|Original minute books of the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria are held at:|
State Library of Victoria, MS13071; Boxes 2075/1, 2075/2, 207/3, 2088B/1.
Mostly bound volumes, manuscript, handwritten in ink.
Some missing, some incomplete, and many generally not in chronological order.
Philosophical Institute of Victoria:
President - Sir William Foster Stawell
Vice-President - Clement Hodgkinson C.E. & Dr Ferdinand Jakob Heinrich Mueller
Treasurer - Professor Martin Howy Irving
Honorary Secretary - Dr John Macadam M.D.
Monday, 4 January 1858.
A public meeting of the Exploration Committee was held at 8.00 pm at the Mechanic's Institute onF Collins-street.
Present: (6 of 24 members) Clarke (chair), Macadam (secretary), Bland, Hodgson, Hough and Iffla.
The meeting was very numerously attended.
A public meeting was held at the Mechanic's Institute in the evening. A large proportion of the Committee attended. The Hon. Captain Andrew Clarke was in the Chair and Dr John Macadam was Secretary. The first resolution was moved by Wilkie and seconded by Bonwick, supported by Blandowski:
That this meeting expresses its conviction of the great importance of exploring the interior of Australia, and deems it most desirable that an attempt should be made, at as early a period as practicable, to penetrate through Central Australia, from east to west, for the purpose of connecting the previous discoveries of Mitchell, Kennedy, Sturt, Gregory, and Grey. -Carried.
That this meeting recommends the formation of a light preliminary expedition, to explore the country between the Darling and the Victoria rivers with a view of opening up a line of communication between this colony and Central Australia, and for the purpose of selecting a suitable site for establishing a Depot, to serve as the basis of future explorations. -Carried.
That this meeting recognises the duty of the colonists of Victoria to cooperate with the Philosophical Institute in carrying out the scheme of exploration proposed. -Carried.
The fourth resolution was moved by by Mr Sinnett (not on the Committee) and seconded by Mortimer (also not a Committee member).
That a deputation, consisting of the Hon. Captain Clarke, MLA, the Hon. John Hodgson, MLC, Dr Wilkie, Dr Macadam, and R H Bland Esq, wait upon His Excellency to request his favorable consideration of the proposed expedition; and that they afterwards wait upon the Hon. W.C. Haines, the Chief Secretary, to submit to the Government the resolutions of this public meeting, to solicit their support of the important object contemplated by the Philosophical Institute, and to request that they would be pleased to place the sum of £2,500 on the Estimates in aid of the some. -Carried.
Age, Tuesday 5 January 1858: 5.
Last evening a meeting, very numerously attended, was held at the Mechanics Institution for the purpose of submitting certain resolutions proposed by the Philosophical Institute in reference to Australian exploration. Captain Clarke was called to the chair, and alluded to the probable melancholy fate of Leichhardt whilst engaged in exploring Western Australia. There could be no doubt that, irrespectively of science and the fate of Leichhardt, exploration would be most valuable in a commercial point of view. The Philosophical Institute had very properly taken up the subject, and the reasons which had induced them to do so would be explained. The benefits which must arise from the discovery of a large available tract of country would benefit every individual in it. The action of the institute would cease with the present movement. Private subscriptions would be solicited and then the Government would be asked for a grant of public money to assist the undertaking. It was unnecessary to read the report of the Institute as it had appeared in the public journals.
Dr Wilkie moved the first resolution:
That this meeting expresses its conviction of the great importance of exploring the Interior of Australia, and deems it most desirable that an attempt should be made, at as early a period as practicable, to penetrate through Central Australia from east to west, for the purpose of connecting the previous discoveries of Mitchell, Kennedy, Sturt, Gregory, and Grey.
He was delighted to see so large a meeting, as it had been thought at that season it would be impossible to get a meeting. He was still more gratified that Captain Clarke had taken the chair, the public being much indebted to that gentleman for his efforts to advance science. Captain Clarke had indeed suggested an exploration when holding the office of Surveyor-General.
Public sympathy must be enlisted or the efforts of the Institute must fail, and without public sympathy there was little hope of securing the co-operation of the legislature. The expedition fitted out by New South Wales originated in a public meeting held in September last. He gladly concurred in the correctness of the conclusion at which the Institute had arrived as stated in their report, He thought it necessary, however, that the exploration of Central Australia should be postponed for another year. The unexplored portion of Australia was stated by Mr Gregory to be, in length 1600, and in breadth 800 miles. The Geographical Society of London had devoted large sums to the exploration of Northern Australia by Mr Gregory. That exploration had cost ₤20,000. It was absolutely necessary that vessels should be employed. The commencement should be at the furthest portion of Eastern Australia. It was incumbent on Victoria to take some part in opening up this vast continent. New South Wales and South Australia had already done much towards it He admitted Victoria had been unjustly circumscribed in her northern frontier, and consequently had no selfish interest to gratify, but there were higher motives which should induce her to devote some of her vast wealth to the accomplishment of the objects in view. However discouraging might be Mr Gregory's news in reference to the exploration of some portions, it was nevertheless their duty to make an attempt. It was possible that some large river might yet be discovered on the west coast as there were still 800 miles unexplored. The result of Captain Sturt's exploration ought rather to stimulate to further exertion than discourage them, for it was remarkable how successful he was in finding water for so large a party. He attached little importance to opinions given of a country which had never been explored. He believed that Eyre's Creek took its rise from some large river in the north. The large salt lake discovered by Mr Gregory, occupying an area of thirty miles, showed that large quantities of water must be discharged into it at certain seasons of the year. Sir Thos. Mitchell had been most anxious to explore Australia from east to west, but it was necessary to obtain the sanction of the Home Government to the necessary expenditure, and in the interim Leichhardt commenced the task. Subsequently Sir Thos. Mitchell headed an exploring party to Central Australia, and discovered a large and beautiful river, which he named the Victoria River, and then left the expedition in charge of Mr Kennedy, and proceeded to England, stating that he had discovered a large river through Australia, from east to west. Mr Kennedy, however, discovered that Sir Thos. Mitchell was mistaken, and that the Victoria River branched to the south, and was lost in several minor branches. He believed it would be found that Eyre's Creek was merely a branch from a northern river, and that it would be found practicable to cross Australia from east to west. He trusted the expedition would be successful in finding some traces of Leichhardt and his party. The effort would be only a just tribute to a brave man who he feared had sacrificed his life in the cause of science.
Mr Bonwick seconded the motion, remarking that the subject was such a broad one that the difficulty was to know where to begin and where to end. The question was one which affected the future as well as the present generation. There could be no doubt that an exploration should take place, and the question then was, how was it to be undertaken. There were three points — the Victoria River, Sturt's Point, and, thirdly, Mr Gregory's. The difficulties to be apprehended were certainly considerable, but they should be undertaken, and would, he believed, be overcome. There was nothing to show that the interior was a desert, for unlike Arabia, there was fertility for a considerable distance in the outskirts where flocks had penetrated. Dr Livingstone, in exploring South Africa, after crossing a desert of 300 miles, came upon a beautiful and fertile country, although the natives were perfectly ignorant of its existence. This was encouragement for us to go on. Captain Sturt was not without hope that something might yet be done to lift the veil from Central Australia. The old man hoped that in another season the difficulties in reference to water might be overcome. There was a river in California which pursued a subterranean course of 200 miles in the sand. They should remember that they often came to a 'find' when they least expected it. Those who had been engaged in digging well knew this. Captain Sturt had found a beautiful river where only nine months previously he had stated there was nothing but a desert; and why should not another such fortunate discovery be made. Let them not heed difficulties too much, but dash on, although the object in view might seem a little far off.
The speaker took a rapid glance at what had already been done in reference to exploration, remarking that about thirty years ago Surveyor Oxley pronounced a tract of country a perfect desert and perfectly uninhabitable, yet that tract actually included the now beautiful colony of Victoria. The next surveyor of any note was Captain Sturt, who was the discoverer of the Darling River; the water at that time was salt, but a few years afterwards another explorer found the water was fresh. Both were right. Captain Sturt subsequently discovered the Murrumbidgee running into the Murray. The plains of Adelaide were afterwards discovered, and the colonisation of South Australia ensued. Major Mitchell discovered the plains of Western Victoria. The speaker next alluded to the discoveries of Messrs Hume and Hovell, which led to an attempt to settle at Western Port in 1826, which proved abortive. At the end of 1844 Captain Sturt left Adelaide, and was away till the middle of 1846. He went up the Murray and the Darling, and strange to say was recognised by the Natives as the man who had been there fifteen years before. He then alluded to the explorations of Count Shsleski, Sir Thos. Mitchell, Leichhardt, Kennedy, Eyre, and others, tracing their route upon a map, without which it would be rather difficult to render his statements intelligible. Oases had been found in the desert, and why not find a few more. He believed some day there would be a caravan route from Victoria to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and ultimately the trade of the Indian Ocean might be secured. He suggested that Cooper's Creek should be the basis of operation. Let the party be divided into two, one going round one way, and the other party the other, and then let incursions be made till another Cooper's Creek, so to speak, had been discovered, which might then be made the basis. He believed the whole of the colonies would co-operate in the exploration of that dark region, Central Australia.
