Journal of an Overland Expedition In Australia, from Moreton Bay to Port Essington, a distance of upwards 0(3,000 miles ; during the years 15444845. By Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt 7' and 1V. Boone. Antwerp. A Journal kept there; including also Notices of Brussels, and of the
Monastery of Bt. Bernard, near Wesunelle STATISTICS, History of the Bank of England, Its Times and Traditions. By John Francis. In
two volumes Willoughby and Ca.
DR. LEICHHA.RDT'S EXPEDITION PROM MORETON BAT TO PORT ESSINOTON.
HAVING employed himself for two years in exploring the range of country beyond the settlements in New South Wales, especially to the Northward of Moreton Bay, Dr. Leichhardt conceived the idea of an overland expe-
dition of discovery from Moreton Bay to Port Essington, one of the most Northerly points of Australia. The distance to be traversed was upwards of three thousand miles, through regions totally unknown ; but from all that could be inferred by analogy, they would be found rugged, bare of food and water, and in some parts most likely destitute of both, if not altogether desert. Relying on experience acquired daring his peregrina- tions about the colony, Dr. Leichhardt was not daunted by these diffi- culties ; but, as his own means were insufficient for the outfit, he had to make an appeal for assistance to the inhabitants of the colony, and en- countered, particularly at Sydney, "a strong but kindly-meant opposi- tion" to the undertaking.
" Some, who took more than a common interest in my pursuits," says Dr. Leichhardt in his Introduction, "regretted that I should leave so promising a field of research as that which efered itself within the limits of New South Wales, and in which they considered I had laboured with some success during the last two years. Others considered the undertaking exceedingly dangerous, and even the conception of it madness on my part, and the consequence of a blind en- thusiasm, nourished either by a deep devotion to science or by an unreasonable craving for fame; whilst others did not feel themselves justified in assisting a man who they considered was setting out with an intention of committing suicide. I was not, however, blind as to the difficulties of the journey which I was deter- mined to undertake: on the contrary, and I hope my readers will believe me to be sincere, I thought they would be many and great—greater, indeed, than they eventually proved to be: but, during my recent excursions through the Squatting districts, I had so accustomed myself to a comparatively wild life, and had so closely observed the habits of the Aborigines, that I felt assured that the only real difficulties which I could meet with would be of a local character. And I was satisfied that by cautiously proceeding, and always reconnoitering in advance, or on either side of our course, I should be able to conduct my party through a gr and well-watered route; and, if I were so fortunate as to effect this, I felt assured
that the journey, once i
commenced, would be finished only by our arrival at Port Essington. Buoyed up by this feeling, and by confidence in myself, I prevailed against the solicitations and arguments of my friends, and commenced my prep', rations; • which, so far as my own slender means and the contributions of and friends allowed, were rather hurriedly.completed by the 13th August 1844." ,
The expedition, as it finally started from Jimba, the last point of civi, lization at Moreton Bay, was a species of family caravan, like the travel- ling parties in Southern Africa, deducting the vehicles of the boors. Besides Dr. Leichhardt and some volunteer companions, there was a youth named Murphy, W. Phillips a Crown prisoner, and two aboriginal natives called Brown and Charley, who accompanied Dr. Leichhardt in his reconnoitering expeditions. Besides dogs and seventeen horses, the party started with sixteen bullocks ; the majority of which, after serving as pack-carriers of provisions, were to be eaten themselves in turn. The flour, tea, sugar, and gelatine, with the supply of clothes, was calculated for seven months : but as the journey extended to sixteen, the wardrobe got scanty long before the close; the provisions, though doled out sparingly as luxurious treats, were exhausted ; and the party depended upon the game they could kill or the roots and plants they could gather. As they approached the end of their journey and reached a country teem- ing with water-fowl, their shot was spent, the atones they could use were insufficient to kill, and though rifle-bullets were cut up into slugs, this supply was limited, from the necessity of reserving some balls as a defence against attack. Still, notwithstanding the extension of the calculated time, the distance travelled, the difficulties inseparable from making way through an unknown and very often a mountainous or scrubby country, the expedition underwent less of hardship than might have been expected. There were none of those terrible sufferings which have