HOME

Mr. Joseph Bradshaw, M.R.G.S.A., read a Paper, entitled, "Notes on a Recent Trip to Prince Regent's River, Kimberley District, Western Australia," as follows :-

Notes on a Recent Trip to Prince Regent's River.
BY JOSEPH BRADSHAW, M.R.G.S.A.
Read at the 21st Ordinary General Meeting, 10th September, 1891.

BRIEFLY HISTORICAL.

Early in the present century there was a current opinion that the vast, and at that time unknown, interior of the Australian continent was drained by a great river system having its exit to the ocean somewhere among the deep indentures of the north-west Australian coast. In order to determine the correctness of this opinion, Captain Sir Phillip King was instructed by the Admiralty to make an investigation of the coast line in those latitudes. Accordingly on 10th October, 1820, he entered St. George's Basin in the cutter Mermaid. Sailing inland for 25 miles he found that the hilly shores of this basin, or estuary, gradually approached each other, till they formed the banks of a tidal river, about three miles wide, and giving a depth of from eight to fourteen fathoms at low water.

Captain King was obliged to return to Sydney, but in July of the following year he returned in the brig Bathurst, and sailed up the river for a distance of 50 miles. After filling his beakers with fresh water, which was everywhere abundant, he retraced his steps and abandoned the exploration of the locality. He named this great stream the Prince Regent River. After this the place remained unvisited for 17 years, until in 1837 Lieutenant (now Sir George) Grey landed on the shores of Hanover Bay, and spent several succeeding days in exploring-the mouth of the river. From that time until the present there is no record of any person having penetrated the sources of this immense waterway, and the country where it rises being invested on the west and south by the impassable bastions of the Leopold Ranges has remained almost a terra incognita.

STARTING OF THE EXPEDITION.

In order to satisfy myself as to the capabilities of this territory for pastoral settlement, I determined to make a personal inspection of it. With this object I landed at Wyndham, Cambridge Gulf, on the 9th March last. Two days previous to my arrival, the little settlement had been visited by a severe willi-willi, as the tornado is called on that coast, and was nearly levelled to the ground. You must remember that the buildings in most new settlements in the far north consist of a scanty frame of wood, to which the roofs, partitions, and walls of corrugated iron are attached ; and it is easy to conceive how the fierce blast of a hurricane would scatter such a structure to the four winds. The Inn at which I and my party had intended to take up our quarters was entirely wrecked. Several sheets of its corrugated iron walls were strewn for hundreds of yards up the mountain side, crumpled up like pieces of tinfoil. It is but just to state that such gales as this are very rare, and such a severe one had not been previously known. We lodged as best we could that night, and next day went into camp at the nearest water-six miles from Wyndham. The principal articles of camp equipment I brought with me from Melbourne, so there only remained to procure horses and a few additional pro visions, and commence our journey. This occupied four or five days. There is no competition and no Kirk's Bazaar at Cambridge Gulf, so that the man who comes to you with a raw-backed, girth-galled old screw, worth £5, and calmly asks £20 for him, generally has it all his own way. These preliminary difficulties having been overcome, we were able to commence our trip within a day or two after landing. I had four white men and two Palmerston blacks, from the Larigea tribe, who proved as useful and reliable as any European. My brother, Mr. Frederick Bradshaw, an expert bushman, was also one of the party. I had rationed the expedition for an eight weeks' trip, but this afterwards proved to be insufficient. On 15th March we crossed the King River, just above the limit of tidal water, and travelled for two days round the base of Mount Coburn. Viewed from a western aspect, this huge mass of sandstone mountain presented a magnificent spectacle, while the numerous facades of its perpendicular bastions were illuminated by the last rays of sunset, contrasting vividly with the dark vertical fissures that divided the rock from top to bottom at intervals. Crossing the Pentecost River we saw numbers of wild black-fellows, but such was their fear of white men that they frantically swam across a large billabong to escape us. They probably thought we were a marauding police party. A few days afterwards we reached Forrest River, a splendid stream of clear fresh water, about 100 yards wide, and in depth being nearly swimmable to ordinary sized horses. Before crossing we had to adjust our packs, taking the sling loads off and packing them as top hamper, otherwise they would have suffered from immersion in the eddying surface of the waters. The Forrest and Drysdale Rivers are both, fine permanent streams, but run through poor, unprofitable country, Forrest, Stockdale, Woodhouse, Button and others explored this part of the Kimberley a few years ago, and named these rivers. After this a Victorian squatting syndicate attempted to settle the country, but not with successful results, owing to bad management and limited capital. We saw the location of their depot and the ash heaps of their stockades and huts. Quantities of luscious water-melons were growing here. A superstitious fear must have prevented the blacks from taking them. We captured a wild horse here that had once belonged to the Pioneer Company, and as he was in fine working condition, he was a desirable acquisition to our working stock. From the crossing of the Drysdale River we headed west-wards for several days through open, level, fairly-grassed, forest country, timbered principally with box, bloodwood and cypress pine, with occasional patches of bauhinia and a species of beefwood. Several miles to the north of us there appeared to be an extensive stony table-land, rising about 200 feet above the surrounding country. At this part of our journey we were on one occasion rather pressed for want of water. We had travelled during the whole of a very hot day without encountering any. Our Larigea blackboys riding in various directions failed to find any, and it was not till late at night that we found a small pool of water by following a slight depression for some miles. Kangaroos, emus, and wild turkeys were frequently seen along this portion of our route. Extensive areas of black oat grass just about here made travelling very difficult. The stalks of this grass are often 10 ft. to 12 ft. in height, and during the month of March are festooned at the top with wreaths of sharp-pointed, spear-shaped seeds, which, with aggravating precision, fall point downwards and stick into the unfortunate man or horse that disturbs their parent stem, but on getting out of the forest and pindan country we left all vestiges of this disagreeable grass behind us.

