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Title: An Eventful Year: Robert Sholl's Dispatches of 1865 and the Fate of the Camden Harbour Venture. Author: Robert John Sholl; edited by Ned Overton. * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1402211h.html Language: English Date first posted: June 2014 Date most recently updated: June 2014 Produced by: Ned Overton. Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
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This compilation began life simply as an account of Robert Sholl's exploration in the Glenelg River Region of Western Australia. But his expedition took place against an unusual backdrop: his first year as Government Resident in a growing region of the state, where a number of pastoral associations were operating. It has expanded to become a collection of all of Sholl's published writings for 1865.
All but one of the articles in the body of the narrative—as dispatches to the Colonial secretary—have been derived from various editions of the The Perth Gazette and West Australian Times and The Inquirer and Commercial News from 1865-66, as preserved on the Internet by Trove (National Library of Australia).
Where Grey in 1841 showed Brecknock Harbour, Admiralty Charts of the 1860s showed Camden Harbour. While the two names are now used fairly interchangeably, the settlement at Camden Harbour was situated in the south-eastern portion of Brecknock Harbour.
Different newspapers have different typographic schemes and spellings. Some spellings have been made uniform, geographical names in particular. For example, "Nicol" has been changed to Nickol; "Gardiner" to Gairdner; "Berckleman" to Berckelman; "p.c." to P.C.; "Wheatly" to Whately. On the other hand, a few problems like "depot" vs. "depôt", "harbour" vs. "harbor", etc., have not been resolved. Ships' names remain either in italics or double quotes
A newspaper article written more than twenty years after the event, neatly summarising the state of affairs at Camden Harbour at the commencement of 1865—with Robert Sholl's appointment as Government Resident there—began thus:
"Following close upon the settlement of Roebuck Bay came that of Camden Harbour, which had been explored many years before by Sir George Grey, who wrote in raptures of its capabilities as a pastoral country; while Dr. Martin, who visited the district in 1863, also described it as the finest country in Australia.
1. The District and River Glenelg on the North Western Coast of Australia. [Grey's track is shown in deep red. From Grey, 1841.]
Click on the map to enlarge it.
"Acting upon those reports, a Mr. William Harvey of Melbourne, who possessed an imaginative brain, conceived the idea of floating a company to colonise the distant land. Accordingly, pamphlets were issued in the most tempting form showing the advantages to be gained on joining the Camden Harbour Pastoral Association—capital £20,000, in two hundred shares of £100; and showing how each holder of five shares should be entitled to a run of 100,000 acres, 200 sheep, and twelve months' provisions.
"The bait was too tempting to be resisted, and in a short time the shares were taken up and a board of directors appointed; three vessels were chartered to take stock and shareholders to the promised land. The company comprised a strange mixture—painters, plumbers, slaters, saddlers, and, I may say that all trades furthest removed from stock raising were well represented. They had a doctor and clergyman to attend to the bodily and spiritual wants of the settlers, but not a shoemaker, blacksmith, or carpenter in the company. The board of management consisted of the parson, a saddler, a slater, a miner, and only one man who had any knowledge of stock, and who, in consequence, held a very unenviable position; and this gentleman, Mr. T. C. Murray, now of Colac, Victoria, gained the good-will of the whole community by his exertions for the general welfare.
"On the 16th November, 1864, the barque Stag sailed from Hobson's Bay with the first contingent, and, after a good passage, reached Camden Harbour on the 13th December. The bay itself is a fine sheet of water, the entrance to which is a serpentine passage about half a mile wide, between high cliffs, with nine fathoms water in the channel. The anchor was dropped before sunset and shortly afterwards natives were seen dancing around their fires on Augustus Island. Early next morning the captain of the barque with several passengers made for the shore to seek a landing place for stock and to find some of the many streams of water which they were led to believe emptied themselves into the bay, but after a fruitless walk of several hours' duration in a tropical sun the searchers were obliged to return to the boats in an almost famished condition.
2. Chart of Brecknock Harbor, North West Coast of Australia. [Chart 3 of Martin, 1864; Camden Harbour is the S.E. embayment, centred about Sheep Island.]
SROWA Series No. 50 [EXPLORATION PLANS], No. 11.
Click on the map to enlarge it.
"The matter now bore a serious aspect for there were only three tanks of water on board and as the hills around the harbour had recently been swept by a bush fire there was no grass to be seen. In this strait a party consisting of E. T. Hooley, A. McRae, C. Purdue and T. Ellwood volunteered to make a pedestrian tour inland and search for water, and as time was of the greatest importance the little band at once started, taking some ship's biscuit and a gallon of water in a billy—canvas water bags had not then been invented. After walking all night the Glenelg river was sighted at daybreak, but the high hopes with which the thirsty travellers hastened to its shores were dashed to the ground by the discovery that the water was salt, being within the influence of the tides, which here have a rise of thirty-five feet. After several hours unsuccessful search for water the little band, weary and foot sore, began their return journey to the ship, and, after travelling five miles, Mr. Ellwood cried out that he could go no further, and advised his companions to leave him to his fate. This of course was out of the question, so the party remained under the shade of some small trees until sunset, suffering such pangs of thirst as can only be experienced in a tropical climate in December, poor Ellwood occasionally crying out in his agony: "I wish I had Sir George Grey here or Dr. Martin, wouldn't I wring their necks, etc." With some difficulty the poor fellow was induced to make another start, and after walking a quarter of a mile a nice pool of delicious water was discovered surrounded by drooping palms. After drinking freely the water was pronounced the finest in the world.
"The return journey to the harbour was then accomplished without further mishap. Here they learned that Mr. T. C. Murray had discovered a good spring only half a mile from the beach, to which the stock was taken. The Helvetia, another of the company's stock ships, arrived on the 21st, and the Calliance on the 25th December. . . . The Calliance got on a reef before entering the harbour and sprung a leak, which led to her being put on the beach after discharging cargo. During the process of beaching a hawser parted and allowed the ship to drift on to some rocks, where she knocked a large hole in her timbers and became a total wreck. . . .
"Very few sheep had been lost on the voyage, but the latter vessel entered the port with her ensign at half-mast, and it appeared that one of the shareholders had died that morning in sight of land. As the sheep were landed they were taken to Murray's spring and from thence to a creek five miles back where water and some old feed had been discovered, but not before several hundred sheep had died of poison on the burnt ground. This poison plant was never discovered—and is unknown to the present day.
"After a few weeks, heavy rains set in and in a short time the whole country, which consists of trap rock, was thickly covered with green grass, but of a hard wiry nature and destitute of nutriment. Very few natives were seen but on one occasion three of the blacks attacked four white men and the former had the best of the encounter. In February 1865 the barque Tien Tsin arrived, bringing Mr. R. J. Sholl as Resident Magistrate with a large staff of surveyors, police, pensioners, etc. By this time most of the company had come to the conclusion that the country was unsuitable for sheep and had resolved to leave by the first opportunity. . . ."
(By "BUCOLIC", 1886.)
Preface, by "Bucolic", 27 February 1886.
First Dispatch, 17 March, 1865.
Second Dispatch, 20 May, 1865.
Third Dispatch, 2 June, 1865.
Fourth Dispatch, 11 July, 1865.
Private Letter, 18 July, 1865. [Extracts]
Fifth Dispatch, 24 July, 1865.
Sixth Dispatch, 16 September, 1865.
Sixth Dispatch (continued), 25 October, 1865.
Sixth Dispatch (continued), 2 December, 1865.
Postscript, 17 February, 1866.
Appendix 1: Instructions to the Resident Magistrate of the Northern District.
Appendix 2: Letter from Rev. E. Tanner to R. Sholl and Sholl's Reply.
Appendix 3: "Journal of an Expedition from the Government Camp, Camden Harbour, to the Southward of the Glenelg River in North-Western Australia". By R. J. Sholl, Esq.
Appendix 4: Report of an Expedition South of the Glenelg, by Assistant Surveyor [James] Cowle.
Appendix 5: T. C. Sholl's Expedition South of the Glenelg: R. Sholl's Instructions, Report by T. C. Sholl and Observations by A. McRae to R. Sholl.
MAPS and ILLUSTRATIONS.
1. The District and River Glenelg on the North Western Coast of Australia.
2. Chart of Brecknock Harbor, North West Coast of Australia.
3. Plan of Camden Harbour, North-West Australia, March 1865.
4. North-West Australia—chart compiled from the latest information in the Survey Office Perth, J.S. Roe, 1864 (addition [in red] by R.J. Sholl, 1865).
5. The Camden Harbour Settlement [Government Camp], Western Australia.
6. Southern half: North-West Australia. (Addition [in red] by R.J. Sholl, 1865).
Sir,—I have the honor to report the safe arrival of my party at Camden Harbour, on the 17th ultimo.*
[* That is, February. Sholl's wide-ranging instructions on how to administer the post are given in Appendix 1.; Ed.]
Our voyage from Champion Bay was of longer duration than anticipated—owing to light breezes and occasional calms.
There is little to record respecting the voyage, except that a sandy island, not laid down in the Admiralty chart, was seen on the 15th ultimo, in lat.( ), long., E.( ),** and which Captain Jarman named Expedition Island. It is surrounded by reefs. From its eastern to its western extremity it is about six miles in length, 50 feet above the level of the water at low tide, and clothed at the summit with either grass or scrub. At high spring tide, I should say that very little of the island would be seen. The mortality among our sheep was, I am sorry to state, very great. We lost 17 during the passage, and several were landed in a very weakly state. Every care was exercised, and every precaution taken.
[** That is, lat. 15.32 S., long 123.3 E. See later in this dispatch; Ed.]
I attribute this mortality to various causes: 1st—An insufficient supply of water; one pint per diem is too small a quantity within the tropics—there should not be less than a quart per sheep per diem. 2nd—Want of ventilation. They were stowed forward of the main hatch. Had they been placed on either side of the hatch, where the hay was stowed, they would have had a better chance. 3rd—Under the most favourable circumstances as regards water and ventilation, they must have suffered severely, for the heat was more oppressive than I have felt it on land—and while I am writing the thermometer indicates 95½ degrees in a large tent—and the winds were often light, and occasionally it was a dead calm. Shortly after leaving Champion Bay the sheep were taken on deck every morning, watered separately, and the pens thoroughly cleansed, yet they still continued to die.
The horses were landed in good condition. There was but one casualty, a mare of my own dying after we had arrived in Camden Harbor.
The conduct of the men was generally good throughout the voyage; but few were reported, and these only for trivial offences or breaches of discipline. The health of all on board was, on the whole, good.
The provisions supplied by the ship were good in quality and ample in quantity.
We stood in for the high land at the entrance of Brecknock Harbor during the afternoon of the 15th ultimo, and anchored in the evening in 25 fathoms water, at a distance of about 10 miles from the entrance. We had scarcely taken in sail when it blew very strong off the land. During the time the squall lasted it was very violent, but it did not continue more than half-an-hour.
On the following day we were obliged to anchor from 11 until near 1 o'clock, the wind being at first contrary and afterwards dying away. At the latter hour we had a light fair wind, which gradually freshened.
The view was magnificent; high lands and islands, at one time blended together, but as we approached opening distinct from each other, masses of red brown rock at their base and running far into the sea, clothed to the summit with grass or herbage of the most vivid green, bold headlands similarly clad, an extensive sheet of water, almost surrounded by land of an apparently fertile description, framed the picture upon which we gazed, and seemed to realise the descriptions which we had heard or read.
The Pinnacle Rock, just inside the entrance to Brecknock Harbor, was eagerly sought for, and immediately recognized. It is, indeed, a remarkable land-mark. Its appearance was that of a gigantic native standing at the mouth of the Harbor. On close approach it seemed, what it was, a detached dark red rock, about 14 feet high at low water, or rather at ebb-tide. At high spring-tide the greater portion must be covered. We passed close by this rock as we entered the Southern Channel.
The character of the scenery did not change as we proceeded up Brecknock Harbor. There was the same elevated land, the same verdantly-clad islands, the same bold headlands; but the expanse of water was not so great, and we appeared to be passing through a moderately-sized river.
As we approached towards Green and Sheep Islands, we saw in the distance a stranded ship, of large size, which was at once recognized by some on board, who had before seen the vessel, as the "Calliance," one of the ships chartered by the Camden Harbour Association, and of the burden of 800 tons. The daylight would not permit us to reach the wreck, and we anchored to seaward of Green Island.
During the night we saw lights on shore, and people moving about a fire near the wreck, but, although a blue light was burnt to attract attention, there was no communication with the shore until next morning at daylight, when a boat came alongside with some of the Camden Harbor settlers, who had just recovered a boat at Augustus Island, which had been taken by the natives.
We arrived in Brecknock Harbor in high spirits, having been highly delighted with what we had seen during the day. The wreck of a large ship staring us in the face was, to be sure, no lively object, but still, sure of our own safety, we did not take heed of the bad omen; the land seemed all that it had been represented.
The new comers, however, succeeded in damping our hopes. Everything seemed to have gone wrong with the Association. They arrived in December, the hottest season of the year, and suffered severely. Three of their party died from coup de soleil almost immediately after landing.
To my surprise, I heard that they had experienced great difficulty in finding water, even for themselves. The spots named by previous visitors were found to be without water. Several days elapsed before they could discover sufficient for their stock, and then it was at a spot at the head of the Harbor, only approachable through a mangrove creek, and then only at high tides. They were surrounded by mangroves, and their supply, after all, was not abundant.
The grass was coarse and parched, the country stony and rocky to an extraordinary degree, and the heat of the rocks was so great that the feet of animals feeding in the country became affected.
Their sheep—the pure merino breed—died by hundreds. Out of 4,500 sheep landed but 1,354 were alive when we arrived, and the number now must be less than 1,000. The horses also suffered, but not to the same extent. Of 34 horses landed, only 26 had survived.
Something else besides climate was answerable for this.
The members of the Association are, on the whole, are a good class of men. Before they left Victoria they were in trade, or farming small homesteads, some of them were squatters or connected with squatting establishments. To be the possessor of one share a man must have obtained £100, and as most of them had accumulated not less than this sum, they must to a certain extent have been thrifty and industrious. As shareholders they were all equal—one had no more power than another.
This independence and equality had their attendant evils. All were masters—there were no servants. Every man's business was no man's business; the sheep and other stock were neglected, allowed to wander, scorched to death by the tropical heats, chilled to death by the tropical rains, lamed by the sharp burning stones, starved on the innutritious grass, killed by the native dogs, or lost for ever in the bush. Hay, bran, biscuit and bacon were carried away by the high tides, and left rotting on the seashore.
Necessity eventually taught them to make other arrangements, but not until they had sustained heavy losses and received much discouragement.
Taken as a whole, they are men more likely to succeed on farms ready made, or on spots of fertile land which have not to be sought for, than to explore new country. Still among the number there were some active and intelligent explorers. These young men have examined carefully the country near the Glenelg and Gairdner Rivers, but they have not discovered any large extent of fertile country, and declare that, with the exception of the river flats, all the land is stony. The approaches to the Glenelg from Camden Harbor are described to be rugged in the extreme, and, although attempts have been made, no pass has been discovered on the southern side of the Glenelg. The furthest exploration in a direct line from Camden Harbor does not, I believe, extend further than 30 miles.
The number of settlers, including women and children, does not exceed 100 souls. Their conduct has been extremely good. There have been no breaches of the law—no attempt at violence, whatever.
The heat they declared to have been very great. The thermometer had been as high as 120 in the shade, and was never lower than 84. They had only experienced three or four days' rain. During the time I was on board the "Tien Tsin," the highest range was 103, and on shore I have never found it above 95½ deg., and only once so high. It has never been below 80. The nights are warm; the sea-breeze, however strong, very slightly affects the thermometer. If I may use the expression, it is a tepid sea-breeze. I have been congratulated by several members of the Association for having arrived in the cool season.
Game is described as scarce, the country as scarcely passable by horses, carts being useless. The natives had not been very troublesome; in fact, very few of the settlers had seen any, and there did not appear to be many in the neighbourhood. I may also observe that none have come near my camp. They have been seen at night at the huts of the seamen of the "Calliance," and have also been near the huts of some people who bought the wreck of the "Calliance." A night or two before we landed they pelted some people, residing on this spot, with stones. Not more than four or five were seen on these occasions, and it is worthy of note that they chose the night-time for their visits. Mr. Assistant Surveyor Cowle saw one on Augustus Island, who walked away when discovered. We observe fires at Augustus Island, but no-where else, and our natives have seen no tracks.
I made particular inquiries with respect to the supply of provisions belonging to the Association. They have twelve months' rations for everything except flour, and only enough of that to last six months. They, however, expected a ship called the "Jeanie Oswald" from Melbourne, with flour. But if, as they say, discouraging accounts have been written by the "Stag," one of their vessels, or carried by the passengers, 20 of whom left Camden Harbor by that opportunity, there is no reason to expect that any vessel with flour will arrive; and, judging by the quantity of stores wasted or destroyed, they cannot have more than three months' flour on hand, and some of the people will, in all probability, be dependent upon the Government stores for support.
The health of the settlers has been generally good, diarrhœas and prickly heat being the prevailing complaints, with one case of intermittent fever. Within the last week some of them have been ailing, and there is more sickness than usual. My party has escaped, with one exception, any serious attacks, slight cases of opthalmia, boils, and sores, being the chief diseases. The more serious case is that of a Pensioner who struck his shin with the back of an axe inflicting a trifling wound, but it festered, his leg swelled to a great size, there were strong feverish symptoms, and it became necessary to obtain the services of Dr. Oechme.* One of our men ruptured himself while lifting some heavy packages during the landing, of the stores. The slightest cut festers, the limb swells, and sometimes suppuration takes place.
[* In a passenger list, Oehme; Ed.]
The settlers did not bring any horned stock or pigs. They have a few she goats and poultry which do well. Their horse stock consists of mares. The only stallion they possessed died on the passage. The horses look well but they are fed with corn in addition to the natural, herbage. Our horses are looking well. We have lost twelve sheep, most of whom were sickly when landed but the remainder have somewhat improved in condition. Some two or three have died from, it is supposed, eating a poisonous herb. I examined one. The lung and liver were much inflamed, the heart enlarged, and the gall bladder distended. It was much swollen, I have desired the shepherd to bring me some of the alleged poison plant which I shall send to Perth for examination.
The people at the Association Camp have not been troubled much by mosquitoes but they complain of the flies. We can tell the same tale. Explorers say that on the river flats the mosquitoes are shocking pests.
Of the vegetable productions of the country I hear but little. Of edible fruits the settlers mention several, the grape, the currant, the fig, the plum, and a nondescript described to me as something between a peach and an apple; there is also the wild cucumber. I have tasted the grape and the currant; they are both insipid. The former is in appearance like the black cluster, the latter are of two kinds; one growing on a tree, not yet ripe, and the others on a broad leaved plant growing close to the ground.
On the 17th ult. the vessel has anchored in Camden Harbor, to the southward of Sheep Island. On the 18th accompanied by Mr. Phelps I went to the place called "Calliance" Camp where the shipwrecked crew of that vessel are stationed. With respect to that ship I may state that she struck upon a reef in Lat. 15.32 S., Long. 123.3 E. The reef was not marked on the chart. She was got off with some difficulty and arrived in Camden Harbor on Christmas Day, two days after the accident. After discharging cargo she was brought in towards shore, for, the purpose of examining whether she had received damage, when she was caught by a fresh puff and went on the reef where she now lies. I did not cause any inquiry to be instituted as the Captain and crew proceed to Fremantle in the "Tien Tsin." I send you an extract from the official log. After the wreck one of the boats was sent to Timor where a schooner was engaged to take off the crew, but she capsized near the Champagny Islands, when a Captain Edwards was drowned. The boat arrived some days afterwards. She had been upset in the same squall but was righted. The crew got the body of Captain Edwards and attempted to bury it on one of the Champagny Islands, but the natives drove them away and they were compelled to throw the body overboard. The ship's launch was dispatched to Timor on the 8th inst. I did not write by that opportunity expecting the "Tien Tsin" to arrive at Fremantle some time before those letters could be received.
Our object in visiting Calliance Camp was to select a spot for a depôt, but we found the landing place rugged in the extreme, and moreover there was no water, the camp being supplied from Augustus Island, distant some seven miles, from whence it had to be boated. This spot is in the position marked as probably a good place for a townsite in our map, but, independent of lack of water and bad landing, there is very little level ground, and there is not enough space between the wells to sink even a survey post.
From Calliance Camp we went to the old "horse camp" at which place there were some huts occupied by a few settlers. Here the stores of the Association were landed and afterwards rafted to their camp. The landing though not of the best was superior to the one formerly visited; and here we found water in some holes about a quarter of a mile to the N.E. There was no water here when the Association ships discharged cargo. There was a strip of table land about 50 feet above the sea level well adapted for our purpose and I determined, if we did not find a better place at Perseverance Inlet, to select this spot for our encampment.
After leaving this place Mr. Phelps complained of ill health, and I regret to state that during the stay of the Tien Tsin in the Harbor, he has been unable to take an active part in the proceedings. It is also with sincere sorrow, that I have to inform you of the loss I shall sustain in consequence of that gentleman's return to head-quarters in the vessel, the climate not permitting him to remain. His absence will necessarily impose upon me additional responsibility. Mr. Phelps, though unable to perform the more active duties of his profession, has not been unemployed. He has prepared a map of that portion of the harbor which more particularly interests ourselves, and at my request has furnished a report, which I forward for His Excellency's information. He also kindly consented while on board the vessel to superintend the discharge of cargo.
3. Plan of Camden Harbour, North-West Australia, March 1865 [detail].
William Phelps Assistant Surveyor, Geraldton, May 1865. [The watering place at Augustus Island is shown at the far northern extent of the map. The location of the Government Camp and the Calliance Camp are also shown.]
SROWA Series No. 50 [EXPLORATION PLANS], No. 10.
Click on the map to enlarge it.
Our visit to Perseverance Inlet was not successful. We found neither water nor landing place and the mangrove swamps rendered it an unhealthy situation. We subsequently discovered that we had gone to the wrong place, to the north instead of the southward of Mt. Lookover, the latter spot was afterwards visited and water found in small quantities. There were too many mangroves to permit a depôt being formed.
On Monday 2nd ultimo, we commenced landing stock and cargo and after incessant exertions succeeded in completing our task on the 4th inst., every available man was employed. The work was of the most laborious character, the heat was occasionally very oppressive, and during the period we were visited by some heavy squalls with rain, thunder, and lightning, such as can only occur in tropical countries. It pained me to see the men toiling up the rock-strewed bank, staggering under their heavy loads, but the work had to be done, and was done, well. During the fortnight not only were the stores, &c., landed in safety, but the tents were erected, and many of the goods properly housed. None of the Government stores were injured.
Since that time we have been employed in removing the timber from the top of the bank where it was first laid and stacking it in the rear of the tents. The provisions have been housed as well as the means at our disposal would permit. The tools, implements, and stores of every description have been arranged in their proper places; all the refuse a filth which we found on arrival removed, the place in front of our tents thoroughly cleansed, and every measure taken which will ensure the health and comfort of the party. A blacksmith's shed has been erected and the horses shod, a cooking shed has been put together, a shed for storing such articles as could not be put into the Commissariat tent has been constructed, a flag-staff 33 feet above the ground and formed of quartering has been erected, and the wooden buildings for stores and offices is now being put together.
I consider the spot we have chosen to present fewer disadvantages and greater advantages than any other in the place. It is sufficiently elevated to ensure health, it is tolerably safe for purposes of defence, and it has by far the best landing place I have seen. The supply of water is at present plentiful owing to heavy rains. I have however two men sinking a well in the rear of the tents, and hope we shall be successful, the ground is however very hard and the work will be slow. Should we fail I will deepen the water holes and make tanks. If that will not do I shall send our stock to the Association encampment and procure water from Augustus Island. If the boats will not bring sufficient a raft must be constructed, there are plenty of barrels lying about the beach from the "Calliance," and I have plenty of timber. I have no fears on this score. In our position we have the advantage of the land and sea-breezes. The latter blows into the doors of our tents, the former, unimpeded by the gently rising ground in the rear, passes through the openings at the back of our tents. I should have preferred a situation nearer to the Association encampment, but it was not to be done with safety.
As regards the Association, I am sorry to observe that but few applications for runs have been received. The total number of acres applied for and approved is 282,500. There have been no applications for the purchase of land nor likely to be at present. The settlers generally do not approve of the country and 53 * of them embark on the "Tien Tsin" to-morrow, some for Nickol Bay and some for Fremantle. The Rev. Mr. Tanner, the Chairman of the Association, addressed a letter to me,** which I have the honor to forward, asking among other matters whether the Governor would permit those who have landed their stock in Camden Harbor to transfer their right of selection to Nickol Bay. I could not of course do more in the matter than refer the request to His Excellency and point out that they have suffered much, many having lost their all, including the stock they brought into the country, and have shown themselves to be by their orderly conduct a desirable class of settlers.
[* About 20 potential settlers had returned on the Stag as it left Camden Harbour in December; following the departure of the Tien Tsin, about twenty members (including family) of the Association remained; Ed.]
[** See Appendix 2 for this letter and Sholl's on-the-spot reply, which he referred to the Governor; Ed.]
Of those who remain most of them have expressed an intention of leaving by the first opportunity.
I regret that my time has been so fully occupied as to prevent my giving an opinion of the country from personal observation; but Mr. Phelps's illness has necessitated my remaining in camp to see every arrangement made for housing the stores and the people, and to make every provision for their health and safety. I have only seen the country in the vicinity of the sea-coast, and to that extent must confirm the opinions of those who have lived here. The appearance of the place is very deceptive; and I do not wonder at the description of former explorers. What seems a grassy hill—for we have hills everywhere—at 50 or even 30 yards distance, upon close examination becomes a mass of rocks with grass high enough and thick enough to hide the rocks. From the top of Mount Lookover I beheld what seemed to be a vast extent of fertile country, but it consisted mainly of grass covered stones. I have not been to Augustus Island but am informed that it is rugged and thinly grassed.
I cannot, however, fancy that the interior is what is represented, and as soon as the "Tien Tsin" leaves, shall form a party to proceed to the Glenelg, and strive to find a pass through the hills in the direction of Roebuck Bay. I presume that the Governor will not maintain an establishment at a place which yields no revenue, and therefore, if no ships arrive with settlers, may expect the party to be removed. Under these circumstances, I shall merely keep the people employed in securing the camp from danger, and providing for the health and comfort of all. Mr. Cowle and myself will attempt to penetrate the country, and collect all the information we can for the public good, nor shall we forget to look about for the site of a town ** in some more happily situated spot than this, which if not required now may become useful at some future period.
[** To be called "Elliot". See Map 2.; Ed.]
We have all been too busy to examine the natural products of the country or even to collect specimens at random. I may state however that, so far as we have seen, it is lightly timbered, that animal life is scarce, that the flowers and fruits are neither plentiful or, with few exceptions, remarkable. It is however a mineral country, iron in an almost pure state is abundant, indications of copper have been found, and I believe that richer and purer metals will yet be discovered.
Notwithstanding the present scarcity I am convinced that it is a well watered country, this being an exceptional season, and that in the ordinary seasons the herbage becomes more capable of supporting animal life.
The insects, especially butterflies are beautiful, in great variety and in large numbers.
The harbor teems with fish and the rocks are covered with oysters of excellent quality.
I have not seen a place suitable for gardening purposes, and the settlers who have sown seeds of every description have not obtained any return.
In conclusion, I must express my satisfaction at the general conduct of those committed to my care.
Of Mr. Cowle I have seen but little, his duties obliging him to be much with his senior officer, Mr. Phelps, who has remained on board the "Tien Tsin." Upon the departure of that vessel I shall nominate Mr. Cowle second in command, until the Governor's pleasure is known.
Assistant Storekeeper Chamberlain is a very careful and diligent officer. He took charge of the sheep during the voyage, and, great as was the mortality, it would have been greater but for his care and vigilance.
Sergeant Aherne maintains discipline among the pensioners, who are regular in the performance of their military duties. Daily parades are held, and a guard is placed every night.
Corporal Benson has been of signal service to me. He has acted as a kind of foreman of works; keeps, issues, and accounts for the tools and implements, and is useful in every capacity in which he is employed. The police under his command have proved themselves well-conducted and industrious.
Notwithstanding their grievous disappointment, the whole of the men are cheerful and in good spirits. Knowing that although from circumstances beyond their control there is no prospect of the immediate advancement of this district, and consequently of themselves, the Government of the colony will not be unmindful of men who perform their duty amidst discomforts, difficulties, and dangers.
Hon. The Colonial Secretary,
&c., &c., &c.
Sir,—I have the honor to inform you that the Jeanie Oswald, of Melbourne, arrived at this port on the 10th instant, with 5 cabin passengers, 40 horses, 60 sheep, 2 cows, some dogs, goats, and poultry.
Of the passengers, three proceed to Sourabaya with the vessel, and all the stock, except one mare.
The vessel will sail, I am informed, to-morrow morning, and by her I shall forward a small mail.
