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Tracks of McKinlay and party across Australia/Results of recent exploration of interior Australia

< Tracks of McKinlay and party across Australia



We have now some reliable knowledge of the character of the interior of Australia. The features of the vast expanse seem latterly to have improved upon every successive acquaintance we have been enabled to make with them. We may at length conclude, in a gathering up of all our data, that the Empire possesses in Australia a very much larger territory available for the use of its people than was supposed to be the case several years ago. Then where is and what is the great Desert—that arid waste supposed to comprise the greater part of this interior space? Is it a phantom that has at length been dispelled? and were all the toils and sufferings of Sturt a mere imagination? By no means; for the "hot wind" that is still, with more or less of fiery-breath, wafted down every summer to the south and south-eastern coasts proclaims that the arid region still exists, and still can make its existence known at many hundreds of miles distance.

The Desert is there still, but we have now gained a somewhat different view of its character. Lying to the south of the latitude of the centre is a wide sub-tropical region, comprising that part of the Australian continent which presents in the widest range of its extremes the irregularities of the country's very peculiar climate. Remote alike on one side from the moderating tropical rains, on the other from the equalizing influences of the sea, destitute of high mountain chains and extensive forests to draw down and retain moisture, the whole expanse is virtually a naked plain, basking under a semitropical sun. The rain supply is in the main inadequate for so warm and exposed a country; besides that it is of capricious occurrence; the evaporative force, therefore, is mostly in the ascendant, and the high winds that often scour the vast and open expanse acquire their dry and hot character as they pass over the dessicated country. Meteorological conditions cause these hot winds to blow towards the southern seas, where they are at length arrested, changed in their character, or destroyed by the supply of moisture they take up. The colonies to the south and south-east, namely, South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales are thus in the direct route of these winds, and exposed to their full force. To these colonies they come usually as the climax to some days or weeks of preceding hot and dry weather, and they are as usually the precursors of a change of this weather—of cool southerly winds and rain.

These dry hot winds are due, then, to a region which is in general deficient in moisture and water surface, and which, at the same time, lies under a powerful sun. This usual condition is subject to occasional aggravation from unusual drought; occasionally, too, on the other hand, from an unusual rainfall this arid condition of the country is entirely, although but temporarily reversed. The result in this latter case is a rapid and wonderful change, alike in the country's aspect and in the character of its climate. Wherever there is a soil, the moist ground, fostered by the warm and now genial air, is promptly covered with vegetation; even the slopes of the sand hills sprout out with flowers; life teems forth in air, earth, and water. The hot winds are sensibly modified, and, if the rainfall is general, they are even entirely suspended. The colonies adjacent experience promptly the effect of these extremes of change that take place in the large and problematical area behind them, whose condition is at all times so important to their respective climates. Thus they occasionally enjoy an unusually cool season, as they occasionally also at other times suffer one that is unusually hot.

It does so happen that our accounts of the Australian interior as received from its various explorers are chequered by these very extremes. Several of the principal expeditions happened to have been undertaken in seasons presenting one or other of these extremes. The summer of 1844-5, during which Sturt was repulsed from the Desert, was one of great and unusual drought, as we ourselves well recollect with reference to the colony of Victoria, where scarcely a drop of rain fell during the four months from December to April. On the other hand, the season of 1861-2 was unusually moist and cool. In Victoria this season was considered to be the wettest the colonists had experienced in the country. This was the season in which Landsborough careered through the interior—that dry and thirsty land of Gregory and Sturt—almost as though it had been one universal grass park; and in which McKinlay found his difficulties to arise, not, as with Sturt and Gregory, from drought and arid waste, but from water.

