Charles Sturt.

Two Expeditions into the Interior of Southern Australia — Volume 2 online

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specimens would be numerous. It will appear, however, from the
following list of rocks collected during the second expedition, that
the geological formation of the mountains to the S.W. of Port Jackson
is as various as that to the N.W. of it is mountainous. The specimens
are described not according to their natural order, but in the
succession in which they were found, commencing from Yass Plains, and
during the subsequent stages of the journey.

Sandstone, Old Red. - Found on various parts of Yass Plains, in contact

Limestone, Transition. - Colour dark grey; composes the bed of the Yass
River, and apparently traverses the sandstone formation. Yass Plains
lie 170 miles to the S.W. of Sydney.

Sandstone, Old Red. - Again succeeds the limestone, and continues to the
N.W. to a considerable distance over a poor and scrubby country,
covered for the most part with a dwarf species of Eucalyptus.

Granite. - Colour grey; feldspar, black mica, and quartz: succeeds the
sandstone, and continues to the S.W. as far as the Morumbidgee River,
over an open forest country broken into hill and dale. It is generally
on these granite rocks that the best grazing is found.

Greywacke. - Colour grey, of light hue, or dark, with black specks.
Soft. - Composition of a part of the ranges that form the valley of the

Serpentine. - Colour green of different shades, striped sulphur yellow;
slaty fracture, soft and greasy to the touch. Forms hills of moderate
elevation, of peculiarly sharp spine, resting on quartz. Composition of
most of the ranges opposite the Doomot River on the Morumbidgee, in
lat. 35 degrees 4 minutes and long. 147 degrees 40 minutes.

Quartz. - Colour snow-white; formation of the higher ranges on the left
bank of the Morumbidgee, in the same latitude and longitude as above;
showing in large blocks on the sides of the hills.

Slaty Quartz, with varieties. - Found with the quartz rock, in a state
of decomposition.

Granite. - Succeeds the serpentine, of light colour; feldspar
decomposed; mica, glittering and silvery white.

Sandstone, Old Red. - Composition of the more distant ranges on the
Morumbidgee. Forms abrupt precipices over the river flats; of sterile
appearance, and covered with Banksias and scrub.

Mica Slate. - Colour dark brown, approaching red; mica glittering. The
hills enclosing Pondebadgery Plain at the gorge of the valley of the
Morumbidgee, are composed of this rock. They are succeeded by

Sandstone. - Which rises abruptly from the river in perpendicular
cliffs, of 145 feet in height.

Jasper and quartz. - Colour red and white. Forms the slope of the above
sandstone, and may be considered the outermost of the rocks connected
with the Eastern or Blue Mountain Ranges. It will be remembered that
jasper and quartz were likewise found on a plain near the Darling
River, precisely similar to the above, although occurring at so great a
distance from each other.

Granite. - Light red colour; composition of a small isolated hill, to
all appearance wholly unconnected with the neighbouring ranges. This
specimen is very similar to that found in the bed of New-Year's Creek.

Breccia. - Silicious cement, composed of a variety of pebbles. Formation
of the most WESTERLY of the hills between the Lachlan and Macquarie
Rivers. This conglomerate was also found to compose the minor and most
westerly of the elevations of the more northern interior.

Chrystallised Sulphate of Lime. - Found embedded in the deep alluvial
soil in the banks of the Morumbidgee River, in lat. 34 degrees 30
minutes S., and long. 144 degrees 55 minutes E. The same substance was
found on the banks of the Darling, in lat. 29 degrees 49 minutes S.,
and in long. 145 degrees 18 minutes E.

A reference to the chart will show that the Morumbidgee, from the first
of the above positions, may be said to have entered the almost dead
level of the interior. No elevation occurs to the westward for several
hundreds of miles. A coarse grit occasionally traversed the beds of the
rivers, and their lofty banks of clay or marl appear to be based on
sandstone and granitic sand. The latter occurs in slabs of four inches
in thickness, divided by a line of saffron-coloured sand, and seems to
have been subjected to fusion, as if the particles or grains had been
cemented together by fusion.

