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20 października 2008
"Achieving together" - The Strzelecki Competition Crib
important reference material for artists taking part in the graphic competition

Paul E. Strzelecki. Photo taken in Australia
The Cultural Foundation of Puls Polonii (FKPP), organiser of K’Ozzie Fest 2009 (formerly the Mound and Mt Kosciuszko Festival), will in a few days officially announce an exciting new Graphics Competition for both adults and children, entitled Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki and his team – achieving together.

Link to the article about the competition

We have prepared for you some essential information as well as anecdotal material about Sir Strzelecki and his team. Please read and get inspired!

Count Strzelecki arrived in Sydney 25th of April 1839, and left 23rd of April 1843.

He lived in the Australian Club (former Pulteney Hotel), corner of Bent & O’Connel Streets.

On June 7th while at a party thrown by the governor Sir Georg Gipps, Strzelecki met Lady Jane Franklin. He will be their guest later in Tasmania. They remained friends for several decades.

What was he like?

Lady Jane Franklin: One of the most accomplished and interesting persons. You will be enchanted with him, everybody is so without exception, he is so gentlemanlike, elegant, so very clever, so accomplished, so full of fire and vivacity and withal, so amiable, only a little bit satirical, but not too much so. He will be the brightest star in your galaxy of worthies.

Narcyza Zmichowska: He had all necessary qualities for a traveller: a strong constitution, fearless courage, great presence of mind in adventures, athletic dexterity along with muscular strength, fortitude, he was capable in times of need to bear, with a Spartan-like indifference, hunger, torrid heat and the cold.

James Fenton: a most delightful man to converse with…cheerful in conversation, had a rich store of anecdote, which he told in a most interesting and often amusing manner, with his strongly foreign accent...he was cheerful withal, high-spirited, of powerful physique, and gifted with a rich fund of scientific lore.

Ward L. Havard: Certainly remarkable physical strength and vigour, allied with great intellectual energy and a deep-seated sympathy for his fellows, raised him to a distinguished rank.

Waclaw Slabczynski: He was not only guided by a scientist’s curiosity but also by the sensibility of a great humanist, looking for materials and arguments to combat one of the greatest plagues of humanity – discrimination by man against man.

Captain George Grey:speaks of "Pole’s affable charm and intellectual companionship".

Sophie (Sir Franklin’s niece): Behind his vivacity and fire, his amusing anecdotes, his wide, laughing, mobile, bitter mouth, she had sensed some hidden tragedy which drew her to him – not knowing that he too was faithful to the image of one lost love, lost for more than twenty years.

"His attitude to working people was easy, friendly and kind."

"Pleased to receive and entertain this vivacious, dynamic, lively Pole".

"Strzelecki has arrived straight from the bush, in walking-jacket with buttoned-flap pockets and strong corduroy trousers, a knapsack full of geological specimens on his back and wide-brimmed felt hat on his head".

“Pedestrian Count”. Some authors ironically called him pedestrian Count. For a geologist or a botanist mounting and dismounting every time one wanted to examine a stone or a plant would be a burden. Strzelecki the geologist preferred to travel on foot, with a magnifying glass in one hand, free from holding a horse’s bridle. (Lech Paszkowski)

"The Count, who having with him a considerable number of valuable instruments necessary for the prosecution of his observations, which on account of their delicate construction required the greatest care of carriage, preferred pursuing his journey on foot with his budget on his back".

The First Journey: Beyond the Blue Mountains , August - November 1839

Discovered gold in rocks near Bathurst 1839 but was asked by Sir Gipps to keep it a secret. Strzelecki was accompanied by couple of servants (convicts or “ticket-of-leave-men”).

Mt Tomah: Torrents of rain in a great measure concealed the view of it. To proceed onwards was, however, my only alternative. I have therefore redoubled my pace; ascended and descended; climbing, sliding, and clinging, until at length I found myself in the midst of a forest of high and thick fern, bending beneath the weight of the still falling rain, and my progress through which resembled the act of swimming rather than of walking…. Showers of hail began to fall, and were soon succeeded by a frost. My clothes stiffened on my limbs, the latter began to feel numb… anxiously seeking, right and left, for some friendly cavern… privations & fatigues which put my two most robust servants “hors de combat”. I arrived with toes peeping out from worn out shoes, drenched every day & almost frost bitten on Mt Tomah.

