18 – 29 August

THE BOATS LAUNCHED ON THE GLENELG.

August 18.

An uncommonly fine morning succeeded a clear frosty night. The boats were
hoisted out to be launched once on the bosom of the newly discovered
Glenelg; and they were loaded with what the party going with them might
require for ten days. I left with Mr. Stapylton instructions that the men
under his charge should move up to and occupy the round point of the
hill, a position which I named Fort O’Hare in memory of a truly brave
soldier, my commanding officer who fell at Badajoz in leading the forlorn
hope of the Light Division to the storm.

MR. STAPYLTON LEFT WITH A DEPOT AT FORT O’HARE.
At twelve o’clock I embarked on the river with sixteen men in two boats,
leaving eight with Mr. Stapylton in the depot.

CHARACTER OF THE RIVER.
We met with many dead trees for the first mile or two, but none of these
either prevented or delayed our passage; and the river then widened into
fine reaches wholly clear of timber, so that the passage further down was
quite uninterrupted. The scenery on the banks was pleasing and various:
at some points picturesque limestone cliffs overhung the river, and
cascades flowed out of caverns hung with stalactites; at others the
shores were festooned with green dripping shrubs and creepers, or
terminated in a smooth grassy bank sloping to the water’s edge. But none
of the banks consisted of water-worn earth; they were in general low and
grassy, bounding the alluvial flats that lay between the higher points of
land. Within the first three or four miles from Fort O’Hare two
tributaries joined the main stream from the right or westward, and one
from the left or eastward: one of the former ending in a noisy cascade at
the junction. The river soon opened to a uniform width of sixty yards,
its waters being everywhere smooth and unruffled and the current scarcely
perceptible.

Ornithorynchus paradoxus.

Ducks were always to be seen in the reaches before us, and very

frequently the Ornithorynchus paradoxus, an animal which had not, I

believe, been hitherto seen so near the sea. After rowing about sixteen

miles we landed on the left bank near a cascade falling from under a

limestone cliff and there we encamped for the night. The sun was setting

in a cloudless sky while I eagerly ascended the highest cliffs in hopes

of obtaining a sight of the coast, but nothing was visible beyond a

gently undulating woody country, some swamps alone appearing in it to the

westward. The land about the cliffs of limestone was tolerably good and

grassy, but towards the end of this day’s pull forests of the stringybark

sort of eucalyptus, having in them trees of large dimensions, closed on

the river. We endeavoured but in vain to catch fish, and whether the

waters contained the cod-perch (Gristes peelii) or not remained a

question. Our position and our prospects were now extremely interesting

and throughout the night I was impatient for the light of the next day.

COURSE OF THE RIVER.

August 19.

I arose at three in order to determine the latitude more exactly by the

altitude of various stars then approaching the meridian. These were Aries

and Menkar; while the two feet of the Centaur, both fine circumpolar

stars, were so steadily reflected in the placid stream that I obtained by

that means the altitude of both BELOW THE POLE. It was most essential to

the accuracy of my survey of the river that I should determine the

latitude as frequently and exactly as possible. The sun afterwards rose

in a cloudless sky and I ascertained the breadth of the river by means of

a micrometer telescope to be exactly 70 yards. We continued our

interesting voyage and found the river of very uniform width and that its

depth increased.

The current was slower but still perceptible although we found the water

had ebbed six inches during the night an indication that it was already

influenced by the tide although it tasted perfectly fresh. At a place

where I observed the sun’s meridian altitude I found the breadth on

measurement to be 71 yards and the depth on sounding, 4 1/2, 3 1/2 and 3

fathoms. The direction of the course had there however changed. To the

camp of last night it had been remarkably straight towards

south-south-east although full of turnings being what may be termed

straight serpentine,* and I had accordingly expected to find the estuary

at Portland Bay in which case it was likely to be sheltered sufficiently

by Cape Nelson to form a harbour. Now however the general course was

nearly west and it preserved the same general direction without much

winding during the progress we made throughout the day. I had therefore

every reason to suppose that it would thus terminate in the wide bay

between Cape Northumberland and Cape Bridgewater. The scenery on the long

reaches was in many places very fine from the picturesque character of

the limestone-rock and the tints and outline of the trees, shrubs, and

creepers upon the banks. In some places stalactitic grottoes covered with

red and yellow creepers overhung or enclosed cascades; at other points

casuarinae and banksia were festooned with creeping vines whose hues of

warm green or brown were relieved by the grey cliffs of more remote

reaches as they successively opened before us.

