Outback! – exploration in Australia (I)

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Adventures in Exploring Australia

A variant for Studio Tomahawk’s Congo rules.

Wargames to my mind don’t normally include ‘exploration’ game themes however with the advent of Studio Tomahawk’s popular Congo system, explorations in Africa, these rules are very well suited to enable gamers to engage in many of the outback adventures of the early exploration of Australia, which still has a military theme.

Like Congo, we shall be adopting a pulp approach to this subject, so in this regard, it’s a little less ‘history’ and a little more ‘game’ perhaps. This sets it apart from the other skirmish system we shall use such as Smooth & Rifled, which is closer to a ‘standard’ wargame.

In this regard, the Congo system better fits the characterful, more ‘adventure’ type exploration theme of Australian early explorers, but still has a nice solid ‘war theme engine’ underneath all that Heart of Darkness stuff.

In keeping with this pulp approach we won’t quibble too much about allowing some non typical force combinations to ensure our columns (miniature forces) have the right mix of troops. We also won’t be to wound up about historical accuracy, tactics and formations, etc. This is an Australian exploration themed game in the same manner that Congo is to Africa.

Whilst Australian exploration expeditions didn’t take on the epic size of some of the African expeditions there is nothing to stop you putting together a force to explore the inhospitable Australian outback as you see fit…you are the expedition leader! This is more a themed game than hard history, but it should have a distinct Aussie feel to it to get into the spirit of things.

It’s worth noting that many of the same events and themes that are encountered in Congo are also easily related to an Australian setting. Principally you have hostile tribes, which in this case are the traditional aboriginals landowners, resisting incursions by explorers into their territory. Combining human adversaries with a whole host of nasty flora, fauna and weather, the outback is every bit as unwelcoming as Africa. Because of the sheer vastness of the continent, much like Africa, this provides us with an opportunity for multiple theme settings for exploration expeditions – dry desert, temperate savannah or steppe, jungle or mountainous terrain and forests.

Whilst adventures in outback Australia are an easy fit for Congo, it can also take on the role of providing a ‘light wargame’ by introducing additional factions. We shall look at this idea in the next post, thereby allowing players to utilise Outback for all their low level skirmish game needs if the system is to their liking.

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A timeline of exploration…

The following chronology gives you a breakdown of British exploration of Australia – the subject of our Outback theme. All these expeditions to explore the new continent provide settings for games of Outback. If nothing else, it shows you the shear scope of the white explorer enterprises undertaken to map and surveyor Australia for over a century.

Interestingly you can see how the French and even Spanish explorers were ‘sniffing about’ in the early days of settlement ie the late 18th century. Scenarios abound from this very mingling of British, French and Spanish vessels…

If you wish to skip this section, jump down to the continued discussion on the Congo adaptation, however having a quick look at the timeline really does show you the types of explorer missions that you can use as a setting for Outback games.

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  • 1770–Captain James Cook, in the Endeavour; landed at Botany Bay; explored the east coast, and took possession under the name of New South Wales.
  • 1772–Captain Marion du Fresne and Captain Crozet, from Nance, in the Mascarin and Castres to Tasmania. The first visitors after Tasman. From thence they sailed to New Zealand, where they were murdered by the Maories.
  • 1772–Captain Tobias Furneaux, with the Adventure; accompanied Captain Cook on his second voyage in search of Australia. Separated from the Endeavour, and afterwards, when he met Cook, gave as his opinion that Tasmania and New South Wales were joined, with a deep bay intervening. This opinion Cook thought sufficient to prevent the necessity of a further examination by himself.
  • 1777–De St. Alouarn anchored near Cape Leeuwin.
  • 1788–Father le Receveur, naturalist; died at Botany Bay, while with La Perouse in the Astrolabe.
  • 1788–Lieutenant Shortland, with three ships from Sydney to England passed through Bougainville’s Strait, north-west coast.
  • 1788–Governor Phillip arrived in Botany Bay with the first fleet.
  • 1788–Jean Francois Galup de la Perouse at Botany Bay.

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  • 1789–Hawkesbury discovered.
  • 1789–Tench discovered the Nepean.
  • 1790–Messrs. Tench, Dawes, and Morgan explore south and west of Rose Hill.
  • 1791–Captain George Vancouver, in the Discovery and Chatham, explored the south- west coast, and discovered King George’s Sound.
  • 1791–Captain William Bligh passed Cape York in the Bounty’s launch.
  • 1791–Captain Edward Edwards, in search of the mutineers of the Bounty, wrecked on a reef.
  • 1791–Captain John M’Cluer sailed along Arnheim’s Land to Cape Van Dieman.
  • 1792–Admiral Bruni D’Entrecasteaux in the Recherche and L’Esperance; to seek La Perouse.
  • 1792–Captains William Bligh and Portlock, in the Providence and Assistant; examined Torres Straits.
  • 1793–Matthew B. Alt and William Bampton, in the ships Hormuzeer and Chesterfield; through Torres Straits.
  • 1793–Colonel Paterson rowed up the Hawkesbury, and named the Grose.
  • 1793–Don Alexandro Malaspina, with the Descobierta and Atrevida, Spanish discovery ships, arrived at Sydney. Was imprisoned on his return to Calais.
  • 1794–John Hayes, with the Duke and Duchess; visited Tasmania re-named the discoveries of D’Entrecasteaux.
  • 1794–Quarter-master Hacking attempted to cross the Blue Mountains.
  • 1795-96–Dr. George Bass and Matthew Flinders in the Tom Thumb.
  • 1796–Lieutenant Bowen visited Jarvis Bay.
  • 1796-97–Dr. George Bass; on the Blue Mountains.
  • 1797-Dr.–George Bass’s whaleboat survey of the coast to the southward.
  • 1797–Lieutenant Shortland discovered the Hunter River.
  • 1798–Dr. George Bass and Matthew Flinders, in the Norfolk; discovered Bass’s Straits.

