A late tour, on the face of the country, lying between Liverpool Plains and the shores of Moreton Bay in New South Wales

by Allan Cunningham 1827

This following text was adapted by The Allan Cunningham Project’s Team
from a PDF file of Henry Stuart Russell’s book “The Genesis of Queensland”
provided by Text Queensland

We are living in a land, the physical constitution of which differs strangely from every other portion of our globe ; [1] with a superficial extent that has been estimated at more than three-fourths of that of Europe, yet furnishes (as far as a minute examination of its various shores has been effected) no river by which a knowledge of the capabilities of a distant interior might be acquired, or the produce of its soil wafted to its coasts. [p78]

Admitting the non-existence of rivers in so vast a country of distant internal origin, or of magnitude approaching those noble streams, which, rising in the more elevated regions of the Andes, are disembogued on the shores of the American continent, we are naturally led to the belief that no lofty ranges of mountains traverse the central regions of this ‘ great southland,’ either in the direction of the meridian, or transversely in that of the parallel, but the rather, that large portions of our intertropical interior will one day be discovered to be of low depressed surface, subject in part, in seasons of much rain, to extensive inundation. Indeed, it has been remarked by travellers that, so far as their observations have extended, the high lands of this continent are, on or at no great distance from its shores, and navigators inform us that the more elevated ranges occupy its eastern coast, which in several parallels they immediately invest, and throughout a span of five hundred miles within the tropical circle, are of primitive structure. [2]

Fourteen years have elapsed since those enterprising travellers, Messrs. Blaxland, Lawson, and Wentworth, upon surmounting the many obstacles that lay in the way of internal discovery in their day, passed that formidable barrier, our Blue Mountain Ranges, and at once laid open an extensive western country, not only to the persevering industry of the husbandman and grazier, but to the no less laudable research of the zealous naturalist.

Almost immediately subsequent to that epoch in the annals of our colony, expeditions were despatched to explore rivers, then of recent discovery, in which Mr. Oxley, our able Surveyor- General, to whom their direction was intrusted, was engaged in 1817 and succeeding years; but the results of these journies having tended in no small degree to check that spirit of internal geographical inquiry, which had at those periods manifested itself, no tour of any magnitude, with the view towards the acquirement of a further knowledge of our interior has, since those days to the present year, been undertaken, if we except the laborious excursion of Messrs. J. Hovell and Hume from the country of Argyle, across a portion of our southern interior, to the shores of Port Philip. Of the relation of that long journey, [p79] however, although it was performed three years since, we have yet to learn the details. These, when published, will doubtless prove highly interesting, not only to the colonist, but to every well wisher of the country, since it has been affirmed that those travellers, in the progress of their expedition, passed through an undefined extent of beautiful country, the richest that had been discovered at that period, the finest in point of soil, and incomparably the most English-like in point of climate.

Inhabiting, as we have for many years, the shores of so vast a country, when Nature’s operations in her animal and vegetable products, more especially from so many striking peculiarities, inducing, not merely to create our surprise, but sufficient to keep perpetually alive within us a laudable inquiring curiosity, it is singular that at this advanced age of the colony, we should be found in possession of so little well-founded information in respect to the construction of our distant interior, since, in our limited range of inquiry, although the surface of the country has been found in parts made up of brushy waste, or noisome swamp we have, nevertheless, been abundantly encouraged to advance on meeting with the verdant glade amid the desert— been gladdened at length to discover, beyond the confines of regions scarcely tenantable by men, extensive tracts of rich pasture land, possessing all the physical conditions requisite for the well-being of civilized society.

Proposed journey through the country lying interjacent to Liverpool Plains and Moreton Bay

To add to the scanty knowledge we have already acquired of our interior, I had. the honor to address myself to his Excellency Lieutenant-General Darling on the subject in February last.

In my communications to the Governor at that period I respectfully submitted, that as little perhaps remained to be done in the way of geographical research in the country bearing S.W. from Lake George, it having been penetrated to the sea on our, south coast by Messrs. Hovell and Hume, I felt rather desirous of explaining a portion of the unknown region lying north from the latitude of 31 deg., to which parallel the country had been seen by Mr. Oxley so far back as the year 1818.

With these views, I had the honor to submit for his Excellency’s consideration and approval, the following proposed [p80] plan of a journey I had long since had in contemplation: To proceed, in the first instance, by the most direct and eligible route from the colony to Peel’s River, in the country on the north-eastern skirts of Liverpool Plains, and situate between the meridian of 150 deg. and 151 deg. in or about the parallel of 31 deg. S. Thence I proposed to penetrate north, in a line west of the meridian of 151 deg. towards the shores of Moreton Bay, in the parallel of 27 deg., with the view of ascertaining the general features of the interjacent country ; the character of its vegetation, the nature of its soil, and the number, magnitude, and direction of the streams, by which it was reasonable to conclude a region comprehending more than three degrees of latitude is doubtless watered. I further respectfully submitted that should the condition of my horses, the state of my provisions, and other circumstances justify it, upon my reaching the northern point to which I might be enabled to penetrate, my intention was, ere my return home, to occupy a portion of the time in an excursion direct into the interior, with the expectation of being able to gather a few facts in respect to the presumed magnitude of those great marshes into which (’tis said) all our western waters flow, to the eastern margin of which (in 30 ½ deg. south latitude) Mr. Oxley had descended in 1818. Should, however, the circumstances of my expedition not permit of this digression to the westward from that advanced step of my journey, I finally submitted to his Excellency that, with the view more fully to embody the chart, I would pursue my journey southerly towards the colony, through that considerable range of country lying east of the meridian of 151 deg. intermediate between my projected line of outward route and the sea coast.

As this plan of my proposed tour to the northern interior met with the entire approbation of His Excellency, an ample equipment, fully equal to the magnitude of the journey, and agreeably to my requisitions, was directed to be prepared for me, and as the various items were completed to my entire satisfaction about the close of the month of March, I lost not a moment, (notwithstanding the unfavourable lowering aspect of the weather), in putting an establishment of six men and eleven horses (of which eight were the property of the Crown) into motion. To effect the more important points contemplated in this journey, I provided myself with the following instruments, [p81] viz. : a sextant, by Jones, divided to ten seconds, an artificial horizon, a Schmalcalder’s compass, a pocket chronometer, an odometer or improved perambulator, and a mountain barometer, by Jones, which latter I compared with others in possession of J. Mitchell, Esq., of the General Hospital, who very obligingly engaged to furnish me (upon my return home) with his daily observations on the range of the mercurial column made in Sydney, during the period of my proposed absence in the interior, in order to enable me to compute, from data given by their difference from my own, simultaneously noted, the mean elevation above the level of the sea of the several stations or encampments of my journey.

Thus prepared for my winter’s tour, I proposed to proceed in the first instance with the party composing my expedition to Segenhoe, the estate of J. P. Macqueen, Esq., M.P., on an upper branch of Hunter’s river, not more from its being in that direct line of route which the plan of my journey had marked out than from its proximity to the Dividing Range, over which my course lay, and the assistance that would be afforded me by Mr. Macintyre, the highly respectable agent and director of that extensive and valuable farm, in passing that formidable chain of mountains which separates the Coal river country from the great levels of Liverpool Plains.

Desirous of preserving the fresh condition of the horses in this first stage of my journey, to enable them the better to meet its after labours, they were despatched overland without their loads, whilst the baggage, stores, and provisions for the use of the expedition were conveyed round by sea to Hunter’s river.

26th April 1827

Arriving at Segenhoe [3] on the 26th of the month, I was most hospitably received by Mr. Macintyre, whose residence, together with the village-like group of habitations of the farming servants, was found eligibly situated, on a tributary stream to Hunter’s, named the Page, about a mile and a half above the confluence, and within twenty miles of the northern mountains, the elevated points of which constitute so striking a feature of the landscape of this most beautiful part of the Coal river country.

30th April 1827

The adjustment of the several pack-horse loads, and general preparation for my departure being effected in the short period [p82] of my stay at this station, I commenced my journey to the north on the 30th, with an establishment of six servants and eleven horses, and with full provisions for fourteen weeks, having determined, from the information I had obtained of its practicability, to attempt my passage over the Dividing Range at the head of a stream of Hunter’s river, called Dartbrook, which rises in a part of those mountains bearing to the N.W. about thirty miles.

The situation of Mr. Macintyre’s house on Page’s river was found by observation to be as follows :—latitude by meridional altitudes of the sun taken in an artificial horizon and observed with an excellent sextant, being the mean of eight observations taken chiefly on the return of the party to this station in August, 32 deg. 6 min. 37 sees. S. ; longitude by a set of lunar distances, 150 deg. 57 min. 16 sees. E. ; [4] variation of the needle, deduced by the mean of several sets of azimuths, 7 deg. 24 min. E.; and mean elevation above the level of the sea, being the result of twenty-one distinct observations of the mercurial column taken morning and evening, five hundred and ninety-seven feet.

2nd May 1827

On the 2nd May, having traced the narrow valley through which Dartbrook flows, to its head immediately at the foot of the mountains, we were joined by Mr. Macintyre, who had obligingly tendered me his services to conduct the party over the more difficult parts of the range, at a part by which he had himself on a former occasion crossed those mountains to Liverpool Plains. From the grassy hills immediately at the head of the valley, we gained by great exertion the higher parts of the Dividing Range, by climbing a narrow lateral ridge of so abrupt an acclivity as repeatedly to render it necessary, rather than endanger the lives of the horses, to disburden them of portions of their loads.

4th May 1827

Traversing the extreme summit of the range about two miles to the westward, at a mean elevation of three thousand and eighty feet above the level of the sea, a sloping grassy ridge enabled us to descend to the head of a valley at the northern foot of the mountains on the afternoon of the 4th, when the tents [p83] were pitched until the morning of the following day. This encamping ground, which was found by observation to be in latitude 31 deg. 50 min. S., and longitude (by account) 150 deg. 35 min. E., I ascertained by barometrical admeasurement to be twelve hundred and twenty-one feet lower than the summit of the range, or about six hundred and seventy feet above the head of the opposite valley of Dartbrook.

5th May 1827

Having safely passed this mountain barrier, the rock of which I remarked was trap, we set out on our journey to the north at an early hour on the morning of the 5th, intending to pass along the eastern skirts of the vast lands before us, underas near as the country would admit, the meridian of 150¾ deg. We soon descended through the vale, at the head of which we had rested, to the more even-surfaced open-wooded land, when on leaving a small creek that had meandered with us from the mountain base, to wind its course to the lower levels of the great plains, [5] which had just opened to the view, we pursued our way through an extent of ten miles of barren forest, wooded with stunted box and ironbark, frequently interspersed with brush, which, from the languishing state of its scanty vegetation generally, had evidently been without water for several months.

Crossing a branch of the plains, in 38 deg. 38 min., stretching to the S.E. under the hills, and through which a small rivulet wound northerly, the country before us was found to rise to forest hills of ordinary elevation, lightly wooded with box timber, and frequently very stony on their summits, the rock itself being a coarse sandstone.

The valleys, which were very confined, and occasionally disposed to be brushy, as well as some intermediate patches of level ground, furnished timbers of large dimensions, chiefly of the apple tree and gum. Immediately to the westward of our [p84] line of route, a chain of low thinly wooded great hills stretched northerly, and interrupted the view of the main body of the plains, whilst to the east were ridges, bold and precipitous, assuming in some parts a lofty mountainous character, whence issued several streams, which, after watering the various valleys, intersected by our line of route, escape westerly to the margin of the plains, where at length they unite in their course to the north, and form Field’s river of Mr. Oxley, by the channel of which the eastern sides of those considerable levels are drained.

