Sir George Grey Pioneer of Empire in Southern Lands
Government of South Australia — (Continued) — 1841-1845. ætat 29-33 — Chapter V — Bankruptcy to Prosperity
Government of South Australia
1841-1845. ætat 29-33
Bankruptcy to Prosperity
Colonel Gawler's emergency expenditure—Financial embarrassment—Captain Grey's reforms—Introduction of financial system, rigorous retrenchment, increased taxation —Grey's determination to drive the people from the town into the country—Sufferings of the colonists in 1842—Low-water mark—Turn of the tide in 1843—Triumph of Captain Grey's policy of closer settlement—Statistical table showing progress from 1840 to 1846—Causes by which the recovery of South Australia was effected—Imperial and local recognition of the value of Captain Grey's services.
Captain Grey was sent to South Australia mainly to retrieve the financial embarrassment in which the Colony had become involved by the expenditure of Colonel Gawler. With a revenue amounting to £30,000, and an additional allowance of £12,000, he had spent during the two years and seven months of his administration £320,000, and according to the most authentic records a sum of no less than £174,092 16s. 1½d. for his last year ending April 1841. By Act of Parliament the Commissioners, who originally undertook the settlement of the province, were empowered to borrow £200,000. When this was exhausted they applied to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for written recommendation to the Manager of the Bank of England to borrow £120,000 more; but the Chancellor declined, and the bank, dissatisfied with the security offered, refused to issue the loan. Thereupon Governor Gawler began to draw on the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, but page 51his bills were dishonoured and South Australia became bankrupt.
Captain Grey was sent out with the strictest instructions to make reductions on the spot, and to be scrupulously careful not to incur any "emergency" expenditure except under the most imperious necessity. At the same time it was hinted that, if in these respects instructions were faithfully complied with, the British Government would render substantial assistance by voting a sum of money in payment of the debts already incurred.
It would be unjust to pass over Governor Gawler's administration with a mere reference to figures which cry out so loudly against him. In point of fact his policy was not without some justification. He contended that a young colony needed an outfit: there were lands to be surveyed; bridges to be constructed; roads to be made; buildings to be erected; teams to be purchased; natives to be cared for and civilized. To attempt all this and meet the necessary expenses of administration with £12,000 in addition to the revenue derived from spirits and tobacco, was impossible. And it is only just to emphasize the fact that up to the time of his recall the Commissioners had written but little to discourage him in the prosecution of his ambitious schemes. Moreover it is clear from a perusal of the report of the Select Committee of Inquiry in 1839 that the Imperial authorities had made a mistake in allowing the proceeds of land sales in the Colony to be devoted exclusively to the immigration of labourers. That committee recommended that a portion should henceforth be used to defray such expenses as were more closely associated with page 52the purchase and alienation of land. This was acted upon by Captain Grey and confirmed in the "Waste Lands Act," which divided the profits of land sales into two parts: one half was to be devoted to immigration, the other to meet expenses of survey, roadmaking, building of bridges, and civilization of the aborigines. This relieved the ordinary revenue of many heavy charges, and in contemplating the reductions effected by Captain Grey it is necessary to bear this in mind.
But when all allowance has been made the conclusion is inevitable that Colonel Gawler's finance was a failure; and if the instructions from the Commissioners were indecisive, he drew bills on the Lords of the Treasury to pay outstanding accounts in defiance of explicit instructions from the Colonial Secretary. Moreover, the history of Captain Grey's administration shows clearly enough that Governor Gawler's extravagant expenditure was fostering a pernicious system of speculation in town land, which was undermining those habits of steady industry which constitute the best guarantee for the future welfare of any country. In the middle of 1843, when the crisis was past, Captain Grey addressed his Council in words which suggest a point of view very different from that which may be used in justification of Colonel Gawler. "I am convinced," he said, "that the government of a young community cannot exercise too cautiously a circumspection against being led into an unnecessary expenditure. I believe that the evil effects of such an expenditure both upon the prosperity and morality of a country are generally very much underrated." It was well for South Australia that in the most critical period of her page 53history a governor was sent whose convictions accorded so well with the tenor of his instructions.
