Chapter I.

A Bushranger's story—My plan of exploration—Preparations—Departure from Sydney—A garden—Country between Sydney and the Hawkesbury— beyond the Hawkesbury—Summit of Warrawolong—Natives of Brisbane Water—The Wollombi—Valley of the Hunter—Fossils of the Hunter— Men employed on the expedition—Equipment—Burning grass—Aborigines and Colonists—“Cambo,” a wild native—A Colonist of the right sort— Escape of the Bushranger, “the Barber”—Burning hill of “Wingen”— Approach Liverpool Range—Cross it—A sick tribe—Interior waters— Liverpool Plains—Proposed route—Horses astray—A squatter—Native guide and his gin—Modes of drinking au naturel—Woods on fire—Cross the Turi Range—Arrive on the River Peel—Fishes—Another native guide —Explore the Peel.

THE journey northward in 1831, originated in one of those fabulous tales, which occasionally become current in the colony of New South Wales, respecting the interior country, still unexplored.

A runaway convict, named George Clarke, alias “the Barber,” had, for a length of time, escaped the vigilance of the police, by disguising himself as an  aboriginal next hit native. He had even accustomed himself to the wretched life of that unfortunate race of men; he was deeply scarified like them, and naked and painted black, he went about with a tribe, being usually attended by two previous hit aboriginal next hit females, and having acquired some knowledge of their language and customs.

But this degenerate “white man” was not content with the solitary freedom of the savage life, and his escape from a state of servitude. He had assumed the cloke and colour

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of the savage, that he might approach the dwellings of the colonists, and steal with less danger of detection. In conjunction with the simple aborigines whom he misled, and with several other runaway convicts, he had organized a system of cattle stealing, which was coming into extensive operation on Liverpool plains, when, through the aid of some of the natives, who have in general assisted the detection of bushrangers, he was at length discovered and captured by the police.

After this man was taken into custody, he gave a circumstantial detail of his travels to the north-west, along the bank of a large river, named, as he said, the “Kindur;” by following which in a south-west direction, he had twice reached the sea shore. He described the tribes inhabiting the banks of the “Kindur,” and gave the names of their chiefs. He said that he had first crossed vast plains named “Balyràn,” and, on approaching the sea, he had seen a burning mountain named “Courada.” He described, with great apparent accuracy, the courses of the known streams of the northern interior, which united, as he stated, in the “Nammoy,” a river first mentioned by him; and, according to his testimony, Peel's river entered the “Nammoy,” by flowing westward from where Mr. Oxley had crossed it.

Now this was contrary to the course assigned to the Peel in the maps by early travellers, but consistent, nevertheless, with more recent surveys. Vague accounts of “a great river beyond Liverpool plains,” flowing north-west, were current, about the time General Darling embarked for England. The attention of the acting governor, Colonel Lindesay, was particularly drawn to the question by this report of Clarke, and also by the subsequent proposals of various persons, to conduct any expedition sent in search of the “great river.”

There are few undertakings more attractive to the votaries of fame or lovers of adventure, than the exploration of unknown regions; but Sir Patrick Lindesay, with due regard to the responsibility which my office seemed to impose upon

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me, as successor to Mr. Oxley, at once accepted my proffered services to conduct a party into the interior.

The principal object of my plan was the exploration of Australia, so that whether the report of the river proved true or false, the results of the expedition would be, at least, useful, in affording so much additional information; equally important geographically, whether positive or negative.

After I had surveyed extensive tracts of territory, I never could separate the question respecting the course of any river, from that of the situation of the higher land necessary to furnish its sources and confine its basin. I could not entertain the idea of a river distinct from these conditions, so necessary to the existence of one—and it appeared to me that if a large river flowed to the north-west of any point north of Liverpool plains—its sources could only be sought for in the Coast Range in the opposite direction; or to the eastward of these plains.

Various rivers were known to arise on that side of the Coast Range; the streams from Liverpool plains flowing northward; the Peel, the Gwydir, and the Dumaresq, arising in the Coast Range, and falling, as had been represented, to the north-westward. I proposed, therefore, to proceed northward, or to pursue such a direction as well as the nature of the country permitted, so that I might arrive, on the most northern of these streams, and then, keeping in view whatever high land might be visible near its northern banks, to trace the river's course downwards, and thus to arrive at the “large river,” or common channel of all these waters.

The second condition necessary to the existence of a river, namely, the higher land enclosing its basin, might, in this case, have been either Arbuthnot's Range, or that between the Darling and the Lachlan; and this seemed to me to involve a question of at least equal importance to that of the river itself, for, had the fall of all the waters above mentioned, been to the north-west, it was obvious that such a range

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must have been the dividing ridge or spine connecting the eastern and western parts of Australia, and which, when once investigated was likely to be the key to the discovery of all the rivers on each side, and to the other subordinate features of this great island.

Thus, the most direct and practical plan for seeking the river, was perfectly consistent with my views of general exploration.

In the selection of men to compose an exploring party, and in collecting the articles of equipment, provisions, and means of transport, my department afforded various facilities. This aid was the more necessary in my case, because the other duties of my office, prevented me from devoting much attention personally, to the preparations for such a journey.

From the known level character of the interior, I considered that the light drays or carts used by the surveyors might easily pass, and I, therefore, preferred them to pack horses, being also a more convenient means of conveyance; I availed myself likewise of such men, carts, bullocks, and horses, as were disposable in the survey department at the time. The new Governor was expected in the course of a few months, and I was, therefore, desirous to set out as soon as possible, that I might return before his arrival.

After several weeks of anxious preparation, I had the satisfaction to find that every contingency was, as far as possible, provided for in my department. Each officer, whether employed in the survey of the different parts of the colony, or the measurement of farms, was also fully instructed respecting his duties during my contemplated absence. In the correspondence with the office at Sydney, which amounted annually to about 2000 letters, none remained unanswered; and my last cares were to leave, in the hands of an engraver, a map of the colony, that the past labours of the department might be permanently secured to the public, whatever might be our fate in the interior.

Little time remained for me to look at the sextants, theodolite,

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and other instruments necessary for the exploratory journey; I collected in haste a few articles of personal equipment, and having as well as I could, under the circumstances, set my house in order, I bade adieu to my family, and left Sydney at noon, on Thursday, the 24th day of November, 1831, being accompanied for some miles by my friend Colonel Snodgrass.

