Account of an Excursion to the North of King George's Sound, between the 26th of April and the 4th of May, 1831, by A. Collie, Surgeon
ACCOUNT of an Excursion to the North of King George's Sound, between the 26th of April, and the 4th of May, 1831, by Al. Collie, Surgeon.
I departed, early on the 27th of April, from the settlement, by boat, with three attendants, Mokare, and two privates of the 63d regiment. On reaching the entrance of Oyster Harbour, the tide being very low, I spent some time in sounding the bar, which I found I could cross in not less than two fathoms; and I think I am quite safe in stating this to be the most water there is at the same height of tide. Inside the bar, in the narrowest part of the entrance, I could not help remarking the facilities presented by nature, for repairing vessels, and for loading and unloading, by the great depth of water, (three to five fathoms) within from five to seven fathoms of the sandy and rocky beach on the right hand going in. It is at this spot that wells have been dug, and vessels watered. These wells are close to the beach, and although partly filled up at present, and much overshadowed by vegetation, they contain good water; not, however, in such abundance as to overflow.
In directing my course to French River, for which the natives have two names, Ya-mung-up, and Hal-gan-up, and the mouth of which lies on the northward part of Oyster Harbour, in a line with Mount Clarence and Bayonet Head, I was obliged to keep well to the north, on account of the extensive and very shallow flats, which prevent a boat approaching it in any thing like a direct course, from the middle of the harbour. By making a considerable detour, a channel can be followed of sufficient width for boats, and about eight feet deep, into the river, where the depth is also adequate to boat navigation.
In ascending the river, the channel lies in a northerly direction, with moderate windings to the east and west, for about two miles and a half, its breadth varying from two hundred to fifty yards, and altogether narrowing, as the distance from the mouth increases. In three or four places, it is contracted still more by the rocky islets, either destitute of or covered with trees. The banks are generally shelving, with a few flats occasionally intervening, but they did not appear to have much to recommend them, and two or three small creeks, which I observed to run back, were, by Mokare's account, salt.
The mahogany and red gum, of Perth, (the tyarreil and marré of the natives here) are predominant, and clothe, but in little stateliness, the low and the rising banks. At the distance I have mentioned, (two miles and a half) a streamlet of fresh water joins from the S.W., flowing, as I afterwards ascertained, between two heights of unequal elevation. The lowest one, which is on the N.W. side, is of very excellent soil, (about fifty acres) covered with thick, but at present, dried up grass, and very slightly wooded with red gum. The most elevated on the S.E. side, is of tolerable soil, (about 100 acres) a gravelly light brown loam, rather thinly wooded with the same species.
The direction of the river, ascending from this place, is, on the whole, N.E. easterly, making considerable and rapid windings for about two miles and a quarter, although the direct distance cannot be more than one mile and a quarter, to the farthest part a boat can go. The breadth diminishes a little, and the channel is almost blocked up in several places, by small islands, and rocks under water.
The former aspect of the banks continues, except on the left, (the right hand going up) nearly half a mile beyond the fresh streamlet already mentioned, where there is a very pleasing and gentle declivity, thickly covered with dried kangaroo grass, some green wattle (the broomlike), and distant (by distant, I mean eight yards apart) trees of good size, of red gum. It is needless to tell those conversant with this colony, that the soil producing such vegetation, is of the best description. It extends 350 yards from the river, and about 700 along it
Fresh streamlets become more frequent, but the liver itself continues, at present, brackish, to the stopping place.
The stoppage is occasioned by the bed of the river being elevated by rocks, over which the water flows, in a small and rapid stream. A few yards farther on, the channel is again capacious,—the water deep,—and continues in this state, occasionally obstructed by fallen trees, for nearly a mile, when a like impediment to the former presents itself; and, although it is of short space, and the river widens and deepens above it, I consider all hope of rendering the navigation farther up available, to be finally destroyed, by a third and longer similar stoppage to the two first, about half a mile beyond the second.
Leaving the boat, and also the river, at the first of these obstacles, I took a direction N.E., which led me on the eastern side of the river, and almost immediately within sight of its bed. At the tance of three-quarters of a mile, I crossed a tolerable sized stream running to my left, consequently to join French River; it seemed well adapted for driving mills.