been experienced by travellers in some parts of Australia, or in Southern Africa, from thirst, or in America from hunger. In a certain sense, this must. no doubt be ascribed to the character of the region ; which with some eK.. ceptions is intersected by water-courses, and pretty full of gameand edible vegetables, especially towards the North. Dr. Leichhardt, however, is en- titled to the highest praise for the manner in which he conducted the ex- pedition. By geographical induction he arrived at the conclusion that suffi- cient feed, water, and game, might be found throughout the country he pro- posed to travel; the same reasoning, and that quick perception which looks like instinct, but which is gained by experience in analogous circumstances, enabled him to select the best line of route ; above all, the prudent plan of halting the party at a waiting-spot in cases of doubt as to the best course, while he himself with his attendant natives went on to reconnoitre, spared the expedition much suffering, prevented much dissatisfaction, if not mu- tiny, and was a main cause of the final success. This plan, indeed, might re somewhat delay the expedition, and it threw upon Dr. Leichhardt the hard- ships and privations which in other cases have been borne by the whole band. But time was nothing in comparison with safety; two or three men might struggle through, where a cavalcade would certainly succumb ; and the difficulties and dangers were encountered by the one best able to meet them, from previous experience, and a natural disposition at once patient, courageous, and quietly enthusiastic. Perhaps, in the hands of a less simple-minded man and a more artistic writer, Dr. Leichhardt's sufferings might have rivalled those of other travellers. In exploring on one occa- sion, he and the Native Brown, in their haste to get bank at a canter, lost their track, and were bewildered for three days ; their food dependent
upon what they could shoot, which was two pigeons. The following is the account of the last two days of privation.
" We hobbled our horses, and covered ourselves with our blankets; but the storm was so violent that we were thoroughly drenched. As no water-holes were near us, we caught the water that ran from onr blankets; and, as we were unable to rekindle our fire, which had been extinguished by the rain, we stretched our blankets over some sticks to form a tent; and, notwithstanding our wet and hungry condition, our beads sank wearily on the saddles—our usual bush pillow, and we slept soundly till morning dawned. We now succeeded in making a fire, so that we had a pot of tea and apigeon between us. After this scanty breakfast, we con- tinued our course to the Ninth-east. Brown thought himself lost, got disheartened, grumbled, and became exceedingly annoying to me; but I could not help feeling for him, as he complained of severe pain in his legs. We now entered extensive Ironbark fiats, which probably belong to the valley of the Mackenzie. Giving our position every consideration, 'I determined upon returning to the mountains at which we had turned, and took a North-west course. The country was again most wretched, and at night we almost dropped from our saddles with fatigue. Another pigeon was divided between us; but our tea was gone. Oppressed by hunger, I swallowed the bones and the feet of the pigeon, to allay the cravings of my stomach. A sleeping lizard, with a blunt tail and knobby scales, fell iuto our bands, and was of course roasted and greedily eaten. Brown now complained of increased pain in his feet, and lost all courage. We are lost, we are lost !' was all he could say. All my words and assurances, all my telling him that we might be starved for a day or two but that we should most certainly find our party again, could not do more than appease his anxiety for a few moments. The next morning, the 21st, we proceeded, but kept a little more to the Westward, and crossed a fine openly- timbered country; but all the creeks went either to the East or to the North. At last, after a ride of about four miles, Brown recognized the place where we had breakfasted on the 19th; when all his gloom and anxiety disappeared at once. I then returned on my South-east coarse, and arrived at the camp about one o'clock in the afternoon; my long absence having caused the greatest anxiety amongst my companions. I shall have to mention several other instances of the wonderful quickness and accuracy with which Brown as well as Charley were able to recog- nize localities which they had previously seen. The impressions on their retina seem to be naturally more intense than on that of the European; and their recol- lections are remarkably exact, even to the most minute details. Trees peculiarly formed or grouped, broken branches, slight elevations of the ground—in fact, a hundred things, which we should remark only when paying great attention to a place—seem to form a kind of Daguerreotype impression on their minds, every part of which is readily recollected."
