Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
William Govett notes and sketches taken during a surveying Expedition in N. South Wales and Blue Mountains Road by William Govett on staff of Major Mitchell, Surveyor General of New South Wales, 1830-1835
[Transcribers note: This is not a continually written journal Govett interposes paragraphs continued from previous pages and also does not always show where he wants words entered into a sentence. He also interposes sentences between those already written see pages 37 and 45-46 in particular. It becomes a series of notes or aide memoirs.]
Notes and Sketches
taken during a surveying Expedition
in New South Wales & Blue Mountain Roads
William Romaine Govett
On Staff of Major Mitchell
Surveyor-General of [indecipherable]
[Inside cover. St Audries/ drawn and engraved by T. Bonnor (print)]A
Published material not transcribed
This very extraordinary feature which makes a conspicuous figure in the Map of the Colony of New South Wales the Ranges and most mountainous parts of which it was my lot to survey, separates the flat country extending Eastward from Sydney for about 40 miles from the rich Bathurst country For many years the Settlers Westward of the mountains labored under considerable difficulty and inconvenience in consequence of the difficult ascent for carriages up Lapstone Hill, and the dangerous and precipitous descent of Mount York these evils however have how been remedied by the new lines of road planned by Major Mitchell Surveyor General. The first ascent from Sydney now commences about a mile south of the old road at Lapstone Hill, and winds its way up a ravine with a very gradual ascent and comes out at the Pilgrim Inn
from about 3 miles distant from Emu Plains from thence the Traveller may proceed with little difficulty now to Mt York there the descent of that mountain is done away with by the road winding southward, and extending by a gradual descent to a low neck of Mount Vittoria The rocks cut away and removed by blasting, to perfect this undertaking may be conceived by the fact that from about 800 to a 1000 Prisoners were employed for two years upon the work in 1830 and 31. The following sketch is very characteristic of the scenery of the blue mountains in the neighbourhood of Mount Vittoria
and southward of the Road from the Weatherboard hut (an Inn about half way between Emu Plains and the descent into the Vale of Clwyyd.)
The main road there across the Blue Mountains runs upon a barren Range which divides the waters of the Grose on the North, and Coxs river on the South The bold, broken nature of the country on either side is particularly grand, and the streams which at first commence in swamps soon make their way into unacceptible gullies, until they arrive at the cliffs of the main channel where they fall in cascades to a depth from 1000 to 1500 feet. The most remarkable of these cascades is the one near the Weatherboarded hut and that which falls into the head of the Grose river;
and which the Surveyor General named "Govetts leap" from the circumstance of my first having come upon the spot when surveying with Mr Rusdin, and having sent in a description of the scene in my official letter The sketch opposite is intended to represent an accident wh. happened to my team which employed on the mountains A mass of rocks and earth wh. had fallen in from the side which had been newly cut, nearly blocked up the road, and the bullocks as soon as they had turned the corner took fright at some Black fellows who were loitering by, and off they went, with all the clumsy speed & strength, until their further progress was put an end to by the said blockade of rocks & earth
Picture of road building [Incident on road at Victoria pass] (Ink)
This original sketch by W.R. Govett is of the Blue Mountain road at Mr Victoria
Pass of Victoria
tremendous violence wh. which they came in contact with it fairly hoisted the dray in the air, and over it went, accompanied with the shaft bullock [indecipherable] , thundering & cracking down a precipice at least 800 feet, where may be seen to this day the skeleton of poor old Redman (the name of the Bullock) and the shattered fragments of a surveyors equipment I was a spectator and beheld with some amazement the loss of Government property and of my own a little as soon as the shock from the crashing and tumbling of the Dray had ceased and a horrid stillness ensued from which I concluded the animal was dead I reflected awhile and thought to myself What! why that it was a good excuse to go to Sydney, so mounted my horse ordered the men to remain at Emu Plains until further orders, and galloped off as much pleased as annoyed at the accident
WRG. Nov.r 26. 1835
Sketch signed W.R.G.
- formica gigas side page
Corrobory or a particular dance of the natives.
I was once present and witnessed this most extraordinary dance of the Blacks which took place near Lake George called by the natives "Weriwa"- I understand this ceremony only takes place upon the friendly meeting of two tribes after a fight or dispute, to celebrate the cessation of hostilities. On this occasion there were a hundred and eighty collected together, men, women and children, and the place chosen very suited to the purpose being a small open spot, clear of timber, but surrounded on all sides by the darkness of the forest. The Men only of the visiting tribe were the spectators, and they seated themselves wrapt in their opossum cloaks round in a semicircular form. The oldest of them being nearest each end of the semicircle Immediately before them bright fires of dried bark were kept burning by boys who constantly supplied the fuel and again behind the fires was the stage or place of action. The whole ceremony indeed in the arrangement very much resembled a Theatre. The women however were altogether concealed from view, but so situated, that their yells, and horrid noises made by the clashing of sticks, and whirling in the air pieces of wood fastened to a string, could not only be distinctly heard, but added much to the wild effect and savage strangeness of this nocturnal revel.
The men or actors besmear themselves with white paint and appear like skeletons, and they caper in various forms and attitudes round the fire, grinning, roaring hissing
Sketch of Corroboree
This original sketch by W.R. Govett was published in "The Saturday Magazine"
Article 4, June 25 1836
hooting, and making the most hideous faces imaginable to describe particulars - as soon as they the men fall exhausted. they vanish on an instant a different yell commences, and a dozen or more boys appear skipping, and capering in imitation of the old So on for several hours. They vanished and reappeared exhibiting each time different manuvers, uttering different yells and during the whole ceremony the utmost silence and order prevailed among the spectators who looked on wh. apparent wonder and amazement and wh. as much anxiety and interest as I did myself. Upon the whole it appeared to me as a scene which one c.d imagine the Devil to preside over in the infernal region WRG
[Coloured drawing ]
The Black Snake
This Pest of the Bush is the most numerous of its kind, although there are many other snakes equally venomous and deadly. as the grey, the brown, or earth colored snake, the whip, and
the yellow snakes and the only one whose bite is not venomous is the Diamond snake, which is the largest and the most beautiful. I have killed as many as thirteen of a day on the banks of the Wollondilly river in Argyle for (with the exception of the Diamond snake) they all frequent the banks of rivers and marshy places
I was an inveterate enemy to them, and made a rule never to pass one without killing it if possible, consequently many a valuable hour has been thrown away by myself and men in the service of Government, in rooting or cutting out one of these accursed reptiles I have often frightened people by cutting the head of a black snake close off, and then taking it in my hand, allow the headless monster to twist round my arm, and so carry it for miles while they imagined I had its head compressed in my hand, and shuddered lest I should be unable to disengage it.- nor do I think that I should to this day have been afraid of them, had I not witness the dreadful and fatal effects of their venomous bite. I was out with a Gentleman surveying in a Dividing Range of country, and we were upon the point of crossing a swamp where a Flier (swift Kangaroo) brushed by us away went
my dogs Duke and Spanker, away my men and I awaited by my Instrument the event of the chase almost immediately after the Dogs had left I heard one of them make a peculiar howl or shriek it was a sound unnatural for either man or dog, and expressive of sudden excessive terror.
- The men returned. (The Kangaroo having escaped owing to the thickness of the underwood) and I commenced crossing the swamp wh. my pack horses when young Duncomb called out. Stop sir. stop! there is something in the water wh. Duke I turned round and observed the Dog lying down among the rushes, I patted him, he got up and looked piteously in my face, and walked slowly after us while we were crossing the swamp my attention was again directed to the dog who went to the water and tried to vomit, retching violently, he again came back to us, who were all now watching the poor creature The dog opened his mouth wh. was choked with white foam. He has been bit by a snake, I cried and before I c.d examine him he reeled a few paces between us like a drunken man, and fell down dead !! Ten minutes had not elapsed from the time I hard the shriek, and so virulent was the poison that when the Dog fell you c.d observe the carcase swelling, and
blood could be brought from him
From that hour my blood curdled when I crossed a snake, and I was always coming in serious contact with them. Imagine, if you can, the horror, the feeling, the shudder wh. is caused by stepping accidentally on a snake of this description Such then was the case with me as one day returning to my tents in stepping over a fallen tree I felt the coil of a large snake round my leg I was fixed, and stood motionless Oh. agony- agony! I felt for I cannot cant bit you cried one Ill settle him cried the other man dont move sir. There, you black beast, there and there cried the men as they battered his head with their tomahawks, his head is off, Sir, and I moved from the spot half stupefied and sick with the fright. WRG
On another occasion I had fixed my stand and was adjusting the Theodolite, when my men standing by bawled out. Stand back sir. Stand back. a snake! Where, Where? under the stand Sir! under the stand I walked backwards looked, stared, and again asked where where? Look there Look sir, Look! I did look, and perceived under the stand a
Drawing of camp and Aboriginals around a fire
Diamond snake coiled up I immediately went forward, gently removed the instrument, and we each took a good size stick, and the four of us surrounded the creature a large Diamond snake taking a snooze! Strike, said I and at the word our long poles descended upon the unfortunate, who, upon being thus surprised jumped up erect in the air, swelling wh. anger and perhaps with a little pain, Oh. how vicious! with what an eye did he view his encircled enemy !!! A blow from one of the men attacked him again to the dust, and as I imagined, the brilliant reptile was dead On my return however to the camp, we passed the spot, as I intended to preserve the skin He was not to be found there and it was after some time that we discovered him in the hollow of a tree not far off. I then ordered the men to bring the snake to my camp, where I stretched him out at full length, and placed weights at the head & tail It measured 13 feet. 7 inches
- On my rising next morning intending to skin the snake, I had lifted my legs from my stretcher, or couch and as I was putting my foot into a slipper I beheld my bosom friend coiled up immediately under my pillow -! WRG.
