CHAPTER 20. LATER EXPLORATION IN THE WEST.
[ Illustration. Carr-Boyd and Camel. Photographed at Laverton, Western Australia, October, 1906.]
20.1. CAMBRIDGE GULF AND THE KIMBERLEY DISTRICT.
The futile rush for gold to the Kimberley district had one good result - a better appreciation of its pastoral capabilities, and numerous short expeditions were made in search of grazing country.
Amongst these was one by W.J. O'Donnell and W. Carr-Boyd, who explored an area extending from the overland line in the direction of Roebourne, and were fortunate in finding good country. Later, in 1896, Carr-Boyd, accompanied by a companion named David Breardon, who was afterwards out with David Carnegie, visited the country about the Rawlinson Ranges and penetrated to Forrest's Alexander Spring. His name is also known in connection with exploration in the Northern Territory, and he has made several excursions between the Southern goldfields of West Australia and the South Australian border.
His experiences were not unlike those of the other explorers; he had to struggle on against heat, thirst, and spinifex, and found occasional tracts of pastoral land destitute of surface water.
In 1884 Harry Stockdale, an experienced bushman, started from Cambridge Gulf in order to investigate the country to the southward, and explore the land in its vicinity.
From the Gulf southward, he traversed well-watered and diversified country till he reached Buchanan's Creek, which must be distinguished from the stream of the same name in the Northern Territory of South Australia.* Having formed a depot there, he hoped to make further explorations, but owing to certain irregularities which had occurred among his followers in his absence on a flying trip, he was compelled to start immediately for his destination on the overland line. A very singular incident happened during this latter part of his journey. Two of the men, named Mulcay and Ashton desired, under the plea of sickness, to be left behind, and resisted every attempt to turn them from their purpose. Stockdale reached the line after suffering great hardship, but the fate of the two abandoned men eluded all subsequent search.
*[Footnote.] See Chapter 16.
20.2. LINDSAY AND THE ELDER EXPLORING EXPEDITION.
In 1891 Sir Thomas Elder of South Australia, who had already done much in the cause of exploration, projected another expedition on a large and most ambitious plan. It was called The Elder Exploring Scientific Expedition, and its main purpose was announced to be the completion of the exploration of Australia. A map was prepared on which a huge extent of the continent was partitioned off into blocks each bearing a distinctive letter, A, B, C, D, etc., quite irrespective of the fact that all these blocks had been partially explored and that some had even been settled.
The leadership of the party was offered to and accepted by David Lindsay, who had already won for himself a name as a capable explorer in South Australia. The second in charge was L.A. Wells. As the expedition was in the main destitute of any striking results, a short synopsis of the journey will satisfy our requirements.
Shortly after the expedition crossed the border-line between South Australia and West Australia, Mr. Leech, one of the responsible officers, was despatched on a fruitless trip northward to search for traces of the ill-fated Gibson, who had perished with Giles some seventeen years previously. The expedition then proceeded via Fort Mueller to Mount Squires, where water was obtainable. Thence a south-west course was taken to Queen Victoria's Spring. In latitude 29 degrees, 270 miles south of Mount Squires, the eastern end of a patch of good pastoral country was observed. On reaching the springs they were found to be dry, and all the intended exploration which was to be effected from this base had to be abandoned, the party having to push on to Fraser's Range; and this hasty trip through the desert comprised the only useful work done. Lindsay reported that, when half-way to the Range, they passed some good country consisting of rich red soil, producing good stock bushes but all exceedingly dry. A belt of country deserving the attention of prospectors was also noted. Having rested some time at the Range, they set out to examine, if possible, the western side of the desert they had just traversed, but lack of water compelled them to take an extreme westerly course to the Murchison by way of Mount Monger, passing through a country covered with miserable thicket on a sandy soil with granite outcrops. On the 1st of January, 1892, they reached their destination, when the majority of the members left the party, and the leader was recalled to Adelaide.