17 April – 5 May

April 17.

NORTH ARM OF THE LACHLAN. We proceeded along the right bank of the Lachlan, crossing at five miles a small arm or ana-branch* which had been seen higher up diverging from the river, and flowing towards the north-west by Mr. Oxley. The local name of it is Yamorrima. Beyond this watercourse Cannil plains extend and were more grassy than plains in general. I observed a small ridge of trap-rock near the river. We crossed soon after the base of Mount Torrens, also a hill of trap; and a continuation on this bank of the Lachlan of the Goulburn range. Mount Torrens is however only an elongated hill. The trap-rock reappears in some lower hills further northward, of which Mount Davison is the highest and most eastern.

(*Footnote. See Footnote below.)

QUAWYS. Beyond Mount Torrens we entered the region which lies to the westward of the Macquarie range, and found several new plants, especially a very pretty Xerotes, with sweetly perfumed flowers, being a good deal like X. leucocephala, but with the leaves filamentous at the edges, and the male spikes interrupted.* We encamped on a deep pond at a bend of the Lachlan named Gonniguldury. I learnt from the old native guide who accompanied us from Regent’s lake that they call those ponds of a river which never dry up quawy, a word which proved to be of use to us in descending the Lachlan. At this camp I found, by a careful observation of alpha and beta Centauri, that the magnetic variation was 8 degrees 56 minutes 15 seconds East.

(*Footnote. X. typhina, Lindley manuscripts; acaulis, foliis longissimis angusto-linearibus margine laevibus filamentosis basi laceris, capitulis omnibus cylindraceis lanatis foemincis simplicibus masculis interruptis.)

April 18. WALLANGOME. We continued along the riverbank passing quawys of various names as they were pointed out by our guide. We crossed the skirt of an extensive plain (Eeoappa) which brought in view just ahead of us a low ridge named Wallangome. At 8 1/2 miles we found the river close under the southern extremity of this hill, and its rocks so obstructed our passage that we were delayed an hour in clearing a way. I ascended that point nearest the river and determined its position by taking angles on various heights already laid down in my map such as Granard, Yarrarar, Mount Torrens, etc. The hill itself consisted chiefly of quartz rock, but at its base were water-worn blocks of quartzose sandstone containing pebbles of quartz, and they seemed to be the principal rock in the bed of the Lachlan.

As we proceeded a low rocky ridge or extremity from Wallangome extended upwards of a mile along the river. Soon after we had passed a bend called Taralago we crossed the southern limits of a plain of which the local name is Nyaindurry, being bounded on the north-west by an isolated hill named Moriattu. After passing successively two similar points of the river we reached that of Gooda, where we encamped, the latitude observed being 33 degrees 23 minutes 3 seconds South.


Mr. Stapylton, with overseer Burnett and the natives, had gone forward early in the morning towards the hills near this place in pursuit of wild cattle, which were said to abound near it. The tracks we perceived were old, and although the other party had found many that were newer they returned without having seen any of these wild animals. It appeared that a herd of such cattle had got together about Macquarie’s range, then only a short way ahead of us, and I saw no objections to the overseer’s killing one or two, as he wished to do, in order that we might feed our native guides without drawing so largely as we were otherwise compelled to do on our own stock of provisions. This was a fortunate day for us in regard to plants. Besides several curious kinds of grass,* a splendid blue Brunonia was found on Wallangome. Its colour surpassed any azure I had ever seen in flowers, the tinge being rather deeper than that of the turquoise. We also obtained the seed so that I hoped this plant, which seemed hardy enough, might become a pleasing addition to our horticultural treasures. The flowers are nature’s jewels.** (*Footnote. Lappago racemosa, W. and Aristida ramosa, R. Br.) (**Footnote. Croly’s Gems.)

The pink lily* was also found, as on Yerrarar, amongst rocks, but growing in rich red soil. We gathered a number of the bulbs, being very desirous to propagate this plant, which differs from the common white amaryllis and others belonging to the plains not only in colour, but also in the absence from their corona of intermediate teeth. We again found here the new Xerotes, having the flower in five or six round tufts on the blade. The flowered blades drooped around, radiating from the centre, while those without flowers stood upright, giving to the whole an uncommon appearance; the flower had a very pleasant perfume.

April 19. ASCEND MORIATTU. Mr. Stapylton conducted the party forward while I went to the summit of Moriattu with the theodolite. Thence I saw Mount Granard, Yerrarar, and Mount Torrens, also the various points which I had intersected from Wallangome. A level plain appeared to extend southward in the midst of the groups of ridges composing Macquarie and Peel’s ranges. Coccaparra, a range very abrupt on the eastern side, appeared to be Macquarie’s range of Oxley, and an elevated extremity of it, near the river, I took to be Mount Porteous, and of which the local name is Willin.* To the northward the most remarkable feature was a line of plains similar to those beside the main channel of the river, and they appeared to border a branch from it, which extended in a western direction under the base of a small hill named Murrangong, and far beyond it. The hill on which I stood was the most perfectly isolated that I had ever seen, low level ground surrounding it on every side. It consisted of a variety of the same quartz rock as Wallangome, but contained pebbles of laminated compact felspar. This hill was abrupt and rocky on the west and north-west sides, the best ascent being from the south-east.

