John Dunmore Lang.

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the stream. 'Tis, however, asserted by those more familiar with
the subject than I am, that if the Richmond Bar be occasionally
shallow, it is always very short, and that the other difficulties to
which I have alluded would prove no impediment to a tolerably
powerful steamer. The river, after passing the bar, though it is



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54 ' COOKSLAND.

much more narrow, more tortuous, and more frequently inter-
rupted by islands than the Clarence, is notwithstanding quite ac-
cessible either to sailing or steam vessels to the distance of about
fifty miles from its mouth ; at which point it diverges into two
different branches, one flowing from the north, the other from
the west : and though both of these are navigable for about thirty
miles, their average width is not more than one hundred and
fifty yards. So exceedingly serpentine is the Richmond River
throughout its entire course, that a vessel, after threading its
mazes (as it is possible for it to do) for nearly eighty miles, finds
itself at last not more than fifteen miles distant from that point,
at which, leaving the ocean, it first entered upon its waters.

The description which I have given of the country in the
vicinity of the Clarence, will, with little exception, be equally ap-
Hcable to that on the banks of the Richmond ; the only difference
being that where I have employed the word Flat, in speaking of
the former, I should use the epithet Plain, when alluding to the
corresponding localities on the latter — a distinction to which their
vastly greater size, and almost total exemption from timber,
justly entitles them. Indeed so great is their extent, that the
river flows through an almost perfectly level valley, (seldom less
than twelve miles wide,) for at least forty miles ; nature display-
ing an inexhaustible fertility in the soil adjacent to its course,
though in proportion as you recede from its banks, the land be-
comes less rich, and vegetation assumes a less luxuriant aspect.
A striking peculiarity in these plains arises from the circum-
stance, that although surrounded by trees of a hundred varieties,
still, in surveying their vastness, the eye seeks in vain for even a
single shrub upon which to rest ; whether it be that nature has
denied the germs of trees to these fertile localities, or whether
they were once covered with forests subsequently destroyed,
forms a question rather difficult to resolve ; as the country on
the banks of the Richmond is in general plentifully supplied with
water, even below the point at which the river ceases to be fresh.
It would be altogether absurd, my endeavouring to indicate any
particular situation, as being more eligible than another ; let it,
therefore, suffice to say, (and I am sure I do not speak unadvis-
edly when I assert,) that there is a sufficiency of land of the most
astonishingly fertile nature, in the valley of the Richmond, to
afford ample scope for the entire surplus population of Britain,
even without infringing to any injurious extent upon^the rights
of the Squatter.

The productions of every country in an agricultural point of
view, (with the exception perhaps of the valley of the Nile, and
a few others where irrigation is had recourse to,) depending not
less on the climate, than on the quality of the soil, I conceive
that an effort to describe the cHmate, throughout the district of
Qarence River, will not be exceeding the limits of the informa-
tion you require. An almost complete realization of Fenelon's
conception, with reference to Calypso's isle, is exhibited in the



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THE THREE SOUTHERN RIVERS. 55

climate gq the Clarence, as without any great degree of hyper-
bole, a perpetual spring may be said to prevail during the entire
year ; for so mild are the seasons, that vegetation remains un-
checked even in the midst of the so-called winter. Rain is abun-
dant, so much so as to give rise to the opinion that the district is
unsuited for pastoral purposes, at least so far as sheep are con-
cerned. Frost is very unfrequent, and never intense. As may be
inferred from its geographical position, the heat in summer is
considerable, but an excess of two or three days is almost invari-
ably succeeded by thunder showers, which for a time, cool and
render invigorating the air, occasionally causing an extraordi-
narily rapid change of temperature, the thermometer having been
frequently known to vwy not less than forty degrees in the space
of twelve hours. This sudden caprice of temperature is, however,
not in the least creative of unhealthiness ; on the contrary, I am
satisfied there is no part of New South Wales, however justly
it may be famed for the salubrity of its climate, which is more
conducive to the health of the human body than the district of
Clarence River ; indeed most others must be confessed to yield to
it in this respect, inasmuch as the never fading mantle of green,
in which it is perpetually clothed, shields its inhabitants from
those ophthalmic diseases so prevalent in other parts of the
Colony. Were it necessary to adduce any corroboration of this
truth, I need only refer to the unsuccessful effort of a medical
practitioner to establish himself in the district ; who, though emi-
nent both for professional talent and amenity of manner, was
obliged to abandon the undertaking after a fruitless attempt, pro-
tracted for upwards of two years : his failure solely arising from
the almost entire absence of disease ; as it cannot be imagined,
that a population amounting to nearly a thousand souls, and pos-
sessed of one hundred and fifty thousand sheep, and thirty thou-
sand cattle, would be unable sufficiently to remunerate him, were
his services required.

