The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 56
This new district comprises that portion of the colony lying to the north of 19° 30′ south latitude. Its area is about 134,000 square miles, of which 62,084 square miles arc leased from the Crown, and the remainder (about 71,916 square miles) is open to selection at 10s. per 1,000 acres per annum.
Free selection to purchase, subject to approval, is allowed; and land in any quantity over 200 acres can be bought at 10s. per acre.
A town site named "Derby" has been surveyed on the eastern shore of King Sound, and a Government station (with a magistrate) has been formed there. When the last returns were sent in there were 46,839 sheep, 960 cattle, and 287 horses on the Fitzroy and Lennard rivers, near Derby, besides a large number of cattle on the Upper Ord river that have been driven across from Queensland. The country on the Ord river is now being surveyed, and will no doubt be speedily settled; and Cambridge Gulf, the natural outlet of this portion of the district, will probably become a place of some importance. This magnificent harbour has recently been visited by Staff-Commander Coghlan, R.N., and his interesting and valuable report has been printed and can be obtained on application to the Survey Office, Perth.
Running streams are numerous in the northern portions of this district, and splendid alluvial plains exist in the valleys of the rivers, which it is hoped may be suitable for tropical culture.
A very great deal of attention has been drawn to it from the eastern colonies, and extensive areas are held on lease by outside capitalists.
Horses, cattle, and sheep thrive well, and it is believed by all those best qualified to judge that it will be a large wool-producing country.
The Government have already expend led £10,000 in surveying the district and examining its geology, and there appears to be a good prospect of a payable gold-field being discovered. In his report on the geology of the district, Mr. Hardman, the Government Geologist, states:—" I am glad to be able to report that I have discovered a large area of country which I believe will prove to be auriferous to a payable degree. This country is traversed by the Margaret, Mary, Elvire, Panton, and Ord rivers, and page 20 comprises an area of at least 2,000 square miles, so far as observed, but it doubtless continues over a much greater extent of country. The formation is principally Lower Silurian slate and schist of various kinds, traversed by an enormous number of quartz reefs. In some localities many of these occur in the space of a few hundred yards, and it was quite usual to notice 25 or 30 large reefs while riding over a mile of ground, without taking into account the smaller reefs or veins. The quartz constituting these reefs is of a very promising character. It is a dull yellowish and grey quartz, very: cellular and vuggy, containing quantities of black and other oxides of iron, together with casts of, and often crystals of iron pyrites. From most of the surface quartz the enclosed minerals have been washed away, however, although their traces are still apparent. Minute specks of gold have been noticed in a few cases, and I have very little doubt that many of these reefs, when properly examined and tested, will prove to be auriferous. These quartz reefs have a general bearing of N. 10 E. to N.E. Many run due north and south. Some of them can be traced for several miles. It is most probable that these quartz ferous rocks are a spur or continuation of the gold bearing metamorphic rocks of the Northern Territory of South Australia, now being worked with some success. The river valleys and flats are in many places covered with deposits, sometimes very extensive, of quartz gravel and drift, the quartz being derived from denudation of the reefs referred to above. I have prospected these gravels over many miles of country, and I have rarely failed to obtain good colours of gold—in many localities of a very encouraging character. Very often good colours were obtained in every pan washed in different trials in the same locality. I have thus found gold to be distributed over about 140 miles along the Elvire, Pan ton, and Ord rivers, &c., as well as on the Mary and Margaret rivers, where the indication? I were very good, and the appearance of the country most favorable. In several instances I obtained good colours of gold at considerable distances from the quartz bearing rocks from which the gold could only have been derived. This, to my mind, seems to indicate that there must be large quantities of gold in the quartz-bearing rocks and in the drifts immediately overlying them. The gold-yielding country is well watered by numerous rivers, creeks, and gullies, which, even in the driest part of the year, are never wholly without water. And although during the dry season water is scarce, there would be no difficulty in conserving water anywhere in sufficient quantity for all mining purposes.
"On the whole, the indications I have met with point, as I believe, to the great probability of payable gold being obtained in this part of Kimberley, and are, 1 consider, sufficient to justify the expenditure, either by the Government or private individuals, of a reasonable sum of money in fitting out a party to thoroughly test the country, and I should strongly recommend such an undertaking. I would also suggest the advisability of parties going up for this purpose providing themselves with some simple apparatus for crushing and washing some of the reef-quartz, as in one very rudely conducted experiment of this kind I obtained a small quantity of gold."