Saturday, 26th January. Pamamoroo, Darling River, New South Wales
Packing stores until 11 am., when the camels were sent on under charge of Dr Beckler, with instructions to camp on the west side of Pamamoroo Lake. Owing to the unruly dispositions of the horses recently purchased, it was one o'clock before Smith accompanied by the native boy Dick (who had been persuaded to venture again in the interior), started with four of the horses, followed at 2 pm., by Mr Hodgkinson and Stone with five, and 3 pm., by Mr Becker and myself with the remaining four horses. The afternoon was occupied in packing and unpacking, nearly every horse throwing off his load, and the party becoming separated by the trouble thus caused. Smith was unable to find Dr Beckler's halting place, and camped about a mile and a-half to the east of it. Two horses broke loose, and went away with their packs into the thick polygonum of the lake where they remained till next day. Distance, five miles ; weather very hot, with occasional light breezes. Country occupied by Mr McGregor.
Sunday, 27th January. Pamamoroo Lake.
Started at dawn to look for the two missing horses. Took Dick with me, and found one some eight miles away at a place called Tandower Swamp. Returned with it to camp, sending Dick after the other horse, which he recovered in the afternoon, and brought into camp. In accordance with my instructions Dr Beckler had moved the camp two miles further on the western border of the swamp. During the day Smith came up and reported his horses all safe. Resolved upon issuing the following weekly scale of rations per man:- Flour, 7lb. ; meat, 7lb, salt or dried ; sugar, l2 lb.; tea, 3oz.; with preserved vegetables, rice, &c., at discretion. Thermometer at two pm., 104 degrees.
Monday, 28th January. Pamamoroo Lake.
In consequence of the intense heat and the certainty of a small allowance of water for three or four days, I decided upon travelling at night, and instructed the party to prepare for a move a little before sundown. After breakfast Dick, the native, who had shown on several occasions a disposition to slip away borrowed a clean shirt and then bolted. His unwillingness to accompany the party arose from his fear of the natives, and was to be regretted, as his absence deprived us of our only interpreter. At 10 am. the thermometer stood at 104 degrees in the shade, and at 2 pm. had risen to 112 degrees. At a quarter to six o'clock commenced packing, and started at 9 pm., with the rise of the full moon. The horses went first and were followed by the camels, both keeping Mr Burke's track, which was well marked from the recent trip of Dr Beckler to Duroodo. Continued travelling all night, the men walking and greatly fatigued.
Tuesday, 29th January. Coorkerega.
At 7 am., the horses arrived at the base of a rocky range, twenty-five miles N.W. of the Darling, and camped in a glen close to the main track. A large cave, adorned with native drawings, and covered with the marks of various visitors, furnished an acceptable shelter from the scorching heat ; and at 9 am. the whole party were recruited by the arrival of Dr Beckler with the camels. Water being very scarce, owing to the evaporation from our leathern water-bags, Hodgkinson and Smith set to work cleaning out a well about 100 yards from the mouth of the cave. In a short time water commenced to percolate through the sand, and ultimately several buckets of a rather nauseous though desirable fluid were obtained. I then had another well sank higher up the glen and fortunately succeeded in procuring a bucket of water for nine of our horses, together with a sufficient supply for personal use. About 6 pm. a cool breeze sprang up, but the horses suffered greatly from want of water, huddling round the well, and refusing to feed until near sunset, when they scrambled up the rocks and travelled along the crest of the range. Though there is no permanent water at Coorkerega, and in fact none nearer than the Darling, except at rare intervals, the worn out cavities of the rocks furnish shelter to numerous marsupial animals, more particularly to a species of rock wallaby, termed wanguroo by the natives, and to the best of my belief not found southward of the Darling. I should however, be infringing on the province of the naturalist were I to furnish a detailed description of this interesting animal ; but I may state that I called Mr Becker's attention to several which were shot by Mr Hodgkinson during the progress of his party.
Wednesday, 30th January.
On searching for the horses at dawn, it was found they had strayed considerably. Stone and Hodgkinson started in quest of them. Dr Beckler, Belooch, and the cook packed the camels and had just completed their task when Hodgkinson returned with one horse, and stated that he had followed the tracks of four until he caught one ; the others which were not in sight heading straight for the Darling. Giving instructions to Dr Beckler to move on with the camels to Bilpa, the next stage, I saddled the horse thus opportunely brought in and started after the others. It was dark ere they were recovered ; but. I decided upon moving, and started as soon as possible, camping within three miles of Bilpa, at which spot two water-bags had been deposited previous to our leaving the Darling. Dr Beckler camped at Bilpa, and reported to me that a thunderstorm, accompanied by rain, had broken to the north of his course at 1 pm., and a few drops had fallen at Bilpa. Distance from Coorkerega to Bilpa, twelve miles.
Thursday, 31st January. Bilpa.
Started at dawn and reached Bilpa with the horses at 6 am. Found the camels packed and just about to start. Kept Hodgkinson to assist in watering the horses ; and told Dr Beckler to move on to Badurga, eighteen miles in front. The water remaining in the two pair of water-bags sent here from the Darling, filled about fifteen buckets of seven quarts each, but was nauseous to the taste, being tainted by the smell from the camel tarpaulings with which it was covered. We were only too glad however to drink it, and to have the opportunity of giving each horse about two gallons. As there were two other pairs of bags at Badurga, I decided upon losing no time in going there, and immediately the horses were watered started fur that spot, keeping Mr Burke's track, and travelling over eighteen miles of uninteresting and arid sandhills. At 5 pm. I rejoined Dr Beckler, and heard with regret that two of the four bags cached near the camp were quite empty on his arrival, and that the other two only contained five buckets. The horses were suffering much from want of water, being accustomed to a well-watered country, and it was evident that unless speedily relieved they would perish at the outset of the journey. Under these circumstances I resolved upon sending to Motanie Ranges for water, Mr Burke's track leading to them, and the distance to the first water not exceeding twenty miles. Mr Hodgkinson and Belooch accordingly started in the morning with the ten camels and five pairs of water-bags. At 1 am. they reached the Motanie Range, tied up the camels, and worked all night at filling the bags from a small rocky basin situated in a gloomy ravine. During their absence Mr Becker discovered a plant of Mr Haverfield's containing a jar of water, but I did not make use of it, as the quantity was too small to be of much service, and I thought it likely Mr Haverfield might suffer inconvenience and disappointment, as he was still out in the back country.
Friday, 1st February
Upon inspecting the horses this morning, I found them so knocked up from thirst that a few hours' further suffering would inevitably cause the loss of several. I therefore thought it advisable to push on for the Motanie Ranges, leaving the packs, saddles, &c., behind. I was the more resolved to pursue this course, as Hodgkinson and Belooch were unarmed, and I thought it possible they might have fallen in with natives at the water, and been prevented from obtaining a supply. Shortly after dawn I started with Stone, driving the horses. To my great satisfaction I met Hodgkinson and Belooch with a supply of water, ten miles from Badurga. I immediately gave the horses a bucket of water each, which enabled them to go on to Motanie, where we arrived in the course of the afternoon, and camped in a valley covered with kangaroo grass, leading to a rocky basin containing an abundance of beautifully clear water.
Saturday, 2nd February, to Thursday, 7th February. Motanie Range.
During the period intervening between Saturday morning and Thursday, the 7th, the party was encamped in the Motanie Range, Dr Beckler bringing up the camels with their loads, and Smith and Hodgkinson again returning to Badurga with six of the camels for the purpose of fetching up the horse packs, saddles, and bridles. As this country has doubtless been described to you by Mr Burke as far as Torowoto (or Duroodo) Swamp, I do not think it necessary to state more than that it abounds in fine pasturage, and consists of a valley some twenty miles in length, flanked on its eastern and western sides by ranges of lofty hills, formed of rock, and intersected by picturesque gorges, in many cases forming at their heads fine pools of clear water. Though we saw the country under a very different aspect from that it presented at the period of Mr Burke's transit, it appeared even at the time we passed through it still a fine and verdant tract. On Wednesday I moved the camp to another gorge about eight miles north. On Thursday morning we left Motanie Range, and shortly before sundown reached Nuntherunge Creek, eighteen miles distant from our last camp in the ranges.