The hills (as already remarked) are composed of a coarse grained sandstone, and in the valleys and heads of creeks was remarked a breccia or pudding-stone, on which the former reposed.

11th May 1827

On the 11th we reached the north-eastern angle of Liverpool Plains, and passed the parallel of 31 deg. 2 min., in which latitude Mr. Oxley had crossed Peel’s river in his journey to Port Macquarie, in 1818, and from which particular point of intersection of that stream it was my intention to have taken a new departure, the interior to the north of it being totally unexplored by Europeans. The country, however, to east and north-east of our line of route proving on examination to be by far too broken, mountainous and rocky to permit my heavily laden pack horses to penetrate to the channel of that stream, conformably with the plan of my journey, their feet having already sustained considerable injury in passing those stony hills, which our line of route from the Dividing Range had intersected, I determined to continue our course to the north under the meridian at which we had arrived (about 150 deg.), being satisfied that as there could be no doubt of the waters of the Peel falling internally, my course would intersect its channel whenever the chain of lofty hills immediately to the eastward of us, which appeared to stretch far to the north, should either terminate, or become so detached or broken as to allow of its escape to an obviously lower north-western interior.

Meeting with a rill of excellent water at the foot of a grassy ridge (evidently one of the Melville Hills of Mr. Oxley), I was induced to halt to allow my people to refasten the shoes of several of the horses, which were nearly torn off by the rocky irregular surface of the ground we had traversed in the progress of our stages of the last two days. As it was early in the afternoon, I climbed a hill distant about two miles to the N.W., to observe the features of the country before us. From the eminence I had a more extended view of the broken mountainous country at E. and N.E. than I had previously had from a lower level, the precipitous aspect of which perfectly justifying my abandonment of the design of attempting to penetrate east (in the parallel 31 deg.) to the bank of Peel’s river, as I had originally contemplated.

Beyond the nearest ridge of hills at those bearings, I could perceive more elevated ranges, lying parallel with them, at sufficient distance from each other to mark distinctly the existence and direction of the ample vale to which the name of Goulburn was given by Mr. Oxley in 1818. At north, the country although hilly appeared very open to penetration, to points of which, in the vicinity of Barrow’s Valley of our able Surveyor-General, I took bearings, and at N.W. and W.N.W. the eye traversed a vast extent of wooded and seemingly level country, through which Field’s river of the chart winds its course to a declining interior.

At W. and S.W., I recognised points of Mr. Oxley’s survey in 1818 which I had identified in my winter’s excursion in 1825, along the western side of Liverpool plains, particularly that remarkable forest ridge which bounds Lushington Valley on the S., named on the chart Vansittart’s Hills. Not the smallest trace of human beings was perceived in an extensive range of country lying between N.E. and W. by the way of N., but at S.W., large columns of smoke, which rose from the surface of a distant region at that bearing, showed it to be extensively fired by the natives.

On the morning of the 11th we quitted our resting place on the creek, and pursuing a course to the S. of W. about three miles, at length passed round the western extreme of the Melville Hills, through a dry brushy tract of forest ground, and were then enabled to shape a more direct line of route to the N.W. On this line of course, which led us through a level wooded country, scarcely one thousand feet above the sea coast, and alike suffering with other parts under the severity of a long protracted period of drought, we at length crossed the track of Mr. Oxley in 1818, the observations at noon taken in the midst of a dense brush of the drooping acacia pendula, giving us for latitude 31 deg. 31 sees. N., which placed our position about a mile to the north of that gentleman’s line of route, after he had [p86] forded Field’s river. Upon penetrating beyond these brushes of the grey-hued acacia above referred to, we pursued our way to the N.W. about four miles, over a level declining country, alternately forest ground and open plain, clothed with a vegetation in part destroyed by the drought, the long continuance of which was abundantly indicated by the extensive rents that had been effected in the ground by the sun, the extremely parched appearance of the surface, as well as the total absence of water in channels, which evidently, from their shaded situation, afford in seasons of ordinary humidity an ample supply. Amidst the distressing circumstances of the country, we were not a little surprised to observe upon reaching the skirts of the forest-land, on the western side of a large patchy plain we had traversed, so striking a change in the conditions of its grasses and vegetation generally.

We had evidently descended to a lower level than the spot on which our tent had stood in the morning, and on entering the wooded land bordering the plain, which was timbered with apple trees (angophor) of large dimensions, we perceived that the whole forest had been flooded to the depth of five feet! at which height drift wood had been washed against the trunks of the timber, and although the entire plain thereto adjacent, as also other portions of the country south of it, nearly on the same level had been at the same time subjected to like inundation, yet the exposure of their open surface to the daily action of the sun, for very many months, had so far parched its vegetable products as to leave no clear evidence of the condition to which it is at periods subjected. It was, therefore, only under protection from the solar ray beneath the umbrage of densely foliaged apple trees, that plants, growing even in a soil fattened by the deposits of these floods, could assume amidst the extremes of a dry season, the luxuriance of growth in which we had observed them.

The inclination to the S.W. of the heads of certain plants growing in this forest marked distinctly the direction which the current, upon the retiring of the waters of the last great flood, had taken, showing also the point of declination of the country at this particular part. Having accomplished twelve miles, and satisfied from every appearance around us that we were in the immediate neighbourhood of a water of larger magnitude than any stream we had passed since we quitted Hunter’s river, we [p87] directed our course through the forest N.N.W., towards the base of a range of hills, the S.E. head of which overlooked the plain we had traversed, and in a mile came upon the left bank of a river which bent itself round the southern extreme of these hills in its course to the westward.

The width of the channel we ascertained to be about one hundred and fifty yards, but of this breadth about one third only was occupied by water, which formed a succession of deep pools and pebbly rapids.

The bank on which I had encamped was about thirty feet of perpendicular height above the low level of this river, and an idea may be formed of the vast bodies of water that at periods flow through its channel to the westward when it is observed that there were marks of the floods in the forest ground four feet above the level of the spot on which the tents were pitched. Deriving its origin in the very hilly country to the N.E. of us, which evidently formed a secondary dividing range, separating this part of country from that through which Peel’s river flows, this stream, upon bending its course round the southern termination of the ridge of hills immediately on its opposite bank, wends its way to the westward, and in a few miles joins Field’s river in its progress north-westerly.

To the stream which had not been previously seen by Europeans, I gave the name of Mitchell’s river, as a compliment to the medical officer to whom I am so much indebted for the very valuable details of barometrical observations, taken in Sydney during my absence on the journey.

Very recent marks of the native’s hatchet on the trees and a well-beaten path along the bank of the river, with other traces of the aborigine, showed us that this solitary part of the interior was not without inhabitants, and about sunset some distant voices were distinctly heard, but neither the savage himself or the glare of his fire was seen. In a deep pond immediately beneath the tents our people were successful with their hooks, several fine fish of the cod of the western waters were taken, but so eager were the fish to seize the baited hooks that several with portions of line attached were carried away in attempting to lift them from their native element.

The end of an eclipse of the moon, which took place in the evening at 7 hrs. 55 min. 19 sec. apparent time, as observed with a tolerably good telescope, gave further longitude of the [p88] particular part of Mitchell’s river whereon we had encamped 150 deg. 27 min. 15 sec. E. This served to compare with its meridian reduced from that of Segenhoe on Hunter’s river, which grave a difference of two minutes to the westward—viz., 150 deg. 25 min. 15 sec. E. However, as there were reasons for considering the latter result the more correct, it has been preferred.

The latitude ascertained by a solar meridional altitude observed on the 12th was 30 deg. 59 min. 12 sec. S., and the mean elevation of the bed of the river above the level of the sea proved from barometrical data to be only eight hundred and forty feet, which is nearly one hundred feet lower than the central path of Liverpool Plains.

12th May 1827

12th: Continuing our journey to the north. Immediately on observing the sun’s altitude at noon, we were led over a continuation of level forest ground, subject to inundation, about two miles, when we again met the river, running from the N.E., and having forded it at a pebbly fall, pursued our way through a forest of fine large blue gum. In another mile we came upon an open plain stretching to the N.W., and bounded on the S.W. by a continuation of the forest range, along the eastern base of which Mitchell’s river flows. Skirting this plain on its eastern margin, and trusting to the hope of finding water, I altered my line of route to the N.N.E., but upon advancing about four miles through a forest country, almost denuded of grass and herbage by long droughts and the destroying effects of natives’ fires, and without the slightest trace of water, felt obliged to return to the river, the bank of which we reached about an hour after sunset.

13th May 1827

Here we were again glad to pitch our tents, and as there was abundance of grass for the horses, I determined to rest the whole of the 13th, in order to afford them the benefit of a patch of luxuriant pasture, such as we were apprehensive from the aspect of the country before us northerly we could not expect to meet with, until we again came upon a living stream.

14th May 1827

On the morning of the 14th we again advanced on our journey to the north, through a dry uninteresting forest land, broken by watercourses, very level of surface, and thinly wooded with the usual timber.

Occasionally we penetrated smaller patches of brush, scarcely interesting even to the botanist, and again gained a [p89] more open surface of barren forest ground, perfectly bare of grass or herbage, and exhibiting an arid argillaceous soil, rent in chasms by an obviously long protracted drought.
Upon completing thirteen miles, I remarked the fall of the low ridges over which we had been travelling throughout our last three miles, to be to the eastward, I therefore altered our course in search of water, which most fortunately finding, we rested for the day about five p.m.

15th May 1827

Resuming our journey at an early hour on the 15th, we pursued a course to the N.N.W. through a heavily timbered, but parched level country. Our sixth mile brought us to the base of a ridge of barren forest hills, the declivities of which were deeply grooved by the rains of former years, that had also laid bare portions of the rock formation, which proved to be an argillaceous schistus. Immediately on passing this ridge, the southern flanks of which my horses climbed with considerable difficulty, we intersected in about two miles a stream running briskly over a rocky bed to the eastward, which in consequence of the general steepness of its immediate banks, gave us some trouble to pass.

Upon gaining the rising forest ground on its north bank, I was induced to direct a halt, not knowing (in a country so generally parched by an excess of dry weather) at what distance water might again be found. Other inducements to rest here were, its grasses were much fresher than those the open forest furnished, and we had, moreover, effected about nine miles distant to the north. The latitude of our encamping ground reduced from the observation at noon, was 30 deg. 36 min. S., and our barometer showed us we were upwards of a thousand feet above our station on Mitchell’s river, into which the rapid rivulet on which we had rested ultimately falls, after meandering easterly and southerly among the hills. To individuals accustomed to live only amidst the charms of society, the solitary aspect of the greater portion of this day’s stage would have proved most distressing. Scarcely a bird, not a kangaroo, emu, or native dog, or the evidence (even of the most ancient standing) of the wandering Indian, were remarked, until we had arrived in the immediate neighbourhood of an encamping ground, when our dogs gave chase to a solitary kangaroo.

To us it was no less distressing to observe, as we travelled onward northerly, to what a degree vegetation was languishing amidst the severity of a drought of so protracted a period, that [p90] we might with great truth say no rain had fallen to benefit either herbage or the soil during the last twelve or fifteen months.

16th May 1827

16-18th May 1827. Our course to the north throughout the three succeeding days led us over a hilly and in several parts broken country, which rose progressively in elevation, until we had attained a height exceeding two thousand feet above the sea shore.

Occasionally a narrow valley, bearing a matted grass of the growth of two or three years, and bounded on either side by forest hills of steep acclivity, wooded with small trees, and grassy to their summits, afforded some diversity of feature in the line of country penetrated, which in general was that of open forest, furnishing the usual timbers of stunted growth, totally inapplicable to any purpose of rural economy. The water courses presented rocky deep channels, from twelve to twenty feet in width, which, in seasons less adverse, assumed the characters of respectable creeks.