(*Footnote. See Colonel Jackson’s paper also referred to above.)

BLACK SWANS.

Black swans being numerous, we shot several; and found some eggs which we

thought a luxury among the bulrushes at the water’s edge. But we had

left, as it seemed, all the good grassy land behind us; for the

stringybark and a species of Xanthorrhoea (grass-tree) grew to the

water’s edge both where the soil looked black and rich and where it

possessed that red colour which distinguishes the best soil in the

vicinity of limestone rock. One or two small tributaries joined the river

the principal one coming from the left bank at that point or angle where

the great change takes place in its course. When the sun was near setting

we put ashore on this bank and from a tree on the highest part of the

country behind it we now once again saw Mount Gambier bearing 57 degrees

West of North.

WATER BRACKISH.

Here the water was slightly brackish but still very good for use; the

saltness being most perceptible when the water was used for tea. The

river had increased considerably both in width and depth; for here the

measured breadth was 101 yards and the mean depth five fathoms. (See

section on general Map.) It was upon the whole considering the permanent

fulness of its stream the character of its banks and uniformity of width

and depth the finest body of fresh water I had seen in Australia; and our

hopes were that day sanguine that we should find an outlet to the sea of

proportionate magnitude.

August 20.

This morning I found there was a rise of six inches in the river,

evidently the effect of tide as the water was brackish although still fit

for use. The reach on which we embarked afforded us a view for a mile

further down the river; the vista being truly picturesque and with the

interest attached to the scene it looked indeed quite enchanting. We

pulled on through the silent waters, awakening the slumbering echoes with

many a shot at the numerous swans or ducks. At length another change took

place in the general course of the river which from west turned to

east-south-east. The height of the banks appeared to diminish rapidly and

a very numerous flock of the small sea-swallow or tern indicated our

vicinity to the sea. The slow-flying pelican also with its huge bill

pursued, regardless of strangers its straight-forward course over the

waters.

ISLE OF BAGS.

A small bushy island next came in sight having on it some rocks

resembling what we should have thought a great treasure then, a pile of

flour-bags and we named it accordingly the Isle of Bags.

ARRIVAL AT THE SEACOAST.

Soon after passing the island a few low, sandy-looking hills appeared

before us; and we found ourselves between two basins where in the water

was very shallow although we had sounded just previously to entering one

of them in four fathoms. The widest lay directly before us but having no

outlet we steered into the other on the right and on rounding a low rocky

point we saw the green rolling breakers of the sea through an opening

which proved to be the mouth of the river. It consisted of two low rocky

points and as soon as we had pulled outside of them we landed on the

eastern one. In the two basins we had seen there was scarcely sufficient

water to float the boats and thus our hopes of finding a port at the

mouth of this fine river were at once at an end. The sea broke on a sandy

beach outside and on ascending one of the sandhills near it I perceived

Cape Northumberland; the rocks outside called the Carpenters bearing 7

degrees 20 minutes South of West (variation 3 degrees 30 minutes) and

being distant, as I judged, about fifteen miles. Mount Gambier bore 23

degrees 40 minutes North of West and a height which seemed near the

extreme point of the coast on the eastward and which I therefore took for

Cape Bridge water bore 52 degrees East of South.

DISCOVERY BAY.

These points seemed distant from each other about forty miles; the line

of coast between forming one grand curve or bay which received this river

at the deepest part and which I now named Discovery Bay.

MOUTH OF THE GLENELG.