Gully crossing. or travelling Pack on Back
A very considerable portion of the Colony of New South Wales, (especially the country Eastward of the main Range of mountains which runs North & South and divides the Eastern & Western waters) is intersected by deep ravines, and these are separated from one another by steep narrow Ridges or tongues of Land In many parts these Ridges afford excellent pasture though I would say the general nature of the mountain country is barren The county of Argyle and other counties to the South of Port Jackson is generally grassy, and in many parts may be found a good winstone & limestone soil: All that part which takes in the tributary streams of the Wollondilly & Cookbundoon rivers is of a mountainous but grassy nature, and curiously intersected by these ravines or gullies X That part of the Main Dividing Range commonly called the Blue Mountains extending northerly to the Wolgan Capertee & Colo river is altogether barren, peculiarly romantic, and in many places the appearance is awfully desolate. the streams which make their way through the deep and so solitary channels, generally commence in swamps, for the first two or three miles, and then fall in a succession of cascades, until they arrive at their lowest depth, where they flow in a narrow bed of alternate rock and sand, until they join the principal river
X This remark has been mentioned before vide page 6 -
Coloured drawing of Surveyors camp site by river
View of mountains through a window [pencil]
To perfect the Map of the Colony it was considered necessary that as many of these Ravines as possible should be traced, in order to lay out the natural boundaries of counties and Parishes
But however easy it may be to give instructions to the Surveyor to follow these gullies down the actual performance thereof, I know by my own experience as having my full share in that sort of duty, is attended with much difficulty, hardship and privation the Camp I always considered Home, but when you are obliged to quit your tents carts, and Packhorses, and carry your Pack and Bread rolled in your cloak & Blanket accompanied wh. three or four men, to chain down these gloomy hollows wh. are almost all inacessible to pack animals the undertaking is not only tedious and irksome but also dangerous, and trying to a mans constitutional endurance and perseverance
I shall never forget therefore the first time I set out on one of these romantic walks accompanied by my Friend I Mcleod, and three Prisoners We left the Camp soon after an early breakfast with Instructions from the Surveyor General to trace down a tributary stream of the Cookbundoon River, and as we had to travel about 15 miles of a very mountainous country before we c.d arrive at the spot from which
were to commence, and not being very certain of our ability to reach that spot we were desirous to lose no time but endeavour to get there in time to prepare for the coming night by making a "gunya" or "place of shelter" in case of bad weather (In fine weather the Blacks provide merely three forked sticks, so set up as to support one another, and placing boughs of foliage upon these their gunya is made for the night Of course this temporary shelter is always to windward of the fire and they enjoy their otium under its lee But in seasons of rain or cold, these habitations are formed of Bark which are made larger or smaller according to the desire of the individual, or the extent of his family) We continued travelling therefore until evening when we determined to descend into the gully which we imagined to be the one ordered to be traced down Having made our fire got ready the tin pots of tea, and consumed a sufficient allowance of Pork and Damper (i.e. bread wh. is always baked on the ground in the ashes of the fire) and the night having the appearance of continuing fine, no extra trouble was taken to provide against rain or cold After an occasional smoke therefore we all reclined to court, what we wanted, a good sleep, than nothing is more grateful and refreshing to the houseless traveller after fatigue The continued howling of native dogs however, the
rustling, hollow sounding wind echoing through the deep glen, the ceaseless gurgling of the running water close at our feet all contributed to keep off that rest which we so much desired now and then one would sit up place another log on the fire light his pipe, and while puffing would look around as if wondering at, if not dreading the awful solemnity of the place Little or no conversation took place, no story or tale to beguile the hour for, I have seen prisoners shudder in silent fear in the midst of their reflections on such occasions, and Nature make that man tremble, whose mind & heart had been long ago blunted of habitual vice and wh. feared neither the prison nor the gallows A straggling cloud or so was observed to pass the moon, (which before had been looking down with a clear and undisturbed countenance upon us,) another, & another until there appeared rising slowly a dense mass of cloud with its outline silvered by the moon It neared it by degrees and presently the brilliant orb was obscured, and all was darkness It was now too late to think of getting bark to make a shelter, and it required all our joint labours to keep in the fire, for the rain descended in torrents, and bubbled on the ground what could we do grin and bear it was our only remedy, and there we
P. 18 Amusements setting trees on fire vide P. 25
[this refers to the picture on the opposite page in the original book]
stood like drowned rats around a smoking fire until the morning, for to lie down with wet clothes wet cloaks & blankets upon a wet ground was far more unpleasant than standing The morning came, and with it a dull heavy misty rain, light, but no sun To survey was impossible. I therefore proposed to return to the camp the way we came, or by following the river down until we came to the Pass. Having taken the precaution of making some tinder we all started, and continued travelling down this romantic ravine, whose sides in many places formed a perfect wall of rock, so that we were compelled continually to cross and recross the stream, wh. at times proved very inconvenient In this way many hours of the day passed, and the bed of the river instead of improving got worse & worse at every angle The waters were increased to a considerable degree, and our difficulty of crossing became greater, and in many places a matter of hesitation, - No time was to be lost, we therefore played follow the Leader (all getting occasionally a ducking) until it was observed how dark it was getting. We halted, and it was really almost dark although it had crept upon us so imperceptibly Strike a light! I cried, we shall not get a better place than this to lie down, and may fare worse, wheres the tinder box?! come, come, be quick, strike a light Good god Sir, the tinders wet no Pistol no Powder no Mcleod (who had been accustomed to rough it in the Bush, laughed, what can we do?, said I "Grin and bear it" growled one of the men But cant
continued at Page 21 [numbering in the original book]
[Surveyors Camp (water colour) lighting trees referred to on the last page]
Blackwomen their weeping over a grave
I was one day travelling near the plains of Mulwaree, and my attention was attracted by sounds of human voices, howling and wailing in wild & melancholy strains I listened attentively, and the more was I struck wh. the peculiarity of the noise. I made for the direction and soon perceived before me three black women They were sitting round (or by) a mound of Earth with their heads depressed, and nearly touching one another I rode close up to them but their attention was in no wise roused so that they should look up at me and I waited some time in astonishment, observing their actions, and listening to their horrid lamentable yells They were each of them striking their hands with a Tomahawk, holding that instrument in their right hand, and wounding particularly the upper part of the back of the head Their hair was besmeared with blood, which I could perceive trickling down behind their neck and ears I spoke, I hollowed to them, but they did not even look up I then dismounted in a little distance and was determined if possible to find out the cause of the extraordinary scene before me Having tethered my horse I walked up to them, and again endeavoured by
speaking to rouse their attention but in vain! I then caught one of them by the Opossum Cloak, and
pulled & tugged, and in truth it was with some trouble and after sometime that I succeeded in making one of them look up to me, and when she did, I may safely say it is seldom the lot of a white man to behold, among these simple but savage race a more wretched and pitiable spectacle Her face was covered with blood, and tears were falling fast in succession down her cheeks she soon dropped her head again, and commenced wailing as before in all the bitterness of agonizing grief Such was the grief of a savage, over the tomb of a departed Relative !!!
Note Make mention of the marking of the trees - & the peculiarity of place
[Ink Drawing title ] The Centipede
[pencil sketch of trees and natives almost indecipherable]
p217 4 June 1836 The Saty Magazine
Gully crossing continued from P. 18 -
we make a fire,? I repeated, Oh no, Sir, [indecipherable] all up with us, said a fellow who had been trying the effects of a spark upon the wet tinder The Devil catch me if I follow this trade any more I,d rather be in "quod" said another a pretty Government days work my shoes wont last out tomorrow, cried one nor mine, said Mcleod, who at the same time asked for bread and Pork we all followed his example, and we sat munching in darkness and in silence. It is sufficient to say that, wet, cold, tired and miserable as we were, we spread the blanket, huddled together, and passed a most miserable night. I am satisfied there never were five men, whose habits had even hardened them to such situations from similar circumstances, could possibly have passed a more wretched night But, how different would the case have been, if we could have succeeded in making a fire. If it be even raining stormy weather, the very act circumstance of keeping up a good fire, and endeavouring to contrive a sort of shelter, takes off from the misery, and passes the time to say nothing of the comfort, & luxury of a pot of tea, and a smoke on such occasions.
to be continued
X Govetts Leap a cascade at the head of the Grose river. New South Wales
This most extraordinary scene, which the drawing is on too small a scale to represent, lies about three miles to the North East of Blackheath, or Gardiners Inn on the Blue Mountains Road. I first came in upon it, in company with Mr Rusden who had been for some time attached to my party to learn the method of managing a camp in the Bush, and to observe the method of surveying a broken country In my monthly report of Progress, I sent in a description of it to the Surveyor General by whom it was named as above . "Govetts Leap or cataract".
