The Proposed Expedition of Discovery
26 February 1835
It would scarcely be credited, were the fact not sufficiently notorious, that in the nineteenth century - a period in the world's history so eminently distinguished above all others for the eager and unremitting pursuit of knowledge of every description, and for the march of improvement - the British Government should still be allowing this vast continent, of which it has obtained quiet and peaceable possession on behalf of the people of Great Britain and Ireland, to remain a mere terra incognita, with the physical constitution of which we are still almost entirely unacquainted.
We cannot impute the circumstance in question to the general apathy and indifference of the British Government with regard to the progress of geographical discovery; for the numerous and costly expeditions that have already been fitted out by the British Government to ascertain the limits and the character of the regions that lie buried beneath the thick - ribbed ice of the North Pole, are evidence of an opposite feeling on the part of that Government not less pleasing than intelligible.
How comes it then that, so great an expenditure should have been incurred by the British Government, merely to enable the hydrogapher of the Admiralty to complete his map of the bleak and inhospitable regions of the north, and to construct charts of gulphs and inlets which in all likelihood will never again be visited by man, while a vast continent, which it is believed will one day afford an advantageous outlet for myriads of the overflowing population, and an equally advantageous field for the capital and the commerce, of Britain, is allowed to remain comparatively unvisited, unexplored ?
Why, it cannot be denied that there has been a great deal of apathy manifested by the British Government in regard to the Australian Colonies in general: and this feeling has doubtless arisen, in some measure, from their penal character; for a jail is generally the last place most people ever care about visiting or knowing anything about.
At the same time, it must be recollected that the: prosecution of geographical discovery in the interior of this continent, has hitherto, or at least till the present system of disposing of waste land came into general operation; been one of those objects that are left in great measure, if not entirely, to the zeal and energies of the local administration.
And consequently, if that object has received comparatively little attention from former colonial administrations, the circumstance is attributable solely to the want of zeal and energy of the part of certain of' our late Governors, to a narrow-mindedness and a spirit of indifference in regard to the best interests of the colony, as well as to the I general advancement of Science, which we hope and trust we shall never see exhibited by the heads of this colony again.
On this subject we are glad to avail ourselves of the following remarks, extracted from Dr. Lang's Historical and Statistical Account of New South Wales, vol. I., chap vii., page 240:-
To those who feel interested in the progress of geographical discovery, it will scarcely fail to appear surprising, that so little comparatively should hitherto have been effected, in the way of extending our acquaintance with the physical conformation of the Australian continint; considering the interest which the subject uniformly excites among men of general intelligence throughout the civilized world, and the superior facilities which the Governors of New South Wales have undoubtedly possessed, till within the last two years, of acquiring no small degree of celebrity in n way so entirely unexceptionable.
It was once suggested by an intelligent writer in The Quarterly Review, that the Governors of New South Wales and of Western Australia should hold forth premiums to those adventurous individuals who should successively reach certain meridians, in travelling across the continent on certain parallels of latitude.
Had this very judicious suggestion been acted on by the last two Governors of New .South Wales - possessed as they were of an almost unlimited power of granting land - they might have greatly extended our general knowledge of the continent of Australia at no expense whatever to the Government; for respectable, intelligent, and enterprising individuals were always ready to have pushed forward at their own charges into the great wilderness of Australia, in any direction that the Governor might have thought proper to point out to them, had they been only assured of receiving, as the well-merited reward of their successful exertions, on their return to the colony, a few thousand acres of the waste land, which both of the Governors I allude to were in the habit of alienating daily from the Crown in extensive tracts, and for no services whatever.
Nay, the very persons who were the best fitted for engaging in such perilous enterprises were positively discouraged by the apathy of the colonial executive.
