Saturday, 28 December 1861: 5.
The Late Exploring Expedition
Yesterday morning was appointed for the presentation of an address of congratulation and sympathy from the East Collingwood Municipal Council to Mr John King, and accordingly some time before the appointed hour (eleven o'clock) the council chambers were filled by persons anxious to show, by their presence on the occasion, the interest they felt in the business of the morning.
That portion of the building; which is used for the bench of magistrates in the police jurisdiction was occupied by the chairman of the municipality, Mr John Noone (presiding) ; the three members for Collingwood, Messrs. Graham Berry, Don, and Edwards; Mr Brennend, chairman of the Fitzroy Municipality; several other members of the Municipal Councils of East Collingwood and Fitzroy, and the Hon Mr J P Falkner MLC.
The proceedings commenced by the chairman introducing Mr King to the meeting, and shortly afterwards he read and presented to him the following address:
The sole survivor of the Exploring Expedition which left the Depot, at Cooper's Creek on the 16th December, 1860, and reached the Gulf of Carpentaria on the 11th February, 1861, being the first party that bad succeeded in crossing the Continent of Australia.
Sir, The chairman and members of the Municipal Council of East Collingwood, on behalf of the inhabitants of that district, desire' to express to you their earnest congratulations for the success of your noble efforts, and sympathy for your sufferings, in the arduous and important duty to which you had devoted yourself - the exploration of the interior of this great continent. In doing so, the council would say that they have been deeply impressed with the evidence furnished by the notes left by your heroic leader and companions of your generous and self-sacrificing conduct in your attempts to aid and encourage them in the time of their misery and death; and they consider that such conduct has stamped you as being all that could be possibly wished and required as a companion under such circumstances, that of a devoted follower, and a true and faithful friend.
The council hope that the success which attended you in all your undertakings during a long and happy life, and that the honour and fame which you hare so deservedly acquired will continue to increase.
Signed on behalf of the council and inhabitants of East Collingwood,
John Noone, Chairman
Henry Booth, Town Clerk.
Dec. 16, 1861
The Chairman accompanied the presentation of the address by some hearty expressions of his individual feelings, as expressed generally in the address.
The Hon Mr Fawkner said be cordially joined in the address. He bad made inquiries into Mr King's former career, and found that in a former service in India he had been highly esteemed. He had, no doubt, been sustained in his arduous labours in the service of the Expedition by the prayers of his family, and by his own feelings of dependence on, and submission to, the will of Providence.
Mr Graham Berry, Mr Don, and Mr Edwards severally expressed their entire concurrence in the address ; and stated that they believed that Mr King had claims upon the country, which the country should recognise through a vote of the Legislature, that the future life of the only survivor of the heroes of the Expedition might be rendered happy and comfortable.
Mr Brennand, MP, also addressed Mr King and the meeting. Mr King, who was very warmly greeted on his introduction to the meeting, and appeared much gratified at his reception, read the following reply:
To the Chairman and Members of the Municipal Council of East Collingwood.
Gentlemen, The presentation of an ad dress of congratulation and sympathy from so. influential a municipality as that of East Collingwood to me, as the sole survivor of the Victorian Exploring Expedition, under the command of the late Mr Burke, is welcome to my heart. To have, under Providence, accomplished so perilous a task as that of crossing for the first time the continent of Australia is a cause of both thankfulness and wonder.
The presentation of one under such melancholy circumstances as those which overtook the heroic Burke and his noble-hearted companion Wills at Cooper's Creek, must be attributed solely to the interposition of a merciful Providence. To have been the instrument of preserving from destruction the invaluable notes and other memoranda of the Expedition, for the use of the Government and inhabitants of Victoria, is an honor of which I feel myself utterly unworthy but which, nevertheless, I much value, because they afford reliable information concerning the previously unknown character of the interior of the country lying between Cooper's Creek and Carpentaria, and evidence also of the self sacrificing conduct of Mr Burke and Messrs Wills and Gray, all of whom perished in the service of their Queen and country. To have merited so high a commendation as 'that of being a devoted follower and a true and faithful friend of so great and generous a man as the lamented Burke will be a source of satisfaction to me as long as I live.
Your hope also, in reference to my future life is peculiarly grateful to my feelings; at the same time, the honour and fame which appear to attach to my name are so interwoven with the misery and melancholy death of my late leader Mr Burke, and of those of his friend Mr Wills and attendant Gray, as to cause a feeling of depression on rather than of exultation on receiving the congratulations of my fellow colonists.
I beg sincerely to thank you, gentlemen, for your spontaneous acknowledgment of my services and for your very kind wishes for my future happiness (Loud cheers.).
The thanks of the meeting were voted to the Municipal Council for their having taken up the matter; and after three cheers and three more for Mr Fawkner, the meeting closed.