Part 2 out of 4
on seeing which five of the party got mounted and armed and went after
them; they had taken the bullocks two-thirds of the way round the lake
and by some means they broke back from them; they did their best to
overtake and turn them again for about two or three miles; when they
observed the horsemen they immediately took to flight, and where shelter
was so abundant, of course, were immediately out of reach and sight of
the horsemen. What their intentions were was difficult to say but it
looked rather suspicious; took the bullocks to camp late and hobbled most
of them. The evening before leaving Lake Hodgkinson, about 8.30 p.m.,
they took both horses and bullocks and raced them round from us for about
three miles but were pursued on foot by three of the party who succeeded
in getting all the bullocks and horses after having broken three-fourths
of their chains, and were in a very excited state, nor could the horses
be quieted for more than two hours afterwards, but the wary savage was
nowhere to be seen.
Wednesday, January 8.
Moved camp about three-quarters of a mile to a little wood and camped.
Fearfully hot, wind east-north-east.
Thursday, January 9.
Camp, Lake Blanche, between the two lakes, where one would imagine the
breeze from such a body of water would render the air cool, but the heat
is almost intolerable. Wind from east-north-east to east-south-east blew
quite a gale in the night, levelling tents, etc., to the earth,
accompanied with a good deal of thunder and lightning and slight spitting
of rain for a few minutes, when it ceased. The gale kept on for two and a
half hours and gradually died away.
Friday, January 10.
Camp, Lake Blanche. One would suppose that after so much thunder and
lightning the air would be more pure and cool, but nothing of the kind
was apparent, nothing but intense heat, prostrating all the animals.
Horses and sheep taking refuge from the intense rays of the sun round and
under such bushes or trees they could get till the cool of the evening.
Wind light easterly. I sincerely wish we had a change of the weather,
warmer it cannot get, so that the change must be for the better, and
enable us to be doing something. This is far from the most agreeable
position for a camp for, although we have any quantity of water, we have
no shade, and the glare reflected from the low light-coloured sandhills
and flats is very trying to the eyes; even the natives who are a numerous
body here (150 to 200) scarcely stir out, except morning and evening for
fishing, fish being their chief sustenance with addo, Burke's nardoo.
Saturday, January 11.
Sun rose red as a ball of fire. We had a magnificent sunset last night;
wind chopping all round the compass; intense heat; fleecy clouds.
Sunday, January 12.
Camp, Lake Blanche. Before daylight a considerable deal of thunder and
lightning. Squally but passed off without any rain. Cloudy during the
day. Wind from all quarters, heat intense, and sultry towards evening,
threatened much for rain; wind from east to north-east, accompanied with
thunder and lightning. I sincerely trust that we may have a good fall of
it, if it comes at all. Rain all blew past and wind chopping in all
Monday, January 13.
Wind from all quarters but rather more cool than for the last few days.
If nothing particular occurs before tomorrow morning will make a start
out eastward for fifty or sixty miles to see what sort of country it is,
and if there is any main creek running north up through it. It is very
calm towards evening with heavy clouds all round the horizon.
Tuesday, January 14.
Eastward today over undulations, sandhills, claypans, and flats for
nineteen miles till we reached a very prominent high hill which I have
called Mount Wylde. A considerable range is visible to east and south of
east. Went on for seven miles further over sand ridges covered with
spinifex, successive box-covered flooded flats, formed by heavy rains,
through which were innumerable small creeks no doubt in heavy rains
forming source or tributaries to Cooper's Creek. Took the horses out this
morning to make the work lighter for the camels on the march. Sent the
horses back again this afternoon; gave the camels from three to four
gallons of water each--they appeared as if they could have drunk all that
we possessed. Distance travelled today about twenty-six miles. East in
the far distance I can trace the continuance of the range.
Wednesday, January 15.
Every appearance of a hot day. Followed over hard sand undulations,
well-grassed with some little spinifex intermixed, with a creek on our
left, and crossed it at eight miles going south-east then apparently
south--gum and box on creek and a sandy bed. We then passed over some
good grassed country with stony flats and latterly a stony sandhill, the
ascent difficult for the camels on account of the sharp stones for ten
miles; distance making in all eighteen miles. Low hills about six or
seven miles ahead running north and south; nothing very marked about
them. The heat fearful; camels not doing so well as I could wish so will
give them all the water that is to spare and proceed towards camp this
evening in the cool--they won't feed nor stay without constant watching.
Started back at 8.30 p.m. Went first to the south of west to avoid a
stony hill by going round a valley then went on for about fifteen miles.
Thursday, January 16.
Started at 6 a.m., then bore for Mount Wylde. The greater portion of last
night's and today's journey was over spinifex country. Passed immediately
after starting a couple of creeks, drainage to the north--whether they
continued that course and gradually swerved to the east and joined a
larger one under the main range to east and formed one and passed on to
the southward to Cooper's Creek, or formed rainwater lakes (vast numbers
of them here and well timbered and often visited by natives) I cannot
pretend to say. From Mount Wylde came in on the lakes on our outward
track and arrived at camp at 2 p.m. Found some of the party, namely Bell,
Davis, and Maitland, laid up with dysentery, the former seriously. Have
made up my mind to leave this after one day's spell for the camels and go
back to different water, as this must contain some medicinal properties
that I am ignorant of, and affects all of us more or less; no doubt the
weather has a good deal to do with it--the heat is fearful.
Friday, January 17.
Wind east by north. If nothing particular occurs will start from this in
the morning as I see nothing can be done here but going north for some
distance, and that I can do from where I proceed tomorrow as well as from
here, and with better water for the party. Excessively hot and sultry
today and very cloudy. We have more or less lightning every day or night
and it appears occasionally to be raining all round us but never gives us
a benefit. Blew strong from south-east all night. Marked tree MK
(conjoined), fm. 6 to 18-1-62.
Saturday, January 18.
Wind from south-east. Bell very little improved, the rest much better.
Bullocks up and yoked before sunrise. It appears to be gathering all
round for rain but as usual I suppose will pass off without our being
favoured with any. The natives lately have hardly ever visited the camp;
I suppose their curiosity was satiated after the first few days, and when
they found they could not drive off the animals without being heard or
observed, and the probable consequences, they thought proper to keep
aloof. Start this morning for Goonalcarae Creek, or Ellar's Creek, where
there is abundance of fine feed, water, and protection from the excessive
heat of the sun. Bullocks start at 7 a.m.; passed on our right the
recently-dried bed of a very nice lake, and so deceptive was it from its
appearance some distance off that even the natives insisted that there
was still water in it, but there was not any. The lake I have called
Deception--it is a nice lake and retains water for a very long time. I
pushed on through the flooded and well-grassed bed of Goonalcarae, or
Ellar's Swamp. First went on a westerly course then on a southerly to the
creek, but did not admire the water which was neither abundant nor sweet,
although there were innumerable birds and some natives there. Went on to
Lake Hodgkinson and was astonished to find it so much dried up in only
twelve days, that being the time since we left it, and the water now
quite bitter; then went on to Hayward's Creek that fills Lake Hodgkinson,
and there found abundance of everything that we required--feed, water,
wood, and shelter from the broiling sun. The dray did not get this length
but camped on east end of lake, and obtaining for their use water, by
digging, at four feet from the surface, good and clear; the cart will
come on here in the morning and I shall remain here till there is a
change in the weather as it is fearfully trying; there has been a shower
on our course since we passed on our way to Lakes Blanche and Sir
Richard, but nothing of any consequence. The horses were more done up
today than I have yet seen them from the oppressive heat.
Sunday, January 19.
Dray came in about noon; a considerable number of natives here on creek.
Monday, January 20.
Camp, Hayward's Creek; wind very strong from north-east to south-east.
Tuesday, January 21.
Camp, Hayward's Creek; wind chopping all round; heavy rain apparently to
the north and north-east, but little of it came this way; gave the native
who has been with us so long an old ewe to distribute amongst his
Wednesday, January 22.
At daylight a Scotch mist from south; by 7 a.m. it came on a steady rain
and lasted till 8.15 a.m., when it cleared off, still appearing to rain
to north-east and west of this. Clear to the south with the wind from
latter quarter; during remainder of the day weather cleared up in all
quarters with a south wind, although a good many clouds are flying about.
Went round the lake to see what quantity of water was likely to be in the
claypans where it fell the heaviest yesterday; there is not so much as I
expected but still I will start out north tomorrow to ascertain the
nature of the country and see if there be any watercourse in that
direction that may hereafter be of use to parties wishing to pass to the
north coast; but from what I saw to the east, and the country between
that and this, I have very little hope of anything of the kind, but
believe there is a creek to the westward of this that either comes from
or goes to a latitude beyond and east of Sturt's furthest.
Thursday, January 23.
Started out at 11.30 a.m.; got to the top of a sandhill on north side of
Lake Hodgkinson about six miles from camp; camp bearing about 175
degrees; passed (dry) Lake Marraboothana; then through flats and basins,
a large one cutting our course. Changed course and came to a dry creek
called Pantyhwurladgie; then on a bearing of 284 degrees over stony
desert for a large sandhill; a little water back about two miles from
whence we shall have to send for it amongst the stones. Total distance
travelled about thirty-three miles; to the north-east and south all
stones, but sandhills bound the two latter quarters; beyond the
termination of large sandhill there is nothing visible. To the west is a
succession of sandhills running north and south, and terminating in
desert and stony plains. Round to 348 degrees; in the distance are to be
seen some terminations of inconsiderable sandhills.
Friday, January 24.
The country being short of water I merely go out today to return
tomorrow; leaving here all the rations I intended for the journey
northward, which for the present I had abandoned with the intention at a
more suitable time to try it. Natives are with me but they declare it to
be all dry; but I cannot rely on their statements at all times. The
water, our supply for today, is about two miles off in the desert; our
journey being over a succession of very high sandhills and stony flooded
flats; skirting, for the first three-quarters of an hour, the desert to
this spot, with a large red-topped sandhill on our right which terminates
close by; have not seen a drop of water during the day and camp without
it. I return tomorrow early for the last water which will be nearly dried
up by the time I reach it. Distance travelled today twenty-four miles.
Tops of all the hills to north-east and east are very red, quite free
from vegetation on tops and some with spinifex on their sides. To north,
termination of sandhills with stony flats; north-west, unbroken horizon;
from west-north-west round towards south-west a sandhill in the distance;
altogether a dreary spot. A heavy-timbered creek comes in from south-west
into the desert and appears in the distance to have a tributary from
east-south-east; the timber ceases as it comes on to the open desert
plain between four and five miles from this. Quite an unbroken horizon to
the west of north-west for some distance. The sandhills that are in view
are small and detached.
Saturday, January 25.
Started back and got to water just in time to give the horses about half
as much as they could drink and a little for ourselves; rapid evaporation
has taken place since we left yesterday, for then there was enough for
100 horses, now there is not half enough for our eight; so must make for
one of the permanent waters south of this tomorrow; have to close-hobble
our horses and tie their heads down to them to prevent them straying too
far. Strong breeze from the southward.
Sunday, January 26.
Started at 7 a.m. for Coonhadie, a rainwater watering-place in desert,
but found it quite dry; start for camp, Hayward's Creek, and arrived at 1
p.m.; distance about twenty-nine and a quarter miles direct from place to
place, but we made it more, being obliged to go round to avoid sandhills
and rounding Lake Hodgkinson. The horses stood much in need of water and
seemed to enjoy it much, from quantity they drank and the time they took
about it. It was fortunate for us that the weather was cool for the
season of the year. Wind south and east; found all right at the camp and
the men that were ailing much improved. The water in the creek is
diminishing gradually, about three-quarters of an inch per day.
Monday, January 27.
Camp, Hayward's Creek. Wind easterly. Natives very much displeased at our
remaining here but until the weather suits my purpose better than it does
at present they must put up with it.
Tuesday, January 28.