LAST RESTING-PLACES & A PECULIAR FISH.

About noon on 31st March we struck a fine stream of sweet, clear water, about 30ft. wide, its banks densely fringed with palm trees. Its course trended to north-west, and though it was traversed for a considerable distance with a prismatic compass we could not ascertain whether it was a tributary of the Roe River or the Prince Regent. At a place on this creek where we camped great masses of sandstone rock were scattered through the forest for several miles, assuming all manner of fantastic shapes. In many of these rocks natural cavities occurred, which the natives had made use of as a resting place for remains of their dead. In most places the bones were placed compactly together, with a few large flat stones laid on the top of them, evidently to prevent the dingoes from scattering them. From the number of these natural mausoleums that were observed, the stream was named Sepulchre Creek. It contained a small grey fish like trevalla, of a species none of us had seen before, and which, though in fine condition and very palatable, all contained an internal parasite, which was not observed in the fish of any other waters that we angled in.

THROUGH ROUGH &. RICH COUNTRY.

Two days later we had our progress westwards barred by a low, but very abrupt range of porphyritic rocks. Riding northwards along the face of this range for several miles, Mr. Fred. Bradshaw noticed a gap between the rocks. He rode into this, and found it to be the entrance of a passage which led downwards amongst the walls and boulders of rock for about half a mile on to a fine tract of level fertile country below. Passing our caravan through this narrow gorge without much difficulty, we were glad to find that the light sandy soil over which we had been journeying for some days now gave place to rich heavy dark loam, thickly covered with nutritious grasses. During the remainder of this and the following three days we passed through similar country, A large creek then appeared on our left. As I had now altered our general course from west to north-west, we followed this creek until it entered the precipitous chasms of a deep canon that was riven sinuously through a rugged sandstone range, into which the waters surged with a deafening roar over a series of cataracts. Our further progress was obstructed on all sides by rocky ranges, over which it took us four days to find a route passable for pack-horses, although I bad foot parties out in all directions in search for a track; and it was only by the application of much hard manual labor with axe and handspike, under a burning sun, that we were eventually able to make a foothold for our horses along some of the steeper sections of our route. We had as yet seen no snakes of any kind, but as we emerged from these ranges along the banks of a broad sandy creek, we saw, crossing an extensive sand bed, the trail of what was evidently a very large representative of the constrictor species. Pinadhy, one of our Palmerston blacks, who saw the trail, was surprised at the size of it, and remarked that it was "too much big fellow gworior," meaning that it was too large an impression to have been made by a gworior, their name for the largest snake species of Arnheim's Land. After this we presently reached a river running north-westerly. This we afterwards found to be one of the principal tributaries of the Prince Regent, its junction with the main stream being noted by Captain King near the terminus of the tidal water. The land on both sides of this stream appeared to be very rich, but was thickly strewn with small basaltic boulders, and so densely covered with heavy grasses as to completely hide both soil and stones from view, making it very difficult for horse or man to set his foot evenly on the ground, and causing much stumbling and many loosened horseshoes. The river contained a fine volume of fresh water, running in a broad shallow bed, with a firm bottom of sand and basalt boulders. Papyras trees and groups of palms occupied little mounds of soil that just showed above the water, giving the whole scene a very picturesque appearance.