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  • 1798–Quarter-master Hacking revisits the Blue Mountains.
  • 1799–Matthew Flinders, in the Norfolk; to Glass-House and Hervey Bays.
  • 1800–Christopher Dixon, in the ship Ellegood; visited King George’s Sound.
  • 1801–James Grant, in the Lady Nelson; examined Bass’s Straits and verified Bass’s discovery.
  • 1801–Ensign Barraillier; attempted exploration of the Blue Mountains.
  • 1801-2–Matthew Flinders, in the Investigator; prosecuted his survey of the coasts of Australia.
  • 1801-2–Captains Baudin and Hamelin, with the French ships Naturaliste and Géographe; on the Australian coasts.
  • 1802–Lieut. John Murray and Surveyor Grimes, in the Lady Nelson discovered and surveyed Port Phillip.
  • 1803–George Cayley, botanist; attempt to discover pass over the Blue Mountains.
  • 1803–Lieutenant-Governor Daniel Collins, from England, in H.M.S. Calcutta, to form a penal settlement at Port Phillip, accompanied by the transport Ocean. Landed the settlement at “The Sisters,” and finally decided that Port Phillip was unfit to meet the requirements of settlement. They proceeded to Tasmania, where they were all murdered at Hobart Town.
  • 1803–Matthew Flinders, in the Investigator returns two Sydney completing a two year circumnavigation of Australia.

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  • 1804-5–Lieutenant Charles Robbins and John Oxley, in the cutter Integrity; examined Western Port with a view to settlement; opinion unfavourable.
  • 1813–Messrs. Wentworth, Lawson, and Blaxland succeeded in crossing the Blue Mountains.

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  • 1814–Hamilton Hume, with his brother; explored the country round Berrima. His first trip.
  • 1815–Deputy-Surveyor Evans discovered the first Australian inland river, the Macquarie.
  • 1815–Cox finished a road over the Blue Mountains
  • 1817–L. de Freycinet, in L’Uranie, touched at Sydney and Shark’s Bay.
  • 1817-20–Captain Phillip P. King, with Allan Cunningham, botanist, in the cutter Mermaid; conducts detailed survey of the Australian North coast.

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  • 1817–Messrs. Meehan and Hume; discovered Lake George, Lake Bathurst, and Goulburn Plains.
  • 1817-19–John Oxley, Surveyor-General of New South Wales; Lachlan and Macquarie expeditions.

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  • 1819–Surveyor-General Oxley, accompanied by Messrs. Meehan and Hume to Jarvis Bay.
  • 1819–Captain Sutherland, on a sailing voyage, visited Port Lincoln.
  • 1820–Captain Stewart sent by Governor Macquarie with a small party in a boat to search for a passage supposed to exist between Lake Bathurst and the sea. He lost his boat in Twofold Bay, and on endeavouring to reach Sydney overland was cut off by the natives.
  • 1821-22–Captain Phillip P. King, in the Bathurst; continues the survey.

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  • 1822–Messrs. Lawson and Scott attempted to reach Liverpool Plains; discover the Goulburn River.
  • 1822-24–Captain Duperry in La Coquille; voyage amongst the Line Islands
  • 1823–Captain Currie and Major Ovens on the Murrumbidgee
  • 1823–Allan Cunningham found Pandora’s Pass; a good stock route to the Liverpool Plains.
  • 1823–Surveyor-General Oxley investigated Port Curtis, Port Bowen and Moreton Bay. Discovered the Brisbane River.
  • 1824–Sir Gordon Bremer, in the Tamar; to Port Essington.
  • 1824–Melville Island settled
  • 1824–Hamilton Hume and W. H. Hovell journey overland to Port Phillip.

