THE BURDEKIN EXPEDITION.
SINCE the publication of our last summary, the official report of the Burdekin Expedi-
tion has been laid before the public. It comprises the reports of Mr, Smith Master,
R.N. (the commander), and W.G.E.
Dalrymple, C.C.L. for the Kennedy district,
to which are attached two appendices— one giving the position of the Spitfire Rock, and
the other, a list of 124 botanical specimens collected by W. Fitzalan, Although the report abounds in no incidents of startling interest, extraordinary privations, or severe sufferings, it is, nevertheless, worthy the attentive perusal of all interested in the opening up of new fields of enterprise, the extension of the Australian colonies, or the progress of geographical science. As our
readers are already in possession of the principal results of the expedition, our task is simply to present them with a precis of the report.
The party appointed to the expedition consisted of Mr. Smith, R.N. .Mr. Dal-
rymple, Mr. R. P. Stone (surveyor), Mr..
Bousfield (Master of the Spitfire), Mr. Fitz- alan (botanical collector), 7 seamen, and 2 aborigines, in all fourteen persons, and em- barked on board the Government schooner Spitfire on the 22nd August last. Having adjusted the chronometers, the vessel left Moreton Island on the 26th, and pro- ceeded to Rockhampton to pick up the ketch Satellite. On examination, however, she was found so much out of repair, that it would have been dan- gerous to employ her. Leaving Keppel Bay
on the 4th September, the Spitfire reached the Percy Islands the next day, and an- chored among some of the group to take in water. Of these Mr. Smith remarks— "These islands, which I had previously visited in July, 1859 (whilst attached to H.M.S. Herald ), present a most pleasing appearance; the summits, which are ele- vated between 600 and 800 feet are clothed with verdure, consisting of acacias, gum
trees blackwattle, pandanus, cypress, laurels, several species of the genus Rosaciæ, and numerous copses of a very beautiul and use- ful pine. On the Pine Islands of Captain King, westward of No. 2 Percy, the whole space is one large forest of straight pines, of excellent dimensions and readily obtain- able. Moreover, there is a good harbour, where a ship of any dimensions could remain at anchor in very smooth water, close to where spars are procurable. This group of islands is occasionally visited by natives, but they are not permanent inhabitants."
Mr. Dalrymple says that they " are well adapted for cattle pastures, while portions of considerable extent are suitable for culti- vation." Sailing thence on the 6th, after passing the Pindhoe Island and others of the same group, they came upon the Cumber- land Islands about noon the next day. When off the island marked H, the party observed a dense smoke, which was followed up by a loud report, as of a large gun. Anxious to ascertain the origin of so singu- lar a circumstance, the vessel anchored, and a party proceeded to the shore.
"' We (says Mr. Dalrymple) landed in the whaleboat on the Western Island, the natives awaiting our approach on the beach, but taking again to the hills when we neared the shore. Four very neat bark canoes were found close to the beach, and another was seen paddled by a native at the opposite side of the harbour. They are formed of three sheets of bark taken from a Eucalyp- tus; are about 8 feet long, 3½ feet broad, and 20 inches deep ; are pointed and turned up at both ends, and are very neatly and strongly sewn together with a long, tough, cane-like creeper. Two cross sticks between the gunwales keep the whole in form. In each canoe was a very neatly-made paddle, ornamented with crosses of red paint, or raddle, on the blade. Several large shells to hold water or bail out, a piece of Vauda Ceruliensis of about 6 inches long (purpose unknown), a long coil of fishing line very neatly made, probably of the fibre of the Pandanus Palm-leaf, and to which was at- tached a spear head of about 5 inches in length neatly barbed, and pointed with a very hard and sharp fish bone. These spear
heads are fitted into a socket in the end of
a long spear, which the blacks throw from their canoes with considerable precision into dugong, turtle, or other large fish. The barbed point remains in the flesh, the spear floats off and is picked up ; the line, fast to the spear head is then paid out, and the fish is run and killed, very much as whalers capture their more gigantic prey. From the appearance of a dugong found newly killed in a camp on Upstart Bay, it would appear that the canoe is kept close over the fish, which, on rising to the surface to blow, is assailed with waddies and spears, there being no less than 13 broken spear points in the head and shoulders, the snout and forehead being also considerably disfigured by the blows of Nullah Nullahs, (native clubs.) On the eastern coast of Ceylon, a similar method of fishing is used by the natives, with this difference that the barbed point is fixed in a socket in the end of an arrow, and fired from a bow into the fish. We were enabled to hold friendly intercourse with the natives, although they were very shy, their numbers, which generally inspire confidence, being very small. They are well-made athletic men; from their plentiful fish diet they are sleek and fat ; but they have an extremely savage expression of countenance."
Failing to find any satisfactory explana- tion as to the cause ot the explosion, or any traces of white men, the party proceeded on their way on the morning of the 8th Sep- tember, and " at sundown the Spitfire rounded the western point of Shaw Island, and anchored in twelve fathoms, in its fine sheltered harbour, under Shaw's Peak, of 1601 feet elevation."