After proceeding N.E. six miles and three quarters, the course was changed to N.½ W. for a mile, then to N.W. by W. for half a mile farther, down a hollow, to obtain water and stop for the night. This hollow appeared to descend to the bed of French River, the outline of which could be traced at a short distance to the N.W. From an adjoining elevation, the eastern of two conspicuous hummocks of Porrangur-up, bore N.W ½ W., and the eastern, apparently highest shoulder of the same mountain, N. W. ½ N. The surface walked over is slightly uneven; the elevated portions, which constitute five-sixths, are either sandy or stony, producing a tolerably close covering of low shrubs, and a rather thick wooding of mahogany and casuarina(sheoak?) trees, the former of small size, and both much decayed and fallen; the depressed portions are a mixture of black sod and sand, in various proportions; swampy in the rainy season, producing no trees, a shrubby melalencat, a rushy vegatation, which will pasture cattle, but which is void of the soft succulency of good grass. The rock which protrudes, and, by its fragments, forms a general covering, in many places is of a clayey nature, of considerable hardness, produced by exposure, and increased, perhaps, by the fires, with which the natives seem to have repeatedly consumed the vegetable productions. It seemed to penetrate the ground to a very small depth, and it never forms large blocks
On the morning of the 28th, I followed a north course for a mile, then a N.N.E. one for one-fifth of a mile, when, being on a declivity, inclining downwards to the west, I could trace the bed of French River at its foot, a very short way off, following apparently a S.W. by W. direction, for three miles, and afterwards a S. by W. one for a mile or farther. I continued N.E., E. and N.E., skirting the river, for a mile and a half, in the gently inclining slope, at first varied with sandy elevations, and rushy hollows, which appear to have been partly covered with water in the rainy season, and in some of which there are the dry channels of winter streamlets; then uniformly on a soil diversified with brownish gravel and good dark coloured earth, that has produced a very fine crop of grass now withered and beaten down. Granite, which is the prevailing rock, where the soil is good, is sometimes exposed, either in solid or bare blocks, or in fragments, so as to render the surface stoney, but not to prevent a tolerable covering of grass. The extent of grassy land is about three quarters by half a mile wide, and the marré, (red gum) trees being distant from each other, and also tall, open an agreeable prospect to the view.
After this, I went N.E. by N. half a mile, leaving the river, then N. by W. and N.W. by W. one mile over a sandy soil, with many stones of a hardened clayey nature already mentioned, producing some good sized mahogany trees, several stunted shrubs, to a stream, either a branch or the main body of the French River, small where a current existed, but wide where none was perceptible. The place is called Kâl-um-up by Mokare. According to him there is good ground to the N.E. three miles off, but without water in its vicinity, and his vague idea of distance decided my not going to look for it. My line of route now lay N. for one mile, and N. by E. for two more, the ground being slightly varied with ascents and descents, and shewing very little good soil; afterwards a mile and three quarters N.N.E. and half a mile N. to a river which Mokare called French River, but which could only be a branch of it, unless he was mistaken in what we afterwards followed, and what he called the main channel. Half a mile before coming to this branch, I emerged for the first time from a wooded country, and enjoyed a view for several miles, W. N. and E. over slightly elevated plains, clear of trees; leaving this, and for the last quarter of a mile, I traversed a gentle acclivity, rising from the river on my right, unshaded by a tree, and bearing the remains of a most luxuriant crop of grass, and a few shrubs of green wattle. The soil is very good, and only interrupted in a few spots by the protruding granite. The native name of the ground is Noor-ru-bup. As the party stopped here for the night, the examination in detail of this spot occupied me till dark. (A rough sketch may assist in giving an idea of it: see Fig. 1 on the Plate.)
(A) is my tract of arrival at (B) our bivouac ; (R) is the river, the bed of which was dry at the places where the tracts of examination (EE), and of departure (C) cross it. The magnetic North is indicated by the arrow point, and the distance between the lower and upper crossing places is about a mile and a quarter. The grassy and good soil, already mentioned as partly passed over, is contained between the faint line (d) and the river. The slope on the east side of it is sufficiently gentle for agricultural purposes, and it is a good brown gravelly soil, producing, however, but little grass. To the eastward of my tract the surface becomes stoney, being strewed in a great measure with ragged fragments of an apparently recent siliceous formation, and ornamented with a whitish silvery-looking shrub (an endesmia?). The few trees which grow on this slope are similar in general appearance to the flooded gum of the Avon, although in reality different. The same species grows on the river banks, where is also found the same tree, which is by some called the flooded gum at Perth; the native name of the latter is moit, and of the former yeit.
