He was accorded a generous public welcome on his return to Adelaide, and was subsequently appointed Police Magistrate on the Murray, where his inland experience and knowledge of native character were of great service. When Sturt started on his memorable trip to the centre of Australia, Eyre accompanied his old friend some distance. But his activities were exercised in other fields than those of Australian exploration during his after life. He was Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of New Munster in New Zealand under Sir George Grey from 1848 to 1853, when that colony was divided into two provinces. He was afterwards Governor-General of Jamaica, where the active and energetic measures he took to crush the insurrection of 1865 incited a storm of opposition against him in certain quarters, and he played a leading part in the great constitutional cases of Philips v. Eyre, and The Queen v. Eyre. He died at Steeple Aston, in Oxfordshire, in 1906.
[Map (Diagram). Supposed Extent and Formation of Lake Torrens in 1846.]
12.1. Lake Torrens pioneers and Horrocks.
It will be remembered that Eyre, in 1840, reached, after much labour, an elevation to the north-east, at the termination of the range which he had followed, and had named it Mount Hopeless. From the outlook from its summit he came to the conclusion that the lake was of the shape shown in the diagram, completely surrounding the northern portion of the new colony of South Australia. In fact, he formed a theory that the colony in far distant times had been an island, the low-lying flats to the east joining the plains west of the Darling. It was in 1843 that the Surveyor-General of South Australia, Captain Frome, undertook an expedition to determine the dimensions of this mysterious lake. He reached Mount Serle, and found the dry bed of a great lake to the eastward, as Eyre had described, but discovered that Eyre had made an error of thirty miles in longitude, placing it too far to the east. He got no further north. He thus confirmed the existence of a lake eastward of Lake Torrens (now Lake Frome), but achieved nothing to prove or disprove Eyre’s theory of their continuity. Prior to this the pioneers had spread settlement both east and west of Eyre’s track from Adelaide to the head of Spencer’s Gulf. Amongst these early leaders of civilisation in the central state are to be found the names of Hawker, Hughes, Campbell, Robinson, and Heywood. But unfortunately the details of their expeditions in search of grazing country have not been preserved.
[Illustration. John Ainsworth Horrocks.]
John Ainsworth Horrocks is one of those whose accidental death at the very outset of his career plunged his name into oblivion. Had he lived to climb to the summit of his ambition as an explorer, it would have been written large in Australian history. That he had some premonition of the conditions necessary to successful exploration to the west is shown by his having been the first to employ the camel as an aid to exploration. He took one with him on his last and fatal trip, and it is an example of fate’s cruel irony that the presence of this animal was inadvertently the cause of his death.