Mr Cunningham explores the Monaro Country

22nd March 1824

Robert Heward wrote:

At the latter end of March, Mr Cunningham started with his people on a tour to the southward of the colony, through the counties of Camden and Argyle; he also visited Lakes George and Bathurst, the head waters of the Morrumbidgee, Brisbane Downs (the Monaroo of the aborigines), Marley’s Plains and the Shoalhaven gullies.

The tract of country through which they travelled being of a generally good grazing character, did not afford so much botanical novelty as had been anticipated, but still some of the discoveries were interesting, from the curious identity of vegetation in many parts with that of the country in the vicinity, and to the northward of Bathurst on the western side of the great mountain range. A plant also of the south coast, discovered at Port Philip in 1802, by Mr Brown, (Lomatia ilicifolia), was also found in great profusion in the district of Argyle.

The singular limestone caverns, at the Shoalhaven gullies, appear from the short visit Mr Cunningham paid them, as one of the most interesting points of his excursion; and he much regretted, that time and proper facilities alone prevented his bestowing a more lengthened investigation of those apparently very extensive natural excavations. The distance travelled over in this journey was about four hundred and twenty miles. They returned the first week in May to Parramatta.” ((Source: Robert Heward’s Biographical Sketch of Allan Cunningham, Part 3 page 262))

Allan Cunningham … followed [Captain] Currie’s [1823] tracks and as he didn’t meet any Aborigines to know otherwise called the Molongo Plains [Molonglo Plain], Marley’s Plains.  This name persisted for about a decade until Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, as surveyor-general dictated a return to Aboriginal names wherever possible. ((Source: Pictorial History Canberra by Mary Machen ))