Explorations in Australia / 1.-Explorations in search of Dr. Leichardt and party. 2.-From Perth to Adelaide, around the great Australian bight. 3.-From Champion Bay, across the desert to the telegraph and to Adelaide. With an appendix on the condition of Western Australia.

Produced by Sue Asscher and Col Choat












It was during your administration of the Government of Western Australia, and chiefly owing to your zeal and support, that most of the work of exploration described in this volume was undertaken and carried out. Your encouragement revived the love of exploration which had almost died out in our colony before you arrived.

With gratitude and pleasure I ask you to accept the dedication of this volume as an expression of my appreciation of your kindness and support.

Yours very faithfully,






Previous Expeditions into the Interior.
Attempts to Discover a Route between South and Western Australia.
Eyre’s Disastrous Journey.
Leichardt, the Lost Explorer.
The Latest Explorations.


Statements made by the Natives.
An Expedition Prepared.
Leader Appointed.
Official Instructions.
The Journal.


A New Exploration suggested.
Proposal to reach Adelaide by way of the South Coast.
The experience derived from Eyre’s Expedition.
Survey of Port Eucla.
Official Instructions.
The Start.
Dempster’s Station near Esperance Bay.
The Schooner at Port Eucla.
Journal of the Expedition.


Departure from Gawler and Arrival at Adelaide.
Appearance of the Party.
Public Entrance.
Complimentary Banquet.
Grant by the Government of Western Australia.


Proposal to undertake a New Expedition.
Endeavour to Explore the Watershed of the Murchison.
Expeditions by South Australian Explorers.
My Journal.
Fight with the Natives.
Finding traces of Mr. Gosse’s Party.
The Telegraph Line reached.
Arrival at Perth Station.


Procession and Banquet at Adelaide.
Arrival in Western Australia.
Banquet and Ball at Perth.
Results of Exploration.


Description of Plants, etc.
Report on Geological Specimens.
Note by Editor.
Governor Weld’s Report (1874) on Western Australia.
Table of Imports and Exports.
Ditto of Revenue and Expenditure.
Public Debt.
List of Governors.


1. General Map of Australia, showing the Three Journeys.
2. From Perth to Longitude 123 degrees in Search of Leichardt.
3. From Perth to Adelaide, around the Great Australian Bight.
4. From Champion Bay to Adelaide.


Portrait of John Forrest.
The Horses Bogged at Lake Barlee.
Portrait of Alexander Forrest.
Arrival at the Great Australian Bight. Fresh Water found.
Public Welcome at Adelaide.
Attacked by the Natives at Weld Springs.
On the March. The Spinifex Desert.
Reaching the Overland Telegraph Line.



Previous Expeditions into the Interior.
Attempts to discover a Route between South and Western Australia.
Eyre’s Disastrous Journey.
Leichardt, the Lost Explorer.
The Latest Explorations.

As the history of the principal expeditions into the interior of Australia has been narrated by several able writers, I do not propose to repeat what has already been so well told. But, to make the narrative of my own journeys more intelligible, and to explain the motives for making them, it is necessary that I should briefly sketch the expeditions undertaken for the purpose of ascertaining the nature of the vast regions intervening between Western and the other Australian colonies, and determining the possibility of opening up direct overland communication.

With energetic, if at times uncertain, steps the adventurous colonists have advanced from the settlements on the eastern and southern coasts of the vast island into the interior. Expeditions, led by intrepid explorers, have forced their way against all but insurmountable difficulties into the hitherto unknown regions which lie to the north and west of the eastern colonies. Settlements have been established on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Burke and a small party crossed Australia from south to north, enduring innumerable hardships, Burke, with two of his associates, perishing on the return journey. About the same time Stuart crossed farther to the west, reaching the very centre of Australia, and telegraphic wires now almost exactly follow his line of route, affording communication, by way of Port Darwin, between Adelaide and the great telegraphic systems of the world.


The telegraph line divides Australia into two portions, nearly equal in dimensions, but very different in character. To the east are the busy and rapidly advancing settlements, fertile plains, extensive ranges of grassy downs, broad rivers, abundant vegetation; to the west a great lone land, a wilderness interspersed with salt marshes and lakes, barren hills, and spinifex deserts. It is the Sahara of the south, but a Sahara with few oases of fertility, beyond which is the thin fringe of scattered settlements of the colony of Western Australia. To cross this desert, to discover routes connecting the western territory with South Australia and the line marked by the telegraph, has been the ambition of later explorers. Mr. Gregory attempted, from the north, to ascend the Victoria River, but only reached the upper edge of the great desert. Dr. Leichardt, who had previously travelled from Moreton Bay, on the eastern coast, to Port Essington on the northern, attempted to cross from the eastern to the western shores, and has not since been heard of. Mr. Eyre made a journey, memorable for the misfortunes which attended it, and the sufferings he endured, from Adelaide round the head of the great bay, or Bight of Southern Australia, to Perth, the capital of Western Australia; and much more recently Colonel Egerton Warburton succeeded in crossing from the telegraphic line to the western coast across the northern part of the great wilderness, nearly touching the farthest point reached by Mr. Gregory.


