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Taking it to the edge: Rivers : Minor rivers

'…looking towards the ocean, one continuous wall of foam shuts out the horizon, the surf rollers meeting the current of the river, with impetuous force. Around, is a wilderness of sand; and as the repeated lines of rollers rise and break upon the shore with a hollow moaning sound, the dull chime of their waves is responded to by the harrowing shrieks of multitudes of sea fowl that resort thither.'
Angas, George French South Australia illustrated 1847, Plate 43

Collet Barker had found the Onkaparinga River in 1831 while searching for an alternative mouth for the River Murray. With four others he travelled upstream as far as the horseshoe bend at Noarlunga.   'The party were quite delighted with the aspect of the country on either side of the inlet, and with the bold and romantic scenery behind them.  The former bore the appearance of natural meadows, lightly timbered, and covered with a variety of grasses. The soil was observed to be a rich, fat, chocolate coloured earth...' (Sturt, Charles Two expeditions into the interior of Southern Australia during the years 1828, 1829, 1830, and 1831... vol. 2 p. 233). Barker also discovered the Sturt River and the Port River Inlet, seeing both of these from the summit of Mt Lofty, which he climbed on 18-19 April. He subsequently explored them both, reporting favourably on the Sturt River.

After the settlement of South Australia in 1836, the question of the navigability of the Murray Mouth was much discussed.  Numerous attempts were made in whaleboats or small craft with differing results.  Encounter Bay was suggested as the most suitable place for the capital of the colony because of its closeness to the mouth of the River Murray, but William Light had disagreed because of the low sandy coast and the continuous surf. 

In November 1837 Young Bingham Hutchinson and T Bewes Strangways decided to test the passage of the mouth.  Travelling overland to the whaling station at Encounter Bay they borrowed a whaleboat and crew.  The channel was negotiated safely and they continued upstream discovering Currency Creek, and naming Hindmarsh Island, Point McLeay and Point Sturt.  From here they returned to their depot as provisions were running low.  Their expedition ended when Sir John Jeffcott and Captain Blenkinsop from the whaling station attempted to sail through the mouth: their boat was overwhelmed by the waves and they, along with two of the crew were drowned.

The dangers of the mouth were becoming apparent, but there were also occasions when it could be crossed in safety.  Charles Sturt, who had arrived in South Australia after overlanding a herd of cattle, next investigated the mouth but was unsuccessful in entering from the sea.  WS Pullen who served under William Light, was successful in negotiating the mouth from both sides.  The outlet however had still not been negotiated by anything larger than a whaleboat.  Pullen in 1841, took the government cutter Waterwitch safely through the mouth - this vessel was still only 10 tons, and it would be another 12 years before Francis Cadell's Lady Augusta negotiated the mouth after her maiden voyage from Sydney.

Meanwhile away from the vexed question of the Murray Mouth the settlers were investigating the country around Adelaide.  Young Bingham Hutchinson and Robert Cock led a small party south in December 1837 towards Lake Alexandrina and discovered the Angas and Bremer Rivers.  In January 1838 Dr Imlay and Mr Hill explored towards the River Murray, and another group consisting of Hill, Oakden, Wood and Willis was out for 12 days and travelled towards the river.  Other men discovered good country by following the River Torrens to its source, and discovered the River Gawler, again with good pastoral land.  The scene was now set for venturing further afield.

Currency Creek is discovered
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Encounter Bay is most eligible for the first town
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Jeffcott and Blenkinsop are drowned
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Strangways and Hutchinson set out
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The boat is stove in by a snag
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The expedition turns back
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