The History of Australia Exploration from 1788-88. Favenc, Ernest.

Sydney: Turner and Henderson 1888, p 202. (Excerpt) .

Western Australia.

 

 

In 1861, whilst Gregory was opening up his new country, Messrs. Dempster, Clarkson, and Harper started from Northam to make one more trial to the east to get through the dense scrubs and the salt-lake country into a more promising region. It was purely a private expedition; one of those that have done so much of the work of discovery in Australia; each member of the party found his own horses and equipment.

They left on the 3rd July, and for many days met with nothing but the usual alternations of scrub and sandy plains dotted with granite hills. On the 19th, we find in their diary the first mention of the legend amongst the blacks of white men having been murdered on a large lake to the eastward. Their informant was a native who was with them for some time as a guide, and his authority was a great traveller of the name of Boodgin, who must have revelled in the possession of a singularly fertile imagination. The account of Boodgin was to the effect that three white men with horses had many years ago come to a large lake of salt water, a long way to the eastward, and after travelling along the shore for some time, they turned back, and were either killed by the jimbras, or perished from want of water. Thus ran Mr. Boodgin's story, which we shall immediately have to refer to.

Still endeavouring to reach to the east by various detours, on the 24th they came to the largest hill they had yet seen--Mount Kennedy--and at the end of the month found themselves still in the lake district. For sixty miles they had traced the lakes, and from the hills could see a continuation of the low range they were on. On one of them (Lake Grace) they had speech with a few natives, who repeated what they had formerly heard, as to the death of three white men, far away at some interior lake or inland sea. They were also acquainted with the before-mentioned Boodgin, who, unfortunately, had in some way offended them; so he was not present, the others having announced an intention of spearing him on the first opportunity. These men gave an account of the jimbra, or jingra, a strange animal, male and female, which they described as resembling a monkey, very fierce, and would attack men when it caught one singly. Thinking there might be a confusion of names, the explorers asked if the jimbra, or jingra, was the same as the ginka--the native name for devil. This, however, was not so, as the natives asserted that the devil, or ginka, was never seen, but that the jimbra was both seen and felt.

From this point the party returned homeward, having, at any rate, demonstrated the fact that the thickets to the eastward were not impenetrable, and that no insurmountable obstacles existed to further progress.

Whatever may have been the origin of the native tradition about the deaths of three white men, which Forrest afterwards investigated, it must seem strange that the natives should in the jimbra have described an animal (the ape) they could not possibly have ever seen. It may be mentioned here that reports about the bones of cattle having been found on the outskirts of Western Australia had been circulated in the Eastern colonies before Leichhardt left.

 

 

 

 

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