Joseph HAWDON 1813-1817
1839 Newspaper Report of his 1839 Overland Expedition with Lt. Alfred MUNDY
Melbourne, Port Phillip to Adelaide, South Australia

"The Sydney Herald" Wednesday, 7th August 1839.
PORT PHILLIP--We have received Port Phillip papers to the 15th ult., from which we make the following extracts :--
(From the Port Phillip Patriot, July 15.)
Messrs. Hawdon and Mundy left this on Thurday morning for South Australia, in a carriage drawn by two horses, tandem fashion, carrying the first overland mail. They were loudly cheered by their friends upon their departure, and by a large assemblage of persons who witnessed their start. We wish them a safe and pleasant journey. If they find it practicable, a mail is to be established from hence to Adelaide.
(From the Port Phillip Gazette, July 10.)
A. Mundy and J. Hawdon, Esqrs., have announced their intention of starting overland for Adelaide, on Thursday, the 11th instant. These gentlemen intend to ride post the whole way, with a view of testing in how short a time the distance on horseback can be accomplished.
"The South Australian" Wednesday, 28th August 1839



Mr. HAWDON.
Our readers are aware that Mr. Hawdon and Lieutenant Munday effected a journey from Port Phillip to this place, in a tandem, in the short space of one month. Their journal, which we subjoin, will be read with much pleasure. It is one proof, added to those already in our possession, of the inexhaustable resources of Australia, and of the unnparralled facilities of communication enjoyed by the distant settlers of this vast and partially explored country.

Lieutenant Mundy, late of 21st regiment, aand I, left Melbourne at noon of Thursday 11th of July, and after a drive of thirty-two miles over the beautiful open grassy downs of Port Phillip, halted for the night near Mount Macedon. The route for nine miles continued to pass underneath the southern point of Macedon, through ranges, or as it is usually termed, the Black Forest, thickly covered with stringy bark and other timber of great size. At the termination of this forest, the country again opens into undulating downs ; the soil is of good agricultural quality, and the pasturage not to be surpassed for sheep grazing. This park-like scenery continues for twenty miles, when we crossed the Campasby rivulet, a small but valuable stream which flows into the river Hume, four miles below the junction of the rivers Goulburn and Hume. Having spent tbe greater part of a day with our friends Messrs. Ebden and Yaldwin, whose flocks occupy this district, we started from Mr. Yaldwin's, on the Campasby, at noon on the 14th. A few miles brought ns to the pass over the Colobin. Running through a deep ravine down high steep banks, Mr. Munday found it a difficult task to drive with any degree of safety. The country from here was of granite soil, affording good sheep posturage. Crossing over a rocky pass, called by Major Mitchell, Expedition pass, we encamped in a small grassy valley on the southern side of the range--the distance travelled during this afternoon, twenty miles. Unfortunately on this our first night it rained heavily, but we were fortunate in consoling ourselves with some most excellent cordial Mr. Yaldwin had put in our gig.

Monday 15.--Passed over some small timbered hills through which a branch of the Yarraine streamlet runs (when flowing,) the valleys well grassed. About five miles further, we again came upon open grassy downs, on which we saw a number of emus feeding. The soil, as we proceeded, was of rather an inferior quality. Travelling for about ten miles, we approached a deep and broad valley through which the course of a large creek or principal branch of the Yarraine winds. On some of the sheets of water, we observed musk ducks, with large heads, of an unusual size. After having dined, and changed the horses in harness, we proceeded down the valley for the distance of a mile, when, turning to the left, we went over some stony hills for four miles ; the remainder of the journey continued open downs, when we again descended into a deep valley and encamped by the edge of a large sheet of water, our day's journey being twenty-eight miles. Here we had some difficulty in procuring wood for our fire.

