Picturesque New Guinea/Appendix 2

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APPENDIX II.



OFFICIAL REPORT

OF

CAPT. H. C. EVERILL,

Leader of the New Guinea Exploring Expedition.

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Plate L.

FLY RIVER EXPLORERS.

CAPTAIN H. C. EVERILL (Left).

SIGNOR LUIGI MARIA D'ALBERTIS (Right).

Reference page 173.

Black and white photograph of a man with a dark beard, wearing a dark jacket.
Black and white photograph of a man with a dark, forked beard, wearing a suit, coat and cloth hat.
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APPENDIX II.

Meeting of the Geographical Society of Australasia to receive the Official Report of Captain H. C. Everill, Leader of the Society’s New Guinea Exploring Expedition.

A PUBLIC meeting in connection with the New South Wales Branch of the Geographical Society of Australasia was held in the Royal Society’s room, Elizabeth Street, yesterday afternoon. His Excellency the Governor presided, and in addition to a large audience of ladies and gentlemen, there were upon the platform Messrs. E. De Faur, Thompson, M.A. (Secretary to the Queensland Branch of the Society), Gerard (Hon Treasurer), Myring (Hon. Secretary), Sir Edward Strickland, K.C.B. (President), and other gentlemen. The principal business of the meeting was the hearing of an official summary of the results of the recent expedition to New Guinea, under the leadership of Captain Everill. A large sketch map of that island had been prepared, from the plottings of the explorers, by Mr. M. Gautschy, C.E., its measurement being 16 feet by 15, and the scale 4 miles to the inch, and the tracks of recent exploration parties were shown.

Lord Carrington excused himself from offering any lengthened remarks, on account of the long programme which was before him, and he called upon the Honorary Secretary, Mr. T. H. Myring, to read a paper which he had prepared, on “The aims of the Geographical Society.”

Mr. Myring having read his paper, His Excellency then said he would call upon Captain Everill to read his official report of the recent expedition, which was the principal business of the meeting.

EXPLORATION OF NEW GUINEA—CAPTAIN EVERILL’S REPORT.

ON Wednesday, June 10th, s.s. “Bonito” left Sydney in tow of the "Egmont" with part of the exploratory party on board, in charge of Mr. Hemsworth, Nautical Sub-leader. Drs. Haacke, Bernays, and Messrs. Senior and Vogan following with myself in the steamer "Wentworth." We left Sydney about 4.30 p.m. on Saturday, June 13th, the President, Sir E. Strickland, with the Administrative Council, and many of our friends being kind enough to see the last of us, and bid us God’s speed. Mr. Maiden, Hon. Secretary, accompanied us to Brisbane, partly in connection with the departure of the expedition, but mainly to assist in forming a new Branch of the Society in Brisbane, which I am glad to say is now successfully formed. After a rather rough voyage we arrived in Brisbane on Tuesday the 18th instant; the only notable event on the voyage being a stoppage of some time near the wreck of the steamer "Cahors." During our short stay in Brisbane, Mr. Maiden and myself called upon such members of the Queensland Ministry as were in town. We also were fortunate enough, through the kindness of the Postmaster-General, to obtain the free use of the Government telegraphs for the transmission of news to the Society. I here found, from the Nautical Sub-leader's report, that the "Bonito" had encountered very heavy weather on her passage, and was somewhat strained by a heavy sea striking her. However, on inspecting her I found the damage was apparently not sufficient to delay her voyage, and made arrangement for a temporary repair to enable her to proceed on the morrow, thus avoiding a delay here as the steamer to Thursday Island only connects once a fortnight. Accordingly the "Bonito" left Moreton Bay at 2 p.m. on the 17th, in tow of s.s. "Wentworth." Our party with the exception of Senior (who had joined the “Bonito” at Sandgate) leaving by the s.s. "Alexandra" some hours later. I must here take the opportunity of thanking the Queensland Government for their kindness and the assistance so freely accorded us during the progress of the expedition.

From Brisbane to Cooktown we had a pleasant voyage, the "Alexandra" taking the "Bonito" in tow from Townsville. At Cooktown we found the steamer "Advance," which the Queensland Government had kindly sent to convey us to the mouth of the river Aird. I saw Captain Williams the night we arrived, and found that he objected to go to the Aird, and he strongly recommended me to go elsewhere; but as my instructions did not permit my making such an alteration in the plans of the Council, I of course could not discuss the question; explaining that the Society had matured their plans and issued their instructions after considerable deliberation, and that I could not think of any deviation from the line laid down by them, unless I had the direct evidence of its impracticability from some one of local experience, which Captain Williams was unable to give me; his objections being principally founded on rumour, and not on practical experience. However, I telegraphed to the Society, but as the steamer left at daylight next morning could not get a reply. I also, on Captain Williams's request, put to paper what I had previously said.