It was an amusement with me always when I approached the edge of these precipices, to loosen large masses of rock, and by the assistance of the men lying on their backs, and pushing with their feet, to upset them into the abyss below and one could form a tolerable judgement of the frightful depth they had to fall before they came in contact with any thing, from observing the time of silence, from the instant of their dislodgement, until they struck, and reechoing thundered from rock to rock and valley to valley, resounding again and against the more distant walls of the gully. Again, where I had no other means of ascertaining or forming an opinion of the perpendicular fall of these walls of rock, it was a
practise with me to cause a chain (which is about 66 feet) to be dropped from the lowest edge of the precipice, if accessible, and having a piece of tin attached to the end of it, observe from on opposite point how many chains, from the distance of one, wd likely reach the bottom of the rock It has appeared to me therefore that in some places it would take from 5 to 8 of these chains, which is a perpendicular fall of 528 feet and I shd. say it was from 1000 to 1500 feet from the bottom of these rocks to the bed of the River I am not inclined to think that I am much out in my calculation when I believe it has been ascertained from observations with the Barometer that the highest point in this neighbourhood is about 2700 feet above the level of Emu Plains and the level of the plains above the sea very inconsiderable The high mountains, shewn in the sketch are called Mt George, and the one on the right Mt. Hay, and they are both seen from beyond Sydney, a distance of nearly 70 miles Mt. Hay is a station in the trigonometrical survey, and its summit has been cleared of trees, with the exception of one or two left in the centre of the Knoll for distinction from a distance, wh. is also the case with many other mountains in the Colony it is about 7 miles distant Eastward from the point from which this sketch was taken and Mt. George about nine miles The width of
this magnificent ravine varies from two five miles, and it appears to the Observer as if the Earth, from the force of waters, or violent conception had sunk under, and been washed away leaving there immense hollows, and exposing to view to the depth before mentioned the ribs as it were of the mountains. This sort of scenery is also equally grand and peculiar throughout all that country through which the Cox and Wollondilly rivers flow, called by the natives "Burragorang".
The different kinds of Forests
[In pencil] P17 16 July 1836 Saty Magazine
In wandering through the Interior of N.S. Wales
the trouble which is generally commonly termed the "Bush" from the circumstance of the country being so entirely generally covered with wood, (with the exception of here and there a Plain, or portion of ground altogether destitute of timber, and these plains exist mostly to the South and S.West of Sydney and are some of them celebrated for the fertility of the soil The Mulwaree, Bredalbane, Monaroo, Molongla Limestone and Gap Plains to the South. and the Bathurst Plains to the West are all of them fertile and being cultivated by the settlers) The Traveller meets wt. many descriptions of Forest and Wood - Open Forest Land - would indicate good pasturage and where the trees are apart from one another, and park like in appearance, A Stringy Bark Forest abounds with that species of tree, and is in my opinion the most gloomy forest of all. The trees grow rather high, and mostly straight, but very close together, with tall saplings between them The Bark, wh. is very useful for kindling a fire,
and serves the purpose of a rope for the natives)is generally black on the outside from being burnt, and I have myself come out from this part of Bush as a Sweep from the chimney The Iron Bark Forest is more open, has generally better pasturage, and more cheerful than the former The Bark of this tree is very hard, and roughly jagged on the outside, the timber also is very useful, being very hard and durable it is used for making shingles, but particularly for fencing The tree (called the Forest Oak) is very friendly with this Forest, and is also very useful, and the best wood for splitting shingles its foliage more resembles a species of fir, but the colour of its wood is a dull red and makes a capital fire. The river oak has the same foliage but the tree is much larger than the former and burns clearly I mention particularly the trees which burn well, because there are so many which will not take the fire without trouble, which burn black, or rather wh. produce black ashes, and will soon go out if neglected a Scrubby Forest is that which abounds wh. all description of trees, is [indecipherable] with underwood, and being generally of an inferior soil produces nothing to perfection The Blue Gum and the Black But are the most valuable trees for their timber, of the Eucalyptus species but these unfortunately are generally found the finest and the most valuable in inacceptible situations, and rich
vallies from which they cannot without immense labor and expense be cut down, sawed in planks and removed There are also many parts in the Colony of S. Wales which produce what may be termed "tropical vegetation" All the Illawarra country between the range of cliffs and the sea is of this nature, producing the rich Cedar interwoven wh. hanging vines (dangling like ropes from the highest branches) the tall Cabbage tree, and a dense variety of shrubs and luxuriant creepers whose technical names I must leave the Botanist to describe - continued in Supplement to page 25
Jan 1 /36.
The Apple Tree
Mount Tomah. possesses a primitive soil.
its peculiar vegetation
trim on fire
Method of Climbing trees by the Blacks of New South Wales. [3 in pencil]
The agility of the natives in this, and many other respects regarding the use of their simple and curious weapons, is worthy of notice The sketch is intended to shew a common gum, and an iron bark tree, and the two different methods of climbing the one is with the tomahawk, & which is the most common way, the other by the assistance of the vine which is used as a rope or hoop. As the latter mode is only practised by the tribes natives of the country where the vine is prevalent, I have only witnessed this performance two or three times The Black cuts a rope of vine of sufficient strength and length according to the magnitude of the tree and then having encircled the tree with it, he fastens the two ends in a most sailor like knot as soon as the Black has done this, he places himself within the hoop of vine, and raising it wh. both his hands leans back with all his power, as if to try and prove the capability of the vine and the strength & certainty of his knot -. Having taken these precautions, he feels and looks satisfied, and immediately makes a spring raising at the same time the hoop higher than himself, in this inclined posture his body is wholly supported by the vine, but when he springs again he raises himself with his feet & hands, and makes a similar jump the agility and quickness wh. which he makes his hop hop hop to a height of from 40 to 60 feet is not only astonishing but amusing The other method however appears to the spectator the most dangerous, but this of course depends upon the height and nature of the Tree
[Aborigines climbing trees monotone wash]
P97 10 Sept 1836 Saty. Magazine
The Black in this instance looks up, and eyes the inclination of his tree [indecipherable], and soon commences cutting a notch just large enough to admit his great toe, (the height of this notch from the ground depends upon the individual, for it is a singular and very remarkable fact, that two Blacks will not ascend a tree by each others notches or steps, even though the tree may have been climbed by several of them) He then cuts another notch from two to 3 feet higher for his left foot, and as soon a this is done he fixes his tomahawk as high as he can reach into the tree and commences ascending. His left great toe being in the second notch, the stands supporting his whole weight upon it and cuts two more notches as before used in this way I have seen them get up trees of immense bulk, and rising fifty feet without a branch with as much confidence and celerity as a European ascends a common ladder - . it is wonderful to see them resting upon their toe at a height of 40 feet from the ground, looking down, laughing, jabbering & making gestures, as if they had no distance to fall, and as if they were standing on terra firma
Gully crossing continued from page 21
Morning at last broke, and we stared at one another, as fellow sufferers generally do, who have not power to relieve one another from their present situation, and though I cd. not myself describe how I looked, I certainly never beheld four more pitiable looking objects than my fellow travellers Mcleod in his restlessness had ramd his head into the mud and sand the men looked beautiful, and at first, wretched as we were we could not resist laughing at one another The rain had ceased, the cloud, were dispersed, and the sky was serene - we looked around, and what a place had we crept into surrounded by precipices, and walls of rock which fell in many places close upon the edge of the River, it was as dismal to look backward as forward, and upward to ascend seemed hopeless "No use stopping here" was the remark, and down the river we all started, Mcleod and one the men rather lame from the state of their shoes Our travelling for the first hour or so was consequently very slow, though it was not possible under any circumstances to make more than a mile & a half in the hour owing to the difficulties, of the ground and the obstacles opposed to us. After a while however we halted as if to hold council, and decide what was best to be done. To get out of the infernal Hole in which we were and ascend the same side of the ravine that we had first come into it was the determination, and we moved on looking out for the first advantageous spot practicable for our escape Eager as we were
to ascend - many places wh. otherwise would have appeared impossible, to us, now seemed practicable, so that our first two or three attempts were vain, and we all felt disheartened The following sketch will shew the nature of the place, and the method we at last
[Water colour of the gully described on the last page]
[Back of previous picture entitled a New South Wales Gully view]
continued to ascend, after travelling until nearly 3 p.m. from the first light of the morning -
+ a description therefore of its apparent peculiarities & characteristic scenery in as far as I witnessed during a survey in 1829 may be considered interesting.
Sketches to accompany
+ North Head of Port Jackson
+ Barrenjuee or S. Head of Broken Bay
natives fishing for snappers in the Coast +
Natives in Canoes.
+ Character of Broken ridges between Cowan & Berowra Cks.
It wd. have added more to the Interest if I cd. have laid down wh. the science of a Geologist the different structure of the strata, or have stated wh. [indecipherable] correctness the general
mineral compositions formation of the rocks and [indecipherable] any mineral stratification but as my attention was wholly directed to delineating the outward features I cannot now attempt, (what I am incompetent to go through with for want of correct information) a description of the disposition of the rocks and [indecipherable] strata wh. without accurate & detailed drawings supported by the most diligent & scientific research, would be unsatisfactory and scarcely intelligible. It must be understood therefore that I describe the scenery according to the impressions wh. it made when I was on the ground,
and if any one shd. hereafter tax me wh. exaggeration and making mountains of molehills, I can only wish that person at the bottom of one of the Ravines to make his best way out, and I am inclined to think from what I have myself experienced that he will alter his tone before he has ascended half way -
[Watercolour probably Barrenjoey ]
South Head of the Hawkesbury River called by the natives Barranjuee W.R.G.
