His Excellency's late Expedition to
the Murchison River.
We have been favored, by the kindness of the Hon. the Colonial Secretary, with the following report of Mr. A. C. Gregory of His Excellency's late visit to the Mur- chison and Bowes Rivers, as also with the the depositions taken relative to the unfor- tunate encounter with the natives, forming collectively a complete and authentic nar-
rative of all the circumstances connected with the expedition, which we believe will be read with much interest by the pub-
Extract from Diary of Asst.-Surveyor Gregory,
December 1st. — Sailed from Fremantle in the Champion for Champion Bay, where we arrived on the 3rd, swam the ponies on shore, and encamped at the mouth of the Chapman river.
4th. — His Excellency the Governor came on shore, when the party, consisting of the Governor, Mr. Bland and myself, with three soldiers of the 96th Regt., and the Governor's servant, started at 7h. 15m. steering N.E., crossed Moresby's flat- topped range at 9h., made the north Chapman at 10h., followed the stream upward till 11h. 50m., the general course N.E. by N. One native man and two women came up, and then retired to the other side of the river, watching our proceedings. Having dined, we started again at 2h. 25m., steer- ing a general north course over an indifferent scrubby country till 4h. 40m., when we halted for 20 minutes to examine the black shale-like soil which was seen on a former occasion, but on dig- ging it proved to be only alluvial soil resting on sand ; from this spot we steered N. 330 deg. mag. over high sandy hills covered with scrub, the country gradually improved, and at 7h. we halted for the night, in a small grassy gully trending N.W., obtaining water in a native well.
5th. — Started at 6h. 40m., continuing the same course as yesterday evening over a succession of grassy hills of granitic formation till 11h. 10m., when we halted on the eastern branch of the Bowes river ; several natives shortly came to the encamp- ment, and having eaten some biscuit and pork which we offered to them, retired in the evening to the opposite side of the stream-bed, keeping a close watch on us from behind some large rocks, a strict watch was therefore maintained by us during the night.
6th. — This morning the natives commenced by throwing stones at the men who went down for the water, but we did not see any other method of re- senting it, except by expressing our disapprobation in words, and at 5h. 35m. we started on a N.N.W,
course, the natives followed for about a mile, and continued throwing stones at the party. The country passed over was generally grassy granite hills till 9h. when we ascended the high table land between the valley of the Bowes and Hutt rivers, which last we reached at 10h. 25in., and halted during the heat of the day on a pool of brackish water ; at 3h. 20m. again started, and following the river downwards, in a general course of 310 deg. mag. at 6h. 10m. bivouacked at the spot where we had before halted on the 17th of October, the water in the pools brackish, but by digging near a moist bank obtained abundance of fresh Water.
7th. — Left our bivouac at 5h. 50m., and steered N.E. over high sandy downs, covered with coarse scrub ; at 10h. 30m. entered the valley of the Mur- chison river, at noon halted at our bivouac of the 24 th of Sept., obtained some brackish water by digging in the sand of the small stream-bed ????? ing dined, we resumed our journey at 2h. ?????? bivouacked about 5h. on the left bank ????????? chison, 500 yards below the large le???????? taining good water in the sandy bed of ????? digging a few inches, the pools bei??????
While the men were preparing the tents, &c., the Governor proceeded to examine the vein of lead, which we traced to a greater distance than on the former occasion of its discovery, the water having sunk two feet, exposing many portions of the vein
which were before covered.
8th. — Examined the lead vein, tracing it 320 yards in a direction N. 30 deg. E. mag. along the bed of the Murchison river, which was nearly dry ; clearing the sand and loose stones from the sur- face, found it to vary from 8 to 24 inches in width, the general average being 12 inches, the dip to the W.N.W. at an angle of about 80 deg. from the horizon. Throughout the whole length, the lead vein appeared to be one solid mass of galena ; the northern end either terminates or alters its direc- tion close to a vein of schistose rock, which inter- sects the adjacent rocks ; to the south the lode was covered by several feet of sand, which prevented its being traced further, as we had not time to re- move it ; the whole of the vein which was traced was included within the banks of the river, and the greater portion covered by shallow water. One specimen of galena shewed traces of copper. The rock which prevails on each side of the vein is a hard compact gneiss, abounding with garnets, some of which are of good color, but mostly full of flaws ; the stratification of the gneiss is somewhat confused, but it generally dips at a high angle (sometimes nearly perpendicular) to the westward, the strike being N. and S. The facilities which the position of the lode offer for mining are not very great, as it occupies the lowest part of the valley, and steam power would be requisite to free the mine from water, and at the same time, unless the small boat-harbor near the mouth of the Hutt river, or Gantheaume Bay (both within 30 miles), be found suitable for the purpose, Champion Bay, distant 62 miles in a direct line to the south, is the nearest port where the ore could be shipped. In the evening the Governor examined the spot where Mr. Walcott had discovered the small pieces of lead ore about 2½ miles below the lode, but as most of the pieces had been picked up on that occasion, we could only find a few fragments of it.
