THE CAMBRIDGE GULF EXPEDI-
[FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.]
We left Fremantle, as you know, on the 29th March, in the s.s. Albany, and at 10 p.m. the following evening reached Geraldton where we were right royally received by our friends. We had however but a couple of hours run on shore when the stern orders of our captain recalled us to the ship and we pushed on in stormy weather to Carnarvon, where a good many of us landed, and again received a demonstrative and hearty greeting. We touched at Onslowville on our way to Cossack, and there found the Government Resident waiting to welcome Messrs. Forrest and Price. Some of the expedition landed and took a run up to Roebourne.
After leaving Cossack we fell in with the s.s. Otway and, further on, in Sunday Straits, with the s.s. Natal. Entering King Sound we passed groups of picturesque little islands, and skirting the main land steamed on to the anchorage near Derby. Here we received the welcome news that gold in large quanti- ties had been found in East Kimberley. It may be imagined with what rejoicing this intelligence was met, everyone was jubi- lant and excited. So soon as a boat could be lowered, Messrs. Forrest and Price and others of the party went ashore and after walking between two and three miles reached the Residency when they found the Government Resident and heard full par- ticulars. With these, however, I need not trouble you, as you have probably obtained full accounts from your Derby correspondent.
It is difficult to get reliable information as
to the best route to the fields. Of course the Derby people are anxious to secure the ad- vantage they have gained in being the first to receive news of the finds and visits from the successful diggers. It appears also that some of the parties which left Cambridge Gulf for the heads of the Ord missed the clear open country through which a route may be found and encountered mountainous spurs which considerably impeded their progress causing them to report unfavourably of Cam- bridge Gulf as an outlet in consequence. The shortest route to the gold fields from Cam- bridge Gulf is from the Bastion Hills, fol- lowing the course of the Pentecost river and thence of the Margaret (Elvire ?) until the traveller finds himself at Mount Barratt in
the vicinity of which the digging operations are now being carried on. This line, how- ever, has not been surveyed, and although shorter than the other via the Ord, cannot be recommended until something further is
known of it. As regards distance the Cam- bridge Gulf route is 100 miles nearer than that via Derby. At Cambridge Gulf also there is every facility for landing horses, stock and stores, steamers being able to lie close in to the shore. Unfortunately Derby has not these advantages, shipping being forced to anchor in Amur Pool, a mile and a half to two miles from the shore, while before the town is reached a mile and a half of marsh, over which a kind of a tramway has been laid, must be crossed.
We left Derby accompanied by the best wishes of its inhabitants and proceeded on our voyage, two days afterwards encounter- ing a " Cock-eyed-Bob," though not one of a very serious nature. These " Cock-eyed Bobs " are sort of hurricanes accompanied by pouring rain, alternating with calms. On the 13th April we sighted Lacrosse Island and entered the mouth of the Gulf passing some extraordinary hills of striking geological for- mation, and reaching View Hill, where we came to an anchor at 2 p m. Messrs. Forrest and Price and others went ashore at once and visited the two stores, run respective- ly by Messrs. Durack and Lucanas. These stores are placed at the base of View Hill which is a mount 600 feet high sparsely cov- ered with vegetation. This locality did not impress the Chiefs as an eligible site for the township of Wyndham. The storekeepers have been here six months and state that they have not yet been molested by natives.
Some important information regarding the Gold Fields was obtained from Mr. Leonard Elvey, a digger of twenty five years' exper- ience whom we found here, he having come in from the fields with 33 ounces the day be- fore our arrival. This gold he had found in the South Elvire—known to the diggers as the Black Elvire—which runs into the Pan- ton River. He reports the route from View Hill to the Elvire or South Elvire and Hall's Creek, all running into the Panton River, as being an excellent one. The distance he cal- culates as 240 in a direct course, but by way of the stations where he had to procure sup- plies he considers he travelled over 300 miles. Parties, however, well sup- plied with stores, can take the direct route which has been followed by Mr. Mc. Fee as well as by Mr. Elvey. When the latter left the Elvire Messrs. Headley and Moore were in possession of 500 ounces of gold, while others were also doing well. He took fifteen days to accomplish the distance between the fields and View Hill.
