JOURNAL OF MR. STUART’S SUCCESSFUL EXPEDITION ACROSS THE CONTINENT OF AUSTRALIA. FROM DECEMBER, 1861, TO DECEMBER, 1862.
Mr. Stuart made his public entry into Adelaide on Monday, 23rd September, and reported himself to the authorities. Almost at the same time the Victorian Government obtained their first traces of the survivors of the ill-fated expedition under Burke and Wills.* (* The news of their death reached Melbourne on November 2nd.) The South Australian Government had such confidence in Mr. Stuart that, on his expressing his readiness to make another attempt to cross the continent, they at once closed with his offer, and in less than a month (on October 21st) the new expedition started from Adelaide to proceed to Chambers Creek, and get everything in order there for a final start. Mr. Stuart accompanied them for a few miles to see that everything went on well, when, one of the horses becoming restive, he advanced with the intention of cutting the rope which was choking the animal; the horse reared and struck him on the temple with its fore foot, knocking him down and rendering him insensible. The brute then sprang forward and placed one of his hind feet on Mr. Stuart’s right hand, and, rearing again, dislocated two joints of his first finger, tearing the flesh and nail from it, and injuring the bone to such an extent that amputation of the finger was at first thought unavoidable. By careful treatment, however, it was unnecessary to resort to such a course, and in five weeks the leader was able to start to overtake his party, some of whom were to remain at Moolooloo until he joined them.
In no way discouraged either by his own unlucky accident and previous want of success, or by the melancholy end of his brother explorers, Burke and Wills, Mr. Stuart arrived at Moolooloo on Friday, December 20th, and at Finniss Springs on the 29th. The names of the party were as follows:
John McDouall Stuart, Leader of the Expedition.
William Kekwick, Second Officer.
F.W. Thring, Third Officer.
W.P. Auld, Assistant.
John McGorrerey, Shoeing Smith.
J.W. Waterhouse, Naturalist to the Expedition.
Besides these, there were at starting, Woodforde and Jeffries; but at Finniss Springs, the latter struck one of his companions, and, on being called to account by his leader, refused to go any further. As to the former, when quitting Mr. Levi’s station on January 21st, it was arranged, in order to lighten the weak horses, that the great-coats of the party should be left, but Woodforde objected to this, and said he would not go unless he had his great-coat with him. Mr. Stuart had very properly decided not to take any man who refused to obey orders, and he therefore started without him. The next day Woodforde rejoined the party near Milne Springs, but did not accompany them many days longer; for on February 3rd, shortly after starting, he asked McGorrerey to hold his gun while he returned to get something he had left behind at the previous night’s camp. About an hour afterwards, McGorrerey discovered a piece of folded-up paper on the nipple of the gun, and on examination this proved to be an insolent note, addressed to his leader, stating that he had gone back, taking with him a horse, saddle, bridle, tether-rope, and sundry other things not belonging to him. Mr. Stuart had been much dissatisfied with his conduct for some days, and had made up his mind to send him back, believing that he was doing everything in his power to discourage the party, and bring his leader’s authority into contempt.
At Marchant Springs, where they arrived on February 15th, they began to experience annoyance from the natives. On the 17th, as Auld was approaching the water-hole, a native who was there called to some others who were posted in trees, and shortly afterwards a great cloud of smoke was seen to windward, coming towards the camp. It was evidently their intention to attack the exploring party under cover of the smoke, “but Thring, while looking for the horses, came suddenly on three of them concealed behind a bush, armed with spears and boomerangs; he did not perceive them until within twelve yards of them. They immediately jumped up, and one of them threw a boomerang at him, which fortunately missed both him and his horse. He was obliged to use his revolver in self defence,” but with what result Mr. Stuart does not state.
The excessive heat of the weather now proved a great hindrance to the expedition. They had already lost so many horses that a large part of their provisions, etc. had to be abandoned on various occasions. On February 23rd, Mr. Stuart writes:
“Before reaching this place (the Hugh) five other horses gave in, and were unable to proceed further. I cannot understand the cause of the horses knocking up so much; every one of them has fallen off the last week. Whether it is the excessive heat or the brackish water of the Finke, I am unable to say. Last night I tried some citric acid in the water of the Finke, and it caused it to effervesce, showing that the water contained soda.” It was afterwards ascertained that the horses were suffering from worms, which may partially account for their failing strength.
After leaving the Hugh, on February 25th, they were again annoyed by the natives. When about half-way through the gorge, they “set fire to the grass and dry wood across the creek, which caused a dense smoke to blow in our faces. I had the party prepared for an attack. After passing through the smoke and fire, three natives made their appearance about twenty-five yards off, on the hill side, armed with spears and shields, and bidding us defiance by placing the spears in the womeras, and yelling out at the highest pitch of their voices. I ordered Auld to dismount and fire a shot a little distance on one side of them, to let them know what distance our weapons carried. The ball struck the rock pointed out to him to aim at, and stopped their yelling, but seemed to have no other effect. I again ordered him to fire at the rock on which the middle one of the three was standing; the shot was a good one, for the ball struck the desired spot, and immediately had the effect of sending them all off at full speed.”
Again, on March 5th, while crossing the plains under Mount Hay, they came suddenly on three natives armed with long spears and shields, who ran off into the scrub. A short distance further, while watering the horses at some rain water, these three natives returned, accompanied by four others, and made signs of hostility, by yelling and shaking their spears, and performing other threatening antics while widely separating themselves in a half-circle. Mr. Stuart says: “I had the party prepared to receive an attack; but when they saw us stationary they approached no nearer. I ordered some of the party to fire close to them, to show them we could injure them at a long distance, if they continued to annoy us, but they did not seem at all frightened at the report of the rifles nor the whizzing of the balls near to them, since they still remained in a threatening attitude. With the aid of a telescope we could perceive a number of others concealed in the belt of scrub. They all seemed fine muscular men. There was one tall fellow in particular with a large shield and a very long spear (upwards of twelve feet), which he seemed very anxious to use if he could have got within distance. We crossed the creek, and had proceeded a short distance across the plain, when they again came running towards us, apparently determined to attack; they were received with a discharge of rifles, which caused them to retire and keep at a respectful distance. Having already wasted too much time with them, I proceeded over the plain, keeping a sharp look-out; should they threaten us again, I shall allow them to come close, and make an example of them. It is evident their designs are hostile. Before entering the scrub we could see no signs of them following. About sundown, arrived at Mount Harris without further annoyance.”
A week later (on March 12th) the Centre was passed; and on the 17th, while going from Woodforde Creek through the bad country towards the Bonney, Thring met with an awkward accident, which his leader thus describes: “Being anxious to keep my old tracks through the scrub, as it does not wear the saddle-bags so much as breaking through a new line, I missed them about two miles after starting, in consequence of the earliness and cloudiness of the morning. I sent Thring in search of them, and he, on finding them a short distance off, fired his revolver to let us know that the tracks were found. The young horse he was riding stood the first report very well. I, not hearing the report, was moving on, which caused him to fire again, whereupon his horse backed and threw him with violence to the ground on his chest. He feels his chest is much hurt by the fall. The horse then returned on the tracks at full gallop,” and was not recovered until shortly before sundown.
The party camped at Attack Creek on Friday, March 28th, and at Tomkinson Creek on the 31st. On April 3rd, while crossing the Gleeson, Kekwick’s horse fell back with him in ascending the bank, and broke the stock of his gun, but he himself escaped unhurt. On Saturday, April 5th, they camped at the east end of Newcastle Water, and the following day, “at about 9 o’clock a.m. Kekwick, in endeavouring to shoot some ducks, went towards some native smoke, and was met by two natives, who ran away. In an hour afterwards, five natives came within a hundred yards of the camp, and seemed anxious to come up to it, but were not permitted. Two hours afterwards we were again visited by fifteen more, to some of whom a present was made of some looking-glasses and handkerchiefs; at the same time they were given to understand that they must not approach nearer to the camp, and signs were made to them to return to their own camp, which they shortly did. In the afternoon we were again visited by nineteen of them, who approached within a hundred yards of the camp, when they all sat down and had a good stare at us, remaining a long time without showing any inclination to go. At length some of them started the horses which were feeding near the water, and made them gallop towards the camp. This so frightened the natives that they all ran away, and we were not troubled with them for the rest of the evening.”
The next day the camp was moved to the north end of Newcastle Water, where they remained for a week resting horses and repairing bags, saddles, etc. The Journal then continues as follows:
Monday, 14th April, North End of Newcastle Water. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the party, started with Thring and Frew at 7.15 a.m., on a northerly course, in search of water; and at six miles, on the edge of the open plains, found some rainwater, sufficient for a few days. Proceeded across the plain on the same course; but at three miles saw something like a watercourse, and changed my course to 20 degrees, to see what it was. At two miles I struck a dry course running south-west. Followed it up towards the small rise without finding any water. Three miles further on the same course I ascended a low stony rise, from which I could see nothing but a thick forest of tall mulga and gums. I changed to a northerly course, and, at 4.20 p.m., camped in a forest without water. Wind, south-east.
Tuesday, 15th April, Sturt Plains, Forest. Proceeded on a course of 250 degrees, and at five miles again struck the open plains, and changed to 180 degrees. At one mile I found a fine water hole three feet deep and about forty feet in diameter, the edge of which was surrounded with conglomerate ironstone rock; watered the horses, and proceeded on a southerly course, through grassy plains with stunted gum-trees, to the first water I found yesterday, and camped. The plains and forest are of the same description as I have already given, only that the plains have not quite so many holes in them, and the forest in many places is covered with ironstone gravel. I shall try a course to the north of west to-morrow, to see if I can find water. Wind variable.
Wednesday, 16th April, Frew’s Water Hole, Sturt Plains. Started at 7.45 a.m., on a course of 302 degrees, keeping along the edge of the open plain. I have made many twistings and turnings, but my general course is north-west for ten miles. Seeing a small rise on the open plain, a little to the north of west, I changed to 275 degrees; and at two miles came on some fine ponds of water about one mile and a half long, twenty feet broad, and three feet and a half deep. I examined them on both sides, to see if they would do for a permanent camp for the party as it is a point nearer; and I think I may depend on the water lasting two months without any more rain. I shall camp here to-night, and try another day to-morrow to the westward, and endeavour to make the Victoria, for I can see but little chance of making the Adelaide. By my journal of the 14th, everything is quite dry and parched up; no rain seems to have fallen there for a long time. The last two days have been excessively hot. The further to the west the hotter I find it. The natives seem to be numerous, for their smoke in the scrub is to be seen in every direction. I name these ponds after John Howell, Esquire, of Adelaide.
Thursday, 17th April, Howell Ponds. Started at 7 a.m., on a bearing 10 degrees north of west. At twelve miles crossed the open plains, and entered a thick forest of gums and other trees and shrubs. Seeing that there is no chance of finding water to-day, returned to the ponds. The open plains seem to tend more to the north-west; I shall examine them when I bring the party up to the ponds. Distance, fifteen miles. Wind, south-east.
Friday, 18th April, Howell Ponds. Started for the camp on the Newcastle Water. On my arrival, I found the party all right, but very anxious about me, as I had been absent longer than I intended. No natives had been near them during my absence at this time; smoke was seen all around. Weather hot during the day, but cold at night and in the morning. Wind, south-east.
Saturday, 19th April, North End of Newcastle Water. I shall remain here till Monday, in order to take some lunar observations, as I am not quite certain that my longitude is correct. Wind, south-east.
Sunday, 20th April, North End of Newcastle Water. Wind from the east; blowing strongly during the day, but it dropped a little before sundown, allowing the mosquitoes to annoy us very much.
Monday, 21st April, North End of Newcastle Water. Some of the horses having strayed some distance made it 10 o’clock a.m. before I could get a start. Proceeded through six miles of forest and scrub to the water that I found on the 14th instant; from thence I changed to 301 degrees 30 minutes for nine miles, and then to 275 degrees, and at two miles camped at the ponds I had discovered on the 16th. Native smoke all around us. The day has been very hot, and the flies a perfect nuisance. Wind, south-east.
Tuesday, 22nd April, Howell Ponds. Preparing for a start to-morrow to the north-west in search of water. Wind, south-east.
Wednesday, 23rd April, Howell Ponds. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the party, I started with Thring and Frew at 8.5 a.m., on a course of 284 degrees. At 9.55 (seven miles) changed to 320 degrees. At 11.20 (four miles and a half) crossed the open plain, changing to 40 degrees to avoid the scrub. At one mile and a half changed to west. At one mile changed to north-west. At 2.20 (five miles) changed to 45 degrees. At 3 o’clock (two miles) changed to north. At 3.25 one mile and a half changed to north-west. At 3.45 camped without water. I have skirted the border of the forest land in the hope of finding water, but am disappointed. I have not seen a drop since I started. The plains are covered with beautiful grass, two or three feet high. There are a great many different kinds of birds about, and native smoke all round. I have searched every place where I thought there was the least chance of finding water, but without success. The day has been exceedingly hot. With such hot weather as this I dare not attempt to make the Victoria. The horses could not stand a hundred and forty miles without water. Those I have had with me to-day seem to have suffered enough, and would not stand another two days without. I must therefore return to the camp to-morrow. Wind, calm.
Thursday, 24th April, Sturt Plains. Returned to the camp and found all right. The day has been excessively hot. We have seen nothing new during the journey–the same open plains, with forest between.
Friday, 25th April, Howell Ponds. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the party, started at 8.20 a.m., with Thring and Frew and fresh horses, on a northerly course, in hopes of better success in that direction: course 360 degrees for twenty-two miles; grassy plains, covered in many places with stunted gums, and a new tree with a small green leaf. After that, we entered again a thick forest, and scrub almost impassable. At twenty-eight miles, seeing no prospect of getting through it, I returned two miles to a small open space, where I could tether the horses. I have not seen a drop of water this day’s journey. The forest is so very thick, and so many twistings and turnings are required to pass through it, that, although I travelled thirty miles, I don’t believe I made more than fifteen miles in a straight line. The day again exceedingly hot, with a few clouds. A few birds were seen during this day’s journey, but no pigeons, which are the only sign we have now of being near water. Wind variable.
Saturday, 26th April, Dense Forest. Returned to the camp. The horses felt the heat and the want of water very much. In the forest the heat was almost suffocating. I hope it will rain soon and cool the ground and replenish the ponds, which are drying up fast. There have been a few clouds during the day, but after sundown they all cleared away. Wind, south-east.
Sunday, 27th April, Howell Ponds. A few clouds have again made their appearance, but still no rain. There has not fallen a drop of rain since I left the Woodforde, which was on the 9th of March. Wind, south-east. Latitude, 17 degrees 5 minutes 16 seconds.
Monday, 28th April, Howell Ponds. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the party, started with Thring and King, on a course of 338 degrees, to try and find an opening in the dense forest and scrub, as well as water. At ten miles we crossed the open plain, with stunted gum-trees and long grass. At this point we met with a small ironstone rise, about twenty feet in height. On ascending I was again disappointed in finding before me a dense forest and scrub. Proceeding in our course, it became thicker than any which I had ever encountered before, and was almost impassable. Still continued, and for a short distance in some places it became more open. A little before sundown I camped on the edge of a stunted gum-tree plain. There are a few slate-coloured cockatoos and other birds, which lead me to hope that, in the morning, I may drop across some water. Wind variable, with a few clouds during the day.
Tuesday, 29th April, Sturt Plains. Started on an easterly course, following the flight of the birds; but at five miles crossed the open gum plain, and again encountered the thick forest. Examined every place I could see or think of where water was likely to be found, but was again disappointed–not a drop was to be seen. Changed my course, so as to keep on the plain; at four miles again crossed, and again met the dense forest, but still no water. Changed to south-east, and at ten miles found ourselves on a large stunted-gum plain. Changed to a little east of south, and arrived at the camp without seeing a drop of water. Wind variable, with heavy clouds from the east.
Wednesday, 30th April, Howell Ponds. I feel so unwell to-day that I am unable to go out, besides I shall require my compass case and other things mended; they got torn to pieces in the last journey by the forest and the scrub. Yesterday’s clouds are all gone, and have left us no rain. Another hot day. Wind, east.
Thursday, 1st May, Howell Ponds. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the party, started with King and Thring to the water hole that I discovered on the 15th ultimo; arrived in the afternoon and camped. This water hole I have named Frew’s Water Hole, in token of my approbation of his care of, and attention to, the horses. This waterhole is about twenty feet below the plain, surrounded by a conglomerate ironstone rock. Since my last visit it is only reduced two inches, and is still a large body of clear water from the drainage of the adjacent country; it will last much longer than I anticipated. I shall use my best endeavours to-morrow to find an opening in the thick scrub from north to north-west. The course of the forest seems to run a little west of north, and I am afraid the open plains are surrounded by it; however, I shall try to get through it if I possibly can. Wind, south-east. Day excessively hot.