It was not until then, that my mind was sufficiently relieved from considering the details of my department, to enable me to direct my thoughts to the undiscovered country. I had yet to traverse 300 miles, for to that distance from Sydney the flocks of the colonists extended, before I could reach the vast untrodden soil, the exploration of which was the object of my mission. I felt the ardour of my early youth, when I first sought distinction in the crowded camp and battle-field, revive, as I gave loose to my reflections and considered the nature of the enterprise. But, in comparing the feelings I then experienced with those which excited my youthful ambition, it seemed that even war and victory, with all their glory, were far less alluring than the pursuit of researches such as these; the objects of which were to spread the light of civilization over a portion of the globe yet unknown, though rich, perhaps, in the luxuriance of uncultivated nature, and where science might accomplish new and unthought-of discoveries; while intelligent man would find a region teeming with useful vegetation, abounding with rivers, hills, and vallies, and waiting only for his enterprising spirit and improving hand to turn to account the native bounty of the soil.

My first day's journey, terminated near Paramatta, at the residence of Mr. John Macarthur. I was received by that gentleman with his usual hospitality, and although not in the enjoyment of the best health, he insisted on accompanying me over his extensive and beautiful garden, where he pointed out to my attention, the first olive-tree ever planted in Australia. Here I also saw the cork-tree in full

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luxuriance—the caper plant growing amidst rocks—the English oak—the horse-chesnut—broom—magnificent mulberry trees of thirty-five years' growth, umbrageous and green. Beds of roses, in great variety, were spread around, and filled the air with fragrance, while the climbing species of that beautiful flower was equally pleasing to the eye. I observed convict Greeksnote—“acti fatis”—at work in that garden of the antipodes, training the vines to trellices, made after the fashion of those in the Peloponnesus. The state of the orange-trees, flourishing in the form of cones sixteen feet high, and loaded with fruit, was very remarkable, but they had risen from the roots of former trees, which, having been reduced to bare poles by a drought of three years' duration, had been cut off, and were now succeeded by these vigorous products of more genial seasons. Mr. Macarthur assured me, that by adopting this plan, many fruit-trees, after suffering from the effects of long-continued drought, might be renovated successfully. The want of moisture in the climate of Australia, may occasionally compel the gardener to resort to such extreme measures for the preservation of his trees: but the orange has hitherto yielded a very profitable and constant return to those, who have attended to its cultivation in this colony. The luxuriant growth of the apple and pear, in a climate so dry and warm, is a remarkable fact; and when we consider the exuberance of the vine in the few spots, where it has as yet been planted; we are justified in anticipating from the variety of aspect and unbroken soil in these southern regions, that many a curious or luxurious wine, still unknown, may in time be produced there.

But the garden, to him who seeks a home in distant colonies, must ever be an object of peculiar interest; for there, while cultivating the trees, fruits and flowers of his native land, the recollection of early days, and of the country of his birth is awakened by the vivid colours of the simple flower

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which his industry has reared, and which he knows to be a native of the soil to which he himself owes his existence.

At an early hour on the following morning, I took leave of my kind host, and also of my friend Mr. Dunlop, to whose scientific assistance in preparing for this journey, I feel much indebted. Mr. James Macarthur accompanied me a few miles on the road, when we parted with regret; and I set forth on my journey in the direction of the Hawkesbury, along the road leading to the ferry, across that river at Wiseman's. I should here observe, that I had previously arranged that the exploring party, which, being slower in its movements, had been dispatched two weeks before, should await my arrival on Foy Brook, beyond the river Hunter, where I expected to meet Mr. White also, the assistant surveyor, whom I had selected to accompany me on this expedition.

My ride, on that day, was along a ridge, which extended upwards of fifty miles, through a succession of deep ravines, where no objects met the eye except barren sandstone rocks, and stunted trees. With the banksia and xanthorhœa always in sight, the idea of hopeless sterility is ever present to the mind, for these productions, in sandy soils at least, grow only where nothing else can vegetate. The horizon is flat, affording no relief to the eye from the dreary and inhospitable scene, which these solitudes present; and which extends over a great portion of the country, uninhabitable even by the aborigines. Yet here the patient labours of the surveyor have opened a road, although the stream of population must be confined to it, since it cannot spread over a region so utterly unprofitable and worthless.

It is not until the traveller has completed a journey of fifty miles, that he enjoys the sight, doubly cheering after crossing such a desert, of green, cultivated fields, and the dwellings of man. The broad waters of the Hawkesbury then come unexpectedly in view, flowing in the deepest, and apparently most inaccessible of these rock-bound vallies. He

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here soon discovers a practical proof of the advantages of convict labour to the inhabitants of such a country, in the facility with which he descends by a road cut in the rock, to the comfortable inn near the ferry.

Early next morning my ride was resumed, after crossing the river in the ferry-boat, where the width is 280 yards. The Hawkesbury is here the boundary between the counties of Cumberland and Northumberland. The scenery is fine on those broad and placid waters, sheltered by over-hanging cliffs, 600 feet in height. The river appears smooth as a mirror, and affords access by boats and small vessels, to the little sheltered cots and farms, which now enliven the margin. These patches are of no great extent, and occur alternately on each bank of this noble stream, comprising farms of from thirty to a hundred acres.

The necessity for a permanent land communication, between the seat of government and the northern part of the colony was obvious, and, indeed, a road in that direction had been the subject of petitions from the settlers to Sir Thomas Brisbane, under whose auspices the track across the mountain beyond the Hawkesbury, was first discovered and surveyed by Mr. Finch. This track, with some slight alterations, was found, on a more general survey, to be the most favourable line for a cart-road in that direction, which the country afforded; and it had been opened but a short time, when I thus proceeded along it, accompanied by Mr. Simpson, the assistant-surveyor, who, under my direction, had accomplished the work. Just then, however, the first steam vessel arrived in Australia, and afforded a regular coast-communication between Sydney and the northern portion of the colony. The land communication became, in consequence, an object of less importance than before, to the small handful of settlers at least, although it was not the less essential to a respectable government, or where an armed force had been organized, as in New South Wales, solely for the suppression of bushrangers, a sub-genus in the order

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banditti, which, happily, can no longer exist, except in places inaccessible to the mounted police. The ascent northward from this ferry on the Hawkesbury, is a substantial and permanent work, affording a favourable specimen of the value of convict labour, in anticipating the wants of an increasing population.

