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Native of Western Australia. Crossing Cattle over the Murray, near Lake Alexandrina. Drawn on stone by George Barnard from a sketch by G. Helioporus albo punctatus Gray. Hecatesia thyridion male upper side. Hecatesia thyridion fenestra in wing of male. Genealogical List, to show the manner in which a native family becomes divided. Contributions towards the Geographical distribution of the Mammalia of Australia, with notes on some recently discovered Species, by J.
A Catalogue of the Species of Reptiles and Amphibia hitherto described as inhabiting Australia, with a description of some New Species from Western Australia, and some remarks on their geographical distribution, by John Edward Gray, F. A few moments were sufficient to enable us all to recollect ourselves: The custom had always been for the other boat to lie off until I made the signal for them to run in, and it accordingly was now waiting outside the breakers.
Her crew had not seen our misfortunes owing to the height of the surf, which, when we were under it, shut us out from their view, and now perceiving that we were on shore and the boat hauled up, they concluded all was right; and notwithstanding I made every possible sign to them not to beach, running as far as I could venture into the sea and shouting out to them, my voice was drowned by the roar of the surge, and I saw them bounding on to, what I thought, certain destruction.
We of course were all turned to render assistance. They fortunately kept rather to the south of the spot on which we had beached, and where it was much less rocky, so that the danger they incurred in reaching the shore was slight in comparison to ours; yet some of the planks of this boat were split throughout their entire length.
Whilst all hands were employed in endeavouring to repair damages I ascended a hill to reconnoitre our present position and found we were in a country of a pleasing and romantic appearance, and although the land was not good the nature of the soil made me aware that we were most probably in the vicinity of a large tract of better quality; indeed this was the only part of South-west Australia in which I had met with the ancient red sandstone of the north-west coast; immediately behind the sandhills on which I stood was a thick Casuarina scrub which sloped down into a deep valley, and beyond this rose lofty and fantastic hills.
After I had for some time looked round on this scene I returned to the party and received the report of the carpenters, who, having examined the boats, stated their inability to render either of them fit for sea. To this I had already made up my mind; and even if the boats had been uninjured I doubt whether we could ever have got them off again through the tremendous surf which was breaking on this part of the shore; whilst to have moved them to any distance would, in our present weak and enfeebled state, have been utterly impossible.
No resource was now left to us but to endeavour to reach Perth by walking; yet when I looked at the sickly faces of some of the party and saw their wasted forms I much doubted if they retained strength to execute such a task; but they themselves were in high spirits and talked of the undertaking as a mere trifle. I gave orders for the necessary preparations to be made and then started with two or three hands to search for water. On reaching the valley I have before mentioned we found a small stream, and following this to the northward for about a mile came out upon one of the most romantic and picturesque-looking estuaries I had yet seen: We did not indeed find much good land about this estuary, but there were rich flats upon each side of it, whilst the nature of the rocks and the lofty and peculiar character of the distant hills gave promise of the most fertile region I had yet seen in extra-tropical Australia.
We followed the shores of the estuary to the northward and eastward until we saw a point where it appeared to separate into two branches. The natives decamped as soon as they observed us coming, and Kaiber, who watched them with the most intense interest, indulged in various speculations as to the number they would bring back when they returned.
We joined the party and traced the shores of the estuary to its mouth, which turned out to be the opening we saw in the morning: Owing to this reef there are no breakers on the bar, but its mouth is very narrow and so shoal that I doubt if a boat could be got in at any other time than high water: The men not having quite completed their preparations for starting, I moved off at dawn to resume the survey of Gantheaume Bay and its vicinity.
The estuary appeared this morning even more lovely than yesterday, and as the heavy morning mists arose, unfolding its beauties to our view, all those feelings came thrilling through my mind which explorers alone can know; flowering shrubs and trees, drooping foliage, a wide and placid expanse of water met the view; trickling springs and fertile flats were passed over by us; there was much barren land visible in the distance, though many a sign and token might lead the practical explorer to hope that he was about to enter upon a tract of an extent and fertility yet unknown in south-west Australia.
A total change had taken place in the geological formation of the land: Each step I took rendered my spirits more buoyant and elastic, and each hill, the position of which I fixed, gave me, from its appearance, renewed hopes. Under such agreeable circumstances the morning wore rapidly away, and, having rendered my survey as complete as I could, we returned to the boats. We were now all ready to commence our toilsome journey; the provisions had been shared out; twenty pounds of flour and one pound of salt provisions per man, being all that was left.
What I have here designated by the name of flour was quite unworthy of being so called. It was of a dark yellowish brown colour, and had such a sour fermented taste that nothing but absolute necessity could induce anyone to eat it. The party however were in high spirits; they talked of a walk of three hundred miles in a direct line through the country without taking hills, valleys, and necessary deviations into account as a trifle, and in imagination were already feasting at home and taking their ease after the toils they had undergone.
