Excerpts – Roe

Excerpts from The Western Australian Explorations of John Septimus Roe 1829 – 1849

… we descended upon what appears from those elevations to be an extensive wooded plain, but which in reality is a succession of small valleys and intermediate risings that occupy the space of 20 miles in a northerly direction, being bounded at that distance by the woody range, called by the natives “Porōngurup” over and to the Ed of which the interior view is effectually intercepted by the lofty and picturesque mountains of “Tool-brun-up”, “Koo-kyunerup”, &c, rearing their conical and rugged summits to the height of 3000 feet above the horizon.

Page 62


With the exception of an occasional narrow belt of good loamy soil on the upper 5 or 6 miles we examined, the surface is stony & vegetation scrubby, the river winding through a country tolerably level, but perfectly useless. This seems to be the character applicable to the whole space between West Mount Barren and Stirling Range, with exception of narrow strips of grassy land on the rivers & in the valleys; such spots being almost invariably wooded.

Page 165


Much grass had existed in this vicinity, previous to the whole face of the country having been blackened and burnt up by general conflagration which had swept over it not more than a week since; but as scarcely a blade was now to be seen, & the sun was fast approaching the horizon without our being aware of the extent of the devastation, I deemed it most prudent for the sake of the horses, to retrace our steps 11⁄2 miles, where both water & grass had been found in the left bank, amidst a quantity of thick but somewhat coarse grass growing amongst white & York gums, dwarf casuarina, broom, wattles, nut grass & shady jam trees. A few hundred yds behind this grass was not so abundant. Plenty of good water was procured from an open pool in the river 300 yds above the camp & on digging where we halted, water oozed in at the depth of a foot, but it was so thick & muddy that the former was preferred.

Page 226


½ of a mile further N N E brought us to a narrow rocky glen into which our native tracked a young dog. [doorda] Here we halted, tethered our horses and descended to examine some caves in a narrow precipitous glen or ravine, the bottom of which was 20 feet below the usual level of the adjoining land and contained rich soil and luxuriant feed for cattle. Amongst the steep limestone rocks which formed the sides of the ravine the atmosphere had formed several caves which were nests of wallaby or small kangaroo and their natural enemy the native dog. These caves being the object of our visit to this part of the country, we searched the ravine closely for them as it wound about to the N N W and N W and W N W ₫, and on its N E side, close to a small pool of delicious clear cool water, found two of considerable size about ½ way up the rugged ascent, and another a few yards to the S W of them on the opposite side, which we resolved on exploring more minutely next day with additional means.

Page 344


The coal found today has a very ligneous appearance, & in some places was in this respect not perfectly formed, the woody fibres being still hard and strong encased in a crust of soft black coal. Bitumen was found in it, from the size of a pea to that of a goose egg. About 300 yards below this coal the shales seemed to be much disturbed in their direction, some dipping to SW & some to the southd, & the right bank of the river sloped steeply up a surface covered with loose quartz, almost resembling snow, partly embedded in the slaty shales. All above is scrubby & thick, but the river bed is in most places well grassed, & at this time has some holes of water in it that we were compelled to make use of for want of better.

Page 533


at 1 oclock I halted for the remainder of the day, to give both bipeds and quadrupeds a rest they greatly required. Indeed our dog was so sore footed he could scarcely follow us, & was continually howling for the relief we could not give him.

Page 545


… we passed over rocky hilly country for 1 mile, when the horses shewed evident weakness, sweated profusely, & with great difficulty surmounted some of the steepest of the rocky hills. We attribute it chiefly to their being more or less afflicted by eating the poisonous plant which is so profusely scattered over this country, & of which they are known to have cropt frequently as they passed along the road yesterday. The general belief that this poison does not fatally affect horses may perhaps be correct, but it is not totally harmless, or in this instance free from the charge of having produced the weakness of our horses.651 Took the precaution now of securing every horses head, to prevent more cropping by the roadside, & at 8.20 proceeded.

Page 578