History of West Australia/Chapter 9
FAMINE PRICES AND PROGRESSIVE INCIDENTS.
IRREGULAR FOOD SUPPLY AND DANGERS OF FAMINE—PRICES—H.M.S. SULPHUR AND A COLONIAL VESSEL SENT TO HOBART TOWN—AN INJURIOUS RUMOUR—THE MARKET RELIEVED—HOPES OF SETTLERS—HARVEST 0F 1832—EMPLOYER AND EMPLOYED—WANT OF STOCK AND LACK OF CAPITAL—PETITION TO CAPTAIN STIRLING—MEETING OF SETTLERS ON 2ND JULY—THE LIEUT.—GOVERNOR ACCEDES TO REQUEST OF SETTLERS TO PROCEED TO ENGLAND TO REPRESENT AND ADV0CATE THEIR REQUIREMENTS; HE LEAVES FOR ENGLAND PER THE SULPHUR—PRICES OF STOCK—NEW SYSTEM 0F LAND ALIENATION INAUGURATED IN JULY—FALLING-OFF IN NUMBER OF IMMIGRANTS—CIVIL COURT ESTABLISHED; MR. G. F. MOORE FIRST C0MMISSIONER—FIRST CASE TRIED BEFORE A JURY—BUILDINGS IN PERTH AND FREMANTLE—CHANNELS IN THE SWAN RIVER—A WATER—MILL—AGITATION TO ESTABLISH A BANK—THE SETTLEMENTS—THE NATIVE TROUBLES: POLICE CORPS FORMED: MURDERS, ROBBERIES, IMPRISONMENTS AND ESCAPES—DALE'S EXPEDITION FROM KING GEORGES SOUND—COLLIER'S EXPEDITIONS—MR. J. C. BUSSELL'S EXPEDITIONS.
THE supply of food, so precarious during the whole history the colony, culminated in a serious and even dangerous situation in 1832. Vessels laden with provisions had been daily expected for more than three months before January, but vainly were the eyes of anxious settlers strained over the ocean. The crop of the 1831 harvest served to sustain them for a short period, but soon it, too, nearly disappeared. It was sweet to some settlers to eat the produce of their own fields. The richer people possessed primitive hand-mills, and taking the grain obtained in the fields near by, they ground it down and prepared it for consumption. Wheat was sold at 25s. a bushel in January, and it was estimated that with economy there was only a six weeks' supply in the colony. Settlers now often made a scanty meal from coffee and bread alone. There were not sufficient milk cows to furnish milk and butter, nor was salt pork or beef to be obtained. The supply of kangaroo flesh and other game was intermittent, and to secure a little fresh meat settlers had to waste much time from their necessary occupations in the hunt.
On the 21st January a vessel entered Fremantle and landed a small cargo of the necessaries of life. Other ships soon anchored round her, but colonial affairs were so regulated that they were not as a rule laden with the great desiderata. Flour on the 25th January sold at 10d. per lb., and cheese at 2s. 6d. per lb. Writing on the 4th March a settler says: "Prices have risen to a very serious height just now, and there is consequently a great outcry in the colony." This outcry was caused by the supineness of the Imperial Government in all affairs dealing with their offspring—Western Australia—and also by the want of foresight displayed by ships' masters in not bringing to these shores the cargoes most required. Some settlers complained loudly concerning the lack of consideration demonstrated by their rich friends and relatives at home, to whom they constantly wrote, advising the despatch of argosies as almost certain ventures. But their friends, surrounded by the luxury and refinement of the Old World, and regularly catered for in their food supplies, could not comprehend the environments of colonists. They were told that in Western Australia were great stretches of fertile agricultural land, and they could not understand why sufficient grain was not produced on them for local consumption. Indeed, they knew nothing of the heartbreaking labour a young colony demanded before it became self-contained.