Intelligence of a disquieting nature w s brought on board regarding the supposed loss of Mr. Lucanas, manager of one of the stores, Mr. Burrows, a surveyor employed by the Victorian Pastoral Association, Mr. Pitt, director of the Cambridge Downs Pastoral Association and three or four others who had left View Hill for Stockdale Landing five days before the arrival of the Albany. It was feared that some accident had happened to their boat or else that they had been attack- ed by natives. The Government Resident im- mediately despatched one of the ship's boats
in charge of constables Strickland, and Johnston to search for the missing party. It returned after some hours with Mr. Lucanas, and Mr. Sampson on board who stated that they had anchored their boat at the Landing at low tide by means of a large stone and that when the tide rose the stone rose also and the boat drifted off down the Gulf. The rest of the party had gone up to a station 15 miles from the landing and had not returned.
Shortly after daybreak next morning the Albany was again under way and pro ceeding up sou' west arm of the Gulf towards the West Bastion Hills. Diffi- culty was found in navigating the ship as the passage is very intricate. Captain Anthon says, however, that were four buoys laid in certain positions between the two lo- calities the channel would be easy enough to navigate, but as it is constant recourse to the lead is indispensable. The Captain found that he could place full reliance upon the soundings taken by Staff Commander Cogh- lan during his late visit to the Gulf.
In the early morning the Albany reached Bastion Hills which present an extremely rugged and irregular front, and anchored about a quarter of a mile from the shore. After some little difficulty owing to the mud and mangroves lining the shore a landing was effected, at about 10 a.m and the high ground at the back was climbed, whence the party saw stretched beneath them the whole of the sur- rounding country and the site of the pro- posed new township of Wyndham which is on a gentle slope inclining towards the King River—a stream running into the sou' west ern arm of the Gulf just above the Bastion Range. A good supply of fresh water w as subsequently found in a narrow gorge at the foot of the hill. Later in the day the ves- sel was brought to a fresh anchorage where she was able to lie within 15 yards of the shore at low tide and where a 20 yards width of mud which had to be crossed before reaching terra firma was easily bridged with planking. Alligators appeared during the evening and swam round the ship.
Next day the sheep and 40 of the horses were landed with the greatest ease—the horses being slung over the vessel's side into a flat which was pulled ashore by means of ropes. While one of the horses was being put into the sling he took fright and jumping over the side of the vessel nearly swamped the police dingy which lay below. An- other horse on being lowered into the flat commenced kicking and rearing to such an extent that Captain Anthon and one of the
men were pitched into the water. All how- ever, were eventually landed without serious accident and the men then commenced to work steadily at discharging and storing the
The day after the Albany's arrival at the Bastion Hills Messrs. Forrest and Price made an examination of the country lying between those elevations and Parry's Creek, distant about 16 miles. Fresh water pools were passed covered with pale blue water lilies and other beautiful aquatic plants ; then rich pasture lands were crossed—extensive plains without even a shrub, well stocked with game, native companions, turkeys and pigeons, while in on place tracks of natives and of jackals were discovered. On arrival at Parry's Creek—which appeared to be a series of lagoons—the party camped for a couple of hours. These pools were again covered with the blue water lily amongst which thousands of ducks, water hens, and other game swam tranquilly, totally undisturbed by the unwanted appearance of man upon the scene. Besides the game I have mentioned cranes, cockatoos, plover, quail, snipe, etc., were found in abundance. The plains are excellent feeding ground, and the soil upon the banks of the creeks seemed admirably adapted for cultivation ; while from the ranges any quantity of stone can be procured for the construction of buildings. The party returned to camp late in the evening much pleased with the character of the country traversed. An examination of the country to the northward of the Bastion Hills was subsequently made, but it was found inferior
to that on the King River side.
