George Grimm.

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THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS ***




Produced by Paul Mitchell, Greg Bergquist and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)









THE

AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS

THEIR

LABOURS, PERILS, AND ACHIEVEMENTS

BEING A NARRATIVE OF DISCOVERY FROM THE LANDING OF CAPTAIN COOK TO THE
CENTENNIAL YEAR

BY

GEORGE GRIMM, M.A.

MINISTER OF ST. PAUL'S, BALMAIN WEST, SYDNEY; AND TUTOR IN APOLOGETICS
AND SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY TO THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF NEW SOUTH WALES

GEORGE ROBERTSON & COMPANY MELBOURNE AND SYDNEY 1888




TO THE MEMORY

OF THE LATE

JOHN DUNMORE LANG, D.D.

IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE

OF MUCH PLEASANT INTERCOURSE

THIS VOLUME IS AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED




PREFACE.


The story of the exploration of Australia is one which we cannot
willingly let die. There are many reasons for keeping alive the
remembrance of such heroic deeds. It is due to the memory of those men
who took their lives in their hands, and, in many cases, laid their
bones in the desert; it is an act of gratitude on our part, who have
entered on their labours; and it is a kind of information indispensable
to every Australian who desires to know the history of his country. And
yet there is great danger of their being practically forgotten. The time
when the harvest of discovery was reaped has faded into the past, and a
generation is growing up not well informed on these most interesting
adventures and achievements. Nor are the sources of information easily
obtainable by those who purposely put themselves on the search. The
journals of the explorers, never too plentiful, have now become scarce.
They are only occasionally met with in private hands, where they are,
for good reasons, held as a treasure. A considerable number of these
works are to be found in the Sydney School of Arts, but they have been
withdrawn from circulation, and are now kept for special reference only,
in a glass case, under lock and key. The Government Library contains
the best collection extant, but even there it has been deemed necessary
to adopt restrictive regulations, with the view of giving the books a
longer lease of existence. This scarcity of the sources of information,
and these restrictions which fence in the few that remain, may be
accepted as a sufficient plea for the effort here made to popularize the
knowledge they contain. But I would warn the reader not to expect from
this small volume what it does not profess to give. In no sense does it
pretend to be elaborate or exhaustive. I have had to study brevity for
another reason than its being the soul of wit. It would have been a
pleasant task to write long descriptions of Australian scenery, and to
follow the explorers even into the by-paths of their journeys; but the
result would have been just what I have had to avoid - a bulky volume.
Yet, such as it is, I hope the book will be found acceptable to the man
of business, who can neither afford to be ignorant of this subject nor
find time to enter into its minutiæ; to the youth of our country, who
cannot obtain access to the original sources; and to the general reader,
who desires to be told in simple, artless language the main outlines of
this fascinating story.

Having written on a subject in no way connected with my profession, I
may be allowed to say, in a word, how my thoughts came to be diverted
into this channel. Probably they would never have been so directed to
any great extent had it not happened that the path of duty led me into
the tracks of several of the most eminent explorers. In earlier days it
was my lot to travel, in the service of the Gospel, most extensively in
the interior of Queensland, principally on the lines of the Condamine,
the Dawson, the Balonne, the Maranoa, and the Warrego rivers. In these
situations it was natural to wish for information as to the way and
manner in which those pastoral regions had been opened up for
settlement. Not much was to be gleaned from the occupants themselves;
but it fortunately happened that Sir Thomas Mitchell's journal fell into
my hands when amidst the scenes of one of his most splendid discoveries,
the Fitzroy Downs, and almost under the shadow of his well-named Mount
Abundance. The taste then obtained was sufficient to whet the appetite
for more, and the prosecution of this favourite study has issued in what
I may be permitted to call a tolerable acquaintance with the exploration
of Australia. About seven or eight years ago I wrote a series of papers
on this subject for the _Sydney Mail_, bringing the history down to the
expedition of Burke and Wills. The proprietors of that journal have
kindly permitted me to make use of my former articles in the preparation
of this work; but of this permission, for which I would here record my
thanks, I have availed myself only to a moderate extent. The whole has
been rewritten, some inadvertencies have been corrected, and the history
in its main outlines brought down to the present time. Although my
principal concern has been with the land explorers, I have, in the
introduction, given a sketch of the discoveries made on our coasts by
the navigators. So much was necessary to the completeness of my plan,
and also because the achievements of both to some extent dovetail into
one another. In the arrangement of the succeeding chapters I have
followed the chronological order, except in a very few cases where a
more important principle of classification will be obvious to the
reader.