Camp, Hayward's Creek. Wind east and south, very hot. Several of the
party still complaining, the cause of which is difficult to say as the
water in the creek appears good and there is plenty of it. The water in
the creek is between five and six miles long. There is a lake or swamp
rapidly drying up close by, from which there is a very disagreeable odour
when the wind is from that quarter; the ailing may proceed from the
malaria arising from that place; other waters in the immediate
neighbourhood drying up fast. Natives in a great state of excitement
today, wishing to inform me that the flood, or arimitha, was coming down
and that we must get out of this or we should be drowned (I only wish it
would come) stating that it had now reached as far as a place I know
well, so tomorrow will make it my business to ride over that length to
the south and east to Browne's Creek to ascertain the truth or otherwise
of this information.
Wednesday, January 29.
Wind north and east. Started with Middleton to ascertain if the flood is
really coming down or not; followed this creek round my way and was quite
astonished at the number of natives I saw--they must have been
considerably over three hundred--and I am satisfied that I did not see
them all as I did not go quite up to their camp; we had no conception
that there were any such numbers so close to us, a distance of only some
six or seven miles. There are myriads of fish of various kinds. There was
a camp close by till yesterday, within less than half a mile, but I never
saw more than one hundred in it at one time--averaging from forty to
sixty. They pass our camp with their nets to drag the creek between this
and the lake, and come back loaded with the denizens of the creek; they
are not at all liberal with them. I should be sorry to trust to their
hospitality or generosity as I think they possess but little of either of
those qualities. Arrived at Browne's Creek, at the place named by natives
for the arrival of the flood, but found their tale false--they saw me on
my way there and I suppose knew my errand--some of shallowest waters in
the upper holes of the creek had dried up since I saw them last but there
is abundance lower down.
Thursday, January 30.
Wind east. Camp, Hayward's Creek. Natives kept much aloof today, I
suppose in consequence of my finding their piece of gratuitous
information false. Self and all the party affected with griping and
vomiting with the exception of Middleton and Davis. Cannot make out the
cause; I wish it would rain that I could start through the desert out of
this and get on to the waters to north and west of this, and be doing
something, as this sort of life is worse than hard work on the
constitution. There is one thing, this detention here has enabled us to
have the backs of the working animals attended to better than we could
otherwise have done, and they are all on splendid feed, but the flies and
excessive heat of the sun is very much against the healing of any kind of
sores or wounds. I had occasion to bleed several of the horses and, from
the mere incision caused by the fleam, the necks of several swelled up
very much although every precaution was adopted.
Friday, January 31.
Started out to pick an easy track for the cart towards Moolianbrooana
Lake; found a pretty good one on to the old cart tracks which will do;
went then to ascertain how the waters were standing in Caunboogonannie,
or Lake Jeannie, and found that, although there was still a very
considerable quantity in the lake from the vast number of waterfowl upon
it, and perhaps other causes, it had acquired a disagreeable taste, and I
have no doubt that it will get quite unfit for use in a month or so if it
does not receive a fresh supply during that time. From a hole dug about
eighteen inches from the water's edge I had a drink and a pot of tea of
excellent water; lots of natives round and in the lake, although round
the margin I observed innumerable small fish (parrow) dead, washed in by
the wind and ripple of the lake. Our horses did not seem to admire the
water but that I am not astonished at.
Saturday, February 1.
Hayward's Creek. Wind east; party still ailing.
Sunday, February 2.
Camp, Hayward's Creek. Some of party better and some worse. Wind
Monday, February 3.
Camp, Hayward's Creek. Wind easterly; digging a well, in case the origin
of our sickness be caused by the water in the creek.
Tuesday, February 4.
Camp, Hayward's Creek. Wind north and gusty with hot puffs. Got the well
down about fifteen feet; the lower part, for about seven or eight feet,
chiefly through sand; abundance of water but salt to the taste and I
think unfit for use. Had it emptied out when it soon filled; the water
continues salt and lathers well with soap and can wash well; it cannot be
used by us although the natives don't despise it.
Wednesday, February 5.
Camp, Hayward's Creek. Wind from east and west of north during the
morning with hot gusts, very oppressive.
Thursday, February 6.
Camp, at Hayward's Creek. Wind north till late in the afternoon with some
thunder and lightning and a good many clouds; appears in the distance to
be raining in patches, but I have so often been deceived that I now take
less notice of appearances of that kind; late in the afternoon the wind
chopped round to south. Has been very hot and sultry all day. Intend in
the morning to send Mr. Hodgkinson and Middleton to Lake Goonaidringinnie
to ascertain for certain if that lake still contains abundance of water,
and good, as I think it does--and on the way to pass and examine Lake
Moolionboorana to see if it will suit as a stage to camp at on our
journey to Goonaidringinne, as it was not very deep when I was there last
and I have my doubts about it. The natives report a considerable quantity
of rain to have fallen to the east and towards north-east in the country
north of Lakes Blanche and MacDonnell or Appacalradillie. If so I wish it
had fallen when I was there that I might have been able to have examined
the country there thoroughly.
Friday, February 7.
Started Mr. Hodgkinson and Middleton to Lake Goonaidringinnie. Wind from
all points of compass with many clouds; weather disagreeable and sultry
during the day; rained steadily once or twice during the night with a
good deal of thunder and lightning in the distance; much rain must have
fallen to east and north of east as well as to the south.
Saturday, February 8.
Splendid rain and steady. Thundering all round with every appearance of a
considerable quantity of rain which will, I trust, come in such abundance
as to enable me to push to the north-west across the desert, as up to
this time I have been completely shut up, as it were, here for want of a
decent shower to enable me to do anything of service anywhere; and the
provisions gradually getting less although the ration is now as low as I
can well make it. I have reduced it first from 8 pounds of flour per man
per week to 7 pounds, then to 6 pounds, then to 4 1/2 pounds; sugar
reduced from 2 pounds per man per week to 1 1/2 pounds; and tea from 4
ounces to 3 ounces per man per week, with plenty of good mutton; but we
find the supply of flour very scanty at the 4 1/2 pounds. There has been
a good deal of loss in weight in the bags of flour, as much as 9 pounds
per 100 pounds; and a great portion of it had a most disagreeable taste
and flavour from some naphtha, or some such liquid, having been
carelessly allowed to be spilt over it on its way, I understand, from
Port Augusta to Blanchewater; and I attribute the whole of the illness of
the party to the use of the flour saturated as it is by this rascally
stuff. In the afternoon Mr. Hodgkinson and Middleton returned; they
report having seen a considerable quantity of rainwater about thirteen
miles this side of Lake Goonaidringinnie, and plenty of water in that
lake and good; also plenty of natives on its banks. Lake Moolionboorana
very much reduced and unfit for my purpose. Heavy rain all through the
night with heavy thunder and lightnings. I have now abandoned the idea of
going to Goonaidringinnie and will start towards Eyre's Creek, passing or
following, at some seventy miles from this, a large creek named by the
natives here Panbacra.
Sunday, February 9.
Still raining a little and the ground too soft to travel over but, if
much more does not fall, will start in the morning. The rain that has
fallen is quite a godsend, both to this party and to the natives who have
started off to the sandhills in all directions to obtain the lizards and
other animals that escape to the sandhills for protection from the
Monday, February 10.
Started the cart at 7.50 a.m., and horses and camels to start afterwards
for Wattiegoroonita. Passed over sandhills to top of a sandhill that
rounds the lake, and over alternate sandhills and bare flats for nine and
a half miles, passing at about six miles on the last course a small salt
lake; travelled on the north-east side of it as it was boggy. The lake is
called Warmagoladhailie. The ground very soft and heavy travelling.
Travelled along the sand ranges and over spinifex and stony flooded
flats, then over one small sandhill and stony desert. Camped at a few
bushes to boil the teakettle, there being not a blade of grass; but a few
saltbushes are near which the animals must do the best with for one
night. Astonishing the small quantity of water passed for the last eight
or nine miles. Distance travelled today twenty-four miles. The natives
are out here looking for the snakes and other small reptiles and animals
that live in the sandhills everywhere in this quarter whether hot or
cold, regardless of the want of water. This is a most dismal-looking
camp; there are a few isolated sandhills north and west of this. Cart and
sheep not up tonight.
Tuesday, February 11.
The cart did not arrive last night as above-mentioned for the reason that
one of the bullocks was taken with the staggers. They camped about two
and a half miles back and arrived here this morning at 5.45 a.m.; turned
the bullocks out for a time to get a drink and pick a few bushes, and
started again at 7.48. Travelled for nine miles over desert stony plains
and got to top of large sandhill. This hill is called Cannacannanthainya.
Some distance off another sandhill called Mallapoorponannie; and another
not quite so far called Cookorda. Another long leading sand range in the
distance called Goontyaerie, at the northern termination of which is at
present a dry creek known by the above name. There is a native well there
and another a little further west. To give the ailing bullock, as he is a
good one, a chance of recruiting, I have dipped down the sandhill and
camped at 11.35 a.m., and for another reason, it looks like rain. During
the afternoon several nice showers.
Wednesday, February 12.
Steady rain for about four hours last night and this morning breaks fine
and clear with a wind north. Plenty of water lying all over the desert.
Dray started at 7.40 a.m. and at six and three-quarter miles distant got
to Mallapoorponannie sand range, the southern end of which is called
Cookorda; about two miles off its northern end dwindles down to nothing
in the desert. To the northern end of Coontarie sand range a creek and
well by the same name; about twelve miles off a detached sand range in
the desert, at the north-west end of which are two waters named
respectively Dhooramoorco and Moongaara; also on north-east side of sand
range another water in creek called Caddryyerra, also a sand range about
four to five miles distant. There was a number of small detached
sandhills going round to the westward, then a perfect blank round to
Coontarie well. At about three to four miles struck the flooded flat from
the main creek I am now going to. At eleven and a half miles further came
to and crossed a deep creek crossing my course at rightangles. At two
miles further came to water in Daeragolie Creek, same creek that I
crossed before two miles from this; within this last two miles the whole
flat is cut up into innumerable channels most difficult to travel over, I
must therefore see and get a better road for the cart. Here there is not
a green blade of grass to be seen; there are some green shrubs in the bed
of the creek that the camels are fond of. I arrived at this camp at 2.5
p.m.; distance travelled today twenty-three and a half miles. This is an
immense creek, timbered on its bank with box, bean, and other trees, the
water is in detached holes but good and apparently plenty of fish and
ducks. No natives seen yet although their tracks are fresh; the natives
that are with me say a number of them have taken advantage of the rain
lately fallen and gone out to the sandhills on both sides of this creek.
By native report the creek flows just here south and east, but within two
miles from this it turns quite round by south-west and west, passing
Coontarie. Neither cart nor sheep arrived in camp tonight.
Thursday, February 13.
The cart on its way here this morning had an upset in one of the creeks
close by but fortunately little damage done. The road it appears to me
from this on our course is much better than we have come over, if so we
shall make good speed. I spell the remainder of today refreshing the
animals. This creek is about eighty to ninety yards wide, very
precipitous banks, and from fifty to sixty feet deep, with innumerable
small creeks. About 400 yards from this, above us, a large creek leaves
this one, heavily timbered and well-defined. Limestone crops out in many
places. It is from fifty to seventy yards wide and from fifteen to thirty
feet deep. It sweeps away to the west and south, close under some
sand-ridges that are close by. Wind from south and west, very sultry.
There has been a good deal of rain here lately (and from the appearance
of the country there has been none for some time previously). Nothing
green except in the bed of the creek and the trees. The whole country
looks as if it had been carefully ploughed, harrowed, and finally rolled,
the farmer having omitted the seed. Two natives came into our camp at
dark, apparently without any fear, and stayed with us for the night.
Friday, February 14.
Started at 8 a.m. On the west side of the creek Panbaera a large creek
leaves it at about 400 yards from camp, and the ground heavy, with
intense heat. I camped after a journey of fifteen and a half miles on
same side of creek, close to a deep waterhole in the creek. Name of creek
Toomathooganie. Immediately above the camp on opposite side of creek a
large red sandhill comes right on to creek called Manganhoonie, from the
top of which one gets an extensive view of such country as there is, the
creek in the distance, north, it filling the valley with its timber
bearing 340 degrees. On our way here today, about three miles from camp,
passed the remains of Burke's horse and saddle; they were recognised as
his by camel dung being about the camp. No marks on any of the trees
visible. Camel dung also close to our camp. Another of our best bullocks
was obliged to be left, having been struck down with the sun as the other
was a few days ago. Cart late in arrival at camp in consequence. One of
our natives took French leave immediately after getting to camp; the
other tried hard also but was too closely watched.
