Narrative of the Overland Expedition of the Messrs Jardine from Rockhampton to Cape York, Northern Queensland by Frank Jardine and Alexander Jardine

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  • 1867
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[Errors in the original have been preserved and noted at the end of this etext.]
















THE Settlement of Northern Australia has of late years been of such rapid growth as to furnish matter for a collection of narratives, which in the aggregate would make a large and interesting volume. Prominent amongst these stands that of the Settlement of Cape York, under the superintendence of Mr. Jardine, with which the gallant trip of his two sons overland must ever be associated. It was a journey which, but for the character and qualities of the Leader, might have terminated as disastrously as that of his unfortunate, but no less gallant predecessor, Kennedy. A brilliant achievement in exploration, in a colony where exploring has become common and almost devoid of interest, from the number of those yearly engaged in it, its very success has prevented its attracting that share of public attention to which its results very fully entitled it. Had it been attended with any signal disaster, involving loss of life, it would have been otherwise. Geographically, it has solved the question hitherto undecided of the course of the northern rivers emptying into the Gulf of Carpentaria, of which nothing was previously known but their outlets, taken from the charts of the Dutch Navigators. It has also made known, with tolerable definiteness, how much, or rather, how little, of the “York Peninsula” is adapted for pastoral occupation, whilst its success in taking the first stock overland, and forming a cattle station at Newcastle Bay, has insured to the Settlement at Somerset a necessary and welcome supply of fresh meat, and done away with its dependence for supplies on importations by sea of less nourishing salt provision.

Starting from the then farthest out-station of Northern Queensland with a small herd of cattle, these hardy young bushmen met with and successfully combated, almost every “accident by flood and field” that could well occur in an expedition. First, an arid waterless country forced them to follow down two streams at right angles with their course for upwards of 200 miles, causing a delay which betrayed them into the depths of the rainy season; then the loss of half their food and equipment by a fire, occasioned by the carelessness of some of the party; next the scarcity of grass and water, causing a further delay by losses of half their horses, which were only recovered to be again lost altogether — killed by eating a deadly poison plant; and finally, the setting in of the wet season, making the ground next to impassable, and so swelling the rivers, that when actually in sight, and within a week’s journey of their destination, they were turned off their course, and were more than six weeks in reaching it. Added to this, and running through the whole journey, was the incessant and determined, although unprovoked, hostility of the natives, which, but for the unceasing vigilence and prompt and daring action of the Brothers, might have eventually compassed the annihilation of the whole party. Had Leichhardt used the same vigilance and decision the life of poor Gilbert would not have been sacrificed, and in all probability we should not now deplore his own loss. But the black tribes which dogged the steps of each expedition, and amongst whom, probably, were the slayers of Kennedy and Gilbert, met at the hands of the Brothers the treatment they deserved. If the lessons were severe, they were in every case of the native’s own seeking, and were administered in fair and open combat, in which few of the white party were without having narrow escapes to record; but a providential good fortune seemed to attend them, for every member got through the journey without accident. An account has been furnished to the newspapers in the form of a journal by Mr. Richardson, the Surveyor appointed to accompany the expedition, but it is much too brief and epitomized to do justice to the subject, and omits altogether the detached and independant trips of the Brothers whilst exploring ahead to find the best country through which to take the herd; and, as the Brothers Jardine themselves would probably much rather repeat their journey than write a full account of it, it has devolved on the Editor to attempt to put before the public a compilation of their journals in such form as will give the narrative sufficient interest to carry with it the attention of the reader to the end. Although the matter is ample, this is no easy task for an unpracticed pen, for to the general reader, the usual monotonous details and entries of an explorer’s notes, which alone give them value to the geographer, cannot be hoped to excite interest or command attention. But the journey was full of incident, and the Brothers, although not scientific naturalists, were keen sportsmen, excelling in all exercises requiring strength and activity, who had acquired from their training in the bush that sharpening of the senses and faculty of observing, the peculiar result of a life in the wilds, which not only so well fitted them for the conduct of such an expedition, but also enabled them to note and describe with accuracy the various interesting objects in botany and zoology met with in the course of their journey. It is therefore hoped that there will be sufficient to interest each class of reader. Aided by Mr. Jardine, senior, a gentleman of large experience in both Botany and Natural History, the Editor has been enabled to supply the generic names of the birds and plants met with; which, in many cases, if not altogether new, are interesting as determining the range and habitat of the birds, and the zones of vegetation and trees; but it is to be regretted that there was no one in the party having sufficient knowledge of drawing to figure such objects, or to delineate some of the more striking scenes and incidents of the journey. As these can now only be supplied from the graphic descriptions given by the actors in them, the Editor, without drawing too much on his imagination, has, in the compilation of the journals, attempted in some cases to supplement what was wanted in the text, so as to give the narrative such color as would make it more readable than a mere journal, but in every case rendering the descriptions of the prominent incidents of the journey almost in the original words of the writers, merely adding as much as would save the text from abruptness. He has adhered to the diurnal form of narrative, for the sake of recording, for the benefit of future travellers, the numbers, marks, latitude, etc., of each camp, and endeavoured to compass by this composite method the value of a work of record with the interest of a narrative.

It is also to be regretted that so long a time should have been allowed to elapse between the end of the journey and the publication of these pages. The causes of the delay are — first, the indisposition on the part of the Brothers to “go into print,” their modesty leading them to imagine they had done nothing worth “writing about,” nor was it until the writer pressed them to allow him to compile and edit their journals that they consented to make them public; next, the want of leisure on the part of the compiler, whose official duties have prevented application to his task, save in detached and interrupted periods; and last, by the difficulty of making arrangements for publication at a distance.

If his labor secures to the young explorers the credit and praise which is the just and due reward of a gallant achievement, and adds a page of interest to the records of Australian Exploration, his aim will have been attained, and he will be fully rewarded.

The Hermitage, ‘Rockhampton, December’, 1866.


IN presenting the following pages to the Reader, it may not be out of place to take a retrospect of the progress of Australian Settlement generally, and particularly in the young northern colony of Queensland.

During the last six years the great question of the character of Central Australia, in the solution of which the lives of the unfortunate Leichhardt and his party have been sacrificed, has been set at rest by the memorable trip of Burke and Wills, and no less memorable, but more fortunate one of McDouall Stewart. The Search Expeditions of McKinlay, Howitt, Landsborough, and Walker, have made it still more familiar, their routes connecting the out-settlements of South Australia with those of the Gulf Shores and East Coast, and adding their quota of detail to the skeleton lines of Leichhardt, Gregory, and Burke and Wills; whilst private enterprise has, during that time, been busy in further filling in the spaces, and utilizing the knowledge gained by occupying the waste lands thus opened up.

It is questionable whether the amount of available country thus made known has not been dearly purchased, by the very large sums that have been expended, and the valuable lives that have been lost in its exploration; the arid and waterless wastes of the interior, which have now been proved equally subject to terrific droughts and devastating floods, make it improbable that the Settlements of the North Coast and the Southern Colonies can be connected by a continuous line of occupation for many years to come; the rich pastoral tracts of Arnheim’s Land, the Victoria River, the Gulf Coast, and Albert and Flinders Rivers, are thus the only localities likely to be made use of for the present; these, however, have been known since the first explorations of Leichhardt and Gregory; we are forced, therefore, to the conclusion that the results of the subsequent expeditions are not commensurate with their cost and sacrifices, and to consider whether further exploration may not be safely left to private enterprise.

Let us now glance at what has been done since 1860 in the way of occupation. South Australia has founded on theNorth Coast a Settlement at Adam Bay, on the Adelaide River, but its progress seems to have been marked from the onset by misfortune. The officer charged with its formation, in a short time managed to raise so strong a feeling of dissatisfaction and dislike amongst the settlers as to call for a Commission of Enquiry on his administration, which resulted in his removal. His successor seems, by latest accounts to have raised up no less dislike, the difference of his rule being likened by the papers to that of the fabled kings, Log and Stork. The site of the Settlement, Escape Cliffs, has been universally condemned; one charge against the first Resident being, that it was selected in opposition to the almost unanimous opinion of the colonists. The subject was referred for final report to John McKinley, the well-known Explorer, who, bearing out the general opinion, at once condemned it, and set out to explore the country in search for a better. In this he has not discovered any new locality, but has recommended Anson Bay, at the mouth of the Daly, a site previously visited, but rejected by the first Resident. Previous to his visit to Anson Bay, Mr. McKinlay started with a well-equiped party for an exploring trip, which was to last twelve months. At the end of five he returned, after one of the most miraculous escapes of himself and party from destruction on record, having only penetrated to the East Alligator River, about 80 miles from Adam Bay; here he became surrounded by floods, and only saved his own and the lives of his party (loosing all else) by the desperate expedient of making a boat of the hides of their horses, in which they floated down the swollen river, and eventually reached the Settlement. It is not improbable that in some such a flood poor Leichhardt and his little band lost their lives, and all trace of their fate has been destroyed. These experiences have caused some doubt and despondency as to the future of the new Settlement, and the question is now being agitated in the South Australian Parliament as to the desirability or not of abandoning it.

Western Australia has formed the Settlements of Camden Harbor, and Nickol Bay. The latter (the country around which was explored by Mr. Francis Gregory, brother to the Surveyor-General of Queensland, in 1861), appears to have progressed favorably, the Grey, Gascoigne, Oakover and Lyons Rivers affording inducements to stockholders to occupy them, but the Settlement of Camden Harbor at the time of the visit of Mr. Stow in his boat-voyage from Adam Bay to Champion Bay, was being abandoned by the colonists, the country being unsuitable for stock, and it would appear from that gentleman’s account that the whole of the north-west coast of the continent, from its general character, offers but little inducement for settlement.

[footnote] *Since this was written the settlement has been abandoned. [NOTE — the footnote in the INTRODUCTION does not have a referent in the text — there is no asterisk in the text. It is not clear whether the ‘settlement’ it refers to as having been abandoned is at Adam Bay or in Western Australia.]

The explorations of Francis Gregory to the eastward from Nickol Bay, and of the Surveyor-General to the south from the Victoria River, were both arrested by wastes of drift-sand, whilst those from the western seaboard have not been extended further inland than to more than an average of 3 degrees of longitude. It may reasonably be doubted, therefore, whether settlement will be much extended in that direction.

Queensland, more fortunate in the character of the country, has, on her part, successfully established six new settlements, to wit, Mackay, at the Pioneer River; Bowen, Port Denison; Townsville, Cleveland Bay; Cardwell, Rockingham Bay; Somerset, Cape York; and Burke Town, at the Albert River; and there can be little doubt but that the country of the Gulf shores and the northern territory of South Australia must be ‘stocked’, if not settled, from the same source. Already have our hardy pioneers driven their stock out as far as the Flinders, Albert, Leichhardt, and Nicholson Rivers, the Flinders and Cloncurry having been stocked along their length for some time past. On the South and West, the heads of the Warrego, the Nive, Barcoo, and Thompson have also been occupied, some of the stations being between four and five hundred miles from the seaboard, whilst the surveyors of the Roads Department have extended their surveys as far as the two last-named rivers, for the purpose of determining the best and shortest lines of communication. The Government, with wise liberality, has facilitated the access from the seaboard to the interior, by the expenditure of large sums in constructing and improving passes through the Coast Range on four different points, and by the construction of works on the worst portions of the roads, have largely reduced the difficulties of transport for the out-settlers. Bowen, a town which had no existence six years ago, has been connected with Brisbane by the telegraph wire, and ere another twelve months have elapsed the electric flash will have placed Melbourne, in Victoria, and Burke Town, on the Gulf of Carpentaria, “on speaking terms,” the country between the latter place and Cleveland Bay having been examined and determined on for a telegraph line by the experienced explorer Walker for that purpose.

