Government Notice relative to Port Leschenault

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GOVERNMENT NOTICE relative to Port Lescnenault.

Surveyor General's Office, Perth,

March 22d, 1830. 

On the evening of the 3rd instant the Lieut.Governor proceeded to sea, on board the Eagle schooner; and on the following day, having examined the coast of Geographe Bay throughout its whole extent, the vessel anchored about two miles inside of Cape Naturaliste. The afternoon of that and the succeeding day were spent in exploring the neighbouring country. Its surface was found to be very uneven in altitude, frequently rising into high granite hills, most of which were either rugged or sandy on the summits, but the valleys contained a considerable quantity of good land. Among the cliffs near the Cape, a great variety of mineral products was observed. Specimens of magnetic iron ore and copper pyrites were brought away, but it did not appear that the seams, containing these ores, were of great thickness. The Bay in which the schooner anchored affords very good shelter during the summer season, being secured from all winds to the westward of N.W. and N.

On the 5th, the Eagle took up an anchorage off Vasse River, and the vicinity of its entrance was examined to the distance of two or three miles from the shore. The result was not satisfactory, as it appeared to be a sandy district. The straight and vigorous growth of the trees gave a contradiction, however, to the apparent meagreness of the soil.

Fresh water exists in great plenty both here and on the opposite side of Geographe Bay. On the morning of the 6th instant the expedition arrived off Port Leschenault. The appearance of the country being favourable, and a proper position for a military station being selected, the detachment of the 63rd regiment, brought from head-quarters by the Eagle, was landed, together with the stores and provisions necessary for their maintenance. They found, in the great abundance of building materials, great facilities in housing themselves, and the Lieutenant Governor had the satisfaction, before his departure, to see the party nearly complete in arrangements for their comfort during the approaching winter.

During the Eagle's stay at Port Leschenault, excursions were made in every direction which could lead to a knowledge of the surrounding country. The most important of these was an expedition of gentlemen volunteers, led by Mr. Roe. They penetrated to the hilly country, of which Mr. Roe reports in the following terms:

"Having proceeded up the Collie, about ten miles from the entrance, the river became obstructed by many fallen trees, and we quitted it, ten in number, with three days' provisions, to explore the country to the south eastward. At this place the water was perfectly fresh and good, and ran at a very slow pace to the north westward. Half a mile S.S.E. brought us to an inconsiderable dry creek, which we crossed, and walked to the E.S.E. through a beautiful open forest country, swelling gradually in hill and valley, and abounding in excellent timber, growing in a good soil. At the distance of another mile we crossed over a second creek, which was at this time dry, but evidently, during the rainy season, is well supplied with water. We soon afterwards stood to the eastward, for a part of the principal range of mountains, which appeared through the trees at the distance of two miles, and at their base came again upon the Collie, which occupied a width of from eight to fifteen yards; but from being obstructed below us, it was not a running stream.

Crossing over, we ascended the range in a N.E. by N. direction; and on the second ridge were gratified by an extensive view of the country beind us, and of the well-wooded heights to the northward and eastward. In the latter direction is some land, considerably more elevated than that upon which we stood, but apparently of equal value to the agriculturist and grazier, and is supplied with good timber. A considerable valley was observed about two miles to the north; and, judging from the excellent soil we passed over, both on the hills and flats, it will, doubtless, be found to possess good land, and probably a branch of the Collie. Having no water on the mountain, we descended a mile to liie south, when the Collie was again crossed, extending to the N.W. by N., and we bivouaced on its left bank. Early on the 10th we resumed our journey to the S.E. by S., across a hilly forest country, for three miles, when we had crossed the dry beds of two small brooks, and had arrived upon a more elevated part of the range, leaving its summit about half a mile to the eastward.

His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, was pleased to honour this with the name of Mount Lennard, after one of my fellow-travellers. It is well clothed with grass and timber, and maybe about eighteen hundred feet above the level of the sea. Here we found a sensible change in the temperature, which was much more cool than on the plains, and rendered climbing steep hills comparatively pleasing. Hence we descended S.S.W., and in less than half a mile came to the bed of a considerable winter stream, five or six yards wide, containing some pools of excellent water; small fish being found in these ponds at the very termination of the dry season, would appear to bespeak their being never totally dried up. Proceeding three miles farther to the S.S.W., over a steep but unbroken country, of the same description as before, we came to a broader valley than usual, in which were the dry beds of two winter torrents, winding through a soil much inferior to any we had as yet passed over; beyond it was some very good land, and to the eastward the country appeared rich and fertile among the mountains.

We now ascended the steep south-western hill of this range, and from its summit saw Point Casuarina, bearing N. 63° W. at the distance of sixteen or seventeen miles. The soil here is very sandy in places, and much intermixed with rocks and stones; there is, nevertheless, much good timber upon it, and a great quantity of banksia.