The country traversed by this new road is equally barren, and more mountainous than the district between Paramatta and the Hawkesbury. Amid those rocky heights and depths, across which I had recently toiled on foot, marking out with no ordinary labour, the intended line, I had now the satisfaction to trot over a new and level road, winding like a thread through the dreary labyrinth before me, and in which various parts had already acquired a local appellation not wholly unsuited to their character, such as “Hungry Flat,” “Devil's Backbone,” “No-grass Valley,”note and “Dennis's Dog-kennel.” In fact, the whole face of the country is composed of sandstone rock, and but partially covered with vegetation. The horizon is only broken by one or two summits, which are different both in outline and quality from the surrounding country. These isolated heights generally consist of trap-rock, and are covered with rich soil and very heavy timber. The most remarkable is Warrawolong—whose top I first observed from the hill of Jellore in the south, at the distance of 108 miles. This being a most important station for the general survey, which I made previously to opening the northern road, it was desirable to clear the summit, at least partly, of trees, a work which was accomplished after considerable labour—the trees having been very large. On removing the lofty forest, I found the view from that summit extended over a wild waste of rocky precipitous ravines, which debarred all access or passage in any direction, until I could patiently trace out the ridges between them, and for this

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purpose I ascended that hill on ten successive days, the whole of which time I devoted to the examination of the various outlines and their connections, by means of the theodolite.

Looking northward, an intermediate and lower range concealed from view the valley of the Hunter, but the summits of the Liverpool range appeared beyond it. On turning to the eastward, my view extended to the unpeopled shores and lonely waters of the vast Pacific. Not a trace of man, or of his existence, was visible on any side, except a distant solitary column of smoke, that arose from a thicket between the hill on which I stood and the coast, and marked the asylum of a remnant of the aborigines. These unfortunate creatures could no longer enjoy their solitary freedom; for the dominion of the white man surrounded them. His sheep and cattle filled the green pastures where the kangaroo (the principal food of the natives) was accustomed to range, until the stranger came from distant lands and claimed the soil. Thus these first inhabitants, hemmed in by the power of the white population, and deprived of the liberty which they formerly enjoyed of wandering at will through their native wilds, were compelled to seek a precarious shelter amidst the close thickets and rocky fastnesses which afforded them a temporary home, but scarcely a subsistence, for their chief support, the kangaroo, was either destroyed or banished. I knew this unhappy tribe, and had frequently met them in their haunts. In the prosecution of my surveys I was enabled to explore the wildest recesses of these deep mountainous ravines, guided occasionally by one or two of their number. I felt no hesitation in venturing amongst them, for, to me, they appeared a harmless unoffending race.note On many a dark night, and even during rainy weather, I have proceeded on horseback amongst these steep and rocky ranges, my path being guided by two young boys belonging to the tribe, who ran cheerfully before my horse, alternately tearing off the

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stringy bark which served for torches, and setting fire to the grass trees (xanthorhœa) to light my way.

This can scarcely be considered a digression from my narrative of this day's journey, for Warrawolong was the only object visible, beyond the woody horizon. We had passed No-Grass Valley, the Devil's Backbone, and were approaching Hungry Flat, when Mr. Simpson produced a grilled fowl, and a feed for our horses—and we alighted most willingly for half an hour, to partake of this timely refreshment, near a spring.

On re-mounting, I bade Mr. Simpson farewell, after expressing my satisfaction with his clever arrangements for opening this mountain road, a work which he had accomplished with small means, in nine months.

It was quite dark on the evening of the 26th, before I reached the inn near the head of the little valley of the Wollombi, a tributary to the river Hunter. Here, at length, we again find some soil fit for cultivation, and the whole of it has been taken up in farms. But the pasturage afforded by the numerous vallies on this side of the mountains, here called “cattle runs,” is more profitable to the owners of the farms, than the farms they actually possess, of which the produce by cultivation is only available to them at present, as the means of supporting grazing establishments. I should here observe, that in a climate so dry as that of Australia, the selection of farm land depends solely on the direction of streams, for it is only in the beds of water-courses, that any ponds can be found during dry seasons. The formation of reservoirs has not yet been resorted to, although the accidental largeness of ponds left in such channels has frequently determined settlers in their choice of a homestead, when by a little labour, a pond equally good might have been made in other parts, which few would select from the want of water. In the rocky gullies, that I had passed in these mountains, there was, probably, a sufficiency, but there was no land fit for the purposes of farming. In other situations, on the contrary, there might

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be found abundance of good soil, considered unavailable for any purpose except grazing, because it had no “frontage” (as it is termed), on a river or chain of ponds. Selections have been frequently made of farms, which have thus excluded extensive tracts behind them from the water, and these remaining consequently unoccupied, have continued accessible only to the sheep or cattle of the possessor of the water frontage.

In these vallies of the Upper Wollombi, we find little breadth of alluvial soil, but a never-failing supply of water has already attracted settlers to its banks—and those small farmers who live on a field or two of maize and potatoes— and who are the only beginning of an agricultural population, yet apparent, in New South Wales—shew a disposition to nestle in any available corner there. But on the lower portion of the Wollombi, where the valley widens, and water becomes less abundant, the soil being sandy, I found it impossible to locate some veterans on small farms, which I had marked out for them, because it was known that in dry seasons, although each farm had frontage on the Wollombi Brook, very few ponds remained in that part of its channel.

Nov. 27.—Early this morning, I had a visit from Mr. Finch, who was very anxious that I should attach him to the exploring party. As I foresaw, that some delay might occur in procuring provisions, without his assistance, in this district, I accepted his services, and gave him his instructions, conditionally. I met Mr. White at the junction of the Ellalong, and we proceeded together, down the valley of the Wollombi.

The sandstone terminates in cliffs on the right bank of this stream near the projected village of Broke, (named by me in honour of that meritorious officer, Sir Charles Broke Vere, Bart.) but the left bank is overlooked by other rocky extremities falling from the ranges on the west, until it reaches the main stream. The most conspicuous of these headlands, as they appear from that of “Mattawee” behind

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the village of Broke, is called “Wambo.” This consists of a dark mottled trap with crystals of felspar. But the most remarkable feature in this extensive valley, is the termination thereupon of the sandstone formation which renders barren so large a proportion of the surface of New South Wales. This, in many parts, resembles what was formerly called the iron-sand of England, where it occurs both as a fresh and salt water formation. The mountains northward of this valley of the Hunter consist chiefly of trap-rock, the lower country being open, and lightly wooded. The river, although occasionally stagnant, contains a permanent supply of water, and consequently the whole of the land on its banks, is favourable for the location of settlers, and accordingly has been all taken up. The country, and especially the hills beyond the left bank, affords excellent pasturage for sheep, as many large and thriving establishments testify. At one of this description, belonging to Mr. Blaxland, and which is situated on the bank of the Lower Wollombi, Mr. White and I arrived towards evening, and passed the night.