On foot, and attended only by a single servant to assist in carrying his provisions and the various specimens he collected. (Sydney Gazette). More info in the Paszkowski book, pages 66-68.

What tools he carried? "Perhaps an acid bottle, a file, a hand lens and maybe a blowpipe, a charcoal block and a hammer".

Some time in August 1839 Strzelecki has met James Macarthur, son of Hannibal Macarthur of Parramatta. They decided to organise an expedition: Strzelecki to explore the High Country and beyond, and James to look for grazing lands.

Second Journey: To the Australian Alps & Mount Kosciuszko, December 1839 - March 1840

...I am off to Snowy Mountains…

Strzelecki left Sydney on Sunday morning 22 December 1839, taking with him covered cart, two horses and a servant, probably a tiny Irishman named James Nolan or Keena. Nolan had been tried in Dublin for the felony of watch and seals and sentenced to transportation for life. Arrived in the colony in 1825. He was at that time 18 yr old. He was granted a conditional pardon by Governor Gipps on January 1, 1841; received an absolute pardon on July 1, 1843 as a result of Strzelecki’s recommendation.

Dec 23rd Strzelecki drove into Camden Park, the property of James Macarthur, son of John (and a cousin of James Macarthur of Parramatta).

James Macarthur. Zdjęcie z książki W. Słabczńskiego

James Riley. Zdjęcie z książki W. Słabczyńskiego

James Macarthur, son of Hannibal left Parramatta on January 17th 1840 taking with him a nineteen-year-old jackaroo, James Riley, one or two servants (one of them said to be a negro) and a native guide, Charles Tarra from Taralga, near Goulburn Plains.

Count Strzelecki had met James Macarthur & James Riley in Ellersie, the station which belonged to Hannibal Macarthur. The Strzelecki party consisted of 7 men & six packed-horses carrying supplies.

March 7th they arrived in Welaregang. Two convict-servants were left behind. An experienced native guide, Jacky, was hired to lead them to High Country.

Field Notes of James Macarthur give fairly accurate description of how Mt Kosciuszko was climbed and named. James Macarthur was the only witness to the ascent and the naming of the mountain and its summit by Strzelecki.

Field Notes: March 9, 1840… we formed our first camp at a ford known by the natives under the name of Nowang. On the 10th we crossed the River to the northern bank following the valley upwards reached a small circular plain Gobbolin. It was so more singular than picturesque; the margin of the forest was so formal and unbroken. From this point we ascended the higher ranges and in about 4 miles reached a small but rapid creek. Here we decided to leave our horses under the charge of a friend… March 11. – Count Strzelecki, myself and two natives started at 7 am, in high spirits to accomplish our object, the weather was intensly hot. We marched on with our blankets and provisions “au militaire”. The Count carried in addition a heavy case of instruments for scientific observations.

Ascending at once through a narrow gully in about 3 miles we reached a gap overhanging the course of the River – before us the deep valley of tributary flowing from Dargan mountains at the head of the Tumut. We found the descent to the river so steep that we only accomplished it safely by clinging to the shrubs and small saplings – this locality is peculiarly the habitat of Black Opossum…On the opposite side of this fine stream we ascended an equally steep range, and descending again found ourselves on the main stream of the Hume. We crossed to the right bank, and passing the junction of another branch of tributary recrossed to the left bank, reaching the spot at which our actual ascent of the mountain was to commence.

The thermometer raging upwards of 90 degrees during the day, we determined after refreshing ourselves to accomplish as much of the ascent as we could during the cooler hours of night, and only camped when the bright moonlight failed us. A fine Lyre-Bird furnished an ample supper and consoled us for the want of water.

