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JOURNAL OF EXPLORATION
INTERIOR OF AUSTRALIA.
(BURKE RELIEF EXPEDITION.)
WITH THREE MAPS.
PUBLISHER IN ORDINARY TO THE VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT,
AND IMPORTER OF MEDICAL AND SCIENTIFIC WORKS.
LONDON. NEW YORK. PARIS. MADRID.
SYDNEY, A. CUBITT; ADELAIDE, W.C. RIGBY; TASMANIA, WALCH AND SONS.
* * *
DIARY OF MR. J. MCKINLAY,
LEADER OF THE BURKE RELIEF EXPEDITION:
BEING JOURNAL OF EXPLORATIONS IN THE INTERIOR OF AUSTRALIA,
TOGETHER WITH CHART.
TO THE HONOURABLE THE CHIEF COMMISSIONER OF CROWN LANDS.
Depot Camp, Cudye-cudyena, or Buchanan Lake,
October 26, 1861.
The following is a brief resume of the proceedings of the Burke Relief
Expedition since the date of my departure from Adelaide.
Started from Adelaide with the camels, etc., on 16th August, 1861, and
overtook the remnant of the party, horses, cart, etc. etc., nothing of
any particular note occurring on the journey to Blanchewater (Mr. Baker's
station) more than ordinary on such journeys, save the worthlessness of
the cart and consequent detention thereon. A few days before arriving at
said station, I was informed that the natives had brought in a report of
some white men and camels being seen at some inland water by them, or
rather others of Pando or Lake Hope tribe, but did not give the report
much credit knowing how easy a person may be misled from the statement he
hears from natives, and the probability of putting a wrong construction
upon what he hears, more particularly from a tribe of people who really
do not understand what you say to them, having hardly any English, but
intend making every inquiry and, if at all satisfactory on the point,
will make a push for their relief.
Got all the stores forwarded ex Lubra, and dray repacked, and started on
Tuesday, September 24; went about eleven miles, camels and cart camped at
small creek, the horses camped further on, having mistaken their
instructions; poor country.
Wednesday, September 25.
Tooncutchan, Mr. Baker's outstation--sixteen miles; met Mr. Elder and Mr.
Giles there, and Mr. Stuckey arrived in the afternoon; poor country.
Thursday, September 26.
Manawaukaninna, Messrs. Stuckey's outstation, unoccupied; thirteen and a
half miles. Mr. Stuckey and I went to Lake Torrens about three miles
distant to look out for a good crossing-place for the cart, which we did,
and returned to hut. Three of the horses had a narrow escape from
drowning before starting this morning. The country was a little better
today; filled all our water vessels and bags for the dry country between
this and Pando or Lake Hope.
Friday, September 27.
Started early; got all safe across the Lake Torrens, no water being at
our crossing nor in view. Horses and camels went on to camp about
twenty-five miles distant and leave what water was to spare for the dray
and my horse, and proceed on the next day to Lake Pando, which I found
afterwards they did, then bearing from 2 degrees 30 minutes to 3 degrees;
cart and sheep came twelve and a half miles on same course; at three
miles crossed Lake Torrens, then over a fearful jumble of broken
sandhills quite unfit to be described, occasionally passing a small flat
trending west-north-west and east-south-east; at eleven and a half miles
passed on our left a small salt lake, dry, half a mile long; watched
bullocks and sheep.
Saturday, September 28.
Started early, came ten miles similar country; did not get to within two
miles of where the horses and camels camped on 27th. I rode on and found
the water there, and very welcome it was. The bullocks refused to pull
and several lay down in the dray and a couple of them charged right and
left; unyoked them and came on with them to where the water was left,
from which place I meant to start the two blacks, Peter and Sambo, into
the lake with them; gave the blacks each a canteen full of water, also
Jack, the native shepherd, with instructions to keep on to the lake on
the tracks of the advance party, intending to ride over to the lake
myself to water my horse, leaving Palmer, and Frank (a native) with the
cart and all the water to remain till the bullocks returned for the cart.
Started and at one and a half miles found the bullocks at a standstill
and the sheep in sight, the bullocks refusing to be driven and charging
the blacks. Just as I came up by some mischance the coupling of one of
the charging bullocks gave way, and in an instant poor Peter was tossed
up in the air by Bawley and as he descended was caught up again and
tossed about on the ground; invariably the brute caught his horns against
the large canteen and saved the poor fellow's life. I was obliged to
leave the black then aft with the cart, and with Sambo started on for
water; travelled and spelled during the whole night and got to the lake
early Sunday 29th, party all right; lots of blacks, apparently peaceably
inclined. Found that Mr. Hodgkinson and Mr. Middleton had that morning
started for the dray with the camels with a supply of water. Mr. Elder
and Mr. Stuckey went to look at the country and returned in the evening;
the sandhills and flats alternately bore north-north-west and
south-south-east from the camel and horses camp of 27th.
Monday, September 30.
Mr. Elder, Mr. Stuckey, and Mr. Giles started; wrote a pencil memo to
town. Since we left last station weather very hot and disagreeable in the
extreme for the time of year. Anxious about the men and camels; went
westward some distance to find traces of the camels, thinking it probable
that they might have strayed from them; very hot, north wind, no traces,
nor did they return.
Tuesday, October 1.
Exceedingly anxious about the missing party; started out to the cart,
found missing party had arrived there all safe on 29th, and started early
on the 30th on their return. Immediately started back to lake, horse
knocked up; obliged to camp with him and arrived at camp on Wednesday 2nd
at 6 a.m., missing party not returned: thought I would never see them
again, and an awful blow it would be to me, in the first place the loss
of my two best men and the four camels I had so much reliance in. At once
on arrival sent for three horses and took Bell and Jack (the native) with
me to endeavour to get traces of them or the camels; proceeded east to
the end of the lake and round the eastern end northward but no traces
whatever; returned to camp with the intention of proceeding westward in
search with Jack, and to my infinite pleasure found they, with the
camels, had some short time before returned in a most exhausted state,
their mouths, tongues, and throats in a most pitiable condition, and
perfectly worn out; had they been out the remainder of that day without
success they (the men) must have perished. From their own account it
appears they, to lighten the cart, packed on the camels as much of the
light sundries as they could, and on their return they by some ill luck
got off the track and got confused, and after many efforts and leaving
part of their load they abandoned themselves to the guidance of the
camels who, by their instinct I suppose, brought them safe to a long lake
west of the one we were encamped at, some five or seven miles off. On
their arrival on the water they were met by a number of natives who
kindly got them water and fish to supply their wants, and after spelling
a time got some of them as guides to the camp on Pando, where they were
rewarded by presents of a tomahawk and blanket, etc. Started Bell out to
the cart with the bullocks and blackfellows, Sambo and Jack, leading a
packhorse with supplies of damper and water.
Thursday, October 3.
Invalids recovering; Hodgkinson does not seem to have suffered as much as
Friday, October 4.
Hodgkinson, with Davis and Jack, two freshest camels (Coppin and Siva)
and two horses and plenty of water and food, started to run their tracks
for the loading they left from the camels. The cart arrived all safe
about midday. The bullock, Bawley, never made his appearance, and I
suppose has gone to find his way back to Mr. Jacob's from whence he was
purchased. Cool westerly breeze.
Saturday, October 5.
Hodgkinson and party arrived all safe and were successful in finding the
left articles. Middleton very slowly recovering.
Sunday, October 6, and Monday, October 7.
Spelling the camels and bullocks; taking off the shoes of the horses that
were shod in town, having stayed on remarkably well. The country soft;
not likely to shoe them for a time; appear in good condition; bullocks
tender-necked. Rather a strange circumstance occurred while staying here.
A pelican, in an attempt to swallow a perch about a foot long by about
five inches in diameter or twelve inches in circumference, was choked
after getting it halfway down his throat, and found in the morning quite
fresh and the tail of the fish out of its mouth. A considerable quantity
of clover or trefoil on this lake; and at the eastern end on the flooded
flat, grass but not abundant. The country in this part does not appear to
have been visited by any rain for very many months; indeed years must
have passed since any quantity has fallen in this sandy region; the
bottoms of the clay-pans are nearly as hard as bricks. A considerable
quantity of saltbush of various kinds around the lake and on the flats,
with some polygonum on the flooded flats; innumerable pigeons.
Tuesday, October 8.
Started from Pando Lake Camp at twenty minutes to 9 a.m., wind west and
cool, on a bearing of 285 degrees, two miles north-north-west, to
junction of Pando Creek till 10.37; in all about four and a quarter
miles. Creek is about 250 yards to 300 broad; on the south-west bank of
lake there appears to be layers of salty substance. Tipandranara Lake
bears from junction 294 degrees; our camp of this morning 117 degrees;
south-eastern portion of lake 106 degrees; apparent course of Pando Creek
340 degrees. Within two miles the creek contracts to less than 100 yards,
and at camp about six feet. All arrived at 4.10 p.m. on small Lake
Uppadae or Camel Lake; total distance fifteen miles. Travelled over a
miserable country, with saltbush of various description, and samphire,
and small stones occasionally. Upper entrance to lake bears 12 degrees
from outlet; length about one and a quarter miles by an average of
three-quarters of a mile, surrounded by sandhills and very little timber
round it, and that little of the most miserable description of box; a
considerable quantity of rushes and a little grass round the margin, and
lots of waterfowl. For the latter half of the day's travel we were
pursuing a course from North 20 degrees West to North 10 degrees West,
and as much as north at last.
Wednesday, October 9.
Moved round western side of lake for one and a half miles; then bearing
20 degrees, at one and a half miles further struck the creek, now dry;
then 1 degree 30 minutes about three-quarters of a mile; on a bearing of
350 degrees, half a mile distant a creek comes in from the
east--evidently the same creek that leaves the main creek about one and a
quarter miles from this same course--forming a circuit as an anabranch,
from west to east one mile; then a bearing of 339 degrees for three and a
half miles. Found I had mistaken top of a dry lake for creek; changed
course to 145 degrees; three miles. Creek now alongside; general course
20 degrees; went that course two miles and camped at a long deep
waterhole. Creek dry in a number of places. I forgot to say that the day
we came to Lake Camel, the two natives, Peter and Sambo, absconded, after
getting shirts, etc. Those were the fellows that were to guide us and act
as interpreters with the natives concerning the white man reported
before, and carrying off with them a new canteen and strap, which we will
much want yet.
Thursday, October 10.
Started at 7.25; crossed creek at 9.30, bearing 20 degrees to North;
recrossed creek ten minutes past 10; same course; then North 40 degrees
East till twenty minutes to one; then crossed at the junction of two
creeks, apparently insignificant, and went east one mile to main creek;
then northward five miles. Scoured great part of the country ahead and
could find no water; getting late, and the day very heavy for the
bullocks; determined to get them to water; retreated in a course South 20
degrees West about four miles, to a small pool of water in the creek that
I crossed at midday, and camped.
Friday, October 11.
Started with the camels and Mr. Middleton, and a native named Bulingani,
provisions and water, to go to the relief of the whites said to be in the
interior, but at the same time with the intention of returning to camp if
unsuccessful in finding a good camp for the animals. On a bearing of 18
degrees, at twenty-two miles, arrived at Lake Perigundi, a semicircular
lake from three to four miles in length by one and three-quarter miles
broad. The water not very good; the natives even dig round in the clay a
short distance from the lake for water for their use. Appear friendly,
and we saw about 200 of them--more rather than under that number, and
looking remarkably healthy. Camped, surrounded by them on all sides
except the lake side about 300 yards off. One of the camels got bogged
and narrowly escaped. We kept watch and watch during the night, sending
the native who was with us to camp with the blacks, who gave us some
Saturday, October 12.
