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Taking it to the edge: Land: To the north - Goyder and Swinden

'It would be perfectly useless to repeat the number of times we were deceived by mirage, and surprised by the enormous refraction peculiar to these plains...'
Goyder, GW 'Northern exploration' South Australian Parliamentary Paper no. 72, 1857 p. 4

GW Goyder

Edward Eyre's supposed horseshoe of salt lakes had hindered exploration in the north of the state for some 15 years.  Finally in the late 1850s the puzzle would be resolved - the continuous horseshoe was in fact a number of lakes, and there were ways through them, to the north-east and the north-west.  Access to the centre of the continent was found.  Amongst the many who contributed to discovering a pathway through, the four primary pathfinders were Benjamin Herschel Babbage, John McDouall Stuart, Peter Egerton Warburton and Augustus Charles Gregory. Others also played a part. In 1856 Babbage was employed by the South Australian government to search for gold in the area that Eyre had explored in the 1840s.  Travelling north from the Flinders Ranges he found a northward flowing creek, the MacDonnell, and the lake it drained into - Blanchewater (later Lake Blanche).  Pushing on towards Eyre's Mount Hopeless Babbage was told of a passage through the lakes, but did not himself pursue it. He named a nearby hill Mount Hopeful which Goyder would later rename Mount Babbage. Gregory would be the first European to use this route when he approached it from the north-east, coming down Cooper and Strzelecki Creeks, between Lakes Blanche and Callabonna and onto Adelaide.

In May 1857 the Assistant Surveyor-General GW Goyder explored the country north of Mount Serle. Where Eyre had found parched country and dry creek beds, Goyder found flowing water and luxuriant grasses. Fresh water filled the eastern arm of Lake Torrens. This was enough to again fill the minds of officials with thoughts of an inland sea. In July AH Freeling the Surveyor-General decided to investigate for himself Goyder's findings. In a few months the water had dried up considerably, and the men became bogged in the mud. The flat bottomed boat they had taken to float in the inland sea would not do so in the meagre six inches of water. The fortuitous heavy rains of March had deceived Goyder. He was not the first, nor the last explorer to be deceived in this way by the spontaneous response of the desert to rain.

Swinden and Hack

 At the same time a small party of squatters D Thompson, Murdoch Campbell, Charles Swinden and E Stocks set out to explore west of Lake Torrens. Pernatty Creek and Lagoon were discovered together with good saltbush and grassed country, Swinden comparing the country to that 'about Booboorowie and Bundaleer…but this is decidedly a salt-bush country, although there is a plenty of grass and herbage among the salt-bush.' Meanwhile Stephen Hack was exploring the north-west, starting from Streaky Bay. By late June 1857 his party was approaching the Gawler Ranges, and discovered well watered grassy country. Hack rounded the southern end of Lake Gairdner and discovered the apparently permanent water at Yardea, Pondanna, Kodondo, Cockatoo Springs, Polturkana and Paney-the country had the appearance of useful agricultural land. More apparently good country was found north and west of the lake. Hack's explorations had discovered 4000 square miles of useful pastoral country. It also made more urgent the suggestion that South Australia should annex the no man's land between its western border and the eastern border of Western Australia and which was technically part of New South Wales. (This westward expansion was ratified on 22 July 1861).

Babbage finds Coulthard's body
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Babbage writes his report
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Babbage's map
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Burtt finds a path through the horseshoe lake
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Burtt is sent out to link up with Warburton's main part
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Burtt's path through the lake
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Corroberribera
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Coulthard found
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Coulthard's last message
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Elizabeth Creek
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Emerald Spring
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Emerald Spring described
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