundance had been visited as far back as 1847, by many persons on the look out for cattle runs, and the trees were known to bear marks of an M and also of an H, and Leichhardt himself speaks of having found an Ii on the Balonne. The axe marks are to be accounted for by the fact of Kennedy having given axes to the natives thereabouts; and, if the saplings had not been cut by Kennedy himself, it is to be remembered that, according to Mitchell, the natives of those parts use saplings for the construction of their own huts. The loose horses found by Gregory in Cooper Creek are ascribed by Mr. Clarke to Captain Sturt's expedition. That explorer relates that he turned out a roan horse that was unfit for further work "in pity" at this very spot, and also that, 145 miles farther on, another horse stole away from his party (as the same animal had often done before), and Mr. Clarke thinks it must have tracked its way back to the excellent pasturage where its roan companion had been left behind.*

[* What were the colours of the horses seen by Mr. Gregory?—F.G.]

Mr. Clarke considers it questionable whether Leichhardt went to the Victoria at all. His method of travelling, which was cautious, slow, and persevering, makes it likely enough that when he actually came to the frightful desert he would have skirted it, looking out for an opening, rather than have attempted to cross it at once. Mr. Clarke concludes that it is somewhere between the head of the Victoria and the head of the Clarke that Leichhardt's tracks are to be looked for, not probably on Mitchell's route, but to the westward of it, or else that, driven in by drought, Leichhardt may have taken a course on the 148th meridian, without crossing the Maranoa.

Captain Byron Drury, r.n., f.r.g.s.—Upon this subject perhaps I may be permitted to say that I happened to be present when we took possession of the whole of that part of the coast of North Australia. We found it was one of the finest districts in Australia; and I must say that I think Port Essington, with the exception of Port Jackson, the finest harbour in Australia. I was there during eighteen months, and we never had the slightest disease or illness inour two ships' companies. I have heard that port cried down, I am sorry to say, by my late friend Captain Stanley and others; but from what I have seen of it, I perfectly agree with the late Sir Gordon Bremer, that there is not a place on the north coast of Australia better adapted for Europeans, in {Page 89} addition to the advantage of possessing a perfect harbour, with a peninsula, the neck of which is only eight miles in width. Why we have not retained possession of that coast is to me extraordinary. I entirely agree with my friend Sir Charles Nicholson about Cape York; and, putting the Gulf of Carpentaria on one side, I must say I think Port Essington the best site along the whole coast. It is well watered for Australia. Had we not been there in 1838 two French frigates would probably have taken possession of it. They arrived two months after us. We held it for twelve years, and then abandoned it. The proved advantage of Cape York as a place of refuge for the frequent wrecks among the Barrier Reefs and Torres Straits is, among other considerations, of great importance.

Rear-admiral Fitzroy, f.r.g.s.—May I venture to remark that this seems to be one of those great questions that might fairly be taken up by the Government. I apprehend that the exploration of Australia has never yet been undertaken in a thoroughly efficient manner. There has been the utmost daring, energy, perseverance, and good management on the part of those engaged, but the undertakings have been in detail rather than comprehensive, and by comparatively private expeditions.

How strange it would appear to an Arabian or an African if we were to ask him to undertake an excursion across the vast deserts of Africa with ponies or horses, or even bullocks! How is it that we have never taken the camel—"the ship of the desert"—from those countries where it is indigenous, and transported it to those of our colonies which are in such want of it? We have in Australia an enormous extent of country which in all probability is a comparative desert. There may be steppes, there may be a great inland sea—perhaps fresh, perhaps salt—who can say with certainty? The probability is that there are no very high ranges of mountains, and no very great rivers, but a great extent of barren and unfertile country, with perhaps an extent of inland water. No desert has yet been found in any part of the world in which there is not an oasis. There may be such a space in the interior of Australia—not only a fertile and valuable district, but one in which there may be tribes who have never yet seen the white man. When we consider that we have hundreds of thousands of our countrymen spread round the borders of that continent (for such it is), surely it is worth urging the Government to undertake an expedition into the interior upon a scale worthy of this great country.

It may be naturally asked, how should it be done? One very simple course occurs to me—somewhat military it may be—that of first establishing a base of operations as far within the country as one can yet go with security, and making there a temporary settlement, perhaps for two or three years; and then from that basis working inwards.

One expedition might be set on foot from the eastern coast, another from the south, another from the west, and another from the north—all carried out under Government, by experienced colonists, with such aids as I have alluded to, particularly the camel—emphatically, I repeat, "the ship of the desert." Apologising for this interruption, I conclude by earnestly pressing for the introduction of the camel to Australia.

Lord A. Churchill, f.r.g.s.—I would venture to make one or two observations with regard to the great importance which would result to this country, and to the whole of the Australian continent, from the formation of a succession of settlements on the north-east coast. I believe the region in question would be found very favourable for the production of the cotton-plant. I am told it has been known to flourish there, and can be produced in sufficient quantities to supply the English market, and from its peculiar nature likely to bear a high value. It must, therefore, be a matter of the highest concern to this country to be enabled by means of these settlements to secure the production of cotton for ourselves, and thus in some {Page 90} measure render us independent of the United States. There are other articles natural to a tropical climate which might be cultivated to great advantage in these provinces; and the climate moreover is well adapted to European constitutions. Therefore I think it is a question which ought to be taken up by the Imperial Government.

Dr. Hodgkin, f.r.g.s.—I do not expect to add anything to the interesting remarks made by gentlemen who have been upon the spot, but I cannot allow the opportunity to pass without calling attention to one point. I have been informed by a friend, who spent some time on the northern coast of Australia, in the vicinity of Cape York, that many wrecks occur in that neighbourhood; and his statements have been corroborated this evening by Captain Drury. Considering the number and value of the shipping in that sea, independently of the productions to be obtained from the land, it must be highly important to take advantage of the natural harbours to be found on that part of the coast, where vessels and their crews might be saved in case of injury or distress.

Mr. J. Crawfurd, f.r.g.s.—I believe I can with confidence assert, that the alleged fertility at Cape York, or at any place in its neighbourhood, is an impossibility—for this reason: there is no range of mountains, and hence no fall of rain, and consequently no adequate means of irrigation. Irrigation, or an abundant supply of water within ten or twelve degrees of the equator, is indispensable to fertility: the most fertile land is unproductive without water, and water for perennial irrigation does not exist about Cape York. Horned cattle may be reared on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria, but there is no market for them. Sheep could not thrive there, and they would produce hair, or something like it, instead of wool, and that would be unsaleable. Besides, where are the labourers to cultivate the soil? No European constitution could stand the heat so near the equator; and as to the Chinese, they have too much good sense to go there as long as they can get to the gold-fields. As to Port Essington, that was abandoned eight or nine years ago on account of its insalubrity. The harbour may be good, but the climate is so unhealthy that no European could live there; and such being the result of long experience, the settlement was abandoned by the Government.

Captain Byron Drury.—I do not know where Mr. Crawfurd obtained his information, but I lived at Port Essington eighteen months, and I can say that we grew every tropical production in the greatest luxuriance. We had ponds of water about there; and during an excursion of ten days into the interior we found water wherever we went. I do not mean to say that water is as abundant as in New Zealand, but we found continuous streams; and as to fertility, we raised enough to supply us in two months after we arrived there. I will give another instance of the productiveness of the country. When Sir Stamford Raffles left this settlement, Captain Barker turned out some cattle. In 1838, when we went there, and a party of us penetrated thirty miles into the country, we found a quantity of oxen wallowing in swamps; and now there are wild horses. How could they live without water?—and yet there they were living and prospering, especially the cattle.

Mr. Trelawny Saunders.—I think the best answer to Mr. Crawfurd is the statement of Flinders, who, when he explored the Gulf of Carpentaria, expressed his surprise at finding an abundance of surface water at the end of the dry season. Leichhardt also stated that during his long journey around the Gulf, his cattle, far from being generally in want of water or vegetation, fattened as they went along the road. A recent traveller has told us that the country presented a dismal appearance, covered as it was with long dry grass, burnt here and there by the natives. The gentleman must have forgotten that the dried grass was once green, and that its growth had been fostered in the proper season by sufficient moisture. Against the evidence of Flinders, Leichhardt, and Stokes, I think Mr. Crawfurd's opinions must give way. I {Page 91} went away from a former meeting grieved to think that Mr. Gregory's report would tend to hinder the settlement of Northern Australia. This paper of Mr. Clarke's has revived my hopes as to the early colonisation of the country round the Gulf of Carpentaria. Let it he recollected that the two expeditions sent out to connect the northernmost bend of the Barcu River with the bottom of the Gulf of Carpentaria failed, not from the difficulties of the country, but from the failure of provisions; for Sir Thomas Mitchell describes the country to the northward of the Barcu as the finest he had seen in the whole of Australia.

The President.—The discussion has somewhat diverged from the point at which we started—the expedition in search of the remains of Leichhardt. I rejoice, however, that it has taken this turn, because it has brought forward my friend Mr. Crawfurd, who, upon certain subjects connected with North Australia, may be called our "objector-general." His objections are indeed always of great use, and on this occasion they have elicited from gentlemen who have lived upon the spot, that this very region, which my friend stigmatises as unfertile, and not fitted for the maintenance of sheep and the growth of wool, is in the highest degree productive, well-watered, and adapted for the sustenance of sheep as well as cattle. I regret that Sir John Pakington, one of Her Majesty's Ministers most interested in this discussion, so far as it regards the establishment of a great naval depot in the northern part of Australia, should have left the room just as we were beginning to debate that point. To me indeed it is not a new subject. In the years 1844 and 1845, when I was your President, I argued earnestly for the establishment of a great naval entrepôt upon that coast; and I supported with all the energy in my power the enlightened views of Admiral Sir Gordon Bremer, a most experienced navigator in those seas. I have long thought that Great Britain ought not to hold three sides of the great continent of Australia without having on its northern frontier any one settlement. Provided only a port be established, it is unimportant to me whether it be at Cape York or Port Essington; though, if I were consulted, I should like to see a settlement established also in Cambridge Gulf, which is well watered by the Victoria River, navigable for some distance, where our men were encamped for eight months, enjoying perfect health, and where the wool of the sheep did not deteriorate; these animals having been pastured up to their knees in grass. Judging from the experience of Gregory's expedition, I feel certain that Englishmen could live there to their own advantage, as well as to that of the mother country. I rejoice indeed that gentlemen who have resided in Australia are ready to enforce the necessity of establishing some great entrepôts, particularly as ports of refuge, to provide against the possibility of these seas being swept by a hostile fleet; for with the knowledge that the French have now occupied and settled New Caledonia, with its splendid natural bays and harbours, which were discovered and named by our own Cook, it is absolutely essential that we should be better prepared.






6. Walker's Expedition in Search of Burke and Wills, 1862.


4.—Journal of Mr. Walker from the day he left Macintosh's Station, on the Nogoa, to that of his arrival at the Albert River, Gulf of Carpentaria.

{Page 133}

[Extract from
Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London
Volume xxxiii, 1863, Pages 133-150.]

Edited by the Assistant-Secretary.


