4 – 17 Aug

August 4.

Proceeding over ground of a similar character we crossed several fine
streams, some flowing in shallow channels over rocks, others in deep
ravines. The ground on the higher parts was however still so soft as to
yield to the wheels, and very much impeded the progress of the party,
especially at one place where an extensive lake, full of reeds or rushes,
appeared to the right. The drays sunk to the axles, the whole of the soil
in our way having become so liquid that it rolled in waves around the
struggling bullocks. The passage of some of the streams could not be
accomplished until we had filled up the bed with large logs, covered them
with boughs, and strewed over the whole, the earth cut away from the
steep banks. Under such circumstances I considered six miles a good day’s
journey, and indeed too much for the cattle. I halted for the night with
a small advanced party only on a fine little stream running over a rocky
bed; while the main body was compelled to remain with the carts several
miles behind, having broken, in the efforts made to extricate the carts
and boat-carriage, many of the chains, and also a shaft. The small river
I had reached ran in a bed of little width, but was withal so deep that
it seemed scarcely passable without a bridge. At the junction however of
a similar one, some rocks, favourably situated, enabled us to effect a
passage by bedding logs between them and covering the whole with branches
and earth, leaving room for the water to pass between.

HALT TO REPAIR THE CARTS AND HARNESS.

August 5.
A halt was this day unavoidable, but the necessity was the less to be
regretted as the weather was very unfavourable. Indeed we had scarcely
seen one fine day for some weeks. Mr. Stapylton set out to trace the
rivulet downwards, and returned in the evening after having reached its
junction with the Glenelg at the distance of nine miles in a north-west
direction. The course of the river thus determined to that junction
appeared to be more to the westward than I had previously expected, and I
began again to think its estuary might still be to the westward of Cape
Northumberland, and this prospect induced me to alter our course. The
carts having come up about one P.M., the blacksmith was set to work and
wrought throughout the night to repair all the claw-chains.

NATIVES VERY SHY.

While other men were employed at the log-bridge some natives were heard

coming along the most southern of the two streams; whereupon Piper went

towards them as usual and found they were females with children; but from

the moment they discovered us until they were fairly out of hearing their

shrieks were so loud and incessant that it seemed, for once, our presence

in that country had been unknown to the surrounding natives, a proof

perhaps of the smallness of their numbers. In the evening other natives

(men) were heard approaching along the creek, and we at first supposed

they had come to that place as their rendezvous to meet the gins and

their families whom we had unwillingly scared; but Mr. Stapylton, during

his ride home along one side of the ravine, had observed four natives

very intent on following the outward track of his horses’ hoofs on the

other; and these were doubtless the same men guided by his tracks to our

camp. They could not be brought to a parley however, although Piper and

Burnett at first invited them towards the camp and, when they set off,

pursued them across the opposite ridge.

CHETWYND RIVULET.

On the bank of this little stream I found a charming species of

Tetratheca, with large rich purple flowers and slender stems growing in

close tufts about a foot high. It was perhaps the most beautiful plant we

met with during the expedition.*

(*Footnote. T. ciliata, Lindley manuscripts; caulibus erectis tomentosis

filiformibus, foliis oppositis verticillatisque obovatis ovatisque

ciliatis subtus glabris, pedicellis setosis, sepalis ovatis concavis

acutis, petalis obovatis.)

August 6.

The passage of the rivulet which I named the Chetwynd, after Stapylton

who had explored it at considerable risk, was effected with ease by the

temporary bridge and we proceeded, soon crossing by similar means two

other running streams, probably tributaries to this.

SLOW PROGRESS OVER THE SOFT SURFACE.

When we had travelled four miles we came to a swamp where a considerable

current of water was flowing into it through some ponds; the margin of

this running water being broad, flat, and grassy, and having also lofty

gumtrees (white bark and eucalypti) growing on it. Unfortunately it was

so soft and rotten, as the men described it, that all the wheels sunk to

the axles and, although in such cases it was usual to apply the combined

force of several teams to draw each vehicle through in turn, we found

that the rising ground opposite was equally soft and yielding, so that

the cattle could have no firm footing to enable them to pull. It was

night before we could, with the strength of all the teams united by long

chains and yoked to each vehicle successively, bring the whole through,

the broad wheels of each cart actually ploughing to the depth of the axle

in soft earth; the labour of the cattle may therefore be imagined. We

encamped on a small barren plain much resembling a heath and just beyond

the swamp which had proved so formidable an impediment.