We arrived at Thursday Island June 25th, went alongside the A. S. N. Company's hulk to coal and tranship provisions; but before doing this, in accordance with my instructions, I had the "Bonito" surveyed, and found that she required some repairs; the heavy tow, together with the high seas experienced between Sydney and Brisbane having strained her considerably. These repairs were effected under the survey of Captain Wilkie, Government Pilot, and Captain Dubbins of the "Elsea." While these repairs were proceeding, the scientific staff made what collections they could on Thursday and adjacent Islands. These collections, together with some sketches and photos, were duly forwarded to the Society before our departure, and I have learnt since our return that they were very good, some novelties having been found among them; so that it is satisfactory to know that our unavoidable detention was not time lost. While at Thursday Island I received a telegram from the President requesting me not to attempt the Aird River or to cross the Gulf of Papua. This telegram altering the whole plan of the expedition, and in fact forbidding me going eastward of the River Fly; but fortunately the Rev. Mr. McFarlane coming to Thursday Island enabled me to obtain his valuable advice and experience; and after some consultation with him and the Hon. Mr. John Douglas, I resolved to go up the river Fly, and to take the first large branch to the eastward. Mr. McFarlane, who was then on his way to the river Fly, kindly offering to assist me in obtaining interpreters, &c. This circumstance, together with that of Mr. Douglas who was also going to Kewei in the "Mavis," afforded us an excellent opportunity of going in company, and giving the Society the advantage of the report of a good clear start.

As a great deal has been written in the Press about our equipment of fire-arms, I may here state that the majority of the fire-arms sent by Messrs Hoffnung and Co. to Thursday Island were found unsuitable from various causes, and did not correspond with the copy I received from the Secretary of the President's order to that firm (the fire-arms not being selected by myself, or any opportunity of inspecting them having been given me before arrival at Thursday Island), so I called a survey on them, and such as were condemned I sent back to Sydney, and after considerable trouble, managed to replace them from Thursday Island, Cooktown, and Townsville. But when we left Thursday Island, our armament was quite complete in every respect, as per list, and Sub-leader's receipt forwarded to the Society, which I read.

List of Fire-arms.

8 Winchester repeating rifles,
3 Sniders,
6 Double-barrel fowling pieces,
1 Rook rifle,
5 Colt's improved revolvers (6 chambers),
13 Bull-dog revolvers (6 chambers),

with an abundance of cartridges and reloaders, with spare powder and shot.

These firearms were, I consider, quite sufficient for our party, consisting of twelve Europeans and twelve Malays.

The repairs, together with the difficulty of obtaining firearms, detained us on Thursday Island until July 14th; our party also here became one short—Mr. Broadbent returning to Sydney sick—and on leaving Thursday Island consisted of the following:—

Dr. Haacke, Chief Scientist (Zoology and Geology);
Dr. Bernays, M.D., and Botanist;
Mr. Hemsworth, Nautical Sub-leader;
Mr. Creagh, Land Sub-leader;
Mr. Froggart, Zoological Collector and Entomologist;
Mr. Bauerlin, Botanical Collector;
Mr. Senior, Surveyor and Explorer;
Mr. Shaw, Photographer and Explorer;
Mr. Vogan, Artist and Explorer;
Mr. McGechan, Engineer and Explorer;
Mr. Waddick, Seaman and Explorer;

and eleven Malays and one cook Cingalese, the Malay names being difficult to remember. Some of the most facetious of the party re-christened them by the following names, which will be found used in the narratives. Marco Polo, Barabas, Lucy, Scotch Lizzie, Anchises, Chandos, &c.

While in Thursday Island, we received every assistance from the Hon. Mr. John Douglas, and Mr. Bowden, of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co., was good enough to place their jetty at our disposal, besides assisting us in many other ways.

We left Thursday Island; I having arranged a rendezvous with the "Mavis" and "Mary" at Missionary Pass, it was intended that the "Advance" should tow the "Bonito," but an incident prevented it. But however, we all arrived at Missionary on July 17th, excepting the "Mavis," and next morning left for the Fly in tow of the "Advance." At noon the "Advance" cast us off at the mouth of the Fly, and we proceeded under steam, following the missionary lugger "Mary," and at 4 p.m. anchored off Neboo, taking our first hold of New Guinea soil. After anchoring, found the "Mavis," which, through the kindness of the Queensland Government and the Hon. John Douglas, had taken twenty tons of coal for our use, was on the other side of the island, and we made arrangements for getting her up next day.

Neboo, the first settlement made by the missionaries, is a large, low, sandy island, with an abundance of cocoa-nut and other palms growing on it. It does not appear to contain any regular inhabitants, but the natives from the neighbouring islands and villages come periodically to collect nuts and cut the nepa palm-leaves for roofing their houses. The missionary establishment is now moved from Neboo to Kewei. The anchorage is a deep channel between two islands, where a vessel can lie in smooth water. In the river, which is very wide here, a very nasty sea and swell is constantly experienced during the south-east monsoons. We remained at Neboo until Sunday morning, July 10th, when our squadron (now consisting of the "Mavis," "Mary," "Venture," and "Bonito") went over to Kewei, which is a village situated on the north side of the channel. After anchoring there, Messrs. Douglas, MacFarlane, Captain Cater, and myself, went on shore, taking four of the "Mavis" men with us. I intended to have landed a collecting party, but it was not considered wise to do so; the old chief, Duropa, having attacked the teachers of the mission a month or so previously, with a view of making bacon or "long pig" of them, wild pigs being uncommonly scarce that season. Mr. Douglas and myself landed first, and found a few natives completely naked, grouped in front of a large house, the principal of whom was an old white-headed man, intelligent looking, to whom Mr. Douglas, with his usual good nature, immediately gave a new suit of serge clothes, and assisted him to don them. This was hardly done, when up came Mr. MacFarlane, with Captain Cater, and to our great dismay we found that we had made friends with the wrong man, and that it was the chief "cannibal himself" that we had been making "chums" with. We remained on shore the rest of the day, and walked through the villages and plantations, seeing some curious looking graves, and some remarkably fine sago palms. The natives did not strike me as being particularly friendly. We saw no women; all the houses on Duropa's side of the creek being closed up, and the men and women had gone to another village on the approach of our vessels, but I distinctly heard the voices of women in suppressed tones inside the houses.