The early dawn of the 12th found us again on our way, and after 5 hrs of tedious ascent we reached a small open spot. A fine spring afforded us the means of making a hearty breakfast. The only water we had had during these many hours of toil was a single quart afforded by our guide Jacky descending over some perpendicular rocks to a roaring torrent which we could hear far below us but could not see. The spot we had now reached was the favourite camping ground of the natives during their annual visit to feast on the Boogan Moth. Traces of their camps were visible in all directions. Our sable friends arrive here thin and half starved a few weeks surviving on this extraordinary food clothes their skinny frames in aldermanic contrast.

Paper daisies on Mt Kosciuszko

Being on the margin of the timber we determined to leave our blankets calculating of the thick brush wood and secondly by belt of dead timber we reached the open summit clothed with a peculiar gigantic grass called by the natives “Monnong” (Munyang); it is from 2to 3 feet high – bright green and succulent. It was very difficult to travel through. Flying mist occasionally enveloped us accompanied by a keen freezing air. After 2 hours of toilsome ascent we found ourselves still far from the highest point. After consultation we determined to send our guides for the blankets and provisions and directed them to form a camp on the spot where we then stood.

Strezlecki and I then proceeded towards the extreme summit which we reached after a very laborious climb. The air was bitterly cold. We found the actual summit divided into six or more points. The Count by aid of his instruments quickly detected one of these as being in facts considerably higher than where we stood. A deep ravine separating us from this did not deter my adventurous friend; he determined to reach it. – As the day was far advanced I thought it more prudent to return towards the point where I had ordered the natives to await our return.

– Before leaving the Count he told me of his intention of recording his visit to the highest point in Australia by associating the name of Kosciusko with our successful ascent. I could not but respect and feel deep sympathy with my friend when with his hat off he named the Patriot of his Country.

Parting on the summit I commenced my descent leisurely enjoying the ample supply of fine water cress that abounded in every crevice of the rocks. The beautiful flowers then in full bloom, afforded me great pleasure, these were the flowers of the early spring – below – principally Euphorbiaceae. Immense masses of mica slate from groups here and there on the mountain side. Towards evening I reached the spot where I had ordered our camp to be formed but could see no trace of our sable friends. I shouted, fired my gun, but could get no answering signal – the approaching night made me feel deeply anxious not only for my own position but that of my friend. My first care was to collect fuel and light a fire to direct Strezlecki’s descent by its light.

The Objezierze Palace where Adyna received a flower from Mt Kosciuszko

The night was passing on; just as I was placing myself in the best position that I could find to feel the warmth of my small fire, I thought that I heard a faint shout of cooey. I climed up a rock overhanging a deep precipice about 100 feet below me. I saw the reflection of the natives’ fire. I scrambled back, and, making a rather perilous descent through a dark glen, reached the terrace upon which my friends were comfortably established. I could hear nothing of Strezlecki but immediately dispatched Jackey to look for him, and very soon after had the satisfaction of shaking my friend by the hand. He had experienced many falls by the way but was unhurt. He produced from his bag a rock from the extreme summit of the rocky height he had gained; I imagine he still has in his collection this interesting trophy.

The Count had experienced more difficulty than he expected the rather deep hollow that he crossed after we parted offered serious obstacles to his progress from the endless confusion of rocks and the tall growth of Monnong grass. He remarked the escape of Carbonic acid gas from the fissures in the rock. I had noticed the singular hissing noise, but did not know its cause. The air after night fall was alive with the Boogan Moths causing a deep sounding humming noise in character like that of a gigantic Bee Hive.

–On the most shaded side of the mountain there was still an extensive patch of snow, judges to be by my friend perpetual as it was more or less stained by the decay of vegetation. This season was remarkable as being one in which the mountain was more free from snow than it had been before observed. On the 13th we made a rapid descent to the camp where we had left our horses – on the 14th the Count was engaged completing and verifying his observations (J. Macarthur, Field Notes).

Strzelecki, Mon Journal: This particular configuration of this eminence struck me so forcibly by the similarity it bears to a tumulus elevated in Krakow over the tomb of the patriot Kosciusko, that, although in a foreign country, on foreign ground, but amongst a free people, who appreciate freedom and its votaries, I could not refrain from giving it the name of Mount Kosciusko.