Saturday, February 15.
Started some hands back to see if the bullock was still alive, if so and
unable to travel, to kill him and have him jerked, and if dead to have
him skinned. They brought back word that he was still alive and might get
over it. Late getting ready to start owing to the uncertainty whether the
bullock was to be jerked or not. Bullocks started at 10.35 a.m., and if I
get feed must make a short day of it. If the road keeps as heavy as it
has done since coming to this creek I shall have to abandon the cart,
which for many reasons I shall regret. Wind north and disagreeable. Got
to camp at five miles bearing 337 degrees. The heat so oppressive
travelling completely out of the question. Will leave the cart and many
sundries here. Seized with a violent attack of dysentery. Our remaining
native quite broken-hearted at losing the other, shall be obliged to let
him go this afternoon; it is a pity as he would have been of much service
in giving me the names of the different waters and places which to
someone in future might be of much use. However I may get another if I
soon meet with other natives; but unfortunately at present, from the rain
that has lately fallen, they have principally left the creek and gone to
the sandhills. Their habitations are very numerous on the creek so they
must be pretty strong in number here. Lots of fish still in the holes;
appear to be multa multa principally. We got some from the two natives at
our first camp on the creek, and lots of mussel shells about their old
Sunday, February 16.
In camp, very ill.
Monday, February 17.
In camp, very ill; still getting the gear ready for tomorrow, if I am
able to start--pain slightly gone. Had the curiosity to weigh and found I
had lost fourteen pounds in three days from the violence of the attack;
when I left town I weighed fifteen stone eleven pounds, now I weigh
exactly twelve stone. Clear but excessively hot with occasionally a
little thunder and some showers this morning, and it looked as if we were
going to have it heavy but it passed off.
Tuesday, February 18.
With one thing and the other, and one of the bullocks absent, was late at
starting. Pain gone today but excessively weak. Started at 11.30, course
340 degrees; flooded box-cracked land for one mile. At seven and a half
miles further passing over bare mud plain destitute of any vegetation,
with a couple of sandhills and the main creek beyond them to the east. On
this distance half a mile off is the bed of a large creek flowing to the
south and west, no water at present in it. Close to this point one of our
best bullocks was struck dead with the heat of the sun walking leisurely
along carrying nothing; the rest of the party were much in advance and,
as it was such a fearfully hot day and not a drop of water near, nothing
could be done with the flesh of him unfortunately. At five miles further
came to a large deep creek flowing westward, no water in it. Up to this
point was to be seen in the distance westward apparent breaks in the
sandhills with box timber in each; and I have no doubt many of those
places form into large creeks by the terrific overflow of this main
creek. At one mile further on (340 degrees) crossing this creek on to top
of sandhill, changed course to 38 degrees, the creek from the sandhill
bearing considerably eastward. At two and a quarter miles over flooded
flats and at some rainwater where I afterwards camped; at two miles
further struck the creek but not a drop of water; searched up and down
for some distance but none to be found, so returned to the rainwater two
miles back from the creek, where fortunately there was sufficient for all
the animals. The flood here, when it does occur, fills the whole valley
between the sandhills on either side of the creek, and after such
occasions must appear a splendid country; but at present no country could
possibly look more desolate. This cannot possibly be Eyre's Creek as it
is much larger in the first place, and seems to bear away too much to the
east ever to be a continuation of Sturt's Eyre's Creek. Traces of Burke's
camels and horses are still to be seen on the creek; I fancy on his
return from the Gulf. I feel very ill this evening, hardly able to sit in
Wednesday, February 19.
Sent Mr. Hodgkinson and Middleton off up the creek to search for water,
and Middleton to return after travelling about eight miles if successful
in finding a supply to enable us to proceed further up the creek;
Hodgkinson to go further on and examine the creek and return in the
afternoon to where it was arranged we should camp. Middleton returned
about noon with the intelligence that about seven miles up there was
abundance of water in the creek for our immediate wants; so we started
late in the afternoon as the distance was short and the day fearfully
hot, bearing of 350 degrees for four and a half miles, the creek
appearing to bear too much east, change course to 360 degrees for two and
a quarter miles further, and it getting late changed course straight on
for the creek, bearing of 37 1/2 degrees for three-quarters of a mile,
where I struck the creek with a little salt water in its bed; down the
creek from this about half a mile is the water, and where we afterwards
camped but without knowing (in the absence of Middleton, who was seized
with a violent illness on the way here and did not get to the camp at all
during the night). I went up the creek for two and a half miles, found it
dry, and returned to water and camped.
Thursday, February 20.
Camp on east side of creek where the latter is upwards of 180 yards wide
and about 80 feet deep, western banks very inaccessible, the east bank
where we have camped less so with immense polygonum bushes. Very unwell
still; we were not aware of the cause of Middleton's detention with the
camels, on which was the food, till he and Davis made their appearance
after the morning had somewhat advanced, when they arrived and explained
the cause; Middleton was very ill indeed of dysentery and could scarcely
Friday, February 21.
In camp; I feel a little better, Middleton still very unwell; miserable
camp but can't help it.
Saturday, February 22.
Started Mr. Hodgkinson and Bell out on the west side of the creek to
examine ranges that appear stony in the distance, and ascertain if this
creek receives any tributary from the westward of north-north-west likely
to be Eyre's Creek, as there is no doubt this is not it, and return by
this creek to ascertain how the water lies in it. I am much better today
and Middleton appears to be on the change for the better; wind south with
a few clouds.
Sunday, February 23.
Middleton improving; I feel much better, so much so that, as there is a
cool breeze from the south, I am induced to ride out to the eastward to
examine the country between this and the stony hills visible from here on
the east side of the creek; went four and a half miles course 135
degrees, over flooded flats and a couple of sandhills, from top of the
highest sandhill changed course to 113 degrees for two and a quarter
miles to top of another larger sandhill, passing one other in my course,
then on bearing of 15 degrees for six and three-quarter miles over
flooded flats with a few smaller sandhills, but soon terminate on both
sides of my course; the current over this tract of flat being to the
south of east, then three-quarters of a mile on bearing of 15 degrees
over one sandhill to top of rocky hill, from which the flooded flat I
have just passed gathers together in the distance to a creek, and goes
off on course of 155 degrees, and no doubt is the feeder of the waters
now in the creek to south and east of our present camp namely
Barrawarkanya, Marroboolyooroo, Cadityrrie, Meincounyannie, and Gnappa
Muntra; then two and a quarter miles on bearing of 10 degrees to top of
sandy and stony hill, with four or five mallee trees and a few other
shrubs; marked one of the mallee trees. From this hill the creek passed
end of table-topped stone range on bearing from six to nine miles distant
north-west and round northward to east, peaks and hills of stone with
intervening flats, some of earth, others of stone, are visible as far as
eye can reach; from this hill our present camp bears about 227 1/2
degrees and distant about eleven and a half miles. In the evening Mr.
Hodgkinson and Bell returned having examined the hilly country, but could
find no tributary joining the creek; saw water up some distance that will
suit our purpose so far. I will in a day or two ride over to Eyre's Creek
and ascertain if either of the northern search parties have got there
yet, and deposit a memorandum for them there and see if a route be
practicable westward to Stuart's country now, or if I shall have to wait
for more rain: although we had such nice rain coming over the desert the
excessive heat has absorbed most of it, and you may travel a day without
seeing a drop; intend starting up the creek in the morning. Middleton
much better. Mr. Hodgkinson saw one native and his lubra up the creek but
had little conversation.
Monday, February 24.
Camped; the bullocks not found till too late to start. Mr. Hodgkinson
tendered his resignation as second in command which I accepted, and from
this date he holds no longer any position as officer in the party under
my guidance. Poole had a sun-stroke during the day whilst out after the
horses, but by cold application to the head he soon recovered.
Tuesday, February 25.
Rather late getting the animals ready for a start, the feed being so
scant; started on bearing of 40 degrees, on same side of creek as that on
which we were encamped, over flooded flats and sandy terminations: at
five and three-quarter miles passed along and crossed a large deep creek
in which there was a little water and a number of native wurlies. Course
of creek nearly north and south, at seven and a quarter miles further
over some abrupt sandhills, the summits of which had an almost
perpendicular wall of pure drift sand, varying from two and a half feet
to five feet in height and very difficult for the animals to get over,
and flooded flats on same bearing; then changed course to 34 degrees for
four and a half miles over similar country mixed with stone hills and
flats, the creek being a long way to the west but now gradually
approaching our course; then changed course to 14 degrees for one and
one-sixth of a mile to creek, where luckily we found sufficient water for
all purposes and in the bed of the creek a better supply of green grass
for the animals than they have had for some time. Cloudy, wind
north-east. The bullocks have not arrived tonight.
Wednesday, February 26.
Cloudy and threatening for rain; wind north-east. At 9.30 a.m. one of the
men from the bullocks arrived and informed me that one of the pack
bullocks had dropped and was killed to endeavour to make some use of his
flesh. This is the same that had the sunstroke first but was apparently
recovering; and another of our very best and generally quietest had that
day bucked so much in endeavouring to get rid of his saddle that he
disabled himself, fell down, and could not be got up; the remainder of
the bullocks went off to feed but there he was where he fell in the
morning beside his pack. Immediately on hearing of this disaster I
forwarded some hands and packhorses out to convey to camp what was
thought to be of any use. It has commenced raining and what little will
be got cannot, I am afraid, be cured, as there is every appearance of a
continuation of rain and there will be no chance of drying the flesh as
we have no salt. If it was fair weather I would kill at once the disabled
also, and have his flesh dried; but it would be no use at present and he
may be able to get up after a spell and come in this length when, if the
weather prove favourable, I will have him killed and jerked. The
remainder of the bullocks (seven) arrived during the day and the
detachment of the party with what was thought of use of the dead bullock;
but I question much about its keeping as now it is raining steadily, but
we will use as much of it as we can and save the sheep. None of our
journeys appear to give the sheep the slightest inconvenience and they
are as ready to commence their journey in the morning as the man that
attends to them; in fact no party ought ever to go out exploring in the
summer months without them. During the day I rode out to the tops of some
of the stony ranges to get a view of the upward course of the creek; it
seems to go off somewhere on a bearing of 50 degrees but I fancy will
soon turn more to the north. It is quite astonishing to see the patches
of beautiful green grass on the slopes of the stone hills in the small
watercourses that fall down their sides; in fact the only thing like feed
I have seen for some time, and what little there is, is in the bed of the
creeks. The creek here has an anabranch that leaves it about half a mile
above and joins again about half a mile below; width of island half a
Thursday, February 27.
Rained heavily and steadily all night from the east-north-east; the
ground at daylight a perfect bog. From the severity of the night some of
our sheep got adrift but were recovered during the day. The creek,
nine-tenths of which was yesterday dry, is now running a strong stream
and momentarily increasing. Got all the animals across to this side
during the forenoon as the rain appeared likely to continue; and now that
it has set in will most likely inundate all the low flats and completely
put a stop to further progress up the creek until the ground hardens a
little. At such times the only place of safety hereabouts are the
sandhills or stony hills; the latter I prefer, and will shift to one in
the event of the rain continuing another night as steadily as it did last
night as there, and there only, is there any feed to be had for our
animals. They have fallen off considerably of late from the hot weather
and the scantiness of good feed. As soon as they were taken over the
creek they were taken out to one of the stone-ridges and there left in
tolerable feed but not very abundant. The water is lying all over the
flat in sheets and the creek rising rapidly. It must have been a very
long time since this part of the country has been similarly visited with
rain, as the country generally, the flats principally, had not any
vegetation upon them of any useful kind. As I said before the stone
hills, or rather the small creeks on their slopes, are the only places
where there was any feed excepting in the bed of the creek, and now that
last supply was gone, as the creek by this afternoon was swimmable.
Friday, February 28.