A gentleman in the body of the hall, who had stated that he had for 30 years been engaged in exploration, remarked that Captain Sturt's policy was always to conciliate the natives, whilst the orders of Sir Thomas Mitchell, to his party, were to fire upon them. He trusted that instructions would be given to the exploring party in contemplation, to deal with the natives in a spirit of kindness and humanity. The British flag waved over New Zealand, and Australia; but how different the policy pursued in the two places. In New Zealand the Government purchased the land from the natives, because the natives there were warlike, but here the land was wrested from the natives, because they were docile and retiring. It was a shame to the people, the Parliament and the British Crown, that means had not been taken to save the lives of the unhappy natives, from whom the lands of this country had been taken.
Mr Blandowskisupported the resolution, remarking that in a short time settlers would have to go beyond the Darling, to the land between the Darling and the Victorian rivers. It was impossible, he thought, to do as was proposed by the Argus, to proceed from Cooper's Creek to the Victorian River. In summer season no party could cross for want of water, and in winter season, the soil being clay and sand, it would be equally impossible.
The resolution was put and carried unanimously.
Dr Mueller proposed the second resolution:
That this meeting recommends the formation of a light Preliminary Expedition, to explore the country between the Darling and the Victoria Divers, with a view of opening up a line of communication between this colony, and Central Australia, and for the purpose of selecting a suitable site for establishing a Depot, to serve as the basis of future explorations.
From the labors of Messrs. Sturt, Eyre and Gregory, the Institute had adopted this limitation as it were believed there were many deserts though many oases. The object was to gain as much information as possible in the first instance, with a view of carrying out more successfully the greater exploration. South Australia was engaged in exploring North-west of the Torrens, and it was cf the greatest consequence to learn the result of this exploration, particularly as the exploration of Mr Gregory had given rather a gloomy aspect to the western portion of Australia, inasmuch as for a thousand miles there was no river, a circumstance perhaps unparalleled in geography. There could be no doubt between the portions explored by Sir Thos. Mitchell and Mr Kennedy, and those explored by Capt. Sturt. There was a space 400 miles in length and 200 miles in breadth, and in this space there were probably many fine grazing spots. He was sure the Philosophical Institute would not be blamed for recommending a course which might throw some light upon the fate of the immortal Leichhardt He should be happy at the termination of the meeting, if desired, to give a brief account of the exploration of Mr Gregory, with which he [Mueller] had been connected.
Dr Macadam seconded the motion, and in doing so referred to the reasons which had induced the Philosophical Institute to bring forward the recommendations which they had made. He regretted the report had not been read, as it would have anticipated what had been stated by previous speakers. The exploration from east to west appeared so tremendous an undertaking that after hearing Mr Gregory's evidence the Institute had determined upon recommending such a course as would enable them to avail themselves of the Murray River for carriage, and that the party should start from the Darling towards the Victoria River. The party might be back in about five months, having reconnoitered for the purpose of determining the best site for a depot, and by that time Mr Gregory and Mr Babbage would probably have returned and be enabled to afford further valuable information.
The resolution was put and carried unanimously.
The Hon. Mr Hodgson, in a neat speech, proposed the third resolution:
That this meeting recognises the duty of the colonists of Victoria to co-operate with the Philosophical Institute in carrying out the scheme of exploration proposed.
Dr Eades seconded the resolution, and argued in favor of a preliminary expedition. There would be fearful responsibilities upon those who urged a gigantic exploration from east to west at once, but a preliminary expedition such as proposed, would not be an over hazardous one, whilst it would probably extend the commerce and advance the prosperity of the colony. Mr G. Scott Hough, and Mr Sizar Elliott, supported the resolution, which was carried unanimously.
Mr Frederick Sinnett moved the fourth resolution:
That a deputation, consisting of the Hon. Captain Clarke M.L.A.; the Hon. John Hodgson, M.L.C.; Dr Wilkie, Dr Macadam, and Mr H. Bland, Esq., wait upon His Excellency, to request his favorable consideration of the proposed expedition; and that they afterwards wait upon the Hon. W.C. Haines, the Chief Secretary, to submit to the Government the resolutions of this public meeting, to solicit their support of the important object contemplated by the Philosophical Institute, and to request that they would be pleased to place the sum of ₤2,500 on the Estimates in aid of the same.
The resolution was seconded by Mr Mortimer, and carried unanimously.
A vote of thinks to the Chairman terminated the proceedings.
Related archives: Argus,
Related archives: Argus, Tuesday 5 January 1858: 5
Related archives: Age, Wedensday 6 January 18658: 4
• Minutes of the meeting of the EC, 4 January 1858. ex1001-010, 1 p.
• Typescript resolutions on the exploration of Australia. ex1001-011, 1 p.
Thursday, 14 January 1858.
A deputation from this meeting met with Governor Barkly on the 14 January and asked for £2,500 for the project. Barkly expressed his support and the deputation then transmitted a copy of the resolutions to Chief Secretary Haines, but he was called out of town.
Argus, Friday 15 January 1858: 5
Yesterday, at half-past 12 o'clock, a deputation, consisting of the Hon Captain Clarke M.L.A.; the Hon John Hodgson, M.L.C.; Mr Bland, and Dr Macadam, waited upon His Excellency, at the Government House, to request his favorable consideration of the proposed expedition for the exploration of the interior; and also to lay before him certain resolutions passed at a meeting convened by the Philosophical Institute of Victoria, on the 4th January, 1858.
Captain Clarke stated to His Excellency that the present scheme originated with Dr Wilkie, and that the object of it was to make an exploration of the interior by a preliminary party, for the purpose of connecting the discoveries of Mitchell, Sturt, Kennedy, and others, and that it was thought advisable that the expedition should start from our own northern boundary. There would be merely a small party, and it was considered that the expenses would not be more than £2,500; the time occupied being about eight months. Supposing it met with the approbation and support of the Government, it was intended to leave the whole of the details in the hands of the Government. The projectors of this exploration were perfectly aware that they were going beyond the limits of their own territory; but they were in hopes that if the journey were successful, the whole of the traffic of the interior would be turned into a southern course, and therefore prove to be of considerable importance and benefit to this colony. The speaker, in conclusion, said that he hoped that the Government over which His Excellency at present presided, would be distinguished in the future by the efforts they had made in the exploration of the Australian Continent.
Dr Macadam then read the following resolutions, as passed at a meeting at the Mechanics' Institute on the 4th January; which were as follows :
1. That this meeting expresses its conviction of the great importance of exploring the interior of Australia, and deems it most desirable that an attempt should be made, at as early a period as practicable, to penetrate through Central Australia, from east to west for the purpose of connecting the previous discoveries of Mitchell, Kennedy, Sturt, Gregory, and Grey.
2. That this meeting recommends the formation of a light preliminary expedition, to explore the country between the Darling and the Victoria Rivers, with a view of opening up a line of communication between this colony and Central Australia, and for the purpose of selecting a suitable site for establish a depot, to serve as the bases of future exploration.
3. That this meeting recognises the duty of the colonists of Victoria to co-operate with the Philosophical Institute in carrying out the scheme of exploration proposed.
4. That a deputation, consisting of the Hon Captain Clarke M.L.A., the Hon John Hodgson M.L.C, Dr Wilkie, Dr Macadam, and R.H. Bland Esq., wait upon His Excellency, to request his favorable consideration of the proposed expedition: and that they afterwards wait upon the Hon W.C. Haines, the Chief Secretary, to submit to the Government the resolutions of this public meeting, to solicit their support of the important object contemplated by the Philosophical Institute, and to request that they would be pleased to place the sum of £2,500 on the Estimates in aid of the same.
His Excellency said that the object of the present deputation was one in which he took a very deep interest, and that he should be most happy to further, as far as lay in his power, the object that the deputation had in view. He imagined that, the amount asked for being so very small, there would be no difficulty in getting the assistance of the Government, although he considered it would have been better had the subject been mooted before the Estimates for the present year had been made up. He also considered that the view in which the deputation had put the question was one of so much advantage to the commercial community that the Government would not hesitate to assist them. His Excellency then stated that if the deputation thought it would be of any benefit to them he should be most happy to communicate with Mr Babbage, who was about to start from Adelaide on a similar expedition.
Mr Hodgson said that the reason the Institute had so long delayed applying to the Government for their assistance, was because they were desirous of ascertaining the actual expense that would be incurred.
Captain Clarke, in answer to His Excellency, stated that it was proposed to have a depot at the junction of the Victoria and Thomson Rivers.
Dr Macadam said that the Exploration Committee had arranged that if the Government granted the necessary funds, the appointment of the leader of the expedition would be subject to their approval; but that the Philosophical Institute would most willingly give every aid in carrying out the details of the undertaking.
After some further conversation, in which His Excellency expressed his sincerest wishes for the success of the exploration, the deputation withdrew.
Monday, 8 February 1858.
Meeting of the Exploration Committee (their seventh meeting). Present: (11 of 24 members) - Hodgson (chair), Acheson, Bleasdale, Blandowski, Bonwick, Clarke, Farwell, Iffla, Mackenna, Macadam, Mueller, Wilkie.
Captain Cadell informed the Committee that goods could not be forwarded to the Murray and Darling until spring.
Mr F. C. Christy offered the Committee carrier pigeons:
(see letter from Christie to Exploration Committee, Argus, Wednesday 10 February 1858: 7)
Iffla moved and Bonwick seconded the proposal that the Secretary of the Exploration Committee should communicate with Haines about the resolutions. When this deputation did meet with Haines, he claimed it was too late in the year to put the money on the Estimates.
