― 43 ―

Chapter II.

Send to Nyingan for leeches.—Better ponds found to the northeast.—Move to the ponds of Cannonbà and set up our bivouac.—Hot wind.—Heat greater than my table for expansion of mercury was calculated for.—Piper's intention to quit the party.—His character.—Sent to Bathurst.—Weather changes.—Rain.—Mr. Kennedy returns from the Macquarie.—Salt made from the salt plant.—Reconnoitre “Duck Creek.”—The party quits Cannonbà—Crosses plains to Marra Creek—and thence to the river Macquarie.—Ophthalmia still troublesome.—Approach of a flood announced.—Its arrival in clear moonlight.—Mr. Kinghorne guides the party along the reedy banks.—No water found in “Duck Creek.”—Difficulty of watering the cattle from softness of the banks of ponds amongst the reeds.—“Yulliyally,” a native, guides the party.—New plants discovered.—Description of our native guide.—Condition of his countrymen.—How affected by the intrusion of the white race.—At length emerge from the reeds.—Water scarce.—Necessity for preserving aboriginal names of rivers.—Delayed by stray bullocks several days.—At length arrive at the junction of the river with the Darling.—Cross the Macquarie near its junction—and ford the Darling at Wyàbry.

25th January.—Dr. Stephenson having recommended the application of leeches, and having observed them in the ponds at Nyingan, I sent William Baldock and Yuranigh there in search of some, and they brought back enough. Fourteen were applied to my eyes the same afternoon. The ground here was quite naked; it was, in fact, the blue clay of the Darling, with the same sterile looking plants; and no time

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was to be lost in seeking some ponds where there might be also good grass for the cattle. Therm. at sunrise, 97°; at noon, 100°; at 9 P.M. 90°; with wet bulb, 71°.

26th January.—I sent Corporal Graham with Piper, in a N. E. direction to where we had observed the light of burning woods reflected from a cloudy sky last evening; considering that a sure indication that water was near, as natives are seldom found where there is none. He returned early with the welcome tidings that he had found abundance of water in a creek about five miles off, and excellent grass upon its banks.

My eyes were so far recovered that I could observe the altitude of a star, thus ascertaining the latitude of this camp to be 31° 20' 20? S. Therm. at sunrise, 85°; at noon, 112°; at 9 P.M. 84°; with wet bulb, 70°.

27th January.—The whole party moved to the ponds called “Cannonbà” by the natives. There we found greater abundance of water and better grass than we had seen near water during the whole journey, and I determined to halt for at least two weeks, as part of the time I had previously intended to devote to the repose and refreshment of the cattle, when we should have reached the Darling. The cattle and their drivers had been much harassed, and both needed and deserved rest. The horses had got out of condition, and I considered that when we arrived at the Darling their services would be more required. I was also to try the experiment here, whether I might prosecute the journey without danger of losing my eyesight; to have abandoned the undertaking at that point, had been almost as painful to me as the other alternative.

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There were no hostile natives here, the fire having been set up by some solitary gins; rain was daily to be expected, at least cooler weather would certainly come in a short time; the wheels of the drays had been long represented to me as needing a thorough repair, from the effect of the heat on the wheels;—and, upon the whole, I considered it very fortunate that we could encamp under such circumstances on so favourable a spot. We placed our tents amongst shady bushes—set up the blacksmith's forge, and soon all hands were at work in their various avocations, whilst the cattle and horses enjoyed the fresh grass, leisure to eat it, and abundance of water.

Amongst the bushes here, a Hakea, with simple filiform mucronulate leaves without flower, occurred, loaded with oblong hard galls resembling dry plums. Also the Senecio Cunninghami (D.C.), found by Allan Cunningham on the shores of Lake George. Mr. Stephenson discovered here a very pretty new Trichinium, with heads of hoary pink flowers.note

I learnt from the natives that this creek also joined the Bogan, consequently that the real Duck Creek must either be still to the N. E. of us, or be a branch out of this. At all events, the creek surveyed by Larmer is thus proved to have been a discovery of his, and a most useful one it has thus proved to us on this emergency. That chain of ponds (whence we had just come) was called Bellaringa; this “Cannonbà;” and to what I suppose must be Duck Creek, water to which the natives point northward, they give the name

  ― 46 ―
of “Marra.” Therm. at sunrise, 78°; at noon, 115°; at 4 P.M. 96°; at 9, 88°; with wet bulb, 73°.

28th January.—Several kettles, a good spade, a Roman balance with large chain complete, barrels, and other articles, were found at the bottom of one of the ponds; and old tracks of cattle were numerous about the banks. Thus it was clear that this favourable spot for a cattle station had not been unheeded by the white man. It was vaguely asserted by some old gins seen by Piper, that three men had been killed here when the place was abandoned. We were about twelve or fourteen miles to the W.N.W. of Mount Harris; and certainly the general bed of this water-course was broader than that of the Bogan, and moreover contained much granitic sand, all but identifying its sources with those of the Macquarie. This day was very hot; a thunder cloud passed over us, and a shower fell about 3 P.M. Thermometer at sunrise, 78°; at noon, 115°; at 4 P.M. 108°; at 9, 84°; with wet bulb, 63°.

29th January.—A more than usually hot wind raised the thermometer to 115° in the shade; but distant thunder was soon heard, and the horizon became clouded. The day was very sultry, and although no rain fell near us, it was evident that other parts to the north-east were receiving a heavy shower. Thermometer at sunset, 102°.

30th January.—An easterly wind brought a refreshing air from the quarter where the thunder-cloud had exhausted itself last evening. This day the doctor found the tree mentioned as bearing a nondescript fruit in my former journal, Vol. I. page 82., but this tree bore neither flower nor fruit. Thermometer

  ― 47 ―
at sunrise, 80°; at noon, 103°; at 4 P.M., 108°; at 9, 100½°; with wet bulb, 79°.

31st January.—The weather still very sultry. I commenced a series of observations with a syphon barometer (made by Bunten of Paris). The table for expansion of mercury and mean dilatation of glass, sent me by my friend Captain P. P. King, came but to 88° of Fahrenheit, whereas at 4 P.M., the centigrade thermometer stood at 44½°, which is equal to 112° of Fahrenheit.

