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AN ACCOUNT OF AN EXPEDITION
TO THE INTERIOR OF NEW HOLLAND.
OUR readers will, no doubt, be interested by the few particulars we have been able to collect of the late wonderful discovery, in the interior of New Holland, of a civilized nation, of European origin; which had, in so remarkable a manner, been kept separate hitherto from the rest of the civilized world. The full particulars of the discovery, and of all that has been learned respecting this singular people, will no doubt be, before long, made public in the mean time, some short Extracts, with which we have been favoured from the Journal of the discoverers will, we doubt not, prove acceptable.
Mr. Hopkins Sibthorpe, who planned and conducted this singularly fortunate enterprise,
was accompanied, it appears, in the expedition by another settler, Mr. William Jones, and Messrs. Thomas and Robert Smith (brothers) of the navy; who, together with Wilkins, a sailor, hired as their servant, constituted the whole party.
It was in the early part of August 1836, that these adventurous explorers took their departure from the settlement at Bathurst: this, as our readers are aware, is the last month of the winter of that hemisphere; though, from the greater mildness of the climate, it may be considered as spring. This season was chosen as the most suitable for an expedition in such a country as New Holland; in which, not only the heat of summer and autumn is often very oppressive, but also the scarcity of water is one of the most formidable impediments: and, on this occasion, a plentiful supply of water being essential, not only with a view to their personal wants, but also to the accomplishment of the peculiar plan they had resolved on trying, it was thought best to take an early advantage of the effects of the winter's rains. Their plan was no other
than to construct a canoe, to enable them to proceed in a direction in which farther progress had, hitherto, been precluded by a vast expanse of marshy lake. This, as our readers are probably aware, from the published narratives of former expeditions, is, in moist seasons, a sort of mere shallow water, encumbered with aquatic plants; but in times of great drought is, for a considerable extent, dry, or consisting of mud rather than water; constituting a sort of swampy plain, so choked up with a rank vegetation of reeds and flags, as to present an almost insuperable obstacle to the traveller. In the present expedition, accordingly, it was determined to choose a time when there might be a sufficiency of water to enable the adventurous explorers to proceed in a canoe; and they accordingly carried with them one or two horses, which they proposed afterwards to turn loose, the iron-work, and as much as was thought necessary of the frame of a canoe, which they proposed to put together and complete, on their arrival on the margin of the lake. And as it was impossible to carry with them a sufficient store of provisions for the whole of their contemplated voyage, they
boldly resolved to trust, in great measure, to their guns and fishing-tackle; providing only a sufficiency of salt to preserve such game and fish as they might procure in their way.
The details of the expedition, curious and highly interesting as they are in themselves, we are compelled to omit; lest they should occupy the space wanted for a far more valuable and important portion of the narrative. It will be sufficient, therefore, to say, omitting particulars, that they were enabled to put their design in execution; and, having constructed a kind of light, flat-bottomed boat, of poles covered over with bark (of the kind the natives use for their canoes), and fitted up with a slight awning, to afford shelter from the sun and the dews, they embarked on the above-mentioned shallow lake, and proceeded in a north-west direction; sometimes rowing, assisted occasionally by a sail, and oftener pushing themselves on with poles through the tangled aquatic plants which grew on the muddy bottom. Their progress was at first tediously slow; but they were at no loss for provision, as the waters abounded with fish
and wildfowl, of which they continued to obtain a sufficient supply throughout the voyage. After two days of troublesome navigation, they found the water become deeper, and gained a sight of some elevated land towards the west, which they reached on the evening of the third day: they here found the lake not terminated, but confined within narrower limits by hills, for the most part of a rocky, sterile, and uninviting character: at length, it became a broad river, flowing in a northerly direction, and serving, evidently, as a drain to the great expanse of lake they had passed. This gave them hopes of reaching (which was their great object) some large navigable river, which they might follow to the sea: they proceeded, therefore, though with considerable delay and difficulty from shoals and rapids, till, after more than two days' navigation, the high ground receded, and they found themselves entering on another great expanse of water, so extensive, that, in pursuing their adventurous course nearly in the same direction, they were, for the greater part of one day, out of sight of land. They now arrived at another course of rocky hills, of considerable