His first duty was to establish some financial system. Whatever may be said in defence of Colonel Gawler's enterprise, nothing can be urged in extenuation of his financial methods. The power of approving accounts was delegated to the Colonial Secretary, Assistant Commissioner, and Suveyor-General, separately. When the Colony became bankrupt Captain Frome found himself personally liable for £1,271! The Imperial authorities relieved him, but pointed out that such proceedings were irregular. And they certainly tended to confusion; for each officer was acting without reference to any premeditated plan; no estimate for the appropriation of funds was prepared or passed for their guidance. At the first meeting of the Council after his arrival Captain Grey informed the members that they shared responsibility for the financial condition of the country. This appears to have taken them by surprise. They thanked him, but pointed out that no responsibility had hitherto been entrusted to them, and notwithstanding the protests of Colonel Gawler, who was still at Holdfast Bay, they declined to withdraw the statement. In the beginning of 1842 Grey was able to inform the Colonial Secretary that, in future, estimates would be published between June and August, showing the expenditure for each succeeding year; and public criticism through the daily press was encouraged.
Meantime the Governor had been busy reducing the expenditure for different branches of the administration. The Colonial Stores department was abolished on the grounds page 54that it was doing its work inefficiently and interfering with private enterprise. The Registrar-General receiving a salary of £400 a year was suspended, and this needed no justification, for there was no Registration Act. A saving of £500 was effected in the Post Office department, and the expenses incurred for the management of the gaol were reduced by £800. The duties of several offices were united, and the signal-master's department was abolished. The Government House expenditure was reduced with the rest; and at last, after several charges had been transferred to the land fund, the expenditure was reduced to £28,000. In making these reductions Captain Grey admitted that the heads of departments had more to do than hitherto, but denied that the efficiency of the government had been unduly impaired.
Retrenchment in the government departments was accompanied by increase in taxation. Hitherto the revenue had been derived mainly, and almost exclusively, from duties on the importation of wines, spirits, and tobacco. In 1842 other duties were imposed amounting to ten per cent, of their value on tea, sugar, coffee, flour, wheat, rice, porter, ale, cider, perry, and "all other goods, wares, and merchandise not being the produce of manufactures of the United Kingdom." By raising charges he tried to make several departments self-supporting. The fees charged on land grants nearly paid the expenses of the department from which they were issued; and, when a Registration Act was passed, the profits derived from the registration of deeds, wills, and judgments were sufficient to maintain the department. Further he did not dare to go, lest page 55the strain upon the Colony should reach the breaking point.
Had the revenue remained as it was in 1840 this would probably have been sufficient to enable him to comply with his instructions, but that was not to be expected, for the boom had passed, and Grey arrived just in time for the reaction. Under the stress of failure the demand for luxuries, and especially of spirits, rapidly diminished. Eminently desirable as this was from an ethical point of view, the immediate effects on a revenue derived mainly from spirits and tobacco were embarrassing. In 1840 there were seventy public-houses in Adelaide and the suburbs of Port Adelaide and Albert Town; in 1842 there were only forty-four! Again, although many burdens were henceforth to be borne by the proceeds of land sales, capital was "shy," for men did not care to invest their money in a colony that had failed financially, and might in a short time be abandoned. To make matters worse the assistance promised by the Imperial Government was delayed by the intervention of a parliamentary election in England. Grey had absolute faith in the resources of the soil, but time and labour were necessary before they could be transformed into actual capital.
Meantime there was a crisis, and money was absolutely necessary to meet immediate obligations. If only the outstanding debts in the Colony could be paid settlers would be able to employ men on productive works which would eventually create wealth enough not only to save the Colony from ruin, but also to lay the foundations of solid prosperity in the future. By the exercise of an extraordinary amount of endurance on the part of the Governor, page 56combined with a clear, statesmanlike grasp of the situation, these results were ultimately secured. But it was the immediate necessity that pressed, and money was the one thing needful. He borrowed £1,800 from the Commissariat Chest in Adelaide, and £3,000 from the Governor of New South Wales; but these sums were hopelessly inadequate, and the prospects of the Colony became more and more gloomy.