Tuesday 16.--We were considerably delayed by four of our horses galloping away, an evil which might have been serious to us, but fortunately two were dragging their tether ropes. After starting we passed for seven miles over an open country, when we came to a beautiful rich valley ; here we fed our horses and waited for John, whom we had sent back in search of a brace of pistols left at oar last encampment. In the sheet of water there were a great many wood ducks ; emus were also numerous, but having no greyhound, we could only look upon them as ornaments to the country around us. On John's unsuccessful return, we continued to pass over open downs, the soil not of first-rate quality, but the scenery a perfect panorama ; although adapted for sheep, it is by no means fit for extensive agricultural operations. In the evening, we came to a sheep station belonging to Mr. Bowerman, upon what I should consider to be also a branch of the Yarraine River. It rained in torrents all night, and continued to do so until noon ; we, therefore, remained all day at Mr. Allen's house under his unlimited hospitality. He shewed us a human skull that had been found near here, with two fractues behind, apparently done with a tomahawk. I felt perfectly confident the skull had been that of a white man. Mr. Allen intends carrying it to Melbourne, when some unfortunate man's fate may be discovered. The skull was of peculiarly intelligent formation. After Mr. Allen had most liberally replenished our stock of provisions, on Thursday the 18th we passed for seventeen miles through ranges covered with stringy-bark, these are called by Major Mitchell the Australian Pyrenees. A few miles to the west of us, they appeared much higher and more difficult to cross. The range was undulating and good driving road where we passed over ; kangaroos were seen here for the first time on the journey, and upon a sheet of water a few teal ducks. The remainder of our day's journey was through an open grassy gum-tree forest. After having travelled twenty-three miles, we halted for the night near a small hole of water ; here we observed the bones of a horse ; from its position, we concluded it must have been a blood mare belonging to Mr. Ebden, and killed by the notorious Diguum and his followers for provisions.

Friday 19th.--After a late breakfast we started, leaving the Pyrenees behind us. From this side they appear formidable range of mountains. We now crossed the plains for ten miles, the surface much broken with small holes, when we came apon a creek of good water. We crossed open downs of a similar description for eight miles. While at dinner, six emus ran past behind a hill to the westward, probably disturbed by a body of natives hunting. We then continued our journey through the same picturesque country for fifteen miles--the Grampion hills on our right. These mountains are of singular formation, the greater part of them terminating in conical tops, indicating volcanic formation. Although the country is at this season covered with beautiful grass, the soil is inferior to the Monaroo downs lying west of Twofold Bay ; but for fine panoramic scenery it is unequalled. About two hours after sunset by the light of the moon, we made the River Hopkins by the side of a large sheet of water, I think impregnated with alum. The night was boisterous ; we could find no wood for a fire, but we collected a sufficient quantity of reeds to enable us to boil a few quarts of water, and, such as it was, managed to make ourselves as comfortable as circumstances permitted.

Saturday 20.--We passed down the valley of tbe Hopkins to a belt of trees, where we breakfasted. Whilst examining a sheet of water to get at some wild ducks, we discovered a native skulking among the reeds. He seemed much alarmed either at us or our guns, and tried to get off. His tribe were no doubt watching us though not seen, but we had no time to attempt any commuuication. We travelled on fifteen miles, and encamped, the day being wet. Half this distance was over plains--the remainder a beautiful forest of she-oak the acacia fragrans. Our encampment was in a pietty sequestered nook surrounded by fine grass, which our horses enjoyed. Emus and turkeys were numerous over all the route. It rained heavily during the early part of the night, and the tent gave way ; Mr. Munday's bed was fairly drenched in consequence, but he bore the discomfort with the good humour of a bushman.

Sunday 21.--This morning it snowed heavily, and continued till noon, when the day cleared up. We continued our journey for twenty miles at the rate of eight miles on hour, through a beautiful open forest of she-oak. The land was here very good. After rounding the most southern point of the Grampion range, we passed for a few miles through a country of the same description, when, coming to the edge of an extensive plain, which promised no shelter for the night, we turned up two miles to the right and encamped in a green valley near a sheet of water, immediately under the singular mount before mount before mentioned. Emus, kangaroos, and black ducks were numerous, but having a good stock of fresh provisions, we did not think it necessary to kill animals which we could not use.

Monday 22.--Leaving the forest, we entered upon extensive plains somewhat marshy and heavily grassed. We now quitted the reedy creek we were upon, and took our course westward across excellent sheep downs. We again entered upon a forest lightly timberrd with she-oak, gum, and cherry-tree. This forest continued for seven-miles, when we came to a stream, the upper part of that called by Major Mitchell, the Wannon. Large broad and deep sheets of water, occasionally extending to a mile in length, were covered with ducks and swans, of which we took ín a supply of a brace of each. Following its course we encamped by a beautiful spot of ground after a journey of twenty-five miles. Nothing could be more pleasibg than this day's drive.

