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and morasses so intercepting each other as to render all farther progress impossible. The water was muddy, and the odour arising from the banks and marshy ground offensive in the extreme. Mr. Oxley determined to return, concluding, rather summarily we conceive, that the interior of this vast country was a marsh, and uninhabitable.' Perhaps,' he adds, there is no river, the history of which is known, that presents so remarkable a termination as the present: its course in a straight line from its source to its termination exceeds five hundred miles, and including its windings, it may fairly be calculated to run at least twelve hundred miles; during all which passage, through such a vast extent of country, it does not receive a single stream in addition to what it derives from its sources in the eastern mountains.'
Nothing now remained for the party but to retrace their weary steps; in doing which, to their utter astonishment, they observed that the same river which, the day before, was so shallow that it could be easily forded, and whose stream was scarcely perceptible, was now rolling along its agitated and muddy waters nearly on a level with the banks, though for many days there had not been a cloud in the sky. It was now determined, as soon as they could contrive to cross the river, to proceed northerly, with the view of falling in with the Macquarie, the course of which they knew to be to the north-west. From the 11th July to the 3d August they continued to skirt the banks of the Lachlan; when they succeeded in crossing it on a raft. Mr. Oxley complains, and, we think, not unreasonably, of the weariness experienced from the uniform barrenness and desolation of this part of New South Wales, where
one tree, one soil, one water, and one description of bird, fish or animal, prevails alike for ten miles, and for one hundred!'—and seems to pine after that last consolation of the unhappy, ' variety of wretchedness.'
The party did however discover several new plants, and two new species of kangaroo, one of them so small that they gave it the name of the rabbit kangaroo. They heard also two nightbirds, one remarkable for its imitation of the calls of the natives, the other for that of the short sharp bark of their dogs. They met, too, with a tumulus or grave, apparently of recent construction; it was a cone about five feet high, surrounded by semicircular On opening it, the earth to the depth of about four feet was found to be supported by three or four layers of wood, beneath which were several sheets of bark on a bed of dry grass and leaves in a state of perfect preservation; and under all, the body, with the face downwards and the head to the east, the feet bent quite back, and the arms between the thighs. The body was wrapped in a number of opossum skins, and the head enveloped in
VOL. XXIV. NO. XLVII.
the net usually worn by the natives. Two cypress trees at a little distance had been barked on the sides next the tumulus, and some curious characters deeply cut into them. A fac simile of them would have been desirable.
It is unnecessary for us to follow Mr. Oxley very closely in his north-eastern tour. The country was somewhat improved but still destitute of water, from the want of which his party suffered greatly. After travelling upwards of a hundred miles from the Lachlan, they reached a beautiful valley, where they halted to recruit their exhausted strength.
'We had just pitched our tent when hearing the noise of the stonehatchet made by a native in climbing a tree, we stole silently upon him, and surprised him just as he was about to descend: he did not perceive us until we were immediately under the tree; his terror and astonishment were extreme. We used every friendly motion in our power to induce him to descend but in vain: he kept calling loudly, as we supposed for some of his companions to come to his assistance; in the mean time he threw down to us the game he had procured (a ring-tailed opossum), making signs for us to take it up: in a short time another native came towards us, when the other descended from the tree. They trembled excessively, and, if the expression may be used, were absolutely intoxicated with fear, displayed in a thousand antic gestures, convulsive laughing, and singular motions of the head. They were both youths not exceeding twenty years of age, of good countenance and figure, but most horribly marked by the skin and flesh being raised in long stripes all over the back and body; some of those stripes were full three quarters of an inch deep, and were so close together that scarcely any original skin was to be seen between them. The man who had joined us, had three or four small opossums and a snake, which he laid upon the ground, and offered us. We led them to our tent, where their surprise at every thing they saw clearly showed that we were the first white men they had met with; they had however either heard of or seen tomahawks, for upon giving one to one of them, he clasped it to his breast and demonstrated the greatest pleasure. After admiring it for some time they discovered the broad arrow, with which it was marked on both sides, the impression of which exactly resembles that made by the foot of the emu; it amused them extremely, and they frequently pointed to it and the emu skins which we had with us. All this time they were paying great attention to the roasting of their opossums, and when they were scarcely warm through, they opened them, and, taking out the fat of the entrails, presented it to us as the choicest morsel; on our declining to receive it they ate it themselves, and again covered up the opossums in the hot ashes. When they were apparently well done, they laid them, the snake, and the things we had presented them with, on the ground, making signs that they wished to go; which of course we allowed them to do, together with their little store of provisions and such things as we were able to spare them. The collection of words which we had made at the depot on the Lachlan, we found of no
use, as they did not understand a single one. They had neither of them lost the upper front tooth, though apparently men grown.'-pp. 171173.
In the centre of this valley was a strong and transparent stream dashing over a gravelly bottom, and the hills which inclosed it were covered to the summits with cypresses and acacias in full blossom. No less to their delight than astonishment, they soon discovered that this beautiful stream joined a large river, whose width, as appeared by the banks, could not be less, in time of flood, than from six to eight hundred feet. It was that of which they were in quest, the Macquarie. Different in every respect from the Lachlan,' says Mr. Oxley, it here formed a stream equal to the Hawkesbury at Windsor, and in many parts as wide as the Nepean at Emu plains.'
Near this place our travellers again crossed the ridge of limestone formation running to the northward; from hence to Bathurst plains, where they arrived on the 29th August, the whole of the intervening country was uninterruptedly rich and beautiful.
