Mr. Dale's second Excursion to trace the Helena River, in December, 1829

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Mr. DALE'S Second Excursion to trace the Helena River, in December, 1829.

At a quarter before 8 o'clock, a.m. left Perth and forded the Swan River at the islands; at 9 proceeded in an E. direction over a sandy and thickly-wooded country, and in five miles crossed a swamp lying E. and W., and soon afterwards a rather extensive one to the S.E., which we again crossed to the S.W.; two miles and a half further passed a small one lying S.E. and N.W.; we continued our walk about the same distance of two miles and a half when we came to the dry bed of a stream, and continued along its banks till we reached the mountains, where we bivouaced at 4 p.m. in a small valley with pretty good soil, and grass in it, but having a rocky surface. The country we walked over to-day was, till within four miles of the mountains, sandy, where we met with a light sandy loam.—First day's journey thirteen miles.

Dec. 8th,—At 6+14 a.m. proceeded in an E. direction, and commenced the ascent of the mountain up a narrow valley, in which we found a red soil, which continued to our arriving at the top, when the country became sandy and exceedingly rocky; soon afterwards ascended a steep hill into a deep valley, with a small brook running through it from E. by E. to N. by. W., and in about five miles from our bivouac came to a high hill, from the summit of which we had an extensive view of the plain in the direction of Perth, and of the valley of the Helena River, the course of which was generally N.W.; one mile and a half further crossed the dry bed of a stream, its direction being N. and S., the soil here being pretty good, and the apparent course of the Helena from E.N.E.; one mile and three-quarters further passed a stream running N. and S., and directly afterwards crossed the Helena; it had little current, and its course was E. by S.; continued our march up the banks E. by S., and after passing a stream falling into it from the N., bivouaced in a small valley. Our walk to-day was over a hilly and rocky country, generally sandy, but occasionally meeting with good soil.—Fifteen miles extent of second day's journey.

Dec. 9th.—At 6+14 a.m. resumed our journey and ascended a high hill, from whence we had a view of the valley for seven miles to the S.E., terminated by a steep hill; we now lost sight of the Helena, and after having walked about four miles we crossed the dry bed of a small brook, lying N.N.E. and S., when we altered our course to E., and commenced gradually ascending a hill, on the side of which, for the distance of nearly one mile and a quarter, we found a good soil, and grass mixed with wild vetch in great luxuriance. On the hill becoming more steep we again came to a sandy soil, and from the summit obtained a view of the hill we saw on my last expedition up the river, bearing S. by E., and distant about nine miles, it being conspicuous from its peak, and rising apparently 14 or 1500 feet above the level of the river. Having changed our course to S. by E. we proceeded in the direction of it, as it seemed to promise, from its height, an extensive view of the country round it. After a walk of about nine miles, during which we frequently met with a good soil; we twice crossed what we supposed to be the Helena, but which here was only a chain of pools unconnected by any stream, the bed lying S. and S.E. through a valley of three quarters of a mile in length and half a mile in breadth, and having also passed several dry beds of streams, we ascended a hill shaped like the one for which we had been steering, and had a view to the E. for ten miles, bounded by high hills; bivouaced at a quarter past 4, p.m., near a small stream running E.S.E. Our walk to-day was frequently over a grassy country, with good soil; and although generally hilly and rocky, produced trees of great height and large dimensions.—Third day's journey sixteen miles.

Dec. 10th.—At 6+14 a.m. ascended a steep hill and came to a generally level and sandy country, appearing to decline to the S.E.; after proceeding about eleven miles came to a dry swamp, which we followed for a mile in an easterly direction, and changed our course to S.E. for half a mile further to endeavour to find water, but without our being able to procure any, when we again steered E. for the distance of four miles, to the top of a hill; from its summit the country appeared pretty level to the S.E., and a valley in that direction lying not far off, we directed our course to it to obtain water, which we found there in a swamp, being the first we met with after leaving a pool a mile from last night's bivouac; here we halted for the night. The most perceptible change to-day was from a hilly to a more level country, our course frequently lying over small plains, the soil on which was commonly of a sandy nature—Seventeen miles extent of fourth day's journey.

Dec. 11th.—At half-past 6 left our bivouac and steered south a short distance, as we supposed we were in the vicinity of a lake, on account of hearing a noise resembling swans; after proceeding about a quarter of a mile in the direction, without arriving at the end of the swamp, we returned homewards, our course for two miles being W.N.W.; from this point we obtained a view of the high hill before mentioned, bearing W. by S., towards which we accordingly steered, in the interim crossing two swamps, the first one being dry, and the direction of it S. by E. and N.; and that of the second, which had the bed of a stream and several pools of water in it, lying W.S.W. and E.S.E. a short distance from the latter one; the country, which had generally been pretty flat, changed and became more hilly, and the walking more difficult. In about twelve miles from our bivouac we arrived at the bed of a stream without any apparent current, its direction lying about S.S.E.; shortly after we commenced the ascent of the hill for which we had been steering; we found it very steep, and rising apparently to the height of 1,400 feet from its base. On arriving at its summit we had a most extensive view of the country in every direction, especially to the eastward, where a range of mountains could be distinctly traced, the most distant of which appeared to be about twenty-five miles, and was barely discernible; we could also see the smoke of numerous fires made by the natives, generally extending close to their base. Towards the N.W. we thought we could discover the plain, but as evening was closing we were not able to distinguish it clearly; halted at a quarter to 8 near a stream running from E. by S., our course from the hill being W.N.W. The early part of our walk to day was mostly over a level country, but it after- wards became hilly and the soil generally sandy.— Eighteen miles and a quarter extent of fifth day's journey.

Dec. 12th.—Proceeded at 6, a.m. W.N.W. and crossed a great number of small streams and swamps, generally running, with the exception of one, to the S.S.E., in the direction of the Helena River. The soil on the banks was good, although the breadth of it was inconsiderable; the hills were usually sandy and rocky, but the country was always well watered and thickly wooded.—Eighteen miles extent of the sixth day's journey.

Dec. 15th.—At 6, a.m. commenced the descent of the mountains, which were extremely rocky, down a valley, from which we steered N.W. across an open and level country, and for the first nine miles over a loamy country, when it changed to a sandy surface, and continued so till our arrival at the islands on the Swan River. After proceeding a mile from the last night's bivouac we entered a country generally low and level, which, from its appearance, seemed subject to being flooded; it extended for nine miles to within four miles of the Swan River.

(Signed) R. Dale.

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 (ACC), (Duration of Copyright) (February 2012).