Friday, 8th February. Nuntherunge Creek.
The morning broke cloudy, with strong gusts of wind from the south-west. During the night it was piercing cold, and most of us were glad to augment our wearing apparel. Nuntherunge is a fine creek, with waterholes two-thirds of a mile in length, bordered with heavy gum trees, but at this time the water in them was rather shallow. Near the camp there were some pine-bearing sandhills, and somewhat peculiar dome-shaped eminencies. The camels, which had hitherto been tied up at night, I now turned out in hobbles, and found they gave little more trouble, if any, than the horses. This creek seemed to be a great resort for feathered game. Emu tracks were very numerous, and droves of water-hen ran along the margin. Early in the morning flocks of Sturt's pigeons came down from the sand-hills to drink, and flights of parrots enlivened the vicinity of the camp by their cries. We saw no natives here, but there were a number of mia-mias close by us, and the fences which they form, in order to catch water-hen, met the gaze in every bend of the creek. At 6 am. we commenced packing, and at 11 am. started for the next creek, Wannaminta. Our course bore a little to the west of north, and the track was flanked on the right by a bold range called by the natives Toorltoro, and on the left by undulating sandhills, beyond which were the ranges east of Flood's Creek, called Wa-Ya-Boorla. The sandhills were covered with pine and withered acacia, commonly known as mulgar. Grasses of various descriptions were abundant, and a small tree, with a light green foliage and bushy form, lent quite a charm to the otherwise somewhat sombre character of the vegetation. The journey throughout the day was very heavy for the camel men, who, in consequence of the heavy loads on their beasts, were obliged to walk. About three miles from Wannaminta, two small hills of a singular shape rear themselves from the flat country by which they are surrounded, and form a natural landmark, showing the termination of the plateau to the south. On reaching a spot midway between them, a fine view, peculiarly Australian, presents itself. To the north a line of white gum trees mark the course of Wannaminta Creek ; while at some distance (nine or ten miles) to the N.E. a bold but short and very remarkable range, called Koorningbirri by the blacks, Wannaminta Range by Mr Wills, and I understand Mount Jamieson by Mr Haverfield, forms a striking feature in the scene. During the day two turkeys were seen, but were too wild to be approached within gunshot. We reached the creek at sundown, and estimated the distance from Nuntherunge at twenty miles. The weather throughout the day was cold and cloudy, and at about 2 pm. a slight shower fell. We reached Yeltawinge Creek at 4 pm. I had to send back to our last camp for swag of stores which was found to have been left behind. Mr Hodgkinson shot six water-hen, a teal, and four of Sturt's pigeons.
Sunday, 10th February.
Moved the camp eight miles to a fine waterhole on the Yeltawinge. A number of emu were seen here, and several birds shot. Mr Hodgkinson here complained of rheumatic pains. During the day the mirage was observable in every direction, and the range to the N.E. presented strange changes of outline as we approached it.
Monday, 11th February.
At thirty-five minutes past eight the camels left Yeltawinge, but some delay was occasioned by two of the horses having strayed. Our course lay over clay plains, on which Mr Burke's track was very indistinct, and in some places altogether invisible. Koorningbirri, of which Mr Becker made a sketch, now bore S.E., and a large, though low, hill faced Yeltawinge, on its western bank. The vegetation consisted chiefly of cotton bush and salsolaceous plants, and the absence of timber, except in the vicinity of the creek, rendered the scene rather uninteresting. The country around our camp of last night bore traces of inundation, and the footprints of the natives who had accompanied either Mr Burke or Lyons were deep in the clay soil. Shallow watercourses intersected the wide plain extending around us, and every hollow was coated with dry sand, glistening and cracked. A few of Sturt's pigeons, with occasionally a small bird not unlike a mule canary, were the only animated objects to be seen. The heat was excessive. The camels were unable to stand in one place more than a few minutes, lifting their feet from the hot sand in quick succession. An emu was started, which was feeding near the track, and so bewildered did the bird appear to be that it kept walking in front and around us for some time, but eventually made off. At half-past five we reached Paldromatta Creek, where we camped for the night, with abundance of shallow water of a creamy hue. The distance from Yeltawinge to Paldromatta is about twenty-two miles.
Tuesday, 12th February.
We left Paldromatta Creek at 9 am., running up its southern bank for about half a mile to Mr Burke's crossing place, and then ascending the northern bank, bounded by sandhills presenting the usual features. About a mile from Paldromatta, the track passes to the east of a salt lake, which presented a remarkable view, from the contrast of its snowy white incrustations with the scenery around. Mount Koorningbirri and other ranges were nearly out of sight. About 5 pm. the horses reached Torowoto (or Duroodo) swamp, and shortly afterwards were joined by the camel party, camping on the site of Mr Burke's forty-fifth camp, though no numerals are marked on the tree bearing his initials.
Wednesday, 13th February.
Torowoto Swamp, where I resolved on spelling for a couple of days, is one of a numerous series of hollows, receiving the drainage of the surrounding country, and presents a surface of thick green foliage, intersected by a thousand little watercourses, and traversed by a main channel running nearly east and west. Stunted box trees overshadow the swamp, which is matted with a thick undergrowth of polygonum and plants particularly agreeable to the camels. Besides this there is abundance of marsilice, a plant creeping close to the ground, with leaves not unlike clover, and bearing a seed largely used by the natives as food. On this seed Lyons and McPherson subsisted for some time, and the tree under which they camped and pounded their bread was close by us. Shortly after our arrival at Torowoto, a tribe of natives came towards us. There were about seventeen, perfectly unarmed. A tassel tied round the loins of the men, and a few emu feathers depending from the chin as ornaments, composed their stock of clothing. They appeared to be very healthy and in good condition. I gave them two tomahawks and some broken biscuit, endeavoring to make them comprehend that I wished two of them to accompany the party. I selected two, and gave them each a shirt. They were well acquainted with the various creeks, and named several places in advance, but our mutual ignorance of each other's language rendered it impossible to obtain any serviceable information. la the evening they brought their women to the camp, and freely offered them as presents in return for the few things we had given them. Most of the males were circumcised, but the cicatrices in the arms and breasts peculiar to some tribes were not marked in the Torowoto natives. The weather during the day was very hot, while occasionally, without the least intimation of its approach, a whirlwind would sweep round the packs and scatter the lighter articles in every direction. These winds moved in segments of circles, and their directions seemed quite capricious.
Thursday, 14th February.
Spelled at Torowoto. The day was employed in mending saddles, cleaning firearms, and looking over the stores. I discovered that the flour planted by Mr Burke had been dug up, the hoops of the cask lying near our camp. The camel rug under which Lyons and McPherson lay was still suspended from the tree to which it had been tied, the natives apparently thinking it too heavy to be useful to them. All day our black visitors kept walking about pilfering any little articles they could, and burying them in the sand with their feet.
Friday, 15th February.
Rose at dawn, filled water-bags, packed and started the horses at 8 am. and the camels at 9. Two of the natives accompanied the horses as guides, but proceeded only a short distance with us. On leaving Torowoto the tribe gathered together, and the women made a show of whimpering at our departure. Skirting the N.E. shore of the swamp for half a mile, we then struck over the sandhills on our old course to W. of N., passing over precisely similar country to that bordering the southern shores of the swamp. At eighteen miles distance from Torowoto the track cut the summit of a lofty sand ridge, affording a view of the surrounding country. To the north lay a dreary salt bush plain, diversified by claypans, and flanked on its eastern and western slopes by sandhills of small elevation. As there was no sign of water, and the camel men were fatigued by a long walk through heavy sand, I camped upon the verge of this plain, and experienced considerable difficulty in preventing the horses from wandering during the night back to Torowoto. No water. Weather close and oppressive.
Saturday, 16th February. Mud Plain Camp.
