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15 corrections, most recently by juliaj - Show corrections

A NEW RIVER DISCOVERED, BY THE

HON. G. F. MOORE, ESQ., ON A RECENT EXCURSION TO THE NORTHWARD.

(Continued.)

We were unwilling to rest so soon, but a guide, who had accompanied us, said there was no water further on ; in which (as we afterwards found) he was not speaking the truth ; but this appeared a favorite place with the natives, as there was plenty of " Yandyait" — that broad flag or sedge, the roast- ed root of which they eat with avidity. To pre- vent the necessity of mentioning the particular description of the character of this valley, which I marked in my Journal, I may say at once that it greatly resembles the place called Ebenezer Flats, on the York road — the soil on the hills a stiff red loam, softening in quality, and darkening in color, as it descends. The trees are (in order as you descend from the high grounds) Wando (white gum with a rusty tinge), Kardan (red-gum), Mangart (raspberry-jam), Toart (the York gum), casuarina, wattle, and swamp oak. The stone consists of fragments of quartz and felspar. At the place where we stopped there was a long suc- cession of deep pools in the course of the water bed, as if the river was beginning to scoop out a decided channel for itself, but had dug deep only where the ground was soft, leaving the rest to be hollowed out on future occasions; the pools were perhaps twenty feet deep from the level of the ground, with sides so shelving, that it was scarcely possible to stand upon them. Bringing my fishing tackle into requisition, the bait was scarcely in the water, when it was seized, and up came a fine cobbler of nearly two pounds — the first perhaps that ever was drawn out of that pool since its creation. The natives call this fish, in the fresh water, "Moyoart," and its relative, in the salt water, "Garalyer." Sailors call them " cobblers," and in my hurry to reover the hook from the fish, I fancied I learned the reason of the name, by get- ting a deep " probe " in the finger from an awl- shaped sort of spike, which he seemed to   wield at each of his fins. Warned by the native that the sting was poisonous and would cause in- flammation up the arm, I sucked my finger and drew blood copiously from it, and, perhaps, to this precaution owe the comparative impunity of a mere temporary pain. Between five and six dozen fish were pulled out of these pools during that evening, and the next morning, an abundance, which enabled me to gratify the natives, without much inconvenience to myself. They had never got any here before, for though they have a very ingenious mode of clearing the shallow pools of fish, these holes were too deep for their operations. At one end of the shallow pools they introduce a quantity of brushwood and bushes, which they push before them, and so sweep out all the fish at the other end. At night I renewed my inquiries about a river among some natives of this quarter,   who had arrived in the evening, and now, for the first time, heard the mention of water at a place called " Jaydeep," a day's journey to the north, without any intervening halting place of grass or     water. It seemed to be rather out of their usual beat, and a discussion sprung up among themselves as to its locality. At length Needyal silenced them, with an air of one who would say, " I'll tell you all about it;" and, in a rapid and hurried manner, he seemed to give an itenerary of names of men and hills and waters and grounds so com- plete, that they all assented with a kiah ! kiah ! and then turned to me with an air of the greatest complacency, as if I must now be informed to my complete satisfaction. Must I acknowledge that I was not much the wiser, but I had stationed Wee- nat beside me, with a caution to attend and un- derstand it. Needyal's utterance was so rapid, his pronunciation so thick, and his gesture so energetic, that I was rather amused at his manner, than in- terested in the matter of his story. One part of his description seemed to have particular reference to the immediate subject of my inquiry, but at the same time appeared so questionable and so ludic- rous, from his animated manner of "' suiting the action to the word," that I was constrained to in- dulge in a laugh, which seemed lo offend him. I   hastened to make amends. His words were these, as well as I could catch them : — " Needya Beloo colo colo, boorda bokal derbacolo, boorda yerapp, Garbanup, Gabby wotan wato ;" as if he had said; "there the river runs, runs till it runs headforemost under a hill ; by and bye it rises again and goes past Garbanup out to the sea." Now it would be too much to say that I saw the river afterwards perform this marvellous feat, but I will tell in due

