(previous … Hamilton Hume and William Hovell)

Oxley’s Journey Revisited

Charles Sturt statue
Charles Sturt

The long drought which occurred between 1826 and 1828 suggested to Governor Ralph Darling the idea that, as the swamps which had impeded John Oxley‘s progress would be then dried up, the exploration of the river Macquarie would not present the same difficulties as before. The charge of organizing an expedition was given to Captain Charles Sturt, who was accompanied by Hamilton Hume, with a party of two soldiers and eight convicts.

They carried with them portable boats, but when they reached Macquarie River they found its waters so low as to be incapable of floating them properly. Trudging on foot along the banks of the river they reached the place where Oxley had turned back. It was no longer a marsh, but because of the intense heat, the clay beneath their feet was baked and hard. Of course, there was the same dreary stretch of reeds, now withered and yellow under the glare of the sun.

Sturt attempted to penetrate this horrid terrain but the physical exertion of pushing their way through the reeds was too great. If they paused to rest, they were almost suffocated in the hot and humid air. The only sound they could hear was the distant booming of the bittern (marsh birds). A feeling of the most lonely wretchedness engulfed the scene.

Darling River

At length, they were glad to leave the dismal region and head west, through a flat and monotonous terrain, where the shells and claws of crayfish told of frequent floodwaters. Through this plain there flowed a river which Sturt called the Darling in honour of the Governor.

No Inland Sea

They followed the Darling River for 90 miles and then made their way back to Sydney. The result of the expedition was that Sturt was now able to prove that the existence of a great inland sea was false.

(continues …Murray River)