Tuesday 23.--At daybreak this morning we found a cow grazing quietly with our horses. On examination we found it to be one of my own which had strayed from a party proceeding to Adelaide a few months previous. We were told by our servant that he had heard the blacks chattering during the night ; and whilst at breakfast we heard them talking and shouting all around us, but we could not see any of them. After starting a few hundred yards, two women went screaming from a flat where they were pretending to collect roots, and immediately three men came forward with bundles of spears in their hands and green boughs wreathed round their bodies in token of a wish to communicate. They appeared very anxious for us to stop to speak, but we returned their salutations without halting. About a mile further we met the whole tribe who ran after us for awhile shouting, and as we supposed, entreating us to stop, but Mr. Munday drove at such a pace that we soon left the party far behind us. The remainder of our day's journey continued along the course of this river, varying from S. W. to S., for twenty-five miles through a most beautiful forest, the whole way covered with a thick carpeting of grass--the trees being alternately she-oak, acacia fragrans, gum tree, honeysuckle, and mimosa--the general features being similar to the Yarra, eight miles above Melbourne. In the evening we crossed to the right bank, where our encampment was enlivened by the songs of birds, which were here very numerous.

Wednesday 24.--The country to-day was for some distance of the same description. We crossed a few vallies leading into the Wannon, whose course now was seen winding through the middle of a deep green valley, bounded on either side by rich green flats the hills, covered with fine grass on the sides, descending very steeply to the flats. Gradually the country opened out to downs spotted with she-oak and acacia fragrans trees. About a mile before us on an eminence we were agreeably surprised to see a flock of sheep grazing. On driving up to the shepherd we learnt that they were Mr. Winter's, lately shipped from Van Diemen's Land to Portland Bay. He directed ns over the hill to where his huts were. Here we encamped and received every attention from the shepherd, Messrs. Winter being from home. Our day's stage was about twenty miles. About six miles above this station, the shepherds told us, the Grange of Major Mitchell flows into the Wannon on its left bank, near which place are two waterfalls, one of fifty and the other of one hundred feet. We were informed that the blacks had, some time previous, been very troublesome, one of the men showing us a wound in the back he had received from a spear. They had, however, seen none for some months past.

Thursday 25th.--Leaving theWannon to our right, we crossed a high ridge of downs and descended into another valley through which a small creek takes its course--the country for many miles covered with fine grass. The scenery was park-like, and, in fact, the country as beautiful and good as imagination could paint, or the most fastidious settler desire. An hour and a quarter's drive of nine miles brought us to the station of Mr. Henty, distant from Portland Bay about forty miles. We there met from Mr. John Henty ard his lady a most hospitable reception, and remained for the rest of the day inspecting Mr. Henty's flocks, which were in admirable condition, The Messrs. Henty have the merit of discovering and first settling this fine country, and, in my opinion have displayed singular judgment in their selection.

Friday 26.--We started at noon, sending on the tandem to near the junction of the Wannon with the River Glenelg, whilst Mr. Henty and ourselves went off to a small forest to hunt. We soon found and killed a kangaroo which gave us a chase of a mile and a half. Six more started and took across the downs, but the dogs unfortunately separated and were thrown out. We now rode to the spot where our tandem was waiting, and after parting with Mr. Henty, we crossed the Wannon, and ascending a ridge, descended into the valley of the Glenelg, which we also crossed, and encamped on some beautiful grassy flats on the right bank, distant from Mr. Henty's eleven miles. The channel of the Glenelg was much similar to that of the Darabin near Melbourne--the tea tree growing in the middle of it. At this season very little water was running. Having now proceeded down the Wannon from its source to its junction with the Glenelg, I can safely say that on either side, the whole distance of one hundred miles, is the most beautiful country and the richest land yet seen in Australia. Major Mitchell might well call such a country Australia Felix.

