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Extracts from A SHORT HISTORY OF AUSTRALIA by ERNEST SCOTT (1868-1939)

6th Edition, 1936. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

The complete text of this eBook is available 

Chapter I. THE DAWN OF DISCOVERY
Early maps of the southern regions--Speculations as to Antipodes-- Discovery of sea-route to the East Indies--Discovery of the Pacific-- The Portuguese and Spaniards--Discovery of the Solomon Islands--Quiros at the New Hebrides--Torres Strait.

Chapter II. THE DUTCH AND NEW HOLLAND
Spain and the Netherlands--Cornelius Houtman's voyage to the East Indies--The Dutch settled at Java--The DUYFKEN in the Gulf of Carpentaria--Brouwer's new route to the Indies--Dirk Hartog in Shark's Bay--Discovery of Nuytsland--Leeuwin's Land discovered--Wreck of the English ship TRIAL--Tasman's voyages--New Holland.

Chapter III. DAMPIER AND COOK
Cessation of Dutch explorations--Policy of Dutch East India Company-- Dampier's first voyage to Australia in the CYGNET--His voyage in the ROEBUCK--Cook's voyages--Discovery of New South Wales--Botany Bay--Voyage of the RESOLUTION--Popularity of Cook's VOYAGES.

Chapter IV. THE FOUNDATION OF SYDNEY
Effect of the revolt of the American colonies--The problem of the loyalists--Stoppage of the transportation of criminals to America--Banks suggests founding a convict settlement in New Holland--Matra's plan-- Young's plan--Determination of Government to establish a settlement in New Holland--Pitt's policy--Phillip appointed Governor--Sailing of the First Fleet--Phillip rejects Botany Bay and selects Port Jackson-- Laperouse in Botany Bay--Phillip's task and its performance--His faith in the future--His retirement.

Chapter VII FURTHER EXPLORATIONS
Attempts to cross the Blue Mountains--Blaxland's success--Evans discovers the Bathurst Plains--Voyages of Bass and Flinders in the TOM THUMB--Bass discovers coal--Discovery of Bass Strait and Westernport--Bass and Flinders circumnavigate Tasmania in the NORFOLK--End of Bass--Voyage of the LADY NELSON--Murray discovers Port Phillip-- Flinders's voyage in the INVESTIGATOR--Discovery of Spencer's and St. Vincent's Gulfs and Kangaroo Island--Meeting with Baudin in Encounter Bay--Circumnavigation of Australia--The name Australia--Flinders in Mauritius--His liberation and death.

Chapter XI. THE PROBLEM OF THE RIVERS
Oxley's explorations on the Lachlan and the Macquarie--Immigration policy--Oxley in Moreton Bay--Foundation of Brisbane--Lockyer explores the Brisbane River--Explorations of Hume and Hovell--Alan Cunningham explores the Liverpool Range--Sturt's explorations--He discovers the Darling--Discovery of the Murray--Its exploration to the sea--The naming of the Murray--Mitchell discovers Australia Felix--The Hentys at Portland.

Chapter XX. THE HEART OF THE CONTINENT
Flinders's plan--George Grey's journeys--Eyre's journey to Central Australia--His tramp across the desert--Sturt's journey to the interior--McDouall Stuart reaches the centre--He crosses the continent-- Leichhardt's explorations--His fate--Mitchell and the Barcoo--Death of Kennedy--Burke and Wills--Angus Macmillan in Gippsland--Strzelecki--The Forrest brothers--Ernest Giles.


 

^Home

CHAPTER I

 

THE DAWN OF DISCOVERY

 

Early maps of the southern regions--Speculations as to Antipodes-- Discovery of sea-route to the East Indies--Discovery of the Pacific-- The Portuguese and Spaniards--Discovery of the Solomon Islands--Quiros at the New Hebrides--Torres Strait.

There was a period when maps of the world were published whereon the part occupied by the continent of Australia was a blank space. On other maps, dating from about the same time, land masses were represented which we now know to have been imaginary. Let us look at four examples.

The first is a map drawn by Robert Thorne in the reign of Henry VIII (1527). He said in an apology for his work that 'it may seem rude,' and so it was; but it serves the purpose of proving that Thorne and the Spanish geographers from whom he derived his information knew nothing about a continent near Australia. Sixty years later a map published at Paris showed a portion of New Guinea, but still the place occupied by Australia was left as open ocean. A Dutch map published at Amsterdam in 1594 did indeed indicate a large stretch of southern land, and called it Terra Australis, but it bore no resemblance to the real continent either in shape or situation. In 1595 a map by Hondius, a Dutchman living in London, was published to illustrate the voyage of Francis Drake round the globe. It represented New Guinea as an island, approximately in its right position, though the shape of it was defective. To the south of it, and divided from it by a strait, appeared a large mass of land named Terra Australis. The outline is not much like that of the continent of Australia, but it was apparently copied from an earlier Dutch map by Ortelius (1587), upon which were printed words in Latin stating that whether New Guinea was an island or part of an austral continent was uncertain. Many other early maps could be instanced, but these four will suffice to exhibit the defective state of knowledge concerning this region at the end of the sixteenth century.

By that time the belief had grown that there probably was a large area of land in the southern hemisphere. Much earlier, in the Middle Ages, some had seriously questioned whether there could possibly be antipodes. Learned and ingenious men argued about it, for and against, at considerable length; for it was much easier to write large folios in Latin about the form of the earth than to go forth in ships and find out. One famous cosmographer, Cosmas Indicopleustes, scoffed at the very idea of there being countries inhabited by people who walked about with their feet opposite to those of Europeans and their bodies (as he imagined) hanging downwards, like flies on a ceiling. How, he asked, could rain 'be said to "fall" or "descend," as in the Psalms and Gospels, in those regions where it could only be said to come up?' Consequently he declared ideas about antipodes to be nothing better than 'old wives' fables.'

Another class of speculators maintained that there necessarily must be antipodes, because the globe had to be equally poised on both sides of its own centre. As there was a large mass of land, consisting of Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America, on the one side of the Equator, they argued that there had to be a balance of earth at the opposite extremity.

To understand how speculation was set at rest and Australia came to be discovered, it is necessary to bear in mind a few facts connected with the expansion of European energy in maritime exploration, trade, and colonization.

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries a great and wonderful series of events opened new sea-routes and fresh lands to the enterprise of mankind. There was keen competition to secure the profits arising from trade with the East--from the silk and cotton fabrics of China and India, the spices, gold, jewels and metal work, the rice and sugar, and many other things which European peoples were glad to purchase and oriental lands could supply. This trade had in earlier years come partly overland, along caravan routes to the Levant, partly by water to the Red Sea, and then through Egypt to Alexandria. The goods were collected by Venetians, Genoese, and other merchants, chiefly Italians, in vessels plying in the Mediterranean, and sold to European buyers. But the Portuguese discovered that by sailing round Africa they could bring commodities from the East cheaper and safer than by the old routes. They had made many voyages down the west coast of Africa during the fifteenth century, until at last, in 1486, Bartholomew Diaz steered his ships round the Cape of Good Hope, and in 1497 Vasco da Gama beat that record by conducting two vessels all the way to India and back to Lisbon.

That was one important step towards the discovery of Australia--the finding of the way to the East from Europe by sea.

It was for the purpose of discovering a still shorter route to the east that Christopher Columbus, a Genoese in the service of Spain, proposed to sail west. He argued that if the world were round, a ship sailing west, straight towards the sunset, must come upon the shores of further Asia. His reasoning was right, but there was one immense factor which it was impossible for him to anticipate. He could not know that the path to the East by the westward passage was blocked by the continent of America. Columbus, indeed, never did realize that fact to the day of his death. He never knew that he had found a new world. He always believed that he had discovered what we may call the back door of Asia.

The Spaniards, having possessed themselves of America through the discoveries of Columbus and his successors, were still dissatisfied when they realized that this new continent was not the Orient whence their Portuguese rivals drew so rich a trade; and for many years they searched for a strait through it or a way round it. When their explorers crossed the narrow isthmus of Panama they saw before them an ocean hitherto unknown to Europeans. This, then, was the sea which Columbus had striven to reach when his track was barred by the American continent. This was the sea which it was necessary to traverse to get to the spice islands by the western route. Columbus was now dead, but Spain had other gallant navigators in her service. One of them, Ferdinand Magellan, in 1520, led the way down the east coast of South America, through the narrow passage named after him, and into what he for the first time called Mare Pacificum, the quiet sea.

That was the next important step towards the discovery of Australia--the finding of the Pacific.

To realise the importance of these two series of discoveries, look at a map showing the position of Australia in relation to South America and South Africa, and remember that the main purpose of voyagers by either route was to get as quickly and as safely as possible to the parts with which there was rich trade to be done--to Ceylon, India, China, Japan, Java, the Phillipines, and the Spice Islands. It will be seen that neither the Portuguese sailing round the Cape into the Indian Ocean, nor the Spaniards sailing round South America into the Pacific, would be likely to see the coasts of Australia unless they were blown very far out of their true course, or unless curiosity led them to undertake extensive voyages of exploration. Taking the two sides of a triangle to represent the two routes, Australia lay upon the centre of the base line.

That several ships did, accidentally or in pursuit of geographical knowledge, make a passing acquaintance with parts of Australia during the sixteenth century is suggested by a few charts, though we do not know the name of any navigator who did so.

A curious French map of which six copies are known to exist, dated 1542, presents an outline of a country lying south of Java and inscribed 'Jave la Grande,' the great Java. On a copy which was presented to King Henry VIII (by some one who came to England in the suite of Anne of Cleves, it is conjectured), Java itself was marked by way of distinction as 'the lytil Java,' or Java the small. It is certain that the French map-maker worked from Portuguese information, not from original observations of his own. Allowing for some defects, the map makes it probable that at least one Portuguese ship had sailed not only along the north-western coast of Australia, but also along the east coast, from Cape York to the south of Tasmania, two centuries and a half before the celebrated voyage of Captain Cook.

In 1598 Cornelius Wytfliet, in a book published at Louvain, wrote as follows: 'The Australis Terra is the most southern of all lands, and is separated from New Guinea by a narrow strait. Its shores are hitherto but little known, since after one voyage and another that route has been deserted, and seldom is the country visited unless sailors are driven there by storms. The Australis Terra begins at two or three degrees from the Equator, and is maintained by some to be of so great an extent that if it were thoroughly explored it would be regarded as a fifth part of the world.' Those from whom the Louvain geographer drew his information seem to have had a correct knowledge of the division of New Guinea by a strait from the land to the south of it, but they imagined that the southern continent was far vaster than was actually the case. The supposed Terra Australis of these old cosmographers was indeed a continent stretching right round the South Pole.

The evidence concerning Australian discovery before the seventeenth century is so clouded with doubt that it has been asserted to be unworthy of credence. It has been argued that there is 'no foundation beyond mere surmise and conjecture' for believing that any part of this country was known to Europeans until the Dutch appeared upon the scene in 1606. We certainly do not know the name of any sailor who made discoveries prior to that date, nor of any ship in which they were made. We have only a few rough charts, the statement of Cornelius Wytfliet, and the persistence of a vague tradition. Yet this evidence, unsatisfactory as it is, cannot be ignored. It is not unlikely that Portuguese ships sailed along the west, north, and east of Australia, and that persons on board made sketches of the coastline. There are difficulties about accepting the map dated 1542 as a representation of Australia. It brings the land called 'Jave la Grande' too near to the island of Java, and it projects the most northerly tongue of that mass between Java and Timor, whereas in fact there is no northern cape of Australia within hundreds of miles of the gap between those islands. But the man who drew the chart of the world of which this formed part used materials obtained from sources unknown to us. He may have had to piece together information from several rough seamen's charts. He may have made mistakes in fitting the parts. We cannot tell. These early intimations are

Faint as a figure seen at early dawn Down at the far end of an avenue.

It may be thought that, if the Portuguese had really found a great new land to the southward of the spice islands, they would be proud of the achievement and would proclaim it to the world. But, on the contrary, their policy was to conceal the whereabouts and the resources of the countries which they discovered. They desired to secure for their own profit the whole of the trade with the East. Especially were they suspicious of the Spaniards, their neighbours in Europe, their rivals in oversea empire. The Portuguese being the first to discover the sea-route to the east round the Cape of Good Hope, and the Spaniards being the first to discover the way to America across the Atlantic, both realized that their interests would be bound to clash. Where was to be the dividing line between their respective spheres of operation? Pope Alexander VI settled their differences in 1493 by appropriating to the Portuguese all the discoveries to the east of a certain meridian, whilst the Spaniards were to take all that lay to the westward of that line. A little later the two nations voluntarily agreed to an amendment of the Pope's award, and fixed upon a meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands as the line separating their two dominions.

But, while this line drawn through the Atlantic did very well before the discovery of the Pacific Ocean, the agreement needed readjustment after Magellan sailed out of the Atlantic into the Pacific. The Moluccas were regarded as a very valuable possession on account of the spices yielded by them. The Portuguese, who had discovered these islands in 1512, contended that they were theirs. The Spaniards, however, contended that the Moluccas were on the western side of the line of partition; they were, urged the King of Spain, 'in his part of those countries which pertained unto him according to the Pope's bull.' Consequently there was 'great contention and strife between the Spaniards and the Portugals about the spicery and division of the Indies.' King John of Portugal, records a contemporary Spaniard, 'what of stoutness of mind and what for grief, was puffed up with anger, as were also the rest of the Portugals, storming as though they would have plucked down the sky with their hands, not a little fearing lest they should lose the trade of spices if the Spaniards should once put in their foot.' After much dispute the King of Spain and the King of Portugal each married the other's sister, 'whereat this matter waxed cold.' The Portuguese kept the Moluccas and paid a sum of money to the Spanish King for the dropping of his claim to them; whereat, says the Spanish chronicler, 'some marvelled, others were sorry, and all held their peace.' But the Spanish traders did not acknowledge that their rights had been surrendered by this amicable financial and nuptial bargain between the two kings, though it was for the moment expedient for them to hold their peace.

In view of these disputes between the rivals as to the possession of lands in the Pacific, and as the agreement of the kings did not imply any principle of permanent settlement by the two nations concerning this part of the globe, it was clearly in the interest of the Portuguese, if they did discover Australia, to publish nothing about it. The Spaniards would have had quite as good a claim to this country as to the Moluccas, and would have insisted that the sum which the Portuguese had paid on account of those islands by no means covered the large country to the south. The dispute about the Moluccas was ended in 1529, and the map comprehending 'Jave la Grande' is dated 1542. If, between those two dates, the Portuguese became aware of the existence of a large area of new country, was there not good reason for their suppressing what they knew? Indeed, no Portuguese map is known to exist showing any country in the vicinity of Australia. The 1542 map is of French origin. though the French had no navigators of their own on voyages of this kind so early. How the French cartographer procured his data we do not know; ingenious guesses have been made, but we cannot depend upon them.

Apart from their jealousy of the Spaniards, the Portuguese pursued the general policy of keeping secret their charts and sailing directions. They did not want to have people of other nations interfering in the trade of the Orient. A pilot or other person who gave to a foreigner information concerning the route taken by Portuguese ships on the voyage to the East Indies was liable to be punished by being put to death. We cannot wonder, then, that the history of Portuguese activity in Australasian waters is obscure.

Not until 1606 do we reach certain ground. In that year both Dutch and Spanish vessels were voyaging within sight of the Australian coast; and here at last we get in touch with people whom we know by name, and with first-hand contemporary documentary evidence which we can read and analyse.

