TIMELINE – mainly for researchers
Packing a book with facts and dates can interrupt the flow. Therefore the most pertinent have been listed below for those who like data.
Occasionally the information given in different accounts varied. In such cases, I have recorded only the most likely, usually that written closest in time to the original event.
Distances given are usually only approximate and taken in a direct line, unless quoted by the people themselves. Eyre travelled much further than direct line distances, following irregular paths and occasionally backtracking.
I have included the year in each date, which might appear superfluous. However, it is surprising how many references to Eyre give a wrong date, and often it is the year that is wrong. For example, many references give 1847 as the date Eyre received the award of the Founder’s Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. The year in fact was 1843. However, once an incorrect date is in the literature it appears to take on a life of its own. (For interest I looked up who had been awarded the Gold Medal in 1847 and found it was Eyre’s close friend and fellow explorer, Charles Sturt.)
5 August 1815 – Born in Whipsnade, Befordshire, England, seven weeks after the Battle of Waterloo had vanquished Napoleon. Third son of Anthony William Eyre, later vicar of Hornsea, Yorkshire, and his wife Sarah nee Mapleton. His eldest brother died in infancy and the second at age 15 years.
Attends grammar schools at Thorparch, Grantham, Louth and Sedbergh.
Leaves school aged 16 years.
13 Oct 1832 – Embarks on 352-ton barque Ellen for Australia.
2 Dec 1832 – Crosses the Line (Equator).
2 March 1833 – Reaches Tasmania – anchored off Hobart.
20 March 1833 – Ellen leaves Hobart.
29 March 1833 – Lands at Sydney Cove after 166 day (5½ months) voyage.
New Land New Challenges
6 April 1833 – Sir Richard Bourke receives him at Government House.
10 May 1833 – Leaves Sydney heading for the Hunter Valley, to visit Colonel Henry Dumaresq at his model property St Heliers, a few miles north of today’s Muswellbrook.
13 May 1833 – Arrives at St Helliers.
29 May 1833 – Meets William Bell on Cheshunt Park Station and arranges to work alongside him for one year.
18 July 1833 – Purchases 400 sheep that were taken to Bell’s station and yarded there.
26 July 1833 – Receives 2 convicts as personal servants.
Oct 1833 – Is granted 4 more convicts since he is now a flock owner.
End Oct 1833 – Eyre’s first shearing, from which he makes ₤70.
7 Dec 1833 – Returns to Cheshunt Park on his first horse, bought in Sydney.
Dec 1833 and Jan 1834 – Negotiates purchase of his first property, later named Woodlands, of 1260 acres (510 ha) on Molonglo Plains near Canberra. Price ₤256. No longer has the capital needed, so takes out a loan for 4 years.
Boy Strikes Out
26 Feb 1834 – Eyre and 3 convicts organise a dray of provisions and equipment to journey to his new property and prepare it for the sheep that would follow later. They pass Windsor, Cowpastures, Razor Back, Bargo, Mittagong, Bong Bong, Paddy’s River and Inverary.
20 March 1834 – Reaches Lumley and finds John Morphy there.
24 March 1834 – Arrives at Woodlands after difficult journey of 300 miles (480 km).
10 May 1834 – Morphy visits with offer of sheep sharing enterprise. Eyre accepts unwise partnership with John S Morphy and Robert Campbell to share farm 3000 sheep. Needs to sell his thriving flock to fund the speculation.
29 May 1834 – Completes slab timber home in short time helped by three men; Eyre states it took 36 days, which may denote from start of actual construction. They also complete a fowl house; he lays out and begins a vegetable and fruit garden.
3 June 1834 – Sets out from Sydney to collect the 3000 share sheep on Liverpool Plains near today’s Tamworth.
26 June 1834 – Reaches Pages River on journey to collect the sheep.
17 July 1834 – Takes delivery of 3097 sheep but scab compels them to remain at Liverpool Plains for 7 months, taking up land to yard the flock at Warrah.
Dec 1834 – Shears the scabby sheep but harvests disappointing returns.
23 Feb 1835 – Begins 400-mile (640 km) sheep drive to Molonglo from Warrah.
2– 7 March 1835 – Makes an epic crossing with sheep of the Great Dividing Range.
10 April 1835 – Eyre, going ahead, arrives at Woodlands.
27 April 1835 – Morphy and flock arrive at Woodlands.
13 May to 20 August – Morphy is absent managing Lumley for Robert Futter.
1 Jan 1836 – The Queanbeyan Post Office opens for business.
Feb 1836 – Sells Woodlands for ₤800 because of series of setbacks. Condition of sale allow him to remain there a further 12 months.
10 Feb 1836 – Dissolves partnership with Morphy. Then begins searching for further land as Campbell offers to loan him funds, but nothing good transpires.
14 July 1836 – John Hindmarsh is commissioned as Governor of SA.
15 July 1836 – Morphy marries Elizabeth Ann Styles.
28 Dec 1836 – Hindmarsh arrives at Adelaide; South Australia is officially proclaimed.
Overlander to Melbourne
3 January 1837 – Eyre sets off for Sydney from Woodlands to approach the Campbells about financing an overlanding by him of stock to the new settlement of Melbourne.
While in Sydney, meets affable explorer Captain Charles Sturt. Lasting friendship begins.
1 April 1837 – Leaves Molonglo with 414 sheep and 78 cattle, working bullocks and horses.
17 April 1837 – Eyre takes sheep across Murrumbidgee River at Gundagai, around 125 miles (200 km) from Molonglo.
6 May 1837 – Takes cattle and drays across Murrumbidgee after long delays recovering lost oxen.
22nd – 23rd May 1837 – Crosses Murray River, around 116 miles (185.6 km) from Murrumbidgee.
