The expedition set out on 14 January 1798. However, the Irish convicts quickly grew tired when faced with the prospect of climbing through rugged bushland near Picton. They returned to Sydney, along with the guards. John Price, John Wilson and another man, possibly one of the convicts named Roe, continued on. Heading in a south westerly direction, they journeyed through an area that was later known as the Southern Highlands.
Price’s journal contains reports of the first sighting of the lyrebird, wombat (on the mainland) and koala, all observed on the 26th of January, ten years after the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson. The party eventually reached the junction of the Wingecarribee and Wollondilly Rivers, more than 160 km south of Parramatta. On the return journey, hungry and exhausted, the men cut up their clothing and used the cloth to protect their feet.
A second expedition to the south west was conducted by Wilson, Price and a man named Collins in early March of the same year. This time the men reached Mount Towrang, near present day Goulburn. The two expeditions revealed the rich tablelands that later proved valuable grazing for sheep and cattle with the expansion of settlement in the early 19th century.
Following the expeditions, Wilson again lived with an Aboriginal community. However in August 1800 a report reached the colony that he had been fatally speared. Within weeks of Wilson’s death, Governor Hunter sailed for England, accompanied by his servant, John Price. A fair copy of Price’s journal was presented to Sir Joseph Banks after their return. This journal is now part of the Banks Papers held in the State Library’s collections.
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