7 April


April 7.

I set off early for Mount Granard, followed by six men on horseback and a
native named Barney who was also mounted. We rode at a smart pace on a
bearing of 280 degrees across thirty miles of soft red sand in which the
horses sank up to their fetlocks, and we reached the foot of the hill a
little before sunset.


Throughout that extent we neither saw a single watercourse nor discovered
the least indication of water having lodged there during any season. At
eleven miles from the camp we crossed a low ridge of granite (named
Tarratta) a hopeful circumstance to us as promising a primitive range of
hills between the Darling and Lachlan, and because in a crevice of this
granite our aboriginal guide found some water. The desert tract we
crossed was in other respects unvaried except that, in one place, we
passed through four miles of a kind of scrub which presented difficulties
of a new character. The whole of it consisted of bushes of a dwarf
species of eucalyptus, doubtless E. dumosa (A. Cunningham) which grew in
a manner that rendered it impossible to proceed, except in a very sinuous
direction, and then with difficulty by pushing our horses between stiffly
grown branches. Where no bushes grew the earth was naked, except where
some tufts of a coarse matted weed resembling Spinifex impeded the
horses, but seemed to be intended by Providence to bind down these desert
sands. We saw blue ranges on our right, and I hoped that before we
ascended Mount Granard we should cross some watercourse coming from them;
but nothing of the kind appeared and, after traversing a dry sandy flat,
we began to ascend. Finding myself separated from the summit, after we
had climbed some way, by a deep rocky ravine, and being in doubt about
obtaining water, I sent the people with the horses to encamp in the
valley to which that ravine opened, with directions to look for water
while daylight lasted.


Meanwhile I proceeded to the summit with one of the men and the native. I
arrived there and, just before the sun went down, obtained an
uninterrupted view of the western horizon; but the scene was inconclusive
as to the existence of such a dividing range as I hoped to see. Ridges
and summits appeared abundantly enough, but they were not of a bold or
connected character, and I did not obtain upon the whole a better idea
than I previously had respecting the extension of that singular group of
hills to the westward. I stood upon the best height however for carrying
on my angles in that direction. To the eastward I saw Hurd’s Peak and
Bolloon, also Goulburn’s and Macquarie’s ranges, Mount Torrens, and Mount
Aiton of Oxley. The last hill appeared alone on the horizon, in a
south-south-east direction as shown in his map. But the most commanding
point was Yerrarar, the highest apex of Goulburn range, forming with
Bolloon and this station an almost equilateral triangle of about 30 miles
a side.

The features before us terminated rather abruptly towards the south like
cliffs of tableland, and seemed to mark out the basin of the Lachlan; but
beyond those parts overlooking Mr. Oxley’s route I could obtain no view,
although I perceived that I might from Yerrarar.


Having completed my work as the sun was setting I hastened to the valley,
and learnt that the party had discovered neither water nor grass. Barney
the native had nevertheless obtained both when with me at the top of the
mountain; and therefore, although it was dark and we were all fatigued,
yet up that rocky mountain we were compelled to go with the horses, and
encamp near the summit beside a little pool of water which had been
well-known to Barney at other times. On this elevated crest the air was
surprisingly mild during the night for, although I slept in my clothes
and on the ground, I enjoyed its freshness as a great relief from the
oppressive heat of the day. Our singular bivouac on the summit, which I
had so long wished to visit, was adorned with a strange-looking tree,
probably Casuarina glauca.