1 June 1837 – First ever sale of town blocks within Melbourne.
16 June 1837 – Crosses Ovens River, around 46 miles (73.6 km) from the Murray.
28 June 1837 – Reaches Goulburn River and “adopts” two young Aborigines Cootachah and Joshuing.
3July 1837 – Completes the tricky crossing of the Goulburn, which was running deep and fast, at Mitchell’s crossing place.
15 July 1837 – Eyre reaches Port Phillip (Melbourne) ahead of his party to make arrangements for arrival of stock.
21 July 1837 – Eyre sets out to rejoin his party and guide them to Port Phillip.
2 August 1837 – Overlanding party arrives at Port Phillip, travelling approximately 470 miles (752 km) of country from Limestone Plains. It has taken them 124 days since first leaving Molonglo on 1st April (nearly 18 weeks) with 400 sheep plus 86 lambs born en route. He shears the sheep first before selling them, getting 1/9 per pound for the wool.
Despite stock losses, especially of working oxen, he clears ₤1500, which, after expenses, still doubles the original outlay. Estimates are that he personally walked away with ₤700.
14 Sept 1837 – There is no easy route back to Sydney, so he sails on the tiny 20-ton cutter Domain to Tasmania first, accompanied by Baxter, two Aboriginal lads and two dingoes.
20 Sept 1837 – Arrives at Launceston,
25 Sept 1837 – Takes mail coach to Hobart
4 Oct 1837 – Eyre’s party sails for Sydney from Hobart aboard the 143-ton schooner Marion Watson, later to transport the famous bushranger Lawrence Kavanagh to
Tasmania, Port Arthur and prison.
11 Oct 1837 – The Marion Watson docks at Sydney Cove.
Overlander to Adelaide
South Australia was only been proclaimed officially and its borders declared by letters patent on 19 February 1836.
13 Oct 1837 – Eyre sees Campbell again, who agrees to partner a second overlanding, this time to Adelaide. Eyre needs to collect Campbell’s cattle from Pialligo Station (later Duntroon), near Woodlands and today’s Canberra.
3 Nov 1837 – Joseph Hawdon tells Eyre that he intends overlanding to Adelaide. His cattle are already being collected on the Murray and would be proceeding towards Adelaide.
8 Nov 1837 – Eyre leaves Sydney to collect stock on Limestone Plains.
28 Nov 1837 – Eyre reaches Pialligo Station at Limestone Plains.
5 Dec 1837 – Reaches Campbell’s station Delegate by Snowy River on Manero (Monaro) Plains to collect cattle.
11 Dec – Starts the return to Limestone Plains and Duntroon, a journey of around 135 miles (216 km) away with 250 head of cattle and 65 calves.
21 Dec 1837 – Eyre leaves Limestone Plains: party consists of 6 white men and 3 Aborigines (including Unmallie from Gundaroo), 8 horses, 300 cattle, 3 drays with bullock teams and a small stock of wethers for rations. Heads first towards Melbourne, intending at some suitable stage to branch off towards Adelaide.
25 Dec 1837 – Quells drunken incidents among his men.
2 Jan 1838 – Crosses Murrumbidgee on same day that Joseph Hawdon sets out with mob of cattle for Adelaide.
5 Jan 1838 – Meets Joseph Conway Bourke on the very first overland mail run between Melbourne and Sydney.
15 Jan 1838 – Baxter joins Eyre’s party with another 60 head of cattle of his own.
16 Jan 1838 – Reaches Murray and begins crossing it. Completes the crossing the following day.
19 Jan 1838 – Eyre goes ahead to Melbourne to purchase supplies with an empty cart, two horses, dray driver, Unmallie and Cootachah.
23 Jan 1838 – Eyre reaches the Goulburn and hears news of Hawdon’s new route from John Clark.
28Jan 1838 – He reaches Melbourne for supplies.
30 Jan 1838 – He serves on Building Committee for Melbourne’s first church, St James’ Cathedral, which was begun the following year.
1 Feb 1838 – He leaves Melbourne again to return to his party. Waits for them at Coliburn Creek on Major Mitchell’s track near where the branch diverges for Melbourne.
7 Feb 1838 – Meets Captain Sylvester Brown’s party, driven back in their attempt to cross parched scrublands towards the Murray.
8 Feb 1838 – Eyre’s party arrives at Coliburn in half the time it had taken to overland cattle the previous year from Limestone Plains. i.e. 383 miles (613 km) in 49 days compared to 95 days.
8 Feb to 28 Feb – Eyre initiates a series of scouting thrusts ahead of cattle drive looking for a watered route across the mallee to the Murray.
1 March 1838 – Starts retreat from failed thrust to find the Yarrayne River (today’s Loddon). Sets out to find the Wimmera River further south instead.
Early March – Ascends Grampians and later Mount Arapiles to look at the countryside ahead. One ominous finding was that the lakes near the Grampians described by Mitchell had dried up; another was the parched bleak scrublands they would have to cross over.
30 March 1838 – Discovers and names Lake Hindmarsh.
3 April 1838 – Hawdon reaches Adelaide with 325 bullocks, cows, heifers and horses in good condition.
4 April 1838 – Eyre leads exploratory thrust towards Murray from Lake Hindmarsh.
8 April 1838 – Begins his return, reaching camp on the 11th of April having lost 5 horses.
21 April 1838 – Eyre starts final thrust W and NW to reach Murray.
23 April 1838 – Returns to camp. At once he begins a retreat towards the Yarrayne and Goulburn, intending to follow these down to the Murray. He later worked out that he had wasted 873 miles (1396.8 km), 5 horses, some working oxen and cattle by trying to cut across more directly to Adelaide.
6 May 1838 – Four disgruntled stockmen desert Eyre, taking young Joshuing with them, and head for Port Phillip 150 miles (240 km) away.