9th.— Left the encampment at 4h. 40m., and steering about S.W., made our former bivouac on the Hutt river about 1h. P.M., and halted for the rest of the day.
10th. — Started at 4h. 50m. steering 160 deg. mag. over sandy country, passed a small grassy valley at 8h., halted on the north branch of the Bowes at 10h. 10m. on a small pool of brackish water, dined and resumed our route at 2h. 40m.; steered south over a grassy country till 6h. 10m., when we halted for the night on a tributary stream to the Bowes, obtained fresh water by digging, the pools being very small and brackish.
11th. — Left the bivouac at 5h. 15m., steering 175 deg. mag. over an indifferent country till 6h.
40m., when we crossed the south branch of the Bowes, the country improving. Here we saw se- veral natives, who at first hid themselves, but find- ing that we saw them, came after us. At first they did not exceed 8 or 10 in number, but being joined by several other parties, gradually increased till they exceeded 50, when they altogether changed their friendly manner, and began to bring up their spears. At 6h. 15m. we passed to the west of King's Table-hill, and as the country was covered with dense wattle thickets, the natives took ad- vantage of the ground, and having completely sur- rounded the party, commenced first to threaten to throw their spears, then to throw stones, and finally one man caught hold of Mr. Bland by the arm, threatening to strike him with a dowak ; ano- ther native threw a spear at myself, though without effect, but before I could fire at him, the Governor perceiving that unless some severe example was made, the whole party would be cut off, fired at one of the most forward of our assailants, and killed him ; two other shots were fired by the sol- diers, but the thickness of the bushes prevented our seeing with what effect. A shower of spears, stones, kylies, and dowaks followed, and although we moved to a more open spot, the natives were only kept off by firing at any that exposed them- selves. At this moment a spear struck the Gover- nor in the leg, just above the knee, with such force as to cause it to protrude two feet on the other side, which was so far fortunate, as it enabled me to break off the barb, and withdraw the shaft ; the Governor, notwithstanding his wound, continued to direct the party, and although the natives made many attempts to approach close enough to reach us with their spears, we were enabled, by keeping on the most open ground, and checking them by an occasional shot, to avoid their attacks in crossing the gullies. Although they followed us closely for seven miles, after which they were only seen occa- sionally, following in our track ; having reached the beach, we were enabled to travel more rapidly, and though one of the ponies knocked up, we reached Champion Bay at 3h. 30m., got the party and horses on board the Champion by 5h. P.M., where we were gladly welcomed by Lieut. Help- man. About sunset the natives came down to the beach, concealing themselves behind the bushes, whilst a single unarmed native stood on the beach, and called to us to come on shore, no doubt in the hope of making a sudden attack on the boat
should we venture to do so.
A. C. GREGORY,
An Inquiry into the circumstances attend-
ing an Affray with certain of the Abori- gines of Western Australia, in the district between Champion Bay and the Murchi- son River; taken upon oath the 21st December, 1848, before W. H. Mackie and G. Leake, Esquires :
Rivett Henry Bland, of Perth, Private Secretary to His Excellency the Governor, sworn — I accompanied His Excellency the Governor on an excursion from Champion ???