(*Footnote. Willi, an opossum)

We overtook the party after it had crossed some extensive plains, where we observed a species of solanum, the berries of which our native guides gathered and ate.* Overseer Burnett made another search this day on Coccaparra range for the wild bullocks; the party fell in with a herd but it kept at a great distance and got off into scrubs. Their bedding places and paths were numerous, and it thus appeared that the number of these animals was considerable. We gathered on Coccaparra and Mount Porteous several bulbous plants of a species quite new to me, the root being very large. There also we found a remarkable acacia, having long upright needle-like leaves among which a few small tufts of yellow flowers were sparingly scattered.** We encamped on a pond of the river named Burrabadimba, after travelling fifteen miles.

(*Footnote. S. esuriale, Lindley manuscripts; caule humili suffruticoso, aculcis subulatis tenuibus in apice ramulorum et costa, foliis lineari-oblongis obtusis subrepandis utrinque cinereis stellato-pilosis, pedunculis subtrifloris, calycibus campanulatis pentagonis 5-dentatis stellato-pilosis corollis tomentosis multo brevioribus.)

(**Footnote. This proved to be the rare A. quadrilateralis of De Candolle.)

April 20. LEAVE THE LACHLAN TO TRAVEL WESTWARD. After proceeding some miles on this day’s journey our Cudjallagong guide pointed in a west-north-west direction as the way to Oolawambiloa. Leaving therefore the Kalare or Lachlan, near a great bend in its general course which below this (according to Mr. Oxley’s map) was south-west, we followed the route proposed by my native friend as it was precisely in the direction by which I wished to approach the Darling. The universal scarcity of water had however deprived me of every hope that any could be found in that country, at a season when we often sought it in vain, even in the bed of one of the large rivers of the country. Our guide however knew the nature of our wants, and also that of the country, and I eagerly followed him towards a hill, the most distant and most westerly on the northern horizon.

NO WATER. At sunset we halted full twenty miles short of that hill, beside the bed of a small river, resembling in capacity and the nature of its banks that of the Bogan; but to the manifest consternation of our guide we could find no water in it, although some ponds had been only recently dried up. This watercourse, he informed me, was the same which I had seen passing by Murrangong, but he said it did not return its waters to the Lachlan, a circumstance which I could not understand. Booraran was the name he gave it. He went with some of our people in the dark and found a few quarts of water two miles beyond it, but our cattle were obliged to pass the night without any. The barometer had been falling for several days and the wind arising suddenly at 9 P.M. brought a misty mass of cloud which began most providentially to drop upon us, to the great relief of our thirsty cattle. This day we found on the plains a new species of Sida with small yellow flowers, very fragrant, and on a long stalk.* In the woods I observed a eucalyptus of a graceful drooping character, apparently related to E. pilularis and amygdalina.

(*Footnote. S. fibulifera, Lindley manuscripts; incano-tomentosa, pusilla, diffusa, foliis ovato-oblongis obtusis dentatis basi cordatis, stipulis longissimis setaceis, pedunculis axillaribus aggregatis filiformibus petiolis longioribus, calycibus lanatis corolla parum brevioribus, fructu disciformi convexo tomentoso, coccis monospermis.)


April 21. A rainy morning. Some strange natives approached from the woods while I was looking at the country beyond the dry channel, in the direction in which our guide still wished us to proceed (about west-north-west). They were grave and important-looking old men, and each carried a light. They called out to me in a serious tone “Weeri kally,” words which I too well understood, meaning simply no water. I took my guide to them, but he still seemed in doubt about the scarcity.

COURSE DOWN THE LACHLAN RESUMED. It was necessary not to depend on uncertainties on such a point, and I therefore lost no time in shaping our course again towards the nearest bend of the Lachlan, which we reached after travelling nine miles in the rain, and we encamped beside a pond or quawy named Buree. I considered this day’s journey to be the first deviation from the most direct line of route towards that part of the Darling where my last journey terminated. It was evident that in common seasons the country I wished to traverse was not without water, our guide having suggested it as the way to Oolawambiloa (a name always referring to a great abundance of water). I considered it necessary now to ascertain, if possible, and before the heavy part of our equipment moved further, whether the Lachlan actually joined the Murrumbidgee near the point where Mr. Oxley saw its waters covering the country; or whether it pursued a course so much more to the westward as to have been taken for the Darling by Captain Sturt. Near the Lachlan at this place the Anthericum bulbosum occurred in abundance, and the cattle seemed to eat it with avidity.

On the bank of the river a new species of rosella appeared amongst the birds, and several were shot and preserved as specimens.


April 22.