Raining all night but not quite so heavily; still very considerably. Our
camp is like a stockyard in the southern districts much used in the wet
weather--over our boots in mud and water; although on some of the highest
ground just about here pounds of mud and rubbish adhere to your boots
every time you lift your feet. Creek considerably more swollen; and as
every place is so saturated with water and mud will not move out of this
till tomorrow morning. In the meantime, in hopes that it will clear up a
little and make the ground firm enough to bear the weight of the animals.
It is well we left the cart or we should not have been able to move it
from this, and every probability of its being carried away by the flood
now rapidly approaching. We are now in that position and not far from the
place where Captain Sturt dreaded being overtaken by rain. It is fearful
to travel over but must make the best of it. I am very glad indeed that
we have been favoured with such a copious supply; although for a short
time it may prevent my travelling it will be the means of enabling me to
move about afterwards as I may think fit. I wish I had a couple of
months' more rations of flour, tea, and sugar, as then I could thoroughly
examine the country in this quarter; as it is I will do the best I can.
If this creek carries me much more to the north instead of going to the
east as it now does I think it will take a run through to the Albert
River; and if the steam-sloop Victoria, Captain Norman, has not sailed
from there I think I will be able to get flour or biscuits in sufficient
quantity to carry me back, and enable me to do all, or nearly so, that
was required of me by the South Australian Government; if not at the
Albert I will only be obliged to live the principal part of the return
journey on animal food and what vegetables we may find from time to
time--it won't be a very hard case but much more pleasant and agreeable
if it can be obtained. It is very boisterous. Rain and wind from
east-south-east. The creek rising steadily; by the morning it will be
nearly or quite on a level with the way by which I shall have to travel
in the morning for the high ground. It has a current of about three miles
an hour, or similar to that of the Murray, for which reason I am led to
believe that its chief source is some considerable distance away,
although it receives innumerable tributaries on both sides above and
below where I now am. The rain as it falls upon these stone-clad hills
runs off at once into the small creeks, thence into larger ones on the
flat land, then into the main creek after filling the waterholes in their
respective courses. Towards evening it looks very dark and again
threatens much for a quantity of rain; if so by morning we shall have the
Saturday, March 1.
At first blush of dawn wind from same quarter (east-south-east). Rained
heavily all night and to my astonishment, instead of the creek rising as
usual (three and a half inches per hour) it was now rising five and a
half inches and hourly increasing. Although the creek has in many places
overflown its banks, and consequently a much broader channel, we are
completely surrounded with at least five feet of water in the shallowest
place that we can escape from this by. After a breakfast by daybreak the
animals are immediately sent for and, as the men start for them, drive
before them our sheep for more than half a mile through a strong current,
and swimming three-fourths of the time; they went over splendidly and
were left on a piece of dry land until our camels and horses came and
removed the stores etc., which fortunately they did with not very many of
the things getting wet. The camels being brought in and loaded and out to
where the sheep were first, I had two of them unloaded and sent back to
carry to the dry ground any of the perishable articles such as
ammunition, flour, tea, and sugar, which they brought in safety; for had
it been put on the horses as usual, and not being able to keep them on
our track, the probability is they would have to swim and completely
destroy the ammunition and injure the other stores; the camels acted
famously and from their great height were as good as if we had been
supplied with boats. After getting all onto dry land they were repacked
and went on to a very good camp, now that there is water, on a sandhill
about two and three-quarters to three miles distant in an east-south-east
direction through a good deal of water and almost impassable flats--the
sheep even sinking up to their bodies in the mud; however we got them all
over safely by early in the afternoon. Still showery and how long we
shall be weather-bound quite uncertain; however there is plenty of feed
for the animals here which is a great comfort, and what is more they are
in perfect safety, as well as we are ourselves, from the boisterous state
of the weather. Whilst on the creek in the morning, had there been much
difficulty in getting the animals, we should have had to hoist the things
up into trees, and constructed a raft of dead timber, and rafted them off
to dry land, which would have been a great deal of trouble. Squally
still; wind continues from same quarter. Towards evening a great portion
of the flat is being covered with water from the creek, beyond the creek
there is nothing visible but lines of trees, marking the course of the
lesser channels, and stone hills, all else is a perfect sea. We were very
fortunate to be caught in it where we were; had we been caught thus in
making this creek, or a day's stage up it, to a certainty we should all
have been washed away, or what would have been just as bad, be perched on
a small island of sand with all the animals round us and nothing but
starvation staring us in the face--as on most of the sand-rises down near
the creek there was no vegetation of any consequence upon them.
Sunday, March 2.
In camp; light showers occasionally. The side creeks from the hills
running themselves out and the upper parts drying; the line of creek
visible in the distance through the trees during all its course now in
view, and the flats considerably more covered. Thunder and lightning from
north to north-east.
Monday, March 3.
Wind east-south-east; as usual squally. On turning in last night it had
every appearance of rain and did rain steadily for some time but
gradually held up for the night, and appeared as if we were to have a dry
change to have all the things that got wet perfectly dry again. I shall
get all the horses shod here as, from the soft nature of the flats for
some time to come, they will be unfit to travel over the approaching
stony country. Intend searching for the bullock that fell down the other
day and ascertaining whether he is dead or alive; if alive to get him
brought on here; and if much disabled to have him killed and jerked as
soon as the weather clears and the sun shines out sufficiently for that
purpose. Found bullock within a quarter of a mile of where he was left,
able just to stand and no more; I will send out tomorrow afternoon and
have him killed where he is and his flesh brought in here the morning
following for the purpose of jerking it; he appears good beef. The
country boggy; in the afternoon rode down to the creek through a good
deal of water to ascertain the state of the flood, and had to swim some
distance to get to the main creek; when I got there I was glad to find
that not only had it, for the present, arrived at its height, but had
gone down nearly nine inches. The last time this country was flooded it
was about seven feet higher (perpendicularly) than it was this time, and
the sand and stone hills were flooded for several feet up their sides
from their base. Wind still from south-east by east, with an occasional
slight passing shower, but symptoms of clearing up. This country is
perfectly infested with wild dogs; and fortunately for us it is that I
happened to have some strychnine, it plays great havoc amongst them; so
voracious are they that when one of their fellows die the others fall to
and devour him; by this means many are destroyed. Middleton recovering
but very slowly; he continues to have a very troublesome
diarrhoea--aggravated no doubt by being obliged for the last few days to
be nearly always wet; sometimes even to swim clothes and all, and
remaining in that condition till the camp was brought here and fixed; I
should be sorry if anything were to happen to him as he is an invaluable
man in such a party as this.
Tuesday, March 4.
Wind a little more east; shod some of the horses yesterday and some this
morning. Four of the party after dinner started to kill the bullock; camp
there and return in the morning with the meat when cold. I with Poole
rode out to some high stone hills eastward to endeavour to get a view of
the creek and ascertain, if possible, from which quarter it principally
flows. After getting to top of the highest, from which one gets very
extensive view to the north-east, there was a slight haze that prevented
me positively ascertaining its actual course; there is very heavy timber
on a bearing of 35 degrees, and appears surrounded by hills. The haze was
so bad that I could not be certain; however I must travel in that
direction first and trust that it suddenly turns round to the north; from
this last point to a point 20 degrees west of north is a perfect sea,
nothing but isolated trees showing above the water; I found the ground
exceedingly soft, almost impassable in many places. On the tableland, at
the foot of the high stone-hills I ascended, are lines of creeks forming
the drainage of the country, thickly timbered with myall, and (for the
place) a considerable quantity of good grass; abundance of water lying on
the top of the tableland, with seagulls, ducks, cranes, etc., about and
on the basins; seven black swans passed over the camp in their flight on
bearing of 335 degrees, no doubt to some lake in that direction. Some few
days ago not a bird was to be seen scarcely, but a few kite, crows, and
galahs; now the whole country seems to be alive with ducks of various
kinds, macaws, corellas, cockatoo parrots, and innumerable small birds.
Wednesday, March 5.
Wind light from north-east and every appearance of a beautiful day; the
country beginning to have quite a green appearance, and the valleys being
covered with lilies in full bloom, birds singing and chirping all around
as if in spring. I am quite shut out for the present from Eyre's Creek;
so will not attempt it. At midday the party arrived with the meat of the
bullock and shortly after, when cutting it up for jerking, the head of
the axe accidentally flew off and inflicted a severe wound in the knee of
Maitland our cook; I hope it won't disable him long, although it is deep
and in a nasty place. Got all the meat jerked by evening and trust we may
have dry weather to have it properly preserved; lots of bones and scraps,
of which we shall make soup.
Thursday, March 6.
Wind more to the north and every appearance of a dry day; busy shoeing
the horses although they make a slow and sorry work of it.
Friday, March 7.
Wind changing all round except from the south and clouds gathering; with
lots of black macaws screeching out in all directions. I hope they are
not again the forerunners of a downpour, as they were of the last. The
meat appears to be drying nicely, and will have it taken up this evening.
It is very sultry.
Saturday, March 8.
Wind from west round to north and sultry with a good many fleecy clouds;
shall finish shoeing the horses today with the exception of one which
will require a couple of days' work first, being at present rather fresh
(a good fault) and if all is well will make a start on Monday morning.
The stony hills and slopes (that from every appearance, a few days ago,
from their thorough bronzed and desert appearance, one would suppose
grass never grew) are now being clothed in many places with a nice green
coating of grass, and shortly will give this part quite a lively
appearance, very different indeed from what it was when I first saw it,
then it was as desolate a looking spot as one could picture to himself.
In a couple or three months' time from this date one could with little
difficulty (I am almost certain) start with a herd of any description of
stock from the northern settled parts of South Australia and go right
across the continent to whatever point he might think fit by this route,
but I will know more about it shortly. This bullock gave us of dried meat
about 116 pounds, apparently well dried, besides what meat was used with
the bones to make soup. I hope it may keep well.
Sunday, March 9.
At Escape, or Number 7, Camp--will be all ready for a start in the
morning. Wind north-east.
Monday, March 10.
Wind north and east, fresh breeze. Bullocks rather refractory at being
packed, consequently late before we started. The journey today was over
stony hills and flats, crossing several small creeks from the more remote
hills, some running tributaries of Burke Creek for twelve and a half
miles, and for three and three-quarter miles further over similar
country, but more flat as we are now approaching the creek, and camped on
the outside of a flat with some water and a fair supply of feed. I was
here before the pack animals arrived but, after waiting for them a short
time, found that in some of the small watercourses the water seemed to be
driving, as I thought with the strength of the wind as is not unusual,
and took for the time no further notice; the horses came up first and
were unpacked, the camels were some time after and did not arrive until
after I had returned from a ride to the top of a hill further up the
creek, and at which place I went down to the water and to my astonishment
found that the whole valley was a perfect sea, rising fast; on my return
to where I had fixed the camp I found that the water had approached
rather too close to be comfortable, and on the arrival of the camels had
them unpacked some distance out on the top of a mound of stones and had
all the horse gear removed there also; the bullocks did not get to camp
till a little after sunset--one of them was so much trouble that I will
do without him rather than be pestered with him, and put his load on one
of the horses. The camels travelled over the stones with their loads
apparently quite unconcerned; they are undoubtedly the best of all
animals for this kind of work, they eat anything nearly, from the gumtree
down to the smallest herb, and then come and lie down beside you, whereas
horses and bullocks, if there be any lack of feed, will ramble all over
the country; with sheep and camels one could travel all over any
practicable part of the continent and keep them in condition.
Tuesday, March 11.
Where we had the packs removed from last night and all over the flats is
a perfect sea of water, and even up within less than a foot of where I
slept. From the creek having fallen not far from our last camp some days
since I was under the impression that I would find it considerably down
the further I advanced up its course; but now I find that the cause of
its fall then was purely local from the tributaries immediately about and
above having ceased with the rain to throw in a supply to keep it up. It
now shows me that this creek must come from some very considerable
distance; and I trust it may turn out to come from the north instead of
too much east. It appears from where I was last night to incline towards
the north. Wind from east-south-east. Started for a gap in the range over
top of a stony range to a creek. High table-top ranges in the distance,
north and south of 64 degrees; then to top of red sandhill; then for
three and three-quarter miles to top of sandhill over flat stony plains
with plenty of water and feed. From this point a perfect sea is before
me. Came to camp on Myall Creek after passing two table-topped hills on
left and a peak and table-topped hill on right; beyond the camp plenty of
feed and water. Today passed a native camp, the fire still burning, and
their tracks quite fresh; but did not see them. One of the bullocks did
not arrive in camp; he knocked up and charged the men and they were
consequently obliged to leave him. He was pulled about a good deal the
day before in packing him so would be no use to kill him, besides I could
not carry him at present; he may come up during the night, if so he may
perhaps drive loose and will kill him when wanted.