17th May 1827

On the 17th, at noon, when our observed latitude was 30 deg. 22 min. S., we reached the bank of a stream, which received the name of Buddle’s river, and although there was but little water in its channel, which was thirty yards wide, it nevertheless bore evident marks of being in seasons of heavy rains swollen to the height of twenty feet. This small river dipped to the E.N.E., and as the country appeared at length to be much more open in that direction than had been remarked in any part since we crossed to the north of 31 deg., it is without doubt a tributary to Peel’s river.

It was on the banks of Buddle’s river that natives to the number of five persons were seen for the first time during this journey. Being myself a little in advance of the horses, I had no- sooner reached the right bank than my attention was arrested by the appearance of smoke rising from the forest ground on the opposite bank, and immediately I perceived four natives and a child, who having previously observed me, were standing for the moment in a state of extreme surprise and alarm. I called out to a man who stood in front of the fire, and who was armed with short spears, signifying by signs indicative of a friendly intention on my part—my wish to court an interview. To all my overtures he simply made a brief reply, and then on seeing the pack-horses descend to ford the river, he took to his heels, and with the other adults (seemingly women), ran off up the river, and immediately disappeared. [p91]

19th May 1827

19th. We resumed our journey at an early hour from a rocky creek on which we had encamped, and having advanced about three miles through a lonely uninteresting forest of tolerably level surface, we reached the base of an abrupt ridge of barren hills, timbered with small iron-bark, and deeply grooved by sharp narrow gullies, which, declining in a northerly direction, fell into a grassy bottom. Upon passing in a variety of courses over the banks of these arid ridges, suddenly a break in the hills at the N.W. afforded us a confined view of a level wooded country of unbounded extent, and to which there appeared an approach by a narrow wall before us. Descending without much difficulty to, an apple-tree flat, the valley gradually expanded, being, however, bounded by very steep rocky ridges on its eastern and western sides, and watered by a small limpid stream which, originating in the congregated hills at its head, murmured over the stony bed of a channel, which wound through its centre beneath a shade of swamp oak. On completing our eighth mile, I observed the meridional altitude of the sun, which gave for our latitude 30 deg. 2 min. 30 sec. S., and then continuing our journey north, along the valley other six miles, I was induced to encamp on the bank of the creek, on a patch of the most luxuriant pasture we had met with since we left Hunter’s river.

We were not a little surprised to observe at the head of this valley, so remote from any farming establishment, the traces of horned cattle, only two or three days old, as also the spots on which from eight to a dozen of these animals had reposed, at a period so recent that the grassy blade, which was of long luxuriant growth, had not recovered its upright position.

From what point of the country these cattle had originally strayed appeared at first consideration, however, it was thought by no means impossible that they were stragglers from the large wild herds that are well known to be occupying plains around Arbuthnot’s Range, S.W. one hundred and seventy-five miles from this vale. Upon the range on the eastern side of the valley I discovered several undescribed plants of the most interesting description, observing also that the rock, which was a species of flint of curious laminated figure, like some agates, reposed on large masses of serpentine, obvious in the lower parts, and in the base of the ridge. [p92]

During our stay in the vale, which I named after a friend in the Royal Staff Corps, Stoddart’s Valley, I was enabled to determine the position of my encampment with tolerable precision. The result of my observations on the 20th were as follows, viz.: latitude observed, 29 deg. 58 min. 52 sec. S.: longitude by account reduced from the meridian of Segenhoe, 150 deg. 33 min. E.; longitude by distances (sun west of moon), 150 deg. 37 min.; longitude mean, 150 deg. 35 min. E.; variation by azimuth, 8 deg. 1 min. 30 sec. E. The mean of the results of barometrical computation, which showed us a very considerable declension of country to the north, in our last stage gave us a mean elevation of only eleven hundred and sixty feet above the level of the sea.

21st May 1827

On Monday, the 21st of May, we prosecuted our journey to the north along the valley, the beauties of which were progressively developed as we advanced. limited the view on either side gradually as they stretched to the north, lowered in elevation, and assumed the character of open forest hills, thinly wooded with small trees, and altogether less stoney. Passing over some fine patches of grassy flat, clothed sparingly with apple trees of, however, robust habit, we followed the creek that waters this extensive cattle range, about seven miles, to its discharge into a river of large dimensions, evidently the Peel of Mr. Oxley, which having flowed from the southward, through a very gradual fall of country, to a level of little more than nine hundred feet above the sea shore, at length winds its course by a creek, through the eastern hills, and passing the northern extremity of Stoddart’s Valley, escapes (as Field’s river) to a still lower north-western interior.

The channel of this river at the ford by which we passed it exhibited a bed of gravel, exceeding two hundred and fifty yards in breadth, which at periods of great rains is occupied to the depth of twelve and fifteen feet, as we gathered from the flood marks on its outer banks. The long continuance of dry weather, beneath the effects of which an unknown extent of the interior appeared to be suffering, had, however, diminished the waters of the Peel to a breadth not exceeding fifty yards, and to a depth so trifling that it was fordable in many parts. On crossing this river, we halted on an elevated patch of forest ground on its right bank, the day being far spent. As we descended Stoddart’s Valley to the river, we observed several of the trees had been [p93] completely and recently barked by the natives, and on the bank of the river opposite our encampment large bodies of smoke rose from the fired grass and herbage, but we neither saw or heard any of the Indians, the very recent prints of whose feet (as well adult as child) we clearly perceived on the sands at the ford.

22nd and 23rd May 1827

22nd. Quitting the right bank of Peel’s river (which we found by our barometer to be only nine hundred and eleven feet above the level of the sea), we pursued our route to the N.N.W., immediately at the base of a continuation of the eastern range of hills, which again assumed a bold and rocky character. We passed through an uniformly barren tract of wooded country, frequently very broken and ridgy, and as the declivity of the several gullies were of considerable dip towards the channel of the Peel, which extended along the eastern base of a densely wooded range, bearing west of us, we found the whole of the day’s stage exceedingly badly watered. At a distance of about fourteen miles north from the ford of Peel’s river the country considerably improves, and by being less encumbered with useless timber and brushwood, and therefore more open to the sun and air, the soil, which had assumed a darker colour, was productive of a tolerable clothing of grass and esculent vegetation. The thickly wooded ranges, to which the name of Drummond was attached, lying a few miles to the west of our route, was at length, as advanced, observed to terminate, and the country beyond its northern extreme appeared from the higher grounds, near which we were travelling, to be well timbered, but a level, declining clearly to the northward and westward. At last the rocky ridge of hills which had for some days entirely circumscribed our view at that bearing, also falling to the ordinary level, the country assumed a picturesque appearance. Detached hills of moderate height diversified the surface, which being very thinly wooded with small trees, furnished on their slopes in seasons less destructive to vegetation an abundance of sheep pasture. To two of these hills, remarkable for their likeness to each other, I attached the names of Carlyle and Little, after friends on Hunter’s river. They are formed, of a reddish sandstone with which the summits are crowned. To the north-east the country rises to a considerable elevation, and a very lofty rocky range crowned with the picturesque cypress, and from the extreme ridge of which rose a very sharp cone, received the name of “Masterton.” [p94]

23rd May 1827

At noon of the 23rd we came upon the wide but shallow reedy channel of a river, forming, however, at this season simply a deep chain of ponds, at which the observed latitude proved to be 29 deg. 34 min. 44 sees. S. This we traced about four miles to the N.E., and then encamped on its immediate bank, where there were some good strips of grassy flat, affording our cattle excellent food.

The marks of the natives’ hatchet (of stone) were observable on the trees, but the few Indians that wander through these lonely regions in quest of food appear very careful to avoid us ; the train of laden horses, the numbers of my men and dogs doubtless alarming those who may have seen us from the hills so much as rather to urge their flight than induce them to seek a communication with us.

24—26th May 1827

24—26th May 1827. On crossing the reedy channel of this river, we passed over a low stony cypress ridge, and among a mass of vegetation characterising the flora of the Bathurst country, I discovered a few plants not previously met with, of, however, established well-known genera. The rocks of this ridge are of the ferruginous sandstone of the Blue Mountain Ranges, and as quantities of the disintegrated parts of this formation had been washed by the rains upon the lower forest grounds in the neighbourhood, the surface (resting on an argillaceous subsoil) was covered with a barren grit to the depth of four inches. At our fifth mile we rose by an easy acclivity to the pitch of a forest ridge, when we remarked a change had taken place in the rock formation, which was abundantly shown by the dark colour and superior quality of the soil. It was a trap exceedingly porous, forming amygdaloid containing nodules of chalcedony. Upon reaching the extreme part of the ridge, we observed before us a very moderately undulated country, interspersed with patches of plain. A series of forest hills and intervening valleys furnishing abundance of grass, but perfectly destitute of water, succeeded in our course to the north throughout the succeeding seven miles. At length we arrived at a patch of forest ground, that had been recently fired, and as I was induced to believe, that as the natives had evidently passed through these woods within the last three days, water could not be far distant, I directed a diligent search to be made for it. In a mile further northerly to our great joy, a large clay hole was found containing an ample sufficiency of that precious element to meet all our [p95] demands, and although stagnant evidently for some months, was nevertheless of a good quality.

The pasture in several parts of this day’s stage was excellent considering the distress to which vegetation generally had been subjected by the drought of the year, and although the timbers were uniformly indifferent and chiefly of box, the general appearance seemed to augur that we are on the verge of an improving country north of us, and certainly of easy access.

25th May 1827

As I had been led to conclude, so we found the country, for we had not advanced a mile before we reached a patch of plain, of a rich black soil, bounded by low thinly wooded forest hills, which gave the whole a very pretty picturesque appearance. Over this plain we travelled N. by E. to the opposite piece of wooded land, passing which we came upon a second plain, stretching as did the former east and west several miles, their breadth being about a mile and a quarter. It was distressing, however, to observe so much fine black soil, sound, dry, and crumbling beneath the foot, as these plains possess, rich moreover in grasses and herbage, languishing for rain, and without channels of sufficient depth or capacity on their ample surface to retain water permanently throughout the year. A succession of open forest hills and waterless downs characterised the face of the country to the close of a journey of twelve miles, which terminated in a stony gully, in which after some search – ;e were fortunate to discover fine water, retained in narrow rocky cavities. Upon reaching the brow of the forest ridge, immediately over our encampment (which reduced from the observation at noon, was in 29 deg. 10 min. S.), the hills to the westward were observed to terminate, and a level open country, bounded on the N.N.W. and N. only by the very distant horizon, broke upon our view, which although it appeared for the most part very densely wooded (probably with small stunted trees) nevertheless exhibited patches of open plain, diversifying the otherwise monotonous aspect of a vast expanse of surface. I could perceive from the spot on which I made these observations the level country as far east as N.N.E., but the terminating points of all the eastern forest ridges, facing the west, projecting to an intersection of that line of bearing, my further observation easterly was prevented. The mean elevation above the sea of our tents was twelve hundred and twenty-eight feet, which placed us upwards of three hundred feet above the bed of Peel’s river. [p96]

26th May 1827

26th May 1827. Pursuing our journey to the N.N.E., through an extent exceeding five miles of barren forest ground, in part closely timbered with small ironbark, and interspersed with thickets of plants frequent on the skirts of Liverpool Plains, we at length intersected the sandy channels of a river, which in other seasons than the present must be highly important to the grazing flats on its bank, forming in periods of great rains a rapid stream, ten feet deep and fifty feet wide.

