The Murray River Being a Journal of the Voyage of the "Lady Augusta" Steamer
THE MURRAY RIVER:
JOURNAL OF THE VOYAGE
“LADY AUGUSTA” STEAMER
GOOLWA, IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA,
GANNEWARRA, ABOVE SWAN HILL, VICTORIA;
A DISTANCE FROM THE
SEA MOUTH OF 1400 MILES.
BY ARTHUR KINLOCH, Esq.,
CLERK OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
HOPE & CO., 16, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
HIS EXCELLENCY SIR HENRY EDWARD FOX YOUNG, KNIGHT,
LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA,
WHO HAS KINDLY AUTHORISED
MY PUBLICATION OF A JOURNAL OF THE EXPEDITION ON THE MURRAY,
DEDICATE THIS SHORT NARRATIVE OF THE VOYAGE
FIRST STEAMER ON THE WATERS OF THAT NOBLE RIVER.
Lest this description of the River Murray should appear in somepoints to differ from the accounts of other travellers, it may benecessary to observe that the present little work is merely a Journalor daily record of what the writer observed during his voyage upthe River, which was at the time considerably flooded, though ithad not then attained its highest elevation, which occurs aboutDecember.
The English reader may also bear in mind that rivers in Englandare not the scale whereby to estimate the streams of other portionsof the globe, or even of Europe, and that some of the larger riversof that Continent are in like manner subject to the vicissitudes ofdry seasons and partial floods.
This occurs particularly in Spain and in the South of France, as,for example, in the Rhone, which is materially influenced by theseasons in its volume of water.
In more tropical climes the difference is still greater; thus, therise of the Nile is sometimes not less than thirty-eight feet, that ofthe Euphrates twelve feet, that of the Tigris twenty feet; whilstin India the large rivers are also increased or diminished in a considerabledegree during the dry and wet seasons.
The English reader, therefore, the writer would again repeat,should not be surprised at hearing of the easy navigability of thegreatest Australian river, or wonder that other works have statedthe stream of the Murray as quite insignificant and ill adapted forsteamers.
The voyage of the Lady Augusta steamer has proved the fact ofthe navigation being open for at least six months during a very dryseason, and no doubt can exist that in ordinary years the RiverMurray may be used by steamers for at least seven months.
A system of embankments and occasional canals at a more distantday, when labour shall become abundant, will probably lay openthe course of the river for a still longer period, although the presentnavigability has been deemed sufficient for all immediatepurposes of traffic.
The first Navigators by Steam of the River Murray; or, a Listof the Passengers, Officers, and Crew of the “Lady Augusta”Steamer and the “Eureka” Barge.
His Excellency Sir H. E. F. Young, Lieutenant-Governor of South Australia.
- J. Grainger, Esq., M.L.C.
- Wm. Younghusband, Esq., M.L.C, and Agent for the Murray Steamers.
- R. Davenport, Esq., M.L.C.
- A. Kinloch, Esq., Clerk Executive Council.
- Geo. Palmer, Esq., Indian Civil Service.
- Geo. Mason, Esq., Sub-Protector of Aborigines.
- E. W. Andrews, Esq., South Australian Register.
- Travers Finnis, Esq.
- James Allen, Esq.
- Regd. Bright, Esq., (left the party at Swan Hill).
- H. Jamieson, Esq., of Mildura (joined the party on the river, at his own station).
- Mrs. Finniss.
- Mrs. Younghusband.
- Mrs. Irvine.
- Miss Sarah Younghusband.
- Miss Eliza Younghusband.
- Miss Louisa Younghusband.
- Isabella Williamson.
Officers and Crew of the “Lady Augusta” and the “Eureka” Barge.
Commander, Francis Cadell.
- Lady Augusta.
- Wm. Davidson, Master.
- Wm. Webb, Chief Officer.
- R. Napier, Engineer.
- Thomas Nevin, Seaman.
- Henry Petrie, ditto.
- Robert Robson, Stoker.