Up early and returned to camp. Found it deserted in consequence of
instructions given to Mr. Hodgkinson previous to departure--that he was
to examine the creek southward; and in the event of his finding good feed
and water (which at the camp were both indifferent) to remove the camp at
once, which he found, and consequently removed, leaving me a memo at an
appointed place of his distance and direction, which was about one and a
half miles south and west. Two of the working bullocks got off during my
absence, and before they were overtaken by the blackfellow (Frank) on
horseback, they had got down south as far as Lake Hope; so he reported on
Sunday, October 13.
Today I started Palmer and Jack on horseback to look after Frank and the
bullocks, when they met with the bullocks coming back on their tracks;
preparing for a start tomorrow, carrying a supply of water; name of our
present camp, a fine long sheet of water, Wankadunnie; bears 220 degrees
from the camp retreated from.
Monday, October 14.
Started with bullock-dray at 6.30 on a bearing of 18 degrees; after the
first nine and a half miles travelled over undulating country of sand,
dry flats, and flooded ground. From the top of the highest sandhill at
that distance the whole country, particularly to the eastward, is one
mass of flooded timbered flats and subject to awful inundations; at those
times it must be quite impracticable--the main creek (apparently) upon
our right varying from one or two and a half miles in width, with patches
of young trees across its bed and sides. If this country had permanent
water and rain occasionally it would do well for stock of any
kind--having a fair sprinkling of grass compared with anything of late
seen; and at fourteen miles on a bearing of 18 degrees came to, and
crossed at an angle, the bed of a small dry lake (with lots of fine
grass) or watercourse half a mile wide. When rain has fallen on this
country it is difficult to say; most of the herbs and grass and shrubs as
dry as tinder and will ignite at once--but is much more open and fit for
pasture. At sixteen miles on same bearing crossed the bed of salt lake,
now dry and of no great extent, running north and south in an extensive
flat; spelled and had a pot of tea. Then on a bearing of 357 degrees for
nine and a half miles to camp on west side of Siva Lake, or Perigundi
Lake; found it exceedingly boggy; and what I supposed was clover, as seen
in the distance at my former visit, was nothing but young samphire;
little or no grass; watered the horses out of a canvas by buckets; whole
distance twenty-five and a half miles; all arrived at about 7 p.m.
Tuesday, October 15.
Anxious to get off to the place reported by the natives as the abode of
the white man, or men; and finding this lake won't suit as a depot till
my return, on account of its boggy nature and scarcity of feed, I started
today to endeavour to find a place suitable for that purpose, and
travelled over alternate heavy and high sandhills and flooded wooded
polygonum flats with a few grassy patches. At eleven miles on a bearing
of about 83 1/2 degrees came to a lake, Cudye-cudyena; plenty of grass
and clover but the water all but dried up, a few inches only being around
its margin; all the centre and south end and side being a mudbank--but
thought it would do by digging. On my way back came on a creek with
sufficient water and grass, though dry, to suit the purpose, at two
miles, and pushed on to camp. A strange circumstance occurred this
evening, showing isolated instances of gratitude and honesty of the
natives. In the evening after my return a number of natives were near the
camp; amongst them, just as they were about to depart, I observed an
elderly man and his son, a boy of eight to ten years who appeared to be
an invalid and was about to be carried off by the father. I stopped him
and, as I was at supper, gave the youth some bread and meat and tea; when
they all took their leave. About the end of the first watch (which was
regularly kept) I was awake and heard the person on watch, Middleton,
speaking, evidently to a native who, to my astonishment as well as to
Middleton's, ventured up to the camp alone at night; and what would the
reader suppose his errand was? It was to bring back our axe that one of
his tribe had purloined unseen from the camp during the afternoon. On
delivery of said article he at once took his leave, promising to come in
Wednesday, October 16.
In the morning a few of the natives approached the camp, but stood off at
a respectable distance, not sure how they were to be dealt with for their
dishonesty, till by and bye the old man with a few others came up; and
gradually they that stood aloof came up also. Amongst them were women and
children to whom I made various little presents of beads and fishhooks,
with which they seemed pleased. To the old man for his honesty I gave a
tomahawk with which he appeared highly pleased--his name was Mootielina;
the thief I could not find out, or would have given him his deserts
likewise. They did not muster very strong this morning, only about 100;
but numbers of others were visible all round the lake at the different
camps. They all appeared very civil, whether from fear or naturally I
could not guess. Started bearing 40 degrees, passing north-west arm of
lake three-quarters of a mile; then a bearing of 100 degrees. At
three-quarters of a mile cleared the timber that surrounds the water-mark
of lake; then began to ascend the sandhills which were very soft, high
and steep, for about half a mile or little more, to the highest of them
on same course. Changed course to 85 degrees, descending the various
sandhills for about a mile; then alternate flooded flats with timber
(box) and polygonum, and sandhills, till arrived at a water close by my
course home yesterday, and within three-quarters of a mile of where I
intended to fix the camp as depot; and which will suit the purpose very
well, having sufficient water and abundance of grass on a large flooded
flat immediately east of, and running north and south. Distance travelled
on last course six and a half miles, total distance eight and a half
miles to Careri Creek, which seems to flow from the west of north, or
nearly north and south; but name of waterhole is Wantula Depot.
Thursday, October 17.
At depot making arrangements for a start; out in search of the water the
whites are supposed to be at. I will take with me Mr. Hodgkinson,
Middleton, and a native of this country, Bulingani (who seems to say he
knows something of the whites) four camels, three horses, one hundred and
sixty pounds of flour, thirty-two pounds of sugar, four pounds of tea,
eleven pounds of bacon, and some little necessary, etc., for persons
likely to be in a weak state. Leave Bell in charge of the arrangements of
the camp, Davies in charge of the stores. About twenty natives are
encamped within pistol shot; but have made a fold for the sheep and put
everything in such a shape that I may find things all right on my return.
Opened the sausages and found them all less or more damaged, one tin in
fact as nearly rotten as possible, which have to be thrown away; the
others are now drying in the sun in the hopes we may be able to use them.
We would have been in a sad fix without the sheep.
Friday, October 18.
At 8 a.m. started; crossed well-grassed flooded polygonum flats or plains
for an hour, crossing Kiradinte in the Careri Creek; then left the creek
on the left and passed over a succession of sand ridges. At 9.15 arrived
at Lake Cudye-cudyena at about nine miles. It was quite a treat,
abundance of good water, and any quantity of grass of various kinds, and
plenty of clover. It bears 345 degrees, is about six miles long, and
fully half a mile wide, well timbered. On a bearing from this southern
end of lake (now called Lake Buchanan after Mr. Buchanan of Anlaby, from
whom the whole party experienced the utmost kindness) Lake Bulpaner, now
all but dry (and what was mistaken by me the other day, when in search of
a good depot, for this lake--very dissimilar indeed) bears 158 degrees,
distant about two miles along almost a valley. Saw some of the natives on
the way here, and sent Mr. Hodgkinson and Bulingani back for one of them
to forward a letter to Camp Depot to desire them to move on to this
place--so much more desirable for a depot than where they now are. Turned
out the animals to await their return. In the meantime three lubras
arrived on the opposite side of the lake and we called them over. Shortly
after, Mr. Hodgkinson and the black came back; we had some luncheon,
started the lubras back to the cart at the depot with a note requesting
them to advance to this lake and, at 1.25 p.m., started on a bearing of
345 degrees, along the side of the lake and at 2.45 left the north-east
sweep of the lake; then on a bearing of 32 degrees over sand ridges and
saltbush flats. Very open country till within one mile of camp at Gunany,
a large creek about sixty to eighty yards wide and from twenty to thirty
deep, on which we found a number of natives just finishing their day's
fishing. They had been successful and had three or four different sorts
of fish, namely the catfish of the Murray, the nombre of the Darling, and
the brown perch, and I think I observed a small cod. They offered, and I
took several, which were very good--they promised to bring more in the
morning. We came upon and crossed a large flooded wooded polygonum flat
which continued close to the camp. Distance travelled twenty-five and
Saturday, October 19.
Early this morning about eighty natives of all sorts, healthy and strong,
visited the camp and could not be coaxed or driven away. I think they
would have tried to help themselves were it not from fear of the
arms--how they came to know their deadliness I cannot say. Altering one
of the camel saddles that has hurt one of their backs and caused us to be
late in starting. Started twenty minutes to 9 a.m. Immediately crossed
creek to Toorabinganee, a succession of reaches of water in a broad
creek, some apparently deep, spelled half an hour, crossed creek and went
over very high sandhills, pretty well grassed, with a little saltbush of
various kinds, with some flooded and saltbush flats, and arrived at
Luncheon Place, an island often, now partly, dry, on south-eastern side
in an extensive irregular lake of about eight and a half to nine miles
long by an average of one and three-quarters to two miles--very hot--name
of Lake Canna Cantajandide. Thought I might be able to cross it at the
narrowest place with the horses and camels instead of going all round, as
it put me out of my course. Sent Mr. Hodgkinson to ascertain its depth,
and found it too deep, so had to go round. Arrived at Luncheon Place at
ten minutes past 12, and started again twenty minutes to 4, and travelled
to east end of lake, bearing 202 degrees till 4.17; then course of 27
degrees over exceedingly high and abrupt sandhills with poor miserable
flats between them; towards the end of our day's journey over a rather
more flat country with large dry beds of lakes or swamps, as dry as ashes
with a salt-like appearance, the only vegetation being a few scattered
bushes of samphire and an occasional saltbush--a more dreary country you
could not well imagine. Arrived at Lake Mooliondhurunnie, a nice little
lake nearly circular and nearly woodless, about one and a half miles
diameter, at five minutes to seven p.m. Abundance of good water and
plenty of feed--clover and some grass--bearing of creek that fills lake
350 degrees; east end 87 degrees; west end 303 degrees; north side 15
degrees, distance travelled twenty-eight miles. On arrival at lake saw
several native fires, which on our lighting ours, were immediately put
out. Saw nothing of them.
Sunday, October 20.
At daylight about 90 to 100 natives of all sorts visited us; they were
not so unruly as those of the morning before, having evidently had some
communication with whites--using the word Yanaman for horse, as in
Sydney, and one or two other words familiar to me. Plenty of fish, of
sorts, in the lake, although not very deep. Cuddibaien bears 100 degrees.
The natives here say that the whites have left above place and are now at
Undaganie. I observed several portions of European clothing about their
camps as on our course we passed them. At the camp we found twenty to
thirty more natives, principally aged and children; and on the opposite
side of the lake there was another encampment, in all numbering about 150
souls. The sandhills in our course were exceedingly high on the western
side but pretty hard; but on the eastern side almost precipitous and soft
drift sand; a dray or cart might get east, but I cannot fancy it possible
it could return. An exceedingly hot day, wind north. On our way the
natives informed us that the natives we had left in the morning had
murdered the man said to be at the end of our day's stage. On some of the
ridges and on crossing a large flat creek I observed two new trees or
shrubs (they are both) from one I obtained some seeds like beans, and
rather a nice tree; the other, when large, at a distance looks like a
shea-oak, having a very dark butt and long, drooping, dark-green, narrow
leaves, and did not appear to have any seeds at present. Started at 7.17
till twenty-two minutes to 10, nine miles, on a bearing of from 100 to
105 degrees; at 8.18 sighted a large timbered creek, distant one mile,
for about seven miles, 360 to 140 degrees. At twenty-two minutes to 10
observed a large dry salt lake bearing 341 degrees, north-west arm 330
degrees, north arm 355 degrees, distance to extreme point of north bank
nine miles. Bullingani informed us that a large lake lay on a bearing of
110 degrees, some distance off, named Murri Murri Ando. At 10.15 started
on a fresh course of 64 degrees, crossing, 11.15, a small salt lake
rapidly drying up. At 11.30 altered course to 100 degrees; at twenty-five
minutes to 12 to ten minutes to 1 spelled on sandhill, waiting for the
camels, they feeling the effects of the steep sandhill. At nine minutes
past 1 altered course to 116 degrees; at 1.15 altered course to 161
degrees; at seven minutes to 2 changed to 47 degrees; and at 2.20 reached
Lake Kadhibaerri. Found plenty of water and watered the horses (the
camels some distance behind, quite unable to keep up) and at once
proceeded northward along the side of a large beautifully-timbered
grassed and clovered swamp (or creek about one and a half miles across)
to ascertain the fact as to the presence of a European, dead or alive,
and there found a grave rudely formed by the natives, evidently not one
of themselves, sufficient pains not having been taken, and from other
appearances at once set it down as the grave of a white, be he who he
may. Returned to lake to await the coming of the camels which was not
till about 5 p.m. Determined in the morning to have the grave opened and
ascertain its contents. Whilst I went to top of sandhills, looking round
me, Mr. Hodgkinson strayed a short distance to some old deserted native
huts a short distance off, and by and by returned bearing with him an old
flattened pint pot, no marks upon it--further evidence that it was a
white, and felt convinced that the grave we saw was that of a white man;
plenty of clover and grasses the whole distance travelled, about eighteen
miles. Kept watch as usual (but did not intend doing so) but just as we
were retiring a fire suddenly struck up and we thought some of the
natives had followed us, or some others had come to the lake, rather a
strange matter after dark. The fire soon after disappeared, which made us
more certain still that it was natives. Intend spelling the camels for a
few days to recruit them; one on arrival was completely done up and none
of the others looking very sprightly.