Summit of the mountain amid perpetual snows… a transparent sky and below, an uninterrupted view o 7,000 square miles, embracing the sources of the Tumut and Murrumbidgee, the windings of the Murray, the course of the dividing range and the tops of Mt Aberdeen and Mount Buller. The elevation from which this view was obtained was named Mt Kosciuszko.

Count Strzelecki venerated General T. Kosciuszko as a man who represented the highest moral values of mankind.

Strzelecki to Adyna: The highest peak of Australian Alps … with its everlasting snows, the silence and dignity with which it is surrounded, I have reserved and consecrated as a reminder for future generations upon this continent, of a name dear and hallowed to every Pole, to every human, to every friend of freedom and honour – Kosciuszko.

A poem "Strzelecki" by David Campbell

And so Strzelecki set out from Hannibal
Macarthur's station, leaving the girls behind
In Sydney. – All night the Nacki washed my mind
Like willow roots in water. – From the Geehi wall
The party climbed Mt Townsend through a whole
Avalanche of wild flowers only to find
The south peak topped it - much like one in Poland
Called Kosciuszko, Strzelecki claimed. The Pole
Scaled it alone, and when a cloud came down
Shutting the alpine vastness in a room
With his brief triumph, Strzelecki picked the bloom
Of one of those rare snowflowers sprung from stone
Remembering Adyna Turno and her love,
And joined the others happily enough.

(From: Alan E.J. Andrews, Kosciuszko. The Mountain in History, Tabletop Press O'Connor Canberra 1991)

Letter to Adyna: “The highest peak of Australian Alps – it towers over the entire continent – which before my coming had not been surmounted by anyone, with its everlasting snows, the silence and dignity with which it is surrounded, I have reserved and consecrated as a reminder for future generations upon this continent, of a name dear and hallowed to every Pole, to every human, to every friend of freedom and honour – Kosciuszko.”

Count Strzelecki to Adyna: I will bring you many sketches too, because I draw all the scenes too which memories are attached. Here is a flower from Mount Kosciuszko – the highest peak of the continent – the first in the New World bearing a Polish name. I believe you will be the first and perhaps the only Polish woman to have flower from that mountain. Let it remind you ever of freedom, patriotism, and love.

Third Journey – Gippsland, March - May 1840

After the successful ascent of Mt Kosciuszko, Strzelecki and Macarthur returned to the Swampy Plains River, where James Riley had remained with the horses. The party went back to Welaregang, where they returned their borrowed Aboriginal guide, and picked up their two servants and supplies, gear and possibly horses, and started south on about March 16.

Port Phillip Gazette: We are happy to announce the safe arrival in Melbourne, of Count Strelenski and Messrs M’Arthur and Riley, from an exploratory expedition into this country.

James Riley: "there was but one animal, it is the size of a small dog, and lives in trees, it is called the monkey or native bear. These we procured sometimes by shooting, sometimes by the native climbing trees after them. We ate them raw when we could not make fire". (Read more in the Paszkowski book: Riley, letter to his mother, p. 121).

No wonder, Strzelecki called Riley afterwards my fellow Monkey eater.

Strzelecki, Mon Journal: “22 days of almost complete starvation, through a scrubby and, for exhausted men, a trying country…”

At 42 and the eldest in the party, while Riley was barely 19 and Macarthur only 26, Strzelecki had no time to rest.

Provisions now began to fail. On the sixth of April, it was determined to place all hands on half rations (a biscuit and a slice of bacon per day), but new difficulties and new delays soon rendered it evident that even with this precautionary measure, it would be impossible to make the stock of provisions last out the journey. The greatest impediment the travellers had to contend with was the exhausted state of their horses; each day saw one or other of the party dismounted…The men unaccustomed to walk, like the horses, began to feel effects of the wear and tear of the journey.

They were finally obliged to abandon horses in a valley, forced to leave the packs with men’s wearing apparel, and the Count’s mineralogical and botanical collection. The Count alone retained possession of his strength, and although burdened with a load of instruments and papers of 45 pounds weight, continued to pioneer his exhausted companions…breaking a passage with his hands and knees, throwing himself at full length among the dense underwood.