Nov. 28.—We left the hospitable station of Mr. Blaxland at an early hour, and proceeded on our way to join the party. We found the country across which we rode, very much parched from the want of rain. The grass was every where yellow, or burnt up, and in many parts on fire, so that the smoke which arose from it obscured the sun, and added sensibly to the heat of the atmosphere.

We lost ourselves, and, consequently, a good portion of the day, from having rode too carelessly through the forest country, while engaged in conversation respecting the intended journey. We, nevertheless, reached the place of rendezvous on Foy Brook long before night, and I encamped on a spot, where the whole party was to join me in the morning. Mr. White left me here for the purpose of making some arrangements at home, and respecting the supplies which I had calculated on obtaining in this part of the country.

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During the day's route, we traversed the valley of the river Hunter, an extensive tract of country, different from that mountainous region from which I had descended, inasmuch as it consists of low undulating land, thinly wooded, and bearing, in most parts, a good crop of grass.

Portions of the surface near Mr. Blaxland's establishment, bore that peculiar, undulating character which appears in the southern districts, where it closely resembles furrows, and is termed “ploughed ground.” This appearance usually indicates a good soil, which is either of a red or very dark colour, and in which small portions of trap-rock, but more frequently concretions of indurated marl, are found. Coal appears in the bed and banks of the Wollombi, near Mr. Blaxland's station, and at no great distance from his farm is a salt spring, also in the bed of this brook. The waters in the lesser tributaries, on the north bank of the river Hunter, become brackish when the current ceases. In that part of the bed of this river, which is nearest to the Wollombi (or to “Wambo” rather), I found an augitic rock, consisting of a mixture of felspar and augite. Silicified fossil wood of a coniferous tree, is found abundantly in the plains, and in rounded pebbles in the banks and bed of the river, also chalcedony and compact brown hæmatite. A hill of some height on the right bank, situate twenty-six miles from the sea shore, is composed chiefly of a volcanic grit of greenish grey colour, consisting principally of felspar, and being in some parts slightly, in other parts highly calcareous when the rock assumes a compact aspect. This deposit contains numerous fossil shells, consisting chiefly of four distinct species of a new genus, nearest to hippopodium; also a new species of trochus; atrypa glabra, and spirifer, a shell occurring also in older limestones of England.note

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Amongst these remains was also found embedded a very perfect specimen of fossil wood. I may add, that in the bed of the Glindon Brook, which flows from the left bank of the Hunter, rocks of argillaceous limestone are found in large round boulders, some of which are more than 15 feet in diameter.note

Nov. 29.—The whole equipment came up at half-past nine, whereupon I distributed such articles as were necessary to complete the organization of the party, and the day was passed in making various arrangements for the better regulation of our proceedings, both on encamping and in travelling. I obtained from Assistant-Surveyor Dixon, then employed in this neighbourhood, some account of Liverpool Plains—this officer having surveyed the ranges which separate these interior regions from the appropriated lands of the colony. The heat of this day was exceedingly oppressive, the thermometer having been as high as 100° in the shade, but after a thunder-shower it fell to 88°.

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Nov. 30.—At length I had the satisfaction to see my party move forward in exploring order; it consisted of the following persons, viz.:—

Alexander Burnett,  Carpenters
Robert Whiting, 
William Woods,  Sailors
John Palmer, 
Thomas Jones, 
William Worthington, 
James Souter,  Medical Assistant
Robert Muirhead,  Bullock-Drivers
Daniel Delaney, 
James Foreham, 
Joseph Jones,  Groom
Stephen Bombelli,  Blacksmith
Timothy Cussack,  Surveyor's Man
Anthony Brown,  Servant to me
Henry Dawkins,  Servant to Mr. White

These were the best men I could find. All were ready to face fire or water, in hopes of regaining by desperate exploits, a portion, at least, of that liberty which had been forfeited to the laws of their country. This was always a favourite service with the best disposed of the convict prisoners, for in the event of their meriting, by their good conduct, a favourable report on my return, the government was likely to grant them some indulgence. I chose these men either from the characters they bore, or according to their trade or particular qualifications: thus,

Burnett was the son of a respectable house-carpenter on the banks of the Tweed, where he had been too fond of shooting game, his only cause of “trouble.”

Whiting, a Londoner, had been a soldier in the Guards.

Woods had been found useful in the department as a surveyor's man; in which capacity he first came under my notice, after he had been long employed as a boatman in

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the survey of the coast, and having become, in consequence, ill from scurvy, he made application to me to be employed on shore. The justness of his request, and the services he had performed, prepossessed me in his favour, and I never afterwards had occasion to change my good opinion of him.

John Palmer was a sailmaker as well as a sailor, and both he and Jones had been on board a man-of-war, and were very handy fellows.

Worthington was a strong youth, recently arrived from Nottingham. He was nicknamed by his comrades “Five o'Clock,” from his having, on the outset of the journey, disturbed them by insisting that the hour was five o'clock soon after midnight, from his eagerness to be ready in time in the morning.

I never saw Souter's diploma, but his experience and skill in surgery were sufficient to satisfy us, and to acquire for him from the men the appellation of “Doctor.”

Robert Muirhead had been a soldier in India, and banished, for some mutiny, to New South Wales; where his steady conduct had obtained for him an excellent character.

Delaney and Foreham were experienced men in driving cattle.

Joseph Jones, originally a London groom, I had always found intelligent and trust-worthy.

Bombelli could shoe horses, and was afterwards transferred to my service by Mr. Sempill in lieu of a very turbulent character, whom I left behind, and who declared it to be his firm determination to be hanged.

Cussack had been a bog surveyor in Ireland; he was an honest creature, but had got somehow implicated in a charge of administering unlawful oaths.

Brown had been a soldier, and subsequently was assistant coachman to the Marquis of—, and

Dawkins was an old tar—in whom Mr. White, himself formerly an officer in the Indian navy, placed much confidence.

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Thus it had been my study, in organizing this party, to combine proved men of both services with some neat-handed mechanics, as engineers, and it now formed a respectable body of men, for the purpose for which it was required.

Our materiel consisted of eight muskets, six pistols; and our small stock of ammunition, including a box containing sky-rockets, was carried on one of the covered carts.

Of these tilted carts we had two, so constructed that they could be drawn either by one or two horses. They were also so light, that they could be moved across difficult passes by the men alone. Three stronger carts or drays were loaded with our stock of provisions, consisting of flour, pork (which had been boned in order to diminish the bulk as much as possible), tea, tobacco, sugar and soap. We had, besides, a sufficient number of pack saddles for the draught animals, that, in case of necessity, we might be able to carry forward the loads by such means. Several pack-horses were also attached to the party. I had been induced to prefer wheel carriages for an exploratory journey—1st, From the level nature of the interior country; 2ndly, From the greater facility and certainty they afforded of starting early, and as the necessity for laying all our stores in separate loads on animals' backs could thus be avoided. The latter method being further exposed to interruptions on the way—by the derangement of loads—or galling the animals' backs—one inexperienced man being thus likely to impede the progress of the whole party.

