The idea of a Road from Argyleshire to Bassís Straits

5 August 1826 The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 


Should you deem the following concise account of Western Port, worthy a corner in your interesting Paper, you will, by giving the same insertion, very much oblige, One of Australia's Well-wishers.   

ďOn looking over your Paper, of the 10th ult. I was pleased to see a very correct account, given by Captain Smith, of Western Port, Bass's Straits. 

I myself have been there, and I have every reason to believe, that if Western Port, and the fine tract   of country adjoining, was fully explored, it would be found to possess many advantages for a good and extensive settlement.

The downs, adjoining the Tweed (Western Port River), are very extensive; perhaps upwards of 70 miles in length, in a N E. and S.W. direction; they are in general well watered, and a good soil, covered with a fine sward of grass and   herbage, and are particularly well adapted for the depasturing of sheep.

The country to the N.N.W. of the downs appears to be moderately level and easy of access, and I have been informed by Messrs. Hovell and Hume, that, in their opinion, it is possible a good line of road can be made, or marked out, from Argyleshire to Bass's Straits; and persons going to settle at Western Port, or the adjoining country, might, without difficulty or expense, take their stock, &c. down by land, as the country, the whole of the way, affords good pasturage.

The chief obstacle would be in crossing the several rivers, without the assistance of a boat, as they are not fordable.

The Snowy or White Mountains can be avoided, by keeping a westerly direction for 80 or 100 miles, after crossing the second river from the Murrumbidgee, which is 40 or 50 miles to the westward of that river.Ē

July 20th, 1826.

This letter is misleading for the modern reader because it is based on one of the biggest error in the exploration of the Australian continent.

In 1825 and for many years thereafter, both Hume and Hovell (and everyone else), thought the termination point of the Hume & Hovell expedition was at Western Port, when in fact they turned for home when they wereabout 60 miles further west of where they thought they were. They were actually on the western side of Port Phillip bay near present-day Geelong.

The unknown writer of this letter claims to have visited Western Port. However, the description he uses of the geography and topography fits the Geelong area - not that of Western Port.

Who was this person and how did they get to the termination point of Hume and Hovellís expedition within 18 months of the explorers visit?

The letter writer could not have arrived on the shores of Bass Straight by sea because the Captain of the ship would have known where his ship was (i.e. on the western side of Port Phillip Bay - not at Western Port).

Although is not clear that the writer has a proper geographic knowledge of the route south, it is interesting that the writer claims to know a way of avoiding the Snowy Mountains. This is something Hume and Hovell did not know.

Was the letter writer one of the convicts who were part of the original exploration party (two of whom settled in the Riverina)?