During the government of Sir Thomas Brisbane, Allan Cunningham, Esq., King's Botanist - a gentleman who was not only well qualified for such arduous undertakings, but who evinced an ardour in the prosecution of geographical discovery, which no discouragements could repress, and no difficulties overpower - instead of meeting with those facilities which ought to have been afforded him with the utmost readiness by the colonial government, had the utmost difficulty in getting himself fitted out for the long and interesting journeys he undertook in the unknown interior.
And, it has also fallen within my own knowledge, that offers which were actually made to one of the late colonial administrations by certain intelligent and respectable settlers in the colony, to. explore the interior in a particular direction entirely at their own charges, provided they should be rewarded with a comparatively small extent of waste land in the event of the successful accomplishment of their object, were silently rejected.
In short, it seems, as if the former Governors of' New South Wales imagined there was an El Dorado in the interior of Australia, which it was not expedient top permit the colonists to approach.
How refreshing it is to turn from a scene where the very mention of the name of science cannot fail to excite a feeling of indignation in, the breast of each and every of its friends, at the, apathy of individuals who have come to our territory with the character of scientific men, to a neighbouring colony, in which, although far less favourably situated for the prosecution of geographical discovery than our own, a very different spirit has been evinced, and in which the Government and the people march hand in hand towards the attainment of an object which is so well worthy of the utmost efforts of both.
At the Cape Good Hope there has existed for some time past an Institution designated The South African Literary and Scientific Institution, and established for the advancement of literature and science in that colony; and the following extract, of a pamphlet entitled Abstract of Proceedings drawn up for publication by direction of the Managing Committee, of the Cape, of Good Hope Association for Exploring Central Africa, and printed at Cape Town in 1833, will exhibit the value and importance of such an Institution, together with proper objects and one of the gratifying results of its establishment:-
At a meeting of the South African Literary and Scientific Institution, held on the 1st of June, a letter from the Acting Secretary to Government, inclosing, by order of His Excellency the Governor, Sir G. L. Cole, a communication, received from Graaff-Reinet, was read.
This enclosure detailed the progress of a Trading Party, under the direction. of Messrs. Hume and Millan, which had penetrated into Central Africa, in a northern direction from Lettakoo; and it was supposed, from an observation of' the shadow cast by the sun, made by them on the 24th of December, that they had reached the Tropic of Capricorn.
From the favourable description given of the country and its productions, the communication of this document excited great interest, and it was suggested that an attempt should be made to send out a Scientific Expedition to explore the country traversed by these individuals, and the neighbouring regions, with the object of elucidating their geography, the nature of their productions, and the advantages they might offer to commercial enterprise.
This suggestion was unanimously approved, but, in consequence of the inadequacy of the pecuniary means of the Institution available for, such an undertaking, it was determined to appeal to the public, with a, view to, raise the requisite funds by subscriptions of shares entitling the subscribers to a participation in the collection which might be acquired such an expedition.
It was also proposed that the expedition, should be committed to the care of Dr. Andrew, Smith, of the Army Medical Staff, and a Provisional Committee was appointed to ascertain the probability of carrying the plan into effect. In consequence of these proceedings, the gentlemen forming the above-mentioned Committee reported, at a public meeting convened by advertisement, held in the great Museum Room, of the South African Literary and Scientific Institution, on :the 24th of June, 1833, His Excellency the Governor, Sir G. L. Cole, G.C.B., presiding, that 179 shares had already been taken, of 3l. each, when a Committee of management, consisting of twenty persons, were elected by ballot, which body appointed out of their own number a Treasurer and two Secretaries, and subsequently a Sub-Committee of five persons, to conduct the details of the projected enterprise to this Sub Committee was entrusted the duty of communicating with Dr. Smith on the several points of the proposed expedition from the colony, and they laid the result of their labours before the General Committee, at a meeting held on the 9th July, 1833, in the Form of a Report, of which the following are the most important extracts:-
Your Committee have, in the first place, to report, that they have made the offer of the direction of the expedition to Dr. Smith, of which it was the general wish he should assume the management, and received his formal acceptance of that trust (subject to his procuring leave of, absence), a circumstance which, although they had every reason to expect it, is, they consider, a matter of congratulation, inasmuch as few persons; if any other in the colony except himself, could have been selected so well qualified, for the undertaking by scientific acquirement, zeal, courage, activity, and experience as a traveller; and at the same time in order to ensure the success and safety of the expedition, they have arranged that Lieut. Edie, of the 98th Regiment, who will accompany Dr. Smith, shall assume the command in case of the sickness, or any other accident, occurring to that gentleman.