8 May 1838 – Reaches Yarrayne River but finds it almost dry. Camps at Mitchell’s old wooden bridge and repairs it.
11 May 1838 – Follows Yarrayne and reaches Murray in a few days.
26 May 1838 – Reaches junction of Murray with Murrumbidgee, having travelled 119 miles (190.4 km) from Mitchell’s wooden bridge on the Yarrayne in 16 days.
10 June 1838 – Reaches the Darling River junction with the Murray, 123 miles (196.8 km) from the Murray junction with the Murrumbidgee, in 15 days.
11 June 1838 – Crosses Darling River and follows Murray along its western bank towards Adelaide.
17 June 1838 – Crosses Rufus River at junction with Murray, later to become a dangerous region for clashes with Aborigines. Has difficulties with indigenous men 24 miles ((38.4 km) beyond the crossing.
1 July 1838 – Reaches Great Bend (North West Bend) of Murray where it diverts southwards towards the sea, having taken 20 days from the Darling. It was 130 miles (208 km) from the Murray junction with the Darling and, by Eyre’s estimate, 126 miles (201.6 km) from Adelaide.
6 July – Reaches the “Pound”, a natural enclosed paddock between the Murray and enclosing cliffs.
9 July – Eyre and Unmallie ride ahead to prepare for arrival of the men and stock at Adelaide.
12 July 1838 – Eyre arrives in Adelaide ahead of the stock after travelling about 1376 miles (2202 km).
13 July 1838 – He joins farewell dinner with Hindmarsh family at Government House.
14 July 1838 – He farewells Sir John Hindmarsh, who sailed away on Alligator. Wife Suzannah Hindmarsh remains behind with daughters and Eyre befriends family.
15 July 1838 – Attends church service in Court House shortly before Trinity Church (which is still functioning) was opened. Rev Charles Howard was the minister.
18 July 1838 – Sets off to bring up his party to the stock station he selected near Sturt River, around 6 miles (9.6 km) from Adelaide.
19 July 1839 – Meets up with his men and stock at Mount Barker.
23 July 1838 – Settles stock at new station in readiness for marketing.
Since Eyre left Sydney to collect stock on Limestone Plains on 8 Nov 1837, his drays had travelled 1561 miles (2497.6 km) and the cattle 250 miles less (400 km less). Of the 8½ months since Sydney, about 2½ months had been wasted in the wilderness. But after the mutineers had left, a very respectable 539 miles (862.4 km) had been achieved in 79 days.
27 July 1838 – Eyre is toasted and cheered during a public dinner celebrating the anniversary of colonists landing at Kangaroo Island.
20 August 1838 – Sets out with relief rations for an exhausted Sturt and his men who were near the North West Bend about 90 miles (144 km) from Adelaide.
28 August 1838 – Sturt and Eyre ride into Adelaide together.
6 Sept 1838 – Eyre buys a block of land in Adelaide on which to build a butcher’s shop.
13 Sept 1838 – Eyre sells all his stock at a profit of ₤1350, shared equally with the Campbells. The butcher shop was turned into one of Eyre’s Adelaide homes instead.
20 Sept 1838 – Eyre embarks aboard the 485-ton barque Henry Porcher, used since 1832 as an immigrant ship.
2 Oct 1838 – Eyre arrives in Sydney. At once he begins to make arrangements to overland again to Adelaide, this time with sheep.
12 Oct 1838 – George Gawler arrives in Adelaide as new Governor of South Australia.
29 Oct 1838 – Eyre reaches Campbell’s property Pialligo Station to collect cattle but finds, as previously, they are still on the property Delegate 135 miles away (216 km).
6 Nov 1838 – 999 fat wethers arrive from Charles Campbell’s property. Eyre, though, has difficulties gathering cattle suitable for a long overlanding despite riding himself to Delegate to choose.
5 Dec 1838 – Eyre sets out with 15 whites total (of whom Popham soon left), 2 Aborigines, 10 horses, 2 drays, 2 carts, 14 working bullocks, 1000 sheep and 490 cattle, 242 of which were weak and undernourished. (Eyre later gave the number of cattle arriving at Adelaide as 600 without explaining the increase.)
7 Dec 1838 – Passes Yass.
13 Dec 1838 – Reaches Murrumbidgee and follows it towards the Murray.
18 Dec 1838 – Writes letter officially transferring his NSW servants to Charles Ebden.
20 Dec 1838 – Finds Neramberein (nicknamed Joey) at Murrumbidgee near Thompson’s head station.
30 Dec 1838 – Reaches last cattle station on Murrumbidgee, around 420 miles (672 km) from Sydney.
15 Jan 1839 – Andrew Berry speared.
20 Jan 1839 – Reaches junction of Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers.
4 Feb 1839 – Reaches junction of Darling and Murray rivers.
18 Feb 1839 – Eyre and Neramberein leave party to proceed to Adelaide.
23 Feb 1839 – Eyre and Neramberein arrive in Adelaide ahead of stock.
4 March 1839 – Returns to find his party and stock in disarray.
12 March 1839 – Puts stock on pasture at new station in hills near Onkaparinga and 14 miles (22.4 km) from Adelaide. The overlanding from Limestone Plains had taken 14 weeks = 765 miles (1224 km).
13 March 1839 – Sends gift of a saddle of mutton to Governor Gawler to demonstrate the high quality of the meat despite being overlanded. In fact, because of good feed, the sheep arrive in better condition than they were when setting out.
30 March 1839 – Sells sheep at a good profit, having paid 10/- each and selling at 40/- each. Overall profit was ₤4000, half of which was his. This third profitable overlanding in partnership with Robert Campbell (the cattle) and his son Charles Campbell (the sheep) cements a lifelong friendship with the wealthy merchants.
17 April 1839 – Magistrate’s decision over wage claims: Eyre to pay Andrew Berry ₤14 despite his negligence that threatened the security of the party, but John Mayler only ten shillings, because he had refused to bring along a bullock and its value was deducted from his wages.
