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2-168 (Text)

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author,male,Hovell, William Hilton,51 addressee
Narrative Discourse
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Private Written
Fitzpatrick, 1958
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SUNDAY, October 17. - Leave Mr. Hume's station (the last which is occupied by the colonists) without a guide; travel twelve miles, S.60' W. (through a country affording good pasturage for cattle, thinly wooded, and well watered) 
Tuesday, October 19  About eleven o'clock, having crossed the plains, they enter a forest country, when having travelled over an almost perfect level of about five miles and a half, the face of the country, to their surprise, became at once changed - broken, irregular, and precipitous; so that it was a considerable time before they could find a pass for the carts.
At three they found themselves on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River 
Saturday, October 23. - Immediately on leaving the banks of the Murrumbidgee, they commence crossing Obliquely, and in a zigzag course (the mean direction of which is S.W.), a moderately steep but high limestone range, lying nearly N. and S. (parallel with the river at this spot), thinly wooded, but well covered with good grass. From the summit of this range, an extensive view of the river is obtained.
Tuesday, October 26. - This morning was occupied in forwarding the supplies, as well as the carts, across the stream - when they again pitched their tent not far from its left bank. Mr. Hovell was now employed in making arrangements for leaving the carts (which from the mountainous character of the country before them, it had become impracticable to take further), and in concealing along the banks of the stream such of the supplies as they perceived it would be impossible to convey with them. Meanwhile Mr. Hume, with one of the men, proceeds in a N.W. direction, in quest of a pass through the western barrier of the valley 
Friday, October 29. - At sunrise, Mr. Hume, with one of the men, ascends a high hill not far from the tent, in order to obtain a view of their projected route. From this is seen an opening in the direction S. half W, similar, apparently, to the one through which they had passed on the 25th instant. Thither, a distance of nearly two miles, they proceed, when this opening is discovered to be merely a mountain chasm of not more than ten feet wide. The precipitous sides of this are upwards of a hundred feet in height, and the bottom of it forms the bed of a small stream, at present about two or three feet deep.  Their route up this is, of course, impracticable. They now, therefore, retrace their steps about a mile and a half towards the stream, and then commence their ascent of a mountain branch from the main (or W. barrier) range. After two or three hours of much fatigue to the cattle, by pursuing a zigzag route, they arrive at the summit of the most elevated part of the range near them. This proved, unexpectedly, to be a broad flat table land, and this again so thickly wooded, that their view to the westward was utterly intercepted, while in the direction S.E, which was more open, the country appeared unusually mountainous and irregular 
Saturday, October 30.  The country to the S. and S.W. becomes somewhat more open than usual, and the timber always good, continues to improve as they advance.
Sunday, October 31.  At one or two o'clock, they had ascended a considerable eminence; when they unexpectedly found that they were not far from the precipitous and deep descent that forms, it seems, one of the terminations of the table range, along the summits of which they had been travelling the last three days.  From the spot at which they commence their descent, the bearings of the most remarkable mountains round them were - first, a very high pyramidal mountain, S. by W. half W, distant about five or six miles; secondly, a range of mountains, terminating, not far from them at the river, apparently a continuation of that table range on which they had just been travelling; and thirdly, continuous ranges of mountains, extending to the utmost verge of the horizon, in the direction N.W.
Monday, November 8. - At half-past seven o'clock they had recommenced their progress, proceeding along the stream in a south-westerly direction, the stream becoming gradually broader and deeper as they advanced. About five miles from their place of departure, it is broken by three several perpendicular falls, each from about ten to fifteen feet in height, and between twenty and thirty feet distant from each other. Two miles beyond these falls, their progress on the banks of this stream is arrested by the mountainous range forming the southern barrier of the valley, and which, on each side of it, rises precipitously out of the stream. 
Messrs. Hovell and Hume, having ascended close to the stream with some difficulty, about half the height of this range, in order to be the better enabled to decide as to their future operations, were suddenly surprised by a sight, to the utmost degree magnificent. Mountains, of a conoidal form, and of an apparently immense height, and some of them covered about one-fourth of their height, with snow, were now seen extending semicircularly from the S.E. to S.S.W. at the supposed distance of about twenty miles. The sun was bright (it was about ten or eleven in the forenoon), and gave them an appearance the most brilliant.