Wednesday, March 12.
The bullock did not come up during the night so will be obliged to leave
him behind. Started on bearing of 55 degrees for two and one-eighth miles
and crossed several myall creeks; over stony ground; the flood close by
obliged to change course to bearing of 97 degrees for three-quarters of a
mile, then bearing of 91 degrees for two and a quarter miles over low
chopping slaty and stony hills and several creeks; then bearing of 84 1/2
degrees for eight miles over stony ground, very bad travelling; then on
bearing of 77 degrees for half a mile to camp on a frizzly-barked tree
creek. Passed several of the same kind of creeks today with some timber;
it is very hard and some of it (from three to four feet in diameter)
would make splendid furniture. Another of the bullocks dropped down when
within two hundred yards of the camp, apparently affected by the
sun--although it did not seem to me so very hot, although it was sultry.
I hope he will be able to go on in the morning or at this rate we shall
soon lose them all. Wind has chopped round from north-east to south this
afternoon and looks very much like rain. From top of a hill about a mile
from here looking over a sea of water, two openings to be seen in the
sandhills beyond, much as if one or other was the proper course of the
creek; one at 355 1/2 degrees, with heavy timber, and one at 10 degrees,
without so much timber but broader and more like. Natives raising a great
smoke in the distance about five or six miles west of the 355 1/2 degrees
opening. Blew strong in the evening and the rain went off.
Thursday, March 13.
Camp 10. Clouds all gone; wind north-east. The bullock unable to get up
so I shall be obliged very reluctantly to leave him behind; but perhaps I
may be driven back this way and he will then be of use. Started for gap
in range bearing 120 degrees for four and a half miles over very stony
country. On table-topped hill on the left, and the mass of ranges on the
left, they look like the Reaphooks (hills) in the north of Adelaide at
Marrana. I have called the main mass of ranges Wills Ranges, after the
unfortunate gentleman who lost his life with poor Burke; then bearing 139
degrees for one and three-quarter miles; then a bearing of 155 degrees
for six and a half miles, passing along and over sandhills and rich
pasture, with cane swamps full of water, to south-east termination of
sandhills. Thousands of flock pigeons, some teal, and a new duck. They
have here commenced laying; several pigeons' nests were found as we
passed along, and a duck's with eight or ten eggs in it; plenty of quail
and other small birds. Saw a bustard in the midst of the sandhills which
bear 340 degrees. To the north of this camp a short distance is a very
strange round stone hill, capped with larger stone, which I have called
Elliott's Knob. One native was seen today on the top of one of the stony
ridges, but did not get within speaking distance of him; many tracks were
discernible for the last eight miles. From top of one of the stone hills
to right of gap in range a perfect sea was before me from 298 degrees
round north to 95 degrees, with nothing but here and there the tops of
trees that line the creek only discernible, and sand and rock hills
forming islands; and in the distance to north and west the hills that
bound the vast expanse of water appear like islands far off in the ocean.
Friday, March 14.
Camp 11. Started on bearing of 90 degrees for five miles to top of long
stony ridges. For the first two miles through swamp and water and
sandhill, leaving on left hand a very nice lake, and on the right some
little distance off a sand-ridge running along swamp; in the distance
south is timber denoting a creek which forms this swamp and lakes--the
remaining three miles of the five very stony and bad travelling.
Immediately beyond me at the end of the five miles stretches a large dry
bed of a lake eastward, with a considerable swamp to south round to 80
degrees, following the foot of a well-defined range, at the north-east
termination of which range, visible from here, are several smaller and
larger table-topped hills and gaps; then on bearing of 80 degrees,
passing through an arm of dry lake; good travelling for nine and a half
miles and camped on small sandhill at a claypan; the flood from three to
four miles off to west of north; sandhills ahead.
Saturday, March 15.
Camp 12, or packsaddle camp, having left one of the bullock's packsaddles
on a tree. Bearing 48 degrees for three and a half miles over very heavy
country with spinifex and abundance of other grasses; one and a half
miles further same course over stony and sandy rises. A splendid tier of
table-topped hills in the distance east and north; bearing of 65 degrees
for two and a half miles, then bearing of 20 degrees over a flooded
splendid swamp, principally, four and a half miles to a box creek where I
will kill Ranger the bullock as he cannot travel. Distance travelled
today twelve miles.
Sunday, March 16.
Went to have a view from the principal range eastward, the first and
greater part of the road over magnificent pasture, nearer the hills very
stony; found the hills distant twenty-one miles; from top of a large
table-topped one I had a splendid view; the tier of ranges I am now on
bear to east of north and west of south but are very irregular, many
spurs running off from main range and forming a vast number of
crown-shaped tops and peaked hills, with innumerable creeks draining the
country from east and south to west and north and joining the main creek.
Twenty-one miles travelled today bearing 62 1/2 degrees; from this hill
another tier of similar hills is seen in the distance with a very large
creek draining the country between this and that, flowing northward, and
then west round the north end of the tier I am now upon, the south-west
end of distant range bears 125 degrees, about twenty-five to thirty miles
off, and the north-east end, dimly seen in the distance, bears 65
degrees, which tier of ranges and creek I have called Browne Creek after
J.H. Browne, Esquire, of Booboorowie, South Australia. The range I am on
and the tier northward to where the creek (Browne's) passes round the end
of them I have called Ellar's tier of table-tops; the tier south of where
I now am I have called Warren's tier of table-tops after my respected
friend George Warren, Esquire, of Gawler for whose kindness I am much
indebted; the plains or downs east and north of those ranges I have
called The Downs of Plenty as here there is everything one could wish in
travelling over a new country. I would have gone over to the distant
ranges but unfortunately my horse threw one of her shoes and I was
obliged to camp at a creek under the hills for the night. The creek I
have now camped on I have named Ranger's Creek after our bullock killed
Monday, March 17.
Returned to camp; on my way out to the hills yesterday saw three natives,
but they would not let me approach, they were busy collecting seeds from
the different grasses; the beef seemingly drying well but will have to
give it another day.
Tuesday, March 18.
In camp; will pack up the beef tonight and start in the morning.
Afternoon packed the beef, it gave us 162 pounds of well-dried meat and I
hope it may keep good.
Wednesday, March 19.
Started about 10.30 and went about fourteen miles; passed through some
magnificent country, one fine plain alone extended for several miles and
well grassed; in the distance could be seen high ranges. The weather
magnificent and quite tropical, the perfume from the flowers is quite
refreshing. Cut a tree with 13 MK (conjoined), 15 to 19-3-62. Distance
travelled today fifteen miles. Camped on a creek, fine water.
Thursday, March 20.
Left the camp about 10 a.m. and travelled till we struck a large creek
and went on over fine flats and sandhills covered with most luxuriant
grass and several descriptions of creepers. The blue convolvulus was also
seen today for the first time, also a most beautiful small blue flower
with a dark purple eye. Plenty of pigeons today, some few nests were
found on the march. The mosquitoes very bad at this camp. A native was
brought into camp by Mr. Hodgkinson this evening and we decorated him
with necklaces and gave him a feed. Distance travelled today fifteen
Friday, March 21.
Marked a small bastard sandalwood tree this morning 11 MK (conjoined),
20-3-62. Our journey today was over nothing but red sandhills course
about north-north-east; had to cross a large sheet of water. Eighty duck
eggs were found today by the men. The country round about now is very
fine indeed, grass as high as the horses' knees. We now every day find
fresh shrubs and flowers, everything reminding one of the tropics.
Bullocks and sheep not in tonight, mosquitoes bad here indeed. Last night
was certainly the most infernal night I ever passed, never slept. The
mosquitoes were fearful although fires were lighted all round us, each
man having his private bonfire, yet the mosquitoes were not to be
frightened, they would buzz and bite; rolled our heads up in our blankets
and oilskins but in a second or two the little brutes were under and
buzzing away. The air also seemed impregnated with the little tormentors.
Camped on claypan with little and bad water. Bullocks not up nor sheep.
Distance travelled about sixteen miles.
Saturday, March 22.
Bullocks did not come up last night so have had to send back today,
consequently spelled. Thunder and a couple of showers in the afternoon at
which time the bullocks arrived, having strayed far.
Sunday, March 23.
Claypan camp. At five and a quarter miles cleared sandhills bearing 17
degrees, flooded and stony flats with sand. At six and three-quarter
miles crossed a box and myall creek. At seven and three-quarter miles to
top of sandhill passed sandy bed of myall creek from hills. At ten and
three-quarter miles crossed a box and myall creek, running north and
west; plenty of water in creeks, and on both sides of course passing
stony flats and undulations, well grassed. At thirteen and a half miles a
white gum flat with not many stones and trees not large. At fifteen and a
half miles over stony undulations well grassed to top of a myall creek
followed it down west one mile to plenty of water and feed.
Camped--sixteen and a half miles. At three miles and up to four and a
half after starting flood close by on left.
Monday, March 24.
Camp 17. Bearing of 355 degrees. At three and three-quarter miles crossed
a myall creek or flat--broad, with several dry channels from
north-north-east, draining a tier of fine ranges on the east--the only
ones now visible to north or east--which I have called Scott's ranges
(the tops of which, especially the northern one, are well wooded) after
John Scott, Esquire, of Adelaide, a gentleman to whom I am much indebted,
in not only giving the use of two of his best horses for my use during
the time the expedition would be absent, but in also kindly requesting me
to call at his station in the North and take from it what I might
consider of service to me. Over gentle slopes, some stony. Saw fifteen
emu on one of the plains so have named the plain and undulations Emu
Downs, to a box creek with abundance of water and feed at seventeen and a
half miles. No timber except on the ranges and creeks. This appears a
small creek to many that are in sight to north and west. A range
continues to north-north-east. The creek from eastward to westward and
southward joining other larger creeks a few miles west of this. The whole
of the country passed over today is excellent pastoral country. From this
camp the north-east termination of Scott's Ranges, ending in two detached
round-looking hills, bears 113 1/2 degrees, about six to ten miles off.
Tuesday, March 25.
Started on bearing of 355 degrees. At two and a half miles crossed a box
creek with plenty of water from north-east to west and south, sweeping
considerably towards latter quarter. At fourteen and a half miles to box
creek, dry where I struck it. Went on bearing of 238 degrees for two
miles to a creek with plenty of water and camped. Sixteen and a half
miles over beautifully grassed, very gently sloping and undulating
country; rising ground seen to the west in the distance--flood must be
some distance off. New hawk seen (light-coloured) this afternoon.
Wednesday, March 26.
Camp 19. Started on bearing of 315 degrees to get closer to course of
main creek which I have observed nothing of for the last two days.
Beautiful weather; heavy dews at night. At ten miles struck and crossed a
box creek where it empties itself into a flat; passing over splendid
country, the latter part in the small watercourse rather stony and sandy.
A quarter of a mile further on is another box creek, and between it and
the first creek is a perfectly boggy swamp full of water, as well as the
creek, so have to change course to avoid some of it; bearing of 55 1/2
degrees, over plain for two miles; then bearing 7 1/2 degrees for four
and a half miles, first part of it magnificent feed, the rest a
morass--will have to clear out of this to the east for some distance to
round it. Any traveller caught here in rainy weather such as has been
lately deluging these vast plains would to a certainty be washed
away--there is not a knoll six feet high within the range of the eye.
Journey today about sixteen and a half miles from point to point, but I
made it considerably more in trying to get across the swamp and being
obliged to return. A small hill from top of a tree at camp beyond what
appears the main creek in the distance bears 309 degrees; another small
one is west and south of that--no other rising ground to speak of
visible, except in the direction we came from and a little east of it.
