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3 corrections, most recently by juliaj - Show corrections

Exploration.

From the De Grey to Port Darwin.

JOURNAL OF EXPLORATION :

BY

ALEXANDER FORREST, F.R.G.S.

[Continued.]

May 25. (Sunday.)

Rested in camp and read prayers. Ten na- tives came in this morning and remained with us all day, many others being occasionally visible in the distance and apparently too timid to approach. The weather was very cloudy, with every appearance of rain.

May 26.

Steering N.E. this morning, we came to a splendid grassy plain intersected by a large dry river which we had some trouble to cross. Continuing through the same kind of fine country for six miles more we reached a swamp, very deep and with abnndance of wild fowl, where we camped. From this plain in every direction magnificent level lands extend, — the best I have seen yet on the Fitzroy. From the camp there is a fine view of the St. George ranges ; I also see a high hill to the N.E. and a low wooded range to the Eastward. Shot a

number of ducks. Marked tree F 90.

May 27.

It was cloudy last night, and light showers fell; this morning also there is every appear- ance of rain. I started the party off in a North Easterly direction, taking a more Northerly course myself with Pierre. After riding a mile we struck the Fitzroy, which was still running strong, and was about ten chains wide. I was much surprised to find that nearly 200 miles from the coast it was still such a size. We left the river and struck across to meet the party, afterwards travelling with them for about twelve miles through grassy flats to a sandstone hill which I named Mt. Campbell, after John Campbell a member of the expedition. Leav- ing this hill we bore N.E. for a short distance, till we came to a small creek with pools of fresh water in it, where we camped.

From Mt. Campbell this afternoon, I took a round of angles. To the Southward were low broken ranges, and to the Northward high ones; the country to the East being clear level and grassy, while to the South spinifex cov- ered the broken hüls. Marked a tree F 91.

Lat. of camp, 18 deg. 16 min. 40 sec. by mer.

alt, A. Crucis.

May 28.  

Steering North this morning we came to a swamp filled with permanent water, and cover- ed with wild fowl, at which place we shot a large number of ducks. Six miles farther on we crossed a river ten chains wide, an affluent of the Fitzroy, and running towards the N.E. Three miles more brought us again to the main stream, and following it up for a short distance we came to another large affluent, run- ning strong and rather difficult to cross. Hav- ing successfully passed over it, we camped at the junction of this river with the Fitzroy. The country was good and level, studded with white gums and acacias.

This afternoon, I took a walk up the Fitzroy with Mr. Hill and Campbell; half a mile from the camp a sandstone range, from which the river issued, barred our further progress. We attempted to follow up the gorge, but the hills became so rough and rugged, and the ravines so deep, that walking was impossible, and we were obliged to return. The range forms high cliffs on both sides of the river, which here is at least ten chains wide and very deep. The Eastern range I have named Oscar Range, after King Oscar of Sweden. I intend remaining here for a few days, with the object of exploring the country to the Eastward for a practical route through this rough range.

Found lat. of camp to be 18 deg. 3 min 12 sec. by mer. alt. of Arcturus.

May 29.

After some trouble we managed to cross the Fitzroy this morning, the water coming up to our saddle flaps. I instructed Mr. Hill to fol- low up the West bank as far as he could, and to see whether he could discover a road through the range. In the meantime, I re-crossed the river myself, and with Hicks and Pierre pro- ceeded up the affluent at the junction of which with the main body of the Fitzroy we are camped. This stream was coming from the

South East, and after following it up for three   miles we came to a spot where it forked out, one branch running away to the Fitzroy on a more westerly course than the one we had traced. This branch was the same we crossed yesterday on the way to our present camp.

I now struck out towards the East for ten miles, then South for a few miles more, till I reached some sandstone hills, and from the top of one of these I obtained a view of the country round, and was able to sketch the river's course. In an easterly and southerly direction, for some miles, nothing could be seen but low rugged sandstone hills covered with spinifex, but to the North, clear grassy plains were visible and a high and magnificent range. As I found that the rugged spinifex-covered high lands which stopped our progress np the Fitzroy came to an end ten miles from our halting place, I deemed it unnecessary to proceed any farther, and we returned to the camp which we reached at 9 o'clock, having travelled about forty miles.