In clause 13 of the "Regulations for the Selection of Emigrant Labourers" it was set down that "on the arrival of immigrants in the Colony they will be received by an officer who will supply them with their immediate wants— and at all times give them employment on the Government Works if from any cause they should be unable to obtain it elsewhere." When Grey arrived in May 1841, there were 358 persons maintained by the Government. Because of his retrenchments and the falling off in trade the number rapidly increased, till on November 10 of the same year one-twelfth of the population, amounting to 2,427 persons, were dependent upon the Government for food, and the cost to the British taxpayer amounted to £25,000 a year. The Governor was well aware that the Imperial authorities would not endure this for long; and he saw clearly enough that if the finances of the Colony were to be restored the unemployed problem must be wrestled with and overcome. He was only twenty-nine years of age at the time he undertook the administration of South Australia, yet his grasp of the situation, his adoption of a far-seeing policy, and the endurance which he displayed in carrying it through would, even in the absence of other testimony, page 57be sufficient to prove that he was endowed with exceptional qualities of statesmanship.
Shortly after his arrival he informed the Colonial Secretary that the chief business of the people consisted in the transfer of land near the city, and this was true. In order to induce men to emigrate the original founders had pointed to other Colonies to show how the price of land in big towns had gone up. It was not stated as clearly as it should have been that this was dependent upon the patient development of the pastoral and agricultural industries in outlying districts. In Adelaide nearly all the citizens were infected with the fever of land speculation, and town blocks were bought and sold at "mania prices." The population concentrated there, till in 1840 there were 8,489 people in the municipality of Adelaide and not more than 14,610 in the whole province. The labouring immigrants were infected with the same feverish desire to become suddenly rich, and making the fullest use of the relief clause in the Regulations, contrived in various ways to remain in the city, where they bought town lots by paying instalments from savings out of their allowances.
Throughout his life Grey showed a decided aversion to the land speculator; but not less marked was his desire to establish the small farmers on the land. He now determined to put an end to this speculation by driving the people out of the city into the country in order to develop the resources of the soil.
An Emigration Board was appointed, and an inquiry instituted into the condition of those receiving relief. Many abuses were exposed. One individual in receipt of relief was page 58found to be in possession of four cows, and when pressed for an explanation informed the Board that they were the property of others. It turned out that one of the "others" was his own child of five months! Two labourers who had been in the country had left their employers because "higher wages could be obtained from the Government in Adelaide, and the work was not so hard." Grey determined to put an end to this.
On his arrival in the Colony men on relief works were paid 1s. 6d. a day in addition to a liberal ration for themselves and an extra allowance in proportion to the number of their families. He decided for the future that no relief should be given to any man who could get work elsewhere, and for the rest another scale of payment was substituted: a single man was to receive 1s. 2d. a day and no rations: a married man 12s. a week, and 2s. 6d. extra for each child. At once there was a great outcry. The labour papers became most violent in their denunciations of the Governor; he was burnt in effigy in the streets, and petitions for his recall were signed and circulated. Many of them contended that because of the relief clause in the Regulations they should be allowed to receive Government support even when they had declined to accept 3s. or even 5s. a day elsewhere. Feeling ran so high that several hundreds marched to Government House, and threatened the Governor with violence. He betrayed no sign of fear, but simply answered, "I am bound not to allow British subjects to starve; but I am also bound not to draw upon the British Treasury for funds to support any individual from starving so long as he can procure the means of subsistence elsewhere."page 59
The labourers' demands were unreasonable, and there were, no doubt, abuses; but there was genuine misery too. Reference to the Regulations under which they were brought out was not wholly unwarranted. It was stipulated that they were to be employed at "reduced wages" on relief works, and they could hardly have anticipated so great a reduction as Grey effected. Many of them who had been struggling to pay for their town lots by instalments were now forced to abandon them and lose the amounts which they had already paid. Many would have been glad to go to the country, but in 1841 there were only 6,722 acres under cultivation, and that did not absorb a tithe of those who were living on reduced pay. Harvesting brought temporary relief, but in 1842 the misery revived, and in June of that year the Register which had maintained an optimistic tone up to that time, declared in an editorial, "We have so often preached patience that we do not intend to inflict another discourse on a virtue now nearly exhausted." Soon afterwards there was a change of editors, and the paper fell into line with others which filled their columns with virulent and altogether unreasonable attacks on the Governor. But they made no impression upon him for the simple reason that he made it a rule never to read any paper, because, as he explained at a later time, the irritation caused by doing so would probably have impaired his usefulness as a public servant; and in that he was certainly right.
