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THE LAST MEMBER.
MR. STEPHEN KING DEAD.
In our obituary columns to-day the death is announced of Mr Stephen King, the last member of the historic expedition of Mr. J. McDouall Stuart, which, over half a century ago, performed the remark- able feat of crossing through the centre of Australia from Adelaide to the shores of the Indian Ocean. Mr. King, who was born on the family estate of Kings-
ford, near Gawler, on December 15, 1841, was the son of a well-known pioneer colonist of the same name, who arrived from England in January, 1839, and who, strange to say, also died at Kensington-terrace, Kensington. Mr King was educated first by private tutors and then by the late Canon Coombs and Dean Russell. He finished his studies at the famous academy of Mr. J. L. Young. While he was at that school he saw Howell, the explorer, and his party return from one of their adventurous trips into the un-
known. Inspired by this example, he left ¡ his father's station in 1861, and from Oc- tober 1 of that year to February, 1863, en- dured great hardships in the 4,000 miles' journey as a member of Stuart's transcon- tinental party. He took the sketches on that memorable expedition for the leader, and it was also Mr. King who marked the letters "J.McD.S." on the tree discovered afterwards by Mr. G. R. McMinn. The strenuous life did not quench his ardor for .bush experience, and in 1863 he was in the employ of Messrs. C. B. Fisher & Roche- fort, travelling stock from Pekina to Gun- nawarrah, near Swan Hill, 'Victoria. He next took up pastoral country on his own account, but the life did not suit his wan- dering spirit.
The following year (1864) saw Mr. King a member of the Hon. B. T. Finniss' ex- pedition to colonise the Northern Terri- tory. Mr. King's father was also con- nected with the party as storekeeper, and the son had charge of the stock in transit by the steamer South Australian for the new settlement at Adam Bay. He landed sheep at Escape Cliffs, and started from there in charge of the horse party, with Mr. F. H. Litchfield's expedition to the head of the Adelaide River and back. During this journey he was seized with fever and ague. His life was almost
despaired of, and he was carried back in a litter for more than a week's march to the depot. An advance party secured the aid of Dr. Ninnis, who, after a two-days' ride, came to the relief of the patient, and ordered his return to Adelaide. Among the exploits of Litch- field's party was the discovery of the Fin- niss and Reynolds Rivers, and the find- ing of gold near the former stream in the gorge of Mount Bennett. The par- ties had to keep a good watch against treacherous aborigines; and one shepherd, Alaric Ward, who held that the blacks could be trusted and went out unharmed, was brutally murdered. When his body was found close to the main camp, it was seen to have been pierced by a spear from the back to the front of the chest, and the victim had died while attempting to beat off his assailants, with a survey peg for his only weapon.
After his return to Adelaide in Feb- ruary, 18G6, Mr. King was engaged in Go- vernment survey work in the field in vari- ous localities. From December, 1868. to March, 1870, he assisted Mr. Goyder in the survey of the town of Darwin, and in the following August entered the employ as surveyor and explorer of Messrs. Darwent and Dalwood, who had contracted to con- struct 600 miles of the overland telegraph line from Darwin. When the Government took over the work, Mr. King continued in the like service, under Sir Charles Todd and "Mr. R. C. Patterson. He' was with the advance party to Powell's Creek. He opened the first track for teams from Elsie
Creek to the Roper River landing, and constructed a jetty near Leich- hardts Bar. He also opened up the first track-with loaded teams to Daly Waters. It was about this period that parties in charge of Mr. Walter Rutfc (now Chief Engineer for Railways) and Mr. R. C. Burton (at present an officer of the Wes- tern Australian Government) were away north of Elsie Creek, and short of stores. The exact 'whereabouts of the parties -was .unknown, but Mr. King and Mr. Giles
?were sent to the relief with teams and paekhorses, and arrived not a moment too soon, for the stock of available provi- sions had run out, and the parties were discovered 'in dire straits, and driven to the necessity of killing some of their .working cattle.
In 1S74 Mr. King rejoined the Survey Department, and for twenty years was on active duty 'in various parts of Sout.i Australia. Then he was transferred to Adelaide, where his experience was ex- tremely valuable in the indoor départ- ement. In consideration of his services in Australian exploration he was some years ago granted ' the distinction of honorary meihbership of the South Australian branch of the Roy«! Geographical "?ocifty.
Mr. King said of Stuart-"He was a çreat leader but a martinet also, for he ruled with a rod of iron. Probably thit ? wa« why he waa so successful, for it was
a wonderful thing to perform such a jour- ney without losing man . or equipment." Mr. King always ackntnvledged the debt he owed to his great leader, and the training he received from him -was invalu- able to him. When Mr. King retired from the' public service in 19*12 many compli- mentary things were said of his excellent ?work for the State, of which he was re- garded as being a most valuable and loyal
official. Much sympathy will be extended I to his widow in ter bereavement.