Appin, Centenary of Historic Journey

The Sydney Morning Herald

1 October 1924

Appin Centenary. Noted Explorers Historic Journey.

An excursion of historic interest will he made on Saturday, under the auspices of the Royal Australian Historical Society, to the site of Hamilton Hume's home at Appin, the place from which Hume and Hovell started on their expedition to Port Phillip on October 2, 1824.

The tablet provided by the society to commemorate the explorers' achievement will be unveiled at 3 p.m. by the Minister for Justice (Mr. Ley), who will represent the Government.

Motor, cars will leave Challis House. Martin place, at 9.45 a.m. on Saturday for Appin, and members of the society who desire accommodation are asked to notify Mr. Welch not later than to-day. Those travelling by rail should leave Sydney station at 9.-15 a.m. for Campbelltown, and proceed thence to Appin, a distance of seven miles. Excursionists are reminded that they must provide their own refreshments.

Centenary celebrations, marking various epochs in the explorers' journey, will also be held on October 17 at Gunning, where, it is stated, they took their departure from known territory; at Tumut on November 2, at Albury also in November, and other centres In Victoria as well as In New South Wales.

An extract from the Journey of discovery to Port Phillip, by W. H. Hovell and H. Hume, under date, Saturday, October 2, 1824, is interesting'. It states - "Messrs. Hovell and Hume, having met, as it lay on their route, at Mr. Hume's, commenced their Journey from Appin, in the county of Cumberland, accompanied by six men. . . At seven they stopped for the night opposite to a point of land called Bird's-eye Corner, in the Cowpasture, or Nepean River."

The expedition of Hume and Hovell to Port Phillip is referred to in Mr. C. R. Cramp's "Great Australian Explorers." "They started from Appin," he states, "on October 2, 1824. On October' 17 (of the same year) Hume and Hovell continued on their Journey from Lake George, and in two days came to the Murrumbidgee, which had been discovered in the previous year. . . . Further south they passed the Tumut River, and on November 8 they obtained from the top of a range of hills a most beautiful view of the Australian Alps in the distance, with the snow-capped peaks glistening in the sun.

To avoid the mountainous country that threatened to impede their progress, they deviated somewhat to the south-west, and within n few days came to a beautiful stream not less than 80 yards across, which, it has been said, was named by Hume after his father.

But in Hovell's day-book appears the record, under date November 10: 'This I name Hume's River, he being the first that saw It.' . . . "After travelling along the banks, first down and then up stream, the explorers crossed the river about ten miles above the site of the town at Albury (November 20).

The actual crossing place will be covered by a vast depth of water when the construction of the Hume Weir is completed. The Ovens and Goulburn were then in turn crossed. . . . On December 16 they came to the western shores of a large sheet of water, and gave it the locality the name by which the natives knew it, Jillong, or Geelong.

But one mistake the explorers made. They were under the impression that they were gazing on the waters of the Western Port; in reality, they were standing on the shores of Port Phillip.

Years afterwards it was claimed that Hume had Hovell had disagreed on the question; that, whereas Hovell thought they had come to Western Port, Hume was quite certain that the expanse before them was none other than Port Phillip. . . , The quarrel between them developed many years after the actual discovery.

Having reached, as they thought, their destination, the party commenced its return Journey. Thanks to Hume's bushcraft, they were able to take many short cuts. Within a month Lake George was reached (January l8, 1825)

"It was unfortunate," the writer adds, "that it was not generally realised, at the time that the two explorers had got, to the west, not to the east, of Port Phillip, as the expedition which was sent out In 1826 by Governor Darling to settle at Western Port before the French could forestall us found the land very inferior to what Hume and Hovell's report had led them to expect.

The settlement was soon withdrawn, and no further attempt to establish a community there was made till two enterprising men, John Batman and Pascoe Fawkner, made separate and independent attempts In 1835, which resulted in the permanent settlement of Port Phillip, or Melbourne, as it was later called by Governor Bourke, after "the Prime Minister of England."