The first decided break that takes place in the level of the interior
occurs upon the right bank of the Murray, a little below the junction
of the Rufus with it. A cliff of from 120 to 130 feet in perpendicular
elevation here flanks the river for about 200 yards, when it recedes
from it, and forms a spacious amphitheatre that is occupied by
semicircular hillocks, that partake of the same character as the cliff
itself; the face of which showed the various substances of which it was
composed in horizontal lines, that if prolonged would cut the same
substance in the hillocks. Based upon a soft white sandstone, a bed of
clay formed the lowest part of the cliff; upon this bed of clay, a bed
of chalk reposed; this chalk was superseded by a thick bed of
saponaceous earth, whilst the summit of the cliff was composed of a
bright red sand. Semi-opal and hydrate of silex were found in the
chalk, and some beautiful specimens of brown menelite were collected
from the upper stratum of the cliff.

A little below this singular place, the country again declines, when a
tertiary fossil formation shows itself, which, rising gradually as an
inclined plain, ultimately attains an elevation of 300 feet. This
formation continues to the very coast, since large masses of the rock
were observed in the channel of communication between the lake and the
ocean; and the hills to the left of the channel were based upon it.
This great bank cannot, therefore, average less than from seventy to
ninety miles in width. At its commencement, it strikingly resembled
skulls piled one on the other, as well in colour as appearance. This
effect had been produced by the constant rippling of water against the
rock. The softer parts had been washed away, and the shells (a bed of
Turritella) alone remained.

Plate 1, Figures 1, 2, and 3, represent the selenite formation.

Plate 2, represents a mass of the rock containing numerous kinds of
shells, of which the following are the most conspicuous:

Conus, and
Others unknown.

* * *

The following is a list of the fossils collected from various parts of
this formation, from which it is evident that a closer examination
would lead to the discovery of numberless species.



FIG.1 Eschara celleporacea.
2 - - - - piriformis.
3 - - - - UNNAMED.

FIG.4 Cellepora echinata.
5 - - - - - escharoides?
6 Retepora disticha.
7 - - - - vibicata.
8 Glauconome rhombifera.
All Tertiary in Westphalia and England.


9 Scutella.
10 Spatangus Hoffmanni - Goldfuss.
Tertiary, in Westphalia.
11 Echinus.


Corbula gallica - Paris basin - Tertiary.
Corbis lamellosa - Tertiary - Paris.
Venus (Cytherea) laevigata - ibid.
- - - - - - - - obliqua - ibid.
Cardium? - fragments.
12 Nucula - such is found in London clay.
13 Pecten coarctatus? - Placentia.
- - - various? - recent.
14 - - - species unknown.
Two other Pectens also occur.
Ostrea elongata - Deshayes.
15 Terebratula.
16 One cast, genus unknown, perhaps a Cardium.


Bulla? Plate II., fig. 2.
FIG.17 Natica - small.
18 - - - large species.
19 Trochus.
20 Turritella.
- - - - - in gyps.
21 Murex.
22 Buccinum?
23 Mitra.
24 - - - very short.
25 Cypraea.
26 Conus.
27 - - - (Plate II., fig. 3.)
28 Two, unknown, (Also Plate II, fig. 4.)
The above all appear to belong to the newer tertiary formations.

[Fig.17 to 27 - These genera are scarcely ever, and some of them not at
all, found in any but tertiary formations.]

A block of coarse red granite forms an island in the centre of the
river near the lake, but is nowhere else visible, although it is very
probably the basis of the surrounding country.


Primitive Transition Limestone. - Light grey, striped. Altered in
appearance by volcanic action; occurs on the Ranges north of Cape

Granite. - Colour, red; found on the west side of Encounter Bay.

Brown Spar. - South point of Cape Jervis.

Sandstone, Old Red. - East coast of St. Vincent's Gulf.

Limestone, Transition. - Colour, blue. East Coast of St. Vincent's Gulf.
Formation near the first inlet. Continuing to the base of the Ranges.

Clay Slate. - Composition of the lower part of the Mount Lofty Range.

Granite. - Fine grained, red; forms the higher parts of the Mount Lofty

Quartz, with Tourmaline. - Lower parts of the Mount Lofty Range.

Limestone Flustra, and their Corallines, probably tertiary. - From the
mouth of the Sturt, on the coast line, nearly abreast of Mount Lofty.



