8 – 14 October

CONTINUE THROUGH A LEVEL FOREST COUNTRY.

October 9.

Having buried on the left bank another letter of instructions for Mr.

Stapylton according to certain marks as previously arranged with him, we

mounted our boat on the carriage (which had been brought across early in

the morning) and continued our journey. I expected to find a ford in this

river but, considering the swollen state in which it then was, I

instructed Mr. Stapylton to remain encamped on the left bank until the

boat should return from the Murray, as beyond that river we were not

likely to have further occasion for it. Our way on leaving the Bayunga

was rather intricate, being amongst lagoons left by high floods of the

river. Some of them were fine sheets of water, apparently much frequented

by ducks and other aquatic birds.

LEVEL FOREST COUNTRY.

At exactly 2 1/2 miles from the river we reached the outer bank or berg,

and resumed at length the straight course homewards, for I there found a

level forest country open before me, through which we travelled about

eight miles in a south-east direction. We then encamped near some

waterholes which I found on our right, in the surface of a clay soil and

close to a plain extending southward. The wood throughout the forest

consisted of the box or goborro species of eucalyptus and we crossed,

soon after first entering it, a small plain. At 3 1/2 miles from the last

camp on this line, the low alluvial bed of the river with a deep lagoon

in it as broad as the river itself appeared close to us on the left; and

as I had seen some indications of the Bayunga on the other side also, or

to our right, it was obvious that we had just met with this river at one

of its most western bends, an object I had in view in following down the

Deegay from the westward. The forest country traversed by the party this

day was in general grassy and good and, as it was open enough to afford a

prospect of about a mile around us, we travelled on in a straight line

with unwonted ease and facility.

October 10.

We continued our journey homeward through a country of the same character

as that seen yesterday, at least for the first five miles, when we came

at length to a chain of deep ponds, the second we had encountered that

morning. In the bank of this I found a stratum of alluvium; but beyond it

the soil was granitic, and banksia was seen there for the first time

after crossing the river. At 7 1/4 miles we met with another chain of

large ponds, and at 9 miles a running stream flowing to the north-west.

After passing over various other chains of ponds we encamped at the end

of 14 1/2 miles near the bank of a running stream in which were also some

deep pools and which, from some flowers growing there, were named by the

men Violet Ponds.

October 11.

Having turned my course a little more towards the east in order to keep

the hills in view, chiefly for the more convenient continuance of the

survey, we passed through a country abundantly watered at that time, the

party having crossed eight running streams besides chains of ponds in

travelling only 14 miles. Towards the end of the day’s journey we found

ourselves once more on undulating ground, and I at length perceived on my

right that particular height which, at a distance of 80 miles back, I had

selected as a guiding point in the direction which then appeared the most

open part of the horizon, this being also in the best line for reaching

the Murrumbidgee below Yass. It was the elevated northern extremity of a

range connected with others still more lofty which arose to the

south-east. We crossed some undulating ground near its base on which grew

trees of stringybark, a species of eucalyptus which had not been

previously seen in the forests traversed by us in our way from the river.

We next entered a valley of a finer description of land than that of the

level forest; and we encamped on the bank of a stream which formed deep

reedy ponds, having travelled 14 miles.

As soon as I had marked out the ground for the party I proceeded towards

a hill which bore east-south-east from our camp and was distant from it

about 5 1/2 miles. On our way an emu ran boldly up, apparently desirous

of becoming acquainted with our horses; when close to us it stood still

and began quietly to feed like a domestic fowl so that I was at first

unwilling to take a shot at the social and friendly bird. The state of

our flour however, and the recollection of our one remaining sheep

already doomed to die, at length overcame my scruples, and I fired my

carabine but missed. The bird ran only to a little distance however, and

soon returned at a rapid rate again to feed beside us when, fortunately

perhaps for the emu, I had no more time to spare for such sport and we

proceeded.

ASCEND A HEIGHT NEAR THE CAMP, AND OBTAIN A SIGHT OF SNOWY SUMMITS TO THE EASTWARD.

The top of the hill was covered thickly with wood, but I saw for the

first time for some years snowy pics far in the south-east beyond

intermediate mountains also of considerable elevation. There was one low

group of heights to the northward, but these were apparently the last,

for the dead level of the interior was visible beyond them to the

north-west. Further eastward a bold range extended too far towards the

north to be turned conveniently by us in our proposed route; but under

its high southern extremity (a very remarkable point) its connection with

the mountains on the south appeared very low, and thither I determined to

proceed. One isolated hill far in the north-western interior had already

proved a useful point and was still visible here. I also saw the distant

ranges to the eastward beyond the proposed pass just mentioned, and some

of these I had no doubt lay beyond the Murray. The hill and range I had

ascended consisted of granite, and the country between it and our camp of

grassy open forest land.

