McKinlay’s Journal of Exploration in the Interior of Australia by John McKinlay

This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

This eBook was produced by Sue Asscher









* * *






Depot Camp, Cudye-cudyena, or Buchanan Lake,

October 26, 1861.


The following is a brief resume of the proceedings of the Burke Relief Expedition since the date of my departure from Adelaide.

Started from Adelaide with the camels, etc., on 16th August, 1861, and overtook the remnant of the party, horses, cart, etc. etc., nothing of any particular note occurring on the journey to Blanchewater (Mr. Baker’s station) more than ordinary on such journeys, save the worthlessness of the cart and consequent detention thereon. A few days before arriving at said station, I was informed that the natives had brought in a report of some white men and camels being seen at some inland water by them, or rather others of Pando or Lake Hope tribe, but did not give the report much credit knowing how easy a person may be misled from the statement he hears from natives, and the probability of putting a wrong construction upon what he hears, more particularly from a tribe of people who really do not understand what you say to them, having hardly any English, but intend making every inquiry and, if at all satisfactory on the point, will make a push for their relief.


Got all the stores forwarded ex Lubra, and dray repacked, and started on Tuesday, September 24; went about eleven miles, camels and cart camped at small creek, the horses camped further on, having mistaken their instructions; poor country.

Wednesday, September 25.

Tooncutchan, Mr. Baker’s outstation–sixteen miles; met Mr. Elder and Mr. Giles there, and Mr. Stuckey arrived in the afternoon; poor country.

Thursday, September 26.

Manawaukaninna, Messrs. Stuckey’s outstation, unoccupied; thirteen and a half miles. Mr. Stuckey and I went to Lake Torrens about three miles distant to look out for a good crossing-place for the cart, which we did, and returned to hut. Three of the horses had a narrow escape from drowning before starting this morning. The country was a little better today; filled all our water vessels and bags for the dry country between this and Pando or Lake Hope.

Friday, September 27.

Started early; got all safe across the Lake Torrens, no water being at our crossing nor in view. Horses and camels went on to camp about twenty-five miles distant and leave what water was to spare for the dray and my horse, and proceed on the next day to Lake Pando, which I found afterwards they did, then bearing from 2 degrees 30 minutes to 3 degrees; cart and sheep came twelve and a half miles on same course; at three miles crossed Lake Torrens, then over a fearful jumble of broken sandhills quite unfit to be described, occasionally passing a small flat trending west-north-west and east-south-east; at eleven and a half miles passed on our left a small salt lake, dry, half a mile long; watched bullocks and sheep.

Saturday, September 28.

Started early, came ten miles similar country; did not get to within two miles of where the horses and camels camped on 27th. I rode on and found the water there, and very welcome it was. The bullocks refused to pull and several lay down in the dray and a couple of them charged right and left; unyoked them and came on with them to where the water was left, from which place I meant to start the two blacks, Peter and Sambo, into the lake with them; gave the blacks each a canteen full of water, also Jack, the native shepherd, with instructions to keep on to the lake on the tracks of the advance party, intending to ride over to the lake myself to water my horse, leaving Palmer, and Frank (a native) with the cart and all the water to remain till the bullocks returned for the cart. Started and at one and a half miles found the bullocks at a standstill and the sheep in sight, the bullocks refusing to be driven and charging the blacks. Just as I came up by some mischance the coupling of one of the charging bullocks gave way, and in an instant poor Peter was tossed up in the air by Bawley and as he descended was caught up again and tossed about on the ground; invariably the brute caught his horns against the large canteen and saved the poor fellow’s life. I was obliged to leave the black then aft with the cart, and with Sambo started on for water; travelled and spelled during the whole night and got to the lake early Sunday 29th, party all right; lots of blacks, apparently peaceably inclined. Found that Mr. Hodgkinson and Mr. Middleton had that morning started for the dray with the camels with a supply of water. Mr. Elder and Mr. Stuckey went to look at the country and returned in the evening; the sandhills and flats alternately bore north-north-west and south-south-east from the camel and horses camp of 27th.

Monday, September 30.

Mr. Elder, Mr. Stuckey, and Mr. Giles started; wrote a pencil memo to town. Since we left last station weather very hot and disagreeable in the extreme for the time of year. Anxious about the men and camels; went westward some distance to find traces of the camels, thinking it probable that they might have strayed from them; very hot, north wind, no traces, nor did they return.

Tuesday, October 1.

Exceedingly anxious about the missing party; started out to the cart, found missing party had arrived there all safe on 29th, and started early on the 30th on their return. Immediately started back to lake, horse knocked up; obliged to camp with him and arrived at camp on Wednesday 2nd at 6 a.m., missing party not returned: thought I would never see them again, and an awful blow it would be to me, in the first place the loss of my two best men and the four camels I had so much reliance in. At once on arrival sent for three horses and took Bell and Jack (the native) with me to endeavour to get traces of them or the camels; proceeded east to the end of the lake and round the eastern end northward but no traces whatever; returned to camp with the intention of proceeding westward in search with Jack, and to my infinite pleasure found they, with the camels, had some short time before returned in a most exhausted state, their mouths, tongues, and throats in a most pitiable condition, and perfectly worn out; had they been out the remainder of that day without success they (the men) must have perished. From their own account it appears they, to lighten the cart, packed on the camels as much of the light sundries as they could, and on their return they by some ill luck got off the track and got confused, and after many efforts and leaving part of their load they abandoned themselves to the guidance of the camels who, by their instinct I suppose, brought them safe to a long lake west of the one we were encamped at, some five or seven miles off. On their arrival on the water they were met by a number of natives who kindly got them water and fish to supply their wants, and after spelling a time got some of them as guides to the camp on Pando, where they were rewarded by presents of a tomahawk and blanket, etc. Started Bell out to the cart with the bullocks and blackfellows, Sambo and Jack, leading a packhorse with supplies of damper and water.

Thursday, October 3.

Invalids recovering; Hodgkinson does not seem to have suffered as much as Middleton.

Friday, October 4.

Hodgkinson, with Davis and Jack, two freshest camels (Coppin and Siva) and two horses and plenty of water and food, started to run their tracks for the loading they left from the camels. The cart arrived all safe about midday. The bullock, Bawley, never made his appearance, and I suppose has gone to find his way back to Mr. Jacob’s from whence he was purchased. Cool westerly breeze.

Saturday, October 5.

Hodgkinson and party arrived all safe and were successful in finding the left articles. Middleton very slowly recovering.

Sunday, October 6, and Monday, October 7.

Spelling the camels and bullocks; taking off the shoes of the horses that were shod in town, having stayed on remarkably well. The country soft; not likely to shoe them for a time; appear in good condition; bullocks tender-necked. Rather a strange circumstance occurred while staying here. A pelican, in an attempt to swallow a perch about a foot long by about five inches in diameter or twelve inches in circumference, was choked after getting it halfway down his throat, and found in the morning quite fresh and the tail of the fish out of its mouth. A considerable quantity of clover or trefoil on this lake; and at the eastern end on the flooded flat, grass but not abundant. The country in this part does not appear to have been visited by any rain for very many months; indeed years must have passed since any quantity has fallen in this sandy region; the bottoms of the clay-pans are nearly as hard as bricks. A considerable quantity of saltbush of various kinds around the lake and on the flats, with some polygonum on the flooded flats; innumerable pigeons.

Tuesday, October 8.

Started from Pando Lake Camp at twenty minutes to 9 a.m., wind west and cool, on a bearing of 285 degrees, two miles north-north-west, to junction of Pando Creek till 10.37; in all about four and a quarter miles. Creek is about 250 yards to 300 broad; on the south-west bank of lake there appears to be layers of salty substance. Tipandranara Lake bears from junction 294 degrees; our camp of this morning 117 degrees; south-eastern portion of lake 106 degrees; apparent course of Pando Creek 340 degrees. Within two miles the creek contracts to less than 100 yards, and at camp about six feet. All arrived at 4.10 p.m. on small Lake Uppadae or Camel Lake; total distance fifteen miles. Travelled over a miserable country, with saltbush of various description, and samphire, and small stones occasionally. Upper entrance to lake bears 12 degrees from outlet; length about one and a quarter miles by an average of three-quarters of a mile, surrounded by sandhills and very little timber round it, and that little of the most miserable description of box; a considerable quantity of rushes and a little grass round the margin, and lots of waterfowl. For the latter half of the day’s travel we were pursuing a course from North 20 degrees West to North 10 degrees West, and as much as north at last.

Wednesday, October 9.

Moved round western side of lake for one and a half miles; then bearing 20 degrees, at one and a half miles further struck the creek, now dry; then 1 degree 30 minutes about three-quarters of a mile; on a bearing of 350 degrees, half a mile distant a creek comes in from the east–evidently the same creek that leaves the main creek about one and a quarter miles from this same course–forming a circuit as an anabranch, from west to east one mile; then a bearing of 339 degrees for three and a half miles. Found I had mistaken top of a dry lake for creek; changed course to 145 degrees; three miles. Creek now alongside; general course 20 degrees; went that course two miles and camped at a long deep waterhole. Creek dry in a number of places. I forgot to say that the day we came to Lake Camel, the two natives, Peter and Sambo, absconded, after getting shirts, etc. Those were the fellows that were to guide us and act as interpreters with the natives concerning the white man reported before, and carrying off with them a new canteen and strap, which we will much want yet.

Thursday, October 10.

Started at 7.25; crossed creek at 9.30, bearing 20 degrees to North; recrossed creek ten minutes past 10; same course; then North 40 degrees East till twenty minutes to one; then crossed at the junction of two creeks, apparently insignificant, and went east one mile to main creek; then northward five miles. Scoured great part of the country ahead and could find no water; getting late, and the day very heavy for the bullocks; determined to get them to water; retreated in a course South 20 degrees West about four miles, to a small pool of water in the creek that I crossed at midday, and camped.

Friday, October 11.

Started with the camels and Mr. Middleton, and a native named Bulingani, provisions and water, to go to the relief of the whites said to be in the interior, but at the same time with the intention of returning to camp if unsuccessful in finding a good camp for the animals. On a bearing of 18 degrees, at twenty-two miles, arrived at Lake Perigundi, a semicircular lake from three to four miles in length by one and three-quarter miles broad. The water not very good; the natives even dig round in the clay a short distance from the lake for water for their use. Appear friendly, and we saw about 200 of them–more rather than under that number, and looking remarkably healthy. Camped, surrounded by them on all sides except the lake side about 300 yards off. One of the camels got bogged and narrowly escaped. We kept watch and watch during the night, sending the native who was with us to camp with the blacks, who gave us some fish.

Saturday, October 12.

Up early and returned to camp. Found it deserted in consequence of instructions given to Mr. Hodgkinson previous to departure–that he was to examine the creek southward; and in the event of his finding good feed and water (which at the camp were both indifferent) to remove the camp at once, which he found, and consequently removed, leaving me a memo at an appointed place of his distance and direction, which was about one and a half miles south and west. Two of the working bullocks got off during my absence, and before they were overtaken by the blackfellow (Frank) on horseback, they had got down south as far as Lake Hope; so he reported on arrival.

Sunday, October 13.

Today I started Palmer and Jack on horseback to look after Frank and the bullocks, when they met with the bullocks coming back on their tracks; preparing for a start tomorrow, carrying a supply of water; name of our present camp, a fine long sheet of water, Wankadunnie; bears 220 degrees from the camp retreated from.

