Report of an excursion to the Northward from Augusta, by Mr J. G. Bussell, 1831

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Report of an excursion to the Northward from Augusta  (1831) 
by John Bussell

We followed for about three quarters of a mile the creek McLeod, being obliged by its directions to pursue a route rather to the north of our proper course, the land was Sandy, and abounded in a very course grit. After one attempt to cross, and a complete wetting we obtained the opposite side when the Country presented much the same aspect, the timber was of minor growth, and as thick as usual, excepting however some few grass tree plains, in which water was standing, though not over the shoes; rock was common (old red sandstone) After advancing about four miles the appearance of the Country improved, the trees were of taller proportions but very thick. We passed a large basin tolerably free from trees, it apparently had water in the lowest parts. On the rising ground from which I looked upon it, were large masses of Rock (old red Sandstone) From this place the face of nature became more and more pleasing, the soil a rich red loam, the bush of the same kind as that as Augusta, and the trees were very large and tall — here we caught a ...

Text no longer extant.

... this order of things continued till we came to the banks of a small run of water quite overgrown with reeds, here we halted, the prevailing timber the White Gum, previously Blue, though on the bad land Mahogany had been more general. We crossed the brook which held a Southerly course, the soil again began to deteriorate, tracks of Sand were few, but rock (Granite) abounded in extensive fields, the Country was hilly, though it affoded no elevation of sufficient height to enable us to overlook the trees. After about a mile and a half of such a Country we came to a large flat abounding in Banksia Grass trees and a Swampy Vegetation, this flat was a black Sand with however a considerable admixture of soil, beyond this bearing west we now observed rising ground, but before we began to ascend we came upon a brook surrounded with the most magnificent White Gum trees, the Scenery here was very beautiful, and on the banks that sloped down to the water we dined, with the prospect of steep acclivities before us and rivers branching but in every direction. The men supposed we had marched about 8 miles, and taking into the consideration the difficulties of travelling it perhaps was no more though we had walked from Seven o'clock till half past One.

After dinner half past three we again moved on and ascended a steep hill for three quarters of an hour without intermission; the whole of this tract was exceedingly fertile but greatly encumbered with Timber of stupendous size, all White Gums — I say the soil was fertile judging of it from the bush, taking into consideration the species and luxuriance the mimola and red crepper abounded, though the trees were very large and on that account perhaps appeared numerous, the ground was not shaded to the extent that might have been supposed owing to the nature of its foliage of that sort of tree, rock was every where visible where a fallen tree had turned up the soil (a limestone without organic impression as far as the short space I could devote to such enquiry permitted me to observe).

Ascending this hill we proceeded about two of three miles when the Blue Gum became occasionally interspersed; and I perceived through the trees on the left hand what appeared an open space concluding that I had nearly reached the summit of the hill, I made for this in order to obtain a prospect of the Country I had passed. We now entered a large grass tree plain from which we had a more extensive view, than I have ever obtained from any height in this Country so blue and even did the horison appear, that it was some time before I could persuade the men that it was not the Sea. The range of hills we were on seemed to stretch North and South, and before I was on it I never saw so large an assemblage of White Gum. Both the freshness of the wind and the leaning of the trees on the right of the plain from the West convinced me that the Sea was at hand, though we could hear nothing of it, nor did these indication deceive me for on passing another small thicket, having about the level of the top of the hills we saw before us the vast expanse of ocean about a mile and a half distant, from a high hill on the shore we saw Cape Leeuwen bearing SSW, the cliff overhanging Tumerian stream S. We supposed that we might have come over the land we had passed in a straight line and without impediment of bush or Swamps in a much shorter time judging the distance to be about Ten miles.

I have now conducted you to the Sea, we reached this at a quarter to Eight on the morning after we left Augusta having left our night berth rather upwards of half an hour I might have done it easily overnight, but I did not think myself so near.

The hills I had lately left stretched apparently to a great distance in a line with the Coast; that constituted a limestone range, the rock of solita texture and the same description as that on the white patch, and that occasionally but rarely seen on the Conical hills and again on the hills above Cape Leeuwin, to avoid the troublesome walking that the beach always affords we kept a little in land the soil was generally sandy and barren, but where the least symtom of an admixture of mould shewed itself the grass tree of stunted stature as though just struggling for existence was always seen and sometimes in extensive tracts. Before we came upon the white patch we encountered a valley the most difficult of passage of any thing I ever yet met with in the shape of bush, its vegetation consisted solely of shrubs advanced to a larger standard that usual in this Country the ground I suppose in consequence of perpetual shade and want of circulation was covered with moss, and on this we were obliged to crawl under the thicket, while sliding down and climbing up the numerous steep descents and acclivities in which the place abounded. Half a mile of this brought us upon that remarkable feature the white patch, and as I believe an opinion obtains that it is a Sandstone formed of hardened drift from the beach I shall insert my own observations.

The first peculiarity that strikes the eye is a large surface of limestone upon which in the hollows and lower parts is deposited a considerable portion of Sand acculumated both from the Sea short, which the presence of broken shells attest and from the gradual decomposition of the rock itself and that this process is going rapidly on I conclude from the following evidence — above the surface on every side may be seen strong excrescences resembling the stems of shrubs, sometimes very slender, sometimes as large as the timber of a small tree, one might imagine with the poet that Nature had first given birth to a thicket.