Of the Country between Port Jackson and Broken Bay
The country wh. lies immediately between Port Jackson and Broken Bay commonly called the North [indecipherable] as well as the coast, between the same places exhibit features of a very singular nature + - and having travelled over the greater part of it during a survey in 1824 I will venture to give a description of its peculiarities and characteristic scenery A High
Ridge Range whose lateral branches descending in rocky barren promontories. From the indicated bays & inlets on the North side of Port Jackson Harbour, extends Eastward from the N Headland nearly parallel with the One tree Hill, near which it takes a northerly direction passing through the Pennant Hill district it joins the great Northern road from whence the same Range and Road continue Northward to Wisemans Ferry on the Hawkesbury River district from Parramatta about 36 miles Hence the country wh. is the subject of the present paper is bounded as follows on the North by the Hawkesbury River & Broken Bay on the South by Port Jackson and the Parramatta river on the East by the Sea coast and on the West by the North Road to the Ferry above mentioned. The summit of this principal Range is in many parts well wooded and possesses a good soil. Farms have been long ago cleared upon it, by the first settlers and cultivation carried on as far as Bests Inn about 15 miles from Parramatta from wh. place the country assumes a barren aspect. At one tree Hill a Vineyard has been formed and all along Pennant Hills the first and best orange orchards or [indecipherable] in cornfields may be seen in great perfection Upon a descent of this range in the valleys leading towards Lane Cove Companies of Bushmen Sawyers were employed in cutting down and sawing in planks the Blue Gum, Black Butt & other trees whose timber is valuable, which were afterwards conveyed to Sydney by water But this fine timber and richness of soil extends no further than upon the surface of the Range The deviation of a mile or two to the N. or East will bring the traveller into a change of scenery which will surprise him. He will have the undulating forest to gaze upon deep and impossible Ravines a soil clothed with verdure to travel on the barren Rock -
+ Pitt Water wh. receives another Romantic Creek
The direction of the slopes above the side may vary from 1000 to 1800 feet
[In pencil] Pitt Water its high country and scenery
Four deep Creeks [indecipherable] the space of country above described each of wh. derive their sources from this Main Range, and flowing Northward disemboyen themselves into the Hawkesbury River. The two largest of these creek are called by the Natives the Cowan, and Berowra "Near the mouth of the River in Pitt Water - a broad quiet inlet [indecipherable] the sea wh. being protected from the boisterous waves without by a Ridge of Mountain, and a long and narrow sandbar, forms a beautiful & Romantic Lake, and is found a convenient shelter for vessels in adverse weather
1) The Ridges wh. divide these creeks are mostly barren & rocky whose precipitous sides form ravines which cannot be crossed.
- The summits & sides of some are flat & covered wh. timber, whilst others rise in rugged & exposed peaks, exceedingly narrow and difficult to be travelled. Stupendous snakes of Rocks running in horizontal rows will be seen descending from the top of some of these Ridges to the very bottom which on approaching exhibit an endless variety of rugged forms & shapes In some instances they appear like the castellated ruins of a Fortress; wh. its dilapidated walls and shattered battlements perpendicular in some places sloping in others and receding into caves overhung by huge and [indecipherable] canopies wh. may be almost taken for the workmanship of man These caves or hollows are called by the Natives, Gibbu Gunyas or Homes of rock under wh. they may occasionally pass a night but they are found generally very [indecipherable]. The inner walls being wet and in a state of decomposition so that the sand of wh. they are composed wh. is generally of a yellowish colour may be scratched off by the nail The outside of these rocks however become [indecipherable] by exposure to the sun and atmosphere and are often seen to glitter brilliantly Near the extremity of the Ridge wh. divides the Cowan & Berowra Creek from a point overlooking the waters of the Hawkesbury - and commanding a prospect of the most romantic scenery is that part of the Country the summit is formed of a crude mass of flat rock, upon the surface of which figures of various descriptions, as hand, arm, legs run and
Rock Basins mentioned in Mr A G. B[indecipherable] account of Dartmor. vid. Chap. IV.-
The Loris or slow paced Lemur, answer to the Sloth of N.S Wales. Ibid. [indecipherable] Res. Vol. 4 P 127
Vol III. P 232 Ibid. Goldsmiths [indecipherable] Histy. "to be put in another [indecipherable]"
+ - It was in one of the deep gullies of this country that I first saw a host of most singular animals called Flying Foxes It cd. have been no less than two hundred of them that alighted upon the trees close to the spot which we had descended to procure water They hung upon the branches in various ways and having no fire arms we pelted them wh. stones. When they made off wh. a great noise and flew down in a deeper part of the Ravine. They appeared to me like immense bats and I afterwards had an opportunity of seeing one which was shot by a Settler of Pennant Hills The head cadaver much resembled that of the Fox, and was
covered wh. red hair nearly as large as that of a male Fox small one The Teeth were perfectly canine with [indecipherable] and very sharp & numerous The wings formed of thick skin supported by triangula joints were perfectly those of a Bat wh. expanded nearly three feet wide and they were fortified with sharp hooks at the different angles. They are not very common, and as they reside in the most wild and inaccessible gullies are seldom disturbed When shot they will fasten
Sketch of Ranges between Pitt Water and Cowan
[Another sketch untitled possibly same place]
Sketch of Mount Victoria [indecipherable]
were indented or scooped out in a variety of curious fashions and near at hand stood by itself a Stone circular Basin resting on a rock pedestal nearly 4 feet high wh. contained water from which we drank. The appearance of this Basin (wh. indeed very much resembled the Baptismal fronts seen in some of our old Churches could incline one to suppose that it was actually built if the fantastical nature of the rocky scenery around did not in some manner account for it I much regretted not having taken a sketch of
this extraordinary Basin it as the place is so situated that few wd. travel there for pleasure or curiosity but for the cutting of the figures on the rock I had reasons sometime afterward to account for having come upon a rock somewhat similarly indented in a different part of NS Wales I was informed by Mr Luck that they used to sharpen their stone tomahawks that way by rubbing them on the flat rocks [indecipherable] - The bottom of these ravines especially where the creeks widen & open to the River were [indecipherable] fragmented by the coast Natives for the wooded sides of the Ranges in this neighbourhood abound with this food - animals of various kinds and the waters below afford a plentiful supply of oysters and other shellfish. In these creeks also heaps of used shells piled up 20 feet high are found by the escarp of the hills but whether they have been placed there by the natives or washed up in this way by the force of waters is a matter of conjecture It has been thought worth while however to employ men to remove them they are constantly brought from these islets in large boats to Sydney and are then burnt for Lime Alluvial flats but of no great extent [indecipherable] be noticed at the base of these high ridges near the discharge of the creeks some of wh. appear of recent origin. These are formed from the sediment wasted from the hills, and by partial inundation, and the richest vegetation wh. the Cabbage tree & Fern are found in the greatest luxuriance upon them The boundaries of these flats can easily be spaced and in my opinion they are constantly changing, some being in a state of progression, while others may be [indecipherable] some time decreasing and this phenomonen may be owing to the difference of the Seasons -
[This sentence looks as if it should follow Page 55 (34)]
to the branches of the trees in such a manner that it is difficult to get them down when dead -
[Water colour picture of Aboriginals spearing fish in a canoe]
[Charcoal drawing of the above scene]
smooth & silent [indecipherable] waters of these Creeks or Inlets whose windings are so beautifully diversified wh. grand scenery, and enclosed by such towering Ridges presenting wood and rock in agreeable variety, The Native might formerly have been seen paddling close in his canoe to some favorite [indecipherable] where he might spear the mullet undisturbed which the smoke rising from an opposite a distant point wd shew where he had left his companions The Natives, as in almost everything else seem to required little trouble & little time in making their canoes, wh. are seldom large enough to contain more than two, and of such peculiar construction that it wd be difficult for even an expert European to manage one Indeed they are made but for temporary use at their different fish places, and as they sojourn from one creek to another, so they find means to provide canoes if required A sheet of Bark is cut from the tree about 12 feet in length and heated over a strong fire until it warp, and becomes capable of being bent to the proper shape The two extremities are then tapered off and brought together bent upwards and fastened by strong bandages. Two strong sticks are sometimes placed crossing at either end to keep it in shape and the boat is formed [The following sentences were interposed one on the other and were difficult to sort out] The women as well as the men manage these simple canoes very dexterously, and their position when in these is kneeling so that with a piece of bark in either hand they are able to guide the canoe and glide along wh. great facility. The edges of the canoe sometimes approach so near the surface of the water that it is scarcely to be seen especially at a little distance and the Natives consequently often appear as if they were actually in the water They never that I have heard of venture out to sea in their canoes, but they often cross the widest parts of rivers in them wh. security, and use them mostly in fishing excursions. They are not however cowards of the deep on the contrary the Natives are bold and surprisingly expert both in swimming and diving -
+ of which flat rocks jut out into the sea some hundred yards wh. are covered when the tide roles in.