It was in the year 1840, only four years after the foundation of South Australia, that the first great attempt to discover a route from Adelaide to the settlements in Western Australia was made. There then resided in South Australia a man of great energy and restless activity, Edward John Eyre, whose name was afterwards known throughout the world in connexion with the Jamaica outbreak of 1865, and the measures which, as Governor, he adopted for repressing it. It was anticipated that a profitable trade between the colonies might be carried on if sheep and other live-stock could be transferred from one to the other in a mode less expensive than was afforded by the sea route between Adelaide and the Swan River. Eyre did not believe in the possibility of establishing a practicable route, but urged, through the press, the desirability of exploring the vast regions to the north, which he anticipated would afford a good and profitable field for adventurous enterprise. He offered to lead an expedition which should explore the country around the great salt lake lying to the north-west of the settled portion of the colony, and to which the name of Lake Torrens had been given. Very little was known of this lake, and absolutely nothing of the country beyond. The general supposition, in which Eyre shared, was that there existed a large space of barren land, most probably the bed of a sea which had at one time divided the continent into several islands; but it was hoped that no insuperable difficulties in the way of crossing it would present themselves, and beyond might be a fertile and valuable district, offering an almost unbounded field for settlement, and with which permanent communications might without great difficulty be established. Some geographers were of opinion that an inland sea might be in existence, and, if so, of course water communication with the northern half of Australia could be effected.

Mr. Eyre’s proposition found ready acceptance with the colonists, The Government granted 100 pounds–a small sum indeed–but the colony was then young, and far from being in flourishing circumstances. Friends lent their assistance, enthusiasm was aroused, and in little more than three weeks from the time when Eyre proposed the expedition, he started on his journey. Five Europeans accompanied him, and two natives, black boys, were attached to the party, which was provided with thirteen horses, forty sheep, and provisions for three months. Lake Torrens was reached, and then the difficulties of the expedition began. Although dignified with the name of lake, it proved to be an enormous swamp, without surface water, and the mud coated with a thin layer of salt. The party struggled to effect a passage, and penetrated into the slime for six miles, until they were in imminent danger of sinking. The lake, or rather salt swamp, presented a barrier which Eyre considered it impossible to overcome. The party turned in a westerly direction, and reached the sea at Port Lincoln. Here a little open boat was obtained, and Mr. Scott, Eyre’s courageous companion, undertook to attempt to reach Adelaide and obtain further supplies. This he successfully accomplished, returning in the Water Witch with stores and provisions, two more men, and some kangaroo dogs. Thus reinforced, the party reached Fowler’s Bay in the great Bight of South Australia. The map shows that a journey of more than 200 miles must have been made before the point was reached. Thence they attempted to make their way round the head of the Bight, but were twice baffled by want of water. Nothing daunted, Eyre made a third attempt, and succeeded in penetrating fifty miles beyond the head of the Bight. But the result was achieved only at a cost which the little party could ill sustain. Four of the best horses perished, which deprived Eyre of the means of carrying provisions, and he had to decide between abandoning the expedition altogether or still further reducing the number of his companions. Mr. Scott and three men returned to Adelaide, leaving behind a man named Baxter, who had long been in Eyre’s employ as an overseer or factotum; the two natives who had first started with him, and a boy, Wylie, who had before been in Eyre’s service, and who had been brought back in the cutter.

Six months after Eyre had started from Adelaide, he was left with only four companions to continue the journey. He had acquired considerable experience of the privations to be encountered, but refused to comply with the wishes of Colonel Gawler, the Governor, to abandon the expedition as hopeless, and return to Adelaide. Indeed, with characteristic inflexibility–almost approaching to obstinacy–he resolved to attempt the western route along the shore of the Great Bight–a journey which, only a few months before, he had himself described as impracticable.

The cutter which had been stationed at Fowler Bay, to afford assistance if required, departed on the 31st of January, 1841, and Eyre and his small party were left to their fate. He had been defeated in the attempt to push forward in a northward direction, and he resolved not to return without having accomplished something which would justify the confidence of the public in his energy and courageous spirit of adventure. If he could not reach the north, he would attempt the western route, whatever might be the result of his enterprise. After resting to recruit the strength of his party, Eyre resolutely set out, on the 25th of February, on what proved to be a journey attended by almost unexampled demands upon human endurance.

