NOTES OF AN EXPLORATORY TRIP
NORTHWARDS FROM THE
BY Mr. G. J. BROCKMAN.
May 2nd, 1881 - Arrived at Beagle Bay, in the schooner Harriet, and anchored near the well this evening, after a passage of -- days from Cossack. Deferred land ing-horses until to-morrow morning, on account of lateness of the hour. My old native shepherd soon came off to the vessel, and reported that the natives had broken into my house and stolen nearly everything there. Walked up to station, accompanied by W. Ryan, and found the house had been entered by cutting holes through the door, and afterwards forcing it open, and that the hut-breakers had completely ransacked the place, breaking up and overhauling every box and case, and appropriating a very large amount of stores, including a complete outfit for two stations, flour (2000 , lbs), rice, brandy, tobacco, tools, and a large quantity of clothing ,in fact, leaving
nothing of any value.
May3rd.-Landed horses this morning, also one bag of floor, intending to start for Fitzroy River tomorrow, as I know tbe party must have been on short, allowance for some time. Captain Walcott, in the Ruby, arrived last night. I went on board and reported the robbery to him. I also arranged with tbe captain of the Harriet to return to this place from the Lacepedes, on the 13th instant, when, I would meet him on my return from the Fitzroy, and receive remainder of my stores, etc. from him.
May 4th -Started at 11 a.m, for the Fitzroy River, accompanied by Messrs. Collins, Bryan, and Boulton, and reached Lake Louisa soon after dusk, where we camped. The lake is now nearly dry, there being only about eight inches or water in it.
We obtained a few water melons, which were acceptable ; the natives had however forestalled us, and cut up what they could not eat and strewn the place with them.
May 5th Made a start at 7 a.m., and bad to push on to the Fraser River, before getting any water, the half-way well being quite dry ; having omitted to fill our water bags, both ourselves and our heavily laden horses began to feel the effects of thirst are we had.completed the 25 miles, slow travell- ing. So far, tbe road is very good and plain.
May 6th.-Followed the track this morn- ing for six miles when we left it and steered East for five miles, where we struck the Minnie River, which we followed to its junction with the Fraser, following, that river down one mile to a permanent lagoon, where I had camped in December last, when on my way to the Fitzroy to show
Messrs. Withnell and Paterson the coun- try, and of which I again availed myself. Camping for dinner, and, proceeding after dinner a distance of seven miles, we camp- ed without water at a spot ten miles North- west of Muddy Creek, which is 22 miles from FitzroyRiver.
May 7th.-Horses having strayed back some distance last night; we did not reach Muddy Creek before midday, where we
shot some cockatoos and dined. Found the water low in the pools ; I fear it will not last long unless there is some rain. Start- ing again, we struck the track at five miles
North of Mount Clarkson, and followed it to Forrest's F 70 on "fresh water river," arriving after dark. Found plenty of very brackish water. Mosquitoes very trouble- some, keeping us awake nearly all night, and making daylight welcome.
May 8th.-Got away by sunrise, and followed track to the Fitzroy River ten miles, where we struck a deserted sheep camp, but immediately afterwards met two of Peterson's men (Pinjarrah natives) out duck-shooting, from whom we learned that the party were camped at Emma Creek, two miles up the river, where we arrived at 10 a.m., and found them all well and very glad to see us and the flour. The sheep
have now been about two and a half months on the tiver, and are looking well and fat. There are about 200 lambs down.
May 9th .-Self, accompanied by Mr.