*Whether these Headland were originally distinct from the main land, or whether these connecting sand bar were formed at the same time or subsequently, are questions yet to be resolved
+^The western or insure side of this Headland is indented by several inlets or Bays At the extremities of which are white sandy beaches They are divided by barren
rocky promontories whose outlines or edges are singularly fringed wh. rocky precipices At the head of the principal inlet a small piece of land was cleared and a hut built whose tenants were formerly a young black a Female Prisoner whom he married. In this solitary corner they had lived for some years, The kept a boat wh. they sometimes [indecipherable] to procure the little they required by selling Fish &c The height of the Headland above the sea is considerable I believe between 7 & 800 feet and its summit is about a mile & a half in length and destitute of timber [indecipherable] The point from wh. this sketch was taken is from the extremity of a ridge wh. divides a part of N. Hr. from Middle Harbour and distant between 3 & 4 miles from the headland. The intervening space of water is called N. Harbour. Its Eastern front presents one solid mass of perpendicular rock - + [ It seems that the sentence with the cross at the top of the page should be put here] Altho [indecipherable] when the sea breeze blow inland strongly Ship and vessels bound outward are not able to [indecipherable] with and consequently they make under the lie of the land and wait for an opportunity & change of wind in North Hr. At the North Eastern extremity of this Harbour a Township was laid out in the year 29 and since that some houses and a kind of wharf has been erected there. There is a Brush track & road from this Township it extends along the coast as far as Pitt Water and passes through Mr Jenkins farm and along the narrow arm & Bar wh. divide Narrabeen
Having thus described the character of the Country between the sea and the North Road to Wisemans Ferry it remains for me to give some account of the Coast between Port Jackson & Broken Bay and of the Harbour & Headlands formed by these two Estuaries There is one * remarkable and particular feature attending almost all The head land on the Eastern coast at the mouths of Rivers which is, that they are connected to the main land by low and narrow Sand bars thus in the Sketches wh accompany this Paper the N. Headland of Port J. appears as a Peninsula and all that mighty mass of Rock connected to the main land by a low sandbar of not more than 150 yards in width stands out at sea a formidable barrier and forms a grand and magnificent entrance to the principle harbour of the Southern world. The Bar forms on one side a bay to N. Harbour and on the other a semicircular beach against wh. in a succession of foaming breakers comes the waters of the main ocean - ^+. Thus also as in the sketch of Barranjuee or S.H. of Broken Bay a sand bar of two or three miles in length, and very narrow, connects that extraordinary H Land wh. the main Range, and divides Pitt Water from the sea. The form of this Headland is long high and narrow having a cove at the West point Its length from E. T W. may be more than a mile making the shape of a T with the sandbar Its western extremity forms a convenient Harbour in Pitt Water secure against the violence of sea or wind where formerly two weatherbeaten Fishermen having procured a Boat took up their residence erected a sort of hut under the rocks and gained a rude livelihood by fishing - [indecipherable]
This Headland altogether partakes of the character of the rocky ridges already mentioned rising as it does suddenly & abruptly assumes in a succession of perpendicular ridges of rock a wild and bold appearance. The distance of the Headland from the spot where the sketch was taken is rather more than three miles looking northward -
from the sea. This Lagoon appears to be formed chiefly by the inundating sea, for at the extremity or Northern end of the long Beach the Pass of the Road is extremely narrow and at high tide the breakers flow into the lagoon when the road becomes impassable It abounds with the fish called mullet wh. are excellent and they are caught in great numbers by means of nets. On its eastern side Forest Ranges descend upon it, and from many points the Lagoon is a pretty object in the Landscape the Road then continues upon higher ground to Pitt Water overlooking the sea the whole way passing thro several minor farms and by the side of what are called Tea tree swamp. The tea tree of NS Wales is rather ornamental and geny. found in swampy places its foliage is dark green not leafy but fibrous its spread is pleasing clusters resembling the tea tree of China [indecipherable] They grow however from 15 to 25 feet in length [indecipherable] aged appearance and many of them wd. make an excellent stand for the foresail Their peculiarity consists chiefly in the nature of the bark. wh consists of numerous coatings thin as fine paper very soft and smooth as silk and it is not impossible, as I have heard it
asserted, that the native women wrap their new born infants wh. this material
+ A man informed me that he had entered at least 80 yards into these caverns and the sun must enter them at high tide, but as yet they have never been explored.
End of this Paper No X
sent to J.V Parker 8 Octr. 1836
per North Devon [indecipherable]
[Drawing of Aboriginals fishing from rock shelf]
There are several other minor Headlands between Port Jackson and Broken B some of wh are called Turrells Hd. The Hole in the Wall Turimetree Bungan and Bulgoula All bear some resemblance to one another. Their summit being of a rounded form destitute of timber but particularly sometimes clothed wh grass and their cliffs are pointed abrupt and perpendicular - The strata of some appears to be of a reddish sandstone others of a blue slate colour, and some of a dark iron grey stone. They jut out into the sea in a bold and commanding manner, and they all have foundations of flat rock beneath them wh are greater in some than in others There is the point called the long reef wh extends out at sea considerably beyond all the others and is distant from N. Head about 10 miles
Between these Headlands & reefs are sandy Beaches which vary in shape and in length & depth & in some of their [indecipherable] parts Ridges of sand (30 feet by 2) appear to be thrown up by the violence of the waves for miles. wh. are generally covered wh vegetable [indecipherable] and [indecipherable] shrubs The waves dash and break wh. spiteful fury upon the rocks of the cliffs but rolling in a succession of transparent breakers they burst wh a loud & hollow roar upon the [indecipherable] sounding beaches [Words in another language]
The Headland named the "Hole in the Wall" has been called from its having its projecting wall of Rock a large lofty archway wh appears perfect in its formation and exceedingly curious & wonderful +
- It is upon the [indecipherable] of these flat rocks beneath the Headland, above mentioned that the natives were accustomed to fish for "Snappers" They are seen to great advantage when employed
-Memoranda respecting country South of Botany Bay see -
+ Patches of Forest Land detached must become valuable
+ Georges River Navigable to Liverpool
+ Juggernaut Creek
+ Wild Horses near Liverpool
Sand Hills between By. Bay and Pt. Hacking
Cabbage tree flats & mud banks - [indecipherable] or the [indecipherable] of Bny Bay - Scenery of Woronora R. romantic
High range of [indecipherable] Mtain steep declivity of do. and vegetation below - + Dur in the vicinity of Sydney
+ Parcels of land cultivated on the South side of Georges River
Make lime The Wingercarribee
[indecipherable] Nattai Ck variety of scenery
[indecipherable] crossing the lateral river
Berrima township Cowpastures
in these occupations they are surprisingly clever at the sport and it is highly amusing to watch their actions, and dexterous manoevours - wh invariably succeed. Snappers are [indecipherable] Fishes and weigh from 5 to 15 and 20 pounds they are also handsome glittering fish when taken out of the water and they generally resort about the deep waters (bottomless to the eye) at the extremity of these rocks. Probably they may find shelter in the cavities below, and places of refuge from the monsters that prey upon them for both Whales and Sharks of enormous size frequent these shores, and have sometimes been seen for within the Harbour of P.J. It must also be remarked by way of information, that upon the surface of these foundation rocks are here and there holes or Basins of various depth & size wh are always filled wh salt water beautifuly clear. In these the cunning Natives catch his bait the "Star fish" a creature formed of a transparent gelatinous substance and appearing like a mass of jelly. They are seen at the bottom of the basins fastened to the rock wh. their arms radiating from the centre moving about they have the power when disturbed of emitting a black fluid wh. instantly discolours the water all around and this effects an escape. Their arms are provided wh. most powerful suckers wh. enable them to adhere so strongly to any substance as to be wh [indecipherable] difficulty unmoved and stay here ) often they the power of stinging the hands that touches them. have the power when disturbed
The Natives therefore are obliged to be very expert in first securing a sufficient quantity of these as bait for his sport which, from the circumstances above mentioned are not easily caught by those who are not experienced They generally first fix them to the rock wh. a forked stick and then seizing them by the back draw them out and instantly dash them on the rock. As soon as a sufficient quantity are procured they cut one or two into several pieces and throw them into the sea where they intend to fish and this is done to allure
and bring together the snappers. They then prepare the line wh. is of strong cord and from 50 to 60 feet in length, to which a strong hook is attached having wetted it. They coil it up in their left hand in such a manner, that; when they throw off the baited end wh. their right hand the line will run out its full length. Thus, as shewn in the Sketch. They stand at the very extremity of the rocks, the breakers often forcing them from their footing and, as soon as they have thrown out the line cautiously but gradually bring it in coiling it as before, wh. care, - but when, they feel a fish they haul in wh. great rapidity to preserve the fish from getting under the rocks, and having brought it out they immed.y kill it by inflicting a wound on the back of the head wh a Tomahawk
In this manner I have seen a native catch eight large snappers in less than half an hour from the time he commenced fishing If a party of blacks has been assembled together on the coast for the purpose of fishing for themselves, as they were sometimes accustomed to do, they form an animated and lively group of figures On these occasions they make good fires as near their fishing ground as possible and generally rest and eat them as soon as they are caught until they are satisfied The women attend the fires while the boys catch bait, collect oysters and the men fish The natives in this instance are correct for these fish are never so good as when eat as soon as possible after being taken from the water their cooking is certainly rude but the fish is certainly good when cooked in this way They eat these oysters also in a similar manner by roasting them before
[this is continued on page 71 (46 of the original)]
No XI of Sydney & its Harbour
(On the Country between Port Jackson and Botany Bay) and between that and the road to Illawarra The descent of the Mountain Coast Natives fishing &c Poisonous Fishes &c anecdote of the lost line Boldness of a native in diving. Skeleton of a Horse found wh. a chain & log fastened to one of its legs Liverpool, Appin, Campbell Town. Tuggerah Creek Head of Cataract River, [indecipherable] singular & [indecipherable] patches of Forest land or the summit of the Ranges ---Boudi Bay
(Botany Bay lies about 7 miles S of P.J. and the intervening land has a naked & barren appearance)
The S. Headland of P.J. forms the other grand feature to the Entrance of the Harbour and although it is not quite so high nor is situated as to appear so strikingly [indecipherable] as the rock of the North Hd. it suggestion [indecipherable] included a magistic precipice This may be said to be separated from the "Continent of Aus" by a low sandy flat of some extent, connecting a deep bay of the Harbour up a Bay of the Sea called Bundi and it is distant about a mile a half S of the N. Hland.