The local Government was fully impressed with the seriousness of the position, and to assist settlers possessing little ready money, and to prevent starvation, arranged to supply provisions out of the Government stores on credit. Rich and poor availed themselves of this opportunity; indeed, they often had no alternative, for the Government almost alone held supplies. On 24th January, 1833, when the difficulty was overcome, a notice was issued by the Lieut.-Governor with reference to payment of these advances. It announced that the Colonial Storekeeper would "receive wheat (the growth of the colony) in part or whole payment of each respective debt, at the rate of 15s. per bushel."
Moreover, the warship Sulphur was despatched to neighbouring settlements to secure cargoes, and was expected to return late in February, but her voyage lasted until some months later. A small colonial vessel was sent to Hobart Town late in February for wheat and flour, but when that port was reached a most injurious rumour caused the master to curtail his operations. Interested persons, so it is alleged, reported at Hobart Town that two vessels had arrived at Fremantle from Calcutta with abundant supplies. Consequently ships, which under ordinary circumstances would have carried ventures to Swan River, turned from their purpose. The blame was laid on commercial men, who desired to keep food stuffs depleted at Swan River until prices rose to famine rates. The colonial vessel returned to Fremantle with a small cargo.
The Helen, schooner, from Hobart, called in at Fremantle in March, and was able to spare the community twenty tons of flour, little wheat, and a few potatoes. This tided them over immediate want. In April, the Merop put in with flour and pork. Before her arrival there were said to be only three casks of pork in colony, and £14 each was asked for them. Salt pork and beef were among the chief articles of diet of settlers. Wheat at this time had risen to 35s., and even 40s. a bushel, while fresh meat was 1s. 10d. per lb. More provisions arrived in May by the Cornwallis, and then the more serious strain was removed. In July fresh butter sold at 7s. per lb., eggs 4s. 6d. and 5s. per dozen, tea 2s. per lb., fresh meat 1s. 8d. per lb.; £18 was paid for a cask of wine, and £17 12s. 6d. for 47 gallons of rum. These prices to people who were used to a plethora of food in the old country, caused them much chagrin, especially when ready money was such a scarce quantity. The necessaries of life absorbed that capital which was so needed to improve the land. Towards the end of the year the arrival of several vessels begot lower prices, not only in food supplies, but in clothes and shoes as well. Actual famine was thus averted at the cost of some privation.
Hand in hand with the question of insufficient food supplies was that of the tiling of the soil and the stocking of the land. Because of the foolish absorption of their capital in useless investments, settlers had little left wherewith to purchase implements, horses and cattle for cultivating the soil, and sheep to stock their pastures. Their situation was largely discussed among them and they found that they were not strong enough to charter a vessel and import stock, and had not sufficient capital to form a company for those purposes. But all were convinced that if the Imperial Government chartered vessels and shipped sheep and cattle to the Swan River, the settlers would be able to purchase them at a fair rate. They could not lock up their capital for any time. Since the preceding harvest most of the chief settlers were assured of the suitability of Swan River soil for agricultural purposes. It was generally believed that the country would produce crops "inferior to none in England and with less trouble;" that it possessed abundant herbage for cattle and sheep. In consequence all set to work the more zealously to prepare to enlarge their fields for the approaching seed-time. The smaller settlers used the time to break up the ground, and it was estimated to take one man twenty days to prepare one acre. Two horses or two cattle could have done the work with a single-furrow plough in a few days. In their choice of seeds they were equally as experimental as in the previous year. It was roughly computed that 435 acres were sown in grain in 1832 from which an average of 15 bushels per acre was anticipated. A return such as this, it was believed, would place them beyond the need of imported grain.
All were permeated with a strong hope for the coming harvest. They found their rural occupation of a healthy, happy, innocent nature, and could they but overcome the difficulties of want of stock and capital, they were convinced that the future held much glowing prosperity for them. They were rendered still more hopeful when it became generally known that Captain Irwin had obtained from a small patch of soil, sown in October, without manure, and reaped in December, returns at the rate of 48s. per acre. Mr. Drummond, who was in correspondence with well-known scientists, especially Sir William Hooker, was also obtaining excellent results from his experiments. He planted Botanic Gardens in Perth and Guildford in 1831, which soon encouraged him with their rapid growth. He spent much time in testing soils in various situations, and his reports, while cautious, were warranted to stimulate the hopes of the community. On his own farms he presented an example which was copied by many his fellow settlers. With the ardour of a sincere botanist he collected numerous specimens of plants and grasses, and collated those which were specially useful as food for stock.