On the 15th Sept., [1861] left Mr. Macintosh's station on a reek flowing into the Nogoa, which I crossed on the 19th, and then went to the north to hit Poma, which tributary of the Claude takes its rise at my pass over the main range; this is a great detour, but by this means I avoided the dense brigalow scrub which intervenes between the Nogoa River and Salvator Lake and the pass. On the 20th we reached the beautiful Emerald Downs, on Poma Creek, camped there the 21st, and arrived at the foot of the pass and my old camp on the 23rd; the grass had caught fire from my camp, and was now a fine sward. We camped on the Nivelle the 25th. My first marked tree is on Emerald Downs, as that was new ground to me. The 26th we pushed down to the Nive, about 5 miles above my old No. 11 camp. The next day, 27th, crossed over to the Victoria, and camped (No. 6) below my No. 29 tree. On the 28th, 29th, and 30th, pushed down the Victoria by fair stages, and on the morning of the 7th October found Camp 10 was in long. 146° 1' E., lat. 24° 34' S. Whilst camped here we searched for the L tree seen by Gregory; but as we had seen his 22nd (XXII.) tree on the north bank, we searched on the same for the L tree and it was not until the 5th Jingle and Mr. Haughton found it on the south bank. In the meanwhile I had found another L tree 2 miles below our camp on north side, and 7 below the tree seen by Gregory. I looked for an open road N.N.W., but was checked by a dense, almost impenetrable scrub of acacia. Mitchell calls this acacia "brigalow," but that is incorrect, for it differs much from it, and I have seen but two or three real brigalow since we crossed the ridge dividing the Nive watershed from that of the Victoria. The blacks call this acacia "gurrt." Brigalow they call "noorwool." A little below the second L tree, I found I could pass round the termination of this scrub. I surmise that Leichhardt intended leaving the Victoria at the tree seen by Gregory; was stopped in his N.N.W. course by the same barrier encountered by me, and turned back to camp at the tree found by me, subsequently clearing the scrub where I rounded it. His track, if he had dry weather, would, on this basaltic soil, be soon obliterated.

October 7.—There was much difficulty in catching the horses this morning, owing to their having improved so much during the last few days' spell. Passed by Leichhardt's second L tree; thence over a succession of downs and plains, intersected by narrow and {Page 134} open scrub of the acacia the blacks call "gurrt." Rain at night. Distance, 17 miles.

Oct. 8.—Course still N.N.W. Crossed a sandy creek with large bed, but no water; it was here running through sand-hills, but lower down I could see it opened on the downs and plains we had been traversing all morning. One mile beyond this we killed an emeu. Passed another creek, with a pool of water, luckily for the horses. We now ascended a high downs ridge, surmounted by a belt of scrub. Still N.N.W. We had reached the division of waters betwixt the Alice and Victoria. The first creek crossed to-day was no doubt that crossed by Sir Thomas Mitchell, arid which he marks on his map as a deep rocky channel. Last 5¾ miles was through sandy box country, clothed with a grass like knitting-needles. Camped without water at dusk. Distance, 20½ miles.

Oct. 9.—Shortly after starting we found a pool of muddy or rather milky-looking water; the horses indulged in a good drink, and we filled two of our excellent water-bags—last night we found the benefit of them. I now turned to my course again N.N.W., which we followed till I discerned symptoms of a watercourse trending N. by E. 10°. A very short distance showed I was right, and I followed it through a scrub to where it joined a larger creek, which flowed W.N.W. This creek I followed to camp (No. 13), at a place sufficiently open and well grassed for my purpose. This creek had, after we came on it, received two tributaries from the north-east, and had now abundance of water, possibly, but not certainly, permanent. Except the last 6 miles, the ground was the same sandy box country, with the same grass, as yesterday evening.—Distance, 16 miles.

Oct. 10.—To-day travelled over a tableland of sandy ground, with the same needle-like grass as yesterday. Then descended into a broad sandy creek, with reeds, and which bad not long ceased running; I called this the Patrick, after one of my old comrades (aboriginal). The Patrick now ran N.N.W. 30°, and then N.N.W. 25°; I therefore followed it till it turned N.W. 45°; but I still followed it, for the heavy sandy ground and an oppressively hot day I saw was distressing to the horses; at the end of another 2 miles it turned N.N.W. 25°, when a half-mile's ride brought us to a long reach of water, at which I camped, as the day's work was too much broken into. Camp No. 14 is about 9 miles from the Alice. When I left the Victoria, I laid down in pencil, on Mitchell's map, what I supposed to be the probable course of the Alice, also a tributary which exactly answers to the creek we were on last night, and which I have now called the Macalister. The Patrick I fell in with 3 miles sooner than I anticipated, but its northerly course {Page 135} makes up for that. I hope to fall in on the other side of the Alice with a tributary coming from the N.N.W., possibly from the north. The advance party to-day saw very old tracks of horses, and apparently mules, going down the Patrick. I much regret not having seen them, as they must have been Leichhardt's. Distance, 11 miles.

Oct. 11.—Started Mr. Macalister, with instructions to travel N.N.W. by compass. I pulled him up at a beautiful camp, on a small creek, with excellent grass. The country, after the first 4 miles, was all plains and downs, intersected by small belts of the gurrt (acacia) scrub. The last 5 miles were over very fine downs, clothed with that excellent grass I call rye (because it always grows near barley-grass). From these downs I saw the range, about 25 miles to the east. Distance, 9 miles (presumed).

Oct. 12.—To-day we rode N.N.W. by compass, over fine very high downs; crossed two small creeks flowing from them N. by W., and camped at the head of a third. The range now lay about 20 miles east, and betwixt us and it there was a fine downy valley, evidently well watered. Day cool and pleasant, and horses doing well on the excellent feed. Latitude by observation of Camp 16, 23° 17' S. Night cool; thermometer at daylight, 50°. Distance, 15 miles.

Oct. 13.—Our course N.N.W. by compass, took us down the creek we had camped on, until it joined another water in several places. We crossed this creek, and at the end of 7½ miles from our camp we crossed a creek full of water, with an anabranch flowing to the south-west. This I take to be the Alice. Hitherto we have been on fine downs all day; within half a mile farther we crossed a tributary coming from the north, and then another tributary. By keeping our course N.N.W. we again crossed the first creek, and camped on a fine reach of water. In the first tributary we saw the finest reach of water I have seen this side of the range, and at it was more than one black's camp. About 1 mile lower down than where we crossed the Alice, was a range on the right bank, which I named Mount Rodney, after one of my Murray men. As all three creeks meet there, I expect there must be a large quantity of water at the foot of it. The two tributaries both flow through acacia (gurrt) scrub for the last 5 miles; but where we have camped the country is more open, with promise of improvement. It will be observed that we have seen very little permanent water; but by following down the watercourses into the valley which lay to our right the last two days, I would expect to find abundance. Distance (direct) 11 miles.

Oct. 14.—The country at first was more thickly covered with acacia than suited me; and as we now had hit the creek again, I crossed it, and travelled parallel to it for a short distance 60° W. of {Page 136} N. by compass. The country now opened, and I resumed my N.N.W. compass course, which in about an hour and a quarter brought us to the summit of the downs ridge which separates the watershed of the Alice from that of the Thomson. Some low ranges were seen to the east, about 5 or 6 miles off, and a small one on the downs to the west, about 3 miles, is probably where the two creeks we have left take their rise. We now made 10 miles more over the downs, and as we descended stony plains came to a beautiful river, running W. by N. This, which is no doubt a tributary of the Thomson, I have called the Coreenda. Mr. Gregory, when he left the Thomson, says that river is formed by the small watercourses emanating from the sandstone ridges; had I thought that, I would not have ventured where I am now. This is splendid sheep country. I have no doubt that many of the holes in the Coreenda are permanent; but it is not possible to tell which, as that river has not long since ceased running. It floods occasionally about a quarter of a mile on each side, except where the downs approach the bank. The gum-trees look as if drought were a complete stranger to them, so fresh and healthy-looking are they. Distance, 14 miles.

Oct. 15. At Camp 18.—This day was one of disappointment, for the boy Jemmy Cargara returned in the afternoon without three of the horses, which he had been seeking since daylight. This is the first time he has failed. I now sent out three men on horseback, and they returned with the horses at three. Shortly after I had unsaddled the remainder, Coreen Jemmy and Patrick reported having seen the tracks of a considerable number of horses. I sent a party to examine them; they returned and reported there was no doubt of the tracks; that they were very old, and had been there near a fine lagoon, about 2 miles above my camp, and in wet weather. Aneroid, 29.5.

Oct. 16.—The early part of to-day's journey was over plains covered with gurrt, at times rather too close; thence past a watercourse and two lagoons, to sandstone ridges, with needle-grass—very uncomfortable travelling. Four miles from the lagoons we crossed the well-marked tracks of a very large party going a little N. of W. These tracks were very old, and had been made in wet weather. They will be visible probably for years to come, whereas mine, made in dry weather, will be obliterated the first rainy season. We then came on to the opposite declivity of the sandstone ridges, and from thence saw a high peak which I have called Mount Macalister, being 5° N. of W. by compass; and another bluff mount, which I have called Mount Horsefeldt. I now perceived why Leichhardt's tracks had been going west. He probably camped on the Coreenda, above where my men saw the horse-tracks; thence travelled parallel to my course, and, being higher up the ridges, saw {Page 137} the peak sooner than I did, and turned off towards it. I now saw I was getting too intimate with the dividing range, and altered my course to north-west by compass. One mile brought me to a small watercourse, with many small pools of temporary water, arid, as there was a sufficiency of good grass, I camped. How is it that the blacks here have iron tomahawks? One has evidently a broad axe. The blacks on the Nive, who are much nearer the settlements, have only stone tomahawks, some very fine ones. Distance, 25 miles.

Oct. 17.—Started early on a north-west course, when, having crossed a high ridge, we came on a river running to the S. of W. This I believe to be the principal head of the Thomson. Here were seen the old tracks of horses (Leichhardt's camp was probably lower down on this river). We proceeded on the same course, passing betwixt two basalt ridges. I now for a short distance diverged to W.N.W., to get on a plain, when I resumed the north-west course, over two basalt ridges. The basalt was injuring our horses' feet, and I turned again W.N.W. to get on the plains. We next crossed a creek followed by a ridge. I was now able to resume the north-west course, and we hit a nice lagoon, and another head of the Thomson running south-west betwixt these two, and going N.N.W. were again the well-defined tracks of Leichhardt's party (he must have had a considerable quantity of wet weather). He had, no doubt, from Macalister's Peak perceived he was on the verge of the desert, and turned again to his old N.N.W. course. I now turned 25° N. of W. to go to a peak rising off the downs. From this peak I saw displayed before me an awful waste of endless plains. My man Patrick, who ascended the peak with me, and who is accustomed to the immense plains of the Edward and Murrumbidgee, was struck with consternation, and he remarked to me, "There is no father side this country." Upon leaving this solitary peak, which I have called the Sentinel, I had to turn 10° W. of N. by compass. We passed betwixt two terminations of spurs, over one ridge, to a gum-creek, running by N. We searched in vain for water, and had to push on over the next ridge, reaching another creek with sufficient water for a day or two. Distance, 25½ miles.

Oct. 18. Spelled at Camp 20.—I took a ride for 3 miles down the creek, which runs W.N.W. through the plains. I found another long pool of water, but fast drying up. We went to the top of the next ridge to get a good view of the range. Found I must still keep 10° W. of N. by compass. I observed a high mountain in that direction, with a remarkable gap in it. I expect to cross Leichhardt's track again to-morrow: of course whether we see it will depend upon whether he was still travelling in a rain season or not. The ground dries up here very quick. The thermometer, {Page 138} from 12 to 2 P.M. was 96° in the shade; the aneroid is 29.4. By observations taken from two different stars this morning, our latitude is 21° 50', 20 miles more north than my dead reckoning, which previously never differed from the observations more than 3 miles. We have travelled over some very good downs since leaving the sandstone. Near the ranges the grass is sufficiently thick, but as they slope down to the plain it gets thinner and thinner.

