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shores. York Peninsula is that enormous isosceles triangle which forms the eastern arm of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The base of this triangle is an imaginary line from Rockingham Bay to the head of the gulf. A land communication along this imaginary line would save a considerable distance of sea voyage, and would wholly escape Torres Strait. The Indian and Chinese traders, and the Dutch islanders, might then land their wares at the head of the gulf. A few coasters from Rockingham Bay to the colonies would complete the rest of the journey. But York Peninsula was a terra incognita, and Mr. Kennedy, some months after his return from the Victoria River, was sent to explore it. He was to examine the peninsula on its Pacific side, from Rockingham Bay to its vertex, Cape York. A colonial sloop was to lie off Cape York, to supply stores to the exploring party, on its arrival there, when the exploring party was to turn, and examine the gulf side, down to its head.
In 1848, Mr. Kennedy and his party of twelve men, including a native black, named Jacky Jacky, were landed at Rockingham Bay, and the colonial sloop Albion' took up its post off Cape York. The whole particulars of the terrible tragedy enacted on York Peninsula we shall probably never learn. Month after
. month, the · Albion' lay off Cape York, but the man on the look-out reported no signal from the shore. At length, at the end of six months, the signal-man called the officers to witness a strange appearance on the sea-beach. A native — naked, emaciated, and apparently dying — was seen to crawl from the dense woods which overhang Cape York. He held a bough in his hand. Gaining the beach, he waved the bough in the direction of the “ Albion. A boat was immediately lowered, and the native brought on board. He proved to be Jacky Jacky, at death's door, from wounds and hunger. For fourteen days, he said, he had tasted nothing but water. His clothes, which, as a member of the exploring expedition, he had received from the Government store at Sydney, he had used to bury Mr. Kennedy. While he greedily devoured the food placed before him, the officers and men of the Albion ’ listened to his tale. When the party landed at Rockingham Bay, they found the country covered with a dense and tall scrub. For four months, they literally cut their way towards Cape York, through this scrub, with saws and hatchets, and seldom making more than a mile or two a day. Their provisions became exhausted, and they ate their horses. When they had eaten their horses, they were still 200 miles from Cape York. The soil, excluded from sun and air by the dense scrub, was found most unhealthy. Most of the men, from sickness and insufficiency of food, were
now too weak to proceed any further. In this strait, Mr. Kennedy placed eight of the men in camp, near the sea-shore, at Weymouth Bay, and, taking Jacky Jacky and three of the strongest men with him, set forward to procure assistance from the · Albion.' A savage tribe now appeared in their track. After some days' travelling, a dangerous accident happened to one of the men from the explosion of a gun, and he could not be moved. Leaving the other two men to protect him, Mr. Kennedy again hurried on with Jacky Jacky. The blacks now got ahead of them. _At Escape River they showered their spears on them. Jacky was wounded in the face. Mr. Kennedy received several spears in the back, leg, and sides. He fell, but immediately stood up again; fired his gun,
and then fell again. Jacky stood over him, with his gun
cocked. It missed fire, but he still covered the savages. Mr. Kennedy's aim had been true - one savage was writhing in the agonies of death. The rest drew back, and peered from behind the trees. Jacky seized his master, and carried him down to the stream, through a belt of scrub.
“ He said,” continues the faithful fellow, “Don't carry me far.' Then Mr. Kennedy looked this way (imitating him), very bad. I said to him, 'Don't look far away,' as I thought he would be frightened. I asked him often, ' Are you well now?' and he said, 'I don't care for the spear wound in my leg, but for the other two spear wounds in my side and back;' and he said, 'I am bad inside, Jacky. I told bim, Black fellow always die, when he gets spear in there. He said, 'I am out of wind, Jacky!' I asked him, " Mr. Kennedy, are you going to leave me?' and he said, “ Yes, my boy, I am going to leave you. He said, 'I am very bad, Jacky; you take the books to the Captain of the “Albion ;” but not the big ones. The Governor (of New South Wales) will give anything for them.' I then tied up the papers. He then said, “Jacky, give me paper, and I will write.' I
him paper and pencil, and he tried to write; and he then fell back, and died. And I caught as he fell, and held him; and I then turned round myself, and cried. I was crying a good while, until I got well. That was about an hour, and then I buried him. I digged up the ground with a tomahawk, and covered him over with logs, then grass, and my shirt and trousers.'
Jacky kept watch until dark. Then he slipped silently into the stream, and waded up its channel, keeping his head only above water, until he was sufficiently far to escape detection. From Escape River he crept on through the silent woods, exhausted by wounds and hunger, and falling asleep,' as he
* Examination of the black, Jacky Jacky. Investigation of York Peninsula Exploring Expedition - Sydney Morning Herald,' 1849.
said, for whole days beside ponds and waterholes, until at length he reached Cape York.
On hearing his story, the Albion' was immediately got under weigh, and all haste made to relieve the remainder of the party. Jacky pointed out where the wounded man and his two companions bad been left, along the coast. Captain Dobson landed, but could find none of them. Nor has their fate been yet discovered; though portions of European clothing were found among the savages in the neighbourhood, which left little doubt but they had been murdered. From this the · Albion' crowded all sail to Weymouth Bay, where the remainder of the men had been left in camp. On landing, the ship's officers discovered a European at a well's side, sitting on his pitcher. They bastened to him, but he was quite dead. They proceeded to the camp. A horrible smell caused them almost to faint. Few had the nerve to enter. Five bodies were lying in their beds, and had lain for some weeks. Two beds showed signs of having been
. occupied within some hours. Their owners were looking for shell-fish on the beach. They had seen the · Albion,' and now staggered back to camp-mere skin and bone, and so weak that they had been unable to drag their dead companions out of their beds to bury them. Search was next made for the body of Mr. Kennedy, but his grave had been opened, and the body removed. No trace of it, or of his papers, has been yet discovered. Jacky says he hid the papers in the hollow of a tree, but they could not be found.
