The 7th was spent in preparing my despatches for Adelaide. On the 8th I sent in a dray to Port Lincoln, with Mr. Scott’s luggage, and those things that were to be sent to Adelaide, comprising all the specimens of geology and botany we had collected, a rough chart of our route, and the despatches and letters which I had written. The boat was not ready at the time appointed, and Mr. Scott returned to the tents. In the evening, however, he again went to the settlement, and about ten, P.M., he, and the man who was to manage the boat, went on board to sail for Adelaide. I had been taken very ill during the day, and was unable to accompany him to the place of embarkation. The following is a copy of my despatch to the Governor, and to the Chairman of the Northern Expedition Committee, embodying my reasons for going to the westward.

“Port Lincoln, October, 1840.

“Sir, — Having fallen back upon Port Lincoln for supplies, an opportunity has occurred to me of writing a brief and hurried report of our proceedings. I have, therefore, the honour to acquaint you, for the information of His Excellency, the Governor, and the colonists interested in the Northern Expedition, with the result of my examination of the country north of Spencer’s Gulf, and of the further steps I contemplate taking to endeavour to carry out the wishes of the Committee, and accomplish the object for which the expedition was fitted out.

“Upon leaving our depot, near Mount Arden, the low, arid, and sandy nature of the country between the hills and Lake Torrens, compelled us to follow close under the continuation of Flinders range. Here our progress was necessarily very slow, from the rugged nature of the country, the scarcity of water, and the great difficulty both of finding and obtaining access to it. As we advanced, the hills inclined considerably to the eastward, gradually becoming less elevated, until, in latitude 29 degrees 20 minutes S., they ceased altogether, and we found ourselves in a very low and level country, consisting of large stony plains, varied occasionally by sand; and the whole having evidently been subject to recent and extensive inundation. These plains are destitute of water, grass, and timber, and have only a few salsolaceous plants growing upon them; whilst their surface, whether stony or sandy, is quite smooth and even, as if washed so by the action of the water. Throughout this level tract of country were interspersed, in various directions, many small flat-topped elevations, varying in height from 50 to 300 feet, and almost invariably exhibiting precipitous banks. These elevations are composed almost wholly of a chalky substance, coated over on the upper surface by stones, or a sandy soil, and present the appearance of having formed a table land that has been washed to pieces by the violent action of water, and of which these fragments now only remain. Upon forcing a way through this dreary region, in three different directions, I found that the whole of the low country round the termination of Flinders range, was completely surrounded by Lake Torrens, which, commencing not far from the head of Spencer’s Gulf, takes a circuitous course of fully 400 miles, of an apparent breadth of from twenty to thirty miles, following the sweep of Flinders range, and almost encircling it in the form of a horse shoe.

“The greater part of the vast area contained in the bed of this immense lake, is certainly dry on the surface, and consists of a mixture of sand and mud, of so soft and yielding a character, as to render perfectly ineffective all attempts either to cross it, or reach the edge of the water, which appears to exist at a distance of some miles from the outer margin. On one occasion only was I able to taste of its waters; in a small arm of the lake near the most north-westerly part of it, which I visited, and here the water was as salt as the sea. The lake on its eastern and southern sides, is bounded by a high sandy ridge, with salsolae and some brushwood growing upon it, but without any other vegetation. The other shores presented, as far as I could judge, a very similar appearance; and when I ascended several of the heights in Flinders range — from which the views were very extensive, and the opposite shores of the lake seemed to be distinctly visible — no rise or hill of any kind could ever be perceived, either to the west, the north, on the east; the whole region around appeared to be one vast, low, and dreary waste. One very high and prominent summit in this range, I have named Mount Serle; it is situated in 30 degrees 30 minutes south latitude, and about 139 degrees 10 minutes east longitude, and is the first point from which I obtained a view of Lake Torrens to the eastward of Flinders range, and discovered that I was hemmed in on every side by a barrier it was impossible to pass. I had now no alternative left me, but to conduct my party back to Mount Arden, and then decide what steps I should adopt to carry out the objects of the expedition. It was evident, that to avoid Lake Torrens, and the low desert by which it is surrounded, I must go very far either to the east or to the west before again attempting to penetrate to the north.

“My party had already been upwards of three months absent from Adelaide, and our provisions were too much reduced to admit of our renewing the expedition in either direction, without first obtaining additional supplies. The two following were therefore the only plans which appeared feasible to me, or likely to promote the intentions of the colonists, and effect the examination of the northern interior: —

“First — To move my party to the southward, to endeavour to procure supplies from the nearest stations north of Adelaide, and then, by crossing to the Darling, to trace that river up until I found high land leading to the north-west.

