Burke's Despatch from Torowoto.
[Received by the Exploration Committee, Melbourne, 3rd December 1860.]
I have the honour to report that I left Menindie on the 19th instant with the following party:- Messrs. Burke, Wills, Brahe, Patten, McDonough, King, gray, Dost Mahomet, fifteen horses and sixteen camels and Mr Wright who had kindly volunteered to show me a practical route to Cooper's Creek for a distance of a hundred miles from the Darling; and he has more than fulfilled his promise, for we have now travelled for upwards of 200 miles, generally through a fine sheep-grazing country; and we have not had any difficulty about water, as we found creeks or waterholes, many of them having the appearance of permanent water, at a distance never exceeding twenty miles. Mr Wills report herewith forwarded, gives all the necessary details. Although travelling at the rate of twenty miles a day, the horses and camels have all improved in condition and the country improves as we go on. Yesterday from Wanominta to Paldrumata Creek we travelled over a splendid grazing country and today we encamped on a creek or swamp, the banks of which are very well grassed and good feed all the way from our last camp (44), except for two miles, where the ground was barren and swampy.
Of course it is impossible for me to say what effect an unusually dry summer would produce throughout this country, or whether we are now travelling in an unusually favorable season or not. I describe things as I find them.
Mr Wright returns from here to Menindie. I informed him that I should consider him third officer of the expedition, subject to the approval of the committee, from the day of our departure from Menindie, and I hope that they will confirm the appointment. in the mean time I have instructed him to follow me up with the remainder of the camels to Cooper's Creek to take steps to procure a supply of jerked meat and I have written to the doctor to inform him that I have accepted his resignation, as although I was anxious to await the decision of the committee, the circumstances will not admit of delay, and he has positively refused to leave the settled districts. I am willing to admit that he did his best until the fears for the safety of the party overcame him; but these fears, I think, clearly show how unfit he is for his post.
If Mr Wright is allowed to follow out the instructions I have given him i am confidant that the result will be satisfactory: and if the committee think proper to make inquiries with regard to him they will find that he is well qualified for the post and that he bears the very highest character. I shall proceed on from here to Cooper's Creek. i may or may not be able to send on from there until we are followed up. Perhaps it would not be prudent to divide the party; the natives here have told Mr Wright that we shall meet with opposition on our way there. Perhaps I might find it advisable to leave a depot at Cooper's Creek and to go on with a small party to examine the country beyond it.
Under any circumstances it is desirable that we should soon be followed up. I consider myself very fortunate in having Mr Wills as my second in command. He is a capital officer, zealous and untiring in the performance of his duties and I trust that he will remain my second as long as I am in charge of the expedition.
The men all conduct themselves admirably, and they are all most anxious to go on, but the committee may rely upon it that I shall go on steadily and carefully and that I endeavour not to lose a chance or to run any unnecessary risk
I have the honour to be Sir, Your most obedient servant, R O'Hara Burke, Leader.
PS. The two blacks and four horses go back with Mr Wright.
PPS. The following is a list of the camps from Menindie to this place:-
R O'Hara Burke, Leader