Of the six new settlements that have been called into existence, two, Bowen and Townsville, have been incorporated, and are now, together with Mackay, straining in the race to secure the trade of the western interior. Cardwell has experienced a check, in consequence of an undue haste in the adoption of a line of road over its Coast Range, which is too difficult to be generally adopted, and will probably be abandoned for a better since discovered; but its noble harbour is too good, and the extent of back country it commands too extensive in area, for it not ultimately to take its place as an important port. Burke Town is but starting into existence, but already supplies the settlers of the Flinders and other Gulf rivers with which it has opened communication. Mr. William Landsborough, the well-known explorer, has been charged with the administration of its affairs, and a survey staff has been despatched to lay out the lands. Vessels now trade direct from Brisbane with some regularity, which services will, no doubt, soon be re-placed by steamers.

But it is with Somerset, Cape York, that we have more especial concern. In the August of 1862, Sir George Bowen, Governor of Queensland, being on a voyage of inspection to the Northern Ports, in Her Majesty’s Steamer “Pioneer,” visited Port Albany, Cape York, and on his return, in a despatch to the Imperial Government, recommended it for the site of a Settlement, on account of its geographical importance, as harbor of refuge, coaling station, and entrepot for the trade of Torres Straits and the Islands of the North Pacific. The following year the formation of a Settlement was decided upon, the Home Government sending out a detachment of Marines to be stationed there, and assist in its establishment. The task of establishing the new Settlement was confided to Mr. Jardine, then Police Magistrate of Rockhampton, than whom, perhaps, no man could be found more fitted for its peculiar duties. An experienced official, a military man, keen sportsman, and old bushman, he possessed, in addition to an active and energetic temperament, every quality and experience necessary for meeting the varied and exceptional duties incident to such a position. It was whilst making the arrangements for the expedition by sea, which was to transport the staff, materiel, and stores of the Settlement, that Mr. Jardine, foreseeing the want of fresh provision, proposed to the Government to send his own sons, Frank and Alexander, overland with a herd of cattle to form a station from which it might be supplied. This was readily acceded to, the Government agreeing to supply the party with the services of a qualified surveyor, fully equipped, to act as Geographer, by noting and recording their course and the appearance of the country traversed, and also horses, arms, and accoutrements for four native blacks, or as they are commonly called in the colonies, Black-boys. Although the account of poor Kennedy’s journey from Rockingham Bay to Cape York, in which his own and half his party’s lives were sacrificed, was not very encouraging for the intended expedition, Mr. Jardine never for a moment doubted of its success, and looked forward to meeting his sons at Somerset as a matter of course. In the prime of youth and health (their ages were but 22 and 20), strong, active, and hardy, inured to the life and habits of the bush, with an instinct of locality, which has been alluded to as having “la Boussole dans la tete,” they were eminently fitted for the task, and eagerly undertook it when proposed. How well they carried it out, although, unfortunately, with so little benefit to themselves, is here recorded. Had poor Wills been associated with such companions there would have been a different tale to tell to that which lends so melancholy an interest to his name, and we should now have him amongst us to honor, instead of a monument to his memory, a monument, which in honoring the dead, rebukes the living.

The loss of three-fourths of their horses, and a fifth of their cattle, together with a large equipment, has made the enterprise of the Messrs. Jardine, speaking financially, little short of a failure, but at their age the mind is resilient, and not easily damped by misfortune. On their return to Brisbane the Government, with kind consideration, proposed to place such a sum on the Estimates of Parliament as would indemnify them, and at the same time mark its sense of the high merit and importance of their journey, but this, through their father, they respectfully declined, Frank Jardine giving as his reason, that as the expedition was a private enterprise and not a public undertaking, he did not consider himself entitled to any indemnity from the public. Opinions may be divided on such a conclusion, but in it we cannot but recognise a delicacy and nobility of sentiment as rare, unfortunately, as it is admirable. Yet, if they have thus voluntarily cut themselves off from the substantial rewards which have hitherto recompensed other explorers, they are still entitled to the high praise and commendation of all who admire spirit and determination of purpose, and cannot be insensible to their applause. And it is in recognition that such is their due, that the writer has undertaken to bring this narrative before the public.


Start from Rockhampton — Alexander Jardine explores the Einasleih — Newcastle Range — Pluto Creek — Canal Creek — Basaltic Plateau — Warroul Creek — Parallel Creek — Galas Creek — Porphyry Islands — Alligators’ tracks — Bauhinia Plains — Discovers error as to River Lynd — Return — The Nonda — Burdekin duck — Simon’s Gap — Arrival of the cattle — Preparation for final start.

On the 14th of May, 1864, the overland party which was to take cattle to the new settlement at Cape York, was started by Mr. Frank Jardine, from Rockhampton, under the charge of his brother Alexander. It comprised ten persons, with thirty-one horses. The instructions were to travel by easy stages to Port Denison, and there wait the arrival of the Leader. In the following month, Mr. Jardine, senior, taking with him his third son John, sailed for Brisbane, and shortly after from thence to Somerset, Cape York, in the Eagle, barque, chartered by the Government, for transport of material, etc., arriving there at the end of June.

Mr. Frank Jardine, taking with him the surveyor attached to the expedition, Mr. A. J. Richardson, arrived at Bowen by sea, about the middle of July, when the party was again moved forward, he himself starting off to make the purchase of the cattle. Five more horses were purchased on account of the Government in Bowen, for Mr. Richardson, making a total of forty-two. The prevalence of pleuro-pneumonia made it a matter of some difficulty for Mr. F. Jardine to get suitable stock for his purpose, and caused considerable delay. Arrangements having at length been made with Mr. William Stenhouse, of the River Clarke, the party was divided at the Reedy Lake Station, on the Burdekin, Mr. A. Jardine moving forward with the pack horses and equipment, leaving the Leader with Messrs. Scrutton and Cowderoy, and three black boys to muster and fetch on the cattle. The advance party started on the 17th August, and arrived at Carpentaria Downs, the station of J. G. Macdonald, Esq., on the 30th. This was at that time the furthest station to the North West, and was intended to be made the final starting point of the expedition, by the permission of Mr. Macdonald, from whom the party received much kindness. On their way they were joined by Mr. Henry Bode, a gentleman who was in search of country to occupy with stock. After remaining in camp at Carpentaria Downs for a few days, Mr. A. Jardine decided on utilizing the interval, which must elapse before his brother could re-join him with the cattle, by exploring the country ahead, so as to faciliate the march of the stock on the final start. Accordingly, leaving the camp in charge of Mr. Richardson, with Mr. Binney, and two black boys, he started on the 3rd of September, taking with him the most trusty of his black boys, “old Eulah,” and one pack-horse, and accompanied by Mr. Bode, who took advantage of the opportunity to have a look at the country. As Mr. Bode had his own black boy with him, the party comprised four, with two pack-horses, carrying provision for three weeks. About the same time Mr. Macdonald started with a party of three to find a road for his stock to the Gulf, where he was about to form a station; the account of which trip has been published bythat gentleman.

The stream on which Carpentaria Downs station is situated was supposed to be the “Lynd” of Leichhardt and was so called and known; but as this was found to be an error, and that it was a tributary of the Gilbert, it will be distinguished by the name it subsequently received, the Einasleih. Keeping the right bank of the river which was running strongly two hundred yards wide, the party travelled six miles to a small rocky bald hill, under which they passed on the north side; and thence to a gap in a low range, through which the river forces its way. Travelling down its bed for a quarter-of-a-mile, they crossed to its left bank, on to a large level basaltic plain; but here the extent of the rocky ground made the travelling so bad for the horses, although shod, that it was impossible to proceed, and the river was therefore re-crossed. Five miles more of rough travelling over broken stony ironbark ridges, brought them to a second gorge, formed by two spurs of a range, running down to the river banks on either side, where they camped, having made about 15 miles on a general course of N.W. by N. To the south of this gorge, and running parallel with the river, is a high range of hills, which received the name of the Newcastle Range. (Camp I.)

‘September’ 4. — Resuming their journey, the party passed through a gap in the northern spur, described yesterday, about a quarter-of-a-mile from the camp. From this gap a point of the range on the south side was sighted, running into the river, and for this they steered. At 4 miles a small lagoon was passed, 300 yards out from the river, and a quarter-of-a-mile further on, a broad, shallow, sandy creek(then dry), which was named “Pluto Creek.” At 8 miles a small rugged hill was passed on the left hand, and the point of the range steered for reached at 9. At 12 a large well-watered creek was crossed, and the party camped at the end of 18 miles on a similar one. The general course N.N.W., and lay chiefly over very stony ridges, close to the river banks. The timber was chiefly box, iron-bark, and melaleuca, the latter growing in the shallow bed, in which also large granite boulders frequently occurred. Though shallow, it contained fine pools and reaches of water, in some of which very fine fish were observed. Eighteen miles (Camp II.)

‘September’ 5. — After crossing the creek, on which they had camped, at its junction, the party followed down a narrow river flat for four miles, to where a large sandy creek joins it from the north. The steepness of its banks and freedom from fallen timber, suggested the name of “Canal Creek” — it is about 80 yards wide. Two miles further down a small creek joins, and at 12 miles a high rocky hill was reached. From this hill a bar of granite rock extends across the river to a similar one on the south side. A fine view was obtained from its summit showing them the course of the river. Up to this point the course had been N.W. After passing through a gap, immediately under and on the north of the rocky hill they were forced by the river into a northerly course for two miles, at which they crossed a spur of the range running into it, so rugged that they were obliged to lead their horses. Beyond this they emerged on to a basaltic plain, timbered with box and bloodwood, and so stony as to render the walking very severe for the horses. The basalt continued for the rest of the day. At about 18 miles a large creek was crossed, running into an ana-branch. The banks of the river which border the basaltic plain are very high and steep on both sides. Running the ana-branch down for four miles, the camp was pitched, after a tedious and fatiguing day’s march. (Camp III.)

‘September’ 6. — The ana-branch camped on last night being found to run parallel to the course of the river, received the name of Parallel Creek. Its average width is about 150 yards, well watered, and full of melaleucas and fallen timber. The country on its north bank down to its junction with the river 20 miles from the junction of Warroul Creek, is broken into ridges of quartz and sand-stone, stony, and poorly grassed. That contained between its south bank and the river, the greatest width of which is not more than three miles, is a basaltic plateau, terminating in precipitous banks on the river, averaging 50 feet in perpendicular height. To avoid the stones on either side, there being no choice between the two, the party travelled down the bed of Parallel Creek the whole day. At about 9 miles stringy bark appeared on the ridges of the north bank. Large flocks of cockatoo parrots (‘Nymphicus Nov. Holl.’) were seen during the day, and a “plant” of native spears was found. They were neatly made, jagged at the head with wallaby bones, and intended for throwing in the Wommerah or throwing stick. At the end of 20 miles the party reached the junction of Parallel Creek with the river and encamped. The general course was about N.W. (Camp IV.)

‘September’ 7. — The party was now happily clear of the basaltic country, but the travelling was still none of the best, the first nine miles of to-day’s stage being over stony ridges of quartz and iron-stone, interspersed with small, sandy, river flats. At this distance a large creek of running water was crossed, and the camp pitched at about two miles from its junction with the Einasleih. The creek received the name of Galaa Creek, in allusion to the galaa or rose cockatoo (‘Cacatua Rosea’), large flocks of which were frequently seen. The junction of Galaa Creek is remarkable for two porphyritic rock islands, situated in the bed of the river, which is here sandy, well watered, and about 300 yards wide. The grass was very scarce, having been recently burned. The timber chiefly iron-bark and box. Course N.W. 1/2 W., distance 10 miles (Camp V.)