The Victoria River was yet again to be associated with disaster. Dr. Leichhardt had been for some time making preparations for an expedition, even more important than his great overland Expedition to Port Essington. He proposed to bisect the whole continent by taking the greatest diameter possible as a base route. Moreton Bay and Perth are the two extremities of such a diameter, and Dr. Leichhardt was preparing to cross from the Moreton Bay district to the capital of Western Australia, by a line passing through the centre of the continent. Mr. Kennedy had just brought the news from Sydney that the Victoria had abandoned its northern course, and was coming round to the west. It seemed, therefore, to offer a passage into Central Australia, and Dr. Leichhardt determined to avail himself of it. Early in 1848, a month or so before Mr. Kennedy started for York Peninsula, he left Sydney with a large and well-equipped party under his command. Of the fate of himself and his whole party, no trace has ever been discovered up to the present moment. A horse, said to belong to the expedition, did arrive at Adelaide some years ago, but
this affords little clue. Horses abandoned by Captain Sturt in Central Australia, as dying, have arrived after many years in Adelaide. The little that we do know of the proceedings of the lost expedition may be told in very few words indeed. It will be recollected that nothing was then known of the Victoria beyond Cooper's Creek district, nor that the Victoria was the Cooper's Creek of Captain Sturt, except from Mr. Kennedy's conjectures. No one then imagined that the Victoria, after its wanderings in Central Australia, would bring the traveller back again to settled districts. It is, at least, certain that Dr. Leichhardt made direct for the banks of the Victoria. It is also certain that Dr. Leichhardt abandoned the Victoria when he found it leading bim too much to the south. Mr. Kennedy, in his excursion down the Victoria, had discovered a large and imposing tributary joining it on the right-hand bank. This he called the Thomson. It then possessed a considerable body of water - indeed, was as large as the Victoria itself. In spring time it would doubtless hold out a tempting offer to an expedition seeking to penetrate the interior. Dr. Leichhardt left Sydney in April, and would arrive at this portion of the Victoria about the beginning of the Australian Spring. Mr. Gregory some ten years after, in 1857, shortly after his return from his explorations on the North-West Coast, started from Sydney, under instructions from the New South Wales Government, to discover, if possible, some traces of the lost expedition. Their marks were not yet obliterated on the banks of the Victoria. So far into the interior as the 146th meridian, Mr. Gregory found a tree marked · L,' after which no further trace could be discovered on the Victoria. The 146th meridian is, however, higher up the stream than the junction of the Thomson. Mr. Gregory accordingly arrived at the conclusion that the expedition had, at this point, abandoned the Victoria and passed up the Thomson. Under this conjecture he himself passed up the Thomson almost to the tropic. It was then summer, and the river at that point presented merely a dry and baked channel, without water or grass.
It was evidently leading out into Sturt's great desert, but offered no inducement to proceed. There can scarcely be a doubt but that Dr. Leichhardt, passing up the Thomson at a more promising season of the year, launched out on that terrible country which had so nearly entombed Captain Sturt and his men. Whether the impending summer cut off retreat, or a hostile tribe attacked them on the western borders — for it is almost certain that no tribes, unless perhaps a few isolated families mutually afraid of each other, inhabit Central Australia - is left to mere conjecture. Yet it
is impossible but that traces of so large an expedition are still extant. If they died within Central Australia, their remains are still there, probably undisturbed. If they were murdered by a border tribe, it is certain that their arms and implements are still preserved by them. Now that secure halting places have been discovered within Central Australia, and that its explorer is no longer driven to a series of forced marches for life or death, it might be yet possible, without risk, to clear up the mysterious fate of Dr. Leichhardt and his men.
With the lost expedition of Dr. Leichhardt we have come down to a period so fresh in the memory of our readers that there is little left for our narrative to supply. Indeed, with the unpromising account brought by Captain Sturt from Central Australia, the tragic fate of Mr. Kennedy's expedition, and the disappearance of Dr. Leichhardt's whole party, enterprise in Australian exploration received a considerable check. Nothing of importance was attempted until Mr. Gregory's Victoria River Expedition landed on the North-West Coast in 1855, for the purpose of carrying out, under the instructions of the British Government and the Royal Geographical Society, the recommendations of Captain Stokes. It will be sufficient to give a very rapid sketch of the progress of that expedition - premising that the loss of the Tom Tough' in the river, and the mismanagement of the depôt of stores for the overlamd party at the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria, very much weakened its resources. Following up the Victoria of Captain Stokes to lat. 18° 12' and long. 130° 39', where it appears to take its rise, Mr. Gregory found
himself on the summit of a dividing range, similar to the Dividing Range of the East Coast. Descending the slope of this range towards the interior, he penetrated, by help of a small creek, so low as lat. 18° 31', long. 131° 44'. Turning thence eastward, he proceeded along the borders of a very inhospitable tract of country, in hope of meeting some fresh inlet, until at length another creek was discovered making for the interior, to which the name of Sturt's Creek was given. Sturt's Creek led the exploring party as low south as lat. 20° 16', long. 127° 35', or five degrees below the mouth of the Victoria, and wanting about two and a half degrees of the centre. For the first 100 miles traversed by it, the land along its right bank consisted of vast plains of rich soil covered with beautiful
As they followed it, however, the country gradually deteriorated, and Sturt's Creek at length terminated in a chain
* Report of Mr. Gregory to the Secretary of State for the Colonies - Proceedings of Royal Geographical Society, 1858.