Thursday, March 27.
20, or Carbine Creek camp--having left one behind there on a tree, which
has lost the hammer and is unfit for service. Bearing of 29 degrees for
nine miles over swampy country with splendid feed, belts of timber on the
right or east of course, studded in various places, denoting waterholes;
then bearing of 15 degrees for one and a quarter miles where I got bogged
in a creek; got out of it again with a good deal of difficulty and found
that course quite impracticable; after trying the ground for a couple of
miles found it nothing but a bog, so changed course to 54 degrees for
half a mile over sound ground, and encamped on a small creek with a
perfect meadow of grass all around. From the top of a tree hills in the
distance to north and south of east discernible--rising ground near,
which I will make for in the morning. I went out this evening and found
that it is good travelling and will thus allow me to get more in a
northerly direction than of late. Cannot get within miles as yet of the
main creek on account of the boggy nature of the ground--there appear to
be innumerable timbered creeks between this and that, all running into
it--the water here, even on the level plains, is in places running a
stream. One of the camels got bogged on the road today and had to be dug
out with much difficulty.
Friday, March 28.
Camp 21. Beautiful morning, wind from east-south-east. Started on bearing
of 68 degrees for one mile to clear some water; then on bearing of 34
degrees for two and a quarter miles; bearing of 27 degrees for four and a
quarter miles; bearing of 20 degrees for three and a half miles to top of
a small stony rise, immediately beyond which, half a mile distant, is one
mass of creeks occupying a mile in width, coming from south of east from
hills in the distance. These creeks, no doubt, are one both above and
below this, although now split into many branches. I have called it
Davenport Creek after George Davenport, Esquire, of Melbourne, a
gentleman to whom I am much indebted for his kindness. Then bearing of 41
degrees at half a mile came to first creek and continued on same course,
crossing creeks for one mile; distance about twelve and a half miles.
This creek must drain an immense tract of country eastward. Northward
appears one mass of creeks. It is certainly a magnificent country if
there is permanent water.
Saturday, March 29.
Camp 22. Beautiful morning, wind light from south-south-east. On bearing
of 355 degrees for seventeen and a half miles, first part over rather
swampy ground, chiefly over firm ground; good travelling country and a
little stony (sandstone). On it found a new fruit on a shrub about five
feet high, not unlike the bean tree; the fruit tree of Cooper's Creek
also is here and it is a more handsome tree than between this and
Cooper's Creek; the bean tree is also here. Within the last two miles the
ground has been swampy and full of watercourses, with plenty of water
caused by the emptying of a large creek from the east, coming past
south-west end of a large range east and running north of this position;
which creek I have named Brown's Creek after Charles Brown, Esquire, of
Great Bourke Street West, Melbourne, whose upright way of conducting
business I very much admire and who, from his straightforward manner,
gains the esteem of everyone that has anything to do with him.
Sunday, March 30.
Camp Number 23. Bearing of 7 degrees one mile, bearing of 355 degrees
eight and a half miles to top of a sandhill, well-grassed; passing on the
left, half a mile back, a couple of same kind and a little higher. From
the one I am on an extensive view of the surrounding country is had. On
the west side of the creek close is a tier of ranges running parallel
with it; nearest part not above four miles from this; hills on the right
at various distances discernible all along the course today; the most
prominent one seemingly well-wooded and terminating northward in a bluff
and small table-top. Bluff bearing 117 1/2 degrees, I have called the
Hamilton Range after George Hamilton, Esquire, Inspector of Police,
Adelaide. Two table-topped hills are to the east and north of the bluff;
southern one bears south end 114 degrees, north end 113 1/2 degrees;
south end of north table-top 113 1/4 degrees; north-east end 112 degrees.
On a bearing of 60 degrees distant is a mass of apparently heavy ranges
running west of north--as do most of the ranges that at all approach the
creek. The country here has been terribly torn by the flood and torrents
of rain that must have fallen some short time back; in some places it has
the appearance of being literally ploughed in stripes, but generally
firm; any quantity of water on right of course. To the east, between the
hills, heavy creeks come out west and north in all directions,
overflowing the whole country; anyone caught in the locality on such
occasions as the late visit of the flood here would never more be heard
of. On bearing of 331 degrees for two and a half miles; bearing of 340
degrees for four and three-quarter miles--in all about sixteen and
three-quarter miles; latter part much torn by water and in consequence
less feed than usual. Camped on one of the main channels of the main
creek about eighty to one hundred yards wide, cut into a number of
channels; abundance of water and feed. From this camp peculiar cliffy red
table-topped hill bears 77 degrees; highest point of range 33 1/2
degrees; farthest part visible 7 degrees; is timbered on top; running
north-west; south end distant about five to seven miles.
Monday, March 31.
Bearing 15 degrees one and one-eighth miles; bearing of 36 1/2 degrees
four miles to ranges, part of table-top hill about three and a half miles
off where the creek goes through the gorge between the table-tops, when
it is fully half and nearly three-quarters of a mile wide, and nearly one
sheet of water and bogs; it divides towards the other side through larger
passage on the east and two rocky hills in the angle, nearly north and
south of each other and about 100 yards apart; another rocky cone hill is
south again of them. Round rocky summit and bears 240 degrees; crossed on
bearing of 10 degrees over table-top limestone and sandstone hill to flat
on the other side at four miles; at two miles further on same course
camped at first good water we met. This range that I have passed over I
have called Hamilton's Table-tops after G. Hamilton, Esquire, Inspector
of Police; the gorge and island I have called Hunter; the table-tops on
opposite side I have called Goyder's after the Surveyor-General of South
Australia; the islands immediately south of Hunter's Island and close
alongside I have called Mary's Island: and the cone southward of that I
have called Moses Island Cone after a young relative of mine in Scotland.
Tuesday, April 1.
Beautiful morning; wind east and fresh. Travelled zigzag through creeks
from the eastward for about twenty miles and camped on large one from
south of east that we could not find a crossing at; our distance in a
direct line would not be much more than half that, and the exact course
not known till I get on one of the hills; to east and north no view,
being perfectly shut out with timber. The country near the creek is a
perfect bog, and even a man has great difficulty in getting out of some
places that he is induced to try, thinking it crossable. After getting to
camp went about examining the creek for a crossing, and think I have
found one that perhaps may do, but even after crossing this one the
country is like a net, intersected as it is with creeks, magnificent
pasture on the flats; a native fishing weir is a little above this.
Across the creek and you can see the fish snapping at the flies in the
holes--all the creeks indeed that I have crossed from the east have both
fish and mussels in them, but here the creeks are very formidable. Small
crown top of the hill, another very fine one some little distance south
of that; all those are on the western side of a large range, close by,
running apparently north-east and south-west. I sincerely wish I was safe
on the western side of these main creeks as I am thus driven contrary to
my wish much east.
Wednesday, April 2.
Started to cross the creek about three-quarters of a mile to the
eastward; but just before starting, whilst the horses were coming, two of
them got bogged and we had some difficulty in extricating them, however
we made a start; got to the crossing place--got two of the camels and two
of the horses bogged and had considerable difficulty in getting all over
safe, however did so with the exception of getting some of the things
wet, so it was late when we crossed. I at once camped to dry them and got
things put to rights for a start in the morning. Started off to get a
view of the country from a remarkable crown-topped conical hill about six
miles off, and had a most extensive view. I find that we have for the
present passed the worst of the creeks, and that now there is in view
only one of much magnitude and it bears off eastward, passing on the
south-east side of an isolated hill or double hill; they are the only
hills seen from this elevated spot from a bearing of 358 degrees round to
44 degrees southward and westward; from the forementioned of these
bearings and masses of hills jumbled together, and to south and east of
the latter bearing is another mass of hills; at the bearing itself the
hill terminates in small cones immediately east of my position; a little
to the north and a little to the south is one mass of table-topped hills,
some apparently strongly timbered on top, with a perfect wall from ten to
thirty feet perpendicular round summit of all, and some are detached.
Hunter's Island Gap, or rather the bluff on its northern side, bearing 26
degrees from Hunter's Gorge to north and west, is round to 358 degrees in
the far distance, is a mass of table-topped ranges with, apparently,
three gaps in them.
Thursday, April 3.
On bearing of 110 degrees along the creek for one and a quarter miles, on
bearing of 65 1/2 degrees for three and a half miles, on bearing of 1
degree for three and a half miles over several boggy creeks; then after
several fruitless exertions through bogs and creeks, with a large deep
strong running stream and through quagmire, was obliged to retrace my
steps and get outside of the creeks, having failed completely in getting
over them; they would swallow horses and everything we had got. Went on
bearing of 99 degrees for three and a half miles and camped on a
magnificent lagoon about one mile long and about 200 yards wide, a
perfect flower garden.
Friday, April 4.
Camp, Jeannie Lagoon; went and had a view from hills east; saw there
Kangaroo ranges far to the east, tier after tier, country timbered, etc.
Saturday, April 5.
Camp 28. At daybreak sky wild-looking to eastward; wind from south;
strong. Never in all my experience found the flies so thorough a pest as
they have been for the last week or ten days. We get on without our bread
quite as well as I expected; the vegetables we use by boiling are famous
things, both as a substitute for bread and keep the party in good health.
The natives on the main creek lower down south call it cullie; it is a
sort of spinach and does not grow more than a foot high but spreads
perhaps twice that much. Started over on bearing of 45 degrees; at three
three-eighth miles came to and crossed a broad swamp from the eastern
hills; a little further back on the right of my course appeared to be
another lagoon; at five-eighths of a mile commenced crossing low
sandhills; splendid feed all the way. Changed the course, the ground
ahead having too many high-looking sandhills. Saw a couple of natives in
the distance crossing the swamp; I crossed some considerable distance
west of them; they evidently did not see us. Cannot keep straight; there
is a large deep creek here immediately on my left, about fifty yards
wide; bearing of 60 degrees for one and a quarter miles; then bearing of
24 degrees, crossing the creek (small one); making for north-west end of
another sandhill two and a quarter miles further; then bearing of 15
degrees, passing on the left some fine myall and sandhill country,
splendidly grassed and strongly wooded with myall and other trees of
various kinds in splendid foliage; two and a quarter miles bearing of 33
degrees over sandy undulation on the right and innumerable creeks on the
left for one and one-eighth miles; in all sixteen and a quarter miles and
camped on some mulga near some of the branches of the creek.
Sunday, April 6.
Camp 29. Beautiful cold morning; what little wind there is is from the
south-west. Started away on bearing of 40 degrees for thirteen and a half
miles; first part over stony myall undulations (open) the latter part
free from stones and much less wooded except in the creeks that
constantly come in from the ranges from the eastward. As I am now passing
a couple of circular table-topped hills pretty close on the right I will
change my course for a thicket of myall and camp that I may be enabled to
ride to the height and have a view of the general course of the creek, as
what I am on is too flat to get a view at all. Changed course and camped;
distance travelled fourteen and five-eighth miles; day beautifully cool.
A tier of ranges continues on my right all along, varying from five to
eight miles distant, timbered with mulga, same as one I went on the day I
camped at Jeannie Lagoon; a mass of detached pyramids, cut and conical
coronet-topped hills are between my course and the main range and I have
the creek to the right. Not far off passed abundance of water on course
over top of Euro Hill; creek bears suddenly off westward--a likely way to
get over the range and meet it again by a gap in range bearing 349
degrees. It appears to pass through and receive large tributaries from
the west and northward, between large leading ranges on the west and
through range with gap on the east side, that I talk of passing through
to meet it again on bearing 318 degrees, or of bearing 340
degrees--nearer considerably than the former. This hill is a conical
coronet-topped hill of burned sandstone mixed with some quartz and is
four miles from camp, on a bearing of 157 1/2 degrees. Belts of mulga
between camp and this; the country to north-east and round by east to
south for some miles is not all good; a little spinifex and the ground
perfectly strewed with bronzed stones of various sizes; no ranges visible
from north round to north-east, but plains and mulga scrub; one larger
hill similar, but coated with spinifex and bush of various sizes, is
close by bearing 300 degrees; another about the same size as this,
thickly coated with spinifex, and a couple of bushes about 300 yards off
bears 225 degrees. Between me and main range to the east are numerous red
pyramid hills of various sizes, and southward a number of detached
table-topped hills, peaks, and mounds, all more or less timbered. Just as
I was getting up this hill a fine euro hopped off down the side some
distance off, and when I got on the top another sprang up and as I had my
pistol with me I fired and luckily killed him, so I call the hill Euro
Hill. After I had finished on the hill I disembowelled the euro and
carried it to the camp to have it used and help the meat to last; I hope
we may get plenty more.