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  • 1824–Penal settlement at Moreton Bay.
  • 1825–Allan Cunningham north of Bathurst.
  • 1825–Major Lockyer made a boat excursion up the Brisbane River.
  • 1826–Captain Dillon, in the Research, on the west coast.
  • 1826–Major Lockyer, founded King George’s Sound settlement.
  • 1826–Captain Dumont D’Urville, in the Astrolabe, from touched at Bass’s Strait.
  • 1826–Fort Wellington and Raffles Bay founded.
  • 1827-28–Captain Gould on the south coast, near Port Lincoln.
  • 1827–Allan Cunningham discovers the Darling Downs, the Dumaresque, Gwydir and Condamine Rivers, etc.
  • 1828–Allan Cunningham, accompanied by Charles Frazer, botanist connected the Moreton Bay settlement, with the Darling Downs by way of Cunningham’s Gap.
  • 1828–Captain James Stirling, accompanied by Charles Frazer, in H.M.S. Success; surveyed the coast of King George’s Sound to the Swan River.
  • 1828–Surveyor-General Oxley died near Sydney.
  • 1828-29–Captain Charles Sturt’s first expedition; discovered New Year’s Creek (now the Bogan) and the Darling.
  • 1829–Hay explored the country back of Parry’s Inlet and discovered the Denmark River.
  • 1829–Captain Fremantle hoisted the British flag at Fremantle.
  • 1829–Captain la Place, from Toulon; visited Hobart Town and New Zealand.
  • 1829–Captain R. Fitzroy, in the Beagle; visited King George’s Sound.
  • 1829–Fort Wellington and north coast settlement abandoned.
  • 1829–Allan Cunningham explored the source of the Brisbane River his last expedition.
  • 1839-30–Captain Charles Sturt’s Murrumbidgee expedition; sailed down the Murray.
  • 1830–Dale from the upper Swan River followed up the Avon.
  • 1831–Major Bannister crossed from Perth to King George’s Sound.
  • 1831-32–Sir Thomas Mitchell; Kindur expedition.
  • 1832–Captain C. Barker murdered at Lake Alexandrina by the blacks.
  • 1833–Surveyor Dixon on the Bogan.
  • 1833–Sir Thomas Mitchell on the Namoi.
  • 1833–Richard Cunningham, botanist, brother to Allan Cunningham, murdered by the blacks while with Sir Thomas Mitchell’s expedition.
  • 1835–E. Henty and brother formed a settlement in Portland Bay.
  • 1836–John Batman landed at Port Phillip, and became a permanent settler there.
  • 1836–Captain Sir John Hindmarsh founded Adelaide; first Governor of South Australia.
  • 1836–Colonel Light surveyed the shores of St. Vincent’s Gulf, and selected site of present city of Adelaide.
  • 1836–Captain Hobson (afterwards Governor of New Zealand), in H.M.S Rattlesnake; surveyed and named Hobson’s Bay.
  • 1836–Sir Thomas Mitchell’s expedition through Australia Felix.
  • 1837–Captain George Grey (afterwards Governor of South Australia), with Lieutenant Lushington; explorations on north-west coast.
  • 1837-Messrs. Hesse and Gellibrand, while exploring Cape Otway country, were murdered by the blacks.
  • 1837-45–Captains Wickham and Stokes, in the Beagle, surveyed the coasts of Australia, completing the geographical knowledge of the shores of the continent.
  • 1838–E. J. Eyre; Port Phillip to Adelaide; discovered Lake Hindmarsh.
  • 1838–Sir Gordon Bremer re-settled Port Essington.
  • 1839–Captain George Grey; second expedition; Western Australia.
  • 1839–Schooner Champion examined the west coast for navigable rivers.
  • 1839–George Hamilton and party overland from Sydney to Melbourne.
  • 1839–Governor Gawler, South Australia; made an excursion to the Murray.
  • 1839–E. J. Eyre to the head of Spencer’s Gulf and Lake Torrens, Port Lincoln, and Streaky Bay.

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  • 1839–Allan Cunningham died in Sydney.
  • 1840–Angus M’Millan discovered Gippsland.
  • 1840–Patrick Leslie, called the father of Darling Downs settlement; settled on the Condamine.
  • 1840-41–E. J. Eyre travelled the Great Bight to King George’s Sound.

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  • 1841–John Orr and party explored Gippsland.
  • 1841–Stuart and Sydenham Russell form Cecil Plains Station.
  • 1841–Dr. Edward Barker, Edward Hobson, and Albert Brodribb were the first to walk from Melbourne to Gippsland. The present road follows their track.
  • 1842–Stuart Russell discovered Boyne River; journeyed from Moreton to Wide Bay in a boat.
  • 1842-45–Captain Blackwood, in the Fly; continued the surveys of Captains Wickham and Stokes; and made a minute examination of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • 1843–Count Paul von Strzelecki followed M’Millan’s tracks when he discovered Gippsland.
  • 1843–Captain Frome, Surveyor-General of South Australia; explorations in the neighbourhood of Lake Torrens.
  • 1843–Messrs. Landor and Lefroy; exploration in Western Australia.
  • 1843–J. A. Horracks was killed by the explosion of his gun at the head of Spencer’s Gulf soon after the start of his expedition.
  • 1844–45-Captain Charles Sturt; Great Central Desert expedition.

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  • 1844-45–Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt; first expedition, from Jimbour Station, Darling Downs, to Port Essington; Gilbert, the naturalist, killed by natives.

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  • 1845-46–Sir Thomas Mitchell; Barcoo expedition.
  • 1846–Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt’s second expedition.
  • 1846–A. C. Gregory and brothers; first expedition in Western Australia.
  • 1847–E. Kennedy; to decide the final course of the Victoria, named the Thompson.
  • 1847–Baron Von Mueller; expeditions, for botanical and geographical researches combined. in South Australia and the Australian Alps.
  • 1848–Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt’s last expedition.
  • 1848–E. Kennedy’s fatal venture up Cape York Peninsula.
  • 1848–A. C. Gregory, with party, explore the Gascoyne.
  • 1848–Governor Fitzgerald, of Western Australia; examined the new mineral discovery, accompanied by A. C. Gregory, and named the Geraldine Aline.
  • 1848-49–J. S. Roe, Surveyor-General of Western Australia; from York to Esperance Bay.
  • 1851–Messrs. Oakden and Hulkes; on west side of Lake Torrens.
  • 1852–Hovenden Hely, in charge of search party for Leichhardt; from Darling Downs.

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  • 1854–R. Austin, Assistant Surveyor-General of Western Australia; in search of pastoral country, and to examine the interior for auriferous deposits.
  • 1855–Sir Thomas Mitchell died near Sydney.
  • 1855-56–A. C. Gregory and Baron von Mueller North Australian expedition, in search of Leichhardt; discover Sturt’s Creek and the Elsey.