Monday, October 21.
Up in good time; before starting for the grave went round the lake,
taking Mr. Hodgkinson with me to see if natives were really on lake, as I
did not intend saddling the camels today if there were no natives here,
intending to leave our camp unprotected, rather unwise, but being so
short of hands could not help it, the grave being much out of sight.
Found no natives round the lake nor any very recent traces saving that
some of the trees were still burning that they (when here last) had
lighted. We started at once for the grave, taking a canteen of water with
us and all the arms. On arrival removed the earth carefully and close to
the top of the ground found the body of a European enveloped in a flannel
shirt with short sleeves, a piece of the breast of which I have taken;
the flesh I may say completely cleared from the bones, and very little
hair but what must have been decomposed; what little there was I have
taken. Description of body, skull, etc: marked with slight sabre cuts,
apparently two in number, one immediately over the left eye, the other on
the right temple, inclining over right ear, more deep than the left.
Decayed teeth existed on both sides of lower jaw and right of upper; the
other teeth were entire and sound. In the lower jaw were two teeth, one
on each side (four between in front) rather projecting as is sometimes
called in the upper jaw buck teeth. I have measured the bones of the
thigh and leg, as well as the arm, with a cord, not having any other
method of doing it. Gathered all the bones together and buried them
again, cutting a lot of boughs and other wood, and putting over top of
the earth. Body lies with head south, feet north, lying on face, head
severed from body. On a small tree, immediately south, we marked MK Oct.
21, '61. Immediately this was over we questioned the native further on
the subject of his death. He says he was killed by a stroke from what the
natives use as a sword (an instrument of semicircular form) five to eight
feet long and very formidable. He showed us where the whites had been in
camp when attacked. We saw lots of fish bones but no evidence then on the
trees to suppose whites had been there. They had certainly chosen a very
bad camp in the centre of a box scrub with native huts within 150 to 200
yards of them. On further examination we found the dung of camels and
horse or horses, evidently tied up a long time ago. Between that and the
grave we found another grave, evidently dug with a spade or shovel, and a
lot of human hair of two colours, that had become decomposed, on the skin
of the skull, and fallen off in flakes--some of which I have also taken.
I fancy they must all have been murdered here; dug out the new-formed
grave with a stick (the only instrument we had) but found no remains of
bodies save one little bone. The black accounted for this in this manner,
he says they had eaten them. Found in an old fireplace immediately
adjoining what appeared to be bones very well burned, but not in any
quantity. In and about the last grave named a piece of light blue tweed
and fragments of paper and small pieces of a Nautical Almanac were found,
and an exploded Eley's cartridge. No appearance on any of the trees of
bullet marks as if a struggle had taken place. On a further examination
of the blacks' camp where the pint pot was found there was also found a
tin canteen, similar to what is used for keeping naphtha in, or some such
stuff, both of which we keep. The native says that any memos the whites
had are back on the last camp we were at on the lake, with the natives,
as well as the ironwork of saddles which on our return we mean to
endeavour to recover if the blacks can be found; it may be rash but there
is necessity for it. I intend before returning to have a further search.
No natives yet seen here.
Tuesday, October 22.
Breakfasted and are just about to get in the horses to have a further
search when the natives make their appearance within half a mile of us,
making for some of their old huts. Immediately on observing us made off
at full speed. Mounted the horses and soon overtook one fellow in much
fear. In the pursuit the blackfellow with us was thrown from his horse;
the horse followed and came up with us just as we pulled the frightened
fellow up. Immediately after our blackfellow came up, mounted his horse,
and requested us at once to shoot the savage, as he knew him to be one of
the murderers of the man or party; but we declined, thinking we might be
able to glean something of the others from him. On taking him back from
where we caught him to the camp, he brought us to a camp (old) of the
natives, and there dug up a quantity of baked horsehair for saddle
stuffing. He says everything of the saddlery was burned, the ironwork
kept and the other bodies eaten--a sad end of the poor fellows. He stated
that there is a pistol north-east of us at a creek which I have sent him
to fetch; and a rifle or gun at the lake we last passed which, with the
other articles, we will endeavour to recover. Exceedingly hot; windy and
looks as if it would rain. The natives describe the country from south to
north of east as being destitute of water or creeks, which I afterwards
found cause to doubt. I have marked a tree here on north side MK Oct. 22,
'61; west side, Dig 1 ft.; where I will bury a memo in case anyone should
see my tracks, that they may know the fate of the party we are in search
of. There are tens of thousands of the flock pigeon here; in fact since
we came north of Lake Torrens they have been very numerous and at same
time very wary. Mr. Hodgkinson has been very successful in killing as
many of them as we can use, mixed with a little bacon. Before the native
went to fetch the pistol he displayed on his body, both before and
behind, the marks of ball and shot wounds now quite healed. One ball
inside of left knee so disabled him that he had to be carried about (as
he states) for some considerable time; he has also the mark of a pistol
bullet on right collarbone; and on his breast a number of shot--some now
in the flesh but healed. His family, consisting of four lubras and two
boys, remained close to our camp awaiting his return, which he said (from
pointing to the sun) would be 10 or 11 o'clock next day. When called at
twenty minutes to 11 p.m. to take my watch, I had not been on duty ten
minutes when I observed a signal fire in the direction he had gone, about
six miles distant, and wondered he did not make his appearance, but all
was quiet for the rest of the night, excepting that at intervals the fire
Wednesday, October 23.
4 a.m. Just as we were getting up, not very clear yet, headed by the
fellow I yesterday sent for the pistol, came about forty others bearing
torches, shields, etc. etc. etc., shouting and kicking up a great noise
and evidently endeavouring to surround us. I immediately ordered them
back, also telling the native that was with me to tell them that if they
did not keep back I would fire upon them, which they one and all
disregarded--some were then within a few paces of us, the others at
various other distances. I requested Hodgkinson and Middleton to be ready
with their arms and fire when desired. Seeing nothing else left but to be
butchered ourselves, I gave the word Fire. A few of those closest retired
a few paces and were being encouraged on to the attack when we repeated
our fire; and until several rounds were fired into them (and no doubt
many felt the effects) they did not wholly retire. I am afraid the
messenger, the greatest vagabond of the lot, escaped scathless. They then
took to the lake, and a few came round the western side of it, southward,
whom we favoured with a few dropping shots to show the danger they were
in by the distance the rifles would carry on the water. They then cleared
off and we finished with them. I then buried the memo for any person that
might happen to follow my footsteps, at the same time informing them to
beware of the natives as we had, in self-defence, to fire upon them. I
have no doubt, from the manner they came up, that they at once considered
us an easy prey; but I fancy they miscalculated and I hope it may prove a
useful lesson to them in future. Got breakfast ready and over without
further molestation and started at 10.30 on a bearing of 197 degrees. At
11.15 reached a recently-flooded richly-grassed flat, surrounded by a
margin of trees; the main bulk of it lying south of our course; thence
bearing 202 degrees, stopping twenty minutes for camels; and proceeding
and at 12.30 crossing north-west end of another dry lake or grassed and
clovered flat similar to the other. At 1.20 made a large box creek with
occasional gums, about from fifty to sixty yards wide and eighteen to
twenty feet deep, sandy bottom, where we struck it perfectly dry where a
stream flows to west of north with immense side creeks (I fancy Cooper's
Creek is a branch of it); followed its bed in its course northward and at
2 p.m. reached a waterhole with no very considerable quantity of water.
Watered the camels and horses. This creek is named Werridi Marara. From
thence Lake Buchanan bears 232 degrees 30 minutes; Kadhiberri 41 degrees;
Lake Mooliondhurunnie 296 degrees. Crossed the creek and went on a
bearing of 215 degrees 30 minutes till 6 p.m., striking same creek and
following its bed (dry) for about two miles and reached Dharannie Creek;
a little indifferent water in its bed, very steep banks (about thirty
feet high) and sixty yards broad. The bed of the creek from where we
struck it at 6 p.m. was chiefly rocky or conglomerate stone resembling
Thursday, October 24.
Left at 7.15 bearing 215 degrees; travelling one hour and twenty minutes
over splendid grassy flats with low intervening sand-ridges. At five
minutes to ten made Arannie, a recently-dried lake (abundance of clover
and grasses) three miles long by one broad, at rightangles to our course,
and struck it quarter of a mile from its northern extremity. At 10.22
made Ityamudkie, another recently-dried lake; plenty of luxuriant feed.
At ten minutes to 11 reached its western border at a creek called
Antiwocarra, with no great quantity of water, flowing from 320 degrees.
At 1 p.m. left Antiwocarra. At five minutes to 2 made a large flooded
flat, recently under water, with a great abundance of clover and grasses
reaching as far as the eye can trace. At rightangles to our course at
2.15 reached its western border, and at 2.25 reached the depot at Lake
Buchanan or Cudye-cudyena--the place where I directed the camp to be
shifted to--and found everything in good order, much to my satisfaction.
My black female messengers it appears did not go back at once to our camp
with the note I gave them, and consequently they did not get here till
Friday, October 25.
At camp very much the appearance of rain but none has fallen. Clearing
off any heavy trees round our camp that could be used by natives as
places of concealment. Have made up my mind to send a party into the
settled districts as far as Blanchewater with such information regarding
the object of my search and as much general information as is in my
power, with copy of journal and tracing showing our route, which Mr.
Hodgkinson will be better able to do neatly at Blanchewater than here in
the tents; although he has made here on the spot such a one as would give
a very good idea of all that is necessary. No part of this country has
had any rain for very many months; the grasses and herbage generally on
the hilly ground being like tinder. If it had an ordinary share it would
be an excellent healthy stock country. From the numbers of natives and
their excellent condition I am satisfied that many lakes and creeks in
this part are permanent; and as I mean to give it a good look over I have
come to the conclusion that I will require a further supply of flour,
tea, sugar, and a few little et ceteras, and will therefore send horses
with the party that goes to Blanchewater under the guidance of Mr.
Hodgkinson to bring up additional supplies, trusting to get them there,
and at the same time hoping this course may meet the approbation of the
Government; for in so doing I adopt the course I would pursue on my own
account and therefore do it on theirs. The men are in excellent health
and good spirits, and the animals except the camels (they cannot stand
the heavy hills of sand if at all hot, which it was on our last trip) are
all in good condition--many of them much better than when we left
Adelaide. The wind is blowing from all parts of the compass but rather
cool. For days previous it kept from the north and generally very hot
indeed. As yet no rare specimens obtained of birds, animals, or anything
Saturday, October 26.
