[p167] Allan Cunningham, who brought back from his travels on land and sea such a plentiful store of the floral wealth of the continent, was a "Botanical Collector" for the Royal Gardens at Kew, and was admirably fitted not only by his scientific training but by his own untiring energy and devotion to his task for the work which has rendered him famous. The hardships which he endured during his Australian researches seem to have shortened his life, and indeed a glance at his portrait, reproduced on another page, suggests that nature had scarcely equipped him for the tremendous physical strain which his long explorations imposed upon him.
His journal, bound in one large volume, is in the Natural History Museum at South Kensington, and the full extracts which will be found in the following pages are now published, as far as the author knows, for the first time. It is a diary of his work day by day for a period of less than two years out of the many that he spent in New South Wales, where he was to end his life. He sent home many letters and notes[*] describing discoveries of importance; yet of all the records he has left this book is the most human.
[* The diary and the reports of Cunningham are too voluminous to be printed in extenso in such a volume as this, but all essential portions are either quoted verbatim or in a slightly abbreviated form.]
It begins shortly after his arrival in the colony, when he had made his home at Parramatta, and tells of his first advance with Lieutenant Oxley's expedition into the interior of a country which he was afterwards to penetrate again and again, exploring its vast distances, making new discoveries, and closely examining its flora. In turning over the pages of this old book, the very scent of the flowers, the splendour of their colours, and the delicate tracery of the ferns, seem to pervade it and carry us back to the time when, as a young man of six-and-twenty, Allan Cunningham landed in Sydney and first began to make his collections of plants and seeds.
[p168] He was of Scottish extraction, his father, Allan Cunningham, being a native of Renfrewshire. His mother, whose maiden name was Dickin, came of a Shropshire family. The elder Allan Cunningham was her second husband; she was married to him on August 20, 1790, and she bore him two sons, both of whom were to end their lives in New South Wales: Allan was born at Wimbledon on July 13, 1791, and Richard on February 12, 1793. Both went to school at Putney, and after Allan's schooldays were over he spent some time in a conveyancer's office in Lincoln's Inn, but the study of law did not sufficiently appeal to him and he gladly accepted a situation at Kew as clerk to Mr. W. T. Aiton, then at work on the second edition of the "Hortus Kewensis."
Here Allan Cunningham often met Robert Brown (late botanist of H.M.S. "Investigator"), librarian to Sir Joseph Banks, who had charge of the "Hortus Kewensis" through the press; and, doubtless from Brown, Cunningham gained at first hand much information concerning the flora of Australia. In 1814 he received his appointment as Botanical Collector to the Royal Gardens and left Plymouth with James Bowie on October 29th, in H.M.S. "Duncan" (74), Captain Chambers, for Brazil.
Rio de Janeiro was sighted on Christmas Day, and a few days later the two botanists landed and spent three months collecting specimens in the surrounding country. In April, 1815, they started for San Paulo, where they arrived after a month of hard travelling through rough country. They returned to Rio in August and spent twelve months in collecting plants in the neighbourhood, sending home both dried and living specimens. Cunningham then received orders from Sir Joseph Banks to sail to New South Wales, while Bowie was to proceed to the Cape of Good Hope. The former took his passage in the ship "Surrey" and reached Sydney Cove on December 20, 1816, after a voyage of ninety-five days. He landed on the following day and proceeded at once to report his arrival to Governor Macquarie, then living at Parramatta, who gave him a very kind reception. Shortly afterwards he hired a cottage and took up his residence at Parramatta, where he seems to have lived during the earlier part of his stay in the colony.
He tells us that, on paying his first visit to the Governor, General Macquarie had hinted that an expedition (under the command of Mr. Oxley) to explore further to the westward of the Blue Mountains was in contemplation; that it would be [p169] composed of ten individuals, and strongly recommended him to join it, being convinced that "an infinite number of new and interesting specimens of plants might be detected in the several districts through which it might pass." Cunningham determined not to miss so favourable an opportunity of seeing the interior, and, matters being amicably arranged with Mr. Oxley, he began his preparations for the journey which was to prove the forerunner of many tours of exploration.
At first Cunningham was content to accompany expeditions as the botanist attached to the party, but before long he found that he himself possessed the inclination and skill to become a leader in exploration. On his long journeys into new and strange country he was gradually attracted, not only by the fascination of its botany, but by its unknown mountain ranges, its distant plains, and its curious rivers winding within their deep, torn banks over beds of sand. He soon seems to have determined to investigate them, and about the year 1822, starting under his own leadership and using his own methods to penetrate the bush, he began his work as an explorer, with the same zeal that he bestowed upon his botanical researches. How well his efforts were rewarded and how great the measure of success which crowned his labours the discoveries of Pandora's Pass, the Darling Downs, Cunningham's Gap, the Gwydir, the Dumaresq, and the Condamine Rivers will sufficiently bear witness.
His long voyages with Captain King to the north and northwest coasts afforded him increased opportunities for studying the botany of the mainland, and his visits to Tasmania and New Zealand added greatly to his knowledge of lands beyond the limits of the continent itself.
Like a true botanist, Cunningham took pains that not distant England alone should reap the benefit of his toil. During his many journeys into the bush over miles of trackless country he sowed various kinds of seeds in Australian soil in scattered areas, choosing localities where he believed the plants would best germinate and thrive. These seeds he had brought with him from England, from Brazil, and from the Cape, his last port of call before landing at Sydney. So that, in after years, many people on perceiving a single specimen of some strange plant flourishing alone in the native earth in an isolated spot have wondered why and how it came there. Probably the ornamental Agave americana growing at the foot of the hill whereon stands the old Church of the Holy Trinity at Kelso sprang from seed [p170] thus sown; and, if so, it is in itself a fitting memorial to Cunningham.
One day when conversing with Dr. Lang on this subject he said: "I always carry into the interior a small bagful of peach-stones" (in his journals he enumerates various fruit stones and seeds), "and whenever I find a piece of good soil in the wilderness I cause it to be dug up and drop in a few in the hope of providing a meal for some famished European . . . or some hungry blackfellow." In Sydney and around Parramatta he was equally eager to distribute seeds of English flowers--usually specimens of the commoner kinds--to those earlier generations of Australians who thus learned to love the primrose, the wallflower, and the violet, as had their forefathers, and to cultivate the English rose, all of which gave colour and lent influence in forming the minds of the children, many of whom were destined to make their homes in that very wilderness, and to plant their gardens there.
How much the flowers meant too to those British people who had left their native land perhaps Hopley's picture which we reproduce, best will show.
Though Oxley's "Journal of Exploration into the Interior" in 1817 has long been printed, we read an entirely new account of his travels in Cunningham's diary. Fresh as he was from Brazil, he is able to give us with a more experienced mind his impressions of the plants and flowers that he saw growing upon the Blue Mountains, at Bathurst, in the country watered by the Macquarie and Lachlan, and also on the north-west coast, and to compare them with those already seen by Robert Brown on the eastern side of the mountains and in Northern Australia.
1817 March 1st. Saturday. Dull cloudy weather. Prevented from stirring out of doors. Small mistling rain most part of the day.
Evening fair, light clouds.
1817 March 2nd. Sunday. Showery in the early part of the morning. Fine and clear at 9 o'clock. Continued so the whole of the day.
[p171] 1817 March 3rd. Monday. Morning very fine; went on board the Brig Kangaroo and saw Captain Jeffreys who informed me that he could not sail before the 16th or 17th inst. Returned on shore in consequence of an invitation to dine with His Excellency in the afternoon.
1817 March 4th. Tuesday. This day was occupied on the Botany Bay Road. Gathered on the roadside duplicate seeds of Tetratheca sp. On the damp sandy camps gathered specimens of Banksia oblongifolia and seeds of Petrophila Pulchella. In dry forest lands near the Bay I gathered specimens of Dodonaea cuneata, a new species, a small shrub; observed in the deep waters near the road an aquatic plant in flower, perhaps A ctinocarpus of Brown's Prodrs. Cor. 3, petals white, anthers and styles yellow.
1817 March 5th. Wednesday. Papering my seeds and specimens.
1817 March 8th. Saturday. Ticketing and packing the remaining of my specimens. Having visited the North Rocks near Parramatta but twice since I had been in New South Wales and desirous of augmenting my seed list I made an excursion to them at 12 o'clock. Gathered seeds of Ceratopetalum gummiferum (Christmas Bush);[*] seeds of an annual plant of the Asperifolia.; Aster sp., a very slender herbaceous plant; duplicate seeds of Panax sp., often before observed with some ferns, among which is a singular Acrostichum [leather fern]. On my return, gathered species of Epacris sp. [an Australian heath], flowers very large, white.
[* Although called a bush, it is really a tree, attaining a height of thirty to forty feet. It belongs to the natural order Saxifrageae. The generic name is taken from two Greek words meaning a horned petal. It is confined to the State of New South Wales.]
1817 March 10th. Monday. I made an excursion early this morning to the Pennant Hills about 8 miles from Parramatta. In rocky valleys at the base of these hills I gathered seeds of a handsome shrub of the genus Exocarpus, and perhaps the species discovered by Labillardière in Van Diemen's Island in 1793 and called by him E. expansa; much the habit of Taxus, receptacle of the fruit larger than E. cupressiformis [native cherry] and of a deep purple colour. Exocarpus cupressiformis, specimens in flower, and Baeckia densifolia, abundant on damp rocks.
1817 March 11th. Tuesday. Prevented from stirring out of doors. Heavy rain at night.
[p172] 1817 March 13th. Thursday. Morning fair but cloudy. Repapering[*] my specimens, seeds etc. Having heard of the arrival of the Ships Fame and Sir Wm. Bensley from London and desirous of ascertaining whether they had brought any letters for me, I went down to Sydney but found none had arrived. . . .
[* Changing the papers in which the specimens were dried from damp to dry sheets.]
1817 March 17th. Monday. The whole of the day was employed on an immense tract of land beyond the Camp at Parramatta but met with but little success. The late heavy rains had destroyed nearly the whole of the seeds that were ripe as well as the flowering specimens. Gathered seeds of an Elaeocarpus, a small tree, on the banks of the north creek etc., in low damp situations.
1817 March 19th. Wednesday. Took a walk a short distance on the Camp, gathered seeds of Patersonia sericea; Goodenia sp., a small herbaceous plant; and a species of Hypoxis, a small liliaceous plant, found among grass.
1817 March 20th. Thursday. An opportunity offering of a pack horse going up to Bathurst, I sent forward a specimen press and some paper to remain at the depo~t till my arrival.
1817 March 21st. Friday. Morning particularly calm, fine and clear. I occupied myself this day examining the botanical productions of a rocky creek in the environs of Baulkham Hills, about 5 miles north-west of Parramatta; collected seeds of the following plants:
1. Jasminoides (= Lycium), a twining shrub not unlike Jasminum gracile(H.K.), but the berry is many seeded.
2. Veronica sp., a small creeping rock plant, flowers blue.
3. Cissus sp., leaves quinated, leaflets ovate-oblong, glaucous beneath; a twining shrub.
4. Baeckia sp., allied to B. densifolia, a low depressed shrub, in damp situations.
It being far advanced in the afternoon before I could return to Baulkham Hills, having gone along the margins of the creek several miles, I passed the evening and night at the little farming establishment of a friend.
1817 March 22nd. Saturday. I returned to Parramatta this morning.
1817 March 24th. Monday. This day I finally packed my seeds and specimens. Writing letters to the Right Hon. Sir J. Banks and W. T. Aiton, Esqr., informing them among other matters of the shipping of a box of specimens and seeds on board [p173] H.M. Armed Brig "Kangaroo," bound for England direct. Enclosing copy of journal from September last to the end of last month, together with an account of my disbursements.