The deputation also met with the Hon. Charles Hotson Ebden (1811-1867), (former M.L.A. for Brighton and former Treasurer for the Haines Ministry), who expressed his support but regretted that it would be inconvenient providing the funds.
• Minutes, 8 February 1858. ex1001-012, 3 p.
Wednesday, 17 February 1858.
(Eighth meeting) of the Exploration Committee.
At the meeting of the Exploration Committee, it was noted that the public and the press supported Victoria exploring the interior, but the Government had failed to support the proposal.
It was hoped that Augustus Charles Gregory would command the Victorian Expedition when he returned to the settled districts at the end of 1858.
• No archive records of this meeting.
Friday 2-Monday 5 April 1858
Holidays in Victoria: Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Day, Easter Monday.
Monday, 12 April 1858
The annual dinner of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria was held at Hockin's Hotel in Elizabeth-street [William Hockin's Commercial Hotel and Assembly Rooms on the north-west corner of Lonsdale and Elizabeth-streets], on which occasion the recently elected President, Sir W.F. Stawell, delivered his inaugural address. His Excellency the Governor [Barkly], Major-General Macarthur, and the whole of the Cabinet Ministers were present, as well as several members of both Houses of Legislature. At half-past 7 o'clock, about 130 gentlemen sat down to one of the most elegant repasts ever provided in this country.
Related archive: Argus, Tuesday 13 Apil 1858: 7
Argus, Thursday 27 May 1858: 6
Dr Wilkie read the Second Progress Report of the Exploration Committee appointed on the 22nd December, 1857. The report exhibited a summary of the proceedings of the Committee, which have already been chronicled from time to time, and expressed regret that the project of exploration had had to be abandoned, owing to the want of support from the late Government when applied to to sanction the placing of the sum of £2,500 on the Estimates for the purposes of an expedition. From the present Ministry more favorable results were anticipated, and the Committee trusted that the result of Mr Babbage's travels in South Australia, and of Mr Gregory's expedition, would be available at no distant day for the prosecution of the enterprise. The Committee also entertained the hope that Mr Gregory would be prevailed upon to undertake the command of the proposed future expedition.
• 'Reports of Committees'. Handwritten manuscript of the second report of the EC. 26 May 1858. ex1001-018, 9 p. [Not online]
Monday, 19 July 1858 - Telegram arrives from Adelaide reporting A.C. Gregory's arrival at Mount Hopeless.
Adelaide, 19 July, 1.00 p.m.
A letter was received on Friday from Mr Gregory, dated Mount Hopeless, 27th June. He reached the head of the Victoria River on April 17th, and tracked that river through Cooper's Creek into Lake Torrens, he found a crossing-place over Lake Torrens several miles wide and north-east of Mount Hopeless. He had with him 8 men and 39 horses, all well, and three months' rations left. He is now on his road to Adelaide.
(Gregory arrived in Adelaide on 22 July 1858).
Thursday, 19 August 1858.
Argus, Thursday 19 August 1858: 4
We are authorised to state that a gentleman of Melbourne [Ambrose Henry Spencer Kyte] proposes to give the sum of £1,000 towards the promotion of a judicious scheme of Australian exploration. With a modesty and unobtrusiveness which doubly enhance the value of his munificent offer, he desires that his name should remain unknown.
Tuesday, 31 August 1858.
A public meeting was held at the Mechanics Institute on Collins-street at 4 o'clock p.m. when it was agreed to form an additional Committee, The Exploration Fund Raising Committee. This Committee was ostensibly separate to the Philosophical Institute of Victoria and their Exploration Committee, yet six of the seven members of the Exploration Fund Raising Committee were also members of the Exploration Committee.
(Note: This meeting was reported in the press the following day, 1 September 1858, and subsequently the meeting is often referred to as having been held on this date.)
Argus, Wednesday, 1 September 1858: 4
At the public meeting, held at the Mechanics' Institute yesterday afternoon, Sir William Stawell, as President of the Philosophical Institute, announced the condition upon which the munificent offer of £1,000 had been made by its anonymous donor, viz., that a sum of £2,000 should be raised within a year from the present time by public subscription; and a Committee was thereupon nominated to carry out the donor's views, and to concert measures for giving them practical effect.
Dr Embling intimated, on behalf of the Government, that they were willing to place a sum of money on the Estimates adequate to the purchase and transport thither of twenty or thirty camels; and added that a military officer [Landells], who was about to proceed to India with horses, was willing to undertake the selection and shipment of the camels. Some months will necessarily elapse before these can arrive; but, in the meantime, the Committee will find ample employment for their time and energies in collecting the stipulated sum, in procuring the best and fullest information in reference to the season at which the expedition should set out, its outfit, its point of departure, the most eligible route to be adopted, and in studying those multifarious points of detail which incidentally arise while discussing and making provision for a scheme of exploration, to be conducted with novel means and under new conditions. The sum required to be raised by public subscription is so insignificant in comparison with the wealth of this colony and the magnitude of the object proposed to be accomplished, that we should imagine it will be speedily raised; while the limitation of the number of the Committee will have the effect of increasing the sense of responsibility felt by its individual constituents, and of impelling them to exercise to utmost caution and discretion in the expenditure of the funds entrusted to them. When the other colonies see that decisive action is being taken by Victoria in this matter, they will probably concert measures for combined effort, so as to extend the basis of operations, and multiply the chances of success. The honor of removing the veil of mystery which envelops the centre of this continent, and of opening up an overland communication between its southern and its northern shores, is one in which New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria may equally participate, while the material advantages to be ultimate derived from the geographical discoveries made by the explorers will chiefly accrue to the adjoining colonies. For this reason, and bearing in mind also the spirit of enterprise exhibited our neighbours in connection with the expeditions of Mr Gregory and of Mr Babbage, we may naturally calculate upon their zealous co-operation, and anticipate something like a federal movement for the attainment of a really national end. In all probability the time is not far distant when we shall wonder at the timidity or the apathy, the ignorance displayed in the selection of means or the shocking indifference exhibited reference to the importance of results, by which we were actuated prior to our solution of the problem which has so long perplexed us. A ghastly blank will no longer stare us in the face when we bend our eyes upon the map of this continent, and the track of the explorers winding over that white plain, may become one of the highways of commerce dotted with centres of population, and vital with the ebb and flow of a periodical tide of travellers.
Argus, Wednesday, 1 September 1858: 5
A public meeting was held at the Mechanics' Institution yesterday afternoon, to consider the best means of setting on foot a project for the exploration of Australia, and of raising funds for the purpose, in addition to £1,000 already tendered by a citizen of Melbourne. About 50 gentlemen were present.
Sir William Stawell, Chief Justice, and president of the Philosophical Institute, was called to the chair, and in opening the meeting, said their object that day was essentially business. They required actions, not words. The subject of the exploration of the interior, although of consequence to all, was not one of general interest. Those, however, who manifested an interest in it were in earnest; and he was assured that the members of that meeting would require no persuasion on his part to induce them to espouse the cause warmly. It was in itself a subject of vast importance; and, apart from that, there was the fact that none of those who had carefully perused the evidence connected with the loss of the indefatigable Leichhardt could make up their minds to surrender all hope of yet discovering him. The colony of Victoria was but a part of the continent of Australia, and its own peculiar interests would be advanced in proportion to the advancement of the whole. Their sister colonies, though possessing less wealth, had made the subject of Australian exploration a Government question, while this colony had done literally nothing. Some months ago, a Committee of the Philosophical Institute had been formed, with which he had had the honor of being connected. That Committee instituted inquiries as to the best method of prosecuting a search in the interior of the continent. The question considered was not the advisability of the search - for that was deemed to be settled - but the modus operandi. The Committee issued an elaborate report, but unfortunately other matters of a more exciting nature interposed, and no immediate effect was produced. The Institute had done all that it could for the time. At the present moment one experiment nearly affecting that question appeared to be approaching a practical solution. The advisability of employing camels in those explorations had long been mooted, and it was very probable that something tangible with regard to the introduction of that animal into this colony would shortly be accomplished. Attention had also been directed to the subject by the discoveries or non-discoveries - he cared not which - of the party which recently arrived in Adelaide. Just at this opportune period a citizen of Melbourne had authorised him to say that he would give £1,000 on condition of a further sum being raised by subscription. The name of this gentleman he was not at liberty to divulge, and he regretted it, as he thought it was always better in such cases that the donor should be publicly known. However, with a modesty which did him credit, he had declined to have his name brought forward; and that must be sufficient. He (the Chairman [Stawell]) hoped that a sum proportionate to the entire amount raised would be contributed by Government from the general revenue, and could see no reason why it should not be. Such subscriptions had hitherto been subsidised by Government in the proportion of 2 to 1, and he considered that it might with great justice be done on that occasion. If they raised by subscription £2,000 in addition to the money already so munificently contributed, with the assistance of Government they might have £8,000 or£10,000 in hand with which to prosecute the enterprise. It was well known that it was an expensive undertaking, and that nothing worthy the name of an exploration could be attempted with less than £5,000 or £6,000. He believed they might expect monetary assistance from any Administration, he cared not which, in proportion to the sum which they themselves raised. He had taken the liberty of calling them together that day, inclining strongly to the subject, as he had always done. Their first object, he thought, should be to collect an amount of money from the public generally to add to the thousand pounds and, for this purpose, he conceived that a Committee should be appointed. If they were earnest in their work, the expedition might be ready by the next season - that was to say, in January, February, or, at latest March. It was now September; let them exert themselves properly, and the thing would be achieved. It was quite apart from the object of that meeting to discuss the details of the expedition – whether camels should be used or not – whether it should start from this or from the north-western side. Those were matters which must be left for discussion in Committee. He would suggest, then, that a Committee be at once appointed, and the work commenced in earnest. It was well said that anything well begun was more than half done, and he thought that the gentleman who had offered the £1,000 had more than half accomplished the work.