The points, to which your Committee's communication with Dr. Smith has principally been directed, are as follow:
The objects and destination of the expedition; the period most proper for its departure, and the prosecution of the journey; and the nature of its appointments and equipment.
To enlarge our geographical knowledge of the extensive and unknown regions to the northward of this settlement; to obtain scientific information especially as regards the branches of meteorology geology, and magnetism; to collect botanical specimens and those of natural history; and to ascertain what prospects the productions of the country and the disposition of the native tribes hold out to commercial enterprise, - are the chief aims of the intended experiment.
Its route will of course be materially affected by the opportunities offered to the party beyond the hitherto known limits, for the acquirement of these various objects of research.
In respect to the period of departure, it appears to your Committee that there are two important circumstances to be considered, by duly weighing which the Association should be governed.
The first is that of the selection of a proper season,and the second that of the adequate funds for the proper fulfilment of the views of the subscribers. With regard to season, the period immediately following the cessation of the tropical rains to that of their recommencement, with at the same time the advantage of long days and short nights, is the one that evidently points itself out not only as the best, but that only in which the party can attempt to proceed with any probability of success; for at this time alone specimens of botany and natural history can be abundant - the health of the party remain uninjured - food for the cattle upon whose strength and existence not only the progress of the expedition but the still more important chance of its return depends, will be plentiful - the detention of the caravan by flooded streams less likely to occur, - and the length of the nocturnal watch, a precaution, of the first importance, and which is a duty extremely irksome, unsafe and unhealthy, diminished to the smallest extent.
With a view to these points it is therefore proposed that the town of Graaff-Reinet shall be considered the starting station of the expedition, at which place, from the information received by your Committee, it appears it would be most convenient to procure the wagons, oxen, and attendants or servants to the caravan.
That Graaff-Reinet should be left at the commencement of the month of June; that Lettakoo or some farther missionary establishment should be reached by the middle of July, where the party should halt until the beginning of September, for the purpose of resting the cattle, the completion of final arrangements, and the obtaining of useful information.
As regards the appointments and equipment of the expedition, your Sub-Committee have to report that they have formed a plan of these details upon the lowest possible scale, and at the same time, sufficient, as they estimate, to ensure the safety and to command, under Providence, the success of the projected adventure.
The following is the statement they have drawn up:-
The number of the party, it is proposed, shall , not be less than forty, and as few above that number as possible.
Of these six shall be Europeans, to be engaged. as working assistants, and if possible they shall be soldiers, application to be made for that purpose to the Government.
That thirty Hottentots be engaged, and that, six of these be procured from the Cape Corps, for which application shall also be made to the Government.
That a Botanist, a Surveyor, a Draftsman, capable of delineating landscape and pourtraying, objects of natural history, and, a person, able to conduct the trading department of the expedition, shall be engaged to accompany it.
That the caravan shall consist of seven wagons, to each of which five persons shall be attached out of the before enumerated party, viz; one European and four Hottentots ; and that ten span of oxen of twelve each, shall be purchased. That the expedition be furnished with the following instruments and stores, viz.: I. For the purpose of' scientific inquiry - instruments and appurtenances; three pocket chronometers, one repeating circle, one mercurial horizon, two sextants, magnetical instruments, nautical almanacs.