As regards authorities, I have spared no pains to get at the original
sources of information, and have succeeded in all but a few unimportant
exceptions. In these cases I have derived some help from interviews with
surviving relatives of the explorers and several very old colonists. I
have also been indebted for further light to works of acknowledged merit
which have been for some time before the public - notably, to the Rev. J.
E. Tenison Woods's "Exploration of Australia," and to Mr. Howitt's
"Discoveries in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand." My best
acknowledgments are also due to the Honourable P. G. King, Esq., M.L.C.,
for the excellent notes he has written on the discoveries made by his
distinguished father, Admiral King.

That this small volume may be found to afford pleasant and profitable
reading is the earnest wish of

THE AUTHOR.

BALMAIN WEST, SYDNEY, _18th May, 1888_.




CONTENTS.


PAGE

INTRODUCTION - THE AUSTRALIAN NAVIGATORS 1

CHAPTER I.

THE PIONEERS OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS 25

CHAPTER II.

EVANS'S DISCOVERY OF THE LACHLAN AND MACQUARIE 34

CHAPTER III.

OXLEY'S EXPEDITION TO THE LACHLAN AND MACQUARIE 37

CHAPTER IV.

HUME AND HOVELL'S EXPEDITION FROM LAKE GEORGE TO PORT PHILLIP 45

CHAPTER V.

ALLAN CUNNINGHAM'S EXPLORATIONS 53

CHAPTER VI.

CAPTAIN STURT'S THREE EXPEDITIONS 66

CHAPTER VII.

EYRE'S ADVENTUROUS JOURNEY ALONG THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN BIGHT 96

CHAPTER VIII.

SIR THOMAS MITCHELL'S FOUR EXPEDITIONS 110

CHAPTER IX.

KENNEDY'S DISASTROUS EXPEDITION TO CAPE YORK 144

CHAPTER X.

LEICHHARDT'S EXPEDITIONS TO PORT ESSINGTON AND INTO THE INTERIOR 152

CHAPTER XI.

MR. A. C. GREGORY'S EXPEDITION TO THE NORTH-WEST INTERIOR 163

CHAPTER XII.

BURKE AND WILLS'S EXPEDITION ACROSS THE AUSTRALIAN CONTINENT 167

CHAPTER XIII.

SEARCH EXPEDITIONS IN QUEST OF BURKE AND WILLS 182

CHAPTER XIV.

JOHN M'DOUALL STUART'S EXPEDITIONS IN THE SOUTH, TO THE CENTRE, AND
ACROSS THE CONTINENT 194

CHAPTER XV.

COLONEL WARBURTON'S JOURNEY ACROSS THE WESTERN INTERIOR 210

CHAPTER XVI.

THE HON. JOHN FORREST'S EXPLORATIONS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA 219

CHAPTER XVII.

MR. ERNEST GILES'S EXPLORATIONS IN CENTRAL AND WESTERN AUSTRALIA 228

CHAPTER XVIII.

OTHER EXPLORERS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA - CONCLUSION 237




THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS.




INTRODUCTION: PIONEER NAVIGATORS.