Fortunately we had brought from Torowoto a pair of leather bags filled with water, and all the goat skin bags. The latter, however, would not retain water at all, and arrived at the camp nearly empty. Neither camels nor horses would feed, the former, though closely hobbled, going straight away, and requiring strict watching to keep them near the camp. At the period of Mr Burke's transit this country was completely bogged, the tracks of his party being deeply imbedded in the claypans around. At the date of my arrival not a sign of water was discernible, no birds could be seen save hawks, and the ground was burrowed in every direction by rats, which seemed to exist independent of water. As the cattle were suffering from thirst, I sent Stone back with the horses to Torowoto, and Dr Beckler, Mr Hodgkinson, and Belooch with the camels. They took all the water-bags with them. Shortly after their departure, I started with Smith to look for water in a northerly direction. Mr Becker and Purcell remained at the camp. At 7 pm. a peculiarly brilliant meteor fell towards the N.E.
Sunday, 17th February. Mud Plain Camp.
Dr Beckler, Mr Hodgkinson, Stone, and Belooch returned to camp with the cattle and a supply of water. I was absent throughout the day searching the N.W. boundary of the plain and adjacent ranges for water, and ultimately discovered a small puddle about twenty miles north of the camp, and about two miles west of Mr Burke's track. Weather intensely hot.
Monday, 18th February. Mud Plain Camp.
During the night the camels and horses were very trouble some, requiring watching to prevent them straying in search of water. The water-bags were protected as well as possible from evaporation, by tarpaulins. At 3 pm. I returned to camp with Smith, having travelled at least 140 miles since my departure on the l6th. I found the country in front of the most fearful description. Mr Burke's track runs to the N.N.W., over some high ranges covered with sharp stones, and emerges upon the plains upon which we are camped, at a spot where it changes to an apparently limitless expanse of dried mud. The track is utterly effaced, and the whole country the picture of desolation, not a vestige of herbage growing upon the plains. The horses were watched throughout the night, and the camels tied up. A bucket of water was given to each quadruped from our water-bags.
Tuesday, 19th February.
At 4 am. called all the hands. Saddled and started with the horses at 7 am., the camels following half an hour after. A fierce glare, even at this early hour, rose from the plains, and the sun beat down overhead with an intense heat. Till one o'clock we traversed this weary plain of baked mud, skirting the sandhills upon its western flank, and leaving Mr Burke's track, which ran more to the eastward. Not a sign of animal life was discernible, save the clouds of flies which tormented us throughout the journey. At 1 pm. two prominent headlands reared themselves to the west ; and in a bay between them was sufficient feed to warrant me in camping there, at about one and a half miles distant from the water I had discovered, I had left the horses to go on in advance, and returned to the camels in order to lead them to the spot, previously cautioning those in charge not to let the horses get to the water. Unfortunately, however, the horses rushed into the hole in spite of every opposition, and in a very few minutes rendered it a mass of mud. The camels were tied up during the night to some bushes, on which they greedily fed, but the horses remained near the water. At nightfall a thunderstorm gathered in the western horizon, breaking upon us and passing, unaccompanied by rain, to the southward. For hours afterwards we were buoyed up by the hopes of a rainfall, but, beyond a few drops, none fell near our camp, though it seemed to be raining heavily a short distance to the southward.
Wednesday, 20th February. Rat Point.
This morning slight showers fell, from which we managed to collect three or four quarts of water. At thirty minutes past one I started with Smith in search of water, taking about eight quarts from the bags as a supply, and two camels. Previous to leaving, I inspected the store of water at the camp, and found it to amount to forty-two quarts for eight camels, thirteen horses, and six men. The nearest supply known to us was at Torowoto, thirty-eight miles distant. I placed the water in Mr Hodgkinson's charge, with instructions to issue two quarts daily to each man, and three pints to each horse, and requested Dr Beckler to take a pair of water-bags to the mud hole and scoop up any small quantity he might be able to obtain. I also instructed Stone if I was not back by 10 am. on Friday following to return to Torowoto with the horses, and Dr Beckler, Mr Hodgkinson, and Belooch with the camels, for a supply of water. Dr Beckler succeeded in obtaining four quarts of a very indifferent fluid from the hole. Thunder continued throughout the day but no rain fell. A water hen was shot close to the camp in the afternoon.
Thursday, 2lst February. Rat Point.
The camels remained near the camp all last night. The first annoyance was experienced from the rats, which abound throughout this country.
Friday, 22nd February. Rat Point.
The rats visited the camp in myriads, not only gnawing through every pack bag, but absolutely biting the men when at rest. The horses suffering greatly from' thirst. Stone started with them for Torowoto, and at a few minutes past ten I returned to camp just as Dr' Beckler, Mr Hodgkinson, and Belooch were starting with the camels. During my absence I travelled upwards of a hundred miles, crossing the country northwards in every direction, without finding a drop of water. The camels with me suffered greatly from rapid travelling and thirst, but I thought it best to send them on at once with the others to Torowoto. Stone and the camel party met with water from the late rainfall about ten miles from camp and the horses returned in the evening after drinking as much as they could. Dr Beckler also came back with a pair of water-bags containing a small supply, but Mr Hodgkinson and Belooch went on as no more water could he found near the spot.
Saturday, 23rd February.
Remained in camp throughout the day. At 10 pm. Mr Hodgkinson and Belooch returned with a supply of water, which they had procured from the claypans on the plain, sixteen miles distant.
Sunday, 24th February. Rat Point.
Mr Hodgkinson reporting that a good supply of water might be stored by sinking a hole in the vicinity of the claypans from which he obtained the late supply, I instructed him to proceed thither with Dr Beckler, and sink a hole for that purpose. At the same time I sent six of the camels and Stone with all the horses to spell there, during my absence on a further attempt to explore north-ward. Should the claypans dry up previous to my return, they were to proceed to Torowoto, leaving Mr Becker and Purcell at Rat Point in charge of the stores. At noon I left Eat Point with Smith and Belooch, four camels, and seven days' rations, resolving to penetrate to the first permanent water on the line of route, and if possible to reach Cooper's Creek, which I conjectured to be within a hundred miles. Dr Beckler, Mr Hodgkinson, Stone, and the cattle, remained near the claypans ; the two former sinking a hole and watching the camels, and the latter attending to the horses. In order to preserve the continuation of events at the camp during my absence, the report of my trip will be given on the date of my return.
Monday, 25th February.
Dr Beckler and Mr Hodgkinson finished sinking their waterhole this morning, and collected a considerable supply of water from the claypans adjacent. Neither camels nor horses strayed from the vicinity.
Tuesday, 26th February. Rat Point.
The water in the claypans being exhausted. Dr Beckler, Mr Hodgkinson, and Stone moved with the cattle to Torowoto, reaching that place at 3 pm. The natives were still at the swamp, and very friendly.
Wednesday, 27th February. Rat Point.
Dr Beckler, Mr Hodgkinson, and Stone remained at Torowoto with the cattle ; Mr Becker and Purcell at Rat Point.
Thursday, 28th February. Rat Point.
Dr Beckler conveyed a supply of water to Rat Point, and Mr Hodgkinson and Stone remained with the cattle at Torowoto.
Friday, 1st March. Rat Point.
The party, as before-mentioned, were divided between Torowoto and Rat Point. A drizzling rain fell through the night at Torowoto. The natives became rather troublesome, pilfering little articles.
Saturday, 2nd March Rat Point.
Dr Beckler returned to Torowoto with rations. The party were stationed as before. Mr Hodgkinson killed a snake some three feet in length, very thick in proportion to its length, of a dirty deep brown color, with large livid irregularly marked blotches. The natives represented it as highly poisonous, but did not scruple to devour it with great relish.
Sunday, 3rd March. Rat Point.
No change in the disposition of the party.
Monday, 4th March. Rat Point.
Still no change.
Tuesday, 5th March. Rat Point.
No change. Prepared to return to Rat Point on the following day.
Wednesday, 6th March. Rat Point.
Mr Hodgkinson took a supply of water to Mr Becker and Purcell, from Torowoto.
Thursday, 7th March. Rat Point.
The party stationed at Rat Point and Torowoto, as before.