Your having recently visited Moreton Bay, and of course
made yourself familiar with the productive capabilities of that
district, renders unnecessary my entering into an enumeration of
the possible productions of this, which is in every respect so simi-
lar to it. As, however, the ultimate prospects of the immigrant,
(wherever he may be placed,) will be, in some measure, propor-
tionate to the prosperity of the neighbourhood in which he is situ-
ated, it may not be irrelevant adding my conviction, that in the
event of the land being thrown open for sale on the banks of the
Clarence, that river must speedily attain a position of very con-
siderable importance ; as it will not be dependent alone upon the
trade of the district with which it is connected, but all the north-
em part of New England will be obliged to have recoui"se to its
waters, for the purpose of shipping their commodities and receiving
their supplies. Even at present the wealth derivable from nearly
three hundred thousand sheep, and forty thousand cattle, finds
its way to Sydney through the medium of the Clarence ; and if it



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56 COOKSLAND.

be borne in mind that this trade, considerable as it certainly is,
has been the growth of the last six years, what may not be anti-
cipated from the future, under a revised system of administering
Crown Lands 1 On the whole, a four years' residence in the
district has confirmed me in the opinion, that no country ever
came from the hands of its Creator more eminently qualified to
be the abode of a thriving and numerous population, than the
one of which I have been speaking ; and in forming this estimate
I have been uninfluenced either by prejudice, or by interest, be-
ing no way connected with it, save in that arising from my offi-
ciaJ capacity.

The third of the three navigable rivers in the terri-
tory of Cooksland, to the southward of Moreton Bay,
is the Tweed. It was discovered by Mr. Oxley, Sur-
veyor-General of New South Wales, in the year 1823;
and the following account of the discovery is from the
pen of John Uniacke, Esq., one of Mr. Oxley's party on
the occasion :

« While running down for this place, [a small island off Point
Danger, to which they were steering for shelter from a storm,]
we perceived the mouth of a large river about a mile and a half
to the northward, and next morning the master was despatched
in the whale boat to ascertain the possibility of taking the vessel
into it. The master reported that he had examined the entrance,
and found two fathoms on the bar at low water, with deep water and
secure anchorage farther in. As the river appeared to run from
the southward, and parallel with the shore for some distance, it
was agreed that the mate should go after breakfast with a boat
into the river, until opposite where the vessel lay, when we were
to join him by land, and proceed to the examination of the upper
part of the river. * * The part of it where we found the
boat extended over a large flat, being in many places above a
mile broad, interspersed with numerous low mangrove islands,
and very shallow except in the channel, where we found from
nine to two fathoms water.

" The country on either side was very hilly and richly wooded,
and the view altogether beautiful beyond description. Having
wandered out of the channel, we with some difficulty proceeded
about four miles, when the river assumed a different appearance,
being contracted to a quarter of a mile in width, with five fa-
thoms water all across ; the banks also wore a different aspect,
being free from mangroves ; the soil seemed richer, and the
timber evidently improved in size and quality. The scenery here
exceeded anything I had previously seen in Australia— extend-
ing for miles along a deep rich valley, clothed with magnificent
treeSy the beautiful uniformity of which was only interrupted by



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THE THREE SOUTHERN RIVERS. 57

the turns and windings of the river, which here and there ap-
peared like small lakes, while in the back ground Mount Warn-
ing (the highest land in New South Wales) reared|its barren and
singularly shaped peak, forming a striking contrast with the rich-
ness of the intermediate scenery.