I gave them all warning of the many difficulties they had yet to encounter, and did this not with the intention of damping their ardour but in the hope of inducing them to abandon some portion of the loads they intended to carry. I entrusted a small pocket chronometer to Mr. Coles and Auger also undertook to carry a large sextant, turn about; all my own papers, such charts as I thought necessary, and some smaller instruments I bore myself; but Kaiber, in order to relieve me, took charge of my gun and some other articles.
Smith carried his sketchbook and box of colours. I ought here to state that, in all the difficulties which beset those individuals to whom I entrusted anything, they never, except on one occasion, and by my orders, abandoned it: Our loads having been hoisted on our shoulders away we moved.
I had before chosen my line of route, and the plan I had resolved to adopt was to walk on slowly but continuously for an hour, and then to halt for ten minutes; during which interval of time the men could rest and relieve themselves from the weight of their burdens whilst I could enter what notes and bearings I had taken during the preceding hour. We were embarrassed for the first portion of our journey this afternoon by a thick scrub, through which we could only make our way with great difficulty, but on coming to a watercourse running into the southern part of Gantheaume Bay from the south-east I turned up its bed, and we were then able to move along with tolerable facility.
This watercourse ran at the bottom of a red sandstone ravine resembling the old red sandstone of England; and the remainder of the evening was spent in clambering about the rocks and endeavouring to avoid such natural obstacles as impeded our route. Our progress was slow, and just before nightfall I turned up a branch ravine trending to the southward, when we soon found ourselves at the foot of a lofty cascade down which a little water was slowly dropping; and on climbing to its summit it appeared to be so well adapted for a halting-place for the night that I determined to remain here.
The men made themselves comfortable near the waterholes, and Mr. Smith and myself crept into a little cave which occasionally served as a resting-place for the natives, the remains of whose fires were scattered about.
A wild woodland and rocky scenery was around us; and when the moon rose and shed her pale light over all I sat with Mr. Smith on the edge of the waterfall, gazing alternately into the dim woody abyss below, and at the red fires and picturesque groups of men, than which fancy could scarcely image a wilder scene. Before the day had fully dawned we were under weigh.
Our course for the first mile or two was embarrassed by ravines and scrub similar to that we had yesterday met with; our progress was therefore very slow, but we at length emerged on elevated sandy downs, thickly clothed with banksia trees, and across these we came upon a well-beaten native path running to the south by east, which was exactly our line of route.
We had not followed this path for more than four miles when we found a most romantically-situated native well, surrounded by shrubs and graceful wattle trees, and of a depth and size such as we had never before observed.
Here then we seated ourselves, and upon such scanty fare as we had made a sparing breakfast. This however but very insufficiently supplied our wants; and as we sat at this little well, thus surrounded with such fairy scenery, a variety of philosophic reflections crossed our minds and found vent in words. Nothing could be more delightfully romantic than our present position.
Both as regarded danger, scenery, savages, and unknown lands, we were in precisely the situation in which Mr. Cooper and other novelists delight to depict their travellers, with this one woeful difference--our wallets were empty.
It was in vain I fumbled about in mine; I could neither find the remains of a venison pasty, a fat buffalo's hump, or any other delicacy: Deeply did we regret that we were not favoured for a few days with the company of Mr.
Cooper, that he might in our present difficulties fully initiate us into the mysterious, nay, almost miraculous means by which his travellers, even in the most dreary wilds, always contrived to draw forth from their stock of provender such dainties that the bare recollection of them made our mouths water; but the necessities of the moment would not permit me for more than a few minutes to indulge in these speculations, and we turned therefore from seductive travels of the imagination to the more stringent ones of reality.
I now entreated the men to disencumber themselves of a portion of the loads which they were attempting to carry. Urged by a miscalculating desire of gain, when the boats were abandoned they had laid hands upon canvas and what else they thought would sell at Perth, and some of them appeared to be resolved rather to risk their lives than the booty they were bending under.
The more tractable threw away the articles I told them to get rid of; but neither entreaties nor menaces prevailed with the others. For the next three miles we still followed the native path which continued to run south by east. The whole of this distance was over open sandy downs, abounding in kangaroos; but we now suddenly emerged into a rich limestone country of gently sloping hills and valleys, affording, even at this season of the year, fair feed for sheep or cattle, and we found springs of water at every few hundred yards, generally situated at the edge of a large clump of trees.
After having for some time rested here I quitted the native path, which trended too much to the eastward, and, leaving also the direction of the limestone country which ran inland, we continued a south by east course over a gravelly tableland in places covered with beds of clay on which rested ponds of water.
The country here was perfectly open, with clumps of trees to the eastward. Emus and kangaroos were wandering about the plains. Two miles more brought us to an almost impenetrable belt of scrub which lay east and west, directly athwart our path, so that we were obliged to face it; and in two hours and a half I had forced my way through it.
The others followed, slowly emerging from the bush after me and, as we were all totally exhausted, as well as dreadfully torn and bruised, we halted at its edge for the night, and lighting our fires lay down to court that repose we had so fairly earned.