Eyre, now possessing sufficient funds to carry out an overlanding by himself without financial partnership, looks at the “certainty of clearing eight or ten thousand pounds during the next few months if I had chosen to embark on the undertaking.”
30 April 1839 – Deposits ₤3456 in Adelaide’s Bank of Australia (later ANZ) and draws out many small cheques. He settles all outstanding accounts before setting off into unknown.
1 May 1839 – Leaves Adelaide (6 men total i.e. Eyre, Baxter, 2 whites as dray drivers, 2 Aborigines. Also 10 horses, 2 drays, 3 dogs, 8 ration sheep and supplies for 60 days).
7 May 1839 – Reaches Hutt River, beyond which lay unexplored land.
8 May 1839 – Names his first feature as an explorer – the Broughton River after the Bishop of Sydney, whom he had met first in Tasmania and who was so friendly towards him then and since. Throughout his exploring he continued to name many features, mainly using appearance (Crystal Brook), personal feelings (Mount Disappointment) or friends (Campbells Range).
15 May 1839 – Arrives near head of Spencer Gulf. Had travelled 211 miles (337.6 km) in 16 days since leaving Adelaide, mostly through trackless waste using a compass only for finding direction.
16 May 1839 – Finds and names Depot Creek below and SW of Mt Arden – which is part of the Flinders Ranges. Named the depot he formed near the creek the “Mt Arden Depot.”
Mid-May 1839 – He finds boggy channel into Spencer Gulf of Lake Torrens (discovered later); climbs Mt Eyre 36 miles (57.6 km) N of Mt Arden, from which he sees “very high and barren” Flinders Range. The Flinders stretch as far as he could see with the aid of a telescope into northern regions. Also sees shining stripe of Lake Torrens (named later by Eyre) in the far distance.
Baxter explores 50 miles (80 km) SW to discover barren hills named Baxter Range by Eyre.
23 May 1839 – Eyre and Baxter set out to examine western shore of Spencer Gulf.
26 May 1839 – Party begins their return to Adelaide, which was to be by retracing steps southwards and then cutting eastwards across to the Murray River.
15 June 1839 – Finds site for future home at Moorundi on the Murray.
29 June 1839 – Reaches Adelaide. They had been 60 days absent, reaching approximately 250 miles (400 km) north of Adelaide and around 30 miles (48 km) west of Spencer Gulf.
8 July 1839 – Leaves Adelaide by ship for Port Lincoln on Eyre Peninsula (which was named after him later by Gawler.)
As before, the party comprises Eyre, Baxter, 2 white dray drivers, 2 Aborigines, 10 horses, 2 drays, and supplies for 60 days.
10 July 1839 – Gawler announces his naming of Mt Eyre and the Flinders Range.
5 August 1839 – Eyre’s 24th birthday – party sets out from Pt Lincoln.
6August to 24 August 1839 – Explores down coastline, passing Mt Dutton, finding and naming Mt Hope and Lake Newland.
25 August 1839 – Arrives at Streaky Bay and established a depot there.
Late August 1839 – Reaches Point Bell, the most western point reached (230 miles or 368 km from Port Lincoln).
8 Sept 1839 – Leaves Streaky Bay to cut across country to Spencer Gulf (220 miles or 352 km away). En route discovers and names Gawler Range, comprising low hills to 152 m.
29 Sept 1839 – Forms new depot at Mt Arden and examined N a further 90 miles (144 km), during which he names Lake Torrens.
15 Oct 1839 – Returns to Adelaide (had been 9 weeks absent).
Overlander to Perth
Goal was to sail with stock to Albany and then drive them overland to Perth with partner Alfred Miller-Mundy and helped by Edward Bate Scott. The stock was 1700 sheep. which included over 1000 ewes and 450 lambs, 6 horses and 100 cattle.
30 Jan 1840 – Loads stock onto chartered schooner Minerva. Within days also loads stock onto chartered barque Cleveland. Eyre sails aboard Minerva while Mundy is aboard the Cleveland.
Arrives Albany end of February. Stays at the Sherratt’s Family Hotel at the foot of York Street while the stock is being offloaded and overlanding arranged.
Early March 1840 – Overlanding party to Perth sets out. Loses significant number of stock to mysterious poisoning.
24 March 1840 – Completes overlanding Albany to York on Swan River, near today’s Perth, after 320 miles (512 km).
25 March 1840 – Eyre goes to Perth to advertise his stock.
Late March 1840 – Meets officers of Beagle and forms lifelong friendship with John Lort Stokes.
3 April 1840 – Eyre and Mundy elected honorary members of the Agricultural Society.
Early April 1840 – Eyre sells sheep for ₤3 to ₤4 10/- per head and cows ₤25 each. A small profit is made despite stock losses.
16 April 1840 – Returns to Adelaide aboard the Minerva.
Other South Australians soon follow suit, using Eyre’s route for overlanding stock from Albany to Perth.
Exploring the Impossible North
Besides Mount Arden and Spencer Gulf, named by Matthew Flinders in 1802, all the other features in this section of the Timeline were named by Eyre.
His goal was to reach the Centre of Australia while also searching for the fabled “inland sea”.
27 May 1840 – Eyre meets with Gawler and proposes a Northern Expedition.
18 June 1840 – Leaves Adelaide (6 whites total, 2 blacks, 13 horses, 3 drays, 40 sheep, stores for 3 months).
End June to early July 1840 – Maria massacre and aftermath.
3July 1840 – Eyre arrives at Mt Arden depot, near head of Spencer Gulf.