The story of the Spanish voyage is this. The viceroys who were sent out to govern the American possessions of that country were accustomed to despatch expeditions to discover new lands. In 1567 an expedition from Peru under the command of Alvaro de Mendana had discovered the Solomon Islands, to the east of New Guinea. According to one account of the voyage, Alvaro would appear to have thought that he had actually discovered the Great Southern Continent of which men suspected the existence. 'The greatest island that they discovered was according unto the first finder called Guadalcanal, on the coast whereof they sailed 150 leagues before they could know whether it were an island or part of the mainland; and yet they knew not perfectly what to make of it, but think that it may be part of that continent which stretcheth to the Straits of Magellan; for they coasted it to eighteen degrees and could not find the end thereof. The gold that they found was upon this island or mainland; but because the Spaniards understood not the language of the country, and also for the Indians were very stout and fought continuously against them, they could never learn from whence that gold came, nor yet what store was in the land.'

Alvaro, named the group of islands the Solomons with the deliberate purpose of alluring other Spaniards to settle there--'to the end that the Spaniards, supposing them to be those isles from whence Solomon fetched gold to adorn the temple at Jerusalem, might be the more desirous to go and inhabit the same.' Alvaro, indeed, thought that it would be advantageous to establish a Spanish colony at the Solomons; so in 1595 he brought another expedition into the Pacific with that purpose in view. On his second voyage he discovered the Marquesas Island, but he could not now find the Solomons where he had been twenty-eight years before. It was no uncommon circumstance in those days for a navigator to lose his way at sea; and Alvaro had not been sufficiently precise in his reckoning to know their exact whereabouts. He died at Santa Cruz, a small group of islands south-east of the Solomons, before he had rediscovered the object of his quest.

One of the officers on this second expedition of Alvaro was Pedro Fernandez de Quiros. He was one of those Spaniards who believed that there was a Great Southern Continent which, from the vicinity of the Solomons, 'sretcheth to the Straits of Magellan.' The acquisition of this continent would, he urged, be full of advantage for Spain. He laid his case before King Philip III, and as a result was commissioned to command three ships for the purpose of colonizing Santa Cruz and searching for the continent.

On December 21, 1605, the expedition sailed from Callao in Peru. The officer second in command was Luis de Torres. But Quiros was not able to manage his crew. They were mutinous, and, as Torres tells us in his relation of the voyage, 'made him turn from the course.' When the ships reached the island of Espiritu Santo, in the New Hebrides, they parted company. At midnight on June 11, Quiros's flagship, the ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL, slipped out of harbour, 'and,' says Torres, 'although the next morning we went out to seek for them and made all proper efforts, it was not possible for us to find them, for they did not sail on the proper course nor with good intention.' It is to be inferred from Torres's language that Quiros's mutinous crew had compelled him to sail back to Peru, leaving behind the two other ships, with Torres in command of them.

What was he to do now that the leader of the expedition had departed? Was he tamely to abandon the voyage, and steer back to Callao? Torres resolved that he would not return until he had achieved some amount of exploration. At this determination he arrived 'contrary to the inclinations of many, I may say of the greater part'; but he added, with a touch of pride in his own capacity for command, and also with a spice of scorn for the failure of Quiros, 'my condition was different from that of Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quiros.'

Torres, therefore, after satisfying himself that the land whereat they had been lying was an island, and not a portion of a continent, sailed till he fell in with the southern coast of New Guinea. Then for two anxious months he threaded his way through the reefs and islands of the intricate and dangerous strait which separates that country from Australia. He sighted the hills of Cape York (which he took to be a cluster of islands), made an acquaintance with the savage islanders of the strait, and, emerging into the open sea, steered at length for the Philippines, where he wrote an account of the voyage.

Quiros stoutly professed that he had discovered the Great Southern Continent, and in 1610 a narrative of the voyage was published wherein it was announced that 'all this region of the south as far as the Pole ' should be called 'Austrialia del Espiritu Santo.' The word 'Austrialia' was intended to pay a compliment to Philip III of Spain (a Hapsburg sovereign, and as such a member of the House of Austria) as well as to convey the meaning that this new land was a southern continent. The word was chosen, says Quiros, 'from his Majesty's title of Austria.' But Torres could have told him, and perhaps did, that he had by no means discovered a continent, but merely an island of no very large proportions. Quiros had never been within five hundred miles of the real continent. Torres had seen it, but did not know that he had.

But the dawn of discovery had now broken.

 

^Home

CHAPTER II

 

THE DUTCH AND NEW HOLLAND

 

Spain and the Netherlands--Cornelius Houtman's voyage to the East Indies--The Dutch settled at Java--The DUYFKEN in the Gulf of Carpentaria--Brouwer's new route to the Indies--Dirk Hartog in Shark's Bay--Discovery of Nuytsland--Leeuwin's Land discovered--Wreck of the English ship TRIAL--Tasman's voyages--New Holland.

The entrance of the Dutch into the East as explorers, colonists, and merchants was connected with European events of very great importance. The Reformation was principally an affair of churches and forms of religious belief, but it also had far-reaching consequences touching politics, commerce, and all the manifold interests of mankind. Its influence extended throughout the known world, and led to the discovery of regions hitherto unknown.

During the third quarter of the sixteenth century Philip II of Spain was engaged in a bitter, bloody struggle with his subjects in the Netherlands. Thousands of them broke away from the ancient Church of which he was a devoted champion. Philip, loathing heresy, set himself to 'exterminate the root and ground of this pest,' and his ruthless Spanish soldiery carried out their master's injunctions with such pitiless ferocity that their effort to crush the revolt stands as one of the most awful phases of modern history. For over thirty years the Spanish sword was wet with the blood of the people of the Netherlands. In the southern provinces, Brabant and Flanders, Protestantism was suppressed; but the north, Holland and Zealand successfully defied the gloomy, conscientious fanatic who issued his edicts of persecution from Madrid.

The Dutch people at the time of the revolt did the largest sea-carrying trade in Europe. Their mercantile marine was numerous, and was manned by bold and skilful sailors. A very considerable part of their commerce consisted in fetching from Lisbon goods brought by the Portuguese from the East, and distributing them throughout the continent. It was a very profitable business, and it quite suited the Dutch that the Portuguese should enjoy a monopoly in oriental trade as long as they themselves kept the major part of the European carrying trade. They grew rich and increased their shipping, and the growth of their wealth and sea-power enabled them the better to defy Philip II.

Failing, therefore, to subjugate the Dutch by sword and cannon, Philip resolved to humble them by stifling their trade. In 1580 the throne of Portugal had fallen vacant, and a Spanish army which crossed the frontier had forced the Portuguese to accept Philip as king. For sixty years to come--until the Portuguese regained their independence in 1640--the gallant little country which had achieved such glorious pre-eminence in commerce and discovery remained in 'captivity' to Spain. The control thus secured by Philip over the colonies and the shipping of Portugal enabled him to strike the desired blow at the Dutch. In 1584 he commanded that Lisbon should be closed to their ships. Barring against the heretic rebels the port whither came the goods from which they had derived such abundant gains, he thought he could chastise them for their disobedience by the ruin of their commerce.

But Philip wholly underestimated the spirit and enterprise of the Dutch people. They had baffled the best of his generals, beaten the choicest of his troops, and captured his ships upon the sea. They were now prepared to scorn his new menace by fetching direct the commodities which they had hitherto obtained from Lisbon. First they tried to find a new route to the East by a passage north of Europe, but were blocked by the ice of the Arctic Sea. If they were to succeed they must force their way into the trade by the Portuguese route in the teeth of Spanish opposition.

Many Dutch sailors had served on Portuguese vessels. Though the Portuguese tried to keep their sailing routes secret, and had never published maps, they had often had to avail themselves of the services of Dutch mariners; and these men knew the way. One of them, Cornelius Houtman, had actually been a pilot in the oriental trade. Another Dutchman, John Linschoten, had lived for fourteen years in the East Indies, and upon his return published at Amsterdam (1595) a remarkable book called ITINERARIO, wherein he told all he knew. Several Englishmen had also wandered about the seas and lands of Asia, often having painful experiences, and their adventures had been described in Richard Hakluyt's PRINCIPAL NAVIGATIONS, VOYAGES, AND DISCOVERIES, published in 1589. So that in various ways the Dutch already knew more about the Indies than King Philip supposed, and they were ready to act boldly in putting their knowledge to practical uses.

A company of Amsterdam merchants fitted out a fleet of four ships, placed them under Cornelius Houtman's direction, and sent them on a voyage to the spice islands. They were over two years away, from April 1595 to July 1597, but they did great things for Holland. They were the first Dutch ships to round the Cape of Good Hope and to visit Madagascar, Goa, Java, and the Moluccas. Cornelius Houtman and his brother Frederick were important pioneers of Dutch energy in the East. We have the name of the latter on the map of Australia at Houtman's Abrolhos, the long shoal off the west coast of the continent. Abrolhos, in Portuguese, means literally 'open eyes,' and was given because this was part of a coast where it was needful to keep a sharp look-out. The use of the word by Dutchmen is in itself interesting, as indicating that, in consequence of the service in which they acquired their experience, the employment of a Portuguese sea-term seemed most convenient to them.

Here, then, was another step on the way to the discovery of Australia--the forcing of an entry into the eastern trade by the Dutch.

Houtman having shown the road, others were quick to follow. Before the end of the sixteenth century the Dutch had established themselves at Java (1598) and seven companies had been formed to make profits from the eastern trade. Fleet after fleet sailed forth from Holland. They were well armed and efficiently manned; they were quite prepared to fight their way against the Spaniards and the Portuguese. This they successfully did, both in the East, where at Malacca in 1606 they destroyed a fleet of their rivals, and in European waters, where at Gibraltar Bay in 1607 a large Spanish fleet was annihilated by a small Dutch squadron commanded by Jacob van Heemskerk. With wonderful rapidity the new-comers supplanted the Portuguese as the principal European power in eastern seas.

In the first half century of their activity a spirit of investigation accompanied their commercial enterprise. They explored, charted, and published. A series of most beautiful maps was produced by Hollanders, adding to the world's geographical knowledge. Partly accidentally, partly as the result of explorations, they pieced together an outline of the northern, and western coasts of the continent which lay to the south of the spice islands.

The first Dutch vessel known to have visited part of the Australian coast was the DUYFKEN (i.e. the Little Dove), despatched to examine the coasts and islands of New Guinea. This yacht, which was commanded by Willem Jansz, was actually in Torres Strait in March 1606, a few weeks before Torres sailed through it. But provisions ran short, and nine of the crew were murdered by natives, who Were found to be 'wild, cruel, black savages'; so that the DUYFKEN did not penetrate beyond Cape Keer-weer (i.e. Cape Turn-again), on the west side of the Cape York Peninsula. Her captain returned in the belief that the south coast of New Guinea was joined to the land along which he coasted, and Dutch maps reproduced this error for many years to come.

A knowledge of the west coast was gradually gained through a series of accidents, happy and otherwise. Naturally, when the Dutch first sailed into these seas they followed the route which the Portuguese had always pursued. After rounding the Cape of Good Hope they ran along the coast of Africa north-east as far as Madagascar, and then struck across the Indian Ocean. But this route was painfully long. A ship would often find herself becalmed for weeks together in the tropics. The heat was intensely oppressive, the crews suffered severely from scurvy and dysentery, and it was no uncommon circumstance for a ship to lose 60 per cent. of her people on the voyage. The cargo frequently deteriorated, and the vessels became foul and gaping at the seams. A voyage would sometimes last over a year; the minimum time was nine months. An Englishman who visited the Portuguese settlements in 1584 noted that ships which missed the July monsoons were generally unable to cross the Indian Ocean, but had to return to St. Helena; 'albeit,' he recorded as a marvellous thing, 'in the year of our Lord 1580 there arrived the ship called the LORENZO, being wonderful sore sea-beaten, the eighth of October, which was accounted as a miracle for that the like had not been seen before.' A route thus full of impediments to safe and speedy navigation was so inconvenient that the Dutch realized the importance of finding a better one. The Dutch map illustrating the voyage of Van Neck's fleet in 1598-1600, indicates the route followed.

In 1611 Hendrik Brouwer, a commander of marked ability who subsequently became Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, made a discovery. He found that if, after leaving the Cape, he steered due east for about three thousand miles, and then set a course north for Java, he had the benefit of favourable winds, which enabled him to finish the voyage in much less time than the old route required. Brouwer wrote to the directors of the Dutch East India Company pointing out that he had sailed from Holland to Java in seven months, and recommending that ships' captains should be instructed to take the same course in future. The directors followed his advice; and from the year 1613 all Dutch commanders were under instructions to follow Brouwer's route.

The bearing of this change on the discovery of the west coast of Australia will be immediately apparent to any one who glances at a map of the southern Indian Ocean. The distance from the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Leeuwin is about 4,300 miles. A vessel running eastward with a free wind, and anxious to make the most of it before changing her course northward, would be very likely to sight the Australian coast.

That is precisely what occurred to the ship EENDRAGT (i.e. Concord). Her captain, Dirk Hartog, ran farther eastward than Brouwer had advised, reaching Shark's Bay and landing on the island which to this day bears his name. He erected there a post, and nailed to it a tin plate upon which was engraved the record that on October 25, 1616, the ship EENDRAGT from Amsterdam had arrived there, and had sailed for Bantam on the 27th. Dirk Hartog's plate was found by Captain Vlaming, of the Dutch ship GEELVINK, eighty years later. The post had decayed, but the plate itself was 'unaffected by rain, air, or sun.' Vlaming sent it to Amsterdam as an interesting memorial of discovery, and erected another post and plate in place of it; and Vlaming's plate in turn remained until 1817, when Captain Louis de Freycinet, the commander of a French exploring expedition, took it away with him to Paris.

Dirk Hartog's discovery was recognised by the seamen of his nation as one which conduced to safer navigation. Brouwer's sailing direction had left it indefinite at what point the turn northward should be commenced. But now there was a landmark, and amended instructions were issued to Dutch mariners that they should sail from the Cape between the latitudes of thirty and forty degrees for about four thousand miles until the 'New Southland of the EENDRAGT' was sighted. 'The land of the EENDRAGT' --'T'Landt van de EENDRAGT'--that was the first name given by the Dutch to this country; and it so appears upon several early maps of the world published at Amsterdam.

In this way the western coasts of Australia were brought within sight of the regular sailing track of vessels from Europe; and as soon as that occurred the finding of other portions of the coast was only a matter of time. Of course all the captains did not reach the coast at the same spot. Violent winds would sometimes blow a vessel hundreds of miles out of her planned course. Both going to and coming from the East Indies ships would discover fresh pieces of coastline in quite a chance manner. Thus, De Wit sailing homeward from Batavia in 1628 in the VYANEN was by headwinds driven aground upon the north-west coast, and had to throw overboard a quantity of pepper and copper, 'upon which through God's mercy she got off again without further damage.' That bit of coast was named 'De Wit's Land.' In 1627 the GULDEN SEEPAART, having 'on board a' high official, Pieter Nuyts, discovered a portion of the southern coast, as far as the islands of St. Peter and St. Francis at the head of the Great Australian Bight, from the southwest corner, which was already named Leeuwin's Land because a ship of that name (LEEUWIN, meaning the Lioness) discovered that particular portion in 1623.

It was during the same period that the first English ship of which there is any record in connection with Australia appeared off the coast and met with disaster. Upon a Dutch chart of 1627 is marked a reef north-west of Dirk Hartog's Island, with the information that the English ship TRIAL was wrecked there in 1622. ('Hier ist Engels Schip de TRIAL vergaen in Junius 1, 1622.') She must have been a vessel of good size, since she carried a company of 133. Forty-six of them were saved in boats which made their way to Batavia, where their arrival on July 5 was reported by the Dutch Governor-General to the managers of the East India Company. 'The said ship TRIAL,' said the report, 'ran on these rocks in the night time in fine weather, without having seen land, and the heavy swells caused the ship to run aground directly, so that it got filled with water. The forty-six persons afore-mentioned put off from her in the greatest disorder with the boat and pinnace each separately, leaving ninety-seven persons in the ship, whose fate is known to God alone.' That was the unfortunate commencement of the acquaintance of the English with Australia--nearly a century and a half before Captain Cook sailed along the east coast.