His Excellency the Governor will be glad to hear that since the departure of the Tien Tsin on the 20th March, the general health of the Camp has been good; I, however, regret to report one death, the native constable Jimba having died from disease of the lungs on the 17th instant. He was buried at Sheep Island on the following day. He had been ailing for some time, and his death was long expected. It appears that he was thrown from a horse some time ago and received a blow on the left breast, causing serious injury at the time; subsequently, while a prisoner at Rottnest, he received a blow in the same part of his body, and was again very ill. During the early days of our stay in this place he complained of cough, which was treated with simple remedies, but the disease assumed a more aggravated form, and after enduring much agony, he expired. The other members of our party have had excellent health. We have not had a case of fever, slight diarrhæa, coughs, and ophthalmia, of a very mild type, being the only complaints. The festering sores, boils, &c., of which I took note in my letter of 17th March, disappeared upon the approach of cooler weather. The case of the pensioner referred to in my former letter has resulted favorably, thanks to Mr. Chamberlain's incessant attention. Mortification took place, and it was necessary to remove a large piece of dead flesh. The wound is now nearly healed, and the patient able to move about with the aid of crutches. Taking into consideration the heat of the climate and the nature of the food we, as a matter of course, have to consume, the result is as surprising as satisfactory.
In the Camp occupied by the members of the late Camden Harbor Association (for it no longer exists, the property having been equally divided) there has been more sickness, febrile diseases, as might be expected from the situation, being prevalent. I regret to state that Mr. Meaden, one of the principal members of the late Association, yesterday fell a victim to fever of a typhoid character, after a few days' illness.—He was buried at the Association Camp yesterday afternoon at 4 p.m., having died on the morning of the same day, at 6 a.m.
My chief source of anxiety, and my first care, after the departure of the Tien Tsin, was the supply of water. In my letter of the 17th March, I stated that we were sinking a well at the Camp, and that should that fail, I would deepen the water-holes and form tanks, while, as a dernier resort, a raft would be constructed, and water brought from Augustus Island. As early as the 22nd March it became apparent that unless we had a heavy fall of rain, our water-holes would not supply the party for more than a fortnight or three weeks. Finding that no rain had fallen up to the 28th of the month, and that the sinking of the well through almost solid rock was too slow a process, with our indifferent boring tools, I had the work suspended, after the men had got down about 12 feet, and set a party to work at the base of the hill some 50 yards in the rear of the water-holes, and where, in the cavity of the rocks, there was some water apparently supplied by a spring. A very few days' work convinced me that we should obtain a good supply of water, but in the mean time casks were collected, and a raft could have been framed in a few hours. The well, or rather cistern—for it was not deeper than 6 feet, and about the same length and breadth—was completed on the 13th of April, the last mass of rock having been blasted on the previous day. Three days elapsed before it was full, and since that time, though our daily consumption exceeds 200 gallons—the stock can get water a short distance from the camp—it is overflowing each morning. The water is of excellent quality. The well has been roughly roofed over, and a stone wall placed round it to keep away horses and dogs. Since the arrival of the Jeanie Oswald, we have supplied her with sufficient water for daily consumption and she has 26 horses on board. An attempt was made to water the ship for consumption on her voyage, but the removal of 800 gallons in one day so reduced our quantity, that I had to stop the supply and limit the quantity to four hogsheads one day and two the next. They get the remainder from Augustus Island.
We have had no intercourse with the natives at our camp, but they have visited us without our knowledge, and certainly without consent. On the morning, of the 23rd March, a boat, the property of Assistant Surveyor Cowle, was reported missing. It was found that the rope by which she was moored was cut through by apparently a sharper instrument than we supposed the natives to possess. We did not suspect them, but thought it was done by some white man. Every enquiry was made, but no clue could be obtained. The sentry stated that he thought he heard the clash of oars in the distance at about 12 or 1 o'clock on that night, and in the direction of another encampment. The Government boat was sent to Augustus Island, Mr. T. C. Sholl * being in charge. He was directed to examine the various inlets and mangrove creeks, in case the boat might have been concealed in that direction. He reported, on his return, that he proceeded through Rogers' Straits, where the current was so strong that, notwithstanding a fair breeze of moderate strength, and three oars out, it was as much as they could do to hold their own until the tide changed. Landing at the watering place on Augustus Island they went up the ravine through which the stream passes, and halted to light a fire and make tea. They were disturbed by a large stone crashing among the trees and which had been thrown from the height above them. At the same time the natives commenced to cooee in all directions. They went towards the boat and shouted in reply, when some eight or nine natives appeared on the crest of the hill; one of them braver than the rest, came down, a fine looking man about 6 feet high, black as ebony, and with a skin that shone in the sun. He was armed with a spear and a club. His hair was dressed differently from the others, and he seemed to be one in authority. He came forward with friendly tones and gestures. They were in the boat at this time, and brought it towards the shore, but when they did this the native retreated, but leisurely, not in fear. The boat party threw him some odds and ends, which were in the boat, and also a piece of damper, which he picked up as the boat put off. Thinking this would be a good opportunity to open communication with the natives, I proceeded the next day to the spot. As we came close to the Island and shouted, the natives responded, but when we landed they would neither answer us, nor could we see them. After being on shore about an hour, I had a small looking-glass and other presents tied to the mangroves, and went away. As we were going off we saw two or three on the top of the hill (about 100 feet almost precipitous), one of whom was seated on a rock, as motionless as if he were a bit of carved marble. We cooeed but they did not reply until we were fairly off, and then the whole Island seemed alive, shouts near and distant being heard in all directions. Three times since then have I attempted to meet with them, but that was the only opportunity I have had of ever seeing an aboriginal inhabitant of North West Australia. Some of the settlers, however, saw the looking-glass in the possession of one of them; so the presents reached their intended destination.
[* The author's son, Trevarton Charles ("Trevy") Sholl; Ed.]
On the night of the 30th March the sentry woke me, saying that the Government boat was moving from her moorings, and asked whether he should fire. At first I refused permission, but seeing the boat drifting away, and knowing how essential it was to us, especially at this time when, our supply of water was failing as it was possible we might have to depend upon it for towing the water-raft from Augustus Island, I, with regret, gave the order to fire. Several rounds were fired by the guard; something was seen to go through the water to a point of land some fifty yards from where the boat then was, and the boat itself ceased to move. We attempted to haul in the surf-boat, but this was a work of time, one of the ropes having been cut, and it was necessary to swim out to her. I sent Corporal Benson in the surf-boat to recover the pinnace, and when she was brought back sent Benson to the Settlers' Camp, while I went to examine the neighboring creek. Neither party were successful in ascertaining what persons had attempted the act, nor in what manner they had done so. The next morning, however, the native constable Billy reported that he had seen the tracks of many natives round the Camp, and he showed where two parties had gone along the beach. One towards the dingy, and the other towards the pinnace. We had nearly lost both boats, and had the dingy been moored out in the ordinary manner, she must have gone, but the double rope saved her. This as well as the chain and anchor of the pinnace, was beyond their calculation. They had evidently, finding that the chain could not be cut through, walked under the water, carrying the anchor, and occasionally rising to the surface to get air, for their tracks were plain, and the tide was too high to allow of their heads being above water. The anchor was down when the boat was recovered, and there was no appearance of any one having got inside the boat. Everything had been arranged carefully and noiselessly, and great credit is due to the sentry—Dunlop—for his vigilance on the occasion, as the night was dark and the movement of the boat could have been scarcely perceptible.
There could now be no doubt what had become of Mr. Cowle's boat; so immediately after breakfast I despatched the pinnace on a three days' cruise among the islands, placing Mr. Cowle in charge, and sending with him P.C. Gee, the native assistant Billy, and two hands.
On the night of the 3rd April Mr. Cowle returned with the missing boat. He had proceeded through Rogers' Straits, out at the entrance of Port George the Fourth, in again by the heads of Brecknock Harbor, and it was while coasting along the south shore of Augustus Island; and while in the strait dividing that island from Brecknock Island, that he saw and recovered his boat. About a mile above the watering place he saw a native, who, making signs that the party must not fire, came to the boat and stood about twenty yards off. He was unarmed, Billy landed and shook hands with him, and the native seemed much gratified and amused with Billy's appearance. He laughed vociferously, took off Billy's cap, felt his body and limbs, pulled his hair and beard, and looked into his mouth, carefully examining his teeth. In reply to signs respecting the missing boat he pointed in the direction to which they were going, or in the direction of the camp. Leaving the native, they passed the watering place, and about a mile to the S.E. saw the boat paddled by natives. They gave chase and got what they were looking for among some mangroves, the natives jumping out with such expedition, that they left their paddles and some headless spears behind them. The spear-heads—arrow-shafted, and made of quartz, and glass—were not found for some time after. The spears were clumsy and heavy; the paddles were made of light wood, and, taking into consideration the tools at the disposal of the natives, not badly made. The boat was uninjured. They did not appreciate the value of the rudder, and converted it into another seat, having nailed it (they had stolen nails among other articles from the people who landed from the Stag) to two thwarts. When the party went off with the boat native coo'ees were heard far and near. During the night of the 21st April a boat was stolen from a person named Anderson, who is living near the Calliance wreck. That boat has not yet been recovered. It was seen by a watering party from the Jeanie Oswald on the 19th instant near Augustus Island. Some natives were on board, using paddles. Encumbered by their water casks, the sailors could not go in chase. Directly I heard the news I despatched Corporal Benson in the dingy, desiring him to anchor during the night, and make search at daylight. He returned the next day, after a fruitless hunt. The owner of the boat went with him and two other men.
When I last had the honor of addressing you, I stated my intention, soon after the departure of the Tien Tsin, of striving to penetrate the country South of the Glenelg and in the direction of Roebuck Bay. Until I was certain of the safety of the camp, and satisfied that there would be no failure of the water supply, I could not leave, but these matters being satisfactorily settled, I made arrangements for our departure, and left on the 10th April.*
[* The full journal of this expedition is found in Appendix 3; Ed.]
Our party consisted of Mr. Assistant Surveyor Cowle, who accompanied us for the purpose of defining our position, so that our course might be laid down correctly on the general maps; P.C. Jackaman, native constable Billy, Chainer Graham. We had 5 saddle and 3 pack-horses. Messrs. McRae, Hindhaugh, and Hick, three of the settlers, accompanied us, with 3 saddle and one pack-horse. The party were all well armed, and we took provisions for one month, though it was not my intention to remain out more than three weeks, unless unforseen delays should occur.
We took a south easterly direction to the Glenelg, which we reached on the 12th April. About half a mile south of this river I formed my first depôt, and from thence, with lightly-equipped parties, we attempted to force our way through the sandstone ranges. On the 31st we crossed the eastern end of the Whately Range, and tried all day to get south, but after passing over some of the roughest country I had ever seen, and following every valley which appeared practicable, we were unable to make more than 3 or 4 miles due South, and returned to depôt, satisfied that nothing could be done in that direction.
4. North-West Australia—chart compiled from the latest information in the Survey Office Perth, J.S. Roe, 1864 (addition [in red] by R.J. Sholl, 1865). [Sholl's party attained a point just south of lat. 16° S.]
SROWA Series No. 50 [EXPLORATION PLANS], No. 9,
Click on the map to enlarge it.
On the 14th we started with fresh horses, the others having received many cuts and bruises among the sandstone, and passed round the western end of the Whately Range, and after toiling through country of a description similar to that passed over on the preceding day, got upon a small tract of sandy table-land and were able to pursue our course. After an hour's tramp, we came to a river, flowing towards the Glenelg, with rocky cliffs on either side. From bank to bank the distance was 82 yards, but the actual stream of water did not exceed in width 15 or 20 yards. This river I propose, with His Excellency's permission, to name the McRae, after one at the gentlemen who accompanied us, and whose services were of much value to the expedition. One of the horses not being in a condition to travel, we had to return, not having got further than four miles direct south of the depôt, but with every prospect of being able to follow our course. The two days' journey satisfied us that we were situated on a rocky peninsula, from which we could not get clear, without recrossing the Glenelg, except by proceeding to the southward and westward.
Resting on Saturday, the 15th, and Sunday, the 16th April, we started on the 17th, with three days provisions, and finding an easier pass through the Whately Range to the westward of a detached hill at the eastern point, we passed over more practicable country than before, but one of the horses losing a shoe, it became necessary to halt at a spot about a quarter of a mile from our furthest on Friday. The horse was sent back to depôt and shod, but Billy could not return with it until night; so we were forced to remain until the 18th.
On this day we steered a course generally to the westward of south, following up the McRae River, which we crossed and recrossed several times. This river was rock-bound, and it was to avoid the hills, some of them precipitous, that we were compelled to cross so frequently. We camped at night near the source of the McRae, in Latitude 16 deg. south and about 19 miles from our depôt. Much of the country passed over was rugged but there were occasional patches of table-land. I determined to remove my depôt to within a mile or two of this place, and on the 19th we retraced our steps, arriving in Camp at sundown.
Rested the horses on the 20th, and on the 21st the whole party moved on and camped at night on the right bank of the McRae. Our horses are continually losing their shoes, and our supply of nails being limited, our travels must soon be at an end. Messrs. McRae and Hindhaugh, the only shoers in the party, were kept constantly employed.
On the 22nd we formed depôt No. 2. On the 23rd (Sunday) we rested. Started on the 24th, and passing our camps of the 18th, began to descend the range. At the highest point we ascended a hill, and looking south, saw that there were three ranges in our course, the highest being about 25 miles distant, and the lowest 5 miles. A hill which we then took to be the Red Conical Hill, near Doubtful Bay, was seen about 9 miles away, bearing W. by N.; Mt. Lyell, E. by N. half N., 20 miles; Mt. Double Cone, N.W. by N., 25 miles. Followed a rivulet trending south for about 2 miles, when our further progress was stopped by impassable rocks. Mr. Hindhaugh, reported, after going ahead on foot, that the stream was joined up a larger one, and that the united waters ran to the westward. We returned towards the depôt, intending to take a westerly course from that point, and afterwards get southing; but on our way the last horse-shoe-nail was expended, and as we were losing on an average a shoe a day, and a shoeless horse in these ranges being equal to an unserviceable if not a lost horse, I determined, with much regret, to return to camp. We accordingly retraced our steps and arrived at Camden Harbor on the 27th, losing three more shoes en route.
I will forward my journal * by the first opportunity, and you will be better able to judge of the country passed over by reading the details of our daily work than from the necessarily brief account which I now give.
[* Here Appendix 3; Ed.]
I may state, generally, that from Camden Harbor to the Glenelg the country, after passing over a few stony hills in the immediate vicinity of our camp, is undulating, with stony gravelly, and sometimes rocky soil. On the borders of the numerous streams there is alluvial land. There is grass everywhere and of every description, upon the hills, in the vallies, and even upon the top of the sandstone ranges. I saw very little spinifex, and then only among the otherwise bare rocks on the summits of the highest hills south of the Glenelg. We passed through the Hampton Downs, which are all they have been represented. Much of the grass in these downs is kangaroo grass, and it is generally of a great height and a thick sward. There is no undergrowth of brushwood—nothing but grass-good, bad or indifferent—there it is. I never travelled through so much grass in Western Australia as I have seen between this place and the Glenelg.
The whole of the country north or south of the Glenelg is lightly timbered. None of the trees, except the baobab—and they are few and far between—are of any girth—the largest white gums not exceeding 18 inches diameter. The trees consist principally of eucalyptus (several varieties,) cajeput, cotton tree, cork tree, banksia (south of the Glenelg,) box, and among the ranges, several fruit trees, which I cannot now describe. I can only say that the flavor of most of the fruits was abominable. We saw a few pines among the sandstones, but they were of slight girth. There were few trees fitted for any other purpose than firewood, and most of the timber for building and even for fencing will have to be imported.
The country was well watered; creeks and rivulets every two or three miles, and most of them with running water. We had no rain during the time we were out, and there was consequently a marked difference between the appearance of the streams on our outward and homeward journies.
There were no indications of gold on our route, except at a spot 5 miles from this, where it was remarked that the country very much resembled Creswick, in Victoria, by two persons who had been there. It was undulating country, covered with broken quartz and ironstone gravel.
It was delightfully cool, especially while we were in the sandstone ranges. Our greatest elevation was about 3,000 feet above the sea level. From the time we left the Glenelg until we commenced descending the ranges on the 24th. April, we were going up hill, though gradually and imperceptibly, on the table land. We were much troubled by mosquitoes at all our halting places north of the Glenelg and at our first depôt, but there were none when we commenced ascending the hills. We were, however, troubled by kangaroo-ticks in the ranges, which tormented both man and beast.
Game was very scarce; at least we did not see much, although there were plenty of tracks, especially of kangaroo and emus. One kangaroo, seven ducks, and a few cockatoos, were all we procured, though several of our party went out for the purpose of hunting. On the Glenelg some fish were caught, but they were tasteless, and the skin was so tough, that they were named "leather jackets."
We did not see a native fire or track, or any indication whatever that they were in the neighborhood, or had been there recently.
As far as we went there was feed in abundance, as well as water, and should a fertile plain country be found southward of the ranges, there is no impediment to the driving of stock overland. With a little labor a practicable route for carts might be made to the Glenelg, but south of our first depôt nothing on wheels could traverse.
Upon my return I was glad to find that every thing had gone on well at the camp. The wooden storehouse had been finished and occupied; a small piece of land had been fenced, cleared, and dug for a garden; seeds of every description had been sown, and many of them had germinated, the plants looking very healthy; the well had been completed, and was overflowing; the boats had been hauled up, repaired and painted; the ovens and fireplaces (made of basalt, with pug cement) had been commenced, and the bushes around the camp thoroughly cleared off, and all rubbish which had been accumulating at the rear removed. I was much satisfied with the management of the camp and the conduct of all in it during my absence.
5. The Camden Harbour Settlement [Government Camp], Western Australia.
State Library of Victoria, Image IMP25/02/67/29;
Persistent link: http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/41212
At 10 a.m. on the morning after our return we received a visit from the Malays. Seven proas * entered the harbor through Rogers' Straits, and there were about thirty canoes skimming over the water. They made towards our camp. I knew at once they were trepang fishers, but having been warned that they occasionally do a little piracy, robbery, &c., I thought it advisable to make a demonstration of strength, and at all events be prepared for any emergency. Every man in the camp was ordered under arms, and the pensioners posted among the rocks at the landing-place and well under cover. I sent off the native Billy on horseback with a note to Mr. Patterson, one of the settlers, telling him to have the people at Association Camp under arms, and, if necessary, come to our camp for mutual assistance and protection. He came during the day, and said it would be inconvenient for them to move, but they required a few men as a protective force; I, however, declined to weaken my camp. As the proas approached the Union Jack was hoisted, and our camp looked gay and bustling. Five of the proas drew up in line to the N.W., about 5 miles off; one of the others remained near Sheep Island, and the seventh anchored opposite the camp. Being anxious to know what they had on board, and especially to find out if they had any cannon, I went an board the prao * nearest to us. As we were starting a canoe came towards shore, with five men; they were unarmed but, I did not care about allowing them to land and spy out our weakness, until I had first seen what they had on board. Went off with my son, P.C. Gee, and Tompkinson, McLeod, and Coffee a volunteer crew. As we neared the prao I saw a small Dutch flag. It was placed on a bamboo, and the bamboo stuck into the thatched deck. We got a rope, after making signs that it was required, and were hauled astern. Getting alongside was a matter of difficulty, as bamboos projected in every direction. I went through a hole like a small window in the quarter, followed by my son and another, and we found ourselves in a den under the deck—overhead there was a thatch made of reeds and here there were about twenty malays squatted down. The men and cabin were dirty, and the smell offensive. We seated ourselves like the malays, and attempted to make ourselves understood by signs, for none of them spoke English. One, who seemed to be the Captain, produced from a bamboo case a piece of paper, written, not printed. It was evidently a clearance in the Dutch language. It had been signed at three distinct dates, August and December, 1864, and January 1865. It had an official stamp, with "Maccassar" round the rim. I had not my note-book with me, or I should have made a copy of the document, and my endeavors to induce the Captain to come ashore were unavailing. In this den there were only three old flint musquets, and I did not even see a knife. My son, while we were engaged in the cabin, went over the vessel, saw another flint musquet in tolerable order, and two or three rusty cannon, of small callibre. I was therefore satisfied, so far as this prao was concerned, that no mischief could be done. I shook hands with the captain, and pointed to the boat's ensign, trying to show that we were friends. We gave them a little tobacco which we had with us, and my son gave the captain a pen knife, but without the desired effect, for no sooner had we left the vessel than they lifted the anchor—made of wood, with a stone for a sinker, and with a cane cable,—and hoisted their sail (a large mat apparently), and went toward the entrance of the harbor. As I did not know what the other praos contained, and there were upwards of 300 men in the canoes and praos, I deemed it prudent during the time they remained, to have a watch every night; so I divided the camp into parties of seven and eight, and posted sentries round the camp. The watches were relieved every two hours, and every half hour each sentry called his number and "All's well." This did not continue many nights, for two praos left the following day, two more on the next day, and on the third day the remaining three took their departure.
[* Variously spelled proa, prao, prau, prahu. The two spellings used are retained here; Ed.]
They did not fish much while they were here, and came to blows with the natives, who drove them away from the watering place. I am told they are in the habit of stealing the natives. A Malay boy on board the Jeanie Oswald has seen several of these North Australians as slaves among the Islands. Some of the Malays landed at the Calliance wreck, and bartered cocoanuts for blocks, rope, &c.
It was my intention to have gone to the Glenelg, but the arrival of the Malays, followed so closely by that of the Jeanie Oswald, together, (judging from the Melbourne papers,) with the possible arrival of a ship or ships on account of the Denison Plains company, warned me that I must not be away long from camp. So I shall send my son in charge of a small party, desiring him to follow the course which we should have pursued, had we not been compelled to return. Mr. McRae, and probably other settlers, will accompany the party.
I fear there is not much prospect of settling this place from seaward, for although the country between this and the Glenelg is first class, yet the large 100,000 acre blocks absorb the greater portion, and unless land of the best description is at hand, or parties are satisfied that there is pastoral land to the southward of the ranges, I do not expect any one will remain. Still, in the event of immigration, and in anticipation of the ultimate settlement of the country by the extension of pastoral runs from the Southern Settlements, I have fixed upon a spot for the future town of Elliot.
I made a more careful examination of the country round the camp of the Calliance seamen than I was able to do when I visited it with Mr. Phelps. My success in obtaining water at our own camp made me confident that in the lower land at Calliance Camp I should have no difficulty. Accordingly, after a very slight search, I found water in the immediate vicinity, and am certain at the depth of ten or twelve feet from the surface it can be obtained anywhere on the proposed townsite. The landing is not so good as our own, and a ship could not anchor so near shore, but there the landing is better than any other (except this), and is not bad, while ships of large tonnage could lie much nearer than at Fremantle. Some of the ground is fitted for gardens; there is plenty of stone adapted for building (no limestone there or in fact anywhere), and an outlet is afforded to the back country. Near the shore it is rocky, including the portion I saw with Mr. Phelps, but in a S.E. direction the land first becomes strong, and afterwards gravelly, with patches of red loam. The place is open to the prevailing winds, and, in the direction I have named, free from mangrove swamps. I will have the outer boundaries defined as soon as possible, leaving its subdivision into allotments until there is some prospect of a demand. Mr. Cowle will set about this work as soon as he has completed the survey of the harbor, upon which work he is at present engaged.
The boundary of our camp has been marked, and the trees impeding a look-out seaward have been cut down. The mason is employed making ovens and fireplaces, and the carpenter in erecting a shed to work under. The landing place is in course of improvement, so as to admit of a cart being employed.
Our garden is looking very well, most of the seeds having yielded plants, which seem healthy, especially the melon tribe.
Nothing more has been done by the Association people, and could they have made terms with the master of the Jeanie Oswald. I have no doubt that the whole of them would have left Camden Harbor.
We have not had much rain; the weather has been cooler, and the climate more endurable; but the generally slight difference of temperature, night and day, is a drawback. The thermometer has ranged as high as 106 in my tent; once it was as low as 71; the average for the past month has been about 85. However, whatever the thermometer may indicate, one thing is certain that we enjoy good healths Except in the neighbourhood of Mangroves, I believe every spot is healthy even inland. I saw no tropical vegetation during my journey, the porous soil and shadeless trees of Australia are of no small value in a sanitary point of view.
I cannot speak too highly of the general conduct of those placed under my orders. I have very seldom to censure, and have only once had to inflict any punishment. Good order and good discipline prevail and the ground around the camp is kept as trim as a barrack-yard.
Before I conclude, I may as well state that our few sheep, though healthy, do not gain flesh, but the contrary. They now run forty to fifty pounds. The horses are in good condition.
Captain Devine, of the Jeanie Oswald, informs me that he considers the harbor the finest he has ever visited, and pronounces the holding ground to be good.
The Hon. The Colonial Secretary.
Sir,—I wrote by the Jeanie Oswald, which vessel sailed for Sourabaya on the 25th ultimo.
I beg to enclose copy of that letter, and of tabular returns of receipts and expenditure, were forwarded per Jeanie Oswald. The necessary vouchers will be sent by a more safe mode of conveyance than the present—an open boat from Adam Bay,* and bound for Fremantle.
[* Adam Bay is situated about 50km N.E. of Darwin (N.T.). A settlement was attempted here in 1864 under Col. Finniss. It was abandoned in 1865; Ed.]
This boat—The Forlorn Hope—arrived at Camden Harbor on the 29th ultimo, having left Adam Bay on the 7th ult. She is schooner rigged, 24 feet long, 5 feet beam, and a good sea boat. There were seven passengers: Mr. Stow, (one of the settlers, brother of the late Attorney-General for South Australia, and a Magistrate of that Colony,) Messrs. Hamilton and McMinn, Surveyors, and four laborers. They had a fine passage, so far as weather was concerned, but got upon the reefs near Cape Bougainville, when they broke their rudder, but happily did not otherwise damage the boat. The supply of provisions was practically exhausted the day before their arrival, for although, after landing, they discovered two tins of meat in the boat, they were not previously aware of the fact, and had nothing to eat, except a little maienza.
I proffered to Mr. Stow and his two companions the rough accommodation of my tent, which they were good enough to accept, and ordered the Storekeeper to issue rations to the men during their stay in harbor.
They were without charts, and I spared copies of such as I have in duplicate, while Mr. McMinn took tracings of others.
A rudder, to replace that which was broken, a heavier anchor than the one they brought with them, and a binnacle lamp, were made in our camp.
I therefore hope they will arrive safely, but at this season of the year the voyage is as hazardous as it is plucky.
There being no Custom House at Adam Bay, Mr. Stow did not bring a clearance. He will, however, take one from this place.
Mr. Hamilton took some photographic sketches of the camp, which are very good, taking into consideration all disadvantageous circumstances. I do not send copies, because I fear that the mail-bag may become wet during the passage. Mr. Hamilton will, however, I have no doubt, be willing to furnish you with copies.
They speak in disparaging terms of the management of the settlement at Adam Bay and of the choice of site. It is a matter respecting which I am not qualified, nor am I required to give an opinion. That these gentlemen are dissatisfied, is proved by their undertaking so long a passage in an open boat.
His Excellency will be glad to hear that the general health of this camp is good, and that the conduct of every one in it meets with my entire approbation.
We celebrated the Queen's Birthday as well as our means would allow. A small sum was raised, and prizes given for boat racing, leaping, running, &c. The pensioners were paraded, and instead of the usual feu de joie—for we could not expend powder, gave three cheers for the Queen, and one for His Excellency the Governor. The settlers from the Association Camp joined in the sports, and the day passed off very cheerfully.
Mr. Assistant Surveyor Cowle and myself rode to the proposed townsite, and the former gentleman fixed upon the line which is to form the western boundary. The site will be defined as soon as the survey of the harbor is completed, which will be in the course of a few days.
I stated in my letters of 20th ult. that I should send a small party south of the Glenelg to explore in a southerly direction from my second depot. The party will start on Monday, 5th instant, and consist of Mr. T. C. Sholl, P.C. Gee, John Stainer, and the native constable Billy. Mr. McRae, a gentleman who accompanied our former expedition, will be one of the party. He is a thorough bushman, and will be a valuable addition to the explorers.
Desiring to have the country explored between Camden Harbor and Doubtful Bay, I have requested Mr. Cowle to command a lightly equipped party in that direction.* He will cross the Glenelg at the lower rapids, and proceed as far as the Red Cone Hill, near the south-eastern shore of Doubtful Bay. Should he be successful, we shall have a correct notion of the country between Grey's eastern track and the sea-coast. Our furthest was rather further south than Grey's, our position being lat. 16.2, long. 124.55. The Red Cone Hill is still further south, and if neither of the parties about to explore do not get something beyond the points attained by their predecessors, it will prove that the ranges are difficult to penetrate, to say the least.
[* If one looks closely at the Sholl Expedition map, the limits of Cowle's explorations can be seen as a dark dashed line ending just S.W. of the Whately Range; Ed.]
Mr. Cowle will not start until he has completed his surveys, or about the 17th inst. The party will consist of himself and three of the survey men.
The supply of water in the well not being so great as formerly, I have set some men to work, sinking in the vicinity. They struck a spring immediately under the surface, and the water is running in strong. I have no misgivings, and believe we shall have plenty of water for several months, if not until the end of the dry season.