There was no reef of rocks upon the bar; a circumstance to be regretted

in this case for it was obvious that the entrance to this fine river and

the two basins was choked merely by the sand thrown up by the sea. The

river was four fathoms deep, the water being nearly fresh enough for use

within sight of the shore. Unfortunately perhaps for navigation there is

but little tide on that coast; the greatest rise in the lower part of the

river (judging by the floating weeds) did not exceed a foot. I was too

intent on the completion of my survey to indulge much in contemplating

the welcome sight of old ocean; but when a plank was picked up by the men

on that desolate shore and we found the initials IWB and the year 1832

carved on wood which had probably grown in old England the sea really

seemed like home to us. Although it was low water a boat might easily

have been got out and it is probable that in certain states of the tide

and sand small craft might get in; but I nevertheless consider the mouth

of this river quite unavailable as a harbour.

WATERHOLES DUG IN THE BEACH.

Near the beach were holes dug apparently by the natives in which we found

the water perfectly sweet. The hills sheltering the most eastern of the

two basins were well wooded as were also those behind. The line of

sandhills on the beach seemed to rise into forest hills at about five

miles further eastward and all those in the west to within a short

distance of the coast were equally woody. The day was squally with rain;

nevertheless during an interval of sunshine I obtained the sun’s meridian

altitude making the latitude 38 degrees 2 minutes 58 seconds South. I

also completed by two P.M. my survey of the mouth of the river and

adjacent country; and we then again embarked to return a few miles up the

river and encamp where wood and water were at hand. On reentering the

river from the sea I presented the men with a bottle of whisky with which

it was formally named the Glenelg after the present Secretary of State

for the Colonies according to my previous intention.

REMARKABLE HOLLOW.

August 21.

We had encamped in a rather remarkable hollow on the right bank at the

extreme western bend of the river. There was no modern indication that

water either lodged in or ran through that ravine although the channel

resembled in width the bed of some considerable tributary; the rock

presenting a section of cliffs on each side and the bottom being broad

but consisting of black earth only in which grew trees of eucalyptus. I

found on following it some way up that it led to a low tract of country

which I regretted much I could not then examine further. I found shells

embedded in limestone varying considerably in its hardness being

sometimes very friable and the surface in some places presenting

innumerable fragments of corallines, with pectens, spatangi, echini,

ostrea and foraminifera.

LIMESTONE CAVERN.

In the opposite bank of the river I found several thin strata of compact

chert containing probably fragments of corallines, not only on the

surface but embedded in the limestone. In pulling up the river this

morning we observed a cavern or opening in the side of the limestone rock

and having ascended to it by means of a rope we entered with lights. It

proved to be only a large fissure and after penetrating about 150 yards

underground we met with red earth, apparently fallen from the surface. We

found at the mouth of the fissure some fine specimens of shells, coral,

and other marine productions, embedded in several thin strata of a

coarser structure under one of very compact limestone upwards of 20 feet

thick.*

(*Footnote. In the fragments brought home Mr. George Sowerby found a

nucula, very much resembling some species of South America although not

like any from Australia. Portions of lucinae, echinus, spatangi, and

turritella or melania, were comprised in specimens from a softer stratum

which was the lowest.)

ONE FISH CAUGHT IN THE GLENELG.

While the people in the boat awaited us there a fish was taken by

Muirhead who had also caught the first fish in the river Darling. That of

the Glenelg was a saltwater fish known at Sydney by the name of Snapper.*

(*Footnote. This was the only fish caught in the Glenelg notwithstanding

the men threw in their lines whenever we encamped on its banks. The

weather was too cold for it was evident the river did contain fish from

the trellised work which the natives had set across it in the upper

parts.)

STORMY WEATHER.

The weather was more moderate today although still showery; and the

scenery as we proceeded upwards was very picturesque and full of variety.

At sunset we encamped about a mile and a half short of our camp of the

18th and just as the trees were groaning under a heavy squall which

obliged us to land on the first spot where sufficient room was left in

the thick woods for our tents. This spot happened to be on a steep bit of

bank; and in the evening I was called in haste to a new danger. The wind

had suddenly changed and blew with great fury filling my tent with sparks

from a large fire which burnt before it. I had placed in it according to

usual custom our stock of ammunition in a keg; and notwithstanding these

precautions its preservation now between the two elements of fire and

water was rather doubtful. We contrived however to avert the danger and

were no more disturbed during the night except by the storm.