* * * * *


Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney,
May 10, 1830.

His Excellency the Governor has much satisfaction in publishing the
following report of the proceedings of an expedition undertaken for the
purpose of tracing the course of the river "Morumbidgee," and of
ascertaining whether it communicated with the coast forming the
southern boundary of the colony.

The expedition, which was placed under the direction of Captain Sturt,
of his Majesty's 39th Regiment, commenced its progress down the
"Morumbidgee" on the 7th day of January last, having been occupied
twenty-one days in performing the journey from Sydney.

On the 14th January they entered a new river running from east to west,
now called the "Murray," into which the "Morumbidgee" flows.

After pursuing the course of the "Murray" for several days, the
expedition observed another river (supposed to be that which Captain
Sturt discovered on his former expedition), uniting with the "Murray"
which they examined about five miles above the junction.

The expedition again proceeded down the "Murray," and fell in with
another of its tributaries flowing from the south east, which Captain
Sturt has designated the "Lindesay;" and on the 8th February the
"Murray" was found to enter or form a lake, of from fifty to sixty
miles in length, and from thirty to forty in breadth, lying immediately
to the eastward of gulf St. Vincent, and extending to the southward, to
the shore of "Encounter Bay."

Thus has Captain Sturt added largely, and in a highly important degree,
to the knowledge previously possessed of the interior.

His former expedition ascertained the fate of the rivers Macquarie and
Castlereagh, on which occasion he also discovered a river which, there
is every reason to believe, is, in ordinary seasons, of considerable

Should this, as Captain Sturt supposes, prove to be the same river as
that above-mentioned, as uniting with the "Murray," the existence of an
interior water communication for several hundreds of miles, extending
from the northward of "Mount Harris," down to the southern coast of the
colony, will have been established.

It is to be regretted, that circumstances did not permit of a more
perfect examination of the lake, (which has been called "Alexandrina"),
as the immediate vicinage of Gulf St. Vincent furnishes a just ground
of hope that a more practicable and useful communication may be
discovered in that direction, than the channel which leads into
"Encounter Bay."

The opportunity of recording a second time the services rendered to the
colony by Captain Sturt, is as gratifying to the government which
directed the undertaking, as it is creditable to the individual who so
successfully conducted it to its termination. - It is an additional
cause of satisfaction to add, that every one, according to his sphere
of action, has a claim to a proportionate degree of applause. All were
exposed alike to the same privations and fatigue, and every one
submitted with patience, manifesting the most anxious desire for the
success of the expedition. The zeal of Mr. George M'Leay, the companion
of Captain Sturt, when example was so important, could not fail to have
the most salutary effect; and the obedience, steadiness, and good
conduct of the men employed, merit the highest praise.

By his Excellency's command,


* * * * *


SIR, - The departure of Mr. George M'Leay for Sydney, who is anxious to
proceed homewards as speedily as possible, affords me an earlier
opportunity than would otherwise have presented itself, by which to
make you acquainted with the circumstance of my return, under the
divine protection, to the located districts; and I do myself the honour
of annexing a brief account of my proceedings since the last
communication for the information of His Excellency the Governor, until
such time as I shall have it in my power to give in a more detailed

On the 7th of January, agreeably to the arrangements which had been
made, I proceeded down the Morumbidgee in the whale boat, with a
complement of six hands, independent of myself and Mr. M'Leay, holding
the skiff in tow. The river, for several days, kept a general W.S.W.
course; it altered little in appearance, nor did any material change
take place in the country upon its banks. The alluvial flats had
occasionally an increased breadth on either side of it, but the line of
reeds was nowhere so extensive as from previous appearances I had been
led to expect. About twelve miles from the depot, we passed a large
creek junction from the N.E. which, from its locality and from the
circumstance of my having been upon it in the direction of them, I
cannot but conclude originates in the marshes of the Lachlan.