Dr. Leichhardt seems to doubt the instinctive power of cattle and horses in finding water : at least no such signs of sagacity fell under his observation.
" The detection of isolated water-holes in a wooded country, where there is no- thing visible to indicate its presence, is quite a matter of chance. We have often unconsciously passed well-filled water-holes, at less than a hundred yards distant, whilst we were suffering severely from thirst. Our horses and bullocks never showed that instinctive faculty of detecting water, so often mentioned by other travellers; and I remember instances in which the bullocks have remained the whole night not fifty yards from water-holes without finding them; and, indeed, whenever we came to small water-holes, we had to drive the cattle down to them, Or they would have strayed off to find water elsewhere. On several occasions I followed their tracks, and observed they were influenced entirely by their sight when in search of it; at times attracted by a distant patch of deeper verdure, at others following down a hollow or a watercourse, but 1 do not recollect a single in- stance where they found water for themselves. The horses, however, were na- turally more restless and impatient; and, when we approached a creek or a water- course after a long journey, would descend into the bed and follow it for long dis- tances to find water; giving great trouble to those who had to bring them back to the line of march. Whenever they saw me halt at the place where I intended to • encamp, they not only quickened their pace, but often galloped towards me, well knowing that I had found water, and that they were to be relieved of their loads. In looking for water, my search was first made in the neighbourhood of hills, ridges, and ranges, which from their extent and elevation were most likely to lead me to it, either in beds of creeks, or rivers, or in water-holes parallel to them. In an open country, there are many indications which a practised eye will readily seize: a cluster of trees of a greener foliage, hollows with luxuriant grass, eagles circling in the air, crows, cockatoos, pigeons, (especially before sunset,) and the call of Grallina Australis, and flocks of little finches, would always attract our attention. The margins of scrubs were generally provided with chains of holes. But a flat country, openly timbered, without any break of the surface or of the fo- rest, was by no means encouraging; and I have frequently travelled more than twenty-five miles in a straight line without obtaining my object. In coming on creeks, it required some experience in the country to know whether to travel up or down the bed; some being well provided with water immediately at the foot of the range, and others being entirely dry at their upper part, but forming large Fiddled holes, lower down, in a flat country. From daily experience, we acquired a sort of instinctive feeling as to the course we should adopt, and were seldom wrong in our decisions."
It will be seen from this extract that Dr. Leichhardt is not only a man of science but a popular observer of nature. Neither does the mind of man escape him. The following is his account of the sleeping and waking feelings of himself and his companions on the expedition. " May 24.—It was the Queen's birthday; and we celebrated it with what, as our only remaining luxury, we were accustomed to call a fat cake, made of four pounds of flour and some suet, which we bad saved for the express purpose, and with a pot of sugared tea. We had for several months been without sugar, with the exception of about ten pounds, which was reserved for cases of illness and for festivals. So necessary does it appear to human nature to interrupt the mono- tony of life by marked days, on which we indulge in recollections of the past or in meditations on the future, that we all enjoyed those days as much, and even more, than when surrounded with all the blessings of civilized society; although I am free to admit that fat cake and sugared tea in prospect might induce us to watch with more eagerness for the approach of these days of feasting. There were, besides, several other facts interesting to the psychologist, which exhibited the influence of our solitary life, and the unity of our purpose,. on our minds. During the early part of our journey, I had been carried back us my dreams to scenes of recent date, and into the society of men with whom I had lived shortly before starting on my expedition. As I proceeded on my journey, events of earlier date returned into my mind, with all the fantastic associations of a dream; and scenes of England, France, and Italy passed successively. Then came the recol- lections of my university life, of my parents and the members of my family; and, at last, the days of boyhood and of school—at one time, as a boy afraid of the look of the master, and now with the independent feelings of the Ma; com- municating to and discussing with him the progress of my journey, the courses of the rivers I had found, and the