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  • 1855–B. H. Babbage; to examine country north and east of Adelaide for gold. In a second expedition the same year discovered Blanche Water.
  • 1857–Campbell and party; west of Lake Torrens; and again, with party, looking for pastoral country west of Lake Eyre.
  • 1857–G. W. Goyder, Deputy Surveyor-General of South Australia, to examine and survey the country about Blanche Water.
  • 1857–Colonel Freeling, Surveyor-General of South Australia, sent to verify Goyder’s report; decided that Goyder had been misled by a mirage.
  • 1857–Stephen Hack, with Mr. Miller; examined Gawler Range and sighted Lake Gairdner.
  • 1857–Major Warburton crossed Stephen Hack’s track.
  • 1857–Messrs. Miller and Dutton explored country back of Fowler’s Bay.
  • 1858–Sir Richard G. M’Donnel; exploration to Strangways and Loddon Springs; also up the River Murray to Mount Murchison.
  • 1858–B. H. Babbage; third expedition from Adelaide; superseded by Major Warburton.
  • 1858–Major Warburton, continued the expedition started by B. H. Babbage. This trip established the definite size and shape of Lake Torrens.
  • 1858–S. Parry, Government Surveyor, South Australia; an expedition round Lake Torrens, Lake Gregory, and Blanche Water.
  • 1858–Frank Gregory reached the Gascoyne; discovered Mount Augustus and Mount Gould.
  • 1858–A. C. Gregory; Barcoo expedition to search for trace of the course of Leichhardt’s party. Confirmation of the supposed identity of the Barcoo and Cooper’s Creek.
  • 1858–J. M’Dowall Stuart; first expedition.
  • 1859–J. M’Dowall Stuart; second expedition; one of his party, Hergott, discovered and named Hergott Springs.
  • 1859–George E. Dalrymple, discovered main tributaries of the Lower Burdekin, Bowen, and Bogie Rivers.
  • 1860–Edward Cunningham and party explored the Upper Burdekin.

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  • 1861–J. Neilson and brothers; in search of pastoral country; from Mount Ranken on the Darling to Cooper’s Creek.
  • 1860-61–Burke and Wills’ expedition; death of Burke, Wills, and Gray.

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  • 1861–J. M’Dowall Stuart’s third expedition; he crossed the continent after two attempts.
  • 1861–Frank Gregory discovered the Hammersley Range, Fortescue, Ashburton, De Grey, and Oakover Rivers.
  • 1861–Messrs. Dempster and Clarkson; Western Australia; explorations to the eastward.
  • 1861-62–William Landsborough, in search of Burke and Wills.
  • 1861-62–Frederick Walker, leader of the Rockhampton expedition in search of Burke and Wills.
  • 1861–Alfred Howitt, in charge of Victorian search party for Burke and Wills.
  • 1861–Edwin J. Welch, second in command of Howitt’s search party, found King, only survivor of the Burke and Wills expedition.
  • 1861-622.–John M’Kinlay with a relief party for Burke and Wills, from Adelaide.
  • 1862–G. W. Goyder; explorations in the Great Bight.
  • 1862–George E. Dalrymple on the waters of the Upper Burdekin.
  • 1862–Messrs, Delisser and Hardwicke explore from Fowler’s Bay to the edge of the Victorian Desert.
  • 1863–Thomas Macfarlane attempted to push inland north of the Great Bight.
  • 1863–Messrs. H. M. Lefroy and party; eastward of York, Western Australia.
  • 1863–C. C. Hunt and Ridley to the De Grey River.
  • 1863–Colonists landed at the De Grey River, and settled on country discovered by Frank Gregory.
  • 1863–Jardine, sen., formed the settlement of Somerset, Cape York.
  • 1863–William Landsborough; in charge of the new township, Burketown, Gulf of Carpentaria.
  • 1864-65–Jardine Brothers; overland to Somerset, on the west coast of Cape York.
  • 1864–Colonel Finnis formed a settlement at Escape Cliffs.
  • 1864–J. M’Kinlay on the Alligator River; searching for suitable site for a township; his last expedition.
  • 1864–Duncan M’Intyre; from Paroo to the Gulf of Carpentaria; died there.
  • 1864–C. C. Hunt; exploration east of York, Western Australia.
  • 1865–G. W. Goyder; removed settlement of Escape Cliffs to Port Darwin.
  • 1865–J. G. Macdonald; visited the Plains of Promise.
  • 1864–Frederick Walker; marking a telegraph line from the back of Rockingham Bay to the Norman River, Gulf of Carpentaria.
  • 1866-7–Sir George Strong Nares, in command of H.M.S. Salamander; surveyed the eastern and north-eastern coasts of Australia and Torres Straits.
  • 1869–John Forrest; first expedition to Lake Barlee.