Mr. Hill reports that he followed up the main stream some miles till the high cliffs blocked his further progress with the horses. He got a glimpse, however, of the same fertile plains which I had myself seen this morning. The large branch up which we went I have named the Margaret river after my sister-in-law, Mrs.

John Forrest.

May 30.

Travelled S.E. and E. to-day for about ten miles, skirting the foot of the range, the country very rough, covered with spinifex and intersected with numerous streams which issue

out of deep gorges in the hills. We then turned to the North through the same broken ground till we reached a running stream, on the banks of which we camped. Looking out towards the East and North, high bold ranges seem completely to shut us in. These form, no doubt, the water sheds of the Glenelg, Prince Regent, and Fitzroy rivers, and it is my intention to proceed from here N.N.W. for the purpose of discovering the head waters of one or other of them. We saw large numbers of boab trees to-day, some of them growing right in among the rocks. Marked tree F 94. fat. of camp, 17 deg. 55 min. 10 sec. by mer. alt. of A. Crucis

and Arcturus.

May 31.

Steering N.N.W. we soon came to the Fitz- roy, and followed it up for four miles. I then tried to cross the horses to the opposite bank. We got the riding horses through, the water coming up to their saddle flaps ; but I was ob- liged to abandon the idea of doing the same with the pack horses ; so we continued on the South side, crossing numerous streams which ran into the river, and in several of which our horses got bogged, till we came to a large creek upon which we camped, about half a mile dis- tant from the main stream. The country we passed through was well grassed; the good feed however extends but a short distance back, and is succeeded by rocky hills, covered with spinifex, or cane-grass, growth. To-day, for the first time since leaving the De Grey, the forma- tion of the country was granitic.

About eight miles from here the Fitzroy is- sues out of deep gorges cut in the high range which blocks our view, and which it would be impossible for us to follow up ; to-day, even, we had great difficulty in crossing the deep creeks and ravines which continually intersect- ed our course. Marked tree F 95. Lat. of camp, 17 deg. 47 min. 20 sec. by mer. alt. of A. Crucis

and Arcturus.

June 1.

We had very broken and difficult ground to contend with this morning, as we continued our course up the river, but with some little trouble we found a ford and crossed the Fitzroy about four miles North of our last night's camp. It was nearly noon by the time we got all the horses over, so we camped, our last camp, upon

the river.

To-morrow we bid good-bye to the Fitzroy, which we have followed now for 240 miles. The longest and largest river in Western Aus- tralia, it flows through magnificent flats, which contain about four millions of pastoral lands, and are capable of depasturing at least a mil- lion of sheep, a larger number than the whole of the settled portions of the colony now carry. During the months of December, January, Feb- ruary, and March, however, great care would have to be taken, and the stock must neces- sarily be removed to higher ground, as the whole extent of these flats during the rains are more or less flooded, and no doubt very boggy. From here we proceed N.N.W. with the view, if possible, of reaching the Glenelg.

Marked tree F 96.

June 2.

Leaving the river, we steered N.W. this morning, up a grassy creek with high hills on each side of us. After some delay, tacking in and out through the different passes, we at length reached a good-sized tributary of the Fitzroy, and followed it up for about four miles in a Northerly direction through rough and hilly ground. This stream was running strong, and we noticed its floodmarks high up the stems of the many palm trees that grew upon its banks. Leaving the river, we wended our way along grassy flats, granite ranges fencing us in on either side. Seven miles farther on we crossed another small creek running to- wards the S.W., and camped upon its banks, both men and horses being very tired, for much of the ground passed over to-day was rough and difficult, hundreds of little gullies inter- secting our path, all running towards the Fitz- roy and most of them apparently permanent.

The flats between the many hills and ridges were well grassed. Ten miles off, the great dividing range stands boldly out, bearing N.N.W. From this range, no doubt, all the main stream waters of the Fitzroy flow. I took a round of angles this afternoon, and, as far as I could see ahead, the granite rocks extended. Taking observations was however a trying pro- cess, as my eyes are very sore and weak ; Camp- bell's also are so bad that he can scarcely see. Marked tree F 97. Lat. of camp, 17 deg. 47

min. 51 sec.

June 3.

This morning the horses strayed back for about five miles, and we did not start till noon. Travelling about six miles N.W. we came to a running stream about three chains wide, upon the banks of which we camped. Tne country on our route to-day was very rough, though the flats are well grassed and watered.

