29 June – 11 July

June 29.

THE PARTY QUITS THE MURRAY.

The party moved forward in the direction of Mount Hope and, leaving it on

the left, we continued towards Pyramid Hill where we encamped at about

three-quarters of a mile from its base. We were under no restraint now in

selecting a camp from any scarcity of water or grass; for all hollows in

the plains contained some water and grass grew everywhere. The strips of

wood which diversified the country as seen from the hills generally

enclosed a depression with polygonum bushes, but without any marks of

having had any water in them although, in very wet seasons, some probably

lodges there, as in so many canals, and this indeed seemed to me to be a

country where canals would answer well, not so much perhaps for inland

navigation as for the better distribution of water over a fertile country

enclosed as this is by copious rivers.

June 30.

PYRAMID HILL.

Having seen the party on the way and directed it to proceed on a bearing

of 215 degrees from North I ascended the rocky pyramidic hill, which I

found arose to the height of 300 feet above the plain.

BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY SEEN FROM IT.

Its apex consisted of a single block of granite, and the view was

exceedingly beautiful over the surrounding plains, shining fresh and

green in the light of a fine morning. The scene was different from

anything I had ever before witnessed either in New South Wales or

elsewhere. A land so inviting and still without inhabitants! As I stood,

the first European intruder on the sublime solitude of these verdant

plains as yet untouched by flocks or herds, I felt conscious of being the

harbinger of mighty changes; and that our steps would soon be followed by

the men and the animals for which it seemed to have been prepared. A

haziness in the air prevented me however from perceiving clearly the

distant horizon from that summit, but I saw and intersected those

mountains to the southward which I had observed from Mount Hope.

The progress of the party was still visible from that hill, pursuing

their course over the distant plains like a solitary line of ants. I

overtook it when a good many miles on; and we encamped after travelling

upwards of fourteen miles in one uninterrupted straight line. Our camp

was chosen on the skirts of a forest of box, having a plain on the east

covered with rich grass, and where we found some small pools of

rainwater.

July 1.

Proceeding still on the bearing followed yesterday we reached at three

miles from our camp a fine chain of ponds. They were deep, full of water,

and surrounded by strong yarra trees. Passing them we met a small scrub

of casuarinae which we avoided; and we next entered on a fine plain in

which the anthisteria or oatgrass appeared. This is the same grass which

grows on the most fertile parts of the counties of Argyle and Murray and

is, I believe, the best Australian grass for cattle: it is also one of

the surest indications of a good soil and dry situation.

DISCOVERY OF THE RIVER YARRAYNE.

Beyond the plain the line of noble yarra trees, which I had observed from

Mount Hope, gave almost certain promise of a river; and at 6 1/2 miles

our journey was terminated by a deep running stream. The banks were steep

and about twenty feet high, but covered thickly with grass to the edge of

the water. The yarra trees grew by the brink of the stream and not on the

top of the bank. The water had a brown appearance as if it came from

melted snow but, from the equality of depth (about nine feet) and other

circumstances, I was of opinion that it was a permanent running stream.

The current ran at the rate of four chains in 122 seconds, or near 1 1/2

mile per hour; thus it would appear from what we had seen that there is

much uniformity in the velocity of the rivers, and consequently in the

general inclination of the surface. The banks of this little river were

however very different in some respects from any we had previously seen,

being everywhere covered thickly with grass. No fallen timber impeded its

course, nor was there any indication in the banks that the course was

ever in the least degree affected by such obstructions.

A BRIDGE MADE ACROSS IT.

It was so narrow that I anticipated little difficulty in making a bridge

by felling some of the overhanging trees. Finding a large one already

fallen across the stream where the slopes of the banks could be most

readily made passable, we lost no time in felling another which broke

against the opposite bank and sunk into the water. No other large trees

grew near but the banks were, at that place, so favourable for the

passage of the waggons that I determined to take advantage of the large

fallen tree; and to construct a bridge by bringing others of smaller

dimensions to it, according to the accompanying plan, and not unmindful

of the useful suggestions of Sir Howard Douglas respecting temporary

bridges.

July 2.

