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South Australia illustrated Plate 3 The River Murray above Moorundi
Title : South Australia illustrated Plate 3 The River Murray above Moorundi South Australia illustrated Plate 3 The River Murray above Moorundi
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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 3: The River Murray above Moorundi. Part of the text accompanying the illustration reads 'The valley of the Murray is cut through a fossil formation, along which the rivers sweeps in magnificent reaches from side to side, so the perpendicular cliffs are perpendicular to its margins, whilst at other times they slope up at a distance of one or two miles from it, the intervening flats being a rich alluvial deposit covered in reeds. Fine gum trees (Eucalyptus) grow along the banks, forming delightful shady recesses, with the grassy turf beneath them, entirely divested from underwood ... The cliffs represented in the plate, are a yellow fossiliferous sandstone, enclosing layers of gypsum, in which spiral shells occur of the transparency of glass. At Moorundi, is a government station ... and many flourishing Settlers are scattered along the banks of the river.'

Charles Sturt was the first European to sail down the River Murray in 1829-30. His descriptions of the land adjacent to the river in its lower reaches contributed to the decision for the settlement of South Australia. He writes in general of the lower river below modern Morgan as follows:

'As we proceeeded down it, the valley expanded to the width of two miles; the alluvial flats became proportionally larger; and a small lake generally occupied their centre. They were extensively covered with reeds and grass, for which reason, notwithstanding that they were little elevated above the level of the stream, I do not think they are subject to overflow... the valley may be decidedly laid down as a most desirable spot, whether we regard the richness of its soil, its rock formation, its locality, or the extreme facility of water communication along it.' (Sturt, vol. 2, pp151/52)

In 1839 Edward Eyre returned to Adelaide from explorations to the north of the Spencer Gulf by travelling down the River Murray. He discovered the rich alluvial flats of the lower river and in particular the area around Moorundie, which he subsequently arranged to purchase.

Coverage year : 1847
Period : 1836-1851
Region : Riverland and Murraylands
Further reading :

Davis, Peter S Man and the Murray Kensington, N.S.W.: New South Wales University Press, 1978

Eyre, Edward John, Journals of expeditions of discovery into Central Australia ..., Adelaide: Libraries Board of South Australia, 1964

Langley, Michael, Sturt of the Murray: father of Australian exploration London, Hale, 1969

The Murray edited by Norman Mackay and David Eastburn Canberra: Murray-Darling Basin Commission, 1990

Sturt, Charles, Two expeditions into the interior of southern Australia, during the years 1828, 1829, 1830, and 1831: with observations on the soil, climate, and general resources of the Colony of New South Wales Adelaide: Public Library of South Australia, 1963

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

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