For the navigation or passage of rivers, two portable boats of canvass, had been prepared by Mr. Eager, of the King's dockyard at Sydney. We carried the canvass only, with models of the ribs—and tools, having carpenters who could complete them, as occasions required.

Our hour for encamping, when circumstances permitted, was to be two P. M., as affording time for the cattle to feed and rest, but this depended on our finding water and grass. Day-break was to be the signal for preparing for the journey,

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and no time was allowed for breakfast, until after the party had encamped for the day.

As we proceeded along the road leading to the pass in the Liverpool range, Mr. White overtook us, having obtained an additional supply of flour, tobacco, tea and sugar, with which Mr. Finch was to follow the party as soon as he could procure the carts and bullocks necessary for the carriage of these stores.

After travelling six hours, we encamped beside a small water-course near Muscle Brook, the thermometer at four P. M. being as high as 95°. In the evening, the burning grass became rather alarming, especially as we had a small stock of ammunition in one of the carts. I had established our camp to the windward of the burning grass, but I soon discovered that the progress of the fire was against the wind, especially where the grass was highest. This may appear strange, but it is easily accounted for. The extremities of the stalks bending from the wind, are the first to catch the flame, but as they become successively ignited, the fire runs directly to the windward, which is toward the lower end of the spikes of grass, and catching the extremities of other stalks still further in the direction of the wind, it travels in a similar manner along them. We managed to extinguish the burning grass before it reached our encampment, but to prevent the invasion of such a dangerous enemy we took the precaution, on other occasions, of burning a sufficient space around our tents in situations where we were exposed to like inconvenience and danger.

Dec. 1, Six A. M.—The thermometer at 82°. As the party proceeded, the sky became overcast, and the absence of the sun made the day much more agreeable. Towards noon we had rain and thunder, and this weather continued until we reached the banks of the Hunter. We forded the river where the stream was considerable at the time, and then encamped on the left bank. The draught animals appeared less fatigued by this journey, than they had been by that of

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the former day, owing probably to the refreshing moisture and cooler air. After the tents had been pitched, a fine invigorating breeze arose, and the weather cleared up. Segenhoe, the extensive estate of Potter Macqueen, Esq. was not far distant, and Mr. Sempill the agent, called at my tent, and afforded me some aid in completing my arrangements.

I was very anxious to obtain the assistance of an previous hit aboriginal next hit guide, but the natives had almost all disappeared from the valley of the Hunter; and those who still linger near their ancient haunts, are sometimes met with, about such large establishments as Segenhoe, where, it may be presumed, they meet with kind treatment. Their reckless gaiety of manner; intelligence respecting the country, expressed in a laughable inversion of slang words; their dexterity, and skill in the use of their weapons; and above all, their few wants, generally ensure them that look of welcome,note without which these rovers of the wild will seldom visit a farm or cattle station. Among those, who have become sufficiently acquainted with us, to be sensible of that happy state of security, enjoyed by all men under the protection of our laws, the conduct is strikingly different from that of the natives who remain in a savage state. The latter are named “myalls,” by their half civilized brethren—who, indeed, hold them so much in dread, that it is seldom possible to prevail on any one to accompany a traveller far into the unexplored parts of the country. At Segenhoe, on a former occasion, I met with a native but recently arrived from the wilds. His terror and suspicion, when required to stand steadily before me, while I drew his portrait, were such, that, notwithstanding the power of disguising fear, so remarkable in the savage race, the stout heart of Cambo was overcome, and beat visibly;—the perspiration streamed from his breast, and he was about to sink to the ground, when he at length suddenly darted from my presence; but he speedily returned, bearing in one hand

  ― 21 ―
his club, and in the other his bommereng, with which he seemed to acquire just fortitude enough, to be able to stand on his legs, until I finished the sketch. (See Frontispiece, Pl. 1.)

Dec 2.—The party moved off at seven, and passing, soon after, near the farm of an old man, whom I had assisted some years before, in the selection of his land, I rode to see him, accompanied by Mr. White. He was busy with his harvest, but left the top of his wheat-stack on seeing me, and running up, cordially welcomed us to his dwelling. A real scotch bonnet covered the brow of a face which reminded me, by its characteristic carving, of the “land of the mountain and the flood.” The analogy between the respective features, was at least so strong in my mind, and the sight of the one was so associated with the idea of the other, that had I seen this face on a stranger, in a still more distant corner of the earth—it must have called to mind the hills of my native land. The old man was very deaf, but in spite of age and this infirmity, his sharp blue eye expressed the enduring vigour of his mind. He had buried his wife in Scotland, and had left there a numerous family, that he might become its pioneer at the antipodes. He had thus far worked his way successfully, and was beginning to reap the fruits of his adventurous industry. Sleek cattle filled his stock-yard, his fields waved with ripe grain, and I had the satisfaction of learning from him, that he had written for his family, and that he soon expected their arrival in the colony. He immediately gave grain to our horses, and placed before us new milk; and, what we found a still greater luxury, pure water from the running burnie close by; also a bottle of “the mountain dew,” which, he said, was from a still which was “no far aff.” When I was about to mount my horse, he enquired if I could spare five minutes more, when he put into my hands the copy of a long memorial addressed to the government, which he had taken from among the leaves of a very old folio volume of Pitscottie's History of Scotland. This memorial prayed, that whereas

  ― 22 ―
Scoone was in the valley of Strathearne, and that the pillow of Jacob which had been kept there as the coronation stone of the Kings of Scotland, was fated still to be, where their dominion extended; and as this valley of the Kingdon Ponds, had not received a general name, that it might be called Strathearne, &c. &c. We were finally compelled, although it still wanted two hours of noon, to drink a “stirrup-cup” at the door—when he most heartily drank success to our expedition, and I went on my way rejoicing that, on leaving the last man of the white race we were likely to see for some time, the ceremony of shaking hands was a vibration of sincere kindness.

We soon overtook the party—and had proceeded with it, some distance, when a soldier of the mounted police came up, and delivered to me a letter, from the military secretary at Sydney, informing me by command of the Acting Governor, that George Clarke—alias “the Barber,”—(the bushranger,) had sawed off his irons, and escaped from the prison at Bathurst. This intelligence was meant to put me on my guard respecting the natives, for from the well known character of the man, it was supposed, that he would assemble them beyond the settled districts, with a view to drive off the cattle of the colonists—and especial caution would be necessary to prevent a surprise from natives so directed, if, as most people supposed, his story of “the great river,” had only been an invention of his own, by which he had hoped to improve his chance of escape. (See Appendix, No. 1.)