Kewei consists of two villages, separated by a salt-water creek. The natives on the east side of the creek (which is bridged by a method peculiar to the Malay countries) being far more friendly than those on the west. There appears to be no fresh water near the village. We intended to have landed some coal here, and to have formed a dépôt, but the sea and surf were too heavy to attempt it, and we concluded to make the dépôt at Sumanti, the next large river further up, and after finishing our business here. We left Kewei for Sumanti at noon, 20th July, the "Mary" going back to Thursday Island, and the "Mavis" accompanying us. We anchored off the village about 4 p.m., and when about to land discovered that by some mistake no interpreters had been brought. Sumanti lies at the mouth of a creek, at the edge of which we saw a number of natives waving a white flag. I landed with four Europeans and four Malays of my own party, armed, and found the natives exceedingly friendly, and after distributing some presents among them returned on board. We remained here landing coal and spare stores until July 23rd, and the scientific staff collecting. We found the natives very docile and friendly on the whole, Mr. Douglas especially succeeding in gaining their friendship and I may say affection. After the departure of the "Mavis," I succeeded in obtaining the services of three Papuans, viz., Korossa, Atar, and Gesau, who have since attained considerable notoriety throughout the world. I left Sumanti the same afternoon about four hours after the "Mavis," and pushed up the river as rapidly as possible, my object being to get up the river while the party were fresh, and before sickness attacked us. We found little difficulty in getting through the islands at the north of the river, and clearly made out the passage at the north end of the Kewei, hitherto not named, and which I purpose naming Griffiths Channel; the north-west point of Kewei, C. Dickson; and keeping the whale-boat ahead sounding, we reached the main banks of the river Fly on Saturday, July 25th, naming the point to the southward, which is a good distinguishing mark, and the first point that you can get between the regular banks, Fortescue Point. Here are two or three large villages on the south side of the river, but the water was too shallow on that side to go close in; so standing across to the north side of the river, we found a deeper channel. The right or north bank of the river here appears to form another entrance from the sea farther to the eastward. This entrance I have named the McIlwraith Channel, in commemoration of the first annexation of New Guinea by the McIlwraith Ministry. We now steamed between the main banks of this river. The river here is wide, and there are at least two deep-water channels, but also a number of shoals and sand-banks. The trees are very high and the foliage is luxuriant. In places on the left bank are numbers of cocoa-nut and banana plantations. We also began to get among the pandarus, and a very bright green tree, commonly known as the fresh water mangrove. We saw no signs of natives on the north side, excepting a bridge across a creek. The greater portion of the country appeared very swampy, and the banks are only just out of the reach of high water. We passed on the north side two lots of red cliffs, forming small hills forty feet high. One of these corresponds with D'Alberti's Howling Place. Passing through the Fairfax Group, which is formed of small islands almost under water, very thickly wooded with high trees, we anchored for the night; next morning we proceeded up the river, meeting the same kind of scenery, low banks, covered in places with the fresh-water mangrove, and again we found the banks ten and fourteen feet high in detached and broken places, and composed of red clay. We also came across immense numbers of flying foxes. We saw no signs of permanent houses, but the remains of temporary shelters, and the only sign of human life was a solitary canoe made fast into the bank. Animal life was well represented by black cockatoos, numerous pigeons, hornbills, small green parrots, lorrykeets, with plenty of swallows and smaller birds. The banks of the river were a little higher (in places), and had been cleared in places, now overgrown with coarse grass and bamboo, the remains of native houses. We found very deep water, seven and eight fathoms, no bottom. The weather was squally, with showers and strong south-east winds blowing. Higher up the river, as we neared the Ellengowan Island, the banks appeared covered in places with a species of long reeds or grass, of the same family as sugar-cane; and wherever these appear there is generally a mud or sand-flat extending a little way from the shore. We went round the north side of Ellengowan Island, and on getting to the west of it, saw a village on the south side, but did not stop. Above Ellengowan Island, the birds appear to become scarcer; but in some places the trees were literally black with (lying foxes, hanging like pears on a tree. The vegetation appears the same, but there are no signs of cocoa-nuts to be found here; and from the masthead the country presents a more open appearance. The river above Ellengowan Island is not nearly so straight as it is below, it winds in almost complete circles, so that progress up country was much slower here. Alligator tracks are very numerous, the country generally low and swampy, and very few birds about. We did not see any natives for a considerable distance, until we saw a canoe round a point ahead, with some men, apparently drawing their bows. We stationed our party to act on the defensive, and held out a large table-cloth as a sign of friendship. On rounding the point we found a large number of canoes full of men, who kept pulling ahead, close into the bank, until they entered a small creek. On both sides of the river there were a large number of low houses, roofed in a very primitive manner, and standing about four feet high; these houses were apparently abandoned by everybody excepting one man, who extended his arms, evidently to show that he was not armed, and was friendly disposed. He was black, and perfectly nude, excepting