RETURN TO THE DEPOT.

August 22.

The squally weather continued until noon when sunbeams again adorned the

river-scenery. We met with no impediment in the current until within

about six miles of the depot camp when dead trees in the channel began

again to appear; but we passed them all without hindrance and reached

Fort O’Hare at two o’clock where we found all well. Mr. Stapylton had set

Vulcan to repair the broken chains etc., a ford had been cleared across

the stream from the north-east which I named the Crawford; and the cattle

being refreshed we were once more in trim to continue the land journey.

The height of the water in the river had undergone no change during our

absence and was probably about its usual level there although I observed

abundant marks of flood in the branches of trees where dry floated matter

remained at the height of fifteen feet above the water as it stood then.

The rock about this position consisted of limestone apparently similar to

that seen on its banks higher up. (See August 15.) It possessed a

stalactitic aspect by the infiltration of calcareous matter and in

crevices below I found a reddish stalagmite containing grains of sand.

Large petrified oyster shells lay loosely about the bank above these

cliffs. No natives had approached the depot during our absence and we had

indeed reason to believe that the adjacent country contained but few

inhabitants.

DIFFERENCE IN LONGITUDE.

During the afternoon I laid down my survey of the estuary of the Glenelg

and completed by 10 P.M., not only my plan of it but that of the river

also. I found a considerable difference between the result of my survey

and the Admiralty charts not only in the longitude but also in the

relative position of the two capes with respect to Mount Gambier a

solitary hill easily recognised.*

(*Footnote. At that time I supposed the difference had arisen from some

error or omission in my map and took much pains to discover it; but not

having succeeded my work having also closed to a mile and three-quarters

on my return to the country connected by trigonometrical survey with

Sydney I have been obliged to represent these parts of the coast

according to this land survey.)

LEAVE THE GLENELG AND TRAVEL EASTWARD.

August 23.

Having at length disposed of the course of the Glenelg, my next object

was to cross and examine the high ground which enclosed its basin on the

east supplying those tributaries which the river received from its left

bank, and evidently extending from the Grampians to Cape Bridgewater. I

had named this the Rifle range in crossing that branch of it extending

north-westward when I ascertained its characteristics to be lofty woods

and swamps; but its ramifications in other directions and how it was

connected backwards with the mountains still remained to be discovered;

and from what I did know of this range I apprehended considerable

difficulty in getting over it with our heavy carriages at such a season.

That we might if possible escape the bogs, I devoted the day to an

extensive reconnaissance of the country before us; my guide in this case

being the river Crawford which, flowing in deep ravines, was likely to

afford (so long as its general course continued to be nearly parallel to

our route) one means at least of avoiding those soft swampy flats which

could not possibly impede us so long as the side of such a ravine as that

of the river was within reach. I had the good fortune to find that the

range in general was firm under the hoof, and its direction precisely

such as I wished. Extensive swamps occasionally appeared on my right; but

I had on the left the deep ravines of the Crawford, and I travelled

across the highest slopes of the ground. Having thus found good sound

turf for twelve miles in the direction in which I wished to take the

carriages, I returned on descending from a trap range where the rock

consisted of granular felspar and hornblende with crystals of glassy

felspar. On this hill the soil was exceedingly rich and the grass green

and luxuriant. I obtained thence a most useful bearing on Mount Gambier,

and saw also some heights to the eastward beyond the Rifle range. The

timber grew to an enormous size on the ranges which I traversed this day;

it consisted chiefly of that species of eucalyptus known as stringybark.

Some of the trees we measured were 13 feet and one as much as 14 1/2 feet

in circumference, and 80 feet was no uncommon height. The fallen timber

was of such magnitude as to present a new impediment to our progress for

we had not previously met with such an obstruction on any journey.

CROSS THE CRAWFORD.

August 24.