This day I was apprised of Piper's intention to leave the party, taking with him the two younger and more useful natives. He had recently made some very unreasonable demands. It was now obvious from various sayings and doings thus brought to my recollection, that he had never any serious intention of accompanying this expedition throughout its progress. The services of other more intelligent natives might easily have been obtained, having been proffered by many in the settled districts, but Piper from having been with me before, was preferred as a matter of course. He had not improved in speech or manners during the long interval of ten years that had elapsed since our former acquaintance, although during that time he had visited Adelaide, Sydney, Moreton Bay, the river Hunter, &c., &c. From the day on which he had joined the party on this last occasion, he had been allowed a horse, saddle, double-barrelled gun, clothing, and the same rations as the other men, blankets, place in a tent with the men, &c. Unlike most other natives, he was a very bad shot, and very awkward about a horse; it was impossible to obtain any clear intelligence from his countrymen through him as interpreter; he went very unwillingly about

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doing anything. He had drawn his rations and those of the two young natives separately from the men's mess the week before this, on the plea that they did not obtain their fair share; he was thus premeditately preparing for his clandestine departure, foreseeing that on the Saturday, when rations were issued, he could thus obtain a week's provisions in advance, without suspicion. He also had it in his power, like a true savage, to take the lion's share from the other two, in thus drawing rations apart from the men's mess. He had heard of the gins who had made the conflagration having retired towards the cattle-stations on the Macquarie. Here, then, while other men were actively at their work,—blacksmiths, carpenters, bullock-drivers,—this man, who was as well fed and clothed as they, carried on a horse to boot, and doing no work, was the only dissatisfied person. Me, whom he called his “old master,” he would heartlessly leave, without a native guide, just at the time when such guides were most required. The only difficulty I felt on this occasion was how to secure the services of the two others, and yet dismiss him. He had just received a week's ration in advance, and he was baking the whole of the flour into bread. I sent to have him instantly seized, and brought with the dough and the other native, Yuranigh, before Mr. Kennedy and myself, as magistrates. He denied the intention to decamp. The other declared he had proposed to him to leave the party and go in search of gins, and that he could not understand him; that he was afraid to accompany Piper in a country so far from his own home (Buree). On this I ordered Piper to be sent to Bathurst, and the rations he was about to carry off, to be given to the other two, and

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that he should be kept apart from them during the night. Thermometer at sunrise, 85°; at noon, 111°; at 4 P.M., 112°; at 9, 101°;—with wet bulb, 78°.

1st February.—This morning Piper was sent off with Corporal Graham. Mr. Kennedy rode on also in order to find out the nearest police station, and make arrangements, if possible, there, for forwarding Piper to Bathurst, his own district, which would put it out of his power to molest the party by endeavouring to induce the other natives to leave it. On them this measure appeared to have a salutary effect, Yuranigh calmly observing that Piper had only himself to blame for what had befallen him, and that he had acted like a fool. Mr. Kennedy undertook also to obtain, if he could, some more kangaroo dogs to replace those which had died from excessive heat. By that loss our party was left almost without dogs; and dogs were useful not only to kill kangaroos and emus, but to afford protection from, or to give notice of, nightly attacks by the natives, in which attacks those on that part of the Darling we were approaching, had been rather too successful against various armed parties of whites. Thermometer at sunrise, 88°; at noon, 104°; at 4 P.M., 106°; at 9 P.M., 88°;—with wet bulb, 76°.

2nd February.—The setting sun descended on a blue stratus cloud which appeared along the edge of all other parts of the horizon, and eagerly watching any indication of a change, I drew even from this a presage of rain. Thermometer at sunrise, 88°; at noon, 104°; at 4 P.M., 106; at 9, 88°;—with wet bulb, 72°.

3rd February.—High winds whistled among the trees this morning, and dark clouds of stratus appeared in the sky. A substantial shower fell about

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9 A.M., and the horizon was gradually shut in by clouds of nimbus. The high wind had blown steadily from north both yesterday and this morning, and in the same quarter a thunder cloud seemed busy. But when the rain began to fall, the wind shifted to the S.W., from which quarter the rain seemed to come. With it came a very peculiar smell, which I had noticed near Mount Arapiles in 1836, about the time of the commencement of the rainy weather there; and nothing could have been more welcome to us now, than the prospect of rain, and the decided change in the temperature from 115° to 73°. This was almost the first day during a month in which the air had not been warmer than our blood; often had it been greater than fever heat, so that 73° felt to us as cool as 50° would have been to a resident of Sydney. Much rain did not fall at our camp, but it seemed that rain was falling about the sources of the Bogan and other places at which a supply of water was indispensable to enable us to proceed. At sunset, glimpses of a clear sky appeared about the horizon, and during the night the moon and stars came forth, and destroyed all hopes of more rain. We were thankful, however, for the relief afforded by what had fallen, which had lowered the temperature about 40 degrees, and enabled us to enjoy a night of refreshing rest. Thermometer at sunrise, 85°; at noon, 80°; at 4 P.M., 73°; at 9, 68°;—with wet bulb, 67°.

4th February.—The morning dawned in a most serene sky, with refreshing breezes from the south, and the thermometer at 61°. This day we had completed the repair of the wheels of half the drays. Many of the tire-rings had been cut, rewelded, and

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again fixed and bolted on the wheels; the wood of these having contracted so much in the intense heat, as to have rendered these repairs indispensable. The same repairs were required by the wheels of the remaining drays and those of the light carts, and the smith and wheelwright continued their work with activity and zeal. Meanwhile the cattle were daily regaining strength and vigour for another effort. Thermometer at sunrise, 61°; at noon, 89°; at 4 P.M., 89°; at 9, 72°;—with wet bulb, 62°.

5th February.—This morning the mercurial column stood higher than I had yet observed it here, and clouds of cirrus lay in long streaks across the sky, ranging from east to west, but these were most abundant towards the northern horizon. The day was comparatively cool and pleasant, the thermometer never having risen above 96°. By 6 P.M., the barometer had fallen nearly four millimetres, and even upon this apparently trivial circumstance, I could build some hope of rain; such was my anxiety for a change of weather at that time, when the earth was so parched as not only to preclude our travelling, but almost to deprive us of sight. Thermometer at sunrise, 60°; at noon, 94°; at 4 P.M., 96°; at 9, 73°; with wet bulb, 64°.