1817 March 25th. Tuesday. Having placed my box on board the daily passage boat, in order to be forwarded to Sydney Cove, I went down myself by land. In the afternoon I ship'd my collection on board the "Kangaroo" brig, which is expected to sail in a few days.
1817 March 26th. Wednesday. Bright clear day. Heat moderate.
1817 March 27th. Thursday. Waited (on the 26th) on the Governor but could not see him, His Excellency being much engaged at this period forming his despatches for England.
1817 March 31st. Monday. This dayIreceived a letter from the Deputy-Surveyor stating that next Thursday has been fixed upon as the day on which the remaining persons composing the expedition should proceed forward from Parramatta and begging me to hold myself in readiness on that day.
1817 April 1st. Tuesday. Remained within doors all the day--writing forward journal.
1817 April 2nd. Wednesday. This day I conveyed my chest and boxes to the Government store-house and placed them under the care of the storekeeper until my return from the intended journey.
Parramatta to Bathurst, 3-19 April, 1817
1817 April 3rd. Thursday. Although I have not received from the Right Hon. Sir J. Banks or Mr. Aiton any instructions to direct me in my duties in this country, still I should feel by no means justified in allowing so very favourable an opportunity now offering itself to pass by, and more especially as the natural history of the western interior of the continent is becoming daily more important and interesting to the Mother Country.
Considering the small portion of this vast continent yet known, and that imperfectly to a few individuals, and the large tract of country we may necessarily plod over in our endeavour towards accomplishing the primary and grand object on account of which the expedition (to which I have attached myself) has been formed, I anticipate much in my [p174] department and pursuits, and have endeavoured to guard against those inconveniences (which I have experienced on former journeys) by furnishing myself with moderate-sized portable saddle bags, and specimen cases, well canvassed over and painted, for the reception and protection of those treasures that the interior of this country may afford me. Mr. Evans, Assistant-Surveyor, arrived the last evening here at Parramatta in order to make arrangements relative to an extra cart for the conveyance of the remaining part of our luggage to Bathurst, intending to proceed forward on our route for that settlement to-morrow morning.
1817 April 4th. Friday. About 9 o'clock this morning we sent the two carts with the people forward, in order if possible to arrive on the right bank of the Nepean River (a distance of about 21 miles) this evening. We (Mr. Evans and myself) finally left Parramatta about 10 o'clock, passed the cluster of farms at Prospect Hill about midday, and were obliged to swim our horses over the South Creek, which although considerably abated, presents at this time a rapid stream of water of considerable depth, its wooden bridge having been carried away by the late floods. About 4 o'clock in the afternoon we arrived at the Ferry on the Nepean River, where we stopped for the night.
The road over which we passed this day, which is bounded by open forest land, is tolerably good considering the recent heavy rains that have fallen upon it and the waters that cross it in the slight hollows formed by the gentle risings of the country. The botany, with very few exceptions, is the same as that observed in similar situations in the environs of Parramatta. I have, however, gathered specimens of a Prostanthera, a dwarfish shrub with small purple flowers; a species of Persoonia, forming a small shrub with linear leaves is likewise in flower, and a species of Erodium is abundant in the pathway. Dodonaea filiformis, seen but sparingly in open woods near Botany Bay, is very abundant on each side of the river, in young fruit. From the difficulty experienced in passing the South Creek, our loaded carts, which we had passed on the road, could not overtake us this day.
1817 April 5th. Saturday. In consequence of our carts being unable to pass the South Creek the last evening, we were detained the whole of this day at the Ferry House. It afforded me an opportunity of examining the botanical productions on the [p175] immediate banks of the river, which, however, were by no means interesting. These are clothed with spreading trees of the Melia Azedarach commonly termed by the settlers "white cedar." It was in fruit. Casuarina torulosa and some common Eucalypti are the whole of the arborescent plants I observed. The late floods had made such dreadful ravages in the banks, which had been overflowed to a very considerable depth, as to leave me no herbaceous plants of any consideration.
1817 April 6th. Sunday. Our carts and people having arrived this morning, we ferried our luggage over the river (which at this period is not less than 90 feet wide) and pitched our tent on the opposite or left bank. Our horses, which had escaped from the paddock in which they were encircled, were not secured till too late to swim them over to our encampment.
1817 April 7th. Monday. This morning we swam our horses and bullocks over the river, and only waited the arrival of the Surveyor-General, John Oxley, Esq. (the chief of the expedition) to join us, according to agreement, in order to proceed on our journey. The banks on the Nepean abound with a species of Arum known in England by the name of A. Orixense [it is now known as Typhonium Brownii, Schott] differing from A. trilobatum in having a pedunculated spathe, which is longer than the spadix. Like its congeners, its flower has a fetid smell, and its root is of the most acrid taste and irritating quality so common to the genus, but boiled or roasted it is a nutritive vegetable equal to Caladium esculentum or buckra yam of our West Indian colonies. It is however but small. In an excursion I made down the river on its left bank, the following are the most remarkable plants that came within my notice and observation.
Phytolacca pentandra, an herbaceous plant of the habit of P. dioica; Native Elder, habit of Sambucus, specimens of which I sent to England per "Kangaroo," Clerodendron sp., a small tree 12-18 feet high, in fruit; Senecio sp., a tall herbaceous plant, in low swampy spots. The forests near the river are at this period altogether unproductive of any botanical subject for the collector. They abound with an abundance of the white cockatoo and a few flying squirrels.
1817 April 8th. Tuesday Morning. We sent our men and carts forward westerly to the depot at Springwood, a distance of about 12 miles in the mountains, and were ourselves in the fullest [p176] hopes of overtaking them at that resting place in the evening. Mr. Evans and self were detained the whole of the day waiting the arrival of Mr. Oxley.
1817 April 9th. Wednesday. Frosty: atmosphere fresh and sharp. Mr. Oxley had not arrived to join us and aware that we were one day behind our carts, we left directions with the man at the ford to inform Mr. Oxley we would wait one day for him at the second day's halting post--at the 28th mile mark--and commenced our route from Emu Plains about ten o'clock. The road to the foot of the mountains is through the open wooded flat called Emu Plains, so named probably from numbers of those birds having been found here at the formation of the colony, and when the country had been cleared and opened this far inland. The timber is small and consists of the Eucalypti observed about Parramatta. The ascent from the plains is very gentle, leading through fine avenues of trees of tolerable size formed by the new road which is of easy and slightly curved form and of convenient width.
About one o'clock we passed the depot at Springwood, which is remarkable for the good grassy pasturage and lofty handsome timber with which this resting place is surrounded. Eucalyptus robusta (white or swamp mahogany) and E. resinifera; (red mahogany), and Casuarina torulosa (River Oak), are predominant, with another species of Eucalyptus called by the colonists "Stringy Bark." Our carts had left this depot early this morning for the next stage, where we were all to meet at night. About 3 miles onward there is an obvious change in soil and in the appearance of the timber, the former being barren and rocky and the latter becoming stunted and diminutive. In these sterile tracts many of the plants common about Sydney and Parramatta appear to very fine effect. Among them I observed a species of Podolobium [Oxylobium] in pod, it appears distinct from P. trilobatum in the formation of the lateral lobes of the foliage, which are entire as well as bifurcated and spinous.
Near the 18th mile mark, is an open and extremely bleak and barren part near the road side. Upon a small eminence of rugged ascent stands a pile of stones supposed to have been erected by the indefatigable and persevering botanist Mr. George Caley, and suspected to be his farthermost advancement westward in a grand botanical excursion [p177] which he had undertaken with a view of crossing the mountains. His Excellency in passing this place on his route to Bathurst in the year 1815 called it Caley's Repulse. The country is now very rugged and mountainous, and the road difficult, which in one place is formed by means of a wooden bridge over a gully, reflecting great credit upon the persons to whom its formation was entrusted by His Excellency for their judgment and perseverance in this difficult undertaking. Near the 20th. mile is an extensive flat or plain, which His Excellency in the journey above referred to, has called the King's Table Land. This exposed situation is covered with the shrub Eucalyptus microphylla [= Eucalyptus stellulata], forming thick brushes of underwood. This plain is considered as the summit of the western mountains, and from them a very extensive panoramic view presents itself of the country around us. On the S.W. side of the plain the mountain terminates in abrupt precipices of very considerable depth, at the bottom of which is seen a glen or ravine which the Governor has termed the Prince Regent's Glen. The length of this picturesque and remarkable tract of country is estimated at 24 miles.
Onward two miles we arrived at dusk at a wooden house, erected originally as a store for the preservation of provisions for the use of the men working on the road, and now converted into an half-way house, being 28 miles from Emu Ford. Our people had already arrived there and had kindled a large fire. The soil is now for the most part of a sandy grit, compounded of fragments of iron and sand-stone, in which, with a little peat, the finest specimens of Australian botany flourish.
I observed specimens of Persoonia with filiform leaves, agreeing in specific character with P. microcarpa. Stylidium setaceum, a very delicate plant, abundant on the wayside. On bare rocks Chloranthus stoechadis is very luxuriantly in flower. Some shrubs of the habit of Boronia, with pinnate and ternate leaves, grew very abundant on the roadside near the 26th mile mark: they were, however, not in flower. This evening we were joined by Mr. Oxley at our resting place at the 28th mile mark. Some boggy slopes at the back of our Wooden House have been called Lewis's or Jamieson's Plains.
1817 April 10th. Thursday. Mr. Oxley ascertained by the assistance of the barometer, which he had brought with him, the height of the spot where we halted the last evening to be 2,984 feet and [p178] from the circumstance of King's Table Land being several feet higher we calculated it to be upwards of 3,000 ft. above the level of the sea. We availed ourselves of the clearness of the morning and freshness of the atmosphere, and while our people were loading the carts walked onward to the 33rd. mile, where, at the top of a hill, an opening presents to us a grand romantic expanse of country; mountains running beyond mountains to the very verge of the horizon, striking the beholder with admiration and astonishment. We have here a S.W. view of the Prince Regent's Glen. On account of the circular form in which the nearest or fore ground below us is disposed the Governor in his tour was induced to call it Pitt's Amphitheatre.
We halted here until our people with our carts came up to us. In taking a general view of the botany of the country around, which is thickly wooded with brush and small diminutive timber of Eucalypti, there appeared the following among the many plants very frequent in the environs of Sydney. Platylobium nova sp., with the habit of P. parviflorum, the leaves however are ovate, netted and silky beneath. The Boronia seen yesterday is very abundant in the sterile sands. Stylidium setaceum, with Arethusa sp., similar to the Arethusa figured in the last collection, were very fine in flower among the rocky grassy spots on the roadside. We did not notice Lambertia formosa, which is very frequent on the Blue Mountains, farther westward than about the 32nd mile mark. Continuing our route on the new road which runs on the main edge of the mountains and forms one side of the Prince Regent's Glen, we arrived at an open but low bushy tract of country, which His Excellency had named Hounslow Heath, although it is frequently termed Blackheath. Our carts and people were far behind us, occasioned by the rugged uneven state of the country. We therefore were obliged to halt for the day on this heath near the 41st mile mark. The water here is far from being good, it is the drainage of the low black peats which constitute the soil of the slopes from the heath. I furnished myself with specimens of a species of Grevillea, remarkable for the beauty of its flowers and the laciniated spinous habit of its foliage, which I have termed G. acanthifolia: a species of Pimelea, differing from P. glauca in having long filaments supporting the anthers, as in P. filamentosa, is likewise abundant.
