« AnteriorContinuar »
the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Horseshoe Swamp, found by Mr. Eyre in the northern part of the province of South Australia.
"With respect, however, to the climate of the country, in the neighbourhood of the Victoria, the temperature, ranging between 95° and 110°, was found by the ' Beagle's' officers in the month of November to be almost insufferable, and quite different to that experienced at the Albert, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It would seem from Captain Stokes's description above inserted to resemble in character the country about Cambridge Gulf, which has its embouchure to the sea, a short distance to the westward.
"The next part of the north-west coast visited by the 'Beagle,' was the opening that was supposed to exist at the back of the Buccaneer's Archipelago. Perhaps no part of the whole coast promised to be of greater interest, and raised hopes of the existence there of a large river,— hopes that were justified by the great rise and fall of the tides, which exceeded thirty-six feet. It was, however, found to be but a comparatively unimportant indentation, the eastern part or Collier's Bay beingnothing more than a shallow sinuosity of the coast line, and the western part narrowed gradually into a tolerably extensive sound, terminated byFitzroy River, which was traced for twenty-five miles in a southerly direction, draining the lowland from and through which it flowed. The opening near Cape Latouche-Treville, which was thought also to be another outlet of the supposed river, or else the mouth of a second, was an open bay not affording even sheltered anchorage. The interval between this part and Deputch Island was also explored, but not found to contain any inlet or feature of importance. It is generally a sandy and low sterile coast, fronted by a shoal approach and several sand-banks, the positions of which were ascertained. The Monte-Bello Islands were also correctly
and minutely surveyed, as also some rocks in the neighbourhood, which are doubtless the Trial Rocks of former navigators.
"On the west coast, the Houtman's Abrolhos was also explored and surveyed, together with the coast within it, where the fertile appearance of the coast gave strong indications of the presence of a country favourable for settling. It is here that Governor Grey recommended the Australind Company to establish themselves. Fortunately, however, they had located themselves at the inlet called Port Leschelnault: for they afterwards ascertained that the former would not have suited their wants. Several new anchorages about Rottnest and Gage's Road, off Swan River, were also examined and surveyed, in which much advantage will be derived by the colonists at Western Australia.
"South Australia has also had the advantage of the 'Beagle's' services in the survey of the anchorage and port at Adelaide.
"But perhaps the most important — because useful — work performed by the ' Beagle ' has been the detailed survey of Bass's Strait, which has been just completed by Captain Stokes, with the aid of the government of Van Diemen's Land, which, in the most liberal way, at once acceded to the request of Captain Stokes, by devoting to his services the use of the colonial cutter ' Vansittart,' for the survey of the southern portion of the eastern entrance of the Strait. The command of the vessel was temporarily given to Mr. C. C. Forsyth, mate of the 'Beagle.'
"The result of these labours has been the completion of the survey, in which the proper and relative position of the various headlands, capes, and islands, which are so prominent and numerous in the Strait, are laid down; with the tides, soundings, and description of several new anchorages, in a manner that cannot but be of immense importance to the commercial interests
of the colony. Much important information relative to the entrance of Port Dalrymple, as well as that of Port Phillip, and the channel within it, the approaches to and anchorages to the southward of Comer Inlet, have also been furnished by the operations of the 4 Beagle' during this important survey. Much labour and personal exertion have been bestowed upon this work, and too much praise cannot be given to those who have been prominent therein. It may be, however, necessary to say, that it was commenced by Captain Wickham, and completed by Captain Stokes.
"This, however, would not have been the last work which the 'Beagle' would have performed for the colony, but for obstacles which unexpectedly presented themselves, and prevented Captain Stokes from making a survey of the neighbouring coasts of Port Jackson. The necessity for a chart of the coast is very urgent, from discrepancies which have been found to exist in the only chart now in use, and the principal materials for it have been from time to time prepared as the ' Beagle' passed up and down the coast. It is to be lamented that this desirable matter could not have been accomplished.
"It is unnecessary to follow the 'Beagle' with more detail through her various movements upon the long and tedious service upon which she has been employed. Suffice to say, that the fruit of her voyage has been of the greatest importance to the navigation of the coasts, which will be amply proved when the charts of her voyage, particularly that of Bass's Straits, are published, and placed Avithin the reach of navigators, by whom alone, from the unpretending manner in which the work has been performed, it can be estimated as it deserves." *
With the above briefly described survey of the
• From the " Sydney Herald" of February 10th, 1843.
"Beagle," which will be more fully detailed in the forthcoming work and charts of Captain Stokes, terminates one of the most extensive series of coast surveys ever undertaken. For completeness, skill, and the strict accuracy with which they were executed, and in the important bearing they have on navigation and commerce, the charts of these surveys may be said to rank foremost amongst the documents of British Hydrography.
On that immense continent to the shores of which the above reviewed marine surveys are confined, five colonies have been established. Each of these has, with more or less spirit, carried on the work of inland discovery: each boasts with reason of having enriched the store of topographical knowledge relating to the interior of New Holland. As, however, these pages are limited to the illustration of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, we shall now proceed to notice only those geographical discoveries which are connected with the two above-named colonies.
The topography of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, like the hydrography of Terra Australia at large, has its list of successive meritorious contributors. The first to whose energy and enterprise we owe the earliest map of New South Wales is John Oxley, R. N., Surveyor-general of the colony. His two expeditions in 1815, which he undertook by order of Government, and which furnished materials for the map that followed, are the only explorations of that time accompanied by authentic records. In his expeditions westward of Sydney, to the sources of the rivers Lachlan and Macquarie, and in that which was next carried eastward of the tributaries of the Darling, as far as those of the river Hastings and Port Macquarie, he completed the discovery of that chain of mountains ranging from S. to N., which, dividing the drainage of the country into eastern and western waters, constitutes the prominent features in the configuration of New South Wales.
When on the westerly side of that chain, and only at 100 miles from it, his astonishment was great indeed to find that from 4000 feet, which was the elevation of the chain above the level of the sea, the altitude had decreased to 600 feet. On penetrating still further to the westward, the fall of the country became perceptible to the eye; but the want of provisions prevented his exploring the course of the Lachlan farther than longitude 146°, and following the course of the Macquarie through a low country, with a level and unbroken horizon to the west, brought him only to a marsh, in which that river ended; so that he was naturally led to conjecture that the westerly waters of New South Wales most probably lose themselves in the marshy interior of New Holland.
Captain Sturt rectified this notion by penetrating beyond the marsh, and discovering that its superfluous waters were drained by the river Darling, which he found the Castlereagh and Bogan rivers joined. The Darling, flowing from the N. E., was a new discovery: its course at the point at which Captain Sturt left it, was S. W. (145° 30' E. longitude, and 30° 20' S. latitude); and beyond that point nothing was known. In 1830, Captain Sturt again proceeded from Yass Plains westerly; and keeping along the banks of the Murrumbidgee, discovered its junction with the Lachlan. Here, the river offering a better route than the land, he descended it in a boat, and, in the progress of his journey, came to a second confluence, formed by a river from the S. W.,