Monday, October 14.

Started with bullock-dray at 6.30 on a bearing of 18 degrees; after the first nine and a half miles travelled over undulating country of sand, dry flats, and flooded ground. From the top of the highest sandhill at that distance the whole country, particularly to the eastward, is one mass of flooded timbered flats and subject to awful inundations; at those times it must be quite impracticable–the main creek (apparently) upon our right varying from one or two and a half miles in width, with patches of young trees across its bed and sides. If this country had permanent water and rain occasionally it would do well for stock of any kind–having a fair sprinkling of grass compared with anything of late seen; and at fourteen miles on a bearing of 18 degrees came to, and crossed at an angle, the bed of a small dry lake (with lots of fine grass) or watercourse half a mile wide. When rain has fallen on this country it is difficult to say; most of the herbs and grass and shrubs as dry as tinder and will ignite at once–but is much more open and fit for pasture. At sixteen miles on same bearing crossed the bed of salt lake, now dry and of no great extent, running north and south in an extensive flat; spelled and had a pot of tea. Then on a bearing of 357 degrees for nine and a half miles to camp on west side of Siva Lake, or Perigundi Lake; found it exceedingly boggy; and what I supposed was clover, as seen in the distance at my former visit, was nothing but young samphire; little or no grass; watered the horses out of a canvas by buckets; whole distance twenty-five and a half miles; all arrived at about 7 p.m.

Tuesday, October 15.

Anxious to get off to the place reported by the natives as the abode of the white man, or men; and finding this lake won’t suit as a depot till my return, on account of its boggy nature and scarcity of feed, I started today to endeavour to find a place suitable for that purpose, and travelled over alternate heavy and high sandhills and flooded wooded polygonum flats with a few grassy patches. At eleven miles on a bearing of about 83 1/2 degrees came to a lake, Cudye-cudyena; plenty of grass and clover but the water all but dried up, a few inches only being around its margin; all the centre and south end and side being a mudbank–but thought it would do by digging. On my way back came on a creek with sufficient water and grass, though dry, to suit the purpose, at two miles, and pushed on to camp. A strange circumstance occurred this evening, showing isolated instances of gratitude and honesty of the natives. In the evening after my return a number of natives were near the camp; amongst them, just as they were about to depart, I observed an elderly man and his son, a boy of eight to ten years who appeared to be an invalid and was about to be carried off by the father. I stopped him and, as I was at supper, gave the youth some bread and meat and tea; when they all took their leave. About the end of the first watch (which was regularly kept) I was awake and heard the person on watch, Middleton, speaking, evidently to a native who, to my astonishment as well as to Middleton’s, ventured up to the camp alone at night; and what would the reader suppose his errand was? It was to bring back our axe that one of his tribe had purloined unseen from the camp during the afternoon. On delivery of said article he at once took his leave, promising to come in the morning.

Wednesday, October 16.

In the morning a few of the natives approached the camp, but stood off at a respectable distance, not sure how they were to be dealt with for their dishonesty, till by and bye the old man with a few others came up; and gradually they that stood aloof came up also. Amongst them were women and children to whom I made various little presents of beads and fishhooks, with which they seemed pleased. To the old man for his honesty I gave a tomahawk with which he appeared highly pleased–his name was Mootielina; the thief I could not find out, or would have given him his deserts likewise. They did not muster very strong this morning, only about 100; but numbers of others were visible all round the lake at the different camps. They all appeared very civil, whether from fear or naturally I could not guess. Started bearing 40 degrees, passing north-west arm of lake three-quarters of a mile; then a bearing of 100 degrees. At three-quarters of a mile cleared the timber that surrounds the water-mark of lake; then began to ascend the sandhills which were very soft, high and steep, for about half a mile or little more, to the highest of them on same course. Changed course to 85 degrees, descending the various sandhills for about a mile; then alternate flooded flats with timber (box) and polygonum, and sandhills, till arrived at a water close by my course home yesterday, and within three-quarters of a mile of where I intended to fix the camp as depot; and which will suit the purpose very well, having sufficient water and abundance of grass on a large flooded flat immediately east of, and running north and south. Distance travelled on last course six and a half miles, total distance eight and a half miles to Careri Creek, which seems to flow from the west of north, or nearly north and south; but name of waterhole is Wantula Depot.

Thursday, October 17.

At depot making arrangements for a start; out in search of the water the whites are supposed to be at. I will take with me Mr. Hodgkinson, Middleton, and a native of this country, Bulingani (who seems to say he knows something of the whites) four camels, three horses, one hundred and sixty pounds of flour, thirty-two pounds of sugar, four pounds of tea, eleven pounds of bacon, and some little necessary, etc., for persons likely to be in a weak state. Leave Bell in charge of the arrangements of the camp, Davies in charge of the stores. About twenty natives are encamped within pistol shot; but have made a fold for the sheep and put everything in such a shape that I may find things all right on my return. Opened the sausages and found them all less or more damaged, one tin in fact as nearly rotten as possible, which have to be thrown away; the others are now drying in the sun in the hopes we may be able to use them. We would have been in a sad fix without the sheep.

Friday, October 18.

At 8 a.m. started; crossed well-grassed flooded polygonum flats or plains for an hour, crossing Kiradinte in the Careri Creek; then left the creek on the left and passed over a succession of sand ridges. At 9.15 arrived at Lake Cudye-cudyena at about nine miles. It was quite a treat, abundance of good water, and any quantity of grass of various kinds, and plenty of clover. It bears 345 degrees, is about six miles long, and fully half a mile wide, well timbered. On a bearing from this southern end of lake (now called Lake Buchanan after Mr. Buchanan of Anlaby, from whom the whole party experienced the utmost kindness) Lake Bulpaner, now all but dry (and what was mistaken by me the other day, when in search of a good depot, for this lake–very dissimilar indeed) bears 158 degrees, distant about two miles along almost a valley. Saw some of the natives on the way here, and sent Mr. Hodgkinson and Bulingani back for one of them to forward a letter to Camp Depot to desire them to move on to this place–so much more desirable for a depot than where they now are. Turned out the animals to await their return. In the meantime three lubras arrived on the opposite side of the lake and we called them over. Shortly after, Mr. Hodgkinson and the black came back; we had some luncheon, started the lubras back to the cart at the depot with a note requesting them to advance to this lake and, at 1.25 p.m., started on a bearing of 345 degrees, along the side of the lake and at 2.45 left the north-east sweep of the lake; then on a bearing of 32 degrees over sand ridges and saltbush flats. Very open country till within one mile of camp at Gunany, a large creek about sixty to eighty yards wide and from twenty to thirty deep, on which we found a number of natives just finishing their day’s fishing. They had been successful and had three or four different sorts of fish, namely the catfish of the Murray, the nombre of the Darling, and the brown perch, and I think I observed a small cod. They offered, and I took several, which were very good–they promised to bring more in the morning. We came upon and crossed a large flooded wooded polygonum flat which continued close to the camp. Distance travelled twenty-five and three-quarters miles.

Saturday, October 19.

Early this morning about eighty natives of all sorts, healthy and strong, visited the camp and could not be coaxed or driven away. I think they would have tried to help themselves were it not from fear of the arms–how they came to know their deadliness I cannot say. Altering one of the camel saddles that has hurt one of their backs and caused us to be late in starting. Started twenty minutes to 9 a.m. Immediately crossed creek to Toorabinganee, a succession of reaches of water in a broad creek, some apparently deep, spelled half an hour, crossed creek and went over very high sandhills, pretty well grassed, with a little saltbush of various kinds, with some flooded and saltbush flats, and arrived at Luncheon Place, an island often, now partly, dry, on south-eastern side in an extensive irregular lake of about eight and a half to nine miles long by an average of one and three-quarters to two miles–very hot–name of Lake Canna Cantajandide. Thought I might be able to cross it at the narrowest place with the horses and camels instead of going all round, as it put me out of my course. Sent Mr. Hodgkinson to ascertain its depth, and found it too deep, so had to go round. Arrived at Luncheon Place at ten minutes past 12, and started again twenty minutes to 4, and travelled to east end of lake, bearing 202 degrees till 4.17; then course of 27 degrees over exceedingly high and abrupt sandhills with poor miserable flats between them; towards the end of our day’s journey over a rather more flat country with large dry beds of lakes or swamps, as dry as ashes with a salt-like appearance, the only vegetation being a few scattered bushes of samphire and an occasional saltbush–a more dreary country you could not well imagine. Arrived at Lake Mooliondhurunnie, a nice little lake nearly circular and nearly woodless, about one and a half miles diameter, at five minutes to seven p.m. Abundance of good water and plenty of feed–clover and some grass–bearing of creek that fills lake 350 degrees; east end 87 degrees; west end 303 degrees; north side 15 degrees, distance travelled twenty-eight miles. On arrival at lake saw several native fires, which on our lighting ours, were immediately put out. Saw nothing of them.

Sunday, October 20.

At daylight about 90 to 100 natives of all sorts visited us; they were not so unruly as those of the morning before, having evidently had some communication with whites–using the word Yanaman for horse, as in Sydney, and one or two other words familiar to me. Plenty of fish, of sorts, in the lake, although not very deep. Cuddibaien bears 100 degrees. The natives here say that the whites have left above place and are now at Undaganie. I observed several portions of European clothing about their camps as on our course we passed them. At the camp we found twenty to thirty more natives, principally aged and children; and on the opposite side of the lake there was another encampment, in all numbering about 150 souls. The sandhills in our course were exceedingly high on the western side but pretty hard; but on the eastern side almost precipitous and soft drift sand; a dray or cart might get east, but I cannot fancy it possible it could return. An exceedingly hot day, wind north. On our way the natives informed us that the natives we had left in the morning had murdered the man said to be at the end of our day’s stage. On some of the ridges and on crossing a large flat creek I observed two new trees or shrubs (they are both) from one I obtained some seeds like beans, and rather a nice tree; the other, when large, at a distance looks like a shea-oak, having a very dark butt and long, drooping, dark-green, narrow leaves, and did not appear to have any seeds at present. Started at 7.17 till twenty-two minutes to 10, nine miles, on a bearing of from 100 to 105 degrees; at 8.18 sighted a large timbered creek, distant one mile, for about seven miles, 360 to 140 degrees. At twenty-two minutes to 10 observed a large dry salt lake bearing 341 degrees, north-west arm 330 degrees, north arm 355 degrees, distance to extreme point of north bank nine miles. Bullingani informed us that a large lake lay on a bearing of 110 degrees, some distance off, named Murri Murri Ando. At 10.15 started on a fresh course of 64 degrees, crossing, 11.15, a small salt lake rapidly drying up. At 11.30 altered course to 100 degrees; at twenty-five minutes to 12 to ten minutes to 1 spelled on sandhill, waiting for the camels, they feeling the effects of the steep sandhill. At nine minutes past 1 altered course to 116 degrees; at 1.15 altered course to 161 degrees; at seven minutes to 2 changed to 47 degrees; and at 2.20 reached Lake Kadhibaerri. Found plenty of water and watered the horses (the camels some distance behind, quite unable to keep up) and at once proceeded northward along the side of a large beautifully-timbered grassed and clovered swamp (or creek about one and a half miles across) to ascertain the fact as to the presence of a European, dead or alive, and there found a grave rudely formed by the natives, evidently not one of themselves, sufficient pains not having been taken, and from other appearances at once set it down as the grave of a white, be he who he may. Returned to lake to await the coming of the camels which was not till about 5 p.m. Determined in the morning to have the grave opened and ascertain its contents. Whilst I went to top of sandhills, looking round me, Mr. Hodgkinson strayed a short distance to some old deserted native huts a short distance off, and by and by returned bearing with him an old flattened pint pot, no marks upon it–further evidence that it was a white, and felt convinced that the grave we saw was that of a white man; plenty of clover and grasses the whole distance travelled, about eighteen miles. Kept watch as usual (but did not intend doing so) but just as we were retiring a fire suddenly struck up and we thought some of the natives had followed us, or some others had come to the lake, rather a strange matter after dark. The fire soon after disappeared, which made us more certain still that it was natives. Intend spelling the camels for a few days to recruit them; one on arrival was completely done up and none of the others looking very sprightly.