the usual shell, which the Sumautese call "We-der-ow." The creek that the canoes had entered we found connected with the river round a small grassy island. I did not stop to communicate with these natives; but as we passed them I saw several of them in the trees watching us, and when we had passed by, the canoes came out of the creek again, apparently greatly relieved at our not having molested them. We now found the country altering a great deal. The outstretching spits were now more sandy than before, and the country appeared more open; grassy plains stretching to the westward, where I could also see several lagoons inland, and to the north-west there appeared higher land thickly wooded. About 4.30 p.m. on the same day, July 28th, we came to a junction of the river, one arm going north-east and the other north-west. On the east point of this junction, where the sand spit extended, it was completely covered with large logs of drift-wood, forming, in fact, a complete timber stack. I carefully examined both branches, and finding a strong current and large logs of wood drifting down the north-east branch, determined upon ascending that river, it lying in the direction the Society wished to explore. This branch joins the Fly in latitude 7 degrees 34 minutes south, longitude 141 degrees 21 minutes east; I named this the Strickland River, in honour of Sir E. Strickland, President of the Administrative Council of this Society, and Chairman of the Melbourne Geographical Conference, at which the New Guinea Expedition was decided upon. We upon the voyage wondered why this river was not noticed in Mr. Hargrave’s notes concerning the exploration of the river Fly {vide vol. i. of the Society’s proceedings), and unfortunately had no copy of D’Alberti’s work with us; but since returning I have read his work on New Guinea, and find in vol. ii., page 260, that he discovered this opening, and says in his account of his third voyage:—“For half our voyage the river appeared to be of the same breadth, but after we had passed a large opening, which occurs on the right bank, in a north-easterly direction, and which I must confess I do not remember observing last year, it becomes much narrower, and runs between two banks covered with grass. I think the opening we saw to-day may be the river Alice, which, after leaving the Fly River at Snake Point, returns here. I intend on our return to explore it” (which, however, he never did). I may here say that, on our return, we ascended the Fly for two and a half hours twelve minutes, and found the country above the junction much as D’Albertis describes it, and the Fly taking a westerly, and even a west-south-westerly direction; and even the country on the south side of the Fly and that on the east side of the Strickland River differ greatly in my opinion. Ascending the Strickland River we stopped one day for collecting and cutting fire-wood; and proceeding upwards found the current getting much stronger, and at first we saw no signs of natives. The sand-spits became more numerous, and the sand is of a darker colour. A little higher up we again began to pass native shelters, and some small canoes. In the bends of the river there were many large logs of drift timber stranded; also many large snags stationary in the middle of the channel, now easily kept clear of as they were in sight. But they would have proved very dangerous if the river had been a few feet higher. Still higher up, the banks began to rise a little, and the trees and vegetation changed. The river is constantly changing its channel; one side continually being washed away, while a bank is forming on the other; and in places the water appears to have cut a new channel, and formed comparatively large islands in the middle of the river, with the stream running on both sides. The newly-formed land is covered in some places with a short bright green grass; in others with long reeds. The red cliffs also occur again in small hillocks, 25 to 40 feet high. They are formed of red and yellow ochre; the side facing the river generally being steep, and almost perpendicular; and it appears as if the water had literally cut its way through them. The other side presents the usual flat bank, with brown alluvial soil, and is thickly wooded with forest trees. These hills occur very frequently, and wherever found the river makes a broad circuit and comes up with them again after some distance has been traversed. We now found the native shelters and abandoned houses becoming more plentiful; and, though we saw no natives we heard them, and also heard their dogs howling. The level of the river we found to be rapidly rising, the current getting stronger, and its direction more circuitous. We continued to ascend the river, stopping in the forenoon to collect and take observations, still passing the same scenery; but the rain squalls were now left behind, and the air became clearer. At 8 a.m. on Sunday, August 2nd, on rounding a bend, a change of scenery took place; a grassy flat appearing ahead, and to the westward of us the country appeared more open from E.N.E. to S.E., and a little further up I found that the river formed a large circle, and branched to the E.S.E. and N.N.E. I kept to the easterly one, as it turned to the north a little higher up; but the other branch (which I have since named the Service River) will, I think be found to connect with the river Fly at Snake Point, opposite the junction of the Alice River—in fact that south-south-easterly branch which D'Albertis speaks of. The river now got much more difficult to navigate, on account of the large snags in the middle of the stream. The water constantly undermining the concave bank, when the freshets come down very large portions of the bank are washed away, leaving the trees in the middle of the river, where they lodge, and in places almost form rapids. For instance, we passed close here some enormous trees grounded in 45 feet of water, and forming a fence of snags in two or three places right across the river, leaving barely room for the "Bonito" to steer between them. A few miles above Service Junction we saw some canoes full of people, who at first showed a hostile front, but, as