In the early spring the crops showed well above ground, and after a few weeks of congenial weather made quite a phenomenal growth. Those who had planted wisely and well, were delighted to observe waving cornfields of five or more feet in height. Taking the farms as a whole they looked remarkably flourishing in November, and when the brighter sun began to ripen the grain, it was seen that the hopes of farmers had not been misplaced. The long, plump heads bent with their own weight, and at harvest-time some fields returned as high as 40 bushels per acre, but the average yield was not half that number. The crop of hay was also large, and brought about the same rate of prices as ruled in the previous year. New season's wheat was sold to bakers and others at about £1 per bushel. A rush was made for the article, and then for some time no famine was possible so far as flour was concerned. But those who had tilled only small patches were still compelled to purchase at high prices.
Taken substantially, the wants of stock and well-plied labour were the most important obstacles to progression. The troubles between masters and their servants in no way diminished in 1832. The feeling between them remained as bitter as before, and employers were often moved to great anger by what they conceived to be the careless, improvident, and lazy habits of the employed. While they were paying much higher wages than ruled in Great Britain, they secured far smaller results from their labourers. Moreover, the expense of providing for them was much greater, and they could not brook what they termed "their drunken, impudent demeanour." The indentured servants, so one writer says, became the masters, for when they asked for any articles provided for in the regulations, they persisted in their request though it were not just, until they were satisfied. Failing the master's acquiescence, they laid their complaint before a magistrate. While these quarrels were proceeding, work was at a standstill, and to prevent such an unfortunate circumstance, masters repeatedly gave way to the unjust claims of their servants. Towards the end of 1832, there were numbers of servants out of employment, but they asked for as high wages as before. In a judicial sense masters were too apt to blame servants for their own non-success, instead of owning to personal inability. What was required was an independent, well-chosen class of labourers, and a spirit of self-help dominating master and man.
To obtain more stock for labouring purposes, and sheep and cattle to stock their pastoral stretches, settlers proposed to Captain Stirling in March that the Local Government should import the animals, pledging a guarantee against loss. The Lieutenant-Governor was favourably inclined to meet the request; indeed, was as convinced of its necessity as they were. Insufficient funds prevented his taking any steps. He repeatedly mentioned in despatches to the Home Government the necessity existing for Imperial assistance, but in accordance with their original intentions the authorities did not heed his representations. The Legislative Council of Western Australia held its first sittings in January and, with the question of providing efficient protection for settlers against the depredations of the natives, this onerous requirement of the colony was among councillors' pioneer debates. They did not come to any definite decision until some months later. A meeting of settlers was held on 2nd July, when much discussion took place concerning proposals made for their relief. Finally it was agreed to request the Lieutenant-Governor to proceed to England and viva voce lay the conditions of the colony before the Imperial Government, and advocate its general needs. His Excellency was well enough pleased with the wisdom of their proposal, and after consulting his Executive Council decided to accede. The memorial drafted in 1831 was augmented from the wider experience of 1832, and after being signed by settlers was placed in the hands of Captain Stirling. In the second week of August the ambassador set out on his important mission, and all were satisfied that he would do his utmost for the colony which had been his peculiar charge and sincere interest since its inauguration. He proceeded to England in H.M.S. Sulphur. Captain Irwin was sworn in as Lieutenant-Governor.
