Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/22

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State of the Swan River Colony 1st Jan., 1830.

institutions, over a great part of the Eastern Archipelago, it is presumed that every accession to our knowledge of its geographical features, however limited, will be acceptable to the Society.

Some strange opinions were at one time held regarding the formation of this extensive country. When the Blue Mountains behind Sydney were first passed, which was not till many years after the earliest establishment of the colony, and the waters there were found to take a westerly course, it was concluded that this new country—a recent creation according to some—had an inclination, or dip, on every side towards its centre, and that all the waters from the surrounding ridge fell, as from the rim of a basin, into a Mediterranean Sea, or a succession of swamps or marshes. And the loose surveys made of its coasts having afforded no discovery of any river of magnitude, tended to confirm this notion. Recent researches, however, and particularly those of Captain Sturt, have proved that, as in most other countries, the land dips from the central parts towards the coasts, and that the waters, as most waters do, drain off into the sea. On this subject I may quote a letter from Lieutenant-Colonel Dumaresq, Secretary to the Governor of New South Wales:—

' It will not perhaps be uninteresting to you,' says that officer,
' to be informed, that, simultaneously with Captain Sturt's
' discoveries, which have solved the problem respecting the construction
' of this Continent, it has been ascertained that the hypothesis, with regard
' to its post-diluvian formation, is as groundless as
' that of its absorbent interior marshes.

' Some caverns in the neighbourhood of Wellington Valley have
' lately been examined, and found to contain innumerable specimens
' of fossil bones, deeply imbedded in stalagmite, or
' in indurated clay. I have seen some of these bones, which must
' have belonged to animals that do not now exist here, and are larger
' than those of the rhinoceros or buffalo. Teeth, apparently
' similar to those described by Buckland, have likewise
' been collected; and we have now many other proofs that this
' country was once inhabited by beasts of prey, and that it is coeval
' with the rest of the world.

' The country in the neighbourhood of Wellington Valley is of
' limestone formation, and the ridges are perforated by numerous
' subterraneous caverns, which branch off in various directions.
' Others exist in the Shoal Haven gullies, (the most remarkably-
' formed country, perhaps, in the world,) and which will probably
' be found to contain similar diluvian remains.

' To the above physiological facts I may add, that Captain
' Sturt does not appear to think it at all improbable that there is