Threatens very much for rain; very sultry; sun overcast; and wind from
every quarter except north. Will start Mr. Hodgkinson, Bell, Wylde, and
Jack (the native) on Monday 28th October if nothing comes in the way, and
will request Mr. Hodgkinson to endeavour to procure a native that can
speak the language of the natives here; as those we have got do not know
one word nor, on the contrary, do the natives here understand them. They
all circumcise and principally knock out the two front teeth of the upper
jaw. After all the threatening for rain the day has closed without any.
Sunday, October 27.
Wind south and sultry; everything ready for the return party making a
start tomorrow; I expect them to be absent about three weeks. I am sorry
so much time should be lost; however should any rain fall ere they return
I will go over to Cooper's Creek Depot; but the country is so exceedingly
dry in this region at present that, unless I can make out to hit upon
those places where water has been left by the last flood, it would be
quite impossible to travel with anything like safety. Not a single quart
of water (surface left by rain) has been fallen in with since we left
Lake Torrens; and I question very much (from my knowledge of the Darling
country) whether Mr. Howitt has been able to push his way out as far as
Cooper's Creek yet for the want of rain, and am almost satisfied in my
own mind that Burke and party either reached the north coast, or at all
events went a very long way out, on a bearing of (firstly by account of
the natives) 311 1/2 degrees to or passing a salt lake or watercourse
(perhaps then fresh) where the natives report that the whites killed
their horse. They call the place Beitiriemalunie; there is also another
lake, salt now (perhaps then fresh) called Baramberrany. They gave no
particular intelligence as to the camels save mimicking their awkward way
of travelling with their heads thrown back. A bearing of 311 1/2 degrees
would take them near to Eyre's Creek; and I have no doubt that at that
time Burke and party went out from Cooper's Creek (in December last) they
would have to contend with too much water instead of the want of it, as
they must have travelled out of their way, very many miles often, to pass
the immense basins, swamps, and watercourses (boggy) that must have come
in their line of travel; and at that time all this country, perhaps to
Stuart's line of route, could have been thoroughly examined, as I can see
in many places large watercourses in the direction; and my belief is that
Burke's party were massacred on their return by their outward route, and
by one of their old camps. Whether they were all slaughtered or not it is
impossible to say from the traces and the considerable time that has
elapsed since they were killed. I will endeavour to examine the country
all round this locality for further traces of the party and camels; and
on return of my party, if not before, will push out a scouting party
towards Eyre's Creek and that quarter. I retain the two tins found near
the scene of the disaster. This for the present brings my journal to a
JOHN MCKINLAY, LEADER.
* * *
[COPY OF LETTER BURIED AT LAKE MASSACRE.]
October 23rd, 1861.
TO THE LEADER OF ANY EXPEDITION SEEKING TIDINGS OF BURKE AND PARTY:
I reached this water on the 19th instant, and by means of a native guide
discovered a European camp one mile north, on west side of flat. At or
near this camp traces of horses, camels, and whites were found. Hair,
apparently belonging to Mr. Wills, Charles Gray, and Mr. Burke or King,
was picked from the surface of a grave dug by a spade, and from the skull
of a European buried by the natives. Other less important traces--such as
a pannican, oil can, saddle stuffing, etc., have been found. Beware of
the natives; upon whom we have had to fire. We do not intend to return to
Adelaide, but proceed to west of north. From information, all Burke's
party were killed and eaten.
I have, etc., JOHN MCKINLAY.
P.S. All the party in good health. If you had any difficulty in reaching
this spot, and wish to return to Adelaide by a more practicable route,
you may do so for at least three months to come by driving west for
eighteen miles, then south of west, cutting our dray track within thirty
miles. Abundance of water, and feed at easy stages.
* * *
CONTINUATION OF JOURNAL.
(The preceding portion having been forwarded to Adelaide in October,
Monday, October 28.
At 2.45 p.m. started Mr. Hodgkinson, Bell, Wylde, and Jack (native) with
four saddle-horses and twelve packhorses and saddles. Weather sultry, sky
overcast. Between 9 and 10 p.m. a heavy gale of wind from west, with a
good deal of thunder and lightning, which blew our encampment quickly to
the ground, after which we had a few squally showers from same quarter,
but nothing of any consequence; towards morning the wind quite lulled.
Tuesday, October 29.
Wind variable from north-west to south, and very cloudy, in expectation
of more rain; about 10 p.m. a native signal-fire south of this some
distance. Have seen none since my return--no great loss; none have made
their appearance during the night.
Wednesday, October 30.
At daylight quite a calm; then at 6 a.m. wind from south, then
south-east, then east, with a beautiful clear sky and the air very
agreeable. During the afternoon wind back to south and then a fresh
westerly breeze. Native dogs rather troublesome, lay baits with
Thursday, October 31.
At daylight found three baits gone and found close by two dead dogs.
Unpacking cart to put wheels in order, being rather loose, when one of
the baits fell from limb of tree, where for the time they were put, and
unfortunately our poor dog discovered it and ate it, and in a few moments
was dead. Wind as yesterday. Sowed some melon (pie), pumpkins, orange
pips, apricot, peach, and plum stones. During the night a native
signal-fire seen south.
Friday, November 1.
Wind westerly and strong and lots of light fleecy clouds. About 9 a.m.
the native Bullingani, who was out with me, came into camp alone, having
disappeared the evening of my return from Kadhibaerri. I wish he
understood a little English as then he would be of much service.
Saturday, November 2.
Wind westerly round to south and east during the day, afternoon very
strong westerly. Rode out today to the highest sandhill south-east and
round to west and north-west of the lake I am now on to see if any
likelihood of water to the east, west, or north-west; found a good deal
in a creek running northerly on west side of lake and beyond it; returned
by west side of lake. The native went away this afternoon, promising to
be back tomorrow.
Sunday, November 3.
Very strong west wind but cool and agreeable. Native not returned.
Monday, November 4.
In the morning wind light from south, veered round to east; blew strong
but cool. From the termination of the trees on creek that fills this lake
Anlaby Hill bears 165 degrees; patiently awaiting a good shower to enable
me to get to Cooper's Creek Depot to ascertain if any further traces of
Burke's party or his camels are there visible, or if Mr. Howitt's party
have arrived. On my way out on Saturday about two miles from here found
dung of horses or mules, of some considerable age, and on my return to
the camp one of the men a short distance from the camp picked up part of
a hobble-strap with black buckle, much worn and had been patched, or
rather sewn, by someone as a makeshift; the leather was perfectly rotten.
No traces on any of the trees round here of anyone having been encamped.
The flies all along have been a thorough plague; fortunately, and strange
to say, we have had no mosquitoes, but thousands of small gnats take
their place, and find their way into everything. Our native Bullingani
not returned. I hardly expected him as he did not seem inclined to give
any further information either as to water or any other subject. He says
they are mustering about fifteen miles south of this for a grand (weima)
or corroberrie, and informs me that they are gathering in from all
quarters, so that I hardly like to weaken the camp here by taking one of
the men away with me. I have generally seen at the break up of those
great meetings that if they can manage it they in some way or other do
mischief, and unless I see a peaceable dispersion of these people I will
not move far away, at least for not longer than a day or two.
Tuesday, November 5.
Wind west; during the day round to south and east; temperature mild. A
few natives made their appearance on the north-west side of the lake some
distance off; towards afternoon four of their young men came to the
opposite side. I sent for them and they came over and had some dinner;
after a few questions about waters, etc. etc., they took their leave
southward, the way no doubt the rest of their tribe had gone.
Wednesday, November 6.
Wind east in gusts and cloudy; in afternoon blew strong. Temperature very
Thursday, November 7.
Wind during the night and at daylight blew very strong from the east,
towards noon it moderated; sky much clouded but I suppose up here it will
all blow past without any rain, although it appears to be falling in the
east. Wind round to south-east and south during afternoon with every
appearance of rain.
Friday, November 8.
No rain during the night but it was very mild and close; wind south-east
with a few clouds but with very little appearance of rain. Anxious to
find water about a day's stage eastward of depot; started out for that
purpose east three-quarters of a mile to top of sandhill close by; then
on a bearing of 118 degrees for large sandhill at quarter of a mile.
Entered a well-grassed flooded flat for about two miles, and at about one
and a quarter miles further arrived at sandhill. About two miles
south-south-east is the grassy bed of a fine lake now dry, unless there
may be a little water in the creek at the south-east end of it. Not
seeing anything in the appearance of the country to indicate the presence
of water on this course, I started on a bearing of 68 degrees over
sandhills, and at two miles came to very cracked flooded flats, and
continued on them for four and a half miles, and at one and a half miles
further came to a long salty swamp running nearly north and south, a
desolate spot; then a sand rise and another of the same. Changed course
then to 90 degrees over sandhills; at seven miles long flooded grassed
flat, north to south; then sandhill; at eight miles came to an immense
flooded flat, north to south, with great width at its northern end. At
two and three-quarter miles further came to top of very high sandhill,
and close under (east) an immense dry salt lake or very large flat. From
this there is the appearance of a large lake northward, bearing 12
degrees 20 minutes; it may be mirage, but I have observed it further back
on the day's stage, and from top of the highest hills it looks more like
water than mirage, and will therefore start for it, and if I find it is
water, it will suit my purpose as a stage on my intended journey to
Cooper's Creek on the arrival of the party now absent at Blanchewater.
For the first three miles over sand-ridges, then over cracked flooded
flats (grassless) for four miles, a box or gum creek on my right running
northward and southward. At the end of this distance I am satisfied that
I have been deceived; and as the day has been very hot and my horse
appears to be ill I will shape my course for the camp. Started at ten
minutes to 4 p.m.; find my horse thoroughly done up with, it appears,
dysentery, and am obliged to camp on top of large sandhill at 6.50 p.m.;
not a breath of wind and smoking hot. I chose this for a camp that I may
be enabled at daylight to see if there are any waters within range of
Saturday, November 9.
At daylight have a splendid view of the country round but not the
slightest appearance of water anywhere; start at 4 a.m. and I scarcely
think from the look of the horse that he will be able to take me in. I
never in so short a time saw an animal fall away so much. At 7 a.m.
struck the tracks of our horses and camels as we returned from
Cadhibaerri and followed them to camp. They led a little more to the
south than my course, as I now find that would take me out on the lake
camp about two miles north of camp. At about 8.10 a.m. got to camp, the
horse very seedy and myself not feeling very well. Some natives visited
the camp during my absence and I now see some on the opposite side of
lake. I sent for one to endeavour to get some information from him. They
had started off for our old camp before the messenger arrived but he
followed and one of them came back and stopped the night. I mean to take
him out east if he stops. I am getting very unwell from dysentery. Wind
strong from the north and very disagreeable.
Sunday, November 10.
Very unwell today; fortunately we have plenty of medicine. Wind moderate
from north-east to east and south-east. The native visitor, under
pretence of going to bring a net from the opposite side of the lake, took
French leave. I dare say when well I shall be able to get another.
Monday, November 11.
Worse rather than better today. To add to my misfortunes I have got my
right knee and back tendons become very stiff and painful, so much so
that I can hardly move. Very cloudy; wind changeable from north-east to
Tuesday, November 12.
Wind strong from east and south-east. Little better today but leg equally
sore and stiff. Getting the cartwheels wedged and put to rights. From the
awful torment of the flies, the horses, although on magnificent feed, are
not in anything like the same condition as they were ten days ago; to
endeavour to escape them they go into the lake, and remain there for
hours at a stretch, lying down in the water and occasionally ducking
their heads under but to no purpose. Killed a sheep as the part of the
last one that was not jerked got putrid during next day and had to be
thrown away. Am sorry also that the sausages, after dragging them so far,
after all have to be thrown away, being perfectly unfit for use; had they
been good they would have been a splendid thing. We find the bacon an
excellent standby. Threatens much for rain.
Wednesday, November 13.
Rain blown off. Much better today. Wind very strong from east and
particularly cold, so much so that I can keep my coat on and not feel
inconvenienced by it; whereas before one's shirt was sufficient. Wind
chopped round in the evening to south, pretty strong.
