Before entering upon the account of the expedition sent to explore the interior of Australia, to which the following pages refer, it may perhaps be as well to advert briefly to the circumstances which led to the undertaking itself, that the public being fully in possession of the motives and inducements which led me, at a very great sacrifice of my private means, to engage in an exploration so hazardous and arduous, and informed of the degree of confidence reposed in me by those interested in the undertaking, and the sanguine hopes and high expectations that were formed as to the result, may be better able to judge how far that confidence was well placed, and how far my exertions were commensurate with the magnitude of the responsibility I had undertaken.
I have felt it the more necessary to allude to this subject now, because I was in some measure at the time instrumental in putting a stop to a contemplated expedition to the westward, and of thus unintentionally interfering with the employment of a personal friend of my own, than whom no one could have been more fitted to command an undertaking of the kind, from his amiable disposition, his extensive experience, and his general knowledge and acquirements.
Upon returning, about the middle of May 1840, from a visit to King George’s Sound and Swan River, I found public attention in Adelaide considerably engrossed with the subject of an overland communication between Southern and Western Australia. Captain Grey, now the Governor of South Australia, had called at Adelaide on his way to England from King George’s Sound, and by furnishing a great deal of interesting information relative to Western Australia, and pointing out the facilities that existed on its eastern frontier, as far as it was then known, for the entrance of stock from the Eastward, had called the attention of the flock–masters of the Colony to the importance of opening a communication between the two places, with a view to the extension of their pastoral interests. The notes of Captain Grey, referring to this subject, were published in the South Australian Register newspaper of the 28th March, 1840. On the 30th of the same month, a number of gentlemen, many of whom were owners of large flocks and herds, met together, for the purpose of taking the matter into consideration, and the result of this conference was the appointment of a Committee, whose duty it was to report upon the best means of accomplishing the object in view. On the 4th, 7th, and 9th of April other meetings were held, and the results published in the South Australian Register, of the 11th April, as follows:—