by Ida Lee
F.R.G.S and Hon. F.R.A.H.S
From the Log-Books and Journals
with maps and illustrations
First Published 1925 by
Methuen & Co Ltd
36 Essex Street WC London
Transcribed to eText by
Permission to use eText given by
Col Choat of Project Gutenburg Australia 2003
Converted to Web Enhanced eText by
J&DChallenor of The Allan Cunningham Project 2009
OXLEY’S LAND JOURNEY COMPLETED
Returns Eastward, leaves the Lachlan and discovers Wellington
July 12–August 21, 1817
1817 July 12th. Saturday. We left the bank of the river about 9 o’clock, travelling over the plains about 7 miles without a single botanical novelty to relieve the scenery around us. Passing a low tract, covered with bushes of Polygonum junceum [= Muehlenbeckia Cunninghami], and continuing our journey about 3 miles over a stiff part of the plains we came upon the river and pitched our tent in a narrow peninsula formed by it and a lagoon connected with it. Our day’s journey is about 12¼ miles, or about 1 mile to the eastward of our resting place on the 30th ultimo. Our horses were much fatigued by the heaviness of the soil during this day’s route. A very strong effluvia assailed us from the river, occasioned by the flood having disturbed and carried down the vegetable matter resting on its muddy banks. So accustomed are we to a continuance of the same objects before us and so little to any diversity of country that the sight of Macquarie Range, although distant many miles, being very blue and hazy, caused a considerable degree of animation in us while toiling over the loose sandy plains to-day.
1817 July 13th. Sunday. Rested ourselves at the peninsula all this day. I aired the whole of my specimens and packed them up in an empty flour cask. The water of the river has fallen almost a foot since last night.
1817 July 14th. Monday. The river fell upwards of 9 inches in the course of last night. Our horses had strayed in the night and were not taken when I left the encampment. Mr. Evans had already started (with his assistant wheeling the perambulator), and I commenced tracing their steps at an easy pace over the plains. Crossing the eastern boundary of Molle’s Plains,[p261] I continued for the space of 8 miles over Harrington’s until I arrived at the resting place of the 29th ultimo. Here I stopped, in expectation of being overtaken by our baggage horses in the course of the day. Mr. Evans and Parr, who had advanced 2 miles to the eastward of this spot, returned to me about 2 o’clock. The plains abound with emu. I observed five large fine birds, and Mr. Evans saw seven feeding on the flats near the river. Finding that the horses did not make their appearance and not caring to return to the encampment, 9 miles westerly of us, we determined to bivouac, and collected wood, making up a large fire for the night, which relieved us from the action of the frosty air, for we had no bedding or provision.
1817 July 15th. Tuesday. In full expectation that the horses with our party would proceed forward to us we remained at our last night’s fires till 11 o’clock, when, suspecting some accident had happened, we determined to return to the encampment. We, however, met our people and horses 2 miles distant. It appears the horses had strayed away about 10 miles over the plains in a southerly direction and were not secured until late last night. We passed our fires about 3 miles to the eastward and halted on the immediate bank of the river, the late flood of which had fallen about 3 feet. Our dogs caught one of the emus seen yesterday.
1817 July 16th. Wednesday. From the banks of the river we travelled over the sandy plains, tracing our old footsteps through a very sterile scrub and low grassy land to our halting place of the 28th ultimo, being 8¼ miles from the bank we left this morning. It being early in the day we continued our route about 3 miles further round the lagoon and stopped for the night in a tolerable dry and (dead) wooded spot near the angle of the lagoon, which abounds with vast bodies of wild duck and other waterfowl. I gathered specimens of Loranthus angustifolius, parasitical on the snake-bark, and a little trifling Arabis. Of a flock of emu, about 20 in number, our dogs secured for us two fine birds, which were distributed among the people and ourselves.
1817 July 17th. Thursday. At a late hour we left our resting place at the swamp and advanced on our journey, over small open plains and scrubby tracts alternately, for upwards Of 4½ miles, when we turned out of the old beaten path, which we had traced, in order to make as direct and straight a path as possible to[p262] the margin of Smith’s Plains. An Acacia allied to A. suaveolens decorates these dreary wastes with its great profusion of golden flowers, and the new genus of the Bignoniaceae having a persistent calyx. A shrub with succulent short leaves, and much the habit of Bursaria spinosa, is frequent here as in other situations, not in flower or fruit. Continuing our route about 5 miles over a country grey with Acacia pendula, and not caring to pursue our journey through a thick brush on the confines of which we had arrived and in which we might fare worse in point of herbage and grass for our horses, we turned in towards the river and halted at a recent native encampment on the margin of a small lagoon. The soil in this day’s route is red and sandy, and very heavy with the rain of last night.
1817 July 18th. Friday. In hopes of making a good day’s journey to our resting place of the 24th ultimo, we left the lagoon at an early hour. Tracing our path through a very considerable brush, at the extremity of which Cape Porteous bore northeasterly about 8½ miles, we passed an open flat of some extent and entered a brush of small Callitris and dwarf Eucalyptus, with some low scrub, in which a new Bossiaea abounds. At 12½ miles we arrived under the north-west side of Macquarie Range, where I collected the following interesting duplicate specimens, which are much finer and more luxuriant than I have observed previously. Indigofera sp., Dodonaea cuneata. D. heterophylla, Cassia glauca. Under Cape Porteous I gathered Anthocercis albicans in young fruit, and duplicate specimens of Senecio anethifolius. Upon examining some shrubs of Correa speciosa I discovered a capsule with ripe seeds. Callitris verrucosa of the Euryalean Scrub, a trailing twiggy Solanum, and a small slender Sida are plants by no means rare under this range. In the flats near the mount I discovered a new Amaryllis whose bulbs were very near the surface of the earth. I likewise found a few more of the larger rooted Amaryllis discovered by me on the 24th ultimo. Pursuing our journey about 3 miles, we arrived at an old encampment about 4 o’clock and halted our horses; having travelled the 15½ miles with more than ordinary ease. We could distinctly hear some natives on the opposite side of the river, but they did not make their appearance. These woods near the river are full of the little Sowerbaea in damp situations.
[p263] 1817 July 19th. Saturday. Our stage to the spot where we made the river on the 23rd ultimo being about 11 miles, we started about 9 o’clock in hopes of reaching that bend of the river early in the afternoon. Clearing the wood we travelled over Strangford’s Plains on a course running nearly parallel with Macquarie’s Range–about 6 miles. The Pancratium Macquaria [= Calostemma purpureum] and Sowerbaea are scattered on the flats, with a small yellow Hypoxis.[*] I gathered seeds of the pendulous Eucalyptus (allied to E. paniculata), as well as a few seeds of E. bicolor. Taking a route more northerly for the last 5 miles we arrived at our old resting place in good time. The flood from the eastward, which we had observed down this river, had filled the creek by which the large lagoon is supplied from the stream. From very recent marks of natives on the trees, and the removal of a quantity of dry grass from the spot on which we left it, it is evident this place has been visited by natives since we left it on our journey over the plain. Our dogs killed a very lofty emu.
1817 July 20th. Sunday. We remained quiet the whole of this day in order to rest our horses. Some of our people who had gone out from us early this morning in pursuit of game returned to the tent about 2 o’clock this afternoon with a couple of emu and a red haired kangaroo (macropus), distinct in colour and size from elegans.
1817 July 21st. Monday. The river rose considerably since last evening, indicative of much rain having fallen to the eastward. Mr. Oxley intends to commence his journey up the river for a few days and endeavour to cross its stream at a favourable and easy place, continuing on the north side in order to ascertain what this river in reality is, and should it prove to be the Lachlan, we are at liberty when on the opposite bank to leave it to prevent being entangled in its swamps, and shall then be able to bear away northerly in search of the Macquarie, and return on it to Bathurst. This is our present plan of advancement, which like all others must be governed by local circumstances, contingencies which no human eye can foresee. About 9 o’clock we commenced our new route up the river on the plains, making a small clear mount bearing north easterly 2 miles from the angle of the wood in which we had encamped. From this elevation [p264] Mr. Evans took bearings of some remarkable elevated spots to the northward of us. The general appearance of the country before us is plain and brushy spots alternately with some mounts and ranges as far as the eye can see. Goulburn’s Range bore from the mount north-easterly 1½ miles, which is contrasted with ranges of hills on the opposite side of the river, We observed some smoke issuing through the trees on the lower lands, which informed us of the presence of natives, and, it being in our course, we made up to it. Natives had been there this morning but were gone; their fires were still burning, round which many fresh bones of the wallabee[*] or brush kangaroo were scattered, and the gunya or bark hut had been thrown down. These plains or flats produce the same plants as Smith Plains.
Stretching over these small plains at 8 miles we came upon the river, which is considerably beyond its usual and proper limits, as may be seen by the trees that the increased flood has placed in the middle of the stream–still evidently rising. Having passed a short scrub, we stopped and pitched our tent at a remarkable elbow of the river, being about 11 miles from our last encampment. The travelling over these plains is heavy, being wet and slimy, and the woody lands soft and hollow. Our course generally was N.N.E. The river has occasionally several short windings in a small distance, so as to form parallel lines with each other.
Our huntsmen came up with a native, his two gins or wives and three small children. They were extremely shy and by no means friendly, showing symptoms of suspicion and mistrust towards our people, who tried to persuade them to follow them to our encampment but to no purpose. The man was represented as of a strong robust athletic habit, perfectly naked, and armed with a stone hatchet and a long spear of acacia wood, with which he continually kept our people at a distance when they attempted to approach the females. The women were of delicate low stature, wore short mantles of skin round their shoulders, but were otherwise naked and were from 25 to 30 years of age. They carried some wooden spoon-shaped instruments in their hands, with which they dig for grubs, or roots. Our people made free and took one of these spoons which they brought to our tent. It was this little family that had left the fire in the brush[p265] this morning (which we had made up to), and the man was so exasperated with our people continuing to follow him that he went back to the bark hut, threw it down and went off with his family precipitately to the river calling to his companions.
1817 July 22nd. Tuesday. Fine clear cool morning. We could distinctly hear the conversation of natives, who appeared to be on the same side of the river on which we were encamped, but they were not seen. Continuing our route easterly we desired to reach the base of a mount called Mount Torrens, of which we took bearings from the clear hill yesterday with a view of making further observations. We, however, found that the river ran to the southward of it placing it on the opposite bank and consequently preventing us from approaching it. At about 4 miles we came to the foot of an elevated hill, which Mr. Oxley has named Mount Farquhar, in honour of Mr. Walter Farquhar physician to H.R.H. the Prince Regent, from which several bearings were taken. Mount Torrens bore about 1½ miles northerly of us. The centre of the three principal eminences connected together bearing north easterly several miles, has been termed Mount Davidson, in honour of Walter Davidson Esqre., nephew of the above gentleman. Mount Farquhar is very bare and sterile, its upper surface being covered with a species of granite mixed with loose coarse fragments of quartz. Its summit has some burnt specimens of Casuarina with long fine brittle leaves and some dwarf Eucalypti. A beautiful white flowered Aster, frequently observed previously, decorates the slopes of this mount, and the delicate Tecoma Oxleyi its rocky north side. I observed a species of Thlaspi differing but little from Thlaspi montanum a diminutive Eriophorum, a Bossiaea, and an Asclepiad of volubilous habit on the southern base. I gathered specimens of a Sida filiformis with a slender procumbent stem. I likewise observed some few plants of Nictoiana undulata. The country to the northward appears broken and hilly. Descending this mount we travelled N.E., passing brushy spots and open slimy tracts of country covered with large bushes of a species of Rhagodia. I here gathered the following:–seeds of Cotula sp., leaves elongated, flowers white; and another species with cuneated dentated leaves and yellow flowers; a species of Richea, and some grasses. Entering a clear confined scrub in which I collected specimens of a Thesium,[p266] we halted at 10 miles near the immediate bank of the river in a damp spot and at a place where there was but little food for the horses.
The soil of the brush is uniformly red, sandy and sterile, and that of the open plains damp and slimy. The south bank of the river is in many places very high, and of a red earth, the stream is 30 feet wide and its windings numerous. The smaller rooted Amaryllis discovered under Cape Porteous we noticed in clusters near the surface of the soil. The tetrandrous nut-tree is frequent with Clematis occidentalis, producing abundance of male flowers. Our hunters, who had lost their way, were wandering in a dense prickly scrub to the southward of us and did not fall in with our horse-track till late at night, which alone enabled them to find our encampment. They had killed an emu but were unable to carry him to the tent, so they left him in a tree till to-morrow. The flood will prevent us from crossing the river for some days.