The Requisite Tables, one, azimuth compass, one trochiameter, two thermometers, two mountain barometers, two hygrometers, one sympiesometer (Jones'), three self registering thermometers, two pocket compasses, two telescopes (spy glasses), one small telescope, two maps of Africa, a sufficient quantity of stationary for manuscript, herbarium, &c. II.
For subsistence and health, - sundry articles of food and medicine. III.
For defence and supply of animal food, - arms and ammunition. IV. For repairs, &c, - tools, &c V.
For trade and presents,-specimens of British manufactures, beads, trinkets, &c. Now, had anything, like a similar spirit existed on, the part of the Government and the leading men of this colony during the late administrations, when the Governor had an almost unlimited power to reward the services of meritorious individuals, and had means at his command for the prosecution of discovery in the interior seldom possessed by any other public functionary in the empire, the map of this vast continent would not have exhibited at this late hour; of the day so disgraceful a blank as it still in great measure presents.
When we think of the splendid achievements of the Spaniards, in America - not, we must inform our readers, in the field of conquest, but in that of geographical discovery within fifty years of the discover of that continent by Columbus; the expedition of Nugnez De Balboa across the pestilential swamps of the Isthmus of Darien to the summit of the lofty mountains that separate the Atlantic from the Pacific, and the expedition of Oreliana across the Southern continent from Peru, a land-journey of not less than four thousand miles, we may well be ashamed, both for the Government of this colony and for the parent Government, that with all the increased knowledge and increased appliances of the nineteenth century we have only got acquainted with a mere speck of this great continent after having held it for Great Britain - the first of nations both for intelligence and for enterprise - for nearly fifty years. But there were giants in the field of enterprise, whether in the church, the state, or the army, in the days of Nugnez and Orellana; and notwithstanding our own fancied and boasted superiority we are evidently race of dwarfish and degenerated men.
We understand, however, that an expedition of discovery is to proceed shortly to the interior of our continent, under the direction of our talented Surveyor-General, Major Mitchell.
To enable him to ascertain the object of that expedition with any degree of precision, it is necessary to afford the reader a view of what has already been accomplished in this particular department of scientific labour; and for this purpose: we shall again, avail ourselves of an exact from Dr. Lang's sketch of the progress of geographical discovery in the interior of this continent; contained in the seventh chapter of the first volume of his Historical and Statistical Account of New South Wales, page 248:-
The disappearance of the river Macquarie in an extensive marsh in the western interior - a point which had been ascertained by Mr. Oxley during the government of Major-General, Macquarie, - had given rise to many and contradictory conjectures, in regard to the general conformation of the Australian continent among men of science in the European world. Mr. Oxley's opinion was, that the, ocean of reeds in which he had suddenly lost all traces of the river, was part of a - vast inland sea which occupied the interior of the continent, and from which there was no outlet to the coast; and as the river Lachlan, which also pursues a westerly course considerably to the southward of the river Macquarie, was also ascertained by the same officer to lose itself in a similar way, this opinion was regarded as extremely probable, and the vast terra incognita of Australia was, of consequence supposed to resemble a Scotch, peasant's bonet turned upside down or a shallow basin made for holding water. During the long drought that afflicted the colony in the course of General Darling's administration, it occurred to His Excellency, that a favourable opportunity was at length afforded for examining the interior marshes discovered by Mr. Oxley, and for ascertaining the actual fate of the river which had been so strangely reported by that gentleman to have committed an act of felo de se in the wilderness of Australia. An expedition was accordingly fitted out for the express purpose of examining the marshes of the, Macquarie, under the command of Captain Sturt of His Majesty's 39th' regiment, who was accompanied by the enterprising native of the colony I have already mentioned, Mr. Hamilton Hume. In the course of his journey, during which the whole party experienced much suffering and privation from the excessive heat of the weather and the afflictive character of the drought, Captain Sturt ascertained that the marsh in which Mr. Oxley had lost the river was only of moderate extent – fifty miles in length and twenty in breadth and that there was no such inland sea as that gentleman supposed.
