Mr. Dale's Journal of an Expedition from King George's Sound to the Koikyennuruff Range of Mountains

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Mr. DALE'S JOURNAL of an Expedition from King George's Sound to the Koikyennuruff Range of Mountains.

Albany, King George's Sound, 

January 29th, 1832.  

Having been requested by his Excellency to proceed to a high hill named Toodyeverup, near the middle of the Koikyennuruff range of mountains, to ascertain its nature, and that of the adjacent country, and also, if possible, to find out whether the Kuik[1] and Quannet, two kinds of grain described by the natives of King George's Sound, as used by those of that part of the country for food, grew in the vicinity of the range, I left the settlement on the morning of the 21st inst., accompanied by Mr. Clint, three soldiers, and Nakina, a native of King George's Sound, and followed for the first six miles a native path, which conducted us to a crossing place over a branch of King's river of considerable size, on the eastern side of Willy-ung-up. At half-past 11 o'clock, we reached, after meeting with numerous small streamlets, the principal branch of that river, which we forded at a spot where it was flowing to the north-east, between closely wooded and steep banks, covered with a scrubby vegetation. We halted here till half-past one, and on resuming our journey, arrived, after walking four miles, at an extensive swamp, which Nakina informed us was called "Trow." One mile and a half beyond this, we bivouaced at a fine stream of water running through deep pools to the eastward.

The district we traversed to-day was very indifferent, although some patches of good land and grass were observed. We estimated that we had advanced twelve miles in a direct line from the settlement; the actual distance we had walked being about seventeen.

On the 22nd, we proceeded five miles, preserving a N. by E. course, to a large lake with an island in the centre called Morandee. As Nakina informed us that we should not find any water till we reached the Kalgan or French river, distant about eleven miles, we stopped here for two hours. From Morandee we proceeded over hills of moderate elevation, ascending gradually the eastern side of the Porrongurup Mountains, from which the following bearings were taken:

Mount Clarence ...N. 195° E.

Mount Manypeak ..... 152

Mount Gardener ......151

A quarter of a mile further on, we obtained a view of great extent, the after-mentioned objects being very conspicuous:

Toolbrunup ..............N. 19° E.

Koikyennuruff.............. 45°

Yungeunner (Conical) .......37°

Mondyurup, (a hill of the Koikyennuruff Range).. 12°

From Porrongurup we descended into a plain of considerable extent, with a dry water channel passing through it, the soil of which was composed of a loam of a light sandy nature, with tolerable herbage. In our progress towards the river, we emerged from the dense forest through which our road had hitherto lain, into an open country, almost destitute of trees; a continuation of the plain mentioned yesterday being observed to extend to the north and south of Porrongurup to the Koikyennuruff Range, and to the east and west as far as the eye could reach. On arriving, in four miles, at some pools of brackish water, we stopped to breakfast, and filled our kegs with sufficient for one day.

One mile N. by E. from this, led us to the Kalgan, which, at this season of the year, was composed of a chain of brackish ponds. The ground near it sometimes rises into flattened eminences of little elevation, and of inconsiderable extent, and a narrow border of flooded and white gums is the only indication of your approaching the river. The view, however, that presents itself, of the bold and varied outlines of the two ranges of mountains, which I before mentioned, gives a character to the scene, which is otherwise extremely monotonous.

23rd.—On the northern side of the river, the bed of which declines where we crossed it to the S.E., at a distance of four miles, and immediately after having killed a kangaroo, we fell in with a party of the White Cockatoo and Will Tribes, Nakina acting as our interpreter. One of the former, on being told where we were going and asked where there was water, consented to accompany us, and conducted us to an opening in the range on the westem base of Toodyeverup, which these natives pronounced Toolbrunup, where we found a deep channel with ponds of brackish water, but even this was preferable to the Kalgan.

As the mountain seemed the most accessible on the side towards us, I decided upon remaining here for one day, for the purpose of ascending it and examining the adjacent country.

