Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery
Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery in North-West and Western Australia, during the years 1837, 38, and 39, Under the Authority of Her Majesty's Government. Describing many newly discovered, important, and fertile districts, with observations on the moral and physical condition of the Aboriginal inhabitants, &c, &c.

London: Boone, 1841.

Two volumes, octavo, with 22 lithographic plates (six coloured) including the frontispieces, a fine set bound in striking uniform tan polished calf with spine in gilt compartments with black and crimson morocco labels, ornamental institutional stamp in gilt at head of spines; bound without the two loose folding maps or the publisher's advertisements.

Beautifully bound set from a great Scots institutional library

One of the most striking of all works of inland exploration, with the suite of stunning images of Wandjina paintings from the north-western Kimberley region.

One of the most striking of all works of inland exploration, with the suite of stunning images of Wandjina paintings from the north-western Kimberley region.

This is a beautifully bound copy of the first edition of this famous exploration account; although bound without the two maps that were issued with the book, this is how it sat on the shelves of the Northern Lighthouses Board, the Edinburgh-based body founded in 1786 to oversee the construction of lighthouses in the northern United Kingdom. Its most famous engineer was Robert Stevenson, whose three sons followed him into the profession; together the family dynasty oversaw the building of almost all the "Northern lights" as they were known. The institution still today administers lighthouses (208 of them)  and other marine navigational aids for Scotland and the Isle of Man. Their very good antiquarian library of travel and exploration books was dispersed in modern times.

This was Sir George Grey's first expedition, which began in December 1837 after he and his party of eight arrived on the Beagle at Hanover Bay on the north-west coast. The expedition was supposed to proceed south following the coast to the Swan River settlement. However problems beset the expedition from the outset, and for five months the party meandered inland at a very slow pace. Meetings with local Aborigines proved hostile, and Grey was badly wounded by a spear. Eventually, due to diminished provisions and exhaustion, the party returned to Hanover Bay and were rescued by the Beagle. Despite falling well short of their goal, the expedition yielded significant results: Grey discovered the Glenelg River, the Macdonald Range, the Stephen Range, the Gairdner River and Mount Lyell. Grey also achieved the distinction of becoming the first white man to see a Wandjina painting when he discovered the ones reproduced here in a rock shelter on the Glenelg River in the rugged Kimberley: 'looking over some bushes, at the sandstone rocks which were above us, I suddenly saw from one of them a most extraordinary large figure peering down upon me. Upon examination, this proved to be a drawing at the entrance to cave, which, on entering, I found to contain, besides, many remarkable paintings'. Realising the significance of the discovery, he went to considerable lengths to sketch, measure and describe the figures, which are reproduced here.

Grey's second expedition left Perth in 1839 with the intention of exploring the North-West Cape. Again his goals were not realised: he was thwarted, first by the loss of one of his three whale-boats and most of his provisions, then by the wrecking of the remaining boats and supplies. A 300-mile trek back to Perth ensued, during which Grey and all but one of his men survived on whatever food they could scavenge from the land. Despite the tremendous hardships, again Grey achieved most important results: he discovered the Gascoyne River, the Murchison River, the Lyell, Victoria and Gairdner ranges.

Grey went on to a long and controversial career as a colonial administrator in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, with positions of governance in all three colonies.

Provenance: Northern Lighthouses Board (with their lighthouse motif in gilt on spines).

Bagnall, 2336; Wantrup, 131.

Price (AUD): $4,400.00

US$2,914.65   Other currencies

Ref: #4001583