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  • 1870–John Forrest; travelled the Great Bight, from Perth to Adelaide.
  • 1871–A. Forrest; took charge of a private expedition in search of new pastoral country.
  • 1872–J. W. Lewis; round Lake Eyre to the Queensland border.
  • 1872–Ernest Giles; first expedition; discovered Lake Amadeus–a large, dry, salt lake.
  • 1872–William Hann; explorations to Charlotte Bay.
  • 1873–Ernest Giles; second trip; death of Gibson; Gibson’s Desert named.
  • 1873–Major Warburton; crossed from Alice Springs, overland telegraph line, to the Oakover River, Western Australia.
  • 1873–W. C. Gosse; in charge of Central and Western Exploration expedition from Alice Springs.
  • 1874–Ross and son started from Peake Station, but failed in their endeavours to bridge the desert.
  • 1874–John Forrest; from the Murchison to the overland telegraph line.
  • 1874–John M’Kinlay; died at Gawler, South Australia.
  • 1875–J. W. Lewis, formerly one of Warburton’s party, and W. Beresford, were sent by the South Australian Government to survey the country about Lake Eyre.
  • 1875-76–Ernest Giles; third and successful effort to reach Western Australia; returned to Peake Station.
  • 1876–Gilbert M’Minn, and A. W. Sergison; to ascertain the course of the Katherine River.
  • 1877–A. W. Sergison and R. Travers explored the country round the Daly and Fitzmaurice Rivers.
  • 1877–Ross and Harvey; explorations in South Australia.
  • 1876–W. O. Hodgkinson; north-west expedition to the Diamantina and Mulligan.
  • 1876–Phillip Saunders and Adam Johns; from Roeburn, Western Australia, to the overland telegraph line.
  • 1878–Prout Brothers; looking for country across the Queensland border; never returned.
  • 1878–N. Buchanan; excursion to the overland telegraph line, from Queensland border. Discovered Buchanan’s Creek.
  • 1878–Frank Scarr, surveyor, attempted to cross the line south of Buchanan’s track; prevented by waterless belt of country; made north to Tennant’s Creek Station.
  • 1878-79–Ernest Favenc; in charge of the Queenslander Transcontinental Expedition, from Blackall to Powell’s Creek Station, overland telegraph line.
  • 1879–Alexander Forrest led an expedition from the De Grey River, Western Australia, to the overland telegraph line; discovered the Ord and Margaret Rivers.
  • 1878-80–Winnecke and Barclay, surveyors; to determine the border lines of Queensland and South Australia.
  • 1882-83–Ernest Favenc; coast rivers of the Gulf, particularly the Macarthur; then crossed to the overland telegraph line.
  • 1883–O’Donnel and Carr Boyd; from the overland telegraph line to Kimberley District, Western Australia.
  • 1883–M’Phee; east of Daly Waters.
  • 1883–David Lindsay; explored Arnheim’s Land.
  • 1884-85–Harry Stockdale; from Cambridge Gulf to the Katherine Telegraph Station, overland telegraph line.
  • 1884-5–Messrs. O’Donnel and party; from the Katherine Telegraph Station to the Kimberley District.
  • 1888–Ernest Favenc; to examine the country on the Gascoyne and Murchison, starting from Geraldton, Western Australia.

If you really want to get your hands on some solid reading there is plenty here. There is a alot going on in Australia in the 19th century!

…and just to get in the swing of things, here’s a nice old 1970s show on explorers in Aus…but only after you’ve finished reading the rest of the post first!

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Encounters

As the above chronology shows the occasion and opportunity for explorer adventures and encounters is limitless. The White man explorer encounters in Australia took a number of forms. Dependant on the tribal area they were transgressing and the belligerence that the tribe wanted to show, or felt it needed to, which largely determined the manner of confrontation.

Encounters occurred not only between Explorers and Aboriginals. In our context Sealers raided Aboriginals coastal communities, sealers fought amongst themselves and government forces fought against sealers and aboriginals. Many types of encounters are possible and did occur away from the urban fringes in ‘the outback’.

Factions

Taking Congo as our template which includes four factions i.e. White Men Expeditions, Sultanate of Zanzibar, Forest Tribes and African Kingdoms, we shall use ‘same type’ factions for Outback, which conveniently are of a similar kind or themeThis gives us four different factions like the original game ie White Men Explorers, Outback Tribes, Mountain and Jungle Tribes, and Coastal Raiders.

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White Men Explorers

White Explorers include those people in the post British settlement era but does not include the earlier 17th century Dutch and French Explorers. The Australian explorers include the likes of Flinders, Burke & Wills, Stuart, Leichhardt, Sturt, Giles, Eyre, amongst many others. Expeditions were large and small and all involved traversing traditional land owners territory, often encountering hostile tribes…some friendly ones to!

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Outback Tribes

This broad classification includes all the Inland tribes that the Explorers encountered. A simple glance at an aboriginal tribal map of Australia will indicate the groups that this represents. Generally these tribes inhabited temperate or warm climates though those of inland Tasmania (Van Dieman’s Land) and Victoria have sustained periods of cold weather in the winter months. They could encounter either white explorers surveying the inland regions or coastal raiders, such as the Bass Strait Sealers, who commonly raided aboriginal coastal communities in Southern Australia.

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Mountain and Jungle Tribes

This grouping is largely defined by the terrain in which they live. Mountain Tribes dominate the southern areas of Australia, including aboriginals in Tasmania, Victoria and the southern areas of New South Wales. It can also include the aboriginal tribes of South East Queensland and some inland areas of tropical North Queensland, as well as parts of the Kimberley ranges as well.

Jungle Tribes include groups of the Northern Territory, Northern Queensland and the Cape York peninsula, including Torres Strait islanders. These tribes are likely to encounter both White Men Explorers and Coastal raiders.

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Coastal Raiders

These unsavoury types made up of sailors, ex-convicts, petty scoundrels, vagabonds and adventurers include the whalers and sealers in the Bass Strait region between Victoria and Tasmania, often known as the Bass Strait Sealers. Sealers also existed off the coast of South Australia based around Kangaroo Island and in Western Australia near King George’s Sound (present day Albany). Northern Australia, with its vast coastline, was not spared the ravages of these interlopers either. They are the unquestioned ‘baddies’ in the story, synonymous to the slave trading Zanzibari Sultanate faction in Congo.

These men are a diverse bunch. They came from all corners of the globe – American, Chinese, Hawaiian, Tahitian, French, New Zealanders, English and Bengalis amongst others made up their ranks. Such was the diversity that conflict between sealer groups occasionally occurred, particularly between American and Anglo sealers. The Sealers, their profession to trade in the lucrative market of seal pelts, along with whalers, also made many coastal raids to seek women and plunder aboriginal communities.