On the 29th April, a north course for a mile and a quarter carried me over tolerably clear and very strong ground, to a ravine close on my left, and to a slightly excavated hollow in front, which I traversed for one-third of a mile, among dried kangaroo grass, on a good soil, unencumbered with trees or shrubs. It descends to the S. W., becoming slightly wooded, and looking very good, apparently, for a mile in that direction, maintaining a general appearance in breadth of about half a mile. I altered my course to the N. by W. for two miles and a half, during which the surface was nearly level, the soil a gravelly light loam, and the productions shrubby; when I had an unobstructed view almost on every point of the compass from a moderately raised eminence, and I availed myself of the opportunity to take the following bearings.
Mount Manypeak, (Hummock on the Western Shoulder) . . S. by E.½ E.
Mount Gardener S.½ E.
Eastern Height, or Shoulder of Porrong-u-rup S.W.¾ W.
Eastern of two conspicuous Hummocks, near the middle of Porrong-u-rup S.W. by W.¼ W. Maggerip, a small Peak above the horizon, and western part of succeeding range, about 50 miles distant N.W.½ W.
Mondyurup, distant about 17 miles ...NW ¾ N. Kowr-u-larrup, distant about 15 miles ... N.by W.½ W.
Tood-ye-ver-up, distant about 8 miles ... N.½ E.
Conical Hill (remarkable) distant 15 miles ... N.N.E.½ E.
Western high Peak of Rugged Mountain, distant 22 miles ... N.E.½ N.
Conspicuous Hummock on Eastern Shoulder of ditto ... N.E.¾ E.
These mountains, from Maggerip to Rugged Mountain (by the natives, Koi Kyeunu-ruff) inclusive, are very remarkable, by their rising far elevated above a continuous grouping of moderate hills which surround their bases. They all appeared destitute of trees, but were covered, especially the lower, in a mantling of green, and the country intervening between me and them presented no forest timber to my view. In a direction N.W. by W. ½ W. a valley, or rather a plain, on a lower level than either side, stretched to the distant horizon, as if the smooth sphericity of that part of the globe had not been interrupted. This is the very slightly sloping valley of French River, partly bare and partly covered with trees; whereas to the south of it, the wavy surface that slowly rises to the northern foot of Porrong-u-rup is generally clothed in arboreous foliage. The clear country I had passed over this morning strongly suggested a succession of similar soil, from its continuance in the same direction, and Mokare strengthened this idea by his declaration that it was well founded. His addition, too, that no water was to be found to the N.E. or N., and the hopeful prospect to the N. W., finished by determining me to direct my steps to the more inviting vale of Kâlgan (French River). I walked along this vale, or low plain, on a clayey loam, dry at that time, but bearing the marks of a winter marsh, that had produced a short and thin grass with a few shrubs. The white gums, for the first time, shewed themselves, affording a slight skirting on the gentle elevation of the northern side, and, as I advanced, demonstrated to a distance in front, by their thicker array, the situation and course of the river, on the banks of which I arrived, after a walk of two miles and three quarters from the station of the preceding bearings. At this spot, which Mokare calls Kamballup, I was a little astonished to see the water in the channel about sixty yards wide, but, cm proceeding a few minutes upwards to its source, I was as much surprised to see neither water nor channel, for the latter had been filled with tall shrubs, now burnt, without any well defined banks. I went on for a mile and a half N.N.W., and then for a mile and three quarters nearly west, over a very indifferent soil, gravelly and sandy, with, however, a few interruptions of good, and came to the channel of the river, where the water stood in small and exceedingly brackish ponds. A little further on there was abundance of drinkable, although still brackish water in the channel.