Late in the evening of this day we completed a bridge formed of short but

strong sleepers, laid diagonally to the fallen tree which constituted its

main support, and the whole was covered with earth from cuttings made in

the banks to render it accessible to the carts. At length everything was

ready for crossing and we had thus a prospect of being able to advance

beyond the river into that unknown but promising land of hill and dale.

July 3.

COVERED BY A SUDDEN RISE OF THE RIVER.

This morning our bridge was no longer to be seen, the river having risen

so much during the night that it was four feet under water. Yet no rain

had fallen for five days previous, and we could account for this

unexpected flood only by supposing that the powerful shining of the sun

during the last two days had melted the snow near the sources of the

stream. At noon the water had risen fourteen feet. A whispering sound

much resembling wind among the trees now arose from it and, however

inconvenient to us, the novelty of a sudden rise in the river was quite

refreshing, accustomed as we had been so long to wander in the beds of

rivers and to seek in vain for water. Our little bridge continued to be

passable even when covered with four feet of water but, as it had no

parapets, we could not prevent some of the bullocks from going over the

side on attempting to cross when it was thus covered.

THEN CROSS IT IN BOATS.

The river still continuing to rise, we were compelled at last to launch

the boats, and by this means we effected the passage of the whole party

and equipment before sunset; the boats having been also again mounted on

the carriage the same evening. The carts and boat-carriage were drawn

through the bed of the river by means of the drag-chains which reached

from the carriage on one side to a strong team of bullocks on the other.

USEFUL ASSISTANCE OF PIPER.

This was a very busy day for the whole party, black and white; I cannot

fairly say savage and civilised for, in most of our difficulties by flood

and field, the intelligence and skill of our sable friends made the

whitefellows appear rather stupid. They could read traces on the earth,

climb trees, or dive into the water better than the ablest of us. In

tracing lost cattle, speaking to the wild natives, hunting, or diving,

Piper was the most accomplished man in the camp. In person he was the

tallest, and in authority he was allowed to consider himself almost next

to me, the better to secure his best exertions. When Mr. Stapylton first

arrived Piper came to my tent and observed that “That fellow had TWO

coats,” no doubt meaning that I ought to give one of them to him! The men

he despised, and he would only act by my orders. This day he rendered us

much useful assistance in the water; for instance, when a cart stuck in

the bottom of the river, the rope by which it was to be drawn through

having broken, Piper, by diving, attached a heavy chain to it, thereby

enabling the party to draw it out with the teams.

OUR FEMALE GUIDE DEPARTS.

At this place The Widow, being far beyond her own country, was inclined

to go back and, although I intended to put her on a more direct and safe

way home after we should pass the heads of the Murrumbidgee on our

return, I could not detain her longer than she wished. Her child, to whom

she appeared devotedly attached, was fast recovering the use of its

broken limb; and the mother seemed uneasy under an apprehension that I

wanted to deprive her of this child. I certainly had always wished to

take back with me to Sydney an aboriginal child with the intention of

ascertaining what might be the effect of education upon one of that race.

This little savage, who at first would prefer a snake or lizard to a

piece of bread, had become so far civilised at length as to prefer bread;

and it began to cry bitterly on leaving us. The mother however thought

nothing of swimming, even at that season, across the broad waters of the

Millewa, as she should be obliged to do, pushing the child before her,

floating on a piece of bark.

July 4.

ENTER A HILLY COUNTRY.

At the distance of about a mile to the southward a line of trees marked

the course of another channel which, containing only a few ponds, we

crossed without difficulty. Beyond it we traversed a plain five miles in

extent, and backed by low grassy hills composed of grey gneiss. The most

accessible interval between these hills still appeared to be in the

direction I had chosen at Mount Hope, as leading to the lowest opening of

a range still more distant: I therefore continued on that bearing, having

the highest of those hills to our left at the distance of five or six

miles. On entering the wood skirting the wide plain, our curiosity was

rather disappointed at finding, instead of rare things, the black-butted

gum and casuarinae, trees common in the colony. The woolly gum also grew

there, a tree much resembling the box in the bark on its trunk, although

that on the branches, unlike the box, is smooth and shining. In this wood

we recognised the rosella parrot, and various plants so common near

Sydney but not before seen by us in the interior.