The water supply is, indeed, the key to the whole question. This sub-tropical area, with all its precarious climate, is yet not to be accounted the mere desert that Sturt has impressed upon our minds; but neither is it to be depended on as the blooming, well-watered surface of later explorers. It may be urged, indeed, to its disadvantage that, as the country is liable to such extremes of condition, the bloom of one favourable season will hardly compensate to life and property for the uninhabitable waste that may be caused by its unfavourable successor. We are reminded of the saying that the strength of a whole cable is just that of its weakest link; and so a practical Australian squatter who ventures himself and his live stock into the far interior, may prudently interpret the country by its worst seasons. Mitchell in the year 1846 describes the district of the Upper Barcoo, or Victoria, as a grassy scene, similar to that which had captivated Landsborough in his course somewhat further westward and northward; but Kennedy in the very next year, as well as Gregory in 1858, found these verdant lawns of the Victoria only a dessicated waste; and now again in 1862 we learn that the country thereabouts is once more luxuriantly clothed, and beautiful as the "plains of promise." From this chequered scene, however, we can turn with re-assurance to the results of Stuart's expeditions. Having accomplished three successful journeys across Australia during three successive years, we have some guarantee as to the permanent features around at least one great dividing line of the interior country.

We are warranted in concluding that this vast interior Australia is habitable and available enough in its ordinary, or average seasons. The question remains with the occasional seasons of extreme drought. One such occurred, as we have seen, in 1844-5; another, six years later, the Victoria colonists can well remember, at least in its culminating effect on "Black Thursday" the 6th of February, 1851, when many parts of the arid country almost simultaneously took fire. Experience, however, seems to establish the fact that when this changeable interior is visited by such climatic extremes, the entire area is not simultaneously affected. This is a very important consideration for the expanding colonies of the south and east, whose increasing population and property are either clustered close around the precarious area in question, or are placed by successive steps of Colonization further and further within its boundaries. The case practically amounts to this: that when one or two of the colonies suffer, and are, consequently, short in their harvest, the others have escaped, and can make up the deficiency; and, when one section of the pastoral interior may be scorched and destitute of pasturage, the live stock may all still be preserved by a temporary transference to another. A rather severe drought affected New South Wales and the southern parts of Queensland in the season of 1861-2—the very season that proved so moist further to the south and west, and that covered Victoria with universal verdure. Again, the three years' drought of 1837-39—of terrible memory in New South Wales—did not extend into Victoria. What is still more encouraging, this intolerable scourge, whose effect now upon the extended and multiplied interests of the colony would be tenfold more destructive than before, has not since re-appeared.

The most sterile portions of this precarious interior region are not those which are far removed from the settled country, although this has been the common notion. The country that originates the hot wind really extends much nearer to the settlements than the colonists had supposed; they have, in fact, already, by means of their squatting outposts, penetrated in some directions far into its depths, and they are occupying and making available to their purposes even the least favourable parts of its ill-reputed area. Such is the hot, dry, salt-bush country to the northward of Adelaide described by Waterhouse, who accompanied Stuart, and such is the kind of country McKinlay passed through, 400 miles north of the same capital, and already occupied by squatting stations. At Blanchewater, the furthest, for the time being, of these settlements, the party had to prepare to encounter in their northerly march fifty miles of the worst desert that was met with during the entire journey.

The interior of Australia, therefore, is a country we can make use of, and there is every reason to believe that the greater part of it will soon and with marvellous rapidity be overspread by pastoral settlements. There is sufficient rainfall and vegetable growth to cover by far the greater part of its wide surface with some kind of soil. Where the quartz, sandstone, and granite come to the surface, there is a poor account of results. These spaces are the scrub and spinifex country, so often recurring upon the explorers' maps, or they are the patches of mere sand and stones, which also often occur, and which in one particular region, where they are the prominent feature of a considerable area, have established a distinction as the "Stony Desert." On the other hand, the basaltic outcrop of rocks and the clay surfaces are the better class of soils. These are ever ready to spring into verdure. They await the providence of the clouds, and are never slow to respond whenever opportunities are showered upon them.