I kept on the left (north) bank, and passed over, west, a fine gently swelling rise of gravelly but good soil, enhanced to the eye by tall and distant white gums, for one-third of a mile, to another bend of the river, which still leaving to my left, I walked about W.N.W. for two miles and a half, over either a sandy or gravelly surface, bearing shrubs, in many parts burnt, and came again to the bed of the river where we first found a small and brackish pond, but immediately afterwards a large and tolerably fresh one. The party stopt here for the night, and whilst the evening meal was preparing I went to one of the highest eminences in the plain, three-quarters of a mile north; and as it was only covered with a few grass trees and low shrubs, my view was unconfined. The following bearings, with all the inaccuracies of a pocket compass, will assist in conveying a notion of the surrounding country:
Mount Manypeak (western hummock as before) S.E by S.¼ S. Ditto. . . .Gardener ... S.by E.½ E. Eastern shoulder of Porrong-u-rup ...S.½ E. Eastern of two middle hummocks of Porrong-u-rup ...S.½ W. Top of western shoulder of ditto . . S.S.W.½ W. Western extremity of North Range (Maggerip) N.W.½ W. Mondgurip (distance nine miles and a half) N.N.W.¼ W. Kowr-u-larrup (distance eight miles) N.N.E.¼ E. T Toodye-ver-up N.E.½ E. Western high peak of Rugged Mountain E. by N.¼ N. Kowr-u-larrup seemed nearer than Porrong-urup, so that the width of the valley, or rather plain, between the smaller range of Porrong-u-rup on the south and the grand range on the north, may be something near sixteen miles. The N.W. part of this plain resumes, in many parts, the arboreous covering, the general feature of this portion of Australia.
On the higher elevations the rock formation continues of the description already mentioned, the claystone partaking of a more or less ferruginous nature, and agglomerating with fragments of quartz, feldspar, and granite, which, although not particularly detailed hitherto, have been generally common. The lower eminences, however, often exposed a perpendicular, and still more frequently an excavated front of a fine and friable clayey sandstone, of a cream colour, fine, granular, and almost too little tenacious to be unreservedly recommended for building.
On the 30th April I ascended (if ascent it be entitled to) the right bank of the river W. ½ N. three quarters of a mile, then W. ½ S. and W. over one mile and three quarters of a good grassy inclined plain, ornamented with white gum; afterwards over a sandy and gravelly soil and height for one quarter; and then over, first, a plain of sandy soil, and white gum and yeit trees; secondly, a moderate elevation of sandy soil and shrub; and lastly, across a lower level of good soil, white gum, wattle and grass near the river, which, in its windings, opportunely crossed our path.
On the last-mentioned piece of good soil, Mokare detected and pointed out to me the footsteps of horned cattle and of a horse; they were not recent, but sufficiently evident to show that they bore the form attributed to them; and as a furtner confirmation, Mokare had previously told me that two bullocks and a horse had been near this some months ago, and seen by the natives, who informed him. We crossed the channel and proceeded W. ½ N. one mile, and W.S.W. one mile and a half, through a generally open forest country, good towards the hollows, gravelly on the heights, but on both grassy, although on the latter the grass was thin, and on both much dried; to the river again, at a place called Moor-illup, much frequented by the natives of King George's Sound and Will tribe, and apparently quite as much by the natives of the two elements of earth and air. Here Mokare expected to find some of his neighbours, the Wills, whose place of resort this, he gave me to understand, is in a more especial manner, and from whom he expected further information respecting the cattle.
Not only at Moor-illup, but at every pond of the river where we stopped, the traces of man, beast, and bird, are strongly marked; and the great numbers of kangaroo, and several emu, not to mention a fair proportion of ducks, cockatoos, pigeons, &c. seen daily at this place, shew that both the hunter and sportsman would find abundant amusement, and the settler no slight acquisition to his larder. I ascended a very gentle elevation three-quarters of a mile W. from the ponds of Moor-illup, covered so thickly with white gums that I could not obtain any distant view (except a continued uniformity of country to the westward.) Its surface northward is gravelly and stoney, but on the south inclination, which is tolerably open, the soil at the bottom is good, and a hollow, not very wide beyond it, is filled with long grass and still green small rushes, affording even now tolerable feed. The river seems to run over this in the winter time, but I found no water above the ponds last mentioned, and Mokare maintained there was none.
May 1st.—I commenced S.E. by S. and soon passed up a moderately inclined plane, that has nothing to recommend it; and after two miles and a half I walked along a broad belt of good soil for one mile. Fire had recently gone over its surface, and left only enough of wattle shrub to show that this had been the chief production; it has a gentle inclination, and is free from trees. The next two miles and a half was through mahogany trees, young and old; and over a very stony surface descending to the south, and a similar plain at its foot. I then altered our course to the W.S.W. for the hill of Yakkerlip, leaving a rich, low, grassy, and clear level space on my left, where the kangaroos shewed themselves in small herds. Walking about three miles in this direction, I passed over a brown and gravelly country, much encumbered with small mahogany trees and shrubs, with but little tolerable soil in the hollows, and came to a channel leading from Yakkerlip to the N. and N.E. to join French River. Here was one large pcnd; it was otherwise dry for a very considerable distance.
