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South Australia illustrated Plate 43 Sea mouth of the Murray
Title : South Australia illustrated Plate 43 Sea mouth of the Murray South Australia illustrated Plate 43 Sea mouth of the Murray
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Creator : Angas, George French, 1822-1886
Place Of Creation : London
Publisher : Thomas M'Lean
Date of creation : 1847
Additional Creator : York Gate Library ;
Format : Book
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Description :

George French Angas (1822-1886), naturalist and painter, was born on 25 April 1822 at Newcastle upon Tyne, England, fourth child and eldest son of George Fife Angas and his wife Rosetta, née French. He sailed for Australia in 1843 in the Augustus and reached Adelaide in January 1844. He rapidly set about an extensive series of journeys to the Murray Lakes, River Murray, Barossa Valley, Fleurieu Peninsula and the South East, capturing his impressions of the young colony - its landscapes, its inhabitants and the flora and fauna. Angas remained in South Australia until July when he left for New Zealand. He returned to South Australia in January 1845 and remained for six months.

During these visits to South Australia Angas went with William Giles to the area in the vicinity of the mouth of the River Murray, and with Governor (Sir) George Grey to the south-east of the province, Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln. These journeys Angas recorded in water-colour drawings which were shown in Adelaide in June 1845 in the Legislative Council chamber. With his impressive portfolio of watercolours he then sailed for London and in 1847 published the magnificent folio South Australia illustrated, which has served ever since as a glowing snapshot of South Australia in 1844 and a valuable record of the South Australian landscape before it was much changed by white settlement. The book contains 60 plates with accompanying text.

Plate 43: 'Sea mouth of the Murray'. Part of the text accompanying the illustration reads 'At the eastern extremity of Encounter Bay, the junction of the River Murray with the Southern Ocean takes place. A low sandy coast, completely open to the ocean, stretches away to the South East, forming the outer shore or sand-hills of the Coorung ... the dull chime of their waves is responded to by the harrowing shreiks of multitudes of sea fowl that resort thither. To the left is a sandy bluff, called Barker's Knoll ...'. There appears to be the remnants of a whale's skeleton in the mid-ground.

After the long journey by whaleboat down the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers, Charles Sturt reached the mouth of the Murray 12 February 1830. He completed the last few miles on foot as mud flats prevented the passage of the boat. A few days previously as the Murray flowed into Lake Alexandrina Sturt had written;

... I immediately foresaw that, in all probability, we should be disappointed in finding any practicable communication between the the lake and the ocean, as it was evident that the former was not much influenced by tides.

When Sturt walked over the last sand-hill to reach the Murray Mouth some days later he saw the channel to the sea was only a quarter of a mile wide, but the water deep and the current was strong. However;

... the mouth of the channel is defended by a double line of breakers, amidst which, it would be dangerous to venture... thus were our fears of the impracticability and inutility of the channel of communication between the lake and the ocean confirmed.

About his illustration, Angas wrote;

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 noise ... Later he summarised the general opinion of the time it is generally considered that the entrance to the Murray from the sea is impracticable, it being impossible for a vessel to make a passage against the united force of the current, and the immense sweep of rollers,....
Coverage year : 1847
Period : 1836-1851
Region : Riverland and Murraylands
Further reading :

Tregenza, John. George French Angas, artist, traveller and naturalist, 1822-1886. Adelaide: Art Gallery Board of South Australia, 1980

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