5 July 1840 – Water Witch arrives with supplies.
6 July 1840 – Leaves Mt Arden depot with Neramberein to view Lake Torrens and the N.
7 July 1840 – Climbs Mt Eyre once more.
8 July 1840 – Reaches and explores shores of Lake Torrens 40 miles (64 km) N of Mt Nor’ West. (He ultimately viewed around 400 miles (640 km) of shoreline without spotting any breaks.)
12 July 1840 – Climbs Mt Deception.
13 July 1840 – Finds Depot Pool to move his party to.
21 July 1840 – Returns to Mt Arden after 16 days exploring.
25 July 1840 – Whole party sets out for new depot site 90 miles (144 km) N of Mt Arden. Eyre so ill he could hardly remain on his horse.
30 July 1840 – New depot is formed at Depot Pool.
2 August 1840 – Sets out with Neramberein and a white man leading a packhorse to explore further north.
3 August 1840 – Climbs Termination Hill.
4 August 1840 – Sends man and packhorse back to depot.
6 August 1840 – Finds Scott Creek as a watercourse emanating from Mt Deception.
7 August 1840 – Returns to Depot Pool but finds it almost dry.
9 August 1840 – Leads party to Scott Creek to set up depot there.
11 August 1840 – Eyre, Aborigine and dray driver with cart holding 65 gallons of water set out to explore far NW.
12 August 1840 – Climbs Mt Nor’West.
14 August 1840 – Inspects bed of Lake Torrens once more, in a very different location.
16 August 1840 – Returns to depot at Scott Creek.
21 August 1840 – Names Mt Scott, a peak in the Mt Deception Range.
22 August 1840 – Eyre and Aborigine set out to inspect Lake Torrens at a new position to the NW.
23 August 1840 – Follows beside Lake Torrens for 10 miles (16 km) and then tries to cross over it. Horses become bogged, so they retreat.
24 August 1840 – Returns to depot.
25 August 1840 – Leaves depot because almost dry. Finds good water in Mundy Creek.
26 August 1840 – Finds brackish water in Burr Creek and establishes a new depot there because water is adequate in quality and quantity.
27 August 1840 – Finds good water in Frome Creek. Ascends nearby Mt Serle with Scott and Aborigine. Has his first far-reaching view eastwards from Flinders Range.
29 August 1840 – Takes Baxter, a dray of 3 horses with a driver and carrying lots of water, plus an Aborigine. Intends checking out the termination of the Flinders to the far N and what happens there to Lake Torrens.
31 August 1840 – Sends back Baxter, dray and 2 horses. The white man remains to lead the third horse from the dray, to be used now as a packhorse. Teeming rain falls.
1 Sept 1840 – Sends back white man and packhorse with instructions for Baxter to begin taking party back to Mt Arden depot, because the rain means puddles on the plain for the horses that allows them to steer a direct route. Furthermore, seeing that the Flinders had terminated, his hope is quashed of using them to cross Lake Torrens and to supply a watershed leading to the Centre.
2 Sept 1840 – Climbs Mt Distance and then Mt Hopeless, the furthest high point seen to the NE. Decides he is hemmed in by impassable Lake Torrens and that he should retreat.
4 Sept 1840 – Overtakes his party at Mundy Creek.
12 Sept 1840 – Returns to Mt Arden depot. Abandons Northern Expedition in favour of taking expedition to the W.
Exploring the Impossible West
Because Eyre remained close to the coastline, others named almost all the features in this section of the Timeline; in particular Matthew Flinders named the greater number in 1802. Yeer-kumban-kauwe was one exception, Eyre using the Aboriginal name, and Refuge Rocks was another.
His goal was to cross around 1250 miles (2000 km) to Albany in WA, measured as a direct line from Baxter Range first to Streaky Bay, then a direct line from there to Albany. Of course, they would have to travel much further than this on the ground. If they found favourable country promising an opening northwards, they would resume the expedition to reach the Centre.
13 Sept 1840 –they depart from Mt Arden Depot, travelling westwards.
17 Sept 1840 – At Baxter Range 50 miles (80 km) from Mt Arden, Eyre divides the party – Baxter will take the bulk of it directly across Eyre Peninsula to Streaky Bay – he has 2 drays, 7 horses, the sheep, two white dray drivers and an Aborigine. Eyre, Scott, Robert McRobert (to drive the dray) and an Aborigine will travel up the western side of Spencer Gulf towards Port Lincoln to obtain supplies. They will take 5 horses, a dray that carries 2 weeks’ supplies, and 40 gallons of water.
19 Sept 1840 – Eyre camps alone while men and dray return to Baxter Range to collect more water. That night he is surrounded by unfriendly Aborigines and takes measures to defend himself, including keeping vigilant watch all night.
21 Sept 1840 – Men and dray return to relieve an exhausted Eyre.
22 Sept 1840 – Finds water in parched landscape at Refuge Rocks.
25 Sept 1840 – Departs from Refuge Rocks and continues towards Port Lincoln.
1 Oct 1840 – Reaches Charles Driver’s station managed by Charles Christian Dutton, where he purchased a small Timor pony in foal for one of the smaller Aboriginal lads to ride. It cost him ₤25.
3 Oct 1840 – Eyre arrives at Pt Lincoln, first white to do so by land, opening a direct line of road from head of Spencer Gulf (220 miles or 352 km) and ultimately from Adelaide. Eyre begins accumulating supplies, but the town is in a depressed state.
5 Oct 1840 – Frank Hawson is speared.
8 Oct 1840 – Scott and another white man set out for a dangerous crossing to Adelaide in a small 4-ton boat, to requisition supplies.
11 Oct 1840 – Frank Hawson dies.
12 Oct 1840 – Scott arrives in Adelaide.
14 Oct 1840 – Scott attends the official opening by Governor Gawler of the Port of Adelaide. Eyre’s progress is announced to the crowd of 5000, who cheered in response.
