Barclay had been born in Lancashire, at Bury, on the 6th of January, 1845. He had entered the Royal Navy in 1860, and had been severely wounded on board H.M.S. Illustrious by a gun breaking loose when at target practice. He had emigrated to Tasmania in the seventies, and in 1877 had been appointed by the South Australian Government to explore the country lying between the line and the Queensland border, a notice of which occurs in the preceding pages.
The party, lightly equipped to be more effective, was absent from Oodnadatta from July 24th until December 5th 1904, and in that time accomplished much useful work in the face of great difficulties. On account of the great heat, the expedition had to resort to travelling by night and resting by day. The country was principally high sandy ridges, some so steep that it was not easy to find crossing-places. They had to sacrifice a lot of valuable stores, personal effects, and a valuable collection of native curios, all chiefly on account of the shortness of water.
By this date the whole of the central portion of Australia was known, and the greater part of it mapped; while all the permanently-watered country had been rapidly utilised by the pastoralists.
[Illustration. John Septimus Roe, First Surveyor-General of West Australia.]
17.1. ROE AND THE PIONEERS.
Whilst Sturt and kindred bold spirits had been painfully but surely piecing together the geographical puzzle of the south-east corner of the Australian continent, a similar struggle between man and Nature had commenced in the south-west. Here, Nature kept close her secrets with no less pertinacity than in the east; but, though the struggle was just as arduous, the environment was very different. Instead of rearing an unscalable barrier of gloomy mountains, Nature here showed a level front of sullen hostility. Nor did she lure the first explorers inland with a smiling face of welcome once the outworks had been forced, as she had drawn Evans when he reached the head-waters of the Macquarie and Lachlan. Beyond the sources of the western coastal streams, she fought silently for every eastward mile of vantage ground, spreading before the adventurous intruder the salt lake and the arid desert.
As far back as 1791, George Vancouver, a whilom middy of Cook’s, discovered and named King George’s Sound, when in command of H.M.S. Discovery. He formally took possession of the adjacent country, and remained there some days, making a careful survey of both the inner and outer harbours.
On the 9th of December, 1826, Sir Ralph Darling, then Governor of New South Wales, sent Major Lockyer, of the 57th, with a detachment of the 39th, a regiment intimately associated with the early settlement of Australia, to form a settlement at King George’s Sound, where they landed on the 25th of December of the same year. This settlement was established in order to forestall the French, who, according to rumour, intended to occupy the harbour and adjacent lands.