In the history of Australian discovery the name of one Dutch navigator stands pre-eminent. It is that of Abel Tasman Born in 1603, in a little village whose lush pastures were sheltered behind the dykes of Friesland, he grew up whilst the Hollanders were achieving their well-earned victory over the detested Spaniards. His countrymen were firmly established in the East Indies when he first saw the light; and the Company's service offered excellent opportunities to a well-trained, intelligent young sailor such as he became. Tasman's rise was very speedy. Commencing as an ordinary seaman, within two years he had become the captain of a vessel. There were no more capable men afloat at this time than were the Dutch, and the sharp merchants who directed the East India Company's affairs would not have entrusted one of their ships to any but a first-class navigator. From the rapidity of Tasman's promotion and the special class of work for which he was selected in the East, we may safely infer that he stood out as a keen, bold, trustworthy, and vigorous-minded commander.

It was fortunate for the fame of Tasman that during his career in the Indies the direction of the government there was in the hands of Anthony van Diemen. This most distinguished of the Dutch Governor-Generals attained office in 1636, and held it till 1645. He ruled not only with a desire to promote the strength and profit of the Netherlands in the East, but also with the keenest anxiety to find out what was to be known about the undiscovered lands of the South Seas. The instructions which he issued to the officers whom he employed in this service were marked by ripe wisdom, shrewd business instincts, and a discerning application of such knowledge, as had been accumulated by previous investigators. He enjoined 'great circumspection' in the treatment of natives. 'Slight misdemeanours on the part of such natives, such as petty thefts and the like, you will pass unnoticed, that by doing so you may draw them unto you, and not inspire them with aversion to our nation. Whoever aspires to discover unknown lands and tribes had need to be patient and long-suffering, noways quick to fly out, but always bent on ingratiating himself.' At the same time he did not forget that the managers of the company in Holland looked to him to do more than expand the boundaries of human knowledge. They were commercial people, whose main concern was to make profit. So Van Diemen directed that, if gold and silver were found, and the natives did not understand the value of them, they were to be kept ignorant. 'Appear as if you were not greedy for them, and if gold or silver is offered in any barter you must feign that you do not value those metals, showing them copper, zinc, and lead, as if those metals were of more value with us.'

By 1642, when Tasman was commissioned to command the first voyage of exploration, he had already had nearly ten years of service in the East, and had rendered distinguished service to his nation there. Van Diemen placed two ships under his command, the HEEMSKERK and the ZEEHAEN, and sent with him as pilot Franz Visscher, an experienced officer, who drew up the plan of the voyage. The object of it was to explore with the hope of opening up fresh avenues for trade and of finding a more convenient route to South America, where the Dutch were aiming at the extension of their commerce in defiance of Spain. Sailing from Batavia on August 14, 1642, Tasman's ships made a wide circuit in the Indian Ocean, touching at Mauritius, and then running southward until they encountered tempestuous weather. They reached the high latitude of 49 degrees, when, upon Visscher's advice, Tasman decided to move back again into warmer seas. In latitude 42 they scudded along before westerly gales until, on November 24, the look-out man gave warning of land ahead. They wore, in fact, within sight of the country which its discoverer named Van Diemen's Land, and which now bears the name of Tasman himself. His landfall is believed to have been near the entrance of Macquarie Harbour, on the west coast of the island, within sight of the two mountains which Flinders in 1798 named, after Tasman's ships, Mounts Heemskerk and Zeehaen.

Coasting round the south of the island, Tasman planted the flag of Prince Frederick Henry, the Standtholder of the Netherlands, as a symbol of taking possession; and on December 4 he sailed east. Nine days later he sighted the west coast of the south island of New Zealand and anchored in Massacre Bay--so called because three of his crew were killed there by Maoris. 'This is the second land we have discovered,' recorded Tasman in his journal; 'it appears to be a very fine country.' His name for it was Staten Land, in honour of the States-General of Holland. To the sea between Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand the discoverer gave the name of Abel Tasman's Passage, in the erroneous belief that New Zealand was part of the Great Southern Continent--the mysterious Terra Australis Incognita--and that this stretch of ocean was simply a strait between it and New Holland. In recent years the British Admiralty has, very appropriately, upon its charts, adopted the name of Tasman Sea for the waters between Australia and New Zealand.

After leaving New Zealand Tasman sailed into the Pacific, calling at the Friendly Islands, and thence made his way home round by the north coast of New Guinea, reaching Batavia on June 15, 1643, after a voyage of ten months, in which he had achieved discoveries of capital importance. In a second voyage of 1644 Tasman set out to find a passage between New Guinea and the land to the southward of it, which the Dutch now fully understood to be of vast extent. They did not of course know that Torres had actually been through the passage thirty-eight years before: that was a fact of which they could not be aware. If Tasman could find a strait he was to sail through it, and travel as far as Van Diemen's Land, thence making for the islands of St. Peter and St. Francis, and returning to Batavia by the coast of the Land of the EENDRAGT. It is evident that if Tasman had accomplished this task, he would have demonstrated Australia to be an island continent, and the whole mystery about Terra Australis would have been cleared up. But for reasons which are not apparent (the journals of Tasman's 1644 voyage are not extant, so that we do not know what his difficulties were), he did not find the passage, and returned to Batavia in August without penetrating to the Pacific by that route. He probably gave the name Carpentaria to the land which he concluded was joined to New Guinea, thus honouring a former Governor-General, Pieter Carpenter (1622-8).

After Tasman's voyages the Dutch commenced to use the name New Holland for the land which they believed to comprehend Van Diemen's Land and the entire region north of De Wit's Land; though they had never been upon the east coast.

The great period of Dutch exploration in Australasia ended with Tasman and Van Diemen. There are no names to compare with theirs for breadth of scope and splendour of accomplishment. But a very great piece of work had been done. The Dutch had, by accidental discoveries and by planned investigations, gained a knowledge of the coastline of Australia from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the Bight, and had added New Zealand and Van Diemen's Land to the sphere. The map as Tasman left it in 1644 remained practically unaltered until after Cook's voyage of 1770.

 

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CHAPTER III

 

DAMPIER AND COOK

 

Cessation of Dutch explorations--Policy of Dutch East India Company-- Dampier's first voyage to Australia in the CYGNET--His voyage in the ROEBUCK--Cook's voyages--Discovery of New South Wales--Botany Bay--Voyage of the RESOLUTION--Popularity of Cook's VOYAGES.

The Dutch having achieved so much, how was it that they did not complete the discovery of the whole of Australia? Why did the spirit of investigation which had animated Van Diemen flicker out when he was no more? The great Governor-General died in 1645, the year after Tasman's second voyage. The explorer himself lived on till 1659, but he was not again employed in discovery work, nor did he live to see his own brilliant exploits eclipsed by others of his nation.

The answer is that further voyages of discovery were discouraged by the managers of the East India Company, because they were expensive and did not produce immediate profits. Though the Dutch nation stood at the back of the Company, and though its managers and principal officers were appointed by the Government of the Netherlands, these managers themselves were commercial men. 'Merchants being at the helm, merchandise was accounted a matter of State,' wrote a contemporary.

Indeed, had Van Diemen lived a few months longer, he would have received a letter from the managers administering to him a chilling rebuke for the expense he had already incurred. Voyages to discover new lands did not increase the Company's profits. They cost money, and brought in no return. Van Diemen had hoped to pay for them by discoveries of gold and silver. There was plenty of both in New Holland, Van Diemen's Land, and New Zealand--mountains of silver and shimmering masses of gold, more than Solomon, Croesus, the Pharaohs, and the Grand Mogul together had ever dreamt of. But it had to be found; it was not lying among the pebbles on the beaches; and the black and painted savages who inhabited these countries knew nothing about it. They were not people with whom profitable business could be done. They were too low down in the scale of civilization even for barter. Why, then, bother about these remote and unremunerative countries? asked the commercial gentlemen in Amsterdam. There was sure profit, and plenty of it, to be made out of the nutmegs of Amboyna, the cloves of Ceylon, the rice of India, the pepper of the Moluccas, the cinnamon of Java, the silks of China, and all the other rich merchandise of the abounding East. Discovery was all very well, but it yielded simply nothing per cent.

Van Diemen would perhaps have been very angry--certainly he would have been sorry--if he had read the letter which came from the managers shortly after they received the news of Tasman's voyage of 1644; but he was dead before it reached Java, and was spared the knowledge of this official censure. 'We see that your worships have again taken up the further exploration of the coast of New Guinea in the hopes of discovering silver and gold mines there,' wrote the Company. 'We do not expect great things of the continuance of such explorations, which more and more burden the Company's resources, since they require increase of ships and sailors. Enough has been discovered for the Company to carry on trade provided the latter be attended with success. We do not consider it part of our task to seek out gold and silver mines for the Company, and, having found such, try and derive profit from the same, such things involve a good deal more, demanding excessive expenditure and large numbers of hands. These plans of your worships somewhat aim beyond our mark. The gold and silver mines that will best serve the Company's turn have already been found, which we deem to be our trade over the whole of India.'

There can be no doubt that some of the choice and ardent spirits among the Hollanders, in Europe as well as in the East, deeply regretted this relinquishment of all effort that did not bring in gain. Witsen, the principal director of the Company at the end of the seventeenth century, said in a letter: 'It is money only, not learned knowledge, that our people go out to seek over there, the which is sorely to be regretted.' But he and his like could not change the general disposition of his colleagues and countrymen. For the Dutch, henceforth, New Holland was simply a land which they sighted in voyaging to and from the East Indies. The vast coastline may have excited their curiosity, but did not prompt them to investigate the resources of the country. They never saw the coasts which were most inviting in appearance, those of the south and the east. They only looked upon the west and the north, and carried away impressions of sterility.

In 1688, while King James II was still reigning in England, the shores of Australia received a visit from a company of buccaneers who included an Englishman with a talent for picturesque writing and an inborn love of adventure--William Dampier. He and his companions on the CYGNET (Captain Swan) had been pursuing a career of sheer piracy in the China seas. They had stolen the very ship in which they sailed, and had committed such offences as would have justified the Spaniards, if they had been caught, in giving each of them sufficient rope with a noose at the end of it, and sufficient yard-arm accommodation, to end their most nefarious courses. But it would have been a pity if Dampier had met with that fate, since it would have deprived posterity of a very delightful book of travels. There were quite good reasons why the CYGNET should for a while get out of the way of ships which might be looking for her; so her company determined to sail to the quiet region of New Holland, 'to see what that country would afford us.'

Dampier's experience of Australia was not considerable on this voyage. The ship dropped anchor on the northwestern shore, somewhere near Melville Island, and stayed there for some weeks to enable her to be careened. His picturesque pen gives a lively account of the natives whom he and his companions encountered. It was found to be impossible to 'allure them with toys to a commerce,' nor had they any kind of provisions to supply. There was no valuable plunder to be had here, and the pirates were glad to get away after cleaning the ship, mending the sails, and taking aboard fresh water. Dampier, even on this expedition, showed himself many degrees superior to his companions. He was ever an inquirer, and the making of maps and drawings had a continual fascination for him. 'I drew a draft of this land,' he tells us; but he lost it with other papers when a boat was capsized later.

A very strange mistake was made by Dampier about the name of the Land of The Eendragt, which he found upon Dutch charts. As we have seen, the name was that of a ship. But Dampier, in common with most seamen of his period, believed the legends which were current as to there being coasts of lodestone which mysteriously drew ships towards them. In his first volume of VOYAGES, therefore, Dampier referred to the fact that 'the Dutch call part of this coast the land of the indraught,' because it 'magically drew ships too fast to it.'

The importance of this first acquaintance of Dampier with Australia lay in the schemes which he evolved as the result of it. When he returned to England he published an account of his travels, which evoked a large amount of interest, and made him a person of some consequence. Leading men of affairs were glad to converse with him, and he used his opportunities to promote a voyage of discovery to New Holland under his own command. He had influential patrons, the Admiralty were convinced that there was advantage in the project, and in 1699 the ship ROEBUCK was placed at his disposal for the purpose.

In this vessel Dampier made his second and more extensive acquaintance with Australia. Had he carried out his original intention of approaching the country by the route round the Horn and through the Pacific, he would have discovered the east coast, and the importance of the ROEBUCK'S voyage would have been enormously increased. But Dampier himself dreaded the cold of the Horn passage--he had been accustomed to warm seas--and his crew grumbled about having to sail that way. So he chose the route round the Cape of Good Hope, which brought him on to the western coasts of the continent, where the Dutch had been before him.

He made land on August 6 at Shark's Bay, which he so named because his men caught and ate shark there and they took care that no waste should be made, but thought it, as things stood, good entertainment.' The description which Dampier gave in the book published after his return was the best account of New Holland made available up to his time. True, he did not find the country in any way attractive. 'If it were not for that sort of pleasure which results from the discovery even of the barrenest spot upon the globe, this coast of New Holland would not have charmed me much.' The natives were utterly repellent. They were black, ugly, fly-blown, blinking creatures, the most unpleasing human beings he had ever encountered, 'though I have seen a great variety of savages.'

Dampier was four months on the west and north-west coasts, which he traversed for a thousand miles, but he did not see anything encouraging. Then, 'it being the height of the dry season, and my men growing scorbutic for want of refreshments, so that I had little encouragement to search further, I resolved to leave this coast.' The end of the voyage was unfortunate, for the ship, a thoroughly rotten old craft, was wrecked on the way home, and the commander had nothing to report to the Admiralty that was likely to induce the making of colonisation experiments in Australia.

After Dampier, Australia remained in obscurity for nearly three quarters of a century. The Dutch had no use for it, and the English betrayed no more than a languid curiosity concerning it. A few romancers allowed their imagination to weave fantastic fables about it. The best-known example is that of Swift, who printed a map with GULLIVER'S TRAVELS showing the position of Lilliput where Gulliver was wrecked, corresponding precisely with the south-west coast of Australia. Swift copied his map from Dampier, and makes Gulliver say that he was a cousin of that adventurous buccaneer.

The veil is lifted again by the appearance in these seas of one of the great navigators of history, James Cook.

In the year 1769 there would occur an astronomical event of which the Royal Society of London desired that careful observation should be made. The orbit of the planet Venus would cross the face of the sun, and the phenomenon could be watched in particularly favourable circumstances in the south seas. The Society therefore requested the Admiralty to furnish a ship to go south, equipped with trained observers and instruments, to watch this interesting transit of Venus. The request was granted, a collier called the EARL OF PEMBROKE, 370 tons, was bought for 2,800 pounds, she was renamed the ENDEAVOUR BARK, and was re-fitted for the special service for which she was commissioned.

James Cook, who was selected to command the expedition, had already won the confidence of the Admiralty by some excellent charting work which he had done in the St. Lawrence, at Newfoundland, and at Labrador. His rank in the Navy when he made this famous voyage was lieutenant, though he will always be known as Captain Cook; and the vessel was officially entered as the ENDEAVOUR BARK to distinguish her from another ship of the Navy called the ENDEAVOUR, though history knows but one of that name. The voyage evoked unusual interest; the poet Goldsmith referred to it in the prologue to a play:

In these bold times when Learning's sons explore The distant climate and the savage shore; When wise astronomers to India steer, And quit for Venus many a brighter here.

Cook's instructions directed him to sail to Tahiti, in the Pacific, to enable the transit of Venus to be observed, and then 'to prosecute the design of making discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean by proceeding to the south as far as the latitude of 40 degrees.' That meant that he was to search for the supposed Terra Australis Incognita, the great continent which some believed to extend round the pole. If he found no land there, he was to sail to New Zealand, explore it, and then return to England 'by such route as I should think proper.' So that he was not expressly instructed to explore New Holland. He was given a free hand to make such investigations as might seem to him to be advantageous, after completing the specified programme.