‘September’ 8. — To-day the river was followed down over low broken stony ranges, having their crests covered with “garrawan” scrub for 5 miles, when the party was gratified by an agreable change in the features of the country. Instead of the alternative of broken country, stony ridges, or basaltic plains they had toiled over for nearly 80 miles, they now emerged on to fine open well-grassed river flats, lightly timbered, and separated by small spurs of ridges running into them. A chain of small lagoons was passed at 12 miles, teeming with black duck, teal, wood duck, and pigmy geese, whilst pigeons and other birds were frequent in the open timber, a sure indication of good country. At 13 miles a small creek was crossed, and another at 18, and after having made a good stage of 25 miles the party again camped on the Einasleih. At this point it had increased to a width of nearly a mile, the banks were low and sloping, and the bed shallow and dry. It was still nevertheless, well watered, the stream, as is not unusual in many of our northern rivers, continuing to run under the surface of the sand, and requiring very slight digging or even scratching, to be got at. The general course throughout the day was about N.W.1/2W. (Camp VI.)

‘September’ 9. — The course down the river was resumed over similar country to that of yesterday. Keeping at the back of some low table-topped hills, at 5 miles the party struck a fine clear deep lagoon, about two miles in from the river, of which it is the overflow. A chain of small waterholes occurs at 12 miles, which were covered with ducks and other water-fowl, whilst immense flocks of a slate-colored pigeon were seen at intervals. They are about the same size as the Bronzewing, and excessively wild.* The river, when again struck, had resumed running. It was still sandy and full of the graceful weeping melaleuca in the bed, where traces of alligators were observed. The country traversed throughout the day was good, but the small plains and flats were thought likely to be swampy in wet weather. Another good stage of 26 miles was made, and the party again camped on the river. The general course was due west. (Camp VII.)

[footnote] * ‘The Phaps Histrionica, or Harlequin Bronzewing.’

‘September’ 10. — Taking his course from the map he carried, shewing the river running north-west, and depending on its correctness, Mr. Jardine bore to the north-west for 15 miles, travelling over sandy honey-combed rises, and low swampy plains, when he reached a watershed to the north, which he then supposed must be the head of Mitchell waters, finding himself misled by his map and that he had left the river altogether, he turned south by west and did not reach it before the end of 8 miles on that bearing, when the party camped on a small ana-branch. The true course of the river would thus be about W. by N. Total distance 23 miles. (Camp VIII.)

‘September’ 11. — This day’s journey was over fine country. The first course was N.W. for about 5 miles, to a large round shallow lagoon, covered with quantities of wild fowl, and thence, following the direction of the river into camp about 13 miles, over a succession of large black soil plains covered with good grasses, mixed herbs, and salt bush. The principal timber being bauhinia, suggested the name of “Bauhinia Plains.” Their width back from the river extended to an average of six miles, when they were bounded by low well-grassed iron-bark ridges. The river was broad and sandy, running in two or three channels, and occasionally spreading into long reaches. Large ana-branches, plentifully watered, left the main channel running back from it from 1 to 3 miles. A great many fishing weirs were observed in the channels of the river, from which it would appear that the blacks live much, if not principally, on fish. They were well and neatly constructed. (Camp IX.)

‘September’ 12. — Alexander Jardine, having now travelled 180 miles from Carpentaria Downs, was convinced that the river he had traced this distance could not be the Lynd of Leichhardt. The reasons which forced this conclusion on him were three: — Firstly, the discription of the country in no wise tallied. Secondly, the course of the river differed. And thirdly, although he had travelled further to the west than Leichhardt’s junction of the Lynd and Mitchell, he had not even been on Mitchell waters, the northern watershed he had been on, on the 10th, being that of a small creek, doubling on itself, and running into this river. Having thus set the matter at rest in his own mind, he determined to re-trace his steps, and accordingly started back this morning and camped at night at the shallow lagoon, passed the day previous. On the way they shot several ducks and a bustard. These are very numerous on the plains, but wild and unapproachable, as they most frequently are in the north. At each camp on his journey Mr. Jardine regularly marked a tree A.J. and the number of the Camp.

‘September’ 13. — The party travelled back over Bauhinia Plains, and camped on the river, near camp 8 of the outward journey. At night they went fishing, and got a number of fine perch, and a small spotted fish. Distance 24 miles.

‘September’ 14. — To-day the party saw blacks for the first time since leaving Carpentaria Downs. They “rounded them up,” and had a parley, without hostility on either side, each being on the defensive, and observing the other. They bore no distinctive character, or apparent difference to the Rockhampton tribes, and were armed with reed speers and wommerahs. For the first time also they met with the ripe fruit of the Palinaria, the “Nonda” of Leichhardt. The distance travelled was 27 miles, which brought them to the 7th camp on the outward journey.

‘September’ 15. — Following up the course of the river, the 6th camp was reached in 26 miles, where the feed was so good that Mr. Jardine determined to halt for a day and recruit the horses. On the way they again passed some natives who were fishing in a large lagoon, but shewed no hostility. They had an opportunity of seeing their mode of spearing the fish, in which they used a long heavy four-pronged spear, barbed with kangaroo bones.

‘September’ 16. — Was spent in fishing and hunting, whilst the horses luxuriated in the abundant feed. They caught some perch, and a fine cod, not unlike the Murray cod in shape, but darker and without scales. At night, there being a fine moonlight, they went out to try and shoot opossums as an addition to the larder, but were unsuccessful. They appeared to be very scarce.

‘September’ 17. — Resuming their journey, the party travelled 21 miles, to a spot about 4 miles below No. 5 camp, on Gaala Creek, and turned out. Here they met with wild lucerne in great abundance, and a great deal of mica and talc was observed in the river. During the day Mr. Jardine shot a bustard, and some fish being again caught in the evening, there was high feeding in camp at night. The bagging of a bustard, or plain turkey as it is more commonly called, always makes a red day for the kitchen. Its meat is tender and juicy, and either roasted whole, dressed into steaks, or stewed into soup, makes a grateful meal for a hungry traveller.

‘September’ 18. — Keeping out some distance from its banks to avoid the stones and deep gullies, the party followed up the river to the junction of Parallel Creek: this was traced, keeping along its bed for the same reason, by which course only they were enabled to avoid them. These, as before described, were very thickly strewn making the journey tedious and severe on the horses, so that only 14 miles were accomplished, when they camped on a large waterhole five miles above the junction. The beautiful Burdekin duck (‘Tadorna Radjah’) was met with, of which Mr. Jardine shot a couple.

‘September’ 19. — Still keeping along the bed of Parallel Creek, the party travelled up its course. This they were constrained to do, in consequence of the broken and stony banks and country on the east side, whilst an abrupt wall of basalt prevented them leaving the bed on the west. At 13 miles they camped for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, on a large creek which received the name of Warroul Creek, suggested by their finding two large “sugar bags” or bees’ nests on it, “Warroul” being the name for bee in the Wirotheree or Wellington dialect. Warroul Creek runs into Parallel Creek from the south-east, joining it about half-a-mile below where it leaves the river, it being as before mentioned an ana-branch of the Einasleih. Leaving Parallel and travelling up Warroul Creek, in 8 miles they reached the gap in the range 12 miles below camp No. 2. This afterwards received the name of Simon’s Gap, and the range it occurs in, Jorgensen’s Range, after Simon Jorgensen, Esq., of Gracemere. Two miles, from the gap they struck a large round swamp which had not been observed on the down journey, the party having kept close to the river, from which it is distant two miles. This was named “Cawana Swamp” There being good grass there, they camped. Native companions (‘Crus Australalasinus’) and the more rare jabiru (‘Myeteria Australis’) were very numerous on it. Total distance 23 miles.

‘September’ 20. — To-day the party made the lagoon mentioned on the 4th inst., a distance of 27 miles, traversing nearly the same ground already described and camped. They again saw a mob of blacks fishing in the river, who, on seeing them, immediately decamped into the ranges on the opposite side and disappeared. The next day, Mr. Macdonald’s station, Carpentaria Downs was reached in 17 miles, the little party having travelled over nearly 360 miles of ground in 18 days. Mr. Jardine found all well at the main camp, but no sign of his brother with the cattle; fifteen days passed before his arrival, during which time Alexander Jardine plotted up the courses of his journey down the Einasleih, and submitted the plan to Mr. Richardson, without, however, shaking the gentleman’s faith as to his position, or that they were on Leichhardt’s Lynd, preferring to dispute the accuracy of the reckoning. It will be seen, however, that the explorer was right, and the surveyor wrong. It being expedient that the party should husband their rations for the journey until the final start, Mr. Macdonald kindly supplied them with what was necessary for their present wants, thus allowing them to keep their own stores intact.

On the 6th of October, Frank Jardine made his appearance with the cattle, a mob of about 250 head of bullocks and cows in good condition. The ensuing three days were spent by the brothers in shoeing the horses, a job of no little tedium and difficulty, they being the only farriers of the party. There were 42 head to shoe, many of which had never been shod before, and as the thermometer stood at 100 degrees in the shade most of the day, their office was no sinecure; they had at first some difficulty in getting a sufficient heat, but after a little experimenting found a wood of great value in that particular. This was the apple-gum, by using which, they could if necessary get a white heat in the iron. At the end of the third day the last horse was shod, and it only remained to get the stores and gear together, and dispose them on the different packs. This was done on the 10th, on the evening of which they were ready for the final start. The party was thus composed: Frank Lacelles Jardine, Leader; Alexander Jardine, Archibald J. Richardson, Government Surveyor; C. Scrutton, R. N. Binney, A. Cowderoy, Eulah, Peter, Sambo and Barney, black boys from the districts of Rockhampton and Wide Bay; 41 picked horses and 1 mule, all in good order and condition.

Their provision was calculated to last them 4 months, and was distributed together with the tools, amunition, and camp necessaries on 18 packs, averaging at the start about 150 lbs. each. It consisted of 1200 lbs. flour, 3 cwt. sugar, 35 lbs. of tea, 40 lbs. currants and raisins, 20 lbs. peas, 20 lbs. jams, salt, etc. The black troopers were armed with the ordinary double-barrelled police carbine, the whites carrying Terry’s breech-loaders, and Tranter’s revolvers. They had very ample occasion to test the value and efficiency of both these arms, which, in the hands of cool men, are invaluable in conflict.

The personalities of the party were reduced to a minimum, and what was supposed to be absolutely necessary, one pack (the mule’s) being devoted to odds and ends, or what are termed in bush parlance, ‘manavlins’. Three light tents only were carried, more for protecting the stores than for shelter for the party.

All were in excellent health, and good spirits, and eager to make a start.


Start from Carpentaria Downs — Order of Travel — Canal Creek — Cawana Swamp — Simons’ Gap — Cowderoy’s Bluff — Barney’s Nob — Casualties in Parallel Creek — Basaltic Wall — Singular Fish — Black Carbonado — Improvement in Country — Search for the Lynd — Doubts — First rain — Error of Starting point — Large ant-hills — Ship’s iron found — Native nets — Second start in search of Lynd — Return — Byerley Creek — The whole party moves forward — Belle Creek — Maroon Creek — Cockburn Creek — Short Commons — Camp Burned — The Powder saved — Maramie Creek — The Staaten — First hostility of Natives — Poison — “Marion” abandoned — Conclusion as to River — Heavy rain — First attack of Natives — Horses lost — Barren Country — Detention — Leader attacked by Natives — Black-boy attacked — A “growl” — Mosquitoes and flies — Kites — Cattle missing — Horses found — Leader again attacked — Main party attacked — Return to the River — Character of Staaten — Lagoon Creek — Tea-tree levels — Junction of Maramie Creek — Reach head of tide — Confirmation of opinion.