^ It was now agreed that the mate and crew should remain
with the boat in the river, where we had joined them, all night,
and that Mr. Oxley and I should return on board to sleep, and
come back with Mr. Stirling at daylight. However, just as we
were preparing to land, the wind suddenly shifted to the south-
west, and as it seemed likely to continue steady in that point,
Mr. Oxley thought it imprudent to lose the advantage of it, and
therefore deferred exploring the river further till our return.
The signal was accordingly made for the boat to return on board,
and all hands were employed in getting the vessel under way.
The little island under which we lay received the name of Turtle
Island, in gratitude for the abundant supply of that fish we pro-
cured from it. We also gave the name of the ** Tweed " to the
river. The latitude of our anchorage is 28® 8' S., and its longi-
tude 1530 31' 30" East."*

This river was visited and still further explored, in
the year 1828, by the Honourable Captain Rous, R.N.,
whose account of it, published at the time in the late
Australian Quarterly Journal, is as follows :

" The river Tweed, discovered by Mr. Oxley, but not explored,
is in Lat. 28° 9' Long. ISS** 34', bearing N.W. \ W. from Turtle
Island, distant 24 miles. It is situated to the southward of a
bluff-head, connected with the main by a fiat sandy isthmus, 250
yards wide from high-water-mark, forming a boundary to the
river on the one side, and to a capacious bay to the northward,
affording good anchorage and shelter from east southerly to north.
The entrance to the river is about 100 yards wide, ten feet on the
bar at high water, the channel being the deepest on the north
shore. Six feet rise of tide, 44 feet abreast the isthmus, de-
creasing gradually as you ascend the river. Having passed the
bar you deepen to 15 feet, and the river branches off in two
channels, one S.E. by S., the other, winding round two sand banks
to the westward, rejoins the main body, where an arm strikes off
to the W.S.W. about seven miles, terminating in mangrove



* Narrative of Mr. Oxley's Expedition to survey Port Curtis,
&c., by John Uniacke, Esq., contained in Geographical Memoirs
on New South Wales. By various hands. Edited by Barron
Field, Esq., late Judge of the Supreme Court of New South
Wales. London, 1825.



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08 COOKSLAND,

swamps and a 'shallow lagoon. The river then flowing from
S.S.E. to W.S.W., is navigable for loaded boats about 30 miles^
the average depth at high water being 9 feet It then separates
to N.W., where the navigation is stopped by a narrow gravel
bank dry at low water ; and 2^ miles to the S.W. it is impeded
by an island with a shallow passage on each side, choked with
dead timber. In both arms the water again deepens, after pas-
sing these obstacles. The banks are generally very high on rocky
foundations, covered with thick forest, — Moreton pmes, cedar,
fig-trees, palms, and a variety of gum trees, in many places im-
penetrable from the thick foliage of the native vines. The adja-
cent country ranges of thickly wooded hills are backed to the
west and S.W. by lofty mountams. Mount Warning is very
conspicuous—S. W. 4 S.(compass bearing) at least 20 miles farther
inland than the place allotted to it in the maps ; under whose base,
it is probable that this river derives its source.

The Clarence is 380 miles from Sydney ; the Rich-
mond 420 ; and the Tweed 465 ; while the Tweed is
only 60 miles distant from the northern entrance of
Moreton Bay, and the spot I have indicated for the fu-
ture commercial capital of Cooksland ; the Richmond
100, and the Clarence 140. It is evident, therefore,
that it would be incomparably more conducive to the
convenience, the comfort, and the benefit of the future
population of these three rivers, which, there is every
reason to believe, will at no distant period be very nu-
merous, to be bound up, so to speak, in one volume
with the community of Moreton Bay, than with that
of Sydney. Small steam-boats, of 100 tons or thereby,
could ply between the northern capital and each of
these rivers, with the same facility as the passage is
now made by such steam-boats between Sydney and
Hunter's River ; performing the ocean part of the voy-
age during the night, and running up and down the
rivers during the day. But the voyage to Sydney
would be a serious affair, and would not be thought of
but on occasions of great emergency. There is another
consideration, however, of still greater importance, in
such a question, than mere distance. The coast, for
nearly three hundred miles of the whole distance to
Sydney from the Clarence River, is an iron-bound coast,
presenting no place of refuge, no available harbour in



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THE THREE SOUTHERN RIVERS. 59

cases of distress, as from a violent gale blowing dead
in upon the land. In such cases the unfortunate vessel
must either keep the sea at all hazards, or be wrecked.
But there is much less reason to apprehend being caught
in such gales on the comparatively shorter voyages be-
tween these three rivers and the northern capital ; be-
sides, there is safe anchorage under Cape Byron, close
to the entrance of the Richmond River, and also under
Turtle Island, close to the entrance of the Tweed.