Monday, October 21.

Up in good time; before starting for the grave went round the lake, taking Mr. Hodgkinson with me to see if natives were really on lake, as I did not intend saddling the camels today if there were no natives here, intending to leave our camp unprotected, rather unwise, but being so short of hands could not help it, the grave being much out of sight. Found no natives round the lake nor any very recent traces saving that some of the trees were still burning that they (when here last) had lighted. We started at once for the grave, taking a canteen of water with us and all the arms. On arrival removed the earth carefully and close to the top of the ground found the body of a European enveloped in a flannel shirt with short sleeves, a piece of the breast of which I have taken; the flesh I may say completely cleared from the bones, and very little hair but what must have been decomposed; what little there was I have taken. Description of body, skull, etc: marked with slight sabre cuts, apparently two in number, one immediately over the left eye, the other on the right temple, inclining over right ear, more deep than the left. Decayed teeth existed on both sides of lower jaw and right of upper; the other teeth were entire and sound. In the lower jaw were two teeth, one on each side (four between in front) rather projecting as is sometimes called in the upper jaw buck teeth. I have measured the bones of the thigh and leg, as well as the arm, with a cord, not having any other method of doing it. Gathered all the bones together and buried them again, cutting a lot of boughs and other wood, and putting over top of the earth. Body lies with head south, feet north, lying on face, head severed from body. On a small tree, immediately south, we marked MK Oct. 21, ’61. Immediately this was over we questioned the native further on the subject of his death. He says he was killed by a stroke from what the natives use as a sword (an instrument of semicircular form) five to eight feet long and very formidable. He showed us where the whites had been in camp when attacked. We saw lots of fish bones but no evidence then on the trees to suppose whites had been there. They had certainly chosen a very bad camp in the centre of a box scrub with native huts within 150 to 200 yards of them. On further examination we found the dung of camels and horse or horses, evidently tied up a long time ago. Between that and the grave we found another grave, evidently dug with a spade or shovel, and a lot of human hair of two colours, that had become decomposed, on the skin of the skull, and fallen off in flakes–some of which I have also taken. I fancy they must all have been murdered here; dug out the new-formed grave with a stick (the only instrument we had) but found no remains of bodies save one little bone. The black accounted for this in this manner, he says they had eaten them. Found in an old fireplace immediately adjoining what appeared to be bones very well burned, but not in any quantity. In and about the last grave named a piece of light blue tweed and fragments of paper and small pieces of a Nautical Almanac were found, and an exploded Eley’s cartridge. No appearance on any of the trees of bullet marks as if a struggle had taken place. On a further examination of the blacks’ camp where the pint pot was found there was also found a tin canteen, similar to what is used for keeping naphtha in, or some such stuff, both of which we keep. The native says that any memos the whites had are back on the last camp we were at on the lake, with the natives, as well as the ironwork of saddles which on our return we mean to endeavour to recover if the blacks can be found; it may be rash but there is necessity for it. I intend before returning to have a further search. No natives yet seen here.

Tuesday, October 22.

Breakfasted and are just about to get in the horses to have a further search when the natives make their appearance within half a mile of us, making for some of their old huts. Immediately on observing us made off at full speed. Mounted the horses and soon overtook one fellow in much fear. In the pursuit the blackfellow with us was thrown from his horse; the horse followed and came up with us just as we pulled the frightened fellow up. Immediately after our blackfellow came up, mounted his horse, and requested us at once to shoot the savage, as he knew him to be one of the murderers of the man or party; but we declined, thinking we might be able to glean something of the others from him. On taking him back from where we caught him to the camp, he brought us to a camp (old) of the natives, and there dug up a quantity of baked horsehair for saddle stuffing. He says everything of the saddlery was burned, the ironwork kept and the other bodies eaten–a sad end of the poor fellows. He stated that there is a pistol north-east of us at a creek which I have sent him to fetch; and a rifle or gun at the lake we last passed which, with the other articles, we will endeavour to recover. Exceedingly hot; windy and looks as if it would rain. The natives describe the country from south to north of east as being destitute of water or creeks, which I afterwards found cause to doubt. I have marked a tree here on north side MK Oct. 22, ’61; west side, Dig 1 ft.; where I will bury a memo in case anyone should see my tracks, that they may know the fate of the party we are in search of. There are tens of thousands of the flock pigeon here; in fact since we came north of Lake Torrens they have been very numerous and at same time very wary. Mr. Hodgkinson has been very successful in killing as many of them as we can use, mixed with a little bacon. Before the native went to fetch the pistol he displayed on his body, both before and behind, the marks of ball and shot wounds now quite healed. One ball inside of left knee so disabled him that he had to be carried about (as he states) for some considerable time; he has also the mark of a pistol bullet on right collarbone; and on his breast a number of shot–some now in the flesh but healed. His family, consisting of four lubras and two boys, remained close to our camp awaiting his return, which he said (from pointing to the sun) would be 10 or 11 o’clock next day. When called at twenty minutes to 11 p.m. to take my watch, I had not been on duty ten minutes when I observed a signal fire in the direction he had gone, about six miles distant, and wondered he did not make his appearance, but all was quiet for the rest of the night, excepting that at intervals the fire was replenished.

Wednesday, October 23.

4 a.m. Just as we were getting up, not very clear yet, headed by the fellow I yesterday sent for the pistol, came about forty others bearing torches, shields, etc. etc. etc., shouting and kicking up a great noise and evidently endeavouring to surround us. I immediately ordered them back, also telling the native that was with me to tell them that if they did not keep back I would fire upon them, which they one and all disregarded–some were then within a few paces of us, the others at various other distances. I requested Hodgkinson and Middleton to be ready with their arms and fire when desired. Seeing nothing else left but to be butchered ourselves, I gave the word Fire. A few of those closest retired a few paces and were being encouraged on to the attack when we repeated our fire; and until several rounds were fired into them (and no doubt many felt the effects) they did not wholly retire. I am afraid the messenger, the greatest vagabond of the lot, escaped scathless. They then took to the lake, and a few came round the western side of it, southward, whom we favoured with a few dropping shots to show the danger they were in by the distance the rifles would carry on the water. They then cleared off and we finished with them. I then buried the memo for any person that might happen to follow my footsteps, at the same time informing them to beware of the natives as we had, in self-defence, to fire upon them. I have no doubt, from the manner they came up, that they at once considered us an easy prey; but I fancy they miscalculated and I hope it may prove a useful lesson to them in future. Got breakfast ready and over without further molestation and started at 10.30 on a bearing of 197 degrees. At 11.15 reached a recently-flooded richly-grassed flat, surrounded by a margin of trees; the main bulk of it lying south of our course; thence bearing 202 degrees, stopping twenty minutes for camels; and proceeding and at 12.30 crossing north-west end of another dry lake or grassed and clovered flat similar to the other. At 1.20 made a large box creek with occasional gums, about from fifty to sixty yards wide and eighteen to twenty feet deep, sandy bottom, where we struck it perfectly dry where a stream flows to west of north with immense side creeks (I fancy Cooper’s Creek is a branch of it); followed its bed in its course northward and at 2 p.m. reached a waterhole with no very considerable quantity of water. Watered the camels and horses. This creek is named Werridi Marara. From thence Lake Buchanan bears 232 degrees 30 minutes; Kadhiberri 41 degrees; Lake Mooliondhurunnie 296 degrees. Crossed the creek and went on a bearing of 215 degrees 30 minutes till 6 p.m., striking same creek and following its bed (dry) for about two miles and reached Dharannie Creek; a little indifferent water in its bed, very steep banks (about thirty feet high) and sixty yards broad. The bed of the creek from where we struck it at 6 p.m. was chiefly rocky or conglomerate stone resembling burned limestone.

Thursday, October 24.

Left at 7.15 bearing 215 degrees; travelling one hour and twenty minutes over splendid grassy flats with low intervening sand-ridges. At five minutes to ten made Arannie, a recently-dried lake (abundance of clover and grasses) three miles long by one broad, at rightangles to our course, and struck it quarter of a mile from its northern extremity. At 10.22 made Ityamudkie, another recently-dried lake; plenty of luxuriant feed. At ten minutes to 11 reached its western border at a creek called Antiwocarra, with no great quantity of water, flowing from 320 degrees. At 1 p.m. left Antiwocarra. At five minutes to 2 made a large flooded flat, recently under water, with a great abundance of clover and grasses reaching as far as the eye can trace. At rightangles to our course at 2.15 reached its western border, and at 2.25 reached the depot at Lake Buchanan or Cudye-cudyena–the place where I directed the camp to be shifted to–and found everything in good order, much to my satisfaction. My black female messengers it appears did not go back at once to our camp with the note I gave them, and consequently they did not get here till Sunday.

Friday, October 25.

At camp very much the appearance of rain but none has fallen. Clearing off any heavy trees round our camp that could be used by natives as places of concealment. Have made up my mind to send a party into the settled districts as far as Blanchewater with such information regarding the object of my search and as much general information as is in my power, with copy of journal and tracing showing our route, which Mr. Hodgkinson will be better able to do neatly at Blanchewater than here in the tents; although he has made here on the spot such a one as would give a very good idea of all that is necessary. No part of this country has had any rain for very many months; the grasses and herbage generally on the hilly ground being like tinder. If it had an ordinary share it would be an excellent healthy stock country. From the numbers of natives and their excellent condition I am satisfied that many lakes and creeks in this part are permanent; and as I mean to give it a good look over I have come to the conclusion that I will require a further supply of flour, tea, sugar, and a few little et ceteras, and will therefore send horses with the party that goes to Blanchewater under the guidance of Mr. Hodgkinson to bring up additional supplies, trusting to get them there, and at the same time hoping this course may meet the approbation of the Government; for in so doing I adopt the course I would pursue on my own account and therefore do it on theirs. The men are in excellent health and good spirits, and the animals except the camels (they cannot stand the heavy hills of sand if at all hot, which it was on our last trip) are all in good condition–many of them much better than when we left Adelaide. The wind is blowing from all parts of the compass but rather cool. For days previous it kept from the north and generally very hot indeed. As yet no rare specimens obtained of birds, animals, or anything else.

Saturday, October 26.

Threatens very much for rain; very sultry; sun overcast; and wind from every quarter except north. Will start Mr. Hodgkinson, Bell, Wylde, and Jack (the native) on Monday 28th October if nothing comes in the way, and will request Mr. Hodgkinson to endeavour to procure a native that can speak the language of the natives here; as those we have got do not know one word nor, on the contrary, do the natives here understand them. They all circumcise and principally knock out the two front teeth of the upper jaw. After all the threatening for rain the day has closed without any.