The distress of the season, so often spoken of in the narration of this journey, appeared, however, to have entirely deprived this ample channel of its waters, and as its sandy bed was in part overgrown by a brush of woody plants usually affecting arid desert situations, this circumstance alone afforded me the clearest proof of its having been dried up many months.

Amidst this dearth it was with surprise we noticed how extraordinarily the native grasses had resisted the dry weather on the upper bank of this dried watercourse. They were fresh, verdant, and doubtless nutritive, affording abundance of provision to the many kangaroos that were bounding around us.

On crossing this sandy channel we continued our original course (N.N.E.) over a plain or flat clear of trees, two miles wide, the soil of which we found excellent, but very dry, the surface exhibiting deep rents, occasioned by the action of the solar ray.

Apprehensive that we should not readily meet with water by pursuing the course we had preserved steadily since we set forth in the morning, I was induced, on passing over the brow of a ridge and observing a hilly country to the eastward, to alter my line of route to the E.N.E., in the hope of meeting with a sufficiency of that element for our horses and selves, in an advance of two or three miles, towards more elevated grounds.

Penetrating about two miles, through an arid desert forest, of a deep sandy soil, and timbered with cypress and red gum, we reached the rocky margin of a creek, by which the waters that fall from the hills to the eastward are conveyed to probably a greater channel, at a lower level in the neighbourhood. I was led to this inference, not simply from the bed of this creek forming a succession of falls, showing me its considerable dip to a lower country in the vicinity, but more especially from the numbers of the white cockatoo that appeared about us on the [p97] wing—these birds, it having been long remarked, flock about large rivers, as well in the colony as the interior beyond Bathurst.

Water being immediately found in the rocky excavations of this creek, and grass of an ordinary quality on its margin, I directed the party to halt and encamp.

27th May 1827

During the 27th (being Sunday) I rested my people and horses. The morning was exceedingly lowering, but as the day advanced it cleared sufficiently to allow me to take the necessary observations for the determination of our position. Their results placed us as follows on the chart: latitude observed 29 deg. 0.0 min. 0.2 sec. S.; longitude, by account, 150 deg. 40 min. 15 sec. E. Variation of compass, 7 deg. 53 min. E. The mean of several observations of the height of the mercurial column, taken morning and evening, gave us only an elevation of eight hundred and forty-two feet above the sea shore, which is lower than the bed of Peel’s river at our ford !

We had at length gained the parallel of 29 deg., and having consumed more than half of the original stock of provisions with which I had quitted the colony, it became absolutely necessary that I should at once determine, not only the distance to which I might possibly penetrate further to the northward with the limited means I have at command, after laying aside six weeks’ full rations for consumption during the journey homeward, but also the precise direction of our route onward, under all the circumstances of the reduced condition of my horses, the arid state of the country, and the aspect of the weather, that bear upon me, and that I must of necessity be governed by, in all my future movements. Upon inspecting my horses, I found that notwithstanding the extreme care of my people, the backs and sides of several had become much galled by their saddles, and all were much reduced and debilitated by the labour of the journey, the parched up state of the pasturage, and the general poverty of the country through which we had travelled. To these points of consideration I subjoined the circumstance of the low level to which we had descended, the barren country it presented and the probability that by pursuing our course further north (the declination of the country being evidently at that point of the compass), we should descend to an arid region of that scrubby country totally destitute of grass or esculent vegetable, where the lives of my horses would be placed in imminent danger. [p98]

Viewing all these circumstances as connected with my situation at this encampment, and regarding the preservation of my horses as paramount to every other consideration, I felt bound, although reluctantly, to determine on a deviation from the line of northern course the plan of my tour had prescribed.

I, therefore, resolved to pursue my journey more to the eastward, not only to secure to my half famished horses a more certain and nutritive provision than that on which they had for some time past subsisted, which it was reasonable to suppose the higher lands in that direction would furnish, but also with the view of connecting (upon penetrating to the meridian of 152 deg., and north to the parallel of 28 deg.) my sketch of those parts of the interior through which we have travelled with the country in the vicinity of Moreton Bay, by bearings to such of its fixed points as I might identify, and especially to the cone of Mount Warning. The rocks of the creek on which we had rested is a friable freestone, of a much whiter colour than is usually to be observed. The gully appeared to have been the resort of the few natives of these desert regions, who have from period to period availed themselves of the softness of the rocks, to form edges to their mogos or hatchets of stone of a harder description. The traces of these operations, as well of a distant period as of recent date, were observed on the surface of the stony ledges in various parts of the creek. Among the birds observed about our tents we remarked a parrot of large size not heretofore seen. The feathers of its head were snow white, whilst its body appeared of an uniform green ; the wings, which were also of that color, presenting on their outer sides a brownish hue. Only two birds of this species were seen at the water holes, probably the male and female, and they proved so shy that no opportunity was afforded to shoot them.

28th May 1827

28th, Monday. The inference I had drawn from the structure of the creek, and the presence of the white cockatoo, of the existence of a river in the neighbourhood, proved this morning to be perfectly just, for we had not proceeded three miles to the N.N.E., through a continuation of desert, before we came to the left bank of a stream, presenting a handsome reach, half a mile in length, thirty yards wide, and evidently very deep. Its bed, which was of a gravel containing many large water-worn pebbles of quartz and jasper, was skirted by lofty swamp oaks, bearing on their branches flood marks at least twenty feet above its channel. [p98] When, therefore, its waters are swollen to that height, it forms a rapid river from eighty to one hundred yards in breadth, as I ascertained by the measured distance of the outer banks from each other, on which the gigantic swamp oaks grow.

This stream, which received the name of Dumaresq’s river, in honour of the family, to which His Excellency the Governor is so intimately connected, rises in a mountainous country to the N.E., at an elevation (determined in the progress of this journey) of nearly three thousand feet above the sea shore, and after pursuing a western course for about one hundred miles, along a considerable declivity of country, falls two thousand one hundred feet to the spot at which we had crossed its channel, the perpendicular height of which above the ocean, [6] I found by barometrical admeasurement to be only eight hundred and forty feet, which is about the mean level of the northern sides of Liverpool Plains. Tracing the left bank up, about half a mile, we found a ford, which enabled us to cross over safely, and resume our journey to the N.N.E.

Passing over some stony ridges of trifling elevation immediately on the right bank of the river, we penetrated about eleven miles through an arid sandy forest ground wooded with small iron-bark and cypress.

Upon accomplishing our fourteenth mile (by the odometer) the country continued nearly a perfect level, clothed with small blighted timber and much scrubby underwood, but without the smallest indication of water, which, however, could not be hoped for in a region the surface of which we found so generally coated with a loose reddish sand to the depth of several inches.

In this situation we found ourselves at an advanced hour of the afternoon, and as the sun was rapidly declining on the lower levels westerly, it became necessary to determine at once on the course we should pursue onward, since by continuing our route at N.N.E. it appeared evident we should penetrate more deeply into the midst of the desert. As there appeared a slight depression of country easterly, I directed my people to the north-east, and at the same time despatched a man at that point to search for water. Another mile brought us to a broad, but flat, shallow sandy channel, dipping to the N.N.E., in which was [p100] found a waterhole just dry. With renovated hopes we traced it downwards, and finding many proofs of the recent existence of water on the surface, continued about one and a half miles further, when a small pool was discovered, fringed around with the aquatic plant, known to botanists by the name philydrum lanuginosum. At this small pond, scarcely six feet in diameter, we most gladly halted, after accomplishing a long stage of nineteen miles, through a tract of country, in the extremes of sterility, quite destitute of water, and in an atmospheric temperature of 75 degs. The thermometer at sunset stood at 70 deg., and the mean results of barometrical computation showed me that we were even lower than the bed of Dumaresq’s river: our encampment was only eight hundred and eleven feet above the level of the ocean.

29th May 1827

Early on the morning of the 29th we quitted our resting place, on which my half famished horses had scarcely found a blade of grass, and continuing our course to the N.N.E., almost immediately passed beyond the sandy surface to that of a stiff clay, inducing me to hope we were on the verge of a better country, although the level continued the same. In this we were not deceived, for we had scarcely effected two miles before we reached the bank of a small river, falling westerly, about fifteen yards wide, presenting at this season simply the disunited form of a chain of stagnant deep ponds or reaches a quarter of a mile in length. Traversing the level forest flat, through which this rivulet winds its course, we immediately entered a thick brush of cypress and acacia, and having penetrated, with great difficulty to the horses, about two miles to the N.E., rain, which had been threatening since daybreak, began to fall, with every appearance of continuing throughout the day. Totally ignorant of the extent of this thicket, which towered over our heads to the height of twenty-five feet, or to what distance we should be obliged to travel before we again found water, I deemed it prudent to return to the rivulet we had left, and encamp. This we effected just about noon, in time to square an observation of the meridional altitude of the sun, between the showers, which placed us, in consequence of our extraordinary stage of the preceding day, as far north as 28 deg. 45 min. ¾ sec.

30th May 1827

30th. The fineness of the morning, after a continued rain throughout the preceding night, invited us to advance forward at an early hour, our burdened horses having, moreover, been materially benefited by the grazing they had met with on [p101] the margin of the rivulet on which we had rested. The remarks I had already made on the seeming extent of the northern brushes, led me to hope that an E.N.E. course would carry us perfectly clear of those almost impervious thickets. On this course, however, we had not proceeded two miles before we discovered, with more than ordinary concern, that their greater body stretched across our line of route to due east.

There was therefore no alternative left us but to enter them, with the hope that by pursuing steadily our course we should more readily reach a clearer open forest, on their north- eastern side. It was nine o’clock when we passed their southern margin, and although their breadth did not exceed two miles, such were the difficulties to the baggage horses, that we were nearly three hours in effecting a passage through to a patch of clear forest ground, through which we were enabled to pursue our way to the north-east upwards of a mile, when we were most agreeably surprised to meet with a rivulet bending from the eastward to the north-west, the forest ground on either side furnishing a richer and altogether more luxuriant growth of young grass than we had met with at any stage of our journey. It was a subject of great astonishment to us to meet with so beautiful a sward of grass, permanently watered by an active stream, after traversing that tract of desert forest, and penetrating brushes the extremes of sterility in its immediate vicinity. The presence of a fine piece of pasturage on the banks of a beautiful stream, in parts fifteen yards in width, to which I gave the name of Macintyre’s Brook, [7] after my friend at Segenhoe, again induced me to cherish the hope that we were on the confines of a better country. We had, however, difficulties new and fresh to encounter ere the labours of the day were closed.

Leaving Macintyre’s Brook, which occupied us some little time in fording, owing to its depth and extraordinary rapidity of its current, we resumed our course to the N.E. Compact thickets of like description with those we had passed again stretched from east to west, over a surface of country so truly level as to afford us, as far as we could observe, not the slightest [p101] rise whence any observation might have been made of the extent of these jungles, or the direction, supposing them to be strips and not extensive bodies, in which they were disposed in these arid regions. Finding ourselves thus hemmed in, and altogether with a very discouraging prospect before us, I nevertheless determined to persevere on my course to the N.E., bearing, however, in mind that should we fail in our endeavours to effect a passage through them to more open grounds, after a few hours’ exertion, we could at least return on our track to the brook, where our horses would rest on good pasture, and on the bank of which we might subsequently pursue our way to the eastward ; although, perhaps, on a course in the first instance not better than E.S.E. As these thickets from their very margin presented a density almost impervious to pack horses, I directed an active man to follow me with an axe, to remove every obstacle that might prevent their passing forward in the course I endeavoured steadily to pursue. In many parts the quantities of fallen timber were considerable, and the stems of an acacia (fifteen feet high) Were so closely grown together, and interwoven with other plants, as to present at first view a barrier altogether impenetrable. However, a laborious circuitous route enabled us to avoid those intricacies, and as we subsequently came upon small patches much thinner brushed, and more open to the sun and air, whereon the wearied horses were allowed to breathe, we were encouraged in no ordinary degree to advance forward. Thus we continued until an advanced hour of the afternoon, when having cut a passage about four miles for the horses, we were rejoiced to reach an open clear forest, through which we pushed our way to the N.E. without further inconvenience. Meeting with a chain of ponds in about three miles, I was exceedingly glad to rest, as both men and horses were sinking beneath the labours of the day. The course and distance made good, notwithstanding the difficulties of the stage, being E. 41 N., magnetic eleven miles.