22 Oct 1840 – Scott returns to Port Lincoln aboard Water Witch, which is put at Eyre’s disposal. This is a boon because it enables him to take a greater weight of supplies and a small boat.
24 Oct 1840 – Eyre’s party leaves Port Lincoln overland to Streaky Bay.
29 Oct 1840 – Water Witch reaches Streaky Bay.
3 Nov 1840 – Eyre reaches Streaky Bay, rejoining Baxter’s party after a worrying 7-week separation. Neither leader knew whether the other had succeeded in crossing the difficult terrain.
6 Nov 1840 – Eyre and party leave Streaky Bay.
8 Nov 1840 – Water Witch supplies them with fresh water at Smoky Bay.
10 Nov 1840 – Wilguldy becomes their guide, and progress accelerates. Aborigines show them how to dig for water in sand hummocks near coast.
13 Nov 1840 – Reach Point Bell.
17 Nov 1840 – Reach Fowlers Bay 50 km from WA/SA border, as it was then located. (No good harbours west of here for hundreds of miles according to both Matthew Flinders and Captain Thomas Rossiter of the whaling ship Mississippi.)
22 Nov to 25 Nov 1840 – Eyre explores 50 km NW to boundary with WA.
28 Nov to 16 Dec 1840 – Eyre, 2 whites, an Aborigine and 3-horse dray carrying 70 gallons of water travel 88 miles (140.8 km) and reach 12 miles (19.2 km) from head of Bight, where high cliffs begin. However, party loses 3 horses to thirst. Eyre decides he cannot take such a large party forward. Furthermore, the horses need better fodder and a 6-week rest to recover condition.
18 Dec 1840 – Water Witch ships Corporal Coles, John Houston and a dray back to Adelaide from Fowlers Bay, taking from Eyre an urgent request for fodder.
26 Dec 1840 – Party moves 5 miles (8 km) to a new well on a plain near to Fowlers Bay, where there was better feed for horses.
30 Dec 1840 – Eyre, Baxter, Neramberein, Costelow (as dray driver) and their 6 best horses set out on a recce towards the head of the Bight, where the sea cliffs begin. They deposit supplies en route for later use.
1 Jan 1841 – Aborigines convince Eyre that no water exists inland. He shelves plans to head again towards the Centre. The Aborigines tell him there is water near the head of the Bight, towards which he travels.
6 Jan 1841 – Baxter and dray return to depot. Costelow leads packhorse forward.
7 Jan 1841 – Costelow is sent back to Baxter. Eyre and Neramberein reach Yeer-kumban-kauwe just east of the head of the Bight, where Aborigines help them obtain water. They rest the exhausted horses.
10 Jan 1841 – Leave Yeer-kumban-kauwe and travel 30 miles (48 km) along sea cliffs.
11 Jan 1841 – Travel a further 15 miles (24 km) along cliff top before turning back.
16 Jan 1841 – Eyre reaches again the depot on the plains near Fowlers Bay.
26 Jan 1841 – Hero arrives at Fowlers Bay with Wylie and fodder for horses. (The Water Witch had sprung a leak despite only being built 1 April 1835! She sank the following year 5th Dec 1842 on the Murray at Moorundi).
31 Jan 1841– Hero returns to Adelaide with Scott, Costelow and 3 kangaroo-dogs, plus superfluous flour and equipment, including the drays.
mid- Feb 1841 – Eyre makes another short excursion to the N to see whether a likely route might be discovered leading into the interior. He is beaten back by waterless scrub tending to desert.
24 Feb 1841 – Scott and Captain Samuel Germein return aboard Hero to Fowlers Bay and rendezvous with Eyre just as he is about to set out for Albany.
25 Feb 1841 – Tiny party sets out from Fowlers Bay (2 whites, 3 Aborigines, 9 horses, 1 Timor pony, 1 Timor pony foal born at Streaky Bay, 6 sheep and 9 weeks provisions only).
2 March 1841 – Arrive at Yeer-kumban-kauwe and the head of the Great Australian Bight. The sea cliffs starting nearby are named Bunda Cliffs within the SA territory, the name Eyre noticed the Aborigines used for them. Remain there four full days to enable horses to recover.
7 March 1841 – Leave Yeer-kumban-kauwe and set off along sea cliffs towards Albany.
11 March 1841 – Find water near today’s Eucla after passing 200 km along tops of cliffs, which is the longest unbroken coastal cliff line on earth.
18 March 1841 – Resume push westwards from Eucla along the coastline keeping on or near to the beach.
19 March 1841 – At midnight, main party returns to previous water to collect more and allow horses to recruit strength. Meanwhile Eyre remains with the sheep and baggage.
25March 1841 – Party returns to Eyre with sufficient water. They set off again along the coastline.
26 March 1841 – Eyre lightens load on struggling horses by burying some goods and supplies.
28 March 1841 – The Timor Pony and Eyre’s favourite mare abandoned. A third horse dies the following day.
30 March 1841 – Finds water at Eyre Sand Patch.
10 to 13 April 1841 – Eyre and Wylie walk 76 miles (121.6 km) to retrieve supplies. Eyre carries back 32 lbs (14.5 kg) and Wylie 22 lbs (10 kg).
16 April 1841 – First horse killed for food.
22 April 1841 – Aborigines’ rations cut because of stealing meat. Wylie and Neramberein desert but Eyre detains the younger Cootachah. Slaughter final ration sheep.
25 April 1841 – Young James Collins Hawker in Adelaide alerts Governor Gawler that he is about to be replaced by George Grey.
25 April 1841 – Wylie and Neramberein return to Eyre’s camp.
27 April 1841 – After 4 weeks in camp, party sets off again along beachfront and the scrub behind the dunes.
28 April 1841 – Ascend sea cliffs again and travel along their tops.
29 April 1841 – Baxter murdered by Cootachah and Neramberein, who decamp with rations.
30 April 1841 – Eyre and Wylie proceed towards King George Sound, leaving Baxter’s corpse wrapped in a blanket on the bare rock.
