INCLUDING AN ACCOUNT OF THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE
ABORIGINES AND THE STATE OF THEIR RELATIONS WITH EUROPEANS.
by EYRE, EDWARD JOHN (1815-1901)
TO LIEUT.-COLONEL GEORGE GAWLER, K.H. M.R.G.S.
UNDER WHOSE AUSPICES, AS GOVERNOR OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA,
THE EXPEDITIONS, DESCRIBED IN THE FOLLOWING PAGES,
WERE UNDERTAKEN, THESE VOLUMES ARE RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED,
AS A TRIBUTE OF GRATITUDE FOR HIS KINDNESS AND RESPECT FOR HIS VIRTUES,
BY THE AUTHOR.
In offering to the public an account of Expeditions of Discovery in
Australia, undertaken in the years 1840-1, and completed in July of the
latter year, some apology may be deemed necessary for this narrative not
having sooner appeared, or perhaps even for its being now published at
With respect to the first, the author would remark that soon after his
return to South Australia upon the close of the Expeditions, and when
contemplating an immediate return to England, he was invited by the
Governor of the Colony to remain, and undertake the task of
re-establishing peace and amicable relations with the numerous native
tribes of the Murray River, and its neighbourhood, whose daring and
successful outrages in 1841, had caused very great losses to, and created
serious apprehensions among the Colonists.
Hoping that his personal knowledge of and extensive practical experience
among the Aborigines might prove serviceable in an employment of this
nature, the author consented to undertake it; and from the close of
September 1841, until December 1844, was unremittingly occupied with the
duties it entailed. It was consequently not in his power to attend to the
publication of his travels earlier, nor indeed can he regret a delay,
which by the facilities it afforded him of acquiring a more intimate
knowledge of the character and habits of the Aborigines, has enabled him
to render that portion of his work which relates to them more
comprehensive and satisfactory than it otherwise would have been.
With respect to the second point, or the reasons which have led to this
work being published at all, the author would observe that he has been
led to engage in it rather from a sense of duty, and at the instance of
many of his friends, than from any wish of his own. The greater portion
of the country he explored was of so sterile and worthless a description,
and the circumstances which an attempt to cross such a desert region led
to, were of so distressing a character, that he would not willingly have
revived associations, so unsatisfactory and so painful.
It has been his fate, however, to cross, during the course of his
explorations, a far greater extent of country than any Australian
traveller had ever done previously, and as a very large portion of this
had never before been trodden by the foot of civilized man, and from its
nature is never likely to be so invaded again, it became a duty to record
the knowledge which was thus obtained, for the information of future
travellers and as a guide to the scientific world in their inquiries into
the character and formation of so singular and interesting a country.