It was well that he did not, for troubles came thick and fast upon him in other ways. He was in a most unenviable position. While the labourers were denouncing him for reducing their allowances, the Colonial Secretary was rebuk-page 60ing him because he was too indulgent; and at last about the middle of 1842 he was commanded to communicate at once with the governors of New Zealand, Tasmania and Western Australia with a view to getting the labourers out of the Colony, provided their passages were paid. So near did the Colony of South Australia come to the brink of ruin! Happily in those days, as the South Australian Company advertised, the swiftest boats made the passage from England in 103 days! When that dispatch arrived in South Australia in the first quarter of 1843 the crisis was passed, and the Governor had written to the Colonial Office informing his superior officer that every able-bodied labourer in the province was fully employed. He also urged that emigration to South Australia should be revived.
It is necessary to consider certain matters that are liable to misrepresentation. The recovery of South Australia is generally attributed to the discovery of copper at the Kapunda and Burra Burra Mines. That is a mistake, and it is unfair to Captain Grey. There can be no doubt that the working of these mines had a highly beneficial effect upon the prospects of South Australia, and the revenue went up by leaps and bounds when they were in full swing. But that was two years after the finances of the Colony had been restored to a satisfactory condition. The export of copper had no very marked affect upon the revenue until the year 1845. It was in August 1843 that Lord John Russell, who was then Secretary of State for the Colonies, wrote a dispatch to Captain Grey recognizing in the most generous terms the success of his policy. "I have the satisfaction of assuring you that in reviewing your conduct of the financial affairs of page 61South Australia, the Lords Commissioners concur with myself in attaching great importance to your services, and are not less ready than I am to acknowledge the zeal, the ability and firmness which have characterized your efforts to retrieve the Colony from the embarrassment in which it was involved. These efforts have happily been attended at length with complete success." Coming from officials who were responsible for the disbursement of Imperial funds, this judgment deserves to carry the greatest weight.
But it was based upon reports furnished by the Governor, and it may therefore be necessary to refer to statistics in order to substantiate it. If by "complete success" it was meant that revenue and expenditure were equalized then the phrase is too strong. But before Captain Grey's arrival £12,000 a year had been regularly granted for emergencies, and although he was not encouraged to rely upon that amount over and above his revenue, it was not expected that he would pull through without some additional help till the results of his policy were apparent. How far that policy was successful may be judged by any one who cares to examine the following table of statistics compiled from the most authentic documents by the Colonial Secretary, Mr. A. M. Mundy, two years after Captain Grey had left the colony:—page 62 page 63
This table constitutes one of the most important records in the early history of South Australia, and it affords convincing evidence of the success of Captain Grey's policy at a time when the fortunes of the province hung trembling in the balance, when a mistake would have turned the scale decisively in favour of its abandonment.
The most vital of the statistics are those indicating the number of acres under cultivation and the amount of Government expenditure in each year. They show at a glance the effects of the positive as well as the negative aspects of the Governor's work; his determination to create capital by developing the resources of the soil, and his equally strong determination to reduce the expenses of government by which the Colony had become involved in bankruptcy.
It will be seen by reference to the figures in these columns that at the close of 1840, the year before his arrival, there were 2,503 acres of land under cultivation, while in 1843 there were 28,960. In 1840 the amount of Government expenditure was £169,966 19s. 5d., and in 1843 it was reduced to £29,842 16s. 6d. These figures go far to explain the beneficial results indicated throughout the table: the increase in the production of food, and diminution in the consumption of liquor; the rapid increase in the number of manufactories, and the rise in the value of exports from £15,650 to £66,160 17s. 2d.
They also account for a change in the distribution of population, which always has been and still is a matter of vital importance to Australia, where more than one-third of the population in each of the five states on the mainland is page 64concentrated in the respective capitals. In South Australia there are less than 350,000 people, and of these 167,000 reside in Adelaide and its suburbs. This condition of things is not without some advantages, but it augurs ill for the future development of the country, and one of the most serious difficulties which beset Australian statesmen at the present day is presented by the concentration of people in the cities.
But it was even more acute during Captain Grey's administration. In 1840 there were 14,610 people in the province of South Australia, and of these 8,439 were in Adelaide and 6,121 in the country! In 1843 the population amounted to 17,366, but there were 11,259 in the country and only 6,107 in the capital. The policy by which Captain Grey effected so desirable a change has already been described, and it is substantially the same as that for which progressive statesmen in Australia are battling to-day.