The course next morning, 9th September, was through Whit Sunday Channel, where their little vessel narrowly escaped running on a sunken rock not previously marked in the charts, and now known as the Spitfire Rock. " Here the coast of the main land is a chain of wooded mountains, running from Cape Gloucester behind Port Molle, and ter- minating in the high bluff headland of Cape Conway, their steep sides descending right into the sea. Pines of the genus ' Auracaria Cookei ' are sprinkled over the mountains of the mainland and the adjacent islands. The latter have lofty crags and peaks of basalt, porphyry, and other igneous rocks. Grassy and wooded hills with deep ravines, full of towering dark green pines, slope to the margin of the water, or descend in low cliffs of red porphyry steep into the fore- ground of deep aquamarine blue sea, gently ruffled by the soft south-easterly trade wind, forming succession of scenes of remarkable beauty, as mountains, cliffs, and pine-fringed
bays were passed in rapid succession, worthy to rank with the smiling coasts of the Levant, Italy, or the sunny islands of the Pacific."
The report continues—" At 2 p.m. we rounded Molle head, the south point of Port Molle, and ran into an anchorage at the south of the harbour, close under the long narrow island which encloses it on this
side. Fires of the natives were visible on the northern shore. The ribs of a vessel about 200 tons, wrecked apparently some time back, appeared above water close in shore, and on the beach we found about two tons of coal in a heap, and picked up a dinner knife, on the ivory handle of which the initials M. B. were neatly cut. Port Molle is a very fine harbour, lying in an amphitheatre of mountains which rise sheer
out of its waters to elevations of from 500 to 2000 feet, those on the western or main- land side being the loftiest. The entrance is faced by high islands. Although a beau- tiful harbour, is is however, unfortunately, of no immediate utility as a port for the adjacent country of the mainland, being, like Port Bowen, very much isolated from the district behind, and the whole of the
W. side of the harbour being shut in by an impassable barrier of steep lofty hills
covered with dense scrub."
After leaving Port Molle, on the morning of the 10th September, the vessel was be- calmed a short distance off Mount Dryander, where she was visited by some of the natives, who came off to her in canoes, and exchanged fishing-spears, lines, and hooks, for empty bottles and wax vesta boxes. Of these people, Mr. Dalrymple, after giving several of the words used by them, says—" It is worthy of remark, that while ignorant of the term Caalyi Caalyi, and Yarra Yarra, used by the neighbouring tribes, these people made use of the same words for ' a gin,' and the 'eye' used by a tribe nearly 600 miles off, and which are not used by those occupying the intermediate districts; while the Bur- dekin blacks use a word for water used by the aborigines of Port Phillip to signify a
A breeze springing up, the natives pad- dled towards Hook Island, about ten miles distant, and the vessel pursued her way to Gloucester Island, where she anchored for the night. Weighing anchor at day break the next morning, the 11th September, they
proceeded across Edgecumbe Bay to examine
Port Denison, a port discovered by Mr. Sin- clair, of the schooner Santa Barbara, in September, 1859.
Mr. Dalrymple thus describes this place : Imposing mountain ranges and high peaks occupy the whole background of the western
seaboard of the bay, of which Cape Upstart forms the N.W. extremity, and among which Mounts Abbott and Roundback, and Mount Aberdeen, and Clarke's Range of my expedition of 1859, are prominent. At 10 a.m. the low grassy undulations and rocky heads of the island and mainland forming the eastern boundary of Port Denison, lay before us in the western corner of Edge- cumbe Bay. An opening of about half a mile in width between a rocky headland at- tached to the mainland and the northern headland of the island, forms the gate-like entrance to the port. Mr. Smith sounded the passage in, and returning took the Spit- fire safely to her berth within the port under the island, which he named ' Stone Island,' after Mr. R. P. Stone, the officer of the ex- pedition. There are three fathoms right into the harbour without any bar whatever. The island is somewhat of a horse-shoe form, the concave being to the eastern, the convex forming one side of the southern en- trance to the port, and the northern head
the southern head of the north eastern or main channel by which the Spitfire entered. Port Denison is formed by a headland of grassy hills terminating in a barrier of rocks with abrupt pyramidal-shaped termination, running out from the northern shore, and enclosing the western corner of Edgecumbe Bay. From the south side of the north-eastern entrance to the S.E., its boundary is formed by ' Stone Island,' by a long sandy spit and sandy coral reef to the south of it. It is sheltered to the S.S.E. and S. by coral reefs, through which there is a five-fathom channel—by an island named Thomas Island, and by the mainland, which also forms the whole western and northern boundaries. The port approaches the elliptical in form, and is about three miles in length by two miles in breadth. The soundings over the whole of the avail- able and most sheltered parts are nothing under l8 feet at low water, spring tides, and in many places exceed 20 feet. It is well sheltered from all winds, and in fact I have great pleasure in endorsing Mr. Smith's opi- nion, which acquires the more weight from his great professional experience in these matters, that Port Denison is a very fine little harbor, and among those of Eastern Australia, only second in beauty and capa- city to Port Jackson. Low hills and swell- ing ranges, clothed with rich grass and openly timbered with eucalyptic, ash, iron- bark, &c, descend to the shores of the har- bor and neighboring coasts, here and there bounded by a very narrow belt of mangroves altogether the most beautiful coast coun- try I have yet seen in Australia."