1817 July 23rd. Wednesday. We departed from our encampment at an early hour this morning, cleared the brush and stretched across the plain to some gentle rising land that ran down to the margin of the river. We here took away the emu that had been killed last evening from the tree on which the huntsmen had hung him. The country north-easterly, in which our route lay, is the same as yesterday, at 7 miles we were obliged to make the river in consequence of a large lake 3 miles long and about half that space wide, the lower lands in its vicinity being exceedingly wet and swampy. Changing our course we continued about 3 miles up the river, but found that a further advancement only entangled us in bogs and swamps. Crossing some rocky hills, we stayed and pitched our tent near to an arm running southerly from the river to the above lake, which is supplied by it.
On the late swampy lands for the space of 3 miles were Polygonum junceum [= Muehlerbeckia Cunninghami] and other plants usually found in such situations. The open flats abound with the large Rhagodia, the young leaves of which we found an excellent substitute for cabbage. On the rocky hills near our tent I observed a species of Psychotria in fruit, but, being subject to insects or disease, furnished no good seeds; a simple leaved Acacia, with terminal panicles of flowers, frequent on Bathurst Plains, is likewise common[p267] on the elevated spots. A mount called Mount Byng bore easterly 20 miles. The stream has been running generally from the southward to-day, and the flood increases. The present singular surface of the plains is within 5 feet of the highest flood mark on the Blue Gums on its banks, some of which are standing in the present mid channel. Our journey was 11½ miles. The snake-bark is now large and frequent, taking the place of Sterculia heterophylla, which has not appeared for some time. Our dogs killed 3 emu on the flats near the river.
1817 July 24th. Thursday. We ascertained by a mark that the river had fallen about one inch in the course of the last night. In consequence of the difficulty of continuing our journey on the left bank, Mr. Oxley has resolved to remain at our present station and endeavour to form a bridge of trees, enabling us to convey our provisions, luggage and selves across to the right bank, there being little or no doubt of its being the Lachlan River or its outlet from the swamps, which prevented us from proceeding further on the course we were pursuing on the 12th May last. The men were therefore employed in felling such large gum trees as would reach over to the opposite bank, which, however, we found labour in vain. The water is too deep and the current so rapid and strong as to carry away the trees which we had fallen over it without the least difficulty. Upon tracing its banks down with a view of examining the same in order to find an eligible place to construct a bridge we discovered another arm 40 ft. wide running N. of West from the river, which we did not observe yesterday. Not finding any fair spot either favoured with lofty trees and narrow channel or otherwise, Mr. Oxley sent the men to the southern arm but it appears their attempts failed in the formation of a bridge, there being no trees sufficiently large to fall for that purpose, or where there were any of the ordinary size, the channel was so deep as to form no lodgment as a rest or stay for the branches, the current not allowing them to remain stationary.
1817 July 25th. Friday. Having no resource left (being entirely blocked by the river and its dependencies) but to try another part of the southern arm, our people with much labour and perseverance threw a bridge over it in a shallow part sufficiently strong to bear the weight of ourselves and luggage. The river has fallen 3½ inches since last night, and in 4 hours it dropped[p268] 1½ inches. Burns, who had visited with his dogs the elevated grounds, brought us a fine large emu which they had selected from a large flock. He reported that about 2 miles south from us he came to the shores of an extensive lake, forming a very large sheet of water encircled by a sandy beach. Mr. Oxley visited this water in the afternoon. The plants on the flats near the southern arm vary not in the smallest degree from those common on the Lachlan River. By observation taken this day our lat. is 33°13’28” S., and long. 146°40’20” E.
1817 July 26th. Saturday. Morning fair. Taking an early breakfast and accompanied by Mr. Evans, Fraser and Parr, I visited the lake which had been discovered yesterday, and being only 2 miles southerly we were soon presented with a view of this truly magnificent body of water. Its breadth is about 3 miles, and its length probably exceeds 7 miles; it is bounded by fine large sandy shores; the north side is bold and rocky. It is skirted by Blue Gum and Cypress; its surface is covered with large bodies of pelicans, wild duck, teal, divers etc., and to add to the general beauty of the scene Goulburn’s lofty range and Peel’s range appear at a distance in the background. We proceeded round the beach easterly in order to obtain a good and favourable view of this lake, of which sketches were taken. On the bare open rising grounds above the lake, I observed some small specimens of Sterculia heterophylla, a blue-flowered Clitoria, and some common Gnaphalia. This lake has been called the Prince Regent’s Lake.[*] A beautiful reclining strong growing herbaceous plant, of the Diadelphous Leguminasae, I discovered on these sterile flats, and which proves to be a new Kennedya. The flowers have much the shape and colour of Kennedya rubicunda, but are twice the size. The plant is perennial. I likewise discovered on the sands of the lake a species of Polygonum with dioecious flowers, forming a shrub one foot high. I also furnished myself with female flowers of the new Clematis: the large yellow-flowered Goodenia is likewise common. Mount Aiton could be seen from a particular point of view, and we now estimate Mount Granard to be 72 miles north-westerly of that elevation. It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon before we returned to our encampment, which was broken up and all the luggage conveyed over the southern arm by the bridge; our horses swam forward, tracing the river up its banks, and there was[p269] nothing left for us but to follow their tracks with all possible despatch. The country appears to rise, although it has signs of having been inundated. It is alternately woody with high coarse grass and plains, on which the white flowered stoloniferous Chrysanthemum is most predominant. About 4½ miles on our line of route we passed another extensive sheet of water about the same width as the Prince Regent’s Lake, but clear of timber, and so full of water as to be up to the highest mossy water mark. It appeared to wind to the southward and eastward and in all probability is of considerable depth. Continuing on our horse-tracks about 3 miles we rounded a lagoon of remarkable fine clear water and arrived at our tent in a bend of the river at dusk. Our people discovered a large native bark canoe, which Mr. Oxley intends to make use of in the conveyance of our provisions over the river, there being a great doubt whether we shall be able to construct a bridge so long as the flood continues. Our journey was about 8 miles from our bridge over the southern arm, generally north-easterly.
[* Lake Cargellico.]
1817 July 27th. Sunday. The land on the opposite side of the river appearing high and rising, and hence would afford us better travelling, induced Mr. Oxley to make the attempt to ferry over our luggage in the bark canoe. It was, however, too hazardous an experiment to be carried into effect, for the canoe would not carry two of our men. We had lost two days of the last week in consequence of detention at the southern arm and therefore considered ourselves by no means justified to halt this day, especially as the whole of our provisions in hand would not at the present ration last longer than 7 weeks. It was late before we continued our journey, which was about 5 miles, and descending to some grassy swamps we changed our course to the east and continued half a mile on the margin of a thick scrub bounded by bog. Resuming our course of N.E. we passed some land that had been fired by natives, and stretching over a plain came to an angle of a large serpentine lagoon of remarkably clear water, down which we continued 1 mile and a half to the river where we pitched our tent having travelled 9¾ miles. I discovered a new species of Stenochilus, with ovate-lanceolate leaves and axillary peduncles, scarcely longer than the leaves. It has the largest drupes of all I have seen. The flowers are scarlet and spotted inside. A small Phleum, and the pygmy plants[p270] called Siloxerus humifusus, and a Plantago with lanceolate, entire-nerved leaves, are frequent on the wet flats. Fraser, who had gone down to the river, had noticed several natives cutting bark from the gum trees for their huts. They were forming an encampment on the opposite side of the river, and desisted for the moment when they perceived him, but upon his continuing his journey resumed their labours on the trees. There were 6 men, 2 women, and 2 boys.
1817 July 28th. Monday. Sharp frost last night. About 9 o’clock we continued our route easterly, in order to clear a small creek running from the river. We came out upon a low swampy grassy flat bounded by serpentine lagoons communicating with the river to the northward of it. Unable to ascertain our distance from the river we penetrated the brush in order to make the banks, but its stream had bent in westerly so that in the attempt our men and horses became involved in deep narrow bights of lagoons, some of which formed serpentine windings round the N.E. margin of the small plains; at this critical moment we got dispersed into different parties.
Having travelled about 11 miles on various courses, generally north-easterly, myself, two men and four horses came to an angle of the river where we halted, in the hopes that the other part of our company would follow our footsteps and meet us at this point. The country assumes the same gloomy appearance as it has for some time past. The plains are, however, firm and hard, and the river does not appear to fall; its stream in many places is very wide, at this angle 50 feet, and running about two knots per hour. From the plains some hills bore northerly. It was sunset and not one of the party appearing, we unloaded the horses and encamped for the night round a large fire. We fired a musket to inform our people-who I concluded were not far from us-of our situation, and we were answered by Mr. Oxley’s party.
1817 July 29th. Tuesday. In consequence of the deep bights of the river yesterday, and not being able to track Mr. Evans, we were separated during the night. Mr. Oxley with all the horses (except four which were with me) was encamped 2 miles behind me, when Mr. Evans, who had made good 13 miles on a N.E. course, had passed the night with five of the party in a brush about 2 miles to the eastward of my resting place, but without any provisions. I despatched one of the people back to Mr. Oxley to inform him of my situation as well as[p271] that of Mr. Evans, which I learnt from Fraser, one of his party, who came back to me for some provisions. It was about 11 o’clock before we all collected in a body at Mr. Evans’s encampment. We proceeded forward in a direction governed by the inclination of the river, which was about S.E. by E., for the space Of 7 miles before we stopped for the day. On the damp plains I furnished myself with specimens of Siloxerus humifusus; Plantago sp., a small delicate plant; and another species, stemless, with leaves oblong, and petioled, a diminutive plant of a species of Goodenia; and an Anacyclus, a small plant with blue flowers.
On the south side of the flats there is a range of hills running east and west, from which Mr. Oxley took several bearings of points named and seen from Mount Cunningham. We came to the conclusion that the river having run so far from the westward and north-westerly would turn out to be the Macquarie but our ideas are found to be chimerical; the observations of Mr. Oxley tending to clear up any doubts existing respecting its being other than the Lachlan’s outlets from the swamps. Mr. Oxley’s bearings agreed exactly with the mounts and hills laid down in the charts in May last previous to the abandonment of the boats.
Near our encampment a native grave of modern construction, from the regular manner and systematical mode in which everything connected with it is disposed, led us to conclude that this mausoleum[*] contained the remains of some person of eminence, either a chief or one who had acquired from his skill in hunting, the respect and awe of his countrymen. It is a mound of earth about 3 feet above the level of the ground and is bounded on one side by three rows of seats forming the segment of a circle and of the following dimensions. The inside tier 40 ft. long, the centre 45 feet and the outer one 50 feet. Each tier is 4½ feet apart and about one foot high. On the opposite side of the grave is a single tree less than any of the others, and on the north and south side of the grave are openings to it.
[* The site of this grave of an aboriginal king is now marked by a stone cairn by the New South Wales Government.]
About 6 feet to the west of this mausoleum stood a cypress on which was cut out with very considerable labour remarkable characters, the stem having been previously barked and about 30 feet north west was another having some singular[p272] figures deeply cut on its stem–perhaps a description of the man, his age, and cause of death. The banks of the river vary in height, from 5 to 16 feet, clothed as usual with Acacia stenophylla and a few Casuarinae. The Cypress and Blue Gum are more abundant than they were.
1817 July 30th. Wednesday. Mr. Oxley having satisfied himself that this river is the Lachlan and that it would answer no purpose to advance further on its banks (having already arrived near the confines of the large swamps) has resolved to try the experiment of falling trees over the stream to form a bridge, or construct a raft that would convey our luggage and provisions over the river in a safe and dry condition. The boat-builder with some of the people were accordingly employed to fall the timber and form a raft with all possible despatch. Repapered my green specimens that had been collected some days. Rain without intermission in showers all the forenoon.