1 May 1841 – Appearance of banksias encourage both Eyre and Wylie that better land lies ahead.
3 May 1841 – Eyre and Wylie reach Point Culver and find fresh water. Remain there several days to recover strength.
8 May 1841 – Weakest horse killed and eaten.
10 May 1841 – Eyre and Wylie leave Point Culver. That same day, George Grey arrives in Adelaide as the new Governor.
17 May 1841 – Eyre finds first trickle of water since leaving Streaky Bay fingering down granite boulders. Further, they find first lush grass for horses.
19 May 1841 – Eyre and Wylie reach Point Malcolm. Threat of exposure increases through colder nights and light rains that begin falling periodically.
26 May 1841 – Leave Point Malcolm heading for Cape Arid, which they reached the following day. Eyre names lofty and abrupt mountain masses the Russell Range.
2 June 1841 – Meet Mississippi in Rossiter Bay east of Lucky Bay, 50 km east of today’s Esperance. Taken aboard by Captain Rossiter, they shelter and regather strength.
5 June 1841 – Eyre’s good friends Jane Hindmarsh and Alfred Miller-Mundy marry.
15 June 1841 – Eyre and Wylie leave Mississippi and resume journey towards Albany. Have 300 miles (480 km) to go to Albany.
18 June 1841 – This is the anniversary of the expedition leaving Adelaide. At the time they were near modern Esperance.
24 June 1841 – Spark from campfire burns most of their new clothing and exposure becomes a threat again during days of teeming rain.
27 June 1841 – Camp near East Mount Barren.
30 June 1841 – They see distinctive Stirling Ranges behind King George Sound faintly in the distance.
7 July 1841 – Wade across swollen King River leaving horses behind. Arrive at Albany, given as about 1300 miles (2080 km) from Port Lincoln and 1040 miles (1664 km) from Fowlers Bay.
8 and 9 July 1841 – first Eyre, then Wylie, make depositions regarding Baxter’s death before Peter Belches JP.
13 July 1841 – Eyre sails aboard schooner Truelove for Adelaide.
25 July 1841 – Governor Grey’s son baby George dies at age 5 months.
26 July 1841 – Eyre arrives Adelaide on Truelove (1 year 26 days after setting out, still only 25 years old).
17 August 1841 – Charles Sturt writes to Governor George Grey on behalf of the colonists, asking whether a post may be found for a bankrupt Eyre.
26 August 1841 – Public Dinner honours Eyre, attended by both Grey and Sturt.
20 Sept 1841 – Eyre sits on Inquiry into deadly conflict at the Rufus.
28 Sept 1841 – Eyre sets out on for Moorundi to try to solve the problems along the Murray between overlanders and Aborigines.
1 Oct 1841 – Official letter confirms Eyre’s appointment to Moorundi as “Special Magistrate and Protector of Aborigines”.
6 Oct 1841 – He arrives at Moorundi with Police in tow.
8 Oct 1841- Pulcanta is released to return to his people near the Rufus.
15 Oct 1841 – 96th Regiment of Foot led by Captain George Butler arrives in Adelaide.
Mid-Oct 1841 – Scott and Pullen arrive at Moorundi aboard the Water Witch.
December 1841 – Visitors include Governor George Grey and Edward Frome.
19 Jan 1842 – Eyre holds first proceedings at Resident’s Magistrate Court, Moorundi.
27 Jan 1842 – Eyre takes his first excursion to the troubled Rufus River district, with 3 policemen and Tenbury to act as interpreter. Returns on the 5th of February.
Jan and Feb 1842 – Eyre advertises blocks for sale at Moorundi in the “Village of Sturt”.
11 April 1842 – Corporal Coles has his fingers shattered while firing an official salute in Adelaide for the birth of the Prince of Wales.
4 May 1842 – Eyre sets out on his second excursion to the Rufus, with only one white and one Aborigine this time.
13 May 1842 – Rufus River Aborigines, including Pulcanta, visit Moorundi accompanying Eyre.
6 September 1842 – Eyre holds court to judge the case of drunken assault on policemen by soldiers.
2 Oct 1842 – Leaves Adelaide by horse to take command of search for CC Dutton and party.
9 Oct 1842 – Divides search party at Depot Creek near Mt Arden. Remainder of party under Tolmer, Inspector of Police, returns to Adelaide.
10 Oct 1842 – Eyre + 3 Policemen + 3 packhorses head SW to Baxter Range.
11 Oct 1842 – Horses stray from Baxter Range during the night.
12 Oct 1842 – Eyre tracks them 55 miles (90 km) to Point Lowly and cuts across Dutton’s cattle tracks on the way. Rescues all except one of the horses.
15 Oct 1842 – Returns to Baxter Range with 7 thirsty, unruly horses.
18 Oct 1842 – Eyre cuts across CC Dutton’s tracks again, this time returning towards Port Lincoln.
20 Oct 1842 – Eyre arrives in Port Lincoln.
26 Nov 1842 – Fire at Moorundi resulting in loss of property but no loss of life.
5 Dec 1842 – During a storm, the Water Witch sinks in the Murray within view of Eyre’s house.
17 Dec 1842 – Francis Dutton and Hawker brothers visit Moorundi. Impressed at what he sees, James Collins Hawker later buys a block and establishes a piggery there.
10 March 1843 – James Collins Hawker drives pigs to Moorundi.
22 May 1843 – Eyre is formally awarded the Founder’s Gold Medal by the Royal Geographical Society, the first for Australian exploration. His good friend Charles Sturt was also awarded the gold medal in 1847.
2 June 1843 – 3 men rape the Aboriginal wife of one of Eyre’s helpers. Eyre arrests two straight away, but later has to allow them to go free.