The principal object being to find, if pos- sible, the entrance to the Burdekin, the party, after making a few observations of the surrounding country, rounded Cape Edgecumbe at daylight on the 12th Septem- ber, and after a careful examination of the coast, crossed Abbot's Bay to Cape Upstart, which they reached at 3 p.m. The next day (Thursday, the 13th September) was occu- pied in making astronomical observations, and examining the creeks on the south-western part of Cape Upstart. The 14th was occupied in making sketches, &c, from the heights of Cape Upstart. " The view from this elevated position of 1900 feet, writes Mr. Smith, gave
us a clear outline of numerous saltwater
creeks, none of which can be by any possibi- lity the outlet of the Burdekin."
Mr. Dalrymple, speaking of the view from the same spot says-" Our view from this commanding and isolated position em- braced the whole coast from Gloucester
Island and Mount Dryander to Cape Cleve- land and Mount Elliott, including ' Edge- cumbe,' 'Abbott,' and ' Bowling-green' Bays. I could distinctly trace the valley of the Burdekin from near my Mount Wickham of 1859, to the south, to the base of the tower- ing Mount Elliott to the north. Gregory's and Stoke's Ranges, which are named after two of our great sea and land explorers, bound its valley to the east. Leichhardt's Range, through which I forced a passage in Novem- ber last from the upper and lower Burdekin, and then named after that lamented ex- plorer, bounds the western side of the val- ley. I then found that the river ten miles below Mount M'Connell has broken its way through this mass of granitic mountains, having cloven a passage for about 15 miles in a north-easterly direction ; precipitous mountains heaped in wild confusion rising sheer out of its bed, which is also rendered totally impassable by huge boulders and slabs of granite and trap rocks ; on the east side it flows suddenly forth through a moun- tain gateway into the rich and beautiful broad valley of its lower course to the N.N. W., exactly contrary to the S.S. easterly direction of its upper channel. From our elevated position I could trace the river on the western shore of the bay discovered and ex- plored by Captain J. C. Wickham, R.N., in 1839, for a long distance, in the direction of Mount Elliott. Its mouth is two miles wide, its bed large and sandy. I was now at once struck with the peculiarity of the long, low sandy Cape Bowling-green spread out to the eye like a map. Totally unlike all the other headlands of this coast, which are mountainous and rocky, it runs far out to sea a dead level sandy Cape between the mountain walls of Capes Upstart and Cleve- land, and is seamed by many lines of river timber and by the bed of a river (the Wick- ham above named) too large to exist inde- pendent of the Burdekin in the narrow belt of land between its lower course and the ocean. I therefore came to the conclusion, which I immediately communicated to Mr. Smith, that Cape Bowling-green was a delta of several mouths of the Burdekin, and that the river found by Captain Wickham, R.N., was one of those mouths. From my know- ledge of the interior to the N.W., I was also enabled to state that the high ranges running out on 'Halifax' Bay pre- sented an impenetrable barrier to the fur- ther progress of the Burdekin to the north ; therefore that to proceed to where those ranges abutt directly upon the ocean to the westward of Magnetical Island, would place it beyond the river, and confine our search for its mouth on our return to Cleveland, Bowling-green, and Upstart Bays."
Having hove to during the night, the vessel rounded the headland, and anchored in Cleveland Bay on the morning of the 15th. Mr. Smith, Mr. Dalrymple, and Mr. Stone here went ashore, hoping, by friendly intercourse with the natives, to obtain fur- ther information respecting the mouth of the Burdekin. Mr. Dalrymple says :—" These gentlemen (Mr. Smith and Mr. Stone) were taking sights on an isolated rock. The bo- tanical collector, Jamie Alexander (one of our black boys), and myself, formed a guard on the rocks above. Some blacks came down and we gave them biscuit and tobacco, &c, being kind and civil to them, which they appeared to appreciate. They, how- ever, began to feel us all over, especially the botanist, who was in good condition-smack- ing their lips, and giving other unmistake- able evidences of a relish for human flesh, and a desire to gratify it. More blacks came down ; they attacked us with stones and spears, when we were necessitated to fire upon them , repulsing them with loss."