Paterson and Mr. Collins, took a ride over the plains Eastward of Fitzroy, to the Yeeda River, which is an effluent of the Fitzroy, breaking off from that river near Mount Anderson, There is abundance of good feed about but at this time rather dry. The Fitzroy Biver is low but running strong, with a depth of about a foot in the
May 10th.-Started to-day on our return to Beagle Bay, with three pack horses, and, following the cart track the whole way, we arrived at Beagle Bay on Tuesday, 14th inst, and found Captain Walcott at anchor, having returned from the Lacepede Islands, but the Harriet had sailed at day- light this morning, leaving my stores on board the Ruby. Mr. Collins, who was with me, thus lost his passage to Cossack
May 22nd-We gave our horses a week's restbéforesWtingback. Capt. Walcott,
who ii anxious to examine the Sound for a
landing and being detained on business in the 'netghhonrhôod, has kindly offered to take ourfet-aining atores to the Meda Biver (Stokes'Bay), where we are to meet him an4 report on the practicability of the intervening country between that loca- lity and Fi*zroy. We therefore Jost no time in returning to the camp at Fitzroy, and taking s> present supply of provisions
we arrive«! afcthe camp, Fitzroy B,iver, on
the 26th |nst., at 10 a in., and at once sent out foe fresh,horses, intending to start to-morrow for the Meda Biver, some forty
May 27th.-r-Left this morning, and, steering NN.E. for twelve 'miles, camped
for dinner on the Yeeda Biver about six- teen* miles' from Escape Point in» King's 8ouuaV Here'the Yeeda is deep, clear, and wide, and, on the East side, affords an excellent site for a township. Game and fish abound in this rijrer, also a small kind of crocodile (supposed by Capt. Walcott to he an Unknown variety). Fresh water fish, up to 40 lbs. weight, aro abundant and easily! hooked. Started ou again at 2 p.m., and steeredisame course for 20 miles, the first 'fifteen miles being over reft tandy rises, with baobab (adausonia or breadfruit) and other smaller trees; then through salmon gum and wattle thickets, which made travelling anything but pleasant, and, the night being cloudy, I was unable to get a star to steer by. Camped without water.
May 28tb.-Started at daybreak, and travelled for ten miles on the same course, and came to a large plain, stretching away to tbeDputh East as far as we could see. Making a due east cours» for eight miles, we came to a burge tidal river being fully one and % half miles wide here. Found a .mall lagoon of fresh water on the plain, balfe mile weat of the river, where we Camped for dinner. À large portion of this plain would probably be under water dur ing the rainy season, er at very high spting tidett We concluded this river to be tbe ** Meda,"< discovered by Capt Archdeacon, and, thinking ^ possible,that the Ruby might D«. lying in some nook turtber inland, we left camp At 2 p.m., and followed up the right bank for eight miles to a very re
xaarkable hill, about 100 feet high, rising |
abruptly out of the plain within a stone's throw of the river. I named this Tower 'Hill, and, v. hile Messrs Paterson and Bryan were shooting cockatoos, I climbed to its summit, and had a grand view of the coun- try. To the north, the high ranges at che back of Port Usborne looked grand. I could trace them for many miles to the Eastwards, while, from N.E to S E, the grassy plains stretch away us far as the eye eau reach. At one mile South, we crossed a small salt creek coming from S.W , and got on to the !>ktin running parallel with the river. Foi owed it for three miles, and then struck into the river, where it is wide and deep,, and wonld float a moderate size vessel at
all times. Saw great numbers of turkeys,! which seemed very wild. I had seen no fresh water since leaving Tower Hill, so I cantered ahead before sunset to look for a
camp and to try and find some fresh water. Crossed several small stony gullies, and got on to the river flats where I found a small hole of water, where we got enough by digging. Camped in the river bed, which is sandy, aud running a little, but salt. Shot several white cockatoos of a lurger variety than I have se<*ii in the Northern districts. Saw several native tracks The country having been lately burnt, the grass
is green und luxuriant. j
May 29th.-Off at 6 30 am. Crossed
the river and steered east for about nine miles, over beautifully grassed and wooded plains. Saw two small pools of fresh water io á blind gully. Seeing a line of high trees ahead. Mr. Paterson and myself cantered on, and carne to a deep sandy river, coming from South East, about eighty yards wide, bat quite dry with very high steep banks, and, from its appearance, I should judge it had not run this year. Followed up south bank for about eight miles, without a cross- ing or any sign of water. I here climbed a gum tree, and could see the plains on the north side for a distance of at least twenty miles, when they were broken by a low ridge, running eastward, topped with rocky hummocks. To the South East, the same grassy plains reach away to the hori- zon. Tbere is seemingly no end to them. Finding no water in the river,, though we dug several holes in the sand, wo turned off in a S. S. W. direction, and 'had not travelled more than a mile before we reach- ed a larg» lagoon of good water, where we camped for dinner. From the position of this river and its course, I feel sur« it is the Lennard, or one of its branches, discov- ered by Mr. A. Fönest, tend crossed by bim farther inland, and that it is also the same river which Capt. Archdeacon discovered in Stpke's Bay, and which I speak of as the Meda. Continuing our course S.S.W. over the plains, we crossed two deep sandy creeks, both running into the river we were on yesterday, and which I have named the May. Eight miles from our dinner camp, brought us again to the Hay River, which we crossed at a bend, where we found a few small pools of fresh water in the sandy bed. The river was then^coming from the sooth. I very reluctantly turned back bere, having only four days provisions-leaving the party to follow down the river. I struck out on the south side three miles to where the
river turned again to the S. E., through low stony ridges covered with curly bark and iron wood. Here I turned back and overtook the party ; camped at sunset on the river, with grassy plains running to the water's edge. Here we found a beautiful reach of fresh water several miles long, swarming with fish of all sizes. We caught about 50)bs. weight in a few minutes, one of which weighed about 201 bs.