There is something altogether about the formation- of P. Jackson wh. bids defiance; and, it is evident from its natural structure that a system of fortification cd. be effected in that Harbour wh. no other harbour in the whole world cd equal or come up to in strength There is not a rock in the whole Harbour but which hereafter may be turned to account and the very ridge or promontory on wh. the Capital stands is composed of the very best building material a durable sandstone On a commanding point of this Headland, and not far from the edge of the precipice stands the Lighthouse, erected during the Governorship of Genl. Macquarie. There is also a signal staff upon this point wh. communicates wh. the Telegraph at Sydney Information of Ships seen to the Northward
[continued page 47 of the original and 72 of the copy]
no advantage of a proper [indecipherable] for the laying out of Roads
The fire which they open having stated in a previous paper that the Natives were not cowards of the Deep but surprisingly bold both in swimming and diving I will relate the circumstance wh happened to me while surveying this part of the coast and wh convinced me of their boldness
Sydney is built on a rocky promontory on the South side of the Port and is
(Busby bore water brought to Sydney from a spring.)
Some [indecipherable] accompa d. a native to see him fish, and after watching him for some time he gave up, having been very successful. Being desirous of trying my skill, I borrowed his line & tackle letting him know that I wd. take the greatest care of it. He did but wh. much alarm unwillingness & distrust, and having left me to manage as best I could . I very soon found that it was a difficult and often [indecipherable] to throw out the line properly, and to lift it through the ceaseless [indecipherable] of the waves [indecipherable] it required also some skill & experience. In short I made a bungle of my attempt, and after throwing out the line entangling it and disentangling it for half an hour I felt a fish the line being carried underneath the rocks. I pulled in vain, the line was fastened some 40 feet below, the water to a fish in a rock. I cd. not say In this predicament I began to conjecture what was best to be done how I shd. satisfy the Black for I had no other tackle to give him. I tied the end of the line securely to the rock and left it much dissatisfied wh. my performance. On arriving at the Camp I was informed that the Black had [indecipherable] out one fish, and gone northward to meet
[Faintly in pencil continued P 49]
[continued from Page 70-45]
or Southward is instantly given, and the Townsfolk are apprised of the vessels approach long before she enters the Harbour. To give a proper description of a Harbour  or a Town  that detail of matter is desirable wh. is not an object of the present paper to enter into omitting thereon a description of the appearance of the Houses & the style of its buildings of the former, wh the gardens - & Domain. The numerous islands promontories Bays Creeks Inlet and villas and grotesque corners of the latter I shall confine my remarks more part.y to the specific locality, and outline of the general features within the limits above described
x Sydney is situated about 7 miles West of the [indecipherable]
The streets are laid out to run North & South. & E & W. intersecting at N. [indecipherable]Its Govt. H & Domain face the North command.g a view of the cove & the Port on the West it is bounded by the Deep extensive Bay called Darling Hr. and on the East by Wolomoloo Bay. Of late years however the Town has been considerably improved & enlarged by the grant of Allotments on what are called the Windmill Ridge E. of Wolomoloo Bay They were given conditionally to the principal Civil & Military officers of the Govt who have since built elegant Mansions thereon
At the south end of this ridge near the South Head Road, stands the site of the New Gaol The outer walls of wh. have been many years built on a grand scale but from some cause or other the proposed building within has never been carried into effect the principle roads that lead from Sydney are the main Road to Pa. The South Hd. Rd and the road to BtnyBy - The two last pass through which is called "Hyde Park" an extensive open space of ground at the back of the Town and the main road passing through George Street, turns Eastward [indecipherable] then [indecipherable].P. toward Pa
A Catholic Chapel, on an elegant plan has been erected on this ground for some years but has never been completed for the want of means The site chosen however is bad being on the slope of the Range so that the building is not seen to advantage.
[In the margin Hyde Park
Road out of |Sydney
[The land between P. 3 & BB.]
The Monkey of NS Wales
- Description of the Loris, or slowpaced Lemur of which the accompanying sketch is a correct representation. This animal is common to N.S. Wales, and is generally found in the Stringy bark forests They are numerous upon the ridges leading to Coxs River below the mountain precipices also in the Ravines wh. open into the Hawkesbury River and its various other parts of the Colony. They are called by some Monkeys by other Bears but they by no means answer to either title. I first took it to be the Sloth of B[indecipherable] but it differs materially from that animal . It mostly resembles the Loris or slow paced Lemur of India. I have shot several and caught one or two of them alive by the assistance of Blacks both young & old wh. I have kept at the tents for some time and from what I have observed I can give the following description When full grown they may be almost the size of a male or China pig. they have four hands having [indecipherable] talons. are armed wh. nails exceedingly sharp, nearly an inch long and curved The fur is of a dark grey colour, very thick , & extremely soft. It is darker on the back & [indecipherable] under the throat & belly and slightly tinged wh. a reddish brown about the rump.
x The countenance is by no means disagreeable. Harmless looking & pitiful. The nose is somewhat elongated and tipped as if wh. black leather The ears are almost concealed in the thickness of the face, but have inwardly whitish hairs. The eyes are round and dark, sometimes expressive and the mouth is small and they have no tail. Like most other animals of the colony they are drowsy & stupid by day, but become more animated at night. Are by no means active however but rather slow in motion and seemed formed for climbing trees and when disturbed they make a melancholy cry exciting pity. They feed upon the tops of trees selecting the blossoms & fresh vegetation. They will eat honey & sweet things and are also [indecipherable] to cut some particular kinds of
[Drawing of The Monkey or Bear of NS Wales. WRG.]