Our garden is not flourishing, the continued dry weather having affected the plants. We have not had rain lor several weeks, and when I found the water sinking in the well, I would not allow any to be taken for the garden until the new well was completed. Pig-melon, pumpkins, and cotton look the most healthy—the other melons are dried up; French beans are in flower but look yellow; potatoes grow up with long thin stalks, and will not come to perfection.
The carpenters' shop is nearly completed, and the landing-place has been much improved. The ovens and fire-places have also been completed.
I have no additional information with respect to the settlers. There has been one birth (the first in Camden Harbor) since I wrote to you Mrs. Pascoe, the wife of one of the settlers, having been delivered of a son on the 29th ult.
The weather has of late been very pleasant, and the nights are cooler than they have been since our arrival. The following is a register of temperature since the 20th ult:—
|8 a.m.||noon.||4 p.m.||8 p.m.|
Where there are blanks the register was not taken; I was otherwise engaged at the time. The nights are much cooler, I should say ranging from 70 to 75.
Our sheep and horses continue in good condition, the former holding their own. We have not more than twenty left.
The grass and herbage present a parched appearance, and the beautiful green hills which we saw on landing are now verging fast to brown.
The Hon. The Colonial Secretary.
Sir,—I beg to forward for the information of His Excellency the Governor the undermentioned documents, viz.:—
Copy of my letter of instructions to Mr. T. C. Sholl * with respect to the conduct of an expedition southward of the Glenelg, and
Report from Mr. T. C. Sholl,* of his proceedings and that of his party on the occasion referred to.
There is also a rough tracing of the course pursued.*
[* All items are found in Appendix 5; Ed.]
It appeared to me that an opening would be found to the westward of south, Mr. McRae having informed me that the country seemed likely in that direction; of course the great object was to make southing, and whether this object was attained by diverging in the first instance a little to the East or West is not a matter of moment. This divergence of route was the only departure from the letter of my instructions, and as success attended this departure it would seem that the change was judicious.
You will perceive that owing to an accident—the straying of their horses—Messrs. Sholl and McRae were enabled to ascend Mount Lyell. I am glad they did so, as there appears to be some doubt as to which of the hills in the neighbourhood is Mount Lyell,—the Mount Lyell of Grey—they having been described so variously, but I think this visit decides the matter, for the description tallies in all important particulars with that of Sir George Grey. I thought at one time that "the remarkable pointed hill to the North of the Upper Rapids of the Glenelg" was Mount Lyell; and it certainly is the highest as well as the most prominent hill in the country, and it is strange that it has not been named by Grey and others. From its point the waters of the Prince Regent's and Glenelg Rivers can be seen, which is not the case with Mount Lyell, according to the Report which I now forward, nor according to the testimony of others who have given me verbal information on the subject.
The expedition started on the 9th from our second depôt, and must have had easy travelling country, for they proceeded S.S.E. for a distance of 21 miles, and returned one mile on their tracks in one day. A river named the Sale was discovered during this day's march, and to the banks of that River the depôt was removed.
On the 13th June Messrs. Sholl and McRae pursued a coarse first E.S.E. for five miles to a hill named Mount Alexander, thence southerly for 5 miles, when they struck a river 100 yards wide, flowing in a north-westerly direction, which was named the Berckelman. They followed the course of this river for 3½ miles, and striking a N.N.E. course for six miles, arrived in depôt. The course throughout the day enabled them to travel over and at several points a tract of superior pastoral country, which Mr. Sholl named the Panter Downs. The depôt was then removed to the southern bank of the Berckelman near the junction with the Sale.
On the 15th June a southerly course of 4 miles to a hill named Mount Hindhaugh was taken, thence S.W. for 6 miles as far as a river named the Middleton, whose course was in the direction of the Berckelman. That course was followed, and the explorers returned to depôt by a circuitous route.
On the 16th the depôt was removed to the Middleton by a somewhat straighter route than was pursued on the previous day, Mount Hindhaugh being left a mile or two to the eastward.
On the 17th a march was made generally in a S.E. direction over high ranges named the Harding Range. The extreme point of the explorers was at a peak named Peak Edward, from whence they saw a large river flowing to the south-westward. Returning to depôt, they started again on
Monday, 19th June. Followed their tracks of Saturday until within a short distance of Peak Edward, when they struck at a distance of 10 miles a large tidal river named the Walcott, a ¼ of a mile wide, with a rise and fall of 15 feet. They returned some 5 miles on their tracks, and camped for the night at a stream designated Pigeon Creek. South of the Walcott the course of another large river was seen.
On the 20th they reached depôt, and, retracing their steps, arrived in camp, all well, on the 26th of June.
The country passed over was tolerably well grassed, independent of the rich pastoral lands in "Panter Downs," and fair feeding lands on the Walcott.
Of the rivers discovered, two—the Sale and the Middleton—were tributaries of the Berckelman, which river flowed towards the coast in the direction of Secure Bay. The point of debouchement of the Walcott is conjectured to be Stokes' Bay.
Future explorers will have to take a more easterly course from Mount Alexander, so as to be enabled to cross the Walcott.
Awaiting communications from Head Quarters, I do not think it prudent to send out another party for any lengthened period, though I am sanguine of the result, and much regret that we cannot take advantage of this, the best season, for exploration.
I have, however, determined to send out small parties for a limited period to explore the country nearer our camp, and on the 10th instant despatched Mr. Cowle, with Jackerman, Paterson, and Graham, to examine the country between this and the southern coast of Doubtful Bay. Mr. Cowle was instructed to take 14 days' provisions, but not to be absent more than 10 days. I intended that the party should be lightly equipped, and ordered that but one pack-horse should be taken, deeming that sufficient for four persons for ten days. Mr. Cowle, however, took two, and I did not choose to incur the responsibility of appearing to cripple the party by interfering with this arrangement, but I much fear the extra baggage will prove an incumbrance rather than an assistance.
When the "Wild Dayrell" leaves it is my intention, please God I am spared, to proceed myself to Hanover Bay, and examine the country in the neighbourhood of the Prince Regent's River during a more propitious season than when Grey visited that locality.
In conclusion, I beg to express my approval of the conduct of the members of the late expedition, and again to bear testimony in favour of Mr. McRae's services. I trust that what has been done will meet with the approbation of His Excellency the Governor.
The Hon. the Colonial Secretary,
&c., &c., &c., Perth.
It is now five months since we landed, or rather since the "Tien Tsin" dropped anchor in Camden Harbour, so I ought to know something about the place by this time. The life we have led is not altogether a monotonous one; we have endured no privations, but few positive discomforts, and have had a fair share of health. For my part I never experienced better health. I have not had a day's—I may say an hour's sickness, and have been more free from care and anxiety than many who live in civilized places. I have met with no difficulty which could not have been easily surmounted by any man possessed of ordinary perseverance. I have however been singularly fortunate in having for my assistants men who yield obedience to orders, and yield without resistance to the discipline of the camp, which is necessarily strict.
Since the "Tien Tsin" left we have had our little events to chronicle. The Malays paid us a visit, the "Jeanie Oswald" from Melbourne came in and remained some three weeks, the "Forlorn Hope" a boat from Adam Bay, gave us a hail en route for Fremantle, and, finally, the "Wild Dayrell" from Melbourne dropped her anchor in our waters, and here she is. We have had two exploring expeditions South of the Glenelg, and have no end of talk about sandstone ranges and shoeless horses. Another exploring party to Doubtful Bay is now out and is expected back to-morrow or next day, and, please God all goes well, another will leave for Hanover Bay and the Prince Regent's River as soon as the "Wild Dayrell" sails for Melbourne; so you see we have something to do and something to talk about.
Setting aside our really magnificent harbour, there is no doubt that the country and its capabilities have been unduly praised. As a necessary consequence a reaction has been the result, and it is and will be unduly depreciated. That it is rocky, that the climate is hot, that there are impediments to locomotion, ought not to have been novelties to settlers—yet they were—for previous explorers do not conceal the fact that the country is rugged; they could not have concealed, had they wished, that the climate in lat. 15deg. 30min. was not temperate, and they rather magnified the fact of the difficulties of travelling. Grey's account is a narrative of struggles among sandstone rocks, and any one who read the report of the trial Brown v. Burges, or whoever read Martin's journal, could never have doubted that rocks abounded as well as grass. The fault of previous explorers is that they have over-estimated the amount of good country, and the quality of the pasture. There is an abundance of grass everywhere. No one can gainsay this. Upon the hills and in the valleys; upon the ranges and in the ravines; on table lands and depressed plains; on stony soil, on sandy soil, on clayey soil, on alluvial soil, on rocks without apparently a trace of soil, there is grass, grass, and nothing but grass of some sort. When I say "nothing," I mean that there is no brushwood, no undergrowth between the trees which are lightly scattered over the land. From Camden Harbour to the source of the McRae I travelled through grass. From the source of the McRae to the banks or the Walcott my son and his party journeyed through grass—occasional patches of sterility in both cases being excepted. I never saw so much grass before, and most probably never shall again. But there is a great proportion of it unfitted for any description of stock, some is reed-like—juvenile canes in fact, some is sedgy, most of it hard and innutritious. The whole of it is luxuriant, whether it be the thick sward rising just above the horses' knees, and impeding their progress, or the less dense masses which sweep above the heads of steeds and riders; the growth is magnificent and rich. By far the greater portion is however, adapted to the use of large stock, and when fed down or burnt down, a much larger tract of country may be made available, but I am confident that it is not adapted for the particular description of stock mentioned by explorers. It is not fitted for sheep. The mere mechanical difficulty of getting at it would be sufficient, independent of its coarseness and the absence of fattening qualities. The ground is not adapted for sheep to travel over; the grass on the ground is too high for them to reach, and could they reach it, it is too rank for them to consume. I say this irrespective of climatic considerations, for I believe that continued change of blood will to a great extent neutralize the effect of climate. Cattle would thrive, but not fatten sufficiently to be profitable for tallow—at least so I think, and I have spoken much on these subjects with persons competent to give an opinion. This is essentially a horse country, and I have little doubt but that a large horse breeding establishment would pay. Our horses have thriven. They seldom have anything but the natural herbage, and have been pretty well knocked about among the sandstones, yet they look in good working order, and perform their journeys like hard-fed, instead of grass-fed animals. Our sheep—of which alas! but three remain—have not fallen away very much—perhaps they may be said to have held their own since they landed—but they never got up to the condition they were in when put on board at Fremantle. We have just none from disease, poison, or the effects of climate. Some died shortly after landing from the effects of the voyage, but none since; but then it must be borne in mind that they were carefully tended, and were a very small flock, gradually becoming smaller under the butcher's knife, and therefore easily managed.
July 25.—The "Mystery" arrived on the 20th, and put a stop to all private letter-writing, as she is on Government account until her arrival at Roebuck Bay, and I am naturally very anxious not to detain her. However I closed all my official letters this morning, and as she cannot sail till this afternoon—it is now 10 a.m.—I will continue my letter, but not so leisurely as before as "sharp's" the word, and I have not written a line to my wife and children.
You will have seen by my despatch per "Jeanie Oswald" the result of my expedition south of the Glenelg. By this opportunity I send my Journal. Trevy's report of his travels will also arrive per "Mystery." He has been fortunate, having penetrated 40 miles south of my farthest; passed over some good grazing land; crossed three rivers, and arrived at the banks of a tidal river ¼ of a mile wide, with a strong current and a rise and fall of tide of many feet. This was 25 miles inland, and the river must therefore be of some magnitude. It was not fordable, and will therefore have to be crossed higher up. They seemed to have descended the last of the sandstone ranges, and to have arrived at hilly basalt country, and I have great expectations that we shall be able now to get a fair coarse for Roebuck Bay. He named a prominent elevation, rising in Panter Downs, Mount Lochée, after my old friend. The last range of sandstones was named Harding Range, the large river the Walcott, and the other rivers, &c, after his own private friends. I am well satisfied with Trevy's management. I sent Cowle out in the direction of Red Cone Hill Doubtful Bay, but have not yet got his report. He tells me that the country is fearful—that he could not get within 20 miles of Red Cone Hill, and that he did not get so far south as our farthest in April. Success is not the measure of merit, and a man can but try his best. I believe his difficulties were insurmountable.
Now I ascertain that there is no immediate prospect of removal, I shall, on the departure of the two ships, send an expedition to follow up Trevy's track as far as Mount Alexander; from thence to take an easterly course until the Walcott is crossed, and then make towards Roebuck Bay.
I am sadly afraid we shall come to blows with the natives, as they are getting too bold. On Sunday morning, before daylight, Mr. Cowle's boat was stolen, and has not been recovered. On 2nd instant, a settler had some spears thrown at him. Their tracks are seen about our camp. Some of them must be giants—one track measured 14 inches 10-12th, or within a shade of 15 inches, and 5 inches across the toes; another was 13 inches long. I must try to capture one or two, and hope it may be done without bloodshed. I shall not hesitate to take vigorous measures, for if they steal the Government boat, upon which we depend for our supply of water, we shall be in a pretty fix.
I have had great difficulty in procuring water, but have overcome it. We now tow water casks from Mount Lookover—a distance of about 3¼ miles.
I hope they will not delay sending a vessel until the arrival of the "Mystery," as our supply of provisions will not last beyond November, and if any accident should happen to the succouring ship we shall come to grief. We have very little game, and let it be ever so plentiful, an establishment like ours could not be supported on the natural produce of the country.
The Governor is right in supposing that the Camden Harbor people decided without consideration. They assumed too much, and did not wait to satisfy themselves of the correctness of their assumptions. I have examined for myself, and sent others to do so for me, and have arrived at the conclusion that settlement will be from the south upwards, and not from seaward. Be this as it may, the mere fact of there being no settlers and no revenue ought to determine the question as to the eligibility, of Camden Harbor for a Government station.
You are right in saying that it is not fitted for Europeans. It is fitted for tropical produce, raised by Coolie labour; the same may be said of Roebuck Bay. That place will, I fancy, be settled also by extension of runs from the southward. If Nickol Bay yields cereals and other European crops, I can only say that it is a wonderful place. My belief is that the people there most depend upon Southern farms for the bread they eat.
From my knowledge of the prowling disposition of the natives in this place, and their night-wandering propensities, I felt certain that poor Panter * and his associates were murdered in their sleep. I first heard the news per "Jeannie Oswald." We have raised a small subscription—not much, but something for Camden Harbor—for Goldwyer's widow.*
[* Frederick Panter, James Harding and William Goldwyer were murdered by aborigines at La Grange Bay, south of Roebuck Bay, in November 1864. Their bodies were later recovered by an expedition led by Maitland Brown; Ed.]
I still say this is a well-watered country. Though we are getting water from Mount Lookover, our stock obtain it a mile from hence, and in abundance. The country is, however, impassable for carts, and the water cannot be conveyed to our camp.
Dr. Bompas speaks highly of the choice I made, and says that our encampment is healthily located. I welcome him as a companion."
Sir,—I last had the honour of addressing you on the 2nd June, per "Forlorn Hope," an open boat, from Adam Bay, and bound for Fremantle, for which port she sailed on the 3rd ultimo. I enclose copy of that letter.
The "Wild Dayrell," a vessel of 158 tons burden, from Melbourne 3rd June, arrived on the 2nd instant. She is now in harbour, loading with stores, &c., saved from the wreck of the "Calliance," being under charter to the purchasers of that ship. She will sail on or about the 29th instant.
The "Mystery", arrived on the 20th instant, and brought a welcome addition to our party in the person of Dr. Bompas. The stores, &c., brought by that vessel, have been landed. She will sail to-morrow, by which time I hope to have completed my letters. By her I shall send the various public accounts connected with this district, with the exception of those for the current month. These I shall send by the "Wild Dayrell," together with such further information as I may have to communicate. She is a quick sailer, and may probably arrive at Melbourne before the departure of the August mail. I should not be surprised to hear that the letters sent by her arrived at as early a date as those per "Mystery," the latter vessel having to call at Roebuck Bay, the DeGrey River, and Tien Tsin Bay.
The remaining members of the Association are anxious to leave, and, if they can make arrangements with the master of the "Wild Dayrell," the greater portion will do so. At present there is no perfect understanding in the matter. The "Mystery" will convey two of them to Nickol Bay, viz., Messrs. McRae and Hindhaugh, both of whom have been of great service during our explorations, whose presence I shall miss, and for whose welfare in their new home many good wishes are uttered.
I am happy to inform His Excellency that the health of everyone in camp, generally very good, is at present excellent, and I earnestly hope that it may continue so, now that the doctor has arrived. There have been, however, two deaths at the Association Camp since the date of my last letter. Mrs. Pascoe, the wife of one of the settlers, died on the 4th ultimo, of fever, a few days after childbirth, and a child of Mr. Paterson's died from teething, after a prolonged illness, on the 17th ultimo. They were both buried on Sheep Island. We have not yet had the slightest symptom of fever in our Camp, and I trust that our elevated position may be the means of preserving us from this plague. I am gratified to hear Dr. Bompass express approbation, on sanitary grounds, of the site chosen for our encampment.
The general conduct of all under my charge still continues good. Once only have I had to punish any of the party, and then only to a limited extent, the punishment being partially remitted upon an expression of sorrow on the part of the offender. The offence was insubordination.
Mr. Assistant Surveyor Cowle, who has been for some time past engaged in surveying the harbour, completed his task on the 10th ultimo. I applied to him for a tracing of the work, but he was unable to furnish me with one to forward by either of the vessels in harbour. Since that time he has surveyed and defined the boundaries of Elliot Town, situated at a spot adjacent to the Calliance Camp. I have not at this date been furnished with a tracing showing the position of the townsite. Mr. Cowle reports very favourably with respect to the suitability of the locality for the purpose. The work was completed on the 6th instant.
The expedition south of the Glenelg started on the 5th ultimo, and returned in safety on the 26th ultimo.* It consisted of Mr. T. C. Sholl (in charge), Mr. McRae, P.C. Gee, John Stainer, and native constable Billy. I am glad to inform you that the party penetrated the ranges 40 miles south of depôt No. 2 of the last expedition, and that the country began to look more promising, basalt hills taking the place of the sandstone ranges, which have so impeded our progress. A large tract of superior pastoral land was discovered, and named by Mr. Sholl the Panter Downs after the late lamented explorer. These Downs were watered by three rivers, named respectively the Sale, the Berckelman, and the Middleton; the Berckelman being the main stream, and flowing in the direction of Secure Bay. Rising from the Downs were several basalt hills of considerable elevation, named after private friends. Mr. Sholl was good enough, at my request, to designate one prominent hill Mount Lochée, after one of the most worthy of our colonists. At their extreme southern point the explorers struck a large tidal river, flowing in the direction of Stokes' Bay. This river was named the Walcott. It was of considerable width, with a strong current, and a rise and fall of tide of many feet. Full particulars of the journey, together with an estimate of the probable capabilities of the grazing land, will be found in the reports furnished by Messrs. Sholl and McRae, and which I have forwarded under another cover. The journal of the gentleman in command; which appears to be full and explicit, will be forwarded as soon as a fair copy can be made. There was every indication of a break in the country to the eastward of Mount Alexander, and in this direction future explorers will have to proceed, in order that the Walcott may be crossed higher up. I was well satisfied with the result of the expedition.
[* See Appendix 5; Ed.]
As soon as Assistant Surveyor Cowle had completed his surveys of the harbour and townsite, I despatched him in charge of a small party, consisting of, besides himself, P.C. Jackerman, and chainers Graham and Paterson, towards the Red Cone Hill, near the S.E. shore of Doubtful Bay. The party left the Government camp op the 10th, and returned on the 19th instant. I have not yet received Mr. Cowle's report, but he informs me that the country was rocky in the extreme, and that he was unable to proceed within 20 miles of the Red Cone Hill, or as far south as the No 2 depôt of the April expedition. With difficulty he struck the McRae, and got on our former tracks. Mr. Cowle visited Mount Lyell, from the summit of which hill be took such bearings as would enable him to determine its exact position. In the absence of Mr. Cowle's report I cannot, of course, give a decisive opinion, but I have every reason to believe that he made every effort to follow out his instructions, and that he failed to reach the Red Cone Hill because the difficulties opposed to him were insurmountable.
Neither of the exploring parties fell in with natives, but their tracks were seen by both.
It seems clear that Doubtful Bay does not afford an outlet available for produce raised in any country to the eastward of Mr. Cowle's track. As far as our present knowledge extends, Camden Harbour is the port of the country to the southward and eastward. I allude, of course, to land carriage, as the Glenelg is navigable for small craft from the lower rapids to George Water and Doubtful Bay.
Now that it is certain that we need not expect a vessel for some time, I shall dispatch another party to continue the explorations in a south-easterly direction from Mount Alexander. When the Walcott has been crossed, a southerly course will be taken, in the direction of Roebuck Bay, and the track to the eastward, balanced by a corresponding detour to the west. The party will leave shortly after the departure of the "Wild Dayrell," and be absent for 3 or 4 weeks.
I have had some difficulty in securing a supply of water for my camp, but it has happily been overcome. The wells at the rear of the camp have gradually become dry, as well as another I had made. Since the date of my letter of 2nd ultimo, I have had my force principally engaged in sinking wells through the rocks, and in rafting water. We could not, however, get deep enough in consequence of the hardness of the rock, and the quality of our tools. The supply of steel sent per "Mystery" will enable us to resume operations. On the 21st ultimo, I was convinced that we should soon have to obtain water from Augustus Island, and I have a raft made, but being anxious to get water nearer to our camp than 7 miles, I proceeded to Mount Lookover. Here I observed some water dripping from the rocks, at the base of the N.W. slope of that hill It was lost in the sand, or rather fine gravel, of the beach. Some holes had been sunk by Mr. Anderson's party, but as the water could not be retained in sufficient quantity, they were not used. Seeing some clay in the immediate neighbourhood, I sent a couple of hands to widen the holes, and puddle them with clay. The water, however, still escaped, and that which remained was moreover muddied by the clay. I then had a trench cut for some 20 feet up the slope to collect and carry off the drip, purchased a 400 gallon tank, had some wooden spouting made, to connect the trench with the tank, and have now an abundance of clear water. The distance from camp is about 3¼ miles. Finding that the raft did not answer, I discarded it, and have since towed the casks. As there was water at this place when we arrived in February, I hope we shall have sufficient until the ship arrives to take us away; if not, I can still fall back on Augustus Island.
We have had no rain since I last wrote, and the country is now of a brown hue. We have water for stock about a mile back, over hills, which are not practicable for carts. In consequence of the lack of rain, our garden is not in good condition. With the exception of a pumpkin vine, which presents a respectable appearance, and the cotton plants, nothing looks healthy, and most of the vegetables have died off. I gathered, on the 17th instant, French bean seed, from plants raised from seed sown in the middle of April; but the return was not equal to the quantity sown. Had we water for irrigation I have no doubt the result would have been different, but of course I cannot spare water for this purpose.
Anticipating removal, I have had some hay cut on the townsite, but the principal work of the party has been, as I before stated, confined to seeking for and conveying water. We have, however, erected the carpenter's shop, a building 12 x 12 or thereabouts, and the carpenter has also made a head-board and railing for Jimba's grave. The head board has an inscription, containing name, calling, and date of death, of late native assistant P.C. Jimba. It has been placed at his grave at Sheep Island. The landing-place has been much improved, and we shall be able to ship our goods at a quicker rate than we landed them. I shall make every arrangement for our departure, by having the things not in use, or likely to be required, packed in suitable boxes.
Until between 3 and 5 o'clock of the morning of the 23rd, the natives have not troubled us, but yesterday morning Mr. Cowle's boat was declared to be missing. I despatched the Government pinnace, in charge of Mr. Cowle, to look for her, but the party returned at night unsuccessful. Serjeant Aherne marched a party of 4 pensioners to the end of the peninsula, but could see nothing of the boat or natives. Some soldiers took the boat of the "Wild Dayrell" as far as Rogers' Straits, but could gain no information. Mr. Nairn, a passenger by the "Mystery" kindly volunteered to assist, and went in that vessel's boat along the N.W. shore of the harbour, but with no better luck than the others. On the 2nd instant, Mr. Davey, one of the settlers, came upon some natives on the top of Mount Lookover. They threw several spears at him, and I have no doubt but that the affair would have ended seriously had not Mr. Davey, with great presence of mind, pointed his telescope at the natives, which had the effect of dispersing them. Their conflicts with the Malays have taught them the use and effect of fire-arms.
It would seem that these people are gradually becoming bolder. From what I have previously stated it must be apparent to you that the loss of our boat, dependent as we are upon it for our supply of water, would seriously inconvenience my party—it would do more than inconvenience us—health, and perhaps life, might be endangered by its loss. Independent of this, success emboldens the natives, and if they can creep about our camp with impunity to steal boats, they can do so for worse purposes. It therefore becomes necessary to take such measures as will impress upon them the necessity of respecting our property and our lives. I shall not hesitate to adopt such a course as will tend to preserve my camp from aggression, and I hope I may be enabled to capture the guilty parties without resorting to violence. I shall attempt to do so; but I am determined to punish the natives who have thrown spears without provocation at one of the settlers, and have more than once robbed our own camp.
I have been so engaged in preparing letters, &c., for the "Mystery," not desiring to detain that vessel, that I have not had sufficient leisure to take an active part in the proceedings, but when the vessel has sailed will do so. To-day our boat is employed water-towing, and the men will be too tired for night-work, but to-morrow I will despatch another party to search the mangrove creeks, and will not abate my endeavours until the boat is recovered and the thieves punished.
We have had cool weather during the past and present month, but still not so cool as to permit one wearing a light coat with comfort. The lowest indication of the thermometer has been 62½ degrees. The nights are colder—I should say by some 5 or 6 degrees—for a rug is acceptable in addition to the usual covering—a sheet. I shall forward per "Wild Dayrell" tables showing the temperature from the date of our arrival until the present time.
From the tenor of this and preceding letters you cannot hesitate to arrive at a conclusion with respect to the suitability of this place for settlement. I observed in my letter of 17th March—"I presume that the Governor will not maintain an establishment at a place which yields no revenue, and therefore if no ships arrive with settlers, may expect the party to be removed." I now state emphatically that I do not consider that this place will be settled from seaward, but that, if settled at all, it will be by the gradual extension of pastoral occupation from the southward. I do not believe that it is fitted for European agriculture or European agriculturists. It certainly is not fitted at the present time for sheep. I cannot say whether it would do for cattle, but believe they would not fatten sufficiently to make the tallow remunerative. Horses would thrive. Ours hold their own, and do their work well when employed exploring. We have a splendid harbor, the scenery is magnificent, the country generally is well watered and well grassed, and with common prudence in the selection of locality it is as healthy a country as any in the world, so far far as my experience goes. No revenue has been received nor is likely to be received, no settlers have arrived nor are likely to arrive, and those that have remained will leave as quickly as their opportunities or means will admit. The "Warrior" has landed her passengers and stock at Tien Tsin Bay, and at that locality a town will be formed, although the Government establishment may be elsewhere. I do not believe that Roebuck Bay will, any more than Camden Harbor, be settled, except by the dispersion of population from the southward as grazing lands become over-stocked; and I feel certain that no Government townsite will attract population to spots not otherwise suitable. Towns are formed by the accumulation of population, and population is attracted by the exploration of new country. Settlement will follow exploration from the south to the north, and its progress will be gradual and slow.
I have now, Sir, to bring this letter to a close, and in doing so to express the very great pleasure that it has given me to receive your intimation that His Excellency the Governor approved of the course I had adopted up to the date of the departure of the "Tien Tsin." I beg to assure His Excellency that every effort will be made by me to ensure the comfort and safety of those entrusted to my charge, and I hope, with God's assistance, that those efforts will be crowned with success.
The Hon. the Colonial Secretary, &c., &c., &c., Perth.
Sir,—It is with much regret that I have to report, for the information of His Excellency the Governor, the loss of the Government pinnace belonging to the station, together with the death of Michael Quinlan, blacksmith, attached to my party, who went down in her and was drowned.
In my letters despatched by the Mystery and Wild Dayrell, I had the honor to inform you that it was my intention to institute a search after Mr. Cowle's boat as soon as I possibly could after the departure of those vessels.
The Wild Dayrell sailed on the 16th ult., but a combination of circumstances, principally the difficulty of supplying a sufficiency of water during my absence, prevented my leaving camp until the 4th instant.
On that day I started two parties—one under Mr. Assistant Surveyor Cowle in the Association boat (which had been kindly placed at my disposal by its proprietors); the other under my command, in the Government pinnace. Mr. Cowle proceeded along the western shore of the harbor, intending to examine the islands to the westward. I sailed for Augustus Water and Port George the Fourth.
Mr. Cowle took with him John Graham, Maurice Enright, Michael Murphy, the son of a settler named Ross. James Patterson had been detailed to accompany the party, but just as they were on the point of starting, he was relieved from duty on medical certificate, and Ross taken in his place.
I took with me Mr. T. C. Sholl, Thomas Tompkinson, Michael Quinlan, P.C. W. Gee, and Daniel Coffee.
Before leaving I appointed Mr. C. S. Bompas in charge of camp, and furnished him with instructions for his guidance. I left, as I thought, nearly sufficient water for the reduced force at the camp, and instructed Mr. Bompas to send the dingy across to Mount Lookover for any additional quantity that might be required.
Both boat parties took seven days' provisions, and every one was well armed. We were to return on the following Monday, 11th. inst., and, if possible, communication between the two boats was to take place on Wednesday, 6th instant at the entrance to Port George the Fourth.