As Mr. Oxley is instructed to collect all the information possible respecting the government, customs and habits of the aborigines of the country over which we might pass–points on account of the sparse thin population of Western Australia, with which we had no opportunity to furnish ourselves–he intends to open the grave in order to ascertain its internal appearance. Removing the whole of the mound, we found it vaulted with pieces of wood and layers of bark and came to the body about 3½ feet below the surface of the ground, compressed in a grave 2 feet by 4, formed in long ovate figure sufficient to contain that part of a person from head to hip–the legs and feet having been forced over the shoulders. The body was placed on its right side, and the face looking towards the East or rising sun. His head was ornamented with the usual netting, and his opossum hatchet-girdle was placed behind him. From the size of his bones he appears to have been a man of 6 feet, and might have been 40 years of age, and apparently had not been dead six months. Our people took up his skull, which had the hair very fresh upon it. It’s upper jaw wanted one of the front teeth, which loss may be occasioned by the same custom prevailing here as is adopted on the Eastern coast. The skull Mr. Oxley intends to take with us, as a subject for study by craniologists.
1817 July 31st. Thursday. Fine and clear. Our people are employed[p273] sawing pine or cypress for the raft, which being a heavy job will scarcely be finished this day. Took a walk on the neighbouring hills. The following are the whole of the plants that came within my observation. Helichrysum bicolor, scales of calyx tinged with a red colour and the leaves terminated in a naked mucrone. Gnaphalium fragrans, scented like the Touquin Bean. Brunonia australis is very common on the hills, at the base of which I gathered seeds of Dodonaea pinnata. One of the Gentianaceae, frequently observed, has a variety here with white flowers; and some few shrubs producing orange capsules, likewise abundant. From the summit of the most elevated bill of the range (bearing three quarters of a mile south of our tent), which has been called Piper’s Hill, in honour of our naval officer of Port Jackson Harbour, Captain Piper, we had an extensive panoramic view of the country around us for about 40 miles. Among the numerous observations and bearings taken by Mr. Oxley, I’ll only note the following. A mount bearing N.W. about 45 or 50 miles distant has been named Mount Bauer, in honour of Francis and Ferdinand Bauer, Esqres., particularly of the latter gentleman whose indefatigable labours in the illustration of Australian Botany merit a much higher honour than a distant mount that may never be seen by European eyes again, and doubtless will never be visited by any. The country between us and the Mounts bearing southward and eastward appear flat and wooded in some places, and it is probable that the Macquarie may not run far north of us, and we are in hopes of intersecting it in about 12 days on a N.E. course, steering for Hurd’s Peak [Mt. Tolga]. I observed some western iron bark, Eucalyptus sideroxylon, on the south side of the hills, miserably small and stunted. During our stay in this encampment we made some excellent meals of the large Rhagodia, which is an excellent substitute for spinach. The river falls rapidly.
1817 August 1st. Friday. The river has decreased about 14 inches in the course of the night. Our boat builder finished the raft and we launched her. We intended to convey the whole of our baggage over to the north bank of the river this afternoon, but we failed in the attempt. We had fixed a line across the stream, which is not less than 50 feet wide, making it fast to the Blue Gums on each bank to act as a warp by which the raft might be drawn backwards and [p274] forwards. We however, found it altogether impracticable, The man on the raft, in the act of pulling himself over, found the midchannel current so strong as to oblige him to quit his hold of the line, and the raft becoming unmanageable, was carried with the man nearly three quarters of a mile down the stream before we could send some of our people to assist to stop her. They found it difficult to tow her up against the stream, and she was left fast to a stump. Some trees of sufficient height on its south bank we fixed upon to form a bridge, and we set our people to work to saw them down, but they could not be fallen to-day, being thick and sound at their butts. The lat. and long. at this remarkable spot under Piper’s Hill is 33°04’02” S., and supposed long. 146°47’30” E., but by chart 147°05′ E.[*]
[* Oxley now decided to leave the Lachlan River, and crossing it on a raft took a north-easterly course, when be discovered Wellington Valley.]
1817 August 2nd. Saturday. A steady rain set in early this morning, continuing without intermission till about 11 o’clock. With considerable labour our people felled two large trees, but being turned round they were carried lengthwise down the river by its strong sweeping current, so that it will be in vain to attempt any of these works so long as the flood continues, which may not be long, as the river has fallen 13 inclies since the last evening. Our situation, becoming in some measure alarming, every day lessens our provisions, and we have not the means of turning what we have to good account by proceeding forward on our journey homeward.
Mr. Oxley sent two of our people up the river on horseback to search for a fair spot to make another trial to form a bridge. They, however, returned after a ride of about 8 miles upon the banks but found no eligible place to make the experiment. They observed a stream larger than the river running from the N.E. and forming a junction with it about 3 miles from our tent, which we suspect to be the north-west arm of the Lachlan River.
1817 August 3rd. Sunday. We have now but one resource left and that is our raft which our people had towed up the river to an eddy that might be of much use to us, by drifting diagonally to the opposite bank. Mr. Oxley rode up the south bank of the river to ascertain the nature of the country to the southward and eastward, as also to observe the arm that our people had reported to run into it. In his absence we formed a[p275] double towing rope of all the halters lashings and slings we could muster. Combining them together, we ferried over the whole of our provisions in casks, and our luggage on the raft to the opposite bank on the north side of the river, and swam the horses, all which operation was carried into effect with all possible despatch and without any accident happening, which we considered a miracle; our raft being waterlogged, and when laden was several inches under water, independently of the rapid whirls of the stream against which we had to contend. We encamped on the rising grounds of the north bank. I sowed some peach stones and quince seeds.
Mr. Oxley returned from his ride and came over the river to us. He intends to lose no more time but strike away N.E. easterly from the difficult river and pass near Hurd’s Peak in our route homewards. He found the higher lands a few miles up the southern bank very boggy and bad travelling from the late rains. Our people were all occupied slinging casks and arranging each horse’s load. Mr. Oxley has determined to proceed on the above course to-morrow morning.
1817 August 4th. Monday. We commenced our route N.E. by E. over a tract of damp slimy country covered with Rhagodia, and plains abounding with Acacia Pendula and several shrubs heretofore noticed. The land rises gently and gradually, but assumes no better appearance in soil and timber. At 6 miles the Acacia homalophylla becomes very common, with A. pendula and snake-bark and small Cypress forming an extensive lofty brush for several miles. Passing over some rocky elevated ground, where I gathered some fine specimens of Acacia doratoxylon, we entered a very confined close Euryalean scrub composed of Eucalyptus dumosa, and several fine plants. In this intricate scrub I gathered some new and beautiful plants:-viz: Pimelea flava, a slender small shrub. Prostanthera, with stem, flowers axillary solitary and greenish, a low depressed shrub. A species of Acacia dasyphylla with linear lanceolate pubescent leaves, is frequent, forming dense bushes. Aster decurrens [= Olearia decurrens] and A. cuneatus [= Olearia stellulata] and Clematis occidentalis are likewise very common. Some patches of land that had been formerly fired by the natives producing some good tufts of grass induced us to turn out of our course in the scrub and halt upon it. This scrub continues for some miles with all the[p276] sterility imaginable, hence we are extremely fortunate in having an opportunity of turning out of it to a spot where our horses would find good grass, and where we found some water in two native wells, added to a little from the river which we had carried in a keg it was abundantly sufficient for the whole of us. On the flats I gathered anew Gnaphalium leaves linear and hooked, flowers crowded and terminal. We had advanced on a variable route 13¼ miles per perambulator but only 12½ on our true course. The nut trees (tetrandrous shrub) are loaded with fruit, and the new Jasminum and several species of Dodonaea present themselves in these lone places. From some rising ground we observed Hurd’s Peak bearing N.E. about 6 miles from us.
1817 August 5th. Tuesday. Sharp frost early. This morning we left our halting place, continuing our course through the Euryalean scrub about 3 miles, with little or no variation in the botany. I gathered seeds of the Western Iron Bark and specimens of a new species of Acacia cardiophylla. The spinous grass and aculeated Daviesia rendered our advancement through this scrub very painful. Onward the country for 6 miles is rising and covered with a confined brush of Acacia homalophylla. The timber is of Eucalyptus micrantha or Bastard Box, and Cypress. The recent marks of natives digging for grubs, and remains of fires, led us to conclude that water could not be far distant. Mr. Evans, who as usual had gone on before the horses, came very providentially to some small holes of stagnant water surrounded by Polygonum junceum [= Muehlenbeckia Cunninghami] and, although it partook of the white colour of the clay on which it rested, it was of very essential service to us. We watered our horses and took the precaution to fill a keg for ourselves.
The country for the next mile is elevated and stony, and from the sudden change that is obvious in timber, being Casuarina of lofty height and tolerable bulk, we were anticipating a fine forest land, but were disappointed. Passing a range of large granite stones we entered a thick scrub, which continued for some miles, but were obliged to halt in it, having travelled 13½ miles and no appearance of water. We sent some of our people 3 miles in search of water, which they found in small quantities in the holes and gullies, and of a red tinge, from the ferruginous colour of the stones over which it had run.
[p277] In the bush in which we were encamped I observed the little plant of the habit of Westringia, first observed on the 1st of June of which I gathered duplicate seeds. The general and sterility and want of water in the country, as we advance, obliges us to proceed forward by rapid and longer marches than we otherwise would, in hopes of intersecting the Macquarie River, should it run so far from Bathurst. Served out half a pint of water each to the people.
1817 August 6th. Wednesday. At daybreak sent to the range for water. Continuing our route on the same course, I accompanied Mr. Oxley and Fraser to the hills nearest to the Point. Made it in 4½ miles. Mr. Oxley took a few bearings while I was examining the few plants that grew on its rugged summit. Indigofera speciosa, Tecoma Oxleyi, Boronia pulchella, Eriostemon sp., Senecio sp., with aspen-like leaves, papillously rough, with corymbose flowers. Eucalyptus sp. (Blue Gum), Callitris glauca, and Acacia doratoxylon, very small, compose the whole of its botany.
The country to the northward is mountainous and broken, but easterly it appears more flat and level. Crossing the country from the base of the range, we intersected our horse track in about 3 miles in which we passed creeks, two of which contained some water where we quenched the great thirst of our horses. In our route we observed several fine specimens of Sterculia heterophylla, but not in flower or fruit. Descending from a slight rise we entered a stony brush (denominated an iron bark scrub), exceedingly close and confined, in which I discovered a few new plants viz:–Dodonaea calycina, a slender twiggy shrub remarkable for its large calycinal leaves. Pultenaea sp., leaves linear-oblong, which are, with the calyx and branches, silky. Dillwynia sp., allied to D. floribunda. All the plants observed in Peel’s Range are likewise here, of which Acacia sp., allied to A. decipiens, is very common. The timber of this scrub is Eucalyptus sideroxylon, an iron bark, cypress and a species of Eucalyptus with long lanceolate leaves, not in flower.
Having penetrated 3 miles through the brush, we were obliged to halt at nightfall at a clear spot where there was some coarse grass for our horses, although no water for them and little for us. Our journey this day is 13½ miles, which we found a very severe stage. Near our encampment our boat-builder was sent to drain a few small holes of water into[p278] one, in order to secure some for our breakfast in the morning. Our dogs had killed a small kangaroo, which we distributed with the water in our kegs among the whole of us. Outside our tent I discovered a new Acacia, with linear-lanceolate leaves, which are bent by the indenture of a gland on the interior margin, solitary axillary capitula of flowers, and elongated filaments.
1817 August 7th. Thursday. Served out a ration of drained water much discoloured by the soil. Leaving our encampment our course led us through a continuance of the same difficult scrub for the space Of 4¼ miles. These gloomy shades are much beautified by several beautiful acacias, which are now in the greatest beauty and luxuriance. At the termination of the scrub, the country suddenly changes to forest grassy land, with a slight brush of Acacia sp., allied to A. decurrens, among which I observed Pimelea colorans, a shrub whose flowers change from white to a deep blue colour. The land continues of the forest description with slight risings for upwards of 6 miles to a considerable tract of burnt grass, where was good pasturage for our horses. The change of stone from a quartz to a red variegated granite, common on the Macquarie River, and the appearance of several of our Bathurst plants, suggested to us that a change of country was near at hand.