I proceeded westward accompanied by five men and an aboriginal guide, all mounted on horseback. My object was to obtain, if possible, some knowledge of the final course of the Lachlan; and secondly to ascertain how far the hills to the north-west of our camp ranged beyond that very remarkable feature, resembling a cape or promontory and named Warranary, which marked the extent of our sight and knowledge at that time. This point was in a direct line between the camp we then occupied on the Lachlan and the lowest part of the Darling attained during the former journey, and we had just fallen back from want of water; a circumstance likely to compel me to follow the Lachlan downwards, at least if it could be ascertained thus early that this river could not possibly be the supposed Darling of Sturt. In case it proved otherwise I thought it not improbable that, at the end of two days’ journey westward, I might fall in with the Lachlan, and if I could find water in it at such a point under any circumstances, I considered that a position so much advanced would be equally favourable, either for reaching the junction of the Murray or the upper Darling. Should I succeed in reaching the Lachlan at about sixty miles west of my camp I might be satisfied that it was this river which Captain Sturt took for the Darling, and then I might seek that river by crossing the range on the north. Whereas, should I find sufficient reason to believe that the Darling would join the Murray, I might continue my journey down the Lachlan until I reduced the distance across to the Darling as much as the scarcity of water might render necessary. We traversed fine plains of greater extent than I had ever seen before, and in general of more tenacious surface. They were in many parts covered with salsolaceous plants, but I found also a kind of grass which I had not previously noticed; and a curious woolly plant with two-spined fruit, belonging to the genus Sclerolaena of Brown.* I looked in vain however for the continuation of the range to the northward. The cape before-mentioned first rose to a considerable height over the horizon, but as we proceeded it sunk so as to be just visible behind us, bearing at the point where we lay down for the night 31 degrees East of North. The continuation of the range, as we now saw, receded to the north-west; so that the horizon of these plains continued unbroken save by the cape-like point of Warranary.

(*Footnote. S. bicornis, Lindley manuscripts; caule lanato ramoso, foliis linearibus succulentis glabris, calycibus solitariis bispinosis lana alba involutis.) A flight of the cockatoo of the interior, with scarlet and yellow top-knot, passed over our heads from the north-west.

The intense interest of this day’s ride into a region quite unknown urged me forward at a good pace, having a horizon like that of the sea before and around us, and being in constant expectation of seeing either some distant summit or line of lofty river-trees; all the results of the journey depending on whether it should be the one or the other. Neither however, as already stated, appeared, and the sun went down on the unbroken horizon; nor could the native discern from the top of the highest tree any other objects besides the lofty yarra trees of the Lachlan, at a vast distance to the south-west by south. During the ride many a tree and bush rose on the horizon before us and sunk on that we left behind. We saw five emus together which did not run so far from us as usual but stood at a little distance to gaze on our advancing party. In a strip of scrub consisting of Acacia longifolia and lanceolata and some other graceful shrubs I found a new species of correa, remarkable for its small, green, bell-shaped flowers, and the almost total absence of hairiness from its leaves.*

(*Footnote. C. glabra, Lindley manuscripts; ramulis incanis, foliis ovalibus obtusis in petiolum angustatis glabris subtus punctatis, corolla brevi campanulata tomentosa 4-dentata calyce truncato cupulari triplo longiore.)

NIGHT WITHOUT WATER. Near this scrub we saw also many pigeons and parrots; which strengthened our hopes of finding water, which hopes however were disappointed, and we at length tied our horses’ heads to the trees in a bit of scrub, and I lay down on a few boughs for the night under the cover of a gunya or bower which, on such occasions, was set up by Woods in a very short time. (See Volume 1.)

April 23. Dew had providentially fallen during the night and it proved in some measure a substitute for the want of water to our horses. It was also highly favourable to the object of our tour in affording a refraction when the sun rose, so that Coccaparra (Macquarie’s range) appeared above the horizon and enabled me to determine our distance from it to be sixty miles. Still even this refractive state of the air brought no hills in view to the north or north-west, a circumstance which surprised me and afforded additional reason for supposing that the Lachlan might not unite so soon as had been imagined with the Murrumbidgee.

CONTINUE WESTWARD, AND SOUTH-WEST. This may require explanation. The course of rivers is in general conformable to the direction of ranges or the position of those hills which bound the valley or basin, however extensive, in which they flow. As this range fell off to the north-west, opposite to where the course of the Murrumbidgee had continued south-west, it was less probable that the Lachlan would unite with the main stream there than if the range had approached, or had even continued parallel to it.

I was disappointed in not finding sufficient water for our use remaining on the surface after the late rain; and although the country appeared declining to the westward, and we saw more pigeons and recent marks of natives, I was reluctantly obliged at length to bend my steps south-westward and afterwards south. The country we traversed was one level plain whose extent westward we neither knew nor could discover, and for some hours during this day’s ride scarcely a bush was visible.

SAND HILLS. Clumps of trees of the flooded box, or marura of the natives, appeared occasionally in and about the many hollows in the surface; and, on the isolated eminences of red sand, callitris trees grew, always hopeless objects to persons in want of water. These patches of sand however were not numerous, and never rose more than a few feet above the common surface, which in general consisted of clay more or less tenacious. Parts of it were quite naked; but others bore a crop of grass about three years old which probably sprang up after the last thorough drenching of the surface.