The carriages were taken across the Crawford without much delay

considering its depth and the softness of the banks. The carts sank at

least five feet in the water yet nothing was damaged for we had taken

care to pack the flour and other perishable articles on the tops of the

loads. We succeeded in crossing the rivulets at the heads of several

ravines by filling up their channels with logs; and thus, after crossing

the last of these, and ascending the steep bank beyond it, we encamped

after a journey of seven miles. The weather had been stormy on both days

since I crossed the Crawford, a circumstance very much against our

progress. Near this camp we found a new Correa, resembling C. virens but

having distinctly cordate toothed leaves with less down on their

underside and a much shorter calyx.*

(*Footnote. C. cordifolia, Lindley manuscripts; stellato-tomentosa,

foliis subsessilibus cordatis ovatis denticulatis obtusis planis supra

glabris, corollis tubulosis cernuis, calyce truncato brevissimo.)

BOGGY CHARACTER OF ITS SOURCES.

August 25.

In our progress eastward we were still governed by the line of the

Crawford; and the tortuous direction of the ravines connected with it

required constant attention, while the very variable character of the

swamps at the head of them was still more perplexing. We succeeded in

finding a passage between all this day also and, on again crossing a

small mountain torrent by filling up the chasm with dead timber, we

encamped after another journey of seven miles. On our left to the

northward lay a deep valley in which we found a broad sheet of water

covered with ducks, the banks being soft and overgrown with reeds. A

considerable stream flowed westward from this lake through a narrow part

of the valley, so that I concluded we were still on the principal branch

of the Crawford. Trees of large dimensions were abundant and the fallen

timber impeded our progress even more than any unusual softness of the

earth.

August 26.

After proceeding several miles without lett or hindrance, having

successfully crossed some swampy rivulets all flowing to the left amidst

thick scrubs, we at length arrived at a watercourse in which my horse

went down, and which filled a very wide swampy bed enclosed by a thick

growth of young mimosa trees, through which it was necessary to cut a

passage wide enough for the carts. The scrub having been thus cleared to

the extent of about 100 yards with much labour, I found only then

unfortunately that although the roots grew very closely, and that water

flowed over the surface, the earth was withal so soft that I could at

every point with ease push a stick five feet down without reaching any

firm bottom. The loose cattle were driven in, an experiment which until

then we had tried with success in doubtful places, but they with

difficulty got across this, for one of them sank and could not be

extricated without considerable delay. While the men were busily employed

there I rode to the head of the swamp which extended about a mile to the

southward. On this swampy plain I at length succeeded in finding, with

Mr. Stapylton’s assistance, a line of route likely to bear the carts and

we passed safely in that direction, not one carriage having gone down.

While on this swampy surface we distinctly heard the breakers of the sea

apparently at no great distance to the south-west, and I was convinced

that the head of this swamp was about the highest ground immediately

adjacent to Discovery Bay. On travelling a mile and a half further we

reached a small rivulet, the first we had crossed flowing to the south.

Beyond it the country appeared open and good, consisting of what is

termed forest land with casuarinae and banksia growing upon it.

RECROSS THE RIFLE RANGE.

We had at length reached the highest parts of the range and were about to

descend into the country beyond it. We continued to travel a considerable

distance further than the rivulet flowing to the south. Crossing others

running northward or to the left, and leaving also on the same side a

swamp, we finally came to a higher range clothed with trees of gigantic

size, attesting the strength and depth of the soil, and here enormous old

trunks obstructed our passage, covering the surface so as to form an

impediment almost as great to us as the swampy ground had been; but this

large timber so near the coast was an important feature in that country.

Piper, having climbed to the top of one of these trees, perceived some

fine green hills to the south-east, saying they were very near us and

that the sea was visible beyond them. It was late in the afternoon when I

reluctantly changed my intended route, which had been until then

eastward, to proceed in the direction recommended by Piper, or to the

south-east and so to follow down a valley, instead of my proposed route

which had been along a favourable range.

HEAVY TIMBER THE CHIEF IMPEDIMENT.

