Journal of Lieut. Ad. Erskine, 63rd Regiment, travelling from Perth to the eastward, over Darling's Range, in the month of September, 1830
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JOURNAL of Lieut. Ad. Erskine, 63rd Regiment, travelling from Perth to the eastward, over Darling's Range, in the month of September, 1830.
Monday, September 6th.—Started from Perth at 10 o'clock a.m. Made the left bank of the Swan River at Capt. Byrne's, by 4 o'clock p.m. Much difficulty in crossing the river; obliged to halt in consequence.
September 7th.—Started at day light from Capt. Byrne's, starting a S.E. course. By 3 o'clock p.m. had crossed an undulating country, intercepted with swamps and lagoons. By 5 o'clock p.m., had crossed a fine clear mountain stream, running about S.S.W.; also had crossed the first tier of hills. Ascent and descent sudden, but easy of access. Surface rocky, with iron stone, and thinly wooded. From summit had a distinct view to the westward of Garden and Rottenest Islands, also of the Swan and Canning Rivers. Could not distinguish any houses. After marching about twenty-five miles, bivouaced on a fine clear mountain stream, having a north-easterly course.
September 8th.—Started at day light. Course east. Crossed several tiers of hills, some of which bore east and west. General appearance of the country, mountainous, some being detached. Surface, a continuation of iron stone. Fine open forest, chiefly of the blue gum and stringy bark. Crossed three mountain streams, running as before, to the north east: much difficulty in crossing one. Obliged to swim the horses twice. After a march of about eighteen miles, bivouaced on one of the streams alluded to, which evidently very recently had overflowed its banks to a perpendicular height of thirty feet, making it of considerable width, it at present being about twenty-five yards. Bay horse very much jaded. N.B. The stream fell two feet and a half during the night.
Thursday, September 9th.—Started at day light. Course as before. Morning very windy, with occasional hard squalls of rain. Kangaroo and birds in abundance. Crossed one very steep and high hill. View from the summit of no very great extent, except to the southward, where a very high blue mountain, distance about twenty-five miles, was visible. Appearance of the country, the same as yesterday. Tracks of emu. Bay horse exceedingly weak. Both of them with sore backs. After a march of about fourteen miles, bivouaced near a swamp.
September 10th,—Started at day light. Course east. After travelling for two hours over an undulating country, came on an extensive flat of about four miles. Fine open forest. Native huts, eight in number, very substantially built. Surface, iron stone and sand. Country again as before, exceedingly mountainous. Bivouaced under high rock of granite stone. Travelled about fifteen miles.,
September 11th.-,Started at day light. After travelling for about four hours, over an exceedingly hilly country. Surface nothing but rock, heavy sand, iron stone, besides a thick brushwood. The bay horse was unable to proceed. Halted for two hours and a half, during which time I ascended the summit of a very high hill, in hopes of finding water. A fine dear rivulet to the N.E., with rich green banks, was visible about five miles distant, made it by sun-set. Excellent food for the horses; the only good spot since my departure. Intend halting here all to-morrow, to rest the cattle. Bivouaced, after marching fifteen miles.
September 12th.—Walked on the banks of the stream mentioned. Traversed it for about six miles to the southward of the course of the stream. Found a continuation of very good soil, "chiefly a red loam." The very high blue mountain spoken of on Thursday, bearing to the southward, again visible in the same direction. Weather delightful, but "nights very cold". Bivonaced on the same ground as last night.
Monday, September 13th.—Started at daylight. Course east. Made the summit of a high hill by an almost imperceptible ascent. Had a fine clear view to the eastward for an extent of nearly thirty miles. Country appeared undulating and thickly wooded; towards the horizon mountainous. Traversed over a rich country for about six miles, when I made the summit of a very singular, and very high abrupt rock, bearing N.E. Had an extensive view to the eastward, as likewise to the southward, and N.W. The blue mountain spoken of was very visible, and appeared to run out into an extensive plain to the eastward. The mountains to the N.W. by no means so high as those towards the S.E. To the east had an extensive view of about fifty miles over a thickly wooded undulating country, inclining, as observed before, towards the horizon, to be mountainous. Could not see any water. Proceeded for about five miles over a rich hilly country, when we were met by natives, whom we found fishing, to our great and agreeable surprise, on the banks of the river described by Mr. Dale. Bivouaced, it being almost dark before we reached the river. March about twenty miles.