The prices paid for stock in 1832, although not so high as some quoted in other years, were altogether out of proportion to those existing in neighbouring settlements. In the first half of the year bullocks were sold at £25 each and sheep at 33s. In the latter half figures were published which showed the disproportion between prices at the Cape of Good Hope and the Swan River. At the Cape goats were 10s. each, and Perth £3 to £5; mares, £6 to £7 at the former, and £50 to £70 at the latter. The flocks of settlers had not been materially increased, The most notable of them was perhaps that of Mr. Trimmer, who ran 500 sheep over the hills.
In July the system of land grants was finally abolished, and the new regulations came into force. Settlers were not altogether pleased at five shillings an acre being placed as the minimum charge. They considered that to an infant colony such a price was too great and heavy a burden. Without extraneous assistance they thought that the colony had made comparatively good progress. In 1832 the fee simple of several grants was confirmed where the necessary expenditure as provided by the original regulations was carried out. The effects of the new system were not immediately apparent, although political economists afterwards unadvisedly announced that the evils encompassing the colony slowly diminished from that day. Altogether 1,349,209 acres of Western Australian land were alienated under the Land Grant system. Some impoverished settlers were already compelled to sell their grants while others who had selected for speculative purposes also cleared theirs. In this way new arrivals were able to obtain properties which they considered suitable to their enterprise. A regulation proposed by Lord Glenelg was established in the new system which was designed to favourably assist those who had taken up land under the Grant system. These settlers were permitted to surrender so much of their land as they considered unprofitable to them, and when purchasing more suitable Crown lands a remission was allowed on the price to the extent of one shilling and sixpence for every acre surrendered.
The alteration of the system under which Crown lands were alienated and the continued, untrue and injurious reports levelled against Western Australia were probably answerable for the falling-off in the number of arrivals in 1832. The influx of people now ended. One writer states that only thirteen ships arrived during the year, carrying but fourteen passengers and cargo to the value of £23,481. Although untoward rumours were circulated with as much vigour as before they did not deter certain people from leaving Tasmania and New South Wales to take up land in Western Australia. Those who had visited the colony on the way to the other settlements often returned preferring to stake their capital on the potentialities of local soils to those of elsewhere. But the same could be said in favour of the other colonies, for dissatisfied people continued to leave Western Australia greatly disappointed with their local experiences. Governor Stirling was compelled to use his utmost influence to interest some experienced farmers to remain in the colony, and to those whose experience and enterprise were worth having he even gave up portions of his own grants to induce them to stay. One or two men whose families are now well-known throughout the colony were thus influenced by the earnest pioneer administrator. Bills were drawn on the Imperial Treasury to the extent of £20,908 9s. 11d. to administrate the affairs of the colony. This was the largest sum drawn in one year for many years in Western Australian history.
The Governor and his Council, by the powers given them in the Imperial Act of 1829 and the Order in Council of 1880, decided on 10th February, 1832, to establish a Court of Civil Judicature, to be called the "Civil Court of Western Australia." It was constituted a Court of Record, with jurisdiction in all pleas and cases as full and ample in the settlement as had the courts of the King's Bench and Common Pleas and Exchequer in England. It could hear and determine questions of idiocy and lunacy, appoint guardians and committees over the persons and properties of infants, idiots, and lunatics, and grant probates of wills and letters of administration. Anyone dissatisfied and aggrieved with the decision of the court in cases exceeding £100 could make an appeal to the Governor and Executive Council, whose judgment was final. In the mesne process a debtor could be prevented from leaving the colony by the creditor swearing affidavit before the Commissioner of the Court, who could issue a warrant for his arrest. The pleadings were oral, and a jury was empanelled in cases exceeding £20 according to the option of either party.
Mr. G. F. Moore was sworn in on 17th February as the Commissioner of the Civil Court, and, having few technicalities and short forms to confront him, he conducted the affairs of the court in an exceedingly simple manner. The court was opened in March, and in the second week in June the first jury was called for in Western Australia. It was an action brought by one merchant against another for defamation of character. The damages were laid at £1,000. The trial lasted two days, and a verdict for £39 was entered.