Monday, April 7.
Camp 30. Exceedingly cold during the night but a beautiful morning.
Started on bearing 5 1/2 degrees for six and three-quarter miles; first
part of it over open flats with mulga creeks and watercourses, many with
water; next over burnt stony undulation with mulga watercourses; at five
miles came in amongst a quantity of detached hills of lime and sandstone;
the ground strewed with bronzed burnt small stones and takes the print of
an animal's foot readily, having a light soil under. At the end of this
distance, six and three-quarter miles, two creeks again full in view, one
apparently on bearing 9 degrees, passing above and below a small
table-topped hill, the other on bearing of 40 degrees, which I suppose I
must follow till I can cross. For five miles passing stony slopes towards
the creek and a vast abundance of vine with large yellow blossoms, the
fruit being contained in a leafy pod; that fruit when ripe contains three
or four black seeds as large as a good-sized pea. I must try them cooked
as I find the emu tracks very abundant where the vine is most plentiful.
I can from this point see the creek distinctly break off from the branch
on bearing of 354 degrees, but I must keep on the branch still; bearing
now 35 1/2 degrees. The tops of the low hills are of a whitish colour,
and an immense quantity of gypsum is scattered over them as well as over
the slopes as I came along, and the tops and slopes of the hill have
mallee with other trees and shrubs; course 35 1/2 degrees for three
three-eighth miles, first part burnt undulation of thin brown slate
gypsum cliffs for a short distance, without a shrub or bush on them;
precipitous slopes, tops alone having bushes or trees; latter part over
undulation more or less stony to creek where it turns suddenly to
northward again; bearing of 338 degrees over flooded well-grassed country
for two miles on to the main creek; a hill on opposite side within
twenty-three yards of creek bank. This is a magnificent stream here. It
is at least 250 yards wide and from forty to fifty feet down the banks to
the water, lined with noble gums, box, bean, and other trees; how deep it
is difficult to say. Lots of ducks of various kinds, cormorants, magpies,
corellas, pigeons of various kinds, with the usual accompaniment of crows
and hawks. Small hill visible in the distance to south of east; very
extensive plain in that direction also, as well as east and north of
east, with abundance of excellent pasture and timbered low ridges, stony,
but well grassed with limestone and the everlasting plum-pudding stone
with sandstone. Current in creek I should say not more than half a mile
Tuesday, April 8.
Camp 31. Cool during the night with a heavy dew, beautiful morning, not a
breath of wind: keeping a short distance from the creek to cross a boggy
tributary from the east, for two and three-quarter miles, then through
timbered stony rising ground, plenty of feed; the bronzed middle-sized
pigeon of Cooper's Creek seen here; bearing of 40 degrees for two and a
quarter miles along limestone and plum-pudding slopes; part of creek on
left on bearing of 30 degrees for three and a quarter miles, timber for
building purposes to be had here in sufficient quantities; bearing of 45
degrees for three-quarters of a mile; bearing 50 degrees for one mile;
bearing of 40 degrees three-quarters of a mile over myall open country,
some of it very stony where the flood has swept over it; now on the right
are some fine plains backed in by low myall ridges; bearing of 42 degrees
for four and three-quarter miles, the creek on the left, tributaries seem
to come in and join on opposite side, cross a creek from east in its
swamp, plenty of water (Kell's Creek); I have come to a stony
crossing-place and recross over to north-west side; the female camel
bogged but we soon got her put to rights; for the last three miles the
ground we travelled over is nearly one mass of stones, limestone and
agate or flint, and very bad travelling; the creek runs strong--I have
called it Mueller's Creek after F. Mueller of Melbourne--fifteen and a
half miles. After getting to camp got a horse and went out north of west
to a ridge some short distance off and saw to the westward a large
tributary that I think will suit my course; at little over quarter of a
mile a very large creek comes in from north of north-east and flows
southward, it has ceased running and has a broad stony bottom but has
splendid reaches of water; this I have called the Robinson after J.
Robinson, Esquire, of Hume River. Considerably to east is a well-defined
range in the distance, running north and south with three detached mounds
of hills and I have called it Mount Mueller after F. Mueller, Esquire.
Wednesday, April 9.
Camp 32. Heavy dew, beautiful still morning, a few fleecy clouds.
Started, bearing of 285 degrees for one and a quarter miles, at
three-eighths of a mile crossed the Robinson, at three-eighths of a mile
further crossed a nice creek with large reaches, the Mansergh; at
three-eighths of a mile further changed our mode of travel to the bearing
of 330 degrees for two and a quarter miles; then bearing 354 1/2 degrees,
spinifex hill or range close on the right, good open country travelled
over; creek on the left about two miles off, alluvial deposit on plain,
over which we travelled for six and three-quarter miles then entered a
mulga range (low) bronzed stone on the ascent but plenty of feed and
numerous traces of kangaroo. Saw lots of emu on the plains; still on
bearing of 354 1/2 degrees to creek, passing on the right a vast quantity
of spinifex and ranges of sandstone right on the banks of creek for three
and a quarter miles, crossed it on a bearing of 284 degrees
three-quarters of a mile, plenty of water, the creek I have called the
Fletcher after G.B. Fletcher, Esquire, Tapio, Darling River, New South
Wales; then bearing 295 degrees for Coronet-Topped Hill, centre of next
creek, at three miles made the creek, went one quarter of a mile into it
and camped; the last three miles has been a pipeclay, slaty, spinifex,
miserable country with detached conical, white, clay-slaty hills, top of
the range all spinifex, although timbered with a white-barrelled gum of
no great dimensions; distance travelled today seventeen and a half miles.
Thursday, April 10.
Camp 33. Fine morning, wind moderate, south, on bearing of 300 degrees up
the clear ground in the apparent centre of this immense creek; passed
north end of stony (sand) spinifex-topped and pipeclay, north end at one
and one-eighth of a mile; bearing of 315 degrees high bluff,
spinifex-topped, hills all along at the right of creek, except the valley
of the creek, this is the most miserable country we have been in for some
time, if you offer to ascend the ridges they are nothing but a mass of
very rough stones, spinifex, and mulga, myall, and white-stemmed
gumtrees, very difficult to travel over, three miles on 315 degrees;
obliged to change course, great part of the heavy creek, on my left,
crossing my course, and bearing up more to eastward another creek bears
off to considerably west of north, now on bearing of 285 degrees crossing
the different branches of this immense creek which I have called the
Cadell, after F. Cadell, Esquire, the enterprising and indefatigable
navigator of the Murray and Darling, etc. etc., not that he will ever be
able to steam up this length; 285 degrees for one and a quarter miles of
other creeks that appear to go off on a bearing, at present, of 200
degrees, which I follow on its north-east side, or rather up through it,
as it is divided into innumerable branches with abundance of water;
camped at six and three-quarter miles on this course in the centre of the
creek; the hills recede a good deal from the creek and are not so
rough-looking or abrupt as they were in the morning and yesterday; the
creek I have called Middleton, after Mr. Middleton, one of our party, who
at all times has rendered me most material services and who, had I lost
him during his late severe illness I should scarcely be able to get along
without, he is always ready at the post when there is anything particular
Friday, April 11.
Camp 34. Fine morning; wind moderate south. This creek receives a
tributary from the southward of west about a quarter mile lower down than
this. I shall pass through this creek to north-east side, that being the
best and most open travelling, the south-west side having myall timber
from the creek to the ranges as far as visible. If the country at all
suits and, as my food cannot possibly carry me back to Adelaide, I shall
shape my course for the southern part of the Gulf of Carpentaria about
the Albert River, thence to Port Denison, then to wait instructions from
South Australia. On bearing of 45 degrees; half a mile across the
different branches of the immense creek, then on bearing of 314 degrees
along splendid plains, passing at nine and a half miles a detached small
tier of ranges running on to and ending at the creek; from the top of the
nearest one the creek appears to bear through ranges 294 1/2 degrees;
ranges on this side appear only detached and far distant from the creek,
leaving magnificent plains intervening. A small red conical hill is close
to the creek about a mile from this bearing 306 1/2 degrees. I now
recross the creek on bearing of 294 1/2 degrees as it is more suitable
for my purpose, the creek in the distance at its western bend bearing 305
degrees about nine miles distant, at which place it receives a tributary
from the ranges to the eastward on the course of 294 1/2 degrees for
eight and a half miles. Camping on south-western side of creek, passing
over excellent country. Travelled today eighteen and a half miles. The
creek that comes in on the opposite side I have called Saville's Creek.
From this camp a coronet-shaped hill, at or near the termination of a
tier of ranges approaching the creek within five miles, bears 30 degrees,
a bluff termination of ranges from the creek on south-west side and on
south-west of our tomorrow course bears 279 1/2 degrees, about eight to
Saturday, April 12.
Camp 35. Fine morning. I have had to send back to last camp for a small
saw, carelessly left behind by the cook. On bearing of 294 1/2 degrees on
south-west side of creek direct, seven and a half miles through, the
creek came direct in my course and sheered round again north before that
distance; then bearing of 313 degrees for five and three-quarter miles,
and camped, making the stage short to await the messenger for the saw.
Wind south. Immense open downs or plains, well grassed with similar hills
to what we have passed, wanting the spinifex. Messenger arrived with saw.
Sunday, April 13.
Camp 36. Evenings, nights, and mornings are beautifully cool; the days
are quite hot enough. It is astonishing to see how fast the waters have
dried up. I hope that near the tops of the creeks the water will not fail
us, for up to this we have had lately much more than we want. Bearing of
336 degrees, on south-west side of creek still. Ranges now on the left
and at the distance of from thirteen to fourteen miles, appear to come
right on to the creek on both sides at two and a half miles; on bearing
of 336 degrees. Tributary from south-west side; at five miles another
tributary on same side; at six and three-quarter miles another. At
fourteen miles the hills close, those on the north-east side nearer than
the south-west side ones. At fourteen and a half miles tributary joins on
opposite side from the hill close by. At fifteen and three-quarter miles
hill (burned sandstone) comes on to the creek; the timber in the creek
nearly all white gum, the North of Adelaide native orange, and a new
fruit, something similar, that when ripe splits open down the sides
whilst still green, and grows on a low prickly shrub, leaf not unlike the
orange but longer and when near other trees or shrubs entwines itself
round them and grows to a good height. The actual distance today direct
is about fifteen miles, as the creek came in my course and receded again
before we came to camp--camped across the creek. Kirby by some
unfortunate mistake on his part did not arrive here tonight. Will send
after him first thing in the morning; burnt a blue light and made a low
fire on the top of the hill for him but without effect.
Monday, April 14.
No word of Kirby; sent after him, found him on the tracks some miles
away, and did not get to camp till near noon. He says he got entangled in
the creeks and could not make the tracks out. Lots of kangaroo and emu
here but shy; cloudy and hot. Looks as if we were to have a shower; I
wish we may. Camp here today.
Tuesday, April 15.
Camp 37. Late in starting, some horses being absent; nice cool breeze
from north-north-east--bearing of 2 1/2 degrees; creek on the left at
three-quarters of a mile, tributaries join on each side; at two and a
half miles remarkable peaky and table-topped hills on right; hills close
on both sides. At four and a half miles changed course to 8 degrees; at
one and a half miles heavy tributary came in from east-south-east, and is
I think the principal channel; completely ran the creek out north and
then followed and ran out the principal one. Retreated twice and
compelled to camp at a water in the flat a quarter of a mile north of
where I struck the creek. Distance today six and a half miles; although I
suppose I travelled treble that distance. After camping got a horse and
went out over the ranges in a west and north direction and saw what I
suppose will be a course to suit me tomorrow; otherwise it was my
intention to have taken one man and a packhorse, and pushing over the
range northward to see if we are near the north watershed, or to have
found a practicable route. Ranges are covered with spinifex and rough
stones. Hodgkinson shot a euro which will help us on and save a sheep.
