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3 corrections, most recently by anonymous - Show corrections

MR. EYRE'S REPORT OF HIS EXPE- DITION OVERLAND. COLONIAL SECRETARY's OFFICE, Feb. 28, 1839. HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR has directed the following Report by Edward John Eyre, Esq., of his journey overland from New South Wales to Adelaide, to be published for general information. GEO. M. STEPHEN, Colonial Secretary. Adelaide, Feb. 23, 1839. Sir,-I have the honour to report to you, for the information of His Excellency the Governor, my second arrival in the colony of South Australia overland from Sydney with stock. My party is composed of thirteen individuals, exclusive of my self, and two boys aborigines of the Hume and Murrumbidgee rivers; and my stock consists of about one thousand sheep, about six hundred head of cattle, and four teams. We left Limestone Plains (our point of depar- ture) on the 5th December, 1838, and following the high road to Port Phillip as far as the crossing place of the Murrumbidgee, we turned down that river, to the westward, instead of following further south as all the parties coming to this colony had previously done; and by this means we avoided cross- ing the several rivers, on that line of road, materi- ally shortened the distance, and obtained a more abundant supply of feed and water f0r our stock. After passing my party twice across the Murrum- bidgee, to avoid some ranges, I continued following its right or northern bank, and passing through the marshes of the Lachlan, I crossed the bed of the river without being aware of it, as its channel presented appearance of nothing more than an   ordinary creek, and had no water in it as far as I went up, beyond 200 yards from its junction with the Murrumbidgee my drays crossed about half a mile above this junction, and had no difficulty in effecting a passage. The marshes of the Lachlan   (at least that portion of them which I crossed, and   which lies contiguous to the Murrumbidgee) no longer exhibit that formidable appearance they did some years ago, and the many dry seasons we have had lately have so much changed their character,   that they now present the appearance of large and rich alluvial flats , more or less covered with reeds

but generally of a firm surface, and affording an easy and good road to travel over. After passing the Lachlan we followed down the Murrumbidgee to its junction with the Hume, and on our arriving there on the 20th of January, we became aware that another party (which I have since ascertained to be Captain Hart, from Portland Bay,) had arrived on the south side of the Murray about the same time we did on the northern, and our two parties continued travelling on opposite sides of the river to beyond the junction of the Darling, where Capt. Hart crossed to the northern side with his party a day or two's stage in advance of mine. After crossing the Darling, I felt anxious whilst in that neighbourhood, to ascertain the nature and course of a junction laid down by Captain Sturt of the Lindesay, falling into the Murray on its southern bank ; and I was the more anxious to ascer- tain this point, as I had myself last year (when en- deavouring to cross the interior of the country to the southward of the Murray, on my route to Adelaide) met with many difficulties and much delay from my not being able to fall in with this (supposed) stream by the direction I expected to have found it. After seeing my party two days' stage beyond the Darling, I crossed to the south side of the Murray, accompanied by two of my party, and spent three days in a careful examina- tion of the surrounding country, but was unable to discover any stream connected with the country to the south. I found the extent of land subject to flood much greater in this vicinity than I had done higher up the river, and its surface was intersected by very many creeks and lagoons, some of which were of considerable size and had a good deal of water in them, and one in particular, which I took to be the Lindesay of Capt. Sturt, is both wide and deep, and has its whole course dis- tinctly marked by lines of lofty gum trees. This creek appears to separate the flooded lands from the higher ground beyond, and continues for a course of about sixteen miles, taking first a south-westerly and then a north-westerly direction, and coming to the river at both its extremities; but it appears (as do also all the other creeks and lagoons) to be filled only by the surplus waters of the rivers in seasons of flood. Immediately beyond the low lands are extensive plains of red sand, covered with low bushes but destitute of grass, and these are again locked in by sandy ridges covered with scrub, which appeared to extend far into the interior to the southward. After crossing the Darling my party continued to follow in the same route I kept last year; and as soon as I had seen them over the worst of the road, I left them a few days ago, lei- surely advancing, and preceded them myself to Adelaide. It affords me much pleasure to have it in my power to state, that my intercourse with the abori- gines has been generally of a very friendly nature and that I have again conducted a party in safety and in peace through the various tribes that fre- quent the line of route; but, at the same time, I would strongly impress upon future travellers the necessity of the utmost care and vigilance on their part, and would caution them by no means to rely too much on the exhibition of a friendly disposition on the past of the natives, as they are both cunning and treacherous, and frequently refrain from acts of violence only from dread of a superior force. In the vicinity of the Lachlan River I had one of my party dangerously wounded with a spear by some natives who but a few minutes before had shown themselves to us on the opposite side of the river waving green boughs, and making the usual de- monstrations of amity. With these natives we had no intercourse whatever, so that they could not pos- sibly have received offence of any kind to induce them to commit so wanton and treacherous an outrage. Having been the first to bring sheep overland from New South Wales, and having thereby proved its practicability, I may perhaps be expected to make a few remarks on the subject. From the nature of the country and the great extent of scrub we were obliged in many places to pass through, we had much difficulty in getting the sheep along, and our trouble was not a little enhanced by the very hot weather we experienced during the greater part of the journey, the thermometer during the heat or the day, generally ranging from 120 ° to 124 ° in the sun. In some parts of the route we had also much difficulty in procuring a sufficiency of feed, but this seldom occurred for more than it day or two's stage at a time, and we had always an abundant supply of water, so that our losses on the whole did not amount to one per cent. on thee ori- ginal number. I have therefore much pleasure in stating it as my opinion, that though far from being a good line of route for driving sheep, yet in ordi- nary seasons I consider it to be a perfectly practica- ble one, and have no doubt but that by careful and judicious management, and dividing the sheep into small flocks for driving, this most valuable descrip- tion of stock may eventually be introduced into the colony in considerable numbers by a safer and cheaper means than can be done by water, and the colonists thus have the prospect of obtaining at no extraordinary risk, a property which is almost the only one they can look to for a sufficient and avail- able export. I have the honor to be, Sir, Your most obedient humble servant, EDWARD JOHN EYRE.