Dr Mueller said that he should have hesitated in appearing before them were the subject of exploration not one of such deep interest to all, and had not the resolution he had to propose been so closely connected with it. He rose to move:
That this meeting has heard with high gratification of the gift, by a citizen of Melbourne, of £1,000 to the cause of Australian exploration, and while it desires to record its sense of the munificent liberality of the donor, it also pledges itself to use every effort to raise by public subscription the further sum of at least £2,000, to be applied to the same purpose.
He was certain that the rich colony of Victoria would cheerfully respond to that request, which was a most reasonable one, and that the Government would also heartily co-operate. Great efforts had already been made in Australia to reveal the secrets of the interior, and many lives had been sacrificed in the search. They would observe on the chart which was hanging to the wall, and which had been prepared by Mr Blandowski, what a space had yet to be explored ; and it was certainly the duty of the colonists to set about the work. It had been suggested that the aid of camels should be secured in making the explorations, and although in come respects objections had been raised against them, he was convinced that only by their assistance could the task be accomplished. The Committee of Management of the Zoological Gardens were very anxious to introduce the camel into the colony, and perhaps the plans for the exploration and for the introduction of the camels might to a certain extent be combined. Camels could be landed on the north-western coast much cheaper than if they were brought here, and it might be advisable on that account for the expedition to set out from that quarter. However, those were matters which, as Sir William Stawell had said, should be left to the consideration of Committee. He might, however, repeat that he did not think any exploration could be successfully prosecuted if camels were not used. It was by no means improbable that rivers of considerable size might yet be discovered. Who would think, standing at the mouth of the Murray, that such a large river lay behind? and so there might yet be found water-courses of great extent where there was no indication of such on the coast. In some parts, of course, where chains of hills ran along near the sea-board, rivers of great size could not be expected to occur. At all events it remained for them to map the interior of the country, and to find out where the oases in the desert were situated, so that caravans crossing the country might make for them. He did not despair of such a track being found, however scanty the productions upon it might prove. It remained for them to discover and classify those productions, and finally it remained for them to lift the veil which shrouded the fate of the unfortunate Leichhardt.
Mr Hodgson, M.L.C., had great pleasure seconding the motion, and, in so doing, felt that he need not waste time in urging upon the meeting the importance of the subject which had brought them together. He thought there would be little difficulty in collecting £2,000, and should himself be happy to devote some time to the work, and, if assisted by others, did not doubt of success. It was very desirable that no time should be lost, as it was necessary, he believed, that any expedition which might be formed, should start from here not later than February. He was a member of the Committee which was appointed some years ago, and which collected a great deal of Information. It was then considered that February was the latest month for the purpose. He suggested that a few individuals should map the town in sections and undertake to collect £20, £30, or £40 from each section. In this manner he conceived the money could be obtained in a short period. They all know from experience how backward persons were in contributing to such funds if they were not solicited. He considered that meeting a most satisfactory one, bearing in mind the description of such meetings generally in Melbourne. He trusted all present would assist in furthering the desired object. Thee motion was carried unanimously.
Mr [William Henry] Hull [MLC Melbourne Central] moved the second resolution which provided that a Committee of five should be appointed to carry out the objects of the meeting. He said that it had been observed by Sir R. Macdonnell that in all probability a highly-productive land, with a healthy climate, existed in the centre of the continent, and there certainly was no reason for a contrary belief, since they found oases of considerable extent In the midst of the deserts of Africa. There was one observation he desired to make in respect to the proposed expedition, and that was that, whether they employed camels or not, they must employ men whose physical and mental character fitted them for the arduous duty they undertook. To enforce this fact on the meeting he might read a letter bearing on the subject, and which Dr Leichhardt had addressed to him in 1847. He would omit the names:
Sydney, the 29th November, 1847.
My dear Sir, I received your kind note, accompanied by two copies of your pamphlet on the aborigines, and an enclosed letter to Mr. --, which I immediately forwarded. A fortnight ago your answer to my letter, with a letter addressed to Mr.--, reached me safely. I was sorry to learn that Mr. -- was not near enough to have a prompt communication with him. Mr.-- tells me, however, in a note I received with the last Moreton Bay steamer, that Mr.--'s situation will not allow him to join me. I have, consequently, enlisted another person in his stead. After various discussions with my friends and with men whose advice I am most willing to follow, I have determined on forming an entirely new party, and on not even taking Mr.--, who will have ample time to employ himself in the Moreton Bay brushes. I wish to take men who have been living in the bush, who have attended to stock, and who would be strong enough not to require any assistance in the drudgery of loading from myself. Mr. -- would be deficient in the two last points; but the principal objection which my friends press upon me is that Mr.-- did not act with more decision on my last journey; and did not communicate those facts he mentioned to me after the expedition was over when they were going on, and when I had a chance of guarding against them. Some wore so discreditable, so much to the dishonor of the expedition, that no well-regulated and well-principled mind could have ever concealed them.
Believe me ever to be, my dear Sir,
Most sincerely yours,
I shall leave Sydney next week for Darling Downs.
He had other letters, in which that matter was more particularly referred to, but it was sufficiently evident from that how important it was that the men should be strong in body temperate in all their habits, and of most determined mind.
Mr James Smith, in seconding the motion observed that it was most disgraceful to them as British colonists, that they should occupy that territory for so long a time and know so little of it. It reminded him of the policy adopted by the mariners of the olden time, before the mariners' compass was discovered, who used to hug the shore and dare not for their lives venture out into the open ocean. It was derogatory to their character that they should cling thus pertinaciously to the fringes of the land, and be unable to summon sufficient energy to penetrate the interior. He trusted the present movement would receive general support, and agreed with Mr Hodgson that a canvass on a systematic plan should be instituted. He had always found the public of this colony very willing to contribute to subscriptions for patriotic purposes; but, at the same time, he observed that they required a little gentle dunning previously.
Dr Embling supported the resolution, and, alluding to the introduction of camels into the colony, said that the Government had made arrangements with a gentleman in that room, by which they would be enabled to transmit horses to India and receive in return two or three dozen camels. He believed that by this arrangement the camels would be here in ten months' time. It was safer to bring them to Melbourne, to the jetty, than to land them on the north-western side of Australia, when they would have to be conveyed through the surf to the shore. The Chief Secretary and Attorney-General had authorised him to give that information to the meeting. He believed he might also say that the Government would not hesitate to propose a vote of £3,000 or £4,000 for the purposes of exploration; and if £2,000 could be raised by subscription, in addition to the £1,000 already given, there would be ample money for the work. He agreed with the last speaker that it was shameful they should occupy portions of that country nearly a century and yet have so little to boast of in the shape of exploration. He hoped they would have an expedition ready to start by the next season.
Mr John Cairns said that previously to that movement commencing a plan had been suggested for gaining subscriptions from persons both here and in New South Wales. It was proposed that each subscriber of two guineas should receive full reports of the proceedings, and at least two views of spots visited by the expedition. In this way it was conceived that about 2,500 subscribers might be secured. He threw out the hint for the consideration of any Committee which might be appointed. Dr Brett said that he had had the honor of an interview with the Chief Secretary, and had spoken to him on the subject of the introduction of the camel here. He had spent some time in India, and from the observations which he had made he should strongly recommend that the Shootur Suwwarie, or cavalry camel, should be obtained. This animal was trained to trot, and could travel, with a single rider, 150 miles in a day. He believed that in Australian explorations it would be found invaluable.
Mr Wilkinson suggested an addition to the resolution before the meeting providing that any vacancy occurring in the Committee should be filled up by the subscribers. Mr [Francis] Murphy (the Speaker [of the Legislative Assembly]) said that the whole scheme would require some alterations, in consequence of the new light which had been thrown on the subject by Dr Embling. If such a large grant were to be made by the Government, they would have to make arrangements for their Committee to co-operate with the Government in the matter. He suggested that the Committee should be considered merely as a preliminary one. He desired to know if Dr Embling had direct authority for making his announcement. Dr Embling said that he was specially desired to express to the meeting that it was the intention of the Government to propose a grant of £3,000 or £4,000 to assist in exploring the interior. The Government were merely acting in accordance with the wish of the Assembly as expressed on the subject. Mr O'Shanassy had distinctly stated his intention to him (Dr Embling).
The Chairman [Stawell] advised the meeting not to be content with relying on Governments, but to set about the work themselves. He had had some experience in the matter, and he assured them there was much to be done before the money from Government could reach their hands. As yet they only knew that Government had determined to obtain the camels. It might, or might not, be their intention to place some of them at the disposal of the Exploration Committee on their arrival. He expressed a hope that if a grant of money were made from the general revenue in aid of the Exploration fund, it should be expended under the auspices of private citizens, rather than officers appointed by Government. Some further amendments were suggested in the resolution which was eventually carried, as follows:
That a Committee, consisting or not more than five members, be now appointed, whose duty shall be to set on foot a public subscription towards the cause of Australian exploration, to take charge of and administer the amount so subscribed, together with above-mentioned sum of £1000, and also to co-operate with the Government in the expenditure of any grant which may be voted by the Legislature to promote the thorough exploration of the interior of the Australian continent. The Committee shall from time to time issue to the public a report of their proceedings, and, after the funds so entrusted to them shall have been fully administered, publish a duly-audited statement. Any vacancy in this body, whatever cause occasioned, shall be filled up by a meeting of subscribers.