6th February.—Dark stratus-shaped clouds wholly covered the sky, and shut out the sun, to my unspeakable delight. A most decided change seemed to have taken place; still the barometer remained as low as on the previous evening. A slight breeze from south-east changed to north, and at about 7 A.M. the rain began to fall. Clouds of nimbus closed on the woody horizon, and we had a day of rain. In the evening the barometer had fallen still lower, and

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it was probable that the rain might continue through the night. Range of thermometer from 74° to 72°.

7th February.—Some heavy showers fell during the night, and the mercurial column stood exactly at the same point as on the last evening. About 10 A.M. a very heavy shower fell, after which the sun broke through, and the mass of vapour separated into vast clouds of nimbus. Much rain seemed to be still falling in the east, where the Macquarie, Bogan, and other rivers had their sources. At noon, the barometer had risen one millimetre. The rain had penetrated the clay soil of the plains about five inches.

Mr. Kennedy returned in the afternoon, having duly provided for Piper's conveyance by the mounted police to Bathurst, and brought back a good bull-dog, and also some useful information respecting the various water-courses, and the river Macquarie, which he had gathered from the natives about the stations along the banks of that river. Thermometer at sunrise, 74°; at noon, 86°; at 4 P.M., 90°; at 9, 80°;—with wet bulb, 75°.

8th February.—The moisture recently imbibed by the earth and air made us much more sensible of the high temperature in which we had been living, although it had been reduced by the late rains. The night air, especially, breathed no refreshing coolness as heretofore during the dry heat. The drier earth below seemed to be steaming the wet soil above it (as Brown, our cook, justly observed). Thermometer at sunrise, 80°; at noon, 96°; at 4 P.M., 95°; at 9, 80°;—with wet bulb, 75°.

9th February.—The leisure we enjoyed at this camp, enabled us to bestow more attention on the vegetable and animal productions of these remarkable

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plains, than had been given during my former journey. It appeared that the saltwort plants, which were numerous, were not only efficacious in keeping the cattle that fed on them in the best possible condition; but as wholly preventing cattle and sheep from licking clay, a vicious habit to which they are so prone, that grassy runs in the higher country nearer Sydney are sometimes abandoned only on account of the “licking holes” they contain. It is chiefly to take off that taste for licking the saline clay, that rock-salt is in such request for sheep, lumps of it being laid in their pens for this purpose. At all events, it is certain that by this licking of clay both sheep and cattle are much injured in health and condition, losing their appetite for grass, and finally passing clay only, as may be seen near such places. In the salt plants on these plains, nature has amply provided for this taste of these large herbivora for salt. Our sheep nibbled at the mesembryanthemum, and the cattle ate greedily of various bushes whereof the leaf was sensibly salt to the taste. The colour of the leaves of such bushes is usually a very light bluish green, and there are many species. That with the largest leaves, called salt-bush by stockmen, and by Dr. Brown Rhagodia parabolica, was very useful as a vegetable after extracting the salt sufficiently from it. This we accidentally discovered from some experiments made by Mr. Stephenson, for the purpose of ascertaining the proportion of salt contained in the leaves. The leaves contained as much as a twentieth part of salt, nearly two ounces having been obtained from two pounds of the leaves.note We also found that after

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twice boiling the leaves a few minutes in water to extract the salt, and then an hour in a third water, the leaves formed a tender and palatable vegetable, somewhat resembling spinach. As the superior excellence of these runs for fattening cattle is admitted on all hands, as compared with others more abundant in grass on the eastern side of the great range, would it not be advisable for the colonists to cultivate this salt-supplying bush, and thereby to produce a vegetable substitute for the rock salt, which is not only expensive, but only a very imperfect remedy for the clay-licking propensities of sheep and cattle on many runs? Thermometer at sunrise, 70°; at noon, 94°; at 4 P.M., 98°; at 9, 86°;—with wet bulb, 75°.

10th February.—This morning the natives caught, in a hollow tree, an animal apparently of the same genus as the Dipus Mitchellii, and which seemed to live solely on vegetables. The barometer had fallen three millimetres last evening, and by noon this day it had declined three more. A fresh breeze blew from N. N. E., and at 2 P.M. a dark thunder cloud came from the S. S. W. and passed over the camp. The thunder was very loud, the lightning close and vivid; the wind for some time high, and rain heavy. The sky was, however, clear by 4 P.M., except in the N. E. where the thunder continued. Thermometer at sunrise, 75°.

11th February.—The real “Duck Creek” was

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still to the north-eastward of our camp, as Mr. Kennedy had ascertained when on the Macquarie. I hoped to find in it water sufficient at least to serve the party halting on it one night, on its way to the Macquarie, by which line alone I was now convinced water enough might be obtained to supply the party until it could arrive at the Darling; I therefore rode this day to examine it, with the elder native. I followed the bearing of N. N. E. from our camp, a direction in which it was likely to be met with, so as equally to divide the journey of the drays to the Macquarie, into two days. I crossed plains covered with luxuriant crops of very rich grass, and at length obtained a sight of Mount Foster bearing east. I reached Duck Creek (that of Sturt), or the “Marra” of the natives, ascertained by the bearing of Mount Foster, the native name of which is Narrab. I examined the bed of the Marra downwards for about two miles, without seeing therein the least indication of water, and returned to the camp fully resolved to proceed next day to the Macquarie, so as to reach it a little way below Mount Foster, a distance in that direction rather too great for the cattle to travel over in one day. Thermometer at sunrise, 59°; at noon, 73°; at 4 P.M., 76°; at 9, 61°;—with wet bulb, 57°. From an average of twenty-five observations of the mercurial column, the height of this station has been determined to be 566 English feet above the level of the sea.

12th February.—We broke up our encampment on Cannonbà ponds, where we had greatly recruited ourselves, both men and cattle, and crossing the channel of the water-course near our camping ground, we travelled over open grassy plains towards the

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river Macquarie. At thirteen miles we reached the western branch of Duck Creek, or “Marra,” a name by which it is universally known to natives and stockmen. Of this we crossed several branches, from which it would appear as if the name was derived from that of the hand, which is the same, especially as natives sometimes hold up the hand and extend the fingers, when they would express that a river has various branches or sources. I went on with an advanced party towards the Macquarie, and encamped on the bank of that river at 5 P. M. The thick grass, low forests of yarra trees, and finally the majestic blue gum trees along the river margin, reminded me of the northern rivers seen during my journey of 1831. Still even the bed of this was dry, and I found only two water holes on examining the channel for two miles. One of these was, however, deep, and we encamped near it, surrounded by excellent grass in great abundance. The Macquarie, like other Australian rivers, has a peculiar character, and this was soon apparent in the reeds and lofty yarra trees growing on reedy plats, and not, as usual in other rivers, on the edge of water-worn banks. The channel was here deep and dry. We found this day, in the scrubs by Marra Creek, the Acacia salicina, whereof the wood has a strong perfume resembling violets, also a new small-leaved Kochia with intricate branches.note Thermometer at sunrise, 47°; at 4 P. M., 77°; at 9, 57°;—with wet bulb, 56°.