June 4.

This morning we were obliged to shoot a horse belonging to Mr. McLean, also to leave behind one belonging to the Government, which was so knocked up that he could no longer travel, although he had carried nothing since leaving Roebuck Bay. Steering N W. for about five miles we came to a good sized creek, which was running towards the South. We followed it up for a short distance, but were obliged to return as the ground became too rough to travel. Two miles farther on, another one was crossed, and, a short distance beyond, another one again, which gave us some trouble to get over, as its bed was very rocky and its current very strong. A mile on the other side of this creek we camped. These streams are all run- ning, although it must be months since any rain has fallen. Our horses are very tired from travelling over this rough country, and the

rocks have knocked off several shoes.

June 5.

We rested in camp to-day, for Campbell's eyes and my own were too bad to enable us to travel without great discomfort. Carey also was ill with low fever. Lat. 17 deg. 29 min.

27 sec.

June 6.

We started on again to-day, steering N.W. and came to another good-sized stream a short distance from our camp. Five miles farther on a large sized river barred our way, running fast and strong. We crossed it, and camped a mile beyond in a grassy flat at the foot of the great dividing range. A high peak towers above us, which Hicks and I this afternoon attempted to ascend ; but when within 200 feet of the summit we found it impossible to proceed, a wall of rock rising up so precipitously as to make it altogether inaccessible. This was par- ticularly annoying, for it had given us an hour's hard work to make our way as far as the point we reached. The height of this peak is about 2,000 feet above the level of the sea. I named this range King Leopold Range, after King Leopold of Belgium, for the great interest taken by His Majesty in exploration. My eyes are rather better to-day, and Carey's health has greatly improved. Marked tree F 101. Lat. of camp, 17 deg. 23 min. 12 sec.

June 7.

We tried this morning to skirt along the foot of the high range ; the ground however soon became too broken to travel, so we turned down

a deep gully which we followed towards the   South for about two miles. Perpendicular cliffs rose up on each side of the stream. Escaping from this gully, we turned along N.W. for seven miles, keeping clear of the rougher ground and passing over grassy flats. The banks of a fine running stream provided a good camping place.

All the hills around are clothed with abundant and excellent grass right up to their summits. We ascended one higher than the rest, and as far as the eye could reach the same mountain- ous country extended, while the main range was now trending more to the Northward. We met with several new botanical species to-day, and many kinds of acacia. Rough as this count- ry is, as feeding ground it is first rate, and there is no lack of permanent springs.

June 8.

We followed down the stream on which we had camped for about tour miles, and then turned off into a grassy flat, steering N.W. across it. Another stream ran through this flat, trending S.W., and three miles beyond it we came upon a river three chains wide, and run- ning fast. Here we camped, and in the afternoon ascended a high quartz peak to take a round of angles. The country ahead appears to be a mass of hills and ranges ; still I think we shall be able to push through, although it will be necessary to take a more Westerly course than we have done at present. All the main streams that we have crossed as yet run into the Fitz- roy ; it is therefore no matter for surprise that during the rainy season the lower flats should suffer from severe inundations. In a pool close by the camp we caught five fish. Named this large stream the Lennard River, and a high quartz hill, near camp, I named Mt. Eliza ; it is 600 feet high. Carey is very ill again to- night. Marked tree F 103. Lat. of camp, 17 deg. 12 min. 52 sec. by mer. alt. Arcturus.

June 9.

We travelled six miles to-day, at first over rough hills, and then through undulating rocky well-grassed country, to a running stream on the banks of which we camped, one of our horses showing symptoms of knocking up. The country seems to be improving; hills cov- ered with long coarse grass, and no longer so rough, while the flats are clothed with every description of feed and herbage. We crossed numerous streams again to-day, all running into the Fitzroy. My eyes are better, Camp-   bell's also nearly well, and Carey mending.

Marked tree F 104.

June 10.

To-day we followed up the creek on which we had camped, for five miles, till we reached its head, and thence made for the main range, which we skirted for a little distance before

camping in a grassy flat. Our course to-day was through well-grassed land, but rough and rocky. From the top of the range (900ft.) I took a round of angles in the afternoon, and looking on ahead I could see no alteration in the character of the country, which however seems all to be well covered with feed. Marked tree F 105.

{To le continued.)

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