31st May 1827

31st May 1827. The day’s stage to the northward and eastward was extended through a rising wooded country, consisting of stony hills of moderate elevation and narrow shallow valleys, often brushed with the prevailing acacia of the country, and very indifferently watered.

At our fourteenth mile we came unexpectedly on a patch of good grass on a flat heavily timbered with blue gum, where, [p103] upon finding a sufficiency of water, I halted. From the summit of an open elevated forest ridge, which I climbed in the earlier period of this day’s stage, an extensive view was afforded me of the country at all points. At an estimated distance of, perhaps, eighty miles, I perceived an apparently low detached range, stretched east and west, from N. 2 deg. W. to N. 12 deg. ; and, somewhat more easterly, another range, pointed in the centre, bearing N.N.E., was remarked, the country around them being exceedingly level. Hence, looking easterly, the country appeared to rise progressively, and ridges of more than ordinary elevation extended towards loftier ranges, which may probably be perceived from the coast line. From W.S.W., by the way of west, and thence to north, the eye became fatigued by traversing a vast expanse of level internal country, without the slightest rise of surface to relieve the sameness of the scene, and bounded only by the horizon. [8]

1st to 3rd June 1827

1st to 3rd June 1827 Onward we pursued our course to the E.N.E., and throughout a space exceeding twenty miles penetrated for the most part a barren and altogether an uninteresting country, frequently of broken stony irregular surface, forming low ridges clothed with a scrubby vegetation, which occasionally dropped into slight concavities, scarcely to be denominated valleys, equally sterile. But even in the midst of a line of country so generally destitute of vegetable product sufficient to sustain animal life, we were fortunate enough to meet with small isolated spots on which to rest, providing us some little grass or herbage, and water for our burdened horses.

2nd June 1827

On the evening of the 2nd we halted on the margin of a stony gully, and, giving my people and horses rest during the following day, I determined our position on the chart as follows : lat. observed, 28 deg. 17 min. 49 sec. S.; long., by account, 151 deg. 22 min. E. ; variation of the compass, 7 deg. 36 min. E.

The mean elevation of our encampment above the level of the sea, one thousand four hundred arid four feet.

4th June 1827

4th. During last week we penetrated in a north-eastern course a country rising progressively in altitude, yet exceedingly bare of esculent vegetation ; nevertheless, situated as we were, we could not possibly pursue a better line of route. I, therefore, [p104] on the morning of the 4th continued our journey in that direction by ascending a succession of rather heavily timbered forest ridges, of easy acclivity, but rough and stony, to the feet of our enfeebled horses.

At our third mile, whilst in the act of passing over the brow of one of these hills, the voices of natives were distinctly heard. Almost immediately we perceived several of these Indians in motion among the timber, not, however, before they had had, for some moments, the first gaze of surprise at us, as the trunks of the trees, being as black as their bodies, had prevented our perceiving them as quickly.

I happened to be accompanied by only one of my people, others being with the pack horses at another part of the rising ground beyond the natives, where the acclivity was more moderate. On my calling to the pack horse leaders, the natives stood and viewed us at the distance of about one hundred yards, occasionally retiring behind the trees, and again walking about in great uneasiness. The spot was ground on which they were bivouacking with their women and children, whose respective voices we distinctly heard ; they therefore could not leave their fires with that precipitation which their great alarm, induced by our presence, would evidently have urged. The instant, however, my people replied to my call from the gully whence they were ascending to me, the agitation of the natives became extreme, they therefore, having already hurried away the gins (women) and little ones, ran off with the utmost despatch through the brushy woods to the north of us. I could have wished to have brought about a communication with these Indians had the whole of my party been with me, or had we met each other on more open ground than a close brushy forest, for I felt perfectly satisfied that as soon as their fears had been removed by our pacific overtures to them, they would have proved themselves of friendly disposition, as they neither made me any reply, or appeared in the least disposed to place themselves in menacing attitude, or exhibited their weapons to deter us from approaching them. Under the circumstances, however, of our meeting, I deemed it prudent so soon as I perceived them to stand still until they had made their little arrangements to depart. I would have advanced quickly upon them, but the consequence might have been serious to us, as we had no arms at the time, and these people might have disputed [p105] the ground with us on the score of the women and children, whom Nature teaches even the savage it is a duty in man, as a husband and parent, to protect. Before my people had joined me they had passed the fires of these Indians, which were seven in number, and about them they recognised the bones of bandicoots and the bustard (of which bird the feathers were strewed around), upon the flesh of which these savages had been feasting.

Upon joining again, we continued our journey, and immediately quitting the more open forest ground entered a dense brush of acacia, dairesice, &c, the wand-like stems of which, indurated by fire, proving a serious annoyance to us. By dint of great bodily exertion to man and horse, we penetrated about four miles through a body of thicket ten feet high, and upon making the open forest ground on its eastern skirts we traced a narrow valley, falling easterly, in search of water. We followed the vale about a mile and a half, when meeting with water in a stagnant state, I was obliged to halt, although on a spot furnishing but little grass, it being after sunset, and my horses were greatly distressed by the length and difficulty of the day’s stage.

5th June 1827

5th June 1827. The smokes which we had for the last two days observed to rise from the country to the northward and eastward of us, considered with the frequent screeching in that direction of the white cockatoo (a bird loving to inhabit forest land in the neighbourhood of rivers), fully satisfied me that we were on the verge of a desirable country. At our usual hour of departure in the morning we hastened from the spot on which we had passed the previous night, pursuing our way in an E.N.E. direction.

Beyond a patch of stony forest ground of rather open character, we crossed (at our second mile) a rocky creek dipping easterly, having some clear pools of water in its channel, and grass on its margin. From the pitch of a ridge immediately above this watercourse, we had a most agreeable though confined view of an extensive range of open country, lying in the direction of our course, which from its ample feature and prospect, I doubted not would in its examination abundantly reward all our labours in penetrating to it through a considerable tract of desert country, stretching back to the southward of the parallel of 29 deg. A hollow in the forest ridge immediately [p106] before us allowed me distinctly to perceive that at a distance of eight or nine miles, open plains or downs of great extent appeared to extend easterly to the base of a lofty range of mountains, lying north and south, distant by estimation about thirty miles. With the fullest expectation of being able to reach the western margin of these downs at an . early period of the day, we proceeded forward with a quickened pace, through an open grazing forest, to our eighth mile, when our observed latitude proved to be 28 deg. 11 min. 10 sec. S. Already had the land become much thinner of timber, and we had not advanced half a mile further, before we came upon a patch of open plain, skirted by a low ridge of forest hills on its western and by a closely wooded forest ground on the opposite point.

On climbing a low stony ridge in our way, it was really with the greatest satisfaction that we perceived we had approached within two miles of the Downs, and as small patches or strips of mist extended throughout their whole length, and a line of swamp oak stretched along their south-western extreme, it was clearly shown us that these extensive tracts of timberless land were not wanting in water. Upon accomplishing a journey of thirteen miles (the last one extending over a commencement of the great plains) we arrived at the left bank of a small river, about fifteen yards in breadth, having a brisk current to the N.W. There was in all parts of its channel, in the neighbourhood of the spot at which we had made it, very deep water, which affording every encouragement to my people to employ a period of the afternoon in fishing, I sent them away along the left bank, furnishing each with hooks and lines.

In the meanwhile I obtained some sets of lunar distances with the sun, the mean results of which gave me for the meridian of my tent 151 deg. 39 min. 45 sec, ; but as the accurately measured distance between it and the north-easternmost encampment of this journey (the situation of which was determined by several observations aided by correct bearings, to certain fixed points on the coast line) upon being reduced, placed the position of my encampment 1¾ min. to the eastward, its situation may be stated as follows : longitude 151 deg., 41 min. 30 sec. E. : latitude, by observation at noon of 5th, 28 deg. 9 min, 37 sec. S. : its mean elevation above the sea shore, by the barometer, being one thousand four hundred and two feet. [p107]

The anglers caught several fine cod, and whilst thus successfully occupied on the bank of the river, three natives were remarked in the adjoining forest ground on the opposite bank firing the dried herbage of these woods; they did not, however, venture to approach towards my people, but without manifesting the least alarm, walked leisurely away to the more distant parts of the forest.

6th June 1827

6th. Immediately after noon of the 6th we quitted our resting place, and proceeding up the river about half a mile, crossed to the opposite bank, at a ford previously discovered by one of my party. From this stream, which I named Condamine’s river in compliment to the officer, who is Aide-de-Camp to his Excellency the Governor, we entered upon the extensive downs before us, pursuing our way to the E.N.E., along their southern margin. During the afternoon of the 6th and following day, we travelled throughout their whole extent, to the base of the mountainous land that bounds them on their eastern extreme, and in the progress of our journey made the following general observations on their apparent extent, soil, and capability. These extensive tracts of open country, which I subsequently named (by permission) Darling Downs, in honour of His Excellency the Governor, are situate in or about the mean parallel of 28 deg. 8 min. S., along which they extend east eighteen miles, to the meridian of 152 deg. On their northern side they are bounded by a very gentle rise of lightly wooded ridge, and on their opposite margin, by a level forest of box and white gum of ordinary timber. A chain of deep ponds, supported by streams from the lofty ranges immediately to the eastward, passes along the central lower flats of these downs, throughout their whole length, and uniting in seasons of heavy falls westerly into Condamine’s river. Their breadth varies in different parts of their lengthened surface, appearing at their western extremity not to exceed one and a half miles, whilst towards their eastern limits it was estimated at three miles. The lower parts, by a deeply grooved water course, form flats, which in consequence of their permanent moisture furnish a very considerable range of cattle pasture, at all seasons of the year-—the grasses and herbage exhibiting generally in the depth of winter an extraordinary luxuriance of growth. Among the mass of excellent vegetation produced on these flats, no plant appeared more striking in its growth than a species of rib-grass [p108] (plantago Struthionis) which I had formerly described, the leaves of which measured from twelve to fifteen inches in length.

From these central grounds rise downs of a rich black and dry soil, which extend several miles to the eastward, and, as they furnish an abundance of grass, and are conveniently watered, yet perfectly beyond the reach of those irrigations which take place on the flats in wet seasons, they constitute a most valuable sound sheep pasture, the permanently dry nature of which may be inferred from the fact of there being a difference of three hundred feet between their upper or eastern limit and Condamine’s river, as shown by the mean results of barometrical admeasurement.

7th June 1827

Towards the close of the afternoon of the 7th, having gained the forest ground on the eastern verge of the downs, we continued our course to the northward and eastward about one and a-half miles, through a truly beautiful apple-tree forest, abounding in kangaroos, when, upon reaching the base of a remarkable flat-topped mount, forming the termination of a portion of the lateral range to which I had taken a bearing when twenty-five miles to the S.W., I encamped on the bank of a narrow creek, furnishing plenty of water, and upon a patch of the finest meadow pasturage I have seen in New South Wales.