The mountains which they had hitherto seen, compared with these stupendous elevations, were no more than hillocks; from which, also their form, as well as their other general characters, rendered them not the less dissimilar.
The men had no sooner heard of this unexpected and interesting scene than, catching the enthusiasm, they ran to the spot where the travellers were standing, and were not less than themselves surprised and delighted at this preeminently grand and beautiful spectacle.
The stream itself, where last seen, was running S. towards the newly discovered mountains. The space between these mountains (which have been designated the South Australian Alps) and the spot where they stood, consists of a mountainous and hilly region, which becoming gradually of less and less elevation, terminates midway, in a thinly wooded undulating surface, extending parallel with the mountains on either side of it..
Tuesday, November 16. - Soon after sunrise they recommence their journey, and having proceeded three miles and a half S. (the land gradually sloping as they advanced), arrive suddenly on the banks of a fine river. This was named "The Hume."
This beautiful stream is found to be not less than eighty yards in breadth, apparently of considerable depth; the current about three miles an hour; the water, for so considerable a current, clear. 
The river itself is serpentine, the banks clothed with verdure to the water's edge; their general heights various, but seldom either more or less than eight or nine feet; inclined, or precipitous, as they happen, by the bendings of the stream, to be more or less exposed to the action of the current. On each side of the river is a perpetual succession of lagoons, extending generally in length from one to two miles, and about a quarter of a mile in breadth. These, which are situate alternately on each side of the river, within those elbows and projections which are formed by its windings, often for miles together, preclude any approach to its banks 
Unable to devise any means of crossing the river, and in hope of discovering some practicable ford, they now commence their progress (west) down the stream..
Wednesday, November 17. - Messrs. Hovell and Hume take with them two of the men, and proceed seven miles further down the stream, still in search of some practicable crossing place, but without success - the stream becoming, as they advance, of somewhat increased magnitude; its banks more beautifully regular, and perhaps of somewhat increased height 
At four o'clock the party had returned to the tent, having determined on proceeding on the morrow in the contrary direction (up the river), in quest of the same object.
Friday, November 19. - They resume their route (which they commenced the day before yesterday) up the river (E.).
The general appearance of the country, together with that of the soil, is rich and beautiful. The grass, having apparently been burnt early in the season, and being now in full seed, is fresh and luxuriant, frequently as high as their heads, and seldom lower than their waists. On both sides of the river, the 'bell-birds' are 'ringing merrily', a treat hitherto unusual.
Saturday, November 20. - Weather fine; this morning they cross the river: this they effect by means of a temporary boat, hastily constructed (of wicker, covered with tarpauling) for the occasion, and by four in the afternoon, every thing, including the cattle, had been landed on the opposite bank.  At five, they leave the banks of the stream, travel two miles and a half before dark, and then halt on a patch of fine forest land 
Sunday, November 21.  they resume their route, passing S.W. over the extremities of a range of hills, a collateral branch of the great North and South Alpine chain, from the southern aspect of which they perceive a fresh series of lagoon and swamp and creek, and at the short distance of only four or five miles from the last, arrive on the banks of another small river, similar in size and other respects to the former 
Monday, November 22. - Noon warm, morning and evening temperate. This morning they crossed the river, availing themselves of an immense tree that lay extended from bank to bank, and which, with a rope stretched along it as a hand-rope, formed a tolerably good bridge. The cattle are now so accustomed to the water, that they pass without either reluctance or difficulty, roped together lengthwise, so that as the hindmost is entering the water, the headmost coming out of it at the opposite side. By half-past eight they had completed the passage of the river, and had soon afterwards again started, when they advance about five miles S.W, between two ranges of hills 
Tuesday, November 23. - The bullocks and horses having strayed, they start this morning later than usual; when, in the short distance of only three miles, having had to traverse the ends of several ranges of hills, they arrive at a fine forest. The grass good, the land excellent, and thinly wooded with timber-trees of the most valuable description, chiefly the stringy-bark and the box-gum  
Wednesday, November 24.. The entire space to the eastward, up to the very mountains, consists of an open forest country, indented along its centre by the course of the creek. The grass every where is quite withered, the land parched, and the creek nearly dry; at ten they halt on its banks. They travel this morning seven miles and a quarter. At four they resume their march through a pleasant level country. The pasturage fine, some of it excellent, and in a moderately good state.  The banks, and all the neighbouring country (which is extremely beautiful), consist of the finest possible soil; scantily wooded, but with timber trees of the most valuable description.  The river comes from the eastern chain of mountains, and very probably joins the Hume, though perhaps at a considerable distance to the westward. They name this river the 'Ovens,' after the deceased Major Ovens, the late Governor, Sir Thomas Brisbane's Private Secretary.