August 7.

Our progress this day was still less than that made during the preceding

one for it did not much exceed a mile. To that distance we had proceeded

tolerably well, having crossed two small running brooks, and all appeared

favourable before us. But a broad piece of rising ground which, being

sandy with banksia and casuarinae trees on it, I had considered firm

proved so very soft that even my own horse went down with me and wallowed

in the mud.

EXCURSION INTO THE COUNTRY BEFORE US.

There was no way of avoiding this spot, at least without delay, and I

ordered the men immediately to encamp, being determined to go forward

with a party on horseback and ascertain the position of some point where

the ground was more favourable, and then to adopt such a mode of

extricating the carts and proceeding thither as circumstances permitted.

I took with me provisions for three days that I might explore the

country, if necessary, to the coast.

BEAUTIFUL REGION DISCOVERED.

I had not proceeded above five miles southward when I perceived before me

a ridge in bluey distance, rather an unusual object in that close

country. We soon after emerged from the wood and found that we were on a

kind of tableland and, approaching a deep ravine coming from our right

and terminating on a very fine-looking open country below, watered by a

winding river. We descended by a bold feature to the bottom of the ravine

and found there a foaming little river hurrying downwards over rocks.

After fording this stream with ascended a very steep but grassy

mountain-side, and on reaching a brow of high land, what a noble prospect

appeared! a river winding amongst meadows that were fully a mile broad

and green as an emerald. Above them rose swelling hills of fantastic

shapes, but all smooth and thickly covered with rich verdure. Behind

these were higher hills, all having grass on their sides and trees on

their summits, and extending east and west throughout the landscape as

far as I could see. I hastened to ascertain the course of the river by

riding about two miles along an entirely open grassy ridge, and then

found again the Glenelg, flowing eastward towards an apparently much

lower country. All our difficulties seemed thus already at an end, for we

had here good firm ground, clear of timber, on which we could gallop once

more. The river was making for the most promising bay on the coast (for I

saw that it turned southward some miles below the hill on which I stood)

through a country far surpassing in beauty and richness any part hitherto

discovered. I hastened back to my men in the mud and arrived before

sunset with the good news, having found most of the intervening country

fit for travelling upon. Thus the muddy hill which had before seemed

unsurmountable led to the immediate discovery of the true course of the

river, and prevented me from continuing my route into the great angle of

its course over unfavourable ground instead of thus reaching it so much

sooner by a much less deviation from the course I wished to pursue. I now

hoped to extricate the carts in the morning and henceforward to

accomplish journeys of considerable length.

THE PARTY EXTRICATED WITH DIFFICULTY FROM THE MUD.

August 8.

It was in vain that I reconnoitred the environs of the hill of mud for

some portion of surface harder than the rest; and we could only extricate

ourselves by floundering through it. Patches of clay occurred but they

led only to places where the surface under the pressure of the cattle was

immediately converted into white and liquid mud. It was necessary to take

the loads from the carts and carry them by hand half a mile, and then to

remove the empty vehicles by the same means. After all this had been

accomplished the boat-carriage (a four-wheeled waggon) still remained

immovably fixed up to the axle-tree in mud in a situation where the block

and tackle used in hoisting out the boats could not be applied. Much time

was lost in our attempts to draw it through by joining all the chains we

possessed and applying the united strength of all the bullocks; but even

this was at length accomplished after the sun had set; the wheels, four

inches broad, actually cutting through to the full depth of the spokes.

On the eastern side of the hill the ground descended into a ravine where

it was grassy and firm enough; and it was a great relief to us all to

feel thus at liberty, even by sunset, to start next morning towards the

beautiful country which we now knew lay before us.

August 9.