Nine horses, one pony, six sheep, and a provision of flour, tea, and sugar for nine weeks, formed the slender stores of the little party, which resolutely set forward to track an unknown path to the west. Accompanied by one of the blacks, Eyre went on in advance to find water. For five days, during which time he travelled about 140 miles, no water was obtained, and the distress endured by men and animals was extreme. It is not necessary to dwell on every incident of this terrible journey. Eyre’s descriptions, animated by remembrances of past sufferings, possess a graphic vigour which cannot be successfully emulated. Sometimes it was found necessary to divide the party, so wretched was the country, and so difficult was it to obtain sufficient water in even the most limited supply for man and beast. Once Eyre was alone for six days, with only three quarts of water, some of which evaporated, and more was spilt. But his indomitable determination to accomplish the journey on which he had resolved never failed. He knew that at least 600 miles of desert country lay between him and the nearest settlement of Western Australia; but even that prospect, the certain privations, the probable miserable death, did not daunt him in the journey. The horses broke down from thirst and fatigue; the pony died; the survivors crawled languidly about, “like dogs, looking to their masters only for aid.” After a few days, during which no water had been obtainable, a dew fell, and Eyre collected a little moisture with a sponge, the black boys with pieces of rag. To their inexpressible joy, some sand-hills were reached, and, after digging, a supply of water was obtained for their refreshment, and for six days the party rested by the spot to recruit their strength. The overseer and one of the natives then went back forty-seven miles to recover the little store of provisions they had been compelled to abandon. Two out of the three horses he took with him broke down, and with great difficulty he succeeded in rejoining Eyre. At this time the party were 650 miles from their destination, with only three weeks’ provisions, estimated on the most reduced scale. Baxter, the overseer, wished to attempt to return; but, Eyre being resolute, the overseer loyally determined to stay with him to the last. One horse was killed for food; dysentery broke out; the natives deserted them, but came back starving and penitent, and were permitted to remain with the white men. Then came the tragedy which makes this narrative so conspicuously terrible, even in the annals of Australian exploration. Two of the black men shot the overseer, Baxter, as he slept, and then ran away, perishing, it is supposed, miserably in the desert. Eyre, when some distance from the place where poor Baxter rested, looking after the horses, heard the report of the gun and hurried back, arriving just in time to receive the pathetic look of farewell from the murdered man, who had served him so long and so faithfully.

Wylie, the black boy, who had been with Eyre in Adelaide, now alone remained, and it is scarcely possible to imagine a more appalling situation than that in which Eyre then found himself. The murderers had carried away nearly the whole of the scanty stock of provisions, leaving only forty pounds of flour, a little tea and sugar, and four gallons of water. They had also taken the two available guns, and nearly all the ammunition. The body of Baxter was wrapped in a blanket–they could not even dig a grave in the barren rock. Left with his sole companion, Eyre sadly resumed the march, their steps tracked by the two blacks, who probably meditated further murders; but, with only cowardly instincts, they dared not approach the intrepid man, who at length outstripped them, and they were never heard of more. Still no water was found for 150 miles; then a slight supply, and the two men struggled on, daily becoming weaker, living on horse-flesh, an occasional kangaroo, and the few fish that were to be caught–for it must be remembered that at no time were they far from the coast.

On the 2nd of June, nearly four months after they had bidden good-bye to the cutter at Fowler’s Bay, they stood on the cliffs, looking out over the ocean, when they saw in the distance two objects which were soon recognized as boats, and shortly afterwards, to their unbounded joy, they discerned the masts of a vessel on the farther side of a small rocky island. Animated by a new life, Eyre pushed on until he reached a point whence he succeeded in hailing the ship, and a boat was sent off. The vessel proved to be a French whaler, the Mississippi, commanded by an Englishman, Captain Rossiter. The worn-out travellers stayed on board for a fortnight, experiencing the utmost kindness, and with recruited strength and food and clothing, they bade a grateful farewell to the captain and crew, and resumed their journey.

For twenty-three days more Eyre and his attendant Wylie pursued their way. Rain fell heavily, and the cold was intense; but at length, on the 27th of July, they reached Albany, in Western Australia, and the journey was accomplished.

For more than twelve months Eyre had been engaged forcing his way from Adelaide to the Western colony; and the incidents of the journey have been dwelt upon because afterwards I passed over the same ground, though in the opposite direction, and the records of Eyre’s expedition were of the greatest service to me, by at least enabling me to guard against a repetition of the terrible sufferings he endured.


It is further necessary to refer to another of the journeys of exploration which preceded my own–that of the unfortunate Leichardt. He endeavoured to cross the continent from east to west, starting from Moreton Bay, Queensland, hoping to reach the Western Australian settlements. In 1844 Leichardt had succeeded in crossing the north-western portion of the continent from Moreton Bay to Port Essington, and he conceived the gigantic project of reaching Western Australia. Towards the end of 1847, accompanied by eight men, with provisions estimated at two years’ supply, he started on his journey. He took with him an enormous number of animals–180 sheep, 270 goats, 40 bullocks, 15 horses, and 13 mules. They must have greatly encumbered his march, and the difficulty of obtaining food necessarily much impeded his movements. His original intention was first to steer north, following for some distance his previous track, and then, as opportunity offered, to strike westward and make clear across the continent. After disastrous wanderings for seven months, in the course of which they lost the whole of their cattle and sheep, the party returned.