Friday, 2nd May, Frew’s Water Hole. Started at half-past seven o’clock a.m. Course, 335 degrees. At ten miles, a dense forest and scrub. Changed to 10 degrees east of north. At half a mile struck a water-shed, and followed it north for two miles. Found a little rainwater in it, and at two miles further arrived at its source. At three miles further on the same course changed to 30 degrees east of north. At three miles and a half again changed to 320 degrees, and at about a mile and a half struck some fine ponds of water. At two miles further, arrived at what seemed to be the last water, a small shallow pond. Examined around the plain to try and find others, but without success. A little before sundown, returned to the last water and camped. The first part of the day’s journey was over a stunted-gum plain, covered with grass. At ten miles we again met with thick forest and scrub. I then changed my course to get out of it, and struck the small water-shed running to the east of south. Following it generally for two miles on a northerly course, we met with a little rain water. Continued the same course through a thick forest and scrub for three miles and a half to get through it if possible. At this point it becomes denser than ever. Sent Thring to climb to the top of a tree, from which he saw apparently a change in one of the low scrubby rises, which appeared to be not so thickly covered with scrub as the others. I directed my course to it, 30 degrees east of north, to examine it. I observe that there is some sandstone in the low scrubby rises, which leads me to hope that I may not be far from a change of country. On this last course we travelled three miles, through a dense thicket of hedge-tree, when I observed some large gum-trees bearing 320 degrees, and decided to examine them before leaving the rise. As I approached nearer to it I again sent Thring to climb a tree to see if there was any change. He could see nothing but the same description of forest and scrub. The change that he saw from the other tree was the shade of the sun on the lower mulga bushes, which caused him to suppose that it was more open country. Not seeing any opening in that direction, I changed to the gum-trees. At a mile and a half was delighted at the sight of a chain of fine water holes; their course north-west to south-east, the flow apparently to south-east. I followed one pond, which was about half a mile long and appeared to be deep. A number of smaller ones succeeded. They then ceased, and I crossed a small plain, which shows signs of being at times covered with water. Observing some green and white barked gum-trees on the west side of it, I went to them, and found a small watercourse with small pools of water, which flowed into the plain coming from the north-west. Following it a little further, we met with some more water. A short distance above this it ceased in the dense forest which seems to surround these ponds. I shall endeavour to force my way through it to-morrow to the west of north. Wind, south-east, with a few clouds in the same direction. These ponds I name King’s Ponds, in token of my approbation of his care of, and attention to, the horses, and his readiness and care in executing all my orders. Wind, south-east, with a few clouds in the same direction.
Saturday, 3rd May, King’s Chain of Ponds. Started at twenty minutes past seven a.m., on a course of 350 degrees. At twenty-four miles changed to 45 degrees; at three miles and a half changed to north; at two miles and a half camped. At two miles from our last night’s camp found an easy passage through the forest; the rest of the twenty-four miles was over a well-grassed country, well wooded with gum and some new trees that I had found last year, and occasionally a little scrub, in some places thick for a short distance. On my first course, before changing, I was crossing low ironstone undulations, which caused me to think I was running along the side of one of the scrubby rises. I therefore changed to 45 degrees east of north to make the plain–if there is any–the scrub being so thick that I cannot see more than fifty yards before me. At three miles and a half I found that I was travelling over the same description of small rises and getting into much thicker scrub. I again changed to north, to see if that would lead me into a plain. At two miles and a half it was still the same, and apparently a thick forest and scrub before us. I camped a little before sundown at a small open place to tether the horses. I have not seen a drop of water during the whole journey, nor any place likely to retain it, with the exception of a small flat about six miles from the last camp. The day very hot. Wind, south-east, with a few clouds.
Sunday, 4th May, Dense Forest. Returned to King’s Ponds. This country seems but little frequented by the natives, as we have seen no recent tracks of them. There are a number of cockatoos and other birds about. We have seen no other game, except one wallaby and one kangaroo. There are plenty of old emu tracks about the ponds. Wind, variable. Cloudy.
Monday, 5th May, King’s Ponds. Returned to Frew’s Water Hole and camped. Before sundown the sky became overcast with clouds. Wind variable.
Tuesday, 6th May, Frew’s Water Hole. Towards morning we had a few drops of rain. Returned to the camp and found all well. Yesterday they were visited by a few natives who seemed to be very friendly; they called water ninloo: they were armed with spears, about ten feet long, having a flat sharp flint point about six inches long, with a bamboo attached to the other end. They pointed to the west as the place where they got the bamboo and water also, but they seemed to know nothing of the country north of this; they were tall, well-made, elderly men. After talking for some time they went away very quietly. To-day they have set fire to the grass round about us, and the wind being strong from the south-east it travelled with great rapidity. In coming into the camp, about three miles back, I and the two that were with me narrowly escaped being surrounded by it; it was as much as our horses could do to get past it, as it came rolling and roaring along in one immense sheet of flame and smoke, destroying everything before it.
Wednesday, 7th May, Howell Ponds. Resting. The natives have not again visited us, but their smoke is seen all around. I shall start to-morrow on a course west of north, to try and make the Victoria by that route. I shall take some of the waterbags with me to see how they answer. Wind, south-east. Clouds all gone.
Thursday, 8th May, Howell Ponds. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the party, started with Thring and McGorrerey, also with King and Nash, who are to bring back the horses which carry the waterbags, whilst I with Thring and McGorrerey proceed on a west course. Started at half-past eight a.m., keeping the former tracks made on my previous journey to the westward, to where we met with the thick forest. About a mile beyond, struck a native track, followed it, running nearly north-west, until nearly three o’clock p.m., when we came upon a small water hole or opening in the middle of a small plain, which seems to have been dug by the natives, and is now full of rain water. This is apparently the water that the natives pointed to, for their tracks are coming into it from every direction. This opening I have named Nash Spring, in token of my approbation. I am very much disappointed with the water-bags; in coming this distance of twenty-one miles they have leaked out nearly half. Wind, south east.
Friday, 9th May, Nash Spring. Sent King and Nash with the horses that carried the water-bags back to the depot, while I and the other two, at twenty minutes to eight o’clock a.m. proceeded on a bearing of 290 degrees, following one of the native tracks running in that direction. At about a mile they became invisible; for that distance I observed that a line of trees was marked down each side of the track by cutting a small piece of bark from off the gum-trees with a tomahawk. This I had never seen natives do before; the marks are very old. At eighteen miles and a half struck another track (the trees cut in the same way) crossing our course; followed it, bearing 10 degrees east of north, and at about two miles came on a native well with moisture in it. Followed the valley on the same course, but seeing no more appearance of water, I again changed to my original course, and, at a quarter to four o’clock, finding that I was again entering the dense forest and scrub, I camped at a good place for feed for the horses, but no water. The whole of the day’s journey has been through a wooded country, in some places very thick, but in most open; it is composed of gums, hedge-trees, and some new trees–the gums predominating; there were also a few patches of lancewood scrub. For the first eighteen miles the soil was light and sandy, with spinifex and a little grass mixed. At the end of eighteen miles I again got into the grass country, with occasionally a little spinifex. Wind, south-east. Cold during the night and morning.
Saturday, 10th May, The Forest. Started at five minutes to seven o’clock a.m. (same course, 290 degrees). Almost immediately encountered a dense forest of tall mulga, with an immense quantity of dead wood lying on the ground. It was with the greatest difficulty that the horses could be made to move through it. At a mile it became a little more open, which continued for six miles. At seven miles I thought, from the appearance of the country, that it was dipping towards the north-north-west; I therefore changed my course to north-west, and in less than a mile again entered a dense forest of tall mulga, thicker than I had yet been into. Continued pushing, tearing, and winding into it for three miles. The further I went the denser it became. I saw that it was hopeless to continue any further. We were travelling full speed, and making little more than a mile an hour throughout the ten miles gone over to-day. The country is a red light soil and covered with abundance of grass, but completely dried up. No rain seems to have fallen here for a length of time. We have not seen a bird, nor heard the chirrup of any to disturb the gloomy silence of the dark and dismal forest–thus plainly indicating the absence of water in and about this country. I therefore retraced my steps towards Nash Springs; passed our last night’s camp, and continued on till sundown, one of the horses being completely knocked up. Camped without water. Wind, south-east.
Sunday, 11th May, The Forest. This morning the horse that was so bad last night was found dead, which puts us in a very awkward position–without a pack-horse. We had to leave behind the pack-saddle, bags, and all other things we could not carry with us on our riding-horses. Proceeded to Nash Spring, which we reached after two o’clock p.m., with another of the horses completely knocked up. It was with difficulty that he reached it. I suppose the days being so extremely hot, and the feed so dry that there is little nourishment in it, is the cause of this, as they were horses that had been out with me on my last year’s journey, and had suffered from want of water a longer time than on this occasion. I am nearly in a fix with a long journey before me, the horses unable to do more than two nights without water, and the water-bags losing half their contents in one day’s journey. To make the Victoria through the country I have just passed into would be impossible. I must now endeavour to find a country to the northward and make the Roper. I am very vexed about the water-bags turning out so badly, as I was placing great dependence on them for carrying me through. I must try and push through the best way possible. Wind, south-east.
Monday, 12th May, Nash Spring, West Forest. Proceeded very slowly with the knocked-up horse to the Depot; he appears to be very ill, and is looking very bad this morning. Arrived there and found all right; they had been visited by the natives twice during my absence. They appeared to be very friendly, and were hugging Frew and King, for whom they seemed to have taken a great fancy; they were old, young, and children. Some pieces of white tape were given to them, which pleased them much. They still pointed to the west, as the place where the large water is, and made signs with a scoop to show that they have to dig for it in going through; which I am now almost sure is the case from what I saw of the country in my last journey in that direction. In upwards of fifty miles we did not see the least signs of a watercourse–nor could I discover any dip in the country; it has the same appearance all round; one cannot see more than half a mile before one, and in many places only a few yards. I have been deceived once or twice by what appeared to be a dip in the country, but it turned out to be only lower trees and scrub than what we were travelling through. With a small party I might make the Victoria from here, but there is every chance of losing the horses in doing so; and I should be in a sad predicament to be there without horses, and without the possibility of receiving supplies from the party at the Depot; I should have to perish there. Therefore, I consider it would be folly and madness to attempt it, and might be the cause of sacrificing the lives of both parties. Had the feed been green, or had it any substance in it, I would have tried, but every blade of grass is parched and dried up as in the middle of summer, and the horses have not the strength nor endurance to undergo much privation, of which I have had a proof in the journey I have just taken. After resting a day or two to recover the horses, and get ourselves a little refreshed, I shall move the party up to King’s Ponds, and try to push through wherever I can find an opening. Day very hot. Wind, south-east. A few clouds came up from that quarter after sundown.
Tuesday, 13th May, Depot, Howell Ponds. Resting ourselves and horses. Day again hot, with a few clouds round the horizon. The natives had again set fire to the country all around, which increases the heat. I wish it would come on to rain, and put out their fires, and fill the ponds, which are shrinking a great deal more than I expected. Wind, south-east. Clouds.
Wednesday, 14th May, Depot, Howell Ponds. As I don’t feel well enough to-day, I shall remain here, and start to-morrow morning. This morning, while Thring was collecting the horses, he came on a place where the natives had been encamped a day or two before, and there saw the remains of the bones of one of them that had apparently been burnt; this is another new feature in their customs. Wind, south-east.
Thursday, 15th May, Depot, Howell Ponds. Started with the party across the plain to Frew’s Water Hole, course 15 degrees east of north; found the plain burnt for ten miles. The fire has been so great that it has burned every blade of grass, and scorched all the trees to their very tops. I was very fortunate the other day in having escaped it; nothing could have lived in such a fire, and had we been caught in it we must have perished. Wind, south-east. Clouds all gone, Latitude, 16 degrees 54 minutes 7 seconds.
Friday, 16th May, Frew’s Water Hole. Started at fourteen minutes past eight o’clock a.m., course 345 degrees, for King’s Chain of Ponds. Arrived at about half-past three o’clock p.m. In coming through, one of the horses separated from the rest and bolted off into the dense forest, tearing everything down before him. We got him in again, but with a broken saddle, and the top off one of the bags, which we afterwards recovered. Arrived at the ponds without any further accident. Wind, north-east. Very hot, and a few clouds. Latitude, 16 degrees 38 minutes 53 seconds.
Saturday, 17th May, King’s Chain of Ponds. Sent King and Thring to follow round the flat to see where the ponds go to. About noon they returned, and reported that the water loses itself in a flat, which is surrounded by thick forest and scrub. This certainly is a very pretty place, and a great pity it is not more extensive. It reminds me much of the park land found by Captain Sturt in 1845, where he had his second depot, named Fort Grey. Wind, south-east, with a few clouds.
Sunday, 18th May, King’s Chain of Ponds. In the afternoon the sky became cloudy, and at sundown was quite overcast; the day exceedingly hot, and the wind nearly calm. The clouds came from the north-west, and the little wind there is from the south-east.
Monday, 19th May, King’s Chain of Ponds. As the sky is overcast with clouds, so that I cannot see the sun, and as it is nearly impossible to keep a straight course in such thick country without it, I shall remain here to-day, and if it should break up I shall endeavour to take a lunar observation. At 9 o’clock a.m. it cleared up, which enabled me to take one. The remainder of the day very hot. Wind variable, with clouds from every direction; towards sundown it again settled in the south-east, and all the clouds disappeared without any rain falling.
Tuesday, 20th May, King’s Chain of Ponds. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the party, I started with Thring, King, and Auld, at half-past nine a.m., on a northern course; at one o’clock p.m. changed to 65 degrees, to what appeared to be a bare hill. At a little more than a mile struck a small watercourse running towards the north; followed it, and at about two miles and a half came on some ponds of water, but not so large as those at our depot; at present they are not more than three feet and a half deep. Examined around the wooded plain to see if there was any larger body of water, but could see none. This plain is covered with small gums, having a dark bluish-green leaf with a grey-coloured bark; there are also a few white ones around the ponds of water, which abound with grass. Before reaching the plain we crossed what seemed to be elevated sandy table land, extending about nine miles, covered with spinifex and dark-coloured gum-trees; we also passed two or three narrow belts of tall mulga and hedge-trees which grow on the stony rises, about twenty feet high. These ponds I name Auld’s Ponds, in token of my approbation of his conduct. Wind, south-east. Latitude, 16 degrees 28 minutes 16 seconds.
Wednesday, 21st May, Auld’s Chain of Ponds. Started at twenty minutes past eight o’clock a.m., course north. The morning was so thick, with a heavy fog, that I did not get a start till late. At three miles I found another chain of ponds, but not so large; these I name McGorrerey Ponds. Proceeded on the same course and passed through some thick belts of hedge-tree and scrub; the country then opened and became splendidly grassed, with gums and other trees. We also saw, for the first time, a new gum-tree, having a large broad dark-green leaf, and the bark of a nankeen colour, which gave a very pretty effect to the country. At seventeen miles, not finding any water, and having passed five deep holes surrounded with ironstone conglomerate rock similar to Frew’s Water Hole, but without any water in them, and to all appearance the dip of the country being to the north-east, I have changed my course to that direction, again travelling over a splendidly grassed country for ten miles, occasionally meeting with low stony rises of ironstone and gravel, at the foot of which were some more deep holes without water. In the last three miles we had to get through a few patches of scrub; the grass is all very dry. No rain seems to have fallen here for a long time. At sundown camped without water. Day very hot. Wind variable, with a few clouds. Latitude, 16 degrees 8 minutes 39 seconds.
Thursday, 22nd May, Fine Grass Country. Returned to McGorrerey Ponds. Day very hot, and the horses much distressed for want of water; they have the appearance of being half-starved for a month, and have taken an immense quantity of water, having gone to it about four or five times in an hour. As I am not satisfied that these ponds cease here, I shall try again to-morrow a little more to the east. Wind, south-east.