To the northward, however, a chain of ponds was discovered communicating with the dry bed of a torrent, whose channel was evidently intended to carry off the overflowings of the: marshes in rainy seasons, and which Captain Sturt therefore very properly considered as the re-appearance of the Macquarie.
This river, or rather torrent, was, traced for a considerable distance in a northerly direction, and was found to communicate with a much larger river than the Macquarie, which Captain Sturt named the Darling, but of which the water was as salt as that of the ocean, from numerous brine-springs on its banks. Captain Sturt traced the Darling ninety miles from the point where it received the drainings of the marshes of the Macquarie; its course from that point being first north-westerly, but afterwards south-westerly. In the lower part of its ascertained course it was sixty yards in width in the extremity of the drought, and it was flowing to the southward in majestic, loneliness, when Captain Sturt was reluctantly obliged to discontinue its examination, and, to return with the 'expedition to the colony.
In consequence of the idea entertained by Major, Mitchell, the present Surveyor-General of New South Wales, that an outlet existed for the waters of the interior to the north-westward, an expedition was fitted out for a journey of discovery in that direction at the instance of Major M. in the year 1831, immediately after General Darling left the Colony; the petty jealousies which were unhappily allowed to influence the operations of the colonial government during His Excellency's administration, having up till that period precluded Major M. from attempting to ascertain by actual examination the correctness of his conjecture.
Major Mitchell's expedition was unfortunate in its issue.
A depot was formed in the course of the journey, at which 'a large portion of the provisions intended for the expedition was deposited under the charge of two convict servants.
In the absence, however, of the rest of the party, the two men were speared by the natives, and the provisions either carried off or destroyed. Major Mitchell was therefore obliged to return to the colony much sooner than he had expected, and without accomplishing the main object of his journey.
Considerable light, however, was thrown on the geographical conformation of the Australian continent by this expedition. It was ascertained, for instance, that the dividing range that separates the interior waters, flowing ultimately in a northerly, from those flowing ultimately in a southerly direction, was considerably farther to the northward than had previously been supposed; the rivers Gwydir and Dumaresq, or, as they are called by the natives the Kindur and the Karaula, which Mr. Cunningham had discovered flowing in a north-westerly direction, having been ascertained to alter their course, and to flow afterwards to the southward and westward.
It would seem therefore that the river Darling: is the common receptacle for the various streams that rise on the western declivity of the mountains that run parallel to the east coast of the continent - the Macquarie, the Castlreagh, the Peel, and the two rivers discovered by Mr. Cunningham- Major Mitchell's conjecture in regard to the northern waters still remaining to be verified by future discovery.
I have already stated, that during the government of Major-General Macquarie, a river of considerable magnitude, called the Morumbidgee, was discovered flowing with rapid westerly course from the elevated tableland to the south ward and westward of Port Jackson.
Highly favourable accounts reached the colony from time to time, of the country on the banks of this river, and the interesting report that was given by two gentlemen of the district of Bathurst, who had traced it for one hundred and fifty miles beyond the farthest cattle-station in the interior, served only to increase the mystery in which its fate was enveloped, and to heighten the general desire to ascertain whether it ultimately reached the surrounding ocean.
An expedition of discovery was accordingly fitted out to proceed down the Morumbidgee, in the month of November, 1829, of which Captain Sturt, who had shortly before ascertained the termination of the river Macquarie, and the existence of a still, larger river in the western interior, with so much credit to himself and so much satisfaction to the colony, was en trusted with the command. In the upper part of its course, the Morumbidgee traverses a country consisting chiefly of grassy hills and romantic valleys, well fitted for the residence and subsistence of civilized man.
Along the course of the river there is a succession of flats, some on the right, and others on the left bank of the stream; some of larger and others of smaller extent, which, according to Captain Sturt, "for richness of soil, and for abundance of pasture, can nowhere be excelled".