[p179] 1817 April 11th. Friday. Cloudy morning. Proceeding forward on our journey the road continued for the space of 9 miles on the main range, where it abruptly terminates in almost a perpendicular precipice, down which a tolerably easy and practicable road has been formed, which has been called by the Governor Cox's Pass, and through all its windings cannot be less than ¾ of a mile. By admeasurement this abrupt termination of the mountains westerly proved to be 676 feet above the valley below it, which His Excellency has termed the Vale of Clwydd, from its resemblance and local situation being surrounded by mountains like that in North Wales. The retrospect view from the vale of the overhanging mountain is exceedingly grand and magnificent. At this point of view is observed the termination of a ridge that has the appearance of a very lofty distant hill, which the Governor has called Mount York, and which Mr. Oxley found by his barometer to be elevated above the level of the sea 3218 feet.
The Vale of Clwydd although boggy in some places has a rich soil, producing good grass, and in other respects is excellent pastureland. Here we observed the very remarkable change of country, differing from that on the mountains both in the vegetable productions and the nature of the soil. Banksia serrata ceases to exist farther west than the summit of Mount York, and B. compar succeeds it throughout the vale, of stubby arborescent growth in flower and fruit. This species of Banksia is perhaps only a variety of B. integrifolia. Eucalyptus Perfoliata (H.K.) is very frequent, and another species with some leaves cordate and sessile and others lanceolate and inserted on a petiole. Podolepis acuminata: Hibbertia cuneata, with large yellow flowers: Campanula sp., with large blue flowers and undulate bristly leaves: a species of Buchnera with yellow flowers: Helichrysum sp., allied to H. bracteatum, are all now very common plants, from Cox's Pass westerly. The rocks and shaded humid situations in the Pass afforded me specimens and seeds of Stylidium longifolium. A dwarf syngenesious shrub, Baccharis arguta is in seed: gathered seeds of Epacris spicata from plants growing in tufts in shaded situations. Acrostichum sp., having a sterile frond, a plant observed in glens near Botany Bay, is found here in great abundance on these shaded rocks with a species of Polypodium [Polypody Fern], with glossy [p180] laciniated coriaceous fronds. In Cox's Pass there is a kind of indurated pipeclay in lamina that might be turned to some ornamental or useful purpose by the sculptor. Some specimens which we collected of it worked as easily as chalk. Our people converted them into oil stones. We are now about 80 English miles from Sydney.
The mile-mark numbers begin afresh from the Pass to Bathurst. Passing through the Vale for about 5 miles we arrived at Cox's River, which is formed by a rivulet of fine water running to the eastward over a very stony bottom, and uniting itself with another stream at the western extremity of the vale, and from thence the junction takes its course through the Prince Regent's Glen and empties itself into the Nepean River. At this river we first observed granite, of which its bed is composed. Grevillea acanthifolia and G. asplenifolia, frequent on the margins of creeks on the eastern coast, grow on the banks of this river in the greatest luxuriance. Here is a depôt and store house under the charge of a corporal and 2 privates. We pitched our tent on the right bank of the river and halted for the night. Our barometer informed us that we had descended about 430 feet from the base of Mount York. In the Vale of Clwydd I gathered seeds and specimens of a shrubby Aster the flowers of which are of a bluish white colour.
1817 April 12th. Saturday. Ascending from the river we continued our route westerly over a range of hills of difficult and fatiguing descent, which the Governor has named Clarence's Hilly Range, generally open forest land and tolerably good for grazing. The plants on this hilly district appear to differ very little from those before observed. Daviesia latifolia, a shrub first discovered in Van Diemen's Land is the most prevalent plant: a remarkable shrub, evidently from its distinct stipulae one of the Rubiaceae, is by no means rare; it is, however, not in flower at this time. Some large specimens of timber of the Eucalypti, which from the character of the capsule appear to be of the genus Eudesmia, are frequent. About 2 o'clock we arrived at the Fish River, on the western side of Clarence's Hilly Range, a stage of 16 miles--very severe and oppressive to our horses, the whole being sharp lofty hills and narrow boggy valleys, alternately. In one of the deep vales I gathered specimens of a species of Arenaria, with long white flowers and rigid sharp leaves: a species of [p181] Epilobium, agreeing in all its characters with E. angustifolium, is very frequent.
About 3 miles to the westward of Cox's River three remarkable hills connected together present themselves. The Governor desirous of commemorating the names of the three first individuals who penetrated thus far to the westward has called them Mount BlaxIand, Wentworth's Sugar Loaf, and Lawson's Sugar Loaf. Acacia melanoxylon [Blackwood of N.S.W.], a native of Van Diemen's Land, is to be seen occasionally here. It is arborescent, and is remarkable for the singular character of its seed being attached to the interior of the legumen by a coloured plicated umbilical cord. We had no time to examine the nature of the wood, the heart of which is said to be black. We pitched our tent for the night on the right bank of the Fish River. On the banks of this river, which, like Cox's River, has a stony bed, I gathered seeds of a Cnicus with laciniated leaves and a long tap or fusiform root, and seeds of a Limnanthemum smaller than Helichrysum bracteatum. Grevillea cinerea is very frequent on the rocky banks of the river in situations that have been recently inundated. Our people with their hooks caught some fish of about 2½ or 3 lbs. weight, which we found had a very fine flavour. It has a strong dorsal fin and appears to belong to the Perca (Perch) family.[*] Mr. Oxley ascertained by the barometer that the Fish River is 409 feet above Cox's River, and about 2570 feet above the sea level.
[* The native perch of the inland rivers is named the " Australian Bass " to distinguish it from the estuary perch (Percalates colonorum) from which species it seems to have evolved, and because it closely resembles the "Large Mouth Bass" of North America.]
1817 April 13th. Sunday. The frost of the last night severe. Proceeding forward, having previously forded the Fish River, the country continues uneven and hilly, covered with small timber, and generally speaking is good pasturage in an open forest land. About 8 miles west of the Fish River is a fine spacious valley running N.W. and S.E., bounded by hills of easy ascent and thinly covered with timber. This vale, which the Governor has called Sidmouth Valley, is an exceeding fine and rich grassy spot. Lotus major [Bird's foot Trefoil], and Bellis sp. (or Cotula), with some grasses, is here in the greatest strength and luxuriance, all indicative of the excellence of the soil. In some wet boggy situations I observed a species of Lythrum, [p182] in habit and character agreeing with L. salicaria [Purple Loosestrife] of Britain, but differing in the flower not being dodecandrous. Onward, diminutive forest lands prevail, beyond which are open rising grounds and fine grassy plains. Banksia compar, Acacia melanoxylon, with Eucalyptus perjoliata, E. globulus etc., are very frequent. Near the 32nd mile mark from Cox's River is a small but exceedingly sterile patch of land where I gathered specimens of Aster speciosus, a fine shrubby plant with azure flowers: seeds and specimens of Helichrysum albicans; Dianella speciosa [Broadleaved Flax Lily], a plant with elongated foliaceous stems, supporting several blue flowers. At a small distance from the Fish River a very remarkable mountain attracts the notice of the traveller on account of the large stone or rock with which it is crowned. This singular mountain has been called by the Governor, Mount Evans. Our cart-horses and oxen being much fatigued with the labours of this day, we stopped and pitched our tent on the banks of a creek near the 34th mile mark from Cox's Pass.
1817 April 14th. Monday. Anxious to reach the settlement on Bathurst Plains early in the day we rode forward with all possible despatch, leaving our carts and people to advance more leisurely. The country exhibits a continuation of fine open grazing lands of the same character in point of timber as was observed yesterday. At five miles distant from our last night's encampment we arrived at Campbell River, which is at this period a moderate stream, although in dry seasons it has been observed to be only a chain of small waterpools. We forded this river (the bridge having been carried away by the late floods) and continued for several miles over a gentle rising hilly sheep country with grassy valleys until the extensive plains of Bathurst opened to the view. A short distance south from the line of road which crosses the Campbell River is a fine rich tract of land called Mitchell's Plains. Near the Fish River, which forms a junction with the Campbell River some miles north of the road, are two very fertile plains, the one called O'Connell's Plains, and the other Macquarie's Plain, both said to be of very considerable extent. The botany has the same appearance as observed yesterday. A species of Indigofera, with short obovate pinnated leaves, being the prevailing shrub.
The plains around the settlement at Bathurst are a clear [p183] and open tract of campaign country bounded by gentle hills of easy ascent, thinly wooded, and well watered by the Macquarie River, which winds through them. The course can be easily traced by the particular verdure of the Casuarinae (swamp oaks) on its banks, which in fact are the only trees throughout the extent of the plain, a circumstance which will be the more severely felt as the settlement increases in population, firewood being brought in bullock carts from the considerable distance of 5 or 6 miles.
At about 2 o'clock p.m. we arrived at the Flagstaff on the settlement, erected by order of the Governor when His Excellency visited these plains in May, 1815. A superintendent's house, public kitchen, and temporary store have been erected for the accommodation of the residents there. The site intended for the town of Bathurst, by observation, taken on the spot, is situated in lat. 33°24'30" S., and long. 149°1745" E. of Greenwich, being also about 27½ north of Sydney and 94 west of it, bearing W. 20°30' N. 83 geographical miles--or 90½ statute miles--the measured road from Sydney to Bathurst being 140 miles or thereabouts. Somewhat more than a mile north of the road 5 miles west of Campbell River, near the Macquarie River, is a singular stone of large dimensions. It is a fine piece of quartz and is usually termed the " White Rock."[*]
[* The name is now given to the locality.]
1817 April 15th. Tuesday. Aware that our stay at Bathurst would be short, and anxious to take a general view of the botany of these extensive plains, I started in a south-westerly direction over the hills, but found it very inconsiderable being confined to a few specimens. Pimelea sp., allied to P. glauca, but differing in having long filaments supporting the anthers, is exceedingly common, accompanying the two syngenesious plants on the plains. Gnaphalium sp., suffruticose, leaves ovate, lanceolate, glandulose, hairy. G. ericaefolium, a small suffruticose plant. On the hills and forest lands a species of Acacia with oblong-spathulate leaves, are very frequent, as are now seeds of the Indigofera seen yesterday. Winding round the plain I intersected the River Macquarie about 5 miles below the settlement and determined to trace it up, with a view of detecting any plants that grow on its immediate banks, which are as follows:--Goodenia sp., with large yellow flowers and laciniate leaves: Senecio sp., allied to [p184] S. quadridentatus of Labillardière (Erechthites quadridentata), but the flosculae appear to be 5-toothed: Senecio sp., leaves linear-lanceolate, serrated: Helichrysum alatum [=Ammobium alatum] leaves radical, spathulate, stem alated. A species of Gnaphalium, frequent on the eastern coast in rich soils, is likewise abundant here. On a lofty rocky hill called Mount Pleasant I gathered a species of Aster. I likewise observed a species of Dodonae, with narrow lanceolate crenulate leaves, in fruit. Near the river that species of Eucalyptus usually denominated Blue Gum is now in flower. I gathered specimens of it. The banks are covered with Rubus sp., same as near Parramatta and Urtica dioica. I gathered seeds of a Dianella.
In this day's excursion I had an opportunity of observing the general character of the soil. The hills are covered with a sandy quartzose grit and fragments of stone that have evidently undergone fusion, while that on the lower lands and more especially on the banks of the river is very rich and black and of a considerable depth, formed of decayed vegetable matter, the depositions of floods that have accumulated from one period to another. The whole plain may be termed a good cattle ground, although the sandy light aspect of its surface, and particularly that of the most elevated grounds, conveys no very flattering ideas of its becoming a grain country of any consideration. Returned at sunset to the settlement having passed over about 18 miles in a circuitous route.
1817 April 16th. Wednesday. A drenching rain set in from N.W. early in the afternoon with thunder and lightning, which continued all the evening.