Thus in his first administration Grey brought to the test one of the convictions which was borne in upon him during his years of service in Ireland. There was no hesitation in the application of his views; he saw the end clearly, and worked steadily toward it. "My great object from the beginning," he declared, "was to give the labourers no inducement to remain in town, or upon public works; but to make them regard the obtaining a situation with a settler as a most desirable event." The results were eminently satisfactory. Speculation was checked, steady industry was fostered, the Colony was retrieved from financial embarrassment, and from that time the growth of wheat became one of the most important industries in South Australia. Grey was destined page 65to wage many a war against great landholders in various parts of the world; but he fought like a man who could appeal to the logic of facts, and had no reason to doubt the value of the principle on which his land legislation was based.
The conviction sank deeper because of the suffering involved. His retrenchments in the Government service were exceedingly unpopular; the reductions of wages and allowances in the town were made the occasions of bitter complaints against him, and he was blamed for the miseries that invariably accompany the arrest and correction of wasteful expenditure. Storms raged round him on all sides and the rough winds blew from all quarters; but he kept bravely on his course, making no outward sign, but suffering inwardly. Only when he had reached the haven did the young pilot venture to give utterance to his grief. Addressing the members of his Council in 1843 he said: "I can conscientiously declare that I have during the last two years been engaged in a constant warfare against expenditure, and that I have undergone on this account a degree of labour and anxiety which I would very unwillingly again encounter." How great this anxiety was may be judged to some extent from what has already been said about the threats of the labourers on the one hand, and the strictures of the Colonial Secretary on the other. Had he not carefully refrained from reading the newspapers his anxiety would have been greatly increased, for he was very sensitive to criticism. In August 1842, The Register declared that his recall would be hailed with joy by a united people; and the labour organ, after asserting that George Grey was an exceedingly troublesome page 66eyesore to the colonists of South Australia, went on to say: "So great is his unpopularity that we question if we were to accost every one we meet in the streets of Adelaide throughout the day that we should find half-a-dozen who would refuse to burn him in effigy."
But it would be a mistake to regard such utterances as a faithful record of public opinion even in the dreariest times. Opposition there was, and trickery too, not only among the labourers, but among those in high and responsible positions also. History is not the record of discreditable episodes, else these pages might tell of some few individuals who in the sordidness of their spirits tried to practise blackmail and fraud upon the Governor, and to frustrate his heroic attempts to administer the affairs of the Colony in the best interests of the general public. There are other reasons why they may be allowed to escape; but they richly deserve the historian's censure, in addition to the stinging remonstrances addressed to them by the Secretary of State through the Governor. Grey was too strong a man to be duped by such as they. Nor did their discreditable conduct undermine his faith in what he felt to be his greatest resource—the high moral tone of the community. "Considering the degree of excitement which prevailed, and the distress which my reductions caused, the conduct of the inhabitants of the Colony must on the whole be regarded as highly creditable to themselves." Such was his judgment when the strain was relaxed; and in the general estimate it was no stronger than justice demanded.
From the foundation of the Colony scrupulous care had been exercised to avoid the taint of convictism or depravity. "No person or persons convicted in any court of justice in page 67Great Britain or Ireland or elsewhere shall at any time or under any circumstances be transported to any place within these limits." So ran one clause in the original Act, and the language was repeated in the Act of 1842. The labourers who were selected in England under the Commissioners' regulations were to be "honest, sober, industrious and of good character." In their anxiety to protect themselves against the invasion of undesirables from other Colonies the Legislative Council passed an Act in 1839, "For the Apprehersion in South Australia of Convicts escaping from the neighbouring penal settlements." In 1845 Captain Grey informed the Colonial Secretary that "the strongest possible prejudice against a convict population has always existed here." In his great work on England in the Eighteenth Century Mr. Lecky says that "the true greatness and welfare of nations depend mainly on the amount of moral force that is generated within them." The history of South Australia from 1841-45 an illustration of the fact. It did appear in 1840 as though the mania for speculation would undermine the habits of steady industry that need the exercise of moral qualities to sustain them. But the rigorous discipline of misfortune brought out the powers that were latent in the people, and they rose to the occasion in a manner that left a lasting impression on the mind of the Governor. Half-a-century later, in 1894, Sir George Grey affirmed that "the calibre of the early settlers in South Australia gave me trust in the new Anglo-Saxondom in the Southern Hemisphere.... There was a worth, a sincerity, a true ring about them, which could not fail of great things." There can be no doubt that the most page 68important factor in the recovery of the Colony was the moral resource of the colonists themselves.