‘October’ 11. — At sunrise the cattle was started with Cowderoy and two black-boys, Eulah and Barney, the former acting as pilot. Their instructions were to camp at the swamp at the junction of Pluto Creek, seventeen miles from McDonald’s station, mentioned on 3rd. September. The pack-horses were not got away until half-past 12, two, “Rasper,” and the mule (as often provokingly happens when most wanted) being astray, and having to be hunted for. There was also the usual amount of “bucking” incident to a start, the unpractised pack-horses rebelling against the unwonted load and amount of gear, and with a few vigorous plunges sending pack-bags, pots, hobbles, and chains in scattered confusion all round them. Few starts of a large party occur without similar mischances, but a day or two, suffices for the horses to settle to their work, after which all goes smoothly. The country travelled has been described in the preceding chapter. A hill at five miles on Pluto Creek, received the name of Mount Eulah. On reaching the swamp, the brothers found the cattle party had not arrived. This was the first of many similar annoyances during the journey. It being between 8 and 9 p.m., it was useless to think of looking for them at that time of night. They therefore encamped on the river, intending to return and run the tracks of the cattle in the morning. The distance travelled was about 20 miles.

‘October’ 12. — Leaving Binney in charge of the horses, with orders to feed them about the Lagoon, where there was better grass than at the river, the brothers started at sunrise in quest of the cattle party. They met them at about five miles up Pluto Creek, which they were running down. It appeared that Master Eulah, the pilot, had got completely puzzled, and led the party into the ranges to the eastward, where, after travelling all day, they had been obliged to camp about half-way from the station, and without water. He was very chop-fallen about his mistake, which involved his character as a bushman. The Australian aborigines have not in all cases that unerring instinct of locality which has been attributed to them, and are, out of their own country, no better, and generally scarcely so good as an experienced white. The brothers soon found water for them in the creek under Mount Eulah; after which,returning to the camp, it was too late to continue the journey, particularly as it had been necessary to send one of “the boys” back for a bag of amunition that had been lost on the way. This is the work they are most useful in, as few, even of the best bushmen are equal to them in running a track. The day’s stage of the cattle was about 11 miles.

‘October’ 13. — The cattle started at a quarter-to-six, in charge of Alexander Jardine and two black-boys, while Frank and the rest of the party remained behind to pack and start the horses. This at the commencement was the usual mode of travelling, the horses generally overtaking the cattle before mid-day, when all travelled together till they camped at night, or preceded them to find and form the camp. Two incidents occurred on the way: “Postman,” a pack-horse on crossing a deep narrow creek, fell and turned heels uppermost, where he lay kicking helplessly, unable to rise, until the pack was cut clear of him; and “Cerberus,” another horse, not liking the companionship of the mule, took occasion in crossing another creek to kick his long-eared mate from the top to the bottom of it, to the intense amusement of the black-boys, who screamed “dere go poor fellow donkit” with great delight. The whole course was about 11 miles. The camp on a small dry creek. They procured water in the main channel of the river, on the south side. During the journey at every camp where there was timber, Mr. Jardine cut (or caused to be cut) its number with a chisel into the wood of a tree, in Roman numerals, and his initials generally in a shield.

‘October’ 14. — The distance travelled to-day was only 11 miles, but described by Mr. Jardine, as equal to 20 of fair travelling ground. The course lay over very stony quartz and granite ridges, which could not be avoided, as they ran into the river, whilst the bed of the stream would have been as difficult, being constantly crossed by rocky bars, and filled by immense boulders. The grass was very scarce, the blacks having burnt it all along the river. There were patches where it never grows at all, presenting the appearance of an earthern floor. They encamped at the junction of Canal Creek, under the shade of some magnificent Leichhardt trees (‘Nauclea Leichhardtii’) that grow there, without other water than what they dug for in the sandy bed, and reached at a depth of two feet. On the opposite side and about a mile from the junction there is a swamp, splendidly grassed, which looked like a green barley field, but the water was too salt for the horses to drink, an unusual thing in granite country. The timber of the ridges was cheifly stunted hollow iron-bark, that of the river, bloodwood, and the apple-gum, described as so good for forging purposes; there was a total absence of those tall well-grown gums, by which the course of a stream may usually be traced from a distance. So little was the river defined by the timber that it could not be distinguished at a half-a-mile away.

‘October’ 15. — The party moved to-day as far as the swamp mentioned on the 19th September. It received the name of “Cawana Swamp,” and is described as the best and prettiest camping place they had yet seen. It is surrounded by the high stoney range called Jorgensen’s Range on two sides, north and east, whilst on the south and east it is hemmed in by a stretch of cellular basalt, which makes it almost unapproachable. The only easy approach is by the river from the westward. It is six miles round, and so shallow that the cattle fed nearly a mile towards the middle. The party travelled out of the direct course to avoid the stones, keeping the narrow flats occuring between the river and ridges, which averaged about 200 yards in width; when intercepted by the ridges running into the river, they followed down its bed which is more clearly defined by oak (‘Casuarinae’) and Leichhardt trees than up the stream. The improved travelling allowed them to make the stage of 9 miles in less than four hours, and turn out early. Several large flocks of galaas (‘Cacatua Rosea,’) were seen, and Alexander Jardine shot a wallaby. Before starting, Barney, one of the black-boys had to be corrected by the Leader for misconduct, which had the effect of restoring discipline. On reaching Cawana Swamp, the fires of the natives were found quite fresh, from which it would seem that they had decamped on the approach of the party, leaving plenty of birrum-burrongs, or bee-eaters (‘Merops Ornatus, Gould’) behind them. An observation taken at night gave the latitude 18 degrees 1 minute 59 seconds, which gave about 41 miles of Northing.

‘October’ 16. — The cattle were started away at a quarter-to-four o’clock, this morning, and found an excellent passage through Jorgensen’s Range, by “Simon’s Gap.” The track from this point to the junction of Warroul and Parallel Creeks with the river (where the camp was pitched) was very winding, from having to avoid the basalt, which was laming some of the cattle, besides wrenching off the heads of the horse-shoe nails: it could not be altogether avoided, and made it past noon before the cattle reached the camp. A native companion, a rock wallaby, and a young red kangaroo were the result of the hunting in the afternoon, which saved the necessity of having to kill a beast: this would have been specially inconvenient, if not impossible here, for the natives had burnt all the grass, and there was not a bite of feed for either horses or cattle, had they halted. About 50 blacks, all men, followed the tracks of the party from Cawana Swamp: they were painted, and fully armed, which indicated a disposition for a “brush” with the white intruders; on being turned upon, however, they thought better of it, and ran away. The camp was formed under a red stony bluff, which received the name of “Cowderoy’s Bluff,” after one of the party; whilst a large round hill bearing E.N.E. from the camp was called “Barney’s Nob.” In the afternoon Mr. Binney and Eulah were sent to the river to fish, but as they ate all the caught, there was no gain to the party. For this their lines were taken from them by Mr. Jardine, and they got a “talking to,” the necessity for which was little creditable to the white man. The thermometer at 5 a.m. stood at 80 degrees. The day’s stage about 10 miles N.N.W. Some banksias, currijong, and stringy-bark were noticed to-day, the latter is not a common timber in the northern districts.

‘October’ 17. — All the horses were away this morning: as might have been expected, the poor hungry creatures had strayed back towards the good feed on Cawana Swamp, and were found 5 miles from the camp. The day’s stage was the worst they had yet had. The country down Parallel Creek has already been described, and it took six of the party five hours to get the cattle over three-and-a-half miles of ground: the bed of the creek, by which alone they could travel was intersected every 300 or 400 yards by bars formed of granite boulders, some of which were from 25 to 30 feet high, and their interstices more like a quarry than anything else; over these the cattle had to be driven in two and sometimes three lots, and were only travelled 8 miles with great difficulty. There were several casualties; “Lucifer,” one of the best of the horses cut his foot so badly, as to make it uncertain whether he could be fetched on; and two unfortunate cows fell off the rocks, and were smashed to pieces. The cows were beginning to calve very fast, and when the calves were unable to travel, they had to be destroyed, which made the mothers stray from the camp to where they had missed them; one went back in this manner the previous night, but it was out of the question to ride thirty miles after her over the stones they had traversed. The camp was made in the bed of Parallel Creek, at a spot where there was a little grass, the whole stage having been almost without any. Here the basaltic wall was over 80 feet in height, hemming them in from the west; on some parts during the day it closed in on both sides. An observation at night made the latitude 17 degrees 51 minutes. A curious fishwas caught to-day — it had the appearance of a cod, whose head and tail had been drawn out, leaving the body round. (Camp VIII.)

‘October’, 18. — Another severe stage, still down the bed of Parallel Creek, from which indeed there was no issue. Frank Jardine describes it as a “pass or gorge, through the range which abuts on each side through perpendicular cliffs, filling it up with great blocks of stone,” and adding that “a few more days of similar country would bring their horses to a standstill.” Their backs and the feet of the cattle were in a woeful plight from its effects: one horse was lost, and a bull and several head of cattle completely knocked up. Bad as yesterday’s journey was, this day’s beat it; they managed to travel ten miles over the most villanous country imaginable, with scarcely a vestage of grass, when the camp was again pitched in the bed of the creek. A large number of natives were seen to-day — one mob was disturbed at a waterhole, where they were cooking fish, which they left in their alarm, together with their arms. The spears were the first that had been observed made of reed, and a stone tomahawk was seen, as large as the largest-sized American axe. These blacks were puny wretched-looking creatures, and very thin. They had a great number of wild dogs with them — over thirty being counted by the party. 10 miles, N.W. by W. 1/2 W. (Camp IX.)

‘October’ 19. — The confluence of Parallel Creek with the Einasleih was reached in four miles, after which the country on the river slightly improved; the camp was pitched four miles further on, on a river flat, within sight of a large scrub, on the east side. Four of the cattle that had been knocked up yesterday were sent for before starting, and fetched — the cattle counted and found correct. The river at the camp was about 700 yards wide, with fine waterholes in it, containing plenty of fish. A strange discovery was made to-day. At a native fire the fresh remains of a negro were found ‘roasted’, the head and thigh bones were alone complete, all the rest of the body and limbs had been broken up, the skull was full of blood. Whether this was the body of an enemy cooked for food, or of a friend disposed of after the manner of their last rites, must remain a mystery, until the country and its denizens become better known. Some spears were found pointed with sharp pieces of flint, fastened on with kangaroo sinews, and the gum of the Xanthorea, or grass-tree. (Camp X.)

‘October’ 20. — The last of the stony ground was travelled over to-day, and the foot-sore cattle were able to luxuriate in the soft sandy ground of the river flats. At about 6 miles Galaa Creek was crossed at Alexander Jardine’s marked tree (V in a square), and the Rocky Island at its junction, before mentioned, were seen. At this point the ranges come into the river on each side. The camp was pitched at about five miles further on, at a fine waterhole, where there was good grass — a welcome change for cattle and horses. It was not reached, however, till about 9 o’clock. The river afforded the party some fine fish — cod, perch, and peel, and a lobster weighing more than half-a-pound. Its channels were very numerous, making altogether nearly a mile in width. Scrub was in sight during the whole of the stage, the crests of the broken ridges being covered with garrawon. (Camp XI.)

‘October’ 21. — Mr. Jardine describes to-day’s stage as the best the cattle had experienced since taking delivery of them 230 miles back; the river banks along which they travelled were flat and soft, lightly timbered with box, poplar-gum and bloodwood. From a low table-topped range, which they occasionally sighted on the right, spurs of sandstone ran into the river at intervals, but were no obstruction. A cow had to be abandoned knocked up. A couple of blacks were surprised in the river spearing fish; they set up a howl, and took to the river. In the evening the whole of the party went fishing for the pot, there being no meat left. (Camp XII.) Distance 11 miles. The weather to-day was cloudy for the first time, shewing appearance of rain.

