Page:The Visit of Charles Fraser to the Swan River in 1827.djvu/30

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stream, and a soil of richest loam, throwing up immense quantities of herbaceous plants, amongst which I observed thistles[1] of 11 feet in height. I found the soil, on examination, to exceed 10 feet in depth. On digging the sand on the beach we found abundance of fresh water, while the soil with which the hills are covered is of the finest description to the very summit.

"At Cape Naturaliste the character of the soil continues without any visible change, but in the geological structure there is a very great difference. Here are immense cliffs, presenting at their base large beds of granite and schistose rock, passing alternately into each other, and observing in their dip an angle of 15deg. They were seen occasionally to enclose immense masses of pudding-stone, and an extraordinary aggregate containing petrifactions of bivalve shells and other marine productions, every part of which was covered with minute crystals of lime. Large masses of felspar were seen traversing these beds in various directions, and of various thickness. The granite rock was succeeded by a bed of micaceous schist, in an advanced stage of decomposition, over which were observed several caverns, which were found to contain rock-salt in crystallised masses in large quantities. The rock is decomposed pudding-stone, containing various sorts of granite, the salt having penetrated the most compact parts of the granite. The base of the cavern is a coarse sandstone, the whole covered with limestone. The southern extreme of the cape consists of lofty cliffs, presenting two ranges of superb caverns, the lowest of which we explored[2]. The great or outer cavern is about 40 feet high at the entrance, 40 feet in breadth, and about 90 feet in depth. Into this cavern the sea rolls at high water, over immense blocks of granite, in awful grandeur. The stalactites in the cavern are many of them from 20 to 25 feet in length, covered with minute Cryptogamic vegetables of fantastic colors and form. The walls are clothed with the same substances, which give to the whole an extraordinary appearance. The second cavern is distinct from the first. The entrance is about 20 feet in height and 20 in breadth, increasing in height and breadth further in. The stalactites and stalagmites are abundant, and of the purest white. The former were observed to exceed 15 feet in length. There was a remarkable circumstance observed at the entrance of the cavern, the stalactites being all bent outwards, as if a gale of wind was perpetually


  1. At the locality referred to Riédlé, the chief gardener of the French fleet, in 1801, sowed vegetable seeds, and it is probable that here, as at the upper reach of the Swan, some thistle seeds were accidentally introduced.
  2. Adjoining the marine caverns of Cape Naturaliste is a series of limestone caves, extending about 50 miles to the neighborhood of Cape Hamelin, which have been opened out by the Government. In some respects they rival, if not surpass, the Jenolan Caves of New South Wales.