Extensive additions were made to the buildings of Perth and Fremantle in 1832. The Government decided that their old buildings were too small to cope with the pressure of public business, and they therefore arranged to sell them to private people. More commodious buildings were erected in St. George's Terrace, and quite a pretentious square was formed, with a church as one of its most important structures. Persons who required to reside for long periods in Perth replaced their original wooden buildings by brick ones. Bricks early in the year were purchased a £2 4s. per thousand, but later, as the result of more competition they sold at 30s. per thousand. Cartage by bullock drays was charged at the rate of 7s. per hour. Mr. Brockman's house was burnt down early in the year, and all his household effects were destroyed. This circumstance stimulated settlers to erect more substantial residences. Inns and hotels now appeared in greater numbers, not only in Perth and Fremantle but also in the more populated farming districts. In Perth the fronts of allotments were surrounded by paling fences; in Fremantle the most marked progress was probably evident. Its bare, barren appearance, with shrubs cut down for firewood, and herbage trodden to the ground, its few wooden houses and ragged tents, were superseded by a town laid out in regular streets. Stone houses with low walls and pretty porticoes reared heir heads behind stone palisades, and presented a more comfortable and prosperous view to the new arrivals at the port.
There was some talk of cutting channels over the flats in the Swan above Perth. It was apparent that this work would greatly assist navigation, and even facilitate agricultural progress, for by channels the farms on the upper reaches of the Swan could be more easily reached. Plans were drawn up and the work was subsequently commenced. Mr. Reveley was erecting a water mill on the Swan at Perth on the lines of the water mills so common in Italy. Other water mills soon sprang into existence in various places, but all suffered by the absence of a rapid stream of water.
Among the proposals formulated in 1832 was that of the establishment of a Bank. The difficulties of currency and the requirements of advances and discounts were really serious in the colony. In May a prospectus was submitted to the Governor by settlers soliciting an advance of £5,000 on the security of twenty-five solvent and responsible individuals. It was pointed out that if the Governor advanced money on the discount of bills at five per cent, "the colony would be served in an inconsiderable degree." Settlers were often obliged to borrow at twenty-five per cent. There was a good opening for the capital of moneyed men. His Excellency had not the power to meet the wants and wishes of settlers, and suggested the expediency of raising the money required, by subscription among the colonists. The discussions were renewed in August, and proposals were made to establish a Bank, but nothing further was done in 1832. There were numerous borrowers but no lenders.
Beyond the settlers who went to York in 1831 very few people merged to that important district for some time, and those already there were as isolated as Robinson Crusoe on his island. They were not able to make any material progress. On the Murray more activity was evidenced, but at Augusta and King George's Sound the populations remained very much as they were, and the pioneers were overcoming the initial difficulties of settlement. Those at Albany began to cut a road towards Swan River, and some fourteen miles were completed in 1832. The winter there was rainy and boisterous. The crops were good; the few settlers were timid and somewhat disheartened at their prospects.
The native troubles absorbed the attention of the Lieutenant-Governor, the Executive Council, and the settlers in 1832. From the beginning of the new year a lapse of some months of immunity from their depredations occurred. But their unpleasant experiences in 1831 caused the people to look with suspicion on their dark neighbours, and to prepare methods to oppose their onslaughts. Captain Stirling, in order to protect property, established a police force about the middle of the year. This body was composed of military, private people, and, eventually, of several natives themselves. Colonists pledged themselves and their property to support it. In a letter to Lord Glenelg, Captain Stirling mentioned as among his reasons for forming this organisation, "that unless a police force be established and maintained for the purpose of protecting, controlling, managing, and gradually civilising the aboriginal race of this country there will be a fearful struggle between the invaders and the invaded, which will not cease until the extermination of the latter be accomplished to the discredit of the British name." The corps had specific duties to perform when any serious situation arose. The natives enrolled in it proved themselves to be trustworthy, and, by their remarkable tracking propensities, to be invaluable adjuncts in the work.