Clearing the more bushy forest an immense expanse of clear open hilly country opened to our view, with valleys having much the appearance of the rising grounds between Campbell’s River and Bathurst. The hills are bare and grassy, but the soil is not much better than that already passed. Travelling through the valley on an easterly course we arrived at a creek, which we traced down and in it discovered water in abundance for ourselves and horses. Accordingly we halted for the day and pitched our tent on its high bank, having made good 13¼ miles. The hills between which this creek runs are rocky and productive of some fine plants. Acacia spectabilis (a new sp.), with bipinnate leaves, and axillary elongated spikes of flowers, making a very magnificent appearance. Acacia sp., with terminal panicles of flowers, common on the Bathurst Plains. Tecoma Oxleyi; Prostanthera nivea; Grevillea sp., allied to G. sphacelata, and an Hibbertia with linear leaves and fine yellow flowers. We saw kangaroo and emu, of which our dogs secured some for us. Among some burnt grassy spots I observed an entire-leaved [p279] Solamim, and another with broad ovate glossy foliage, aculeated, and glaucus beneath; they were not in flower. The timber is Bastard Box and Callitris sp., seen first at Mount Aiton, with scales of the fruit sub-calceolated, and some fine lofty specimens of Sterculia heterophylla.
1817 August 8th. Friday. Our horses required rest from the labours of the 4 last days. We therefore continued at our encampment in the vale, which has been called Hamelin’s Valley. In the afternoon I visited some hills in the neighbourhood, on the rocky summit of which I gathered specimens of a new plant of the Epacrideae, (Leucopogon).
I gathered likewise some duplicate seeds of Tecoma Oxleyi. We find by observation our tent is situate in lat. 32°47’58” S., and long. 147°50′ E., and the mean variation of the compass is 5°20′ E.
1817 August 9th. Saturday. Resuming our journey from Hamelin’s Valley on a course N.E. by E. the country assumes an appearance that we hoped to have passed altogether. At the extremity of the vale we entered a thick brushwood of diminutive Eucalyptus, Cypress and Acacia, which continues until terminated by some rising rocky ground, covered for the most part with iron bark, which is not in flower. These little hills form boundaries to small valleys, on their eastern sides having abundance of high brown grass. I observed several unusually large specimens of Sterculia heterophylla from one of which I procured specimens in pod and a few seeds. The timber, although 20 in. to 2 ft. 6 in. diameter, cannot be appropriated to any useful or ornamental purposes in cabinet or other works, on account of its soft and spongy texture. A short period after it has been bruised or cut a resinous gum oozes from the wound, and is of the nature and colour of the resin produced by the several genera of the Coniferae. It was at 7 miles on this day’s route we arrived at a thick brush, through which ran a creek north and south, containing some stagnant discoloured water. At this providential place we watered the horses.
Among the interesting plants observed in this brush, a species of Daviesia with linear round spinescent leaves and axillary racemes of flowers, which is now very luxuriant, with Acacia obliqua and A. pendula. The land for the next 6 miles is brushy forest and rocky Eucalyptian hills, succeeded by a confined brush of Cypress, in which I gathered the seeds[p280] and specimens of a second species of shrub of the habit of Westringia, with quadrangular sulcated horizontal branches. Clearing the brush we came upon an open grassy district, and halted at a spot where there was abundance of wood, and grass for the horses, but no water. Mr. Oxley sent a man in search of some, but he returned unsuccessful. The water we had had the precaution to carry in a keg was served out to each of us at one and a half pint per man.
1817 August 10th. Sunday. We sent at daybreak two of our people to a small water hole 2½ miles back on the journey of yesterday for some water for our breakfast. We were obliged to advance forward this morning in consequence of the want of water for our horses and selves. About 3 miles at the commencement of our journey the country is fine and open, grassy and thickly clothed with timber common about Bathurst, the Lachlan depôt and the Eastern coast. Onward about 4 miles the land exhibits a miserable barren appearance with irregular risings and scrubs of the description passed yesterday. To our surprise, at 6¾ miles we came suddenly to a rocky creek containing some fine water, at present stagnant, but having the marks of flood and hence suggesting the idea of its deriving its supplies from the hills southward, and running when full northerly and ultimately emptying itself into the Macquarie. Mr. Oxley rode down it 6 miles, when its general tendency was northerly in the character of a chain of ponds. About a mile down the creek (in which Arundo phragmites is frequent), which is about 8 feet wide, we halted and pitched our tent on the side of an old native encampment. Here we saw quantities of the horse-mussel shells with which the creek had furnished them, and some stones on which they had been sharpening some weapons or instruments, perhaps their mogos or stone hatchets. The very recent marks of kangaroo and emu among the fine brown grass and forest land in the vicinity of the creek are proofs of the abundance of those animals in these fine grassy grounds. I gathered fresh specimens of Callitris glauca, those that I had formerly collected having suffered from friction. The Styphelia, first seen on George’s Range, I noticed in the brush of this day.
1817 August 11th. Monday. We remained the whole of the day at our encampment on this creek, which Mr. Oxley has termed Gaygarne’s Ponds, after a friend of his. Our lat. is 32°44’29” S., and long. 148°14’15” East, and mean variation[p281] of the compass is 7°18’00” S. Our hunters returned from the chase with three kangaroos.
1817 August 12th. Tuesday. We pursued our journey northerly of the course we have been travelling for some days past in hopes of intersecting the Macquarie River, which from appearances could not be far distant. Course N.E. Having passed the grassy forest land near the creek, we arrived at the margin of an open plain, from which we had a view of a distant range northward of us, which appeared very lofty. Stretching over the plain about a mile we passed through a very sterile scrubby district, somewhat elevated, thickly wooded with Bastard Box, Cypress, and the Casuarina (or Swamp Oak), and having the same character in the botany as before observed. The Acaciae, which are predominant, are not so far advanced towards a flowering state as we had seen them some days previously. This brush continues to the termination of our journey this day (which was 12 miles), and we pitched our tent near some holes of water, where was burnt grass for the horses. I gathered duplicate seeds of Scaevola prostrata and of a species of Myoporum, a common shrub in the brush. The travelling was for the most part soft and boggy this day. The small Adiantum; Lobelia sp., allied to L. purpurascens; and a species of Satureia, all plants of swamps, were observed on the plains. In clear water-holes at our present resting place I discovered a second species of an Alisma, it appears of stronger growth than the species common in running waters in New South Wales.
1817 August 13th. Wednesday. Still in hopes of seeing the Macquarie River we continued our route on the same N.E. course on which we had travelled yesterday. In about 2 miles from our halting place we came to a creek or small rivulet from 12 to 14 feet wide, and between 5 and 6 feet deep, which received the waters falling from the lofty range to the southward and eastward, whose elevated summit we occasionally had a glimpse of through the trees. By the motionless appearance of dead leaves floating on its surface the stream was just discernible running to the northward. Crossing this water (which abounds with several common aquatic plants, such as Potamogeton natans, Actinocarpus, etc.), by means of a fallen tree, but passing our horses over higher up at a rocky ford, we continued our journey about 7 miles over a barren scrubby country broken with dry water-holes encircled by swamp oak[p282] (Casuarina), cypress and Acacia Pendula. I had occasion in this day’s route to make the same observation relative to the backwardness of the plants in a flowering state which we have seen expanded some days past in the south-westward. The land assumes an improving state, being slightly brushed foresty country, covered with flint, strong brome grass and timber of Callitris sp. (common at Bathurst), and Bastard Box of considerable bulk. At the termination Of 12½ miles, arriving at some holes of water, we stopped for the night. This water is tinged with the colour of the white sandy marsh through which it filters, and runs gently over a rushy cypress flat.
1817 August 14th. Thursday. At an early hour we advanced on our journey over a continuance of the same grassy forest land on which we had halted last night. Thickly wooded for about 5 miles, and becoming hilly as we approached the lofty range before us. On the first rising ground, which is clothed with western iron bark, I discovered a new species of Acacia impressa and a species of Leucopogon; the Acacia forming a small tree 10-12 feet high, and in young fruit and flower. The timber on the succession of hills and grassy valleys was unvaried until we had passed 8 miles, to another rocky eminence, where Eucalyptus micrantha or Bastard Box becomes less frequent, but is succeeded by the stringy bark of the eastern coast. I likewise observed plants that are indigenous near Sydney, such as Zamia spiralis, Xanthorrhaea, Hakea, Kennedya monophylla and Calythrix tetragona. A glaucous, oblique-leaved Eucalyptus, first observed in the Vale of Clwyd, is frequent in the valley.
Passing several gullies or water courses that ran through the valley, we ascended a rocky mount near to but detached from the range, whence Mr. Oxley took several bearings. The country appeared perfectly flat, presenting a clear horizon from N. to W. and round to the south. Finding it necessary to change the course to due east, we continued until we had cleared 12½ miles, when we halted at a creek, whose waters ran through a thick cypress channel.
We had scarcely unladen our horses and pitched the tent, when some of our people distinctly heard a continual hammering, as of a native with his hatchet. Mr. Oxley with some of our people went towards the spot whence the sound proceeded–about a quarter of a mile from our encampment–[p283] and discovered a native upon a tree, cutting out an opossum from its hollow trunk, in which the little animal had taken refuge from its pursuers. He became alarmed as we approached the tree, crying out to his companions, which soon brought another native from the hills–loaded with kangaroo, rats and snakes–to his assistance. It was with much persuasion, and more particularly when he observed that we were kind to his comrade, that this native was induced to descend the tree to us. We led them to our tent and sat them down by our fire, at which they roasted the fruits of their labours entire, gutting the opossum, and when sufficiently baked, devouring the entrails first, as a great delicacy, which they appeared to enjoy the more when powdered and peppered with fine wood-ashes! Although exceedingly intimidated by our numbers, and lost in wonder at our colour and all things belonging to us around them their shyness and fears gradually disappeared when they experienced our kind treatment. They ate of our bread and drank of our water from a tin pot, which they had never seen before, and became very loquacious. Mr. Oxley exchanged for a green jade hatchet of theirs an old iron one of ours. We showed them with what despatch and great ease we could cut horizontally through a gum tree, which with their mogos or stone axes woould be a work of great labour, and would be only bruised through diagonally. We showed them their image a glass, and took them to our horses, the sight of which with everything about them was a source of much surprise, which they manifested in wild extravagant gestures and grimaces. Mr. Oxley presented them with a knife and a handkerchief. They were young men of 5 feet 4-6 inches, of well-proportioned features, and with large bushy heads of hair, which gave them a wild ferocious appearance. The cartilage of the nose of one of them was perforated and a stick or reed passed through it. They did not want for their front teeth. The pain occasioned by the deep tattooing process on their backs and breasts must be almost intolerable. Large cartilaginous pieces of flesh projected from their backs–almost an inch–forming various figures. They were perfectly naked, and had no spears or weapons of defence. Desirous of departing to their companions, whose numbers (perhaps their women?) they gave us to understand by their fingers were five–and whose faces we saw from the rocky[p284] hill to-day, they walked off without the least signs of fear or distrust.
1817 August 15th. Friday. Resuming our journey easterly about 9 o’clock we were obliged to steer our course more northerly, in order to avoid some lofty parts of the range by passing over the lower risings or bends of the same. The whole of this day’s journey was a succession of hills and valleys, well watered by creeks running in various bends through them, generally inclining northerly; and throughout the whole there is no want or scarcity of water, although there has been no rain of any consequence for a considerable time. The timber is Bastard Box, Western Iron Bark, and some few specimens of the Eucalyptus and Stringy Bark on the hills, on which there were some fine fragments of red granite and some pieces of limestone.
The plants observed to-day were not different from any before seen, Acacia impressa is frequent on the rocky hills, with several others of its congeners. Our courses from the nature of the country were various, generally easterly; the continual ascents and descents were very fatiguing to our horses and ourselves, and induced us to halt at 10½ miles on a spot where we could furnish ourselves with abundance of dead wood and water from a reed-grassy creek that was in a running state.
It is a singular fact that we came upon the footmarks of oxen very deep on the banks of a water course in the valley. We traced them along the creek a considerable distance in order to ascertain beyond doubt this remarkable incident. They may be the Government cattle that were missing from Cox’s River, and which were supposed and reported accordingly to have died in the mountains. Our baggage horses were followed by nine natives (men) during the last 6 miles of this journey to our tent. They manifested no symptoms of fear when they came up to us, were very talkative, and expressed their surprise at different objects around them. They appeared to be acquainted with iron nails, and from this circumstance it is very possible they had seen some white men in or about Bathurst, or had been in company with some stock-keepers and cattle drivers on the Macquarie River, which they appeared to be well acquainted with, and made signs as to the direction that stream bore from us which gave us hopes of seeing it in a few days. Our dogs had killed for[p285] us some kangaroos; we therefore gave them the forequarters of one of these animals, which they roasted at our fires. Having served out to ourselves and people the ration of pork and flour, we broke up the casks and converted the iron hoops into swords with which we furnished each of them one, presenting to the most intelligent man (apparently), an old file, the use of which we learned him by sharpening the edge of his cimetar. They appeared highly delighted with these pieces of iron, which they would soon turn to a variety of uses. We likewise gave them each a piece of pork, which they did not appear to relish–on account of its saltness. After our people had enjoyed a dance or corroboree with them, these harmless inoffensive natives left us, returning the road they came. They were two elderly, six strong younger men and a lad; and their appearances and habits were the same as of those seen yesterday. They were quite naked and unarmed and the lad appeared to be related to a person of eminence from the circumstance of his seating himself at a small distance from the rest, and from the respect they appeared to pay him, and the tattooing on his back was more diversified and different.