Thursday, November 25.  Four miles and a half from the Ovens, they reach the summits of a range, whence they obtain a view of that river, coming from the east by north, and evidently deriving its waters from the Alpine chain. One of these snow-capped mountains is now in sight, bearing south-east, distant about twenty miles; there is also a singularly formed mountain in the same direction, but much nearer, which, from its shape, they name 'Mount Buffalo.' 
Wednesday, December 1. - At daylight the thermometer 41°, just previously the weather had been felt uncomfortably cold, a circumstance which they had attributed partly to their present exposed and unusually elevated situation, partly to the prevalence of a south-west wind. The weather, which of late had been threatening rain, has now become fine. Before they descend the heights, they take advantage of an eminence to obtain a view of the surrounding country. Towards the east was observed a flat forest country, apparently divided by a river; three several plains were also seen in this direction, the nearest of which seemed to be distant about four miles, the most distant about twelve; these plains appeared to be encircled with mountains, in which there was a gap or chasm, the outlet most probably of some river. From south-east to south, the country is extremely rugged and broken, and it is only in the direction north-west that it appears favourable for their future progress 
Thursday, December 2nd.  they again observe that gap in the mountains, which on Tuesday bore south-east by south, now offering them apparently a favourable passage: it had still, as when first observed, every appearance of being the outlet of some river. Hither, therefore, they directed their course, and having ascended some ranges, found the country improved as they advanced.  It was, however, mostly burnt, and therefore not seen to much advantage: near sunset they reach a spot of about two acres in extent, on which the grass had fortunately escaped the ravages of the flames, and here they remain the night, not far from a creek.
Friday, December 3. - Proceeding south-west along the course of the creek, twelve or thirteen miles, they arrive, as they had expected, on the banks of another river. The country on its sides is extremely beautiful, clothed with a luxuriant herbage, and both hill and lowland thinly wooded. This river they cross, as on a former occasion, by means of a large tree which lay extended from bank to bank. But access to the water for the cattle is somewhat difficult, the banks being at least twelve feet in height, and perpendicular. The river has appended to it the usual series of creeks and lagoons, and in some places (particularly on the north or right bank) the terminations of some high ranges come down so close to the water, that there is no practicable pass, at least for cattle. On the banks of this stream they remain the night, and prepare for passing it in the morning. Some fish are caught in the course of the evening, similar to those in the Lachlan; and they kill a kangaroo. This river has been named "the Hovell."
Saturday, December 4..  They now continue their journey in the direction south-west, through an agreeable and picturesque country; the soil good, and the grass, though withered, abundant, studded with here and there a tree, just sufficient to afford shelter for cattle 
Tuesday, December 7. - Proceed two miles and a half south-west across the ranges, and then come to a creek, which derives its waters from the mountains to the eastward; the stream strong, the bottom pebbly, and the waters evidently subject to occasional and very considerable risings.  This they name 'the King-parrot Creek,' having observed here, for the first time during their journey, the bird of that name.
Wednesday, December 8.  Messrs. Hovell and Hume now propose to themselves the following plan: to make a fresh attempt on foot to cross the range in a south-west direction, and, if successful, to return for the cattle, and persevere in pursuing that course until next Saturday se'nnight, by which time, should the country yet appear unfavourable for the further prosecution of their original design, as they will then have left flour enough only for five weeks' consumption, they purpose returning, and completing the outward journey by an examination, as far as circumstances may permit, of the course of the Hovell.