we approached nearer, deserted their canoes and took to the jungle. I showed a white flag, and made friendly signs, but without effect, and landing a party tried to communicate but did not succeed in assuring them of our friendly intentions. I left them some presents of cloth, tomahawks, tobacco, beads, &c., and selecting some articles from their canoes, which were very full of their household goods, proceeded on our voyage. The current was now getting too strong for us to stem when burning a mixture of wood and coal, as we had been doing for some days, and we had to burn all coal to get steam enough to make headway at all. On Monday, August 3rd, our first and only serious brush with the natives occurred. Early in the morning we saw a number of canoes on a sand-spit, and on approaching, finding some of the natives standing their ground, I took the dingy, and with two Malays, pulled for the shore, standing up in the boat with my arms outstretched to give them confidence, and to show that I was not armed. I landed, thinking that the fact of my being unarmed and distributing presents among them, would perhaps gain their friendship and confidence, but I soon found myself placed in a very critical position; the natives increasing in numbers, and coming up in full war paint, brandishing their weapons, and some of them pointing their arrows at me. In fact, the only way I prevented them from shooting was by walking towards such of them as appeared the most hostile, and assuming an unconcern which I confess I was far from feeling. I remained on shore perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes and thought myself very lucky in getting off with a whole skin. The story of the attack afterwards made is fully written in my journal, and all I will here say of the matter is, that finding it impossible to communicate with them I steamed up the river, the natives following along the banks. On nearing the bend we saw a village which the natives made for. Seeing them hostile, I blew the steam whistle, which they did not appear to mind. They now mustered eighty to one hundred fighting men (there were only forty-six when I interviewed them on shore), and seeing them make preparations to fire I called the man in from leading, and sent the Malay off the bridge, taking the wheel myself. In less time than it takes to relate we were saluted with a perfect shower of arrows, some striking and some going over the vessel; luckily none of us being hit. I reluctantly gave the order to fire, and they were dispersed after some shots. The same afternoon we grounded on the first hard bottom we had met with in the river, and being only about four miles miles from the village, were placed in a very dangerous position. Finding the water leaving us rapidly, with a view to meet any emergency, after landing the coal, &c., to lighten the vessel, I had a clearing made, and built the framework of a house, intending to make a permanent dépôt there in case of the water not rising, or in the event of anything happening to the "Bonito." The clearing was made, and the house ready for roofing when, on August 8th, the water rose, and the "Bonito" was afloat again. Taking in the stores again as quickly as possible, we proceeded up the river. We named this reach "Douglas Bend," after the Hon. John Douglas, C.M.G. The bed of the river is here composed of hard large shingle, and the current is so rapid that it is impossible to stem it with a boat. Just above where we stranded we found a passage with only eight feet of water on it during the freshets. Proceeding onwards, the river began to get much shallower, in places giving barely water enough for the "Bonito" to steam over, and a hard shingle bottom formed the bed of the river, with no anchorage for the rest of our voyage. The red cliffs became more numerous, and increased in height as we got further up. At 5 p.m. on August 9th, we came to a dead stop, the river dividing, and neither channel containing enough water for us. Here we remained fourteen days before the water rose and enabled us to proceed further up. During this time we explored and collected round this neighbourhood, and made an attempt to cut our way into the interior, but did not succeed in getting more than ten miles. While here, also, our three Sumantese, Korossa, Gesau, and Atau, deserted us. As it has been stated that we were massacred in our sleep, and no watch was kept (although on whose authority I do not know), I may say that the Doctor and one Malay were on watch, and awake too when the wily Papuans left. We had established a camp some distance from the vessel, and meant to try and cut inland from there, when, on August 23rd the waters again rose, and we steamed further up. On August 24th and 25th we again cut inland in hopes of seeing the mountains, and attained a position of 250 feet high, by climbing a tree on the top of a hill, but could find no trace of highland or clear country. We proceeded further up the river, searching vainly for the mountains, until we finally grounded, on August 27th, where, as has already been related, the "Bonito", remained until October 21st. But not without incident, for on the 31st instant, the gravel washing away from under her caused a capsize, and it was only by the great exertions of the party that the provisions were landed, and most likely a great disaster averted, the capsize taking place in the middle of the night, and the vessel filling with water almost immediately. The conduct of the party on this occasion is deserving of the highest praise. After this we housed all our stores on shore, half of us camping and half remaining on board. In the midst of our troubles we had a visit from hostile natives, who luckily were dispersed without bloodshed. After righting the "Bonito", drying and housing our stores, we again tried to cut inland, but found too many difficulties in the way to hope for any success in gaining the mountains in that way; so after two or three preliminary excursions in which we could find no definite traces of mountains or open country, I organized a boat expedition, and on September 16th, left Mr. Hemsworth in command on board the "Bonito", with the following party:—