Late Oct 1843 – Eyre sends in his resignation because a minority of the Legislative Council questioned the economics of the station at Moorundi.
3 Nov 1843 – Grey refuses to accept Eyre’s resignation and returns it for reconsideration.
6 Nov 1843 – Eyre withdraws his resignation.
4 Dec 1843 – Sets out with Scott, Tenbury and a white policeman to check on overlanders and on tribes up the Murray and Darling. A second intention was an exploratory investigation of sections of the Darling and of the Mount Lyall environs.
8 Dec 1843 – Reaches Rufus.
12 Dec 1843 – Reaches Darling after following an anabranch he discovered.
15 Dec 1843 – Illness causes Eyre to begin his premature return to Moorundi.
11 March 1844 – Grey grants Eyre 18 months leave on half pay to return to England to recuperate.
9 May 1844 – Colonists, hearing that he is going on leave, award Eyre a testimonial gift of money to show their appreciation for his contribution to South Australia.
17 August 1844 – Sturt’s Central Australian Expedition reaches Moorundi.
21 August 1844 – Expedition proceeds from Moorundi, but Sturt stays behind for despatches.
24 August 1844 – Eyre, Sturt and Tenbury ride out to catch up with the ponderous expedition, which is moving slowly because of laden bullock carts and ration sheep.
12 Sept 1844 – Having seen them past the Rufus and having arranged their guides and messengers as far as Laidley’s Ponds, Eyre leaves Sturt’s party to continue their explorations towards the Centre. It is his last return down the Murray and he takes the opportunity to investigate certain hills and countryside near Mt Bryant.
16 Sept 1844 – Arrives once more at Moorundi.
21 Sept 1844 – Struck down by a falling tree branch thumping into his forehead during a gale.
24 Sept 1844 – Sends a letter to Grey offering his services to race to meet Sturt, whose party appeared to be heading into danger from hostile Aborigines.
27 Sept 1844 – Grey responds that he will come to Moorundi to direct operations to relieve Sturt, should these become necessary.
9 Oct 1844 – Grey confers on Eyre the authority to organise any rescue mission to help Sturt. By then, the immediate threat to Sturt’s party appears to have diminished and Grey has already returned to his duties in Adelaide.
5 Nov 1844 – Eyre writes to Grey requesting to know his successor at Moorundi as he hopes to sail within a month and time would be needed to hand over.
30 Nov 1844 – Eyre writes a final briefing to Grey regarding the successful handover of duties to William Nation at Moorundi.
17 Dec 1844 – Sails out of Adelaide bound for England aboard Symmetry, on 18 months’ leave.
He was just 29 years old and would never return to live in Australia.
After Australia (brief)
mid-1845 – Returns to England and publishes his Journals regarding explorations to the North and to Albany, plus descriptions of the manners and customs of Aborigines.
26 Jan 1846 – Gladstone, Prime Minister of England, introduces Eyre and his two Aboriginal protégés to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Buckingham Palace, who were suitably impressed and pleased.
Dec 1846 – Commissioned as Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand.
1847 – 1853 – Serves as Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand, centred at Wellington. Married Adelaide Ormond in 1850 in Wellington New Zealand during a double wedding with a Maori couple, to illustrate to the New Zealanders that their Lieutenant-Governor was no racialist.
April 1853 – Sails to England from New Zealand, reaching England in September.
Oct 1854 – April 1859 – Lieutenant Governor of St Vincent, an island in the Caribbean, West Indies.
1859 – Completes his “Autobiographical Narrative”.
April 1859 – April 1860 – Acting Governor in Chief of the Leeward Islands, West Indies.
11 April 1860 – Returns to England.
Jan 1862 – April 1864 –Temporary Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica during absence of Governor Charles Darling because of illness. (Charles Darling was the nephew and erstwhile private secretary of Sir Ralph Darling, the Governor of NSW after whom the Darling River had been named.)
April 1864 – Appointed Governor in Chief of Jamaica when Darling relinquishes the post.
11 Oct 1865 – Revolt at Morant Bay.
13 Oct 1865 – Martial Law declared by Eyre.
23 Oct 1865 – George William Gordon hanged at Morant Bay as instigator of the rebellion.
1 Jan 1866 – Royal Commission appointed to investigate Jamaican rebellion and its aftermath. Eyre suspended from office pending their report.
18 June 1866 – Royal Commission releases its report to the public.
June 1866 – Government of Lord John Russell in England falls, in part because of the Jamaican “Eyre Affair”.
July 1866 – Eyre is relieved of duty as Governor of Jamaica after questions are raised regarding excessive punishments during Martial Law.
24 July 1866 – Eyre is given a hero’s send-off from Jamaica as he sails for England aboard Solent.
Late-1866 –1870 – Eyre faces persecution in the English press and the threat of a series of trials for murder. None of the trials proceeded as far as court, but his legal fees threatened to ruin him financially.
July 1872 – British Government pays Eyre’s legal fees.
1874 – Disraeli’s Government awards Eyre the pension of a retired colonial governor.
11 Jan 1883 – Writes appreciative letter acknowledging recovery of Baxter’s bones (minus skull) which can now have “a decent burial.”
After returning to England 1866 – 1901, he lives in forced retirement at different locations, his final years being at Walreddon Manor in Devon.
30 Nov 1901 – Dies aged 86 and is buried at Tavistock, England. Survived by wife Ada, four sons and one daughter Mary.
1941 – A century after Eyre returned from Albany, the Eyre Highway opened as the first road directly linking Adelaide and Perth: it was only sealed in 1976! This was 135 years after Edward John Eyre had blazed the trail. It boasts one straight stretch of 146 km putting drivers at risk from fatigue, and has served as an ad hoc runway for Royal Flying Doctor Service planes.