[EDITOR'S NOTE: The following newspaper cutting was found in Governor Hindmarsh's diary and is the account of The Ascent of Mount Lofty as it finally appeared after its tone was "softened" by Robert Thomas. Hindmarsh has made a handwritten note in the margin; "Much better. Far less silly."]
ASCENT OF MOUNT LOFTY.
We have been favoured by Mr. B. Hutchinson with the following account of his ascent to Mount Lofty, which we publish with great pleasure, and in his own words. Mr. Hutchinson's track has since been followed by various individuals, and we are informed that from the summit of the range immediately eastward of Mount Lofty Lake Alexandrina is distinctly visible. Its shores, we regret to say, have not yet been visited or seen by the Surveyors, or by any of the more enterprising colonists, although it cannot be more than forty miles distant. The attempt at present, in the depth of winter is not to be expected but in the course of the coming spring, it is to be hoped we shall know something, of the boundaries of this Lake beyond which Captain STURT disclosed several years ago.
"Our first attempt to gain the summit of Mount Lofty, which was represented to me as an undertaking requiring considerable exercise and perseverance, as well as a sound knowledge of the hills, was begun on the bank of the brook, which flows from a source in the right hand side of the Mount, as seen from Adelaide, Our initial progress was slow, and impeded by the trees and bushes by the side of the brook, being in height nearly as tall as our heads, and by the undergrowth of creeping plants.
So great were the exertions required that we welcome the prospect of rest when we resolved to proceed no further than what was beyond a point which impeded our view. We were remarkably surprised by seeing a wall of rock about fifty or sixty foot high, which stretched across the ravine, and from the top of it leapt the brook which has so long been our companion.
We determined at once to proceed and ascend the cascade; here our attention was first called to the vicinity of the grass tree, our nostrils being invaded by a strong honey-like smell, which proceeded from the resin which exudes from the stalk, accumulating in very hard lumps, at the base. We were not long in discovering the cause of the agreeable odour, and procured some lumps of the resin, which, however, required repeated blows of a heavy stick to remove it from its situation.
Continuing to trace the stream against obstacles as great as those which we had hitherto met, we at last came to a spot where the course suddenly turned to the left, and became so steep, narrow, and obstructed, that we were obliged to abandon it, and ascend a hill on the right.
Observing from this position a fearfully deep and steep ravine, which lay between us and the object of our ambition, and being warned by our feeling as well as our watches that it was time to return, we commenced a retreat but not by the course of the stream—we had no desire to try that again.
Our next attempt was by ascending the hill on the right hand side of the stream; this took us for some time a great way to the right of the direct course, but still our progress was quicker than if we had held a straight course, and descend the vallies. After some time, the ridge turned to the left, towards Mount Lofty, and we began to flatter ourselves we should arrive there without having to cross any valley, but as we proceeded, vallies seemed to grow, and the Mount to appear as far off as ever.
Notwithstanding this, however, after ascending a very steep and stony hill, covered with gum trees, very close, and shooting up into tall, straight, slender stems, we found ourselves at last on the highest part of the range, after five hours of incessant exertion. We attempted to light a fire, in order to notify the success of our exertions to our friends in the capital but every thing was so wet, that we were obliged to submit to the frustration of returning without being able to do so.
During our descent, we thought we observed a ridge on the other side of the ravine through which the stream runs, which led at once from Mount Lofty down to the plain without a single valley to cross, and we thought it worth another day's work to ascertain if such were the case. This day we were absent for nine hours, without having sat down during the time.
The third and successful attempt, which took us to the summit in three hours, without having to cross a single valley, and which proved a pleasant day's excursion, instead of one of great labour, was, by following the course of the stream for a short time until it divided into two branches then by crossing it, and ascending a steep hill, we found a ridge which ran nearly in a straight line to the top of the range. We discovered a great many new and beautiful plants; grass trees abounded, but from the ground having been recently burnt, we observed very few whose stalks were above ground. We discovered several mushrooms, two of which I ate, to satisfy myself of their wholesomeness, and we also saw today the first snail. Our view was much interrupted by the trees, but between them, we could observe to the eastward and northward, ranges of hills gradually becoming fewer, and covered with wood. To the westward we saw two ranges of high hills across Gulph St. Vincent, and we had a perfect view of all the branches and winding of the harbour. The trees prevented our seeing anything to the southward. We met no natives, and with the execution of four wild dogs, which we found at the base of the hills, before we commenced our ascent, saw no living creatures but a very few small birds. Being thirsty, I ate a portion of the base of the young flower stalk of three grass trees, and found it cool, juicy, and of an agreeable flavour. I believe it is the resin of this tree which is used by the natives to fasten sharp stones (and since our arrival, broken glass) to the heads of their spears. We descended by the same track by which we had ascended, satisfied that no easier way can be discovered.