"time what I did see, and leave it to the reader to say, whether poor Needyal's animated description waa not true in fact though figurative in expres-   sion. It wasa great point gained, to find that the   river I was going to, fell into the sea near Garba-   nup, and with this information we retired to rest. As we were about composing ourselves to sleep, Weenat started up with an exclamation — Waow ! Allenait? Ho! What is there? No answer.   After trying again, with as little success, sudden- ly changing his tone, he called out, " Well, Sir, you come here, me gun choot him — kill him dead. But this English producing no more effect than his mother tongue, he declared it to be either a Bolia or a Cheirgah — a wizard or a ghost. The former opinion seemed to prevail in the encampment, for two men immediately proceeded with torches to walk a circle in opposite directions round the huts, making a noise as if snuffing up the air and exhal- ing it forcibly from their lungs. Some one of the party affirmed that he saw a Bolia ascend in the shape of a white cockatoo, and having thus satis- factorily warded off the witchcraft, all betook themselves to repose. In the morning I asked Needyal how far it was to the river. He said I must make haste and walk all day, and that the sun would be setting when we saw it; that there was no other water nor grass to stop at. Placing the compass under his hand as he pointed how we should go, the line was N N.E , and this was our only guide. After distributing some more cobblers among them, and presenting Toodyeep with a hook and line, we proceeded on our way. Adhering strictly to the N.N.E. course, over hill and dale, in the space of nine miles we crossed a valley, which we supposed to be the same that we started from, no fewer than five times. Thence, for 14 niilee further on, our course lay over hills of the ordinary description of the Darling Range. The last hill that we defended consisted of fragments of whin- stone and quartz, and at its base we came into a valley of good soil, with a water-course trending to the north It was now about the time we hoped to see the river, but there was no sign of it ; so turning down the valley, we began to search for water and pasture for the horses — the sun set, the twilight failed, and no river. We had come about 27 miles since morning, but were obliged to stop, where there was good grass, and the valley ap- peared to have expanded on all sides. We had brought some cobblers with us; Weenat baked them in the embers, wrapped in paper-tree bark, and, from the richness and moisture of that deli- cious dish, suffered but little uneasiness from want of water. Next morning we started at daybreak, and had not proceeded 200 yards before we saw the flooded i»um trees, which indicate the vicinity of water, — the horses instinctively quickened their pace, — we struck upon the river at a fine long reach, and rushed down the first opening to the water. Numbers of ducks fluttered off in great alarm as the horses plunged in to quench their thirst. Handing the flask to Hefferon to qualify his draught, he said, " Sir, as you are the first to see this river here, I think you have a right to name it; I'll christen it, if you please, Sir, the " River Moore ;"' ' and so he made his libation, but not on the ground. Whether his christening will he considered good, is not for me to say. We had now leisure to look around us. The river here was not running, but in pools and reaches, at different distances. Judging from the length and depth of the reach, the breadth of the water-course, and height of the banks, the river appeared to be in- termediate in size between the Swan and the He- lena. The appearance of the country at this par- ticular place very much resembled the York dis- trict, the trees and shrubs being similar ; but we supposed that we were only just approaching the eastern side of the Darling Range, and not yet quite out of their influence. As we ascended the river, which came from the N. and N.E., the coun- try improved at every step — the hills became more gentle — the river flats or plains more extensive the grass fine, wherever it had not been burned. Some hills appeared still to the eastward, but near the river the soil was of the best brown loam of the York district. At a place called Candoby we halted on a fine pool, and caught some cobblers,   but having by this time plenty of ducks, we were careless of other fare. It was not many miles from tins that we first met with a native in this district. His name is Bingal, and, in mentioning him, it is gratifying to record an instance not only of kindness and good fellowship on his part, but of his reliance on the good faith and friendship of white men, whom he now saw for the first time. He waa evidently a good deal embarrassed at first,