About the month of May the first violence in 1832 was shown by natives. Two settlers, named Gaze and John Thomas, were sowing a small field on the Canning River near the subsequently formed Canning Road. Their whole attention was devoted to their occupation until they were aroused by the painful howling of their dog. They glanced towards the animal and saw that its ear was pierced by a native spear. Looking towards the knoll which rose from their small field they observed a party of natives led by the redoubtable Yagan. The aboriginals seemed greatly excited, and cautiously drew near in a most hostile manner. It was impossible for the men to reach their hut as the natives had gathered on their path. Without loss of time one man seized an axe and another a spade, and both set off at the top of their speed towards a military barracks situated more than a mile away from the opposite side of the river. The aboriginals noisily pursued them. The Canning was bridged by a fallen tree, which, from the water running over it, was slimy and slippery. Bounding upon this Gaze and Thomas sought to reach the other side. Thomas successfully accomplished the feat; the natives were so close that spears shrieked dangerously around him. His companion slipped in the stream, and was speared in the back. Notwithstanding this wound he made the opposite side, but not until he was pierced by several spears. Thomas recognised that he could render his partner no assistance, and as spears continued to rain down around him, he rushed to the barracks for assistance. With a soldier and another man he returned to the river. The natives had disappeared; Gaze was still alive, but groaning loudly in his agony. He died a few hours afterwards.
About the same time some fifteen natives approached the military barracks on the Swan, near Guildford. It is doubtful whether their intentions were hostile, but before they came very close the soldiers fired upon them. The aboriginals hurried away into the woods. In June serious onslaughts were made by natives on the live stock of settlers. During the absence of one colonist they drove into the bush several of his cattle. Ten men formed a band and pursued the robbers. They came upon them at night asleep in their camp. The natives did not at once rise from their resting-places; one of their dogs rushed out upon the settlers, who fired at the animal, but in the excitement of the moment shot one of their own party. The natives escaped unhurt. Numerous pigs and cattle were killed or driven away by the aboriginals. According to one estimate more than 200 pigs were lost to settlers. The flesh of these animals would have sustained the white population for some time, but, notwithstanding the scarcity of fresh food, they wisely did not encroach upon their own stock. Many of them now regretted that they had not done so. It was a waste of precious time to have to employ their servants to do nothing but watch their flocks, their herds, and droves. Numerous spears were thrown through the windows of settlers' huts, and struck in dangerous proximity to the bodies of the inmates.
On the 26th June settlers held a meeting at Guildford to discuss the native question. Strong and serious resolutions were carried expressing the opinion that the colony must be abandoned if ample steps were not taken to protect property. These resolutions were presented to the Governor, and as a result of this and other meetings the police corps was established. But the natives were ignorant of such things as resolutions. As an instance of their hardihood, in July they speared several of the Governor's own pigs. A soldier while proceeding on the 9th July from Perth to Guildford afterwards announced that he was attacked by natives; he shot two dead. Another soldier on the Murray, so it was said, was speared and severely wounded by blacks, and in retaliation killed five and wounded many more of them.
The native warrior Yagan was the most serious aggressor. After the murder of Gaze the Government offered a reward for his apprehension, and in October he and two other natives concerned in the affair were seized by two boatmen. The aboriginals were fishing in the river, and the boatmen were able to entice them into the boat. They were there secured and taken to Perth. Lieutenant-Governor Irwin and his Executive decided to imprison them on Carnac Island, They were taken across and a guard was engaged to look after them. Mr. R. M. Lyon was appointed superintendent. This gentlemen took a lively interest in the aboriginal race, and earlier in the year formulated schemes for their civilisation, which the Government was unable just then to accept. At Carnac he carefully studied the habits and language of the prisoners, and was able to glean much information from them relating to the country east of the Darling Ranges. In fact, these clever natives drew plans of the Avon and other rivers. Just when Mr. Lyon considered he was making strides towards civilising them they escaped from the island. In November a boat was incautiously left on the beach, which seizing, Yagan and his friends rowed over to Woodman's Point, and soon regained their old haunts. In his report on these men Mr. Lyon expresses the great hopes which dominated him during his sojourn on Carnac Island. "After being there a few weeks," he says, the "savageness of their disposition was mollified; they were becoming cleanly in their persons, cheerful in their manners, and orderly in their habits." Their health improved, and he was arranging to make a treaty of peace through them with all the native tribes, when their escape dashed his hopes.
