Charles Sturt.

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

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M'Leay to the sea shore, having struck the coast at Encounter Bay, Cape
Jervis, bearing by compass S. 81 degrees W. distant between three and
four leagues, and Kangaroo Island S.E. extremity S. 60 degrees W.
distant from nine to ten.

Thirty-two days had elapsed since we had left the depot, and I
regretted in this stage of our journey, that I could not with prudence
remain an hour longer on the coast than was necessary for me to
determine the exit of the lake. From the angle of the channel on which
we were, a bright sand-hill was visible at about nine miles distance to
the E.S.E.; which, it struck me, was the eastern side of the passage
communicating with the ocean. Having failed in our attempts to proceed
further in the boat, and the appearance of the shoals at low water
having convinced me of the impracticability of it, I determined on an
excursion along the sea-shore to the southward and eastward, in anxious
hopes that it would be a short one; for as we had had a series of winds
from the S.W. which had now changed to the opposite quarter, I feared
we should have to pull across the lake in our way homewards. I left the
camp therefore at an early hour, in company with Mr. M'Leay and Fraser,
and at day-break arrived opposite to the sand-bank I have mentioned.
Between us and it the entrance into the back water ran. The passage is
at all periods of the tide rather more than a quarter of a mile in
width, and is of sufficient depth for a boat to enter, especially on
the off side; but a line of dangerous breakers in the bay will always
prevent an approach to it from the sea, except in the calmest weather,
whilst the bay itself will always be a hazardous place for any vessels
to enter under any circumstances.

Having, however, satisfactorily concluded our pursuit, we retraced our
steps to the camp, and again took the following bearings as we left the
beach, the strand trending E.S.E. 1/2 E.: -

Kangaroo Island, S.E. angle S. 60 degrees W.
Low rocky point of Cape Jervis S. 81 degrees W.
Round Hill in centre of Range S. 164 degrees W.
Camp, distant one mile S. 171 degrees W.
Mount Lofty, distant forty miles N. 9 degrees E.

Before setting sail, a bottle was deposited between four and five feet
deep in a mound of soft earth and shells, close to the spot on which
the tent had stood, which contained a paper of the names of the party,
together with a simple detail of our arrival and departure.

It appeared that the good fortune, which had hitherto attended us was
still to continue, for the wind which had been contrary, chopped round
to the S.W., and ere sunset we were again in the mouth of the river,
having run from fifty to sixty miles under as much canvass as the boat
would bear, and with a heavy swell during the greater part of the day.

The lake which has thus terminated our journey, is from fifty to sixty
miles in length, and from thirty to forty in width. With such an
expanse of water, I am correct in stating its medium depth at four
feet. There is a large bight in it to the S.E. and a beautiful and
extensive bay to the N.W. At about seven miles from the mouth of the
river, its waters are brackish, and at twenty-one miles they are quite
salt, whilst seals frequent the lower parts. Considering this lake to
be of sufficient importance, and in anticipation that its shores will,
during her reign, if not at an earlier period, be peopled by some
portion of her subjects, I have called it, in well-meant loyalty, "The
Lake Alexandrina."

It is remarkable that the Murray has few tributaries below the Darling.
It receives one, however, of considerable importance from the S.E., to
which I have given the name of the "Lindesay," as a mark of respect to
my commanding-officer, and in remembrance of the many acts of kindness
I have received at his hands.

Having dwelt particularly on the nature of the country through which
the expedition has passed in the pages of my journal, it may be
unnecessary for me to enter into any description of it in this place,
further than to observe, that the limestone continued down to the very
coast, and that although the country in the neighbourhood of the Lake
Alexandrina must, from local circumstances, be rich in point of soil,
the timber upon it is of stunted size, and that it appears to have
suffered from drought, though not to the same extent with the eastern
coast. It is evident, however, that its vicinity to high lands does not
altogether exempt it from such periodical visitations; still I have no
doubt that my observations upon it will convince His Excellency the
Governor, that it is well worthy of a closer, and more attentive
examination, than I had it in my power to make.

In a geographical point of view, I am happy to believe that the result
of this expedition has been conclusive; and that, combined with the
late one, it has thrown much light upon the nature of the interior of
the vast Island; that the decline of waters, as far as the parallel of
139 degrees E., is to the south, and that the Darling is to the N.E. as
the Murray is to the S.E. angle of the coast, the main channel by which
the waters of the central ranges are thrown or discharged into one
great reservoir.

Our journey homewards was only remarkable for its labour: in
conclusion, therefore, it remains for me to add that we reached the
depot on the 23rd of March.

Our sugar failed us on the 18th of February, and our salt provisions,
in consequence of the accident which happened to the skiff, on the 8th
of March; so that from the above period we were living on a reduced
ration of flour; and as we took few fish, and were generally
unsuccessful with our guns, the men had seldom more than their bread to

I regretted to observe that they were daily falling off, and that
although unremitting in their exertions they were well nigh exhausted,
ere we reached the Morumbidgee.

We were from sunrise to five o'clock on the water, and from the day
that we left the depot to that of our return we never rested upon our
oars. We were thirty-nine days gaining the depot from the coast,
against a strong current in both rivers, being seven more than it took
us to go down. From the depot to this station we had seventeen days
hard pulling, making a total of eighty-eight, during which time we
could not have travelled over less than 2000 miles. I was under the
necessity of stopping short on the 10th instant, and of detaching two
men for the drays, which happily arrived on the 17th, on which day our
stock of flour failed us. Had I not adopted this plan, the men would
have become too weak to have pulled up to Pondebadgery, and we should
no doubt have suffered some privations.

This detail will, I am sure, speak more in favour of the men composing
the party than anything I can say. I would most respectfully recommend
them all to His Excellency's notice; and I beg to assure him that,
during the whole of this arduous journey, they were cheerful, zealous,
and obedient. They had many harassing duties to perform, and their
patience and temper were often put to severe trials by the natives, of
whom we could not have seen fewer than 4000 on the Murray alone.

I am to refer His Excellency the Governor to Mr. M'Leay for any more
immediate information he may require, - to whom I stand indebted on many
points - and not less in the anxiety he evinced for the success of the
undertaking, than in the promptitude with which he assisted in the
labours attendant on our return, and his uniform kindness to the men.

I have the honour to subscribe myself,
Your most obedient humble Servant,
Captain of the 39th Regt.

The Hon. the Colonial Secretary.


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