It is not improbable that the country may be found better and less subject to extreme changes further to the westward than McKinlay's or even Stuart's line of march. In that direction lies nearly one-half of the Australian interior still uninvaded. But this conjecture as to its qualities has to encounter that arid desert that arrested Gregory beyond the sources of the Victoria of the Northwest, and that looks down ominously over this unexplored expanse from its northern margin. The conjecture, nevertheless, is based upon an opinion, somewhat general, that an inlet or strait of the sea has covered, recently perhaps, the flat or hollow country between Spencer Gulf and Carpentaria. The low sandy region that continues northwards from the head of Spencer Gulf may have been at no remote time (geologically speaking) the shallow channel of a sea dividing Australia into two great islands. This recently raised and sterile sea-bed is still marked out by the line of the fitful Lake Torrens and the lower course of the Cooper. Towards the Gulf of Carpentaria there is still the low flat country, but the rains and vegetation of a more regular and tropical climate have covered the surface with a better soil.


We quit the subject of soil and climate for that of the living occupants who are in the midst of both, to enjoy or endure the ordeal of their extremes. Our information regarding the aboriginal race, derived from the recent expeditions, tends, as already stated, to enlarge our previous estimates as to their numbers. Few still, however, are these numbers, even if we double the former reckoning, and sprinkle some four hundred thousand individuals over the great "Terra Australis." And this small number is still diminished each year with each advancing step of the colonist into the aboriginal homes. The natives generally cannot retreat before the colonial invasion, because their exclusive tribal system surrounds each separate native community with aliens or enemies of its own race; each tribe ever watchful of its own territorial boundaries, each often at variance with its neighbours, and many of the tribes, in consequence of these alienating circumstances, speaking a dialect mutually unintelligible. They remain in the colonized districts, and gradually die off. Many tribes have thus nearly or entirely disappeared within the present colonies.

They are decidedly low in the scale of human attainments. A controversy occurred lately as to whether the true Australian invented and used the canoe.[1] He emerges from the degradation implied by this question with a ray of triumph. He does make use of a canoe, tiny as its structure is, and one of the spoils collected by Stuart was a small native canoe model. The Australian can probably claim to have fashioned and navigated a canoe of his own, independently of the example of the superior vessels that are constructed by the more intelligent races adjoining the northern coasts. Some of his customs are curious. How came he to practise the rite of circumcision? Our travellers allude to this rite as observed in the South, but not in the North. Leichhardt, however, expressly states that it was practised by all the tribes he met with in the year 1845, around the Gulf of Carpentaria. The knocking out of two or four of the upper front teeth as a sign of adult manhood is very general, although not universal.

The accounts given us of the natives, their friendly, mischievous, or hostile purposes, are somewhat various and contradictory. They have evidently the Japanese quality of a dislike to be intruded upon by outside and unknown barbarians, with their sickly unnatural skins, and their uncouth, anomalous, unkangaroo-looking attendant quadrupeds. Our travellers and their temporary camps, it is evident, were repeatedly in the way of the natives, disturbing their fishing and their other arrangements. To conduct amicable intercourse with these sons of nature, much depends upon tact and firmness, and even more upon a thorough mutual understanding of aims and objects. The desire to appropriate is as inveterate in the black as, according to our police, it is in the white, and this impulse is perhaps the most fertile of all occasions of differences. A large property, of a nature kindred to blankets and tomahawks, fishhooks and bead necklaces, and a small party to defend it, forms a sad stumbling-block in the way of aboriginal virtues. The kindness shown by the Cooper's Creek natives to King, the survivor of Burke's party, as well as their sympathizing lament over the body of Burke, are pleasing and encouraging traits. A persistently hostile character like that of Keri Keri, encountered at Lake Massacre, a kind of Australian Hannibal, as he seemed, in his mortal antipathy to those intruding Romans, the colonists, seems the exception to the general rule.