October 12.

We passed over a country of similar description and well watered

throughout the greater portion of this day’s journey. In some parts the

surface consisted of stiff clay retaining the surface water in holes, and

at ten miles we crossed an undulating ridge of quartz rock; two miles

beyond which we encamped near a stream running northward.

REACH A SWAMPY RIVER.

October 13.

At 3 1/4 miles we came to a river of very irregular width and which, as I

found on further examination, spread into broad lagoons and swamps

bordered with reeds. Where we first approached it the bank was high and

firm, the water forming a broad reach evidently very deep. But both above

and below that point the stream, actually flowing, seemed fordable and we

tried it in various places, but the bottom was everywhere soft and

swampy.

A MAN DROWNED.

The man whom I usually employed on these occasions was James Taylor who

had charge of the horses and who, on this unfortunate morning, was fated

to lose his life in that swampy river. Taylor, or Tally-ho, as the other

men called him, had been brought up in a hunting stable in England, and

was always desirous of going further than I was willing to allow him,

relying too much, as it now appeared, on his skill in swimming his horse,

which I had often before prevented him from doing. I had on this occasion

recalled him from different parts of the river, and determined to use the

boat and swim the cattle and horses to the other side, when Tally-ho

proposed to swim over on a horse in order to ascertain where the opposite

bank was most favourable for the cattle to get out. I agreed to his

crossing thus wherever he thought he could; and he rode towards a place

which I conceived was by no means the best, and accordingly said so to

him. I did not hear his reply, for he was just then riding into the

water, and I could no longer see him from where I stood on the edge of a

swampy hole. But scarcely a minute had elapsed when Burnett, going on

foot to the spot, called out for all the men who could dive, at the same

time exclaiming “the man’s gone!” The horse came out with the bridle on

his neck just as I reached the water’s edge, but of poor Tally-ho I saw

only the cap floating on the river. Four persons were immediately in the

water–Piper, his gin, and two whites–and at six or eight minutes at

most Piper brought the body up from the bottom. It was quite warm and

immediately almost all the means recommended in such cases were applied

by our medical attendant (Drysdale) who, having come from

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, had seen many cases of that description. For three

hours the animal heat was preserved by chafing the body, and during the

whole of that time the lungs were alternately inflated and compressed,

but all without success. With a sincerity of grief which must always

pervade the breasts of men losing one of their number under such

circumstances, we consigned the body of poor Taylor to a deep grave, the

doctor having previously laid it out between two large sheets of bark. I

was myself confounded with the most heart-felt sorrow when I turned from

the grave of poor Tally-ho, never to hear his bugle blast again.* It was

late before we commenced the passage of this fatal river which, although

apparently narrow, we could only cross in the same manner in which we had

passed the largest, namely, by swimming the cattle and horses, and

carrying every article of equipment across in the boat. We effected even

thus however the passage of the whole party before sunset; and then

encamped on the opposite bank.

(*Footnote. How this man could have died in the water in so short a time

we did not understand, but it was conjectured that he had received some

blow from the horse, until we were subsequently informed when on the

Murrumbidgee by a person there who knew Taylor that he was subject to

fits, a fact which satisfied us all as to the sudden manner of his

death.)

October 14.

As we proceeded the broad swampy bed of this river or morass appeared on

our right for a mile, the country being still covered by an open forest

of box, having also grass enough upon it. At eight miles we approached

some low hills of clay-slate, and I ascended one to the southward of our

route from which I recognised a sufficient number of previously observed

points to enable me to determine its relative position and theirs. On

this hill I found the beautiful Brownonia which we had seen before only

on Macquarie range beside the Lachlan. We here also met with the rare

Spadostylis cunninghamii, whose heart-shaped glaucous leaves so much

reminded us of the European euphorbias that it would have been mistaken

for one of them if it had not been for its shrubby habit and bright

yellow pea flowers.

PASS THROUGH FUTTER’S RANGE.

The country crossed beyond this hill was first undulating then hilly, and

at length became so much so that it was necessary to pick a way for the

carts with much caution. Nevertheless we at length succeeded in crossing

this range also at its lowest part where the hill to the northward of it,

already mentioned as the end of a range, bore nearly north. On reaching

the head of this pass the prospect before us, after winding through such

a labyrinth of hills, was agreeable enough. One fertile hollow led to an

open level country which appeared to be bounded at a great distance by

mountains; and I concluded that I should find in this extens…