1817 April 17th. Thursday. Much rain fell during the last night which continued this morning. Confined indoors.
1817 April 18th. Friday. Being recommended to make an excursion to some brushy spots north of the Macquarie River I crossed over to the north side in order to visit the remarkable sterile scrubby tract called Winbourne Dale, bearing N.E. by E. for several miles, under a lofty range of mountains running nearly east and west. Having passed over about 5 miles of open rising grassy country I came to a watercourse termed Winbourne Dale creek, which after many windings empties itself into the Macquarie River about 20 miles below the settlement. Although not above 12 feet wide it was deep[p185] and the current very strong, occasioned by the late very heavy rains. Finding it impossible to pass this creek and that the object in view and the plans laid down in the morning were defeated, I followed the creek down about 3 miles, in which space it had received 2 or 3 minor streamlets from the northern hills. Arundo phragmites is common on its banks. A species of Veronica with terminal spikes, leaves opposite, lanceolate and serrated, is likewise abundant; it is in capsule and furnished me with seeds.
Podolepis rugata is frequent on the more elevated grassy grounds. The Buchnera with yellow flowers is now in seed. These fine pasture lands are for the most part unprofitable to the botanical collector.
1817 April 19th. Saturday. The unsettled state of the weather had detained us longer than we expected at Bathurst but conceiving the waters to have abated sufficiently to allow our pack-horses to proceed forward to the Lachlan River we sent five of them from Bathurst this morning laden with provisions, and luggage, intending to follow them ourselves to-morrow. A species of Xerotes with leaves round and filiform. and an erect spreading panicle I observed among the grass on the plains. Near the settlement a dwarf species of Eryngium, much allied to E. vesiculosum (Labillardière), is common in patches. It is not in flower. It appears from Mr. Oxley's observations made by means of the barometer that Bathurst is 558 feet lower than the Fish River, and about 2,000 feet above the sea level. The nature of the soil of the plains is seen on the bank of a ditch dug round the Government Domain. The surface is loam, below sandy, resting on a bed of arenaceous marl.
1817 April 20th. Sunday. We left the settlement this morning and proceeded on our journey westerly to the depôt at the Lachlan River. From the Plains we entered a valley, termed Queen Charlotte's Vale, of considerable length, and at this period very boggy, occasioned by the late heavy rains. The risings or ascents of the hills by which it is bounded were very soft and rotten, rendering the travelling very difficult and distressing to our burdened horses. In several places our saddle [p186] horses sunk up to their girths and hence it became necessary to dismount and lead them. A considerable portion of sand forms a component part of the soil of the hills which resting on a bed of clay is sufficient to retain the humidity near the surface. The herbage of these hills is a grass (Bromus) interspersed with Gnaphalium cricaefolium (Everlasting), and with Lotus major [Greater Bird's foot Trefoil] sparingly, all which plants are likewise abundant in the richer valleys.
Daviesia latifolia [Bitter leaf Bush] continues very abundant on the rising ground. In the wet bays in the valley I observed an Erodium allied to E. hymenoides [Heron's Bill], with leaves ternate, flowers blue.
We halted for the night at the usual resting place, 18 miles from Bathurst, near the extremity of the valley. Our people with the pack horses had arrived some hours before, and had pitched the tent. Eucalyptus cornuta, rising about 20 feet, with obovate leaves, at this period is just expanding its flowers on the sides of the hills.
1817 April 21st. Monday. Fine weather. Resuming our journey about 8 o'clock, the road continues over a hilly country, in many places boggy, and heavy travelling for the horses. Among the brush or under shrub with which the hills are covered I discovered a singular species of Veronica, with glaucous leaves. A papilionaceous shrub allied to Oxylobium, with cordate villous leaves was in great abundance. Of the timber that species of Eucalyptus usually termed "Stringy Bark" with others common on the Eastern Coast, are common on the hills, and although fine lofty trees were apparently generally hollow and decayed at their base. The higher lands, which are stony, are nevertheless tolerable good grazing tracts. We stopped for the evening at the foot of a hill near a water hole, having travelled about 15 miles from our last night's encampment and about 321 miles from Bathurst. On the hill, which is covered with rugged fragments of granite, I saw the shrub of the order Rubiaceae which I noticed on Clarence's Hilly Range, and on its summit Banksia compar [= B. integrifolia] is very strong and abundant. It however ceases to exist beyond this hill westerly. On our left hand two remarkable points are to be observed. The one called Mount Antill, in honour of Major Antill (Major of Brigade of the 46th Regt.), and Mehan's Sugarloaf [p187] as a compliment to Mr. James Mehan, Deputy-Surveyor-General in New South Wales.
1817 April 22nd. Tuesday. The frosts of the last night considerable. Water standing in our vessels throughout the night was covered with ice. A strong rime on all vegetation. Leaving our last night's halting place we continued our route over lands slightly elevated and grassy, thickly wooded with timber, Eucalyptus (Blue Gum) chiefly. In thickly brushy spots Daviesia latifolia prevails. The soil is a red sandy loam which was here and there thrown up by the roots of fallen trees. Throughout the whole of this day's journey there appeared an uniformity in the route observed, being exactly the same as seen yesterday. About noon we passed a wet grassy valley, from which Mount Lachlan bore northerly about 3 miles. Its summit appears very sterile having on it a few stunted trees. Ascending a hill, we had a noble view of a vast expanse of country to the westward, alternately hill and valley. Descending the eminence to the valley below, we climbed to the top of Mount Molle (so named in honour of a late Lieut-Governor), from thence the country already observed appeared to better advantage. Among the remarkable points noticed, Mount Lewin and Jamieson's Table Land were not the least conspicuous. In rocky fissures on Mount Molle I observed a small succulent plant of the genus Sedum. Descending the western side of the Mount (Molle) into a very rich and fertile valley, well watered by a running stream in a creek, we halted for the night. Among the plants seen here, the following are the most remarkable for the luxuriance of their growth. Lotus sp., suffruticose, allied to L. australis, flowers large and almost white. Lotus major with Sonchus oleraceus are very abundant also Linum usitatissimum. At a remarkable cascade near Mount Lachlan on the humid rocks is a slender shrub of the class Syngenesia, and is perhaps a Cacalia, leaves linear, which, with its branches, are smooth. Our dogs in chasing some kangaroo killed a large forest buck. Our journey this day was 16 miles. Afternoon fine, a slight incrustation of ice was on the water left in the pots at night.
1817 April 23rd. Wednesday. Crossing the creek we resumed our journey up a fine open forest, very little encumbered with timber, of a reddish loamy rich soil, and thickly clothed with grass. This has been termed Warwick Plains. Observed westerly, [p188] on some elevated grounds a brushwood presents itself, the timber is closer, and the view much circumscribed. I had often regretted that Southern Australia affords so very few parasitical plants, which in South America are so extremely beautiful. I this day observed a cluster of foliage hanging from a moderate sized Eucalyptus, having the appearance of young leaves that had been nipped by severe frost. It, however, proves to be a species of Loranthus, in good health but not in flower or fruit. In a chain of ponds, on the margin of which we travelled a considerable distance, I observed Ornithorhynchus paradoxus or water mole occasionally rising to the surface of the water for respiration and in an instant disappearing. Crossing these ponds at a rocky creek the country becomes again brushy and barren. I gathered specimens of the following among others of less moment in these scrubby tracts.
Grevillea sp., allied to G. Phyllicoides of the eastern coast, a fine flowering shrub of low stature. Bursaria sp. larger in all its points than B. spinosa (Cav.), young branches without thorns. Pullenaea ericaefolia (Dwarf Pultenaea), a handsome shrub. Hibbertia sp., discovered before, near Cox's Pass. Acacia obliqua (Persoon), a shrub about 3 feet high. Descending to the creek called Limestone Creek we halted and encamped on the opposite bank about 2 o'clock. I availed myself of the fineness of the day and the early hour and traced the creek through its various windings about a mile. Metrosideros saligna was fine in flower in the channel of the watercourse, accompanied by a new species of Crolon with cordate 3 lobed leaves which I have termed C. acerifolius, and Cystopteris, [Bladder Fern]. Ascending from the creek upon the rugged Limestone rocks I discovered a tree of very stunted growth forming a stem of about 30 inches in diameter or about 7½ feet circumference, which we suspected to be Sterculia. The same plant was shown us in June 1815, growing in the Palace Gardens at St. Paul, where it had grown to the height Of 30 feet but had not flowered. From the best information we could obtain, and that from a Colonel in the Portuguese Service (an Englishman lately deceased), I learned that the plant had been brought from New Holland with others by Captain Woodriffe (not Witherope), of the "Calcutta," and they were left at Rio de Janeiro on her passage to England in 1804. From Rio they were [p189] transmitted to St. Paul, and they were planted by the Colonel himself in the Conde de Palmas Garden in that city.
The trees on these rocks have no appearance of flowers or fruit. The habit and shapes of foliage in a seedling plant are very different from those of an old tree. Upon seeing some young plants with palmated leaves (which they lose by age) I now recollected having seen this Sterculia in some gardens about London and there considered a Crolon. In shaded damp situations I gathered specimens of some ferns viz: A crostichum sp., with the habit of an A dianium, another species with laciniated glandulose fronds, and a Pteris with simple fronds of slender habit. The Bursaria above referred to is the most common shrublet of these rocks, and a Clematis, before seen, is observed twining itself among the large stones and over the hanging brows of precipices (not in flower). It is a subject of regret that these limestone rocks are so far distant from the habitation of man as to be of no use to him. We are now 63 miles westerly of Bathurst. By way of experiment we produced some excellent lime by calcination:
1817 April 24th. Thursday. We continued our journey in good time this morning over a fine, rich, grassy tract of country, which, however, has at this period rather a bare and naked aspect, having been fired by natives. Passing the burnt grass and entering thick wooded and high grassy lands we pursued our road, evidently upon the descent, until we came to a chain of ponds confined in a long winding deep gully and almost dry. Following these waterholes about 3 miles we came to a rocky hollow containing water, where we halted and pitched the tent. The soil throughout this day's journey is good and rich, but with not the least variation in the botany. The country abounds with emu and kangaroo, of the latter our dogs killed a fine doe. The emu, however, were too swift to be taken by dogs. Our journey to-day has been 13 miles.
1817 April 25th. Friday. The land westerly from the rocky creek for the space of 6 miles is a continuance of rich forest country abounding in grass. From the summits of a rocky [hill] you had an extensive landscape of the Western country. A clear plain, free from timber, called Oxley's Plains, bear a few miles to the southward and westward of us. We had no difficulty in tracing the course of the Lachlan westerly, by the darkness of the verdure of the timber on its banks. This [p190] hill is covered with large fragments of fine granite. The Sterculia seen at Limestone Creek is on this eminence very common, but without signs of flower or fruit. From a large tree of this genus--at the base of the hill--that had been cut by a hatchet by way of a mark, I gathered some resinous gum which had oozed out from beneath the bark. It was whitish and of the taste of gum arabic. Continuing on the descent for about 6 miles due west, over a fine grassy forest land, the soil of which is a red loam, rather sandy, we made the right bank of the Lachlan River about 2 o'clock p.m. Tracing the river down its banks about 5 miles we arrived at the depo^t where the people and horses who form the expedition had been waiting our arrival some weeks. Its banks are very high and clothed with lofty timber of a species of Eucalyptus, commonly denominated by the colonists Black-butted Gum,[*] inclining inward so as to form in some places a kind of arch with the heads of the trees of the same species on the opposite bank. The flats on the lower grounds near the banks are exceedingly rich and excellent for every purpose of agriculture, with this exception that they are liable to inundation. The river had swollen to a very considerable height, and had previous to our arrival fallen 17 feet, still retaining a considerable fresh or flood above its usual level and a strong current.