Friday, 23rd May, McGorrerey Ponds. Gave the horses a little time to feed after daylight in consequence of their having been tethered during the night; the country is so thickly wooded that I dare not trust them in hobbles the whole night, as, if they were lost sight of there would be great difficulty in finding them here. There is still the appearance of a small creek, which I shall follow until it runs out or trends too much to the east. Started at half-past eight o’clock a.m., course 20 degrees east of north, following the small creek about two miles; it seems to be getting larger, with occasionally a little water in it. We have also seen, on both sides of us, ponds with water surrounded by gum-trees; these ponds, when full, must retain water for a long time. We have also seen a new tree growing on the banks of the creek, with a large straight barrel, dark smooth bark, with bunches of bright yellow flowers and palmated leaves. At a mile and a half further the creek is improving wonderfully. We have now passed some fine holes of water, which will last at least three months; at five miles the water is becoming more plentiful and the creek broader and deeper, but twisting and turning about very much, sometimes running east and then turning to the west and all other points of the compass. Having seen what I consider to be permanent water, I shall now run a straight course, 20 degrees east of north, and strike it occasionally to see if the water continues. I have named these Daly Waters, in honour of his Excellency the Governor-in-Chief. Within a hundred yards the banks are thickly wooded with tall mulga and lancewood scrub; but to the east is open gum forest, splendidly grassed. Proceeded, occasionally touching the creek, and always found fine reaches of water, which continued a considerable way. At thirteen miles they become smaller and wider apart; at fifteen miles the creek seems to be trending more to the eastward, its bed is now conglomerate ironstone, and, as this appears to be about the last water, I shall give the horses a drink and follow it as far as it goes. In a short distance it has become quite dry, with a deep broad course upwards of twenty yards wide. At seventeen miles it separated into two channels, and at a quarter of a mile the two channels emptied themselves into a large boggy swamp, with no surface water. I examined the swamp, but could see no outlet. The country round about is thickly timbered with gum and other trees. Returned to the last water and camped. I shall return to the Depot and bring the party up here. Wind, south-east; a few clouds at sunset.
Saturday, 24th May, Chain of Ponds, Large Creek. Followed my tracks back to Auld’s Chain of Ponds, and had difficulty in doing so, the ground being so hard that the hoofs of the horses scarcely left any impression on it. This would be a fearful country for any one to be lost in, as there is nothing to guide them, and one cannot see more than three hundred yards around, the gum-trees are so thick, and the small belts of lancewood make it very deceptive. Should any one be so unfortunate as to be lost, it would be quite impossible to find them again; it would be imprudent to search for them, for by so doing the searchers would run the risk of being lost also. Arrived at Auld’s Ponds and camped. Wind, south-east. A few clouds.
Sun day, 25th May, Auld’s Chain of Ponds. Proceeded to the Depot, where I arrived in the afternoon and found all well. No natives have been near them, although some of their smoke has been seen at a short distance from the Depot. Yesterday we hoisted the Union Jack in honour of her Most Gracious Majesty’s birthday, that being the only thing we had to commemorate this happy event, with our best wishes for her long and happy reign. Wind, south-east.
Monday, 26th May, Chain of Ponds. Removed the party on to Auld’s Chain of Ponds.
Tuesday, 27th May, Auld’s Chain of Ponds. Proceeded with the party to the fourth chain of ponds and creek. This water has every appearance of being permanent, and I hope I may fall in with such another in the next degree of latitude. It may be from this that the Wickham receives a supply of water when this overflows. Wind, south-west. Latitude, 16 degrees 14 minutes 31 seconds.
Wednesday, 28th May, Daly Waters, Fourth Chain of Ponds and Creeks. Sent Thring and King to round the swamp into which this creek flows, to see if there is any outlet to the eastward of this within two miles. There are other ponds and a creek, which also empties itself into a swamp a little to the eastward of the one into which this one empties itself. In the afternoon they returned, having found a small watercourse forming the north-west side of the swamp; followed it, running nearly 10 degrees east of north. In about one mile and a half they came upon a large swamp covered with water, but shallow. They then proceeded seven miles on a north-east course; then meeting with some white-barked gum-trees, appearing to run to the north-west, followed them for three miles, crossing a gum and grass plain. Observing some native smoke to north-east, they returned. Wind, south-east.
Thursday, 29th May, Daly Waters. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the camp, at half-past seven o’clock proceeded with Thring, Auld, and Frew down the creek to examine the swamp found yesterday. It is about 30 degrees east of north, about three miles from the Depot at Daly Waters. The water does not appear to be deep, but covers a large area; there were a few pelicans and other water-birds on it. From this we proceeded, on a course 20 degrees east of north, to search the flat where Thring and King saw the smoke yesterday. At eighteen miles from Daly Waters, having crossed the gum plain without meeting with any water, and being on apparently higher ground than the plain, I changed my course to 90 degrees east of north. At two miles and a half again crossed the plain, and got upon low rising ground of ironstone and gravel, but still no water. Changed to former bearing of 20 degrees east of north, and at seven miles came upon a dry swamp, covered with long blue grass and deep holes, but still no water could we find. Proceeded another mile, and finding I was getting on rising ground, and the horses having done a long and heavy day’s journey, camped without water. After leaving the swamp with the water (which was very boggy all round it), the country became similar to that of Sturt Plains surrounding Newcastle Water, being so full of deep holes that we were in danger of getting our necks broken, and also the horses’ legs. The soil is good, and completely covered with grass and stunted gum-trees. In rainy weather it seems to be covered with water. There is no watercourse, or any appearance of which way the water flows. A number of various kinds of birds were about. Wind variable, but mostly from south-west. Latitude, 15 degrees 56 minutes 11 seconds.
Friday, 30th May, North-north-east of Blue-Grass Swamp. Wishing to see a little more of the country further on and to find where the birds get their water, I proceeded with Thring, leaving the other two behind with the horses, three miles and a half on the same course, following their flight. In half a mile came again upon the stunted gum plain, splendidly grassed to above the horses’ knees. Can find no water, although the birds are still round about us. The same description of country continues from the swamp with the water to beyond this, consisting of small undulations of gravel and ironstone. Retraced my steps to where I had left the other two, and proceeded towards the Depot at nine miles. The country was in a blaze of fire to the east of us. I am very thankful there was scarcely a breath of wind, which enabled us to pass within a quarter of a mile of it: had there been a strong wind we should have been in great danger, the grass being so long and thick. Returned to the Depot after six p.m., being all very tired with the shaking we have had the last two days by the horses falling into the holes nearly every step, and they also are nearly exhausted; twelve hours in the saddle over such a country is no easy task. It was my intention to have come back more to the east, but having seen the smoke I saw we should be in the middle of the fire, and so changed my intention. Wind, south-west. Very hot.
Saturday, 31st May, Daly Waters. As there are no appearances of rain, the weather very hot, and I have a good deal of work in plans, etc. to bring up, I shall remain here until Monday. I feel this heavy work much more than I did the journey of last year; so much of it is beginning to tell upon me. I feel my capability of endurance beginning to give way. There are a number of small fish in this water, from three to five inches long, something resembling a perch; the party are catching them with hooks; they are a great relish to us, who have lived so long upon dry meat. Any change is very agreeable. Wind variable.
Sunday, 1st June, Daly Waters. The day has been as hot as if it were in the middle of summer. Surely we must get a change soon. Wind variable, with a few light clouds. Mr. Waterhouse has shot two new parrots.
Monday, 2nd June, Daly Waters. Leaving the party in charge of Mr. Kekwick, I started at twenty minutes past seven (course north), with Thring, Auld, and Frew. Camped at 4.20. The whole day’s journey has been through a splendid grass country, and open forest of gum-trees and other shrubs, some of them new to us. Here again we have also met with the bean-tree, the blossoms of a bright crimson, and at this season they seem to shed their leaves. The country passed over consisted mostly of undulations of ironstone and gravel, with a brown-coloured rock occasionally, between which were broad valleys of a light-coloured soil, all cracked and having many deep holes, which, being hidden with the long grass, caused the horses to tumble into them, and made it very fatiguing both to them and us. I have been constantly in the hope all day of coming upon some water, but have been disappointed. After rain this country can be passed over with the greatest facility, for we have passed holes that will hold water for a long time. The dip of this country is now to the eastward. To-day I think I have been running along where the dip commences from the table land. It was my intention to have tried a journey to the north-west; but, from what I have seen of the country to-day, and on my other journeys to the north, as well as Mr. Gregory’s description of it on the other side, I am led to believe that it would be hopeless to expect to find water there. To try it will only be losing time, and reducing the strength of my horses. I must now try on a north-east course towards the Gulf of Carpentaria. I do not wish to go east if I can help it; but I must go where the water leads me. During the day’s journey we passed through three narrow belts of hedge-tree scrub, which was very thick. There does not seem to be so much of that as we get to the north, neither is there so much of the tall mulga. We have not seen a drop of water since we left the camp. Camped without it. Wind, south. Day very hot. Latitude, 15 degrees 50 minutes 20 seconds.
Tuesday, 3rd June, Gum Forest. Fine country. I sent Thring on three miles to see if there was any change, there being a number of birds about that frequent the place where water is. I think there may still be a chance of falling in with some. He has returned and can see none. Country the same as that travelled over yesterday. Returned to the Depot. Arrived a little before sundown, and found all well. Wind light; south. Day again very hot.
Wednesday, 4th June, Daly Waters. Preparing for a start to-morrow to the north-east. I shall take the water-bags; they may retain as much as will suffice for a drink night and morning for four horses. I shall proceed to the blue-grass swamp that I found in my last north-north-east course, trace that down as far as it goes, and, should there be no water, shall strike for the sources of the Wickham River. Wind, south-south-east.
Thursday, 5th June, Daly Waters. Started at a quarter to eight with Thring and Auld, taking all the water-bags full, also King and Billiatt to take back the horses that carry the water. I have chosen King for this purpose, as being the next best bushman to Thring, and one in whom I can place the greatest dependence to execute any charge I may give him with care and faithfulness. At four o’clock arrived at the blue-grass swamp. Changed my course to 70 degrees east of north, following down the middle of it, which contains a great number of large deep holes in which water has been, but are now quite dry. Followed it until it spread itself over the plain, causing a great number of deep cracks and holes completely covered with grass, gums, and other trees, too thick to get an easy passage through. At sundown camped on the plain without water. A few hours before sundown the sky had a very peculiar appearance to the eastward, as if a black fog were rising, or smoke from an immense fire at a long distance off, but it was too extensive for that. At sundown it assumed a more distinct aspect in the shape of black clouds coming from that direction. Wind, south-east.
Friday, 6th June, Plain East of Blue Swamp. Sent King and Billiatt back with the horses, while I proceeded with the other two on a course 70 degrees east of north. At a mile and a half came suddenly upon a scrubby ironstone rise about twenty feet high. After passing over a rotten plain, full of holes and covered with grass and stunted gum-trees, proceeded to the top, from which we had a good view of the surrounding country–to all appearance one of the blackest and most dismal views a man ever beheld; even the splendid grass country I had been coming through has the same appearance. The cause of it is the trees being so thick, and some of them of a very dark colour, that nothing but their tops can be seen, which gives it the appearance of being a dense scrub. To the west there is an appearance of a scrubby rise–the one on which I have been on my other journeys to the north. No hills visible; all appears to be a level country. Proceeded down the gradual slope, crossing two other lower ironstone undulations, meeting occasionally with small rotten plains with holes, and covered with grass. At five miles the ground became firmer; at seven miles met with what seemed to be a water-shed. After a long search found that the flow of the water was to the west of north; traced it a short distance to the south-east and found a small shallow pool of water and gave our horses a drink; and wishing to take advantage of anything that may take me to the north-west, I turned and traced it down; passed three ponds with some water in them, and at three miles came upon a fine large one two and a half feet deep; followed it still on, but was disappointed on finding it terminate in a dry swamp, all cracked and full of holes; circled round it to see if the creek took up again, but could see no appearance of any. As this last pond will do for the party, I will return and bring them up, for there is a slight appearance of rain, and I wish to get them on as far as possible before the winter rain comes on. Returned to our last night’s camp, where we arrived at sundown. Wind, south-east, with few clouds.
Saturday, 7th June, Plain East of Blue Swamp. Returned to the Depot; found all well. Clouds all gone, but the wind blowing strong from the south-east.
Sunday, 8th June, Daly Waters. Strong winds still from south-east, and sometimes from the south. Day very hot.
Monday, 9th June, Daly Waters. Last night, a little after sundown, Mr. Waterhouse was seized with a violent pain in the stomach, which was followed by a severe sickness, and continued throughout the night; this morning he is a little better. I think it was caused by eating some boiled gum which had been obtained from the nut-tree Mr. Kekwick discovered last year. When boiled it very much resembles tapioca, and has much the same taste. I also ate some of it yesterday, which occasioned a severe pain in the stomach, but soon went off. Some of the others also felt a little affected by it, but none so bad as Mr. Waterhouse; on others it had no effect whatever, and they still continue to eat it. Mr. Waterhouse looks so ill that I think it desirable not to move the party to-day, and trust by to-morrow he will be quite well. Light wind from the south-east, with a few clouds.
Tuesday, 10th June, Daly Waters. As Mr. Waterhouse is better, I shall move the party to-day. Started at half-past eight a.m., following my former tracks. At half-past four p.m. camped at the blue-grass swamp; twenty-six miles without water. The horses will require to be watched during the night. Wind, south-east. Day very hot. Latitude, 15 degrees 56 minutes 31 seconds.
Wednesday, 11th June, Blue-Grass Swamp. Started at seven o’clock; course, 70 degrees east of north. At three miles crossed the ironstone rise, and at eleven miles changed to north, to cut the chain of ponds, which I have named Purdie Ponds, in honour of Dr. Purdie, of Edinburgh, M.D. At one mile and three quarters, on the last course, camped on the largest pond. The country that we have gone over, although there are a number of holes and cracks in it, is really of the best description, covered with grass up to the horses’ bodies. We have passed several new trees and shrubs. The bean-tree is becoming more numerous here. At this season and in this latitude it sheds its leaves; the flower is in full bloom without them. The course of the ironstone rise seems to be north and south. Wind, south-east. Weather a little cooler, but clouds all gone. Latitude, 15 degrees 52 minutes 58 seconds.
Thursday, 12th June, Purdie Ponds. Preparing for another start to-morrow with the water-bags. It takes two men nearly half a day to fill them. The orifices for filling them are a great deal too small; they ought to be at least two inches in diameter. The American cloth with which they are lined is useless in making them watertight, and is a great annoyance in emptying them, for the water gets between it and the leather. It takes a long time to draw through again, and does not answer the purpose it was intended for. A piece of calico would have done far better. It is very vexing to bring things so far, and, when required, to find them nearly useless. Wind, south-east. Cloudy. Nights cold, but the day hot.
Friday, 13th June, Purdie Ponds. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the party, started at fifteen minutes past eight with Thring and Auld, also with King and Billiatt, who were to bring back the horses carrying the water-bags. Proceeded on a north course, and at seven miles crossed what seemed to be a water-shed, seemingly running to the west of north. Halted the party, and sent Thring a short distance to see if the flow was in that direction. In a quarter of an hour he returned and informed me that it was, but only very slightly so. Changed to north-north-west to follow it. It gradually assumed the appearance of a small creek. At two miles came upon three small pools of water. I now resolve to follow it down and see where it goes to. I should think there must be more water further on. Its course is west of north. Continued to follow it down, winding and twisting about very much to almost every point of the compass. At seven miles from the pools found a little more water, but not a drop between. Allowed the horses to drink what there was, and proceeded down it. I sent Thring to follow it on one side, while I and the rest of the party kept on the other. By this we were enabled to cut off the bends and see all the creeks, so that no water could escape us. Twice it became very small, and I was afraid we were going to lose it altogether, but it commenced again and became a fine creek. Not a drop of water. At a quarter to five camped without it. Stony rises are now commencing, which are covered with gum and other trees, also a low scrub. They are very rough and running nearly west and south. The one on the west is a continuation of the one I crossed in coming to Purdie Ponds. The general flow of the creek is north. Some of the new trees are growing very large on its banks. The cabbage-tree is growing here also. This is the first time I have met with it, sometimes growing to the height of fifteen feet. All along the banks of the creek, and apparently for some distance back, is covered with an abundance of grass, but all dried up. In some places both horse and rider were completely hidden by it. Wind, south-east–few clouds. Latitude, 15 degrees 30 minutes 27 seconds.
