George William Evans' account
The expedition departed Sydney on March 26, 1812 on the Lady Nelson and arrived at Jervis Bay the following day. George William Evans led a survey of the surrounding land on 28 March that was completed by 2 April. It was during this time that Evans was bitten by a snake, and the work was further delayed by bad weather. The party commenced their trek back to Sydney on 3 April, a journey of around 145 kilometres.
On two occasions the party were required to construct bark canoes, with Bundle's assistance, to enable creek and river crossings. The first crossing was at Currambene Creek, just north of what is now Huskisson village. The second was at the Shoalhaven River, at Cabbage Tree Flat, just west of current day Nowra.
Faced with the almost impenetrable bush and cliffs of the Cambewarra Range, near the present day village of Berry, the party spent 10 hours navigating their way through dense undergrowth which nearly destroyed their clothing. Realising that it was impossible to continue climbing the Range, the party then descended into the valley at Bundewallah Creek and proceeded north along the coast through areas now encompassing the towns of Gerringong, Kiama and Wollongong.
Turning inland on 13 April they commenced their climb near Mount Keira, heading in a north-westerly direction towards the nearest European settlement at Lachlan Vale, near Appin. Having run out of food three days before, and with Evans suffering from cracked ribs after a fall in a river, the party was relieved to finally arrive at the Appin settlement on 15 April.
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Transcript: George William Evans, Journal of an expedition overland from Jervis Bay to Mr Broughton's farm near Appin, 25 March-17 April , Manuscript, C709
The entries here refer to the year 1812 [...]
The water mark is 1809. The Calendar shows the year to be 1812.
Wednesday 25th March
Embarked on Board the Lady Nelson the same Evening got under weigh and came too near Pinch Gutt Island for want of a Breeze
About 7 oClock A. M. sail’d to Rose Bay and let go the small Anchor to wait for the Boat, at 9 oClock began to beat out and clear’d the Heads of Port Jackson by 11 with a favorable Gale from the N. E., at 2 oClock P M. Botany Bay bore W 2 [degrees] N, a very disagreeable Sea the Wind about changing, at 8 oClock it Blew hard from the South
The Vessel stood on and off the Land during Night at day light found
found we lost no way the Current being in our favor, at 7 A. M. Wind S W blowing hard with a very rough Sea, at 10 the wind upon Change to the South, at 11 Jarvis Bay Heads bore West about 7 Miles distant, Wind veering to the S E, at 1/2 past 2 oClock P. M. anchored in Jarvis Bay West of Bowen’s Island in 7 Fathoms Water – Prepared for going on Shore in the Morning, and amused ourselves fishing, with little success from the number of Sharks in this part of the Bay, we caught a great number one of which measured 11 feet.
Was on shore before Sun Rise
landed and began my Survey from the South Head, about 3 oClock P M I closed for the day, on laying my lines down I found I had travelled about 10 Miles, I have noted down the Watering Places in my Survey. The Land and Timber I saw this day is not worthy observation, the best Land is from the South Head about 3 Miles round the Bay, the remaining part is very bad and Timber very unsound – at 1/2 past 3 went off to the Brig, I wished to have run a few more Miles, walking thro’ some long Grass in my last station, something bit me on the leg which turned me quite giddy and ill –
Remained on Board the whole day very poorly, my leg extremely painful and swoln nearly as large as my Thigh, – at 12 P M Mr Overhand went on Shore and took a few bearings. – No Natives has yet been seen. –
A Very wet Morning with a Violent Gale from the South, the Motion of the Vessel was equal to being at sea – my leg much better, and able to land again as soon as the Weather permits I think it was some Kind of Snake that bit me, I suffered on Sunday the
most excrutiating pains.
Tuesday 31st March
The weather abated, was on Shore by Sun Rise and proceeded on my Survey, about one oClock came to the Mouth of a Salt Creek the tide running in very rapidly the Boat off at the Vessel Mr. Overhand wishing to come on Shore with a party to cutt Honeysuckle we went thro’ the Creek up to our Chins and 1/4 of an hour after arrived at a Salt water River, 2 oClock the Boat came and put us a cross to the North side, left the Men to cutt timber Mr Overhand and self proceeded up the River a few Miles in the Boat, from which I took
took bearings of the different Reaches. The River resembles that of Parramatta to the West of the Flats, full of shoals with Mangroves on each side, Abt. 5 oClock we returned but could not possibly get off more than one log of Timber it being so large. Honeysuckle may be had here fit to build a twenty Gun Ship down to a Boat. I am sorry to observe the land thus far is very bad, and no kind of Trees worthy Notice except the aforementioned.
