Assistant Surveyor Granville Stapylton’s intimate journal, written while serving as Second-in-Command in Major Mitchell’s expedition in ‘Australia Felix’, in 1836, is here published as a faithful transcription from the original field books for the first time.
“Granville Stapylton Australia Felix 1836 Second-in-command to Major Mitchell is based on the true journals of the pioneer land surveyor Granville Stapylton when he accompanied Major Thomas Mitchell on the famous ‘Australia Felix’ expedition in 1836. This expedition proceeded down the Lachlan, Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers into far western New South Wales, before crossing into what is now Victoria and proceeded south past the Grampians to the coast at Portland, before returning via Mount Macedon to the settled areas near Gundagai. Stapylton’s journals clarify when and where several natural history discoveries were made, including that of the now extinct Pig-footed Bandicoot, the now extinct White-footed Rabbit-rat, and the first-ever sighting of an australite. The journals describe several first contacts with the indigenous people, the sometimes-fraught relationship between himself and Mitchell, and Stapylton’s concern for the welfare of the young girl Ballandella, whom Mitchell took home to raise with his family; one of the first instances of the ‘stolen generation’. Being of the aristocracy, Stapylton found it hard to fraternise with the convicts in the team, but by the end of the expedition he had warmed sufficiently to praise them for always treating Turandurey (Ballandella’s mother) with respect. The book later describes the attack on Stapylton’s survey camp in far north-eastern New South Wales, inland from Mount Warning, in 1840, resulting in the murder of Stapylton and one of his men. The farcical criminal trial in Sydney in 1841 is described in detail, with the men adjudged guilty being brought back to the infant Brisbane Town to be publicly hanged from the vanes of the windmill. Also revealed is Mitchell’s assuming responsibility for Stapylton’s baby son, including his care and schooling until he was old enough to become employed.”
Dust jacket gate fold. This is a simply gorgeous large format book with the highest production standards. It is copiously illustrated with colour photographs and maps. It was the winner of the 2018 History Publication Award in the Victorian Community History Awards.