Then framed a Shell when the work was done
And changed the hazel wainds to stone.

They do not however on closer examination appear to leave in them any thing analogous to incrustation but to be the harder parts of the rock that have resisted the action of the atmosphere, probably Zoophytes embedded in a more friable matrix; which had disappeared from around them and blown away in the form of sand, there are nodutes of a closer grained limestone to be seen protruding above the surface sometimes yellow much resembling Grallo Anticko and sometimes black or slate coloured. From the White patch we walked on the beach in the hope of finding water, for we had now been many hours without, and it was very hot, and walking laborious we at last descried the wished for renovator trickling out of the rocks and as the Sun was now "followingpillowing his chin upon the western wave" we halted, fortunately found wood enough for a fire, and gave up the idea of reaching the Turnerian stream that night, limestone was still abundant on the beach wearing a foliated appearance the laminæ so thin that it may possibly become a matter of fiscal consideration to Government applied to the purpose of roofing. I had saved many specimens, but one of the men accidentally lost them by removing my cap in which I had placed them. We started at Eight o'clock the next morning preparing for an early march to Augusta. Instead of following the beach, I walked over the Sand hills, parts of these I found forming into stone of a slate color, cemented by what I could not tell; possibly an example, of the indurated sand-downs mentioned by Curier as observed by Peron on the coasts of New South Wales, the new formed rock was soft, so as easily to be cut by an axe, and occasionally presented a superficial crust. Passing those curious caverns which have procured the name of Sumers Chimney pots from the sombre like manner in which the Sea sends up the foam through them, first entering at an orifice on the beach, and their breaking out again through the chasm, that the falling in of the earth and rock has made above in the bush; we reached the Tumerian stream at half past nine where we shot a duck upon which, we dined, after we passed the Conical hills, from the head of the Creek I made a direct course for Augusta, and came out upon the river about a hundred yards above Mr Turners.

Rainy weather deluged me at Augusta two or three days; but when all was fair having arrived at the head of the Creek by water, I set out with the intention of following as near as possible the direction of the future road, I at first walked NE which course however, seeming however seeming to be too much inclining Easterly, and as the Estuary was in sight, I changed first for N by W so as to clear Creeks Swamps &c afterwards for N then again N by E, the land was at first Sandy and low abounding in iron stone, where it all elevated about the general flat surface, we encountered here some Native huts one particularly large and well made in the bottom of which was spread oblong mats of tree tree bark, I should nearly 6 feet long. The nature of the soil continued much the same, still we had passed the head of the Estuary, a mile of somewhere there abouts; it then improved, was rather hilly and the trees larger. We crossed a small brook running ESE the White Gum was frequent not thick, but large, the soil a red loam, the bush where unburnt, luxuriant. I passed several small brooks all flowing towards the river, the land was not now generally rocky, but we occasionally saw large blocks of Granite. A stream clear, rapid, and with banks free from underwood now crossed our path, here we dined at about two o'clock. While the men were preparing to Cook a Cockatoo, I as usual was preparing to make Memoranda, when Alas! I discovered I had lost my pencil case, this I regretted much both because it was a very handsome article, and because it prevented me making any more notes on the spot. Steering after dinner NE by N we came on some very swampy flat Ground, and afterwards passed some extensive sandy plains, nor indeed the Country improve when we entered the woodlands. A shrub having a leaf resembling the holly prevailed the true indication of meagre soil. A five o'clock we came upon a deep broad stream, which surprised me, as I had supposed we had dined upon the only one for which I remembered a corresponding Creek on the banks of the Blackwood; As I felt convinced that River was at hand I traced this stream for about half a mile to ascertain the point where they joined their waters, returning back we crossed by a tree, and continued our journey NE by N — which after about an hour brought us out again on the banks of the river, then flowing at right angles to our Course. I now steered first in a Westerly direction, the directly North till near Sun Set when I again made for the river purposing to remain on its banks for the night: As I still fancied myself far from home judging from the Creek I had just passed — We halted, made a fire, and a screen from the wind of the branches of the Beef wood or the Oak, for the Country had for some miles abounded with that valuable Timber which I understood is a remarkable thing neither the Soldiers nor I had ever seen so much of it before, the trees were many of them large and fine. many much injured by fire, they afford the lightest wood, and the only back that can be applied to the purposes of the tanner. These particulars concerning this tree I learned through the medium of the Sawyers who in my absence had visited my Grant on their way to Swan River, and had expressed their satisfaction at seeing it so abundant on the banks relating at the same time to my Brothers its various uses. In the morning after a walk of three quarters of an hour due North — having first made Westing enough to clear the windings, we against came upon the river, and saw on the opposite bank my House most unexpectedly. The distance I think in a direct line would be about ten or eleven miles from Augusta North half East or North by East, the most direct course. To that part of the river which extends most West near about my brothers house. Nothing could be freer from obstructions, with regard to declivities, water courses, and Swamps, that the path by which we came; a bridge rather more artificial than those on the Augusta, roads would be required over the largest stream we crossed, though a more Northerly direction would most probably render even that unnecessary.

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