As regards Mr. Cowle's party I may state that his boat returned on the Saturday, (9th instant). He had not seen anything of his boat, or natives, nor had anything transpired calling for a special report.
The pinnace sailed from the camp at about 2 a.m., on 4th instant. We proceeded to the watering place at Augustus Island, and, having filled our beakers, made sail for Augustus Water. We skirted the shores of this indentation, but saw nothing of the missing boat. Dining at a point of land at the apex of Camden Peninsula, we afterwards entered Port George the Fourth dropping anchor for the night off a sandy shore on the eastern side of the port.
Early in the morning of the 5th inst., after partaking of some slight refreshment, we sailed and pulled along the southern shore of an inlet or bay in Port George the Fourth. At about 8 or 9 o'clock—for we had no time-piece with us—we were hailed by an unarmed native, who was standing at the apex of a small rocky peninsula, bounded on one side by a narrow mangrove creek, and on the other by the waters of the bay. He made signs for us to approach at a spot he indicated. The boat's sail was taken down, and we pulled as near as was prudent, but I would not go where he desired, as other natives had been seen concealed, and the tops of spears had appeared above the rocks. By signs he told us that there was water in the creek, but we did not require water, and I ascertained, by examination, that if we entered the creek, we would be liable to a volley from either side at close quarters; I would not therefore go, but put the boat in sufficiently near to throw the native a piece of bread, which he devoured ravenously, parting with a portion to some concealed person.
Observing a flat ledge of rock, where it appeared that we were secure from surprise, I ordered the boat to be put in, that I might land and entice the native to come forward with more bread. I landed, and was joined by Mr. T. C. Sholl, Tompkinson, and Quinlan. I could not induce the man to come. He sat on a rock, some forty yards off, and commenced singing and gesticulating. Our position was apparently safe; we were upon a table of rock about breast high, and from this we could see a clear space, with rising ground about 30 yards off. Before this space could be rushed we should be on our guard, and our weapons were in hand ready for service. Finding that the man would not come, I ordered the men into the boat, and followed them.
Mr. Sholl remained behind, making signs to the native. I told him to come into the boat. Before he did so he looked over the table rock, and saw some ten or twelve natives rushing towards us with their spears shipped, and about six yards from him. He stooped behind a rock, and looking over, pulled the trigger of his revolver, which missed fire. I was standing in the boat, and, hearing an exclamation, looked round. The air was darkened by a cloud of spears, dowaks, and other missiles; I saw before me, behind the table, a mass of black heads, breasts and arms. Cocking my revolver, I fired into the mass, about eight yards from me; Mr. Sholl also again pulled his trigger, and this time the pistol exploded. The natives at once retired, nor did we get another shot at close quarters. Had Mr. Sholl's pistol been true at first, I do not think a spear would have been thrown, so suddenly did the natives disappear after the two shots were fired.
We afterwards saw them among the rocks about 30 yards off, and as soon as any part of their persons were exposed we fired—that is Quinlan, Mr. Sholl, and myself. Tompkinson took a long shot with a revolver at the traitor native, who had shown his head above a rock, and so did Mr. Sholl, but I do not think either shot took effect, nor any of the long shots except one fired by Mr. Sholl from a carbine. He took deliberate aim at a native who, bolder than the rest, appeared from behind a rock with his spear shipped. He fell behind the rock, and I have no doubt was hit. The two shots fired at close quarters could not have failed to take effect in some part of the bodies of the natives. Although at the first onset Mr. Sholl's pistol missed fire, and thus the attack was not prevented, I believe that his pointing the weapon at the enemy disturbed their aim, which would otherwise have been more deadly. I am also of opinion that the two shots fired immediately after attack prevented our having another volley. Every barrel of Mr. Sholl's pistol, except the one, failed, and he had to employ the arms of others.
When the attack was beaten off, and the natives ceased to show from behind the rocks, we found that P.C. Gee had been wounded in the back of the left shoulder by a blunt spear, which had penetrated about half an inch, or perhaps more, and struck the shoulder blade. He saw the spear coming, and turned to evade it, catching it behind. Mr. Sholl also received a severe contused wound on the left arm, near the shoulder, inflicted either by a dowak or club. He received it when he was stooping down at the rush. The flesh was crushed and bleeding, and the arm black from the shoulder to the elbow. It was very painful. Gee complained of great pain, and begged of me to take him home. I accordingly ordered the boat to be turned in the direction of the camp.
As we left a low mournful wail arose, indicating that all had not gone well with the enemy. Large signal fires were at once lighted.
Every one in the boat behaved with coolness and self-possession. Coffee and Gee were engaged in keeping the boat ready for our immediate embarkation, and took no part in the fight.
The tide was now near its full, and it was desirable that we should arrive at Rogers' Straits, if possible, before the turn, as the current is there so strong that we might be delayed same hours. It was distant about ten miles. We had little or no wind, and had to pull. Gee was, of course, unable to take any part, and Mr. Sholl was also unable to handle an oar; the pulling was therefore done by Tompkinson, Quinlan, and Coffee, I from time to time lending such assistance as I could.
When we got to the Straits the tide had turned, and with four oars it was as much as we could do to make head-way. Mr. Sholl proposed to keep near the shore, and hold on to the mangroves, but Gee begged that he would not do so. He seemed to be in great agony. We anchored for a few minutes to give us breathing time, and then resumed our oars, but after pulling hard, found we were losing ground. We were now abreast of the channel between Augustus and Brecknock Islands, and again let go the anchor for a spell. It dragged for a few minutes, and then suddenly held fast. The bows of the boat were pulled under, she filled, and we were all in the current, swimming for our lives. Alas! not all. Poor Quinlan went down in the boat, and never rose again. We were all swept a mile from the scene of the accident in a very few minutes. Gee and Tompkinson each got an oar, the former notwithstanding his wound, striking out manfully. They made for two separate islands. Mr. Sholl, Coffee, and myself were together and strove to make one of the islands, but were carried past. We then attempted to get to the mainland, but while doing this were sucked in a whirlpool, and nearly lost. Hitherto Coffee had kept with me at my request, but when we emerged, thoroughly exhausted, and I thought all hope was gone, I told him to save himself, and not till then did he leave us. As this fine fellow was swimming off I spied one of the boat's beakers floating near him and Mr. Sholl asked him to push it our way, which he did, and offered to send an oar to us, but was told to keep it himself. He made for Camden Peninsula. I begged my son to leave me, but he would not; he said we would die together. Through God's mercy, by aid of the beaker, but mainly by the assistance of my son, my life was spared. He could have saved his life at any time. We tried to make Augustus Island and failed. Finally we determined to make a continued and vigorous effort to reach the mainland and, after struggling in the water for upwards of six hours, with varying success and without hope of ever landing alive, we reached the sandy beach which we had had left in the morning. The accident took place at about noon, we landed about an hour after moon rise. We were now from 8 to 10 miles from the spot where the boat sank, and two or three miles from where we had the encounter with the natives. The distance from camp, in a direct line, was about 10 miles, but we had to go round Augustus Water and many mangrove creeks, and we estimated our travelling distance at three or four times that measurement.
Thanking Almighty God for our merciful deliverance, and resting for a brief space, we proceeded along the beach no longer sandy but rocky, during the remainder of the night constantly dropping down, sometimes for a few minutes breathing time, and sometimes for an hour's broken slumber. By daylight of the 6th instant, we had, after skirting a small bay with mangrove creeks, arrived on the eastern shore of Augustus Water. This we followed towards the south, going inland to get round the creeks. At about noon on that day we got water at the head of a mangrove creek, the first fresh water we had partaken of since the accident.
Here we rested during the extreme heat of the day, drinking copious draughts of water. We were wearied with exertion, and faint from anxiety, toil, and fasting. Our clothes were torn with travelling; we were unarmed, and without food. My son was stronger than myself, but he suffered more than I did from thirst. Having strained one of my legs while swimming, moving through the long grass, up high hills, and over rough ground, was a matter of pain and difficulty. We however kept moving night and day, but our halts became more frequent.
Resuming our course, we found that the creeks at the southern end of the Water ran considerably to the S.S.E. and extended for a mile or so inland. As fast as we headed one, another had to be rounded, and the country was fearfully rugged. Late in the afternoon we attempted, as the tide was very low, to make a short cut across the mouth of the creek, but got bogged in the mud, and had to retrace our steps with much labour, and at an expenditure of much of our remaining strength. At night we were approaching the S.W. corner of Augustus Water. We slept for an hour or two, and then continued travelling round the creek. As near as we could guess it was 8 o'clock on the morning of the 7th inst., that we again got water at the head of a creek about a mile inland, and situated at the S.W. end of Augustus Water.
We now struck a due west course to clear the mangroves, and then a point or two to the northward. This shortly brought us to the track of the Glenelg expedition, which we followed, and soon came to the baobab described by Dr. Martin. At noon we reached camp, where we received the most kind and hearty welcome.
My first inquiries were for my companions. I was told that Tompkinson arrived in camp on the afternoon of the 9th instant. He had reached an island, and seeing Gee on another, not far off, had swam to him. He then made for Camden Peninsula, leaving Gee on the island. During the passage he had lost all his clothes, except his boots. It was moonlight when he reached the mainland, and in attempting to steer for the camp he lost his way, not discovering his error until daylight. Exposed to the sun he was fearfully scorched and, having no covering for the head, he wandered somewhat in discourse. He arrived in camp perfectly naked and thoroughly exhausted. He reported that Coffee, my son, and myself, were drawn into a whirlpool and drowned.
Succouring parties were sent towards the end of the Peninsula, who communicated, with Gee by discharging their carbines, and calling to him. One of these parties fell in with Coffee on the morning of my arrival. He was much exhausted, and being without trowsers, was much burnt on the middle and lower parts of his person. He also reported the deaths of my son and myself. He was brought in on the evening of the same day.
The surf boat had been sent on the morning of the 7th to relieve Gee, and he was brought into camp in the evening. His wound was not so painful, but he suffered much from the privations he had undergone.
Tompkinson and Coffee are slowly recovering. Poor Gee, however, is very ill, and Mr. Bompas entertains little or no hopes of his recovery. He has suffered from extreme shortness of breath, and has vomited and expectorated blood and salt water. He is in such agony that he cannot sleep, and any posture is irksome to him.
So far, we had all been mercifully saved. We have been preserved from drowning. Sharks, which often abound in the Straits, and were this day in swarms near the camp, did not come near us. We were not molested by the natives. As regards my son and myself, by God's Providence, we did not drift to the place of encounter with the natives, though at one time we were very near it. We had also fine moonlight nights, which enabled us to travel, otherwise I doubt whether we could have reached home. To journey continually in the heat of the day would have been too much for us.
The men all behaved well. There was no confusion. Every one seemed calm and collected. They have since born their sufferings with cheerful resignation. I cannot find words to express my sense of Coffee's noble conduct. To my son I am indebted, under God, that I am now alive to write this letter; but the matter is of too personal a nature to render its introduction proper in an official document.
Everything was done in camp which could be done with effect on this trying occasion. Mr. Bompas informs me that upon hearing of the accident he consulted with Assistant Storekeeper Chamberlain and Sergeant Aherne, as to the steps to be taken, and they devised the measures which proved so effectual. Everyone willing by and heartily rendered assistance.
At 6 a.m. an Saturday, the 9th inst., Mr. Sholl, having sufficiently recovered, proceeded to Rogers' Straits in the surf-boat to see whether there was any possibility of recovering poor Quinlan's body, or of raising the boat. I regret to state that he was unsuccessful. Nothing was seen of the body, and the recovery of a portion of the stern of the boat indicated her fate. She was lost, and everything in her, including private as well as public property.
No foresight could, I believe, have prevented the accident. The place is bare, or nearly so, at low water, and we could not possibly have anticipated so disastrous a result. Gee suffered so much that we strained every nerve to bring him into camp for medical treatment, and our object was to drop the anchor occasionally, in order that we might renew our strength and pull through the Straits. A few hundred yards further on would have brought us clear of the current. Our great apprehension was that the receding tide would leave us aground, when six hours must elapse before we could move forward.
I cannot say how deeply I regret this occurrence, involving, as it has done, the loss of a valuable life.
The Hon. the Colonial Secretary, Perth.
Sir,—I have the honor to report the arrival of the brig Kestrel in Brecknock Harbour on the 14th. inst. She sailed the next day for Augustus Island to take in water, and on the 19th inst. anchored in Camden Harbor. We commenced loading the next day, and still continue to send off goods. I expect we shall have finished to-day, and will be able to put the horses on board to-morrow.
Since I last addressed you per Wild Dayrell, which vessel sailed for Melbourne on the 11th August, our time has been mainly occupied in procuring a supply of water. At one time I thought of moving my party to Association Camp, the water at Mount Lookover getting slack, but happily was able to arrange it so that I brought water occasionally from that camp This was, however, a work of time, the casks having to be rolled some distance. The supply at Mount Lookover is not quite exhausted, and we draw from both places.
Since the feed has been burnt and the water holes near the camp have been dried up, the tending of the horses has been troublesome, and occupied from time to time several men, as I cannot send people out singly as in a settled country.
In my letter per Mystery I stated that it was my intention to proceed as soon as possible in search of a boat, the private property of Mr. J. Cowle, which had been stolen by the natives. I could not leave before the 4th September, when two boats were despatched, one in charge of Assistant Surveyor Cowle and the other under my control. Mr. Cowle returned in the course of a week without having succeeded in seeing either boat or natives. I regret to state that we did not all come back in safety. We were attacked by the natives in Port George the Fourth, when unfortunately P.C. Gee was wounded and died from the effects twelve days afterwards. In returning we lost our boat in Rogers' Straits, when Michael Quinlan, blacksmith, was, I am grieved to state, drowned. As I have furnished full particulars of these lamentable events, forwarded under another cover, it is unnecessary for me to recapitulate.
I abandoned the excavations at the gully well, our progress being slow, the labour great and the success problematical, It was fortunate I did so, as during the highest spring tides salt water rose in the hole, so our labour would have been wasted.
The weather has gradually become warmer, but is not unpleasant,
We embarked all our party on the 27th Oct., but the Kestrel did not sail from Camden Harbor until the 29th.
I regret to state that we had to leave behind our wooden buildings and timber, fencing, and shingles, to the value of £150, besides a tank and several horses, private property. One of the Government Police horses was also abandoned, but as he was old and weak I should not have taken him under any circumstances.
We had a long and unpleasant passage, the winds being adverse and the sailing capabilities of the ship not remarkable. We grazed a rock almost immediately after leaving Brecknock Harbor. It was about 4 miles from the Heads, and opposite the entrance. At the time we passed over it was covered with some ten feet water.
I regret to state that shortly after leaving Camden Harbor the horses (12) were placed on a short allowance of water (3 gallons) and suffered severely. At no time were they allowed more than 4 gallons, the ordinary supply being in temperate latitudes six, and in tropical latitudes eight gallons. One horse (belonging to Mr. Cowle) died before we arrived at Roebuck Bay. She slipped her foal, but would have recovered had there been sufficient water.
On the 8th Nov. the supply of water to the passengers was reduced to 2 quarts per diem, and this continued during our stay at Cape Villaret.
The ship put into Roebuck Bay, or rather anchored off Cape Villaret on the 13th inst., and here we remained until the 18th taking in water. I permitted our people to assist in watering the ship.
We were kindly received and hospitably entertained at Cape Villaret by Mr. Logue, the gentleman in charge of the Roebuck Bay Company's stations. Under his able management there is every prospect of this little settlement flourishing. The cattle, horses, and sheep at the home station were looking very well, and I was surprised that the parched herbage could keep stock in such condition.
There are four wells at the home station which yield an abundant supply of excellent water, far superior to any I have tasted here, and as good if not better than what we obtained at Camden Harbor.
The natives in the neighborhood of the stations have, thanks to Mr. Logue's management, become quiet. They now neither molest the people or stock. They understand that they will not be interfered with if they are peaceable, and when a whiteman approaches lay down their spears and allow him to pass. All attempts to open communication with them have hitherto failed.
The more distant tribes are, however, still hostile. An exploring party consisting of Messrs. Logue, McRae, and Vincent, with P.C. Toovey and a native, were nearly surprised, and shared the fate of Mr. Panter and his companions. This occurred at Barlee Springs. The native first discovered that there was an ambush, and the prowlers were driven off. Freshly cut clubs were found close to the spot, dropped by them in their retreat. They were followed up the next morning, and received a lesson which may possibly have good effect.
This expedition travelled within 20 miles of the Fitzroy, when it was compelled to return for want of water. The country is described as good and it was improving at the point of return. You will, however, receive information on all matters connected with this exploration from Mr. Logue himself.
While we were anchored off Cape Villaret Mr. Cowle, (who had kindly taken an interest in the horses, had superintended their shipping and was of great service on board the vessel) proposed to take the horses overland, stating his opinion that they would die if left on board the Kestrel, from want of sufficient water. I took into consideration the wretched state of the animals, and the probability, judging from the prevailing winds, of a protracted passage, and resolved to comply with his request. Accordingly eight horses were landed, one of them belonging to Mr. Pascoe, a settler. They were in a wretched plight, and Messrs. Logue and McRae both expressed an opinion that they could not survive the voyage. Mr. Cowle was equipped from our Government stores and provision for six weeks, one fortnight's rations being for his estimated detention at Cape Villaret. The party consists, besides Mr. Cowle, of Mr. Pascoe, J. Patterson, M. Murphy, and J. Stainer. Mr. Logue kindly consented to let him have one of his natives.
Our necessities may possibly, and I hope will, lead to a desired result, viz., the establishment of an overland route between this and Roebuck Bay. The only impediment I apprehend is want of water, but already there have been partial rains, and possibly the water-holes may be replenished. There has been no rain here, but there was heavy rain at the Sherlock some few days ago. At all events, I desired Mr. Cowle to fall back at once should he be short of water.
I kept one of the police horses and my pony for service in Tien Tsin Bay, should they be fortunate enough to survive.
On the 18th ult. we sailed from Cape Villaret, and having more favorable winds than before, reached our destination on the 24th November.
I landed at once, and with my son and some of the passengers set forth on foot in the direction of Mr. Withnall's station on the Harding, about ten miles from the beach. The day was hot, a strong burning wind blowing, and, coming from shipboard, we were not much fit for such exercise, and were obliged to halt about 4 miles from Mr. Withnall's, one man, accompanied by Tommy the native, going to try and procure us water. Tommy could not travel all the way, and the man (Schubert, from Roebuck Bay), arrived alone. We had two Swan River natives with us, but the other (Johnny), was completely done up.
In the course of two hours Mr. Broadhurst and Mr. Mueller arrived with a native, bearing a tin-can of water. Mr. Broadhurst kindly lent me his horse, and I rode to Mr. Withnall's, the others coming on in a cart. We were kindly received by Mrs. Withnall, her husband being absent from home at the time.
Acting under the advice of Mr. Broadhurst and others, I determined to land the horses on the beach, and the stores at the landing place in Butcher's Inlet, and returned on board.
The horses were landed the next morning, and ever since we have been discharging cargo. It is slow work, the ship lying between two and three miles from the spot where the Tien Tsin discharged, or at the mouth of the inlet, employing but one of her boats, and taking in water and wool on her own account. Two days may yet elapse before the ship is cleared of Government goods. The cargo ought to have been discharged in four days, for the horses were mostly landed at Roebuck Bay, and much of the cargo shipped at Camden Harbor was for Perth.
I fixed my quarters on the landing place, leaving Corporal Benson in charge of stores on board. Although suffering from ill health, he has continued to make himself very useful, selecting as far as possible such articles as I require to have landed speedily. Jackaman is at the Harding, where I intend establishing my permanent camp. He receives and stores the goods as they arrive in the carts.
It was my intention to have proceeded at once to Mount Blaze, having promised Mr. Cowle to meet him there, but I am informed that for seventy miles between this and the DeGrey there is no water, so I shall have to wait for rain. Mr. Cowle, if he gets so far, will be detained at the DeGrey River for the same reason. I purpose in the mean time visiting the different stations and making such trips as the water supply will allow.
Our camping ground is on a rising ground above the influence of the spring tides. I was at one time apprehensive that the property landed on the banks of the creek about a quarter of a mile distant, would have been injured by inundation, but Mr. Hall very kindly made arrangements for carting away to high ground the perishable articles, and everything is properly secured.
The natives are a fine race of men. Their conduct has, I am pleased to state, been very good from the first settlement of the district until the present time. They have been friendly towards the settlers, and are more willing, as well as able to work than any natives I have yet met with. For this happy state of affairs we are indebted to a native named Mullagongh, whose influence is very great, and who appears to possess a greater share of intelligence than usually falls to the lot of these men. At Mr. Hall's request I have granted Mullagongh a passage to Fremantle, considering that these visits to the more settled parts of the Colony are calculated to lead to beneficial results.
With the exception of rare and partial showers, this district has been unvisited by rains for 16 or 18 months, and the supply of water is less than it has been since the arrival of the settlers. The flocks are now at a distance from this neighbourhood, and I have heard fears expressed that it will become necessary to fall further back. There are, however, indications of a change. The cattle and horses look in good condition notwithstanding the parched condition of the herbage.
The affairs of the Denison Plains Company do not seem to be more thriving than were those of the Camden Harbor Association, upon my arrival in February. The shareholders now work on their own account, and the last of the rations have been divided. There is, however this difference between the two companies. The stock of the Camden Harbor people have perished, while the flocks and herds of the Denison Plains Association are increasing and thriving. Mr. Broadhurst is I believe, anxiously awaiting the receipt of more decisive intelligence from Victoria.
When the Kestrel arrived it was reported that the settlers were short of provisions, and upon enquiry I ascertained that there was not more than six bags of flour among 105 European inhabitants. I was asked to relieve their necessities, and should of course have done all in my power to assist them; but it was afterwards discovered that there were several tons of flour and other stores on board the Kestrel, consigned to some of the settlers, of which, neither they nor myself were aware, and this, together with provisions purchased from the passengers, (the savings from the liberal rations furnished by the Government,) will enable them to get along without borrowing from us until the arrival of the Mystery, expected some time next month.
I have found the weather hotter both here and at Cape Villaret than at Camden Harbor; but the season is advancing and I was not in Camden Harbor during the height of the summer. The Thermometrical Returns at Roebuck Bay indicate a generally cooler temperature than in Camden Harbor.
Not having travelled further than Mr. Withnall's station on the Harding, I am not in a position to report upon the capabilities of the country, but hope to do so in my next communication.
The health of the settlers has been good throughout, and, as regards my own party, I may state that our health has been, on the whole, good both at Camden Harbor and this place. Some of the people were afflicted with trifling ailments at the former locality, but there were few cases of a serious nature.
I shall be very glad to see police corporal Benson (invalided) back again. Owing to his illness I had more trouble than usual in shipping goods at Camden Harbor. I am much, indebted to Mr. Cowle for the assistance he has rendered me and for his readiness in volunteering to take charge of the overland party from Roebuck Bay.
Until I can procure the services of a competent person to keep and issue the provisions and other stores as well as to keep the necessary accounts, I shall retain Assistant Storekeeper Chamberlain, although with our present reduced force so expensive a public servant is hardly required. The work connected with this department might at any time have been easily performed by a quick and intelligent person in two hours daily, taking one day with another; now it ought not to occupy an hour a-day. Mr. Chamberlain confines himself entirely to this particular work, and has been of no assistance to me either in shipping cargo at Camden Harbor or in landing and storing the goods at this place.
The conduct of the pensioners, their wives and families, has been generally good from the time they left Fremantle until I landed from the Kestrel in Tien Tsin Harbor. They remain on board that vessel and proceed in her to Fremantle.
[* In Sholl's dispatch of 2 December 1865 called Tien Tsin Harbour; Ed.]
Sir,—The schooner Emma, . . . .
It is with sincere pleasure that I inform you of the safe arrival of Mr. Cowle at the DeGrey. He arrived there on the 3rd inst., with Mr. Pascoe, Jno. Stainer, and Michael Murphy. He lost three horses before leaving Roebuck Bay; had to shoot a mare of his own en route, and another mare, (the property of Mr. Pascoe), had to be abandoned. His party suffered severely, being several days without food, and for some time without water. One man—Patterson—was left behind at Roebuck Bay. They saw four different tribes of natives, who were peaceably disposed. The country between Roebuck Bay and the DeGrey Mr. Cowle describes to be well grassed some 15 or 20 miles from the coast, and he stated that anywhere water could be got by sinking at a depth of not more than 10 or 12 feet. Thus much I learnt from Mr. Cowle. Passengers by the Emma state that no river was discovered; so that between the DeGrey and the Fitzroy there is no discharge of inland water. I am sorry to hear that Mr. Cowle was not at all well when the Emma left. As soon as the party had recovered they were to start for this place, and may be expected every day. We now know that there is a good overland route to Roebuck Bay, with available land for pasture; at all events near the coast. During the wet season it may in all probability be traversed with facility.
By the Emma will return three men whose time has expired, P.C. Jackaman (relieved), and Mr. Chamberlain. I shall require more men for survey and other purposes. As we have now only one police horse left, I shall want a fresh supply for police, survey, and general work. . . .
The Hon. the Colonial Secretary, &c., &c., Perth.
Sir,—I have already had the honor of notifying by my letter of the 30th ult. No. 45-1143, that His Excellency Governor Hampton had been pleased, subject to the approval of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, to confer on you the appointment of Government Resident in the North District of this Colony, and it now becomes my duty, by the Governor's directions, to lay down for your guidance general instructions for carrying on the public service in the very responsible position to which you have been nominated.
2.—The boundaries of the North District are defined in the existing Land Regulations, with copies of which you have been furnished, and settlers have already proceeded to several localities within its limits; its extent however renders it impracticable for one Magistrate to exercise jurisdiction over the whole, and it has been decided you should proceed to Camden Harbor, to which port several vessels with settlers and stock are reported to have sailed from the colony of Victoria, and that the ultimate division of the new country into separate Districts should be left for further consideration.
3.—With this view the barquetta Tien Tsin has been chartered and will be ready to sail on or about the 25th inst., with the party detailed to accompany you.
4.—I annex (enclosure No. 1) a nominal list of several persons who have been directed to proceed with you to your destination, showing also the rates of salary payable to each person, and the duties to which they have been specially appointed; you will distinctly understand that all the persons named in this list are placed under your authority and control; that His Excellency looks to you for the enforcement of good conduct amongst them, and for the efficient discharge of their respective duties. The necessity of prompt and cheerful obedience to your wishes and instructions has been carefully impressed upon them, and it should be your earnest endeavour, by every means in your power, so to regulate your intercourse with them as to ensure the existence of those reciprocal friendly feelings, without which the interests of the public service are sure to suffer.
5.—Mr. Assistant Surveyor Phelps has been appointed to the Commission of the Peace, and, as the person next in rank to yourself, will, either in the event of any casualty occurring, or in the case of your illness or absence from Camden Harbor or its vicinity, assume your duties, reporting his proceedings, with as little delay as possible, to Head Quarters.
6.—The men detailed to accompany you have been so carefully selected that their misconduct is looked upon as a very improbable event; should, however any misbehaviour or insubordination unfortunately take place, the Governor looks to you to take such prompt steps as may at once check such proceedings, and authorises you to suspend any member of the party so offending from pay and duly, and to appoint, ponding his pleasure, such persons as you may find it necessary to engage for the protection of your party, and the performance of such duties as you may deem necessary or advisable.
7.—On board the Tien Tsin your party will be rationed by the owners of the vessel, in accordance with a scale and on terms arranged by the Government, and it will form part of your duty to see that the rations issued are of good quality, in a proper quantity, and that effective arrangements are provided for cooking and messing purposes generally. I have already handed to you a copy of the terms on which the Tien Tsin has been engaged.
8.—During the voyage you will issue such instructions as you may consider to be proper for the comfort and good conduct of the party under your control, being specially careful that the rules relating to cleanliness, hours for meals and retiring to rest, the use of lights, and the non-interference with the crew of the vessel, are rigidly enforced; and it is desirable you should instruct your party not to assist in working the vessel, except at the special request of the Master, and then only under your instructions.
9.—You will be furnished with horses for Police and Survey purposes, and with some sheep, in order that you may have a supply of fresh meat on landing, and it is, I feel sure needless to suggest that your special attention should be directed to the care of the stock during the voyage; regular watches, day and night, should be appointed; change of food should be given to the sheep or horses if they appear unwell; and should they not take to the natural herbage on landing, you will give them forage, of which an ample supply will be provided.
10.—Rations for nine months for your whole party will be placed on board by the Commissariat Department, and will be in charge of Mr. J. Chamberlain Assistant, Commissariat Storekeeper, who will issue them, on landing, under your instructions. Each of the officers and men of your party will be entitled to a free ration until further orders, but for the rations issued to the wives and children of Pensioners and Police, a stoppage will be made at the rate of 6d. per diem for adults, and 3d. per diem for the children. Considerable supplies other than the daily ration, will be furnished by the Commissariat, and can be issued under your orders, but these must all be paid for, at prices to be previously arranged. A large assortment of medical comforts will also be placed under your control, to be used in cases of sickness or emergency.