‘October’ 22. — The river was travelled down for 10 miles, through similar and better country than that of yesterday’s stage, and the camp established on a deep narrow well-watered creek, three-quarters-of-a-mile from its junction with the river. Here the Leader determined to halt for a few days to recruit the strength of the horses and cattle, the feed being good; many of the cattle were lame, two of the hacks were knocked up, and several of the pack-horses had very sore backs, so that a “spell” was a necessity. They were now 120 miles from Macdonald’s station, having averaged ten miles a-day since the start

‘October’ 23. — The camp was established at this point (Camp XIII.) pending a reconnaissance by the Leader and his brother to find the Lynd of Leichhardt, and determine the best line of road for the stock. A couple of calves were killed, cut up, and jerked, whilst some of the party employed themselves in the repairs to the saddlery, bags, etc., and Alexander Jardine took a look at the country back from the river. Mr. Richardson plotted up his course, when it was found that it differed from that of the brothers by only one mile in latitude, and two in longitude; he also furnished the Leader with his position on the chart, telling him that the Lynd must be about ten miles N.E. of them, their latitude being 17 degrees 34 minutes 32 seconds S.*

[footnote] *In Mr. Richardson’s journal he mentions the distances as 18 to 20. He also explains that he had two maps, in which a difference of 30 miles in longitude existed in the position of their starting point. Not having a Chronometer to ascertain his longitude for himself, he adopted that assigned by the tracing furnished from the Surveyor-General’s Office.

‘October’ 24. — The brothers started this morning, taking with them Eulah, as the most reliable of the black-boys; they were provisioned for five days. The cattle were left in charge of Mr. Scrutton: the feed being good and water plentiful, the halt served the double purpose of recruiting their strength, and allowing the Leader to choose the best road for them. Steering N.E. by E. at a mile, they passed through a gap in the low range of table-topped hills of red and white sandstone which had been skirted on the way down: through this gap a small creek runs into the river, which they ran up, N.N.E., 3 miles further, on to a small shallow creek, with a little water in it. Travelling over lightly-timbered sandy ridges, barren and scrubby, but without stone, at 9 or 10 miles they crossed the head of a sandy creek, rising in a spring, about 60 yards wide, having about 5 or 6 inches of water in it. The creek runs through mimosa and garrawon scrub for 5 miles, and the spring occurs on the side of a scrubby ridge, running into the creek from the west. At 18 miles they struck an ana-branch having some fine lagoons in it, and half-a-mile further on a river 100 yards wide, waterless, and the channels filled up with melaleuca and grevillea; this, though not answering to Leichhardt’s description, they supposed to be an ana-branch of the Lynd; its course was north-west. They followed its left bank down for three miles, then crossing it, they bore N.N.E. for four miles, through level and sometimes flooded country, when their course was arrested by a line of high ridges, dispelling the idea that they were on the Lynd waters. Turning west they now travelled back to the river, and crossing it, camped on one of the same chain of lagoons which they first struck in the morning, and in which they were able to catch some fish for supper. The distance travelled was 28 miles.

‘October’ 25. — It was impossible to believe that the stream they were now camped on was the Lynd. Leichhardt’s description at the point where they had supposed that they should strike it, made it stony and timbered with iron-bark and box. Now, since leaving the Einasleih they had not seen a single box or iron-bark tree, or a stone. Frank Jardine therefore determined to push out to thenorth-east, and again seek this seemingly apocryphal stream. After travelling for eight miles through sandy ridges, scrubby and timbered with blood-wood, messmate, and melaleuca (upright-leaved) they struck a sandy creek, bearing north; this they followed for five miles, when it turned due west, as if a tributary of the stream they had left in the morning. Having seen no water since then, it was out of the question to attempt bringing the cattle across at this point. It was determined therefore that they should return and mark a line from the Einasleih to the lagoons they had camped on last night, along which cattle could travel slowly, whilst the brothers again went forward to look for a better road from that point, and ascertain definitely whether they were on the Lynd or not. Turning west they travelled 28 miles to the creek they had left in the morning, striking it more than 40 miles below their camp, when, to their surprise it was found running nearly due south and still dry. Here they camped and caught some fish and maramies (cray-fish) by puddling a hole in the creek, which, with three pigeons they shot, made a good supper. At night a heavy thunder-storm broke over them, which lasted from 9 till 12. Frank Jardine here states himself to have been exceedingly puzzled between Leichhardt and Mr. Richardson; one or the other of these he felt must be wrong. Leichhardt describes the stream in that latitude (page 283 Journal) as stony, and with conical hills of porphyry near the river banks, “Bergues” running into it on each side. They had not seen a rise even, in any direction for miles, whilst the creek presented only occasional rocks of flat water-worn sandstone, and the screw-palm ‘Pandanus Spiralis’ occurred in all the water-courses, a tree that from its peculiarity would scarcely have been unnoticed or undescribed. As it was quite unlikely that he should have misrepresented the country, the natural presumption was, that Mr. Richardson must have been in error as to their true position; this was in reality the case, the error in his assumed longitude at starting causing his reckoning to overlap the Lynd altogether. This is easily seen and explained now, but was at that time a source of great uncertainty and anxiety to the explorers.

‘October’ 26. — Crossing over to the west bank of the river, the brothers followed it up the whole day along its windings, the general course being from South-east to East for above 36 miles. They saw none of the porphyry cliffs described by Leichhardt, or stone of any kind. The country traversed, consisted of scrubby flats, and low sandy ridges, timbered with bloodwood, messmate, mimosa, melaleuca, grevillea, and two or three species of the sterculia or curriijong, then in full blossom. Thick patches of a kind of tree, much resembling brigalow in its appearance and grain, were seen on the river banks; but the box, apple-gum, and iron-bark, mentioned by Leichhardt as growing in this latitude were altogether wanting. Large ant-hills, as much as 15 feet in height, which were frequent, gave a remarkable appearance to the country. During their stage the party came on to a black’s camp, where they found some matters of interest. The natives, who were puddling a waterhole for fish, had, as was most frequent, decamped at their appearance, leaving them leisure to examine some very neatly made reed spears, tipped variously with jagged hardwood, flint, fish-bones, and iron; pieces of ship’s iron were also found, and a piece of saddle girth, which caused some speculation as to how or where it had been obtained, and proving that they must at some time have been on the tracks of white men. Their nets excited some admiration, being differently worked to any yet seen, and very handsome; a sort of chain without knots. The camp was made on an ana-branch of the river, were the travellers caught a couple of cod-fish. Their expertness as fishermen was a great stand-by, for they had started without any ration of meat. They experienced some heavy wind and a thunderstorm at night.

‘October’ 27. — Still travelling up the river, the party in about 9 miles reached the lagoons where they were first struck, and turned out for a couple of hours. There was good feed round them, in which the horses solaced themselves, whilst their riders caught some fish and shot some pigeons for dinner, after which they commenced blazing the line for the cattle. They reached the main camp at 9 o’clock at night, having in eight hours marked a line through the best of the sandy tea-tree ridges, between 18 and 20 miles in length; no despicable work for three tomahawks. Mr. Jardine communicated the result of his trip to Mr. Richardson, but that gentleman could or would not acquiesce in the opinion arrived at by the brothers, despite the very conclusive arguments with which it was supported. This opposition occasioned a feeling of want of confidence, which caused them to cease consulting Mr. Richardson on their course, leaving him merely to carry out the duty of his appointment.

‘October’ 28. — The following day was spent in camp, preparatory to a fresh start ahead of the cattle, which, it was decided should leave this camp on the 31st. Some of them could scarcely move, but their number were found correct on counting.

‘October’ 29. — Again taking old Eulah with them, the brothers started on another quest for the Lynd, which, like the mirage of the desert, seemed to recede from them as they approached; setting out late in the day, they camped at night once more on the lagoon, at the end of their marked-tree line, a distance of about 18 miles. They took with them four days’ rations of flour, tea, and sugar, trusting to their guns and fishing lines for their supply of meat.

‘October’ 30. — Starting at half-past 6 in the morning the little party steered N. by W. about 36 miles. At about three-quarters of-a-mile from the river they passed a fine lagoon, and at four miles further on a rocky creek running west with some water in it. Their way lay over soft, barren, sandy ridges, timbered with tea-tree. Eight miles more brought them to a creek where water could be obtained by digging, and at 24 miles further they camped on a large well-watered creek, running N.W.; the whole of the distance was over the same soft, barren, monotonous country. On their way they killed an iguana (‘Monitor Gouldii’), which made them a good supper, and breakfast next morning. The cattle party at No. 13 Camp were left with instructions to follow slowly along the marked-tree line, to camp at the lagoon, and there await the return of the advance party.

‘October’ 31. — An early start was made this morning at a quarter after 6, and 20 or 22 miles were accomplished on the same bearing as that of yesterday, N. by W., over the same heavy barren stringy-bark country. Three small creeks were crossed, but not a hill or rise was to be seen, or any indication of a river to the northward. At this point the heavy travelling beginning to tell on their jaded horses, the Leader determined on abandoning the idea of bringing the cattle by the line they had traversed, and turning south and by west made for the river they had left in the morning, intending to ascertain if it would be the better route for the cattle, and if not, to let them travel down the supposed Lynd (which now received the name of Byerley Creek), on which they were to rendezvous. After travelling 16 miles further on the new bearing, they camped without water, being unable to reach the large creek they had camped on the previous night. The country along the last course was of the same description, low, sandy, string-bark, and tea-tree ridges, without a vestige of water; total distance 38 miles.

‘November’ 1. — Making another early start, and steering S.W. by S., the party reached the creek in four miles, and getting a copious drink for themselves and their thirsty horses, breakfasted off some “opossums and rubbish” they got out of a black’s camp. The stream was 100 yards wide, and well-watered, a great relief after their arid journey of yesterday: large rocks of sandstone occurred inits bed in different places. Crossing it, they followed down its left bank for 8 miles, its trend being N.W., then turning their back on it, they steered due south to strike Byerley Creek. Sixteen miles of weary travelling over wretched barren country brought them to a small sandy creek, on which they camped, procuring water for their horses by digging in its bed. Here they made a supper of the lightest, their rations being exhausted, and “turned in” somewhat disgusted with the gloomy prospect for the progress of the cattle. They again met with the nonda of Leichhardt, and ate of its ripe fruit, which is best when found dry under the trees. Its taste is described as like that of a boiled mealy potatoe.

‘November’ 2. — Continuing on the same course, due south for 18 miles, over the same useless country, the party reached Byerley Creek, striking it at a point 32 miles below the Rendezvous Camp, then turning up its course they followed it for 16 miles, to their hunting camp of the 26th October. Here they camped and made what they deemed a splendid supper off an oppossum, an iguana, and four cod-fish, the result of their day’s sport. Total distance travelled 28 miles.

‘November’ 3. — Following up the creek for 16 miles, the party reached the main camp on the lagoons early in the day. Here they found all right, with the exception that most of the party were suffering from different stages of sandy-blight, or ophthalmia. A calf was killed, and the hungry vanguard were solaced with a good feed of veal. Byerley Creek having been found utterly destitute of grass, badly watered, and moreover trending ultimately to the S. of W., the Leader determined to take the cattle on to the next, which was well watered, having some feed on it, and being on the right course. There were, however, two long stages without water; but it was, on the whole, the best and almost only course open to him. The cattle had made this camp in two stages from the Einasleih. It was, consequently, No. LI. The latitude was found to be 17 degrees 23 minutes 24 seconds: a tree was marked with these numbers, in addition to the usual initial and numbers. The Thermometer at daylight marked 90 degrees, and at noon 103 degrees, in the ‘shade!’

‘November’ 4. — A late start was made to-day, a number of the horses having strayed, and not having been got in. The Brothers went ahead, and marked a line for five miles out to the creek mentioned on the 30th October: it contained sufficient water for the horses and cattle, and was the best watercourse they would get until they reached the next river, a distance of 30 miles. It received the name of “Belle Creek,” in remembrance of “Belle,” one of their best horses, who died at this camp, apparantly from a snake bite, the symptoms being the same as in the case of “Dora,” but the time shorter. Belle Creek is rocky and tolerably well watered, and remarkable for the number of nonda trees on it. Whilst waiting for the cattle the Brothers caught some fish and a fine lot of maramies.