Thursday, November 14.
Getting quite well again but knee quite stiff and painful. Very cold
during the night and at daylight quite ready for a topcoat. Wind strong
from east; moderated at noon and got warm. It is quite a pleasure to see
how well the bullocks are freshening; some indeed fit to kill; they don't
seem to suffer so much from the flies as the horses or camels. Two of the
latter (the Melbourne ones) had their backs slightly bruised and,
although constantly attended to, take a very long time to recover.
Friday, November 15.
Wind east at daylight. Thermometer stood at 54 degrees; this is lower
than I thought it would have been and the morning is not anything like so
cold as yesterday morning. I will notice the temperature during the rest
of our stay here. At five in the afternoon it stood at 100 degrees.
Bullingani and his two lubras came to the camp accompanied by another
native of Lake Perrigundi.
Saturday, November 16.
Wind east at daylight; thermometer, 63 degrees; breeze very moderate; at
noon died away to a calm. At 2 p.m. thermometer in sun 140 degrees; at 6
p.m. 106 degrees in the sun. Some natives opposite fishing in the lake;
one here busy making a net from the rushy grass that abounds round the
lake. At sunset quite a calm.
Sunday, November 17.
Quite a calm at daylight; temperature in open air 68 degrees; at 8 a.m.
slight breeze from north, thermometer in sun 118 degrees; at 10 a.m. 136
degrees; at noon 160 degrees with wind from north-west with a number of
thunder-looking clouds. At sunset temperature 97 degrees; still cloudy. A
further arrival of natives on opposite side of lake.
Monday, November 18.
At daylight calm; temperature 73 degrees in open air. At 10 a.m.
temperature 143 degrees in the sun out of the wind; wind from north to
north-west. A number of natives arrived this morning. At twenty minutes
to 11 a.m. temperature 154 degrees; at noon cool breeze temperature 146
degrees; at sunset light breeze from north-west, temperature 102 degrees.
Anxiously expecting the party under Mr. Hodgkinson.
Tuesday, November 19.
Wind north at daylight; temperature 77 degrees in open air; up till noon
blew strong. Temperature at noon in sun out of the breeze 136 degrees. At
sunset wind moderated; heavy clouds from south-east round by south-west
to north. At 9 p.m. temperature 96 degrees. At 12 blew a strong gale from
south-east accompanied by a very little rain. A good deal of lightning
and a little thunder from the southward of west, round west and north of
west and apparently raining.
Wednesday, November 20.
Wind working round from south of east to north of east. At 6 a.m.
temperature 84 degrees; very cloudy and threatens much for rain--perhaps
when the wind moderates we may have a fall. For the last few days
Middleton has been laid up with a very bad sore ulcerated throat but is
now nearly recovered. I am now quite recovered and anxiously awaiting the
return of Mr. Hodgkinson's party that I may be enabled to start for
Cooper's Creek by a route a little more to the southward than when I
tried when last out. At 1 p.m. wind fallen and changed to
west-north-west; temperature 98 degrees. Wind suddenly chopped round by
west to south from which quarter till dark it blew quite a gale, causing
the lake to recede about 600 yards further north. Highest temperature
during afternoon 105 degrees; at 7 p.m. 90 degrees. It looks exceedingly
like rain and very boisterous. Mr. Hodgkinson's party not yet arrived. At
midnight a few drops of rain with the high wind.
Thursday, November 21.
Quite a calm, the sky completely overcast; whether it will rain or not
remains to be seen. The water in the lake has returned to its old bed.
Temperature at daylight 85 degrees. From a long conversation I had with a
native yesterday, who came to the camp, I am led to believe that only one
of the whites was murdered at Lake Cadhibaerri at the time of the attack
upon them by the natives there. On the return of the party from the
north-west they repulsed the natives, killing some and wounding others;
the party buried their comrade and marched southward. The natives, on
seeing that the whites had proceeded onwards, immediately returned to the
scene of the disaster, dug up the body, cut off all the principal
muscular parts, and feasted upon their revolting repast. So minutely does
this native know all their movements that he has described to me all the
waters they passed and others at which they camped, and waters that they
remained at for some time, subsisting on a sort of vetch seed that the
natives principally use here for food, and obtained in large quantities
on many of the flooded flats by sweeping it into heaps, then winnowing
it, then grinding or pounding it between two stones, then mixing it with
water into the consistency of damper, and finally making a cake and
putting it into the ashes the same way as damper--when cooked and fit for
use it tastes rather strong, but no doubt they could live upon it for a
long time as it must be wholesome. That, with the game and fish they
could get from the waters of the creeks and lakes, would keep them alive
very well if they did not further attempt to make their way to the
Darling (which the native says they did) but I hope soon to see and trust
they have not attempted to do so. If they have not done so, and that they
are alive and escaped the natives, their relief is certain. One thing I
cannot arrive at is how long or how many moons it is since they were
attacked at Lake Cadhibaerri, as I then could form a much more accurate
idea of the truthfulness or otherwise of the native's statements; but it
must be some considerable time as the body I found was perfectly
decomposed, and on the skull even there was not a particle of skin, but
as bare as if it had lain in a grave for years. A slight shower this
afternoon, hardly sufficient to wet one's shirt. Temperature highest
during the day 104 degrees, very close and disagreeable; at sunset
temperature 88 degrees, heavy clouds all round, not a breath of wind.
Hodgkinson's party not yet arrived. If he does not come within the next
two days I shall feel very uneasy. Had a visit from about a score of
natives, some of them from the north-east, other two from the
west-north-west about the stony desert, as they describe an abundance of
stones in that quarter. Wind from south-east to south, during the night a
very little rain.
Friday, November 22.
Daylight quite cloudy and like rain. Temperature 82 degrees, wind
chopping all round; at noon south and north of west. Temperature 142
degrees and still a cool breeze blowing; sunset temperature 90 degrees,
wind southward and strong. No appearance of Hodgkinson and party. The
natives in a great stir here tonight about something--about a dozen of
them crossed the lake to us after dark, wishing to camp near for the
night; but as I did not approve of their movements in the evening
immediately sent them off again.
Saturday, November 23.
At daylight wind strong from the east; temperature 80 degrees, at 5.30
a.m. blew quite a gale from south, the sky quite overcast and in every
other part of the country would make preparations for a heavy fall of
rain, but I have seen so much of this here that I don't expect rain till
I see it. Temperature noon 110 degrees, rain all blown past; at sunset
wind still strong from south; temperature 84 degrees. No appearance of
Hodgkinson's party. Natives assembling in great numbers on this
lake--distributed some beads, bracelets, and other trinkets amongst them,
at which they seemed much pleased.
Sunday, November 24.
Wind south-east beautifully cool; temperature at sunrise 63 degrees; at
noon in shade 84 degrees; at sunset wind south, temperature 76 degrees;
cloudy. Hodgkinson not arrived.
Monday, November 25.
At 1.30 a.m. temperature 62 degrees; at sunrise temperature 58 degrees,
wind east-south-east, beautifully cool; at noon temperature 106 degrees
in the sun and wind; at sundown 82 degrees, gentle breeze.
Tuesday, November 26.
Wind east, at sunrise temperature 63 degrees; at noon in the shade
temperature 79 degrees, very light breeze: temperature at 2.30 p.m. 110
degrees, wind west-north-west and cool; at sunset temperature 90 degrees,
calm. No appearance of the party from Blanchewater.
Wednesday, November 27.
Calm at sunrise, temperature 60 degrees; at 9 a.m. 116 degrees in the
sun; at 1 p.m. 118 degrees. Got the horses in the forenoon and went east
three and a half miles; first three-quarters of a mile over sandhills,
rest of the way over flooded ground to Goderannie Creek; not much water
now; then to Palcooraganny. At present this is the dry bed of a small
lake with plenty of dry clover and grasses in the dry bed. On the
north-east side of the lake is a well dug by the natives about ten to
eleven feet deep with about one foot of water at present in it and good.
I suppose a considerable quantity could be had if the hole were enlarged.
Close by there was an encampment of blacks, in all about a dozen, not the
same apparent well-fed fellows that frequent the lakes and main creeks.
From enquiry it appears that during the dry season this is the sort of
water they have to depend upon, and I think the wells are few and far
between. A high sandhill was some little distance off and to it I went;
from the top of which I had an extensive view. Could see nothing
northward and westward but a jumble of lower sandhills looking very
dreary without even a creek with its timber to break the monotony of the
view. From the top of the hill there was water at a distance of one and a
half to one and three-quarter miles. Depot about sixteen miles distant.
Goderannie Creek is deep, with abundance of fish of various sorts, and
drains all the creeks that fill our depot lake, and the creek to the west
of the lake over the sandhills. Started the blackfellows and whites to
dig a well close by the depot before I went away this morning. At eight
feet eight inches struck water (good). Will deepen it tomorrow and see
what supply would be likely to be had if necessity would require it.
Party not yet returned; feel quite uneasy about them but suppose they did
not get what they were sent for as soon as they expected.
Thursday, November 28.
At daylight wind strong from south-south-east, at sunrise temperature 63
degrees. Enlarging and deepening the well. Temperature at noon in the sun
and wind 106 degrees; at sunset 73 degrees. Finished the well, now being
nine feet six inches deep, three and a half feet broad and five feet
long. For the first four feet it was a mixture of light-coloured clay and
fine sand, next three and a half feet was a mixture of gypsum and blue
clay, next to bottom a little clay mixed with chiefly fine sand, then the
water seemed to come in from all quarters. Party not yet
arrived--exceedingly anxious about them.
Friday, November 29.
Wind south-south-east and cool at sunrise, temperature 54 degrees, being
much lower than we have had it except once. There is a depth of ten
inches of water in the well during twelve hours. At 7.30 a.m. two natives
arrived on opposite side of the lake, bringing the joyous tidings that
the party under charge of Mr. Hodgkinson had camped at a creek called
Keradinti about eight miles from this last night, so that I expect them
every hour--I was heartily glad to hear of them. At 9.30 a.m. Mr.
Hodgkinson and party arrived safe, for which I was truly thankful; I was
afraid something had happened to them from their apparent long absence. I
am sorry that the native Jack, that accompanied them from this, deserted
about the inner stations, having heard some idle report of something
having happened to the party here. Mr. Hodgkinson has brought back with
him nearly everything I required. By him I also received some Adelaide
papers in which were some Melbourne telegrams, one of which announced the
rescue by Mr. Howitt of one of Burke's party, King, so that I have been
deceived as to appearances at Lake Cadhibaerri respecting the different
colours of hair found. Still I am under the impression that when Burke's
diary is published that it will show of some affray with the natives
about that place, or they would not have acted towards us when there as
they did. By receipt of such intelligence, and that now the whole of the
unfortunate party are accounted for, it renders my journey to Cooper's
Creek, as I intended, useless for any purpose of relief. Had they on
their arrival from the north coast at Cooper's Creek depot only pushed
westward this length they could, with the greatest ease to themselves,
have made the Adelaide stations. I am quite surprised that they could not
get south by Strzelecki's Creek, being under the impression that
two-thirds of the water of Cooper's Creek was drained off by that
watercourse southward. My impression from observation here is that a very
great portion of the waters of Cooper's Creek is drained northwards from
this. Before leaving this it is my intention to push eastward some
distance to ascertain the character of the country, and on my return to
push westward for some distance to ascertain if the stony desert exists
so far southward as this; I will then proceed northward and examine the
waters reported by the natives to exist in that quarter, and ascertain if
they are likely to be of permanent use to South Australia. From them I
shall be entirely guided by the appearance of the country there as to my
future movements. I am now satisfied that water can be had by digging. By
the time I return from the east and westward the horses that have been
down to the settled districts will have so far recovered from their
fatigue, and be again able to proceed northward. At 5 p.m. depth of water
in the well fifteen and a half inches, the water very hard and clear,
quite the opposite of the lake, which is very soft and rather milky in
colour. Mr. Hodgkinson, since he has been absent, has had a severe attack
of illness brought on, I believe, by injury sustained from a pummelling
he received at Apoinga, near the Burra, from one of the camels, Siva, who
at that time was very unruly and inclined to be vicious. He has
repeatedly complained and even now is not at all the thing. I trust he
will thoroughly recover as he is a very energetic little fellow and the
want of his services would be a considerable loss to me on my coming
journey. Highest temperature during day 120 degrees.