Mav 30th.-Started this morning at 6-30 a,m., keeping on the outer side of the plain«,
winch wu oiimaod-acror»! timos. I SÍW Seve-
ral more lagoon« of fresh water. The plains here, on the south side, ure more undulat- ing than on the north side of the river, and in many places are covered with shot-like gravel. Native peach and blue bush abound in great quantity. We made eighteen miles before dinner, and camped below Tower Hill, st the lagoon scene on our way out, At 2 p.m., we followed the edge of the river until we came to the mangroves, -but the mud flats were so wide that we could not get a sight of the bay. Camped for the night without feed or water. Kept a good fire burning but no watch.
May 31st.-Sent the horses lmck to the water with Bryan, and May-11-myself and Paterson remaining at camp, intending, when the tide went our, to walk ten < miles up the bay and look out for the Ruby. Wa accordingly started taking canvas bag of water, 21bs. damper, and our fire-arms. We got on tolerably well for a mile or so, when we were brought to a stand still by a deep muddy creek. I got into the middle of it, and began to think I was never going to get out again, but managed to crawl on to terrafirma after extreme hard work. I had been up to my belt in pure sticky estuary mad. Mr. Paterson, seeing me literally ' stuck in the mud,' went higher up think- ing he wonld be more fortunate, but alas, he got into a worse place than I did, and had great difficulty in getting out at all. This of course nut a stop to our enterprise, and the next thing to do was to re-join Paterson. Having succeeded in crossing the creek, I had to follow it up a mile be fore I could recross, when we immediately commenced scraping the mud off each other with onr butcher's knives, and, finding a pool of salt water in the marsh, we were able to get rid of the greater quantity of the mud from our clothes ana persons, after which wè walked back, a distance of six miles, reaching camp at 6 p.m. When we arrives there we found that Bryan had shot ^cockatoo. j
June 1st.-We left this morning before ' sunrise, intending to follow the coast to Point Torment, in King's Sound, and from thence to the entrance of Fitzroy River, -partly to look ont for the Buby, and partly to explore the coast, and try and find a place in the Sound where goods might be landed or wool shipped. We travelled for six hours before camping, and climbed several baobab trees, to get a view of j Stokes Bay, but could see nothing except mangrove marshes. After dinner, proceed-
ed about four miles to a well of brackish I water, and, while the party were watering j the hornes, Bryan and I rode down to the; beach, this being "the only place where we had beeû able to get near it. There is here good landing for stock, but no supply of < water. \ We saw the Buby at anchor about four miles to the Eastward, and, after' signalling to: her, she weighed anchor, brought up «breast of us, and sent a boat to convey us en board. Paterson and my- self went off and slept on board the vessel, leaving Bryan and Mayall with the horses.
June 2nd.-The weather not permitting, we were nuable to land until midday. Captain Walcott informed me that he had ascended the latter river (the Meda) a dis- tance of about nine miles, in the Buby, and remained there five days, and finally erected a pole and hurried a bettie, with a letter enclosed, on the South side of the river, 'opposite the upper tributary as marked on Captain Archdeacon's sketch chart, where the river takes an abrupt turn to the South
between two sandy hills, covered with I large baobab and other trees. Capt. Wal-
cott also informed me that there existed no
difficulty in landing stock np this river. |
He had seen Tower Hill bearing about S.S.E., at no great] distance, from the mast head. He also informed me that, judging from the appearance of the country, he is of opinion that another river, or branch of one, empties itself into the* North-Eastern side of Stokes Bay. Many native fires were seen from jon ¡board the Buby, in an Easterly and North-Easterly direction, but no natives were observed. At noon, my- self and Paterson, accompanied by Captain Walcott, landed, and found Mayall quite blind with sand blight; so, Capt. Walcott took him on board, arranging to meet us at Mary Island. We left at 3 p.m. and tra- velled twelve miles, where we camped, with good feed, on burnt ground, without water. Baobabs are plentiful on this side of King's Sound. We obtained a good many of the nuts, or fruit, which are very good eating, either raw or cooked. The natives seem almost to live on them ; they also cut into the young trees and eat the inner soft wood, which tastes much like sugar cane. In many places where there is no water they live for days on the baobab juice.