Saturday, 14th June, River Strangways. Named after the Honourable H.B. Templar Strangways, Commissioner of Crown Lands, South Australia, and who, since his taking office, has done all in his power to promote exploration of the interior. Sent King and Billiatt back with the horses to the camp at Purdie Ponds, whilst I proceed with the further examination of the creek. I find it now running to the east of north, and the stony rises are closing upon it at two miles and a half. They begin to assume the shape of hills, which causes the travelling to be rather rough. At three miles and a half the hills run close to the creek, and are precipitous; the bed is very rough and stony–so much so that I could not take the horses down it. Ascended a hill near the creek to see what it and the country ahead was like; the hills being so rough that I could not get the horses close enough to see if there was any water, dismounted and scrambled to the top of the precipices; was delighted to see below me a large hole of water. Sent the horses across a gully to another hill still higher, while I descended into the creek; found the bed very rough, having large masses of sandstone and ironstone, which rendered it impassable for the horses. Found the water to be deep and beautifully clear; proceeded down a little further, and saw another large one. The hills close to the creek are very precipitous, and we shall have difficulty in getting the horses down to water; the hills, where they come close to the creek, are covered with spinifex. I shall therefore require to camp the party at the mouth of the gorge, where there is plenty of feed. The hill I had sent the horses to was so rocky they were unable to cross it, and there being higher hills still on ahead, I have left the horses with Auld, and, taking Thring with me, have walked to the top of it to see what course the creek was taking, but they are all so much of the same height and appearance that I can scarcely tell in which direction it runs. There is an appearance of a large creek coming in from the westward, and higher hills towards the north. I shall return and send the party on to this permanent water, and try to find an easy road over the ranges for them. I would have gone on to-day, but my horses are without shoes, and some of them are already lame, and the shoes I brought with me are nearly all exhausted; we have not been using any since shortly after leaving South Australia. Returned to our last night’s camp, where we had left the canvas tank with some water that the horses did not drink in the morning; gave them what remained, and proceeded up the creeks to the last water we saw yesterday, where we arrived at sundown and camped. Wind, south.
Sunday, 15th June, River Strangways. Returned to the Depot at Purdie Ponds; found all well. Wind, south-east. Cool.
Monday, 16th June, Purdie Ponds. It was late before the horses could be found. Proceeded to the first pool of water in the River Strangways, distance about ten miles, and camped. Wind, south-east.
Tuesday, 17th June, River Strangways. Proceeded down the creek to the gorge and camped; day very hot. We had some difficulty in finding a way down for the horses to drink, it being so very rough and stony, but at last succeeded. On the west side there is a layer of rocks on the top of the hard sandstone, black and rugged, resembling lava; spinifex close to the creek. Wind, south-east.
Wednesday, 18th June, Gorge, River Strangways. I shall require to have some of the horses shod for further exploration, and shall therefore remain here to-day to get that done. I sent Thring and King a little way down the creek to see what the country is, and if there is any more water. They went about nine miles, but could see no more. In some places the country is sandy, and in others stony and grassy. Mr. Kekwick has discovered four new trees that we have not seen before, and several new shrubs. Some of the party succeeded in catching a few fine large fish, some of them weighing two pounds and a half. Some were of the perch family, and others resembled rock cod, with three remarkable black spots on each side of their bodies. There are also some small ones resembling the gold fish, and other small ones with black stripes on their sides, resembling pilot fish. Wind, south-east. Latitude, 15 degrees 30 minutes 3 seconds.
Thursday, 19th June, Gorge, River Strangways. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the party, started with Thring, Auld, and King, to look for water. No rain seems to have fallen here for a long time back; the grass is quite dry and withered. At 8.15 proceeded down the river, and, to avoid the hills, I went about a mile to the west, and found a very passable road; for about two miles we had sandy soil and spinifex mixed with grass, also a few stony rises of lime and sandstone. The country after that again became excellently grassed, the soil light and a little sandy. No water in the bed, which appears to have a very rapid fall; its general course is about north-north-east. At twelve miles, seeing a stony hill of considerable elevation, I left the bed, and went towards it. At the base of it was a deep creek; I was pleased to see a fine supply of water in it. I immediately sent Thring back to guide the party up here to-morrow, whilst I with the two others proceeded with the examination of the river further down. After following it for about ten miles through a beautifully grassed country, passing occasionally sandstone rises, with apparently scrub on their tops, camped at the base of one of them.
Friday, 20th June, First Camp North of Gorge. Returned to the other water, and at noon met the party and brought them on to this water. We have passed a few stringy-bark trees. In the bed of the river there is growing some very large and tall timber, having a dark-coloured bark, the leaf jointed the same as the shea-oak, but has not the acid taste: the horses eat it. There are also some very fine melaleuca-trees, which here seem to displace the gums in the river. We have also passed some more new trees and shrubs. Frew, in looking about the banks, found a large creeper with a yellow blossom, and having a large bean pod growing on it. I shall endeavour to get some of the seed as we go on to-morrow. I shall now move on with the whole party, and I trust to find water in the river as long as I follow it; its banks are getting much deeper and broader, and likely to retain water; it is dreadfully slow work to keep searching for water. Before this I could not do otherwise, in consequence of the season being so very dry. Since the commencement of the journey the only rain that we have had to have any effect upon the creeks was at Mr. Levi’s station, Mount Margaret. Since then we have had only two or three showers, which have had no effect upon the creeks. Light winds, south-east. Latitude, 15 degrees 15 minutes 23 seconds.
Saturday, 21st June, First Camp North of Gorge. It was late before we could get a start, in consequence of our not being able to find two of the horses which separated from the rest during the night. Started, following the river down; it frequently separating into two or three channels, and again joining. Numerous small watercourses are coming in on both sides, from east and west; it winds about a great deal–its general course to-day for nine miles has been nearly north-north-east. We passed a number of large lagoons, nearly dry, close to the stony hills: when full they must retain water for a long time. There is very little water in the main channel. At nine miles I found a large and excellent pool of water in one of the side creeks; it will last some time. It being now afternoon, and there being a nice open plain for the horses, I have camped. The river is now running through stony hills, which are very rough, composed of hard sandstone mixed with veins of quartz, some of which are very hard, much resembling marble with crystalline grains in it. We are now passing a number of stringy bark along with gum and other trees, Mr. Kekwick still finding new shrubs. After we had camped, taking Thring with me, I ascended a hill a little way from the camp, but was disappointed in not having an extensive view. To the north, which is now apparently the course of the river, there seems to be an opening in the range of stony hills. The dip of the country seems to be that way. At 33 degrees east of north from the camp, about eight miles distant, there is a high wooded tent-hill on the range; this I have named Mount Muller, after my friend the well-known botanist of Victoria. All round about are rough stony hills with grassy valleys between, having spinifex growing on their sides and tops. The valley through which the main channel flows is good soil, and covered with grass from two to four feet high. Towards the north-west the hills appear to be very rugged. Wind south-east, with a few clouds. Latitude, 15 degrees 10 minutes 40 seconds.
Sunday, 22nd June, Rock Camp, River Strangways. A few heavy clouds about. We are now in the country discovered by Mr. Gregory. There is a great deal of very good timber in the valley, which is getting larger and improving as we advance. It is still very thick–so much so, that the hills cannot be seen until quite close to them. Wind variable. Latitude, 15 degrees 10 minutes 30 seconds.
Monday, 23rd June, Rock Camp, River Strangways. This morning the sky is overcast with light clouds coming from the south-east. Started at eight o’clock, still following the river, which winds about very much; its general course 10 degrees east of north. At nine miles the channel became much smaller, and shortly afterwards separated into numerous small ones, and was apparently lost to me. I continued a north course, and at twelve miles struck a creek coming from the south-east; at two miles from this creek found another large one coming from the south-west, with shea-oak in it, which makes me suppose it is the River Strangways, and that it formed again and joined this one. At the junction were numerous recent fires of the natives; there must have been a great many of them, for their fires covered the ground, also shells of the mussel which they had been eating. Searched for water, and found a little, but not sufficient for my horses, and too difficult to approach; the course of the river is still to the north. One mile and a half from the junction found enough water that will do for me at night. As there seems to be so little water, and this day being exceedingly hot and oppressive, I have camped. The country travelled over to-day has been of the same description, completely covered with long grass; the soil rich, and a great many of the cabbage-tree growing about it. Wind variable. Latitude, 14 degrees 58 minutes 55 seconds.
Tuesday, 24th June, Mussel Camp, River Strangways. With the sun there came up a very thick and heavy fog which continued for about two hours; it then cleared off and the day became exceedingly hot. The river, after rounding the hills (where we were camped), ran nearly east for three miles, meeting there a stony hill which again throws it into a northerly course. I ascended the hill, but could see nothing distinctly, the fog being so thick. Descended and pursued the bed, which separated frequently into many channels, and at ten miles it spread into a large area, and its courses became small with no water in them. The grass above our heads was so high and thick that the rear-party lost me and could not find the rocks; by cooeing I brought them to me again. Before I had heard them I had sent Thring back to pick up their tracks and bring them to the clear ground I was on with the rest of the party, but they arrived before he made up to them. The scrub is also very thick close to the river. Mr. Kekwick found cane growing in the bed, and also brought in a specimen of a new water-lily–a most beautiful thing it is; it is now in Mr. Waterhouse’s collection. At twelve miles, finding some water, the horses being tired in crossing so many small creeks, and working through the scrub and long grass, I camped at the open ground. The country gone over to-day is again splendidly grassed in many places, especially near the river; it has very lately been burned by the natives. There are a great number of them running along the banks; the country now seems to be thickly inhabited. Towards the east and the north-east the country is in a blaze; there is so much grass the fire must be dreadful. I hope it will not come near us. The day has been most oppressively hot, with scarcely a breath of wind. Latitude, 14 degrees 51 minutes 51 seconds.
Wednesday, 25th June, River Strangways. Two of the horses having separated from the others, and crossing the river, quite hidden in the long grass, it was late before they were found. Started at nine o’clock; course about 70 degrees east of north, following the channel. I expect, in two or three miles, to meet with the Roper. At three miles struck a large sheet of deep clear water, on which were a number of natives, with their lubras and children; they set up a fearful yelling and squalling, and ran off as fast as they could. Rounded the large sheet of water and proceeded along it. At a mile, three men were seen following; halted the party, and went up to them. One was a very old man, one middle-aged, the third a young, stout, well-made fellow; they seemed to be friendly. Tried to make them understand by signs that I wished to get across the river; they made signs, by pointing down the river, by placing both hands together, having the fingers closed, which led me to think I could get across further down. They made signs for us to be off, and that they were going back again. I complied with their request, and after bidding each other a friendly good-bye, we followed down the banks of the river, which I now find is the Roper. At seven miles tried to cross it, but found it to be impossible; it is now divided into a number of channels, very deep and full of running water. Proceeded further, and tried it at several places, but with the same result. At twelve miles, camped close to a steep rocky hill on the north side of the river. Searched all round for a crossing, but was unable to find one. To the eastward the country is all on fire. The banks of the river are thickly lined with cabbage-trees, also the cane, bamboo, and other shrubs. Two small turtle-shells were picked up by the party at the native camp. The country is still of the same fine description. We are now north of Mr. Gregory’s tracks. Latitude, 14 degrees 5 minutes. Wind variable.
Thursday, 26th June, Roper River. As I cannot find a crossing, I shall have to return to my last camp and try to cross there. Arrived and camped. Day again oppressively hot. Almost immediately on leaving our camp this morning I observed native tracks on ours close to it. They must have followed us up last night, although we saw nothing of them. They are not to be trusted: they will pretend the greatest friendship one moment and spear you the next. They have been following us to-day, but keeping on the other side of the river and setting fire to the grass as they go along. I wish it would rain and cause the grass to become green, so as to stop them burning, as well as to give me some fresh food for the horses, for they now begin to show the want of it very much; it is so dried up that there is little nourishment in it. Some of them are beginning to look very poor and are much troubled with worms. My journeys have been very short last week, in consequence of my being so weak from the effects of scurvy and a severe attack of dysentery, for I have scarcely been able to endure the motion of horseback for four hours at a time; but having lately obtained some native cucumbers, I find they are doing me a deal of good, and hope by next week to be all right again. Wind, south. Latitude, 14 degrees 51 minutes 51 seconds.
Friday, 27th June, West Roper River. Started on a course of 320 degrees, crossing the river, and at three miles and a half again struck the Roper, running. Followed it up, coming nearly from the west, but winding about very much, and having many branches, which makes it very difficult for me to get the turns correctly. It is a splendid river. We have passed many brooks and deep reaches of water some miles in length, and the country could not be better: it is really magnificent. At 2.30 I was informed that we were short of a horse. Sent Messrs. Kekwick and Thring back to see where he was left. We have had to cross so many boggy, nasty places, with deep water and thick scrub, that he must have been missed at one of these. The general course of the river to-day has been 280 degrees. Distance, fifteen miles. Messrs. Kekwick and Thring are returned. They found the horse bogged in a side creek. It was so thick with cabbage-tree that they passed in searching for him two or three times. They had great difficulty in getting him out, but at last succeeded, and arrived at the camp before dark. A short time before that, another horse got into a very deep and rapid channel of the river, the top of the banks projecting so much that he could not get out, and the gum-trees having fallen across both above and below him, he was completely fixed. We endeavoured to get him out, but it got so dark that we could not see him, and the rope breaking that we were pulling him out by, he got his head under water, and was drowned in a moment. We then found that the cause of the rope breaking was that he had got one of his hind feet entangled in a sunken tree. It being now so dark we can do no more to-night, and have left him in the water until daylight. Wind, south-east. Latitude, 14 degrees 47 minutes 26 seconds.
Saturday, 28th June, Roper River. As I shall be short of meat, I remain here to-day to cut up the horse and dry him. The water of this river is most excellent; the soil is also of the first description; and the grass, although dry, most abundant, from two to five feet high. This is certainly the finest country I have seen in Australia. We passed three rocky hills yesterday, not high, but having grass up to their tops, round which the river winds at their base, forming large and long reaches of water. On the grassy plains it forms into different channels, and is thickly timbered with shea-oak, gum, cabbage-trees, and other trees and shrubs. Wind variable.
Sunday, 29th June, Roper River. We are all enjoying a delightful change of fresh meat from dry. It is a great treat, and the horse eats remarkably well, although not quite so good as a bullock. At sundown the meat is not all quite dry, but I think we shall be able to preserve the greater part of it. The natives are still burning the grass round about us, but they have not made their appearance either yesterday or to-day. Wind variable.
Monday, 30th June, Roper River. Started at 8.10, course west, following up the river, which winds about very much from north-west to south, and at last to south-east. When coming close to where the grass was on fire, finding a good ford, I crossed the party to the north-east side. At fifteen miles came upon a large reedy swamp through which the river seemed to flow, and again at twenty miles came upon the river running into the swamp, and coming from the north-north-west. Although travelling twenty miles we have not made more than ten miles in a straight line; the general course is west. The country is of the same excellent description. We have passed the stony rises on the north side of the river, which are covered with grass to their tops. After crossing the river I ascended another of the same kind. To the south are a few hills scattered over the grassy plains, with lines of dark-green trees between them, showing that they are creeks flowing into the river whose junctions we have been crossing to-day; the same to the south-west, and at west 20″ south the distance appears level, with a single peak just visible. To the north-west seemingly stony hills; to the north the same; to the east I could see nothing, for the smoke conceals from me the country; it is all on fire. The river is still running very rapidly, and as this is a different branch from those previously discovered, I have named it the River Chambers, after my late lamented friend, James Chambers, Esquire, whose zeal in the cause of Australian exploration is already well known. A short time before sundown a number of natives were seen approaching the camp. We were immediately prepared for them. I sent Mr. Kekwick forward to see what their intentions were–friendly or hostile. I immediately followed. On reaching them they appeared quite friendly. There were three men, four lubras, and a number of children. One, an old man, presented a very singular appearance–his legs being about four feet long, and his entire height seven feet, and so remarkably thin that he appeared to be a perfect shadow. Mr. Kekwick having a fish-hook stuck in his hat, which immediately caught the tall old fellow’s eye, he made signs of its use, and that he would like to possess it. I told Mr. Kekwick to give it to him, which seemed to please him much. After examining it he handed it over to a young man, seemingly his son, who was a fat, stout fellow, and who was laughing nearly all the time. The other was a middle-aged man of the ordinary height. The women were small, and very ugly. Wind, south-east. Latitude, 14 degrees 47 minutes 24 seconds.