Mr [Francis] Murphy said it was difficult to place their hands on a number of gentlemen willing to incur the great labor involved in the work of the Committee. The names which he was about to propose he was not responsible for, they had been handed to him, but he felt assured that they were those of gentlemen possessing the requisite energy, ability and scientific knowledge. He moved that the following gentlemen form the Committee:
Mr Wilkinson seconded the motion, remarking that the gentlemen composing the Committee would have to devote a far larger amount of time to the business they undertook than was the case in ordinary Commlttee-work. He assumed that those five gentlemen had signified their assent, and were prepared to give the necessary labor and attention required in carrying out so important a scheme, and one of so protracted a nature; for it would most probably extend over 18 months or two years. Assuming this, he had great pleasure in seconding the motion.
Dr Macadam proposed that Dr Wilkie's name should be added to the Committee, and alluded to his labors on the former Exploration Committee. Mr James Smith seconded the motion, and expressed a desire that Dr Wilkie's name might be substituted for his own. Mr Hodgson was opposed to this, as he had confidence in Mr Smith's ability, and believed he would be a useful member of the Committee. He thought, however, that Dr Wilkie's name might be added, and that Dr Macadam might be appointed Hon. Secretary to the Committee - a post which be had filled so ably on the last occasion. Mr Hull said that he would have liked to have proposed the "Great Unknown" on the Committee - the gentleman who had sub-scribed so munificent a donation. The Chairman [Stawell] said they must be content to leave that gentleman in the retirement which he appeared to desire. (A person In the body of the room, who appeared to be partially intoxicated, created some disturbance by crying out that "it was all gammon", "there was no thousand pounds," &c., but was speedily silenced by an angry call to order from the meeting generally.)
It was decided after some discussion that Dr Wilkie should be appointed Hon. Treasurer, and Dr Macadam Hon. Secretary to the Committee. A desire was expressed that the last resolution should be rescinded, and the number of the Committee increased, so as to enable the two last-named gentlemen to vote. Dr Macadam said that he should be happy to act as Secretary without voting on the Committee, and the matter was allowed to drop.
The motion as amended by the introduction of the names and offices as above stated was then carried.
Dr Murphy could not allow the meeting to separate without moving a vote of thanks to their unknown friend for the handsome and noble manner in which he had made his donation. The motion was carried by acclamation.
Mr Hodgson was then moved into the chair, and a vote of thanks was passed to Sir Wm. Stawell for having presided on that occasion. Sir Wm. Stawell, in acknowledging the compliment, said that he was debarred from taking part in any public movement connected with politics, and felt, therefore, the greater pleasure in assisting in one like the present, and in advancing In every way in his power the interests of the colony, which was now his home. The meeting then separated.
Related archive: Age, 1 September 1858: 5
Rumours about the Donor's identity:
Ovens and Murray Advertiser
About sixty gentlemen interested in the exploration of the interior, met to-day, the Chief Justice Sir William F. Stawell presiding. Mr W. Hull moved, and Mr Smith seconded that a Committee be appointed to procure subscriptions, control the funds, and have the general management of an expedition. The following gentlemen were, in accordance with the foregoing resolution, elected a committee: Messrs Hodgson. Mueller, McCoy, Smith, and the Donor of the £1,000, who, it is rumored, is Mr Edward Wilson, of the Argus. Dr Macadam was appointed Secretary, and Dr Wilkie Treasurer.
Age, Friday 3 September 1858: 4-5
At the Exploration meeting held on Tuesday last, the chairman, Sir W. Stawell, withheld the name of the gentleman whose liberal offer of a donation of £1,000 for carrying out the object of the meeting, has recently been so much talked about. The correspondent of the Geelong Advertiser, however, affects no such reserve, but lets the secret out, if indeed a matter which has been known to many persons for some time can properly be termed a 'secret' - 'Whatever idea', says the writer above mentioned, 'may be entertained of the possibility of accomplishing the object in view, there is reason to doubt whether the primary conditions upon which the superstructure is to be based will be carried out. It was so superlatively ridiculous for Sir W. Stawell to profess secrecy regarding the donor, since it is a matter of notoriety who the 'Great Unknown' really is, that it is no wonder there should be some people sceptical enough to cry 'Gammon !' and doubt the philanthropy of this individual, who, whilst committing his secret to Sir Wm. Stawell, took care to enlighten a couple of hundreds respecting the course he had taken.
Mr Edward Wilson, who is absent from the colony, and has been so for several months, perhaps instructed Sir W. Stawell to explain why it is this munificent offer was not divulged at an earlier period, or whether it was not clothed with certain conditions that, to Sir Wm. Stawell, but not to Mr Edward Wilson, may appear to be realised. Mr Edward Wilson's public career has not many admirers, and I feel convinced that the main reason why this apparent secrecy has been observed is, that the very name of the donor would act as a counterpoise to the benevolence he displays. It has already done so, and will continue to do so, as the name of the giver of this 'good gift' becomes extended.'
Argus, Saturday 4 September 1858: 5
To the Editor of 'The Argus',
Sir, I observe in this day's Age that the Melbourne correspondent of the Geelong Advertiser has been making a fool of himself in regard to my subscription of £1,000 towards the Exploration Fund. In writing the word 'fool', I mean it in its literal sense, for surely no person but a fool would make strictures on the spontaneous offer of any one yet in this case this busybody does it where the donor wishes to be anonymous. Why this scandal-monger should import Mr Edward Wilson's name into the subject. I am quite at a loss to conceive, for certainly I never once in my life spoke to that gentleman on the subject; nor is there, Mr Editor, an individual in Victoria, save yourself and Sir W. Stawell, who knows me in connection with my donation.
In giving this certainly large sum, I looked for but one stipulation, and I think a not unreasonable one - viz., that my fellow-colonists should raise double the amount. Surely if, as an unknown subscriber, I am liable to be thus attacked by the vicious, how unenviable must my position have been, had I allowed my name to appear? I would remark to 'Mr Correspondent', that my principal reason for withholding my name from the public is simply to protect myself from this impertinent curiosity and rude intrusion of such men as the "Advertiser's" penny-a-liner appears to be. That my intentions are sincere, I have only to remark that my cheque is in the hands of Sir W. Stawell, with instructions to hand it over to the Committee when the sum stipulated for shall be collected.
In concluding, I would remark that every penny of my donation has been earned by
the sweat of my brow, and that my proudest thought is that one sprung from the working class may have started a subject which, if successful, will assuredly benefit future generations; and if unsuccessful, I shall have the
consolation of knowing that I contributed to a good cause from out of the abundance
gathered in the land of my adoption.
Yours, 'The Donor' [Ambrose Henry Spencer Kyte], September 3.
Bendigo Advertiser, Monday 6 September 1858: 3
'The Donor' of the £1,000 for exploration, in the Argus, denies that his name is Edward Wilson, and states that no one in the colony except Sir W. Stawell and the Editor of the Argus [Wilson] knows who he is.
Mount Alexander Mail, Friday 10 September 1858: 5
A writer in the Argus of Saturday, who signs himself "The Donor", denies that Edward Wilson Esq. is the subscriber of the £1,000 for Australian Exploration. Our readers perhaps are not curious on the matter, but if they are, the following clue may perhaps unravel the mystery. The letter signed "The Donor" bears unmistakable evidence of coining from the pen of Mr James Smith. This gentleman seconded one of the motions at the meeting; was appointed one of the committee; and is an intimate with the supposed "Unknown" and whatever name appears on the cheque it is plain this gentleman knows something about it.
Bendigo Advertiser, Friday 17 September 1858: 3
Mr Jas. Smith, in a letter to the Geelong Daily News, denies that he is the donor of the L.1000 to the Exploration Fund.
[Thursday, 2 / Friday 3 ?] September 1858.
The Exploration Committee of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria met to consider the public meeting held to elect the Exploration Fund Raising Committee.
Monday, 6 September 1858.
First meeting of a Committee [Exploration Fund (Raising) Committee] on the subject of Australian Exploration, held in the Mechanics Institute.
Present: Stawell, Hodgson, Mueller, McCoy, Smith, Macadam.
• Page 1. Minutes of the first meeting of the EFC, 6 September 1858.
• Minutes of the meeting of the EFC, 13 September 1858.
• [Another copy of] Minutes of the meeting of the EFC, 13 September 1858.
• p. 9. Minutes of the EFC meeting, 13 September 1858.
• Extract of minutes of the meeting of the EFC, 6 September 1858, signed Stawell and dated 13 September 1858. ex1001-014, 1 p. [Not online]
• p. 9. Minutes of the EFC meeting, 14 September 1858.
• p. 9. Minutes of the EFC meeting, 20 September 1858.
• p. 11. Minutes of the EFC meeting, 27 September 1858.
Tuesday, 28 September 1858.
Argus, Tuesday 28 September 1858: 3
The Exploration Committee have addressed a circular to the magistrates and chairmen of Municipal Councils throughout the colony, inviting their co-operation in collecting subscriptions in the various districts. We understand that the next step will be to appoint collectors to canvas the City of Melbourne.