Oct. 19.—Good travelling all day. We crossed some fine downs. At the end of the first 4 miles we crossed a creek running W.S.W., and shortly afterwards another running south-west; then came to a third which ran S.S.W.; 3 miles beyond, pulled up the last of the waters of the Thomson watershed. This one was running south. We were now rising fast, and we travelled 2 miles upon a plateau of downs. Seeing the gap I have spoken of a little on my right, I altered my course from 10° W. of N. by compass to north, and on the same plateau reached it. I now turned down the opposite fall 10° W. of N. by compass, and struck a large creek running in three and sometimes more channels. This creek runs W.N.W., and is evidently the beginning of a large river. Some very high mountains are now close to us to the north. The aneroid is now 29.2, or 23.19. The gap we have crossed could have been very little under the height of the main range: where we crossed it, the aneroid stood at 28.9. Distance, 21½ miles.

Oct. 20.—Thermometer at daylight, 66°. I steered N.N.W. by compass, over fine very high basaltic downs, but thinly grassed in some places; we passed a tributary of the creek or river we camped on last night, and camped on a much larger head of the same river, which I have called the Haughton. We unfortunately disturbed three blacks, and thus failed in having an interview. They left very much worn iron tomahawks in this camp, and I have added three new ones to it. The hole here, though of great size and depth, is nearly dry. There do not appear to have been any of the heavy rains here which fell on the Victoria, as well as on the coast, in July and August. There is no appearance of spring; the carrots, instead of being green, like what they were on the Alice waters, have for the last few days been quite brown and brittle. A very high mountain, E.N.E. from the camp (No. 22), I have named Mount Gilbee, after Dr. Gilbee, who moved the resolution that I should lead this party.

Oct. 21.—Started 30° W. of N., till we crossed a tributary of the Haughton; thence to the top of a scrubby spur of the range, on which Patrick shot a turkey. I had now to turn north by compass to get out on to a plain, then N. by W. by compass, and crossed another tributary of the Haughton. Here three of the men in vain looked for water, and we had to push on over a ridge for 2½ miles. I ran down a creek W.N.W. for 4 miles, and then W. by N. {Page 139} for 4 miles more, being enticed on from point to point by the appearance of the gum-trees, and the hope of finding water to bring my mare on to it. I saw it was of no use, and turned to the top of a gap in a mountain I have called Pollux; another to the east I called Castor. I had now a fine view of the country to the north, and with my glass saw gum-trees across a plain about 5 miles off. We went down the slope of the downs, and reached some splendid reaches of water, evidently the back-water of a large river. We had, however, to leave four more horses on the downs, and it was dark before we got our saddles off. The horses, parched with thirst, having bad no water during a fearfully hot day, rushed into the water, packs and all; luckily no damage was done. Distance, 24½ miles.

Oct. 22.—A day's spell, as a matter of course, at Camp 23, Jingle, in collecting the horses to-day, saw the river, which he says is as big as the Dawson: we shall cross it to-morrow, and likewise another, which I think comes round a peak I saw from Mount Pollux, bearing by compass 12° E. of N. The downs here are well grassed, and if the climate is not too hot, this is as good sheep country as any in Australia. I have no doubt that permanent water is to be found near this, but that at our camp would not stand more than seven or eight months.

Oct. 23.—Went N.N.W. by compass, crossing the river, which is a sandy dry channel, 90 yards wide: this is an immense width, considering bow high we are, the aneroid standing at 29.15. In about an hour, on the same course, we crossed a large tributary, two-thirds of the width of the main river, which I have named the Barkly, after the Governor of Victoria. A short distance from this brought us to the tip of a basalt ridge; and as a range was now in our way, I turned 32° W. of N. to the top of another ridge, having crossed a small channel. I now turned 55° W. of N., and then due west to a small creek with two temporary water-holes and good grass. As I must cross the range, which I take to be a spur of the main range, I camped, not wishing to attempt more to-day. I hoped to cross Leichhardt's track, but we have seen no signs of it. As the Barkly is running north-west, I think it probable he followed it as long as it kept that course. I suppose this river, which I expect receives large tributaries from the north, is a principal feeder of Stuart's great lake, and that Eyre's Creek flows into it; if so, Burke must have struck it. The thermometer this morning at daylight was 64°; this evening at sundown 86°. The aneroid 29.15. Night squally, and aneroid rose to 29.25. Distance, 11½ miles.

Oct. 24.—When I got to the top of the range this morning, I found I was on an extensive basaltic tableland. The aneroid stood at 28.9. The range, with a peak which I saw from Mount Pollux, stood in the midst of this tableland. Two very high {Page 140} mountains were seen about 18 miles off; one 10° E. of N., and the other 20° E. of N. The basalt was distressing to the horses, and we could not average 2 miles an hour. We were pulled up by a deep ravine with a large creek at the bottom, and lined with cliffs of basalt columns; and it was with some difficulty we found a slope of debris not too steep for our descent; and then great care had to be taken. On reaching the foot of the cliffs we ran down the creek W. by N. to a fine pool, where we camped, having been five hours doing (Distance) 6½ miles.

Oct. 25.—Made a fair start at 7.45 A.M. I followed down Jingle Creek, as I wished to clear the basaltic ranges if possible: 11½ miles in a general westerly direction, now brought us to the Barkly River, leaving which we ascended to a bit of downs. I now saw that a spur of the same basaltic ranges must make the Barkly run W.S.W.; and, as there was no help for it, I steered in that direction, crossing the river and camping at a fine pool of water, with good grass and open country—the 'beau ideal' of a camp. The large tributary which I have called the Macadam, must have joined the Barkly at the back of a spur I see from here, bearing 30° S. of E. I had a view of both of them from the tableland, and then a plain separated them. We have had lots of pigeons at this camp; a lagoon about half a mile from here is reported to be permanent; I shall probably see it to-morrow. The day has been very hot, and yet not oppressively so, owing to a breeze which, although blowing from the W.S.W., was, strange to say, cool. We have generally had cool breezes from the east hitherto, at night especially. After sundown the thermometer was 100°; aneroid, 29.2. Distance, 14½ miles.

Oct. 26.—I overtook the advance party, and found them in vain endeavouring to get a parley with some gins who were crouching in the long grass on the bank of the river. I gave them some tomahawks, which gave them more confidence. One old lady who spoke a language of which Jemmy Cargara understood a little, stated that she had seen men like me many years ago down the river; pointing W.S.W., she said another river joined it from the south-east; this must be the Haughton. She also, in pointing W.S.W., repeated the words "Caree Garee" several times. I now turned north-west by compass, but the basalt again made us turn S. by W. 10°, to a fine reach of water and fine feed for the horses. I determined to spell here a day before attempting the basalt, which, coûte qui coûte, I must surmount if I wish to get to the north. Jingle having seen a little black boy near this, Mr. Haughton went to the camp with three of my men, and where he fell in with three black men: they had with them one of the gins to whom I had given the tomahawks; this insured a friendly reception and them returned to my camp with Mr. Haughton. They {Page 141} gave us to understand by signs, and by as much of their language as Jemmy Cargara could comprehend, that this river flowed W.S.W. by compass into Careegaree; that it was joined by another large river from the north-east. If we went north-west by compass, after crossing that river, we would go over a range and then come to a river which ran north-west into Careegaree, by which we conclude they mean the Gulf of Carpentaria; the other must be Stuart's great lake. These blacks have superior spears, thrown by a womera. One of grass-tree jointed was of immense length; another, not quite so long, had three prongs, one of which was barbed with a bit of bone fastened on with gum. Thermometer 86° at sundown; at 12 to-day it was 88°, and 100° at 2 and 3 P.M. Aneroid 29.21. Distance, 13 miles.

Oct. 27.—Spelled (it being Sunday) at Camp 27. The thermometer at 1 A.M. was at 68°; the aneroid rose to 29.25, and subsequently to 29.32, but after 12 it went down to 29.19. Yesterday evening Mr. Haughton and I ascended the range, at foot of which is this camp. We found that it was still the same tableland of basalt we have been skirting: however, by rounding this point, we get, north-west, a short piece of good ground, and then must encounter the basalt again. Day very hot. Thermometer in shade 102° at 2 P.M.; 98° at 3; at sundown, 89°. The water at this camp no doubt stands a long time, but as at present it is only 5 feet deep, it cannot be deemed permanent, notwithstanding its great length. Jingle yesterday saw some large lagoons of permanent, or, as he terms it, old water, on the south side of the river; and as there is a chain of such lagoons all along on that side under the downs, no doubt many are permanent: on this or the north side there are water-holes similar to that at this camp whenever the spurs of the basalt tableland approach the river. Jemmy Cargara, in looking for the horses this morning fell in with the blacks again, and among them was now an old man who spoke some words of his language. He said he doubted whether we should find water for the horses in the first river we had to cross. There is therefore more than one yet running into the Barkly across our course. He told Jemmy, that after crossing a river we should cross a range which came from Jemmy's country, meaning, of course, the main range. Lat. 20° 46'. 1½' diff. from dead reckoning.

Oct. 28.—Made an excellent 7 o'clock start. After rounding the spur at No. 27, we had 1½ hour's fair riding, north-west, until we reached the top of the basalt; then over this spur, the descent and a ravine in it being so broken as to cause me to fear some accident to the horses; luckily none took place, and 2½ hours' fast riding north-west, over good undulating downs, brought us to the first river, which I have called the Dutton, after my friend Mr. Charles B. Dutton. The old black's doubts as to the water proved {Page 142} correct, and as Rodney, by digging, found some within a few inches of the surface, I determined to camp and make a pool for the horses. To supply forty-eight horses was no light undertaking, but all hands worked with a will, and before sundown the horses were all satisfied, and had plenty to return to during the night. The small black ants here are such a nuisance that no one can sleep. Distance, 16 miles.

Oct. 29.—Pulled up very early at two nice pools of temporary water, with good grass, as I do not deem it prudent to pass water after the warning we have received. Distance 5 miles.

Oct. 30.—Went 30° W. of N. to a gap on a downs ridge; from thence saw a range ahead of us, and reached the summit in 7 miles, same course, having crossed two large creeks. We now travelled over this range, which was of red sandstone (of course clothed with spinifex grass), north-west, and this brought us to a fine channel of a river, where we disturbed a black digging for water. We ran this river, which I have called the Stawell, a short distance W. by N. by compass, where Rodney found a beautiful spring water-hole, where we camped. The feed for the horses is also excellent.* Thunder at night, and a few drops of rain. Distance, 14 miles.

[* We had hardly unsaddled our horses, when the voices of blacks were heard. Jingle, Paddy, and Jemmy Cargara went down the river towards them, when, to their surprise, they were addressed in Yarrinaakoo, the language spoken by the blacks on the Comet, and told in angry terms to be off and not to come there. My men resented this treatment, but fearing my disapproval should they fire on them, as they wished to do, they came back and reported to me that these blacks were "coola." We now heard them shouting in all directions, very evidently collecting the others who were hunting. In the meanwhile we had our dinner. Shortly after they had collected what they deemed sufficient for their purpose, and we heard one party coming up the river, and another answering their calls from over the ridge near our camp. It was time now for us to be doing, so I directed Mr. Macalister, Mr. Haughton, Jingle, Paddy, and Coreen Jemmy to take steady horses and face the river mob, whilst Jack and Rodney, and Jemmy Cargara stopped with me to protect the camp and meet the hill party. The mounted party met about thirty men, painted and loaded with arms, and they charged them at once. Now was shown the benefit of breech-loaders, for such a continued steady fire was kept up by this small party that the enemy never was able to throw one of their formidable spears. Twelve men were killed, and few if any escaped unwounded. The hill mob probably got alarmed at the sound of the heavy firing, and did not consider it convenient to come to the scratch. The gins and children bad been left camped on the river, and, as there was no water there, our possession cf the spring was no doubt the casus belli. They might have shared it with us had they chosen to do so. This unavoidable skirmish ensured us a safe night, otherwise I think there would have been some casualty in my party before morning, as they can throw their spears 150 yards.]