Our people reported to us that a troop of natives were on the opposite bank. We immediately went down to the water's edge and beckoned to them to come over to us, and as an inducement offered them some meat. Thus tempted, they swam over, and we all went up to the higher grounds on which the depo^t was built. They were 13 in number, all males of different ages, from beardless youth to well advanced manhood, and their general outward appearance seemed to differ but little from those of Sydney. Their hair the same, but their beards are suffered to grow very long. Their bodies are regularly tattooed, particularly the breast and shoulders, which are strongly tubercled in a kind of systernatical diagonal style. Like those of the Eastern coast they perforate the cartilage of the nose, but I did not see any stick or reed worn through it. Their dress is simply a grass network, forming a cover to the head, and a belt of the same network fastened or tied round their loins, in which[p191] they have their "mogo," or stone hatchet, waddies, etc.
One or two had a mantle of the skin of the kangaroo-rat, sewed together with sinews of the leg, which reached from the shoulders to the middle of the back. Independent of this they were perfectly naked. They do not use the wamera in throwing their spears, which are made of a very hard wood and not of the Xanthorrhoea arborea as on the eastern coast. Their spears have lateral barbs, the one above the other, the whole is indurated by fire and is a most dangerous weapon. Although they swam across the river, in which they had to contend with a strong current, they had brought fire in their hands, and much time did not elapse before we could perceive the smoke from it issuing from the centre of the group in which they had formed themselves for mutual warmth. Our thermometer stood at 56° about this period.
By way of ornament they wore kangaroo teeth in their ears and cockatoo feathers in their hair. Those of them who were young men had their beards divided into three divisions and formed into plaited tails. Their language being very different from that of our Eastern Coast natives, we obtained from them the names for several things, particularly the parts of the body. I presented one of them with an English halfpenny having a hole drilled through it. It was, however, returned to me with clear signs that a piece of kangaroo flesh would be more acceptable. In fact they appear to appreciate the value of nothing so much as provisions, particularly flesh, and our iron hatchets, which would enable them to procure it much better and with more facility than those made of black jade. They were acquainted with fire-arms, and had (in an unguarded moment on the part of the soldiers stationed at the depo^t) run off with two muskets. The subsequent circumstances connected with this theft they still appear to rue! In an affair between the soldiers and these natives with a view of recovering the stolen muskets, a poor harmless lad forfeited his existence. Having abundance of kangaroo, we presented them with the half of a large buck, which was gratefully received, and with which they returned to their friends on the opposite side of the river. I gathered specimens of a Myoporum, smaller than M. ellipticum.
1817 April 26th. Saturday. Having previously repapered my specimens and hung them out to dry, accompanied by a soldier (armed) I made an excursion down the river a few miles below the [p192] depôt. Croton acerifolius, Rubus sp., and Urtica dioica are very abundant on its immediate bank. The stony rising grounds abound with a plant of the Asperifoliae, allied to Lithospermum dichotomum. A dwarf shrub of the Epacridaceae, perhaps a Leucopogon, with a tomentose white calyx, and drupe, is now very fine in flower. A delicate species of Pullenaea microphylla, with small cuneated truncated leaves and axillary solitary flowers is found growing with a shrub advancing to the flowering state, which I suspect is Daviesia mimosoides of Hortus Kewensis. I likewise got here a specimen of an Aster with oblong crowded leaves, which are curved at the apex, flowers white. The summits of the hills are covered with the tree which is termed Pine by our people. It is in fruit, and proves to be a species of Callitris and may be the species termed C. australis by Persoon, and is said to be found on the north side of Port Jackson Harbour. It is from 30 to 70 feet high, particularly on the flats. I gathered specimens of a very singular species of Acacia, A. erythrocephala, = A. aspera with linear-lanceolate leaves. I discovered another shrub of the same genus, A. armata, with the flowers in axillary spikes. On the low flats near the river I discovered a species of Dalea with weak trailing stems; a species of Aster with oblong cuneated leaves. The smoke rising above the trees from the left bank of the river indicated the presence of natives.
1817 April 27th. Sunday. It having been arranged by Mr. Oxley that our two boats (that had been built here and intended as an assistance to us in carrying the more heavy provisions of flour and pork on the river) should proceed down the stream this morning as far as the creek where Mr. Evans, who first discovered the Lachlan, had terminated his journey, having been ferried over by the boats, I visited the rocky hills on the left bank in company with C. Fraser of the 46th Regt., who had been sent as one of our party, in order to form a separate collection of seeds and specimens for Earl Bathurst. We were both well armed in case of attack from the natives. Fraser had been before on these hills, in his pursuits of the Flora (to which he is very much attached) during the period of time he had been at this depôt, viz: about one month. Having crossed the grassy flats near the River we ascended the rugged stony hills, where I found the following interesting plants.
[p193] Pimelea linifolia, scarcely in flower, a slender gigantic shrub 5 or 6 feet high. Epacridea,: Leucopogon sp., differing from the species I discovered yesterday in having a smoother calyx. Campanula sp., or a var. of C. gracilis.
Bossiaea sp., with the habit and appearance of B. microphylla.
Hibbertia sp., allied to H. ovata, leaves sharper and lanceolate, with a minute asperity, as in H. ovata. The flowers are decandrous. Aster sp., herbaceous, flowers blue, leaves filiform. Aster echinatus, a shrub with linear leaves glandularly echinated on the upper surface . . . flowers white. Acacia obliqua is very common on these sterile hills. Persoonia sericea, with leaves oblong, cuneated, which, with fruit and branches, are covered with silky hairs. Epacrideae: a shrub of same genus as above, flowers red. I likewise discovered a new Acacia, allied to A. albiflora, the icaves are triangular, and the head of flowers is rounded; and another species with elongated oblong leaves, attenuated at base, flowers in axillary spikes.
Gompholobium latifolium is frequent with the above. In the rich flats, upon my return to the boat, I gathered some grasses, among which is a Phleum and in low inundated situations a singular dwarf plant, which I could not detect in flower, it appears to be Adiantum and is remarkable for its 4-lobed fronds.
"the site of the depot is in lat. 33°39'48" S., and Long. 148°39' E"
Marriott (Ida Lee), Ida. "Allan Cunningham." Early explorers in Australia,. London: Methuen & Co., 1925. p193. Print.
For this link to work you must have Google Earth installed.
Our boats being loaded with the Government Rations of flour and pork we sent them down the river with the intention of overtaking them to-morrow afternoon. By observation taken by Mr. Oxley the site of the depot is in lat. 33°39'48" S., and Long. 148°39' E. By barometrical observation it was ascertained that we were not above 650 feet above the level of the sea, and that we had descended from Bathurst Plains upwards of 1300 feet. This small elevation, contrasted with the great distance we were from the nearest point of the south-west coast, immediately suggested to us the great improbability of the Lachlan River running to the sea, and its soft muddy banks and general appearance and character of a periodical stream affording an outlet to the great body of rain falling on the Blue Mountains, seemed to coincide in the idea. When Mr. Evans first discovered it in June 1815, which was a dry season, he crossed it nearly dryshod on the trunk of a fallen Eucalyptus.
[p194] 1817 April 28th. Monday. Previous to my leaving the eastern coast I had provided myself with a quantity of peach stones of two qualities, some quince pips or seeds, and a few acorns, with an intention of committing a few of each to the earth at any remarkable situation where the soil was tolerably good and suitable for the growth of them. I sowed some of each at the depôt in the very rich soil on the bank.
This morning about 9 o'clock the following persons, who composed this grand Western Expedition, left the last human habitation westward in order to survey the river downwards and trace it to its supposed junction with the Macquarie, and the disemboguence of their union on the south-west coast:--Oxley Esqre. Surveyor-General; Mr. G. W. Evans Assist. do.; Charles Fraser of 46th Regt., as collector for Lord Bathurst; S. Parr, a boat builder; and seven persons as loaders of pack horses, and myself. Thirteen in all, with 14 horses and 2 boats.
We passed over the fertile flats, which have been inundated as we ascertained from the marks of flood on the timber, and stubble having been washed against the large Eucalypti, with which the banks are clothed. Travelling about 7 miles we arrived at a creek running in a serpentine form from the river in a north-easterly direction. As our baggage horses would not overtake us for some hours, we proposed to halt and pitch our tent on the opposite side of the creek for the night. The soil of the higher lands at a short distance from the river is of a stiff loam, and in some situations rocky and sterile, but the lower grounds are rich and covered with strong grass.
Between the depot and the creek, which Mr. Oxley had named Lewis's Creek, Lotus australis, Swainsona coronillaefolia, and a creeping Hedysarum are occasionally to be met with. The marsh mallow is very abundant, Callitris australis is now very common on the hills, although of no size or bulk. Casuarina stricta (usually called Swamp Oak) is likewise very fine and large on the muddy banks. By the assistance of our boats we conveyed our baggage over the creek, which although not above 12-10 feet wide is very deep, and swam over our horses. I took a walk on the rocky barren hills in the neighbourhood and discovered the following plants:--Grevillea sp., a beautiful shrub, with a calyx covered exteriorly with a ferruginous tomentum, and smooth and green in colour[p195] inside; Ajuga sp., with large blue flowers and much of the habit of A. pyramidalis; Phyllanthus sp., a low shrubby plant; another species with narrow, obtuse, cuneated leaves, revolute at the margins; Bidens sp.; Dodonaea cuneata, with cuneated leaves; and Astroloma humifusum, a trailing plant, is abundant in flower and fruit. We gathered on the hills some fine specimens of crystallized quartz, some fine crystals, and some dark specimens of granite. Mr. Oxley wrote to the Governor upon the subject of the river. Richard Lewis, a superintendent at Bathurst, who accompanied us to the creek which takes his name, returned to that settlement. Our people caught some fine large fish of the same kind as those before noticed.
1817 April 29th. Tuesday. Continued our journey westward on the right bank of the river and, travelling from point to point rather than follow the stream through all its abrupt windings, I found the plants to be nearly the same with little variation as those observed some days previously. The following are the specimens collected in this day's route:--A drooping melancholy shrub of the genus Stenochilus, which I have termed S. longifolius, now presents itself in brushy sterile tracks near the river. Gnaphalium sp., much allied to G. carnatum, is common among the grass; and Podolepis rugata, the peduncles of which near the insertion in the calyx are scaly. On the immediate bank of the river I gathered seeds and specimens of a species of Viola, with leaves on elongated pitioles; also a shrub of the order Rubiaceae, 4 feet high, branching, diffuse, leaves oblong, seeds covered with an arilla. Persoonia spathulata, discovered first on the S.W. coast, is now in fruit on the rocky hills. On ascending a rugged height covered with loose fragments of stones and hence rendered difficult of ascent, we had an extensive view of the western country commanded by such an eminence. The country appeared exceedingly low and flat with a few hills or ascents scattered on its surface. On this elevation I discovered a new species of Acacia, forming a small tree 25 feet high, the leaves are linear-lanceolate, and the flowers are in axillary spikes, which are cylindrical. It is much allied to A. longifolia, except in the shape of the foliage and their gray colour. From the circumstance of this tree being the wood of which the natives in the Western Country make their spears (which I have proved), and of which I shall state[p196] more particulars hereafter, I have called it A. doratoxylon. It is scarcely in a flowering state. Cupressus australis is common on these heights. Hovea sp., this is a slender shrub, frequent on the mount.