Friday, 8th March. Rat Point.
Mr Hodgkinson returned to Torowoto with rations, having previously submitted to Mr Becker a plan for following my track, as they were apprehensive, from my lengthened absence, that some accident had occurred to me. The horses strayed from Torowoto, but were recovered some ten miles distant.
Saturday, 9th March. Rat Point.
No change in the disposition of the party.
Sunday, 10th March. Rat Point.
Dr Beckler and Messrs. Hodgkinson and Stone, having filled six pair of water-bags, started for Rat Point with the intention of pushing out in search of me with four of the camels and two men ; but on their arrival at the waterhole, sixteen miles from Rat Point, found Smith and Belooch, whom, on my arrival this morning I had sent there with the camels, and instructions that Stone should return accompanied by Smith to Torowoto, that Dr Beckler should at once push on to Rat Point with water, and that he should be followed on the following day by Mr Hodgkinson and Belooch with the camels. The events occurring during my absence northward are as follow :-On February 24th, the day I started, I went about twelve miles nearly due north, searching for water in every likely spot, and camping upon a dry sandy creek. From thence I proceeded twenty miles farther on the same course, crossing large dry gum creeks running from all directions, and finally camped on one of them. The third day, while still seeking water, I saw Mr Burke's track for the first time since leaving Rat Point, and camped that evening upon some sandhills to east of Karriapundi Swamp, whence I could not obtain water, in consequence of the boggy nature of the ground, and the presence of a large body of natives. The next morning I struck for the N.E., over a sandy undulating country, and at 2 pm. reached a large watercourse coming from the eastward but containing no water. Upon the fifth morning, at dawn, I noticed a fire from a native camp, about half a mile from my own, and passed the day in searching for water, not once seeing Mr Burke's track, which I then conjectured must be upon the north-western side of the swamp. On the sixth morning I found the camels greatly exhausted from fatigue and want of water, they having had but twelve quarts each since leaving Rat Point. I returned, therefore, to where I had seen the water in the swamp, and camped, still unable to get a supply. The following (seventh day) I skirted the swamp, and at noon succeeded in reaching a place where the water was accessible. On tasting it, it was found to be excessively brackish, or rather like lime water, since when thrown on the heated claypans it caused a hissing sound. The camels drank greedily without any ill effects, but the men and myself suffered from it very considerably. On the eighth morning I returned to the place where I had last seen Mr Burke's track, and found that he had diverged from his course of N. by W. to N.E. Our rations were this day all finished, with the exception of three pounds of oatmeal and a little tea, I was determined, however, to push on to the next permanent water, in order to be enabled to bring on the party. I gave orders that each man should have three spoonfuls of oatmeal per diem. Camped thirty-four miles from the lime water in Karriapundi Swamp, on a, sandhill. On the ninth day I made a waterhole about five miles N E. of my last camp, and saw two bullocks there. Passed on, and twenty-seven miles further, still crossing undulating sandy country, reached a fine creek (Poria), and camped six miles on its north side. On the tenth morning I made a camp of Mr Burke's, marked 52, and situated upon a dry arm of Bulloo Creek. Crossed during the day, twenty-five miles from Poria Creek, another fine creek (Koorliatto), apparently dry. Saw no water or natives throughout the day, though signal-fires rose in every direction, at brief intervals. On the eleventh day I reached Bulloo, and, after remaining a few minutes, returned to Rat Point, arriving there on the fifteenth day. We were fortunate enough to kill a turkey and three pigeons during our return, the former of which enabled us to get along tolerably well, but the pigeons were stolen by the rats in the night.
Monday, 11th March.Rat Point.
The horses and camels strayed during the night from the water-hole dug upon the plains to Torowoto, and it was twelve o'clock before the latter reached Rat Point, as they were not overtaken till they had regained the swamp. The horses were left in charge of Stone and Smith at Torowoto, with orders to start thence on Wednesday. The health of the men gave me much anxiety. Smith, Belooch, and myself suffered from diarrhoea. Mr Becker and Stone manifested scorbutic symptoms, and Purcell had swollen legs and numerous sores. Trusting that a change from the inaction of Rat Point would benefit them, I gave orders to start on the following morning.
Tuesday, 12th March.
Upon uncovering our stores, which we had buried, in order to preserve them as much as possible from the rats, I was gratified to find that less damage had been caused than I had had reason to expect. I thought proper to despatch Dr Beckler, Mr Becker, Mr Hodgkinson, Purcell, and Belooch, with the camels in advance, so that the water they carried might enable the horses to reach the water-hole I had discovered between Karriapundi and Poria Creek, a distance of 102 miles from Torowoto. After travelling twelve miles, the camels had to stop, from the bottom of one of the pack bags falling out. Mr Becker and myself remained at Rat Point.
Wednesday, 13th March.
I had given orders to Dr Beckler not to tie up the camels at night, in order that they might have every opportunity to feed Unfortunately the majority of them took advantage of this liberty to stray back to Torowoto, and Dr Beckler and Belooch Had to return there, a distance of fifty-two miles, for their recovery. Mr Hodgkinson and Purcell remained with the saddles, stores, and water, amounting to twenty buckets. Dr Beckler, in returning to Torowoto, took three pairs of water-bags with him, and previously to his starting a couple of buckets were given to the camel he rode. Stone and Smith came into Hat Point with the horses, as instructed, and camped there with Mr Becker and myself. The weather was so fearfully hot that the horses appeared knocked up by their journey from Torowoto here.
Thursday 14th March. Mud Plains.
I started early in the morning with the horses, and on reaching the camel camp, at twelve miles' distance, gave each horse a bucket of water, and took four buckets for use. Leaving instructions for the camels to push on as soon as they should arrive from Torowoto, I hastened onwards with Mr Becker, Stone, Smith, and the horses, reaching the water -hole north of the Karriapundi Swamp on the 16th inst., after experiencing great difficulty, both men and horses being knocked up ; our supply of four buckets of water from the camel camp having almost all leaked away.
Friday, 15th March. Mud Plains.
Mr Hodgkinson and Purcell remained at the camel camp with the stores. Dr Beckler and Belooch were engaged in getting the camels back from Torowoto.
Saturday, 16th March. Mud. Plains.
Dr Beckler and Belooch returned from Torowoto with the camels, and rejoined Mr Hodgkinson and Purcell at the camp.
Sunday, 17th March.
The camel camp started after me and reached a spot seventeen miles in advance of their last camp. Fortunately for them a shower fell, which filled the claypans near their camp, and enabled the camels to drink to their content. Purcell was reported to me as suffering greatly from pains in his legs, and rode upon one of the camels throughout the day. Two of the camels, Gobin and Raugee, had very bad hump sores, from the ill fitting saddles supplied them. The horses reached Poria Creek with the party accompanying me, and one horse died from want of water and fatigue, though every caution was used in supplying the weaker ones with a drink.
Monday, 18th March. Karriapundi Plains
The camels, skirting the N.W. bank of Karriapundi Swamp. camped about eight miles to the north of it. Gobin, one of the camels, became very footsore, and his load was distributed among the other camels. Coppin, or Janglee, one of the Cremorne camels, was also slightly affected in the same manner ; and the whole of the camels were considerably fatigued by the heavy work they had lately performed. Shadow, the smallest of the camels, was by far the best in condition and carried her heavy load with apparent ease. Another horse died at Poria to-day from the effects of his push across the waterless plain south of it.
Tuesday, 19th March. Mud Plains, at 3 pm.
Still among the same uninteresting salt bush plains. The camels reached the waterhole where the horses had camped on the 16th inst. Mr Hodgkinson and Belooch contrived to preserve sufficient water by digging a hole and filtering the mud through the large marsh-mallow seeds growing near the spot. Smith, whom I sent this morning from Poria Creek with a supply of water, joined the camel party in the afternoon, but found them tolerably well supplied from the rain that had fallen south of Karriapundi.
Wednesday, 20th March. Poria Creek.