The reader may perhaps suppose that I have argued
this point more minutely and at greater length than
the case requires ; but as the most determined opposi-
tion was shewn very recently in New South Wales,
both in the Legislative Council of that colony and out
of it, to the separation of Port Phillip, although every
consideration both of reason and justice was strongly
in favour of that measure, I deemed it advisable to set
the case in its proper light from the first, as I anti-
cipate precisely the same opposition in the same quar-
ters to any attempt, however accordant with reason
and justice, to separate the Clarence, the Richmond,
and the Tweed Rivers from that colony, and to consti-
tute the territory of Cooksland a separate and indepen-
ent colony.



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CHAPTER ni.

The Brisbane River.

lUe terrarum mihi praeter omnes
Angulus ridet ; ubi non Hymetto
Mella decedunt, viridique certat

Bacca Venafro ;
Ver ubi longum, tepidasque praebet
Jupiter brumas, et amicus Aulon
Fertili Baccho minimum Falemis

Invidet uvis.

HORAT. Od. II. 6.

Fair land ! where smiling Summer reigns

Throughout the livelong year,
Nor gloomy Winter's shivering trains

Of frosts and snows appear ;
Hymettian sweets, Falernian wine.
Were not to be compared with thine.

Horace in Australia.

On his return to Sydney from his examination of
Port Curtis, and his discovery of the Boyne River, in
the month of November 1823, Mr. Surveyor-General
Oxley anchored in Bribie's Island Passage, the Pum-
ice-Stone River of Captain Flinders. " Scarcely was
the anchor let go," observes his fellow-traveller, Mr.
Uniacke, '^ when we perceived a number of natives, at
the distance of about a mile, advancing rapidly towards
the vessel; and on looking at them with the glass from
the mast-head, I observed one who appeared much
larger than the rest, and of a lighter colour, being a



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THE BRISBANE RIVER. 61

light copper, while all the others were black. This I
pointed out to Mr. Stirling, so that we were all on the
look-out when they approached; and to our surprise
and satisfaction, when opposite the vessel, the man
hailed us, in English. The boat was immediately
launched, and Messrs. Oxley, Stirling, and I went
ashore in her. While approaching the beach, the
natives shewed many signs of joy, dancing and em-
bracing the white man, who was nearly as wild as they.
He was perfectly naked, and covered all over with
white and red paint, which the natives make use of.
His name, it appears, was Thomas Pamphlet : he had
left Sydney on the 21st March last in an open boat, to
bring cedar from the Five Islands, about ^hy miles to
the south of Port Jackson. There were three others
with him ; but the boat being driven out to sea by a
gale of vrind, they had suffered inconceivable hardships,
being twenty-one days without water, during which
time one of them died of thirst, and they had at length
been wrecked on Moreton Island, which forms one
side of Moreton Bay, in the upper part of which we
were now lying. He was so bewildered with joy that
we could make very little out of his story that night ;
so having distributed a few knives, handkerchiefs, &c.,
among the friendly blacks, we returned on board, tak-
ing him with us. He now informed us, that his two
surviving companions, Richard Parsons and John Fin-
negan, after having travelled in company with him to
the place where we found him, had, about six weeks
before, resolved to prosecute their way towards Sydney;
that he had accompanied them about fifty miles, but
that his feet becoming so sore that he was unable to
travel further, he had resolved to return to the blacks,
with whom we found him, and who had before treated
him with great kindness ; that a few days after they
parted, Parsons and Finnegan having quarrelled, the
latter also returned, and had since remained with him,
but had been absent the last fortnight with the chief
of the tribe on a hunting expedition, and that Parsons
had not been heard of since his departure. Mr. Oxley,



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62 COOKSLAND.

on hearing that Finnegan was gone towards the south
end of the bay, resolved to seek him on Monday morn-
ing, and hoped, by keeping along the shore, and occa-
sionally firing a musket, to be able to find him. But
on Sunday afternoon, at low water, a man was observed
walking out on a sand-bank, from the opposite shore
towards us, and holding in his hand a long stick with
a skin on it ; upon which, I took the whale-boat and
pulled towards him, when it proved to be Finnegan.
Both he and Pamphlet concurring in a story they told
us of A LARGE RIVER which they had crossed^ falling
into the south-end of the Bay, Messrs, Oxley and Stirling
started next morning in the whale-boat, tcJcing Finnegan
with them, and four dayi provisions, in order to eccplore
it*