Mr. Oxley having taken the necessary bearings, we all descended to the river and traced it down about three miles, halting for the night a few miles short of our intended resting place at the creek where Mr. Evans terminated his journey westerly in June 1815. The river now began to show its true character. Our boat's people found it shoaly and narrow in some places, and in consequence of its numerous and very abrupt windings they did not overtake or arrive at the spot on the immediate bank of the river where we were encamped till a late hour. I gathered specimens on the flats of a fine species of Bromus, and these plains were covered with clumps of Acacia decurrens [Queen Wattle].
The rocky hills are covered with a twining shrub, a Bignonia but it was not in flower fit for examination. With it I observed a plant with the habit of an Aster, resembling A. argophyllus [= Olearia argophylla], but without that musty scent with which their leaves are furnished. Our people shot a long-necked water bird like a cormorant. Eucalyptus robusta or Brown Gum disappears, and chiefly Stringy Bark (Eucalyptus sp.) and Blue Gum prevail. A beautiful species of Acacia, a small tree with bipinnate leaves, and flowers in elongated spikes; the whole plant has a glaucous hue. In consequence of its beautiful appearance I have called it A. spectabilis [Mudgee Wattle].
1817 April 30th. Wednesday. Having sent our baggage horses forward and despatched our boats down the river directing them to stop at the creek that runs from the river on its right bank, we struck across the country a few miles, in order to examine some Callitris, said to be abundant on the lands distant from the river, which Mr. Evans had noticed on his tour before referred to. These Cypress trees we found of various sizes and dimensions from seedlings, generally growing in clumps, to lofty trees of about 60 feet, and about 3 feet in diameter at the base. It has been suggested that stems might be procured that would form good spars or booms, it is, however, much to be feared that in consequence of the many knots on its trunk or stem it would be found extremely brittle and short.
[p197] A species of Xerotes, with round filiform leaves, common on Bathurst Plains, is frequent among the grass. The standing waters abound with an Actinocarpus [Water star] remarkable for its capsule. Returning in a westerly direction we made the creek which has taken the name of Byrne's Creek [now Mandagery Creek], and we traced it up to its mouth at the river. Here I discovered a new plant of the liliaceous family of the genus Pancratium. The flowers are small, of a whitish flesh colour, varying to a bluish and light orange colour. They are when fresh, May or White-thorn scented. It is now in flower, and is viviparous, producing a small bulb instead of a capsule, which in time falls to the ground and taking root ensures the future offspring. It being a new species I have named it P. Macquaria [= Calostemma purpureum][*] in honour of His Excellency Lachlan Macquarie, Esqre., our worthy and much respected Governor, during whose arduous administration the colony of New South Wales has been enlarged and beautified in an eminent degree, and by whose meritorious and praiseworthy exertions the western part of the Continent has been laid open, as well to the labours of the industrious agriculturalist as to the no less laudable research of the unwearied naturalist. This species of Pancratium delights in a low damp situation, its bulbous roots were with some difficulty dug up, being so very deep in the rich black soil on the banks of the river. The woody lands are alternately grassy and bushy, with slight inundations.
[* The name Pancratium macquaria is only mentioned in the "Botanical Magazine," under Calostemma purpureum, at t. 2100, as a synonym of that plant.]
Near the river we fell in with a large and spacious lagoon of considerable length and breadth but not deep. On its surface were swimming great numbers of waterfowl, such as swan, duck, teal, which we fired at in vain. Such was the steepness and muddiness of Byrne's Creek that it became indispensably necessary to form a kind of sloping road for our horses to descend to the water. Our boats having carried over our horse-cargoes, we swam the animals over and pitched our tent on the bank.[*] About a mile down the creek, in shallow water, we saw a bark canoe, and the remains of small fires in the woods adjoining are indications that the natives had recently visited this part of the country.
[* Near Eugowra.]
1817 May 1st. Thursday. Mr. Evans having finished his[p198] surveys in 1815 at this creek on its right bank, Mr. Oxley commenced his labours in that department from the left bank down the river. As previously arranged, Mr. Evans accompanied by a person with the perambulator proceeded forward, taking the bearings of all remarkable points, windings and curvatures of the river, as he advanced, endeavouring to cut off any deep bight by stretching from angle to angle and steering as direct a course as the nature of the country would admit. About 2 o'clock in the afternoon we had penetrated about 10 miles, when it was deemed advisable to halt for the day. The latter part of this day's journey being difficult, on account of the lofty brome-grass with which the low lands near the river abound. In swamps, tracks, and low inundated spots, great abundance of a species of Lobelia was observed, of the habit of L. purpurascens, but larger, and not purple beneath the leaf. It is in flower and capsule. In such situations I gathered specimens of an Achyranthes, with flowers around a quadrangular stalk. Lythrum sp., before observed, much allied to L. salicaria, grows very strong, with all the preceding.
The higher grassy lands furnished me with seeds of Aster sp., with blue flowers and oblong spathulate leaves. In sterile brushy situations I detected the following plants. Pimelea sericea allied to P. curviflora; Cotula sp., much allied to Bellis, is in flower.
Bellis sp., a shrubby plant with cuneated 3-5 toothed leaves, whose flowers are ornamental and blue. The seeds of this plant are furnished with 2 small aristae which are minutely barbed. I gathered specimens in fruit of another species of Callitris, different from the species discovered in the country near Lachlan Depôt in having a larger round fruit, branchlets and leaves finer and of a glaucous hue, a tree of the same height as its congener.
Dodonaea cuneata and Acacia obliqua are frequent. Some small lagoons, supplied from the inundation of the river, prevented us from travelling always on its immediate banks. The direction of the stream at the commencement of our journey is southerly. This however is counterbalanced by its winding round to the north towards the close, making a true west course. The freshly cut bark from some of the large gum trees (Eucalyptus) informed us that the natives had recently passed by.
1817 May 2nd. Friday. We advanced westerly from our fires about 9 o'clock through grassy flats, passing to the left of a large winding lagoon, which from general appearances we had taken for the river, nor were some of us convinced otherwise until we found it terminated in a swamp covered with Arundo phragmites and other lofty grasses. Tracing the river down upwards of 10 miles, which had run somewhat northerly, we stopped for the day and pitched our tent.
On some barren rising ground I gathered specimens of a Xerotes, remarkable for its slender juncous leaves, from the angles of which membranceous threads are produced. A species of Saturcia is common in low lands; like other species of Ibis genus it has a mild aromatic penetrating taste, and is in common use as tea among our people. With the preceding, I gathered specimens of a weak herbaceous species of Justica. Some tolerable specimens of Callitris glauca that we passed in this day's route assumed much the habit of Pinus sylvestris. The timber is the Eucalyptus usually called Blue Gum. Near the river I collected the following grasses:--Panicum sp., a slender plant; a Cenchrus, a Phleum, and a species of Imperata, allied to Saccharum.
1817 May 3rd. Saturday. Leaving our last night's resting place and following the river southerly, the country we travelled over is occasionally grassy, wooded, and has the same flat character as that already passed. The soil at a small distance from the river is poor and barren and covered with brushwood. Callitris glauca is a much finer, handsomer tree than we have hitherto had, and, accompanied by Casuarina (swamp oak), approaches very near the river. We now find from experience that 10 miles is a fair day's journey, therefore having made good that distance we halted on the bank of the river, which ran nearly west.
A very considerable portion of this day's stage is through a barren tract of brushwood, presenting to us many plants frequently seen in similar situations, among which I distinguished the following new plants. Jasminum sp., leaves opposite and alternate, forming a scandent or reclining shrub. Scaevola sp., bearing fleshy drupes, one seeded. Acacia homalophylla, leaves lanceolate, flat and smooth, flowers axillary, a tree 25 feet high. Pittosporum sp., a new and slender shrub in fruit. Myoporum strictum, leaves lanceolate and stiff, flowers solitary and pendulous. Some parts of the[p200] river were extremely shoaly and narrow, and having numerous bends and obstructions of fallen timber its navigation was rendered extremely difficult.
1817 May 4th. Sunday. We had determined to rest ourselves and horses the whole of this day, and were the more particularly obliged so to do on account of the detention of our boats, occasioned by the difficulties of working them in the shallow windings choked up with decayed fallen trees, which it was found literally necessary to clear away in order to form a passage for the boats. The larger boat had unfortunately been stove by a sunken stump. Fearing to advance further after dark, and not knowing where we were, our boatmen had stopped the preceding evening about 4 miles at least short of our encampment. It was well advanced in the afternoon before they were able to drop down to that part of the river on the bank of which our tent was pitched. Hubbert, our boat-builder, soon repaired the damage sustained by the boat. About half a mile northward of our tent is a large lagoon forming a fine and spacious sheet of water, thickly clothed with gum trees on its margin, and abounding with swans, ducks, etc. I gathered seeds and specimens of Actinocarpus sp., growing in company with Potamogeton natans. In a little excursion I made westerly from the tent I discovered the following:--Tetrandria, a spreading twiggy small tree 10-20 feet high. Pentandria, a shrub with oblong narrow leaves. Myoporum sp., Pittosporum lanceolatum, duplicate seed. Gathered seeds of Acacia pendula, nova sp., a tree 25 feet high, with much the habit and growth of Salix babylonica, leaves simple, lanceolate, the whole tree has a gray hue; common on the low flats near the above mentioned lagoon. From the summit of a gentle rising hill we could just distinguish a very lofty range to the northward and eastward. A remarkable point on this range we have called Mount Sorrell, after the Lt. Governor of Van Diemen's Island. This hill is covered with a reddish slaty stone, and the soil is a light loam. Some large specimens of Cupressus australis were observed on it, with Casuarina macrocarpa, a new species, a tree about 30 feet high. Our hunters brought in a fine young buck kangaroo.
1817 May 5th. Monday. We departed from our last encampment about 9 o'clock, and having crossed a small creek which intersected our course, we ascended the gentle rising hill which I had[p201] visited yesterday. The view even on this eminence being much confined, Mr. Oxley took bearings of the most remarkable ranges of hills around it at a distance from the top of a lofty Callitris. Descending to the flats we were again deceived by a long chain of ponds or lagoons which we fell in with, but perceiving our mistake we crossed it in a dry situation and came to the banks of the Lachlan. Such was the confusion created by this mistake that we were all scattered and divided and taking different courses. Our people in the boats fired guns to inform us of their situation.
Calling to one another we were answered by strange voices, which left us in no doubt of natives being near us. It was a great point we should all join again, which at length we did, after some of us had passed over several miles on a cross-course, the labour of which might have been saved. Our people came up with seven or eight of the natives, who were clothed with mantles of skin reddened with a pigment from the river. There appeared not the most distant symptoms of hostility among them! They evidently had seen a horse before, and could pronounce some words of English, such as bread, and they had every appearance of having been with those at the Lachlan Depôt, from which we are now 54 miles west. From the columns of smoke ascending from the trees to which these harmless beings were advancing there is no doubt of their encampment being there situated, and it might be inferred that their gins or wives were there, from their evident objection to our people attempting to accompany them to their fires. The delay and loss of time occasioned by the above adventure had allowed our boatmen to work themselves through all the numerous windings of this intricate river and overtake us.
We all started again in a body, travelling immediately on the river bank about 4 miles, when we were stopped by a deep muddy creek connecting the river with the chain of ponds above alluded to. We passed this gully with considerable difficulty, being obliged to unload our horses. Accompanied by Mr. Oxley I went to an extensive open plain about half a mile N.W. of our course, which we found of very considerable extent. It is a flat that receives the inundations of the Lachlan; it is of a light loamy soil and at this time very damp and slimy, in consequence of the recent rain.