but in mentioning the names of his friends whom we had last seen, by way of introduction, he re- gained his confidence, appeared pleased to have met with us, and asked us to go and eat some of a kangaroo, which he had killed in the morning. This is almost the only instance that I have met with of a voluntary proffer of hospitality among them. He preceded us to his fire — his two wives had run away in alarm. Three fine native dogs (which I think they call "Moarjne") were very honestly couching beside the fire, looking at the kangaroo, but had not taken advantage of the ab- sence of their master to help themselves They rose on our approach, and seemed greatly puzzled, — first wagged their tails — next shewed their teeth, then turned tail and slunk off. Here Bin- gal handed us the entire " saddle," which had pre- viously been cooked. I took a substantial cut off it, and handed him in return two cockatoos and some cobblers, and also a piece of biscuit, which Weenat called his attention to as being the " very good," of which he seemed to have heard. I then began to question him. Where did this river come from ? Far away. — Did he know of any other river ? None. — Did he know Wonganip — a dis-

trict on the Swan River in the hills to the S.E.?

No. — Was there any water in that direction ? No ; all hills — What was there to the N.W.? Stony hills, with Wando and Barro (the sort of tough topped blackboy, (the true Zanthorrhea, from which the yellow resin is obtained with which they cement their hammers.) — What was to the N.E.? All good ground and grass —the same as what was around us. — Did he know Wangan Gatta — some high hills which I had often heard the natives speak of as being very far away and remarkable,

on some account which I could not understand ?

Yes, he said, Wangan Gatta caccal pardoke —was

to the east a short distance. This identifies that

hill with some high land which I saw to the N.E. when out with Mr. Dale in 1831. Had he ever seen any cows in the district? Cows! what is it? Larger than that great horse, says Weenat, with curved spears sticking out of their head. Never saw such a thing. — Where was the next water or pool ? At Marramerrip. — Where is another water? There is no other water. I have put this down as he said it, as well as I can recollect. Whether he meant that there was no water now beyond that, or whether none that we could reach that night, I must leave to time to tell. I could not express my meaning so as to obtain any other answer. As it was too early to rest for the day, we proceeded up the river from this place, which was called Moarup, and passed several small pools, but none of them answering ihe description which Bingal had given of a large deep pool which we should know by the number of cockatoos about it. The sun had set, and we had not arrived at it, and began to sup- pose we had come up a wrong branch of the river. At last a white cockatoo (a certain indication of the vicinity of water) screamed his alarm, and we were soon upon the pool. We could see nothing now, save that there was a plain, on which our horses busied themselves in eating, so we fastened their tether to a bush, and deferred our observa- tions till the morning. Alluding to the dogs, which appeared under such command, Weenat said that they hunt by sight and scent; that the man follows their tracks as fast as he can ; that they frequently have the kangaroo killed before the master comes up, and seldom attempt to de- vour it, which he accounts for by saying, that they too much tired and out of breath. Next morning by sunrise, took a view of the country. We had slept upon the left bank of the river bed, which here lies nearly north and south. As far as the eye could discern, particularly towards the north, the ground was of an even, level appearance — the soil a dark hazel-colored loam, of the richest quality — grass of the former spring, of course now much withered, covered the soil with a very good coating. The trees and shrubs — wattle, mangart, and toart. A low hill or rising ground was seen indistinctly through the trees to the N.E, ap- parently about two miles off, but no decided hills in view. On the right bank the ground appeared to rise from the river with so gentle an ascent, that it was only by prolonging the view to a con- siderable distance that you could perceive the ac- clivity. Where the water was confined to one channel, its course or bed was about 12 yards from bank to bank, the sides from 10 to 12 feet deep, and steep ; the pool, which appeared to be the residuum of a large water, evaporated by the sum- mer sun, was about 20 yards long, and 4 yards wide — the detritus in its bed was of granite, but no rocks nor stones to be seen. A hundred acres