Tuesday, 1st July, Reedy Swamp, River Chambers. Before sunrise the natives again made their appearance, sixteen in number, with small spears. Sent Mr. Kekwick to see what they wanted. On his coming up to them they put two fingers in their mouths, signifying that they wanted more fish-hooks, but we had no more to spare. They remained looking at us until the horses were packed and started. After Thring and Frew had brought in the horses, they rode up to where they were. They (the natives) did not fancy being too near the horses, but having dismounted, it gave them confidence, and they returned again. Thring opened the lips of one of the horses, and showed them his teeth, the appearance of which did not suit their taste. Some of them thought the further off they were from such weapons the better, and ran off the moment they saw them. Others remained, but kept at a respectful distance. Thring pulled a handful of grass, and it amused them much to see the horses eating it. After starting they followed us for some miles, when Mr. Waterhouse, observing a new pigeon, shot it. They, not liking the report of the gun, went off, and we saw no more of them. Started at 8.20, following the river on a course 30 degrees east of north. After a mile it gradually came round to the south-east, and was a running stream in that direction. As that course would take me too much out of my road, I changed my bearing to north-west, to an opening between the hills. After passing a number of fine ponds, many of them with water in them, came upon a large creek, having long reaches of water in it, but not running. It winds about a great deal. Its general course to-day has been west-north-west. The reedy swamp must be a mass of springs, which causes the Roper to run with such velocity. A little after one o’clock camped. The journey to-day has been rough, having so many small creeks to cross, and the day being excessively hot, the horses seem fagged. They have been covered with sweat since shortly after starting until now, and as some of the drowned horse is not quite dry, I have halted earlier than I intended. The country gone over to-day is of the same kind, beautiful soil, covered with grass. We occasionally met with stony hills coming down to the creek, also well grassed and timbered to their tops. Wind west, with heavy clouds from the south-east. Latitude, 14 degrees 41 minutes 39 seconds.
Wednesday, 2nd July, West-north-west of Reedy Swamp, River Chambers. Started 7.40, following the river up until ten o’clock. We kept nearly a north-west course: it then went off to the south-west; as that would take me too much out of my course, I kept the north-west course, crossing the saddle of broken hills, amongst which we have now got; and at twelve again met the river, now coming from the north through the hills, following it still, having plenty of water. At a very large water hole surprised some natives, who ran off at full speed when the rear of the party was passing their camp. One stout fellow came running up, armed with spears, and loaded with fish and bags filled with something to eat. Mr. Kekwick rode towards him. The native held up a green bough as a flag of truce, and patting his heart with his right hand, said something which could not be understood, and pointed in the direction we were going. We then bade him good-bye, and proceeded on our journey. At one o’clock the river suddenly turned to the east, coming from very rough hills of sandstone and other rocks. At one mile and a half on that course it was coming from the south of east, which will not do for me. Changed to the north, and got into some terrible rough stony hills with grassy valleys between, but not a drop of water. It being now after two o’clock, too late to encounter crossing the table land, I again changed my course to south-east for the Chambers, and at 5.3 camped at a large water hole at the foot of a stony rise lined with cabbage (palm) trees. The country although rough is well grassed to the top of the hills, with an abundance of permanent water in the river. I am sorry it is coming from the south-east, and have been in hopes it would carry me through this degree of latitude. To follow it further is only losing time; I shall therefore take to the hills to-morrow. Frew, on coming along, picked up a small turtle alive. Light wind from the south-east; heavy clouds from the south-west. Latitude, 14 degrees 32 minutes 30 seconds.
Thursday, 3rd July, River Chambers. Started at 8.10 o’clock, north-west course. At one mile and a half again struck the river coming from the west-north-west; left it and followed its north-west course: and at another mile again came upon it with plenty of water. Saw four natives, who ran off the moment they saw us. Followed the river, the hill coming quite close to it, very steep and rocky, composed of a hard sandstone, and occasionally a little ironstone. At nine miles again left the river, finding it was coming too much from the eastward; crossed the saddle of the two spurs again; came upon a creek, which I think is the river; ran it up to the west for about a mile, but no appearance of water; left it, and ascended a very rough rugged hill. In the creek we have just left there is a deal of limestone. Crossed three more small spurs and small creeks, but not a drop of water. It being now afternoon, and wishing to see from what direction the river is coming, I changed to north-east, but found that I was still among the rough hills; I then went east for a short distance, and made the river, now quite dry, and having a sandy bed. Followed it up, but saw there was no hope of water; turned, and traced it down to try and find water. After following it for three miles, came upon a fine permanent hole of water, a short distance from where we left in the former part of the day. If it would only rain and put some water in the deep dry holes that are in the other creeks crossed to-day, I should then be enabled to steer a straight line for the Adelaide. It is very tedious and tiresome having to look for water every day. We have now reached to the top of one of the tributaries of the Chambers. This is apparently the last water. It seems to take its rise in a grassy plain to the east of this. The valley through which the creek flows is well grassed, but the sides and the tops of the hills are spinifex mixed with grass. All the small valleys are well grassed. Wind, south-east. Latitude, 14 degrees 26 minutes 50 seconds.
Friday, 4th July, Last Water Hole in the Chambers. Started at 8.10, course north-west, following up the river to its sources. At four miles ascended a rise, which was very rough, composed of sandstone, ironstone, and limestone, with ironstone gravel on the top. Descended on the other side, and at about five miles came upon a nice running stream, but very rough and stony round about it. After crossing several stony rises, in which we had some difficulty in getting our horses over, arrived at a nice broad valley with a creek running through it, course north-west. At a mile it received a large tributary from the east of north, and the bed seems sandy; melaleuca and gum-trees in it; also the bean-tree. The valley is covered with grass from two to four feet high. There is a ridge of rough sandy stone hills, with occasional ironstone on each side, from the direction it was at first taken. I thought I was fortunate in meeting with one of the sources of the Alligator or Adelaide River. After following it for five miles, sometimes going west and south, it went through a stony gorge, and seemed to run to the south, which is a great disappointment. I ascended one of the hills to view the country, but could see very little, it being so thickly wooded. To the north is the appearance of a range running to the east and west that I must endeavour to cross to-morrow if I do not find another creek running to the north-west. There is one benefit I shall derive from following down this creek a day; it will enable me to round the very rough sandstone range that runs on the north side of the creek. It is so rough that I could not take the horses over it. Camped at the gorge of this creek, which I suppose, from the course it is now taking, to be another tributary of the Chambers. The gorge is impassable for horses. It has a very picturesque appearance; immense masses of rock–some thousands of tons in weight–which had fallen from the top of the cliff into the bed of the creek. Mr. Kekwick found a number of new plants, among them a fine climbing fern. Light winds, east. Plenty of permanent water in the creek. Latitude, 14 degrees 25 minutes 8 seconds.
Saturday, 5th July, Gorge on another West Branch of the River Chambers. Started 8.15; course, 5 degrees west of north. After travelling two miles over stony rises we ascended a low table land with coarse grass and a little spinifex; at six miles came up to a high stony tent-hill, which I ascended and named Mount Shillinglaw. All round are stony hills and grassy valleys–dip of the country seemingly to the south. There is apparently a continuous range in the distance to the north-west, the Chambers range. Changed my course to 325 degrees, and at four miles struck another large branch coming from the north-east, and running apparently south–plenty of water in it. This I named the Waterhouse, in honour of Mr. H.W. Waterhouse, naturalist to the expedition. Some of the horses are become so lame on account of the stones they will not be able to travel another day. I have camped early to have them shod, for on Monday I intend taking a north-west course to strike the source of the Adelaide. The country on the last course is again of the very best description and well grassed. The hills are stony, but abound with grass; they are composed of sandstone, ironstone, and occasionally a little limestone; the trees are the same as those on the Roper. Wind, south-east. Latitude, 14 degrees 18 minutes 30 seconds.
Sunday, 6th July, The Waterhouse River. Day again very hot. There is another branch a short distance off, which seems to come from the north-west; I shall follow it to-morrow if it continues the same course. I think these creeks we are now crossing must be the sources of the Adelaide flowing towards the dry river seen by Mr. Gregory running towards the north-west. Wind light; sky cloudy.
Monday, 7th July, Waterhouse River. Started at 7.55; course, north-west. At four miles the creek was coming from the west, north-east, and east; I therefore left it, crossed two low stony rises, and again struck another creek coming from the north-east, with plenty of water; followed it for a short distance to the west, found it so boggy and the body of water so large that I could not get the party round the stony hills. Returned about half a mile, and crossed the stony rise, and again struck it. At eight miles came upon a number of springs coming from the stony rises. Ascended one of the rises, which are not high, and found myself on a sandy table land, which continued for six miles, having coarse grass and spinifex growing on it. Towards the last two miles it again became well grassed. The timber is stringy-bark, some splendid trees; amongst them gums and a number of pines, also very fine. The cabbage palm still growing in the creeks in great numbers, some of them very tall, with several branches on the top. The first eight miles was again over a splendid country, and the last three of the same description. A stony hill being in my course, I proceeded to the top of it, from which I had a good view of the country before me. This hill I named after Lieutenant Helpman. At 10 degrees south of west are two remarkable isolated table hills, Mount Levi and Mount Watts, beyond which is the Chambers range to the north-west; my view in other directions is obstructed by other hills, but to the west about one mile and a half is seemingly a creek, to which I shall go, and if there is water I shall camp. Proceeded and found it a fine creek with plenty of water; followed it about one mile to the north-west, when it became dry. There it seems to come from the south. There are a great number of cabbage palms on its banks. I hope it will soon come round to the north-west and continue on that course. Light winds, variable. Latitude, 14 degrees 9 minutes 31 seconds.
Tuesday, 8th July, Water Creek in Stony Rises. Started at 7.40 a.m., course north-west; followed the creek a little way, but found it was running too much to the west of my course; left it and proceeded to the north-west, crossing some stony rises, now composed of granite and ironstone, with occasionally some hard sandstone. Crossing three small creeks running to the west, at six miles came upon a large one with broad and long sheets of permanent water coming from the north-north-east, and apparently running to the south-west. This I have named the Fanny, in honour of Miss Fanny Chambers, eldest daughter of John Chambers, Esquire. In a small tree on this creek the skull of a very young alligator was found by Mr. Auld. The trees in this creek are melaleuca and gum, with some others. Proceeded across the creek, still going north-west; ascended two stony rises, and got upon low table land with spinifex and grass, passing two stony hills, one on each side of my course. At eighteen miles struck the head of a small creek flowing nearly on my course; followed it down in search of water, now through a basaltic country. At two miles came upon another large creek, having a running stream to the south of west, and coming from the north of east. Timber, melaleuca, palm, and gum, with some of other descriptions. This I have named the Katherine, in honour of the second daughter of James Chambers, Esquire. The country gone over to-day, although there is a mile or two of light sandy soil, is good for pasturage purposes; in the valley it is of the finest description. Light winds, variable. Latitude, 13 degrees 58 minutes 30 seconds.
Wednesday, 9th July, The Katherine. Started at five minutes to eight o’clock, crossing the Katherine, and proceeded on a north-west course over a basaltic country, splendidly grassed. At five miles I ascended a high hill, which I named Mount Stow, but was disappointed in the view. West-north-west course, over a great number of rises thickly timbered with gum. At 20 degrees north of west is a high bluff point of the range; the country on that bearing does not seem to be so rough. No more visible but the range to the west and the hill between. Descended, and changed my course to the bluff point. At one mile and a half crossed a creek with water in it, coming from the north-east, and running to the south-west. At three miles further arrived at the bluff. The basaltic country has now suddenly changed to slate, limestone, sandstone, and a hard white stone. Crossed three stony rises, and got upon a white sandy rise, with large stringy-bark trees growing upon it; and there seemingly being a creek at the foot of it, from the number of green gums and palm-trees, I went down to it, and found it to be springy ground, now quite dry, although the grass was quite green. Proceeded on the westerly course, expecting to meet with a creek; found none, but large springs coming from sandy rises. Having found water at thirteen miles, and being so very unwell that I cannot proceed, I have been compelled to camp. There is an immense quantity of water coming from these springs; the soil round them is of the best deep black alluvial. About a mile to the west is a strong stream running to the south-west from them. I have called them Kekwick Springs, in honour of my chief officer. Wind light and variable. Latitude, 13 degrees 54 minutes 12 seconds.
TABLE LAND AND VALLEY OF THE ADELAIDE.
Thursday, 10th July, Kekwick’s Large Group of Springs. Started at eight o’clock; crossed the springs without getting any of the horses bogged. Proceeded on a north-west course, but at a mile and a half again came upon springs and running water; the ground too boggy to cross it. Changed to north; at three miles and a half on the course changed to north-west. Ascended some very rough stony hills, and got on the top of sandy table land thick with splendid stringy-bark, pines, and other trees and shrubs, amongst which, for the first time, we have seen the fan palm, some of them growing upwards of fifteen feet high; the bark on the stem is marked similar to a pineapple’s; the leaf very much resembles a lady’s fan set on a long handle, and, a short time after it is cut, closes in the same manner. At half-past one crossed the table land–breadth thteen miles. The view was beautiful. Standing on the edge of a precipice, we could see underneath, lower down, a deep creek thickly wooded running on our course; then the picturesque precipitous gorge in the table land; then the gorge in the distance; to the north-west were ranges of hills. The grass on the table land is coarse, mixed with a little spinifex; about half of it had been burnt by the natives some time ago. We had to search for a place to descend, and had great difficulty in doing so, but at last accomplished it without accident. The valley near the creek, which is a running stream, is very thickly wooded with tall stringy-bark, gums, and other kinds of palm-trees, which are very beautiful, the stem growing upwards of fifty feet high, the leaves from eight to ten feet in length, with a number of long smaller ones growing from each side, resembling an immense feather; a great number of these shooting out from the top of the high stems, and falling gracefully over, has a very pretty, light, and elegant appearance. Followed the creek for about two miles down this gorge, and camped on an open piece of ground. The top course of the table land is a layer of magnetic ironstone, which attracted my compass upwards of 20 degrees; underneath is a layer of red sandstone, and below that is an immense mass of white sandstone, which is very soft, and crumbling away with the action of the atmosphere. In the valley is growing an immense crop of grass, upwards of four feet high; the cabbage palm is still in the creek. We have seen a number of new shrubs and flowers. The course of the table land is north-north-west and south-south-east. The cliffs, from the camp in the valley, seem to be from two hundred and fifty to three hundred feet high. Beyond all doubt we are now on the Adelaide river. Light winds, variable. Latitude, 13 degrees 44 minutes 14 seconds.
Friday, 11th July, Adelaide River, North-west Side, Table Land. The horses being close at hand, I got an early start at 7.20, course north-west. In a mile I got greatly bothered by the boggy ground, and numbers of springs coming from the table land, which I am obliged to round. At two miles got clear of them, and proceeded over a great number of stony rises, very steep; they are composed of conglomerate quartz, underneath which is a course of slates, the direction of which is north-west, and lying very nearly perpendicular, and also some courses of ironstone, and a sharp rectangular hard grey flint stone. My horses being nearly all without shoes, it has lamed a great many of them, and, having struck the river again at fifteen miles, I camped. They have had a very hard day’s journey. The country is nearly all burnt throughout, but those portions which have escaped the fire are well grassed. I should think this is a likely place to find gold in, from the quantity of quartz, its colour, and having so lately passed a large basaltic and granite country; the conglomerate quartz being bedded in iron, and the slate perpendicular, are good signs. The stony rises are covered with stringy-bark, gum, and other trees, but not so tall and thick as on the table land and close to it, except in the creek, where it is very large; the melaleuca is also large. Since leaving the table land we have nearly lost the beautiful palms; there are still a few at this camp, but they are not growing so high; the cabbage palm is still in the creek and valleys. Light winds from south-east. Country burning all round. Latitude, 13 degrees 38 minutes 24 seconds. This branch I have named the Mary, in honour of Miss Mary Chambers.
Saturday, 12th July, The Mary, Adelaide River. Started at 7.30; course, north-west. At one mile and a half came upon a running stream coming from the north-east; had great difficulty in getting the horses across, the banks being so boggy. One got fixed in it and was nearly drowned; in an hour succeeded in getting them all safe across. At six miles I ascended a high, tall, and stony hill; the view is not good, except to the westward. In that direction there is seemingly a high range in the far distance, appearing to run north and south; the highest point of the end of the range is west, to which the river seems to tend. My horse being so lame for the want of shoeing, I shall strike in for the river and follow it for another two miles, as it seems to run so much to the westward. I have resolved to use some of the horseshoes I have been saving to take me back over the stony country of South Australia. To enable McGorrerey to get them all shod on the front feet before Monday, I have camped. There is still a slaty range on each side of the river, with quartz hills close down to it; the timber the same as yesterday. The country has recently all been burned; but, judging from the small patches that have escaped, has been well grassed up to the pass of the hills. The valley and banks of the creeks are of beautiful alluvial soil. One new feature seen to-day is the growing of large clumps of bamboo on the banks of the river, from fifty to sixty feet in height and about six inches in diameter at the butt. I am now on one of the tributaries of the Adelaide River. There must have been a dreadful fire here a few days ago; it has destroyed everything before it, except the green trees, to the edge of the water. Slight winds, variable. Latitude, 13 degrees 35 minutes 58 seconds.
Sunday, 13th July, The Mary, Adelaide River. Shoeing horses. Wind blowing strong; variable from all points of the compass.