I had still less reason to be satisfied with the change when, after

pushing my horse through thick scrubs and bogs until twilight and looking

in vain for a passage for the carts, I encountered at length bushes so

thickly set and bogs so soft that any further progress in that direction

was out of the question; and thus on the evening when I hoped to have

entered a better sort of country after so successful a passage of the

range we encamped where but little grass could be found for the cattle,

our tents being not only under lofty trees but amongst thick bushes and

bogs during very rainy weather.

TRAVELLING ALSO DIFFICULT FROM THE SOFTNESS OF THE GROUND.

August 27.

I was so anxious to get into open ground again that, as soon as daylight

permitted, I carefully examined the environs of our camp, and I found

that we occupied a broad flat where the drainage from the hills met and

spread among bushes, so that at one time I almost despaired of

extricating the party otherwise than by returning to the hill at which I

had first altered my route. The track we made had been however so much

cut up by our wheels that I preferred the chance of finding a passage

northward which, of course, was also less out of our way. We reached an

extremity of the hill (the nearest to us on that side) with much less

difficulty than I had reason to apprehend and, keeping along that

feature, we soon regained a range which led us east-north-east. By

proceeding in this direction however we could not avoid the passage of a

valley where the water was not confined to any channel, but spread and

lodged on a wide tract of very soft ground, also covered with mimosa

bushes and a thick growth of young saplings of eucalyptus. The light

carts and the first heavy cart got over this soft ground or bog, but the

others and the boat carriage sank up to the axles so that we were obliged

to halt after having proceeded about five miles only. This was near a

fine forest-hill consisting of trap-rock in a state of decomposition, but

apparently similar to that of the trap-rock I had ascended on the 23rd of

August; and from a tree there Burnett thought he saw the sea to the

north-east, and even to the northward of a remarkable conical hill. The

discovery of the sea in that direction was so different from the

situation of the shore as laid down on the maps that I began to hope an

inlet might exist there as yet undiscovered, the “Cadong,” perhaps, of

the native woman, “where white men had never been.”*

(*Footnote. See above.)

EXCURSION SOUTHWARD TO PORTLAND BAY.

I had now proceeded far enough to the eastward to be able to examine the

coast about Portland Bay and extend my survey to the capes in its

neighbourhood, the better to ascertain their longitude. I therefore

determined to make an excursion in that direction and thus afford time

not only for the extrication of the heavy carts still remaining in the

mud but also for the repose of the cattle after their labours.

August 28.

By the survey proposed I hoped to extend my map of the country

sufficiently in that direction to be at liberty, on my return to the

party, to pursue a route directly homeward; not doubting that at a short

distance to the northward of our camp we should again enter the beautiful

open country which, when seen from the mouth of the Wannon, seemed to

extend as far as could be seen to the eastward. In our ride to the south

we reached, at four miles from the boggy ground, a fine green hill

consisting of trap-rock and connected with a ridge of the same

description which extended about two miles further to the southward.

MOUNT ECKERSLEY.

There we found it to terminate abruptly in a lofty brow, quite clear of

timber and commanding an extensive view to the east and south over a much

lower country. This hill had a very remarkable feature–a deep chasm

separating it from the ridge behind, the sides being so steep as to

present a section of the trap-rock which consisted principally of compact

felspar. The hill which I named Mount Eckersley was covered, as well as

the ridge to which it belonged, with a luxuriant crop of anthisterium, or

kangaroo grass. Unfortunately the weather was squally but, by awaiting

the intervals between clouds on the horizon, I obtained angles at length

on nearly all the distant hills, the waters of Portland Bay just

appearing in the south over an intervening woody ridge. From this hill I

recognised a very conspicuous flat-topped hill to the northward which had

been previously included in a series of angles observed on the 12th

instant from the valley of the Wannon and which I now named Mount Napier.