A CURIOUS SPOT AND A VAST PANORAMA.

The camp having been pitched early in the afternoon, Mr. Allen and I took fresh horses and rode for several miles to the south-west. We saw a large pool of water at the bottom of a beautiful valley, contiguous to which was a large and nearly horizontal slab of sandstone rock, probably 900 square yards in extent. In the centre of this the aborigines had formed a circle of large stones 12ft. in diameter. At the centre of this circle was an oblong stone structure, about 5 ft. long and 3 ft. wide, and nearly 2 ft. high, which from the burnt appearance of the stones and quantity of ashes and cinders in the vicinity, was evidently used from time to time as an oven, or perhaps an altar. Passing this curious spot, we rode for about a mile further up a very steep incline, and, finding the rise of the country becoming too precipitous for horse travelling, we secured our nags under a group of box-trees, and proceeded to ascend the mountain in front of us on foot. Half an hour's climbing brought us to the summit, where we were rewarded by a splendid view of the surrounding country. The aneroid showed this mount to be 1,550 ft. above sea-level. On every side of us huge boulders of black volcanic stone rose up through the deep, dense coverings of succulent green grass which clothed the mountain from base to apex. Miles away from us in various directions we could trace out the courses of creeks and lagoons, by the masses of papyras and palm trees that fringed their banks ; while further still to the west and north the prospect was bounded by terraces of rugged mountains, furrowed by numerous gaps and valleys. The principal timber on the mountain where we stood, and apparently on the surrounding hills, was a rather small species of eucalyptus, which, or want of another appellation our party generally called the" grey box." The "feather tree " also appeared in considerable numbers, and many small species of acacia, and a stunted palm with fan-shaped leaves, which seemed to grow only on the higher altitudes. We were so interested in the varied beauties of the vast panorama spread around us, that we did not for some time notice the sun was getting near to the horizon ; an observation from my companion to the effect that we had but little more than half an hour of daylight, made us hurriedly return to our horses and steer for the camp. It was considerably after dark when we sighted our own fires, and felt ourselves within the safety of the camp, where we sat down with vigorous appetites to devour a feast of bream that had in the meantime been caught in some of the pools of the river. These fish, were very numerous, and some of them were estimated to weigh 8 lb.

A DEEP RIVER AND A THUNDERING CREEK.

The following day we travelled along the western bank of the river in a northerly direction for about 15 miles, until the channel cut into an impassable barrier of sandstone rock, which lay at right angles to the course of the river, and extended for several miles both to the east and west. Before entering into this Barrier the river becomes very wide at various places. One of its reaches, beside which we subsequently pitched our depot camp, was about 50 chains long, three chains wide, apparently of great depth, and containing clear fresh water, which to the eye seemed to be still and motionless, but an inspection of the rocky bars which crossed the river bed at irregular intervals showed a rapid current. It was computed that over 11,000,000 gallons per hour flowed past a given point in the stream. Turning away from the river, we travelled along the base of the before-mentioned sandstone barrier for four miles, till we came to a large creek which poured its waters into a great chasm, cutting right through the barrier. The cataract thus formed by the creek on entering the chasm was carefully measured by Mr. Allen, and showed a perpendicular depth of 95 feet. A strong current flowed in the creek, and the noise it made in leaping from the cliffs into the troubled cauldron, nearly a hundred feet below, was something deafening. These falls forcibly remind me of nearly similar ones described by Captain King about 40 miles north-west of where we were.