On the 11th, the Morumbidgee became much encumbered with fallen timber,
and its current was at times so rapid that I was under considerable
apprehension for the safety of the boats. The skiff had been upset on
the 8th, and, although I could not anticipate such an accident to the
large boat, I feared she would receive some more serious and
irremediable injury. On the 14th, these difficulties increased upon
us. - The channel of the river became more contracted, and its current
more impetuous. We had no sooner cleared one reach, than fresh and
apparently insurmountable dangers presented themselves to us in the
next. I really feared that every precaution would have proved
unavailing against such multiplied embarrassments, and that ere night
we should have possessed only the wrecks of the expedition. From this
state of anxiety, however, we were unexpectedly relieved, by our
arrival at 2 p.m. at the termination of the Morumbidgee; from which we
were launched into a broad and noble river, flowing from E. to W. at
the rate of two and a half knots per hour, over a clear and sandy bed,
of a medium width of from three to four hundred feet.

During the first stages of our journey upon this new river, which
evidently had its rise in the mountains of the S.E., we made rapid
progress to the W.N.W. through an unbroken and uninteresting country of
equal sameness of feature and of vegetation. On the 23rd, as the boats
were proceeding down it, several hundreds of natives made their
appearance upon the right bank, having assembled with premeditated
purposes of violence. I was the more surprised at this show of
hostility, because we had passed on general friendly terms, not only
with those on the Morumbidgee, but of the new river. Now, however,
emboldened by numbers, they seemed determined on making the first
attack, and soon worked themselves into a state of frenzy by loud and
vehement shouting. As I observed that the water was shoaling fast, I
kept in the middle of the stream; and, under an impression that it
would be impossible for me to avoid a conflict, prepared for an
obstinate resistance. But, at the very moment when, having arrived
opposite to a large sand bank, on which they had collected, the
foremost of the blacks had already advanced into the water, and I only
awaited their nearer approach to fire upon them, their impetuosity was
restrained by the most unlooked for and unexpected interference. They
held back of a sudden, and allowed us to pass unmolested. The boat,
however, almost immediately grounded on a shoal that stretched across
the river, over which she was with some difficulty hauled into deeper
water, - when we found ourselves opposite to a large junction from the
eastward, little inferior to the river itself. Had I been aware of this
circumstance, I should have been the more anxious with regard to any
rupture with the natives, and I was now happy to find that most of them
had laid aside their weapons and had crossed the junction, it appearing
that they had previously been on a tongue of land formed by the two
streams. I therefore landed among them to satisfy their curiosity and
to distribute a few presents before I proceeded up it. We were obliged
to use the four oars to stem the current against us; but, as soon as we
had passed the mouth, got into deeper water, and found easier pulling,
The parallel in which we struck it, and the direction from which it
came, combined to assure me that this could be no other than the
"Darling." To the distance of two miles it retained a breadth of one
hundred yards and a depth of twelve feet. Its banks were covered with
verdure, and the trees overhanging them were of finer and larger growth
than those on the new river by which we had approached it. Its waters
had a shade of green, and were more turbid than those of its
neighbours, but they were perfectly sweet to the taste.

Having satisfied myself on those points on which I was most anxious, we
returned to the junction to examine it more closely.

The angle formed by the Darling with the new river is so acute, that
neither can be said to be tributary to the other; but more important
circumstances, upon which it is impossible for me to dwell at the
present moment, mark them as distinct rivers, which have been formed by
Nature for the same purposes, in remote and opposite parts of the
island. Not having as yet given a name to the latter, I now availed
myself of the opportunity of complying with the known wishes of His
Excellency the Governor, and, at the same time, in accordance with my
own feelings as a soldier I distinguished it by that of the "Murray."

It had been my object to ascertain the decline of the vast plain
through which the Murray flows, that I might judge of the probable fall
of the waters of the interior; but by the most attentive observation I
could not satisfy myself upon the point. The course of the Darling now
confirmed my previous impression that it was to the south, which
direction it was evident the Murray also, in the subsequent stages of
our journey down it, struggled to preserve; from which it was thrown by
a range of minor elevations into a more westerly one. We were carried
as far as 139 degrees 40 minutes of longitude, without descending below
34 degrees in point of latitude; in consequence of which I expected
that the river would ultimately discharge itself, either into St.
Vincent's Gulf or that of Spencer, more especially as lofty ranges were
visible in the direction of them from the summit of the hills behind
our camp, on the 2nd of February, which I laid down as the coast line
bounding them.

