This blog provides information, stories, links and events relating to and promoting the history of the Wimmera district.
Any additional information, via Comments, is welcomed.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Overland 7

The final installment of William David Hamilton's overland journey from Bringalbert to Darwin.
Seldom any rain and always the scarcity of water till we arrived at Newcastle Waters where we encountered our first heavy rains. Travelling became impossible. A loaded pack horse would sink to its belly in mud. A forced halt was therefore made at this oasis till conditions improved.
We had now reached the better tracts of land but my uncle by this time was far too ill to think any longer of settlement. His one idea was to reach civilization.
Whilst fishing at the (K)Catherine river I had my first experience with a crocodile. I was sitting astride a fallen log which was two or three feet above the level of the river and jutted into mid-stream. Placidly I watched the fish swimming round but not touching my bait in the clear water. I happened to glance over one shoulder and there was a huge crocodile between 15 & 20 feet a yard or so from me, his horrible bloodshot eyes hungrily viewing my dangling leg.

Of course he could not reach it as I was so high above the water and in midstream but I was too panic stricken to reason. I dropped my line and bait, ran back along the log and breathlessly sprinted tour camp a few hundred yards off. A couple of days later he or another of his kind got one of our pack horses which by a mischance became separated from the mob while crossing the river.
On again from the Catherine River till finally we covered the last odd 200 miles and reached Darwin where our stoch(k) of horses, less than a dozen of whom had perished, was sold at the phenominal  (phenomenal) price of £50 a head. Darwin at that time was the headquarters of the Pine Creek gold rush.
Suffering endless discomforts and hardships we had traversed with stock over 2000 miles in a vicarious trek across the heart of the continent, almost from coast to coast, taking a little over a year to do the journey.
This to our knowledge was the first successful transcontinental drove ever undertaken.

William was born in New Zealand, he came to Victoria in 1867. He was 15 years old when he accompanied his uncle Thomas Gibson Hamilton (1844-1875) from Bringalbert to Darwin. He played station cricket with the team of aborigines trained and captained by his uncle and sent to England under Thomas Wentworth Wills and W.M. Hayman. He was one of the last surviving original members of the Victorian Mounted Rifles. He died at his home in Riversdale Rd Upper Hawthorn on 11th October 1934 leaving a widow and 5 daughters. He was interned in the Melbourne Cemetery in Carlton.
This story was published in 'The Age' newspaper 11.6.1932.

No comments:

Post a Comment