We had however only walked fifteen and a half miles today. I again this morning used every effort to induce some more of the men to abandon a portion of their loads. I represented to them their weak state, the small supply of provisions they had with them, and the difficulty they already found in keeping up with the party; but all these arguments and every other I could make use of were unavailing; the tenacity with which they clung to a worthless property, even at the risk of their lives, is almost incredible, and it is to be borne in mind that this property was not their own, but what they had taken from the wreck of the boats.
Did I even induce one to throw anything away another avaricious fellow would pick it up; and their thoughts and conversation, instead of running upon making the best of their way home and saying their lives, consisted in conjectures as to what they would realize from their ill-gotten and embarrassing booty. The course I pursued was one of degrees and we soon fell in with the native path which we had quitted yesterday; but it now became wide, well beaten, and differing altogether by its permanent character from any I had seen in the southern portion of this continent.
For the first five miles we traversed scrubby stony hills, thickly wooded with banksia trees; but the limestone here again cropped out and we entered a very fertile valley, running north and south and terminating in a larger one which drained the country from east to west. This valley is remarkable as containing one Xanthorrhoea grass-tree being the farthest point to the north at which I have found this tree. In it also was a gigantic ant's nest, being the most southerly one I had yet seen.
All these circumstances convinced me that we were about to enter a very interesting region. And as we wound along the native path my wonder augmented; the path increased in breadth and in its beaten appearance, whilst along the side of it we found frequent wells, some of which were ten and twelve feet deep and were altogether executed in a superior manner.
This was the first time we had yet seen this plant on our journey, and now for three and a half consecutive miles we traversed a fertile piece of land literally perforated with the holes the natives had made to dig this root; indeed we could with difficulty walk across it on that account, whilst this tract extended east and west as far as we could see.
It was now evident that we had entered the most thickly-populated district of Australia that I had yet observed, and moreover one which must have been inhabited for a long series of years, for more had here been done to secure a provision from the ground by hard manual labour than I could have believed it in the power of uncivilised man to accomplish.
After crossing a low limestone range we came down upon another equally fertile warran ground, bounded eastward by a high range of rocky limestone hills, luxuriantly grassed, and westward by a low range of similar formation. The native path about two miles further on crossed this latter range, and we found ourselves in a grassy valley, about four miles wide, bounded seawards by sandy downs.
Along its centre lay a chain of reedy freshwater swamps, and native paths ran in from all quarters to one main line of communication leading to the southward.
In these swamps we first found the yunjid, or flag a species of typha and the sow-thistle of the southern districts; one we came to was a thick tea-tree swamp, extremely picturesque, and producing abundance of these plants, some of which were collected by the men to eat in the evening.
To my surprise Mr. Walker here came up to me and asked if I did not think it would be better to halt for a day or two at places of this kind to allow the men to refresh themselves. The idea of men halting and wasting their strength and energies in searching for native food whilst they had so fearful a journey before them, and no supplies, appeared to me to be preposterous in the extreme: Even Kaiber, from his ignorance of the roots, declared that he should starve in this country.
I saw therefore that did I adopt the proposed plan of travelling only a few miles a day, and occasionally halting for a day or two to refresh ourselves upon some thistles and periwinkles, I should infallibly sacrifice the lives of the whole party; and under this impression I declined to accede to the suggestion.
Amongst indolent and worn-out men however it subsequently became an extremely popular notion, and, as future events clearly showed, a fatally erroneous one. I from the first opposed it both by my words and example; and in this instance, as soon as I conceived that the men were sufficiently rested, I moved on.
After travelling another mile we found ourselves at the head of a large and picturesque estuary which lay north and south; the native path ran along its shores, which were of great richness and beauty, and the estuary itself lay to our west and was about two miles across; on the east a series of rich undercliff limestone hills gradually rose into lofty and precipitate ranges, between which and the estuary was the fertile valley along which we wound our weary way; while groups of graceful acacias with their airy and delicate foliage gave a great charm to this beautiful spot.
We moved slowly along, and ere we had made two miles more the shades of night began to fall and I halted the party. The abundance of grass which grew around enabled us to enjoy the almost unknown luxury of a soft bed, yet as I lay down my thoughts were far from pleasant when I found that we had only walked twelve miles today, and this distance had been accomplished by several of the party with the greatest difficulty.
Three of them were the men who carried those heavy loads which I could not yet induce them to abandon; now I could not but reflect that, if their difficulty was so great in walking in a country abounding with water, that it would be almost impossible for them to get along in one where it was scarce; moreover the mere physical exertion of getting unwilling men to move by persuasions and entreaties was harassing in the extreme, and indeed had so agitated me that the night had nearly worn away ere I closed my eyes.
The rich flats we were on today have apparently at no distant period formed part of the head of the estuary. Such a heavy dew had fallen during the night that when I got up in the morning I found my clothes completely saturated, and everything looked so verdant and flourishing compared to the parched up country which existed to the north of us, and that which I knew lay to the south, that I tried to find a satisfactory reason to explain so strange a circumstance, but without success.
It seemed certain however that we stood in the richest province of South-west Australia, and one which so differs from the other portions of it in its geological characters, in the elevations of its mountains which lie close to the sea coast, in the fertility of its soil, and the density of its native population, that we appeared to be moving upon another continent.
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