A HANDSOME TREE.

A very handsome tree, with leaves resembling a large mulberry leaf, and containing a heavy foliage, was observed growing here in considerable numbers. Our Palmerston blacks called it "Lilirimirl," but said it was now almost extinct in their territory. I had never seen it growing on the Fitzroy or Meda Rivers of West Kimberly, or anywhere in the, neighbour-hood of Cambridge Gulf in East Kimberley. The wood is a bright orange colour and was easily worked.

A REMARKABLE WALL.

Nearly half the following day was wasted in getting our train across the sandstone range, although it was not more than half a mile wide at its greatest breadth. A little valley issuing out of the range on the lower side had its outlet obstructed by an artificial stone wall, that had evidently been in existence for many years, as large trees had grown round it. It was about two chains long, reaching from one bank of the valley to the other, and originally had been between 4 ft. and 5 ft. high. Some of its lower stones would weigh fully a hundredweight. I could form no conjecture as to what purpose it had been intended for. It was not nearly high enough to be of service as a kangaroo or wallaby battue, as those animals would readily vault over it.

ANT ARCHITECTURE.

Amongst the various sizes, locations and styles of architecture which I have observed in the white ant nests in different parts of tropical Australia, none excited my interest so much as one I observed near this spot. It was a perpendicular column 3 ft. in diameter at its base, and slightly tapering to a height of 9 ft., when it rounded off in a cupola-shaped apex ; but what excited my curiosity most was the fact of its being erected on a fiat, level surface of solid rock, the nearest edge of loose earth and soil being at least 12 yards away, so that the labor evolved by these delicate little nocturnal insects in the construction of their habitation must have been something extraordinary, unless there were an aperture through the solid rock into a stratum, of earth below, which is very improbable.
An observation at noon to-day gave our latitude approximately at 15 deg. 50 min., and by dead reckoning and triangulation we estimated our longitude at 125 deg. 40 min.

DIFFICULT COUNTRY.

For several days after this we made very little direct progress, as much time was occupied in following the bends of the river, and in making zigzag passages over the numerous mountains that we encountered. The porphyry and sandstone ranges seem to run as a general rule from north-west to southeast ; and among them, in the most bewildering confusion, were interspersed hills, outcrops and ranges of black-looking basalt ; as we advanced northwards this latter became the prevailing formation for many miles. Owing to the presence of numerous loose surface .stones, travelling became very tedious and severe on the horses. Each evening after pitching the camp some of them had to be attended to, and fresh nails, or very often new shoes had to be put on them. It was not an unusual thing for the party to travel for nearly a whole day along a valley only to find it terminating in a cul de sac, from which there was no egress save by retracing their journey to the outlet of the valley by which they entered; and often we were glad to deviate from, our direct line of march and escape the difficulties of rangy country by following the circuitous course of the river, which very frequently passed through large extents of alluvial flats. But at a point about five miles above its junction with the main Prince Regent Stream it cuts directly through a range of fine-grained granite. The walls of the gorge thus formed by the passage of the river rise to a height of about 400 ft. above the stream, and are quite perpendicular. The gorge itself is nearly a mile long from one side of the range to the other. Dense masses of tropical foliage overhang the crest of the cliffs, while between the dark, deep-looking waters of the river and the base of the cliffs a fringe of aquatic trees and shrubs manages to exist on a narrow ledge of earth. I sent Mr. Allen with two men to make a close inspection of this wild-looking locality. They reported that it was impossible to take horses through the gorge, or across the range through which the gorge penetrated. Numbers of natives were seen in. the distance, both among the rocks and at intervals along the river. On this account the locality was known in the camp as Nigger Gorge. The natives appeared to carry on extensive fishing operations at each rapid, where the shallowness of the water enabled them to spear the passing fish. From the number of shells strewn about the deserted camps I inferred that turtle was a favorite and plentiful article of diet with them. It was impossible to get near to the blacks, and, indeed, very hard to get a view of them, although later on we held a brief parley with another tribe higher up the river, but for the present our acquaintance was confined to seeing them in the distance clamber over the rocks like spiders, and after peeping curiously at us for a moment, disappear in the stony recesses or ambushes of scrub which abounded in the rangy country.