Oct. 31.—The question now was, what water were we on, and had we crossed the main range or not? The river below our camp turned a little S. of W. We went 11½ miles west by compass, over very good downs, with a skirt of scrub on our right, and the river trees visible a long way on our left. I now turned. W.S.W. by compass, for the sake of getting water, and came upon, not the Stawell, {Page 143} but a river coming from the north-east. Thunder at night, and a little rain. Distance (direct) 16½ miles.

November 1.—Spelled at Camp 31. The grass is very good here, and as we have now abundance of water we spell here to-day; to-morrow we must make another try for the main range. Yesterday evening I hit the Stawell below the junction of this, which my men have called the Woolgar River. The Stawell now runs south-west, and is evidently a large contributor to the Barkly. There must, I think, be water somewhere near this, for we saw three ducks pass in the night, and the cockatoos are numerous. The bed of the Woolgar River I measured, 111 yards from the foot of one bank to the other.

Nov. 2.—Spelled.

Nov. 3.—Spelled. At 3 P.M. thermometer 97°. Spring found down the river, latitude 20° 16'. Cool night.

Nov. 4.—Still at Camp 31. Men all day in vain searching for tracks of lost mare. Saw large pools of permanent water in the Stawell.

Nov. 5.—Started an advance party N.N.W., and did not get away in pursuit of it till afternoon, and so missed it. It was dusk when we reached a tributary of the Stawell; Mr. Haughton had not, however, stopped here, and, as we could no more see the tracks, we searched for a spot to dig for water, as he had all the water-bags with him. The place we tried gave every symptom, but nothing beyond mud. There was no help for it, so having tied up the horses we tried to sleep. The night was quite cold. Distance (out camp), 18 miles.

Nov. 6.—Reached Camp 32, and stopped remainder of day. Mr. Haughton had got water in another tributary by digging. Some blacks had been encountered near the camp, who had attacked Paddy and Rodney, who were looking for water; one was killed by a shot from Paddy. Thermometer 104° in the shade at 3 P.M., but a cool breeze from south-west. Distance (from Camp 31), 26 miles.

Nov. 7.—Went N.N.W. by compass, over a tableland of red sandstone, after having crossed some downs near Patience Creek. I observed that rain had fallen not long ago, and the grass was green; but it made me feel very grateful when I found a small creek with abundance of good water, and fine feed for the horses. Barometer 29.11. Distance, 11 miles.

Nov. 8.—Notwithstanding the great heat, we managed to do 16 miles N.N.W. and 3 W. by N. down a creek, but no water. At first we tried to dig where we camped, but as the water came too slow, went half a mile further down, and there found a spring, which, being dug out, made a capital water-hole. Very good burnt grass {Page 144} here. Is this not a tributary of the Flinders? Ground very heavy all day. Aneroid 29.25. Distance, 19 miles.

Nov. 9.—So great was the heat and so heavy the ground, that the horses were much distressed, and it was a great comfort to find some bulrushes, good springs of water, and grass, at the end of 10 miles. Our course has been, on an average, 32° N. of W., and we had crossed over to a large creek still running W.N.W.

Nov. 10.—Great delay in collecting the horses, and did not start until 10; the consequence was, that the heat and heavy ground, the latter worse than ever, nearly brought us to a standstill. My course for first 2½ hours was N.W. by compass. I then turned 32° N. of W., when I reached a large river, with a fine pool of water 6 feet in depth. Short as the day's stage was, we were obliged to camp. (No. 36.) Distance, 10½ miles.

Nov. 11—Started early down the river, and reached another fine pool 14 feet deep, before the heat of the day. The ground is also harder. An anabranch turned me N.W. by compass, and hit the river again about 9 miles beyond. If the ground opens, instead of being the brushy sandy country we have encountered hitherto on these waters, I intend taking advantage of the moonlight nights. Distance, 24 miles.

Nov. 12.—Ground dreadfully heavy all day. This day, I find from Mr. Haughton's report, as well as my own experience, has knocked our horses out of time altogether, so I must spell here a couple of days. Distance, 15 miles.

Nov. 13.—Spelled. The thermometer at 109° at 5 P.M. in the shade; aneroid as high as 29.51.

Nov. 14.—Spelled. Upon looking at the horses, no one would suppose they were so completely done up, for none are in bad condition; but the dreadfully heavy ground, with the heat, brings them to a stand-still at the end of 8 miles. This is a melancholy, good-for-nothing country. Aneroid, 29.50. What does this mean; for the sky is very clear, and there is a cool breeze? The nights are still delightfully cool. There are flocks of bronze-winged pigeons at this hole. Thermometer at 3 P.M., 103° in shade; at sundown, 91°; Friday morning at daybreak, 61°.

Nov. 15.—We started at 5.30 P.M., and had a pleasant ride at first over hard ground W. by S. 10°, and then W.N.W.; this brought me to a pool of water, and I camped, for although we have a splendid moon the brush is too thick to travel by night. Distance, 7 miles.

Nov. 16.—To-day reached what I supposed to be the real river, the last two camps having been, as I suspected, on an anabranch. The river turned us 32° N. of W. by compass; then a course of W.S.W. brought us to a pool where it was deemed prudent to camp. {Page 145} Aneroid, 29.64; thermometer at 2 P.M., 105° in shade. Distance, 8 miles.

Nov. 17.—To-day has been more encouraging; we got an early start, and passed W. by N. over ground which was rapidly improving and getting more sound. I now turned W. by S., and was delighted to see some box-trees. The ground now is quite hard along what I take to be an anabranch; this turned us W.N.W. first, and then 6° S. of W., till the watercourse was no longer visible; still keeping the same course we crossed over to another branch. This is still too small for the main river, but my men are inclined to think it is so notwithstanding. If so, this is not the Flinders, but merely a tributary; it now turned W.N.W. and then N.N.W., which brought us to a small pool of temporary water, at which we camped. As we had a gentle breeze blowing from the gulf, the day was not unpleasantly hot. At this camp (41) is a remarkable oval ring, planted all round with tall thin saplings placed about a foot apart; none of my men understand the meaning of it. Distance, 20 miles.

Nov. 18.—Managed to make camp before the heat of the day, when we found a pool of water, and as Jingle could find none within two or three miles lower, we camped. The morning was made pleasant by the cool breeze from north-west. The river to-day has averaged a course of 48° W. of N. by compass; it has a better defined channel, and we passed one lagoon only just dried up; after all it is a mere apology for a river. The ground still continues hard, and is nearly all closed with spinifex; Jingle saw large plains when looking for water lower clown; thermometer at 3 P.M., 104°; aneroid, 29.82. The pigeons, both at the last camp and at this, have been in large flocks; I was unwilling to expend powder, of which I have only three canisters left, but as I thought a change of diet beneficial, I allowed the men to shoot at this camp, and the result was we had twenty-seven pigeons. Distance, 12 miles.

Nov. 19.—Fell in to-day with some gins, who could give no information of white men, but gave us the pleasing intelligence that henceforth there was plenty of water. The country to-day is much more open, but there were no plains. Aneroid, 29.83; thermometer at 3 P.M., 103° in shade. The river is more respectable; it was joined by a creek from south-east 4 miles below Camp 42, where is an excellent pool with fish, and good burnt feed. Distance, 19½ miles.

Nov. 20.—For the first 6 miles travelled 30° W, of N. by compass; then N.N.W. for 2 miles, when we crossed the river, having to-day been on the right bank. It now for 1 mile kept the same course, N.N.W., and a plain extended along the south bank; but now it turned north by east for 3 miles, and then N.N.E. for 1 mile, {Page 146} when we came to a deep permanent water-hole, and five blacks with gins and children at it. A friendly intercourse was established, and I gave 'them some tomahawks. They were subsequently joined by ten or twelve more men. We camped here: the blacks on one side of the water, we on the other. As this north-east turn of the river was perplexing, an endeavour was made to ascertain which way it now went. The blacks made us understand clearly enough that this river now ran N.W. by N. by compass; we understood, but not so clearly, that it joined another running more to the westward. They told us to follow this watercourse, and we should at short intervals find plenty of holes like this one. Large plains lay to the north-west, and, strange to say, they used for this the word "coonical," the same as Weerageree and Coreen Jemmy's language. They said we must avoid going west, as the country was no good, like what we had seen if we came down this river. They had heard of no white fellows being to the N.W. or W.N.W. I now suspect that what Mr. Gregory called the eastern end of the Gilbert, is the real Flinders; and this I believe to be the tributary. The country is now good, but a large proportion is subject to inundation. It is a great relief to have done with the heavy sandy country—with spinifex and brush of melaleuca, and other rubbish. Aneroid, 29.85; thermometer, at 2.30, 108° in the shade. The north-west breeze was cool this morning, but after 12 it now and then brought a hot blast from off the plains, which are visible from the back of this camp (No. 44). Distance, 13 miles.

Nov. 21. I went the course directed by the blacks, N.W. by N., but as this brought me, after passing the flooded plains, to heavy sand, I turned off north, and found a chain of good water-holes in the river, with good grass, and there camped. My men got a few fish here, about half a pound weight each. Thermometer in shade, 108° at 3 P.M.; aneroid, 29.84. Distance, 9½ miles.

Nov. 22.—To-day I followed the course of the river, merely cutting off the bends. Great doubts are entertained as to what river this is, for if it is the Flinders, I am 20 miles out in my longitude, and the way the blacks point, it ought to take me by my map to the camp of 11th of September of Gregory; but how this can be is a puzzle, considering the width of the inundations and the abundance of permanent water. How does this correspond with Gregory's dry irregular channels? Camped at one of the finest sheets of water I have seen for many a day. Our latitude, both by observation and dead reckoning, is 18° 18', and this corresponds with Gregory's 11th September camp, and so does my longitude. Distance, 17 miles.

Nov. 23.—We went the first hour north-west, and then north of west brought us round the end of a magnificent reach of water to some small pools to camp. In the afternoon I rode out to reconnoitre. {Page 147} I saw the river was now going a little east of north, and was again in long reaches. I struck out to the west, and came on some box-flats, and on my return to camp passed a lagoon, which I had no doubt was that which Gregory passed on his way from 10th September camp to that of 11th September. My map is right after all, and this I suppose is the river marked on the maps as Bynoe. Distance uncertain.

Nov. 24.—I went out a little to the N. of W. by N., and camped on the creek on which Gregory camped 10th September. Distance, 5 miles.

Nov. 25.—This eventful day, on a course W. by S. 5°, by compass, brought us to the Flinders River. We found it a beautiful large river, with high banks, and a delicious cool breeze blowing up it. We got a good many ducks, which were very acceptable, for our meat was finished yesterday. At this camp, latitude 18° 7', were found the well-defined trail of either three or four camels, and one horse: they had come down the Flinders. This night we had a tremendous thunder-storm; the first heavy rain we have had since starting from Bauhinian Downs. Distance, 16 miles.

Nov. 26.—I had to go up the river 8 miles before I could get a crossing-place, and last night's rain had made the ground so heavy that the horses were much distressed. I therefore camped as soon as we had crossed. This morning Jemmy Cargara, in collecting the horses, found Burke's trail returning across the plain, and going S.S.E. Grateful Creek, at Camp 33, and the three large creeks crossed upon leaving it, are evidently the heads of the Flinders, but the southerly trend which the main one took caused me to cross it. The tableland is therefore the dividing range. Distance, 8½ miles.

Nov. 27.—We went west by compass, crossing Gregory's 8th September creek half-way. We have had plains all day, but I can see low sandstone ranges not far on our left. Night oppressive. Aneroid fell to 29.96 from 29.84. Distance, 18 miles.