Saturday 27.--Along the banks of the Glenelg we had some shooting at swans and turkeys, when, passing for a mile up a well grassed alluvial flat, we ascended the highland which flanks the valley. From hence, keeping a W.N.W. course for five miles, passing through a grassy but thickly timbered forest in which emus and kangaroos were very numerous, we now entered a country of a very diffèrent character destitute of grass, and of a loose sandy nature, alternately covered with patches of stunted stringy bark and the grass tree. Distant about ten miles we came to a small hole of water, where were also some recently deserted huts of the natives. From the shells scattered about they appeared to have been feasting on the eggs of the emu. We proceeded, and for twenty miles passed over a country alternately between sandy tracts and rushy marshes without water at present on the surface. Passing over a high sandy ridge, we came upon a lake of fresh water abont nine miles square, about thirty miles W.N.W. from our crossing place at the junction of the Wannon with the Glenelg. This lake was subsequently named by Mr. Holloway, who had passed it some days previous conducting my stock party, Lake Mundy, after my friend and companion Lieut. Munday. On making the lake, we drove on the beach round the north end and found some excellent grass for our horses ; and here encamped, after having travelled 33 miles. When the moon rose, the lake was perfectly alive with water fowl of all descriptions--too wary however to allow us to approach. We now considered ourselves in the 141st degree of east longitude, and entering South Australia.
Sunday, 28.--We passed for three miles over a well grassed forest and entered into a sandy stunted stringy bark forest, through which we travelled for ten miles, passing afterwards through an open flat country generally of poor soil, though there were occasionally small patches well grassed. We now came to a small ridge of limestone, bordering an extensive moor. Here we fed our horses and lunched. Mr. Munday discovered some extensive caves, with many round apertures on the surface, of about nine yards in circumference, by which we descended and slightly explored them. They appeared to be very extensive ; but we did not penetrate above a hundred yards, having no lights to examine the interior. Our dog had some sport in killing bandicoots, which were numerous and appeared to be the only inhabitants. Again starting, we entered upon the moor. It was covered with heath and low bush, making the tandem a heavy drag for our horses. We continued for twelve miles, and an hour after dark encamped on some white sand near a clamp of bushes, where we tied up our horses, for the night. Having omitted to fill our water keg at the last watering-place, we were obliged to content ourselves with a few glasses of wine undiluted. Our day's stage was 33 miles.
Monday, 29.--We started at day-break, and after travelling three miles we entered a small forest of she-oak, where, in a bush of rushes, we found a native well about a foot broad and three feet deep. The water was excellent, and the spring was sufficiently strong to enable us to draw, during the day, about fifty gallons for our horses. In remembrance of our yesterday's sufferings from thirst, we here spilled a couple of bottles of brandy and filled them with water. We proceeded late in the afternoon through a well grassed forest of she-oak and honeysuckle for seven miles ; the limestone appearing now and then through the surface as usual. We encamped for the night on an extensive marsh of deep blacksoil, where we found a well dug by Mr. Holloway, whose track we were now upon.
Tuesday, 30.--This forest soon terminated, when we passed through sandy flats of the same character as those previously passed, bounded on the western side by a reedy marsh covered with good water, but so shallow as to permit us to continue our course straight through it. On the border of this lake the grass is very good for stock in transit. For several miles we crossed a heathy moor, when we again entered a beautiful well-grassed forest, lightly timbered with she-oak and honeysuckle, about four miles broad, which reminded as of the Wannon country. The soil was a black loam upon limestone--the rock obtruding in places. This portion is well adapted for agricul tural purposes, the geranium and wallen growing most luxuriantly in spots where a tree had been burnt. In this forest we found a well in the limestone rock, by which we encamped, the rich feed for onr horses tempting us to remain, having only accomplished 17 miles. From the signal fires at some distance we were satisfied that the natives were watching us, but they did not shew themselves.
Wednesday, 31.--Our course, which had hitherto been W.N.W., was altered to N.W. Immediately after starting we entered upon a marshy plain which continued for nine miles. There were a few very large trees on the plain. The soil so soft that we were obliged to lead our horses, and for the last two miles through water about half a foot in depth. We now entered a wretched sandy scrub of stunted eucalyptus bushes and grass trees, which continued for four miles, when again a small belt of she oak trees with good grass succeeded. After feeding our horses and leaving the forest we entered upon a marsh which extended as far as the eye could see in a north-east direction, but we crossed in about four miles, and passing through a small forest we descried at the distance of a mile the lake discovered by Mr. Bonney in March last, and named by him Lake Hawdon. On approaching the lake we fell upon Mr. Bonney's track and saw where he had dug one of his wells ; but at this season water was abundant in all directions ; kangaroo and emus were also abundant. We surprised three black women digging for roots, who ran screaming into the forest, where we heard the men answering their cries ; but they were evidently too much alarmed to hold any communication. From the lake the swamp extends to the north-east, and we attempted to cross it ; but after proceeding nearly three miles we were obliged to return, as our horses where plunging up to the middle, and skirt the southern edge towards a small forest, where we again encamped by a native well.