Once more in a state of forward movement we crossed green hills and

running brooks until, when we had travelled nearly six miles from Muddy

Camp and had crossed six fine streams or burns, we met with a more

formidable impediment in the seventh. The sides of this ravine were so

uncommonly steep that our new difficulty was how to move the vehicles

down to the bank of the stream. In one place where a narrow point of

ground projected across, a passage seemed just possible; and after we had

made it better with spades we attempted to take a light cart over. The

acclivity was still however rather too much, and over went the cart,

carrying the shaft bullock with it, and depositing all my instruments

etc. under it in the bed of the stream. With travellers on roads this

might have been thought a serious accident, but in our case we were

prepared for joltings, and nothing was in the least degree injured;

neither was the animal hurt, and we ascertained by the experiment,

dangerous though it was, that still more was necessary to be done for the

passage of the heavy carts and boats which were still some way behind;

and I encamped on the bank beyond that the men might set about this work.

No time was lost in filling up the hollow with all the dead trees that

lay about and what others we could cut for the purpose; and thus before

sunset the three carts and one waggon were got across. The rocks in the

bed of this stream consisted of grey gneiss, and on the hills beyond it I

found nodules of highly ferruginous sandstone.

ENTER THE VALLEY OF NANGEELA.

August 10.

By means of a block and tackle attached to a large tree the remaining

carts and the boat-carriage were safely lowered to the bed of the stream.

To draw them up the opposite bank was practicable only by uniting the

strength of several teams, yet this too was effected successfully and the

whole party were enabled to go forward in the morning. At a mile and a

half from the camp a scene was displayed to our view which gladdened

every heart. An open grassy country extending as far as we could

see–hills round and smooth as a carpet, meadows broad, and either green

as an emerald or of a rich golden colour from the abundance, as we soon

afterwards found, of a little ranunculus-like flower. Down into that

delightful vale our vehicles trundled over a gentle slope, the earth

being covered with a thick matted turf, apparently superior to anything

of the kind previously seen. That extensive valley was enlivened by a

winding stream, the waters of which glittered through trees fringing each

bank.

NATIVE FEMALE AND CHILD.

As we went on our way rejoicing I perceived at length two figures at a

distance who at first either did not see or did not mind us. They proved

to be a gin with a little boy and as soon as the female saw us she began

to run. I presently overtook her, and with the few words I knew prevailed

on her to stop until the two gins of our party could come up; for I had

long been at a loss for the names of localities. This woman was not so

much alarmed as might have been expected; and I was glad to find that she

and the gins perfectly understood each other. The difference in the

costume on the banks of the Wando immediately attracted the notice of the

females from the Lachlan. The bag usually carried by gins was neatly wove

in basketwork and composed of a wiry kind of rush. She of Wando carried

this bag fastened to her back, having under it two circular mats of the

same material, and beneath all a kangaroo cloak, so that her back at

least was sufficiently clothed, although she wore no dress in front. The

boy was supported between the mats and cloak; and his pleased and

youthful face, he being a very fine specimen of the native race,

presented a striking contrast to the miserable looks of his whining

mother. In the large bag she carried some pieces of firewood and a few

roots, apparently of tao, which she had just been digging from the earth.

Such was the only visible inhabitant of this splendid valley resembling a

nobleman’s park on a gigantic scale. She stated that the main river was

called Temiangandgeen, a name unfortunately too long to be introduced

into maps. We also obtained the gratifying intelligence that the whole

country to the eastward was similar to these delightful vales and that,

in the same direction, as Piper translated her statement, “there was no

more sticking in mud.” A favourable change in the weather accompanied our

fortunate transition from the land of watery soil and dark woody ravines

to an open country. The day was beautiful; and the balmy air was

sweetened by a perfume resembling hay which arose from the thick and

matted herbs and grass. Proceeding along the valley the stream on our

left vanished at an isolated rocky hill; but, on closer examination, I

found the apparent barrier cleft in two, and that the water passed

through, roaring over rocks. This was rather a singular feature in an

open valley where the ground on each side of it was almost as low as the

rocky bed of the stream itself. The hill was composed of granular felspar

in a state of decomposition; the surrounding country consisting chiefly

of very fine-grained sandstone. It is not easy to suppose that the river

could ever have watered the valley in its present state and forced its

way since through that isolated hill of hard rock; as to believe that the

rock, now isolated, originally contained a chasm, and afforded once the

lowest channel for the water before the valley now so open had been

scooped out on each side by gradual decomposition. Another rivulet

approached this hill, flowing under its eastern side and joining the

Wando just below. According to my plan of following down the main river

it was necessary to cross both these tributaries.

ENCAMP ON THE GLENELG.