Nov. 28.—Started W. by N. At first we passed over plains so full of holes as to be distressing to the horses, who were constantly stumbling. We now crossed a creek with deep holes, but now dry. Higher up, where I saw many calares and a clump of trees, I think there is water. We now began to rise, and crossed over a spur of red sandstone ranges. Crossed two dry channels, then a ridge of good downs, and finally reached one head of Morning Inlet, and camped on some lagoons. This is very good pastoral country, but I fear too hot for sheep. There is much thunder hanging about, and some storms appear to have again fallen on the Flinders, but none have reached us. A cool N.N.W. breeze rendered the afternoon very pleasant, but the forenoon was very oppressive. The {Page 148} immense plains which stretch away to the north and north-west, I suppose are the same mentioned by Captain Stokes. Sent a rocket up at night. Distance, 15 miles.

Nov. 29.—Expected a storm, but it passed over. Reached the main head of Morning Inlet, on a course west by north. After rising from the creek at last camp, we rode over red sandstone all day until we descended to box-flats, near the main creek: the first part box-trees, broad-leaved and good grass; and the latter portion melaleuca, nearly no grass, and with innumerable cones, some 6 feet high, made by the ants. On the banks of Morning Inlet was again, where the sandstone abutted on the creek, the hateful spinifex grass. The plains are visible north of this camp (53). Cool breeze from north-west. Night very oppressive and sultry. Mosquitoes triumphant. Distance, 9 miles.

Nov. 30.—After having crossed, not far from camp, three creeks, or branches of a creek, we cleared the sandstone, and rode across a fine plain, with a small creek in the centre, and found on the west side a large creek, with two anabranches, and a fine lagoon. We now crossed a sandstone ridge, with good grass and box-trees, and reached a plain, on leaving which we had to pass over downs and stony plains, of an excellent description for pastoral purposes, to a hole in a good downs creek. I was very glad to water the horses. Another mile brought me to where Mr. Macalister had judiciously decided on camping on a creek evidently flowing into the Leichhardt, which cannot be much more than 2 miles ahead of us; indeed, I think I can see the trees of it. Distance, 17 miles.

December 1.—To-day has been an annoying day. I first went W. by N. to some sandstone cliffs, descended from them W.S.W. to a saltwater creek, which we had to run up E.S.E. for nearly 4 miles, and the last corner took us east to complete the 4 miles, so that we have come back parallel to our course. We now found some small holes of fresh water; having crossed this, we went W. by N. and W.N.W., when we at last got to the Leichhardt River—the water as salt as brine. We ran it up S.S.E. by compass for 8 miles, passed by a black fishing at what looked like a ford, just above the junction with a creek, which I take to be that of Gregory's camp, 3rd September. The black never saw us. There was now a good crossing place, but as Jingle signalized there was fresh water in a creek at the back of a plain close at hand, I went to it and camped. My men shot two ducks in the river, and a couple of blacks were watching them a little lower down the river. After dinner, or a make-shift for one, my men went over towards the river in hopes of getting some ducks; but as they were crossing the plain they saw two mobs of blacks approaching. As their {Page 149} appearance looked hostile, they returned to camp. Presently it was reported that they were stretching out in a half moon, in three parties. This move, which my men term "stockyarding," is peculiar to blacks throwing spears with a woomera, the object being to concentrate a shower of spears. It was one long familiar to me, and I charged their left wing. The result was that the circular line doubled up, the blacks turned and fled. Their right wing, which was the strongest, got over the river and were off; but the centre and left wing suffered a heavy loss. Distance uncertain.

Dec. 2.—Rodney found in a black's camp a sailor's jumper and an empty cognac bottle. The men (black) have all gone to the river to shoot ducks, for I cannot cross over until low water, which will be about 2 P.M. After crossing I made for Gregory's Creek, of 3rd September, and there camped, reaching it in four hours. Distance not given.

Dec. 3.—Went W.N.W. to the Albert River; found plenty of grass and the water fresh, but with a suspicion of salt; more decided when the tide rose. We had crossed an alternate succession of plains and flooded, box-flats with small watercourses. Gun heard down the river at 8.7 P.M. Distance, 22 miles.

[It now appeared that Camp 57 was 8 miles only from Victoria Depôt, but having started to reconnoitre with a single attendant, Mr. Walker fell in with hostile natives, from whom he narrowly escaped, and had to camp out. The second in command had meanwhile been ordered to camp higher up, as it was not known the night before that the depôt was so near. Next morning, 5th December, they arrived safe at camp.—Ed.]

Dec. 5.—Mr. Macalister had found Gregory's marked tree, and also a bottle under ground, near a tree, marked by Captain Norman, with directions to dig. The bottle contained a note, stating the depôt of the Victoria was about 12 miles lower down on the left bank. We now having saddled up, went up the creek until we could cross it, just above where I had slept last night. We then went N.W. by W. to Beame's Brook. Some delay took place, owing to the creek being boggy, and I was glad to camp as soon as we had crossed, for I was unwell from yesterday's anxiety and fatigue; and as Captain Norman's note is dated 29th November, there is now good hope of our meeting to-morrow. [Distance uncertain.]

Dec. 6.—Proceeded E.N.E., but had to camp, in order to make all safe for a storm. Night dismal, but the sound of a cannon within two or three miles was a comfort, and produced loud cheers. Distance, 16 miles. {Page 150}

Dec. 7.—In 2 miles, through a pelting hurricane of rain, reached the depôt, and I had the pleasure of shaking hands with Captain Norman.

Frederick Walker,
Leader of the Expedition.*




[* This paper completes the narrative of the various expeditions despatched in search of Messrs. Burke and Wills; Mr. Howitt's expedition, which rescued King, as published in Vol. xxxii. of the Society's Journal, p. 430, having for the most part traversed ground so well known as to render it unnecessary to reproduce it in extenso.—Ed.]









Map 1: Walker and Landsborough's Routes.

National Library of Australia Map rm1086-sd-cd.

Click on the map to enlarge it.





Map 1a: Enlargement of the S.E. corner of Map 1.

Click on the map to enlarge it.






7. "Ladies' Leichhardt Search Expedition"

7.1 McIntyre's Search Expedition, 1865-6


{Page 300}

ADDITIONAL NOTICES.


(Printed by order of Council.)


1. Mr. D. Mclntyre's Journey across Australia, from Victoria to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and discovery of supposed traces of Leichhardt.

(Communicated by Dr. F. Mueller of Melbourne.)

Dr. F. Mueller has forwarded to us various documents relating to the journey of Mr. Duncan McIntyre across Australia, the result of which has been the revival of projects for the search of Leichhardt and his party, in which Dr. Mueller is taking a very active part. The movement set on foot by Dr. Mueller has been already mentioned in the President's Anniversary Address ('Proceedings,' vol. ix, p. 231).

A writer in the 'Riverine Herald,' who has had access to the journals of Mr. {Page 301} McIntyre, gives the following outline of his proceedings:—Mr. D. McIntyre and his brother left Victoria about two years since, with sheep, cattle, and horses, and a splendid outfit, intending to proceed to the Gulf of Carpentaria. On their arrival on the banks of the Darling, they found the river flooded, and were unable to cross with their sheep. Mr. Duncan McIntyre then proceeded northwards with a small party, in the endeavour to find a good route to Cooper's Creek. In his first journey thither he reached the waters, discovering several new creeks and lakes on the road, and ascertained that no difficulty existed in taking stock to that point. But on his return he learned, to his great disappointment, that the Queensland Government had forbidden the entrance of stock to their colony, either by land or sea, from any of the other Australian colonies. Finding, therefore, that they could not proceed towards the north, the party commenced explorations of the country lying between the Darling and the boundary of Queensland. Excellent country was found to the westward of the Paroo, but no permanent water; and so greatly was the party inconvenienced by the want of water, that they were obliged to advance to the Queensland Rivers before they could commence their return. On this journey better country was found, some distance within the Queensland frontier, than had been seen on the former trip. Pine rivers and lakes were discovered, and an application was made to the Queensland Government for permission to pass their boundary.

In the hope that this request would be eventually granted, Mr. Duncan McIntyre, accompanied by Mr. Barnett, and taking with him three natives and 25 horses, again proceeded towards the north, with the view of ascertaining whether the Gulf country was superior to what he had already seen. The party started with only a small quantity of flour, rice, tea, and sugar, as provisions, and did not take with them an ounce of meat. They had a good supply of ammunition, expecting to find large numbers of ducks and eggs on the route, as the season had been very favourable for this description of game to the eastward. None of them, however, were met with, as there had been no rain at all north of Cooper's Creek; but the country was found to abound with opossums, kangaroos, and emus. The last mentioned were in flocks of hundreds in the neighbourhood of Cooper's Creek. A good many bandicoots were also met with, and were found to be excellent eating. Wild turkeys were seen everywhere, but were especially numerous in the neighbourhood of the Gulf. Pigeons, too, were found in thousands; altogether the party fared well on the game shot by them, and had no reason to regret not having brought a supply of meat. Fish, also, were caught in large numbers in all the creeks, the party frequently taking more than could be eaten, The tracks of a large animal of the kangaroo tribe, called by the natives Wongaroo, were frequently seen, and a few of the animals themselves; but they did not come within shooting-distance. They are much larger than the kangaroo, and it was calculated they would sometimes weigh 4 or 5 cwts.; some of them were jet black, others brown with dark spots; they are less swift than the kangaroo, but jump perpendicularly from one rock to another, often to the height of 8 or 10 feet. They ascend a mountain at a rate at which neither man nor dog can follow them. A variety of new birds were seen, and Mr. Barnett collected a large number of seeds. Mr. McIntyre speaks in high terms of praise of his companion, who, although quite a young man, and previously inexperienced in the bush, showed a surprising aptitude for the work of exploring. It is known from Wills' diary that Burke once killed a snake on his journey across the continent, but no others were mentioned by him; and Landsborough said he believed there were very few reptiles in the Gulf country. Mr. McIntyre, however, states that he killed from five to ten daily, in the tropical portion of his journey, and sometimes two or three were found together. Many of them were declared to be venomous by Mr. Barnett, who {Page 302} made a large collection of skins. The natives of the party used the snakes that were killed as food, and it was quite common to see them ride into camp in the evening with a roll of some six or eight tied to their saddles.

The party left Dargonelly, River Paroo, on this expedition, on the 21st of June, 1864, and reached Cooper's Creek twenty-two days afterwards. They crossed the creek about 50 miles below the junction of the Thompson. The course then taken was in the direction of the new settlement in Northern Australia, with a view of discovering how far a route for stock would be practicable in that direction. This course was continued until Burke's track was crossed, and so far no difficulty in conveying stock was met with. The course was then changed for the head-waters of the Albert River. In crossing the Northern Coast Range, described by Burke as giving such terrible work to the camels that they groaned and bled, the horses' feet got so much worn down by the rocks and stones, that it became necessary to follow a fall of water to the north, and afterwards to the north-east, in order to get down to the low country. The Flinders was struck on the 18th of August, a little south of Donor's Hills, and the river followed from that point to the sea; the journey from Cooper's Creek to the sea having occupied thirty-four days, being a little more than half the time taken by either Burke or McKinlay. Mr. McIntyre states that he was within a mile of the coast, but having got in between two deep salt mangrove creeks, he was hemmed in by a large number of blacks whom he was obliged to charge at, in order to get out. He happily succeeded in scaring them so much, that he had no occasion to fire on them; but he was deprived by the circumstance of getting sight of the ocean, which he could have done only by showing fight, and shooting a number of them. He considered, however, that this gratification would have been too dearly bought with such a sacrifice of human life. On several occasions during the journey across, large numbers of natives were met with, and once an exchange was made with them for fish, some hawks shot by the party being given in exchange. Neither in the coast-range, nor on the journey out and back, was a single native shot Once or twice an encounter seemed inevitable, but, by showing a firm front, and seeming to disregard their presence, the necessity was avoided.

