State Library of South Australia logo Taking it to the edge
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future

The expedition reaches Escape Cliffs
Title : The expedition reaches Escape Cliffs The expedition reaches Escape Cliffs
Add To My SA Memory
Creator : McKinlay, John, 1819-1872
Source : Parliamentary paper (South Australia. Parliament); no. 82 of 1866, p. 21
Place Of Creation : Adelaide
Publisher : Governement Printer
Date of creation : 1866
Format : Magazine
Catalogue record
The State Library of South Australia is keen to find out more about SA Memory items. We encourage you to contact the Library if you have additional information about any of these items.
Copyright : Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :

John McKinlay briefly describes the construction of and the voyage in the horse hide punt. The expedition boarded the Pioneer on 29 June and began their voyage down river and around the coast to the safety of Escape Cliffs. The men needed to bail constantly against leakage and while McKinlay omitted to say it here there was also a problem with crocodiles and sharks which were attracted by the smell of the horse hides as they began to rot. The river had also become salty more quickly than anticipated and the supply of fresh water was quickly exhausted. Coupled with the dry horseflesh that was their food supply, morale was low. McKinlay also summarised his findings on the best location for the new settlement. None of the sites he had seen had received a full recommendation from him, but in the end it was Port Darwin than won.

The voyage in the punt around the coast to Escape Cliffs took seven days and when the punt came ashore at Escape Cliffs the skins disintegrated leaving only the framework of saplings. McKinlay arranged to hire the schooner Julia to conduct a coastal survey for a township site. The Daly River which flowed into Anson Bay was explored by schooner and then further upstream by boat, and they then explored the potential of Port Darwin. Both McKinlay and Edmunds were enthusiastic about this harbour and its promise, but in his report to the South Australian government he weighed the advantages and disadvantages of all the sites he had seen. In 1869 George Goyder finally pronounced that he would begin the town surveys at Port Darwin.
Related names :

McKinlay, John, 1819-1872

Coverage year : 1866
Place : Escape Cliffs (NT)
Further reading :
Lockwood, Kim, Big John: the extraordinary adventures of John McKinlay 1819-1872 Melbourne: State Library of Victoria, 1995
Browne, L. F. S John McKinlay and the Mary River mud Darwin: State Library of the Northern Territory, 1993
Kerr, Margaret The surveyors: the story of the founding of Darwin Adelaide: Rigby, 1971
Lockwood, Douglas, The front door: Darwin, 1869-1969 [Adelaide]: Rigby, [1968]
Powell, Alan, Far country: a short history of the Northern Territory Carlton South, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 2000
Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :

State Library of South Australia: Mortlock Wing. Taking it to the edge August 2004-



About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes


My SA Memory


What's on