At three P. M., we reached a spot favourable for encamping, the Kingdon brook forming a broad pool, deep enough to bathe in, and the grass in the neighbourhood being very good. The “burning hill” of “Wingen” was distant about four miles. This phenomenon appears to be of the same character as that at Holworth, in the neighbourhood of Weymouth, described by Professor Buckland and Mr. De la Beche in the following terms:—“It is probable

  ― 23 ―
that in each case rain-water acting on iron pyrites has set fire to the bituminous shale; thus ignited, it has gone on burning at Holworth unto the present hour, and may still continue smouldering for a long series of years, the bitumen being here so abundant in some strata of the shale, that it is burnt as fuel in the adjoining cottages; the same bituminous shale is used as fuel in the village of Kimmeridge, and is there called Kimmeridge coal.”note “Wingen,” the previous hit aboriginal  name, is derived from fire. The combustion extends over a space of no great extent, (See Pl. 5.) near the summit of a group of hills, forming part of a low chain which divides the valley of Kingdon Ponds from that of Page's River. Thin blue smoke ascends from rents and cracks, the breadth of the widest measuring about a yard. Red heat appears at the depth of about four fathoms. No marks of any extensive change appear on the surface, near these burning fissures, although the growth of large trees in old cracks on the opposite slope, where ignition has ceased, shews that this fire has continued for a very considerable time, or that the same thing had occurred at a much earlier period. In the form of the adjacent hills I observed nothing peculiar, unless it be a contraction not very common of the lower parts of ravines. The geological structure is, as might be expected, more remarkable. Other summits of the range are porphyritic,note but the hills of “Wingen” present a variety of rocks, within a small space. In the adjacent gullies to the south of the hill, we find clay of a grey mottled appearance, and shale containing apparently a small quantity of decomposed vegetable matter; and near the fissure then on fire, occurred a coarse sandstone with an argillaceous basis. To the north-west, in a hollow containing water, which drains from beneath the part ignited, is a coarse sandstone, in some places,

  ― 24 ―
highly charged with decomposed felspar, and containing impressions of spirifers. The hill nearest to the part on fire, on the south-west (b), consists of basalt with grains apparently of olivine; and on a still higher hill, on the east (a), I found ironstone. A small hill (c), connecting these two, and nearest to the part actually burning, appears to consist of trap-rock, and is thickly strewed with agates. The hills on the opposite or south side of the valley are composed of compact felspar, with acicular crystals of glassy or common felspar and grains of hornblende, crevices of the stone being coated with films of serpentine or green earth.

Dec. 3.—The party in proceeding, crossed several deep gullies in the neighbourhood of the burning hill; and the road continued to be well marked. At length we began to ascend the chain of hills, which connects Wingen with Mount Murulla and the Liverpool range. On gaining the summit of this range, we overlooked Wingen, whose situation was faintly discernible by the light blue smoke. Three years had elapsed, since my first visit to these slumbering fires. The ridge we were crossing was strewed with fallen trees; and broken branches with the leaves still upon them, marked the effects of some violent and recent storm. We descended to a beautiful valley of considerable extent, watered by Page's river, which rises in the main range. We reached the banks of this stream at four P. M., and encamped on a fine flat. The extremities from the mountains on the north, descend in long and gradual slopes, and are well covered with grass. This was already eaten short by sheep. Two babbling brooks water the flat, at the part where we pitched our tents, and which is opposite to Whalan's station; one of these being the river Page, or “Macqueen's River;” the other known only as “the creek.” The space between them is flat, and apparently consists of a soil of excellent quality. The heat of the day was excessive, the thermometer 80° at sunset.

Dec. 4.—Mount Murulla is a remarkable cone of the

  ― 25 ―
Liverpool range, and being visible from Warrawolong, is consequently an important point in the general survey of the colony.

From Murulla, the range we had crossed extends eastward, enclosing the valley in which we were encamped, and which gives birth to the river Page. Our way now lay westward, towards the head of this valley, in order to cross by the usual route, the higher and principal range, which still lay to the north. We traversed, this day, six miles of the valley, and encamped beside a remarkable rock, near to which the track turned northward. I rode a little beyond our bivouac, and chanced to fall in with a tribe of natives from Pewen Bewen on Dart Brook, one of whom afterwards visited our camp, but he could tell us little about the interior country. The whole of the valley appears to consist of good land, and the adjacent mountains afford excellent sheep pasture. In the evening, a native of Liverpool plains came to our tents; I gave him a tobacco-pipe, and he promised to shew me the best road across them. Thermometer at sunset 84°.

Dec. 5.—This morning we ascended Liverpool range, which divides the colony from the unexplored country. Having heard much of this difficult pass, we proceeded cautiously, by attaching thirteen bullocks to each cart, and ascending with one at a time. The pass is a low neck, named

  ― 26 ―
by the natives Hecknadüey, but we left the beaten track (which was so very steep that it was usual to unload carts in order to pass) and took a new route, which afforded an easier ascent. All had got up safely, and were proceeding along a level portion, on the opposite side of the range, when the axle of one of the carts broke, and it became necessary to leave it, and place the load on the spare pack-horses, and such of the bullocks, taken out of the shafts, as had been broken in to carry pack-saddles. We reached at length, a water-course called “Currungài,” and encamped upon its bank, beside the natives from Dart Brook, who had crossed the range before us, apparently to join some of their tribe, who lay at this place extremely ill, being affected with a virulent kind of small-pox. We found the helpless creatures, stretched on their backs, beside the water, under the shade of the wattle or mimosa trees, to avoid the intense heat of the sun. We gave them from our stock some medicine; and the wretched sufferers seemed to place the utmost confidence in its efficacy. I had often indeed occasion to observe, that however obtuse in some things, the aborigines seemed to entertain a sort of superstitious belief, in the virtues of all kinds of physic. I found that this distressed tribe were also “strangers in the land,” to which they had resorted. Their meekness, as aliens, and their utter ignorance of the country they were in, were very unusual in natives, and excited our sympathy, especially when their demeanour was contrasted with the prouder bearing and intelligence of the native of the plains, who had undertaken to be my guide.

Here I at length drank the water of a stream, which flowed into the unexplored interior; and from a hill near our route I beheld, this day, for the first time, a distant blue horizon, exactly resembling that of the ocean.