Cannibalism is now but a too well ascertained custom of these Aborigines. New Zealand and Fiji afford analogous and perfectly authenticated confirmation of such customs, as well as New Caledonia. The report or rather confession of the Lake Massacre natives that they had dug up and eaten the body of Gray, another of Burke's party, who had died of fatigue on the return route, is not at all unlikely to be true. Nor is it necessarily a hostile indication on the native's part. Morrill, an English seaman, who had been wrecked seventeen years ago (in 1846), on the North-eastern coast, about Cape Upstart, and had lived with the natives thereabouts during all that time, brings us the latest accounts of this and other of their customs. He re-appeared amongst his countrymen at the northern out-stations at Queensland in February last (1863). The natives had treated him kindly after their own rough fashion. But he is clear on the subject of their cannibalism. He says: "My experience with the blacks proves that they are cannibals; parents eat their own children, and usually they eat the bodies of those killed in fight, and I would not trust them generally."[2] All these Aborigines seem to have a great difficulty in procuring any other food than fish, and the scanty edibles of the natural vegetation. This circumstance, together with the keen appetite given by the Australian air, to which our travellers repeatedly testify, may supply the original motives to cannibalism, according to the conjectures of some writers. The pursuit of a foe has the double stimulus of a feast and a revenge. "O for the kidney-fat of an enemy!" is the motto of aboriginal knight-errantry. But romance is sadly exploded in the fact that friend and foe seem indistinguishably appreciated, and are sent with equal zest to a common bourne.


Comparatively few of the larger birds or animals were met with in these interior journeys. Australia is not, as a whole, densely filled with these objects any more than with man. The shy kangaroo keeps well within woods and hill ranges, where, however, with its somewhat gregarious habits, it is often in large numbers. The wild Australian dog spreads over the plains, but is venturesome only at night, when he frequently prowled about the camps of the travellers, being occasionally found dead in the morning, poisoned by the strychnine baits used for the purpose. He vies in ferocity with his congener, the wolf, for although partial to a sheep, he will as readily turn upon a wounded brother as upon any other attainable prey. This animal is remarkable as the only non-marsupial quadruped of noticeable dimensions in a world of kangaroo, and the question has long been debated as to his indigenous origin, so to speak, or the apparently more probable solution of a late introduction into the country by man's agency. There comes just recently from Australia a new light on the question, in the fact that amongst remains of the animals, extinct and non-extinct, of the Australian drifts, those of the dingo or native dog have been at length detected. This discovery might be supposed to have settled the question of man's intervention, were it not that a like antiquity to that just indicated for the dog, claimed now so generally for man himself, may afford grounds for regarding the interesting problem as still unsolved.[3]

Australia having broken through her exclusive kangarooism in the instance of the dog in the south and the central region, is again cosmopolitan in the north with the alligator; the ornithorhyncus paradoxus is in the north also, as well as in the south. The emu appears at intervals throughout. Tough, rank, and oily in his flesh, he is not a coveted morsel by way of variety to the fare of the explorers, although most of them have, on occasions, been glad to eke out their scanty supplies with an emu supper. A bird, distinguished as Sturt's pigeon, appears to have been most abundant. There were great numbers of cockatoos, including the black macaw, and many pelicans where there was water. But on the whole, in a thoroughly practical view of the country's fauna, the opportunities of subsisting by the products of the way were by no means frequent to the travellers, and the main reliance was ever upon the supplies taken with them, and in the last resource upon the animals that carried the general outfit.


What is the most suitable outfit for an Australian exploratory expedition? is a question that is now likely to be of some interest, if such expeditions are to go on at the rate of the last three years; and that they will be kept up is not at all improbable. An emulative spirit has been aroused on the subject in the colonies. These later expeditions have shown an unexpected facility in accomplishing such great journeys, and nearly the western half of the island-continent remains unknown. There is still enough left of the "Terra Australia Incognita"—to use the old words of a century past—to supply stimulative occasion for at least two great expeditions; one to proceed from the head of the Great Australian Bight, in a direction a little west of north, to the point reached by Gregory from the opposite direction in 1856; the other from a point several degrees westward of the Bight in a northwest course towards Nickol Bay, whose rather promising vicinities were explored by Mr. F. T. Gregory two years ago (1861). As Victoria is possessed of an armed steamer, happily not in request for any purposes of war, and therefore available for other and happier uses, that colony can hardly do better, towards assuming the duties of the metropolitan position to which its people aspire, than to organize these expeditions. Stuart and his compeers have satisfactorily proved that such expeditions need not be very costly undertakings, and that, with such men as McKinlay and himself, they are not likely to fail of success.