In the open part of the valley the channels of these streams were deep

and the banks soft; but at the base of the hill of Kinganyu (for such was

its name) we found rock enough and, having effected a passage there of

both streams that afternoon, we encamped after travelling about three

miles further on the banks of the Glenelg once more. Our route lay

straight across an open grassy valley at the foot of swelling hills of

the same description. Each of these valleys presented peculiar and very

romantic features, but I could not decide which looked most beautiful.

All contained excellent soil and grass, surpassing in quality any I had

seen in the present colony of New South Wales. The chase of the emu and

kangaroo, which were both numerous, afforded us excellent sport on these

fine downs. When about to cross the Wando I took my leave of the native

woman before mentioned, that she might not have the trouble of fording

the river, and I presented her with a tomahawk of which our females

explained to her the use, although she seemed still at a loss to conceive

the meaning of a present. The use of the little hatchet would be well

enough known however to her tribe so, leaving her to return to it and

assuring her at the same time of our friendly disposition towards the

natives, we proceeded.

The left bank of the principal stream was very bold where we reached it

on this occasion, but still open and covered with rich turf. The right

bank was woody and this was generally its character at the other points

where we had seen the Glenelg. It was flowing with considerable rapidity

amongst the same kind of bushes we had met with above, but they did not

appear so likely here to obstruct the passage of boats.

On the plains we found a singular acacia, the leaves being covered with a

clammy exudation resembling honey-dew. It differed from A. graveolens in

its much more rigid habit, shorter and broader leaves, and much shorter

peduncles.*

(*Footnote. A. exudans, Lindley manuscripts; ramis crassis rigidis

angulatis leviter pubescentibus, phyllodiis oblongo-lanceolatis

mucronatis oblique binerviis viscido-punctatis basi obsolete glandulosis,

capitulis 1-2 axillaribus, pedunculis lanatis, bracteolis rigidis acutis

pubescentibus alabastris longioribus (capitulis echinatis).)

August 11.

Passing along the bank of the river under the steep grassy hills which

consisted of very fine-grained, calcareous sandstone, we began two miles

on to ascend these heights; as well to avoid a place where they closed

precipitously on the Glenelg as to gain a point from which I hoped to

command an extensive view of its further course, and so cut off some of

the windings. From that point, or rather on riding through the woods to

some distance beyond it, I perceived that the river was joined by another

coming from the south-east through an open country of the finest

character. Below their junction the principal river disappeared on

passing through a woody range, and turned towards the south-west.

JUNCTION OF THE WANNON.

Nothing could be seen beyond the crest which seemed a very predominant

feature bounding the fine valley of the Wannon on the south. By turning

round the eastern brow of the high ground on which we then were we gained

a long ridge of smooth grassy land, leading by an easy descent from this

height to the junction of the rivers. This high ground was thickly wooded

with stringybark trees of large dimensions, and a few other eucalypti,

together with banksia and casuarinae. The soil there was soft and sandy

and the substratum contained masses of ironstone. The shrubs upon the

whole reminded me of those in the wooded parts of the sandhills on the

shores of Port Jackson. Smoke arose from various parts of the distant

country before us; and we perceived one native running at prodigious

speed across the plain below.

CROSS THE WANNON.

On reaching the banks of the Wannon we found it a deep flowing stream,

about half as large as the river itself. We succeeded in finding a ford

and crossed after cutting away some bushes and levelling the banks.

Beyond the Wannon we travelled 2 3/4 miles over a portion of very fine

country and encamped in a little vale in the bosom of a woody range, the

western side of which overhung the river at the distance of two miles.

August 12.

A fine clear morning gave full effect to the beauty of the country which

I now saw to the eastward from a hill near our camp. The summit of the

Victoria range crowned the distant landscape; and the whole of the

intervening territory appeared to consist of green hills, partially

wooded. We crossed a mountain-stream by filling up its bed with logs and,

as we ascended the slopes beyond, we found the country grassy until we

reached the high and wooded crest. Lofty stringybark trees and other

timber grew there on a white sandy soil; but we found among the bushes

abundance of the anthisteria or kangaroo grass.

After travelling some miles beyond this crest we at length found the

ground sloping to the southward; and some swampy hollows with reeds in

them obliged us to turn to the right or south-west, as the water in these

depressed parts falling eastward, or to the left, showed that we were not

so very near the river, on the right, which I was endeavouring to follow.