Disappointed, but not discouraged, Leichardt resolved on another attempt to achieve the task he had set himself. With great difficulty he obtained some funds; organized a small but ill-provided party, and again started for the interior. The last ever heard of him was a letter, dated the 3rd of April, 1848. He was then in the Fitzroy Downs; he wrote in good spirits, hopefully as to his prospects: “Seeing how much I have been favoured in my present progress, I am full of hopes that our Almighty Protector will allow me to bring my darling scheme to a successful termination.”


From that day the fate of Leichardt and his companions has been involved in mystery. He was then on the Cogoon River, in Eastern Australia, at least 1500 miles from the nearest station on the western side of the continent. His last letter gives no clue to the track he intended to pursue. If a westerly course had been struck he would have nearly traversed the route which subsequently Warburton travelled; but no trace of him has ever been discovered. Several expeditions were undertaken to ascertain his fate; at various times expectations were aroused by finding trees marked L; but Leichardt himself, on previous journeys, had met with trees so marked, by whom is unknown. Natives found in the remote interior were questioned; they told vague stories of the murder of white men, but all investigations resulted in the conclusion that the statements were as untrustworthy as those generally made to explorers who question uninformed, ignorant natives. The white man’s experience is usually that a native only partially comprehends the question; he does not understand what is wanted, but is anxious to please, as he expects something to eat, and he says what he thinks is most likely to be satisfactory.

Leichardt was certainly ill-provided for an expedition of the magnitude he contemplated, and it appears to be at the least as probable that he succumbed to the hardships he encountered, or was swept away by a flood, as that he was murdered by the blacks. Twenty-seven years have elapsed since he disappeared in the interior; yet the mystery attending his fate has not ceased to excite a desire to know the fate of so daring an explorer, and ascertain something definite respecting his course–a desire which was one of the principal motives that prompted my first expedition into the unknown interior dividing the west from the east.

In 1872, Mr. Giles headed an exploring party from Melbourne, which succeeded in making known a vast district hitherto unexplored; but his progress was stopped, when he had reached longitude 129 degrees 40 minutes, by a large salt lake, the limits of which could not be ascertained. In the following year Mr. Gosse, at the head of a party equipped by the South Australian Government, started from nearly the same point of the telegraph line, and at the same period as the Warburton expedition, but was compelled to return after eight months’ absence, having reached longitude 126 degrees 59 minutes. Gosse found the country generally poor and destitute of water. He was perhaps unfortunate in experiencing an unusually dry season; but his deliberate conclusion was, “I do not think a practicable route will ever be found between the lower part of Western Australia and the telegraph line.”


At the instance of Baron Von Mueller, and assisted by a small subscription from the South Australian Government, Mr. Giles made a second attempt to penetrate westward. He reached the 125th degree of east longitude, and discovered and traversed four distinct mountain ranges, on one of which Mr. Gosse shortly afterwards found his tracks. One of his companions, Mr. Gibson, lost his way and perished in the desert, and therefore Mr. Giles turned his face eastwards, and, after an absence of twelve months, reached Adelaide. He encountered many perils, having been nine times attacked by the natives, probably in the attempt to obtain water; and on one occasion was severely wounded and nearly captured.

On the 20th March, 1874, Mr. Ross, with his son and another European, three Arabs, fourteen horses, and sixteen camels, started from the telegraph line, near the Peake station in South Australia. He was compelled to return through want of water, although, soon after starting, he had greatly reduced the number of his party by sending back three of his companions, two of the horses, and twelve of the camels.

Such, in brief, have been the results of the efforts made to cross Australia between the telegraph line and the west coast, and ascertain the probability of establishing a practicable route. I have referred to them to show how persistent has been the desire to achieve the exploit, and how little daunted by repeated failures have been Australian explorers. I now propose to relate my own experiences–the results of three journeys of exploration, conducted by myself. The first was undertaken in the hope of discovering some traces of Leichardt; the second nearly retraced the route of Eyre; the third was across the desert from Western Australia to the telegraph line in South Australia. The first journey did not result in obtaining the information sought for; the second and third journeys were successfully accomplished.


Statements made by the Natives.
An Expedition prepared.
Leader appointed.
Official Instructions.
The Journal.

Early in 1869, Dr. Von Mueller, of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, a botanist of high attainments, proposed to the Government of Western Australia that an expedition should be undertaken from the colony for the purpose of ascertaining, if possible, the fate of the lost explorer, Leichardt. Reports had reached Perth of natives met with in the eastern districts, who had stated that, about twenty years before (a date corresponding with that of the last authentic intelligence received from Leichardt), a party of white men had been murdered. This tale was repeated, but perhaps would not have made much impression if a gentleman, Mr. J.H. Monger, when on a trip eastward in search of sheep-runs, had not been told by his native guide that he had been to the very spot where the murder was committed, and had seen the remains of the white men. His story was very circumstantial; he described the spot, which, he said, was near a large lake, so large that it looked like the sea, and that the white men were attacked and killed while making a damper–bread made of flour mixed with water, and cooked on hot ashes. So certain was he as to the exact locality, that he offered to conduct a party to the place.