Here I gave my wearied horses two days’ rest, some having been reduced to a state of extreme debility, and all having suffered considerably in condition by the severity of the journey from Liverpool Plains.

Whilst, therefore, they were recovering a degree of strength, by rest and good sound pasture, I was busily engaged examining the dark brushes which clothed the adjacent mountain from its base to its very summit, the vegetation of which appeared altogether tropical.

8th June 1827

The morning of the 8th proving exceedingly fine, I set out from the encampment, accompanied by one of my party, to ascend the table mount above our tents, from the elevated summit of which I had promised myself an extensive prospect around. After pushing our way through a mass of dense thicket investing the foot and flank of this eminence, we gained an open spot on its flat summit in about two hours, and were gratified exceedingly by the extensive view afforded us of the country from north by the way of west, and thence to S. and S.S.E. to the more remarkable points of which bearings were taken. [p109]

At N.N.W., and especially at N., the country presented a broken and irregular surface, forming a series of heavily timbered ridges, extending laterally from the more elevated chain of mountains immediately to the eastward, and which, stretching in the direction of the meridian, appeared to constitute the main or dividing range of this part of the interior.

From the N.W. to west, and thence to south, the eye surveyed a vast expanse of open country, tame and uninteresting in the distance, but exhibiting within a range of twenty miles every feature of hill and dale, woodland and plain, to diversify the ample outstretched landscape.

Large cleared patches of land lying to the north of Darling Downs were named Peel’s Plains, whilst others, bearing to the S. and S.E. of my ample undulated surface, were entitled Canning Downs, in honour of the late Right Hon. George Canning, The extent of these downs easterly we were unable from the point on which we stood to observe, but on the south they were bounded by a lofty ridge of hills, lying nearly east and west, which was named Harris Range.

Directing the view to the N.W. beyond Peel’s Plains an immeasurable expanse of flat country met the eye, on which not the slightest eminence could be observed to interrupt the common level, which, in consequence of the very clear state of the atmosphere, could be discerned to a very distant blue line of horizon, verging on the parallel of 27 deg. and meridian of 151 deg.

Extremely gratifying as it was to take a bird’s eye survey of so extensive a range of pastoral country as appeared beneath us (the discovery of which had recompensed us for the privations we had met with in our journey, extending by admeasurement three hundred and forty statute miles from Hunter’s river), still the question arose in my mind from what point so fine a country could be approached, seeing that at E. and N.E., in the direction of Moreton Bay, a very lofty range of mountains immediately bounding us constituted a barrier very difficult to be passed.

As all observation easterly towards the coast-line was thus prevented, we descended to the tents, heavy weather having come on from the north.

This flat-topped eminence, which I observed formed the north-western angle of a body of lateral hills, extending from [p110] the leading range of these mountains, was named Mount Dumaresq, and along its northern side a grassy valley, stretching from the Great Downs north-easterly to the immediate foot of the main range, received the appellation of Millar’s Valley.

Rain having set in, it continued almost without intermission for forty-eight hours, until the morning of the 10th inst, when fair weather was again restored to us, and we quitted our encamping ground with the intention of penetrating towards the higher points of these mountains, from the summits of which I expected to obtain bearings to fixed points on the coast, so extremely important to me at this stage of my journey.

10th June 1827

Pursuing a course to the south at the base of a thickly-wooded ridge, stretching from Mount Dumaresq, about four miles to a second hill of tabular figure, we passed round its foot, and altering our course to north-east entered a very beautiful grassy vale, bounded by lofty lateral ridges, and like Millar’s Valley, leading directly to the base of the principal range.

Advancing about five miles up this vale, which I named after Captain Logan, the present indefatigable commandant of the penal settlement at Moreton Bay, I again halted on a small brook meandering through to the south—a remarkable double- headed mount of the main range, bearing N.E. by E. about ten miles. Dense brushy forests, clothing the bases of the lateral ridges immediately overlooking our encampment, were productive of a number of curious plants not before known ; and it was in these shades I first clearly and satisfactorily recognized the pine (araucaria) which I had formerly observed in greater numbers in the dark brushes of the Brisbane River.

As the ridges in the neighbourhood appeared likely from their considerable elevation to afford me a commanding view of the country at all points of the compass, I determined to occupy two or three days in this vale, taking such observations as were necessary to enable me to determine my present position on the chart, whilst my horses were acquiring a degree of strength to meet the further labours of my journey.

11th June 1827

11th June 1827. A sharp frost; the thermometer at seven o’clock sank to 30 degrees. Having directed the occupations of the people during the day, I proceeded (accompanied by one of my party) to climb the steep ridge immediately above us. In an hour we gained its summit, but found other ranges not to be seen from our tents, although of greater elevation, interrupted [p111] our view to the eastward; we continued upon a gradual ascent from one tier of ranges to another and generally in a north- eastern direction, until about 3 p.m., when we gained the loftiest point of the lateral range, immediately connected with the main ridge of this stupendous chain of mountains, which even towered above us at a distance of about two miles.

Some hollow parts, however, of this extreme ridge enabled me to overlook portions of the country in the vicinity of Moreton Bay, as also most distinctly to perceive distant lands situate at the base of the Mount Warning Ranges, the cone of which we clearly saw crowning that group of mountains at an estimated distance of seventy-six miles. To this lofty pinnacle, as also to another fixed point near the coast-line, accurate bearings were taken, ere some fresh breezes brought up clouds and heavy rain from the southward, which soon veiled those extensive regions from further observation.

The cone of Mount Warning bore east 9 degrees south seventy miles by estimation ; High Peak, of Flinders’ chart, north 50 degrees east, about twenty-five miles. The spot on which the tents stood in Logan Vale, bearing west 44 degrees south about five miles.

Had the weather continued favourable it would have been important to have examined the main range, with the view of ascertaining far a passage could be effected over it to the Brisbane river country, from which point only the very interesting pastoral country lying on the western side of these mountains appears at all accessible. A very singular deeply excavated part of the range, bearing from my station on the lateral ridge N.N.E. was, however, remarked, to the pitch of which the acclivity from the head’ of Millar’s Valley seemed very moderate, and as this gap appeared likely to prove on examination a very practicable pass through these formidable mountains, I determined to employ a day in exploring it.

These mountains, to the western base of which we approached from a sterile southern region, form the dividing range in this part of the country, and give rise to waters falling as well on the coast, as westerly to the distant interior; and as the barometrical observations made on the lateral range gave a result of three thousand seven hundred and thirty-five feet, and the extreme ridge appeared at least three hundred feet higher, [p112] its elevation above the level of the sea may be considered about four thousand one hundred feet.

The forest ridges, which were heavily timbered with stringy bark of great bulk, were found clothed to their summits with grasses of the most luxuriant growth, and being well watered by numerous trickling rills, originating between the shoulders of the hills, constitute a very spacious range of the richest cattle pasture.

Upon examining the hollow back of the mountain ridge, it was found to be very rugged and difficult, large masses of rock having fallen down from the lands on each side into the gap, which was overgrown with strong twining plants. Immediately to the south, however, the range presented a very moderate surface, over which a line of road might be constructed without much labour, as the rise from Millar’s Valley proved by no means abrupt, and the fall easterly from the range to the forest ground at its base appeared of singularly easy declivity. Looking north-easterly the eye wandered with pleasure over a fine open grazing country, very moderately timbered, with patches of clear plain, and detached wooded ridges to diversify the surface; and in no part did there appear the slightest obstacle to prevent a communication either with the southern shores of Moreton Bay or the banks of the Brisbane river.

In taking a general view of the very superior country at which the labours of my party terminated northerly, it was gratifying to observe the range of luxuriant pasturage, [9] this subject of our discovery, in its plains, rising downs, open wood- lands, valleys, and even elevated forest ranges has thrown open to our most extensive flocks and herds, in a genial climate and at an elevation of one thousand eight hundred feet above the sea shore.

Its timbers, moreover, add to its importance. The summit and flanks of the ranges produce great abundance of well-grown stringy-bark, whilst the lower ridges furnish stately pine of the species already well-known on the Brisbane, varying from sixty to eighty feet in height, and as small saplings of the red cedar [p113] were observed on the margin of the brushes investing the base of the hills large trees of this valuable wood are doubtless to be met with in their more distant recesses. Although neither coal nor limestone were found in this tract of country, a quarry of freestone, seemingly well adapted to building, could be easily opened on the bank of a creek about two miles south of the Logan Vale. In fine, upon the consideration that we are occupying a country in which (in the absence of navigable rivers) an expensive land carriage must ever be resorted to in the conveyance of produce of the inland to the coast, the value of this extensive range of pastoral country is not a little enhanced by its proximity to the sea shore, and the seeming facility with which (we may reasonably conclude from the moderate appearance of the interjacent country to the eastward of these mountains) the fleeces of its growth, as well as the general produce of its soil, will at some future time be borne down to the shores of Moreton Bay. The base of these mountains is a compact whinstone ; on the higher ridges was observed amygdaloid of the trap formation, with nodules of quartz; whilst the summit exhibited a porphyritic rock, very porous, containing numerous minute quartzose crystallizations.

The situation of the tents in Logan Vale was determined as follows:—latitude, by meridional altitude of the sun, 28 deg. 10 min. 45 sec. S. ; longitude, deduced by the mean of several sets of lunar distances with the sun and fixed star (Antares) compared with that given by account, and corrected by bearings taken to fixed points on or near the coast line, 152 deg. 7 min. 45 sec. E. The variation of the magnetic needle was found to be 8 deg. 18 min. east; the mean elevation of the spot above the level of the sea, as derived from barometrical measurement, was one thousand eight hundred and seventy-seven feet, and its distance from the penal settlement on the Brisbane river was estimated at seventy-five statute miles to the south-west.

Although very recent traces of natives were remarked in different parts of the vale, in which we remained encamped about a week, only a solitary aborigine (a man of ordinary stature) was seen, who in wandering forth from his retreat in quest of food chanced to pass the tents.

Immediately, however, upon an attempt of one of my people to approach him, he retired in great alarm to the adjacent brushes, at the foot of the boundary hills, and instantly [p114] disappeared. It therefore seemed probable that he had not previously seen white men, and possibly might never have had any communication with the natives inhabiting the country on the eastern side of the Dividing Range, from whom he could have acquired such information of (he existence of a body of white strangers on the banks of the Brisbane, and their friendly disposition towards his countrymen as might have induced him to have met with confidence our overtures to effect an amicable communication. In the progress of our journey northerly, it was remarked that the plants of those portions of the interior lying between the parallels of 32 deg. and 28 deg. differ but little from the characteristic vegetation of the temperate parts of this country generally—the many unpublished species which were discovered in the course of the journey, belonging for the most part to genera, characterising the flora of the colony and country immediately adjacent. Upon reaching the parallel of 28 deg. S., however, under the meridian of 152 deg., a very decided change takes place in the vegetable productions ; the brushes which densely invest the base and sides of the lateral ranges, being on examination found to be of plants hitherto only observed at Moreton Bay, and in the intertropical parts of this continent.

As I had now occupied several days in a partial examination of the very interesting country around me, I became exceedingly desirous to resume my journey. As my horses, notwithstanding the benefit they had derived from rest and good pasture during our stay in Logan Vale, were all much debilitated, and my stock of provisions considerably reduced, I felt reluctantly compelled to relinquish the tour I had originally contemplated towards the western marshes, especially as the appearances of the weather at the change of the moon had led me to apprehend a period of heavy rain was about to succeed the protracted season of drought. I therefore determined to prosecute my journey homeward in the meridian (152 deg.) to which I had penetrated, with as much dispatch as the nature of the country and the low condition of my horses would permit. Moreover, on resolving on this line of course, I considered I should ascertain what the country is lying equidistant between the coast line and my outward tract from Hunter’s river, and upon my daily observations, geographical and otherwise, should on my return to the colony be more fully enabled to embody the [p115] chart of that pact of our interior comprehended within the parallels of 28 deg. and 31 deg.