Cleveland Bay is thus described :—" CIeve- land Bay is about 12 miles in length and breadth; surrounded on the land side by towering ranges of mountains, of which Mount Elliott, elevated 4200 feet at the
south end, is the loftiest. Cape Cleveland runs out from the main in a chain of high
hills exactly similar to Gloucester Island, Cape Upstart, and Magnetical Island, which forms the north western boundary of the bay, only of lower elevation, and covered with pines, eucalypti, &c. The south end of the cape is divided from Mount Elliott by an expanse of low mangrove swamps and mud flats, intersected by saltwater creeks. The rocks of Cape Cleveland are granite and syenite of which I brought away specimens. A very auriferous quartz lay on the surface in small pieces, similar in appearance to that found at Mount Upstart, but I found in situ. Two fine specimens were also found in a canoe taken from the hostile natives; also a good specimen of felspar. The hills of the south and of the cape are formed of coarse granite, the summits being filled up with huge boulders and slabs. The above canoe, taken from the natives to prevent co-operation from the mainland, was quite different from the others along the coast, being formed of one large sheet of bark 10 feet long sewed up at either end with the cane-like creeper used for this purpose, all down the coast, and was capable of carrying six or seven men. The paddle was of a different and more rude construction than those further south, and the natives themselves taller, very black, and of a more savage cast and expression of features. I have re- marked that the aborigines about Magnetical Island take out the right front tooth-those of Mount Dryander the left, while those seen in Cleveland and Halifax Bays have no such peculiarity at all."
On the 16th considerable numbers of natives were seen about the beach and hills "shrieking and yelling most diabolically," but as the party did not land, they retired towards the south. The Spitfire having sprung her topmast, some of the party landed at Magnetical Island for the purpose of cut- ting a pine spar on the morning of the 17th September :—" Magnetical Island is high, rocky, and pine-clad, similar in character to Gloucester Island, Cape Upstart, and Cape Cleveland ; and is separated from the main- land by a narrow strait, partly dry, exposing sand banks at low water. The formation of this island also is granitic, immense boulders of this rock lining the shores and being piled on the summits and strewed over the slopes of the hills in wild confusion. Lofty pines spring out of the crevices of the rocks, giving considerable beauty to the scenery. The timber of this pine is rather heavy, but tough, and with a beautiful grain, qualities which recommend it for house and boat building, furniture, &c. It appears most nearly allied to the Auracaria Cookei. Natives and canoes were seen on the beach, and the smokes of their bush fires rose from all parts of the island as we coasted its western side to our anchorage between it and the main land, in the south corner of Halifax Bay. On the 18th September we examined the whole coast of Halifax Bay for an outlet of the Burdekin, as far as lati- tude 19 deg. south, where the towering ranges sweeping round from Mount Elliot from the south-south-east descend right into the sea from an elevation of 3,500 feet. To the north, these ranges continue in a high unbroken chain along the shores of Rocking- ham Bay, embracing the high outline of Mount Hinchinbrook in the distance. From Magnetical Island to Mount Hinchinbrook many lofty and rocky islands were plainly visi- ble. The coast of Halifax Bay is low , with a narrow belt of mangroves, faced by a beach of dead coral, sand, and shells. Behind the mangroves, swelling open forest ridges and low hills rise gradually back to the ranges, which embraces in its bend an extent of some 20 miles by 8, of fine country openly timbered and well adapted for cattle."
On this day and the 18th the party were engaged in examining thoroughly the coast to the North and the W.S. W. Whilst doing so they saw two natives in a canoe near Magnetical Island, and several signal smokes
about the coast.
" Having established the fact, by close examination," says Mr. Dalrymple, "that the Burdekin does not run into Halifax Bay, and there the high ranges which form the watersheds of the Burdekin, Perry, Mitchell, Lynd, and Kennedy interpose an impenetra- ble barrier to its passage further to the northward-a decision at which my previous knowledge of the interior greatly assisted me in arriving—I stated to Mr. Smith that the Burdekin lay between us and Cape Up- start. The Spitfire was accordingly put about, and we commenced our homeward route at a distance of 800 miles from Cape Moreton, and anchored again at our previous night's berth," (the north side of Magnetical Island.)