We were delayed in several of these hollows by the sinking of the carts

and boat-carriage.

RIFLE RANGE.

We next traversed an extensive moor or heath on which the rising ground

was firm, and a little way beyond it some rising ground bounded our view.

On ascending this highest feature which I named the Rifle range I found

it commanded an extensive view over a low and woody country.

MOUNT GAMBIER FIRST SEEN FROM IT.

One peaked hill alone appeared on the otherwise level horizon and this

bore 68 degrees West of South. I supposed this to be Mount Gambier near

Cape Northumberland which, according to my survey, ought to have appeared

in that direction at a distance of forty-five miles.

STERILE MOORS CROSSED BY THE PARTY.

I expected to find the river on reaching the lower country beyond this

range; but instead of the Glenelg and the rich country on its banks we

entered on extensive moors of the most sterile description. They were

however firm enough for travelling upon, the surface being very level and

the soil a whitish sand. These open wastes were interrupted in some parts

by clumps of stringybark forest which entirely concealed from view the

extent of this kind of country. Swamps full of water and containing reeds

of a dark yellow colour at length became numerous; and although I

succeeded in pursuing a course clear of these obstacles, we were obliged

to encamp at twilight without having any immediate prospect of a better

country before us. There was however abundance of grass in these wet

swamps and our carts passed over one quite covered with water without

sinking. Our camp was marked out on a low hill of white sand on which

grew mahogany and stringybark trees of large dimensions. The ridge from

which we had descended now appeared continuous as far as we could see

eastward.

NATIVES NUMEROUS BUT NOT ACCESSIBLE.

Much smoke arose from this lower country when we entered upon it and

after sunset the incessant calls of a native were heard near our camp as

if he had lost some comrade. I sent up a rocket that he might be

convinced we had not arrived by stealth as the tribes do when they

insidiously make war on each other, but he only reiterated his calls the

more.

August 13.

At daybreak the cries of the native were renewed. I then made Piper cooey

to him whereupon he became silent and I heard him no more, the natives of

that country being, as Piper expressed it “still very wild.” This morning

we were on the march as soon as the sun rose, all being very anxious to

see the river again and a better country. At two miles we passed along a

sandy ridge between two extensive swamps; but at a mile and a half

farther I found at length a small hollow and water running in it, a

feature which convinced me at once that the river could not be very

distant. In the bank there was a thin stratum of shelly limestone bearing

a resemblance to some of the oolitic limestones of England; and in the

bed were irregular concretions of ironstone containing grains of quartz,

some of the concretions having externally a glazed appearance arising

from a thin coating of compact brown haematite.

AGAIN ARRIVE ON THE GLENELG.

Casuarinae and banksia growing on grassy slopes were the next marks of a

different country from that of the swamps, and at less than a mile from

this point we came upon the river.

INDIFFERENT COUNTRY ON ITS BANKS.

Its banks had a different character from that which they presented above

but they were still fine.

BREADTH AND VELOCITY OF THE RIVER.

The river now flowed in a narrow valley, the bed being about 70 feet

below the common level of the swampy flats. At sharp bends the banks

consisted of cliffs of a soft limestone, composed in part of comminuted

fragments of corallines, the interstices being rarely filled up; the rock

contained also a few specimens of Foraminifera, most probably of recent

species. In the narrow valley all was flourishing and green, attesting

the rich luxuriance of the alluvial soil. The mimosa trees predominated,

but still the bushes of leptospermum darkened the stream which was deep,

rapid, and muddy, its breadth being about 40 yards and the bed consisting

of a friable or soft calcareous sandstone. In accompanying it in its

course downward we met with less difficulty than I had expected, but I

perceived that the barren swampy land, or more frequently the stringybark

forests, approached the higher banks on both sides the river. The few

ravines falling in our way were only the drains from swamps close at hand

and they were easily crossed by the party at the fall of the ground,

where we found rocky strata.

ENCAMP ON A TRIBUTARY.

After tracing the river more than four miles we encamped on an elevated

point overlooking a flat of good grass, so necessary for the cattle.

August 14.