11.—Your first duty on arrival at Camden Harbor will be to land in company with Mr. Assistant Surveyor Phelps, and to decide on some spot for the location of your party, and the formation of a depôt. In selecting a locality it is desirable that a somewhat commanding site should be chosen, not in the immediate neighbourhood of settlers who may have arrived before you, nor at so remote a distance as to preclude the rendering mutual assistance, if necessary; the vicinity of good water should be a sine quâ non, and if practicable the ground should be so chosen that a rough fence or stockade could be erected round it, so as to prevent the possibility of surprise by sudden attack from the aborigines.
12.—The first and paramount care will be to see that your stores of all descriptions are properly housed and protected, and that a sufficient party are at all times left with them for their own protection and that of the property entrusted to them. A wooden house, 30 by 15 feet, and in two compartments, which can be quickly put together, will be shipped on board the Tien Tsin, and in addition to a supply of tents for immediate use, timber for rammed earth quarters for all your party, with door frames and windows, will be furnished, so that it is hoped, by exerting all the strength of your party to this end, it will not be long before you are enabled to report that the exposure to the sun and rain has not been of long duration. A due regard to health in the tropics renders this a matter of primary importance.
13.—A medical man has not been detailed to accompany the expedition, because it is understood from a reliable source that two surgeons have already proceeded thither from Melbourne. In such case, you are authorised to engage the services of one of them to attend members of your party on such terms as may appear to be fair and reasonable. Should it unfortunately prove that no surgeon is available, His Excellency trusts that the medical knowledge possessed by you and Mr. Chamberlain, will enable you to use with judgment and benefit the medicines supplied, which are in ample quantity and selected by the Principal Medical Officer, with a due regard to the peculiarities of the climate and the probable ailments that will be prevalent on the North-West Coast.
14.—Prior to conveying the instructions, of His Excellency the Governor, as to your general proceedings after your landing has been effected and your stores properly housed, I am to offer for your guidance, some remarks on the several official duties of a varied and important nature that will devolve upon you as the Government Resident of the District.
15.—You will be provided by the Colonial Treasurer with a sum of five hundred pounds to meet casual expences, pay wages, &c., and as the majority of those who accompany you have made arrangements to draw their salaries in Perth, it is believed this sum, with the amounts that will probably from time be paid to you as revenue, will be sufficient for all public purposes for some considerable period, but in the event of your being pressed for money to carry on the public service, you are authorised to draw upon the Colonial Secretary for such an amount as you may require. It is impassible to issue instructions as to a system of exchange which can only be regulated by local circumstances, and it must therefore be left to your judgment and experience. You must understand that it is considered, advisable that you should entertain monetary transactions in any form but that of cash payments, except in the event of your having to draw upon the Government for money. You will be provided with a secure iron chest for the safe custody of cash, and though you are at liberty to oblige others by depositing private monies in it, such accommodation is only to be afforded at their urgent request, and in all cases at their own risk. You have already been instructed to place yourself in communication with the Colonial Treasurer, who will afford you detailed information as to the mode of keeping the public accounts, which should have your special care, and furnish you with the necessary books, forms, &c.
16.—In the Government Gazette of the 17th instant, a proclamation appears notifying the declaration of Port Camden, and this has been done to enable you to carry out the provisions of the Customs Ordinance of 1860, so far as its provisions are to be made applicable to the North District. The boundaries of this Port are extensive, in order that you may have full scope for determination as to the best places for landing goods, and for the future erection of bonding storehouses. It will be your duty to issue notices as to the proper places for landing goods, and to see that your instructions on this head are strictly adhered to. It is not proposed at present to levy duties on imported goods, other than spirits, wines, beer, and tobacco, on which the usual import duties will be provided such duties have not previously been paid in the settled Districts, and it is desirable you should give public notice to this effect, in some formal manner, as soon as practicable after your arrival. The Collector of Customs has been instructed to afford to you and to the Tidewaiter the fullest information on all points connected with the duties of his Department, and to see that you are furnished with proper gauging instruments, books, forms, and such other matters as he may consider to be essential for the due carrying out of the services to be performed by you.
17.—The Registration of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, will not at first prove a duty of a very onerous nature, but it is advisable you should, at an early date, make yourself acquainted with the number, sex, ages, and condition of those who may have arrived at Port Camden, and make the necessity for, and the mode of registration, generally known. This, and a due attention to returns of arrivals and departures, will enable you to compile a correct census of your population at any time with little trouble, with which it is necessary you should periodically keep the Registrar-General acquainted. That officer has been directed to provide you with the customary set of books and forms, and such information as to the mode of keeping them as you may require.
18.—Copies of the Acts of Council, with such books of legal reference as are likely to be of use to you, will be supplied, and to enable you summarily to decide cases of debt to an extent of £50, and thus avoid the spread of litigation or a reference to the Supreme Court, a Local Court has been established at the Town of Elliot, in Port Camden, and you have been appointed the Magistrate thereof. This will probably remain a dead letter; for some time, but has been inaugurated for the decision of cases that cannot now be foreseen.
19.—A sergeant, a corporal, and ten privates of the Enrolled Pensioner Force have been detailed to accompany the expedition, and act as a protection to the party, and a guard over the stores. Definite and precise instructions have been drawn up by the Honorable the Commandant, showing the duties to be rendered by them, and the position they hold towards you, and a copy of these instructions will be handed to you. When not on, or wanted for, military duty these men can be employed in the erection of buildings, or such other work as you may decide upon, and will be paid by you on the spot, at the rates specified in the instructions adverted to.
20.—A corporal of Police, with two European and two native constables, have been placed under orders to proceed in the Tien Tsin to Camden Harbor, for the performance of the usual police duties of your District. These men have been selected not only for their qualities as good bushmen, but as intelligent, active constables, who will cheerfully carry out your instructions, not alone as connected with the duties of their particular department, but in any way you may consider their services most available. They will be provided with four horses for riding purposes, with full equipment of saddlery, and a cart and two draught horses will be shipped for general service, and can be looked after for the present by the Police, who will see that a due supply of forage is placed on board the Tien Tsin. The Superintendent of Police has been directed to forward for your information a copy of his instructions as to the departmental duties of these men. The corporal of Police has also been appointed to act as the Bailiff of the Local Court.
21.—Mr. T. Sholl, who has been appointed to the office of Postmaster at Port Camden, in addition to the other duties that he will assume on arrival thither, has been directed to report himself to the Postmaster-General, in order to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the postal duties, and it is desirable you should see that a proper supply of postage and official stamps, and other requisites for carrying out the postal regulations are provided.
22.—Assistant Surveyors Phelps and Cowle have been directed to accompany you, with chainers, tents, carts, and four horses, and will, like all other members of the expedition, be placed under your orders. I have already informed you that His Excellency has added the name of Mr. Phelps to the Commission of the Peace, and that he will assume your duties, in the event of any casualty or illness disabling you, and the Governor feels sure that you may depend on receiving the counsel and aid his experience may enable him to afford, and that on all occasions he will endeavour to uphold your authority, and assist you in the discharge of the multifarious and responsible duties devolving on you. The Honorable the Surveyor General will furnish you with a copy of the instructions he has issued for the guidance of Mr. Phelps, in which you will find many valuable hints that will be of great service to you in the selection of townsites, and in general routine of your important duties in connection with the sale and leasing of land, and the location or runs of settlers, who either have already arrived, or may hereafter arrive, with stock.
23.—To assist you in constructing with as little delay as possible, the necessary buildings for the location of the members of your party, some laborers and mechanics are to be hired to accompany you; the nominal list referred to in the paragraph No. 2, shows the conditions on which they have been engaged, and the rates at which they are to be paid. These men are placed entirely under your orders, and it would appear advisable they should be employed: 1st,—In assisting in the temporary location of the party and stores; 2nd,—In clearing the bush in the vicinity of the camp; 3rd,—In clearing such tracks as may be necessary to and from the camp; 4th,—In the collecting of material for, and erecting of, the buildings requisite for housing the party. His Excellency, however, does not in any way desire to fetter your discretion as to the manner in which they are to be employed, feeling sure your good sense and discretion will lead you to put them to the most advantageous purposes.
24.—The selection and laying out of a townsite on the shore of Port Camden or its immediate vicinity, will be one of the first and most important duties that will devolve upon you, and in this you will be greatly assisted by Mr. Assistant Surveyor Phelps, and by the very copious instructions on this head with which he has been furnished by the Surveyor-General. Materials for building purposes, means for good drainage, an ample water supply, adjacent grounds suitable for garden purposes, and free exposure to the sea breezes, will be matters not likely to escape your observation when directed to this object.
25.—The Regulations for the lease and disposal of land require your careful attention, as on your arrival you will, in all probability, be called upon by many persons connected with the Melbourne Camden Harbour Association to locate them on lands which they may have selected without reference to the rules applicable to pastoral lands or to the neighbourhood of proposed townsites or public reserves. I have handed to you for presentation to Mr. Meaden, the managing Director of this Association, a letter addressed to him from my office, enclosing a copy of a letter to Mr. Harvey, also a Director of the Association, in which the decision of His Excellency on the numerous applications received from those gentlemen is clearly and precisely laid down. A copy of this communication I have also forwarded for your own guidance in dealing with their applications. Under, the land regulations, and adhering to the stipulations laid down in this letter, you are authorized to approve the applications of persons for free runs of land not exceeding 100,000 acres for anyone establishment, but, on consideration of those applications, and prior to their approval, you will bear in mind, that a preference is to be shown to any person who may desire to secure land at once by taking in blocks of 20,000 acres on 8 years' leases, and, with payment at the rate of five shillings per 1,000 acres. You will be specifically careful in dealing with applications for free runs from persons connected with the Camden Harbor Association, to look at them by the light of the prospectus of that Association. Claims from the hired servants of that Association cannot be admitted, unless in each instance a separate establishment is formed. Should there be conflicting claims for the same run, and in your opinion the claims of each applicant are equal in every respect, the matter must be decided by lot. Each applicant for a separate run must satisfy you that the stock on account of which he claims a run is bona fide his property. You are further authorised to approve applications for the purchase of Town, Suburban and Country lots. Town and Suburban lots are to be sold by public auction, the former at an upset price of £10 per lot, and the latter at an upset price of £3 per acre, at periodical times, to be duly notified by you. Country allotments will be sold during the first twelve months to the extent of 150,000 acres, at the rate of 7s. 6d. per acre, under Regulations proclaimed on the 17th instant, and which will be published in the Government Gazette of the 20th instant, with copies of which you will be furnished. After twelve months, or within that time, supposing 150,000 acres to have been disposed of, country lands will be sold at 10s. per acre, under the Regulations of 20th August, 1864. Under the new regulations you will note that, during the ensuing twelve months, purchasers of country lands to an extent of 160 acres at 7s. 6d. per acre, will be entitled to one town allotment at the same rate.
26.—As a Stipendiary Magistrate, it will be your duty, assisted when necessary by Mr. Phelps, to administer the law. Your extensive knowledge of the Acts of Council applicable to cases of summary jurisdiction renders any remark on this head unnecessary. Directions have already been issued to supply you with such numbers of the usual forms applicable to minor Courts, as you are likely to require for some time.
27.—The treatment of the aborigines, who are reported to be troublesome and treacherous, will demand the utmost caution on your part. The able instructions on this head issued by the South Australian Government to Colonel Finniss, who has proceeded to Adam Bay in a somewhat similar capacity to that you are about to assume, are herewith repeated for your guidance, His Excellency the Governor feeling that it is impossible better to express the line of conduct he would wish should be assumed towards the native inhabitants of the soil you are about to occupy: "Your duty will be to exercise the greatest caution and forbearance in communicating with them; to warn your party to studiously avoid giving them the slightest offence; and should you find them sufficiently trustworthy to have intercourse with them, or to enter into any dealings with them, you must insist upon every transaction being carried out on your part with the most scrupulous exactness; and, while it may be well to encourage communication with them, by showing them you are prepared to trust them, you will take every precaution against their taking you by surprise, by always being prepared to act upon the defensive, by keeping regular watch in your camp, and by ordering your party not to move about the country in small parties, or unarmed. Above all, you must warn your party to abstain from anything like hostility towards them, and to avoid the extremities of a conflict, which must only be had recourse to in self-defence, and only then from absolute necessity. You will show them that, while you are anxious to gain their good-will and confidence by kindness and judicious liberality, you are able to repel, and, if necessary, punish aggression." As a matter of precaution, I am directed to impress on you the necessity that, for some time after your arrival, a line should be drawn around your camp and distinctly marked, inside of which line no natives should, on any pretence whatever, be admitted. A large supply of presents, suitable for the aborigines, has been purchased, and will be despatched in the Tien Tsin, to be disposed of in such manner as may seem desirable to you.
28.—You will not fail to see that Divine Service is regularly and decently performed, and it will be the duty of all your party professing the Protestant faith to attend on such occasions.
29.—After your party is landed, the Tien Tsin will return to Fremantle, and it is desirable you should, by that opportunity, as far as practicable, forward a report containing your impressions of the coast, the climate and its productions, the suitability of Port Camden as a resort for shipping, your general ideas as to the formation of a town, some account of the proceedings of those who have arrived before you, and any information of a general nature that may be made available for intending settlers. You will also not fail to communicate with head-quarters by every available opportunity, giving a full account of your proceedings, and of the progress of the settlement.
30.—Your correspondence will in all cases be addressed to the Colonial Secretary, and you will make it known among your party that no communication that any of them desires to make to the Government will be acknowledged, unless it be transmitted through you, in order that you may forward a report thereon for the information of His Excellency the Governor.
31.—There is no reason to doubt that on arrival at Port Camden, you will find a settlement already formed, and from one to two hundred persons, with a considerable number of stock, in occupation of the country. It is just possible that exploration of the coast may have induced them to form a location at some point not immediately in the neighbourhood of Port Camden, and it will be for your careful consideration to decide whether it would be wise to follow the example of those who have preceded you, or closely to adhere to the instructions to form your Depôt at Port Camden. On this point it is impossible to issue precise directions, but His Excellency has full confidence in your judgment and discretion, feeling assured he may safely leave the matter in your hands, and that, should you feel it necessary to deviate from the course laid down, you will be able to afford good and sufficient reasons for so doing.
32.—I have endeavoured in the foregoing instructions to place you fully in possession of the views of His Excellency Governor Hampton upon the principal points of duty that will devolve upon you, but their are numerous details into which it is impossible I should enter, and which, at so great a distance from head-quarters, can only be decided by yourself. You are to consider these instructions as for your general guidance; you are not bound to adhere to them in minute particulars, where circumstances may occur to justify a departure from them; but whenever you may decide on any departure from them, you will be careful to report the cases; and the reasons for such departure, for the information of His Excellency the Governor. I shall only, in conclusion, assure you that His Excellency fully relies on your ability and discretion, and the cheerful obedience of the members of your party; and while he prays that the blessings of an All-merciful providence may attend your proceedings, he commits you to His care, in the firm belief that your expedition is the first step to the opening of a new and important province of the Australian Continent, and that you are acting as the pioneer of future wealth and civilization, beneficial to Western Australia and the Mother Country.
To R. J. Sholl, Esquire,
Government Resident, North District.
Sir,—It is with much pleasure that I as the Chairman of the Camden Harbor Pastoral Association, welcome your arrival here with an efficient staff of officers and servants to carry out the work of the Government of this place. Inasmuch as it clearly shows the desire of His Excellency the Governor of Western Australia to promote the interests of the pioneers of the North Western District of his province; and to establish amongst us order and good government, principles dear to every Englishman.
It is however my painful duty to inform you that, after a residence of upwards of two months in Camden Harbor, I with a very large majority of the members of the Camden Harbor Pastoral Association, have arrived at the firm conviction that the country is unsuitable for the growth of wool; as well in reference to the ragged natural features of the land, as to the intense heat of the climate; beside other climatic hindrances.
2.—In proof of this I beg to observe that 4,500 sheep—or thereabouts—were landed here two months since, and now there are but 1,200 or 1,300 of that number alive. The deaths have arisen, as I believe, (a), From the intense heat of the climate, the sheep have not been able to recover from the fatigues of a sea voyage, (b), The hilly, rocky, and stony features of the country over which the sheep have to feed, being beyond their strength, (c), The grasses being of too dry and hard a nature for them to feed upon, do not contain nourishment sufficient to keep up, to say nothing of the recovery of their strength, (d), A large variety of blowflies which are numerous beyond description, and which deposit their living young upon the wounds inflicted on the sheep by the native dogs; thereby causing certain death, (e), In some instances without even a wound, the backs of the sheep have been discovered to be one mass of living maggots deposited on the damp wool. Hence the small balance left are in such a weak and precarious condition, that it is not at all improbable, numbers of them yet will die, when the heavy rains set in; being physically unable to contend against the violent atmospheric phenomena of this climate.
3.—I have also the honor to inform you that several parties of explorers have been out looking for country. One party especially has been out in a direct line as nearly as they can guess 60 miles. But all have described the country they have seen as being composed of high rocky ranges of hills, many of them precipitous, especially in the locality of the Glenelg, and unfit for occupation. Not but that, here and there, patches of good country have been seen with grassy flats from 1,000 to 3,000 acres in extent, but they are so situated that even if it were possible to drive sheep on to them, no stores could be conveyed up, or wool brought back, because of the peculiar rugged formation of the land. Moreover these good patches being thus surrounded by impracticable country, and of themselves being far too small in extent for a Station, they are thus so far as the purposes of the Camden Harbor Pastoral Association are concerned entirely unsuited to their wants. This description will apply in its general sense to the district of the Gairdner River, the Glenelg River, the country round about Mount King, and to the region of Doubtful Bay. Hence, so the whole district of Camden Harbor.
I must not omit to notice that all the explorers speak of the very great scarcity of game. Especially the party which have been furthest out, who say that they saw not a dozen kangaroo, or turkey during the twelve days they were out. But they shot two cockatoos and one pigeon, being all or nearly all the game they saw. Thus by an acknowledged rule of judging the condition of Bush Lands, 'there being few or no game, the country is not sufficiently productive of food to support them,' hence it is not fit for the depasturage of sheep and cattle. With these facts before us proved by practical observation, it is the fixed determination of a majority, if not all, of the members of the Camden Harbor Pastoral Association to abandon the district of Camden Harbor by the first available opportunity.
4.—I also further observe that it was upon the statements set forth in the several pamphlets sent by the Perth Government to our Association in Melbourne, that the members thereof resolved to settle at Camden Harbor. They now by actual observation and practical experience find that the country and its adaptability for sheep farming are not such as are set forth in those pamphlets. It is not with the object of complaint that I make this statement, but to show that I feel we have a just claim upon the sympathy of the Government of Western Australia in our present condition. A condition, Sir, entirely induced by the statements made in the pamphlets set forth by the authority of the Government of Western Australia.
5.—It is therefore, Sir, with much respect for your position here as Government Resident, that I shall trespass a short time longer upon your time and patience, while I lay before you the requests I have to make.
6.—The members of this Association have all been induced to come here under the conviction that 40 head of sheep landed in the Northern Territory would represent a claim to a lease of run of 20,000 acres. A copy of a letter from your Government is now in possession of Mr. Meadon, one of the members of the Committee of the Camden Harbor Pastoral Association is the authority on which we based our conviction. Now the official letter sent by your Government to our acting secretary, Mr. Meadon, allows only 10,000 acres for 40 sheep per share.
Such being the case, I at once unhesitatingly say that a block of 10,000 acres is not a sufficient area in extent of land to constitute a sheep run in the district of Camden Harbor, and must be abandoned on the principle that "the first loss is the best," if the former condition of 20,000 acres be not conceded to us. Speaking advisedly, I can say that every member of one share only, will leave the country by the first opportunity. I would, Sir, be very sorry to write to you in a tone which would give you the impression that I was holding out a threat to you—that if such and such concessions were not made to us, we would act thus and thus; I trust you will credit me with the truth when I say I have too great a reverence for properly recognized authority to do that. But as it is always well to speak well, and to do so is to speak plainly. May I not therefore suggest with every respect for the regulations of your Government that each share of 40 sheep shall represent 20,000 acres.
7.—Such being granted, I have another boon to ask—which is, that the right to take up runs of 20,000 acres for 40 sheep landed in the Northern Territory of Western Australia, that is in Camden Harbor, be transferred to the district of Nickol Bay, or other portion of the North Western Territory, upon the application of those members of the Camden Harbor Pastoral Association who, resolving to leave Camden Harbor may desire to settle down on a more eligible country. The landing of the sheep in Camden Harbor to be considered in "bona fide" as if landed at Nickol Bay or elsewhere.
8.—In conclusion, allow me to say that the natural features of Camden Harbor are such that it is adapted neither for the depasture of sheep and cattle, or for cultivation. For except, on the water-washed flats of hungry soil composed mainly of disintegrated quartz, and decomposed sand stone, I have not seen one square acre of soil in one continuous block in which the plough could be used. There are however on the banks of the Gairdner River some rich alluvial flats, but are covered deep at each flood; and these as well as those on the Glenelg River are so boggy that they are dangerous for a horseman to venture upon. Immediately after the first rains in January last, I planted french beans, peas, melons, cucumbers and other vegetables; none of them have succeeded. The residue are a few straggling sickly water melons. This may perhaps be accounted for by its not being the right season for planting seeds. Banana, Ginger, and pine apple plants which have been also put into a well and deeply dug plot of ground have succeeded but very badly. Maize came up and grew to about 6 inches in height and then died. The soil is not rich—it has the appearance and consistency of well burnt brick earth; nor have been seen any of those exceedingly rich alluvial flats spoken of in the pamphlets published in Perth, though the country has been well searched to an area of 12 miles in extent around the harbor. Time has not allowed us to judge of the continuance of green grass. When we landed in Dec. the aspect of the country was that of a dry barren scorched up desert; since then there have been some rains, and grass has sprung up and clothed the hill sides with luxuriant verdure, hiding the stones and small boulders which cover the whole ground as if they had been ejected from a volcano. This grass is now as high as when we landed in December last. The conjecture then is, that during the cool season the grass will keep green, but that from (say) August to January it is dry and parched up, as we found it last December, devoid of nourishment, and therefore of no possible use as feed for sheep to support life with under the heat of the torrid zone. This however I imagine not to be the natural condition of the country comprising the Northern Territory, but the peculiar condition of a district which without exaggeration, is composed entirely of heaps upon heaps of red vitrified stones, reflecting with increased ferocity the glare and heat of a tropical sun.
9.—Allow me, Sir, to say further, that the desire of the majority of the members of the Camden Harbor Pastoral Association, is to settle down "in bona fide" as sheep farmers, and would therefore far prefer to locate themselves on some eligible country for that purpose, than to return to Melbourne, if there is a reasonable prospect of being successful in Western Australia. They have already in this expedition sunk £20,000, more or less, as a proof of their sincerity of purpose. Many of the members represent and belong to large and wealthy squatting and business firms in Victoria, which are only waiting the intelligence they may receive from us to forward sheep and all the requisites for large squatting stations in North West Australia.
I have, Sir, to apologize to you for the length of this letter, my only plea is the urgency of the case. As the recognized head of the Camden Harbor Pastoral Association. I feel deep sorrow at the failure of its intentions, and earnest desire to remedy the evil, and to promote as far as I can the interests of every individual member of the same.
Signed on behalf and at the unanimous request of a full meeting of the Shareholders of the Camden Harbor Pastoral Association, in Public Meeting assembled February 23rd, 1865.
To R. J. Sholl, Esquire, P.M.
Government Resident &c., &c.
Sir,—I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 25th Instant, in which, as Chairmen of the Camden Harbor Pastoral Association, you, on the part of the Shareholders of that Association, make certain statements and prefer certain queries which demand immediate attention on my part.
Before however I discuss the main portion of your letter, I must express my thanks for the hearty manner with which you have welcomed my presence and that of my party in the district, and also to express my gratification at the earnest desire exhibited for the establishment of order and good Government in this remote portion of Her Majesty's dominions.
You state truly that the presence of my party in this locality is evidence of the desire of His Excellency the Governor to promote the interests of the pioneers of the North Western District. I can, from my own personal knowledge, assert that the Governor has invariably evinced a lively interest in the settlement of this portion of the Colony, and when he received authentic intelligence of the departure of settlers to Camden Harbor, as soon as the means of Transport were attainable, organized and despatched at great cost, the present expedition.
He will, I am sure, learn with as much surprise and regret, that you report after a residence of upwards of two months in Camden Harbor, that the country in its vicinity is not adapted for the growth of wool, as from the statements of explorers he, in common with others, had arrived at an opposite conclusion. The evidence however contained in your letter respecting the fate of the stock imported by your Association supported as it is by facts, can leave no doubt either that the present site is not adapted for the purpose, or that the season has been purely exceptional and prejudicial.
Since my arrival I have been informed that for several days after landing you were unable to discover water for your stock, and I can bear testimony to the difficulty experienced in discovering a spot containing sufficient water for my party and the few head of stock belonging to us. Now, we know that all who have preceded us have found abundance of this essential, and the heavy rains which have just set in are sufficient to assure us that, as a general rule, water is easily attainable and abundant. I believe that future explorers will find ho difficulty on this score at any season of the year, and that settlers are more likely to be inconvenienced by an excess than a short supply of water.
The country on the sea coast I can from my personal observation state to be utterly unfit for any stock, except perhaps goats of a very hardy nature. The land is too rocky and the grass too coarse and innutritious to satisfy animals not thoroughly acclimatised.
Owing to my own personal superintendence being necessary during the landing of stores and the location of my party, I have not been able to give my own experience with respect to the interior of the country, and regret that the accounts of your explorers should differ so materially from those of Grey and other travellers; for if the country is of the nature you describe it would scarcely be advisable to take up land for pastoral occupation, or to form any permanent establishment in the district. It will be my duty when our party is settled to examine the country and judge from personal observation.
With respect to the erroneous impression conveyed by the perusal of pamphlets sent by the Government of Western Australia, I have to observe, that those works were forwarded for the purpose of giving all the information, at the disposal of the Government, without any guarantee of their correctness. That the Government considered the statements therein contained to be reliable, is evidenced by the presence of a Government Staff in the district. Had the letter to which I have now the honor to reply been received by the authorities at Perth, instead of by myself at Camden Harbor, the prospect of a government establishment being formed at Camden Harbor would have been very remote.
With reference to section No. 5 of your letter, where you state that the members of the Association were led to believe that 40 head of sheep landed in the Northern Territory would represent a claim to a lease of 20,000 acres of land, and that they were led to form this opinion from the tenor of a letter from the Government of this colony, a copy of which is now in the possession of Mr. Meadon, I can only state that I have not been instructed of the dispatch of such letter, and that I cannot recognize any document at variance with my instructions, and the letter from our Government forwarded to Mr. Meadon. These letters and the land regulations of Western Australia will be my guides in leasing lands in this district.
I am by these empowered to grant licences or leases in conformity with the regulations relative to the disposal of land in the north and east districts of the colony, viz.:—for 100,000 acres of land for every 200 head of small or 100 head of large stock belonging to one establishment. I am also enabled by the tenor of the letters of our Colonial Secretary to Mr. Harvey, to permit the occupation of land to the extent of 10,000 acres of land for every 40 small or 20 large stock landed; and I can also grant blocks of 20,000 acres of land on 8 years leases, upon annual payment at the rate of 5s. per 1,000 acres, together with a fee of £5 for each lease. I beg you to note that applicants for such blocks of 20,000 acres will have a preferential claim.
Your request that the right to take up 20,000 acres of land for every 40 sheep landed at Camden Harbor be transferred to Nickol Bay, cannot I fear be granted, inasmuch as our Government do not recognise the "right" to take up runs of 20,000 for that quantity of stock, but 10,000 acres. Applicants for a less amount than 100,000 acres stocked in the proportion of 4 sheep for every 1,000 acres, will however, should they desire to have this right of selection transferred to the Nickol Bay territory, have their applications forwarded to His Excellency the Governor, who will deal with them in that liberal spirit which has characterised his government in all matters connected with the disposal of crown lands. I shall feel obliged if those applicants will furnish me with particulars respecting their means of removal to Nickol Bay with their stock, and of maintaining their establishment at that place, in order that I may forward the same with the applications for transfer for the Governor's consideration. I have no power of myself to grant such request.
I beg to state that your letter will be forwarded to the Governor of this colony by the first opportunity, accompanied by such remarks as the matters referred to may render necessary.
I cannot conclude without expressing my deep sympathy with the members of your Association, who have suffered so severely and who have borne so patiently.
At the commencement of your letter you were good enough to welcome the arrival of a Government Staff to establish among you order and government. Allow me in return, Sir, to express the gratification I experienced to find that during their sojourn in this district, order and good government have been so well maintained by the members of your Association without official interference. When I consider that all the settlers have been so grievously disappointed, that many have incurred losses from which they will take long to recover, and that they have endured privations of no ordinary nature, I cannot but feel surprised that good order has been universally the rule. Of such, men any colony might be proud, and I do most earnestly hope that they may yet be enabled to occupy land in some portion of North West Australia.
Believe me that it is from no feeling of unkindness or from want of courtesy that I have not yet visited your camp. My first duty is to see our party properly housed and every preparation made for their comfort and security. You, Sir, and the gentlemen with whom you are associated having had experience of the nature of the work in which I am engaged will, I am sure, pardon any apparent remissness on my part. And I beg to assure you that as soon as I have landed my stores and housed my people I shall take the earliest opportunity of visiting those whose disappointments demand my sympathies and whose conduct demands my esteem.