Monday, 14th July, The Mary, Adelaide River. One of the horses cannot be found this morning, and he has been for some time very ill and weak, and no appearance of getting better. It was my intention to have left him. We have been all round the tracks forward and backward over the feeding-ground and can see nothing of him. I am afraid he has gone off to some place and died; I shall therefore waste no more time in looking for him. If he is alive I may have a chance of recovering him on my return. Late start, in consequence of so long looking for him. As I have now got all the horses shod on the front feet, I shall proceed on a north-west course through the stony rises, which are still quartz and slate, splendidly grassed, with gums and other trees and bushes not too thick to get through with ease. Crossed six small creeks, one with holes with water in them; the third one, a large creek, which I crossed at nine miles, I have named William Creek, after the second son of John Chambers, Esquire, of Adelaide; all running at right angles to my course. Immediately after crossing this last creek the country changed to granite; the rises are composed of immense blocks of it, with occasionally some quartz. The country has been all burned. The valleys between the granite rises are broad and of first-rate soil, many of them are quite green, caused by springs oozing from the granite rock. We have passed a number of trees resembling the iron-bark, also some like new ones, and many shrubs which Mr. Kekwick has found. Wind, south-east. Latitude, 13 degrees 29 minutes 25 seconds.
Tuesday, 15th July, Billiatt Springs. I have named these springs in token of my approbation of Billiatt’s thoughtful, generous, and unselfish conduct throughout the expedition. I started at 7.40 this morning, course north-west. Crossed granite and quartz rises, with broad valleys between, both splendidly grassed. At three miles crossed a small creek with water; at another mile the same creek again; one also to my line on the south-west side, and immediately went off to the south-west. At six miles the river came close to the line, and immediately went off to the west. Continued on my course through granite and quartz country, splendidly grassed, and timbered with stringy-bark and gums, pines, palms, nut-trees, and a wattle bush, which in some places was rather thick, but not at all difficult to get through. At ten miles again struck the river; it is now apparently running to the north. Changed to that course, but it soon left me. At three miles and a half on the north course struck another creek running from the range north-east; it has an abundance of water, and is rather boggy. King’s horse fell with him in it, but did no further injury than giving him a wetting. A few of the other horses stumbled and rolled about in it for a short time, but we got them all across without accident. Changed to west of north; at half a mile reached a saddle between two hills, and ascended the one to the west, the river now running between ranges to the west; they seemed a good deal broken, with some high points to the north-west. There is a higher one, seemingly running north and south, with apparently a plain between about four miles broad, on which are four or five lines of dark trees; this leads me to suppose that the river is divided. The plain being very thickly timbered, I could not see distinctly which was the main channel. Descended, and proceeded on a north-west course. At one mile and a half struck the river, again running north; changed to that, and at two miles and a half camped. The country is now all burnt. I am obliged to stop where I can get feed for the horses. One of the channels comes close to the bank, east side, about six yards wide and two feet deep; bed sandy. The main channel must be in the middle of the plain. The hill I ascended to-day has been under the influence of fire; it is composed of quartz, and a hard dark-coloured stone; the quartz runs in veins throughout it, in places crystalline, and formed into spiral and many-sided figures; in places there is a crust of iron, as if it had been run between the stones, that is also crystalline. Wind, south-east. Latitude, 13 degrees 17 minutes 22 seconds.
Wednesday, 16th July, The Mary, Adelaide River. Started at 7.40, course north. The river runs off again to the north-west, and I have passed over an undulating country, all burnt, but the soil of the richest description. The rises are comprised of quartz and a hard white stone, with occasionally a little ironstone. At three miles crossed a creek with water holes. At five miles crossed another. At seven miles came close to a high hill–ascended it; at the foot it is composed of a hard slaty stone covered with a cake of iron; about the middle is quartz, and on the top conglomerated quartz. The view from south-west to north-west is extensive, but this not being the highest hill, the rest is hidden. To the west is a high hill, bluff at both ends, seemingly the last hill of the range; its course apparently north-west and south-east. At this bluff hill the range seems to cease, or drops into lower hills. A branch of the river lies between it and me, but there are still a number of stony hills before I can reach it. To the north-west and north there are high and stony hills. The river now seems to run to the west, on a bearing of 30 degrees north of west. From twenty to twenty-five miles distant is another range, at the foot of which there is a blue stripe, apparently water, which I suppose to be the main stream of the Adelaide. Descended, as the country is too rough and stony to continue either to the north or north-west. I changed to 3 degrees north of west, crossed some stony hills and broad valleys with splendid alluvial soil, the hills grassed to the top. On that course struck the branch of the river. Still very thick with the same kind of timber already mentioned. Most of the bamboos are dead. I suppose the fire has been the cause of it. I again find it running to the north; I turn to that course. At three miles struck a large creek coming from the east with large sheets of water; had to run it up half a mile before I could get across it. Crossed it all right, and passed through a beautiful valley of green grass. After that, found that I was again on the stony rise, where every blade of grass had been burned off, and not knowing how far this may continue, I have turned off again for the creek, to give the horses the benefit of the valley. The timber is the same as yesterday in some places; the stringy-bark is much larger. The banks of the river, when we first came upon it to-day, were high and stony. The range to the east seems to cease about here. We are now crossing low undulations. I have seen a number of kangaroos to-day; they do not seem to be as large as those in the south. The valleys are composed of conglomerated ironstone underneath the soil. A large number of new birds seen to-day, some of them with splendid plumage. Wind, south-east. Latitude, 13 degrees 7 minutes 21 seconds.
Thursday, 17th July, Tide Creek, Adelaide River. Started at eight o’clock, course north-west; passed over some stony hills, small creeks, and valleys well grassed. At three miles again met with the branch of the river, with bamboos and trees of the same description as before, a running stream, but not so rapid. At five miles, observing an open plain among the trees, and the river trending more to the westward, I changed my course to it, 15 degrees west of north; found it to be open plain, of rich alluvial soil in places; at times it seemed to be subject to inundation, I suppose the drainage from the range to the eastward, which is distant about four miles. I am pleased it has been burnt, but where it has not the grass is most abundant; where the water seems to remain it is rather coarse. The plains are studded with lines of green gum-trees, and the cabbage palms are numerous, which give them a very pretty park-like appearance. They continued for ten miles, when we made a small stony hill; we met with a large creek, with large holes of water in it, and supposing I had got upon the plain that ran to the sea-coast, and seeing those I had passed over so dry, camped; and having sent Thring to a rise to see where the river is, he returned, but can see nothing of it, but reports high hills to the north-west. I am glad of this, for it is not my intention to follow the river round if I can get water in other places, for it has already been well described south of this by Lieutenant Helpman when he came up in a boat, and I wish to see what the country is away from its banks. Wind south-east, with a few clouds from the north. For the last week the weather has been excellent, not too hot during the day, and cool and refreshing at night. The mosquitoes are very annoying, and the flies during the day are a perfect torment. This creek I have called Priscilla Creek. Latitude, 12 degrees 56 minutes 54 seconds.
Friday, 18th July, Priscilla Creek. Started at 8.15, course north-west. Passed over grassy plains and stony rise; when, at three miles, seeing the termination of a range in a bluff point, changed my course to 310 degrees. Proceeded, still crossing stony hills, consisting of ironstone, slate, and a hard white rock, which is broken into rectangular fragments; also over broad valleys, which are covered with grass that when green must have stood very high, but is now so dry that it breaks off before the horses. My horse being first, collects so much on his front legs that I have been obliged to stop, pull him back, and allow it to fall, so that he may step over it, go on, get another load, and do the same. At six miles and a half, after crossing a plain, crossed a deep bamboo creek; this I have named Ellen Creek. Proceeded over two other stony rises and valleys of the same description, and came upon extensive plains, well grassed, and of beautiful alluvial soil; crossing them towards the bluff point at fifteen miles, came upon the Adelaide between me and the bluff, which is about a mile further on; the river is about eighty yards wide, and so still that I could not see which way the current was. I suppose its being high tide was the cause of this. The banks are thickly lined with bamboo, very tall and stout, very steep, and twelve feet down to the water’s edge; the water appeared to be of great depth, and entirely free from snags or fallen timber. The range on the opposite side of the river, for which I was directing my course, being the highest I have seen in this new country, I have named it after His Excellency the Governor-in-Chief of South Australia, Daly Range, and its highest peak to the north Mount Daly. Before reaching the river, at thirteen miles, we passed a high conspicuous tent hill, at right angle, north-east to our line; this I have named Mount Goyder, after the Surveyor-General of South Australia. Followed the river on a north course for about a mile, when I was stopped by a deep side creek of thick bamboo, with water; turned to the east, rounded the bamboo, but found myself in a boggy marsh, which I could not cross. This marsh is covered with fine grass, in black alluvial soil, in which is growing a new kind of lily, with a large broad heart-shaped leaf a foot or more across; the blossoms are six inches high, resemble a tulip in shape, and are of a deep brilliant rose colour; the seeds are contained in a vessel resembling the rose of a watering-pot, with the end of each egg-shaped seed showing from the holes, and the colour of this is a bright yellow. The marsh is studded with a great number of melaleuca-trees, tall and straight. As I could not cross, I had to round it, which took me a little more than an hour; when I got upon some low undulating rises, not far from Mount Goyder, composed of conglomerate ironstone and ironstone gravel, which seem to produce the springs which supply the marsh. Camped on the side of the marsh, to give the horses the benefit of the green grass, for some of them are still troubled with worms, and are very poor and miserable, and I have no medicine to give them, and there is not a blade of grass on the banks of the river–all has been burnt within the last four days. Native smoke in every direction. Wind south-east, with a few clouds. Latitude, 12 degrees 49 minutes 30 seconds.
Saturday, 19th July, Lily Marsh, Adelaide River. Started at 9.10, course 20 degrees east of north. At three miles crossed some stony rises and broad alluvial grassy valleys; at four miles met the river, had to go half a mile to the south-east to round it. Again changed to my first course; at seven miles and a half crossed a creek with water. The country to this is good, with occasionally a little ironstone and gravel, timber of stringy-bark, and a little low gum scrub. Having crossed this creek, we ascended a sandy table land with an open forest of stringy bark (good timber), palms, gums, other trees and bushes; it has been lately burnt, but the roots of the grass abound. This continued for about three miles. There is a small stony range of hills to the west, which at the end of the three miles dropped into a grassy plain of a beautiful black alluvial soil, covered with lines and groves of the cabbage palm trees, which give it a very picturesque appearance; its dip is towards the river; in two miles crossed it, and again ascended low table land of the very same description as the other. At fourteen miles struck another creek with water, and camped. The country gone over to-day, though not all of the very best description, has plains in it of the very finest kind–even the sandy table-land bears an abundant crop of grass. The trees are so thick that I can get no view of the surrounding country; the tall beautiful palm grows in this creek. Native smoke about, but we have not seen any natives. There are large masses of volcanic rock on the sides of this creek. At about a mile to the eastward is a large body of springs that supply water to this creek, which I have named Anna Creek. Camped at ten minutes to three o’clock. Wind variable. Latitude, 12 degrees 39 minutes 7 seconds.
Sunday, 20th July, Anna Creek. The mosquitoes at this camp have been most annoying; scarcely one of us has been able to close his eyes in sleep during the whole night: I never found them so bad anywhere–night and day they are at us. The grass in, and on the banks of, this creek is six feet high; to the westward there are long reaches of water, and the creek very thickly timbered with melaleuca, gum, stringy-bark, and palms. Wind, south-east.
Monday, 21st July, Anna Creek and Springs. Again passed a miserable night with the mosquitoes. Started at eight o’clock; course, north-north-west. At three miles came upon another extensive fresh-water marsh, too boggy to cross. There is rising ground to the north-west and north; the river seems to run between. I can see clumps of bamboos and trees, by which I suppose it runs at about a mile to the north-north-west. The ground for the last three miles is of a sandy nature, and light-brown colour, with ironstone gravel on the surface, volcanic rock occasionally cropping out. The borders of the marsh are of the richest description of black alluvial soil, and when the grass has sprung after it has been burnt, it has the appearance of a rich and very thick crop of green wheat. I am now compelled to alter my course to 30 degrees south of east, to get across a water creek coming into the marsh, running deep, broad and boggy, and so thick with trees, bushes, and strong vines interwoven throughout it, that it would take a day to cut a passage through. At three miles we crossed the stream, and proceeded again on the north-north-west course, but at a mile and a half were stopped by another creek of the same description. Changed to east, and at half a mile was able to cross it also, and again went on my original bearing. Continued on it for three miles, when we were again stopped by another running stream, but this one I was able to cross without going far out of my course. Proceeded on the north-north-west course, passing over elevated ground of the same description as the first three miles. At seventeen miles came upon a thick clump of trees, with beautiful palms growing amongst them; examined it and found it to have been a spring, but now dry. Proceeded on another mile, and was again stopped by what seemed to be a continuation of the large marsh; we now appeared to have got right into the middle of it. It was to be seen to the south-west, north-east, and south-east of us. Camped on a point of rising ground running into it. The timber on the rises between the creeks is stringy-bark, small gums, and in places a nasty scrub, very sharp, which tore a number of our saddle-bags: it is a very good thing the patches of it are not broad. The grass, where it has not been burned, is very thick and high–up to my shoulder when on horseback. About a mile from here, to the west, I can see what appears to be the water of the river, running through clumps of trees and bamboos, beyond which, in the distance, are courses of low rising ground, in places broken also with clumps of trees; the course of the river seems to be north-north-west. On the east side of the marsh is also rising ground; the marsh in that direction seems to run five or six miles before it meets the rising ground, and appears after that to come round to the north. Nights cool. Latitude, 12 degrees 28 minutes 19 seconds. Wind, south-east.
Tuesday, 22nd July, Fresh-water Marsh. As the marsh seems to run so much to the east, and not knowing how much further I shall have to go to get across the numerous creeks that appear to come into it, I shall remain here to-day and endeavour to find a road through it to the river, and follow up the banks if I can. I have a deal of work to do to the plan, and our bags require mending. After collecting the horses Thring tried to cross the marsh to the river, and succeeded in reaching its banks, finding firm ground all the way; the breadth of the river here being about a hundred yards, very deep, and running with some velocity, the water quite fresh. He having returned with this information, I sent him, King, and Frew, mounted on the strongest horses, to follow the banks of the river till noon, to see if there is any obstruction to prevent my travelling by its banks. In two hours they returned with the sad tidings that the banks were broken down by watercourses, deep, broad, and boggy; this is a great disappointment, for it will take me a day or two longer than I expected in reaching the sea-coast, in consequence of having to go a long way round to clear the marsh and creeks. The edge of the marsh was still of the same rich character, and covered with luxuriant grass. The rise we are camped on is also the same, with ironstone gravel on the surface; this seems to have been a favourite camping-place for a large number of natives. There is a great quantity of fish bones, mussel, and turtle shells, at a little distance from the camp, close to where there was some water. There are three poles fixed in the ground, forming an equilateral triangle, on the top of which was a framework of the same figure, over which were placed bars of wood: its height from the ground eight feet. This has apparently been used by them for smoke-drying a dead blackfellow. We have seen no natives since leaving the Roper, although their smoke is still round about us. On and about the marsh are large flocks of geese, ibis, and numerous other aquatic birds; they are so wild that they will not allow us to come within shot of them. Mr. Kekwick has been successful in shooting a goose; it has a peculiar-shaped head, having a large horny lump on the top resembling a topknot, and only a very small web at the root of his toes. The river opposite this, about a yard from the bank, is nine feet deep. Wind variable. Night cool.
Wednesday, 23rd July, Fresh-water Marsh. Started at 7.40, course 22 degrees east of south, one mile, to round the marsh; thence one mile south-east; thence east for six miles, when we struck a large creek, deep and long reaches; thence three quarters of a mile south before we could cross it. This I have named Thring Creek, in token of my approbation of his conduct throughout the journey; thence east, one mile and a half; thence north for nine miles, when I again struck the large marsh. Thring Creek has been running nearly parallel with the north course until it empties itself into the marsh. The country gone over to-day, after leaving the side of the marsh, as well as the banks of the creek, and also some small plains, is of the same rich description of soil covered with grass; the other parts are slightly elevated, the soil light with a little sand on the surface of a brown colour; timber, mixture of stringy-bark and gums, with many others; also, a low thick scrub, which has lately been burnt in many places, the few patches that have escaped abounding in grass. I have come twelve miles to the eastward to try to round the marsh, but have not been able to do so; the plains that were seen from the river by those who came up it in boats is the marsh; it is covered with luxuriant grass, which gives it the appearance of extensive grassy plains. I have camped at where the Thring spreads itself over a portion of the marsh. There is rising ground to the north-west, on the opposite side, which I suppose to be a continuation of the elevated ground I passed before crossing the creek, and the same that I saw bearing north from the last camp. I suppose it runs in towards the river. Wind, south. Latitude, 13 degrees 22 minutes 30 seconds.
