Edmund Kennedy

On the return of Mitchell, the further persecution of exploration in these districts was left to his assistant surveyor, Edmund Kennedy, who, having been sent to trace the course of the supposed Victoria River, followed its banks for 150 miles below the place where Mitchell had left it. He was then forced to return from want of provisions. He had gone far enough, however, to show that this stream was only the higher part of Cooper's Creek, discovered not long before by Captain Sturt. This river course of about 12 hundred miles ; and it is, therefore, the largest of Central Australia. But its waters spread out into the broad marshes of Lake Eyre and are there lost by evaporation.

Disaster After Disaster

In 1848 Kennedy was sent to explore Cape York Peninsula. He was landed with a party of twelve men at Rockingham Bay and striking inland to the north-west, he travelled towards Cape York, where a small schooner was waiting to receive him. The difficulties met by the explorers were immense; for, in these tropical regions, dense jungles of prickly shrubs impeded their course and lacerated their flesh, while vast swamps often made their journey tedious and unexpectedly long. Thinking there was no necessity for all to endure these hardships, he had left eight of his companions at Weymouth Bay, intending to call for them with the schooner. He was courageously making his way to the north with three men and his black servant, Jackey, when one of the party accidently received a severe gunshot wound, which made it impossible for him to proceed. Kennedy was now only a few miles distant from Cape York; and, leaving the wounded man under the care of the two remaining whites, he started - accompanied by Jackey- to obtain assistance from the schooner. They had not gone far and were on the banks of the Escape River, when they perceived that their steps were closely followed by a tribe of antives, whose swarthy bodies, from time to time, appeared among the trees. Kennedy now proceeded warily, keeping watch all around; but a spear , urged by an unseedn hand from among the leaves, suddenly pierced his body from behind, and he fell. The blacks rushed forward, but Jackey fired, and at the report they hastily fled. Jackey held up his master's head for a short time, weeping bitterly. Kennedy knew he was dying and he gave his faithful servant instructions as to the papers he was to carry, and the course he must follow. Not long after this he breathed his last, and Jackey, with his tomahawk, dug a shallow grave for him in the forest. He spread his coat and shirt in the hollow, laid the body tenderly upon them, and covered it with leaves and branches. Then, packing up the journals, he plunged into the creek, along which he walked, with only his head above the surface, until he neared the shore. Hastily making for the north, he reached the Cape, where he was taken on board the schooner. This expedition was one of the most disastrous of the inland explorations. The wounded man, and the two who had been left with him, were never afterwards heard of; whilst the party of eight, who had been left at Weymouth Bay, after constant struggles with the natives, had been reduced, by starvation and disease, to only two ere the expected relief arrived. 

 

History of Australia