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Desc: Alligators among us from Tracks of McKinlay expedition in search of Burke and Wills lithograph by V. Brooks • Credit: [ The Art Archive ] • Ref: AA328796

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CONGO to OUTBACK

Given Congo’s strong thematic approach it is my intention to stay as close to the original game as possible by either reinterpreting its game elements into an Australian setting and adding unique elements where deemed appropriate.

Players of Congo should be up and running with Outback by simply adding 30 or so figures for their chosen faction and perhaps some unique terrain pieces, though not even this is needed. You might however need a few camels as they were quite commonly used, something one wouldn’t expect in Australia, these ships of the desert being imported from Afghanistan for deep Outback exploration! So this should be an easy fit for some expanded Congo-esqe action down under.

Congo is such a clever and immersive thematic game that we want to build off the existing rules as much as possible where it fits the Outback setting – much of it does. It is in fact the very similarity between the Congo factions and for the most part, their Australian equivalents, that makes Congo so useful for our purposes.

Generally speaking the Characters within your faction will be as they are in the rulebook, with a few exceptions or additions noted. This will also apply to the Auxiliaries and Groups, but this is most likely where the variation will come in when it comes to the specifics of defining our troops types. The number of Group types is a little less diverse as we touched on above.

By taking all the Characters, Auxilliaries and Group troop types and swapping a few around we can create unique columns pertinent the Outback theme. Similarly, the ratings for each troop type is a value judgment to achieve the correct game effect. For example, aboriginal warriors are only rated with a shooting dice of D6 even though they are natural hunters and one would expect this to be higher. This is done however to make their units larger as well as reduce the overall lethality of their spear which has a nice historical feel to it.

For the purposes of this blog post what we shall do is note the specific Shooting, Combat and Bravery numbers along with any unique rules; otherwise the Notes will refer to the specific character in the rule book that the note applies to so as not to reproduce complete lists as such, which would only be to copy wholesale out of the rulebook which is neither convenient nor proper. For the troops that are new or different their ‘stat line’ and any specific notes will be produced so you can use them in the game.

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Rules tweaks

Dangerous Terrain Tables

Both the Jungle and Savannah dangerous terrain tables work fine for Australia – they only need a few names changed around to fit the setting. By and large both terrain tables work equally well in any particular setting, though some more so than others. Generally speaking clashes in northern and tropical Australia should use the Jungle table whilst the Savannah table is best used in the southern parts of the country and inland regions. To make things a bit simpler here are some name changes to go for, though other dangerous fauna could be substituted in…this is just a guide. If no change is mentioned then the same entry as shown is used unchanged!

Jungle

  • [4:6-7] replace panther with cassowary
  • [6:2-3] replace gorilla with crocodile
  • [6:6-7] replace tsetse flies with bees
  • [7:0-1] replace warthog with razorback bush pig
  • [8:2-3] replace monkeys with bull ants
  • [9:4-5] replace pygmies with aboriginals

Savannah

  • [4:0-1] replace elephant bones with ancient artifacts
  • [4:8-9] replace askaris with unfortunate explorers
  • [5:6-7] replace antelope with emus
  • [6:4-5] replace zanzibari expedition with explorer expedition
  • [6:8-9] replace lion with  taipan snakes
  • [7:4-5] replace warthog with razorback bush pig
  • [7:8-9] replace baboons with brown snakes
  • [9:0-1] replace hippopotamus with crocodiles

 

Rule changes

Some people online have noted that some aspects of Congo perhaps seem a bit too simplistic and in this author’s opinion, it does so at the expense of the game. So we shall institute some simple adjustment. These are optional and may be ignored if players choose.

  • Units must be up to 1 base width apart from two bases (1 base for two figures) in the same unit to form a group;
  • Rifled weapons may fire up to two Long Range sticks, with the target cover save gaining a+2drm.

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Messin’ with a good thing…

One idea I think that is worth trying is having faction specific cards. This enables certain sides to behave a little differently to each other through the mix of cards they have. Whilst we don’t want to upset the applecart too much, the following ideas allow for a slight bit of variation between factions, emphasising a general trait effect, by jigging how they use their cards during play.

  • White Men Explorers – exchange a move action for a fire action
  • Outback Tribes – exchange a melee action for a move or fire action
  • Mountain and Jungle Tribes – exchange a fire action for a melee or move action
  • Coastal Raiders – exchange a move action for a Terror effect

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Factions

The following factions, as described above, allow players to put together forces as per a typical Congo game. They are in no way ‘complete’ but rather somewhat generic in nature to cover a widespread of possible column compositions that can be formed throughout the period.

So use them as is or, with some research, you can limit certain character and troop types however far you wish to pursue ‘historical accuracy’ or a more historically attuned thematic approach. The listing shows the ‘★’ Rating of Characters and whether groups can be joined by characters (C) and/or auxiliaries (A).

Note – Only the specific Shooting, Combat and Bravery numbers for the specific character, auxiliary or group type are shown. The Notes will refer to any specific rules for the entry shown or a specific character in the rule book (by page number) to refer to for any special rules that apply.