The country to the north-west of the point where Cooper's Creek was crossed was very indifferent for a day or two, and waterless. It gradually got better on reaching a water-system in which four new rivers were found, the first of which was named by Mr. McIntyre the Docker. It then improved daily, and splendid sheep-country was crossed in that part where the Stony Desert of Sturt is laid down. The ground in places was, however, covered with fragments of stones, and in some places "paved", as described by Sturt, for a few miles. On the whole it was found to be a good grazing country, and Mr. McIntyre considers that it is particularly well adapted for sheep. A hundred miles or so to the south of the tropic, the country assumes a high, undulating character. The stones had for some distance previously entirely disappeared, and the party now found themselves on beautiful smooth downs. The country was magnificent the whole way from this to the coast-range. Bald hills were met with at intervals, and at short distances five gum-lined creeks were crossed, in some of which there was an abundance of excellent water; but, owing to the dryness of the season, none of them were found running, as they were by Burke. In crossing the coast-range, great difficulty was experienced both on the south and north side in obtaining water, which was only to be met with in the gorges in rocky basins. Nearly a week was occupied in getting over this formidable barrier, and the horses suffered dreadfully from want of feed, having sometimes to stand on perfectly bare rocks for the whole night. In returning, the dividing range was crossed without much difficulty, the heights between the two fells of water, north and south, consisting only of high undulating downs without any stones. No mountains or lulls were visible to {Page 303} the west, but some lofty peaks were seen at a great distance to the east. In fact, from the Gulf to the banks of the Darling at Mount Murchison, a splendid road could be made, along which a buggy might be driven without a single impediment. A railway might be run across at a very light expense, there being no engineering difficulties in the way, with the exception of crossing the rivers. The route also is the most direct from Mount Murchison to the Gulf. The Flinders is now peopled by squatters from its head to within 280 miles of the sea. One station, however, is even 130 miles lower down. From what could be learned of the squatters they had lost about 30 per cent, of their sheep from the poison-bush, in coming over the ranges from Queensland. The sheep generally looked healthy but poor, although there was plenty of grass. Great losses had occurred also among the cattle from the poison-bush of the mountains, and at least 50 per cent, had been lost from pleuro-pneumonia. A very large percentage of horses had died from snake-bites. The average lambing on the Flinders was not expected to be more than 15 per cent. From the description of the Flinders given by Mr. Landsborough, it would be inferred that it was a finely-watered river. He states that, when he left it, it was 120 yards wide, with a stream flowing along its bed. Twenty miles from the sea, Mr. McIntyre crossed it dry; higher up, it was often dry for 10 miles at a stretch, and the general width was found to be from 30 to 40 yards. The party called at the Bowen Downs Station, at the head of the Thompson. The cattle there were all clean and in splendid condition, notwithstanding the dryness of the season. From that point to Cooper's Creek the country was well watered, but unstocked. The whole of the country between the Darling and Cooper's Creek has been minutely examined by Mr. McIntyre, who states that, even in the driest season, the route is perfectly practicable for stock, there being three permanent rivers between the Paroo and Cooper's Creek. A journal and field-book, on an excellent system, were kept throughout the journey; and the position of all the rivers and important points ascertained by astronomical observations, and the magnetic variations carefully notched. Not a single shower of rain fell during the trip across to the Gulf and back.

With regard to the supposed traces of Leichhardt discovered by Mr. McIntyre, these consist of certain marked trees in the neighbourhood of the Gulf of Carpentaria, and two old strayed horses, which the traveller brought back with him. The trees were each marked with a single L, cut evidently by a skilled hand. One of the letters was cut in the bark, and was 32 inches long, by about 12 inches in width. The other was marked deeply in the wood, the bark having been removed for the purpose. This latter was 5½ inches long, and cut evidently with an inch-and-a-half tomahawk. These marked trees were close together, showing that a camp had been established between them, and unquestionably during a dry season, as they stand on flooded ground. As to the horses found by Mr. McIntyre, it is remarked that no horses have ever been lost, in the neighbourhood of the locality in which they were found, by any known explorer. Both of them were old horses. Mr. McIntyre says that he had horses in his troop fifteen or sixteen years of age, which performed the whole journey well, while those picked up by him were knocked up in a very short time. This is advanced as a proof of their being of great age, for, when found, they were "rolling fat". There were illegible brands on both of them, and there was a blotched brand on the same part of the back of each. One of them was a bay, and the other a black.

Further details of these discoveries of Mr. McIntyre were given in a letter to the Editor of the 'Age' by Dr. D. Wilkie and Dr. F. Mueller; the most important were as follow:—

"On a new principal tributary of the Flinders River, Mr. McIntyre passed to the main stream of the Flinders, observing in about 20° 40' S., and about one degree westward of Burke and Wills' track, two old horses, an event to {Page 304} which too much importance cannot be attached, when it is remembered that neither the Victorian explorers, nor Landsborough, nor A. Gregory, nor Leichhardt, in his first glorious expedition, abandoned any horses in any adjacent locality, Mr. Walker's horses being left about 300 miles to the east. A still more important discovery rewarded Mr. McIntyre's exertions after having reached, on the Flinders line, the Gulf of Carpentaria; for, on his return journey, whilst following up the main east branch of the Flinders River, he noticed on its western bank, in approximate latitude 20° S., two trees, each bearing a large L, no number attached, marking, as we with McIntyre feel convinced, a Leichhardtian camp. These L's are clearly distinct from any marks of Landsborough's camps, who in that latitude kept to the eastern bank of the Flinders, and who, moreover, attached a consecutive number to his marked camp-trees. If further proofs of distinction were wanting, we might add that the bark had encroached to the extent of four or five inches on the incision of the letters, whereby a much greater age is established than that of Landsborough's camps; and still further, we have the evidence of one of the natives who served in both Landsborough's and McIntyre's expeditions, who declares that the camp did not belong to the expedition of Landsborough. The position of these momentous trees being in flooded ground, it would have been vain to search for further camp traces."

An account of the agitation, set on foot at Melbourne, for a new expedition in search of Leichhardt, or further traces of him, is given in the following extracts of letters from Dr. Mueller to Sir Roderick Murchison. The first letter is dated 24th January, 1865. "By the enclosed documents you will perceive that the account of Leichhardt's massacre on the Baroo is entirely disproved by Mr. McIntyre's expedition. As a fellow-labourer with Leichhardt in the field of the Natural Sciences in this country, I feel I owe it to him not to cease in my exertions for the revelation of his fate, especially now that our knowledge of his movements has passed into a new phasis. Within a few days I contemplate lecturing publicly on the subject, to endeavour to arouse sympathy for the forsaken travellers, and to call upon the ladies of all Australia to gather the means of sending forth a new searching party. What a triumph if the Ladies' Expedition should disclose Leichhardt's fate! If you would extend your sympathy to the poor forsaken men, your weight of authority would exercise a most favourable influence on the new enterprise, which, even if it fail to solve the Leichhardt mystery, would not fail to reveal many an interesting feature of the Australian interior." On the 24th of February Dr. Mueller again writes;—"It was a bold step on my part to call forth a Ladies' Committee, as we have no precedent for such an organization; but it has proved successful, and I believe that in future we may rely upon the ladies for assisting in many other philanthropic objects in a similar manner. Should a spirited leader be found for the expedition, and a sufficient fund, I have no doubt that the enterprise will be afterwards carried on by successive private contributions and occasional Government subsidies, until Leichhardt's fate is fully known, and therewith the greater part of the yet unknown western interior explored."

The last communication from Dr. Mueller, dated the 22nd of April last, announces the successful progress of his scheme. He says, "The Leichhardt movement is fully secure; it is merely a question whether the Ladies' Search Expedition takes the field six months earlier or later. The 'Brisbane Courier' says, 'Never can we allow the Victorian ladies to do this work of charity and humanity alone; Leichhardt dead or Leichhardt alive, we have no business to remain for seventeen years in uncertainty about it! The ladies have written to Her Majesty, the Princess of Wales, and the Empress of France, and I have advised them to address also the Princess Royal of Prussia. Although the 3000l. for the first two years' search will be unquestionably gathered—if not {Page 305} here alone, at least by the aid of the generous and wealthy of the globe—it may be found necessary to have the search continued for several years more. Under any circumstances the Ladies' Expedition is likely to accomplish what Leichhardt intended, namely, to open up the great western half of the continent, an object, next to the exploration of Central Africa, the most important in the whole domain of Geography. If once the Ladies' Expedition is fairly started, and despatches of interest and hope are received, it will then need only about 300l. annually from each of the Governments of South-Eastern Australia to maintain it in the field."

The following letter from Mr. Edward Wilson, of the 'Melbourne Argus,' to Sir Roderick Murchison, relates to the same subject:—

"Dear Sir,

"You showed such an intelligent interest in our friend Mueller's new movement in search of the unfortunate Leichhardt, that I think it right to forward you a passage from his last letter, and also an article from the recent Melbourne papers.

"Although I am well aware of the difficulty you point out of arousing effective assistance in such a case, this seems a very peculiar one, and presents features which really deserve the attention of your great Society.

"Although these poor men have been lost for seventeen years, the annals of Australian discovery present remarkable instances, which should prevent us from looking upon any enterprise in searching for them as hopeless. You will remember the astonishing case of Buckley, who was found by the first settlers at Melbourne, after thirty-three years' residence among the blacks, and that case of the sailor Morrill, discovered in Moreton Bay after a residence amongst the blacks of twenty years. A very possible condition of affairs is that which would ensue from the death of Leichhardt,—himself dead, no one else of the party capable of conducting the expedition, and the survivors or some of them being still amongst the blacks. In any event the contingency pointed out by Dr. Mueller seems very probable that this research, if properly supported, will open out the western portion of the interior of the continent.

"Permit me to say. Sir, that the functions of your valuable Society seem scarcely to exhaust themselves in the reception of great discoveries and the publication and recording of them, and that a very large amount of sympathy must always be felt for those who fail indeed in these gigantic enterprises, but more still for those of whose fate we are left in doubt.

"The vast prestige attaching to your Society, and to the formation of which you have yourself so greatly contributed, would render any amount of recognition upon its part of immense value to an enterprise of this kind, even if no pecuniary assistance could be rendered; and as it seems likely that this scheme may grow into a sustained and prolonged effort, it is very important that we should give it all the influence that we can secure for it, from whatever source.

"I am, dear Sir, yours faithfully,

"Edw. Wilson.   

"To Sir R. Murchison,

         "President of the Royal Geographical Society."




7.2 Extracts from Other McIntyre Documents


{Page 58}

ADDITIONAL NOTICES.


(Printed by order of Council.)


1. Leichhardt Search Expedition. Extracts from Documents transmitted to the Society by the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

In vol. ix. of the 'Proceedings,' page 300, an account was given of the recent discovery of traces of the lost traveller Leichhardt, and of the movement which was, in consequence, set on foot in Melbourne by Dr. Mueller for an expedition in search of further remains of his party. The following communication has since been received on this subject from Sir George Bowen, Governor of Queensland:—


{Page 59}
"Government House, Brisbane, Queensland,
8th August, 1865.

"Sir,

"I have the honour to report that the Queensland Parliament has voted 1000l. in aid of an expedition in search of the long-lost German explorer Dr. Leichhardt; that the Parliaments of Victoria and South Australia, following the example of Queensland, have voted each 500l. for the same object; that private contributions to the amount of about 1500l. have also been collected in Australia (chiefly in Victoria and Queensland), and that the sums realised from these various sources being sufficient to maintain the proposed expedition during two years, it has started on its journey.

