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Rapid Bay
Title : Rapid Bay Rapid Bay
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Creator : Henderson, James, artist
Source : B 2434/41
Date of creation : ca. 1843
Format : Artwork
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Description :

View of the cliffs and coastline at Rapid Bay in watercolour on paper by Henderson.

This item was probably sketched by during the Frome expedition. The expedition returned to an area north of the Flinders Ranges about 16 August 1843. See Pass in Rowe's Creek.

Three years earlier, Edward Eyre had explored north and west of the Flinders Ranges, and after sighting several salt lakes concluded that a continuous horse-shaped Lake Torrens created a barrier to the north of the continent. As Surveyor-General, Frome attempted to find the southern boundary of the eastern section of the lake. He was unable find this boundary, and reported that the land eastwards was not suitable for agriculture. Acceptance of the 'horseshoe myth' is understandable given the difficulties experienced by the expeditions in exploring the harsh terrain. In addition, Lake Torrens salt lake extends for about 250 kilometres and has filled with water only once in the last 150 years.

The horseshoe myth was challenged in the late 1850s when Acting Deputy Surveyor-General George Goyder reached Lake Torrens and found it surrounded by vegetation. In 1858 Babbage, Warburton and Gregory proved that the 'horseshoe Lake Torrens' in fact comprised many separate lakes.

Born in Scotland, James Henderson came out to Australia for health reasons, travelling with a party of Royal Engineers under E.C. Frome. He was engaged in numerous surveys, particularly around Lake Alexandrina and the NW bend of the Murray River, and during this time developed a reputation as an artist. In 1841 he transferred to the Public Works Department where he remained until returning to England in 1851. He was a member of Frome's Expedition to Lake Frome, July 8 - April 29, 1843, and kept a journal (D 7504 L) and sketchbook (B 2434) of 42 drawings.

Captain Edward Charles Frome, Royal Engineer, arrived in South Australia in September 1839 to take up the task of surveying South Australia. The country blocks were his immediate priority. This was a task that the first Surveyor-General, William Light had been unable to complete because of interference from London. Frome had an onerous task as the colonists clamoured for their land. He had not only to revise the work that had been inadequately marked by George Kingston, Light's second-in-command, but also to undertake the commencement of the Special Surveys of very large country blocks. By 1841 Frome had laid out roads and secondary towns and taken accurate trigonometrical survey to the limits of settlement. Frome returned to England in 1849 and retired in 1877 with the rank of General.

Related names :

Fleurieu Peninsula, S. Aust.

Frome, Edward, Charles, 1802-1890

Henderson, James, 1821-1903

Eyre, Edward John, 1815-1901

Sturt, Charles, 1795-1869

Coverage year : 1843
Period : 1836-1851
Place : Rapid Bay, South Australia
Region : Fleurieu Peninsula
Further reading :

Auhl, Ian and Denis Marfleet. Journey to Lake Frome 1843: paintings and sketches by Edward Charles Frome and James Henderson, Blackwood, S.A.: Lynton Publications, 1977

Anderson, J. M. Introduction to surveying New York: McGraw-Hill, c1985

Auhl, Ian Journey to Lake Frome 1843 : paintings and sketches by Edward Charles Frome and James Henderson Blackwood, S.A. : Lynton Publications, [1977?]

Cooper, L. T. Edward Charles Frome 1978

Dutton, G Edward Charles Frome 1974

Frome, Edward Charles Careful exploration comes first 1850

Frome, Edward Charles, Colonial surveying Adelaide: Public Library of South Australia, 1962

Frome, Edward Charles Daily meteorological observations 1850

Frome, Edward Charles Explorers overview of new country 1850

Newland, B. C Edward Charles Frome 1962

Porter, J. R. The priceless gift - an ordered land: a brief history of the early surveying of South Australia Adelaide?: Institution of Surveyors?, 1986?

South Australia. Survey Dept Field service: handbook for government surveyors compiled by C. H. Harris Adelaide: Govt. Printer, 1914

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