On its south side is situated the broad and rich valley of the Preston River, where we found several dry ponds and beds of water courses stretching to the westward. The Preston, at a mile from the deep southern shoulder of this hill, was found to have a width of seven or eight yards between banks of clay and rich loamy soil, where good water was met with in pools several yards in circumference, which, in the winter months, must form a stream of six or eight feet in depth. The country here is tolerably level forest land, free from underwood, and undulates gently in easy rising hills, somewhat thickly wooded. Three miles S.W. from this part of the Preston, over rather a sandy country, brought us to the verge of some level open plains, covered with grass, and thinly scattered with trees; their extent was not ascertained, but we could trace them as far as five or six miles across, and in the middle came upon the dry bed of a considerable brook, winding through them to the N.W. by N. The day being now far advanced, and having met with no water since leaving the Preston, we traced this channel for about two miles, through a narrow slip of thickly wooded land, but without meeting the object of our search. Some heavy dense clouds, which had by that time been drifted over us by a N.W. gale, then burst out into pouring rain, and drove us for shelter into the bed of the water course. After two hours' rain the weather cleared a little, and the continued perseverance of some of our party, was finally crowned with success, by kindling us a good fire, which dried our clothes and blankets, and enabled us to pass a comfortable night. With day-light of the 11th we started on our return, and steered north to fall in with the Preston, and procure water for breakfast In this direction and N.W., we walked nearly six miles over a gently swelling forest country, with a loamy sandy surface, which, for the last three miles, was frequently interrupted by extensive swamps, at this time dry. The Preston was then fallen in with at the distance of about seven miles, in a direct line from its entrance, and we remained a couple of hours, on the bank of some delicious water, to breakfast and refresh. At this dry period of the year the river had assumed the appearance of a chain of ponds, from twelve to twenty yards in lengthy and four or five deep, contained between banks of clay and rocks eight or ten yards apart. Here we found numerous traces of natives, and plenty of large muscles; but the latter not being quite good tasted, and our provisions not totally expended, they were not much eaten. At noon we set out again at westward, occasionally coming on the left bank of the river, as it wound through an open forest country. Finding, at the distance of a mile, it crossed our course, we passed over to the right bank, just above the spot where the river becomes full between its banks. Two miles further, over a fertile country, brought us to a navigable part of the Preston, fifteen or eighteen yards wide, where the water is brackish, and runs slowly to the northward. From this place we followed a native path, about four miles towards the entrance of the river, where we arrived about three o'clock, and finally rejoined our friends at the encampment, loaded with wild ducks, cockatoos, and other game, the produce of our sportsmen's exertions.

It is somewhat remarkable, that throughout this excursion we saw nothing of the natives, although the traces of them were evident and numerous in many places; and we passed several of their old habitations, which were of the usual temporary construction of boughs and grass. The country passed over, during our first day's journey from the Collie River, was decidedly superior to any which afterwards came under our observation, and appearances left no ground for supposing that it diminished at all in fertility of soil, as far as the eye could penetrate to the eastward of that journey's eastern limit. The country in the neighbourhood, And to the eastward of Mount Lennard, is elevated end mountainous, but bears a promising appearance having some considerable valleys at the base of the hills, which are probably well supplied with water. Towards the south end of the mountains, between the Collie and Preston, upon which his Excellency, the Lieutenant-Governor, has been pleased to bestow the name of "Roe's Range", the country becomes more sandy, and where the surface is not interrupted by the protusion of the granite formation of the range, it is partially covered with loose fragments of quartz and quartz rock. This description of country seems to prevail in those parts of the range which are exposed to the southerly winds.

The district of the Preston is not so fertile as that of the Collie, nor is it so considerable in point of size or inland navigation ; but no soil can be finer than that on its banks, and the country through which it winds from the S.E. is more uniform and easy of access. The explorations which took place were not so extensive : regarding them it is only necessary to state the general result. There appear to be three rivers in the district, on the banks of which there is generally excellent alluvial soil. The southernmost river, which is named the ' Preston,' is navigable for the largest boats about five miles from its mouth, and is at that point a running stream of good water. Its banks are rich in soil and timber, but the former of these becomes sandy on receding from the river side.

The middle river, the ' Collie,' is navigable for ten or twelve miles, nearly up to the foot of the hills ; the soil on its banks is not very good for three miles from its entrance, but it is there joined by a river flowing from the north, and the country, in ascending from this junction, improves, and becomes of an excellent description. The north river was not explored.—Upon the whole, the district of Port Leschenault appears to possess a considerable quantity of good land. There are portions of it which are sandy ; but it holds out, particularly in the goodness of the hilly country, as described above, great attractions to settlers. The anchorage off the bar of Port Leschenault, is open to winds between north and north-west. It seems to be a good summer resort for vessels of any size, but at present it cannot be recommended as a winter resort.

On the 16th, the Eagle proceeded to the Murray, and anchored off its entrance on the following morning. Her stay here did not admit of an extensive examination of the country. The inlet appears to be similar to those at Port Leschenault, Vasse River, and Melville Water. These inland waters will probably hereafter afford great facilities in catching and curing fish for exportation, as well as for the water carriage of commodities.

On the 18th, the Eagle returned to Gage's Roads.

Such are the details of an excursion which has added considerably to the knowledge of the territory previously possessed. Although there has been in the course of it, no very striking discovery, the general result has afforded the Lieutenant-Governor the greatest satisfaction, by shewing that the industry, enterprise, and intelligence of the settlement need not remain unemployed, for want of the materials on which to act.

The country inland from Port Leschenault, as far as it has been seen, offers fertile soil, and good stock stations. The climate is decidedly cooler than in this district; and, judging from the quantity of grass, and the verdure of the foliage, it appears to sustain a dry season not so long in duration as that experienced in this quarter.

For these reasons, the Lieutenant-Governor recommends it to the notice of settlers; and with a view to give them facility in locating themselves there, he has established a military station on the northern point of the entrance, to serve as a place of security to those who may proceed there in the first instance. He has also directed all the district comprised within a line S.E. 100 miles from the entrance, and thence eastward, to be added to the district already open for location. All persons who may have claims under the present mode of distributing land, will do wisely to make an early selection in the territory thus laid open, as it is not intended to open other districts during the current year, at the end of which the present mode of distribution will expire.

This work is is in the public domain because it was created in Australia and the term of copyright has expired.

See Australian Copyright Council - Duration of Copyright (February 2012).