Soon after daylight, accompanied by Mr. Clint, Nakina, and the native, whose name he told us was Armie, I set out to ascend Toolbrunup, (distant about three miles). On arriving at the base, we found a small spring of excellent water. In two hours from this, after climbing from rock to rock, I reached the summit, which I should ccmceive to be elevated nearly 3000 feet above the level of the sea, the steepness of the ascent proving too difficult even for Nakma and Armie, who could not be persuaded to proceed more than half way up. The clouds in which it had been enveloped since our arrival—having cleared away just as we had gained it—the panoramic view which was thus obtained of the country, for many miles in every direction, did not present any object of importance; the principal feature being what appeared a dead level, no hills of any magnitude being visible from N. to E.S.E. The surface of this immense plain was diversified with open downs and extensive forests, and with a great number of bare spots, which were supposed to be salt lakes, from their resemblance to some we had passed near Toolbrunup. Towards the sea-coast, the country was mountainous, but the native fires in that quarter materially obstructed our view. From this elevation, a considerable number of angles and bearings were taken; the most important being—

Mount Hallowell N. 231° E.
Talyuberlup (a high hill three miles distant,) 265
Mount Manypeak 167
From latter—Angles to right
East Hummock of Porrongurup 42° 35'
Bald Head (hazy) 18. 35
Mount Gardener 8. 25
Mount Barker 67. 27
Yakkerlip 70. 35
Mount Lindsay 72. 32
Angles to left.
Peak of Koikyennuruff 66.

25th.—On our return homewards, our course was more to the westward, and we reached a lagoon after a fatiguing day's journey at the northern base of Porrongurup, which was called, by a party of the Will tribe who paid us a visit, Nicnarup.

On the 26th.—Two miles brought us to the gorge in the latter range, and we were exceedingly gratified, on descending the southern side, in discovering a rich tract of land covered with grass, which, even at this season, was quite green, and with gum trees of a gigantic growth; this valley, which resembles those at "Mount Bakewell," was supplied by a spring of delicious water. The richest part of this tract was about three-quarters of a mile in breadth, and extended to our right and left long the side of the range. The ascent and descent of the gorge is by no means abrupt, the slope on the southern side not being too great for the purposes of agriculture.

On the 27th, we came upon the road which has been commenced towards Swan River, about ten miles from the settlement, where we arrived at one o'clock p.m.

GENERAL REMARKS.

In taking a retrospective view of our proceedings, and in describing the general appearance of the country, the nature of its soil, as well as of the different specimens collected, it will be sufficient to mention, with respect to the first—viz. the appearance of the country, that from King George's Sound and from thence to the Koikyennuruff Mountains, and the very distant land seen to the northward and eastward of them, is one vast plain, covered for twenty miles from the settlement by a dense forest of mahoganies, banksias, &c.; from this to as far as we penetrated, the country is open, and almost destitute o£ trees of any magnitude.

These districts are watered by the Kalgan and King-rivers, the numerous tributaries of the latter supplying an abundance of fresh water, but the former, where it was seen by us, was a series of brackish ponds. Several salt marshes were also observed in the neighbourhood of Toolbrunup. The relative positions in which the best land was seen, I shall describe as follows:

The first that was met with was in descending the north-eastern side, and along the base of Porrongurup; the next was on the banks of the Kalgan; and the third, which was exceedingly rich, commenced on the southern side of the chasm of the last-mentioned range. We were unsuccessful in our endeavours to discover the Kuik or the Quannet. The answers of the natives, from whom I had hoped to gain some information to our numerous interrogations on the subject, were generally so very vague, that it was impossible to place any reliance upon them; but it does not appear that they grow in the neighbourhood of Toolbrunup.

The Porrongurup and Koikyennuruff ranges rise out of these plains; the base of the first extending about thirteen miles in a longitudinal direction from nearly E. to W., and the whole, as far as I could see, composed of granite, the blocks on the top being very conspicuous. The latter, which was thirty miles long, and of an average breadth of four, had its base strewn with small fragments of granular and milk quarts, whilst from half-way up the mountain to its summit, nearly horizontal strata of clay-slate and granular quartz, succeeded each other, the former being about eighteen inches, the latter four feet thick.

(Signed,)  R. DALE, 

Ensign, 63rd Regiment.

  1. Several of the natives of King George's Sound tribe describe these grains; the first, or Kuik, as growing on the north and eastern foot of Koikyennuruff, and the latter, or Quannet, to the N. east of Koikyennuruff, and also on the northern base of Toodyeverup. None of them have seen these grains, but they describe the stalks on which they grow as being from six to eight feet, the size of one's finger, with protruding long ears, which are pendant from a succession of joints. The Kuik they say resembles our rice, and the Quannet grain is compared to a large pea for size. Their account is that the White Cockatoo Tribe, who inhabit the district, eat the Kuik raw, but beat the Quannet tied up in their skins, bake it, and cook it in the ashes, like a damper.
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