Wednesday, April 16.
Camp 38. Started on a general bearing of 292 degrees over the ranges and
at seven miles direct got onto a large myall flat; at nine miles passing
over myall flat. Red table-topped range close on right; passed through
the mass of them and the last of the range; and changed bearing to 325
degrees for three and a half miles, making for a gum creek that appeared
to come from the ranges from north and east. Found no water on the road
nor in the creek but fortunately some in a side creek at which place I
camped. Saw a native signalising to westward, a considerable distance.
Thursday, April 17.
Camp 39. Beautiful morning. Started on bearing of 305 degrees across an
extensive myall, gum, and box flat, with innumerable tributaries into it
in all directions. General drain up to the south; water in many
watercourses as we cross the flat, and must be an immense creek a little
lower down, where they all unite. Keep the course for eleven miles,
crossing a fine open creek running northward, which I think is the same
that we crossed this morning flowing south; then over spinifex ridges on
bearing of 300 degrees onto a fine open flat. Heavy ranges west. Apparent
fall of water northward; about four miles south of this and immediately
over the open undulation at the distance the flow takes place south; on
this last course two and a quarter miles; on bearing of 295 degrees for
two miles, 293 degrees for two and a quarter miles over splendid country
and camped at first creek we met with plenty of water. Unfortunately
Kirby with the sheep has got astray; and Hodgkinson, who was sent after
him in the morning to swerve him from the course he was then on and bear
up north for ours, came up to me in the midst of a spinifex range, whilst
leading on the party, with the stupid information that he could not
follow his tracks; and on being rated for so doing and sent back arrived
at 10 p.m., and never got on his tracks again but says he went back to
the camp we left in the morning--for what purpose he only knows; in
consequence the unfortunate man did not arrive at camp. I will send after
him first thing in the morning. After getting into camp I rode out south
towards the watershed but found it further off than I anticipated from
this camp. It must be from ten to fifteen miles and most excellent
country. The main range west from what I could see of it is very stony;
few trees and a great abundance of kangaroo and other grasses. Emu and
kangaroo in abundance. Range runs to east of north a little and to south
of west a little and is formidable. Distance travelled seventeen and a
Friday, April 18.
Camp 40. First thing in the morning got the horses and started Middleton
and Palmer to endeavour to trace the unfortunate man Kirby who has not
made his appearance. He must have had a bitter cold night of it; this
morning south wind was as cold or colder than I have felt it for twelve
months--we were glad to get to the fire besides fortifying ourselves with
warmer clothing than usual. I with Poole started to cut his tracks if he
came out through the range on his course through open country south of
this, but were unsuccessful in finding any trace of him. Middleton and
Palmer got on his tracks and followed them to about dark when within a
very short distance of our tracks here, and more than half the distance
to this camp, and thought it not improbable, from the course he was then
pursuing, that he had got to our camp and came home but the unfortunate
had not; had he been followed the day before by Hodgkinson with the same
perseverance all would have been well and much anxiety spared to all. If
the poor man has kept to the ranges I'm afraid there is little hopes of
him--it will be a sad end for the poor fellow--a better man for his
occupation could not be found. Just fancy an unfortunate man lost between
two and three hundred miles from the coast in a perfect wild with
twenty-three sheep (and I question if he has any matches) left to sink or
swim beyond reach of any Christian soul. If he is recovered he may thank
God. Will still keep up the search for some days to come in hopes of
recovering him. Camp bearing 208 1/2 degrees about four and a half miles;
furthest north point visible of McKinlay's Range 304 degrees, from thirty
to forty miles. No range visible between that and 18 1/2 degrees. Nothing
but heavily timbered creeks, innumerable tributaries from both sides and
south end. Exact course of main creek not positively discernible, but for
the first twenty miles from camp it bears much east, from Observation
Hill it appears as far east as 3 degrees--termination of McKinlay's Range
as visible from camp on bearing 341 degrees. Furthest southern point of
McKinlay's Range as visible from Observation Hill 214 degrees. Some miles
beyond the watershed south, hill where watershed takes place about six
miles from camp bears from the Hill Observation 216 degrees from camp.
Saturday, April 19.
Horses sent for per first light; night very cold again. Not having had
anything in the shape of food since the morning Kirby was lost, except a
couple or three spoonfuls of flour each in water, I determined, Kirby not
yet arriving, to kill one of our bullocks; had them up to camp and shot
one in the grey of the morning; three now remaining; in the event of
Kirby not being found with the sheep all correct, not very bright
prospect for the party to travel to the Gulf and round to Port Denison
upon; certainly we have the horses but I would be loath to kill them
except in extreme need, but I will still hope for the best, but cannot
stay beyond a week whether found or not, as our provisions, beef, will be
lessening daily; the flour we still have is a small quantity reserved in
case of sickness and for the purpose of putting a small quantity daily in
our soup to make it appear more substantial; at present the vegetable the
party were all so fond of has disappeared except some old dry remnants
which all feel the want of much. I hope it may reappear. After cooking
some of the liver etc. for breakfast and some to take with them, started
Middleton and Palmer again to follow up Kirby's tracks from where they
left them, and started Bell back to the last camp to examine minutely the
track as he went along, and all about the camp in case he may have
retraced his steps, which is what he ought to have done. By noon of same
day, on our not making our appearance on his course, I started out and
skirted the foot of the range where he ought to come out on his course,
but was unsuccessful in finding the slightest trace of the unfortunate
man. What thoughts must pass in his mind. Not a probability of ever again
seeing anyone of his own colour. Possibly destroyed by the natives whose
fires are to be seen daily, although they don't make their
appearance--never again to see his home nor his friends; it must be awful
for the poor man. Dusk now setting in I have better hopes of his recovery
as neither of the three horsemen have made their appearance. Just at dark
up rides Middleton with the joyous intelligence that man and sheep are
found, Palmer staying behind to push on and overtake Bell and Kirby with
the sheep on our track here, and Middleton took a more direct route here
to give information of the good news, at which all of us were glad and
thankful. About 11 p.m. horsemen, Kirby, and sheep arrived safe, and I
was truly grateful for the deliverance. The poor man says he never
expected to see us again. Bell fortunately picked him up within three
miles of our last camp; he was then, after having been considerably
south, and now completely bewildered and thinking he had missed the camp
while travelling in the dark, steering a north-west course, and in ten
minutes longer would have been on our track for this place. Middleton and
Palmer had traced him throughout; and as they found they were drawing
near our track Palmer went to the track to see if anything was to be seen
of him there, and called out to Middleton that they were found, and gone
towards home on the tracks, when Middleton immediately started with the
information, leaving Palmer to follow and overtake and assist them to
camp with the sheep. The man Kirby on arrival was completely worn out,
not for want of food but with a troubled mind and want of sleep. He had
killed a sheep the second night after leaving last camp and had with him
a small portion for his use. How thankful he must have been to see Bell!
Sunday, April 20.
Very cold morning. Kirby sleeping and recruiting himself. The meat
drying; in consequence of the last detention it has put us far back from
where we otherwise would have been, and the course appears pretty open to
Monday, April 21.
No dew last night, still the meat is unfit to pack, will have to give it
today still, and then will make a start in the morning. A splendid large
creek flows west of south over the fall of water, and at fifteen to
sixteen miles from this there is abundance of water in it, and must
increase wonderfully as it goes southward and receives its various
tributaries. I have called it the Hamilton after G. Hamilton, Esquire,
Inspector of Police, Adelaide. The one flowing south from our last camp
(39) I have called the Warburton, after the Commissioner of Police, P.E.
Warburton, Esquire, of Adelaide. The range between the two going south I
have called Crozier's Range after John Crozier, Esquire, Murray River.
The ranges west side of the Hamilton going southward I have called
William's Ranges. From the division of waters the ranges west of this and
the creek flowing northwards, a branch of which we are now on, I have
called McKinlay Creek and Ranges; I only hope the creek may hold a course
west of north. The ranges on the east side of this creek going northward
I have called Kirby's Ranges to remind him of his narrow escape.
Tributaries come into this creek south of this position, and west and
east as far as I can discern from top of range, about five miles
north-north-east of this; there is abundance of water in many of the
minor as well as the main creeks; mussels in all. Magnificent pasture all
around and lots of game but wild.
Tuesday, April 22.
Camp 40. We have been here now since the afternoon of Thursday last the
17th, and high time it is that we make some progress. Wind south-east;
cold dewless nights; the meat has dried after a fashion but not
sufficient for keeping any length of time without further exposure to sun
and air--which we must do as soon as we get to camp for several days.
Kirby has now quite recovered and we start on a bearing of 345 degrees. I
call this small creek Black-eyes Creek--after the bullock we slaughtered
here; at three and three-quarter miles crossed the what appears main
channel of the creek coming from west-south-west, and various others
coming in all directions; this is an immense creek, sandy and gravelly
bed, with large and to me perfectly new trees, with short and broad dark
green leaf and often clustering in fine saplings from the bottom and
growing to a good height; also some fine gums. Creek now on the right;
country after crossing the creek is splendidly grassed and firm sound
ground between creek and range which is some distance off; but we will be
gradually approaching it on our present course. At seven and a half miles
crossed sandy creek from west; at ten one-eighth miles crossed large deep
creek from west, at twelve miles sandy creek from west; and at fourteen
miles sandy creek from west; at fourteen and a quarter miles large sandy
creek, west, with water in sand; went down the creek east for a quarter
of a mile to water and camped at the junction of the other creek we
crossed a short distance back with this; the creek immediately below this
is about 300 yards wide with excellent timber; there has been a little
spinifex during today's travel but the bulk of it has been well-grassed
and fresh varieties of good sound country; a specimen of copper picked up
in one of the creeks; a great abundance of quartz and mica strewed
everywhere. I think I forgot to mention that at the division of waters on
the low bald undulations limestone is strewed about in large and small
circular pieces from the size of a saucer to three and four feet in
diameter, besides large blocks of it; the hills on the west are of a hard
stone between flint and sandstone, strewed about with quartz; the eastern
one is of burned slate or clay, pretty much resembling many that we have
already passed and what I was on, topped with spinifex, and the side with
Wednesday, April 23.
Camp 41. Mild night, wind light from west; started on a bearing of 345
degrees. A fresh broad-bean from a fine runner found here but rather
green to obtain seed from; may get some ripe further north. A couple of
small fish about two and a half to three inches long are in this
waterhole, came up at the flood no doubt and left here. The horses are
gone back on their old tracks and the two men who went after them, like
idiots, got about half of them and retraced their steps to camp, afraid
no doubt to go off the tracks to look after them in case they should get
lost--this I am sorry to say is not an uncommon occurrence and has all
along pestered me very much, and has in many instances caused vast
detention; the worst of it is that some of them instead of improving in
following tracks appear to me to be getting daily more stupid. The sheep
and bullocks I have sent on on the proper bearing, so that if it is even
late when the horses are found they can be overtaken and a journey made;
but it does not give me an opportunity of finding water and good camp as
I otherwise would be able to do getting them in a proper time. Wind at 10
a.m. changed to east-north-east, beautiful morning. At middle of the day,
the horses not making their appearance, I sent after the sheep and
bullocks and had them turned back to camp; they arrived at sunset and the
horses just arrived at the same time, having strayed amongst the spinifex
a considerable distance. I took a horse and went to the nearest hill
about seven miles distant to observe the course of the main creek, but
the day proving warm and misty I did not get so distinct a view as I
anticipated, it was extensive enough but indistinct although the
elevation I was on must have been more than 3000 feet from level of the
creek, and much higher ranges on to west of it; from top of it portions
of the main range appear in the far distance at 347 1/2 degrees; no other
eminence round the horizon to 95 degrees; the whole intervening space
filled with creeks running in all directions towards the main creek, that
must be distant from the hill I was on easterly nearly twenty miles with