of ground in our view might be ploughed without clearing anything but a wattle here and there. Se- veral miles which we had passed on the evening before appeared to be of the same nature, and when we consider what was said by Bingal, 1 think it fair to presume that a good grazing coun- try continues on the east sute of the Darling Range all the way from York to this district, which is very little short of 100 miles north of it. As it was now the morning of the sixth day of my ex- cursion, as I was 90 miles from home in a straight line, and I knew not how many by the river, should I follow its course through the river towards the sea, I felt myself obliged, with great regret and reluctance, to turn away from the further ex- amination of a country which, for extent and quality of soil taken together, I have no hesitation in saying, is the best I have seen in the Colony. We retraced our steps down the river, and soon came to the fire of our friend Bingal. His wives were with him. It was interesting to see the looks of mute surprise with which they regarded the horses. Weenat, to shew his accomplishments,

knocked down two cockatoos at one shot. — Goodyall dabbat (two down,) said one to the other, in amazement. Bingal told us that just before he saw us he heard the sound of the gun, and could not understand what it was, but supposed it must be a tree falling. We gave each some more bread, and I directed Weenat to tell him to tell all other

black men that hereafter if tney should see white men, they should not fear, but speak to them, for all white men were friends ; and so we departed. Twenty miles lower down than our starting place we slept beside a pool, where the valley had nar- rowed and the river had evidently entered the range. The hills on either side were high, but retiring in some places to a considerable distance from the river, leaving an elevated table land on one or other side, and sometimes on both sides, of con- siderable extent, and generally resembling the high grounds on the banks of the Swan —soil stiff red loam — trees white and red gum — shrubs, Mangart, wattle, and broom. We were upon the left bank, and we saw, not far from this, the opening of a narrow stream or river coming from the north, and having very deep w ater at its mouth. Next morn- ing, after proceeding about eight miles in a course going considerably to the westward, and passing a vein of slaty stone with nearly vertical strata running E. and W., and also some white mail shewing itself in the banks, we obtained from the high ground above the river a view of what we supposed to be the plain outside of the range towards the north-  

west One remarkable hill of considerable eleva- tion bore N., about 12 miles distant, further on a range of Banksia sand-hills appeared on the right bank of the river, sandy soil, intermixed with iron- stone fragments, on a scrubby plain on the left, then remarkable conical-shaped cliffs of very white clay standing up to a height of near 100 feet above a long deep reach of the river. At 12 miles we dined, where a valley of considerable depth, with a well marked water-course, fell in from the north. A few miles further on, in a S.W. direction, we thought we perceived the decided mountains of the Darling Range running, at a distance behind us,   N. and S.. and, in their stead, appeared lo be tra- versing a district of ironstone ridges of small com- parative elevation, and of a treacherously smooth and rounded appearance at a distance, but of a   horribly rough, grinding composition when arrived at, like the scoriæ of an iron foundry closely paved together. At one place, where high steep walls of this ironstone seemed roughly built along on either a reach of the river, looking like a deep, broad, navagable canal, another river fell in from the norh. This place Weenat said he recognised as Motyamelup, fom a description given by Bin- gal. A little further on the banks softened down, — there was sandy loam, red gum, and some in- different pasture; so we stopped, after a rough march of 19 miles. The reaches of the river now

appeared to approach one another so closely as al- most to be united ; a narrow barrier of moist gravel seemed alone to separate them, and regulate their discharge like locks of a canal Here I have marked some round-topped hills, bearing W.½ N.,   about 10 miles off. Next morning, passed a place where the river seemed to empty its waters into a very small, deep, circular basin, and to discharge them at a right angle to the place of their entrance. Some miles further on, in a westerly direction, we came upon a broad belt of rich red loam, about ½ a mile wide, perfectly level, and at an elevation of upwards of 100 feet above the level of the river, which we saw below making its way through a nar- row valley, and apparently having commenced to

run, but we were at too great a distance to be

certain.

(To be continued.)

Sir, — There is one typographical error in your last paper which it may be material to correct. The native word which I suppose to mean " the other side" is Moleyean, and not Molegean. There are   a few other errors, but not material. The word "escaped," in the 14th line of the first column of the

third page, should be " leaped."

— Yours,

G.F.MOORE.

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