Anecdote continued. [in faint pencil from P 46]
other of his tribe. Stating that he wd. come early in the morning for the line This at any rate gave me time to consider, and I actually sent a man off to try [indecipherable] to procure lines & necessary tackle Wh. order if possible to return before the Black, if he travelled all night. The morning came, and the native arrived in company wh. two others. Goot morning [indecipherable] you cth him fish B[indecipherable] said [indecipherable]. Me want it line I shook my head, he looked suspicious, I believe he said you hook him rock. You are right I thought [indecipherable] & after humouring them wh. offers of every thing good wh. he expressed his disappointment. I took them to the spot expecting of course that the line was gone but I was astonished to find it exactly [indecipherable]. The native examined the position of the line attentively, and calling me a [indecipherable] stupid fisherman" he unloosed his waistband, threw off his cloak and giving as I supposed some directions to his companions stood upon the verge of the rock. In an instant he was seen to plunge through a rising wave, and disappeared He must have been under water nearly a minute before he again appeared about 15 yards from the rock and catching the opportunity came in on all fours upon a rising wave The line had been unfastened from & hauled in without sustaining damage or even the loss of the hook
[this is continued from P48 of the original and P 73 of the copy]
bark. Altogether they appear to be formed very differently from all other quadrupeds, and it is probable they have different enjoyments They are exceedingly inoffensive and gentle in manners if not irritated. the first I ever saw of these animals was caught in a particular way by a Native and as we watched his manoeuver wh. considerable interest & curiosity I [indecipherable] We were ascending Mr Tourang, one of the trigonometrical points in Argyle very early in the morning when the Native perceived a very large monkey in the act of ascending a tree He caught it, and we requested him not to kill it., but with one or two kerchifs we tied the animal to a trunk of a small tree intending to take it to the camp on our return. About sunset we were descending the mountain and did not forget the Prisoner. but lo. when we arrived at the spot the Creature was gone the Native shook his head, and commenced examining the neighbouring trees When presently he espied the gentleman perched on the top of a high tree quite at home We catch the rascal directly said the Black, & proceed first to cut a long pole about ten feet in length, he then cut a long stripe from a stringy bark tree, and fastened it to the end of the pole in the form of a loop or noose after wh. he commenced ascending the tree in good spirits The animal (on observing the approach of his enemy ascended higher & higher until he got to the very extremity of the leafy bough on the top of the tree) While the Native mounted as high as he cd. safely go cd with difficulty reach him. For a long time he tried to get the noose over the head of the monkey and often when the native imagined
Most of the principal streets of Sydney appear like those of an English town The Houses are 2 & 3 stories high some extensively of Brick [are built of Brick] others are fronted wh. store and many have the necessary accommodation of spacious verandah. Most of the houses or cottages in the minor streets have small gardens before them, and built only on ground floor though some of them are very neat & roomy and tasteful
x The public buildings are mostly exceedingly plain and by no means striking in appearance nor do the Churches display any attempt to ornamental or decent architecture. An elegant & massive Portico of white stone upon a plain brick wall cannot be correct It is unsightly and the effect of wrong taste The Military Barrack & square face George Street and has an elegant situation. It is a long row gallery looking of building two stories in height, wh numerous windows and surrounded wh. a spacious verandah. The centre of it has angular faring on the top, having a verandah up above as well as below and in [indecipherable] rooms are at either end
The Officers quarters side N. & S end of the Square
x The Hotels are numerous and many of these good
In all warm climates it has been thought advisable and indeed necessary to remove the Burial ground as far from the Town as possible Hence the burial ground of Sydney is situated at the remote south end of the Town upon the side of a hill. It is surrounded by a brick wall and covered with tomb stores of all description In the summer season, as Dec. Jan Feb & March wh. are the hottest months of the year in that part of the world the heat in Sydney is sometimes very great but this is in a great measure counteracted by the cool sea Breeze, wh is regularly expected and seldom fails to refresh the inhabitants about noon It is frequently very hot even at 6 oclock in the morning and there is no luxuriant shade of trees to protect the lawn from the burning rays of the sun again it is not unusual to have a succession of fine weather whout a drop of rain for six months and more together so that the heat acting upon the [indecipherable] surface of the ground is returned wh. redoubled strength In 1826-27 & 28 there had been a dry season throughout the Country nearly the whole face of the Interior was parched & dried water deserted the streams Cattle suffered and people [indecipherable] their herds and went further & further
(52) [This page is a continuation of page 50 in the original and Page 76 on the screen]
he had succeeded. The monkey wh. his face turned wd repeatedly turn it off and disengage himself. The Native became angry and the poor animal as he looked down upon his adversery looked quite pitious & ridiculous we began to think that the Black wd fail in his attempt He got however a step higher till the very bough bended wh. his weight, and having slipped the noose over the animals head immediately twisted the pole so as to tighten the cord We got the Rascal, he exclaimed, as he cautiously looked about for the best way of descending come along, you rascal come; come come; said he tugging away at the monkey who seemed unwilling to quit his post Down they came by degrees the black dragging his prey & constantly making faces at the monkey and teasing him wh. great delight to himself. We could not but observe the cautious manner in wh. he managed his prisoner, but this caution appeared to be very necessary, for when they had descended to where the tree divided in two branches and was more firm. The Blak wished to make the animal pass him so that he might have better command over him In so doing the animal made a sort of catch or spring wh. the native cleverly avoided by shifting to the other branch wh. gt. dexterity. Just as they arrived nearly to the bottom of the tree the monkey being below jumped jupon the ground and got loose and instantly commenced ascending another tree we seized him by the rump but soon thought it advisable to let him go and the native, now enraged, sprung to his tomahawk and threw it wh. such force at the unlucky animal as to knock him clear off the tree. We then took him wh. us to the camp when we killed it, as from his pitiful lamentations we thought the animal was suffering torture from the blow of the Tomahawk
On the Country between Sydney, Botany Bay and Illawarra
To give etc
To give etc
To give a proper and minute description of a Town or Hr. it wd. be necy. for an Indl. to make his notes on the spot - so that he might enter into that detail of matter wh. wd. enable him to give the necessy desired information - [indecipherable] & note the usefulness or the interest of his work It is not the object of the present paper to enter into such detail but omitting to describe the appearance of the Houses or the style of the Public Buildings of the Town the Govt House wh. its Domain and public Gardens as well as the Islands Forts Batteries & numerous promontories beautiful Bays Creeks, Inlets, Villas and peaceful grottos of the Harbour. the remarks will be confined more particularly to the site locality and outline of the general structure within the limits above mentioned Each one of them however might furnish matter for an interesting paper to a person on the spot who [indecipherable] is the [indecipherable] point out the position, advantages, capabilities improvements the natural beauties defects and other local particularities -
[indecipherable] picture of Port Jackson to be copied
x Altho the soil is sandy [indecipherable] & rocky about Sydney yet the Shrubs are mostly very beautiful, and a few gentlemen having grants instead of wholly destroying these but merely removing the most unsightly, have laid out their ground wh. considerable taste & judgement
continued from Page 51
is in search of pasture, wh [indecipherable] only be found in the deep & sheltered valleys scarcely a cloud was seen in Heaven during these years to leave the people wh. a Hope and Prayers for Rain had been for a long time read in the churches Such was the state of the Colony when Archdeacon Broughton arrived and I believe I am correct in stating that the first Sunday that Revd Genl preached in Sydney - + a most [indecipherable] and copious storm of rain came over the Town while all the people were in Church . The very streets were deluged and turned into watercourses (though the day opened + fair and beautifully clear) These sudden and unexpected storms are not uncommon to NS Wales I believe and I have witnessed several of an extraordinary nature The long thunder clap or burst, wh. terrible explosion, and the lightning is much more viewed than is common in England In the very midst of summer sudden hailstorms occasionally visit the Colony, and sometimes effect very serious damage in the Town breaking all glass that may be exposed to its violence. Lumps of irregular in the size of pigeons eggs have been known to fall and batter wh. tremendous noise upon the roffs of the Houses, and neither man nor animal can stand its fury Hot winds are also prevalent in some season of New Year in Sydney but they are never of long duration. Also immense clouds of dust blow over the Town occasionaly from the Brickfield Kiln, and [indecipherable] all the houses & shipping wh. these occasions it is found necessary to close both doors & windows for the wind is so violent and the dust so thick that nothing can face it. Another inconvenience wh. which the town of Sydney was for sometime pestered was the immensurable quantis of dogs. Every person had dogs and there were hundreds prowling about
Sydney is situated on the South side of P.J. about 7 miles west within the Headlands It is built upon undulating land wh. is bounded by sloping rocky ledges on the water side (The longest streets are laid out to run N & S intersecting wh st. Ls. those that are E & W and the Town extends at present mostly Southward- It is bounded on the West by Darling Harbour on the North by the Govt. Domain & the Port on the East by Wolomoloo Bay and the Windmill Ridge and on the South by the Brickfield Hills. Sydney of late years however has been considerably improved & enlarged by the Grant of Allotments on what was called the Windmill R. E of Woloo. Bay. These were given I believe con d y to the principal Military & Civil Officers of the Govt who have since built elegant mansions thereon & are occupied by their respective owners at the S. end of this ridge, adjoining the South Hd + road stands the site of the New Gaol, the outer walls of which have been built many years on a grand scale but from some cause or other the proposed building within has never been carried into effect. The principal road wh. lead from Sy are the main Rd into the Interior through George St. the road to Botany Bay and the S. Hd. Rd. The two last pass through what is called Hyde Park an extensive open space of ground, on wh. has been erected a Catholic Chapel, on an extensive & elegant scale, though the site chosen is bad, being on the slope of the ground so that the building does not appear to advantage from the points where it oughtillsH
Road to South Head to be described as a pleasant drive views from it are
- Scenery very different from the Interior no trees &c little to be improved by men Sea Breeze expected at 12 o clock
Hot winds x
Bathing places of Sydney to be mentioned
fruits variety of melon The vine an
[indecipherable] of insects in the Domain
Entrance of Govr Bourke into Sydney
- Cricket playing in Hyde park Hot winds
Brickfields Storm when Arch Deacon Broughton first preached after a three year drought The nuisance of dogs. Water arranged into Sydney by Mr. Busby from the Botany swamp.
forgot to mention the sagacity of the Kangaroo dogs in returning and afterward talking his master to the spot where he has killed the game. also The Natives dexterity in swimming and diving in fresh water. Anecdote of a number of them.
[faintly in pencil ] Sydney burial place x
Brush ticks mention the Sow and Pigs & The toad fish.
The road to South Head then passes in a straight line through the centre of this ground and then turns Eastward towards the Gaol wall before [indecipherable] up a rising ground. It continues along a range wh. in many places falls abruptly in a broken undulation towards the Harbour The soil on either side is very sandy & barren and the vegetation consequently poor. Trees of stunted growth cover the lateral ranges extending from the road towards the harbour but on the south side nothing but low bushes no trees are seen a high range and numerous swamps extends Southward. but along the Coast which covered with coarse sand & sombre looking plants X and the whole distance terminates at Botany Bay. In one of these swamps not far from the road and about 3 miles from Sydney there are excellent spring of water wh. is connected into Sydney [of entering [indecipherable] country exhibit a barren & narrow appearance] by means of an underground channel and pipes This was an undertaking former years and it was supposed that the Gentm. who had the management [indecipherable] cd. have failed in his attempt. At length however the water made its appearance [indecipherable] and there is a pump in the center in Hyde Park, it supplies the water carts daily but I believe in scarcely sufficient quantities The difficulty was owing most probably to the inexactness in taking the first of the levels as the ground is very uneven between the points Notwithstanding the sterile appearance of the adjacent Hills. Many points on this road present a variety of scenes & extensive landscape and consequently it is the most fashionable and frequent drive to the inhabitants of Sydney. To the Southward, Botany Bay spreads itself like a wide enclosed lake, and the High range of the Illawarra Mountains is seen frowning on the coast. Western Sydney wh. its spire appears in view , and the far distant summits of the blue mountains. To the North the different Bays Islands & projecting points of the Harbour wh. vessels sailing about offer a pleasing & ever changing prospect and Eastward
is the open Sea and
The Grand walls of the bold Headlands shew how [indecipherable] resist the mighty water of the ocean.