The camel party reached Poria Creek this day, and I found Purcell much worse than when I last saw him at Rat Point. Poria is a fine creek, abounding in fish, and when very full throwing its surplus waters towards Karriapundi. Our camp was situated at its south termination, its course being nearly north and south. The banks were fringed with stunted bastard box, and we derived much benefit during our stay there from the waterfowl shot.
Thursday, 21st March, until Thursday, 26th March. Poria Creek.
During the period included between the above dates I spelled the party at the creek, hoping that the men would in some degree regain their health. I regret to state, however, that I had little reason to congratulate myself upon the results. Mr Becker and Purcell became much worse, and utterly unable to walk about, and Smith and Stone did not at all improve, though energetically discharging their respective duties. As I Had found no water in the crossing at the next creek (Koorliatto), I sent Dr Beckler, Smith, and Belooch thither with a supply, directing them to conceal it as well as possible from the natives.
Friday, 29th March. Poria Creek.
The rats committed great ravages during our stay at this creek, and were far bolder than the majority of domesticated animals in their attacks. Owing to the necessity of examining every bag it was half-past twelve before the camels started with Dr Beckler, Mr Becker, and Purcell, who had to be carried upon camels. Mr Hodgkinson and Belooch, Smith, Stone, and myself remained at the creek with the horses. The camel party camped at 4 pm. on the site of Mr Burke's 51st camp. A heavy fall of rain took place during the night.
Saturday, 30th March. Koorliatto Creek.
At 9 am. the camels started, the rain still falling, but ceasing in an hour's time. At 3 pm. they reached Koorliatto Creek, and at 8 pm. the horses, which travelled from Poria, joined them. Stone, who had received a wetting on the night of the 29th, became much worse, and I had a tent put up for Mr Becker and Purcell, who were unable to proceed farther. We found the creek running, though dry a few days before. Its course trended from E. to N.W. for seven or eight miles, skirting the S.W. base of the Bulloo Range, and then turning sharp to the W. direct for Poria Creek, of which I conjecture it to be a main feeder. There was much more timber on this creek than on Poria, and splendid feed for the cattle on the sandhills adjacent.
Sunday, 31st March. Koorliatto Creek.
Morning broke piercingly cold, with a cloudy sky and drizzling rain. About 10 am. the rain cleared off, but I did not think it prudent to move with so many sick.
Monday, 1st April. Koorliatto Creek.
Spelled, as rain fell at intervals throughout the day. No improvement in the health of the men.
Tuesday, 2nd April. Koorliatto Creek.
Though the weather cleared up, I was compelled to remain in camp. Stone being affected with severe rheumatic pains. In the morning a native made his appearance, and gave us the names of the surrounding localities. He wore no covering, save a tassel of native grass round his loins, and pointed out Bulloo as lying much more to the west than our course lay. After taking a minute survey of the camp he left.
Wednesday, 3rd April. Koorliatto Creek.
Seeing plainly that any attempt to move Mr Becker and Purcell would retard their prospect of ultimate recovery, and finding no cause for apprehension from the natives, I resolved to push forward to Bulloo, which I conjectured from our northern position would be Cooper's Creek. My anxiety to move arose from the fact that I feared Mr Burke's stores must require replenishment, and that any party left at Cooper's Creek would be anxiously expecting our arrival. On these considerations I gave orders to prepare for a start on the following day.
Thursday, 4th April. Bulloo, or Wright's Creek.
At 9 am. the camels started, under charge of Mr Hodgkinson and Belooch, Gobin's saddle being left behind, as her back was getting very sore, and her lameness incapacitated her from carrying any load. Considerable difficulty was experienced in crossing the creek, which had been slightly escarped from the steepness of the banks, but eventually the camels with their loads were got over without injury. The track led over the narrow belt of sandhills bordering the north bank of the creek, and then debouching upon an extensive plain, intersected with water-courses, and crowded with rat-holes, pursued a course some few degrees to the E. of N. In places Mr Burke's track was hardly perceptible, but no difficulty was found in regaining it, as it was flanked on the west side by the Bulloo Range, and on the east side by a line of creek-timber running with prominent headlands towards it at distances varying from six to eight miles. Twelve miles from Koorliatto we passed one of these points where Mr Burke had pitched his 52nd camp. We found no water there. Eight miles farther we sighted Bulloo, and established the camp at the point where we first struck it. The horses which started after the camels overtook the latter, and reached camp about half an hour before them. We saw no natives throughout, the day save two who accompanied us a few miles from Koorliatto, hut signal fires broke out in all directions. The weather continued fearfully hot.
Friday, 5th April, to Wednesday, 17th April. Bulloo.
Throughout the period included in the above- mentioned dates Mr Hodgkinson, Stone, Smith, and Belooch, remained with me at Bulloo, spelling the camels and occasionally visiting Koorliatto, to convey supplies to the party there. Dr Beckler's patients were gradually sinking, and Stone became much worse. As the natives were very numerous, and apparently collecting from the surrounding districts, I cut logs for a rough stockade, which was subsequently erected. Though there was no feed near the camp, at four or five miles' distance grass and salsolaceous plants were abundant, so that the cattle rapidly improved. Prom the absence of any indication that Mr Burke had stopped at this creek, I felt convinced that Cooper's Creek lay still farther in advance, and made two advances, N.E. and N.W., for the purpose of tracing the course of the track. I found Bulloo watercourse to consist of a large sheet of water, extending some five miles to the north of our camp, with a breadth of 100 to 200 yards and a depth in some parts of sixteen or twenty feet. Fish of a considerable size were caught by the party ; and at the northern termination of the waterhole, where the creek branched with insignificant channels, numbers of ingeniously-constructed fishing dams showed that the natives derived a considerable sustenance from its waters. At the northern commencement of the small channels, which apparently connect the larger water basins, but from their intricate courses are difficult to follow, the plains became extremely stony, and the track turning rapidly to the west, completely obliterated. On the two occasions to which I have referred as advancing northerly I was compelled to turn back from the hostility of the natives, who, upon my camping, collected in large numbers, making fires all round me, and trying to entice Smith, who accompanied me, by means of .their women. Bands often visited the camp, signifying the ground to be theirs, and ordering us to move away. All these demonstrations, in the present state of my party, gave me much anxiety, and I felt anxious to obtain additional stores for recruiting the sick and effectually supplying the advance party. I instructed Mr Hodgkinson, therefore, to start for Menindie on the 18th instant, with Belooch and seven of the camels, to escort Mr Becker and Purcell to that township, and having engaged two men in their places, to return as quickly as possible with stores. By these means I should do away with the inconvenience of two camps, afford two of the sick what I considered a chance of ultimate recovery, and only, by Dr Beckler's return to the Bulloo camp, lose one available hand. Moving backwards or forwards with the whole depot was impossible with so many sick, and I thought myself still sufficiently strong to hold an entrenched position against any attack made by the natives.
Thursday, 18th April. Bulloo.
This morning I sent Mr Hodgkinson on his journey to Menindie, directing him to take charge of Mr Becker and Purcell, and to request Dr Beckler to rejoin me. I had constructed a cudjowar, or camel palanquin, for the carriage of the two sick men, and I trusted that the prospect of a return to the settled districts would lend them energy for the journey. The natives visited the camp during the day, and pertinaciously hung round the stores. They were accompanied by a boy, some eight years of age, singularly impudent in his behaviour. Stone rapidly got worse, being seized frequently with severe rheumatic pains. Mr Hodgkinson, as afterwards reported, reached Koorliatto.
Friday, 19th April. Bulloo.
On this day Mr Hodgkinson returned from Koorliatto, bringing with him a note from Dr Beckler, in which that officer so strongly protested against the removal of Mr Becker and Purcell to Menindie as to leave me no alternative but that of countermanding my instructions on that point. I therefore directed Mr Hodgkinson to return to Koorliatto and bring Mr Becker and Purcell to Bulloo, together with the whole of the camels, as I resolved not to send to Menindie any of the party until I could form some more definite opinion regarding the prospects of the recovery of the sick. Stone being much worse, I instructed Dr Beckler to return without any delay, that he might afford his medical assistance. No natives came near the camp throughout the day, but the necessity of watching throughout the night fell very severely on the few in health.