13th February.—I was again laid up with the maladie du pays—sore eyes. Mr. Stephenson took

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a ride for me to the summit of Mount Foster, and to various cattle stations about its base, with some questions to which I required answers, about the river and stations on it lower down. But no one could tell what the western side of the marshes was like, as no person had passed that way; the country being more open on the eastern side, where only the stations were situated; Mr. Kinghorne's at Gràway, about five miles from our camp, being the lowest down on the west bank. Mr. Stephenson returned early, having met two of the mounted police. To my most important question—what water was to be found lower down in the river—the reply was very satisfactory; namely, “plenty, and a flood coming down from the Turmountains.” The two policemen said they had travelled twenty miles with it, on the day previous, and that it would still take some time to arrive near our camp. About noon the drays arrived in good order, having been encamped where there was no water about six miles short of our camp, the whole distance travelled, from Cannonbà to the Macquarie, having been about nineteen miles. In the afternoon two of the men taking a walk up the river, reported on their return, that the flood poured in upon them when in the river bed, so suddenly, that they narrowly escaped it. Still the bed of the Macquarie before our camp continued so dry and silent, that I could scarcely believe the flood coming to be real, and so near to us, who had been put to so many shifts for want of water. Towards evening, I stationed a man with a gun a little way up the river, with orders to fire on the flood's appearance, that I might have time to run to the part of the channel nearest to our camp, and witness what I had

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so much wished to see, as well from curiosity as urgent need. The shades of evening came, however, but no flood, and the man on the look-out returned to the camp. Some hours later, and after the moon had risen, a murmuring sound like that of a distant waterfall, mingled with occasional cracks as of breaking timber, drew our attention, and I hastened to the river bank. By very slow degrees the sound grew louder, and at length, so audible as to draw various persons besides from the camp to the river-side. Still no flood appeared, although its approach was indicated by the occasional rending of trees with a loud noise. Such a phenomenon in a most serene moonlight night was quite new to us all. At length, the rushing sound of waters and loud cracking of timber, announced that the flood was in the next bend. It rushed into our sight, glittering in the moonbeams, a moving cataract, tossing before it ancient trees, and snapping them against its banks. It was preceded by a point of meandering water, picking its way, like a thing of life, through the deepest parts of the dark, dry, and shady bed, of what thus again became a flowing river. By my party, situated as we were at that time, beating about the country, and impeded in our journey, solely by the almost total absence of water—suffering excessively from thirst and extreme heat,—I am convinced the scene never can be forgotten. Here came at once abundance, the product of storms in the far off mountains, that overlooked our homes. My first impulse was to have welcomed this flood on our knees, for the scene was sublime in itself, while the subject—an abundance of water sent to us in a desert—greatly heightened the effect to our eyes.

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Suffice it to say, I had witnessed nothing of such interest in all my Australian travels. Even the heavens presented something new, at least uncommon, and therefore in harmony with this scene; the variable star Argus had increased to the first magnitude, just above the beautiful constellation of the southern cross, which slightly inclined over the river, in the only portion of sky seen through the trees. That very red star, thus rapidly increasing in magnitude, might, as characteristic of her rivers, be recognized as the star of Australia, when Europeans cross the Line. The river gradually filled up the channel nearly bank high, while the living cataract travelled onward, much slower than I had expected to see it; so slowly, indeed, that more than an hour after its first arrival, the sweet music of the head of the flood was distinctly audible from my tent, as the murmur of waters, and the diapason crash of logs, travelled slowly through the tortuous windings of the river bed. I was finally lulled to sleep by that melody of living waters, so grateful to my ear, and evidently so unwonted in the dry bed of the thirsty Macquarie. Thermometer, at sunrise, 47°; at noon, 79°; at 4 P. M., 88°; at 9, 63°;—with wet bulb, 57°.

14th February.—The river had risen to within six feet of the top of the banks, and poured its turbid waters along in fulness and strength, but no longer with noise. All night that body of water had been in motion downwards, and seemed to me enough to deluge the whole country to the Darling, and correct at least any saltness in its waters, if stagnant; a probability which had greatly reconciled me to the necessity for changing the line of my intended route,

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as the waters above the junction of the Castlereagh had never been known to become salt. We proceeded, falling soon into a cart track which led us to Gràway, Mr. Kinghorne's cattle-station, and we encamped about five miles beyond it, near a bend of the river. We were already in the midst of reeds, but these had been so generally burnt, that we had little difficulty in crossing those parts of the marshes. The Imperata arundinacea, with its long head of white silky flowers, was common, and a straggling naked branched species of dock, on the parts unburnt. Thermometer at sunrise, 54°; at noon, 91°; at 4 P. M., 82°; at 9, 72°;—with wet bulb, 60°. Height above the level of the sea, 475 feet.

15th February.—Mr. Kinghorne obligingly accompanied me this day, and guided us across arms of the marshy ground. I was very glad to have his assistance, for I saw no line of trees as on other rivers, nor other objects by which I could pursue its course or keep near its waters; trees of the aquatic sort and reeds grew together. At one time nothing was visible to the eastward but a vast sea of reeds extending to the horizon. Where the long reeds remained unburnt, they presented a most formidable impediment, especially to men on foot and sheep, and twenty of these got astray as the party passed through. We encamped on a bank of rather firm ground, in lat. 30° 53' 55? S. The grass was very rich on some parts of open plains near the marshes, and the best was the Panicum lœvinode of Dr. Lindley, mentioned in my former journalsnote as having been found pulled, and laid up in heaps for some purpose we could not then discover. Mr. Kinghorne now informed me that it was called by

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the natives “coolly,” and that the gins gather it in great quantities, and pound the seeds between stones with water, forming a kind of paste or bread; thus was clearly explained the object of those heaps of this grass which we had formerly seen on the banks of the Darling. There they had formed the native's harvest field. There also I observed a brome grass, probably not distinct from the Broods australis of Brown; it called to mind the squarrose brome grass of Europe. Thermometer at sunrise, 59°; at noon, 87°; at 4, 89°; at 9, 73°; — with wet bulb, 66°.