Wednesday April 1st
Continued my progress, the land as before remarked, very
scarse of Fresh Water not having fell in with a drop this day. Honey suckle in abundance, closed my survey at the Mouth of a 2nd. Salt River which takes a North Course it resembles the last but rather wider, the tide appears to flow abt. 7 feet perpendicular, I do not think any body of fresh water comes down either of the Rivers, as at low Water a Stream is scarsly perceivable, I have not seen a situation the least desirable for a Settlement, the land is very Barren, and no fresh Water. – I shall take my departure on Friday Morning from the South
South side of the 1st River in a N W direction, as from the appearance of it being low land I may fall in with Tracks worthy observation.
Preparing for tomorrows departure, laid down my Survey which from proofs I find correct, I have not fell in with any Natives since our being here.
Landed for our departure from the South side of a Salt River at the West extremity of the Bay, on landing saw several Natives who were very friendly, they presented me a Number of fine Oysters, I gave away two Tomahawks, a Blankett, some Tobacco, and Fish Hooks,
on taking my departure an Old Man to whom Bundle gave his Shirt cried very much, I shortly after left them, going off in a N W direction thro several Brushes, swamps, and bad Land, untill I met the River which was too deep to cross, I followed its course for some distance round several Lagoons untill it was too late to go over.
I set the Men to make a Canoe to convey our Baggage and 2 of the Men who could not swim across.
The River is about 4 Rods wide at this place, very deep, at low water, it is drinkable.
A great number of Cabbage Trees grow on its Banks, I think there may be Cedar farther up as I saw one small Tree.
Completed the Canoe and conveyed over our Baggage by a Man swimming a cross with a line which was fastened at one end, and my Chain to the other, by that means pulled it backwards and forwards untill every thing was on the North Side, I then proceeded N W over a miserable sandy track of Country for about 2 Miles, tormented by a kind of fly I never before saw, resembling the Native Bee, at length we got on forrest Land, but soon after came into a Brush of the Native Pine Apple Bush, and Briers, which continued nearly 2 1/2 Miles, at length last arrived at some Ponds of Water, we
was much in want of it, no having met with any this Day.
Alted for the Night being much fatagued, in some parts we could scarsly travel half a Mile in an hour; soon after we stoped some Natives came near, but on observing us they were much alarmed and Run off.
Proceeded on in a North Course, still in a Broom Scrub Brush with very lofty Gum and Iron Bark Trees, the land poor for 2 Miles, it then got sandy with low Trees, afterwards full of large Stones, until I came to a Rock nearly 2 Chains perpendicular, underneath is a small flat of Brush Ground 7 Chains to the River which I suppose empties int itself into Shoal Haven, at this place it
it is better than 100 Yards wide, equal as large as the Hawkesbury, the Water was not quite fresh but drinkable; the bites of Land are very Rich, but not quantity sufficient worthy of Notice, in these grow Cedar, Lightwood, Mahogany and Cabbage Trees, I saw but few Cedars but imagine there must be a quantity farther up, this part resembles the Hawkesbury about Sackville Reach, the Banks are not lofty but the Water is very deep, the tide appears to flow about 4 feet; a Very high bluff of Mountain bears N 10 [degrees] W from this station about 4 Miles distant; Crossing the Rivers detain my progress greatly, being under the necessity of going some distance to find Trees whose bark is fit to make a Canoe,
I should much like to proceed to its Source, it takes its direction as I observed from a Hill by a Mist arrising from it, S. W. through an extensive flat The Mountains bend off N W; – I do not see in either of the Rivers any Mark or signs of floods either by Rubbish lodging in the Trees or low lands, I shall be more able to ascertain its course tomorrow as my track lays over a very high Ridge of Mountains from which I shall be able to see a great distance.
