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IL John Francis Connelly's Explorations
by JAMES CONNELLY
AFTER reporting his discovery of gold on
the Nannine reef, J. F. Connelly set out for Moorarie and Mt. Maitland to fulfil the rest of his commission to explore the Murchison. Drought conditions pressed the party hard and they continued their journey until the Gascoyne River was reached. Three of the party then decided to push away to the north, and Con- nelly, accompanied by a native boy, after a few weeks' further exploration of the country retraced his steps, realising that it was useless to continue further while the drouaht lasted.
It was at this stage that Con- nelly became aware of the fight he would have to make to reach civilisation. The sun's rays seemed to burn the very ground beneath their feet, and owing to the scarcity of water and the dearth of feed, travel by midday had to be aban- doned. Finally his native boy left him. Only a man of good morale and iron constitution could suffer the hardships that Connelly endured and come out alive, which he eventually did; but his former companions of the expedition were missing somewhere near to Mt. Augus- tus. Their fate was revealed
AT NANNINE: A group of Nannine pioneers in 1891.
by the discovery of the bleached remains of one, and the equipment of the others (never since heard of) dry perished on the seared rock- bound heads of the Frederic Lyons River. Doubtless they succumbed, # as many others have done, in the wilderness of the Australian inland for want of water.
At Annean, Connelly assisted Police Constable Troy (Gold- fields Warden) to define the original boundaries of the proclaimed Murchison Gold- fields and a street parallel to the railway line in the town- ship of Nannine now records his name. Connelly then com- menced to open up his six acre lease which adjoined McPher- son's claim and to which it was considered by mining expert Cruikshank to be next in rich- ness. Mr. Cruikshank in his
report mentions seeing in Con- nelly's possession a rich speci- men with veins of gold as thick as a man's finger running through it. Connelly continued to open up his show and took a goodly quantity of gold from it before selling out to a South Australian firm for £3,100.
(CONNELLY left the field in
October, 1891, with Rob- son, Peterkin Junior, McPher- son, and Kinnane, the police- man who was sent up as escort for the 3,100 sovereigns carried I by company promoter Edwards
to purchase Connelly's claim (now part of the Murchison ; Consolidated G.M. Ltd.) and which, when delivered, had to be brought down again. Con : nelly then proceeded to Gipps 1 land» Victoria, on behalf of a : Perth syndicate regarding .the
"Brittania" Reef, and thence to N.S.W. He was later equip- ped by Mr. Kozminsky, of Maffra, Victoria, and sub- sidised by the Government : Mining Board to prospect the
western district of N.S.W. for deep alluvial lead and platinum. ! Returning to Western Aus-
tralia in 1893, he prospected for minerals and ores of economic worth for William : Lawrence, of the "Bazaar"
Syndicate. In the course of : this he searched the Shark : Bay coast and its interior on
the Coor-de-wandy and Yalba. ; Twin Peaks on the Wooramel
Riverhead, across the. Maca- dam Plains, and down the val- ley of the Gascoyne and along the coast to the Flint Clin* telegraph station. There he met the officer in charge (Mr. Thompson), who graciously provided a pearling lugger in which they together crossed over to Dirk Hartog Island where Connelly hailed a steamer inward bound from Singapore to Fremantle.
JN 1894 he was again in the
field with an expedition equipped by Mr. W. R. Wil- son, of Broken Hill fame. Starting from Perth he ex- plored by way of New Norcia to Gibberding, Lakes Cow Cowing and Moore to Mount Kenneth, on to Pigeon Rocks, north of Mount Jackson. Arriv- ing at the. Rocks (huge hold granite bosses) the serious dearth of water that they had encountered all through the journey was sorely felt by man and beast. The party, now on a quart of water a day, searched for soaks at the base of the rocks. They sank shafts for the purpose but were dis- appointed. In the meanwhile their poor beasts, now suffer- ing their fifth day of thirst were in sorry plight and almost frantic. 1 But for a timely light thunderstorm re- plenishing the rock holes, dis- aster seemed inevitable.
Of this rough inhospitable land Connelly in his diary says: "Strangely enough, it is ob- served we have traversed on the one bearing 170 miles of coun- try without the semblance ol even a creek or channel bed of any kind and with absolutely no natural catchment for sur- face water whatever, save a few isolated granitic rocks, which to the traveller serve as a precarious local catchment and the only ready salvation tc this desolate, unhabitable, meaningless waste. Waste in- asmuch as there apears to b.e but little surface potable waters; few and sparse indigenous herbs and grasses; low scraggy and impoverished timbers-use- less, sapless and brittle; anc poor soils. Tracks only,^ ol emus, kangaroos, and turkey: are few and far between; nests of the scrub or mallee hen were met with only near namir holes: discarded relics of the natives dry-perished and used in past decades. Natives too, were th« poorest. We have seen none since leaving Clinch's, nor anj tracks save those of severa! seasons past. They were in variably mean and dejected ir person and of the starving-pooi order fast being decimated bj the hard conditions; season; likewise offering but as one one grandly blended everlasting quartette reposing under thf rays of one long dry summer reigning rampant over an un periodical never-never country and in which nature herself be comes lifeless as she hersell sinks into the years.
"I deduce and conclude th« whole foregoing may be at tributed to this significant fae -there is no great altitude o country, and the parent-rocl (granite) is observed to be pre
JAMES FRANCIS CONNELLY,
dominant and so shallow that there "* is but little left or ex- posed for the disintegrating in- fluence of rain, wind and air to operate upon, and conse- quently no declivity of surface for gravitation and creation of newer formations of soils."
The overseer of Clinch's Sta- tion observed to Connelly that no rain had fallen on the station worth recording for over two years and none before that for nearly five years.
(To be continued next week)