Thursday, December 9. - Agreeably to their proposed plan,, Messrs. Hovell and Hume start this morning at an early hour furnished with provisions, except animal food, for four days. Animal food they had none, not even kangaroo, for although they had seen several of these animals, it had not been possible to capture any in consequence of the loss of some of their dogs, and the wretched condition of those which remained.
Proceeding in the direction south-west, about seven o'clock they commence ascending a mountain, (part of the same range they had ascended yesterday), which from the repulse they subsequently experienced, they afterwards named 'Mount Disappointment,' at ten they arrive at the top, and crossing their track of yesterday, commence descending its western aspect; two hours they were employed in scrambling literally on their hands and knees over brush and rock, when, having advanced about two miles, they halt, at noon near a small spring; they then renew their efforts, when, to add to their difficulties, they had the misfortune to encounter that species of long grass which is known in the colony by the name of the cutting-grass; this was between four and five feet high, the blade of it an inch and a half broad, and the edges exquisitely sharp, and fine enough to inflict a severe wound. It is a similar plant to that of the same name, which is found in the Illawarra district.  Uncertain of their route, fatigued, themselves lacerated, and their clothes torn at every step, it had at length become literally impracticable to proceed, they now therefore return towards the tent, and remain the night near a small spring, after having succeeded in penetrating four miles into, this dreadful scrub, and fourteen from their station in the morning 
Friday, December 10.  At two the whole party again proceed on their journey, and following the course of the King-parrot Creek, pass along the plain of which they had taken the bearings the day before yesterday 
Saturday, December 11. - This morning they continue their progress about W.N.W.
Monday, December 13. - They travel to-day sixteen miles; the first seven miles upwards along the creek, (when meeting with a practicable ford they cross it). The remainder of the distance in the direction of south by east. The land on the bank of the creek not good, the grass scanty, and the timber indifferent. In the latter division of their journey they had to traverse several ranges, the last of which, the Jullian, so named after a friend of Mr. Hovel's, appeared to be what is termed a dividing range; the waters of which, on the north side, run to the northward, (most probably to join the Hovell). Those on its southern aspect proceed to the southward, and very probably discharge themselves into the sea 
Tuesday, December 14. - Travel twenty miles in a southerly direction - the first part of their journey through a meadow of some miles in circumference, thence up a high insulated hill, named 'Bland's Mount,' from which they obtain a view of several extensive plains, reaching from west to south-east, separated from each other by patches of forest land. To the southward the country appears level, but interspersed here and there with hills of a conical form. The soil in all this tract of country excellent 
Thursday, December 16. - This morning they cross the river or creek without difficulty, the water not taking the cattle more than chest high. Mr. Hume names this stream the 'Arndell,' after the late Dr. Arndell, the father of Mrs. Hovell.  They now proceed S.W. by S. through the plains about six miles, when they are struck with an appearance, respecting which they cannot decide, whether it is that of burning grass, or of distant water. They now, therefore, having altered their course to south, at four o'clock, have the gratification satisfactorily to determine, that the appearance which had just created so much doubt, is that of the latter object; and which, leaving the river a short distance, and directing their march from S.W. to S.S.W, they soon ascertain to be part of the sea - the so long and ardently-desired bourn of their labours 
Friday, December 17.  The natives here, in their form and features, very much resemble those about Sydney, their manners and customs appeared very similar, and they have the same kind of weapons. Their language, however, seemed totally different as to words, from that of the Sydney natives or those about Jervis' Bay, though in sound it is much the same.
They did not seem astonished at the horses or bullocks, though evidently much afraid of the latter, and even dreadfully alarmed if the bullocks, although at a considerable distance, were looking towards them.
The harbour, or bay, consists of an immense sheet of water, its greatest length extending east and west, with land which had the appearance of an island, to the southward, lying across its mouth, but which, in fact, is a peninsula, with a very low isthmus connecting it to the western shore.
The soil throughout the plains appeared good, in some places to a considerable extent, and to afford a particularly fine dry sheep pasturage