Saturday, November 30.
Wind south-south-east. Temperature at sunrise 70 degrees; depth of water
in the well at 5 a.m. eighteen and a quarter inches. Temperature at noon
99 degrees in the sun and wind. Temperature at sunset 84 degrees; wind
west of south a little cloudy; so it was last night.
Sunday, December 1.
A little rain during the night but not enough to wet a sheet of paper. At
sunrise temperature 70 degrees, calm. At noon slight breeze southerly;
temperature 110 degrees. Found suspended the spring of one of Terry's
breech-loading rifles round the neck of a native; he describes the
remaining portions of the rifle out to the north-east, which will be
nearly in our north course. Highest temperature during the afternoon in
the sun 129 degrees; at sunset 99 degrees.
Monday, December 2.
Wind south-south-east, temperature at sunrise 77 degrees; sky completely
overcast. Start out eastward to examine the country with two camels, five
horses, and sufficient food for one and a half weeks, taking with me
Middleton, Poole, Frank (a native), and a native of this place. My main
object in going out now is firstly to ascertain if there is a likelihood
of a flood down Cooper's Creek this season, after all the rain that has
fallen along the eastern side of the continent some months back, and
which I thought possible might have fallen as well on and to west of
coast range, so to secure to us an open retreat in the event of our being
able to make some considerable advance northward, and being detained some
time. And secondly to ascertain if anyone was as yet stationed on
Cooper's Creek, to intimate to them my intentions of proceeding northward
for some distance, and the almost certainty of crossing any track of
either of the search parties from the northern coast could possibly make
en route to Cooper's Creek or even Eyre's Creek. Started at 9.15 a.m.,
and passed through nothing but sandhill and flooded flat country till 3
p.m., and arrived at Tac Wilten Creek, containing little water but
drinkable. For the first few miles the sandhills were further apart with,
in the interval, salt-bush and grassy flats. Watered the horses and
camels; crossed the creek, passed up the south side; crossed a sandhill;
crossed the creek, went a short distance to north side of creek;
recrossed it and went up south side to water. This is a long narrow strip
of water, not deep and drying up fast. A number of natives here. Crossed
creek again and went to Aunrinnie; arrived at north-east end of water and
crossed creek at 4.30 p.m. Distance about twenty-five miles. The water
here although enough is quite unfit for use, the horses and camels
refusing it; but there is good green feed in the flat.
Tuesday, December 3.
Started at 8 a.m.; passed over sandhills till 8.43 and made large lake,
dry, Cullamun by name, destitute of vegetation and no margin of trees;
passed over sandhills and flooded flat to a creek very broad, deep, and
well defined by timber, and trending northward; not much water at
present, good here but unfit for use above and below, like that of last
night; creek called Agaboogana. Distance about eight miles. I went there
rather out of my course to water the camels, being the nearest in going
anything like the course I wished; passed sandhills through south end of
large dry lake at 11.22, and again sandhills; then through large flooded
swamp, Narrogoonnoo Mooku, with no marginal trees; southern end a good
deal of cane grass; then again sandhills till 12.46; then large cracked
flooded plain, Wandrabrinnannie, till arrived at a creek with no water;
crossed and rode up creek on south side to east of north to Barka Water,
no feed; got down into the bed of the creek and rode up about
three-quarters of a mile to a water called Moollaney, pretty good; no
great quantity and but little feed. Total distance about twenty-five
miles. A lot of stones of a fruit found here, of a very ornamental little
tree from six to fifteen feet high, which I have secured.
Wednesday, December 4.
At or rather before daylight Middleton, in attending to the camels,
unfortunately got his foot seriously injured by a considerable-sized
stick which was stuck in the ground; its end penetrating deeply into the
foot as he was returning to the camp down the steep bank. I am afraid I
will have to return with him; I have pulled out several ragged pieces of
wood from the wound; a lot of small tendons protrude. I will try one day
up the creek and see if he can stand it. Started at 9.40 leaving creek on
right; crossed small flooded flat to sandhill; then good low sandhills,
firm travelling; passed a water called Appomoremillia, about one and a
half miles to our right in the creek. Crossed creek in the centre of a
cracked flooded flat bearing to the north by west; passed over sandhills
and a heavy flooded cracked and timbered flat in which is a creek bearing
north-east with sandy hillocks and native wurlies. Bore south to creek
Goonnooboorroo with little water. Distance about sixteen miles today.
Middleton's foot pains him much.
Thursday, December 5.
Obliged to camp with Middleton. On a large gum tree marked MK (conjoined)
Dec. 4, 5, 1861. One large creek comes in here from the south; and
immediately below this about 100 yards another from same quarter.
Bronze-wing and crested pigeons here; also some beautiful parrots, black
ducks, teal, whistlers, painted widgeons, and wood-duck in small number;
also parakeets and quail. Some dry grass here on top of banks up to my
waist; further out there is some good tussocky grasses and there has been
plenty oats. Secured seeds from the bean tree and the stones of the fruit
before alluded to. Fish in water here, although there is only a small
quantity and drying up fast. In looking for the horses in the morning up
the main creek found, about three-quarters of a mile from this, where
Burke had camped in the bed and had dug for water. From the appearance of
their camp and quantity of camel dung he slept more than one night here.
I think when they camped there there was water both below and above; it
is now quite dry however. A small quantity of sewing twine was found at
Friday, December 6.
Middleton's foot a little easier; thought of returning as he is quite
unfit for work, but have made up my mind now to go on and ascertain the
facts I went out to obtain. I therefore started at 8.25 a.m. for the
upper waters of the creek, keeping on the south bank; crossed several
creeks until 12 o'clock, when we found in the camp, a little above
Pardulli, a gum tree marked W.J. Wills, N.N.W., xlv. yds., A.H. Turned
out our horses here for some time; between the last crossing of the creek
and this I got a view of a couple of red sand bluffs and distant
sandhills, or hills of some kind, to north-west. Started from Wills's
grave at 4.10 and crossed creek; struck the creek again at 5.35 with
plenty of water to Howitt's camp, xxxii.; thence on to Burke's grave,
striking dry creek and following it to Yarrowanda; arrived here at 7.10
Saturday, December 7.
Started at 7.7 a.m. and came to Burke's grave--about two miles on south
bank of creek. On the north-east side of a box tree, at upper end of
waterhole, native name Yaenimemgi, found marked on tree R.O'H.B.,
21-9-61., A.H. Deposited a document in case of the return of any party.
Saw a cobby horse on arrival here last night; tried to catch him. Saw the
tracks of cattle up the creek, short distance from him; they had gone
further up the creek to a water, Cullimuno. Spelled today.
Sunday, December 8.
Started back for camp; passed large numbers of natives; marked small gum
sapling MK roughly; made for heavy creek that joins another at
Strzelecki's Creek, and camped at a water called Tacdurrie, a small water
about two miles from Gooneborrow in the main creek. Distance travelled
today about twenty-seven and a half miles.
* * *
[COPY OF DOCUMENT LEFT AT COOPER'S CREEK, DATED 7TH DECEMBER, 1861.]
TO THE LEADER OF THE PARTY OUT FOR THE REMAINS OF THE LOST BURKE AND
WILLS, BUT MORE ESPECIALLY TO THE OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE DEPOT LIKELY
TO BE FORMED ON THIS CREEK.
I beg to state that I have had communication with Adelaide and have
received papers from there intimating the relief of King, the only
survivor of the Melbourne Gulf of Carpentaria party, and an announcement
that the Melbourne Government were likely to have the remains of the late
gentlemen removed from this creek to Melbourne, to receive a public
burial and monument to their memory, and at the same time stating their
intention of establishing a depot somewhere on this creek to await the
arrival of one or other of the parties (in search of the late Burke and
Wills) from Rockhampton, or the Albert, on the Gulf of Carpentaria.
I beg to state I am with my party stationed on a lake about eighty-five
miles westerly of this; and immediately on my return there I start
northward, and for the first part of my journey a little to east of
north, and will, at every suitable camp on my route, bury documents
conveying the intelligence meant to be conveyed to either of the parties,
by the depot party likely to be formed here, of the fate of the late
party; by which means they will be put in possession of the facts, and
can return to the Albert or go on through to Adelaide. There is at
present, and will be for some time to come, easy access to Adelaide by my
route, which the wheel tracks of my cart have clearly defined.
By this means of intimation to the parties in question it will relieve
the party to be stationed here from the necessity of passing a summer in
this hot region. My course will intersect any course either of the
parties out from the northward can make between Eyre's Creek and the late
Burke's depot on this creek.
I beg to remain, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
Leader of the S.A.B.R. Expedition.
* * *
Monday, December 9.
Started at 7.25 a.m.; followed creek down and passed Goonaboorroo
waterhole; passed flooded cracked flats and sandhills to Molanny Creek.
Distance travelled today seventeen miles.
Tuesday, December 10.
Started and crossed creek at 7.30 a.m., over sandhills, then through bed
of large dry lake or swamp; name of swamp Wando Binannie; a good deal
cracked and bad travelling. From thence through low sandhills, flooded
box flats, steep sandhills; crossed Narro Dhaerrie swamp; crossed creek
at east end of main water; this drying up fast. Crossed creek twice and
camped on south side of lower end of Tac Welter.
Wednesday, December 11.
Started at 6.30; crossed creek and flat; over sandhills and flooded flat
with large saltbush and polygonum; timber to the right and some samphire
bushes; crossed my old single track, with alternate sandhills and cracked
flooded flats, and arrived at our depot camp on Lake Buchanan at 11 a.m.
Distance about nineteen miles.
Thursday, December 12.
Remain in camp; temperature at sunrise 68 degrees; wind east; 11.30 a.m.,
temperature 165 degrees in the sun out of the wind; very hot indeed and
wind north-east; dead calm at 6 p.m.; temperature 100 degrees; sun
overcast; temperature at sunset thermometer exposed to sun and wind 90
Friday, December 13.
Dead calm at sunrise; temperature 64 degrees; at 7 a.m. wind north-east
temperature 102 degrees; at 9.15 wind north temperature 150 degrees in
the sun and out of the wind; at 10.30 temperature 158 degrees; at noon
hot; wind west; temperature 138 degrees; sunset light breeze from
south-west; temperature 95 degrees.
Saturday, December 14.
Started at 7.45 a.m.; crossed sandhills and timbered flat and creek
running north about 200 yards wide; passed end of very stunted box-tree
flat running parallel to our course and camped on creek with little
Sunday, December 15.
Started at 8.8 a.m.; passed through long dry grass with scrubby box; then
flooded box flats to Paul Cooroogannie and reached depot at 6.5 p.m. It
blew quite a gale of wind during the day from south-south-west with dust
and a few drops of rain.
Monday, December 16.
Wind changed to east (strong); temperature at 7 a.m. 65 degrees; wind
moderated during the day. Making ready to start tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 17.
Deposited memos to Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands and finders of
deposits under a tree here marked MK (conjoined) from Oct. 20 to Dec. 17,
1861. Dig arrow at 1 o'clock. Bullock dray started at 8.30 a.m., eight
bullocks in team and three loose; crossed north end of swamp; then small
sandhills; then creek or watercourse cutting my course at rightangles;
passed south end of considerable-sized flooded flat, connected by
last-named watercourse. Pole of cart just broken. Left cart and proceeded
with some of party to Goonyanie Creek. Great difficulty in getting a
suitable stick for the pole; sent Mr. Hodgkinson and Palmer with the
bullocks back to our late camp on Coodygodyannie to get a pole there if
possible; left bullocks there for the night. They returned unsuccessful.