SURROUNDED BY BLACKS.

I had given strict orders that, except in cases of emergency, no shot was to be fired at natives without my permission or instructions. Fortunately no such emergency occurred during the whole of our journey, unless, perhaps one night when we were camped near Nigger Gorge, when the man on the last morning watch roused me to look at a dark object that had approached in a crawling position to within 50 yards of the camp. The sentry also said he had heard the long rank grass at the back of the camp rattling on two or three occasions daring the watch. The discharge of a rifle caused the intruding object to disappear as if by magic, and an inspection of the ground round the camp in the morning proved that a considerable number of blackfellows had left their tracks there, but whether their object was curiosity or hostility it was hard to determine. Our horses often fed to a long distance from the camp, and were so well supplied with bells that their whereabouts could be determined a long way off at any time of the night or day; yet they were never disturbed or interfered with by natives.

One afternoon our caravan was moving in single file across a plain, where the tall grass allowed only the bodies and heads of the men and the backs of the horses to be seen from any distance, when one of our blacks rode forward to call my attention to a number of black objects that were perched like crows on the tree tops, about half a mile away at the edge of the plain, and in such curious and precarious positions that it took the eye some time to realise that they were really human beings. About four miles from there we went into camp beside a large lagoon, and about two to three hundred yards from the base of an abrupt and rocky granite range; the blacks followed our tracks, and presently appeared to the number of 34 among the rocks and bushes on the face of the range, and saluted us with cries and gestures. A man fired some shots into the air to frighten them, but instead of imbuing them with a sense of fear, it seemed to excite their wonder and amusement, as they greeted the discharges with a burst of laughter and an energetic clatter of conversation; it was plain that they had never been in hostile contact with white men, or they would have fled in terror at the dread report of a rifle. As sunset approached I went near to them, and by signs and gestures indicated that at sunrise to-morrow we would journey south-wards, and that as it was near sunset at present they should go away to their camp. They understood me with remarkable alacrity, and disappeared in the direction of their camp at once, except five, who retired a little distance up the range, and lighting a fire kept watch over us during the night. At 8 o'clock next morning, while all hands were busy adjusting the packs and loading the horses, the blacks that had retreated to their camp the evening before now returned, bringing with them reinforcements, till there must have been about 60 dusky forms scattered along the face of the range, watching us intently and chattering excitedly as some object or incident of our camp caught their attention more conspicuously. The striking of our large general tent-it being loosed from its moorings and folded into a small parcel in a few moments was the object of special merriment and exclamation among them. They were all armed with spears and nullis ; some had what appeared to be a rude kind of bow and arrows, but none had boomerangs. Most of them were grotesquely painted with stripes of red and white, alternating with the black stripes of their natural hue. Two or three of them had imposing head-gears, made, I imagine, of the pliable bark of the papyrus tree. We noticed one man in particular who had two huge appendages extending upwards and obliquely outwards from the top of his head, about 3 ft. long ; but whether they were made from the wings of a large bird, or were pieces of bark we could not ascertain, as he kept in the background far up the range. A few of the men were snow white, from age, on the head, but had their beards smeared red with ochre. Others graduated in proportional numbers down to youths in their teens. I think all of them were more or less tatooed on their chests and arms. There were no women among them. When the packing was finished and we were ready to move off, I took two men and rode up to where the more advanced parties of niggers were stationed, but they would not admit a nearer approach than 30 yards, always receding if we came closer than that, and keeping up an incessant chatter all the while. They indicated themselves by the word "Woolyammi," and the locality where we were, the creek and the direction of their camp by the name " Marigui". The latter word may have a common origin with " marega," which, according to Dampier and King, was the name applied to the coast opposite this region by the Malayan cruisers for more than 200 years past.

As we were unable to make further friendly advances to our dusky neighbours, Mr. Fred. Bradshaw brought some damper, sugar, and other eatables from the pack train and offered them to the two old warriors who occupied the foreground, but they would not come near enough, so we placed the viands on the trunk of a fallen tree and retired to resume our journey. Looking back we saw the natives clustered round the spot -eagerly dividing and devouring them.

WATERFALL &. SINGULAR CAVE DRAWINGS.