At ten miles we travelled over undulating ground for the first time since

we left the banks of the Lachlan; and we crossed a chain of ponds

watering a beautiful and extensive valley covered with a luxuriant crop

of the anthisteria grass. Kangaroos were now to be seen on all sides, and

we finally encamped on a deeper chain of ponds, probably the chief

channel of the waters of that valley. A ridge of open forest-hills

appearing before us, I rode to the top of one of the highest summits

while the men pitched the tents; and from it I perceived a hilly country

through whose intricacies I at that time saw no way, and beyond it a

lofty mountain range arose in the south-west. To venture into such a

region with wheel-carriages seemed rather hazardous when I recollected

the coast ranges of the colony; and I determined to examine it further

before I decided whether we should penetrate these fastnesses, or travel

westward round them, thus to ascertain their extent in that direction and

that of the good land watered by them.

July 5.

I proceeded with several men mounted towards the lofty hill to the

eastward of our route, the highest of those I had intersected from Mount

Hope and the Pyramid-hill, its aboriginal name, as I afterwards learnt,

being Barrabungale.* Nearly the whole of our way was over granite rocks.

We had just reached a naked mass near the principal summit when the

clouds, which had been lowering for some time, began to descend on the

plains to the northward, and soon closing over the whole horizon

compelled me to return, without having had an opportunity of observing

more than that the whole mass of mountains in the south declined to the

westward. This was however a fact of considerable importance with respect

to our further progress; for I could enter that mountain-region with less

hesitation as I knew that I could leave it, if necessary, and proceed

westward by following down any of the valleys which declined in that

direction.

(*Footnote. Warrabangle is a very similar name and belongs to a hill

similarly situated five degrees further to the northward. See Map.)

July 6.

ASCEND BARRABUNGALE. RAINY WEATHER. EXCURSION SOUTHWARD.

The morning being rainy, I could learn nothing more by ascending

Barrabungale as I intended; but I rode into the country to the southward

in order to examine it in the direction in which I thought it most

desirable to lead the party. After passing over several well-watered

grassy flats or valleys, each bounded by open forest-hills, we crossed at

six miles from the camp a range the summit of which was covered by a low

scrub, but it did not much impede our way. Beyond this range we again

found open forest land, and we saw extensive flats still more open to our

right, in which direction all the waters seemed to fall. At length, after

travelling about twelve miles, we came upon a deep chain of ponds winding

through a flat thickly covered with anthisteria and resembling a field of

ripe grain. Smoke arose in all directions from an extensive camp of

natives but, although I cooeyed and saw them at a distance, they

continued to crouch behind trees and would not approach. I did not

disturb them further, but returned with the intention of leading the

party there the next day when I hoped to see more of these natives. An

abundance of a beautiful white or pale yellow-flowered, herbaceous plant

reminding me of the violets of Europe, to which it was nearly allied,

grew on the sides of hills.*

(*Footnote. This has been ascertained to be a new species of the genus

Pigea. P. floribunda, Lindley manuscripts; caule erecto ramoso, foliis

alternis linearibus et lineari-lanceolatis obtusis glabris, racemulis

secundis paucifloris foliis brevioribus, sepalis petalisque glandulosis

ovatis acutis, labelli lamina obovata rotundata basi bilamellata,

antheris sessilibus syngenistis apice lamina oblonga membranacea acutis,

processibus 2 corniformibus basi staminum 2 anteriorum.)

THE WIDOW RETURNS TO THE PARTY.

In the evening The Widow returned with her child on her back. She stated

that after we left our late encampment a numerous tribe arrived on the

opposite bank of the river and, seeing the fires on her side, called out

very angrily, as Piper translated her tale, “murry coola” (very angry);

inquiring who had made those fires, and that, receiving no reply (for she

was afraid and had hid herself) they danced a corrobory in a furious

style during which she and the child crept away, and had passed two

nights without fire and in the rain. Piper seemed angry at her return,

but I took particular care that she should be treated with as much

kindness as before. She was a woman of good sense and had been with us

long enough to feel secure under our protection, even from the wrath of

Piper as displayed on this occasion; and I discovered that her attempted

return home had been suggested by Piper’s gin who probably anticipated a

greater share of food after The Widow’s departure.