This appeared like a trustworthy confirmation of the reports which had reached the colony, and created a great impression, so that the Government felt it a duty incumbent on them to make an effort to ascertain the truth of this statement, and Dr. Von Mueller’s offer to lead an expedition was accepted.

I was then, as now, an officer of the Survey Department, and employed in a distant part of the colony. I was ordered to repair to headquarters, to confer with the authorities on the subject, and was offered the appointment of second in command and navigator. This was a proposition quite in accordance with my tastes, for I had long felt a deep interest in the subject of Australian exploration, and ardently desired to take my share in the work. I at once arranged the equipment of the expedition, but, while so engaged, the mail from Melbourne brought a letter from Dr. Von Mueller, to the effect that his other engagements would not permit him to take the lead as proposed, and I was appointed to take his place in the expedition.


The Honourable Captain Roe, R.N., the Surveyor-General, who had himself been a great explorer, undertook the preparation of a set of Instructions for my guidance; and they so accurately describe the objects of the journey, and the best modes of carrying them out, that I transcribe the official letter:–

Survey Office, Perth,
13th April, 1869.


His Excellency the Governor having been pleased to appoint you to lead an expedition into the interior of Western Australia for the purpose of searching for the remains of certain white men reported by the natives to have been killed by the aborigines some years ago, many miles beyond the limits of our settled country, and it being deemed probable that the white men referred to formed part of an exploring party under the command of Dr. Leichardt, endeavouring to penetrate overland from Victoria to this colony several years ago, I have been directed to furnish the following instructions for your guidance on this interesting service, and for enabling you to carry out the wishes of the Government in connexion therewith.

2. Your party will consist of six persons in the whole, well armed, and made up of Mr. George Monger as second in command, Mr. Malcolm Hamersley as third in command, a farrier blacksmith to be hired at Newcastle, and two well-known and reliable natives, Tommy Windich and Jemmy, who have already acquired considerable experience under former explorers.

3. An agreement to serve on the expedition in the above capacities has been prepared, and should be signed by each European member of the party previous to starting.

4. A saddle-horse has been provided for each member of the party, together with —- pack-horses to transport such portions of the outfit as cannot be carried by the former. A three-horsed cart will also accompany the expedition as far as may be found practicable through the unsettled country, and thereby relieve the pack-horses as much as possible.

5. All preparations for the journey being now complete, it is desirable that you should lose no time in starting, so as to arrive at the commencement of the unexplored country by the end of the present month, or beginning of the expected winter rains. It has been, however, already ascertained from native information that a considerable quantity of rain has recently fallen over the regions to be explored, and that no impediment may be anticipated from a scarcity of water there.

6. The route to be followed might advantageously commence at Newcastle, where some of your party and several of your horses are to be picked up, and thence proceed north-easterly to Goomaling, and 100 miles further in the same general direction, passing eastward to Mounts Chunbaren and Kenneth of Mr. Austin’s, to the eastern farthest of that explorer, in 119 degrees East and 28 3/4 degrees South. Thence the general north-easterly route of the expedition must be governed by the information afforded by your native guides as to the locality in which they have reported the remains of white men are to be found.

7. On arriving at that spot, the greatest care is to be taken to bring away all such remains as may be discovered by a diligent search of the neighbourhood. By friendly and judicious treatment of the local natives, it is also probable that several articles of European manufacture which are said to be still in their possession might be bartered from them, and serve towards identifying their former owners. The prospect of obtaining from the natives, at this remote date, anything like a journal, note-book, or map, would indeed be small; but the greatest interest would be attached to the smallest scrap of written or printed paper, however much defaced, if only covered with legible characters. A more promising mode by which the former presence of European explorers on the spot might be detected is the marks which are generally made on the trees by travellers to record the number or reference to a halting-place, or the initials of some of the party. Thus the letter L has in several instances been found by searching parties to have been legibly cut on trees in the interior of the eastern colonies, and in localities supposed to have been visited by the eminent explorer alluded to. It is needless to point out that metal articles, such as axes, tomahawks, gun and pistol barrels, iron-work of pack-saddles, and such like, would be far more likely to have survived through the lapse of years than articles of a more perishable nature.

8. After exhausting all conceivable means of obtaining information on the spot, and from the nature of surrounding country, an attempt should be made to follow back on the track of the unfortunate deceased, which is said to have been from the eastward and towards the settled part of this colony. Here a close and minute scrutiny of the trees might prove of great value in clearing up existing doubts, especially at and about any water-holes and springs near which explorers would be likely to bivouac.