The eastern coast of New Holland, as Australia was then called, was
discovered by Captain Cook, while engaged in the first of his voyages
round the world. Leaving Cape Farewell, in New Zealand, on the 13th of
March, 1770, and steering a north-westerly course, on the 18th of April
he found the new continent rise into view in one of its south-eastern
headlands, which was then named Point Hicks, but is now known as Cape
Conran, and reckoned within the territory of Victoria. Henceforward the
_Endeavour_ was navigated along the coast to its most northern limit. In
these southern waters no practicable landing-place was observed till
Botany Bay was reached. Here the good ship came to anchor, and nearly a
week was passed amidst the strangest sights and scenes. This brief
interlude being over, the northern voyage was resumed in quest of
further discoveries. Scarcely had the Botany Heads faded from the view
when another large inlet was sighted from the deck of the vessel, but,
unhappily, not visited. The point of observation being miserably
inadequate, the great navigator was all unconscious of his being abreast
of the finest harbour of the world, and having given it the name of Port
Jackson, in honour of a distinguished English friend, held on his course
without pause or delay. For a while all went well with the navigator,
but in an hour when no danger was expected a cry of "breakers ahead"
brought to everyone on board a sense of extreme peril. By dint of the
captain's superior seamanship, and his perfect command over the crew,
the ship was turned from the rocks in a critical moment, and the
expedition rescued from a disastrous termination. The locality of this
threatened calamity was marked by a projection of the land, overhung by
a conspicuous hill, to which Cook gave the respective names of Point
Danger and Mount Warning, positions which the reader will recognize as
now forming the coastal boundary between New South Wales and Queensland.
But the _Endeavour_ was not to finish her voyage without making a still
closer acquaintance with misfortune. Having unconsciously approached a
hidden danger in the far north, she landed bodily on a reef, and
sustained most serious damage. It was only after the sacrifice of much
valuable cargo that she could be floated, and then it taxed all the
skill of the captain and the utmost energies of his crew to bring her to
the nearest anchorage. The port of safety, reached with so much
difficulty, proved to be the mouth of a small river, which has since
borne the name of the Endeavour. The repair of the crazy vessel
occupied a period of six weeks, during which "Jack ashore" enjoyed
rather exciting holidays, making his first acquaintance with the
kangaroo and other grotesque oddities of the Australian fauna. Having
again put to sea, only one stage more remained, and this over, the great
navigator reached Cape York, the extreme northern limit of this new
territory. Cook succeeded in his object to a degree that must have
surpassed his most sanguine anticipations, and now took care that his
labours should not be in vain, but redound to the benefit of his
country. All that was wanting was a declaration of ownership, and this
he accordingly made on the spot: "As I am now about to quit the eastern
coast of New Holland, which I have coasted from 38° latitude to this
place, and which I am confident no European has ever seen before, I once
more hoist the English colours (although I have already taken possession
of the whole eastern coast by the name of New South Wales, from its
great similarity to that part of the principality of Wales), in the
right of my sovereign, George III., King of Great Britain."

This welcome gift fell into the hands of the nation in a time of need.
Transportation to Virginia having come to an end through the revolt of
the American colonies, the English gaols were being filled to overflow
with criminals, and a new outlet was imperatively required. Somewhere in
the world a place had to be found for a penal settlement. The
publication of Cook's discoveries came in the nick of time, and
delivered the Government from embarrassment. It was resolved accordingly
to establish a crown colony at Botany Bay, which had been fully and only
too favourably described by the circumnavigator. On the 18th of March,
1787, a fleet consisting of eleven ships, carrying 757 convicts and 200
soldiers, was despatched under the command of Captain Phillip, a retired
military officer. The voyage being somewhat circuitous, its destination
was not reached till the 18th of January following. Less than a week
sufficed to show that Cook's picture of Botany had more of colour than
correctness. The shores were found to be shallow, the roadstead exposed,
and the adjacent land ill suited to the purpose in view. Without loss of
time, the Governor, with his assistants, proceeded to examine the
capabilities of Port Jackson, which had been cursorily seen at a
distance by Cook and dismissed in a single sentence of his otherwise
copious narrative. The exploration issued in unmeasured satisfaction and
surprise. The party returned to the encampment with the tidings of a
harbour with a hundred coves, on the ample bosom of which all the navies
of Europe might ride at anchor. Orders to decamp were issued forthwith,
and the removal of the nascent colony was the work of but a day or two.
The spot selected for the permanent home is contiguous to the modern
Circular Quay, and was recommended for acceptance by a clear and limpid
stream that glided on its course underneath the indigenous copse. The
infant colony had its baptism of hardship, but was able to survive the
struggle for existence. The inauguration took place on the 7th of
February, 1788, when the settlement was formally proclaimed a crown
colony, in circumstances of no small state and ceremony.