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mp010346_departure

White Men Explorers

Your Characters:

  • The Explorer: (★★★) Figures – 1; Shooting (special) – D8; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Notes: same as The Explorer (p.77)
  • The Guide: (★★) Figures – 1; Shooting – nil; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Notes: same as The Kirangozi (p.77)
  • The Trader:(★) Figures – 1; Shooting – D6; Combat – D6; Bravery – nil; Notes: same as The Trader (p.77)
  • The Reporter: (★) Figures – 1; Shooting – D6; Combat – nil; Bravery – D6; Notes: same as The War Reporter (p.77)
  • The Botanist:(★★) Figures – 1; Shooting – nil; Combat – nil; Bravery – D8;.Notes: same as The Scientist (p.77)
  • The Doctor:(★★) Figures – 1; Shooting – nil; Combat – nil; Bravery – D8; Notes: First Aid – once per turn, when the Doctor’s group or another friendly group with S suffers a loss, roll 1d6. If the roll is a success, one loss and all its consequences are ignored.

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Your Auxiliaries:

  • Pack animal:Figures – 1; Shooting – n/a; Combat – n/a; Bravery – n/a; Pts 2 per warrior.Notes: same as Bearers (p.78)

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Your Groups:

  • Soldiers [0-1]: (C+A) Figures – 4; Shooting (musket) – D10; Combat – D8; Bravery – D10; Pts 21;.Notes: nil
  • Settlers or Convicts:(C+A) Figures – 4; Shooting (muskets) – D8; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 9;.Notes: nil
  • Adventurers:(A+A) Figures – 3; Shooting (musket) – D10; Combat – D6; Bravery – D8; Pts 11;.Notes: nil
  • Friendly Tribesmen:(C+A) Figures – 5; Shooting (spear) – D6; Combat – D8; Bravery – D6; Pts 12; Notes: nil
  • Tracker:(-) Figures – 3; Shooting (spear) – D6; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 4Notes: Treachery. Same as Scouts (p.91)
  • Fire-Stick Men:(C+A) Figures – 4; Shooting (muskets) – D8; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 9;Notes: nil

NOTES

Treachery: some times Trackers turned on the ‘whitefella’, leading him into an ambush or even fighting him, staying true to his culture but seen as treacherous by his one time ‘friends’. Therefore, if a Tracker rolls a 1 on any test he then is considered under control of the opposing player if his force is an Outback, Jungle or Mountain Tribal column. He may act with them as he desires. If he survives the game he is worth 2VPs to the Tribal player.

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ularring-2

Outback Tribes

Your Characters:

  • Tribal Elder:(★★★) Figures – 1; Shooting (spear) – D8; Combat – D8; Bravery – D10; Notes: same as The Chieftain (p.85)
  • Rainbow Warrior:(★★★) Figures – 1; Shooting (spear) – D8; Combat – D10; Bravery – D8; Notes: same as The King (p.89)
  • War Chief: (★) Figures – 1; Shooting (spear) – D8; Combat – D10; Bravery – D6; Notes: same as The Champion (p.85)
  • Bullroarer: (★) Figures – 1; Shooting (spear) – nil; Combat – nil; Bravery – D6;.Notes: same as The War Horn (p.89)
  • Shaman: (★★) Figures – 1; Shooting (spear) – nil; Combat – nil; Bravery – D8; Notes: same as The Witchdoctor (p.85)
  • Bush Healer: (★★) Figures – 1; Shooting – nil; Combat – nil; Bravery – D8;.Notes: same as The Healer (p.85)

RITUALS & SPIRITS

      • Dreamtime: same as Ritual Of The Mandrill’s Dance (p87)
      • Bora Ring: same as Ritual Of The Macabre Blessing (p91)
      • Papinijuwarissame as Ritual Of The Bloody Hand (p91)

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Your Auxiliaries:

  • Spirit Warriors:Figures – 1; Shooting (special); Combat (special); Bravery – n/a; Pts 2 per warriorNotes: same as Sacred Warriors (p.86)

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Your Groups:

  • Initiated Warriors:(C+A) Figures – 6; Shooting (spear) – D6; Combat – D8; Bravery – D8; Pts 14; Notes: Cannibals, Woomera, Clubs
  • Uninitiated Warriors:(C+A) Figures – 6; Shooting (spear) – D6; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 10; Notes: Cannibals, Woomera, Clubs
  • Picanninies:(C) Figures -2 x 3; Shooting (spear) – D6; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 12;.Notes: Picanini.
  • Trackers:(-) Figures – 3; Shooting (spear) – D6; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 4;.Notes: same as Scouts (p.91)
  • Dogs: (C) Figures – 1; Shooting – nil; Combat – D6; Bravery – nil; Pts 4;.Notes: Dogs
  • Gooroobeera Men:(C+A) Figures – 5; Shooting (muskets) – D8; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 9;Notes: nil
  • Convicts:(-) Figures – 4; Shooting – nil; Combat – Special; Bravery – Special; Pts 14;.Notes: Convicts
  • Bushrangers:(-) Figures – 3; Shooting (special) – D6; Combat – D8; Bravery – D6; Pts 10;.Notes: Bushrangers

NOTES

    1. Cannibals: this option may be taken for +2 pts per figure. It must apply to all the tribe’s warriors
    2. Woomera: this option may be taken for +1 pts per figure. Shooting range is Long. It must apply to all the tribe’s warriors
    3. Clubs: this option may be taken for +1 pts per figure. Combat is D8. It must apply to all the unit’s warriors
    4. Picanini: use the Tiny and Bond rules for Pygmy Archers (p87)
    5. Dogs: enemy conducting a surprise attack are detected by Dogs rolling a D10 – this negates the benefit of the surprise. Note, nearby disturbed Galahs or Cockatoo flocks would count the same effect.
    6. Convicts: one unit may be taken, and not with bushrangers for games set before 1810. Their hatred of the British enables them to fight dependant on their current stress. If they have no stress then use a D10, one or two stress then a D8, and three or more a D6.
    7. Bushrangers: one unit may be taken, and not with convicts. They have a selection of ranged weapons and pistols. When they fire they use a D10 at short range and D8 at Medium to Long range.