DEEP CRACKS IN THE EARTH. So parched however was the ground now, especially in those parts which bore no vegetation, that it yawned in cracks too deep to be fathomed by the length of my sabre and arm together.

ATRIPLEX. The best ground for travelling was of a reddish colour, glossy and firm with tufts of a species of atriplex upon it; a dwarf grass with large seeds not seen elsewhere by me was springing up, apparently in consequence of the late rains. This new vegetation did not grow near the old grass, and was too thin and low to tinge the surface.* The dreary look of the old grass in other parts, decayed and of the colour of lead, could not be exceeded; roots and stalks being all dead and decayed like rotten timber. (*Footnote. Panicum flavidum of Retz.)

SOUTH-WEST WINDS. Every blade drooped towards the north-east and showed plainly how prevalent the south-west winds were on these open wastes. In a gloomy day a wanderer lost upon them might have known his course merely by the uniform drooping of those blades of grass towards the north-east.

SEARCH FOR THE LACHLAN. After travelling ten miles south-west without perceiving any indication of the river I directed our course southward and, after proceeding seven miles in that direction, we came upon a hollow of Polygonum junceum so full of wide and deep cracks that our horses were got across with difficulty. It extended in a south-west direction towards some flooded box-trees. The country beyond was better wooded, and at eleven miles we at length approached a creek, and the large trees which enveloped it looked like those of the river itself; but we saw none of the yarra or white-trunked trees which always accompanied such waters and, although we certainly found the channel of a considerable current, it was shallow, quite dry, and full of Polygonum junceum.

I could hardly consider this a lateral branch of the river as I thought that I had seen its head in some hollows which I crossed on the plains the day before. After passing this channel however we descried a long dark line of river-trees which, as our horses were getting tired, we were now somewhat anxious to see and, the native perceiving smoke arising from the woods there, I, at his request, altered my course to that direction which was 30 degrees East of South.

THIRST OF BARNEY. None of the party suffered so much apparently from the want of water as Barney, our native friend. He rode foremost of the men with a tin pot in his hand, his eyes fixed on remote distance and his mouth open, with the lower lip projecting, as if to catch rain from the heavens. When we were within two miles of those trees we found enough of rainwater in a shallow hole to refresh our horses, but it was surrounded with such tempting grass that the animals preferred the verdure to it. Barney drank as much as he wished, and I advised the men to fill their horns, but the horses soon trod the water into mud, and all expected to find plenty near the smoke; a hope in which I was by no means sanguine.

CROSS VARIOUS DRY CHANNELS. The first line of trees we crossed enclosed only a shallow channel, overgrown with polygonum; and we in vain sought the natives although we saw where portions of fire had been recently dropped.

Three miles further we perceived a more promising line of trees and smoke arising from them also. There we found the yarra trees growing on a flat with a reedy channel meandering amongst them. The fire arose from some burning trees and grass; and there were huts of natives but no inhabitants.

GRAVES. Green bushes grew luxuriantly, and amongst them, in a romantic looking spot, three separate graves had been recently erected. Still we could perceive neither signs of water nor any of the natives who might have told us where to find it. Crossing another small plain of firm ground we came upon what seemed to be the main channel of the Lachlan, pursuing a course to the west-north-west. It had not however above one-third of the capacity of the bed above, but in every other respect it was similar. Having in vain looked for a waterhole we hastened towards another line of trees which we reached by sunset. It consisted of the yarra kind also, but overhung what was only a hollow in the midst of a plain, although evidently subject to inundation.

SECOND NIGHT WITHOUT WATER. To find water there seemed quite out of the question; but we were nevertheless obliged to halt, for the sun had set. Late in the night, as we lay burning with thirst and dreaming of water, a species of duck flew over our heads which, from its peculiar note, I knew I had previously heard on the Darling. It was flying towards the south-west.

April 24. We proceeded on the bearing of 80 degrees east of south, towards the nearest bend of a line of yarra river-trees. There we found, after riding two miles, another diminutive Lachlan, precisely similar to the former, but rather less: it was very sinuous in its course and full of holes, but surrounded by green bushes with chirping birds; but it was too obvious that these holes had been long, long dry. Thence I pursued a course 24 degrees North of East over naked ground, evidently subject at times to inundation, towards other large trees; being anxious to cross all the arms of the Lachlan before taking up its general course to guide us back to our camp which lay then, by my calculation, 43 miles in direct distance, higher up the river.


On this flat we passed a newly-raised tumulus, a remarkable circumstance considering the situation; for I had observed that the natives of the Darling always selected the higher ground for burying in; and it might be presumed that, on this part of the Lachlan, the tribe (whose marks were numerous on the trees) could find no heights within their territory.

REEDY SWAMP WITH DEAD TREES. We found that this belt of river-trees enclosed a dry swamp only, covered with dead reeds, amongst which stood a forest of dead yarra trees, bearing well-defined marks of water in dark stained rings at the height of about four feet on their barkless trunks. The soil was soft and rich and, where no roots of reeds bound it together, it opened in yawning cracks which were very deep. This dried up swamp was nearly a mile broad, and beyond it we found firm open and good ground; some very large eucalypti or yarra growing between it and the edge of the reeds.