- Evan Thomas, ditto.
- Wm. Cruise Teague, Stoker.
- Lewis Chandler, Chief Steward.
- John McAulay, Second Steward.
- Jemy, Native of China.
- Wm. Gylmour, Cook.
- Edmund Robertson, Master.
- J. H. Copeland, Chief Officer (a native of New York).
- John Nelson, Purser (native of New South Wales).
- Jimmy (South Sea Islander).
- Tee Harry (South Sea Islander).
- Hy. Winsby, Carpenter.
- Neil McGregor, Carpenter’s Mate (from New Brunswick).
- Arman (Madrassee).
- Kurreem (Bengalee).
- James Giles.
- Three Wellington Blacks.
- One Police Trooper, John Phillips, joined the party, on duty, at Mr. Chapman’s Paringa.
VOYAGE ON THE MURRAY.
Amongst the anomalies which may be said to distinguish the continentof Australia from other inhabited portions of the globe, not theleast remarkable perhaps has been the almost unnoticed existenceof one of the longest and most navigable rivers in the world. Thisriver is the Murray, which, deriving its sources from the deep gorgesover which Mount Kosciusko, the loftiest of the Australian Alps,rears its snowy crest, pursues its placid course for upwards of twothousand miles through the Colonies of New South Wales,Victoria, and South Australia, until, losing its channel in the broadbut shallow Lake Alexandrina, it eventually finds a passage for itswaters through the boisterous surges which beat upon the shoresof Encounter Bay. This great stream, exceeding in the extent ofits course the Ganges, the Indus, or the La Plata, three of thelongest rivers in the world, and with thrice the development of theRhine, the Rhone, or the Elbe, is fed also by tributaries, which, inmagnitude and, during certain seasons, in navigability, may not bemuch inferior to those European streams. These are the Darling,the Lachlan, and the Murrumbidgee; of which the first, rising inthe vicinity of Moreton Bay, in about latitude 28° and longitude152° 30′ (and with tributaries reaching almost to the tropic), afterstretching for about half its course, or near one thousand miles, in awest and south-west direction, descends at length to join its waterswith the Murray, in latitude 34° 10′ and longitude 142°.
The second, the Lachlan, rising in the Blue Mountains, nearBathurst, trends to the north-west, but eventually unites with themain river, about 200 miles in a south-easterly direction from thejunction of the Darling, and after having been previously swelledby the waters of the Murrumbidgee for a distance of 150 miles.This last river, which issues not far from the Maneroo Plains, eastof the Australian Alps, at a point more distant still than the sources6of the Murray, has a tortuous course in a westerly direction formany hundred miles, with a stream described by Captain Sturt asrapid and impetuous until its junction with the Lachlan, in longitude144° 20′. If it should prove navigable by steam, the advantagesthat would accrue to the adjacent province could hardly beinferior to those anticipated from the opening of the water communicationsof the Murray.
In addition to the streams which thus increase the waters of theMurray throughout its sinuous course, it enumerates among itstributaries many rivers which, from their length, if not from thevaried country they traverse, cannot but be deemed interesting, ifnot important. Such are the Lodden, Campaspe, Goulburn, Mitta-Mitta,Ovens, and others, including the Lindesay, first noticed byCaptain Sturt, and which, passing through much auriferous country,severally and conjointly water about two-thirds of the province ofVictoria, or a superficial extent of more than 50,000 squaremiles.
Independent, moreover, of these minor affluents which swell thedrainage amount of the river Murray—a basin stretching from nearthe 25th to the 36th parallel of latitude, and from the 139th to beyondthe 152nd degree of east longitude, an estimated extent of 540,600square miles, or nearly seven times the superficial extent of GreatBritain—there exists in close connection with the main stream anetwork of rivers which may perhaps have been destined to fulfilthose purposes which the vagaries of Nature have transferred tothe parent river. These are denominated the Edward, Logan,Wakool, and Neimur Rivers; which, having a more direct coursethan the Murray itself, would, but for their unfortunate termination,after some hundred miles in a shallow creek, at no very distantperiod, have proved themselves of inestimable value to the internalprosperity of the adjacent provinces. As it is, nothing but asuperabundant population will probably succeed in turning thesestreams to a useful or, at least, a navigable end.