1817 August 16th. Saturday. Slight frost. We left our last night’s resting place, pursuing an easterly course through grassy valleys bounded by gentle hills, covered loosely with lamina of red slate substance, fragments of red granite and some tolerably fair specimens of agate, some of which were, however, fractured. At 4 miles on our journey we ascended a lofty tree; from thence we had a view of the country to the N.E. and S.E., which consists of hills and vales thinly clothed with timber. The general inclination of these hills is from the southward to the north. A misty line of exhalation arising between the hills induced us to change our course to N.E., on which route we advanced about 4 miles and a half when to our surprise we arrived at the right bank of a stream[*] which we supposed might possibly be the Macquarie, the river we have so long calculated upon and wished to see. The water is clear and there is enough current in it to state it is not stagnant. It is now about 4 feet deep and is in places overrun with Arundo phragmites, and had marks of flood 12 feet above its present level. Its banks are rocky, occasionally very high and perpendicular, of red earth. In[p286] some places it formed handsome straight reaches, which gave to this rivulet a pleasant picturesque appearance. The cattle tracks were very distinct and deep on its banks, which are now dry and dusty, proving to us that no rain had fallen for some time.
[* Named by Oxley, Molle’s Rivulet.]
We traced the rivulet for 3 miles and crossed it, availing ourselves of a shoaly rocky part to ford over to the opposite high bank where we encamped. The hills on this side were fired by the natives, the flames making rapid progress in the dry high grass. The plants now became exceedingly uninteresting. The timber is small iron and stringy bark on the hills: several Bathurst plants are common on the lower lands. Eucalyptus perfoliata of the Vale of Clwyd, with Persoonia spathulata are common on the grassy flats. Our journey was 12½ miles. A lofty mount seen northerly from the hill on which we ascended this morning has been called Mount Johnson. The channel of the river abounds with Azolla pinnata, floating on its surface.
1817 August 17th. Sunday. Mild morning. We rested the whole of this day. Hibbertia cuneata, Swainsona coronillaefolia, Croton acerifolius, Indigofera australls, and Croton, are all plants on the banks of the rivulet. From a fine grassy hill bearing three quarters of a mile N. by E. I gathered specimens of a bulbous rooted Cyperus with woolly leaves; Eucalyptus glauca, forming a tree 30 feet or 40 feet high, with an angular umbel of flowers, is frequent, and, being now in flower, induced me to gather specimens. Fraser, who had been sent away a few miles in order to ascertain, if possible, something more satisfactory respecting the rivulet, returned having made no new discovery. On the highlands and rising grassy spots I gathered specimens of an Acacia appearing distinct from A. decurrens, not only in the habit of its inflorescence but in the position of its glands and form of its foliage. It is an arbuscula and apt to form thick bushes.
I accompanied Mr. Oxley and Mr. Evans to the summit of a hill of steep ascent, which has been called Elizabeth Hill, where some bearings were taken of remarkable points on the course we intended to pursue. Between a range of hills running north and south and bearing E.N.E. 10 miles, there is an appearance of a river, from the steep perpendicular banks descending to a valley or hollow, and we could trace a line of haze for a considerable length south and north, [p287] above the summits of the hills over the valley. From these appearances we are inclined to believe that the Macquarie is there situated, running northerly, and that this watercourse on which we are encamped is only a conductor of the rain in a body to the river north-westerly of us. We caught a fish in this rivulet.
1817 August 18th. Monday. Previous to leaving our present encampment I planted some peach stones on the rich bank of this supposed rivulet. Our course this day is east-southerly over a country for the first 10 miles appearing somewhat different from the aspect it presented some days previous, being scarcely so open and more encumbered with small timber, less hilly, and occasionally covered with Acacia. The soil is good and the whole fine grazing land, flats or valleys, producing an abundance of Dalea, with procumbent stems, frequent at the depôt on Lachlan River. Crossing a deep dry creek, we passed a flat burnt tract and ascended a range of rocky hills in our course, which there is no avoiding. From their summit the country to the southward and eastward appears very hilly and broken as far as the eye could see. We could clearly distinguish in a north easterly direction, between the opening of the hills, a strip appearing like a sandbank or a body of reeds on the bank of a river.
It is evident from the uneven and broken nature of the country before us that there must exist a considerable channel to receive and carry off the great bodies of water that fall at different seasons on these hills and collect in the deep gullies below. Our present course being stopped by deep ravines and water courses, we descended with some difficulty with all our horses, and followed the windings of the gullies upwards of 3 miles But finding we were not near their termination we halted at dusk on the margin of a swamp formed by the stagnant waters. This connexion of ravines, winding in different directions (generally north-easterly) and bounded by rocky elevated hills on each side, has a very picturesque appearance, and has been called Glen Finlas. Fragments of limestone were picked up by our people in a half-burnt st ate.
Some beautiful plants are found in this glen, of which the following are the most material. Pullenaea sp., rich in flowers–a beautiful shrub–and Oxylobium sp. The rocky declivities were covered with a beautiful Acacia, having[p288] small, oblong, oblique, villous leaves, and axillary racemes of flowers, forming a tree 16-20 feet high–A. conspicua. Bignonia australis is very common, supporting itself on shrubs. Cryptandra ericifolia is likewise in great profusion.
I here observed with surprise Correa speciosa, reminding us of a part of Western Australia that none of our party cares to see or visit again. Croton viscosus of Mount Flinders and Macquarie Range formed here very strong plants. Pimelea colorans is very fine, and shows its character in the shaded excavations. A new Helichrysum with slender fine leaves and terminal white flowers. H. linifolium, is very common. A small Westringia triphylla, first observed in the low country N.E. of Mount Aiton, is common beneath the shelving rocks of the glen. A species of Cassia with 6 or 7 pairs of leaflets, which are lanceolate and revolute, the glands pedicelled, and the stipules subulate. I gathered specimens of this shrub in pod. Hibbertia sp., a weak, trailing, shrubby plant, on rocks. Our journey this day was 14½ miles.
1817 August 19th. Tuesday. Our journey this morning continued through the Glen, tracing the several windings of the water-course for the space of 2 miles, where it terminated, opening to us a most beautiful spacious valley, thinly clothed with timber of moderate size and covered with brome grass, growing very luxuriantly in a very rich black soil, and plentifully watered by a rapid, limpid rivulet[*] winding through its centre, which being connected with the encircling lofty hills, thickly covered with cypress to their summits, beautifies the vale exceedingly. The rivulet is about 3½ feet deep and 10-12 feet wide, having the reed grass on its margin, and the Azolla in great abundance on its surface. Casuarinae are also scattered on the banks–of large size.
Tracing the rivulet down through the vale, we crossed and continued on its north bank. Mr. Oxley traced it to its junction with a large fine stream about 2 miles down the vale, which we doubt not is the long wished for Macquarie River. Its banks are high, shelving and rocky, and thinly clothed with several of the Eucalypti, among which are abundance of that irregular tree called the Apple Tree in New South Wales. In the course of our advancement from the north bank of the Lachlan River to this vale, which is a distance of 150 miles, we crossed 7 creeks all tending northerly to[p289] this river, which accumulates as it runs the accession of water it receives on both sides from the country around. The soil continues uniformly rich and good through the vale to its immediate banks. The bottom or bed of the river is sandy and gravelly, and very large horse-mussels are found in it. Our huntsmen, who left us early in the glen and who were the first persons to come upon the vale, saw a large flock of emu feeding, of which our dogs could only get one bird. There can be no doubt, by diligent search, that limestone in quantities might be found on the hills, as we noticed some few fragments yesterday, and there are timbers of various kinds by which, added to the luxuriance of the soil, all the desires of the industrious settler are granted. In clear rocky waterholes in the glen there is a species of Potamogeton with ovate, alternate, broad leaves, and lanceolate undulated ones beneath the water sheathing the stem. It was not in flower or seed. Tracing the river up 2 miles we encamped on its banks. The valley is called by Mr. Oxley, Wellington Vale.[**]
[* Named by Oxley, Bell River, in honour of Major Bell.]
[** Where now stands the town of Wellington.]
1817 August 20th. Wednesday. We continued in the vale all the day in order to make some general observations relative to the natural productions that would be so beneficial to the settlers in this fertile tract of country. Among the plants indigenous to its banks, I noticed Solanum laciniatum, common on the eastern coast, now in fruit, which is ovate and of an orange colour; and a species of Rubus. Urtica dioica, and Croton acerifolius. Some of our people, who had been in pursuit of game, brought from the hills some fragments of stone, which appeared to them to be similar to the limestone of the creek of that name in long 149°00’00” or thereabouts, which we crossed on the 22nd April on our way to the Lachlan Depôt. This stone very strongly effervesced on the application of acids. By reference to our situation on the charts it appears that the doubts we have had respecting our longitude are unfounded; our computations are correct. We are exactly on the meridian of the Limestone Creek. It is hence that a singular hypothesis has arisen that the stratum of lime runs N. and S. on that very particular meridian, which is likewise applicable to the vegetable productions. Metrosideros saligna, Croton acerifolius, Callitris sp., and some other plants of the above-mentioned creek are in great abundance in the vale here and in Glen Finlas.
[p290]The stream on which we were encamped on Sunday last we have now called Molle’s Rivulet. By observations taken by Mr. Oxley with a sextant we find our lat. is 32° 32’ 45” S., and long. 149° 20’ 00” E. as computed. Mean var. of compass is 8° 38’ E. Mr. Oxley intends to remain at our present station the whole of to-morrow, which will enable him to ride down the river a few miles. Our dogs furnished us with plenty of fresh provisions having killed 4 large emus on the flats near the river, where they abound. We likewise caught some fish.
1817 August 21st. Thursday.This morning I accompanied Mr. Oxley and Mr. Evans on horseback down the river to ascertain its general direction and the character of the country in its vicinity. Riding down the vale we crossed the rivulet, but were unable to keep the banks of the river, in consequence of the steep sloping rocky hills which run down to the water. We were obliged to trace the gullies through the ravines formed by lofty hills.
At intervals some beautiful views of the bend of the river bounded by rich verdant flats on each side were presented to us from the openings in and on the summits of the hills. At one place the river forms a depressed serpentine figure, and led us at first sight to suspect another stream as large as itself ran from the northwestward and had formed a junction with it. Having cleared the hills we followed the river on its immediate bank about 12 miles, in which space it forms many handsome, bold reaches with occasional easy windings to various points of the compass but whose general tendency is northerly. Arriving at a rocky perpendicular bank, perhaps 8o ft. above the river, which runs under it, we had a commanding view of the rich flats on its banks and the fine grassy land in the far ground, thickly wooded. About a mile to the northward of this rock may be seen a very high red bank on the opposite side of the river, to reach which we rode over some luxuriant tracts covered with a variety of herbage. We are upwards of 12 miles from our encampment and the whole of the country is a continuation of that excellence of soil and fit for every purpose of agriculture. The marks of the flood were about 16 ft. above the level of the river. The country has been burnt at no distant period, and the grass that has grown from the old clumps is exceedingly strong and luxuriant.