Stuart's first expedition comprised a party of but three persons, including himself, with thirteen horses for the carriage of stores and baggage. This force was too feeble to encounter safely any considerable body of hostile Aborigines, as the result showed. Landsborough, also, with the same force, the two Aborigines he had in addition not probably counting for much, was under the same necessity at the River Herbert, above the Albert. But again he was successful with a like force subsequently in crossing Australia. Burke and Wills ventured across the country, also successfully, with a total of only four persons. Security, however, cannot be assured with such small forces. On the second occasion Stuart made up his party to twelve, and on the third to ten; that of McKinlay was nearly as strong; such a force seems quite adequate to all the contingencies of the way.

In regard to supplies, Stuart, who preferred a troop of horses as his only carriers, limited himself to what could be conveyed by this means. McKinlay, on the other hand, took with him sheep and bullocks as well as horses, together with the variety of four camels; the bullocks were designed for carriage as well as food. Our traveller specially recommends the sheep, which he thinks no expedition should be without. The little creatures were easily managed, and they bravely held their way, keeping abreast of the party even on the longest marches. Next to this supply of animal food, the great staple is flour. With this the Australian traveller turns out his simply baked "damper" from the hot ashes; and hardly less important than the damper is the unfailing accompaniment of tea and sugar; some bacon, some rice, some et-ceteras follow, including of course, tobacco; with medicines (charitably including the rum in this particular division), lucifers, signal rockets, ammunition, rifles, and other defensive arms. These, with the canvas, the poles, the cords, and the fastening pins of the indispensable tents, a supply of blankets, and a very limited assortment of personal attire, comprise the main stay of the outfit.

The use of a cart or dray on these expeditions is a convenience hardly to be resisted. It was an indispensable component of the old official expeditions of any importance into the interior. The convenience of the cart, however, is sadly chequered by the delays and difficulties it brings to the expedition. Stuart would have none of it. McKinlay took it in hand, at first with horses, afterwards with a team of bullocks. Nothing equals the slow steady pull of the bullock for mastering the thick and thin, the log, stump, and stone of nature's road in Australia. With the skilful bullock-driving of Ned Palmer, a marvellously long step of the rugged journey was accomplished; but although the cart did wonders, it must needs be given up. It was slow as the tortoise, but rarely as sure. All Ned's skill could not pilot "the wheels" against the laws of gravitation. Yesterday they were over their axles in Jones's swamp, and to-day they disappeared like a shot over the perpendicular ledge of Smith's Creek. To recover from disasters, indeed, is as much the forte of a true bullock-driver as to avoid them. The dray ever emerges triumphant from everything. Ned, like a geologist, only requires time; but time, in a flying march across Australia, is a costly requirement. The cart has been daily weighed in a balance of accumulating deficiences, till at length the climax of its fate comes with the heavy rains encountered in the desert country. Conveyed to the top of a sand hill, it is buried along with such of the outfit it had carried as cannot be otherwise provided for. So the cart is abandoned, and poor Ned, freed from his ever-troublesome charge, is left, who knows? with the mixed emotions of the fond mother mourning for her rickety offspring, the object of all her past toils, anxieties, and affections.

Both Burke and Wills, and McKinlay, had the novel addition of a troop of camels to the live stock of their respective expeditions. The Victoria Government, shortly before the departure of the former, had imported a number of camels from India, and their merits were thus promptly put on trial by the opportunity of the Victoria expedition. Of these, Burke selected six with which to push on from Cooper's Creek, leaving the others, together with the bulk of the expedition, behind on the way. These camels in fact, and but a single horse, were the sole attendants of his small party. McKinlay took four camels, in company of a goodly quadrupedal assemblage, consisting besides of twenty-four horses, twelve bullocks, and a hundred sheep. The camel disputes with the horse the palm of usefulness in the Australian expeditions. In powers of endurance the camel seemed quite the equal of his rival, but he was more unruly and troublesome, and very uncompanionable with the other animals, his fellow travellers. McKinlay found a decided convenience in the height of his back, as compared with that of the horse, in keeping the supplies of the party out of the water on the occasion of traversing the flooded parts of the march.