possible advantages of my discoveries. At the latter part of the journey, I had as it were retraced the whole course of my life; and I was nowt in my dreams, almost invariably in Sydney, canvassing for sup- port, and imagining that, although I had left my camp, yet that I should return with new resources to carry us through the remainder of our journey. It was very remarkable that all my companions were almost invariably anticipating the end of our journey, dreaming that they reached the sea-coast, and met with ships, or that they were in Port Essington, and enjoying the pleasures of civilized life; whilst I, on awaking, found my party and my interests on the place where I had left them in my dreams. Daring the leisure moments of the day, or at the com- mencement of night when seated at my fire, all my thoughts seemed riveted to the progress and success of my journey, and to the new objects we had met with during the day. I had then to compel myself to think of absent friends and past times; and the thought that they supposed me dead, or unsuccessful in my enter- prise, brought me back immediately to my favourite object. Much, indeed the greater portion of my journey, had been occupied in long reconnoitering rides; and he who is thus occupied is in a continued state of excitement—now buoyant with hope, as he urges on his horse towards some distant range or blue mountain, or as lie follows the favourable bend of a river—now all despairing and miserable, as he approaches the foot of the range without finding water, from which he could start again with renewed strength, or as the river turns in, an unfavourable di- rection and slips out of his course. Evening approaches: the sun has sunk below the horizon for some time, but still he strains his eye through the gloom for the dark verdure of a creek, or strives to follow the arrow-like flight of a pigeon, the flapping of whose wings has filled him with a sudden hope, from which he re- lapses again into a still greater sadness; with a sickened heart he drops his head to a broken and interrupted rest, whilst his horse is standing hobbled at his side, unwilling from excessive thirst to feed on the dry grass. How often have I found myself in these different states of the brightest hope and the deepest misery, riding along, thirsty, almost lifeless, and ready to drop from my saddle with fatigue; the poor horse tired like his rider, foot-sore, stumbling over every stone, running heedlessly against the trees, and wounding my knees ! But suddenly the note of Grallina Australis, the call of cockatoos, or the croaking of frogs, is heard, and hopes are bright again; water is certainly at hand; the spur is applied to the flank of the tired beast, which already partakes in his riders anticipations, and quickens his pace—and a lagoon, a creek, or a river, is before him. The horse is soon unsaddled, hobbled, and well washed; a fire is made, the teapot is put to the fire, the meat is dressed, the enjoyment of the poor reconnoiterer is perfect, and a prayer of thankfulness to the Almighty God who protects the wanderer on his journey bursts from his grateful lips."
During the expedition the Natives were frequently seen, and probably were often watching the travellers without being discovered. Dr. Leich- hardt appears to have conducted himself with the greatest conciliation and prudence : but one unexpected and perfectly unprovoked attack took place, when the party had pitched their camp and retired to rest; and which caused the death of Mr. Gilbert, a naturalist in the employ of Mr. Gould, whom Dr. Leichhardt had allowed to join the expedition. As a general rule, the Natives were most friendly and trustworthy when they had had communication with the settlement at Port Essington; those tribes near the Eastern coast and Moreton Bay who had possibly com- municated with sailors or runaway convicts appear to have been the most mischievous ; and those of the interior the most timorous. In addition to the dread which dark-coloured people seem always to entertain of a white skin, they had a superstitious dread of the horses and cattle. One of the bullocks invariably charged wild Natives, and they thought that all the animals could bite like dogs. The first sight of a "pale face" on horseback must indeed be surprising enough to a people like the Aus- tralians. It is not improbable that the notion of a centaur originated, in encounters analogous to some in this volume; and an angry and horned bullock, with stiffened tail, charging people who saw the animal for the first time, might readily convey the idea of devil, daemon,_ or satyr.
Though we hear of no open mutiny or complaint, yet uneasiness and distrust began to prevail among the party as the time wore on without any signs of the journey's terminating. The sight of the head-water of the Gulf of Carpentaria, which told them that more than two-thirds of their journey was accomplished, and informed the most mistrustful where they were, produced an effect like that of the sea upon Xenophon's army.