Dr. Bernays, in charge of sick, which numbered seven.
Senior, sick.
Vogan, sick.
Bauerlin, to continue his collecting.
McGechan, engineer.
Malays—Mandore, sick, boil and fever.
Carpenter, cut his leg half through with an axe.
Barabas, foot injured.
Fireman, ditto.
Anchises, fever and unsound.
Lous, cook, troubled with fever and not fit for hard work.

We broke up the camp on shore, having previously built a house for the provisions under the bank where it was covered by the rifles of the "Bonito."

The whale-boat party consisted of Dr. Haacks, Messrs. Froggart, Shaw, Creagh (Sub-leader), Waddick, six Malays—the only sound ones at my disposal—and myself.

We named our station here "Observatory Bend;" it is in lat. 6" 38' 30" S. long. 142° E. Our boat contained tents, trade, instruments, &c., and with ten days' provisions, twelve men, sails, awning, &c., was fully laden, in fact too crowded for convenience. It being my intention to try and discover the position of the mountains, and failing to do that to ascend the river as far as possible.

Accordingly we proceeded on the morning of the 16th, sometimes using the oars in the slack water reaches, but mostly six or eight hands wading through the water tracking or towing the boat with a rope over the sharp stones. We frequently had to cross and recross the river, sometimes to cut away snags to get the boat through, the river becoming more difficult if possible every mile we ascended; even if the "Bonito" had not been stranded she could not have got two miles further up the river. The Red Hills becoming more frequent and rising in altitude as we ascended, but still of the same formation, excepting that the lower strata is very much honeycombed and of a duller colour. The birds were represented by parrots, hornbills, many and various descriptions of pigeons, including the Goura or crested pigeon, night herons, eaglets, swifts, swallows, cockatoos white and black, many varieties of king-fishers and king-hunters, small insect and honey-eating birds, cassowaries, oriels, and occasionally we have heard the note of the bird of Paradise. We had not yet seen any four-footed animals in New Guinea, and only tracks of pigs, and some which we afterwards found to be those of bandicoots and rats. There were many tracks of alligators, which caused me considerable anxiety, as our men were in the water fully three-quarters of the day. Also, we found many tracks of river turtle, but although we frequently tried the river with fishing-lines we caught nothing, and even by dynamiting all the likely places we only got a few cat-fish and some smaller species resembling minnows. There were many descriptions of non-edible wild fruits, including a large variety of figs, a species of bread-fruit just fruiting, which afterwards proved an excellent article of food; the sago palm appears to nourish everywhere about here, as we found it in more or less quantities through-out our journey. Tree ferns also began to get plentiful; but I leave the details of these important subjects to be treated by the special scientists who accompanied the Expedition, and to proceed on our journey. The river must have been unusually low even for the dry season when we ascended it, and is very noticeable here from the immense gravel wastes or circuit of shingle and stone that was now exposed to view from the low state of the water; in places there being a distance of 1 to 2 miles between the banks proper of the river; the intervening space being filled with the dry beds of the river, and small islands formed by the deposits of sand and silt, some of those islands being thickly wooded. In another place the river runs between two stacks or neatly piled heaps of large stone or shingle, as level and neatly stacked as if placed by hand, and in these places, nearly always forming a rapid, the water rising its level very fast, that sometimes on looking over the narrow ledge we were tracking the boat along we found the water to be 10 and 12 feet lower than where our boat was floating, giving it the appearance of a lock-gate only being parallel with the river instead of crossing it. This is of course caused by the channel being blocked or blind, and the water having the same level as the lower water-level of the rapid. In some places these rapids were very difficult of ascent.[1] One place notably, we were twelve of us one hour and twenty minutes in the water holding on to the boat, scarcely gaining anything, the stones shifting and washing away from under our feet with such force that sometimes the bow of the boat was afloat and the stern high and dry with the force of the current washing or wedging the stones under her. It was only with the utmost difficulty that we could prevent the boat from obtaining the mastery: for the bow to have moved round one point of the compass meant to us the loss of arms, ammunition, food, boat, and everything else, and this at a distance of 70 miles from the depôt was at least serious. The ascent in the whale-boat proved very trying work to the party, made as it was under a tropical sun directly overhead, our latitude and the sun's declination being almost approximate. These gravel wastes or circles form natural reservoirs, and during the rainy season are of course full of water, and must form quite lakes or lagoons whenever freshets come down the river. We ascended thus for seven days without much change of scenery, during which time we saw no natives, but passed plenty of shelters, and occasionally the recent foot-prints of small parties, and although the red hills got higher as we ascended, they still kept the east side of the river, and we could not see the mountains. The channels becoming narrower, and snags more awkward and numerous as we advanced, making it very difficult to prevent the boat being stove.

On September 22nd, after coming up a long straight reach, we dropped upon a recent camp of natives on a gravel spit where the river makes a junction and receives a large tributary apparently directly from the mountains. I think they must have taken the boat for some new animal seeking to devour them, for they fled on first sighting us, leaving everything behind them, even to their fire-sticks. This tributary goes to the north-north-east, while the main river takes a westerly bend. I name this the Carrington Junction, and the river the Cecilia River, named in honor of Lady Carrington.

To me the deposit of stone and sand coming from this river differs somewhat from that of the Strickland. There appeared to be more of the lignite or coal mixed with the stone, and the magnetic iron-sand was much purer and heavier. Much as I should have liked to examine the Cecilia I had to keep to the main stream; and leaving a large present close to the food the natives had abandoned, and planting a red ensign on a pole, we proceeded.

About here, there must be at times immense bodies of water coming down. There are a number of dry channels to be seen, looking like roads cut through the high forest trees; they are almost as straight and regular as if made by the hands of man; from 80 to 200 yards wide, and many of them contain a fall of, I should think, 1 in 100 feet.

Soon after passing this junction we saw many signs of human life, and passed some houses and a very primitive raft. I was also pleased to see the hills, which hitherto have only appeared on the east side, are now to be found on both sides, the river now cutting right through them.

The land here is swampy; back from the river and in the gulleys close to the hills the sago palm appears very plentiful, and there are also plenty of natives hereabouts. The level of the river is also rising very rapidly; it has quite become a case of getting upstairs to ascend the rapids at all. I should estimate a rise of 30 feet in the water-level in half a mile in some places.

