Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Boreham on Disappointments

Hamilton Hume was the first of that gallant band of ‘overlanders’ of whose splendid exploits Australians are so justly proud. He it was who led the first pathfinders from Sydney to Melbourne.

In the course of that tedious and historic pilgrimage, there were two great and memorable moments, one of exultation and one of depression. The first was when Hume, on ahead of the party, suddenly stopped, waved his hat in boyish glee and came running back to announce to his comrades his discovery of the Murray [River].

The other was when, exhausted and famished, they sighted the mountains that we know as the Hume Range. The party was worn out, and begged to be allowed to give up and return. Hume pointed to a mountain ahead of them. ‘From that summit,’ he assured them, ‘we shall see the ocean, and shall go back and tell of our success!’ The mountain was climbed; ‘but when, after a desperate struggle, they reached the top, nothing met their eyes but miles and miles of ridges and gullies covered with trees’; they named it ‘Mount Disappointment’' and, to their everlasting credit, pressed on and safely reached their goal.

It is not the only episode of the kind that glorifies those early days. What shall we say of Burke, and Wills, and King as they stagger into the camp at Cooper's Creek, after their long trudge across the dusty heart of the continent, only to find the camp forsaken and death staring them in the face?

Many of us have never crossed the Hume Range; but we have clambered up Mount Disappointment for all that…

This is the beauty of Mount Disappointment. Those first ‘overlanders’ did not see the ocean, as they had hoped to do from its summit, but, as they afterwards discovered, they were on the right road. They were never so near to their destination as when they stood on its blunted peak. Mount Disappointment lay in their track and brought them nearer to their goal. That, I say, is the beauty of our disappointments….

And so Mount Disappointment is a wonderful place. In its modesty and self-depreciation it tricks us simple-minded pilgrims into the impression that we are on the wrong road. But it is all right. Hume, travelling by way of Mount Disappointment, found the ocean after all…The fact is that the painful climb up the stony slopes of Mount Disappointment is God's own wonderful way of bringing us into His Promised Land.

F W Boreham, ‘Mount Disappointment’, Mountains in the Mist (London: Charles H Kelly, 1914), 254-255, 261-264.

Image: “nothing met their eyes but miles and miles of ridges.”