9. After completing an exhaustive research and inquiry into this interesting and important part of your duties, the remainder of the time that may be at your disposal, with reference to your remaining stock of provisions, should be employed in exploring the surrounding country, in tracing any considerable or smaller stream it may be your good fortune to discover, and generally in rendering the service entrusted to your guidance as extensively useful and valuable to this colony as circumstances may admit.

10. Towards effecting this object, your homeward journey should, if possible, be over country not previously traversed by the outward route, or by any former explorers, and should be so regulated as to expose your party to no unnecessary risk on account of the falling short of supplies.

11. In your intercourse with the aborigines of the interior, many of whom will have no previous personal knowledge of the white man, I need scarcely commend to you a policy of kindness and forbearance mixed with watchfulness and firmness, as their future bearing towards our remote colonists may be chiefly moulded by early impressions.

12. To render the expedition as extensively useful as possible, I would urge you, in the interests of science, to make and preserve such specimens in natural history as may come within the reach of yourself and party, especially in the departments of botany, geology, and zoology, which may be greatly enriched by productions of country not yet traversed.

13. Direct reference to minor objects, and to matters of detail, is purposely omitted, in full reliance on your judgment and discretion, and on your personal desire to render the expedition as productive as possible of benefit to the colony and to science in general.

14. In this spirit I may add that the brief instructions herein given for your general guidance are by no means intended to fetter your own judgment in carrying out the main object of the expedition in such other and different manner as may appear to you likely to lead to beneficial results. In the belief that such results will be achieved by the energy and perseverance of yourself and of those who have so nobly volunteered to join you in the enterprise, and with confident wishes for your success, in which H.E. largely participates,

I remain, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

J.S. ROE, Surveyor-General.


John Forrest, Esquire, Leader of Exploring Expedition to the North-East.


Mr. George Monger (brother of the gentleman who gave the information), who accompanied me as second in command, had previously been on an expedition to the eastward, and Jemmy Mungaro was the black who said he had seen the spot where the remains of the white men were. His persistence in the statement encouraged me to hope that I might be the first to announce positively the fate of the lost explorer; but I had then to learn how little dependence can be placed on the testimony of Australian aborigines.

On the 15th of April, 1869, I began the journey. I was well supplied with instruments for making observations, so as to ascertain our daily position. A knowledge of at least the leading principles of the art of navigation is as necessary to the explorer as to the mariner on the ocean. Our stock of provisions consisted of 800 pounds of flour, 270 pounds of pork, 135 pounds of sugar, and 17 pounds of tea; and we each took two suits of clothes.

The party were all in good spirits. For myself I was hopeful of success, and my white companions shared my feelings. The natives were, as they generally are, except when food is scarce, or their anger excited, on the best terms with everybody and everything, and Jemmy Mungaro, so far as could be judged from his demeanour, might have been the most veracious guide who ever led a party of white men through difficulties and dangers on an expedition of discovery.

Day by day I noted down the incidents of the journey, and that Journal I now submit to the reader.



In pursuance of instructions received from you, the exploring party under my command consisted of the following persons, namely, Mr. George Monger, as second in command; Mr. Malcolm Hamersley, as third in command; probation prisoner, David Morgan, as shoeing smith, and two natives (Tommy Windich and Jemmy Mungaro). The latter native gave Mr. J.H. Monger the information respecting the murder of white men in the eastward. Reached Newcastle on the 17th and left on Monday, 19th, with a three-horse cart and teamster and thirteen horses, making a total of sixteen horses. Reached Mombekine, which is about sixteen miles East-North-East from Newcastle.

April 20th.
Continued journey to Goomalling, sixteen miles, which we reached at 1 p.m., and devoted the remainder of the afternoon to weighing and packing rations, etc., for a final start.

Leaving Goomalling at 10.30 a.m., we travelled in a northerly direction for nine miles, and reached Walyamurra Lake; thence about East-North-East for seven miles, we encamped at a well on north side of Kombekine Lake. The water was very bad from opossums being drowned in it, and there was hardly any feed.

Hearing from a number of natives that there was no water in the direction we intended steering, namely, to Mount Churchman, we decided on changing our course and proceed there via Waddowring, in latitude 31 degrees south and longitude 118 degrees east. Steering about South-South-East for eight miles, through dense scrubby thickets, which we had great difficulty in getting the cart through, we struck the road from Goomalling to Waddowring, which we followed along about east for eight miles, and camped at a well called Naaning, with hardly any feed.

Mr. George Roe (who had come from Northam to bid us farewell) and my teamster left us this morning to return to Newcastle. Considerable delay having occurred in collecting the horses, we did not start till twelve o’clock, when we steered East-North-East for eight miles over scrubby sand-plains, and camped at a well called Pingeperring, with very little feed for our horses.

Started at 8.50 a.m. and steered about east for seven miles over scrubby, undulating sand-plains, thence North 50 degrees East magnetic for two miles, thence North 160 degrees for one mile, and thence about North 80 degrees East magnetic for five miles over scrubby sand-plains. We camped at a spring called Dwartwollaking at 5 p.m. Barometer 29.45; thermometer 71 degrees.

