October 1.—Making an early start we passed at three miles the head of the watercourse we had been encamped upon, and then ascended some scrubby ranges, for about five miles further, when we entered into a narrow tract of good grassy country, which at five miles brought us to Mr. Driver’s station; a Mr. Dutton was living at this place as Mr. Driver’s manager, and by him we were very hospitably received, and furnished with such supplies as we required.
[Note 11: In 1842, Mr. Dutton attempted to take some cattle overland, from this station to the head of Spencer’s Gulf; both he and his whole party perished in the desert, (as supposed) from the want of water. In October of that year, I was sent by Government to search for their remains, but as it was the dry season, I could not follow up their tracks through the arid country they had advanced into. The cattle returned.]
It was a cattle station, and abounded with milk and butter, luxuries which we all fully enjoyed after our long ramble in the wilds. Having halted my party for the day, Mr. Scott and myself dined at Mr. Dutton’s, and learnt the most recent news from Adelaide and Port Lincoln. We had much to hear and much to inquire about, for even in the few months of our absence, it was to be presumed, that many changes would have taken place in the fluctuating affairs of a new colony. Nor were our conjectures wrong.
That great reaction which was soon to convulse all the Australian Colonies generally, to annihilate all mercantile credit, and render real property comparatively valueless, had already commenced in South Australia; failures, and rumours of failures, were of daily occurrence in Adelaide, and even the little settlement of Port Lincoln had not escaped the troubles of the times. I learnt with regret that it was rapidly falling into decay, and its population diminishing. Many had already deserted it, and amongst them I was surprised to hear of the departure of Captain Porter and others, who were once the most enthusiastic admirers and the staunchest supporters of this embryo town. That which however affected me more particularly was the fear, that from the low and impoverished state to which the place was now reduced, I should not be able to obtain the supplies I required for my party, and should probably have to delay until I could send over to Adelaide for what I wanted, even supposing I was lucky enough to find a vessel to go across for me. In walking round Mr. Dutton’s farm I found he was ploughing up some land in the valley for wheat, which appeared to be an excellent soil, and the garden he had already commenced was looking promising. At night I obtained the altitude of a Aquilae, by which I placed Mr. Driver’s station in 34 degrees 21 minutes 20 seconds S. lat., or about 22 miles of lat. north of Kirton Point.