Hunted Goonyanie Creek up and down myself with but indifferent result,
but must cut one such as is to be found and make shift with it till a
better can be procured. A great number of natives here; the creek
northward ceases one quarter mile from this and loses itself on a
polygonum plain--no doubt forms again. South of this it continues for
about one and a half to two miles and is lost on flooded flat. There
appears to be a great quantity of fish here; some very fine ones being
caught this afternoon, one of which must have weighed from four to five
pounds (a perch). Although the water here is very much reduced since I
was here about the middle of October the water in two holes is yet pretty
deep; no great quantity of grass here.
Wednesday, December 18.
Natives walking about greater part of last night. Two of them came into
camp, one of whom was known and allowed to remain; the other (a stranger)
was started at once. At their camp, which was about one hundred yards
off, they kicked up a great row for a long time. Started Mr. Hodgkinson
with Palmer and a native to Lake Coodygodyannie for the bullocks, and
Davis and Wylde out to the broken cart (about three miles off) with
water, on two camels, for the party left in charge of it, namely Kirby
and Maitland, today increased by Wylde on account of so many natives. The
bullocks duly arrived during the day, having gone back to the old camp.
Immediately proceeded to cut such a pole as was to be had here, and took
it out to the dray to be got in readiness to suit as well as possible the
purpose required, and returned to camp with the bullocks.
Thursday, December 19.
During the night a native dog came up to the sheepfold and was shot by
Frank (a native). The natives, encamped a short distance from here,
hearing the report of the gun, immediately took to flight and with them
the native Bullingani who was of so much use to me; however another is
easily got. Some of them returned in the morning. Temperature during
afternoon in sun 145 degrees. Was unable to get dray ready early enough
to go a stage, but brought it in here in the afternoon, ready for an
early start tomorrow morning.
Friday, December 20.
Marked a tree on north bank MK (conjoined), Dec. 17, 18, 19, 1861.
Temperature at sunrise 78 degrees. Sky completely overcast. Found Frank
asleep on duty and reprimanded him, when he became saucy and sulky and
determined to return to settled districts. Settled with him to date. He
was twelve weeks with us and received an order for 6 pounds, being the
amount due to him at the rate of ten shillings per week. Started and
passed through flats till we came to a creek where we stopped for a short
time; crossed creek to the margin of a lake bed containing some water.
Went north some distance to get round the lake to where the creek is dry.
This creek fills this lake--Goonaidrangannie. Camped on north-east end at
1 p.m. There are a great number of natives here; the water appears very
deep. Mr. Hodgkinson swam out about 300 yards with a plumb-line and found
the depth 10 1/4 feet; but further south and east it is much deeper. This
lake must be at times a great rendezvous for natives in extreme drought.
One of our best working bullocks, before he came ten miles, was killed by
the heat although, after getting to camp at 1 p.m., the thermometer was
tried and the greatest heat arrived at was 144 degrees. I was not aware
that the bullock was dead until the arrival of the cart later in the
afternoon. The driver, seeing he was much exhausted, had him and the one
and the one yoked with him turned out of the team, and went on a short
distance and sent back for them, however, shortly after, when the animal
was found quite dead--consequently we were unable to secure any of him
for food as it would not keep; but at daylight in the morning I will send
for his hide as it will be much needed. He will be a serious loss to us
out in such a country where we require a spare bullock to spell another
occasionally. A good deal of thunder and great indications for rain, but
blows off with only a few drops; quite a hot wind and altogether has been
a very disagreeable day. Wind from north.
Saturday, December 21.
Started three men out to skin the bullock and bring in the hide. Wind
south; sky overcast but hardly expect rain. Tree marked MK (conjoined),
20-12-61 on south side. The men returned with the hide at 8.10 a.m. The
bullocks, after their distress of yesterday, were left unhobbled and have
strayed to some distance, not having come up yet at this hour--8.10 a.m.
Bullocks arrived, and we started at 10.20 a.m. Camels and horses started
at 12 o'clock. Came through some splendid feed to another lake containing
but very little water and that quite bitter. Start for Moolionboorrana at
3 p.m., and arrived there at 5.53 p.m. Distance about twelve and a half
miles; first half distance was flooded flats and sand-ridges. On our way
to Thoorabiengannie at four and a half miles made the bed of a dry lake,
Tiedhenpa, with splendid feed and park-like appearance of considerable
extent. The remaining part of the distance was alternate low sandy hills
and flooded narrow flats. Camels and horses arrived at Lake
Moolionboorrana camp on north-east side of creek at 3.30 p.m. Distance
about eleven miles. Exceedingly scant of timber. The cart and sheep not
having got to camp, started Bell and Wylde with three horses back to
ascertain the cause of detention, and take food for the men if they were
unable to bring the dray during the evening; but it became so dark that
they could not retrace the tracks of their horses. At 10 p.m. returned to
camp without having seen or heard anything of cart or sheep. Will start
off again at daylight. A number of natives round the lake. Innumerable
pelicans, and numbers of ducks, gulls, waders, cormorants, fish, and
pigeons, and abundance of green grass; but no shade or protection from
the extreme heat of the sun. Rain has fallen here some short time since,
small quantities being still in the claypans; and from the cloudy
appearance of the sky with thunder to the north I fancy it has fallen
heavily in that quarter.
Sunday, December 22.
At daylight sent Mr. Hodgkinson, Bell, and a native with four horses to
cart, to know cause of detention, etc. Unfortunately the thermometer got
broken yesterday which will prevent in future our ascertaining the
temperature of the interior, which is much to be regretted as no doubt it
would interest many. Wind south. Bullock cart got to camp at 8.20 a.m.
having had an upset. Nothing particularly wrong with it. Sheep all right.
Will spell today to recruit bullocks and men that were with them, all
having had to be on watch during the night as the natives were round and
about them the whole time--for what purpose they did not know. At 8.30
wind chopped round to north-north-east and very warm. This lake is
circular and almost without timber; but is a fine sheet of water and will
stand the weather well. There is a great deal of soda in it. It is about
two and a half to three miles long from north to south and about two
miles from east to west; the creek that supplies it (filling it from
north-west end) coming from north. The bullocks are so jaded with the
heat of the past two days and the heavy nature of the ground that they
have hardly left the water during the day without being driven; they even
went so far as to go out and lie down in it for hours.
Monday, December 23.
Wind north-north-east; sky very much overcast to southward and round by
west to north. Bullocks started at 7.40 a.m. I started with native at the
same time and reached the Creek Gadhungoonie, with a considerable
quantity of water and fully half a mile in length; but so thoroughly
bitter and salty that it was quite unfit for man or beast. Must now start
out to another creek some distance off (by report) although I meant to
give the bullocks a short day of it. Spelled till the camels came up and
started on to Abberanginnie Lake Creek, or rather I believe,
Watthiegurtie Creek, which is the creek that fills the lake--the latter
being now dry. Came over some seven and a half miles of country to
Watthiegurtie, which is also salt and bitter, and started then for
Caunboogonannie. At 2 p.m. passed in my way two salt lakes to the south
with salt-water in them, respectively named Anodhampa and Thoorpalinnie;
passed also to north a recently dried up lake named Gnooloomacannie, well
timbered round its shores, with abundance of grass all over it. Arrived
at this splendid lake (Caunboogonannie) at 3.55 p.m. Splendid water and
feed. This lake also is nearly circular and about two and a half to three
miles in diameter. This lake I have called Jeannie after a young lady
acquaintance--Miss Pile of Gawler. The cart could not get further than
the last bitter water we passed today. Immediately south of that is the
dry bed of Lake Uilgobarrannie, and immediately on the north-west side of
that lake is the dry bed of Lake Caunmarriegoteinnie. This little creek,
flowing nearly south, fills Abberingannie Lake, now nearly dry, and Lakes
Anodhampa and Thoorpalinnie--both at present with water but unfit for
use; plenty of good feed round all.
Tuesday, December 24.
At daylight sent Mr. Hodgkinson to the cart with a packhorse and two
canteens of water, and to point out a more firm place for the cart to
cross Watthiegurtie Creek than where we crossed the camels and horses, it
being very boggy. A vast number of natives here, and upon the whole about
the finest race I have seen in the colonies, and at present apparently
friendly. Any quantity of fish and hundreds of pelicans. This country is
fit for any description of stock and, with anything like a moderate
supply of rain, would be most excellent country; even as it is it is not
equalled to the southward as far as Kanyaka, Mr. Phillip's station near
Mount Brown. Mr. Hodgkinson found a better crossing for the cart a little
north, and it arrived here in safety at 12.30 p.m.--they found a little
drinkable water last night. Kirby, with the sheep, got astray today but
was soon picked up again and brought to camp about sunset by Wylde and
Wednesday, December 25.
Christmas Day; wind variable, principally from the south, but warm.
Natives were prowling in numbers about our camp late last night. I sent
up a rocket that exploded well and had the desired effect, causing a
general rush of the whole of the sable gentry towards their camp, which
latter in their fear did not check their mad career until they found
there was no pursuit; but today they again came up to our camp quite
unconcerned as if nothing had happened--better it should be so as no
doubt I shall find them of great use in pointing out the principal waters
within their knowledge. Spelling to recruit everybody and everything, and
hope to make a good start tomorrow morning. Had an excellent dinner of
roast mutton and plum pudding and did not envy anyone in the City of
Thursday, December 26.
MK (conjoined), Decr. 23, 24, 25. Dig. Arrow at 7 o'clock. Documents
deposited for relief party under tree marked as above. Wind strong
south-south-east. All the animals right this morning; started the
bullocks and sheep at 7.45, rounding the north end of lake--my course is
right through it bearing 89 degrees for Lake Dhalinnie. At two and a half
miles came to creek that falls into this one we are now encamped on; go
up it half a mile north-east to cross it; sent the cart round by the
creek to be on level ground whilst I go direct to Dhalinnie. At four and
a half miles clear the lake, and at three and a half miles further arrive
at the Lake Dhalinnie--a treeless lake, fully a mile from north to south
and little better than half a mile from east to west. Appam Barra from
this bears 4 degrees, Cannboogonanni camp 269 degrees. Started at 10.11
a.m. to meet the cart on a bearing of about 330 degrees to take them to
Appam Barra; meet the camp 10.30 and go on a bearing of 6 1/2 degrees for
Appam Barra at 10.40. After spelling ten minutes crossed creek at 11.53;
at 12.10 got to Appam Barra Creek, well filled with water, going
north-north-west from north-north-east, then round to south-south-east
and south, in the distance filling a few lakes in its course on coming
from the first quarter--a considerable number of natives here. Went on
the north-north-east course one and a quarter miles on bearing of 8
degrees; camped immediately beyond where a branch leaves the main creek
going southward--a good-sized creek about, at its junction, seventy yards
wide and fifteen feet deep; main creek about one hundred yards wide and
twenty to twenty-five feet deep; lots of mussels, crayfish, and fish of
all sorts. No great abundance of feed here nor is the country so good as
has been passed, having a very desert and sterile appearance with a
jumble of sandhills, flooded land, and a considerable quantity of
samphire bushes, large saltbush, polygonum, and other shrubs. The natives
(a fine body of men) whether from curiosity or otherwise, were with much
difficulty got away from the camp at night.
Friday, December 27.
Wind north-east; the animals went straying some considerable distance and
were late in being recovered (4.30 p.m.) having gone back to last camp,
therefore we did not get a start today. Half of the horses broke and lost
their hobbles; and the loss of chains is serious as they cannot be
Saturday, December 28.