???? Murchison River; the party ???? His Excellency, myself, Mr. ???? Gregory, three soldiers of H.M. ?????? and the Governor's servant,
Richard Quin. On Monday, the 11th in- stant, we started on our return to Cham- pion Bay, from the Bowes River, about half-past 5 o'clock in the morning. We steered for the west end of King's Table Hill, about 20 miles from Champion Bay. In crossing a gully about 5 miles from the Bowes Biver, we saw several natives, who endeavored to conceal themselves at first by skulking about on their hands and knees ; they afterwards followed us ; as we got to the thickets near King's Table Hill, they got close to us, increasing rapidly in numbers and becoming bolder at every step we advanced, those nearest to us beck- oning to others at a distance to get ahead of us. It appeared to me very evident that they intended to surround us, and attack us at some favorable spot in advance ; we ordered them off but they would not leave us; shortly afterwards one native seized hold of me by the arm with one hand, and with the other held up a short heavy stick called a dowak, with the apparent intention of striking me with it ; I was at that time a few yards behind the rest of the party leading a poney. I called to the soldiers not to leave me — they turned round to- wards me and the native let go his hold ; I had a pistol in my hand and could have shot him, and would have felt justified in doing so in self-defence, but was reluctant to commence the affray. Some one shortly afterwards, called out that a spear was thrown at Mr. Gregory ; the natives were at that moment closing fast in upon us, numbers being within ten and fifteen yards of us, all armed, some with spears, others with kylies, dowaks, and wommeras. The Governor, on finding a spear thrown, and the whole party in evident danger of being cut off, dismounted and shot the native nearest to him, who was evidently a person of some influence, and was directing the movements of the other natives. The three soldiers then also fired; immediately a shower of spears, kileys, and stones was thrown at us. We just then got clear of the thickets, and were between two rocky hills, from which, and from the thickets behind us, the natives continued to throw spears, kylies, and stones ; one spear en- tered the Governor's thigh just above the knee, and protruded about a foot through, and had he not been warned by his servant, Quin, that a spear was coming toward him, and had he not made a sudden step or two forward, the spear would have entered his back. We proceeded to some open rising ground, and hastened towards Champion Bay, the natives following, and for several miles making every effort to head us and cut us off; it required the greatest vigi- lance and an occasional shot to keep them off. About half-past 3 o'clock in the af- ternoon we reached Champion Bay, and shortly after having embarked on board the Champion, the natives came down to the beach. The number that attacked us
was apparently from fifty to seventy, and amongst them were several whom we re- cognised as having met six days before on the Bowes River, and to whom we had then given bread, in return for which they had pelted us with stones the next morn- ing. During the whole excursion we had not given the natives the slightest provo- cation. I believe that not above three na- tives were shot — I saw but one of them
Augustus Gregory, of Perth, Surveyor, sworn. — I was present at the scene de- scribed by Mr. Bland. On our return from the Bowes River to Champion Bay, on the 11th instant, and about three miles from the Bowes, a small number of natives ap- peared skulking round us; they rapidly increased to upwards of fity, and then al- together changed their previously friendly manner, and began to produce their spears. At a quarter-past 8 o'clock in the morn- ing, we passed King's Table Hill, and the country being there covered by dense thick- ets, the natives took advantage of the ground, and having completely surrounded the party, commenced first to threaten to throw their spears, and then threw stones, and one of them threw a spear directly at myself, which missed me, but glanced against my poney's legs. Before I could fire at him, I heard three shots fired behind me (I being in the front and leading the party), and I saw one of the natives fall ; I had observed that that particular native had been especially active in threatening us, and directing the attack of the other natives ; a shower of spears, kylies, and stones were immediately thrown at us by the natives. One of the spears entered the Governor's thigh, and passed out two foot on the other side of the thigh ; I drew
the spear out. The natives continued their attack till we moved to more open ground, and pursued us hotly for about seven or eight miles, endeavoring, whenever gullies or thickets occurred, to form an ambush ; we had to fire an occasional shot to keep them off; no provocation whatever had been given to any of the natives during the excursion. I had been previously on two excursions in the same district, and am sure that no provocation was ever given to the natives on either of those previous occasions, although even then they had be- haved in a threatening manner to my par- ty. It is my firm conviction that if our party had not fired in self-defence, at the time I have stated, our whole party, on Monday, the 11th instant, would have been destroyed by the natives before we could have reached Champion Bay ; self-defence would have justified our party firing sooner.
Thomas Bailey, a corporal in H.M. 96th Regt., sworn. —I was present on the occa- sion spoken of by Mr. Bland and Mr. Gre- gory. The party was returning to Cham- pion Bay ; we started somewhere about five o'clock in the morning, and between seven and eight o'clock we first saw about half-a dozen natives, who seemed to make away from us ; in a short time the same party of natives began to follow us ; they kept increasing in numbers, and we told them repeatedly to be off, but they still kept on after us, and kept shouting out. We came to a flat-topped hill where there were a great many thickets, and there the natives nearly surrounded us. I saw one of them catch hold of Mr. Bland's arm, and raise his stick as if he was going to strike Mr. Bland ; I told the Governor then that we had better fire to save our lives ; the Go- vernor then dismounted and shot one of the most forward and troublesome of the natives ; I and the two other soldiers also fired ; the natives gave us a whole shower of spears, sticks, and stones ; one spear glanced against my cap, and I saw one spear wound the Governor in the leg. For several miles after that the natives pursued us, but at a greater distance. We were obliged to turn and fire now and then to kee pthem off. As soon as we got on board, some of the natives came down on the
beach. It is my firm belief that if our party had not fired when they did, the whole party would have been massacred — in my opinion the party ought to have fi- red before. The escort under my charge consisted of Privates John Gaskine and Leonard Tazicker — they were close to me the whole time, from the first attack of the natives till we embarked on board the Champion.
John Gaskine and Leonard Tazicker, Privates in H.M. 96th Regt., sworn.— Ha- ving heard the above deposition of Thomas Bailey, confirmed the same in all respects.