AUSTRALIAN EXPLORATIONS. Since the article AUSTRALIA in the first issue of the Eneydopadia was written, additional information collected by various exploring expedi tions has largely modified the opinion formerly entertained with regard to its interior. The expedition of Sturt from South Australia to the.center of the country in 1845, dis pelled the notion of a great inland sea, but it substituted the much less hopeful one of a vast and burning lifeless waste; and this opinion appeared to be corroborated by the fate of the gallant Leichhardt, who, after his successful overland journey from New South Wales to Essington in North Australia, started in 1847 to traverse the island from Queensland to Western Australia, and was never more heard of. It was for a time universally considered as decided that a million of sq.m. in the interior was hopelessly barren, and in consequence further explorations were abandoned. However, in 1858, John M`Douall Stuart, a companion of Sturt in his travels, having made a short expe dition to the n.w. of the colony of South Australia, brought back the cheering news that a very extensive tract suitable for colonization existed in that quarter, well supplied with lakes and running "creeks," and presenting millions of acres of excellent pasture. Despite, therefore, the arrival of Gregory in the same year from the n.e. of the colony with additional unfavorable reports, Stuart resolved to resume once more the exploration of the interior from s. to n.; and, starting from South Australia in 1860, he held a gen erally n. by w. course, till his further progress was stopped by the threatening aspect of the natives, at a point in lat. 18° 17' s., long. 134° e. Returning with his two compan ions to organize a stronger force, he retraced his steps (1861) on the previous track; but, after traveling 100 miles further than before, was baffled by an impenetrable scrub, through which he in vain sought a passage. Want of provisions forced him to return a second time; but nothing daunted he started once more in 1862 along the now familiar path, and on July 24th of that year stood on the shore of the Indian ocean at Van Die men's gulf. Mr. Waterhouse, the naturalist, who accompanied Stuart in his third expe dition, divides the country passed through into three regions: the first, extending as far n. as lat. 27° 18' s., is watered by springs and is suitable for pastoral purposes, though subject to great heat and drought in summer. The springs either issue from the surface of the plains or from the tops of curious conical eminences evidently of volcanic ori gin; these eminences varying from the size of a beehive to a considerable hill. The second region, extending northwards to lat. 17° 36' s., is much more defective in water supply, and its vegetation chiefly consists of a pungent-flavored coarse grass, known as "porcupine grass" (otherwise spinifer or triodia pungens), good pasture being only found in the hollows of creeks. This region also presents several ranges of hills of low eleva tion, the maximum height being 2000 feet aboVe the plain. The third region, which extends from lat. 17° '36' s, to the sea-coast, possesses a rich soil, sometimes lacustrine and sometimes alluvial, clothed with the usual abundance of tropical vegetation, and well timbered The resumption of the exploration of interior Australia by Stuart had the effect of arousing general attention to the subject in the other colonies; and accordingly, while Stuart was on his 1860 expedition, the colony of Victoria was fitting out another 'party for the same purpoSe. ThIS expeditiou,.which was put under the command of R. O'Hara
Burke, consisted of a large party with a number of camels (which bad a short time pre viously been imported by the Victorian government from India), and left Melbourne on Aug. 20, 1860, reaching Cooper's creek in the middle of December. Finding that his corn pany was too numerous and too much encumbered, Burke left the greater portion at the creek under 13ralie, to await his return, and with his second in command, William John Wills, and two others, Gray and King, started, with 6 camels, 1 horse, and 12 weeks' provisions, in a northerly direction, reaching the month of the Flinders river, at the head of the gulf of Carpentaria, on Feb. 11, 1861, being the first explorers who crossed Aus tralia from sea to sea. Unable, however, to obtain a view of the ocean, on account of the extensive marshes skirt the coast-line, they commenced their return journey, and, arriving at Cooper's creek on April 21 found, to their astonishment, the camp com pletely deserted. From indications marked on a tree close by, they were induced to dig at its foot, and found a small supply of provisions, and a note to the effect that the party in waiting had left Cooper's creek to return home; the note being dated April 21, the very day on which the exhausted explorers reached the camp, and having been only seven hours written when read by Burke. In their worn-out condition, it was a hope less task to think of following this fresh party to the river Darling through 400 m. of desert, though, had they dour so, they would have mctBrahe returning with a third sec tion of the expedition, which he had met at the Darling, and led back to Cooper's creek, reaching it on May 8, but retracing the road to the Darling, on finding (after a very slight examination) no signs of L'urke's party having arrived there; so Burke, resolving to gain the nearest pastoral station of South Australia, 150 m. distant, the three travelers (Gray had already succumbed to fatigue and famine) pursued this new route at the rate of 4 to 5 m. per day, till want of water compelled them to return to the Cooper, though, had they known that the station they sought was not more than 50 (instead of, as they thought, 100) m. off, they might by a strong effort have reached it, and been saved. Instead of this, they returned to Cooper's creek; and their camels being now all dead, and their provisions nearly exhausted, they resolved, as a last resource, to seek out some camp of natives, where they might remain till assistance reached them from the colony. But their limbs were growing feebler and feebler; at last, on June 28, Wills lay down to die, requesting the others to go on; and on June 30, Burke also succumbed. King, the sole survivor, succeeded in reaching the natives, with whom he lived for 21 months, till a party under Howitt, which was sent out from Victoria in quest of Burke and Wills. arrived at the creek, and rescued him. Burke's experiences of the interior are, as far as we can gather from the scanty records, equally favorable with those of Stuart. He found some good grassy country n. of the Cooper, then passed through a sandy and stony district; but from the tropic of Capricorn to the sea, a large proportion was richly chid with verdure and well watered, with now and then a range of hills traversing it.