There are already several good houses on this line of road, building is increasing and it is probable that in a few years the barren aspect of these hills will be changed and the works of man will make up for the deficiency of nature The road before it reaches the S.Hd. descends into a flat swamp on both sides and then ascends generally towards the summit view P. 45 Botany Bay is about 7 miles S of Port Jackson and lately there has been a new & excellent road laid out to it, wh leaves the South Head road somewhere near the New Gaol wall The intervening ground is flat and sandy abounding wh. swamp and marshy places covered wh. water But the face of the country is daily undergoing great changes and improvement a great portion of it is divided into allotments, wh. are greedily bought at a reasonable and sometimes a high price. [indecipherable] Houses have been erected & building is still making rapid progress Garden plots are fenced in in every direction, and the land which a few years ago was considered from its sterility useless and unprofitable is now become by means of human industry productive and valuable Botany Bay(that dreaded name (wh. whose long history I am not sufficiently acquainted to give an interesting account, more than that it is celebrated as the landing place of the first voyagers and transports) is an extensive sheet of water varying from 7 to 9 miles in width but as a Harbour it neither affords sufficient shelter from the wind or secure anchorage ground It abounds wh. shoals, and shallow waters within the Headland and consequently in rough weather, the swell upon it is tremendous Its Headlands altho formed of Bluff rocks, are low & insignificant in appearance compared wh those of Port Jackson A Sandy Beach between 7 & 8 miles in length extends along the North side of it in a Westerly direction It is the estuary of Georges river and several large Creeks all flow from the Southward -
from Page 54
about wh. belonged to nobody No one cd. ride or walk the Streets in safety. Horses ran away Children were bit, and women frightened to death by this intolerable nuisance But these Dog Days were put an end to by means of taxation, and every dog at liberty that was not regularly entered & paid for and ornamented wh. a collar having his Masters name as doomed to die This gave sport for some time to the Constables Dead dogs were going in all directions [corners of the streets] the orders were given for their removal, and it was not an uncommon sight to see a great Dog rushing thro the centre of the street pelted on all sides by the staffs of the Constable until he was brought to the ground - & killed Experience has already proved that the Vine can be cultivated wh. success in the Colony and there is no reason why NS Wales should not in time to come be as celebrated for the vintage as it is in the present day for its wool
In the Botanical Garden one of the walks is ornamented on each side wh. trellis works It supports a light roof There is a [indecipherable] and circular resting place wh. seats at either end The whole walk is shaded wh the broad & luxuriant leaf of the vine wh produces grapes in great abundance and perfection (In selecting ground for vines the nature of the soil must be considered wh if stony and inclinable to moisture, is by no means proper: in this case trenches shd. be opened where the cuttings are to be planted, wh. shd be filled wh. [indecipherable] & rubbish, in order to drain off the moisture, and then the border shd by raised wh fresh light earth about two feet thick, so as to be at least one foot above the level of the ground ) In many parts of the Colony the Vine is being propogated, and the creditable attempts of several Gentlemen have met wh. the greatest encouragement At Regentville there are several acres of ground planted wh a variety of the Vine, wh. were under the management of a first rate Gardiner, wh. thoroughly understand the cultivation At Bathurst it has also
been cultivated wh. similar success and the dry soil in many parts of the Plains is particularly adapted for the growth of the Vine-
[This is the end of Govetts notes]
[Drawing] "Native Woman of Van Diemens Land
[Drawing Two men at the division of river numbers at top of drawing S.B. 55.V. 3
Department of Lands
30th August 1918
Dear Mr Wright
I find that the sketch I handed to you personally this morning was transmitted to The Surveyor General, Major Mitchell, by Wm Romaine Govett, Assistant Surveyor, under cover of letter dated 1st August 1838 addressed from Mr Duncombs Farm Wilberforce
Mr Govett writes:- "I have the honor to enclose a sketch of the appearance of the junction of Bowens Creek with the Colo river and also a small rough plan showing the junction &c &c I find it impracticable in consequence of the nature of the ground and the numerous gullies to lay in the Course of the river" &c &c
(signed) Wm. Rom. Govett
March 13th 1873
Revd Dr Lang
I do myself the honor and pleasure of addressing to you a
few lines upon a subject in which I am much interested and deeply concerned.
It appears that a series of letters appeared in a legendary form in the Sydney Mail of 1871 giving a description of Govetts Leap on the Blue Mountains wherein Govett was described as a Felon, convict & a lag. subsequently a large view came out in the Illustrated Sydney News with a description of Govett having committed suicide & threw himself down a gorge.
To each of these papers I immediately replied denying the facts & from the Editors I had ample apology. The facts are these,
Being a nephew of the late lamented Mr Govett who was sent out from England 1831-5 to serve as a Surveyor on the Staff of Sir Thomas Mitchell and was employed chiefly surveying on the old Bathurst road & whilst surveying came upon the "Leap" and after performing some hazardous attempt of carrying the chain across one of these fathomless gorges, Sir Thos Mitchell was so much pleased with him that he at once named it "Govetts Leap " & placed it on the map in his name and since which it has been honoured by numerous visitors & artists.
My Uncle returned to England about 1840 and died at Brighton several years afterwards of aneurism of the heart.
You may consider, Sir, how much annoyed by the publication of such facts in the Colonial Press & more especially so, his widow, now nearly 90 years of age. That I feel compelled on behalf of the widow & the familys sake that I should publish the history and facts in a colonial work & so remove such disgraceful names & history attached to that now celebrated & notorious locality.
I at once put myself in communication with the Editor of the Illustrated Sydney News Mr F. S. Wilson who has kindly undertaken to assist me in publishing this work.
And now I kindly ask you, & should esteem it a special favour if you would permit Mr Wilson to make use of any works of that date say from 1831 40 that you could suggest would be of reference & of value to him to be found in your library. My Aunt wrote & told me that my Uncle published in the [indecipherable] or Saturday Magazine a series of letters (illustrated) on Australia I think about the year 1839.which if you should possess would greatly assist and also, she states, a work written by a Colonel Hamblyn or Hamlin would shew the further history of the late Mr Govett. He was consid[indecipherable] one of the cleverest Surveyors that came out from England to serve on the staff. I hope that in thus soliciting your kindness and assistance I am not trespassing upon your time too much.
I am Revd Sir
John Govett Smith
Government Medical Officer Clarence District
Sydney, 28th March, 1873
I have to apologize for not replying to your letter of the 13th instant sooner.
I cordially sympathize with you in your anxiety to clear from reproach the memory of your late relative, Mr Govett; but I am sorry to say I know of no work that would throw any light upon the subject, & I certainly have none in my library. I think, however, I know how the idea has arisen, my first visit to the Western Interior was made in May 1820, & the second in 1834. On the first of these visits I heard of a bushranger who had been long in that condition had given much trouble to the Police, who had repeatedly tracked him to a particular gorge in the Mountains where all further trace of him was lost, as it was supposed that no man or horse could leap the gorge. It so happened, however, that the bushranger had a remarkable horse which he had taught to leap that very gorge, his hiding place or den being somewhere beyond it. But he was taken at last, & justice had it done.
Now it appears to me that the feat of the bushranger has been mixed up unintentionally with Mr Govetts discovery of what Sir T. Mitchell named his leap, although in all likelihood the locality was very different
I am sorry I have no works [indecipherable]that would throw any light upon the subject, as it is not one that would be likely to come before the public prominently, - & to hunt for some paragraphs respecting it in the newspapers of the past would be a hopeless task
I would merely recommend you to state the real fact in some respectable publication in the colony, as you have done to me.
I am Dear Sir,
Yours very sincerely,
John Dunmore Lang.
John Govett Smith Esq
Printed death notice of John Dunmore Lang
"The Clarence and Richmond Examiner" Saty 27 Augt. 1887
Printed Article "How the First Road over the Blue Mountains was made"
- not transcribed
Extracts from colonial & other papers Collected by Dr. S. Govett Smith
Teggs Pocket Almanack 1842, P 241 Road Itinery, understood to have been written by Sir Thos L Mitchell, Surveyor General.
P 314 "Blackheath; where there is an inn, A mile or two to the north east is another fine cataract, discovered by Assistant Surveyor Govett
[Coloured drawings houses and bush]
[Drawings Young men in uniform; head and shoulders (pencil)
Bullock cart (ink)]
Drawings Riders signed DArcy (wsh) (wc)
Gorge and river in pencil "Junction of the Teralga and Guineacor Creek" (wc)
View of coastal area 1829 (wc)
[Drawings Galileo and Newton (ink and wash)]
[Inner Back cover of book D.S. Mitchell signed]
[Transcribed by Robin Matthews for the State Library of New South Wales]