[p291]Returning to the remarkably large rock, which is of a black slaty colour and nature and has a dip or inclination of about 45 degrees east. I discovered a specimen of Hovea elliptica, which appeared to be the Poiretia elliptica of Dr. Smith, gathered at King George’s Sound by Mr. Menzies. It is a shrub of about 5 feet in height, of slender habit, and is in flower. The flowers are produced from the axils of the leaves. Being the predominant plant of this singular point we have proposed to call it Hove’s Rock, as a compliment to Antony Hove Esqr., a traveller in Cape Colony. From this point of view are seen some gentle windings and noble reaches of this wandering stream, which is of a regular uniform breadth of about 40 yards. Dodonaea heterophylla, Swainsona coronillaefolia, Haloragis tetragyna, a filiform Campanula, a viscid Acrostichum, Kennedya monophylla, and Clematis occidentalis, compose the whole of the Flora of Hove’s Rock. We passed on our route back to the tent several abandoned native encampments on the river side, from which we picked up some few large shells of the horse-mussel, which the natives had procured from the reed grass in the river, for the sake of their fish, which had been roasted. On a Sterculia we observed some ancient marks of the natives, of the same description and character as at the Aboriginean Mausoleum under Piper’s Hill, but time had mouldered the grave down to the level of the soil, and we saw no vestige of any remains.
The river, we observed, is apt to divide its stream for a short distance, and form long strips of islands between the streamlets, which again unite. Near one of these places we disturbed an emu and four young ones. In our return through the ravines I gathered fine specimens of Helichrysum linifolium A shrub of the Myrtaceae, 10—12 feet high, in fruit is rare on the hills; with a species of Cryptandra, larger than C. ericifolia. Strong marks of wild or strayed cattle we traced on the banks. Some of the cypresses on the hills are of large dimensions and excellent for house timbers, and the Casuarina or Swamp Oak is very strong, of considerable bulk and very useful for shingling roofs. Bright moonlight night. We discovered abundance of limestone in rocks and some fragments on the hills; some, that had been half burnt by the natives having fired the grassy hills, had been changed to lime by the subsequent action of the rain upon it.
RETURN JOURNEY To BATHURST. AUGUST 22ND-29TH, 1817
[p292] 1817 August 22nd. Friday. Opposite our tent we strongly marked a Blue Gum tree of considerable magnitude on sides facing the four principal cardinal points as a mark of our first encampment on the Macquarie River; and I planted on the bank the two last of my peach stones and the remaining seeds of quinces. The rain threatened much about the period of our leaving the vale; we were, however, the more desirous of proceeding forward to Bathurst as our provisions were daily diminishing. The country as we advanced is a succession of fine valleys, with gentle rising hills covered with grass and not encumbered with timber. On a hill running down to the river about 3 miles from our late encampment we observed considerable quantities of limestone, and some few specimens of agate, as well as lamina between granite, as we detached loose pieces of irregular form and slaty substances of divers colours. The rain that had set in very heavy about noon obliged us, by its incessant continuance, to stop for the day at about 5½ miles journey. Fair at dusk. The hills around us abound with a delicate species of Pimelea differing from P. curviflora in the leaves being more lanceolate, and the lobes of the calyx (or corolla) being of an orange-red colour and somewhat more acute. Our people caught several fish of 2 or 3 lbs. weight, and our dogs secured kangaroo and 2 emu.
1817 August 23rd. Saturday. Continuing our journey on the banks of the river, which, with the grassy hills, produce a strong luxuriant grass and are thickly wooded with Eucalyptus sp., Blue Gum and Apple Trees, with very few Callitris. The travelling near the river becomes difficult, by reason of some deep gullies that conduct the water from the neighbouring hills to the river. We noticed some lofty hills on the opposite side, but more distant from its immediate bank than those on this side, which frequently run down to the water’s edge. The Acacia sp., (allied to A. decurrens), form some magnificent small trees from 25 to 30 feet high, decorating as well as the hills the margin of the stream with its tresses of golden flowers. Our dogs chased a large buck kangaroo from the hills into the river, over which he swam, but was followed by them and after being turned swam back again and was[p293] ultimately killed. Perhaps there are few instances, as we have seen none in our journey, wherein a greater tenacity of life had shown itself than in this instance.
We traced the river up about 11 miles, crossing several deep water-courses, which were very fatiguing and harassing to our pack-horses. The river, which ran generally from the southward, had formed a gentle wind from the south-west when we stopped for the day. It was running rapidly over a stony bottom, forming a kind of slight fall, called a ripple. A species of Acacia oleaefolia [= A. lunata], and another species, more common on the margin of the gullies, viz. Acacia sp., with lanceolate, oblique leaves having 3 glands at equal distances on their interior margin; flowers axillary and panicled. Some of the Papilionaceae of the class Decandria, before mentioned, are now very frequent. The height of former flood is about 25 feet above its present level.
1817 August 24th. Sunday. Although we had travelled yesterday over about 11 miles in a winding circuitous route, tracing the river, yet on our direct course to Bathurst we had not made good more than 4 miles. This delay, added to the great difficulty of travelling immediately on the river in consequence of the many deep, sharp gullies, obliged us to quit the river’s bank altogether and steer a course more southerly in order to travel straight to the settlement. We served out the last of our flour and pork this evening, which ration is to serve us a week, until our arrival M the plains.
Upon leaving the river the country becomes very hilly, and we were unable to keep any direct line of course, but chose those elevations easiest of accession. Had we continued on the river bank, although we might have met with deep gullies from the hills, we should have generally experienced much better travelling, and firmer for the horses feet, and a more clear interesting tract of country than we have had on this day’s journey, which only entangled us among hills covered with loose fragments of granite. Passing the first mile or thereabouts, the land is thickly burdened with small timber and becomes bushy and scrubby. Daviesia mimosoides (H.K.), D. acicularis, Oxylobium sp., allied to 0. cordifolum, very common. Acacia sp., allied to A. armata, but furnished with longer spinescent stipulae, the pubescent variety of A. obliqua of Persoon: Veronica perfoliala, Dianella sp.,[p294] and some common species of Pimelea. The timber is very small, of Eucalyptus glauca and E. sp., leaves obovate, with flowers in umbellated racemes, terminal and crowded. On the rocky hills I gathered specimens of some of Orchidaceae allied to Arethusa; Diuris sp. Our horses were so much fatigued as to oblige us to halt in a stony situation on the margin of a gully containing some running water, which we found very hard, and hence we suspect it originated in a spring. We travelled 8½ miles. Soil excepting in the brushy spots generally good.
1817 August 25th. Monday. Mr. Oxley rode forward with our tomahawkman, to mark a road for the baggage and horses to pass over the hills and the easier descents to the valleys, which expand to a greater extent as we advanced a few miles, being covered with high brome grass and small timber of Bastard Box. About 7 miles from our last night’s resting place we arrived at a small stream of water, very fine and clear, running westerly over a rocky bottom, and doubtless having its source in the hills. Passing from this rippling stream of water over some gentle hills that had been very recently burnt by the natives, the country becomes less difficult, and the valleys are fine and grassy, abundantly watered with creeks of running water meandering through the lower lands. The general inclination of the gullies and water-courses, is to the westward, and hence it may be inferred that they collect themselves into the rivulet which runs through Wellington Vale, and ultimately empty themselves into the Macquarie.
The valleys abound with game. Our dogs killed a buck and doe kangaroo. To the nipple of the abdominal pouch of the latter was attached a small young kangaroo, which appeared to have grown out of it. It was perfectly naked and blind. By what means the young of these animals are brought forth and placed in the pouch is not ascertained and it still remains a mystery. I gathered specimens of a species of Hakea, a weak twiggy plant, frequent in high grass. In low brushy spots I observed Cryptandra amara, Dodonaea heterophylla, Veronica perfoliata, Zamia spiralis and Acacia armatoides. Exocarpus cupressiformis, a native cherry, is very common on the hills. Arriving at some running water in a valley our perambulator showed that we had travelled 11 miles. We therefore halted at 2 o’clock and pitched our tent. Mount Lachlan bore from us due south very distant.
[p295] We could distinguish its lofty summit over an elevated range north of it and from its blueness of appearance it could not be less than 40 miles from us. We have made about 10 miles south which was our general course this day.
1817 August 26th. Tuesday. We left our last night’s encampment at an early hour on the course we travelled yesterday. About 4 miles from our camp a fine creek of water runs through the valley easterly to the river, which is a few miles distant from us. Some brushy patches afforded me handsome specimens of Acacia verniciflua, a new species seen on the Lachlan River, but not until now in flower; it is highly glossed with a viscid gum. I likewise discovered Acacia vomeriformis, a new species, with triangular leaves, differing from A. biflora in the elongation of the exterior angle of the leaf, and the floral capitulum being solitary, axillary and many-flowered. The flowers are sulphur coloured. The little Hovea heterophylla is as frequent on the hills as it is abundant among the grass in the valleys. Several Eastern coast plants now begin to appear such as Stylidium gummifolium, Tetratheca ericifolia, and Gompholobium latifolium. I gathered flowering specimens of a species of Hakea microcarpa, with the lower leaves flat and entire, while those of the branches are filiform. Loranthus aurantiacus, parasitical on the Blue Gum, which timber succeeds the Eucalyptus called Stringy Bark at about 8 miles on this day’s journey. We had advanced about 10 miles when we into a valley, crossed a creek of running water and, passing through a thick brush of Pultenaea, descended a hill to the hollow and halted, having made on our southerly course 12½ miles, which with some to easterly amounted to 13½ miles. Some of the hills produce a slaty stone, and it is the opinion of some of us that coal might be found beneath its surface. Abundance of kangaroo in the valleys. They were, however, too fleet, and only one small buck was taken.
1817 August 27th. Wednesday. From the valley we pursued our route with an unwearied perseverance in hopes of reaching the settlement at Bathurst on Saturday evening next. We commenced our journey over a very rugged broken country, particularly to the southward; the high lands to the eastward were enveloped in a thick mist, which however, evaporated as the day advanced. I observed on a lofty hill some 6 miles on our journey some good specimens of blue [p296] slate, in thick lamina, which I traced down its declivity to a deep running rocky gully of water. Mr. Oxley was of the opinion that coal might be found beneath it, but the difficulty of turning such productions found here to any colonial use or benefit, on account of the extreme rugged nature of the country, renders its examination scarcely worth the expense it would naturally incur. We found likewise some specimens of ironstone. On the summit of some small hills, which are covered with Eucalyptus dumosa, Acacia verniciflua and A. vomeriformis, very luxuriantly in flower, I gathered seeds of Hakea microcarpa. Among the grass a secondary variety of the little Hovea with white flowers appears. At 10 miles ran a fine large deep rivulet of water on a very rocky bottom. We were obliged to keep along the range for a short space, until an easy practicable descent enabled us to drive our horses without danger down the ravine. We crossed this rivulet, which is about 3 ft. deep and has a rapid current, and encamped on the rocky bank opposite. We noticed marks of flood 18 feet perpendicular height over the slender waving heads of the Casuarinae skirting its channel, in which I gathered seeds of a dead plant of the Umbelliferae, they are like those of Trachymene. The steep rugged falls abound with Correa virens of the Eastern coast, a plant I have not seen throughout the whole of the expedition. A rigid stiff leafless shrub, with apposite spines, not in flower, suspected to be a Daviesia, is likewise frequent with the Correa. Some fine groups of crystals were found in the channel of the creek or rivulet. The day continued fine throughout. Gathered seeds of Hakea microcarpa, with specimens in fruit.
1817 August 28th. Thursday. We calculate that we are not more than 36 miles south-easterly from the settlement and hope to arrive at the plains on Saturday evening. We had not travelled a mile and a half before we were obliged to change our course, in consequence of the S.E. rivulet which we had observed yesterday forming a junction with the other which we had crossed last night, taking a long winding turn and running southerly. The country in our route is a continuation of the very broken hilly tract we have travelled over for some days past. The lower lands grassy, while the more elevated spots are barren and scrubby. I discovered on these hills a new species of Acacia cuspidata (a variety of A. diffusa); a shrub of the Proteaceae, which appears to belong to the[p297] genus Anadenia [= Grevillea ilicifolia], and a Helichrysum with wrinkled calyx, now in flower. Several eastern coast plants occasionally appear, such as Patersonia sericea, Pultenaea stipularis, and Billardiera mutabilis [= B. menders], now in fruit.