Several eminences are comprised in the name of Yakkerlip, the highest of which I ascended S.E. by E. three-quarters of a mile, over a light brown and gravelly soil, as we advanced clear of trees, and producing some good grass, and took the following bearings:
Extreme of mountains seen to the N.W ...N.W.by N.
Tood-ye-ver-up ... N.E. by E.½ E.
Extreme point of rugged mountain from E. by N. ... ½ N. to E. by N.
A conical peak near to the middle of Porrong-u-rup ... S.E. ¼ E.
Top of western shoulder of Porrong-u-rup ... S.E. ½ E. Willyung-up ... S. ¾ E.
Moor-illnp (elevation ascended yesterday afternoon) N. by W ¼ W.
Pwakkenbak (a similar hill to Yakkerlip) distance five miles ...W. by S. ½ S.
Kai-mirn-dy-ip (a considerable lake, said to be salt) distance two miles and a half ...E. by N.
In descending the south side of the hill I found the slope rapid but the soil good, and the verdure fresh and succulent, sheltered, in addition to its aspect, by tall and straight red gums. As we approached the bottom, and after crossing a romantic ravine, on the sides of which the red gum excels any thing in the neighbourhood of King George's Sound, stunted mahogany trees and thick mahogany shrub succeeded, on a very stony surface, composed of small fragments of agglomerated lumps of clay, iron-stone, quartz, feldspar, &c., held together by a clayey ferruginous, friable sandstone, differing only by a greater proportion of ferruginous matter from what I described on the afternoon of the 29th.
Continuing about S. by E. we passed a deep channel, at which Mokare seemed astonished, being dry, and came upon a slightly hollowed surface, where water seems to stand part of the year, but we could find none, not even in a reedy swamp, except far down, in narrow deep holes dug by the natives. Mokare therefore conducted us S.W. for three-quarters of a mile, to a good sized and commodious well (native), one-sixth of a mile east of which I took the few following bearings, my view being very confined.
Yakkerlip (distance four miles and a half ...N. ¼ W. Top of western shoulder of Porrong-u-rup ...E. ½ N.
Cone near the middle of ditto ...E. ¾ S.
Eastward of two middle hummocks of ditto ...E. by S.
Pwakkenbak ...W. by N.½ N.
On the 2nd of May my course was about S.S.E. ½ E. for four miles and a half, to a reedy swamp covered with water, then S.E. for five miles when we came to the channel of a considerable stream, and followed its bank of tolerable soil for some distance, now only containing water in ponds. Mokare said the name of the ground was Yarren-yung-rip. In continuing about S.E. by E., varying however occasionally, and having crossed from the left to the right bank of this channel, I passed two dry channels descending to the north, and after three miles farther march, came on the bed of the stream that I had left, and which I skirted on the right bank, first in the same direction and then indining more to the eastward, for two miles more, during which the banks became high, rather steep, and the surface very stony (claystone). The eastern of the two middle hummocks of Porrong-u-rup bore N., and there was now an actual stream in the channel. I descended to a small meadow, of good soil, to bivouac, along with a party of natives that had accompanied us for the last few miles, and which were the first natives we met with.
May 3d—My course was S.E. for four miles and a half to a small stream running to our right, and at a very short distance into French River; and then S.S.E a mile to the same river, immediately above where we had left the boat. The ground walked over is in general gravelly and sandy, with much mahogany shrub, mahogany and casuarina trees. In returning down the French River from the boat stoppage, a few hundred yards W. by S. brought me upon a slope of good grassy land, about 100 acres, moderately wooded with red gum. From this to the fresh water streamlet (one mile and a quarter), the banks of which I described on the 27th, I found nothing eligible for the farmer; and I was scarcely more fortunate in proceeding about S. by W. to the bottom of Oyster Harbour, at some distance from the river, the greater part of the way a line of eminences intervening between us. Three-quarters of a mile before arriving at the harbour we came upon a stream of water flowing through a swampy and shrubby hollow, that affords a rough but green pasturage, even at present, and in which the stream is lost before it reaches the salt water.
Whilst dinner was preparing, and until the shutting in of the day, too short at this season of the year for exploring, I examined the height and banks on the right of French River nearest its mouth, and found them either a light gravelly loam, or very sandy, producing mahogany and casuarina trees, and an useless shrub.
The party stopped on the channel last mentioned, but so near its mouth that the water found in it was a continuance of the salt water of the harbour; but a native who happened to be with us procured fresh from some holes at a short distance.
May 4th.—I crossed the moderate elevation that lies to the westward of our bivouac, at a short distance from the beach to the mouth of King River, and observed it to be rocky, and wooded in a great proportion with red gum. A swampy and boggy hollow separates it from the highest ground in the vicinity, on the west and north of the embouchure of the King. This hollow extends to some distance N.N.W., and contains fresh feed, even at this period of the year. After observing the considerable salt meadows on both sides of the lower part of the King, on which there is an abundant produce of rushy and now dried vegetation, that might have made tolerable fodder, I proceeded up its northern or left bank in a westerly direction, without following its windings, for three miles, to a crossing place, by means of accidental tree bridges over two nearly equal streams, which, by joining a few yards below, form the main river. The ground thus passed over is chiefly sandy, with several portions of a gravelly light brown loam, intersected with several streamlets of fresh water. The trees are mostly mahogany, of slender girth, with shrubs, and the surface is free of grass.
We breakfasted on the south side of the south branch, and Mokare informed us that the ground was named Tan-num-bang-i-war. A hundred yards further up there were numerous channels leading to this branch, but all at about that distance dry. The chief of them seems to come from Willyungup through a slightly excavated valley, containing little shrub, and no trees larger than the Kingia Australis, similar io the grass tree, which very appropriately shades and adorns the head of its fraternal river.
In returning from the head of the King in a tolerably direct line to the settlement, I soon came to the same conspicuous granite rocks, in a watery hollow, leaving a grassy and open plain of about ten acres, and I should infer, good soil on our right. I also passed a hollow of tolerable soil N. by E. two miles from Mount Melville, besides considerably rushy and green low grounds, adapted to pasturing cattle, more advantageously perhaps in the summer than winter, where they may be too swampy. On the 17'th' May I had an opportunity of ascending King River in a boat; towards its mouth it is shallow, and most so about three-quarters of a mile up, where the natives generally wade across. The least water we had was three feet at nearly high water, but the rise and fall seemed to be very little. Above this the depth is sufficient for boating; and the only obstructions are, scattered rocks in two or three places narrowing the channel, and making it intricate (but leaving sufficient water), and fallen trees, which can easily be avoided, or might be removed with facility, until the boat reaches the point of division into twin branches, which I have mentioned to be close to where the accidental tree bridges afford a passage across. From the boat I observed no decided indications of rich soil nor much pasture, except the salt meadows towards the mouth of the river. The first fresh water creek that I noticed is on the right bank, about two miles up (in a direct line), but fresh water abounds in the plain between this river and Mount Clarence, and a very short way farther up I found the river itself fresh.
The banks, a little way above the native's wading place, presents an inclination and height well suited to a horse-path for dragging boats; and for the purpose of landing and shipping goods, the head of King River, at the foot of Willyung-up, will afford the greatest convenience to the population of the interior.
On June 4th, I took advantage of a boat going to Coffin Island to look for seals, mutton birds (sooty petrel, procellaria fuliginosa), to obtain a conveyance thither. It is an elliptical and rather low rocky island east of Mount Gardener; about a quarter of a mile in its longest diameter, and about five hundred yards from the main land. Its shores are everywhere rocky; in many places inaccessible from the steepness, and in almost all, frcm the continued lashing of the surge of the waves which roll in from the ocean. The landing is attended with the least difficulty a short way round the N.W. end, and on the north aspect, but even here the surf is, at the best, considerable, and often highly dangerous. The surface, a few yards removed from the cliffs, is composed of a thin covering of light loam and mould, producing the anthociras obovata, and another shrub, with a few herbaceous plants, and affording a warren for sooty petrel, penguin, lizards, &c., which have riddled the ground with their holes. That seals have come up and been killed in considerable numbers at one time, is confirmed, in addition to oral information, by the skeletons which still remain; but none of the party saw any alive at this time, and there was only one path traced by them in the shrubbery. The sealers were therefore so far disappointed, but the profusion of petrel amply compensated, as upwards of five hundred of these birds were caught by three persons in less than three days.
The rock, which a protracted stay afforded me abundance of time to survey, is granite of almost every variety of texture and appearance. Still it seems different from the genuine granite of the more anciently known world. An oxydulated iron ore and iron pyrites are distributed through its mass in grains, and found in the veins in even larger portions, not, however, in sufficient quantity to repay the miner.