And next in order of importance must be placed the resources of the soil. It was hardly to be expected at a time when there was so much suffering, that justice would be done in the reports transmitted to English newspapers and periodicals; but some of the remarks serve to show how even at this early time Australia suffered from the gross misrepresentations of her detractors. One individual writing to The Times declared that the soil was as hard as bricks and no plough could penetrate it. Another standing on Mount Lofty and looking over the Adelaide plains found some satisfaction in the reflection that his eye had traversed the most barren tract in the world! At the agricultural conference in the beginning of 1842 the experienced farmers spoke in a very different strain. They found that the soil was admirably adapted for the growth of wheat; that the second crop was greater than the first, and that the land was so lightly timbered that the plough could be put into it with hardly any initial expense. Their optimism was justified by results. Grey's economies brought down the price of farm labour from £1 to 15s. a week, and the cost of fencing from 7s. to 4s. per rod. That left a margin of profit which enabled the farmers to extend their operations in the way indicated by the statistical table.
But when full allowance is made for great social and natural advantages, much credit remains to the Governor who had the ability to discern what was the right policy, and the strength of mind to carry it through in the face of so much unreasonable opposition. Long before his term of page break page 69office expired the citizens had learnt to appreciate the worth of the silent self-contained man who seldom appeared in public,1 but worked unceasingly at the problems which the Imperial Government had sent him to solve. After 1843 he became more and more popular, and on the eve of his departure for New Zealand inOctober 1845 a memorial signed by five hundred and seventy-seven citizens was presented to him. He was addressed in language that rings true, because it was at once moderate and incisive: "You have with great ability pursued an uniform and difficult course in your administration; and after years of great labour, and close attention to public affairs, have the satisfaction of quitting your duties here with the assurance that the difficulties which impeded our progress have been overcome, and that prosperity can be confidently predicted and easily secured for the future."
Even more satisfactory was the high appreciation of his services expressed by the Imperial authorities. Grey had not escaped censure for his excessive indulgence to the labourers, and it is quite true that some of his bills to the amount of.£14,000 were dishonoured. But those who make use of this fact in criticism of his administration are, no doubt, entirely ignorant of the attendant circumstances. They were, to begin with, drawn on the British Treasury in order to pay outstanding debts incurred not by himself but page 70by Governor Gawler. Besides this it was a mistake any man might easily make. In 1843 he learnt from English newspapers that the British Parliament had agreed to pay £155,000 to meet the debts of South Australia. Grey thought that the outstanding debts would be included in this amount. But he was mistaken. The House of Commons declined to pay those bills which Colonel Gawler had drawn on the Lords Commissioners after he had received explicit instructions to the contrary.
It was unfortunate, and Grey was annoyed; but the Imperial authorities did not regard his act in the light of those critics who are aware only of the bald fact; and Lord Stanley while administering his mild rebuke was careful to add that "the tenor of your administration has been such as to leave unimpaired the confidence of the Government in the prudence and discretion of your measures." Lord John Russell was Colonial Secretary at the time of Grey's appointment to South Australia, and he was present in the British Parliament when some objection was taken to his appointment to New Zealand on account of his youth. After listening to the debate for some time Lord John Russell rose to reply, and in the course of his speech paid the highest tribute to Grey's capacity for public service: "In giving him the government of South Australia I gave him as difficult a problem in Colonial Government as could be committed to any man, and I must say after four or five years' experience of his administration there, that he has solved the problem with a degree of energy and success which I could hardly have expected from any man." One statue to Sir George Grey was erected in Capetown during page 71his lifetime, and another has recently been unveiled in Auckland. If ever the people of South Australia should feel constrained to honour him in like manner, these words might fittingly be inscribed to commemorate the splendid services he rendered to the Colony during the most critical period of its history.
1 One of the few occasions was a dinner given to Edward John Eyre. Captain Sturt was there also. In one of the speeches during the evening it was pointed out that Grey, Eyre, and Sturt had explored a continuous line of country from the Glenelg River down the coast of Western Australia, along the shores of the Great Bight, up the Darling River into the centre of Australia.