“Secondly — To cross over to Streaky Bay, send from thence to Port Lincoln for supplies, and then follow the line of coast to the westward, until I met with a tract of country practicable to the north. To the first of these plans were many objections; amongst the principal ones, were, the very unfavourable accounts given both by Captain Sturt, and Major Mitchell, of the country to the west of the Darling River — the fact of Captain Sturt’s having found the waters of that river salt during a continued ride of many days — the numerous tribes of natives likely to be met with, and the very small party I should have with me; lastly, the course of the river itself, which trending so much to the eastward, would take us from, rather than towards the centre of this Continent. On the other hand, by crossing to the westward, I should have to encounter a country which I knew to be all but destitute of water, and to consist, for a very great distance, of barren sandy ridges and low lands, covered by an almost impenetrable scrub, at a season, too, when but little rain could be expected, and the heat would, in all probability, be intense; still, of the two, the latter appeared to me the least objectionable, as we should at least be going towards the point we wished to reach, and through a country as yet quite unknown.

“After mature and anxious consideration, therefore, I decided upon adopting it, hoping that my decision may meet with the approbation of the Committee.

“Previous to our arrival at Mount Arden, we experienced very showery weather for some days, (otherwise we could not have attempted a passage to the westward); and as there were no longer any apprehensions of water being found on the route to Streaky Bay, I sent two of my teams across upon our old tracks, in charge of my overseer, whilst I conducted the third myself, in company with Mr. Scott, direct to Port Lincoln, to procure the supplies we required. In crossing from Mount Arden, towards Port Lincoln, we travelled generally through a low barren country, densely covered by brush, among which were scattered, at considerable intervals, a few small patches of grass, with here and there some rocky elevations; in the latter, we were usually able to procure water for ourselves and horses, until we arrived at the districts already explored, in traversing which we passed (to the N. E. of Port Lincoln) some rich, well watered valleys, bounded by a considerable extent of grassy hills, well adopted for sheep or cattle, arriving at Port Lincoln on the 3rd of October. As a line of route from Adelaide for the emigration of stock, the course we followed, though it cannot be called a good one, is perfectly practicable in the winter season; and I have no doubt, when the country becomes better known, the present track might be considerably improved upon, and both grass and water obtained in greater abundance.

“I regret extremely to acquaint you, that on the morning of the 9th September, one of the police horses (called “Grey Paddy”) kindly lent to the Expedition by His Excellency the Governor, was found with his leg broken, apparently from the kick of another horse during the night, and I was obliged to order him to be shot in consequence. With this exception, no serious accident has occurred, and the whole of the party are in the enjoyment of good health and spirits. As the Expedition will still be absent, in all probability, upwards of five months, I have availed myself of a kind offer from Dr. Harvey, to send his boat over to Adelaide, and have sent Mr. Scott to receive any instructions his Excellency the Governor, or the Committee, may wish to give relative to our future proceedings; and immediately Mr. S. returns, I shall hurry up to Streaky Bay with the supplies, and at once move on to the westward, my overseer being now engaged in preparing for our forcing a passage through the scrub, to the north-west of Streaky Bay, as soon as we arrive there with the remainder of the party.

“I have the honour to be, Sir, “Your obedient servant, “EDW. JOHN EYRE.”

“The Chairman of the Committee for promoting the Northern Expedition.”

From the 9th to the 22nd of October, I was occupied a good deal at the camp, having only one man and a native boy to attend to the tent, the horses and the sheep, so that I was in a great measure confined at home, occasionally only making short excursions to the town to superintend the preparation of a large supply of horse-shoes, or visiting the stations of some of the nearest country settlers. I had lately bought a kangaroo dog, from the captain of an American whaler, and in these rambles had frequent opportunities of trying my new purchase, both after emus and kangaroos, but he was quite useless for hunting either, and did little credit to the honesty of the person who sold him to me, and who had asked and received a high price, in consideration of the animal being, as he assured me, of a better description than ordinary. Of the natives of the district I saw nothing whatever; the death of young Hawson, and the subsequent scouring of the country by police, had driven them away from the occupied parts, and forced them to the fastnesses of the hills, or to the scrubs; I was, however, enabled by the kindness of Mr. Schurman, a German Missionary, stationed at Port Lincoln, to obtain a limited collection of words and phrases in the dialect of the district, and which I hoped might be of some use to me hereafter. Mr. Schurman has since published a copious vocabulary and grammar, of the language in use in this part of Australia.