Some of the bullocks were missing and we were compelled to wait an hour

or two while parties went in search of them; one party being guided by

Piper, the other by the two Tommies. I availed myself of the leisure

afforded by this delay to measure the breadth, depth, and velocity of the

river which were respectively as follows:

Average breadth: 35 yards.

Mean depth: 17 feet.

Velocity of the current: 1,863 yards per hour; the general course, as far

as we had traced this portion being nearly South-East.

When most of the cattle had been brought in we proceeded and, in

endeavouring to keep along the highest ground between the swamps, I

unavoidably left the river at some distance on our right, a circumstance

I considered of less consequence as the ground appeared to be falling on

my left towards some tributary; and at four miles we came upon a small

river flowing rapidly in a valley nearly as deep and wide as the main

stream. The country on its immediate bank looked better than that last

found on the main stream. Limestone rock appeared in the bank opposite

and at the foot of some cliffs we found fossil oyster-shells. Mr.

Stapylton traced this stream to its junction with the river about two

miles lower down.

August 15.

Two bullocks were still missing and I had recourse to compulsory measures

with Piper and the man who lost them in order to find them again: I

declared that unless they were found Piper should have no provisions for

a week; and I condemned the man who lost them to be kept every second

night on watch during the remainder of the journey.

DIFFICULT PASSAGE OF THE STOKES.

The passage of the little river (which named the Stokes in memory of a

brother officer who fell at Badajoz) was not to be easily accomplished,

owing to the depth and softness of the alluvial soil through which it

flowed. One place passable on horseback was found after long search by

Mr. Stapylton and myself. Out of the bed of the stream at that part we

drew some dead trees and after two hours of great exertion the passage of

the boat-carriage and carts was effected, the latter sinking deeper in

the water than they ever had done in any river which we had previously

forded.

THE EXPEDITION BROUGHT TO A STAND IN SOFT GROUND.

We found the country beyond very intricate, being so intersected with

swamps draining off in all directions, and so divided by stringybark

forests, that it was next to impossible to avoid the soft swampy ground

or reach the riverbank again. We headed one deep ravine falling towards

it, and had indeed travelled in the desired direction about four miles

further on dry ground, but only by winding about as the swamps permitted

when at length the ground appeared to slope towards the river, being also

covered with the fine grass and the kind of trees which usually grew near

it. But this ground notwithstanding its firm appearance proved to be as

soft as that of Mount Mud; and it spread at length around us on all sides

except that from which we had approached it by so circuitous a route.

EXCURSION BEYOND.

We had no alternative but to cross this bad ground and, after finding out

by careful examination the narrowest part, we prepared to puts to the

nearest firm ground beyond, an undertaking infinitely more difficult and

laborious to us than the passage of the broadest river. One of the carts

was with much labour taken across and, being anxious to know the actual

situation of the river, I rode southward into the wood taking with me the

chain or measuring men, and leaving the rest of the people at work in the

mud. I found much of the ground equally soft as I proceeded, but all

consisted of excellent open forest land covered with good grass. I found

there a woolly Correa, profusely covered with pink bell-shaped blossoms

and small round rufous leaves;* and the beautiful Kennedya prostrata was

climbing among the bushes and rendering them brilliant with its rich

crimson flowers.

(*Footnote. C. rotundifolia, Lindley manuscripts; ramulis rufis

villosissimis, foliis subrotundis brevi-petiolatis supra scabris subtus

villosis saepius emarginatis, corollis campanulatis brevibus

subtetrapetalis, calyce truncato rufo villosissimo.)

REACH A FINE POINT ON THE RIVER.

At length I approached a ravine on the left which I at first took for

that of the river; but I soon perceived through the trees on my right a

still greater opening, and there I at last found the valley of the

Glenelg. In the ravine to the left ran another small stream rather larger

than that crossed yesterday. We reached the bank of this at 2 3/4 miles

from the place where we left the party and at about half a mile above its

junction with the main stream. The high ground between the two streams

terminated in a round grassy promontory overlooking one of the finest

flats imaginable. I determined to endeavour once more to explore the

river’s course with the boats; provided we should succeed in transporting

them over the mud to this spot; and I returned with this intention to the

muddy scene where I had left the men. It was quite dark before I found it

again and then they had succeeded in getting through only the three light

carts. I did not despair of accomplishing the passage, at least in the

course of time; but I was indeed impatient for daylight that I might

carefully examine with that view all parts of the country between our

camp and the place where I intended to launch the boats into the Glenelg

again.

