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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Roe, Captain John Septimus

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Roe, Captain John Septimus, R.N., sometime Surveyor-General, Western Australia, was born in 1797, and entering; the navy, accompanied Captain Phillip King in his expedition to survey the north and north-west coasts of the continent of Australia in 1818, and was a member of King's fourth expedition in 1821. He was one of the founders of Western Australia, going out as surveyor with Governor Stirling on the Parmelia, and landing on Garden Island with the pioneer party on June 1st, 1829. He took part in nearly every exploring expedition sent forth in that colony. He started from York in Sept. 1848 with a party of six persons, eleven horses, and provisions for four months. In Oct. they reached the Pallinup, the last water crossed by Eyre, and steering north-east, crossed several good streams. Then succeeded dense scrubs, dry watercourses, and salt lakes till they reached the Bremer range. No better view could be obtained from the Fitzgerald Peaks at a thousand feet above the level of the plains. A retreat to the south towards Mount Ridley showed no better country. Four days and three nights they were without water, and the flashes of the Aurora Australia added to the horrors of the scene. Still struggling to attain the Russell mountains, cutting their way with axes through thickets fifteen feet high, they at length reached the range in lat. 38° 27', and found further progress impossible. The party returned by Esperance Bay. On the Phillips river they found extensive coal deposits, and on Feb. 2nd returned to Perth, after an exploration of eighteen hundred miles. Roe is styled by Australian writers the "father of modern explorers." Mrs. Roe, who accompanied her husband to Western Australia in 1829, died on July 22nd, 1870. Captain Roe, who was Surveyor-General of Western Australia for forty-two years, died at Perth, in that colony, on May 28th, 1878.