The voyage commenced on August 26, 1768, and the transit of Venus was successfully observed on June 1, 1769. It is from that point that Cook's movements become historically interesting. He ran south to look for the supposed continent, but, finding no land, made for New Zealand, where he remained, charting and exploring, for nearly six months. Cook demonstrated that that country consisted of two large islands, divided by a strait, and he charted the whole of it, doing this work so well, despite the difficulty of surveying a rough coast from a ship like the ENDEAVOUR, that a later French navigator, passing along the coast with Cook's chart in hand, confessed that 'I found it of an exactitude and of a thoroughness of detail which astonished me beyond all power of expression.' His circumnavigation of both islands demolished the theory which many had entertained before his time, that the land discovered by Tasman would be found to be a fragment of a great antarctic continent.

After leaving New Zealand, on March 31, 1770, Cook decided to sail for the east coast of New Holland, that east coast which the Dutch had never explored, and which was not laid down upon any mariner's chart. Cook knew that there was original work to do there. Obviously, as the west coast of New Holland had been so well known to navigators from the Netherlands, there must be an east coast also. Cook was certainly unaware of the existence of any maps suggesting the possibility that the Portuguese had been upon this coast more than two centuries before. Nor is it true that his discovery was a happy accident, as has sometimes been represented. His own words prove that his purpose was deliberately shaped. He resolved to sail westward from New Zealand 'until we fall in with the east coast of New Holland, and then to follow the direction of that coast to the northward, or what other direction it might take us, until we arrive at its northern extremity.' The plan could hardly have been laid down in clearer terms.

At six o'clock in the morning on Thursday, April 20, Lieutenant Hicks, who was on watch, sighted the coast of New Holland. The date given in Cook's log and journal is April 19, but it must be remembered that, Australia having been approached by sailing west from Europe, round Cape Horn, ship's time was out of relation to Greenwich time, and Cook had not so far made a correction. He did not correct his time till he arrived at Batavia. Moreover, he dated events in the nautical manner of reckoning, and the nautical day began at noon. The date given in his log is therefore a day behind the civil calendar,

There is also some doubt about the exact locality of Cook's Australian landfall. He named the 'southernmost point of land we had in sight,' Point Hicks, because 'Lieutenant Hicks was the first who discovered this country.' But unfortunately Cook stated the latitude and longitude of his Point Hicks incorrectly. He wrote that he 'judged' the point to be where as a matter of fact there is no land at all, but only open ocean. We have therefore to infer what Cook's Point Hicks was from his descriptive words. The 'southernmost point' in sight of the ENDEAVOUR at the time was that which figures on Admiralty charts as Cape Everard.

Rounding Cape Howe, the ENDEAVOUR sailed north along the east coast, and on Sunday, April 30 (April 29 by Cook's log) anchored in Botany Bay at three o'clock in the afternoon. There was a tradition in Cook's family that the first to land was his wife's cousin, Isaac Smith, who sailed as a midshipman. The lad went in the boat from the ship to the shore, and as the prow ran up the beach, Cook said, 'Now then, Isaac, you go first.' The name originally given to the place was Stingray Harbour, but afterwards, in consequence of the number of new plants collected by the botanists, it was called Botany Bay; and it appears under that name in Cook's charts. Joseph Banks, who, with the professional botanist Solander, was responsible for these collections, recorded that they were 'immensely large,' and they evoked so much interest in Europe that the great Swedish botanist Linnaeus wrote that 'the new-found country ought to be called Banksia.' A stay of a week was made in the harbour. The ship then continued her voyage northward, past the entrance to Port Jackson (which was marked down and named after George Jackson, an Admiralty official), and so on for nearly four months of difficult navigation along a totally unknown coast which Cook was confident no European had ever seen before.

Cook did not claim that he accomplished a feat of discovery when he took his ship through Endeavour Strait. The authentic record of Torres' voyage was found in the Spanish archives at Manilla in 1762; but, though Cook had not seen a translation of it at this time, he knew that the matter of the separation of New Guinea was by many regarded as uncertain. So he cautiously wrote that 'as I believe it was known before, but not publicly, I claim no other merit than the clearing up of a doubtful point.' After threading his way through the labyrinth of reefs and islands, and getting into safe water, Cook landed at Possession Island on August 23 (by the log August 22), and 'took possession of the whole eastern coast by the name of New Wales,' or, as he wrote in a letter and in two copies of his journal, 'New South Wales.'

During his next voyage in the RESOLUTION (1772-4) Cook paid another visit to New Zealand, but did not on this occasion approach the coast of Australia. He was inclined to settle the question whether Van Diemen's Land was an island or part of the mainland. But he was deterred from so doing by the advice of Furneaux, the commander of the ADVENTURE, which accompanied him on this voyage. Furneaux had become separated from the RESOLUTION during rough weather, and, in making for Queen Charlotte's Sound, New Zealand, which had been fixed upon as a rendezvous, had actually sailed in the eastern entrance of the strait which divides Australia from Tasmania. But he reported his conviction that New Holland was not divided at that point, and Cook, believing him, was deprived of the honour of discovering the southern coasts of Australia, as he would undoubtedly have done had he acted on his own impulse.

The VOYAGES OF CAPTAIN COOK were the most popular books of the kind ever published up to his time. The freshness of the scenes described, the wonder of the discoveries made, the fulness and clearness of observation displayed, the vital and attractive personality revealed by the writings, made the volumes delightful for youthful and mature minds alike. They were translated into many languages. Kings and cabin-boys came under their spell. Louis XVI of France and Napoleon the Great read them, in common with poor lads who could only borrow them for a few hours' enchantment. It has often been written that Cook 'discovered Australia,' and the statement is not infrequently repeated nowadays, when there are so many reasons for knowing better. Literally, of course, it is not true; but in a deeper sense it is. The Dutch had indeed found and mapped portions of the continent, but all their reports about it were repellent. Cook's, however, were alluring. He saw the country in what he truly described as a pure state of nature. 'The industry of man has had nothing to do with any part of it, and yet we find all such things as nature hath bestowed upon it in a flourishing state. In this extensive country it can never be doubted but what most sorts of grain, fruit, roots, etc., of every kind, would flourish were they once brought hither, planted, and cultivated by the hands of industry; and here is provender for more cattle, at all seasons of the year, than ever can be brought into the country.'

So that Cook not only discovered the entire east coast of the continent--and that was a larger piece of geographical discovery, made at one time, than has ever been achieved by one navigator before or since--but he discovered its abounding possibilities as a place for the habitation of civilized mankind. That was the most splendid result of his great voyage of 1770.

 

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CHAPTER IV

 

THE FOUNDATION OF SYDNEY

 

Effect of the revolt of the American colonies--The problem of the loyalists--Stoppage of the transportation of criminals to America--Banks suggests founding a convict settlement in New Holland--Matra's plan-- Young's plan--Determination of Government to establish a settlement in New Holland--Pitt's policy--Phillip appointed Governor--Sailing of the First Fleet--Phillip rejects Botany Bay and selects Port Jackson-- Laperouse in Botany Bay--Phillip's task and its performance--His faith in the future--His retirement.

Just as the discoveries made by the Dutch upon the west and north coasts of Australia were closely connected with the Reformation in Europe, so the settlement established by the English at Port Jackson in 1788 was related to other events of great importance in world history.

The War of Independence which resulted from the revolt of the American colonies ended in 1782; and it produced two kinds of complications, both of which turned the attention of British ministers to the vast empty continent in the south seas. The first was the question of the American loyalists; of those colonists who had remained faithful to the British connection during the dark days of the war, and were now in dire straits. The triumphant Americans behaved very harshly towards fellow-countrymen who had fought against them. Their property was confiscated, debts owing to them could not be recovered, and thousands of them were driven from the land. The greater number of the loyalists, over 50,000, went to Canada, Nova Scotia, and the West Indies, but many accompanied the British troops to England at the conclusion of the war. Most of these were herded together in utter destitution in London, and what to do with them was a problem which the Government had to face.

The second complication rose out of the unsettlement of the English penal system by the stoppage of the transportation of convicts to America. It had been the regular practice during the eighteenth century to ship large numbers of offenders against the law to the colonies. There was such an eager demand for labour there that contractors were willing to take convicts at no expense to the Government, knowing that they could sell them to planters for as much as 20 pounds per head. Between 1717 and the War of Independence at least 50,000 English convicts were received into America. Several colonies protested against the traffic, and their legislatures even passed laws to put an end to it, but in such instances the home Government exercised its power of vetoing colonial statutes.

Now that America had separated from the British Empire this means of disposing of criminals was no longer available. But the English law still prescribed transportation as a punishment, and judges continued to inflict such sentences. The prisons were wholly insufficient to hold the condemned persons. Edmund Burke, speaking in Parliament in 1786, said that the jails were crowded beyond measure. 'There was a house in London which consisted at this time of just 558 members; he did not mean the House of Commons, though the numbers were alike in both, but the jail of Newgate.' Reform in one, he added, would not be less agreeable than reform in the other. Thousands of prisoners were crowded into wretchedly insanitary hulks which were purchased to serve as receptacles. Every month saw more and more sentences of transportation inflicted, more hulks filled with offenders, and still there was no place to which they could be exiled. There were said to be 100,000 persons in England under sentence of transportation. That must have been an exaggeration; but still, the problem was acute. The Government caused an examination to be made of sites in Southwest Africa, where it was suggested that penal settlements might be founded. Some hundreds of convicts were in fact landed in Africa, but the places chosen were simply abodes of plague, pestilence, and famine, Burke eloquently asked the Government how they could reconcile it with justice that persons whom the rigour of the law had spared from death 'should after a mock display of mercy be compelled to undergo it by being sent to a country where they could not live, and where the manner of the death might be singularly horrid; so that the apparent mercy of transporting those wretched people to Africa might with justice be called cruelty--the gallows of England would rid them of their lives in a far less dreadful manner than the climate or the savages of Africa would take them.'

Thus the problem of settling the American loyalists and that of dealing. with the convicts occupied the attention of the Cabinet of William Pitt at the same time.

Sir Joseph Banks was the first to make the suggestion that in New Holland could be found a suitable place for convict settlement. In 1779 he gave evidence before a committee of the House of Commons appointed to consider the convict question; and he then recommended that Botany Bay would be 'best adapted' for the purpose. He remembered Botany Bay with pleasure because of the plants he had collected there. But the Government was too much engaged with other pressing business at that time to act upon the suggestion.

Four years later another man, a Corsican who had been with Cook in the ENDEAVOUR, directed attention to the suitableness of Botany Bay with a view of relieving the Government of their second embarrassment. James Maria Matra, in a letter to Lord Sydney, Secretary of State for the Home Department, in 1783, pointed out that the distress of the American loyalists might be relieved by sending them out to populate the empty spaces of New Holland. There was plenty of room for them; there was scope for commerce with India, China, and Japan; and they might, under British protection, build up in the south estates and fortunes to replace those of which they had been deprived in America. The subject had been discussed with some of the Americans, who agreed that the proposal offered the most favourable prospects that had yet occurred to promote their happiness.

Lord Sydney had an interview with Matra, and discussed the scheme with him. It would seem that he viewed the convict trouble as more serious than that affecting the loyalists, and Matra saw that he would be more likely to attain the settlement of New Holland by amending his scheme. He therefore added to it a postscript, wherein he pointed out that in New Holland there were abundant possibilities for the founding of a colony for the reception of convicts.

In 1785 Admiral Sir George Young submitted to the Government a detailed plan for the settlement of both loyalists and convicts in New South Wales. The fact that New Holland was such a long distance from Europe appeared to him to be a particularly strong argument in favour of it. He thought that, by sending the convicts there, England would get rid of them 'for ever.'

The failures on the west coast of Africa and the arguments in favour of New Holland induced the Government in 1786 to resolve to make an experiment in this country; and the King's speech to Parliament in January 1787 definitely announced that a plan had been formed for transporting a number of convicts 'in order to remove the inconvenience which arose from the crowded state of the jails in different parts of the kingdom.' About the fate of the loyalists nothing was said. The Government missed the opportunity of conferring advantages upon a number of people who had brought distress upon themselves by following their consciences in supporting a losing side, and at the same time of peopling a new country with a stock experienced in colonization.

It would be pleasant if we could attribute to so great a man as Pitt the vision of a far-seeing Imperial statesmanship in the deciding of this issue; but in truth there is no evidence that he had even a glimmering idea that England was founding a great new nation in the southern seas. He was a practical politician immersed in the problems and perplexities of the hour. One of the vexing questions confronting his Cabinet was that of the disposal of the felons, and the Minister responsible, Lord Sydney, recommended the plan of sending them to New Holland. Pitt assented, and showed just such a measure of interest in the project as the head of a Government might be expected to take in a scheme projected by a colleague. Once, in the House of Commons, he apologized for not having furnished some information about transportation which had been asked for on the ground of 'a very great hurry of public business.' On another occasion he defended the scheme because 'in point of expense no cheaper mode of disposing of the convicts could be found.' 'No cheaper mode'--there was no imperial imagination in that; but it was eminently practical. It would have been eternally to Pitt's honour if, remembering the plight of the American loyalists, he had given precedence to their claims, and had heeded the warning of Bacon that 'it is a shameful and unblessed thing to take the scum of people and wicked condemned men to be the people with whom you plant.' But he was not consciously planting a colony so much as disposing of a difficulty. Yet, if we estimate the importance of political things by their endurance, their ultimate value, their large and expanding effect upon human affairs, the founding of New South Wales was the most important of all the policies taken in hand by Pitt's Government at this time. Out of the settlement authorised in 1786 grew the Commonwealth of Australia.

It is very remarkable that, even after the new colony had been founded, the Government had not entirely abandoned the sending of convicts elsewhere. It had not apparently made up its mind that Botany Bay was to be the only receptacle. The correspondence of Grenville, Pitt's Foreign Minister, contains a letter written by him as late as November 1789, wherein he said (DROPMORE PAPERS, vol. i. p. 543). 'The landing convicts in the territories of the United States, even if the masters of the ships perform their contracts for so doing, is an act highly offensive to a country now foreign and independent; and as such very improper for this Government to authorise. And it is, besides, an act of extreme cruelty to the convicts, who, being turned ashore without any of the necessaries of life, are either left to starve, or (as has sometimes been the case) are massacred by the inhabitants. And as to transporting to the King's American colonies, you may depend upon it that, after the example set them by Admiral Milbanke, none of our governors will suffer any of these people to be landed in their governments.' The case referred to by Grenville related to the sending of eighty Irish convicts to Newfoundland, where the Governor, Milbanke, refused to allow them to land, ignoring an Irish Act of Parliament of 1786 which authorised the sending of convicts to America or to such place out of Europe as should be appointed. The significant fact is that these Irish convicts were sent to Newfoundland after the new colony in Australia had been established.

Arthur Phillip, a captain in the Navy, was selected to be the first Governor of New South Wales, the limits of which were stated by his commission to extend from Cape York to the southern extremity of the country, and westward as far as the 135th degree of longitude. The territory thus defined embraced about one-half of the continent, and it did not include any of the western portion which the Dutch had named New Holland. Indeed, at this time it was not known that the country was one great island. Many considered that a strait would be found dividing New Holland from New South Wales. The Government may well have considered that they were acting with caution in placing the western boundary of the colony at the 135th degree. There was no desire as yet to appropriate the whole of Australia.