The Rev. Edward Tanner, Camden Harbour.
From: JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON, VOLUME XXXVI , Pages 203-227.
[* See Mr. Martin's Journal of Explorations in the same region, 'Journal Royal Geographical Society', vol. XXXV. p. 237. No map embodying the recent surveys of the district has yet been received by the Society, but the map in Grey and Lushington's 'Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery in North-Western Australia' * may be consulted with reference to the present memoir.—[ED.[of R.G.S.]]
[* See Map 1, the map referred to here; Ed.]
(Communicated by the Colonial Office.)
Monday, April 10th. 1865.—Immediately after leaving the camp we ascended a hill to the south-east, very stony and rocky, yet, as usual, clothed with grass; and for about an hour we travelled over country of a similar description, yet with hills gradually decreasing in height. The country was lightly timbered with eucalyptus, cork, and cotton trees, all of small diameter. The hills we passed over might, I conceive, be made passable for carts with very little labour. Everywhere we passed through grass, the country presenting the appearance of a wheat-field, the grass being generally above the horses' bellies, and occasionally even above the heads of the riders. From the summit of the highest hill we had a splendid view of Camden Harbour, with its islands and headlands to our right and rear, with Mount King in the distance to our right and front. The baobab described by Dr. Martin is situated in flat country; and, indeed, after leaving the hills in rear of our camp, we travelled over tolerably level country, occasionally undulating with ironstone gravel, having the appearance of being waterwashed in heavy floods. The ground was in places very soft, and must be boggy during the winter season. I do not consider that we have had a winter, or rather rainy season, this year. About a mile on our course from the marked baobab we passed over several gullies, with quartz scattered among the gravel. After leaving this country we ascended some tolerably elevated ground, from which we saw Mount Lookover, Port George IV., and Augustus Water, in our rear; and Mount King to the south-west. Mount Lyell lay to the south-east of us, and was plainly seen. Passing over the level country we saw several kangaroos. The land was still lightly timbered with eucalyptus, what is here named the cork-tree, cotton-tree, box-tree, and, where the ground was particularly soft, cabbage-palms.
Shortly before our midday halt we commenced crossing the Hampton Downs, which, at this particular spot, was not so well grassed as the country we had previously passed over, but it gradually improved. We encamped at noon, amidst abundance of feed, on the bank of a stream which I thought to be a branch or tributary of the Gairdner River. We had previously passed over a larger stream, with somewhat boggy approaches, and having on its banks, where we crossed, a small thicket of palms, an eucalyptus, with large broad leaves, and other shrubs and trees more vividly green and throwing more shade than is generally found in Western Australia. These streams evidently took their rise in the McDonald range, and ultimately joined the Gairdner. They were shallow, but during the rainy season these, as well as many dry stream-beds which we crossed, must contain a large body of water. The stream upon which we camped was running to the southward. We bivouacked under what is here called the currant-tree, about 9 or 10 feet high, greyish striated bark, with twisted branches. The leaf is bright-green, smooth on the upper surface, 5 inches long, and 1 to 1½ inch broad. The fruit has a pleasant acid taste—black when ripe. It is of the size of a very small currant, and, like most Australian fruits, has more stone than flesh. It grows in small bunches, the fruit being in different stages of maturity, green, red, and black. The stone or seed is of a flat, oval shape. The branches appear to be adapted for boat-knees, being light and tough. Close by there was another tree, altogether unlike what I have seen elsewhere. It was a tall, rough-barked young tree. The branches do not spread, but take an upward direction, and the leaves spring from the smaller branches in fours. They were pointed, about 2½ inches long and ¾ inch broad in their widest part, or the centre; they are of a light-green colour. The tree was about 10 inches diameter at the butt, or thickest part. There was also near us the everlasting eucalyptus, with its smooth white stem and branches. The grass at this place was principally kangaroo-grass. More birds were seen on our way than we have met with at the camp. They were principally pigeons, of a brown colour, but not bronze-winged.
Started at 3 o'clock, by which time the sun was less powerful. Our party now consisted of eight,* with four packhorses, and we made a track, going in single file, which will last for some time. We steered an east course through Hampton Downs—a well-watered country: creeks, running in the direction of the Gairdner, being crossed every half or three-quarters of an hour. The land was undulating, composed of ironstone, sand, and clay alternately, and occasionally—especially near some of the creeks—of alluvial soil. Whatever the soil might be, there was no lack of grass. In crossing some of the streams, the ground was soft—almost boggy, and at the chosen fording-place of a branch of the Gairdner Mr. McRae's horse was so far bogged as to oblige him to dismount. To the southward of us there was a prominent hill, which the settlers have named Mount Batten, and near it was the elevated termination of a piece of high table-land, looking, until we came closer to it, like a detached hill. They are conspicuous landmarks. We halted for the night on the left bank of the Gairdner, a small stream at this season, with boggy approaches where we crossed it. The banks were fringed with palms. Our halting-place was about 10 miles distant from the camp. During the day I saw more grass than I have seen in any part of Western Australia; most of it kangaroo-grass, and some a reedlike grass, of a coarse nature. Some of the grasses, especially those on swampy land, were sedgy. The day was tolerably cool throughout.
[* Namely Sholl, Assistant Surveyor James Cowle, P.C. Jackaman, native constable Billy and Chainer John Graham, together with Alex. McRae, Jacob Hindhaugh and Daniel Hick of the Camden Harbour Pastoral Association; Ed.]
April 11th.—Started at 20 minutes to 6, and steered an easterly course for about an hour, and then E. by S. until 9 o'clock, when we again resumed our easterly route to obtain a pass through the hills. All the country passed over was well grassed, and the soil not so stony as that travelled over yesterday. On the banks and in the immediate neighbourhood of the streams there was rich alluvial soil. About an hour after leaving our halting-place crossed a stream larger than that near which we camped last night. We went over some very soft, boggy ground, and had to pick our way carefully; but these places could be seen and, to a great extent, avoided. Not so with the "dry bogs", as they are termed. The ground is apparently firm—clay, with ironstone gravel—but is completely undermined. The horses plunged continually up to their knees, and no amount of care or circumspection could prevent this. The "dry bogs" were in patches over some four or five miles of country in our course. We skirted Mount Lyell, a two-peaked hill; the distance between either peak being being about 1 mile. Halted on the banks of a stream at 10 o'clock, Mount Lyell bearing S.S.E., and distant about 2 miles. We passed through a perfect thicket of reed-grass, growing high above our heads; but generally the pasture consisted of kangaroo-grass, very thick and very high. The horses, when camped in the high grass, generally wandered to feed off less luxuriant growth. Before this country becomes available to its full extent for stock, the long grass will have to be burnt or cut down; it will never be eaten down. It may be trampled down, and allow room for the young grass to spring; but in its present state the feed has no attraction—for horse-stock, at all events. The whole of the land was lightly timbered with broad-leaved gum-trees, cotton, cork, and box trees, all of slight girth. At 9 o'clock we rode up a hill to look at the country. Mount Lyell was to the south of east, and not far off. We had a good view all round, embracing the valleys of the Glenelg and Prince Regent rivers. Our course was through Mr. McRae's run and the Hampton Downs, the greater portion of which are included in this run. The Hampton Downs are all they have been described—well watered and good feed. The stream upon which we were encamped was running through the Glenelg. Mr. Cowle stated our position to be lat. 15° 57', long. 124° 59'. Left this place at 3 p.m., and passed through a splendidly-grassed country. The land improved very much, there being less stone and more alluvial. As we neared the Glenelg the trees increased in girth, but they were still scattered. There was no undergrowth of scrub, nothing but grass. We had some difficulty in crossing the numerous watercourses, some of them being very boggy. If we could have seen our way the impediment would not have been heeded, but the thick and high sward of grass concealed everything. We camped for the night on a stream a few miles from the Glenelg, upon a plain of ironstone gravel and quartz, but with the usual abundance of feed. We estimate the distance travelled to be 15 miles. Both peaks of Mount Lyell were bare, the reddish-brown rock alone being visible. Grass appeared on the slopes, and at the base some light timber. During the day we saw some native plum-trees; the fruit exactly resembles a small plum, larger than a sloe. I was told that the fruit was intensely bitter. I could only secure one plum, and, content with the account given by others, did not taste it.
April 12th.—Had a sleepless night, the mosquitoes being on the qui vive until daylight. We proceeded towards the Glenelg, steering about due south, as indeed we had done from our halting-place at noon yesterday. Crossed several streams flowing towards the Glenelg, which were more difficult to pass than those farther north, the grass being higher and thicker, and the stream-beds more soft. Mr. McRae, however, was a first-rate pioneer, and, after some trouble, we arrived on the banks of the Glenelg, at a spot where it was divided into two branches; both united lower down, leaving a small island between the two. This we followed for a about half a mile, when we came to some rapids; and at this spot the stream we struck was united to the main branch. The united streams were about 60 yards wide; but in the rainy season the river must be of considerable size, as there was abundant evidence of the flow of a large body of water. The soil on the bank is alluvial, in the bed of the river sandy and rocky. We crossed at the rapids without wetting our feet—the water was not, in fact, above the horses' knees—and then proceeded south for about half a mile, where I determined to form my permanent depôt on the banks of a stream running into the Glenelg, with abundance of feed, plenty of firewood, sufficient shade, and, in fact, all that we require for the purpose. Our small tent was placed facing the south—our destined course—where at the distance of about a mile rise the Whately Hills. We arrived at this spot at 10 a.m. The country is generally gravelly, with occasional outcroppings of rock, and here and there patches of alluvial soil. There was no difference either in the character or quantity of the grass, while the trees and shrubs were of the same description as those we had passed before, except that at the Glenelg we again met with the baobab, though not of so large a size as those near our camp. On the banks of the river were paper-bark trees, lofty but of no great girth, the thickest not being more than 10 or 12 inches diameter. The foliage was similar in shape to that of the eucalypti, and possessed the same aromatic flavour. There were also some trees of moderate height, more umbrageous than the generality of Australian trees. They had a rough blackish bark, the leaves were dark and large, the trees bore a fruit not in shape unlike a large white-heart strawberry, of a yellow-white colour. The settlers called it the mulberry-tree, and say the fruit when ripe is not unpleasant. What I tasted were acrid. Between our depôt-camp and the Glenelg we started a kangaroo, and on the banks of the river saw a flock of black cockatoos, apparently similar to those farther south. At our own depôt the hawks, which swarm to such an extent at Government Camp, began to collect, There were a few sand-flies and mosquitoes, but not swarming, as they did at our bivouac the night before. Cool day.
April 13th.—At a little before 7 a.m. Mr. Cowle and myself, accompanied by Messrs. McRae, Hindhaugh, Hick, and the native Billy, started on our first exploratory trip in the Ranges. We followed up the gully on which we were encamped for about an hour and a half, our course being easterly, with a little southing. The country was generally rough and occasionally boggy. Crossed the stream-bed more than once, the fords being boulders of slippery rock, over which the waters dashed. At its source we finally left the stream and vainly attempted to make south, but the hills, for the most part precipitous sandstone elevations, barred our progress. We dismounted and walked up one of the hills, leaving Billy in charge of the horses. The hill was of sandstone, with trap or basalt at the base. From the summit the country looked very rugged, especially in our course—south—the hills being tumbled together without any regard to arrangement, while the valleys were as rock-strewn as the hills. On this hill was a solitary pine—we had previously seen a few. It was not large, being from 12 to 15 inches diameter, and of moderate height. Descending, we tried our best to round the hills, but were baffled by the fearful country. Following on every occasion every valley which trended anywhere near our course, we were continually driven back by insurmountable barriers of rock. The valleys, in fact, were for the most part ravines, or ended in ravines; the hills coming down on either side, and allowing but a few feet of level country, if it can be called level where masses of rock of every conceivable size, shape, and angle, are strewn over the narrow path. The poor horses were tumbling, jumping, and sliding every minute, their legs and feet bleeding from the sharp rocks. After all this labour, towards midday we found ourselves not more than 5 miles from depôt, with no prospect of getting farther south in this direction. Before our noon-halt we tried to make the Glenelg by starting north and east, but failing, bivouacked in a small grass-flat surrounded by rocks, with a streamlet flowing through the centre. We passed along several of these flats during our morning journey. They were generally well grassed, and the soil was red loam, but they were all of very limited extent. Grass as usual was abundant in the most stony portions, and I only saw spinifex among the crevices of the otherwise bare blocks of sandstone. Starting at a quarter to 2 p.m. we pursued a generally north route, sometimes a little to the east or west, according to the course of the ravines. We were now gradually descending, having during the former part of the day been going up-hill—sometimes imperceptibly, at others 30 and 40 feet in the course of a hundred yards. We passed through masses of sandstone, assuming fantastic shapes and forms, requiring but little effort of the imagination to give them "a local habitation and a name." One plot of rock-scattered ground bore a marked resemblance to a ruined churchyard. The broken headstone, the dilapidated monument, the shivered pillar and fragments of sepulchral architecture—all were there, while some of the blocks were sharp in outline, and perfect as if they had just left the stone-cutter's yard. At half-past 2, although we had since our noontide halt been travelling downwards, we were still on very high ground, with the River Glenelg some hundred feet below us, the descent being a perpendicular wall of rock; on the opposite side were hills of equal height and of equal steepness. Here there were rapids. The course of the river was north and south, taking, shortly from the spot where we were stationed, a turn to the eastward, and afterwards a south-east direction. As there was no chance of descending to the river at this spot, we followed a course a little to the eastward of north, and travelling down a ravine, the most steep, the most rugged, and the most lengthy of any we had hitherto travelled, and which punished the horses very severely, we emerged upon the level country south of the Glenelg, and struck that river about a quarter of a mile above the rapids which we crossed yesterday, and about two miles below the spot where its course was from south to north. At these rapids its direction was westerly. From the rapids we proceeded to the depôt-camp, which we reached at 5 o'clock. My companions stated that the country was more rugged than any they had previously passed over, and they had all more or less had. some experience of rough land; one of them, indeed, had travelled through the elevated Gipp's Land territory. If our journey was fatiguing it was not otherwise unpleasant. The day was fine and cool; we had abundance of water; the scenery was not only novel, but extremely picturesque and often magnificent. A good bathe in the depôt creek soon restored energy and strength, and without being damped by our non-success, we discussed the probable proceedings of the morrow. Seeing the impossibility of penetrating the ranges in the direction we had pursued, we resolved to take a south-westerly course as far as practicable.
April 14th.—A fine morning, but the flies, as usual, very troublesome. We went round the west end of Whately Range, travelling through more rugged country than even yesterday, but there was not so much of it. We wandered about for some little time, striving to penetrate through the hills, and struck the river, pursuing a course a little to the northward of east. The Glenelg was here running south. The cliffs came down to the water's edge on either side, and we had not gone far along the bank before our way was stopped, We therefore pushed up the range, following the ravines and valleys, and steering south wherever we had a chance. The country was in every respect similar to that which we traversed yesterday, except that the valleys were not so well grassed, and there was more spinifex. After clearing the hills we passed over some tolerably level table-land, sandy, and thinly grassed, and at half-past 11 struck a large stream, which we took at first for the Glenelg, but, as it was flowing north, it was evidently a tributary. This stream I named, subject to the Governor's approval, the McRae, after one of my companions, a gentleman who had been of signal service to us throughout the expedition, the river, where we struck it, was 82½ yards wide from bank to bank, but the actual stream of water did not exceed 20 yards, or, at the furthest, 25 yards. On a ledge of rock overhanging the river, we bivouacked; the horses looking at, but not touching, the spinifex. A spring of water burst from the rock, and formed a small stream, from whence we got a supply for ourselves and horses. On either side the rocks lined the river, but the hills were of no very great height. Among the plants in the neighbourhood I noticed the hollyhock—very similar to our own in leaf and flower; and the honeysuckle, red and white flowers, but scentless. The trees here, and in fact throughout the ranges where we have been, are eucalypti, casuarina, acacia, cotton, cork, box, and palms. Also some trees bearing a fruit resembling in appearance, when ripe, a russet apple, and, when unripe, a smooth green apple. It was intensely bitter, and contained a large stone—in fact, it was nearly all stone. There were some splendid lilies in the river, which emitted a perfume like the violet. They were of different colours—white, pink, and blue—the two latter light tints, as if the original white had been stained with colour. The river must rise in the ranges which we see to the southward, and will most probably furnish a pass through them. We could not, however, proceed in that direction to-day, in consequence of Mr. Cowle's horse having cut his leg too severely to travel. In fact, all our horses were more or less maimed. We started a kangaroo, but with so large a party it is next to impossible to get near enough to have a shot. On our return route we took a north-easterly course, following down a brook which we crossed on our outward trip, and which was descended by our horses with very great difficulty, owing to the steepness and rocky nature of its bed. Before arriving at this brook we crossed the sandy table-land of our outward track, above a mile to the southward and eastward, and found it thinly clothed with grass. We passed the Whately Range (by following the before-named brook) to the westward of a detached hill on the eastern point of the mountains. We left the McRae at 2 o'clock, and arrived at depôt camp at half-past 3. All the flat lands over which we have passed—and they are not many, and limited in extent—possess a soil of either sand or ironstone gravel, sometimes of both. The great peculiarity here, as well as in the land to the north of the Glenelg, is the total absence of undergrowth bushes; between the widely separated thin and short trees there is nothing but grass and creepers. Let it be thin or thick, good or bad, tall or short, still it is grass. The trees were generally of small girth; the largest we have yet seen did not exceed 15 inches diameter, and trees of this size were very rare. The baobab-trees of course are exceptions, for they, on the other hand, are of enormous circumference; but after leaving the tree named in my first day's journal, we did not see another until we came to the Glenelg, and then we met with a few. There is one or two near our depôt camp. They are an unfailing sign of water—not necessarily surface water, but of water at a short distance from the surface. They are more plentiful near the government camp than I have seen elsewhere. Looking through the opening at the back of my tent, I see two as I am now writing, of noble girth, but not so large as others. Between the camp and the well, and along the now dry bed of the watercourse which supplied us when we first landed, and until lately, there were several, and this makes me the more confident that there will be no great difficulty in obtaining water at the driest season. The palms are generally indicative of surface water, and grow in soft swampy land, and upon the margins of rivers and streams. In travelling along, whenever we saw palms in our course, we prepared to flounder through soft or boggy ground, and in nine cases out of ten the ground was either the one or the other. The sandstones in the ranges have every variety of size, form, and colour. From blocks weighing hundreds of tons to pieces weighing a few grains; in shape, columnar, tabular, pyramidal, in pavement blocks, like gigantic walls, with every line separating each block, as level and as closely cut as if placed there by human agency, like ruined castles, with towers and battlements—half defined and half defaced, massive boulders, and pebbles of the size of marbles; lying in every attitude, presenting angles in every possible position, they seemed like the remains of cities, built by giants, and scattered abroad in some great convulsion of nature. The hues of the rock are varied to a degree—dark brown, light brown, yellowish brown, yellow, white, red of different shades; sometimes several colours in the same rock. Again, while many rocks are clothed with grass, others are quite bare. We have thus anything but monotony among the ranges. Owing to the cause before stated, we could not make a good day's work, and our extreme distance south was not more than three miles, but the horses were nevertheless much bruised, and cut about the legs, and seemed to have had enough of it; so I determined to halt to-morrow (Saturday), and, as a matter of course, on the succeeding day, and then make a three days' trip, as there appears at last, to be a chance of making some southing. We had a tolerably cool day, and in fact when we got among the hills the change of temperature for the better was invariably marked. Upon examining the map, it would appear either that we are not on the rapids named by Grey (at the spot where the river bends to the southward), or that the Whately Range, or the river itself, is incorrectly laid down. Our depôt camp is about three-quarters of a mile south-west of the rapids, and the range faces us about half a mile, or from that to a mile distant, its position being east and west. To the eastward, half a mile's travelling brings us to the eastern end of the small detached hill round which we passed on our return trip this morning, and by going a mile to the westward, we came round the western point of the range. From a mile and three-quarters to two miles is the extent of the range facing us to the south, neither end of which, east or west, is distant more than a mile from the River Glenelg. According to the map, our present position is two miles to the eastward of the range, or in fact on the opposite bank of the Glenelg. We are on a peninsula, hemmed in by the river on every side, except south, with a point or two east or west of south; and such a peninsula! except the flat upon which we are encamped, which extends back to the rapids, and up and down the river for a limited extent, the country is one mass of sandstones, of more or less elevation. Mr. Cowle informed me that he was not yet perfectly satisfied of our exact position, but he was inclined to believe that we were not on the rapids described by Grey. We saw no marked trees, nor any other sign of Grey's party.
April 15th.—To-day was the hottest we have experienced since leaving Camden Harbour, the weather having been generally cool—much cooler than I have experienced it at Government Camp. We have also had some heavy dews at night—a very rare occurrence at camp. The festering sores which afflicted so many in camp are also fast disappearing. Saw to-day a beautiful water-lily growing in a different part of the creek upon which we are encamped. It was sweet scented; the flower was large, white-edged, with a fringe of light blue; and under the surface was blue, of a darker tint.
April 16th.—Remained in depôt all day. Hawks swarming about the place in hundreds. Not a thing could be left for an instant but it was pounced upon, and, if at all eatable, carried away. Wherever we go, one or two accompany us; and no sooner are fires lit, and preparations made for meals, than they come from all quarters. They are brown birds, about the size of a small fowl. They are fearless, and stand to be shot at, not moving, though the revolver-bullets strike the branch upon which they are perched within an inch of their bodies. Bathed in a pool of water a few hundred yards down our creek—a pleasant place, surrounded by palms, the only approach to tropical vegetation which I have seen.
April 17th.—We all had a tolerable night's rest, and started at 20 minutes to 7 a.m. on our journey. The party consisted, besides myself, of Mr. Cowle, who is somewhat better this morning, Mr. McRae, Mr. Hick, and Billy. We took three days' provisions. The day was fine, but calm. Found a much better pass to the eastward of the Whately Range than the one we travelled . on Friday, on our return route, by following up a creek. At half-past 8 arrived at a spot a quarter of a mile north of our bivouac on Friday, travelling over comparatively easy country, tolerably well grassed. From this place we attempted to get south by following creeks, but did not make more than half a mile in a direct line by 10 o'clock, when we were brought up by a creek, with rocks to the water's edge on either side, and a barrier of rocks in the centre, over and among which the water tumbled very prettily. A fringe of palms skirting the stream added to its picturesque appearance. Mr. Hick shot two white cockatoos, somewhat different from those I had seen at Camden Harbour. The topknot was white, and the feathers under the wings light yellow. At Camden Harbour the topknot is sulphur-coloured. Got, near our halting-place, some berries, not unlike, in appearance, black currants. They grew on a tree, not dissimilar in height and appearance to the one described as being at our noontide halting-place on the 10th instant. The fruit, however, was different, larger, and growing on stalks—not in bunches; the leaves were light-green, smooth, 4 inches long, and 1½ inch broad. They call it the elder-tree, but there is not much similitude. Around the camp I marked some smooth-barked white gum-trees, larger than any we have before seen—about 18 inches in diameter. Walked out with Messrs. Cowle and McRae to have a look at the country to the southward and westward. We went about a mile, and found, with the exception of some rocks near the camp, that the course, for this country, was fair travelling. Mr. McRae and myself climbed up two hills, Mr. Cowle being too unwell to make the attempt. We found the appearance of the country to the southward promising, but due south the ranges seemed to bar our progress. The Whately Range was beneath us to the north, and we could see over it the hills on the other side of the Glenelg. On one of the hills which we ascended there was a cave, in which were the remains of a native fire—apparently one native. It was recent—that is to say, about ten days or a fortnight old—the ashes not having been either much disturbed by the wind or intermixed with dust and droppings from the roof the cave. We saw the McDonald ranges in the distance, and also Mount Lyell, far away from and beneath us. We estimated our height above the sea-level at 1,800 feet. On our return picked up a piece of stone which the natives had been sharpening for their spears and knives, &c. It is something like obsidian, but not so highly glazed. The hills which we climbed were sandstone, with trap or basalt at the bases and in the valleys. The trap-rock was intersected by veins of quartz, and there was a peculiar outcropping of that stone in small spiculæ and large crystals. The ground at the base of the hills was strewn with the debris of quartz, some of it as fine as sand.
April 18th.—Left camp at half-past 7. Crossed numerous creeks and streams; this country is beautifully watered, and, steering S.W., at half-past 8 struck the McRae. At this spot it consisted of large reaches, bordered by palms and lofty paperbark trees. The reaches were connected by narrow channels formed by the hills descending on either side. These channels were rock-strewn, and the water passed over between the rocks, either in the form of cascades or rapids, according to the height. We crossed the McRae at one of the rapids, and followed it up, the stream running about N.N.E., we of course steering in an opposite direction. The travelling became very difficult; the hills were often perpendicular, like walls of masonry, for in many places even the joints are distinctly marked, always precipitous. Our course was at the base; and when the ledge of rocks over which we travelled sloped off to the water's edge, we had to cross the stream the best way we could, and make our way along the opposite side until similar impediments compelled us again to ford the river, which we crossed and recrossed five times. Some of these fords were difficult, owing to the masses of rock of all shapes, over whose slippery points and surfaces the horses stumbled, and sometimes fell, but happily no accident happened to horse or rider. At one place we were blocked in on both sides, and had nothing for it but ascending the bank. We were at the time on the right side of the McRae, and luckily the hill was not so steep as its neighbours. It was, however, quite steep enough—something like Mount Eliza, at the back of my former residence, but not so high. We dismounted and led our horses, not going straight up the ascent, but twisting and turning among the large stones, and thus saving the animals an additional pull. Halting on the summit of the hill to breathe ourselves and horses for 10 minutes or so, we pursued our journey. By the river's side I noticed a peculiar-looking tree, the only one of the sort that I observed during our journey. It was larger than its companions, and looked more like an English forest-tree than any I have seen in Australia. It was richly clothed with dark foliage, threw out long and spreading branches, and was a complete shade-giver. The leaves somewhat resemble the myrtle. The soil of the country over which we passed was sandy near the river, in patches between the rocks, and reddish brown upon the hills; but rocks and stones were everywhere, and grass of course. We have never been without grass—much of it coarse and rank, but most of it sweet and good. Saw some yellow-crested cockatoos near the hill which we had just climbed. The descent on the other side was not so abrupt, and we had no occasion to dismount. Passing over some level bare rocks, with here and there ledges from half a foot to a foot high, we were again brought to a halt at some rapids, which appeared difficult to cross, while our progress was barred by a wall of rocks, with no convenient shelf wide enough for our horses. In some still water a short distance from the rapids there were beautiful water-lilies—white, with edges fringed with filaments like feathers or down. The flower was five-petaled, small, and inodorous. With some splashing and slipping, we crossed the rapids, and, ascending a stony hill of moderate height, came along some tolerably level country for about a quarter of a mile. Here I observed for the first time, though it afterwards appeared that it was—if not plentiful—pretty generally dispersed, a fruit-bearing plant, about 2½ feet high. There are two stems springing distinct from each other, the shorter one about one foot long, bearing a leaf which resembles somewhat the potato-plant; the longer one, 2 feet, bears the fruit in three pendulous seed-vessels, in shape like the English gooseberry, and enclosing a large number of striated seeds, enclosed in a sweetish pulp, the flavour being more grateful than most of the so-termed edible fruits of the country. The colour of the ripe seed-vessel is a rich sugar-brown. It exudes saccharine matter, and is sticky and clammy. I picked a specimen, root, stalks, leaves, and fruit; and also collected some fruit, which became crushed, and afterwards fermented in my havresack, but I managed to save the seed. When I arrived home, my son produced some specimens he had collected in the immediate neighbourhood of the camp; so it was no novelty, after all. Almost immediately after passing these plants, we came to a patch of baobab-trees, the first I had seen since leaving the Glenelg. Still following the course of the Glenelg—we were now on the left bank—we crossed again at some rapids, and, ascending a bank of moderate elevation and steepness, proceeded along some richly-grassed table-land—clayey soil, with stones intermixed—until gradually nearing the water's edge, the accustomed rocky bar compelled us once more to cross the river. Travelled over some bare rocky ground, full of ledges and fissures, and, coming to a grassy flat, we camped at noon in its midst, among a clump of short trees, sufficiently close together to throw a grateful shade. Our halting-ground was about 80 yards from the McRae, distant from our sleeping-camp 7 miles, and from the depôt (due south) 9 miles. Our course has been rather to the westward of south. While at dinner a hawk, more bold than his companions—and none of them are too modest—pounced down among the trees, and was easily caught by one of the party, and, after due examination, let go. Messrs. McRae and Hicks ascended a hill to the westward of our camp, and reported that the country looked clear in the direction of our course, but said there was a range running north and south to the eastward. We left camp at 8 p.m., and following up the river shortly afterwards, passed through a very small patch of thicket, with climbing-plants crossing from tree to tree, obliging us to cut our way. The soil was alluvial, and very soft. Here I saw ferns for the first time—a delicate feathery-leaved plant. After emerging from this thicket, we travelled over undulating country, gradually ascending in our course, which was now due south. The flat through which we now passed was bounded east and west by hills rising like walls, with occasional valleys between, of apparently similar flat land. The distance between the hills on either side was at first but a few yards, but this gradually extended, and the average width of the plain during the miles we went over it was almost, if not quite, half a mile. It was splendidly grassed, and the herbage was thinner and less rank than on the north side of the Glenelg, and more fitted for the immediate use of stock. The soil was generally gravelly, sometimes sandy, and occasionally rich loam. Judging by the habits and tastes of our horses, I should prefer taking up land of this description for stock to the more densely-grassed country contained in Mr. McRae's run; but this was comparatively a small patch, although the valleys running at right angles on either side, as well as many of the hills, seemed equally well grassed. The McRae had now dwindled into a creek, no longer broken into wide reaches; and after following it along the valleys, it branched off, one stream coming from the westward and the other from the southward. The latter we considered the main stream, and, as it was in our course, continued to follow it up through rocky country. After travelling about 3 miles among our old friends the sandstones, we camped for the night in a narrow valley, through which the McRae, a small but still running stream, flowed, and which was fairly grassed. The hills on either side are not high, and the horses relished the grass, which was short and sweet. Noticed the banksia-tree on the banks of the McRae, not having seen it north of the Glenelg. It is short and scrubby, and seems out of its latitude. It is apparently peculiar to the McRae. Several kangaroos were started during our day's march. Mr. Cowle informed me that we were 2,500 feet above the sea-level. I should not have thought so; but as we have been ascending, generally gradually, and sometimes abruptly, since we left the Glenelg, I suppose it must be so. We had now come about 19 miles south of our depôt-camp; and as there is nothing to prevent the movement of pack-horses, while there is some prospect of our proceeding still further south, I determined to shift the depôt-camp, in furtherance of my slow and sure plan of feeling the way in front, and being able to calculate as nearly as possible how long it would take to remove the party back on our tracks through a country which offered no serious impediment, now that we had discovered passes through the hills, to tired and jaded horses. Mr. Cowle places our present camp in about latitude 16° S.