About 8 miles on a south easterly course we descended into a valley bounded by a lofty range running N.W. westerly and S.E. easterly. The valley is very swampy and covered with very long grass. The timber on the elevated grounds as well as the surface of the soil, which is very rotten and boggy, has much the appearance of that at Bathurst. On this range there is a remarkable subconical point, which Mr. Oxley has called Mount Laver, and another to the northward of it is entitled Mount Fraser, after His Excellency’s collector. Mr. Oxley ascended the summit of the range and distinguished clearly the plains of Bathurst above 21 miles distant. The rivulet above mentioned we crossed in the swampy valley at 10½ miles, at a place where there is a picturesque narrow fall Of 4-5 feet. It runs to the N.W. parallel with the range. Flood marks are seen to the height of 6 feet above the level of the river, which of course inundated the whole of the lands to the base of Mount Laver. Continuing our journey up the valley, and passing over some short rugged sharp stony hills and small valleys for about 2 miles, we arrived at a sandy water-course, in which we found some little water and accordingly halted, having made good 12¾ miles. The Blue Gum is more abundant now, and, from the dampnes’s of he rising grounds, it is evident rain has lately fallen. The travelling was tolerably good, considering the rugged hilly parts over which our route led us. The descents, however, were more gentle and easy.
1817 August 29th. Friday. We suspect we are distant from the settlement 19 miles S.E. easterly, and we left our last night’s resting place in hopes of approaching near Bathurst this evening. Crossing several small water-courses that intersected our course we ascended to the summit of a very rocky eminence about 1½ miles from our last night’s encampment, and from thence the long wished for plains were presented to our view. On this rugged height I observed Acacia conspicua, from which I gathered a few more seeds. I discovered two new plants on this extremely sterile elevation, viz.–Hovea heterophylla, leaves linear, short and reticulated, furrugineous[p298] on the under side, a new, exceedingly beautiful species, forming a small shrub, now in flower. I gathered from a plant of it one seed; and Zieria sp., a bushy dense shrub, with ternate ovate tomentose leaves, and axillary peduncles of flowers.
We had had a very long campaign in Western Australia, and were literally upon our last legs in point of dress throughout the whole of us. We all felt a degree of joy when we cherished the hope that a few hours would restore us to permanent habitations and to the society of friends and countrymen. Although a hilly long journey, but having a fine day before us, we determined if possible to reach the settlement this evening, and accordingly we each set out a fresh man and horse, with good spirits, and at a brisk pace on an easterly course.
Banksia compar [= B. integrifolia], which we have not seen, or any of its genus, since April last, is now become very common. Pteris aquilina or common brake is likewise abundant on the grassy hills. Crossing several little running waters and particularly the stream running through Princess Charlotte’s Vale we made the Macquarie River 2 miles below the Pine Hill, and then ascertained that our great anxiety to advance forward had got the better of our reason and had driven us far too much to the eastward. We are 11 miles from the settlement. The day is well advanced, and a broken track is before us. I endeavoured on all occasions, and more particularly during the last 5 months, to turn such contingencies to some account. In passing through the romantic rocky scenery at Pine Hill I furnished myself with seeds of an Acacia distinct from A. suaveolens, of which I have never before been able to procure seeds, although repeatedly sought for. Grevillea sericea, observed at the Fish River, is here in flower, of which I gathered specimens. Dodonaea heterophylla, so common on the south-westernmost range of the hills in Australia (Macquarie Range), is here very rich in flower. The Cypress of the Eastern coast crowns the summit of the hill, and hence its name. The soil is very poor and sterile, being a course sandy quartzose grit, in which Daviesia latifolia and Indigofera anstralis (plants that abound here), grow very strong. We again crossed the water of Princess Charlotte’s Vale, which after many windings runs into the river about 8 miles N.W. of the settlement, and [p299] continuing our route to a clear, thinly wooded hill, called Mount Pleasant, at the base of which we arrived at 4 o’clock. We had travelled 15½ miles, and halted here upwards of an hour for our packhorses, which were far behind. A slender-twigged Sida, not in flower, is frequent on the immediate banks of the river and in low swampy situations near it. Casuarina, as usual, is very strong on the river bank, whose stream forms–below and about the Pine Hill–some very fine picturesque winds over a stony bottom. Had we bore away more southerly we should not have subjected ourselves and horses to the inconvenience of our route being intersected by several deep gullies running into the river. At nightfall we arrived at the settlement having travelled about 19 miles.
We have been absent from Bathurst 19 weeks and have in our route formed a circle of upwards of 1,200 miles within the parallels Of 34°30′ and 32° S. lat: and between the meridians Of 149°43’00” and 143°40’00” East, and have ascertained that the country south of the parallel Of 34° and west of the meridian of 147°30′ East is altogether uninhabitable and useless.[*] We have all, Mr. Oxley excepted, walked since we left the boats in May last a circuitous route Of 750 miles.
[* Fortunately sheep and cattle stations have made it rich and comparatively populous.]
BATHURST-RETURN TO PARRAMATTA, AUG. 30TH-SEP. 8TH, 1817
1817 August 30th. Saturday. We found the sharpness of the external atmosphere much more severe than we have experienced previously during the whole of our tour which is accounted for by the great elevation and nakedness of the plains. The forced march over gullies yesterday so fatigued our horses that some of them fell beneath their loads. The horse that carried my cask of plants fell in a swampy situation and, before the kegs could be taken up, the water had penetrated between the staves and had slightly injured some of my specimens. I was diligently employed in unpacking and airing my collection of plants and seeds. Mr. Oxley wrote a letter on service to His Excellency upon the return of the expedition.
[p300] 1817 August 31st. Sunday. Weather as yesterday. Day fine and clear. Appearances of a change about 10 o’clock. Wind shifted to the northward. Dark and cloudy. A storm of hail about 5 o’clock p.m. Showery evening continues till late at night.
1817 Sept 1st. Monday. This morning we sent off a large cart loaded with luggage and collections on its way to Sydney. My collection of plants forming large packages of bulk in casks, it was found impossible to carry them on the only cart which we could procure at the plains. Rather than subject my luggage to accident in passing rivulets, I determined to accompany the whole myself, giving up my saddle horse to bear that part of my collection that could not be carried by the cart. About 2 o’clock we passed Campbell’s River, which contained about 4 feet water at the ford–and which is about 9 miles distant from the settlement. Continuing our journey to the usual halting place 5 miles east of the river we stopped for the night. Acacia vomeriformis with Styphelia (triflora) and Daviesia corrymbosa frequent on the riverside. Wind bleak and cold.
1817 Sept 2nd. Tuesday. Our bullocks had strayed away from us to the Macquarie Valley and were not found and brought back till late. We were in consequence detained 3 hours later than we intended. At 10 o’clock we left the resting place, travelling over a gentle hilly country covered with a species of Eucalyptus with sharp lanceolate leaves, and usually called Box, from the yellow colour of its wood. Banksia compar is likewise frequent, and is continually in flower and fruit. At 9 miles we arrived at Sidmouth Valley, where I gathered seeds of a species of Veronica with apposite lanceolate leaves. Lotus major and other plants common to this rich vale are now growing very fine and strong, affording excellent pasturage for the oxen and sheep that are occasionally turned upon it. It is now very boggy and wet, and required more than the ordinary exertions of our bullocks to draw the loaded carts across the swamp running through it. The hills we passed for the space of 7 miles are sterile and sandy, on which I observed Stylidium grammifolium, the little heterophyllous Hovea, and a yellow Elichrysum. Acacia decurrens is common and is in flower, and also A. melanoxylon. At 4 o’clock we descended the hill to the Fish River, which we forded and pitched our tent on the opposite bank in the old situation. Mr. Oxley and Mr. Evans, who had remained at Bathurst a[p301] day longer than us, left that settlement this morning and overtook us–being on horseback–at this river. Cold and chilling. Dull heavy weather.
1817 Sept 3rd. Wednesday. From some few observations made in the month of April last, when encamped on this river, I am now anxious to spend a few moments on its rocky banks while the bullocks are yoking. Grevillea cinerea is now in flower, which enabled me to procure more specimens, of which I gathered some among the rocks of Pine Hill below Bathurst. I then discovered a new Pimelea, remarkable for its thick woody growth, on which, detached from its larger foliage, it produces its flowers on long peduncles, which I am enabled to ascertain by the remaining parts–it not being in flower at this period.
The journey over Clarence’s Hilly Range, which is notorious for its difficulties when passing with loaded carts is at this period being made more easy for man and beast. Government men are forming a new line of road in places where the ascents and descents were short and steep or the bottoms formed by the waters of the range had become stagnant and boggy. The new road is generally formed round a rising point when it is safe and practicable–in place of the old one running over its summit–so that the great horse pulls are in great measure eased, and the swampy parts have drains cut to let off the waters that formerly were obliged to remain for want of a declivity to carry them off.
The botany of this range is by no means interesting. The timber is Blue Gum and the lanceolate-leaved Box (an Eucalyptus), which is of considerable bulk and is easily distinguished by its dark green shady foliage. I gathered specimens of the Psychotria observed in April last. Several Eastern Coast plants now begin to appear; among them Daviesia latifolia, which overruns the whole; a fine Dedynamous plant, allied to Buchnera, with apposite, oblong, sessile, serrulated leaves and blue flowers, is common among the grass, with a Bellis having an elongated scape; and Persoonia pinifolia, Acacia discolor, Hakea daclyloides, and a Bryonia, are all common plants about Mount Blaxland.
The difficulty of the road prevented our bullock cart from arriving at Cox’s River, a distance of 16 miles, before the afternoon was far advanced. We were therefore obliged to halt near the depôt on its banks for the night, although we[p302] had hoped to have proceeded 5 miles up the Vale of Clwyd to Mount York this day. The horse that carried part of my collection, fell in crossing the uneven rocky bottom of Cox’s River and gave me abundance of employment in rescuing my plants from destruction. Some black crystals were found at the bottom of the range.
1817 Sept 4th. Thursday. From our halting place on the banks of the river we continued our route up the Vale of Clwyd 5 miles to the base of Mount York, which we reached about midday. The timber of the Vale is chiefly stringy bark–of the Eastern coast–of tolerable bulk. The line of road led through several boggy wet low spots, which had ineffectually been attempted to be improved by the aid of drains. We were obliged partly to unload the cart to ease the bullocks in drawing it through the numerous windings of Cox’s Pass up to Mount York, an operation that consumed much time and obliged us to encamp on the summit of the range. I observed several interesting genera in the pass in April last, which I did not then collect but left them till my return. The Plants are as follows:–Epacris reclinata, a beautiful depressed procumbent shrub, with tubular scarlet flowers, on the bare shelving rocks. A species of Styphelia, allied to Leucopogon lanceolatus (H.K.), but different in having its anthera extended beyond the tube of the corolla. Azorella sp., leaves linear-lanceolate, and corymb compound. Leptospermum sp., allied to L. lanigerum, on exposed rocks, and another woolly species of this genus. The Epacris of which I gathered seeds in April last is now in flower. The Pass abounds with Podolobium heterophyllum in flower and seeds.
1817 Sept 5th. Friday. Conformable to the instructions received by Mr. Oxley from the Governor and agreeable to the usual form at the termination of all expeditions, I gave (sealed up) to Mr. Oxley and Mr. Evans my memorandum for my journals, which, with other papers they carried with them when they left me this morning and proceeded forward with all possible despatch to Parramatta to wait upon His Excellency. In the meantime, while our people were striking the tent and loading the cart, I descended into the Pass and gathered specimens of Polypodium sp., a beautiful fern, on shaded rocks. I likewise gathered seeds and specimens of a shrub of the genus Tetrathera, with angular, rusty branches, distinct from T. juncea. The plants, as we travelled on this range,[p303] presented to us much variety, but are for the most part well known Eastern coast species. Banksia compar, which follows us from Bathurst to the foot of the Pass is succeeded by B. serrata, B. spinulosa, B. ericaefolia, etc. On the summit of Mount York these continue over the Blue Mountains whose great sterility contributes not a little to the large growth and luxuriance of this genus as well as others of the Proteaceae, viz:–Isopogon, Petrophila, Lomatia and Telopea, which are now very common–of the latter I gathered a quantity of its seeds. The Conospermum of the environs of Sydney and Parramatta, and several species of Persoonia in fruit, are very abundant. Of the Epacrideae, E. obtusifoliaand E. purpurascens, are extremely ornamental on these arid heights. I gathered specimens of a species of a Staphylea with obtuse oblong leaves. Of the Papilionaceae, Pultenaea villosa, P. stipularis, P. retusa, etc., are the most common species. Platylobium formosum and a new species with ovate, reticulated, silky leaves, of weak growth are occasionally observed on the dry sands. The Stylidium, so frequent when I passed in April last, is scarcely to be traced, having ripened its seeds and died. About 10 o’clock we arrived at Blackheath, 9 miles from Mount York, where I gathered seeds of a specimen of Eucalyptus microphylla, a small tree not exceeding 14 feet in height, forming a close brush and covering the whole of the mountains to the eastward. The soil of the heath is sterile and sandy, and has much of Casuarina stricta in a stunted state. Towards the close of the afternoon we arrived at the (28th mile) wooden house, having travelled 21 miles, from Mount York. A low repent reclining shrub, not in flower or fruit, with filiform leaves, and which from its habit I suspect to be a Persoonia, is very abundant in this day’s stage. Lambertia formosa did not appear until we had advanced several miles on our journey. Of the Rutaceae I gathered some specimens of a beautiful species of Boronia, flowers small, leaves pinnated and cuneated, indigenous in the neighbourhood of Port Jackson. Near the end of this day’s journey I gathered specimens of a small shrub of the Proteaceae, with terminal spikes of pale yellow flowers. The stunted timber is of Eucalyptus, Blue Gum and Stringy Bark. Hakea dactyloides and H. saligna form tolerable small trees, in fruit. Xanthorrhea seen in the brush.
