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HUME AND HOVELL EXPEDITION
EXAMINATION OF THE TERMINATION POINT OF THE HUME & HOVELL EXPEDITION
By Lance Pritchard
THIS REPORT CHALLENGES THE WIDELY HELD BELIEF THAT HUME & HOVELL EXPEDITION TERMINATED AT CORIO BAY PORT PHILLIP BUT IN FACT TERMINATED AT THE WERRIBEE RIVER
This document commences with a copy of a ‘powerpoint’ presentation that challenges the widely held belief that the Hume and Hovell expedition of 1824 – 1825 terminated at Hovell Creek, Corio Bay, Port Phillip, but in fact terminated at the Werribee River.
STATEMENTS WHICH POINT TO ONLY ONE CONCLUSION.
Listed below are eight statements and every statement points to only one conclusion.
Hovell’s Journal written during the expedition is at odds with Hume’s ‘Brief Statement of Facts’ written around 30 years after the expedition.
Hovell challenged Hume’s version, but his challenge was never publicised. [TROVE – The Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, November 5, 1855. HOVELL AND HUME. ]
An examination of the last four days before the termination of the expedition, as described by Hovell, clearly shows that the Werribee River was the termination point.
Hume’s story has several items which make his whole document questionable. A case in point is his claim that he was the first to see the bay from Mount Bland (now Mount Fraser, near Beveridge), and especially mentioning that Hovell was last to see the bay.
If the bay was observed from this point why would the expedition head towards Mount Cottrell and the Brisbane Ranges ???.
Please refer to the preceding powerpoint presentation for maps and an examination.
Other comments in Hume’s document relate to sailing ships SW of Geelong ??? as described by Aboriginals that Hume brought back to the expedition’s Geelong camp site.???
Hume’s document a ‘Brief Statement of Facts’, was obviously produced to take the honour and glory for the expedition. This document has almost no geographical detail of the expedition and is basically a character assassination of Hovell in which Hume has been very successful, thanks largely to the actions of the Editor of ‘The Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer.’
1. The Arndell River was the Maribyrnong River.
On the evening of the 15th December 1824 they camped at a river they named the Arndell River.
On the morning of the 16th December 1824 they crossed the Arndell and later that day reached the Bay.
Confirmation that this river was what we now call the Maribyrnong River, and not the Werribee River, is in an 1839 document titled ‘PORT PHILLIP’ that was written for ‘His Honour the Superintendent of NSW’ and reprinted in the ‘Port Phillip Gazette, Saturday 5th October 1839’ Available in TROVE.
Conformation also in TROVE; Port Phillip Gazette, Saturday 17 April 1841, Page 3 Article title - MELBOURNE RACES
The original race track was relocated from the large flat under Batman’s Hill to a site two miles away on the banks of the Arndell (Salt Water River)
Many decades later in Victoria’s history there was at least one map drawn showing the Werribee River as the Arndell, obviously to fit in with what became the popular misconception of the expedition reaching Corio Bay.
2. It would be impossible for oxen to travel 115km from the Wallan / Beverage area in three days to Hovell Creek, or as Hume stated to Geelong, which is 130km.
As a comparison, Major Mitchell stated that during his expedition his oxen ‘may’ travel 15 miles on a good day and as little as 7 miles on a bad day. ( The oxen were pulling a heavy wagon carrying two whaling boats.)
Therefore over three good days they may travel - 15 X 3 = 45 miles = 70km.
To travel from the Wallan/Beverage area to the Werribee River the Hume and Hovell expedition needs to travel 90km over 3 days.
On the 15 December 1824 they started two hours late as ‘the cattle were exhausted’.
Therefore they only had two good days out of three, but still managed to travel 20% further than the Major Mitchell expedition was able to achieve over three of their good days.
3. For a Werribee River termination the order of events, as described in Hovell’s Journal, match perfectly.
4. For a Corio Bay termination the order of events as described in Hovell’s Journal do not match.
5. For a Werribee River termination Hovell’s observations of distant shorelines match extremely well.
From Hovell’s Journal ‘...I think not less then (sic) 8 or 10 Miles,’
From Point Wilson at Corio Bay the nearest opposite shoreline is only 4.6 miles.
6. For a Werribee River termination Hovell’s compass bearings are very accurate.
To assume a Hovell Creek or Geelong termination you must convince yourself that Hovell, recognised for his navigational skills, over the last four days, suddenly made many, many mistakes in taking his compass bearings and estimates of distance. In one case, the distance to the mount that they named Mt Wollsonecraft, by around 150% and the compass bearing incorrect by around 15º.
From Hovell’s Journal - “about N 10 W is the bearing of Mt Wollsonecraft, dist about 8 Miles...” Mount Cottrell being Mt Wollsonecraft not Flinders Peak at the You Yangs.
Are we to believe that Hovell misread his compass by an average of around 25º every time he took a bearing during the three days of 14, 15 and 16 December 1824, and headed towards Mt Cottrell and the Brisbane Ranges very obviously within sight?
Bland’s Account Dec 14 “While towards the south, the land gradually dips.”
7. There is no shoreline at Corio Bay that is 6 miles (9.6km) long in a SW direction.
From Hovell’s Journal - “alter their course to S.W. and travel six miles (9.6 km) in that direction along the shore,”
Refer to maps, slide number 24, 25, 26 and 34, in the powerpoint presentation above.
8. Hovell’s description of the gap in the Australian Alps only works for a Werribee River termination.
Refer to map, slide number 31, in the powerpoint presentation above. From this map it can be seen that any argument for a Hovell Creek / Geelong termination, the expedition must have first visited Point Wilson to explain Hovell’s viewing of the ‘gap in the Australian Alps’.
Not only does this reinforce the fact that the distances would be completely impossible to achieve, but it is also impossible to view the Yarra Ranges in the Eltham area from this distance.
There can only be one conclusion :
The Hume & Hovell Expedition of 1824-5 terminated at the Werribee River.
After over 1,600 hits on my web site, www.humehovellexpedition.com , I have not had one challenge.
If you wish to discuss any aspect of the Hume and Hovell expedition termination please contact me.