“To the Chairman of the Committee of Colonists for promoting the Northern Expedition.”
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“Depot, near Mount Arden, July 22nd, 1840.
“My Dear Sir,—I beg to enclose a copy of the report of our proceedings up to the present date, for the perusal of his Excellency the Governor. By it his Excellency will perceive that the very inhospitable nature of the country around Lake Torrens, added to my anxiety to remove our horses from the depot near Mount Arden, where there was but very little grass for them, prevented my devoting so much time to the examination of the lake and the country around it, as I should have wished; and I therefore intend, if possible, on my return, to investigate it more fully, being anxious to ascertain, whether, as I suppose, there is a considerable drainage into it from the westward. The high land seen on its opposite side, appears to be a continuation of the table land, lying to the west of the head of Spencer’s Gulf; and though the fall of the country appears to be to the north, I begin to be of opinion now that it is not in reality. Lake Torrens is evidently the basin into which all the waters from Flinders range fall, and its extent is very considerable; in fact, where I last saw it to the north, it was impossible to say whether it terminated or not, from the very great distance it was off. The country lying between Flinders range on the one side, and the table land on the other, and north of Spencer’s Gulf, is of so low and so level a character that the eye alone is not a sufficient guide as to the direction in which the fall may be. On my previous visits, I felt convinced it was northerly, but I am now inclined to think that the drainage from Lake Torrens in seasons of wet, is to the south, into the head of the Gulf; and I can only account for there not being a larger connecting watercourse than the small shallow one found when crossing from Streaky Bay—and which I did not then imagine extended far above the head of the Gulf—by supposing that the seasons have so altered of late years that the overflow of the lake has never been sufficient to cause a run of water to the Gulf. Should my present supposition be correct, the idea of a northerly drainage is done away with, and we have yet to come to a “division of the waters.” My uncertainty on this most important point has made me most anxious to get my party removed to a place where they can remain until I can decide so interesting a point, and one on which our future prospects so much depend. The same causes that prevented my staying a little longer in the neighbourhood of the Lake have also prevented, as yet, my extending my researches to the north for more than about forty miles farther than I had been when last in this neighbourhood. The only change I observed, was the increasing barren appearance of the country—the decrease in elevation of the ranges—their becoming more detached, with sterile valleys between—and the general absence of springs; the rock of the higher ridges, which were very rugged and abrupt, was still the same, quartz and ironstone, but much more of the latter than I had before seen, and, in some cases, with a very great proportion of metal to the stone. The lower ridges and steep banks, when washed away by the rains, presented great quantities of a very pungent salt to the eye of the observer, mixed with the clay and sand of which the banks were formed; and in this neighbourhood the watercourses were (though dry) all lined with the salt–water tea–tree—a shrub we had never before seen under Flinders range. My next push to the north will probably throw some light upon our future prospects, and I only regret it will not be in my power to communicate the intelligence. I intended to have sent his Excellency a rough sketch of my last route, but have not been able to get it ready in time, and I fear I have already detained the little cutter too long: during their detention, I requested the master to examine some salt water inlets on the east side of Spencer’s Gulf, and he said he would, but I have not yet heard the result of his researches. Should he have found, a good landing–place for goods, it would be of much importance to the northern parts of the colony when they become stocked; and nearly all the country as far as the head of the Gulf is more or less adapted for grazing. Pray return my best thanks to his Excellency for the abundant supply of stores we have received by the WATERWITCH—especially for the barometer, which has arrived quite safely. I shall take great care of it, and shall make observations, whenever practicable, three times a day—8, a.m., noon, and 5, p.m. I only returned late last night, and have been so busy to–day preparing every thing for leaving the depot, that I have been obliged to put off my writing until night; and I am now acribbling in the tent, on my bed, with my young friend, Mr. Scott, fast asleep, and a cold bleak wind whistling through the place, so that I fear my writing will be scarcely legible. I send down the letters to the cutter in the morning, and intend to move on my party on the 24th. With kind remembrance to his Excellency, Mrs. Gawler, and family—
“Believe me, etc. “EDWARD JOHN EYRE. “G. Hall, Esq.”