It was scarcely fair in Mr. Oxley to take no notice of
this very important fact, in the following account of his
discovery, forsooth, of the Brisbane River, contained in
his Report to His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane.
It was in reality not Mr. Oxley, but these two poor un-
fortunate shipwrecked men who discovered it, and re-
ported their discovery to him. He only verified that
report, and followed it up. But Mr. O. is not the only
geographical explorer in Australia who,

Turk-like, could bear no brother near the throne.
It seems to be a fiimily-failing.

" I sailed from this port (Sydney) in His Majesty's cutter Mer-
maid, on the 23rd of October, 1823 ; and early on the 2nd day
of December following, when examining Moreton Bay, we had
the satisfaction to find the tide sweeping us up a considerable in-
let between the first mangrove island and the mainland. The mud-
diness and taste of the water, together with the abundance of
fresh water mulluscse, assured us we were entering a large river ;
and a few hours ended our anxiety on that point, by the water be-
coming perfectly fresh, while no diminution had taken place in
the size of the river after passing what I called Sea Reach,

^ Our progress up the river was necessarily retarded by the
necessity we were under of making a running survey during our



Uniacke's Observations, ubi supra.

Digitized by VjOOQ IC



THE BRISBANE RIVER. 63

passage. At sunset we had proceeded about twenty miles up the
river. The scenery was peculiarly beautiful ; the country along
the banks alternately hilly and level, but not flooded ; the soil of
the finest description of brushwood»land, on which grew timber
of great magnitude and of various species, some of which were
unsown to us. Among others, a magnificent species of pine was
in great abundance. The timber on the hills was also good ; and
to the southeast, a little distance from the river, were several
brushes or forests of the cupressus attstraliSf of a very large size.
*< Up to this point the river was navigable for vessels not draw-
ing more than sixteen feet water. The tide rose about five feet,
being the same as at the entrance. The next day the examina-
tion was resumed, and with increased satisfaction. We proceeded
about thirty miles farther, no diminution having taken place either
in the breadth or depth of the river, excepting m one place for the
extent of about thirty yards, where a ridge of detached rocks ex-
tended across, having not more than twelve feet on them at high
water. From this point to Termination Hill, the river continued
of nearly uniform size. The country on either side is of a very
superior description, and equally well adapted for cultivation or
grazing ; the timber being abundant, and fit for all the purposes
of domestic use or exportation. The pine-trees, if they should
prove of good quality, were of a scantling sufficient for the top-
masts of large ships. Some measured upwards of thirty inches
in diameter, and from fifty to eighty feet without a branch.

« The boat's crew were so exhausted by their continued exer-
tions under a vertical sun, that 1 was reluctantly compelled to re-
linquish my intention of proceeding to the termination of tide-
water at this time. At this place the tide rose but four feet six
inches, the force of the ebb-tide and current together being little
greater than the flood-tide, — a proof of its flowing through a very
level country. Having concluded on terminating at this point the
examination of the river — ^being seventy miles from the vessel, and
our stock of provisions expended, not having anticipated such a
discovery — I landed on the south shore for the purpose of examin-
ing the surrounding country. On ascending a low hill, rising
about twenty -five feet above the level of the river, we saw a dis-
tant mountain, which I conjectured to be the High Peak of Cap-
tain Flinders, bearing south 1 J east, distant from twenty-five to
thirty miles. Round from this point to tlie north-west the coun-
try declined considerably in elevation, and had much the ap-
pearance of extended plains and low undulating hills, well, but
not heavily, wooded. The only elevations of magnitude were
some hills seven or eight hundred feet high, which we had passed
to the northward. The appearance and mrmation of the country,
the slowness of the current, even at ebb tide, and the depth of .
the water, induced me to conclude that the river would be found
navigable for vessels of burden to a much greater distance, pro-
bably not less than fifty miles. There was no appearance of the



Online LibraryJohn Dunmore LangCooksland in north-eastern Australia: the future cottonfield of Great ... → online text (page 6 of 47)