The original journals of the field notes, from which the present narrative is compiled, were published, as each expedition ended, as parliamentary papers by the Government of the Colony of South Australia.
The journals of the first two expeditions, formed a small book, which was distributed mostly to the patrons who had subscribed to the fund for my second expedition. The account of the third, found its way into the South Australian Observer , while the records of the fourth and fifth journeys remained as parliamentary documents, the whole never having appeared together. Thus only fragments of the accounts of my wanderings became known; and though my name as an explorer has been heard of, both in Australia and England, yet very few people even in the Colonies are aware of what I have really done. Therefore it was thought that a work embodying the whole of my explorations might be acceptable to both English and Colonial readers.
Some years have been allowed to elapse since these journeys were commenced; but the facts are the same, and to those not mixed up in the adventures, the incidents as fresh as when they occurred.
Unavoidably, I have had to encounter a large area of desert country in the interior of the colonies of South Australia, and Western Australia, in my various wanderings; but I also discovered considerable tracts of lands watered and suitable for occupation.
It is not in accordance with my own feelings in regard to Australia that I am the chronicler of her poorer regions; and although an Englishman, Australia has no sincerer well-wisher; had it been otherwise, I could not have performed the work these volumes record. It has indeed been often a cause of regret that my lines of march should have led me away from the beautiful and fertile places upon Australia's shores, where our countrymen have made their homes.
On the subject of the wonderful resources of Australia I am not called upon to enlarge, and surely all who have heard her name must have heard also of her gold, copper, wool, wine, beef, mutton, wheat, timber, and other products; and if any other evidence were wanting to show what Australia really is, a visit to her cities, and an experience of her civilisation, not forgetting the great revenues of her different provinces, would dispel at once all previous inaccurate impressions of those who, never having seen, perhaps cannot believe in the existence of them.
In the course of this work my reader will easily discover to whom it is dedicated, without a more formal statement under such a heading. The preface, which may seem out of its place, is merely such to my own journeys. I thought it due to my readers and my predecessors in the Australian field of discovery, that I should give a rapid epitome (which may contain some minor errors) of what they had done, and which is here put forward by way of introduction.
Most of the illustrations, except one or two photographs, were originally from very rough sketches, or I might rather say scratches, of mine, improved upon by Mr. Val Prinsep, of Perth, Western Australia, who drew most of the plates referring to the camel expeditions, while those relating to the horse journeys were sketched by Mr. Woodhouse, Junr., of Melbourne; the whole, however, have undergone a process of reproduction at the hands of London artists.
To Mrs. Cashel Hoey, the well-known authoress and Australian correspondent, who revised and cleared my original manuscripts, I have to accord my most sincere thanks. To Mr. Henniker-Heaton, M.P., who appears to be the Imperial Member in the British Parliament for all Australia, I am under great obligations, he having introduced me to Mr. Marston, of the publishing firm who have produced these volumes. I also have to thank Messrs. Clowes and Sons for the masterly way in which they have printed this work. Also Messrs. Creed, Robinson, Fricker, and Symons, of the publishing staff. The maps have been reproduced by Weller, the well-known geographer.