" On the morning of the 19th September (continues this gentleman) with Mr. Smith and party, I landed and ascended the grassy hills forming the south headland of Halifax Bay. In the clear morning light a beautiful and very distinct bird's-eye view was ob- tained of the coasts of Halifax Bay, Cleve- land Bay, and the mountains and valleys, and low country of the mainland. Imme- diately beneath the hills and large extent of salt water swamps, mud flats, and low plains, covered with large ant hills, stretched for 7 miles to the south, occupying the posi- tion assigned in the maps to 'a large sheet of water seen from the hills at Cape Cleve- land.' This does not, therefore, exist, but I have no doubt that during the rainy season the whole of the flat forms a lake of five or six miles in diameter, and was probably seen and reported on under such circum- stances. A broad valley from the S. between Mount Elliot and the western ranges de- bouches on this swamp, and is identical with that near the S. entrance, in which I last saw the channel of the Lower Burdekin in
Nov. 1859 This valley then lay right in the course of the Burdekin, and large river timber which from the hills I saw enter it, confirmed me in the belief that the river ran
into the sea by this route. This proves not to be the case ; the Burdekin must suddenly sweep round to the E. at the W. base of Mount Elliot ; and the river timber of the valley must be that of a tributary from the North Ranges. The whole coast country seems to swarm with blacks, whom we found here, as elsewhere, very hostile. From the hill top three large camps of them were seen on the flat close below. They saw and saluted us with loud yells, sent away the old men and gins with the camp equipage, and prepared for a move in our direction, which convinced me, from former experience, that mischief was brewing. Mr. Smith had just finished his observations on the hill- top, when a number of these natives came over the shoulder, and seeing us descending, got between us and the boats. At the bot- tom of the hill we had to descend about 30 feet of precipitous rocks right in face of the natives, who poised their spears, yelling and dancing in a very hostile manner, which for the safety of the party obliged us to fire upon them, when they retreated. We made a slow and orderly retreat to the boats, halting at intervals to face about and fire upon the more daring who followed us up, throwing spears. We had just shoved off, when about forty armed natives appeared on the beach, having crossed the hills by
two different routes to cut off our retreat.
The aborigines on Magnetical Island having watched the two boats' crews away from the vessel, came down on the Spitfire, armed, in two canoes, but were repulsed by Mr. Bousfield by a discharge of the brass gun. Having completed the examination of Hali- fax Bay, Mr. Smith weighed anchor(20th Sep.),
stood round the island, and again, anchored
in Cleveland Bay, which we also carefully explored. In the south corner a three fathom entrance was found into three large creeks , which receive the drainage of Mount Elliott, and from the hills of Cape Cleve- land, which we ascended, the main branch was seen to come from a large sheet of water to the south east of it, running into Bowling Green Bay; wreck, drift timber, &c, showed that this channel caries a good deal of flood water into Cleveland Bay. Two of these creeks would afford harbours for small coasters, for the requirements of the fine country behind them "
On Friday, the 21st, says Mr Dalrymple, " From the hills at Cape Cleveland I could distinctly see the point where I left the lower Burdekin in November, 1859, and am of opinion that these creeks form part of the system of its mouths. The whole of this part of the coast appears to be of granite formation. On the morning of the 22nd September we stood into the western corner of Bowling green Bay, to examine the large opening in the mangroves leading into this sheet of water, and which appeared like the entrance of a river south of Mount El- liott, we anchored off its mouth in three fathoms, about one mile and a half off shore. I accompanied Mr. Smith with two boats to examine this estuary, which we found barred right across in a semicircular form, about three quarters of a mile off shore. Crossing the bar with seven feet of water, a three fathom channel was found within, and we proceeded up a very promising looking river, with deep water, broad reaches, and evidences by wreck and drift timber, of being the drain of a large tract of country. We found the entrance to the creek seen to come from Cleveland Bay, about three miles up the river and Mr Smith named it Crocodile Creek, a large crocodile being seen basking on a sandspit at the junction. About four miles up the river, the man- groves alternated with small plains sprinkled with a few eucalypti, ash pandanus, palms, &c. We followed this branch up for about twelve miles, where the sandy bed was so shallow that progress in the boats was im- possible. The general course of this channel is from the S S E , coming from the direc- tion of the Wickham River and of the point where I left the Lower Burdekin, and which was not more than 20 to 30 miles off. Its sandy bed is formed of the detritus of pri- mary rocks full of gold coloured mica, and exactly similar to that of the whole course of the Burdekin. Here, also, we found the white duck, seen only on the lower course of that river. I could distinctly trace the valley of the Burdekin coming in this direc- tion, and feel perfectly satisfied that this is one of its mouths, and no salt water creek, having all the characteristics of a river, and being quite different to the other creeks and
estuaries. we have seen. This branch of the Burdekin is evidently turned eastward by the spurs of Mount Elliot, and sweeps close under his south-eastern base into Bowling Green Bay. Small plains, studded with clumps of eucalypti, tall cycas palms, and tea-trees, extend from the river bank to the base of the mountain, which rises massive and blue to a height of 4200 feet, its summit shrouded in a heavy bank of black clouds. No opening could be found through the bar into the river, the whole estuary being evi- dently silted up by the sand deposited by it, and beaten back by the prevailing N E. and S. E. winds on a lee shore. On the 23rd Septeraber, Mr Smith weighed and stood round the shores of Bowling Green Bay, to the S. E., where another broader mouth was discovered. Off this opening, sand banks ran out for a long distance, shoaling the water to three fathoms, six miles from the shore. The whole of Bowling Green Bay is shoal water, and must be white with breakers in easterly gales. It now blew very strong from that quarter, with con- siderable lee, and our position embayed on a lee shore, was a particularly unsafe one. A thunder storm broke over us in the night. On the morning of the 25th September, although the weather was very threatening, and heavy clouds continued to obscure the mountains, I accompanied Mr Smith in the whaleboat to examine the entrance of the river, which was a mile broad and breaking light across on a semicircular bar, extending from the projection of Cape Bowling Green on the E. far to the westward. We suc- ceeded in effecting an entrance, dragging the boats over the bar, and found three channels within, joining at the emboucher.