Sunday, October 27.

Wind south and sultry; everything ready for the return party making a start tomorrow; I expect them to be absent about three weeks. I am sorry so much time should be lost; however should any rain fall ere they return I will go over to Cooper’s Creek Depot; but the country is so exceedingly dry in this region at present that, unless I can make out to hit upon those places where water has been left by the last flood, it would be quite impossible to travel with anything like safety. Not a single quart of water (surface left by rain) has been fallen in with since we left Lake Torrens; and I question very much (from my knowledge of the Darling country) whether Mr. Howitt has been able to push his way out as far as Cooper’s Creek yet for the want of rain, and am almost satisfied in my own mind that Burke and party either reached the north coast, or at all events went a very long way out, on a bearing of (firstly by account of the natives) 311 1/2 degrees to or passing a salt lake or watercourse (perhaps then fresh) where the natives report that the whites killed their horse. They call the place Beitiriemalunie; there is also another lake, salt now (perhaps then fresh) called Baramberrany. They gave no particular intelligence as to the camels save mimicking their awkward way of travelling with their heads thrown back. A bearing of 311 1/2 degrees would take them near to Eyre’s Creek; and I have no doubt that at that time Burke and party went out from Cooper’s Creek (in December last) they would have to contend with too much water instead of the want of it, as they must have travelled out of their way, very many miles often, to pass the immense basins, swamps, and watercourses (boggy) that must have come in their line of travel; and at that time all this country, perhaps to Stuart’s line of route, could have been thoroughly examined, as I can see in many places large watercourses in the direction; and my belief is that Burke’s party were massacred on their return by their outward route, and by one of their old camps. Whether they were all slaughtered or not it is impossible to say from the traces and the considerable time that has elapsed since they were killed. I will endeavour to examine the country all round this locality for further traces of the party and camels; and on return of my party, if not before, will push out a scouting party towards Eyre’s Creek and that quarter. I retain the two tins found near the scene of the disaster. This for the present brings my journal to a close.


* * *



October 23rd, 1861.



I reached this water on the 19th instant, and by means of a native guide discovered a European camp one mile north, on west side of flat. At or near this camp traces of horses, camels, and whites were found. Hair, apparently belonging to Mr. Wills, Charles Gray, and Mr. Burke or King, was picked from the surface of a grave dug by a spade, and from the skull of a European buried by the natives. Other less important traces–such as a pannican, oil can, saddle stuffing, etc., have been found. Beware of the natives; upon whom we have had to fire. We do not intend to return to Adelaide, but proceed to west of north. From information, all Burke’s party were killed and eaten.

I have, etc., JOHN MCKINLAY.

P.S. All the party in good health. If you had any difficulty in reaching this spot, and wish to return to Adelaide by a more practicable route, you may do so for at least three months to come by driving west for eighteen miles, then south of west, cutting our dray track within thirty miles. Abundance of water, and feed at easy stages.

* * *


(The preceding portion having been forwarded to Adelaide in October, 1861.)

Monday, October 28.

At 2.45 p.m. started Mr. Hodgkinson, Bell, Wylde, and Jack (native) with four saddle-horses and twelve packhorses and saddles. Weather sultry, sky overcast. Between 9 and 10 p.m. a heavy gale of wind from west, with a good deal of thunder and lightning, which blew our encampment quickly to the ground, after which we had a few squally showers from same quarter, but nothing of any consequence; towards morning the wind quite lulled.

Tuesday, October 29.

Wind variable from north-west to south, and very cloudy, in expectation of more rain; about 10 p.m. a native signal-fire south of this some distance. Have seen none since my return–no great loss; none have made their appearance during the night.

Wednesday, October 30.

At daylight quite a calm; then at 6 a.m. wind from south, then south-east, then east, with a beautiful clear sky and the air very agreeable. During the afternoon wind back to south and then a fresh westerly breeze. Native dogs rather troublesome, lay baits with strychnine.

Thursday, October 31.

At daylight found three baits gone and found close by two dead dogs. Unpacking cart to put wheels in order, being rather loose, when one of the baits fell from limb of tree, where for the time they were put, and unfortunately our poor dog discovered it and ate it, and in a few moments was dead. Wind as yesterday. Sowed some melon (pie), pumpkins, orange pips, apricot, peach, and plum stones. During the night a native signal-fire seen south.

Friday, November 1.

Wind westerly and strong and lots of light fleecy clouds. About 9 a.m. the native Bullingani, who was out with me, came into camp alone, having disappeared the evening of my return from Kadhibaerri. I wish he understood a little English as then he would be of much service.

Saturday, November 2.

Wind westerly round to south and east during the day, afternoon very strong westerly. Rode out today to the highest sandhill south-east and round to west and north-west of the lake I am now on to see if any likelihood of water to the east, west, or north-west; found a good deal in a creek running northerly on west side of lake and beyond it; returned by west side of lake. The native went away this afternoon, promising to be back tomorrow.

Sunday, November 3.

Very strong west wind but cool and agreeable. Native not returned.

Monday, November 4.

In the morning wind light from south, veered round to east; blew strong but cool. From the termination of the trees on creek that fills this lake Anlaby Hill bears 165 degrees; patiently awaiting a good shower to enable me to get to Cooper’s Creek Depot to ascertain if any further traces of Burke’s party or his camels are there visible, or if Mr. Howitt’s party have arrived. On my way out on Saturday about two miles from here found dung of horses or mules, of some considerable age, and on my return to the camp one of the men a short distance from the camp picked up part of a hobble-strap with black buckle, much worn and had been patched, or rather sewn, by someone as a makeshift; the leather was perfectly rotten. No traces on any of the trees round here of anyone having been encamped. The flies all along have been a thorough plague; fortunately, and strange to say, we have had no mosquitoes, but thousands of small gnats take their place, and find their way into everything. Our native Bullingani not returned. I hardly expected him as he did not seem inclined to give any further information either as to water or any other subject. He says they are mustering about fifteen miles south of this for a grand (weima) or corroberrie, and informs me that they are gathering in from all quarters, so that I hardly like to weaken the camp here by taking one of the men away with me. I have generally seen at the break up of those great meetings that if they can manage it they in some way or other do mischief, and unless I see a peaceable dispersion of these people I will not move far away, at least for not longer than a day or two.

Tuesday, November 5.

Wind west; during the day round to south and east; temperature mild. A few natives made their appearance on the north-west side of the lake some distance off; towards afternoon four of their young men came to the opposite side. I sent for them and they came over and had some dinner; after a few questions about waters, etc. etc., they took their leave southward, the way no doubt the rest of their tribe had gone.

Wednesday, November 6.

Wind east in gusts and cloudy; in afternoon blew strong. Temperature very agreeable.

Thursday, November 7.

Wind during the night and at daylight blew very strong from the east, towards noon it moderated; sky much clouded but I suppose up here it will all blow past without any rain, although it appears to be falling in the east. Wind round to south-east and south during afternoon with every appearance of rain.

Friday, November 8.

No rain during the night but it was very mild and close; wind south-east with a few clouds but with very little appearance of rain. Anxious to find water about a day’s stage eastward of depot; started out for that purpose east three-quarters of a mile to top of sandhill close by; then on a bearing of 118 degrees for large sandhill at quarter of a mile. Entered a well-grassed flooded flat for about two miles, and at about one and a quarter miles further arrived at sandhill. About two miles south-south-east is the grassy bed of a fine lake now dry, unless there may be a little water in the creek at the south-east end of it. Not seeing anything in the appearance of the country to indicate the presence of water on this course, I started on a bearing of 68 degrees over sandhills, and at two miles came to very cracked flooded flats, and continued on them for four and a half miles, and at one and a half miles further came to a long salty swamp running nearly north and south, a desolate spot; then a sand rise and another of the same. Changed course then to 90 degrees over sandhills; at seven miles long flooded grassed flat, north to south; then sandhill; at eight miles came to an immense flooded flat, north to south, with great width at its northern end. At two and three-quarter miles further came to top of very high sandhill, and close under (east) an immense dry salt lake or very large flat. From this there is the appearance of a large lake northward, bearing 12 degrees 20 minutes; it may be mirage, but I have observed it further back on the day’s stage, and from top of the highest hills it looks more like water than mirage, and will therefore start for it, and if I find it is water, it will suit my purpose as a stage on my intended journey to Cooper’s Creek on the arrival of the party now absent at Blanchewater. For the first three miles over sand-ridges, then over cracked flooded flats (grassless) for four miles, a box or gum creek on my right running northward and southward. At the end of this distance I am satisfied that I have been deceived; and as the day has been very hot and my horse appears to be ill I will shape my course for the camp. Started at ten minutes to 4 p.m.; find my horse thoroughly done up with, it appears, dysentery, and am obliged to camp on top of large sandhill at 6.50 p.m.; not a breath of wind and smoking hot. I chose this for a camp that I may be enabled at daylight to see if there are any waters within range of sight.

Saturday, November 9.

At daylight have a splendid view of the country round but not the slightest appearance of water anywhere; start at 4 a.m. and I scarcely think from the look of the horse that he will be able to take me in. I never in so short a time saw an animal fall away so much. At 7 a.m. struck the tracks of our horses and camels as we returned from Cadhibaerri and followed them to camp. They led a little more to the south than my course, as I now find that would take me out on the lake camp about two miles north of camp. At about 8.10 a.m. got to camp, the horse very seedy and myself not feeling very well. Some natives visited the camp during my absence and I now see some on the opposite side of lake. I sent for one to endeavour to get some information from him. They had started off for our old camp before the messenger arrived but he followed and one of them came back and stopped the night. I mean to take him out east if he stops. I am getting very unwell from dysentery. Wind strong from the north and very disagreeable.

Sunday, November 10.

Very unwell today; fortunately we have plenty of medicine. Wind moderate from north-east to east and south-east. The native visitor, under pretence of going to bring a net from the opposite side of the lake, took French leave. I dare say when well I shall be able to get another.

Monday, November 11.

Worse rather than better today. To add to my misfortunes I have got my right knee and back tendons become very stiff and painful, so much so that I can hardly move. Very cloudy; wind changeable from north-east to south-east.

Tuesday, November 12.

Wind strong from east and south-east. Little better today but leg equally sore and stiff. Getting the cartwheels wedged and put to rights. From the awful torment of the flies, the horses, although on magnificent feed, are not in anything like the same condition as they were ten days ago; to endeavour to escape them they go into the lake, and remain there for hours at a stretch, lying down in the water and occasionally ducking their heads under but to no purpose. Killed a sheep as the part of the last one that was not jerked got putrid during next day and had to be thrown away. Am sorry also that the sausages, after dragging them so far, after all have to be thrown away, being perfectly unfit for use; had they been good they would have been a splendid thing. We find the bacon an excellent standby. Threatens much for rain.

Wednesday, November 13.

Rain blown off. Much better today. Wind very strong from east and particularly cold, so much so that I can keep my coat on and not feel inconvenienced by it; whereas before one’s shirt was sufficient. Wind chopped round in the evening to south, pretty strong.

Thursday, November 14.

Getting quite well again but knee quite stiff and painful. Very cold during the night and at daylight quite ready for a topcoat. Wind strong from east; moderated at noon and got warm. It is quite a pleasure to see how well the bullocks are freshening; some indeed fit to kill; they don’t seem to suffer so much from the flies as the horses or camels. Two of the latter (the Melbourne ones) had their backs slightly bruised and, although constantly attended to, take a very long time to recover.