Saturday, 20th April. Bulloo.
Mr Hodgkinson left for Koorliatto, reaching there at 11 am., but Dr Beckler did not start for Bulloo, being unable to leave Mr Becker and Purcell with safety.
Sunday, 2lst April. Bulloo.
Throughout last night signal fires were burning around the camp here, and the natives imitated the howl of the native dog, apparently for the purpose of ascertaining our vigilance. Fifty-one rats were killed by means of a trap which I had made ; but this slaughter, though greatly exceeding the subsequent nightly average, did not seem to diminish either their boldness or their numbers. Dr Beckler arrived at Bulloo at 5 pm., and Mr Becker and Purcell were not reported as having suffered from their removal. Two tents were at once pitched for their accommodation. Mr Hodgkinson remained at Koorliatto, as only two of the camels were found when Dr Beckler and Belooch started.
Monday, 22nd April. Bulloo.
Between 9 and 10 am. this morning, eight natives came to the camp, armed, and upon being told to move off, two went up, and the other six down the creek, joining respectively two bands who have crossed the plains west of the camp, and concealed themselves in the creek timber. In a few minutes, a large body of them appeared on the bank of the creek, distant sixty yards from our stores, thronging through the scrub, and occasionally showing in the open, in parties of seven and eight. A blackfellow, who went by the appellation of "Shirt," from having had that garment presented to him by us, was particularly active, coming boldly up to the stores, and walking unconcernedly around them. He then picked up about forty rats, that were lying dead around, and, dropping a portion of them, motioned for me to pick them up and carry them for him, merely, I think, to get my head in an unguarded position. Several other blacks were meanwhile drawing nearer to us, violently gesticulating, making signs that they were hungry, and that we were camped upon their ground. One tall, strapping lubra accompanied them, and was exceedingly active, bearing a boomerang with considerable grace, and inciting her companions to attack us. At this time I had but two able men with me. Dr Beckler and. Smith, Belooch having started for Koorliatto to assist Mr Hodgkinson in finding the camels and bringing them in. Our cooking place was close to the creek, for the benefit of shade and water , and the utensils were round the fire, together with several clothes which had been washed by the party. Dr Beckler reporting to me that he saw natives creeping on their hands and knees near the fire, I took Smith down with me to clear them away. It was indeed high time-several of them were fingering their boomerangs as if impatient for a shy ; and lifting up the lappels of Purcell's tent, commenced unpacking the medicine basket, while a third, with an armfull of boomerangs, was throwing them carelessly upon the ground near his brother warriors. However, they were not quite resolved upon hostilities, as when Smith and I pointed our pieces at them they quietly moved off before us, and retired without any further manifestations of hostility. Throughout this scene Stone, though dying, behaved with great intrepidity, raising himself upon his bed and aiming his revolver at the natives when they approached him. About 2 pm., just as the blacks moved off, I was called by Stone, who, grasping me by the hand, said, "I am going." He then spoke a few words, and repeatedly asked that cold water should be thrown over him, as he could not breathe. Within ten minutes from the time he first called me, he turned upon his face and died. At 7 pm. he was buried near the camp, by Dr Beckler and Smith. I have omitted to state that the blacks took away every portable article from the fire, throwing away the tea and salt, and taking the bags. Belooch reached Koorliatto early this morning, and Mr Hodgkinson started with him towards Bulloo, but were compelled to camp eight miles from Koorliatto, owing to the late time at which they recovered the camels.
Tuesday, 23rd April. Bullo.
Mr Hodgkinson and Belooch reached Bulloo with the camels at 8 am. this morning, and immediately they arrived we unpacked all the stores, and passed the day in mending rat-holes, and repacking them in the form of a stockade ; two sides being formed by as many logs sufficiently straight as we could procure at a reasonable distance. These logs were about four feet in height above the ground, allowing us to fire easily over them. The other two sides were not so high, but still a tolerable protection. Inside the stockade, every available weapon was placed so as to be handy for immediate use, and some of us always slept within it. At the same time our fire was brought within ten yards of it, as we had no more cooking apparatus to spare. Our watch commenced at 8 pm., and terminated at 6 am.
Wednesday, 24th April. Bulloo.
The first announcement this morning was that Purcell had died in the doctor's presence during the night. For some days past lie had been so weak. as to faint after drinking a little water, and we bad long been expecting his decease. I sent Belooch and Smith to look after the horses which fed between Bulloo and a tributary creek. About an hour after they started the natives made their appearance, coming in twos and threes through the thick scrub on the creek, until about a score had collected. They were armed with new boomerangs, spears, and waddies, and were accompanied by the boy previously mentioned, whose conduct was even more impudent than before. At first the boy advanced with two powerful fellows, hesitatingly towards the stockade, while in their rear could be seen a dozen others attentively watching their proceedings. Mr Hodgkinson having brought in the things from the fire, I advanced with him towards the natives, motioning them to be off. Disregarding my attempts to clear them off, I caught hold of the boy, and, turning him round, gave him plainly to understand that he would not he allowed to remain near the camp. I thought proper to do this as he was evidently only brought to insult us, and at length he retired with the others to a short distance. We then entered the stockade and watched the proceedings of the natives, who were joined about this time by another party from the S.W. The whole body then clustered around Stone's grave and became most insulting in their demeanor. Taking up a dead rat, one of them made a harangue upon it, and concluded by flinging it contemptuously at us. Finding we did not notice this, they threw the earth from Stone's grave in the air, and after carrying logs as if mocking the erection of the stockade, made signs that we should all meet the same fate as those dead. I was very unwilling to fire at them, and allowed them to throw several sticks at us rather than commence actual hostilities. By noon they had concluded their demonstrations, and moved quietly off to a camp which they had established to the north of us. Smith and Belooch returned at nightfall, having been unable to find the horses. Shortly afterwards Dr Beckler and Mr Hodgkinson commenced digging Purcell's grave.
Thursday, 25th April. Bulloo.
At daylight I directed Mr, Hodgkinson to complete Purcell's grave, and, with Dr Beckler's assistance, he was buried by 8 am. Immediately after breakfast I started with Smith for the horses, but had not proceeded two miles before signal fires rose all around me, and I returned to the camp, so that the natives should not derive any advantage from my absence. I should have premised that we had heard a horse-bell in the morning on the opposite side of Bulloo Creek, and that Mr Hodgkinson, who swam over for the purpose, ascertained that six of the horses were feeding upon the bank. I now resolved upon crossing them if possible, and Dr Beckler swam with Mr Hodgkinson across the creek at mid-day, for the purpose of driving them into the water. This desirable object was accomplished, after a little delay in getting them to take the water. The natives did not molest us throughout the day, and in the afternoon I disposed of the few clothes belonging to the men lately deceased, as some of us were sadly in want of a fresh supply.
Friday, 26th April. Bulloo.
The day passed very quietly, no natives appearing.
Saturday, 27th April. Bulloo.
This morning, fortunately, no one went after the cattle, as the horses were quietly feeding within sight, and the camels came home with great regularity at sunset, camping close to the stockade. The stores were all unpacked, and, after the rat-holes had been mended, replaced in their former position. About eleven o'clock the cry of "Natives!" started us to our feet, and every article near the fire was carried into the stockade with the utmost celerity. On looking out a body of natives, numbering between forty and fifty, could be seen advancing towards us from the west, not seeking any cover, but marching in good order straight across the open plain. On this occasion I saw plainly that they meant mischief, as they were all painted, and bore more spears than we had seen on any former occasion. Most of them were painted with a deep red band, from the neck down the centre of the chest, crossed by similar bands at right angles to it. When within a couple of hundred yards, they quickened their pace into a run, exciting each other with war cries, and placing their arms in position. "Shirt," accompanied by two other leaders, was in the van, and despite all my motions for them to stop, had approached within a few yards of us before I gave the order to fire. A few discharges repulsed, them, but as they collected again some 600 yards off, I fired a rifle at them and effectually dispersed them. As soon as they disappeared, we visited Mr Becker in his tent, and found that he was quite unconscious of any unusual occurrence. I now resolved to quit Bulloo immediately, as such a small party was quite unfit to maintain a long contest against the large tribes around, and any men would be picked off while necessarily absent in search of the camels. I instructed Mr Hodgkinson and Smith to get up the camels without delay, and all save Coppin and Mutwala, which could not he found, were brought in, and tied around the stockade.
