Hume was exceptionally fitted for the work of exploration at this particular juncture in colonial history. Born and reared in the land, he was well competent to judge justly of its merits and demerits; his opinion was not likely to be tainted by the prejudices formed and nourished in other and different climes. The history of Australian exploration was then a statement of hasty conclusions, formed perhaps under certain climatic circumstances to be falsified on a subsequent visit when the conditions were radically different. In Hume’s case, there was no ill-founded conclusion of the availability of the freshly-discovered district. The journey just recorded at once added to the British Colonial Empire millions of acres of arable land watered by never-failing rivers, with a climate and altitude calculated to foster the growth of almost every species of temperate fruit or grain.
It is to be regretted that the narration of an expedition fraught with so much benefit to the young colony, and executed with so much courage, endurance, and facility of resource should be marred by any discordant note. But friendly and genial relations were endangered by the presence of two independent leaders. Divided authority here, as it nearly always does, caused petty and undignified squabbles, which were in later days elaborated into unseemly paper conflict. It is painful if somewhat amusing to read of the acrid disputes as to the course, under the very shadow of the majestic Australian Alps whose solitude had only then been first disturbed by white men; and how, on agreeing to separate and divide the outfit, it was proposed to cut the only tent in two, and how the one frying-pan was broken by both men pulling at it. Thomas Boyd, who was the only survivor of the party in 1883, and was then eighty-six years old, signed a document assigning to Hume the full credit of conducting the expedition to safety. Boyd was one of the most active members of the expedition, always to the front when there was any trying work to be done. He was the first white man to cross the Hume River, swimming over with the end of a line in his teeth.
After Hume’s return he lived for some time quietly on his farm, until the call of the wild drew him forth from his retirement to join Sturt in his first battle with the wilderness. His temporary association with that explorer will find its due place in the account of that expedition.* He died at Yass, near the scene of one of his early exploits.
[Footnote.] See Charles Sturt. 6.2. The Darling.
CHAPTER 5. ALLAN CUNNINGHAM.
[Illustration. Allan Cunningham.]
5.1. Coastal expeditions.