ROUTE OF MR. OXLEY. I was now satisfied that we had crossed the whole bed of the Lachlan; and I thought Mr. Oxley’s line of route might have passed near the spot where I then stood; and that in a time of flood all the channels, save the one next the firm ground, might easily have escaped his notice. Here our horses began to be quite knocked up, chiefly from want of water; we therefore dismounted and dragged them on, for I hoped by taking the direction of Mr. Oxley’s line of route, as shown on his map, that the branches would soon concentrate in one united channel.

DRY BED OF THE LACHLAN. At the end of four miles we found that junction had taken place, and the bed of the river as broad and deep as usual, but it was everywhere dry. I made the people lead the exhausted horses from point to point, while I examined all the bends, for the course was very sinuous; still I saw no appearance of water, nor even of any having recently dried up.

FIND AT LENGTH A LARGE POOL. After proceeding thus about two miles, the chirping of birds and a tree full of chattering parrots raised my hopes that water was near; and at a very sharp turn of the channel, to the great delight of all, I at length saw a large and deep pool. Our horses stood drinking a full quarter of an hour; and during the time a duck dropped into the pond amongst them. The poor bird appeared to have been as much overcome by thirst as ourselves for, on the inconsiderate native throwing his boomerang, it was scarcely able to fly to the top of the opposite bank. As the grass was good I halted during the remainder of the day for the sake of our horses; although the delay subjected us to another night in the bush. I made the men sit down out of sight of the pond for a reason which I did not choose to tell them; but it was that we might not, by our presence, deprive many other starving creatures of a benefit which Providence had so bountifully afforded to us.

On a large tree overlooking the pond, and which had already been deprived by the natives of a considerable patch of bark, I chalked the letter M, which the men cut out of the solid wood with their tomahawks. This being the lowest permanent pond above the separation of the river into so many arms, I thought that by such a mark of a white man the natives would be more ready to point out the spot to any future traveller when required. I found about the fires of the natives a number of small balls of dry fibre resembling hemp, and I at first supposed it to be a preparation for making nets, having seen such on the Darling.

FOOD OF THE NATIVES DISCOVERED. Barney the native however soon set me right by taking up the root of a large reed or bulrush which grew in a dry lagoon hard by, and by showing me how the natives extracted from the rhizoma a quantity of gluten; and this was what they eat, obtaining it by chewing the fibre. They take up the root of the bulrush in lengths of about eight or ten inches, peel off the outer rind and lay it a little before the fire; then they twist and loosen the fibres, when a quantity of gluten, exactly resembling wheaten flour, may be shaken out, affording at all times a ready and wholesome food. It struck me that this gluten, which they call Balyan, must be the staff of life to the tribes inhabiting these morasses, where tumuli and other traces of human beings were more abundant than at any part of the Lachlan that I had visited.

April 25. HORSES KNOCK UP. We continued our route upwards along the right bank of the Lachlan on a bearing of 36 degrees East of North taken from Mr. Oxley’s map: and coming to the river at nine miles we again watered our horses, and rested them for they were very weak. After travelling fifteen miles one of them rode by Woods, who carried the theodolite, knocked up when we were far from the Lachlan. With some difficulty we however got it on until we reached the river and, finding water, we halted for the day after a ride of twenty-one miles.

SCENERY ON THE LACHLAN. The scenery was highly picturesque at that part of the banks of the Lachlan notwithstanding the dreary level of the naked plains back from them.

CHARACTER OF THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF TREES. The yarra grew here, as on the Darling, to a gigantic size, the height sometimes exceeding 100 feet; and its huge gnarled trunks, wild romantic-formed branches often twisting in coils, shining white or light red bark, and dark masses of foliage, with consequent streaks of shadow below, frequently produced effects fully equal to the wildest forest scenery of Ruysdael or Waterloo. Often as I hurried along did I take my last look with reluctance of scenes forming the most captivating studies. The yarra is certainly a pleasing object in various respects; its shining bark and lofty height inform the traveller of a distant probability of water, or at least of the bed of a river or lake; and being visible over all other trees it usually marks the course of rivers so well that, in travelling along the Darling and Lachlan, I could with ease trace the general course of the river without approaching its banks until I wished to encamp. The nature and character of several other species of the genus eucalyptus were nevertheless very different and peculiar. The small kind, covered with a rough bark and never exceeding the size of fruit trees in an orchard and called, I believe, by Mr. Oxley, the dwarf-box, but by the natives goborro, grows only on plains subject to inundation, and it usually bears on the lower part of the trunk the mark of the water by which it is at times surrounded. Between the goborro and the yarra there seems this difference: the yarra grows only on the banks of rivers, lakes, or ponds, from the water of which the roots derive nourishment; but when the trunk itself has been too long immersed the tree dies; as appeared on various lakes and in reedy swamps on the Lachlan. The goborro on the contrary seldom grows on the banks of a running stream, but seems to thrive in inundations, however long their duration. Mr. Oxley remarked during his wet journey that there was always water where these trees grew. We found them in most cases during a dry season, a sure indication that none was to be discovered near them. It may be observed however that all permanent waters are invariably surrounded by the yarra. These peculiarities we ascertained only after examining many a hopeless hollow where grew the goborro by itself; nor until I had found my sable guides eagerly scanning the yarra from afar when in search of water, and condemning any distant view of goborro trees as hopeless during that dry season. In describing the trees which ornamented the river scenery I must not omit to mention a long-leaved acacia whose dark stems and sombre foliage, drooping over the bank, presented a striking and pleasing contrast to the yarra trunks, and the light soil of the water-worn banks. The bimbel (or spear-wood) which grows on dry forest land, the pine-like Callitris pyramidalis on red sandhills, and a variety of acacias in the scrubs, generally present groups of the most picturesque description.