The following are the plants discovered on it:--Salsola sp., leaves linear, with the habit of a Mesembryanthemum. Mimulus sp., leaves oblong-ovate, peduncle filiform, one-flowered. Richea sp., agreeing with this genus in the plumose pappi with which the seeds are crowned. Loranthus nutans, leaves ovate-oblong, obtuse, peduncle axillary, 2-3 flowered, parasitical on Acacia Pendula. I gathered a few good seeds of this singular Acacia. The purple Bromus, a diminutive Panicum, and a small purple-flowering Arthropodium, frequent on the Eastern Coast, are common on these flats. Pancratium macquaria [= Calostemma purpureum], delighting in such situations, is scattered over the whole of the boggy plains.
The dimensions of the visible part of these plains are four miles by seven. I here observed a thick dense bushy shrub, of the Atripliceae, probably a Rhagodia. It is, however, not in flower or fruit. Continuing our journey southward of west, over a broken bad country of low scrubby aspect, having hollows filled with putrid water, we entered a thick sterile brush about four miles from the plains, and halted for the day in a situation where our horses could provide themselves with but little grass! No variation in the timber. Our boats were aground several times, such is the shallowness of the river, which together with difficulty of clearing sunken timber renders the navigation dangerous. We made ten miles clear on a northerly course. The course of the river is southerly.
1817 May 6th. Tuesday. The country through which we penetrated this day has the same character and appearance as that already passed. The timber is the same, with not the smallest diversity of scenery, a gloomy sameness pervading the whole of the solitary woods near the river. At 3½ miles on our journey our progress was again stopped by a small, trifling, but deep gully filled with water, the drainings of the land.
Passing this creek, having been obliged to unload the pack horses on this occasion, our course led us through high grassy and in some spots swampy land of difficult penetration, until we came out upon a bend of the flats discovered yesterday, which is bounded by a rugged but most romantic picturesque rocky range of hills. A change of scenery was very agreeable at this period. Crossing the flats, we arrived[p203] at the base of this elevated range, and ascending to the summit of this hill a most extensive panoramic view of the country around us presents itself, of which the following ranges have been named:--A range of lofty hills to the northward and eastward of us, of which Mount Sorrell is a part, we have called St. Andrew's Range. A second range to the southward and eastward we term St. Patrick's Range. The range we are now upon (which is singularly divided allowing the river to run through it) Mr. Oxley distinguishes by the name of St. George's Range. The bluff headland points on each side the river; the one on the right bank is called Mount Stewart, and that on the left side of the river has been nominated Mount Amiott, after two gentlemen in the Secretary of State's Office. The whole three ranges, bending round, form a crescent like a half moon, of which the two last mentioned mountains are its horns. It has been entitled Queen Charlotte's Crescent. Some extensive plains on the left side of the river, not seen before, Mr. Oxley has called Hamilton's Plains, in honour of Wm. Hamilton Esqre. the Under Secretary of State, and are contrasted with Solway Flats on its right bank.
The country for upwards Of 50 miles is flat and low, and to the westward a distant range of hills with singular bluff abrupt terminations have been distinguished by the name of St. David's Range, of which Mount Melville and Mount Cunningham are the most remarkable. To the southward of us is the point of a range termed Mount Gill, in honour of Captain Gill of the 46th Regt. and civil engineer at Sydney. The river (as Mr. Oxley had suspected from its appearance and observations taken by him on the morning of yesterday) runs between the rugged Mounts Amiott and Stewart, and takes a course generally southerly of west. We are now only 425 feet above the level of the sea, which was ascertained by our barometer. Mount Stewart is composed of large blocks of granite, and the following are plants discovered on its elevated summit:--Persoonia scabra, a species first discovered on the S.W. Coast, in fruit. Persoonia spathulata, observed before in such situations. Persoonia curvifolia, a remarkable curling-leaved shrub, Styphelia sp., allied to S. tubiflora, the flowers of which are very deciduous, and a Leucopogon, Cryptandra sp., differing from C. ericaefolium, by its floral bracts being deciduous. Tecoma Oxleyi (nova sp.),[p204] leaves pinnated; leaflets lanceolate, entire; flowers white with purple striae, and bearded inside. The capsule is oblong and cylindrical, as in Tecoma, which, with several remarkable species at present termed Bignonia, discovered in Brazil, constitute as many genera of the Bignoniaceae. This new and beautiful species I have presumed to dedicate to the memory of our worthy and persevering chief in the present expedition.
The eye is much relieved, from the sterility of the overhanging rocks grey with lichens, by the great profusion of flowers which this ornamental shrub produces. Phyllanthus revolutus is common here. A delicate-leaved Eriostemon, scarcely in flower, grew very profusely, accompanying a shrub of the same natural order of Rutaceae, the flowers of which were scarcely expanded. It is a glandulous shrub, with scattered obcordate leaves, silvered beneath, flowers terminal and yellow. Cupressus australis, with some common Mimosa, particularly Acacia doratoxylon, are abundant on this mount, but stunted in growth.
1817 May 6th: "Our lat. is 33°23'0" S. and long. 148° W. or thereabouts."
Marriott (Ida Lee), Ida. "Allan Cunningham." Early explorers in Australia,. London: Methuen & Co., 1925. p202. Print.
For this link to work you must have Google Earth installed.
Our lat. is 33°23'0" S. and long. 148° W. or thereabouts. Following the windings of the river on its high grassy banks about 2 miles, we halted about 4 o'clock, having travelled 12 miles in the course of the day. A curious species of Fungi, Agaricus, of a yellowish colour, which upon being broken and exposed to the air immediately assumed a blue tint. Our fishermen were uncommonly successful; they caught from 190-200 lbs. weight, consisting of 13 fish, of which the largest weighed 70 lbs. with the entrails and 65 lbs. gutted. Its length was 3 feet 5 inches, curve of shoulder 2 ft. 6 in. Fin to fin over the back 1 ft. 5 in.; breadth of tail when expanded 1 ft. 1½ in., and depth of mouth a foot. It may be considered as the largest that has been caught.
1817 May 7th. Wednesday. We rested our horses and selves the whole of this day, which gave me an opportunity of repapering my specimens and drying my seeds. Desirous of examining Mount Amiott, I, accompanied by two of our party, crossed the river by one of our boats and directing our course to the base of the range we arrived at its foot about 1 o'clock. The botany of this point is nearly the same as that observed on Mount Stewart. I, however, gathered specimens of a species of Prostanthera, with linear leaves, in capsule, affording me seeds. A species of Azorella with ovate leaves, found on[p205] the Eastward coast is likewise common here. Goodenia sp., a shrubby plant (specimens). The flats near the river abound with Pancratium Macquaria [= Calostemma purpureum]. At dusk we returned to our encampment on the opposite side of the river.
1817 May 8th. Thursday. We left this resting place about 8 o'clock, following the river over some good tracts of land of a rich dark loamy soil, but in consequence of its general flatness and the marks of flood on the stems of the trees it cannot be of any service to the farmer. The river has several large fine reaches, and its general tendency is northerly. There is no variation in the timber that species of Eucalyptus called Blue Gum being most predominant. At a remarkable bend or elbow of the river, in a bushy barren spot, I gathered duplicate seeds of Pittosporum lanceolatum, the rest of the plants being uniformly the same as previously observed. About 2 miles to the northward and westward extensive long plains opened to the view, bounded southerly by the Lachlan, and northerly by small eucalyptus woods. They wind round with the river, are soft and boggy, and in fact have the same character as Solway Flats.
On account of the many emus seen feeding on these plains we have been induced to term them Cassowary Plains. The river is much narrower than we have hitherto seen it, the banks are low and very naked. The Casuarina or swamp oak with which they are clothed nearer the depôt now disappears, and Acacia Pendula succeeds at regular wide distances on the banks. The shrubs of the Atriplicina [Silver Saltbush], now in flower, abound on Solway Flats. It appears to be a Rhagodia, leaves angularly toothed, subrotund, bilobially cuneated. Our day's journey was about 14 miles when we halted on the plains at an early hour.
We had scarcely pitched our tent and made a fire when we were surprised by a large male emu, who, unconscious of danger, came stalking across the plain near our tent. It, however, cost him his life, for our dogs after a chase of 15 minutes brought him down. At my suggestion our people gathered a quantity of the young leaves of the Rhagodia, which they boiled and found them to be an excellent substitute for a better vegetable, which, with the emu made us an excellent dinner. I found on these plains a species of Cyperus, of which I gathered seeds, also a species of Euphorbia, an[p206] annual plant, leaves obovate, oblique, with a filiform stem. Such were the numerous obstructions in the river that our boats were obliged to stop at nightfall 6 miles short of our encampment. At sunset we fired some musketry in order to inform our boatmen of the situation of our encampment.
1817 May 9th. Friday. Our boats came down to us about 10 o'clock. The principal cause of their detention it appears was their having been obliged to saw through four large trees that had fallen across the stream and had completely blocked up the passage. One of these trees was a large specimen of the Casuarina or swamp oak, whose hard close-grained wood gave much resistance to our cross-cut saws. Proceeding forward westerly on our journey, having the river in sight for upwards of two hours, during which period it ran to all points of the compass and its windings in some instances formed parallel lines with each other. The country is alternately plain and brushy, barren tracts producing plants of which mention has been made. At 2 o'clock we arrived at an extensive plain, being part of the chain of plains of which Cassowary Plains and Solway Flats form some parts or divisions. This spacious flat Mr. Oxley has called Fields Plains, in honour of Barron Field Esqre., our judge of the Supreme Court, and from these the singular and pointed hill called Mount Melville bore N. Westerly a few miles, being the termination of St. David's Range.
From the plains we advanced north of west, which is the river's general inclination, a few miles but, doubting whether our boats would be able to keep pace with us, we stopped at dusk on the river bank near another continuation of these plains. The river is free from fallen timber but in some places shoaly, the current is scarcely perceptible, and the banks generally lower, being not above 10 feet in some places, and bare of timber, what there is being Eucalyptus or Blue Gum and the Casuarina. Callitris glauca is now more frequent, and Eucalyptus micrantha very common, forming a tree 40-50 feet high remarkable for its leaves which are deformed, very flat and glossy; the flowers are in umbels, and very small. The tetrandrous shrub, producing a nut, before observed, is very frequent, with Pittosporum lanceolatum.
1817 May 10th. Saturday. The pasture being very indifferent, our horses had strayed away during the night in search of a better[p207] grazing place, and were not overtaken and brought back to our encampment until too late to proceed on our journey. We therefore remained at this resting place the whole of this day. Our lat. is 33°16'23" S., Mr. Oxley and Mr. Evans took some observations while I employed myself among my plants that required attention. In the afternoon I took a walk on the plains and collected the following interesting plants:--A new genus, Arthrotriche. A. speciosa, a small herbaceous plant, common in low boggy spots, of the same natural order as Dr. Smith's genus Brunonia.[*] Rubia sp. Goodenia sp., leaves radical. Mimulus sp., of a larger growth than the species discovered on the 5th. Arabis sp., a cress, frequent in wet situations. Chrysanthemum sp., stoloniferous, flowers large, white. I gathered specimens in fruit and seeds of a species of Hakea allied to H. rugosa, forming a shrub 6 ft. high, with filiform leaves, as in H. pugioniformis of Hortus Kewensis. I likewise gathered seeds of Salsola sp., and a species of Rhagodia with rhomboid leaves. Pancratium Macquaria [= Calostemma purpureum] is very abundant on the plains, . . . and the small Euphorbla is very common in humid situations. Gathered some grasses, among them were a Stipa and a Melica. It was observed to-day that the river was rising, having increased 2 inches (?) in a few hours. Served provisions of flour and pork to ourselves and people.
[* The plant of this name described by Mueller belongs to a different order.]