"The first sight of the salt water of the Gulf was hailed by all with feelings of indescribable pleasure, and by none more than by myself, although tinctured with regret at not having succeeded in bringing my whole party to the end of what I was sanguine enough to think the most difficult part of my journey. We had now discovered a line of communication by land between the Eastern coast of Australia and the Gulf of Carpentaria; we had travelled along never failing and for the greater part running waters, and over an excellent country, available al- most in its whole extent for pastoral purposes. The length of time we had been in the wilderness bad evidently made the greater portion of my companions dis- trustful of my abilities to lead them through the journey; and, in their melan- choly conversations, the desponding expression, We shall never come to Port Essington' was too often overheard by me to be pleasant. My readers will there- fore readily understand why Brown's joyous exclamation of Salt-water was received by a loud hurrah from the whole party; and why all the pains, and fa- tigues, and privations we had endured, were for the moment forgotten, almost as completely as if we had arrived at the end of the journey."
Although confidence was restored by certain knowledge, it was after- wards succeeded by a restless impatience to reach thejourney's end. Under such circumstances, the proof positive that they were within reach of the settlement was an epoch of the expedition.
" December 2.—Whilst we were waiting for our bullock, which had returned to the running brook, a fine Native stepped out of the forest with the ease and grace of an Apollo, with a smiling countenance, and with the confidence of a than to whom the white face was perfectly familiar. He was unarmed, but a great number of his companions were keeping back to watch the reception he should meet with. We received him, of course, most cordially; and upon being joined by another good-looking little man, we heard him utter distinctly the words, Commandant!" Come here!' ' Very good!' ' What's your name?' If my readers have at all identified themselves with my feelings throughout this trying journey—if they have only imagined a tithe of the difficulties we have encoun- tered—they will readily imagine the startling effect which these as it were magic words produced: we were electrified; our joy knew no limits; and I was ready to embrace the fellows; who, seeing the happiness with which they inspired us, joined with a most merry grin in the loud expression of our feelings. We gave them various presents, particularly leather belts, and received in return a great number of bunches of goose feathers, which the Natives use to brush away the flies. They knew the White people of Victoria, and called them Baliindi, which is nothing more than Hollanders '; a name used by the Malays, from whom they received it. We had most fortunately a small collection of words, made by Mr. Gilbert when at Port Essington; so that we were enabled to ask for water (Elbert), for the road (Albin), for Limbo cardja, which was the name of the harbour."
About a week afterwards, they fell in with another tribe ; and the state of the party's privations may be conceived when the Natives rejected their provisions.
" My cooee was answered by natives within the forest; and shortly afterwards four men came running out of it, and approached us most familiarly. They spoke Doglish tolerably, knew the pipe, tobacco, bread, rice, ponies, guns, &c.; and guided us to a fine, lagoon, which I named after the leading man of their tribe, s Lagoon.' Two of them promised to pilot us to Balanda and to - bal,' which meant houses. They were very confiding; and women and children entered for the first time freely into our camp.
"They examined everything, but made not the slightest attempt to rob us even of a trifle. When the women returned at night, they did not bring ' allamnrr,' or, as it is here called, murnatt,' but plenty of imberbi,' the root of convolvu- Ins, which grow abundantly in the plain: they gave us a very seasonable supply of it, but would not taste our dried beef; which they turned, broke, smelled, and then with a feeling of pity and disgust returned to us. Nynall gave an amusing account of our state: You no bread, no flour, no rice, no backi—yon no good. Wanda plenty bread, plenty flow, plenty rice, plenty backi. Mande very good."