The Murray, thus combining within its basin nearly the entiredrainage of the province of Victoria, with a large portion of that ofNew South Wales, and much of the eastern part of South Australia,appears to have been unknown to British Colonists before 1830, whenCaptain Charles Sturt, of the 39th Regiment—one of the most ardentand intrepid explorers the world has ever seen—whilst tracing thesource, or rather course, of the Murrumbidgee, by order of the SydneyGovernment, came upon this noble river; to which, in honour of thethen Colonial Secretary, the distinguished Sir George Murray, hegave its present name. His party, on this occasion, consisted, himselfincluded, of no more than eight individuals, a portion of whom wereconvict prisoners, the main body of the expedition having been left7(January 7th) in depôt at the Murrumbidgee, with instructions torepair, after a few days’ delay, to the Goulburn Plains, from whencea communication might be maintained with Sydney. CaptainSturt’s means of transport were comprised in a whale boat andsmall skiff, built in seven days on the Murrumbidgee, and withthese means and a stock of provisions barely sufficient, it afterwardsappeared, for subsistence, this determined man did not hesitate tofollow the course of the Murray to its mouth; this, after many obstacles,in the Murrumbidgee, from the “snags” or sunken logs withwhich it was encumbered, and, at that season, it appears from therapidity of the current, and in the main river (which averaged 200yards in breadth) from the unequivocally hostile demeanour of thenumerous tribes of natives encountered on its banks, he reached inthirty-two days, from the depôt. Thence, after traversing thebroad but shallow lake in which the Murray terminates beforereaching the sea, finding it useless to attempt to force a passage inhis frail boat through the dangerous navigation of the sea mouth,or hopeless of any advantage to his party, even were it effected, hetook the decided, though perhaps inevitable, course of retracing hissteps up the stream and thus returning to the depôt of his party;who, he conceived, would then be in search of him. With anaching heart, but a firm will, as Captain Sturt himself relates, wasthis resolution carried into effect, and after thirty-nine days fromthe sea, on the very day his stock of flour had failed him, andwhen his party were all but incapable of further exertion, he fellin with his people, who had been summoned to his aid by twoof the heroic crew who had shared his dangers and privations;and whom, as a last resource, he had dispatched to seek thedepôt.
The length of the water passage thus effected was eighty-eightdays; and Capt. Sturt estimated the distance traversed on the differentrivers at 2,000 miles, during which, with the exception ofthe timber on the Murrumbidgee, and the rare occurrence of asandspit on the main stream, no obstacle to steam navigation wasdiscovered. The official report was forwarded to Sydney, and publishedby the Government, and is to be found appended to Capt.Sturt’s own narrative of his adventurous voyage. No steps, however,appear to have been taken by those in authority to renderavailable the great discovery which the energies of this brave manhad thus rendered patent to all.
At length, in the year 1850, Sir Henry Young, the Lieutenant-Governorof South Australia, an officer of enlarged ideas and considerableknowledge of geographical subjects, acquired during alengthened service in many parts of the world, appears to havetaken up the matter, and brought it before the Colonial Legislature.8In September and October, 1850, accompanied by the Surveyor-Generalof the Province, and some friends, including ladies, HisExcellency ascended the Murray as far as its confluence with theDarling, or above 600 miles, and found it navigable with easethroughout that extent, with a breadth varying from 180 to 300yards, and a depth of water of from two to four and even fivefathoms. The project, in the mean time, had been opposed by theLegislative Council; who, actuated, it would seem, by mistakenviews of the real interests of the Colony, objected especially to theappropriation of £20,000 from the Land Fund, in the constructionof a tramline to connect the Murray at the Goolwa with the conveniencesof the harbour at