11th. Sunday. Being detained the whole of yesterday in consequence of our horses having strayed, Mr. Oxley determined to proceed forward with all possible despatch, advancing westerly about the usual time; on a continuance of the chain of plains (called Field's Plains) we experienced much inconvenience from the bogs and grassy marshes with which they abound. In about 6½ miles we arrived at the base of Mount Cunningham. The river bore to the southward of this Mount, and from it runs a creek winding itself under it. From the summit of Mount Cunningham the land to the westward is low and flat, with several open plains appearing through the trees. A range of hills to the southward and westward of us Mr. Oxley has named Hurd's Peak, Mount Allan, Mount Edwards and Mount Merrick. Mount Cunningham, which is not less than ¾ of a mile in length, is a detached hill, having its highest point at the northern extremity. It is remarkable for its extreme rocky, sterile, aspect. The[p208] plants discovered upon it are the following:--Psychotria punctata, leaves ovate (a specimen in fruit); a grass, Lolium(?) Gathered some duplicate specimens of Tecoma Oxleyi; I likewise noticed a Grevillea, allied to G. sphacelata; Prostanthera nivea, and some common Epacrideae. Acacia doratoxylon and Cupressus glauca are very common, but small. The whole of the vegetation on this rocky hill has been lately burnt by the natives in search of game. The remains of their fires and huts we observed at its base on the S.E. side of the mount.
I must here acknowledge my obligations to Mr. Oxley for the honour he has conferred upon me in naming a remarkable mount after me. Tracing the creek to its connection with the river we ferried our horse loads over, swam the animals, and halted for the day. Our boatmen reported to us the division of the river into two grand arms, near the commencement of our journey, which accounts for its obviously narrow channel and low banks, being in some places not above three feet. Mr. Oxley, Mr. Evans and self rode back on the river bank to the division, and found that the other arm ran away S.W. by W., Mount Melville bearing N.E. by E. 3 miles.
1817 May 11th. Sunday. It is as large as the northwest river which we intend to continue upon, and which we are induced from appearances to conclude will not be of long existence as a river. We fathomed the deepest part and found it did not exceed 19 ft. It is evident that these plains are inundated by the river in great floods from the eastward, for in fact the highest land (the few rocky hills excepted) is on the immediate bank of the river, so that the floods rising over the banks descend down upon the plains on each side this channel. On the plains we observed two native companions (Grus australasiana), and our people shot two swans. From the circumstance of having seen two bark canoes moored among the reeds on the river's left bank, and from the body of smoke ascending above the small trees at the base of Mount Melville on the opposite side of the plain, it is evident that there are some natives existing in these parts. We, however, saw none.
It was a matter of surprise that we fell in with so very few natives, whose marks are daily before our eyes, but it appears sufficiently obvious that experience has taught them to retire from a river where a supply of food is extremely[p209] precarious, and where a sudden inundation would in a moment sweep them away. Choosing rather to retire to the hilly country where they are enabled to obtain a daily subsistence with greater facility, and are not liable to be surprised and overtaken by floods.
N.B. It appears they only visit the river in great drought, when there is but little water in its channel, and are then able to procure the large horse mussel from its muddy bottom, which they cannot possibly obtain in floods and strong currents. They have no idea of angling or have any method to catch [fish?] that we know of. The viviparous Pancratium [= Calostemma purpureum] grows extremely luxuriant on these slimy plains. An unfortunate accident happened us this day. The horse that usually carried the barometer fell beneath his load and broke that valuable instrument.
1817 May 12th. Monday. Having our resting place on the margin of the creek we commenced our route down the north-west arm, but had not proceeded westerly a mile before we were stopped by an outlet, a small branch running from the river northerly. It is evident we are not far distant from its termination, from the perceptible descent of the country and the lowness of the banks. We were obliged to unload the horses, and with the assistance of our boats carried all our luggage over in the usual manner. Travelling on the immediate bank, which we found much firmer and harder than the more distant lower land, about half a mile from the last creek, Mr. Evans, who had gone on before us in his surveying of the river, discovered first that it was impossible to proceed farther, that the river had risen level with the banks, and the flats as far as we could see were an immense swamp. Thus are dispersed in different directions, and particularly westerly and north westerly of us, these great bodies of water that descend from the eastern country through the channel of the Lachlan River, which substantiates our suspicions respecting it prior to our departure from the depôt.
We crossed the rivulet (now no river), which is about 25 or 30 ft. wide and has a strong current, and walked to the summit of a hill a short distance to the westward of us. From there we observed the land to the southward and westward appears more elevated than that in a more northerly direction over which these waters are dispersed, the river being totally lost in permanent marshes. It is a subject of[p210] very considerable regret that a river upon which much has been calculated and respecting which many flattering hopes have been entertained should have such a termination. Mr. Oxley has determined therefore (since further surveys on this arm are useless and impracticable) to return to the mouth of the Southern Branch and explore it down. Previous to leaving this rising ground, which we have called Farewell Hill, we took the bearings of the following hills:--A hill bearing S. by E. we have called Mount Campbell, in honour of the Colonial Secretary, John Thos. Campbell Esqre. A hill near it bearing nearly south, has been called Mount Edwards; another hill bearing S.S.E. Mr. Oxley called Mount Falla, after a nurseryman at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Two other hills, bearing westerly a few miles, have received the names Mounts Merrick and Abbott. Farewell Hill bears S. by W. 2 miles of Mount Cunningham.
Returning on the left bank we met with several difficulties, as well as from the low swampy flats as from the narrow deep creeks which we intersected in our route. Our horses were so much exhausted by swimming over the creeks and rivers, and by the subsequent severe exercise over these marshes, that we were obliged to halt on some dry ground a mile short of the spot on which we intended to encamp, being about half a mile from our last night's resting place on the opposite side of the river. Farewell Hill, like other elevated spots of the same nature, is covered with Callitris glauca, Acacia doratoxylon, some dwarf trees of Eucalyptus (Blue Gum), Indigofera sp., and the Grevillea allied to G. sphacelata. In the swampy lands I gathered specimens of a species of Arenaria; a syngenesious plant allied to Aster, the flower is blue with many linear rays; a trailing plant of the Rutaceae, having the habit of a Zygophyllum, with conjugate and obovate leaves, the flowers are yellow, octandrous and decandrous, capsule 4-lobed; a beautiful dwarf species of Mimulus, which decorated the dull places with its delicate purple flowers. I sowed some peach stones and quince seeds on the opposite side of the river previous to leaving our last night's encampment.
1817 May 13th. Tuesday. This morning we returned to the head of the southerly arm of the river where we encamped, intending to take a survey down this branch a few miles in order to ascertain how far it would be practicable to travel on its[p211] banks before we should attempt to continue our journey with the baggage horses, all of which required rest.
1817 May 14th. Wednesday. Mr. Oxley rode down on the right bank of the river about 3 miles when he found it gradually decreasing in breadth, its banks very low and its inclination northerly in the same direction as the other branch. He could not advance further on account of its ramifications into minor streamlets, all tending to the lower lands westerly and northwesterly. From these circumstances as well as from the appearance of the main channel being choked up with Arundo phragmites no doubt existed in his mind that it terminated and dispersed itself in the same low swampy flats as the other or northerly branch so that we are encamped on an island. Mr. Oxley conceives he cannot act up to the spirit of his instructions more fully than by commencing a journey to the S.W. coast in hopes of learning something respecting the Macquarie River which we have not seen since we left Bathurst. We therefore propose to rest the horses in order to enable them to recruit their strength for such an undertaking.
1817 May 15th. Thursday. I formed one of a party destined to visit Mount Melville bearing N.E. by E., 8 miles distant. We left the tent about half past 9 o'clock, and in our route across Field's Plains, which we found extremely swampy, I gathered specimens of a Polygonum, a rushy shrub with lanceolate leaves and diaecious flowers; also an aphyllous shrub with the habit of a Thesium, having dichotomous branches, the fruit is a superior nut, half enclosed in a persistent calyx.
About 1 o'clock we came to a creek running east and west, about 16 feet broad and of considerable depth. Our huntsman was the only person who was able to cross it, from whose report, having climbed to the summit of one of its peaks, it is a barren rocky (red granite) hill. The timber upon it is small and stunted: its surface had been recently fired by natives, and it has that self-same aspect of sterility its Mount Cunningham. We observed marks of flood on the steins of the Eucalypti on the verge of the creek upwards of 3 ft. The same aquatic plant of Alismaceae allied to Damasonium frequent on the Eastern coast, abounds in this creek. Here is a species of Myriophyllum, scarcely distinct from the British M. verticillatum, it has its lower leaves which are[p212] immersed, pinnated and capillary. I gathered specimens of a species of Casuarina tree, 30 feet high, with flaccid smooth branchlets and a strobile smaller than that of C. macrocarpa, with much stronger branches. Parasitical on the Eucalyptus globulus, usually termed Blue Gum, I discovered a species of Loranthus, which I have named (L. aurantiacus), whose leaves are lanceolate, and the whole plant is of weak pendent habit. I have gathered fine flowering specimens of another species, L. nutans, of more stiff growth. having peduncles 2-3 flowered, and nodding or bent downwards.
The soil of these flats is of a tenacious cold stiff clayey quality. We passed the spots where the natives had had their fires, the smoke of which we had observed on the 11th inst. The freshness of the ashes suggested to us that they had not left them 24 hours. It is likewise evident that mussels which they procure from the creek constitute a part of their viands, from the great numbers of their shells being scattered around their gunyas or bark huts. At dark we returned with the small collection of specimens I had gathered in the course of the day's excursion. The country for a very considerable distance northward and westward of Mount Melville is low and exceeding swampy. The natives had removed to the opposite side of the creek in a hollow between Mount Melville and Mount Cunningham, for we could occasionally perceive the smoke of their fires among the trees.
1817 May 16th. Friday. Arranging and packing up plants throughout the whole of this day. By observations taken this day by Mr. Oxley we find the site of our encampment is in lat. 33°15'35" S., and long. 147°45'00" E., the variation of the compass being 7°08'00" E. Mr. Oxley sent two persons to a range of hills, of which Mount Maud forms a part, in order to look out for a good track round a lagoon on the opposite side of the river for our horses to pass, as also to observe the nature of the country in our intended course in that direction. By this report we learned that the country to the southward and westward is more elevated and the soil firmer for travelling than that of the plains. They ascended to the lofty eminence of Mount Maud, which appears to be not so barren as others in its vicinity. The Grevillea allied to G. sphacelata is found here extremely luxuriant, forming a shrub 8 ft. high; with a linear-leaved Solanum[p213] entirely covered with long-orange thorns. Clitoria sp., with pinnated leaves, which are retuse and silky, produces an elongated spike of blue flowers, was found at the base of the mountain. They gathered specimens of a shrub of the order Rutaceae, of the genus of Eriostemon, differing from E. squameus [= E. Billardieri] not only in the shape of the foliage, but in the absence of scales on their underside. The whole shrub is covered with glandular tubercules, and has the scent of Black Currants. I have this day ascertained that the heterophyllous tree seen at Lime Stone Creek is a species of Sterculia, as that genus now stands. Our people brought me some old capsules of it, which are pea-like, distinct from one another, bursting on the side, and are many seeded.
1817 May 17th. Saturday. Our carpenter having planed a flat surface on a large stem of a eucalyptus we left our marks upon it as follows. J. Oxley; G. W. Evans; A.C. May 17th, 1817.[*] This morning we removed from our encampment to the opposite side, about 2½ miles down the river, carrying over our luggage, provisions etc., and swimming the horses. Pitched our tent for the day and served out rations of provisions to people.
[* Mitchell's artist turned A.C. into A.D. in sketching the tree in 1832.]