16th February. — Mr. Kinghorne set out with a man of our party to examine Duck Creek, a native boy having told him that water was to be found in it lower down. I sent back early this morning, our native, with the store-keeper, some of the men, and the shepherd, to look for the lost sheep in the reeds, and Yuranigh fortunately found them out, still not very far from the spot where they had been separated from the rest of the flock. Our greatest difficulty in these marshes was the watering of the cattle. We had still the Macquarie at hand — deep, muddy, and stagnant — not above thirty feet wide, the banks so very soft that men could scarcely approach the water without sinking to the knees. We could water the horses with buckets, but not the bullocks. The great labour of filling one of the half-boats, and giving the cattle water by that means, was inevitable, and this operation took up three hours of the morning; a wheel required repair, the box having been broken yesterday. I for these reasons found it advisable to halt this day, which I did very reluctantly. At sunset, Mr. Kinghorne returned, having found no water in the “Marra,” (Duck Creek).

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Among the grasses growing among the reeds, we perceived the Andropogon sericeus and an Erianthus, which appeared to differ from E. fulvus in having no hair upon the knees. The smooth variety of the European Lythrum Salicaria, raised its crimson spikes of flowers among the reeds of the Macquarie, as it does in England on the banks of the Thames. We saw also Morgania floribunda, Senecio brachylœnus (D. C.), a variety with toothed leaves, also a Brachycome resembling B. heterodonta, only the leaves were entire. A new species of Lotus appeared among the reeds, very near the narrow-leaved form of L. australis on the one hand, and the South European narrow-leaved form of L. corniculatus on the other; the flowers were pink, and smaller than in L. australis.note Also an Ethulia note, which may, on further examination, constitute a new genus; it was found by Allan Cunningham on the Lachlan. Thermometer at sunrise, 54°; at noon, 86°; at 4 P.M., 84°; at 9, 61°; — with wet bulb, 54°.

17th February. — The party moved off early, and Mr. Kinghorne having shown me a few miles more of the best ground between the scrubs and reeds, went towards a cattle station beyond the Macquarie, where a belt of open forest separated the reeds and enabled him to pass. He prevailed on a native whom he met

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with there to come with him to me, and to guide me to water until I reached the Bàrwan. This native at first seemed rather afraid of our numerous party, but our own native, Yuranigh, endeavoured by every means to make him at ease, and to induce him to remain with us. He guided us this day by fine open ground westward of the marshes, to a part of the Macquarie where the banks were solid enough to admit of the cattle drinking. The name was Bilgawàngara; I reached the spot early, but at sunset no drays had come up. At length I was informed that such was the softness of the soil, that the drays had sank frequently, that two were fast in one place, four in another, and that two of the bullocks were astray. The marshes were said to be just then occupied by some angry tribes, of whom Mr. Kinghorne had warned me to be on my guard. The patience necessary to any traveller depending on bullocks and bullock drivers, I then thought ought to exceed that of Job. Our native guide was very shy, and Yuranigh feared he meant to “bolt.” We depended on him for finding water — on our own native for finding bullocks; but it would not have done then to have sent him away. The weather might change, and these marshes become impassable; indeed, we were as much at the mercy of Providence in this respect as the Israelites were in the bed of the Red Sea. It depended on the weather whether we should deserve to be considered Jews or Egyptians. The teams came in about midnight, after the moon had risen, by which the drivers were enabled to see my track. Lat. 30° 45' 55? S. Thermometer at sunrise, 48°; at noon, 85°; at 4 P.M., 88°; at 9, 60°; — with wet bulb, 54°.

18th February. — Two bullocks were still astray

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some miles behind, and the iron axle of one of the drays having got bent, required repair. The cattle, I was told, were so jaded, as to be unable to make a day's journey without more rest, and I was again obliged to halt. One only of the two lost bullocks was found, and for this one we were indebted to little Dicky, a native only ten years of age, whom the big fool who had lost them was at some trouble to coax to go and assist him in the search, as Yuranigh could not be spared from the more important duty of entertaining our less civilised guide, and preventing him from making his escape. It must, indeed, appear strange to these people of the soil, that the white man who brought such large animals as oxen with them into the country, should be unable to find them without the assistance of a mere child of their own race. Dicky had soon found both, but one of them being young and wild, escaped again amongst the tall reeds.

In the rich soil near the river bed, we saw the yellowish flowers of the native tobacco, Nicotiana suaveoleus, the Minuria heterophylla (D.C.), found by Allan Cunningham near the Lachlan, and a Fugosia near F. digitata of Senegambia. In the scrub we found a fine new silvery Atriplex with broad rounded leaves and strings of circular toothed fruits.note Thermometer at sunrise, 53°; at noon, 93°; at 4 P.M., 96°; at 9, 67°; — with wet bulb 59°.

19th February. — We set off early, guided by our native friend. He was a very perfect specimen of the genus homo, and such as never is to be seen, except

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in the precincts of savage life, undegraded by any scale of graduated classes, and the countless bars these present to the free enjoyment of existence. His motions in walking were more graceful than can be imagined by any who have only seen those of the draped and shod animal. The deeply set yet flexible spine; the taper form of the limbs; the fulness yet perfect elasticity of the glutei muscles. The hollowness of the back, and symmetrical balance of the upper part of the torso, ornamented as it was, like a piece of fine carving, with raised scarifications most tastefully placed; such were some of the characteristics of this perfect “piece of work.” Compared with it, the civilised animal, when considered merely in the light of a specimen in natural history, how inferior! In vain might we look amongst thousands of that class, for such teeth; such digestive powers; for such organs of sight, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling; for such powers of running, climbing, or walking; for such full enjoyment of the limpid water, and of all that nature provides for her children of the woods. Such health and exemption from disease; such intensity of existence, in short, must be far beyond the enjoyments of civilised men, with all that art can do for them; and the proof of this is to be found in the failure of all attempts to persuade these free denizens of uncultivated earth to forsake it for the tilled ground. They prefer the land unbroken and free from the earliest curse pronounced against the first banished and first created man. The only kindness we could do for them, would be to let them and their wide range of territory alone; to act otherwise and profess good-will is but hypocrisy. We cannot occupy the land without producing a change,