Farther to the westward the country is of an inferior character, and on approaching the meridian on which the Lachlan River had been ascertained by Mr. Oxley to disappear in an extensive marsh, considerably to the northward, it exhibits the aspect of absolute sterility and hopeless desolation.
It would seem, indeed, that the over flowings of the: marshes of the Lachlan are carried off by a series of insignificant rills into the bed of the Morumbidgee, just as those of the marshes of the Macquarie are left to find their way into the channel of the Darling.
About fifty miles to the west ward of these marshes the Morumbidgee empties its diminished current into a noble river flowing from the eastward, to which Captain Sturt gave the name of the Murray.
At the point where it receives the Morumbidgee, the Murray is about three hundred and fifty feet in width, and from twelve to twenty in depth.
"Its reaches," says Captain Sturt, "were from half to three quarters of a mile in length, and the views upon it were splendid. Its transparent waters were running over a sandy bed at the rate of two and a half knots an hour, and its banks, although averaging eighteen feet in height, were evidently subject to floods." "The river," adds, the, same intelligent traveller, in a subsequent paragraph,"improved upon us at every mile. Its reaches were of noble breadth and splendid appearance. Its current was stronger, and it was fed by numerous springs".
The Murray is in, all likelihood formed by the confluence of the three rivers, already mentioned, that were crossed by Messrs. Hovell and Hume on their expedition to Port Phillip in the year 1824; and it probably, constitutes the common receptacle of the western waters of the south-east angle of the continent of Australia.
From its junction with, the Morumbidgee, it flows in a west-north-westerly direction for about fifty or sixty miles, and is then, joined by a noble river of a hundred yards; in width flowing, from the northward, which Captain Sturt supposes, with evident propriety, to be the Darling, the common receptacle of the western waters from the twenty ninth parallel of south latitude.
From the point of its junction of with the latter river, the Murray pursues a south-westerly course for about fifty or sixty miles farther, and then flows due south for the remainder of its course.
"We passed some beautiful scenery," says Captain Sturt, in the interesting narrative of this part of his expedition, "in the course of the day. The river preserved a direct southerly course, and could not in any place have been less than four hundred yards in breadth". "As we proceeded down it, the valley" (through which the river winds) expanded to the width of two miles; the alluvial flats became proportionably larger, and a small lake generally occupied their centre.
They were extensively covered with reeds and grass; for which reason, notwithstanding that they were a little elevated above the level of the stream, I do not think they are subject to overflow. Parts of them may be laid under water, but certainly not the whole.
The rains at the head of the Murray and its tributaries must be unusually severe to prolong their, effects to this distant region, and the flats bordering it appear by successive depositions to have only just gained a height above the further influence of the floods.
Should this prove to be the case, the valley may be decidedly laid down as a most desirable spot, whether regard the richness of its soil, its rock formation its locality, or the extreme facility of water-communication along it.
The Murray was found to terminate in an extensive lake on the southern coast, near the gulf of St. Vincent.
It will appear evident from the preceding sketch that the first point to be ascertained is, whether the river that Captain Sturt discovered in the course of his last expedition, flowing into the Murray River from the northward, is the same river he had discovered on his former expedition and named the Darling. Captain Sturt is inclined to suppose the rivers to be identical, (and we confess we incline strongly to the same opinion,) though he very prudently speaks with some hesitation on the subject.
It will be proper, however, very briefly to examine the arguments both for and against this supposition successively.
The river, therefore, which Captain Sturt discovered disemboguing itself into the Murray, and which we will call, merely for convenience, the Lower Darling, was found flowing from the northward, on nearly the same meridian on which the Upper Darling had been found by that officer pursuing, a southerly course; several hundred miles nearer the Tropic.
To suppose then that these rivers are not the same, we must suppose, that, at a short distance from the points at which they were respectively seen they must both have been deflected from the course they were then pursuing, (the one towards its mouth and the other towards its source,) or in other words, that the Upper Darling, which was left pursuing a southerly course, must have actually turned, round to the westward or the northward, (for the supposition of an easterly direction would be preposterous,) and that the Lower Darling, instead of coming from the northward, as it seemed to do, must have actually come from the east ward or the westward.