April 26. RETURN TO THE PARTY. We continued towards the camp which I reached at about nine miles and found that nothing extraordinary had occurred during my absence. The overseer had been again to Coccoparra to hunt the wild cattle (by my orders) yet, although he found a herd and put two bullets through one animal, all escaped. The party thought to hem them in by driving them to the foot of the range; but as soon as the cattle found themselves beset they climbed, apparently without much difficulty, the abrupt rocky face of the hills, throwing down on their ascent the large fragments and loose stones that lay in their way and which, rolling down the declivities, checked their pursuers until the bullocks, wounded and all, escaped.

DEAD BODY FOUND IN THE WATER. The working cattle had little good grass at the camp, and another reason I had for quitting it was the state of the waterhole. Even at first it was small and the water had a slightly putrid taste, the cause of which having been discovered, the water had become still less palatable. Piper, our native interpreter, in diving for fish on the previous day had, to his horror, brought up on his spear, instead of a fish, the putrid leg of a man! Our guide (to the Booraran) had left the camp during my absence; and it was said that he was aware of the circumstance of the body of a native having been thrown into the hole; for he had abstained from drinking any of the water.

I had still however a desire to reconnoitre the country to the southward in hopes that I might see enough of its features to enable me to arrive at some conclusion as to the final course of the Lachlan, and to arrange our further journey accordingly.

April 27. ASCEND BURRADORGANG. I rode to Burradorgang, a saddle-backed hill bearing 117 degrees from our camp and distant 19 miles. This hill I found to be the most western and the last between the Murrumbidgee and the Lachlan. I only reached its base with tired horses an hour before dusk. Just as I dismounted and began to climb the rocks a drizzling rain came on from the north-west, and it unfortunately first obscured that portion of the horizon which I was most anxious to see.

VIEW FROM BURRADORGANG. To the northward, eastward, and southward however it continued clear, and the points visible in those directions fully occupied my attention until the western horizon became distinct. I was at once enabled to identify this hill with an angle observed when on the top of Yerrarar. Granard and the principal summits of Peel’s and Macquarie’s ranges were visible and, as the sky cleared I could see Warranary, that south-western extremity of the Mount Granard range already mentioned, and which I was enabled by my observations here to connect with the trigonometrical survey. But even from this summit nothing could be observed beyond besides the continuation of the range towards the north-west at an immense distance. The object next in importance was the country between me and the Murrumbidgee in a south-west direction. I expected that some kind of ridge or hills above the common level would separate that river from the Lachlan if the courses of both rivers continued to separate to any considerable distance westward. But although I perceived a low ridge extending towards the west from the most southern part of Peel’s range I also saw that it terminated in the low level of the plains at about 20 degrees West of South.

A RAINY NIGHT WITHOUT SHELTER. Burradorgang, this last of hills, consisted of ferruginous sandstone like all the others I saw further in the interior during the former journey. I descended to its base just as darkness came on; and myself and the men with me were forced to pass the night exposed to the wind and rain at a place where nevertheless we could find no water for our horses.

April 28. The rain ceased some time before daybreak, but the weather continued cloudy and, fogs hanging on the distant horizon, I was not tempted again to ascend the mountain as I certainly should have done had the morning been clear. We mounted and retraced our steps to the camp. The country between this hill and the river consisted chiefly of soft red soil in which grew the cypress-like callitris, also acacia, and the bimbel or spear-wood.* It seemed to consist of a very low undulation, extending from the hill into the great angle formed by the Lachlan, whose general course changes near that camp from west to south-west. There was however a tract extending southward from the river for about three miles, on which grew yarra trees bearing the marks of occasional floods to the height of a foot above the common surface. This ground was probably in part under water when Mr. Oxley passed it, as he represents a swamp or morass in his map within this bend of the river. I found on the low tract, between Burradorgang and our camp, a new curious species of solanum, so completely covered with yellow prickles that its flowers and leaves could scarcely be seen.** (*Footnote. The wood named bimbel by the natives grows with a shining green lance-shaped leaf, and is in much request with them for the purpose of making their spears, boomerangs, waddies, etc.)

(**Footnote. S. ferocissimum, Lindl manuscripts; caule herbaceo erecto: aculeis confertissimis pugioniformibus arcuatis, foliis linearibus obtusis utrinque praesertim subtus furfuraceo-tomentosis aculeatissimis, pedunculis subtrifloris foliorum longitudine, calycibus inermibus.)