16th June 1827

Accordingly upon quitting Logan Vale, on the morning of the 16th, we commenced our journey to the southward through a fine open forest country, abounding in excellent pasture and tolerable timber, and watered by a reedy creek falling westerly, evidently into Condamine’s river. In about nine miles we reached the north-eastern skirts of Canning Downs, which, in pursuing our course to the south, we crossed at a part where their breadth to the opposite margin did not exceed two miles. These downs, however, the extent of which could not be estimated, as only a limited portion of them could be seen whilst traversing their undulated surface, stretched several miles to the westward of our line of route, and throughout this length are watered by a deep channeled brook, originating in the dividing range to the eastward, which ultimately forms one of the branches of Condamine’s river. Towards the close of the day, having continued my journey to the south, through a heavily timbered forest of box, gum and casuarina (oak), but slightly elevated above the mean level of the downs, which were found by barometrical measurement to be fifteen hundred feet above the sea shore, I was induced to rest my horses at a chain of small ponds, furnishing some tolerable grass on their edge, having made a stage of fifteen miles from Logan Vale. The observations made on the following day (Sunday) at the encampment, placed us on the chart in latitude 28 deg. 21 min. 17 sec. S., longitude 152 deg. 0.2 min. E., an azimuth giving us 6 deg. 8 min. easterly variation.

18th June 1827

Early on the morning of the 18th we again set out on our journey to the southward, and immediately on quitting the dry forest ground, came upon a marshy plain, which appeared to extend several miles to the S.E., having a deep swamp oak creek winding through its centre from the towering ranges immediately on our left. Passing this creek with some difficulty we pursued our course to the S.S.E., through an undulated rising forest of iron bark and red gum, in many parts of which we remarked the traces of natives, of, however, no recent date. Penetrating about six miles through a singularly uninteresting tract of wooded land, productive of diminutive timber, we at length perceived before us a broken and mountainous country, and around us a change of geological structure to a formation [p116] not previously met with in any stage of our journey. The rock was a very hard granite, with the quartz, which was remarked greatly to preponderate, unusually large.

Finding abundance of water in a stony gully, the tents were set up in a sandy spot shown by the barometer to be elevated about three hundred and fifty feet above Canning Downs.

19th June 1827

During the 19th and 20th June we prosecuted our journey among a group of primitive mountains, which appeared to expand before, us into lofty precipitous ranges, extending far to the southward. Immediately on quitting our encamping ground on the morning of the 19th, we descended between large isolated blocks of granite, to the channel of a small rivulet flowing over a pavement of the same formation with a rapidity that clearly demonstrated a very considerable dip of its bed towards a deep ravine, the bendings of which we could distinctly trace southerly among the mountains. Crossing this stream, our course led us again to its bend, among the undulations of the rocky surface of the valley through which it urged its rapid course, and having a second time forded it with great difficulty to the horses, I directed my course to the hills immediately bounding the vale to the eastward. Again we were interrupted in our progress by a narrow but deep creek of turbid water, flowing from that point to the brook. Finding it was impossible to cross its channel, we were obliged to seek a practicable ford in the rocky bed of the brook, which, a third time passing, we climbed the lofty forest hills on the western side, and having gained their extreme ridge, we found the travelling through a forest of large stringy bark remarkably easy. My horses had, however, laboured hard among the hills in the earlier periods of the day; I was, therefore, glad to rest them about four o’clock, at a rill of water we had discovered falling over some granite rocks into the glen beneath.

On the following morning intending to pursue our course to the southward throughout the day as far as the acclivity of the hills among which we had penetrated would allow the horses to travel, we resumed our journey. After traversing a succession of forest ridges, of comparatively easy acclivity, about seven miles, a bold mountainous country appeared before us, extending from S.E. by the way of S. to W.S.W. At noon, when our latitude by observation was 28 deg. 35 min. 30 sec. S., we had gained a commanding point on a range exceeding two thousand [p117] five hundred feet above the sea shore, whence a clear and extensive view of a curiously irregularly featured country to the eastward was afforded me.

In that direction bearings were taken to some very remarkable detached cupola shaped mountains, distant from fifteen to twenty miles, and beyond these singular eminences a moderately undulated tract of open country was perceived extending apparently to the western foot of the Mount Warning Ranges, the faint blue outline of which could be distinctly traced, although its very elevated cone (which was probably enveloped in clouds) was not discernible. Continuing on the back of the range in a south-westerly direction another mile, I was obliged to close the labours of the day at an early hour, as the horses, having been pushed beyond their strength, were sinking beneath their burdens, amidst the difficulties of a brushy underwood, with which parts of these elevated ridges were found most densely clothed. At the close of the day, the mercurial column had sunk lower at this encampment than had been observed at any other station of the journey, since we passed the dividing range at Hunter’s river. The data it furnished on being computed gave a mean elevation of two thousand five hundred and ninety-two feet above the sea shore, which at Cape Byron bore as deduced by the observed latitude at noon E.. ¼ deg. N. true, ninety-three statute miles. At this elevated encampment on the range we were confined to our tents by continued rains, during the three following days, and although our detention on the summit of a ridge of mountains, surrounded by difficulties, was exceedingly unpleasant to us, it was nevertheless a relief to me to observe our horses had acquired great freshness and activity by the rest our stay had afforded them, and the excellent grazing these elevated regions furnished.

23rd June 1827

The wind having veered round from the eastward to the W.N.W., on the evening of the 23rd the weather broke, and a clear sky succeeded ; at night, however, clouds again rose from eastward, and rain fell in heavy showers, continuing until about midnight, when the wind again shifting to the westward and blowing almost a gale, the water-charged clouds, which were suspended over the mountains, were drawn back to the coast, and established fine, and settled weather followed.

24th June 1827

We therefore, on the morning of the 24th, most gladly broke up our encampment, proceeding in the first instance about half a mile to the E.S.E., in order to cross a brook in the [p118] neighbourhood. This stream we found exceedingly swollen and rapid, by the waters that it had collected from the higher grounds during the late rains ; we, however, forded it without difficulty, and leaving it to tumble its accumulated waters over large blocks of granite into the bosom of a neighbouring glen, we proceeded our journey southerly, over a succession of lofty ranges heavily timbered with gums, beneath the shade of which fern and underwood were interspersed, rendering the travelling exceedingly harassing to my horses. Upon gaining a greater elevation, we passed from these shaded forests to open scrubs, and spongy swamps overflowed by late rains, which, in aspect, were very similar to those of our Blue Mountain ranges, and the plants, although the rock was granite, were for the most part of alike description.

25th June 1827

At noon of the 25th, I found the latitude of a bleak barren spot upon these mountains, two thousand nine hundred and nine feet above the level of the ocean, to be 26 deg. 44 min. 48 sec. S.; its longitude, reduced from the meridian of Logan Vale, being about 151 deg, 58 min. 45 sec. E. From this point we continued our journey about five miles, nearly on the same level, and over equally barren ground, when, upon descending slightly in a swampy valley, the tents were again set up ; our barometer at sunset showing us that we were on a level but a few feet lower than our station at noon.

26th June 1827

26th June 1827. At an early hour we proceeded to leave this marshy valley, southerly, with some expectation of its leading to a more open and moderately-surfaced country in that direction. We had, however, scarcely advanced five miles ere a most wild chaotic-featured region effectually stopped our progress to the southward. Large detached masses of granite, of almost every shape and figure, [10] studded the foreground of [p119] the romantic scene that suddenly burst on the view at the head of this vale, arid beyond, a deep ravine formed a crescent, from E. to S.E., which, it was perceived, was itself backed by a rugged range, the rocky point of which appeared at least two hundred and fifty feet in height above the level of the valley.

Upon ascending a stony head, which commanded a considerable view around us, I remarked that this rocky broken country extended from E. to S. and thence by W. to N.N.W., but that at N. there appeared an apparent opening, by which it was probable we should be enabled, without much distress to our horses, to extricate ourselves from the labyrinth of difficult precipitous country around us. A stream of fine water, originating in a neighbouring rocky ridge, and running through a valley tending towards this apparent break of the ranges, led me to follow it, and in about eight miles, having passed round the northern extremity of a lofty ridge, we shaped a course to the westward, southerly, through a brushy, barren forest, producing small timber of stringy bark, honeysuckle, and cypress, and exhibiting in various parts numerous and very recent traces of natives.

27th June 1827

Towards the close of the afternoon of the 27th, having continued our course to the W.S.W., we descended to an open level valley, bounded on the west by forest hills, very thickly timbered, and apparently grassy to their summits. In this confined valley we met with a small rivulet, rising evidently in the elevated rugged country we had left, and winding its course to the N.W. This stream, we immediately perceived, could be none other than Macintyre’s B rook, which was discovered in the progress of my journey northerly, in a sterile country, at so low a level as eight hundred feet.

The very considerable declination of the country lying between this valley and that barren region (distant to the westward only sixty miles) was shown by our barometer, which, at the spot at which we again encamped, gave its mean height above the ocean two thousand two hundred and fifty-four feet.

28th June 1827

28th. On the southern and western sides of the valley ranges of forest hills rose to an elevation of three hundred feet, but as they were very thinly wooded, and appeared generally grassy, I apprehended no difficulty in passing them in our route to the south. [p120]

Fording Macintyre’s Brook, therefore, we succeeded without difficulty in accomplishing about seven miles along a continuation of the valley, when we reached the base of the forest ridge bounding it at S.W., which ascending, we found exceedingly rugged and stony.

During other five miles of the day’s journey we were occupied in climbing from one range of hills to another, when on descending to a narrow valley providing both grass and water, I halted at an early hour of the day, several of the heavier laden horses whose feet had suffered much from the rugged nature of the ground, requiring to be reshod.

Our latitude at noon (28 deg. 55 min.) showed us we were progressively making our way to the southward, and our barometer gave us three hundred and thirty feet of elevation above our morning’s encampment on Macintyre’s Brook.

29th June 1827

29th. About an hour before sunrise on the morning of the 29th the chill of the atmosphere was felt much more intense than we had previously experienced at any period of our journey. The thermometer had sunk to 25 degrees of Fahrenheit, and ice to the thickness of a quarter of an inch crusted the surface of stagnant pools in the neighbouring water course.

Encouraged more by the hope of passing to the southward of the parallel 29 deg. at an early hour of the day, than by the appearance of the country before us, we quitted our encamping ground at sunrise, pursuing our journey to the south about five miles to some low wooded ridges of barren stony character. From the summit we beheld a very broken hummocky and in part mountainous country immediately investing us at S.E., and south, whilst at S.S.W. and West a succession of rather lofty forest ridges met the eye. Another mile over a very broken surface brought us to the edge of a deep glen at least one hundred yards wide, with perpendicular rocky wall-like sides—which extending from the eastward to the west as far as could be perceived, from the spot at which it was intersected, appeared to cut off communication with the country south of it.

Skirting this formidable ravine to the N.W. about a mile, a moderate declivity was fortunately discovered, by which the pack horses were conducted safely to the bottom of the glen, when we found a river, about forty yards in breadth, pursuing its course to the westward, over a very rocky bed. Our latitude derived from observation taken at noon on the upper edge of [p121] the ravine, was 28 deg. 59 min. 56 sec. S., which is nearly the parallel of our encampment on the 27th May; and upon setting up the barometer, on the margin of the Glen river, the bottom of this ravine was found to be one thousand and ninety-four feet lower than the, site of our last encampment in the valley. [11]

30th June 1827

The passages over the river having been effected with some difficulty and with some danger to the horses, in consequence of the extremely rocky and irregular character of its bed, we climbed by an easy acclivity the hills on the southern side of the glen on the morning of the 30th, and then resumed our course to the S.W., over a succession of elevated ridges and barren valleys, timbered chiefly with small iron-bark.

