Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/25

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

Captain Stirling found it necessary to explore the country to a greater extent than had hitherto been done, by which he obtained a knowledge relative to the coast seventy miles to the northward of Rottenest, and ninety miles to the southward of it. in this extent, the only discoveries of any note were six rivers, of no great magnitude, and a bar harbour, capable only of receiving boats. To the northward, the !and seen was of indifferent quality, while that to the southward was found to improve in fertility, the further it was explored in that direction. One of the settlers was so much struck with the fertility of the soil about Port Leschenault, that he determined at once to fix his abode there. He describes this estuary to exceed that of Melville Water in the Swan River, in point of size, and superior in the beauty of its banks. It receives two rivers flowing down from the Darling range, which is here about the same distance from the coast as at Swan River. Across the mouth of the Colley is a bar, but to the distance of sixteen or eighteen miles within it maintains a depth of water from six to two fathoms, and here it becomes perfectly fresh. The plains are well wooded with large timber trees, and the whole country wears the appearance of an English park. Port Leschenault is fit only for the reception of small craft, having a bar, with no more than from three to four feet, and two fathoms water within.

The nature of the soil in the extent of country here mentioned is of various descriptions. On the sea-coast, where a continued calcareous ridge exists, no gramineous plants are to be found, bat several species of shrubby or herbaceous plants rise out of the sandy surface, affording good nutriment for sheep and cattle at all seasons of the year. Next to this calcareous formation is a parallel breadth of a superficial soil. still somewhat sandy, bearing large timber trees, and affording good but rather scanty feeding for sheep and cattle. Adjoining this district of light, sandy soil, is a considerable breadth of red !and, extending to the base of the Darling mountains, the soil of which varies from red sandy loam to the richest red marl and clay, apparently fit for all agricultural purposes. The fourth variety of country is the uneven surface of the mountainous range, which is of granite and trap formation. The valleys of this range are exceedingly rich and verdant, and the hills themselves, although occasionally rugged by the protrusion of the rocks, afford magnificent timber, and very excellent sheep lands. The whole breadth of this range of mountains had not been crossed[1], though examined to the distance of twenty-five miles from the western edge. Straggling parties of natives were occasionally met with; and in one or two places were hovels of

  1. See, however, on this head p. 16, where subsequent discoveries are noticed.