Wednesday, 29 September 1858.
Ordinary Monthly Meeting of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria in the hall of the Mechanics' Institution. Sir William Stawell, the President, arrived at the usual hour of meeting, half past 7 o'clock, when only nine other members were present.
Dr Wilkie, as Chairman of the Exploration Committee presented and moved the Third Progress Report of the Exploration Committee which detailed the establishment of the Exploration Fund Raising Committee. The motion was seconded by Dr Iffla and carried unanimously.
The Secretary [Macadam] also read the report of the Exploration Fund Committee. Dr Wilkie said that as yet he had received no subscriptions to the exploration fund, but that the machinery for collecting subscriptions had not yet been put in place.
Argus, Thursday 30 September 1858: 5
Dr Wilkie, Chairman of the Exploration Committee of the Institute, brought up the third report of the Committee. The report suggested that the Government should be urged to place the sum of £5,000 on the Estimates, to enable the Committee to co-perate with the Exploration Fund Committee in the discovery of the interior.
Dr Macadam also read a circular issued by the Exploration Fund Committee. In reply to Dr Iffla, Dr Wilkie stated that the Exploration Committee had not yet been able to organise subscriptlon-lists. The report was then adopted. Dr Iffla suggested that the Press should devote renewed attention to the subject of the exploration of the interior.
The outcome of the deputation's meeting with Stawell was reported.
The Committee met to consider the public meeting held to elect the Exploration Fund Raising Committee.
It was agreed that a deputation, consisting of Wilkie, Bland and Macadam should seek an interview with Stawell, the chairman of the Exploration Fund Raising Committee, and draw his attention to the existence of the Exploration Committee of the Philosophical Institute, and to the present position of the Institute in relation to Australian Exploration.
Age, Wednesday 29 September 1858: 4
The Exploration Fund Committee have issued their circular, which appears in another column, inviting the co-operation of all interested in the object for which they were appointed. It is proposed to raise £2,000 by subscription, and the Government have promised to place on the estimates a sum for the purchase of twenty or thirty camels, to be employed in the exploration of the Interior. The subject will be considered this evening at the meeting of the Philosophical Institute.
An ordinary meeting of the members of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria was held last evening, in the hall of the Mechanics' Institution. Sir William Stawell, the President, arrived at the usual hour of meeting, half past 7 o'clock, when only nine other members were present.
The Exploration Committee: Dr Wilkie, Chairman of the Exploration Committee of the Institute, brought up the third report of the Committee. The report suggested that the Government should be urged to place the sum of £5,000 on the Estimates, to enable the Committee to co-operate with the Exploration Fund Committee in the discovery of the interior.
Dr Iffla suggested that the pPress should devote renewed attention to the subject of the exploration of the interior.
Related archive: Age, Friday 1 October 1858: 4
Article calling for the introduction of the camel into Victoria; criticising Babbage and Gregory's expeditions; noting South Australia's efforts to extend her borders north and north-west by applying to the Home Government for annexation of that part of New South Wales.
• Minutes, 30 September 1858. ex1001-013, 2 p.
Note: Between October and December 1858 the Exploration Committee and the Exploration Fund Raising Committee held a number of joint meetings.
Municipal Councils discussing the circular.
The circular sent out to Municipal Councils in Victoria was discussed at several council meetings in October 1858 and various fund raising efforts were proposed. See:
- Mount Alexander Council: Mount Alexander Mail, Friday 8 October 1858: 5
- Western Municipal Council: The Ballarat Star, Thursday 14 April 1858: 2
- Chamber of Commerce: Argus, Wedensday 20 October 1858: 4
- Beechworth Council: Ovens and Murray Advertiser, Saturday 23 October 1858: 3
- Captain Harrison's half-crown collection: Mount Alexander Mail, Friday 22 October 1858: 3
- Public meeting in the Shamrock Hotel, Sandhurst: Bendigo Advertiser, Friday, 29 October 1858: 2
In Sandhurst, a Provisional Committee was appointed to cooperate with the Melbourne Committee, for the purpose of taking steps to promote an exploration of the interior of the country. They held public meetings in the Shamrock Hotel. See:
- Bendigo Advertiser, Friday, 29 October 1858: 2
- Bendigo Advertiser, Saturday 30 October 1858: 3
- Bendigo Advertiser, Wednesday 17 November 1858: 3
- Bendigo Advertiser, Wednesday 1 December 1858: 3
At a joint meeting of the Exploration Committee and the Exploration Fund Committee discussion arose as to whether the expedition should leave before the camels arrived.
Bleasdale moved: "That every preparation be made with the least possible delay for establishing depots and placing the expedition in such a state that it may be able to undertake the unknown country on the arrival of the camels. - Passed unanimously.
There was a further discussion whether the expedition should be done by Victoria alone, or in conjunction with other governments (Weatherston p. 60A). "The meeting determined that the expedition be undertaken by the Colony of Victoria."
• Minutes of the meeting of the EFC, 11 October 1858.
• p. 13. Minutes of the EFC meeting, 11 October 1858.
Wednesday 20 October 1858.
Deputation meets O'Shanassy.
Argus, Thursday 21 October 1858: 5
Yesterday a deputation, consisting of members of the Philosophical Institute and of the Exploration Fund Committee, waited upon the Hon. the Chief Secretary [O'Shanassy], with the view of ascertaining what assistance the Government were disposed to afford towards supplementing the donation of £1,000 given by a private individual for the purposes of exploring the interior of the colony. The deputation was headed by the Hon. John Hodgson M.L.C., who in introducing the subject stated that £1,000 had been promised by a gentleman on condition that £2,000 more were subscribed. The Committee had not the least doubt but that such a sum would be easily obtained, but they were desirous of knowing whether it was the intention of the Government to assist the Fund, by coming forward and liberally supplementing the amount subscribed.
Mr O'Shanassy stated that he would inform the gentlemen that the Government, in anticipation of an application being made to them, had placed upon the Estimates the sum of £3,000 for exploring purposes, the chief part of which sum, if not the whole, would be devoted to the purchase of camels, and a gentleman had been already sent to India, and was only waiting for the sum placed on the Estimates to be voted by the House, to proceed at once with the purchase of them. The course taken by the Government had not been decided upon hastily, but several inquiries had been made of the Zoological and other societies as to the expediency of it or otherwise; and even supposing the camels were purchased, several months would necessarily elapse before the expedition could set out. He was very glad to see that so much interest was taken in the matter, but felt that more of the geographical nature of the country should be ascertained than was at present placed before them. He should be very glad indeed if the amount set down on the Estimates would meet the requirements of the Committee, and he thought there would be no necessity for placing any farther sum on the Estimates in order to encourage the public to subscribe. He should be most happy to hear what had hitherto been done.
Mr Hodgson suggested that it would be a great encouragement to the public if the Government would supplement the amount subscribed.
Mr O'Shanassy thought that was already done, by the Government having placed a sum of £3,000 on the Estimates for the purchase of camels.
Mr Hodgson stated that the sum of £3,000 would not be sufficient, if the purchase of camels were included in it. In his opinion, the public would be the more ready to subscribe if they saw that their subscriptions would be supplemented by the Government.
Mr O'Shanassy stated that as yet no estimate had been made by the Government of the expense that would be incurred, as they had delayed doing so until after the arrival of the camels. He should be very glad if the gentlemen present could give him some idea of the probable cost of the expedition, taking into consideration the outfit, and what had been provided by the Government. Several offers had already been made to the Government by gentlemen willing to undertake the expedition, but they had considered that the wisest course would be to have the camels landed first.
Dr Wilkie observed, with reference to the cost, that he believed from £6,000 to £8,000 would be required, in addition to camels being provided by the Government. The Committee had been promised £1,000 if they could collect £2,000, and they looked to the Government to give them £4,000 or £5,000 more. He had received a letter from Mr Hopgood, of Echuca, promising to give £100, and he had no doubt that many other gentlemen would follow his example, as it would be quite impossible, in his opinion, to carry out the expedition satisfactorily without, at least, £7,000 or £8,000. There was only one month in which the expedition could start, namely, March; and they ought to be prepared by that time, as if they were not another year would be lost.
Mr O'Shanassy stated that it would be impossible to have the camels landed by next March.
Dr Wilkie said that the Committee had intended that the expedition should start without camels.
Mr O'Shanassy stated that if the Parliament were assured that the expedition could be fitted out at once without camels, it would rest with them to decide what should be done: but the view taken by the Government had been that, as no satisfactory results had attended expeditions where mules and pack-horses had been alone employed, it would be much better to wait for the camels to arrive.
Professor McCoy stated that there was one point which he thought it would be as well to ascertain, namely, the extent to which the Committee might expect the co-operation of the Government; for, as camels would be very expensive, it was highly important for the Committee in applying for subscriptions to know whether the money voted by the Government would be spent in conjunction with the amount collected by the Committee. He might also remark that if it was supposed that the expedition was merely for geographical discoveries, a certain lukewarmness might be shown by the mercantile classes, but if they were informed that one of the principal objects of it was to find the safest route for laying down telegraphic communication to British India, and from thence to London, it would be a great argument in its favor, and would most probably induce the House to increase the sum at present placed on the Estimates for providing the beasts alone. It would, he thought, be very desirable to state that all the sums would be spent in connection with each other.