The first outrage on white women was committed by natives on the Canning in November, when they speared a soldier's wife. This was considered a very serious departure, and served to intensify the hatred of many colonists for the aboriginal race.
The year 1832 was notable so far as exploration is concerned for the journeys which were made into the southern country. In following years little was done other than to elaborate the information gained on previous occasions. The community was satisfied that it had a splendid estate, but it wished to discover how far the good patches of soil extended. Mr. Dale and Dr. Collie supplied the most interesting data.
Mr. Dale was at this time stationed at King George's Sound, and late in 1881 he was requested by Captain Stirling to proceed to a high hill named Toodyeverup, or Toolbrunup, near the middle of the Koikyennuruff range of mountains. The Governor wished to ascertain the nature of this hill, and also of the adjacent country. In addition, the King George's Sound natives had described two kinds of grain—kuik and quannet—which the White Cockatoo tribe used for food, and which, they said, grew in the vicinity of the Koikyennuruff Range. The kuik resembled rice, and the quannet was compared to a large pea. The former was eaten raw, the latter was ground and cooked in the ashes like a damper.
On the morning of the 21st January, a party comprising' Mr. Dale, Mr. Clint, three soldiers, and Nakina (a native of King George's Sound) left Albany. They walked through the cleared parts of the settlement, and entered the bush and woodlands to the north. Soon they struck a native path leading over the higher lands, which they followed until they were confronted by the King River. They crossed and resumed their journey on the other side, and a north by east course was made over hills, by large lakes, and through voiceless valleys, until they reached the eastern slopes of Porrong-u-rup. Thence they entered a dense forest which seemed to have no outlet, but after struggling through its dark recesses they emerged into an open country almost destitute of trees. Over this plain, bisected here and there by dry channels, they made a tedious course to the vale of Kalgan. The river was here but a chain of brackish ponds, from which the ground rose gradually into flattened eminences, bordered with narrow strips of white gum trees. Ramparts of mountain ranges were observed from these eminences, and presented bold and varied outlines, and gave some character to a scene that was otherwise monotonous and even depressing. On the 23rd January, while they were priding themselves on the killing of a kangaroo, they fell in with the White Cockatoo and the Will tribes of natives, with Nakina as interpreter they asked many questions of the country round about and the ranges for which they were making. One native named Armie consented to guide them to their destination. He conducted them to the western base of Toodyeverup, where was a deep channel with pools of brackish water. There the party camped.
Soon after daylight on the following morning Dale, Clint, Nakina and Armie set out to ascend Toodyeverup. At its base was a small spring of excellent water where they were able to slake their thirst—an agreeable change after the brackish liquid they had been compelled to drink. Then they went up the mountain, climbing from crag to crag, until they reached its summit. Dale reckoned the elevation to be about 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. The ascent proved so steep and difficult that even Nakina and Armie could not accomplish it, and they stopped half-way up. Dale pushed on though he hoped for little from the view because of clouds which enveloped its apex. Just as he gained the top the clouds cleared away, but the panoramic view disclosed was disappointing. Though the area presented was large no object of importance was discerned; the principal feature was the dead-level appearance of the low lands. The surface of the immense plain to the north and east-south-east was diversified with open downs and extensive forests, whereon were numbers of bright bare spots which were supposed to be salt lakes. Towards the sea coast the country was mountainous, but as smoke rose from several native fires in that direction, the view obtained was obscure. He took angles and bearings of his position and descried Mount Hallowell, Talyuberlup, Mount Manypeak, the east hummock of Porrong-u-rup, Baldhead, Mount Gardener, Mount Barker, Yakkerlip, Mount Lindsay, and a peak of Koikyennuruff.