April 19th.—Up at 10 minutes past 5, after a cool and refreshing night, and started at a quarter past 7. We passed yesterday's shady bivouac at 9. Noticed in the country we passed over some scrubby stunted cypress, which also grew in the neighbourhood of Camden Harbour. It is not however plentiful, nor is it useful for any purpose, being a mere bush. The box-tree and the cotton-tree very plentiful here and throughout our line of route, the former a very hard and the latter a very soft wood. Got to the flat, where we slept, on Monday at 20 minutes past 12. Left at 3 p.m. and got back to the depôt at a quarter past 5, travelling back on our tracks with good speed. Resolved to rest our horses until Friday, and then move on.
April 21st.—Did not start until 8 o'clock. Proceeded to our sleeping-camp of Monday and had to halt, my horse having twisted off its off hind-shoe in the ranges. Noticed more particularly at this spot the native apple-trees. They were loaded with fruit, about the size of a small apple, and which I have formerly described. The tree is about 30 feet high, the stem 6 inches diameter; bark dark brown, lying in flakes; leaves in pairs, eight pairs being on one stalk, of a light-green colour, narrow and pointed at the end, about 2½ inches long and 1 inch wide in the broadest part; the stalk upon which the leaves are placed 15 inches long. The shrub called the sand-paper plant is also here, as well as at Camden Harbour. The leaves are dark green, with a rough upper surface, like fine sand-paper; they are dry and crisp, but not brittle or easily broken. The leaves grow in pairs, upon a stem rising from the ground about 4 feet high. They are 3½ inches long and 2 inches wide, and nearly oval. There were trees in our neighbourhood, the stem clothed with brown stringy bark, the branches white and smooth, like the ordinary white gum of the country, and the leaves were also precisely similar. It presented a very strange appearance, but my companions recognised it as the "Gumtop Stringy-bark" of Victoria. A graceful-looking tree close by attracted my attention. It was 40 feet high, the stem 4 inches in diameter, leaves dark yellowish green, 6 inches long, 2½ inches wide, thick, and rounded at the apex. Started from this camp at a quarter past 2, and at 5 o'clock halted on the right bank of the McRae, in splendid feed of kangaroo-grass up to the horses' bellies. We were on a small flat containing about 100 acres of this feed, which grew on clayey soil, and our camp is fixed in a clump of young trees about 60 or 70 yards from the river's bank. The river flows from south to north, and here forms the arc of a bow, which encloses our flat. On the opposite or west side of the stream the sandstone-hills rise to a great height, sinking lower towards the south.
April 22nd.—At 9 o'clock this morning we arrived at our destination, the junction of the two creeks. Resolved to halt here until noonday, and then push on a flying party to the southward. We are on a rocky piece of ground, with the McRae, now a mere brook, running close by. About our camp lizards of every size and colour sport among the rocks.
April 23rd.—There was a cool breeze from the southward this morning, but the sun's rays were very powerful. We have lost mosquitoes, sandflies, and other flies, but the ticks are very troublesome, crawling about in every direction, and much annoying the horses. Six or seven are cut out of our nags at one time. The hawks still accompany us, and one was caught by hand. When laid down he stretched his legs, shut his eyes, and was to all appearance—what he intended us to believe—dead. Upon moving a step or two back, he raised his head, and seeing that simulating death would not do, commenced pecking at the finger of his captor, who had approached again towards him. When he saw that there was no one nearer to him than a few yards, he leisurely flew a short distance off. Bathed in a narrow reach of the McRae, but without much comfort, the bottom being composed of sharp-pointed rocks, the water hot, and leeches in great numbers. Leeches were not met with in the Glenelg, nor do we hear of their having been seen in the neighbourhood of Camden Harbour. They seem to be peculiar to the McRae, as far as my experience goes. Mr. Cowle makes the latitude of our camp 15° 59' 8".
April 24th.—Started at a quarter past 7 upon our exploring trip. We took with us three days' provisions, intending, unless compelled to return in consequence of losing shoes, to be away from camp for that period. Arrived at our halting-place of Tuesday last at 8 a.m., and continuing to ascend the valley for about half a mile farther on, we reached the summit of the range up which we had been travelling since we left the Glenelg. Here we dismounted, and leaving the horses in Billy's charge, climbed up the highest hill, which had an elevation of about 100 feet above the valley, and may be considered the highest point of this part of the range. The view was extensive, and the following bearings were taken by Mr. Cowle and entered in my note-book at the time:—A hill W. by N., distant about 9 miles, apparently sandy, was supposed at the time to be the Red Cone Hill, near Doubtful Bay, but this cannot be, as, upon reference to the map, that hill appears to the southward of our position. The one we saw is a remarkable hill, and easy of identification; Mount Lyell N. by W. ½ W.,* about 20 miles; Mount Double Cone N.W. by N., 25 miles; a table hill N. ¾ E., about 35 miles. This we conjectured to be Mount Waterloo. In our course there were three distinct ranges of hills, all of which seemed to be much lower than the one we were on. Their course averaged east and west. The nearest and smallest range was distant about 5 miles; the second, somewhat higher, about 10 miles; and the third, the highest, which looked blue in the distance, not less than 25 miles. The country between us and the nearest range appeared practicable. Mr. Cowle considered that we were now 3,000 feet above the level of the sea. As this is the highest point of the range in this direction, and the spot is prominent, I give it a name, and propose, with the Governor's consent, to call the hill Mount Cowle. Descending the hill, we remounted our horses and proceeded over the crest of the range. Immediately after leaving the source of the McRae on one side, flowing north, we struck the head of another creek on the southern side, and flowing south. This we followed over very rugged country (the country, by the by, which looked practicable from the hill-top) for about 2 miles, when we were stopped by a complete block of rocks before and on either side of us. We had for some time been driven into the stream, there being no passage on either side, and had made our way with difficulty among large boulders of rock. The stream had increased rapidly in width, depth, and volume, and though so near its source, was larger than the McRae, at our second depôt. Mr. Hindhaugh went ahead a short distance on foot to see whether there was any chance of our getting along by another route, and on his return reported that the country was impassable for horses. He had gone down the rivulet for about a quarter of a mile, when it was joined by a larger stream, and the united waters flowed towards the westward. It would most probably be joined by numerous creeks from this and the next parallel range, and by the time it reached the sea coast have become a river of some magnitude. I think it not improbable that, in the valley between either of the ranges which we saw from Mount Cowle, a stream of more or less magnitude flows towards the sea. We retraced our steps, leading our horses over the worst portions of the ravine in which we were confined, and encamped higher up the creek at 10 minutes to 12. The latitude, by observation, of our camping-ground, was 16° 2' and some odd seconds, our farthest south being as nearly as possible 16° 3'. Mr. Cowle made the longitude of our halting-place 124° 55' E. It was a pretty spot, overhung by sandstone cliffs, between which the stream rushed over the rocks. On a ledge of rock some 10 or 12 feet above the water we boiled the water for tea, the horses feeding higher up the valley, where there was a diminutive flat. Between the fissures of the rocks a sufficient number of trees flourished to throw a grateful shade, some of which I had not noticed before. There was one light grey-barked tree, with dark-green leaves, pointed, 3½ inches long by 2 broad, with a fruit somewhat resembling the seed-vessels of the rose, which, when ripe, were of a dark-red colour. They were sweet to the taste, and grew upon a short stalk in clusters of 6 or 8. Mr. Hindhaugh brought in a sample of a narrow-leaved palm, the leaves diminishing in breadth from half an inch to the thickness of a thread; they were fine and tough, and seemed well adapted for the manufacture of hats, and when prepared, of cordage. I did not see the palm itself, nor were any more seen by Mr. Hindhaugh, except a few in the locality where he procured this specimen. I blazed some saplings at this place, from which exuded a large quantity of white viscid fluid, which turned dark on exposure to the light, looking not unlike india-rubber. One of the trees was marked by Mr. Hindhaugh J.H., his initials, and these marks may serve to identify the spot at some future time. The lizards were very plentiful on the rocks, and they seemed to be of the same colour as the particular mass of rock on which they sported—the various shades of brown and yellow. They were most expert flycatchers. Resumed our retrograde march at 3 o'clock, it being my determination to return to depôt, there appearing to be no opening in this direction, and follow the branch of the McRae, which came from the westward, hoping to find an outlet to the southward. We had not gone more than a mile when Mr. Cowle's horse lost a shoe, and we halted while Mr. Hindhaugh shod the animal. Our last nail was thus consumed, and, recollecting the nature of the country we had to pass on our way home, and knowing how utterly useless a shoeless horse must be in these ranges, I determined to return back without delay. Before travelling in this country, not only should the horses be well shod, but each rider should be supplied with a few spare shoes and plenty of nails. The shoes themselves are seldom lost. We arrived at the depôt-camp by sundown, when I gave the order for commencing our homeward march the next morning. Mr. McRae returned from a pedestrian trip shortly after my arrival. He had been with Graham up the western branch of the river, and after getting over some rough-and-tumble country, which however could be traversed by horses, they gained the summit of some table-land, which was, for this place, fair travelling, and extended in the direction we intended to have gone. He considered the opening at the spot where he turned back, about 4 miles from camp, of a promising nature. During our trip to-day there was less grass than usual, spinifex being the rule.
[* According to the tracing subsequently furnished by Mr. Cowle, Mount Lyell is placed a point or two to the eastward of north from Mount Cowle.—R.J.S. [See map]]
April 25th.—Returned on our tracks. Tried occasionally to get a better crossing-place over the McRae, but were not successful. These crossings caused some little excitement, and the leading horsemen generally waited on the opposite side to see the whole party safely over. The scene thus viewed was not devoid of interest. Masses of rocky hill, rising perpendicularly several hundred feet above the water's edge, with just sufficient ledge at the base to permit the party in single file to travel along; the river tumbling over immense stones at the ford; the hills, with their accommodating ledge, on the other side. We (Mr. McRae and myself) just got across the third ford, and going a little down the right bank of the river, turn, and after a few minutes' halt, push through a thicket, which, although we have broken through it three times before, seems as impervious as ever. It is formed of stiff thorny trees, or rather shrubs, which spring up from among the stones; no vestige of earth to be seen. They are sufficiently high to meet overhead. What with guiding the horses over the stones, and defending head, body, and limbs from the thickets, all are well employed. But this is not all. Showers of green ants descend upon our heads and shoulders, and it must have been amusing to a looker-on to see persons at the same time hastily engaged protecting themselves from ants, thickets, and the rocks at their feet. Happily the thicket is a small one, and we emerge hot enough, but with leisure, to destroy the insects which have been persecuting us. The green-ant is about half an inch long, of a light arsenic green, and dwells amidst the foliage of trees. Their bite is very sharp, but beyond the pain at the time, no great inconvenience is suffered. A small black ant, with a red head, is a more troublesome insect For some time after being bitten there is much pain, and the part swells. Their bite, in its effect, is similar to that of the serjeant-ant. Luckily they are not so plentiful as the green ant, nor do they reside in trees, otherwise passing among their habitations would be a task unpleasant, to say the least. We halted early at the camping-place of Monday week, and where Mr. McRae had marked the white-gum-trees. Here we remained for the rest of the day. Two miles south of our present halting-place we came down a very steep hill, to avoid that which we had hitherto ascended and descended, and which I described in a former part of my Journal. We did not gain by the change; it was quite as steep as the hill we avoided, but somewhat shorter. Discovered among the rocks of our camping-place a creeping plant, with leaves and tendrils like those of the cucumber, only much smaller. The fruit was the size of a small cherry, quite round, of a bright scarlet colour. The taste is like that of the cucumber. This is the most uninteresting, as regards situation and aspect, of our halting-camps among the ranges, and yet there is a greater variety of trees and vegetable productions than in any other. Each time that we have visited it I have found something new. I collect, as well as I can, specimens of fruits and seeds, but from not having proper receptacles, many of them get mixed, crushed, and broken. I also collect ripe seeds of every plant near our camps, although I do not know the nature or the character of the blossoms—many of them are creepers. This has been an extremely hot day. Mr. McRae told me that he had seen, though not in this part of the North district, a guana having a hood, which, when the creature is in repose, lies flat on its shoulders and back, but, when it moves, is spread open, and when it jumps from tree to tree, appears to act like a wing. It is of moderate size—the guana, not the hood. Since my return my son informs me that he has seen one of these animals. We saw very few guanas during our journey, and I have not met with a snake in all my rambles on foot and on horseback: but two have been seen by our party during this journey—a small and a large one—and three were killed at the Government Camp in our absence—one of them upwards of 10 feet long. They cannot be considered plentiful in this part of Australia. We have seen numbers of butterflies of endless variety and hue. An entomologist might spend some months very pleasantly and profitably here. In fact there is a new field opened for students of Natural History in every branch.
April 26th.—Did not start until half-past 7. Arrived at depôt No. 1 at 10 minutes past 10, and crossed the rapids at the Glenelg at 10 minutes to 11. Here we halted. Mr. Cowle states our latitude to be 15° 44' 28". He is convinced that these are not the rapids of Grey, which are 2 miles further up the river. I did intend strolling off to visit the lower rapids, but some of the horses had swollen backs, and I thought it advisable to defer this visit to a future time, and bring the animals home before they got worse. By shifting saddles, padding, &c., we have hitherto managed to save the horses, who have only suffered in the feet and legs. In condition they are not worse—some of them I think are better—than when they left Camden Harbour. Noticed a herb with a grass-like stem, with seeds like those of wheat, but reversed, lying upon the stem like the barbs of a spear. We started at a quarter to 3, and after crossing the divided stream of the Glenelg—we had been encamped on the island between the two streams—struck a direct course, instead of following back our tracks by the bank of the Glenelg. The numerous streams which impeded our progress before therefore passed to the eastward or higher up, and this, together with the drying up of the water, enabled us to push along with greater ease and rapidity. We passed over lightly-timbered and well-grassed country, tolerably level, with clayey, sandy, and gravelly soil, sometimes one and sometimes the others, but the same description of herbage and timber on each. In crossing the stream upon which we camped on the 16th instant,—and which we called Mosquito Creek—but higher up, my horse got jammed between the banks, and we had some difficulty in extricating him, the bottom being soft, the banks steep, and the stream-bed narrow. Shortly after leaving this place, we came upon our outward track, which was very plain, and which we followed. Most of the streams which had contained water when we passed a fortnight since were now dry, and we had to push on until dusk, when we were fortunate enough to arrive at the creek known to us as Frying-pan Creek. There was plenty of water here. We camped on the south bank, and soon found we were in a mosquito neighbourhood. There was plenty of grass, but the ground was so stony, that it was a difficult matter to pick out sleeping ground. However it was not of much consequence, as the mosquitoes would not let us rest. Mount Lyell bears north-west, about half a mile distant. This two-peaked hill is connected at the bottom by rising ground. There is no apparent difference in the height of the two peaks, looking from our camp at daylight. Both peaks were composed of bare red rock—either basalt or trap. After leaving the Glenelg, and not far from its banks, the ground was covered with lake-coloured everlastings; further south the everlastings are dark crimson, and near Camden Harbour pink and white.
April 27th.—We were all up before daylight, but the horses had rambled further than usual, and we could not start until half-past 8. We crossed the Gairdner at 5 minutes past 2, higher up than on our outward trip, at a gravelly ford. The stream-beds which we crossed generally contained water, but not so much as when we passed before; the water was now for the most part in pools. Camped on the Gairdner. Particularly noticed Mount Lyell in passing. There are neither trees nor herbage on either peak, and very little of either on any part of the hill. At its base there is the usual supply of grass and scattered timber. On a hill to the north of Mount Lyell we collected some very large pods of a triangular shape, from a creeper with a thin stalk. The pods were disproportioned to the size of the stalk, nearly as much so as a melon is to a melon-vine. They were not quite ripe, but ripened by keeping, and, bursting open, exhibited a large quantity of a cotton-like substance, with which the seeds were enveloped. Encamped at the Gairdner, under the so-called mulberry-tree, the large dark leaves of which shaded us from the sun. Some of the ripe fruit dropped, but they were full of maggots. Left the Gairdner at 20 minutes past 3, and at 5 o'clock halted for the night on a creek running south, near the largest currant-tree I have seen. It was loaded with fruit, which we obtained by cutting down large boughs. We have not seen much game since leaving the Glenelg. Yesterday we came across two emus, and to-day saw one kangaroo, and birds called native companions—a species of heron apparently. They were large birds, and I took them at first for turkeys. The creek was very bare of water, which seemed to be drying up fast. The mosquitoes were very troublesome, as they have been at every place north of the Glenelg and at our first depôt south of that river. Some of the people declared they were three inches long, but this is not the case. The largest may be half an inch long. There is no doubt but that they are great pests, and I do not envy the first settlers of this portion of Western Australia.
April 28th.—We proceeded homewards by 10 o'clock, and were again among those from whom we parted a short time ago, and who came around to know all about the new country we had seen.
If the result of our journey is not what we hoped, it is not altogether unsatisfactory. Our knowledge of this portion of the country has been enlarged, and we have no longer to rely upon the statements, or to be guided by the opinions, of others. Our expedition has proved to my satisfaction that the country over which we travelled, south of the Glenelg, was similar in every respect to that travelled over by Grey some 15 miles to the eastward, and the probability is that the intervening country is of a like nature. Whether it is as rugged and unpromising to the westward I hope to discover by sending an expedition in that direction. At the spot where we turned back, which was a few miles south of Grey's, and some 10 or 12 miles north of Lushington's farthest, the prospect of advancing in our course, on horseback, was very poor. There was an opening to the westward which might possibly lead to an outlet from the ranges in a southerly direction. This will have to be tried. Should the attempt fail, then horses must be taken as far as practicable, and from this point parties on foot must explore the ranges.
Should level and fertile country be discovered south of the ranges, then the hills over which we travelled will not be valueless. Not only do they admit of stock being driven over, supplying abundance of feed and water, but the elevation of the land will render it well adapted for runs upon which to depasture, at certain seasons, a portion of the stock which at other times feed on the plains. The land does not of course yield so much grass, even in the most fertile spots, as in the plains, much of the country from its nature being unproductive; yet a limited number of stock may be kept in good health and condition in the ranges, which, I am convinced, will become valuable when the low country on either side is occupied.
I do not consider, nor do those whom I have consulted consider, that sheep ought to be imported at present. Setting aside all question of climate, the feed in its present state is not adapted for sheep, but for large stock only. To bring sheep into this district would, to say the least, be attended with much risk. Those that have already been introduced have not done so well as to encourage the importation of others. I am aware of the force of the arguments employed to show that the fate of the sheep landed at Camden Harbour ought not to influence speculators. It is said that they were too young to withstand the effects of a sea-voyage and a tropical climate, that they were not properly tended, that they arrived at an exceptional season, that they were depastured in the neighbourhood of the sea-coast, and so on. I allow all this, but, at the same time, I do not see any reason for not discouraging the importation of sheep for the present. Whether they will ultimately succeed, when the feed is cropped down by larger stock, I cannot tell—time will show.
For horses, it is the opinion of every one that I have spoken to on the subject, the country is admirably adapted. The feed is well fitted for horses, who improve in condition, and they may be reared in large numbers for markets close at hand.
Whether the feed and climate is adapted for cattle we have had no opportunity of judging from personal observation, as none have been imported, but those who have been accustomed to this description of stock speak highly of the capabilities of the country for such purpose. One fact appears tolerably clear—that there is no poisonous plant calculated to affect ruminating animals—or in fact others, horses doing well—for none of the sheep have died from the effects of poison. It was supposed, shortly after we landed, that some of the Government sheep had died from the effects of poison. I did not credit it at the time, and I am now convinced that no vegetable poison exists. I speak of course only of the country near the sea-coasts, where the sheep have been depastured, but I may add that I have seen nothing in my travels at all resembling the poison plant of South-Western Australia. What will be the value of horned stock reared here will depend upon the progress of settlement. Without a dense population, it appears to me that their value must be estimated by that of the tallow, hides, and horns they yield, less the cost of production.
I do not say much respecting the agricultural capabilities of the country over which we passed, because our course would necessarily lead us from the low country. I must confess, however, that the alluvial land on the banks of rivers and streams was of less extent than I anticipated. Of its richness there can be no doubt But were the quantity ever so great, it would not promote settlement. In this climate no white man could till the ground, nor would any white man be able long to endure the attacks of the insect enemies. In most parts of Australia these nuisances disappear, or at all events become less, as settlement extends, but here the nature of the crop on low alluvial river-side lands would encourage, and not disperse, the mosquitoes.
If coolie labour is to be employed it will be when pastoral occupations gradually lead to others, and when wealthy speculators grow articles of commercial value. Rice, cotton, sugar, indigo, tea, coffee, &c., will not be cultivated by the class of men who usually emigrate to new countries and form the bulk of the population. Except in the event of some extraordinary or exceptional inducement for immigration, such as gold in large quantities, or other metals which may be easily worked and transported to the port of shipment, I do not conceive that the country I have seen will be the home of a large European population. It is essentially a pastoral country, and will be permanently settled only by the extension of pastoral occupation from the southward. It is my conviction of this fact and my knowledge that establishments have already been formed along the north-west coast, that make me so anxious to penetrate the southern barrier which separates this portion of Australia from the more level country to the southward. We are now but a comparatively short distance from Roebuck Bay. When once a pass is found—it is not more than two weeks' journey from our furthest depôt, and an opening once made, extension of pastoral occupation is but a question of time.
Of the natural resources of the country over which we passed, I am not qualified to give a scientific opinion. There are many vegetable productions, which may become, which perhaps are, valuable in connection with arts and manufactures, medicine, &c., but I cannot state the fact with certainty. Of the trees, I may safely say that for building, for furniture, or even for fencing, but very few are available, and those in situations which would require their being consumed on the spot. Some of the timber might be valuable for turnery and small ornamental work, for it is very hard and close-grained, but for all domestic and field purposes wood will have to be imported, especially for the coast settlements—if any.
On the sandstone ranges there are no indications of mineral deposits, but at the base of the hills and in the lower valleys, among the basalt and trap, there are evident signs of much metallic accumulation. Our time did not permit us to make a close examination; nor do I think the knowledge possessed by any of our party was sufficient to render the time profitably employed which was devoted to mineral researches. I have mentioned one spot as offering a prospect of gold-discovery, and also alluded to the specimen of copper-ore brought from the Glenelg. I may likewise state that there was an abundance of iron ores, some of them very pretty specimens, but otherwise of no value in a new country.
The health of every member of the party, excepting Mr. Cowle, who had an attack of incipient fever for two or three days, was excellent. Not only did cuts and sores, brought with us from Camden Harbour, rapidly heal, but any damage received en route from stone or wood, also healed in the course of a few days. Men and horses both looked as well on their return as when they started. Even the horses' legs looked healthy, considering the battering they had received. With fine weather, good water, the absence of all privation, or even annoyance, except the mosquitoes, a short trip, and good health, it is no wonder that we were all pleased with our journey. For my part I have seldom passed a more enjoyable time than that which I spent during our wanderings among the sandstones.
[* Cowle's report is a separate one to Sholl on the same expedition described in Appendix 3. Ed.]
Sir,—Having received, orders from you on the 6th ultimo to prepare for an Expedition which would last about three weeks, but to take sufficient provisions for myself and man for one month, I at once set about it, and finished on the 8th, and on the 10th we started, the party being composed of yourself, with Police Constable Jackaman, also native assistant Billy, and myself and Chainer Graham. Starting at 8 o'clock on Monday morning, we proceeded to the head of the inlet, the appointed place, where the Association people were to meet us (marked A on tracing), and halted for a time to ascertain if any of the Association people were coming. The signal was given at the appointed time (9 o'clock), but it not being answered, we proceeded on our way, keeping a course (as near as the nature of the country permitted) south by east, the country being much easier to travel than that we passed over during the first hour of our journey. When about five miles from the Camp (Government), I saw some small patches of country very much resembling some of the goldfields in Victoria, which I mentioned to you at the time. Proceeding for another 5 miles, we halted for dinner, and during our stay there three of the Association people came up, namely, Messrs. McRae, Hindhaugh, and Hick, who were anxious to see as much of the country as possible. Shortly after their arrival we put the packs on the horses, and proceeded on our way again, this time taking an easterly course, which we kept for about seven miles, and then camped for the night on the south bank of the Gairdner. On the 11th we took a south-easterly direction for about 5 miles, and then an easterly direction again for about 4 miles, passing Mount Lyell. Here we halted for dinner, and I took an observation and found that we were in latitude south 15deg. 37 min. and longitude about 124 deg 59 min. east, Mount Lyell bearing. S.S.E., and distant about two miles. Starting again shortly after dinner, we kept a course S. by E. about 4 miles, and then halted for the night, much disappointed at not reaching the Glenelg. We were on the move early again on the 12th, and on our road, as usual, in the cool of the morning and after about half an hour's travelling, we came upon the northern bank of the Glenelg, which we followed up to the fording-place or rapids, where we crossed, and proceeded about three quarters of a mile, steering S. by W., and halted at a short distance from the foot of the Whately Range, where you formed the first depôt (No. 1) on tracing. After dinner, I went back to the rapids, for the purpose of taking an observation, but was frustrated by clouds. I threw my line in the river and caught a few fish, after which we returned to the depôt.
The country north of the Glenelg, commencing at the western part of the Hampton Downs along our course down to the river, and, for a few miles on either side of the said course, contains good pasture land, producing good though coarse grass in abundance; it is also well watered during this season of the year, and is certainly the finest part of the North District that I have seen, and contains about 60,000 acres of good land. The vegetation is prolific here; eucalyptus averaging from 3 to 5 niches in diameter; a small species of acacia, cypresses, cork tree, cotton, tea, baobab, and palm. Greenstone or basalt compose the peninsula, and between that and the Glenelg sandstone, ironstone, and, ironstone gravel, with a little quartz in places that I have already mentioned, appear to be the principal composition of the country north of the Glenelg. I believe also that the grass is more succulent and nourishing than that growing on the peninsula, caused, I think, by the continuous fall of dews, which every night are very heavy, and do not evaporate by the heat of the sun till 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning, keeping the grass moist and soft, instead of being harsh and dry, as in those places where dew does not fall.
Our depôt was placed in about lat. south 15 deg. 43 min. and long, east about 124 deg. 59 min. (marked No. 1 on tracing.) On the 13th we were again on the move, seeking an outlet southwards. Going around the eastern part of the Whately Range, we found that we had to keep a little to the eastward, and after travelling for some time through very broken country, being repeatedly obliged to turn back, we found that it was impossible to get packhorses in that direction; so we halted for dinner, after finishing which we proceeded eastward to avoid a sandstone range which we had rounded. After about an hour's travelling, over exceedingly rough country, we came upon the banks of the Glenelg about two miles from the rapids. The banks were almost perpendicular, and there were also rapids here. After passing over and down some exceedingly rocky places, we at last reached the small flat on which our depôt camp was fixed between the Whately Range and the river. I have never in any of the Colonies travelled over such a continuation of rough barren country in one day as I have travelled over to-day. Sandstone predominates here, having noticed but two small pieces of quartz during this day.
Gum, pine, and a few honeysuckle trees were all the moderate sized trees I saw growing, and after leaving the flat where our camp was, I scarcely saw any grass; spinifex I saw in abundance.