Friday, November 15.

Wind east at daylight. Thermometer stood at 54 degrees; this is lower than I thought it would have been and the morning is not anything like so cold as yesterday morning. I will notice the temperature during the rest of our stay here. At five in the afternoon it stood at 100 degrees. Bullingani and his two lubras came to the camp accompanied by another native of Lake Perrigundi.

Saturday, November 16.

Wind east at daylight; thermometer, 63 degrees; breeze very moderate; at noon died away to a calm. At 2 p.m. thermometer in sun 140 degrees; at 6 p.m. 106 degrees in the sun. Some natives opposite fishing in the lake; one here busy making a net from the rushy grass that abounds round the lake. At sunset quite a calm.

Sunday, November 17.

Quite a calm at daylight; temperature in open air 68 degrees; at 8 a.m. slight breeze from north, thermometer in sun 118 degrees; at 10 a.m. 136 degrees; at noon 160 degrees with wind from north-west with a number of thunder-looking clouds. At sunset temperature 97 degrees; still cloudy. A further arrival of natives on opposite side of lake.

Monday, November 18.

At daylight calm; temperature 73 degrees in open air. At 10 a.m. temperature 143 degrees in the sun out of the wind; wind from north to north-west. A number of natives arrived this morning. At twenty minutes to 11 a.m. temperature 154 degrees; at noon cool breeze temperature 146 degrees; at sunset light breeze from north-west, temperature 102 degrees. Anxiously expecting the party under Mr. Hodgkinson.

Tuesday, November 19.

Wind north at daylight; temperature 77 degrees in open air; up till noon blew strong. Temperature at noon in sun out of the breeze 136 degrees. At sunset wind moderated; heavy clouds from south-east round by south-west to north. At 9 p.m. temperature 96 degrees. At 12 blew a strong gale from south-east accompanied by a very little rain. A good deal of lightning and a little thunder from the southward of west, round west and north of west and apparently raining.

Wednesday, November 20.

Wind working round from south of east to north of east. At 6 a.m. temperature 84 degrees; very cloudy and threatens much for rain–perhaps when the wind moderates we may have a fall. For the last few days Middleton has been laid up with a very bad sore ulcerated throat but is now nearly recovered. I am now quite recovered and anxiously awaiting the return of Mr. Hodgkinson’s party that I may be enabled to start for Cooper’s Creek by a route a little more to the southward than when I tried when last out. At 1 p.m. wind fallen and changed to west-north-west; temperature 98 degrees. Wind suddenly chopped round by west to south from which quarter till dark it blew quite a gale, causing the lake to recede about 600 yards further north. Highest temperature during afternoon 105 degrees; at 7 p.m. 90 degrees. It looks exceedingly like rain and very boisterous. Mr. Hodgkinson’s party not yet arrived. At midnight a few drops of rain with the high wind.

Thursday, November 21.

Quite a calm, the sky completely overcast; whether it will rain or not remains to be seen. The water in the lake has returned to its old bed. Temperature at daylight 85 degrees. From a long conversation I had with a native yesterday, who came to the camp, I am led to believe that only one of the whites was murdered at Lake Cadhibaerri at the time of the attack upon them by the natives there. On the return of the party from the north-west they repulsed the natives, killing some and wounding others; the party buried their comrade and marched southward. The natives, on seeing that the whites had proceeded onwards, immediately returned to the scene of the disaster, dug up the body, cut off all the principal muscular parts, and feasted upon their revolting repast. So minutely does this native know all their movements that he has described to me all the waters they passed and others at which they camped, and waters that they remained at for some time, subsisting on a sort of vetch seed that the natives principally use here for food, and obtained in large quantities on many of the flooded flats by sweeping it into heaps, then winnowing it, then grinding or pounding it between two stones, then mixing it with water into the consistency of damper, and finally making a cake and putting it into the ashes the same way as damper–when cooked and fit for use it tastes rather strong, but no doubt they could live upon it for a long time as it must be wholesome. That, with the game and fish they could get from the waters of the creeks and lakes, would keep them alive very well if they did not further attempt to make their way to the Darling (which the native says they did) but I hope soon to see and trust they have not attempted to do so. If they have not done so, and that they are alive and escaped the natives, their relief is certain. One thing I cannot arrive at is how long or how many moons it is since they were attacked at Lake Cadhibaerri, as I then could form a much more accurate idea of the truthfulness or otherwise of the native’s statements; but it must be some considerable time as the body I found was perfectly decomposed, and on the skull even there was not a particle of skin, but as bare as if it had lain in a grave for years. A slight shower this afternoon, hardly sufficient to wet one’s shirt. Temperature highest during the day 104 degrees, very close and disagreeable; at sunset temperature 88 degrees, heavy clouds all round, not a breath of wind. Hodgkinson’s party not yet arrived. If he does not come within the next two days I shall feel very uneasy. Had a visit from about a score of natives, some of them from the north-east, other two from the west-north-west about the stony desert, as they describe an abundance of stones in that quarter. Wind from south-east to south, during the night a very little rain.

Friday, November 22.

Daylight quite cloudy and like rain. Temperature 82 degrees, wind chopping all round; at noon south and north of west. Temperature 142 degrees and still a cool breeze blowing; sunset temperature 90 degrees, wind southward and strong. No appearance of Hodgkinson and party. The natives in a great stir here tonight about something–about a dozen of them crossed the lake to us after dark, wishing to camp near for the night; but as I did not approve of their movements in the evening immediately sent them off again.

Saturday, November 23.

At daylight wind strong from the east; temperature 80 degrees, at 5.30 a.m. blew quite a gale from south, the sky quite overcast and in every other part of the country would make preparations for a heavy fall of rain, but I have seen so much of this here that I don’t expect rain till I see it. Temperature noon 110 degrees, rain all blown past; at sunset wind still strong from south; temperature 84 degrees. No appearance of Hodgkinson’s party. Natives assembling in great numbers on this lake–distributed some beads, bracelets, and other trinkets amongst them, at which they seemed much pleased.

Sunday, November 24.

Wind south-east beautifully cool; temperature at sunrise 63 degrees; at noon in shade 84 degrees; at sunset wind south, temperature 76 degrees; cloudy. Hodgkinson not arrived.

Monday, November 25.

At 1.30 a.m. temperature 62 degrees; at sunrise temperature 58 degrees, wind east-south-east, beautifully cool; at noon temperature 106 degrees in the sun and wind; at sundown 82 degrees, gentle breeze.

Tuesday, November 26.

Wind east, at sunrise temperature 63 degrees; at noon in the shade temperature 79 degrees, very light breeze: temperature at 2.30 p.m. 110 degrees, wind west-north-west and cool; at sunset temperature 90 degrees, calm. No appearance of the party from Blanchewater.

Wednesday, November 27.

Calm at sunrise, temperature 60 degrees; at 9 a.m. 116 degrees in the sun; at 1 p.m. 118 degrees. Got the horses in the forenoon and went east three and a half miles; first three-quarters of a mile over sandhills, rest of the way over flooded ground to Goderannie Creek; not much water now; then to Palcooraganny. At present this is the dry bed of a small lake with plenty of dry clover and grasses in the dry bed. On the north-east side of the lake is a well dug by the natives about ten to eleven feet deep with about one foot of water at present in it and good. I suppose a considerable quantity could be had if the hole were enlarged. Close by there was an encampment of blacks, in all about a dozen, not the same apparent well-fed fellows that frequent the lakes and main creeks. From enquiry it appears that during the dry season this is the sort of water they have to depend upon, and I think the wells are few and far between. A high sandhill was some little distance off and to it I went; from the top of which I had an extensive view. Could see nothing northward and westward but a jumble of lower sandhills looking very dreary without even a creek with its timber to break the monotony of the view. From the top of the hill there was water at a distance of one and a half to one and three-quarter miles. Depot about sixteen miles distant. Goderannie Creek is deep, with abundance of fish of various sorts, and drains all the creeks that fill our depot lake, and the creek to the west of the lake over the sandhills. Started the blackfellows and whites to dig a well close by the depot before I went away this morning. At eight feet eight inches struck water (good). Will deepen it tomorrow and see what supply would be likely to be had if necessity would require it. Party not yet returned; feel quite uneasy about them but suppose they did not get what they were sent for as soon as they expected.

Thursday, November 28.

At daylight wind strong from south-south-east, at sunrise temperature 63 degrees. Enlarging and deepening the well. Temperature at noon in the sun and wind 106 degrees; at sunset 73 degrees. Finished the well, now being nine feet six inches deep, three and a half feet broad and five feet long. For the first four feet it was a mixture of light-coloured clay and fine sand, next three and a half feet was a mixture of gypsum and blue clay, next to bottom a little clay mixed with chiefly fine sand, then the water seemed to come in from all quarters. Party not yet arrived–exceedingly anxious about them.

Friday, November 29.

Wind south-south-east and cool at sunrise, temperature 54 degrees, being much lower than we have had it except once. There is a depth of ten inches of water in the well during twelve hours. At 7.30 a.m. two natives arrived on opposite side of the lake, bringing the joyous tidings that the party under charge of Mr. Hodgkinson had camped at a creek called Keradinti about eight miles from this last night, so that I expect them every hour–I was heartily glad to hear of them. At 9.30 a.m. Mr. Hodgkinson and party arrived safe, for which I was truly thankful; I was afraid something had happened to them from their apparent long absence. I am sorry that the native Jack, that accompanied them from this, deserted about the inner stations, having heard some idle report of something having happened to the party here. Mr. Hodgkinson has brought back with him nearly everything I required. By him I also received some Adelaide papers in which were some Melbourne telegrams, one of which announced the rescue by Mr. Howitt of one of Burke’s party, King, so that I have been deceived as to appearances at Lake Cadhibaerri respecting the different colours of hair found. Still I am under the impression that when Burke’s diary is published that it will show of some affray with the natives about that place, or they would not have acted towards us when there as they did. By receipt of such intelligence, and that now the whole of the unfortunate party are accounted for, it renders my journey to Cooper’s Creek, as I intended, useless for any purpose of relief. Had they on their arrival from the north coast at Cooper’s Creek depot only pushed westward this length they could, with the greatest ease to themselves, have made the Adelaide stations. I am quite surprised that they could not get south by Strzelecki’s Creek, being under the impression that two-thirds of the water of Cooper’s Creek was drained off by that watercourse southward. My impression from observation here is that a very great portion of the waters of Cooper’s Creek is drained northwards from this. Before leaving this it is my intention to push eastward some distance to ascertain the character of the country, and on my return to push westward for some distance to ascertain if the stony desert exists so far southward as this; I will then proceed northward and examine the waters reported by the natives to exist in that quarter, and ascertain if they are likely to be of permanent use to South Australia. From them I shall be entirely guided by the appearance of the country there as to my future movements. I am now satisfied that water can be had by digging. By the time I return from the east and westward the horses that have been down to the settled districts will have so far recovered from their fatigue, and be again able to proceed northward. At 5 p.m. depth of water in the well fifteen and a half inches, the water very hard and clear, quite the opposite of the lake, which is very soft and rather milky in colour. Mr. Hodgkinson, since he has been absent, has had a severe attack of illness brought on, I believe, by injury sustained from a pummelling he received at Apoinga, near the Burra, from one of the camels, Siva, who at that time was very unruly and inclined to be vicious. He has repeatedly complained and even now is not at all the thing. I trust he will thoroughly recover as he is a very energetic little fellow and the want of his services would be a considerable loss to me on my coming journey. Highest temperature during day 120 degrees.