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fully as great to the aborigines, as that which took place on man's fall and expulsion from Eden. They have hitherto lived utterly ignorant of the necessity for wearing fig leaves, or the utility of ploughs; and in this blissful state of ignorance they would, no doubt, prefer to remain. We bring upon them the punishments due to original sin, even before they know the shame of nakedness. Such were the reflections suggested to my mind by the young savage as he tripped on lightly before me by the side of his two half-civilised brethren of our party, who, muffled up in clothes, presented a contrast by no means in favour of our pretensions to improve and benefit their race. Yet our faithful Yuranigh was all that could be wished. He was assiduously making to the stranger such explanations of our wants and purposes, as induced him to conduct us in the direction these required. He led us, thus admonished, over those parts of the country most favourable for the passage of wheels. The rosewood acacia was abundant, but many parts were covered with most luxuriant grass. We encamped on the edge of a salt-bush plain, where there was a small pond of water left by the last rains on a clay surface. There was certainly enough for ourselves and horses, but it appeared that our guide had greatly underrated the capacity for water, of our hundred bullocks. For these, however, there was superb grass to the westward, and a little dew fell on it during the night. Thermometer at sunrise, 59°; at noon, 102°; at 4 P. M., 104°; at 9, 77°; — with wet bulb, 65°.

20th February. — From the necessity for obtaining water as soon as possible for the bullocks, we travelled over ground which was rather soft, otherwise our

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guide would have pursued a course more to the westward, and over a firmer surface. We, at length, crossed two narrow belts of reeds not more than twenty feet across, and had the great satisfaction to learn from him that these were the last of the reeds. A shallow creek appeared soon thereafter on our right, in which our guide had expected to find water, but was disappointed; cattle having recently drank up there, what had been a large pond when he was there formerly. He showed us the recent prints of numerous cloven feet, and thus we were made to feel, in common with the aborigines, those privations to which they are exposed by the white man's access to their country. On proceeding some miles further, our guide following down the channel, he at length appeared at a distance making the motions of stooping to bathe, on which Yuranigh immediately said “He has found plenty of water;” and there, in fact, our guide had found two large ponds. They were still in the attenuated channel of the Macquarie, here called by them Wámmerawá, the course of which river is continuous throughout the marshes; and marked by some high reeds greener than the rest, even when the reeds may have been generally burnt. These reeds are distinctly different from the “balyan,” growing on the marshy parts of the rivers Lachlan, Murrumbidgee, and Millewà; the former being a cane or bamboo, the latter a bulrush, affording, in its root, much nutritious gluten. We found good grass for the cattle on both sides of the water-course, which was fringed with a few tall reeds, near which the pretty little kochia brevifolia observed at Mudá on the Bogan, again occurred. The native name of the spot was “Warranb.” The soft earth had

  ― 68 ―
again impeded the drays; the teams of two came in at twilight, an axle of one dray having been damaged; the six others were brought up in the course of the evening. Thermometer at sunrise, 60°; at 4 P. M., 103°; at 9, 78°; — with wet bulb, 68°.

21st February. — The first thing done this morning was to send back cattle to draw forward the dray with a bent axle, to the camp, that it might be repaired. This was done so as to enable the party to continue the journey by 1 P. M. The barometer was going down at a rate which was alarming enough, considering what our position must have been there in a flood, or even after a heavy fall of rain. I therefore pressed forward with the light carts, and guided by the native. He brought us at 5 P. M. to “Willery,” the place where he had expected to find water; but here again, he had been anticipated by cattle, which had drunk up all, and trodden the ponds as dry as a market-place. He gave us no hopes of finding water that night, nor until we could reach the Bàrwan, then distant, I was quite sure, at least twenty-four miles, according to the latitude observed (30° 19' 54? South). We encamped here, and I sent back directions that the drays should at once halt, taking their places beside the leading dray, and that the cattle should be driven back in the morning to be watered at the last camp (Warranb), and then to return and follow in my track. Mr. Drysdale, the storekeeper, had also to go back to serve out a week's rations to the party with the drays, and he returned to my camp by 2 A. M., in the moonlight, bringing, on the horse of the former messenger, rations for my party. Here we found the Keraudrenia integrifolia. Thermometer

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at sunrise, 70°; at noon, 105°; at 9, 83°; — with wet bulb, 57°.

22d February. — My guide was now desirous that I should cross the Macquarie, to open plains which he represented to be much more favourable for wheel carriages; but I endeavoured to explain to him, by drawing lines in the clay surface, how the various rivers beyond would cross and impede my journey to the Bàrwan. There were the Castlereagh, Morissett's Ponds, and the Nammoy.note

An instance occurred here of the uselessness of new names, and the necessity for preserving the native names of Rivers. I could refer, in communicating with our guide, to the Nammoy only, and to the hills which partly supplied the Castlereagh, whereof the native name was Wallambangle. I wanted to make them understand the probability that some flood had come down the channel of the Castlereagh, and that we might therefore hope to find water below its junction with the Macquarie. This, with the aid of Yuranigh, our own native, was at length made intelligible to our Bàrwan guide, and he shaped his course accordingly. He took us through scrubs, having in the centre those holes where water usually lodges for some time after rain, where some substratum of clay happens to be retentive enough to impede the common absorption. But the water in these holes had been recently drunk, and the mud trampled into hard clay by the hoofs of cattle. Thus it is, that the aborigines first become sensible of the approach of the white man. These retired spots, where nature

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was wont to supply enough for their own little wants, are well known to the denizens of the bush. Each locality has a name, and such places are frequented by helpless females with their children, or by the most peaceably disposed natives with their families. There they can exist apart from belligerent tribes, such as assemble on large rivers. Cattle find these places and come from stations often many miles distant, attracted by the rich verdure usually growing about them, and by thus treading the water into mud, or by drinking it up, they literally destroy the whole country for the aborigines, and thereby also banish from it the kangaroos, emus, and other animals on which they live. I felt much more disgusted than the poor natives, while they were thus exploring in vain every hollow in search of water for our use, that our “cloven foot” should appear everywhere. The day was extremely hot, which usually happened to be the case whenever we were obliged to experience the want of water. The thermometer under a tree stood at 110°. The store-keeper was taken ill with vertigo. Our bull-dog perished in the heat, and the fate of the cattle, still a day's journey behind us, and of the sheep, which had not drunk for two days, were subjects of much anxiety to me at that time. It may, therefore, be imagined with what pleasure I at length saw before me large basins of water in the channel of the Macquarie, when I next approached the banks, after a journey at a good pace for six hours and a half. We had made it below the junction of Morissett's Ponds, and found that a recent flood had filled its channel with water. The natives dived into it to cure their headaches, as they said, and seemed to go completely under water, in order to take a cool drink.

