Captain Sturtís Murrumbidgee Expedition
The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser
†6 May 1830
Captain Sturt, after an absence of between four and five months, has at length completed his second expedition into the interior; and we have much happiness in being able to announce, that he has completed it in a manner the most, honourable to himself and the most important to the country.
We shall not now enter into the particulars, because a full and authentic report of the proceedings is in course of preparation, and will as early as possible be laid before the public through the medium of this journal.
The extreme point to which the expedition reached is computed at about a thousand miles from the depot on the Murrumbidgee, which, it may be remembered, was in latitude 34. 15 S. and longitude 143. 57 E.
In our last report we left the party preparing to prosecute their journey by water, having built a boat, or skiff, upon the spot for that purpose.
They embarked on the 7th of January, and on the second day met with the singular misfortune of the upsetting of their boat; all their provisions were precipitated to the bottom, but, with an undaunted resolution which they maintained throughout the whole of their arduous undertaking, they recovered the greater part by means of diving, some of the articles, such as tea and sugar, being however utterly spoiled.
This untoward accident, which, but for the most skilful management, might have been attended with consequences fatal to the whole party, rendered it necessary to go upon a reduced ration, and entailed upon them much privation and suffering through the remainder of their journey.
Having persevered in following the course of the Murrumbidjee, which passed through a most luxuriant country, and, from the rapidity of its current, exposed them to great peril, on the 14th it emptied itself into a noble river, which Captain Sturt named The Murray, after the Right Honourable Secretary for the Colonies.
On the 22nd the Murray was joined by another river, of equal magnitude with itself, flowing from the eastward, and supposed by Captain S. to be the Darling of his former expedition.
Their combined waters flowed through an ample channel, generally a hundred yards in width, and twelve feet in depth, but at some points four hundred yards wide, and twenty feet deep.
The banks are covered with verdure, and clothed with a fine description of timber, formed into the most picturesque clumps, and richly embellished with the beautiful cypress-tree.
On the 2d of February they passed under cliffs of volcanic origin, and immediately, afterwards entered a limestone country of singular character.
This fine river was at length found to empty itself into an immense lake, or estuary, sixty miles in length, which they anxiously explored until the 9th, when they were so obstructed by shoals that they landed, and proceeded on the margin of the lake in a south-easterly direction, till they reached its entrance from the sea.
Here Captain Sturt ascertained that they had struck upon the coast at Encounter Bay, south of Gulph St. Vincent, in latitude 35 į. 25'. and long, 139į. 40'., having a distinct view of Kangaroo Island, Cape Jervis, and Mount Lofty, of which he took the bearings.
At all periods of the tide there is a passage from the lake into the sea.
It was not possible, under the circumstances of exhaustion and short allowance to which the adventurous party were then reduced, to institute anything like an adequate survey; so that it is possible there may be other and more advantageous connexions between the sea and the lake than the one discovered.
It has somehow got abroad that this entrance is rendered useless to navigation by a formidable bar; but we have the pleasure of stating that no such obstruction was seen by Captain Sturt.
One circumstance plainly indicates the richness and fertility of the country: they encountered, within a very few days, a greater number of natives than has been seen in the same space in any part of the Colony, amounting, as nearly as could be calculated, to about four thousand.
The conduct of Captain Sturts' men, ten in number, is spoken of by Mr. George M'Leay, who has returned in perfect health, in the highest terms of praise: their prompt obedience of orders, their patience under privation and fatigue, and the alacrity with which they entered into the spirit of the undertaking, greatly contributed to the success of the enterprise.
No time will be lost in taking such further measures as shall complete those interesting and truly important discoveries, and it is probable that the same intrepid individuals will be again employed.
We need not point out the advantages which the Colony will derive, should the hopes created be realized; and even the facts already established, that there is a vast extent of rich country to the south-west, and that it is intersected by three considerable rivers connected with the sea, are themselves of incalculable importance, and have opened to Eastern Australia an extensive and brilliant prospect.
Captain Sturt has inscribed his name in indelible characters upon the records of our history, and will occupy a respectable rank among those heroic men to whom tho world is indebted for its geographical knowledge The qualifications he has exhibited, in these expeditions into regions never before seen by civilized man, are of the highest order, and will bear comparison with those of Bruce, Park, and Burckhalt; and we trust his life and energies will be spared to render yet greater services in laying open the mysteries of this vast terra incognita.