‘November’ 5. — This day appears to have been one of disasters. It opened with the intelligence that sixteen of the horses were missing. Leaving one party to seek and bring on the stray horses, the Brothers started the cattle forward: they left instructions at the camp for the horses to start, if recovered before 3 o’clock; if not, to be watched all night, and brought on the next day. They then started, and preceding the cattle, marked a line for 15 miles to “Maroon Creek.” Here they camped without water, waiting with some anxiety for the arrival of the pack-horses. Hour after hour passed but none appeared, and as night closed in, the Brothers were forced to the conclusion that something must have gone wrong at the camp. They could not however turn back, as they had to mark the next day’s stage for the cattle to water, there being none for them to-night, and only a little for the party, obtained by digging, however, they were relieved by the appearance of a blackboy with rations, who reported that some of the horses had not been found when he left the camp. The night was spent in watching the thirsty cattle.

‘November’ 6. — The cattle were started at dawn and driven on to the watered creek, where they got feed and water at some fine waterholes, it received the name of “Cockburn Creek;” the Brothers as usual preceded them and marked a line further ahead. Arrived there, they spent the rest of the day in fishing whilst uneasily waiting the arrival of the pack-horses. They luckily caught some fish for supper, for night fell without the appearance of the remainder of the party, and they had nothing to eat since the preceding night. The country has already been described.

‘November’ 7. — To-day was spent in camp by the party whilst anxiously awaiting the arrival of the pack-horses, but night fell without their making their appearance. They had nothing to eat, and as there was no game to be got, they decided on killing a calf, but in this they were disappointed, as the little animal eluded them, and bolted into the scrub. They therefore had to go “opossuming,” and succeeding in catching three, which, with a few small fish, formed their supper.

‘November’ 8. — At daylight this morning, Alexander Jardine succeeded in “potting” the calf that had eluded them yesterday, which gave the party a satisfactory meal. Another anxious day was passed without the arrival of the pack-horses, and the Leader had the annoyance of finding on counting the cattle, that between twenty or thirty were missing. Being now seriously anxious about the pack-horses, he determined if they did not arrive that night, to despatch his brother to look after them.

‘November’ 9. — The horses not having arrived, Alexander Jardine started to see what had happened: he met the party with them half way, and learned some heavy news. In the afternoon of the 5th (the day on which the Brothers started with the cattle), the grass around the camp had, by some culpable carelessness, been allowed to catch fire, by which half their food and nearly all their equipment were burnt. The negligence was the more inexcusable, as before starting, Alexander Jardine had pulled up the long grass around the tents at the camp, which should have put them on their guard against such a contingency, one for which even less experienced bushmen are supposed to be watchful during the dry season. The consequences were most disastrous: resulting in the destruction of 6 bags of flour, or 70 lbs. each, or 420 lbs., all the tea save 10 lbs., the mule’s pack, carrying about 100 lbs. of rice and jam, apples, and currants, 5 lbs. gun-powder, 12 lbs. of shot, the amunition box, containing cartridges and caps, two tents, one packsaddle, twenty-two pack-bags, 14 surcingles, 12 leather girths, 6 breechings, about 30 ring pack-straps, 2 bridles, 2 pairs blankets, 2 pairs of boots, nearly all the black boys’ clothes, many of the brothers’, and 2 bags containing nicknacks, awls, needles, twine, etc., for repairs. It was providential the whole was not burnt, and but for the exertions of Mr. Scrutton, all the powder would have gone. He is described as having snatched some of the canisters from the fire with the solder melting on the outside. They had succeeded in rescuing the little that was saved by carrying it to a large ant-hill to, windward. Their exertions were no doubt great and praise-worthy, but a little common prudence would have saved their necessity, and a heavy and irreparable loss to the whole party, one which might have jeopardized the safety of the expedition. Besides this, they had a less important but still serious loss; “Maroon,” a valuable grey sire horse, that Mr. Jardine hoped to take to the new settlement, died from the effects of poison, or of a snake bite, but more probably the former. The pack-horses joined the cattle in the evening. Stock was taken of the articles destroyed, and the best disposition made of what remained. The latitude of this camp (XVIII.) was 16 degrees 55 minutes 6 seconds.

‘November’ 10. — Leaving instructions with the cattle party to follow down Cockburn Creek, and halt at the spots marked for them, the Brothers, accompanied by Eulah, started ahead, to mark the camps and examine the country. By this means no time was lost. The first three camps were marked at about seven-mile intervals; and at about 25 miles, opposite two small lagoons on the west bank, the Leader marked trees STOP (in heart), on either side the creek, leaving directions for the party to halt till he returned, and a mile further down camped for the night. The banks of the creek were scrubby and poorly grassed, the country sandy, and thickly timbered with tea-tree, stringy-bark, and bloodwood, and a few patches of silver-leaved iron-bark, the nondas being very plentiful along its course. Large flocks of cockatoo parrots (‘Nymphicus Nov. Holl.’) and galaas were seen during the day.

‘November’ 11. — Still continuing down the creek the party made a short stage of 13 miles, one of their horses having become too sick to travel. The early halt gave them an opportunity to go hunting, the more necessary as they were again out of meat. The result was an iguana, a bandicoot, three opossums, and some “sugar bags” or wild honey nests.

‘November’ 12. — Crossing Cockburn Creek the Brothers bore away N.N.W. for 9 or 10 miles, over sandy bloodwood ridges, intersected with broad tea-tree gullies, to two sandy water courses half-a-mile apart, the first 100 and the second 50 yards in width, running west. These they supposed to be heads of the Mitchell. Crossing them and continuing N. by W., they traversed over barren tea-tree levels (showing flood marks from three to four feet high), without a blade of grass, for about 16 miles, when they reached the extreme head of a small rocky creek, where they camped at a waterhole, and caught a great number of maramies, which suggested the name of “Maramie Creek.” It was quite evident that the cattle could not follow by this route, as there was nothing for them to eat for nearly the whole distance. The stage travelled was 26 1/2 miles.

‘November’ 13. — Maramie Creek was followed down for 25 miles: its general course is west. At three miles from the start a small creek runs in from the north-east. The Brothers had hoped that the character of the country would improve as they went down, but were disappointed. Nothing but the same waste of tea-tree and spinifex could be seen on either side, the bank of the main creek alone producing bloodwood, stringy-bark, acacia, and nonda. Though shallow it was well watered, and increased rapidly in size as they proceeded. The natives had poisoned all the fish in the different waterholes with the bark of a small green acacia that grew along the banks, but the party succeeded in getting a few muscles and maramies.

‘November’ 14. — Being satisfied that the cattle could not be brought on by the course they had traversed, Frank Jardine determined to leave Maramie Creek, and make for the large stream crossed on the 12th, so as to strike it below the junction of Cockburn Creek. Turning due south the party passed a swamp at eight miles, and at seventeen miles a lagoon, on which were blue lilies (‘Nymphoea gigantea.’) A mile farther on they reached what they supposed to be the Mitchell, which was afterwards ascertained to be the Staaten, of the Dutch navigators, or one of its heads. At the point where they struck it (about 18 miles below the junction of Cockburn Creek, it is nearly a quarter-of-a-mile in width, sandy, with long waterholes. A dense black tea-tree scrub occupies its south bank. It was here that the party experienced the first decided show of hostility from the natives. They had seen and passed a number at the lily lagoon unmolested, but when arrived at the river whilst the leader was dismounted in its bed, fixing the girths of his saddle, he was surprised to find himself within 30 yards of a party carrying large bundles of reed spears, who had come upon him unperceived. They talked and gesticulated a great deal but made no overt hostility, contenting themselves with following the party for about three miles throughscrub, as they proceeded along the river. Getting tired of this noisy pursuit, which might at any moment end in a shower of spears, the Brothers turned on reaching a patch of open ground, determined that some of their pursuers should not pass it. This movement caused them to pause and seeming to think better of their original intention they ceased to annoy or follow the little party, which pursued its way for five miles further, when they camped in the bed of the stream. Its character for the 8 miles they had followed it up was scrubby and sandy: its course nearly west — long gullies joined it from each side walled with sandstone. They caught two turtles for supper. Total distance travelled 26 miles.

‘November 15. — Making an early start, the party followed up the Staaten for eight miles, the general course being about N.E. Here it was jointed by Cockburn creek, which they ran up until they reached the cattle party encamped at the lagoons, where the Leader had marked trees STOP. They had reached this place on the 13th inst., without further accident or disaster, and seeing the trees, camped as instructed. It was nearly 30 miles from the junction of the Staaten, the country scrubby, thickly timbered, and very broken. Total distance 38 miles.

‘November’ 16. — The whole party was moved down Cockburn Creek, that being the only practicable route. It was the alternative of poor grass or no grass. The trend of the creek was about N.W. by W. At twelve miles they encamped on its bed. A red steer and a cow were left behind poisoned; and another horse, “Marion” was suffering severely from the same cause. They were unable to detect the plant which was doing so much mischief, which must be somewhat plentiful in this part of the country. Leichhardt mentions (page 293) the loss of Murphy’s pony on the Lynd, which was found on the sands, “with its body blown up, and bleeding from the nostrils.” Similar symptoms showed themselves in the case of the horses of this expedition, proving pretty clearly that the deaths were caused by some noxious plant. (Camp XXIII.)

‘November’ 17. — The course was continued down Cockburn Creek. At six miles a large stream runs in from the S.E. which was supposed to be Byerley Creek. This however is only an assumption, and not very probable, as it will be remembered that when the brothers struck it on the 1st November, 40 miles below camp 15, they were surprised to find it trending toward the south. It is not improbable that it may run into the sea between the Staaten and Gilbert. This problem can only be solved when the country gets more occupied, or some explorer traces the Staaten in its whole length. Below this junction Cockburn Creek is from 200 to 300 yards wide, running in many channels, but under the surface. The country is flat and poorly grassed, a low sandy ridge occasionally running into the creek. The timber is bloodwood, string-bark, tea-tree, nonda, and acacia. The party camped 5 miles further down; poor “Marion” being now past all hope of recovery had to be abandoned. Three cows that calved at camp 22 were sent for and brought up. They were kept safely all night, but during the morning watch, were allowed to escape by Barney. At this camp (XXIV.) Scrutton was bitten in two or three places by a scorpion, without however any very severe effects.

‘November’ 18. — Cockburn Creek, now an important stream was followed down for four miles, when it formed a junction with the Staaten. The width of the main stream is about 400 yards, in many channels sandy and dry. It now runs generally west and very winding. The country and timber were much as before described, with the exception that a mile back from the river, (a chain of lagoons) generally occurs, some of them being large and deep and covered with lilies. Beyond, a waste of sandy tea-tree levels, thickly covered with triodia or spinifex, and other desert grasses. The green tree ant was very numerous, particularly in the nonda trees, where they form their nests. The birds were also very numerous, large flocks of black cockatoos, cockatoo parrots, galaas, budgerygars or grass parrots (‘Melopsittacus Undulatus, Gould’), and some grey quail were frequently seen, and on one of the lagoons a solitary snipe was found. Another cow was abandoned to-day. The total day’s stage was 8 miles. The party camped in the sandy bed of the river. A little rain was experienced at night. (Camp XXV.) Latitude 16 degrees 32 minutes 14 seconds.

‘November’ 19. — The party followed down parallel with the Staaten, so as to avoid the scrub and broken sandstone gullies on the banks. They travelled for 11 miles, and camped on one of the lagoons above mentioned. Their course was somewhat to the south of west, so that they were no nearer to their destination — an annoying reflection. In the afternoon some of the party went over to the river to fish. At this spot it had narrowed to a width of 100 yards, was clear of fallen trees and snags, the water occupying the whole width, but only 5 feet deep. Up to this time, Frank Jardine had supposed the stream they were on to be the Mitchell, but finding its course so little agreeing with Leichhardt’s description of it, below the junction of the Lynd, which is there said to run N.W., he was inclined to the conclusion that they had not yet reached that river. Mr. Richardson, on the contrary, remained firm in his opinion that Byerley Creek was the river Lynd, and consequently, that this stream was the Mitchell, nor was it till they reached the head of the tide that he was fully convinced of his error. (See his journal November 18, and December 2.)