Saturday, November 30.

Wind south-south-east. Temperature at sunrise 70 degrees; depth of water in the well at 5 a.m. eighteen and a quarter inches. Temperature at noon 99 degrees in the sun and wind. Temperature at sunset 84 degrees; wind west of south a little cloudy; so it was last night.

Sunday, December 1.

A little rain during the night but not enough to wet a sheet of paper. At sunrise temperature 70 degrees, calm. At noon slight breeze southerly; temperature 110 degrees. Found suspended the spring of one of Terry’s breech-loading rifles round the neck of a native; he describes the remaining portions of the rifle out to the north-east, which will be nearly in our north course. Highest temperature during the afternoon in the sun 129 degrees; at sunset 99 degrees.

Monday, December 2.

Wind south-south-east, temperature at sunrise 77 degrees; sky completely overcast. Start out eastward to examine the country with two camels, five horses, and sufficient food for one and a half weeks, taking with me Middleton, Poole, Frank (a native), and a native of this place. My main object in going out now is firstly to ascertain if there is a likelihood of a flood down Cooper’s Creek this season, after all the rain that has fallen along the eastern side of the continent some months back, and which I thought possible might have fallen as well on and to west of coast range, so to secure to us an open retreat in the event of our being able to make some considerable advance northward, and being detained some time. And secondly to ascertain if anyone was as yet stationed on Cooper’s Creek, to intimate to them my intentions of proceeding northward for some distance, and the almost certainty of crossing any track of either of the search parties from the northern coast could possibly make en route to Cooper’s Creek or even Eyre’s Creek. Started at 9.15 a.m., and passed through nothing but sandhill and flooded flat country till 3 p.m., and arrived at Tac Wilten Creek, containing little water but drinkable. For the first few miles the sandhills were further apart with, in the interval, salt-bush and grassy flats. Watered the horses and camels; crossed the creek, passed up the south side; crossed a sandhill; crossed the creek, went a short distance to north side of creek; recrossed it and went up south side to water. This is a long narrow strip of water, not deep and drying up fast. A number of natives here. Crossed creek again and went to Aunrinnie; arrived at north-east end of water and crossed creek at 4.30 p.m. Distance about twenty-five miles. The water here although enough is quite unfit for use, the horses and camels refusing it; but there is good green feed in the flat.

Tuesday, December 3.

Started at 8 a.m.; passed over sandhills till 8.43 and made large lake, dry, Cullamun by name, destitute of vegetation and no margin of trees; passed over sandhills and flooded flat to a creek very broad, deep, and well defined by timber, and trending northward; not much water at present, good here but unfit for use above and below, like that of last night; creek called Agaboogana. Distance about eight miles. I went there rather out of my course to water the camels, being the nearest in going anything like the course I wished; passed sandhills through south end of large dry lake at 11.22, and again sandhills; then through large flooded swamp, Narrogoonnoo Mooku, with no marginal trees; southern end a good deal of cane grass; then again sandhills till 12.46; then large cracked flooded plain, Wandrabrinnannie, till arrived at a creek with no water; crossed and rode up creek on south side to east of north to Barka Water, no feed; got down into the bed of the creek and rode up about three-quarters of a mile to a water called Moollaney, pretty good; no great quantity and but little feed. Total distance about twenty-five miles. A lot of stones of a fruit found here, of a very ornamental little tree from six to fifteen feet high, which I have secured.

Wednesday, December 4.

At or rather before daylight Middleton, in attending to the camels, unfortunately got his foot seriously injured by a considerable-sized stick which was stuck in the ground; its end penetrating deeply into the foot as he was returning to the camp down the steep bank. I am afraid I will have to return with him; I have pulled out several ragged pieces of wood from the wound; a lot of small tendons protrude. I will try one day up the creek and see if he can stand it. Started at 9.40 leaving creek on right; crossed small flooded flat to sandhill; then good low sandhills, firm travelling; passed a water called Appomoremillia, about one and a half miles to our right in the creek. Crossed creek in the centre of a cracked flooded flat bearing to the north by west; passed over sandhills and a heavy flooded cracked and timbered flat in which is a creek bearing north-east with sandy hillocks and native wurlies. Bore south to creek Goonnooboorroo with little water. Distance about sixteen miles today. Middleton’s foot pains him much.

Thursday, December 5.

Obliged to camp with Middleton. On a large gum tree marked MK (conjoined) Dec. 4, 5, 1861. One large creek comes in here from the south; and immediately below this about 100 yards another from same quarter. Bronze-wing and crested pigeons here; also some beautiful parrots, black ducks, teal, whistlers, painted widgeons, and wood-duck in small number; also parakeets and quail. Some dry grass here on top of banks up to my waist; further out there is some good tussocky grasses and there has been plenty oats. Secured seeds from the bean tree and the stones of the fruit before alluded to. Fish in water here, although there is only a small quantity and drying up fast. In looking for the horses in the morning up the main creek found, about three-quarters of a mile from this, where Burke had camped in the bed and had dug for water. From the appearance of their camp and quantity of camel dung he slept more than one night here. I think when they camped there there was water both below and above; it is now quite dry however. A small quantity of sewing twine was found at this camp.

Friday, December 6.

Middleton’s foot a little easier; thought of returning as he is quite unfit for work, but have made up my mind now to go on and ascertain the facts I went out to obtain. I therefore started at 8.25 a.m. for the upper waters of the creek, keeping on the south bank; crossed several creeks until 12 o’clock, when we found in the camp, a little above Pardulli, a gum tree marked W.J. Wills, N.N.W., xlv. yds., A.H. Turned out our horses here for some time; between the last crossing of the creek and this I got a view of a couple of red sand bluffs and distant sandhills, or hills of some kind, to north-west. Started from Wills’s grave at 4.10 and crossed creek; struck the creek again at 5.35 with plenty of water to Howitt’s camp, xxxii.; thence on to Burke’s grave, striking dry creek and following it to Yarrowanda; arrived here at 7.10 p.m.

Saturday, December 7.

Started at 7.7 a.m. and came to Burke’s grave–about two miles on south bank of creek. On the north-east side of a box tree, at upper end of waterhole, native name Yaenimemgi, found marked on tree R.O’H.B., 21-9-61., A.H. Deposited a document in case of the return of any party. Saw a cobby horse on arrival here last night; tried to catch him. Saw the tracks of cattle up the creek, short distance from him; they had gone further up the creek to a water, Cullimuno. Spelled today.

Sunday, December 8.

Started back for camp; passed large numbers of natives; marked small gum sapling MK roughly; made for heavy creek that joins another at Strzelecki’s Creek, and camped at a water called Tacdurrie, a small water about two miles from Gooneborrow in the main creek. Distance travelled today about twenty-seven and a half miles.

* * *




I beg to state that I have had communication with Adelaide and have received papers from there intimating the relief of King, the only survivor of the Melbourne Gulf of Carpentaria party, and an announcement that the Melbourne Government were likely to have the remains of the late gentlemen removed from this creek to Melbourne, to receive a public burial and monument to their memory, and at the same time stating their intention of establishing a depot somewhere on this creek to await the arrival of one or other of the parties (in search of the late Burke and Wills) from Rockhampton, or the Albert, on the Gulf of Carpentaria.

I beg to state I am with my party stationed on a lake about eighty-five miles westerly of this; and immediately on my return there I start northward, and for the first part of my journey a little to east of north, and will, at every suitable camp on my route, bury documents conveying the intelligence meant to be conveyed to either of the parties, by the depot party likely to be formed here, of the fate of the late party; by which means they will be put in possession of the facts, and can return to the Albert or go on through to Adelaide. There is at present, and will be for some time to come, easy access to Adelaide by my route, which the wheel tracks of my cart have clearly defined.

By this means of intimation to the parties in question it will relieve the party to be stationed here from the necessity of passing a summer in this hot region. My course will intersect any course either of the parties out from the northward can make between Eyre’s Creek and the late Burke’s depot on this creek.

I beg to remain, Sir,

Your most obedient servant,


Leader of the S.A.B.R. Expedition.

* * *

Monday, December 9.

Started at 7.25 a.m.; followed creek down and passed Goonaboorroo waterhole; passed flooded cracked flats and sandhills to Molanny Creek. Distance travelled today seventeen miles.

Tuesday, December 10.

Started and crossed creek at 7.30 a.m., over sandhills, then through bed of large dry lake or swamp; name of swamp Wando Binannie; a good deal cracked and bad travelling. From thence through low sandhills, flooded box flats, steep sandhills; crossed Narro Dhaerrie swamp; crossed creek at east end of main water; this drying up fast. Crossed creek twice and camped on south side of lower end of Tac Welter.

Wednesday, December 11.

Started at 6.30; crossed creek and flat; over sandhills and flooded flat with large saltbush and polygonum; timber to the right and some samphire bushes; crossed my old single track, with alternate sandhills and cracked flooded flats, and arrived at our depot camp on Lake Buchanan at 11 a.m. Distance about nineteen miles.

Thursday, December 12.

Remain in camp; temperature at sunrise 68 degrees; wind east; 11.30 a.m., temperature 165 degrees in the sun out of the wind; very hot indeed and wind north-east; dead calm at 6 p.m.; temperature 100 degrees; sun overcast; temperature at sunset thermometer exposed to sun and wind 90 degrees.

Friday, December 13.

Dead calm at sunrise; temperature 64 degrees; at 7 a.m. wind north-east temperature 102 degrees; at 9.15 wind north temperature 150 degrees in the sun and out of the wind; at 10.30 temperature 158 degrees; at noon hot; wind west; temperature 138 degrees; sunset light breeze from south-west; temperature 95 degrees.

Saturday, December 14.

Started at 7.45 a.m.; crossed sandhills and timbered flat and creek running north about 200 yards wide; passed end of very stunted box-tree flat running parallel to our course and camped on creek with little water.

Sunday, December 15.

Started at 8.8 a.m.; passed through long dry grass with scrubby box; then flooded box flats to Paul Cooroogannie and reached depot at 6.5 p.m. It blew quite a gale of wind during the day from south-south-west with dust and a few drops of rain.

Monday, December 16.

Wind changed to east (strong); temperature at 7 a.m. 65 degrees; wind moderated during the day. Making ready to start tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 17.

Deposited memos to Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands and finders of deposits under a tree here marked MK (conjoined) from Oct. 20 to Dec. 17, 1861. Dig arrow at 1 o’clock. Bullock dray started at 8.30 a.m., eight bullocks in team and three loose; crossed north end of swamp; then small sandhills; then creek or watercourse cutting my course at rightangles; passed south end of considerable-sized flooded flat, connected by last-named watercourse. Pole of cart just broken. Left cart and proceeded with some of party to Goonyanie Creek. Great difficulty in getting a suitable stick for the pole; sent Mr. Hodgkinson and Palmer with the bullocks back to our late camp on Coodygodyannie to get a pole there if possible; left bullocks there for the night. They returned unsuccessful. Hunted Goonyanie Creek up and down myself with but indifferent result, but must cut one such as is to be found and make shift with it till a better can be procured. A great number of natives here; the creek northward ceases one quarter mile from this and loses itself on a polygonum plain–no doubt forms again. South of this it continues for about one and a half to two miles and is lost on flooded flat. There appears to be a great quantity of fish here; some very fine ones being caught this afternoon, one of which must have weighed from four to five pounds (a perch). Although the water here is very much reduced since I was here about the middle of October the water in two holes is yet pretty deep; no great quantity of grass here.