Charley Tarra commemorated...but still we do not know how he looked like

Port Phillip Herald about Charley Tarra who for the last 3 years attached himself to Mr James Macarthur: When provisions of the party became completely exhausted the whole party must have perished from starvation but for the exertions of Charley, who catered for the larder a sufficiency of wombat, or native bear, to afford them a precarious sustenance. On one occasion when reduced to great straits and worn out with fatigue, his master and all but the Count has almost given up the toilsome struggle in despair, Charley, though not less exhausted than his friends, endeavoured to cheer their drooping spirits, and seating himself on a log beside Mr M’Arthur, he said, looking affectionately in his face, “me neber leave you massa”.

James Riley: We left everything else that was not of the most importance (of course the instruments for observation we were forced to carry)… We ate wombats raw when we could not make a fire which was difficult because dry fuel was scarce.

Later on, Riley and Tarra, joined by John Rutledge and a native Pigeon, set off on a recovery expedition. One live horse was recovered. All the Count’s specimens were secured.

While in Tasmania, Strzelecki complained about the loss of barometers and other instruments in Gippsland (a Gay-Lussac-type barometer which he had with him when climbing Mt Kosciuszko).

Captain King, February 1843: You will be sorry to hear that the Count has dislocated his collarbone by a severe fall of his horse, which fell upon him & has made him quite lame & his recovery will be a tedious one. He talks of leaving soon for England.

Strzelecki to his sweetheart Adyna: I am meanwhile far from being burnt out; I am mascular, broad-shouldered, with a strong well-developed chest, all full of fire and force…Upon reaching Europe I shall write you and we shall decide on the country and the place… Do not miss the chance to visit Paris, and once there get in touch with Andre. If you are short of funds he will advance you some…Today I have confided in him your true name, the story of our twenty years long separation, telling him that family reasons do not permit us to write in direct correspondence and asking him in consequence to address you as Mlle Aimee.

A song "Adyna"

Adyna close to my heart,
We who are continents apart,
So close to my heart, but far across the sea,
How I long for you to be with me,
But I know that this can never be.
On this windswept high Australian range,
I have picked you a flower so strange,
In eight months it will arrive with this letter to your hand,
A paper daisy from a distant land
You can press it ‘tween the pages of some book that you adore,
This flower that will live forevermore,
This flower that will live forevermore.
I only have of you a memory
Of a young girl who tried to steal away with me,
Your father said I was not worthy of you,
A rambler, so he said, I guess that’s true.
And I suppose that we have changed after all these years,
And Adyna, this daisy bears my tears,
This paper daisy’s bearing my tears.
And I wonder if our love will survive,
Like this everlasting flower, stay alive.
Stay alive, or shall it fade and subside
Like the mists and storms upon this mountainside,
This faraway Australian mountainside?
And I will travel on, across mountain and plain,
And dream I’ll see Adyna again,
And dream I’ll see Adyna again.

John Hospodaryk 2005

Upon his arrival in England, Strzelecki left for Ireland to join the British Association for the Relief of Extreme Distress in Ireland where for 2 years he organised food delivery, combating the great Irish hunger. It is possible, that the typhoid fever which struck him in Ireland affected his virility and he might have lost interest in women. His health was never the same. He never married.

Adyna never married, either.

How did she look like? According to Strzelecki’s cousin, N. Zmichowska her face like gold glowing in sunlight and slightly painted with bistre… a beautiful complexion with a tawny shade, black eyes and raven-black hair. Was short & plump, her facial features, with a broad nose, being rather vulgar and ordinary. yet she had a very dignifying bearing. She gave an impression of a small, slight woman who dressed herself very, very sensibly.

Adyna Turno

1) Lech Paszkowski,Sir Paul Edmund de Strzelecki. Reflections on his life, Arcadia, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne 1997

2) Nancy Cato “North-West by South”, NEL Books, London 1980

Reccommended reading: Alan E.J. Andrews, Kosciusko. The Mountain in History,Tabletop Press, Canberra 1991