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came to it, evidently showing that the coal formation extends high up the river. Its course is N.E., according to the blacks, who are very numerous, and behaved very friendly to us.
I do not think that the part of the Mackenzie we passed is well adapted for cattle or sheep. The scrub is too frequent and thick; but the grass, the fine plains, and open box forest are very inviting. I have reason to believe the scrub is less frequent down the river. 'At latitude 23° 21′ 30′′′ 1 left the Mackenzie for the N.W. For twenty-five miles we passed long stretches of thick scrub, of fine, open, narrow-leaved iron-bark forest, of box-flats, and of plains. The last were of a rich, black soil, strewed over with pieces of fossil wood, changed into iron stone and silex. Here was some of the finest country, with rich grass and herbs, plenty of water, open forest and plain, with honey sweet as those of Hymettus, and plenty of game; and the air was fragrant with wild thyme and marjoram. The country was lined with dense acacia scrubs, extending more than twenty-five miles; interrupted only by creeks, which appear all to belong to the system of the Mackenzie. A fine range of peaks was seen to the N. W. from almost the only hill here. I followed one of the creeks to its head, and, going up a sandstone spar, I came to a fine table land, where plains with rich black soil, covered with luxuriant grass and herbs, were separated by narrow slips of sandy, ironbark forest. The plains enlarged as I advanced, and a series of magnificent cones and ranges rose from this level. I called the range Peak Range, and gave to the most prominent peaks separate names. They are composed of domite, whilst the ridges to the E. and S.E. were of sandstone; and the ridges, varying the plains to the westward, were of basaltæ. Peak Range is in lat. 22° 56′ 84", long. 148° 19. The plains and downs extend far to the westward, where another range of peaks was observed. There was good water running S.W., but the plains were badly watered. The country is well inhabited. A closer examination would detect more water, and, this procured, no country would be better adapted for pastoral purposes. At latitude 22° 23′ fine open, undulating country, extends to the N.
Further north, the traveller reached a region of another character, in so warm a latitude, that its elevation alone renders it habitable for the important objects specified by Dr. Leichardt; and its situation between the Gulf of Carpentaria gives it a peculiar value in reference to North Australian colonization.
'In latitude 18° 49′ 9,"' says the Doctor, we entered into a large valley, with numerous lagoons, at the east side of which the river (Burdekin) came down, whilst a reedy brook swept along the basaltic ridge, which bounded it to the southward. The lagoona were covered by nympha (lotus), the seed vessels and rhizome of which formed the principal food of numerous nations.
This valley is bounded by lofty table land; the whole of which is beautifully grassed, of great extent, well provided with water along
the creeks, the brooks, and the river; but in the dry season waterless in its centre. This country is a pattern for cattle and sheep stations. The elevation of it, (at least 2,000 to 2,800 feet above the level of the sea,) renders it cool and fit for sheep. The ground is sound, and the forest is very open. It is the centre of the York peninsula, equally distant from the east coast and from the Gulf of Carpentaria, to which a system of rivers, well provided with water, forms an easy communication, with the exception of some mountainous passages, which later travellers will change with easier roads for that of the rivers.'
Of the country directly between this high table land and the Gulf of Carpentaria, Dr. Leichardt says,
The whole tract from Gilbert's Lagoon to the Gappar, extending along the east coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, is highly adapted for pastoral pursuits. Cattle and horses would thrive exceedingly well; sheep would not; neither the climate, the temperature, nor the nature of the soil would be favourable to them. Large plains, limited by narrow belts of open forest land, extensive box flats, and tea-tree flats openly timbered, changing with a more undulating country, fine grassy meadows along frequent chains of lagoons, and shady forest land along the rivers, render this country pleasing to the eye of the traveller, and inviting to the Squatter. After what I have learned of the cultivation of rice and cotton, I can add that long sketches of country would be adapted for both. The country is well inhabited by natives. We had three times intercourse with them. The first time they were hostile, when Gilbert was killed; the second time they were noisy, but withdrew at the approach of a horseman ; the third time, at the Gappar, they were very friendly; and it was evident they had seen either Malays or white men before us. I called this whole country, the Nonda country, from a fine shady tree with a yellow eatable fruit, which we enjoyed very much.'
