Stock Overland from River Hume to South Australia

Importation of Stock Overland from New South Wales

South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register

28 April 1838

His Excellency the Governor has directed the following letter addressed to him by Mr. Hawdon, to be made public for general information:- Adelaide, April 5, 1838.


In accordance with your Excellency's wish, I take the earliest opportunity to lay before your Excellency an account of my journey across the interior of the country from New South Wales to this colony.

In proving the practicability of bringing stock from the sister colony by land, I have been singularly fortunate, having brought with me more than three hundred horned cattle in excellent condition, losing only four animals by the journey.

The cattle were driven from their station on the River Hume to the Port Phillip mail establishment on the Goulburn River, at which place they were met by the drays conveying supplies for the journey, from Port Phillip, on the 23rd of January.

My intended route was to follow the course of this river to the point where Major Mitchell left it on his last expedition, and from thence to cross over to the River Yarrane, hoping that its course would take us to the westward, and thus avoid both the risk likely to be incurred by watering cattle at so large a river as the Murray, and also the danger of passing through the hostile tribes of natives said to inhabit its banks.

Following the course of the Goulburn in a north direction, we discovered that it joined the Hume three days' journey before we fell on Major Mitchell's track going to the south; its supposed junction at Swan Hill, as afterwards ascertained, being merely a branch of the Hume running out and again joining the main channel.

On arriving at the Yarrane, we were disappointed by finding its channel dry, and only a small quantity of water remaining in the holes where Major Mitchell constructed the bridge.

The flat country to the westward affording no prospect of obtaining water, we were under the necessity of following down the channel of the Yarrane, which took us almost in a northerly direction back to the Hume.

Passing its junction with the Murrumbidgee, we followed on the south bank of the Murray to within three miles of the junction of the River Darling, when we crossed over, fording both rivers without difficulty.

At the junction of the Darling, we found a bottle buried by Major Mitchell on the 30th of June, 1836.

On the third day after leaving the Darling, we were following a flooded branch of the Murray, which we found joining the River Rufus within a mile of a beautiful lake about forty miles in circumference, out of which the Rufus takes its rise.

The large body of water which flows down this river appears to be supplied entirely by springs rising in the lake, the bed of which is white clay, and discolours the water.

We named this Lake Victoria, in honor of her present Majesty.

We afterwards passed another lake about twenty miles in circumference, the water of which was impregnated with nitre, a large quantity of which was lying on the edge of the lake.

I named this Lake Bonney, after my friend Mr. Charles Bonney, who has accompanied me and shared the difficulties of this undertaking.

Leaving the river about the latitude of Adelaide, we were compelled by the ranges to go more to the south, and thus passed near to Mount Barker.

In that district, we passed over a beautiful and extensive tract of grazing country, especially that lying between Mount Barker and Lake Alexandrina, which equals in richness of soil and pasturage any that I have seen in New Holland.

The valley through which the Murray flows from the junction of the Murrumbidgee varies from one to upwards of five miles in breadth, and is in many places well adapted for the cultivation of grain; but the country on either side of the valley consists of red sand generally covered with bush.

In passing through the tribes of natives, we were extremely fortunate in keeping up a friendly intercourse with them by means of ambassadors sent from one tribe, to another.

The tribes are very numerous, and we have frequently counted as many as two hundred in one tribe.

On one occasion, when near the Darling, we passed three tribes in one day.

My party consisted of nine men; but I should consider this too small a number to travel with safety to the stock over the same country again.

I have the honor to be, Sir, Your Excellency's obedient humble servant, Joseph Hawdon.

His Excellency the Governor.