We proceeded up the largest channel with a strong flood tide, and found shortly that the others joined it. The general course was from the S.S.E., and its character very similar to the more westerly channel under Mount Elliot. We explored it for about 18 miles, when it became narrow, and, night coming on, we were obliged to stop and camp in a wet salt water swamp under drenching rain. Dense mangroves, of three distinct varieties, as usual, monopolise the banks of the lower course of this channel.
Farther up, these alternate with open grassy country, thinly timbered with eucalypti, Moreton Bay ash, Leichhardt tree, &c., &c., and well adapted for cattle pasture. The sections of soil exposed by the water on the banks of the river, showed a dark chocolate, and, at times, a black, alluvial deposit, suited to the growth of rice, sugar cane, tobacco, Indian corn, &c.; but the inundations which sweep over this low country during the tropical rains of the summer season, will be a serious obstacle to rendering this imme- diate locality of any agricultural utility for many years to come. About sixteen miles from the mouth, the channel contracted to a creek, but having deep water and certain undoubted indications of its origin in a river. Where open ground enabled a view to be obtained of the adjacent country, a very marked depression was evident from either bank of the river to the base of Mount Elliott on the one side, and towards Upstart Bay on the other, thus placing this outlet of the river at a higher level than those to the west and east. This peculiarity of formation I think, satisfac- torily proves the delta character of the pro- montory of Cape Bowling Green , as, doubt less, in those of the Nile, Ganges, and other large rivers, the original main channel has, by ages of deposit, raised the level of its bed above the surrounding country, ren- dering its mouth and course more shallow, and throwing the major part of its waters into lateral branches hitherto of minor importance. This at once accounted to me for the absence of very high flood marks, as any excess of water must, on topping the lip of the river, flow down the declivity on either side to the lower channels, and I have no doubt that through the Bowling Green delta will be found many old channels, in various stages of obliteration, either narrow and canal like, or shallow and sandy, and only used by the highest flood waters of the Burdekin, which, although 80 feet high on its lower course where I saw it, here spreads over the whole low country. Abundance of mullet, bream, sharks and multitudes of young crocodiles were seen in the waters. The large black duck and shell coloured and white duck of the Burdekin frequent this locality , native companions and turkey bustards stalked over the plains, curlews oyster catchers, white and grey, and black
and white cranes, large dark brown herons , shags, and thousands of small finches and song birds inhabit the shorts and thickets of the channel, numbers of pelicans were squatted on the sand banks at the mouth of this as well as of the Mount Elliot branch,
winging their flight from the south ; and as I saw large numbers of them in that direc- tion on the lower Burdekin and in no other
part of the district, I look upon this as an additional evidence in proof of these chan- nels being mouths of that river. As the position of the Spitfire was a most dangerous one, on the morning of the 25th of Septem- ber we pulled down the river and went on board, and at 1 p.m. we weighed and stood out of Bowling-green Bay against a stiff north-easterly wind and heavy sea. The
former veered to the south-east as we
rounded the Cape, and lasted all night, and on the afternoon of the 26th, we beat up under Cape Upstart, and anchored in our old berth. The closed up mouths of several other channels were distinctly seen on both sides of Cape Bowling-green delta. On the east side, besides the Wickham River, were two others of considerable size, but quite closed by banks, dry at low water and with a heavy break a long away off shore. Being most anxious to obtain a near bird's-eye view of the course of the Wickham and into the country beyond, across the the Bowling green delta, towards where ths channel of the Burdekin turns abruptly to the eastward, Mr. Smith weighed at 4 a.m. on the 27th September, stood across the bay, and an-
chored under Beach Mount near the mouth of that river, three-quarters of a mile off shore, in two fathoms. Aborigines were seen on the beach with a canoe. We landed, and found the newly killed carcass of a dugong, from which they were cutting steaks to roast on the coals in a very systematic manner, using for knives pieces of sharp edged quartz, of which I obtained specimens. The blacks retreated at our approach, many
of their smokes rose from the land behind the hill ; and to prevent molestation, this being part of the tribe which attacked me last year, we took possession of the canoe, and it is now in the Botanical Gardens in Brisbane. From the summit of Beach Mount, I was happily enabled by the ex- cellent view obtained of the Wickham River, at the whole Bowling-green delta, to the base of Mount Elliot, and the point where I left the lower Burdekin in November last, to satisfy myself that the first-named river, the two estuaries explored by us in Bowling-green Bay, and the one in Cleveland Bay, are un- questionably the long-sought mouths of the
Burdekin. The Wickham River is the