The current was so strong that we had to use a number of devices to ascend, and the snags outlying from the banks made it very dangerous; the current rushing over and round them made it appear like a series of boiling whirlpools and breakers, and in many places we had to pass a long rope under the snags up the river, and make it fast to a snag or tree in the bank, then sheer the boat outside or between the snags, and haul up foot by foot, fleeting the rope again and again until we came to easier ground.

But on the afternoon of Thursday, September 21th, on rounding a point we were rewarded by the sight of a low range of hills about 1,000 feet high, over which was a complete view of two distinct ranges of mountains, the nearer one perhaps 50 miles,[2] and the farther one 80. The river now became straighter, and ran between high steep banks, or rather a series of small hills. I estimated we were about 18 miles from the lowest range of hills, and between us and their base the country formed a series of low hill-ranges 200 to 300 foot high, gradually increasing in height as they went north.

We were now nine days from our depôt, and our provisions were nearly finished, part of them having been spoiled by the boat getting stove as we ascended a rapid; but determining to reach the hills we pushed very hard during the ensuing three days, and finally reached the base of the hills on Sunday, September 27th, twelve days after leaving the "Bonito." The river about here presents a most beautiful appearance; in one place, for instance, a long, straight reach, with the hills rising in places perpendicularly 300 feet from the river, which is about 50 to 60 feet wide, and flows with great force through the gully or funnel formed by the high banks, which are covered with beautiful trees on the top, and even their steep sides are covered with plants and vegetation, among which, flowering creepers, ground orchids, ferns, and tree-ferns are numerous. The country appears to be comparatively thickly populated. We passed a number of houses and clearings, and a great many very small canoes. But the natives about here appear to be a very timid race; had they been hostile they might easily have done us considerable damage, without our even seeing them; as it was we ascended expecting a shower of arrows every minute; but instead of attacking us they fled from their houses at our approach, and the only one we caught sight of was of a light copper-colour, well made, and clean-limbed, and ornamented with the usual shell. We did not attempt to enter their houses on the way up, but left presents on the banks opposite the houses; but on coming down, on examining them, found the houses had all been deserted for some days, and the presents untouched.

On arriving at the base of the highest range of hills our provisions were finished, excepting one meal and a little Liebeg's extract, so necessity compelled almost immediate return. However, Dr. Haacke, Mr. Shaw, and myself, with three Malays and two dogs, commenced the ascent of what we thought to be the highest hill, and were lucky enough to gain a ridge or spur, which we followed over one hill 310 feet high, and from there ascended another 460 feet, where, as Dr. Haacke wished to return, I sent a Malay back with him, and proceeding with Shaw and the others gained the top of the hill, which the aneroid showed to be 750 feet; but to our great disgust we found that other hills still higher obscured our view to the N.W. and N.N.E., and as it was near sunset we had to return. We were fortunate enough to get down all right and reached the camp one hour after sunset, completely done up, rifle, revolver, axe, &c., being a very heavy handicap for hill-climbing on short commons.

I estimated the highest position reached to be latitude 5' 30" S., longitude 142° 22' E. Unfortunately we had very heavy thunderstorms at night while up here, which prevented good observations being taken; but I have a very fair position, taken from a native house, marked on plan, taken on Monday, September 28th, on our homeward journey.

The country hereabouts, and right as far as we could see to the northwards, is composed of undulating hills, very heavily wooded, which appear to go as far as the Von Mueller Range. The further range we saw was very high indeed, and I think considerably above snow-level. This range will in all probability turn out to be the northern coastal range.

The lower hills will I think be found admirably adapted for growing coffee, cinchona, cocoa, gutta, and other valuable tropical productions, while the lower alluvial lands cannot fail to produce rice and other grain.[3] But the report of Baron von Mueller, when he has classified the botanical specimens, will be an invaluable proof of the nature of the soil and its probable value for future plantations. I also expect some valuable timber will be found among the forty specimens that we have brought back, and which as yet are not classified. I look upon the botanical collection as perhaps the most valuable work done on the Expedition.

On Monday, 28th, about 10 a.m., we commenced our return, collecting a few ethnological specimens on the way down, and arrived safely at Bonito Depôt, Observatory Bend, on the night of 29th, and found all well there. I intended to have ascended the river again, but the health of the party would not allow it, most of the river party being laid up after our return. That circumstance, together with the dangerous position of the vessel, decided me to do all that was possible in the way of collecting until the water rose, and then to commence our return journey, stopping and giving as much time to the collectors as circumstances would permit. Keeping in mind my instructions, and the necessity of catching the steamer leaving Thursday Island November 21st. This I adhered to; and as time and space does not permit me to detail our homeward journey, I will briefly state that we left Observatory Bend, October 25th, leaving one Malay buried there, and the health of the party far from good at that time, safely journeying down the Strickland River with a few adventures, meeting far more natives than we had supposed lived on the river. On one occasion, in a thickly populated place, which I estimate contained 2,000 natives, what threatened to be a serious tragedy was turned into a comedy by our blowing the Syren whistle, which on that occasion certainly saved the lives of a great number of natives and perhaps of some of our own party; but proceeding, we left Strickland Junction, November 9th, Sumarti, November 15th, Mouth of the Fly, November 18th, and arrived at Thursday Island at 10.30 a.m. on November 28th (up to time). On arrival there, finding a relief party had gone to our assistance, on consulting with the lion. J. Douglas, we despatched a lugger with Mr. Senior in charge to recall them. Mr. Senior earnestly requested this duty might be allotted to him, which I did on the Doctor's assurance that it would in all probability benefit his health, which was far from good, and was not likely to stop or impede his recovery. It is only fair to the rest of the party to say that there were plenty of other volunteers for that service.