But both horse and camel alike proved useful in other ways less premeditated. Necessity cures many prejudices, and hunger is a sauce to reconcile us to a very miscellaneous diet. As the stock diminished, and as the appetite increased, even horse-flesh proved no unsavoury morsel, lean, tough, and jaded as it too often was. Horse after horse fell under the "jerking" process, consisting of cutting the flesh into long strips, to be dried in the sun. The camel, too, took his turn under the knife, and our travellers were ever far more anxious to secure an adequate quantity than to differ about the quality of their fare. Only once was the case otherwise, when one of the camels, "old and worn out, with sores all over him," was doomed to the knife and the jerking. Refractory even in the pot, the tough liver and kidneys defy the teeth of the hungry travellers, and the cook is enabled to boast for once on the journey that there was superfluity on the board.


The Australian colonies may well be congratulated not only upon their taking upon themselves the entire cost and management of the exploration of this part of the empire, but upon the vigour with which they are prosecuting their exploratory duties—a vigour that promises ere long to make the whole of Australia about as familiar to us as the other parts of the colonial empire. Meanwhile, well-merited honour has been done to the distinguished explorers we have been speaking of. Their services have been acknowledged and rewarded by their respective governments, while they themselves have been fêted by the colonists. Stuart, returning to Adelaide from his third expedition, greatly impaired in his health, was received with a welcome calculated at all events to renovate his spirits, for he was met by nearly 20,000 colonists, headed by the colonial governor. An interesting episode occurs with McKinlay. A public dinner is to be given him in Adelaide, and on the same day, it is said at the very hour fixed for the entertainment, the arrival of Howitt is announced in the city, on his return from his special expedition to Cooper's Creek for the purpose of bringing down to Melbourne the remains of Burke and Wills. This unexpected but timely visitor is of course a welcome and conspicuous guest on the occasion.

The South Australian Legislature, in the year 1859, agreed to bestow a public reward of £2,000 upon the colonist who should first traverse Australia from sea to sea. Stuart has received and well earned this reward. The area of his colony is traversed by the central line, north and south of Australia, and we have seen that the colony has been laudably and specially alive to its duties in the long pending solution of the Australian problem. A sum of £1000 has also been awarded to McKinlay. As it is pleasant to narrate the liberalities of Governments, we go on to say that the relatives of Burke and Wills, as well as King, the survivor of the party, have received very considerable gratuities and pensions from the Government of Victoria. The relics of the heroes themselves, recovered as we have said by a special mission to the interior, were committed to the grave with the honours of a state funeral; while a grant of £4,000 has been made from the public revenue for the construction of a suitable memorial of their achievements and misfortunes.


With pleasure we also observe, from a recent intimation of the Secretary for the Colonies, that the part of these Northern Australian regions continuous in a northerly direction with the colony of South Australia—the part, in fact, traversed and explored by Stuart—is to be annexed to that colony. The large remainder of North Australia, to the eastward, falls in the meantime naturally into Queensland, whose colonists, after the galloping fashion of pastoral settlement in Australia, have already advanced their squatting outposts beyond Port Denison, in latitude 20°, and the mouth of the Burdekin in latitude 19°—places unknown to the world within the last three years. We augur well of this Imperial arrangement, not merely because it forms a fitting acknowledgment of colonial enterprise, but because we may venture to see in it the beginning of a new policy, by which the Home Government frees itself, once for all, from the imaginary, or, at any rate, to it, the needless costs and difficulties of founding new colonies. Colonies already established and prosperous may be left to perform this duty, and they may be so left all the more readily when, as in this case, they are prompt to take the duty in hand, with all its outlay and trouble.