Not a breath of wind at daylight. Distributed yesterday to natives
(fifty-three) necklaces, etc.; there was a considerable number more men
present in the morning but they had gone somewhere before the
distribution. They are a splendid lot of people and in most excellent
condition, much better than the appearance of the country here would
warrant. They appear friendly but were about during last night. A large
flight of galahs just passing. Gulls, pigeons, and ducks of all sorts
abound. It was my intention to have taken the cart round to examine the
lakes and creeks east and south of my present position; but as the
sandhills are rather large and steep I will do it with the camels and
horses, and merely today take the cart to a better place for camping
during the time I am engaged at this work, and more on the course I wish
to follow after this part of the work is finished. Marked tree at camp MK
(conjoined), 26, 27-12-61. Horses, bullocks, camels, sheep all right,
although dropped a lame ewe heavy in lamb last night which has not yet
been recovered. Started at 7.30 and went round northward one mile and
crossed creek at four miles; got to a pretty little lake Wattiwidulo.
Abundance of good feed and water; natives round the lake; but on going
about half mile to top of a small sandhill I then had opened to my view
an extensive basin of water forming part of the lake continuing far off
to south-west by south. A splendid sheet of water which I have named Lake
Hodgkinson after my second in command. Course today 338 degrees.
Immediately on arrival here was completely besieged by the natives, male
and female, young and old, for beads for necklaces which I distributed as
far as they went, but it has much reduced my supply and leaves but a
scanty remnant for the next lot we meet, as meet them we surely will in
such a country as this, affording them as it does such a supply of food.
I will proceed with a couple of camels and some horses to the eastward a
short distance to examine some lakes and creeks reported to be in that
quarter, and will leave the remainder of the party in camp here till my
return. The country travelled over today though a short distance was very
good--plenty of grass on the sandhills of a good sort. Although that
veteran explorer Sturt must have passed not far from this in his last
attempt to gain the centre of the continent he reported to have only
fallen in with, or had reason to believe, there were but few natives. How
the large body of people that is scattered all over this part could have
escaped him I cannot account for. Go where you will you will find them in
groups of fifties and hundreds, and often many more, and generally a
jolly lot of fellows and all in capital condition. As has been noticed by
former explorers the females in number amongst the children are much
greater than the males, but neither very numerous. Amongst the adults
(both sexes) they knock out the four front teeth of the upper jaw; but
there are others both male and female that are quite perfect, more here
than noticed anywhere else on the journey. Killed a sheep on arrival here
today to jerk for our coming journey to the east, but was so fat that the
small flock had to be examined for a poorer one for that purpose. That
does not speak badly of the part of the country we are now in.
Sunday, December 29.
Camp at Wattiwidulo, or Lake Hodgkinson. Just where we are encamped by it
it does not appear to be deep, but to the south and west I fancy there is
a good deal of water. Wind south-west and exceedingly hot and sultry. In
the afternoon an old man arrived here from our old depot and reported
that a party of whites had arrived at the late depot with a number of
horses and were on their way this course from the settled districts. What
faith to put in the report it is difficult to say. Ready to start east in
Monday, December 30.
Sky very much overcast and very sultry; wind from north-east. Started at
8.10 with two camels and five horses and a week's provisions. At four and
a half miles got to Appambarra, near old camp at the dray crossing. At
8.45 arrived at about one mile west of dry lake Toondowlowannie; centre
bearing of lake north and south, three miles, by a width east and west of
one and a half miles; well grassed. At ten and a quarter miles passed
south end of lake and travelled on flooded ground on west side of
Cariderro Creek, in which there is water, to where we cut the Cariderro
Creek, about sixteen miles, at a place in the creek where the large creek
branches off east and fills a large lake now dry; abundance of feed. Lake
called Marcourgannie and found water in creek--a short distance south,
from which quarter it appears to come--it is a splendid gum creek, from
eighty to one hundred yards wide and fifteen to twenty feet deep, and
flows a northward course. Started after spelling a time and went one and
a quarter miles on bearing of 239 degrees to Appadarannie, now a dry lake
with abundance of good feed in its bed; then went south by east eight
miles along the Cariderro Creek. It is a splendid one and well lined with
fine gumtrees, and as far as we went I may say was one continuous sheet
of water, and with not less than from 200 to 300 natives. I have named it
Browne Creek after W.H. Browne, Esquire. Many of the natives have
apparently quite white hair and beards; they were particularly anxious
that we should encamp with them; they were the first tribe that we fell
in with so fully armed, every man with a shield and a lot of boomerangs
and some with spears. I thought it better not to camp there as they had a
good deal of sneaking and concealing themselves from bush to bush, and
might have brought about a disturbance, which I did not desire. Took some
water in air bags and started out from the creek one and a quarter miles;
then on a bearing of 5 degrees for Appacalradillie lake, seven miles
fully. Crossed and camped on east corner of dry lake Marcourgannie, and
on the margin of the dry lake Merradaboodaboo; the bulk of this last lake
bearing north from this and splendidly grassed.
Tuesday, December 31.
Started at 6.30 a.m. to Appacalradillie lake, through side of Lake
Merradaboodaboo; passed several flooded flats proceeding east from
last-named dry lake--the first of which was an extensive one, passing on
our course from left round to the right and apparently round to south as
far as visible, then over alternate and indifferent flats and large
sandhills--a considerable deal of flooded land to the westward. At
fifteen miles arrived on top of a very prominent sandhill which I have
named Mount MacDonnell, from which hill opens out to our view two
beautiful lakes which, in honour of her Ladyship and His Excellency the
present Governor of South Australia, I have named respectively Lake
Blanche and Lake Sir Richard, separated by a small sandy rise through
which passes a small channel that connects them, and which I have named
New Year's Straits.
Wednesday, January 1, 1862.
Started at 6.45 round the first lake, Blanche (Lady MacDonnell) to where
the creek passes through a low sandhill and connects it with the other
lake, Sir Richard (His Excellency the Governor). The first-named of these
lakes is, where it was tried, between five and six feet deep and seven
and three-quarter miles in circumference, nearly circular, bare of
timber, and tens of thousands of pelicans on it, one solitary swan, with
innumerable other birds, gulls and ducks of various kinds (one new and
one dark brown large-winged), cormorants, avocats, white spoonbills,
crows, kites, pigeons and magpies of various kinds, and plenty of fish.
The other lake immediately adjoins and its south-east end is more to the
eastward than Lake Blanche, it is nearly circular and is six and
three-quarter miles in circumference, but when casually tried was not
quite five feet deep; pelicans, birds of kinds, fish, etc., as the other.
Between forty and fifty men (natives) came to meet us as we were passing
round the lakes at the creek, which they had all to swim and, from the
appearance of the camp some short distance off, there could not have been
less than about 150, all apparently friendly. Started from north-west end
of Lake Sir Richard and went along the course of the creek that fills
these lakes on a bearing of 305 degrees for ---- miles; then
south-south-west half a mile to a fine basin of water in the valley of
the creek, three-quarters of a mile wide and more than that in length,
and opening again and contracting alternately up to Lake Blanche which,
in honour of the veteran explorer, I have named Sturt's Ponds; abundance
of fish and fowls. From this point course 308 degrees up the creek for
four miles; at two miles a creek went off to the right through a flooded
flat, thence on a course varying from 224 to 239 degrees, principally
through what was recently a large lake--now a splendidly-grassed plain of
vast extent, and at the latter part a few small sandhills. Distance today
Thursday, January 2.
At camp and keeping the New Year instead of yesterday. It is quite a
treat to sit on the banks of this fine sheet of water and look at the
innumerable waterfowl on its surface chasing their prey.
Friday, January 3.
Heavy dew. Started out this morning with two camels and five horses to
examine some lakes and creeks to west and south of this position; I take
with me Mr. Hodgkinson, Middleton, Wylde, and native. On my return intend
moving camp to north and east to where I saw the creek bearing off to the
right or north-east from about two miles north-west of Sturt's Ponds;
which creek I am led to believe runs off into the interior by north on
the round by west and south, passing my old depot, Lake Buchanan. On
second thoughts I have moved camp to a better place on this lake, north,
on the opposite side, where there is better shade, and the glare of the
sun less injurious to the eyes of the party than here. Marked tree MK
(conjoined) from 28-12-61, to 3-1-62, and started to examine the lakes
reported to be south and west. At six miles arrived on opposite side of
where we camped for the last few days, and estimate its circumference at
fifteen to sixteen miles, its greatest breadth two miles, its least about
600 yards--at a promontory that runs into it from the south-east side. A
large creek fills it from south-east, about two and a half to three miles
west-south-west from our New Year camp which I have named Hayward, after
Frederick Hayward, Esquire, of Aroona, South Australia--a deep swimmable
creek, well timbered, plenty of fish and fowls--then went southward to
Lake Wattygaroony, a fine deep lake which is named Lake Strangways after
the Honourable the Commissioner of Crown Lands. The creek that fills it
from the south and east I have called the Alfred. The lake is quite nine
miles in circumference; scant of timber; from the creek round south-west
end and side; abundance of feed, etc., from north side of lake and one
mile north-westerly of clearing it; our new camp on Lake Hodgkinson bears
71 degrees. About eight miles; returned to camp same day.
Saturday, January 4.
Camp, Lake Hodgkinson. Shoeing horses, repairing pack-bags, etc.
Sunday, January 5.
I, with Poole and a black, went out north to see what the country was
like. On bearing 360 degrees over sandhills arrived at and found lake
dry; four and a half miles of stones around it, same as in stony desert;
went through the middle of it, it sweeps round from north-east to
south-west; passed through it where it was two miles broad, it is fed
from Lake Goonalcarae (now dry); the lake passed through has not had a
supply of water for years apparently; lots of dead mussels and crayfish
in its bed. At two and a half miles further (nine miles in all) over
sandhills, changed course to 16 degrees for a large sandhill in the
distance, the country to the north being rather low. At two and a half
miles on this course came upon a succession of flooded basins, some of
great extent, Gnatowullie, and slightly lined with stunted box, some as
high up the sides of the sandhills as forty-five to fifty feet, entirely
supplied by the rains but have not had a supply for some time, as there
was neither water nor vegetation; which flooded basins continued till I
went nine miles on this last course and from the top of the hill could
distinctly see the beds of innumerable others of the same kind. From west
round to north-east and east some dark-peaked sandhills, north-east of
last course, as far as I could discern with the aid of a glass; turned
back on course of 200 degrees to where I saw some shady box trees about
two and a half miles, and turned out horses to rest and went to camp
direct. On bearing of 187 degrees at five and a half miles came to the
watercourse that supplies the dry lake Marroboothana from Goonalcarae,
which I have named the Ellar, and the creek that fills it, in which there
is at present water, Ellar's Creek.
Monday, January 6.
Marked tree MK (conjoined), from 3 to 6-62, Dig arrow at 7 o'clock, and
deposited a document in tin envelope for the search parties from the
north coast. Started at 6.30 with the bullock-cart, the horses and camels
following, for Lakes Lady Blanche and Sir Richard, for the purpose of
following the creek I observed when there the other day, and which the
natives inform me goes northward, then westward and southward, through
the stony desert. Arrived about 3.30 by rather a circuitous route to the
northward of our proper course, but was guided that way to avoid many
heavy sandhills. Distance between twenty-two and twenty-three miles.
Tuesday, January 7.
At Lake Blanche; went out north with Mr. Hodgkinson and native to examine
the creek alluded to, but to my disappointment found that it only formed
a large valley and, at some distance on a dry lake, Millie Millie, to the
eastward of Lake Sir Richard, over some high sandhills; returned very
much chagrined and have made up my mind to stay here a short time,
although very poor shelter from the excessive heat of the sun (today even
it blows as if from a furnace) and endeavour with the camels to ascertain
the description of country first to the east, and probably also from
here, if the camels will stand it, to the north; from the appearance of
the country about here I do not expect any water at least for some
distance; the land low, hills between the two lakes and running northward
for some five or six miles have just the appearance of dirty drift snow
heaps with heath bushes protruding; whereas those round to north-east,
east, south, and south-east are a glaring red, with coarse grass and
shrubs. Shortly after my return today a number of natives got the
bullocks on the east side of the creek New Year Straits, about two and a
half miles from camp and raced them round Lake Blanche from us in sight;