The passion for discovery soon took possession of the new arrivals, and
the adventurous Governor placed himself in the front of this enterprise.
To us who live in times when Australia has ceased to be an unknown land,
their efforts in this direction may appear to have been small and the
results insignificant, but it should not be forgotten that the horizon
was at that time the limit of discovery, even in meagre outline, whilst
an accurate survey had scarcely proceeded a couple of miles beyond the
settlement. On the 2nd of May the Governor and party sailed off in the
long-boat for the purpose of exploring Broken Bay, which had been seen
and named by Captain Cook, but not entered. It proved to be the entrance
to a large river, expanding to an immense width, and abounding in
exquisite natural scenery. Having crossed the bar, three distinct
divisions of Broken Bay were explored, and to the last of which they
gave the name of Pitt Water, in honour of the far-famed English premier.
Next year this success was followed up with the exploration of the river
(the Hawkesbury) which here enters the sea. Large tracts of rich
alluvial land were found on both sides. In a short time hence these
fertile flats became the homes of an industrious agricultural
population, who frequently saved Sydney from the horrors of famine. This
voyage of discovery was continued as far as Richmond Hill (the
Kurrajong), from which position the chasm in the mountains was
distinctly seen, and the sentries which guard its entrance named the
Carmarthen and Lansdown Hills.

It was the exploration of the coast-line, however, that principally
engaged the attention of the infant colony, and for this work two men of
rare ability stepped to the front. In 1795, just seven years after the
foundation of the colony, Captain Hunter, having been appointed Governor
in succession to Captain Phillip, arrived in Port Jackson with the
_Reliance_ and the _Supply_, bringing George Bass as surgeon and Matthew
Flinders in the capacity of midshipman. These adventurous and truly
kindred spirits lost no time in girding themselves up for the work of
discovery. They had been barely a month in the country when the
colonists saw them start on their first expedition. Taking only a boy
for general service, and embarking in a boat not more than eight feet
long - very suitably named the _Tom Thumb_ - they sailed round to Botany
Bay, thence up George's River, which was now explored for 20 miles
beyond what was previously known. The results were, the opening up of
much available land and the commencement of a new settlement under the
name of Bankstown, which is still retained. But the success attending
this adventure was eclipsed by next year's discoveries, which were
achieved under similar difficulties. The tiny _Tom Thumb_, with its
crew of three all told, again left Port Jackson for the purpose of
examining a large river which was supposed to enter the ocean to the
south of Botany Bay. Having stood out to sea in order to catch the
current, the voyagers unwittingly passed the object of their search and
were carried far southward. Bad weather now supervened; the little craft
was tossed like a cork on the billows, and finally beached in a heavy
surf with the loss of many valuables on board. Being now in want of
water, the party were compelled to leave the rock-bound coast and steer
still further south, in the hope of finding a more favourable locality.
Eventually they cast anchor about two miles beyond the present town of
Wollongong, in an inlet which, in commemoration of this incident, still
bears the name of the Tom Thumb Lagoon. The blacks, it was ascertained,
called the district Allourie, which has, doubtless, been transformed
into the more euphonious Illawarra. On the homeward voyage Bass and
Flinders made a seasonable discovery of a snug little shelter, which
they called Providential Cove, but which is now generally known by the
native name, Wattamolla. About four miles further north they were
fortunate at last in hitting upon the real object of their search. It
proved to be a large sheet of water stretching several miles inland, and
presented the appearance of a port rather than a river. The natives
spoke of it as "Deeban," but it is now called Port Hacking, it is
believed in acknowledgment of the services of a pilot of that name.
Having accomplished far more than the object they had in view, the
daring seamen returned to Sydney Cove, after passing through a
succession of perils and privations which give to their narrative the
character, not of sober history, but of wild romance.