On May 13, 1787, the 'First Fleet 'sailed from England. It consisted of the SIRIUS, the SUPPLY, three store ships, and six transports carrying the convicts: eleven vessels in all. Phillip arrived in Botany Bay on January 18, 1788, and two days later the whole of the ships were safely at anchor there. The total company which arrived was over 1,000. The staff of officers, marines, and extra hands, with women and children, numbered 290, and the convicts who reached Botany Bay were 717, of whom 520 were males. This was the stock with which the new colony was settled.

An examination of Botany Bay speedily convinced Phillip that the place was unsuitable. The openness of the bay, the inferior quality of the soil, and the swamps with which the coastal land was surrounded, would have made settlement there unsuccessful. Phillip therefore determined to go north and inspect Port Jackson, the harbour which Cook had marked down upon his chart, but had not entered, There his seaman's eye was delighted with the prospect, and his administrative intelligence perceived that the required conditions were fully met. He found what he described as 'the finest harbour in the world, in which a thousand sail of the line may ride in the most perfect security,' and a deep cove in proximity to a supply of fresh water. To this he gave the name of Lord Sydney; and it became for many years to come the place of exile of many thousands of offenders who, as the poet Campbell wrote, were 'doom'd the long isles of Sydney Cove to see.' A little later Phillip found a place which he considered worthy to bear the name of the Prime Minister. To the north of Port Jackson he entered Broken Bay, and there looked upon 'the finest piece of water I ever saw, and which I honoured with the name of Pittwater.'

The position chosen by Phillip was in every way worthy of the enthusiastic praise which he bestowed upon it. It lay upon the south side of a great sheet of water, which, broken into many deep and sheltered bays, and surrounded by timbered terraces, was beautiful to the eye, and offered illimitable scope as a seat of commerce. The shores had a deep-water frontage of 200 miles. In 'the dark backward and abysm of time' it had been the estuary of a river flowing into the ocean many miles east of the present coastline, but the sinking of the floor of the sea in the course of ages had brought it to its present level, and made it a many-fronded harbour.

While the First Fleet was lying at anchor in Botany Bay, just after the return of the Governor from Port Jackson, two strange vessels were seen approaching. Their appearance aroused much curiosity. Seine thought they might be Dutchmen prepared to dispute the landing of the British, and speculated as to whether there would have to be a fight. Phillip guessed that they were French exploring ships under the command of the Comte de Laperouse, and he proved to be right. He was at that time, on the morning of January 24, making plans for transferring his whole company to the site, which he had chosen at Sydney Cove, and did not consider it expedient to wait for the strangers, but hurried off to complete his preparations.

Laperouse brought his two vessels into Botany Bay, and came to anchor there just as Captain Hunter of the SIRIUS, whom Phillip had left in charge, was sailing out. The reason for the visit of the French to Botany Bay is quite clear from the letters and journals of Laperouse. He had been pursuing discovery work in the Pacific, and at one of the islands of the Samoa group two boats' crews had met with disaster. They had all been massacred by natives, and the long-boats had been smashed. Laperouse carried in the holds of his ships the frames and planks of two new boats, and desired to find a quiet harbour where he could fit them together. He wished to avoid a landing at any South Sea island where natives might be encountered, because his men were very angry about the loss of their companions, and if there had been another encounter, with loss of life, he would have been left with insufficient strength for the manning of both his ships, and would have been compelled to beach and destroy one of them. Having been a close student of the voyages of Cook, he remembered that navigator's description of Botany Bay, and decided to go there and build his new long-boats. The idea that Laperouse entertained any intention of claiming the place for the French, or of founding a settlement anywhere, is pure fable. The French remained in Botany Bay till March 10, on excellent terms with the British officers who visited them, and then sailed again into the Pacific, to meet their death upon the coral reefs of Vanicoro.

On January 26 Phillip unfurled the British flag at Sydney with simple ceremony, the King's health was drunk, and work began. The process of clearing the ground and erecting shelters was taken in hand with the utmost vigour. The Governor himself, while the work progressed, lived in a small canvas house which was neither wind nor water proof. The officers, marines, and convicts camped in tents made principally from old sail-cloth which had been brought from England for the purpose. Spaces were cleared for the sowing of corn, trees were cut down for the building of wooden huts, stores were landed from the ships, labour was organized for shaping a disciplined community out of fractious elements and replacing wild forest and scrub with a planned, orderly township. On February 7 the Governor's commission was read, and he took the oaths required by law before an assemblage of the whole population, civil, military, and convicts. One of the oaths which he was required to take was that abjuring the Pretender. This was the last occasion when it was taken by a Governor within the British Empire, for Charles Edward Stuart had died on January 31, 1788, a week before Phillip solemnly abjured him and his claims to the British throne.

To few men has been given so great an opportunity as that which fell to Arthur Phillip. He was the founder of a new European State in a land where civilized man had never lived before. There was not one among all the subjects of King George III whose place in history was more assured than his. The ambition to live in the memory of posterity for ages is common among mankind. Monuments of bronze and marble, public bequests and endowments, gifts and foundations, are favourite modes of cheating oblivion; and the age in which this history was being worked out saw many great reputations made and many efforts to perpetuate fame by various means. But who amongst them all did a piece of work to compare with Phillip's? And who amongst them all overcame such difficulties with such imperfect material, and reaped so small a material reward?

The difficulties arose chiefly from the character of the men with whom he had to work, and the irregularity and insufficiency of the supplies while the infant colony was dependent upon outside resources. The very defects which had made many of the convicts offenders against the law at home made them a wretchedly inefficient stock with which to found a colony. They were lazy and incapable. 'Numbers of them have been brought up from their infancy in such indolence that they would starve if left to themselves' Phillip reported. As more convicts were sent out he had to complain that the healthy and those who were masters of trades were retained in English prisons, whilst the useless were transported. 'The sending out of the disordered and helpless clears the jails and may ease the parishes from which they are sent,' Philip wrote, 'but it is obvious that this settlement, instead of being a colony which is to support itself, will, if the practice be continued, remain for years a burden to the mother-country.' He laboured to encourage his colonists to reform by granting liberal concessions to the deserving; and he pleaded with the Government to send out also honest, intelligent settlers, whose example might act as an incentive. 'We shall want some good characters to whom these people might look up.'

The difficulty as to supplies was constant during the first few years of settlement. The colony was dependent upon provisions sent from England, and a mishap to a single supply ship meant imminent starvation. There were times when the labourers complained of hunger when called forth to their work. In March 1792 Phillip stated that his community had been on a reduced ration since November 1789, a period of over two years; and if a ship became overdue, people were alarmed at the prospect of supplies failing. At another time he had to send 200 to Norfolk Island--where a settlement had been founded in 1788--to relieve the pressure upon the resources of Sydney. The livestock in the beginning increased very slowly; many cattle died from disease; ants and field-mice ate the seed-corn; the rice went bad, but had to be eaten nevertheless. During times of distress Phillip added his own private store of provisions to the common stock, and did not permit himself to receive more than the ordinary ration which was received by all alike.

Moreover, with the menace of positive starvation stretching its shadow over the settlement, with wretched human material to use, with the feeling which must have been often with him that the home Government looked upon Sydney as little better than a rubbish-tip, Phillip not only never lost heart, but never wavered in his view of the essential nobility of his mission. Others might despair of the future of the colony; he never did. One of his officers wrote that it would be cheaper 'to feed the convicts on turtle and venison at the London Tavern than to be at the expense of sending them here.' But we never find that note struck in Phillip's letters and despatches. For him there was no doubt of the future. At the end of a despatch wherein he had had to chronicle the loss of cattle, conflicts with savages, insufficiency of food, illness among the convicts, and even earthquake, he trumpeted his conviction as to the future, 'Nor do I doubt but that this country will prove the most valuable acquisition Great Britain ever made.' 'I am serving my country and serving the cause of humanity,' he said in another despatch.

Apart from the occupation of Norfolk Island there was a little extension of settlement during Phillip's governorship. The first township out of Sydney was established at Parramatta, at first called Rose Hill, where farming was encouraged and the experiment was tried of placing industrious convicts on land with the promise that, if they behaved well, free grants should be made to them.

Before Phillip resigned office he had the satisfaction of seeing close upon 2,000 acres of land under cultivation at Parramatta. Indeed, the soil along the Parramatta River was so good that he acknowledged that, if he had seen it when first looking for a site, he might have been induced to make the main settlement there.

Late in 1792, just as he saw the colony approaching to a state of self-dependence in the production of the necessaries of life, ill-health compelled Phillip to resign his governorship and return to England. He left in December of that year, hoping to be able to resume the work at a later date. But he did not see Sydney Cove again, and he died at Bath in 1814, slipping out of life so quietly that his burial-place was not discovered till over eighty years afterwards.

 

^Home

CHAPTER VII

 

FURTHER EXPLORATIONS

 

Attempts to cross the Blue Mountains--Blaxland's success--Evans discovers the Bathurst Plains--Voyages of Bass and Flinders in the TOM THUMB--Bass discovers coal--Discovery of Bass Strait and Westernport--Bass and Flinders circumnavigate Tasmania in the NORFOLK--End of Bass--Voyage of the LADY NELSON--Murray discovers Port Phillip-- Flinders's voyage in the INVESTIGATOR--Discovery of Spencer's and St. Vincent's Gulfs and Kangaroo Island--Meeting with Baudin in Encounter Bay--Circumnavigation of Australia--The name Australia--Flinders in Mauritius--His liberation and death.

The settlement at Port Jackson, together with its extensions at Parramatta and on the Hawkesbury River, occupied an area which, compared with the total bulk of Australia, was but an insignificant fragment. It was not so large as is the island of Corsica in comparison with the size of Europe. What the continent was like, even in outline, was not known until fifteen years after the First Fleet arrived. That it was a continent at all, and not a cluster of islands, was not known. That Van Diemen's Land was isolated was not known. What the inland territory was like was not known. There was an immense field of labour for explorers to cover, both by sea and land.

The first problem of exploration which occupied attention was that of finding a way across the mountains into the heart of the country. The interior of New South Wales is an immense plain. Ages ago there were mountains upon it. The sea covered a large part of it. But the hills have been worn down, dissolved, washed away and spread out by the rains and the floods of millions of years. For it must be remembered that, although Australia was the latest of the continents to be discovered and peopled by the white race, it is geologically an inconceivably ancient land. It is full of the stumps of old mountains, once ten or twenty thousand feet high, which have been ground away by water and weather much as a sugar-loaf might be reduced by rubbing away its top and sides. Upon the interior plains there are great stretches of soil as level as a bowling-green, through which you can bore for hundreds of feet without striking any rock. This plain comes to an end at the slopes of the range of mountains which, like vertebrae, stretch north and south from Cape York to Wilson's Promontory. There are gaps between, but the dividing line of the mountains is well marked throughout. In some places they oppose a stubborn barrier to a crossing.

The difficulty experienced in traversing this range did not consist in the height of the mountains. They run up to seven thousand feet (Mount Kosciusco attains 7,328 and Mount Townsend 7,238), but the section lying at the back of Sydney does not exceed 4,500 feet. The difficulty lay in the tumbled, chaotic fashion in which these hills, or rather, this broken plateau of sandstone, was found to crumple into deep, sheer precipices, open into impenetrable gorges, fling rocky ribs athwart the gaps, and toss tree-crested ridges one behind the other defiantly. The explorer pushed up a valley, and found that it ended in a rugged wall with trees above him; he pursued the line of a spur, and found himself peering over the edge of a ravine with trees below him. There seemed to be no valley leading through.

East of this mass lay the somewhat narrow and wrinkled slope fringing the sea, where Sydney was situated. To the early inhabitants, the distant mountains, wrapped in an atmosphere of perpetual purple, were a region of mystery, to many a gateway of hope; to some they proved a lure to delusion and death. They were so blue, and so soft to the distant view, that a superstition sprang up that delectable lands lay on the farther side of them; so that Governor King, after some had perished, had to issue an order denouncing the story as being 'as wicked as it is false, and calculated to bring the believers in it to destruction.'

With the extension of settlement it became a matter of necessity to penetrate beyond the mountains; but apart from this there were adventurous spirits to whom the exploration had attractions for its own sake. Captain William Paterson, in 1793, led a party of Scottish Highlanders to the attack; in 1794 Henry Hacking made an attempt; in 1796, Surgeon George Bass took rope ladders and grappling-irons for a vigorous assault; in 1804 George Cayley described an attempt which he led as being like travelling 'over the tops of houses in a town,' and, though himself a man of remarkable bodily strength and enthusiasm, and having with him a good equipment and 'the strongest men in the colony to assist him,' had to admit that he was beaten. After receiving Cayley's report, Governor King confessed that perseverance in an endeavour to cross such 'a confused and barren assemblage of mountains with impassable chasms between would be as chimerical as useless.' Even the crows which Cayley's party saw seemed to them to bear an appearance of having lost their way.'

It was not until 1813 that Gregory Blaxland, Lieutenant Lawson, and a young student, William Charles Wentworth, starting from near Penrith, cut their way through the thick scrub and timber, scrambled and clambered with slow and toilsome steps for fifteen days along the range towards Mount York, and, skirting that obstacle, saw the great green Bathurst Plains lying west of them. They knew that they had conquered the task at which others had failed so signally that a tradition of insuperableness had grown up about it; and it was with the pen of one who knew the joy of discovery that Wentworth, three years later, in competing for a Cambridge prize for poetry, described how

As a meteor shoots athwart the night The boundless champaign burst upon our sight, Till, nearer seen, the beauteous landscape grew, Opening like Canaan on rapt Israel's view.

The route found by Blaxland and his companions was followed up by Surveyor G. W. Evans, who descended the range on the far side, traversed the plains to a point beyond Bathurst, and returned with the glad tidings that the country across the mountains was equal to every demand that could be made for the extension of pasture land and tillage for centuries to come. These endeavours to master the Blue Mountains were the precursors of many long inland journeys which made the story of the exploration of Australia a romance tinged with tragedy.

The series of voyages by which the discovery of the continent by sea was completed centres around the person of Matthew Flinders. This celebrated navigator came out to Australia as a midshipman on the RELIANCE, the vessel commissioned to convey Governor Hunter to New South Wales in 1795. The ship's surgeon, George Bass, was animated by an eager spirit, and his intellectual interest in the geographical problems which then awaited solution was very keen. Flinders and Bass, both Lincolnshire men, became close friends during the voyage, and laid their plans for pursuing a course of discovery together.

Bass had brought out from England with him a tiny boat which he called the TOM THUMB. She had only an eight-foot keel with a five-foot beam--a mere tub of a boat. Yet, having no better craft available, the two friends took her for a cruise out of Port Jackson shortly after their arrival. They explored the George's River, and presented to the Governor so good a report of what they found that he established Bankstown there. A few months later (March 1796) Bass and Flinders, in a second TOM THUMB, built in Sydney, again sailed out of harbour, and ran south to Port Hacking, which they explored. It was an exceedingly adventurous cruise, calling for all the seamanship of which the two friends were capable. Several times they were nearly capsized, and only saved themselves by the most dextrous management. Falling amidst a party of aboriginals upon the banks of a small stream, where they had landed to make some repairs and to dry their powder in the sun, Flinders amused them by clipping their hair and beards with a large pair of scissors, while Bass attended to the mending operations and filled the casks with fresh water.

The taste of exploration obtained upon these two cruises whetted the appetite of Bass and Flinders, who were fully aware of the valuable discovery work remaining to be done upon the Australian coast; and the keenness they showed in the tasks they set themselves induced Governor Hunter to encourage them in further enterprises of a like character. Ships' duties, however, prevented Flinders from accompanying his friend on his next two expeditions. On the first of these Bass discovered coal at the place now called Coalcliff, about twenty miles south of Botany Bay, and was thus the first to direct attention to the presence of coal deposits, which have since yielded an enormous part of the wealth of New South Wales. On the second expedition, in a whaleboat lent to him, with a crew of six bluejackets, by the Governor, Bass rounded the south-east corner of the continent at Cape Howe, entered 'Bass Strait' and discovered Westernport (January 1796), which he named 'from its relative situation to every other known harbour on the coast.' It was, in fact, the most important discovery that had been made since the establishment of settlement in Australia.