A NEW GUIDE. On reaching the camp I found that Piper had fallen in with some natives, one of whom, an old man, undertook to conduct us to the Murrumbidgee in five days, assuring us that the Lachlan entered that river. This information, the dry state of the country, and the knowledge I had acquired of its principal features, determined me to follow the course of the Lachlan; and in the event of its soon uniting with the Murrumbidgee, to continue along the right bank of that river to its junction with the Murray, then to leave the bulk of our equipment, the carts and most of the cattle, and complete the survey of the Darling with a lighter party.

April 29. We moved down the Lachlan, travelling in my former track, and we pitched our tents near the place where I had slept on the 26th, the cattle not being able to go further, from the softness of the ground after the rain.

April 30. Following the same track, the party reached, at the distance of twelve miles, an angle of the river named Curwaddilly, at which there was a good pond, and here we encamped. From this point I obtained a bearing on Burradorgang, and it was the lowest station on the river which could be connected with my survey of the hills for, when Burradorgang sunk below the eastern horizon, a perfectly level line bounded our view on all sides.

May 1. NATIVE DOG. Just as the party was leaving the ground a noise was heard in the rear, and two shots were fired before I could hasten to the spot. These I found had been inconsiderately fired by Jones our shepherd at a native dog belonging to our new guide and which had attacked the sheep. This circumstance was rather unfortunate, for our guide soon after fell behind, alleging to the party that he was ill. I knew however where to find water that day; and we proceeded to the fine pond which I was so fortunate as to discover on the 24th ultimo after our horses had suffered thirst for three days and two nights. Two young natives who had accompanied us for some days undertook to find water for a couple of journeys beyond this pond. The men caught in this friendly pool several good cod-perch (Gristes peelii) a fish surpassing, in my opinion, all others in Australia. As we crossed the plains this day I observed the natives eating a plant which grew in the hollows and we found it, when boiled, a very good vegetable.

May 2. BRANCHES OF THE LACHLAN. We pursued a course nearly west for seven miles, having the Lachlan on our left until we were stopped by a watercourse, or branch of the river, which crossed our intended route at rightangles. Its banks were steep and the passage of our waggons was consequently a work of difficulty, but the best crossing place appeared to be just where it left the main channel. Here accordingly we cut down the bank on each side with spades and filled up the soft lowest part of the hollow with stumps and branches of trees, and all of which being covered with earth from the sides, the carts were got safely across after about half an hour’s work. We soon however came to another similar watercourse, but by the advice of the natives we followed it to the northward, and we found that at a short distance it branched into shallow hollows of polygonum which we traversed without delay or difficulty. Soon after we had resumed our course by crossing these hollows, we came upon the main channel which very much resembled other parts of the Lachlan, only that it was smaller.

A NATIVE CAMP. Piper’s gin came to tell us that there was water ahead, and that natives were there. We accordingly approached with caution and having found two ponds of water we encamped beside them, the local name of the situation being Combedyega.

CHILDREN. A fire was burning near the water and at it sat a black child about seven or eight years old, quite blind. All the other natives had fled save one poor little girl still younger who, notwithstanding the appearance of such strange beings as we must have seemed to her, and the terror of those who fled, nevertheless lingered about the bushes and at length took her seat beside the blind boy. A large supply of the balyan root lay near them, and a dog so lean as scarcely to be able to stand, drew his feeble body close up beside the two children as if desirous to defend them. They formed indeed a miserable group, exhibiting nevertheless instances of affection and fidelity creditable both to the human and canine species. An old man came up to the fire afterwards with other children. He told us the name of the waterholes between that place and the Murrumbidgee, but he could not be prevailed on to be our guide.


Subsequently however a gin who was a widow, with the little girl above-mentioned, whose age might be about four years, was persuaded by him to accompany us.

HORSE KILLED. At this camp, just after I had inspected the horses and particularly noticed one as the second best draught animal we had, I was requested by the overseer to look at him again, both bones of his near thigh having been broken by an unlucky kick from a mare. The horse had been with me on two former expeditions, and it was with great regret that I consented to his being shot. We were enabled to regale the old native with his flesh, the men shrewdly giving him to understand through Piper that the horse was with us what the emu was with them, too good a thing to be eaten by young men. He seemed to relish it much and next morning we left him roasting a large piece.

THE BALYAN ROOT. The principal food of these inhabitants of the Kalare or Lachlan appeared to be balyan, the rhizoma, as already stated, of a monocotyledonous plant or bulrush growing amongst the reeds. It contains so much gluten that one of our party, Charles Webb, made in a short time some excellent cakes of it; and they seemed to me lighter and sweeter than those prepared from common flour.


The natives gather the roots and carry them on their heads in great bundles within a piece of net. The old man came thus loaded to the fire where the blind child was seated; and indeed this was obviously their chief food among the marshes.