25th (Sunday).
Did not travel to-day. Took observations for time, and corrected our watches. Found camp to be in south latitude 31 degrees 10 minutes by meridian altitude of sun.

Travelled in about the direction of North 73 degrees East magnetic for twenty-eight miles. We reached Yarraging, the farthest station to the eastward, belonging to Messrs. Ward and Adams, where we bivouacked for the night.

Bought some rations from Ward and Co., making our supply equal to last three months on the daily allowance of a pound and a half of flour, half a pound of pork, a quarter of a pound of sugar, and half an ounce of tea per man. Being unable to take the cart any further, and wishing to have the team horses with me, I arranged with Ward and Co. to take it to Newcastle for 2 pounds. Packed up and left Yarraging with ten pack and six riding horses, and steering North 320 degrees East magnetic for eight miles we reached Waddowring springs in south latitude 31 degrees and longitude 118 degrees East.

Started this morning with Mr. Monger, Tommy Windich, and Dunbatch (a native of this locality) in search of water in order to shift the party. Travelling about north for eleven miles we found a native well, and by digging it out seven feet we obtained sufficient water for ourselves and horses. I therefore sent Mr. Monger back with instructions to bring the party to this spot, called Cartubing. I then proceeded in a northerly direction, and at two miles passed water in granite rocks at a spot called Inkanyinning. Shortly afterwards we passed another native well, called Yammaling, from which we steered towards a spot called Beebynyinning; but, night setting in, our guide lost his way, and we were obliged to camp for the night in a thicket without water and very little feed.

This morning Dunbatch brought us to Beebynyinning, where we obtained a little water by digging. After digging a well we returned to Cartubing, where we met the party and bivouacked on a patch of green feed.

Shifted the party from Cartubing to Beebynyinning, watering our horses on the way at Inkanyinning and Yammaling, which was fortunate, as there was very little water at Beebynyinning.

May 1st.
Steering about North-East for eight miles over grassy country, we reached and encamped at Danjinning, a small grassy spot, with native well, by deepening which about ten feet we obtained a plentiful supply of water. Mr. Austin visited Danjinning in 1854, and we could see the tracks of his horses distinctly. Barometer 29. Every appearance of rain, which we are in much want of.

2nd (Sunday).
Rested at Danjinning, which I found to be in south latitude 30 degrees 34 minutes by meridian altitude of the sun. Read Divine Service. Jemmy shot six gnows and a wurrong to-day.

Steering in a northerly direction for sixteen miles, we reached Yalburnunging, a small grassy spot, with water in a native well, which we deepened four feet, and procured a plentiful supply. For the first nine miles our route lay over scrubby sand-plains, after which we came into dense thickets and stunted gums.

Steering towards Mount Churchman, or Geelabbing, for about fifteen miles, we reached a grassy spot called Billeburring, and found water in a native well, probably permanent. At eight miles we passed a water-hole in some granite rocks, called Gnaragnunging. Dense acacia and cypress thickets most of the way.

Steering in a northerly direction for about twelve miles, we reached Mount Churchman, or Geelabbing, an immense bare granite hill, and camped, with plenty of feed and water. At five miles passed a spring called Coolee. Country very dense and scrubby; no feed in any of the thickets. From the summit of Mount Churchman, Ningham of Mr. Monger, or Mount Singleton of Mr. A.C. Gregory, bore North 312 degrees 30 minutes East magnetic. This evening a party of nine natives (friends of our native Jemmy) joined us, who state that a long time ago a party of white men and horses died at a place called Bouincabbajibimar, also that a gun and a number of other articles are there, and volunteer to accompany us to the spot.

Left Mount Churchman in company with the nine natives, and travelled about North-North-West for ten miles to a small water-hole called Woodgine, thence in a northerly direction to a branch of Lake Moore, which we crossed without difficulty, and, following along its north shore for three miles, we bivouacked at a spring close to the lake called Cundierring, with splendid feed around the granite rocks.

Steering in a northerly direction for eleven miles, through dense thickets of acacia and cypress, we reached some granite rocks with water on them, called Curroning, and bivouacked. Have fears that the information received from the natives relates to nine of Mr. Austin’s horses that died from poison at Poison Rock. They now state they are only horses’ bones, and not men’s, as first stated.

Travelling in the direction of North 30 degrees East for about ten miles, we reached some granite rocks, with a water-hole in them, called Coorbedar. Passed over very rough, low, quartz hills, covered with acacia thickets, etc. At four miles passed a water-hole called Yeergolling; at seven miles a small one called Gnurra; and another at eight miles called Munnarra.

9th (Sunday).
Rested our horses at Coorbedar. Found camp to be in south latitude 29 degrees 24 minutes 43 seconds by meridian altitudes of the sun and Regulus, and in longitude 118 degrees 6 minutes East. From a quartz hill half a mile South-West from Coorbedar, Mount Singleton bore North 268 degrees 15 minutes East. The supply of water from the rock having been used, I went, in company with Mr. Hamersley, to a spot one mile and a half South-South-West from Coorbedar, called Dowgooroo, where we dug a well and procured a little water, to which I intend shifting to-morrow, as I propose staying in this vicinity for two days, so as to give me time to visit Warne, the large river spoken of by Jemmy.