Wednesday, December 18.

Natives walking about greater part of last night. Two of them came into camp, one of whom was known and allowed to remain; the other (a stranger) was started at once. At their camp, which was about one hundred yards off, they kicked up a great row for a long time. Started Mr. Hodgkinson with Palmer and a native to Lake Coodygodyannie for the bullocks, and Davis and Wylde out to the broken cart (about three miles off) with water, on two camels, for the party left in charge of it, namely Kirby and Maitland, today increased by Wylde on account of so many natives. The bullocks duly arrived during the day, having gone back to the old camp. Immediately proceeded to cut such a pole as was to be had here, and took it out to the dray to be got in readiness to suit as well as possible the purpose required, and returned to camp with the bullocks.

Thursday, December 19.

During the night a native dog came up to the sheepfold and was shot by Frank (a native). The natives, encamped a short distance from here, hearing the report of the gun, immediately took to flight and with them the native Bullingani who was of so much use to me; however another is easily got. Some of them returned in the morning. Temperature during afternoon in sun 145 degrees. Was unable to get dray ready early enough to go a stage, but brought it in here in the afternoon, ready for an early start tomorrow morning.

Friday, December 20.

Marked a tree on north bank MK (conjoined), Dec. 17, 18, 19, 1861. Temperature at sunrise 78 degrees. Sky completely overcast. Found Frank asleep on duty and reprimanded him, when he became saucy and sulky and determined to return to settled districts. Settled with him to date. He was twelve weeks with us and received an order for 6 pounds, being the amount due to him at the rate of ten shillings per week. Started and passed through flats till we came to a creek where we stopped for a short time; crossed creek to the margin of a lake bed containing some water. Went north some distance to get round the lake to where the creek is dry. This creek fills this lake–Goonaidrangannie. Camped on north-east end at 1 p.m. There are a great number of natives here; the water appears very deep. Mr. Hodgkinson swam out about 300 yards with a plumb-line and found the depth 10 1/4 feet; but further south and east it is much deeper. This lake must be at times a great rendezvous for natives in extreme drought. One of our best working bullocks, before he came ten miles, was killed by the heat although, after getting to camp at 1 p.m., the thermometer was tried and the greatest heat arrived at was 144 degrees. I was not aware that the bullock was dead until the arrival of the cart later in the afternoon. The driver, seeing he was much exhausted, had him and the one and the one yoked with him turned out of the team, and went on a short distance and sent back for them, however, shortly after, when the animal was found quite dead–consequently we were unable to secure any of him for food as it would not keep; but at daylight in the morning I will send for his hide as it will be much needed. He will be a serious loss to us out in such a country where we require a spare bullock to spell another occasionally. A good deal of thunder and great indications for rain, but blows off with only a few drops; quite a hot wind and altogether has been a very disagreeable day. Wind from north.

Saturday, December 21.

Started three men out to skin the bullock and bring in the hide. Wind south; sky overcast but hardly expect rain. Tree marked MK (conjoined), 20-12-61 on south side. The men returned with the hide at 8.10 a.m. The bullocks, after their distress of yesterday, were left unhobbled and have strayed to some distance, not having come up yet at this hour–8.10 a.m. Bullocks arrived, and we started at 10.20 a.m. Camels and horses started at 12 o’clock. Came through some splendid feed to another lake containing but very little water and that quite bitter. Start for Moolionboorrana at 3 p.m., and arrived there at 5.53 p.m. Distance about twelve and a half miles; first half distance was flooded flats and sand-ridges. On our way to Thoorabiengannie at four and a half miles made the bed of a dry lake, Tiedhenpa, with splendid feed and park-like appearance of considerable extent. The remaining part of the distance was alternate low sandy hills and flooded narrow flats. Camels and horses arrived at Lake Moolionboorrana camp on north-east side of creek at 3.30 p.m. Distance about eleven miles. Exceedingly scant of timber. The cart and sheep not having got to camp, started Bell and Wylde with three horses back to ascertain the cause of detention, and take food for the men if they were unable to bring the dray during the evening; but it became so dark that they could not retrace the tracks of their horses. At 10 p.m. returned to camp without having seen or heard anything of cart or sheep. Will start off again at daylight. A number of natives round the lake. Innumerable pelicans, and numbers of ducks, gulls, waders, cormorants, fish, and pigeons, and abundance of green grass; but no shade or protection from the extreme heat of the sun. Rain has fallen here some short time since, small quantities being still in the claypans; and from the cloudy appearance of the sky with thunder to the north I fancy it has fallen heavily in that quarter.

Sunday, December 22.

At daylight sent Mr. Hodgkinson, Bell, and a native with four horses to cart, to know cause of detention, etc. Unfortunately the thermometer got broken yesterday which will prevent in future our ascertaining the temperature of the interior, which is much to be regretted as no doubt it would interest many. Wind south. Bullock cart got to camp at 8.20 a.m. having had an upset. Nothing particularly wrong with it. Sheep all right. Will spell today to recruit bullocks and men that were with them, all having had to be on watch during the night as the natives were round and about them the whole time–for what purpose they did not know. At 8.30 wind chopped round to north-north-east and very warm. This lake is circular and almost without timber; but is a fine sheet of water and will stand the weather well. There is a great deal of soda in it. It is about two and a half to three miles long from north to south and about two miles from east to west; the creek that supplies it (filling it from north-west end) coming from north. The bullocks are so jaded with the heat of the past two days and the heavy nature of the ground that they have hardly left the water during the day without being driven; they even went so far as to go out and lie down in it for hours.

Monday, December 23.

Wind north-north-east; sky very much overcast to southward and round by west to north. Bullocks started at 7.40 a.m. I started with native at the same time and reached the Creek Gadhungoonie, with a considerable quantity of water and fully half a mile in length; but so thoroughly bitter and salty that it was quite unfit for man or beast. Must now start out to another creek some distance off (by report) although I meant to give the bullocks a short day of it. Spelled till the camels came up and started on to Abberanginnie Lake Creek, or rather I believe, Watthiegurtie Creek, which is the creek that fills the lake–the latter being now dry. Came over some seven and a half miles of country to Watthiegurtie, which is also salt and bitter, and started then for Caunboogonannie. At 2 p.m. passed in my way two salt lakes to the south with salt-water in them, respectively named Anodhampa and Thoorpalinnie; passed also to north a recently dried up lake named Gnooloomacannie, well timbered round its shores, with abundance of grass all over it. Arrived at this splendid lake (Caunboogonannie) at 3.55 p.m. Splendid water and feed. This lake also is nearly circular and about two and a half to three miles in diameter. This lake I have called Jeannie after a young lady acquaintance–Miss Pile of Gawler. The cart could not get further than the last bitter water we passed today. Immediately south of that is the dry bed of Lake Uilgobarrannie, and immediately on the north-west side of that lake is the dry bed of Lake Caunmarriegoteinnie. This little creek, flowing nearly south, fills Abberingannie Lake, now nearly dry, and Lakes Anodhampa and Thoorpalinnie–both at present with water but unfit for use; plenty of good feed round all.

Tuesday, December 24.

At daylight sent Mr. Hodgkinson to the cart with a packhorse and two canteens of water, and to point out a more firm place for the cart to cross Watthiegurtie Creek than where we crossed the camels and horses, it being very boggy. A vast number of natives here, and upon the whole about the finest race I have seen in the colonies, and at present apparently friendly. Any quantity of fish and hundreds of pelicans. This country is fit for any description of stock and, with anything like a moderate supply of rain, would be most excellent country; even as it is it is not equalled to the southward as far as Kanyaka, Mr. Phillip’s station near Mount Brown. Mr. Hodgkinson found a better crossing for the cart a little north, and it arrived here in safety at 12.30 p.m.–they found a little drinkable water last night. Kirby, with the sheep, got astray today but was soon picked up again and brought to camp about sunset by Wylde and Bell.

Wednesday, December 25.

Christmas Day; wind variable, principally from the south, but warm. Natives were prowling in numbers about our camp late last night. I sent up a rocket that exploded well and had the desired effect, causing a general rush of the whole of the sable gentry towards their camp, which latter in their fear did not check their mad career until they found there was no pursuit; but today they again came up to our camp quite unconcerned as if nothing had happened–better it should be so as no doubt I shall find them of great use in pointing out the principal waters within their knowledge. Spelling to recruit everybody and everything, and hope to make a good start tomorrow morning. Had an excellent dinner of roast mutton and plum pudding and did not envy anyone in the City of Adelaide.

Thursday, December 26.

MK (conjoined), Decr. 23, 24, 25. Dig. Arrow at 7 o’clock. Documents deposited for relief party under tree marked as above. Wind strong south-south-east. All the animals right this morning; started the bullocks and sheep at 7.45, rounding the north end of lake–my course is right through it bearing 89 degrees for Lake Dhalinnie. At two and a half miles came to creek that falls into this one we are now encamped on; go up it half a mile north-east to cross it; sent the cart round by the creek to be on level ground whilst I go direct to Dhalinnie. At four and a half miles clear the lake, and at three and a half miles further arrive at the Lake Dhalinnie–a treeless lake, fully a mile from north to south and little better than half a mile from east to west. Appam Barra from this bears 4 degrees, Cannboogonanni camp 269 degrees. Started at 10.11 a.m. to meet the cart on a bearing of about 330 degrees to take them to Appam Barra; meet the camp 10.30 and go on a bearing of 6 1/2 degrees for Appam Barra at 10.40. After spelling ten minutes crossed creek at 11.53; at 12.10 got to Appam Barra Creek, well filled with water, going north-north-west from north-north-east, then round to south-south-east and south, in the distance filling a few lakes in its course on coming from the first quarter–a considerable number of natives here. Went on the north-north-east course one and a quarter miles on bearing of 8 degrees; camped immediately beyond where a branch leaves the main creek going southward–a good-sized creek about, at its junction, seventy yards wide and fifteen feet deep; main creek about one hundred yards wide and twenty to twenty-five feet deep; lots of mussels, crayfish, and fish of all sorts. No great abundance of feed here nor is the country so good as has been passed, having a very desert and sterile appearance with a jumble of sandhills, flooded land, and a considerable quantity of samphire bushes, large saltbush, polygonum, and other shrubs. The natives (a fine body of men) whether from curiosity or otherwise, were with much difficulty got away from the camp at night.

Friday, December 27.

Wind north-east; the animals went straying some considerable distance and were late in being recovered (4.30 p.m.) having gone back to last camp, therefore we did not get a start today. Half of the horses broke and lost their hobbles; and the loss of chains is serious as they cannot be replaced here.

Saturday, December 28.

