A very few days demonstrated the effect of the governor’s address to these ignorant people. He received information, that considerable numbers of them were assembling for the purpose of proceeding in quest of the new settlement. He, therefore, directed a party of armed constables, to waylay and secure as many as they were able; which was effected, and sixteen were taken and put into confinement. On speaking to them the following day, they appeared to be totally ignorant whither they were going; but, observing in them as much obstinacy as ignorance, the governor justly conceived that he could not use an argument more likely to convince them of their misconduct, than by ordering a severe corporal punishment to be inflicted at Sydney on those who appeared to be the principals in this business; which was accordingly put in execution; seven of them receiving each two hundred lashes; the remainder, after being punished at Parramatta, were sent to hard labour and strictly looked after.
On enquiry it appeared, that this party was composed of several who were present when the magistrate addressed them by order of the governor; and that others had assembled from different farms, which were situated at a considerable distance from each other. The trouble taken to collect and mislead these people proved to him that it was the work of some wicked incendiary, who designed by this means to embarrass the public concerns of the colony, and thereby throw obstacles in the way of his government.
Being, on further consideration of the necessity of checking this spirit of emigration, determined to convince them, by their own experience, of the danger and difficulties which attended it, the governor caused four of the strongest and hardiest among them to be chosen by themselves, and properly prepared for a journey of discovery. They were to be accompanied by three men, upon whom the governor knew he could depend, and who were to lead them back, when fatigued and exhausted with their journey, over the very worst and most dangerous part of the country. This plan was no sooner settled, than the governor received information on which he could rely, that a party of these miscreants had concerted with the four deputies to meet them at a certain place, where they were to murder the persons intended to be their guides, possess themselves of their arms and provisions, and then pursue their own route. This diabolical scheme was counter-acted by the addition of four soldiers to the guides; and on the 14th they set off from Parramatta.
On the 24th the soldiers returned with three of the deputies, who, having gained the foot of the first mountains, were so completely sick of their journey, and of the prospect before them, that they requested to return with the soldiers, whose mission here terminated, being ordered to leave them at this place in the direction of the guides; one man only expressed a resolution to persevere, and penetrate further into the country, and was left with them for that purpose.