Numerous natives, or traces of them, were seen from the beginning to the end of this expedition; and, except in one instance, they gave no reason for complaint. Often they were
The only distressing incident on this expedition, the killing of Mr. Gilbert by the natives, deserves a special record; and in the absence of the inquest, which it is to be wished could be held upon all such cases on the return of our travellers, it will be convenient to state this case in the several versions published about it.
Dr. Leichardt's report:- At one of the lagoons, in latitude 15° 55', not very far from a large creek, which I consider the upper part of the Nassau, Mr. Gilbert was killed by the blacks, who had sneaked upon us immediately after nightfall, just when most of the party had retired to their couches. They wounded Mr. Roper and Mr. Calvert severely; but Mr. Gilbert was the only one who received a deadly wound,-a spear entering the chest, between the neck and the clavicle, at the moment when he was stooping to get out of his tent. At the first discharge of his guns, the blacks ran away. The next morning they were wailing for one of their
useful, and intelligent; and near the settlement of Port Essington they were found to be unusually friendly, thus giving proof of good treatment received by them from the British.
This expedition had not been heard of during many months; and last year disquieting rumours reached Sydney to the effect that the whole party was cut off by the natives. Another party, therefore, headed by Mr. Pemberton Hodgson, of New South Wales, set out in August, 1845, to the relief of Dr. Leichardt. They soon satisfied themselves that the rumours were unfounded; and the account published by Mr. Hodgson on his return contains some sagacious conjectures on the subject, and some interesting notes respecting the aborigines.
Mr. Hodgson had accompanied Dr. Leichardt a few miles on the original journey, and soon found again the spot at which he had quitted the party to return in lat. 26° 4', long. 15°. After several days patient search their tracks were recognised in advance of that spot, and proof obtained of their safety beyond one of the scenes of their rumoured destruction. That was the
course of a furious hurricane which had swept the country for a breadth of three miles, uprooting the loftiest trees, and covering the vallies with a deposit of six inches of fresh earth from the hills. But the same tracks, and trees branded L, were found beyond it, disproving one of the rumours of the party having been "buried asleep under the inundation." The next number, who, it seems, had been severely wounded. They left the country, and we did not see any more of them.'
The report of Captain M'Arthur, commandant at Port Essington:They were now in the meridian of Cape York, where they say the natives treacherously attacked the party. The Malays speak unfavourably of the tribes on this coast. Mr. Gilbert was killed, and two of his companions severely wounded; one lost an eye. It appears they were saved by the intrepidity of the youngest of the party. All ad neglected their fire-arms, having hitherto experienced nothing like hostility from the natives. Consequently, it required some time before effectual resistance could be offered. This lad only discharged one barrel, and it is believed killed a man, as the assailants quickly retired, and did not attempt further molestation.'
Report of Viator' in the Colonial Gazette, July 28, 1846 :-'In the neighbourhood of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Mr. Gilbert, the naturalist, and Mr. Calvert, having been separated from the main body, went to sleep on the ground without keeping watch. They were surprised by the natives, and Mr. Gilbert was first speared, and then his brains were dashed out with a club. Mr. Calvert, although speared through both legs, managed to rejoin his party.'
There are material differences in these reports; which are now reproduced not from any distrust of Dr. Leichardt, for whom it is impossible to have any but feelings of sincere respect; but his apparent want of caution, as the party was in a doubtful neighbourhood, is deeply to be regretted. It may be hoped that, in this more formal publication of this expedition, this incident, and his more satisfactory intercourse with the natives, will have the more careful development.
rumour, that the party had been massacred, was thought to be unfounded, because some of the natives met with, admitted they had seen the travellers, from one of whom they had received a present; and others exhibited entire confidence in the white people.