We may surely hope that the Imperial Government will not find itself necessitated to repress or prevent the extension of the Colonial Empire. And yet this has been the course for some time past, otherwise Northern Australia would already have been colonized. The contemplated arrangement we have just alluded to respecting that vast but waste colonial domain, will, we trust, for the future, have the effect of putting an end to this repressive system. Difficulties there may be as to new colonies, their land regulations, and the question of their preliminary expenses, but they are real difficulties only to the inexperience and remote position of the Imperial Government. South Australia and Queensland will deal with their respective portions of tropical Australia. In founding new settlements so remote from head-quarters, these colonies must foresee the time when these, their far-off daughters, will demand separate establishments of their own. The Imperial mother may virtually go to sleep, until aroused at this stage of her children's and her grandchildren's growth by a call to adjudicate, as the supreme parent, upon the impending and, perhaps, contentious question of separation, while she finds at the same moment that a forty-fifth or a fiftieth member is about to be added to the world-wide colonial family.

Let us here advert to what may prove a very important contingency of the future, namely, the question of the particular form of government for these tropical regions. At the proper time this should form a special subject of Imperial consideration. The European may no doubt undertake various kinds of labour in these latitudes, but he is probably unsuited to field labour. The labouring hands of the dark races will be eagerly invited by the colonists, and, perhaps, the response on the part of the former will be as ready as the invitation. The superior race will then be exposed to the temptation of legislating for its own interests at the expense of the inferior. The temptation will ever lean in the direction of a coercive power in the hands of employers, and towards constituting a slave instead of a servant. The prevention of this possible evil will be much easier than its cure, and the prevention lies in withholding from tropical Australia that complete self-government that now distinguishes the energetic colonies of the temperate latitudes. The Imperial Government thus retains an effective control over all the colonial legislation—a control it has virtually parted with in the self-governed colonies. Having once, by these free institutions, transferred the reins to the vigorous colonial grasp, we fear that the mere abstract Imperial supremacy, which, with all its strength of legal theory, still unites the Empire under one Government, would prove of small avail in regulating an exciting domestic question of colonial legislation. In the North Australia of the future no question, probably, will be more exciting than that of the regulations of the labour supply. Imperial views in such a question would take an equitable and humane direction for the necessary protection of the labourer; but we may rest assured from much previous experience that the views of a tropical Australian constituency and their legislators, all exclusively of the white and employing race, with their own direct interests and convenience involved, would take a direction quite different.

Already are associations projected in Victoria and South Australia for the colonization of the northern shores, and even a complete political constitution is amongst the items and attractions of the business prospectus. Melbourne is the Australian headquarters of capital and enterprise, and will now, probably, with its large population of colonial youth, be fertile in genial adventure of this kind. For years past such associations have been kept in abeyance by the indifference or opposition of the Home Government. Melbourne enterprise will now enjoy a better chance, having an authority to deal with at Adelaide instead of Downing Street. We recommend the two sisters to a reciprocity of good offices and to mutual usefulness. Only let us no longer neglect that magnificent domain which has now been familiarized to us, and at the cost of so much effort and suffering, by Burke and Wills, Stuart, Landsborough, and McKinlay; no longer leave its bright streams to sparkle in a waste of sunshine, or its luxuriant grass to be annually burnt by the Aborigines, in the wanton riot of superabundance.

  1. See the "Athenæum" of March 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th, 1862, where Mr. Crawford and Capt. Jukes contend for the negative, and Mr. Brierly, and Sir D. Cooper for the affirmative, which is the true version. Twenty years ago, the writer, in confirmation of both the latter authorities, saw the natives of Twofold Bay, at the south-eastern extremity of Australia, sporting in their little canoes, which were neatly made of stout thick bark, and managed with some dexterity.
  2. A further account of Morrill, derived from his own narrative, is given in Chapter XI.
  3. For this geological information as to the dingo, I have to thank Dr. Falconer.