Started this morning in company with Tommy Windich and a native boy (one of the nine who joined us at Mount Churchman) to examine the locality called Warne. Steering North 42 degrees East magnetic for about seven miles, we came to a grassy flat about half a mile wide, with a stream-bed trending south running through it. The natives state it to be dry in summer, but at present there is abundance of water, and in wet seasons the flat must be almost all under water. After following the flat about seven miles we returned towards camp, about five miles, and bivouacked.

Returned this morning to Dowgooroo and found all well. Rain, which we were much in want of, fell lightly most of the day. Barometer 28.50; thermometer 61 degrees.

Steered this morning about North 38 degrees East magnetic for eight miles, and camped by a shallow lake of fresh water–the bivouac of the 10th. Here we met a party of twenty-five natives (friends of my native Jemmy and the nine who joined us at Mount Churchman) who had a grand corroboree in honour of the expedition. They stated that at Bouincabbajilimar there were the remains of a number of horses, but no men’s bones or guns, and pointed in the direction of Poison Rock, where Mr. Austin lost nine horses. Being now satisfied that the natives were alluding to the remains of Mr. Austin’s horses, I resolved to steer to the eastward, towards a spot called by the native, Jemmy, Noondie, where he states he heard the remains of white men were.

Bidding farewell to all the natives, we steered in a south-easterly direction for fifteen miles, and camped in a rough hollow called Durkying; cypress and acacia thickets the whole way.

One of our horses having strayed, we did not start till 10.40 a.m., when we steered in about a South-East direction for eight miles, and camped on an elevated grassy spot, called Mingan, with water in the granite rocks, probably permanent. The thickets were a little less dense than usual, but without any grass, except at the spots mentioned. By meridian altitudes of Mars and Regulus, we were in south latitude 29 degrees 30 minutes 30 seconds, and in longitude about 118 degrees 30 minutes east.

Steering North-East for four miles, and North-North-East for seven miles, over sandy soil, with thickets of acacia and cypress, we bivouacked on an elevated grassy spot, called Earroo, with water in granite rocks.

16th (Sunday).
Rested at Earroo; horses enjoying good feed. By meridian altitudes of Regulus and Mars, camp at Earroo was in south latitude 29 degrees 23 minutes 3 seconds, and in longitude 118 degrees 35 minutes East; weather very cloudy; barometer 29.

Started 7.50 a.m., and steered North 60 degrees East for about five miles; thence about North 50 degrees East for eight miles; thence North 85 degrees East for five miles, to a small grassy spot called Croobenyer, with water in granite rocks. Sandy soil, thickets of cypress, acacia, etc., most of the way. Found camp to be in south latitude 29 degrees 12 minutes 43 seconds by meridian altitudes of Regulus and Aquilae (Altair); barometer 28.70.

Steering North 70 degrees East for two miles and a half, we saw a low hill called Yeeramudder, bearing North 62 degrees 30 minutes East magnetic, distant about seventeen miles, for which we steered, and camped to the north of it, on a fine patch of grass with a little rain-water on some granite rocks. At eleven miles crossed a branch of a dry salt lake, which appears to run far to the eastward.

Steering about North 85 degrees East magnetic for fourteen miles, attempted to cross the lake we had been leaving a little to the southward, making for a spot supposed by us to be the opposite shore, but on arriving at which was found to be an island. As we had great difficulty in reaching it, having to carry all the loads the last 200 yards, our horses saving themselves with difficulty, and, being late, I resolved to leave the loads and take the horses to another island, where there was a little feed, on reaching which we bivouacked without water, all being very tired.

On examining this immense lake I found that it was impossible to get the horses and loads across it; I was therefore compelled to retrace my steps to where we first entered it, which the horses did with great difficulty without their loads. I was very fortunate in finding water and feed about three miles North-North-West, to which we took the horses and bivouacked, leaving on the island all the loads, which we shall have to carry at least half way, three quarters of a mile, the route being too boggy for the horses.


Went over to the lake in company with Messrs. Monger, Hamersley, and Tommy Windich, with four horses. Succeeded in getting all the loads to the mainland, carrying them about three quarters of a mile up to our knees in mud, from which point the lake became a little firmer, and the horses carried the loads out. I cannot speak too highly of the manner in which my companions assisted me on this trying occasion. Having been obliged to work barefooted in the mud, the soles of Mr. Hamersley’s feet were in a very bad state, and he was hardly able to walk for a fortnight.
Seeing a native fire several miles to the southward, I intend sending Tommy Windich and Jemmy in search of the tribe to-morrow, in order that I may question them respecting the reported death of white men to the eastward.