It was dusk last Evening before we crossed the River, I ventured to Swim but felt the Cramp coming I returned to the shore, two of the Men could not swim which Bundle conveyed over in the Canoe, I remained till last fearful if I had used it first my weight might swamp
swamp her, as it was very bad and leaked much, I striped myself and sent my Cloaths over, it rained hard, and was in that situation nearly an hour, at last it came to my turn. I ventured into the Canoe and brought it down within two Inches of the Water, thank God I landed safe, we were 6 Hours making the Bank and conveying ourselves and Baggage over, it continued wet the whole Night and we were very uncomfatable; this Morning was a thick mist and turned out very fine, at 7 oClock started out over a Rich flat in which was a small Lagoon, on its edge was 2 Cedars, soon after we were again on Rocky land very high, I could disern at a great distance, there is not the appearance of any Mountains as far as I
could see from the West to the South, the Weather had got quite clear; I traveled a North Course nearly 2 Miles, the land exceeding bad untill we arrived at a Run of Water from the Mountains, on getting thro’ the Brush on its Banks, there was the finest forrest land I yet have seen; I changed my direction to North East, as the North dir Course led me to a Peaked Mountain which is their S. W. end, or termination, they show incline to the North of West, and to the S E to the Coast; at the foot of them is good Forrest land well watered by many runs from their Cavities; I never saw such fine and lofty [...] Gum Trees; I was in hopes to have been able to ascend the high hills this day but was obliged to come too, the People as well as myself being much fatagued.
Began to ascend the Mountains abt. 7 oClock this Morning, it was 1/4 Past 12 before we got at their summit abt. one Mile and a Quarter through the thickest Brush I ever saw; in some places we were under the necessity of creeping through the Vines; the largest timber I ever saw met with Grows on their sides, they are Chiefly Gum and a Tree with large Folage with a smooth Bark, Cedars & Rose Wood; the Ridges are also full of underwood; abt. 5 oClock came to a flat, on the highest part the Mountain quite clear and full of Swamps, from which was one of the finest Views I ever have seen, it would be impossible for a Painter to Beautify it, I took a sketch altho’ I was so much tired in
traveling 3 Miles, from this situation I observe a very large Sheet of Water to the South of Jarvis Bay – we stoped here for the Night.
This day has been so tiresome and very tedious in travelling that tomorrow I must make the Coast I am at loss for words to describe what we have gone through, we are all blood from the bites of Leeches, the Vines and Briers, have almost striped us Naked, been obliged to decend from Perpendicular clefts on the Mountain 30 & 40 feet high, by Trees and lower our baggage down by the Chain with lines fastened to it, I did not think any thing of what is past we go through, if I saw the least practibility of making a strait course to the district of Appin.
two of the Men are very much bruised by their falls. The Land we passed over is very poor, yet bears exceeding lofty Trees and Cedar, not a Blade of Grass is to be seen, the Brush prevents the Rays of the Sun reaching the Ground, which is quite thick with Rotten leaves, Sticks, and Trees quite decayed that causes a most disagreeable smell, I endeavoured to decend into a Run, which I accomplished, down which I directed my Course over the Stones, and lowering ourselves from one fall, to another, I was astonished to see in small ponds on the Mountains and in Wells formed among the falls a number of Fish, 6 or 7 Inches long, we did not procure any; it was Sun set when I alted for the Night on a Point of Ground full of Cabbage Trees and free from underwood.
Continued my trace down the Run for about 1 Mile, (on the Edge grows a great deal of Cedar,) I then turned my Course East through a Viney Brush for 1/2 Mile, when I came upon Forrest Ground and much better travelling until I again met the aforementioned Creek Stream of Water, which I kept on my Right hand walking through excellent good Land, and crossed several Brooks of Water, I at length came into a Brush, likewise excellent Soil nearly 1/4 Mile through, a Number of cedars grow therein; on the outside of the brush was Good Forrest Ground in Ridges, a red Loam Soil; for some distance on my Right hand in the Valley contains a great deal of fine Cedar –
These Valleys lead into a small river which take a North Course from the Main River of Shoals Haven, and runs through
through (as I observed from the Mountains) a most beautiful meadow, and looses itself in different branches, which are the Runs from the Mountains, and contain such fine Cedar; it is my opinion if the small river is Navigable this part of the Country would make a Beautiful Settlement, being so near the Sea Coast would must be a great convenience, On the North side of the Large River, and on the East of the small One, is a very handsome Mount which I think would answer for the Town or Seat of Government.