On the 14th we tried the western part of the Whately Ranges. The ascent here was more difficult than that of yesterday, and after rambling about in every direction, we at last came to a nice sandy flat, along which we proceeded till we came to a good-sized stream, where we halted for dinner; and you were pleased to name the said stream the McRae, after one of those who accompanied us from the Association. In returning to camp, we kept the eastward of our morning's course, and found a comparatively easy path for the pack horses. Feeling satisfied that we had discovered a pass to the southward, we made a halt during Saturday and Sunday, for the purpose of resting, the horses, as their feet and legs were very much cut in passing over the rough, country we had travelled during the last two days. Sandstone, and very little ironstone, constitute the base of this part of the country. Eucalyptus of many sorts, acacia, and banksia, appear to be very common here; gum-trees, like stringy bark, appear here also. Plenty of reed-like grass grows on the sandy plains, and on the better soil kangaroo grass. These we passed on our return round to the depôt.
On Monday, the 17th, we started for the McRae, taking with us three days' provisions, and having arrived at the point referred to, we found an opening, which by winding round, we could manage to proceed very well in the direction required. Just before halting-time my horse cast a shoe, and it was deemed advisable to fend him to the depôt, which was done; he was then shod and brought back. This delayed us half a day, during which time we went out to see if there was any obstacle further on in our way, but, happily to say, there was not. Feeling too unwell, I did not proceed farther than the gully we travelled along the next day; so I sat down and waited till yourself and Mr. McRae returned, and we then proceeded to our camp, which was situated in latitude about 15deg. 50min. south.
18th.—Crossing the McRae, we again continued our southerly course along the valley we saw yesterday, and found it good travelling till we came upon the McRae again, which we had to cross and recross several times, and near its rise we had (in some places) to travel up its bed. We halted for dinner in about latitude south 15deg. 56min. and for the night in about latitude south 16deg.
The country passed over during the last two days is of the same description, except that there were a few quartz rises, containing crystallized quartz. The grasses are also of the same sort as those described as seen on 14th, except that they are shorter and more nutritious than those seen on that day, but as there is no extent of it, I imagine that this particular part of the country will prove useless in a commercial point of view.
On the 19th we retraced our steps to the depôt camp, for the purpose of moving it further to the south, which removal occupied two days, viz:, 21st and 22nd.
24th.—We were again in our saddles and on our way to the south, but we were baffled in several places; we managed, however, to reach latitude about 16deg. 2min. south; we also ascended a hill on our route, which I believe to be the highest point on these ranges, and from whence I managed to get a few bearings, sufficient to give me an estimate of our longitude, which was about 124deg, 55min. east. My horse having lost another shoe, all the nails were expended in putting it on, and it was considered necessary to return to the depôt, and thence to the Camp (Government) again, in case any other shoes should come off the feet of our horses.
On the 25th we started for the Government Camp, keeping on our outward track, and arrived, at our destination without any accident, more than the loss of a few horse-shoes from one or the other of the horses.
Mount Lyell is a very conspicuous mountain, and Dr. Martin could never have been on it, when he says that it is timbered to its summit. I do not think that the rapids where we crossed are sketched in their proper position many of the maps, it being more to the eastward of Mount Lyell than is shown on the maps, and I only regret not haying sufficient instruments and time to prove this. Dr. Martin was on a very remarkable hill bearing west by north, and is clothed to its summit by dense vegetation.
I beg to express my thanks to Mr. T. C. Sholl for his kindness in keeping the barometrical observations during my absence, as it would have been impossible, without great delay, to have kept them while moving about from day to day, as I am obliged to do when away from the Government Camp.
R. J. Sholl, Esq., Government Resident,
Sir,—I intend dispatching a party to the southward of the Glenelg for the purpose of continuing the exploration that direction, commencing from the spot at which I formed my second depot.
To my great regret I find it advisable, on account of the Public Service, that I remain in camp. You will therefore, take command of the party, and upon you I shall depend that it is properly equipped and provisioned.
You will ascertain by personal inspection that the horses are properly shod, that the saddles and other harness are in good order, and that the saddles, pack and riding, fit the horses. You will also take care that at least one set of horse-shoes, and four sets of horse-shoe nails, are taken.
The expedition will be out three weeks, but, as it is desirable to provide foe any unforeseen emergency, you will take with you four weeks' provisions.
The expedition will start on Monday; 5th June, and will consist of the following persons, besides yourself, viz.:—P.C. W. Gee, native assistant Billy, and John Stainer.* You will ride my pony; the others will be mounted on Government horses, of which five will be required, three for saddle, and two for pack.
[* Also Mr. Alex. McRae; see the end of the instructions; Ed.]
The members of the expedition most all be well armed, and a sufficiency of ammunition must be taken. At least one fowling piece, and enough ammunition for procuring game must be taken.
Shoeing tools, an axe for cutting firewood, and a tomahawk will be necessary.
The object of the expedition is to penetrate the ranges in a southerly direction, and, if possible, to travel over the flat country towards Roebuck Bay. As far as I can judge, some westing will have to be made before a southerly course is followed. Should you be unable to obtain a southerly course, you will try to make the sea coast, and ascertain the nature of the country in the direction of Doubtful Bay, returning by George Water, and along the left bank of the Glenelg, until a fording place is found, when a straight course will be made to the Government Camp.
A depot will be formed in the first instance, at the spot occupied by the second, depot in the former expedition. From this depôt the lightly equipped party must never be distant more than 20 miles, or absent more than three days. As soon as a practicable track for pack-horses is discovered, the depot will be moved on to a selected spot, and from thence farther explorations will be made. Never less than two men must be left behind in depot.
You will keep a journal of your proceedings, stating therein the course travelled, the nature of the soil, a description of the vegetation, and of the physical character of the country, recollecting that nothing connected with a new country is too minute or trifling for record. You will also give an estimate of daily distance travelled, being careful not to fall into the common error of over-estimating the distance. Upon your return you will prepare a report, based upon your journal, and as full as possible, addressing the same to me.
As far as practicable you will collect samples of plants, flowers, and seeds; also mineralogical specimens, and in fact any thing which will tend to illustrate any description contained in your journal, or add to our knowledge of the country.
You will be careful not to exceed the allotted time, and in the event of heavy rains, commence a retrograde movement before the rivers in your rear are flooded. The extra week's rations are for the purpose of providing against the probable detention of the party from flooded rivers, sickness, accident, or other causes. The extra supply would not justify your moving onward.
Sunday will be a day of rest, except in cases of extreme emergency. Watch must be kept every night, from dusk until sunrise. Your camps and halting places must be well marked, so that, in the event of the arrival of a ship, and it is necessary to recall the expedition, the searching party will have no difficulty in discovering your thereabouts.
Mr. McRae, a gentleman who accompanied the former expedition, a thorough bushman, and in whose judgment and skill I place great reliance, has promised to form one of your party. I wish you to be guided by him in all matters not connected with the management and control of the Government party, every member of which must yield implicit obedience to your orders.
I earnestly trust that the expedition will be successful, that our knowledge of the country south of the Glenelg may be extended, and, at any rate, that the members of the party will return, without accident, at the appointed time.
Mr. T. C. Sholl, Camden Harbour.
Sir,—Having received orders from you to take command of a small party you intended sending to continue the exploration south of the Glenelg, to be absent three weeks, and to start on the 5th June, also that I was to form my first depot at your farthest or No. 2 depot, and from thence penetrate the ranges in a southerly direction, keeping to the westward as far as you could judge before a southerly course could be made. I beg to state that upon arrival at this depot and from a view obtained from one of the sandstone hills, I could see no pass to the westward, but a likely one to the eastward of south; I therefore departed from this part of your instructions, going to tho eastward instead of west, as you ordered. Whether I have done so wisely or not you will judge from the following report:—
6. Southern half: North-West Australia—chart compiled from the latest information in the Survey Office Perth, J.S. Roe, 1864 (addition [in red] by R.J. Sholl, 1865). [This enlargement of Map 4 shows the route of T. C. Sholl in better resolution.]
From SROWA Series No. 50 [EXPLORATION PLANS], No. 9.
Click on the map to enlarge it.
On the 5th June at ½ past 8 a.m. I left the Government camp, my party consisting of P.C. Gee, native Billy, and John Stainer, with 4 saddle and 3 pack-horses. Mr. McRae, a gentleman who was with the former expedition, also accompanied us. We proceeded along your old track as far as Mount Lyell, where we camped for the night.
On the 6th, in consequence of two of the pack-horses straying. Mr. McRae and myself—during the time they were sought for—ascended Mount Lyell. As there seems to be some difference of opinion with regard to this mount, I will describe it as far as I am able from the short time I was on the summit, as well as add a few bearings taken at the time.
On the N.E. (the side we ascended) about half way up, is a basalt precipice 20 or 30 feet high, which forms as it were a ring round the hill, but this precipice is not so high at any other point. On the N. apex is an irregular pile of basalt upon which we erected a small heap of stones, and upon which we left our initials. The side of the hill is thickly clothed with coarse grass; the summit is lightly grassed. The mount is thinly timbered to the summit, small gum and cotton being the prevalent trees. From the north apes ne took the following bearings:— The E. end of the McDonald Range bore N.N.E, Mount Batten W.N.W., Buff Head in Camden Harbor W.N.W. ½ W., a remarkable pointed hill to the north of the Upper Rapids of the Glenelg E.S.E. ½ E., what we supposed to be Mount Stuart S.W., and Mount Eyre W.S.W. We had a beautiful view of Glenelg to the southward, but could not see the Prince Regent River, as the day was hazy. To the N. of this mount is a beautiful grassy level flat about half a mile in extent, through which runs a clear stream winding around the mount towards the Glenelg.
We still after leaving Mount Lyell followed the old track as far as your No. 2 Depôt, where we arrived and formed our No. 1, on Wednesday, the 7th. Resting here one day I started, on the 9th, accompanied by Mr. McRae and Billy, taking with us three saddle-horses, and proceeded 21 miles about S.S.E. from depôt. We then returned about one mile on our tracks and halted for the night on the banks of a river which I named the Sale. This river is flowing through a level grassy flat; it has two beds about 300 yard distant from each other. These beds are each about 15 or 20 yards wide; there is now only a small amount of water running through them; the banks are steep, and there is drift wood in the trees about 20 feet above the bed of the river, and which, I believe after heavy rains is overflowing. The whole of our travelling to-day with the exception of the last mile or two has been across the Sandstone Range, which in some places, is very rough; the range is timbered with stringy bark, pine, cotton, cork, &c. There is grass on the range, but it is coarse and only in occasional patches. The land about the banks of the Sale is good and richly grassed. About 3 miles to the N. of this river our track passed about 5 miles to the westward of Lushington's farthest in 1838. His farthest from this spot bears about E.N.E., distant about 6 miles.
On the 10th we retained on our tracks to depot; rested on Sunday 11th, and on the 12th moved the depot party to the banks of the Sale, there forming Depot No. 2.
On the 13th Mr. McRae, myself, and Billy, started from depot with three saddle-horses, and proceeded about 5 miles E.S.E., when we arrived at the foot of a mount which Mr. McRae and myself ascended, leaving the horses at the foot; this I named Mount Alexander; it is about 1,600 feet above sea level, thickly grassed and lightly timbered to the very summit; from this mount we had a beautiful view of fine level grassy country extending E. and W.; this good country I named the Panter Downs. Ranges appeared to surround them. During our journey of the 19th I noticed a remarkable bluff point, being evidently the same mentioned by Grey in his account of Lieutenant Lushington's journey S. of his farthest: this point from here bore about E. and was distant about 2 miles. On the high ranges about 25 miles to the eastward there were bush fires. We cut our initials and the broad at row on a tree on the summit of Mount Alexander and descended; we then went a course S. 10 degrees W. for about 5 miles, the greater part over a sandstone range, when we struck the banks of a good-sized river, dividing as it were two large ranges; where we struck it the banks were so high and rocky that we could not get down to it. The river was here about 100 yards wide, with running falls of about 20 feet, and about 200 yards below this the river had widened to about 200 yards; here were falls of about 30 feet; on the opposite bank the shore was of white sand and a gently shelving beach, totally different to the bank we were now on; there were tracks of natives seen here. This river I named the Berckelman. After leaving this point we went about 3½ miles S. 55deg. W. nearly parallel to the bank of the river, but distant from it in some places nearly a mile, in others close to the bank; the river was here joined by a good-sized stream running in from from the E.; this we crossed, sod leaving the river proceeded for about 6 miles N.N.E., when we arrived in depot. Since descending the range shortly after striking the Berckelman we travelled through beautifully grassed level country, the grass fine and green; on the sandstone range there was grass, fine pine, stringy bark, gum, small stinkwood, &c.
On the 14th we removed the depot about 5 miles to the S.W. and formed Depot No. 3 on the southern bank of the Berckelman near where the Sale forms a junction with it; here we saw recent tracks of 8 or 9 natives in the bed of the river, following its coarse downwards. Leaving the depot party, Mr. McRae, myself, and Billy continued along the banks of the river for about 3 miles S. 80 W.; the river here seemed to form three branches, distant from each other not more than 20 yards, two were dry but the third was a deep river. About 3 miles farther to the westward the Berckelman appeared to run out between an opening in the range, but as it was getting late we had not time to go farther, and returned on our tracks to depot.
On the 15th Mr. McRae, myself, and Billy, left depot, and proceeded about 4 miles due S. over tolerably level and well-grassed land, when we arrived at the foot of a hill, about 1,400 feet above sea level, of iron stone and trap formation. This hill Mr. McRae and myself ascended, leaving Billy at the foot in charge of the horses. From the top we took the bearing of a remarkable conical hill, which I named Mount Lochée; it bore S.W., distant about 2 miles. The river Berckelman appeared to run out between the ranges to the N.W. The spot where we first struck it on the 13th bore nearly E., Mount Alexander N. 55deg. E; the junction of the Berckelman, with a large stream, E., apparent openings in the ranges to the S. and S.W. We saw good grassed land all around us, in some places level, in others undulating and hilly. Before descending this hill, which I named Mount Hindhaugh, we cut our initials and the broad arrow on a tree on the summit. This mount is thickly grassed and lightly timbered, it is not unlike Mount Alexander. After leaving here we proceeded for about 6 miles S.W., when we struck a small river; at this point it was very deep, with steep banks, and about from 20 to 30 feet wide; at this place we subsequently caught a great many fish, some over a foot in length. I here determined to form depot No. 4. This river I named the Middleton; the sandstone ranges are about ½ a mile to the S., extending around from S.S.E. to S.W. From here we followed the course of this river for about 2½ miles N.W., and about 5 miles N. 30 deg. E. From this point the Middleton appeared to take a turn and join the Berckelman, about 2 miles distant, bearing, from as near as we could see, N., 10 deg. W. From here we continued about 4½ miles N. 55 deg. E., and arrived at depot.
On the 16th the whole party left Depôt No. 3, and proceeded about 5½ miles on a course S. 10deg. W., when we struck our track of yesterday; we followed this to the banks of the Middleton and formed Depôt No. 4. We stayed there during the remainder of the day to rest the horses.
On the 17th Mr. McRae, myself, and Billy again left Depôt, our object being to try and find a pass through the Ranges, to the S.; we steered a course S. W. for about 1½ mile over good and tolerably level grassed land, which terminated in a ragged pass up the range; after leading, the horses to the summit we continued a course for about 5½ miles due S. along the table top of this range, when we found ourselves on a small hill, or I should say a higher point of this range, from which we had a good view of the country from N. around by W. to S. There appeared nothing but ranges and bills, all which seemed well grassed. We could get no view towards the E. I took the bearing of a very large and conspicuous hill, distant about 15 miles to the S.W.; as this is the largest hill I have seen I name it Mount Page. From here we proceeded for about 4½ miles S.E., when Mr. McRae and myself dismounted, leaving Billy with the horses; we walked out upon a narrow peak, about 2,000 feet high, running out a short distance from the range, almost precipitous; one false step on this peak would entail great danger; if a person fell he would fall many hundred feet without being able to recover himself. This I have named Peak Edward; from here we had a most magnificent view, apparently at our very feet; though distant about 5 miles, wound the coarse of a large river flowing around from E. to S.S.W. The river from here appeared not less than ¼ of a mile in width with low sandy banks. There were fires all around us, some native, others bush. The country appeared passable to the S.E., though hilly; there still appeared to be hills and ranges in all directions. From here we could see no pass from the ranges we were on into the plain below. As it was now getting late we had not time to look for one, but determined to start out again on Monday. We returned along our outward track to Depot. The range we passed over to-day is tolerably well grassed and on the whole easy travelling. Pine, stringy-bark, gum and cotton are the principal trees. This range I named the Harding.
On Sunday the 18th we rested ourselves and the horses.
On the 19th Mr. McRae, myself, and Billy again started from depôt, our object being to try and get as far as the large river seen on the 17th. We followed our old track to within 2½ miles of our farthest on Saturday, when we struck off and steered a course due S. for 2 miles; we were then on the brink of the range, the river, before us. The side of the range at this point was so precipitous that we debated for some time whether we should attempt to lead the horses down or try and find a better pass, but as we had not much time for the latter, and then upon the chance of not finding one, I determined to do the former; we therefore commenced the descent, which was no easy matter, but after leading the horses in a zigzag manner we arrived at the foot, after being over an hour from the time we left the top until we were on the level ground. We still continued our S. course over average grassed land, thickly timbered with plum, gum, cotton, &c., (the largest cotton trees I have yet seen were here, they averaged about 1 foot in diameter.) There were also a great many baobabs both on the level ground and on the side of the range. We struck the river about 8 miles from where we commenced descending the range; this was indeed a fine river; I at once named it the Walcott; at the spot where we struck it it was at least ¼ of a mile across; it was a tidal river, the tide being now at its lowest or nearly so. The rise and fall I should say, judging from the wet muddy banks, would be about 15 feet; the tide was running out at the rate of about 5 miles per hour; the shore was lined, with mangroves; the tide in falling had just left a large sand patch above water about 600 yards from the bank we were on, between which sand patch and us there was a sweeping body of water running out from E.N.E. to W.S.W. I believe this river as tar as this point is navigable; About 1 mile before reaching the banks we passed mud flats quite hard, but close to the banks soft and thinly crusted with salt, with many tracks of alligators; this at spring tide is, under water. No fording place I am sure could be found either here or below it would have to be sought for above. I noticed large fires in different directions at some distance from the river. I had not time to examine the Walcott more closely, as our absence from Camden Harbour being limited to three weeks we would have as much as we could do to arrive home within that period, and we had also to find a suitable spot for camping for the night. We therefore returned for about 2 miles on our track, when Mr. McRae and myself cut our initials and the date, together with the broad arrow, on a large baobab, the nearest one we saw to the river; it measured 30 feet in circumference; after leaving this tree we continued along the homeward track for about 1½ mile when we camped for the night at a small creek with one water hole, which I believe is the only fresh water near here, from the fact that a great, number of birds came to drink, especially pigeons; I called this Pigeon creek. The land between the foot of the range and the banks of the Walcott is tolerably well grassed, but not equal to Panter Downs.
On the 20th, we followed back our tracks to the range, which, after some difficulty, we ascended all safe, both men and beasts; at the top where we commenced descending yesterday and finished ascending to-day, I cut my initials, the date, and the broad arrow on a small baobab; we had from here another good view of the Walcott, and the tide being now in it looked much larger than when we saw it from here yesterday. We also noticed about 20 miles S. of the Walcott evidently the course of another large river. We returned on the old track to Depot.
On the 21st we rested the horses in depot, so as to have them fresh for a start homeward to-morrow.
On the 22nd we followed our old track over the Panter Downs to Depot No. 2, where we halted for the night. The Panter Downs I may here state as far as I could see, judging from our different journeys in many parts of them, as also from the views obtained from the different hills and ranges, averaged 18 miles from E to W., and at least 12 miles from N. to S., with three distinct rivers running through and forming a junction towards the western extremity. A great portion of these downs in the vicinity of the rivers after very heavy rains I believe to be inundated, judging from the drift wood seen in the trees, sometimes distant from the river banks about a quarter of a mile, and then 3 or 4 feet above the ground. The grass averages about 3 feet in height, a fine kangaroo grass, at this time very green; the soil is chocolate-coloured, in some places covered with ironstone gravel, intermixed with quartz.
With regard to the Rivers Berckelman and Walcott I believe, from the lay of the country and the course of these rivers, that the former debouches into the sea at or near Secure Bay, and the latter at or near Stokes' Bay. The Walcott at its point of debouchement is evidently a river of some, magnitude, perhaps as large if not larger than any other in Western Australia.
The weather we had during the whole of our journey was delightful; the nights were icy cold—heavy dews nearly every night. Sometimes during the day we experienced strong N.E. winds. The timber on the whole was small; on the banks of the Sale there are some large flooded gum. On the Harding Range there is as fine pine, stringy bark and other trees, the names of which I am unacquainted with. On the flat near the river Walcott, plum, baobab, cotton, and cork, are the principal trees.
The grass on the Panter Dawns is the best I have seen; I think it superior to the grass on the Hampton Downs, which is much coarser. All the hills we saw on these Downs were well grassed.
We were never inconvenienced for want of water; there was abundance along our track.
We were troubled very little by mosquitoes, the nights were too cold for them. We saw no natives, but numerous recent tracks and many fires.
On the whole we saw very little game, on an average from six to seven kangaroo a day, but they were so wild we could not shoot one. The only game we could get, and we tried hard, were cockatoos, pheasants, and pigeons.
R. J. Sholl, Esq., Government Resident,
Sir,—As I had the pleasure of accompanying an expedition under the command of Mr. T C. Sholl, which left here in June last, having as its object the exploration of the country south of the Glenelg River, I trust a few remarks from me upon the district passed over will not be deemed out of place.
We left Government Camp, Camden Harbor, on the 5th ult., steering a course for the rapids on the Glenelg near your No. 1 Depot, which we reached in a day and a half. The country lying between Camden Harbor and those rapids and through which our track for the most part lay, is that known as "Hampton Downs," and so highly extolled by Mr. Martin and other writers to the Perth Government, upon the capabilities of this district. Those Downs are principally chocolate soil, mixed with ironstone gravel, and intersected with low traprock ridges, at this season clothed with the most luxuriant kangaroo grass, wild oats, &c. The timber is principally a stunted gum, of little use for anything other than firewood; some large white-gums, however, are found near streams that might be split up for fencing purposes. Water is found in abundance anywhere; in fact I never saw a district better watered than Camden Harbor. After all I have heard said for and against this as a grazing district, I must say at this season it presents many advantages that would lead one to suppose it a passable sheep country, but if seen in the months of November and December, when our misguided Association landed in it, any one, with the least knowledge of country suited for sheep-farming, would at once pronounce it unfit. Horses or cattle however, I am convinced, would do on it, and for their pasturage about 300,000 acres might be available.
After leaving the Glenelg, we made for your No. 2 depot, about 18 or 20 miles south of the crossing, which we reached in one day. Here the first depot party were left until a pass was found further south. The country between this camp and the river is a succession of barren sandstone ranges, rising gradually from the coast and river to an elevation of about [3?],000 feet near the camp. The principal, grass seen is spinifex, timber—pine and black-butt gum. This, like the other side of the river, is well watered. The McRae River is a fine stream, taking its rise in the ranges east of depot 2, and flows N.W. until it forms a junction with the Glenelg a few miles below the rapids. Some rich grassy flats are found on its banks, but of no extent, the largest, that near the camp, not being more than a thousand acres; they would, however, be found, of essential service as halting places for stock travelling to the interior, should it be settled.
After a day's rest, Mr. Sholl and myself, accompanied by Billy, carrying two days' provisions, started in a S.E. direction to try and find a track farther through the ranges. We travelled about 12 miles, over some very rough country, of a sandstone formation, poorly grassed, when we got to a high peak, affording a good view of the surrounding district. To the south, we saw what was taken to be the course of a river, running N.E. and S.W. through low country, and distant about 8 or 10 miles. A high table-range bounded the view south, which terminated in a remarkable high bluff, bearing S.S.E. from our position. Leaving this peak, from which the ranges gradually sloped towards the low country and keeping a general course S. for about 8 miles, over broken sandstone, we came upon open flats, and 2 miles farther on we struck a fine stream running to the west, through a large tract of low level country, well grassed and lightly wooded. The main bed of this river, where we struck it, is about 30 yards wide; besides two other beds, not running. After moving the depot party on here, we examined the country 7 or 8 miles to the S.E., and from a high hill about 1,600 feet above sea level (which Mr. Sholl proposed calling Mount Alexander) we had a splendid view of the rich low Downs that surrounded us on all sides, and extending W. 16 or 18 miles. The country east was more hilly. Another fine stream was found running through the ranges from the S.E. and forming a junction with the other 6 or 7 miles below our depot; it is much the finer stream of the two, and judging from the height of drift wood in the trees, the low land along its banks must be flooded to a considerable extent at the wet season. A third depot was formed on it below the junction, and after being joined by another large stream (upon which we formed our fourth and last depot about 10 miles to the south), flowed through the ranges to the west. The country here is similar to that to the east—chocolate flats, thickly grassed. There is about 200,000 acres in those flats, which Mr. Sholl proposed calling "Panter Downs," well suited for horse or cattle stations. This I consider to be superior to any land about Camden Harbour; there is less stone and gravel mixed with the soil, and the grass grows closer and finer.
"Panter Downs" are bounded on the south by a high table-range rising abruptly from the plain. This we crossed in a S. direction. The tableland is well grassed, although of a light sandy nature. Ten miles from our depot No. 4, we found ourselves on the edge of a high precipice, running E. and W, 2,000 feet below us, and extending 7 or 8 miles south lay a low country, with a large tidal river running through it from E.N.E. to W.S.W. From the number of native fires and openings through the ranges across the river to the S.E., I think it likely a good tract of country will be found to exist there; but the best route to it would be S.E. from out depot No.2. The pass down to the low land was made with difficulty even by leading our horses. The flats are not so good here as "Panter Downs". We crossed about 6 miles of them, in a southerly direction before coming to the mud and mangrove flats, which extend 1½ mile from the main river bed. As the tide was out we had a good opportunity of judging the breadth of the main channel, which could not have been less than 600 yards, through which its dark muddy water swept at the rate of 5 miles per hour. The rise and fall of tide is 10 to 15 feet, and I think it must be navigable for ships of considerable tonnage even further up than where we struck it. This noble river (certainly the finest I have seen in this territory), Mr. Sholl proposed calling the Walcott. It will doubtless be of great importance should the country in its vicinity be settled as affording the best means for the transmission of provisions &c. from the coast to the interior, for there seems little probability of a practicable dray-route being found through the ranges which stretch along the coast and south bank of the Glenelg. Stock of course could be driven from Camden Harbor, or some of the ports to the south. The total extent of country seen by us on or about those rivers suited for grazing purposes would be about 350,000 acres, and I should say capable of carrying 10,000 horses or cattle. Our farthest point on the Walcott would be about 50 miles south of your No. 2 depot. We returned by our outward track to Camden Harbour on the 26th, after a trip of three weeks, which I must admit I spent very pleasantly.
Robert J. Sholl, Government Resident, Camden Harbour.
Preface. From: Western Mail, Saturday 27 February, 1886; Trove article/32701826.
First Dispatch. From: The Perth Gazette and West Australian Times, Friday 21 April 1865; Trove article/3748542.
Second Dispatch. From: The Perth Gazette and West Australian Times, Friday 28 July 1865; Trove article/3751633.
Third Dispatch. From: The Perth Gazette and West Australian Times, Friday 28 July 1865; Trove article/3751633.
Fourth Dispatch. From: The Inquirer and Commercial News, Wednesday 20 September 1865; Trove article/66012558. [This number also has the first part of the journal of R. Sholl's expedition.]
Extracts from a private letter. From: The Inquirer and Commercial News, Wednesday 13 September 1865; Trove article/66015183.
Fifth Dispatch. From: The Inquirer and Commercial News, Wednesday 20 September 1865; Trove article/66012558.
Sixth Dispatch. From: The Perth Gazette and West Australian Times, Friday 12 January 1866; Trove article/3751657.
Postscript—Seventh Dispatch. From: The Inquirer and Commercial News, Wednesday 21 March 1866; Trove article/66014450.
Appendix 1: From: The
Perth Gazette and West Australian Times,
Friday 27 January 1865; Trove article/3752960.
Appendix 2: From: The
Perth Gazette and West Australian Times,
Friday 28 April 1865; Trove article/3754220.
Appendix 3: From: Journal of
the Royal Geographical Society of London,
VOLUME XXXVI , Pages 203-227;
also available from: The Inquirer and Commercial News,
Wednesday 20 September 1865; Trove article/66012558.
Appendix 4: From: The
Inquirer and Commercial News,
Wednesday 4 October 1865; Trove article/66015007.
Appendix 5: From: The Inquirer and Commercial News, Wednesday 27 September 1865; Trove article/66014519.
Grey, George, 1841: Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery in North-West and Western Australia, during the Years 1837, 1838, and 1839, Volume 1, including map. Also found at http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks/e00054.html.
James Martin, 1864: Explorations in North-Western Australia. Also found at http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks14/1402201h.html.
No maps or illustrations accompanied the original articles; these have been sourced from websites associated with the State Records Office of Western Australia (SROWA), The National Library of Australia (NLA) and the State Library of Victoia (SLV).
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