Imaginary Settlement

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser

3 July 1803

The dismal consequences that have invariably resulted from the rash project of crossing the Mountains, have proved upon the most fatal evidence, the impossibility of its accomplishment, and the certain wretchedness and destruction of those who ignorantly presume on the attempt. From the numbers that have at different times fallen victims to the dangerous desire or emigrating, and who have absconded from the several settlements under an illusory persuasion that an Establishment exists on the other side of these immeasurable heights, it becomes the duty of every well- wisher to his fellow-creature, by reasonable argument to point out the impracticability of performing such a journey, and the egregious absurdity of fostering the idea of an imaginary Settlement.

It has been reported, by persons who were careless whether they asserted facts or falsehoods, that the natives of the interior have made mention of a set of people whose manners and customs strongly resembled our own; and others, willing to give a still more improbable colour to the imposture, asserted in addition that these distant inhabitants were possessed of bells, churches, malted vessels, a sterling specie, and every other requisite that might seem calculated to convey the idea of civilization.

The natives, upon whose verbal testimony this suggestion is pretended to have been founded, have too frequently convinced us of their ingenuity in dissimulation, to obtain, the most distant shadow of belief where a doubt possibly could support; and we are also well aware of their readiness to acquiesce in everything, however absurd, that may obtain to them encouragement or administer to their immediate wants.

That such chimera may have so originated we cannot altogether question; but nevertheless venture to affirm, that were two or more of these reports compared, the delusive supposition must vanish into nothingness, and this establishment prove indebted for its existence to the fertility of a romantic brain.

To suppose that a body of civilized people should assemble on a coast, by shipwreck or other possible cause, and although possessed of the means yet entertained no desire to communicate with or return to their native country, would be as unreasonable as to imagine them set down in secret, and never after, become a subject of enquiry, as no transition has ever hinted at a circumstance that could possibly have given birth to a so truly unreasonable, preposterous conjecture.

Were it therefore possible that an individual could make good this journey, and safely pass the numerous and large lagoons by which these Mountain, are intersected, so other reward awaits his fatal curiosity than death under accumulated miseries.

Missions, well directed and equipped, have indefatigably endeavoured to explore them, not in pursuit of a chimerical establishment, but upon useful discovery; and they, altho' provided with every necessary for the long and labourous travel, have been successively compelled to abandon the design, after all absence of many weeks.

What then must be the portion of the rash and inexperienced few, who inconscious of the difficulties they are unprepared to encounter, yet dare to venture on the project? sorry we are to say the consequences have already been too manifest.--- three out of four have lately fallen victim to their rashness, and too late repentent of the credulity to which they were about to come the most wretched victims.