He was gentlemanly and respectable, and discharged his duties punctiliously in a manner reflecting credit on himself and his position, but, comparing the mind of a philanthropist to the Murrumbidgee in breadth, his, in comparison, might be likened to the flow of a bucket of water in a dray-rut.
In this preponderance of the lazy traveller over the industrious lies the distinction between the state of affairs in America and Australia, for in the latter country the "sundowner," or "murrumbidgee whaler," or "hobo" proper, is in the minority. When I was on the tramp myself in Oregon I was much annoyed by being taken for one of the truly idle kind.
These are the Murrumbidgee, which equals the Murray almost in importance, the Lachlan and the Darling, which brings down the waters of a hundred streams, the Macquarie, the Castlereagh, and the Bogan, the Namoi and Gwydir, the Dumaresque, the Condamine, the Maranoa, the Moonie, and the Warrego.
The journey, as far as the Murrumbidgee, lay through settled country, and was without incident; but, on the banks of that river, quarrelling began among the party, and Burke dismissed the foreman; Landells then resigned, and Wills was promoted to be second in command. Burke committed a great error in his choice of a man to take charge of the camels in place of Landells.
He had chanced seven tons of this, for Kenilworth; had there met Thompson, delivering salt from Hay; and now the two, freighted with Kenilworth wool, were making the trip to Hay together. Kenilworth was on the commercial divide, having a choice of two evils the long, uninviting track southward to the Murrumbidgee, and the badly watered route eastward to the Bogan.
The Murrumbidgee also used occasionally to spread out into a great sea, carrying off houses and crops, cattle, and, oftentimes, the people themselves. In 1852 a flood of this description completely destroyed the town of Gundagai, and no less than eighty persons perished, either from drowning or from being exposed to the storm as they clung to the branches of trees.
And yet I can remember nothing of those hours clearly. Rather is there in my mind as typical of the Australian dawn such hours as those I spent away beyond the Murray, the Murrumbidgee and the Lachlan, on a station on the banks of the Willandra Billabong. It was early summer and shearing time for a hundred thousand sheep, whose fleeces were destined for Lyons and the North of England.
Could anything have been more noble than the conduct of the native, who remained neuter, and separated himself from them, when the tribes attempted to surprise my camp on the Murrumbidgee, because I had made him presents as I went down that river, vol. ii. page 212.
"I considered it necessary now to ascertain, if possible, and before the heavy part of our equipment moved further, whether the Lachlan actually joined the Murrumbidgee near the point where Mr. Oxley saw its waters covering the country, or whether it pursued a course so much more to the westward, as to have been taken for the Darling by Captain Sturt.
The Murray.# In 1829, along with a naturalist named Macleay, Sturt was again sent out to explore the interior, and on this occasion carried his portable boats to the Murrumbidgee, on which he embarked his party of eight convicts. They rowed with a will, and soon took the boat down the river beyond its junction with the Lachlan.