Dec. 6.—At an early hour we continued the journey towards the plains, guided by the natives, and along a cart track, which led towards some cattle stations. We crossed a low ridge of rich earth, in which were embedded nodules

  ― 27 ―
of limestone, and fragments of trap-rock. After passing several extremities of ridges, of a similar description, all being branches from high ranges on our left, we came upon a portion of the plains. This expanse of open level country, extended in a northerly direction, as far as human vision could reach; and being clear of trees, presented a remarkable contrast to the settled districts of the colony. The soil of these plains looked rich, the grass was good, and herds of cattle browsing at a distance, added pastoral beauty, to that which had been recently a desert.

We now turned from the track, we had thus far followed in a west-south-west direction, and parting from our friends, the natives, who insisted on our keeping the track, we again entered the woods, by turning a little to the north. My object, in proceeding in this direction, was to reach the bank of Peel's river at Wallawoul; that stream having been laid down as holding a northerly course, and consequently I had reason to believe that it would lead to any greater river flowing to the north-west, as reported by the “barber.” But independently of this consideration, it was expedient to travel along its right bank, which commanded access to the high ranges on the east, and would therefore secure the party from any danger of obstruction from floods. I soon came on another path, and a line of marked trees, which a native, whom I met, said was the road from Palmer's to Loder's station. We next arrived at a deep dry bed, which in wet seasons must be filled by a very considerable stream, but in that time of drought, it was not until after riding up and down a considerable distance in search of water, that I at length found some ponds. The native name of this channel is “Nuzabella.” We crossed its bed, in order to encamp at a shady spot, where the long grass had been burnt a short while before. In other parts, the grass reached to the heads of the horses, and at this time was so liable to catch fire, and was so frequently set on fire by the natives, that with our stock of ammunition, the situation of the camp required particular

  ― 28 ―
attention. The bullocks were much fatigued with this day's journey, the thermometer having stood at 96° in the shade, and at sunset, and even during part of the night, it was as high as 90°.

At twilight, on inquiring, as usual, if the horses had been tethered and spancelled, I was informed that seven had set off, and that one of the men, Worthington, who went after them, had not returned. The weather had been so oppressive during the whole journey, that I determined on resting the cattle next day. This, I did not mention, however, to the men, but I ordered all the good bush hands to be off in search at day-break. The care of cattle, and particularly of horses on such journies, requires great attention; to stand idle on a fine morning, unable to proceed, until by some fortunate chance, stray cattle or horses are discovered in a boundless forest, is like a calm on the line, irksome enough; but there is also the risk of losing the men sent in pursuit, who, even after coming on the objects of their search, may be unable afterwards to find the camp, especially when there may be no water-course to lead them to it.

Dec. 7.—The weather still very sultry. The horses were brought in at a quarter-past eight by Worthington, who had traced them up the valley to two miles above our former encampment. The rich soil in this valley is nearly as deep as the bed of the rivulet, which is twenty feet lower than the surface; a substratum of gravel, similar to that in the bed of the water-course, appears in the bank; the pebbles, consisting chiefly of trap-rock, seemed to be the water-worn debris of the Liverpool range. The cattle and horses being at rest, we were occupied this day in making various observations with our instruments, trying the rate of the chronometer, &c. A thunder-cloud and a little rain afforded some relief from the excessive heat of the atmosphere. The night was very calm; but the musquitoes were numerous and troublesome.

Dec. 8.—A road or track, which we found about half-a-mile east from the camp, led us very directly, on the bearing

  ― 29 ―
of 335°, to Loder's station, distant about six miles from our encampment. Here stood a tolerable house of slabs, with a good garden adjoining it, in charge of an old stockman and his equally aged wife. This man was named by the blacks “Longanày,” (Long Ned).note The station was situated on a fine running stream called the Cuerindie, and the state of the sheep and cattle about it proved the excellence of the pasture. We passed the limits of the territory open to the selection of settlers, in crossing the Liverpool range; and the more remote country is not likely to come into the market soon. Such stations as this of Loder were held, therefore, only by the right of pre-occupancy, which has been so generally recognized among the colonists themselves, that the houses, &c. of these stations are sometimes disposed of for valuable considerations, although the land is liable to be sold by the government. A native named “Jemmy,” whom I met with here, agreed to conduct me by the best way, for carts, to Wallamoul on the Peel, for which service I undertook to reward him with a tomahawk.note It was necessary, that we should ford the Cuerindie, which flows to the north-west, and notwithstanding the steepness of its banks, we effected a passage without difficulty, guided by “Jemmy.” One mile beyond this, another creek lay in our way. It was smaller, but much more formidable and difficult to cross, for the bottom and banks consisted of blue-mud or clay, half-hardened on the surface, yet soft and yielding below. It was not without considerable delay, that we effected the passage, for a wheel of one of the carts stuck fast in the mud, and it was necessary to dig away the earth in front of the other wheel before we could release the vehicle. At length, every thing was got across, and we fortunately

  ― 30 ―
met no other impediment for six miles. We then crossed the channels of two rivulets, neither of which contained any water. At half-past four I wished to encamp, and the natives having at length found a green mantling pool in the bed of the united channel of the two water-courses, we pitched our tents, at a place called “Burandua.” Bad as the water seemed to be, “Jemmy” soon obtained some which was both clear and cool, by digging a hole in the sand near the pool. This native was a quiet and sensible fellow— he steadily pursued the course he recommended for the “wheelbarrows,” as he termed our carts; and answered all my queries briefly and decidedly, either by a nod of assent, or the negative monosyllable “Bel,” with a shake of the head. His walk was extremely light and graceful; his shoulders were neatly knit, and the flowing luxuriance of his locks was restrained by a bit of half-inch cord, the two ends hanging, like a double queue, half way down his back. He was followed by his gin and a child, which she usually carried on her back, although it seemed old enough and able to walk.

The air of the evening was very refreshing, and the sun set with peculiar brilliancy. We had travelled during the whole day on good soil, and the ploughed appearance of the surface was very remarkable in various places, particularly a little to the south of Loder's station, where the hollows seemed to terminate in a common channel. I noticed also that the direction of all the water-courses was towards the north-west, and it was evident that the streams occasionally overflowed their banks.

Dec. 9.—This morning, the party was ready to proceed soon after five o'clock, but the barometer got out of order, while I was using it in the dry bed of the rivulet, and some time was lost in an unsuccessful attempt to repair it. This derangement of the instrument was very unfortunate, at so early a stage of our journey.