July 7.

NATIVES OF TARRAY. THEIR DESCRIPTION OF THE COUNTRY.

The party moved to the creek where I had before seen the natives; and

Piper found at their fires an old woman and several boys. They said,

pointing far to the south-east, doubtless to Port Phillip, that a station

of whitefellows was there and that they had been themselves to the sea,

which was not very distant. The old woman spoke with expressive gestures

of a part of the coast she called Cadong, where the waves raged; and of a

river she named Woollamaee running into it. It appeared that the rest of

the tribe were at that time in search of opossums; but she promised that

when they returned in the evening or next day some of them should visit

our camp.

July 8.

This morning Piper prevailed on an old man with his gins and some boys to

come to us. The former pointed towards Cadong in the direction of 232

degrees from North and, in reply to my queries through Piper, said it was

not Geelong (Port Phillip) but a water like it; and that no white men had

ever been there. On mentioning lake Alexandrina by its native name

Keyinga, he said that it was a place filled sometimes with rain (i.e.

river-) water and not like Cadong which was saltwater. He described the

whole country before us as abounding in good water and excellent grass;

and he said that in the direction I was pursuing there was no impediment

between me and the sea coast. Piper’s countenance brightened up with the

good news this man gave him; assuring me that we should “find water all

about: no more want water.” In return for all this intelligence I

presented the old man with an iron tomahawk which he placed under him as

he sat; and he continued to address me with great volubility for some

time. I was told by Piper that he was merely saying how glad he was, and

enumerating (apparently with a sort of poetic fervour) the various uses

to which he could apply the axe I had given him. I left these natives

with the impression on my mind that they were quiet, well-disposed

people.

FINE APPEARANCE OF THE COUNTRY.

Proceeding a little west of south-west we intersected this creek (Tarray)

three times, leaving it finally flowing southward and to our left, into

that of Dyoonboors which it joined at a mile and a half from where we had

been encamped. At three miles, having crossed a low ridge of forest land,

we entered a fine valley, backed on the west by romantic forest hills,

and watered by some purling brooks which united in the woods on the east.

The flat itself had a few stately trees upon it, and seemed quite ready

to receive the plough; while some round hillocks on the north were so

smooth and grassy that the men said they looked as if they had already

been depastured by sheep. From an extremity of the clear ridge I obtained

an extensive view of the mountain chain to the south-east; and I

intersected most of its summits. The whole seemed smooth (i.e. not rocky)

grassy, and thinly timbered. Crossing the lower or outer extremity of

this forest ridge, we entered another fine valley watered by a creek

which we passed at six miles from the commencement of the day’s journey.

This little channel was grassy to the water’s edge, and its banks were

firm and about eight feet high, the course being eastward. In the valley

I saw the Banksia for the first time since we left the Lachlan. A

calamifolia, or needle-leaved wattle, occurred also in considerable

quantity. After crossing two more brooks and some flats of fine land with

grassy forest-hills on our right, we reached the crest of a forest-range

which afforded an extensive view over the country beyond it. The surface

seemed to be low for some distance, but then to rise gradually towards

some rocky points over which were partially seen the summits of a higher

range still further southward.

DISCOVER THE LODDON.

The descent to the low country was easy for our carts; and we found there

a beautifully green and level flat, bounded on the south by a little

river flowing westward. The banks of this stream consisted of rounded

acclivities and were covered with excellent grass. The bed was 18 or 20

feet below the level of the adjacent flats and, from its resemblance in

some respects to the little stream in England, I named it the Loddon. We

encamped on its bank in latitude 36 degrees 36 minutes 49 seconds South,

longitude 143 degrees 35 minutes 30 seconds East.

July 9.

By continuing the same line of route we crossed several minor rivulets,

all flowing through open grassy vales bounded by finely undulating hills.

At about three miles we came to a deep chain of ponds, the banks being

steep and covered with grass. Keeping a tributary to that channel on our

left, we passed some low hills of quartz; and a little beyond them we

crossed poor hills of the same rock bearing an open box-forest.