Thursday, August 1.--Continued our course this morning, passing alternately over thinly timbered forest of she-oak and sandy land, and marshes which we were frequently obliged to outflank. The remainder of our day's journey was over plains evidently at times under water ; and from the dams made by the natives it appears that they are in the habit of catching fish here in certain seasons. In the distance we saw two objects which we at first took to be emus ; but on a nearer approach found to be two men on horseback coming at a gallop towards us. We were glad to recognize Mr. Fletcher and one of my own men, in search of a horse that had strayed from the party under Mr. Holloway. We encamped for the night by a well of brackish water, after a stage of 20 miles.

Friday, 2.--We passed over a boggy country, aad entered into a narrow belt of she-oak forest, bordering the coast within 300 yards of the sea-shore. Here we found Mr. Holloway encamped with his party and stock, all well. We proceeded along the coast for fifty miles. The land immediately on the shore was high sand hills, bordered by a narrow grassy belt of she-oak forest ; then a plain about a mile wide ; and, to the eastward of the plain, a chain of lakes, as we afterwards ascertained, connected with Lake Alexandrina. Beyond the lakes was a country extending far as the eye could reach of sand hillocks. On riding along the sea beach we saw a number of dead black whales lying on shore, from which great quantities of whalebone could be collected. We also surprised a small tribe of natives encamped among the sand hills--the filthiest looking beings that can be imagined. They had no clothing, and both men and women had beards of no enviable length. They used for a drinking cup a human skull, the sutures of which were covered with pieces of shells cemented with gum, for the purpose of retaining water. They appeared to be sunk to the very lowest grade of human nature. The sand hillocks bounding the coast getting more precipitous, we crossed a narrow pass between two lakes, and proceeded up the eastern side, the country still being of a barren description. Towards the eastward I rode inland about ten miles, when I observed another chain of lakes extending to the south-east, parallel to those nearer the coast we had been skirting. I met with an old native, and, as we were both unarmed, we soon became friends. He told me that the waters of these lakes were salt. On my overtaking the party, we proceeded to the fresh water stream discovered by the men left by Mr. Bonney in his last expedition after he had gone forward to Lake Alexandrina. This stream rises from underneath a mass of limestone. The water is somewhat brackish ; the stream is sufficient to turn a mill ; but after running for half a mile it enters the lake. In this part of the lake, which is perfectly salt, we observed about half a foot of rise in the tide.

Tuesday, 6.--During the previous night we heard the swans returning from the eastward, and in the morning we perceived large flocks of crows coming from the same direction--indications of a fresh water lake existing at no great distance in that direction. This morning we left the party, and proceeded N.N.E. 25 miles over a perfectly sandy dessert, and encamped in the evening with no feed or water for the horses. The following day the country for the same dislance was precisely of the same character, when towards the evening we entered a forest of she-oak, bounding the main southern arm of Lake Alexandrina. Here we found splendid food for our horses, that had fasted for the last 48 hours. Next morning we proceeded four miles over a very pretty country bordering the lake, the rich alluvial flats extending from the lake for from half a mile to a mile, The waters of the lake were slightly brackish, but fit for use ; and excellent water was found at the well at which we halted. We remained on this beautiful spot, where the turkeys were very numerous, for this and the following day.

Thursday, Aug, 8--After crossing a belt of sandy country for a distance of twelve miles, which separates the north from the south arm of the lake, we struck the borders of the lake, here again surrounded with rich alluvial soil, destitute of timber, and fit for the plough. In the evening we encamped at the spot where the River Murray disembodies itself into the lake. A few hours after sunset we heard the cheering report of a musket at some distance up the river, which we answered, and a boat came down to our encampment from the place where we understood Mr Morphett had taken a special survey, The following morning we proceeded seven mies up the river to where the boat was stationed ; and through the kind assistance furnished by the boat party, we were enabled safely to get our horses and tandem across the Murray. A punt is in the course of being built here, and there will in future be no difficulty in stock crossing. The river is here 170 yards wide, fresh and very deep. On either bank the beds of reeds extend in width about the distance of a mile. The limestone rocks continue here, and it appears that the whole country from the Glenelg to this point of the Murray is one bed of limestone alternately covered with sand, swamp, and strips of alluvial deposit covered with grass and she-oak. In the whole distance, with the exception of the streamlet we have mentioned, there is not a single course ; although water could anywhere be found by sinking wells. I think it probable that, from the appearance of the country inland and mote to the eastward, fresh water lakes will be found.

Three days afterwards we reached Adelaide through the Mount Barker country, already too well known to require description ; having peformed a pleasant journey in perfect safety from Melbourne within a month. The only accident was a crack in one of the springs of the tandem, which was repairsd by a swapping, and did not delay our progress an hour.


Daryl Povey

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