Bass's whaleboat voyage showed the old belief that Van Diemen's Land was a southern extension of New Holland to be improbable. He had not, indeed, positively demonstrated the existence of a strait, though the south-westerly swell which rolled in upon Westernport convinced him that there was one. The strait was proved, and Van Diemen's Land was circumnavigated, by Bass and Flinders together in the NORFOLK in 1798. This was the last piece of exploration in which Bass participated. For Flinders, who published an account of the voyage, it was an achievement which brought him under the notice of his English superiors as a navigator of high capacity who was worthy to be entrusted with more important tasks. But Bass, after returning to England, left the Navy, and when he came back to Australia in 1801 it was as part owner of a trading ship, the Venus, carrying a general cargo from which he hoped to derive substantial gains. Being disappointed in this regard, he took his ship, in 1803, on a voyage to the South American coast, whence he never returned. What became of this high-spirited, accomplished, and brilliant man is an unsolved mystery. The probability is that he expected to make a profit from participating in the South American contraband trade, was captured by the Spaniards--at Lima it was said--and kept there until he died. His name lives in that of the strait which he discovered, and in the eulogium written upon him by his affectionate friend and companion in adventure, Flinders, who recorded that Bass's whale boat expedition 'has not perhaps its equal in the annals of maritime history,' and that the man himself had won an honourable place in the list of those whose ardour stands most conspicuous for the promotion of useful knowledge.'

The explorations of Bass and Flinders had been undertaken on their own initiative, in their spare time; but from the beginning of the nineteenth century the task of completing the discovery of Australia was taken in hand systematically. In 1800 a small 60-ton brig, the LADY NELSON, was sent out under the command of Lieutenant James Grant to assist in the work. She had been built to the design of Captain John Schanck, with three sliding centreboard keels, which, by enabling her draft to be lessened in shallow water, would permit her to run close to a coast or into rivers. Grant was instructed to make the voyage to Sydney through Bass Strait, the news of the discovery of that passage having evoked much interest in England. Sighting the Australian coast opposite the present boundary of Victoria and South Australia on December 3, 1800, the LADY NELSON from this point sailed parallel to a country which, as far as Bass's Westernport, was hitherto unknown, and she was the first vessel to pass through the Strait westward.

The LADY NELSON remained in the Australian service throughout her highly adventurous career, until she was captured by pirates in 1825. The most important of the services rendered in her was the discovery of Port Phillip in 1802. Grant had slipped across the opening at the head of which this great bay stands, and there were some who thought that further exploration would reveal the cleavage which was believed to divide New South Wales on the east from New Holland on the west. Under the command of Lieutenant John Murray, the ship was commissioned to pursue detailed investigations on the south coast. A complete survey of Westernport was made, and Murray then sent his mate, Bowen, in the launch to examine the entrance to Port Phillip. Bowen having found a practicable channel, Murray sailed into the great harbour on February 15, 1802. He named it Port King, but the Governor himself changed the name to Port Phillip, after the first ruler of New South Wales.

It is interesting to note that the first newly discovered place in the British dominions where the Union Jack was hoisted was Port Phillip. The union of Great Britain and Ireland had been effected in 1800, and the flag which united the cross of St. Patrick with the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew came into being shortly after. Murray had one with him on the Lady Nelson, and he recorded in his journal that he took possession of the port on March 8--'At eight o'clock in the morning the united colours of the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland were hoisted on board, and at one o'clock, under a discharge of three volleys of small-arms and artillery, the port was taken possession of in the name of his sacred Majesty George the Third.'

Flinders had returned to England in 1800. Largely through the influence of Sir Joseph Banks, he was appointed to the command of the INVESTIGATOR, with instructions to solve the remaining problems affecting the geographical configuration of Australia. The task was fulfilled in a masterly manner. Vigorous, diligent, highly trained for scientific inquiry, with consummate seamanship and wonderful accuracy in detail, Flinders justified his selection not only by the great extent of his discoveries but by producing charts of such excellence that they remain substantially sound and dependable to this day. He arrived upon the Australian coast on December 6, 1801, and anchored in King George's Sound--which had been discovered and named in 1791 by Captain George Vancouver. The whole southern coastline of the continent from the head of the Great Australian Bight to Encounter Bay was discovered and mapped by Flinders. By pursuing Spencer's Gulf and St. Vincent's Gulf to their extremities he demonstrated that there was no strait splitting the country into islands. In the following year, 1803, he circumnavigated Australia in the INVESTIGATOR, and he produced a map of the whole continent showing it to be one vast island.

It was appropriate that the navigator who had done so much should be the man to give to Australia the name which it bears. Flinders pointed out that, inasmuch as the Dutch had known nothing of the eastern coasts, their name, New Holland, could not be properly applied there; whilst Cook's name, New South Wales, could not he attached to the western portion. He did not invent the name Australia, for it had already been suggested as a name for the southern region of the earth lying between and to the south of South Africa and America; but he urged that it 'was necessary to geographical precision that, New Holland and New South Wales having now been demonstrated to be two aspects of the same land, there should be one convenient name for it; and Australia appeared to him to be both a convenient and an agreeable one. Curiously enough, Banks and others opposed the use of it, and Flinders was not allowed to publish the account of his voyage as A VOYAGE TO AUSTRALIA, but as A VOYAGE TO TERRA AUSTRALIS. But the name which be recommended came gradually into general use in consequence of the strong preference for it which he had expressed, though for some years officially New Holland was still employed. In 1817 Governor Macquarie formally requested that in future Australia should be adopted in despatches; and his successor, Brisbane, to whom a daughter was born in Sydney, named her' Eleanor Australia,' to signify his fondness for the name.

The conclusion of the career of Flinders as an explorer was crowded with misfortunes. After the circumnavigation of Australia the INVESTIGATOR, an old ship when she was placed in this service by the Admiralty, was too unseaworthy to permit of her further employment in such researches, and Flinders decided to return to England, publish his charts, and ask for another vessel. Taking a passage in the PORPOISE, he was wrecked on the Barrier Reef, off the Queensland coast. He made his way in a small boat back to Sydney, where Governor King could give him nothing better for making the voyage of 15,000 miles than the CUMBERLAND, a wretched little 29-ton schooner, 'something less than a Gravesend packet boat.' But Flinders determined to match his seamanship and courage against the waves of three oceans in this diminutive craft. He successfully took her through Torres Strait and into the Indian Ocean, but there heavy weather and the failure of one of his pumps compelled him to seek shelter at Mauritius, then a French colony bearing the name of Ile de France.

The military governor of the island, General Decaen, did not believe Flinders's story that he was actually voyaging to Europe in so tiny a ship, and in a flush of anger accused him of being a spy; for Great Britain and France were then at war. Flinders was indignant at being detained, especially as he carried a passport from the French Government guaranteeing protection in French ports. The Governor, however, objected that the passport was granted for the INVESTIGATOR, not for the CUMBERLAND. Decaen modified his demeanour after the first interview, and sent to Flinders an invitation to dinner. But he was irritated by the suspicion of his BONA FIDES expressed by Decaen, and refused to go. The Governor considered his attitude insolent, and resolved to keep him a prisoner until his case had been referred to the French Government. This unfortunate misunderstanding, intensified by the anger of both men, was the cause of the detention of, Flinders in Mauritius for six and a half years. He did not return to England till 1810, and then only sufficient of life was left to him for writing his VOYAGE TO TERRA AUSTRALIS and preparing his splendid atlas of original charts. He died in 1814, on the very day when his book came from the publishers but he was then unconscious and never saw it.

It was long believed that General Decaen did Flinders the further gross wrong of taking from him his papers and drawings and sending them to Paris to be copied, so as to enable the French officers to appropriate to themselves the credit for work which he had done. This charge, indeed, has been expressly made; but there is no justification whatever for it. It is quite certain that the French never saw any of Flinders's charts till he published them. The suspicion, however, was not unnatural, since, in consequence of his long detention the official history of Baudin's discovery expedition was published in Paris seven years before the appearance of Flinders's VOYAGE TO TERRA AUSTRALIS; and it was accompanied by an atlas delineating coasts which Flinders had undoubtedly discovered. But the French had been upon the same coasts after him, and their charts were engraved from the drawings of their own marine surveyors. Naturally the French drawings were 'very like' those of Flinders, as those who launched the charge of plagiarism were quick to point out. But they were 'like' because both had worked upon the same coasts, and a critical comparison reveals sufficient important differences to acquit the French officers of the charge which was somewhat vehemently made against them at the time. No ground for it was given by anything which Flinders said or wrote. He thought that he had been wronged by Decaen, but he was chivalrous towards his enemy, and he was incapable of anything like mean envy in estimating the work of rivals in his own field.

 

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CHAPTER XI

 

THE PROBLEM OF THE RIVERS

 

Oxley's explorations on the Lachlan and the Macquarie--Immigration policy--Oxley in Moreton Bay--Foundation of Brisbane--Lockyer explores the Brisbane River--Explorations of Hume and Hovell--Alan Cunningham explores the Liverpool Range--Sturt's explorations--He discovers the Darling--Discovery of the Murray--Its exploration to the sea--The naming of the Murray--Mitchell discovers Australia Felix--The Hentys at Portland.

The discovery of a practical route across the Blue Mountains opened the interior of Australia, first to exploration and secondly to settlement. Often the early settler was himself an explorer; for, whilst the names of some men who undertook long and hazardous journeys with the specific object of investigation stand out on the records of history, there were hundreds who contributed to the work of discovery by the process of seeking for good pasturage and watercourses. A great void continent wherein there was not a yard of cultivated land beyond the limits of the small east-coast colony and its few offshoots, awaited revelation. That it was a continent was now known; Flinders had shattered the theory that it was a group of islands. But little more than that was known till after 1813. An area of 2,983,200 square miles, full of incalculable possibilities, lay, as it had lain for an eternity, remote and unavailable, the inviolate sanctuary of 'cenotaphs of species dead elsewhere.'

George Evans, the Deputy Surveyor-General, showed what might be expected when, following up the path cleared by Blaxland, Lawson, and Wentworth, he discovered the Macquarie and Lachlan Rivers watering the rich Bathurst Plains. In 1815 the town of Bathurst was founded, the first inland town in Australia. Governor Macquarie utilised convict labour to construct a good road across the mountains to this new centre of activity.

From this time commenced a series of explorations which rapidly revealed the inland geography of the continent. The first important name in the story is that of John Oxley. He was a naval officer who had secured the Surveyor-Generalship on the recommendation of Flinders, and who, being young and energetic, was not content to confine himself to his Sydney office, but desired to take the lead in discovery. The problem to which he directed his attention was the course of the two rivers which had been named after the Governor, the Lachlan and the Macquarie. They rose in the Blue Mountains; Evans, had traced them for a few miles; they ran westerly; but whither? It took over twenty years fully to discover that these, and a wonderful spread of watercourses of which they formed part, were contributors to the immense basin of the Murray, which, with its principal tributary the Darling, makes one of the great river systems of the world.

On his journey of 1817 Oxley followed the windings of the Lachlan for hundreds of miles over a dead level plain, through shallow, reedy lagoons, and finally to a point where the river became a succession of stagnant pools leading to a mere damp depression in the earth. The volume of water which had borne his boats in the upper reaches had been sucked up by the spongy soil before it reached the Murrumbidgee. Oxley had, in fact, made an astonished acquaintance with that strange phenomenon of Australia, where nature starts many a fine river but gives it no firm channel wherein to flow, so that the water evaporates from the intense heat of the plains, or percolates into the earth and perhaps helps to fill those subterranean cauldrons of rock which modern pastoralists have learnt to tap with artesian bores.

In the watershed of the Macquarie, which was explored after the baffling adventures on the Lachlan, Oxley found 'a country of running waters, on every hill a spring and in every valley a rivulet.' The prospects were so inviting that he led a second expedition to investigate this river in 1818. But here again a broad, deep, vigorously flowing stream flattered the travellers at the beginnings of their journey, and mocked them by disappearing after carrying their boats for about a hundred and fifty miles. It flowed over a great plain, maintained its current through a chain of sprawling pools, and then, as Oxley recorded, 'without any previous change in the breadth, depth, and rapidity of the stream, and when I was sanguine in the expectation of soon entering the long-sought-for lake, it all at once eluded our further pursuit by spreading at all points from north-west to north-east over the plains of reed that surrounded us, the river decreasing in depth from upwards of twenty feet to less than five feet and flowing over a bottom of tenacious blue mud.'

On his return journey to Sydney across the Liverpool Plains, Oxley and his party crossed twelve rivers, including the Castlereagh and the Namoi (or Peel). The whole of them had their origin on the west side of the mountains, and flowed inland. What became of them on occasions when their channels carried a full flood of water through their entire length, instead of losing it on the way, was still an unsolved enigma. Oxley, who had been accompanied by Allan Cunningham, the botanist, and by Evans, had completed the longest land journey yet achieved in Australia, a very adventurous and difficult piece of work, much of it in rough country, all of it in country previously untraversed by Europeans.

The discovery of these rich, well-watered plains beyond the mountains opened a new realm. It was now certain that for 500 miles west of Sydney there was land where great flocks and herds could pasture and large communities of people could thrive. From this time the attitude of the British Government towards free settlement in Australia changed. Before the journeys of Evans and Oxley the official disposition had not been encouraging. New South Wales was a penal colony first and foremost, and, as we have seen, Macquarie during his long governorship cared far more about the welfare of the convicts and emancipists than about free colonists. He frankly disliked what he called 'gentlemen settlers,' who wanted concessions and were often vexatiously critical. He grumbled that it had become a constant practice 'for persons who wish to get rid of some troublesome connections to obtain permission from the Secretary of State's office for their being allowed to come out here.' Let them stay in England; he did not want them. The Government in England, too, required 'satisfactory testimonials and recommendations from persons of known respectability' before granting permission to persons to emigrate to New South Wales.

But the discoveries on the far side of the mountains changed the point of view entirely. As soon as the news reached England a fresh policy was inaugurated. The Government not only threw down the barriers but began to advertise the attractions of New South Wales as a field for immigration. Newspaper and magazine articles frequently appeared which enlarged upon the opportunities presented by this wonderful, new, unoccupied dominion, where land grants could be obtained so easily and where a small capital would secure for a man a greater stretch of broad acres than were owned by many a prosperous English squire. A new era had dawned. In 1818 Lord Sidmouth said in the House of Commons, 'the dread of transportation had almost entirely subsided, and had been succeeded by a desire to emigrate to New South Wales.' Proofs of the change were of frequent occurrence. The emigrant ship as well as the convict transport became familiar in Port Jackson. Australia came to be looked upon as a land of hope and promise instead of as an abode of despair. This great and striking difference was made by the discovery of the plains across the Blue Mountains.

The inflow of immigrants necessitated a change of policy in the classification of convicts. It was evidently desirable to keep Sydney as free as possible from characters who would be likely to give trouble. Consequently it was desirable to find a place along the coast where an establishment might be formed for the handling of bad cases.

In search of such a place, John Oxley in 1823 went north in the MERMAID. He examined Port Curtis, but did not think it suitable. On his return he anchored at Moreton Bay, and there, to his great surprise, met a white man named Pamphlet, who for several weeks had been living with a tribe of aboriginals. Pamphlet had been one of a boat's crew who had been blown out to sea and wrecked on Moreton Island. One of his four companions had died of thirst, a second had started to tramp to Sydney, whilst the third, Finnegan, was at the time when Oxley met Pamphlet out hunting with the chief of the aboriginal tribe, who had treated the white men with great kindness. On the following day Oxley met Finnegan. From these two men he learned of the existence of a large river falling into Moreton Bay. They had crossed it, and were the discoverers of it. Oxley, guided by Finnegan, examined it for some miles from the mouth, and, congratulating himself on the finding of the largest fresh-water river on the east coast of New South Wales, named it the Brisbane after the Governor.