The next important expedition was carried out under the sole conduct of
Bass. On his own petition the Governor furnished him with a whale-boat,
carrying a crew of six seamen and provided with supplies for six weeks
only. With so slender an equipment this born adventurer sailed from Port
Jackson on a voyage of 600 miles, along a little-known and possibly
perilous coast. One lovely summer evening, which happened to be the 3rd
of December, 1797, the little whaler with its stout-hearted crew bore
round the South Head, and bravely turned its prow towards its unknown
destination. Scarcely had the familiar landmarks dropped out of sight
when the elements engaged in tempestuous fury, and the storm drove the
adventurers to seek shelter first at Port Hacking, next at Wattamolla,
and again near Cook's Red Point, on the Illawarra coast. The headland,
under the lee of which the vessel took refuge, stands a little to the
south of Lake Illawarra, and still bears the name of Bass' Point. Not
long after the voyage was resumed he discovered the embouchure of a
river in an inferior harbour, which he called Shoalhaven, believing it
deserved no better name. Jervis Bay was next entered, but this was no
discovery, for it had been previously explored by Lieutenant Bowen,
whose name is still preserved in an island lying near the entrance.
Bass, however, had the good luck to discover Twofold Bay - a scene of
never-failing beauty, and a place of importance in our early history.
Passing rapidly southward he rounded Cape Howe, and first noticed the
Long Beach, but was unable to identify Point Hicks. He was now 300 miles
from Sydney, and whatever remained of the voyage was along an absolutely
unknown coast. Some important discoveries were made at various points,
but the most valuable portion of his labours was the exploration of
Western Port. Here he remained thirteen days, during which this
commodious harbour was carefully examined and fully described. A leading
object of the voyage had been to settle the question of the suspected
insularity of Van Diemen's Land. Bass had really solved the problem
without knowing it, for he had passed through the strait which now bears
his name. That it was detached from the continent his own bearings
rendered almost a certainty. To do more was impossible in the
circumstances. He had already been seven weeks from Sydney, which had
been left with only six weeks' provisions. These, though eked out by an
occasional supply of fish and fowl, were nearly exhausted, and the
homeward voyage was made on the shortest course. During an absence of
eleven weeks he had examined the coast for 600 miles south of Port
Jackson, the latter half of which had been utterly unknown up to the
time of this expedition.

There still remains for review another memorable voyage of discovery,
undertaken by Bass and Flinders conjointly in the year 1798. The object
of this expedition was to demonstrate the existence of the probable
strait and the consequent insularity of Van Diemen's land; and the way
it was proposed to accomplish this double object was to sail through the
channel and circumnavigate the island. Bent on this adventure Bass and
Flinders left Sydney Cove on the 7th October, in the _Norfolk_, a good
sea-going sloop of 25 tons burthen. The run over the known waters was
made purposely in haste, because the time was limited. Their cruise in
the channel disclosed a large number of islands, the haunts of myriads
of sea-fowl, particularly the sooty petrel, which, though far from
savoury, served as an article of food. This strange bird was found, like
the rabbit, to burrow in the ground, where it was easily captured in the
evening. Flinders says it was simply necessary to thrust in the whole
length of the arm into the hole, whence one would be almost certain to
bring out a petrel - or a snake. The alternative was not a pleasant one,
but the commander had to husband up the provisions and the sailors were
not unwilling to run the risk. The circumnavigation of Van Diemen's Land
(Tasmania) commenced at the northern point, known as Cape Portland.
Nothing specially remarkable occurred till a point was reached which
they named Low Head, immediately after which the _Norfolk_ entered an
arm of the sea more than a mile in width. This appeared to be a
discovery of sufficient importance to devote sixteen days to its
exploration. It proved to be the embouchure of what is now known as the
River Tamar, on which Launceston, the second town of the island, is
built. The discoverers sailed up the estuary, following its course for
many miles inland. It was found to be alive with aquatic fowls,
particularly black swans, sometimes numbering 500 in a flock. This
unexpected diversion proved rich sport, and afforded a pleasant
interlude to the monotony of life at sea. But the expedition was not for
play, but work, and the ship was again upon her course. After a short
sail to the westward they found themselves rounding the north-west cape,
and with glad hearts could perceive the shore trending away for many a
league to the south. The problem was already virtually solved.
"Mr. Bass and myself," says Flinders, "hailed it with joy and mutual
congratulation, as announcing the completion of our long-wished-for
discovery of a passage into the southern Indian Ocean." This fortunate
issue of their labours marked an epoch both in the history of discovery
and the progress of international commerce. The circuitous route round
the south of Van Diemen's Land could henceforth be avoided, and in our
day the intervening strait has become the ordinary highway for the
Australian trade. It being still deemed advisable to carry out the
instructions to the letter, the circumnavigation of the island was
prosecuted with varying interest. In the southern parts some valuable
discoveries were made, and errors of previous observers corrected. In
consequence of unfavourable weather the run along the eastern coast was
made for the most part out of sight of land, but on the 6th of January
it was found they had completely rounded Van Diemen's Land, and so
brought their work to an end. The time allotted for the expedition
having also expired, the heroic navigators returned to Sydney, bringing


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Online LibraryGeorge GrimmThe Australian explorers; their labours, perils, and achievements: being a narrative of discovery, from the landing of Captain Cook to the centennial year → online text (page 1 of 15)