May 3. We proceeded nearly west according to the suggestion of our female guide. We crossed, at a few miles from Combedyega, my track in the afternoon of April 23rd; and soon after we entered on plains similar to those which we had traversed that day:

The morn was wasted in the pathless grass, And long and lonesome was the wild to pass.

REACH THE UNITED CHANNEL OF THE LACHLAN. We saw however the river-line of trees on our left, and late in the day we approached it. Here I recognised the Lachlan again united in a single channel, which looked as capacious as it was above, the only difference being that the yarra trees seemed low and of stunted growth. A singular appearance on the bushes which grew on the immediate bank attracted my attention. A paper-like substance hung over them in the manner in which linen is sometimes thrown over a hedge; but on examination it appeared to be the dried scum of stagnant water. This–marks of water on the trees and the less water-worn character of the banks which were of even slope and grassy–seemed to show that the current of the river during floods here loses its force, and that the water is consequently slower in subsiding than higher up the stream.

NO WATER. The course of the river was very tortuous, but still I in vain traced the channel for water, even in the sharpest of its turnings, until long after it was quite dark. We encamped at length near a small muddy hole discovered with the assistance of our female guide, after having travelled nineteen miles. I found the latitude of this camp to be 33 degrees 52 minutes 59 seconds, which was so near that of Mr. Oxley’s lowest point according to his book that I concluded we must be close to it. Fortunately we found some natives at this waterhole who told us that a long while ago white men had been encamped on the opposite side of the Kalare, and that the place where they had marked a tree was not very far distant, but that it had recently been burnt down. We saw today for the first time on the Kalare the red-top cockatoo (Plyctolophus leadbeateri).

May 4. NATIVES’ ACCOUNT OF THE RIVERS LOWER DOWN. This morning it rained and, considering the long journey of yesterday, I gave the cattle rest. Here the natives again told us of Oolawambiloa, near a great river coming from the north, and only five days’ journey from where we should make the Murrumbidgee. They also told us that the latter river was joined by another coming from the south before it reached Oolawambiloa.

We had now therefore the direct testimony of the natives that the Darling (for it could be no other) joined the Murray and that the river Lachlan did not lose its channel here as supposed by Mr. Oxley, but that in five days’ journey further we might expect to trace it into the Murrumbidgee.

May 5. MR. OXLEY’S LOWEST CAMP ON THE LACHLAN. The ground being very heavy the cattle in the carts proceeded but slowly along the plains to the northward of the Lachlan; and while the party followed Mr. Stapylton I went along the bank with the natives to visit Mr. Oxley’s last camp, which was not above a mile from that we had left. On my way I crossed a bed of fine gravel, a circumstance the more remarkable, not only because gravel was so uncommon on these muddy plains, but because Mr. Oxley had also remarked that no stone of any kind could be seen within five miles of the place. This gravel consisted of sand and pebbles of quartz about the size of a pea. Our female guide, who appeared to be about thirty years of age, remembered the visit of the white men; and she this day showed me the spot where Mr. Oxley’s tent stood, and the root with some remains of the branches of a tree near it which had been burnt down very recently, and on which she said some marks were cut.

SLOW GROWTH OF TREES. Several trees around had been sawn and on two, about thirty yards west from the burnt stump, were the letters WW and IW 1817. The tree bearing the last letters was a goborro or dwarf box, and had been killed two years before by the natives stripping off a sheet of bark; but from the growth of the solid wood around the carved part it appeared that this tree had increased in diameter about an inch and a half in seventeen years; the whole diameter, including the bark, being sixteen inches. We immediately dug around the burnt stump in search of the bottle deposited there by Mr. Oxley, but without success. The gins said that he rode forward some way beyond, and marked another tree at the furthest place he reached. I accordingly went there with them, and they showed me a tree marked on each side but, the cuttings being in the bark only, they were almost grown out. It stood beside a small branch or outlet of the river, which led into a hollow of polygonum. The natives also said that one of Mr. Oxley’s men was nearly drowned in trying to cross this but that they got him out. They positively assured me that this was the farthest point Mr. Oxley reached; and it seemed the more probable as during a flood the deep and narrow gully extending between the river and the field of polygonum must have then been under water, and a most discouraging impediment to the traveller. I place this spot in latitude 33 degrees 45 minutes 10 seconds South; longitude 144 degrees 56 minutes East. The natives further informed me that three white men on horseback who had canoes (boats) on the Murrumbidgee had visited this part of the Lachlan since, and that after crossing it and going a little way beyond, they had returned.

A TRIBE OF NATIVES COME TO US. In the evening, while a heavy shower fell, the natives who had come with me gave the alarm that a powerful tribe was advancing with scouts ahead, as when they mean mischief. We were immediately under arms and soon saw a small tribe consisting chiefly of old men, women, and children, approaching our party. They sat down very quietly near us, lighting their fire and making huts without saying a word; and on Piper going to them we soon came to a good understanding.


From them we learnt that, after the tree at Oxley’s camp had been burnt down, a bottle had been found by a child who broke it, and that it contained a letter. This information saved us all further search, although it had been my intention to halt next day and send back six men to dig for the bottle; I had purposed also to have promised a full one in exchange for it, if they had found it.