Portland Bay was distant about fifteen miles but the intervening country

seemed so low, and swamps entirely clear of timber appeared in so many

places, that I could scarcely hope to get through it: knowing it to

contain all the water from those boggy valleys where our progress had

been already so much impeded. Smoke arose from various parts of the lower

country–a proof that at least some dry land was there. We were provided

with horses only, and therefore desperately determined to flounder

through or even to swim if necessary, we thrust them down the hill. On

its side we met an emu which stood and stared, apparently fearless as if

the strange quadrupeds had withdrawn its keen eye from the more familiar

enemies who bestrode them. In the lower country we saw also a kangaroo,

an animal that seldom frequents marshy lands. I was agreeably surprised

to find also, on descending, that the rich grass extended among the trees

across the lower country; and I was still more pleased on coming to a

fine running stream at about three miles from the hill and after crossing

a tract of land of the richest description. Reeds grew thickly amongst

the long grass, and the ground appeared to be of a different character

from any that I had previously seen. This seemed to be just such land as

would produce wheat during the driest seasons and never become sour even

in the wettest, such as this season undoubtedly was.

CROSS THE FITZROY.

The timber was thin and light and, with a fine deep stream flowing

through it, the tract which at first sight from Mount Eckersley I had

considered so sterile and wet proved to be one likely at no distant day

to smile under luxuriant crops of grain. We found the river (which I

named the Fitzroy) fordable, although deep at the place where we first

came upon it. Shady trees of the mimosa kind grew along the banks and the

earth was now good and firm on both sides. We heard the natives as we

approached this stream and cooeyed to them; but our calls had only the

effect, as appeared from the retiring sound of their voices, of making

them run faster away. Continuing our ride southward we entered at two

miles beyond the Fitzroy a forest of the stringybark eucalyptus; and

although the anthisterium still grew in hollows I saw swampy open flats

before us which I endeavoured to avoid, sometimes by passing between them

and finally by turning to a woody range on the left. I ascended this

range as night came on, in hopes of finding grass for our horses; but

there the mimosa and xanthorrhoea alone prevailed–the latter being a

sure indication of sterility and scanty vegetation. We found naked ground

higher up consisting of deep lagoons and swamps amongst which I was

satisfied with my success in passing through in such a direction as

enabled me to regain, in a dark and stormy night, the shelter of the

woods on the side of the range. But I sought in vain for the grass, so

abundant elsewhere on this day’s ride, and we were at length under the

necessity of halting for the night where but little food could be found

for our horses, and under lofty trees that creaked and groaned to the

blast.

August 29.

The groaning trees had afforded us shelter without letting fall even a

single branch upon our heads,* but the morning was squally and

unfavourable for the objects of the excursion, and we had still to ride

some way before I could commence operations. Proceeding along the skirts

of the woody ridge on the left in order to avoid swamps, we at length saw

through the trees the blue waters of the sea and heard the roar of the

waves.

(*Footnote. The Australian woods are in general very brittle, and no

experienced bushman likes to sleep under trees, especially during high

winds.)

CROSS THE SURRY.

My intended way towards the deepest part of the bay and the hills beyond

it did not lead directly to the shore, and I continued to pursue a course

through the woods, having the shore on our left. We thus met a deep and

rapid little river exactly resembling the Fitzroy and coming also from

the westward. Tracing this a short distance upwards we came to a place

set with a sort of trelliswork of bushes by the natives for the purpose,

no doubt, of catching fish. Here we found the stream fordable though

deep; a brownish granular limestone appearing in the bank. We crossed and

then continuing through a thick wood we came out at length on the shore

of Portland Bay at about four miles beyond the little river.

LADY JULIA PERCY’S ISLE.

Straight before us lay Laurence’s Island, or rather, islands, there being

two small islets of rock in that situation; and, some way to the eastward

I perceived a much larger island which I concluded was one of Lady Julia

Percy’s Isles. At a quarter of a mile back from the beach broad

broom-topped casuarinae were the only trees we could see; these grew on

long ridges parallel to the beach, resembling those long breakers which,

aided by winds, had probably thrown such ridges up. They were abundantly

covered with excellent grass and, as it wanted about an hour of noon, I

halted that the cattle might feed while I took some angles and

endeavoured to obtain the sun’s altitude during the intervals between

heavy squalls, some of which were accompanied by hail and thunder.