Sunday, 28th April. Bulloo.
At 6 am. Dr Beckler and Belooch started after the two missing camels, and succeeded in getting them. The day was passed in preparing for a start on the following morning-re-packing the loads, and burning all articles of a cumbrous and useless description. The cattle were kept near the camp all day, and appeared inclined to remain near us.
Monday, 29th April. Bulloo.
The horses were very troublesome during the night, perpetually trying to steal away, and, though closely hobbled, more than once attempting to swim the broad creek. About 3 am. a bell was heard from the south, and a number of dark objects, like cattle, could be dimly seen through the darkness. When daylight broke these objects were recognised as forming part of the mob of horses taken on by Mr Burke, and shortly afterwards Mr Brahe came up, and reported that he had just arrived from Cooper's Creek, where Mr Burke had left him on the 16th of December in charge of a depot consisting of Patten, McDonough, Botan, six camels, and twelve horses. Mr Brahe had received instructions to remain at Cooper's Creek for three or four months but had extended that period to eighteen weeks, and only left when his rations ran short. Previous to leaving he had made a cache of provisions, sufficient to enable Mr Burke and party if competent to retrace their steps, to reach the Darling. Mr Brahe had not followed Mr Burke's track to Bulloo, but had pursued a direct course, and reached the 52nd camp of Mr Burke, eight miles south of my depot, in about eighty miles. His horses had been 100 hours without water, but travelled with much less difficulty than could have been hoped for. On proceeding to Mr Brahe's camp I found Patten suffering from scurvy to an alarming extent, McDonough almost unable to work, and Botan complaining. Mr Brahe placed himself under my orders, and I united the two camps in the course of the morning. Of the camels brought down by Mr Brahe I found three-Beer, Rowa, and Mustana, suffering severely from scab. The others were in good condition.
Monday, 29th April.
At a quarter-past five this afternoon Mr Becker died.
Tuesday, 30th April. Bulloo.
The night passed quietly, no signs of natives being near having occurred. Early this morning Mr Becker was buried, the stockade pulled down, and the logs used to form, as far as possible, a protection to the dead. Mr Becker's clothes, bedding, tent, &c., being quite unfit for use, were burned, and his other effects placed in a pack for conveyance to Melbourne.
Wednesday, 1st May. Bulloo.
Saddling commenced at 6 am., and half-past 10 am. we left Bulloo on our return to Menindie. Dr Beckler, Mr Hodgkinson, Mr Brahe, Botan, and myself were the only healthy members of the party ; and I did not see the utility of pushing on the depot to Cooper's Creek for the purpose of remaining there the few weeks our stores would last. Our cavalcade made quite an imposing appearance with its twenty-two horses and fifteen camels, and the spirits of the whole party were animated by the prospect of regaining the settled districts. Several stoppages took place during the day, from the necessity of altering the seat of our invalids or re-adjusting loads ; and to show that our departure was not unnoticed by the natives, fires sprang up at every mile of our progress until we reached Koorliatto, at a tolerably early hour in the afternoon. Patten was greatly fatigued by his ride.
Thursday, 2nd May. Koorliatto.
Spelled at Koorliatto. Got up a tent for Patten.
Friday, 3rd May. Koorliatto.
As I was anxious to ascertain before finally leaving the country whether Mr Burke had visited the old depot at Cooper's Creek between the present date and that on which he left on his advance northward, or whether the stores cached there had been disturbed by the natives, I started with Mr Brahe and three horses for Cooper's Creek, and reached the head waters of that creek on Sunday, the 5th, in about seventy miles, steering about W.N.W. I did not -find any water throughout that distance, but crossed several fine large gum creeks, and saw an immense number of native dogs. The remainder of the party stayed at Koorliatto.
Saturday, 4th May. Koorliatto.
The party at Koorliatto got up two other tents for the accommodation of the invalids, and formed a temporary stockade of camel saddles, etc. A blackfellow visited them during the day.
Sunday, 5th May. Koorliatto.
Depot spelled at Koorliatto.
Monday, 6th May. Koorliatto.
Depot spelled at Koorliatto. McDonough and Smith became much worse, and, with Belooch, were unfit for any duty whatever.
Tuesday, 7th May. Koorliatto.
The depot spelled at Koorliatto.
Wednesday, 8th May. Koorliatto.
This morning I reached the Cooper's Creek depot and found no sign of Mr Burke having visited the creek, or the natives having disturbed the stores. I therefore retraced my steps to the depot which remained at Koorliatto.
Thursday, 9th May. Koorliatto.
The depot still spelling here. Simla, one of Mr Burke's camels, strayed during the day, and could not be found.
Friday, 10th May. Koorliatto.
The natives appeared again within sight of the depot, and one walked through the camp. Mr Brahe and myself still en route for Koorliatto.
Saturday, 11th May. Koorliatto.
The depot still spelling at Koorliatto. Mr Brahe and myself en route for the depot.
Sunday 12th May. Koorliatto.
Mr Hodgkinson and Botan engaged in searching for Simla, and found that he had lain on the previous night at a place called the Doctor's Camp, a little higher up the creek. At 6 pm., a violent thunderstorm broke over the camp, during which the absent camel voluntarily rejoined the mob. Rain continued throughout the night.
Monday, 13th May. Koorliatto.
I returned to the depot at 8 am. this morning, and found the country between it and Cooper's Creek to be in general well grassed, but destitute of any permanent water supply, though, from the presence throughout my course of numerous wild dogs, pigeons, &c., there must be water accessible. The country bordering Cooper's Creek is the most miserable I have ever seen, and I am at a loss to account for the favorable impression it has made upon the minds of previous explorers. The creek itself is bordered by stony rises entirely destitute of herbage, and mud plains so fissured as to render travelling over them when dry extremely dangerous, and so liable to inundation that it would be unsafe to camp upon them for any length of time. The natives who camped in great numbers while Mr Brahe's depot was there, had disappeared at the period of my visit, and but four were seen by Mr Brahe and myself. Our horses had no water from Friday evening until last evening, when the same thunderstorm that visited the Koorliatto depot passed over us.
Tuesday, 14th May. Koorliatto.
The depot prepared for a start and took down the tents, &c.
Wednesday, 15th May. Koorliatto.
Packed stores, &c., the camels did not return to camp at night, as was their usual custom, the females, accompanied by Simla and Bell Sing, staying out.
Thursday, 16th May, to Sunday, 19th May. Koorliatto.
Looking for the lost camels, which were eventually recovered on Sunday, the 19th, by Mr, Brahe and Belooch, with the exception of Bell Sing, which camel they were unable to find.
Monday, 20th May. Koorliatto.
Mr Brahe and Smith engaged in looking for Bell Sing, but were unable to find him either on this or Poria Creek, or in the country lying between. At night they returned, and all the camels were tied up ready for starting next morning.
Tuesday, 21st May. Koorliatto.
Commenced loading at 6, but did not finish till 1 pm., the horses being a considerable distance from the camp, and the sick requiring great care in their removal. When about to place Patten on a camel, he stated that he should not feel safe upon the contrivance rigged for his conveyance ; I therefore gave orders to unpack, and re-camped immediately, pitching a tent for his convenience. At nightfall only eight of our fifteen camels returned to the camp.
Wednesday, 22nd May. Koorliatto.
During the night the cries of the camels were heard in the direction of Mr Burke's camp on this creek, and at daylight they were discovered to have passed the night there. Getting them up at twenty minutes past twelve we effected another start, but had not travelled above half-a-mile before we were compelled to recamp, McDonough, who rode on horseback, fainting from weakness. Finding the camels greatly encumbered by the carriage of the sick, I placed 3 cwt. of their loading upon the horses, which were but lightly burdened.