In the following year, 1824, was founded upon the banks of the Brisbane a new colony expressly for the punishment of convicts who, since they had been in New South Wales, had been convicted of further crimes and sentenced to transportation for them. In 1825 the river was explored for 150 miles by Major Lockyer, who showed how fertile was the soil in the interior. 'Nothing,' he wrote in his journal, 'can possibly excel the fine rich country we are now in.' A touch of humanity in Major Lockyer's journal deserves remembrance. He had maintained friendly relations with aboriginals whom he met, and, on taking his departure, desired to purchase a handsome puppy which one of them had in his arms. 'I offered a small axe for it. His companion urged him to take it, and he was about to do so when he looked at his dog, and the animal licked his face, which settled the business. He shook his head, determined to keep it. I tried him afterwards with handkerchiefs of glaring colours and other things, but it would not do--he would not part with his dog. I gave him, however, the axe and the handkerchief.'

Early in 1824, Governor Brisbane, desiring to obtain information about the country to the south of Sydney--that is, the part now known as Victoria--conceived the strange idea of landing a party of convicts near Wilson's Promontory or Cape Howe, providing them with equipment for a long journey, and directing them to make, the best of their way to the shores of Port Jackson. If they arrived safely they were to receive 'suitable rewards and indulgences.' If they died on the way that would be their misfortune. But he was dissuaded from this plan, and instead of it he gave some assistance to an expedition led by Messrs. Hume and Hovell.

The party started from Hume's residence at Lake George in October 1824, crossed the rivers Murrumbidgee, Hume (Murray), Mitta-Mitta, Ovens, and Goulburn and reached the western arm of Port Phillip near the site of Geelong. They made a mistake as to their whereabouts, and upon their return a report was published from information supplied by them wherein it was stated that they had reached Westernport. The mistake was of some importance when in 1826 Governor Darling sent out the expedition to occupy Westernport in suspicion that the French under Dumont D'Urville intended to do so. Messrs. Hume and Hovell had traversed excellent country, and, had their report indicated that it lay to the west of Port Phillip, the expedition of 1826 would undoubtedly have been directed to settle there instead of at Westernport, where, after investigation, the conditions were not deemed to be suitable for permanent occupation. Quite a different verdict would have been returned had the expedition directed more of its attention to Port Phillip. It is very curious to observe how little was known in 1825 of the work of the earlier explorers. When Brisbane received the report of Messrs. Hume and Hovell he wrote to London. 'It is my intention, as soon as I have the means, to send a colonial vessel to Westernport to have it explored, as it seems to have escaped Flinders and others.' The Governor was wholly unaware that the port was discovered by Bass in 1798, and that it had since been thoroughly explored and mapped by Murray, Grant, Barrallier, and Robbins, in the first decade of the century.

Allan Cunningham, not less keen as an explorer than as a botanist, fought his way across the Liverpool Range in 1827, penetrated the Darling Downs, and discovered the Gwydir, the Dumaresq, and the Condamine Rivers. Where did they flow? Between the Condamine in the north and the Goulburn in the south was a distance as great as from the Orkneys to Lands End. Nobody suspected that all the intervening rivers, and some more to the west not yet discovered, belonged to the same riparian scheme. That great discovery had yet to be made.

The problem of the rivers was taken in hand by one of the most heroic and daring of Australian explorers when Captain Charles Sturt applied himself to it in 1828. Sturt had come to the country with his regiment, the 39th (Dorsets) in the previous year, and at once became fascinated by the question of what became of the large streams which Oxley had navigated, and which Hume and Hovell had crossed. It was speculated that they poured their waters into a great inland sea. If that were true, where was that sea? Sturt wrote that he undertook his series of toilsome explorations from 'a wish to contribute to the public good'; 'I should exceedingly regret,' he said, 'if it were thought, I had volunteered hazardous and important undertakings for the love of adventure alone.' The spirit of his work was entirely in accord with that profession.

For three years previously to 1828 Australia had been severely afflicted by drought. Crops failed and stock died for lack of grass and water in districts where there was abundance in normal seasons. If there were well-watered areas in the interior, beyond the zone which had hitherto been examined, it was urgent that they should be found.

Sturt's expedition was therefore equipped by Governor Darling with the view of following up the channel of the Macquarie. It was pursued in a boat as long as there was a sufficient depth of water, and then the explorers started off on horseback, travelling a full month over barren, sun-baked, drought-smitten plains, till suddenly they found themselves on the precipitous banks of a river which gleamed forty feet below them. They had found the Darling. The water in it, to their deep disappointment, was brackish, but there were fortunately occasional pools of drinkable water with which they could refresh themselves and their cattle. The parched beds of the Bogan and the Castlereagh were examined before the party were compelled to beat a retreat back to the Macquarie.

The discovery of the Darling was of capital importance. Though Sturt found it in a drought season, when the water was low and salt, and for considerable stretches the bed was quite dry, yet it was evident that those steep banks, down which the cattle could not safely be taken, sometimes held a great, deep, raging river. Here was a new problem. Whence did this river come? Whither did it go?

In 1829 the intrepid Sturt attacked the river problem at a fresh point. Hume and Hovell had crossed the Murrumbidgee on their overland journey to Port Phillip. The direction of this river's flow and that of the Darling seemed to indicate that the two formed a junction somewhere. The speculation was well founded, and the new journey was to prove itself one of high historical interest.

Sturt left Sydney on November 3, and struck the banks of the Murrumbidgee near Yass on November 23. There it was a rapid, foaming stream, fresh from the snowy mountains to the east. Its banks were followed until the water shallowed into reed-beds. Then Sturt, with undaunted resource and energy, decided to leave. his cattle and stores, put together a whaleboat the planks and parts of which he had brought with him, and set out to explore the further course of the river in it. He selected seven of his party to accompany him, three of them soldiers of his regiment, three convicts, all men upon whose devotion and courage he could implicitly rely. At seven o'clock in the morning on January 7, 1830, commenced the very remarkable voyage which was to prove the junction of the Murrumbidgee and the Darling with the Murray, and was to trace the whole course of that great waterway to the sea.

After a dangerous and exciting journey of a week, piloting the boat through formidable barriers of snags, suddenly and unexpectedly the river current took a southern course. At two in the afternoon of January 14, the boat shot out of the Murrumbidgee into a broad and noble river with such force that the explorers were carried nearly to the bank opposite its mouth, while they 'gazed in silent wonder' upon the large channel they had entered. Nine days later a new and beautiful river was found pouring itself into the main stream, and Sturt felt sure that this was the Darling, which he had discovered, a salt and shrunken ribbon of water, 300 miles to the north-east, on his previous journey. The identity was not completely established till some years later, but Sturt's reasoning in 1830 was really sufficient to make the point clear.

The boat was carried down by the current until the Murray emptied itself into the great lake at its mouth, and the explorers saw to the westward of them the blue waters of Encounter Bay. Sturt gave to the great river the name of Sir George Murray, who happened to be Secretary of State for War and the Colonies for a few months in 1828-30. He was a man whom the Duke of Wellington took into his Cabinet because he liked him as a soldier, but who is described by an English historian as one who 'had given no signs of any capacity in debate and had displayed no qualifications for administering a civil office.' Murray had even ceased to be a minister before the news reached England that his name had been given to the trunk of the great river-system of Australia.

The total cost to the Government of equipping the expedition from which so much resulted was 265 pounds 19s. 4 3/4d.

Alexander Hume, the leader of the expedition of 1824, claimed that the Murray was simply the lower part of the river which he had discovered and named after himself; and, really, he was quite right. True, he had not explored it for more than a few miles, nor could he have done so consistently with carrying out the plan upon which he was engaged; whereas Sturt had followed it for 1,750 miles from its junction with the Murrumbidgee to the sea. But that fact does not detract from the soundness of Hume's claim; and though the river is likely to carry the name of Murray perpetually, there does not seem to be any better reason for thus celebrating an obscure politician (who, when questioned late in 1830, did not know who Sturt was or where the river was) than that it is too well established to be altered.

Sturt's two great journeys of 1828-30 were the most important pieces of inland exploration in Australian history. Others may have had more exciting adventures and endured greater hardships. Sturt himself in his expedition from Adelaide in 1844--to be discussed hereafter--did a more desperately brave thing. But the discovery of the Darling and the exploration of the Murray to its mouth; the laying down upon the map of the main arteries of the enormous spread of river-veins which take the water from 414,253 square miles of territory--double the area of France; the opening of a new, rich, well-watered province for British colonization--this was the consummate achievement of Sturt's career as an explorer. Withal, he was a kind and considerate gentleman, 'brave as a paladin, gentle as a girl,' a leader of men who was followed by his chosen band in any risk because he was trusted and beloved. Exposure, privations, anxiety, and severe labour on these expeditions brought on bad health and a period of blindness; and he never received adequate recognition and honour for what he had done.

The Surveyor-General of New South Wales, Major Thomas Mitchell (he had been appointed to that office in 1828), did not conceal his jealousy and annoyance that Sturt was chosen to command the expeditions to solve the river problem. He himself was keen to attain fame as an explorer, and thought that the task should have been entrusted to him. But there was plenty of valuable work still to be done in this field, and Mitchell had abundant opportunities of proving his own worth. His first expeditions were to the upper Darling country in 1831 and again in 1835, when he found the great river not low as Sturt had seen it, but flowing full and sweet-watered through richly grassed country. He now discovered that Allan Cunningham's Gwydir and Dumaresq were tributaries of the Darling. The fragments of streams found by one explorer after another and marked in thin, disconnected streaks upon their maps, were becoming linked up.

In the following year, 1836, Mitchell planned his most famous expedition. He was instructed to find out whether the Darling was the same river as Sturt had found flowing into the Murray. He was somewhat doubtful of Sturt's reasoning; his jealousy apparently made him hope that Sturt was wrong. But even before he reached the point of junction he realized that the Darling was indeed a tributary of the Murray.

The problem was solved, and if Mitchell had returned to Sydney when he realized that his allotted task was done the expedition of 1836 would have fallen short of being very important. But after working up the Murray for about a fortnight, he crossed over to the south side of it, camped at Swan Hill, kept moving southerly, and ascended Mount Hope and Pyramid Hill. There he had a Pisgah-sight which fascinated him. All around him the explorer saw a magnificent stretch of fresh country, quite different from that to which he had been accustomed in New South Wales. He threw up his hands in rapture. Moses had never entered the Promised Land, but he, Thomas Mitchell, beheld a perfect Paradise rolling in green and golden glory before his eyes, and was to be the first to traverse it. 'As I stood,' he wrote, 'the first intruder on the sublime solitude of these verdant plains, as yet untouched by flocks and herds, I felt conscious of being the harbinger of mighty changes there; for our steps would soon be followed by the men and the animals for which it seemed to have been prepared.' Into 'this Eden' he believed that he was the first to break.

But in that he was mistaken. When he had led his party by easy and pleasant stages through the western district of Victoria, had discovered the Glenelg River, and had started on his homeward route, he suddenly obtained a glimpse of Portland Harbour, and there, to his great surprise, he beheld a brig lying at anchor, and what he at first took for grey rocks proved, on examination through his telescope, to be a cluster of comfortable huts on the shore.

For, in December 1834--that is, a year and nine months before Mitchell appeared upon the scene--the Henty brothers had taken up their unauthorised abode at Portland, with flocks, herds, poultry, and a serviceable whaling ship. Fruit-trees and vines were growing, garden flowers and vegetables were flourishing, and fields were under cultivation in Australia Felix before the explorer who called the country by that name set out from Sydney. The brig in the bay was the Hentys' vessel, the ELIZABETH; and while Mitchell was enjoying the hospitality of these pioneers a hunchback whale came into the bay and afforded an opportunity to him of witnessing an exciting chase. 'It was not the least interesting scene in these my Australian travels,' wrote Mitchell, 'thus to witness from a verandah, on a beautiful afternoon at Portland Bay, the humours of the whale fishery and all those wondrous perils of harpooners and whaleboats of which I had delighted to read as scenes of the stormy north.'

And these were not the only precursors of settlement in Victoria at this very time. In the year before Mitchell started--in June 1835--John Batman had steered a boat up the river Yarra and exclaimed, 'This will be the place for a village' when he contemplated the site of Melbourne. The village had actually been founded, and men were living in it, unknown to and unauthorised by the authorities in Sydney, at the very time when, to the westward of them, Mitchell, travel-worn but still elated, was leading his expedition back across the verdant valleys of his Eden.

 

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CHAPTER XX

 

THE HEART OF THE CONTINENT

 

Flinders's plan--George Grey's journeys--Eyre's journey to Central Australia--His tramp across the desert--Sturt's journey to the interior--McDouall Stuart reaches the centre--He crosses the continent-- Leichhardt's explorations--His fate--Mitchell and the Barcoo--Death of Kennedy--Burke and Wills--Angus Macmillan in Gippsland--Strzelecki--The Forrest brothers--Ernest Giles.

The inland exploration of Australia so far described has chiefly related to the discovery of the great river system. The finding of a route across the Blue Mountains, the tracing of a number of vagrant streams to the Darling, the connection of that far-reaching river and its tributaries with the Murray, and the following of the main trunk of the whole concourse of waters to the sea, forms a distinct chapter in the story, complete in itself. A separate series of inland explorations must now he related, which were concerned in large measure with waterless areas. What was the continent like at its centre? That was the problem which a succession of tough and courageous men set themselves to solve.

Flinders, during his captivity at Mauritius, drew up a plan for penetrating the interior from the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north and the head of Spencer's Gulf in the south with five or six asses to carry provisions for two parties, who were to meet in the middle. He had no conception of what such an enterprise would entail, nor had anyone else. Whether there was a large inland sea, as some supposed, or a great mountain range, as appeared improbable, or a desert, as seemed more likely, were questions upon which there was much speculation. The only way to tell was to go and see. And, apart from the problem of the interior, there was much work to do in the regions lying between established settlements, as between Adelaide and Perth, and Sydney and Melbourne. The traversing of the continent and its unoccupied fringes is, then, the theme of this chapter. We will group the principal expeditions according to the belts of territory with which they were concerned, instead of considering them in chronological order.

The journeys of George Grey, 1837-40, were confined to the western and north-western coastal regions, and did not penetrate far inland. Their chief result was the discovery of the Murchison and Gascoyne Rivers and eight other streams. But they were fine adventures, involving severe privations; and Grey's published narrative of them suggested that the mastering of this region would make high demands upon the skill and endurance of colonists. The distinction brought to Grey by his explorations induced Lord John Russell to confer upon him the governorship of South Australia.

Edward John Eyre was the first to make a considerable acquaintance with the parched belt wherein less than ten inches of rain per annum fall. He was but twenty-five years of age when he undertook on foot a tramp of a thousand miles across as barren a tract of country as the earth contains; but he had already made some difficult journeys with cattle, and his expedition to Lake Torrens in 1839 showed him to be a bold and resourceful explorer. In 1840 he resolved upon a larger enterprise. He would, if he could, penetrate to the heart of the continent.

With funds raised by a committee in Adelaide, Eyre fitted out an expedition. Some of the committee thought that his energies could be more profitably directed to finding a practicable route between Adelaide and King George's Sound, but Eyre's mind was set upon his own plan. He wished to plant in the very middle of Australia a silken Union Jack which had been worked for him by the young ladies of Adelaide.