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We had reached the united channel of the Macquarie and Morissett's Ponds, and were at an easy day's journey only distant from the junction with the Bàrwan or “Darling.” The use of the aboriginal name of this river is indispensable amongst the squatters along its banks, who do not appear to know it to be the “Darling.” It is most desirable to restore to such rivers their proper names as early as possible after they have been ascertained, were it only to enable strangers thereby to avail themselves of the intelligence and assistance of the natives, in identifying the country by means of the published maps. The river Castlereagh is known to the natives as the Barr; Morissett's Ponds, as the Wàwill; and the lower part of the Macquarie, as the Wammerawà. The squatting system of occupation requires still more that the native names of rivers should be known to commissioners empowered to parcel out unsurveyed regions of vast extent, whereof the western limits would be, indeed, beyond their reach or control, but for the line of an angry savage population, which line the squatter dares not to cross unsupported by an armed mounted police. Thermometer at sunrise, 59°; at noon, 110°; at 4 P. M., 107°; at 9, 89°; — with wet bulb 72°.

23rd February. — The drays did not come up, nor was any intelligence of them received at our camp until late in the afternoon, when a man I had sent back in the morning to tell the drivers to halt in good time to send forward the cattle by daylight along my track to the water, brought me word that he left them on the way ten miles off about eleven in the morning. This man (Smith) also brought

  ― 72 ―
forward the sheep with him. They had not drank for two nights, and ran skipping and baaing to the water, as soon as they saw it. The heat of this day and yesterday was excessive, a hot wind blowing hard all the time. Among the scrub on the banks of the Macquarie, a salt plant belonging to the genus Sclerolœna was remarked; it was perhaps not distinct from S. uniflora. The Goodenia geniculata overran the ground, with its strawberry-like runners, and yellow flowers. Latitude, 30° 12' 56? S. Thermometer at sunrise, 75°; at noon, 105°; at 4 P.M., 94°; at 9, 73°;—with wet bulb, 62°.

24th February.—Some of the teams came up, having been out all night. The drivers brought me word that they had been detached at twilight to come six miles; the night was very dark; of course they could not see my track, and as a matter equally of course, the spare bullocks had strayed from them. Such were the almost daily recurring causes of delay by the bullock drivers on this journey. Here, within a day's journey (thirteen miles) of the Bàrwan, I was compelled to halt thus several days, and really the prospect of performing so long a journey with such drivers seemed almost hopeless. Thermometer at sunrise, 59°; at noon, 80°; at 4 P.M., 85°; at 9, 64°;—with wet bulb, 59°.

25th February.—In the evening, the carpenter brought in ten of the stray bullocks; four were still wanting, and I dispatched Mortimer, a bullock driver, and the carpenter to show him where he had last left the track of the animals still astray; both were mounted. Thermometer at sunrise, 53°; at noon, 90°; at 4 P.M., 94°; at 9, 79°;—with wet bulb, 62°.

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26th February.—Mortimer came in early, saying he had found only one of the bullocks, that the others had gone back to the last watering-place twenty-two miles distant. His companion did not arrive during the day; he said he had left him bringing on the animal they had fallen in with. I blamed him for leaving him, and ordered him to find him forthwith on foot. I could not afford to lose horses. Here, it seemed, we were doomed to remain. I endeavoured to make the most of the time by carrying on the mapping of our survey, in order to make good our longitude at crossing the Bàrwan. Thermometer at sunrise, 60°; at noon, 94°; at 4 P.M., 101°; at 9, 72°;—with wet bulb, 62.°

27th February.—When the teams were about to be put to the drays this morning, I was informed that five bullocks were astray. This delayed the party until 10 A.M., and then we left one lame bullock still missing. I reduced the men's rations by one pound per week, and declared that a proportional reduction should be regularly made to correspond with such unlooked-for delays in the journey. We proceeded over firmer ground, having the river almost always in sight, until, after travelling about six miles, our guide showed me the river, much increased in width, and said they called that the “Bàrwan.” As it was still a mere chain of ponds, though these were large, I was sure this was not the main channel; he also said this joined the main channel a good way lower down. I was convinced that it was only the Castlereagh that had thus augmented the channel of the Macquarie, which I found afterwards to be the case, the junction taking place two miles higher. I willingly encamped on it, however,

  ― 74 ―
to afford more time for the lost man, and the man sent after him, to rejoin the party.

I this day gave “Yulliyàlly,” our guide, the promised tomahawk, a pipe, tobacco; and, in addition, a shirt; also a few lines to Mr. Kinghorne, certifying that this native had done what he had engaged to do. Thermometer at sunrise, 62°; at noon, 94°; at 4 P.M., 97°; at 9, 70°;—with wet bulb, 57°.

28th February.—The wheelwright and Mortimer came into the camp at 6 A.M., bringing back the horse of the former, and one of the lost bullocks. We set out early, and after travelling about six miles I came upon a cart-track, which I followed to the westward until overtaken by a stockman, who informed me that the Wammerawà, on which I had been encamped, joined the Bàrwan, then on my right, within two miles of the spot on which we stood; that he belonged to the cattle station of Mr. Parnell, Jun., which was distant from my last camp about five miles, and on the main river; also that the track I was following led to Mohanna, Mr. Lawson's station, seventy-five miles lower down the Bàrwan. I turned with him towards the junction of the Macquarie and Bàrwan, and encamped thereby, right glad to reach at length, the river beyond which our exploratory tour was to commence. The river looked well, with a good current of muddy water in it, of considerable width, and really like a river. I understood from my guide to this point, that there was a good ford across the river at his station; also that Commissioner Mitchell had been down the river a short time back, making a map to show all the cattle stations on both banks. We had neither seen nor heard anything of Mr. Wright, the commissioner of the Macquarie

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district through which we had just passed, except that he “might visit the district when the hot weather was over.” Here we found a new species of Calotis.note Thermometer at sunrise, 61°; at noon, 101°; at 4 P.M., 100°; at 9, 76°;—with wet bulb, 62°.