"I may probably be expected to recapitulate briefly the salient points of this case. Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt, a native of Prussia, studied medicine and natural science at the University of Berlin. He emigrated to Australia in 1842, while still a very young man, and soon distinguished himself by his valuable botanical and mineralogical researches and collections in various parts of the interior, and especially in the districts now forming the colony of Queensland. In 1844 he undertook the leadership of an expedition which was equipped for the purpose of discovering an overland route between Moreton Bay on the eastern and Port Essington on the northern coasts. The Imperial Government at that period maintained a post (since abandoned) at Port Essington; and Leichhardt reached it after a journey of fifteen months, during which his party traversed upwards of 3000 miles of country, which, for the most part, had been previously unexplored. They returned to Sydney by sea, and were received with public manifestations of joy, as it had been supposed that they had all perished. Rewards were voted to Leichhardt and his comrades by the Colonial Legislature; and, after some delay and one unsuccessful start, another expedition was equipped, with which he determined to attempt to cross the Australian Continent from east to west—from Brisbane to Perth. Leichhardt started on his final expedition from Moreton Bay at the beginning of 1848, and the last account received from him was contained in a letter which he wrote in April of that year from the banks of the River Cogoon, in what is now the Maranoa district of Queensland. The mystery connected with his fate still remains to be cleared up after a lapse of 17 years. As it was understood that his journey would occupy at least two years, no special anxiety began to be felt for his safety until towards the close of 1851, when the Government of New South Wales sent out a party in search of him under the command of Mr. Hovenden Hely. Starting from Brisbane thus party proceeded to the Maranoa district, whence Leichhardt's last letter had been despatched. Mr. Hely was there informed by some natives that the white men, with their horses and cattle, had been all killed by the blacks at a point about 200 miles to the west of Mount Abundance.

"Mr. Hely's discouraging report received general credence for some time; but of late years discoveries have been made which tend to invalidate it. Mr. Augustus Gregory, in his expedition of 1858, found what are believed by many persons to be traces of Leichhardt's encampments on the river Barcoo, far to the north-west of the spot where he was said to have been massacred by the aborigines. Again, Mr. Frederick Walker, when searching in 1861 for Messrs. Burke and Wills, found traces still further to the north, near the junction of the rivers Alice and Barcoo. Lastly, a few months ago, Mr. Duncan M'Intyre, a pioneer squatter of Queensland, came upon trees marked with the initials of Leichhardt's name on the banks of the River Flinders, which flows into the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Mr. M'Intyre also found two aged horses in the same locality; and their discovery in close proximity to the marked trees is thought to render it probable that they belonged to Leichhardt's expedition. Here there were traces of the lost explorer more than {Page 60} 300 miles beyond the spot were he was reported to have fallen a victim to the hostility of the aborigines.

"Dr. Mueller, the Director of the Botanical Gardens at Melbourne, a friend and countryman of Dr. Leichhardt, has never ceased to urge the probability that the gallant leader, or some of his little band of explorers, may still be alive in some remote wilderness; and that a well-organised expedition might be the means of rescuing them from a long and dreadful exile among the savages of the interior. It will be recollected that in 1835, an Englishman, named Buckley, was restored to liberty and civilisation after a captivity of above 30 years among the native tribes which then roamed over the site of what is now the great city of Melbourne. Among several similar examples we may also mention the case of the shipwrecked sailor James Marrill, who, in 1863, was rescued by our frontier settlers after a captivity of 17 years among the blacks of Northern Queensland. Moreover, the question of a renewed search for the missing expedition was warmly taken up by Mr. Landsborough and by other distinguished Australian explorers, and by several leading members of the medical profession (to which Dr. Leichhardt had belonged), who lately published an earnest appeal in his behalf.

"Dr. Mueller further conceived the idea of enlisting in this cause the sympathies, more especially, of the ladies of Australia. He succeeded in forming at Melbourne a committee of ladies, who undertook to collect subscriptions, and to press the question on the favourable consideration of the Governments and Parliaments of the several colonies. They addressed an earnest appeal to Lady Bowen to procure the aid of the ladies of Queensland, on the ground that this colony owes most to Dr. Leichhardt, having, been to a large extent explored by him. In compliance with this appeal, Lady Bowen convened at Brisbane a public meeting of the ladies of Queensland, and the leading gentlemen of all parties attended. The President of the Legislative Council (Colonel O'Connell) occupied the chair, and made an eloquent and interesting speech, which will well repay perusal. I transmit a copy of the proceedings, as reported in the local journals, and also of the letter of the Victorian Ladies' Committee, tendering their acknowledgments for Lady Bowen's assistance. Her social influence and that of the other principal ladies of Queensland has since been exercised so successfully that the Colonial Parliament (as I have already said) has voted a liberal grant in aid.

"It need scarcely be added, however, without detracting from the merits of these ladies, that the shrewd, practical men who form the Government and Parliament of Queensland would not have sanctioned any expenditure of public money in a fit of enthusiasm, or without the certainty of tangible results. As the scene of the operations of the new "Leichhardt Search Expedition" will be principally within the bounds of this colony, it is felt that, whatever may be the success of the expedition in other respects, it cannot fail to add largely to our knowledge of the remoter portions of our territory, and so to assist materially in the development of our resources in various ways, and to an extent which will be cheaply purchased by a contribution of 1000l. from the public funds.

"Mr. Duncan M'Intyre has himself undertaken the leadership of the expedition, which set out from Victoria a few weeks ago, and is to be finally organised in Queensland during the present month. It will consist of from 8 to 12 carefully-selected "bushmen", with 14 camels, and about 40 horses. Supplies of all kinds will be provided for a consumption of two years. The expedition will proceed in the first instance to the spot on the banks of the Flinders, where the last traces of Leichhardt were observed by Mr. M'Intyre. Thence It will continue the search towards the interior of the Australian Continent in whatever direction the discovery of further traces, or information derived from the aborigines, may seem to render most advisable. {Page 61}

"Now that this enterprise has been actually started, no effort will be wanting on my part, or that of the Government, to afford it assistance. The explorers will be able to procure from time to time fresh supplies at Burketown, the new settlement recently established on my recommendation at the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

"G. F. Bowen."   

It may be seen by passages in the above communication, that the promoters of the Search Expedition believe other results will flow from the exploration, even should it fail in recovering any surviving member, or obtaining further traces of Leichhardt's party. Our geographical knowledge of the interior of the continent cannot fail to be greatly increased by an expedition so well-equipped, and commanded by so able a leader as Mr. Duncan M'Intyre. On this aspect of the question Dr. Mueller thus writes, in a letter dated July 21, 1865, to Sir Charles Darling, Governor of Victoria:—

"Independently of our fulfilling the dictates of gratitude and humanity, incalculable advantages for colonization, industry, and commerce would accrue from a further exploration of this great and solely British continent, over which, unhindered by the native population, the stream of settlement may spread. I see that the thousands perishing annually by cold and famine in overpopulated spots of the mother country, if brought to the unoccupied and everywhere salubrious Australian territory of the British Crown, might live in health and prosperity. I maintain that it has become a point of honour to the million and a half of civilised inhabitants, occupying as yet but little beyond the coast tracts of Australia, to throw open by exploration and by scientific research, for occupation, for industry, and for settled homes, the whole interior of this continent. I perceive that we cannot fix even the lines of the telegraph, which most advantageously are to unite us with the northern hemisphere, and indeed with the world, until we have withdrawn, as Leichhardt intended to have done, the veil from the still so extensively unknown interior. I cannot but contemplate, that of the real wealth of Australia in treasures of copper and gold we cannot form even an approximate estimate, until in many paths the space from coast to coast shall have been traversed."




7.3 McIntyre's Last Letter


{Page 42}

6. Last Letter of Mr. Duncan McIntyre, Leader of the Leichhardt Search Expedition, and an Account of his Death.

(Communicated by the Colonial Office.)

Subjoined is an extract from the last despatch of Mr. McIntyre to his uncle, D. Campbell, Esq., and also a despatch from the second in command:—

"Gregory River, 2nd May, 1866.   

"I wrote you about five weeks ago from the Gilliot River, sending a lot of accounts and other papers connected with the expedition. The dromedaries, horses, and men needed rest for a few weeks. I got another man, named McLeod, and two of the black boys Donald [McIntyre, the explorer's brother], brought over with the cattle and seven horses. On the 2nd April I started in search of further traces of Leichhardt, and also to call at the port to get some more rations.

"Nothing of any consequence happened during the first week. We passed over splendid country all the way, until we entered the watershed of the Leichhardt River; the country there became rough and stony. It took us nearly a week, going straight west, before we got to the main branch, which we crossed and kept west for one day more. The country then was all but impassable; our horses not being shod could not stand it, so we had to turn eastward again to the main channel of the Leichhardt, which we followed down in three days, when we reached the settled, districts, Kennedy and McDonald being the farthest out on the Leichhardt. We still kept the river imtil we passed the next station, 40 miles lower down; we then left it, and struck out north-west, and in about 50 miles arrived at T.G. McDonald's station on the Gregory. Here we were informed of the unhealthiness of the {Page 43}

climate, a man having died a few days before our arrival; his grave was quite close to the bit of a shed they called a hut. There being only two on the station, the survivor was unable to carry his unfortunate companion to any distance. We kept on down the river, and in due time arrived at what is called the township [Burketown] or port. The population was about sixty, forty-five or fifty being bad with the fever; in fact people were sick everywhere. I could not count ten able to do anything in the shape of work. I camped at a lagoon about a mile from the town [Burketown], thinking that I was away from all the sickness. There were two tents near us. Next morning one of the men in the tents was dead; and, on going up to the township to get the stores away, I was told two more had died that morning. I got my stores and started up here, 16 miles higher up. While putting them into order for packing on the horses, one of the black boys got the fever, and this morning McLeod has it. The black boy, I think, will get over it; but McLeod thinks it is all over with him. I am all ready, only waiting for the men to get well. I hope in a few days they will get better; it does not last long, in a week one is either in one's grave or well again.

"Before I came here there were about eighty in the town, sixty-six of whom were bad with fever. I am told that twenty-five are all that have died in the town, and they are making up coffins for two more, who are past recovery. I hope I shall get away all right; people are leaving by sea and land, as fast as they can. There are two stores; flour, tea, and sugar in abundance, but of very bad quality—the flour we can hardly eat, as it is quite sour; and there are two public-houses. The present site of the town is on a plain only a few feet above the level of the sea.

"Perhaps there is something unusual in the atmosphere this season; but the natives of the country appear to be all right.

"We have met with no positive trace of Leichhardt yet; but we have ascertained beyond a doubt that whites are now, or have been, among the blacks within the last ten years. There is a boy and a girl, from ten to twelve years of age, almost white, with light blue eyes and red hair; and in another tribe, a girl about fifteen years of age; and in another a full-grown woman, perhaps eighteen years of age; and there is a rumour of a white man being within a day's ride of this, among a strong tribe of about two hundred; they are very fierce; none of the settlers have come to any terms with them yet. They will come out on the open plain, and fight to the last. I have been after this supposed white man already. I was accompanied by the officer in charge of the native police here; he had two troopers with him, I had also a black boy. We saw between thirty and forty blacks; but there was no sign of white men among them. We had to make prisoners of them all before they would allow us to see them properly. In order to have an interpreter, we took a young fellow with us to the police camp. He is now quite at home; in three or four months he will be able to speak a little English, when, if not before, we shall learn all about how the half-castes came among the blacks.

"The blacks are now all collected near the sea-coast between the Albert and Leichhardt rivers, with the white man or half-caste among them. They are said to be well armed, and give chase to all the whites that approach there. This, of course, I do not believe.