A few days prior to the 2nd of February, we passed under some cliffs of
partial volcanic origin, and had immediately afterwards entered a
limestone country of the most singular formation. The river, although
we had passed occasional rapids of the most dangerous kind, had
maintained a sandy character from our first acquaintance with it to the
limestone division. It now forced itself through a glen of that rock of
half a mile in width, frequently striking precipices of more than two
hundred feet perpendicular elevation, in which coral and fossil remains
were plentifully embedded. On the 3rd February it made away to the
eastward of south, in reaches of from two to four miles in length. It
gradually lost its sandy bed, and became deep, still, and turbid; the
glen expanded into a valley, and the alluvial flats, which had hitherto
been of inconsiderable size, became proportionally extensive. The
Murray increased in breadth to more than four hundred yards, with a
depth of twenty feet of water close into the shore, and in fact formed
itself into a safe and navigable stream for any vessels of the minor
class. On the 6th the cliffs partially ceased, and on the 7th they gave
place to undulating and picturesque hills, beneath which thousands of
acres of the richest flats extended, covered, however, with reeds, and
apparently subject to overflow at any unusual rise of the river.

It is remarkable that the view from the hills was always confined. - We
were apparently running parallel to a continuation of the ranges we had
seen on the 2nd, but they were seldom visible. The country generally
seemed darkly wooded, and had occasional swells upon it, but it was one
of no promise; the timber, chiefly box and pine, being of a poor
growth, and its vegetation languid. On the 8th the hills upon the left
wore a bleak appearance, and the few trees upon them were cut down as
if by the prevailing winds. At noon we could not observe any land at
the extremity of a reach we had just entered; some gentle hills still
continued to form the left lank of the river, but the right was hid
from us by high reeds. I consequently landed to survey the country from
the nearest eminence, and found that we were just about to enter an
extensive lake which stretched away to the S.W., the line of water
meeting the horizon in that direction. Some tolerably lofty ranges were
visible to the westward at the distance of forty miles, beneath which
that shore was lost in haze. A hill, which I prejudged to be Mount
Lofty, bearing by compass S. 141 degrees W. More to the northward, the
country was low and unbacked by any elevations. A bold promontory,
which projected into the lake at the distance of seven leagues, ended
the view to the south along the eastern shore; between which and the
river the land also declined. The prospect altogether was extremely
gratifying, and the lake appeared to be a fitting reservoir for the
whole stream which had led us to it.

In the evening we passed the entrance; but a strong southerly wind
heading us, we did not gain more than nine miles. In the morning it
shifted to the N.E. where we stood out for the promontory on a S.S.W.
course. At noon we were abreast of it, when a line of sand hummocks was
ahead, scarcely visible in consequence of the great refraction about
them; but an open sea behind us from the N.N.W. to the N.N.E. points of
the compass. A meridian altitude observed here, placed us in 35 degrees
25 minutes 15 seconds S. lat. - At 1, I changed our course a little to
the westward, and at 4 p.m. entered an arm of the lake leading W.S.W.
On the point, at the entrance, some natives had assembled, but I could
not communicate with them. They were both painted and armed, and
evidently intended to resist our landing. Wishing, however, to gain
some information from them, I proceeded a short distance below their
haunt, and landed for the night, in hopes that, seeing us peaceably
disposed, they would have approached the tents; but as they kept aloof,
we continued our journey in the morning. The water, which had risen ten
inches during the night, had fallen again in the same proportion, and
we were stopped by shoals shortly after starting. In hopes that the
return of tide would have enabled us to float over them, we waited for
it very patiently, but were ultimately obliged to drag the boat across
a mud-flat of more than a quarter of a mile into deeper water; but,
after a run of about twenty minutes, were again checked by sand banks.
My endeavours to push beyond a certain point were unsuccessful, and I
was at length under the necessity of landing upon the south shore for
the night. Some small hummocks were behind us, on the other side of
which I had seen the ocean from our morning's position; and whilst the
men were pitching the tents, walked over them in company with Mr.

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Online LibraryCharles SturtTwo Expeditions into the Interior of Southern Australia — Volume 2 → online text (page 17 of 18)