We left Thursday Island on November 21st, in tow of s.s. "Alexandra," and arrived in Sydney on December 3rd, all well, and on behalf of the Exploratory Party I beg to return our most hearty thanks for the very generous and cordial reception we received from the Society and public, and also for the kind and deep interest felt for us when we were supposed to be in trouble.

In conclusion, I also report that the Expedition was entirely dependent on its own resources. I was scarcely able to supplement our provisions at all, game of all kinds being very scarce, and extremely shy. It was from first to last conducted on temperance principle, no stimulants being taken as stores excepting as medical comforts. I hold the opinion that any hard work can be performed just as well without alcohol as with it.

Quinine was also taken by all the party daily from the time we left Thursday Island until we returned there, but even that did not prevent our suffering rather severely from fever, as four of the Europeans were dangerously ill, but there is no doubt in my mind that it was extremely beneficial in staving off malaria: and finally, in conducting the Expedition, I have endeavoured to follow out my line of instruction as well as I could, and to keep in mind the duty I owed to this Society, the members of the Expedition, and the natives of the country we were sent to explore, and can at least congratulate myself that no serious complication with the natives arose at all, and I think other parties that may follow in our footsteps will benefit from any communications we had with the native tribes.


Captain Everill was heartily cheered at the conclusion of his address, and His Excellency the Chairman invited discussion.

Mr. Mann said that, after having carefully examined the map, and having listened to the leader's remarks, he was inclined to think that the country which had been traversed was a series of deltas or islands. Possibly, also, the Aird River might unite with the Strickland. It was very probable that future explorations would bear out this idea.

Dr. Belgrave thought that Captain Everill might well be congratulated upon the success of the expedition. (Hear, hear.) He was only away some four months, and about three thousand specimens were collected, in addition to exploration work and its attendant risks. He had discovered, amongst other things, most valuable and extensive cedar forests, and also a site for what might prove a city, from whence the interior of the island might be explored. The expedition was a success, and it well repaid the money and the labour which had been expended, and he heartily congratulated the leader and his party. It would be, in his (Dr. Belgrave's) opinion, a mistake to continue sending expeditions, and he advocated the formation of settlements. (Hear, hear.) Some central settlement could be made, for instance, not far from the junction of the Strickland and the Fly Rivers. He would like to be informed whether any communication had been received from Mr. Stockdale with reference to an expedition.

Sir Edward Strickland said that he had recently received a communication from that gentleman, but he had not yet perused it, and until he had done so no answer could be given.

Mr. Thompson, the Secretary of the Queensland Branch of the Society thought that thanks were due to Captain Everill, for many reasons; not the least of which was the establishment of friendly relationships with the natives, and the saving of white men's lives. He disagreed with Dr. Belgrave, and believed that the time was not yet ripe for the establishment of a central depôt. The Society and the public now had an idea of what was really required to explore a tropical country like Now Guinea, and the knowledge would be of extreme benefit in future. He suggested that in succeeding expeditions there should be fewer Europeans and more Malays. When discontent commenced in a party it was like a cancer, and ate its way into the heart of the enterprise. He felt certain that the world in general would hereafter thank Captain Everill and those who had formed the expedition. (Cheers.) He had much pleasure in moving that the Society's hearty thanks be accorded to them.

Mr. Du Faur seconded the proposition, and it was carried unanimously.

Sir Edward Strickland, on behalf of the members of the Society, then presented Captain Everill with an illuminated address, which had been signed by the various officers, and was inscribed to the leader and the members of the party. He briefly alluded to the value of geographical research, and highly eulogized the efforts of the explorers. He expressed the hope that the expedition would be supplemented by others, and that the public would benefit greatly thereby. The present one had shown how future trips might be carried out more economically. Ho looked upon the work as a very gallant one (Lord Carrington: Hear, hear), and he hoped that one and all would join in congratulating Captain Everill and his comrades upon having done their duty to their country and to those who had employed them. (Cheers.)

Captain Everill cordially acknowledged the gift, and he referred to the sincere feelings of thankfulness which he and each of his party had experienced, and had expressed, for the assistance which had been offered upon the occasion of the rumour of their massacre. He quoted from a letter from the Hon. John Douglas, in which an absolute denial was given to a rumour, that had emanated from Cooktown, to the effect that ingratitude had been shown.

Sir E. Strickland, as the President of the Society, made a few remarks with respect to the advantages of geographical knowledge; and he suggested the advisability of efforts being made to obtain copies of apparatus, &c., similar to that which was exhibited in London in connection with the study of this branch of knowledge. He felt satisfied that the Government would not ignore an appeal if it were made to them for assistance in this respect. (Hear, hear.)

A vote of thanks was unanimously accorded to His Excellency for having presided, and the proceedings were terminated about 6 p.m.


Picturesque New Guinea - Appendix 2 end fleuron.png

  1. N.B.—We always had to get into the water, and drag and carry the boat over.
  2. Von Mueller range.
  3. Good sugar country.