"I know they are mostly very bold, and stout able fellows. One of them nearly took the carbine from the officer, when we were out the other day. They have no fear whatever of fire-arms. As soon an I can get away tomorrow, or next day, perhaps, I intend going to where the blacks are, and camp somewhere there, until I find out all about who the white man is, or whether he is only a half-caste; but I am sure there is something in it. However, I shall learn about it in a few days. I think the officer and native police will go with me, as there is only myself and one black boy able to do {Page 44} anything, and two are not enough to surround one hundred or more blacks, and disarm them, whereas five or six can do so without shooting any.

"We were camped for nearly two months among 600 blacks at Cooper's Creek. They were at times very troublesome, but we never had to shoot any, although they richly deserved it sometimes. We saw no blacks until we reached the tropics. We had no trouble with them. On this expedition we saw a good many, and traces of large tribes every day, especially at the head of the Leichhardt. We could get no information from any we saw, and had great trouble in getting near them; but once up to them they always considered themselves prisoners; I suppose from some custom among themselves. They are canibals here and all the way up the east coast. I have seen no positive proof of their eating one another, but they have the same habits as those that are further eastward. I have had no time to examine many camps yet; those which I have searched contained nothing but what all wild blacks have: no sign of iron or any metal in any shape. The head of the Leichhardt, and also the western branches of the Flinders River, are a great harbour for blacks. They contain so many mountain passes, that a few natives could defend them against a regiment of soldiers. Mountains perpendicular for 600 and 800 feet, in some places narrower above than below [the mountain passes]. Except in the beds of the watercourses the country is quite impassable for anything; but a man without boots or shoes might, like a black fellow, get up one ravine and down another.

"It requires one to be very cautious in travelling through a country of this description, to avoid being surprised by natives or having one's retreat cut off: one great advantage, however, [exists] in the abundance of permanent water everywhere, but feed is often scarce. Since leaving the depot camp on the Gilliot we have explored about 500 miles of new country, mostly along the northern face of the coast mountains. We passed over what, I have no doubt, will prove to be a rich gold field before long. We did not find any gold; but from, the character of the country I have not the least doubt of its existence: should the search in this neighbourhood be unsuccessful we shall cross the coast range immediately, and continue the search on the southern or inland waters about south-west towards Swan River.

"Duncan M'Intyre."   

The letter is written in ink, the signature in pencil. It was evidently left uncompleted. The words in brackets have been added by Dr. Mueller.




"The Hon. Secretaries, Ladies' Leichhardt Search Committee, Melbourne, Victoria.

"Leichhardt Expedition, Camp, River Gilliot,
7th June, 1866.

"Ladies,

"It is with feelings of the deepest sorrow that I beg to communicate to you the melancholy intelligence of the death of our leader, Mr. Duncan M'Intyre, which occurred on the morning of the 4th inst., at his brother's camp on the River Gilliot.

"I will endeavour, as clearly as I can, to narrate the circumstances immediately preceding and attending his death, feeling convinced that they will be of the most painful interest.

"Mr. M'Intyre, accompanied by Archibald M'Leod and two black boys, left this camp on the 3rd April, and proceeded in a direction slightly to the northward of west to the River Leichhardt. As he has since informed me, after perfectly convincing himself that Leichhardt could not by any possible chance {Page 45} have taken his party over the country he saw there, he travelled generally in a north direction, following the river down to 18° 56' S. lat. Here he left the Leichhardt and struck across for the Gregory on his way to the township on the Albert River, where he purposed buying horses and rations. He arrived at Mr. J.G. M'Donald's station on the Gregory on the 18th April. The next day, while following the river down, M'Leod, who was leading the horse which carried the rations, unluckily missed Mr. M'Intyre's track, and he and the black boys were in consequence without food of any sort excepting one iguana until they arrived at the Landsborough River Company's station on Beau's Brook on the evening of the 20th. Near this station he camped till the 4th May, making such visits to the Albert River township, distant 16 miles, as business required. At this time a disease generally known there as "the fever" was raging in the township, and M'Leod and M'Loughlin, who entered the service of the expedition there, as well as the two black boys (one of whom has since died from its effects), were attacked by it. Mr. M'Intyre apparently escaped; but he afterwards, on the 13th May, told me that on one occasion he had feared he had caught it, but was determined to, and did, shake it off. On the 20th May we (I had in the mean time joined the party) arrived at the River Dugald, where Mr. M'Intyre resolved to leave us while he and one black boy proceeded to the Gilliot, distant 50 miles east from the former river, to bring the other portion of the expedition to us. Up to this time he had been by far the strongest man amongst us. Next morning he felt unwell, and attributed it to his having lain in the smoke which arose from a hollow damp log on the fire during the night. Next day he was still unwell; but on Wednesday, 23rd May, he started for the Gilliot, intending to be back in about a week. I did not again see him alive.

"The dromedaries, &c., arrived at the camp on the Dugald on the 29th May; and by that opportunity Mr. M'Intyre forwarded me a note of instructions, informing me therein that owing to extreme weakness he had been unable to reach the Gilliot on the same day he left us, but that he arrived there the next morning in a very exhausted state. He also said then (26th May) that he felt better, and hoped to rejoin us in a few days.

Late in the evening of the 2nd June, I received a note from Mr. Donald M'Intyre, stating that his brother was very ill: and as he would not, in all probability, be able to start with the expedition for some weeks, I was instructed to return with the entire party to the Gilliot.

"The 3rd June was occupied in mustering the horses and preparing for a start out, which we made the next morning.

"On the 5th June, when about 26 miles from the Gilliot, I was met by a messenger bearing the sad tidings that our leader was no more. I of course, immediately pushed forward, arrived at the camp in the evening, and learnt that during the last two days of his life he had been speechless and without the slightest power of motion. Occasionally he suffered very severe pain, while at other times he was in comparative ease. At six o'clock on the morning of the 4th he gently breathed his last. He had expressed a wish, some days previous to his death, that I should read the funeral service over his remains; and I need hardly assure you his desire was religiously respected. We buried him on the morning of the 6th June.

"How severe was his disappointment at not being permitted to finish the great task he had undertaken few can imagine. Rumours which, although utterly groundless, had been widely spread, to the effect that he had accepted the post of leader of this expedition simply with a view to benefit himself and not to achieve its grand object, had reached his ears and had grieved him exceedingly. He had every confidence, however, that he would thoroughly succeed in the performance of his duty, and thus practically refute so base a scandal. On several occasions he mentioned this subject to me, and once added, 'It's no use {Page 46} telling them they're wrong; I'll show them.' But this he has not been allowed to do. In his last letter of instructions to myself, which he had dictated to his brother, he said, 'all those who have travelled with me will be able to give evidence if I adhered to the terms of the agreement to really search for Leichhardt while a horse or a camel remained of the expedition.' That he did so, and would have continued to do so, none who knew him can doubt.

"W.P. Sloman, Second in Command."   






8. Forrest's First Expedition, 1869

From the relevant chapters—1 and 2.—of John and Alexander Forrest's book, "Explorations in Australia", John Forrest's set of instructions, from Chapter 2, included:

"Survey Office, Perth,
13th April, 1869.   

Sir,

His Excellency the Governor having been pleased to appoint you to lead an expedition into the interior of Western Australia for the purpose of searching for the remains of certain white men reported by the natives to have been killed by the aborigines some years ago, many miles beyond the limits of our settled country, and it being deemed probable that the white men referred to formed part of an exploring party under the command of Dr. Leichardt, endeavouring to penetrate overland from Victoria to this colony several years ago, I have been directed to furnish the following instructions for your guidance on this interesting service, and for enabling you to carry out the wishes of the Government in connexion therewith.

.  .  .  .  .  .

I remain, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

J.S. ROE, Surveyor-General.   

John Forrest, Esquire, Leader of Exploring Expedition to the North-East."

Read the Forrests' "Explorations in Australia" here. This work contains a map of the expedition.






9. Finding the Gun Nameplate

About 1900, a burnt firearm with a nameplate marked "ludwig leichhardt 1848" was discovered by an Aboriginal man, known as 'Jackie', who was working for an outback drover and prospector named Charles Harding. The Leichhardt nameplate, now believed to be genuine, is a piece of brass some 15cm x 2cm. It was discovered attached to a partly burnt firearm in a boab tree near Sturt Creek, between the Tanami and Great Sandy Deserts, just west of the Western Australia border.

Detailed information on this subject may be found at The National Museum website.






10. Sources


Sources for this work are as follows:

1. "Leichhardt's Last Letters":

1.1—THE LAST LETTERS WRITTEN BY LEICHARDT: South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA 1839-1900), Monday 15 Jan 1866 ("Trove" article41025763-3)

1.2 South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA 1839-1900), 23 January 1866, page 3 ("Trove" article41025763-4)

1.3 Sydney Morning Herald, 1 June, 1848, page 3 ("Trove" article12909427-3)

2. Expedition in Search of Dr. Leichhardt: Report by Hovenden Hely, Leader of the Expedition, by Hovenden Hely. Royal Geographical Society of Australasia: South Australian Branch, vol 16, 1914-15, pages 219-236.

3. Journals of Australian Exploration, by Frank and Augustus Gregory.

4. Expedition from Moreton Bay in Search of Leichhardt and Party, by Augustus Charles Gregory. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, November 8, 1858; Volume III, pages 18-34.

5. The Clarke Interlude:

5.1 Rev. W.B. Clarke's Letter to Sydney Morning Herald, 30 July, 1858 ("Trove" article13021720-3; "Trove" article13021721-3)

5.2 Rev. W.B. Clarke's Letter to Sydney Morning Herald, 5 August, 1858 ("Trove" article13015765-3.)

5.3 Rev. W.B. Clarke's Letter to Sydney Morning Herald, 24 August, 1858 ("Trove" article13017281-3.)

5.4 Rev. W.B. Clarke's Letter to Sydney Morning Herald, 10 September, 1858 ("Trove" article13015712-3.)

5.5 Rev. W.B. Clarke's Letter to Sydney Morning Herald, 20 October, 1858 ("Trove" article28630270-3.)

5.6 Rev. W.B. Clarke's Letter to Royal Geographical Society of London: Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, November 22, 1858; Volume III, pages 87-91.

6. Journal of Mr. Walker from the day he left Macintosh's Station, on the Nogoa, to that of his arrival at the Albert River, Gulf of Carpentaria.
Extract from Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London
Volume xxxiii, 1863, Pages 133-150.

7. "Ladies' Leichhardt Search Expedition":

7.1 Mr. D. Mclntyre's Journey across Australia, from Victoria to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and discovery of supposed traces of Leichhardt. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, June 12, 1865; Volume IX, pages 300-305. [Mueller Communication.]

7.2 Leichhardt Search Expedition: Extracts from Documents transmitted to the Society by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. [Dated 8th August 1865.] Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London,
Date 1865?; Volume X, pages 58-61. [Additional Notices.]

7.3 Last Letter of Mr. Duncan McIntyre, Leader of the Leichhardt Search Expedition, and an Account of his Death. [Dated 2nd May 1866.] Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Date 1866?; Volume XI, pages 42-46. [Additional Notices.]

8. Explorations in Australia, by John and Alexander Forrest. [With map.]

9. The "nameplate" web page is at the National Museum Australia.

Maps 1, 1a, of Walker and Landsborough's Routes in their search for Burke and Wills is taken from:

National Library of Australia Map rm1086-sd-cd, under Frederick Walker.

Map 2, of the westernmost part of the Gregorys' North Australia Expedition, 1855-6, is taken from:

Journal of the North Australian Exploring Expedition, under the command of Augustus C. Gregory Esq,. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, June 22, 1857; Volume XXVIII, pages 1-137; Map 1.






Map: Gregorys' (1856) Westernmost Map.




Augustus Gregory reached Sturt Creek (S.W. corner)
in February-March, 1856.
He found no traces of Leichhardt during this stage of the expedition.


[Click on the map to enlarge]




[END]



This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia