Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/1013

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962
[EXPLORATION
AUSTRALIA

between February and June 1862; and McKinlay, from south to north, before the end of August in that year. The interior of New South Wales and Queensland, all that lies east of the 140th degree of longitude, was examined. The Barcoo or Cooper’s Creek and its tributary streams were traced from the Queensland mountains, holding a south-westerly course to Lake Eyre in South Australia; the Flinders, the Gilbert, the Gregory, and other northern rivers watering the country towards the Gulf of Carpentaria were also explored. These valuable additions to Australian geography were gained through humane efforts to relieve the lost explorers. The bodies of Burke and Wills were recovered and brought to Melbourne for a solemn public funeral, and a noble monument has been erected to their honour.

Mr Stuart, in 1862, made his third and final attempt to traverse the continent from Adelaide along a central line, which, inclining a little westward, reaches the north coast of Arnheim Land, opposite Melville Island. He started in January, and on the 7th of April reached the farthest northern point, near S. lat. 17°, where he had turned back in May of the preceding year. He then pushed on, through a very thick forest, with scarcely any water, till he came to the streams which supply the Roper, a river flowing into the western part of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Having crossed a table-land of sandstone which divides these streams from those running to the western shores of Arnheim Land, Mr Stuart, in the month of July, passed down what is called the Adelaide river of north Australia. Thus he came at length to stand on the verge of the Indian Ocean; “gazing upon it,” a writer has said, “with as much delight as Balboa, when he crossed the Isthmus of Darien from the Atlantic to the Pacific.” The line crossing Australia which was thus explored has since been occupied by the electric telegraph connecting Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and other Australian cities with London.

A third part, at least, of the interior of the whole continent, between the central line of Stuart and the known parts of Western Australia, from about 120° to 134° E. long., an extent of half a million square miles, still remained Gosse. a blank in the map. But the two expeditions of 1873, conducted by William Christie Gosse (1842-1881), afterwards deputy surveyor-general for South Australia, and Colonel (then Major) Egerton Warburton, made a beginning in the exploration of this terra incognita west of the central telegraph route. That line of more than 1800 m., having its southern extremity at the head of Spencer Gulf, its northern at Port Darwin, in Arnheim Land, passes Central Mount Stuart, in the middle of the continent, S. lat. 22°, E. long. 134°. Mr Gosse, with men and horses provided by the South Australian government, started on the 21st of April from the telegraph station 50 m. south of Central Mount Stuart, to strike into Western Australia. He passed the Reynolds range and Lake Amadeus in that direction, but was compelled to turn south, where he found a tract of well-watered grassy land. A singular rock of conglomerate, 2 m. long, 1 m. wide, and 1100 ft. high, with a spring of water in its centre, struck his attention. The country was mostly poor and barren, sandy hillocks, with scanty growth of spinifex. Mr Gosse, having travelled above 600 m., and getting to 26° 32′ S. and 127° E., two degrees within the Western Australian boundary, was forced to return. Meantime a more successful attempt to reach the Warburton. western coast from the centre of Australia was made by Major Warburton, with thirty camels, provided by Mr (afterwards Sir) T. Elder, of South Australia. Leaving the telegraph line at Alice Springs (23° 40′ S., 133° 14′ E.), 1120 m. north of Adelaide city, Warburton succeeded in making his way to the De Grey river, Western Australia. Overland routes had now been found possible, though scarcely convenient for traffic, between all the widely separated Australian provinces. In northern Queensland, also, there were several explorations about this period, with results of some interest. That performed by Mr W. Hann, with Messrs Warner, Tate and Taylor, in 1873, related to the country north of the Kirchner range, watered by the Lynd, the Mitchell, the Walsh and the Palmer rivers, on the east side of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The coasting expedition of Mr G. Elphinstone Dalrymple, with Messrs Hill and Johnstone, finishing in December 1873, effected a valuable survey of the inlets and navigable rivers in the Cape York Peninsula.

Of the several attempts to cross Western Australia, even Major Warburton’s expedition, the most successful, had failed in the important particular of determining the nature of the country through which it passed. Major Warburton had virtually raced across from the Macdonnell range in South Australia to the headwaters of the Oakover river on the north-west coast, without allowing himself sufficient time to note the characteristics of the country. The next important expedition Forrest. was differently conducted. John (afterwards Sir John) Forrest was despatched by the Perth government with general instructions to obtain information regarding the immense tract of country out of which flow the rivers falling into the sea on the northern and western shores of Western Australia. Leaving Yewin, a small settlement about lat. 28° S., long. 116° E., Forrest travelled north-east to the Murchison river, and followed the course of that river to the Robinson ranges; thence his course lay generally eastward along the 26th parallel. Forrest and his party safely crossed the entire extent of Western Australia, and entering South Australia struck the overland telegraph line at Peake station, and, after resting, journeyed south to Adelaide. Forrest traversed seventeen degrees of desert in five months, a very wonderful achievement, more especially as he was able to give a full report of the country through which he passed. His report destroyed all hope that pastoral settlement would extend to the spinifex region; and the main object of subsequent explorers was to determine the extent of the desert in the direction of north and south. Ernest Giles. Giles made several attempts to cross the Central Australian Desert, but it was not until his third attempt that he was successful. His journey ranks almost with Forrest’s in the importance of its results and the success with which the appalling difficulties of the journey were overcome. Through the generosity of Sir Thomas Elder, of Adelaide, Giles’s expedition was equipped with camels. It started on the 23rd of May 1875 from Port Augusta. Working westerly along the line of the 30th parallel, Giles reached Perth in about five months. After resting in Perth for a short time, he commenced the return journey, which was made for the most part between the 24th and 25th parallels, and again successfully traversed the desert, reaching the overland telegraph line in about seven months. Giles’s journeys added greatly to our knowledge of the characteristics of Western and South Australia, and he was able to bear out the common opinion that the interior of Australia west of 132° E. long, is a sandy and waterless waste, entirely unfit for settlement.

The list of explorers since 1875 is a long one; but after Forrest’s and Giles’s expeditions the main object ceased to be the discovery of pastoral country: a new zest had been added to the cause of exploration, and most of Recent explorers. the smaller expeditions concerned themselves with the search for gold. Amongst the more important explorations may be ranked those of Tietkins in 1889, of Lindsay in 1891, of Wells in 1896, of Hübbe in 1896, and of the Hon. David Carnegie in 1896-97. Lindsay’s expedition, which was fitted out by Sir Thomas Elder, the generous patron of Australian exploration, entered Western Australia about the 26th parallel south lat., on the line of route taken by Forrest in 1874. From this point the explorer worked in a south-westerly direction to Queen Victoria Springs, where he struck the track of Giles’s expedition of 1875. From the Springs the expedition went north-west and made a useful examination of the country lying between 119° and 115° meridians and between 26° and 28° S. lat. Wells’s expedition started from a base about 122° 20′ E. and 25° 54′ S., and worked northward to the Joanna Springs, situated on the tropic of Capricorn and near the 124th meridian. From the springs the journey was continued along the same meridian to the Fitzroy river. The country passed through was mostly of a forbidding character, except where the Kimberley district was entered, and the expedition suffered even more than the