The magnitude of the Macquarie, at the point it was fallen in with, excited a sanguine expectation, that either a communication with the ocean, or with interior navigable waters, would be discovered by following its course; and on this ground the governor directed a Second Expedition to be undertaken, which was again intrusted to the direction of Mr. Oxley, who left Bathurst on the 28th May, 1818.
For the first twelve days,' says Mr. Oxley, we enjoyed all the necessaries and many of the luxuries of life; but though fish, flesh and fowl were abundant, there were no human beings but ourselves to enjoy them.' The river continued of noble width and appearance; had few rapids, and offered no obstruction to navigation. On the sixteenth day, for the first time, the party fell in with two families of natives, who made their escape, with the exception of an old man, and a boy who was in a tree, and whom no intreaties could bring down; both of them appeared to be petrified with terror.
On the eighteenth day of their journey, every hill and eminence disappeared; the face of the country presented as perfect a level as that through which the Lachlan winds its way; and they found themselves entering on the same kind of low swampy ground as that which arrested their progress before. On the 29th June, the river began to overflow its banks, and to spread over a great extent of country. Considering it unsafe to proceed with the horses and baggage, the latter were sent back to the nearest eminence; and on the 2d July, Mr. Oxley proceeded down the river
in the boat about thirty miles, through a country so flooded on all sides as to appear a perfect sea. The next day, following the main chanuel of the river about twenty miles farther, he entirely lost all sight of land and trees, the channel winding through large beds of tall reeds (the arundo phragmites), among which the water was only about three feet deep. Proceeding about four miles farther he perceived the whole inundation running with the same rapidity as the river had done within its banks; and concluded that he was now entering upon the great lake or inland sea into which he conjectured the mass of water conveyed by the Macquarie to be discharged. This point of junction with the interior waters, or where the Macquarie ceased to have the form of a river, lies in lat. 30° 45′ S. long. 147° 10' E.
To assert positively,' says Mr. Evans, that we were on the margin of the lake or sea into which this great body of water is discharged, might reasonably be deemed a conclusion which has nothing but conjecture for its basis; but if an opinion may be permitted to be hazarded from actual appearances, mine is decidedly in favour of our being in the immediate vicinity of an inland sea, or lake, most probably a shoal one, and gradually filling up by immense depositions from the higher lands left by the waters which flow into it.'-Journal, p. 244.
With this notion impressed on his mind, and in the course of navigating nearly sixty miles on this inundation, it is very remarkable that it should never once have occurred to Mr. Oxley to taste whether the water was fresh or salt; as that circumstance would have nearly decided the question of the termination of the Macquarie in a mediterranean sea, or of its course being resumed beyond the expanse of waters.
The great inundation however evidently proceeded from freshes, which continued to increase with such rapidity, as to cover the whole of the flat country as far back as the spot to which the party with the baggage and horses had retired, presenting a most dreary and melancholy scene; but the rising continued only for a few days, when the inundation again subsided with equal rapidity. Our travellers however were in no condition to proceed; and they therefore prudently commenced their return to the eastward. In this journey they fell in with various streams, (one of which, as large as the Macquarie, they named Castlereagh,) all running in a northerly direction; but as Mr. Oxley expresses it, they had to struggle through a line of country that baffles all description; and were literally up to the middle in water the whole way. Even when all traces of water had disappeared, and they were in the midst of an apparently dry forest of iron bark and cypress trees, the water sprang up at every step which the horses took, and the ground sunk with them to their girths.
The moment, however, that they approached the limestone formation, the country again became beautiful, and kangaroos appeared in great abundance. On the 2d September they reached a large stream running, like the rest, to the northward.
This was the largest interior river (with the exception of the Macquarie and Castlereagh), which we had yet seen. It would be impossible to find a finer or more luxuriant country than it waters: north and south, its extent is unknown, but it is certainly not less than sixty miles, whilst the breadth of the vale is on a medium about twenty miles. This space between the bounding hills is not altogether level, but rises into gentle inequalities, and independently of the river is well watered; the grass was most luxuriant; the timber good and not thick: in short, no place in the world can afford more advantages to the industrious settler, than this extensive vale. The river was named Peel's River, in honour of the Right Hon. Robert Peel. A great many new plants were found to-day and yesterday, chiefly of the orchis tribe we saw numbers of the ornithorynchus, or water mole, in the river, also a few turtle: we were not successful in obtaining any fish, so that we were unable to decide whether it contained the same species as the Macquarie.'-p. 284.
It is worthy of remark that, although the surface of the country had now so much improved, and all the productions as well animal as vegetable were of superior growth, the appearance of the few natives seen was most miserable, their features approached deformity, and their persons were disgustingly filthy their small attenuated limbs seemed scarcely able to support their bodies ; and their entire person formed a marked contrast to the fine and manly figures of their brethren in the interior.'
On the 7th September the party crossed the meridian of Sydney, and at the same time reached the elevated ridge of mountains which divides the waters running west from those which fall into the sea on the eastern coast; on the 23d of the same month they gained the summit of what Mr. Oxley considers one of the most elevated peaks in this range, and the height of which he estimates at from six to seven thousand feet. From this mountain they could discover the sea at the distance of fifty miles; and they had also the gratification to find at its feet, the sources of a large river running easterly towards the coast. Following this stream until the 8th October, they arrived on the beach, near the entrance of a harbour into which it fell.
This port or inlet is situated in lat. 31° 25′ 45′′ S. long. 152° 53′ 54′′ E. It had been noticed by Captain Flinders as a lagoon or inland lake, the distance he was obliged to keep from the coast having hid from him the entrance. This has a bar of sand across it, on which at low water spring tides the depth of about nine feet; the tide then rising from three to four feet; but