Report from Captain Sturt

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser

2 May 1829

Government Order. Colonial Secretary's Office, (No. 22.) May 1, 1829.

His Excellency the Governor is pleased to direct the publication of the following report from Captain Sturt, 39th Regiment, dated Wellington Valley, the 16th instant.

It appears that subsequent to Captain Sturt’s & former report, dated the 4th of March last, the expedition had been employed in tracing the course of the river Castlereagh, which was found to join the river discovered on the 21 of February, about 100 miles to the northward of Mount Harris, and in ascertaining the nature of the country in that quarter.

The expedition having thus accomplished the objects for which it was employed, by (text unreadable) the Termination of the rivers Macquarie and Castlereagh, and the nature and character of the surrounding country; and having also discovered a river of some magnitude, which, it is probable, when its course shall have been more fully determined, will be found to be of importance to the colony; the Governor, although he regrets that the country which has been explored does not hold out a prospect of the advantageous expansion of the Colony in that direction, considers it satisfactory that the character of the country has been ascertained, by which means a question which has excited so much interest has been at rest.

'His Excellency the Governor having laid before the Executive Council Captain Sturt's several reports, has much satisfaction in thus publicly expressing the Sense which His Excellency entertains of the judicious manner in which he appears to have conducted the expedition, and the zeal and perseverance with which, under Circumstances of no ordinary Difficulty, he effected, in the most satisfactory manner, the object of his instructions.

His Excellency cannot close these remarks without thanking Mr. Hamilton Hume for the important assistance he rendered in the accomplishment of the expedition. Captain Sturt has throughout spoken of Mr. Hume's disposition and services in terms of the warmest commendation; and it is highly satisfactory to His Excellency, as it must be to Mr. Hume and his friends, that he has contributed, as he has on this and other occasions, to a more extensive knowedge of his Native Country. By His Excellency's Command, Alexander M'Leay.

Wellington Valley, 16th April, 1829.


I do myself the honor to report to you, for the information of His Excellency the Governor, that I returned this day to Wellington Valley, with the whole of the party composing the expedition under my command.

I am to add that, having made the Castlereagh three days after our departure from Mount Harris, we traced that stream to its junction with the Darling, about one hundred miles to the northward of the mount. It was, however, with extreme difficulty, that we proceeded so far, in consequence of the dry state of the low lands.

The Castlereagh was without water for a distance of thirty miles at a stretch, and we were obliged to search the country round for a supply.

The creeks falling into the river from the north- ward and east ward, were dry and deserted by the native tribes, as far as we traced them up; and the country in those directions was an unbroken level of alluvial soil, and stunted timber.

On making the Darling, we found the waters to be saltier than below, in consequence of which I crossed it, together with Mr. Hume, and proceeded on a north west course to a considerable distance beyond it, in hopes that a change of country would have presented itself, or that we should have found water to enable us to strike into the heart of the interior; but the ground over which we travelled, was perfectly level, and the surface of it unbroken.

From the highest tree, a man I sent up reported that we were on a boundless flat, and I was ultimately obliged to return unsuccessful to the camp.

We fell in with numerous tribes of natives, but could not learn from them that any waters existed either north west of the Darling, or to the north east.

The nauseous beverage we had been obliged to drink was fast diminishing, and it was impractical for us, in turning homewards, to retrace our steps up the Castlereagh.

I therefore determined in running up a central creek, which appeared to lie directly below the marshes of the Macquarie, as both Mr. Hume and myself were anxious to determine from whence it originated.

We found, in tracing it, that it served to carry off the superfluous waters of that river in high floods, and was formed by the union of many channels from the reeds.

The country is subject to inundation, for some miles on each side the creek, and is composed of the richest alluvial soil.

It will therefore appear, on the face of the chart and journal I shall have the honor of submitting for His Excellency's information and perusal, that the superfluous waters of the Macquarie fall into a creek (Morisset's ponds of Mr. Oxley), striking it nearly alright angles above where the latter falls into the Castlereagh, which river forms a junction with the Darling, about 12 miles below to the west north west, at which it was perfectly dry.

"I am to observe, that the Macquarie Creek is so small as scarcely to deserve the name of one, and cannot therefore be said to have any title to that of the river.

 It, in fact, drains off the waters with so little force, as to make no impression on the creek it enters; nor does the Castlereagh, at its junction, make any visible impression on the Darling - detailed remarks of which I have made.

We passed among the natives on the best of terms, and were frequently indebted to them for kindly acts.

The cause of our return is solely to be attributed to the want of water, nor can I, in the limits of a letter, describe to you the melancholy state of the interior; indeed it would now be utterly impossible to make the Darling again, either on our former route or on our late one.

Lagoons have dried up in our path, and we have exhausted pools, almost ere we could find another to enable us to move forward.

The Macquarie, below the cataract, is all but dry, and has ceased to flow high above it.

"I beg to inform you that I have continued to receive every assistance from Mr. Hume that I could desire, and that his attention has been unabated during the whole journey.

The men, comprising my party, have also behaved remarkably well; is a consequence of which, the cattle and horses are but little altered in condition, and are, with the exception of one horse, perfectly sound and fit for work.

I have the honor to be,

Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

Charles Sturt, Capt. 39th Regt.”