30 March

MR. OXLEY’S TREE.

I ascertained accidentally this morning that we were abreast of the spot
where Mr. Oxley left the Lachlan and proceeded southward. This I learnt
from a marked tree which a native pointed out to me distant about 250
yards south from our camp, on the opposite side of a branch of the river.
On this tree were still legible the names of Mr. Oxley and Mr. Evans; and
although the inscription had been there nineteen years the tree seemed
still in full vigour; nor could its girth have altered much, judging from
the letters which were still as sharp as when first cut, only the bark
having overgrown part of them had been recently cleared away a little as
if to render the letters more legible. I endeavoured to preserve still
longer an inscription which had withstood the fires of the bush and the
tomahawks of the natives for such a length of time by making a drawing of
it as it then appeared.

By Mr. Oxley’s journal we learn that where the river formed two branches
he, on the 17th of May, 1817, hauled up his boats, and on the following
day commenced his intended journey towards the south-east. But our
latitudes also assisted us in verifying the spot. Mr. Oxley made the
latitude of his camp (doubtless near the tree) 33 degrees 15 minutes 34
seconds South which gives a difference of seven seconds for the 250 yards
between the tree and my camp. The variation of the needle Mr. Oxley found
to be here, in 1817, 7 degrees 0 minutes 8 seconds East and I had made it
at the last camp (Merimbah) 8 degrees 54 minutes 15 seconds East, or
nearly two degrees more, in a lapse of 19 years. The longitude of this
point as now ascertained by trigonometrical measurement from Parramatta
was 147 degrees 33 minutes 50 seconds East, or 17 minutes 50 seconds
(equal on this parallel to 17 1/4 miles) nearer to Sydney than it is laid
down by Mr. Oxley.

We proceeded from this camp towards the southern extremity of Mount
Cunningham, under which a small branch of the Lachlan passes so close
that the party was occupied an hour and a half in removing rocks to open
a passage for the carts. We then got into an open country in which we
soon saw the same dry branch of the Lachlan before us; but we turned more
to the north-west until we reached a slightly undulated surface. No
branch of the river extends to the northward of Mount Cunningham as shown
on Mr. Oxley’s map; but a small tributary watercourse, then dry, skirts
the eastern side of the hill, and enters that branch of the Lachlan which
we were upon.

Yesterday and this day had been so excessively hot (82 degrees in the
shade) that I confidently anticipated rain, especially when the sky
became cloudy to the westward, while the wind blew steadily from the
opposite quarter. A dense body of vapour in the shape of stratus, or fall
cloud of the meteorologist, was at the same time stretching eastward
along the distant horizon on both sides of us. After crossing some sound,
open plains of stiff clay, guided by the natives, we gained an extensive
pond of muddy water and encamped on a hill of red sand on its northern
bank, and under shelter of a grove of callitris trees.

RAIN.

The wind now began to blow and the sky, to my great delight, being at
length overcast, promised rain enough to fill the streams and waterholes:
at twilight it began to come down. In the woods we passed through this
day we found a curious willow-like acacia with the leaves slightly
covered with bloom, and sprinkled on the underside with numerous reddish
minute drops of resin.* The Pittosporum angustifolium we also recognised
here, loaded with its singular orange-coloured bivalved fruit.

(*Footnote. This is allied in some respects to A. verniciflua and
exudans, but is a very distinct and well-marked species. A. salicina,
Lindley manuscripts; glaucescens, ramulis angulatis, phyllodiis
divaricatis lineari et oblongo-lanceolatis utrinque angustatis
obtusissimis uninerviis venulis pinnatis: ipso apice glandulosis subtus
resinoso-punctatis, capitulis 3-5 racemosis phyllodiis triplo
brevioribus.)