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david coombe


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Research Journal




A Governor’s Expedition, a Journal, a Map and Angas’s Sketches, 1844


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 Click on this link to a Trove list: Expedition to S.E. South Australia, April-May 1844 to see all the resources for this article, including the map.


It was a long newspaper article for which I corrected the OCR text in NLA’s Trove – about a page and a half with about 14,000 words. And it was slow to read as it was small type and not very clear. But it was an important article; it was the journal of an exploratory expedition in the southeast of South Australia in April and May 1844 led by Governor Grey. I was particularly interested in it because one of the expedition members was the colonial artist George French Angas (1822–1886).


This was not a trail blazing expedition but followed and crossed some existing tracks and water wells. “Our track may be known, as it is well beaten, three drays having kept in line through it.” Some of the route had previously been traversed by one of the expeditioners: Charles Bonney (1813–1897), South Australia’s Land Commissioner. As an “overlander” who had driven livestock to early South Australia, he had pioneered a route from the Grampians in Victoria to Adelaide in 1839.


The expedition journal – running from 10 April to 22 May 1844 – matched many of Angas’ sketches and paintings. I find Trove’s list facility to be an excellent tool to chronologically place artworks. I made a list to link reports of the expedition (from Trove’s “Newspapers” zone) with Angas’ works (from the “Pictures, photos, objects” zone).


Among the artworks in the “Pictures” search results was a map held by the State Library of South Australia (SLSA). The map (SLSA, BRG 42/119/8 – detail from which is shown at left) is ink and watercolour on paper, about 500mm x 280mm, and seemingly fragile with ragged edges where pieces have separated. The place names in both map and journal matched well. Could this be a map of the expedition?


The map’s catalogue entry noted “A researcher has suggested that this map has very strong significance for South Australian history, as it was possibly drawn by Charles Bonney in 1839…” But it could not be this early, as it included places only named by Governor Grey on this 1844 expedition: Lake George and Lake Eliza (May 1), Lake Frome and Lake Bonney (May 4) and Mount Burr (May 7). Finally the most solid piece of internal evidence is that the expedition's depot (set up on May 3) is also marked on this map.


The map is clearly of this 1844 expedition.


The newspaper identifies that the journal was written by expeditioner Thomas Burr, the Deputy Surveyor General. In his journal Burr notes that he took bearings during the trip. Furthermore, Burr is identified as the author of an expedition map by Governor Grey. In a despatch to Colonial Secretary Lord Stanley dated Adelaide, 22 June 1844. Grey writes:


“The accompanying map of the newly-explored country, executed by Mr Deputy Surveyor-General Burr contains plans and elevations of two volcanic mountains, which convey a very good idea of the character of these hills; and the enclosed sketch by Mr F. Angas, a young artist who accompanied me, represents very faithfully one of the most remarkable of another species of craters, which are very numerous in this country and which are filled with fresh water, and are almost unfathomable.”


In the brief time I took to complete these research notes, SLSA’s catalogue had acquired an addendum: “Another researcher has suggested the map is of Governor Grey's trip to the South East in 1844. He named Lake Bonney on that trip after Charles Bonney who was with him.” Yes, another researcher! So instead of a completely fresh find, I have more of a confirmation plus an authorship addition.


The journal is a fascinating one and well worth a read. For one thing, Governor Grey enjoyed going to the beach! There were interesting encounters with aborigines and anticipations of encountering bushrangers.


The aforementioned Trove list Expedition to S.E. South Australia, April-May 1844 includes the map, relevant newspaper articles, Thomas Burr's journal of the expedition, and works by accompanying artist George French Angas. The Trove list almost creates an illustrated journal.


I suggest the following update to the SLSA catalogue “general notes” for the map:


This map is of Governor Grey's expedition to the south-east of South Australia in April and May 1844 and was drawn by Thomas Burr (Deputy Surveyor General). It shows places that Governor Grey names on this trip: Lake George and Lake Eliza (May 1), Lake Frome and Lake Bonney (May 4) and Mount Burr (May 7). It also marks the location of the expedition's depot (set up on May 3). Thomas Burr’s journal of the trip was published in the Southern Australian, 18 June 1844, p. 3.


Governor Grey's despatch to Colonial Secretary Lord Stanley, dated 22 June 1844 includes an expedition map and identifies fellow expeditioner Thomas Burr as its author. (South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register, 10 October 1846, p. 3.)


Burr likely made several map copies in 1844, of which this is one. This copy is stamped "South Australian Company" with date 4 June 1845.


Map place names (noting not all T’s are crossed): [Bonney’s Water-holes], The Coorong, Granite Rock, Lacepede Bay, Ross’s Creek, Mount Benson, Guichen Bay, Lake Hawdon, Lake Eliza, Lake George, Cape Martin, Rivoli Bay, Cape Lannes, Lake Frome, Lake Bonney, Cape West Banks, Cape Northumberland, River Glenelg, Mount Schanck, Mount Gambier, Mount Burr, and the “Overland Track to Port Phillip”.



David Coombe
19 April 2018


Footnote, 30 April 2018: This map was also reproduced in “South Australia and its mines, with an historical sketch of the colony, under its several administrations, to the period of Captain Grey's departure”, by Francis Dutton, 1846. This intact version of the map includes additional place names: Cape Morard de Galles, Cape Bernouilli, Cape Dombey, Cape Rabelais.


CITE THIS: David Coombe, 2018, A Governor’s Expedition, a Journal, a Map and Angas’s Sketches, 1844, accessed dd mmm yyyy, <>


19 April 2018 (original), 30 April 2018 (updated)