We frequently met the blacks,' says Mr. Hodgson, and they always came to us grinning, unarmed, and evidently relying on our kind treatment. They generally brought their wives and children with them; and their civil behaviour convinced me that they must have experienced kind treatment from the doctor. Had they committed the murder, their wives would have been kept back; and the natural idea is, they would either have avoided us altogether, or, emboldened by former success, assumed a bouncing air, and impudent line of conduct. They often supplied us with animal food, which was not despicable.'
The furthest point we reached was lat. 25°, long. 148° 47′, without making out any thing satisfactory. Returning to the spot where the tracks were last seen, the natives again made their appearance; and after a great deal of explanation, we made them understand what we wanted. They conducted us to one of Dr. Leichardt's camps. He had been fortunate in crossing a river here; and had found a second running into from the north-west. We followed this creek twenty-five miles in that direction, but without seeing more of his
'We returned satisfied that the rumours were without foundation; and the behaviour of the blacks to us here, when only four in number, banished all remaining fears. During one whole day, we had upwards of fifty men about us from sunrise to sunset, without a single weapon, and all they seemed to require was, permission to gratify their curiosity. They all admitted having seen Leichardt, and all pointed to the north-west, as the tour he had taken.
'I returned, after having travelled 800 miles in eight weeks.'
The zeal with which this gentleman, and other colonists with him, followed the travellers, when thought to be lost, is characteristic. The whole expedition seems to have been popular and colonial, and was set on foot without the aid of government. The nomenclature of the discovered rivers accordingly forms a just tribute to Dr. Leichardt's friends and supporters.
The Mackenzie, the Isaacs, the Sutton, the Burdekin, the Lynd, the Nicholson, the Macarthur, the Mitchell, and the like, will do honour in Australian annals to the individuals who 'contributed so kindly to the expedition,' as Dr. Leichardt repeats with much simplicity, when he had some thirty or forty occasions of immortalizing his friends' names.
Other expeditions are in progress to complete discoveries in
New Holland, Sir Thomas Mitchell, the surveyor-general, is far away north of the Darkin, in a track opened by his son.
Dr. Leichardt is reported to be preparing to set out again to penetrate from Sydney to Port Essington, and thence perhaps for the Swan River.
Interior expeditions of a different character are spoken of. One of them, with cattle from the back of Port Philip and Adelaide, for Western Australia, will be followed with much interest.
Under such circumstances, it is not an exaggeration to say, that Great Britain is destined early to colonize the whole of New Holland; so that it is high time to set about saving the aborogines from being sacrificed to our indolence and want of consideration.
The first step in the good work, is to stop the settlement of convicts on the north-east coast. Their corrupt influence in the Eastern Archipelago is no small objection to them. But it is for the sake of the natives of New Holland that a strong appeal ought to be now made. Purer honours await Earl Grey and Mr. Hawes, and their vigorous colonial supporters, Lord John Russell, Mr. C. Buller, and the Earl of Clarendon, than to have their names put like the well-meaning, but imprudent Governor Macquarie, upon a Prisoner's Barrack'-a Chain Gang Station-house'-a 'Female Factory'-a Hulk'—or, at best, a 'Convict Hospital,' along the magnificent vallies and table-land, extending some twenty degrees from Moreton Bay to Port Essington. A better test could not be given of our real regeneration in colonial policy, than the above document of this convict settlement.
The next step is for the Secretary of State to acquire a knowledge of Australian affairs; and in this crisis to do by himself what all his predecessors, without any exception, for one hundred and fifty years, have done by deputy. Much more • must follow.
Other measures are urgent to save the aborigines of New Holland. Institutions may be established for them with excellent effect. Such institutions prospered, in spite of every discouragement, under the care of the Rev. Mr. Cartwright, in New South Wales, and they might be improved. A careful inquiry into the proceedings of the protectors of recent times, with all other late proceedings, will furnish the necessary hints for their improvement.
If the government will set about the task of elevating those people from their present vagrant and destitute condition, to a settled race of small proprietors of stock of all sorts, the