June 3rd.-Horses having strayed a long way in search of water last night, we did not get away before 6 a.m. Kept along the plain on the outer edge of the man- groves, and did not bring np until 3 p.m., having travelled nine hours without finding any water. As we have passed Mary Island a distance of ten miles, we have to return part of the way back to-night. As our horses, however, were quite knocked up, we camped on the Yeeda, until dark, when we started again, and, travelling six miles over dry salt marsh, came suddenly on a small! hole of fresh water, where we camp- ed, at 9 p.m. Not intending to keep watch, we were just spreading our blankets, when Bryan heard a native laughing a short dis- tance off. One never knows when one is safe in a new country. After this, we kept
June 4th.-I turned ont early, and, while the party were preparing their morn- ing meal, 1 walked over to the native camp. There were about twenty men and some women there, but the latter cleared out at once. After going through an informal introduction, I got one lad to go with me as guide across the marsh to Mary Island, where we arrived before dinner ; but the tide being out, the boat was unable to land until an hour before sunset, there being no good landing place here. As Captain Wal- cott intends proceeeing up the Sound to- wards, or above, Escape Pass, we have to go back tonight, and round tbere again tomorrow. Returned to camp.
June 5th.-Left our camp, and reached the Yeeda for dinner. Bryan sbot bíx swans and several ducks. After dinner Mr. Pat- erson rode down to Escape Point, and wait- ed until dark, but, not sighting the Ruby, we returned to camp, intending to go to the station for rations and return here again the followidg day.
June 6th.-Reached camp on Fitzroy River for dinner. Weather very cold and rainy-looking, with strong wind from S.E.
June 7th -The natives not getting the horses until late, we started back in the afternoon, but as the river badrisen a little, in consequence of the inland rains, Paterson remained behind to cross the sheep, as we intend moving the station to the Yeeda River at on<*e. This will be ten miles nearer our port, and safe from floods. Camp- ed on lower Yeeda. The rain came down in torrents all night, and the ground being stiff clay, we were up to our boot-tops in pug in the morning, having stood up most of the night.
June 8th.-The whole country in this neighbourhood is in a terribly boggy state. We camped nearly all day drying our clothes, abd crossed the river in the even- ing and camped opposite Mary Island, where I intend walbing to-morrow, as the ground is too soft for the horses. Being very tired, kept no watch.
June 9th.-Started for Mary Island this morning, taking Mayall with me. We walked across the 12-mile estuary, or rather through mud and water, to Mary Island. There being no sign of the Buby, we had to tramp to Escape Point, where we found the cutter high and dry in a creek abont two miles South of Escape Point. They had been there for five days, and had almost given us up. We remained on board all night, having walked barefooted from sun- rise until 3 p.m.
June 10th. Returned for the horses to-
day. Met Bryan and Poulton at the Yeeda, where we camped for the night, we got bnt little rest, as the mosquitoes kept torment- ing us.
June 18th. Rode down to the Buby this morning. She has shifted about 2| miles to the southward, and now lay within a few yards of a level grassy plain, extending right across to the Yeeda River about four miles. We found all our goods landed, so we loaded up the pack horses with flour, and started them to camp. Where the Buby is now lying is a far better place for landing goods or stock intended for the Fitzroy district, than Beagle Bay, With planks laid across from the deck, stock could, at high water walk ashore, on to the hard grassy bank, and there is abundance of water in the Meda River, only four and a half mileB off over level grat»y plains. At last, then, wchave a barbour for Kimberley, with a good road to the grazing land. If the Government would only bestir themselves in our interest, and have a line of wells sunk between this and the DeGrey, the whole of this country would be quickly stocked. But without land communication with the Nor/ West I do not see how the Kimberley can