Not a breath of wind at daylight. Distributed yesterday to natives (fifty-three) necklaces, etc.; there was a considerable number more men present in the morning but they had gone somewhere before the distribution. They are a splendid lot of people and in most excellent condition, much better than the appearance of the country here would warrant. They appear friendly but were about during last night. A large flight of galahs just passing. Gulls, pigeons, and ducks of all sorts abound. It was my intention to have taken the cart round to examine the lakes and creeks east and south of my present position; but as the sandhills are rather large and steep I will do it with the camels and horses, and merely today take the cart to a better place for camping during the time I am engaged at this work, and more on the course I wish to follow after this part of the work is finished. Marked tree at camp MK (conjoined), 26, 27-12-61. Horses, bullocks, camels, sheep all right, although dropped a lame ewe heavy in lamb last night which has not yet been recovered. Started at 7.30 and went round northward one mile and crossed creek at four miles; got to a pretty little lake Wattiwidulo. Abundance of good feed and water; natives round the lake; but on going about half mile to top of a small sandhill I then had opened to my view an extensive basin of water forming part of the lake continuing far off to south-west by south. A splendid sheet of water which I have named Lake Hodgkinson after my second in command. Course today 338 degrees. Immediately on arrival here was completely besieged by the natives, male and female, young and old, for beads for necklaces which I distributed as far as they went, but it has much reduced my supply and leaves but a scanty remnant for the next lot we meet, as meet them we surely will in such a country as this, affording them as it does such a supply of food. I will proceed with a couple of camels and some horses to the eastward a short distance to examine some lakes and creeks reported to be in that quarter, and will leave the remainder of the party in camp here till my return. The country travelled over today though a short distance was very good–plenty of grass on the sandhills of a good sort. Although that veteran explorer Sturt must have passed not far from this in his last attempt to gain the centre of the continent he reported to have only fallen in with, or had reason to believe, there were but few natives. How the large body of people that is scattered all over this part could have escaped him I cannot account for. Go where you will you will find them in groups of fifties and hundreds, and often many more, and generally a jolly lot of fellows and all in capital condition. As has been noticed by former explorers the females in number amongst the children are much greater than the males, but neither very numerous. Amongst the adults (both sexes) they knock out the four front teeth of the upper jaw; but there are others both male and female that are quite perfect, more here than noticed anywhere else on the journey. Killed a sheep on arrival here today to jerk for our coming journey to the east, but was so fat that the small flock had to be examined for a poorer one for that purpose. That does not speak badly of the part of the country we are now in.

Sunday, December 29.

Camp at Wattiwidulo, or Lake Hodgkinson. Just where we are encamped by it it does not appear to be deep, but to the south and west I fancy there is a good deal of water. Wind south-west and exceedingly hot and sultry. In the afternoon an old man arrived here from our old depot and reported that a party of whites had arrived at the late depot with a number of horses and were on their way this course from the settled districts. What faith to put in the report it is difficult to say. Ready to start east in the morning.

Monday, December 30.

Sky very much overcast and very sultry; wind from north-east. Started at 8.10 with two camels and five horses and a week’s provisions. At four and a half miles got to Appambarra, near old camp at the dray crossing. At 8.45 arrived at about one mile west of dry lake Toondowlowannie; centre bearing of lake north and south, three miles, by a width east and west of one and a half miles; well grassed. At ten and a quarter miles passed south end of lake and travelled on flooded ground on west side of Cariderro Creek, in which there is water, to where we cut the Cariderro Creek, about sixteen miles, at a place in the creek where the large creek branches off east and fills a large lake now dry; abundance of feed. Lake called Marcourgannie and found water in creek–a short distance south, from which quarter it appears to come–it is a splendid gum creek, from eighty to one hundred yards wide and fifteen to twenty feet deep, and flows a northward course. Started after spelling a time and went one and a quarter miles on bearing of 239 degrees to Appadarannie, now a dry lake with abundance of good feed in its bed; then went south by east eight miles along the Cariderro Creek. It is a splendid one and well lined with fine gumtrees, and as far as we went I may say was one continuous sheet of water, and with not less than from 200 to 300 natives. I have named it Browne Creek after W.H. Browne, Esquire. Many of the natives have apparently quite white hair and beards; they were particularly anxious that we should encamp with them; they were the first tribe that we fell in with so fully armed, every man with a shield and a lot of boomerangs and some with spears. I thought it better not to camp there as they had a good deal of sneaking and concealing themselves from bush to bush, and might have brought about a disturbance, which I did not desire. Took some water in air bags and started out from the creek one and a quarter miles; then on a bearing of 5 degrees for Appacalradillie lake, seven miles fully. Crossed and camped on east corner of dry lake Marcourgannie, and on the margin of the dry lake Merradaboodaboo; the bulk of this last lake bearing north from this and splendidly grassed.

Tuesday, December 31.

Started at 6.30 a.m. to Appacalradillie lake, through side of Lake Merradaboodaboo; passed several flooded flats proceeding east from last-named dry lake–the first of which was an extensive one, passing on our course from left round to the right and apparently round to south as far as visible, then over alternate and indifferent flats and large sandhills–a considerable deal of flooded land to the westward. At fifteen miles arrived on top of a very prominent sandhill which I have named Mount MacDonnell, from which hill opens out to our view two beautiful lakes which, in honour of her Ladyship and His Excellency the present Governor of South Australia, I have named respectively Lake Blanche and Lake Sir Richard, separated by a small sandy rise through which passes a small channel that connects them, and which I have named New Year’s Straits.

Wednesday, January 1, 1862.

Started at 6.45 round the first lake, Blanche (Lady MacDonnell) to where the creek passes through a low sandhill and connects it with the other lake, Sir Richard (His Excellency the Governor). The first-named of these lakes is, where it was tried, between five and six feet deep and seven and three-quarter miles in circumference, nearly circular, bare of timber, and tens of thousands of pelicans on it, one solitary swan, with innumerable other birds, gulls and ducks of various kinds (one new and one dark brown large-winged), cormorants, avocats, white spoonbills, crows, kites, pigeons and magpies of various kinds, and plenty of fish. The other lake immediately adjoins and its south-east end is more to the eastward than Lake Blanche, it is nearly circular and is six and three-quarter miles in circumference, but when casually tried was not quite five feet deep; pelicans, birds of kinds, fish, etc., as the other. Between forty and fifty men (natives) came to meet us as we were passing round the lakes at the creek, which they had all to swim and, from the appearance of the camp some short distance off, there could not have been less than about 150, all apparently friendly. Started from north-west end of Lake Sir Richard and went along the course of the creek that fills these lakes on a bearing of 305 degrees for —- miles; then south-south-west half a mile to a fine basin of water in the valley of the creek, three-quarters of a mile wide and more than that in length, and opening again and contracting alternately up to Lake Blanche which, in honour of the veteran explorer, I have named Sturt’s Ponds; abundance of fish and fowls. From this point course 308 degrees up the creek for four miles; at two miles a creek went off to the right through a flooded flat, thence on a course varying from 224 to 239 degrees, principally through what was recently a large lake–now a splendidly-grassed plain of vast extent, and at the latter part a few small sandhills. Distance today thirty-six miles.

Thursday, January 2.

At camp and keeping the New Year instead of yesterday. It is quite a treat to sit on the banks of this fine sheet of water and look at the innumerable waterfowl on its surface chasing their prey.

Friday, January 3.

Heavy dew. Started out this morning with two camels and five horses to examine some lakes and creeks to west and south of this position; I take with me Mr. Hodgkinson, Middleton, Wylde, and native. On my return intend moving camp to north and east to where I saw the creek bearing off to the right or north-east from about two miles north-west of Sturt’s Ponds; which creek I am led to believe runs off into the interior by north on the round by west and south, passing my old depot, Lake Buchanan. On second thoughts I have moved camp to a better place on this lake, north, on the opposite side, where there is better shade, and the glare of the sun less injurious to the eyes of the party than here. Marked tree MK (conjoined) from 28-12-61, to 3-1-62, and started to examine the lakes reported to be south and west. At six miles arrived on opposite side of where we camped for the last few days, and estimate its circumference at fifteen to sixteen miles, its greatest breadth two miles, its least about 600 yards–at a promontory that runs into it from the south-east side. A large creek fills it from south-east, about two and a half to three miles west-south-west from our New Year camp which I have named Hayward, after Frederick Hayward, Esquire, of Aroona, South Australia–a deep swimmable creek, well timbered, plenty of fish and fowls–then went southward to Lake Wattygaroony, a fine deep lake which is named Lake Strangways after the Honourable the Commissioner of Crown Lands. The creek that fills it from the south and east I have called the Alfred. The lake is quite nine miles in circumference; scant of timber; from the creek round south-west end and side; abundance of feed, etc., from north side of lake and one mile north-westerly of clearing it; our new camp on Lake Hodgkinson bears 71 degrees. About eight miles; returned to camp same day.

Saturday, January 4.

Camp, Lake Hodgkinson. Shoeing horses, repairing pack-bags, etc.

Sunday, January 5.

I, with Poole and a black, went out north to see what the country was like. On bearing 360 degrees over sandhills arrived at and found lake dry; four and a half miles of stones around it, same as in stony desert; went through the middle of it, it sweeps round from north-east to south-west; passed through it where it was two miles broad, it is fed from Lake Goonalcarae (now dry); the lake passed through has not had a supply of water for years apparently; lots of dead mussels and crayfish in its bed. At two and a half miles further (nine miles in all) over sandhills, changed course to 16 degrees for a large sandhill in the distance, the country to the north being rather low. At two and a half miles on this course came upon a succession of flooded basins, some of great extent, Gnatowullie, and slightly lined with stunted box, some as high up the sides of the sandhills as forty-five to fifty feet, entirely supplied by the rains but have not had a supply for some time, as there was neither water nor vegetation; which flooded basins continued till I went nine miles on this last course and from the top of the hill could distinctly see the beds of innumerable others of the same kind. From west round to north-east and east some dark-peaked sandhills, north-east of last course, as far as I could discern with the aid of a glass; turned back on course of 200 degrees to where I saw some shady box trees about two and a half miles, and turned out horses to rest and went to camp direct. On bearing of 187 degrees at five and a half miles came to the watercourse that supplies the dry lake Marroboothana from Goonalcarae, which I have named the Ellar, and the creek that fills it, in which there is at present water, Ellar’s Creek.

Monday, January 6.

Marked tree MK (conjoined), from 3 to 6-62, Dig arrow at 7 o’clock, and deposited a document in tin envelope for the search parties from the north coast. Started at 6.30 with the bullock-cart, the horses and camels following, for Lakes Lady Blanche and Sir Richard, for the purpose of following the creek I observed when there the other day, and which the natives inform me goes northward, then westward and southward, through the stony desert. Arrived about 3.30 by rather a circuitous route to the northward of our proper course, but was guided that way to avoid many heavy sandhills. Distance between twenty-two and twenty-three miles.

Tuesday, January 7.

At Lake Blanche; went out north with Mr. Hodgkinson and native to examine the creek alluded to, but to my disappointment found that it only formed a large valley and, at some distance on a dry lake, Millie Millie, to the eastward of Lake Sir Richard, over some high sandhills; returned very much chagrined and have made up my mind to stay here a short time, although very poor shelter from the excessive heat of the sun (today even it blows as if from a furnace) and endeavour with the camels to ascertain the description of country first to the east, and probably also from here, if the camels will stand it, to the north; from the appearance of the country about here I do not expect any water at least for some distance; the land low, hills between the two lakes and running northward for some five or six miles have just the appearance of dirty drift snow heaps with heath bushes protruding; whereas those round to north-east, east, south, and south-east are a glaring red, with coarse grass and shrubs. Shortly after my return today a number of natives got the bullocks on the east side of the creek New Year Straits, about two and a half miles from camp and raced them round Lake Blanche from us in sight;