Now this, we confess, appears to us a much more violent supposition than to suppose that the Lower Darling is just the river which Captain Sturt had discovered several years before, at a point to which the course it was then pursuing must actually have carried it.
Besides, the indentations of the southern coast near the meridian of the Darling - Spencer's Gulf, the Gulf of St. Vincent, and the valley, of the Murray - would seem to indicate a general declivity of the land in that region to the southward, as gulfs or ocean-valleys are generally found to terminate in land-valleys, or in other words, their ocean-slope is continued on shore.
On the other hand, the character of the rivers at present designated the Upper and the Lower Darling would seem to indicate two different streams.
The former was as salt as the water of the ocean all along its course; the latter, on the contrary, was quite fresh:
At the point of its junction with the Murray, the water of the Lower Darling was turbid and its current rapid circumstances that would seem to warrant the idea of its being merely a stream of short course, swollen at the period of Captain Sturt's visit by an occasional flood.
The turbid appearance of the water and the rapidity of the current of the Lower Darling may doubtless be accounted for by the character of the country which it had traversed for some distance previous to its falling into the Murray; but it would not be easy to account for the loss of its saline quality in its progress towards the point of its junction with the latter stream.
On the supposition, therefore, that the Darling, properly so called, is not the river that Captain Sturt discovered in the course of is second expedition, emptying itself into the Murray, it becomes a matter, of the highest importance to ascertain the character and the fate (for in speaking of Australian rivers we can scarcely speak positively of the outlet,) of the former of these streams.
Is the Darling then a river at all or is it not rather an arm of the sea that has wormed itself into the heart of our continent from that part of the northwest coast which is still unexamined and where Dampier found the tides so high and the currents so rapid that he gave it as his opinion; that there must either be an extensive inlet into the land in that direction or an archipelago of islands on the coast?
The existence of such an inlet is actually supposed probable by those who are perhaps the best qualified of any to offer an opinion as to the physical conformation of the unexplored portion of this continent; and it is also supposed not unlikely that the Darling river may be its head; in which case that river will probably be found turning round to the northward and westward at no great distance from the point at which its examination by Captain Sturt was discontinued.
For our own parts, we look forward with intense anxiety to the results of future geographical investigation in the direction of the north-west angle of this continent, and we feel quite confident that some extensive inlet will at no distant day be discovered in that part of the Australian land; but we confess we are altogether sceptical as to the likelihood of the Darling river being found the head of any such inlet from the Indian Ocean, as there is reason to believe actually exists, however triumphantly we might have the actual realization of such an hypothesis, as by far the most splendid discovery that had ever been effected in the continent of New Holland.
The idea, indeed, of the existence of a saltwater inlet or extensive inland sea to, the northwestward, seems to derive some probability from the circumstance of the natives in that part of the interior which Captain Sturt has partially explored having spears headed with agate, on which they appeared to set a high value, and with which they refused to part for anything their European visitors could offer them.
On endeavouring to ascertain the use to which the natives applied these weapons, by pointing them in a horizontal direction as if in the act of launching them at a kangaroo or emu, the natives signified they were intended for a quite different purpose, by pointing them towards the ground as if in the act of launching them at some sea-monster.
At all events, the problem, to be solved by an expedition, or rather by a series of expeditions, of discovery into the northern interior is one of which the solution cannot fail to prove intensely interesting to the colony at large.
The proposed expedition will in all likelihood, form its first encampment in the vicinity of the Darling, and send a detachment down that river to ascertain whether it actually pursues a southerly course till it is lost in the Murray or disembogues its briny waters into some inland sea.
The result of this investigation will probably determine the future course and objects of the expedition, to which we sincerely wish entire success.