Notes of an excursion to the Vasse from Augusta by Capt J. Molloy
Monday, 7 January 1833. On Monday 7th January we proceeded up the Blackwood as far as the Adelphi (Mr Bussell's,) breakfasted, and after arranging our Knapsacks, Messrs John and Alfred Bussell and a party of the 63rd took advantage of river carriage as far as it was available for our purposes; disembarked at the "Chapman", and made towards the road a mile distant, walked about 8 miles through a thickly wooded country, Soil various, Sand prevailing; in our course we passed two running Streams, and found water at other places in Swampy parts, after taking coffee retired to rest.
Tuesday, 8 January 1833. Breakfasted at daylight. We moved ½ 5 over the same Style of country as yesterday with occasionally Small open patches of Land for the two first miles; we halted at a Small Streamlet to refresh; continuing our march, we crossed a broad belt of Heather, rising four of five feet above our heads; it was marshy beneath, but firm footing, a Stream of pure water meandering through it; perhaps the rate at which it flowed (3 miles an hour) would scarcely authorize the use of that pastoral term. ¾ of a mile further the trees were more dispersed, the land tolerably good; we passed a Sort of ambuscade of native construction for taking or disabling Kangaroos; if enclosed, it would form a many sided figure, perhaps an octagon; as well as I can recollect — in the centre, the ashes of a small fire remained, from thence rows of lattice work were rudely constructed, the intermediate spaces at the extremities made up by a Species of trou de loup about 9 inches wide, and 3 feet in length, by 3 feet in depth. The Soil varying from hitherto a sandy loam, to a blue coloured clay; we came to another Stream running over a pebbly bed at the Same pace as the last one, the trees no longer marked we tood a northerly course; and Saw two native women, who fled at our approach. The day being very sultry we halted at 11 o'clock, and remained until after 3, then continued for about ½ mile further; we came to an extensive Swamp with small Streams flowing through it. Mr Bussell concluded it was the River, his object
beingwas to cross it at a point more practicable and distant; after passing it we halted for a brief Space, and sent a party to the Westward, Mr B and I took the Eastern direction, proposing to reunite after making a reasonable reconnoissance in Search of the Rapids, which we Succeeded in gaining at the distance of ¾ mile, on returning to our point of departureseparation we were again joined by our other companions. Took Coffee, and retired to rest.
Marched at ½ 5; in the course of the first hour we passed through an open forest country, the elevated parts covered with masses of old red Sand Stone, the lower lands the same description of country, with a gravelly Surface; we passed two water courses and found food water, several other dry beds. After this, the Land began to improve from a red loam to a lighter colour; we halted at a Small Stream which we conjectured would be the last point for meeting with water, until we Should reach the Vasse. The white gum prevailed here; we proceeded another mile, and unexpectedly fell in with two other streams, or it is possible it may be the first one presenting itself to us in its tortuous course; at ¾ of a mile from this place we entered an open but I should rather think Swampy Sort of country (in the winter Season), we halter, Mr Bussell having discovered that he had list his telescope at the last resting place, he returned in Search of it and after an absence of two hours joined us, but without Success. We resumed our course passing over much good open forest land. We fell in with an old bivouac of Mr Preston's and entered on some extensive plains, the Soil a Sort of blue clay not of a very tenacious nature nor of promising fertility, and passed onto some open forest land, the Soil improving, and Spots here and there presenting themselves of picturesque beauty, the bark of the trees preserving their natural colour, undefaced by the occasional burnings, which may be attributed to the absence of thick underbrush; we Saw Several Kangaroos, reached the Vasse computing to be about 5½ miles from Mr Preston's bivouac on the plains; drew up for the night having bagged four birds in the course of the day; with the aid of a Camp Kettle and the addition of Some onions, fabricated some Soup. ...
...parts bagged two before breakfast, we left two of our party at our encampment and followed the general course of the river for about four miles, which occasionally presented itself in pools; the land open, grass prevailing with occasional clumps of the leafless acacia (quese). Some large trees occasionally interspersed; arrived at the sand flat and followed an inlet for about 500 yards which terminated in a large track of Swampy land with the indication of two Small Streams, containing pools of fresh water; returned to our Bivouac which we reached about 2 o'clock.
Friday, 11 January 1833. Moved this morning to the junction of the Vasse with the broad expanse of the inlet; took some refreshment of Perch newly caught; they were excellent in quality, and large in Size. After breakfast we followed the line of the Inlet to a Small River; in our course, arrived at the Southern outlet of the River; ¾ of a mile further, made the 2nd outlet, forded both these, and continued along the bay for 3 miles, then turned inland, and reached
at our bivouac at 5 o'clock.
Saturday, 12 January 1833. We went along the right bank of the Vasse ¾ of a mile, and met with a native path leading to a pass across the river; we followed another pass for some distance which le
ad to the head of the Western brance of the Estuary or Inlet; we turned it, and took our departure from the Vasse. Walking due North we reached the beach in ¾ of a mile. Walked a Short distance along the beach, Cape Naturaliste NNW 302° another extreme point 30°; finding the day oppressively hot we returned to our encampment by another route which brought us on the Estuary at ¾ of a mile distant from it.
Sunday, 13 January 1833. Mr Bussell read divine Service to the party after Breakfast. In the evening we moved 3 miles up the river for the convenience of fire-wood.
Monday, 14 January 1833. At 6 we made a movement ENE for 4 miles and came in contact with a Small river; we took a northerly course; and passed through in the early part a Sandy forest country, latterly more open; I found the Convolvulus amidst some luxuriant herbage; at a Short distance arrived on the banks of a river flowing NW, abour 30 yards wide. We killed 3 Teal and caught 3 fish, then moved up the river in search of a passage, at about ¾ of a mile we found one, the bed of the river of old red Sand Stone in large massive rocks winding to a small rivulet of water; after crossing we resumed our northerly course & rounded the head of a dry bed of blue mud having a general direction to the SE; crossed a narrow Strip of grass land, and encountered a piece of water, which we endeavoured to cross at the point of contact; but finding it muddy and difficult to traverse we crossed higher up, and continued our course until we came to a large Sheet of water, Supposed to have its origin in a river to the SW; in continuing our course we arrived at a Species of natural canal running parallel with the coast, and joining the northern mouth of the Vasse, at ½ a mile distant from us, the white Stump at the mouth of the river bearing SW by W ? SW ½ W. The beach is about 30 yards distant along which we walked about 3 miles, wading over both the Vasse Outlets.
Tuesday, 15 January 1833. After breakfast, following this morning the bed of the Vasse for a Short distance, we found it diffuse itself into a number of dry beds of Small winter Streamlets; one of the principal of these branches we followed in a direction varying from SE to W for about 2 miles, and then took an easterly direction. The land was very inferior, approaching to absolute barreness, with the exception of ill shapen timber forcing its way through the red Sand Stone gravel and large masses of rock. We took a northerly course home, and found the land improve as we reached our encampment.
Wednesday, 16 January 1833. Packed up to return homewards.
Thursday, 17 January 1833. Bivouacked on the Chapman.
Friday, 18 January 1833. Reached the Adelphi at 8 o'clock and arrived at Augusta at 12.