Thursday, 24th July, Thring Creek, Entering the Marsh. Started at 7.40, course north. I have taken this course in order to make the sea-coast, which I suppose to be distant about eight miles and a half, as soon as possible; by this I hope to avoid the marsh. I shall travel along the beach to the north of the Adelaide. I did not inform any of the party, except Thring and Auld, that I was so near to the sea, as I wished to give them a surprise on reaching it. Proceeded through a light soil, slightly elevated, with a little ironstone on the surface–the volcanic rock cropping out occasionally; also some flats of black alluvial soil. The timber much smaller and more like scrub, showing that we are nearing the sea. At eight miles and a half came upon a broad valley of black alluvial soil, covered with long grass; from this I can hear the wash of the sea. On the other side of the valley, which is rather more than a quarter of a mile wide, is growing a line of thick heavy bushes, very dense, showing that to be the boundary of the beach. Crossed the valley, and entered the scrub, which was a complete network of vines. Stopped the horses to clear a way, whilst I advanced a few yards on to the beach, and was gratified and delighted to behold the water of the Indian Ocean in Van Diemen Gulf, before the party with the horses knew anything of its proximity. Thring, who rode in advance of me, called out “The Sea!” which so took them all by surprise, and they were so astonished, that he had to repeat the call before they fully understood what was meant. Then they immediately gave three long and hearty cheers. The beach is covered with a soft blue mud. It being ebb tide, I could see some distance; found it would be impossible for me to take the horses along it; I therefore kept them where I had halted them, and allowed half the party to come on to the beach and gratify themselves by a sight of the sea, while the other half remained to watch the horses until their return. I dipped my feet, and washed my face and hands in the sea, as I promised the late Governor Sir Richard McDonnell I would do if I reached it. The mud has nearly covered all the shells; we got a few, however. I could see no sea-weed. There is a point of land some distance off, bearing 70 degrees. After all the party had had some time on the beach, at which they were much pleased and gratified, they collected a few shells; I returned to the valley, where I had my initials (J.M.D.S.) cut on a large tree, as I did not intend to put up my flag until I arrived at the mouth of the Adelaide. Proceeded, on a course of 302 degrees, along the valley; at one mile and a half, coming upon a small creek, with running water, and the valley being covered with beautiful green grass, I have camped to give the horses the benefit of it. Thus have I, through the instrumentality of Divine Providence, been led to accomplish the great object of the expedition, and take the whole party safely as witnesses to the fact, and through one of the finest countries man could wish to behold–good to the coast, and with a stream of running water within half a mile of the sea. From Newcastle Water to the sea-beach, the main body of the horses have been only one night without water, and then got it within the next day. If this country is settled, it will be one of the finest Colonies under the Crown, suitable for the growth of any and everything–what a splendid country for producing cotton! Judging from the number of the pathways from the water to the beach, across the valley, the natives must be very numerous; we have not seen any, although we have passed many of their recent tracks and encampments. The cabbage and fan palm-trees have been very plentiful during to-day’s journey down to this valley. This creek I named Charles Creek, after the eldest son of John Chambers, Esquire: it is one by which some large bodies of springs discharge their surplus water into Van Diemen Gulf; its banks are of soft mud, and boggy. Wind, south. Latitude, 12 degrees 13 minutes 30 seconds.
Friday, 25th July, Charles Creek, Van Diemen Gulf. I have sent Thring to the south-west to see if he can get round the marsh. If it is firm ground I shall endeavour to make the mouth of the river by that way. After a long search he has returned and informs me that it is impracticable, being too boggy for the horses. As the great object of the expedition is now attained, and the mouth of the river already well known, I do not think it advisable to waste the strength of my horses in forcing them through, neither do I see what object I should gain by doing so; they have still a very long and fatiguing journey in recrossing the continent to Adelaide, and my health is so bad that I am unable to bear a long day’s ride. I shall, therefore, cross this creek and see if I can get along by the sea-beach or close to it. Started and had great difficulty in getting the horses over, although we cut a large quantity of grass, putting it on the banks and on logs of wood which were put into it. We had a number bogged, and I was nearly losing one of my best horses, and was obliged to have him pulled out with ropes; after the loss of some time we succeeded in getting them all over safely. Proceeded on a west-north-west course over a firm ground of black alluvial soil. At two miles came upon an open part of the beach, went on to it, and again found the mud quite impassable for horses; in the last mile we have had some rather soft ground. Stopped the party, as this travelling is too much for the horses, and, taking Thring with me, rode two miles to see if the ground was any firmer in places; found it very soft where the salt water had covered it, in others not so bad. Judging from the number of shells banked up in different places, the sea must occasionally come over this. I saw at once that this would not do for the weak state in which my horses were, and I therefore returned to where I had left the party, resolving to recross the continent to the City of Adelaide. I now had an open place cleared, and selecting one of the tallest trees, stripped it of its lower branches, and on its highest branch fixed my flag, the Union Jack, with my name sewn in the centre of it. When this was completed, the party gave three cheers, and Mr. Kekwick then addressed me, congratulating me on having completed this great and important undertaking, to which I replied. Mr. Waterhouse also spoke a few words on the same subject, and concluded with three cheers for the Queen and three for the Prince of Wales. At one foot south from the foot of the tree is buried, about eight inches below the ground, an air-tight tin case, in which is a paper with the following notice:
“South Australian Great Northern Exploring Expedition.
“The exploring party, under the command of John McDouall Stuart, arrived at this spot on the 25th day of July, 1862, having crossed the entire Continent of Australia from the Southern to the Indian Ocean, passing through the centre. They left the City of Adelaide on the 26th day of October, 1861, and the most northern station of the Colony on 21st day of January, 1862. To commemorate this happy event, they have raised this flag bearing his name. All well. God save the Queen!”
[Here follow the signatures of myself and party.]
PLANTING THE FLAG ON THE SHORES OF THE INDIAN OCEAN.
As this bay has not been named, I have taken this opportunity of naming it Chambers Bay, in honour of Miss Chambers, who kindly presented me with the flag which I have planted this day, and I hope this may be the first sign of the dawn of approaching civilization. Exactly this day nine months the party left North Adelaide. Before leaving, between the hours of eleven and twelve o’clock, they had lunch at Mr. Chambers’ house; John Bentham Neals, Esquire, being present, proposed success to me, and wished I might plant the flag on the north-west coast. At the same hour of the day, nine months after, the flag was raised on the shores of Chambers Bay, Van Diemen Gulf. On the bark of the tree on which the flag is placed is cut–DIG ONE FOOT–S. We then bade farewell to the Indian Ocean, and returned to Charles Creek, where we had again great difficulty in getting the horses across, but it was at last accomplished without accident. We have passed numerous and recent tracks of natives to-day; they are still burning the country at some distance from the coast. Wind, south-east. Latitude, 12 degrees 14 minutes 50 seconds.
Saturday, 26th July, Charles Creek, Chambers Bay, Van Diemen Gulf. This day I commence my return, and feel perfectly satisfied in my own mind that I have done everything in my power to obtain as extensive a knowledge of the country as the strength of my party will allow me. I could have made the mouth of the river, but perhaps at the expense of losing many of the horses, thus increasing the difficulties of the return journey. Many of them are so poor and weak, from the effects of the worms, that they have not been able for some time to carry anything like a load, and I have been compelled to make the (symbol crescent over C) horses stand the brunt of the work of the expedition. As yet not one of them has failed; they have all done their work in excellent style. The sea has been reached, which was the great object of the expedition, and a practicable route found through a splendid country from Newcastle Water to it, abounding, for a great part of the way, in running streams well stocked with fish–and this has been accomplished at a season of the year during which we have not had one drop of rain. Started, following my tracks back. Passed my former camp on the Thring; went on and crossed it. Proceeded on my east course to the west, about one mile and a half, to some small green marshy plains of black alluvial soil, with a spring in the centre, covered with fine green grass. Camped. Wind, south. Latitude, 12 degrees 30 minutes 21 seconds.
Sunday, 27th July, Small Grassy Plains. Day rather warm; mosquitoes terrible; no sleep last night; never found them so bad before; not a breath of wind to drive them away.
Monday, 28th July, Small Grassy Plains. Started at 7.40, course 25 degrees west of south, for my camp of the eighteenth instant. At ten miles struck my tracks, thus avoiding the boggy creeks that flow into the large marsh. On this course passed five small black alluvial plains, covered with grass, three of them having springs with water on the surface. They lie between slightly elevated country of light-brown soil, having stringy-bark and gums, with occasionally a thin scrub abounding in grass. On the plains there is occasionally a little of the volcanic rock cropping out. Followed my former tracks to the camp on the Lily Marsh, and remained for the night. We all passed a miserable night with the mosquitoes. My hands, wrists, and neck, were all blistered over with their bites, and were most painful.
Tuesday, 29th July, Lily Marsh. At half-past seven o’clock proceeded on the track. Passed my camp of 17th instant, and arriving at the one of the 16th at four o’clock p.m., camped. Wind, south.
Wednesday, 30th July, Side Creek, Adelaide River. All were delighted with a comfortable night’s rest–no mosquitoes. Proceeded to Billiatt Springs and camped. One of the horses, Jerry, has been ill for the last three weeks, and although he has not had anything to carry, it has been as much as we could do to get him into the camp. This afternoon he gave in altogether, and Mr. Kekwick was quite unable to get him a step further, and was compelled to leave him about three miles back, where there is some water and plenty of feed. Wind, south-east.
Thursday, 31st July, Billiatt Springs. Proceeded and passed our camps of 13th and 12th instant. Crossed the Mary branch of the Adelaide: went along the south side, expecting to avoid the boggy creek crossed on the 12th instant. When nearly opposite to it, camped. Found this part of the branch deep, broad, and boggy; but I think we will be able to cross in the morning by cutting down a number of cabbage palms, which are growing very thick here. Light winds from south-east.
Friday, 1st August, South Side of the Mary. Recrossed the Mary, which is very boggy on the banks. We were enabled to cross it safely by cutting a large quantity of long grass, laying it on the sides of the banks, with a few logs and pickets driven into the bed to prevent the current from carrying away the grass. In this we succeeded very well. After crossing I found we had still to encounter the other running and boggy creek of the 12th ultimo; but, by repeating the same operation, we were successful. Passed our camp of the 11th ultimo, and proceeded on towards the table land. On approaching it, where the springs come from underneath, found it very boggy; had some difficulty in getting the horses through it. Got them all through with the exception of Frew’s horse, which stuck hard and fast in it, and we were obliged to pull him out, which was soon accomplished, and we got him safe on terra firma. Continued along the foot of the table land, and halted at our camp of the 10th ultimo. At about seven p.m. last night I heard something plunging in the river; sent down to see what it was; found two of the horses bogged, and unable to extricate themselves. Got ropes, and all the party to pull them out. After an hour’s hard work succeeded. On coming near the table land the country is all on fire, causing a dense black smoke and heated atmosphere. Wind, south-east.
Saturday, 2nd August, North-west Side of Table Land. Proceeded up the creek to the gorge–where we came down from the top of the table land; ascended it, which they all did well except one horse, which refused to go up, and caused me to lose more than an hour with him; we had to take all the things off him and carry them to the top on our backs. We had to zigzag him backwards and forwards, and got him to the top after a deal of trouble. Crossing on the top we met with a large fire about two miles broad. The wind not being strong, nor the grass very long, we got through it well, but my weak eyes suffered much from the smoke coming from the burning logs, trees, and grass. The atmosphere very hot and almost overpowering before we got through it. One of the horses knocked up, but we were able to get him on to the running creek connected with Kekwick’s large group of springs, where I am obliged to camp and try to recover him. This is the first one of the (symbol crescent over C) horses that has failed; but he has not had fair play, through the negligence of the man who had him. He has for some time been carrying a load of one hundred and forty pounds without my knowledge, far more than he was able to carry. He has been a good horse, and has done a deal of work. There are a number of native tracks both up and down our tracks. One of the natives seems to have a very large foot. Wind, south.
Sunday, 3rd August, Kekwick’s Large Springs. Last evening, just as the sun was dipping, five natives made their appearance, armed with spears, and came marching boldly up to within eighty yards of the camp, where they were met by Mr. Kekwick and others of the party who had advanced to meet them. They were all young men, small, and very thin. Seeing so many approaching them they soon went off. They were all smeared over with burnt grass, charcoal, or some other substance of that description. This morning, shortly after sunrise, the same five again made their appearance. I went up to them to see what they wanted. Saw that they had painted their bodies with white stripes ready for war. As it is my intention to pass peaceably through the different tribes, I endeavoured to make friends with them by showing them we intended them no harm if they will leave us alone. One of them had a curious fish spear, which he seemed inclined to part with, and I sent Mr. Kekwick to get some fish-hooks to exchange with him, which he readily did; we then left them. They continuing a longer time than I wished, and gradually approaching nearer to our camp, thinking perhaps they really did not wish to part with the spear, I sent Mr. Kekwick back with it to them to see if that was what they wanted, and to take the fish-hooks from them. But when they saw what was intended, they gave back the spear and retained the hooks. They offered another with a stone head upon the same terms, which was accepted. Mr. Kekwick had a deal of trouble before he could get them to move off, when they were joined by another, and then went off by twos. In a short time they set fire to the grass all round us to try to burn us out. Two of them came again close to the camp under pretence of looking for game before the fire, at the same time setting fire to the grass closer to us. But Mr. Kekwick and one of the others, seeing their intention, ran up to them, who, on their approach, ran off, setting fire to the grass as they went along, which gave us a deal of trouble in putting out, as we wished to save as much feed for the horses as will do for them till to-morrow morning; we have managed that, if they do not come and set fire to it again. If they do I shall be compelled to use preventive means with them, for I can stand it no longer; they must be taught a lesson that we possess a little more power than they anticipate. I would have moved on, but some of my horses are so ill that they are unable to travel. If the natives we have seen to-day are a sample of those that inhabit this country, they are certainly the smallest and most miserable race of men that I have ever seen. In height about five feet, their arms and legs remarkably thin, they do not seem to want the inclination of doing mischief if they could get an opportunity, but they find we are rather too watchful to give them a chance. From their manner I have no doubt there were many more concealed, who intended attacking us under cover of the smoke–indeed if they see us unprepared they may yet do it before evening. At sundown they have not again made their appearance. Wind, south.
Monday, 4th August, Kekwick’s Large springs. Proceeded to the Katherine and camped. The horse that knocked up on Saturday gave in again two miles before we arrived here, although the distance is only thirteen miles, and he had a rest all Sunday. I shall be compelled to leave him here; he only destroys other horses dragging him along, and as the season is so far advanced, I am doubtful of the water in some of the ponds, and therefore cannot stop with him. I have been so very unwell to-day, with symptoms of fever, that I could scarcely reach this place; but I hope I shall be better by to-morrow. Nights and mornings are now very cold, but the sun is very hot during the middle and afterpart of the day. Wind, south-east.
Tuesday, 5th August, The Katherine. Leaving the knocked-up horse behind, proceeded to the Fanny, and camped. It was as much as I could do to sit in the saddle this distance. Wind, south.
Wednesday, 6th August, The Fanny. Proceeded to the Waterhouse and camped. The natives have been along our track, and burned the grass to within three miles of our camp. On arriving here I was much disappointed on finding all the water gone, but, following back the north-west branch, I found enough for our use to-night and to-morrow morning. The country is all on fire to the south-east. Wind, variable. The journey has been rather rough and stony, and my weak horses feel it very much. I am afraid I shall be compelled to leave some more of them behind. I cannot now stay for them to recover, after seeing the rapidity with which this water has dried up. A long delay will cause my retreat to be cut off in the pond country. Wind, south-east. There is still permanent water up the north-west branch of this creek.
Thursday, 7th August, The Waterhouse. Started at half-past seven, and at two minutes past ten o’clock I arrived at the running stream (the Chambers) of the 4th ultimo and camped. Weak horses looking very bad. Country on fire round about us. A number of natives have been following on our former tracks. Wind, south.
Friday, 8th August, Running Stream, The Chambers. Crossed the hard sandstone range, and got upon the branch of the Chambers that I followed up, passing our camp of 3rd ultimo, with plenty of permanent water. Followed it down to our camp of the 2nd ultimo and remained there. Had to leave one of the done-up horses about two miles behind. Another horse gave in, and it was as much as Mr. Kekwick could do to get him thus far. The natives have burned all the grass throughout this day’s journey. A little has escaped at this camp, and I am now compelled to give my horses a rest until Monday morning. I thought they would have been able to carry me across the Chambers before I gave them a rest, but, if I proceed further, I shall lose more of them. The weather is beginning to be again very hot in the middle of the day. Wind, south-east.