It is only my opinion from appearance, first it would be necessary for a compleat Survey to be taken of the place, with assistance of a Boat to traverse the Rivers & Creeks, but I can answer for the Land, I
have walked over part of this day to be as good as the best in any part of Port Jackson and well watered.
Travelled on very good Land for nearly a Mile and half when I got on a Stoney Ridge, after leaving it I passed through a thick Brush, and then a Swamp alternately, but was much disappointed to find a flat which I imagined to be a Meadow quite a Swamp, and passed through part of it, and another Brush to a Lagoon which was Salt Water, the tide comes into it, I went round the piece of Water, and then was obliged to go over a fresh Water Bog for a Mile and a Quarter up to our Knees in wet, the Ground in some places shook ender us; at last came to a Brush about 5 Chains Through, to excellent Forrest Land ascending a hill, on coming to the top I was most agreeably surprized to see the finest track of cleared Land I ever beheld, situated
situated most beautifully and well watered by a Run, the Ridges leading to higher land is also excellent, the track clear is about 200 Acres, the part I crosed measured 30 Chains, there may be about 10 Trees on the space with Grass up to our Middles, between this land and the Sea is a Brush likewise good soil; I could have no Idea of meeting with such a Country between the part we lately passed and the Coast, it quite astonished me, not a situation in Port Jackson is half so handsome and good. tomorrow I shall be able to speak of how it is between this and the Sea, which I think about a Mile off, I can see it through the Trees – I saw some Natives to day who were quite pleased, and Proud of two Tomahawks and some Tobacco I presented to them.
At 7 Chains from my last Station yesterday I came to a Brush & at 22 Chains on an East line met the Sea, the Brush was on very good Land, I proceeded to trace the Coast and stoped within 5 Miles of the Five Island Point, the underwood on the Ridges continues to the Shore, and grows Cedar, and Sacifas, the vacant spaces between the Ridges and Beach are large salt water swamps, the Surf breaks very heavy, it would be hardly possible for boats to venture to land on any part I have yet seen –
This Evening I had travelled 5 Miles to the North of Rod Point or 5 Island, the land on my left very low and full of very large salt Water Lagoons, this is our 10th day of being out, and shall tomorrow again endeavour to make the district of Appin
I think I might have made it had I proceeded up Shoals Haven a few Miles farther as the Mountains fall off N W – we have been very unfortunate in procuring Game and are on very short Allowance
I took my departure for Mr Broughtons 6 Miles North of 5 Island Point on a W 20 [degrees] N Course, which is the bearing my Chart gives me, I proceeded up a Ridge of very good Land better than a Mile when it became Stoney, and higher Ground, Ascending it was thick with Underwood, and very large Trees, continued so for a great distance over the Mountain untill I met a steep Rock which we got over, afterwards the Land was rather high but extremely wet, low miserable Trees, and Prickly Brush; on leaving the Beach we had only a Quart of Rice
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set came to a heavy Run of Water down falls that led me to believe it the Source of the Nepean, there we remained greatly fatagud
I traced the Run nearly 2 Miles but was necessitated to leave off Chaining from the difficult traveling, and deep Ravenes we had to Cross, which is out of my power to describe; not any of us having eat any thing for 3 days we were very weak; I altered my Course to N 53 [degrees] E being sure that line would make Mr Broughtons (which I was now certain I had overshot) or the Cow Pastures, walking about a Mile I came upon a high hill of Forrest Ground from which I diserned a Smoak exactly
I was certain of being near the district of Appin, the Men were very low in Spirits I beged of them to begin to ascend the Rocks, I got up about 7 feet to a ledge, my foot sliped, I caught hold of a small tree that broke and I fell upon my hip on a rock, which threw me head foremost into the River, which was very deep, I was helped out but unable to proceed for 3 hours from a violent Pain in my breast, I managed at last to get up the Rocks, and about 11 oClock made Mr. Broughtons Hutt, the Men were then supplied with Bread, Meat, and Milk, and Mr. Kennedy
ordered a Sheep to be Killed, tomorrow I intend to rest being very poorly from my fall, and on Sunday proceed to Head Quarters.
Yesterday Morning was the first of my seeing the Smoke on the hill, but could not disern the Flag, Mr. Kennedy informed me that in the Night a Gale of Wind had broke the flag staff which was 70 feet high.