THE CARTS EXTRICATED BY PROCEEDING WITH GREAT CAUTION.

August 16.

This morning it rained heavily and there was a balmy and refreshing

mildness in the air, probably owing to the vicinity of the sea. It

occurred to me that, as the ground appeared to slope towards the

south-east, we might reach some hollow on that side leading to the little

river we discovered yesterday; and that such a hollow would afford the

best chance of escape from the soft flats which now impeded us, since the

drainage they afforded to the immediate banks was likely to leave them at

least firm enough to be travelled upon. On this principle alone I

understood why the ground on the banks of the stream seen yesterday was

so firm; and I therefore hoped that the head of any ravine found near our

camp would lead by a dry though perhaps circuitous route first to the

tributary, and next by its bank to the point already mentioned where it

joined the Glenelg. I accordingly instructed Mr. Stapylton to examine the

ground in the direction proposed while I superintended the exertions of

the party to drag the boat-carriage through the mud. We finally succeeded

in this last effort and, just as I stood watching with joy the ascent of

the carriage to the firm ground beyond, Mr. Stapylton came to me with the

intelligence that he had found the head of a ravine and firm ground on

its bank in the direction where he had been. One bad place alone

intervened between our present position and the firm ground at the head

of the ravine but this Mr. Stapylton said was very bad indeed. By 10 A.M.

everything was got across the first swamp, the loads of all the carts

having been carried by the men. To the new difficulty mentioned by Mr.

Stapylton I therefore led them next, and we soon accomplished the passage

of the light carts; after which I proceeded, leaving to Mr. Stapylton the

management of the rest, having first brought the boat-carriage within

reach of the firm ground opposite by means of blocks and tackle attached

to trees and drawn by five bullocks. On going forward with the carts I

was guided altogether by the course of the ravine or gully, keeping along

the fall of the ground and so avoiding the softer soil above. Thus we

proceeded successfully for, although another ravine came in our way, I

managed to travel round its head near which I found a place where we

crossed the small watercourse it contained by filling up the chasm with

logs. On passing this we entered the stringybark forest which I had

traversed on the day previous; and I at length recognised through the

trees the hill from which I had seen the junction of the streams. A

tremendous hailstorm met us in the face just as we descended to encamp in

the valley near the bank of the river, but this troubled us but little

while we were up to the waist in the thickest crop of grass growing on

the richest black soil I had ever seen. Mr. Stapylton and Burnett came up

in the evening with the intelligence that the whole party had effected a

safe passage across the swampy ground; but that the wheels of the

boat-carriage and some of the carts had sunk deep in the earth where I

had previously crossed on horseback followed by the light carts without

leaving any impression, and that consequently they had made but little

progress beyond the camp.

August 17.

I sent Burnett back with some spare bullocks to assist the people in

bringing on the carts and the boat-carriage, a man having been despatched

from them early to inform me that the carriage had again stuck fast.

Piper drew my attention to the sound of a distant waterfall which he said

he had heard all night and wished now to go down the river to look at. I

directed him to do so and to examine the river also still further if he

could, that he might bring back information as to how the boats might get

down the stream. On his return in the afternoon he stated that the river

was joined just below by several large streams from the left, and by one

still larger from the right which, falling on rocks, made the noise he

had heard during the night; also that on climbing a high tree he had seen

the river very large “like the Murray,” adding that it was excellent for

boats. All this news only made me the more impatient to embark in them

while they were still afar on the muddy hills.

THE WHOLE EQUIPMENT REACHES THE RIVER.

The whole day passed without any tidings of their approach, and another

night had closed over us before I heard the distant calls of the

bullock-drivers; but I had the satisfaction soon after of seeing the

whole party and equipment again united on the banks of this promising

stream. The barometer was rising, the spring advancing, and the

approaching warmth might be expected to harden the ground. The cattle

would be refreshed by a week’s rest in the midst of the rich pasture

around us, while our labours to all appearance were on the eve of being

crowned by the discovery of some harbour which might serve as a port to

one of the finest regions upon earth. At all events if we could no longer

travel on land, we had at length arrived with two boats within reach of

the sea, and this alone was a pleasing reflection after the delays we had

lately experienced.