Tuesday, September 14th.—Started at day-light, following the course of the river, varying from N.N.W. to N.W. To cross it was totally impossible, on account of the depth of the mud. It appeared to have its source in the direction of the blue mountain spoken of. However, to clear up any doubt about its being the same river Mr. Dale discovered, I intend proceeding to his depôt. After marching five miles, we found his tracks which we followed that day for ten miles, over a fine rich pasture land. Crossed several small streams running east from the mountains into the river, which was thickly covered with shrubs and underwood, occasionally opening into a clear undisturbed stream. Bivouaced on its banks, after marching about fifteen miles.
Wednesday, September 15th.— Started at daylight. Continued our course on the banks of the river, following Mr. Dale's track. Still a continuation of rich soil, which seemed to prevail to some extent over the hills on the opposite banks. Horses again not able to proceed. After a severe day's march of about ten miles, over a very heavy country, we arrived at Mr. Dale's depôt; but to the mortification of the party, with the exception of the natives who were in company with us, about twenty-five in number, we found every thing damaged. Bivouaced near the same spot.
Thursday, September 16th.—Obliged to halt on the banks of the river, the horses not being able to travel. Natives become very numerous and rather troublesome, in fact, too friendly. A much more athletic tribe than those seen at Perth. "The whole party under the effects of purgatives, which we attributed to drinking the river water, the same having a peculiar taste; as also being very soft." Swans and wild fowl in abundance, as likewise kangaroo. Fearful the bay horse will not be able to return. Bivouaced on the same ground as yesterday.
RETURN HOME TO PERTH.
Friday, September 17th.—Started at day-light. Horses in much better heart. Traversed the course of the river for about five miles, where it had assumed a fine, clear, uninterrupted stream, running about three and a half knots, and about sixty yards wide, also very deep. We had crossed a wide mountain stream, running into the river. Changed my course to west, having the course of the river about west-north-west. After traversing an undulating country for about three miles, and crossing occasional mountain streams, running towards the river, we found a very sensible change in the soil varying at short intervals from a red loam to a sandy substance, which continued over a very gradual ascent. We were obliged to travel (for twelve miles), on account of not meeting with water, an unusual circumstance. Bivouaced near a swamp, after marching about twenty miles. ,' Fine open forest." Same style of country around me.
Saturday, September 18th.— Started at day-light. Course west. After crossing the swamp, traversed over a very hilly country of fine open forest, with occasional fine timber, chiefly mahogany. Surface same as the preceding day. Kangaroos and birds in great abundance. Bay horse again very much jaded. Obliged to halt in consequence. Bivouaced on mountain stream. Course about S.E., after a journey of eight miles.
Sunday, September 19th.— Bay horse not able to proccced till mid-day, and then not carrying weight. After travelling for about six miles over a hilly, stony country, of thick brushwood, I made the summit of a high mountain, (bearing N.W.), from whence was a distinct view of the sea in the horizon to the westward, as likewise some very large sheet of water. Appearance of the country, the same as described before. Bivouaced on a mountain stream running N.W. Marched about eight miles.
Monday, September 20th.—Started at day-light, following the mountain stream running N.W., which I conceived to be the source of the Swan River. Traversed it over precipitous rocks, occasioning waterfalls of no very great height. Found it to discharge itself immediately, at the base of the mountains into a large swamp. Bay horse again not able to proceed. Obliged to halt, after marching about six miles. Bay horse seized with the staggers; took from him about four quarts of blood. Visited by the natives, whom we could easily perceive had been in Perth. Bivouaced near the swamp.
Tuesday, September 21st.—Started at day-light. Bay horse much better, though not able to carry weight. Traversed round the south side of the swamp, where was found a wide stream running south, which we crossed, and then made a south-westerly course. After marching nine miles, made the Swan River about two miles above Mr. Jack's residence. We then proceeded for Messrs. Thompson and Trimmer's residence, where we crossed, and bivouaced about one mile and a half further down.
Wednesday, September 22nd.—Started at daylight. Bay horse much better, able to carry weight. Arrived at Perth 4 o'clock p.m.