Intro & Proposed Route, 1836
THREE EXPEDITIONS INTO THE INTERIOR OF EASTERN AUSTRALIA;
WITH DESCRIPTIONS OF THE RECENTLY EXPLORED REGION OF
AND OF THE PRESENT COLONY OF NEW SOUTH WALES:
BY MAJOR T.L. MITCHELL, F.G.S. & M.R.G.S.
Towards the end of the year 1835 I was apprised that the governor of New
South Wales was desirous of having the survey of the Darling completed
with the least possible delay. His excellency proposed that I should
return for this purpose to the extreme point on the Darling where my last
journey terminated and that, after having traced the Darling into the
Murray, I should embark on the latter river and, passing the carts and
oxen to the left bank at the first convenient opportunity, proceed
upwards by water as far as practicable and regain the colony somewhere
about Yass Plains.
The preparations for this journey were made, as on the former occasion,
chiefly in the lumber-yard at Parramatta, and under the superintendence
of the same officer, Mr. Simpson. Much of the equipment used for the last
expedition was available for this occasion. The boats and boat-carriage
were as serviceable as ever, with the advantage of being better seasoned;
and we could now, having had so much experience, prepare with less
difficulty for such an undertaking.
In consequence of a long-continued drought serviceable horses and
bullocks were at that time scarce, and could only be obtained at high
prices; but no expense was spared by the government in providing the
The party having preceded me by some weeks on the road, I at length
overtook it on the 15th of March in a valley near the Canobolas which I
had fixed as the place of rendezvous, and where, from the great
elevation, I hoped still to find some grass. How we were to proceed
however without water was the question I was frequently asked; and I was
informed at Bathurst that even the Lachlan was dried up.
Our cattle were lean but I took a greater number in consequence. The
pasturage was still meagre and scarcely any water remained on the face of
the earth. It was unusually low in the holes last year, but this season
very few indeed contained any. The equinox however was at hand, and I
could not suppose that it was never to rain again, however hopeless the
aspect of the country appeared at that time.
AGREEMENT WITH A NATIVE GUIDE.
In this camp of preparation I was visited by our old friends the natives;
and one who called himself John Piper and spoke English tolerably well
agreed to accompany me as far as I should go, provided he was allowed a
horse and was clothed, fed, etc.; all which I immediately agreed to. I
had not however forgotten Mr. Brown, and I reminded Burnett of that
native’s desertion; but Burnett, who seemed to be on excellent terms with
Piper, assured me that after he should be some weeks’ journey in the
interior dread of the savage natives would prevent him from leaving our
party, and so it turned out.
But in breaking on our stock of provisions, we commenced with due regard
to their importance on an interior journey by so reducing the weight of
our steel-yard that a five months’ stock should last nearly seven months.
This arrangement was however a secret known only to Burnett and myself.
The plan of encampment was to be the same as on the former journey, only
that a greater number of carts stood in the line parallel to the
On the following day I organised the party, and armed the men. I
distributed to each a suit of new clothing; consisting of grey trousers
and a red woollen shirt, the latter article, when crossed by white
braces, giving the men somewhat of a military appearance.
LIST OF THE PARTY PROCEEDING TO THE DARLING IN MARCH 1836.*
(*Footnote. The men whose names are printed in uppercase had obtained
their freedom as a reward for past services in the interior. The
asterisks distinguish the names of men who had been with me on one or
both the former expeditions. Those to whose names the letter T is also
prefixed having previously obtained a ticket of leave releasing them from
a state of servitude. Each man was also furnished with a small case
containing six cartridges which he was ordered always to wear about his
This was the army with which I was to traverse unexplored regions
peopled, as far as we knew, by hostile tribes. But I could depend upon a
great portion of the men, and amongst them were some who had been with me
on the two former expeditions and who, although they had obtained their
emancipation as the well merited reward of their past services in the
interior, were nevertheless willing to accompany me once more. I accepted
their services on obtaining a promise from the governor that if the
expedition was successful their conditional pardons might be converted
into absolute pardons, a boon on which even some wealthy men in the
colony would probably have set a high value.
One of the most devoted of these followers was William Woods who, having
long toiled carrying my theodolite to the summits of the highest
mountains, was at length more comfortably situated than he had ever been
in his life before as overseer of a road party. This poor fellow
relinquished his place of authority over other men and in which he
received 1 shilling per diem, again put on the grey jacket, and set a
valuable example as the most willing of my followers, wherever drudgery
or difficulty were most discouraging.
Their names and designation were as follows:
Major T.L. Mitchell: Chief of the party : – : Rifle and pistols.
G.C. Stapylton, Esquire : Second in command : – : Carabine and pistol.
**Alander Burnett : Overseer : Storekeeper : Carabine and pistol.
**Robert Muirhead : Bullock-driver : Soldier and lance-corporal : Musket,
bayonet and pistol.
T*Charles Hammond : Bullock-driver : – : Musket, bayonet and pistol.
T*William Thomas : Bullock-driver : Butcher : Musket, bayonet and pistol.
Richard Lane : Bullock-driver : – : Carabine and pistol.
James McLellan : Bullock-driver : – : Musket, bayonet and pistol.
Charles Webb : Bullock-driver : – : Musket, bayonet and pistol.
T*John Johnston : Blacksmith : – : Carabine.
T Walter Blanchard : Blacksmith : Measurer : Carabine and pistol.
**William Woods : Horse carter : Sailor : Carabine and pistol.
*Charles King : Horse carter : Measurer : Musket, bayonet and pistol.
*John Gayton : Horse carter : Cook : Carabine.
John Drysdale : Medical attendant : Barometer-carrier : Carabine.
John Roach : Collector of birds : – : Pistol (fowling-piece).
John Richardson : Collector of plants : Shepherd : Two pistols.
**John Palmer : Sailor : Sailmaker : Carabine and pistol.
John Douglas : Sailor : – : Carabine.
T**Joseph Jones : Shepherd : – : Carabine.
James Taylor : Groom : Trumpeter : Carabine and pistol.
Edward Pickering : Carpenter : Barometer-carrier : Carabine.
Archibald McKean : Carpenter : Barometer-carrier : Carabine.
James Field : Shoemaker : – : Carabine.
**Anthony Brown : Cook : – : Carabine and pistol.