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mpa-richard-bridges-beechey-lt-j-stokes-speared-in-the-lungs-while-discovering-the-victoria-riv

Mountain and Jungle Tribes

Your Characters:

  • Tribal Elder:(★★★) Figures – 1; Shooting (spear) – D8; Combat – D8; Bravery – D10; Notes: same as The Chieftain (p.85)
  • Smoke Signals:(★) Figures – 1; Shooting – nil; Combat – nil; Bravery – D6; Notes: same as Talking Drums (p.85)
  • War Chief: (★) Figures – 1; Shooting (spear) – D8; Combat – D10; Bravery – D6; Notes: same as The Prince (p.89)
  • Mountain & Jungle Tribe Warrior: (★★) Figures – 1; Shooting – nil; Combat – D10; Bravery – D10; Notes: same as Pygmy King (p.85)
  • Shaman: (★★) Figures – 1; Shooting (spear) – nil; Combat – nil; Bravery – D8; Notes: Once per turn, after playing the Totem card, you may roll 1d6. If the roll is a success keep the Totem card in your hand rather than discarding it. You may not however play the card in question during the current turn.
  • Bush Healer: (★★) Figures – 1; Shooting – nil; Combat – nil; Bravery – D8;.Notes: same as The Healer (p.85)

RITUALS & SPIRITS

    • Revenge: same as Bull’s Breath Ritual (p87)
    • Bunyip: same as Ritual Of The Wild Hunt (p87)
    • Corroboree: same as Ritual Of The Mad Hyena (p91)

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Your Auxiliaries:

  • Spirit Warriors:Figures – 1; Shooting (special); Combat (special); Bravery – n/a; Pts 2 per warriorNotes: same as Sacred Warriors (p.86)

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Your Groups:

  • Initiated Warriors:(C+A) Figures – 6; Shooting (spear) – D6; Combat – D8; Bravery – D8; Pts 14; Notes: Clubs
  • Uninitiated Warriors:(C+A) Figures – 6; Shooting (spear) – D6; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 10; Notes: Clubs
  • Kooringal Warriors [0-1]:(C+A) Figures – 4; Shooting (spear) – D8; Combat – D8; Bravery – D8; Pts 10; Notes: same as Bodyguard (p.91)
  • Picanninies:(C) Figures – 2 x 3; Shooting (spear) – D6; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 12;.Notes: Picanini.
  • Mountain & Jungle tribes:(-) Figures – 5; Shooting (spear) – D6; Combat – D8; Bravery – D8; Pts 19; Notes: same as Pygmy Warriors (p.87)
  • Archers & Stone Throwers:(C+A) Figures – 6; Shooting – D6; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 10; Notes:nil
  • Trackers:(-) Figures – 3; Shooting (spear) – D6; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 4;.Notes: same as Scouts (p.91)
  • Dogs: (C) Figures – 1; Shooting – nil; Combat – D6; Bravery – nil; Pts 4;.Notes: Dogs

NOTES

    1. Clubs: this option may be taken for +1 pts per figure. Combat is D8. It must apply to all the unit’s warriors
    2. Picanini: use the Tiny and Bond rules for Pygmy Archers (p87)
    3. Dogs: enemy conducting a surprise attack are detected by Dogs rolling a D10 – this negates the benefit of the surprise.

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wh_hist_john_pirie_730

Coastal Raiders

Your Characters:

  • Ship’s Master:(★★★) Figures – 1; Shooting – nil; Combat – D6; Bravery – 2D8; Notes: same as The Emir (p.81)
  • The First Mate:(★★) Figures – 1; Shooting – D6; Combat – D8; Bravery – D6; Notes: same as The Retired Officer (p.77)
  • The Slaver:(★★) Figures – 1; Shooting – nil; Combat – D6; Bravery – D8; Notes: same as The Slaver (p.81)
  • The Trader:(★) Figures – 1; Shooting – D6; Combat – D6; Bravery – nil; Notes: same as The Trader (p.77)
  • The Brute:(★) Figures – 1; Shooting – nil; Combat – nil; Bravery – D8;.Notes: same as The Brute (p.81)
  • The Spruiker:(★) Figures – 1; Shooting – D6; Combat – D6; Bravery – nil; Notes: Spruiker (p.85)

NOTES

    1. Spruiker: any group he is attached to increases their Bravery to D8 (note – he offers no benefit to Sealers and Adventurers…they’ve heard it all before!)

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Your Auxiliaries:

  • Ex-Con:Figures – 1; Shooting – n/a; Combat – n/a; Bravery – n/a; Pts 2 per ex-convictNotes: same as Bearers (p.78)

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Your Groups:

  • Sealers:(C+A) Figures – 4; Shooting – D6; Combat – D8; Bravery – D10; Pts 14;.Notes: nil
  • Adventurers:(A+A) Figures – 3; Shooting – D10; Combat – D6; Bravery – D8; Pts 11;.Notes: nil
  • Native Sealers: (C+A) Figures – 6; Shooting (spear) – D6; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 10; Notes: nil
  • Scout:(-) Figures – 3; Shooting (spear) – D6; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 4;.Notes: same as Scouts (p.91)
  • Blunder-buss Men:(C+A) Figures – 5; Shooting (muskets) – D8; Combat – D6; Bravery – D6; Pts 11; Notes: nil

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In the next post we shall look at some additional factions that you can use to change the theme of the game slightly and encompass a wider range of possible ‘columns’ to expand the gaming possibilities.

 

 

Rainbow Warrior

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