After leaving Nigger Gorge, in latitude 15.40deg. south and longitude 125.36deg. east, we struck the main Prince Regent in about five miles. At this point it is a fine stream about three chains wide, and seemed to be very deep at most places. The water was quite fresh, but there were appearances of its having been periodically backed up above its ordinary level by the salt water at high tides, and mangroves grew in small patches along the banks. About a day's journey above the junction of salt and fresh water we came to a cascade where the whole volume of the river passes over a perpendicular ledge of rock about 21 ft. in height from the surface of the water below. On a calm night the roar of these falls was audible eight miles away. We followed the course of this river upwards for five days, and found that it emerged in an immense volume from a gorge in some inaccessible ranges, which we penetrated for several miles on foot without finding any change in the character of the country. We saw numerous caves and recesses in the rocks, the walls of which were adorned with native paintings, colored in red, black, brown, yellow, white and a pale blue. Some of the human figures were life-size, the bodies and limbs very attenuated, and represented as having numerous tassel-shaped adornments appended to the hair, neck, waist, arms, and legs ; but the most remarkable fact in connection with these drawings is that wherever a profile face is shown the features are of a most pronounced aquiline type, quite different from those of any natives we encountered. Indeed, looking at some of the groups, one might almost think himself viewing the painted walls of an ancient Egyptian temple. These sketches seemed to be of great age, but over the surface of some of them were drawn in fresher colors smaller and more recent scenes, and rude forms of animals, such as the kangaroo, wallaby, porcupine, crocodile, &c. In one or two places we noticed alphabetical characters, somewhat similar to those seen by Sir George Grey in nearly the same latitude, but many miles westwards, on the Glenelg River. The next morning I visited one of these groups of caves and made a few rough sketches of the drawings.

GEOLOGICAL FORMATION.

A curious feature of the Prince Regent River is that for more than 50 miles of its course it forms the line of demarcation between two distinct kinds of bed rock. On the eastern side the formation is basaltic, while that on the west is sandstone. The former country is for the most part well grassed und lightly timbered, but the latter produces little more than spinifex and black oat grass. We made several attempts to penetrate the country west of the river, but seldom advanced more than three or four miles without having our course obstructed by forbidding barriers of the prevailing stone. Under such circumstances we usually camped the horses, and sent foot parties forward to make further observations. Travelling on foot among the jagged stones and prickly spinifex is not by any means a pleasant occupation, and the parties thus sent out generally returned to the rendezvous tired and footsore and without finding the country westwards towards the Glenelg change for the better. As this result was not very encouraging, we returned to the dep6t camp previously mentioned, and from there I detached small parties to make rapid expeditions in the direction of St. George's Basin to the nor'-west, and to the Roe River to the nor'-east. By starting off at daylight, and wasting little time in minute examinations, these parties always managed to regain the camp before nightfall; but on one occasion night overtook myself and, my brother, when we were about 10 miles from the depot. However, after riding for two hours over very rough ground we heard the horse-bells in the distance, and, thus guided, were able to reach home in safety.

VARIETIES OF TIMBER TREES.

The land between the Prince Regent and Roe Rivers was found to be chiefly basaltic country, forming extensive tablelands, separated from each other by stony valleys that in nearly every case had large creeks of running water winding along them, and emptying into the Prince Regent. The timber is principally box, white gum, bauhinea, and lancewood, with small patches of a tree very like the beefwood of Queensland. The boat tree also appears frequently in the lower grounds. A great number of the trees in this tract of country bear the marks of stone axes-some recently done, others at more remote dates, and all indicating the perseverance of the aborigine, when, with the rude instruments of a savage state, he will chop large cavities into the hard, tropical woods in search of wild honey, iguanos, opossums or other food. Along the streams scarcely a papyrus tree has been exempted from, yielding up many square feet of its peculiar bark to satisfy the niggers' demand for mats, roofs and blankets ; for the bark in question serves the blackfellow for all three, as well as for a light kind of basket that is sometimes made out of it. At nearly every large pool of water in this part of the Kimberley district the sheets and patches of rotting papyrus bark, and the scattered ash-heaps, marked the scene of a deserted nigger camp.