At our sixth mile we descended from the hills to a valley of considerable extent, which was found watered by a fine river, exceeding fifty yards in breadth, abounding in water fowl and running sluggishly to the westward. Crossing this stream at a pebbly fall, to its left bank, I again called a halt ; and, as the grazing around us, and particularly on the margin of the river, was excellent, I determined to afford my horses, all of whom exhibited debility in a greater or less degree, an entire day’s rest.

This stream, which rises in the granite mountains, situate to the N.E., at an elevation bordering on three thousand feet, we immediately identified (from its magnitude and tendency) with Dumaresq’s river, which we discovered in our outward journey upwards of fifty miles to the westward, where the mean elevation of the interior watered by it was ascertained in May last to be eight hundred and forty feet above the seashore.

The observations made at this encampment on Dumaresq’s river fixed its situation on the chart as follows: latitude, 29 deg. 1 min. 14 sec. S.; longitude, 151 deg. 31 min. 30 sec. The variation of the magnetic needle was 8 deg. 26 min E., and the mean height above the level of the sea one thousand and forty feet. [12]

As the hills bounding the valley on its southern side were by far too lofty and broken to permit me (in the state of debility to which my horses were reduced) to pursue a direct course homeward, I determined upon tracing the vale westerly a limited distance, being encouraged to hope from the aspect of the country in that direction (as observed from a hill immediately above our tents) that in a few miles the ridge would be found sufficiently moderate to allow me to pursue my journey to the southward without interruption.

2nd July 1827

2nd July 1827 With these views we resumed our labours on the morning of the 2nd July along the left bank of the river, which, in its course to the N.W., through the vale, waters some fine flats, timbered with robust apple trees, and furnishing a considerable patch of fine cattle pasture. In about three miles a stream, flowing from the north through a break in the mountainous lands at that bearing, falls into the river, which at length, bending to the S.W., assumes in its increased breadth more regular depth and frequent length of its reaches, a character fully entitling it to be considered equal in magnitude to any of the rivers hitherto discovered interiorly. The valley continues in a south-westerly direction about seventeen miles, and thereabouts fine grassy flats extend along the banks of the river, on which were remarked blue gums of very large dimensions. The banks themselves are in some parts quite perpendicular, from ten to fifteen feet in height, and of a red-coloured clay; and where this character occurred the breadth of the river (we remarked) exceeded one hundred yards, was evidently of considerable depth, and teeming with fish of the western waters, particularly that species denominated ‘cod,’ of which several were caught weighing from ten to fifteen pounds. Several emus were observed on the lower flats of the river, but our dogs, who had run many hundred miles in the course of this journey, in pursuit of a daily fresh meal for us, were too much reduced in strength to maintain a long chase ; they, nevertheless, killed one of those gigantic birds, an old male of great bulk, having the feathers of the back nearly black. At length, observing the valley to take a decided bend to the north-west I left it and the river altogether, with the intention of directing my course to the south-west; however, upon passing some low forest ridges in that direction, to a patch of plain (the latitude of which I ascertained to be 29 deg. 12 min. S.), a lofty, broken, and exceedingly rocky country again appeared, [p122] extending from S.E. to S.W, We were therefore obliged to direct our steps once more to the north-west, and after traversing a succession of barren wooded ranges about five miles, we descended upon a thinly timbered forest country, through which we continued our journey without difficulty to the southward.

In no part of this lengthened journey were the proofs of the long drought, that had prevailed in the interior, more manifest than in these lonely woods, the soil of which was remarked to be, for the most part, a cold, hungry clay, seemingly incapable of producing good grass or esculent herbage at any season. In many parts of an extent of country, exceeding fourteen miles, the ground (on which were interspersed small patches of brushwood, scarcely in a state of existence) was rent by the sun into wide chasms, and the several pebbly channels that were intersected in the progress of the expedition, and which doubtless in ordinary seasons contain water, had evidently been dried up many months.

5th July 1827

5th July 1827 Onward, however, to the southward and westward, we crossed, on the afternoon of the 5th, a stream about fifteen yards in breadth, having a current to the westward, to which in passing I gave the name of Anderson’s Brook, in compliment to my very respectable friend, of the medical staff of the colony. Beyond this stream a singular sameness of character prevails throughout the forest ground for about three miles, when the timbers progressively became larger and of more regular growth.

At noon of this day (5th) our latitude was 29 deg. 24 min. 0.9 sec. S., and at its close, having effected a long and tedious stage, we rested ourselves on a well-watered patch of tolerable grass. Our barometer showed us that we had travelled during the whole of the day on nearly a plain surface, the difference of level in about fourteen miles being found to be only seventy-five feet.

6th July 1827

Pursuing our way to the westward, southerly, on the morning of the 6th, through an open space about three miles, we reached the right bank of a deep river, in breadth about thirty yards, and tending to the N.W.

This river, which originates in the mountainous country at N.N.E. and bore evident signs of being a channel by which vast bodies of water are carried off to the interior, exhibited at this season little other than a chain of large canal-like ponds, [p124] separated from each other by shallows of the gravel of which its upper banks were formed. Upon these it was remarked large bodies of drift-wood had been deposited by those considerable floods which, it was evident, rise in seasons of prolonged rains to the perpendicular height of thirty feet above the low level at which we noticed it. This water, which was named Burrell river, is doubtless augmented by Anderson’s Brook a few miles further to the westward, and eventually it falls into Peel’s river. South-easterly from Burrell’s river, the travelling continued excellent for about twelve miles, the country being a gently rising open forest, productive of timbers of a large dimension, In passing the eastern extremity of a cypress ridge granite was again observed, in large blocks, and towards the termination of our day’s stage masses of granulated quartz were strewed in various parts of the forest ground. From a spot somewhere to the southward of Burrell river (situate on the chart in lat. 29 deg. 27 min. 15 sec. S., and long. 151 deg. o – 2 min E.) I had an extensive view of the line of country lying east towards Shoal Bay. [13]

Of the capabilities of this indentation of our coast line, which was discovered and partly examined by Captain Flinders in 1799, but little is known, as it appears not to be visited by vessels, because probably its title may have induced those passing to entertain an unfavorable opinion of it. If, however, the country environing its shores should be discovered upon further examination to be well watered and sufficiently capable of improvement by cultivation to induce the Government at any future period to colonise it, it will be interesting to know that upon passing any hills that may be in the neighbourhood of the coast, there exist in all probability no obstacles to prevent a ready and direct communication with the western interior, since upon taking a survey of the country at east, from the rising ground in the vicinity of Burrell river, which its elevation of sixteen hundred feet above the sea shore enabled me to do to a distance little short of seventy miles, the land, although fully timbered, appeared open, of a gently undulated surface, and seemingly of a very gradual fall towards the coast.


Footnote 1: Captain de Freycinet, in assigning proportions to the principal divisions of the globe, estimates the surface of Europe at 501,875 square French leagues, and that of Australia at 384,375, which is to Asia and America as 3 are to 7, or about one-fourth of the superficial extent of Africa. Voy. aux. Terres Australis, p. 107.

Footnote 2: King’s Voyage 2, p. 570.

Footnote 3: A grant from the Crown, procured by influence in England, as a means of provision for J. P. Macqueen, who had brought himself to ruin by a corruptly contested election for Bedfordshire.

Footnote 4: As this result accords nearly with the meridian deduced by the actual survey of the country from Newcastle, viz., 150 deg. 58 min. 45 sees. E., which (there is reason to apprehend) places Segenhoe somewhat to the eastward of its real position, it may be considered about its true longitude.

Footnote 5: The mean elevation of Liverpool Plains above the sea shore (which Mr. Oxley their discoverer had no means of determining) has always been considered much greater than recent admeasurement has given. A series of interesting observations, carefully made with an improved portable barometer by Jones, gave me the following mean results, showing how much the surface of the southern sides of these plains, which have evidently been raised by the washings of soil from the adjacent boundary range, is elevated above that of either the centre or northern margin. The southern skirts are eleven hundred and twenty feet; the central surface is about nine hundred and fifty feet, whilst the northern limits are from eight hundred to eight hundred and forty feet of perpendicular height above the level of the ocean.

Footnote 6: By a reference to the chart it will be seen that this particular part of Dumaresq’s river is about one hundred and seventy statute miles west from the coast line.

Footnote 7: The situation of our point of intersection of Macintyre’s Brook on the chart is as follows : latitude, 28 deg. 44 min. S.; longitude 150 deg. 48 min. E., the elevation of its head above the level of the sea being not more than eight hundred and ten feet.

Footnote 8: This afternoon we crossed, to the eastward, the meridian of Parramatta, in latitude reduced from the observations at noon, 28 deg. 33 min., which placed us three hundred and sixty-six statute miles due north from that town.

Footnote 9: The vapours that rise from the surface of the sea upon being blown over by easterly winds to the higher points of these mountains, becoming condensed and falling in light refreshing showers, on the adjacent lower country, would seem to account for the bright verdure of the grasses and generally vigorous growth of vegetation in the depth of winter.

Footnote 10: It appeared at first difficult to understand how those detached blocks of granite were originally formed, of which some presented immense spheroidal figures ; others, those of water-worn boulders, whilst here and there stood one (nine-pin shaped) so nicely poised on its small base, that the traveller might be induced to suppose that it would have required but his individual effort to have upset its equilibrium. It may be conceived that these rounded masses, and the rock on which they rest, were at one period united in one body ; that by the incessant operation of the elements upon this body during ages, it had become cracked through, and its scattered fragments had formed various figures. Of these, some may have become disunited in a solid angular form from the mountain masses, and in time might have their angles cut off by atmospheric attrition, and thus it probably is, that to the constant action of the elements, the various curious appearances of rocks in the valleys of mountainous countries are to be attributed.

Footnote 11: The mean height of this valley above the seashore by the barometer to be two thousand five hundred and eighty-seven feet; the mean elevation of the bed of the glen proved to be one thousand four hundred and three feet.

Footnote 12: The results of barometrical measurement gave two hundred feet as the difference of level of the two points at which the channel of Dumaresq’s river was intersected in this journey; the gradual fall of the interjacent country is therefore clearly shown.

Footnote 13: The entrance of Shoal Bay which lies equidistant from the settlements of Port Macquarie and Moreton Bay, placed by navigation in latitude 29 deg. 26 min. 30 sec. S., and longitude 155 deg. 21 min. 15 sec. E. The distance, therefore, of Burrell river directly west from its shore is estimated about one hundred and thirty-five statute miles

NOTE: Allan Cunningham’s manuscript, “A late tour, on the face of the country, lying between Liverpool Plains and the shores of Moreton Bay in New South Wales” described his journey to the Darling Downs in 1827, was extracted from Henry Stuart Russell’s book The Genesis of Queensland Chapter VI Published by Turner and Henderson Sydney 1888. The manuscript presented here in the Library of The Allan Cunningham Project, adapted from a PDF file of Henry Stuart Russell’s book “The Genesis of Queensland” provided by Text Queensland. We have modified the paragraph style and removed the page headings to provide a better reading experience. We tagged the pages with page numbers in square brackets e.g. [P110] and noted the footnote reference numbers in square brackets e.g. [10].  The footnotes have been moved to the end of the text.