A start homewards was made on the 9th, and after a fatiguing day's journey the explorers reached a lagoon at the northern base of Porrong-u-rup. Two miles beyond they passed through a gorge in the range, and in descending the southern side were gratified to discover a rich tract of land covered with verdant grasses and trees of gigantic growth. This valley resembled those at Mount Bakewell, and was watered by a spring of delicious water. On the 27th they returned to Albany. A limited area of fertile soil was discovered by Dale, but he did not obtain specimens of the kuik and quannet seeds. The White Cockatoo natives were cross-examined, but their replies were vague and could not be relied on.
Dr. Collie made another excursion from King George's Sound in 1832. Leaving Albany on February 9, he crossed King River at the usual native wading place, and then with his party went over to the Kalgan River. He inspected the country north-east and west of the river, elaborating much of the information gained in the previous year. Some fine soil with excellent pasture was discovered here and there. He went near the Koikyennuruff Range of mountains, and had Porrong-u-rup as one of his most conspicuous landmarks. The Kalgan was more thoroughly examined than on his previous excursion, but taking the country as a whole, little of general interest was observed, and on the 12th February Albany was reached.
With indefatigable energy Collie continued to go out into the surrounding country, but the only other expedition of any note was that made in four days and a half at the end of May and beginning of June. He went 65 miles north by east of Albany, and passed on the south and west side of Mount Barker. The country inspected held out in his opinion special facilities for overland communication with Swan River. Abundantly grassed valleys and hills were traversed, which were fed by ample springs of water. In one meadow he found a bullock in high condition feeding; he was well satisfied with the country he inspected near Mount Barker.
The local Government was supplied with useful information of the south-west coast and the inland country by Mr. J. C. Bussell. During 1832 that gentleman made several excursions. On the McLeod Creek he found some promising country. After traversing sandy land he came upon rising ground containing rich red loam and pleasing verdure. He went to high hills near Cape Leeuwin, through shrubby country and bush so dense that the ground was covered with moss. He inspected a remarkable "white patch," composed of limestone, sand, sea shells, and decomposed rocks, which, observed from a distance, glinted in the bright sunlight. Above the surface of this peculiar vista, were what Mr. Bussell termed "strong excrescences resembling the stems of shrubs, sometimes very slender, sometimes as large as the timber of a large tree; one might imagine with the poet that Nature had first given birth to a thicket, then framed a shell when the work was done, and changed the hazel wainds to stone." Upon closer examination they appeared to be the harder parts of rock which resisted the action of the atmosphere; probably zoophytes, embedded in a more friable matrix, which had disappeared from around them. After many labours in inspecting occasional good country he returned to his home at Augusta.
Later on he went on an expedition to the River Vasse. He encountered some good land on the way, but when nearing the river the country improved rapidly. The ground was there covered with a vivid green, succulent grass; was smooth and regular, and unsullied with burnt sticks or blackened grass trees. It was spring-time, and the meadows were ornamented with brilliant and varied wild flowers. The daisy, buttercup, and purple marigold commingled with bright scarlet blossoms, and presented a delightful confusion of rich tints. Mr. Bussell rhapsodises on the banks of the Vasse. In his journal he says, "Here was the spot that the creative fancy of a Greek would have peopled with dryad and naiad, and all the beautiful phantoms and wild imagery of his sylvan mythology: wide waving lawns were sloping down to the water's edge; trees thick and entangled were sloping over the banks. One in the centre of the rapids had taken root in the very rocks over which the water's tumbled; its bended trunks and tortuous roots seemed to indicate that it had struggled more than once to gain the perpendicular form from which it had been thrust by the rude torrents." He described the soil as "always good." Three natives hailed him from the other side of the river, and then waded across. Bussell had much communication with them, and took the trouble to institute comparisons in their language. The splendid fields of grass waved like corn to the breeze. Finally, his party made its way back to Augusta, over meadows and hills decked with wild flowers and amply supplied with game.