THE WOODS.

After travelling through a little scrub we descended on one of the most

beautiful spots I ever saw: The turf, the woods, and the banks of the

little stream which murmured through the vale had so much the appearance

of a well kept park that I felt loth to injure its surface by the passage

of our cartwheels. Proceeding for a mile and a half along the rivulet and

through a valley wholly of the same description, we at length encamped on

a flat of rich earth (nearly quite black) and where the anthisteria grew

in greater luxuriance than I had ever before witnessed in Australian

grasses. The earth indeed seemed to surpass in richness any that I had

seen in New South Wales; and I was even tempted to bring away a specimen

of it. Our dogs killed three kangaroos, and this good fortune was most

timely as I had that very morning thought it advisable to reduce the

allowance of rations.

July 10.

Tracing upwards the rivulet of the vale we left this morning we passed

over much excellent grassy land watered by it, the channel containing

some very deep ponds surrounded by the white-barked eucalyptus.

CROSS A RANGE.

A hill on its bank consisted of a conglomerate in which the ferruginous

matter predominated over the embedded fragments of quartz. The ground

beyond was hilly, and we at length ascended a ridge, apparently an

extremity of a higher range. On these hills grew the varieties of

eucalypti known in the colony, such as ironbark, bluegum, and

stringybark. The lower grounds were so wet and soft, and the watercourses

in them so numerous, that I was desirous to follow a ridge as long as it

would take us in the direction in which we were proceeding; and this

range answered well for the purpose. Its crest consisted of ferruginous

sandstone much inclined, the strike extending north-north-west. I found

the opposite side much more precipitous, and that it overlooked a much

lower country. In seeking a favourable line of descent for the carts, I

climbed a still higher forest-hill on the left, which consisted chiefly

of quartz-rock. I not only recognised from that hill some lofty points to

the eastward, and obtained angles on them, but I also perceived very

rugged summits of a range at a great distance in the south-west. Having

selected among the various hills and dales before me that line of route

which seemed the best and, having taken its bearing, I returned to

conduct the carts by a pass along one side of that hill, having found it

in a very practicable state for wheel-carriages. At three miles beyond

the pass we crossed a deep creek running westward which I named the

Avoca, and we encamped on an excellent piece of land beyond it.

KANGAROOS NUMEROUS.

This day we had even better fortune in our field sports than on the one

before for, besides three kangaroos, we killed two emus, one of which was

a female and esteemed a great prize, for I had discovered that the eggs

found in the ovarium were a great luxury in the bush; and afforded us a

light and palatable breakfast for several days.

July 11.

At the end of two miles on this day’s journey we crossed a deep stream

running westward. The height of its banks above the water was twelve

feet, and they were covered with a rich sward. The land along the margins

of the stream was as good as that we were now accustomed to see

everywhere around us, so that it was no longer necessary to note the

goodness or beauty of any place in particular. At four miles we passed

over a forest-hill composed of mica-slate and, after crossing another

good valley at six miles, I saw before us, on gaining a low forest ridge,

other grassy hills of still greater height, connected by a rock that cost

us less trouble to ascend than I expected.

THE EARTH BECOMES SOFT AND IMPASSABLE, EVEN ON THE SIDES OF HILLS.

It was in the valleys now that we met most difficulty, the earth having

become so soft and wet that the carts could be got through some places

only by the tedious process of dragging each successively with the united

strength of several teams.

DISCOVER A NOBLE RANGE OF MOUNTAINS.

From a high forest-hill about a mile east of our route I first obtained a

complete view of a noble range of mountains rising in the south to a

stupendous height, and presenting as bold and picturesque an outline as

ever painter imagined. The highest and most eastern summit was hid in the

clouds although the evening was serene. It bore West of South 26 degrees

54 minutes; and the western extremity, which consisted of a remarkably

round hill, bore 16 degrees 30 minutes South of West. Having descended

from the range by an easy slope to the southward, we passed through a

beautiful valley in which we crossed, at a mile and a quarter from the

hills, a fine stream flowing also westward; and in other respects similar

to those we had already met. I named it Avon water and we encamped on its

left bank.