A Lost Record

The Argus, Melbourne

19 March 1921


The article by me under the above heading published in "The Argus" of Saturday February 26 has brought letters from every State in the Commonwealth all containing useful information and suggestions.

 It is gratifying to learn in this way that a matter affecting the Hume mid Hovell expedition of 1824 can awaken as much interest as affairs of the moment are wont to do.

No copy of the missing "Geelong Advertiser" has come to light, but a gentleman in Hobart was prompted to make a search in the Tasmanian news papers into which it was customary to copy items of interest from the Australian journals and he found the full report of Hovell's speech at Geelong in the "Hobarton Guardian or True Friend of Tasmania" of February4, 1854.

The report, which must have been copied from the "Geelong Advertiser," makes it quite clear that Hume's charge against Hovell of arrogating to himself the credit for the expedition was not justified.

The following passages from the speech are the essential parts of it.

Hovell said "About this time 29 years back my brother traveller Mr. Hamilton Hume and myself were talking over what had passed during the journey, the present prospects, and the future.

The spot on which that conversation took place was at or near the point opposite the Bird Rock.

Thirst kept us awake and we listened to the sounds of thousand of waterfowls which were then sporting on the waters of the bay before us.

In the morning while nine-tenths of mankind slept, we were on our feet, watching for the light to show us the beauties which were then breaking in upon our view.

When day did come what was our delight to find with what success our outward journey had terminated.

The 11 weeks of toil and uncertainty was compensated by the result and we considered ourselves the two most fortunate travellers on record.

We therefore simultaneously embraced each other, and with extended arms returned thank s to God for the shield of protection which He had thrown over us.

We then went in search for water and after an hour's walk in nearly an N.N.W. direction we met with it at Kennedy's Creek, now called Limeburners Creek.

Here we remained one day. The shortness of provisions and the mustering of the natives warned us that a longer delay would not be prudent but the day we spent here was one of the happiest in our lives, for we had done that which a published record had proclaimed to be impossible....

Fancy that this land should be that which had been denounced as uninhabitable and unfit for the purposes of civilised man; and this the land which is now the richest in the world.

See gentlemen, how cautious a traveller ought to be before he ventures to describe or guess at what he has but little or no opportunity of knowing"

This extract which illustrates the tone of the whole speech, makes it clear that Hovell's later statement was true that he gave full credit to Hume for his part in the expedition.

The blame which has been attached to Hovell by Rusden and other writers was therefore not deserved.

Yours &c., Ernest Scott. The University, March l8.