Saturday, 9th August, River Chambers. Resting horses. Day hot. Wind variable.
Sunday, 10th August, River Chambers. Resting horses. I have sent Thring to bring up the one that was left behind on Friday; in a short time he brought him up, looking a most deplorable picture; the other one that gave in the same day is quite as bad. I shall have to leave them behind; it is only destroying other horses to force them along. I must also reduce the weight the others are carrying, to enable them to get along. I have had all the saddle-bags overhauled, and shall leave everything we can possibly do without–even boots and clothes belonging to the party have not been spared; all were quite willing to sacrifice anything they had, with the exception of one who had a pair of new boots he had never put on. I told him to put them on, and leave the old ones, but he immediately told me that he had got a bad foot; I very soon cured him of that by telling him if that was the case he might leave the new ones. I have managed to leave about three hundredweight; many of the things I can ill spare, but I hope by doing this to be able in a short time to push on a little quicker. Light winds, variable.
Monday, 11th August, River Chambers. Two of the horses having strayed this morning, it was a quarter past nine before I could get a start. I had to proceed very slowly, in consequence of five of the horses being so ill that they were unable to walk quickly. Proceeded on my former tracks, cutting off the bends of the river. In some places it is very stony. Late in the afternoon managed to get all the horses to the first camp on this river. Light winds, south-east.
Tuesday, 12th August, River Chambers. Horses missing again this morning. Started at half-past eight. Proceeded to the south-east end of the reedy swamp, and at half-past three o’clock camped. An hour before halting, we surprised a number of native women and children who were preparing roots and other things for their repast. The moment they saw us they seized on their children, placed them on their shoulders, and ran off screaming at a great rate, leaving all their things behind them, amongst which we saw a piece of iron used as a tomahawk; it had a large round eye into which they had fixed a handle; the edge was about the usual tomahawk breadth; when hot it had been hammered together. It had apparently been a hinge of some large door or other large article; the natives had ground it down, and seemed to know the use of it. Left their articles undisturbed, and proceeded to the river Roper. My horses are still looking very bad. The cause must be the dry state of the grass; it is so parched up that when rubbed between the hands it becomes a fine powder, and they must derive very little nourishment from it. I can hear natives talking and screaming on the other side of the river, which at this place is a strong running stream about thirty yards wide and apparently deep. Wind, south-east, blowing strong.
Wednesday, 13th August, Roper River, Reedy Swamp. One of the horses missing again this morning; he is one that generally goes off and hides himself if he can find a place to do so. Searched all round, but could find nothing of him or his tracks. Thinking that he might be hidden amongst the thick bushes over the river, sent Frew to look through them on foot, and Mr. Kekwick to an open place up the river to see if he had got into it. Mr. Kekwick returned in a short time and reported that he saw him lying drowned in the middle of it. I am sorry for this: he was a good horse, in fair condition, was with me last year, and has always done his work well, although he has caused a deal of trouble and loss of time by so frequently concealing himself. I shall feel his loss very much, as so many of the other horses are so poor that they are able to carry but little of a load, and I am obliged to let four go without carrying anything; indeed it is as much as they can do to walk the day’s journey, although the journeys are short. I shall be compelled to make them still shorter to try and get them round again. As we were saddling, one native man and two women made their appearance and came close to the camp. Mr. Kekwick and I went up to them; the man was middle-aged, stout and tall, the women were also tall, one especially. Their features were not so coarse as those we had seen before–a very great difference between this fellow and those I saw on the source of the Adelaide River. The man made signs that he would like to get a fishhook by bending his forefinger and placing it in his mouth, imitating the method of catching fish. I gave him one with which he was much pleased: I also gave a cotton handkerchief to each of the women; one of them no sooner got it than she held out the other hand and called out “more, more, more;” with that request I did not feel inclined to comply. They remained until we started. Proceeding about three quarters of a mile down the river to where I had crossed it before, I got all the horses over without difficulty. There is now no difference in the strength, depth, nor velocity of the stream since we were here; it is exactly in the same state as when we previously crossed it. After crossing it to the other side, I had to cross another deep although dry creek coming from the east; proceeded on a south-east course to avoid the deep boggy creek that comes into the river, but at two miles I was stopped by an immense number of springs, very boggy, and emitting a large quantity of water; they seem to come from the east, as far as I could see, in a wooded valley between two hills. I had to round them until I got upon the south-east course again. At seven miles came upon a large creek or chain of ponds, having long broad deep reaches of water; followed this, running nearly my course for seven miles in a straight line. Camped. My horses cannot do more. The country that I have travelled over to-day is of the very finest description, rich black alluvial soil, completely matted with grass, the water most excellent and abundant. The timber, gum and melaleuca, a few of the trees resembling the shea-oak also; a few of the fan palms growing among the springs, very tall, upwards of forty feet; the cabbage palm, and a number of other bushes. The general course to-day has been about east-south-east. Wind variable.
Thursday, 14th August, Springs and Chains of Ponds South of the Roper. Started at half-past seven, intending to follow a south-east course to make the Mussel Camp on the 23rd of June; but, meeting with another large creek with continuous water, deep, broad, and boggy, also a number of springs and water creeks, so boggy that I could not cross them, had to twist and turn about very frequently, and sometimes to go quite back again, before I could clear them–which brought me often close to the river again. About eleven o’clock, as I was approaching the east end of a low rocky range of hills, where I expected to get rid of all the boggy ground, I was again stopped by a broad, deep, and boggy sheet of water. A few minutes before coming to it, I was seized with a violent pain under the right shoulder-blade, which deprived me of breath and power of utterance: it darted through my body like lightning, causing the most excruciating pain that I have ever felt during my life. I had to halt the party, and was lifted from the saddle completely powerless. After dismounting, the pain became so violent, and the torture so excessive, that I thought my career in the world was coming quickly to a close. I was completely paralysed, and a cold perspiration was pouring in streams over my face and body. Recollecting I had got a mixture of laudanum and other strong aromatic tinctures, had it sought for and took a strong dose. After suffering an hour the extremes of torture, I began to feel the good effects of the medicine, and obtained a little relief from the pain ceasing for a few seconds; but still very bad. In a short time afterwards I was able to bear being lifted into the saddle; again my sufferings commenced, for every false step the horse made sent the pain through my body like a knife, and almost brought me to the ground. Being determined to reach the Mussel Camp to-night, and get quit of the Roper River, which has been so unfortunate to me in drowning two of my best horses, I kept my saddle until I reached it–which was not till near five o’clock. Such a day of torture I never experienced before. On reaching our tracks, about four miles from the Mussel Camp, another of the horses knocked up, and we could not get him a step further. I expected to have lost him long before this; he is one of those that failed on my last journey, and was sent back from Mount Margaret. Light winds from east.
Friday, 15th August, Mussel Camp. I have passed a miserable night, and feel but little better this morning, and as the horses require rest, I shall remain here to-day. Shortly after sunrise, three natives came close to the camp; Mr. Kekwick went up to them. Two were of the number of those who visited us the first time at the large reedy swamp. They were very quiet, and seemed very friendly; they had come to have a look at us, and satisfy their curiosity. I feel a little easier to-night. Light wind, variable.
Saturday, 16th August, Mussel Camp. Started at nine o’clock. Another of my horses very ill; I think that many of them must have eaten some poisonous plant on the Roper and its tributaries; I never saw horses fall away so rapidly before. The worst are those that have been in good condition throughout the journey, and the work they have been doing since I commenced my return journey any horses ought to have done with ease. I have never travelled more than eight hours a day, and frequently not more than six hours. In a day or two they fall away to perfect skeletons, are quite stupid, and hardly able to walk. I am glad that I am now quit of the Roper, and hope that I shall have no more of them taken ill. If I can only get the weak ones beyond Newcastle Water, where I expect to get some new grass for them (from the June and July rains), they would soon recover. My old horses are all looking well, although they have had to carry the heaviest loads throughout the journey. I should have been in a sad way without them–they are my mainstay. Arrived at the Rock Camp, River Strangways, at two o’clock without having to leave any more. I feel a little better to-day, but the motion of the horse has been very severe throughout the journey. The water at this camp is drying up very rapidly: it is reduced three feet in depth since we left, and I am very much afraid it will be all gone in Purdie Ponds–if such is the case, I shall lose all the weak horses. Wind in strong puffs, variable.
Sunday, 17th August, Rock Camp. Resting horses. Winds light and variable.
Monday, 18th August, Rock Camp. Three of the best horses are missing this morning–they are the three leading horses–while feeding; and I have never known them to be away from the others before. The three horse-keepers have returned at half-past ten, and can see nothing of them; the ground is so hard that their tracks leave but little impression, so that they might have passed them unseen. Mounted Thring and King on fresh horses to round the feeding-tracks again, and at half-past twelve they returned with them. They happened to come upon their tracks on a small piece of sandy ground on the opposite side of the creek; they traced them to a large permanent water lagoon, deep and broad, with water-lilies growing round it, and a number of ducks upon it; it is about three quarters of a mile west-south-west from this camp. Not seeing them there they followed their tracks for another mile, and there found them, at which I was very glad, for they are three of my very best horses, on which I am placing my dependence for carrying me back. I felt very uneasy at their being away, thinking that the natives might have cut them off during night. Saddled and proceeded to my first camp, north of the Rocky Gorge, but was disappointed to find all the water gone, which I did not expect. Proceeded a mile further, and found as much as will do for a drink for the horses to-night and to-morrow morning. Camped. Light winds, variable.
Tuesday, 19th August, First Camp North of Rocky Gorge. Started at eight o’clock, proceeding to the Rocky Gorge, and camped. This water has shrunk considerably since we left it, and I have now little hopes of there being any water in Purdie Ponds. If there is not I shall require to push through to Daly Waters. Light winds, south-east.
Wednesday, 20th August, Rocky Gorge, River Strangways. If there is no water in Purdie Ponds, I have six horses that will not be able to go through to Daly Waters; they must be two nights without it, and that they will not be able to stand. I have therefore determined to send Thring and King to Purdie Ponds to-morrow, to see if there is any water, and also to examine another place that I observed in coming through, where I think there may be water. If they find none at either of these places, I shall be compelled to leave the six weak horses at the camp, where there is and will be plenty of food and water for them. To attempt taking them through, and be compelled to leave them behind where there will be no chance of their getting a drop of water, would, I consider, be a great cruelty; here they are safe, and there is a chance of their being picked up by the next party. If Thring succeeds in getting water, I shall still endeavour to take them on. I am yet suffering very much from scurvy; my teeth and gums are so bad that it causes me excessive pain to eat anything, and what I do eat I am unable to masticate properly, which causes me to feel very ill indeed. Light winds, south-east.
Thursday, 21st August, Rocky Gorge, River Strangways. At 7.30 despatched Thring and King to see if there is any water in the Ponds. Resting horses, repairing saddle-bags, etc. Day hot, night and morning cool; wind, south-east. My sight has been very much impaired during the last month; after sundown, I am in total darkness. Even though the moon is full, and shining bright and clear to the others, to me it is darkness; I can see her dimly, but she gives me no more light than if she had been painted on a piece of canvas. I am now quite incapable of taking observations at night, and I am most thankful this did not happen before I was enabled to reach the ocean, as the most of my observations are taken at night. After the equinox the sun is too high to be measured by the sextant in the artificial horizon.
Friday, 22nd August, Rocky Gorge, River Strangways. Day exceedingly hot. Wind still from south-east, sometimes blowing in strong puffs. A little after two o’clock Thring and King returned with the good news that there is still water in Purdie Ponds; there is as much as will do for us until Monday morning. I am very glad of it, for it will enable me to get the weak horses through to Newcastle Water. After that I hope they will soon recover, for I expect that rain has fallen to the southward of that, and trust I shall get some fresh feed for them, which they require very much. I still feel very unwell to-day.
Saturday, 23rd August, Rocky Gorge, River Strangways. Started at half-past seven, and at four o’clock arrived at the Ponds. The day has been extremely hot, but about noon some heavy clouds came up from the east and south-east, which made it a little cooler, and enabled me to get all the weak horses through; one of them showed symptoms of giving in before we reached the Ponds, but we got him in all right. I shall remain here until Monday morning, when I shall have again another long journey without water (thirty-five miles) to Daly Waters. At sundown the clouds all cleared away, without giving us any rain. Wind, south-east. This day’s journey has completely knocked me up. At one time I thought I should never have been able to reach this water. I had no idea I was in such a weak state, and am very doubtful of my being able to stand the journey back to Adelaide; whatever may occur I must submit to the will of Divine Providence.
Sunday, 24th August, Purdie Ponds. Day hot. Wind light, from south-east. About noon a few clouds came up, but they all disappeared about sundown. Very little improvement in me to-day.
Monday, 25th August, Purdie Ponds. Started at seven o’clock on my former tracks towards Daly Waters. At seven miles south of the Blue-grass Swamp saw a heavy fog to the east, in the same place that I saw the black fog in coming up; it must be caused by a large body of water in that direction. The natives have been running our tracks, and have burnt the grass on both sides of it for some distance. There seem to be very few of them about this part of the country. At half-past four passed the large swamp that receives the surplus water of Daly Waters, with water still in it, but very much reduced. At a quarter past five o’clock arrived at Daly Waters; found them also very much reduced, but still an abundant supply. Got all the weak horses through, which is more than I expected. This long journey has again completely exhausted me, and I feel very ill. Wind, south-east, with a few clouds.
Tuesday, 26th August, Daly Waters. I feel a little better this morning, but still very weak and languid. I shall give the horses and myself a rest to-day, for I am quite unable to ride. Wind, south-east, with a few clouds from the same direction.
Wednesday, 27th August, Daly Waters. Last evening, about half-past seven, Thring observed a comet bearing about 20 degrees west of north, and about 15 degrees above the horizon; the tail is short and the nucleus large. I regret that I am unable to see it. I cannot now see a single star, everything at night is total darkness. I should like to take some observations of it, but I am quite debarred from doing so. Started at half-past seven and proceeded along the Daly Waters, in which we saw an abundant supply. On reaching McGorrerey Ponds, and finding plenty of water, camped. I feel a good deal better to-day, but the motion of travelling on horseback is still very severe. Although Daly Waters is much reduced, there is still enough to last six months longer, even should no rain fall. These ponds will also hold out about three months longer. Wind, strong from south-east, with a few clouds.
Thursday, 28th August, McGorrerey Ponds. Proceeded to King’s Ponds and camped. Find that the natives have been running our tracks, and have burnt large patches of grass; at this camp they have burnt it round. The water here is nearly all dried up; a few days later and I should not have got a drop. There is enough to last me to-night and to-morrow morning. Strong wind from south-east. The natives have cut on one side of my initials, on a gum-tree by the water where we camp, a figure resembling (a stylised flying bird).
Friday, 29th August, King’s Ponds. Started at quarter past seven; proceeded to Frew’s Pond, but was disappointed to find it quite dry. Dug down two feet, but could find no water. Proceeded on a straight course for Newcastle Water. Crossed Sturt Plains, and after dark camped on them. I would have gone to Howell Ponds, but finding the others so nearly dry, I was doubtful of them. A little before sundown, after I had passed them some distance, I observed flocks of pigeons flying towards them, showing that there is water still there. It is too late for me to go there now, Newcastle Water being the nearest. Wind, south-east. I feel a little better than I did on the former long journey.
Saturday, 30th August, Sturt Plains. At dawn of day started, being still some eight miles from Newcastle Water. The horses look very wretched this morning, especially the weak ones. About half-past eight arrived there, and found an abundant supply of water, though much reduced. No rain seems to have fallen since we left this, upwards of four months ago. A short time before we arrived a number of natives were observed following at a distance behind the rear of the party. They followed us on to our old camp, when I sent Mr. Kekwick up to them to keep them amused until I had the horses unpacked and taken down to water. By giving them a handkerchief he obtained a stone tomahawk from them. They are a fine race of men, tall, stout, and muscular, but not very handsome in features. They were very quiet. By making signs they were made to understand they were not to come nearer to our camp than about one hundred and fifty yards. They remained until noon staring at us and our horses. Some who could not see us very well got into the gum-trees, and had a long look at us. They were seventeen in number; four of them were boys, one of them much lighter than the others, nearly a light yellow. At noon they all went off, after remaining for four hours. Once more have I returned, if I may so call it, into old country again, after an absence of four months and ten days, exploring a new and splendid country from this to the Indian ocean without receiving a single drop of rain, or without any hostilities from the natives. I have returned from the coa