principal channel ; the mouth next to Mount Elliot the second, and the eastern branch in Bowling-green Bay, and the creek in Cleveland Bay, the third and fourth, and of least importance. It is evident that the River Burdekin has not always been choked up by this delta, but that at some remote period, it ran right out into a fine bay, formed by the headlands of Capes Upstart and Cleveland, in one unbroken channel, carrying the detritus of the primary rocks of a course of nearly 400 miles out to seaward, where, met at the entrance of the bay by the wash of the Pacific, propelled by the north- east, east, and south-easterly trades, it formed the hook-shaped sand-spit, which is now the extremity of Cape Bowling-green. The deposit of detritus in succeeding ages then doubtless gradually increased this ex- ternal accumulation, until the whole of the bay at the outfall of the river became an immense delta, extending from Beach Mount to Mount Elliot, and connecting with the point of the original out- side bank. This deposit doubtless raised the bed of the central channel, until being elevated as we found it above the adjacent lowlands, the waters of the river were diverted into the Wickham, the Mount Elliot branch, and a multitude of minor channels, radiating through the root of the Cape Bowling-green delta into the bays on either side. The result of these in- fluences, therefore, has been to split up the magnificent channel of the lower Burdekin, of nearly a mile in width, where I left it in November last, into three large and a mul- titude of small channels ; to convert its original principal channels into mere tide ways-to divert its waters into minor chan- nels, and to render every one of these unfit for the purposes of commerce and naviga- tion. Although there is water within, to afford navigation for flat bottomed vessels and steamers, every one of these mouths is completely barred from ingress from sea- ward, excepting at high water for very small vessels, whose entrance exit must de- pend upon the strength and direction of the trade winds. As the future development of this district brings the various estuaries of its sea-board into requisition for com- mercial purposes, doubtless the Wickham and the Mount Abbott Creek will connect the dray roads of the interior with the ex- cellent roadstead under Cape Upstart ; but those channels falling into Bowling green Bay can be put to no such purposes, the multitude of shoals and the entirely un- protected state of this bay rendering it not only utterly useless as a roadstead, but a very dangerous anchorage."
The examination of the mouths of the Burdekin being now completed, the Spitfire weighed anchor on the 28th September, and arrived off Port Denison on the 29th, "to complete a survey and exploration of its waters and shores, convinced (as the party were) of its superiority as a port in every respect, even had the Burdekin been found a very navigable river."
Mr. Dalrymple then proceeds to describe the Port, which he knew "to be easy of ac- cess from all parts of the interior," and we shall conclude our precis of his report by quoting still further the remarks of that gentleman :--
"From Cape Palmerston, the southern boundary of the Kennedy, to Port Denison, the whole coast is composed of metamorphic rocks, of which gneiss, quartz, and clay slates are the most common ; basalt and porphyry having apparently broken through them locally, as about Slade Point, Cape Hillsborough, and Port Molle; sandstones and other palaeozoic rocks occupy the Isaacs
and Suttor countries. From Port Denison to the northern boundary of the district in Rockingham Bay, the coast, its promonto- ries, and mountains, including the upper and lower valleys of the Burdekin, are nearly all of primary formation, granites of many varieties, syenites, &c. To the south-west of the Burdekin, however, I found much sandstone of a very red color, and saw cliffs of it far to the west and south-west of the Cape and Belyando rivers ; which, in de- tached ranges, appeared to be the continua- tion of the great Australian Cordillera, from the watershed of the rivers Cape, Belyando, Nogoa, Maranoa, Warrego, and Barcoo, to- wards the Cape York Peninsula, between the waters of the Pacific and the Gulf of Carpentaria. The palaeozoic and metamor- phic again occur in the valley of the lower Bur- dekin, and the former, at latitude 19° S. on the upper Burdekin , occurs in juxta-position to fields of basalt. Here on limestone hills, about 1500 feet above the sea, I found large fossil bivalves and corals similar to those found by Dr. Leichhardt, and reported upon by the Rev. W. B. Clarke. Metamorphic rocks again occur on Halifax and Rocking- ham Bays, with granites of fine varieties. During my expedition last year, I found con- siderable tracks of country in the neighbour- hood of Leichhardts and Robey's Ranges, bearing auriferous indications of a very marked description. On the ridges beneath the granitic mountains of Robey's Range especially, were mounds and huge blocks of white quartz, the strata of the watercourses
exposing clay slates, psamnite, and quartz, in layers ; blocks of the latter rock and quan- tities of black sands occupying the beds of the creeks. The appearance of the country to the south west and south of Port Denison leads me to anticipate auriferous indications in that neighbourhood also. The Rev. W. B. Clarke has long pointed to this region as the seat of the future gold-fields of the north, and my observations certainly give additional probability to the speculation, that here the future will develope the prin- cipal auriferous deposits of Queensland. *
* * I have brought in the Spitfire a collection of geological specimens from every point of the coast where we touched, and which, when they have been examined by the Rev. W. B. Clarke, I shall beg to be permitted to hand over to the government.