On Monday April 19 Captain Anthon and Messrs. Forrest and Price went by boat up the King River. Soundings were taken for 15 miles up its course which showed that at low tide the shallowest depth was three fathoms, while, in places seven or eight fathoms were found. Captain Anthon con- siders the river navigable for large vessels as far as the distance stated. Mangroves and mud line the banks, but landing places could be constructed at small expense. The coun- try was some of it remarkably pretty, grass was plentiful and water-holes and creeks in abundance. The party returned to camp
after an absence of 24 hours.
On April 21 the first police court was held, Mr. Forrest presiding. Two cases were heard, the defendant in each being Frederick Brown, blacksmith, attached to the party. The prosecutor in the first case was Mr. S. H. Wright, clerk of the court, who charged the defendant with making use of abusive language calculated to lead to a breach of the peace. For this offence he was fined 40s. with an alternative of fourteen days' imprison- ment. The fine was paid. In the second case the prosecutor was the Government Resident, who proceeded against Brown under the Masters' and Servants' Act for refusing to work during his absence at the King
River. For this offence defendant was severely reprimanded and dismissed with a caution. The court over, preparations were made by Messrs. Forrest and Price for a three or four days trip through the country between the Bastion Hills and the Ord River eastward, and at eleven a.m.
they started. During their absence the discharging of cargo proceeded, while
the carpenter was busily engaged in putting up a temporary store to protect our six months' provisions. Alligator hunting
enlivened the proceedings. On one oc- casion two men crawling through the mud succeeded in getting close to one of these saurians and fired three shots at him, one of which hit him in the head but without any injurious effect. Fossils were also collected —fine specimens of petrified cray-fish, man- grove bark, roots, fish, etc. By Good Fri- day the store was roofed in and all the goods safely housed in it.
On April 24, Messrs. Forrest and Price returned and reported most favourably of their exploration—good grass and a plentiful supply of water having every- where been found. The route taken out- wards to the Ord was round the southern slope of the Bastion Hills and the homeward route by the Northern, the latter, if anything, being superior to the former. The Ord, where the party struck it was a magnificent river of fresh water, beautifully clear and easy of navigation. Altogether the trip was most successful and well repaid Messrs. Forrest and Price for the trouble taken to examine
the country lying at the back of the import-
ant future town of Wyndham.
Next Sunday a trip was taken by boat to the ' Gut,' a narrow strait connecting the northern with the southern reaches of the sou' west arm of the Gulf. Soundings were taken which showed that vessels of any tonnage could navigate this channel, the only drawback being the strong tides which run at the rate of 10 or 12 knots. The boat, however, ex-
perienced no difficulty, going in with the flow
and out with the ebb. While passing through the ' Gut' kangaroo rats in quantities, star- tled by the boat, scampered over the rocks. Throughout the day native's signal fires were to be seen upon the hills. The boat returned to the vessel early in the afternoon. Two shooting parties reached camp shortly after- wards having bagged some beautiful blue and brown parrots with brilliant scarlet wings, also a few white cockatoos and a couple of laughing jackasses. Next day the vessel completed the landing of all the Government cargo, and Mr. Hamilton and Dr. Raghib left for View Hill in one of the ship's boats where they were to be picked up by the Albany on her return. Mr. Hamilton, who accompanied all the exploration parties, considers the climate of the Gulf to compare favourably with that of Northern Queensland, with with which he is well acquainted. The heat during the stay of the Albany averaged about 95 degrees, the sky being generally
On the afternoon of Mr. Hamilton's
departure an inspection was made of the wells and waterholes sunk since the arrival of the Government Resident. Some fear had been entertained that the water in the gorge would give out, but springs higher up were discovered and the supply will no doubt prove sufficient, the men having been set to work at sinking with satisfactory
On April 27, all the members of the ex- pedition under the command of Mr. Price were photographed by Mr. Forrest, who had previously taken some admirable views of the Gulf Scenery. Nothing further of impor- tance occured, save a satisfactory inspection of the water supply till next morning, when, at daybreak, the Albany weighed anchor and steamed away carrying with her the best
wishes of those left on shore.
Wyndham, April 28.