That distinction was not attained by Eyre, but he did accomplish a very memorable achievement. First he penetrated the Lake Eyre basin till he reached the hill which he called Mount Hopeless. Ahead of him lay a wilderness of sand and salty swamp. His supply of water was exhausted, and no replenishment was to be had in this Lot's-wife country. So he toiled down to the sea coast to gather fresh stores; and from Streaky Bay on the Great Australian Bight he resolved to carry out the plan of his Adelaide friends, working his way westward along the coastal fringe to King George's Sound. It seemed a mad endeavour to make from that point, and when he sent for supplies and explained his plan his supporters begged him to return home. But Eyre, showing that dogged obstinacy which twenty years later, when he was Governor of Jamaica, got him into trouble there, would not he beaten. To return without a notable stroke of success to his credit was abhorrent to him. He knew that the danger was great, and ordered the whites in his party to return to Adelaide. But his overseer, Baxter, refused to leave him. So with his companion and three young aboriginals Eyre set out on his long march.

The tale of that tramp through a land of utter desolation is a thrilling one. The pack-horses became exhausted after toiling 150 miles without water, and when Eyre struggled on and found some by scooping out a well six feet deep in limestone, were hardly strong enough to stagger to it. Baxter quailed as the difficulties increased, but Eyre would not turn back. After two months of this desperately severe work, Baxter was murdered by two of the aboriginals, who made off into the scrub. Eyre pushed on for two more months with only one black as a companion. At the time of the murder he was 500 miles from any hope of aid. Remembering to have read that Flinders found water in Lucky Bay, Eyre made for the coast. He had to kill his horses for food, drying the flesh in the sun to preserve it, after the fashion of the buccaneers; and he was in prospect of a failure of this resource when he had the good fortune to sight a French whaling barque, the MISSISSIPPI, from whose captain he received sustenance. He stayed a fortnight with his host, and then set out again on his dreary track, reaching his goal at Albany on July 7, 1841. The whole expedition had occupied twelve months, and, as an example of human will in conflict with adversity, it was a striking adventure.

Sturt, whose voyage down the Murray has been considered in Chapter XI, was occupying the post of Registrar-General of South Australia when Eyre made his attempt to reach the centre of the continent. The humdrum duties of an office did not suit Sturt's ardent spirit, despite his desire to be useful. Brooding over the great unsettled problems, he wrote that it would be 'a fearful but a splendid enterprise' to devote two years to a solution of them. He knew the risks; but 'if I fell my name would stand in a list I have always envied.' Securing official assistance for the enterprise, Sturt planned to avoid the salt-pans which had blocked Eyre's northward advance by following the Murray and the Darling for about one hundred and eighty miles above their junction, and then striking north. He had carefully observed the flight of migratory birds during his previous explorations, and during his residence in South Australia; and he noticed that they followed certain regular lines which, when laid down upon the map, converged upon a point a little to the north of the tropic of Capricorn. He argued that the country to which these birds flew probably resembled that which they had left--'that birds which frequented rich valleys or high hills would not settle down in deserts or flat country.'

The reasoning was sound, and there is indeed such good country in the far interior of Australia. But explorers are not birds; they have to toil over hot, blinding sand before they reach the cool rills in the shaded valleys. Moreover, the summer of 1844-5 was one of exceptional torridity. The travellers actually traversed the Barrier Range, which included that huge silver ingot, Broken Hill; but the gleam of water at this period of their journey would have been more precious to them than the metal which lay beneath their feet. For they were tortured by thirst, and Sturt wrote that the truth flashed across his mind that 'we were locked up in this desolate and heated region as effectually as if we were ice-bound at the Pole.' Overhead the birds flew on their aerial high-roads to some more hospitable region--parrots, pigeons, cockatoos, bitterns--mocking Sturt with the constant evidence of the truth of his theory; whilst upon the parched and blistered earth he and his companions were stung with the burning sand which the wind blew in their faces, and sore with scurvy. The monotony of sand and stones and shrivelled vegetation was only relieved where here and there the gravelly bed of some dried-up creek flamed with the brilliant scarlet and black blossoms of 'Sturt's desert pea' (CLIANTHUS DAMPIERI). Where they expected to find water they obtained only a chalky paste which 'fell like thick cream over the pannikin and stuck like pipe-clay to the horses' noses.' The skin was burnt off the feet of the dogs; the screws fell out of the boxes; the lead dropped out of the pencils; the ink dried upon the pen before it could write a word upon the paper. Northward of Cooper's Creek (or Barcoo) the explorers crossed twenty miles of fiery red sand-ridges, and then plunged into the stony desert which bears Sturt's name. Before them lay an immense plain covered with lumps of quartz rounded by attrition and coated with oxide of iron. 'Not a feature broke the dead level, the gloomy, purple hue; not a blade of vegetation grew on this forbidden plain.' Occasionally a loud explosion would rattle over the startled desert like the sound of a big gun, caused by the splitting and crashing of masses of rock in the mountains to the westward; for sharp alternations of torrid heat by day and cold by night cracked the boulders of the ranges in that awful summer. 'Good heavens! did ever man see such country!' exclaimed Harris-Browne, the surgeon of the party.

The stony desert beat Sturt, as the salt marshes of the Torrens basin had beaten Eyre, and he was compelled to retreat. Just at the moment when he mounted and turned the head of his horse southward to march to his depot 443 miles away, a flock of parakeets flew shrieking overhead. He knew that his theory was right; there was good country beyond; those screaming birds, Sturt wrote, 'proved to the last that we had followed with unerring precision the line of migration.' He wavered as he turned. He was very reluctant to give up the quest whilst those birds, speaking like oracles, flew in arrow-shaped formation to the north, with the sun glancing from their burnished plumage as they disappeared in the purple distance. But he could not go on. The gaunt company of sun-blackened scarecrows on skeleton horses were driven back to the Darling. 'On every play the curtain falls at last,' said the gallant leader in a letter, 'and I believe that I shall never again enter the field on which I have reaped my humble laurels.' His foreboding was verified. He had reached within 150 miles of the centre of Australia, but he was broken in health and his career as an explorer was at an end.

But Sturt's example fired a young member of his party to take up the task and carry it to success. John McDouall Stuart had been Sturt's draftsman, and was keen to distinguish himself as an explorer. He made some important discoveries of good cultivable land west of Lake Torrens in 1858, proving his capacity to lead; and when in 1859 the South Australian Government offered a prize of 2,000 pounds to the first man to traverse the continent from south to north, Stuart determined to make the attempt. Keeping to the west of the Torrens basin on a march directly north from Adelaide, he reached the very centre of Australia on April 22, 1860, and camped at a red sandstone hill covered with spinifex and scrub. Tersely in his journal he recorded the triumph: 'Built a cone of stones, in the centre of which I placed a pole with the British flag nailed to it; on the top of the cone I placed a small bottle in which is a slip of paper stating by whom it was raised. We then gave three hearty cheers for the flag.'

The name which Stuart originally gave to the hill was 'Central Mount Sturt,' and he wrote in his Journal (the manuscript of which is in the Mitchell Library, Sydney) that he named it 'after my excellent and esteemed commander of the expedition in 1844 and 1845, Captain Sturt.' The paper which he placed in the bottle on the top of the cone also contained the name 'Central Mount Sturt.' (The paper is now in the museum at Adelaide.) But the name was afterwards altered to 'Central Mount Stuart,' and as such appears on most Australian maps. There is no evidence to show that Stuart himself desired that his own name should be substituted for that of Sturt. The change is said to have been made by Governor McDonnell of South Australia. Stuart found in the centre of the continent not an inland sea, not a desert, but a fine stretch of fertile grass country. Scarcity of water on the further journey north-west, combined with illness, lack of provisions, and attacks by aboriginals, drove the party back to Adelaide.

In 1861 Stuart started out again with twelve men, to traverse the continent. He went over his former route, got still farther north, was blocked by the density of the scrub, and was compelled to beat a retreat. But Stuart would not endure defeat. He made a third attempt in 1862, heading an expedition fitted out by the Government. This time he was successful. On July 24 he and his men emerged upon the north coast of the continent near Port Darwin, and looked upon the waters of the Indian Ocean. He returned in triumph to Adelaide, to report that he had passed through 'one of the finest countries one could wish to see.' Stuart's journeys were of the greatest value in demonstrating that the interior was conquerable, and in revealing the excellent pasturage to be found in portions of the country. He dispelled much of the old-time darkness and mystery from the 'Never Never,' and the 'Back o' Beyond.' His three great journeys of 1859-62 cost the South Australian Government only 9,143 pounds, including his own reward of 2,000 pounds.

The expeditions of Eyre, Sturt, and Stuart worked from Adelaide. Another group of celebrated explorers, starting from Sydney, traversed the country to the eastward of the dry, central belt. Ludwig Leichhardt, a Prussian man of science, came to Australia in 1842 in the hope of finding employment as a naturalist on some exploring expedition. He had introductions to a German mission to the aboriginals established at Moreton Bay, and from that centre he made a number of expeditions inland, including a remarkably successful one to Port Essington, in the extreme north centre of the continent. Amongst his letters of introduction was one from Professor Owen of London to Sir Thomas Mitchell, who happened in 1844 to be making plans for a journey overland from Sydney to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and agreed to take the eager young German student with him. As there was some hesitation on the part of the Government in finding the money--though only 1,000 pounds was required--Leichhardt raised it amongst his friends, and set out in command of an expedition of his own in October 1844. So brilliantly did he accomplish his task that he had no difficulty in obtaining funds for a second expedition (1846), also to the Gulf country. But his next attempt proved fatal. In 1848 he proposed to cross the continent from east to west, from the Darling Downs to Perth. This was before it had been traversed from south to north, and while the nature of the far interior still remained a mystery. Leichhardt knew of Sturt's stony desert, but he hoped to avoid that obstacle. He and his party started in March 1848, and certainly reached the Barcoo, where the letter L was found cut upon a tree some years later. But exactly where or how he perished has never been ascertained. The fate of Ludwig Leichhardt is one of the unsolved mysteries of Australian land exploration, as the fate of George Bass is an unsolved mystery pertaining to one of the maritime explorers.

While Leichhardt was engaged upon his expedition of 1844, the funds required for Mitchell's journey were authorised by the Government, and he explored the Maranoa country at the back of the Darling Downs. He found it in a good season, and rhapsodised about it in characteristic fashion. Just as he had described the western district of Victoria as another Eden, so he wrote of the sight of the Barcoo as a 'reward direct from Heaven' for his fidelity to the belief that a river would be found running from the middle of Australia to the Gulf of Carpentaria. But, alas! Mitchell's psalm of joy was sung before he had justified it. He returned to Sydney without following up his river. People shook their heads; and when E. B. Kennedy was sent to see what became of it, he found that, after flowing past the point where the enthusiastic Surveyor-General had seen it, his Victoria River or Barcoo (which was none other than Sturt's Cooper's Creek) most perversely took a turn south, and squandered itself, after the manner of the inland rivers, in shallow pools among sand-hills. Kennedy perished in 1848 on another expedition to examine the rivers flowing into the Gulf of Carpentaria. The journeys of A. C. Gregory in search of traces of Leichhardt (1856 and 1858) traversed the great extent of country from Adelaide to the Barcoo, and from northern Australia through the Gulf of Carpentaria area to Port Curtis.

One of the most famous of Australian inland exploratory enterprises was that of Burke and Wills (1861). The ECLAT with which it started and the tragedy of its ending have invested it with an atmosphere of romance. It was quite the most expensive and one of the best-equipped expeditions that ever went to the interior. The great achievements of Sturt cost an insignificant amount. The Burke and Wills expedition was promoted by the public of Melbourne, who raised by subscription 3,500 pounds, which was supplemented by a grant of 9,000 pounds from the Victorian Government. The object was to explore central Australia and find out what pasture land it contained. The command was entrusted to Robert O'Hara Burke, a police inspector of dashing appearance, who had had no experience of the bush, and had shown no previous aptitude for such work. He was an amateur gifted with much confidence and courage. His second in command, Landells, who was taken because of his knowledge of the ways of camels (twenty-four of which had been especially imported from Peshawar), quarrelled with him before they got out of touch with inhabited parts, and returned in ill-temper. The most promising member of the party was a brilliant young man of science, W. J. Wills.

The outstanding achievement of the Burke and Wills expedition is that it was the first to cross the continent from south to north, for it emerged from central Australia upon the southern shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria on February 11, 1861, nearly a year and a half before McDouall Stuart reached Port Darwin from Adelaide. Burke left his caravan at Menindie on the Darling, and started north towards the Gulf. He established a depot on Cooper's Creek, but instead of waiting for the stores to come up, as he could well have done, impatiently resolved to hurry on with three companions, Wills, and two others named King and Gray. Reaching the Cloncurry, which flowed north to the head of the Gulf, Burke drove on at such a pace that his camels died. As the pack-horse which carried the food made slow progress, King and Gray were left behind, whilst Burke and Wills made their final dash for or the coast.

They reached the mouth of the Flinders River, into which the Cloncurry flows, and saw the salt tidal water rushing in through the mangrove jungle, but were too weak to push on till they actually beheld the blue sea. The tragedy occurred on the return journey. Gray died by the way, the plans made for rejoining the caravan miscarried, and the two starved and thirst-tortured leaders perished miserably on the Barcoo. King found refuge with a native tribe and was rescued. The expeditions of William Landsborough, A. W. Howitt, and McKinlay in search of Burke and Wills were fruitless to save them because the gallant pair were dead before their rescuers started; but they themselves did notable pieces of exploration. From first to last the Burke and Wills expedition cost 50,000 pounds. Sturt, Eyre, Leichhardt, Mitchell, and Gregory between them probably did not spend so much on their far more important journeys. The wonder is that they did so much with such scanty resources, and that Burke should have brought disaster upon himself with such a lavish equipment.

Another series of inland explorations relates to the mountainous region on the south-east of the continent, where the Murray and the Murrumbidgee rise. In 1839 Angus McMillan, a young Scottish highlander employed on a cattle station on the Monaro tableland, set out to look for good grazing country to the south. Accompanied by an aboriginal, he clambered over the hills till he got a view of the sea at Corner Inlet, east of Wilson's Promontory. In 1840 and again in 1841 he penetrated this mountainous district, opening the way to settlement in it. In 1840 also Count Strzelecki travelled through the mountains, named the highest peak upon the continent after Kosciusko, the Polish hero, and struggled through the wilds of Gippsland to Westernport. In naming the district after his friend, the Governor of New South Wales, he described it as a land 'which in richness of soil, pasture, and situation, cannot be surpassed,' a verdict which later experience has done much to confirm.

The inland explorations upon the western side of Australia were directed principally from Perth after the formation of settlements upon the Swan River, and they were naturally concerned with the examination of the country stretching towards the centre. John Forrest in 1869 went to look for Leichhardt; in 1870 he travelled from Perth to Adelaide almost over the route of Eyre; and in 1874 he followed the course of the Murchison River inland to the inhospitable region of sand and spinifex. The Western Australian journeys of Ernest Giles were likewise very remarkable feats of endurance. Especially so was that of 1875, when, starting from Adelaide, he struck into the desert west of Lake Torrens, travelled for hundreds of miles without water, reached Perth, and thence after a rest started off again into the and country beyond the Gascoyne and the Murchison, working round to the east of Lake Eyre, and reaching Adelaide once more after traversing a circle of over 5,000 miles, mostly in utterly sterile territory. Giles verily seemed to have the constitution of a camel.

These were the principal pieces of formal or planned exploration by means of which the map of the interior of Australia was delineated. But hundreds of brave and enduring men whose names are unknown to history have done a great part in this pioneering work. The 'overlanders' with their cattle, the prospectors with their picks and their pannikins, the selectors searching for land for settlement, the squatters looking for pastures, have struck out from the mapped routes into the trackless places. The country had to be known in its harsher features as well as in its richness and beauty, and many a forgotten hero has died in the quest.

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Updated 30 Oct 02