Page:The History of Ballarat.djvu/33

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
2
HISTORY OF BALLARAT.

Company, Tasmania; Captain Hutton, of the East India Company's Service; and Mr. Henry Anderson. With them they took suitable equipment and provisions. From Bellpost Hill they saw in the distance, north-westward, a mount, to which they directed their course, steering their way by compass, and thus they arrived at and ascended Mount Buninyong. From the Mount the explorers saw fine country to the north-westward, Lake Burrumbeet, and the distant ranges of the Pyrenees and the Grampians. An ocean of forest, with island hills, was all around them, but not a speck visible that spoke to them of civilisation. But the promising landscape drew the explorers on westward and north-westward. They descended the Mount, the party divided, their compass-bearings were not well kept, the provision-cart failed to be at the appointed rendezvous, and thus, broken into sections, the explorers found their way back to the coast, some of them unable to find their provisions, and therefore fasting by the way.

In January of the next year explorers set out again. The party this time consisted of Messrs. J. Aitken, Henry Anderson, Thomas L. Learmonth, Somerville L. Learmonth, and William Yuille. The starting point was Mr. Aitken's house, at Mount Aitken, and thence the explorers went towards Mount Alexander, which at that time had just been occupied by a party of overlanders from Sydney, consisting of Messrs. C. H. Ebden, Yaldwin, and Mollison. From Mount Alexander they followed the course of the Loddon, passed over what has since been proved to be a rich auriferous country, and bore down on a prominent peak, which the explorers subsequently called Ercildoun, from the old keep on the Scottish border, with which the name of the Learmonth's ancestor, Thomas the Rhymer, was associated. Their course brought them to the lake district of Burrumbeet and its rich natural pastures. The days were hot but the nights cold, and the party, camping at night on an eminence near Ercildoun, suffered so much from cold that they gave the camping place the name Mount Misery. There was water then in Burrumbeet, but it was intensely salt and very shallow. Next year, 1839, Lake Burrumbeet was quite dry, and it remained dry for several succeeding summers. It was covered with rank vegetation, and