Thursday, 23rd May. Koorliatto.
Having made some change in the disposition of the carriage of the sick, I started at a quarter past eleven, and reached a sandhill twelve miles from Koorliatto, where I camped. During the day the horses were watered at a claypan filled by the recent rains. The weather, which was very cold and windy, prevented the camels from feeling any inclination to drink. A continual watch was set upon them while feeding.
Friday. 24th May. Poria Creek.
Saddled at dawn. The morning was bitterly cold and very dark. Got away at a quarter past ten, and after travelling three miles passed near a large body of natives, who slunk away on observing us. Our rate of progress with the camels was very slow. Patten frequently entreating me to stop, as the motion pained him. At 4 pm. Poria Creek was sighted, and half a hour subsequently we camped within a mile of Mr Burke's 50th camp, keeping watch all night.
Saturday, 25th May, to 1st June. Poria Creek.
During the period thus included, the depot remained at Poria Creek, partly in the hope of recruiting the weak, and partly to prepare for the country between here and Torowoto, as I could not hope for water between these points, unless rain fell. For a few days I had some hope of a serviceable fall of rain, as heavy clouds passed to the southward, and a few drops occasionally fell near the camp. The camels all became affected with the scab, and one of them died from its effects. I made several searches after Bell Sing without avail, and on the 28th Mr Brahe and Botan started with the camels fit for service to take on water two days' journey towards Torowoto, and on the 31st they returned, Mr Brahe reporting that he had deposited the water six miles north of Karriapundi Swamp, which appeared to be quite dry. While searching for Bell Sing, I several times met a small body of natives, camped down the creek, and presented them with a tomahawk in return for some fish which they gave me. Patten appeared slightly improved by his stay at Poria, and McDonough and Belooch were decidedly better. Weather exceedingly cold.
Sunday, 2nd June. Karriapundi Plain.
At 4 am. all hands were called, and at nine o'clock we started for our next water dependence, Torowoto, a hundred and eighteen miles distant. Smith and McDonough, who were much better, rode on horseback. Botan conducted the camels, and Dr Beckler and Mr Hodgkinson escorted Patten and Belooch, who were carried by Jambel. After great and frequent delays, caused by the necessity of adjusting pillows, &c., for fatten, the camp was pitched fifteen miles from Poria Creek. The camels were watched while feeding till 9 pm., and then tied up.
Monday, 3rd June. Karriapundi.
At 2 am. the camels were fed and watched, and at 8 a start effected. Patten, who fancied he could ride Simla with greater ease, being placed upon that animal, I started with the horses some time after the camels, overtaking them at 1 pm. I learned from Dr Beckler that Patten had been incessantly moaning since leaving the camp, and begging that we might stop. This request, with no prospect of water before reaching Torowoto, except that we had sent on, was not to be listened to however much to be regretted ; and after attempting to console the poor fellow as far as possible, I gave orders to Dr ; Beckler not to allow any delays under any circumstances whatever. Soon after Patten became delirious insisting that we had brought him on to kill him, and begging to be allowed to die where he then was. Under these painful circumstances, the party proceeded till a quarter to six, when I reached the spot where Mr Brahe had deposited the water. I was alarmed to find that a great portion of the water had leaked out and issued one bucket to each horse and camel. We had very little rest throughout the night, as the horses kept hanging about the water, and at twenty minutes to twelve I ordered the camels to be loosed, in order to give them every chance of feeding. Heavy rain clouds hung over us for many hours, and a few drops disappointed our hopes of a greater fall.
Tuesday 4th June. Karriapundi.
At a quarter to eight started, and, travelling without stoppage till sunset, reached a spot twelve miles north of Rat Point, finding there to our great surprise a fine pool of water. Half a. mile previously to reaching it, Burra, one of the sick camels, fell down, and, evidently being unable to travel, was left behind. Patten travelled in nearly an insensible condition all day. The weather was bitterly cold, and a, tent was pitched at night immediately we arrived at camp for his accommodation. The feed was very luxuriant, and the camels were allowed to remain loose all night.
Wednesday, 5th June. Rat Point.
The unexpected meeting with water induced me to delay a little this morning for the purpose of giving, all those desirous of doing so the opportunity, of a good wash, and it was twenty minutes to eleven before a start was effected. While saddling, an unusual number of native dogs were noticed hunting round the water, and regarding the camels with great curiosity. My intention on leaving camp was to camp at Rat Point, as I confidently expected to find water in the hole I had previously discovered when leaving Torowoto On arriving at the spot, however, so circumscribed was the area covered by the late rainfall, I found no traces of water, and camped five miles nearer Torowoto. Patten was all day insensible, and unconscious of any change in his position.
Thursday, 6th June. Mud Plains.
At 4 am. it was found that Patten had died during the night, and Mr Brahe and myself dug a grave for him by firelight. As soon as his funeral could be performed, the party started for the hole dug by Dr Beckler and Mr Hodgkinson during their stay at Rat Point, and reached it at one o'clock, finding abundance of water in the vicinity.
Friday, 7th June. Torowoto.
A great improvement was discernible in the health of the men. Smith, Belooch and McDonough, the former especially, were able to work a little, and Botan was the only man in very bad health. At an hour before sunset the horses reached Torowoto, but not a drop of water could be found in any part of the swamp. This was a great disappointment, as I had certainly calculated on finding a supply and was unwilling to send the camels backward and forward as water carriers. There was a strong probability of rain from the appearance of the sky, and during the evening and night sufficient fell to afford us a tolerably good stock of water.
Saturday, 8th June. Torowoto.
Spelled at Torowoto. Put up two tents for protection against the rain, which fell intermittently throughout the day.
Sunday, 9th June. Torowoto.
Spelled at Torowoto. Packed up for a start. Intermittent showers throughout the day.
Monday, 10th June. Paldromatta Creek.
Started at twenty-five minutes past 9 am. Camped at Paldromatta at a quarter to 8 pm. No water in the Creek, but passed a little on the road.
Tuesday, 11th June. Wannaminta.
Started at fifteen minutes past 8 am. ; travelled sixteen miles, and camped at a claypan near the creek which was erroneously named Yeltawinge in the first part of the diary.
Wednesday 12th June. Wannaminta.
Started at 2 pm. with the camels, as they strayed during the night. Met some who had accompanied Mr Burke to Torowoto, and accepted their services as guides to a shallow rocky waterhole, eight miles from our last camp.
Thursday, 13th June. Tirltawinge.
Started at a quarter to ten, and reached water in Tirltawinge Creek, formerly marked on the diary as Wannaminta, at 4 pm. Tracks of kangaroo abundant, whence the name of the creek, Tirlta, signifying kangaroo. Not expecting water at the next creek (Nuntherunge), I had a couple of bags filled for a supply. The natives remained near us, and were very solicitous to assist us.
Friday, 14th June. Nuntherunge.
On leaving Tirltawinge I made several presents to our black friends, and took one of them, a youth of some fifteen years of age, on with the party. We reached Nuntherunge at an early hour in the afternoon, and found the bed of the creek quite dry, but by sinking a couple of feet obtained sufficient water for camels, horses, and bathing purposes. Splendid feed on the creek.
Saturday, 15th June, to Friday, 21st June. Nuntherunge.
After camping at Nantabulla or Hobson's Basin, and Wotwinge - two gorges amply supplied with water, in the Motanie Ranges - I proceeded to Badurga ; and finding no water there, and only sufficient for the camels at Bilpa, pushed on with the horses to Coorkerega, from whence, after remaining two days, I reached the Darling on the 18th instant. The camels arrived on the following day, experiencing heavy rain-storms at Bilpa and between Coorkerega and the river. I established the depot camp in its former situation at the junction of Pamamoroo Creek with the Darling. I had the honor, on the Friday following, to despatch Mr Brahe with a summary of this diary, and Mr Burke's despatches, addressed to the Committee, and I trust that the celerity with which I forward the messenger will be sufficient excuse for its imperfect compilation and clerical deficiencies.
W Wright, Officer in Charge.