The most striking feature in the expedition is its successful accom- plishment; which is of itself sufficient to place Dr. Leichhardt in the first rank of travellers. The possibility of an overland communication through the interior of Australia from the 27th degree of South latitude to the Northern extremity of the island is now established. The country, too, is so clearly laid down, that the " squatters," with no other guide than Dr. Leichhardes volume and map, may fearlessly spread themselves over the entire region, or till the Tropical heats militate against pastoral success. This is the great discovery ; but the expedition, notwithstanding the death of Mr. Gilbert the naturalist, and the necessity of abandoning a large part of the collections, was not unfruitful in scientific results, especially in geology and geographical features. Day by day, Dr. Leiehhardt indicates the geological characters and the animal and vegetable productions of the country he passed through. He has discovered no fewer than six consider- able rivers,—the Mackenzie, the Isaac, the Burdekin, the Lynd, the Lim- men Bight, and the Roper, besides various tributary or inferior streams ; and he has thrown a light upon the course and character of other rivers whose existence was known or inferred. How much Dr. Leichhardt has added to geographical discovery, can only be felt by an exami- nation of She admirable maps which accompany the volume. These have been deduced on a large scale from the traveller's sketches, by Mr. Arrowsmith, and engraved with a distinctness of execution and a brief fulness of descriptive remark which leave nothing to be desired : the geo- graphy of the expedition may be arrived at from the maps alone. What was a blank, or worse than a blank—vague or erroneous conjecture— spread over sixteen degrees of latitude along a parallel of longitude varying from 132° to 152°, is now minutely laid down in all its features. - Of the value of the country passed through we do not entertain such a high opinion as Dr. Leichhardt and the people of Sydney, or those at home who echo their views without their reasons. Considering that the route, if not entirely a desert, was so intersected by deserts as to be impassable— having long given up Dr. Leichhardt for lost, and having sent two un- successful expeditions in search of him or his remains—the colonists were naturally prone to run into enthusiasm on his safe return, and favourably to exaggerate his descriptions from the bias of colonial interest and feel- ing. Dr. Leichhardt, as a discoverer, and often a wanderer in stony inountains or thirsty wildernesses, naturally looked with a delighted eye on every oasis ; though his particular descriptions are very sober, and his general accounts distinguished by sound and critical views. Judging from the facts he furnishes we should consider the whole country inferior to Australia Felix and Moreton Bay ; a great deal of it about the average of the worser parts of New South Wales. The rivers, like nearly all the other rivers of this continent, have rarely a continuous stream, but consist of water-holes, now small, now extending into lakes, with dry land between them. Many exhibit evidences of violent floods, and some are rather river-beds than rivers, except in the rainy season. Parts of the route were through a " difficult country," from ravines, rocks, and mountainous ranges, or broken mountains ; others were sterile; others were covered by scrub, or by open timber, but with a soil too inferior to pay for clearing, at least for many generations. With this country, useless for profitable pur- poses, were intermingled, as in New South Wales proper, districts of good grazing land, and others that might admit of cultivation ; though their available value would seem to depend upon the rivers that run towards the Eastern coast proving navigable. The country and the aboriginal people both improved as the expedition approached the North,—strength- ening the opinion we lately hazarded in noticing Mr. Jukes's Narrative: but the effect of the Tropical heat upon man and sheep are here to be considered—even the hardy companions of Dr. Leichhardt, and the Natives themselves, felt oppressed by it. Still, it is a "great fact" to have ascertained the physical practicability of an entire series of settlements, or squatting stations, from Moreton Bay to Port Essington ; as the mere possibility of the passage, and the careful survey made of it, was an equally "great fact" in a geographical point of view. It may be known to some of our readers, that upwards of 1,5001. has been subscribed by the colonists as a tribute of approbation to Dr. Leich- hardt and his companions ; to which the Government of New South Wales added 1000/. from the Crown revenue. The Geographical Societies of London and Paris have also awarded Dr. Leichhardt their gold medal. Meanwhile, the indefatigable explorer, stimulated rather than satiated by success, is now engaged in an attempt to cross the continent to Swan River ; exploring the interior, and discovering the extent of Sturt's desert. His starting-pointing was Moreton Bay ; but he intended to travel over his old route as far as Peak range, about 21i. South latitude and 148° East longitude. From the last letter received, however, be thought it possible, that as " his course depends on water, he should be obliged to reach the Gulf of Carpentaria, and to follow up some river to its source."