Hume and Hovell

The Sydney Morning Herald

7 June 1924


Your contributor in the issue of the 5th inst. has a good many points to readjust in the history of Hume and Hovell.

Ab. initio: When Governor Brisbane declined to bear the cost of a journey from Lake George to Western Port, Hume entered into arrangement with Wm. Hilton Hovell to undertake the journey at their joint expense (evidently a partnership). There was no leader.

As to the naming of the River Hume, Hovell In his field hook writes: "This I named the Hume River, he being the first that saw it." Also from Hovell's diary, November 24, 1824: "I have named the Ovens in compliment to Major Ovens. I have no doubt that the Hume and this join, which will be the leading, river time must show. My friend Hume has just ventured an opinion that he is sure all those rovers empty themselves into the sea, but he does not say whether an inland sea or the ocean. My opinion is that they empty themselves first into an immense lake, and then the waters from the lake are carried off into the ocean of N.E. or S.W. coasts."

December 3: "River Goulburn named in compliment to Major Goulburn."

December 16: "This river Mr. Hume called the Arndell, in compliment to the late Dr. Arndell, the father of Mrs. Hovell, and my son, Arndell Hovell. Mr. Hume and myself marked an H on a tree, the only one sufficiently large for that purpose. It was my wish also that of Mr. Hume to have taken our horses to-morrow, the time the cattle rest, and have gone across to Port Phillip. But after what had passed we did not consider it safe either to go or leave the cattle behind, and from the different signals which were being made around us we thought it better to abandon that plan, and to face home to-morrow after breakfast. The name of the bay where the vessel lay is Geelong." (Referring to a statement by the backs.)

As to the contention that Hume knew they were at Port Phillip, while Hovell did not. On a date after their return to Sydney Mr. Hovell wrote: "The fact is that both Mr. Hume and myself believed we had reached Western Port, and I never heard a word about our having touched upon any portion or branch of Port Phillip until sometime after our return to Sydney, when I, and, of course, Mr. Hume, found that Station Peak, of Flinders, to be identical with William Manatar of our route." Villamanata of to-day.

Sometime after their return to Sydney, in reply to doubts as to where they had reached to, Mr, Hume wrote to the Sydney "Gazette," offering if the Governor would furnish him with 500, he would lead a party to Western Port.

As to the precedence of either as leaders, that never cropped up during the trip. Dr. Bland acquired the notes of both, and, writing the Journey of Discovery, put Hovell's name first. But Hume made no protest on that account. In 1835 Bland said he did it because he got more assistance from Hovell's journal than from Hume.

At a subsequent period it was suggested by Major Mitchell that as there was already a Goulburn River the one so named should be named Hovell, but the latter took no interest in the matter, and it never came into use. Some of the assigned servants of the leaders evidently came back with yarns as to the merits of their respective employers. In neither of the lenders' notes is there the slightest reference to any material disagreement. The feud did not arise till 1853 when both were invited to a celebration at Geelong. Hume did not go: Hovell did, and owing to some garbled report of what he said at a banquet Hume issued a pamphlet, which led to an embittered controversy. It has since been established that in his speech Hovell gave full credit to Hume for his share in the expedition.

I am, etc, Alex Wilson. June 6.