Page:History of West Australia.djvu/143
rising from a rapid stream, which Grey named the Lushington River, in honour of his companion. Over these regions are some of the beauty spots of Western Australia, and Grey became descriptive in his journal. More lofty and isolated pillars of sandstone were inspected, of such grotesque shapes as to make them awesome to the remote explorers. Then were passed numerous water-courses, deep, reedy lagoons, and a few parties of natives. On the 22nd December, some blacks attacked them, approaching under the ample shelter of huge rocks. But their attack was short-lived; it was ended as soon as Grey placed his rifle to his shoulder and fired. The natives fled.
Another excursion was begun on January 6th, to examine the land between Port George the Fourth—by which their tents were pitched—and Hanover Bay. The proportion of good country to the bad was small, although some of the soil was highly fertile, and there were rich meadow plains.
Previous to this, the schooner was sent to Timor for ponies to assist them in their journeys, and she returned on 17th January. Specimens of plants were collected, a garden was formed, and sheds were built round their camp. With the ponies a party left the seaboard on 19th January for the interior. They proceeded under heavy rains through ravine country, containing little vegetation. At the outset, the ponies were troublesome, but so great were the privations of the heavy journey that they soon quietened, and finally became so exhausted that seven died. Lieutenant Grey and Corporal Coles, who led the main body and marked out the route they were to follow, were attacked on 11th February by about twenty natives. On this occasion, Grey found it advisable to shoot the chief—the same person who led the previous attack. Grey was wounded on the hip by a spear, and was laid up for some days.
An encouraging distant view of running water, glinting in the sunlight, was observed on the 28th February, and passing over picturesque basaltic country, on the 2nd March they came upon the banks of a river. From their vantage point it was estimated to be four miles wide, decked with many verdant isles. Grey christened this stream the Glenelg River, after Lord Glenelg. Innumerable mosquitoes annoyed the travellers, and at night while they took rest near the river's banks they were kept awake by the shrill cries of sea birds. Above them in the dark foliage of the trees they watched the movements of brilliant fire-flies.
Up gentle slopes, down shady hills, and over fertile flats of the Glenelg they wandered. Large, thick-foliaged trees adorned the banks; beneath them was an abundance of young grass. Grey and his men went in a north-easterly direction, on March 7, and traversed fertile and picturesque country. On their left were hills covered with thick grass, and on their right extensive plains, through which the Glenelg pursued its course. The whole country-side was thinly timbered for the first few miles, but subsequently contained dense forests. Strange native carvings and drawings (described in Chapter III.) were discovered on the Upper Glenelg, and then they reached such inaccessible mountainous country, that they were compelled to turn aside from their intended route. After great suffering and intense privation, they returned to where the Lynher was at anchor, and found the Beagle alongside. The explorers were almost unrecognisable, for their heavy work and severe trials had reduced them almost to skeletons. Grey sailed to Mauritius on the 17th May, 1838. He made no further explorations in Western Australia until 1839.
The party on board the Beagle had meanwhile been busily surveying and inspecting the coast. Upon arrival at Fremantle they were welcomed and entertained by Sir James Stirling, who expressed his doubts as to the success of Lieutenant Grey's expedition, and regretted that that gentleman had not remained on the Beagle. After some days, Captain Wickham proposed to proceed to the north-west, but late in November he became so ill that it was early in January before the Beagle sailed out on her mission. The interim was employed by the second in command, Lieutenant (afterwards Admiral) Stokes, in taking soundings, laying beacons, and making surveys in Cockburn Sound and its approaches, and also in short journeys inland.
Fremantle was left on January 4, 1858, and on the 6th January the Beagle passed outside the Abrolhos Islands. Deep sea soundings were taken every few hours. The vessel came to anchor on 16th January, in Roebuck Bay, about ten miles of Cape Villoret. The native Miago accompanied the navigators from the Swan River, and supplied them with numbers of strange stories of native tribes and of different phenomena observed on the coast.
Several men were landed on the shore to search for water, but not finding any they again went on board, after several natives, who were bigger men than those in the south, interviewed them. One evinced the peculiarities of neighbouring tribes by hurling a stone after the departing men. Another anchorage was made in the Bay on the 18th. After a slight examination of the bay, and an accident to Mr. Usborne, the master, by which he was shot in the side through the discharge of a revolver, the Beagle spread her sails and left Roebuck Bay on 22nd January. The navigators were satisfied that there was no inland water communication with Roebuck Bay. Keeping as close to the coast as circumstances would permit, taking soundings, and closely observing the inland country, which was generally described as composed of immense plains dimly merging into the horizon, the navigators anchored in Beagle Bay, named in honour of the visit.
With the utmost care and detail, Lieutenant Stokes described the various points visited on the coast, the flora, fauna, and geographical features; and especially the appearance, customs, and habits of the natives. He freely criticised the work of other navigators, giving credit where he believed it was due, and correcting previous reckonings. At nearly every part of the coast touched upon natives were seen, and many small encounters were had with them. As a rule they were much more treacherous than their fellows in the south, nor did they give so hearty a welcome to the white men. Their warlike disposition was evidenced in various ways, but their favourite method of showing their intentions to exterminate the curious visitors was either to court the aid of their boylya to remove them from the face of the earth, or to gather on some commanding hill, above a small party of explorers, gesticulate wildly, brandish their spears threateningly, and whirl their arms round their heads with the rapidity of a windmill in a strong gale. Miago was compelled to hold reluctant communion with his countrymen, but he could understand no word of their language. Indeed he preferred to keep a wide space between him and them, for he was possessed of an almost uncontrollable dread of the north men.
The northern country was stigmatised as infested with a veritable plague of flies. The ubiquitous insects irresistibly forced their way into eyes, mouth, ears, and nostrils. No physical power or loss of temper would stay them, and combined with their allies—the mosquitoes—their virulent ravishes were beyond the power of human endurance and patience. In the twilight they retired from sheer exhaustion, and then the mosquitoes assumed the offensive and continued the campaign.
Among other things discovered were a native raft, native