‘November’ 20. — To-day the Leader went forward and chose a good camp, 12 miles on, at some fine lagoons. The cattle followed, keeping, as usual, back from the river, the interval to which was all scrubby flooded ground, thickly covered with brush and underwood. They were however unable to reach the camp that night, for when within three miles of it a heavy deluge of rain compelled them to halt, and pitch the tents to protect the rations, all the oilskin coverings that had been provided for the packs having been destroyed in the bonfire, on Guy-Faux Day, at camp No. 16. They could hardly have been caught in a worse place, being on the side of a scrubby ridge, close to one of the ana-branches of the river. It would seem that the natives calculated on taking them at a disadvantage, for they chose this spot for an attack, being the first instance in which they attempted open hostility. Whilst the Brothers were busily engaged in cutting out a “sugar bag,” a little before sundown, they heard an alarm in the camp, and a cry of “here come the niggers.” Leaving their ‘sweet’ occupation, they re-joined the party, in front of which about 20 blacks were corroboreeing, probably to screw up their courage. They had craft enough to keep the sun, which was now low, at their backs, and taking advantage of this position sent in a shower of spears, without any of the party — not even the black-boys — being aware of it, until they saw them sticking in the ground about them. No one was hit, but several had very narrow shaves. The compliment was returned, and as Alexander Jardine describes “‘exeunt’ warriors,” who did not again molest them, although they were heard all around the camp throughout the night. (Camp XXVII.) Course W. Distance 9 miles. A heavy thunderstorm in the evening.

‘November’ 21. – The cattle were started as usual, but as ill-luck would have it, 13 of the horses were not to be found. After waiting for them till four o’clock, all the packs and riding-saddles were packed on the remaining horses, and the party drove them on foot before them to the camp, at the lagoons, three miles on. It was dark before they got there, and well into the second watch before the tents were pitched, and everything put straight. The country continued the same as before described, a barren waste of tea-tree levels to the north, obliging them to keep along the river, although at right angles to their proper course. (Camp XXVIII.) Distance 3 miles W.

‘November 22. – The troubles and adventures of the party seemed to thicken at this point, where the cattle were detained, whilst the missing horses were being sought for. Old Eulah had come in late the preceding night empty-handed, he had seen their tracks, but night coming on he was unable to follow them. He was started away this morning in company with Peter to pick up and run the trail. At two o’clock he returned with two, and reported that Peter was on the trail of the others. They had evidently been disturbed by their friends the natives, for their tracks were split up, and those brought on had their hobbles broken. At dusk Peter brought home three more, without being able to say where the others had got to. During this time, Frank Jardine had a little adventure to himself; wishing to find a better run for the cattle, he started about noon, and rode down the river for about six miles. There was no choice, the country was all of the same description, so he turned back in disgust, when, in crossing the head of a sandstone gully, he heard a yell, and looked round just in time to see a half a dozen spears come at him, and about a dozen natives around and painted, jumping about in great excitement. Going forward a little, he got time to clear the lock of his rifle, from the oil rag which usually protected it. He turned on his assailants, and sent a bullet amongst them; it hit a tree instead of a blackfellow, but as they still menaced him, his next shot was more successful, when seeing one of their number fall, the rest decamped. It was now their turn to run, but before they could cross the bed of the river, which was dry, clear, and about 300 yards wide, he was able to get two good shots at short range. They did not trouble him again that afternoon. They dropped all their spears in the “stampede,” some of which, reed and jagged, were taken home as trophies. They used no “wommerahs.” Peter came in to camp at dark, with 3 horses, having no idea where the others had got to; there were 8 still away.

‘November’ 23. – Sambo, the best tracker among the black-boys, was despatched at sunrise, with Peter, to look for the missing horses. He returned at sundown with the mule, which he had found on the opposite side of the river, but he had seen no traces of the rest. Peter came in after dark, without any, he had seen the tracks of the natives on the horse tracks, and related in his own jargon, that “blackfella bin run’em horses all about” and “that bin brok’em hobble.” He had also seen two or three of the blacks themselves, at the lagoon where the brothers met them on the 14th, and had some parley with them — he described them a “cawbawn saucy” “that tell’im come on, me trong fella, you little fella,” and after chaffing him in their own way, sent as many spears at him as he would stand for. The detention caused by the loss of the horses, was a serious matter, whilst the hostility of the natives was very annoying, keeping the party constantly on the alert. The interval was occupied in patching up the ration tent, with portions of the other two, so that they had now one water-proof to protect their stores. Some good snipe and duck shooting might have been got round these lagoons, but as nearly all their caps had been destroyed by the fire, it was not to be thought of. The scarcity of these and of horse-flesh alone prevented the Brothers from turning out and giving their troublesome enemies a good drilling, which, indeed, they richly deserved, for they had in every case been the agressors, and hung about the party, treacherously waiting for an opportunity to take them by surprise. The detention also was due to them, which was a matter of some anxiety to the Leader, when it is considered that the party was in a level flooded country, without a rise that they knew of within fifty miles, and that the rains of the last ten days portended the breaking up the dry season.

‘November’ 24. – This morning Frank Jardine went out with Eulah, and succeded in finding 5 more of the horses, scattered all over the country, their hobbles broken, and as wild as hawks. He sent Eulah along the tracks of the last two, who were evidently not far ahead, and brought the others in himself. These two “Cerebus” and “Creamy,” were the best and fattest of the pack-horses. Their loss would have made a serious addition to the loads of the remainder, who had already to share 400lbs. Extra in consequence of the poisoning of the three already lost. Whilst waiting for and expecting their arrival every hour, the different members of the party amused themselves as best they might by fishing, opossum, sugar-bag hunting, and nonda gathering. The monotony of the camp was also broken by a little grumbling, consequent on an order from the Leader against the opening of the next week’s ration bag. The party had, during the halt consumed a week’s rations a day and a-half too soon, hence the order, which was a wise precaution. The rations were calculated with care to last through the journey, but, unless a restriction had been placed on the consumption, this could not be hoped for. But it is difficult to reason with hungry men.

‘November’ 25. – Another day passed without finding the two missing horses. Sambo and Eulah were sent out in quest of them, but returned unsuccessful, giving it, as their opinion that “blackfella bin ‘perim ‘longa ‘crub.” Peter and Barney were then despatched with orders to camp out that night and look for them all next day. A steer having been killed last night, the day was passed in jerking him. The day was very unpropitious as there had been a shower of rain in the morning, and there was no sun, so it had to be smoked with manure in one of the tents. What with the mosquitoes and sand-flies, men, horses, and cattle were kept in a continual fever. The horses would not leave the smoke of the fires, the cattle would not remain on the camp, and the men could get no rest at night for the mosquitoes, whilst during the day the flies were in myriads, and a small species of gad-fly, particularly savage and troublesome. Another source of annoyance was from the flocks of crows and kites, the latter (‘Milvus Affinis’) are described by Leichhardt as being extraordinarily audacious, during his journey through this part of the country, and they certainly manifested their reputation now. Not content with the offal about the camp, they would actually, unless sharply watched, take the meat that was cooking on the fire. The black-boys killed a great many with “paddimelon” sticks, and reed spears, (the spoils of war) but with little effect. “When one was killed, twenty came to the funeral.” Old Eulah was a great proficient in this exercise, and when in action with his countrymen, was always anxious to throw their own spears back at them.

‘November’ 26. – One of the party went to sleep during his watch last night, by which fifteen head of cattle were allowed to stray away from the camp. It was not the first time that this very grave fault had occurred, the mischief caused by which, can sometimes, hardly be estimated. In this case, however, it verified the proverb, it is an ill wind, etc., for whilst looking for the stragglers Frank Jardine luckily “happened” on the missing horses “Cerebus” and “Creamy” about 7 miles down the river. They had evidently been frightened by the blacks. Seven of the cattle only were found, leaving eight missing which was very provoking as it was necessary to shift the camp (on which they had now been detained six days) for all the stock where looking miserable. Neither horses nor cattle would eat the grass, which had ceased to have a trace of green in it, but rambled about looking for burnt stubble. The day was close and sultry with loud thunder and bright lightning, which very much frighened the horses. The natives were heard cooeying all round the camp during the night, but made no attack, remembering probably the result of the Sunday and Tuesday previous.

‘November’ 27 – Everything was ready to pack on the horses before daylight this morning, but most provokingly “Cerebus” was again missing. Leaving orders for the partyto start if he was not recovered before noon, the Leader pushed on to mark a camp for them. At about three miles he came on to a chain of fine lagoons, running parallel to and about four miles from the river. The intervening country was one tea-tree level all flooded, but a narrow strip of soft sandy flat occurred on the banks of each, timbered with blood-wood, stringy-bark, and box. Following these down he marked a camp at about nine miles, then crossed over to the river to look for the cattle. He had not followed it far when he saw a mob of blacks. They did not molest him, so he passed them quietly, as he thought, but about two miles further on, in some scrubby sandstone gullies, as he was riding along looking for tracks, a spear whistled past, within six inches of his face. Pulling up, he saw seven natives, all standing quietly looking on at the effect of the missile: the fellow who threw it never threw another. Pursuing his way, pondering on the fatality that had brought about collisions on two Sundays running, he met the cattle, and found the party in some excitement; they too had had a shindy. The natives had attacked them in force, but no one was hurt, whilst some of their assailants were left on the ground, and others carried away wounded. It was found that they would not stand after the first charge — and a few were hit. (Camp XXIX.) Distance 9 miles. Course W. by N.

‘November’ 28. – All hopes of finding the eight missing head of cattle, lost from camp 28, had to be abandoned, for the reason that the horse-flesh could not hold out in looking for them. The cattle were moved down along the lagoons, which in about two miles narrowed into a defined creek, sandy, with occasional lagoons. This was explored ten miles by the Leader, and the question as to whether he should choose that route, or follow the river was decided for him. The banks were either utterly barren or clothed with spinifex, and the country on either side the same worthless tea-tree levels. He was therefore determined to take the cattle back on to the river, which was not much better, and led them away from their course. The prospects of the Brothers were rather dispiriting. To attempt striking north was out of the question, whilst every mile down the river took them further away from their destination, and their horses were falling away daily, so much so, that if the feed did not soon improve, there would not be one capable of carrying an empty saddle. The rainy season too was at hand, and the level and flooded nature of the country they were in, would, were they caught there by the floods, endanger the safety of the party. It was therefore with no little anxiety that they watched the weather, and searched for a practicable line which would allow of their steering north. (Camp XXX.) Latitude 16 degrees 26 minutes 53 seconds. Distance 10 miles, W. by N.

‘November’ 29. – Keeping a south-west course, so as to strike it lower down, the cattle were again taken on to the river, which they reached in about nine miles; then travelling about another mile down its banks, encamped. These were now decidedly more open, and the country generally improved. The same strip of soft sandy flat about half-a-mile wide continued, but better grassed, although the spear grass was far too common. Bloodwood, stringy-bark, applegum and acacia timbered the north bank; whilst on the south, tea-tree flats, covered with spinifex, ran close down to the bed, the bank itself being of red clay. Two channels, together making a width of about 300 yards, formed the bed, which was sandy, and held very little water on the surface. No large trees occurred, save now and then a vagrant nonda. Another cow was lost to-day, and “Lottie,” a favorite terrier, was missing. The latitude of Camp 31 was supposed to be 16 degrees 31 minutes 53 seconds, but doubtful.