Mr O'Shanassy stated that the present was the first interview with the Government on the subject of exploration, and he should have been very glad if he had been provided by the Committee with a written statement of their views on it, in order that he might have laid such communication before his colleagues; it certainly was a national affair, but at the same time many persons might be found willing to contribute towards it in the neighboring colonies.
Dr Mueller stated that the last expedition of Mr Gregory had cost nearly £3,000, although every thing had been done on the most economical scale. It had been proved that the work of exploration could not be performed without the aid of camels; and therefore he thought it would not be prudent to start on any expedition without them. Still, however, camels should not be used exclusively, as it might be seen by Mr Gregory's report that there were vast plains which were sometimes flooded, and over which camels could not travel; consequently it would not be wise to depend upon that class of animal alone. In order to lift the veil from over the fate of the unfortunate Leichhardt, it would be necessary that the party should be divided into several small parties, for which camels would be required. Last year, when the subject of fitting out an exploring-party was brought before Her Majesty's Government, it was proposed to confine its operations to the River Darling; but as Mr Gregory had since gone over that ground, the necessary information had been obtained from him, and therefore they could extend the exploration much farther. The cost of the expedition fitted out by Government had been £21,000, and that was at the lowest rate of wages, and after a most favorable sale of many horses that had been brought back.
Mr O'Shanassy asked Dr Mueller whether he considered the expedition should start before the camels arrived? Dr Mueller stated that until short marches could be fixed a swift kind of camel should be used, In order to ascertain how fixed depots could be established at the end of every hundred miles. The part of Australia proposed to be explored consisted principally of timber and low, scrubby land, consequently making it very difficult to preserve any marks by which exploring parties might be guided, and which would be most useful to caravans hereafter. Were a direct line of communication established between Bonwick's, Warburton's, Sturt's, or Mitchell's farthest points, that country would soon be travelled - if those points could only be ascertained; but for that purpose a considerable number of pack-horses would be required, and also a large party - sufficiently so to allow of it being divided. It was impossible for Mr Gregory to do more than he had done, for he could not at the present time know whether he was to the right or the left of the track of Dr Leichhardt, as that could only be ascertained by sending parties to traverse the whole of the country.
Dr Macadam said he thought it would be unnecessary to detain Mr O'Shanassy by entering into any details, and it would be better to adopt the suggestion that had been thrown out by that gentleman - that the Committee should furnish him with their views on the subject in such a form that he might place them before his colleagues. There was one point, however, he should like to be informal upon - namely, what position it was the intention of the Government to take in conducting the exploration, supposing that funds to the amount of £3,000 were subscribed; whether the Government would be inclined to nominate certain members of the Committee.
Mr O'Shanassy said the Government had intended to provide only the first element - namely, the camels; and, supposing there had been no extraneous aid, they had determined upon making some use of them, and therefore had postponed arriving at anything definite. The question was still an open one as to whether the Government should conduct the expedition solely, or in connection with the Committee, or extend a share in it to the neighboring colonies, but at present the Government had not done more than send a suitable agent to India to purchase camels.
The deputation then retired.
• Minutes of the meeting of the EFC, 25 October 1858.
• p. 15. Minutes of the EFC meeting, 25 October 1858.
A public meeting of the inhabitants of Collingwood was held yesterday evening at Wood's Hotel, Brunswick-street, to consider the possibility of constructing a tramway and telegraph line through the centre of the Australian Continent, to a point on the Victoria River, North Australia.
George Symons J.P. was in the chair. Embling was unable to attend. Councillor [Thomas] Rae proposed the second resolution:
That in the opinion of this meeting the proposed new overland route, by tramway to the shores of the Victoria River, and thence by ocean steamers to Suez, presents the most feasible plan for securing a steady and speedy means of transit, and that a petition from this meeting be forwarded to the Legislative Assembly, praying the members to take into their favorable consideration any motion which may be submitted to their honorable House proposing such a route.
Mr Manuel said: The cost of the tramway would be about £614. 4s. per mile, and the outlay for making bridges, &c., about £2,000 per mile. He thought the whole of the proposed plan could be carried out from Melbourne to the mouth of the Victoria River for little more than three millions of money ... also that telegraph wires be laid down, as the exploring party progressed ... He had calculated the cost of the telegraph at about £100 per mile.
Mr Manuel then proposed, and Mr Pritchard seconded, the following resolution: "That this meeting stand adjourned till this day week, and that Dr Embling be invited to attend and explain more fully the notice of motion before the Legislative Assembly". This resolution was carried unanimously.
[Melbourne to Victoria River in a straight line ~3,000km]
Related archives: Age, Tuesday 26 October 1858: 5
Monday 1 November 1858.
The adjourned public meeting of the inhabitants of Collingwood was reconvened this evening at Wood's Hotel, Brunswick-street, to further consider the possibility of constructing a tramway and telegraph line through the centre of the Australian Continent, to a point on the Victoria River, North Australia. There were about 100 persons present.
Mr Jamison was in the chair and the meeting was addressed by Mr R Manuel and Dr Thomas Embling.
Related archives: Age, Tuesday 2 November 1858: 5
Related archives: Argus, Tuesday 2 November 1858: 5
Related archives: South Australian Register, Tuesday 2 November 1858: 2
Saturday, 6 November 1858.
Letter from John Dunmore Lang, Sydney, disagreeing with Embling and suggesting that a better route for the proposed expedition be to the Gulf of Carpentaria rather than the Victoria River, as "the point at which there is the shortest distance from navigable water on the south to navigable water on the north, is at the great bend of the Murray River, and from thence to the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria, in latitude 17°S [~1800 km].
Related archives: Argus, Friday 12 November 1858: 5
Embling replied the following month.
Related archives: Argus, Tuesday 28 December 1858: 6
Monday, 8 November 1858.
The Exploration Fund Raising Committee held a public meeting at 3.00 pm at the Mechanic's Institute.
Present: Stawell (chair).
It was agreed that meetings would be held three times a week [Monday, Thursday & Saturday], and that meetings would be advertised in the press.
Age, 9 November 1858: 5
Yesterday afternoon the Exploration Fund Committee held a public meeting in the Mechanics' Institution, for the purpose of increasing the number of the members of committee, with a view to facilitate the collection of subscriptions to the fund. His Honor Sir W.F. Stawell, president, occupied the chair.
The Chairman said that the object of the meeting was simply to increase the number of the present members of committee, so that a sufficient sum of money might be collected to carry on the development of the country. He thought that after a sufficient amount of money had been collected, it would be then time enough for the contributors to decide how it should be expended. He thought that a larger committee would be the moans of exerting a greater amount of interest than at present existed.
The Hon. John Hodgson said that, with a view to remedy the difficulty which had been experienced by so small a committee, he had succeeded in obtaining a list of names of gentlemen wishing to be added to the present existing committee. He had been met by every one with good feeling, and with an expression of anxiety to see the exploration of the country carried out. The first gentleman to whom he spoke of the subject had at once subscribed his name for the sum of £20. He thought that the mercantile community were particularly interested in the objects of the committee. The Hon. gentleman then read a large list of names of gentlemen of both Houses of Parliament and others wishing to be added to the present committee. He moved that the names be added to the committee. Rev. Mr Bleasdale seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously.
The Hon. J. Hodgson moved:
That meetings of the committee be held three times a week, and that the first meeting be held on Thursday next, the 11th inst., at two o'clock, in the Mechanics' Institute.
This resolution was seconded and carried unanimously. The Chairman said that notice of the meetings would be given in the newspapers.
After a vote of thanks had been given to the chairman, the meeting terminated.
Argus, Tuesday 9 November 1858: 4
Yesterday afternoon at 3 o'clock, a public meeting of citizens of Melbourne was held in the Mechanics' Institution, in connection with the fund collecting for the exploration of the interior, and for the purpose of adding to the members of the Committee.
Sir W.F. Stawell, President of the Institute, occupied the chair, and stated that it had been proposed to increase the numbers of the Committee, as the best means towards collecting a larger sum for incorporation with the fund for the discovery of the interior. The Committee wished to make such an effort as should not be unworthy of the colony. Delay would probably prove fatal to the enterprise; but after the collection should have been made they would certainly be in a position to come before the Government with a stronger claim. They wanted a larger committee, and it was to facilitate this object that the meeting had been convened.
The Hon. J. Hodgson, M.L.C., said, with a view to get over the difficulty which had been felt in adding a desirable number of names to the Committee, he had prepared a list of persons who, he thought, might be procured as co-operators, and with some of whom he had already communicated, and knew that they were willing to act. One gentleman to whom he had spoken had promised the sum of £20 towards the purposes of the Committee. The list comprised the members of both Houses of Parliament and a large number of the principle citizens. He begged leave to move that their names be added to the Committee, with power to add to their number.
The Rev. Mr Bleasdale seconded the resolution, which was carried. Mr Hodgson said it was proposed to hold meetings of the Committee three times a week, and moved that the first should take place on Thursday next at 2 o'clock, in the Mechanics' Institution.
The Chairman said it was most desirable that as many members as possible should attend the Committee meetings. The resolution was carried, and the proceedings terminated.
Wedesday, 10 November 1858.
The concluding ordinary meeting of the Philosophical Institute for the present session was held in the evening in the Hall of the Mechanics' Institute. The President, his Honor Sir W.F. Stawell occupied the chair. His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly was present. There was a very numerous attendance.
The Exploration of the Interior Committee was re-appointed.
Thursday, 11 November 1858.