1817 Sept 6th. Saturday. From this elevation we could clearly[p304] distinguish the cleared cultivated lands on the banks of the Hawkesbury River. Leaving the 28th milehouse we continued our route easterly over a barren rugged range of mountains, the road is bounded by the same description of plants noticed in yesterday’s stage, with others extremely common at Sydney and Parramatta, such as Bossiaea scolopendria, B. heterophylla, B. microphylla, Dillwynia ericifolia, and Xylomelum pyriforme, seen not further west than near the 27th mile mark. Acacia, several species; Ceratopetalum gummiferum, Callicoma serratifolia, Eriocalia [= Actinotus] major and minor, and among these gathered the following plants, viz.: Petrophila diversifolia, Grevillea repens, much allied to G. Goodii, but differing in having an appressed silky pubescence on the underside of the leaf–a prostrate plant common on the lands. Persoonia oleifolia, a species that may range near P. flexifolia, it produces orange flowers, and is now in fruit. P. microcarpa, a tall shrub, frequent near Caley’s Repulse. P. sp., much allied to P. mollis, Zieria revoluta. Persoonia abietina [= curvifolia] a species appearing to be new; leaves linear, channelled and incurved; in fruit. Styphelia sp.(closely allied to S. reflexa of Rudge), having a much longer style and mucron to the apex of leaf. Styphelia sp., perhaps S. reflexa, above referred to. Imbricaria sp., a dwarf shrubby plant. Boronia triphylla, and B. heterophylla, which differs from B. pinnata in its ovate leaves, and from B. alata of Dr. Smith, discovered on the western coast, in being a smooth shrub. Weinmannia sp., a shrub, common in shaded situations in ravines not far distant from Mount Banks. Eriostemon sp., leaves narrow, elongated, cuneated, tuberculated; flowers axillary and solitary. Podolobium heterophyllum. Pultenaea scabra (H.K.). Daviesia squarrosa of Dr. Smith. Hibbertia glandulosa. Platylobium reticulatum. Thelymitra ixioides, and Diuris maculata, in grassy and sandy situations. Zieria sp., allied to Z. pilosa. Acacia pugioniformis, a rigid shrub, the seeds of which were sent home by the “Kangaroo” brig in April last. This is justly considered the most rugged and oppressive stage of the whole journey to Bathurst, on account of the sandstone rocks on which the road is formed. The Government carters, who frequently travel to the settlement at the plains, generally pursue a small circuitous route in the brush to avoid the joltings of the increased descents, particularly at a spot called[p305] the “Twenty Mile Hollow.” About 4 o’clock we arrived at the depôt at Springwood and halted for the day. The Telopea is very beautifully bursting into flower, whose brilliant red appearance may be easily traced down the declivities of the deep ravines shining through the foliage of other plants. The day continues fine.
1817 Sept 7th. Sunday. We left Springwood about 8 o’clock in order to cross the Nepean River about 10 o’clock. In our road I gathered the following specimens:–Acacia leptophylla, allied to A. suaveolens. Dodonea filiformis. Pultenaea sp., allied to P. stenophylla, and a delicate plant of the Orchidaceae, Serapias reflexa? leaves scented like the Tonquin Bean. Leptomeria. Thesium drupaceum or native currant, in flower. About noon we crossed the river at the Ferry and halted for the day at the Depôt, one mile from the river.
1817 Sept 8th. Monday. The tediousness of this day’s stage to Parramatta (being 20 miles) was relieved by a few plants presenting themselves in flower, which furnished me with some fine specimens viz.:–Grevillea juniperina, a weak reclining villose shrub, with red flowers. Cryptandra sp., a thorny shrub of much the same habit as the preceding, with crowded obovate-spathulate leaves, and the lobes of the corolla acute. Commersonia echinata, common in N.S. Wales. Prostanthera sp., leaves lanceolate, with revolute margins; flowers axillary and solitary (habit of Westringia). Aster aculeatus of Labillardière, fine in flower. I arrived at Parramatta at dusk with the whole of our collection, having been absent on this expedition from this place about 23 weeks.
PARRAMATTA AND VICINITY, 9 SEPTEMBER-20 DECEMBER, 1817
1817 Sept 9th. Tuesday. This morning I waited upon His Excellency the Governor in order to report my arrival here, who congratulated me, in common with the rest of our party, upon my safe return and presented me with letters from the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Banks, of dates 10th and 13th February. The Governor suggested that he had received instructions to fit out a naval expedition to survey the north and northwest coasts, under the command of Lieutenant P. King (son of the late Governor), who had recently arrived, and the letters he had presented to me contained instructions from[p306] home directing me to join Mr. King. Dined with the Governor in the evening. Upon perusing Sir J. Banks’ letters, I find they contained his commands to that effect. As there are no vessels here at present suitable for such an enterprise the Governor, who is instructed to purchase one, is of the opinion that it could not be fitted out before the beginning of the year, so that sufficient time will be given me to prepare my collection and write forward my journal relative to the late expedition into the Western interior.
1817 Sept 17th. Wednesday. I waited this morning upon His Excellency, to request that the packet of memoranda for the journal (which I had delivered into the hands of John Oxley Esqre. the chief of the late expedition) might be returned to me as early as convenient to enable me to arrange my collection of plants in good time to be shipped on board the “Harriet” brig, bound hence to the Cape, and from thence direct to England, which vessel is expected to sail in about 8 weeks. Received the journals and dined at Government House in the evening.
1817 Sept 18th. Thursday. The Superintendent of Government stock having demanded of me the horse, which had been furnished me to assist in the conveyance of my collection found during the last expedition over the mountains, I wrote a letter to His Excellency upon the subject begging as a Government indulgence he would grant me an order warranting me to retain the horse, which I have now for the first time in my possession, in order to afford me that assistance which the nature of my distant botanical pursuits required. This afternoon I received His Excellency’s answer stating that he very much regretted that he could not, consistently with the nature of his instructions from home, comply with my request. That it was a sort of indulgence even refused to surveyors and medical officers of the Government, where various public duties frequently required the use of a horse, and he concluded with observing that were this indulgence extended to me “they would have reason to complain of so mortifying distinction.” Although I should not immediately stand in need of a horse, still I am well aware of the difficulty existing in obtaining any assistance of this nature from the Government (or from the Governor) when I might require it, and[p307] hence I was determined to avail myself of this apparent favourable opportunity by applying in a regular manner to the Governor. I returned the horse forthwith without delay of time, and occupied myself at my specimens.
1817 Sept 19th. Friday. It having been intimated to me that the “Matilda” and “Lloyd” transports, having troops on board, were expected to sail from this port on Sunday, I wrote to the Right Hon. Sir J. Banks and W. T. Aiton, Esqr., by way of India, informing them of my return from the late Western Expedition. . . .
1817 Sept 23rd. Tuesday. Occupied at my specimens. Visited by Philip King, Esq., with whom I had a slight interview upon the subject of the voyage of discovery now in contemplation. The colonial vessel “Lady Nelson,” being the only ship now in harbour suitable for such an expedition, has been taken up for this service and is about to undergo a thorough repair.
1817 October 3rd Friday. Having heard of the arrival of the “Lord Eldon” (Captn. Lamb) I went to Sydney in hopes of receiving letters by her, I found, however, that this ship had sailed from England prior to the “Lloyd” and “Dick” which had brought me letters from Sir Joseph Banks. Many interesting plants were in flowering state by the wayside, of which the following are the most remarkable, and have afforded me no opportunity of examining them previously. Comesperma volubile, rich in flower, meandering its slender branches on erect shrubs. Prostanthera sp., and Xanthosia pilosa (Rudge). Sphaerolobium vimineum, remarkable for the singular formation of its style. Pomaderris ferruginea, a small Phyllanthus, and Patersonia sericea, the seeds of which I sent to England per the “Kangaroo.” Stylidium graminifolium; some Orchidaceae, such as Thelymitra and Diuris were fast advancing to flower. Tetratheca glandulosa is now no mean ornament on the wayside, being thickly clothed with its rich purple flowers. Returned in the evening to Parramatta.
1817 Oct 22nd. Wednesday. At the invitation of a friend I went out to his farm near Liverpool, which gave me an opportunity of examining the botanical productions of some sterile land on[p308] the verge of his estate. I discovered a beautiful species of Stylidium, leaves linear, revolute; spike elongated, branching, bracts ovate lanceolate, suffruticose. Daviesia corymbosa, very frequent in the forest land, in flower. In clear waterholes I observed Actinocarpus sp., in fruit, appearing larger than the plant discovered on the Lachlan River in May last: also another aquatic, flowers spiked, one of the Alismaceae. In the forest land I gathered seeds of a Helichrysum, leaves linear, flowers white. Like other farms in the neighbourhood it is overrun with the Bursaria spinosa, now in fruit. Returned to Parramatta in the evening.
1817 Nov 14th. Friday. Finished seed and specimen list. Copying journal. Received the information that the “Mermaid” cutter would be ready for sea about the 1st of next month. She is now fitting out for Mr. King’s Expedition to the N. and N.W. coasts. . . . Made arrangements relative for mess on intending voyage.
1817 Dec 1st. Monday. Waited upon Lieutenant King to ascertain if any day had been definitely fixed for the sailing of the cutter on the voyage of discovery. He spoke in an equivocal manner of sailing in 10 days.
1817 Dec 2nd. Tuesday. This morning I waited upon His Excellency, according to appointment, in order to superintend the execution of a few drawings of plants discovered in the interior, which the Governor intends to transmit to Earl Bathurst.
1817 Dec 15th. Monday to Dec 20th. Saturday. The whole of this week was occupied with several arrangements necessary to be made for my voyage on board H.M. Cutter “Mermaid” which was reported ready for sea last Saturday, and Wednesday was fixed for the departure of the vessel. In consequence I shipped on board the whole of my luggage on the 16th. I likewise waited upon His Excellency to pay my humble respects and take my leave of him previous to my departure from the colony on a voyage of discovery under the direction of Mr. King. On this occasion the Governor availed himself of the opportunity and asked me whether I was satisfied with the assistance he had offered me during my residence in the colony. I thanked him for that species of indulgence. His[p309] Excellency has afforded me assistance by placing myself and a Government servant on the stores, by which means a ration of beef and wheat was advanced me weekly. I observed that I had hoped to have been provided with a small house or hut, a Government horse, and other little assistance that would have prevented a part of that expenditure on my part which has actually and unavoidably existed. His Excellency hinted to me that his instructions referring to me were in the most common and general terms, and that the indulgences I did enjoy were afforded me more from a favourable impression he had received of me upon my first arrival in the colony, than from any particular commands from home. His Excellency finally concluded by charging me with having written to Sir Joseph Banks against himself upon this subject, and that he had obtained his information from very good authority. I attempted (with becoming respect on my part) to explain the subject of my letters, that it was by no means intended as an accusation or charge against himself, but simply a communication to Sir Joseph Banks, whereby it will be seen how far those store indulgences and other aids are calculated to render my expenses in this colony lighter than they were in South America, where I purchased every necessary. His Excellency left me abruptly, and I returned to a temporary lodging I had taken until I sailed, determined to write another letter to Sir J. Banks, stating this interview and its result, doubting not that His Excellency would likewise write to my Patron on this subject. The sailing of the “Mermaid” is postponed until the 21st inst.