‘November’ 30. – The river was followed down to-day for 11 miles. It was very winding and irregular in its width. At the camp it was only 60 yards wide and running in one channel, whilst a mile above, it measured nearly 400. Its general course was nearly west. The creek which is formed by the lagoons, on which the party were so long detained was crossed at about nine-and-a-half miles. The country at its junction is flooded for a long distance back, and the river bed sandy and thickly timbered. Although the country generally had decidedly improved, inasmuch as that it was more open, devoid of scrub, and the box flats on the river extending further back on each side, it was by no means good. The flats were very scantily grassed, chiefly with sour water grasses and spinifex, and shewed by the flood marks that they must be quite impassable during floods or wet weather. The dreary tea-tree levels might be seen in glimpses through the white box of the flats extending far beyond. Several small swamps were passed during the day, on which ducks and other water-fowl were very numerous, the stately native companion stalking near the margins. The large funnel ant-hills occurred from 2 to 15 feet high. The Fitzroy wallaby was plentiful, and the Leader shot an emeu. Some large flights of white ibis, and slate-colored pigeons passed high overhead, flying north, which might be a good indication. Peter was sent back to seek for Lottie, but returned in the evening unsuccessful.

‘December’ 1. – Maramie Creek was crossed this morning at its junction with the river, into which it flows in two channels, about 60 or 70 miles from the point where the brothers first struck it on the 12th of November, while searching for a road to the northward. Its total width is about 120 yards. The general course of the river was slightly to the north of west, but very winding, some of its reaches extended for nearly four miles. Numerous ana-branches occurred, the flats separating them, being three miles in breadth, timbered with flooded box and tea-tree, their banks well grassed. It would be a dangerous country to be caught in by the floods. Two parties of blacks were passed fishing on the river, but they took no notice of the party, and were of course not interfered with. They used reed spears pointed with four jagged prongs, and also hooks and lines. Their hooks are made with wood barbed with bone, and the lines of twisted currejong bark. Distance travelled to-day 10 miles. The Camp XXXIII. in latitude 16 degrees 27 minutes 30 seconds.

‘December’ 2. – The river was travelled down through similar country for eleven miles, when the party reached the head of the tide, and camped on a rocky water hole in an ana-branch, the river water not being drinkable. The course was to the southward of west. It was now beyond a doubt, even to Mr. Richardson, that this river was not the Mitchell, for neither its latitude, direction, or description corresponded with Leichhardt’s account. It was also perceived that the longitude of the starting point must have been incorrect, and very considerably to the westward, as their reckoning, carefully checked, brought them much too near the coast. The Brothers therefore became satisfied of what they had long believed, that they had never been on the Lynd at all, or even on its watershed, and that what they were on was an independent stream. They therefore named it the “Ferguson,’ in honor of Sir George Ferguson Bowen, Governor of Queensland, but there is little doubt that it is the Staaten of the Dutch navigators, or at least its southern branch. Should a northern branch eventually be discovered, which the delta and numerous ana-branches make a probable hypothesis, the stream explored by the brothers might with propriety retain the name they gave it. At eight miles from the start the character of the country changed from the prevailing flats, to a kind of barren sandstone and spenifex ridges. On pitching the camp the fishing-lines were put into requisition, but without success. It is remarkable, that on reaching the salt water, not far from this spot, Leichhardt was similarly disappointed, after having counted on catching and curing a good quantity of fish, the whole day’s work of Brown and Murphy being “a small siluus, one mullet, and some guard-fish,” ‘qu.’ gar-fish.

‘December’ 3. – To-day’s stage was a short one, and was hoped to have been the last on this miserable river, which was now looked upon as undoubtedly the Staaten. It had in some measure improved. The timber was much larger and finer, and the lagoons extensive and deep. But a heavy storm which came down, and compelled them to camp early, soon proved what the country would be in the wet season. With this one heavy fall of rain it became so boggy that the horses sank in up to their girths. Hitherto the grass had been so scanty that the party could not halt for a day to kill. They had consequently been four days without meat. It was determined, therefore, to stop and kill a beast, preparatory to a start north, the feed having slightly improved in common with the timber. In addition to the steer that was slaughtered, a shovel-nosed shark was caught and jerked in like manner with the beef. In the afternoon Alexander Jardine explored down the river for seven miles, seeking for a good spot for turning off. The country still improved: the river was completely salt, and in one continuous sheet of running water, in two channels 300 or 400 yards in width, and together about half-a-mile at the spot where he turned back. Here it was flat and shallow, and fordable at low water. Mangroves and salt-water creeks commenced as described by Leichhardt,* and alligator tracks were seen. (Camp XXXV.) Latitude 16 degrees 26 minutes 39 seconds.

[footnote] *See Journal, page 320. It was at this point that he threw away his horse-shoes and other heavy articles.

‘December’ 4. – The beef, shark, and a few cat-fish were jerked, and all the stores and loading spread out and re-distributed on the packs, and as this put the camp into some confusion, the Leader thought it well to shift it for a few miles, to let the packs shake into place before the final start. They therefore moved down three miles to the commencement of the mangroves, into a patch of the best feed they had seen since they left the Einasleih. At this point the banks were very soft and sandy, growing spinifex; the stream in numerous channels, altogether half-a-mile across, and the tide rose and fell about twenty-two inches. Here they camped, intending to make an early start on the following morning. Time was now an object of the utmost importance to the progress, if not to the safety of the party: Frank Jardine was aware that the Mitchell, which he had hoped long ere this to have left behind him, was still ahead, at least 40 miles away, without certainty of water until it was reached, whilst if caught by the floods he would probably be stopped by this important stream. It was with some anxiety therefore that he hastened preparations for the start. How his hopes were deferred and how fortune seemed to laugh at his endeavours to push forward on his course will now be narrated, and it will be seen how good bushmen with high hearts can overcome obstacles, and meet difficulties that would appal and baffle ordinary travellers.


Leave the Staaten — Half the horses away — Fresh troubles — Mule Lost — Sambo knocked up — Search for mule — Perplexity — “Lucifer” goes mad — Final attempt to recover him — Marine Plains — Search for Deceiver — Found dead — Salt Lagoon — Arbor Creek — Country improves — Good Camp — Eulah Creek — The Brothers attacked — Reach the Mitchell — Cow poisoned — Battle of the Mitchell — An ambush — Extent of flooded Country — Reach head of tide — Heavy rain — A “Blank run” — Leave the Mitchell — Good Coast Country — Balourgah Creek — Blue grass — Banksia — The Eugenia — Green Ant — Hearsey Creek — Holroyd — Creek Dunsmuir Creek — Thalia Creek — Black boy chased by natives — Another encounter — Cattle scattered by thunder-storm — Rainy Season — Macleod Creek — Kendall Creek.

‘December’ 5. – Turning their backs on the Ferguson or Staaten the party steered north, and at starting crossed the head of the sand-flats, described by Leichhardt. The rest of the day’s stage was over sandy ridges covered with tea-tree and pandanus, tolerably grassed, no creek or water-course of any description occurred along the line, and the party had to camp without water at about 13 miles: but as the Leader had not expected to find any at all for at least 40, this was not thought much of. The camp though waterless was well grassed, and by dint of searching a small pool of slimy green water was found before dark, about two-and-a-half miles to the N.N.W. in a small watercourse, and by starting off the black boys, enough was procured in the “billies” for the use of the party for supper. This is marked a red day in Frank Jardine’s diary, who closes his notes with this entry. “Distance 13 miles. Course North at last.” (Camp XXXVII.)

‘December’ 6. – The satisfaction of the party in getting away from the Staaten and travelling on the right course was destined to receive a check, and the Brothers to find they had not yet quite done with that river. This morning about half the horses were away, and a worse place for finding them, saving scrub, could hardly be imagined. It was fortunate that the pool of water mentioned yesterday had been found, as the cattle would have had to turn back to the river, but this they were saved from. They were started away for the water at day-break, in charge of two of the black boys, with instructions to stay and feed them there until the horses came up or they were relieved by Binney. No horses coming in, Binney was sent after them. The Brothers searching for the horses, followed an hour-and-a-half after, but on arriving at the pool found the cattle and boys but no Binney. Returning to the camp they instructed the party to shift the packs to the pool on the twelve horses that had been found. Binney here came into the camp along the yesterday’s tracks. He had missed the cattle and did not know where he had been to. He was started again on the cattle track by the Brothers, who then went in search of more water, sending two more black boys to look for the horses. At about four miles away they themselves came on to their tracks, which they ran for about eight miles towards the coast, when they found six. Continuing to follow the trail they were led to their 35th camp on the Staaten, when they found three more. Here, as the sun went down they were obliged to camp, and after short hobbling the horses laid down by their fire, supperless, and without blankets. They saw no water through the whole of the day, which was the cause of the restlessness of the horses the previous night, and of their straying, in spite of short hobbles. The myriads of mosquitoes too, which now annoyed them may possibly have contributed to that end.

‘December’ 7. – Leaving the nine horses hobbled to feed near the water the Brothers separated, one taking up and the other down the river to look for the others, in hopes that they might also have turned back, but met again in the afternoon, each without success. Starting back (with the nine recovered yesterday) at about two o’clock, they returned to the camp, where fresh troubles awaited them. Only two of the others had been found, and the party with the pack-horses had succeeded in losing the mule, together with his pack. Whilst preparing to start they had allowed him to poke away unperceived in the scrubby timber, and did not miss him till ready to start. Sambo had been at once despatched on his tracks but had not yet returned. Binney had lost himself a second time and only rejoined the camp at dark last night, after having ridden the whole day, probably in a circle, without finding either horses or water. The two black boys had been equally unsuccessful. Eulah and Barney were now despatched with orders to camp out until they found the missing horses, five of which, besides the mule, still were away. In the evening Sambo returned quite exhausted for want of water, not having seen or tasted any, or any food during the too days of his absence. For an hour after coming into camp he was quite dilirious. When sufficiently recovered and collected to speak he stated that he had followed the tracks of the mule (who had evidently been galloping) through the tea-tree levels, at the back of camp 35, when he was obliged to turn back for want of water. This accident, the result of gross carelessness, together with frequent cases of less importance, induced in the Leader a want of confidence which caused him great anxiety when away from the party, to which indeed he never returned without a feeling of disquietude, which was not allayed until he learned that all was well — a harassing feeling, which few but those who have experienced the responsibility of the conduct and success of a similar expedition can fully appreciate. The water at this camp was very bad, but still under the circumstances, a great God-send. There were two holes equi-distant half-a-mile from the one they were on, up and down the creek. The upper one was the deepest, having many ducks, terns, and cranes on it. All three were surrounded with a fringe of green rushes. By digging wells and allowing the water to drain in, it was drinkable, although very brackish. (Camp XXXVIII.) Latitude 16 degrees 13 minutes 45 seconds.

‘December’ 8. – At 4 o’clock this morning Alexander Jardine started with Sambo after the mule. The Leader remained with the party employing the day in exploring ahead for about 18 miles, in the hope of finding water for a stage. This was a paramount necessity, for the weather was so hot and the country so dry that twenty-four hours without drinking drove the cattle nearly mad, their drivers suffering almost equally. Finding no water during this search Mr. Jardine was again in perplexity. Supposing the Mitchell to be 40 or 45 miles ahead, the cattle could not reach it without water. On the other hand if the coast were followed, it was probable that on reaching the Mitchell they would have to trace it up 40 or 50 miles before it could be crossed. The latter however seemed to be the best course, if not the only one. The intention of Alexander Jardine was to have got on to the mule’s tracks, and run them over again until he “pulled” him, but the ground being baked hard, stony, and grassless Sambo was unable again to pick them up. However, whilst looking for the mule’s tracks they found three more of the horses, on a small creek, fourteen miles from the camp, which ran into the river below the last camp on it. He now determined to look for the other two,

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