Meeting of the Exploration Fund Raising Committee.
Present: Hodgson, Wilkie, Macadam.
[Absent: Stawell, Mueller, Smith, McCoy].
Also present were as Messrs. Becker, Thomas Dickson and Woods.
Collection books were issued to Committee members with the following memo typescript on the inside page:
Sir, I have the honor to inform you that, at a Public Meeting held in the Mechanic's Institution, on the 8th Inst., you were elected a Member of the above Committee, I enclose you a Collecting Book, and the Committee at a meeting held this day, considered it very desirable that each Member would use his every endeavour to secure the sum, at least, of Twenty-Five pounds.
Your aid in the accomplishment of this is earnestly requested.
The Committee will meet every Monday and Thursday at two o'clock pm precisely in the Mechanic's Institute, Collins-street, at which your presence, when convenient, would be esteemed a favor.
Subscriptions may be paid to the Hon Treasurer, viz: The Hon Dr Wilkie MLC, Collins-street, or placed to the credit of the Committee's account with the Bank of Victoria. The Committee will also be glad to receive Subscriptions at their meetings. In whatever way the sums be paid, a list of the contributors, for publication, is requested to be forwarded to _______.
• Minutes of the meeting of the EFC, 11 November 1858.
Circular to be distributed with collecting books to the enlarged Fund Committee, from the 'Central Committee'.
• p. 18. Minutes of the EFC meeting, 11 November 1858.
State Library of Victoria, MS13071, Subseries 11 : Papers Relating to the Exploration Fund Committee Set Up to Raise Funds for the Victorian Exploring Expedition, Box 2075/4a, Collecting booklets. Including 7 booklets recording the names of subscribers and the amount subscribed. 7 bound volumes.
• Volume 1 - Dr Wilkie - Number 118. ex1011-001
• Volume 2 - Dr Macadam - Number 108. ex1011-002
• Volume 3 - Dr Wilkie - Number 31. ex1011-003
• Volume 4 - James Anderson. ex1011-004
• Volume 5 - J Judd Esq - Number 10. ex1011-005
• Volume 6 - W O Hodgkinson - Number 16? ex1011-006
• Volume 7 - John O’Grady & W O Hodgkinson - Number 45. ex1011-007
Macadam read a letter from Captain Harrison stating that 200 citizens of Castlemaine had donated £25.
Dr Wilkie suggested the squatters should be written to. There were 800 squatters and 100 could be expected to contribute £10 each. Wilkie was asked to draw up a Circular by next Thursday and Stawell was asked to sign it (he was asked to sign the note so that it could be lithographed for printing).
As it was Mail Day, the Committee adjourned until the following Thursday.
(The RMSS Emu sailed from Port Phillip on Tuesday 16 November with mails for England. The RMSS Columbian with the English mails from 12 September was due in Melbourne 6 November, but had not yet arrived.)
• p. 19. Minutes of the EFC meeting, 13 November 1858.
Monday, 15 November 1858.
A joint meeting of the Exploration Committee and the Exploration Fund Raising Committee was held.
The joint meeting discussed drafting a statement for the Government asking for money to set up an expedition and advising the expedition waits for the arrival of the camels.
Wilkie thought the expedition could start in March 1859 before the camels arrived as it was too much to wait until March 1860. Bleasdale thought the depot could be established in 1859 ready for the great expedition of 1860.
Mueller thought the camels would arrive in May 1859 and moved, seconded by Macadam, that the expedition be delayed until the arrival of the camels and in the meantime the Committee raise funds and proceed with arrangements. Carried.
Rawlinson moved, seconded by Knaggs, that NSW and SA be invited to cooperate. Wilkie opposed this amendment and moved that the expedition be undertaken by the colony of Victoria. Mueller seconded this and was sure the Government would aid the expedition liberally. Iffla thought the wealthiest colony should be able and willing to carry out the expedition alone. Mackenna referred to the overland telegraph from India to Victoria and thought co-operation was advisable, Knaggs agreed although he did not expect other colonies to provide funds. Rawlinson thought they should provide funds, but withdrew his motion. Amendment carried.
• Minutes of the joint meeting of the EC and EFC, not dated. (c. November 1858)
• Minutes of the meeting, 15 November 1858.
The minutes of the meeting of the 11th inst. were read and confirmed.
There was a discussion about membership of the Committee and whether the six banks in Melbourne would contribute to the fund.
There being no other business, the meeting separated.
• Minutes of the meeting, 18 November 1858.
• p. 20. Minutes of the EFC meeting, 18 November 1858.
Saturday, 20 November 1858.
A meeting of the Exploration Fund Committee meeting was scheduled [but failed to make a quorum?]
Monday, 22 November 1858.
A meeting of the Exploration Fund Committee meeting was scheduled [but failed to make a quorum?]
Thursday, 25 November 1858.
A meeting of the Exploration Fund Committee meeting was scheduled [but failed to make a quorum?]
Friday, 26 November 1858.
Argus, Saturday 27 November 1858: 5
A deputation from the Committee of the Exploration Fund commenced the canvass of the city yesterday, and obtained contributions to the amount of £140.
Saturday, 27 November 1858.
A meeting of the Exploration Fund Committee meeting was scheduled [but failed to make a quorum?]
Monday, 29 November 1858.
Meeting of the Exploration Fund Raising Committee.
Present: Hodgson. No quorum.
It was decided that meetings would be held twice a week [Mondays & Thursdays at 2.00 pm].
Argus, Tuesday 30 November 1858: 4
A meeting of the Committee for this fund was to have been held yesterday, but, owing to there being no one in attendance except the Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Hodgson M.L.C., no business was transacted. It is much to be regretted that more members of the Committee, which numbers considerably over 100, do not think it worth while to attend the bi-weekly meetings for the purpose of stating what progress they have been making in obtaining subscriptions. Several of the last meetings have been allowed to lapse in consequence of the absence of a quorum. Perhaps this may have the effect of producing a larger attendance upon the next occasion.
Bendigo Advertiser, Thursday 2 December 1858: 2
The committee appointed for the purpose of collecting subscriptions to the Exploration Fund, meet every Monday and Thursday, in the Mechanics' Institute; but at the time appointed yesterday only the chairman, the Hon. J. Hodgson, M.L.C., was in attendance. In conjunction with Mr Kenny, he has succeeded in collecting nearly £200, and further sums have been promised. The other gentlemen who have undertaken the task are also making progress, and there is little doubt that the whole sum of £2,000 will very shortly be raised by their exertions.
Thursday, 2 December 1858.
A meeting of the Exploration Fund Committee meeting was scheduled [but failed to make a quorum?]
Bendigo Advertiser, Wednesday 8 December 1858: 2
Although there has not been a quorum of the Exploration Fund Committee at any of the last few meetings, the subscription is steadily progressing, though not with the rapidity that might have been expected. Amongst the subscriptions received yesterday was one from His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, who has given the liberal amount of £50 towards the undertaking. Mr Hopwood, of Echuca, has also displayed a proper sense of the object of the fund, by sending in a subscription to the amount of £100. With a few similar sums the Committee will soon see their way clear to realizing the necessary £2,000.
Monday 6 December 1858.
Argus, Monday 6 December 1858: 8
Exploration Fund Committee: The Central Committee will meet every Monday and Thursday, at 2 o'clock p.m. precisely. Subscriptions received at the meetings - John Macadam, M.D., Hon. Sec.
Wednesday, 8 December 1858.
Annual General Meeting of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria, held in the evening at the Mechanics Institute on Collins-street.
Argus, Thursday 9 December 1858: 7
The Exploration Committee of the institute has merged its efforts in those of a larger body, elected by the citizens of Melbourne for forwarding the same object. It is pleasing to record the support given by the Government, which has expressed an intention of procuring camels to aid.
Hodgson gave a report of the interview they had had with the Governor [Barkly], who had donated £50. There was other fund raising business, including appointing Joseph Wilkie and D.S. Campbell to canvass the Members of Parliament for donations, and the consideration of a letter suggesting employing a ship's company of lascars to traverse the interior.
The buslness transacted was of an unimportant nature, being chiefly confined to statements from various members of the Committee of the sums they had collected, and the perusal of a letter from Mr Francis J. Marsh, reoommonding that Chittagong Lascars should be employed in any exploring expedition into the interior, and urging the necessity of obtaining a class of camels similiar to those used in Egypt in preference to any other.
It was also decided, upon a motion of Dr Brownless, seconded by J[oseph] Wilkie Esq., M.L.A., that the Mayor of Geelong should be requested to call a public meeting in that town, for the purpose of furthering the objects of the Committee.
• p. 21. Minutes of the EFC meeting, 9 December 1858.
Monday, 13 December 1858.
A meeting of the Exploration Fund Committee meeting was scheduled for 2.00 pm at the Mechanics' Institute [but failed to make a quorum?]
Thursday, 16 December 1858.
A meeting of the Exploration Fund Committee meeting was scheduled for 2.00 pm at the Mechanics' Institute [but failed to make a quorum?]
Monday, 20 December 1858.
A meeting of the Exploration Fund Committee meeting was scheduled for 2.00 pm at the Mechanics' Institute [but failed to make a quorum?]
Thursday, 23 December 1858.
A meeting of the Exploration Fund Committee meeting was scheduled for 2.00 pm at the Mechanics' Institute [but failed to make a quorum?]
Monday 27 December 1858.
Holiday in Victoria.