The vegetation of these latitudes, although of course partaking far more of the tropical
character and luxuriance than the more southern parts of Queensland, with the ex- ception of the absence of the box and apple tree, and a change in the character of the pines and sundry other trees and shrubs, ap- pears to lose none of the woods or plants of the latter region, all being found in the soil and situation suited to their growth, and ap- pearing more dependent upon these than upon latitude and temperature for their existence. Deciduous trees and shrubs are far more nu- merous, and palms, figs, wild plums, and other edible native fruits, are more plentiful than to the south. A far greater variety of flowering and sweet-scented shrubs and plants give beauty and sweetness to the scrubs and shady nooks of the mountain gorges and the rocky ravines of the coast and islands. The grasses of the district are of great variety, richness, and nutritive pro- perty ; and there is very little scrub, offer- ing harbor to hostile natives or an escape for cattle, to prevent the speedy occupation of this splendid district. In animal life the Kennedy is not very prolific, I presume from the numbers of aborigines. It can however boast of three new species of kan- garoos and wallabies, viz., a large handsome dark chocolate coloured kangaroo, with dark tan muzzle, tail, and paws very similar in shape and size to the walleroo ; a lighter chocolate coloured rock wallaby ; and an- other mouse-coloured variety, with whitish tail and muzzle. There is certainly a greater amount of insect and reptile life. Snakes are abundant and of large size ; a green snake was seen at Port Denison 10 feet long
and four inches in diameter. Crocodiles are abundant in the rivers and large creeks. Last year I saw several in the Lower Bur- dekin and Bowen, and two in the Upper Burdekin, about 200 miles from the sea. They are of two distinct species ; one a very large yellowish crocodile about 20 feet long with broad webbed feet ; the other smaller, about 16 feet long, nearly black, and with smaller feet, shaped more like the flippers of a turtle. Those found in the Fitzroy are very similar, and I have no doubt will prove to be identical, although they appear to become more numerous in the tropics. The aborigines of the Kennedy are more numerous than
any other part of the Eastern coast of Aus- tralia. They are generally large athletic men, and have as yet proved hostile to the few white wanderers who have traversed the country. I have now been able to hold in- tercourse with them in almost every part of the district, both on the sea board and in the interior, from latitude 18° 48' 0" south to the head of the Isaacs, and to the westward of the Cape River, and can confidently assert that they have no admixture of the Malay, and in no particular differ from the Alforian type peculiar to the Australian savage, far- ther than may be occasioned by differences of climate, locality, and food. That the coast blacks are cannibals I have no doubt, but I believe that this fearful propensity commences only near the Tropic of Capri- corn. Not only have I heard evidence of this from eye-witnesses, both as a gastro- nomical and superstitious rite ; but I can discover nothing in the character of the aborigines of the north-east coast to warrant the supposition of their innocence of those outrages against humanity which have been, and still are, practised by their intellectual and physical superiors and neighbors all over the Pacific. The now semi-civilised and noble New Zealander was but the other day a cannibal ; and I have heard no sufficient argument against the existence of this fiendish practice among a
race, ranking, unquestionably with the low- est of the human species. I do not think that the blacks of the interior are cannibals ; they obtain abundance of animal food from the kangaroo species, but on the coast the latter are scarce, and the natives are glutted with rich oily fish, including dugong and turtle, which creates a craving for animal food. The aborigines of the Kennedy have certainly appeared to me to have more in- tellect than their southern neighbours, although this varies with the locality ; and I have no doubt that they may ultimately be made more useful when the advantages of submission to the whiteman have become
apparent to them. In their weapons and in every other respect they are very similar to the rest of their countrymen, excepting that the workmanship and ingenuity displayed in the erection of their huts, and formation of their canoes, nets, fishing lines, dilly-bags, clubs, and weapons, is superior to anything I have seen elsewhere in Australia. The climate of the Kennedy District, although decidedly tropical, is particularly healthy the Easterly Trade Winds moderating the temperature at all seasons, while the direct rays of the summer sun, which in those la- titudes are extremely penetrating, are gener- ally subdued or wholly obscured by the dense clouds of the rainy season, which sets in in November and December with tropical severity." * * * "During the whole time that I was in the district, viz., from October, 1859, till the end of January, 1860, the prevailing wind was from the N.E., and the highest reading of the ther- mometer was 98° Fahrenheit in the shade in December ; the lowest reading of the same month being 71°, and the mean temperature for the month 83½° Fahrenheit In the shade of a tree. No hot wind was experienced in the district ; and I attribute to its position between the Pacific and Gulf of Carpentaria,
and the north of the furnace-like blast which sweeps out of the central desert over New New South Wales and Victoria, the equable and moderate temperature of the climate and the regularity of the periodical rains."