GRAZING CAPABILITIES.

On 22nd April I had satisfied myself as to the adaptability of this portion of the Prince Regent country for pastoral purposes, so I gave instructions to break up our depot camp on the Eastern Regent, and commence our return journey to Cambridge Gulf. It was just as well that we did not delay our return any longer, for our supply of provisions was fast becoming exhausted, and for the last ten days of our homeward march the party was put on half rations. Some of the beef we had brought with us became unfit for use, but in lieu thereof we replenished our packs on every opportunity with wild turkey, kangaroo, iguana and fish ; so that our period of half rations was anything but starvation diet.

On the 12th of May we reached the Palm Springs, about 21 miles from Wyndham, where the gardens and hospitable hut of an enterprising Chinaman mark the outpost of civilisation in that direction.

Though the members of the party were glad to be again in communication with the greater world, I think all viewed the breaking up of the camp with regret. We had enjoyed excellent health throughout the whole trip. No ill effects were felt from the heat, although some of our road-making work and some of our mountain-climbing tours were undertaken during the hottest part of the day. Referring to the insect plague, which is usually supposed to be severe in the tropical latitudes, I may say that except in one or two instances on which we were camped near swampy ground, we were not troubled by the mosquitos or sandflies. We saw no centipedes or venomous spiders, but the grass fly, which is similar to the common house fly in Melbourne, made itself particularly obnoxious in persistently exploring one's eyes, ears, nostrils, or indeed any part of the skin that might be exposed. The only remedy by which to obtain immunity from its incessant attacks is to wear an enveloping veil round the head and face. No snakes were seen during the whole of our trip. Most of the large fresh-water pools contained crocodiles; the largest seen was estimated to he about 8ft. long They were not considered to be extremely dangerous. Both blackfellows and white men freely bathed in water-holes that we knew to be infested with them. At the junction of salt and fresh water in most of the rivers numbers of alligators were seen, some of them very formidable-looking monsters. Dingoes did not appear to be plentiful. I encountered only one by daylight in the whole course of our trip ; but he was a very large one, being fully equal in size to an ordinary St. Bernard dog. Tracks of smaller ones were seen occasionally in the sand. Two emus were seen about 20 miles east of the depot camp, and tracks of others were noticed in several places. The patches of basaltic land that we visited were thickly infested with kangaroos and wallabies, all in splendid condition, and some of the former very large. Wherever numbers, dimensions, distances, etc., have been mentioned in this paper, I have always used the average or minimum of several independent estimates. It was freely reported in the camp on the 28th April that fully 300 blacks were seen at various places along Nigger Gorge. Mr. Frederick Bradshaw considered this was an excessive estimate, but admitted that there were indications of their being numerous ; but it was impossible to count them at a distance and in successive groups' along a day's journey.

After the paper-The President (Baron Sir F. Von Mueller) said that the time was fast passing away when extensive romantic expeditions could be made, such as those undertaken by Eyre, Sturt, Warburton, the Gregorys, and Leichhardt (in which he had taken part) or like that recently sent out by Sir Thomas Elder, under the auspices of this Society, because the blank spaces on the map of Australia were one after another being filled up. But there would still be ample scope for the exploring enterprise of pioneers of colonization like the gentleman whose paper had afforded them much interesting and fresh information upon a, specially important part of this continent. Mr. Bradshaw had found several new species of plants during his expedition to Prince Regent's River, and these he (the President) had classified and named.

Mr. A. C. Macdonald (Hon. Secretary) said that as the paper on the "The Future of North Australia" was one that would be sure to evoke considerable discussion, and, moreover, was a paper dealing with a question urgently pressing for a practical solution, he would move-"That Mr. Bradshaw's second paper be read at a meeting of the Society to be held on Friday the 19th instant, and that, on the conclusion of the reading of Mr. Nicholson's paper, this meeting stand adjourned to the date named." Mr. Bradshaw had kindly consented to this arrangement. Mr. A. O. Sachse, C.E., F.R.G.S., seconded the motion, which was put and carried.

REDUCED FROM LIFE-SIZE DRAWINGS DISCOVERED IN CAVE
UPPER PRINCE REGENT’S RIVER, KIMBERLEY, W.A.