1st March.—When, fifteen years before, I visited this river at a higher point where it was called the Karaulanote, no trace of hoofs of horses or bullocks had been previously imprinted on the clayey banks. Now, we found it to be the last resource of numerous herds in a dry and very hot season, and so thickly studded were the banks of this river with cattle stations, that we felt comparatively at home. The ordinary precautionary arrangements of my camp against surprise by savage natives seemed quite unnecessary, and, to stockmen, almost ridiculous. We had at length arrived at the lowest drain of that vast basin of clay absorbing many rivers, so that they lose themselves as in the ocean. Here the final outlet or channel of the waters of the Macquarie, was but a muddy ditch one might step across, which the magnificent flood we had seen in the same river above the marshes was not at all likely to reach. That flood had gone to fill thousands of lagoons, without which supply, those vast regions had been unfit for animal existence.

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Here we discover another instance of that wonderful wisdom which becomes more and more apparent to man, when he either looks as far as he can into space, or attentively examines the arrangement of any matter more accessible to him. The very slight inclination of the surface of these extensive plains seems finely adapted to the extremely dry and warm climate over this part of the earth. If the interior slope of the land from the eastern coast-ranges were as great as that in other countries supplying rivers of sustained current, it is obvious that no water would remain in such inclined channels here; but the slope is so gentle that the waters spread into a net-work of reservoirs, that serve to irrigate vast plains, and fill lagoons with those floods that, when confined in any one continuous channel, would at once run off into the ocean.

In a wet season, the country through which we had traced out a route with our wheels had been impassable. The direction I should have preferred, and in which I had endeavoured to proceed, was along the known limits of this basin, and formed a curved line, or an arc, to which the route necessity had obliged us to follow was the chord; thus we had not lost time; but had, in fact, shortened the distance to be travelled over very considerably. A permanent route had, however, seemed to me more desirable to any country we might discover, than one liable to be interrupted by flooded rivers and soft impassable ground. The track of our drays, along the western side of the Macquarie marshes opened a new and direct route from Sydney to the banks of the river Darling, by way of Bathurst; and afforded access to a vast extent of excellent pasturage on the Macquarie,

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along the western margin of the marshes, which land would, no doubt, be soon taken up by squatters. In so dry a climate, and where water is so frequently scarce, it may, indeed, be found that the shortest line of route with such advantages would be more frequented than any longer line, possessing only the remote advantage of security from interruption by too much water. Thermometer at sunrise, 64°; at noon, 100°; at 4 P.M., 101°; at 9, 81°; with wet bulb, 61°.

2nd March—Monday. I took a ride to examine the ford at Wyàbry, (Mr. Parnell, Jun.'s station,) which I found practicable for our drays, although, for their descent and ascent, it was necessary to cut better approaches on each side. The Macquarie, although the channel was so attenuated and ditch-like, was likely to prove also an obstacle without some work of the same kind. Accordingly, on my return to the camp, I sent some men to the last-mentioned work.

I learnt from natives whom I met at Mr. Parnell's station, that the rivers Bolloon, Culgoa, and Biree were then flowing, some abundant rains having fallen about their sources. Also, from the stockman, that the Narran was thirty-five miles distant, but that a native could be found to guide me to water only ten miles off. Water was also to be obtained at a distance of only seven miles beyond the Bàrwan there at the “Morella Ridges,” to which the natives were in the habit of resorting at certain seasons, by a path of their own, to gather a fruit of which they were very fond, named by them “Moguile,” and which I had previously ascertained to be that formerly discovered by me, and named by Dr.

  ― 78 ―
Lindley Capparis Mitchellii.note We found back from this camp the Rutidosis helychrysoides of De Candolle. Thermometer at sunrise, 72°; at noon, 101°; at 4 P.M.; 100°; at 9, 78°; and with wet bulb, 62°.

3d March.—Early this morning a party of men were sent to cut better approaches to the ford across the Bàrwan at Mr. Parnell's station. Ascertained the longitude of the junction of the rivers Macquarie and Darling at our present camp to be 147° 33' 45? E., by actual measurements connected with my former surveys of the colony. Mr. Kennedy had chained the whole of the route from Bellaringa, and I had connected his work with latitudes observed at almost every encampment, and after determining at various points the magnetic variation, which appeared to be very steady, I made the latitude of this camp 30° 6' 11? south. Thermometer at sunrise, 72°; at noon, 99°; at 4 P.M., 97°; at 9, 72°; and with wet bulb, 65°. The height above the sea level of the bed of the river here, the average result of eight observations, as calculated by Capt. King, was 415 feet.

4th March.—The party moved off towards the ford over the Bàrwan at Wyàbry, crossing the bed of the Macquarie about half a mile above its junction with the Bàrwan; there, although the approaches had been well enough cut, we found the bottom too soft for our heavy vehicles, one of which dipped its wheel to near the axle. We were obliged to pave the soft and muddy bed with logs, and to cover these with branches, on which earth was thrown, ere the rest could be got across. The party arrived about noon at Wyàbry, and by 2 P.M. the whole was safely encamped on the right bank of the Bàrwan.

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I had received this morning a dispatch from my son, commissioner of this district, in which he gave me a most favourable account of several rivers he had explored in the direction of my proposed route. These dispatches came to me at the last camp by the hands of a native, in forty-four hours after the superintendent of Mr. Lawson, being then on his way down the river, had promised to send them to me, from a station forty-five miles off, towards Fort Bourke, where it had been supposed my party would pass. Lat. of this camp, 30° 5' 41? S. On this northern bank of the Darling we looked for novelty in botany, and found some interesting plants, such as a toothed variety of Senerio brachylœnus D. C., a kind of groundsel; Morgania floribunda, loaded with purple blossoms, and a variety of Helichrysum bracteatum, somewhat different in the leaves from the usual state of the species. Thermometer at sunrise, 70°; at 4 P.M., 98°; at 9, 72°;—with wet bulb, 61°.