After travelling about seven miles and a half, we perceived, on our left, an open valley, in which a numerous

  ― 31 ―
herd of cattle was feeding; and one mile further on, we came upon a fine little stream, which was rather difficult to cross, owing to the steepness of the banks. As the men were at work, taking the carts over one by one, the native and I were amused with a large black snake, which was swimming about. On his casting a stone at it, the snake glided swiftly towards him, and the poor fellow took to his heels, cautioning me to keep off, saying it would kill my horse. But he soon returned to the charge, and having succeeded in stunning it with stones, it was at length cut in two with my sabre. On measuring this snake I found it to be nine inches in circumference, and eight feet and a half in length.

Beyond that rivulet, the country appeared tolerably open and level, so that we could pursue our course in one direction nearly eight miles. The most conspicuous hill on our right, was named by the native “Barragundy.” It was visible during the whole of our day's journey. We at length entered upon an open and grassy plain, and found in the skirts of the wood beyond it, a channel containing water in abundance, and which was known to the natives as “Carrabobbila.”note Beyond this channel arose a peaked and picturesque range, whereof the highest summit was named “Turi.” The water, where we encamped, was hot and muddy, but the blacks knew well how to obtain a cool and clean draught, by first scratching a hole in the soft sand beside the pool, thus making a filter, in which the water rose cooled but muddy. They next threw into this some tufts of long grass, through which they sucked the cooler water thus purified also from the sand or gravel. I was very glad to follow the example, and I found the sweet fragrance of the grass an agreeable addition to the luxury of drinking. But during the heat of the forenoon I had observed the female quenching her thirst with still greater satisfaction, by rushing into a pool, and drinking as she sat immersed up to the lip.

  ― 32 ―

From Loder's station, we had travelled thus far on our way to Peel's river, without having any road or track to follow, and I had marked the trees along our line of route, which certainly seemed favourable for a cart-road in that direction. Near Carrabobbila, we came upon the track leading to Wallamoul, which was more circuitous, passing by other cattle stations in the plains.

During the last three days of our journey, the woods were burning before us, but fortunately the fire was one day's march in advance of our party, and thus the flames had cleared every thing away before our arrival, so that our camp was not exposed to danger. This evening, however, the country seemed on fire all around us. The weather was calm and sultry, particularly when the day closed in, and a very heavy storm, accompanied by thunder, broke over us in the night.

Dec. 10.—The morning was cloudy; and the rain, which we anxiously looked for, at length came down, and soon checked the progress of the flames. On this account, as well as on that of the want of water, it afforded providential relief to us, for the hills we were about to cross had been all in a blaze during the night. Trees lay smoking as we passed; several gullies were difficult for the passage of carts, and detained the party in its ascent; but at length we reached the top of this pass, and crossed the range, which appeared to be continuous, thus separating the basin of the Peel from that of the waters falling to Liverpool plains. We were agreeably surprised to find that the opposite side of these hills, and the whole face of the country beyond them, presented a very different appearance from that through which we had passed. A gently sloping extremity lay before us, for eight miles in the direction of our proposed route, and we were relieved from all the difficulties of crossing gullies, which had impeded our ascent on the other side of the range, We encamped at some water-holes, where this slope terminated in an extensive forest flat; over the whole of which,

  ― 33 ―
as my sable guide informed me, there was no other water at that time.

The grass on this side of the hills was good: and almost all the timber consisted of box (eucalyptus). The heights which we had crossed appeared to extend from the Liverpool range to the northward, as far as could be seen; but the native told me, that it soon terminated on the river “Callala” (or Peel), whose course, he said, turned westward (as he pointed); a fact corroborating so far, the statements of the bushranger.

Dec. 11.—The weather cleared up at about six A. M.: and we travelled across a good soil, throughout the whole of this day's journey. The country appeared but thinly wooded, and without any hill or water-course. After a journey of thirteen miles, we reached the bank of the Peel at Wallamoul, the lowest cattle station upon this river. It was occupied by Mr. Brown, who had there about 1600 head of cattle. I gave to “Jemmy,” our excellent guide, the promised tomahawk, also a knife to “Monday” his brother, whom he met here. The river was so low that Mr. White and I passed over easily on a tree which the flood had laid across it. The current, however, was strong; and the men having been furnished from our stock with a few hooks and lines, caught three large fishes by sunset. I met, at this place, with some intelligent natives, from whom I learnt, that the spot where Mr. Oxley crossed the Peel on his journey, was about two miles lower down.

Dec. 12.—At an early hour this morning, one of our men caught a fish, which weighed eighteen pounds; but, according to the natives, this was no uncommon size. These fishes are most erroneously called cod by the colonists, although they certainly very much resemble cod in taste. The flakes are firmer than sea cod, and equally white, the fish affording a very light and palatable food. When dried in the same manner as the Newfoundland cod, in which state I have

  ― 34 ―
tasted this fish at Bathurst, I could not perceive any difference either in flavour or appearance.

Being at length about to enter the Terra incognita, I deemed it expedient to re-pack our stores, in order, that the load might be made as light and compact as possible, and that we might pass with less difficulty over whatever description of ground we were destined to encounter. With this view, I directed the flour to be started from casks into bags, and made such arrangements as tended materially to lessen the bulk of our provisions and other necessary stores. Having questioned the natives with regard to the course of the Peel, I learnt that, instead of flowing northward, as hitherto supposed, it took a westerly direction, and was soon joined by the “Muluerindie,” a river coming from the north-east. The natives further assured me, that there was a good ford below the junction of these streams at a place called “Wallanburra;” and I determined to proceed to this ford, as it was not advisable, with the “Muluerindie” beyond, to cross the river above the junction. Being anxious to procure another guide, the overseer at Wallamoul brought me a native named “Mr. Brown,” who agreed to accompany our party on condition that he should receive blankets for himself and his “gin,” and a tomahawk, the latter being a small hatchet, which is so valuable a substitute for their stone hatchet, that almost all natives within reach of the colony have them, even where the white man is known as yet only by name—or as the manufacturer of this most important of all implements to the Australian native.

Dec. 13.—Mr. Finch having joined us on the previous evening, without procuring the supply of flour that I had expected, I despatched him back this morning to the Hunter's River district, with directions to procure as much flour, tea, and sugar as he could pack on six bullocks, and to follow along my line of marked trees with all possible speed. I

  ― 35 ―
furnished him with an official letter to Mr. Dixon, in which I instructed that surveyor to supply him with any article he could possibly spare from his own equipment, without impeding the service on which he was engaged.

And now our arrangements being as complete as we could hope to make them, under existing circumstances, we broke up our encampment, at eight A. M., and proceeded in the interesting pursuit of the course of the Peel River.