Rock and other fish are plentiful, and several whales (black) were observed at a short distance ofF.
June 6th.— I ascended Mount Gardener, although the weather was highly unfavourable for a distant view, unwilling to detain the boat another day. The lower hills on the foot of Mount Gardener are, like itself, destitute of large timber, exposing a not- unfrequently bare rock of granite, but for the most part, a clothing of short shrubbery, and occa- sionally, a dense thicket of taller brushwood. The soil is generally sandy, and only in a few patches interrupted by brown loam, into one of which, at the top of the mountain, I put some almond nuts. I had previously sown several, and castor oil, and other seeds ; and one of the men had sown a variety of flower seeds on Coffin Island.
On the lower part of the mountain, looking to Coffin Island, and nearly in a line from the island to the Peak, the usual calcareous formation of the S.W. coast makes its appearance, rising seemingly in a vertical stratum of little thickness, to the sur- face on the south margin of a deep ravine. The same formation is also apparent a little N.E. of this, forming a superficial recumbent incrustation.
Mount Gardener, under which is to be included the lower hills, resting on the base of the most conspicuous, is joined to the mainland by a low and level neck containing several lakes, the nearest and apparently largest communicating by a winding channel with the bay to the N. and N.E. It is said to be brackish.
This bay I endeavoured to examine on the 6th, but the weather would not permit, and on the 7th, the whole party, tired of bivouacing, and a little alarmed, perhaps, at the great risk our boat ran of being stove the previous night, decided on attempting to return to the settlement, which we accomplished after a very tedious pull. From what I could see, however, of the bay referred to, it is spacious, of sufficieat depth of water, and sheltered, unless for about seven or eight points of the compass, to the eastward. A convenient boat harbour was described to be in its S.W. side; and very material shelter would be afforded between Coffin Island and Mount Gardener, if the dangers be not too great under water. Mount ManyPeak, from Coffin Island, presents the same appearance as Mount Gardener. Water, I am informed, runs down its side in streams to the sea, and there is more than one boat harbour at its bottom, but neither bay nor harbour for shipping near it on the N.E.
On June 15th, I went to the south side of Princess Royal Harbour, and was much satisfied to find limestone in two, if not more, places, projecting in low cliffs on its shores, either close to, or near, groves of trees, which will afford fuel for some years. Lime has hitherto been almost entirely procured from shells. The two large groves of trees adjoining the beach, one a little S.E. of the remarkable sandy patch, and the other about a mile and a half S.E. of this again (both denoted in the common chart), stand in good soil resting on granite, and are oomposed of large trees of red and blue gum, of reit, and a few mahogany. A copious spring, formed into a convenient well, at the first affords a constant current of excellent fresh water; and a moderate sized and rather rapid stream, at the second, not only presents the same advantage, but would turn several mills. They are both to be approached by light boats, and even a deep one can go within some fathoms of the first.
The plain of considerable extent, but varying in breadth between the south side of the harbour and the sea-coast range of hills, is, with little exception, destitute of large timber, but thickly covered with small shrubs, rushes, or rather scirpi, which make no despicable food for cattle, and possess the advantage of being verdant and good, throughout the protracted droughts of summer. The soil is very sandy, black loam and mould, similar to that in the hollows at the settlement; very retentive of water, and therefore, in the advanced months of winter, marshy, although at present still dry. The hills are shrubby with hollows of pasture.
The whole of this irregular tongue of land appears fitted by nature for pasturing flocks and herds of cattle, on their first importation, and one or two persons, at its western part or root, could readily prevent straying. A fresh-water lake, about four hundred yards from the S.E. extremity of the long sandy beach, that runs from the point where Mistaken Island nearly joins the mainland, round the western part of the sound, may, at some future period, become highly advantageous as a watering place for large ships and numerous fleets. Wood for fuel is, however, here very thinly scattered.
The upper and northern part of the range of hills, looking to the plain before mentioned, often exposes, particularly on the slope, the peculiar calcareous formation of the S.W. coast, and seemed, from a superficial examination, to afford a limestone as well as the lower cliffs on the beach, freer from siliceous sand than those in the vicinity of Swan River.
In the winter season, a marshy declivity, W.S.W. of Seal Island, sends streamlets of fresh water to the beach, where an American vessel once took in her water.